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Meet Me In The Middle

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Gosalyn woke up sick. It didn’t really bother her. She’d been sick before and being kinda lethargic and gross feeling was fine. Especially when she knew she would be fine in no longer than maybe a week.

She knew she was sick by the way her face felt uncomfortably warm. She also felt as if she’d just ran a marathon from the exhaustion in her very bones and muscles. It also didn’t help that the first thing she did after sitting up was give a loud sneeze. Instead of standing she let herself fall back down.

It didn’t matter. She knew her grandfather would keep her home from school and was sure that her new father would do something similar. Sick days were like snow days. Just less snow and more soup.

Finally, after a bit of laying in bed, her door opened as Drake walked in. “Gosalyn! Aren’t you up yet?”

She looked up to him from underneath her blankets. “‘M sick,” she mumbled out to him.

Drake walked to the side of her bed and raised a brow. “Sick?” He gently moved her blanket back from her face enough to replace it with the back of his hand. He ran it over her cheeks and forehead for a moment before giving a thoughtful hum. “You do feel pretty warm…” he mumbled, more to himself than to Gosalyn. “Wait here,” he said before walking out of her room.

Gosalyn, curiously, sat back up some and watched the doorway for a moment. When Drake came back it was with a little white thermometer. Gosalyn wordlessly let the elder take her temperature. When the device beeped, Drake took it away and frowned.

“You definitely have a fever…” Drake looked from the thermometer back to Gosalyn. He gave another look between the two before yelling a “be right back!” And running out the room.

Gosalyn raised her brow at the scene.

When Drake ran back in he was holding a pile of blankets and towels. Gosalyn didn’t even have a moment to question it before the blankets were thrown over her and wet towels littered her face and head.

Gosalyn blinked up at him through the window of cloth. “Uhh, don’t ya think this is a bit much?”

“Absolutely not,” Drake insisted. He then pulled out an extra pillow and placed it under Gosalyn’s feet. “Younger children are much more susceptible to weaker immune systems and diseases.”

“I’m not a little kid, dad,” Gosalyn grumbled out, annoyed.

Drake gave her a raised brow as he stirred a bowl of soup he somehow obtained. “Hate to be the bearer of bad news but yes, yes you are.”

“Nuh-uh! I’m an older kid!” Gosalyn denied. “I’m practically an adult.”

“Gosalyn. You’re nine.”

“Nine’s a big number. One year away from double digits.”

Drake shook his head. Instead of replying to that he got a spoon full of soup and brought it to her mouth. “Open wide!” He cooed.

Gosalyn’s frown only deepened, pressing her lips into a thin, unimpressed line. “Seriously?”

“What?”

“I can feed myself! And I don’t need all these-” she struggled to push the mass of blankets and towels off her body, “-pillows and stuff!” Punctuating her frustrated cry by kicking the cushion out from under her legs. “I’m sick, not dying.”

It was Drake’s turn to mirror her frown. “You may not be dying but you still aren’t feeling good. And it’s my job to take care of you like this.”

“Well your position isn’t currently required and my head hurts so can I please just go back to sleep!”

“You can’t fire me from being your father.”

Gosalyn let out a loud groan. She grabbed the pillow that had been under her feet just moments ago and threw it at Drake’s head. The sudden cushion to his face caused him to fall back, spilling the soup mostly on himself.

Gosalyn sucked in a gasp. Her shoulders came up to her head sheepishly as she watched the other pick himself back up.

Drake looked like he wanted to yell. Instead, he bit the inside of his lip and forced a breath out. “Fine. Get some rest. I’ll come back to check on you in a bit.”

 

Drake was scrubbing out the soup as best he could with his little stain remover and enough force to crack a pencil right as the front door opened.

Launchpad walked in with a loud sigh. “Whatta day!” he called out loudly.

“Shh!” Drake hissed at him. “Gosalyn’s asleep in her room.”

Launchpad looked to the other and walked towards him. “She’s home from school? Is she okay?”

“She woke up sick this morning.”

“Aw, gee. I hope she’s okay.”

Drake gave up on his sweater vest for the time being and instead pulled it off over his head. “She was okay enough to practically yell me out of her room.”

“She yelled at you?”

“We… had a bit of a disagreement.”

