Love Survives

by Rachel Faraday

Ariana's small, fragile body laid limply on the ground, her loose garments quickly drowning in a pool of her own blood. A small whimper escaped her delicate bill as the pain surged through her body, causing her eyes to squeeze shut tightly. The only things supporting her were the hands of Negaduck, who was sitting on the ground beside her and holding her protectively against him.

After Ariana had made the decision to leave, Negaduck had gone out to look for her, hoping to bring her back with him. But when he had finally found her, she was already being confronted by the other scum of the city. A gang of several thugs were taking their time emotionally tormenting Ariana before they permanently took her out. But Negaduck had arrived in time, and foolishly attempted to take them all on himself. What well looked like a sure victory in his favor quickly turned to disaster. While he was covering Ariana from the front, an assailant fired a shot from behind them in short range, the bullet piercing Ariana's abdomen, tearing right through her body, emerging through her other side, and embedding itself into Negaduck's chest. The commotion had attracted the attention of Darkwing Duck, who had been passing by on his usual patrol. He swiftly rounded up the last few thugs that remained and had them tied, waiting for the police to arrive. But now, he looked onto the scene unfolding before him.

"You're going to make hear me...?" Negaduck weakly urged her, shoving the pain from his own wound aside as he eyed the bullet hole in Ariana's middle. "I'm not going to let you leave again..."

Ariana's eyes slowly fluttered open, their usual gray luster beginning to take on a glossy appearance. She shifted her gaze upward, looking straight into his concerned expression, her face holding pity.

"Why...why did you follow me? I thought...thought you were better off without me around...?" Ariana whispered weakly, followed by another short gasp as the sharp pain surged through her once again. Negaduck put a hand on her shoulder, keeping his other underneath her head.

"You only thought...But it's more than that...I couldn't stand by and do nothing. I care about you too much..." he replied, then hissed loudly as his own pain burned from his chest. Once it had subsided, he opened his eyes and looked back down at her, smiling slightly.

Ariana tried to smile back, but frowned as she felt something warm drip onto her neck. She panned her eyes upward and to the side, finding the source of the blood dripping from Negaduck's chest wound. Her eyes softened as she slowly lifted a hand up to his chest.

"No...Now because of me, you're hurt...I' sorry..." Ariana hoarsely muttered. Just as she gently placed her hand onto his chest over the wound, Negaduck's free hand moved up and softly placed itself over hers.

"No, it's not..." Negaduck replied firmly. "It's not your fault that I care about you so much, and wouldn't have it any other way..."

At his words, Ariana was able to muster a small smile as she gripped his hand as tightly as she could while she was growing weaker and weaker.

They held each other for several long moments, knowing that one of their times was growing shorter and shorter. Ariana's eyes were closed, and she let out a long sigh, then was silent. Negaduck froze as he no longer heard her small breaths and looked down at her with wide eyes.

"...Ariana..??" he shouted as loudly as he could in a desperate tone. A second passed before her eyes slowly opened again, a warm smile present on her bill.

"Will...will you do me a favor...?" she asked weakly, looking up into his eyes with her own pleading eyes.


"Please...take care of yourself..." Ariana said, barely above a whisper as she lifted her hand up to his face, gently stroking his blood-stained cheek. "...So that we may meet you..."

Negaduck flinched slightly at the feeling of her hand, so cold, on the side of his face, then reached up and took it firmly in his, holding it against his face. He nodded slowly, closing his eyes, and she smiled broadly as she nodded in response to him.

Ariana's body suddenly went lax, her head gently leaning up against Negaduck's body. Her eyes slowly closed as she exhaled deeply one last time. Her hand went limp in his, and then she was gone.

Negaduck still held her hand up to his face, pressing her body against him as a single tear broke through his mask, ran down his bill, then trailed off onto Ariana's head. Darkwing Duck had been standing by at a distance, making sure not to interfere with the heartbreaking scene. He stared toward the now lifeless Ariana and the broken Negaduck with sad, sorrowful eyes.

Moments passed before Negaduck finally unwrapped his arms from around the small, innocent body. Gently, he eased her to a flat, laying position on the ground, pulling stray strands of hair away from her peaceful face. Suddenly, he yelped loudly in pain as the fatal wound inflicted on him was beginning to take its toll. Negaduck doubled over on his knees, grasping his burning chest as his eyes tightly closed, trying to endure the pain.

Darkwing rushed forward a few steps before skidding to a stop. It wasn't until then that he noticed the vast pool of blood surrounded them both. Even split between the two of them, it was a fatal amount of loss. His gaze shifted to the villain, who was no longer able to hold himself up on his two feet.

Negaduck moaned loudly from his knees, placing one hand on the ground and to the side to hold him up. His breathing was becoming a raspy wheezing sound as his vision was beginning to blur, and his head began to throb. He glanced over at his double. "Don't tell Celeste. Promise me that you'll take care of her."

Darkwing simply nodded, knowing there wasn't anything he could do.

Then Negaduck looked skyward as he gasped his last words. "Forgive me..."

The criminal slumped to the ground, motionless.


