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DuckTales one-shots

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Della had rigged the TV after much sweat, hard labor, and obscenities. At first, she’d been reluctant to swear, as if someone might hear her. Then she realized, with no small amount of grief, that she had best get used to her own voice, as it was the only one she’d be hearing for an indeterminate amount of time. Time had a different meaning on the moon and she was shocked she’d gotten the TV working, considering she appeared to be on the dark side of the moon. All in all, it had taken the better part of two weeks to rig it and she might have salvaged parts from the ship that she could have used to get home.

 

“Could have” being the opportune words there. With the way the Spear had crashed, she was lucky she hadn’t been killed. Of course, luck was a matter of opinion. As the days wore on and became weeks and months, she began to wonder about that stroke of “luck”. She began to wonder whether she was not cursed instead, cursed to die alone, miserable and away from her babies and family. At least if she’d perished when the ship crashed, she would’ve died quickly. This was death by attrition and it was awful.

 

But the TV provided some modicum of comfort. Granted, the signals were erratic and she could never predict how well a channel would come in on any given day. Sometimes, she was stuck with Spanish soaps. The worst part was she was so bored that she’d watched them anyway and had almost gotten caught up with the storyline when that channel went out and was replaced by CNN.

 

Then there was the time that she’d gotten stuck watching nothing but sports for an entire month. In German. It seemed like her TV antennae caught all broadcasts, regardless of the language or point of origin. She had missed her Spanish soaps by the time that month was up.

 

Of the two books that she’d brought with her, one was the Spear’s operation manual. Ha. She bet Gyro would never have thought she’d read that. But since it was that or watch Germans grow wildly enthusiastic about soccer, she decided she’d rather read technical mumbo-jumbo. Maybe she’d learn something about how to rescue herself.

 

She didn’t.

 

The second book was sentimental and she would’ve felt stupid about bringing it if there was anyone around to feel stupid with. Alas, no matter how much she yelled at the TV or at herself, no one answered.

 

In time, she found herself holding conversations with herself or pretending to talk to Donald or Uncle Scrooge. Once, she’d even pretended to talk to her sons. She wasn’t sure how old they were now; as she’d mentioned, the time had little meaning. She wasn’t even sure months had passed, to be honest. It could’ve been a time loop or she was stuck in stasis. Hell if she knew.

 

She’d seen the major news events while stuck on the moon, although her disconnect from them grew more and more apparent. She started to feel like she wasn’t inhabiting her body, but instead, was watching it from outside herself. The strange disassociation helped her cope with the days without contact, though it also scared her badly. She feared she was losing her mind.

 

With an effort, she’d managed to secure herself in the present. She couldn’t always tether herself to her body, but it was a start.

 

Then the fateful day had come and the broadcast aired and she’d seen her sons for the first time. There was also a girl there, although the doctor had told her she’d have three boys, not three boys and a girl. She didn’t know who the girl was and the newscaster hadn’t elaborated. But they were her boys. She had no doubt about that.

 

From then on, her determination grew. She’d languished long enough on the moon. She needed to get back to her babies before even more time had passed.

 

How had the time gone so quickly? She didn’t remember, but then again, the days had blurred together. Perhaps it had been over a decade. She couldn’t tell. She cursed to herself and then laughed. Obscenities had little meaning now.

 

She was done waiting for rescue. No one was coming for her. She’d have to come for them instead.

 

Somehow, she’d salvage the Spear of Selene and return to Earth and her children. Soon. (Even if she wasn’t entirely sure how she would, she’d manage it. Because death by attrition was no way to live).

Chapter Text

 

Dewey might call her his best friend, but that title felt hollow to her. She’d kept her feelings to herself, where they couldn’t hurt anyone, especially not him. So she let him think that everything was okay and she’d miraculously recovered from discovering her best friend was an enemy shadow spy and then sacrificed herself for Webby’s sake. She kept it all tamped down where it could only hurt herself.

 

It was a skill she thought she’d done well after losing her parents. The triplets had spent so much time worrying about what had happened to Della that no one bothered to ask her about her parents. Not that she would have answered. She would have brushed them off and pushed them back on the path for Della.

 

As always, when she had a moment to breathe and no one was bothering her, she closed and locked her door and stared at the friendship bracelet she’d made. If she concentrated, she could almost feel Lena, but that was ridiculous. Lena was dead. Webby huddled on her bed and hugged her knees. Lena was dead and she was pretending everything was all right.

 

Nothing was all right.

 

Knowing no one could hear her, she gave vent to her misery. Tears streaked her cheeks and she sobbed, missing Lena so powerfully that if her tears could bring her back, she would’ve cried an ocean’s worth. The boys didn’t get it. They wouldn’t get it. She didn’t want them to know what she was suffering.

 

For she didn’t know how long, she cried, curled into a ball and sobbing until she ran out of tears. She’d given herself a headache. She wasn’t sure, at first, that the pounding on her door came from the headache or was outside of herself. Swallowing past the lump in her throat, she reached for a glass of water and hissed as the pounding continued.

 

“Webby!”

 

No, that wasn’t in her head. Webby grabbed the glass of water and drank it, attempting to alleviate the headache and dehydration she’d given herself. The knocking continued and she feared it might until she answered the door. Wiping her face and trying to conceal her emotions as best she could, she hopped off her bed and headed for the door.

 

“Webby?”

 

The triplets were standing outside her door and though she knew she’d wiped her face and done her utmost to appear composed, she wasn’t fooling them. She glanced at the clock; wasn’t this late for them? They were usually watching TV now and not paying any attention to her. Why were they here?

 

“Are you okay?” Dewey asked.

 

Webby wanted to respond, but her throat was too tight. She nodded and the boys wrapped her up in a tight hug.

 

“It’s okay not to be okay,” Huey said. “You don’t have to lie to us to make us feel better. It’s okay to miss her.”

 

“No, it’s not,” she said, feeling like they were patronizing her. She tried to push away from them, but they clung to her. A sob crept up her throat and she swallowed it back with an effort. She would not cry in front of them. She was strong. She was invicible. She was Webbigail Vanderquack and she didn’t cry.

 

“We miss our mom,” Louie said softly and she turned to look at him. “We didn’t know her, but we miss her. And what you went through was a lot worse, because you actually knew Lena.”

 

“I thought I did…” she muttered and Dewey rubbed her back.

 

“She cared about you too,” Huey said. “How long have you been hiding this from us?”

