Chapter 3: A Job Offer... at the Pond?!

Agnus was busy setting up the comic shop, the way Thrash and Mookie had shown her several days before, when there was a knock at the door. Turning to see who it was, she almost dropped the comics she had in her arms. She stared at the people who were standing there. Two looking very apologetic and one looking way too serious for his own good.
“Morning, Aggie,” Phil said, his arms folded across his chest.
“Uncle Phil?” Agnus asked, trying not to look horrified and forcing a smile.
Phil pointed to the door lock and tapped his foot impatiently.
Agnus hurried to the counter to set the comics down and find the keys.
“What are you doing here?” she asked, unlocking the door.
“Coming to see you,” Phil replied, walking in with Shiga and Tatiana in tow.
“Sorry, Ags,” Tatiana apologized.
“We kinda bumped into him after the game last night,” Shiga added.
Agnus just rolled her eyes. Again hockey had caused a dilemma in her life.
“Now, Aggie, before I say what I came to say…,” Phil started, turning to face his niece while she closed the door behind Shiga.
“Yes?” she asked somewhat suspiciously.
“How’s about a hug? I haven’t seen you in years.”
With that Phil walked forward and scooped Agnus into a sort of bear hug. She couldn’t help but smile at her uncle and hugged him back.
“I’ve missed you, Uncle Phil,” she whispered.
“And I you, kiddo,” he replied.
Tatiana and Shiga smiled at their friends as they pulled away from each other.
“Right. Down to business,” Phil said, getting back into serious mode.
“Yes?” Agnus asked, becoming guarded again.
“Two little birdies tell me you haven’t snapped out of your funk yet.”
“It’s not a ‘funk’, Uncle Phil. It’s just a fact.” Agnus moved past him to pick up the comics she had yet to put on the shelves.
“Whatever. I’m snapping you out of it whether you like it or not. When does your contract here end?”
“Friday, why?”
“I’ve got a job for you at the Pond.”
Agnus froze, her eyes widening at the thought. Finally she looked at Phil, who was currently pulling out a set of papers from his jacket pocket.
“Janitor,” Phil said, laying the papers out on the counter.
“Janitor?” Agnus asked, setting the comics down in the shelves.
“Yes. Semi-permanent.”
“Uncle Phil, I don’t think that’s…”
“What other options do you have?”
Agnus was at a loss as to what to say; she didn’t have any other options.
“Guessed as much. Come on. Sign on the dotted line and you can begin Friday,” Phil said, getting out a pen.
Agnus just looked at him as she computed what had just been said to her.
Phil held the pen out towards her, waiting for her to come to him, take it and sign the papers.
“No. No! I… Uncle Phil, that’s… that’ll be torture for me! You want to do that to me? Huh?! You want to send me over the deep end?! Surrounded by the very thing that…” Agnus started angrily, but then had to stop. She couldn’t say the next thing.
“Okay,” Phil said, putting his hands up in front of himself in a form of surrender.
With the grace of someone who deals with this sort of emotional outburst on a daily basis, and who knows that the person in question has no other option, he packed the papers and pen up again. “You know where to find me if you change your mind, Aggie. Take care, Sweetheart.”
Agnus’ heart was pounding in her ribcage, her face was slightly red and she felt a bit shaky as she watched her uncle leave the comic shop.
“Girls,” he said before leaving, nodding a goodbye to Shiga and Tatiana.
“See ya, Uncle Phil,” they called after him in unison.
He smiled at them and then disappeared into the crowd that was growing in the Anaheim mall.
Agnus thought for a moment about what had just happened, but then shook her head and continued with her work to get the shop ready.
“We’ll see you later, Aggie,” Tatiana said, beginning to make her way towards the door. There was no way she wanted to be in the same room as Agnus right now, at least not without someone substantial to back her and Shiga up.
“Yeah. See ya,” Shiga called.
Agnus turned just in time to see her friends walking out of the door and into the crowd. She sighed to herself before getting back to work, but she wasn’t in her usual reasonably calm state of mind. What her uncle had proposed minutes ago kept playing through her head. She hadn’t found anything else in the papers yet and he was family so she knew he wouldn’t gyp her out of pay, which was most definitely a little bit more than what she was making now and would make from just about any other job she would get. She decided to leave thinking about the subject until her job at Captain Comics was up, which was a whole three days away.

