Donald was carefully pushing three eggs inside a stroller, when the sound of the door being knocked echoed inside the silent mansion.
Duckworth and Donald looked at each other briefly, sharing a feeling of suspicion at the unexpected sound.
None of them anticipated visitors, much less at this time of the afternoon; it was definitely not Scrooge, he has no need to knock on the door of his own house and the many enemies of the old duck preferred to break down the door before even ringing the bell.
Donald felt quite surprised at the unexpected visit, whoever it was, should be aware that his father isn't at the mansion at this time.
Duckworth motioned to the door, silently asking if he should go answer it, to which Donald gave a slight nod.
They can't let this unexpected visitor stand at the door, it wasn't polite.
As much as Donald wanted to ignore the knock, whoever was at the door was well aware that someone was inside the mansion and didn't seem to want to leave.
A second set of knocks echoed against the wood, so Donald couldn't afford to ignore the sound of the knocking on the door, and ignore the unexpected visitor.
Not this time...
Duckworth gave a short nod and headed for the door as Donald gave him a small smile of thanks in response.
Donald returned his attention to the eggs, covering them with a warm blanket, it had been cool for the last few days and Donald wouldn't take the chance that the fireplace wouldn't provide enough heat.
Once they were all bundled up, Donald returned his gaze to the front door, he could see Duckworth very well and how the old dog's eyes crinkled into a sour expression.
This disturbed the duck's feathers, for that was hardly ever a good sign; Duckworth looked over to where Donald was and held up three fingers, keeping an annoyed expression on his face the entire time.
Donald sighed in frustration, slapping a hand to his face and seeing the old butler's sympathetic smile.
He hadn't needed any verbal explanation from Duckworth, Donald had a good idea who they were.
These unexpected guests weren't to Donald's liking, but neither could he simply not answer the door; that would be rude and as much as he wanted to, he just couldn't afford that wonderful luxury.
He had been taught by Scrooge Mcduck to be a polite duck.
As Duckworth opened the door, thus allowing the three vultures to enter the mansion, Donald couldn't help but hate his inability to be impolite and rude to his father's employees.
The three vultures entered the mansion, Duckworth closing the door behind them and walking towards Donald, standing next to him defensively.
Perhaps the vultures didn't understand his gesture, but Donald did and was relieved not to be alone.
"Heir McDuck…", one of the vultures said with a cold tone in his voice.
Donald didn't like the tone with which they addressed him, there was something suspicious in the way it was said, but he couldn't pinpoint how.
"We have unfinished business to discuss with you, if you don't mind, could you please...", his gaze went to the stroller with the three eggs, it was not a contemptuous look, but there was no warmth in that look either.
Donald didn't like any of that, actually, the very idea did bother him, his frown in disgust was confirmation of it.
Glancing at the butler, Donald spoke up, "Duckworth, could you look after the children for the time being?"
Something told Donald that it was better to take the children outside, he's almost always right when he has that kind of feeling.
"Yes, young master Donald...", Duckworth answered, taking the stroller with care and walking away from the room but not before giving the three intruders a contemptuous look.
Duckworth was more than happy to left and take the three eggs with him; the old dog also had a feeling that the conversation between Donald and the intruding vermin was about to get intense.
With Duckworth gone, Donald returned his attention to the vultures, who sat down in a large armchair with enough room for the three of them.
"Well, what did you want to talk about?"
The vultures didn't wait.
"Let's be honest with you, young McDuck...", said the first.
"Mr. McDuck is neglecting his work...", the second continued.
"Your father can't go on like this...", the third finished.
"And why not?", Donald asked, crossing his arms.
He certainly didn't see anything wrong with Scrooge looking for Della, he himself would have helped him without a second's hesitation, had the situation been different.
Donald would have boarded one of the rockets to look for Della himself if it weren't for the fact that he didn't want to leave the little ones alone and expose himself to a fate equal to or worse than Della's.
In addition to the fact that Scrooge himself ended up grabbing Donald's leg, preventing him from committing such madness.
For Donald, it was now his priority not to leave the triplets alone, he cannot risk disappearing in a similar way to Della; that would devastate his father even more and leave the children abandoned.
It's not that he didn't trust his father, or even Duckworth, they both had his full confidence that if anything happened, they could keep the children safe.
But Donald felt a deep need to stay close to his little nephews; it was a kind of instinct and Donald had taken one choice.
The voice of one of the vultures spoke, his tone was cold, not friendly and somewhat irritating, "Mr. McDuck cannot continue to waste valuable resources and his entire fortune on someone who is obviously dead..."