 

“Since she died…” she muttered. Out of the corner of her eye, she thought her shadow was moving oddly, but it could’ve been an apparition from crying so hard.

 

Though she didn’t trust herself enough to cry in front of them, she let them hug her. It wasn’t the same, but...they were family. They were family and maybe she owed them more than she’d been giving them. But it was hard to let down her barriers when she’d kept them up for so long.

 

“You know, if you’re missing her, you can come to us,” Dewey offered.

 

Webby nodded, though she had no intention of following through on that. “Thanks, guys.”

 

“We care about you too, you know,” Huey said.

 

“I know,” she said. And maybe, some day, she’d be able to take them up on that offer. But not today. Today, she’d pretend to let them think this was the worst of it. And maybe she’d be able to cope for another day. A day at a time.

Chapter Text

It was hate sex. That was all it was. If Mrs. Beakley thought of it as that, then everything else fell into place. She needn’t tell anyone, particularly her employer. At the moment, with a pounding headache, she could scarcely look herself in the mirror, let alone face anyone else. She considered taking the day off and staying in her room until she could make sense of what she’d done last night. Unfortunately, she didn’t have that luxury.

 

Groaning, she considered giving herself a stern reprimand, but she didn’t think that’d help. She didn’t need to explain herself to anyone; the only other adult in this household she could remotely be said to confide in was her employer and she had no intention of telling him. The children didn’t need to know, even if they’d understood, which they were too young to comprehend. Oh, please let them be too young to understand.

 

Scrubbing her hand along her face, she allowed herself the luxury of cursing. Then she set about her daily ablutions. She would not think about what she’d done last night.

 


 

 

If Scrooge noticed his bodyguard/housekeeper being preoccupied, he had his own worries. While he couldn’t say he hated Goldie, far from it, he also couldn’t in good conscience explain her presence at the breakfast today. She was smug, too, looking like a cat that had gotten into the cream as she settled herself, wearing his robe, at the table. Donald took one look at her, squawked, and fled. He knew what was involved.

 

Maybe the kids wouldn’t notice. Webby was preoccupied with a book and the boys...were staring right at him.

 

“What is it?” he asked, suppressing a sigh.

 

“So...you two were busy last night,” Louie said and smirked.

 

“It seems I’m not the only one who made poor choices last night,” Mrs. Beakley muttered in his ear and Scrooge jerked, glowering at her.

 

“What the blazes is that supposed to mean?!” he demanded.

 

“Oh, nothing, nothing,” she said, looking oddly smug too. Heaven save him from satisfied females. Goldie chose that moment to look up and smirk back at Bentina. Scrooge wanted to bang his head into the table.

 

“Whatever you think happened--” Scrooge started, indignant.

 

Webby looked up from her book, stared at Scrooge and Goldie, and her frown deepened. She wasn’t exactly Goldie’s biggest fan after the woman had locked her and her grandmother up in a cabinet.

 

“Don’t say it,” Scrooge snapped. “I dinnae wanna hear it.”

 

“Ooh...is she your new old girlfriend?” Huey teased.

 

“When are you two getting married?” Dewey teased.

 

“Oh, right about when he gives me his fortune,” Goldie said, unperturbed. “Although, maybe last night is enough to convince me otherwise. Maybe.”

 

Scrooge went scarlet beneath his white feathers and Goldie hummed. It wasn’t just any tune, of course. It was what he’d been singing last night and if he got any hotter, he’d be a roast duck. He was going to wring her neck. The worst part was that this was a completely inappropriate time to be doing that, in front of the children, not to mention Beakley. And he couldn’t call her out on it because then he’d have to explain why she was doing this in the first place.

 

“Ooh, so what were you two up to last night?” Huey asked in that same mocking tone.

 

“Judging by the fact that Goldie’s wearing Uncle Scrooge’s robe…” Webby started and Mrs. Beakley shoved breakfast on the table in front of her granddaughter.

 

“No speculation at breakfast!” she snapped. Scrooge’s heart, which had stopped at Webby’s sentence, restarted. Oh, he was too old for this. And of course, leave it to Beakley to have explained to her precocious granddaughter all about sex.

 

“Huh...you’re right,” Louie said. “She is wearing Uncle Scrooge’s robe. That begs the question of where her clothes are.”

 

Goldie glanced over at him and she was grinning wickedly.

 

“Don’t. You. Dare,” he snapped.

 

“What? The boy asked a question. I hardly think it’s polite to refuse to answer,” Goldie said innocently. Well, feigned innocence, because that woman hadn’t been innocent the day she’d hatched.

 

“Goldie…” he growled.

 

“They are in the wash,” Mrs. Beakley huffed. “Now, enough of this. Eat your breakfast, all of you.”


She gave Scrooge a dirty look and, to his consternation, he found himself bristling.

 

“As though you have a leg to stand on! Where were you last night, Beakley?” he snapped at her.

 

“Wait...what’s going on?” Dewey said, frowning. “What happened after we went to sleep? And why did Uncle Donald flee the room?”

 

“It hardly matters where I was,” Mrs. Beakley retorted. “All that matters is that I arrived here in time to prepare breakfast and get you ready for your daily activities.”

 

“This is getting weird…” Webby said. “Where were you last night, Granny?”

 

Scrooge scrutinized Beakley and the source of her vexation grew apparent.

 

“Hypocrite!” he announced.

 

“I am not having this conversation with you in front of the children!” Beakley shot back.

 

“Oh, no, go on,” Goldie said, leaning forward. “This is much more entertaining than food.”

 

“Just eat!” Mrs. Beakley pleaded and, startled into silence, the children obeyed. Goldie remained still, watching his housekeeper and Scrooge with a smirk. Ack, the worst part of it was it was hard to be that irritated with Goldie considering what they’d done last night. He should’ve known better than to let her stay, however. The boys were bound to start asking questions again soon.

 

He cast a quick glance at Webby, whose head was down as if her food required her full concentration. Of course, Webby already knew.

 

“I’ll eat,” Goldie promised with a scintillating smile. “I’ll need energy for later. I was impressed with your stamina earlier.”

 

“Stamina?” Louie said, stopping. “Stamina for...oh, no. Oh, no, no, no. I did not want to think about that. Old people are so gross!”

 

“Think about what?” Dewey said, baffled, looking at his younger brother.

 

“Trust me, you don’t want to know,” Louie said.

 

“Enough!” Scrooge said. “Everyone, eat! And stop looking at me like you want to eat me, Goldie!”

