TALE SPIN: SUB-MEDITERRANEAN SEAWRECK BALOO

Fan-fiction story by jb

Disclaimer: The following story is based on the television series, characters and situations created by Jymn Magon & Mark Zaslove, Tale Spin © 1990, 1991 Walt Disney Company/Buena Vista Television. Fan-fiction story and non-Tale Spin characters are creations of the author and may not be used without permission. This is a work of fan-fiction using characters and property of the Walt Disney Company without consent and for non-profit use.

   

PART TWELVE

 

            Rebecca adjusted the front drawstrings of her white cotton poet nightshirt into a bow where the V-neckline was trimmed with a Battenburg lace collar, had pleated cuffs and the shirttail hem hung above her knees. She still felt some of the bruises Katie had given her in the ship’s gymnasium, but all in all was glad that they managed to resolve their differences.

            If only, she thought, it wasn’t so darn painful…

            She had prepared her stateroom for the two vixens with an extra cot that Myra said she would take while Katie would occupy the other bed opposite of Rebecca’s. The Aridian was brushing her hair and wearing burgundy paisley burnished satin rayon pajamas that gave off a soft, silken lustre in the light.

            After fixing her nightshirt, the she-bear noticed near Myra ’s cot was a lute-like instrument next to her small overnight case.

            “That lute,” she asked the archaeologist, “do you play?”

            “It’s an oud,” Myra said, finishing her brushing and placing the hairbrush in her case. “It belonged to my grandfather. He taught me how to play when I was little. I take it wherever I travel to remind me of home. I admit, my playing isn’t very good –”

            “Oh, she’s just being modest,” said Katie who emerged from the bathroom just then. “This lady can play the oud that would put Orpheus to shame.”

            Rebecca looked at the tall vixen’s nightdress. Speaking of modesty…

            Katie wore a sheer black bias-cut silk sleeping gown with a navy blue and violet burnout floral velvet pattern that teasingly covered the strategic areas of her chest and lower torso. The neckline was low-cut in the back; the front bodice featured a slit framed with black lace just below her bust and the ruffled shoulder straps were accented with an adjusting blue satin bow ribbon, including pinked seams and a rolled hemline.

            The negligee was flimsy enough to see almost everything, making the businesswoman, despite looking quite feminine in her nightshirt; feel a little bit…well, inadequate.

            Cellophane wrap is less revealing than that, she thought.

            Oh, please, the voice in her head responded. What about those sheer things in your lingerie drawer you haven’t worn in a dog’s age back home, Miss Bluenose?...

            Come to think on it, it has been awhile since I wore them. Too bad – maybe I should often…provided there was anyone worth wearing them for…

            “C’mon, Myra,” Katie continued as she strutted over to her bed while Rebecca ran these thoughts, “play us something…how about my favourite – the one you played in the room we shared at Foxford University a couple of years back during our residency there?”

            “Oh…okay,” conceded the petite vixen, putting on her glasses and taking the oud onto her lap as she sat on the edge of her cot. After a little tuning and a strum of one riff, she played Chanson Anonyme. Here and there, she melodically hummed along to the tune before finishing her roommates applauded enthusiastically.

            “Bravo, Doctor,” said Rebecca. “If you ever get tired of archaeology, there’s always the concert stage.”

            “No thanks,” Myra blushed. “My only audiences are for my family and friends... another tune, ladies?”

            “Please,” Rebecca and Katie encouraged.

            Myra played a couple of more songs, one traditional Aridian praise song about a national poet-hero and J.S. Bach’s Air on a ‘G’-String which they thoroughly enjoyed. The evening then drifted into swapping stories, the universal experiences that all women go through that helped the ladies bond so much closer together.

            “…and that, girls,” concluded Katie, “is why I never became a volleyball player.”

            The trio laughed until the she-bear stopped abruptly, reacting to a sharp pain in her lower back.

            “What’s wrong?” Myra inquired.

            “I think I got whacked a little too hard down there.” Rebecca winced, rubbing her sore spot tenderly.

