"Duck..." Ace's eyes lingered on me, a hint of anger in them. With a sigh, he softened his look. "I know you work hard, I'm not saying you don't." The rabbit paused before continuing. "All I'm saying is that you could use a little work, and I'm trying to help you with that. You're a member of the team, just like everyone else." He took in a deep breath before turning away from me. "Keep that in mind..." Ace stood there for a moment, making sure that I had nothing left to say before starting towards his room for the night, leaving me sitting alone in the lounge. I'd gone and done it again, shot my beak off, said something stupid, something that I regretted, that I wished I could take back. I couldn't though, so I just slumped down on the couch and accepted that. All I'd wanted was to be noticed, to be appreciated for what I've done, what I've sacrificed for the team. I sat there for a moment, thinking about just how heavy the meaning was behind the light words that Ace had spoken.

He'd been like this for as long as I could remember, but he'd been even tougher on me for the past few missions that we'd been on. We'd had trouble dealing with Sypher and Otto the Odd earlier this month, and they both managed to escape twice. I knew that the rabbit had blamed me then, even if he hadn't said anything. And tonight wasn't any exception.

We'd gotten back from a mission less than an hour ago. Dr. Dare had escaped again thanks to a mishap we'd encountered while dealing with Mastermind. Guess who's fault that was? Mine. Ace said I needed to work on showing off less. And we had trouble when dealing with Mastermind; our team got knocked out twice. My fault again. Danger Duck was right; Ace had said that I needed to be more careful around my teammates. I could hear him jeering at me, hear him thinking that I needed more training, that I wasn't ready to be a superhero.

Tonight Ace had been criticizing me for problems that I'd been having during our recent fights. He called it constructive criticism but I knew better than that, I knew what he was really saying.

When he told me that I needed to help out the rest of the team more, I heard it.

...I was useless...

When he told me that I needed to actually try and help with our problems, I heard it.

...Saying I was useless...

When he told me that I needed to work on learning how to use my powers better, how I could contribute more, I could hear it.

He was saying I was useless.

Though I'd never heard the words leave his mouth, I knew he wanted to say them, I knew the entire team wanted to say them. I could see through the facade they put up, the fake words that they spoke.

And when all I heard from him were those fake, fake words, what else could I do? What else could I say? Why me? Why was I the one who was always wrong? "You should be praising me on how hard I work, not telling me to work harder!"

"Du-"

"I'm the best in this team, you should know that by now! I work my feathery ass off and all you do is rant on about improving this and improving that!? Why should I give a crap!? Why should I bother when you can't even see how great I am!?"

And then the rabbit tells me that I need a little work, on my ego, on my fighting skills... Right... What he wants to say is that I'm beyond hope.

But they don't get me, they don't know what makes me tick. They think that all I care about is myself, that I just want the be the one in the spotlight, garnering all that undeserved glory. But with the way that people treat me, and what they think about me, I need to put myself first. Because if I don't care about myself, then who will? All I needed was one chance to prove myself...

My eyes wandered over to the clock that sat above the television. It read 12:27 AM. I'd been sitting here alone for the past half hour. I slouched further into the couch, my loneliness urging me to drift off into thought again.

I'd been ignored for most of my life, pushed around, abandoned. I ended up in an orphanage not because I didn't have parents, but because they'd never wanted me. I was that accident that was pushed put of sight and never mentioned again. The friendships I made at the orphanage were only there because we needed to know that we mattered, that we were someone, and we gave each other that support until families came along to adopt us. It's not like they really cared though. No one ever really did. Not even the family that adopted me. Sure, they paid for my education and helped me get a job, but that was it. They were never there for me, and left me to fend on my own. I was just 'Duck,' because I didn't matter. And when not even Pinkster, the closest thing I ever had to a friend, bothered to try and learn my name, why should it be any different with the Loonatics.

They look down on me, avoid me when they can, because I'm just the bottom of the barrel to them. I'm that guy who can't do anything right. And yet I work as hard as I fucking can to get them to notice me. I've always worked hard for that. I've put as much work and effort into pleasing the assholes that surround me throughout my life, trying to impress them, fighting as hard as I can just to be seen. I did everything I could to be noticed in the orphanage, whatever I could to be adopted, because I wanted to be recognized. I slaved to get the acknowledgment of my adoptive family, and I'm still pushing myself as hard as I can, constantly thinking about how I can finally be acclaimed by my team, given a simple pat on the back for my work, even if I always seem to mess things up in one way or another.

So I make mistakes, I know I'm not perfect, and I know it more and more every day. Every single time we have a mission, I hear them taunt me with my mistakes, every single thing that I do wrong. I accidentally hinder the team or slip up when fighting, and they take me down. They push me, so I push back, and I toil, but to them I just can't get it right. I try harder and harder every day, but the harder I try, the less I find that I can do it. I have to be seen as a hero, as a capable warrior; I do everything I can to live up to that image, to that symbol, but I just can't do it. I can't be who I need to be, no matter how much I need it. No matter how much strength, or courage, or confidence I need, I just can't muster it. I don't have anyone to support me, to keep me going, to help me; I've got no one but myself. There's no one else to worry about me or push me that extra mile. I need to live up to my expectations. If I had one chance, if I could just do something incredible, maybe then... But, will that chance ever come?

I spread out across the couch, and tried getting comfortable, but with the way I felt, I wasn't even sure if I knew what comfortable was anymore. These people condemned me, but why? Why wouldn't they ever give me a second thought, or an opportunity to prove myself? Why didn't I matter to them? I closed my eyes and settled in, my mind swimming with thoughts. What was really the point in heading back to my room anyway? And besides, who would even care? I might as well just sleep here, uniform and all...