 

“Well, if you insist…” Goldie said with a smirk. “But you’ll have to return the favor later.”

 

Scrooge choked on his eggs and she grinned, sipping her orange juice with nary a care in the world. Mrs. Beakley huffed, scarfing down food, perhaps in a vain attempt to escape. The kids were doing likewise, at least the ones who’d figured it out. Dewey still looked confused and Scrooge had no intention of informing him about this. If he didn’t know, then it was Donald’s job, not his.

 

“All right,” Mrs. Beakley said once she’d finished. “Let us never speak of this breakfast again.”

 

“Way ahead of you,” Louie said. “I’m going to stare at my phone until they invent brain bleach.”

 

“And I’m going to stare at the Junior Woodchuck Guidebook until the world makes sense again,” Huey said.

 

“Good luck with that,” Goldie said and Scrooge growled at her. She shrugged.

 

Webby gathered up her book and didn’t speak, which struck Scrooge as both fortuitous and suspicious. He’d deal with it later. He’d deal with all of this later.

 

Although he really did want to take Goldie up on her offer…

 

Mrs. Beakley snapped a newspaper at his head and he rolled his eyes at her. Yes, yes, he got it. He and Goldie left with Goldie wrapping an arm about Scrooge’s waist. She was right, though. Breakfast should provide good energy for later...activities.

 


 

“I told you not to go out last night,” Duckworth said as Mrs. Beakley scrubbed the breakfast dishes.

 

“Shut up,” she snapped. “Don’t you have somewhere else to be?”

 

“Oh, no,” he reassured her. “I’m perfectly content rubbing it in.”

 

“Like you never made a mistake in your life,” she retorted.

 

“I hardly think sleeping with the enemy is a trifle.”

 

She waved the dish rag at his head and muttered under her breath. Duckworth smirked, which was the last straw. She flung the dish rag through his head, which she knew he hated, and then sprayed the kitchen sink hose at him until he disappeared. He’d be back, though. He’d never miss a chance to rub it in.

 

What was she going to do? Well, aside from the obvious, which was pretend it had never happened. Somehow, considering the breakfast debacle, she thought that might not work out as she’d planned. Damn her libido.

 

At least her mistake wasn’t still hanging around the manor. That was a blessing, for now. She fully anticipated her to return. And when she did, Mrs. Beakley could only hope that the kids were either out or too well distracted to notice.

 

Curse her life.

Chapter Text

 

Webby was afraid that if she went back to sleep, the nightmare would continue. Shuddering, she crept out of her room and into the boys’ room. It wasn’t hard to find Dewey’s bunk and she crawled in beside him. She was still shaking, the nightmare holding her tightly in its grip, and she wasn’t sure she’d wake him by snuggling up against him. She wasn’t sure it mattered.

 

“Webby?” Dewey said sleepily. “This is our room…”

 

“I know, I know,” she said. “I couldn’t sleep, okay?”

 

“What’s the matter?”

 

His voice was still logy and she winced, feeling bad for having stirred him. Not bad enough to leave, mind you, but bad nonetheless. It was the first time she’d dared come into the boys’ room over a nightmare. Normally, she stayed in her room and rode it out, but there was something about that last dream that had her unnerved.

 

Dewey threw the blanket over her too. There was just barely enough room for both of them in his bunk and she could feel his eyes searching hers in the darkness. She hadn’t answered him and she felt the other two boys stirring. Maybe this had been a mistake. Maybe she’d have been better off staying in her room and reading until the nightmare’s effects passed.

 

“Webs?” Louie murmured.

 

“Sorry, sorry, I’ll just--” she tried to move away, but Dewey hugged her. She shivered in his arms and resigned herself to having to repeat the nightmare. Somehow, she’d thought if she just came in here, she’d be able to escape questioning. In her mind, she’d thought they’d stay asleep and she’d be able to relax and not have the nightmare continue in peace.

 

“It must’ve been bad, for you to come in here,” Huey said from the top bunk.

 

“I dreamt about Lena,” Webby admitted. She’d not allowed the boys to glimpse most of her grieving. As far as they knew, she was over it, as much as it was possible to be over your best friend betraying you and then perishing to keep her aunt from murdering you. Come to think of it, maybe it wasn’t that surprising she wasn’t over this.

 

“You never talk about her,” Huey said.

 

“I don’t want to,” Webby said and her voice was tight. She closed her eyes and swallowed back tears. Dewey rested his forehead against hers and she drew a deep, bracing breath. She’d felt a kinship with Dewey from the beginning. They were somewhat similar in how they approached new information and sought to unravel mysteries. Besides, climbing over the bottom bunk was easier than climbing up both bunks to reach Huey, with whom she considered herself closer than Louie, but not as close as Dewey.

 

“What was the nightmare about?” Louie asked and it sounded like he’d resigned himself to not sleeping tonight.

 

“I dreamt she wasn’t a shadow,” Webby whispered, barely audible to herself. “I dreamt she was real and Magica, instead of using her scepter to eradicate her, slit her throat.”

 

“That’s...intense,” Huey said.

 

“I...I have intense nightmares,” she admitted, wishing she could pull away. As if Dewey had perceived her thoughts, he pulled her closer. She was shaking again and he stroked her hair. This was her family. They were supposed to be there for her. She was supposed to let them be there for her.

 

“You’re not kidding,” Louie said. “Why would you dream about that ?”

 

Webby’s voice was so low she was mouthing the words now. “My parents.”

 

“What?” Huey said. Despite being above her, he hadn’t heard her.

 

“Your parents?” Dewey repeated. “You never talk about them.”

 

“I kinda assumed you didn’t want to,” Louie added. “You helped us try to figure out what happened to Mom, but you never talked about your parents.”

 

“They were spies and they got caught. Grandma’s cover was blown and...I ended up here.”

 

She was shaking harder and Dewey brushed his fingers along her cheek.

 

“Hey, hey,” he soothed. “It’s okay.”

 

“Sorry,” she said, swallowing past a lump in her throat. She struggled against Dewey’s embrace, not hard enough to really break it, though. It was more like token resistance. She knew she ought to let the matter drop, but she had never spoken about this with anyone. Her grandmother didn’t like to talk about it and Mr. McDuck didn’t know about it, at least not all the details.

 

“Did what happened to Lena in your dream happen to your parents?” Louie asked.

 

“I don’t know. Granny wouldn’t tell me. But I kinda have a strong imagination.”

