Borne Under a Bad Sign

Ookay. Okay. He should have done this yesterday. He should have done it a week ago he should have done it quarter to midnight the night before he should have-

Hands trembling slightly Gladstone stood on the sidewalk eyes darting in all directions with unparalleled paranoia. Okay. Okay everything was fine. Everything was... well, awful. He had tripped up the stairs on his way out and smashed his bill in the door as he closed it... and ripped a hole in his jacket and his hair was ... just not... it was not cooperating. It was sticking up like mad in some  places and frizzed out to next week in others. He was fidgeting like a sugar fiend looking at a chocolate bar the size of Comet Guy. The lumpy envelope in his hands was already burnt on the edges, a few water spots accented the singes and it was heavily crumpled from his own fretting. 

Deep breaths Gander. Deep breaths. He closed his eyes and inhaled, and naturally inhaled a bug and started hacking, backing up in surprise, colliding with a trashcan and tumbling into it backwards head first. He managed to hold the parcel up to keep it from the same greasy fate.

All he needed, other than to get out of the garbage before it was picked up... (and was that the rumble of the garbage truck down the street in the predawn air?) ...was for Jacob to show up.

That'd be the first good thing (and possibly last) to happen on this godsforsaken day.

 

    • DarkwingPsycho
      DarkwingPsycho

      The envelope was plucked from his fingers to be replaced with a strong hand to help pull him up and out of the garbage can.

      "Gladstone, my boy!" a familiar voice greeted him warmly.  "A refuse bin is no place to spend your birthday.  Come, come!  There are bars to close down, dance halls to impress, and whatever else your heart desires."

      The SHUSH agent wasn't wearing his usual suit.  Instead he was dressed more casually in a polo shirt and slacks, and under his other arm was a wrapped box.  Jacob carefully peeled a sopping, stinking newspaper from Gladstone's now equally sopping, stinking head.

      "Perhaps a shower first...you look like you've had an interesting morning.  Where's that famous luck of yours?"

      • Gladstone Gander
        Gladstone Gander

        The Garbage Pail Kid held up a finger and with a wretched shudder pulled a black banana peel out of his mouth and let it plop on the pavement. 

        "...I..." He blinked and looked up at the strange creature before him. "...what are you wearing? I mean... it looks.. good duh but... and... how did you know it was my-" 

        A car barreled past blasting through a puddle that sent a spray of water onto the slimy goose and inexplicably missing Jacob. He swiped the water from his face before continuing in a tone of complete and total disgust.

        "-birthday? Oh who am I kidding, You probably looked it up... and..." his shoulders sagged and he held his heads in his hands for just a moment before he slicked his gooey hair back. "Can I take a raincheck on the revelry? It's just... my birthday and I, we don't get along and..." another truck rumbled past hitting a bump and from over the side of the open top a fish flew through the air in a graceful arc to land squarely on the goose's head and start flopping around atop his hair. "I have bad luck on my birthday." he said flatly as a fin whapped against his bill. "I just... I appreciate it but... I need you to keep that away from me?" He pointed to the envelope. " Please. Just until tomorrow?" 

        • DarkwingPsycho
          DarkwingPsycho

          "I make everything look good," Jacob responded with a grin.  He watched with a mixture of concern, bewilderment, and amusement as Gladstone was suddenly swarmed with a literal wave of bad luck.

          "No kidding..." he commented when the gander said he had bad luck today.  He shooed the fish off of the fanboy's head and made a dismissive motion.  "Nonsense, no one should be cooped up on their birthday, bad luck or no.  Besides, I have a couple of things you'll appreciate."  He nudged the box.

          Glancing at the envelope still in his hand, he inquired, "What's in it?"

          • Gladstone Gander
            Gladstone Gander

            "NOTHING." 

            Gladstone coughed into his hand relaxing his spine which had gone completely straight. 

