A/N: Sorry this chapter took so long...after I wrote the previous chapter, I realized "...wait. I don't have a set motive for my villain." So...that had to be figured out, lol. Major thanks to Travis (Web Writer Witch) for helping me brainstorm ideas for this over chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream in TCBY!
"Thanks again for the ride home, Dark," Morgana said half an hour later, standing in the front door of her house. He was back in costume, ready to go out patrolling after he dropped her off.
"You're sure you'll be all right? You've had a rough night..." he said, frowning a little as he took both her hands in his. She gave a small smile and nodded.
"I wish I could help you on the case a little more, but...I need some time to think about things first," she explained. "I'll call you tomorrow night."
"I'm sure she had a good reason, Morg..." he said in an attempt at reassurance, although he sounded doubtful. She shook her head.
"Good reason or not, I know she has to be stopped. I don't want you getting lenient on this case just because my mother's the villain," she replied.
"I know. Look, are you sure you're going to be all right here by yourself? Because I don't mind hanging around and guarding the place..." he offered, sounding a little worried. Morgana smiled.
"Guard me from what? My own mother? Don't worry about me, Dark. I'll be fine," she reassured, kissing his forehead.
"Okay...well, Launchpad and I are going gonna go see if we can get any leads on her whereabouts. I'll let you know what we find," he said. He squeezed her hands lightly before releasing them, then kissed her cheek. "Bye."
"Goodnight," she called, then went inside and shut the door behind her. Eek and Squeak flapped into the living room, carrying a teetering cup of tea on a saucer between them. Morgana reached up to take the tea from their precarious balance and sighed.
"Thank you. Any sign of Archie?" she asked, hopeful. The bats squeaked in reply, and Morgana sighed again, sitting down in an armchair. "I just can't understand this...why wouldn't he TELL me if he was working with my mother?" More squeaks issued forth, and Morgana looked shocked. "You mean you've known all this time, and you haven't said anything? I can't believe this! Well, I suppose he does have a certain loyalty to HIS mother, but...I just don't see how he got roped into this..."
"Good children know that it's important to help a mother when she needs it," an alto voice called from the stairs. Morgana's heart leapt to her throat, and she froze in place with the teacup half raised to her lips. She was torn between wanting to run out the door and straight to Darkwing for support, and wanting to run like a lost little girl into the arms of the woman she knew was standing behind her, the one who had been half-forced out of her life years ago. Instead, she placed the cup on the coffee table, then rose from the chair and turned towards the stairs, trying to remain composed in spite of the fact that she felt as though her insides had turned to jelly. She studied the woman standing halfway down her stairs for a moment, trying to think of something appropriate to say, before finally settling with,
Meanwhile, Darkwing and Launchpad were soaring over the skyscrapers of St. Canard in the Thunderquack, searching for any signs of suspicious activity. Other than the earlier toy store robbery and a couple of jaywalkers, there had been almost no criminal happenings in the city all night.
"I don't get it, D.W. Why would Morgana's mom be in the toy business?" Launchpad asked.
"For that matter, I want to know what she's doing in St. Canard in the first place," the caped crimefighter grumbled. He wasn't exactly happy about seeing his girlfriend's life in danger of being turned upside down.
"I always figured her mom was dead or somethin'...no one ever says anything about her," the pilot commented, taking the plane a little lower to get a better view of the streets.
"No...she left Maloculo when Morg was still just a kid. Well, she sorta left, he sorta threw her out...that sort of thing." Darkwing paused, not really sure how much of Morgana's personal life he should be revealing. Then again, now it was part of a case, and Launchpad WAS his sidekick, so he continued. "You know how Maloculo has kind of a hard time warming up to Normals?"
"Boy, do I ever! I STILL get weird cravings for ketchup sometimes..." Launchpad answered.
"Launchpad, you got weird cravings for ketchip before he turned you into a vampire bat," Darkwing replied. "AS I was saying, Morgana's mother is half-Normal. Needless to say, her father wasn't exactly happy when he found that out."
"Whoa! So that means Morgana's part Normal, too?"
"Yeah...kinda makes you wonder why it took ol' Mal so long to get used to the fact that she's friends with some, doesn't it?" Darkwing mused. "Anyway, that's pretty much all I know about her mom."
"Kinda hard to pick a motive when you don't have a lot of info, huh?" Launchpad asked, bringing the plane up a little higher to avoid running into the top of a skyscraper.
"Pfft! Nothing's too hard for Darkwing Duck!" the masked mallard announced dramatically. Launchpad said nothing; he was used to the other duck's ego trips. "Now, let's see...the most logical reason for Morgana's mother being in St. Canard is...well, Morgana. Our villainess must be trying to get in touch with her daughter!"
"Why didn't she just send a postcard?" Launchpad asked, crinkling up his forehead in confusion.
"Launchpad, you know these villainous types always have a flair for the dramatic!" Darkwing replied. "The next question is...why would she turn to robbing toy stores and replacing the stolen goods with her own brand of baubles?" he continued, trailing off. "Unless...a-HA! She must be trying to corrupt the youth of St. Canard through her macabre merchandise!"