 

“Didn’t notice,” Louie muttered and Dewey aimed a kick below him at his younger brother. He missed and thumped his leg against the side of the bed.

 

“Ow…” Dewey muttered.

 

“I was afraid if I stayed in my room, the dream would keep going,” Webby admitted.

 

“I’ve had dreams like that,” Huey admitted. “You can stay as long as you want.”

 

“Thanks, guys,” she murmured, grateful they hadn’t asked any further questions. She relaxed in Dewey’s arms and hugged him back.

 

“Hey, Webs?” Louie called up.

 

“Yeah?” she said, sensing the other two heading back to sleep.

 

“If you ever wanna talk...we’ll listen. I mean it. We’re family, right?”

 

As he said this, she thought both of Scrooge telling her that she wasn’t family and then telling her that she and Dewey were family during that strange event where they’d been shrunken down during Family Game Night. She didn’t know what to believe with him. Nonetheless, she nodded. Maybe she wasn’t entirely family with Scrooge, but she was with the boys.

 

“Right,” she said.


“Night, Webs.”

 

“Night, Louie. Night, Huey. Night, Dewey.”

 

“Night,” Huey and Dewey yawned.

 

She clenched her eyes shut and prayed that the image of Lena’s throat bleeding profusely didn’t come back to haunt her. When she was younger, she’d imagine all the ways that her parents could have died. She’d never told her grandmother, for fear she’d alarm her. So she kept it all to herself and only freaked herself out. That seemed fair, somehow.

 

Maybe it wasn’t healthy, but then again, Webby hadn’t had the most normal upbringing anyway.

 

Dewey was stroking her hair in his sleep and she smiled. Maybe this was a chance to start again. Maybe this time...she wouldn’t lose anyone she cared about. She let her forehead rest against Dewey’s and smiled.

 

“G’night, Mom and Dad…” she whispered and fell into a dreamless sleep.





Chapter Text

Three little ducks in a row. Webby’s bed was small and narrow, which meant that they’d had to steal a guest bed to lie side by side. Webby was in the middle, with Lena on her left and Violet on her right. They were all holding hands and Lena luxuriated in the fact she could hold hands, that she had a physical body again. She’d never properly appreciated it.

 

They were supposed to be doing meditation or something like it, but Lena had tuned out that noise a while ago. Instead, she studied Webby’s face with her eyes closed. Looking at her made her chest ache. She still remembered how she’d felt at the idea that Violet could steal Webby away and that she might lose the only friend she’d ever had. Webby had cared for her because of who she was, not what she was. She was the first person Lena had ever met to do so.

 

Lena’s feelings on Violet were less clear. She didn’t hate the sabrewing as she had before, but she wasn’t as enamored with her as Webby was. She had Violet to thank for possessing a physical body again, Violet and Webby. It was almost fitting, in that Lena had lost even her shadow self from Magica in an effort to protect Webby. She didn’t even know if it’d helped. She’d been lost in nothingness for a while before assuming Webby’s shadow.

 

Clearly, Duckburg had returned to normal, as she’d seen in the three months that she’d been Webby’s tail. Magica was conspicuously absent, which struck Lena as unsettling, but she didn’t care about that right now. She didn’t have Magica on her back (literally) and she was holding Webby’s hand while the girl continued her guided meditation. She was talking about calm waters and a beach and affection for her swamped Lena.

 

Webby was hers. She was hers and she could keep her. Well, hers and Violet’s. She’d have to learn to share her, which didn’t exactly thrill Lena, but whatever. It was a small price to pay to be able to touch and feel again. To be alive again.

 

“You know, you’re supposed to keep your eyes closed,” Violet scolded and Lena huffed at her.

 

“How do you know if I have them open?” she countered.

 

“I can feel you staring.”

 

“I’m not staring at you.”

 

Webby sat up, stopping mid-sentence, and noticed that although she was holding hands normally with Violet, Lena had interlaced her fingers with Webby’s. Webby pulled her hand away, which sent a pang through Lena’s chest, and then a softer one when Webby cupped Lena’s face in her hand.

 

“I was never going to forget about you, you beautiful idiot,” Webby said softly. “Why were you so scared?”

 

Lena opened her beak to respond and then spied Violet. Violet opened her eyes to regard them both and Lena’s throat was tight. That was another reason she was uneasy about the other girl. Violet was shrewd and intelligent, more of a match for Webby than Lena was. And maybe Violet made Lena feel the tiniest bit insecure.

 

“Lena?” Webby prodded.

 

“It’s nothing,” Lena lied.

 

“It’s not ‘nothing’,” Violet huffed. “You conjured up a bunch of malevolent spirits because you were afraid of losing her. You tried to keep her for yourself because you were afraid if you didn’t, you’d lose her forever.”

 

Lena didn’t curse Violet out, though she wanted to. She also wanted to flip her off, but for Webby’s sake, refrained.

 

“Okay, fine, I was worried,” Lena admitted. She might as well come out with it since Violet was forcing the issue. “I thought with Violet here, your new ‘soulmate’, you’d move on. I mean, she’s perfect for you. She’s a nerd, she’s lived a sheltered life, she’s meddling with things she doesn’t understand, and she doesn’t have an evil hag on her back. She’s probably way better than me.”

 

“Okay, one, I can’t help having things in common with Webbigail,” Violet said and Lena interjected.

 

“That’s another thing. Why are you calling her by her full name? That’s weird. No one calls her Webbigail.”

 

“You’re nitpicking,” Violet said sharply.

 

“Am I? Am I really?” Lena countered.

 

“And in response to your comments, just because Webby and I are alike doesn’t mean that she’d forget about you. You’re her first true friend. You sacrificed yourself for her. How could anyone ever forget about that?” Violet said. She looked like she wanted to add something else, perhaps something less than flattering, but clamped her beak shut on it. Lena was grateful. She didn’t need any more snippiness.

 

“Exactly,” Webby said. She was still cupping Lena’s cheek and Lena blushed.

 

“I love you. I love both of you. Who says I have to choose? I don’t think I do. I want to keep both of you and I will,” Webby said. “It’s like making me choose between the triplets. They’re all my brothers.”

 

Lena rolled her eyes. One or two of said triplets weren’t necessarily feeling brotherly toward her, but she wasn’t about to bring that up right now. Heaven knew Webby was normally oblivious to that sort of thing.

 

“Besides, why would you want me to reject you?” Webby pressed and leaned her forehead against Lena’s. “I could never do that.”