            “Sorry about that,” Katie said, crawling off her bed and going over to the she-bear. Kneeling behind her, she moved her hands down her back. “Maybe I can help. Is it…here?”

            Feeling about, Katie hit the right spot to which Rebecca drew in air sharply between her teeth.

            “Y-yes!!”

            “Okay, now…” the vixen instructed, now strategically but gently placing one hand on the sore spot and the other arm wrapped around  the she-bear’s upper chest, “…hold real still.”

            “Alright,” Rebecca said tentatively. What’s she going to do?...

            With a swift jerk upwards, Katie pushed the businesswoman’s spine forwards, followed by a crick and a sharp twinge that she gave out a short yelp. The archaeologist then let go of her.

            “Well?” she asked.

            The pain that had bothered her had disappeared, much to the she-bear’s surprised delight.

            “Better…thanks,” she replied, rotating both shoulder blades freely. “My back hasn’t felt that good since I had my daughter. Did you learn that from Master Yuen?”

            “No, from a Macadamian camel driver. He liked his steeds with straight backs.”

            Rebecca chuckled. It had been far too long since she had the pleasure of being with like-minded women again. With running Higher for Hire and raising Molly, she kept a very small circle of friends. It was a little strange, but not unpleasant to expand it to include the curvaceous vixen she once felt … a little uncomfortable around.

             “You know, this is really fun,” she commented. “It’s kind of like a slumber party.”

            “Same for me,” said Myra . “I shared a room with two other sisters growing up.”

            “Not me,” Katie said. “I was an only child and never experienced those kinds of things, not even during my university or post-graduate days. Spent most of my life roaming all over the globe with my folks, then on my own. I’ve had some problems with being social with other people – or being polite.”

            “No offence, Katie,” said Rebecca. “But I find that very hard to believe that for someone that…”

            “…looks the way I do?” she finished. “Believe me; I can be anti-social at times, especially when it comes to men. Most of them just look at this,” casting a hand over her svelte figure, “and they got one thing on their minds. It became easy to just alienate myself and concentrate on my career…that was, until I met Baloo.”

            Rebecca was caught off guard with that remark. W-what’s that supposed to mean?

            “Meaning…?” she said, raising an eyebrow.   

            “Relax,” the vixen chuckled a little. “It isn’t what you think. Surely, he’s told you how we first met?”

            “Only the main points. Something about an archaeological find in a desert somewhere with Louie, both trying to see if they could get the treasure and the girl at the same time,” she ended with a smirk.

             “Well… that much is true, he and Louie did act like a couple of girl-crazy buffalo, but in the end they proved to be real friends, something I hadn’t had before. Although I have to say, I didn’t show that much of a proper appreciation for them last time.”

            “So nothing really…happened?”

            “Other than getting my respect, trust and gratitude – no.”

            Rebecca felt relieved for some reason.

            Besides, Katie thought, you don’t want to know what I was feeling at the hotel room back in Cape Suzette after my date with Baloo. That’s not for sharing with anyone…

            “Can I be candid with you, Rebecca?”

            “Okay.”
            “Do you want to know the real reason why I wanted to hire Baloo to be part of the recovery expedition for the Cache of Molta?...”

            “I…assumed it was because you’re old friends and you trust him?”

            “That, plus I’ve heard from…certain circles that he was now working for, and I quote; some ‘pushy dame whose got a collar on him,’ unquote.”

            Rebecca felt offended by that statement. Who says I got a collar on him?...

            “I was curious. So I headed for Cape Suzette and since Khan has a reputation of getting what he wants, I knew he could solicit Baloo into doing this job. And how much this so-called ‘pushy dame’ had…grounded him, if you will.”

             “And…?”

            The alpine vixen folded her arms across her chest and smiled.

            “I have to say, I’m impressed with the both of you.”

            The businesswoman was taken aback by this compliment. “M-me?”

            “Yes. Rebecca, the guy I met years ago in Ghaphia was definitely a different person compared to the one I went on the town with that night back at the Cape . We had an actual conversation over a decent meal and he taught me how to dance, something I’ve never thought I’d enjoy in my lifetime. Something must have changed him to behave like a…well, a gentleman.”

