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The Perfect Gift

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                “Well, if you need me, I’ll be lying on the ground in the fabric section,” Gosalyn started to skip off, halted only when her dad snuck a hand into her hood, yanking her back.

             “Not so fast little miss!” Drake snapped, putting his free hand on his hip as he stared down at his daughter. “There are so many things wrong with that statement! First off, the floor?! Honey, a department store is no place to lay on the floor. Secondly, you can’t go wandering off where I can’t see you! What if something happened? I’d never be able to forgive myself, cupcake!” Drake paused and squinted down at his daughter, who was opening and closing her hands to mimic talking while she stared quite literally anywhere but at him, a deep scowl accompanying her sass.

             He took her face between his hands and tilted it up towards him. “Lastly, Darling, I always need you. Especially right this very instant, because oh man, I haven’t the slightest idea what we’re going to do!”

             “Ugh, Dad,” Gosalyn huffed, but Drake could see that she was trying not to smile at his theatrics – which he had to admit were only partially to get her to smile. He really was lost in a world where he knew nothing.

             “We’ve nearly been around this entire store and I still don’t know what to get,” Drake sighed, releasing his daughter only to flop dramatically on the empty shopping cart he had been pushing around for nearly an hour.

             “Wow, look at all this amazing stuff,” Gosalyn’s voice was flat and sarcastic as she gestured to the store around her. She pepped up a little bit to add on, “We could, get this,” she held her hands out in front of her as if to brace herself, “buy something and not spend the rest of our lives in a store.”

             “I just want it to be perfect,” Drake sighed, raising his head from the shopping cart that he’d still been flopped on. He had to be honest, Gosalyn had a point. They’d been shopping for a while and he was pretty tired too. But he couldn’t leave without the perfect gift.

             “Dad, he’ll love literally anything you get him! I picked up a leaf from the ground on my way home from school like, months ago, and he still has it in his coloring book. He’d be over the moon if you brought home like, a burrito.” Gosalyn rolled her eyes and picked up some random trinket from a shelf, “He’d like this,” she tossed it back down and picked up something else to wave in her dad’s face, “or this.”

             Drake snatched the keychain out of Gosalyn’s hand and hung it back up on the display. “Your father would not like a random keychain for his birthday!” Drake buried his face in his hands, wishing that he knew what to actually get the other for the ever-so-quickly approaching birthday.

He and Gosalyn had already picked out a few cool fan-drawn Darkwing Duck posters for him, but those gifts would be labeled, “From Drake and your Cupcake.” Drake was the one who decided to go with the rhyme. Gosalyn was vehemently against it. Too bad Drake was the one with the wrapping skills. Nonetheless, Drake wanted to get him something that was just from him. A little something that he could relish in seeing Launchpad’s face light up when opening it. The only problem was that it seemed every store they visited was conspiring against him.

“Actually, Dad,” Gosalyn said, sorting through the keychains again, “I’m pretty sure that he’d like literally any of these. Some of them spin. He’d loooove that!” She glanced up at her dad, who was busy wallowing in his own failure to pick out a gift. “Yeah, he’d love it nearly as much as I’d love to be home right now,” she muttered, kicking the bottom of the display as Drake started rolling the cart forward again – to a place in the store they’d no doubt already been to.

“Behave,” Drake’s words were quick, but his tone was softer than expected. “I know you don’t want to be here. We’ll be done soon…” Drake sighed, turning to see Gosalyn with her hands shoved in her pockets, practically stomping along with no trace of her usual contagious smile. “Well, the floor might not be the best place to lay in a department store,” Drake knelt down in front of her, “But you know what is?”

Gosalyn huffed a huge sigh before spitting out, “Where?” She spoke the word as if it had personally done her wrong.

“In the buggy!” Drake exclaimed, picking Gosalyn up despite her protests.

“Dad isn’t even here! He’s the one who puts me in the buggy!” Gosalyn squirmed, trying to escape her dad’s grip. “And don’t you think even for a second that I’m going to sit in the dumb little baby seat like you always try to make me! I’m not a baby!”

