“So you’ve been in Webby’s shadow this entire time?”
“Like the entire time? You saw everything she saw?”
“Like everything everything?”
“How did you get into Webby’s shadow?”
“Wait, so how are you here now ?”
Lena should have known the triplets would immediately jump in and ask a million questions as soon as Webby finished telling them the story. “Okay, um…” She started ticking off on her fingers as she answered. “Yes the entire time, I could see everything but I do have a little respect and I know how to not look when something private is going on, I latched on to Webby’s shadow after Aunt Magica destroyed my physical form and anchored down through her bracelet, um… I’m not sure how I’m here now, honestly? Something, something, magic.”
Della gently put her hand over Huey’s mouth. She knew he had a million questions (so did she for that matter, starting with who the heck was this kid), but Scrooge and Beakley also clearly had questions from the looks on their faces. Lena seemed to have noticed that as well; she looked at them for a moment before dropping her eyes to the floor. The usual sarcasm and sass was gone from her voice as she said, “I’m sorry. I know I… I mean, Magica nearly killed everyone, and I helped her—”
“We know you weren’t a willing participant, lass,” Scrooge assured her gently. “No one has any ill will toward you.”
Webby beamed, wrapping her arms around one of Lena’s and hugging her tight. Lena nodded, giving them a small, grateful smile. Violet’s phone ringing interrupted the conversation; she fumbled quickly to get it out of her bag. “"Hola Papá. Sí, bajaré en un minuto. No, no necesitas subir a la puerta. Realmente, puedo caminar. Sí, sí, lo juro. Voy a estar abajo.”
She hung up quickly, shoving the phone back in her bag. “I should go before he decides to come and meet everyone.”
“Aaaawww, do you have to go already?” Webby pouted. “We don’t mind if your dad comes up for a few—”
“Trust me, you don’t want to go through that,” Violet said quickly. “There’s been enough excitement for one day.”
“Okaaaaaaaay.” Webby huffed, jumping up to walk Violet to the door. Lena was immediately aware that she was about to be left alone with the rest of the family, and her heart jumped into her throat.
“I should probably go too,” she said, scrambling to follow Webby and Violet and ignoring the looks she got from everyone else. “Pretty sure I’ve loooooooooooong overstayed my welcome.”
“I mean, is it overstaying your welcome if we didn’t know you were here?” Huey asked, tilting his head. Webby just stared at Lena, who gave her a crooked smile in return.
“I’m not disappearing forever, Pink, don’t give me that look. I’ll come back later and help you blow something up or whatever, okay?”
Lena felt bad, breezing out the door like she didn’t hear Webby trying to protest. But it had gotten significantly harder to breathe, and the walls felt like they were trying to close in around Lena. She needed to get out.
Webby stood in the door with Violet, watching Lena’s retreating back, tears burning in her eyes. “Does she… actually have a place to live?” She heard Scrooge ask from the den.
“Sorta, I guess.” That was Dewey. “That old amphitheatre on the beach has a space under the stage. We found it when Magica stole everyone’s shadows. Pretty sure that’s where she was living.”
Violet looked at Webby, who still looked heartbroken, and gave her a helpless shrug before turning to follow Lena’s path down the long driveway. She found the teen standing against a tree near the gate, head tilted back, eyes closed.
“Do you need a ride?”
“Huh?” Lena blinked, looking down at Violet. “No, I’m good. Thanks, though.”
“Okay, but I mean… it doesn’t really matter. My dad’s going to see you leave and ask if you need a ride somewhere and he’ll pretty much make me shove you in the car if you try to fight. He’s pretty stubborn.”
Lena blinked, staring at Violet. “So… your dad kidnaps people?”
“Only for their own good.”
“And I probably can’t just run in the other direction.”
“It would be rather counterproductive to do so. I assume you’re going to the beach? That’s the same way we’re going.”
“Great.” Lena sighed. “Okay, I’ll take the ride.”
Lena’s dad was a tall, plump, older bird with bright eyes and a huge grin. “¡Ah, mi pequeño colibrí!” He beamed as he kissed Violet’s forehead. “Is this one of your new friends?”
“Hi Papá.” Violet sighed, looking almost embarrassed. “This is Lena. She needs a ride to the beach.”
“If you don’t mind,” Lena added quickly, hoping he would say it was too much trouble and tell Violet to just get in the car.
“Mind? Of course not!” He chuckled. “It’s practically on the way.”
