Fic – The Price of Silence
Title: The Price of Silence
Fandom: DuckTales (2017)
Main Character(s): Scrooge McDuck
Minor Character(s): Donald Duck, Huey Duck, Dewey Duck, Louie Duck
Disclaimers: DuckTales © Disney
Notes: Late Mother’s Day fic is late. For some reason, I got this story idea after Mother’s Day had already passed, but I still wanted to write it. So here we go.
Summary: Maybe their family was cursed.
“Hey, Uncle Scrooge!”
Scrooge paused mid-step, looking up from the file he’d been browsing through. He was still never sure how to feel when all three of them were calling for him all at once. “What is it, boys?” he asked, hoping there was some semblance of patience in his tone.
He watched the three bound up to him, each wearing a smile that he recognized as someone wanting something from him. “Any adventures lined up for today?” Huey asked, his voice eager and hopeful.
He felt his brow rise in question. “No…none that I’m aware of.” In fact, he had planned to spend a quiet Sunday going over some paperwork he’d been neglecting.
“Do you think we can head on one today? Some treasure to find, or ruins to explore…soon? Right now?” Dewey pressed, and Scrooge wasn’t sure what to make of his rather frenzied tone.
With a puzzled frown, he closed the file in his hand. “Well…” he said, drawing out the word as he tried to think of how to tell them that he didn’t have any leads on anything at the moment.
He was spared from having to answer, though, as Donald, seemingly appearing out of nowhere, suddenly scooped the boys up. “Sorry, boys, no adventures today,” he said. “We’ve gotta get going soon.”
All three of them groaned. “But, Uncle Donald –” Louie started.
“No buts.” Donald voice was firm, but Scrooge was just surprised how his nephew was able to carry all three boys at once. “You know what we’re doing today.”
Clearly, the boys did know, judging by the chagrined looks on their faces. Scrooge, however, did not. “Where are ye all heading?” he wondered.
He watched Donald hesitate, an uncertain expression passing over the younger man’s face, and it was a long moment before he finally replied, “…The cemetery.”
Whatever answer Scrooge had been expecting, it certainly wasn’t that. “The cemetery?” he repeated, wondering if he’d heard right.
Placing the boys down, Donald waved a hand. “It’s just for a little while, on our way to the farm to visit Grandma Duck.” Then he finally met Scrooge’s eyes. “It’s Mother’s Day.”
“Mother’s –” He drew in a sharp breath as the pieces started coming together. “…I see.” His fingers drummed against the curve of his cane. “Do you, ah…go every year?”
Donald nodded. “Yeah. I mean, we try to, anyway. We can’t make it sometimes if I’m, uh…working.”
Scrooge returned the nod in understanding. He wouldn’t be surprised if Donald had taken a few out of town jobs from time to time. “I see.”
He didn’t really have anything else to say to that, and really, he wasn’t sure why he was asking. It wasn’t as though he had much of a reason to celebrate Mother’s Day himself, these days.
…Though he wondered if that might explain Beakley’s disappearance today.
His attention was drawn to the boys as he noticed them fidget, glancing at each other. They seemed to be having a silent conversation amongst themselves, because he could see when a decision was made a few moments before Louie spoke up again. “Uncle Donald, do we have to go?”
The answer was immediate. “Yes.”
Scrooge couldn’t help another curious glance at the boys. “You don’t like visiting your great-grandmother?” That sounded a bit odd since, while he hadn’t seen Elvira in quite some time, as far as he knew everyone liked her.
“Well, it’s not that,” Huey replied, a bit quickly as he suddenly seemed a little nervous. “Visiting the farm is fine, and we like getting to see Grandma Duck. It’s…It’s just –”
“It’s going to the cemetery,” Dewey retorted, his eyes a bit narrow as he looked to Donald. “It’s not like our mom is there.”
A sudden chill seemed to fill the room, the silence following those words deafening.
It seemed to last forever, but it was quickly broken as Dewey seemed to muster up enough nerve to continue on, “It’s not fair!”
“Dewey – ” Huey hissed sharply, but Dewey shrugged him off as he took a step towards Donald.
“Every year we visit your mom, or someone else’s mom, but you still haven’t told us anything about our mom!” Dewey’s fingers curled tightly into his palm, but there was something in his eyes besides anger as he looked at Donald. “Why do you have to keep so many secrets from us? Why won’t you let us know who she is?”
Scrooge’s fingers tightened around his cane. While he wasn’t one to talk regarding how much information he disclosed about Della (or didn’t, as was usually the case), he never took a moment to wonder just how much the boys knew about her. Honestly, he didn’t think he would have to. With as close as the two of them had been, he would have imagined Donald telling the boys almost everything he could about Della.
But a quick glance at Donald helped him to understand; the boys were each too wrapped up in their own thoughts and feeling and arguing about the matter, that they didn’t noticed the expression on Donald’s face. Or if they did, they didn’t realize just how bad it was.
