Rosita checked her watched for the tenth time, and sighed, wringing her hands nervously for the tenth time. "He's late. It's not like him to be late. Do you think he's okay?"
"For the tenth time," groaned Ash as she tuned her guitar. "I'm sure he's fine. He probably stopped off to get a snack or something."
It had been 45 minutes since Buster left to settle a few accounts at the bank, when he had promised it would take no longer than half an hour. While the others were more or less passive about the koala's tardiness, Rosita's motherly instincts had taken over, and now she was worried.
"You worry too much." mumbled Ash.
"I have 25 kids." was her quick retort. "I think I worry exactly the right amount."
The porcupine shrugged, and began strumming, slowly becoming one with her music.
Now it was 46 minutes, and Rosita began tapping her foot. She considered running out of the theater to find him, when the doors swung open, revealing the dapper koala himself.
"Hey, gang!" he greeted with a too-wide smile. "Sorry I took so long. Traffic was crazy."
"Oh, no worries." replied Ash, giving Rosita an 'I-told-you-so' grin. "How'd things go at the bank?"
"Perfect! Wonderful, excellent, all of that." Buster stumbled slightly o the steps to the stage and whimpered; a sound barely-audible to the rest of the cast, but not to Rosita. She eyed him suspiciously as he walked. His gait was uneven, and the smile on his face looked fake. Like it was painted on.
"Buster, are you okay?" asked the housewife.
"Never better!" Buster let out a barely audible groan. "Just a bit excited is all. How goes rehearsal?"
"Got the new song ready." Ash strummed a few chords, flashing Buster a grin. "And Rosita here's been pacing a hole in the stage. She got worried something happened to you."
"When you're a mother, Ash, you'll know what it's like to worry about the ones you love."
Ash burst into laughter, nearly dropping her guitar. "Okay, you reeeeeally don't know me if you're saying that. I love you guys, and I'm not a mom. I don't need to be."
Rosita was actually taken aback my Ash's words. "That...that's actually really sweet of you to say."
"Don't expect it too much. I'm waaaaay more spice than sugar."
"There she is." sighed Rosita, the corners of her mouth ever so slightly turning upwards.
Buster clapped his hands together. "Well, since things seem to be going perfectly here, I'll be in my office. Call me if you need anything." As he made his way up, Rosita noticed the limp in his step.
"Buster." she spoke, and even Ash lifted her head up. It was the legendary 'Mama Rosita' tone. "Are you sure you're alright?"
Shaking, the koala turned around and tried his best to smile, but saw through the obvious mask. "F-Fit as a fiddle. Going 110%."
Rosita wasn't fooled. "Buster..."
Eyes shifting nervously, Buster sighed. "Okay, I may have incurred a slight--very slight injury on the way back from the bank."
"How 'slight'?" Ash asked as Rosita began wringing her hands again.
"...Nothing too major. I just...might have been...a little...hit by a car."
"WHAT!?" shouted both women simultaneously.
"I-It's no bother, really!" Buster tried to assure, but Rosita wasn't having any of it.
"No bother!? How can you say that's no bother!? How did you even make it back here!?"
"Well, I did survive the theater almost collapsing on me."
"He's got you there." put in Ash.
"You're going to the hospital. This isn't up for debate." Buster had wanted to contest, but the tone in her voice and the look on her face told him that wouldn't be a wise decision.
"Reason for admittance?"
"I got hit by a car."
The scrubs-clad flamingo paused, raising an eye at the sheepish koala. Her eyes then darted to Rosita who only shrugged. "How are you still alive?"
"It takes more than two tons of metal at 45 miles an hour to take down Buster Moon." declared the showman proudly, before yelping in pain and falling to a knee.
"Okay, let's see what the damage is." said the nurse as she walked away, motioning for Buster and Rosita to follow.
No one was sure exactly when Buster's luck would run out. Or maybe it already had when the theater was destroyed, and now it was pure karmic profit. But if there was any to run out, it wouldn't be today.
Buster had managed to leave the hit-and-run with only a cracked rib and a sprained ankle. He'd need a crutch for a few weeks, but the injuries weren't life-threatening, and there would be no need for a hospital stay. But he was advised to stay off us feet, a suggestion Rosita would make sure he'd follow-through on.
"You are one lucky koala." commented the flamingo as she wrapped the last bandage around Buster's torso. "Not many animals of your size would survive a brush with a car."
"What can I say?" smirked Buster. "You can't keep a good Moon down."
