Disclaimer: Darkwing Duck is the property of the Walt Disney Company.
It was a still, chilly autumn night in St. Canard. The moon, a thin crescent, half-risen in the deep indigo sky, cast hazy fingers of light across Audubon Bay. Fog crept in behind them, tendrils of mist gliding along the dark water towards the shore, where it would tumble over the breakwater and scale the rocky shoreline, then make its way through the streets, cloaking the city in a hushed blanket of mist. Headlights cut through the murk now and then, but most citizens of the fair city were ensconced in their homes, tucked in front of their televisions or fireplaces the same way each house was tucked away by the fog, isolated and cocooned in an opaque cover of atmosphere.
The lighthouse at Beaker's Point was no exception to this. It was already isolated, standing alone a block or two from the nearest buildings, which were mostly abandoned anyway; old warehouses left over from St. Canard's heyday as a shipping center, but once the fog enveloped it, anyone standing inside would have felt as though he was in a netherworld, surrounded by thick, impenetrable mist. Even the powerful lantern barely penetrated the gloom.
In fact, there was someone inside the lighthouse, though he wasn't contemplating the atmospheric quality of the night, nor his isolation once the fog had come up from the bay. In fact, he hadn't glanced out the window in hours. He hadn't done much of anything in hours, except stare at an old toaster sitting on a table, taking the same pieces out and putting them back in and again and repeatedly failing to achieve what he was attempting.
The truth was, whatever he'd started out trying to do, he'd long forgotten, and though he realized it, he kept tinkering in the hopes that it would come to him, like a—well, like a light bulb turning on in a dark room.
Megavolt sat back in his chair and rubbed at his neck, where he'd just realized there was a nasty crick. "Maybe the world will have to wait for…uh, whatever this was supposed to be, after all," he said, frustrated. Mostly he'd learned to live with his spotty and unreliable memory. Sometimes it wasn't an issue for days, even weeks, but it could sputter out on him at any moment, the most inconvenient of which had certainly been the time that he'd forgotten he was escaping from a crime scene and ended up handcuffed and stuffed into the sidecar of Darkwing Dork's motorcycle. But there was the odd moment that it got to him, made him wish for the time when it hadn't been like this.
At least, he assumed there was a time that it hadn't been like this. He couldn't remember, of course. Everything before that night in his high school science lab was a blur. No, calling it a blur implied that it took some kind of form in his memory. It was more like the static on an old television set on a channel that didn't come in. Sometimes you thought you saw something through the snow, or maybe heard something through the white noise, but you could never really be sure, and it was gone when you peered more closely at it.
"Any help, guys?" he asked a couple fluorescent tubes leaning up against the wall. They remained silent and he sighed. Sometimes not even his dearest friends understood him, or what he was trying to accomplish. The loneliness of genius, he supposed. Though he didn't like to think of himself as lonely. That implied that he needed, even longed for, company, when he didn't. Company was nice, sure. Sometimes. That hair dryer he'd rescued from a garbage can and repaired had a sharp, sarcastic sense of humor that Megavolt appreciated. The light bulbs he liked, of course, but they tended to be so eager to please. That was why they stayed, uncomplaining, in their sockets across this cruel city. And why they needed him.
He thought about that. Being needed—that, he didn't mind.
Stretching his arms over his head, and tipping the chair slightly too far back in the process so that he had to quickly grab at the table to keep from toppling over backwards, he decided maybe he could take a break. With a glance out the window, though, at the wall of fog outside, he also decided that he wouldn't be leaving the lighthouse. One of the headlights was out on his car, after all.
Suddenly, a faint sound, like a motor muffled by the fog, reached his ears. He tensed, concerned for a moment about police or certain loud-mouthed crime fighters, but then relaxed when he thought he recognized it. If the twanging that accompanied the motor was any indication, then the vehicle in question was probably a souped-up pogo stick, and its driver was probably Quackerjack.
Megavolt reached for a remote on one corner of the table and rapidly punched in a code that turned off his security system and unlocked the door, so that when Quackerjack didn't knock, as he invariably did not, there'd be no need to get up and enter the override code for the wailing security alarm.