 

My self-esteem, for one thing, Lena thought. Or lack thereof thanks to “Aunt” Magica.

 

Violet surprised her then. She released Webby’s hand and hugged Lena. Lena, whose only source of hugs before had been Webby and then, before her, no one, was stunned. Violet looked up at her, because, of course, all of Webby’s associates were younger than Lena or whatever age counted for in the shadow realm.

 

“If Webbigail likes you, then I guess I have to too, don’t I?” Violet said and smiled at her. “We’ll make it work, Lena.”

 

“Let’s do something else,” Webby suggested. “We’ve been lying on that bed for ages. I know! Let’s play board games!”

 

Then, bounding off with excess energy, Webby sprang into action and out the door. Lena watched her with bemusement and Violet released her. She turned to the younger girl.

 

“You don’t have to be afraid, you know.”

 

“I’m not afraid,” Lena scoffed.

 

“Yes, you are,” Violet said, implacable. “But you don’t have to be. We can be friends too. It’ll all work out, as long as you stop being so darn stubborn. Now, c’ mon, before Webby gets ahead of herself and buries herself in board games.”

 

Lena’s beak twitched. “You said ‘Webby’.”

 

Violet smiled. “I did, didn’t I?”

 

She offered her hand to Lena and Lena took it. It felt weird and unnatural compared to holding hands with Webby, which was as effortless as breathing, but...maybe she could work with this too. Maybe things weren’t as dire as she was used to them being. After all, Magica was gone and she could breathe again. Magica didn’t know she’d returned and she didn’t need to know. Maybe, for once in her life, Lena could just be a kid.

 

She thought she might enjoy that.

Chapter Text

She was cold. She hated the shadow realm more than anything, although perhaps not more than her "aunt" Magica. Even if she was attached to Webby, at least she was free from Magica's condemnation. it was a sad, lonely existence if you could even call it an existence, but it was better in some ways than what she'd endured before. Jeez, her life was pathetic.

Webby had no idea she was there. Of course, she didn't. She'd proceeded on with her life in that way that some people had, where they weren't utterly devastated by the loss. Webby had been trying for three months to resurrect Lena, but she'd not been moping about the manor or sticking to herself. In all respects, Webby had acted almost normal around the triplets and the adults. Only when she was in private did she let herself grieve.

And that hurt, because Lena wanted to tell Webby that she was right there, that she would never leave her, but Webby could not hear her. No matter what Lena tried, no matter how much she screamed, Webby was oblivious. Lena had taken to cursing when she could get away with it, seeing as no one had any clue what she was about.

Well, anyone except Duckworth. Duckworth, it seemed, could tell she was there, even if he wasn't quite sure what she was. She was a phantom even to a ghost, which had to be a new low. Whatever he thought she was, he hadn't told Webby, which Lena considered a jerk move. Not that she could do or say anything about it because, hey, basically a giant NPC here. Not even an NPC. The shadow person you were in WoW when you were running toward your body. That was what she was.

She hated it here. So much. And she was always cold because there was no warmth in the shadow realm. There wasn't much of anything here, to be honest. When she wasn't trailing Webby, she was free to wander, but there was no point in it.

God, it was exactly like running toward your body in WoW, except your body wasn't there and you could never be revived.

Being alone with her thoughts was torture in its own way. She realized to her horror that the feelings she'd had toward Webby had evolved and she was falling in love with her. It was funny because now that Lena no longer had Magica literally attached to her, she couldn't do anything about how she felt. She was utterly powerless to act. Magica would have loved the delicious irony.

She watched Webby and Dewey with agonizing jealousy. She hated Dewey, not because of anything he'd done, but because of how close he was to Webby. Because he could touch her whenever he wanted and talk to her. Because he existed and Lena didn't. Lena felt tears well up again and stifled them. She was not going to cry. She was not going to capitulate to this. Not again. It wasn't that anyone could hear her, because they couldn't, but because every time she cried, she heard Magica berating her.

Man, that sorceress had left Lena with a few nasty mental scars.

When Flintheart Glomgold had nearly drowned Webby, Lena hated her position even more. She wanted to kill that disgusting man with her bare hands. She wanted to wring his neck and then, when he came up for air, she wanted to drown him until he choked on water. She wanted him dead so badly that it haunted her for days. Lena didn't know what would become of her if Webby died, not that it mattered there either because Lena was, for all intents and purposes, basically dead anyway. But she loved Webby so much that the idea of a world without her, even if it was a world without Lena, was unbearable.

She was thankful to Louie for rescuing Webby, even if it shouldn't have been necessary. Even if Glomgold shouldn't have been such a humongous wad and shouldn't have thrown her overboard in the first place. The only good thing about this was that hatred warmed her...but it also disgusted her once she realized she was acting just like Magica. Magica would have wanted her to loathe Glomgold too.

So Lena, albeit reluctantly, gave up on her grudge. She would still hate Glomgold, but not with the same fiery passion she had before.

When Della returned, after Lena had gotten over the whole "who is this strange person and why is Webby acting like a giant fangirl" moment, things had sort of settled into another weird pattern. Webby was being excluded from the whole family dynamic. Not by the boys, mind you, but by Della. Lena had come to think of Webby as the unofficial fourth nephew. Della treating Webby like an afterthought at best grated Lena and she wished she could give the woman a piece of her mind.

Then again, Della was already doing better at parenting than Magica ever could because Della cared enough to try. Magica had never had the patience for anything but her own schemes.

Webby was lonely, thinking of her parents, and in her nightly ramblings to Lena, she confessed that she was jealous of the triplets for having had their mother back. It was impossible for her parents to return, seeing as they had perished in a FOWL related incident.

Webby liked rambling at her friendship bracelet and pretending Lena could hear. Lena liked hearing Webby's voice, even if she couldn't respond to anything she said. Webby cried for the first time in nearly three months talking about her parents, which seemed to be a taboo subject regardless, and Lena broke down too. She hated seeing her best friend this upset and knowing there was nothing she could do about it.

She wasn't expecting Webby to work miracles or bring Lena back from the shadow realm. As pathetic as it was, Lena had almost gotten used to being a phantom of a phantom. She couldn't say she entirely liked it, but it wasn't as bad as it could've been. And, in some ways, it was an improvement.

"Webby, I love you," she whispered when the girl finally turned off the lights and climbed into bed. Although Webby couldn't hear her, she imagined that the younger girl had smiled at the sentiment.