            And who came so close to sweeping me off my feet that night…

            “Trust me, Katie…Baloo’s not that perfect. You’ve seen his bedside manner, but you’ve never seen his bad side manner. He can be lazy, crude, messy, egotistical…”

            “So then why put up with him?” asked the vixen coyly. Besides, have you never heard of “opposites attract”? Every schoolchild knows that one…

            Rebecca narrowed her eyes. “Are we going to go through that again?”

            “Oh, come now,” said Myra , who’d been silent during this whole conversation. “You both work together all the time and calling you ‘Becky’ and ‘Beckers’ has to be some kind of term of endearment.”

            “And sometimes it’s downright annoying,” she muttered, then said: “look, girls…Baloo and I…we’re just very good friends and business associates and that’s about it. Besides, he’s…really not my type.”

            “You should meet my parents. My mother’s Aridian, my father’s Britannian. Two totally different people and from different cultures, yet they’ve been married for forty-seven years and still in love. Compatibility isn’t everything.”

            “It…it is for me,” Rebecca said pointedly. Feeling a little constricted in her throat and her lower lip trembling for some reason, she stepped away from the vixens, heading towards the window and looked out of it. Myra sensed she’d hit a nerve, but delicately decided to press on.

            “Why?”

            The she-bear continued staring out the window and sighed.

            “I…I was married once. I met my husband in university. It all seemed idyllic at the time. He was everything I wanted: smart, funny, kind and loving…practically got engaged by our junior year, had the wedding straight after graduation and Molly a year later.”

            “So what happened?” Katie asked.

            “I don’t know…two-and-a-half years later, I was dusting the living room in the house we lived in one day and I came across my university diploma hanging on the wall with my bachelor’s degree in business. I looked at it for the longest time and said to myself: ‘For this, I went to business school, being a housewife??’ It was right there and then I wanted something more from my life that just cooking, cleaning, washing and raising kids.”

            “When I discussed about going to get my MBA through night school…my husband wasn’t entirely thrilled about the idea. He told me I already had a job – being a wife and mother.”

“Oooh – ouch,” interjected the redhead.

“Exactly,” Rebecca continued. “I said that I didn’t work my butt off for four years to get my very hard-earned diploma in business just to end up waxing floors and ironing shirts forever. Even though I would pay for the course and all that, he said he wanted someone that’ll be there for him at the end of the working day from his nine-to-five accounting job, not someone who’ll give him a ‘part-time’ marriage.”

            “I told him that marriage was about give and take and he had to do the same, but it all went downhill from there. He started coming home late…discovered his shirts had the scent of heavy perfume on them and he denied anything was going on. Then, he went on a business trip one day and I got a separation letter from a lawyer, from goodness knows where a week later. The jerk didn’t even give me the chance to contest our marriage or anything like that.”

 “Six months afterwards, I got my…divorce papers, practically leaving me with next to nothing, other than the house that we lived in. Not even child support or alimony. I haven’t seen nor heard from him since…”

 Quiet fell in the room in the pause that followed as the she-bear gulped. There…I finally said it after all this time. That dreaded D-word…

            “Rebecca…” Myra said quietly. “I…I’m so sorry.”

“Me too,” added Katie.

“Hey… I have no regrets, really – not now, anyway. I think we got married too young…but it sure wasn’t easy telling Molly, who was three-and-a-half at the time, that her daddy wasn’t going to live with us anymore and that she had to keep it a secret from people we didn’t know well enough. But by then, my father got sick. So I sold the house and got whatever money I could get from it, moved back with my parents and juggled between being his nurse and getting my MBA for the next eighteen months until Dad died. After all of that, I decided to make a clean break and move back to Cape Suzette for a brand new start.”

“You’re a stalwart woman, Rebecca Cunningham,” Katie commented. “But, you know, most women are always trying to find that ‘Mister Right’ or wait for him to show up and most of the times, it’s not realistic. You took charge of your life, while many in your position wouldn’t have. Bravo.”