Quackerjack didn't bounce up the stairs two or three at a time like he normally did. Instead, he trudged up them, the bells on his hat giving a tired jingle with each step. When he finally came into view, he announced, a declarative finger stuck into the air, "Megavolt! Just the super-villain I wanted to see!"
This wasn't necessarily something to be flattered by, but Megavolt propped his elbows on the table and asked, "Yeah? Does it have anything to do with the fact that you look like hell?"
Quackerjack grinned manically and came further into the room, though he seemed to stumble on his first step. "Let's see if you can guess, shall we?"
"That's a pretty easy game, Quacky. Looks like you had a run-in with Dimwing Duck." Megavolt eyed him. One of his sleeves was mostly shredded and there was a deep scrape on his hand, plus the usual assortment of bumps and bruises that such a run-in usually resulted in.
"Well, look at you, got it in one."
Megavolt grinned briefly, but then the smile fell off his face as he said, "Wait, you got into a fight with Darkwing, and then you came here? How do you know he didn't follow you, you nitwit?!"
"Ha!" Quackerjack waved a dismissive hand—the one with the scrape on it—then winced and grabbed at his elbow. "Because I was…careful," he replied. When Megavolt just gave him a flat, annoyed look in response to this unconvincing statement, Quackerjack grinned sheepishly and added, "And this fog's too thick for anyone to see where I went, besides."
Megavolt rolled his eyes. "What happened, anyway?"
"Well, I was out having fun," Quackerjack began.
"Or at least your questionable definition of it."
Quackerjack glared. "If my definition of fun was more universally accepted for the truth that it is, then this world would be a far more joyful and happy place!"
With a sniff, Megavolt went back to making no progress with the toaster. "For the hospitals getting all the extra work, maybe. Not so much for the burn victims and all the double amputees that got in the way of your toy teeth."
The duck was silent for a moment. This was so uncharacteristic that Megavolt glanced up at him, wondering if he'd actually said something to hurt Quackerjack's feelings. Well, Quackerjack's feelings were pretty delicate anyway, but it usually took some mention of Whiffle Boy to really get him riled up. Mere mention of the more violent properties of his toys was more likely to elicit a proud glow from him.
"That's kind of the thing, Megs," Quackerjack said, sounding a little embarrassed. He hitched his tattered sleeve up almost to his shoulder and twisted his arm so that Megavolt could get a good view. "How are you with a needle and thread?"
Quackerjack had to look around for Megavolt, though, because the rat had jumped up from the table, knocking his chair over in the process, and retreated several feet in the span of about a second and a half. "What?" Megavolt asked in a strangled voice, staring despite himself. The scrape on Quackerjack's hand wasn't just a scrape. Underneath his sleeve, it turned into a long and progressively deeper gash as it traveled up his arm to just below his elbow. Blood was smeared liberally all across the feathers of his forearm, making it look even worse than it was—and it was, as far as Megavolt was concerned, bad.
"I'd do it myself," Quackerjack was going on, once he'd located Megavolt again, "the stitches, I mean, except when I tried I couldn't really see and I kept pricking myself and it hurt." He indicated a spot near his wrist that was, indeed, pock-marked with small dots of scabby blood. "So can you help, Megs old buddy old pal?"
"Uh." Megavolt felt faint. He had never liked blood, an unfortunate dilemma given that as a super-villain, he found himself in plenty of situations where he was drawing it or having it drawn from himself. Of course, in the heat of battle, such things were easier to countenance, and one of the benefits of being super-charged with electricity was the ability to cauterize all of one's own wounds. "Can't you go to the hospital or something?"
Quackerjack cradled his bad arm and looked at Megavolt like he was an idiot. "Oh, sure, right," he said, elongating the last word's one syllable. "Good idea, Megavolt! I just blew a hole in the side of the Whiffle Boy factory and strung the floor manager up by his ankles! No one will be looking for me!"
"Yeah, well," Megavolt said, still not quite able to take his eyes off the bleeding gash, despite how it was making his stomach feel, "maybe no one knew it was you."
Pulling on the tassels of his hat with his good hand, Quackerjack said in annoyance, "No, remember? That Whiffle-loving meanie Darkwing Duck showed up. Mr. History Doll was really about to have his way with that floor manager, too."
