After Red Shore (Final)
Buster was watching from the rails as Johnny and Nooshy performed. The show was a success so far. He could feel the pride swell in his chest as Johnny balanced on his staff and knocked Nooshy off in a very well practiced move. He smiled as he leapt from his spot to check on Rosita and Gunter.
He found them adjusting their straps.
"You guys ready?" He asked.
"Jà! Like totally ready!" Gunter smiled as he posed like a robot.
"Great! There's going to be an intermission this time around, after Porsha's performance." Buster explained. "Since it's a smaller theater, we need a brief pause to set everything up for your parts and the finale."
"Sounds good, Mr. Moon." Rosita smiled.
"You doing okay, Rosita?" Buster asked.
Rosita gripped her helmet and took a deep inhale through her nose before giving her boss a determined smile. "I'm great, Mr. Moon. Ready to go!"
Buster gave them a thumbs up and a final word of encouragement before going to find Clay and Ash.
The two were tuning their guitars when Buster located them. "There's my favorite rock stars! You guys set?"
"Ready to rock the place, Moon." Ash said.
"How about you, Mr. Calloway?" Buster asked.
The old lion smiled as he gave the koala a wink. "Clay, please. We're ready, Moon."
"Great, we'll pick up with Rosita and Gunter's act following the end of the intermission."
"How's Mama-Bear?" Clay asked.
"She's ready to take this audience Out of the World!"
Once he was sure they understood, he dodged off again to find Meena.
The young elephant was fixing her dress and awaiting for her act to start when Buster found her. Darius was off, dancing and singing at the top of his lungs, some pop song.
Buster put his paw of her hoof and she smiled when she noticed him. "Hey, Mr. Moon."
"Hey, Meena, doing okay?"
"Yeah, just kinda wish Alfonso was here." She said, her ears dropping a bit.
Buster smiled as he silently pulled at her hand and led her to the curtain.
"VIP section." He said.
Meena steered her gaze to where Nana and Miss Crawley were seated, behind them was Norman and-
"Alfonso!" She smiled.
Buster grinned. "He took the night off to come see you."
Meena felt her heart skip a beat as she clasped her hands to her chest. "I can't believe he did that."
"I can." Buster smiled.
Meena looked at him, confused.
"Because you're an amazing person, Meena and one of the bravest people I know."
She blushed as she looked out the curtain again, watching as Norman and Alfonso shared a laugh.
"So ready to knock 'em off their feet?" The showman asked.
Meena nodded, eagerly.
"That's my girl." Buster smiled again as he left to do one last minute round.
Gunter was cheering Meena and Darius on from the back ground, dancing to the groove of the music. He sighed happily as he glanced at the stage.
His idea had come to life. And he was a part of it. The set was everything he imagined it would be, totally out of this world. He looked about and noticed Buster running around, checking in on members of the group and doing last minute inspections. Gunter smiled. If it hadn't been for Buster's insight and theater knowledge, Gunter would have never seen his ideas come life.
Meena and Darius' performance went smoothly, with Meena's voice carrying through the theater, Gunter was so proud of her. He was a bit hesitant when he saw Meena and Darius struggling with their part in the beginning, but Meena pulled through amazingly.
When Porsha's act came up, the young wolf was outstanding. Once her act was over, Buster went on stage to announce the brief intermission.
Part of the crowd walked out to stretch their legs or grab a snack while a majority remained, eyes glued to the stage and excited chatter all around.
As the curtains closed, Buster hopped off stage, fixing his bow tie as the stage-hands swung in to prepare for the second act.
As the koala walked, he noticed a flash of white fur. He stopped, but before he let his emotions get the better of him, he tried to remember Rosita and Marcus' words, to remember where he was. His mind must have been playing tricks. The stress of the show was getting him. He patted his pocket and realized the granola bar was still there. He debated on eating it when another flash of white reappeared and vanished once more. Buster's breath quickened.
Buster jumped and spun to see Johnny approaching with Nooshy. "Did you see that, Mr. Moon!?" He cried as he lifted the koala into the air, spun him and held him tight. "I did! I really did it! I'm getting better each time!"
Buster relaxed a bit, feeling Johnny's familiar fur as he shook the dark thoughts from his head and hugged Johnny back. "I saw, kid! You were absolutely amazing!" He praised. "Both of you!" He said, smiling at Nooshy. The bobcat bowed and winked as Johnny sat his mentor down.
"I was afraid I nearly messed up towards the end, I lost control of my staff."
