Scrooge McDuck: the richest duck in the world. He has more money than one could ever dream of, and he made it square. On top of being a businessman, the duck’s a world-renowned explorer. Solving mysteries and rewriting history is his pastime, and his family shares in the love of adventure...that is, all but one. Donald Duck is not as graceful as his uncle, not as smart as his twin, and much more prone to getting hurt than having fun. After losing Della to the call of the great unknown, his view of the “family business” soured even more. However, his three nephews, Della’s kids, have shown the same passion their mother and great uncle shared. After many deliberations with himself, he finally conceded in allowing the triplets to accompany the entrepreneur in his travels.
There were, of course, strict rules to follow. Donald doesn’t just give the responsibility of his nephews’ lives to anyone. Even with his inhibitions, he relinquished his family to Scrooge McDuck. Heaven help the old miser if something were to happen to those three. Donald had already lost one family member too many, and he’s determined not to lose another.
The sailor had made a personal vow of no more adventuring. Those days were long gone for him. He had never felt as much of a rush and received such enjoyment out of it as his kin did, which is why he’s currently relaxing on the hammock of his house boat. His family has another journey planned for today, but rather than worry about them returning safely, as he usually does, he attempts to keep his mind at bay with a nap. But fate never seems to be on Donald’s side, and at a loud shout of his name, he’s awakened by the thwack of his face meeting the boat’s wooden floor.
With a groan, he rubs his head as his eyes open sleepily. In front of his beak are spat-clad feet, and he doesn’t need to guess twice to know who’s interrupted his beauty sleep, “Scrooge?” He sits up with a scowl. He should ask why the old duck is on his boat, but then again, his boat is in Scrooge’s pool. Feeling rather agitated at the rude awakening, his mood is more combative than normal, “What do you want?!”
The Scottish duck pushes away the slight pain in his chest at the absence of ‘Uncle’ before his name. That’s been increasing in regularity ever since the events of the Sunchaser. Maybe his nephew had only been referring to him as that in front of his great nephews all this time? After his reputation had been dirtied in their eyes, Donald has been more frequently dropping the ‘Uncle’ and simply calling him ‘Scrooge’. He despises that.
But that’s not what he’s here for. Ever since the Shadow War and nearly losing his family for good, he’s been trying to rekindle the relationship long lost between him and his nephew. It’s been a rocky road at best, and the two of them have been known to lose their tempers at a drop of a hat. So today he chooses to keep the smile on his beak as he addresses the duck kneeling before him, “Came teh invite ye. Teh kids ‘n ah thought it might be fun teh have a sort of...” he waves a hand around, trying to come up with the words, “...family adventure.”
He can feel his fight or flight instinct kicking in. Scrooge is skilled at many things in life, talking to his own kin, however, was a skill he did not possess. Part of him wants to run and pretend he never asked while the other is still hopeful his nephew will accept his offer. Though the rather confused look that comes over Donald’s face as he stands up does nothing to soothe the old duck.
The sailor crosses his arms in front of his chest, “You know I don’t adventure anymore.” He looks his uncle up and down. The old man is good at hiding his feelings, but Donald has known him for years.
Scrooge was obviously nervous, “A-Ah knoo, but, well it’s just been a long time since ye’ve gone ‘n...ah jus-”
Donald holds up a hand to stop him, “I don’t adventure anymore because someone always gets hurt.”
His uncle blinks as he turns away to walk out onto the deck of his houseboat. He’s not surprised when he’s followed, “Thas’ nae troo! We’ve bin on several trips now ‘n everyone always comes back in one piece!”
Donald leans over the railing and looks over his shoulder at the other, “In one piece, yes, but I have to take care of the bumps and bruises!”
Dark turquoise eyes flick away at that. Sure, there are small injuries here and there, but no one had lost a limb or worse! You can’t live if you’re afraid to get hurt! In the past, Donald had been the one to sustain most of the injuries, and perhaps that is where the insecurities are coming from now. But the boys are skilled where their uncle is not. They take after their mother and himself. But then even Della had...
Scrooge frowns at the duck across him, “Thas’ part a teh fun! A bruise ‘r a scar lef’ behind tae remind ye of teh adventure when ye got it! Ye’ve got tae make memories while ye can, lad! Besides, those wee boys are much more capable than yer givin’ them credit fer.”
Donald’s eyes narrow and he straightens, glaring at the other, “I know they’re capable, why do you think I let them go with you?!” He can’t protect them from everything, they would never live!
His uncle’s brows furrow, bringing a hand to his chest, “Donald, ah knoo ye worry fer them, but ye can-” Scrooge cuts himself off, his eyes lower to the boat floor. He can’t finish that sentence because it’s not true.
But his nephew knew what he was about to say, and it only seems to stoke the sailor’s internal furnace, “I can what? Trust you?! I think you’ve made it very apparent that I can’t!” Scrooge’s eyes lift to glare at his kin. His instinct is to defend himself, but he keeps his beak shut for once, jaw clenching.
Donald continues in his fit, “The only reason I let the boys go adventuring with you is so they can get it out of their systems. So that maybe they’ll grow bored of it while they’re still young and can move on with their lives before something terrible happens! I know they’re already better at it than I was because they still actually want to go. They’re only ten years old, but I trust them and their decisions in this! Do you know how sad it is that I trust children more than I trust the adult in charge of them?!”
For a long time, Scrooge knew how Donald felt deep down, but hearing it so blatantly out of the young lad he raised, that all faith in him was lost, it stings. Like many times before, Scrooge abandons any hurt feelings in exchange for anger. His teeth grit as he takes a step forward, “At least when teh boys are with me, a successful businessman, they might learn a thing er two on how tae supply fer themselves once day instead a livin’ on a boat in their uncle’s swimmin’ pool and moochin’ off his hard-earned wages!” He wanted to take that back as soon as he said it. He knows more than anyone that even if Donald was lazy in nature, the duck had tried everything to hold on to a job to support his family. It wasn’t for a lack of trying, he would take any job if it meant providing a safe environment for the boys to grow up in.
Scrooge’s outburst was out of line, but he can’t take it back. Especially not with the hurt expression that quickly flashes across his nephew’s face. Though it’s instantly hid behind anger once again, as their family is known to do. Donald’s fists shake at his side, but he doesn’t blow his top. Instead his voice lowers to a mock calm, “Really? Alright. Why don’t I just see how much they’re learning, then?” With that, he gives his uncle a shoulder shove out of his way and marches off the boat, shouting, “I’ll get Launchpad to move the boat back to the marina after!” over his shoulder. The old coot wanted a family trip? He’ll get a family trip.
As the sailor enters the mansion to most likely cut through and get to the front yard where Launchpad and the children were waiting, the rich avian allows his face to fall in shame. This is not the way to repair the bond with his kin and he knows it. He hadn’t meant a word he said; Scrooge didn’t want Donald to leave, quite the opposite actually. He scolds himself for letting his anger once again take control of his tongue. This adventure is no longer sounding as fun as it did a few minutes ago.
Donald mostly ignores what exactly the treasure they’re after is. Most likely something gold and cursed if he knows his uncle. It had been several hours since their argument this morning and they both had time to cool down, but neither made a move to apologize. They mostly avoided one another.
The Duck’s and McDuck’s are good at arguing, not so much at having heart to hearts; a trait that Donald has attempted to break in his nephews. From a young age he made sure to talk out any disagreements with the boys, whether between they and him, or among the triplets themselves. Kids can hold onto grudges, but Huey, Dewey, and Louie had always been inspiring at resolving their fights before it ruined any relationships.
Scrooge had not been raised that way. He had, in a sense, raised himself since the age of 13, and, knowing nothing about being a parent, had raised Donald and Della from a young age as well. Della had always been better at talking about her feelings, but it wasn’t the same for Donald, at least not with his uncle. He’s learned a lot raising her sons, but the way the relationship was severed between his uncle and he is something not easily mended.
Donald sighs, his glance once again settles on the old duck. They had pushed their anger away for the children, not wanting to bring any negative feelings to the adventure. Webby and the triplets crowd around Scrooge’s seat next to Launchpad in the cockpit of the Sunchaser. He’s explaining the history of the location and what they’ll be looking for, but the sailor isn’t listening. His mind is years away in the distant past when he and his twin had the same wide and excited eyes the ducklings now have. Where had the time gone?
When they arrive several hours later at the ancient Mayan Ruins in Central America, the crew managing to escape a water landing by a feather’s length, his uncle takes the lead through the deep jungle while he brings up the rear himself, leaving Launchpad and the plane behind. They have yet to truly enter the temple ahead, but small native structures could be seen rising and falling through the thicket. The trees above them grow together so close in their canopy, only small rivers of light can be seen cascading through the leaves and lighting the world around them.
The dirt path they’ve taken eventually turns to a stone one. So battered is the path, that the stepping-stones are often broken or missing in places. Small green flora has managed to take root, and they rise up a few inches out of the small cracks of earth the pathway gives way to.
The group hikes for a few miles before the trail leads them to a small mountain, or rather large hill depending on how you look at it, gradually rising them higher out of the undergrowth. Huey occupies himself with identifying different plants, animals, and insects they pass along the way, while also keeping a sharp eye out for any poisonous ones. Webby next to him is jabbering about the native culture and history of the ruins around them.
Louie trails behind, just in front of Donald. He wipes the sweat off his brow as his bangs cling to his face; he should have packed a t-shirt. The humidity is suffocating, as if you can take a handful of the air itself, and the heat draining. You can practically feel yourself becoming dehydrated. He doesn’t know how the others can manage so well.
Dewey stays closely behind his great uncle, wanting more than anything to swing through the trees on vines and cut his way through the vegetation. Scrooge had strictly advised against such acts however, insisting he would lead the way on this expedition, and that everyone was to stay behind him. The kids have noticed his behavior is a bit off today, but don’t bring it up.
The old duck grits his teeth. Curse the arthritis in his hips. The pain in his legs had started this morning after his and Donald’s argument, and had seemed to only get worse the farther he traveled. He’d hoped moving would bring some relief, however it only increases the closer they get to the temple. It was almost as if his experienced body is giving him a warning. But that’s ridiculous; surely, it’s just one of the many days when his age is making itself known to him. Nevertheless, he’s being extra cautious today just to be safe, especially with his nephew keeping a close eye on him.
He’s sure he’s slowing the group down with his sluggish pace. He hates the fact his cane is proving to be more and more necessary. Most days he has no symptoms whatsoever, and finds little use for it, but then there are days like today when he doesn’t know if he can remain upright without the extra support. Scrooge shakes his head to focus on the task at hand; he can’t let himself be distracted, that’s when someone can get hurt, and that’s not going to happen today.
The group has reached a rather open area, making him take pause. To their right, more jungle reaching up and over their heads as the hill continues upward. To their left, an unnaturally clear view from the trees that shows how high they’ve already climbed. A gravel-like hillside drops abruptly to jungle nearly a hundred feet below. Off in the distance you can barely make out the bright light of the sun reflecting off the metal wings of the Sunchaser in a small clearing near the lake. More jungle filled mountains continue for as far as the eye can see.
Ahead of them, the path leads to a stone door with a rather threatening face carved into it, a trademark symbol of the natives that used to inhabit this land. The door is attached to the beginnings of the temple; however, hundreds of years have made the living forest become one with it, and most of the structure is covered under vegetation. It looks as if it was built into the mountain itself. The entrance lays about a hundred yards yet ahead of them. The senior duck’s eyes narrow; something isn’t right. Everything is too perfectly cleared away.
Donald hasn’t been watching exactly where he’s walking. The sounds of the forest have distracted and brought him back to adventures of old he’d shared with his family. Looking to his right, his attention is further distracted by a blue morpho fluttering about before silently landing on a native flower blooming on one of the many trees. He hasn’t noticed his uncle and the kids pause at the clearing, that is until he collides with his elder.
The old duck is pushed a few feet ahead and nearly collapses with a wince when the stone he steps on suddenly lowers underneath his weight. The switch seems to have activated a centuries’ old booby trap, as massive boulders are swiftly released up in the hillside to their right and swing on their ropes tied to the tree tops above them. Four stones in total, each twice the height of Scrooge, sweep along the path in front of them, swinging back and forth and threatening to push them over the edge.
The experienced avian sends a glare behind him, hands on his knees as the sudden movement sent a wave of pain through his body. A pink flush blooms across the younger duck’s face as he gives a grin and a shrug accompanied by a small giggle in embarrassment.
Louie rolls his eyes, “Great! Now what?”
His older brother garbed in blue smiles at him, “Aw, come on! It’s not so bad! We’ve had worse death traps than this!” As if to prove his point, he runs ahead of the group towards the first swinging rock. Pausing to watch its movements, he waits until it just passes in front of him before running quickly to the next safe spot between the first and second boulders. He turns around to his family with a triumphant grin, “See? Not so hard!”
The other three children and their elder move to follow him, leaving his uncle behind. Donald takes a few steps forward to where Scrooge stood but a moment before, watching his family wait for the rock to swing ahead of them. He holds his breath to keep himself from yelling out as his anxieties surface.
