A smile still tugging at the corners of her beak, Gosalyn closed the front door behind her and walked out onto the porch, pulling her coat more securely around her. She breathed in the frigid air as she studied the splendor of the yard that stretched before her, colored lights and candy canes shining against the dark night.
When they'd first arrived here, Gosalyn had attempted to stifle her laughter at the sight of the yard decorations, but Launchpad and her father hadn't been as successful at keeping their thoughts to themselves.
"Whoa," Launchpad said as he shifted the car into park and killed the engine. "Those are some intense Christmas decorations."
"He likes Christmas," Gosalyn explained, her smile spreading as she studied the yard.
"No, no," her father said, shaking his head. "I like Christmas. This is… another level."
"He's passionate," Launchpad offered, glancing over at his friend.
Drake shrugged. "I was thinking more deranged, but you're not wrong, LP."
The house had been decorated with great care. A plastic Santa sat in his sleigh on the roof, plastic reindeer hooked up to the front. The Christmas lights were color coordinated with large colored bulbs lining the roof and white icicle lights cascading over the sides. The porch's railing had garland wrapped around it, and the trees in the yard were decorated with colored string lights. The yard was outlined with plastic glowing candy canes and sitting in the middle was an inflatable snowman, waving with one hand and holding his top hat atop his head with the other. A larger than life wreath had been hung over the garage, white lights and colored bulbs sitting in the branches.
It was organized, clean, and adorable. This homeowner clearly loved the holiday and had spent a great deal of time and effort to put it all together.
"Please be nice to my boyfriend's father," Gosalyn said, opening the car door.
"Give me some credit," Drake said as he opened the passenger door and climbed out. "I wasn't going to say any of that to his face."
"Dad," Gosalyn warned.
The front door opened, revealing Max and his father, Goofy. Gosalyn's stomach did that flipping over itself thing it always did when she saw Max. He caught her eye and smiled, her stomach doing several somersaults in a row, which was new, but in a good way.
Goofy loped down the yard-turned-winter-wonderland, but about half way down, slid on some ice and slipped and slid all the way to their car. He ended up toppling down in front of Gosalyn, snow scattering everywhere. Goofy shook his head and glanced up, smiling. She crouched down and grabbed ahold of his arm, helping him stand.
"It sure is nice to finally meet ya," Goofy said, giving her the biggest grin she'd ever seen on anyone ever.
Gosalyn smiled in return. "Same. Max talks about you all the time."
Goofy's eyes shone as they studied her face. "Yer even prettier than he said."
Gosalyn smiled, heat rising in her cheeks. Desperate to get the attention off of her, she motioned back to her family. "This is Launchpad, a family friend."
Goofy shook hands with Launchpad, both of them exchanging words of greeting.
Gosalyn then pointed to Drake. "And my father, Drake Mallard."
Drake walked around the car and stepped onto the sidewalk, shaking Goofy's hand. "Hello, Mr. … Goof was it?"
"How was your drive, Mr. Mallard?" Max asked, approaching the group. He nodded to Launchpad and Drake in greeting before wrapping an arm around Gosalyn.
"Long," Drake said. With a look from Gosalyn, he added, "But fine."
"Thanks fer comin' out all this way," Goofy said.
"I liked the drive," Launchpad confessed. "I've never been to Spoonerville before."
"What do you think so far?" Max asked.
"Seems quiet and peaceful." Launchpad smiled. "I liked all the decorations that were up downtown."
"Speakin' of decorations," Goofy said, motioning back to his house, "whaddya think?"
"It's very, uh… festive," Drake said.
As if on cue, one of the colored strands of lights from the roof fell, dangling off the edge and mixing with the white icicles.
"Oh, hold on," Goofy said, picking his way up the driveway and disappearing into the garage. The door rolled open a moment later, Goofy carrying out a ladder and a staple gun.
"Want some help?" Launchpad asked, moving to do just that, but Drake placed a hand on his sidekick's arm to halt his progress.
"Step aside, LP," Drake said, walking up the driveway. "Christmas lights take an expert hand. Allow me," he said to Goofy before scurrying up the ladder and atop the roof. He reached for the fallen light strand and brought it back up.
Goofy followed up the ladder, stretching to hand Drake the staple gun, but he missed a step and toppled sideways. He grabbed the Christmas lights before falling off the ladder completely, getting tangled in the colored strands as the ladder collapsed onto the lawn. Drake reeled backwards, trying to avoid the rogue power tool, and landed on his backside with the staple gun crashing beside him, sliding down and settling into the gutter.
Launchpad hurried over to the hectic scene, but Gosalyn and Max shook their heads smiling fondly at their fathers. Launchpad easily righted the ladder and reached up to get Goofy untangled. Once Goofy was free and back on his feet, Launchpad handed the fallen Christmas light strands to Drake, who had reclaimed the staple gun and was working on securing them better to the roof.
Gosalyn and Max, his arm still wrapped securely around her, wandered up the yard to join their families.
Everything back to rights, Drake descended the ladder as Launchpad held it in place and handed the staple gun back to Goofy.