“Don’t worry. Don’t worry,” Drake sighed and plopped her in the metal cage of the buggy. “Remember last time I tried to get you in the baby seat? We almost had to call the fire department because you couldn’t get out!”

“Because I’m not a baby,” Gosalyn sighed, standing up in the shopping cart and adding on, “Let’s at least catch some speed and make this trip a little more exciting…”

“Catch some… What have you and LP been doing when you go to the store?!” Drake screeched the cart to a halt, which wasn’t hard considering they were barely even moving at walking speed. Keeping herself balanced was the most fun Gosalyn had had the entire store trip though.

“Oh, yeah, well… Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Nothing that concerns you at all. Wow, would you look at all these things in this aisle? Wow, Dad would looove this…” Gosalyn plopped herself down in the buggy, her smile now present again as she pointed to random things of no consequence and went on and on about how much Launchpad would love them.

“I knew there was a reason I never let Launchpad push the buggy when we all go. Y’know, other than the fact that he likes to ride on the end,” Drake muttered, but despite it all, he was still grinning at the thought of his husband pushing their little girl around the grocery store at breakneck speeds. Wait… “Did you guys get banned from the grocery store near the old apartment?!”

“Banned? Now however would two perfect angels like Launchdad and I get banned from a grocery store?” Gosalyn knew she was in a position of power in this conversation, seeing as she had all the answers that Drake wanted, so of course, she said nothing.

“I knew that he wasn’t scared of the logo! I can’t believe I fell for that so many times… And all the detours I took to avoid driving past so as to not scare him… The reusable bags I bought so I wouldn’t bring home their branded bags…” Drake threw his hands up in the air, letting the buggy roll by itself for a fraction of a second, “Am I the only sane one in this household?”

Gosalyn immediately burst out into laughter so severe that she was grasping at her stomach. The only words she was able to cough out were, “Sane? You?”

“Ha. Ha. Very funny,” Drake grumbled, “Seriously though, gifts are really hard to figure out.”

“Well, you still have a few more days,” Gosalyn replied. “A few more days in which you could go shopping… alone… leaving me at home…”

             “I have to work the next few days. Anyways, we all know what happens when I leave you home alone.”

Gosalyn threw her hands in the air as she muttered, “Set the couch on fire one time and I’m branded for life.”

“It’s hard to forget when there’s a burn stain across one side of the couch, Muffin.” Drake lectured her once more on the safety of lighting matches when no one was home (Never, he said…) while he steered the cart around aisles that Gosalyn could probably list what was in by heart by now.

“There are like a bazillion other stores in the mall,” Gosalyn grumbled, having given in and stretching herself across the cart comfortably, using her jacket as a pillow. “Maybe one of them will strike inspiration in you. Or maybe the food court will cause you have to realize how hungry both of us are. How much we neeeeed to stop and get some Chinese food. Think about how much you love sweet and sour sauce, Dad.”

“I think someone’s projecting,” Drake replied, speaking the words every kid hates to hear. “Anyways, we have food at home.”

“Can we at least look at other, cooler, stores? Like, maybe a game store. Or we could go to the sports store!” Gosalyn threw some mock punches in the air from her comfy spot in the buggy with that one.

Drake awkwardly scratched the back of his head, the feathers on his face tinted slightly red. “Uhh, well, I don’t have a coupon for those stores, and I do here.” His words were spit out so quickly that Gosalyn could barely grasp them, but who could blame him for spitting them out so quick? They were some pretty lame words.

“You’re telling me that we’ve wasted the last hour of our lives walking around this cursed store because you have a coupon?!” Gosalyn very nearly made the effort of sitting up in the cart to fight that statement.

“Well, with all the doctor’s visits recently… Money’s been tight, Honey,” Drake spoke his words carefully as he started to root through a rack of shirts, but he quickly moved on from that one – fancy clothes had never really been one of Launchpad’s favorites.

“Then why don’t you just make him something,” Gosalyn replied, “That’s what I do. Or, y’know, pick up some stuff from the ground like his favorite leaf, courtesy of me.”