Now that he was focused enough to observe the awkward landscape before him, the layout makes sense as the death trap revealed itself. The boulders are supposed to crush any potential robbers and send them flying through the sudden break in the tree line down to their demises on the jungle floor, or at least that’s the idea. Donald can only picture tiny duck bodies soaring through that very air and meeting an unfortunate ending, but his family runs past the stone, and quickly joins Dewey on the other side. He releases the air in relief. This is why he doesn’t go on these trips, they are far too stressful for him now with the children along.
As he attempts to calm his racing heart before his family goes to the next stone, a distinct snapping makes him whip his head up to the jungle hillside next him. It sounds as if young saplings are breaking. The sound catches his uncle’s attention as well, making him pause as the kids continue onward. Scrooge’s fingers grip tightly to the cane he leans on, the pain has come to an all-time high; something is definitely wrong. Donald’s eyes widen as his body is rapidly dwarfed in comparison to the fifth massive boulder hurdling down the hillside towards him. The overgrown jungle must have temporarily kept the stone at bay before crumbling under the weight.
Time seems to slow down, and yet it all happens too quick for anyone to process. Instead of feeling the rough surface of the boulder making contact with his face, Donald feels two distinct hands push his limp body a good five feet away. The duck grunts as he bounces and slides across the rough surface before quickly turning his head back. He stares unblinkingly as a nauseating thud enters his ears, a body flying lifelessly through the air to his left and down to the hillside. Rocks slide along with the figure as it rolls along the rock face before falling down the drop-off into the trees, snapping branches and vines under its weight. Birds flee the scene up into the sky and other wildlife run to hide from the sudden noise before the form finally lands on the ground out of all their view.
Then all is quiet. The branches shake back and forth, before stilling once again. The forgotten fifth stone swings unaffected, as if it didn’t happen. Donald makes eye contact with his family ahead who stare in equal horror back at him. It feels like hours pass as they process what had just happened, all staring back at each other as the once life filled jungle is dead silent. Finally, it seems to hit them all at once, as they stare in the direction the body flew before crying out in shock, “SCROOGE!”
Donald never remembers running so fast. After the kids made it safely past the swinging boulders, the five of them run down the hillside as quick as their legs can carry them. Huey’s shaking voice tries to determine if someone can survive such an ordeal. Louie’s sobbing, repeatedly screaming, “He’s dead, he’s dead!” Dewey remains silent as the scene replays in his head over and over, tears stinging at his eyes.
Webby is the only one who seems to keep it together as she makes the group stop on the path to catch their breath; they’re all hyperventilating. She grabs Louie by the shoulders and gives him a good shake, “Louie! He’s not dead! We’re gonna find him and we’re gonna get him home!” The boy sniffs in response but says no more.
Donald can see the girl trembling. He’s the adult, he’s supposed to be calming the children down and making a plan to help their uncle! But at the moment, he feels like he might vomit. The sound of Scrooge’s body crumpling under the weight of the boulder still stuck in his head. He no longer feels like an adult, he’s a scared child. He simply exists alongside the kids.
Webby forces Huey to stop his dead-end rambling and focus with a smack across the face. The red garbed boy seems a bit hurt by the action, but he pushes his feelings away for the time being, and determination enters his eyes. Together they track the trajectory to locate where their uncle’s body could have landed. Finally pinpointing the most probable location, the group runs once again. Leaving the path, they venture into the deep thicket. Dewey leads the group, moving branches and leaves nearly as big as him out of the way for his followers. He’s not sure what else he can do, he’s not as smart as his older brother and Webby. But he can at least clear a path for them. It’s a while before anyone says anything, the only sounds to be heard are the twigs breaking under their webbed feet, and the still quiet sniffs of the youngest triplet.
They spot something up ahead. Donald feels himself run faster, ahead of his fellow ducklings. There’s a small clearing where broken branches lay scattered across the ground. One limb, still attached but hanging, swings back and forth melodically. The sun shines through a small break in the trees from its missing appendages down to the forest floor. All Donald can see is red.
A broken and crumpled body lays entangled with vines and branches. The family pauses in shock, taking in the scene before them. Their uncle’s body is motionless, his clothes in shreds. His top hat and spectacles landed relatively close together a few yards away in the tall undergrowth; his cane a few yards on the other side of him, hooked on a low branch. His feathers, once as white as freshly fallen snow, now a dirtied mix between brown and red. So much red. Donald’s heart sinks.
Hi all! So this is my first Ducktales Fanfic! If anyone has been watching me long enough, you probably know Scrooge is my fav, so of course I had to write something about him! If you've been keeping up with the show, (SPOILERS HERE) Della has returned to Earth. In this story however, Della is still gone, and her whereabouts are unknown, she is presumed dead. (END SPOILERS)
This story will have some gore in it, considering it's about a family overcoming an accident and fighting mortality. Reader discretion advised as I work at a veterinary clinic, so wounds and the treatment of them may be described rather realistically. If you have a squeamish stomach, I suggest not reading these sections.
For those of my readers who like this sort of stuff, I hope you are satisfied you creepy little nerds! Thanks for reading guys!
Special thanks to Galoots galoots.tumblr.com/ for reading through and editing this story!!
Chapter 2: Can Fester Forever
Something’s ringing. A high-pitched squeal in his ears. Then pain. Terrible, unrelenting pain. Everything hurts. He wants to cry out, to wince, to retreat from it, but he can’t move. Distantly, he hears someone talking. No, someones talking. He can’t tell how many there are.
The ringing is fading, but the voices still seem a long way away. He forces himself to focus on them and not his tortuous body. His mind starts to return; that’s Dewey’s voice. The higher pitched one, that’s Webby. They're conversing back and forth, sometimes even calling out to him. He can’t respond. He can’t do anything. I’m here!
He hears a cry, followed by a different voice rise above the rest, “Is he dead?!” It’s Louie. Why would the lad think he’s gone? What happened? He hears a whack, presumably one of the others punching the green duckling to be quiet. He wants to smirk. Good. They should expect more of him, he’s Scrooge McDuck after all! It’ll take more than that tae kill me! Of course, he doesn’t know what that is. He doesn’t remember anything.
Two fingers are placed to his jugular and something tickles his nose. It’s soft and light, but the tickle makes him think he may sneeze, which would be excruciating at this moment. A few unbearable seconds go by before the annoying feeling leaves.
He hears Webby’s voice again, her voice cracks, “His heart’s beating! He’s breathing! He’s alive!” There’s a group breath released. Did they really think he had expired?
Someone touches his head; he wants to wince away. There’s a shout, “No, don’t move him!” Huey’s voice. “The Junior Woodchuck Guidebook says if he has a spine or neck injury, moving him could make it worse!” Smart lad.
“But we have to get him back to the Sunchaser! How are we supposed to do that if we can’t move him?!” Dewey again. His voice is filled with urgency and...concern? Are his injuries that severe?
The ringing has almost left now; his senses are coming back to him; the voices are clearer. He can feel the gentle breeze ruffle his feathers; even that makes his skin burn. That’s right, they were outside somewhere. On another adventure? His left shoulder throbs painfully. He feels like he was hit by a truck.
No...not a truck...a boulder. His memories return to him all at once. His nephew in the path of the stone that had, at first, failed to fall. He remembers forcing his aching joints to move as fast as he demanded, whether they’ll allow it or not, to get to him; to get to Donald. If he’s in the amount of pain he’s in now, he must have been hit; but did he save his nephew? He hasn’t heard the lad’s voice.
He needs to know. He must make sure Donald is alright. Scrooge compels his voice to work, though it sounds strained and weak, “...Donald...”
A hand is immediately placed on his cheek, “Unca Scrooge?!” His voice. The ‘uncle’ in front of his own name makes his heart leap. The old miser thanks any supernatural force he can think of. His nephew is alive! If his body would allow, he’d scoop the boy up now and smother him with kisses. But that’s not the uncle that Donald knows. The uncle his nephew grew up with keeps a calm head in these situations.
He needs to see him. To see with his own two eyes that Donald is ok. His face grimaces for a second before he forces his eyes open. At first all he sees is white. Then shadows appear, hovering above him. They gradually take shape and color. Eventually, the face of his nephew comes into view. That look...the last time he saw that look on Donald’s face was when the sailor heard Della was lost in space. A new pain plagues Scrooge; one in his chest, “...are ye...alright, lad...?”
Donald lets out a breath, closing his quickly dampening eyes for a moment, before looking back at him, “Thanks to you.” His beak is turned upwards into a smile, though it seems halfhearted and repressed.
Scrooge blinks, trying to get his vision to focus. More faces are forming next to him. Webby and the boys. There’s not a dry eye among them. He can’t stand seeing the usually joyous ducklings look like that, especially not when it’s over himself. Tsk, “...what are ye all cryin’ fer? Ye cannae git rid ‘a me that easily!” There’s the smiles he loves. His family embraces him at first gently, then they hold tight, as if afraid to let go. As much as the action is appreciated, he can already barely keep himself from crying out in pain. The elder lets out a grunt of discomfort and they quickly retreat.
Webby’s large, hollow eyes are glancing up and down his body, “We need to get you home. Can you move?” The question on if his back or neck are injured.
He tries to focus, but everything still hurts so bad. Slowly, his legs start to straighten themselves out of the strange angles they landed in.
Scrooge’s right wing moves to push himself up, but his left remains motionless, “...cannae move me arm...”
Said appendage lay tangled in vines and underneath a small branch. Webby and Huey work to unravel it as Donald places an arm underneath the old miser’s head to help lift him up.
When the ducklings finally manage to free his arm, Webby sucks her teeth, “I think it’s dislocated...”
The limb hangs awkwardly from the shoulder. The old duck lets out a soft groan, more in annoyance than actual pain. He lifts his good wing towards Donald, and his nephew helps him wrap it around the sailor’s neck. Together they gently pull Scrooge into a sitting position. His back cries out in protest at the movement, surely bruised, but he highly doubts broken as he can still move most of his appendages. When they finally pause, the Scottish duck relaxes his grimace and releases the breath he’s been holding with a small cough. Debris falls off his body as he keeps his eyes closed for just one more second. This upright position causes his head to swim, and he feels sick to his stomach. His beak is dry, and he swallows before his belly can have any more ideas.
Finally, he manages to acknowledge the girl, “...someone’ll have tae set it...”
Eyes risk opening, and Scrooge gets a look at his body for the first time. Cuts and scrapes litter his skin, but his legs seem to have escaped relatively unharmed, though his right leg aches. His right arm has a deep laceration that is undoubtedly bleeding down Donald’s shirt by now; his left hip is throbbing; the bad arm is hanging unnaturally at his side causing an overwhelming amount of pain; and his head is still spinning. He’s sure there’s a deep cut above his eye, as he can feel something threatening to drip into it. He most likely has a concussion as well from either whatever caused the gash, or from hitting his head on the ground. The back of his head and neck feel rather moist, perhaps there is some blood trickling down? The hand that Donald used to lift him up before is covered in a crimson color; his head is definitely bleeding. But the thing that hurts the most, next to his dislocated arm, is his left rib cage, especially in this position. He can see a tear in his robe where red is seeping out, a red far darker than the color of his attire, but there must be more damage than that. Small gashes sting across his face where branches and sharp rocks must have grazed him.
The first thing that runs through his mind is...how is he alive?! Injuries like these could be fatal to someone far younger than he, and with his age it’s even more a wonder. That death trap was designed to kill someone, a duck half his age would be lucky to survive something like this. 152 years is not easy on the body. He understands now why the kids thought he was already deceased, and with the pain he’s in, he almost wishes he was.
Scrooge eyes the children around him. Huey and Webby are near his bad arm, seemingly trying to figure out if they can set it themselves. Dewey sits on the ground closer to his knee. The blue child is looking over Webby’s shoulder as if he’s interested in helping, but his eyes seem to be far away. Louie kneels at his feet. The boy’s beak and face are as pale as a sheet, well, as pale as one can be with white feathers. He can’t look directly at his great uncle. The boy isn’t too keen on blood and seeing a family member badly injured is making his stomach churn, but his tears seemed to have dried for now.
Huey’s voice snaps the elder duck out of his thoughts, “It would be better to set it here than let it wait until we get back. The longer we wait, the more swelling will occur, and it’ll be harder to set. Plus, it’ll be less painful if we do it now rather than later.” The boy was reading his journal once again. That book really comes in handy.
The girl nods in approval, a hand to her chin. Then she pauses with a worried look, “...who’s gonna do it?”
The children all exchange a glance. Donald was currently supporting Scrooge, so it had to be one of them. Louie is definitely not an option; he’d just as soon puke at the thought then even try. He’d probably faint before he even touches the appendage. Huey possess the knowledge on how to set the bone, but the thought of physically feeling the shoulder move under his hands makes him queasy.
Webby retains the courage to do what needs to be done, but she would really prefer it not to be her causing such pain her idol. If she has to do it, she will, but she’s a bit unconfident in her bone setting abilities. Her Granny hasn’t covered that part of survival medicine with her yet.
Right as she opens her beak to mutter an ‘Ok, I guess I will then,’ the boy behind her speaks up, “I can.” Dewey wears an unwavering look, even if there’s some fear hidden behind his eyes.
