Upon picking up Boyd from the Drakes for the week, Gyro had braced himself, gently, for the overly exuberant info-dump he was sure to be subjected to. Not that he was complaining. It just was a lot of excitement out of the android child, and he was certain that the Drakes were experiencing the same whenever Boyd returned from his week of custody with the scientist.
Gyro hoped he didn’t look disinterested while Boyd rambled happily about his week. He just naturally had a ‘resting-bitch-face’ while focused on driving. He tried to catch every word the kid was saying, but ultimately it was every two or three, so he made up for it by giving a hum or soft exclamation every so often.
“-And then at school we’ve started discussing heroes,” Boyd dropped cheerfully.
“Wait you go to school now?” Gyro was able to ask at a stop sign.
“For the last two months since the Drakes enrolled me.” Boyd smiled. “I built that volcano for science class in your lab, remember?.”
“Ah right.” Gyro felt slightly moronic at not remembering what should be such an obvious detail. “So...heroes, you say?”
“Yup,” the little boy chirped. “We’ve been going over all kinds of heroes, and next week for parents day, we have to dress up as our biggest heroes.”
“Oh?” Gyro hummed, wincing as his dinosaur of a car wheezed painfully from him parking at the Money Bin. “Do you have anything in mind?”
“Well, I was going to see what other kids in the class were doing,” Boyd admitted, wanting to fit in, “but I think most of them want to dress up as wrestlers or firemen.”
“Interesting choices,” Gyro snorted.
Boyd nodded. “I don’t think I want to dress as either of those. They’re nice, but they're not my biggest heroes.”
They stepped into the elevator, descending down to the lab, or as Gyro considered it, his second home. “So what is?” he asked, genuinely curious. “Or who?”
The android only grinned. “I actually already have my idea.”
Before Gyro could ask him to elaborate, the elevator had stopped prematurely, and they were joined in the tiny booth by the hulking metal form of Gizmoduck.
“Eesh, you look like you had fun today,” Gyro grimaced as he surveyed the damage to the suit. “How many projectiles did you get struck with?”
“Far too many to count,” the duck groaned, visibly sounding exhausted, “but not to worry! I apprehended the criminals and nobody got hurt.”
“Wow!” Boyd beamed. “How many bad guys did you beat up?”
“If by ‘beat up’ you mean ‘delivered pie-flavored justice’, I’d reckon about ten Beagle Boys, two masked villains, and I think Flintheart Glomgold having an identity crisis again,” Gizmoduck listed off, shifting about as Gyro examined every part of the suit from where he stood.
“Well, I’ll have to buff out the scratches and dents, but otherwise, it seems the suit is operable,” Gyro surmised. “I’ll get to work on that right away. Boyd, you don’t mind playing quietly for a bit, do you?”
“Not at all, Dr. Gearloose!” Boyd smiled, then turned his attention to Gizmoduck as the elevator opened. “I want to tell Gizmoduck all about what we’re doing at school!”
Fenton laughed awkwardly as he decommissioned the suit and stumbled to his desk. “I’m all ears... and bruises.”
Gyro gave no other response as he began to gather the pieces of armor, hauling them onto his workbench. He remained relatively buried in his work for several minutes, all other noises of the lab drowned out by the saws and welding and hammering (and tinnitus), but during a brief break from the tools, Gyro was able to catch some hint of a conversation the other two inhabitants in the lab were having.
“So, would you be able to help me for my presentation next week?”
“Of course! This sounds like a great idea,” Fenton answered Boyd with an equal amount of cheer.
“You’re amazing Dr. Cabrera!”
The illuminating grin Boyd gave the duck mirrored the same smile he gave to Gyro when discussing ideas for heroes, and Gyro instantly suspected Boyd’s idea. He almost wanted to slap himself for not having guessed it sooner. It was almost obvious. Almost half of Boyd’s weeks with Gyro were spent in the lab, in the company of Cabrera, who in turn spent half of his job playing superhero. There was no question that the duck’s daring-do optimism for helping others and protecting the city was more than a little influential on the kid. Gyro wasn’t like that, at least not anymore.
Well, now that Gyro had some sort of idea of what Boyd was planning, he could consider this a parenting exercise for himself in providing support for his part-time kid.
“Boyd,” Gyro approached the matter later that evening, trying to sound casual, “if there’s any sort of assistance you need on your school assignment, I’m certain I can offer it.”
“Oh, that’s okay, Dr. Gearloose!” Boyd smiled from his kid-sized tablet, snuggled up on his couch-bed in Gyro’s apartment. “Gizmoduck is going to help me with it!”
“Oh...well. Alright.” Gyro shrugged, trying to deny any minimal disappointment he felt. “If you do need anything, you can ask.”
“I know! Thanks, Dr. Gearloose.”
That Saturday, Boyd asked Gyro if he could accompany Gizmoduck on his superhero patrol. He approved, so long as he received calls every couple hours, and Boyd stayed in sight of Cabrera. Gyro didn’t want to force his help where he wasn’t wanted, and besides, he had plenty of other stuff to do. His file cabinet wasn’t going to organize itself (his invention for that had nearly strangled him)...and someone had to water the plants. And order more espresso packets from Hamazon.