Donald's hand hit the table like an involuntary reflex at such words, "Don't you dare say such a thing in my presence again!"
His voice was a savage growl, "You may be my father's employee, but you are in our house, tie your tongue if necessary, Bradford!"
Even if his hand hurt, Donald won't regret making his point; one of them would say such a thing again in front of him and the next thing Donald will hit will be their respective faces.
The three vultures remained silent, seeming to get the implied message.
Donald squeezed her hand tightly and took a deep breath, exhaling slowly and regaining his composure, as if he had never lost it in the first place.
"I respect my father's decision to continue looking for Della, I share his opinion, if there is no evidence that she is dead, she is not...", his voice was cold, firm.
He refuses to give way to the nonsense he hears coming from these three.
"Mr. Donald, you must realize that your father is neglecting his duties as an entrepreneur and himself in a pursuit that will not..."
Donald's angry growl cut him off.
"Which may not have any concrete results...", he finished with a trembling voice, once having reconsidered his words.
Donald hated to admit it to himself, but the three vultures were right; only he won't give them the satisfaction of knowing.
"I'll handle the company..."
"You?", he said with a tone of disbelief mixed with mockery; Donald tried not to lunge at them because of that.
"Yes, I will do it...", he said confidently in his words.
"Not to be contemptuous of you, little McDuck..."
"But we don't think you can do it..."
Donald wasn't going to take that personally.
Scrooge had goaded his son into keeping any abilities hidden, it was potentially useful for catching enemies off guard.
To many he was just Scrooge McDuck's brat, a parasite who lived off his father's fortune and did nothing but live a good life.
It was partly true, that image had been constructed to mislead the unwary.
Without many being aware, he dedicated himself to working quietly under the charge of one of his father's accountants.
He was also partially his financial adviser, and acted as a translator in various social and business meetings; and if it became necessary, he also did it when they went to look for some treasure.
Among many others.....
"Contrary to what you think, gentlemen, I am my father's son", Donald answered in a firm tone, "I was taught to handle everything he handles, so that one day I could take his place..."
"Of course…", the first mentioned.
"However you decide...", continued the second.
"We'll see...", the third commented in a low voice.
Donald simply watched the three buzzards go, letting out a tired sigh as the door closed behind them.
How his father put up with them was beyond him honestly...
"Do you think that is appropriate, young Donald?", Duckworth's voice broke the silence established in the room.
"I should have known you wouldn't go that far", Donald mentioned, watching the butler return with the triplets.
"If you allow me to comment, I don't think it's a good idea"
"And what am I supposed to do, Duckworth?", Donald asked without really expecting an answer, the butler made no attempt to reply.
"My father has been in the control room for hours desperately trying to make contact with Della, he won't listen to me right now"
Donald had tried to convince him to retire for the nights, offering to take his place but Scrooge refused, clinging worryingly to the control panel, desperately calling out Della's name.
"And as for those three, I honestly don't like the way they are", his gaze turned cold and fearful, "There's something wrong with them...", Donald muttered in a somber tone.
Duckworth gave a brief nod at Donald's words and proceeded to look in the direction of the table, where a big hole had formed.
The butler raised a questioning eyebrow, at which Donald gave a nervous laugh.
"I guess I'll have to find a replacement for the table?", he questioned, somehow sounding happy.
"No, no regrets, young Donald", Duckworth held up a hand in denial.
"The only thing you should regret is not being able to hit those three in the face, that is something you should regret", he mentioned as he squashed his hands as a sign of wanting to hit something himself.
Preferably those three vultures...
Donald laughed at those words, feeling less worried and sad; the duck went to the stroller, carefully watching Della's children.
They were fine, but the blanket had fallen off a bit; when he tried to pull the blanket, Donald let out a shriek of pain.
"For now, give me that hand", Duckworth said, pulling out a small medkit.
"If I can refuse to believe you, the mark on the table suggests something else", the butler mentioned as he pointed to the poor almost destroyed table.
Donald looked at his own hand, seeing how several splinters protruded from it, thus leaving some open wounds.
"Stop being stubborn and come sit down right now, young man...", the butler's tone made it clear that there was no chance for Donald to object.
Donald walked over and sat down, letting Duckworth pick at the splinters on his hand and clean up the little cuts he'd made.
"Will you really take your father's place, young Donald?"
"He's busy, Duckworth", Donald refused to look at the splinters in his hand, "There's no point in denying that they, as much as it pains me to say it, they're right…"
"I'll let Dad handle the search for Della, while I take care of everything else..."
