This story grew out of an idea we had while writing the Untold Ranger Tales, but it's not based in that reality. This is simply a speculative story that we thought would prove interesting--and we think it's precisely that.
For Tammy Chesnutt, the road to adulthood had been a long and adventuresome road. She’d found it hard to leave her friends in Central Park and head off on her own, but in the end it had been the only choice. Particularly hard was her choice to leave the Rangers. She’d finally gotten over her crush on Chip, and they’d just accepted her into their group when the offer came from the rodent annex of Stanford.
It was all she could’ve asked for, but still fresh in her memory was the day she left. She’d cried of course, hanging onto Chip just like in the old days. He’d mellowed some and didn’t seem to mind it quite as much in the days when the crush had been evident. All of them had wished her well, then she’d hugged her mom goodbye and it was off to California and a major in theater which turned into a master’s in set design and directing.
Now she was coming home—an offer from Broadway no less. A young new writer named Cyril Ulright had a play that was going to premiere in a couple of months, but he insisted on a fresh perspective. Tammy fit the bill, so with all the hopes a young talent has she came back to the town that was her own in her heart. She stepped off the bus, much changed from the gangly teenager that gave Chip so many restless nights.
Tammy was still the some height she’d been as a teen, but she was a woman now in every sense of the word. Tammy was wearing a business suit, her hair now cut shoulder-length instead of braided behind her. In her hand she carried a portfolio of her work to show Cyril when she met up with him at the theater. First things first, though. Tammy headed home, and found it just as she’d remembered. She knocked on the door, and there was Donna. The two squirrels stood there, looking at each other.
“Hi, mom. It’s been too long, hasn’t it,” Tammy said. Donna threw her arms around her daughter and hugged her. “Tammy! It’s been years too long!” She practically carried Tammy into the house. “Now sit down and tell me about this big offer you’ve got. Why so secretive?”
The two of them sat down, and Donna couldn’t help but notice how composed her daughter was. “Well, I’ve tried to keep you current with the letters, but that doesn’t begin to cover it all. All those long nights working at Sid’s Diner out there to pay my way were worth it. Everyone was so nice, and even when I nearly gave up, Professor Lang was there to make sure I stayed the course. And now I’m going to make the big time! Mom, it’s practically unheard of but your girl’s first job’s going to be on Broadway! Can you believe it?”
Donna hugged her oldest daughter again. “I can believe it, dear. You were always destined for great things. So, is there anything else going on in your life?” Tammy grinned knowingly. “You mean, like a boyfriend? No mother, I’ve not really had time. I did go out with a few of the theater students, but it never turned into anything serious. How are things here? Are the Rangers still rangering?”
“Things are going good. The Rangers are still fighting crime just like always. You should stop by, I’m sure they’d all like to see you again.”
Tammy chuckled. “Especially old Chipper, I bet. Tell me, did he ever get around to marrying Gadget? You sort of indicated they might be interested in each other in your letter last year.” Donna shook her head. “Well, I guess things have cooled a little over the years. They’re still the best of friends, but that’s all.”
Tammy didn’t say anything, but it was evident the little wheels in her brain were turning. “Yeah, I guess I could spare a few minutes to go visiting. Mom, once I’m situated here, we’ll have a big night out on the town! You name the place and we’ll go there.”
“That sounds great,” Donna said. “When Bink gets home from school she’ll be delighted to see you’re back. I’ll make some reservations at a nice place.” **Reservations for four... just in case**.
Tammy hugged her mom goodbye and then glanced at her watch. She still had a good hour before needing to meet with Cyril, so she headed over to Ranger Headquarters. It too was just about the way she’d remembered it. Gadget had obviously been hard at work, adding some odds and ends to the treehouse and what looked to be a new vehicle as well. Tammy went to the door and knocked, feeling a little nervous about it all.
She could hear feet running inside to get to the door, and it was Dale who answered. He looked the same, but Tammy had changed so much that he didn’t recognize her at first. “Uh, hello miss!” Dale said, looking her over. “We’re the Rescue Rangers. What can we rescue you from?”
Tammy immediately realized the problem and decided to play along. Her voice was deeper now, and didn’t give her away. “Oh, I’m not here to be rescued. I’m here to meet someone.” Tammy shuffled through the papers in her portfolio, as if she was looking for a name. She pulled out a piece of paper, then squinted at it. “Let’s see…Chip Maple—wood. He does live here, doesn’t he?”