Three days had never gone faster in Agnus’ life. Friday came around all too quickly and Thrash and Mookie were back from their convention in the next state.
“Well, place is still standing,” Thrash said, looking around the shop.
“Yeah. Nice job, Ags,” Mookie said, looking at the young lady behind the counter.
“No problem, guys. It was fun… for the most part,” Agnus replied.
“You met Nosedive?” Thrash asked.
Agnus felt a twang of anguish, but put on a brave face.
“Yeah. I met him, along with the others,” she replied.
“Cool, isn’t he?” Mookie asked, walking behind the counter to check on the things back there.
“Yeah. I guess so.”
Thrash and Mookie looked at Agnus and then at each other, a bit perplexed.
“Did… he say something wrong?” Thrash asked, trying to figure out how anyone could not like Dive.
“No. He was very nice. Even took care of the store for a few minutes while I dealt with a friend in the backroom. She’s… a bit of a hockey fan and when she came in and found the whole Mighty Ducks team… I don’t think I need to say any more,” Agnus said, slinging her backpack onto her back.
“Naa, got ya, dudette,” Thrash replied with a smile.
“Well, I’ll see you two around then.”
Agnus skated out from behind the counter and began to head for the door.
“Yeah. If we have any more work, we’ll let you know,” Mookie said.
“Thanks, Mookie. I appreciate it,” Agnus said with a smile.
“What’re your plans now?” Thrash asked, taking his place behind the counter too.
“I’m going to go talk to my uncle about a post that’s become available.”
“Oh! Awesome,” Mookie said.
“Yeah. ‘Awesome’. See ya,” Agnus said, skating out of the comic shop and beginning to head out of the mall.
“See ya!” Thrash and Mookie called after her.
Once they were sure she was out of earshot they turned to each other.
“Weird kid,” Thrash said.
“Yeah. Nice though,” Mookie added.
Thrash just nodded before he and Mookie got to work setting out new comics and the like.

The tall walls of the Anaheim Pond appeared to loom over Agnus as she looked up at them. She was standing at the front door to the skating rink, gathering the courage to actually go in. This would be her first time in a building like this since the incident. A quick glance at her watch told her that the day was running away already and that it was now or never. She took a calming breath and then walked up to the door; she had put covers on her wheels so that she wouldn’t damage the floors inside. She took hold of the door handle and then hesitated. Memories wanted to come flooding back, but, shaking her head, she fought them back.
“This is just business. It’s not permanent. It’ll just keep me afloat until I can find something else,” she said to herself, opening the door and skating in.

The interior of the building was completely quiet except for the echoing sounds of the Ducks practicing.
Agnus went to where she knew Phil’s old office was, but didn’t find him.
“Still his office though,” she said, looking around the room. It just said ‘Phil’.
Seeing as the office had failed, Agnus decided to try the other areas of the building.

