Author's Note: This is the long-awaited sequel to The Sins of the Father. Reading the first story is recommended but not necessary. I don't have a lot of free time, so there will be long periods without updates, but I would love feedback on this and any of my other stories. Also, I hate the formatting on this website.
Disclaimer: Darkwing and J. Gander Hooter are property of The Walt Disney Company. The rest of these poor souls are mine.
"The sins of the father are to be laid upon the children."
Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice
The Deeds of the Son
Drake's feet pounded against the pavement in time with his racing heart, and he felt at any moment he would burst. He hoped at least he would be able to tell his parents what had happened before he did.
It had been the best day of his ten-year-long life. He had learned so much, had stood up to a gang of bullies, and had met a real-life superhero. Had it not been for the backward hat covering his face and the dress shirt flailing behind his undersized frame, he would have thought it all a dream. Even so, he could hardly believe it, and that was what made it so exciting.
He had run all the way from the downtown district, refusing a ride from the police even though it was well past sundown. After all, he was a superhero now, and he wanted to prove to everyone that he could do anything he wanted to. He couldn't wait to see the look of pride on his parents' faces…especially his father's. It was the thing he wanted most in the world, and something he had never seemed to be able to attain.
Jacob Mallard worked extremely long hours at SHUSH, a super-secret spy organization for which he did a lot of dangerous undercover work around town. Exactly what his father did while undercover was a mystery to Drake. Instead of worrying about it too much, Drake liked to think that his father was akin to Derek Blunt from the movies or Duck Tracy from the comics, because that was how Jacob portrayed himself whenever he told work stories. Although Jacob was rarely home to spend time with his family, Drake idolized him with as much admiration as any young son would his father.
It was the rare afternoon or evening Jacob was actually home before Drake went to bed that were his favorites. They played catch or wrestled, and at times Jacob would regale Drake with a story about his exploits as a secret agent. It didn't matter if they were made up or not, Drake just loved spending the time together. Even when his father had to work from home in his study he seemed a million miles away, and Drake missed his father sorely when he was working. Increasingly in the last few years, Drake had noticed a sadness growing in his father's eyes. It was something he had always wanted to ask his father about, but had never had the courage to.
Subconsciously his prepubescent mind believed that when he told his father that he was now a superhero, he could take that sadness away and everything would be wonderful. After all, it was at his father's urging that he had started reading about Super Pig and Duck Tracy. Why wouldn't Jacob be proud to have a real such individual as a son? Drake could save anybody now, and the person he wanted to rescue most was his dad.
The two-story peach colored home surrounded by a white picket fence scuttled into view as Drake rounded the corner past his elementary school. His lungs burned and his feet ached, but nothing could extinguish the pure joy he felt.
Darkwing Drakey…that had a nice ring to it.
Circles of light spotted the cracking pavement of Pintail Trace beneath weathered street lamps, and all of the houses were dark and silent. Stars glittered down from the dark blue heavens, and Drake was just imagining himself blasting off toward them when something else caught his eye, nearly making him stumble bill-first into the sidewalk. A brown jalopy was pulling out of his driveway, and though he couldn't be certain in the darkness, it had looked like Uncle John's car.
He wondered if the gander had come over for dinner, as he sometimes did, then he stopped to think about the lateness of the hour. His mother was probably worried or angry at him since he was hours past curfew, and the thought sobered him a little. Still, how could she be angry once she found out what had happened? Too bad Uncle John wouldn't be there to hear! He would be amazed too.
A surge of energy exploded in his little body over the last few feet, and he threw himself through the gate and up to the front door in an excited frenzy.
"Mom!" he shouted gleefully as soon as he'd stepped over the threshold. "Mom, guess what! You're never going to believe…"
It felt like someone had tossed a heavy blanket over him when he entered the dining room. The air was thick and chill, the room itself noiseless as an abyss, sucking away every ounce of happiness in his duckling heart. What struck him most, however, was the sight of his mother.
She sat at the head of the table with her head in her hands, her golden hair surrounding her like a habit, and her normally pristine feathers were ashen and ruffled. Had she not been sniffling and had her shoulders not been trembling slightly, Drake might have thought she was dead.
All thought of what had happened to him that day vanished in the instant she jerked her head up with a start, scaring them both. Her eyes were swollen and red-rimmed with the tears that she was still shedding, and in the light of the hollow room the color of her irises seemed all the more bright and unreal as they shone with emotion. Her glasses lay just beyond her elbows, and when she recognized her son, she hastily wiped at her eyes and placed them crookedly back on her bill.
"Drake…" she sniffled, reaching for a clean tissue among the pile of used ones next to her. "Where have you been…? I've been so worried…"
"I'm home now, Momma," he said cautiously, trying to read her with little success. "I didn't mean to make you cry…"
"Oh, Drakey." She mustered a minute smile, but it was as empty as her eyes. "It's not that…it's…"
With a steadiness Drake wasn't even aware he possessed, he reached out and touched his mother's arm. "You can tell me, Momma. I'm a big boy now. And if it's a secret, I won't tell anybody. I promise."
Her gaze met his, and he felt inexplicably unnerved. A shiver went through him. She pulled him into her lap, holding him against her chest so fiercely he could hardly breathe, and stroked the feathers on top of his head absently. "What are we going to do, little one…?"
He felt the unmistakable wetness of tears falling onto his forehead. "Momma, why was Uncle John here?"
She started shaking again, and Drake felt guilty for making her more upset. He pulled back from her so that he could look up at her stricken face.
"Don't worry…Dad will know what to do."
A wail of anguish burst out of Gail's throat, and she shook her head, causing some of the tangled tendrils of hair to latch themselves to her tear-stained cheeks. "No he won't, Drake!" she cried mournfully. "No he won't! Don't you understand?"