"I saw that, but I assumed it was a new move the way you made yourself front flip."
Johnny laughed. "It was either front flip or fall on my face!"
Buster fist bumped him. "You did absolutely fantastic, Johnny, I'm so proud of you! Klaus can eat his hat!"
Johnny's chest swelled with pride as he and Nooshy began to jump around, in celebration.
Buster smiled before noticing in the corner of his eye, another flash of white and navy blue.
"Mr. Moon? Something wrong?" Johnny asked, concerned at the sudden frown forming on his friend's face.
Buster's ears twitched nervously, looking around. There was a lot of movement all around, stage-hands going back and forth, animals preparing for their next act... perhaps he was imagining it?
Johnny watched, worriedly as Buster left their side, he eyes darting in various directions. He wondered if he should find Rosita, but Johnny was sure he could calm Buster himself. With Nooshy beside him, Johnny moved forward to follow his adopted uncle.
It wasn't long before he lost the smaller animal in a crowd. Determination set in as he and Nooshy started scanning for the koala. He was so focused on his task, he didn't hear his father calling. When Nooshy grabbed his attention, he finally noticed Marcus running to greet them.
"That's my boy! You two did great out! I'd like see that old hose nose baboon dance fight you now!"
Johnny forced a smile but Marcus saw through. "What's wrong, son?"
"We're looking for Mr. Moon. He was acting really strange." Nooshy explained.
"Ya, like paranoid."
Johnny nodded as he continued to scan the crowd.
Marcus nodded. "Come on, we'll look together."
Buster adjusted his ears, listening for what, that he wasn't sure. But Something was wrong, he knew THAT for sure. He wasn't just seeing things. Had Mr. Crystal escape jail? Had he come to finish him off?
He suddenly found himself in a dark corner, away from the commotion. A little voice started going off in his head that he probably should back to his friends-
A fist flew from behind some costumes on a rack and hit Buster square in the nose. Buster was sent flying back. He landed with a screech to the floor and sat up. He tasted the familiar salty tinge of blood as he gently touch his nose. Wincing, he turned and saw a figure step out from behind the costumes.
It was the wolf from before!
Buster had mistaken him for Crystal but a closer look at his sinister stare with piercing green eyes told him differently.
The canine adjusted his tie and smoothed out his fur before snarling. Before Buster had a chance to react, the wolf ran up and kicked him into a wall.
Buster made a small yelping sound as he slid down the wall, back to the floor. He coughed, holding his middle as the wolf approached. Still recovering, Buster didn't have the strength to fight him off as the bigger animal lifted him effortlessly off the ground, claws digging into his shirt.
"Hiya, Moon. Name's Miles. Just Miles. Know who I am?"
Buster could only manage a small shake of his head.
"You put my boss in jail. And that's got me a little pissed off. So I'm gonna finish the job."
Buster could barely utter a syllable as Miles slammed him against the wall and carried him to a lift.
Johnny heard his mentor's familiar shout of pain and quickly raced toward the sound. Fear gripped his heart as he saw Buster once more in the clutches of a wolf. At first glance, he thought it was Crystal, but this wolf was shorter and thicker in the arms.
"Put him down!" Johnny roared. But his cries fell on deaf ears as the wolf boarded the lift and began it's climb. Johnny raced to the stairs beside it, Nooshy and Marcus close behind. "Get Rosita and the others! Hurry!" Marcus ordered. Nooshy didn't hesitate to follow them and disappeared into the crowd of animals.
Johnny began his climb up the stairs, fear filling his heart, grasping it in a cold grip. Please, no, no, not again, Johnny thought as he climbed, don't take Mr. Moon, don't take my uncle. Anger suddenly fueling his legs, he began skipping stairs. The anger was far more advanced then his dance duel with Klaus. The matter of life of death hung in the balance and Johnny was NOT going to allow Buster to be taken from him so easily this time. Shock and fear clouded his mind last time, now fury and desperation riled it.
Both father and son then began to use their long arms to pull themselves up the steps, now skipping 5 at a time, gradually catching up with the lift. Marcus wasn't paying attention to where his feet were landing and gasped as his foot snagged on a step. Johnny halted in his steps to help. They were nearing the roof of the theater when the lift came to a halt. Johnny paused, risking a glance at how high they had gotten. He winced. No animal, let alone a small koala would survive this. Marcus grabbed his son's arm and pushed him forward. "Go help Moon!" He said.