Dale interest level immediately declined. “Yeah, he’s doin’ something, somewhere around here. Have a seat and I’ll track him down.” After she had taken a seat, Dale tracked Chip down in their room, where he was reading a Sureluck Jones novel. “Hey Chip, there’s a beautiful woman sitting on the sofa and she wants to talk to you! Did you have a blind date or something set up?”
Chip peeped up from the book, not in the mood. “Okay Dale, what’s the punch line?” Dale took on that look of fiendish glee he got when he knew there was going to be a payoff. “None! She’s out there and asked for you by name. She said she was supposed to meet you.” Chip put down his book in annoyance. “I really hope this isn’t some joke you’re pulling.”
Chip started walking down the hall, emerging in the main room halfway through his next sentence. “I didn’t have an appointment with anyone and I don’t care how beautiful she is, she’s—” Tammy stood up when Chip came into the room, and Chip was just frozen right there
Tammy had to force down the smile that was trying to bubble up, but she managed to contain herself as she walked over to him, all-professional. She pulled out a pad and pencil, acting like a talent scout. “Chip Maplewood? I’m doing a play on Broadway in a couple of months and I heard you could be a possibility for a leading man. Have you ever acted before?”
Chip was totally clueless about this one. “I was Stanley Kowalski in Ms. Spelling’s fourth grade production of ‘Street Car Named Desire’. Uh, who are you, miss? There’s something familiar about you. I know you from somewhere, don’t I?”
Tammy gave him a flirtatious smile. “Now, now, Mr. Maplewood! It’s no good trying to influence me with your charm and good looks. However, if you’d like we could discuss your acting future over dinner. Here’s my card.” Chip took it nonchalantly. “I’m happy with what I’m doing, miss…miss—” Chip looked down at the card and then back up in shock. “Tammy!!!”
She laughed and kissed Chip in the cheek. “Surprise, Chipper!”
Chip blinked, trying to get over the amazement and rein in what had been growing feelings of attraction. “Tammy... you, you’ve changed...a whole lot! You’re so...older.” Tammy had never seen Chip at a loss for words, and she found it pleased her. “That’s what happens, you know. So are we on for that dinner date tonight?”
Chip’s brain went out of gear for a moment as he just stared at Tammy. “Uh, sure, I guess...” Tammy smiled back at him. “Good. I’ve got to get to a meeting uptown now, but I can be back here around say sevenish. I can’t wait to hear all about the adventures you’ve been up to!” Tammy sauntered to the door, and stood in the doorway for a moment, making eye contact.. “See you then...Chipper.”
She walked out, closing the door behind her, and Dale immediately knew he had Chip over a barrel. “Wooooooo! Looks like you’d better shine up your tux, Chipper!” Chip snapped back to himself and bonked Dale on the head. “It’s nothing, Dale! Tammy just invited me out for dinner. Just a friendly meeting...of old friends, meeting.”
Dale bonked him back. “You can’t fool me that easy! I saw the way you looked at her. This is too good! Chip’s going out with the girl that chased him through her teens. Hey Gadget, Monty, Zipper! Guess who Chip’s going out with tonight!”
Monty walked in from his room, eager to hear. “What’s all the fuss about? Did Desiree ply her wiles on Chip?” Gadget was also curious, and half-covered in motor oil. “Golly Chip, I didn’t know you had a girlfriend.”
“Who is she?” Zipper asked, then caught himself. “Oops, I forgot I can’t talk in this story. Buzzz?” Dale was jubilant. “He going out with Tammy!”
Monty whistled in surprise. “She’s back from gold country? That’s great! I hope she stops by later ta say hello to the rest of us.” Chip appeared apologetic. “Sorry about that. She was in a hurry and only had a minute to stop by.” Gadget was smiling as always. “Golly, that’s sweet that you’re going to dinner with her, Chip. It’s kinda like old times.”
“Oh no, it isn’t!” Dale countered. “You ought to see her now, Gadget! She’s one gorgeous squirrel, and when Chip saw her I thought he was going to keel over!” Chip was blushing bright red. “Okay, she’s pretty, but it’s nothing. She’s just a good friend and it’s not a date. I’m just meeting an old friend.”