So much for that. Lena bit down a sigh as she climbed into the backseat, while Violet settled in the front. “Did you have a good time?” Mr. Sabrewing asked as they started down the street. “Did your friends enjoy the pie?”
Thirty seconds of interacting with the older bird was all Lena needed to see that Violet was the absolute exact opposite of her father. No wonder she didn’t want Webby to meet him — he probably would have tried to adopt her.
“Everyone loved the pie. Is Papi going to send me over with snacks every time I visit?”
“There’s going to be a next time?” Mr. Sabrewing sounded absolutely delighted. Lena bit her tongue to keep from laughing, but wasn’t quite quick enough to cover a snort.
“I know how to make friends, Papá.”
“I know you do, pequeño colibrí.” He didn’t sound at all condescending, which was impressive. “We just want you to be happy. And Papi doesn’t need an excuse to bake.”
Violet considered that for a moment. “True.”
They pulled up near the amphitheatre — really, Lena could have walked, but fighting with Violet’s father hadn’t seemed worth it. “Thanks for the ride,” she said with a small smile as she slid out of the car.
“Oh, any time, dear, any time.” Mr. Sabrewing smiled. “It was nice meeting you.”
“Yeah, you too.” Lena gave them a wave before heading down the beach, toward the amphitheatre. Welcome home .
She found the trapdoor and pressed her foot against it, but couldn’t bring herself to go down just yet. She didn’t even want to think about what it would look like now, after six months of disuse. Instead she went to sit on the edge of the stage, legs dangling above the water.
Great. Now what?
She couldn’t say she was resentful , exactly, that Webby and Violet had somehow found a way to bring her back. She just wasn’t sure what she was supposed to do now. Sure, Scrooge had offered her a place in his family, but really, had he meant it? Or had he just wanted her help? Not that it mattered either way, she hadn’t done anything to help. He couldn’t hold up his end of a deal that she hadn’t followed through on.
“So is this home?”
Lena jumped, whirling to look at Violet. “What’re you doing here?” The words were slightly accusatory. Violet didn’t seem perturbed.
“Partly my father was worried that you don’t really have anywhere to go, partly I felt bad leaving you here knowing you must be confused and probably a little scared.” She looked down at the partially open trapdoor.
“Well, I’m good on all counts,” Lena assured her, looking back at the water. “Nothing to worry about.”
“I don’t know, this doesn’t really seem like a great place to live.” Violet knelt to open the door, peaking down into the room. “It’s a bit depressing.”
“It’s been just fine for me the entire time I’ve lived in Duckburg.” Lena shrugged. “Maybe I won’t even stay here now. I don’t have to anymore. Magica’s gone, I can do whatever I want. I could go back to Paris.”
“That would be hard without money or a passport.” Violet went to sit next to Lena, eying her out of the corner of her eye.
“I got here from Italy on my own. I can get back. Or at I can at least get to France.”
“Impressive. But why would you want to go? I mean… it seems like your home is here.”
Lena laughed humorlessly. “My home isn’t anywhere. My entire life has been getting here, getting Scrooge’s stupid dime, and then doing whatever Magica wanted me to do next.”
“But you didn’t do any of that. And Webigail is clearly fond of you. I’m sure if you asked—”
“I don’t need charity.” Lena leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees.
“You’re quite stubborn, aren’t you?” Violet asked conversationally.
“That’s what I’ve been told.”
“Do you really want to just spend the rest of your life wandering around without a home? Seems lonely to me. I mean, my fathers are… exasperating sometimes, but that doesn’t mean I’d never want to go home.”
“Have you been listening, nerd? I don’t have a home.”
“According to you,” Violet pointed out. “You didn’t see the look everyone was giving you while you were telling them what happened, did you?”
Lena looked back, frowning. “No, I guess not. What do you mean?”
“Well, Webigail was happy, obviously. The boys were all confused. Mrs. Beakley and Mr. McDuck looked worried, though. They were concerned for you.”
“Or concerned about what I might do.”
“I highly doubt they’re concerned you’re going to hurt them. They know you tried to fight Magica in the end.”
Lena sighed, drawing her legs up to her chest and resting her chin on her knees. “Yeah. I guess.”
“So what are you afraid of, then?”
Everything . “I don’t know.” Lena’s eyes fell back to the water. “That eventually they’re all going to realize they hate me. That Webby’s going to hate me.”
“I’m not sure she’s capable of that.”
