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Summary: Male!Jessica was the first to admit that he has feelings for her. For a rabbit who makes a fool of herself for a living, that’s just one of the reasons why she’s finding him hard to believe. Comeback of the Genderbend Universe. Cover Image by Rachel Ordway of CrackpotComics 

Chapter 5: Why Me?


"Eeeeeeeeeeee!"

"Clusters of blue borages funneled like an overflowing cornucopia! Sweet daylilies flitted to add a little sweetness to their cucumber taste! Purple pansies here and there, giving the whole bouquet a dash of grape flavor! And look! There's-"

Jesse smiled at Rhoda whose eyes were sparkling like Christmas lights. She clasped her yellow-gloved hands excitedly as she yapped by the glass window. Edible flower bouquets were displayed inside the flower shop, attracting every vegetarian anthropomorph –like a certain rabbit for instance.

"Oooh and roses! They even come glazed in honey! Hey, Jesse! Remember when you gave me a bouquet once? How did you know it was my favorite at that time?"

Rhoda turned to him, waiting for his reply. His eyes were trained to bouquet of violas. Perhaps he was entranced by their natural symmetry.

"That was my first attempt to confess my affection," he said plainly. "It was a serendipitous, watching you enjoy it."

She stared at him as heat slowly crept up her cheeks. She turned away, yanking down her ears before steam could escape from them. Was that the reason why he kept staring when she was eating the roses?

"So… at that time. You weren't giving me a snack?"

"No." Of course, telling her that she made petal nibbling looked desirable would probably scare her off. "But I'm glad you liked it."

Rhoda hunched over embarrassedly or perhaps it was the cold night in Cartoon City. She took a long inhale, her nose sampling the fresh, flowery scent of toon floral. Animated scented plants were charged higher since it took a special skill from artists. She splayed her hands on the cool glass, her nose pressed on it.

It had been almost weeks since her Jester number in Charcoal Groove. Jesse could see it in her eyes before she'd look away, could see it in her the hesitance, the confusion before she'd interrupt moments that hint even a degree of tension.

There's something else Rhoda needs from your first, Pops' voice echoed inside his head.

But what?

There were suddenly giggles not far from him. A waft of strong perfume fought dominantly with the light smell of the flower shop.

"Go ask if he would like to join us, I dare you!"

"What? Not me!"

"C'mon! He's alone, he probably wants a good time!" a third voice said. He could hear shoes shuffling and scraping among the giggling, as though they're trying to push each other to him.

A gentleman doesn't roll his eyes. But right now, it felt like this situation deserved it. From the glass' reflection, he watched them hover behind a distance.

"Stand back, gals," a fourth, more confident feminine voice said. "I'll handle this."

At that instant, Jesse stepped closer to Rhoda and took her hand. She looked up in surprise, the clusters of scarlet nasturtiums and pinks forgotten.

Jesse stared hard ahead, pointedly entwining his fingers through hers.

Silence met his actions. A snort was heard.

"That? Pffft!"

"What a waste."

There was scraping of shoes that grew fainter along with their derision.

"Let's go, ladies."

Rhoda could see his jaw set, glaring at their retreating reflection, he almost frosted the glass. She looked back at the group of humanoid young ladies walking away, chatting and laughing.

She tugged at his hand, "Hey."

He snapped out of his dark clouds and he turned to look at the doe beside him.

Rhoda smiled at him. It must be hard to be hit upon constantly by random strangers. Good thing they're alone now. "They're gone," she said as she retracted back her hand.

Her hand was only clasped harder.

She looked up in surprise only to turn away, her heart emulating a tomtom drum again every time he looked at her like that. Ever since she knew, he had been… expressive. Almost beyond platonic boundaries.

A silence thick with the unsaid enveloped them when Rhoda firmly slipped her hand away from him before facing the window again. She could hear the traffic from afar and the absence of footsteps.

Jesse stared at her. The lamppost shone down on her lost expression, the way her hands crossed to cup her elbows, shoulders hunched. She looked so vulnerable, the way her ears flopped, that Jesse took a step forward.

But he froze when she spoke.

"Why me, Jesse?"

His eyes widen at her question but she kept looking at the glass. After following her gaze, he realized she wasn't gazing at the bouquets anymore.

He stared at the man and the doe in the glass.

His tall frame and her small stature.

His tanned complexion and her white fur.

His realistic human build and her floppy ears and feet.

"Does that bother you so much?"

Rabbit ears stiffened at his question. She felt the hurt more than she heard it. Realization dawned when she saw him staring at their images.

"No!" she whipped her head to face him. "It's not that!"

She looked at him, her eyes revealing tentative confusion now that she's not avoiding his gaze. "It's just that…" she sighed and put a hand on her chest. "Why me?"

Rhoda shook her head hard, words tumbling out of her mouth.

"I -I know I'm silly. But I'm not stupid! There are women out there, prettier than me, smarter than me. A lot that guys would prefer over -over this!" she said, gesturing at herself.

Then she waved her hand at him. "And you! You're... perfect! Almost perfect! I'm not blind! You're kind and attractive and smart. A lot of women would loved to be with you-"

He continued to be silent. So why don't you?

"-and if they only know the Jesse that I know, they'd be breaking down your door-"

But you?

"-and you get things that I don't understand!"

Her heart thudded with the feeling of getting her rambling thoughts off her chest. So why was he giving her roses? Why was he singing her poems that could melt anyone's heart? Why was she the one receiving all that acts that she feared to even name it? She looked up to him with sky blue eyes that seemed to be beseeching. For what?

"So why me, Jesse?"

She looked up to him with sky blue eyes that seemed to be beseeching. For what?

"Rhoda…"

He stared at her, she was so close but so far away. But every time he got to hold her, she'd zip away with a fast found diversion.

"The world is only interested in what they can get from you…"

Jesse looked back at the glass, his tone blunt.

"…and you're no different."

Blue eyes widened at his straightforward statement. Rhoda was used to his brusque manner of speaking but that was-

Then he dropped down to one knee, meeting her eyes. He tilted her chin with a warm smile that he rarely expressed.

"Except all you wanted is to make me laugh."

He wished he could have said it more romantically but it was the simplest form of the long list of reasons to her question.

She stared at him. But that was nothing special about her. That was just her being herse-

Rhoda suddenly pulled away and he stilled another stab of disappointment. She looked down on the ground, unable to meet his eyes. Savagely, she squashed the escalating warmth before it would project into stars or tweeting birds or hear-

"Go out with me."

"Huh?"

"You heard me." He straightened up. "You seem hesitant about this whole thing. Think of it as test run. This time, official dating."

She cocked her head to one side. "We never un-officially dated."

"We did whenever we go out somewhere, eat somewhere, talk somewhere –together."

"That's not dating!"

Jesse smirked down from his height. "We're doing it right now," his hand waving once to indicate.

"We're not!"

And since toons came from humans, suggested changes were always met with resistance.

XOXOXOX

Mina cracked her eyes open to a dark, bleary haze.

She scowled, wondering why was she awake. A thunder rumbled outside.

"Mina."

Lightning flashed outside the window, momentarily bathing the shadows. Baby blue eyes widened at the sight of a pale rabbit standing over her bed, her hollow eyes boring down at her.

"I had a bad dream."

Screeching bats frantically flew away from the sound of a long, horrified scream.


"Jinkies, Mina! You didn't have to hit so hard!" Rhoda rubbed the now painless spot where a huge goose egg had resided.

Mina glared at her with gritted teeth, her cherubic hand stabbing her stubbed cigarette with vengeance. "You were standing over me like a gawdamned horror movie! How did you get here, anyway?"

"The same way you broke into mine last time," the rabbit said like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

The "baby" sighed, rubbing her temple and remembering the happy, peaceful memories when Mina had acquaintances and no friends.

"Couldn't you wait to tell your nightmare a few hours later?"

"I dreamed I killed a human, Mina."

Mina's cheeks ballooned and a farting sound came out of her suppressed lips. She threw back her head in laughter. "Pffffft! You? You couldn't even kill time!"

"But it felt so real!" she exclaimed, her arms gesturing around in emphasis. A rabbit foot thumped worriedly on the floor. "It felt like I was riding somebody's head. My head!"

Mina looked at her with a new cigarette between her two chubby fingers, crossing her plump legs. "You're not making any sense."

"I felt like I was watching but I'm not the one moving." She hopped off her chair. "I have this dream where we're comic book toon stars and I'm brown and white who's only wearing a skirt but it was so normal! And I hired a lady to investigate our bosses, the DeOylie Sisters because-"

Mina looked dryly at Rhoda pantomiming her story in flashes: holding a comic book, wearing only a skirt with her arms covering her chest, wearing a trenchcoat and split-second splitting into caricatures of scowling high class women.

"-they were undervaluing me or something and that my husband left me for one of them! I had a whirlwind marriage with that man who looks like Jesse! But after 2 years, he started acting mean! And cold! Not Jesse crust-cold! Unlike Jesse core-cold! And he started womanizing and left me and I was so miserable and angry, I killed his girlfriend that was my boss!"

Then Rhoda was suddenly holding a bouquet and wearing a veil, then an exaggerated frowny face, then a parody of a womanizer with Mina as an unfortunate participant, and then she was miming a gun –all while she was talking.

The rabbit dropped the watergun with a clatter, looking sick.

"The whole time, my body was acting in its own. My mouth was speaking in its own. It felt like I'm an intruder of that body. But she's also Rhoda Rabbit."

She flopped back to her chair, her hands running over her face. "I woke up after she pointed the gun. But I knew what she did."

The mirror on the wall suddenly shimmered and Mario Poppins stumbled out and crashed unceremoniously to the floor.

"Accursed alternating inter-reality astral attraction!"

Pop stood up, dusting white disintegrating wisps off his butler suit.

Mina folded her arms, leaning back on her chair. "Hello, Pop."

"Wow, Pop! How did you do that?"

"Did what, Rhoda? I merely tripped."

"You just went through a mirror!"

"A mirror?" he asked incredulously before giving a vain sniff. "What utter nonsense!" he said as he poured a drink for Mina who held her glass.

"Ignoring the butler," Mina said, "I'm no psychologist. But what's eating you and you had a dream THAT ridiculous?"

"A one-in-a-million anomaly where a toon's astral body flits though the fabric of its reality and into another universe where it becomes attracted to its equal substance. The toon would have been induced into a death-like coma unless an intervention involves in travelling the astral plane to tug its astral thread back into its own original body," Pops said matter-of-factly, producing a bucket of ice from his coat pocket.

Rhoda and Mina stared at him.

Mina rolled her eyes. "Poppins, if you're not going to make any sense, shut your cakehole."

One side of Poppins' nose twitched before he primly arranged an immaculate napkin on his pocket. "It does make sense, if you know anything."

The "baby" bristled at his tone and both mistress and butler glare death at each other. "Why you snarky-"

"Someone just please tell me my dream is ridiculous and I'm ridiculous for even flipping out for it!" Rhoda appeased, waving placating hands between them.

There was a terse silence before both baby toon and butler turned away from each other, harrumphing.

"But really, Rhoda," Pop said, "the Rhoda in your dream isn't and will never be you."

Rhoda looked at him as though he just answered a history lesson to a math problem.

"But Pops," the doe said, "you weren't here when I told my nightmare."

"I got sharp ears," Pops said without missing a beat.

Mina made a "hah!" sound.

Rhoda played with the hem of her pajama top, her mind turning over the remnants of her nightmare. What she had told Mina were only flashes of what she could remember. But it was the tremendous emotions dream-Rhoda had experienced that made two things hard to forget: murder and a broken marriage.

The horror of someone going to be killed in front of her was going to give her sleepless nights.

But the broken marriage she had witnessed from the view of a crying, begging dream-Rhoda would always break heart. Before dream-Jesse left her, he even said-

"Mina, what does it felt like when I kiss you?"

The "baby" turned to her in surprise. Then her face returns back to disgruntled. "You mean the times you got to kissed me before I kicked you? Ticklish."

"That's it?"

"Yeah, you're furry!"

"It's not like being kissed by a bearded, hairy midget?"

Mina gave her a deadpanned, deciphering look. "This isn't about Jesse, is it?"