            "Nothing all just... something expensive and important and-" he looked back towards the door he'd come out of. Lilly was probably still sleeping down there without a care in the world.  "I just need you to babysit it for me for the day? Don't..." he made a motion as if he was going to reach for it but stopped. "Don't open it okay?" 

            • DarkwingPsycho
              DarkwingPsycho

              Gladstone's outburst surprised Jacob, and he gave his friend a suspicious look.  "'Nothing,' huh?"  He turned it over, looking at the sorry envelope, then put it in his back pants pocket.  "I wouldn't dream of it.  Whatever it is, it's safe with me."

              He followed Gladstone's gaze toward the dry cleaners' and raised a brow.  "Dropping off something?  If you knew you were going to have 'bad luck' today, why run errands at all?"

              • Gladstone Gander
                Gladstone Gander

                Gladstone watched the envelope disappear feeling a weight lift off his shoulders then... uh...

                "Wha?" He blinked then looked back  at the dry cleaners. "Oh. Oh you haven't... let's just say my apartment's in this building and leave it at that for now. It's too complicated and there's far too much that could go wrong out here while I try to explain it.  We'll take a rain check on that conversation okay? Good? Great."

                Gladstone took a step forward to try to disengage from this already too long for the circumstances conversation and in doing so let his foot fall down smack dab on the banana peel and crashed to the pavement.  A stray dog took his moment to wander pass, and sniffed him curiously before lifting it's leg.

                "...please don't watch this. I don't want to be remembered this way."

                He mumbled miserably.

                • DarkwingPsycho
                  DarkwingPsycho

                  "You live there?"  Jacob raised a brow as he appraised the building, then shrugged.  "We'll have to get you better accommodations.  I have a few contacts in the realty business that helped me with my current residence, if you're interested."

                  Jacob had to stifle a chuckled as he kicked the dog away and helped Gladstone back up.  "And I thought you needed a bodyguard before.  Although I'm afraid I can't save you from yourself.  Come on!  Let's get you cleaned up and we'll be off."  He motioned toward the building again.

                  • Gladstone Gander
                    Gladstone Gander

                    "I do.. but.." he frowned at the building. "I really can't risk that-" he pointed to the drake's back pocket. "-being anywhere in there. I can't control it."

                    "Oh yeah you tell 'em, though yours it outta control too." Supplied a passing drunk who took the initiative and slapped Gladstone's rear. 

                    The gander barely reacted other than closing his eyes with a tense exhale. The inhale came and he shook his head trying to find words. A finger lifted, mouth opened. Still no words. Another car zoomed past, soaking the goose again. He closed his mouth.  Another car splashed through the puddle.  Mouth opened.  And another car zoomed by. Gladstone's head swung down, city street water dripping off every inch of him and kept his finger extended.

                    "...this one." He finally managed. "This birthday is really... really annoying so far." 

                    He shook out his arms and slicked back his greasy mass of hair. Well, it wasn't a proper shower but he was cleaner. 

                    "You know what? Yes. Yes. Let's go out for a... anything? I can't drink too much. I can't sleep until tomorrow, so don't tire me out. And... and-" he sent a guilty look back at the building. "And I need to be back before Lilly wakes up. But she's got a normal sleep schedule she's usually good until like... seven thirty? Eight? Did you know they have those in the morning? Seems excessive." 

                     

                    Help me Double-O Kenobi. You're my only hope.

                     

                     

                    • DarkwingPsycho
                      DarkwingPsycho

                      Jacob watched the string of unfortunate events without a word until there seemed to be a break in the madness.  Uncaring what sort of nastiness covered the birthday boy, he slapped him on the back and started walking with him.

                      "At least you're not being held at gunpoint...again," he commented cheerfully.  Then he winked.  "Mum's the word out our outing, Lucky.  You'll be back in one piece before she even bats open an eye."  He paused to glance at Gladstone appraisingly.  "Perhaps I should drive."

