Eternal Forest - 3 - Weekend with the King
EF-23 Cookies Can Make You Do Anything
Dipper nommed on the chocolate chip cookie that his mom had included as a dessert in his lunch bag. "Delicious. Mom knows what I like." Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm...
Raoul quietly giggled as he watched Dipper get all gaga eyed over the cookie. "Um... Dipper? My uncle King... asked me to... ask you... if you would... like to... come over to our place this weekend and... help make fresh cookies. Uncle King says... it's for an ultimate cookie recipe contest. First prize is... ten thousand dollars and... your name and picture... on the package of the new cookies. Uncle King says... we need the money... since his dancing job... isn't doing so well."
Dipper turned his gaze toward the arctic folf who was normally near silent. "You guys want me to come help make cookies? I'd love to help! But... I'll have to get permission from Uncle Star first."
Bobby smiled over at Dipper. "If Dipper's picture appears on a package of cookies, I'll be all over it."
Dipper grinned. "Not if I eat them before they leave the factory." He winked and giggled.
EF-24 Friends Don't Let Friends Suffer
Come Saturday morning, with Bobby in tow, Stargazer along with Birch, Aurora, and Dipper drove over to the Woulfe household on the other side of town. It was an interesting property, since Dipper and Bobby had never been there before, which had a modest one story home on one end of the property and on the other end was what appeared to be a miniature outdoor stage and amphitheater. In Kingston's younger days, he would conduct plays on the stage for the enjoyment of all of their neighbors. Now, it saw almost no use at all, save for the few times when Kingston would use it to practice choreography maneuvers and to hone his performance skills.
Seeing that stage gave Birch ideas immediately, but that was not why Stargazer had brought them over here for.
They parked the car and approached the house. Aurora was carrying a picnic basket full of dry goods and necessary supplies. When she heard that Kingston had lost his job at the club, she wanted to do something for him. They were friends after all.
Stargazer rang the doorbell and then they waited for a reply. It didn't take long when the door was opened to reveal Kingston Woulfe in the clothes of an old world bard with a surprised look on his face.
"Stargazer? And your family?" said Kingston in some surprise. "Why are you all here?"
Aurora replied, "Kingston... when Dipper told us what was going on with you, we decided that we wanted to help you. I brought you some supplies..." and then she forcefully added, "...and before you complain, listen to me. You will allow me to help you because you helped me some years ago during our school plays. You never asked for anything in return and now you need help. And you are going to let us help you. And that's that."
Aurora then smiled. "Or do you want me to turn you over my knee?"
Kingston grinned back in that arctic fox sort of manner. "And what would Dan say about your playing with me while he is off defending freedom?" He winked. "I never could say no to you, Aurora. Please come inside. All of you. Raoul and I were in the kitchen getting things ready."
Then Birch grabbed Kingston's arm. "Say Kingston... how much would you rent your stage out for the Beach Bears use during our practice sessions? We can pay you since anyone else would do the same thing. Because you need the money... how about it?"
Kingston said, "I'll be reasonable, but you have to let me help you guys to hone your acting and performing technique on stage. As Aurora can vouch for, it is the one thing I am really good at."
EF-25 The Way to Poverty
While the boys were inside with Raoul, Birch was looking over the near perfect stage picturing in his mind just how they could use this wonderful set up. Stargazer and Aurora stood near Kingston as they watched Birch from the deck of the house.
Aurora quietly asked, "King, just how did you lose your job at the club? I know you have often said it wasn't the job you wanted to do, but it was the only one hiring. So what happened?"
Kingston sighed and looked at the Borealis siblings. "Another dancer started using the club to hide his stash of drug paraphernalia. He even had some hidden in the club owner's safe. The only place he didn't have drugs stored at was within my locker which I always kept locked and I was the only one with a key. It was my last day off and I got a call from the club owner asking me to come in to unlock my locker. He said the police wanted to search it. Since I was with my nephew, I drove us both over there and opened the locker for them. Naturally, my locker was the only clean locker in the club. Their drug sniffing specialist gave me and my locker the all-clear and then they proceeded to search the rest of the club."