There was a pause, shortly followed by a yelp as the flamingo applied the bandage with a bit more force than was necessary. "Okay, you should be back to your old self in about six weeks. Have your mom call me if there's any trouble."
"Don't worry, she--" Buster and Rosita froze. The flamingo's words echoed in their heads. "I'm sorry, my what?"
The nurse looked between the two, before she gestured at the blushing Rosita. "Isn't she your mom?"
"N-No!" exclaimed a red-faced Buster. "How old do I look!?"
"My best guess was somewhere between twelve and fifteen." Buster looked on the verge of a seizure as Rosita tried to contain her laughter.
"She's a pig! I'm a koala! How would that even possible!?"
"Mr. Moon, I've worked here for 20 years. I've seen things here that would suspend your disbelief pretty quickly." She pushed. "There's also the possibility of adoption."
Buster was at a loss for words, only able to sputter incoherently. Scooping up the koala, Rosita thanked the nurse and left, having to bite the inside of her cheek to stop from laughing.
"Are you just going to pout the entire way back?" smirked Rosita.
Buster gave no answer, keeping his arms crossed and the huffy look on his face he'd left the hospital with. Rosita actually thought it was pretty adorable. But she'd never tell him that.
"There's a lollipop in my purse if you want it." She smiled wide when she heard the sound of rummaging through her purse, followed by the unwrapping of plastic.
"I'm not a kid..." Buster mumbled as they neared the theater. "I am a man."
She couldn't. She just couldn't. The bold declaration mixed with the 'pouty teenager' look on his face and the lollipop stick dangling from his mouth...there was only so much one pig could take.
"It's not funny!" shouted Buster as Rosita exploded into laughter.
"I-I'm sorry!" Rosita gasped out between laughter. She wiped a few tears from her eyes, but the laughter didn't cease. Buster glared at her, and she only laughed louder. It was just too cute.
The rest of the drive back to the theater was filled with the sound of Rosita laughing and the sight of Buster sulking. As they pulled into the parking lot, the huffy look on the koala's face stayed, even after Rosita stopped laughing and promised she wouldn't tell anyone.
"Buster, come out of the car." But the koala was obstinate, and refused to even unbuckle his seatbelt. "I said I was sorry for laughing." No answer, just continuing to pout.
"If I have to bake you a pie to get you out of there, I will." smirked Rosita. At that, finally, Buster turned to stare at her.
"You need to work on your threats." he huffed.
Rosita rolled her eyes and put her hands on her hips. "C'mon, was it really so bad she thought I was your mom?"
There was a long period of silence as Buster's face slowly turned from pouty to one of forlorn remembrance. "I...never knew my mom."
Buster sighed. "She...passed just after having me. I only know about her from what my dad told me."
Rosita was stunned. In all the time she'd worked for Buster, she'd never heard him once mention his mom. She'd always thought that Buster's father had gotten a divorce, or she'd just up and left. Slowly, she made her way back into her car, folded her hands across her lap, and waited.
"My dad said she was wonderful." he said after a while. "The whole package. Funny. Smart. Gorgeous. And supportive. She was his world." A shuddering sigh escaped him. "His everything."
"Buster...I had no idea." A single tear fell down the mother's cheek.
"It's fine. I mean, I never mentioned it, so..." He was silent for a moment. "You wanna see her?"
Rosita nodded, not sure if she could hold in the sob that threatened to spill forth. From his wallet, Buster produced a black and white Polaroid and handed it to her.
He was right; she was gorgeous. Bright blue eyes, the same shade of fur. She was in a summer dress, standing in front of a lake, a coy, cheerful smile on her face.
"She looks lovely." sniffled Rosita, wiping away tears. "You've got her eyes."
"Thanks." Buster took a deep breath and smiled up at her. "I never grew up with a mom. From what my dad says, she would've been a great one. But...Rosita...you're the closest I've got."
That single sentence spread warmth throughout Rosita, from the top of her head to the tips of her toes. Without even thinking, she embraced Buster, squeezing him tight without the slightest intention of letting him go. Buster accepted the hug, allowing the tears to flow, not even caring they were probably staining his shirt. The only sounds passing between the two were quiet, gentle sobs.
"Geez, you had us worried!" huffed Ash as Buster and Rosita entered the theater. "How're you feeling, boss? Any better?"
Buster looked up at Rosita, and the two shared a smile. "Actually, yeah. Tons better."