First Manhattan Bank – Manhattan, New York
Dale silently tugged at the tie on the suit he had bought recently with Chip's help; he didn't enjoy wearing the silk tie because it aggravated the healing skin on his neck. He hadn't worn any sort of tie since before the fire or certain other fabrics because they aggravated his skin and left painful marks.
Ignoring the worried look that Chip was giving him, Dale used his free hand to sign the papers that would not only open him an account at Chip's bank, but give him access to his half of the trust that had been legally his since he was 21. His parents had lost their right to any money when they had been incarcerated and when Chip had turned 21, he had gotten it all moved to a bank in New York and they hadn't been in touch with each other at that point, so Chip simply did what he thought was best.
"Let me get you a bank card," Mr. Marconi, the bank manager, said as he got up from his desk.
Nodding, Dale silently undid the tie around his neck and took it off, "The silk aggravates my skin," he explained quietly, gazing at Chip. "The whole suit's uncomfortable and I want to return it."
Chip nodded, "Do you need your inhaler or anything?" he asked worriedly. "How's your breathing?"
"I'll have to take medicine when we get home," Dale replied quietly. "I don't work today, so…"
Mr. Marconi smiled as he retrieved a bank card from a filing cabinet and handed it to Dale, "Take this to the front and one of the tellers will help you get it set up," he said cheerfully. "Thank you for your time."
Dale nodded and got up, keeping quiet as he went to a teller's station in the main area of the bank and completed setting up his card. Chip also kept quiet as they finished their business and left, as he knew that Dale would talk when he felt ready. A fancy place like a bank had probably intimidated him.
"Chip, I know you have to go to work," Dale said quietly as they passed by a park. "I'll be fine."
Chip sighed patiently, "I'm on desk duty right now and it's only a couple days a week to start," he replied in a patient voice. "I worked yesterday and I work tomorrow, but I don't have anything to do today."
A pained expression crossed Dale's face, but he kept quiet during the rest of the walk back to the apartment and quietly retreated to his room once they were back home. Chip frowned, as Dale had spent the remainder of the summer upbeat and excited to do whatever he could in the city, but his personality had changed in the last few days and he had suddenly reverted to his childhood self.
Determined to get to the bottom of it quietly, Chip went to the closed bedroom door and knocked, "Come in," a quiet, subdued voice said that made Chip worry even more about his twin brother.
Chip silently decided to approach Dale as a brother first and then switch to the police approach if the situation turned out to be serious. As he opened the door, he saw Dale laying on his bed with a pile of unopened letters in his lap and a deeply troubled expression on his face as if the letters were bad news.
"Hey," Chip replied in a kind voice, wondering what was wrong. "Why are you so upset?"
Dale was silent for several moments, "I need to talk to the police officer you," he finally replied softly.
"Okay," Chip replied calmly, wondering if Dale was in some sort of trouble. "What's wrong?"
Dale looked grim, "I had letters from Mom and Dad forwarded to me from Maine and I really can't deal with them," he replied in a pained voice. "I have a restraining order, so they're not even supposed to…"
Chip silently eyed the letters, "I can't handle this personally because it's a conflict of interest, but I can take you to another detective at my precinct and they can handle it," he replied calmly. "All right?"
"Oh, Chip, I already dealt with this in Maine and I'm not sure if I can go into yet another police station and talk about the past," Dale replied quietly, fatigue in his voice. "Can't the cops make housecalls?"
Chip silently gathered the letters, "I can call and find out," he replied calmly. "Are you okay?"
"I just need a special bath, some asthma medicine, and a rest," Dale replied softly. "I'm not well."
Chip nodded and watched as Dale prepped his tub with the things he needed before shedding the suit all over the floor. Dale was in the tub for several minutes cleaning before getting out, drying with a special towel, and dressing in underclothes, sweats, a loose shirt, and slippers to fit his missing toes.
"Look, why don't you get some rest and I'll call this in?" Chip suggested calmly. "Where are your meds?"
Sighing, Dale took some asthma medicine and silently climbed into his bed, too exhausted to do anything but close his eyes. Chip gathered the letters from the bed and silently left Dale's room.
"NO, Drake, I do NOT need you to set me up with any of those single girls that come in to get stuff from the deli!" Chip's annoyed voice filled the hallway outside of Dale's room. "I just wanted to order food…"
Recognizing Chip's voice, Dale stirred groggily and lay still only briefly before stumbling out of bed and putting on a hoodie over his shirt. He had slept and felt better, but he was now feeling thirsty.