He then looked down at the ground. "That's when the club owner told me that the police were closing the club and for me not to come back the next day. He gave me all he had in his wallet and told me to go home and take care of Raoul. Of course everyone at the club knew of my dealings with the FBI and of my deal to take care of Raoul. Other dancers who were also going to be out of work wanted me to accept money from them. I felt awful since I knew they needed it more. I left there with a little over a thousand dollars in charity donations... for Raoul."
Stargazer said, "I had no idea, King. Why didn't you tell us sooner? You know we are your friends."
Kingston sighed again. "I was depressed and feeling sorry for myself, Star. I didn't want to make my problem your problem. Then I saw this cookie baking contest and I thought... if I won that, I would have money for a year to take care of Raoul. But all I really want to do is what I am good at... dancing, performing, and teaching choreography. And no one is hiring. Not even the schools."
Aurora hummed as she turned to look at Stargazer, then over at the stage where Birch was smiling and wandering all over the stage itself. "Then we'll just have to hire you, King. Dan would never want you to be unable to take care of your nephew. Besides, I owe you for the help you gave me in the past."
The arctic fox lifted his muzzle and nodded his slowly. "Okay. But only until I can find something better." He then smiled. "Besides, if I said no, Birch would likely wring my neck. He looks like he's in love with that stage. I hope he doesn't get any splinters."
EF-26 Cubs in the Kitchen
Raoul Woulfe slowly stirred one bowl of cookie dough as he smiled timidly at both Bobby Thornbody and Dipper Draper who were preparing a cookie dough bowl of their own. "..Um, thanks for coming, Dipper. Uncle King... says that cookies taste better when you help make them."
Bobby grinned at the folf boy nodded his head. "It's true. My mom says that too."
Dipper was measuring recipe ingredients into the bowl. "This will be my first batch. I don't think anyone has ever asked me to help make cookies before. So I am excited over this opportunity."
Raoul smiled as he came over close to Dipper and... gave him a small kiss before backing off and focusing on his bowl of cookie dough. "That... is... to thank you... for... dealing with that bully the other day..." He was blushing again.
Dipper was rather... shocked... that Raoul had done that. But he shrugged it off since it was only a method of thanks. Still... he was starting to get curious on why Raoul did that. Instead, however, he said, "Time to add in the chocolate kisses... chips. I mean chips. Yeah." He was now thinking, Stop it, bear. Just because he thinks you're his hero is no reason to get all mushy. Just focus on making the cookies. We need to talk to Uncle Star about this later. He'll know what's up. I hope.
Bobby however was starting to giggle because he could see that Dipper was also blushing. "These will make great cookies. Maybe we can make some Dutch cookies next?" He on the other paw was thinking, This is going to make a GREAT story! I can't wait to write about this day on my computer!
Raoul sighed as he spooned the cookie dough on to the cookie sheet. He was starting to look like he had done something wrong. At least his muzzle expression seemed to be screaming that. Then he placed the cookie sheet into the pre-heated oven and set the timer. When he was done with that, he glanced at Dipper and Bobby and spoke in a trembling voice, "I'm s-s-sorry, guys." And then he ran out and around the corner, vanishing from sight.
Both Bobby and Dipper blinked their eyes. They had no idea what had happened, honestly. Fortunately, the adults came back inside at that moment and Dipper explained to Kingston what looked to have happened. He didn't know it all, unfortunately.
Kingston knelt down in front of Dipper and said, "He kissed you to thank you. But when you blushed in response, he thought he had hurt you. I'll go talk to him. You guys keep making cookies. I'll be right back." And he headed off toward Raoul's bedroom. Although Stargazer followed Kingston because he thought perhaps he could help somehow.
EF-27 My Hero My Love
Kingston and Stargazer arrived at and entered Raoul's bedroom where Stargazer got a surprise. There were pictures of Dipper, both drawn and band photos, nearly everywhere. Laying on his bed muzzle down in the pillow was Raoul, sobbing a bit.
Kingston slowly walked over and sat down on the edge of the bed and gently petted on the back of the folf's head. "It's okay, Raoul. You didn't hurt anyone. Wanna tell us what happened?"
