“So... where will you be staying?” Drake’s voice echoed through the secret hideout, startling Gosalyn out of her mindscape.
The night air was chilly, and the two of them had settled on the sofa. Gosalyn was wrapped up in a spare quilt, drinking a cup of hot cocoa. Launchpad would have stayed too, but he had to drive the rest of them home and confirm his new arrangements.
The question directed towards her had been relevant, nonetheless, and Gosalyn scrunched up her face in a mixed signal. A part of her wanted to go back to her old home, but things just weren’t the same anymore. And as much as she didn’t want to admit it, the memories of the past few days would haunt her more if she went back there.
“I don’t know,” she replied honestly, curling into herself a little. Drake suddenly saw her as the nervous kid she was, and not as the bold pre-teen who had broken into a high-tech science lab. He almost thought he saw a reflection of himself in her.
He’d make sure she didn’t end up suffering half of the time like he had to. Sure, she was a lot more confident and had made her stand, but that didn’t make her any less afraid and deserving of help.
“Hey, Gosalyn? Would you- I- You wanna take up the guest bedroom? I don’t- really get any guests anyway.” He stuttered, his offer sounding stupid to his own ears.
Her response was somewhat relieving. “Really? I mean- that would be nice.” Drake suppressed his smirk at her obvious joy. She needed to open up more.
Maybe Launchpad and his friends could help her with that part, since the new superhero himself was quite inept at social interactions. Gosalyn didn’t seem to notice, however, and continued rambling with the same excitement as before.
“Seriously, though, you have a guest room in this place? That is so cool! I could talk to W.A.N.D.A. if I get bored, and fiddle with your superhero doohickey, and run around the empty pathways without getting scolded because no-one will hear me, and-”
“Woah, woah, calm down! This isn’t a place for kids. You’ll be living in an actual home and not a hideout until we can decide on a proper arrangement. We’ll go to my house for now.”
“You have a house?” Drake ignored her question and went on reading the crime reports. The young girl rolled her eyes and deflated a little, hugging the quilt closer to keep out the cold.
“Ugh, wait, is this an elaborate scheme to kidnap me?”
He question had been meant as a joke, and Drake’s incoherent and flustered response only brought a grin to her face. He seemed trustworthy, (and in dire need of a job outside his superhero business) so she decided she could go along with him.
Just until her grandfather was found and she could go back to her own home with a higher sense of security. Maybe those nightmares would be easier to bear after a while as well.
“Could we pick up a few things from my house on the way? If you wouldn’t mind,” she asked shyly.
In that instant, they were like a found family. They couldn’t replace the original ones, of course, but it helped to think that someone else cared. After all, cracking lame jokes at two in the morning and helping each other was what made them their own kind of a family, and they wouldn’t exchange this time for anything.
“Isn’t it way past your bedtime, young lady?”
“It’s way past yours too, old man.”
“Have some respect for your elders! And I don’t have a bedtime- I’m a superhero.”
Gosalyn’s laugh was contagious, and they broke out in a fit of laughter. The two of them cursed themselves internally for being so sappy, but it wasn’t like they minded it. They hadn’t had this much fun in ages.
“Kid, the moment we get home, you’re sleeping. You-” Drake let out a yawn at this point, for the day had been tiring for him too, “need some rest.” His eyes were drooping, and he was struggling to stay awake.
We’re probably going to stay here for the night then.
A soft smile formed on Gosalyn’s face. She had seen him work so much for her already, it wouldn’t hurt to not trouble him for a while. Stepping over to him, she gave him a quick hug and settled down beside him. A distant lullaby echoed in her head.
“Mr. Mallard will do when I’m in my civilian outfit, because we can’t risk people knowing me, okay?” There was the absence of a response, and Drake looked over at Gosalyn.
A calm expression overcame his features as soon as he saw her asleep. A warm, protective feeling bubbled from within him, and he let out a low chuckle. Tucking in her blanket and carefully placing a sofa cushion beneath her head, he made his way to the computer.
He would eventually fall asleep in front of the computer, and Gosalyn would have to wake him up in the morning in the most chaotic way possible. But for now, he was happy, and there was a lot to look forward to.
And that was all that mattered.