Gyro had plenty to do. Plenty.
He told himself such as he chewed the eraser on his very last thinking-pencil, cursing when he realized it was now even smaller than a nub. Well, now he had to order more pencils. Right as he was about to finish his online orders, he got the first call of the day from his co-worker and expected nothing special.
“We had a bit of an accident,” Cabrera squeaked, voice a significant distance from the phone as if to expect to be screamed at.
Gyro immediately panicked and demanded an explanation of some sort, only hearing words like ‘crash-land’, ‘scrape,’ and ‘wire.’ He only settled slightly once he heard Boyd sniffle ‘I’m okay.’ Catching his second wind, Gyro insisted the two return to the lab immediately and braced himself for any sort of horrific damage that he’d be exposed to.
When Boyd, teary-eyed and miserable, presented the damage to his leg, a deep enough scuff to marginally expose the wire underneath, Gyro was actually relieved. It was basically just a scraped knee. Nothing serious.
“Nothing a little welding won’t fix,” Gyro assured, trying to appear as unflappable as possible, quick to work at patching up the android’s injury. Within no time, Boyd’s little leg was like new again, and the child was flexing it in delight.
“It’s like I never even crashed! Thanks, Dr. Gearloose!”
Gyro awkwardly returned the hug with a stiff pat on the back, but his tone remained calm. “Of course. Is there anything else you need help with?”
“Nope!” Boyd smiled. “Come on, Gizmoduck. We have to get back to duty!”
“Right!” Cabrera gave an odd, knowing look to Gyro right before he put his helmet back on, and the two were out of the lab yet again.
Gyro didn’t know what to make of Cabrera’s look towards him and didn’t want to think too deeply about it. And he also really didn’t feel like doing any busywork right then, so he opted to rest his eyes for a brief moment.
Boyd had left a xerox-copied, garish neon-green colored school form on his desk. An invitation to the parents’ day presentation that next Friday, with the room number and time circled in bright blue crayon. Gyro copied the time and location on his phone calendar, deciding there wasn’t really anything stopping him from going. Besides, if it made Boyd happy, then all the more reason to attend.
Upon staring at his phone screen, Gyro realized how smudged his glasses were and decided to switch them out with his spare pair. Which he must have incorrectly thought were on the table. Figuring he left them on the nightstand at home, Gyro cleaned the lenses with his shirt and swapped cat memes with Della until 5 PM.
If Boyd was planning to present Gizmoduck as his hero, he’d need some sort of costume. Somehow, while a cardboard set of armor sounded endearing, Gyro wondered if Boyd would rather want something more polished.
Deciding it wouldn’t hurt to offer some sort of contribution to Boyd’s assignment, Gyro had collected as much PVC and other plastic sheeting as he could find around the lab, rummaging through his own collection and the scrap bin, and spent the hours that Boyd was at school or out with Fenton welding together a tinier set of the Gizmoduck armor. It wasn’t exactly functional and had none of the weapon systems or enhancements of the real thing, but it looked pretty darn cute. When he presented it to Boyd on Wednesday, Gyro couldn’t help but feel proud at how excited the little guy looked.
“Wow, Dr. Gearloose! This is amazing!” He grinned as he tried it on, showing it off giddily in the mirror. “I love it!”
“Glad you like it.” Gyro smiled. “I figured you’d want to stand out in your class on Friday.”
Boyd gave a puzzled look then perked up. “Oh! Well, I won’t need it on Friday.”
Gyro’s smug look dropped off his face and virtually smacked onto the floor. “Wha?”
“But thank you ever so much for this! It’s gonna look so great on Halloween! Huey and I can be twins! I gotta show him this!”
As Boyd scampered off in delight, Gyro’s body dumped into his chair, a groan of frustration exiting out of his throat.
Then what did I just spend two whole darn days doing that for? Gyro cursed in his head. He wasn’t mad at Boyd whatsoever, but he wished he’d had hindsight to know what the kid was planning. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have put all his time into this. He’d even put aside looking for his missing spare hat and bowtie that morning so he could get the finishing touches done.
That whole next day, Gyro was still a little frustrated over the matter, and after losing focus on his company projects yet again, he decided to stress-weld the remaining scraps of plastic. He decided to make a rabbit. But since he was working without blueprints or patterns or any sort of planning ahead, it didn’t end up looking like a rabbit. It instead looked like a deformed Easter egg with two mismatched PVC pipes jammed in the top of it for ears. And the simple smiley face Gyro painted on it didn’t help make it look any better. The only reward he got out of it was after he stress-Quackchatted it, and Della mocked it mercilessly. And with the way his week was going, he actually found that revitalizing.
“Are you sure there’s nothing you need my help with for tomorrow?” he asked Boyd one last time before bed that night, after he finished reading him a chapter of a Charles Chickens’ classic.
“Nope! It’s all ready for tomorrow,” Boyd assured with a sweet enough smile to melt even the coldest hearts. “By the way, can Lil’ Bulb come with me tomorrow?”