Pushing dark thoughts from his mind, Johnny continued up. "I'm coming, Buster."
Buster struggled to get free as the lift came to a halt and Miles stepped off. The vortex were coming back on. The scene was playing out exactly as it had the week before. Miles tightned his grip on the koala and growled. "Stop struggling or I'm gonna make you wish I'd dropped ya sooner."
But Buster ignore him and decided on his last resort. He chomped down on Miles' paw and the wolf howled as he released his hold on Buster who fell to the medal platform. Buster risked a glance at the ground below and felt he'd be sick. Miles recovered and roared as he struck Buster, this time in the eye. The Showman rolled forward and groaned as he sat up. But Miles leaned down and pushed his head against the medal, content on smashing his brains in.
"I'm gonna kill ya. Then I'm gonna throw ya off this spot."
"Get off my uncle!"
Miles turned his head and was met with an agonizing wack to the muzzle.
Johnny twirled his staff back and struck Miles again, this time, his paw, allowing Buster to roll away.
Johnny was breathing heavily now, but not from exhaustion, but pure hatred. The hatred for Jimmy Crystal and the fact that Buster had nearly been taken from him twice now. He roared as he jumped over the wolf with an impressive front flip and landed in front of Buster.
"Leave him alone!" He growled. Miles snarled as he grabbed a staff and pulled Johnny aside. The gorilla used his second staff and tripped the wolf. Buster moved as he landed, but Miles caught his leg.
"Time to finish the job." He growled.
Johnny watched in horror as Miles flung Buster over the edge. Forgetting Miles for a moment, Johnny rushed to peer over and sighed a breath of relief.
Marcus was below, holding Buster's paw in his hand, the koala dangling over the vortex. Buster pointed up suddenly.
"Look out, Johnny!!" He cried.
Johnny ducked just as Miles tried to grab him. Johnny rolled onto his back and used his left leg to kick the wolf away. The wolf staggered a bit, holding his middle as Johnny jumped and struck him in the the chest with so much force, Miles ended up on his back. Johnny pressed his staff against Miles' chest, fully intending to break his sternum. Anger swelled in his own chest. He was going to make sure NO ONE hurt his mentor again. But as he raised his staff, Miles kicked him in the leg and he wobbled as the wolf rolled onto his paws and knees and attempted to escape while Marcus pulled Buster back to safety. The showman ducked under the platform where Johnny and Miles were battling and noticed a stage light. An idea forged in his mind and raced towards it. "Hold on, kids, I'm coming." He said to himself.
Miles then turned and reached, grabbing a staff, pulling it close before striking Johnny, forcing him away. He then turned to the lift, preparing to go down and finish off Buster when Ash jumped into view.
"Leave my dad alone!" She snapped and turned her back on him as quills shot from her back. Miles lifted an arm to protect himself, but to no avail. His entire left arm and part of his face were now embedded with Ash's handy work. Ash turned back to face and slid in between his legs and stuck one with another quill, making Miles stumble.
Johnny was up again and facing Miles, striking him in the muzzle, resulting in an agonizing howl as he clutched his damaged nose. He made a move forward towards Ash before a gray trunk found its way around his leg and yanked him to the ground. Johnny winced at the impact as the platform shook, before Miles used his claws to strike at the trunk. Meena pulled back just in time and Ash used a lose quill to stab his paw, keeping him away from Meena. Miles yelped and shoved her away. Johnny leapt and landed in the middle of his back, hoping to restrain him, but Miles kicked him in his lower back with his heel and elbowed him in the chin, making the gorilla stagger back, temporarily dazed. Miles stood, grabbing Johnny's staff as he marched towards Ash, who put up her paws, ready for a fight. Meena made her way up, and positioned herself beside Ash.
"Leave our dad alone!" Meena cried as she used her trunk to grab the staff.
The elephant and wolf struggled a moment before Meena used her strenght to yank it from Miles' grip. The canine growled as he leapt for the two young animals.
"Don't touch my kids!" Someone cried.
Miles looked up to see Buster swinging in on a stage light, using it as a zip line. Sticking out his feet, Buster aimed and struck Miles in the chest. Johnny recovered and used his staff to trip the wolf as he went over the edge. As Buster passed, though, Miles grabbed his leg and the koala lost his grip as they both fell into the vortex.
Meena, Johnny and Ash cried out in unison, racing to platform's edge as they watched in horror as Buster plummeted down. Johnny attempted to dive after him, but Meena held him back, with a tearful tug on his costume.