Sighing softly, Dale slowly made his way out of his room and into the area where the kitchen and living room were. He saw that Chip was sitting at the computer with the cordless phone to his ear.
Not wanting to draw attention to himself, Dale silently went into the kitchen and got himself a glass of water that helped him feel less groggy, "….Yes, I will pay for it when Monty and I come get it," Chip said in a calmer voice. "Please don't tell Zipper about any of it, as it's a surprise to welcome him back…"
There was a click and Chip sighed as he set the phone down, "Hey there, Dale," he said warmly.
"You're throwing that Zipper kid a party?" Dale asked quietly. "That's really nice of you."
Chip nodded and smiled, "Before Monty found him, Zipper was in captivity for 10 years and he's trying to figure out how the world works now," he explained calmly. "I thought a little party with a few friends would help Zipper feel welcome. I hear he's doing really, really well in that GED course and might do…"
"Um, I'm not exactly friends with Zipper," Dale replied nervously. "He thought I was you."
Chip sighed as he got to his feet, "I'm not exactly friends with anyone here," Dale confessed quietly. "And I sure don't expect anyone to be friends with me, especially since I'm not a whole person."
"Dale, you had toes amputated so you wouldn't lose the rest of your foot or leg and you lost those toes being a hero," Chip spoke firmly. "How can you stand there and bash yourself after you saved people?"
Dale swallowed hard, but didn't say anything, "It's all that crap that our so called parents drilled into your head because you were easily distracted in school," Chip spoke quietly. "Isn't it?"
"Yeah," Dale spoke quietly, setting the empty glass in the sink. "I got therapy when I went to college, but stuff like that doesn't ever really leave you completely. Why…why exactly were you yelling at Drake?"
Chip sighed, "Drake seems to have it in his head that I need to go on dates," he replied firmly. "It hasn't been that long since Donna's death and I need more time before I start dating again. What about you?"
"Oh, I'm not looking to date," Dale spoke quietly. "I have a job and I'm recovering from the fire still."
Chip nodded, "Speaking of work, I called over to the precinct and explained the thing about the letters," he commented gently. "I said you weren't up to going out, so they'll send a guy over to talk to you."
"When is Zipper's party?" Dale asked quietly. "And can I do anything to help with it?"
Chip sighed, "It's just a little dinner tonight that will be here because we have the space and I was going to get Monty to help me with the food after he gets off work, but do you want to?" he asked kindly.
"You'd have to lead me there, but I can help with that," Dale replied calmly. "Are you driving?"
Chip swallowed hard, as he hadn't driven since before the accident and had suffered an anxiety attack the last time he had been in Dale's car. However, Dale's health was shaky and he shouldn't drive the car himself because he might crash it. Chip knew that he needed to get over his anxiety about driving.
"Look, I can drive," Dale spoke up in a tired voice. "I know how you feel about being in the car."
Chip sighed, "You're impaired by your own health right now, Dale, and I cannot legally let you operate a motor vehicle," he replied firmly. "I'm speaking as both your brother and an officer of the law."
Dale nodded, "Us going to get the food will give Monty a chance to get Zipper from the educational center," Chip said in a calm voice, grabbing his fedora off a wall hook. "Do you need anything?"
"I just need to grab my wallet from my room," Dale replied in a quiet voice. "What about the interview?"
Chip shrugged, but before he could reply, there was a buzz at the door, "Detective De La Hoya, it's Detective Morgan," a voice said. "I'm here to talk to your brother about those letters."
"Do you want me to stay?" Chip asked gazing at Dale. "I can ask Foxy to get the food instead."
Dale nodded, watching as Chip buzzed his colleague into the building, "The letters are on the table," Chip said calmly. "I'll call Foxy while you're talking to Detective Morgan about what happened."
Sighing, Dale took a seat at the table and silently sifted through the unopened letters.
Tendara Educational Facility
Zipper found comfort in the library of the school more than he liked being in a classroom with other individuals who were trying to get their high school done. The first few days had gone smoothly, but people had quickly figured out who he was and that he was a former prisoner of a crime lord. The school had asked him if he wanted to do media interviews, but Zipper had declined because the 10 years being a prisoner of Fat Cat gave him frequent enough nightmares that Monty had gotten him some sleep tea.
Thankfully, the school had respected his request, but other students treated him like he was some sort of celebrity and so Zipper had spent most days in the privacy of the library. Nobody had seen any problem with that because Zipper got all of his work done each day and was at the top of his class.
Zipper smiled as he reached the end of yet another chapter in one of the many workbooks he used to get through his lessons. His hands, however, were now trembling and he knew he needed to take a break to not only rest his healing arm, but also get something to eat to offset his hypoglycemia.
