Kelly Starling grinned as the cameras turned to her. The infamous morning talk show host was more or less what Gosalyn had been expecting: shiny hair, manicured nails, a perfectly fitted dress with stiletto heels, and someone who giggled and flipped her hair. A lot.
If she survived this interview, Gosalyn was going to be having words with Max. She understood needing good PR, especially since she was officially partnered with McDuck Industries, not only as a vigilante keeping St. Canard safe, but as Scrooge's last resort rescue for his legendary adventures.
But a morning talk show with Kelly Starling? There had to be a line somewhere, and Gosalyn had just found it.
"My first guest this morning is someone that most of you have heard about. She's the legendary up and coming hero who's partnered with Darkwing Duck and has officially signed on to partner with McDuck Industries. Please give a warm welcome to Quiverwing Quack."
One of the Stage Managers signaled the cue to Gosalyn and she walked onto the stage, blinking under the blinding studio lights and disoriented from the roar of the crowd.
Seriously? Who was that happy this early in the morning? Until today, Gosalyn didn't know this time of day even existed as her schedule was aligned with nighttime hours.
She stepped onto the stage and shook Kelly Starling's hand. Kelly grinned and pulled Gosalyn forward, pressing a kiss on her cheek.
Gosalyn was not doing this talk show thing ever again.
The two settled into the stylish and terribly uncomfortable chairs as the audience's applause died down.
Kelly turned to Gosalyn with a blinding smile, her teeth so white they were probably emitting light. "Hi, Quiverwing, how are you?"
"Good," Gosalyn said, remembering she needed to smile and look completely at ease even though all her instincts were yelling at her to leave.
"Before we dive into anything else, I just wanna say I love your outfit."
Gosalyn glanced down at herself in confusion. "My costume?"
"Yes! It's super chic. I love that it's tapered at the waist."
Gosalyn studied her jumpsuit. She was missing her quiver and bow, so it was little more than the Kevlar and spandex body suit. It was fairly nondescript; she could be mistaken for anyone who wore jumpsuits for their job. Like a house painter. Or a prisoner. Glancing back up at Kelly, Gosalyn said, "I didn't design it. I just wanted to be able to move in it."
"Do you have a suit designer like Eda Mode in the Incredibles?" Kelly asked, eyes glinting at the thought.
Gosalyn was about to say no when she paused, brow furrowing as she considered it. "I guess I kind of do."
"How glamorous!" Kelly gushed, crossing one leg over the other and leaning forward. "Does the designer work for Mr. McDuck, too?"
"No, he's self-employed."
"Well, I'm gonna get his name from you after the show because honestly?" She leaned back and surveyed Gosalyn. "I'm screaming."
"He doesn't really design regular clothes." No, Tony Mallard of the Duckvengers universe decidedly was NOT a fashion designer. He'd been more distracted by the engineering of Gosalyn's suit than how it looked; the ratio of Kevlar to spandex, the flexibility of it, giving her enough range of motion, that sort of thing. He'd give the same amount of detailed attention to standard fashion design if given the opportunity, but he was destined for bigger and better things. Like saving his universe from impending threats.
Kelly leaned forward, placing a hand on Gosalyn's knee. "Honey, that's okay! I'll just become a superhero and then I'll have to wear one of these fabulous costumes."
The audience cheered, whistling and hollering for Kelly's claim to super heroism. She turned toward them, thankfully taking her hand from Gosalyn's knee, and said things like, "Oh, stop! You guys are too much! Seriously? Come on!" but she was smiling the whole time, clearly enjoying the attention.
Gosalyn was ready to get up, thank Kelly for her time, and leave. Just walk out of the whole interview.
But she stayed put. Because she'd promised Max.
He'd be hearing all about how this had been the worst -- and most difficult -- thing she'd ever done in her entire life, but she'd see it through.
As the audience settled back down, Kelly turned her gleaming grin back towards Gosalyn.
"So, Scrooge McDuck. What's he like?"
Relieved with this new line of questions, Gosalyn relaxed slightly into her chair. "He's very fair. He has a reputation of being difficult and having high expectations, but he's a good boss."
"I've heard he's a bit of a penny pincher," Kelly said, one of her eyebrows twitching upward.
Gosalyn shrugged. "He came to America with nothing. If I was in his spats, I'd protect everything I'd earned, too."