"No!" she hurriedly shook off her embarrassment before her toon body would react to it. "Just… It just came into my mind."

XOXOXOX

Pops unfurled a comforter and let it waft gently over Rhoda who fell asleep on the sofa.

Mina grumbled and adjusted her lounging robe on her infantile frame. Something tapped her on the shoulder and she plucked it.

She stared at the crisp white envelope in her hand.

"My resignation letter," Pops said.

Mina grunted. "When's your replacement coming?"

"Tomorrow morning. It's done."

She snorted. "What? You've taken care of one of my valuables?" she asked, laying the sarcasm thick on the last word.

Pops simply breezed by her as she returned to her bedroom. "Yes, she is safe now."

Mina stilled at his words. "You have got to be kidding me," she said in disbelief as she looked at him over her shoulder.

But Pops was already closing his bedroom door to pack.

XOXOXOXO

Jesse stepped outside Charcoal Groove, his coat folded in his arm. The door slammed firmly behind him by the toon gorilla bouncer.

"Krupnik."

He looked up to see a silhouette of a finely dressed gentleman with a suitcase. Even in the dark alley, the tip and head of his cane glinted silver in the moonlight.

"Poppins." What's Mina's butler doing in the human city at this time?

"I've resigned."

"In the middle of the night?"

"The winds don't wait."

Jesse nodded as though that made sense. Then Poppins spoke.

"You're going to hurt her someday."

He felt himself sucked in air and his muscles tensed at his words.

"Who?" but then he already know the answer.

"The company you tend to attract, Jesse, can be quite obsessive about you."

Jesse gritted his teeth. So much for sentimental goodbyes, Pops was going away with a shiner if he keeps along to that vein. "I can pro-"

Poppins continued on as though he hadn't spoken. "You see her as a pure soul. But you?"

Mina didn't have to order him to get a background check on the male toon. Jesse's Cartoon City registration started the same time the shady side of toon showbiz had boomed in the 1920s before it was loosely banned. If he had been drawn for just singing entertainment, Poppins wouldn't know.

"You see yourself tainted. Someone who had seen too much. Probably been too much."

Jesse was too surprise to even glare at him. Poppins was talking in that I-know-better-than-you manner but his voice was bordering to sympathetic.

"And you're going to sacrifice anything and everything you've got just for her. Because you don't think you're worth it."

Poppins' dark eyes shone at him in the night. "And that's what's going to hurt her."

The wind whistled by, flapping their suit jackets. Poppins twirled his cane over his head. His feet lifted off the ground and the wind carried him away like a floating dandelion seed.

XOXOXOXOX

May Poppins be hit by a well-placed lightning.

Jesse scowled, remembering his departing words. The way he said them, it was as though he was prophesying. Ridiculous. He wouldn't let anyone touch her.

Which might be impossible for this case, for they were in a crowded area at the present time.

Rhoda bounced happily ahead with his hand in tow. She looked back at him eagerly and Jesse couldn't help but let a smile show on his face.

After being told "no" for weeks, she finally agreed after Jesse tricked her to say "yes" when she got him to banter with her.

He knew she still felt awkward about dating so he simply took her to the fair. Popcorns, balloons, games and rides. What more could a fun-loving bunny asked for?

And it's friendly enough to make her feel at ease.

"Jesse, look! A rifle game inspired by Buggy and Daphne and Elma Fudd!"

Sure enough, rifles were laid across the booth and in the distance, duck and bunny cutouts with target circles.

Rhoda looked warily at the rifles, remembering the pistol in her nightmare. She took a deep inhale. It had been just a dream.

"You know how to shoot?"

Snapped out of her thoughts, Rhoda shook her head. "Do you?"

Jesse paid the game master and held up a small-bore rifle. "I'm more skillful with a pistol," he tossed it from one hand to another before aiming it. "But this will do."

The air rang with fired shots.

Rhoda's mouth hung open at the successive successful shootouts. "That will do, Jesse?" she echoed incredulously, "that will do?"

"It's easy," he replied. Before she knew it, he lifted her on the counter and placed the gun in her hands. She could feel his body's length behind her as he guided her hands. "Let me teach you."

XOXOXOXOXOX

"You sure you wanna go out with 'im t'night?"

Rhoda came out from the divided section of her room, adjusting her yellow-and-blue polka dot bowtie.

"Uh-huh."

Mina watched the wine pour into her glass before uprighting the bottle again. "It would be the third date."

"I know, Mina."

"Guys expect to get some action in the third date."

Rhoda halted in brushing her hair. A cloud projected above her head as she thought outloud.

Mina looked dryly at the cloud's content of swinging fists, explosions and obscene number of flying bullets.

"No, Rhoda. I mean getting into first base."

"We're not going to a baseball-"

"Not that kind of first base, you idiot! A kiss!"

The brush dropped with a clatter.

"What?! Do I have to?"

Rhoda scrunched the hem of her dress as she looked out of the car window. Now that Jesse was taking her home, her and Mina's past conversation was taunting her.

The car stopped and Rhoda startled.

She was doomed.

"We're here," Jesse said.

Just say good night and get out was Mina's sage advice.

"Good night and get out."

Jesse looked at her in confusion. "What?"

Rhoda banged her head on the dashboard. So much for Mina's sage advice.

"Nothing! Sorry my mind's all abuzz and it must have been one too many carrot sodas a while ago and is it getting hot in here? Whoo boy! We should definitely open the windows! Do you get that sometimes? When you feel like buzzy bee and-" all the while her hands gesticulated as though trying to summon the right words.

"Rhoda," he said quietly.

She instantly fell silent to hear him better.

"What is it?" he continued.

"Do you want me to kiss you?"

It was a good thing he wasn't driving when she asked that. He internally felt himself lurch as though Earth stopped after he heard her question.

Momentarily his eyes widen before regaining his composure, his surprise only showing through the slight rise of his voice. "What?"

Rhoda took a big inhale, gesticulating faster. "I said-"

"Only if you want to."

He watched her deflate with relief. That almost hurt. She ran her hand over her ginger hair and rabbit ears. "Oh, okay. It's just that Mina said something about the third date and-"

She froze when Jesse leaned forward across his seat and on hers, his hands resting on either side of her seat.

It was déjà vu of the pantry room incident. But Rhoda could hardly analyze when Jesse was standing so close, she was drowning in his eyes.

"Remember, Rhoda, you have to meet me," he said, his breath ghosting over her lips.

She didn't lean back, nor did she move at all. She could see her eyes reflecting from his green ones, looking just as stricken as she felt.

Gentleman's kiss. Ninety percent. Ten.

He pulled away and Rhoda unlocked the car door.

XOXOXOXOX

Long idle fingers play bits and pieces on the aged yellow keys.

The inside of Charcoal Groove was dimly lit as the last remaining employees prepare to close for the night.

His fingers played the first part of Hungarian Rhapsody. It was solemn, in dark tones that stood in contrast with the ancient ivory teeth of the piano.

He thought dating would make Rhoda feel at ease. But in all honesty, he never asked how she felt about him.

His hands traced slow foreboding notes before quickening into cramped musical beads in the air.

They've been going out for weeks and Rhoda had been acting strange.

The symphony began to match his thoughts, his fingers swiftly keying the erratic flow.

She enjoyed their time together, he could see that. But lately at every drive back home, she had been quiet.

Rhoda… being quiet.

The rhythm slowed to more peaceful green-and-blue tones and the muscles on his shoulders eased.

He would ask her but she'd just say "Nothing" or "I'm fine".

The music strode faster like a pace of a hurrying man, a persistent little key rhythmically keeping in beat.

But what did she felt about him? What if she's acting strange because…

His fingers danced out of the pattern into a more upbeat melody, nearing the more vivid, cheerful part that made the piece famous.

And he couldn't. It just didn't match his mood.

"Jesse?"

He turned to the sound to find the black-and-white Bertie Boop standing in the stage's entrance.

"Hello, Bertie."

"Whoit are you still doing here?"

He tapped a crescendo on the keys. "Thinking."

Bertie nodded and strode to lean on the piano.

"It's been a whoile since Rhoda Rabbit had a performance here."

Jesse frowned slightly at his words, remembering how infatuated the other man had acted.

"Yes, she mentioned that when we went out," he stated, lightly playing a three-note piece.

There was a pause before Bertie turned to look at him. "You're… seeing each other?"

Jesse brushed back his bangs that had always fall over one eye, to look at him directly with two. "Yes."

"Oh."

There was an awkward silence. But Bertie smiled and shrugged, lifting it away.

"I'm happy for you."

Jesse turned back to the piano feeling internally relieved. He liked Bertie for being down-to-earth and friendly despite being a "hot toon star" in the 20s. Most usually let it in to their heads.

"Was that why you were smiling moire often?"

"What?"

"You were. You looked moire happy than Oi've seen you."

Jesse paused. He had no answer to that one.

Bertie grinned when Jesse looked down on the piano again. He was usually a pokerface but if being with Rhoda had made him smile like that…

"What a lucky goi!" he laughed, reaching over to slap Jesse on the shoulder.

The black-and-white toon bid goodbye and left, leaving Jesse with his thoughts once again.

Was he?

XOXOXOXOX

His eyes slid to her side as he walked her back to her trailer.

The drive back home had been silent. Again.

Rhoda had sat on the passenger seat, leaning on the window. Again.

She had been silent. Again.

He trained his eyes back to the path. What if she was just being nice all this time? What if she was dragging her heels since day one because she wasn't sure how to tell him no?

Jesse watched her face furrowed in thought. She was still being silent when they climbed up the steps and neared her door.

"Well… good night, Rhoda," he murmured when Rhoda held the doorknob.

"Jesse, wait."

Rhoda suddenly turned her back on the door and hopped the railing of the trailer steps. Her brows were still grimly creased in thought as she faced him.

"Can… can I kiss you?"

If he thought the world had stopped when she asked if he wanted her to kiss him, it was nothing compared to now.

"What?!"

"I just want to know if you would like it."

Fifty miles away, a man got suckerpunched in the face.

Jesse stared at her.

"No."

Her arms rose up and down agitatedly in front of her as though trying to summon the right words in thin air. "Because what if you won't?! What if –wait, what?"

Emerald eyes bore at her in the moonlight, "If you only want to kiss me for that reason, then no."

Rhoda stood there on top of the railing, hardly believing her ears. He's the one who said dating was a test-run. This was almost the same thing.

"But Jesse, what if you won't like it? I mean, I'm furry! What if-" she faltered, too embarrassed to continue. She hid her face in her hands, wishing the Earth would just swallow her whole.

What if they're not that compatible? What if after was all said and done, Jesse would snap out of it, finding her coat too hot or uncomfortable against him? What if they won't work because they're too different?

His brows scowled at her. "We had a deal, remem-"

"But what if I don't want to give my ten percent?!"

His eyes widened and his chest thumped heavily like a resonation of a heavy blow.

Warm hands cupped his face and he found himself staring into skyblue eyes.

"What if I want to give more than that?"

Jesse could only freeze when her lips ghosted shyly over his before touching his. He could taste (or was it smell?) something sweet and creamy with a hint of carrot cake –her dessert a while ago.

She pulled back, surprisingly out of breath, standing back from tipped toes. Her eyes caught his inquiringly that still bared his surprise.

"Well?"

It was chaste, it was innocent and it was certainly neither a ten nor a ninety.

She just gave him a hundred.

XOXOXOXOXOXOX

Sometime in the 1950s…

"It was nice to finally meet you, Rhoda Rabbit!" a human woman declared. Behind her, her teenage son looked around, bored.

Rhoda beamed when the woman asked for her autograph, "You too, Ma'am! It's always nice to see people enjoy our shows."

The mother chuckled, "Not just me, really. You were my son's childhood crush."

The teenager who was standing around apathetically, suddenly sputtered. "Mom! She's old and married and that was a long time ago!" he exclaimed before storming off.

The mother laughed and winked at Rhoda, "Can you sign that for him?"

Rhoda watched the mother's retreating form. Someone tapped her on the shoulder.

"Old and married? Really?" Jesse asked dryly. Toons don't age.

