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Bullets Don't Care About What You Think

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Ma Beagle wasn’t normally a murdering type. The thieving type, absolutely, but she was never interested in homicide. That is, until Darkwing Duck. She didn’t think he was a threat at first, just a loser dressed up as a hero from a show her boys watched as pups. There was no way this cosplayer could be any good, right? Well, the fact was that after 2 run ins with him and his sidekick, Ma was no richer. She was ready to put a bullet in his brain.
“We know how this ends, Beagle!” he called with sickening bravado from the other end of the rooftop, that stupid sidekick of his standing on his right with hands on his hips. “Give up the Stuartson Sapphires and I might talk your prison sentence down to only 20 years!”
“You know, you’re really starting to piss me off,” she growled. He rolled his eyes.
“Oh, my feelings, how will I ever re-”
Before he could finish the word ‘recover’, Ma whipped out a pistol, clicked the safety, cocked it, and fired once at Darkwing Duck. The caped crusader didn’t realize what happened until the ordeal was done, and even then he couldn’t process it. He didn’t have a chance to stop his sidekick from shielding him. In seconds, Launchpad was on the ground in front of him, the shout of “DW!” barely out of his mouth.
“Launchpad!” he screamed, dropping to the ground and wringing his hands over LP’s body. He was so still, the bullet meant for Darkwing buried in Launchpad’s stomach as was evident by the deep red stain spreading across his white shirt.
“Launchpad, can you hear me?” he demanded, shaking the large man violently. To his small relief, he felt a faint thrumming when he pressed two fingers to Launchpad’s throat. “Don’t worry, I- I’m getting help!” he shouted shakily, his vision blurry as he whipped out his phone and dialed 911 as quickly as his trembling fingers could.
“911, what’s your emer-”
“My friend was shot!” Darkwing blubbered. “We’re on the Channel 9 building, please he’s dying!” His voice cracked as he rubbed LP’s hand absently.
“On top of the Channel 9 building?” the man asked.
“Yes, yes! Hurry!”
“Okay, sir, but I need you to calm down, alright? Take slow, deep breaths.” DW had no intention of calming down. Launchpad was dying right in front of him! “Sir, did you hear me?”
“I- y-yeah,” he stuttered.
“You need to calm down if you want to help your friend,” the man’s calm voice explained. “Do you understand?” Darkwing swallowed hard.
“Yes,” he said more calmly.
“Good. Where was he shot?” Darkwing glanced at the bullet wound, fresh tears threatening to fall.
“His- his stomach.”
“Okay. You need to find something to use to stop the bleeding. A spare article of clothing, like-”
“A scarf?” Darkwing asked, his eye catching on the cream scarf Launchpad had around his neck.
“Yes, a scarf is good. You’ll need to press it to the wound, put pressure on it.” As gently as he could, Darkwing undid the scarf and wadded it up, pressing it to the blood-soaked shirt. LP winced.
“Sorry, sorry!” DW whimpered.
“Sir, are you still with me?” the man asked.
“I’m here,” Darkwing said.
“Okay. You’re doing good,” the operator assured him. “A helicopter will be there in 10 minutes, sir. You need to stay calm and try to keep him alive until then. Is he breathing?” Darkwing panicked. I forgot to check if he was breathing! He put his finger under Launchpad’s nostrils. A faint stream of air met him. He let out a breath of his own.
“Yes, barely,” he answered at last.
“Okay, just keep checking until the paramedics get there. I will tell you when you can hang up. You’ll want me on the line if something happens, okay?”
“Okay,” he mumbled, putting the phone on speaker on the ground so he could keep two fingers pressed to LP’s wrist and the other hand firmly on the rapidly reddening scarf. His eyes skittered across his wounded friend, checking for anything else possibly wrong. Launchpad’s face was permanently twisted in a grimace, his strong brow furrowing as he made soft guttural whines.