"We should invite him on the show!" Kelly said, facing the audience again, who all cheered. "Right? Learn about where Scrooge came from and all about his business practices. Not that this," she looked at Gosalyn, "isn't a great interview itself, but, I mean, Scrooge McDuck. Kenny, put him on my list right after that Max Goof."
"Max?" Gosalyn asked, her attention immediately snared at the mention of her boyfriend.
"He's been the one we've been in contact with for your interview and he's absolutely adorable. Just look at him! HELLO!" A photo of Max was superimposed on the LED wall behind Kelly and Gosalyn. Whistles and cat calls came from the audience before Max's photo dissolved into the Live with Kelly Starling show logo. "Have you seen him around the office?" she asked.
Gosalyn shrugged. "Sometimes."
Kelly pouted. "Only sometimes?"
Gosalyn sat up a little straighter. "It's a big company. And I'm usually out on Mr. McDuck's adventures, so I don't spend time where Max would be."
Kelly's expression changed to predatory as she asked, "Oh, really?"
Another picture appeared on the LED wall, this one of Max and Gosalyn, dressed as Quiverwing Quack, kissing.
How anyone had gotten that photo was beyond Gosalyn; it had been such a fast thing, Gosalyn running past a coffee shop that Max had happened to be in.
Gosalyn had been following in the wake of Bushroot's latest plant-turned-zombie-monster. Darkwing and Launchpad were supposed to come in from the front, the three of them capturing the creature, but no luck so far. Running down another destroyed street, she was startled to see Max in the half-demolished coffee shop. Gosalyn stopped her pursuit and jogged over to him.
He was already half-way to her, asking, "You good?"
"Oh, you know." She waved to the rampaging plant monster. "Living the dream. You okay?"
"All good." He leaned down and kissed her briefly. "For luck."
Gosalyn grinned. "I'm gonna need it the way this day is going." Another boom of some building being smashed caught Gosalyn's attention and Max chuckled.
"I'll see you tonight," he said as she waved to him and took off down the street again.
"I might be late!" She called over her shoulder before she turned the corner down the street where the plant zombie was tearing into a hardware store.
The audience whistled again, seeming to approve of Gosalyn and Max being together.
Kelly, however, seemed to have a different motive because her grin was feral. "There are a couple of photos of you and Max around St. Canard. But he's dating someone else, isn't he?"
The audience ooh-ed as a photo montage started playing on the LED wall.
Max walking down the street with a grin on his face and his hand entwined with Gosalyn's. Gosalyn as herself, not as Quiverwing Quack.
Max and Gosalyn walking out of a restaurant, smiling at one another as a cab pulled up to the curb to take them home.
Max and Quiverwing hugging.
Max and Gosalyn sitting in a car with Drake and Launchpad in the front seats.
Max and Quiverwing high-fiving and grinning at one another like idiots.
More photos came up, and in every one of them, Max was looking at her with the same hopeless expression of love on his face regardless if she was in costume or not. Which was one of the reasons Gosalyn loved Max so much; he treated her the same as a hero and as herself.
Understanding what Kelly was getting at, and that this needless drama was just to boost her views, Gosalyn stared the TV host down. "He's not cheating."
"Technically, you both are." Kelly leaned forward, eyes sharp and cheesy smile gone. The audience was deathly silent. "Do you know the girl he's dating?"
"I do know who she is," Gosalyn said.
"Do you have any idea what you're doing to her? How you're ruining her life every time you see Max?"
"He's not cheating."
"You can keep saying it, but we can all see the truth now." Kelly turned back to the LED wall, watching the slideshow of photos.
Gosalyn didn't realize she was so important as to have photos taken of her daily life. She suspected were from the show since Kelly had such a huge arsenal and all taken within the last few weeks.
Kelly glanced back at Gosalyn, disdain on her face. "Now the whole city knows about you two. So does Scrooge McDuck. I don't think you'll be keeping your job for long."
Gosalyn didn't care about her job. Scrooge, she was sure, already knew she was both Quiverwing and Gosalyn Mallard. He was pretty sharp.
But Goofy was probably watching this, too. And Gosalyn did care about that. Because he only knew Gosalyn as Gosalyn, not as Quiverwing. She didn't want him to think, for even a moment, that Max was seeing anyone on the side. That he would ever do anything to hurt Gosalyn, or sink to that level.