“Make something?” Drake let that thought sink in. With all that he’d been trying to find the perfect gift, he hadn’t thought that maybe he could make the perfect gift. “You’re on to something there.”

Drake pulled a complete 180 with the cart, bringing out a slight squeal of elation from his little passenger. He weaved through the aisles that he had all but memorized at this point until he came upon the one that her comment had spurred him towards.

“Art supplies?” Gosalyn asked, looking around, “Dad doesn’t really do much art, other than coloring.”

“You’ll see,” Drake said back to her with a wink that drew an eye roll out of her. He sorted through the several sketch pads that were in the aisle, picking out one that was wide but didn’t have too many pages. He also grabbed a little book of construction paper sheets, and finally started heading towards the register, which drew out quite a bit of celebration from his daughter.

“Now, just think about it, Dad. Whatever great idea you have is thanks to my great mind, so I think that definitely earns me some delicious mall food! Delicious, overpriced mall food!” Gosalyn crawled across the cart to tug on his rolled-up sleeves, effectively unrolling them. “And I’ve been sooooo good this whole trip: minimal complaining, no whining, I’ve powered through all of your indecisiveness like a real champ!”

“Absolutely none of that is true,” Drake replied with a stern face, rolling up his sleeves once more. “Except for the part about you giving me an idea, I guess… So, as long as you pick out something that can be taken to go, and pick out something for your other dad too, then I guess I can manage some mall food. Don’t think I’m going soft though, this is the only time in your entire life that I will cave to that request, okay Dumpling?”

“Yeah, yeah, you say that every time you cave,” Gosalyn replied, flopping back down into the buggy with her arms crossed and a smug smile.

They finished checking out with minimal issues (Other than Drake’s coupon not wanting to be accepted by the self-checkout machine, causing a little bit of an argument between Drake and the machine…) They grabbed their Chinese food to go, and they drove home, Drake antsy to get started on his dream gift for his husband.

“What are you going to make anyways?” Gosalyn asked from the backseat, with her mouth full of rice.

“What have I always told you about talking with your mouth full?” Drake sighed from the front seat. “Anyways, you’ll find out what your dad is getting the same time he will – on his birthday!”

“No fair! You tortured me, put me through hours of shopping, made me look at every dumb idea you had, and now you don’t even trust me with what you’re doing? Not fair at all, Dad.” Gosalyn took another heaping bite of her food to seal off her argument.

“I got you your expensive mall food as a thank you for all the whining you did while we shopped today, Sweetie.” Drake shushed her once more as they pulled into the driveway of their new home. “Don’t you dare tell your dad I’m working on something for him either! And carry the food in, since it was your idea.”

The instant they were in the house, Drake retreated to his and Launchpad’s bedroom with his mall food, his supplies from the store, and a warning of, “Gos, I better not smell any smoke while I’m working on this!”

He flipped open his laptop, pulling up an episode of Darkwing Duck and pausing it on the final scene of the theme song. He got to cutting, snipping out pieces of construction paper in the corresponding colors, and pretty soon he’d made a pretty convincing collage replication of the title scene of his and his husband’s favorite show. He fit the letters and caricature of Jim Starling onto a whole sheet of purple construction paper and glued it down on the cover of the sketchbook he had bought. With a few more snips of some orange and yellow papers, he leaned back to take in his work so far.

‘Launchpad’s Darkwing Duck Coloring Book!’ The front of the sketchbook now read in messy construction paper collage words. He took out a pen and wrote lightly on the bottom, ‘From your loving husband.’

For the next few days, every time that Drake had time before Launchpad would come home, he’d sit down and sketch out a scene from the show – leaving lots of room between the lines so that Launchpad would be able to color it. He’d always been dismayed that they hadn’t made a Darkwing Duck coloring book that he could purchase for his husband, but he’d never thought of the fact that he could make it himself. After all, they’d watched the show so frequently that of course he could sketch a few scenes by heart.

By the time it was finally his husband’s birthday, the sketch book was chock full of drawings of Darkwing, villains from the show, even a few of Launchpad and Drake in their own hero get-ups. Drake had gone the extra mile in adding typical coloring book faire such as mazes and word searches. All in all, he’d made something that he was very proud of – something that he knew that he could be happy giving to Launchpad.