“If he promises not to start fights with the kids, then sure,” Gyro sighed, deciding it was the least he could do.
“Great! Thanks Dr. Gearloose! Are you excited to come to my class tomorrow?”
Gyro had to pause then speak through his teeth. “Yes.”
Admittedly, his mood had brightened a little bit upon entering Boyd’s school at 1:30 PM, giving him plenty of time to direct himself through the halls. He’d passed by a fifth grade classroom where Gyro had caught sight of the Drakes through the tiny window on the door, with their admittedly creepy other son, evidently spending the Parents’ Day with him instead. As soon as the two parents had caught sight of Gyro through the window, they banged on the window and mouthed what Gyro was assuming was some sort of greeting, but he couldn’t quite read lips (it looked like ‘hello’ or ‘kelp’). Gyro gave a polite wave and continued onto Boyd’s third grade classroom.
Some other parents were already in the room, admiring the student work on the walls, and Gyro was able to quickly figure out which drawings were Boyd’s, considering they all had rockets or Gizmoduck in them. Speaking of which, where was Boyd? Other students, dressed as firemen, doctors, wrestlers and athletes were reconvening into the classroom, but there was no sign of his artificial kid.
A corgi in an apple-print dress and pencil earrings was greeting the parents one by one, and upon greeting a distracted Gyro, she cheerfully asked him, “Which one is your child?”
“Erm...Boyd? He didn’t want to specify exactly their circumstances of relation, instead looking carefully around the room. “Where is he anyway?”
“Oh, he might still be getting his costume on,” she suggested sweetly. “You know, he’s quite a joy to have in class. A very bright student.”
“Of course he is! I made him,” Gyro answered matter-of-factly.
After a moment of silence, an awkward laugh came from the teacher and she quickly excused herself and moved on to the next parent.
Eventually, she greeted all the parents as an audience. Before what Gyro could hope was an apology for the impossibly tiny chairs they were all forced to sit in, she began her spiel of introducing the students.
“Last week, we asked the students to think about who their biggest hero is and dress up and tell us about them,” she explained, “and judging by all of their costumes, they thought very hard.”
Soon, Gyro was stuck listening to the grating tiny voices of children for the next ten minutes, as they stood in their quaint scatterings of costumes and read, stilted, from notecards.
“My hero is the fireman who saved my uncle’s barbecue-”
“-Chopper von Slice-em because he kicks the bad guy’s butt in the ring-”
“-25 field goals a season…”
Gyro had been zoning out so many of the presentations, he almost didn’t notice the door open, but seeing Boyd caught his attention. And so did what he was wearing.
The shirt and vest were obviously handmade with an amateur sewing machine application. The hat and bowtie were what Gyro had been looking for earlier that week, and Lil Bulb was glowing like a beacon as he perched on the child’s shoulder. Boyd looked in the audience, then smiled brightly behind large thick glasses as he caught sight of Gyro and waved.
Gyro slowly waved back, struck absolutely wordless. Boyd was dressed up just like him.
The chicken held his breath as it was finally Boyd’s turn to present, and the little parrot grinned as he spoke up without any cards.
“My biggest hero is Dr. Gearloose because he’s always there for me. He created me, then he fixed me when I was broken and kept me safe. He patches up my scrapes, makes me lunch, reads me bedtime stories, and thanks to him, I’m a definitely real boy! Without him, I wouldn’t be standing here today...well, maybe I would, but I doubt I would be as happy as I am now! Thank you.”
While some parents were politely clapping, and some were very confused and concerned by the wording, Gyro sat stiffly in the chair, trying not to show a huge multitude of emotion. He wanted to melt in his seat right there, not out of embarrassment but quite the opposite.
The rest of the presentations were just a dull buzz as Gyro tried to stay seated and not immediately scoop up his little boy and hug him tight. But once they were all over, Gyro’s limbs were like gum on leather, keeping him in his chair as Boyd forgoed the complimentary brownies and fruit punch at the back of the room and climbed on Gyro’s lap. Quick to return the tight hug Boyd was giving him, Gyro rested his head atop his spare hat on Boyd’s head and said nothing.
Boyd had his face buried in Gyro’s shirt, not moving it when he spoke. “Hi.”
Gyro swallowed the lump in his throat, laughing softly. “I like the costume.”
“Thanks!” Boyd finally looked up. “Dr. Cabrera helped me make it. Did you know he can sew?”
“I do now.” The chicken nodded. He didn’t say much else. And Boyd understood. There wasn’t really much to say.
“Do you want a brownie? We each get two,” Boyd announced matter-of-fact, then whispered, “But I’ll take a third for Lil Bulb.”
Giving a soft smile at the bright twinkle in Boyd’s eye, Gyro released his little doppelganger from his lap. “Sure.”
“Be right back!” Boyd announced cheerfully, scampering off to the table with Lil Bulb sat atop his head.
While the brownies were dry, and the punch was sickeningly sweet, Boyd got to share them and the rest of the day in the arms of his biggest hero, something not many of the other kids had in common with him.