Drake must have made some sort of face when he said that Launchpad placed his hand on the smaller duck’s arm and gave him a reassuring smile. “I’m sure she’s just upset from bein’ sick.”

Drake mulled on the words for a moment before nodding in agreement. He then looked back up at Launchpad and asked, “Am I overbearing?”

“Well, yeah.”

What?” Drake shrieked out, only causing Launchpad to laugh.

“Of course you are, DW. You’re practically a helicopter dad.” He gave another loud laugh and smack to Drake’s shoulder before adding on, “And I thought I was the pilot around here.”

The joke didn’t pull the worried frown away from Drake’s features. “I don’t mean to be overbearing. I just- I mean she’s- I only want what’s best for her,” he finally sighed out. Drake let himself drop down to the couch and slump against it.

“Well of course you do,” Launchpad responded. He sat down next to the other. “You’re her dad. Ya know my dad was kinda overbearing sometimes too. But he never meant any harm by it. Sometimes he kept me and Loopy safe real well. And sometimes he was just bein’ too protective.” Launchpad chuckled. “I don’t think Gos is actually mad at you if that’s what your worried about.”

And of course, he was right on the money. Drake looked up to Launchpad.

“She’s also a real spitfire.”

Drake smiled at that one. “She’s very independent for a nine-year-old,” he sighed fondly.

“Even kids that need a lotta space still need their parents too. Just talk with her. I’m sure if anyone can work it out it's the both of you!”

Drake’s smile brightened and became more assured at the comment.

 

After a while Drake opened the door and peeked inside. It had been a good number of hours, and where he was glad Gosalyn was actually resting it was probably best that he woke her up to eat something at least.

He walked in and gently placed a hand on her side and gave a soft shake. “Gos?”

The duckling gave a sleepy sound as she pulled her eyes open and looked up at the elder.

“It’s almost noon. You should eat something.”

She looked at him for a moment, clearly attempting to process his words through a tired and sick mind. She then squinted her eyes at him and asked, “Are you going to try and chew it for me?”

Drake gave a sheepish smile and chuckle at that. “No, definitely nothing like that.” He then looked away for a split second, gathering his thoughts, and asked, “Mind if I sit?”

Gosalyn responded by pulling herself to sit up against her headboard. Giving Drake both her attention and some room.

He sat down on her bed next to her and sighed. “Listen, Gos I-“

“I’m sorry,” Gosalyn blurted out, cutting him off.

Drake blinked at her in surprise. He was about to respond when she cut him off again.

“I was tired and felt gross and sick and I still kinda do and I had a weird kinda annoyed feeling and you were trying to help but I got weird and angry and I- I- I don’t wanna fire you as my dad.” The end of her frantic rambling fell to something much softer.

Drake could only let out a laugh at that. He then patted her leg affectionately and replied through his laughter, “You don’t have to worry about that kid. I’m not going anywhere.”

Gosalyn physically relaxed. “I don’t know why I got so angry at you this morning,” she admitted. “I mean you’re pretty frustrating normally-“

Drake made a face at that.

“-But you weren’t even really doin’ anything. I was just mad.”

He gave a thoughtful hum. “You could have been overwhelmed. You were sick and upset and I know I wasn’t helping much by being so overbearing.” He ran his hand over her leg comfortingly. “Gos, you’re really independent and I need to remember that. It’s a good thing too. And I know I’m a bit of a helicopter parent-“

“A ‘bit’?”

“As I was saying,” Drake growled out, “we’re going to frustrate each other but no one is firing or quitting because I’m going to listen to you when you need me to back off.”

“Really?” She looked up at him curiously.

If,” Drake began to add, “you also listen to me when I’m trying to help you. When you’re sick or injured or anything at all I am going to try and help you because I love you. Not because I think you’re some helpless child.” Drake smiled and reached over to ruffle her hair feathers. “You’re definitely not that.”

Gosalyn let out a giggle at the action.

“But I know I can go overboard sometimes. We just gotta find a good middle ground for it all.”

“That shouldn’t be too hard,” Gosalyn said with a smile. She then grabbed the blanket on her lap and started to move it with her as she crawled onto Drake’s. “We can start by you being in the middle of me and the ground and taking me to get food!”

Drake gave her an accusatory, though definitely humored, look. He gave a chuckle and picked her up, blanket and all, and started walking to the kitchen.