While Bugs, Mickey and Scrooge were busy going over costs with the Chipmunks, as well as going through the various systems the quadzillionaire’s music businesses had as options, the Duck Triplets took Pluto and the children into a cataloguing room, or the “Filing Cabinet Closet” as Louie liked to call it. There, they set to work searching for the most recent toy catalogues—some were dated back to the 70s for archival’s sake. By the time they had been able to pull out two dozen, Mickey had found them and handed over the list of children that he had received from his manager.
They set up in the fireplace room and began to skim through the pages for the next hour or two.
“Quackaroonie,” Huey whistled from his spot on the sofa chair—Dewey and Louie were both on the floor next to him, Dewey sitting with his back against the chair and Louie lying on his stomach. “I kinda forgot how awesome Unca Scrooge’s toy catalogues were. So many choices to make!”
“Do we just keep circling the toys we think would work?” Andrew asked as he, his siblings and Ashton flipped pages from their own catalogues. All the children were sitting on the floor save Susie, who was seated next to a lying Pluto, on the couch.
“Yep, that’s pretty much it,” Huey replied. “Remember that they need to be things that kids at the hospital can hug. Nice and soft, and maybe a bit chewey for toddlers. But not too small.”
“How about building blocks or those robots that transform?” Louie wondered. “I’m pretty sure most boys won’t play with dolls. And maybe there’s a handful of girls who don’t like Berbee.”
“Yeah, I think those would work too. We can always double check with Unca Scrooge. He seems to know what makes a good toy, or at least he has since he took us in for four years.”
Ashton had remained quiet for most of the time spent with the triplets. Not only was he beside himself—he had met so many new Toons in the span of a few days—but he was still thinking over the things his father and Mickey had revealed the day earlier. It had certainly cleared things up for him, yet he was still unsure how to react to the news of how his father had been close friends with Mickey and knew most of the Disney Toons personally. Before that week, he had never even considered the thought that Bugs could be friends with Mickey, of all Animation Rivals.
The issues for their music video were getting resolved, therefore left a more positive feeling for him; however, secrets his father kept still bothered him.
Ashton snatched up his head and looked at the duck clad in red, who was staring back at him with a smile. “How you liking L.A., hm?” Huey continued. “Unca Scrooge told us that you and your parents just moved back in September, and that it was the first time for you to move to the city. Big change?”
Ashton blinked before grinning. “Uh-huh,” he replied. “But I’ve been enjoying myself. It took a while to make any good friends, but I like living in the city. Dad says I get that from my Mom.”
Louie giggled at that. Dewey turned his head and smiled. “Yeah, I remember how your dad wasn’t big on living in the city,” he said. Looking up at Huey, he added, “Remember when he moved away? Mickey was so distraught for a week or two.”
“Heheh,” Huey chuckled as he continued to flip through the catalogue on his lap. “He was grumpy and snapped at a lot of people. Mostly humans. Kinda like Mister Disney on a bad day.”
Ashton tilted his head at this piece of history. “How come Mickey was distraught when my folks left?” he wondered, although he had a feeling it had to do with Bugs and Mickey’ friendship.
“Oh, he was used to spending one day a week with your dad, that’s all,” Dewey explained. “The two of them liked to get together and get away from work and their pals. It helped them relax and get an outside perspective on things… or argue, ha. Despite the whole Incident of 1943 being behind them, they still compare jobs with each other. I think it’s mostly due to Bugs’ zaniness. They don’t compete in anything due to being afraid of relapse into intense rivalry, but when they disagree on something, they disagree.” Dewey paused here as he flipped a page and smiled. “That’s what I thought was so neat about their friendship; they could get into heated discussions and then automatically flip the happy switch.”
Timmy raised his head and looked at the ducks. “Were you there for the incident of 1943?” he asked.
“Oh, heck yeah,” Louie replied without looking up from his work. “We were created-slash-hatched a few years prior to that. 1938. It was freeeaaaakyyy! I ain’t never seen Mickey so ticked off before.”