She chuckled, "Well, I am old and married." Her thumb rubbed over her ring beneath her glove as memories came back to her. Who knew?

Jesse must have seen her glance at it. "Remember when…"

They were sitting idly on the bench in the park. Or more specifically, Jesse was sitting on the bench and Rhoda was comfortably perched on his shoulder.

Toon crickets chirped a lazy lullaby from afar as constellations in the toon sky move and twinkled.

"Jesse, there's something that I've been wondering about."

The humanoid turned his head to his bunny girlfriend. She looked back to him with a solemn gaze. Rhoda uncurled his arm around her calves and hopped off his shoulder to face him better.

"It's been in the back of my mind but I never had the nerve to ask."

Jesse's response was his eyes to widen slightly in curiosity as Rhoda took a deep breath.

"Remember when you first encountered my I'm-such-a-natural-disaster-guys-get-hurt-around-me trait?"

"Yes?"

Her yellow-gloved hands clenched at her sides. "Did-you-look-up-when-I-jumped-over-you?" she babbled, her face crimson red.

A beat of silence as Jesse stared at her.

"Rhoda, you were wearing black tap shorts."

"Aaaaauuuurrrghh!" she yelled, yanking her ears over her eyes.

"I didn't see anything inappropriate, Rhoda," he calmly said as she went through her stages of embarrassment: freeze, fluster, flip out.

"Even so! That's only a sight for a doctor or a husband to see! It's a rule! This is just-"

A smile, more pronounced than usual for Jesse, lit his eyes. She just gave him a way to introduce the topic.

"That could be arranged."

Rhoda put a hand on her face, "I thought you were planning to study medicine at first!"

His low laughter teased her ears. "Marrying you was the plan all along," he said casually as he matched her pace.

His wife stumbled before righting up. "You're kidding me!"

"I'm not," he reached for her hand as they walk along. He had to reflect a lot when he realized that he was in love with a rabbit. "I knew what I wanted."

Rhoda was still looking at him with outright disbelief, "No."

"Yes," he smirked and scooped her up to his eye level. "What part of 'I'm coming for you' did you not understand?"

THE END. OR IS IT?

Chapter 5: Why Me?


Summary: Male!Jessica was the first to admit that he has feelings for her. For a rabbit who makes a fool of herself for a living, that’s just one of the reasons why she’s finding him hard to believe. Comeback of the Genderbend Universe. Cover Image by Rachel Ordway of CrackpotComics crackpotcomics.deviantart.com/…

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Not the characters. Not the songs.

Author's Notes
: There! Finished! Done! Geez, I am not going to write a purely romantic story for a looong time! It's just not for me. Too much fluff. (Sighs.)

Story Point Explanations:

1. I'm not sure if edible bouquets do exist but imagine eating them straight out the wrapper without vinegar and sauces.

2. In the first stages of attraction, people can't meet the eyes of the person they're attracted to because they have doubts like fearing the other person doesn't feel the same way. But in Rhoda's case, she's doubting herself. I kept facepalming at her metaphorical heel-dragging but Roger's a bit of a scaredy-bunny and so she is too.

3. Mario Poppins' words. Basically, I think that's how Jessica sees Roger and herself.

4. If you have guessed it, Rhoda's dream was a portion of GenderBended "Who Censored Roger Rabbit?"

5. The third date rule is a myth. You don't have to if you don't want to.

6. If you haven't guessed it, Bertie Boop is GB Betty Boop.

7. We all denied we have cartoon crushes once in our lives.

Previous: whenyinmetyang.deviantart.com/…

Sequel: whenyinmetyang.deviantart.com/…


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Summary: Male!Jessica was the first to admit that he has feelings for her. For a rabbit who makes a fool of herself for a living, that’s just one of the reasons why she’s finding him hard to believe. Comeback of the Genderbend Universe. Cover Image by Rachel Ordway of CrackpotComics

Chapter 4: When Rhoda Met Jesse


Many months ago…

"Rock –a-bye baby on the tree-top," he sang to himself.

The janitor kept on sweeping his mop as people mill past by. A bright yellow sign was propped beside him: Floor slippery when wet.

In the corner of his eye, he could see the famous toon, Baby Mina, inside the set's painted scene. A gray wisp of smoke rose from the end of her cigarette holder in her hand. With a smug little smirk, she settled comfortably inside a basket perched on top of the tree.

Lining the mop in front of him, he cracked his stiff fingers. If it wasn't' for Baby Mina's co-star constantly messing the set, he might have been fired a long time ago.

"HIYA MINA!"

Speak of the devil, the baby's co-star suddenly popped beside her, causing Mina's scream of surprise to be heard all the way to him.

Lips quirk to one side as he rested his chin on his hand placed over the mop's handle.

Silly girl, that rabbit.

He fiddled the ID pinned on his front pocket. "Joe" said on top, below it was the word "Janitor."

Joe rolled his eyes. People had the habit of calling him Joe Janitor. Very funny.

Meanwhile, Mina whirled at Rhoda with an open snarl. But then she froze.

CRRRR-

Both baby and rabbit tilted on the slowly dipping branch.

-RRRAAACK!

Joe flinched at the tremendous crash. Rhoda burst out of the fallen foliage, calling for her friend. Mina popped out beside her, ranting and raving.

He allowed himself a snicker before going back to his mopping.

If there was anything Joe learned about being a maintenance engineer, it's that people treat janitors like they're invisible. They're basically flies on the wall.

Pretty soon, he had nicknames for the drama happening around him. Baby Mina was the Old Brat. Cursing Cueball was the director. Even the sandwich guy has a nickname –Limburger because he smells like it too.

But he felt no inclination to give the rabbit a nickname yet.

Joe dunked the mop's head on a mixture of water, detergent and bleach. There had been the time he just felt down and no matter what he tried, he couldn't put a finger why.

One morning, he had been just moving through the motions. Mop, mop, dunk. Mop, mop, dunk. He mopped, turned around and dunked it on a pail inside his cart. Repeat.

Imagine his surprise when he had turned around robotically only to find a rabbit perched curiously on his cart.

"Hiya! I'm Rhoda Rabbit!"

After clutching his heart with a small cry of surprise, Joe had blinked at the rabbit chatting up a storm.

Where did she come from?

But as the rabbit talked on, he had soon learned she's the Old Brat's new co-star.

Joe's mouth had quirked amusingly as she prattled on. He had chuckled, replied and even laughed when she balanced a broom on her nose.

The toon simply radiated with happy rays, a far cry from Baby Mina's perpetual scowl off-camera. But he also felt bad for her. Her grins reminded him of open doors. She's one of those people whose naivety could harm her in a world of backstabbing showbiz.

The Old Brat had called her out and Rhoda happily waved at him before zipping off.

It then hit him why he was so sad for the last few days.

Between work and living alone, he had just been lonely. He didn't know it until someone cared enough to interact with him.

Joe snapped back to the present when the Old Brat stomped past him with her most pissed expression yet.

"Honey-doves! Baby-kins! Sweetie-pie!" Rhoda's high-pitched voice called after her.

The rabbit bounded after the "baby." She gave Joe a wave and a big grin before bouncing after Mina again with a trail of sticky endearments.

He could hear the Old Brat hissed at her butler. "Don't. Ask."

Joe gave Rhoda a small wave.

"Munchkin! Sugarpea! Cand- Aack!"

Mina suddenly stopped and stood her ground like a rock. Rhoda tripped over her with a soft thump.

But the rabbit just sat up on her hands with a laugh. Suddenly, her ears perked in attention.

Joe could hear her ask "Who's that?" to the Old Brat and Joe followed her line of sight.

The janitor scowled at the object of her curiosity.

Literally red hair stood out from the set, falling over one bored emerald eye. Long legs that resemble sophisticated red strokes of art were stretched languorously before the humanoid toon. The rouge tux jacket was worn over his bestowed frame, revealing the line between his pectorals.

Joe shook his head before wheeling his cart to another spot.

Jesse Krupnik.

It's true Joe didn't know him, but he did know of him. Every tabloid he had picked up while cleaning, had a column about him and different women in each new edition. Joe didn't bother to flip through the magazines either. There were always pictures of the toon making shirtless look sophisticated.

What on earth was that piece of character doing on a set of a children's show?

Joe casted him a glance before mopping again. He gave a soft snort.

The scarlet snob was reading the script with the most bored expression while he ignored everybody else.

Lounging around like he's too good for anyone; unapproachable , frigid bas-

"HELLO! I'm Rhoda Rabbit!"

Joe froze before continuing mopping. Why was he surprise in the first place?

Pretending to stretch his back, he stopped mopping to watch the rabbit standing on a seat beside Jesse. A small wave of protectiveness passed by him. Rhoda had become a sort of a friend. How many people actually converse with janitors?

He could see Rhoda chatting nonstop while her yellow-gloved hands blur in motion. Pompoms suddenly appeared on her hands as she jumped up with a shout of "Go Maroon Studios!"

She cheerfully prattled on while Joe scowled. Aside from Jesse's stoic expression, all he did was to coldly raise a brow –even at Rhoda's affable ambiance that could make any person feel at ease.

His brows furrowed, wishing Rhoda would just back away before she'd get embarrassed. It's obviously clear that Jesse wasn't the friendly type.

"-so if you need a hand, just ask!" he could hear Rhoda say, thrusting her hand to him for a handshake.

Jesse's eyes looked down on the held-out hand without even moving his head. A cordial smile that did not reach his dark green eyes forms in his lips as he clasped it.

The janitor finally understood the humanoid toon's intention when he stooped to kiss the yellow-gloved hand. He had seen it before with players in the bar –being manipulative by being charming was an underrated dirty trick.

Jesse straightened up clutching a disembodied hand.

Both Joe and Jesse startled. Jesse actually jumped a little. He looked up in surprise at a grinning Rhoda.

"Cause I've got spares!" she exclaimed, holding out more fake hands.

Jesse blinked, staring at her. Joe moved forward a little when he saw him tensed. The toon's shoulders shook. He covered his face with his hand.

Every person in the studio froze when they realized the laugh-out laughter they were hearing was coming from the stoic and silent Jesse Krupnik.


One week later...

"Jinkies, Ash! Don't read the real story of your movie! Ever!"

The strawberryblonde-haired man simply put another cube of sugar in her tea.

"Fear not, Rhoda. I'm aware of how different my upcoming movie is to the Grimm Sisters'," he replied. "Both start out as a young boy forced to work as a laborer in his own manor for his stepdad and stepbrothers."

He mixed his own cup. "The boy was able to go into a ball and meet the princess with the help of his elven godfather. Both stories tell how he left the princess with a glove extraordinaire at midnight."

Ash looked up, his blue eyes amused. "It was literally grim how the stepbrothers in the story cut off chunks from their hands to make them fit the glove."

He looked down on the set on the table. "My apologies, I forgot we're having tea."

Rhoda winced before popping a biscuit. "Well, I completely understand why Disney would edit it out into a comic relief instead." Her eyes caught sight of an object leaning on his chair. "Why do you always bring your axe?"

The Disney prince glanced down at it before shrugging. "Mrs. Waltina said I should get used with my prop while we're filming and all."

"Why not a broom?" she asked, pouring the teapot and setting it down again.

"Ow!"

Her eyes widened when she realized she had placed the teapot's base on his hand.

"Ash! Are you alright?"

The prince, though he dons a black vest over a simple long-sleeved shirt, shows his graceful acceptance of taking things in a stride. He calmly pats dry the tender spot.

"It's alright, Rhoda. It's just a little burn. At least still we know we have piping hot tea."

Rhoda tilted her head worriedly. A red line of the teapot's base rim was now forming inside the pink spot on his hand.

"Can't you shake it off?"

Ash chuckled. "I don't think it works that way for humanoids drawn from rotographs. We're more what people describe as 'realistic.'"

He remembered when the Heirarchy of Tooniness was explained to him on the day he was drawn.

Anthropomorphs had the most immunity to physical abuse.

Toons of non-living objects came second.

Animal and plant toons came next.

Humanoids could shake it off but it would take them far longer than the former three.

But humanoids drawn from rotographs were only more durable than humans.

He glanced at Rhoda who was looking at him with a sympathetic face of a puppy.