Inhaling deeply, her mind made up, Gosalyn squared her shoulders. "Max isn't cheating on anyone. I am Gosalyn Mallard."
A few members of the audience gasped and Kelly's jaw dropped. "Are you revealing your secret identity to us today?" she asked, almost drooling with the thought of it.
Gosalyn shrugged as if she hadn't just revealed one of her biggest kept secrets, and reached up to untie her mask. "I mean, I don't try to hide my hair from one persona to another. I'm surprised that no one else caught on." Loosening the knot, Gosalyn peeled the mask from her face and dropped it in her lap.
"So, Max knows about your double life?" Kelly asked.
"Of course he does. He would never do anything like that," Gosalyn said, pointing to the screen where it was split between a photo of Gosalyn and Max and Quiverwing and Max.
Kelly turned to the cameras, grinning like Christmas had come early. "We're going to take a short break, but when we come back, I'll be talking with Quiverwing Quack, or Gosalyn Mallard, about crimefighting and what it's like to live a double life. Stick around."
Gosalyn leaned back in the chair as the cameras cut their feed.
Kelly turned to Gosalyn as hair and makeup people raced up to the stage. "Sorry about that whole 'you and Max are cheating on some poor girl' thing. I'm gonna be honest, I wasn't super psyched about this interview today, and I just wanted to spice things up. But revealing your secret identity was such a fun twist! We'll definitely be trending now." She giggled before turning to the crew and barking, "Mike, I need cue cards with different questions!"
Gosalyn batted the makeup person away when they reached out with a brush towards her face.
Gosalyn didn't care about the views she was going to earn Kelly Starling. She didn't care that the whole internet would now have so many more opinions on her, or that she'd just made herself more of a target to villains. She didn't care what came of her job with Scrooge, or of her crime fighting career.
All she cared about, right now, was that Max's reputation had been saved.
And she was a little worried about what her father and Negaduck would do once they found out she'd revealed her secret identity to the whole world.
Do I look lonely? I see the shadows on my face
People have told me I don't look the same
Maybe I lost weight
I'm playing hooky with the best of the best
Put my heart on my chest so that you can see it too
"When I thought about our first weekend away together," Gosalyn said, setting her bag down by the front door and looking up at Max, "I was not expecting this."
"Well, I wasn't expecting you to reveal your secret identity to the whole world on cable television, young lady, but here we are!" Darkwing said. He disappeared into the other bedroom, gas gun held aloft as he checked the cabin for intruders.
Max grinned as he caught Gosalyn's eye. "We'll just have to go away another weekend."
"Like our schedules are ever gonna align like this again," Gosalyn said with a sigh.
Max wrapped an arm around her shoulders and gently pulled her into his chest. "We'll find time."
The front door opened behind them, Max and Gosalyn stepping aside to make room for the newcomer.
Darkwing rolled out of the bedroom, sprang up into a defensive position, and aimed his gas gun at the door.
"Heya, DW," Launchpad said, unfazed by the hero aiming his weapon at him, and stomping snow off his boots. "Parked the Thunderquack behind the cabin. You were right, the trees hide it pretty well." He set a few suitcases down before unlacing his boots.
"Launchpad," Darkwing said around a sigh, glaring at his sidekick as he dropped his gas gun to his side, "what does 'don't come inside until I've given the all clear' mean to you?"
"I waited outside as long as I could, DW," Launchpad offered, glancing up at the hero. "I can't feel my toes anymore."
"Being cold doesn't matter when our safety could be compromised!" Darkwing scoffed.
"It's been twenty minutes," Gosalyn said, glaring at her father. "And Launhpad's been outside the whole time."
"It's a two bedroom cabin, sir," Max offered. "You've gone through each room three times."
Darkwing shifted his weight from one foot to the other as he slowly tucked his gas gun away. "I guess the coast is clear. But don't get too comfortable! Villains could be lurking anywhere."
"I don't think they'd try anything with Gosalyn here." Max smiled down at her. Darkwing cleared his throat and Max immediately sobered and glanced up at the mallard. "And you, sir. They'd never try to get the drop on you."
Darkwing sighed dramatically. "If only that were true. Gos, put your stuff in this room with mine. LP, you and Max can take--"
"Woah, hold on," Gosalyn said. "This whole trip was for me and Max to have a weekend together."
