It started off like any other “adventure”. Louie was hiding behind a large boulder, cowering for his life from the massive monster currently rampaging around trying to keep Scrooge from the treasure. This was the 5th time this week and Louie’s sanity was holding on by a thread. He didn’t even want to go on this stupid adventure, he was tired of being constantly afraid and running for his life. He only came on these stupid jaunts because he didn’t want to be excluded from his family.
Just then a large crack sounded overhead and Louie watched in abject horror as a large stalagmite started hurtling towards him. Louie’s brain had had enough, after all the stress built up over the week so far, Louie found he could do nothing but stare at his impending doom.
There was a faint cry of “SHARPIE” from his left before suddenly Louie found himself wrapped up in protective arms and relocated to a safer location.
Goldie had been happily ambling along on the way to her latest treasure when the sounds of fighting made her worried for her planned conquest. Picking up her speed she headed towards the sound of combat and kept hidden as she approached closer, hoping against hope it was someone she didn’t know. She cursed her bad luck as she spied Scrooge’s family at the centre of the battle, making a list in her brain of which Gods she had pissed off recently… It was a long list. Goldie sighed and moved her mind back to the scene in front of her, enjoying seeing how the kids had grown. She was just planning her grand entrance when she heard a crack from the ceiling close by and realised that the stalagmite was going to fall on Louie, who seemed to be standing frozen in shock.
Goldie was moving before she even consciously decided to and was pulling Louie into her arms and out of harm’s way before she had time to breathe. She glared down at him, ready to scold him, when she realised he wasn’t looking at her. Instead his head was buried in her shoulder, hands gripping her jacket for all he was worth and his body was shaking all over.
“Hey Sharpie” Goldie spoke gently. “You ok kid?” She listened as Louie’s breathing got faster and her heart dropped. “Louie” Goldie commanded gently as she relocated his head over her chest. “I need you to listen to the sound of my heartbeat ok? Listen to how steady and strong it is. How slow and constant it is. You’re safe kid so just listen to that heartbeat, take nice, slow, deep breathes” She listened as Louie’s breathing evened out and his shaking lessened, but his grip didn’t ease up. If anything his grip tightened as he forced himself as close as he could get.
She looked around and spotted Scrooge towards the head of the creature whilst Della and the other kids were fighting the tail and underbelly. Still carrying the koala Louie she wandered over to Scrooge, side stepping the monsters’ swipes with practised ease.
“Curse me kilts” exclaimed Scrooge when he spotted her, dodging the swing of the creature’s claw, “What are you doing here O’Gilt” He dodged the creature’s jaws and grinned at her from its’ nose. “You usually wait until after the fight to try and steal me treasure”
The challenge in Scrooge’s voice made Goldie want nothing more than to rise to it, but a sudden roar from the beast followed by a yelp and increased shivering from Louie jolted Goldie back into action. “I’m taking Sharpie here home” she called back to Scrooge, face 100% serious as she gestured down at the shivering green hoody in her arms.
“Louie?” Scrooge mumbled as he swung down and around, tying rope around the beast as he went. “Oh is this another one of your mentoring cons” Scrooge grinned. “You’re gonna haveta do…”
“A Stór” Goldie interrupted and Scrooge froze at the nickname. That was the code word, the word only to be used in emergencies demanding unquestioning trust. He took a closer look at the trembling Louie and Goldie’s slightly comforting bounce and he was suddenly thrown back to a different mission all those years ago.
“I’ll see you back at the mansion” He nodded to show he understood and would leave it to her.
“Be sure to bring me back something shiny” Goldie grinned in jest to lighten the mood as she winked and spun around, making a quick exit from the temple with the precious bundle in her arms.
When Louie awoke he was back in his room and snuggled in bed with a sleeping Goldie lying next to him. His movements caused her to stir and she looked down at her pseudo-nephew with a grin.
“How’re you feeling Sharpie?”
Louie blinked and tried to force his mind into working but it was all just fuzzy.
“What happened?” He asked, sitting up and trying to put space between them so as to be better able to hide his feelings from her.
He watched as she shifted herself upright, but the pity he was expecting never came.