“He was on a rampage,” Huey muttered. “I never thought it was possible for him to get that teed, but hey, Bugs was being a showoff. So the two of them had it comin’ for each other—!”
“We promised Mickey that we’d never bring that day up again in discussions, Hue, so let’s just drop the subject,” Dewey warned his brother before flipping another page. “But anyway, Mickey did get upset when your parents moved outa town, Ash. He ended up taking off once a week to the little café in Duckburg where he and Bugs used to go, and just to comfort him, either Unca Scrooge would meet him or one of us. Sometimes, Amelia would drive into town just to keep him company—!”
“Who’s Amelia?” Ashton interrupted.
Susie giggled. “Our Auntie,” she replied. “Daddy’s lil sis! She only appears in the Disney comics, but Dad loves her so much she’s one of the only strictly-comic Toons who ages super slowly. She’ll eventually fade away, since she has no Source, but she’s still around.”
“Your dad has a sister?”
Andrew cleared his throat, catching everyone’s attention. He did not take his eyes off of the book in his hands as he spoke: “We’re getting of the subject of Toy Search, guys,” he reminded them. “We can talk about Aunt Amelia later; Dad is prolly gonna be back soon to check up on what we’ve got, so let’s at least try to find the few hundred toys we need.” His face lit up when he saw a certain toy on the current page and then raised it to show the Duck triplets. “How about these?” he asked, pointing at some rubber dart guns. “Dad said these were huge back in the day.”
“Eeehh, true they were, but I don’t think it’s a hospital safe toy, Andy,” Dewey disagreed. “Either a kid could choke on the darts or else the nurses would just take it away.”
“Darn. I wouldn’t mind playin’ with the kids in the hallways.”
“Too risky in a hospital, Junior.”
As soon as Andrew had set his catalogue down, Timmy raised his into the air and pointed at another toy. “How ‘bout these?” he exclaimed, showing a page of marbles. “We could play tiddley-winks an’ win each other’s toys over!”
“First off, marbles are definitely a choke hazard,” Huey said. “And secondly, I don’t think promoting gambling even over toys is a Rated G thing. So no, sorry Squirt.”
“Aw, nuts! They woulda made a great launcher too, to hit people in the noses, haha!”
Susie gasped, catching Ashton’s attention, and he watched her lean in Timmy’s direction and glare. “Where do you come up with these mean ideas?” she scolded.
“Pa said it was somethin’ he used tah do back in the 30s,” Timmy said while raising his nose in the air.
“He probably regrets doin’ it—!”
“Nuh-uh! He told me him an’ Mister Donald an’ Mister Goofy do it all the time still! Only they don’t toss ‘em at people. But I wouldn’t mind doin’ it to human meanies who pick on Toons. If ya ask me, they deserve it—!”
This time, Andrew reached over and slapped a hand over his brother’s mouth. “Gosh darnit, Timothy, if Mom heard the things coming from your mouth she’d send ya to bed without supper,” he groaned. “I don’t understand how a search for toys can go from the Incident of 1943 to marble pranks. We’re tryin’ to help Dad and Bugs do their video, and so far you’re lucky neither of our folks or even Mister McDuck heard all the naughty little things you say. Now look for less violent toys and—!”
“Marbles aren’t violent, Andrew,” Timmy blurted as he pushed his brother’s hand aside. “And neither are my ideas. Pa says any idea is a good idea, even if ya don’t use it. I was just kiddin’ anyway, I wouldn’t toss no marble at anyone unless Pa said I could!”
Ashton lowered his ears as discretely as possible as the Mouse children began to bicker, and although he was becoming a little uncomfortable with the loudness Pluto and the Duck triplets seemed accustomed to it. The dog continued to doze, only raising one ear, and Huey, Dewey and Louie went on flipping through their toy catalogues.
Ashton was too used to being an only child; even the loudness and bickering between his friends at school made him uncomfortable.
Susie shook a finger in Timmy’s face. “You should know better than to joke about mean things like that, Timmy,” she said. “Especially around Christmas. How do you expect Santa Claus to bring you any presents if you’re on his naughty list?”