Raoul was quietly heard muttering, "...he's my hero... I love him... I don' wanna hurt him... he protects me from the bully... in school..."
Kingston glanced up over his shoulder at Stargazer and mouthed, He does not mean love in that way. It is more a respect love. Then he turned to Raoul, petting the folf softly once again. "Come on, handsome. Let's get your face cleaned up and we'll heat up a brownie for you in the microwave."
Raoul slowly turned himself over and then he saw Stargazer's calm expression and he suddenly looked afraid again.
Stargazer knelt down and said, "It's okay, Raoul. I simply protect Dipper. And I know he cares about how you feel. You really like him, don't you?"
Raoul managed a smile and nodded his muzzle slowly. "...yes. He is so nice. The bullies shouldn't have said Dipper was a Care Bear. He's my hero. My superhero... like the pulp heroes of old." He was blushing cutely and it made him look so adorable too.
Stargazer quietly chuckled, "Don't tell him I said this, but I would love to see Dipper as a Care Bear. But sometimes, Dipper is my hero, too."
EF-28 Taste Testing
After returning Raoul to the kitchen, and Stargazer had assured Dipper and Bobby that everything was okay, the remaining cookie baking resumed. It wasn't long before each boy had a plate of cookies awaiting approval before them.
Aurora, Stargazer, Birch, and Kingston each took a cookie from Raoul's plate first and sampled it.
Mrs Draper said, "It appears to be a sugar cookie. Tender, sweet..." she paused as if trying to discern a certain taste. "Don't know what I'm tasting there... seems familiar..."
Raoul quietly offered, "Cinnamon, ma'am."
Aurora hummed and took another bite. "Of course. I can taste that now. Thank you, Raoul. This was a good cookie." She gently petted his head, causing the folf to blush a little.
Bobby's plate was next.
Birch sampled the cookie and said, "Oatmeal, I think... and raisins? Succulent, sweet... and..."
Bobby smiled. "Butterscotch."
Birch smiled at that. "Definitely adds a unique flavor to the oatmeal raisin cookie. Nice work, Bobby." He refrained from petting the porcupine since he didn't want needles in his hand, so he rubbed Bobby's chin a bit.
Now it was Dipper's plate. His first attempt at making his favorite cookies.
Stargazer took as bite and chewed for a moment before slowing and tilting his head up as he seemed to ponder what he might be tasting. Although he said nothing yet.
Kingston noticed that Stargazer was being mighty quiet, so he bit into his Dipper cookie. "Um, Dipper? Did you follow the recipe exactly?"
"Yes I did, Kingston," replied Dipper. "It's my first attempt at making cookies. How is it? I can take criticism. Tell me."
"I ask because I am tasting an overdose of Baking Soda," said Kingston. "Show me the measuring spoon you used to add in the baking soda, please."
Aurora and Birch tried theirs, having been forewarned about the taste.
Dipper was curious as to what the big deal was, then he noticed that Stargazer wasn't there anymore. "Where did Star go?" He showed Kingston the measuring spoon. "This was the one."
Kingston felt weird as he quickly figured out where Stargazer had gone as he felt the need to go there himself. "Dipper, that's a tablespoon, not a teaspoon. Excuse me for a minute. I'll be right back." And he headed off down the hall and rounded a corner.
Dipper looked at the other boys, then he started to look to his mom and Birch only to find the other remaining adults gone, too. "Where is everyone disappearing to?"
Raoul picked up one of Dipper's cookies and sniffed it as he tilted his head. Then he put it back down again. "Um, Dipper... show me the container you got the chocolate chips out of, please."
"It was empty, so I threw it into the trash," he replied, picking up one of his own cookies and eating it. "It doesn't taste bad to me." He ate two more in succession while Raoul and Bobby dug through the trash can.
Bobby pointed at a box. "That says chocolate, Raoul."
Raoul picked up the box and read it to himself. His eyes went wide as he showed it to Bobby, who in turn read the label out loud... "Fast Acting Chocolate Chip Flavored Laxatives."
