The monorail had just screeched to a halt at the station to the Magic Kingdom. Varian and his faithful raccoon Ruddiger stepped off the monorail and headed to the entrance to the park. Once they arrived, Varian noticed all the beautiful decorations and realized something very important: this would be his first Christmas away from home and...without his father, Quirin. He felt tears prick at the edge of his eyes as he strolled down Main Street USA as he watched all the happy families together. He couldn't bear to look at their smiling faces and noticed an old theater playing Mickey Mouse cartoons.
Varian slunk into the theater quietly as he could so he wouldn't attract any attention to himself or Ruddiger. He sat down in one of the seats at watched the picture show before pulling something out of his satchel. It was a painting of him as a happy infant with both of his parents. "Merry Christmas, dad," he said as he touched the image of his father as tears fell from his eyes.
Gadget bustled out from a little hole in the wall down near the baseboard, her arms full of metal parts. This theater was always dark inside, so nobody noticed the hole, but it was just the right size for a mouse, and offered her an easy way to get to the cast-member-only areas of the building, a perfect place to pick up parts from broken machines, like movie projectors.
As she stepped out of the crack and into the room, Gadget let out a squeak of surprise upon seeing the human. Not many people took the time to visit this place, and it was usually empty.
"Golly, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to disturb your viewing. I'm just passing through; don't pay any attention to me."
Varian jumped a bit at the sound of another voice. He quickly wiped the tears away and cleared his voice, "It's alright. I just needed to get away from all the merriment outside." He looked around to find the source of the voice when his eyes finally noticed Gadget. This didn't seem to surprise him since he met Jake the kangaroo mouse at Tower of Terror a while back.
"I'm sorry to ask but are you one of Jake's friends?," he asked, curious if she knew him. Varian wasn't sure who was friends with which people. He never had friends before until he met Andrina, Elsa, Reuben, and Jake. Though he wasn't sure if Reuben or Elsa were, for sure, his friends but he liked to think they were his friends.
"Yes, he's my friend," answered Gadget, recalling her last meeting with the Australian explorer. "Do you know Jake?" Then, thinking her answer might need a little clarification, she added, "Of course, I'm only his friend from here. Not from back home. We only just met. By the way, nice goggles. It's easy to appreciate a good pair. Did you know you can make a decent pair with a rubber band? Or, you could, if you could find a rubber band big enough to fit your head. Not that your head is extra big. Just regular size for a human."
In the midst of all this, Gadget made a surprising discovery.
"Golly, are you crying?"
Putting down her spare parts, she advanced and asked, "Is there anything I can do to help?"
"Well that's good to know," Varian smiled a little. He blushed a bit when Gadget complimented his goggles, "Aw thank you. These goggles belonged to my late mother." His face fell a bit when he mentioned his mother. He hadn't spoken about her since the anniversary of her passing. It reminded him about how much he missed his father at the moment.
His thoughts were interrupted when Gadget noticed his tear stained face. Varian became embarrassed and hid his face, "Yea. I just miss my dad...that's all..." He felt a new batch of tears ready to fall from his eyes. Ruddiger took notice of his master's sad face and climbed into his lap then rubbed his head against Varian's chest. Varian looked down at Ruddiger and held the raccoon close to him as the tears began to fall again.
It would never occur to Gadget that anybody would be embarrassed to be seen crying. If you're happy, you laugh, if you're sad, you cry; what's embarrassing about that? But now she could see that the boy was really sad. And a coming holiday usually made people happy, too.
Yea. I just miss my dad...that's all...
"Oh, sure, we all miss the people we left back home. Wherever that home is for you. I miss my friends, too." Gadget wasn't trying to minimize his feelings, only to point out how universal they were.
"But there are some of us working on the problem of how to get back. One of these days, we'll crack it. And then we'll all go home. You'll see." She hoped that would cheer him up. If he was smaller, Gadget would've put her arm around his shoulder. As it was, she settled for patting his arm, though he probably couldn't feel it.
"It's more than just missing that," Varian said as he took a shakey breath. He explained his situation to Gadget, which was odd for him but since he met Elsa and the others, he had been opening up more to people. He wasn't sure why but he felt more safer with Gadget as he told his story to her. She kind of reminded him of his late mother but he couldn't figure out why.
Varian finally pulled out his research from his experiment at Tower of Terror. "These are the results of the portal experiment but as you can see was unsuccessful. However, I did collect some very important data," he explained as he set the research down for her to examine for herself. He became nervous as to how she would respond to his research.
Gadget remained very still as Varian recited the story of his life. Or at least, of recent events. Her facial expressions showed clearly how moved she was.
"Golly, that's awful! It's the saddest thing I've ever heard...imagine, seeing your dad trapped like that..." Gadget's thoughts turned to her own father, now gone for several years. But that wound might never really heal. "That Rapunzel character must be the meanest human ever! And I've met some pretty terrible crooks."
But then the little face brightened. This talk probably wasn't helping Varian all that much.
"You know, he might still be alive. I mean, whatever this amber stuff is, it sounds like it could put you in suspended animation. Of course, I'd have to see it to know for sure. But at least it's a chance."
<<I'm assuming they exchanged names somewhere during VArian's off-stage explanation>>
"Yeah...I really believed in her....," Varian sighed then realized something. "Oh! I just realized I never introduced myself. My name is Varian, by the way." He felt a little embarrassed about it. He told her about what happened and never properly introduced himself, which was considered very rude.
Varian shook off the embarrassment and returned back to his latest notes about the portal. "I hope you're right about the amber. So I've been studying the portals for quite some time to find a way home," he said as he went over the research. "So far my research hadn't yielded much results from the tests I've conducted. The last test didn't give quite the reaction I hoped since it exploded. Thankfully, Jake, Reuben, Ruddiger and myself came out unscathed but unfortunately my hypothesis was incorrect. The portals can transport you but only to places associated with Disney."
<<No worries--just thought I'd save us some time>>
My name is Varian, by the way.
"I'm Gadget," answered the mouse of the same name. "Gadget Hackwrench. Nice to meet you." The change of subject brought an instant change in Gadget's expression, which brightened up into its normal cheerful mode. She stepped over to take a look at the papers Varian spread out on the floor. To her they were room-sized, but she was used to dealing with human stuff.
Walking across the notes, Gadget gave them a quick once-over, just to get the gist.
"These are pretty complete. You're a good researcher." It wasn't often she met a fellow scientist. "I was thinking--what if vibrations had some effect on the portals? Or even the barrier that keeps us inside the park? It could be acoustics-based."