Lena had no need for sleep since she wasn't technically alive. And for once, she was glad that Webby couldn't hear her now...because, also for the first time in months, Lena too capitulated to her tears and wept bitterly.

Chapter Text

Thunder boomed and clouds gathered on the horizon. Rain lashed the ground in sheets and made it impossible to see anything, not even one's beak in front of one's face. The rain pounded at Lena's back and crushed to the muddy ground. If that weren't bad enough, Magica's heel dug into Lena's spine and when the shadow girl tried to extricate herself, Magica pushed down harder. Between the rain and her "aunt", Lena could barely breathe.

"I told you, dumb, dumb little Lena, that there would be a price to pay for betraying me," Magica said and ground her heel deeper into Lena's spine. Lena yelped, pained tears forming in her eyes. Magica sneered, kicking Lena in the head and sending her face first into the mud. When she attempted to breathe, she got a mouthful of muck.

Magica cackled and kicked her in the head again, so hard that she saw stars. This wasn't a dream. It was a nightmare.

"Pathetic little shadow. Did you really think your friends would come to save you? Friends? You're a shadow. A freak of nature. Anyone with any intelligence should have kicked you to the curb. I should have killed you and then destroyed your shadow self. Clearly, killing you once wasn't enough."

Lena fought to get her arms underneath her and shove. Magica ground her heel into Lena's spine and then, leaning down, punched her in the head. Lena whimpered, hoping against hope that the others would put an end to this. She shouldn't have allowed for the possibility of dream walking. Magica would hurt all of them. There was no escape from her. There never would be.

Magica stepped off her then and Lena rolled over, panting. When she met her aunt's eyes, she shuddered. Cruelty was writ large on her face. Before Lena had a chance to recover, Magica swept her to her feet and then pulled her arm behind her back at a sharp angle. Lena used her free hand to punch her in the face and then hissed when magic exploded from Magica's staff. (How had she gotten the staff when it'd transformed into her amulet? It shouldn't be possible).

The magic blasted Lena back a few paces and brought her to her knees.

"You thought Webster would come for you. You thought Scroogie would care what happened to you. You were wrong. No one's coming for you. No one cares what happens to you. No one will ever care. Wendy has a new best friend and she was the only one pulling for you, wasn't she?"

"Violet cares about me," Lena said. Her voice was weak and tremulous.

Magica laughed in her face.

"None of them will even know what happened here because no one will look. Because they're too busy enjoying each other's dreams to rescue you from your nightmare. There is no rescue, you sentimental fool. You monster. Because there's no escaping from me. I'm in your mind and that's where I'll stay. Forever."

"Magica de Spell!" Webby shouted and Lena's heart lifted. She turned her head to spy the others, all of them, even the boys, coming toward her. The rain lessened, permitting Lena to stand on her own two feet, and when she swayed, Webby and Violet caught her.

"You're wrong," Lena said with quiet conviction. "They'll always come for me because they care about me. Because that's something you'll never have, you evil witch. No one will ever care about you."

"Is that so?" Magica retorted.

"Yes, it is," Webby said fiercely. She hugged Lena to her and butterflies erupted in Lena's stomach. Magica's sneer grew crueler if that was possible. The sorceress was practically alight with malice.

"You have feelings for her," Magica said and laughed.

"What?" Webby said, looking completely baffled. Magica might've been a construct of Lena's imagination, but Webby was not. Lena's butterflies soured and she felt like she might be sick. She glowered at Magica.

"Shut up," she snapped. "You don't know what you're talking about, 'Aunt' Magica."

"Of course she has feelings for her. They're friends, right?" Dewey said and Lena could've kissed him for that idiotic response. But something told her Magica wouldn't buy it.

Magica simply smiled. "Until next time, little Lena. I'll be watching."

The rain cleared up and the thunder ceased. Webby turned to regard her best friend.

"What was she talking about, Lena?" Webby asked and cupped her cheek in her palm. Lena's mind raced. It was just like Magica, real or not, to use Lena's feelings against her. If the real Magica had known about Lena's sentiments, she would have destroyed her with them. Now her self-loathing could do that for her. Great.

"Nothing. Can we just get out of here?" Lena asked.

"Yeah...let's go into Dewey's dream," Huey said, casting a curious glance at the shadow teenager. Lena glowered at him until he looked away.

"Yeah, we're Deweying it!" Dewey announced and everyone groaned.

"No matter how many times you try to make that a thing, it's not," Louie informed him. Like Huey, he wasn't convinced that Lena was telling the truth. She hated them both at that moment.

"Are you certain you're all right?" Violet asked Lena in an undertone as they jumped from her mind to Dewey's.

"Fine," Lena spat. "Dandy."

Violet's eyes widened and she lowered her voice further to prevent Webby from eavesdropping. "It's all right to have feelings for Webbigail, you know."

"I don't need to hear it from you too, nerd," Lena said, but there was no rancor in her tone, only resignation.

On impulse, Violet hugged her. "Don't beat yourself up, Lena."

Lena scoffed. "Yeah, right. I'm sure my subconscious would be happy to do it for me."

"Lena..." Violet said softly.

They landed in Dewey's dream and the conversation ended. She was grateful to have the focus shifted off of her and cursed in her mind. If it was so obvious that her version of Magica was picking up on it, not to mention Violet and Huey, then it was a small miracle Webby hadn't noticed yet. Then again, Webby could be oblivious to these things, for which Lena was grateful.

She watched Webby with a pang in her chest. She didn't deserve her. Violet squeezed Lena's hand and Lena suppressed a sigh. No, she didn't deserve either of them.

Chapter Text

It was cold and some jerk had broken one of her windows during Mischief Night. Lena curled into herself and shivered, the threadbare blanket barely giving her enough warmth. Angry, hoping that the rage would lend her warmth, she searched for something to cover the giant gaping hole. When she got her hands on that little cretin, they'd be sorry they ever messed with a de Spell.

By the time she was done covering it over, she was shivering so violently that her teeth were chattering. While she waited for the room to warm again, she huddled back under her blanket. She could have stayed over at McDragon Manor tonight. Webby had wanted her to and, to be honest, Lena had yearned for it. McDragon Manor was warm and safe. But it was also where Magica wanted her to be and right now, she was not in the mood to play nice with her aunt.