“Launchpad,” he said with as much strength as he could muster, “LP, I don’t know if you can hear me, but you can’t go out like this. W-what about Gos? She needs you! You know how devastated she’ll be when I tell her you’re gone? She needs you! Who’s gonna help me raise her if you d-”
He couldn’t bring himself to say it. A sob escaped in the effort, then another, then he was out and out crying with his head falling on the big guy’s chest.
“Launchpad, you can’t! I need you too much!” he whispered between sobs. Launchpad didn’t answer. Through his blurry eyes, he noticed a far off light in the sky, stronger than a star could be in the city. The helicopter!
“T-the helicopter! Launchpad, it’s okay! It’s here!”
“You can hang up now,” the operator said. DW looked at his phone, having forgotten it was there.
From the shadows, Ma Beagle watched curiously. She could end Darkwing Duck right here, right now. She never meant to hit the sidekick. The gun still had more than enough rounds left and he was barely ten feet away. It was stupid easy.
But with a grin spreading across her face, she watched the fool sob over his sidekick. She didn’t know hardly anything about love -if she felt it at all for her boys, it was minimal and rare- but she understood how it could make someone hurt. Why put a swift end to his misery when she could hurt him in a lasting way? Even if Launchpad ended up dying, Darkwing would have to live with the knowledge that his friend died for him. One way or another, he would be off of her radar for long enough to finally have the field day she’d been lacking since he came to town. The bond between Darkwing and Launchpad was as clear as it was damning, and Ma Beagle was never one to not exploit a weakness. So with the widest grin, she slunk back into the shadows and disappeared into the night

Chapter Text

The ride to the hospital couldn’t have been longer than 15 minutes, but for Darkwing it felt like years. Launchpad’s breathing was starting to steady with the equipment helping him to breathe, but he was pale and his face still contorted with pain. Darkwing didn’t once let go of his large hand, even while he called Scrooge to let him know what had happened (which went over about as well as one would expect telling a man that his surrogate son had been shot would go over.
“We’re on the way to the hospital right now, Mr. McDuck. They said no major arteries were hit, but he’s crazy lucky to be a- alive.” Scrooge swore.
“‘S what he gets for galavantin’ off in the middle of the night, associating with you cowl-wearin’ kooks!”
“I’m sorry, Mr. McDuck,” he said in a small voice.
“We’ll be there as soon as we can,” Scrooge said rigidly, then he hung up the phone. Darkwing sighed, taking the phone away from his ear to dial again, this time his own house phone. It took 6 rings, but finally his daughter picked up.
“Hello?” His breath hitched at her tiny little voice.
“H-hey, Gosalyn,” he said shakily.
“Dad? Is everything okay?” He looked down at the hand he was holding, rubbing circles into Launchpad’s skin with his thumb.
“Sweetheart, listen,” he began, unsure how best to go about this. “It’s Launchpad, Gos. There was an accident while we were working and he-” He heard her gasp.
“Dad, he isn’t- is he?”
“No, he’s alive, he’s alive,” he assured her.
“But?”
“But he’s hurt really bad, honey. We’re on our way to the hospital right now. I want you to find my cash stash on the-”
“Top shelf of the cabinet, I know, dad,” she said quickly. That would have to be addressed later.
“I- good. Just bring two twenties and use some to ride the bus here, understand, Gos?”
“Yuh huh,” she whispered.
“You know my rules about riding the bus. Just be careful, Gosalyn.” She hummed.
“Dad?”
“Yes, Gosalyn?” There was a lengthy pause before she spoke up again.
“Tell Launchpad that if he even thinks about leaving this mortal coil, I’m gonna drag his ass right back down here,” she said shakily, but with the confidence that can only be had by a child who’s decided to curse in front of her parent.
“Language!” he hissed incredulously.
“English!” she shot back shortly. “I meant what I said!” He sighed, not surprised.
“I will let him know, then,” he said tiredly, “And I’ll let that slide as long as you don’t make a habit of saying stuff like that, young lady.” He could almost see her lopsided grin.
“Oh, one more thing,” she added in a voice that sounded much younger than her years. He raised an eyebrow even though he knew she couldn’t see it.
