The Forgotten (MA)

((OOC: As of right now this is reserved for Piper/ Jade and Jacob. If anyone else wants in, message me. Keep in mind that at times this will be MA themed, and I think I will have it marked so that people can avoid it if they choose.))

---

It started small.... barely noticeable at first. 

A homeless person was missing. 

Okay, so perhaps they were vagrant and had simply moved on? It wasn't unheard of. Easily dismissed and not taken as a top priority. Then a few more happened... And then several more. 

Before long, it was not just the homeless that were coming up missing. Piper was sitting on her futon, pouring over a college course selection book, highlighter balancing precariously on the end of her bill as she scanned her choices. Her thoughts, admittedly, were not on the weak and vulnerable of St. Canard. Rather, on which classes she would start at St. Canard University. 

She was just about to draw a neon mark over "Biochemistry" when the news report blaring from her TV caught her ear. 

Reporter: "Good afternoon folks, Guy Everyman here with a special bulletin from St. Canard P.D. Officials would like to ask the general public to keep on the look out for one Prissy Puffington, of St. Canard's upper north side. She went missing around 2 PM last night, and her parents are offering a fifty thousand dollar reward for anyone who can offer a tip to lead to her safe return." A picture of a small Puffin in what was clearly a designer dress flashed across screen. " She is 20 years old, stands three foot, four inches and has black and white feathering. If you have seen her, or know her location, please contact the number below."

The screen flashed back to the reporter. "Miss Puffington's disappearance is one of several that have been sweeping the city in the past few months, and with the growing number of reports, rumors of a trafficking ring have began to circulate. St. Canard P.D. has not confirmed this, but urgently reminds everyone to be aware of their surroundings. Now back to your regularly sch--"

Remote in hand, Piper turned off her television. She'd heard rumors of some goings on, but to be frank... she'd kept a low profile. Malicia's work kept her busy, and because it was such a lucrative venue, she did not wish to risk exposure through her more petty pass times. 

But this one bugged her. Perhaps because she was the same age as the girl who had gone missing. After a few silent moments, lost in though... she stood up and pulled out her cell phone. Her finger hovered for a moment... wondering if this was something she could really turn to Jacob about. In her mind, she knew what she was planning to do... and he had asked that she keep him in the loop about anything she was attempting. 

She bit her lip. Piper had no idea if this would work or not. If nothing more, she could discuss it with someone who had a lot more experience than her. Pressing her contact, she quickly texted Jacob, not wanting to bother him if he wasn't free. 

"I am plotting."

    • DarkwingPsycho
      DarkwingPsycho

      Jacob came back down the stairs a few minutes later, and his first stop to find Drake happened to be the parlor since it was off from the stairs.  "Ah, there you are.  Drink?"  He was already moving toward the liquor cabinet.  One of several in the expansive home.  "It's good that you're a bourbon man, because that's all there is."

      Jacob's home was immaculate.  Well decorated and sophisticated.  Modern yet there was a touch of late 1800's to it, as in the Holmes-era.  The mansion was well equipped with the best tech, but it was mostly invisible unless one knew where to look for it.  Small security cameras peppered in the interior, hardly noticeable.

      "I hope she won't be too disappointed, but...I'm glad you were there, Drake."  He took a mouthful of bourbon before handing Drake his own glass.  It was a rather high-end label.

      • Quiverwing Duck
        Quiverwing Duck

        Drake jumped very slightly when Jacob spoke, as if he had forgotten where he was and that anyone else was present. "Yes, sir, thank you," he said with a little relief at the offer of a drink.

        "She was already kinda mad once we got outside," Drake admitted as he accepted the glass. "When I suggested we just take what we had. I didn't want to rush in the way I did, but I suddenly felt that she was going into too much danger." He looked a little downcast, clearly feeling this was his own failure rather than a simple judgment call. "I think, though, I made that decision based on emotion rather than logic. I'll apologize to her when she's awake."

        • DarkwingPsycho
          DarkwingPsycho

          Jacob had long given up correcting Drake on calling him "sir" and let it roll off his back as he generally did.  He raised a brow.  "Emotion?  How so?"

