Not So Happily Ever After

Tanya pushed the newspaper away with a disgusted sigh after reading the article entitled " Duck duo's dirty doings?" After the press had somehow been informed of Tanya and Duke's relationship, the tabloids and papers has had a hay-day. (Tanya suspected Phil and was plotting revenge accordingly.) The picture accompanying the article had been taken during a recent hockey match. The opposing left defense man had tripped Tanya, making her accidentally fall on top of Duke. With some alterations and a change of background, the picture looked rather incriminating to those who didn't know the ducks personally. Which was, oh… maybe 99% of California. Tanya sighed again. "That is SO embarrassing."

Mallory gave her friend a sympathetic glance from across the table. "Things will work out, Tanya, I promise you," she said, briefly showing the hidden, kinder part of her nature.

It had been the same for her and Wildwing (when they had first been deemed an 'item') and now the paparazzi had some 'new meat', to coin a phrase. It was at that moment Nosedive wandered sleepily into the room, bumping into the door a few times as he entered. The other groggy male occupants of the Pond followed behind him.

Nosedive lifted half an eyelid at the two female ducks. " How can you girlie-girls get up so early?"

Mallory snorted. " 7:30am is not that early, Dive."

"The early bird does get the worm," Grin rumbled.

"Yeah" Nosedive countered " But the late bird gets…the bottom-of-the-pot coffee!" He dove on the mug of black liquid. " Wahoo!"

Duke chuckled as he took his seat next to Tanya with his own cup of brew, but immediately stopped when he noticed the look on her face. " What's da' matter Angel?" He asked, using her favorite nickname. Tanya pushed the newspaper in his direction. " Read" She instructed. He did so, flushing then glowering at the text. Duke then stood up and with great flourish, dumped the paper in the waste receptacle. " That's where trash like that belongs" Tanya managed a weak smile.

"Don't let it get to you, Taunny" Nosedive said, in between bites of his favorite cavity inducing cereal.

"Yeah, you know those papers never care about facts anyway." Wildwing commented, reading another section of the paper. " All that's in it is for them is a story. We know that and I'm sure the honest public does too" He said, giving her an encouraging grin. This time Tanya managed a genuine smile. It was wonderful to have such caring friends. Actually, they were more than friends now, to her at least, they were family.

Duke stood in front of his bathroom mirror, nothing but a towel covering him from waste to shin. " Ms. Vanderflock," he pantomimed to the mirror, " Would ya' make me the happiest man, er, duck..No, to corny."

" Tanya would ya…"

" Angel, would ya consider.." After several such false starts Duke ran a hand through his hair, distraught. " I'm neva goin' to get this right. " He muttered.

Tanya knocked shyly at his door. " Duke, you there?" He quickly flung a robe on and opened the door. Tanya flushed slightly at the sight. " Yeah sweetheart?"

"I was just, uh, wondering, since we have the night free tonight, if you, kinda, wanted to go out."

Duke smiled. " Sure thing, kid."

He had been going to ask her the exact same thing, as soon as he had gotten dressed, that is. Sometimes he swore Tanya was psychic. " How does 7:00 o'clock sound?"

"Only problem is, how are we going to get there?" Tanya asked that evening. Deciding on somewhere not too fancy, Tanya was dressed in one might call casual-formal. That is, a good pair of slacks and nice sweater. She and Duke were standing in the pond's garage, trying to find a ride that wouldn't attract much attention.

"A Duck-cycle then, I guess." Tanya raised an eyebrow.

"A? as in one? singular?" " Duke shrugged. " No use wastin' gas. We 're going to the same place aren't we?" Tanya's expression remained the same. The female duck had a sneaky suspicion that there was another reason besides being environmentally friendly.

The ducks put on their helmets and mounted the cycle, Tanya sitting in back, wrapping her arms around Duke's waste. " I'm expecting this to be an extremely smooth ride, as Anaheim's road's are paved." Tanya commented dryly before they left. Duke gave her a guilty smile and rolled his eye. She had caught him.

" Yes ma'am."

"Good."

Duke revved the engine, but before they took off, Tanya leaned over his shoulder. "Although," she whispered. " I can see if there might be a few potholes every now and then." The playful smile returned to Duke's beak and he sped through the exit as the billboard rose, shooting into the Anaheim twilight.

It wasn't until the fourth or fifth stoplight that the ducks ran into trouble. No, no evil villain or dime stores crook. This was worse. Channel 14 news.

"Isn't that.." Tanya began, nodding her head in the direction of the news van. And Cindy Plebes, Channel 14's female newscaster, who at the moment was interviewing the owner of a local newsstand on the corner.

"Yeah, it is. Just don't look at them and maybe they won't see us." Seconds passed gruelingly slowly, Duke's foot itchy to push the accelerator. Surprisingly, there were no cars at the other three lanes of the intersection, but the law was the law and they couldn't go until the light turned green.

The other streetlight turned yellow then red. Duke tensed, and his foot tapped the pedal a tiny bit. It wasn't much, but…it was enough make the duckcycles engine backfire. Duke caught a swear word on the tip of his tounge. Maybe she wouldn't notice, or maybe Cindy would be too busy to try anything…

The spunky girl reporter's head whipped around at the noise and she recognized them at once. "Mr. L' Orange? Ms.Vanderflock! Could you spare a minute!?" Never count on a maybe when dealing with reporters.

"Hang on," he ordered Tanya and slammed on the accelerator, forcing the cycle into an almost wheelie before taking off. "After them!" Cindy shouted at her cameraman as he hastily dumped his equipment into the back of the news van. " Hurry, hurry! I still might have time for an exclusive interview!"

Tanya looked back in dismay at the rapidly approaching van. " They're still coming!" She hollered.

Duke swerved down a side street, then doubled back to the main road and took a right. The Channel 14 news followed diligently.

Duke growled. " This is just like being tailed by the cops!"

Tanya smirked. " Of course, you'd have the experience in that department." He winced and chuckled. " Low blow, sweetheart." He looked behind him. The van was still there. "Maybe we can't loose 'em, but at least we can put some space between us." He said, speeding up and dodging the car in front of him. Then, without warning, Duke turned hard right, forcing Tanya to hold on tightly. After several such turns, Duke ran the cycle into an alley way and cut the engine.

"Duke! What are you doing?"

" Be quiet and help me push this thing!" He ordered, pushing the cycle down the alley and behind a dumpster, then hunkering down behind it himself. Tanya tilted her head to the side in confusion, but followed his example. No sooner had they hunkered down then they heard a large vehicle rumble by. The news van. It slowed ominously in front of the alley, but seeing nothing, they continued on. The news van ended up circling the block a few times, before hurrying away in search of the ducks that had mysteriously vanished.

Tanya wiped her brow. "That was close!" Duke smiled. " Hey, I'm not lettin' anythin' ruin our evening." He said, nervously fingering the small box in his pocket. At least, he hoped.

Despite the delay, the two ducks still managed to arrive at Casa de Tigre' in time for their reservations. Duke fidgeted as they waited for their food to arrive. 'No time like the present.' He thought to himself, and getting up from his seat, he knelt in front of Tanya.

"Miss Vanderflock, would you…"

(A/n: Mean place to stop, huh? ^^ I'm asking for at least 4 reviews on this part to continue. I hate to do it, but I also hate having stories out there that no one cares enough about to review.)