“I found you about to get impaled by a stalagmite” she shrugged as if it was an everyday occurrence. “So I saved your life, told Scroogie to bring me back something shiny and took you home”
Louie blinked at her before his brain suddenly cleared and he remembered the complete terror he felt waiting for his doom, the comforting arms that had saved him and the desperation he had clung to her with. Goldie watched as the small duck seemed to curl up even smaller in embarrassment and shame.
“Why can’t I be like everyone else” he mumbled. “What’s wrong with me? My entire family is made out of adventurers who laugh in the face of danger and I just freeze up from one stalagmite” He looked up as a tear trickled down his face. “Why can’t I make my family proud?”
“Oh Sharpie” Goldie sighed as grasped his shoulders to force him to face her. “Just because you are unique in your talents doesn’t make your family any less proud. Do you know how long Scrooge was on the phone to me for after you tricked your way into owning his company? The old sourdough couldn’t stop bragging about how sharp you were and how proud he was of you”
“Really?” Louie whispered, looking so doubtful but yet so hopeful that it would have broken Goldie’s heart if she had one (she doesn’t, there’s just dust in her eyes making them water, that’s it).
Goldie took out her phone and showed Louie the call log displaying a call from Scrooge McDuck (well he assumed it was Scrooge, the ID said ‘Moneybags’). The call was dated the evening of the day after the bet and lasted for a good 2 hours.
“He even said you’d managed to achieve something he was never able to and was therefore going to make an even greater business man than he ever could”
Louie’s eyes stared at her in wonder before the cloud suddenly reappeared and he his gaze dropped.
“Mum doesn’t see it that way at all. She just wants me to be an amazing adventurer like she is”
“Hmmm” Goldie hummed nostalgia, smiling down at Louie. “You know, I was there the very first mission your mum ever went on”
“You were?” He sat up more in enrapt attention, eager to hear stories of his mom’s childhood.
“It wasn’t by design I can tell you that much” chuckled Goldie thinking back. “I was meant to be meeting up with Scrooge to go after the golden hand of Midas, but then he showed up with these two tagalongs. I was not impressed” she admitted and Louie could imagine the earful she gave Scrooge about it afterwards. “But Della and Donald were so excited to finally be going on an adventure with their Uncle Scrooge, and it’s not like I really had a choice, so off we went”
She looked at Louie and smiled at the way he was now sat on his knees, leaning in eagerly to hear what happened next. She could understand why Scrooge proclaimed to love telling his kids all about his adventures.
“The hand was said to be on an enchanted island so we grabbed a ship and set out. We hadn’t gone far when we hit the first sea serpent. The kids were in awe and so excited, until it started tearing the ship apart. Your Uncle Donald fainted and was taken downstairs by a sailor and your mother stood frozen as the serpent tried to eat her. Fortunately I spotted in time and pulled off the same manoeuvre I did with you today”
“You mean, my mother wasn’t always brave?”
“Pfft are you kidding? I can list at least 3 missions after that one where I had to take her home in tears. She got brave because Scrooge finally learnt that if you want to take kids on adventures, you need to train them up first. It’s why ribbon girl is so good at it – she’s had Bentina training her since she was old enough to crawl”
“But Dewey and Huey aren’t scared either” muttered Louie in self-doubt.
“Yes well I don’t know much about your brothers but out of interest how many bones has the blue one broken in his short life thus far?”
“Pfft like 10?” chortled Louie. “He doesn’t have any sense of self-preservation”
“Exactly” smiled Goldie. “He’s not afraid because he doesn’t see the danger he’s in. Not a particularly good trait to have but there are some advantages I suppose”
Louie nodded in agreement. “What about Huey?”
“Well from what I can tell the red one seems to be a complete nerd, only interested in studying everything he sees. Again, things appear less dangerous if you’re focussed on making it into a story. That and I imagine his little club thing will have helped prepare him for adventure”
“The Woodchucks? Well yea I guess that has taught him a number of survival skills…” Louie thought about it. “So what you’re saying is I’m just lacking in training yet see all the angles that lead to our death and that’s why I freeze?”
“Pretty much” Goldie shrugged. “But it won’t always affect you the way it does now, as long as you don’t push yourself too hard. You could always skip some adventures you know”
“But I want to be with my family, I don’t want to let them down and be an outcast”
Suddenly Louie was scooped up into his mother’s arms as Della came barrelling into the room.