"And you decided to tell the whole world what your real name was," Darkwing said as he crossed his arms over his chest. "You're bunking with me, young lady, and that's not up for debate." He signaled Launchhpad, who took their suitcases up to the rooms, Darkwing giving instructions about how to set up the alarms he'd packed around the cabin.
Gosalyn rolled her eyes and picked up her suitcase. She glanced at Max, saying, "Really not what I had in mind."
Max chuckled, his eyes soft and his smile understanding. "We can still do all the activities we scheduled," he pointed out, threading their fingers together. "I still plan on impressing you with my winter sportsman abilities, after all."
Gosalyn smiled, the irritation of having her father and Launchpad tag along on their romantic weekend melting away. "I'm already pretty impressed with your ice skating."
"Well now we can ski and snowboard, and I'm even better at those, so. Get ready to have your socks blown off."
"I think it's knocked off," Gosalyn said.
"Either way, say goodbye to your socks." Max grinned as he hauled his suitcase up the stairs and into the room he and Launchpad were sharing.
Gosalyn shook her head and followed Max.
I'm cutting my mind off
Feels like my heart is going to burst
Alone at a table for two and I just want to be served
And when you think of me
Am I the best you've ever had?
Share one more drink with me, smile even though you're sad
Gosalyn stumbled out into the living room, rubbing her eyes in the hopes that they would focus in the early morning light. She'd forgotten what a bed hog her father could be. And that he liked to keep the blankets to himself. She'd engaged in an epic battle of tug-of-war all night, trying desperately to pull some of the sheets around her while balancing precariously on the edge of the mattress. She'd managed to stay on the bed the whole night long, but hadn't kept ahold of the blankets. Once the sun started coming up, she gave up the fight and made her way into the living room.
Where Max was sitting on the couch nursing a mug of coffee. He glanced around to her as the floorboards creaked under her weight.
"Morning," he said, smiling softly.
"Is that coffee?" she asked, all but stumbling down the stairs into the living room and snatching the mug out of Max's hand. Settling down next to him on the couch, Gosalyn drank down half the coffee before glancing up at him. "How'd you sleep?"
"Launchpad's a snorer," Max said simply, taking his mug from Gosalyn's hands and swallowing a mouthful of coffee before handing it back to her. "I mean, Dad is, too, but I forgot how rough it could be sleeping in the same room as one."
Gosalyn curled her legs underneath her and relaxed against Max fully. "Sorry I revealed my secret identity to the world on network television which made my dad and his sidekick come on our weekend away with us."
Max snorted a laugh and wrapped an arm around Gosalyn, pulling her closer. "It's okay. Kelly Starling was looking for drama. If it hadn't been our relationship, she would have found something else to latch onto and exploit."
Gosalyn drank down more coffee. "I did tell you I'm not doing anymore TV interviews, right?"
"A couple hundred times." Max took the coffee mug and swallowed some himself. "I think everyone agrees with you."
"I had everything under control until she brought you into the mix." Gosalyn took the now empty mug and leaned forward, setting it on the coffee table before returning to Max's arms.
"She's known for that stuff, though." Max rested his head atop hers. "I should have known better before agreeing to an interview."
"I was fine, but I didn't want your reputation ruined, you know? People thinking you were having an affair."
"I don't care what other people think about me. But I appreciate you." Max kissed the top of her head.
Gosalyn met Max's gaze. "I am sorry. For all of this."
He smiled, pushing her bangs out of her eyes. "It's fine. Really. There are worse things."
Gosalyn grinned up at him.
The tinkling of broken glass was the only warning she got.
Grabbing Max, she vaulted over the sofa, dragging him with her. They landed on the ground and Gosalyn curled around Max, her hands in the back of his neck and his head tucked under her beak, as the living room exploded.
When the tremors stopped and the smoke cleared, Gosalyn leaned back, eyes raking over him. "You okay?"
Max looked up at her, his hands tight on her waist. "I think so. You?"
Gosalyn nodded and smiled at him, running a hand through his hair. "I guess Dad wasn't totally out of line thinking danger could be lurking anywhere. Don't tell him I said that."
Max grinned but held onto her all the tighter.
A door banged open, Darkwing's panicked tone calling, "Gosalyn!"