It felt as if she had searched the whole building as she walked by one of the entrances to the rink. She had been deliberately avoiding the rink as it was the part of the building she least wanted to see. At that moment she heard Phil’s voice. Coming from within the stands around the rink.
“Naturally. He would be sitting in the stands,” she said, turning around and heading into the area.
The sight before her was one she would have been used to when she was little. There were six figures on the ice, all clad in ice hockey gear and knocking the daylights out of the little black puck that was skimming across the ice from one stick to the next. Looking around the stands, Agnus finally found Phil; a couple of rows up from the rink so that he had a good view of his team and could make phone calls in relative peace.
“Of course they won’t mind, boobie,” Phil said into the receiver of his cell phone.
Agnus couldn’t help but smile amusedly at her uncle. He hardly ever changed.
“Sure, sure. I’ll talk to them, don’t worry. Okay. Sure. Talk to ya later,” Phil said and finally ended the call.
“Nice to see that you haven’t lost your ability to make deals, Uncle Phil,” Agnus said.
Phil snapped his head around to see who had addressed him and smiled happily when he saw his niece walking up to him.
“Aggie! Hey! You come to talk business or just for a visit?” Phil asked, standing up and giving his niece a hug.
“Business. I wouldn’t be here otherwise.”
“Of course. Well, take a seat. This is my office away from my office.”
Phil sat down and pulled out the papers he had had with him earlier that week.
Meanwhile, down on the ice, Duke had noticed another person with Phil.
“Dive,” he called to the younger drake.
“Yeah?” Dive called back.
Duke signalled for him to come closer, which he did.
“Isn’t that Aggie up there with Phil?” he asked in a slightly hushed voice.
Nosedive peered up at the two and then gave a little unbelieving laugh.
“Yeah. It is,” he said.
Duke just nodded and then, looking over to Wildwing, gestured towards the two humans with his hockey stick.
Wildwing nodded and signalled to the others that practise was over.
The others nodded in understanding.
With that the six began to make their way, not towards the changing room, but towards the stands where Phil was seated.
“Now if you’ll just sign here, here and here,” he said, pointing to the spaces on the contract.
“Well, well, well. Look who’s ventured into the Pond,” Duke said from behind Agnus just as she was about to put the pen to the paper.
She looked back and found the whole Mighty Ducks team.
“Duke,” she said, pulling the pen away from the paper as she turned to face the team.
“Agnus,” he said, nodding politely.
“So, you taking Phil up on his offer?” Nosedive asked with a smile.
“Yeah. I… don’t have any other option,” Agnus replied.
“Don’t be like that, Agnus,” Wildwing said, walking up to the young lady and taking a seat next to her.
He could see that she was getting guarded again.
“Relax,” he said, putting a hand onto her shoulder and taking off his mask to seem more personable, “We’re the good guys, remember?”
“Yeah, if it weren’t for us you’d still be having to deal with Chuckie-boy,” Nosedive said.
Agnus couldn’t help but smile at the young drake.
“True,” she said.
“Chuckie?” Phil asked, while Agnus set about signing the papers.
“Yeah. Your niece’s rather forward suitor,” Duke replied.
“Aggie! Why didn’t you tell me about this?!”
“‘Cause I was keeping a low profile,” Agnus replied, handing the papers back to her uncle.
“From me?”
“Yes.”
“But he’s your uncle. A blood relative. Why were you hiding from him?” Wildwing asked, going into full big brother mode.
“What does Uncle Phil deal in, Wildwing?” Agnus asked, getting the older drake to come to his own conclusion.
Wildwing just nodded.
“What happened to…,” he started.
“I don’t think it’s any of your business,” Agnus replied politely.
Wildwing looked her straight in the eye, kindly and gently, and then smiled.
“Okay. If you ever want to talk… we’re here,” he said with a smile.
Nosedive smiled at his brother. He was always proud of how Wildwing treated others.
Agnus just nodded a ‘thank you’ before turning to Phil again.
“So, when do I start?” she asked.
“Tomorrow. You’ll need the rest of the day to move in,” Phil replied with a smile.
“Move in?”
“Yeah. I got Shig and Tat to take me through to where you’ve been staying. You know, to check it out and, I must say, Aggie, I was not impressed. So, I told the guy running the place that I was one of your legal guardians and that I was terminating your lease on the room there. You have until this evening to get out. I’ve already spoken to the Ducks and Grin and Nosedive have agreed to help move you out.”
Agnus just gaped at her uncle. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
“So, you’ve got a choice. You can move in with me or… you can move in here. The Ducks have already cleared a room for you,” he continued.
Agnus was silent for a moment, but then…
“Who do you think you are?!” she snarled, rising from her seat.
“Your uncle,” Phil replied, rising too to meet Agnus on her level.
“I’m not a dependent, Uncle Phil, nor am I a minor! You have no right to do this to me!”
“Sorry, sweetheart, but I’m doing what I think is best for you. In the absence of your parents, I believe it’s my duty. No, I know, you’re not a dependant or a minor, but… you’re still my niece. I’m doing this because I love you.”
Agnus just glared at her uncle and then, spinning one-eighty degrees, marched hurriedly out. The Ducks moved quickly to get out of her way.
“Wow,” Nosedive said once she had disappeared from sight.
“Yeah. Don’t judge her by what you see here though. This isn’t my real niece,” Phil said, looking at the doorway where Agnus had disappeared from sight.
“What’s the real Aggie like, Phil?” Duke asked.
“Sweet as anything. Nicest kid on the block, far as I’m concerned anyway. Talk to Shiga and Tatiana if you want a non-family take on her.”
“Can you tell us about what’s caused her to become… like this?” Wildwing asked.
“Sorry, Wildwing. Aggie would have my head if I did that. No. You’re just going to have to wait until she’s ready to talk. What I’m doing to her now is hard enough already,” Phil replied.
“So this is actually an orchestrated operation?” Mallory asked.
“Yep. I’m getting Ags out of this funk. I want my niece back and I’m sure her parents want their baby girl back too.”
The Ducks just nodded.
“If we can help in any way, Phil,” Wildwing started.
“Thanks, boobella, but just by being around her I think you’ll help. Now, Nosedive, Grin, come with me. We’ll find Aggie and then you two can help her move to wherever she decides. Okay?”
“Sure,” Grin replied with a nod.
“Gotcha,” Nosedive replied with a thumbs up and a smile.
Phil nodded and then, with a final ‘goodbye’ nod to Wildwing and the others, began to make his way out of the stands to find his niece with Dive and Grin in tow.

Outside the Pond, Agnus was sitting next to one of the pillars next to the entrance.
“Thought I’d find you here,” Phil said from behind Agnus.
Agnus looked back at him and was half surprised to find Nosedive and Grin with him.
“Dive and Grin are ready to help you move. You’ve just gotta tell ‘em where,” Phil said, while Agnus got to her feet.
She looked at the two ducks in question and then at her uncle.
“I’ll leave you kids to it then,” Phil said, taking his leave.
Agnus watched him walk away and only when he had disappeared from sight did she turn her attention to Dive and Grin.
“Well, shall we get going?” Nosedive asked with a cheerful smile.
“Don’t have an option, do I?” Agnus asked, feeling very prickly at the moment.
“Uh-heh, yeah. Uh… right this way.”
With that Dive turned and began to head back into the Pond.
Grin smiled down at Agnus and gestured for her to go first.
She nodded her ‘thanks’ and began to walk after Nosedive with Grin close behind her.

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