Dipper was in the middle of the fourth cookie as he stopped mid-bite as he turned to look at the two and he grabbed the box and looked at it. "Oh no!" And as Dipper dropped the box and ran for the bathroom, Bobby grabbed the phone and dialed 9-1-1.
EF-29 Reflections from the Throne
After the paramedics had checked out Dipper to make sure he was not harmed by the accident, they gave him instructions to drink plenty of fluids until his desire to use the bathroom subsided. Then they departed. The adults had to endure being questioned by the police for a few minutes, but luckily they soon departed too.
Dipper was on round four while he sat on the porcelain throne with a container of bottled water in one hand. Stargazer was out in the hallway at the closed door trying to talk to him.
"Are you okay in there, Dipper?" asked Stargazer in that caring smooth manner in which he was known for.
"I guess so, Uncle Star," replied the young bear. "Is everyone else okay?"
"Yes, we're fine. We only had half a cookie. You ate three and a half before being stopped. Bobby called for help the moment they realized how serious this was. But it was an accident, Dipper. No one got hurt because of this. I hope you learned something."
"Always read the labels in full," replied Dipper as he felt more release. "I saw the words 'Chocolate Chip' and my mind just accepted it. Was it really Kingston's constipation medicine?"
"Yes, Dipper. A doctor had prescribed it to him. He had to lose some weight for a show and the doctor gave him that. It was fast acting. When you aren't suffering from constipation, it's super fast acting. But Dipper... Kingston feels worse about this than you do. He realizes that he shouldn't have left his medication where you could so easily find it. He was sad that you might not like him because of this. I tried to tell him that you would forgive him. Aurora is taking care of him. She has the mothers touch, you know."
Dipper managed a smile. "Yeah, mom is good at that. Was Bobby's and Raoul's cookies that good?"
Stargazer was heard to chuckle. "Well..." there was a pause as he looked around to make sure they weren't nearby. "...they had made some mistakes, too. Because Raoul is sensitive, we spared his feelings by politely commenting on his cookies. True, their cookies weren't as reactive as yours, they could use some work. They were edible though."
Dipper smiled as he took a drink of his bottled water. "I really like Raoul, Uncle Star. Although he did kiss me earlier. I know he meant it as a thank you gesture... but... I can't get it out of my head now. I keep seeing it over and over again. And I even imagine myself kissing him in return. I know he's just a friend who I care about, but still... this isn't normal, is it?"
Stargazer and Birch had spoken about that very thing earlier. How Dipper might react. How Dipper might feel about it. They came to an easy conclusion though. And both had hoped Dipper would accept it. "I think the reason you're seeing that is because you want to protect and comfort him. It is normal that you want to protect your friends. And Raoul is just a little more fragile than most, so you think you want to return that affection. But Dipper... it's mainly because you're twelve. When you become a teenager, you won't even think about that anymore. Some lovely girl will have your attention. And even though you will still care about your friends and protect them, you will have new feelings think about. Feelings equal to how your father met your mother..."
"I guess so," replied Dipper.
"...Although, and this is off the topic, Dipper... Kingston was wondering if you would like to spend a week over here at his house with Raoul. As you know, there is to be a two-week break for a teachers conference and Kingston wants to make it up to you for what happened."
Dipper hummed. "I was planning on playing video games and stuff and-"
Stargazer cut him off by saying, "Birch was saying that he wanted to have the band rehearse more songs every day during your break since you'd be home. And if you truly want a week off from that, you might consider this offer. Otherwise, Birch won't leave you alone. You know how pushy he can be."
Dipper irked as he thought about the strain and stress of the rehearsals from Rock Band Wars. "On second thought, a week with Kingston and Raoul does sound like a great idea."
EF-30 Nights in White Satin
After having a nice dinner courtesy of Dipper's mom, the Drapers departed for home leaving Kingston with Raoul and Dipper. Birch had made a quiet complaint about Dipper staying the week with Kingston, but Aurora and Stargazer put their feet down. Birch had been overruled.
When the movie they were watching together had ended, Kingston rubbed his paws over both Raoul and Dipper, saying, "Since you're the guest, Dipper... you get to choose where you want to sleep. Stargazer told me that the bedding and chairs in L.A. weren't very comfortable for you during the contest, so your comfort is top priority here. It's your choice."