Miles pulled Buster closer and turned them around midair so that Buster would hit the ground first.
"Least I'll know I completed my task." Miles sneered.
Buster frowned as he closed his eyes. His family was safe. He was content with that. With this thought, he snapped his eyes open and delivered a powerful kick to Miles' already damaged muzzle. Miles howled before he was suddenly grabbed and halted in midair. Buster watched in amazement as he was suddenly shifted away. Before he could see why, HE was caught. He felt two arms wrap tightly around his waist and with a twist of his head, he saw who.
"Need of a lift?" The mother of 25 smiled as she and Buster flew through the air, landing on another platform where Clay Calloway was waiting for them. Buster turned and saw Gunter doing the same, Miles in his grasp. They landed close by and Miles struggled to escape the dancer's grasp. Gunter growled as he dropped kicked the wolf in the crotch and the canine dropped to his knees, whimpering. Satisfied, Gunter ran and swept Buster up, hugging him close while Clay kept a protective grip on Buster's would-be second murderer.
Miles recovered somewhat and looked up to see the great lion peering down. Clay snarled a bit, revealing a set of teeth far stronger then Miles'.
"Are you okay, Buster?" Gunter asked.
"Never better, Gunter." Buster said with a shakey tone.
Rosita saw his nose dripping blood and frowned as she carefully took him from Gunter and gave him a once over. Once she got to his middle, Buster couldn't hold in a hiss of pain as he winced.
Mother-mode activated, Clay and Gunter stood by as Rosita started unbuttoning his shirt till she saw his bare chest, already showing severe bruising. Rosita's eyes narrowed, angrily. The mother of the group slowly stood, her cloven hoof clenched.
Miles was coming back to a standing position as Rosita whipped around and delivered a powerful-
The force from Rosita's punch was enough to send Miles back to the ground. He hovered a bit before landing on his back, unconscious.
Rosita turned back to Buster, Clay and Gunter who were staring, their mouths agape.
"What?" She asked, innocently.
"Remind me to never piss her off." Clay said.
The koala didn't have time to respond before he was swept up by two familiar, strong arms. Johnny held his mentor tightly to the point Buster was afraid he might pop. This fear only grew when Meena snatched him away for an embrace of her own. Ash managed to get her chance by tugging on Meena's dress and taking the Showman tightly in her arms.
"Stupid koala! What were you thinking?!"
"We were so worried we lost you again, Mr. Moon."
"You gotta quit scarin' us like this, mate."
With each tearfilled sentence, the kids grasped a tighter hold on their father figure. Finally they released him and allowed Buster to breath. "Believe me, guys. I-" he shuddered before Johnny lay a comforting hand on his shoulder. Buster smiled as he gathered the courage to finish. "I thought I was a goner this time. I would have been. But you all saved me."
The gang smiled tearfully as they took Buster into a much needed group hug. Buster felt he was now is danger of suffocating, but be honest, he didn't mind and instead, embraced it.
The group released each other and noticed the two officers from before arriving on a lift, a water Buffalo had joined, along with Marcus. The fox, Officer Wilde quickly whipped out some hand cuffs from his pocket and snapped them onto Miles' wrist who was being guarded by Clay.
Nick stopped and looked up, mesmerized. "Holy- you're Clay Calloway! Geez, wow I'm a big fan."
"Miles Clawson," the water Buffalo interrupted, gruffly. "You're under arrest for developing dangerous plans with inmates and the attempted murder of Buster Moon."
"Chief Bogo! Long time, no see." Miles growled.
The Chief grabbed Miles by the collar and lifted him up. "Been after you for awhile, Clawson. Now I finally have enough to put you behind bars for a looong time."
As Chief Bogo and Marcus escorted Miles back down the lift, Officer Hopps waved the group over. "Hi, we met earlier, I'm Officer Hopps and this is my partner, Officer Wilde. But you can call us Judy and Nick. How are you doing, Mr. Moon?" She asked, noticing the beginning stages of bruising in various parts of the koala's face.
Buster raised a paw. "Buster, please and I'll be fine." He glanced at his crew. "They're all the help I need."
Johnny patted his shoulder again and Rosita smiled. "We'll take care of him." She assured.
"Yeah, Rosita here is mothering 25 kids, she can like totally handle our Buster." Gunter smiled.
Judy's eyes widened. "Wow, and here I thought only rabbits had big families."
"How many do you have?" Rosita asked.