                      He only asked that the gander sit on a towel to save the leather seat before they headed through the sleepy city toward downtown.  They had only made it a few blocks before Jacob nodded toward the package in the back.  "Open it."

                      • Gladstone Gander
                        Gladstone Gander

                        Yes. Yes Jacob driving was absolutely the way to go.  Gladstone was still mourning the loss of Judith and while Marissa  was stunning all her own he was hesitant to get behind the wheel least his world (and heart) be shattered again. 

                        So soon he was in Jacob's car, dampening the upholstery and being presented with... a present.

                        "Is... it breakable? Because I might need to hold off until tomorrow?" Don't be ridiculous. This was a gift. A gift from Jacob.  How could he wait? Carefully he took the package and unwrapped just the top of it before making a strangled little noise that might have been a sob as he pushed the paper weakly as if he could seal it back up. But couldn't help himself and peeked at it again. "Are you serious? This... this isn't for me is it?"

                        Why? Was it awful? Not his size? Not his brand?

                        "It's too much." The heels of his palms were pressed to his eyes as if he could push the surge of disbelief back physically. Sure he won things almost constantly but... things were hardly ever explicitly picked out for him by people who actually knew him and still felt like giving him anything

                         

                        • DarkwingPsycho
                          DarkwingPsycho

                          "Who else looks good in that shade of green, my boy?" Jacob quipped.  "Of course it's for you.  And don't be ridiculous, it's not half of what you deserve.  Besides, I went to great lengths to discover your measurements, although I admit I was almost spot on with my own guess."  By "great lengths" he meant he had asked Lilly.

                          Speaking of...  "Things are getting serious between you two," he commented lightly.  "You and Miss Teal, I mean."

                          They navigated the nearly empty city streets, thankfully without much incident with Jacob at the wheel.  He parked in front of a grand-looking building with a large neon sign that proclaimed the name of the establishment plus a jaunty animation of a bowling pin falling into a bowl.

                          "Ever been here?" he asked as he parked the Jaguar.  The sign read: PUNCH BOWL SOCIAL.

                          • Gladstone Gander
                            Gladstone Gander

                            Gladstone blinked up at the sign, torn about whether to risk wearing the jacket or not.  He opted to fold it neatly back up and place it carefully back in the box.  He'd hate to ruin it. It was, afterall, a birthday gift from Jacob. He couldn't risk it.

                            "No." He replied finally eyes lingering on the first word of the sign. "...not much punching actually goes on I hope?" 

                            He hesitated on opening the car door, instead he decided to address a previous statement, one said lightly but...

                            "I'm crazy about her. Lilly I mean... and I don't know what I'm doing right.  Honestly Double-...Jacob, I'm terrified. Can I..." he shifted in his seat uncomfortably, fussing with his already ruined hair distractedly. "...can I ask you something? I don't uh... well... it's just I... I don't know anyone else who's been... uh and I assume you... well context clues and... um. Is Drake really your son?" He blurted out and grimaced immediately putting his hands up. "No, that's not what I, I mean it's none of my business although it seems like-anyway..." He groaned and put his face in his hands. "...how do you know when it's the right time to propose to somebody?" 

                            • DarkwingPsycho
                              DarkwingPsycho

                              Jacob shrugged, turning off the engine.  "Not much unless you start it."  He smirked encouragingly.  "Don't worry, Lucky, you won't be anyone's punching bag but mine."

                              He noticed Gladstone's reluctance to get out and waited for the inevitable heart-to-heart.  "Sure," he said warmly, turning in his seat to regard the fidgeting gander.  "Shoot."

                              He blinked at the question Gladstone fumbled out.  That hadn't been at all what he had been expecting.  Just as he was formulating some sort of coherent response, the other man moved on - to Jacob's relief.  Now this subject he could address without hesitation.

                              "You never know if it's the right time," he said honestly.  "But if you're not terrified, and I mean the good kind of terrified, then she's not the right one.  One day you wake up and realize you can't see life worth living without her.  She is your life.  And if you don't ask her, you might lose her.  If that thought is a fate worse than death, it's the right moment, believe me."