In the class of anthropomorphs, there was a subclass that was informally referred as 'cock-toons.' They're the ones that like cockroaches, they could shake damages off in a matter of seconds.

Tuney Loons, Goody from Disney and… the bunny girl before him.

Ash laughed reassuringly at her sad kitty eyes fit for an Animal Shelter poster. "Don't worry; the sting will go away in an hour. The scar… maybe in a few days."

He remembered getting lost in ToonTown which defied the natural order of physics. If it wasn't for Rhoda who acted as his guide, he might have gotten hurt in the confusion that ToonTown was.

Hence the tea in the café, it's actually his way of thanking the bunny girl.

"A few days?!" she exclaimed. "That's too long!"

She grabbed his hand and placed her hand on top of the spot carefully as though wishing she could make it go away.

"How do you humanoids live with it?"

Ash smiled and brotherly ruffled her hair. "Well, we just have to be extra careful."

XOXOXOXOXOXOX

Rhoda trudged sadly on ToonTown's sidewalk, dragging her parcel with her. Even though Ash reassured her that he'll be fine, she still shouldn't have been so careless.

Humanoids are like humans.

The curved pink scar on Ash's hand flashed inside her mind.

Fragile.

She looked up determinedly. She'll just have to be more careful around humanoids like Ash. It must be awful if one couldn't just shake off aches and pains.

Who else does she know who are humanoids? Frost White was one, the gallant prince with a heart of gold. Jesse too.

Her forehead wrinkled thoughtfully. Jesse. The show's new extra.

She cringed as she walked on. She's very aware of the constant replacement of male extras in the Baby Mina cartoon shorts. They always quit because she would accidentally get them hurt more than they could handle.

Yes, toons could shake it off but not all of them were as sturdy as her and the Tuney Loons.

So far, her blow-ups hadn't harmed Jesse.

Her eyes frowned determinedly. And she meant to keep that way.

The frown turned into a smile as her trudging turned to bouncing. Jesse wasn't so bad. The first time she saw him, there was something off.

Jesse was silent. Distant. But he obviously had a sense of humor.

So it didn't matter if Mina would give her a dirty look every time she'd invite Jesse to hang out with them after filming. Although Jesse would always pass the offer.

Rabbit ears perked up when she saw a familiar figure near the fruit stand.

"Jesse!"

Rhoda was beside him the moment he turned his head.

"Hiya! How are ya? Fancy meeting you here. Watcha buying?" she began to bounce up and down to see the contents of the fruit stand, stating a fruit every time she was up in the air. "Bananas? Oranges? Kiwi? Lime? Ap-"

She could see Jesse only give a quick, unhostile glance before looking back at the stand.

"Peaches," was all he said, his voice deep and velvety as he held the round, soft fruit in the palm of his hand.

A anthropomorph cow giggled as though he had just said something lewd. Jesse flat out ignored it. Why do people always think of him like that?

"Peaches? Ooh, peach cobbler. Not as good as carrot cake but carrot cake's my favorite although a lot would prefer peach cobbler. But what's wrong with carrot cake? It's sweet! Creamy! Cinammony! Yummy! Mo-" she halted.

Mina once called her Motor Mouth and it wasn't in an endearing way.

She cleared her throat. "Where ya headin'? Maybe we could walk together."

Jesse pointed to the direction where she came from.

"Oh, okay. See ya tom-"

She froze when she sensed it. A pulse.

Something rippled in the air.

BEEP! BEEP! BEEEEEE –CRASH!

A truck suddenly swerved and crashed against the wall.

Electric posts crackled and fizzled with sparks.

A lamp post suddenly fell down into a bench and catapulted an anthropomorphic bull that was sitting on it.

Oh no, she thought in horror as she watches the trail of scream following the flying bull, not again.

She suddenly looked at Jesse and paled.

"BYEJESSEGOTTAGO!"

Rhoda ran off, determined to put as much as space as possible between them. As she ran, male toons suddenly slip, trip and/or crash into hard objects.

"Rhoda!"

The rabbit looked over her shoulder in disbelief to see that Jesse was effortlessly catching up to her with his long legs.

Why oh why does she have to be short?

"Jesse, stay away!" she yelled. With a great cloud of dust, she zoomed off.

The rabbit ran as fast as a bunny toon could, the whole world turning into a blur. She squeezed her eyes against the wind and ran faster if possible.

She finally stopped, her heels screeching against the asphalt. Panting, she rested her hands on her knees.

"You just ran back here again," someone commented.

Rhoda screamed at the sight of Jesse.

"Stop following me!" Rhoda cried as she back away slowly.

A moment of silence passed as she awkwardly reflected on her words. A body crashed on to a wall followed by a deep "Ow!"

"You forgot your purchases," he said, showing her shopping bag.

A mallard toon was suddenly blasted with flames nearby. A pair of stunned eyes blinked open from the charred figure.

"Then put it on the ground and walk away!" she exclaimed.

She suddenly pushed her hands forcibly in the space between them as though placing a blockage. Jesse stopped when his foot hit an invisible wall.

He placed a hand on the unseen surface. Who knew chatterbox Rhoda could put up Mime wall?

Her eyes widen when he calmly slid it away.

Jesse raised a brow in confusion as he neared her. "You're acting strange."

He paused before correcting himself, "stranger."

She startled when a buck crashed down on the sidewalk, forming his exact shape on the ground.

"Jesse, get away from me," Rhoda begged, already walking away backwards, "now!"

Her foot caught on a pile of sacks.

"Eep!"

Stench blanketed her when her back squelched against rough sacks. Her hands squished through the wet sackcloth, feeling the overpowering, cakey goo.

I don't wanna know I don't wanna know…

She turned around to read a neon label of "Cow flops."

Rhoda facepalmed and drew her hand away from her nose again, wretching. Who would leave those there?

She scurried off the pile. Before she could ran away again, a brick wall mysteriously crashed down on her path. A flattened toon tomcat dizzily crawled out from it before inflating back into his original form.

Her whole body tensed into a tight knot as she faced Jesse again.

"Jesse, if you value your hide, RUN AWAY RIGHT NOW!" she said, her eyes darting for an exit.

BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

"LOOK OUT!"

Rhoda leaped and tackled Jesse out of a truck's way as it zoomed past. Time seemed to slow down as they both hang in midair disequilibrium. Rhoda's eyes widened as she saw the open dumpster over Jesse's shoulder.

In a split second, Rhoda had twisted them around and thumped him away.

SPPPPPLLLLLLRRRRRRRKKK!

Rhoda would have groaned if she hadn't sunk several feet inside the dumpster's contents.

Somewhere in ToonTown, sparks from the electric post showered down into an open dynamite truck that had crashed into a wall a while ago. A spark landed on the largest bundle with a really short fuse.

BOOM!

After a few struggles, Rhoda shot up from the dumpster with a desperate need for fresh air.

"Rhoda?"

She gasped for a whole different reason when she saw the flying explosives coming at them.

Rabbit foot stamp on the dumpster's rim and jumped over Jesse (praying he wouldn't look up, she's wearing a dress for Warner's sake).

Arms wide open; she hugged the lit TNT falling right for him.

A muffled boom was heard. Rhoda landed stiffly on the ground with a suppressed expression, smoke rising from her charred arms and stomach.

"Ouch," she squeaked.

She hurriedly shook it off and looked around.

"Rhoda, are you alright?" he asked, walking towards her.

Crates suddenly exploded from the flying explosives, covering the streets with banana peels everywhere and the male toons slip on them, it almost looked like a new dance craze.

"Hmm, ToonTown sure is in more ruckus than usual," Jesse commented.

Just as he said that, a truck of heavy-duty props was blown sky high, showering the sky with projectiles.

Rhoda wasted no time. In one swift movement, she pulled an enormous mallet out of her hammerspace and spun into a tornado before letting it fly.

The mallet swung around like boomerang –and completely missed the incoming props.

Jesse calmly looked up. The very ground quaked as safes, grand pianos and anvils fell everywhere. But he simply sidestepped them unscathed.

Rhoda watched in amazement before ducking from the giant mallet she had thrown a while ago –with a split-second split.

She stood up with a sigh of relief.

"Rhoda, what's wrong?"

With a surprised scream, Rhoda zoomed up into a post. Her body relaxed when she realized she's now up and away from him.

He's safe.

But Jesse was still standing there.

Rhoda groaned. Why won't he leave her alone?

Something crackled and fizzled. Rhoda looked up to realize she had climbed up an electric post. Not a lamp post.

BZZZZZZT!

Her skeleton flashed for a moment before the sparks revealed a frizzy fuzzball clinging on an electric post.

"Rhoda, get down from there!"

"GO AWAY, JESSE! I MEAN IT!" she yelled, hugging the post like a lifeline.

She could see his confusion all the way up from her perch. "You're acting like I'm going to hurt you or something," he commented. A fleet of thrown custard pies missed him narrowly by inches before Mad Scientist rays shoot over his head.

He didn't even flinch.

Jesse could see her knock her head several times on the post like a woodpecker.

"I'm not the one who's going to get hurt! Now, GO. AWAY!" she shouted, almost impersonating Baby Mina.

CRRRRR-

Rhoda wondered why the world seems tilted sideways.

-RRRRRRRRRRAAAAAACK!

"Aaaaauuuugghh!"

The ground rushed at her, the very top of the post falling down to Jesse.

Jesse placidly stepped back.

CRASH!

Rhoda leapt off the post just in time, only to be caught by a pair of strong arms.

Coughing, she gathered her bearings while the dust cleared.

She flinched as soon as soon as saw that Jesse was carrying her. Her eyes screwed shut, expecting the worst.

Silence. No booming, no banging. Not even a honk.

She slowly cracked her eyes open to see Jesse looking confusedly at her. Unscathed. Unblemished. Unhurt.

"You're not affected," she said in wonder.

Relief overwhelmed her as the coincidental catastrophic chain of events slowly waned around them.

"You're not affected..." was all she said before she blacked out.

XOXOXOXOXOXOXOX

She awakened to a very familiar smell.

A dainty pink nose twitched. Rhoda opened her eyes to see Jesse holding a carrot over her nose.

She sat up on a bench with a groan. Then everything flashed back to her.

"You're not affected!" she exclaimed.

Jesse held the carrot over her lap so she had no choice but to take it. "You keep saying that," he commented. "What was that all about?"

For the first time since Jesse knew the rabbit, she was silent.

Rhoda scrunched the hem of her dress, looking down on her slender feet. She finally spoke. "Jesse, did you noticed something different a while ago?"

Jesse stared at her for a moment.

"You keep running away from me like I'm a vat of Dip."

Rhoda shook her head so hard, her ears swished in a blur. "No, not that! I mean our surroundings."

Jesse thought for a while. "It was certainly more of a catastrophe than usual."

She nodded encouragingly.

He raised a brow. "And?"

"That was me."

Jesse's only sign of curiosity is the miniscule widening of his eyes.

Rhoda stared at the ground. She blinked when a smoking hole began to form.

"You know how some comedic abilities is being short-tempered or being lovestruck or being a scaredy-cat? Mine lies in slapstick."

She tugged her ear restlessly, still refusing to look at him. "But I'm such a natural... a natural disaster, toon guys also get hurt!" she ran one finger up and down her ear.

Rhoda gestured her arms around, almost exasperated. "Sometimes I wish I was a guy so that slapstick would only happen to me!"

XOXOXOXOXOXOX

Meanwhile, in another universe….

BOOM!

A rabbit flew into the stratosphere away from the mushroom cloud of explosion. Charred with a not-so-soft-looking ground rushing at him, Roger looked up in the sky for answers.

"Why do these things always happen to me?"

XOXOXOXOXOXOX

Rhoda became momentarily blue before she shooed away the flitting feeling of sadness.

Toons could shake it off. But the first rabbit she fell in love with, actually looked scared when he found out that she likes him.

She guessed she couldn't blame him at the idea of being zapped, exploded and steamrolled every moment of his life.

Let's just be friends, a queasy voice echoed inside her head.

"But then it gets very, very bad on very, very rare occasions… that happens," she said to the now fixed streets. It's ToonTown after all. "The jinx turns into a surge –or Slapstick Surge as Mina calls it."

