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Dancing in the Shadows

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Webby was surprised her fingers weren’t broken.

Not that she minded Lena clinging to her hand like it was her last link to sanity — she squeezed back just as tight, her thumb brushing gently against Lena’s hand, leaning in to press their arms together, making sure Lena knew she was there.

“Ah, Scrooge!” Lena was snapped out of her thoughts by the approach of their “gracious” host of the night — John D. Rockerduck the third or fourth or something. Lena had stopped paying attention when she’d realized Scrooge was basically taking them to a “look how rich I am” party. “So glad you could make it.”

“John.” Scrooge forced a smile. He’d spent the entire drive here complaining about John being from “old money” and how he’d never worked a day in his life. Lena didn’t entirely understand why they were there other than the free buffet. “How are you doing?”

“Oh, you know…”

Lena tuned out the men, looking around again. She already regretted being talked into this. She should have backed out when she’d been told it was formal wear only. Beakley had enjoyed taking her shopping for a dress far too much.

“Breathe,” Webby reminded Lena gently, squeezing her hand. “Look at me.”

The teen did as she was told, and that did distract her for a moment as she looked Webby over. It was rare to see her outside of her usual clothing, and she pulled off the light pink dress well. “See?” Webby smiled, tugging her closer. “You’re okay.”

Lena smoothed down her own, midnight blue dress with her free hand. “Yeah. I’m okay.”

“And I see you’ve added some new faces to your motley crew.” John’s words drew Lena’s attention back to him, and her grip tightened slightly. The downside to running around with Scrooge was the number of times she’d been called a charity case. Her hand had hurt for three days after punching Glomgold, but it had been worth it.

“Just family.” Scrooge chuckled, standing aside to introduce the kids. “These are my nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, my niece Webby, and her girlfriend, Lena.”

Thank god introductions were perfunctory and John didn’t actually care, because he missed the kids’ reactions at the word “girlfriend.” Louie choked on a piece of shrimp while Huey and Dewey gaped, Webby squeaked and hid her face in Lena’s arm, and Lena seriously considered just disappearing into the Shadow Realm forever. To be completely fair to Scrooge, it was hard for him to introduce Webby and Lena as both his nieces when the way they held on to each other could be seen as… slightly less than platonic.

That didn’t mean Lena wasn’t going to kill the old man later for not at least mentioning it his alternative plan first.

The triplets were now staring at Lena and Webby in shock, and Lena gave them a scowl; they immediately scampered off to the buffet table. “Come on,” Webby said, giving Lena a small push. “Let’s get some food.”

“Right.” Lena’s face was burning as she ducked her head and they followed the triplets. The ball room was far from loud, save for the orchestra playing at the back of the room, but there were so many people — Lena bumped into at least three as they walked along, and with each one her anxiety hopped up a little more. Why in the world had she agreed to this? She was sure Scrooge would have understood if she’d said no. It wasn’t like her fear of crowds was any big secret. Why was the room so bright? Had someone turned up the lights?

“Lena?” Webby’s voice sounded like it was coming down a long tunnel. Lena shook her head, squeezing her eyes shut and taking a few steps back before finally letting Webby’s hand go and dropping into a crouch, hands pressed to her ears, breathing short and uneven. Her heart was pounding in her ears, making it almost impossible to hear Webby gently calling her name. Hands rested on her shoulder, and she barely heard, “Can you look at me?”

It took her a moment to force her eyes open; her vision was swimming with tears, blurring everything, and she quickly brought a hand up to scrub them away. “Careful,” Webby said gently, grabbing her hand. “Make-up.”

Lena groaned shakily. “Right.” She took a little more care in brushing the tears away, although she already knew it was too late to save any of her eye shadow. “Ugh. Do you think we can find a bathroom…?”

Her voice drifted off as she looked around for the first time, realizing that not only had it gone very quiet, but everyone had disappeared, and the colors of the room had turned negative. “Oh no …”

“What?” Webby looked around as well, blinking. “Well… it’s a handy escape when you need a minute to breathe.”

“Yeah, great.” Lena sighed. “Do you have my phone?”