"She's gonna have to get a new name for the company, then...I don't think Macawber Merchandise would go over too well after what happened with Morgana's mushroom company..." Launchpad said.
"Not Macawber! Macabre! It's...oh, nevermind." Darkwing sighed, shaking his head. "I still need to figure out why she would be in St. Canard pulling crime heists without getting in touch with Morgana first..."
"Early birthday present?" Launchpad suggested. Darkwing rolled his eyes and started to make a sarcastic comment in reply, then stopped.
"Say, Launchpad...you might be onto something...not about the birthday present, I mean, but maybe she's been trying to do this as some sort of surprise for Morgana...I mean, Morgana used to be a crook herself, and I don't think she inherited any criminal tendencies from Maloculo," he mused, looking down at the streets of his city through the window of the Thunderquack. "If that's the case, then there's only one toy store she has left to hit...she'll be going back to try to fix the bungled burglary at Peter's Plethora of Playthings!"
"Do you think she'll try to do it tonight?" Launchpad asked as they neared the Audobon Bay Bridge.
"No...she probably knows we're on to her. My guess is she'll lay low for a while, then strike when she thinks we're not expecting it!" Darkwing exclaimed, punching his palm with the opposite fist for emphasis.
"Does that mean we're done for the night? I'm beat..." Launchpad said, parking the Thunderquack in the tower.
"Yeah, we may as well call it a night...looks like nothing else important is going to happen. Besides, Gosalyn's got a soccer game tomorrow morning...although I'm dreading doing the laundry after she plays in all that mud," he replied, making a face as they headed towards the pair of blue armchairs.
There was a short silence after Morgana spoke; the woman standing on the stairs seemed to be studying her, gauging her reaction. She looked strikingly similar to Morgana; she was obviously older, and her hair was more grey than black, but she still had the same hourglass figure and upswept hairstyle. If it weren't for the age difference and the slight color variation of their eyes, the two women could have been twins.
"I had really hoped to have my little operation completed before being found out by your Normal," the older sorceress said, breaking the silence and spitting out the word 'normal' with distaste. Morgana frowned.
"How did you know about that?" she asked, somewhat helpless. Her mother smiled, making her way over to where Morgana stood.
"Mother knows these things, pet," she crooned, placing one hand on her daughter's shoulder. "Well! Let me look at you," she added in a brighter tone, using the other hand to tilt Morgana's face upward a little. "You certainly have turned out to be a lovely lady...I've only been able to watch you from afar all these years, you know. It's so good to really be here with you..."
"You've...you've been watching me?" Morgana questioned, swallowing the lump in her throat that was trying to form. "But I thought..."
"That I had forgotten about you? No, darling, I was always watching you. I will admit that I lost sight of you for a little while when you made that sudden move to this awful place, but it didn't take too long to find out where you had gone." She paused, noticing that her daughter's eyes were exceptionally bright with held back tears. "Now then, pet, don't cry. Mother's here now," she murmured, enveloping Morgana in a hug.
The younger witch couldn't help but return the hug; in spite of the fact that her mind was telling her that this woman was a criminal and needed to be apprehended, it was clouded over by the overwhelming emotions that came with seeing her mother again after so many years, a mother that she still believed had been wrongly taken away from her. After a moment, she regained enough of her senses to pull away and ask, "Why are you here, Mother? And why have you been robbing toy stores?"
"Oh, I thought it'd be a nice business to break into..."
"Then why didn't you go about it honestly instead of turning to crime?" Morgana questioned, frowning.
"Because crime DOES pay, my dear. In time, I hope you learn to forget about that half-wit do-gooder of yours and realize what a good thing you gave up when you decided to turn over a new leaf," the older woman answered.
"Don't talk about Darkwing that way!" Morgana defended. Her mother just smiled, making her feel very much like a little girl being talked down to. "He's going to catch you, Mother...your best bet would be to return the stolen toys and get out of town now, while there's still time," she advised shakily. As hard as it was for her to tell her mother to go away again, she knew Darkwing trusted her to do the right thing, and she was determined to be worthy of that trust.
"Darkwing, dear? Or Drake?" her mother replied casually, taking a seat on the couch.
"I...I don't know what you're talking about!" Morgana insisted, a little nervously.
"Oh come now, darling. Just because those idiot Normals are fooled by his silly disguise doesn't mean I am. They may think that you're simply dating two different ducks, but I know as well as you do that your 'hero' is nothing but plain old suburbanite Drake Mallard," she answered calmly. "And quite frankly, dear, it's high time you got rid of him and moved on to better things."
"Mother! How can you say that?" Morgana exclaimed. "Dark loves me...and I love him!"
"Relationships between monsters and normals never work out, Morgana. I refuse to watch you go through the heartbreak of realizing that, not when I have it in my power to stop it." the older witch replied.