                              His eyes briefly lost their whites, two black and lifeless pearls staring at him in the darkness of the parked car.  "...and then once you claim her body, you can claim her soul."

                              He blinked, looking confused for a second, then it was gone.  Eyes normal again.

                              • Gladstone Gander
                                Gladstone Gander

                                As Jacob spoke the gander watched him, apprehension seeming to drain from his face.  A soft smile turning up the sides of his mouth until... well until that last part.  Eyebrows furrowed in slight bewilderment as he gave the mallard a sidelong stare. 

                                "...how..." eyes shifting along the car's interior as if looking for a script, a response to such a creepy thing to say, and an equally creepy thing to happen to eyes. Just... overall creepy really. "...romantic."

                                He cleared his throat and opened his car door, pausing before getting out to look back at Jacob clearly concerned.

                                "Are you feeling okay? Any..." he motioned to his own eyes. "-dryness? Double vision? Floaters? Difficulty focusing? Dark satanic sigils flashing over your vision?"

                                • DarkwingPsycho
                                  DarkwingPsycho

                                  Jacob furrowed his brow a bit in confusion.  He thought what he had said had been quite romantic, but he couldn't help it if Gladstone didn't appreciate his own experience.

                                  "I'm fine," he said amicably.  He got out of the car easily and closed the door behind him.  "But I'll be better once I get some bourbon."  Security system on, Jacob moved with Gladstone toward the large funopolis.

                                  "In addition to an impressive selection of alcohol," he observed, "there is a bowling alley, a movie theater, games of all sorts, and live entertainment."  He clapped the gander on the back.  "You'll love it."

                                  • Gladstone Gander
                                    Gladstone Gander

                                    The clap on the back made him pitch forward slightly, foot slipping on... oh ugh... best to not think about what THAT was. Gladstone followed Jacob like a nervous duckling on it's first pond outing. 

                                    "Probably should keep me away from anything that requires the throwing of heavy objects.  I'd rather not have my head caved in by an errant bowling ball."

                                    Despite his current predicament the interior of the building made him perk up.  

                                    "Woah. Nice digs." He said appreciatively. "You come here often?"

                                    A waitress was bustling past, staring at her phone not at all paying attention and slammed right into the goose who hissed in mild pain as a tray of nachos tipped out of  her hand right onto his head. Gloppy artificial cheese poured down his head, with tributaries of sour cream and guacamole throughout, a jalapeno gliding down the current of uncomfortably warm cheese right toward his eye as beef and black beans pitter pattered off his shoulders like greasy dandruff. 

                                    "Oh I'm so sorry sir!" She squeaked lifting the bowl off his head sending a downpour of tortilla chips over the rest of him, his hair now a fiesta bowl of questionable hygiene. 

                                    "'s fine." He said through clenched teeth. Swiping the hot pepper away from his eye just a moment too late as the burning started settling in. "'stotallyfine" he hissed. His hand reached out in his cheese and pepper blindness and grabbed Jacob's sleeve. "...booze. Booze now please." 

                                    Lead me seeing eye Mallard. Lead me to salvation.

                                    • DarkwingPsycho
                                      DarkwingPsycho

                                      Jacob took a step back to avoid the nacho onslaught, although a bit of cheese sauce got onto his shoe.  He raised a brow at the waitress.  "Now that nachos are on my friend here, drinks are on the house, right?"

                                      The waitress nodded emphatically.  "I'll talk to my manager!"

                                      He flashed her a boyish grin.  "Do that.  We'll be at the bar."

                                      She blushed and was gone.

                                      Jacob dutifully led his compatriot to the mirrored wall littered with multi-colored alcohol.  Once sat down, the elder mallard grabbed up a handful of napkins and started making an attempt to clean up Gladstone.