"Yeh sure are an expert at hangin' them Christmas lights," Goofy said, studying the work. "Looks great!"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Drake said, jumping down and brushing snow off the sleeves of his coat. "Christmas decorating isn't for the feint of heart."
The same light strand that had fallen before fell again.
Max snorted as Gosalyn turned to her boyfriend and asked, "You got any electrical tape?"
"Sure do," Max said, taking the staple gun from his father and walking into the garage.
Gosalyn turned to the older generation of men. "Why don't you all go inside? Max and I got this."
"You sure?" Launchpad asked.
"I may be no expert," Gosalyn said, glancing at her father who rolled his eyes, "but I think I can get that strand to stay on the house."
"Well, holler if you need anythin'," Goofy said, smiling as he opened the front door and ushered Drake and Launchpad inside.
Gosalyn and Max hadn't needed help. The electrical tape had kept the lights from falling again and the two of them had been able to clean everything up with minimal fuss.
So how the kitchen had been completely covered in flour by the time they'd gotten inside was anyone's guess. Goofy and Launchpad were equally as dirty as the kitchen, with smudges of flour on their faces and smeared over their clothes, but they were both wearing smiles. Drake was less messy, somehow, but looked resigned.
Gosalyn was just glad they were all getting along.
When Max had offered to have them all over for dinner, she'd been wary to see how her father would react to these new surroundings, but he seemed to relax more and more as the night went on. He kept an eye on Max and Gosalyn, but he seemed to like Goofy well enough, even if some of the clumsy accidents caused the crime fighter to sigh or roll his eyes.
Launchpad and Goofy, though, were already acting like long time friends, laughing at the same jokes and telling stories about their families, much to everyone's chagrin. When Goofy had offered to show baby pictures of Max, Launchpad and Gosalyn had both shown interest while Max and Drake emphatically refused to see them.
Overall, it was a successful night.
The front door opened and Gosalyn glanced back to see Max slipping out onto the porch.
"Sorry about all that crazy," Max said, walking over to her with that adorable lopsided smirk on his face.
Gosalyn forgot about the cold as she turned to face him, feeling heat rise in her cheeks as he came closer. "That is not crazy."
Max's cocked an eyebrow as he reached her.
"No, really," Gosalyn insisted. "Villains trying to steal Christmas lights or grow their own mistletoe or replace a whole store with their own homemade toys, that's crazy. You're dad's just a little clumsy."
"A little?" Max asked.
Gosalyn smirked. "A lot clumsy. But he's very sweet."
He nodded. "I feel kind of weird talking about my dad so much. Shouldn't we talk about something else?"
"Like…?" Gosalyn pressed.
"Like… how non-crazy and non-clumsy I am?"
Gosalyn rolled her eyes. "Now you're fishing for compliments."
"Fishing is under-appreciated." Max took a step closer.
"Nothing that takes place outside is ever under-appreciated." She smiled, his body heat already warming her with how close he was.
"It's not so bad." He wrapped an arm around her waist, pulling her against him.
Gosalyn tilted her head to one side. "There's a reason people built homes. We aren't supposed to live outside. It's unnatural."
"It's called 'nature'. What's more natural?" His hand came up to caress her cheek.
"Indoor plumbing, central heating, frozen dinners…" Gosalyn buried her hands in his jacket, desperate to keep them warm.
"Frozen dinners? You're not really convincing me." His brown eyes were soft as he gazed down at her.
"I could say the same, mountain man." She fisted the material of his jacket and tugged him even closer.
"Maybe I can take you fishing sometime. Change your mind?" He dipped his head down and pressed his forehead to hers.
She smiled. "That's very ambitious of you."
He grinned, his mouth a breath away from hers. "I like a challenge."
She closed her eyes in anticipation, but in the next moment, a small cold object hit Max on the back of his skull, causing them both to stiffen and stand up straight.
"Ow," he muttered, bringing up a hand to massage his head as Gosalyn saw the remnants of what could only have been a snowball crumbling around his shoulders. She brushed the snow off, her eyes darting over Max's shoulder to eye the roof of the neighbor's -- Pete's, right? -- house. She didn't see anything that would confirm her suspicions one way or another, but she definitely saw some movement in the shadows, which caused her to roll her eyes.
"That's my crazy," she explained, returning her gaze to Max to make sure he hadn't been injured.
Max stopped massaging his head to look at her, his expression curious. "That was…?"
"Well, if that's the worst he'll do, I think I can handle myself," Max said, his smile back in place.
Gosalyn eyed him. "It's definitely not the worst he can do."
Max shrugged. "It's probably the worst he'll do to me, right? Since he knows you like me."
She considered this for a moment before nodding. Negaduck was starting to tolerate Drake and Launchpad because he knew how much they meant to her. Max could probably join that category. Eventually. After Negaduck had gotten used to him.
Max's eyes softened, the brown warm and inviting. "Then it's worth it."
Blushing, Gosalyn wound her arms around his neck and buried her fingers in his hair. Tugging him down, she said, "Good answer."
Max's light chuckle was swallowed into their kiss, Gosalyn keeping Max close, knowing Negaduck wouldn't try anything else with her in the line of fire.
The thought of Max willing to stand up and fight for her -- to the Lord of the Negaverse no less -- chased away the last of the lingering cold.