 Yes, the she-bear thought, but still, the idea of having someone would be nice…

“Well, I don’t need that anymore,” she said, returning back to her friends and flopping onto Katie’s bed. “I’ve learned how to be my own saviour.”

            “Even if it gets lonely?” asked Myra .

            “Sometimes.”

            “I used to think that too,” said Katie. “After Ghaphia, I learned that sometimes I need a little help from my friends. I realized at that time that the older I get, it does tend to get…lonely out in the field after awhile.”
            Rebecca looked at her. She’s got the body that could stop traffic on land, air and water. How could someone like her possibly get lonely?

            “You don’t look it.”

            “Hey, last time I checked, I’m still a woman. I like dressing up as well. I put on one silk stocking at a time, just like you do. The khaki outfit’s got to come off sooner or later, even if it is hard to be treated with respect like a person and a professional in skirts, let alone in slacks.”

            “Sister…I know what you mean.”

            The archaeologist then put her arm around the businesswoman’s shoulder and smiled warmly. “So you see, Rebecca…you, Myra and I aren’t any different to lots of women out there. But you’re luckier than most to have a friend like Baloo who’s around.”

            Luckier? That’s open for debate…

            “Don’t you ever see him as a man, even sometimes?” Myra asked.

            Rebecca reflected on that last statement. As inundated with immaturities as her pilot was, he was interesting to be with. Conning her sometimes to detour to Louie’s… …going out to the movies with the kids…dining and dancing with him on occasion. But she could never call some of those things they did together as dating. More like the term she used with Molly, going out together. It didn’t sound like it was something serious back then.

Now, that term seemed a bit silly and blushed at that.

            “He can be…fun to be with, Myra . But as I said, we’re just very good friends. Besides, I don’t think I wouldn’t have the time to be anything more. I got a business to run and child to look after – ”

“You got to have a life, too,” Katie interjected. “Then again, I could say the same for myself, being a working girl and all that.”

“Same here,” added Myra .

            “But, do we really need men in our lives to feel complete and accomplished?” mused Rebecca.

 A sea of silence floated as all three ladies contemplated on this, which they all responded in unison:

            “Naaaahhhhh!”

              Laughter followed.

 

           

            Their merriment could be heard down the corridor, right to where Baloo and Kit’s stateroom was. Kit rolled over onto his stomach and sighed. The old saying is true, he thought. ‘Put three women together and you get a noise.’

            “Sounds like they’re cluckin’ it up at the ol’ hen party tonight,” muttered the pilot.

            “Papa Bear,” asked the navigator, not too surprised that he was awakened by the ladies’ mirth as well, “what could be so darn funny to make women laugh like that?”

            “Whatever it is that makes gals laugh like that, Kit. Like I said back there, who can figger ‘em out anyways?”

Kit thought about that. “Ah…so, how come we don’t make jokes about them?”

            “‘Cuz there ain’t nothin’ funny ‘bout ‘em, Ace.”

             Both males snickered in the dark.

 

      

            Down a gilded staircase Rebecca descended with grace and style, all eyes in the fancy-looking ballroom focused on her. Although everyone and everything was in black and white, her glowing gold-lame taffeta evening gown with a flower décolleté-centred from the straps at each side around her neck and pleated hem and trail with a front slit was the only thing in colour here and she knew it with smug satisfaction. 

            A bandoneon’s chords began the strands, in which the rest of the ballroom orchestra soon followed with an Arabesque version of “Tango Jalousie.” As the dancers gathered on the floor, the businesswoman casually looked around until a well-dressed gentlemanly figure approached her, his features concealed in shadows and lights.

            Their eyes met, no words were spoken.

            He offered his hand…

           She understood by answering with a sultry look from under her eyelashes…

          Stepping theatrically into the tall, dark stranger’s arms, they tangoed across the floor to the rhythm with expertise and passionate movements that made them the centre of attention.