“Oh yeah?”
“Tell him I love him,” she squeaked. He melted immediately.
“Of course,” he said with a small smile. “Of course I will, honey.”
“Okay,” she said firmly. “I- I’ll see you when I get there. I love you, Dad.” He bit his bottom lip. Normally he was the one to say ‘I love you’ first and when she echoed, it was an afterthought that she seemed a little embarrassed to say. She’s really shaken up by this, he realized with a pang of sadness.
“I love you too, Gosalyn. So much. Bye.” He hung up slowly, exhaling deeply.
“Don’t do this to us, LP,” he muttered under his breath, cupping Launchpad’s hand with both of his.

Chapter Text

True to his word, Scrooge stormed into the hospital with four half-asleep and teary-eyed kids, a set of terrified twins, and an angry housekeeper.
“We’re here for Launchpad McQuack!” he told the man at the front desk. The man calmly put on a pair of reading glasses and peered at his computer.
“Looks like he isn’t out of surgery yet, I’m afraid,” the secretary said apologetically with a sympathetic smile. Louie clutched at his hoodie like it was crushing him, his breathing irregular.
“Oh jeez, he’s- Launchpad’s not gonna- he’s not gonna-”
“Deep breaths, Lou,” Donald said, kneeling in front of his youngest nephew and gently resting his hands on Louie’s shoulders. “He’ll be alright, Louie. Just breathe.”
“What if he- if- if he-”
Dewey wrapped his arms around his little brother.
“C’mon, this is Launchpad! He’s survived, like, a million times worse.” Louie’s hyperventilation slowed down a little bit.
“Hey, let’s sit down,” Donald suggested, leading Louie to a seat near them.
“Good idea, Donnie,” Della said, guiding the rest of the kids over to join them.
“Dewey’s right,” Mrs. Beakley said soothingly. “Launchpad has far outlived my expectations with all of the beatings he’s taken. He’ll be alright, children.” A soft tapping drew their attention towards Scrooge. He was bouncing his knee rapidly and his heel was tapping on the ground. Quietly, Webby slid out of her seat and made her way over to him.
“Uncle Scrooge?” He looked down at the little girl through red eyes, the bouncing stopping. She enveloped him in a hug that he graciously returned.
Dewey looked around dejectedly, determined to find something to distract himself with. Just then, something caught his eye. It was a man in a leather jacket with a red-haired little girl under his arm, her face buried in his shirt. Dewey knew better than to stare, but there was something about that man.
Then it hit him- Launchpad’s actor friend! Duke- no, Dirk. No, no, Drake! That’s it, Dewey thought. He wasn’t a betting kid, but if he were he’s guess they were here for Launchpad too. Dewey was staring at him intensely now, determined to make eye contact. The guy did not want to look up for anything. At first, Dewey figured that he was just focusing on comforting the kid, but after five minutes he hadn’t looked up. Huey nudged him.
“Stop staring,” his brother said under his breath through gritted teeth.
“Hue, I know this guy!” he whispered, not looking away. “He’s Launchpad’s friend- I’m sure that’s why he’s here.” Huey pulled down his ball cap so nobody but Dewey could see his eye roll. “Then go over and talk to him like a sane person!” Dewey didn’t answer. “Don’t ignore me, Dewford!” he hissed.
“No, I’m not, I’m not- he just looked at me and looked away super fast!” Dewey said, eyes narrowed. “He’s avoiding me!”
“Wonder why,” Huey muttered. “You know, you could just leave him alone,” Huey offered. “I mean, his friend just got- you know. He’s bound to be a bit frazzled. Goodness knows we all are.” Dewey gave Drake one last glance, then relented.
“You’re right,” he said quietly. Huey noted his brother’s unwillingness to argue with sadness. Well, not true sadness -any chance to win an argument was welcomed- but he could tell how drained his family was. Huey hadn’t really let anything sink in yet so he was still operating, but gradually reality was starting to slip in through the cracks in his barriers and his throat tightened, he couldn’t breathe, he was going to pass out, he was-
Dewey squeezed his arm gently, pulling him back down to earth. Dewey took a long breath in, motioning for Huey to imitate, then exhaled slowly. Huey took halting deep breaths, closing his eyes.
