It was almost amusing. Donald Duck was a sailor like no other, not at home unless he was near the sea. Ever since he was a duckling he had been drawn to the water, and Scrooge could remember some particularly heart stopping moments when a toddler Donald had gone waddling off away from them, only to be discovered on the steps of the indoor swimming pool. Scrooge had received some very stern worlds that day.
Almost amusing, though, not actually amusing.
Not when his nephew nearly drowned.
They had been on Gladstone’s recently acquired golden boat, the cousin eagerly showing off this great piece of luck to the boys as they darted around, looking in awe at the Jacuzzi, the slide, the disco room. Scrooge and Donald had opted out of the tour and instead hung around outside in silence, which is how a lot of their alone time went these days, waiting for the trip to be over. It was only meant to be one night.
Then the storm struck, one which even the most experienced of sailors would know not to battle, and they had been left to huddle within the boat. Huey got seasick, leaving him almost permanently in the bathroom with Donald hovering outside. Dewey and Webby kept running off to the windows to watch. Louie convinced Gladstone to make use of the extra time and marathon movies in the cinema room. Scrooge had a headache, a retired to his room for the most of it.
The storm had provided the perfect cover.
Scrooge had not been aware that pirates were still a thing.
There were five of them, all seemingly relatives to the Beagles, which frankly just gave Scrooge even more of a headache. Another lot to add to the ever growing list of sworn enemies.
Having snuck abroad, they proceeded to corner Louie and Gladstone, demanding that the boat was handed over to them, apparently having no qualms against kicking children off a secure vessel and into the pathetic little rowing boat they had been using. In a storm. Scrooge, having stumbled into the situation in search for aspirin, was outraged, and made a clear show of it too. Though the quickly forming migraine may have had something to do with it. Still, he managed to give one of them a black eye.
The five had split up in an attempt to get away from him (and Gladstone, who swung a lucky punch.) Scrooge remembered feeling rather pleased. Good, he liked it when they ran.
Liked it a lot less when they came across Donald still outside the bathroom.
Likeness levels dropped below freezing when the big brute of a Beagle snatched up the surprised duck, holding a knife to his throat.
Using their new threat as leverage, they forced Scrooge, Gladstone and the kids into the row boat, all sneers and smug smiles as they did. The moment Huey was in he had his head over the side of the boat, but he kept nervously glancing at his uncle.
The engine was started, and the large gleaming vessel pulled away.
“They’ll toss him overboard, right?” Louie asked, tugging on Scrooge’s sleeve.
“Aye, it’s likely.”
They didn’t though, getting further away.
“What’s taking so long?” Webby asked, clinging to the bench as they rose and fell with the waves. “Why aren’t they-”
Donald was tossed over the side of the boat.
An anchor attached.
Scrooge had jumped straight into the water, surfacing and making a mad swim over there as fast as his could. But he was not quick enough, his body was older than he cared to admit and the cold temperatures made his bones ache, and by the time he reached roughly the area Donald had been, his nephew had already vanished into the depths.
Scrooge spun around, trying to get his bearings. It must have been around here. It had to have been. Gulping, he went underwater, searching for movement, for the waving of Donald’s jacket in the currents, the shape of the anchor. But soon he had to come up for air.
Gladstone appeared beside him.
“I...I can't find him!”
“Where abouts was he?”
Gladstone sucked in a breath and disappeared beneath the waves, leaving Scrooge swimming around above, head underwater in hopes of spotting Donald. The waves rose high around him, dark and dangerous and threatening to toss him at any moment. The sea churned, rumbling like an engine. It was raining, but it could barely be felt against his sodden feathers.
Gladstone came up, gasping and choking. Distantly there was a scared cry from the boat, which was being pushed closer to them, but Scrooge didn’t pause to check.
“He's over there!” Gladstone spluttered, pointing a little further away before gulping in a breath and diving again. Scrooge treaded water with his head beneath the surface, waiting anxiously until the silhouettes of two ducks appeared out of the gloom. Gladstone spluttered as he surfaced, Donald did not.
The kids were ready with open hands to grab onto Donald, tugging him up onto the boat where he promptly tumbled to the floor, limp. The way Huey stared at his uncle was deeply unnerving.
Gladstone put his head to Donald's chest.
"Anything?" A small voice of a triplet, Scrooge wasn't paying attention as to who, asked.
Scrooge looked at Gladstone.
They started CPR.
On the hospital bed beside him, Donald shifted, his hands grasping at the bedsheets below. Scrooge placed a hand on his shoulder.
Donald groaned quietly, catching the attention of three certain ducklings in the room.
They all but flung themselves at the bed, latching onto their adoptive guardian as if he would disappear at any second. Louie was tearing up. If it was not for the fact that Beakley had collected her niece an hour ago, Scrooge suspected there would have been a fourth child there as well.
Donald blinked his eyes open, staring around groggily. He caught Scrooge’s gaze.
“I knew it, I’m dead.” He croaked, carefully pulling himself up.
“No, but you gave it your best shot.” Scrooge said. “I-”
“Uncle Donald!” Dewey burst in. “You nearly drowned!”
“I did?” Donald broke into a harsh cough, and Huey quickly passed him a cup of water.
“Uh-huh! You got tied up to an anchor!” Louie exclaimed.
“And when Uncle Gladstone got you up, you weren’t breathing!”
“They had to do CPR!”
“On a tiny boat!”
“In a storm!”
“Easy, boys…” Donald ran his hand over each of them, trying to ease their excited but anxious energy. “I can’t follow you if you all talk at once.”
“Yes Uncle Donald.”
Much like Gladstone before him, Scrooge slipped out unnoticed.