Chapter 8: Gaining Trust

Later that evening, after the fans had gone home, Agnus began to make her way back to the Ducks’ HQ. It had been a tiresome day for her. First, the-hold up at the café. Next… who knew hockey fans were so messy?! Not to mention, Duke’s probing earlier that day too.
“What a day,” she said to herself, as she keyed in the password for the elevator that went down to the HQ like Wildwing had showed her.
The doors opened and Agnus was surprised by what she found inside.
“Hey,” she and Wildwing said in unison.
“What are you doing here?” she asked.
“I was about to come find you,” Wildwing replied, stepping aside to let Agnus into the elevator.
“Find me?”
“Yeah. I wanted to let you know that we saved you some dinner so… you don’t have to go out and find something.”
“Oh, uh, thanks.”
“You’re welcome.”
With that Wildwing pressed the button to close the doors and return to the subterranean HQ.

An awkward silence settled between the team captain and the janitor.
“Good game tonight,” Agnus said, breaking the ice.
“Thanks. How’d you know?” Wildwing asked.
“Promise you won’t tell the others?”
“You have my word. Go on.”
Agnus smiled at Wildwing before saying, “There’s not exactly much to do while the game’s on for a janitor once you’ve done what needs to be done so… I came and watched a bit.”
Wildwing just smiled.
“Four-three’s pretty good,” Agnus said.
“Thanks. We thought so too,” Wildwing replied with a smile.
Just then the elevator stopped and the doors opened.
Wildwing began to head for the kitchen.
“I’m just going to change out of these clothes, Wildwing,” Agnus said, beginning to head for her room.
“Okay. I’ll get your dinner ready then,” Wildwing replied, continuing on his way.
Agnus just smiled and nodded at him before disappearing down the corridor which led to the quarters.

When Agnus arrived at the kitchen in a clean set of clothes she found Wildwing just taking a plate from the microwave.
“That looks better,” he said, looking at her.
“Thanks,” Agnus said with a smile.
“Not that you can’t make a pair of overalls look attractive though.”
Agnus couldn’t help but chuckle at the comment.
“Are you trying to flirt with me, Wildwing?” she asked, sitting down on the bar stool that Wing had pulled out for her by the kitchen counter.
Wildwing chuckled as he pushed the chair in for Agnus.
“Thank you,” Agnus said.
“No problem and no. I’m not trying to flirt with you. I’m just trying to pay you a compliment,” he replied, taking a seat across from her and gently cupping his hands around a mug of coffee that he had prepared for himself.
“That’s very sweet of you. Thanks.”
“My pleasure.”
With that Aggie took a fork full of pasta.
“Hmm. Who’s the chef?” she asked, after swallowing her mouthful.
“Grin. He has sort of become the resident chef. With Duke, Nosedive and myself coming up behind him,” Wildwing replied before taking a sip of coffee.
“Wow. I’m impressed.”
“I’m sure he’ll be glad to hear so.”
“What about Tanya and Mallory? Don’t they cook?”
Wildwing smiled amusedly at the thought before replying, “They cook, but generally the guys prefer to call take-out then.”
“Ah. I see.”
“Yeah. Heh.”
“Even you?”
“I… have my limits.”
Agnus couldn’t help but chuckle at the comment.
“I’m interested in seeing how the rest of you cook then,” she said while twirling the pasta around her fork.
“You’re in luck then. Duke’s cooking tomorrow and Nosedive the next day. Though, frankly, we tend to call out on Dive’s days too,” Wildwing replied.
“Because… he tends to glance at the recipe book then close it and uh… carry on from there. On memory and… Dive’s memory when it comes to recipes… can be quite startling. Especially if you know what he was planning on.”
Agnus giggled and Wildwing smiled. He was glad that the two of them seemed to be getting off on the right foot.