"Me? None, but I have 275 brothers and sisters."
Rosita staggered a bit before Meena caught her. "That IS a big family. How does your mother handle that many kids!?"
"You can ask her after the show." Judy smiled.
Nick nodded. "They came to watch. Big fans. But, I think it's time for us to get back to our seats, Carrots." Nick said.
"That's right, crew, we still have the last half!" Buster clapped his paws together. "Alright, everyone! Places!"
The group paused and stared at him, a look of shock on their faces.
Buster frowned, worriedly. "What's wrong?"
The cast exchanged looks before Clay stepped forward. "Kid, you were nearly just killed. Again. For the second time in a week."
"If you don't call me Clay, I'm gonna stick ya with your kid's quill."
Ash flicked a stray quill from her head and offered it to Clay.
Buster frowned. "Guys, we have a show to finish-"
To everyone's surprise, it was Meena who spoke next. "No." She said. "Not until we know you're going to be okay."
"Oh, Meena, I'll be fi-"
"No, you won't!"
Buster's ears twitched back in surprise, as did the groups'.
Meena NEVER yelled.
"You weren't fine. You AREN'T fine! You didn't talk to us. You just bottled it up. How can we know you won't do that again? How do I know you're REALLY okay and not just hiding everything!?"
Rosita stepped forward to calm the young elephant, but Meena shrugged her away.
"We're nearly lost you TWICE and you're just shrugging it off like it's nothing. Well, it's SOMETHING to US! It's something to ME! You can't just hide your pain. You don't HAVE to hide your pain. We're ALL here for you! Just like you're there for us. I wouldn't be here without you, Mr. Moon. None of us would. You made us a family. We don't want to lose you. We want you by our sides. I NEED you by my side. Every show, every practice, every day! You're-" Meena was crying now as she got to her knees. "You're the only father figure I have. And I can't lose you."
Buster frozed. Touched. Pride filled his chest. Slowly, he approached the young elephant and pressed his forhead to her trunk as she softly sobbed. "Meena, I'm not going anywhere. I'm always going to be there for you." He placed his paw in her large one and patted it. "I love you, kid."
Meeena sniffed. "I love you, too." She replied, holding him with her trunk.
Buster then stepped back to address the rest of his group. "I'm sorry, everyone. I'm sorry for not telling any of you anything. That was wrong. But I didn't want to worry any of you."
"Not telling worried us even more so." Gunter said. "We were afraid you didn't..." The dancer runbed his arm awkwardly. "Didn't trust us enough with it."
Buster grabbed Gunter's hand in his own. "I trust you with my life, Gunter. All of you. I didn't want to worry you because... well, it's my fault. Johnny?"
The young gorilla looked up, his eyes bright and teary.
"Johnny, I'm so sorry I stuck you with that dinklesplat. I had no idea he was such... such a massive weirdo." Buster said, grabbing the gorilla's much larger hand with his paw.
Johnny cracked a smile. "Hey, if you hadn't, I'd never met Nooshy."
"Meena, I never meant to make you uncomfortable with Darius. I never meant for any of you to get hurt or hunted down. That whole trip was my fault. I put you all in danger. I didn't want to burden you with something that I caused-"
"That's enough." Clay interrupted. He stepped forward and bent down, placing a paw on Buster's shoulder, nearly covering his entire left side with his giant paw. "Did you mess up? Sure, we all do, sometimes. But you learned from your mistake. You're so focused on the negative, you didn't see the positive that came with it. Which I figure is an odd thing for you."
Buster blushed as the old lion continued. "You gave Johnny a crazy teacher, but you also helped him find determination and the guts to stand up to his bully. You helped Porsha realize she's more then what her father brought her up to be. Rosita faced her fears and during the time she couldn't face them, still gave her an amazing part. You helped Gunter create this amazing show and make it into a reality. You don't know it, but you gave Meena the confidence to talk to a guy who she absolutely adores. You helped Ash meet her idol and in doing so..." Clay stood. "You helped her shove an old lion off his tail and find his voice again. I was content on dying alone, with the intention to never sing, never play again. You helped me find my way back to the world. And Ruby would have been grateful for that. Because I know I am."
Buster smiled, softly before Johnny approached him. "We're all here for you, Mr. Moon. If you'll just let us in." He assured.
The showman glanced up, his eyes darting from Johnny's to the group's. "You're right. I promise you all, I will do better on sharing things. Especially about this. I won't keep anything from you all again."