“Maybe ol’ Dale’s got something there,” Monty mused. “Chip don’t make a fuss over much anyone, usually.” Dale laughed. “You should’ve seen his face when he found it was her! I wish I’d have had a camera to save that expression!” Chip now began getting testy. “It’s nothing! Knock it off!”
Dale stayed out of bonking range. “Are you kidding? This deserves at week’s ribbing at least!” Gadget walked over in front of Dale. “Now Dale, that’s not nice. After all, if Chip likes Tammy that’s his business. Even if she did have a crush on him and throw herself at him when she was younger and embarrass Chip every chance she got, that’s no reason they couldn’t like each other now. Wait, that’s assuming Chip does like her.” She turned to look at Chip. “Do you like her?”
Chip got control of his emotions, but it wasn’t easy. “I haven’t seen her in years. She’s still the same friend she was then. She’s attractive, I admit it, but I was caught off-guard, that’s all. She invited me to dinner and I accepted. Please, let’s just leave it at that.”
Dale went off, giggling, while Gadget tried to be sympathetic. “Well, okay. Have fun, and make sure to be polite and compliment her and all, Chip. After all, you wouldn’t want to let your old feelings about her get in the way of having a good time. Besides, I’m sure she’s just being nice.”
“Thank you, Gadget,” Chip said, relieved that the crises seemed to be ending. “I plan to just have a nice dinner with an old friend. I guess I better dig out some formal attire.” Chip did so, and found in the middle of deciding what to wear that he really didn’t know what his feelings were toward Tammy anymore. Did that matter? Well, maybe.
Still, to feel anything like...wouldn’t that be like robbing the cradle? Chip tabled that thought for the moment and pulled out his best tux. He might as well go along with this, and Tammy would be satisfied and she’d go her way and he’d go his and that would be that.
He’d told himself that the umpteenth time when a light knocking at the door announced the arrival of his date.
“I’ll get it!” Dale shouted, zooming to beat Chip to the punch. He opened the door a little and stuck his head out to get first look. He looked back inside with a smile that beamed from ear to ear. “Whoa, wait till you see this, Chipper!”
Chip was about to chide him for using the name "Chipper" when Dale opened the door like a gentleman and there she was. The others were there too and stood up when they saw her come in. Tammy was in an evening dress of royal blue, trimmed with some sparkles and she wore a silver necklace that contrasted perfectly with the dress. In short, it was enough for everyone to be caught flat-footed
“Oh good, you’re in a tux,” Tammy said, stepping right in. “I’m sorry I didn’t mention you should go formal, but then I didn’t know we were going to 21 until Cyril passed on his reservation to me. He and his wife are going to Martha’s Vineyard for the weekend, and he was glad to not have the reservation go to waste.”
Gadget walked up and shook Tammy’s hand, admiring her dress. “Golly, Tammy, it’s good to see you again!” Monty followed suit. “This sure beats the dress ya wore to yer prom by a good hundred miles or two!” Chip was zoning out. “Yes...wouldn’t want reservations to go to waste. You look lovely, Tammy.”
Tammy was totally in command, and walked up to Chip slowly, enjoying every moment. “I’m really glad you had a free night, Chipper. Well, shall we?” Chip took her arm and led her outside. “We could take the RangerWing if you’d like, or we could walk. Gadget’s redesigned the RangerPlane, but she’s still using ‘should’ in describing it.”
“The Wing’s okay. 21 has a helipad,” Tammy said.
Chip escorted her into the Wing where Tammy put on a wrap to protect her dress, then they took off. He’d been amazed that afternoon at how different she looked, but that was nothing compared to now. She was stunning, and Chip had the sneaking suspicion that she knew he knew that. They landed, and an attendant helped Tammy out of the Wing after which she reassumed Chip’s arm.
They went inside, where another attendant took Tammy’s wrap and she acted as if this treatment was nothing. In truth it was all new, but she’d done so much serving in the past few years she was used to restaurant life. The maitre d’ showed them their table, and the two of them found themselves among the rich and elite of New York.
Tammy leaned over and whispered to Chip, “Don’t worry about the prices, Chip. Cyril told them this was on him—a little welcome gift for me, so order whatever you like.” Chip was relieved, but only a little. “Thank him for me, Tammy. I’m sorry if I’m nervous, I’ve never been comfortable in places like this.” **Or with girls like you**.