Timmy raised his nose in the air. “I’m not on it, Missus Diane Miller said so herself,” he sniffed. “The only thing that could get me on that list is if I chewed bubble gum and stuck it in your hair or painted your favorite ballet tutu black!”
Susie gasped at this while Andrew gently knocked his brother over the head. “Where do you even think up ideas like that?” he groaned. “You’re beginning to act just as sour as Dudley Duck does when—!”
“Whoa, hold up now,” Huey exclaimed, holding his hands in the air to silence the children. Ashton had seen all three of the ducks freeze and even frown in confusion at Andrew’s last words—almost as though they were not expecting to hear the mouse utter their cousin’s name. Once the Mouse children and even Pluto looked up, the red-clad duck furrowed his brow and pointed at Andrew. “What did you say Dudley did?”
Andrew blinked and exchanged a curious look with his sister before looking at him again. “That Dudley acts real sour whenever we see him?” he said. “It’s true; he’s got a pretty bad mouth. A lot like Mister Donald does when he gets impatient. I’ve never even seen him smile, let alone say hello to anyone when we see him at the studios.”
Huey recoiled in shock at this before looking at his siblings. Louie scratched his head. “That doesn’t sound like our Dudley,” he muttered, just as Dewey shook his head.
Huey pointed at himself. “Our little cousin’s the sweetest duckling that’s ever hatched,” he said. “He always says hello, he never speaks out of line to any of the Toon or Human Staff at Disney, and he’s the most obedient kid ever… with the exceptional fun prank on Unca Donald and Unca Scrooge, but he’s nowhere near as devious as we could sometimes be at his age.”
This time, Andrew, Susie, Timmy, and even Ashton, recoiled in shock. Dewey held up a hand. “It’s true,” he said. “He’s the only one Unca Scrooge allows to interrupt his phone meetings, he’s the only one who’s allowed to sit in the Vault to do homework when Unca Scrooge takes a dip, and he’s the only one who can really make Unca Scrooge smile on the worst of days. Never once did he disobey his parents or Unca Scrooge. So wherever you kids are getting your information, I think you need to recheck your sources.”
“Sources?” Susie echoed. “But Dudley always acts mean when we see him. I’ve never heard him say one thing nice ever!”
Ashton raised his hand in the air, catching everyone’s attention. “And while I don’t actually know him, my friends at school say that he can be a real bully or show-off too… like his dad.”
Huey scoffed and crossed his arms. “That’s a load of bull dung,” he said. “Dudley Duck is not a bully. If ya ask me, he’s probably the one getting bullied!”
Timmy gasped. “Ya mean he gets bullied at school?”
Louie shrugged. “I wouldn’t be surprised,” he said. “We kinda figured he gets tough treatment at school because of whose family he belongs to. I mean, we’re the only Toon family in existence that has an actually ancestral lineage, and his great uncle happens to be richer than the richest human. Hard not to get picked on if you don’t live up to those expectations. I’ll bet my paycheck that he hasn’t told Unca Donald, Aunt Daisy or Unca Scrooge yet either.”
Huey continued: “Sure, he’s got the McDuck Temper—Unca Scrooge says the only one from our family who hasn’t shown those signs yet is Louie—and he can be a little feisty like Unca Donald…” His frown dissipated here and his eyes filled with pity. “But… you kids should know better than anyone what kind of pressure weighs down on you if you have famous parents.” He looked at Andrew. “Has there ever been a time to date that anyone, whether from the media or at school, has never expected you to be a carbon replica of Mickey Mouse, Andy? Or even you, Timmy? And how about you, Su; do people expect you to be exactly like your Mom?”
Dewey pointed at Ashton. “And I’ll bet you’ve gotten issues about having to be exactly like your dad, huh, Ash?” he guessed. “I hear your school is notorious for catagorizing kids, especially kids who come from famous families.”
Ashton’s ears fell again and he nodded. “Yeah, my own pals said that I couldn’t be Bugs Bunny’s son because I’m not funny like he is,” he said. “But I don’t wanna be funny like him, and he already told me he loves me for being super smart instead.”
