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A Price Worth Paying

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Buster stared at the instrument before him. He presumed it to be a guitar, but why it had two necks, he had absolutely no idea. It seemed extremely impractical. Next to it was one that was in the shape of a revolver, and next to that was some kind of steampunk monstrosity that he was sure was more for decoration than actual music.

"Remind me why you brought me with you again?"

"Because," replied Ash, turning from the rack of guitars she was looking at. "My old guitar is starting to show its age, and I wanna invest in a replacement. And you have a critical eye."

Buster raised an eyebrow. "But I don't know anything about guitars. At all."

"Well, it's also nice having you around." The koala's eyes lit up, the light quickly going out when Ash added "Plus, I need someone to carry my stuff."

Rolling his eyes, Buster turned back to look at the guitars that defied all logic and reason.

Truthfully, if Buster didn't like hanging out with Ash as much as she did he, he'd have gotten bored a long time ago. But they passed the time by making jokes about some of the guitars, posing and taking pictures with the few sensible ones they could find, and trying to swat each other with the straps, before one of the employees threatened to eject them from the store if they didn't stop messing around.

"Ugh, none of these." Ash said, practically throwing the guitars back onto their hooks. "They're good, but none of them are...me, y'know?"

"I...guess so?" replied Buster. Truthfully, he had no idea what she was talking about. Whether it was a girl thing, a teenager thing, or a musician thing, he couldn't tell. Maybe it was all three.

"Should we try another store?"

Ash shook her head no. "Nah, it's getting late, we should probably head ba--oh, my gosh!" The porcupine blew past him, towards the other end of the store. Buster was about to ask what got her in such a tizzy, when he saw.

Even with his limited knowledge on 'axes', he knew a treasure when he saw one. Buster had a proclivity for the antiques, which is probably how he knew it from the get-go. It was a cherry red Gibson EB-0, circa 1961, from the quality and texture of the wood. He'd only heard of such a guitar in legend. Last he checked, there were only six in existence.

"It's amazing..." Ash whispered, with all the reverence of a serf meeting a noble for the first time. "Mahogany and Brazilian redwood...glued-in neck joint...humbucking pickup..." She ran her hands over the instrument, and Buster could swear he saw hearts in her eyes. "Oh, baby, I want you. I could show you a gooooood time."

"Hey!" she shouted, turning to the cashier. "How much is the Gibson?"

"2600$." replied the rhino.

Buster rushed to catch Ash as she nearly hit the floor. "Are you okay!?" he asked.

"Yeah, I'm fine, it's just...that's a LOT."

"Well, yeah. They stopped making these things in 1979." Ash stared. "I, uh...went through a little bit of a rock and roll phase when I was a kid."

A smile made its way to Ash's face before almost immediately falling. "This sucks, though. I really want that guitar...it's like it was calling to me. This is true love, Buster."

"What about Warren?"

"I can't pluck Warren and make her shriek loud enough to shake the rafters." A pause, a mischievous grin. "Well, if I'm being honest--"

"Okay." Buster interrupted, letting a laughing Ash fall to the floor. "I think you've spent too much time in here. Let's head back."

"Fine, fine, killjoy." As they left, Buster stole one final glance at the guitar, and an idea began to form.

-/-/-/-/-

"...been dreaming of this since a child. I'm on top of the world!" Johnny finished the song with a flourish and a wide smile on his face, that grew even wider at the sound of Buster and Ms. Crawley's applause.

"Bravo, bellissimo!" cheered the koala. "My heart's practically crying right now, Johnny. Okay, now let's--"

He never got to finish that sentence, as an earsplitting scream sounded throughout the theater, making all three jump. A blur appeared as if from nowhere and tackled Buster head on.

"OHMYGOSHTHANKYKUBUSTERTHANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOUILOVEYOUYOU'REAMAZINGILOVEYOUSOMUCH!"

"Okay, okay, calm down!" laughed Buster as he picked himself up. "So, you like it?"

"Like it? Like it!?" panted Ash. "I love it! You're amazing, Buster!"

"What's going on?" asked Johnny, before he noticed the guitar on her back. His eyes went saucer wide as he took in the instrument. "Hang on...that can't be...is that a Gibson EB-0!?"

"1961 model!" finished the porcupine, whipping around the instrument and playing a few chords. Buster smiled as the two gushed over the guitar; she was a natural. That guitar sounded like it had been in her possession since birth.

"Mr. Moon..." ventured Ms. Crawley. "How much did that cost?"

"Oh, not to worry." Buster assured. "We don't need to worry about Judith coming down here." He did, however, keep from her that he was taking a rather substantial pay cut for the next few weeks.

But it was a price worth paying to see Ash smile like that.