"Why can't they work out? For that matter, how can you condemn normals when you're half normal yourself, Mother? Just because you're relationship with Father didn't work--"
"Exactly, Morgana! It didn't work because I'm part normal. It didn't matter that I was raised as a monster, that my mother was a pureblooded as they come...my marriage was still doomed right from the start. Things didn't work out between my parents because they realized too late that a monster and a normal can never be happy together. Things didn't work out between your father and I as soon as we discovered my father's heritage. Do you honestly think things are going to work out between you and this normal of yours?" she asked, somewhat scornfully.
"Yes!" Morgana insisted. "He loves me for what I am--"
"He loves you because you're beautiful, Morgana. But on the inside, you're still more monster than normal, and eventually that's going to drive him away. I've been watching you, daughter. I know how much the two of you fight. Haven't you ever stopped to consider that maybe all those fights are a sign you two just aren't meant to be?"
"No!" Morgana exclaimed hurriedly, then sighed a little. "Well...yes, actually, I guess I have..."
"You see? Deep down, you already know that this can't work. And what of your future children? You remember how everyone in the family treated me the moment they discovered I wasn't really a monster. That's why I left. And I'm sure you remember how everyone treated you, once word got out...how you never quite fit in with the other students..."
"I fit in well enough!" Morgana defended.
"Oh? Then what about that birthday party that every popular little girl in your class was invited to, except you?" her mother reminded. "You remember...when they discovered you had found out about it, they used the excuse that they just weren't able to invite that many people? Those girls were your friends, daughter, until they found out what you really were."
"That...that's not..." Morgana faltered, unable to complete the sentence. She wanted to say that it wasn't true, but she knew in her heart that it was. She had always known.
"And what about that warlock you were supposed to go to the prom with? He was new in town, and he was just as taken with your beauty as all the other young monster men were...but they stayed away, Morgana. Didn't you ever wonder why they stayed away? Because they knew. And once he found out, he stayed away, too. That's why he never showed up on prom night. Do you really want your children growing up more normal than monster, only to be shunned by both worlds?"
"How do you know all this?" Morgana whispered, sinking down into the empty spot on the couch next to her mother. "You weren't there!"
"I told you. Mother kept up with how you were doing, darling," she replied, taking Morgana's hand and patting it gently. "I know you spent most of your life studying hard because you had plenty of extra time to study, time that most ghouls your age spent socializing. I know you first moved to St. Canard to open up your own business because you saw it as an in-between place, a city full of strange happenings, but a city of normals where you hoped you could leave your reputation behind."
"I studied because I wanted to make something of myself!" Morgana argued, pulling her hand away.
"You became a brilliant businesswoman because you wanted to forget what your heart really desired. You wanted to forget all about love. You almost had, too, before he walked into your life." There was a short silence, then her mother continued, in a gentler tone, "You don't love him because of who he is, Morgana. You just love him because he's the only man who hasn't yet shunned you for what you are."
"I've had other boyfriends!"
"Yes, but for how long? Did any of them last more than a month?"
There was a long silence before Morgana spoke again. "So, what you're saying is that I'll never be happy with a monster or a normal?"
"Not with the way things are now...but there is hope. If we can teach normals to think a little more like monsters...then maybe, as a whole, they wouldn't be so quick to condemn. And if they're more understanding...perhaps the monsters will become more understanding..."
"What am I supposed to do, then?" Morgana asked, sounding a little helpless. Her mother wrapped an arm around her shoulders.
"Join me, my child. You were once a first rate criminal, and you're still a wonderful businesswoman. With my ideas and your marketing strategies, we can make this toy business work. Soon, the youth of St. Canard will be playing with the same toys monster children are raised with...young minds are the most easily molded. We have to work on the children before we can begin to convince the parents."
"And you really think it will help bring monsters and normals together?" Morgana asked, somewhat doubtful. Her mother smiled.
"I know it will. So, what do you say?" she asked. Morgana shook her head slowly.
"I...Mother, I can't! Darkwing trusts me..." she began, but it was obvious her resolve was waning.
"Morgana, my darling daughter...you know he's never really trusted you. Hasn't he always doubted you? Hasn't he always questioned your motives? You thought it would get better with time, once you proved yourself as a 'good girl' to him...but even with this case, weren't you the first person he pointed fingers at?" she reminded. Morgana cast her eyes downward, unable to deny the truth in what her mother was saying. The older witch smiled, holding her right arm up and twisting her hand towards her a little so that her palm faced back out to the right again. "Well, daughter? Do we have a partnership? Or will you forsake your own mother in favor of a Normal who will never really accept you?"
Morgana lifted her gaze again, silent for the moment as she studied her mother's face. Then, with a look somewhere between acceptance and defeat, she raised her right hand up in the same pose, placing her palm against the other witch's.
"Veneficus pactum," she murmured.
A/N: "Veneficus pactum" is Latin, and basically means "Witch's pact". Veneficus means "poisonous, magical; witch, wizard, caster of spells" and pactum means "pact".