So, on Launchpad’s birthday, he gingerly wrapped it up and put it in the back of the car when the three of them loaded up to go to the party. They were having it in the kiddie birthday room at Funso’s Funzone. Sure, Drake may have had to lie and say it was for his daughter’s birthday party, but still, it was worth it for how excited his husband was to go.

The night went spectacularly, with the whole crew coming together to celebrate Launchpad’s birthday. Scrooge, Della, and Donald brought the boys and Webby, of course, so Launchpad had a ball playing with Gosalyn and them in the playhouses throughout the night. Once it was finally time for cake and presents, Drake was practically bursting with excitement for his husband to open the gift he’d labored away at.

“Oh man! I love surprises!” Launchpad said as he took in the gifts spread in front of him, “Which should I open first?” he asked, looking around at the group of people in front of him. Drake pulled his gift from the pile and held it close – save the best for last one would say.

So, Launchpad started with a model plane from Donald and Della, a card from Scrooge stating that birthdays do not mean it’s time to frivolously waste money on others, a photo of the boys and Launchpad outside a plane crash from Huey, a photo entirely of Dewey from Dewey, and a bag of Funso tokens from Louie. He opened a… pile of leaves from Gosalyn, who stuck her tongue out at Drake when Launchpad was instantly excited to figure out what kind of leaves they were. From Mrs. Beakley he got what looked to be a hand sewn Darkwing Duck mask and hat, which he immediately donned, of course. When it boiled down to the end of the gifts, all that was left were the posters that Gosalyn and Drake had picked out and the gift that Drake had spent so long perfecting.

“These are from Gos and I. We picked them out together,” Drake said, passing the wrapped-up poster tubes to his husband, “Please take note of the rhyme on the tag.”

“Hmmm, it’s some sort of tube,” Launchpad said, shaking it a little bit. “Not much wiggle room in there. If I had to guess, I’d say a huge jar of spaghetti!” He ripped open the wrapping paper with boundless enthusiasm, cocking his head at the cardboard tube inside. “Ah, yes, not spaghetti, obviously. That would have been way noisier.” When he finally got the posters out of the tube and unrolled enough for him to actually see them, Drake was nearly in tears with the love he held for the man in front of them.

“Oh man! And this one is going to go right above the couch, in that empty spot that you keep saying we need to fill! It’ll look so amazing, like Darkwing is bursting into the living room through the wall! Thanks so much guys,” he pulled Gosalyn and Drake into a hug which was definitely photographed by one of the others in the room.

“I have one last gift for you,” Drake said, pulling the daintily wrapped coloring book from behind his back. “It’s not much, but I wanted to make you something.”

Launchpad took it out of Drake’s hands, weighing it to do his classic Launchpad assessment of what it could be. “I know this feeling anywhere! I really needed a new coloring book too, because my old one is very nearly a colored-in book by now! The exciting part is what kind it is though!” Launchpad was careful with the paper, so as to not catch the actual book in his excited tearing. There was nothing Drake could have done to prepare himself for the reaction that his husband let out upon seeing just the front cover though.

“No! You…” Launchpad turned towards Drake and then looked back down at it, “For me?”

“Lemme see!” Gosalyn said, squirming in between her two dads to give the gift she’d been ceaselessly asking about a glance. “That’s mushy, Dad,” she said, looking up at Drake.

“It’s the best thing in the world,” Launchpad said, beginning to flip through the pages. “Did you do all of this yourself, Drake?”

“It was the one Darkwing themed thing I always wished I could give you, but never could find,” Drake looked up at his husband, who was staring wide-eyed at the coloring book as if it could grant wishes.

“I love you so much, Drake,” Launchpad spoke quietly, but his words were dripping with pure excitement as he pulled his husband in for a kiss.

“Happy birthday, Launchpad. I love you more than you’ll ever know,” Drake replied, glad that his gift had had all the impact that he’d been seeking. And to think, he got his inspiration from Gosalyn.