“Dewey...” Donald calls to him softly. The sailor has an idea of why the middle child volunteered. The duckling hasn’t said much since the accident happened. He had been the one who encouraged them to keep going, even after the trap had been sprung. He led the group through the underbrush, making sure everybody got past each obstacle safely. The only thing he had really verbally said was that they needed to get their wounded uncle home as soon as possible. And now he wants to fix what is, in a sense, broken. Dewey blames himself. The boy shoots a glance to his uncle, but his determination never falters.
“Are you sure?” Webby seems appreciative, but still wants to make sure the boy is actually comfortable doing what he says.
Dewey switches positions with Webby so that he faces the bad arm directly. He looks at his older brother, “Just tell me what I need to do.” If Scrooge wasn’t already biting back his cries of pain, he’d congratulate the boy for stepping up to the task.
Huey nods, “First we need to see what position the bone is in now, so that we know which direction it needs to go.” He looks to Webby, who catches the hint and switches places with him, so she faces Dewey. She then places her tiny hands on the duck’s shoulder, using her small fingers to determine its location in comparison to where it should be.
Her touch immediately sends shocks of agony through the old duck’s body, causing him to wince and scrunch up his face with a grunt. He clenches his teeth as his hold around Donald tightens, making his nephew yelp in surprise. The girl’s brows knead together in concern, though her eyes remain focused on what she’s doing, “Sorry, Mr. McDuck.”
Mr. McDuck. How he despises that! When had the lass started calling him by that again?! It had seemed to be an increasing occurrence as of late, but as to when it had actually begun, he couldn’t say. There was also the certain dimness in her usually bright eyes.
Scrooge was serious when he told her a few months ago to call him ‘Uncle Scrooge.’ He truly sees her as his own niece, even if there is no blood relation. However, since the events of the Sunchaser in which he had excluded her from his family, the light that she once emitted was fizzled out. Even after he had reconciled with the boys, something remained missing within the fourth duckling. He’ll have to have a talk with the girl. But later, his mind is preoccupied at the moment.
Webby’s delicate fingers find the humerus head a good inch below and slightly to the left of where it should be, “Here’s the top, it needs to be moved up and over just slightly.” The girl’s grip makes the old miser shrink closer to Donald with a groan. As proud as he is of his niece, part of him wants to give her a good smack. He restrains himself just barely.
Louie covers his ears at the painful sounds, closing his eyes tightly. If he could just get the picture of his wounded uncle out of his head, maybe he could calm down. But he finds he can’t completely block the noises out. He has to listen just slightly to know what’s happening; to know that the motionless, crimson covered body he’d seen when they first found it, is sitting up before him, breathing, making those awful noises, and alive. Louie wishes nothing more than to skip ahead when they would all laugh about this later. He just wants to get this over and done with already. He allows himself to peek through his eyelids just a tad.
The oldest nephew can’t help but feel out of place. For the many years he grew up with Scrooge McDuck, Donald never saw his uncle in such pain, or at least openly showing it. Sure, they all had their fair shares of injuries in the past, but Scrooge never paid much mind to his own. A slight wince here or there would be it, and they’d be off on the next adventure whether he was healed already or not. No wound had ever been this severe though.
Of course, if it was Donald or Della that had gotten hurt, even if it was just a minor scrape, their uncle would put everything on hold until he was sure the children were bandaged up and alright.
The only time of outwardly expressing pain that came remotely close, was when they lost Della on the Spear of Selene. Donald had seen the pain and regret on his uncle’s face, especially when the sailor left with Della’s three little eggs, but even that expression had been masked.
If Scrooge is concealing his pain now, he must be in a world of hurt. The fact that the old duck’s face is practically buried in Donald’s chest as he tries to resist the urge to yell at the children to stop, makes the situation all the more strange. Of course, the headlock of sorts his uncle has on him helps that; he can’t move away if he wanted to, but he doesn’t.
His left wing supports Scrooge’s back, mindful of his arm and the gash on his ribs, while his right grips his uncle’s hand on the arm that’s tightly wrapped around his own neck. The hand in his would tighten when the pain is especially unbearable, and he would squeeze it in return to try and provide some sort of comfort.
Their argument from this morning couldn’t be further from his mind right now. Sure, they would need to talk it out, but something like that was not nearly important enough to be concerned about at the present time, not when Scrooge almost died. Donald was sure his uncle felt the same. A small disagreement can be overlooked when your family’s survival is at stake.
“Alright, Dewey, try and get a good feel so you know what you’re looking for,” Huey instructs his brother. The middle child does as told, following Webby’s hands and trying to ignore the pained sounds and faint Gaelic cursing coming from his uncle, the boy’s hands are not nearly as gentle as the girl’s.
Once he gets a good feel, he follows the instructions of how to hold the limb and maneuver it back in to place. Dewey places his left hand where the shoulder and upper humerus should meet so that he can feel when it correctly pops back in place. His right hand takes his uncle’s wrist that lay lifelessly on the ground, slowly bending the limb to a 90° angle. Under his left hand, Dewey can feel Scrooge trembling slightly in anticipation.
Huey seems to have noticed as well, and gently puts a hand on Celtic duck to get his attention, “Try and relax, Uncle Scrooge. It’ll be easier if your muscles stay loose.” Easier said than done, though the senior does take a deep breath to try and calm himself, not too deep though, for that hurt his ribs.
Dewey faulters for just a moment, looking to his left at his elder’s face. Sensing the other’s hesitation, Scrooge opens his eyes and glances at the boy next to him from his peripheral vision. The blue duckling seems to be apologizing for what is about to happen. He can tell the middle child is still nervous, despite his attempt at keeping a cool head. The experienced duck, not trusting his own voice at the moment, dips his head ever so slightly, silently urging him onward and reassuring the other that he trusts him fully. A blink; the boy nods back in appreciation.
Dewey refocuses himself and begins to move the appendage in his hand, by the wrist, away from the body as instructed. The old duck immediately tenses again with a grunt as he can feel the bone twist inside. The child’s hand moves until he feels resistance, and then continues by pulling the wrist up, as if making the hand reach to the sky. As he lifts the arm, he can feel the bone moving up along with him. The owner whines at the feeling, his torso straightening with the limb and slightly leaning away from the duckling.
Dewey’s brows furrow in concentration; the bone is right there; it just needs to pop back in now. Applying just a slight bit of force with his left hand on the humerus head and pushing the wing backwards just a tad farther with his right, he feels the bone give way underneath his force, and snaps back into place with an audible pop. The eldest duck lets out a cry, jumping up in reflex to the sudden pain.
The four watching the scene visibly flinch at the sound and shout that followed. Louie gags and closes his eyes once again. Huey and Webby suck their teeth in sympathy, turning their heads away a bit with a wince. Dewey remains unfazed, keeping the limb in position. Donald’s eye closes at the yell in his ear, before gazing back the other’s face.
The sailor had never seen his uncle cry in all his years, not even when they lost Della, but there are unmistaken tears in the old duck’s wide eyes. Scrooge’s jump had aggravated the pain in his side. His face wrinkles together again, and he lets out another strained groan between his tightly clenched teeth as he lowers himself back to a position that didn’t hurt as much. He wills the tears to stay where they are, ashamed they had appeared in the first place. Thankfully, they obey his command.
Dewey slowly lowers the arm back to a normal position, keeping it bent, and is relieved to find it moves without resistance. The owner’s feathered head lowers with it and hangs motionless.
The oldest nephew immediately notices the sudden act, “Scrooge?” No response. He squeezes the hand in his, trying to get the other to react. Nothing.
By now the children have noticed something is wrong. Louie’s eyes have reopened, and he uncovers his ears at his uncle’s call.
Huey puts a hand to the battered body again, hoping for some sign of life. He finds none.
Webby too looks up and down the body in front of her in concern, putting a hand on his back with a soft shake, “Mr. McDuck?!”
Dewey keeps his hands ahold of the injured wing, his eyes glancing back and forth. Did he do something wrong?! Did he give the man a heart attack?!
Donald releases the hand he held, placing his own on the elder’s chest, shaking a bit more urgently, “Unca Scrooge?!”
A weak cough forces itself out, followed by a low grumble, “...Donald...quit yer yappin’...Ah’m nae dead...”
The group takes a much-needed breath as the dark turquoise eyes open once again. Their owner slowly lifting his head up just slightly to glare at his nephew, who, despite his relief, returns the glare, “Well how am I supposed to react when you pass out like that?!”
Eyes narrow. Scrooge is humiliated that he could no longer tolerate the pain, and he had started to feel lightheaded right before his arm had been readjusted. He keeps his beak shut, not wanting to start yet another argument, and instead focuses his attention to left wing.
The boy in blue still clings to said appendage, keeping it a neutral 90° angle. Its owner tests the limb just slightly, moving his fingers that he had long lost feeling in, and extending it just a bit before bringing it back to same position. He’s pleased to find, although sore, the intense pain has lifted. He lets out a soft breath, looking up at the one who had freed him from it, “...thanks, laddie...” The boy smiles back and gives a nod.
Huey is already on the next step, “The arm needs to stay immobile for now; it’s still unstable. We need a sling. Uncle Donald, can I use your sleeves?” At his approval, the sleeves of his sailor uniform are promptly ripped off and tied tightly together. The injured wing is then placed in the makeshift sling as it’s wrapped around the owner’s head. It will work until they get back anyway.
With the initial crisis over, Donald feels it’s long overdue that he acts his age and takes charge of the situation. His brows lower in resolution, “Alright, we need to get back to the plane.” The four children each give a nod in agreement. He looks down at his uncle; he’s awake but seems rather out of it. His head is still carried lower than normal, and it seems he could lose consciousness again at any moment. A shiver wracks his body, most likely from blood loss. He’s going into shock, all the more reason they need to get back as soon as possible.
Donald addresses him, already moving to grab under the other’s knees, “I can carry you; it’ll be faster than having to make you walk.”
Not even a beat passes before, “Absolutely not...”
He frowns, “You stubborn old fool; you’ll exasperate your wounds if you try to walk all the way back!”
The bloodied head lifts again with a glare, his eyes seem a bit unfocused, “...teh clouds’ll part on Dismal Doons b’fore ah let ye carry me...” ...at least nae bridal style...
The nephew snorts in anger, but the senior ignores him, “...help me git on me feet...” He wants to prove to his family, maybe even to himself, that he isn’t as bad off as they think. Or maybe he isn’t thinking properly at all, which is much more likely. The kids glance at one another, reluctant to help. The Scottish duck sluggishly moves his spat-clad feet closer to his body to assist in lifting himself up.
His eldest nephew begins to stand, hanging on to the right hand around the sailor’s neck. A grimace already appears on wounded duck’s face at the stretching in his body. The children all come to aid, grabbing where it looks safest, and together they heave the injured duck to a stand, the rest of the debris falling off him. He stumbles a little, leaning heavily on Donald, before finally stilling. His head swims even more so like this; he fears he may actually lose his breakfast.
His nephew eyes him spitefully, “There, are ya happy?! Even just trying to stand you can hardly catch your breath!”
The heavy panting sends spikes of pain through his left side, making him utter another curse under his breath. But he maintains his glare, only opening a single eye, “...quiet you...!” If he had his cane, he’d whack the other on the head.
While he catches his breath, Webby goes to fetch his hat and spectacles while Louie reaches on his tiptoes to get the cane. Dewey helps support his great uncle on the opposite side of Donald by wrapping his arms around him since Scrooge’s left arm is useless. Huey stays close by in case the other loses his balance again.
Ever the leader, Scrooge tries to take the first step, only to collapse in their hold with a strained bellow. The three only just manage to keep him upright until he once again regains his footing, this time only on his left leg; the right he holds up with a wince.
Huey immediately notices his distress, and kneels down to examine the leg, “There’s a large bruise forming on your shank. You could have a break in there!”
His great uncle lets out a mix between a groan and growl, half in pain, half in agitation. Of course.
Huey only throws fuel on the flame by adding, “You can’t walk on that; you’ll only make things worse!"
The sailor shakes his head, “There’s no choice then. I’m carrying you back to the plane whether you like it or not!”
Scrooge’s glare isn’t as hard as before. His head is still spinning, and the longer he remains upright, the greater the chance of him collapsing grew. His nephew keeps ahold of his right hand, turns, and kneels down in front of him. With his hand still tightly being held, and his sudden support gone, Scrooge has little choice than to carefully climb aboard. His good arm is held around his nephew’s neck as he leans against Donald’s back. Hands come to grab under his knees to keep him in place, and Donald slowly rises to his feet. Scrooge’s weight settles on his own chest, making his side ache at the position, and his bent legs aggravate his hip, but they have little options left. The height still seems dizzying to the entrepreneur, but at least he no longer has to rely on his own body to keep him upright.
Taking a quick glance around to make sure everyone is with him and they haven’t forgotten anything, Donald initiates the hike back to the pathway. Dewey insists on leading to remove any obstacles that might be in the way of his uncles. Donald’s mobility is rather limited now, but he doesn’t complain, and thanks the middle child in making the venture easier. The three ducklings follow behind him, occasionally assisting the blue triplet in moving any branches out of the way to keep anything from hitting their great uncle.
The stone trail seems like a relief to see, and they can travel a bit easier back to the Sunchaser. Donald pauses just for a moment to catch his breath. The jungle is too thick to see the plane, but he hopes the walk will go quickly.