“I don’t…” Lena’s voice drifted off as a faint glow in the water caught her eye, and she straightened up. “Do you see that?”
“See what?” Violet leaned in closer, and frowned. “Oh… what is that?”
Lena shifted to lie on her stomach reaching into the water. “What’re you doing? Be careful, you don’t know what that—”
“Just… shush for a minute, I…”
Lena stretched her arm out as far as she could, but the glow stayed just out of her reach. “Come on, I’ve almost got it…”
Ah! Her hands wrapped around the little glowing ball, and the familiar texture of yarn rubbed between her fingers. No way …
She straightened up, pulling her arm out of the water, and stared at disbelief at the bracelet clutched in her hand. “That looks like Webby’s bracelet,” Violet said, tilting her head.
“It’s the one she made for me,” Lena explained, awe in her voice. “Magica made me get rid of it because she thought I was getting too attached to Webby. But that was months ago… how did it survive?”
“Magic?” Violet guessed. Lena sat back, crossing her legs under herself and staring at it with wide eyes.
“Yeah, she said slowly, carefully pinching the water out. “I guess.”
Violet was quiet for a moment as she let Lena process. “You know, I’m not generally one to believe in signs, but my view of the world has been expanding since the Shadow War, and if ever there were to be a sign of something…”
Lena looked back at her, giving her a small smile. “Yeah. I suppose.”
“I’m sure she’ll be back, Webby,” Dewey said confidently. It had been an hour since Lena had left; the triplets were sitting on the stairs with Webby, trying to reassure her. “She’s probably just a little freaked out.”
“Yeah, she just needs space,” Huey added.
“This isn’t even new,” Louie piped up. “I mean, she used to disappear all the time and then come back and spend an entire week here. She’ll probably be back tomorrow.”
“Louie’s got a point.”
Webby shrugged, tugging at her bracelet. “She saw everything . She saw me take off my bracelet and call it nothing. What if she’s mad?”
“It’s just a bracelet. I don’t think she’s that petty.”
“But they’re special . They’re magical.”
The boys exchanged bewildered looks, not sure exactly how to respond to that. The doorbell rang, thankfully, and they were all distracted by Beakley coming out to answer it.
“Certainly took you long enough,” she said as she stepped aside to let Lena in. The teen was curled in slightly on herself, hands clasped behind her back. Webby immediately lit up, relief washing through her.
“ Lena !”
She bolted up, throwing herself at Lena hard enough to send them both stumbling back out the door, hugging her tight. She barely noticed Violet was there as well. Lena didn’t hesitate to hug Webby just as tight, the tension draining from her expression and body.
“I’m sorry,” she said quietly. Webby just clung to her. The boys exchanged looks, and Louie took out his phone.
“An hour and a half. Dewey looks like you were the closest.”
“Told you guys she’d be back in three hours,” Dewey said smugly.
“At least I gave her six hours. Louie said an entire day.”
“Look, she’s weird and stubborn, I went with the over.”
Webby pulled back to look at Lena, grinning, and she smiled sheepishly. “So uh… I found something.” She held up the bracelet, and Webby nearly lit up. She’d noticed the bracelet missing at their last sleepover; Lena had said something about not tying it tight enough, and Webby had promised to make another one, not realizing Lena would leave the next day after the adventure in the other bin, and she wouldn’t see her again.
“That’s… where ?”
“It’s a long story.”
“You can tell it over breakfast,” Mrs. Beakley said, shuffling both girls back inside. “I’m sure neither of you have eaten at all.”
“We had pie,” Webby said, bouncing, as she threw herself at Lena again, hugging her tight. Mrs. Beakley shook her head, looking at Violet.
“Would you like to join us for breakfast, Violet?”
“No thank you, Mrs. Beakley. My dad’s still waiting. Maybe some other time.”
“Hey, Violet?” Lena stopped, looking back at the girl as she started to leave. “I… thanks.”
Violet shrugged, smiling slightly. “There’s nothing to thank me for.”
“Are you suuuuuuuuuuuuure you don’t want to stay?” Webby chimed in. “Your dad can come too.”
“Uh…” Violet looked vaguely horrified. “No, he’s already met one person today. That’s more than enough.”
She waved before heading back down the hill to her father’s car, the faint sound of chatter dying away as Beakley closed the door.
“Everything okay?” her father asked as Violet climbed back into the car and buckled in.
“Yeah. Lena’s home. Everything is fine.”