            As they danced, Rebecca felt her heartbeat quicken dancing with her mystery partner. There was something in his presence, his moves that set her mind at ease, something so familiar about him…

            And something that felt so…so right…

            When her partner dipped her at the end of music, it made her aflame with desire in her soul. The other dancers applauded but she didn’t hear the clapping. It was all just her and her dancing partner, whose face slowly became more and more recognizable.

            The she-bear’s face broke into a delightedly demure smile, as she gently caressed his muzzle and expelled a pleasurable sigh.

            “Oh, Baloo…” 

 

               

            Rebecca’s eyes popped wide open.

            She gently rose from her pillow; her pulse still beating rapidly and a faint trace of perspiration that made her nightshirt cling to her body. Looking over her roommates in the dark, Katie was lightly snoring while Myra had one arm draped over her eyes, mumbling incoherently in her sleep.

            She looked at the nightstand clock, reading two o’clock in the morning.

            Needing to clear her head, Rebecca got out of bed, stepped into her fluffy white slippers and put on her purple bathrobe with the white hem and cuffs, loosely tying it up. Grabbing her stateroom key, the she-bear walked toward the door, unlocked it and stepped out, locking it behind her.

            Walking along the Prowler’s lit corridors; she could hear the ship’s engines running. Passing by some of the nightshift sailors, they politely acknowledged her and she in turn replied the same. Frankly, the businesswoman was impressed with the seamen’s manners, considering their reputations with women.

            Earlier, Katie had told her that they were under specific orders to be on their best behaviour towards them while they were onboard. No catcalls, whistling or indecent comments, said a communiqué from Khan himself via Captain Hotspur – or else.

             That tiger’s word can be far-reaching, Rebecca thought. And with that, it gave her a most unpleasant shiver up her spine...

            Walking casually along the deck, she looked upward at the full moon and the constellations that sparkled above. The last time she looked at the night sky like this was when Captain Stansbury had romanced her at Louie’s Place. His ghost no longer haunted her memory and within a few months after that encounter, she’d sold the painting of him that had been hanging in her room without regret. Too many memories attached to it.

            He promised he’d wait for her. But…could she wait for him?  

            Don’t be so ridiculous, Rebecca…promises from a dead man are about as reliable as those marriage vows from that no-good ex of mine. Or the other men since that have come and gone…

            She stopped by the railing, leaned over and stared at the still-dark horizon. In that while, she went over that…dream she’d just had. At first she dismissed it with all that talk over Baloo that filled up her head and just subconsciously planted itself.

            Then she guiltily confessed to herself: It’s not the first time I’ve dreamt of him like…that.

            The businesswoman then made a mental list comparing her pilot with her ex-husband, but it was no use. Neither one was anything like the other...

            However, she agreed that her ex wasn’t as worldly-wise as Baloo, or had an adventurous spirit or jocular sense of humour, all of which she’d come to appreciate even if it occasionally drove her up the wall with his laidback attitude to life. In the beginning she tried to change that, mostly not succeeding. But she had learned that sometimes his mannerisms proved to be more of a benefit in certain situations and strangely enough, often she found them…endearing.

            I wonder…if I had pushed it enough, would a certain…“spark” about him diminish? And what kind of a pilot would I have then?...I’d hate to think of the consequences. I may get a better worker perhaps, but not a better…friend.

            Plus he is a much better dancer than my ex-husband, she wryly added.

            Over time, he was a lot more understanding and respectful of her goals and dreams, even her privacy. Baloo knew full well when to leave certain…things alone with her personal life from the very beginning, for which she was grateful.

She had earned a certain comfort level with him and admitted she kind of liked the way he called her ‘Becky;’ a name she detested being called since she was a child, not even allowing her ex to call her that. That pilot had a way of making her feel good to be alive again with just his presence alone, knowing that he was around.

Happy, really…

Yet two years later, she still hadn’t told him that she was a divorcée and she had made the archaeologists promise not to say anything about it as well. It probably wouldn’t matter any more now, but she still had her doubts.

            What did I ever do to deserve this guy in my life?...