Quickly returning his books to the backpack Monty had bought him for school, Zipper silently got up and left the library with his bag. He silently went to the food court that served both the schools and the continuing education classes and saw that it was quiet, as most were in classes. The only people in the food court were the staff and Gerry Hackwrench, who was enjoying a sandwich, apple, and juice.
"Doctor Hackwrench, hello," Zipper said warmly as he walked over to him. "Vat are you doing here?"
Geegaw smiled, "I do health rounds in the area sometimes and today, I was doing them here," he explained in a kind voice. "By the way your hands are shaking, I'm guessing you have low sugar?"
Zipper nodded and sighed softly, "I am told zat students get free food here veeth zeir student cards," he replied in a quiet voice. "Detecteeve Jack vanted to pack me a lunch, but I do not vant to bozzer heem."
Geegaw watched as Zipper got a tray and filled it with a plate of turkey sandwich, a bowl of cottage cheese, and a bottle of juice before returning to the table, "I steel find eet hard to eet a lot because I was newer geewen a lot of food," Zipper explained sitting down. "So I just eeet wery leetle."
"That's good as a starting point, but you should eventually increase the amount of food you eat to build up your strength," Geegaw replied calmly. "You're underweight for your age, but I understand that."
Zipper nodded and silently ate before sighing, "You were in a very bad situation for 10 years, Pavel," Geegaw spoke gently. "Just take your time re-integrating yourself back into the free world, okay?"
"I go for valks to try and learn my vay around, but I am not from ze city," Zipper spoke quietly.
Geegaw nodded, "I do not hawe a home but zis, as Fat Cat and eez people burned my village after zey keednapped me and people vere eizer keeled or ran avay," Zipper spoke quietly. "Eet vas scary."
"I have many friends who are counselors if you need someone to talk to," Geegaw offered gently.
Before Zipper could reply, the bell rang, "Oh, ze school day is ower," he said in a shocked voice.
"Do you want me to walk you anywhere?" Geegaw offered as Zipper quickly finished his food.
Shaking his head, Zipper got up and got rid of his tray, "Detectiwe Jack eez coming and he eez going to giwe me a guided tour of ze area," he replied eagerly. "I need to know eet for myself."
"Well, I hope you have a good day then," Geegaw replied, smiling because Chip had invited him to Zipper's party and it was to be a surprise. "If you ever want to talk, come by the hospital, okay?"
Nodding, Zipper silently took his bag and went into the hallway, deeply relieved when he saw Detective Jack leaning against a wall talking with Gadget. Unknown to Zipper, Monty had invited Gadget and her children to Zipper's surprise party, as he knew that Zipper had become good friends with Gadget.
"Hello," Zipper said in a kind voice, smiling at both Monty and Gadget. "How are you boz?"
Gadget smiled, "Oh, tired and just waiting for Tammy and Mark," she replied. "How are you?"
Zipper sighed, "A leetle tired, but school eez hard vork," he replied quietly. "I really like eet."
"That's good," Gadget replied in an encouraging voice, smiling as she saw Mark and Tammy.
Monty smiled at his young friend, "Let's go do our walk, shall we?" he suggested kindly.
A buzzing sound filled the air of Chip and Dale's apartment as Dale and Detective Morgan sat at the dining room table, talking quietly about the letters that Dale had received over the years. The letters had been carefully opened, quietly read, and would now be taken and shared with the sender's prison.
The buzz sounded again and Chip came into the common area wearing a suit and tie like he was going to work, as he was nervous about the party; he hadn't had a dinner party since before his family's death and he hoped he could pull it off without breaking down. He smiled at Dale before getting the door.
"Hey there, Foxy," Chip said warmly as he opened the door and saw Foxy and Dustin standing there with their arms filled with food from Drake's deli. "Hey there, Dustin. Did you help your mom get the food?"
Dustin nodded, "Hey, um, Foxy, why don't you and your son stay for the dinner?" Dale spoke up nervously, secretly pleased to see them again after they had met in the park. "You're welcome to."
Chip raised his eyebrow in amusement as he took the food and carried it over to the counter, "That's very nice of you," Foxy replied in a pleased voice, smiling at Dale. "Why…why is an officer here?"
Dale sighed, "Some unwanted mail got delivered to me and I'm making sure it gets returned to sender," he replied in a calm voice, not wanting to bring up his past. "Chip, you are really, really overdressed."
"I just want the party to go well," Chip replied quietly. "I haven't had a party since before…"
Detective Morgan picked up the bag that had the letters in them, "Jon, you're welcome to stay." Chip said in a quiet voice, quickly composing himself as he looked at his colleague. "How long are you on?"