          Then, "And you were right to intervene, if you thought they would dose her again.  I don't think she'd have made it otherwise, and..."  He didn't finish.

          • Quiverwing Duck
            Quiverwing Duck

            Drake had, himself, given up on trying to address Jacob by his name. He simply could not seem to make it happen; 'sir' was his best and only option for now.

            Glancing up from a sip of his bourbon, he seemed hesitant to answer, because he was not certain how to explain himself. "Uh... I had gotten the impression that she was important to you. I let that override my trust in her as an operative, so I erred deeply on the side of caution."

            He did not try to explain the full A to B connection there, as it seemed sufficient as-is. If she was important to Jacob, she automatically became important to Drake.

            • DarkwingPsycho
              DarkwingPsycho

              Jacob looked thoughtful for a moment, his dark eyes clouding over.  Then he chuckled lowly.  "It's that obvious, is it?"  He paused, then added, "I guess we both blew it for her, then."

              He took another drink and sighed heavily, running his fingers through his hair feathers, and paced a few times before finally sitting, although he still looked restless.  "Have you ever been in love, Drake?"

              • Quiverwing Duck
                Quiverwing Duck

                "I... would say that if it were someone other than you, I wouldn't have picked up on it," Drake explained. He had imprinted heavily on his father, which gave credence to the idea that his father and Jacob had been very much alike.

                After that question, Drake was quiet, and then he finally sat down as well. "Yes, sir. I was... somewhat recently engaged, actually. That was before..." he lifted his free hand in a vague circular gesture. "And coming to this dimension and so on."

                • DarkwingPsycho
                  DarkwingPsycho

                  Even with that explanation, Jacob felt simultaneously amused and unsettled that his connection to Piper had been so easily gleaned by an outside party.  But then, Drake did not know him as others did.  He had a reputation that lent itself to keeping his close relationships under wraps.

                  Still, Jacob felt tired.  It was good to talk openly with someone, for once.  He leaned forward a bit, eyeing Drake with interest.  "Engaged?  Were you now...  What happened?"  He thought he might be able to surmise based on what he already knew about Drake's life prior to his arrival in this dimension, but he didn't want to make assumptions.

                  • Quiverwing Duck
                    Quiverwing Duck

                    "Uhm." Drake looked down into his glass. That he was once engaged was a factoid he sometimes mentioned, but one he never elaborated on. It was not a story he enjoyed telling, because nothing about his behavior in it was any good.

                    Sitting up a little straighter, he solemnly looked at Jacob again, lightly cleared his throat and said, "The woman, my fiancée, never agreed with my decision to allow my daughter to be my sidekick. Now and then we'd argue about it, and sometimes break up for a while... not just over that, but this was a common point of contention... but I refused to give even an inch over that decision."

                    He glanced down at his bourbon again and was about to resume his story, but he hesitated. Drake forced himself to look at Jacob's face again, before continuing. "After my daughter's death, I ... couldn't... I didn't have the courage to face her in person. Not... because there would have been an 'I told you so', but..."

                    Drake lifted his shoulders in a brief shrug, and shook his head. "I just couldn't. I was ashamed at how I'd treated her and her advice, because no one knew better than I did. I sent her a letter and politely broke our engagement, I was a coward." He ran his hand back through his head feathers, ruffling them after he'd so carefully fixed them, earlier. "And... I never saw her again."

                    • DarkwingPsycho
                      DarkwingPsycho

                      Jacob noticed the shift in Drake's mood and the amused expression dropped from his face as he listened.  This clearly wasn't going to be a tale of some playful, light-hearted hijinks.  He could tell how much the younger mallard was struggling to even talk about it.

                      There was a bout of silence following the story.  Jacob's calculating black eyes were studying Drake's face, his own expression unreadable.  Then he sat back with a long exhale.  "You lost a lot in that year, didn't you son?" he said quietly.  "I won't pretend that it's any of my business to say what I think about what happened between you, but what I will say is, you've got to take it easy on yourself."