He readjusts his grip on his uncle’s legs, earning a grunt of protest. The lone arm around him has gone rather lax in their short trek, and he can hear the pained breaths in his ear that aren’t meant to be heard. The injured duck hasn’t said a word since they left; he hardly seems conscious. Blood loss comes to mind. Internal bleeding. Something they can’t see on the outside. They need to get Scrooge back and address his wounds as soon as possible. Determined, he begins the journey back to Launchpad and the Sunchaser, praying his uncle will hold out until then.
Chapter 3: But The Broken Bone
A soft hum helps the time pass as Launchpad tinkers around on the Sunchaser. He has to make sure it’ll still fly of course, but waiting for Mr. McDuck and his family to come back from their adventuring is the perfect time to add some upgrades, and fix anything from the most recent crash this morning. He can check supplies and make sure everything is in tip top order with his plane now that he doesn’t have to actually pilot it. Normally he’s occupied being the rich duck’s chauffeur, so he takes advantage of these opportunities. They’ve been gone for a few hours now, but he doesn’t expect them back for at least a couple more. If he runs out of things to do, he can always nap in the meantime.
His daydreaming is cut short as he hears his name being called. Turning to see who it is, three ducklings come out of the thicket and run to his side. He recognizes his best pal Dewey at the lead, Webby close behind, and Louie just a few seconds later, “Guys! Back already? I wasn’t expecting you for a while yet! Was the temple super small or-“
Dewey cuts him off, “Cut the chatter, Launchpad; we need to get home asap!”
The pilot blinks at the young one’s urgency, “Home? Well, home’s quite a few hours away. You know we’re all the way in Central America, right?”
Webby speaks next, “This is an emergency; how fast can we get there?!”
A hand goes to a large beak, “Hmm. If we don’t hit any strong jet streams on the way, I’d say we could be there in just under six hours.” Apparently, that isn’t the right answer.
The youngest triplet puts his hands to the side of his head, “Six hours?!”
The girl looks down, equally as distressed, “But that could be too late!”
Launchpad finally gets a good look at the children. They aren’t the same happy and put together kids that had left just a few hours earlier. Webby’s normally well-kept hair is a bit unruly, her eyes are wide and worried. She holds a black top hat and a pair of spectacles close to her person.
Louie is sweaty, that’s not far from normal in climates like this, but he’s breathing a bit heavier than usual. His eyes are red and swollen like he’d been crying, and he carries a black cane that his hands keep fiddling nervously with.
The adult is confused, “...why do you have Mr. McDee’s things?”
Dewey is probably the most concerning. His typical cool-guy attitude is completely gone and replaced by someone much more anxious and urgent. His hair is also a bit ruffled, but the thing that sticks out the most to the pilot, are the red smears on his shirt and sleeves.
Now that he looks closer, Webby also bears several marks on her hands and clothes. Even Louie’s green hoodie, and nervous hands that fidget with the walking stick, are stained a dark red. That can’t be what he thinks it is...right?
His brows knit together in concern, “...Is that-“
Again, he’s cut off, only this time by himself. Behind the ducklings in front of him, he sees more figures emerging from the tree line. His eyes widen in disbelief. There’s Huey, also showing some dark red staining on his already red clothes and bare arms. He carries two straight branches in one hand. He’s walking just beside Donald, who’s sleeves are missing. He’s by far the most covered in the ruby substance. His arms, hands, body, even his face and hat have scarlet staining. The sight that makes Launchpad start running though, is the crumpled, unmoving body on Donald’s back.
Leaving the children behind him, he runs to the figures only a short distance away. When he finally reaches them, the horror of his boss’s injuries can be seen. His normally well-kept white feathers now anything but. Several bruises have set in, and countless small red rivers flow off his body and onto the one that carries him. The old duck’s eyes are closed, and the pilot fears it’s already too late.
“Mr. McDee! Wh-what happened?!”
To his relief, the dark turquoise eyes open just slightly to acknowledge him, but the eldest duck is too busy with his labored breathing to reply.
Donald never stops his beeline for the plane, “It’s a long story. He’s hurt...bad. We need to get in the air.”
He has high suspicions that his uncle had passed out a few times on the way back. There were moments when the breathing in his ear would become hushed, and he would pick up his pace. Within a few minutes, there would be a slight movement and the heavy breaths would return, signaling to him that old codger was awake, most likely reluctantly, and back in his painful body again.
At last registering what the other had said, Launchpad leaves them in favor of running back to the Sunchaser. He quickly opens the door and begins preparations for takeoff. As much as he wants to help assist in taking care of his employer, no, his family, the best thing he can do is get them all back home as fast and as safely as possible. Scrooge would surely refuse spending any money on a foreign hospital, let alone any hospital.
The group promptly loads up as soon as the door opens, the children each storing their held items in the lockers that line the plane’s side before finding somewhere to stay for the ride. Spare blankets and pillows are kept in the aircraft for use during long travel, but no beds or soft chairs to set their injured companion on. A padded area on the floor would be the best place for now.
Huey and Webby pick a spot on the bottom level of the plane along the wall. There’s no way Scrooge will be able to climb up the ladder to the top level where the chairs are, where they normally sit. The two lay some of the comfier blankets down along with a few pillows to keep the wounded somewhat comfortable.
Donald’s back is aching at this point, his legs trembling with every step, but he refuses to make his uncle stand or even walk to the padded area. Once he’s satisfied with the spot Huey and Webby put together, he moves to the edge and kneels. Scrooge is coherent enough to lift himself off of his nephew, putting his weight on his good leg, and with the help of his great nephews and niece, he eases down and backwards onto the blankets.
The sailor straightens once again, stretching his back with a wince. That journey seemed to take forever, and the old man was heavier than he looked. He looks back at his uncle, now settled on the floor.
The rich duck gives a tired sigh in relief, followed by a light cough. This position is a bit less painful than the previous where he put most of his own weight on his injured ribs. His good arm cradles his left side underneath the sling, providing some support. An exhausted smile reaches his beak, “...thank ye, nephew. Ye held out longer than ah thought ye would.”
His nephew’s concerned face brightens sympathetically for a just a moment, before focusing once again. Donald leaves his uncle to find the plane operator, “Launchpad, is the plane ready?”
The pilot is already up in the cockpit finishing the preparations, “Everything is set! I’m closing the hatch door now!” After flipping a switch, the plane closes them off to the outside world with a metallic thud. Launchpad starts the engines, and the comforting roar of the Sunchaser brings hope the worried family. The air starts to move inside, bringing air conditioning to the overheated ducks, and Louie is already sighing in relief.
A voice announces overhead, “We’re ready for takeoff! Everybody hang on!”
Donald returns to his patient’s right side, making everyone take a seat until the plane had steadied in the air. The children sit around them, each holding on a part of the aircraft or something heavy enough to keep them from sliding to the back. Normally the sailor would make them sit in a chair with a seatbelt for takeoff. Though the ducklings were used to simply grabbing onto something steady for takeoff and landing as Scrooge allowed them to on a regular basis as of late. They of course haven’t, and won’t, tell Donald about that though. He’s allowing them a chance to prove themselves.
The entrepreneur leans on a pillow against the left wall of the plane’s belly, and the sailor sits closely next to him while grabbing ahold of any sturdy piece he can reach with his left hand above his uncle’s head. His right arm wraps around Scrooge’s chest to keep them both in one spot while the aircraft begins to move.
The metal bird taxis along the rough terrain while turning around in preparation for takeoff. The ride so far is less than smooth, and each bump makes the old duck grit his teeth tighter, grunting on particularly irregular ones. The jostling only sends more pain up his side and through his battered body.
Finally, the Sunchaser picks up speed, and the children instinctively hold on tighter. Loose items scattered around inside are bouncing with the movements as they reach top speed. The familiar pressure settles in their heads as their world is slanted while the wheels lose contact with the ground.
The normally tolerable feeling is torture in Scrooge’s pounding head. He grimaces as his body moves backwards with gravity, and limply presses into Donald’s chest as his nephew hangs on to his hold to keep them both from flying to the back of the plane and risk damaging the old man more.
Within seconds, the trees are already small dots underneath them, not that they can see for there are no windows in the plane’s belly. But already they can tell how far up they must be by the gradual straightening of the metal bird around them. Launchpad turns them to the direction of home, and they slowly climb in elevation.
The pilot turns his head to his family, “Alright, we’re gonna go up a bit higher yet, but it should be smooth from here on out.”
The ducks have already relaxed their postures, the pressure starting to lift, and the children are moving back to the uncles to see how they can help. Donald addresses them each in turn, “Huey, get the first aid kit and all the medical supplies you can find. Louie, you climb up there and keep Launchpad focused on flying. Tell him to keep the plane as steady as possible. Webby, you get some fresh water and ice if it hasn’t already melted. Dewey, you stay with me.”
Huey takes off in one direction while Webby runs in the other.
Louie remains where he is with a scowl on his face, “Aw, why do I have to babysit Launchpad? Dewey is his best friend, make him go!”
Donald doesn’t even blink, “We need to dress Scrooge’s wounds, and he’ll probably need stitches. Dewey is here to help me get him undressed and hold him down...but if you want to switch...?”
A quick glance over of his great uncle’s body makes the green nephew turn green with a dry heave. He’s purposely been trying to avoid looking directly at the deep cuts that litter the elderly body and trying to forget that sickening pop the dislocated shoulder had made.
His mind is quickly made up, “You know what? I think I’m gonna go and make sure Launchpad’s attention is on getting us home as quick as possible.” Hands in his shirt pocket, the boy walks towards the ladder in the corner.
His uncle nods with a knowing smile, “Good idea.”
Donald turns back to his patient, who seems to be a bit more alert at the moment, though he’s been quiet. The lack of backtalk worries the duck though, usually Scrooge would have been grumbling about something by now. His eyes droop, probably exhausted, but he’s actively watching what happens around him, that’s a good sign at least.
The eldest nephew puts a hand on Scrooge’s padded shoulder, giving the robe a tug, “We should take this off first so we can see that.” He nods towards the Celtic duck’s hand still tightly cradling his side.
His uncle frowns, “...ye want me tae strip? In front a these wee ones?!” His voice is hoarse, and a well-trained ear can hear the pain in it.
But it does little to sway the sailor, “Please. Now is not the time for modesty. Besides, you don’t wear pants!”
There really is no shame in not wearing any clothes for the ducks, everything is covered by feathers. Clothing is not needed for most in their society, but it’s seen as a proper trend to take part in.
A glare meets Donald’s, but nothing more on the matter is said. The eldest nephew unfastens the buckle around his uncle’s middle first, loosening the belt, before unbuttoning what was left of the tattered coat. Once the buttons are released, Scrooge removes his supporting hand from his side for Donald to pull the sleeve off. The fabric sticks to partly dried blood on the deep laceration along his upper arm, making him hiss at his kin when it’s tugged, pulling some of his feathers along with it. Donald offers a slightly apologetic look but continues anyway.
With one arm free, the sailor on Scrooge’s right and Dewey on his left ease him forward, with a groan on his part, just enough to pass the coat behind him. The blue duckling takes hold of the robe before they let the old man lean against the pillow once again. The avian releases the breath he held at feeling his bones grind together in the short moment.
In the brief glance at Scrooge’s bare back, a deep bruise had already formed along his spine, along with more smaller bruising and superficial cuts scattered along the length of it. But nothing seems to be bleeding terribly there at least. His free hand returns to his side underneath his coat. The reinforcement helps the pain and keeps everything held in one spot, the way it should be.
The two continue undressing their injured uncle as Webby returns with several bottles of water, some towels, and ice in a small bucket. She sits next to Dewey, wrapping some of the ice in a smaller towel. She sits and waits for the two to finish, trying not to appear like she was staring.
It really isn’t an issue; the majority of male ducks she knows don’t wear pants, and of course their swimwear usually consists of shorts and no shirts, so there is truly nothing to hide. Modesty should be one of the lowest on the priority list in this situation anyway. Besides, Webby really isn’t staring at the lack of clothing, she’s mentally taking in the various injuries scattered along her hero’s body.
Donald removes the makeshift sling from around the old duck’s neck as Dewey supports the injured arm. They toss the fabric aside and Donald takes the lead holding onto the arm as Dewey peels off the robe. They carefully lead the injured wing out of it, at last freeing the senior from the tattered coat. The middle child then takes a long sheet they’d found earlier with the spare blankets, and with it forms a new sling that provides much more support than the strips of clothing had.
With the coat gone, the true extent of the rick duck’s injuries is revealed. Black and blue patches can be seen, even through the white feathers. The deep cut on his good arm drains freely down his elbow and onto the blankets below him. A rather large bruise centers over his left hip, most likely one of the many locations the large stone had made contact. His knees are skinned and bloodied, and a darkening bruise lay just below his right one. Webbed, still spat-clad, feet are scuffed and abused, but mostly fine.
Hands, mainly the right, have small bloody scratches and cuts. If he was at all still conscious during his fall, they might be from attempts to catch himself. The bad arm and shoulder are a bit discolored, most likely the initial hit had dislocated it, and it then flopped around uselessly getting more damaged as his body rolled. The darkest bruise sits on his rib cage, currently being hidden by his good hand. Traces of a cut can be seen starting above and stretching below it, and blood flows like a tiny stream down his side.