Sometimes, with Quackerjack—no, scratch that—usually, with Quackerjack, it was better not to ask. Megavolt steadied himself with a hand on the back of the couch. "You like disguises, don't you? Wear one to the hospital."
"Oh, I couldn't possibly choose one before the blood loss gets to me," Quackerjack said dismissively. "Come on," he said, approaching Megavolt. "It's easy! I've done it tons of times! It's even kind of fun, like playing doctor! Do you have some disinfectant around here or something?"
This, at least, was something easy he could do. In fact, once in the tiny bathroom, he did Quackerjack one better and dug some gauze out from the back of the medicine cabinet, as well as the disinfectant, which, he realized as he shook it, he needed more of. He'd have to make a quick robbery at the drug store next time he was out.
When he returned, Quackerjack had commandeered his chair, and Megavolt thrust the gauze and bottle of disinfectant into his hands, looking away as the duck liberally dumped disinfectant on the wound and wiped at it. A wadded up and bloody piece of gauze landed in Megavolt's averted field of vision. "I had no idea you were this squeamish, Sparky."
"Well, excuse me if sewing your arm back together doesn't sound like my idea of a fun Saturday night."
"You're excused, though I think if you'd give it a chance you might have more fun than you think." Quackerjack grinned and Megavolt rolled his eyes. "Plus, it's Tuesday."
"Whatever." Holding up a sparking finger, Megavolt asked, "Why don't you just let me take care of it my way?"
"Because," Quackerjack began in an amiable tone, before shouting, "I'd like to still have an arm tomorrow!" He dug around in his pocket and pulled out a sewing kit, then threw it at Megavolt.
It hit him on the nose, and he jammed his hands onto his hips, glaring. "I don't sew, you nitwit!"
"Fine," Quackerjack sighed melodramatically. "Then I'll just bleed to death!"
For a minute or two, the two of them faced off, Megavolt glaring furiously and Quackerjack slouched in the chair, his legs stuck out in front of him and his bloody arm draped across his lap. There was blood actually pooling and then dripping down onto his pants in troublingly red rivulets, but Quackerjack took no notice. It occurred to Megavolt that Mr. Banana Brain hadn't put in a single appearance, which said a lot about how Quackerjack was feeling—certainly more than the duck himself was letting on, and it wasn't like he was shy about sharing how he felt. Come to think of it, he was looking a little pale, which was worrying.
"Quackerjack," Megavolt said, hearing his voice take on a distinct whining note, "I can't."
"What do you mean, you can't?" Quackerjack demanded. "You're supposed to be my friend!"
Megavolt had never actually applied that word, not without a myriad of qualifiers, to any of his villainous comrades. Even if that was what they were, even if he had some small amount of affection for the other members of the Fearsome Four, the time to play that card was not, if you asked him, which clearly no one was since there was a bleeding moron sitting in the middle of his living room, when you needed serious medical attention.
Still, if he was going to call any of them his friend—he supposed it would be Quackerjack, with his loony and off-kilter sense of fun.
With a sigh, Megavolt reached down and picked up the sewing kit. "What color thread do you want?" he asked sardonically, not quite willing to believe he was going to do this.
"Ooh, something bright!"
Studying the kit, which was full of reds and purples and pinks and blues, Megavolt replied, "You might have to be more specific."
Quackerjack crossed his ankles and tilted his head. "I'd say you can choose but your sartorial decisions are pretty suspect."
"How about blue? It'll match your eyes," Megavolt snapped.
"Aw, do you think? How nice of you to notice, Megsy!"
Megavolt just muttered under his breath as he pulled the needle and thread out and threaded the latter through the former. Then, trying not to feel queasy, he dragged another chair over and sat down, hunching over Quackerjack's arm. He raised the needle, staring first at it, then at the bleeding wound in a sort of horrified fascination. "Did you actually mean that?" Megavolt asked suddenly, hesitating before he actually stuck the needle into Quackerjack's skin.
"Mean what? Are you stitching yet?"
Megavolt drew back a little. "You said we're friends."
Crossing his eyes, Quackerjack said, "Well, if you don't want to be friends, Megs, just keep on not sewing my arm up. I'll be dead in no time."