Chip tried to get his mind off that dress. “So, tell me about your time in California.” Tammy started in on a long, rambling story that covered her time in theater school and all the places she’d seen in California. For an hour, Chip was lost in her recounting. “And then the news from Cyril came,” Tammy concluded. “It was a dream come true, Chip. I’m glad you agreed to come out with me tonight. Well, for me it’s like another dream come true.”
She hesitated a moment, but went on. “When I was a kid, I always dreamed of a night like this with you. Oh, I had all these romantic ideas but it was just silly I guess. Still, it’s nice to know that you’d humor me by being here. And say, while we’re here why don’t we dance? This place has got its own orchestra and everything!”
Chip tugged at his collar and blushed. “I supposed one dance wouldn’t hurt.” He led her out onto the dance floor, where a few other couples had gathered. The orchestra was playing Fascination, which seemed ironic to Chip at the moment. Slowly, he took Tammy in his arms and they began to glide across the floor. Before he knew it, they were out on a huge outdoor balcony, all to themselves.
Tammy looked into his eyes as they continued to dance. “Now confess, you were really surprised it was me this afternoon, weren’t you?” Chip grinned back. “Tammy, I was dumbfounded. You’re a totally different person from the one I knew before. I must admit...I like the new you.”
She looked down at him—she was still a head taller than him—with her eyes searching his. “Really, Chip?” The meaning of her words hit him like a sledgehammer in the face. “Yes. I’m...I’m glad we’re still friends now.” A soft smile came on her face. “I’m glad too.”
For a moment, neither of them said anything. Then they slowly drew closer, and before either one knew what was happening, they’d kissed. Chip blinked and stopped, surprised. “Tammy, I’m sorry! I... don’t know why I did that.” Tammy took a moment to regain herself. “It’s okay, Chip. I didn’t know it was going to happen either. You not angry at me, are you?”
“No, just surprised,” Chip said. “I guess we’ve wanted...you’ve wanted to do that for a while.” Tammy chuckled. “Well, it’s true, but maybe tonight I wasn’t the only one.” Chip hadn’t felt this awkward in years. “Well, uh...okay, I admit, you made an impression on me all those years ago and it’s stayed with me over the years we’ve known each other. When you went to college I just accepted that you’d move on and meet someone, but I see that hasn’t happened.”
Now it was Tammy’s turn to blush. “Well, I did date some but I never got serious because...I ended up comparing every guy to a certain chipmunk and finding them lacking. I hope you won’t mind, but when we—well—that was another dream come true.” Chip smiled, stood on his toes and put his hands on her face, bringing it down to his, and kissed her again.
Tammy was flustered when they separated, but happy too. “Wow…two wishes in one night! Well, they say all good things come in three’s.” Tammy kissed him, and it was as if the music was for them alone. When she finished, they stood there in each other’s arms. Tammy’s voice was soft and intimate. “I guess I’ll have to be a success on Broadway, now. I have a feeling I might be sticking around here for a while.”
“I wouldn’t mind if you stopped by Ranger HQ now and then, or more often if you liked,” Chip said, playing with her hair. Tammy couldn’t take her eyes off of him. “More often sounds good. Actually, I’ll be pretty occupied for the first few weeks, getting this new play off the ground, but I’ll still have most nights free. Once it premieres, I’ll have a lot more time open. Do you think I’ll have something to look forward to?”
Chip took a moment to get serious. “I’m not sure. When the euphoria of the moment wears off, then maybe we should sit down and have a heart to heart talk about all this. Is this just a night of dreams or is this the start of something that we’ve both been waiting years for?” Tammy ran her fingers across his cheek. “I don’t know, but it’s going to be fun finding out.”
After another dance, Chip took Tammy home than returned to Ranger Headquarters. Everyone was waiting for the verdict as Chip strode in, Dale especially. “So what happened, huh? Huh?” Chip acted nonchalant. “We had a nice dinner, we talked and enjoyed each other’s company, like old friends do.”
“And?” Dale asked.
Chip tugged at his collar and blushed again. “We danced for a while too.”
Dale’s smile grew. “AND?”