Dipper smiled. "Thanks Kingston. And yeah, those beds were pretty bad. Like trying to sleep on slabs of concrete with a thin sheet over them."
Raoul had turned to casually look at Dipper quietly, admiring the handsome bear in all of his radiant glory. A real friend, a star in the heavens of the night sky whose brilliance shone brighter than all of the rest. But then he noticed that both Kingston and Dipper were looking directly at him and he blushed. "Um... yes?"
Kingston said, "Dipper asked if it would be okay if he could sleep in your room, Raoul. Where ever your mind was just now must have been a wonderful place. We rarely ever get to see that super nice folfy smile of yours like that. My sweet nephew."
Raoul ummed softly. "If you want to try my bed, sure. It's sorta soft. Although Uncle King's bed has more room and is the softest in the house... though he likes to hug his pillows."
Kingston chuckled. "Pillows are a substitute for that which I am likely to never have. Besides, I get scared at night thus having something to hug makes me sleep more securely. If Dipper wants to sleep with me later, I'd let him. But he asked for your room first. You could show him your video games and your comic books."
Raoul smiled at Dipper and held out his hand to the bear. "Come on."
Dipper smiled back and held Raoul's hand as the folf led them both out of the family room and down the bedroom hallway.
When they reached the door, Raoul quietly gulped and remarked softly, "Please don't be offended by what you see on my walls."
"It can't be worse than my walls at home," Dipper said with a smile.
And they walked into the bedroom and Dipper got the view that Stargazer had seen earlier: Dipper's face was in nearly every band picture and drawing all over the room. There was even a huge Dipper poster tacked to the ceiling directly over the bed. And there was... a Dipper plushy on the bed itself, wearing a green cap and a brown leather and furred bomber jacket.
Dipper was of course in shock. It was like walking into a shrine dedicated to him. HIM.
Raoul was waiting for his friend to get mad, honestly. this wasn't a normal thing for anyone to have. Fortunately none of the pictures were misrepresented sexually, but still... it was Dipper. Raoul was scared that Dipper would just up and leave.
But Dipper never moved for the longest time as his head panned the room very slowly. When he finally did say something, it was not what Raoul was fearing. "....wow... all for me? I impressed you this much... I didn't even know they made a poster of me that big. And plushies made to look like me. How come they didn't give me one?" The last was actually said with a humorous smile. It was clear that Dipper was impressed by what he saw. He wasn't upset at all.
EF-31 Safety in Numbers
Raoul was gently and cutely nuzzled up gently against Dipper in bed barely asleep. Dipper was quietly reading one of the folf's comic books. It was always interesting to read over someone else's idea of good reading material. True, it was a comic book about Funny Humans, an obvious mythical species, but it was still very entertaining. And funny. Dipper quietly laughed several times.
Suddenly there came an almost point blank thunderous clap of thunder and the young undressed bear became the immediate recipient of a frightened undressed folf boy with all four limbs tightly clinging around every part of Dipper's legs and torso. And Raoul's muzzle was buried in the bear's chest.
"Augh!" exclaimed Dipper when he received the sudden frightened stranglehold. "Raoul... it's just a sudden storm. It can't hurt you. I promise. I'm your protector. Remember?"
The folf was just barely lifting his head up to nod at the bear cub, when another louder clap of thunder and lightning occurred just as a branch broke through the upper mini-window pane!
Kingston was himself almost asleep in his own bed when like lightning, two dark shapes zoomed into his bedroom, dove under his covers, and he became the recipient of TWO naked and scared youngsters tightly hugging him under the covers.
"Okay boys... you can sleep with me tonight," the arctic fox said with a smile. "I was a little scared too. We'll protect each other." And he hugged them both as he settled down to try to get some sleep.
It was quiet the next morning.
Kingston true to form had a pillow between his legs as he held Dipper in one arm, while using the other free hand to gently pet lightly on the bear's head. Of course when Dipper woke up and saw Kingston that close, he about freaked out before remembering that he and Raoul had joined the arctic fox in the middle of the night. Of course, Raoul wasn't in bed now; he was in the living room quietly watching religious kiddie cartoons.