"Don't be an idiot." Megavolt took a breath and brought the needle back towards Quackerjack's wrist, squinting to decide where he should aim for. Then, letting the breath out, he added, "Once you lost consciousness I'd just throw you in my car and drop you off at the hospital."
"You wouldn't!" Quackerjack gasped. "They'd incarcerate me!"
"Yeah, and I could go back to working instead of getting your blood all over my gloves!" He was trying not to think about that aspect of this, actually. It was bad enough that somehow he'd agreed to do this—and he didn't even remember agreeing but somehow he thought that wasn't his memory and just the fact that Quackerjack was whiny and annoying and oddly persuasive—but the fact that he was going to have to throw out the pair of gloves burned him even more.
"Well, you're not a very good friend, are you?"
"I never said I was!" Megavolt scowled. Suddenly, jabbing the needle into Quackerjack's arm had become much more appealing, though not for any of the right reasons. "You can't just show up at people's houses bleeding everywhere and expecting them to do something about it, you know!"
Looking affronted, Quackerjack said, "I already told you, I couldn't see to do it myself!"
He was looking more and more pale, and for the first time, Megavolt considered how much blood his occasional partner-in-crime had to have lost. Suddenly it didn't seem worth the energy to be annoyed—neither his own, nor Quackerjack's. "Okay, okay," he muttered, not even really sure what he was resigning himself to. After all, he was already holding the threaded needle.
Quackerjack's eyes slid halfway closed for a moment before he opened them again. It seemed like it was more of a struggle than it should have been. "I just figured," he began in a stiff tone, "that I could count on you to help me if I needed it."
Instead of answering, Megavolt just stared down at Quackerjack's bleeding arm and tried to remember that he'd just decided not to lose his temper. Glancing at the needle and thread again, he wondered how bad of a medical decision it was to use plain old thread for stitches. But if Quackerjack didn't care, then far be it for Megavolt to.
He grit his teeth, narrowed his eyes, and sewed.
Quackerjack didn't even manage to stay awake for the whole horrible process. Or maybe he'd passed out. But he was breathing when Megavolt dragged him into his own bed and left him there, so he didn't concern himself too much.
So maybe he checked on Quackerjack once. Or twice. And maybe he threw a blanket over the duck before he went to bed himself out on the couch, sometime just before dawn, when the fog was still as thick as sludge and his only indication that the sun was about to come up was the alarm clock perched on top of the refrigerator.
The sun had burned all of it off by mid-morning, though, which was when Megavolt jolted himself awake with an accidental electric shock. "Ooh," he groaned, putting both hands to the side of his head. "Haven't had one of those so bad since I was a kid."
Then he looked around at his surroundings, wondering why he'd fallen asleep on the couch. Something he'd been doing the previous night… Working? But his bed wasn't even fifteen steps away, and a lot more comfortable, and all he could recall was that he'd been trying to work, getting nothing done, and then being interrupted—
He sat up and twisted around to look through the door of his bedroom. The shades were drawn in there and it was dark, but Megavolt could just about make out the shape of one curly-toed shoe, hanging off the side of the bed. He turned back around and yawned once, then got to his feet with a stretch and went to peer in at Quackerjack. Fast asleep and snoring. Megavolt just hoped his stitches had been good enough to keep most of the blood off his bed and in Quackerjack's veins. Mostly for the sake of his sheets. But a little bit for Quackerjack's health, too.
Quietly, he made his way back towards the kitchen, snagging his goggles as he did so and fitting them over his eyes. His kitchen appliances were clustered around a window that had an unobstructed view of the Audubon Bay Bridge, and Megavolt leaned against the wall, looking out the window as he boiled water for instant coffee. Traffic was still thick on the bridge, even this long past rush hour. So much innocent citizenry to be terrorized, so little time. Then again, they weren't innocent, they were all oppressors. His gaze turned glowering. Maybe, since it was such a nice day out, he'd take a drive over to the bridge and zap a little life into those cars…
His musing was interrupted by a voice asking, "I hope you made enough coffee for me to have some, Sparky."