Detangling herself from Max, Gosalyn sat up and looked at her father. He sagged against the doorframe as they made eye contact and she grinned ruefully. "Admit it, it's nice to call me by my real name in the field," she said, standing and pulling Max up alongside her.
"That's not the lesson you should be taking away from this!" Darkwing said, pointing a finger at her.
"I'll take that as agreement."
Darkwing rolled his eyes and walked to the second bedroom, pounding on the door until Launchpad opened it, sleepy-eyed and yawning.
"Hey, DW. What'd I miss?"
"Get the Thunderquack ready, LP. There are evildoers to thwart."
Another explosion from outside rocked the cabin. Gosalyn steadied Max as Launchpad and Darkwing disappeared into their respective rooms to change into their clothes.
Max glanced down at Gosalyn. "Does this mean I'll get to see you fight?"
She shrugged. "Maybe. But you've seen me fight before."
"Against Huey, Dewey, and Louie at Christmas. It's not like they were much competition for you."
Gosalyn smiled. "You're not wrong. Listen, you have to do exactly what I say through all of this. No matter how crazy it sounds, or even if tell you to hide somewhere and leave me behind, you have to do it."
Max studied her for a moment before he crossed his heart.
And the front door burst open.
Darkwing and Launchpad sprang from their rooms as Gosalyn stepped in front of Max, dropping into a fighting stance.
Which she stepped out of a moment later.
"Negaduck?" she said.
"You're behind this?" Darkwing asked.
Negaduck sighed heavily and glanced at Gosalyn. "You had to bring Dipwing along?"
"Hey!" Darkwing exclaimed.
"He came along on his own," Gosalyn said waving her hand dismissively as her father squawked his disapproval. "Were you following me?" she asked, leveling Negaduck with a look of disapproval.
"After you revealed your secret identity to the damn world, I haven't been following you. I've been following F.O.W.L.." He gestured outside. "They've been on your tail since the broadcast."
Gosalyn glanced toward the window where the grenade had crashed through then back to Negaduck. "Really?"
Negaduck aimed a sharp glare at her. "No, this is my cover story for getting caught stalking you." Negaduck shook his head as Max snickered.
"We'll talk about your not so secret identity later," Negaduck said. "But right now, you need to leave."
"So, you're not behind this?" Launchpad asked.
Negaduck stared at Launchpad before looking back to Gosalyn. "Take Max and get out of here."
Gosalyn reached back for Max, whose hand she found easily. "Where are we going?"
"F.O.W.L.'s using an old base at the top of the mountain," Negaduck explained, rifling through the closet by the front door. He hauled out a snowboard and a parka, thrusting both at Max, who caught them easily. "You two head down to the ranger cabin at the bottom of the mountain, and lock yourselves in. I'll handle them." He sent a dark look out the window.
"Excuse me, you'll handle F.O.W.L.?" Darkwing asked.
"I think that's what I said," Negaduck snapped, glaring at Darkwing.
"Lighten up, Dad," Gosalyn said, shoving Max toward the front door. "I'll help Negaduck."
"Like hell you will," Negaduck said.
Gosalyn turned back to face him. "But--"
Negaduck rounded on her, a determined expression on his face. "You have done enough," he snarled. "Get your boyfriend to a safe place until I take care of this."
"It's like I'm invisible," Darkwing lamented, shaking his head.
"Listen, I'm not completely useless," Max argued.
Negaduck glanced at him, gaze cool. "What fighting styles do you know?"
Max hesitated before propping the snowboard against the wall and pulling on the coat. "You know, that ranger's cabin sounds great."
Negaduck rolled his eyes and placed his hands on Gosalyn's shoulders, steering her towards the front door. "Down the mountain. Now."
"I'm not going to leave you by yourself!" Gosalyn insisted, twisting free of Negaduck's grasp and glaring at him.
"Yes, you are!" he thundered, taking a step closer as if proximity to his anger would scare her.
Maybe that would have worked a few years ago. But Gosalyn could see the concern reflected in his blue eyes and knew his anger was only just concealing his fear.
"Don't worry, Gos," Darkwing said, all but leaping between them. "Launchpad and I will help him."
"You'll what?" Negaduck demanded, snapping his head toward Darkwing.
Darkwing's face screwed up in discomfort. "That's not a phrase I'd ever thought I'd say."
Gosalyn shifted her weight, looking over at her father. "You two aren't going to just argue the whole time?"