"Oh, I'm on all night, but I'll stay long enough to say hi to Zipper and eat," Detective Morgan replied.
Just then, there was a knock at the door and Foxy answered it, smiling when Gadget, Mark, and Tammy came in, "Monty invited us because we're close to Zipper," Gadget spoke kindly. "I hope it's okay."
"It's fine," Chip replied in an eager voice, smiling at them. "I'm assuming they're on their way?"
Gadget nodded and smiled as the door buzz went off, "Chip, hey!" Monty's voice called out.
Chuckling softly, Chip pressed the button and everyone waited in silence as Monty and Zipper made their way upstairs. When he heard voices outside the door, Chip opened it and smiled.
Seeing all of the people in the apartment prompted Zipper to freeze with an expression of shock on his face, "Vat eez all zees?" he asked in a confused voice, afraid to go inside. "Deed I interrupt a party?"
"I planned a party for you to help you feel welcome," Chip explained gently. "Come inside."
Swallowing hard, Zipper came inside the apartment and promptly fainted from nervousness and confusion as to what was going on. Dale's eyes widened and he quickly hurried to Zipper's side, his paramedic training kicking in while everyone watched, "I need some smelling salts," he ordered.
Gadget quickly got some out of her pocket and Dale took them, "Come on, Zipper," Dale spoke softly, gently waving the salt under his nose. "I think he got overwhelmed with the whole surprise part."
Zipper stirred and opened his eyes, "I am not used to…good surprises," he spoke in a faint voice.
Dale nodded and carefully helped Zipper sit up, "Are you all right now?" he asked quietly.
"Yes," Zipper replied in a quiet voice. "I am sorry I fainted. I am not used to people being nice."
Dale smiled and helped Zipper up, "I ordered some food from Drake's Deli," Chip spoke up in a calm voice, watching as Dale helped Zipper to the table. "Since we're all here, why don't we eat?"
As everyone dug into the food, Dale made sure Zipper was seated at the table and then moved out of the way so everyone else could get their food first. He silently sat on the living room couch and watched the group, perfectly satisfied with staying out of the way because of how he was feeling.
Sensing his twin brother's discomfort, Chip silently made two plates of food and brought them over to the couch, "Here," he spoke quietly, handing a plate to Dale. "You need to keep your strength up."
Dale nodded his thanks and watched as Foxy helped Dustin get food before they sat down with Zipper, Gadget, Mark, Monty, and Tammy at the table, "You seem happy to see Foxy," Chip whispered.
"Yes," Dale admitted softly, gazing at his brother. "I admit that's she's nice looking and very kind, but she really wouldn't go for a guy like me. I'm also sure that Dustin doesn't want his mother dating…"
Chip sighed quietly, "Just be her friend, then," he replied softly. "After all, she led you to me."
Dale frowned in confusion, "Foxy told me you two ran into each other at the grocery store the day you came over," Chip spoke softly, smiling. "It doesn't have to be tonight, but you should really thank her."
"I'll think about it, okay?" Dale spoke softly, eyeing Chip's hand. "You're still wearing your ring. What's that about?"
Clearly not ready to discuss why he still wore his wedding ring, Chip shrugged and ate his supper.
California State Penitentiary
"...Roberto De La Hoya, you have a visitor," Roberto DeLaHoya, a man who greatly resembled Chip and Dale except for the prison blues he was wearing and grey hair, heard as he sat in his cell reading quietly.
Roberto scoffed, "It cannot be my idiot sons," he hissed. "Chip's spoiled and Dale ignores my letters."
Getting no reply from the guard, who was secretly afraid of him, Roberto got up and walked into the visitor area close to his cell. A well-built man who sported grey hair and a grey mustache while wearing a dark purple suit and black coat was seated at a table, silently ignoring all of the guards watching him.
"My name is Maltese De Sade," the man said in a heavy French accent. "I know who you are, of course."
Roberto raised an eyebrow, but said nothing, "You are the rich and famous Roberto De La Hoya," Maltese said in an amused voice. "I have read about you in the newspapers over the waters!"
"Famous, yes, but not rich," Roberto grumbled. "I lost my money to my sons when I came here."
Maltese chuckled, "I know you have life in ze prison, but it does not have to be as unbearable as you are making it," he replied in a pleasant voice. "Why do you not simply listen to what I have to offer you?"
"You better make it good," Roberto hissed coldly. "How many more years must I spend in this misery?"
As Maltese spoke about his plan, Roberto silently thought about how much he hated both his sons.
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