“Thanks,” he whispered quickly. His anxiety was nowhere near their youngest brother’s, but in times like this it would suddenly flare up and become just as bad. Dewey was the only one who really didn’t have these problems and he’d always been the one to step up when things went wrong. Huey had always and would always admire him for his levelheadedness in this kind of rough situation, even if the maturity he displayed seldom reared its head otherwise.
“Family of Launchpad McQuack?” a doctor called. The whole Duck/McDuck/Vanderquack/Beakley armada all shot up, as well as, Dewey noticed, Drake and the little girl. The doctor looked skeptical. “I have to emphasize that this is family only,” he intoned.
“We’re the closest thing to family the lad has,” Scrooge growled. “How is he?” The doctor glanced at the children.
“I’ll speak to the adults first and if you want to tell the children afterwards, that’s your decision,” he said finally. Mrs. Beakley nodded, giving Webby a quick squeeze before sending her to sit back down. Donald nodded at the triplets who did the same, none of them sure if they were upset to be dismissed like this or relieved to have the parental filter. The red haired girl was sent away too, and catching Dewey’s eye, she made a beeline for them.
“Are- are you Launchpad’s family?” she asked timidly. They nodded without a hint of hesitation. This seemed to be enough for her as she took the empty seat next to Webby where Mrs. Beakley had been sitting. Webby gave her a welcoming little smile, but that was all she could muster at the moment. “I’m Gosalyn. Launchpad and my dad are best friends,” she explained. Best friends, Dewey thought. He had hardly heard Launchpad say Drake’s name more than twice. I shouldn’t be surprised. Launchpad doesn’t say anything about his personal life, Dewey realized.
You never asked, a mean voice in his head countered. Dewey made a not to ask next time (and there would be a next time!) he was hanging out with Launchpad.
“Do whatever you have to!” Scrooge shouted from across the room, drawing everyone’s attention incidentally. “Money is no object! Just help him!” The doctor took a steadying breath, then quietly but firmly explained something to the adults.
“Figure it out then! Or find someone who can!”
“We’re trying, Mr. McDuck,” the doctor said, not even bothering to lower his voice anymore. “He did only come in two hours ago.” Dewey noticed Drake who visibly seemed to be in the most pain, squeezing his eyes shut like if he blinked, it would all go away.
“Can I do anything for him?” Drake croaked. “Give blood or a kidney or, hell, anything!” The doctor sized up the scrawny but muscular man.
“Blood type?” he asked. Drake strained to think.
“Oh geez, B positive I think.”
“Then no. That was the other reason why I came out here: is anyone with type A or type O blood?” Della’s eyes widened.
“I-I’m type O!” she said frantically, raising her hand a little awkwardly. THe doctor looked at her.
“Good. I’ll need you to come with me, Miss-?”
“Duck. Della Duck,” she said hurriedly.
“As for the rest of you, I will keep you posted,” the doctor finished, then started to lead Della back with him.
“Wait!” Della turned around to see her youngest son running at her, Dewey and Huey in tow. She knealt down and opened her arms for her sons who leapt into them.
“It’s okay, boys,” she whispered. “It’ll all be okay.” She kissed the tops of their heads, then with a few reassuring pats, stood up and turned back to the doctor.
“Okay, I’m ready now,” she announced. They disappeared behind a heavy metal door and that was the last anyone saw of Della or the doctor for hours.
“So?” Huey asked timidly to no one in particular. “What did he say?” Scrooge and Donald met eyes, both obviously debating whether or not to tell the kids.
“You are telling us, right?” Webby asked, incredulous at their hesitance. “You have to tell us!”
“Webbigail-” Scrooge began, but couldn’t seem to find the words to finish.
“It’s not that simple, kids,” Donald sighed.