                                      "What'll it be, birthday boy?" he asked as the bartender came near.

                                      • Gladstone Gander
                                        Gladstone Gander

                                        Despite Jacob clearly trying to help, Gladstone squirmed like an ill tempered toddler as he tried to clean the appetizer off him.  Clearly someone was getting cranky.

                                        "Scotch. Bring the whole bottle. And a straw. Crazy."

                                        He traced looping lines in the air with his finger to illustrate his request.

                                        "May as well pay homage to this stupid day somehow." He grumbled and irritably grabbed the napkins from Jacob to scrape the remainder of the cheese off his face with before throwing them to the ground. "Just leave it. What's the point? I'll probably accidentally dive into a giant fondue pot in ten minutes anyway." 

                                        It's his birthday and he'll sulk if he wants to? 

                                        A brute of a man, ninety percent muscle, five percent bone, three percent secret collector of kitten figurines, and two percent brains was strolling by looking grim.  His path headed right toward that cheesy, slippery pile of napkins.  His pockets clinking with hidden kitteny joys that would surely not survive a fall. And whoever was responsible for that fall? Well they probably wouldn't survive that ninety percent muscle I was tellin' ya about. 

                                        "...what have you been up to lately Double O? Work any daring cases you can tell me about to distract me from my misery?"

                                        • DarkwingPsycho
                                          DarkwingPsycho

                                          "One crazy-strawed bottle o' scotch," the bartender declared, placing the drink in front of the gander.  "An' this one's on the house - fer the cheese.  Happy birthday, bub."

                                          Jacob just shrugged amicably at Gladstone's sour mood, then looked toward the bartender and ordered his usual.  The double bourbon plopped down on the countertop, and the elder mallard lifted the glass.  "Cheers.  May this day be over quickly and painlessly."

                                          He downed the bourbon and waved for a second.  "Well, lately I've been asked on a mysterious expedition.  I haven't yet heard back from the recruiter, but it's somewhere beneath the Venice.  Aside from that, a jaunt to Paris with some beautiful company.  What about you, Lucky?"

                                          • Gladstone Gander
                                            Gladstone Gander

                                            Gladstone wrapped his arms around the proffered bottle of birthday booze like it was a life preserver happened upon in a stormy sea. He immediately started drinking it. Knowing all too well how fleeting happiness was today of all days. When Jacob gave his abridged schedule of affairs (possibly literally the rascal ) Gladstone nodded along looking impressed. Until the question was turned around on him.

                                            "Uh. Honestly too much. Got stuck in some leiderhosen with witches, the first part being the more distressing of that scenario, met some deities, uh... had a little brainwashing adventure with special guest star Matthew Halden-" he paled suddenly at the thought of the ibex. His hands twisted on the neck of the bottle. "He's your friend right? How'd you do that? Every time he sees me it's like he wants to bash my head through a wall and leave it there. Maybe mount it? Put it over the mantle? And it's not me right? I'm a perfectly charming delightful person.  My head should stay firmly on the same side of the wall as the rest of me in my personal opinion. So what am I doing wrong? Anything? Everything? What do you do that makes him like you?" He rolled his eyes. "Other than everything. I'm sure everyone likes you." 

                                            Contact happened. Big bruiser's foot met cheesy napkin and the whole kit and caboodle went down accented by the tinkling of broken kitten figurines. There was a minor tremor. It startled several pigeons outside out of their sleep causing them to fly off to wreck drowsy havoc on car windshields city wide. Gladstone blinked and looked down at the dazed man. 

                                            "You okay buddy?" 

                                            A hand snapped out and grabbed him by the throat for a sound throttling in reply. Gladstone would not give up without a fight, no.  The bottle was hugged to his chest protectively, just let me have one niceeee thiiiing.