"My toon friends who are guys don't mind," except for one, she thought. "Since they don't have to be with me most of the time."

She turned at him sheepishly. "But humanoid toons need to be more careful around me –especially the ones drawn from rotographs. I never know when a surge would happen."

"So…" she waved a hand on Jesse. "That was why I was telling you to go away."

Jesse looked at her with a deadpanned expression. "I wasn't drawn from a rotograph."

Rhoda blinked at him, one ear cocking into a question mark. "But… but… you could have passed as a human. I mean, none of your features are exaggerated!"

He looked stoically ahead. "Trust me, Rhoda. There is."

Rhoda stared at him. Head is proportional. So is his trunk and limbs. What on earth is he-

She shook her head out of her confusion. "But that didn't explain why you're not affected!"

XOXOXOXOXOXO

"You know, if you weren't a long-time star in here, I would have told you to scram," R.K. Maroon said in her most conversational tone.

Mina blew her off with a puff of smoke. "They call it a privilege. Now tell me, why did you hire someone like Jesse in our kids' show again?"

XOXOXOXOXOXO

"Because I'm too suave to be affected," Jesse said bluntly.

Rhoda stared at him.

"Pfffffffffffffttttttt!"

Jesse suppressed a smile of his own when Rhoda burst out laughing, clutching her own stomach.

"AHAHAHAHAHA! It's true! I couldn't believe it! That actually made sense! Whooo! I mean, WOW!"

He shrugged. "Unless you'll intentionally hit me."

She thrust her hands to him. "Did you carry me over here when I fainted? Because I'm dirty, I'm burnt and I stink! But there's not a stain on you!"

He shrugged. "I'm drawn that way."

"And the way you dodged obstacles! That was radical!"

"Fit."

"And did you learn miming too? You just slid my wall away like it was nothing!"

"I just understood the concept," he said in an offhand manner.

"No fair! I spent the whole summer in Mime Camp for that!"

Rhoda stared at him as though struck by a thought. "Your comedic ability-"

XOXOXOXOXOXO

"-lies in being unflappable while everyone runs around losing their heads," Maroon replied, pouring wine for each of them. "I hired him to two reasons. One, get the mommies and nannies more reason to watch the show and two, increase our audience in teenage girls."

She raised her glass to Mina before taking a sip.

"His unaffected ease makes any scene funnier. I just noticed after watching his first appearance. What can I say? Eye candy and a bonus laugh equals more dough."

"Best of all?" The CEO of Maroon Cartoon Studios smirked, swirling her drink, "Rhoda-proof."


The next day...

The crew had finished filming. Joe stood before a smoking pile of ash and rubble where the show's scene used to be.

"What happened?" he asked the sheepish doe beside him.

Rhoda twiddled with her fingers; unable to look away from her index fingertips pushing each other.

"I didn't know inflammable also means flammable," she mumbled, her ears sinking at each passing second. "I'm sorry for-"

Joe cut her off by ruffling her hair. "It's where I get my paycheck, rabbit." He cast a quick glance to the Old Brat yelling at her manager and to the director swallowing his blood pressure pills. "What's done is done."

He strode forward with a broom in his hand. "Now go home or something. I've got work to do."

"Okay," Rhoda said; her face still carrying traces of a guilty bunny. "Bye, Joe."

"And Rhoda?"

Joe looked at the ranting old lady in a toddler's body. His gaze went to the handsome silhouette which women and strangely, some men were staring at more than necessary.

"Be careful of the friends you make."

The rabbit looked at him confusedly before bursting into sweet laughter.

"Joe, I hadn't had an imaginary friend since I was a kit!"

The janitor sighed and turned to his work. Rhoda was a fool to befriend everybody. Not many people could be trusted. What she saw in Baby Mina, he would never know.

Then she made it more confusing by miraculously making a friend out of the Scarlet Snob. In the first day even.

From the corner of his eye, he watched the yapping rabbit leave with the stoic humanoid.

And it seems to be growing stronger.

XOXOXOXOXO

Jesse wondered how he got into ToonTown's park in the first place.

He remembered telling Rhoda he'd never been to a park in his entire life. Then Rhoda stared at him as though he told her he never ate chocolate before. She looked even more surprise when he said, "But I've read what people do in the park."

She suddenly blurted out, "This has to be solved!" and before he knew it, he had been riding with Rhoda on Brenda the Cab.

He looked beside him on the other side of the tree to see Rhoda comfortably settled against it, her bare rabbit toes scrunching the grass.

He also leaned back against the bark, his long legs stretched out. It actually felt kind of nice.

For a moment, he wondered if she was trying to get her alone like a date.

His eyes slid sideways to the relaxed doe for a moment. A lot of women have tried it before and thus, he mastered the skill of subtle evasion to avoid wasting his and their time.

But Rhoda…

A chuckle broke out his thoughts and he blinked to see Rhoda grinning at her.

He raised a brow at her. "What?"

"You're making that face again."

"What face?"

"This face!" she said, scrunching her nose and scowling with exaggerated solemnity.

He stared at her dryly, "I do not make that face."

"Yes, you do!" she chimed, her face still frozen in a serious caricature.

"No, I don't."

"Yes, you do!"

Jesse replied by bopping her nose with the tip of his index finger.

"'Ey!" she cried, pinching her nose. "Nobuhdy lahks a flaht noshe!" she said nasally.

His face remained even although Rhoda could see his eyes smile.

"But seriously, it does tend to keep people away," she continued, unclasping her nose.

"So why didn't you?"

Jesse watched her turn to him as though surprised that he was intentionally being distant.

He's not a deluded prettyboy with a puffed-up ego. He didn't ask for multitudes of women to make goo-goo eyes at him or questionable people to profit from him. He just wanted to sing and be left alone by that kind of company.

It didn't help that tabloids paint him as being sexually promiscuous when he became known in singing and modeling. It was just too easy for them.

Life was less complicated by shutting them off.

He stilled when her look of surprise turned into a smile. A smile that was different from her everyday grins.

It was as though she could see inside him… and was okay with it.

"Because you look like you could use some laughter."

She looked away, oblivious to what had transcended. "You were just like Joe, the janitor. You both look like you needed to laugh."

And pretty much everyone else. Rhoda had seen it. People going through the motions. Sad, bored, restless or worse, they became unfeeling –unless someone snaps them out of it.

"Laughter is a very powerful thing."

Then make people laugh and they come back to life. Even for a moment. Do it again and again and perhaps it would be long enough for them to hold to that glow.

She smiled at him again. "I'm happy I made you laugh that day, Jesse."

Rhoda knew she'd never have a buckfriend, much less, get married. So what? She have Ash, Frost White, Mino Mouse, Darcy Duck and a whole lot of amazing guy friends.

And Jesse.

She closed her eyes, sensing the space between them. The air around Jesse always felt cold. But beyond that, there was a warm and steadfast presence that made her feel strong and safe.

Rhoda opened her eyes again and placed a hand over his. "Because that was the day I had the chance to be your friend."

Jesse said nothing as he looked at her. He just… looked more solemn than usual.

Rhoda stood up and stretched her arms above her head, "C'mon! Let's go get some ice cream!"

He was far from what she had heard people say about him.

Jesse was said to be a womanizer. But Rhoda had seen Jesse around his admirers. Maybe he wasn't radiating warmth but he was polite at them.

Jesse was said to act like he's too good for anyone. But how come she finds that hard to believe whenever she's with him?

Jesse was said to be cold. But could she honestly agree with that after making him laugh?

She never asked him why he didn't leave after she had screamed repeatedly at him to go away. Rhoda already had an idea based from what he had proved again and again.

Maybe she's as naïve as Mina would tell her so. Maybe she could be wrong about Jesse…

"Hey! Aren't you coming?" she held out her hand to him.

Jesse stared down at the hand offered to her. After a moment, he took it but used his own legs to stand up.

He straightened up clutching another disembodied hand.

"Tada! Now you've got a pair!" Rhoda said with a showman's gesture.

Jesse laughed, making her smile. It was a deep, rich sound that should be heard more often.

…But maybe she could also be right.

Chapter 4: Why Me?
Summary: Male!Jessica was the first to admit that he has feelings for her. For a rabbit who makes a fool of herself for a living, that’s just one of the reasons why she’s finding him hard to believe. Comeback of the Genderbend Universe. Cover Image by Rachel Ordway of CrackpotComics  crackpotcomics.deviantart.com/…

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Not the characters. Not the songs.

Next: whenyinmetyang.deviantart.com/…
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Summary: Male!Jessica was the first to admit that he has feelings for her. For a rabbit who makes a fool of herself for a living, that’s just one of the reasons why she’s finding him hard to believe. Comeback of the Genderbend Universe. Cover Image by Rachel Ordway of CrackpotComics

Chapter 3: The Prince and the Jester


Rhoda was enjoying her evening so far. It only took six head whacks from Mina to stop her from hooting and hollering her appreciation.

There were a lot of performing toons in Ink and Paint Club. But her ears perked up at the sight of Daphne Duck and Donnatella Duck playing the pianos on stage.

Daphne began to dance around the keys, Donna snapped at her to stop, and then it escalated into a piano showdown when Daphne declared war.

Mozart. Bach. Beethoven. Tchaikovsky. Their pieces became more and more complicated, forming solos to duos to duels until finally-

Donna finally lost her temper and attempted to bludgeon Daphne with the whole piano. But Daphne accidentally knocked her over while she's holding the behemoth.

CRASH!

With the two ducks crushed underneath, it was the least to say that the winner was unclear tonight.

The patrons gave a round of applause as the curtains close to deal with the damages.

"Those two never get to finish their act," Mina commented as she downed a shot.

Rhoda nodded and continued to peer over the balcony, her cottontail swishing happily.

A spotlight shone on the curtains, inciting excited screams from multitudes of women.

"Hey Mina! I think Jesse's performance is about to start!" Rhoda exclaimed.

Mina nodded, fixing her cigarette holder into her grasp.

A smooth baritone voice sang, carrying across the room.

"I've got you under my skin"

Women in evening gowns sitting near the stage, edged further into their seats, holding their breaths.

The curtains parted, revealing a tall man in a redwine suit. Silent eyes surveyed them, smoldering as he walked across the stage like a master to his adoring slaves.

Mina snorted upon hearing the women scream and swoon their appreciation.

"I've got you deep in the heart of me-"

Rabbit ears cocked at the song. She knew that song. It was classy and laidback. But Jesse seemed to sing it with a palpable intensity that was sparking up something in the air.

"-So deep in my heart that you're really a part of me

I've got you under my skin-"

Mina rolled her eyes at the ones swooning already. It was like they wanted it the other way around.

"Jinkies," Rhoda whispered to Mina. "He's good," she said, her voice showing her pride as Jesse smoothly climbed down the stage.

Poppins silently winced when women screamed again. This time louder as Jesse leaned down on one lonely lady, caging her in her chair with his arms in either side of the armrests.

"-I'd tried so not to give in-"

The said lady was valiantly trying not to melt under his gaze as the other women bounced in their seats, their escorts forgotten.

"-I said to myself this affair never will go so well"

Just as the lady hypnotically leaned up, Jesse was already walking away. The alpha wolf made his way deeper into the audience, eyes upon him.

"But why should I try to resist when baby I know so well-"

Just when Poppins' ears were recovering, the women screamed their high-pitched excitement again. He could feel the air warmed up from the bodies being heated.

Looking down, Jesse had simply taken off his coat jacket. The act alone was casual but there was something sensuous in the way the jacket slipped off his frame.

"-I've got you under my skin"

The air was becoming charged. It must be the words of the song. Or the way he sang it. Or it's because he was now in his polo shirt where shadows build under his toned frame.

"I'd sacrifice anything come what might-"

Jesse held up his hand to a woman in a peacock blue gown. The woman took it in an almost pathetic daze and Jesse pulled her close into a dance position –or a lover's embrace.

"-For the sake of having you near"

Mina didn't bother to see the look on Rhoda's face. She knew Rhoda was an old-fashioned rabbit –something rare in Holly Wood.