"Oh, we'll argue. But I'll still help." Darkwing stood straighter and smiled confidently. He sobered after a moment and stepped forward, brushing Gosalyn's bangs back. "If it means keeping you safe, I'll team up with anyone. Even Negaduck."
Negaduck groaned and threw his hands up in the air, stalking away.
Gosalyn threw her arms around her father. "Please be careful." She buried her face into his shoulder before murmuring, "And I'm sorry. If I'd kept my identity a secret…."
Darkwing squeezed her. "We can't think about that now, Gos. I'm just glad that I am here to keep you safe." He leaned back and smiled at her. "We'll get dangerous, you and Max go down to the cabin." Running his fingers over her cheek, he assured, "We'll be fine. Don't you worry."
Gosalyn studied his face for a moment before she nodded and turned to Launchpad, who swept her up into an all-encompassing embrace.
"I'll make sure they don't kill each other," he said quietly, just loud enough for her to hear. Gosalyn smiled and Launchpad set her back down, flashing her a thumbs up.
Negaduck walked back over to the group with Gosalyn's bow and quiver in one hand and a coat in the other. He held out her coat. "You're wasting time."
Gosalyn zipped up the coat before pulling Negaduck into a hug. "Be careful," she warned, holding on perhaps a little too tightly. "I won't have your back out there."
Negaduck, who had been standing straight as a board when Gosalyn hugged him, suddenly deflated and pulled her close. "It'll be okay. I'll have Dopewing and Launchbay with me. Not sure if that's gonna help, but they'll be there."
"Please don't kill them." Gosalyn stepped back and studied his face.
Negaduck squeezed her hand before handing over her weapons. "Don't let anyone near the cabin unless it's Dorkwing or Lilypad."
Gosalyn frowned. "What about you?"
"I'm making sure these assholes get back to the Negaverse. Whatever's left of them."
Buckling her quiver on, Gosalyn said, "But what if you guys need help?"
"Stay in there, Gosalyn." Darkwing gave her a stern look. "No one comes near the cabin except us. Got it?"
She studied the faces of her father, Launchpad, and Negaduck, none of them brooking any argument. After a moment, she sighed. "Fine."
Gosalyn turned and grabbed Max's hand before leading him out the door.
Max grinned once they were outside. "What I'd give to see that team up."
"Don't tempt me," Gosalyn muttered, glancing around to see if the coast was clear. She grabbed her bow and strung it, nodding at the snowboard. "Think you can balance both of us on there?"
Max surveyed the board. "Probably."
"You have to steer," she said, reaching back for an arrow. "I might need to pick off some strays."
"Officially the best day of my life," Max said, strapping his feet onto the snowboard.
Gosalyn chuckled, keeping her eyes on the landscape for any movement from the surrounding trees. This place was fairly remote, ideal for the weekend she and Max had planned when they would have slept in late, went out to partake in winter sports, and then spend their nights in front of a roaring fire. Who knew F.O.W.L. had a base right up the mountain? It was just her luck, vacationing in the same spot a group of villains had decided would work great for a hideout.
The lack of movement when she knew Eggmen were wandering through the trees put Gosalyn on edge and she gripped her bow all the tighter.
Once Max had the snowboard secured and had righted himself onto the snow, Gosalyn quickly climbed on, her back pressed to his chest. She placed one of her feet in between Max's and the other in front, an arrow nocked and ready. Max gripped her close, hands on her hips, as they started to descend the mountain.
Morning sunlight bounced off the snow, making it almost too blinding to see much of anything, but Gosalyn unfocused her eyes, waiting to catch movement rather than hunt for Eggman.
But she wouldn't find any in front of them.
They'd gotten enough of a head start.
Now they were being chased.
The dull claps of gunshots echoed behind them and Max started swerving, taking long curves back and forth to make them a harder target to hit.
Gosalyn glanced backwards, easily finding the Eggmenn's yellow uniforms, all of them riding snowmobiles down the mountain.
Nothing a little exploding arrow couldn't fix.
If she was facing the right way.
"Think you can turn us around?" she asked.
"What do you mean?" Max asked, voice raised to be heard over the whistling wind.
"I need to face behind us," she explained, glancing over her shoulder. The Eggmen were gaining. She'd never wished to be ambidextrous more than in this moment.
"We talking a backside 180?" Max asked.