"Um, morning, Mr. Woulfe," Dipper quietly said with a yawn.
He never stopped rubbing on Dipper's head. "You can call me King. I was hoping you and I could talk about some things this morning. Raoul's watching cartoons so we have a free moment or three."
Dipper nodded his muzzle. "Okay, King. What do you want to talk about?"
Kingston turned so he was on his side facing the bear in bed with him. "You weren't really scared last night when you boys joined me, were you? I know fear when I see Raoul display it, but you're a much braver young cub who is almost a teenager."
"No, I wasn't scared at all," replied Dipper. "I just came along with Raoul to make sure he didn't hurt himself while he ran through the dark house to get here. He's a nice folf."
The arctic fox smiled. "Yes he is. Raoul tells me that you got punished with a month long grounding some time back. I personally think that was unfair for you to get punished for sneaking out of your house and attending an adult party without adult supervision. I mean, I asked Birch about this yesterday while we were outside and when he mentioned the Rathbone party, I asked, Did you catch Dipper participating in anything bad? and Birch replied, No, but it could have happened. Then I said, Until that night, would you have ever said that Dipper would purposely do any of the could have things you were worried about? and Birch replied, No, he's a good boy although he scared us by disappearing like that."
Dipper sighed. "Yeah, I really shouldn't have sneaked out like that. But it was a party invitation and no one told me about it. I didn't know what they did at parties like that until later when Uncle Star told me what everything I saw actually was. I felt like I deserved to be grounded after that. But why do you think my grounding was unfair?"
Kingston rubbed on Dipper's shoulders a little as he replied. "Sneaking out without permission? Maybe a one week grounding. Going to an adult party? Tag on another week. You're good at math. How many is that?"
"That's right. So what else did they punish you for? There are roughly four weeks in a month and you were restricted for the whole month. That is over-excessive grounding. And since Birch already admitted that you weren't participating, I fail to see what a month grounding accomplishes unless you've been grounded before based on a repeat performance of rebel activities and events. But Birch admitted that you were a good boy; that you had never displayed that kind of interest before. Thus a sudden one month grounding makes no sense if you were simply sitting there watching the others. Yes, you sneaked out. Yes, you shouldn't have gone without an escort. But since you didn't do anything else, it seems very unfair to you. It seems like they are going to punish you for having fun later on."
Dipper then commented, "I made my mom worry and cry. That would be enough to merit the extra two weeks. I appreciate what you're saying, King, and it does worry me that I may not be allowed to have fun later. But I'm only twelve. Closing in on puberty and the teen years. I might be on my own by the time I choose to go to college. I want to study Aviation. I think being a pilot would be awesome."
Kingston smiled as he gave Dipper a hug. "Aviation, huh? Then I'll treat you to something that you really like later today. But for now, we need to get up, shower, have breakfast, then go thank God for protecting us. And after that... it's all about you. Let's go, tiger."
EF-33 Flight of the Phoenix
"What did you think of the Air Force Museum here in Dayton, Dipper?" asked Kingston as he drove himself, Raoul, and Dipper toward some unknown location although an occasional Air Force jet would rocket through the sky over them.
"It was totally awesome! And you surprised me by taking me to the Wright Brothers Museum first, too," replied Dipper excitedly. "I feel like I'm on the Price is Right as we travel the Golden Road. What are you up to, King?"
Kingston giggled. "You are a sharp one, Airman Dipper. I am up to something this afternoon. We had lunch in downtown Dayton first, then I took you to the Wright Brothers Museum. And following that we hit the Air Force Museum. But there is one more stop on this Golden Road, as you put it. If you think about the prizes I've given you... lunch was the appetizer, the two museums were the main course, but I think you might be more impressed with the dessert."
And that was when Dipper saw what was just ahead of the car... they were driving right up to the gates of the Wright-Patterson Air Force base itself. It was all Dipper could do to stay even the slightest bit calm.
At the gates, Kingston handed the guard at the gate a completed form along with his U.S. ID and another form of identification. The guard looked it over, called in to verify something, then came back over and handed the ID and license back to the arctic fox.