"This is how Jesse always performs," Mina said, blowing out a smoke ring. She didn't have to say what's on her mind: Would you want to deal with that every night, Rhoda?

Jesse moved his mouth closer to the melting woman's ear, but still his voice carried throughout the room.

"In spite of a warning voice that comes in the night

And repeats, repeats in my ear-"

He suddenly spun her around and dipped her low into the ground. The ladies in the audience almost fainted when Jesse lowered his head. The woman's eyes closed but Jesse suddenly pulled her up and spun her gracefully back to her seat.

"Don't you know little fool

You never can win

Use your mentality, wake up to reality"

He sang as he walked among their tables. Each woman tensed as he passed along, each time they caught his glance.

"But each time that I do just the thought of you-"

He tilted a beautiful lady's face up. But he only tapped her jaw close before waltzing past her.

"-Makes me stop before I begin"

Jesse stalked back to the stage before giving them one last look of silent smolder over his shoulder.

"'Cause I've got you under my skin"

Mina could hear every woman sighed as though he was serenading solely them and them alone.

"I need to go to the bathroom," Rhoda suddenly blurted out.

Before Mina could point her where, Rhoda had stood up and strode towards the door.

Unfortunately, her purse snagged in the balcony.

Unfortunately, her purse stretched elastically.

Unfortunately, her purse snapped back, throwing Rhoda out of the balcony in a slingshot manner.

"Aaaaaaaauuuuggghhh!"

There was a unified gasp as Rhoda crashed on the stage.

Silence swept the club as the dust began to clear. Rhoda shook off her disorientation, rabbit ears swishing.

Then she froze as her eyes fell to the crowd staring at her.

She was most certain she was not in the hidden balcony anymore.

A sensation of impending doom carried through the air along with a very low growl. Rhoda made a tiny squeak of fear. The female gorilla bouncer stalked towards her, her mean yellow eyes foreboding with consequences.

"Eep!"

A pair of strong arms had suddenly grabbed her and Rhoda found herself squished against Jesse.

"She's with me," he stated calmly, emerald eyes glaring volumes against the bouncer. His arms wound just a little tighter around her as the bouncer's eyes squinted.

Even if Jesse was tall, the gorilla easily stared him down. But he simply held his ground with Rhoda still in his bridal carry.

The room began to stir as the people get over their shock. Sharp rabbit ears hear feminine sighs and giggles. She blinked. They must have looked funny, a prince gallantly defending a bunny from a gorilla.

Jesse startled when Rhoda slipped out of his arms in a blur.

"Jinkies!" Rhoda said, standing on top of the gorilla's head. "Was that too much of a grand entrance?" she asked, blinking innocently to the audience.

The audience rippled with chuckles.

"Tonight's your lucky night, ladies and gentlemen! 'Cause we've got a surprise number!" she exclaimed, her voice ringing high and clear.

Rhoda spun into a toon speed tornado and Jesse found himself pushed on one of the customer tables along with the gorilla. The gorilla glared but watched the tornado silently for one wrong move.

The tornado transformed back to reveal Rhoda and another ripple of laughter goes through the club.

Rhoda began to bounce to the beat in the background, wearing a harlequin-inspired dress. Bells jingle from her jester's cap where her long furry ears poke out. Even her multi-colored skirt has little bells on the tapered edges.

Blue eyes twinkles through a sequined angular mask as one hand beat the baton in time of the band's tune. Then she sang.

"When I was a kid, I grumble and hid

And I did from the day I was born!

When other girls giggled and gurgled and wiggled

I proudly was loudly forlorn!"

Jesse raised a brow in surprise as she whirled her baton from one hand to another along with the fast tempo of her song.

"My friends and my family looked at me clammily

Thought there was something amiss

When others found various antics hilarious

All I could manage was this" –she made a ridiculously somber face, chuckles erupted –

"Or this" –her ears drooped with puppy-wide eyesThis time, the chuckles become more pronounced.

Her facial expressions were so exaggerated; Jesse wasn't surprised if it can be seen from the far end of the club. From the corner of his eye, he can see the bouncer cracked just the tiniest grins.

"My father he shouted 'She needs to be grounded,

Her in a tower, I'll lock her!'"

Rhoda declared while striding forward with testosterone dominance, shaking her fist. Then her shoulders rounded into a concerned parent, protecting someone under her wings.

"My mother she cried as she rushed to my side,

'You're a brute and you don't understand her!'"

Then she's suddenly wearing a witches' hat and waved her baton that was suddenly a broom.

"So they send for a witch with a terrible twitch

To ask how my future impressed her

She took one look at me and cried hihihihihihi, she?

What else could she be but a jester?"

Jester's cap sprung back to her head and her ears waved out from its slits. She put her hand skeptically on her hip with a grin, her voice deepening before becoming high-pitched.

"A jester? A jester? –"

She waggled her brows.

"-a funny idea a jester."

The air was suddenly thick with juggling breads, candles and meats.

"No butcher no baker no candlestick maker-"

Then she put a hand on herself, looking conversationally to the audience as she juggled everything with one hand.

"-And me with the look of a fine undertaker

Impressed her as a jester?"

Then she bounced along the stage, looking at each and every sector of the audience.

"Now where could I learn any comical turn

That was not in a book on the shelf

No teacher to take me and mold me and make me

A merryman fool or an elf"

Then she stood in the center, chest thrust out confidently as her song became faster. Grinning, her arms swung with gestures of drive and success.

"But I'm proud to recall that in no time at all

With no other recourses but my own resources

With firm application and determinatiooonn

I made a fool of myself!"

Laughter rippled in the audience and the band music became gayer. Rhoda cartwheeled, bounced and somersaulted, whooping. She Russian stomp danced before the air became thick with juggling balls.

Martha laughed along with the audience. At first she was suspicious at Jesse's fierce but tender hold at the doe. But now, it seemed like it's just an act.

Besides, the girl was nothing but a silly rabbit.

She simply has no class, Martha thought as Rhoda flap her elbows into a chicken dance with the goofiest expression.

She simply has no idea how cute she is, Jesse thought as Rhoda flap her elbows into a chicken dance with the goofiest expression.

He watched as rabbit ears trailed after every spin and pirouette. Everything melted into an insignificant blur until only him and Rhoda remained.

She looked so happy, so free. Her eyes sparkled at the ambiance of laughter, her cheeks flushed. Bells jingled from her jester hat and dress as she whooped back to the audience.

"Whoops!"

Rhoda landed too near the stage and her arms windmilled for balance.

Gravity won.

She closed her eyes for the crash but was surprised to land unhurt. Rhoda opened her eyes to see that Bertie Boop, the black-and-white ladies' man of the 20s have caught her just in time.

"Thanks!" she exclaimed loudly for the audience to hear. Then she saw the lighter in his pocket.

"Is that a lighter or are you secretly holding a torch for me?" she laughed, her voice carrying over the grand room.

The audience hooted in appreciation.

Jesse raised a brow when Bertie's white face tinged dark.

She bounced back to the stage singing to all of them and it seemed like she's looking at each and every face with a huge grin.

"I started to travel to try to unravel

My mind and to find a new chance

When I got to Spain it was suddenly plain

That the field that appealed was the dance

The Spanish were clannish but I wouldn't vanish

I learned every step they had planned"

Jesse could feel it, the lighter ambiance, how everyone had their eyes trained at her, wanting for more.

"The first step of all isn't hard to recall

Cause the first step of all is to stand"

She suddenly stood up into a close step dancing position, one arm raised up.

"And stand

And stand-"

The audience began to roar when she stands stiffer and stiffer.

"-and stand, and stand, and stand, and-"

She turned her head to the audience out of the blue and spoke in the most conversational tone.

"They sometimes stand this way for days," she said as she casually stood there straight and lamppost-stiff.

There was suddenly a snort and Jesse could see the gorilla clamp a hand on her mouth.

"Maestro!" Rhoda suddenly commanded.

Their ears were suddenly thrust into the thick of fast-beat flamenco music. The music played faster and faster as Rhoda continued to stand rigidly in a dance position.

There was a final strum of the guitar and Rhoda struck out her foot.

CRASH!

"Aaaaaauuuggghh! Ow! Ow! Ow!" she cried hopping around a smoking rabbitfoot-sized hole in the stage as she held her limb.

The audience lost it, falling over, roaring. Jesse found himself laughing along with them –including the not-so-surly-anymore gorilla bouncer.

He felt his heart beat faster at the blissful twinkle in her eye as she straightened up.

Martha laughed the loudest, clapping. Rhoda grinned and thrust her arms to her.

"How I ached and I soared, how her majesty roared

And before a siesta she made me her jester

And I found out soon that to be a buffoon

Was a serious thing as a rule!"

She seemed to look at each and every one of them with a big grin as she marched in place, arms swinging.

"For a jester's chief employment

Is to kill herself for your enjoyment

And a jester unemployed-"

She raised her hands at them, her voice carrying over to the far corners of the room; high and clear.

"-is nobody's fool!"

The audience rose, clapping and hooting. Those who have vases in their tables threw the roses on the stage in appreciation.

Jesse watched as she bowed in every direction, cheeks flushed, eyes sparkling, bells jingling from her jester hat and harlequin dress. She raised her arms to them as though being carried by the tide of warm applause and laughter.

For the first time in Ink-and-Paint Club, Jesse smiled warmly that night.

XOXOXOXOXOXO

Rhoda had to meet the owner to apologize for the intrusion.

The owner waved her off, saying she had made up for it well with the surprise number. Heck, orders of drinks have doubled that night and if she was looking for a job, Rhoda was welcome anytime.

Then Rhoda met up with Daphne and Donna at the back of the stage.

"That… was spectacular!" Donna said, already dressed in her sailor uniform after her performance.

"What? You two were great at the stage!" Rhoda exclaimed. "The piano duels were ingenious! It almost looked like you two were really at each other's throats!"

There was an awkward silence as both ducks glared at each other.

"Actually, Rhoda," Daphne said, fingering a bell in Rhoda's harlequin-inspired dress. "You look hot in this number! I bet a guy would love to make out with-"

A slim fan whacked her in the head.

"Watch your mouth!" Donna said.

Daphne turned to her with a manic glint and they began squabbling again.

Donna's famous speed-ranting can be heard over Daphne's wisecracks as Rhoda carefully stepped back. She bumped into something solid and turned around to see a black-and-white humanoid toon smiling at her.

"Bertie Boop, big fan!" he said, shaking her hand.

Rhoda gasped. "Me too! I love your cartoons! They're classic! Especially the one when you serenaded Bambi and the one you defended her from the bad guys and the one where you're part of the circus act! I even loved the ones when you were an anthropomorph dog before!"

His pale face tinged dark again. "About your question awhile ago, it's the latter," he said.

Rabbit ears cocked in confusion, wondering why he hadn't let go of her hand yet. "What question?"

Another white hand now covered over her hand caught in his grasp. "You know, the one-"

There was a sharp cough and Bertie suddenly let go of her hand. Rhoda turned around to see that Jesse had materialized beside her.

"Mina may have already sent Poppins to look for you. I suggest we wait in the dressing room." He gave Bertie an unreadable stare before looking back at Rhoda. "Poppins know where that is."

Rhoda beamed at him. "Sure! Nice meeting you, Boomer!" she said, waving at him although he was just nearby.

Jesse led the way and Rhoda followed him. He cast a glance to the humming rabbit. How much did she see back in the stage?

He knew Rhoda was a bit of a conservative. Not as stiff and proper as Poppins but still, she had her own terms of what's metaphorically clean.

And what's metaphorically dirty.

He opened the door to his dressing room and Rhoda hopped inside, bells jingling in her dress.

"Wow, Jesse! You're lucky! It's twice as big as the ones in Mauve studios!"

She hopped on the dressing table, looking at the mirror framed with bulbs.

"Rhoda…"

She turned to look at him. "Hmm?"

"Were you there the whole time?"

She nodded vigorously, beaming. Little bells from her hat jingled. "Yeah, Mina invited me over for a night-out! Ink and Paint Club's great! Who knew they've got a secret balcony? It was-"

Rhoda yakked on, oblivious to the sinking feeling of someone else inside the room.