Negaduck was standing alone in a bright white room and squinted to see around him. There was no longer a burning sensation in his chest, and he was feeling amazingly light. He suddenly felt as if someone were approaching him from behind and slowly turned. His eyes went wide as Ariana walked toward him, wearing an angelic blue dress that flowed around her floating feet. She stopped just inches away from him and looked down at him with a warm smile.

"Ar...Ariana...?" Negaduck stuttered in shock, pulling off his fedora. "You''re a...?"

She merely giggled slightly in response as she reached out and touched the side of his face with her warm hand. "That's right..."

He relaxed at her gentle touch, and smiled slightly. But then he looked at her with a puzzled expression. "But...what am I doing UP here?? I mean, shouldn't I be...?" he trailed off, shifting his eyes downward.

"Of course not...We heard what you said right before you..." Ariana replied, trailing off before she smiled again and continued, "You said 'forgive me'...And for that, and for what you've done for me...and even Celeste, you have been forgiven..."

Negaduck's eyes went wide. Was it actually possible? It must be, considering he was now with her once again. Ariana then frowned slightly, looking back down at him.

"But...I was hoping to see you live on a bit longer. It shouldn't have been your time...not this soon and because of me. Why did you...let go...?" she asked him with a slight tone of pity in her voice.

"Because...I wouldn't have been able to live very long without you..." Negaduck said barely above a whisper. "I...I love you…"

Ariana's eyes were now the ones that were holding shock to them. But as Negaduck smiled and moved toward her, she returned the smile as they pulled each other into a long, gentle embrace. Negaduck sighed loudly, and a tear rolled down Ariana's cheek. After a moment, they slowly pulled away from each other, and Ariana looked down at him with concern.

"But what about Celeste...?"

At the question, he suddenly took on a sullen expression, bringing his eyes to the floor. "She' good hands...Probably in the care of the one person I trust her with the most. And now, I'll be able to keep an eye on her wherever she goes…"

Ariana laughed lightly like a bell, then gazed lovingly into his deep eyes. Taking a step forward, she reached out and took his head in her hands, leaned forward, and kissed him on the tip of his bill. At her action, Negaduck closed his eyes, savoring her emotions toward him. When she pulled back, he slowly wrapped his arms around her back and held her close, not wanting to let go. Ariana smiled down at him, and gently ran her fingers through the feathers atop his head.

"We're together now..." she whispered softly.


Darkwing trudged up the stairs of the tower toward the platform where his spare cot was kept. When Celeste had come to him earlier asking him to find out where her father went, he insisted that she stayed behind in the tower until he returned. And being as late as it was, he found her asleep in his bed, curled up under the blanket like the innocent she was.

He sighed loudly when he caught sight of her form. What was he going to tell her? And HOW was he going to tell her? It wasn't as if he could just come out and say that her father was now deceased and expect the kid not to go through an immense shock. Even though Negaduck was a villain, he knew how much Celeste loved him, for she told him so nearly every day, beginning to call him Uncle Drake.

Shaking his head sadly, Darkwing brought a hand up to his forehead. She didn't deserve to go through this. And what was worse, the misunderstanding that happened between father and daughter earlier had not yet been settled; Celeste still believed that Ariana's departure from the city was all her doing, and that Negaduck had disowned her for it.

"If only she knew..." Darkwing muttered in sorrow, his eyes soft with pity. If only she knew what he had said before he passed on. But now, Celeste was his responsibility; he had given Negaduck his word that he would watch over her, and this was a promise he was going to keep no matter how much he had despised his look-alike in the past.

Quietly so as not to disturb her, Darkwing moved over beside the bed, pulled the blanket further up around Celeste's shoulders, and gently rubbed her back. A soft moan came from her beak, but she did not wake. With a sigh, Darkwing turned and walked over to one of the tower's windows, leaning forward against the sill, and gazed up into the dark sky.

How was he going to do this?? Not just explain to her what had happened, but raise her as she was his own? He DID love her, there was no question about it. But he just wasn't sure how to handle a thirteen year old who had just lost the only family she had in the world.

Darkwing let out another loud sigh as he turned his head downward. Then something caught his attention out of the corner of his eye, and he looked to the side. A small, untouched envelope was leaning against the edge of the sill. And on the front, the initials 'D.W.' were printed in bold letters.

Confusion overtook him as he arched an eyebrow, wondering who could have gotten all of the way up into his hideout without his security cameras picking up an intruder. Slowly, he reached out and plucked the envelope from its resting place, examined it over once, then inserted his finger into the seal, tearing the top open. Inside was a single white card, with a short message written on it. Curiously, Darkwing read...and his eyes slightly widened in a soft expression, then smiled at what was being said to him:

My foe,

She is strong and will do well in life, especially with you now there to guide her. I will be looking down at her each day, watching her grow and grow. Watching her smile and never give up even when things get her down.
She will bring you as much joy as she has brought me. So, in closing...tonight, tuck my little girl in bed warmly. Tell her I love her, then hug her for me, and give her a kiss goodnight for Daddy.