            A warm sea breeze whipped up on deck and flew apart her bathrobe folds. She’d forgotten that she’d loosely tied the belt around her waist due to feeling a little hot. But fluttering in the breeze and the moonlight shining an aura-like radiance with some translucence on her nightshirt, Rebecca suddenly felt very sensual in this setting.

            Closing her eyes, she basked in the moment until…

            “Nice evenin’, ain’t it?”

            Quickly reopening her eyes, she turned to the voice.

            “Baloo!” she gasped, hurriedly grasping her robe together when she noticed he was eyeing her in her poet nightshirt. “Wh-what are you doing on deck??”

            “Same as you, probably gettin’ some air,” he yawned with a stretch. He was wearing a blue bathrobe and matching slippers, embroidered in white with the words S.S. Prowler near the lapel. “Mind if I join ya?”

“N-n-no, not at all…Couldn’t sleep really.”

            “Me neither,” the pilot said, standing next to her and leaning forward on the railing, looking out at the Sub-Mediterranean. “Kit’s mutterin’ in his sleep, goin’ on ‘bout that ‘Lita gal. Sounds like he’s got it real bad for her, Beckers.”

            “I thought nothing but a dinner bell would wake you from a snooze, Baloo,” she said sarcastically.

            “I wouldn’t talk, lady. You an’ Katie workin’ up yerselves inta a tizzy over nothin’ in the gym. No wonder yer all keyed up from sleepin’.”

            If you only knew what got me keyed up from sleeping in the first place, Fly Boy.

            “By the way…nice jammies ya got on.”

            Rebecca blushed and turned her head, shielding her face with her hand.

 “Oh, lordy…” she moaned. I knew I shouldn’t have worn such a skimpy nightie…

            “What s’matter? I thought you looked like an angel in the moonlight.”

            Her heart fluttered at that compliment.

 “Umm…thank you,” she said shyly, hiding an inveigled smile. When did he start waxing poetic?...

            A naked angel in the moonlight, he thought but dared not say it.

            Uncomfortably clearing his throat, the pilot found something else to change the subject. “Stars sure do look pretty tonight, don’t they, huh?”

            “Yes,” she quickly agreed, but feeling less inhibited around him and gently released her grip on the bathrobe lapels. “You know, I used to do a lot of star-gazing as a little girl back home. There was this one place in Cape Suzette called…um…”

            “Are ya talkin’ ‘bout The Peak, Becky?”

            Rebecca gave a surprised look at Baloo, that he would remember The Peak. It was a three hundred and seventy-three metre high mountainous plateau swathed with trees and flora that gave a panoramic view of the city-state and beyond its hills. It had a tram system that could take one up and down the Peak and at night, the neon-dotted skyline was a view to behold.

            “Why, yes! How’d you know?!”

            “My daddy use ta take me up there when I was a cub. Taught me ev’rythin’ I know ‘bout the night sky.”

            “Is that so?” she smirked, looking for a challenge to stump him. “Then…where’s Gemini?”

            “I can’t find it...”

            “Ha!” she said with her arms crossed and a smug look on her face. “So much for your knowledge, Fly Boy!”

            “…I was gonna say, Beckers, that’s ‘cuz we’re in the Northern Hemisphere an’ it’s summertime. You can only see it in this parta the world durin’ the spring an’ winter.”

            Her smile deflated on those words.

            “Really? I…I didn’t know that. Sorry.”

            “Every pilot worth their salt oughta know those things. It’s how we navigate without a map…like me ta show ya how?”

            “Yes, please,” Rebecca said with genuine interest, adding a small smile.

            For the next fifteen minutes or so, Baloo pointed out the constellations to his employer who asked and quizzed him on occasion. She was impressed with how much he knew about the stars. Before long, the pilot had inadvertently placed his arm around her shoulder that she barely noticed in that period of time or even that they were standing intimately close. Neither of them did.

            “Baloo,” she asked after awhile, “how is it that someone who can find his way around the night sky can be so inept of navigating a simple cargo route between the Cape and New Fedora?”