The next few days were reasonably peaceful for the Ducks. No games, no photo shoots, no public appearances and no trouble from Dragaunus, which was causing some tension amongst the Ducks. Wildwing, particularly, was getting more and more concerned. Questions like ‘what was Dragaunus up to?’, ‘when will he strike next and where?’ were buzzing around in his head. Not only did he have to lead and protect his team, he also felt responsible for the protection of the world.
The team captain let out a weary sigh while he sat pondering just such monstrous things at the kitchen counter.
“Penny for?” a voice asked behind him.
Wildwing, surprised to be addressed, looked back and smiled when he saw Agnus skating in.
“Hey Aggie,” he said.
“Hey. You okay?” she asked, pulling up a bar stool and taking a seat next to the lead duck.
“Yeah. Just thinking.”
“Nothing to worry about.”
Agnus just smiled at Wildwing.
“What?” he asked.
“I may not have been here long, Wing, but… I know when something’s troubling you. You’ve been getting quieter and quieter and I’m told that’s not normal,” Agnus replied.
“You got an insider on my usual behaviour?”
“Something like that. Uh… a concerned brother.”
“Yeah. He’s been coming to talk to me during the day when he has nothing else to do.”
“You been putting him to work?”
“Not yet.”
Wildwing just smiled. He knew how quickly Nosedive would be out of there if Aggie so much as mentioned the idea of him helping clean up the Pond.
“If he starts getting in the way then I’ll hand him a broom,” Agnus said with a smile.
“Good,” Wildwing said.
“Well, I best be getting back to work. I just came down to see how you were.”
“Let me guess… Dive.”
“On the beak, Wing. Take care of yourself, hey, and… if you need to talk…”
Wildwing smiled at Agnus and merely nodded his reply.
“Good,” Agnus said.
With that she gave the lead Duck a pat on the back and then took her leave.
Once she was out, Wildwing couldn’t help but smile to himself. He and Agnus were fast becoming good friends. She was becoming friendly with the rest of the team too, but he and she seemed to share a unique bond.

The Pond was quiet that evening. Nosedive had gone with Grin, Thrash and Mookie to some party or other that Thrash knew about. Mallory had gone off for some last-minute-shopping. Tanya hadn’t even returned from her excursion to Lectric Land yet. Wildwing was starting to wonder if he should contact her, to make sure she was still okay. And finally Duke… well, no one was quite sure where Duke was. He had disappeared early that morning and had yet to return. Another one for Wildwing’s call list.
Wildwing himself was the only duck still at the Pond, as far as he knew.
Suddenly he was pulled from his thoughts when a voice spoke up.
“See ya tomorrow, Aggie,” Phil said.
“See ya, Uncle Phil. Drive carefully,” Agnus’ voice replied.
Wildwing smiled. He was getting tired of being on his own.
“Will do.”
Wildwing heard the elevator doors close and he knew that Phil was out. He got up from his seat and walked over to the entrance of the room to meet up with Aggie.
“Hey,” he said with a smile, leaning against the door frame.
“Oh! Hey,” Agnus replied with a smile, surprised to see the older of the Flashblade brothers.
“Finished for tonight?”
“Yeah. It goes quickly when there’re no fans to clean up after.”
Wildwing just nodded, while Agnus continued in the general direction of her room.
“Where’re the others?” she asked.
“Out. Dive and Grin have gone to a party, Tanya’s still at Lectric Land, Mallory’s headed off to the mall and Duke… I’m not sure where he is,” Wildwing replied, activating his own skates and skating after Agnus.
“I see. Um, if you’ll excuse me, Wildwing, I’m just going to get changed out of these.”
“Sure. You… want some coffee or something? I can make it while you change.”
“I knew there was a reason I liked you. Thanks.”
Wildwing chuckled quietly as he watched Agnus skate off down a corridor. Once she was out of sight he began to make his way through to the kitchen.