                                            • DarkwingPsycho
                                              DarkwingPsycho

                                              Jacob smirked at Gladstone's anxiety regarding the ibex and shrugged.  "Being myself, I suppose.  It's never been really difficult for me to collect allies.  Thank you."  This last bit said to the bartender, and he immediately swallowed the bourbon.  "I suspect it has more to do with your affections for Miss Teal than anything.  He's a rather protective sort, and I can't say I blame him.  Just give him time, lad.  He'll warm up to you in his own time."  He slid the empty glass back toward the bartender, then glanced back at his friend.  "In the meantime, just keep your head up and watch yourself.  That's all I can say."

                                              Jacob stood up from his stool, producing his SHUSH badge.  "I don't think you want to do that, friend.  Now, the staff can get you cleaned up and on your way, or you can leave here with more than a pocket full of broken ceramic."

                                              • Gladstone Gander
                                                Gladstone Gander

                                                SHUSH huh? Well somewhere in the depths of the misery that was pulverized pussy induced this rough and tumble renegade considered how much worse his day would get if he decided to try to strangle a SHUSH agent as well. He did this while still strangling the real offender, because he wasn't the 'quick thinking' kind of guy. Ultimately after several moments of serious thought he opted to release Gladstone who in turn lost his grip on his birthday bottle o'booze and it clunked heavily on the prone strangler's head, knocking him out cold. Gladstone rubbed his throat with a scowl at his attacker, then the bottle that was emptying it's contents on said assailant.  He cleared his throat and turned to Jacob.

                                                "What's a party without a little lighthearted strangulation? I think this might have been a bad idea. Revelry might need a rain check until I'm not a moving target for misfortune. I appreciate it though really.  Care to scout ahead to the door to see if there's any black cats or... loose and ravenous pet alligators lying in wait?"

                                                • DarkwingPsycho
                                                  DarkwingPsycho

                                                  Jacob also lamented the loss of the liquor as he stared disdainfully at the would-be strangler.  "Perhaps you're right," he said slowly.  It was a shame to leave the place so soon, but if this truly was the sort of early morning planned for them...  "We can resume this attempt tomorrow, perhaps, or the day after so you can recover."

                                                  He gave a light smirk.  Bodyguard duties never ended.  Dutifully he walked the path from bar to door, looking for anything that could potentially harm the gander.  He slid purses under tables, kicked away debris, made sure the rug was going to stay put and not wrinkle, looked that chairs were pushed in, and eyed the light fixtures to ascertain their securement.

                                                  Satisfied, he waved Gladstone forward after him.

                                                  • Gladstone Gander
                                                    Gladstone Gander

                                                    A very well thought out and well scouted path. Heads up thinking Jacob! Surely nothing could go wrong. 

                                                    Although three minutes later Gladstone was staggering out the front door covered in rainbow colored feathers, a bucket stuck on his head, a box of tissues crammed on his left foot and tripped over a stray black cat causing him to clang his bucket on the sidewalk. He was completely still for a few moments before he was sure he did not hear the signs of a leathery sewer dweller coming to chomp him in two and he pushed himself off the ground pulling the bucket off his head and giving Jacob a weary look.

                                                    "Well. I mean at least we're outside. And hopefully the worst is behind us. I mean what else could possibly go wrong in the course of the next few seconds? It's not like Negaduck is going to show up and offer to light up  birthday candles with a blowtorch at close range right?"

                                                    • Negaduck
                                                      Negaduck

                                                      Upon uttering those cursed words, a projectile came right at Gladstone's already abused face. Heavy and hurling through the air at bullet-like speeds, it was.. a jumbo sized iced frappuccino?

                                                      "Aww, how could I not get a drink for the birthday boy."

                                                      Well it wasn't a blowtorch, but it was Negaduck, high above the pair.

                                                      "Don't forget the cinnamon powder."

                                                      An ominous beeping, because he was of course sitting in the cabin of a tower crane, which he swung over the gander, and with more glee than strictly necessary released an entire dumpster load of said powder over his head.

                                                      How fortunate that cinnamon powder also happened to be flammable

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