“Plucky! Open the door!”
Wakko and Plucky both hold their breaths, a ritual that has now become second nature.
“What are you waiting for? I’m gonna get shot out here.”
Wakko know the voice better then his own. But it still makes him tense. Plucky is the one that steps forward, as always. Wakko never even goes near the door.
“You’re clean, right? And you brought food?”
“I wouldn’t have bothered to come back. Listen, I can find my own hole and you can find your own food if you still don’t trust me.”
“Hey, I trust you!” But he doesn’t open the door. He waits. He looks like he’s thinking hard about something. “We both trust you.”
“That’s nice. Can you just open the door?”
“No one’s with you, right?”
“Oh my- You know what? Starve. I’m leaving.”
Plucky yanks the door open then. Yakko stands before them, his gas mask hanging from his belt by its strap, a few pieces of trash bag stuck to it. Wakko gags, and is surprised Plucky doesn’t follow suit. Yakko reeks of acid.
“You went outside?”
As Yakko walks in, Plucky steps back. Yakko smirks a little as he bolts door.
“Just for a second. I had to go for a little run between tunnels. The soldiers that I’ve - we‘ve, I guess - been stealing from moved out of this building. We should, too. I asked around, and I found their new place. I‘m thinking they‘ve mapped the tunnels somehow, because it was right after the main system cuts off.”
He reaches into his pockets and pulls out two cans, throwing them toward Wakko. Wakko very visibly fights the urge to pounce forward and break one open. He can’t remember the last time he’s eaten. But, of course, neither can Yakko or Plucky.
But Plucky looks disgusted. “That’s all?”
“I had a lot more, but it didn’t survive the rain. Which is why we need to leave now. Those won’t last a day, and I’m not risking my life every ten minutes while you two sit around here all day doing nothing.”
Plucky ignores everything. Selective hearing. “Where’d you get the plastic, and where is it now?”
“Took it off some idiot sleeping near the end of the tunnel. I gave it back to him.”
“I can’t believe you. You just throw something so valuable back and-”
“It got pretty ruined in the rain. It’s getting worse.”
For the first time, Wakko speaks. “Worse? How could it have gotten worse?”
“It’s corroding human things too now. Not just ink.”
Plucky’s head whips up toward the ceiling so fast it makes Wakko dizzy. “Does that mean-”
“I think so. The new building has some weird metallic stuff covering it. I guess they made it to resist the rain. For now. So we should leave.”
“I can’t breathe,” Wakko says. And he can’t. He feels like he’s going to throw up, too, but he doesn’t share that information. The fact that Yakko smells like the outside doesn’t help much.
“You might want to eat first. The air makes you throw up if you‘re not used to it, and it’s not fun sitting there dry heaving for ten minutes.”
“We’re gonna die.”
Yakko finally looks at Wakko. “No. We’re on one of the lower levels of this building. The people on the top level are hardly even in danger yet. It could take a week for it to eat through just the roof. But we do need to get out of here.”
But Wakko can’t talk anymore. His knees give and he’s staring at the wall.
“I think he’s afraid to go outside,” Plucky says. He doesn’t sound too keen on the idea himself. “Yakko, it’s,” he huffs. “How do you do it? It’s terrifying.”
“I think of you two idiots and how I don’t want either of you to die. Maybe you could just do me a favor and try to help yourselves for once.”
“Maybe we could do you a favor and kill ourselves.”
Yakko spins around and smacks Wakko so fast, he doesn’t even know what to do after he grabs Wakko’s shoulders and pulls him close to him. But the words come. They always come.
“I already lost Dot. I’m not losing you.” He lets him go. Wakko, much to Yakko’s relief, doesn’t look hurt or scared. He just looks ashamed of himself. “Don’t ever say anything like that to me ever again.”
Plucky sighs, choosing to ignore the brothers. “So you think we should leave tonight?”
“Tomorrow morning, if it stops raining. The dark won’t give us any kind of advantage.”
“Whatever you say. We’re going to have to leave our stuff, aren’t we?”
“Even if it nothing gets ruined or stolen, it’ll just weight us down. Leave them for some other bozo.”
Wakko sits there and listens to them, feeling useless. Dead weight. If Yakko wasn’t his brother, they would have ditched him by now. A long, long time ago. He would have been one of the first to die when the rain came if Yakko hadn’t been there. He strong and smart and knows who to trust. Wakko’s clumsy and has some brawn, sure, but that doesn’t stop acid from eating through your ink. He’s paranoid of the wrong people and makes friends with cons and crooks.
But he was the one who noticed when they gassed out the tunnels back when everyone lived down there. He smelled it. He heard them. He warned them. There were probably only ten survivors out of the hundreds of toons who had lived down there, and three of them were Yakko, Wakko, and Plucky.
What kills him is that he has no idea if there was one more. If Dot should be included in the count. It kills him that Yakko assumes she’s dead, and it makes him feel crazy for even hoping.
But then there’s Fifi. Yakko never even mentions her. But she was there. She was with Dot. It makes Wakko queasy, thinking about it. Thinking about the swelling in her stomach and her smile and the way she said, “I don’t know how to tell him.” The way she kept touching her stomach and the glances she shot Wakko and Dot when Yakko didn’t even notice.
It all makes him queasy.
He’ll never be able to even say Fifi’s name out loud again, not while Yakko’s still alive.