The once noble face is also cut and beaten, expression looking between a mix of agitated and defeated. A large cut over his left eye bleeds down the side of his face. A welt can be seen in the same location, most likely from the original hit again. The back of his head leaves blood smears on the pillow, but they must be multiple tiny cuts from the rough landing, as no large ones can be seen.
Despite his many injuries, there’s no sign of internal bleeding, at least that can be seen from the outside, though the most probable place, if there is any, would be on the ribcage. If broken, ribs have been known to puncture through lungs and other tissues. For now, they would just have to watch that particular wound closely.
As much as he tries to hide his pain, his family can see through his facade. The biggest sign being his unusually quiet demeanor. If he felt anything like his normal self, he’d be barking orders to the lot of them, and telling them to quit their worrying. Instead, he sits quietly, merely accepting whatever his kin decide to do next. The family can only hope they can provide some sort of relief to his situation.
Dewey steps aside for the time being, his job finished. Webby moves into his spot with her homemade icepack and holds it up to the large knot on Scrooge’s forehead. The rich duck winces at the sudden contact, not expecting it, but soon appreciates the cool sensation, leaning into it slightly. The blood from the cut in the same location had long since dripped past his eye and was running down his beak. The girl frowns, grabbing at a different towel to gently wipe it away, cleaning him up. She earns a tired but appreciative smile back.
Huey has returned with his medical supplies, having to make two trips to bring everything back, including the two branches he’d found in their trek home, “I found one bottle of hydrogen peroxide.”
Donald nods, “We’ll use that to clean the supplies and our hands then, and we’ll just use water to rinse out the sores.”
Eyes widen slightly next to him, and he’s a bit amused to see his uncle suddenly fearing his own kinfolk at the mention of their plans. Sweat forms on the old duck’s brow, but whether it was from anxiety at the inbound escalating of his already tormenting pain or from the fever developing, one can’t be sure.
The sailor looks back to the oldest triplet, “You and Dewey take care of his leg, Webby and I will start cleaning the cuts.”
A tiny hand grabs hold of one finger on the hand that holds tightly to crushed ribs and is led away. “Starting with this,” the female duckling gently lowers the bloodied hand, removing the ice from the other’s head for the time being. This is going to be a tad difficult with the wounded wing hanging right about where the injury was.
Scrooge’s good hand fiddles uneasily on his lap, wanting to cover the wound again as his eyes glance in the opposite direction. The slightest breeze from the air conditioning can be felt in the throbbing injury.
Donald senses Webby’s hesitation and stands on his knees over the entrepreneur to move the bad arm gently up and out of the way without causing injury. A grunt signifies the sensitivity at simply stretching the skin over the laceration, his body turning to the right and away, but the two continue on.
Now being able to see the gash clearly, Webby’s concern grows, and the oldest nephew can see it in her face. The bruise is quite large, and almost completely black. A long and deep cut runs vertically down the length of it, completely soaking the feathers around it in its deep crimson color. If she looks close enough, she can see the laceration is completely down to the bone, separating pieces of muscle and exposing several ribs to the outside world.
Webby cautiously takes a hand and lightly presses along the bruise and isn’t surprised when he flinches away and barks out another string of curses in his native tongue. The bones had moved and crunched together under her light touch, making even her strong stomach turn over, “Sorry, Mr. McDuck.”
There’s that name again! He hates it when she called him by that, it’s as if she’s one of his employees. He mentally takes a note for a later time, though he is unable to physically say anything logical at the moment as he grimaces and trembles, trying to recover from the painful assault. He’s now laying more so on his right side in a feeble attempt to get away.
Even though Donald can’t see the full injury itself at his position, from Webby and Scrooge’s reaction, he knows it’s severe. Though he risks the question anyway, “How bad is it?”
The duckling’s face remains apprehensive as her solemn, almost purple, eyes flick to him, “I-It’s...bad...”
How such an injury even occurred she’s not completely sure. The broken and damaged ribs could be from the force of the swinging boulder. The laceration perhaps from the sharp surface, or it’s possible the duck had landed on a particularly sharp stone during his decent. However it happened, it was going to definitely need some medical attention, “It looks down to bone, and there’s definitely some broken ribs in there. That’s probably what’s causing the cough.”
The sailor’s face turns grim at her statement with a worried hum, “Do you know how to sew up wounds?”
The girl nods her head, “Granny made sure I at least had a general idea of it in my survival classes. It might not be pretty, but I can do it.” As much as she hated being the object of Scrooge’s pain, she wanted to help as much as she could.
Donald had brief training in the navy as well. He was no doctor, but he wanted to know how to sew up a laceration to stabilize the injured until professional medical help was accessible. It had proven useful on multiple occasions since then. He had used his abilities on adventures with his family. Della and Scrooge would get the occasional cut here and there that needed stitches; such hazards come with the territory. Plus raising three boys was not always without incident either. Though this would be the most he’s ever done in one sitting. He’s grateful to be able to split up the work with the young duckling and trusts in her abilities despite her modesty.
He dips his head in return, “Good. You and I can each sew up the worst cuts. Normally, I’d offer to switch with you for this particular one, but I have a feeling we’re gonna have a resistant patient on our hands, and someone is going to have to keep him still.”
A snort makes him glance at the source of their attention, who’s looking off to his right with an annoyed expression. The girl stifles a smile and nods in agreement. As the two start their preparations of sewing up the large gash, they let the old duck move back to his original position to rest for the time being.
Meanwhile, Huey and Dewey have been conversing on how to stabilize Scrooge’s possibly broken leg. The eldest triplet had found two fairly straight branches on the way back and had brought them along with the thought of this in mind, “Alright, the idea is this: we use these two branches to keep any potential bones that might be broken or fractured in the right positions. It’ll also help keep the leg stable and prevent any further injury.”
The middle triplet nods, “Seems simple enough. Tell me what I need to do.”
The two work together to tear a pillowcase into small strips of fabric a few inches wide and the same length as the original casing. When they have a total of seven made, they slide each strip underneath the injured leg, trying to move the limb itself as little as possible. Once placed, Huey lines a stick on either side of the appendage the long way. The sticks begin just at knee level, and end just above the ankle, “I’ll keep the branches in place, you tie everything together. Remember, it has to be tight to be stable.”
Dewey recognizes his brother is giving him a warning. Tying the makeshift splint together could be painful, and he’s currently sitting next to the uninjured leg. If Scrooge lashes out, Dewey will be caught in the crossfire.
The boy takes in his positioning, looking to his right at his great uncle. Webby and Donald are setting out the supplies. They’re rinsing the blood off their dirtied hands with bottled water and afterwards use the hydrogen peroxide to try and clean up as best as possible. They wouldn’t be sterile, but at least they wouldn’t be as soiled while trying to stitch up the lacerations. Though with all this happening around him, Scrooge’s eyes are on the blue lad at his feet. Whether he had heard what the two were talking about over the chatter of his niece and nephew can’t be known. Maybe he’s not even aware of what’s happening, or that he’s looking directly at Dewey, but he says nothing.
The blue garbed boy looks back to his task at hand. If he gets kicked, so be it. He has a job to do, and he’s going to do his best at it. He takes both ends of the first strip of fabric that sits around the ankle and starts to tie. He pulls tightly at the ends, making the sticks press snugly against the limb.
Huey watches the old miser out of his peripheral vision, just in case the other decides to even change position. But he doesn’t move a muscle, so Dewey continues to the next tie. The second and third each go without incident. At the tightening of the fourth tie, the oldest triplet can see the rich duck’s eyes widen suddenly. The branches are now starting to put straightening pressure on the bones inside. But still, he remains silent, though he is hyper focused on what the middle triplet is doing now.
Huey turns his head ever so slightly in their patient’s direction, not to look at him, but to give Dewey a warning that he has started to react. The blue nephew catches his movements and ties the next strip cautiously as it’s now directly over the bruised area. He reminds himself that the ties must be fitted snugly to provide stability and pulls the ends, drawing the branches even closer around the leg.
At the sensation, Scrooge barely manages to stifle the end of a shout, resolving to growl instead at his great nephews, eyes still boring holes into them. His good hand having shot out to grab at Donald’s arm just above the wrist, who squawks in surprise and pain; he needs to squeeze something, to distract himself from wanting to shove the tiny duckling away. Scrooge’s left leg bends up in reaction, but he restrains it from moving any farther, gritting his teeth. Only two more. Only two.
The middle triplet flinched away at his uncle’s outburst, afraid of an incoming kick in the ribs, but when it never came, he saw it as his opportunity to continue. He moves back to his previous position, Huey following him. He too had moved briefly at the movement.
They move to the sixth tie, Dewey once again reminding himself to be tight with a deep breath. He crosses the two over, one under, and pulls with all his might. Scrooge’s flinch moves him slightly, and the strained cry reaches his ears, as well as his uncle’s whose arm is being tightly squished. Dewey may have to make another splint after all this.
At the sounds of distress, Louie peeks over the edge of the balcony. His great uncle is now completely stripped of clothing, how and why that happened, he doesn’t want to know. But there’s a new sling around the other’s neck, and it seems much better than the previous.
Huey and Dewey are carefully poised at Scrooge’s right leg, his left having now drawn up, leaving his foot pressed tightly against his rump. Webby sits on his left, needles and bandages are laid out next to her; Louie definitely doesn’t want to see what she’s going to do with those. Donald sits on the other side, one arm in Scrooge’s clutches as he beats the ground with his other fist, holding back his pained cries.
“Everything ok down there?” The youngest triplet is almost afraid to ask.
The female duckling yells up at him, “Everything’s fine! Just putting a splint on Mr. McDuck’s leg!”
The pilot winces in sympathy behind him, “Sounds like it hurts! Poor Mr. McDee.”
Louie looks back at Launchpad, “...H-he’ll be fine...how long has it been?” He’s eager to change the subject, not wanting to think of the alternative.
The pilot looks back at him for a brief moment, “It hasn’t even been half an hour! Still got a ways to go...unfortunately.”
The nephew flinches at another pained shout, moving back to his previous seat next to the pilot. He leans his head on a hand with a loud groan, “Ugh, this is gonna take forever.”
Chapter 4: Once Set Together
Pants leave the old duck as he regains his breath, coughing weakly here and there. Scrooge just barely succeeded in restraining himself from giving his third nephew a swift kick across the plane’s belly. He releases his death grip on Donald’s arm, who promptly rubs it with a wince. He lowers his left leg once again. His injured hip had been throbbing at the movements, but that pain had been numbed in comparison to what his kin were doing to him. He attempts to force himself to relax for a brief moment.
Dewey and Huey have moved aside, the broken leg now successfully splinted. They’re some pride showing in their faces, but mainly they’re just happy to have escaped unscathed. Scrooge glances at his lower limb. It seems straighter now than before; the two had done a good job, they should be proud of themselves, just like he is.
Breath now returning, his gaze rises back to his great nephews with a long blink, “...good lads...” It’s all he can manage right now. But it’s enough. The two give a small sympathetic smile back to him.
With that taken care of, Webby and Donald are ready to move on, whether he is or not. His first nephew is already lifting his bad arm up and away again. A whine wants to force its way out, but he puts an end to it before it even begins. They mean well, he knows, but the exhaustion of the whole ordeal is seriously catching up to him. He’d already lost consciousness more than once and can’t promise he won’t again. The concussion still makes his stomach twist and turn with every passing second, and there’s no way he could walk a straight line with the dizziness that plagues him. Lying more on his right hip again to give Webby access to the injury, he uses his good elbow for support, but it’s already trembling under his weight.
The girl duckling puts a towel on the floor in front of her to soak up any fluid and opens up a fresh water bottle. Donald kneels next to her, one leg on either side of his uncle, almost straddling without putting his own weight on the other. He delicately holds the bad wing out of the way with his right hand and places his left on Scrooge’s right ribcage to keep him in place and prevent him from moving away.
With the old duck pinned in a sense, Webby starts to pour the water over the wound. The oldest nephew immediately tightens his hold as the injured avian starts to thrash weakly with a groan between his clenched teeth. The boys see the struggle and assist their uncle in restraining, Dewey holding down the legs that have started to kick and Huey running around to the other side. He kneels next to the rich duck’s right side near his head, holding his shoulder in place and helping in any way he can to prevent any further injury.
Webby’s brows furrow, she hates having to see her hero recoil in pain by her own hand, but she knows it’s what is best. He would tell her not to hesitate if he were in his right mind. She steels her nerves, fighting her conflicting emotions, and continues. Her fingers circle around the inside of the cut and between the skin flaps, cleaning out any dirt and debris that might have gathered. A breathless gasp meets her ears as water and blood pool together on the floor.
The pain is too much. Scrooge wants to tell her to stop, he can’t take it anymore. He’s ashamed of himself; the toughest of the toughies fighting a wee lass over a boo-boo. But this boo-boo hurts like he couldn’t imagine. The ribcage possesses only a thin layer of skin and hardly any fat deposits over it, making it an extremely sensitive spot on the body to begin with. As if the cut wasn’t enough, every time her small fingers move back and forth, he could feel the bones shift around inside. The assault to his already broken body makes his supporting arm finally give way and he lands on top of Huey beside him, forcing Donald and Webby to adjust their positioning as the bloodied mess pools onto the blankets beneath him. Blast me bagpipes, this is worse than me arm!