            “Sure, durin’ the daytime I couldn’t find my own ears without Kit navigatin’ by my side, Boss Lady. But when you’ve logged in as many hours at night as I have an’ ya only got the stars ta guide ya, it’s a piece o’ cake.”   

            “Really, now? Maybe I should have you run night flights more often, Fly Boy,” she joked.

            He repressed a shudder. Perish the thought…

            “But you know what’s really interesting about the stars, Baloo? Take those ones over there,” Rebecca pointed out and traced a pattern of stars with her index finger to make a large ladle-shaped image in the air. “The Ursa Major – better known as the Big Dipper…it’s right next to its companion, the Ursa Minor. Isn’t it strange for two bodies to be so close, yet so far away?”

            “No, it ain’t, Beckers.”

            “Oh, yeah? Then tell me where the Ursa Minor is, smarty.”

            “Lessee,” he said softly with a big smile, haphazardly moving his finger about the sky and then playfully touching the tip of Rebecca’s nose. “Right here, shorty.”

            “Oh, you!” she giggled, with him laughing along as well.

            As they both stopped their gaiety, it was just then that she realised that his arm was tenderly draped around her, feeling a warm, tingly feeling inside and slid her hand gently on his chest. Baloo noticed it too, but didn’t let go of her and felt the same way. Looking at each other in silence, time seemed to stand still around them...

            Wow…who woulda thought ol’ Beckers would look like a babe in a nightie? If only she didn’t have those silly-lookin’ slippers on...
            Mmm…I never knew Baloo’s eyes would look so…dreamy in the starlight…

            Pulled toward by some kind of unexplainable magnetism, the two bears slowly drew their muzzles together, eyes half-closed, mouths parting, until a voice in each others’ heads alerted:

            HEY!!! Snap out of it!!!

            As if awoken by a jolt, they stopped abruptly, politely backed off a pace and regained their composures.

            “Um…ah…I-I…uh,” stammered the she-bear uncomfortably and closing up her bathrobe again, “I…I think I’ve had enough of sea air and star-gazing for tonight.” Get a hold of yourself, Cunningham! It-it’s just the moonlight talking!...

            “Yeah, me too,” said Baloo, clearing his throat and running a finger around the collar of his nightshirt timorously as if it was tight around his neck. Cool yer engines there, Ace! Have ya gone wakka-wakka?!...

            “Better get some o’ that ol’ shuteye…ah, after you, Becky.”

            “Th-thank you.”

            Going in the same direction but respected distances, two heartbeats quickened as they walked back to their staterooms, trying not to eye each other and forget all about what had almost transpired between them just now.

            If they could…

 

 

            Closing the stateroom door behind her, Rebecca leaned back on it and sighed heavily, burying her face in her hands. I can’t believe I just flirted with my own pilot! Rebecca Audrey Cunningham, what were you thinking?!...

            She heard a toilet flush and the rush of water rinsing in a sink. The businesswoman looked around to see that Myra ’s cot was empty while Katie was still sound asleep and snoring.

            Oh well, at least she’s not a heavy snorer…she’d probably feel right at home in Baloo’s bedroom...

            Now why did that forbidden thought sent a wave of insecurity through her?

            “Rebecca,” whispered the diminutive vixen, as she stepped out from the bathroom. “What are you doing out of bed?”

            “I thought…a little fresh air might do me some good,” she whispered back, kicking off her slippers, removing her bathrobe and climbing back under the sheets.

            “What’s the matter? You look all flustered.”

            “I-I do?” 

She patted her face, feeling a little bit hot to the touch. “Must be…the warm breeze from outside.”

            “Hmm…you look like someone who just secretly took a midnight skinny-dip in a desert oasis,” Myra commented as she got into her cot.

            “And what do you know about skinny-dipping in desert oases at midnight, Doctor?”

            Please,” she chortled, “Let my grave hold some secrets.”

            A pillow flew out of nowhere in the dark and struck Myra on the head. 

“Good night, Myra ,” growled Rebecca playfully, as the room filled with their quiet snickering. 