Jesse had told Rhoda he sings in Ink and Paint Club. But he never mentioned how he sings. Rhoda belonged to a nice world where people have wholesome values and don't lust after each other.

Was she disgusted at what she saw?

His mind went back to every single act he had done that night. Every cool flirtation that had made every woman in that club scream, swoon and sear.

Would she want to be with someone who works like that every night?

She might not realize it now, but she would. It would suddenly occur to her that he perform that way every night with the same innocence of a male stripper.

Would she feel dirtied at the thought of being with him after that?

Then she'd look at him with those blue eyes and she'd tell him to stop. To stop pursuing her. Stop sending her roses. Stop trying to make her see him as something more.

And he won't be able to say no. He could not and would not be able to say no.

Rhoda blathered on about Daphne and Donatella Duck. Her face twitches cutely in constant change of expression as her story goes on, her hands and ears waving and morphing into shapes of actions.

"-that anvil throw was spectacular! Did you see that, Jesse? Jesse?"

Hands fisted momentarily before looking at her.

"Rhoda…" he said, "about my performance a while ago…"

He blinked, finding her fingers on top of his lips.

"It's okay, Jesse. That was your stage self. The one people want you to be." She shyly looked down, shuffling her feet. "I just realized it after singing on stage. It's how I make people laugh- being silly."

She shrugged, one ear tinkling the bell in her hat. "I can't do it cool like Buggy or fiery like Donna. Us toons may act what our roles are -silly, sexy, hot-tempered, sarcastic. But that's not entirely who we are!"

She grinned at him with a relatable air. "I'm happy knowing who you really are, Jesse!"

Bells jingled and she suddenly yelped when she found herself fiercely embraced against his chest.

With one rabbit ear pressed against him, Rhoda could hear and feel his heart beating into fast, resonating inside his body, into her.

Fleetingly, she wondered if it was her pulse or his that was actually racing.

Was he a bit worried at what she thought?

Rhoda felt him shift and she pushed herself away for some space. Underneath her palms, she could still feel the beating of his heart. But Jesse still held her so her upper body only gained some distance.

Her stomach dropped when she caught his eye.

Buggy Bunny once said that when a buck wants to kiss a girl, his eyes would lock on her lips.

But Jesse was looking at her with that intense silent stare, making a flock of butterflies beat mercilessly against her stomach when she finally comprehend his look.

Jesse wanted to kiss her.

But he's waiting for a sign of permission from her first.

Blood pounded in her ears. The butterflies transformed into an internal storm pounding by the mile, overlapping throughout-

A zooming sound and there was nothing but air in Jesse's arms. Rhoda flung the door open to reveal Poppins with his hand raised as though he was just about to knock on the door.

"Mario!" she said, her happy voice sounding suspiciously relieved. "I'm so glad I heard you coming! I was worried you'd be wandering around backstage but Jesse said you'd look here first since he works here and has his own dressing room where we can wait as a rendezvous and oh! Have you seen my surprise number? Was it awesome? Boy! That was really-"

Mina's butler raised an eyebrow at Jesse while Rhoda yakked on and on.

"We have to go," Poppins simply said to her, "Mina's waiting at the limo by the backdoor."

She nodded, "Backdoor, got it!"

Rhoda turned back to Jesse, unable to look at his probing eyes. "'Night, Jesse."

She sped off.

Silence pulsed between the two men –one humanoid, the other human.

Mario sniffed, staring him down through his nose.

"Everybody wants to be seduced," he finally said.

Jesse turned his back to open the window, his jaw tight. The last thing he needed was a forsaken riddle from the butler.

"And you're good at it as seen tonight… but not tonight."

The room's temperature dropped several degrees. Jesse's face was impassive as he turned back to look at the butler.

"I was not trying to seduce her," he said, his tone calm but cold. "If that's what you're implying."

Mario waved his hand in the air as though palpating it. It was thick with held-back tension. This is the reason why he'd rather not step inside the room.

"There's something else that Rhoda needs from you first," Poppins said as though Jesse hadn't spoken.

Before Jesse could ask, the butler had closed the door. Footsteps faded as he walked away.






Chapter 3: Why Me?

Author's Note:

Summary: Male!Jessica was the first to admit that he has feelings for her. For a rabbit who makes a fool of herself for a living, that’s just one of the reasons why she’s finding him hard to believe. Comeback of the Genderbend Universe. Cover Image by Rachel Ordway of CrackpotComics crackpotcomics.deviantart.com/…

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Not the characters. Not the songs.

Songs sung in order:

1. I got You under my Skin

2. The Maladjusted Jester

The last song actually exists in 1955 sang by Danny Kaye in a movie musical "The Court Jester." There's a clip in the youtube where he sang the song –it was hilarious, a recommended must-watch.

Also, cut Jesse some slack. He might be a toon Cassanova, but Rhoda maybe the only girl he had ever pursued before for real.

Was he not really seducing her? I'm not really sure.

Next: whenyinmetyang.deviantart.com/…

Previous: whenyinmetyang.deviantart.com/…


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Summary: Male!Jessica was the first to admit that he has feelings for her. For a rabbit who makes a fool of herself for a living, that’s just one of the reasons why she’s finding him hard to believe. Comeback of the Genderbend Universe. Cover Image by Rachel Ordway of CrackpotComics 

Chapter 2: Singing Showdown


"Kit E. Coyote! Kit E. Coyote!"

Kit tried not to roll her eyes at the bouncing bunny attached to her arm.

"Rhoda," she levelly said, as she calmly slipped out her arm from the rabbit's grip. "As endearing as I find you, I'm pretty sure everyone in here knows me already."

That wasn't true. They were in a rabbit's burrow that Buggy got quite attached to despite living in a mansion. Kit could only understand much why a door on a wall of earth was better than a hole in a ground (which was normally Buggy's show setting).

Rhoda, however, loved it.

"But I love saying your name!" said rabbit exclaimed, hugging her arm again. "It's so fluffy and fuzzy and cute and-"

Kit sighed and smoothed the nonexistent wrinkles on her labcoat with her free arm, a necktie plunging down her chest where the buttons of the labcoat meet.

In the background, she can hear Daphne Duck and Buggy Bunny arguing.

"She has!"

"She hasn't!"

"She has!"

"Hasn't'!"

"Has!"

"Hasn't'!"

"Has!"

"Hasn't'!"

"Hasn't!"

"Ha-" Daphne scowled at Buggy. "I am not falling for that again!"

Buggy simply shrugged, "Neh." She adjusted the classy scarf around her neck before turning around, her swishy skirt swirling after her. "Hey Rhoda!"

Said rabbit stopped in the middle of hugging the stuffing out of the reserved Kit who looked relieved at the interruption. "Yup?"

"Come here for a sec."

Curious, Rhoda's floppy feet padded after them.

"What is it, Bu-"

Buggy whipped out a lit bundle of dynamite before Rhoda could finish her sentence.

BOOM!

The dust cleared as they cough out the remaining ash. Three blackened figures stood where two rabbits and a duck stood before.

"Jinkies, Buggy! What was that for?" one blackened figure asked. Then she shook the ash off herself.

Buggy smirked when everything slowed down and Rhoda's ears swished around gracefully –following every shake of her head. Eyes closed, yellow-gloved hands smoothed over her head, down her scalp and lower still as her neck arched in a rather sensuous slow motion.

Then everything went back to normal as Rhoda turned her attention on dusting off her dress.

Buggy turned to Daphne. "She has," she stated pointedly with a triumphant raise of eyebrows.

Daphne crossed her arms over her chest, her dress all in sharp angles. "So she has. But she ain't got that type of humor if she doesn't feel it."

Rhoda's forehead creased. "Feel what –Eep!"

Daphne was suddenly upon her with both arms on the wall on either side of the rabbit, caging her. The duck gave her a wolfish grin complete with waggling eyebrows.

"Sexy."

Buggy's whiskers waved at the sudden blast of heat emanating from Rhoda's being.

"DAPHNE!"

Daphne's smirk turned evil-er, if possible. "Oh baby, I just loved hearing you scream my-"

"AAAUGHH!"

The duck straightened up with a chuckle, poking a battered eardrum. "Geez, Rhoda! That wasn't even full-out flirty humor!"

Rhoda looked at her incredulously, stepping back to a safe distance. "That wasn't full-out?!" But then she stopped when she bumped against Buggy.

"No," Buggy said from behind. White-gloved hands slowly reach for her waist. "Want me to show ya?" she asked in voice that promised dark intentions.

A jet of dust replaced where Rhoda had been as she shot straight up into the air. Both Buggy and Daphne guffawed.

"Guys, quit picking on Rhoda," the coyote said. In their show, the two sometimes portrayed flirty humor that smacks the sucker into a slapstick situation.

Or in the rabbit's case, embarrass her to no end.

"I'm so sorry, girl," Buggy said, wiping the corner of her eye. "You're just so... pure."

Rhoda hung on the overhead lamp fixture, pouting. But she did drop back to the ground nonetheless.

"I'm not that innocent!" she said defensively.

Of course, the duck's dark eyes glinted with delicious scandal-

"Enough, Daphne," Kit E. said dryly. "Before Rhoda's hue become a permanent shade of red."

"Oh, I wouldn't be surprised if our little Rhoda is learning a thing or two," Daphne said, resting her chin on her hands with exaggerated batting of eyelashes. "After all, she's working with potty-mouth Baby Mina and the HOT Dog in their show!"

Rhoda blinked. "We don't have a dog on fire in the set. The poor thing."

Buggy waved a hand in her direction. "I rest my case."

"Noooo, rabbit," Daphne said, suddenly on Rhoda's face. "Jesse!"

The white rabbit only laughed. "That's a funny way to describe him."

Kit E. sighed. She pulled away Daphne when the duck began to form a ring with one hand (wing?) and began shooting her index finger (feather?) inside it, in an attempt to educate.

"That guy likes you," Buggy said frankly.

They all saw the sudden shift in her. From confused to stiff in a split second.

"Ahehehe," Rhoda rubbed the back of her head. "Of course he does, we're friends."

If they didn't know any better, Rhoda was acting less clueless than usual.

"Oh my gawd, you know!" Daphne yelled, pointing an accusing finger (feather, maybe) at her.

"What?!" Nervous, blue eyes snapped up before darting to the side. "What do you mean I know?"

The duck put her eyes akimbo. "An open book can't lie, Rhoda, honey." Daphne sent a smug grin to Buggy who rolled her eyes and handed her a couple of bucks.

Rhoda's jaw dropped. "Have you been taking bets?"

"Of the odds that you'd noticed? Slim to none and slim just won!" Daph said, lifting Kit E.'s hand for a victory high five.

The white rabbit began to play with the hem of her dress. "He... actually told me," she mumbled.

Buggy smugly held out her hand and Daph gave her a look before handing the money back plus her share.

"I've seen the way he'd looked at you," Buggy said.

Rhoda's ears drooped uncomfortably. "Can we not talk about this?"

"A yummy guy has the hots for you and you're embarrassed?!" Daph asked incredulously.

"He doesn't have the hots for me!" Rhoda fired quickly. How could a humanoid even see a bunny that way?

"It's not just that," Buggy said quietly. "He looks at you the way a lot of woman would want a guy to look at them that way."

Rhoda shot her a confused glance and a knock on the door was heard. Buggy strode towards it and opened the door.

"Jesse," she exclaimed. "'Sup, doc? Is there anything," she turned around to glance at Rhoda before raising an insinuating brow at Jesse, "you want?"

Jesse shook his head and crouched down a little as the door was less than his height. "The crew's ready to start filming. I'll just get my rabbit and I'll be on my way."

Rhoda sputtered. "Your rabbi –eep!"

A long arm had circled around her waist and dragged her towards the door. Ever so casually, he threw her on his shoulder and with a nod at them, walked off without another word.

Buggy shook her head, closing the door. "And they call us Loony Tunes."

XOXOXOXOXOXOX

"Jinkies! Put me down, Jesse!" Rhoda yelled, trying to squirm from his grip.

Jesse casually ignored her until he felt her slipped through his arm like greased lightning. He turned around to look for her and he was suddenly confronted by a bouncing, unhappy Rhoda. With arms crossed, she glared at him every time her bounce took her to his eye level.