"Whatever gets me facing the other way," Gosalyn said.
Max wrapped his arms around Gosalyn's waist, his grip tighter than is had been before. "Are you impressed by my knowledgeable lingo?"
Gosalyn grinned ruefully and leaned back into his embrace to show she was ready. "I'll be impressed when you flip us around."
Max leaned back, arms like steel around her. "I'm telling you. Your socks are gonna get knocked off."
With that, he leaped up, spinning them 180 degrees midair. Gosalyn drew back the arrow as they turned, aiming and firing before they landed back on the snowy mountainside.
The front F.O.W.L. snowmobile went up in a fiery explosion. The others behind it veered off course, running into the trees or into groupings of rocks. Yells from the Eggmen were almost as loud as the sound of crashing machinery.
Max chanced a glance behind them as Gosalyn grabbed another arrow and nocked it. "That's so cool."
"Well, you impressed me with your moves," Gosalyn said.
Max glanced down and caught her eye. "Yeah?"
"My socks would be knocked off. If I'd put any on this morning."
He grinned before something hit them, knocking them off course. They tumbled down the mountain, Max losing his grip on Gosalyn as he crashed head over feet into the snow.
Gosalyn got her feet back under her in time to see an Eggman grab Max and pin him to the ground.
"You have nice moves," the Eggman grunted.
"Sock-knocking-off nice?" Max asked, clearly unconcerned about being restrained by a villainous henchman.
The Eggman cocked his head to the side in confusion before growling, "Don't try anything funny, now."
Max snorted. "My dude, I am not the one you should be worried about."
The next moment, Gosalyn tackled the Eggman.
Kicking her feet up, she swung around the henchman and sat on his chest once he was on the ground, aiming an arrow at his face. "He's under my protection," Gosalyn said, nodding over to Max. "You touch him, you even look at him again, you're gonna deal with me. Got that?"
The Eggman struggled for his freedom, but Gosalyn moved her legs to grip his torso tighter and touched the top of the arrow to the fleshy part of his neck. "Got that?" she repeated.
This time, the Eggman nodded, eyes locked on Gosalyn.
She relaxed her hold on the arrow and reached down, grabbing the neckline of the Eggman's uniform. Yanking his face closer to hers, she said, "You go back to F.O.W.L. and tell your little high command to not cross Gosalyn Mallard again."
Once Gosalyn had shifted off of him, the Eggman was scrambling back up the mountain, occasionally looking back down at Gosalyn, who kept her arrow trained on him until he disappeared into the tree line.
Leaping to her feet, Gosalyn jogged over to Max and pulled him to standing. "Are you okay?" she asked, eyes studying his face.
"Can I kiss you?" he blurted out.
Gosalyn blinked, caught off guard. "What?"
"I know we're on the run or whatever, but that was one of the hottest things I've ever seen," he said, pointing to where the Eggman had disappeared.
She grinned and stepped closer to him. "You did really well."
"Yeah, sure, whatever. Did you see you?" He reached for Gosalyn and pulled her close.
Shaking her head, Gosalyn said, "We're still on the battlefield."
"You'll protect me," he said with such surety that Gosalyn couldn't stop herself from surging up and kissing him. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders as one of his hands made its way up to cradle the back of her head.
"You know I always will, right?" Gosalyn said, pressing small kisses to his cheek when they came up for air. "Keep you safe."
Max grinned and met her eyes. "Yeah. I know." He bent his head and kissed her again.
Just before Gosalyn could really melt into his arms, an explosion rocked the mountain. The couple separated, glancing up to where the F.O.W.L. headquarters used to be, now a mess of flame, smoke, and ash.
Glancing up to meet Max's eyes, she suggested, "Ranger's cabin?"
"Ranger's cabin," he agreed, rearranging her on his snowboard and continuing their descent down the mountain.
"You know," Max said, "once we get there, I can make us breakfast."
"Thank goodness. Your cooking is the real reason I've stayed with you," Gosalyn said, still keeping an eye behind them with an arrow at the ready. But with the hideout blown to smithereens, she didn't think she had much more to worry about.
"I knew it," Max said, Gosalyn able to hear his smile in his voice.
The death of a bachelor
Letting the water fall
The death of a bachelor
Seems so fitting for
Happily ever after
How could I ask for more?
A lifetime of laughter at the expense
Of the death of a bachelor