“Oh honey is that what you think? Just because we have differing interests and talents won’t ever stop us being family. I love all 3 of you so very much, you are everything to me and that is never going to change. I am so, so proud of the young duck you’ve grown into and I can’t wait to see the young man you become”
“Thanks mum” Louie mumbled as he hugged her back.
Scrooge wandered over at that point and ruffled Louie’s head “Why don’t you go grab something to eat lad and we’ll find a way to make sure we don’t put you in this horrible position going forward” he smiled.
Louie gave his mum one last big hug, followed by Scrooge and then looked over at Goldie who was starting to fidget in place. He launched himself at her before she could react. “Thanks Aunt Goldie” he mumbled into her waist. She hesitantly ruffled his hair as
Scrooge had before smiling “Don’t mention it Sharpie. Like, ever” He grinned up at her before hopping off the bed and wandering off to find his brothers.
As Scrooge had guessed, the moment Louie wandered out the door Della’s eyes swam with tears before she also threw herself at a completely unsuspecting Goldie.
“I’m a terrible mother” she wailed. Goldie looked at Scrooge in abject horror as she awkwardly patted Della’s back. She hadn’t comforted the girl in 20 years but apparently habits die hard and before long Goldie was threading her fingers through Della’s hair as she soothed the young woman, just as she had decades earlier.
“That’s nonsense” Scrooge stated as he sat on Della’s other side and stroked her back calmingly. “You may not be a perfect parent but spoiler alert – no one ever is lass” he soothed.
“Not even your dear old uncle moneybags” jabbed Goldie, hastily looking to lighten the mood.
“Says you, you treacherous devil. I was the embodiment of flawless fatherhood”
“Mhm” grinned devilishly. “So flawless that you left your two kids huddled under a teetering boulder as you taunted an ogre”
“Well...” Scrooge tried to argue bashfully before realising where the cunning lady was going with this, given that his niece had now quietened and was clearly hanging on the response. “I guess I didn’t get everything perfect but I think I did an alright job as stand in parent, right Della?” he nudged.
Della shot up with fire in her eyes “Of course” she decreed. “Uncle Scrooge you were the best substitute father a kid could ask for, we never cared whether you were perfect. You loved us and that’s all we needed”
“Exactly” smiled Scrooge. “And that’s all your boys need as well. Yes there are always changes to be made but it takes time to learn these things. Goodness I’m still making the same mistakes I made with you kids but the point is you and I are not alone. We have a whole network of family to figure it out and help us learn. So enough with the pity party, you’ve got everything you need to be a great mother. A heart so large it could swallow the earth and moon”
“Thanks Uncle Scrooge” Della gave him a tight hug before turning to the quiet woman beside her. “Thanks for always being here when we need you” she whispered to Goldie as she hugged her too before following her son downstairs.
Goldie coughed before turning to Scrooge and adopting a carefree attitude to hide the past hour. “So, what’d you bring me? It had better be shiny” She demanded casually.
Scrooge, not quite ready to put this behind them just yet, just sat there are grinned at her but with a softness in his eyes that Goldie hated.
“Nope” she demanded when he refused to say anything. “Stop with the googoo eyes. I didn’t do anything that deserves your mush, so stop it you old codger. I only did it for the treasure so hand it over so I can be on my way”
“Ah stop your haverin, you’re nae fooling anyone with that poppycock” he grinned. “You’re as soft as a cuddly bear O’Gilt” he paused to grab her hands and drop the teasing smirk, turning serious he added quietly “And I am forever in your debt for it”
“I was hardly going to let the kid die Scrooge” she shrugged, still trying to brush it off. “I’m not a total monster”
Scrooge surged forward and kissed her before pulling and back and muttering “you aren’t any kind of monster lass” he squeezed her hands and walked to the door as she sat there in shock. “Now why don’t you come join us for dinner, you must be hungry after that nap” he winked and then he was gone.
It took Goldie all of 5 minutes to realise that he was referring to when she’d dozed off with Louie (she blamed the delay on her shock) and that the wink implied more than just he’d been told about it…
“Bentina” she growled before charging after Scrooge. “Scrooge McDuck you delete that photo this instant”