They didn’t get reception in the Shadow Realm, of course, but she could still use the front-facing camera to check her make-up. “Not a total loss,” she muttered as she tried to wipe her eyes without smearing anything on her hand. She missed her sweater.

“You look fine,” Webby assured her with a smile. “Beautiful as always.”

Lena smiled back weakly. “Sap. Come on, let’s try and get out of here…”

Webby grabbed Lena’s hand. “Hang on, I think we can stay for a minute. It’s quiet and there’s no one here but us. Take a little more time to calm down.”

Fine …” Lena sighed, shifting to kneel. “Can’t take me anywhere.”

“I was surprised you wanted to come,” Webby admitted. “Uncle Scrooge wasn’t going to make you, you know. He didn’t want you to feel left out.

“Yeah, well…” Lena shrugged, ducking her head. “You seemed excited and…”

“You came to this for me?”

The shock in Webby’s voice was enough to make Lena look up. “Pink, like eighty percent of what I do is because of you. I thought you knew that.”

Webby blinked a few times, mouth hanging open. “Why?”

“Because if I had my way, I’d just stay up in the loft twenty-four/seven, and even I know that isn’t healthy. You make me go out and do things. You make me want to do things.”

A slow smile spread across Webby’s beak, and she dove in to tackle Lena, hugging her tight. Lena returned the hug, resting her cheek on Webby’s shoulder and sighing contently.

“Oh, hey.” Lena pulled away, scrolling through her music for a moment. She didn’t have any romance songs, but she had a playlist of songs that reminded her of Webby. It was basically the same thing. She tapped a song, keeping the volume low and putting it back in Webby’s bag before she stood, offering Webby a hand. “May I have this dance?”

She’d caught Webby humming to herself and dancing around the loft more than once. And this seemed like as good a time as any to fulfill that particular fantasy.

Sure enough, Webby beamed, taking Lena’s hand and letting the teen pull her up. Neither of them actually knew how to dance, so they settled for Lena draping her arms over Webby’s shoulders while Webby rested her hands on Lena’s waist, and they began to dance slowly.

“Hey, Lena?”

“Hm?”

“Thanks.” Webby ducked her head. “I mean, you know, for coming to this. For doing this. And… you know, the other things you do just because I want to.”

“Nothing to thank me for, Pink. It makes you happy, and it gets me out of the house more. Everyone wins, right?”

Webby dared to look up again shyly, smiling. Lena returned the smile, locking her fingers behind Webby’s neck. “Yeah. Everyone wins.”

The song ended, but they didn’t stop their slow rotation. “Scrooge called me your girlfriend.”

“He did .” Webby giggled. “He could’ve warned us or something.”

“Seriously. I’m gonna kill him.”

“No you’re not.”

“Oh fine, I’m not.” Lena rolled his eyes. “But I’m going to like, rig his cane to turn into a snake when he touches it. Or something.”

“I’d love to see that.”

“I’ll make sure you’re there when I do it.”

They laughed quietly, eyes meeting. The world had long since ceased to exist around them. “Hey Webs?”

“Hmm?”

“I… um…”

Words failing, Lena did the next best thing — she leaned in, gently kissing Webby. Webby scooted a little closer to make sure there was no space between them.

And then the world shifted back to normal.

Scrooge had joined the boys at the buffet, unsure of where the girls had disappeared to — he was sure they were annoyed with his improvisation, but he’d realized a little too late that he couldn’t really call both of them his nieces considering the way Lena was clinging to Webby. They would understand, he was sure.

“Uh…”

Scrooge looked at Dewey, who was gaping at something, and he followed the boy’s gaze. The toothpick with a piece of cheese on the end froze halfway to his mouth.

“Is that…”

“Webby and Lena? Yeah.”

“Are they…”

“Kissing? Yeah.”

Lena was the first to realize they were back in the regular world. She pulled away from Webby and looked around before groaning and ducking her head. Webby looked around as well, blushing and giggling slightly.

Scrooge wasn’t sure if he owed them an apology for catching them off guard, or an apology for accidentally outing them.