“No, it is that simple! It’s perfectly simple!” Huey fumed, throwing his hands up. “You bring us on deadly missions every day! In the months since we’ve moved into the mansion, we’ve had to become alright with the fact that our family is constantly in mortal peril. Not including us in this conversation now is blatant hypocrisy!”
“Huey has a point, you know,” Mrs. Beakley said, her voice firm but gentle. “They have the right to know if they think they can handle it. Launchpad is family.” Donald pursed his beak.
“Okay.” He took a deep breath, all of the kids gathering around him anxiously. “The doctor said that the… the bullet… it didn’t go all the way through him. His muscle slowed it d-down- oh God…” Donald looked like he was going to be sick. Mrs. Beakley patted him on the shoulder, kindly taking over.
“The bullet is still embedded in him, but it’s right next to his spine, so the surgery is very high risk.” The kids’ expression ranged from queasy to stoic.
“That’s what they’re going to do now,” Scrooge clarified. Dewey nodded silently in understanding.
“He’ll be alright,” Webby said quietly, almost more to reassure herself than anyone else.
“If anyone can survive this, it’s him,” Dewey agreed, feeling himself becoming a broken record with every reassurance.

Donald went home around 4 am to get pillows and blankets for the family, not no mention a few special things.
“Dewey, I grabbed your sketchbook,” he said, handing the middle child a spiral notebook with a black immitation leather cover. “Huey, your Rubick’s cube.” Huey took the cube graciously with shaky hands. “And Louie, I’m sorry, I couldn’t find any comics you hadn’t read yet, so I grabbed Worm Warrior #27. Is that okay?” Louie nodded numbly, feeling the familiar worn pages beneath his thumb. Safe. Comfortable. No unexpected plot twists to leave him reeling. He’d had enough plot twists in the last few hours to satisfy him for years to come.
“Thank you, Uncle Donald,” Huey mumbled. His brothers followed suit monotonously.
“If you can, you boys should try to get some sleep,” he added. “If you can’t, though, I understand.” Huey absentmindedly fiddled with the cube at lightning speed, not even with the intent of solving the puzzle.
“Not me,” he said apologetically. Dewey tapped his pencil eraser lightly on a blank page.
“Me neither.”
“I think I’m going to try,” Louie said in a voice that showed just how exhausted he was. While the prospect of sleep was out of reach for his brothers, Louie could think of nothing more appealing. If he could fall asleep, for a few hours even, he might be able to leave behind the terrifying possibilities running through his head. His body was tired for sure; it might be easuer to actually get to sleep than if he was running on pure anxiety rather than a mix of anxiety and exhaustion. Curling up on his side with his head resting on a pillow propped up on the armrest of his chair, Louie tucked the comic book under his chair and pulled the fleece blanket up to his chin.
“Goodnight, Louie,” Donald said, inspiring Deja Vu as Louie recalled Donald saying the same thing only a few hours ago when he put the boys to bed the first time. When they thought everything was fine…
No, he thought, scrunching his face up. I’m not doing that now. I need to sleep. Somewhat fitfully, he slowly drifted off…

Chapter Text

Louie awoke to a gentle shaking.
“Louie.” He couldn’t tell who it was, his mind still foggy with sleep. Slowly, he opened his eyes to a figure in blue.
“Dewey?” he mumbled.
“C’mon, Lou, we gotta go see Launchpad.” Disoriented, Louie sat up. His neck was killing him. Everything suddenly came back.
“He’s out of surgery?” Louie asked.
“Yeah,” Huey answered. Louie’s eyes grew.
“Is he awake?” His brothers met eyes.
“They’re keeping him in a medically induced coma,” Huey said finally. Louie deflated a little.
“Hey, at least he’s stable,” Dewey said optimistically. “C’mon, everyone else is already in there, we should get going.” Louie gave a small nod and they jogged to catch up with their uncle who was at the beginning of the hall.