"What will happen to the children?"
Donald stared at the stroller, his gaze holding the feeling of hesitation about what he was agreeing to do; but he cannot just leave the matter as it is.
Those three had come directly to him, so Donald can't refuse or feign ignorance.
"I guess they'll come with me", there was no way Donald was going to let the kids out of his sight long enough.
"Can I count on your help?", Donald questioned.
"Whenever you need it, young Donald...", Duckworth said placing a hand over his heart and giving a short bow.
Donald smiled slightly in response, "Thank you..."
Over the next week, Donald takes over McDuck Enterprises.
Honestly, Scrooge's young heir feels like the board of directors are taking it out on him, dragging him from one meeting to another, not giving him enough time to drink a much-needed coffee.
The three vultures don't deny his accusations, but they look satisfyingly guilty, giving the duck a smile that only flinches under their judging gaze.
The pile of papers to be reviewed on his father's desk had been the stuff of nightmares for later moments; as mentioned by the vultures, Scrooge had been putting off their meetings.
So it was up to Donald to keep Scrooge's to-do list.
Duckworth offers to help him, after all, he had been helping Scrooge with his work for years, but Donald refuses.
Instead, Duckworth takes it upon himself to care for the triplets, while the board of directors, and the long-running meetings consume his soul, figuratively.
At least, that's what Donald hopes...
As he's dragged from one place to another, he can detect the gazes that fall on him, it is quite uncomfortable for Donald to be aware that he's being watched and even more so to be able to hear them talk about his presence.
He hears the contemptuous whispers, feels the heavy gazes on him; he understands perfectly, and he's silent, receiving all of it without complaining at some point.
No one here really knows him well enough, so they rely on unfounded rumors to make a review; their opinions are not good...
His father's employees are nicer in comparison.
They are more curious about their boss's son than anything else.
Employees direct poisonous glances and insults in defense of Donald, who only gives them a weak smile of thanks before being pulled into another meeting room, with the vultures swarming around him, leaving the poor duck tired and exhausted from being dragged around.
Before disappearing, Donald can see the confusion of the various employees.
Donald was the boss's son, a mysterious son about whom they had little information; what little they knew was due to Scrooge's babbling about his adorable duckling.
Scrooge's employees could see why he was so happy to talk about his son; the boy was an almost identical replica of the old duck.
'Poor boy...', thought the employees.
They knew better than anyone that Scrooge McDuck put off his meetings, so they took pity on the young duck who was ushered into the boardroom; the vultures weren't going to let the boy escape for a long time.
Later, when they saw Donald running around the building being chased by the board of directors, they could feel that the boy really did resemble his father.
Donald closes the vault door, hearing the voices of vultures asking for his location, before the footsteps pick up and disappear.
The poor duck lets out a sigh of relief as he leans against the door.
Donald begins to suspect that his father instead of putting up with the board of directors proceeds to ignore them, avoid them or easily not show up.
That makes a lot more sense.
Having successfully escaped a possible five hour meeting, Donald decided to look inside the vault and the treasures that lay within.
Upon reaching the platform, Donald noticed that the amount inside had drastically decreased compared to the last time he had looked.
And that wasn't long ago...
His father would indeed wipe out his entire fortune in his attempts to find Della.
At that moment, in the silence of the room, the words of the vultures repeated themselves in his head.
Donald stayed inside the vault for several hours, sitting on his knees, listening to the Buzzard brothers' comments like a goddamn tape recorder on repeat.
Donald has a look of fear etched on his face.
He's afraid that they are right to say that his father will end up killing himself...
He's afraid of losing the father figure who has taken care of him all his life...
He's afraid of losing someone else...
Donald hugs himself, unable to contain the trembling and tears that well up in his eyes; the very thought is horrible and Donald knows that if it happened, he wouldn't be able to bear it.
The screams coming from his father put him on alert; Donald runs out from inside the vault and starts looking for where the set of screams is coming from.
Upon arrival, Donald can hear the shouting of an intense argument in progress; he thinks about breaking in but freezes at the door.
His father really did look bad.
He was wearing the same clothes as days ago, there were dark marks under his eyes, evidence of not having slept properly, his feathers were a mess.
Scrooge had a wild, murderous look directed at the three vultures.
If the situation had been different, maybe Donald would have smiled, but instead, seeing his father looking like that only made him pale.
"Mr. McDuck, you can't go on like this!", says the voice of the second vulture, holding the duck tightly to prevent it from returning to the control panel.
