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Soft endings

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"I'll take care of you."

 

.

 

Donald smiles, the line thin on his beak. The day takes its toll on his bones, deep and rough, but he doesn't mind all that much. Slowly, he shuts the door to the shared triplets' room. 

 

They don't know so many secrets, so many that not even Webby knows, despite her constant thirst for McDuck knowledge.

 

He won't tell them, not for a while. They're still oblivious to so much with Beakley, with the whole Agent 22 bits and pieces, he isn't about to start introducing them to whatever else invades in his past that doesn't matter. 

 

The latest adventure, though, has come to press down a bit harsher on his mind, though. Things had cut close between Webby and her grandmother, gently putting a strain on their relationship. Donald had to step in once more, unfortunately. 

 

They don't know about all of Donald's adventures, both those with and without Uncle Scrooge and Della. They don't know about his various relationships he's discarded over the years. They have no idea of so much of the trauma he's faced. He even wonders how they would feel to know about the times he's ended up a step away from death, choking down pain and whatever else, surviving on spite alone. It's how he got through life on the moon, after all. 

 

But they don't know about the family secret that only a very select handful of people know about. Scrooge, Della, Gladstone, Fethry, Selene, and Storkules consist of the only others outside of Donald who know, unfortunately. No one else sits at all included. 

 

Back in the mansion, buried where only Scrooge and Donald know is a picture, one of Donald sitting over three eggs, exhausted as his sister beams beside him, accompanied by their uncle and the two gods that have become family. 

 

Donald has a large family now. 

 

It worked by a miracle. Donald became Della's surrogate for the three boys after Della's mental health took more than a few hits at finding her uterus to be too damaged to house the eggs. They were identical and though Donald had no interest in raising his own children, he still ended up doing so, raising his and his own sister's kids. It made for an odd family dynamic, given that they were adopted by Selene and Della (and later Penumbra) though a product of Donald and Storkules. No one knew they weren't Della's though and Donald was fine with that. He knew neither Selene nor Storkules could afford to be parts of the boy's lives either, and it was another thing he learned to be fine with. 

 

It's why he yells to the point he loses his voice after he sees Della once again, slamming her to the ground in an angry tackle, all the years of instilled rage boiling over. The three weren't his, not in a traditional sense, not how he's seen before, yet he raised them all his own with no other. It hurt more than anyone ever knew, being so alone, so lost. 

 

His fingers grip tightly at brown fabric and his voice is certainly indecipherable by the second syllable, but he doesn't care. His speech impediment and voice box damage have both become so grave within the last few years he's seen her…

 

She punches him with a harsh left hook that doesn't hit as hard as it used to and he can't find it in himself to say another word, devolving into sobbing. 

 

He breaks right there and his sister holds him so tight. She listens when he screams at her, even if she can't understand a word. 

 

He's good with nonverbal communication. He always has been, but it was still jarring to realize Della couldn't understand him when they saw each other again. His voice box was so damaged, though, irreversible outside of Gyro's box, which hadn't worked all that long. He still has nightmares about having his voice back that ends with electrotherapy sort of shit. Those dreams always haunt him. 

 

He walks quietly, aware of every single creaky spot in the house. His uncle is still awake, the light on under the door to his office. He swears the man never sleeps, remembering days when they were children and Scrooge would be up the same exact times the two insomniacs were. Gently, his knuckles knock against the wood, so quiet in the dead of the night. It was rare that Donald would be able to get the three boys to sleep so easily, what with Dewey's ADHD, Huey's easy sensory overload during the night, and Louie's anxiety, but he had managed. Della and Penny were both out to visit Selene for the night and Webby was staying with Launchpad to visit Drake and his adopted daughter, the two even managing to snaggle Lena and Violet into going. 

 

"Come in," comes the soft voice of his uncle, as well as the telltale creaks of the floor as he steps. 

 

Donald had probably pulled him out of a fixated task, most likely some form of paperwork or whatever else. He opens the door, finding Scrooge popping his back as he stands behind his large desk, seemingly still in the same clothes he had on today, still smudged from a bit of dirt and other grime on red fabric. 

 

"Have you slept yet," Donald asks quietly, frowning slightly. He knows the answer. 

 

"Have you," comes the reply, though there isn't any bite to it whatsoever. 

 

Donald shakes his head, sighing quietly. He smiles lightly as he watches the other press at his lower back, leaning backward, bones popping accordingly. He wonders how much the man knows, how much more he's seen than the younger of the two. 

