"What the hell was that?" Negaduck ground out as he swooped onto their rooftop, his dark cape billowing out behind him.
This was the rooftop where their partnership had started.
The Second National Bank. Gosalyn had chosen it as a slight against Negaduck when they'd met up here the first time. She could have just as easily chosen the First National Bank, but no. The Second National made more sense for St. Canard's Public Enemy Number Two.
Not that Negaduck had noticed that she'd chosen the building out of spite.
Or, if he had, he hadn't said anything. But Gosalyn had been absurdly proud of herself for pulling one over on the Masked Menace at their first encounter.
It wasn't until their second meeting on the roof, after everything had changed between them because of their Duckburg case, that Gosalyn realized the Second National Bank was taller than the First National Bank. The Second National was, in fact, the tallest Bank in St. Canard with the most offices and the more important clients.
Okay, so her initial pettiness had come back to bite her. But Negaduck had also been a surprise in himself. With a deep capacity to trust but with such low self-esteem it was a wonder he was able to get out of bed in the morning.
So, the Second National Bank was really the perfect example of Gosalyn's initial prejudice and her eventual realizations. Because of this, it became their meeting place when they were in the Prime Universe.
She was still looking for a good place to meet in the Negaverse. Banks didn't exist, most of the rooftops were crumbling in on themselves, and they couldn't use Avian Way as a meet-up location during cases because of its personal ties to Negaduck. But nowhere else in the city held any significance for them.
There was the building where Gosalyn had been shot, but that was still too raw for both of them, even if a whole year had passed since the incident.
She suspected it would always be a little raw.
The Negaverse was a work in progress.
But they had the Second National in the meantime.
Gosalyn shrugged as Negaduck stalked toward her. "I called and you didn't answer."
"Because I was fighting with that pathetic excuse of a hero--"
"Fighting with?" Gosalyn interrupted, effectively halting his tirade of her father's qualities. "Dad will be so happy to hear he's been promoted from fighting against."
"You left me," Negaduck snarled, a dark feral sound that slid all the way down Gosalyn's spine.
And, okay, that's why he was so pissed.
Usually she'd just keep talking until he calmed down, but she didn't need to this time.
Because his claim wasn't true.
She'd never used logic with the Lord of the Negaverse before.
No time like the present.
"I didn't, though."
"That do-gooder was prepared with his gas gun and--" Negaduck blinked at her. "What? Yes, you did! I looked up and you'd disappeared. How is that not leaving?"
"Just because I disappear from your line of sight it doesn't mean that I left."
Negaduck cocked an eyebrow, suspicion reflected in his icy blue eyes as he crossed his arms over his chest. "If you didn't leave, then where did you go?"
"To disarm the silent alarm you and Dad had triggered when you both got too close to that sculpture."
Gosalyn threw her hands in the air. "Take your pick! It's not like it was a rare exhibit that had beefed up security because it was thousands of years old. Oh, wait…." She rolled her eyes, which seemed to calm Negaduck. Annoyance and irritation usually did.
"Still," Negaduck said, shaking his head and re-focusing on her, "you left the room."
"To help you," Gosalyn said around a sigh.
"You and the pilot left," Negaduck pointed out.
"Launchpad," Gosalyn corrected.
But, yeah, they had.
Darkwing and Negaduck had been fighting using their altered Kung Fu style that they both swore up and down they'd been taught. Gosalyn only claimed the fighting style was bogus because she'd tried to learn it herself. There was no rhyme or reason to any of it, but once she mentioned that, her father and Negaduck both -- separately -- scoffed at the idea that how they fought one another was less about strategy and more "by the seat of their pants."
Once the two Mallards were engaged in their maybe-made-up combat, Gosalyn had simply glanced at Launchpad. Without a word, the two had turned and walked out of the gallery doors. Gosalyn went to the security system near the entrance, making quick work of the silent alarm. Launchpad had gone out the front doors, walking down the sloping gardens to where the Thunderquack had been parked. Because even though Gosalyn was working at stopping the silent alarm, someone somewhere had probably been alerted. Leaving as soon as possible was the safest bet.
After disabling the alarm, Gosalyn had walked back to the traveling Egyptian exhibit, only to find the room now empty. The windows along the far wall had been opened and she'd seen the Thunderquack taking off into the skies. So, her father had probably climbed aboard with Launchpad. But where Negaduck had gone was anyone's guess.
Calling out, "Negaduck?" hadn't brought the villain out from wherever he was hiding, so Gosalyn had shrugged and sprinted toward the museum entrance to meet the Thunderquack. Once they were back at Darkwing Tower, Gosalyn had slipped away to the Second National and, sure enough, Negaduck had shown up.
This was why she wanted a safe meet up location in the Negaverse. For when cases didn't go as planned and they had to split up. They needed somewhere to meet after.
"Whatever his name is," Negaduck ranted, "you were both gone."
"We'd left to go--"
"Ah ha!" Negaduck exclaimed. He pointed a finger at her and was so like her father for a split second that Gosalyn had to blink and remind herself which Mallard she was with. "You admit that you left!"
Gosalyn glowered at him. "I walked out of the room--"
"You left," Negaduck reiterated, something in his gaze other than triumph.
Why was he so fixated on leaving? That specific terminology.
"You left me!"
"How is that not leaving?"
" Still, you left the room."
Was it because Negaduck had been expecting this? Had been waiting for the day when Gosalyn would leave?
That had to be it. Her brain tried to supply other explanations -- that he was obsessive, that he was trying to control her because he couldn't control the situation around him, that his paranoia was kicking in -- but she knew it boiled down to Negaduck's fear of abandonment.
He'd never say so. Maybe not even think it. But Gosalyn knew with everything in her that the fear was real and all-consuming.
And today, that fear had been realized. With a girl he had already decided to give a second chance to. It was so against his character to try again with a relationship; he must've been waiting for this to fail from the beginning.
And now, in his mind, it had.
Gosalyn had left.
Except she hadn't.
And she wouldn't.
Knowing this was one of those moments when everything changed, Gosalyn looked Negaduck dead in the eye.
"I'm not going to leave you," she said calmly.
"You did, though. You admit it?" Negaduck challenged, a smug look on his face.
"Negaduck." She reached out, gently taking the hand that had been pointing at her accusingly, and wrapped her fingers around his. "I'm not going to leave you."
There was a shift in his gaze, his expression changing to something like awe as he studied her.
It didn't stay, though.
Negaduck shook himself, tugging his hand back. "You can't know that." Despite his efforts to compose himself, Negaduck's voice shook just a little as he said it.
Gosalyn wanted to hug him, but there was no telling what would happen if she did that, so she just shrugged. "Maybe not. But I won't."
He continued to stare at her, reminding Gosalyn of a deer. But after a few moments, he seemed to come to a conclusion, his jaw tightening.
"So, you won't -- you won't leave me when we're on a case?"
And outside cases. In general. She would fight to get back to him, to stay at his side no matter what.
She wanted to say that, and it was right there in her beak, because this realization -- this sudden protectiveness -- was new to her, too, and she wanted to tell him all of that until he believed her….
But, instead, she smiled at him and nodded, saying, "Sure."
Negaduck's eyes scanned over her expression before he exhaled, his tension and vulnerability leaving with his breath. In the next moment, Negaduck was Negaduck again with annoyance in his eyes and a scowl pulling his beak down into a frown.
"How many silent alarms were there?" he asked.
"Fifteen at least."
"In that one room?"
"What part of 'rare exhibit that's thousands of years old' is confusing to you?" she wondered.
One day, she promised herself. One day Negaduck would know she was telling the truth.
That she wouldn't leave.