"You better not." Rosita said, wiping a tear.
"We love you, Moon." Ash said.
Buster's heart swelled happily. "I love you, guys, too." He then checked his watch and yelped. "Alright, everyone, are we ready?"
"Not yet." Gunter said.
"Why, wha-" But Buster never finished for in that moment he swooped into another hug, the entire group embraced each other, happy and content that their little family was whole once more.
"Now we're ready." Ash assured as they broke away.
Buster gave them each a proud smile. "Alright, guys, places! We still have the second act!"
The show continued with no further set backs, earning yet another standing ovation from the crowd. Clay and Ash's scene was beautifully done, with tiger lillies surrounding as Buster had promised. Clay was so over come with emotion, he nearly found himself unable to continue the song, until Ash lay a paw on his and together they finished the rest of their act.
Buster joined the group in the bowing after the show. He was bruised and a little worse for wear, but the smile upon his face was clear for all the see.
Miles was escorted out by Chief Bogo to the awaiting patrol car where he was transported to the Zootopian Jail. Marcus assisted the chief in loading him, even getting a few small revenge trips in the process. Chief Bogo only caught Marcus assisting the wolf back to his feet. Needless to say, Miles was assisted into the patrol car with a few more bruises then he had walking out of the theater. "Told you I'd make sure you met the pavement." Marcus growled. Chief Bogo eyed him, suspiciously and Marcus laughed. "He tripped coming down the stairs."
The group reunited with Nana, Miss Crawley Norman and Alfonso in the lobby. Meena blushed as Alfonso gave her a rose. "A beautiful flower for an even more beautiful goddess." He said.
Nana raised a concerned eyebrow at Buster's appearance but he assured he'd explain later. She gave him a sad nod before a rare, affectionate pat on the head.
Judy and Nick even joined the group, followed by Judy's parents Stu and Bonnie, with who Rosita took aside to ask pointers on she handled all her children. Bonnie was more then happy to talk with another mother, whilst Stu and Norman shared a quieter, less hectic conversation.
Nooshy and Porsha high-fived each other on a successful performance before Barry and Stan led them to the snack stand for a drink, as honorary uncles to the group. Gunter and Ash excitedly chattering with Darius, telling him everything that happened with Miles while Johnny stood with his father, who was praising him on his skills as a junior fighter.
Buster was sitting alone, attempting to fix his fur when Clay walked up and took a seat beside him. "Doing okay, champ?"
Buster released a shuddering breath and glanced up at Clay. No words were needed as the lion wrapped an arm around the koala and gave him a comforting squeeze. "Not good with words, kid, but... thank you. Those flowers... Ruby would have loved it. I know I did. Heck, could hardly finish that song. Ash helped me through."
Buster smiled, finding his voice. "The least I could do, Clay."
"And I will say that's some family you got there."
Buster wiped his nose. "They sure are."
"I tell you what, soon as Nooshy came to tell us you'd be been kidnapped, Ash leapt into action. Never seen such a small animal cover so much ground in so little time."
Buster smiled, proudly. That's his kid.
Kids, he should say. Ash, Johnny AND Meena showed pure heroism when they came to help.
Buster was both grateful and proud beyond belief.
As he sat with Clay, he began to realize how much they had grown. With Ash beginning her music career, and already about to release her first CD, and Johnny and Meena were both stars of his theater, finishing school and beginning their lives. Meena had told him she wanted to continue singing in his theater, but she also wants to open her own baker shop. Johnny plans to continue with the theater business, acting and singing and perhaps even becoming a dance instructor with Nooshy, working in Buster's theater and helping the younger ones.
Buster never told them, but he secretly created trust funds for each of the kids and even started ones for Nooshy and Porsha. Though Porsha was practically set on her inheritance from her father.
Clay interrupted his thoughts "As soon as she was gone, I got on the phone with 911 and met Gunter and Rosita. We could see the fight from where we were. Saw you fly in and kick that darned canine over." Clay smiled. "You got guts, kid, you and your entire crew. More then I ever had."
"He's always had guts. And the courage." Nana said as she approached.
Clay smiled. "I take it you gave him that speech before?" He asked.
"Of course I did. He's too thick headed to realize it himself." Nana said, in annoyance but Buster could see the amusement in her eyes as she winked at him and took his paw, giving it a squeeze. "Good to see you in once piece." She said.
Buster nodded as they noticed the group starting to join them.
"Hey, Mr. Moon, you okay?" Johnny asked.