Megavolt clenched his fists at his sides, sparks sputtering at his whiskers, and whirled to face Quackerjack, who still looked pale but otherwise was grinning as though he hadn't a care in the world. "Don't make me regret helping you out," he snarled. There was a little blood on Quackerjack's arm, but some of it was probably left over from the wound's initial bleeding. The stitches seemed to have held through the night. They looked even more ridiculously blue in the sunlight streaming cheerfully in through the windows.
"You won't," the duck said brightly.
Muttering, Megavolt poured and handed him a mug-full of coffee, then asked, with a nod towards the stitched arm, "You never told me how you managed to do that to yourself, anyway."
"Oh." Quackerjack looked bored by the subject, and he took a slurp of coffee before answering, "Dorkwing Drip shot a grappling hook from his boring gas gun. I don't even think he was aiming for me."
"What's that duck ever aiming for, except inflating his own ego?"
Quackerjack chortled. "You said it, Spar—er, Megavolt," he hastily amended.
Megavolt leaned back against the wall again, crossing an arm over his chest as he blew steam off his coffee. Neither of them said anything for a minute, the silence…companionable, even though every time he caught a glimpse of the blue thread holding Quackerjack's arm together, Megavolt felt a little flicker of irritation, which he had to let pass before he tried to sip at his coffee, just in case he sparked and shorted himself out on the liquid.
Then, Quackerjack cleared his throat, breaking the silence. "Hey," he said, "I meant it."
"Huh?" Megavolt gave him a baffled look, then looked around the room as though it held an answer to this querying syllable. "Were we just having a conversation that I don't remember?"
Quackerjack looked at him like he was nuts, which wasn't exactly fair, as far as Megavolt was concerned. "Last night?" he prodded, as though it was obvious. "I said you're supposed to be my friend, you asked if I meant it?"
"Um…" Megavolt narrowed his eyes in concentration, then scratched at his head, puzzled not by the fact that he couldn't remember this insignificant moment, but by the fact that he could. "Sure. I figured you were just trying to guilt me into helping you."
"Well, obviously." Quackerjack clapped him on the back, making coffee slop almost over the edge of Megavolt's mug. "But I still meant it."
For a second, Megavolt just stared at him. Then, he shook his head. "Quacky," he said, "believe me, I know. If you come barging in here at two in the morning dripping blood everywhere, and then I sew up your arm, we're friends. What, do you think I'd do that for an acquaintance?"
Looking amused and delighted—not that that was unusual—Quackerjack replied, "Not really." He glanced at his wounded arm. "Thanks, by the way. For the place to sleep, too."
"And the coffee," Megavolt said.
"And the coffee," Quackerjack repeated dutifully. "Even though it's instant."
Megavolt hesitated before finally grumbling, "You're welcome. But don't do it again."
"Okay, sure," Quackerjack said. Then, with a wide grin, he added, "You probably won't remember telling me that, anyway."
Drawing himself up to his full height, Megavolt said indignantly, "You know, there are some things that I remember. If it was as bad as everyone acts like it is, I'd get lost coming home!" He didn't mention the fact that the previous week he had, in fact, gotten lost coming home. Well, not gotten lost, precisely. He knew St. Canard from its electrical grid up. He'd known where he was, he'd just temporarily forgotten where he was going.
Quackerjack snorted with disbelief but didn't argue, for once. What Megavolt could have said was that he'd never forget the sight of all that blood and the fact that someone wanted him to do something about it. Then he looked around the room, rescued light bulbs placed lovingly where they wanted to be and not where their slave-masters put them, broken appliances in various stages of repair before he released them back into the world, and he realized it wasn't the blood—though, of course, that was a major component. It was that he didn't forget his friends. That the blue thread stitching up Quackerjack's arm might as well have been stitching their friendship indelibly into place.
As stupid as it sounded to him in his own mind, and as crazy as Quackerjack was, and as much as he liked being on his own, St. Canard's own mad, electrified genius wreaking havoc, he had to admit—the idea of having a friend, one with blood (as he knew all too well) instead of voltage running through his veins, very nearly made the ordeal of the previous night worthwhile.
Megavolt gulped down his now lukewarm coffee and set the mug down with finality. "So," he said with a grin, "since friends don't let friends get one-upped by walking, talking masked egos, want to pay Dorkwing back tonight?"
The stitches broke during said payback. This time, Megavolt insisted on robbing a hospital before he redid them.