 

 

Baloo shivered under the showering stream of water in his bathroom, with the cold tap put on full force for a good three minutes until the emotions of that encounter up on deck with Rebecca was totally numbed from out of his system.

Finally calming down, the ace pilot shut off the tap tightly, stepped out of the shower stall, grabbed a towel and dried himself vigorously until he felt warm again. Picking up the nightshirt that he’d hastily tossed off when he entered the bathroom, he put it back on and let out a deep sigh.

Man oh man, I can’t believe I was flirtin’ with the Boss Lady! Baloo Aloysius von Bruinwald, what were ya thinkin’?!...

 Re-entering the room, he plodded back to his bed.

“Hey, Baloo…why were you taking a shower at…” Kit began, then squinting at his wristwatch in disbelief, “two-thirty in the morning??”

“Sorry, L’il Britches…didn’t mean ta wake ya,” he apologized, getting under the sheets. “Felt a l’il hot an’ just thought a cold shower might help.”

“Doesn’t feel hot in here…and didn’t you just come back from a walk on deck?”

“Like I said…thought I’d take a cold shower.”

“What happened,” joked the navigator, “saw a dishy mermaid out there?”

“More like an angel,” murmured the large pilot.

“Huh?”

“Nuthin’, Kit. G’night.”

“ ‘Night.” 

Turning over, Baloo laid awake. He took some stock of what had happened between him and Rebecca just recently, realizing that sometimes it was hard to block out particular…feelings about her.

There was more to her than the way she’d dress, what a good dancer she was or her sense of adventure she took in whatever she tackled. He always liked a woman with spunk. There were other things – the ability to forgive his occasional screw-ups; those battles of wits and arguments, then forgetting about them; her rare bouts of playfulness; her sense of grace and more that he couldn’t list for the moment.

Before she literally barged into his life two years ago, all he ever cared about was flying and having a good time. Only worked whenever he felt like it and winning air show competitions was how he’d earn his living, kept his business going and Wildcat in his employ.

All the sudden, as if fate intervened; a plucky young airplane-loving orphan entered the picture one day. Then the collapse of his business, followed by a bossy, know-it-all lady with her five year-old kid in tow; announcing she’s bought out his business and plane, now barking orders at him and whatnot.

 His life had changed within just forty-eight hours...

 And in all honesty, it frightened him a little in the beginning. But over time, all three of them had slowly moulded him to become a better pilot, a better role model, a better friend. A better person at that.

            But it was Rebecca who kept him in check, just as much as the kids did, even if at times she’d drive him up the wall with all her perfectionism and bureaucratic nuances he spent building a healthy rebellion against all his life. And now, he seemed more content than he’d ever been, giving him a sense of stability and family.

            There was something about her that made him feel…complete.

            Becky…

            He admitted for the first time to himself that neither he nor Rebecca had ever talked about their relationship, personal-wise. It wasn’t that he was curious or afraid of what she really thought about of him.

            It was more of what he really thought about of her.

       

 

            The underwater hydraulic lift had been lowered into the waters as soon as the sun poked over the Sub-Mediterranean horizon. The ship’s crewmembers worked fervently to make sure it worked right. Overlooking from one of the upper decks of the Prowler loomed two ominous figures, one looking majestic at the scene with an air of confidence and greed.

            “So, that is the big machine-type doohickey that will be dredging up the Cache of Molta…” said Don Karnage to himself. “Impressive. Most impressive, yes-no?”

            “How long will it take, Cap’n?” asked Mad Dog.

            “Maybe a few hours. Have all our men are into their receptacle positions?...”

            “Aye, Cap’n.”

            “Is the Iron Vulture standing by at the Dingalingy Cliffs?...”

            “Aye, Cap’n. All standin’ by, a-waitin’ your word.”

            “Perfect!” Karnage said, as they casually headed toward their engine room assignments. “This time, Mad Dog, we shall not fail!”

                                                                                           

                                                End of Part Twelve

Back to TaleSpin Fiction