“And what happened after that’s none of your business. But nothing ungentlemanly,” Chip said. Dale was positively gleeful. “You kissed her, didn’t ya?” Chip looked away and mumbled a reply.
Dale’s teasing went out of him when he saw Chip’s expression, replaced by wonderment. “You really did kiss her, then. Wow, I wouldn’t blame you. She’s really something now.” Chip whirled around and faced him. “Yes, we did kiss, several times in fact! Now if you’re all done embarrassing me, I’ll turn in for the night!”
Gadget was there to stop him from getting carried away, as always. She stood in front of him, smiling. “Chip, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. After all, she must like you too. I think you’re pretty lucky to have someone like her that thinks that much of you.”
“She’s not a child anymore,” Chip said, still defensive. “She’s old enough to have a relationship now with anyone she wants. So we’ll see what happens.” Monty held his hands up in front of him, trying to calm his friend. “We all know that, pally. No need ta feel ya have to explain. She’s turned out to be a right bonzer lass. I say give it a shot, mate.”
“Maybe all this time I’ve just been waiting for her,” Chip said. “The timing just wasn’t right before. She certainly never fell out of love with me over the years. She just hid it well.” Gadget put a hand in his shoulder. “Then I’d say the ball’s in your court, Chip. If you want to give her a chance, then do it.”
Zipper flew over to him. “Faint heart never won fair lady, erImean buzz buzz...”
Dale grimaced and walked over to his friend, too. “Sorry about razzin’ you, Chip. I didn’t realize that this was something that would really happen. I mean, if you think it’ll work, go for it!” Chip could see that they were all behind him, which made things easier. “Well, I don’t know that it’ll work out, but if you guys are okay with it then I guess it’s okay.”
“I wonder what Tammy’s mom would have to say about it?” Gadget said. Chip did a double-take. “Donna! Omigosh, what’s she going to think of this?”
“So, what do you think of it, mom?”
Donna was in a long dark tunnel with a bright light at the end beckoning her to come toward it, but her daughter’s voice drew her back. “Uh, are you sure about this, dear?” Tammy folded her hands in front of her. “Mom, I know how it might look with the history between Chip and me, but tonight it was something totally different. I’ve never felt so happy, and I think he was happy, too. I sure didn’t plan for this to happen.”
Donna regained her senses, at least for the most part. “What exactly did happen tonight?” Tammy recounted the dance and the kissing, growing red as she did. “It was like it was happening and I wasn’t even aware of it at first. Then we were both surprised and, well, it just seemed okay after that. It was so wonderful!”
“Well, you probably weren’t half as surprised as I am. Just be careful, Tammy. Take it slow and make sure he’s right for you. You’re not a child anymore, so you can’t just make rash decisions based on an irrational crush.”
Tammy shook her head in protest. “Oh mother, really! I’m 25 years old now—I haven’t had a crush in ten years, and I’m not having one now! I don’t know exactly just what it is yet, but whatever it is, I intend to find out.” Donna sighed. “I should’ve expected something like this. From that first day you met him, there was no one else but him for you.”
“Well, maybe. But don’t you go jumping to conclusions, mother. If Chip’s okay with it, we’ll see each other some more. Right now, I’ve got to concentrate on getting this show in order. Cyril expects the details ironed out by Monday, so that means the weekend’s shot. But I’ll see if Chipper—I mean Chip wants to do something on Tuesday.”
Donna watched her daughter as she got up to go to bed. “Did he live up to your dreams?” Tammy turned and smirked at her. “Totally blew them away.” Donna couldn’t help but smile too. “I suppose we’ll have to have him over for dinner soon.”
Tammy smiled back, but didn’t say anything more. She retired, her thoughts full of the evening and the feel of Chip’s fur touching hers. Maybe it was just a pipe dream, but maybe true love starts that way. She knew she didn’t know all the answers yet, but she was more than willing to find out—and she hoped that one Chip Maplewood was, as well.
In Chip’s room, he put away his tuxedo and assumed his nightshirt. Chip looked to make sure Dale was watching his late-night television shows, then returned to his room. The chipmunk allowed his mind to return to the events of the evening and soon he found himself spontaneously dancing across the floor. As he did, he hummed a tune that he continued as he got into bed and turned off the light.
Tammy Chesnutt, Donna Chesnutt and the Rescue Rangers are copyright Disney and used without permission but with the utmost respect.