...A 'member of the team' my ass...

xxx

BZZZT BZZT!

There was a buzzing in the darkness.

BZZZT BZZT!

Was it Zadavia?

BZZZT BZZT!

Should I even bother getting up to answer her?

BZZZT BZZT!

After all, she didn't care; that much had been apparent from the start. To this woman who'd gone through all the effort to gather us together, provide us a place to live and the resources that we'd need in order to make it through our missions and live on our own, this woman who made herself out to be such a motherly figure to our team, I was nothing but an afterthought. She ignored me every time that we met, every time she talked to us. All my worries, all my questions and suggestions were pushed off to the side, and I was always chastised for anything that I said. And her standard, 'good job' response that she gave when we came back from a mission, that didn't seem to cover me either. I was always the bad one, the figure that she just didn't care about.

I was the one who blew it without even noticing, and probably always would.

Yet another bitter thought to go with my bitter mood.

BZZZT BZZT!

I looked at the clock that sat on the shelve above it. It read 3:24 AM. I pulled myself off the couch and looked around for where the noise was coming from, then slowly started towards the door of the lounge. If it was an alarm, then she'd be summoning the team. Her team. The team that she'd put together. Even just looking at that team, I didn't belong.

We had Ace, the leader, the one who made sure that the missions went well and thought on his feet, Rev, the speed, who could get anything that we needed done in a flash, Slam, the manpower, who was strong enough for any mission, Lexi, the support, always backing the team up when they needed it in one way or another, and...

BZZZT BZZT!

I stopped, noticing the vibrating communicator that lay on one of the shelves next to the entrance. The triangular button on it blinked green. It was Tech's.

Tech, the genius, the brains and gadgets behind our team and operations. Even the socially inept coyote had a place on this goddamn team. So why not me? What did I have to do to fit in, to find my place here and finally get the respect that I deserved!?

I picked up the communicator and pushed the button.

BZZZT BZ-

The noise cut off into silence, leaving me with the coyote's gizmo in my hand. If I could just-

"Hello?" I jolted a little from the unexpected voice. I glanced down towards the communicator. "Hello, is anyone there?" The voice had a fuzzy quality to it as it made its way through the small speaker housed inside of the device. I pulled it up to face level, hesitating for a moment before responding.

"Yeah, what is it?" Why should I care who's calling on that mutt's channel? Why should I bother staying around to figure out what he wants? I stood there for a moment, hoping that an answer would come to me, but none did. There was just as much reason for me to stay on the call as there was for me to be awake: none. I'd put my finger on the button, ready to terminate the call, when the voice came on again, raspier then it had been before, panicked almost.

"You're not Tech!"

"So sue me," I said, the sarcasm dripping from my mouth. I didn't miss a beat.

"Look," it said, "My name is Dr. Meridiv." The doctor started speaking faster, and I could head the fear now. "I've been working on something for Tech, but someone's after it. They're breaking into my lab as we speak. I need help. Hurr-" There was a crash and the call cut out with a clicking sound. I raised an eyebrow as I stood there for a moment.

Help? He wanted help? This guy who I didn't even know had just asked me to make my way down there and save his ass. I took a step out into the kitchen, looking at Tech's communicator. Why would the coyote trust anyone so incompetent? I shrugged, ignoring the flicker of a thought and silently quacking my way up to Tech's lab. If I could just do something incredible... Maybe then... But what I needed to do now was alert the team, and probably let them handle it on their own. After all, who would bother taking anyone but 'team perfect' on an emergency rescue mission. I'd just crash and burn again. I'd end up blasting an egg in the wrong direction and hitting Slam, or I'd bump into Ace and jeopardize the entire mission. All I'd manage to do if I went with them is put everyone in danger again, after all I was 'Danger' Duck. I slowly wandered over to Tech's work table, leaning on it a little and getting ready to give him the wake up call. Might as well get it over with. But...

I stopped as I saw the piece of paper that was sitting on the side of his desk. It had the name of the Doctor that I'd just spoken to on it, and his address as well. Figures the chump would just have it lying around like this. My eyes flitted over the words written on it. Heh, so they'd be heading downtown. I'd be able to keep an eye on what was going on from the window if I wanted to, watch them save the day again. It wasn't that far from here...

I picked up the paper, and took another look at it. ...It wasn't that far from here...

...But what if I didn't crash and burn...?

...If I could just do something incredible...

I crumpled up the paper in my hand and quacked down to the docking bay as quietly as I could.

I had to, I needed to...

I hopped on one of the hoverbikes and focused, pressing the on button as I quacked myself and the bike outside. The two of us dropped a story or two before the engines revved to life and the bike flew forward into the air, banking and turning in harmony with me as I slowly came to street level.

This could be it, this had to be it...

I pulled hard to the side and swerved around the corner, driving as fast as I could. The humming of the bike resonated in my ears. I couldn't be late, I wouldn't be late... I'd make it...

It was finally time...

Maybe once they saw, once they laid eyes on what I'd done... Maybe then they'd know just what I could do...

...Glory...

The vehicle flew down the road, and I could feel the wind ruffling my feathers.

What I was about to do... I knew I'd only get one shot... but...

...I only needed one chance...

And I'd make sure... I wouldn't fail, not now...

...Because...

No matter what...

I would finally show them...

...I'd have my glory...

...Just once...

...And then they'd finally see...

Me.

xxx

Big thanks to iwolf208 for beta-reading this.