“This way, boys,” Donald said lightly. Huey put firm hands on his brothers’ shoulders to prevent them from darting ahead. Dewey was offended, but he would’ve been more offended if Huey’s caution wasn’t with probable cause. For this reason, rather than voicing his annoyance, he simply shot his older brother a P’d off face.
“It’s just down here,” Donald muttered, just on the verge of running himself.
Finally, they reached the room.
“Now, boys,” Donald said gently. “Launchpad is probably going to look really sick. If you need to step out, that’s okay. While we’re in there, be careful not to touch his torso and watch out for medical equipment. Do you understand?” The boys nodded solemnly. Donald opened the door slowly, like the action took more out of him than it should. Clearly the boys weren’t the only ones scared to see what had become of their friend. Donald peeked his head in. He was right on the money about LP looking awful- the skin underneath his feathers was sunken and pale, dark circles around his closed eyes. Drake Mallard was at his bedside with his head propped up on his hands and elbows on his knees. His daughter sat in the chair next to him, staring at Launchpad, expressionless. Scrooge, Beakley, and Webby were also already inside.
“Donald,” Scrooge greeted. The boys filed in slowly.
“How is he?” Donald asked in a low voice.
“Better than he was, that’s for damn sure,” Scrooge replied with a sigh.
“That’s still sucky,” Dewey muttered. Huey elbowed him.
“How’s he taking to the blood Mom donated?” Huey asked.
“Fairly well, to my knowledge,” Scrooge replied, taking his glasses off and polishing them on his suitjacket. “They haven’t said otherwise.” Huey nodded, his eyes faraway. The room was silent after this exchange, leaving everyone to their thoughts. No matter the rest of the content, one thing permeated in every mind in that room-
Come back to us, Launchpad.

Chapter Text

“So are you ever going to explain what happened?” Gosalyn asked as her dad unlocked the door to their house. He frowned.
“Huh?”
“Don’t play dumb with me, dad! How, working on a night shift at McDonald’s, did Launchpad get shot?” He cringed. So he hadn’t been completely honest with his daughter about his nightly pastime. Sue him. It did, however, mean that right now, he was in trouble.
“Driveby shooter. Launchpad was working the window and… the lady… you know.” He was more than thankful for his years of acting classes. Unfortunately, Gos was one smart cookie.
“And it wasn’t on the news? Dad, c’mon,” she pried.
“Fine. It was really on the street.” Gos raised an eyebrow.
“And you were picked up in a helicopter why, then?” Drake frowned.
“How did you know about the helicopter?” She shrugged.
“Heard it over the phone. Tell me the truth, dad.” Drake cringed.
“Honey, you’re not going to like it.” Gosalyn’s fierce green eyes met his.
“I didn’t ask for it to be pretty- I asked what happened,” she replied sharply. He sighed.
“Okay. Just- let’s get inside first, alright?” She nodded vigorously, shooting throught the doorway and diving onto the couch. It took a lot not to just fall asleep right then and there, the plush cushions ever so tempting after the long night, but she had to know.
“Now tell me everything.” He closed his eyes, taking a deep breath to keep his composure and sitting down next to her.
“So… you know how there’s another superhero in town? The one who goes around at night and busts crime?” Gosalyn’s jaw went slack.
“Oh my gosh, are you joking?” He hesitated, rubbing the back of his neck.
“A-about what? I didn’t finish.” She rolled her eyes.
“Cut the crap, dad, I see where this is going. You and Launchpad have been parading around at night being vigilantes? Tell me I missed something!” Her incredulous eyes edged on anger. He pursed his beak.
“No, kiddo, you pretty much hit the nail on the head.” She threw her hands up.
“What were you thinking? You could get killed! Launchpad almost did!” The fury in her eyes melted into tears.
“I-I could get sent back into f-foster care!” She gulped for air, looking around the room frantically. “If you d-die, I’ll be an or- a- orph-”
She wasn’t able to hold it together anymore. Gosalyn let herself fall sideways into his lap, sobbing. “Dad, I d-d-don’t want you to d-die!”