Her aunt had caused her to pass out from a migraine earlier. If Lena squinted, she could still see auras. If upsetting her aunt meant depriving herself of something Lena wanted too, then she'd do it. But for the love of all that was holy, did it have to be on the coldest November night thus far this year? Her teeth chattered and she hugged herself.

It'd been a week since she'd returned to her sad excuse of a flat and she hadn't missed it. Next to her, her phone was vibrating, letting her know that Webby or Dewey or someone wanted a piece of her. She turned without leaving the dubious warmth of the blanket to look at the screen. Her frown deepened.

Della. Why the fuck was Della of all people calling her? How had she even gotten the number?

Maybe she ought to answer and find out what the woman wanted. She didn't understand the Dragon family dynamic. She also didn't understand why someone tangentially known to her would care what had befallen her.

"Hello?" Lena said, hissing when she'd needed to take her hand out from underneath the covers to bring the phone closer to her ear.

"I know you're not my daughter," Della started without preamble. "And I know that you're my honorary daughter's best friend. But Webby and Dewey have told me about where you live when you're not here. You should come back. Now."

"Bit late to be pretending to be a mother, isn't it?" Lena snapped. She was hoping by wounding Della, she'd get her to leave her alone.

Della didn't take the bait.

"I deserved that," Della said. "I feel like an imposter every day. But you're too young to be out on your own and that crap apartment you call 'home' is dangerous, Lena."

"I'm fine," Lena snapped.

"You sound cold."

Lena cursed inwardly. "How do you know I'm cold? I'm not cold. I'm perfectly fine. I'm hot, even."

"A mother always knows," Della said sagely.

Lena wondered if Della could out-stubborn her. Lena wanted to be left alone, even if it was in a hellscape. Meanwhile, Della wanted what she thought was best for Lena. In truth, it would be better for Lena, but not for the reasons Della thought.

"You're not my mother," Lena said. Wow, out of all the lame responses she could've said, that was definitely high.

"I know. You need someone to look after you," she said and then added, "Heaven knows your aunt doesn't seem to."

Lena covered the phone to muffle her dark laughter. No, her aunt didn't look after her, not unless you counted torture as looking after someone. When she laughed, however, the sheet shifted and her teeth chattered again. The room wasn't getting any warmer.

"Lena," Della said in a warning tone. "Am I going to have to sic Webby and Dewey on you?"

"I'm coming, I'm coming," Lena said. In her mind, she heard Magica hiss, "Yes!" But she wasn't doing it for her. She was doing it because if she stayed here any longer, she'd freeze parts of her body off.




When she arrived back at the manor, Webby tackle hugged her to the floor.

"LENA!" she cried, all excited. "You're back!"

"Yeah, I'm back," Lena said, playing it cool. Her heart thudded in her chest and she hugged Webby back. She didn't want to let her go, but part of her facade was pretending Webby didn't affect her as strongly as she did. And pretending that she wasn't in love with her.

Webby squealed. "We were playing a game, but now that you're here, I can have you on my team! Team Webby!"

She hauled her along by the hand and Lena pretended she couldn't hear Magica extolling her to get the elixir. This was why she hadn't wanted to return. This was why she'd rather be cold and miserable than warm and tingling. Oh, how badly she wanted to kiss Webby. And how badly she needed to keep that under wraps from Aunt Magica.

Lena was back on her best behavior and pretending to be chill, all the while keeping everyone at arm's length. She was good at that, which was why it hurt that no one saw through the facade. No one was looking, true, which meant she was doing her job, maybe a bit too well. She wished she could tell Webby what was going on, in the very least, but Aunt Magica had put that geas on her for a reason and it wasn't to go blabbing.

She was so miserable and alone. And no one knew it but her.

Chapter Text

It was a dank, dismal day in FOWL HQ. Steelbeak was in a foul mood and Black Heron was equally snippy. She'd 'accidentally' fired her laser at Webby twice during training and then laughed it off, but there'd been murder in her eyes. Needless to say, Webby had skedaddled as soon as possible back to her room, which was slim comfort.


At eleven years old, Webby was precocious, but not enough for Steelbeak. She had yet to commit her first major crime and in her secret heart, she had no desire to. Petty larceny was one thing. Committing murder was something else. She couldn't hurt someone unless it was self-defense or a glancing blow. Murder would be pre-meditated and would cross a line she'd sooner avoid.


So she sat in her room and stared at the pages of a book she'd long since memorized. The air was stale and she felt stagnant. It'd been years since she'd seen the sun in person. It'd been years since she'd breathed fresh air. And it'd been years since she'd felt love. Steelbeak didn't love her. He tolerated her at the worst and felt like she was an extension of himself at best.


Black Heron loathed her, but that was a given.


Sometimes, when she was bored and lonely, she imagined what it might be like to flee this place and have friends her own age. To even see people her own age would be a novelty. Ever since she'd come here, she'd yet to see another child. She heard about them, namely Gosalyn Mallard, a thorn in her father's side. But she'd never seen or met one.


It might be nice. She might enjoy herself. That was all conjecture, though, wasn't it? She groaned. It was all pointless rumination.


She pulled open her hidden drawer compartment to look at the map she'd secretly scribbled of the HQ. Or, at least, she'd opened her drawer. The map was gone, along with everything else. Someone had cleaned her out again. The only reason the book was still here was that she'd taken it with her and brought it back.


She cursed and wilted. Oh, what was the point? She didn't own anything here, not even her heart. She half-heartedly threw the book across the small room, no bigger than a broom closet, and crashed onto her bed. Her bed. That was a joke. Her whole life was a joke, a bad one.


And she wasn't laughing. Far from it.

Chapter Text

It didn't seem possible for him to have developed a crush on Webby so quickly. Louie was still afraid of her and Huey was cautious. But Dewey, well, he'd never listened to his brain so much as his heart. And his heart told him that he had a crush on Webby, so he listened to that instead.

She was scary, yes, but he'd heard that the right woman should always scare you just a little. Besides, he had the feeling there was more to her than met the eye. She was a puzzle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a mystery (he'd heard that in a show once) and he wanted to find out more about her. She seemed to trust him, too, which was part of the problem. He didn't want to jeopardize this thing they had by moving too fast.

But gods, did he want to kiss her. He'd waited until the others were gone and it was him and Webby alone in the living room. Well, one of the living rooms, anyway. This manor had so many damn rooms that you kind of had to refer to them by where they were located rather than giving names such as "living room". It was the complete opposite of Uncle Donald's houseboat.