 

"I 'ought to see a chiropractor ove' this," he huffs at his nephew, slightly waving his cane at him. "It's early, how'd you get the boys down?" 

 

"Told them about some of the things during my stint in the marines," he says with a smirk, "the boys got bored real quick." 

 

Scrooge snorts softly, despite himself. It isn't often that Donald makes sure they're in bed and asleep nowadays, considering that Dewey's decided to break off from "needing someone to tuck him in" and Huey's been trying to say the same despite himself and Louie still has yet to actually deny needing to be tucked into Donald's face. He knows Louie still needs that, even if it's just a tiny thing, the same way Huey still needs the little thing to solidify his schedule. 

 

"You bor'd them ta sleep?" 

 

Donald nods with a smile. "You need to sleep, too, Unca Scrooge." 

 

There's a moment where the older duck falters, brows slightly furrowing for a moment as a contemplative expression crosses his face. Donald frowns in reply, a brow raising at the other, confused. Scrooge merely smiles in place of that, grinning as he says, "It's been a bit since you've called me that." 

 

Donald realizes what the other means, his own brows furrowing slightly as he realizes that, yeah, he hasn't called him that in years now. Their relationship always was a fragile thing, after all, with Donald hating any and all forms of billionaires and his uncle taking the cake as "richest duck ever" as well as issues they had when Donald first met him. To say the least, everything had been particularly strained after Della decided to be a stubborn mule. 

 

"I'm sorry," Donald says after a moment of silence. It isn't tense, just… occupant, to say the least. "For leaving you after what happened with Della, I mean." He's quick to clarify, fingers lacing together as he peers at the other, whose eyes widen. "I know it was rough and Beakley said you almost drove yourself bankrupt with it, too. I'm sorry for everything I said, too." He remembers every single word, unfortunately. 

 

"Bless me bagpipes, Donald," he says softly, smiling lightly at his nibling as he comes forward, "Don't forget that I also irritated tha' wound, too." 

 

"But-" 

 

"Donald," he stresses suddenly, a hand gently pressing against his shoulder, grounding the younger, who peers up at him with wide eyes and knit brows. "We both made mistakes and said things we regret, it happened. But we've healed tha' now, haven't we?" 

 

He purses his beak, nodding slowly as the other brings him into a tight hug. He still hasn't told Scrooge about his own stint on the moon, the reminder of it mentally jarring for a moment, making him flinch for just a split second. His fingers ball up red fabric as he clings a little tighter to his uncle. 

 

"Maybe we should build another ship to the moon, huh?" 

 

And Donald flinches, again, even harder now and jerking away with a suddenly sharp, "No!"

 

The other frowns, brows furrowing, "We have to get everyone home-"

 

"But we don't belong up there!" 

 

Scrooge's brows furrow thickly as he frowns at the other. He waits just a moment, long enough for Donald himself to frown and pull away, seemingly folding in on himself. He watches the other shift uncomfortably, an apology quickly flowing from his mouth, his hands moving with his words, sign language as an extra precaution in case he isn't being understood. 

 

"Aye, no need to apologize, lad," he says immediately, wanting to place a comforting hand on the other's shoulder but finding it to be the less than the best thing to do here. Instead, he finds himself asking, "Is there any particular reason for that, though?" 

 

Surprisingly, Donald physically shrinks back. Scrooge's eyes widen significantly at watching the nervous ticks he hasn't seen since Donald was a young duckling, confessing in a broken ramble that he preferred the name Donald over anything and the was, in fact, a boy and not a girl like his identical twin. 

 

"Donald," he says in a whisper, concern etched into his features at the way the other seems to only shrink back even more. 

 

"Lunaris always had it out for Della," he admits, "Said he was going to kill you and the boys, said he had."

 

"How do you even?..." 

 

"When Della's ship landed, I - I tried to see if she was in it and got sent to the moon right after." 

 

"I thought you were on a cruise!"  

 

"Well, I obviously wasn't," he said, frowning deeply. The heat behind his words dies instantly, sighing quietly. 

 

"No more rocket ships for you or Della," the older duck decides, gently tapping his cane against the other's hip with a smile. 

 

"Or you, Unca Scrooge," Donald decides with his own smile.

 

"Fine, fine, if that's your terms and conditions?"

 

"It is." 

 

"Then so be it."