“Honey, I’m never going to let you go back into the system. You’ll never be an orphan again, you hear me?” He scooped her up and hugged his daughter close.
“You don’t really have a choice i-in the matter if you g-get ki-illed,” she countered bitterly. “Tonight m-made that obvious.” Drake squeezed Gos tighter, trying not to let her words sink in.
“Listen, Gosalyn, until Launchpad is better- completely better, the cape stays hung up, okay? Then we’ll figure out what to do about it.” She nodded into the shirt he’d borrowed from Donald upon the less-than-eloquent explanation and frantic gesturing to his costume. The costume was still in a garbage bag that the hospital had given him, still covered in Launchpad’s b- Launchpad’s blo-
Drake let out a sob over the thought. Gosalyn looked up in surprise, climbing to her knees.
“Oh, dad.” She wrapped her arms around him in a hug that he graciously returned. “You gotta breathe, dad,” she whispered. He chuckled a little.
“I’m the parent, I’m supposed to be the one comforting you,” he said weakly.
“Now where would you be without your emotional-support-daughter?” she said playfully. He out and out laughed for the first time since last night before he and Launchpad left for patrol.
*They were just waiting for Gosalyn to fall asleep, Launchpad in the armchair and Drake exactly where he was now on the couch. LP was looking around the room, fascinated. No matter how many times he saw their place, he always seemed spellbound by every detail.
“You really have a huge place, Drake,” he said at last. Drake snorted.
“It’s not that big, LP. It’s just a medium sized house.” Launchpad shrugged.
“Bigger than my bachelor pad.”
“Anything’s bigger than a bachelor pad! Wait-” Drake’s face dropped into concern. “You work for Scrooge McFreakingDuck and you live in a bachelor pad?” Launchpad nodded. Drake’s frown held traces of anger. “Does he not pay you enough for a good house? Dammit, I knew that money-grubber wasn’t good enough for you! If I get my hands on him I’ll-”
“Whoa whoa whoa, Drake!” Launchpad took Drake’s raised fist in his hand. “Mr. McDee pays me plenty. Probably more than I deserve considering how often I crash his cars,” he added with a chuckle. “I live in a bachelor pad because I could never keep an actual house clean. He even offered to let me have a room at the mansion, but I’m afraid it would get too messy and Mrs. B would kick me out.” He rubbed the back of his neck. His face burst into a grin. “But at my place, I don’t have to be afraid of that!” Drake frowned. Then he had an idea.
“Y-y’know, Launchpad,” he said with a little chuckle, “Gos and I have a spare room. I wanted to make it into, I don’t know, like an office or something, but I never got started. We could do that room up for you.” Launchpad searched his face uncertainly.
“Gee, Drake, I don’t know…”
“No judgement over messes,” Drake added, “I’m no hypocrite.” Launchpad laughed, glancing at the piles of hockey gear, clothes, and all other assortments of things around the living room alone.
“You mean it?” he asked finally. It was Drake’s turn to take Launchpad’s hand.
“Course, Launchpad. I mean, you helped me adopt my daughter! If that isn’t enough, you fight crime with me, help me raise Gos- if I didn’t offer, I’d never forgive myself.” Launchpad grinned so wide Drake though his face might crack.
“I’d love that,” the pilot said. Drake smiled. “Oh, uh, Gos is probably asleep by now,” Launchpad realized. “You ready to get dangerous?” Drake laughed.
“Like you have to ask,” he answered, tying his mask.

Chapter Text

It was the day after the incident and Dewey was being ten times as reckless as normal.
“Dewford! Seriously, what are you doing?” Huey shouted.
“What? Can’t hear you over the sound of the best idea ever!” Dewey shouted back from the top of the money bin. “And the wind! The wind is loud up here!”
“Dewey, please don’t,” Louie pleaded.
“You’re going to break the trampoline!” Huey screamed. “And both of your legs! Scratch that- every bone in your body!”
“Wrong, this trampoline is reinforced, like, a gazillion times!” Dewey corrected. “And c’mon, it’s gonna be super fun!”
