Lessons of the Heart

Duke L’Orange stood in front of his mirror, practicing.

"Hey, Mal, you know what I was thinking? What say you and me go out tonight? Catch a movie, get some chow, could be fun. How about it?" he asked the mirror.

He tried a different pose. "Mallory McMallard, I’m taking you out. Wear something nice."

"No, she’ll hate that." he muttered, and tried again.

"Mally, what say we get away for a little quality time together? Just you, me, and a bottle of Earth’s finest."

Duke growled and started pacing, gesturing as he walked. "It was never this hard before! It was never hard before! Stars, it was never even moderately difficult! Why now?" Duke was getting more and more agitated, and he spun on his heels. "Maybe this means something. But I don’t want it to be hard!" he raised his voice. "Why are you making this so hard Mallory?!"

"Huh?" a faint voice drifted through his closed door.

"Sorry, never mind!" Duke quickly answered. He continued pacing. "Get a grip of yourself L’Orange! What are you, man or duck?" He stopped and heaved a deep breath, and had one last practice run.

"Mallory, I’ve been thinking about you a lot, and I’d like to be your love bunny. If you say no, I’ll jump off the roof of the Pond." He gave the mirror a pleading look, then scowled. "Where the puck did I get *that* from? That is definitely not being used!"


Mallory had to press herself against the hallway wall as Duke skidded around a corner.

"Where’s the fire?" she asked.

"Oh, Mal, just the gal I was looking for." Duke stopped, and rubbed his hands together.

Mallory folded her arms. "Yeah? What?"

"OK, listen up. You. Me. Date. Tonight. Movies. Dinner. Walk. Starlight. What do you say?"

Mallory couldn’t resist a small dig. "I say, what happened to your grammar?" she smiled.

"Don’t be pedantic. Yes or no?" Duke tried to look unconcerned.

It was the moment Mallory had been hoping for for a lengthy time, and she decided to drag it out as long as possible. "Well…I don’t know…"

"If you don’t really wanna go, I can get someone else to come. There’s always Tanya and the kiddo." Duke tried not to look disappointed.

Mallory immediately agreed.


"I don’t know when I’ve laughed so much before!" Mallory was positively radiant, and she gestured wildly. "I’m not sure what was funnier, the movie, or your stupid comments the whole way through it!"

Duke smiled, though in reality he was feeling rather bewildered. This wasn’t the Mallory he was used to. The main reason he’d asked her out, he was ashamed to say, was because she was so pretty. But now… it was different. She was different.

Mallory suddenly became very easy to make laugh. She grew a thicker skin. She talked a lot more, and Duke found he was genuinely interested in what she had to say. Is this what she’s been hiding? Or has she just drunk too much?

He peered around the vase in the center of the table so he could see her glass better. She’d only drunken a tiny bit. She followed his gaze, and said almost apologetically "I can’t drink very much without having it effect me. So I don’t have more than a glass a night. I’m just making it last."

"Very wise." he raised his own glass. "To things that last."

Mallory smiled, and repeated his words.


Duke bowed as the two entered the Pond. "May I escort the lady to her room?"

"Why certainly. But," Mallory yanked him up. "There’s no tip."

"No tip whatsoever? Mally, I got to make a living somehow!"

It was a mock-argument until they reached Mallory’s door.

"Do I get a tip?" Duke breathed softly. He drew her over, and put his arms around her. She giggled, and leaned over to whisper in his ear.

"Work hard, and be good to your mother."

"Very funny." He moved his head back to look at her. "Isn’t Nosedive meant to be the comedian around here?"

"What about me?" Nosedive suddenly came around the corner. "Where’d you two go?" He noticed their position. "Uh, actually, I’ve got a pretty good idea." He continued to walk past. Once he was 5 metres down the corridor he whooped. "You go Duke! You the duck!" He immediately began running before any reprimands came his way.

Mallory rolled her eyes. "Well, I’m sure we can count on the loud mouth to spread the news quickly and efficiently."

"Can’t think of anything better that could come out of his beak."

Mallory nodded agreement. "Well, here we are. My door. This is where I get off." She gave Duke a quick kiss on his beak. "I had a really great time." She broke away, and opened her door, going inside.

"There’s plenty more where that came from!" Duke called after the closing door.

"I’m counting on it. Good-night." The door fully closed, and Duke headed off to his own bunk. He walked into his own room, and shut the door calmly. Then he did a quick jig on the spot before cleaning his teeth.

Story Copyright Rachel Baker ’98. All characters Copyright Disney, and used without permission.