"Never better, kid."
"Hey, Moon Crew!"
The group turned and after a moment's searching, they found the owner of the new voice.
"Mike!" Meena greeted the jazz mouse as he and his wife, Nancy approached.
"Swell show, you guys put on. Course it might have been better with me-"
Nancy smacked Mike's arm before he could continue. The mouse laughed. "Relax, babe, I'm kidding. But seriously, guys, great job. Full house, sold out, eh? AND standing ovation?! You guys are on a roll."
Nancy smiled. "We're very impressed. That was an amazing show. You were all spectacular!"
"Thinking of coming back to theater, Mike?" Buster asked.
Mike smiled as he and Nancy shared a looked. "Nah, Moon, sorry, but Nance and I got other plans. You see... we want to start a family."
The group smiled and congratulated the mouse couple.
Mike held up his paws. "Yeah, yeah, Mike, the lead star turned diaper changer."
"Nice ring to it." Marcus snickered as he nudged Ash who snorted.
Mike turned to his former boss. "Anyway, Moon, you alright? Ya lookin' a little 'busted'." He began to laugh at his own joke before Nancy, again smacked him.
Buster shrugged. "This? Please, takes more then a few hits to keep Buster Moon down." He said.
"Yeah, heck, if a whole theater couldn't knock ya down, what could?"
Clay raised an eyebrow and Rosita shook her head. "Long story." She said.
"But worth the tale!" Mike said.
"Clay Calloway, wow, it's an honor to meet you! I had all your albums!" Nancy cried. Clay bent over and shook her outstretched paw with his index finger.
"I'm honored, madam."
"Well, Moon Crew, sorry we can't stay. Me and Nance got a an early gig tomorrow. I've been singing for a new jazz club here in Zootopia. Stop by and see us, sometime, huh? Drinks on me."
"Jà, sounds totally awesome! Gunter said.
"Speaking of which, let's head to the hotel. We still need rest for tomorrow's show and I want to check those bruises." Rosita said in a no-nonsense tone.
Buster tried to crawl away but Clay still had a grip on his shoulder. "Careful, kid, or she'll knock you out."
Rosita shrugged. "Either we do this your way or my way, Moon." For dramatic effect, she popped her knuckles and Norman shivered.
"Go with her way." He whispered.
Ash stared. "Knock him- did Rosita punch someone!?"
Clay laughed. "Oh yeah. Knocked that wolf clean OUT."
"No way! I can't believe I missed that!" Ash groaned.
The group laughed as they headed off towards their bus to travel to the hotel, saying good night to Mike and Nancy. Clay held out his arm and escorted Nana to her limo, discussing their different tastes in music and theater.
Rosita winced as she continued to wrap Buster's middle with bandages. "Just a few more wraps and we're done." She assured.
The adults had gathered in the room Rosita and Norman were staying in to tend Buster's wounds. Johnny and Meena were sitting on the bed, rummaging through the First Aid Kit for an ointment for Buster's eye. Once they found it, they gave it to Gunter who started to apply it. Gunter proved to an excellent nurse with a surprisingly gentle touch. "I used get bruises and scrapes all the time when I was starting out my dance routines." He had said. "I got lots of practice on applying different remedies."
Marcus was nearby, assisting Rosita with the wraps. He'd learned a thing or two from wrapping his own hands if he went too extreme in his boxing practice. He gave Buster an affectionate pat on the head as they finished up.
Clay walked in a few moments later with a bucket of ice and few towels. "This will help with the swelling." He said. "Nana and Miss Crawley will be up later. They stopped to chat in the hotel bar."
Ash sat nearby, watching the situation unfold. The fury in her chest from earlier had died down, but only slightly. Johnny and Meena were choosing to be in the moment, helping the older animals, but Ash was still on that platform. "Leave my dad alone!" she had said. Perhaps it was official. Perhaps Buster was her dad now. She allowed herself a small smile at the thought. He'd always treated her like his own kid. He loved her, let her crash on his couch a few times. Isn't that what a dad does?
Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door. Marcus reached and opened it to reveal Norman, Alfonso and Porsha standing in the hallway, holding up pizza and several bottles of soda. "Soup's on!" Norman said, smiling.
Rosita finished and Buster began buttoning his shirt back up. "It'll sting for a few days. I suggest you stay up in the box seat tomorrow." Marcus said.
"YOU'RE suggesting, I'M ordering it." Rosita said. Marcus raised his hand in a salute, before nudging Buster. "Yes, ma'am. Moon, you better listen to the lady."