"Why not?!", Scrooge's voice sounds like a fierce, savage growl.
"Let me go, you two! I don't pay you for this!", said the old duck, waving his cane menacingly, trying to hit one of them.
"I'm afraid we can't do it, sir!", the first vulture denies, trying to keep his boss under control.
"You are putting yourself in danger!", says the third vulture with a scolding tone.
"As if I care!", shouted Scrooge, changing the direction of the staff and managing to hit one of them successfully.
The screaming continues to increase in intensity, it doesn't look like either side is going to give up anytime soon; Donald has to stop them, and choose a side from the two available sides.
Unfortunately, he can't be on Scrooge's side...
The four turn to look at the door.
Scrooge is about to scream, when he turns to see who was responsible for such a scream.
When he notices, Scrooge is unable to say anything; the appearance of his son is terrible although Scrooge doesn't think he looks in better shape than Donald.
Your child looks tired, barely holding on to the door frame to keep from falling to the floor; Scrooge runs up to him with a worried expression.
"What happened to you, lad?"
Donald is too tired after running all the way there, coupled with the lack of adequate rest for the past few days that he's unable to answer the question.
Instead, one of the vultures decides to answer Scrooge's question.
"Your son thought it was a good idea to take care of company business while you were... away..."
"Lad!?", Scrooge looks at Donald in disbelief, Donald looks away instead.
"I thought it might be useful, I know it will never be enough..."
"Son, I don't think..."
The vultures interrupt their conversation.
"Mr. McDuck, please, you must stop..."
Scrooge turns his attention back to the members of the board of directors, snorting disdainfully, "Nonsense!", he says as he folds his arms.
"You've been here for over a week, sir!"
"You haven't eaten a proper meal or rested properly..."
"Not to mention his less than decent appearance..."
The vultures stop objecting the moment they notice that the old duck is ignoring them; Scrooge doesn't want to hear anything from them.
But he's surprised to hear someone else.
"They're right, father…", Donald murmurs in the quiet room.
Scrooge can't believe him, "Della needs our help, lad!"
"Father, you have to think logically!", Donald replies with an anguished tone.
"No! I don't need it!", Scrooge refuses to listen any longer.
"I'm thinking of our family!"
"You're not thinking about family!", Donald recoiled, feeling deeply hurt at those words, "I can't just abandon her like that!
Scrooge freed himself from the second vulture's grip, giving him a venomous look in return.
Scrooge's voice had a wistful tone, "It's fine if you want to give her up, lad, but I'm not leaving here until I finally find her and bring her back home!"
Donald feels cold.
He sees how his father walks away with the intention of returning to the control panel, and he's afraid; his gaze briefly shifts to the three vultures, who seem to have decided to do nothing.
Scrooge McDuck is headstrong and there was nothing those three could do.
Watching her father walk away is similar to watching Della get on the rocket, the feeling that she's going to lose him if she doesn't stop it consumes her heart.
Donald has to save whoever he sees possible...
He'll lose it too if he can't make him see reason...
"There's no way she would survive, father!", Donald exclaims in a broken, agonized voice.
Scrooge is surprised by such a cry.
Even the three vultures seem surprised, they hadn't anticipated that Donald would be so brutal with his statements.
"You don't know that!", Scrooge replies.
"That's why I told you to think sensibly!"
"It's been too long! She didn't have any supplies, it was supposed to be a short trip that shouldn't have taken so long..."
"If it was maybe an island maybe I would believe in the possibility, but we are talking about space, where there is nothing there!"
"There is no water...", is the faint murmur of the first vulture.
"There is no food...", the second vulture whispers without looking up.
"There is no air...", adds the third vulture mercilessly.
Scrooge is bombarded with plausible facts, they were all obvious and logical facts, which as much as Scrooge wanted to deny it, he couldn't.
The way these things were said makes him see that he's holding on to something impossible; this violently and aggressively opens his eyes to the fact that there was no chance of her surviving in space.
It was all his fault...
Della was gone...
There was no way he could get his lass back...
He can't save her...
Scrooge lunges at his son and clings to him, holding him tightly as he trembles and weeps heartrendingly; Donald hugs his father in response, trying not to break too, holding on as best he can.
Donald cries silently, holding back the piercing scream that wants to burst from his throat; he remains silent, so unlike his father, but just as hurt by losing Della.
To Scrooge she had been almost his daughter...
To Donald she had been almost his sister...
Della would not return.
And having to accept that was just as painful.