Andrew, Susie and even Timmy all had their eyes downcast now, and shame was over their faces. “Yeah,” Timmy mumbled, “Sometimes kids at school tell me to be exactly like Mickey Mouse because it’s only natural. But I like being Timothy Mouse and playin’ with cars in the mud.”
“And I like dancing ballet, not playing piano like Mom,” Susie agreed.
“And I like playing the bad guy and not the hero in games, not like Dad,” Andrew added. After twiddling his thumbs, he looked up at Huey. “I guess we can be just as judgemental as other people about how certain people should act. I wonder if that’s why Dad’s never spoken a bad word about Dudley… he does get mad when we say mean things about him, but I always thought that was just because we shouldn’t say mean things about others in general. I never thought that maybe Dudley was going through the same things we were.”
Dewey shrugged. “Sometimes, it slips your mind because you’re the kids of America’s most recognizable Toon Icons, and he’s not—well, sorta,” he said. “But Dudley gets pressured in other ways, like when we travel with Unca Scrooge. Unless the guy works for Unca Scrooge and knows how happy and lovable Dudley is, everyone expects him to be as fiery as Donald Duck. But I think he’s the only guy who is able to make Unca Donald and Unca Scrooge get along to a certain extent.”
“Dudley doesn’t have siblings or friends at school like you guys do,” Louie said with a sad smile. “You kids aren’t True Toons like the rest of us, meaning that you were given life through birth, and not by the result of a human drawing you out. So your personalities all depend on how you grow. Here’s a lame analogy, but kinda like the difference between a plastic Christmas Tree and a real one. The plastic one is made by machines, so its shape is already defined. The real one grows form a tiny seed, and may twist and turn according to Nature’s climate. But they can both sport gorgeous garland and lights. Maybe all Dudley needs is for someone to like him for who he is, and his real personality will shine through. Just like yours do.”
The silence that followed not only allowed the Mouse Children to consider this suggestion and rethink their point of view on their fellow Disney Kid, but it gave Ashton an even better perspective on the lives and personalities of the Disney Toons in a whole: while they had families like the Looney Tunes did, they were all built firmly on the values of family and love, something Bugs and Lola had been trying to teach Ashton in their own ways before their move to the city. They had a more emotional foundation than that of the Looney Tunes, which made them much more tightly knit than even Penny and her parents, Porky and Petunia.
Ashton finally understood one of the things his father admired about Mickey, something that made their friendship a special one—something he had noticed vaguely when observing them at the park nearly a week earlier. Mickey valued his family over his position at the studios. He saw the good in everything, in everyone, and taught his children how to care for each other. While he did have a sense of humor, he was much more serious than Bugs was, as well as the other Looney Tunes. His magical, innocent view of the world allowed for more emotions to be introduced to his children.
Because Bugs was more humor-based and more realistic than magical, he set a foundation of realism for Ashton. Life was tough, especially for a Toon, but it was pleasant. But because he wanted his son to have the best of everything, he took what he learned from Mickey and tried with all his might, even when it was difficult for him as a Looney Tune to do so, to instill it in Ashton’s mind. The world was both serious and creative; it was both humoristic and magical.
Christmas, and this one week in particular, seemed like the best time for Ashton to understand that. As corny as it was, he began to enjoy learning the lessons that brought out the true meaning of the holidays.
A loud sigh from Louie pulled the rabbit out of his thoughts. The green-clad duck set his head against the catalogue and put on a pouting look. “We just got off the subject of Search for Toys again, and we went way into the deep end,” he said. “If we don’t start making a list for each of these manufacturers by the time Mickey and Bugs come back, Unca Scrooge is gonna pluck our tail feathers.”
“HA!” Timmy exclaimed, making Andrew and Susie jump. He beamed. “I’m not the ONLY one who thinks up nasty ideas! HA and HAHA!”
Huey choked on a laugh while Pluto snickered. Ashton, after a giggle, raised his arms in the air. “We can’t be Merry all the time,” he joked, making Dewey laugh.