Boing! "I'm-"

Boing! "-not-"

Boing! "-your-"

Boing! "-hunted-"

Boing! "-prey-"

Boing! "-that-"

Boing! "-you-"

Boing! "-can-"

Boing! "-just-"

Boing! "-drag-"

Boing! "-to-"

Boing! "-your-"

Boing! "-mancave!"

After a moment, she bounced again, meeting his eyes.

Boing! "Caveman!"

She gasped when large hands clasped her waist in midbounce. Jesse put her on his shoulder once again with an amazingly tighter (though not painful) grip. Rhoda let out a cry of frustration before flopping on his back with a very crossed face.

How come he always wins without saying anything?

Jesse continued to walk with Rhoda on her shoulder. Just when he thought Rhoda had yielded, he suddenly heard a yowling voice.

"Wheeeen yoooouuuu wiiiiiiiissshhh upooooooon a staaaaaaaaaaarrrr

It makes no difference who you aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaareee-"

Jesse immediately planted her back on the ground and felt a spike of annoyance at her smug grin.

"That," he said evenly, "was a crime against music."

Rhoda folded her arms in front of her with that smug grin still on her lips. "No, it's not. You're just sore!"

"You just desecrated a perfectly good piece of art by intentionally singing it badly."

Rhoda's mouth hung open in indignation and she dramatically pointed a finger at him like a sword.

"How dare you! I'll have you know that singing badly takes great talent and hard work! Just ask the great men and women whose voices rang true and clear from the crowd-"

"Because they are off-key."

"-are misunderstood for their pitch-"

"Because they are out of tune."

"-and have the ability to bring down the rain!"

"Because it's a sign to stop singing," Jesse leveled. He could see Rhoda suppressed a grin but she wasn't finished.

"Well, not a lot of people got your pitch, mister! So if we're going to be bad at something," she put her hands on her hips, standing up to her full height. "We might as well be good at being bad at it!"

In the background, a round of standing ovation can be heard from all the men and women who can only sing badly.

Jesse's face maintained expressionless. He knew Rhoda was intentionally grinding his nerves.

So why did he feel like smiling?

He over-easily towered her by standing up to his full height, crossing his arms across his chest.

"You know," he said as he stared her down, knowing the very action would vex her. "Some women would consider singing badly as unfeminine."

Rhoda gave a loud, air-sucking gasp of indignation. Her eyes reduced into serious slits. "I'll have you know…" she said in lowered voice.

Jesse stood his ground when Rhoda was suddenly balancing on a giant beach ball, flinging out her arms like she's singing in an opera.

"I am the very model of a feminine individual

My demeanor's lyrical and magical and classical-"

Flowers, vases, cushions, utensils suddenly swirled out of nowhere as she enacted every line of her lyrics in superspeed.

I'm quite adept at sewing dresses, 'ranging flowers in a vase

From conical to vertical on tablecloths with matching lace-"

Jesse's only reaction was to raise a brow. Rhoda didn't only have to rant. She had to rant it in a pitter-patter song of "The Pirates of Penzance."

"I'm very good at fancy dining; I know all my knives and forks

And sit on cushions with back straight and smile demurely and never snort-"

Jesse was amazed at her self-control to keep a straight face upon saying that.

"-About on women's etiquette I follow it down to the rule

With many cheerful facts concerning histories of charm schools

Her impromptu items vanished, replaced by juggling books that barely missed the stack balancing on top of her head.

"I'm very good at balancing any book on top of my head

From cooking dishes to categories of literature I have read

In short, all things lyrical and magical and classical

I am the very model of a feminine individual!"

The song ended with Rhoda thrusting her arms at the audience –who was Jesse. Still balancing from the beachball, she dropped down her hands.

"But of course," she said with a bright-eyed smile, "I just choose to ignore it!"

Jesse's resolve finally broke down and laughter escaped him. He shook his head. That was very Rhoda.

Rhoda's smile became even wider, his laughter warm and comforting in her ears. She hopped down from the beachball and stuffed it into her hammerspace. Looking up at Jesse, she gave him a confident grin.

"Was that feminine enough for ya?"

Her eyes widened when Jesse knelt down on one knee so that they were at eye level. One finger curled around her rabbit ear, pulling her closer.

"I thought," he said quietly, peering into her blue eyes, "I've already made clear what I thought of you."

I've seen the way he'd looked at you, Buggy's voice echoed.

Rhoda looked at him like a deer caught in headlights. One minute, everything's normal between them. They'd laugh, they'd talk, and she'd get him to banter with her. Until she'd get a reminder that something had changed.

A low voice sang and Rhoda found herself drowning in emerald eyes.

"Never before at that hour,

Was I struck by a love so sudden and so sweet

Her face, it bloomed like a sweet flower

And stole my heart away complete."

Rhoda began to hyperbolically ice from standing there frozen. She knew that poem. But Jesse had turned something already beautiful into a song.

What had she even done to deserve it?

"Oh look! Something shiny!" she exclaimed pointing at somewhere over Jesse's shoulder.

As she ran off to look at it (it turned out to be the equipment the crew brought to film in ToonTown), she knew she had handled it ungracefully.

But how do you deal with that kind of attention anyway?

XOXOXOXOXOXOXOX

Baby Hermina was in a foul mood.

Poppins had just informed her that he was going away soon. He just had to care for a few of her possessions.

Whatever that meant. She got a broker to deal with her stocks, a financial adviser and a lawyer for her dough and royalties. What Poppins could take care that was in her possession was the household and possibly-

Rhoda poked her on the shoulder as they walked down the corridor. "Mina, are you listening?"

Mina simply scowled at her. "No."

But Rhoda simply brushed off her brusque bluntness. "I said I hoped we get to film in ToonTown again! It was fun!"

It had been a couple of days after they have filmed in ToonTown. Frankly, most of the human crew felt a little uncomfortable with the environment.

The "baby" crossed her arms. "Poppins is planning to quit on me."

Blue eyes flickered with concern. "Aaw, I'd missed him. He might be a bit of a snob-"

"A pain in the ass, more like," Mina muttered.

"-but I like how he takes care of ya!"

Mina rolled her eyes. "Why are we going to the reception desk again?"

Rhoda's ears formed into a pair of shrugging shoulders. It took awhile to get used to seeing that.

"I dunno, April told me I have a delivery or something."

Upon reaching the reception's desk, both were too short to reach the top of the table. Rhoda solved it by bouncing up and down.

Bounce! "Excuse me!"

Bounce! "Do you have a delivery-"

Bounce! "-for Rhoda Rab –oof!"

When Rhoda came down, Mina's eyes widen slightly with surprise at a single rose on the rabbit's hands.

"What the fur?" Mina asked with a raise of a brow. They walked all the way here for a rose?

"A snack!" Rhoda declared happily, looking at the single-stemmed red rose. With her mouth wide open, she chomped down on the head, biting it clean off the stem.

Too accustomed to the shark-like herbivore feeding, Mina merely rolled her eyes. But then Rhoda started to cough.

Mina slapped her on the back hard until Rhoda spat something out.

"I think that's the note," Mina said, the glob of spit preventing her from touching the mushy piece of paper.

Rhoda picked it up and read it.

Then she reddened.

"What does it say?" Mina asked, a suspect already on her mind. Didn't Rhoda already told him she's not interested?

"A Greek rose for a Greek rose," the rabbit mumbled, looking away. "It's from Jesse."

Mina snorted as they walked back to the set. "What the hell was that supposed to mean?"

"It's my name," Rhoda said, rubbing the back of her head embarrassedly. "The name Rhoda comes from the Greek word 'rhodon' which means rose."

Rhoda hesitated, not knowing if to throw the spit-sodden note or not. She decided to pocket it.

"It's funny," she smiled. But the smile was suspiciously not of amusement. "Not a lot of people know that."

Mina squinted at her friend's expression. It was soft. Conflicted. But soft.

Mina scowled at her reaction.

"Hey, Rhoda. Wanna go to a club tonight?"

XOXOXOXOXOXO

"Seriously, you're going to wear that?" Mina asked, looking at her up and down from her limo window.

"What's wrong with it?" Rhoda asked, puzzled. She quickly got inside before Poppins would get out and open the door for her. She'd rather not impose on him.

"You look like yer goin' to church!"

Rhoda looked at her in confusion before looking down at what she's wearing. It's simply a blue dress with sleeves. It even had a nice print.

"You told me to dress nicely," she said to Mina.

Mina gave her a look before simply shrugging. She looked nice but it's too innocent to where they're going.

"Where are we going, Mina?"

"Ink and Paint Club," Mina replied, opening the window so that she can have a smoke.

Rhoda's head whipped to her direction. "What?! But toons are not allowed in there, Mina!"

Mina smirked. "Unless you pay the price."

XOXOXOXOXOX

It's true; Ink and Paint Club prided itself for being top class by allowing human patrons only. What the patrons don't know was that there's a hidden balcony where exclusive toon patrons can stay –at a very high price.

Blue eyes peered curiously from the dark to the people below.

"Jinkies," she whispered. "This place is a beaut!"

Mina blew a smoke ring from her cigarette. "My thoughts exactly."

She glance down at the table to see that the napkins and utensils had magically arranged itself into a message.

I know what you're up to.

Poppins who had been sitting with them gave her a look.

Mina however, defiantly blew out a message in a smoke.

Shut up.


Chapter 2: Why Me?


Summary: Male!Jessica was the first to admit that he has feelings for her. For a rabbit who makes a fool of herself for a living, that’s just one of the reasons why she’s finding him hard to believe. Comeback of the Genderbend Universe. Cover Image by Rachel Ordway of CrackpotComics crackpotcomics.deviantart.com/…

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Not the characters. Not the songs.

Song sung by Rhoda is a parody of "I am the very Model or the Modern Major General." It was fun to listen at.

Rhoda and Jesse's banter was fun to write. People always say that I'm off-key and I never sing in a church because I can't blend my voice that well. It always ends up with people looking behind their back, wondering what's wrong with me.

This is for everyone who has the gift to sing off-key… exceptionally well.

About Rhoda, I know you're face-palming at how she's handling the situation. But give her some slack; Jesse must have been her only admirer.

Next: whenyinmetyang.deviantart.com/…

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I believe I owe everyone an apology for discontinuing "Guidelines for Kidnapping." For the sake of work, I shoved it at the backseat of my brain where I forgot how the story was going to happen and then I lost interest. Don't copy me, a writer who let her brainchild die. I'm a brute.

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whenyinmetyang
Philippines

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:iconcoooool123:
coooool123 Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
Thx for the fav!
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:iconkyutenzuken:
kyutenzuken Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2014  Hobbyist
pinay?! :D
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:iconwhenyinmetyang:
whenyinmetyang Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2014
yup, kabayan? :D
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:iconkyutenzuken:
kyutenzuken Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2014  Hobbyist
Yes :3
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:iconshion561:
Shion561 Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2014  Student General Artist
thnks 4 the fave on [MLP] 'Hi' <3!
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:iconartsy08:
Artsy08 Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2013
Thanks for joining my group! ^_^
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:iconplathramsey:
PlathRamsey Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2013
I was looking up Halloween costumes to go out with a female friend and I saw an idea that reminded me of you.

"Jessica Rabbit and Female-Roger Rabbit: Who gets to be the bombshell? Both of you! Gather up a red wig, splashy dress and purple gloves for Jessica, and a red romper, bunny ears and bow tie for Roger."

Aw, I wish you lived closer so we could Trick Or Treat together as the Rabbits!
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:iconwhenyinmetyang:
whenyinmetyang Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2013
aaaww... i'd loved that. but you'd have to be Jessica. i saw your pics, you'd be great in the dress and i'm too slender for her type :)
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:iconplathramsey:
PlathRamsey Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2013
I don't have a skinny waist. You could always stuff your bra and butt. Haha. I've never seen your pictures but you write Roger so well that I think you'd make a great Roger Rabbit. 

What are you dressing up as?
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:iconwhenyinmetyang:
whenyinmetyang Featured By Owner Oct 20, 2013
for Halloween, not sure yet. but between a Jessica and a female Roger, i'd go for the rabbit. we're both dorks :D

what about you? :)
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