He regarded her with a concern he didn't fully comprehend, and she took a breath before letting the horrible truth fall flatly from her lips.
"Your father is missing."
Over the next few weeks, it seemed as if a dark cloud had descended over the Mallard household. No one spoke to anyone unless it was absolutely necessary, and even then the words were empty and devoid of emotion. Drake could tell that his mother was doing her best to remain optimistic for her children, but neither of them were fooled by her hollow smiles and promises that their father would be back. It was hard to keep faith in a man who had seemed so uninterested in connecting with them.
Drake's older sister, Carrie, acted as though nothing had happened at all, and began spending more and more time with her friends from school to escape the dismal atmosphere of home. Drake dove into his comic books. When he was following the feats of daring heroes he so wanted to be like, it was almost like his father wasn't really gone. The super spies and flying do-gooders eased Drake's longing to see Jacob again, and it made it easier for Drake to pretend Jacob was stuck at work or was away on a top-secret mission. There was still hope that his father could be found and would come home, and Drake wasn't about to give up. Not as long as there were heroes in the world. He knew Uncle John had men out looking for his father, and he trusted the SHUSH director to find him.
There was a gentle knock on his bedroom door, but Drake kept his beak buried in The Adventures of Super Pig. His mother peeked in.
"Drakey, dinner's ready…"
"I'm not hungry."
"It's not good for you to be skipping meals…besides, I made your favorite."
"No thanks, Momma, I need to do more research."
Gail raised an eyebrow behind her small spectacles and approached her young son curiously. "Research for what?"
"So I can get Dad back. If Uncle John and SHUSH can't find him, then I'll do it myself. I know if he's in trouble, I can rescue him! I just have to practice some of these moves and learn how to use these gadgets…like Super Pig and Derek Blunt! Or Darkwing Du…I mean, Duck Tracy!"
She smiled and eyed the comic book with some amusement. Drake was so much like his father, full of enthusiasm and ambition, but failing to see the fault in his dreams. As much as she wanted to keep her son grounded, she would never be the one to tell him when he couldn't do something. The edge of the mattress sank slightly with her weight.
"Do you want to know the secret of Super Pig's power? Or where Derek Blunt gets his wit and charm?"
"Oh, that's easy," Drake responded matter-of-factly, pointing to a page in his comic. "Super Pig gets his super powers from the Trough of Triumph! And Derek Blunt was just born like that, I guess." The ten-year-old was silent for a few moments before sighing and closing the comic book. "I'll never be like them, will I?"
"That's only true if you believe it, Drakey," Gail said gently, brushing back her son's unruly hair feathers. "But you know…I met Derek Blunt."
Immediately Drake's eyes popped wide open. "You did? What was he like? Does he really have a robotic car? Can he really –"
"Ssh, ssh, let me finish!" Gail laughed. "He told me the secret of how to be a true hero… Do you want to know what it is?"
"Yes!" Drake whooped, bouncing on the bed and eagerly leaning toward his mother.
"All right. Derek Blunt said that the secret to being a true hero is to eat all of your vegetables and do exactly as your mother tells you."
Drake pouted and sat back on his webbed feet, completely disappointed. "Aww, Mom…"
"It's true," she said reassuringly. "Eating your vegetables helps you build muscle, so you can defeat those baddies without even trying! And the best part is, if you listen to your mother, you'll grow up with all of the wit and charm you'll need to outsmart your enemies."
"Well…I guess…" Drake replied dubiously.
Gail smiled and wrapped her son in her arms. "I know you'll be a great mallard one day. But right now, just…be a great kid, okay?"
Drake nodded and looked up into her hazel eyes. "Mom? If I eat all of my vegetables…can I have a Koo-Koo Cola float afterward?"
"We'll see. Come on, now. Supper's getting cold."
"Hey, how come Carrie doesn't have to eat dinner too?" Drake wondered aloud after he'd followed his mother to the dining room table and slid into his chair. They both looked over at his sister's vacant seat, and at the same time avoided his father's.
Gail frowned slightly, then looked at her watch. "She should have been back by now. She knows what time dinner is. She must still be out with that boy."
"That boy" was Cameron Reedman, captain of the St. Canard High School football team, and Carrie's most recent boyfriend.
Gail looked worriedly out of the dining room window toward the street. "She's coming home later and later these days…" Though it was a comment more to herself than to Drake, the duckling began to take on some of his mother's worry. He and Carrie had never been that close, having been born five years apart, but he felt that the both of them should be there to help their mother while their father was gone. Even though he was young, it didn't escape his understanding that Gail was struggling to keep herself together.
Still, he was ten years old. He looked down at his plate. "If Carrie isn't here to eat her vegetables, does that mean I still have to eat mine?"
He frowned. "That's not fair… Maybe I should stay out late and miss dinner, too."
"That's not funny, Drakey. Now put down that comic book and eat your food."
"Aww, Mom!" he cried, incredulous that she had seen through his misdirection and knew about the comic he'd slipped downstairs with him. Reluctantly he pulled it out from beneath his shirt and set it on top of the chair nearest him…his father's chair.
Briefly Drake stared at the empty spot and missed Jacob terribly, but he didn't want to upset his mother by reminding her of her husband's absence, so the duckling sat back upright quickly and gulped down a mouthful of mashed potatoes.
"Ifs gup, Nom," he said through chipmunk cheeks.
Gail laughed at her son. "Drakey, not such big bites! Slow down, or you'll get a stomachache."
He swallowed and grinned. "Okay, Momma." It was at that moment, as he watched his mother quietly eat her food, that Drake made a vow to himself that would carry him for the next three years. It would be up to him to keep his family's hope alive for Jacob's safe return, and he would do anything to keep that hope in place. Even though he couldn't quite grasp its significance, he knew that having that faith would keep them together.