                      • Quiverwing Duck
                        Quiverwing Duck

                        Drake's posture sagged slightly when he exhaled, but he gave Jacob a brief, wan smile. "She didn't deserve to be treated that way. I kept... thinking I would contact her and at least speak with her in person but..." He shook his head. "And the longer I left it, the more awkward it was."

                        He lifted a hand and then let it drop again. "I can't go easy on myself. I'm not a victim, I ruined lives." Drake wiped his hand down over his eyes and beak, looking faintly exasperated with himself. "Sorry, sir. I'm trying to be better. I'm worried I'm not any good at it, though."

                        • DarkwingPsycho
                          DarkwingPsycho

                          Jacob nodded.  He remembered the many letters he wrote to his late wife prior to their relationship getting a jumpstart.  Not that his situation had much to do with Drake's, it simply brought up the recollection.

                          Then he frowned, his brow furrowing slightly.  "Now look here," he said firmly.  "We all make choices we're not proud of, but we're all human.  Ruined lives?  You don't possess that much power or that kind of savagery.  It seems to me that you are a victim right now.  A victim to your regret.  That kind of thing can make or destroy a man, believe me.  Not any good at it..."  He scoffed gently.  "My boy, if you weren't any good at being better, you'd have landed a knife in your back ages ago.  Drink your bourbon."

                          • Quiverwing Duck
                            Quiverwing Duck

                            This was normally when Drake became stone-faced, slamming the door shut on his emotions when they became too much to deal with. He could not quite seem to get there, this time. It was not the first time someone made a reasonable argument that Drake was not a monster, but it generally came from people who--fortunately for them--were not able to fully understand the intensity and depth of those kinds of screw ups.

                            He nodded slightly, took in a slow and slightly shaky breath, had a sip of his bourbon, and slumped back in his seat. Refuting Jacob's words would be easy. Digesting them was a lot harder.

                            Drake pushed his hairfeathers out of his eyes and quietly said, "So... about you and..." he glanced upwards with a tilt of his head. "I'm not supposed to know? I take it that needs to remain quiet? I won't mention it to anyone."

                            • DarkwingPsycho
                              DarkwingPsycho

                              Now it was Jacob's turn to glance down at his bourbon and sigh.  "No one is supposed to know," he informed him slowly.  "We've been keeping it low key for quite a while now...clearly it's becoming more difficult for me to do so.  It's not fair to her."  Here he paused to take another drink, finishing the glass.  He set it aside on a small table before continuing.  "I thought I was doing it to protect her, but now I'm not so sure.  Perhaps it was me, protecting myself from another failure."

                              There were times that he wondered what a young, beautiful, vibrant woman like her was doing with an old and jaded codger like him.  She should be out at clubs like the one that night, not getting drugged of course, but having fun.  Playing things fast and loose.  Yet here she was, tied to a man who spent most nights quietly drinking bourbon and researching any information on the whereabouts of his Negaversian counterpart.

                              • Quiverwing Duck
                                Quiverwing Duck

                                Drake looked thoughtful, although he was far less equipped with the required experience to offer Jacob any sage advice. After some musing, he quietly wondered aloud, "Is that why she's doing things like this? This mission, I mean. So she can know how to do what you do, and not be so vulnerable."

                                He shrugged a little. "I have no idea. Frankly, if I understood women better than I do, I'd get into a lot less trouble." After taking a drink of bourbon, he considered his statement and admitted, "Or maybe I'd get into a lot more trouble."

                                • DarkwingPsycho
                                  DarkwingPsycho

                                  Jacob chuckled.  "Yes, I suppose you would.  But you bring up an interesting point.  I was helping her hone a few skills she already possesses...in case she should find herself in need of them.  This thing she wants to accomplish...maybe it is to prove something.  Although she need not prove anything to me.  I know she is more than capable, I just..."

                                  He sighed, shifted in his seat, and finally looked across the space between them at the man who wasn't his son but easily could have been.

                                  "I love her.  And that's a dangerous thing for us both."

                                  • Quiverwing Duck
                                    Quiverwing Duck

                                    Drake actually nodded to that last sentiment. "But you can't really help who you fall in love with." He fell silent again, looking back at Jacob, his own expression one of sad empathy.