The oldest triplet is knocked over by the force of his great uncle falling on him and he lands on his rump, the entrepreneur’s head landing in his small lap as a cough leaves him again. Huey is unsure what to do for a moment as his uncle’s now free hand squeezes the quilts below them. He’s almost certain he saw the dark turquoise eyes were moist when they widened with the pained wheeze; he’s never seen the old man cry before.
His uncertainty is replaced by his older brother instincts. Many a night has he calmed his younger brothers after a nightmare or provided support when they had fallen and scraped a knee. He’s dealt with this before, it was no different, the subject was simply older than he in this situation. He just needs to calm the other down.
He places his tiny right hand over the larger one tightly clinging to the blankets. It’s cool and clammy to the touch. His other is placed on the man’s head, gently running his fingers through the tufts of soft feathers there and combing out any debris or dried blood clumps. He’s careful to avoid any cuts that are still actively bleeding.
The action is supposed to be soothing, but from his position he can see his Scrooge’s eyes open wide in surprise. The back of his head is to the boy’s stomach, and the child can only see his left eye as it searches, seemingly unsure how to react. No one had ever done this to him before. He’d lived his whole life without being comforted, and he isn’t exactly sure how to respond to the gesture.
Though as Webby’s cleansing reaches the deeper sections of the wound, all thought is replaced by pain again, and his eyes close tightly with a grimace and a grunt. Huey can faintly feel the hand beneath his open just slightly to release the blankets and allow his own hand inside the tight squeeze. The body atop his stifles as many sounds as possible and attempts to keep motionless, head turning more towards the floor beneath them and inadvertently closer to his own frame. Huey chooses not to say anything, to protect what little pride the old man has left. He was just happy to help in whatever way he could.
Finally, the tortuous cleaning stops as the girl moves on to her curved needle, “I’m gonna start sewing this up now, Mr. McDuck. Please try to hold still.” She doesn’t want to stab any more than she has to or cause more damage to the avian beneath her whose thrashing has started to still.
Webby receives a soft grunt in response, and starts with the innermost muscle layer, using the needle much like one would if you were to sew up a hole in a piece of clothing. Each puncture makes a tiny red stream form to join the already flowing river as she pulls the meat back together. When too much blood blocks her view, she uses some gauze from the first aid kit to dab it away and continues her needlework. Her patient trembles but sits surprisingly still. What makes her move faster however, are the now quick, shallow breaths forming beneath her quaking hands.
Donald notices the odd breathing rate now, too. His eyebrows furrowing as he cranes his head over to look at his uncle, “Scrooge?”
No verbal answer, just more rapid breathing. Dewey peeks over the sailor’s shoulder to see what’s happening, the legs he was holding down have stopped fighting him.
Webby finishes the muscle layer and urgently moves on to the second, the subcutaneous layer, trying to finish as soon as possible. The bleeding has dramatically lightened already, but each new puncture still causes more to form. She can see the old duck is starting to turn a bit more pale. She needs to get this bleeding under control.
Huey gives the body on his lap a light shake to get a response as he tries to see the other’s face. Eyes are tightly closed, beak open to pant, but no reply. The cold hand is still tightly squeezing his own, but he feels it would go lax if he moved away, “I think he might have passed out again!”
Blood loss, fainting, shivering, paleness, rapid breathing; Donald can easily recognize the shock is getting worse. He frowns, “I don’t like the way he’s breathing. How’s it coming, Webby?”
Said duckling can feel the pressure now, her hands shaking as she works. It’s not easy to sew a cut when it’s moving so much! The ribcage rapidly expands and deflates, moving the laceration as it does. She keeps her face focused to not let on how much she’s panicking inside, “I’m almost done with the hypodermic layer, then I just have the skin left!”
There’s a wheeze starting to form in the breaths. Donald’s brows knead together even more, “He’s having trouble.”
The eldest triplet’s fingers never cease combing the thick feathers, still attempting to calm the one beneath him, “If we had an oxygen mask, that might help!”
Dewey is already standing and turning to the flight deck, “Launchpad! Do you have an oxygen mask in here?!”
The pilot’s head turns to shout back, “I have one up here in the cockpit, but I think there’s a portable one in the back!”
The middle child puts his hands up towards the other, “Don’t move, just keep flying! Tell me where it is!”
“The locker where the medical supplies are kept; there’s a compartment built in the back; it should be in there!”
The youngest triplet turns around and walks to the balcony in time to see Dewey running to the back of the plane in search for the locker, “Why do you need a...”
He cuts himself off, stomach dropping at the sight. He can see the limp figure on the floor, face hidden by his uncle kneeling over it. He can barely see Huey on the floor, his face is upset. Webby is across him on the other side, her back to Louie, thankfully hiding whatever she’s working on. The once white towel on the floor at her feet, now a crimson color, doesn’t help his queasiness.
Dewey carries a mask in one hand and trails a dark green tank behind him. He stops next to Huey and they start turning the knobs on the tank. Donald uses his free hand to lift the oxygen mask up to his own face, testing to see if it’s working. It must be, as he hands it back to the other triplets who begin fidgeting with what he assumes is his great uncle’s face. The view is still hidden, and he can feel his anxiety starting to well up.
Launchpad turns his head to the green triplet again, “What’s going on?”
Louie ignores the question, and yells out his own to the group below, leaning over the balcony railing to try and see, “Is he ok?!”
Donald turns his head to him, “He passed out again! He was breathing a little funny but he’s fine now!”
Louie breathes in relief. For a second, he thought they were losing the old codger. He watches for a bit longer, before turning back to his seat next to the pilot, “He’s ok.”
The phrase repeats in his head, as if still convincing himself. Launchpad looks concerned but turns his head back to the sky before them.
Dewey glances at his elder brother next to him, who returns the worried expression. Their uncle hadn’t been completely honest with their youngest sibling. Louie was exceptionally emotional, and Donald had tried to reassure him that everything was under control. But the truth was even after they had fitted the mask around Scrooge’s beak, his breathing still has yet to return to normal. Fog forms in the front of the clear mask with every breath, the same troubled expression on his face.
Webby finishes her last stitch on the skin and cuts the extra length away. The black stitches stick out on the white feathers, but at least the bleeding has mostly stopped now. The feathers themselves turned out to be quite bothersome in trying to get her needle around, but at last the gash is back together. She puts down her instruments and picks up the water bottle again, rinsing her work clean once more. The blood stains are still present as well as the deep bruise, but the injury itself looks much better. A clean towel dabs up the moisture and dries the feathers. The duckling sits back with a sigh, her face now finally showing her concern as she looks up at the sailor.
Donald leans over to look at her work before smiling back to her, “And you said it wouldn’t be pretty.”
Webby gives a small, half-hearted smile in thanks. The duck lowers the injured wing once again and moves away to sit next his nephews.
With the laceration now being left alone, the family notices the rich duck’s breath starting to slow down. Each breath gets deeper and his whole body seems to relax, the pained expression now moving to a neutral one, and the grip on Huey’s hand softens.
The eldest triplet continues running his left hand through the soft feathers on his great uncle’s head, “That’s better. I think he’s ok now.”
Donald stretches before reaching for the needles and tools beside Webby, “Good. Let’s keep cleaning the cuts while he’s out.”
Donald’s steady hands work to bring the thin skin back together on his uncle’s forehead. Several minutes have already ticked by since Scrooge lost consciousness once again, this one is lasting longer than the other rather short ones before. Despite their worry, the group is actively taking advantage of it by cleaning the rest of the wounds scattered across his body. Ice packs are resting along the stinted leg to prevent anymore swelling from starting and ease what’s already inflamed. Most of the small cuts just needed cleaning, and Webby takes the initiative by rinsing them out with the water and then drying them afterwards with a towel.
Before moving along, Webby examines the large bruise over the left hip, lightly pressing around the bone. Nothing moves with her probes and the bones feel normal, though there is definitely some swelling around the joints. It’s most likely a deep tissue injury, and the bone might be bruised, but at least it doesn’t seem broken. With Scrooge’s age, his bones should be brittle; it’s a miracle more of them aren’t shattered.
Finished with the wounds here, Webby moves up to where the rest of the group are sitting. Dewey sits next to the green oxygen tank, making sure it doesn’t tip over. Donald’s sitting on his knees as he sews up the cut on Scrooge’s head, which rests in Huey’s lap.
The red garbed boy strokes the long feathers on the side the man’s face to keep out of the way of his uncle’s work; they’re much softer than he’d expected.
The girl duckling dampens a fresh towel and pats at the back of the rich duck’s head. Most of the small cuts there have clotted already, but she’s gentle. He most likely hit there when he landed, and it’s surely sensitive.
The old codger’s face twitches and they all notice, he’s been immobile since he lost consciousness. Webby finishes her cleaning and removes the towel. The sailor takes one last chunk of skin as he starts the last stitch and there’s a flinch in reaction. Two dark turquoise eyes open slowly, and he hurries to complete it. The blue pools are unfocused at first and simply blink in reaction to him tying it off and cutting away the excess.
As Donald sits back, the eyes suddenly widen as their owner’s mind becomes aware of his surroundings. His breathing increases slightly, and he then notices the mask around his beak. The hand holding Huey’s lets go and grabs at the mask as his breathing picks up to a panic; he’s unsure of what’s happening. Years of living on his own has made him expect the worst and awakening in this strange situation makes his mind assume he’s in the presence of an enemy. He can’t show weakness; he attempts to sit up in his confusion.
The eldest triplet seizes his hand before he can remove the mask and makes him pause in his movements, “No, no, no! It’s ok, you’re ok. Take deep breaths, in, and out. In, and out.”
The boy makes the old duck focus on him. Huey breathes with him, in and out. The eyes are large in alertness, but he watches the child closely, and follows his instruction, forcing his lungs to take longer, deeper breaths to calm himself.
Scrooge’s eyes lower and blink as his body starts to relax, his mind returning to him. He lowers himself back to the boy’s lap; he’s not among enemies, he’s among family; he can lower his guard. His hand remains on the oxygen mask, but he doesn’t remove it, yet.
Huey strokes his head again, “Good. Just breathe.”
He glances around him, noticing other family members looking down at him. Dewey sits next to the boy in red, holding on to what he assumes is the oxygen tank his mask is connected to. Webby sits next to the middle child, holding a crimson stained white towel. Donald sits next to her and beside himself. His own body is in an arc of sorts and wrapped around his first nephew. He doesn’t know how he got like this. Of course, he recalls the events that transpired earlier, his aching body making it hard for him to forget, but he doesn’t remember feeling faint.
Donald watches his uncle closely. Eyes glance around the room and at each of them, before finally locking with his own. He can see the confusion in them, silently asking ‘what happened?’ He answers the old man’s wordless question, “You passed out again while Webby was stitching up your side. You started having trouble breathing, so we found this oxygen tank and hooked you up to it.”
Scrooge’s eyebrows furrow in what seems to be annoyance; he doesn’t like being doted over. Before anyone can stop him, he pulls the oxygen mask off his beak, and starts to push himself up to a sitting position with a grimace. His kin bark at him to stay still and lay low, but he ignores them until he can finally rest against the pillow leaning on the Sunchaser’s side. He lets out a breath before addressing his family, “...Oh quit yer worryin’. Ah’m fine.” His body rests heavily against the plane’s wall as his head spins with the sudden vertical position. Eyes close to keep the world from revolving before them.
The family can say little to sway the stubborn duck, they all know from experience. Instead of insisting he should lay back down, they decide to finish what they started. Scrooge had been laying on his right side, which prevented any wounds on that portion of his body from being cleaned. There are still a few small cuts that need attention, but the biggest one is the large laceration on his upper right arm. The gash had already made a bloody stain on the blankets where he had previously been lying a short time ago, and most of his feathers on that side are now a dark crimson color.
Webby is the first to start dabbing away at the smaller scrapes here and there, making the old duck open his eyes at the sudden probing, but he does nothing to stop her. Dewey turns the oxygen tank off, seeing as his great uncle was bound and determined not to use it anymore. But instead of returning it to the medical locker, he lays the tank on its side and pushes it only a short distance from them in case they would need it again. Huey readjusts the ice packs that have moved away from the broken leg to cover it again as Donald moves closer to inspect the bleeding arm.
The cut isn’t life-threatening, but deep, and would definitely need some stitches. Putting more towels underneath them, the sailor takes his bottle of water and starts to dump it over the wound, instantly sending a crimson river flowing down the other’s arm. Scrooge flinches, mainly from the sudden cold water running down his arm as he glares at his nephew, who promptly begins cleaning out the gash with searching fingers once again.
The rich duck grunts, leaning a little away from his kin, “Must ye git every nook ‘n cranny?!”
A scowl reaches his, “I’d hate for you to lose your arm from infection after I missed all the dirt in here and then closed it up!”
An eyeroll with a groan in frustration, but Scrooge doesn’t snap back.