Meanwhile, across at the local library, Duke was neck-high in books. He had pulled just about every book on hockey history out from the shelves and was paging through them. His usually only slightly tousled plume was a real sight. He looked like he had been pulled through a bush backwards. He also looked tired. He had to prop his head up with his hand. He sighed as he closed yet another coverless old book and checked his watch.
“Gettin’ on fer time,” he said.
He looked at the piles of books around him and was suddenly regretting not putting them back once he had been done with them.
He let out an irritable sigh before getting up and heading out of the library. He hated leaving a mess, but… he was just way too tired to really care right now.

When Duke arrived back at the Pond, he found Wildwing and Agnus chatting in the kitchen.
“Well, well, well. The weary traveller returns,” Agnus said, looking in the dishevelled swordsman’s direction.
He just groaned a response before taking a seat on the bar stool next to her.
“Coffee?” Wildwing asked.
“Yeah. Strong,” Duke replied, feeling very much worse for wear.
Wildwing nodded before turning to make the ‘order’.
“I wasn’t being cute when I made that ‘weary’-remark, Duke. You okay?” Agnus asked, putting a hand on his shoulder.
“Yeah. Just tired. Paging through book after book seems ta do that ta ya,” he replied, rubbing his eyes.
“Where were you?” Wildwing asked, pouring the coffee.
“The library. I… I was doing some research. Thanks,” Duke said as Wildwing handed him the cup.
“On what?” Agnus asked.
Duke took a sip before replying, “Nothin’ in particular.”
Agnus and Wildwing looked at each other out of the corner of their eyes.
“Okay,” Agnus said, “What did you find then?”
“That the library has way too many dusty books,” Duke replied before taking another sip of coffee and getting up. “If you two will excuse me. I’m jus’ gonna head through to my room.”
“Sure thing, Duke,” Wildwing replied.
Duke nodded his thanks and then took his leave.
Agnus, frowning slightly, watched him leave.
“Penny for?” Wildwing asked, mimicking Agnus’ line from earlier that day.
“Huh? Oh,” Agnus said smiling slightly, “Nothing, Wing.”
“Now you’re doing it. We both know that Duke wasn’t just looking through random old books… and I know that you weren’t frowning at nothing. Now spill.”
“Okay, okay. I know better than to take a goalie on in a one-on-one.”
Wildwing just smiled, though he did wonder what had happened in her hockey past. Both good and bad.
“Well?” he pressed when she didn’t continue.
“I just have my suspicions about Duke, okay? Nothing super-personal on his part, just… he tends to probe a bit too much for his own good into my own personal information,” Agnus replied.
“Ah. I see. … Would he find anything about you in the library?”
Agnus looked at Wildwing and he could see that she was starting to get bristly.
“Just wondering,” he said with a shrug.
“I don’t know, to be honest,” she replied.
“Well, obviously he didn’t find anything as he would have been in much higher spirits if he had.”
The pair then lapsed into a companionable silence, but it didn’t last long.
“You free this evening?” Wildwing asked suddenly.
Agnus looked at the team captain a bit surprised by the question.
“Well?” Wildwing pressed when Agnus didn’t respond.
“Uh, yeah. I’m free. Why?” she asked.
“I was just wondering if you’d like to come for another ride on the duckcycle with me. Hopefully this time without any Saurians.”
“Uh… sure. I’d love to.”
“Great. When you’re done with that we’ll go.”
Agnus smiled at him, but, deep down, she was suspicious of his intentions – especially since they had been talking about her ‘secret’ past.