"You are being expected, Mr. Woulfe. Follow the road to the third intersection, turn right and drive until you reach the air field. You will be met there. Enjoy your stay."
And soon, they had made the right turn and were driving through the base itself.
Dipper couldn't believe he was actually ON an Air Force base. What could Kingston possibly be up to? He wasn't in the Air Force himself. So who did the arctic fox know who was?
When they arrived at the air field, they parked the car and the three walked over toward a hangar, where Kingston sent some sort of signal toward whoever was within... and then an Air Force jet was taxied out on to the tarmac. But this was not a normal U.S. Air Force jet. Dipper could clearly see the insignia of the RAF Flying Tigers on the side of it. Along with the word: "Phoenix."
Kingston smiled as he said, "Yes Dipper, that is one of the special issue British Phoenix jets. But I think you might like to meet its owner. And so, without further ado... I now present to you..." and he extended an arm toward the hangar itself in a showman's flair. "...Air Chief Marshal Taj Tygermyth of the British Royal Air Force." And that was when an Indian Tiger in full uniform walked out into the open and was clearly walking directly toward them.
The young bear was afraid he was going to faint. He couldn't believe that the arctic fox could even know someone like this. But he was too excited to think.
"Cheerio, chaps," Taj stated with a smile. "Which one of you is Airman Draper? My jolly good co-pilot for the day?" He winked with a friendly grin.
Kingston gently ushered Dipper up front-wise to the tiger. "Hello Taj. You look smashing in that uniform, as always. This is Dipper Draper, son of U.S. Air Force officer Dan Draper from Huntington, West Virginia. And thank you for agreeing to do this for me. I'll owe you the usual later."
Taj chuckled. "A showman as always, eh Kingston? It is the least I can do for the Drapers. My being an Aviation Instructor and all. Jolly good and what not. Pip pip. I certainly hope Dipper will be in one of my future classes. Being a Draper, he has the look of a Flying Tiger, yes?"
Dipper couldn't contain himself any longer. He shook the tiger's hand and began to talk ninety miles a minute asking all manner of questions about the Phoenix and about Taj and literally everything else. In fact, he almost missed the statement about the Aviation Instructor and Dipper being in a class someday. Almost. That's when he almost went dead quiet. "You mean... I could be in one of your classes?"
Taj laughed. "Have my tea and scones ready when we return, Kingston. But before I can take Dipper into the skies, I have to give him the right gear. We didn't have any in your size, so you'll have to grow into this." And one of his assistants brought out a new bomber jacket with the Flying Tiger Phoenix Squadron insignia on it and helped Dipper out of his old jacket and into the new one. Yes, it was a little big for him, but it was HIS now. And then Taj knelt down and saluted Dipper. "One more thing, Airman Draper." And he affixed a shiny pin onto the lapel of the bomber jacket. It was like a medal and it read: "First Time Pilot."
Dipper almost forgot that they hadn't even been in the air yet, until he was escorted over to the jet and helped up into the co-pilot's seat and given a helmet. Taj got into the front seat, putting his helmet on. And then they were strapped in and Taj closed the hatch and began to explain the instrumentation and run him through the necessary checks to make sure everything was ready for take off. Then he contacted the tower and when they had clearance...
Kingston and Raoul watched the Phoenix shoot down the runway and lift off into the skies beyond. Yes, a new Flying Tiger was being born. "I imagine Dipper is going to be singing all manner of flying songs after this. I really hope he appreciates what I'm doing for him. Despite my personal situation."
Raoul nodded his folfy muzzle. "He will, Uncle King. Dipper is a guardian. My guardian angel. And now... he'll have his wings too."
And the Phoenix made a pass over the Air Force base as Taj and Dipper flew across Ohio to the town where Bobby was vacationing with his parents, and Taj had the jet write out the words "Dipper & Bobby, Friends Forever" in smoke above the town, then they banked the jet and flew down to Huntington where another two messages in smoke were made. "Dipper was here" and "Home of the Beach Bears." All in all, this would be a day that Dipper would never forget.
End of Episode Three: Weekend with the King