Oh, but he could see it. Scrooge had seen that same pain, that same grief and heartbreak reflected in the mirror so many times that he couldn’t help but recognize it.
Which was why he spun the cane in his hand; the curved end sent a sharp echo through the hall as it struck the ground just in front of Dewey, startling him into jumping back and pulling the boys from their discussion.
“That is ENOUGH,” his voice boomed throughout the hallway. Turning to the boys he pointed the cane at them. “This conversation is over.”
“But – ” Dewey tried. However, Scrooge was quicker.
“No buts! I won’t hear any more of it. Now you boys go get ready to see your Grandma Duck with your uncle.” When they didn’t move, he used his cane to steer them towards their rooms. “Go on. No arguments.”
They hesitated a moment longer, clearly not happy with the outcome. But eventually the boys sulked off to get ready, leaving him and Donald alone in the hall.
And as the tension started to settle, the silence quickly grew awkward. Luckily it was easily broken as Donald cleared his throat. “Uh…thanks,” he murmured, not meeting Scrooge’s eyes.
Scrooge answered with a nod, because he understood. Despite how long they had been living together since Donald and the boys moved into the mansion, Della was still a rather sore spot between them. It was so much easier to get along with each other by ignoring that one topic completely.
He just never imagined that Donald avoided it with boys as well…not that Scrooge was really one to talk about things like that.
With another clearing of his throat, Donald turned to start heading off. “I better…go start the car.”
It was a lame excuse to leave, and they both knew it, but Scrooge ran with it anyway. “Aye. I should be getting back to work meself.”
He started to go, but paused and turned back in Donald’s direction. “What time do y’think you’ll be back?”
Donald glanced back at him as he thought. “I dunno. We might have dinner with Grandma.”
With another nod, Scrooge headed off again. “Well, tell Elvira I said Happy Mother’s Day.”
“Will do,” he heard Donald’s retreating voice reply. Then he was alone.
He made it to his office easily enough, but he knew he wasn’t going to get any work done anymore. And it wasn’t for a lack of trying, as he stared at the piles of documents on his desk that needed his attention.
But eventually he gave up pretending, pinching between his eyes as he sighed and sagged back in his chair. Then he took a moment, listening to the stillness throughout the mansion. And once he was sure that he wouldn’t be bothered, he opened the top drawer of his desk.
The drawer itself was mostly empty, save for two picture frames. Both were face down, forcing him to retrieve both frames and turn them over. The first photo was one of him with Donald and Della; he couldn’t remember exactly when it was taken, but the two looked to be about adults in the image, so he had to guess it was closer to the time when Della…well, closer to that time.
The second frame held a family portrait of him with his parents and sisters back in Scotland. He and his sisters were all children in the picture; Hortense hadn’t even been speaking yet when the photo was taken. It was an old picture, but it was the only photo he had of all of the family together. Shortly afterwards he had left for America to seek his fortune, and their family had never been the same after that.
Propping the stands up, he put the frames on his desk to look at each of the pictures. Then he sighed again. He felt a little silly, but…it also felt like something he needed to do.
So, after a long moment of the silence pounding in his ears, he spoke out loud, “Ma…Hortense, Della…Happy Mother’s Day.”
The persistent silence was his only answer. Not that he expected anything different, but it didn’t dull the ache in his heart. And with a sudden need to fill the quiet, to fill the emptiness, he continued on.
“I wish you were here…all of you.” He gripped his cane tighter to keep his hands from trembling. “There’s so much you’ve all missed…too much to even tell you. Della…I think ye’d be proud of how yer boys are growin’. There’s a part of you in each of them. Donald’s done well in takin’ care of ‘em.”
He glanced at the image of his youngest sister; she had been so young then, but he never had the chance to really appreciate the woman she had grown into. “Hortense…I’m sorry I couldn’t take care of yer girl. I know if ye were still here, ye’d kick my tail five ways tae Sunday.” He chuckled softly, but it lacked any real warmth. “But I know ye would have been proud of her…just as ye should be proud of yer son. Even after all he’s been through, he still pushes on tae take care of those boys. He has a strength I only wish I could have…I’m sorry ye never got tae see what he can do.”
First Donald and Della with Hortense…now Huey, Dewey, and Louie with Della so many years later. Maybe their family was cursed. Something in the McDuck blood that forced the children in their family to grow up without their mothers, a curse so terrible that not even being married into the Duck family could save them from it.
He glanced at the image of his own mother, taking in every detail of the gentle face that he, shamefully, had trouble remember at times. He and his sisters had at least been adults when they lost her (not that the fact brought any comfort). But he had been an entire ocean away when she passed. He never had the chance to say a proper goodbye.
He sighed, sitting back in his chair. “I’m sorry, Ma,” he murmured. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you…for any of you. I only wish you could be here for them. They miss you all.”
The silence felt all the lonelier.