                                    His brows pulled downwards and he rubbed one hand through and over his hair feathers, frowning faintly in thought. Quietly, he said, "So... and I get this, believe me... you've made some decisions in order to keep her safe. Which is completely fair." Drake sat up properly, out of his slump. "But, does she think she has any reason to prove something to you?"

                                    • DarkwingPsycho
                                      DarkwingPsycho

                                      "I imagine it has more to do with her life outside of our relationship," he said vaguely.  "However, with that in mind, I believe she'd like more leeway in that.  I've asked her to hold back for selfish reasons, and even so, she agreed.  I thought if I could prepare her better, it would get easier for me, but it hasn't.  I can't lose her, Drake.  What if I don't deserve another chance?  I can't fail her the way I failed your mo - the way I failed my wife."

                                      It was his turn to run his hand through his hairfeathers, in almost exactly the same manner Drake had just done.

                                      "Yet I think that is exactly what I'm doing."  Damned if I do protect her, damned if I don't protect her.

                                      • Quiverwing Duck
                                        Quiverwing Duck

                                        That comment, What if I don't deserve another chance? That made Drake wince faintly, as it was too similar to the kind of thoughts that plagued him constantly. It did not distract him enough to miss the small slip Jacob made when referring to his wife, however.

                                        Now he looked pensive. He tipped up his glass and drank the rest of his bourbon in one swallow, and even then was hesitant to say what he was thinking. But, he said it anyway.

                                        "Sir, it... seems like you keep her at arm's length to protect her, or... you're saying that, but..." Drake cleared his throat quietly. "If you're using that as an excuse while you punish yourself for things that happened in the past, that's... probably not great."

                                        • DarkwingPsycho
                                          DarkwingPsycho

                                          Jacob raised a brow at Drake.  And you're not punishing yourself?  He let it go.

                                          "It's the same with my son, although I can't not see him.  But there's the business of letting that bastard win as long as I have to keep my life contained."  He got up suddenly, making a beeline to the liquor to refill his glass.

                                          "If I don't, though, people could get hurt."

                                          There was the sound of the glass decanter hitting the small table followed by another sigh.  "They'll get hurt regardless.  I came here for vengeance, not to build a new life, and yet..."  And yet now there are all these damnable people in my life I'd do anything to protect.

                                          • Piper/ Jade
                                            Piper/ Jade

                                            A snort, and a bleary blink.

                                            I know this room? She did... she recognized the window, the decor... even the feel of the sheets.

                                            Shifting around, her body feeling ridiculously heavy, Piper crawled out of bed. She landed on the floor kind of heavy... she giggled stupidly and got back up. Stepping into the hall, she looked both ways...

                                            She knew the way to the staircase, but they just lead downstairs. She wanted to find Jacob, and she assumed he had gone to bed. Piper hadn't been to his mansion often, he seemed to prefer coming to her tiny apartment, so she was going to have to explore.

                                            Not that it was going to be hard to find. Master bedrooms tended to stick out like sore thumbs. You know... Double door entry and all. After opening a few different rooms-- a bathroom, another bedroom, was that a guest office?, she finally found the one she was looking for.

                                            She could smell his cologne. That was the giveaway. She plodded into the dark room and looked to the bed-- empty...

                                            "Aww..." was her device still in her ear? Before she checked, she kept talking as though it was. "Wh..hair dyoo go?" She got distracted halfway to feeling her ear by an expensive looking dress shirt sitting out on a dresser. There was also a pair of slacks and a belt, but the shirt was what she wanted.

                                            Reaching out, and effectively knocking down the rest of his clothes, she picked up the shirt. It was so soft... she rubbed her cheek against it for a long moment before finally starting to change out of her own clothes.

                                            Buttoning the thing was a problem. As she looked down, her balance was lost. She stumbled, and managed to catch herself before falling. Arms out, like a gymnast who just stuck a landing.

                                            "Gud nuff..." she abandoned her buttons after three... and the buttons and holes did not match up. But it secured the shirt.