The roads were reasonably quiet when Wildwing and Agnus got out. The sun was almost completely set giving the city a beautiful red glow.
“Nice night,” Wildwing said, weaving between a pair of cars before overtaking them.
“Yeah,” Agnus replied.
“You okay?”
“Sure. Why wouldn’t I be?”
“You’re… sort of being short with me and I know that when you’re being short with people… something’s not right. So what’s up?”
“I’m sorry, Wing. I didn’t mean to, it’s just…”
At that moment Wildwing spied a parking on the side of the road and pulled into it. He cut the motor and looked over his shoulder at his passenger.
“Yes?” he asked.
Agnus sighed before getting off and moving around to the front of the duckcycle to speak with the drake.
“Could you remove the mask? It… makes you look rather intimidating,” Agnus said with a smile.
“Sure,” Wildwing replied, taking his mask off before returning his attention to the girl before him. “So, what’s the problem?”
“Don’t take this the wrong way, but… what are your intentions for this little outing?”
Wildwing was a little taken aback by the question.
“Intentions?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Agnus replied.
“Um… define?”
Fact finding, just because that sort of thing.”
“Oh! Oh, no. I just thought a ride would do you good. Get your mind off of things.”
Wildwing could see that Agnus wasn’t totally buying his story, even though it was true. He reached out and took her hand in his.
“Agnus, what happened in your past is your business. Not mine. Not Duke’s and not any of the other Ducks either. Duke…,” Wildwing sighed, he wasn’t sure if he should say what Duke had said a few days ago or not.
“Duke?” Agnus asked.
“Duke said that your secret was like a safe that he just had to crack.”
“Don’t hold it against him though. I… guess he still has some elements from his own past to get past.”
“I don’t think it’s that, Wildwing. I think Duke just likes solving difficult puzzles. Cracking safes is just a really big and illegal puzzle.”
“You’ve got a point there.”
“How about this? I’ll buy him a Rubik’s Cube and he can try to fathom that out.”
Wildwing chuckled.
“You could try,” he said.
Agnus just smiled at him.
“Glad to see you’re feeling more at ease, Ags,” Wildwing said.
“Yeah. I’m sorry I suspected you like that, Wing,” Agnus said.
Wildwing just shrugged. “Water off a duck’s back,” he said, earning a giggle from Agnus, “Let’s get going, shall we?”
“Sure,” Agnus replied, moving back around behind Wildwing and getting back on.

Not too far from where Wildwing and Agnus had pulled over, Dragaunus’ henchmen were just finishing up a raid on a cosmetics shop.
“Who woulda thought that humans liked to put such hazardous chemicals all over themselves,” Chameleon said, reading the ingredients on the back of a particular hair product.
“They are strange creatures indeed, Chameleon,” Wraith replied.
“Shh! Someone’s comin’,” Siege said, hearing the familiar sound of a duckcycle approaching.
He carefully made his way out of the alley towards the road and peeked around the corner.
“It’s Wildwing,” he said, spying the lead duck coming down the road.
“Let’s get outta here fast then,” Chameleon said, reaching for his teleporter.
“Wait up. I’m gonna make sure this duck doesn’t give us any more trouble… ever.”
Siege pulled out his trusty hand-blaster and aimed it at the spot right between the lead duck’s eyes. He was about to squeeze the trigger when a car cut in front of Wildwing.
“Blast!” Siege swore.
“Veered off?” Chameleon asked.
“Negative. Interference, but don’t worry. He’s still comin’ this way.”
Siege waited as concealed as he could be behind the alley wall, until Wildwing came into view.
“Gotcha,” Siege said, when Wildwing came into his sights.
He squeezed the trigger. The shot fired, but missed its target. Instead it got Agnus in the side of her helmet, the force of the blast threw her from the back of the duckcycle to the road.
“Agnus!” Wildwing exclaimed, spinning the duckcycle around.
“Blast! Missed!” Siege said.
“Forget about the duck, Siege. We’ve got to get back to Dragaunus with these supplies,” Wraith said.
“Yeah. What he wants with this junk is beyond me though,” Chameleon said.
With that the Saurians teleported out of the alley way and back to the Raptor.
Meanwhile though, Wildwing had abandoned the duckcycle and was kneeling next to Agnus.
“Aggie!” he exclaimed, trying to get a response from her, “Aggie!”