Even though they argue, Donald can honestly say he’s happy his uncle is putting up a fight again, it means he’s starting to feel a bit more like himself. The sailor worried when his usually tenacious uncle never once retorted to them. As much as he wants to sigh in relief and even hug the man for the simple reassurance that the old cheapskate’s still alive, things still aren’t right between the two of them. He knows it, and he’s sure Scrooge is aware of it as well, but neither are the best at talking about their feelings. Thankfully that could wait for now, there were more pressing matters that needed to be dealt with.
He picks up the instruments again, hoping these would be the last stitches he has to do for a long time. He brings the needle to the muscle layer first, taking a decent sized chunk to start bringing back together. His uncle winces and grunts at the sharp stabbing but tries his best to remain still. Being able to physically feel your muscles being tied together is a strange sensation, and one that is not exactly comfortable. The old duck shifts a little, trying to distract himself as his nephew continues down his line of sutures.
Donald would almost prefer it if Scrooge was sleeping again now. The way he recoils and fidgets is not making this an easy job. At least when he was unconscious, he held still. The sailor feels bad for the young duckling that had to sew up the large laceration on the rib cage half an hour ago.
In the midst of his uncle’s writhing, his needle unintentionally pushes deeper than planned, drawing out a bigger trail of the red fluid. A yip rewards him as the body flinches away a few good inches, snarling, “Take it easy!”
He’s blamed for it, of course. He hisses back, “Well stop your squirming!”
The old codger snarls back at him, “Ah’m only squirmin’ because yer bein’ too rough!”
There is no gentle way to sew up a laceration; it’s not going to be painless. Donald’s eyes narrow as he draws out his trump card, “Would you rather we have Mrs. B take care of this when we get back?!”
Immediate silence...followed by a few grumbles under the Scottish duck’s breath in his Gaelic tongue.
Scrooge knows better than to have his housekeeper, Mrs. Beakley, dress wounds. The woman was a secret agent and a better bodyguard than he could ever hope for, but she was not known for her gentle nature. On the few occasions the world’s richest duck had been injured, she lived up to her ruthless and merciless nature. Sure, his wounds had healed well and were properly taken care of, but the pain involved in her rehabilitation techniques were worse than the initial injuries themselves. Even her own granddaughter, Webbigail, had learned at a young age to dress her own scrapes and cuts les she fall victim to her grandmother’s unforgiving methods.
At the housekeeper’s name, Webby visibly winces at the thought. Her reaction only seals Scrooge’s hesitation at having Mrs. Beakley sew up and dress his injuries. Instead of arguing or retorting more, he looks in the other direction and holds his body as still as he is able. His attempts prove to be beneficial for his nephew, who finally finishes the muscular layer and can move on to the second layer.
The girl duckling has moved to Scrooge’s left side to be out of Donald’s way, though she continues her cleaning by leaning over and carefully patting the cuts. There’s a particularly sore looking mark over his right collar bone, and she gently dabs away at it, trying in vain to clean the gravel and dirt from the scrapes. He winces with a strained grunt, whether from her or the sailor’s doing one can’t be sure, but her dark eyes still flick up to his in sympathy, “Sorry.”
He shakes his head just slightly, a bit unnerved at the look in them, “Don be, ‘s nae yer fault.”
There’s an awkward silence at that. No one replies as it seems everyone is lost in their own thoughts. The rich duck notices how the many pairs of eyes that were looking at him just a second ago, now glance away as their owners pretend to be busy with whatever they can occupy their hands with. He furrows his brows; what’s going through their heads?
With his mind distracted, he fails to notice his nephew move to the skin layer on his wound, and before he knows it, the gash is already completely sewed up. Donald leans away with a sigh, “There. Now at least you won’t bleed out before Mrs. B can get ahold of you.”
Scrooge stifles a groan. There’s sure to be many choice words filling his ears when they get back. He’d rather his kin have left him in the jungle.
But at last, his wounds have been tended to, at least until they get home. For now, they can relax and try to forget about what had happened. The entrepreneur feels a shiver starting in his frame again. Blood loss is cruel to the body. He’d tried to ignore it as best he could before, but now it’s proving to be too much.
Donald notices the trembling right away, finds a thick blanket, and promptly covers his uncle with it, tucking it in around him. Scrooge wants to retort at being babied but can’t find it in him as the warm quilt gradually rises his body’s temperature. His nephew places a hand on his forehead, mindful of the stitched-up cut, and hums in thought, “You still feel like you have a fever. Try to get some sleep.”
The rich duck blinks slowly back in response; his body feels heavy.
After cleaning up the mess they had made, the two boys and Webby all but passed out in various locations along the plane’s floor. They were utterly exhausted, merely running on adrenaline this whole time to make sure the rich duck would survive. Donald had sat down a little way away from Scrooge, leaning against the plane’s side. It was obvious he was having trouble staying awake as well, his eyes closing longer at every blink, head lowering.
The old duck can’t but feel pride in his kin. They had taken such great care of him already, ignoring their own needs. He adjusts a little, trying and failing to get comfortable as the dull pain relentlessly throbs throughout his frame, his shivers only exasperating it. A few minutes pass before the soft snoring informs him of his nephew succumbing to the fight. He closes his eyes as well, trying to at least rest and ignore his body’s complaints.
Chapter 5: Is Stronger
The sudden quiet is a bit unsettling. Louie stands from his chair to peek over the balcony again at his family below. His great uncle is covered by a thick white blanket from feet all the way to his shoulders, eyes closed and head resting back on the pillow behind him. His uncle sits a yard or two away to the rich duck's right, leaning against the plane's side, head hanging, and hands folded over his middle, obviously asleep from the snores emanating from him. Huey's on the opposite side, sleeping on his left with back to the plane's wall. Dewey and Webby lay in the middle of the plane, a couple yards away from Scrooge. The middle child sleeps on his back, arms and legs sprawled out and away from his body in a starfish like position. Webby rests on her front, head turned to her right and away from the others resting on one hand.
It seems safe to go back down. The youngest triplet can feel his own tired body longing for a rest, he'd like to join the others in their slumber. But there's something else that pulls him towards them, something he's been trying to avoid.
He turns to Launchpad, hands in his pocket, "I'm gonna go down there, you ok up here by yourself?"
The pilot nods, "All good here. We still have a little less than 5 hours to go yet."
Louie nods his head in return and turns to go down the ladder. He's not concerned leaving the other alone, the main reason he had come up here was to be away from the bloody scene below. Launchpad is more than capable of keeping them on the right path, as he's proven many times before. Landing of course is a different story, but one they wouldn't have to worry about for several hours.
As he reaches the ground floor and turns back to where his family sleeps, he almost jumps at seeing the dark turquoise eyes watching his every move. He must have wakened the old duck; he had thought he was being quiet though. Placing his hands back in his hoodie pocket, he silently walks over to his great uncle, pausing at his covered feet.
He speaks quietly to not wake the others, "Hey, you're awake? How ya doin'?"
Scrooge doesn't move, his voice low but soft, "Bin better."
Louie's green eyes show concern, though his face tries to mask it in his usual neutral stare. His gaze sweeps around the rich duck, but with the blanket covering, he can't see any of the injuries, except the large gash on the left forehead that's quickly forming a black eye. It's the first time he can really look at his great uncle again without his stomach churning at the sight of blood, though he avoids looking straight in the eyes. There are still some red-brown smears over the other's face and head in places, but not nearly as severe as it had been, "Looks like they patched ya up."
Scrooge's beak dips slightly, "They did well, teh lot o' them."
The youngest triplet's gaze falls to the ground and away, as if contemplating something. This isn't the first time he's been avoiding looking directly at the rich duck. Anytime his eyes fall on the one before him, it's brief and uncomfortable, as if it pains him to look at the other.
His great uncle can read him despite his efforts to hide; it's the same expression a young Donald used to wear when he felt guilty. The wealthy loner isn't the best talking about feelings, and speaking in general isn't the easiest thing right now, but it seems the boy needs to get something off his chest, "Is there somethin' ye want tae talk aboot?"
Louie is taken aback by the question, but sighs in defeat and pads over to the Scottish duck's right side, sliding down the plane's wall and taking a seat beside him, knees drawn up to his chest. For a while neither of them says anything.
Scrooge straightens his posture a bit, wincing. The blanket loosens around him and he lowers it to his lap, laying his good arm overtop it. His head turns towards the duckling beside him, "What's on yer mind, laddie?"
Louie's eyes glance at him in his peripheral vision. With the blanket moved, the boy can see several bruises and scrapes littering his great uncle's torso, as well as the long row of stitches on his upper right arm and left still in its sling. He purposefully sat on this side to avoid the gory, stitched and bruised ribcage, but his hesitance to face his great uncle is no longer just because of the injuries that have now stopped leaking the red liquid.
"I..." His voice faulters as he searches for the words he wants, "I feel...bad..."
"Yer nae well?"
Bangs shake with their owner's head, "No, I mean...I feel bad for you..."
Scrooge blinks, "Fer me? Ye donnae have tae pity me fer what happened."
Louie shakes his head slightly again, "It's not that. I mean, yea I feel bad about you getting hurt but," he pauses again, eyes glancing around on floor in front of him, "I feel bad because, the first thing that came to my head was, 'at least it wasn't Uncle Donald.'"
The old duck is silent next to him, and the boy's legs draw closer to his frame as he cradles them, resting his chin on his knees. He feels as if the man next to him must be offended by the statement, but still nothing is said. He can't bear to even peek at Scrooge now, not wanting to see the pained expression that was surely on the elder's face.
Louie needs to explain, he can't just leave things there as much as he wants to stop already, eyes starting to well up, "If Uncle Donald was the one that got hit...if he had..." He cuts himself off with a sniff, but Scrooge knows what he meant. If he had died.
Donald is certainly younger than himself, but also is not on good terms with Lady Fortuna. Would the sailor had survived the same ordeal he went through? It was a miracle he survived. Donald was the only parent the boys had ever known, and without him, what would become of them?
Louie lifts his head a little, "He raised us, if something happened to him...I don't wanna think about life without him in it...But I'm so," he grabs the feathers on the sides of his head tightly, squeezing his eyes shut, "disgusted with myself for even having a thought like that! Being relieved that it was you and not him!"
Hot tears are flowing down his cheeks now, and he wraps his arms tightly around his knees once again, "I never wanted anything to happen to you, Uncle Scrooge." His eyes stare off ahead of him, a haunted look in them, "And then seeing you all...bloody and hurt!" He looks at his crimson stained sleeves and hands as one reaches his face, "That picture's stuck in my head! I feel so guilty! How could I ever think something that terrible?!"
The green eyes shimmer up at him as the boy finally looks at his great uncle, wounds and all, expecting to see disappointment. Instead, the boy sees a small smile.
Scrooge's eyelids lower slightly, "The same thought ran through my head."
Louie's eyes widen, "W-What?"
The rich duck takes a breath, "The last thing ah want is one 'a ye gitten hurt. Ah'd do anythin' in me power tae keep that from happenin', even if it means puttin' meself at risk." The elder can't be upset with the boy for being thankful his guardian was spared; he was never mad at the duckling to begin with.
Louie blinks a few times, tears still actively running down his flushed cheeks as he wipes at his nose with his sleeve with a sniff. He looks away again, still not completely convinced he shouldn't be ashamed of himself, and that the other isn't angry at him.
His great uncle continues, "Louie, we cannae help what runs through our heads sometimes, but ye have nothin' tae be sorry fer. Ah knoo ye didnae mean any harm."
The young duckling looks back up at him, seeing the same warm smile that was there before. The old duck really isn't upset? Not hurt or offended by what he had said? What the other had said runs through his own head; Scrooge would gladly trade his own life if it meant keeping his family safe. He has no regrets.
Louie sniffs again, and scoots closer to the bigger avian's side, before leaning his head against the right wing, avoiding the large gash. His tiny arms wrap around the rich duck's, clinging to the other.
Scrooge blinks in surprise at the outward affection, he's not the best at this either. But his smile returns, and he pats the boy's knee next to him, "There, there, laddie. 's alright."
They stay like that for a long time, neither saying anything more. Soon the sniffles at his side stop, and the boy's breathing becomes deep and regular. Scrooge glances down, seeing the duckling's eyes are closed, fast asleep. He smiles again, laying his head back with a sigh. Eyes close to try and rest once more, unaware that the sailor's snoring had ceased a while ago.
He's running through the jungle, jumping over dead trees and avoiding the large green leaves that hang in his path. Small branches grab at his face and leave scratches, but he can't worry about that now.
His webbed feet carry him as fast as they can until they reach their destination: a small clearing in the usually dense forest. Here he pauses, taking in what lies in wait for him, what he's been searching for. A bloodied and broken body that he never thought could look so...mortal. He runs to the body, quickly looking for any signs of life. There is none.
He pants in exertion and disbelief. Dead. He's dead. Impossible! Scrooge McDuck had already lived well past his life expectancy. The death-defying stunts he pulls on a day to day basis only keep him more alive! He shouldn't be dead, can't be dead! But there's no breathing beneath his fingers, and his white feathers are actively soaking up the crimson stains. There's no heart beating in the chest. He's kneeling in a pool of his great uncle's life source.
As if they were ghosts, his family manifests beside him, all expressing the same horror as he is. His younger brother his sobbing in between his vomiting episodes in the bushes at the gore of the scene. His older brother is paging through his beloved book in his shaking hands, as if trying to believe there still might be some glimmer of hope. Though there's tears running down his face as he refuses to acknowledge what's before him. Webby's hot tears drip onto their elder's face as she cradles his head, trying desperately to hold back her sobs.