                                            Feeling a wave of lethargy, she made her way to the bed. Not caring that she had not been invited. Piper crawled in... no fair, his sheets and comforter were better... and curled up once more. Within minutes she was back into a heavy sleep.

                                            • Quiverwing Duck
                                              Quiverwing Duck

                                              "Yet it happens," said Drake, who was losing a little formality as the bourbon dissolved it. "I wouldn't let myself get close to anyone for a year, and then I left my world." He gestured vaguely, not at the room itself, but at everything in general.

                                              "Then people won't leave you alone. You end up getting attached." Drake shrugged again. "Even as you think, wow, this is a terrible idea. It happens anyway."

                                              He sat back in the chair, going quiet. After a moment, he said, "I hang out with your son, sometimes. To keep an eye on him, you know? We did not get along at first, then I think we... got used to each other?"

                                              • DarkwingPsycho
                                                DarkwingPsycho

                                                Jacob sat a little hunched over the liquor, his back to Drake as he talked.

                                                "You do, hm?" he replied a little more gruffly than he'd meant to.  He took a swallow of the bourbon but did not turn around.  "You probably see him more than I do..."

                                                Another heavy sigh, and finally the elder man turned around.  "I'm sorry, Drake.  I'm glad you're getting on.  I just hate the years I've lost, the waste..."  As Drake's formality seemed to fade, so did Jacob's appearance of emotional control.

                                                "You're taking care of a little girl now, right?  Negaduck's ward?  Suppose he does return to try and take it all away...would you regret the choice you made to take her in yourself instead of allowing someone else to do it?"

                                                • Quiverwing Duck
                                                  Quiverwing Duck

                                                  "His neighbors assumed we were brothers, when they saw us out of costume. Had to just... kind of go with that," Drake said, with a brief, faint smirk at how awkward that had been.

                                                  Taking in a slow, deep breath, he exhaled quietly and then said, "I... shouldn't be taking care of a child again. But I am. I... originally, I thought she'd end up staying with your son." He lightly rubbed at his forehead with his fingertips, other hand still clutching his empty glass.

                                                  "I wouldn't regret taking her in. But I do worry... not that... I don't actually think Negaduck intends to harm her physically. Um." His hand ran halfway through his headfeathers and then stopped, so that his palm was on the top of his head. "When he'd captured me, he was forcing her to watch me die, to 'teach her a lesson' about making friends. So now I worry that I'm making everything worse for her, if he does return." He fell silent. Then he repeated, "But I still wouldn't regret taking her in."

                                                  • DarkwingPsycho
                                                    DarkwingPsycho

                                                    Jacob raised a brow.  "Brothers?  Well...I suppose to those not possessing the knowledge of parallel dimensions and interdimensional travel, that would have to be the most obvious explanation."

                                                    He picked up the decanter and as Drake spoke, he refilled his glass.  His jaw clenched almost imperceptibly as the other man explained what Negaduck's intentions had been.  He already knew Drake believed he murdered the villain.

                                                    "Why didn't she stay with Drake?"  My Drake.  "You're not afraid to lose another child?"  He already knew the answer, but asked the question anyway.  That was the exact reason Jacob kept his distance from his son, from everyone.  He was afraid to lose.  At least if he did keep them at an arm's length he could have more control over it, or so he had thought.

                                                    • Quiverwing Duck
                                                      Quiverwing Duck

                                                      "I'm terrified of it," Drake admitted, slumping in his seat again. "I have nightmares about it. I... already had nightmares," he corrected himself. "But now I have some new material to dream about."

                                                      With his elbow on the armrest, he propped his head against his hand. "After I rescued her, I wanted to take her to his house, but she was... traumatized. She thought she had seen me die, so she didn't want to let go. I thought, just one night would be okay." Drake quietly sighed and shut his eyes.

                                                      "I think I'll screw it up again. Or, maybe I won't, but something will happen anyway and she'll get hurt, or..." he lifted one shoulder in a helpless shrug. "She needs me, so I'm there. And I remember, at her age, what it was like..." Drake trailed off into silence, aware enough to not want to discuss his own orphanhood just now.