"Webby?" he queried and she frowned, looking at him earnestly. He had the impression she didn't let herself be unguarded around many people and felt honored that she'd chosen him.

"Hmm?" she asked. She'd been wrapping up the board game they'd played and putting it away. Dewey stepped closer and Webby froze. That was what he'd been afraid of.

"Can I just..." Dewey faltered and then cupped her cheek in his palm. Mustering his courage, he brushed his beak against hers. Webby's jaw dropped.

"Oh!" she said and blushed scarlet.

"Sorry, sorry...you just look so kissable. I know that's not an excuse, but--" he stopped. Webby's eyes were huge and she was gazing at him strangely now.

Then, before he had a chance to do anything else, she kissed him back. His first thought, odd as it was, was that she was offering him a re-do because he hadn't kissed her right. His second was pure giddiness that she was kissing him. For her, this was a massive display of affection. He didn't feel equal to it.

When they broke apart, her eyes were bright and her forehead rested against his. They both panted for a minute and gazed into each other's eyes.

"Webs?" Dewey murmured.

She swept him up in a tight hug. "Thank you...thank you for everything..."

"I don't know what you're thanking me for, but you're welcome?" he said, baffled.

Webby smiled and played with his little cowlick. Her smile turned sly.

"Feel free to kiss me any time you like," she said.

"I'm gonna take you up on that," he replied.

She grinned. "Please do."

Chapter Text

She'd cried herself to sleep last night. That was the thing she remembered. This morning, she'd awoken with a headache and the dreadful feeling she'd forgotten something. When she looked up, it was to discover her grandmother sitting in her bedroom. The door. She'd forgotten to lock it.

"Good morning, Webbigail," Agent 22 said quietly. She pulled Webby into her arms and Webby pushed away, head down.

"How long have you been here?" Webby demanded.

"All night."

That would explain the lack of nightmares, or, rather, the nightmares altering and becoming less toxic. Still, that meant her grandmother had seen her vulnerable. No, Agent 22 had seen her vulnerable. Agent 22 was SHUSH, the enemy. But she was also her grandmother. Black Heron would've capitalized on this immediately. Had, in fact. For a few seconds, Webby was glad the woman was dead.

Her grandmother smoothed her hair back. "You cry in your sleep too. What do you dream about?"

"Nothing," Webby lied.

"I wasn't hatched yesterday," she reprimanded and then, in a softer tone, added, "You can tell me. I promise I won't use the information against you if that's what you're afraid of. I just want to help you."

Black Heron had 'helped' her by nearly killing her that night. Webby shut down, refusing to look at Agent 22 or acknowledge her request. Mrs. Beakley sighed, still stroking Webby's hair. Try as she might, she couldn't deny that it was soothing. It made her want to confide in her, which was dangerous. It set a bad precedent.

"Sometimes," she mumbled, not looking at her, "I dream about what FOWL used to do to traitors."

Mrs. Beakley shifted closer and put an arm about her. Webby finally looked up into her eyes and the compassion and concern there felt like a blow to the chest. She'd never seen that expression on Steelbeak's face, but she saw it here all the time. It brought tears to her eyes again, even though she could have sworn she'd cried herself out.

"FOWL is never going to touch you again," her grandmother swore. "What did they do?"

"They wanted...they wanted to teach me a lesson...I attended my first execution when I was six..."

And although she'd have sworn up and down too that it didn't bother her, that the hanging hadn't affected her still, she burst into tears. All at once, she was that terrified little girl, standing there watching the traitor agent sway back and forth on his platform while the cold wind blew from outdoors and snow flew in through the open window. She'd been freezing and the others were all bundled up. Apparently, she hadn't merited a jacket.

She was sobbing now, unable to stop. She hadn't wanted this. The last thing she needed was to capitulate to her misery. Her fist clutched part of her grandmother's dress.

"Webby..." her grandmother said softly, gently. "You're safe here. And Steelbeak will pay for what he's done to you."

That wasn't what she wanted. She still wanted her father in her life, but she couldn't have him without his manipulating her. If her father was free, then he'd be able to hurt her again. If he wasn't, then he'd be spending all of his time working to free himself only to run FOWL again. Her lower beak quivered and she pressed her face into her grandmother's chest.

She only stopped when she ran out of tears and had increased her headache tenfold. Even so, dry sobs wracked her frame and Mrs. Beakley continued to hold her.

"Are you feeling any better, dear?"

Webby had latched onto her sometime in the last few minutes and hadn't noticed. She didn't know how to respond. Instead, she looked up at her grandmother.

"I love you," her grandmother said. More words she'd never heard at FOWL HQ. "I will always love you. I will always want you."

Webby hiccupped and blinked. Her grandmother thumbed away any remaining tears.

"Now, what do you want for breakfast?" her grandmother asked.

She pulled away and Webby hugged her tighter. She was shaking, she found, and it was disorienting and alarming.

"There are other dreams," she blurted. "Dreams about Black Heron. And about Steelbeak. And about you...but you're not you. You're just a faceless person rejecting me. Or the boys...or Lena..."

"No one here is going to reject you. As for Lena, I really can't say," she said and frowned. "But I know that Mr. McDuck and the boys, as well as I, would never abandon you.

"Would you like to remain here a few minutes more?"

Webby nodded and relaxed only when Mrs. Beakley wrapped an arm about her again. She rested with her head on her chest. It hadn't occurred to her how affection starved she was until affection was freely offered. Everyone here was so open and caring. Webby's throat tightened.

"You're okay...you're all right..." her grandmother soothed.

"Granny?" she said and realized belatedly that it was the first time she'd said it without stumbling over 'Agent 22' first.

"Yes?" Mrs. Beakley said and she could feel her smiling at her.

"Could I have my knives back?"

The smile vanished and Mrs. Beakley sighed. "I'm afraid not."

"Oh."

"But we can have blueberry pancakes. They're your favorite."

Webby nodded. After another few minutes, she released her grandmother and Mrs. Beakley, in turn, let go of her. Her grandmother smiled down at her and kissed her on the forehead.

"Why don't you get yourself washed up and come on down?" her grandmother suggested. "I'm sure the boys are already there and hungry."

Webby offered her a small smile. She was sure she was right. As her grandmother took her leave, Webby wanted to chastise herself for letting herself be vulnerable and reveal so much. However, she found she couldn't. The comfort she'd received far outweighed the unease of spilling those secrets. She felt loved and wanted. She hugged herself and for the first time, realized she might not have to self-soothe anymore.