Buster moved to argue before he winced in pain. "Alright, fair enough." He said in defeat.
Rosita grabbed a slice of pizza and passed it to Buster. "I know you haven't eaten all day." She said.
Before Buster could question that logic, she held up the squashed granola bar he had in his pocket and he blushed. "I forgot?"
Rosita hummed. "Uh huh. Well I'm going to make sure you don't forget this time."
"Such a mama-bear."
The rest of the eveing passed with laughter, stories and even a few scenes from the battle with Miles. Eddie even called to check in on Buster and the gang.
"The classes are going great! I had no idea there was more to theater then just pushing a few levers! The stuff they pull off behind the stage is amazing!" Eddie said excitedly.
"I could have told you that." Buster said, rolling his eyes.
But Eddie wasn't listening, he was still going on about his new semester. "We're learning a history of theater tomorrow! Say, you guys still going to need a stage hand by the time I graduate?"
"Of course!" Rosita said.
"Jà, totally!" Gunter agreed.
"Just send me your application and I'll think on it." Buster said, casually.
Eddie huffed. "What?!"
"He's kidding, Mr. Noodleman!" Meena said.
It wasn't long before Eddie had to turn in and said good night to everyone. But the New Moon Cast couldn't sleep and so continued their conversation on the night.
"I was very impressed. Rosita whipped around like lightning and BAM! Right in the wolf's kisser." Clay said, swinging his fist.
"I can't believe I missed Rosita punching the crap outta someone." Ash moaned. "Hey! Let's go visit Miles, you can show me then!"
The group laughed at that.
"Crikey, that bloke made me mad. Klaus made me mad too, but this guy really pissed me off!" Johnny said. "As soon as I saw his swoop up Mr. Moon, I was after them!"
"You should have seen him, this guy was up those stairs in a blink of an eye." Nooshy put in.
"Knew I didn't trust that bloke. He was a shifty character. And Johnny, my boy! You made your ol' dad proud! Those boxing skills I taught ya paid off!" Marcus said.
"Don't forget Meena! When she grabbed Miles and pulled him down?" Johnny shuddered. "I felt THAT pain."
Meena blushed. "It wasn't anything compared to the number Ash did on him. He looked like he had more quills then Ash!" She said.
The rock star waved her paw. "And plenty more where that came from!"
"How about that kick Gunter sent him." Rosita added. "He's not gonna be having kids after THAT."
Gunter dramatically bowed.
"What about Buster swinging in like an action hero?" Ash said.
Meena shuddered at this part. "Ooh, yeah and when he and that wolf went over, that was terrifying. Like reliving last week's show."
"Last show didn't have those Tiger lillies. I thought Clay was going to drop down and cry right there in the middle of the stage." Ash said.
"I about did. Ash convinced me to go on. But, golly. Those flowers sent me back."
"What were they for?" Porsha asked.
"They were Ruby's favorite. Mr. Moon was kind enough to add them to the show. A small gesture and perhaps a little unorthodox, but, my..." Clay pinched the bridge of his nose and gathered his thoughts. "They brought back memories. I really appreciated it, Moon. You made this old lion very happy."
When no reply came, they began to notice that they haven't heard Buster's voice chime in some time.
Clay found him first. "Well, looks like someone's finally getting the rest he needs."
The group turned to see Buster sat up right, leaning against Rosita, his arms crossed and eyes shut with a look of peace upon his face, complete with a small smile. Rosita smiled as she moved her arm so that Buster was in a more comfortable position.
Buster shifted and forced open an eye and she smiled. "Sorry. You okay?" She asked.
Buster returned the smile. "Never better." He replied as he sat up and stretched as the group continued their conversations. The Showman smiled. His little family had grown in the last few weeks, that's for sure. Nooshy, Porsha and Alfonso seemed to be making their selves comfortable in their little group. Johnny's father and uncles, though not necessarily new to the group were also finding their place and enjoying the company.
Then there was Clay Calloway. The old lion had finally found his passion and love for music once more. The death of his wife, Ruby, made him a recluse. He had hidden away from society, content on dying alone. But now he was smiling and laughing with Buster's crew.
The old rockstar caught Buster's eye and gave him a wink and smile, a sign that he knew what Buster was thinking. He then mouthed a small "thank you" before Marcus roped him into another story.
Buster sighed in content, feeling safe at last and loved, surrounded by his family.