Suddenly he's pushed away, falling on his posterior as he retreats backward a ways. His uncle kneels to the ground, facing away from him, body leaning over the motionless one. His shoulders tremble in between sobs, he's never seen his uncle cry so hard before.
As if sensing his thoughts, Donald's face whips around to glare at him. Salty tears run down his beak as his face turns from sorrowful to enraged. His voice shouts, "YOU!"
The sailor's voice has never been so accusing. His uncle stands and walks to him, "You just had to make us all keep going, even after that trap was sprung!"
The middle child's face pales.
His younger brother lifts his head from where he'd buried it in his hands, flushed and bright red, "I knew it was too dangerous! But you never listen to me!"
His older brother lowers the book, eyes glaring holes into his own, "There were so many things that could have gone wrong. Anyone could have seen that! Why didn't you think before you made us all follow you!"
Dewey shakes his head, "No...I-I didn't know this would happen! No one could have known there was another boulder!"
"Dewey..." Webby sniffs, stroking the head feathers on Scrooge's head. Her glance moves to his own, "You should have been more careful. You know how old he was! Look what you did!" Her voice is trembling, and he can feel his heart break as he follows her gaze to his great uncle's body.
His body is shaking as he takes a step back, tears welling up in his bright blue eyes, "No...I didn't...it was such a simple trap! We've been through so many worse ones!"
Donald stomps closer, making him move back quickly before falling over a branch and onto his backside once again. His uncle towers over him, "Why do you think he even went on adventures anymore at his age?! It's because of you!"
Eyes widen in disbelief as the sailor continues, "You always want to go on all these dangerous missions, and he just wanted to impress you! He didn't want you to think he was boring or too old! Now look what happened!"
Tears are starting to run down his face, "Uncle Donald-"
"Don't call me that!"
He flinches, cowering away from the other.
The older duck's eyes narrow in disgust, "This is your fault!"
Dewey's head shakes, "No!"
"He's dead because of you!"
"His blood is on your hands!"
Dewey's eyes peer down to his trembling hands, seeing the red substance staining them, "NO!"
A gasp is heard as the middle child sits up in a cold sweat, lungs heaving to try and get much needed air back into them. A hand grips his chest as he leans over slightly, staring at the red metal floor of the Sunchaser. The nightmare shook him to his core, he hasn't dreamt like that in a long while.
His face feels wet and he rubs the back of a hand over it. Tears are actively running down his face, but the sight of the dried blood on his fingers, now brightened by the sudden moisture, makes his breath pick up again. He gasps for air as he urgently tries to wipe away the crimson stains covering his person. His hands move up and down his sleeves and over each other trying to rid themselves of the offensive color in vain. More tears come to his eyes as the substance clings to his body, and he covers his head, eyes squeezing shut to block out the image.
His head pops up at his name, eyes wide. He follows the source of the sound to find his great uncle staring back at him, face full of surprise and concern.
That's right, Scrooge didn't die. He wasn't still laying in a jungle somewhere waiting to rot or be ravaged by animals, and his family hadn't blamed Dewey for the accident.
The rich duck still sits where the middle child had left him in the land of the conscious, on the blankets and leaning against a pillow on the plane's side. A thick quilt covers him from the waist down, leaving his upper body bare. Louie sits next to him, knees pulled up to his chest and leaning against Scrooge's right wing with his arms tightly wrapped around it, fast asleep.
Dewey tries to calm himself as his mind starts to come back, taking deeper breaths. His hand wipes away his tears, hoping his great uncle hadn't seen them, "Uncle Scrooge?" The wetness leaves red stains across his face, only leaving more evidence behind.
Scrooge's eyebrows furrow together even more. He had seen the lad crying, in fact he'd seen everything. The duckling, sleeping peacefully for quite some time, had started becoming restless. His body would twist back and forth, his deep breaths now a pant, face screwed into something resembling pain. The old duck could have sworn he heard the child mutter his own name at least once, and then the tears had started. He was about to try and wake the boy up himself from what was surely a bad dream before the blue eyes suddenly popped open and the small body sat up.
He had thought that would be the end of it, but then witnessed Dewey trying desperately to remove the blood from his hands and clothes. Afraid the boy was going to hurt himself in his panic, he called out to him.
Scrooge could sympathize with the blue triplet, he himself struggled with night terrors. Making many enemies along the years has made his mind expect tragedy to befall himself or worse, his family. Many a time has he dreamt his kin were in danger and woke swinging at nothingness in his bedroom.
However, even familial problems can make his dreams turn against him. When they had lost Della, his nightmares were so severe he had become an insomniac just to escape from them. Eventually he managed to sleep again, once the exhaustion had caught up, but those dreams still haunt him to this day, and return every now and then.
He doesn't like thinking about the times when his cursing, screaming, and even crying had attracted Mrs. Beakley and Duckworth to his room, thinking he was being attacked. If he was not already awake, they would have to physically shake him to save his poor trapped mind. Even though they saw him at his weakest, trying desperately to cease his tears and rubbing his forehead to calm his psyche, they never held anything against him. They would offer their assistance, knowing they would be turned down, and act as if nothing happened the next day to preserve their employer's pride.
The rich duck tries to soothe his great nephew, "Seems ye had a nasty one."
Dewey's panting is starting to return to normal, but his sniffles are still very much active, "...yeah..." His arms rest on his knees, glancing over at the other with sad expression.
Scrooge pats the spot next to him, in front of Louie, beckoning him over. The middle triplet hesitates for just a moment before accepting the invitation, crawling the short distance onto the padded spot and laying down next to his great uncle. His back lay to the plane's side and away from the older duck's prying eyes. His younger brother's feet tuck underneath his back. His head rests on Scrooge's lap, facing away from him.
They sit for a bit, the older duck shifting just slightly to accompany more weight onto his broken frame, holding back a grunt but allowing the wince to show as his great nephew couldn't see it at this angle. Finally settling again, his arm rests out of the way to give the two triplets room.
Dewey holds still, lifting his head slightly when the body adjusts underneath him, and trying to convince himself he wasn't harming it. When it stills, he lays back again, tears still dripping onto the blanket beneath him, but starting to dry up.
His mind starts to wander, why is Scrooge still awake? He'd have expected him to be passed out or at least resting peacefully by now. Everyone else is sleeping around them, thankfully not hearing his outburst. His voice is quiet, so much so it can barely be heard, "Did I wake you up?"
His great uncle's straining ears manage to pick it up over the Sunchaser's engine, "Nae. Haven't slept a wink."
Dewey's head turns to look at him, eyebrows furrowed in concern. Scrooge give a small smile, almost a sad one. He doesn't want to tell the child how his body aches. How the pain is so intense he can't find solace in sleep, even though every fiber of his being yearns for it. He can't tell the hurting duckling that having the two of them lean against him is causing even more pain to wrack his battered body. No, he keeps that to himself. There are more important things to worry about.
Dewey reaches with a hand to feel what lays under the blanket, trying to determine where exactly his head rests. He's on the broken leg, but above the splint, in the corner of his eye, he can see his great uncle's face twitching at his touch. He removes his hand, "I'm not hurting you, am I?"
The smile widens a bit, "Nae, donnae worry aboot me."
It seems convincing; Dewey turns his head back and sighs.
His dream's memory returns, the body before him, his family in tears, the blood on his hands. He lifts one to look at the red stains.
Scrooge watches him, "Ye wanna talk aboot it? Yer dream?"
Dewey tucks his hand to his chest and shakes his head. He doesn't want to relive that.
The rich duck accepts it and doesn't enquire anymore, leaning his head back to rest, he almost misses the soft, trembling, voice.
Lifting his head again, he tries to look at the duckling's face, who's turned it closer to the blankets, "Eh? 'Sorry'? Fer what?"
The tears have started anew, wetting the quilt atop his legs. The boy trembles, "For what happened; it's my fault. I-I insisted that we keep going even after that trap w-was sprung...we could have found another way around; we could have been safer...but I m-made us all keep going...and then Uncle Donald...and-and you..."
He doesn't want to hear anymore, "Dewey. Donnae ye even dare blame yerself fer this. `s nae yer fault. It was jus' an accident."
The middle triplet buries his face into the blanket further, tiny hand gripping it tightly as he sobs, "...but...but I-"
"Ah donnae wanna hear it! With all teh adventures we've bin on, that death trap was a walk in teh park. We've been through much worse! Teh fact no one's gotten hurt yet is a bit miraculous."
Dewey sniffs and turns to look at him. Again, those glistening blue eyes stare up at his face, "You're not mad? You don't blame me?"
Scrooge lets out a small chuckle, making his ribs scream at him, but he ignores their cry, "Of course not! If it was anyone's fault, it was me own fer not gittin outta teh way in time!" He sighs, "These old bones arennae as quick as they used ta be."
To his relief, the middle child smiles just a bit, turning his head back again, "Thanks, Uncle Scrooge."
He smiles in return, lifting his good hand and placing it on the boy's head, ruffling the head feathers, "Don' ever blame yerself fer what happened. You'll only make yerself miserable." Ah should knoo. He blamed himself for their mother's absence for years, and still struggles with it.
The triplet beneath his caressing hand relaxes, "I won't."
It's as if he can feel the guilt leaving the duckling's body, a soft sigh escaping. Soon the child is motionless beneath him, hopefully back to a more peaceful slumber.
Right as he's about to try and rest again himself, a sniffle reaches his ears. Following the sound, the old duck's head turns to his left where he's met with the tearful sight of the oldest triplet. "Huey?"
The boy's amber eyes flick to his, meekly meeting his eye contact. The red garbed duckling must have awoken at some point during his and Dewey's conversation, or perhaps even before that. He's sitting up in the same location where he had previously been sleeping.
Huey's eyes travel between his siblings and his great uncle, before the rich duck invites him over with a small gesture of his head. The oldest boy is quick to accept and moves to join his family. He's careful to avoid the wounded arm, and instead mirrors Dewey, laying on his right side on the padded spot. His head rests on the Scrooge's left leg, back facing the old duck, but snuggles a bit closer than his brother.
The injured avian adjusts to having even more weight on his battered body, trying not to wake the other two sleeping children. His smile still present, he addresses the oldest triplet, "What's teh matter?"
Huey is a bit more outspoken of his own feelings than his two brothers and Scrooge isn't surprised when his question is immediately answered, "I just wish I could help more. Seeing you hurt like this makes me want to fix the problem, but I don't like accepting that I can't fix everything. I couldn't set your dislocated arm even though I knew what I was doing, I can't sew up wounds like Webby and Uncle Donald, and I can't fix the pain that you're still in. We don't have any painkillers!"
Scrooge shakes his head just slightly in disbelief with the ever-present smile still sitting on his face, "Huey, ye knoo ye cannae fix everythin'. Sometimes ye have tae accept that."
Even though he can only see the back of the boy's head, he can tell it's disappointed. He continues, "But ye've already helped me so much. Ye helped Dewey fix me arm, and ye were smart enough tae find supplies tae make a splint fer me leg! Without ye ah'd be in a great deal more pain. Might nae `ave made it home."
Huey contemplates that. He was the one who directed his younger brother how to fix the dislocated arm. If they hadn't fixed that, then it's entirely possible getting Scrooge back to the Sunchaser would have been more difficult. Being in constant overwhelming pain, and having to ride on your nephew's back, would not be an ideal way to travel. Plus had he not have suspected a break in the entrepreneur's leg, Scrooge could have insisted he walk out of the jungle, and only do more damage to it and the rest of his body. Lastly, he assisted Dewey in stabilizing the broken leg until they reach home. Huey hadn't fixed everything, but he did make a difference.
A tiny smile pulls on the boy's small beak, "Thanks, I...guess I did help."
As the revelation hits the oldest triplet, a hand is placed over his own on the rich duck's leg, Dewey having reached out to his older brother.
Scrooge's eyebrows raise, he thought the boy was asleep, but had apparently been listening to their conversation.
Huey's first finger moves on top of his brother's hand in appreciation, wordless consoling passing between the siblings. His eyes close, "We're really glad you're ok, Uncle Scrooge. We were scared you were..." He cuts himself off just a moment, swallowing, and nuzzling closer to his great uncle, "We just met you. We don't wanna lose you."
The Scottish duck's beak parts slightly and he blinks in surprise. At the eldest duckling's confession, Dewey replicates his brother's actions and snuggles closer, turning his head towards the blanket beneath him to be closer yet. Scrooge's bewilderment is only heightened as he feels the youngest triplet, dormant for nearly an hour and half, tighten the hold on his trapped right arm and tuck the small beak closer still.
Suddenly he's blinking rapidly. Tears are stinging at his eyes, and he has to put a stop to them before it's too late. There's an ache in his chest, a welcomed one. Scrooge hasn't felt this...loved in a long time. He has to control his body's trembling before the boy's catch on. Closing his eyes and taking a deep breath, he calms his emotions, "Ye won't, lads. Ah promise."
Dewey smiles. The hand on his head continues to caress his head feathers, providing calming sensations. He won't bring attention to the shakes he feels in the stroking fingers.