“Dewford Dingus Duck!” He went pale.
“Oh, hey Uncle Donald,” he said sheepishly, turning around to see his pissed off uncle trying to steady himself after reaching the top.
“What were you thinking?” Donald demanded. “Get away from that ledge right now! Dewey looked longingly down at the trampoline one last time before turning on his heel-
And slipping.
“DEWEY!” Donald screamed, breaking into a sprint. Dewey’s face turned to pure horror as he fell backwards and his feet left the concrete. Huey screamed down below and Louie squeezed his eyes shut. Donald’s arm shot out for him in the nick of time and caught him by the shirt. His arm shaking, Donald pulled Dewey back onto the roof. Dewey, quivering, scrambled into Donald’s arms, clinging tightly to his uncle.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” Dewey cried. Donald took a deep breath, running his hand back and forth across Dewey’s back.
“What were you thinking?” he asked again, his voice soft but serious.
“I don’t know! It seemed fun, that was all I saw! I was just-” trying to forget about my best friend with a bullet next to his spine, trying to ignore the biggest fear I’ve ever felt, trying to stop hurting, Dewey thought.
“Dewey, you cannot do this,” Donald said. “You can’t just thrillseek until the worry goes away- you’ll never stop. Trust me, I know.” Dewey’s eyes filled with tears.
“I’m so scared, Uncle Donald,” he whispered.
“I know, bud. Me too.” Donald took a shaky deep breath, rubbing his shivering nephew’s back as the adrenaline faded. He gave Dewey two gentle pats. “C’mon, we should go make sure you didn’t give your brothers heart attacks down there.” Dewey cringed.
“Some apologies are probably in order, huh?”
“Probably.”
They arrived safely at the bottom.
“Dewey!” Huey raced over the second they hit the ground, enveloping his younger brother in a hug which Dewey dutifully returned. “You are the worst!” Huey shouted through tears.
“I know, I know, I’m so sorry,” Dewey sighed. Huey released him with a gentle shove.
“You don’t get to pull anything like that ever again, you hear me?” Dewey nodded sheepishly. His eyes traveled over to the youngest brother a few feet away with his hood pulled over his head and his back to the others. Dewey grimaced.
“Louie?”
“What?” The green brother’s tone was cold. Dewey started towards him slowly.
“I’m sorry, Louie. That was really dumb and I should have listened to you guys.” He reached for Louie’s shoulder, but Louie shrugged his hand away.
“What, it wasn’t enough that one family member was hurt? You just had to make it two, huh?” Louie didn’t even turn to face his brother, but Dewey could hear him struggling to keep the tears down.
“You could’ve been killed, Dewey.” Louie’s voice was so small.
“I- I know. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry for scaring you guys.” Dewey leaned forward so he could look his little brother in the eyes. Louie turned to avoid him. “Oh, cheap move!” Dewey laughed, trying to get on the other side. Louie stifled a giggle, looking at the sky to evade Dewey’s eyes. “You can’t ignore meee!” Dewey singsonged, wrapping his arms around Louie’s middle and picking him up. Louie looked down at Dewey, snorting,
“Okay, okay, put me down already!” Dewey smirked, doing as he was told, but the hug lingered.
“Love you, jerk,” Louie whispered. “Don’t die on me before I get to see your awkward teenage years, okay?” Dewey chucklesnorted.
“Ugh, fine. Love you too, Lou.” Huey grinned, wrapping his arms around both of them.
“Dewey, you know you are so, so hopelessly grounded, right?” he whispered into the hug.
“Oh, I kinda figured.” Louie chuckled under his breath.
“Take a good look around, Dewey, this is probably the last time you’ll see the outside world until college.” They finally pulled away. “And if it’s anything like when mom grounded me, you aren’t getting away with anything.” Louie’s hands found their permanent residence back in his pocket. Dewey cringed.
“Not really my best idea, huh?” Huey laughed.
“Not by a long shot, buster.”
“C’mon, boys,” Donald called. “Mrs. B will have supper ready by the time we get back.”