Bushroot took Darkwing and Launchpad to his greenhouse after they left the courtroom. Darkwing said it was best for now if they met there. Bushroot knew it was because Darkwing didn't trust him yet and didn't want to reveal his hideout, or his true identity.
Darkwing decided the first step in reforming Bushroot would be to answer any questions Bushroot had about being a good guy. He let Launchpad answer most of Bushroot's questions. Bushroot trusted LP and Darkwing knew it was because Launchpad had believed in Bushroot to some extent before their psychic one-on-one. He also knew Darkwing was not totally convinced that this was going to work, and he thought Bushroot resented him for that somehow.
If Darkwing had thought to ask, Bushroot would have said the resentment was because Launchpad had told him and Darkwing still didn't believe in Bushroot. Launchpad was Darkwing's best friend and Bushroot thought Darkwing didn't even trust him. If he didn't trust his best friend, why would he ever trust Bushroot? In some vague way Bushroot couldn't quite explain, he thought Darkwing was being a hypocrite.
The first question Bushroot asked was why he didn't feel good after he got Max to agree to divorce Heather. Launchpad said it was because Bushroot had stooped to Max's level. There were more subtle, less violent ways to handle the situation. Some people could be reasoned with under the right conditions. Bushroot hadn't even tried to reason with Max; he'd just reacted.
Herman had said if Bushroot didn't do evil things, he wouldn't be evil. But he hadn't done anything evil before he became a plant and he'd still been treated badly. If you got back what you gave, why had Bushroot been mistreated and then become a plant?
"Remember Twin Beaks?" Launchpad asked.
The question seemed like a non sequitur
"Yeah, sure, but-"
"You did good then, and you did it in a way that you couldn't have if you weren't a plant. Have you ever thought of the good you might be able to do as a plant?"
"So you're saying I became a plant for a reason?" Bushroot asked thoughtfully. He'd never thought of that.
"Sure. You couldn't have helped defeat the cabbages if you hadn't been a plant. You couldn't have been freed from your jail cell, and even if you had been, you couldn't have disguised yourself as well as you did.
"He's got a point," Darkwing said thoughtfully, speaking up for the first time since this conversation had started. "I never thought of it, but Launchpad's right. Since you're half plant half duck, you have a unique perspective on both sides. The cows knew that and used you to help the ducks beat the cabbages."
Bushroot looked hopefully at Darkwing. Was he finally realizing Bushroot wasn't all bad? He knew instinctively not to ask. He didn't want to rush things. If he seemed too eager, Darkwing might find reasons to doubt him even more. He wanted this to work; he wanted to be one of the good guys. He only hoped he could.
He suddenly realized that Heather wasn't the only reason he wanted to be good, and neither was Gosalyn. He really hadn't wanted to be evil. As he had told Herman, he had wanted to make the world a better place before he mutated. Launchpad was right; there was no reason he couldn't still do something good for the world, even as a plant. Maybe his being a plant would make him better able to help both ducks and plants. He had never thought of using his plant abilities for good. He had been running on his need for revenge for over a year. It had never occurred to him to take advantage of his relatively new abilities to help people instead of hurting them before they could hurt him. Launchpad's perspective on this issue gave Bushroot new hope for success, and an intense determination to prove him right.
"I'm going to do it," he thought fiercely. "I choose not to be evil anymore."
Bushroot spent the next few weeks following them at a safe distance, making sure not to be seen. Darkwing had even agreed to let him follow them on patrol as long as he kept out of sight. He wrote down any questions he had about why they did what they did and asked them later, when they were safe in the greenhouse and could talk freely. He was getting to like both of them and hoped someday they would think of him as a friend. Even Darkwing was likeable, Bushroot realized, despite his self-centered, grumpy, egotistical side.
Darkwing and Launchpad's friendship fascinated Bushroot. In some ways they were so different, but it only seemed to serve to make them better friends. Sometimes Darkwing treated Launchpad unfairly, making rude, sarcastic or mocking remarks, but from what Bushroot had seen, Launchpad didn't seem to mind. When he had a moment alone with Launchpad, he asked about it.
"I used to work for Scrooge McDuck," Launchpad said, smiling. "He used to treat me the same way sometimes; in fact he was worse in some ways than DW. But Mr. McD never meant anything by it. Neither does DW. He needs to know he's important, and he needs to tell himself he is. It's his way of dealing with his feelings when he's scared or worried about something. As for our differences making us better friends, I never thought about it before. I guess you're right. I think it's because we have a common cause, and because each of us has something the other doesn't. I can give DW the ego boost he needs when he loses his confidence. I can calm him down when he's too angry or upset to see something clearly."
"And what does he do for you?"
"He gives me a purpose. I left Mr. McD because I didn't feel needed anymore. Sometimes DW wants to handle things himself, but when he gets into trouble he knows I'm always there to help him. I know he needs me, even when he doesn't know it himself."
"It seems to me like you got the thankless part of the job."
"No, it's never thankless. Even when he doesn't show it, I know he appreciates me."
"But how do you know if he doesn't tell you?"
"There is a reason, but I can't tell you yet. It has to do with DW's secrets. I can't betray-"
"That's OK. Maybe someday Darkwing will tell me himself."
"Maybe," Launchpad said noncommittally.
He couldn't tell Bushroot that Gosalyn was the reason. DW wanted Launchpad to raise Gosalyn if anything happened to him. Gosalyn was the most important thing in DW's life. The fact that DW trusted him enough to want him to raise her told Launchpad everything he needed to know.
"Do you think he's coming around? Do you think he's starting to believe in me?"
"I think it'll be slow, but I think he's just gonna wait and see what happens. I have a feeling something's gonna happen that'll bring him around, but yah gotta be patient."
Bushroot knew that Launchpad would still be wondering himself about his sincerity if it hadn't been for the Norma Ray. He'd thought about trying to do something to prove himself; he'd considered following Darkwing and Launchpad more closely on patrol one night and trying to help if something came up, but dismissed the idea after giving it careful thought. He knew he couldn't rush things, with Darkwing or anyone else. He had a bad habit of being too impulsive, and he knew that his impulses could lead him back to evil if he let them. It would be wiser to wait until he knew how to handle situations without automatically trying to strangle his opponent with a vine.
He couldn't really blame Darkwing for doubting him. He'd had time to think about it since the day of his arraignment and had concluded that Darkwing was right to be cautious. Bushroot still had self doubts, so how could he blame others for doubting him? He had been the hypocrite, not Darkwing.
Bushroot was getting to know Gosalyn, too. She was a sweet kid, but a little obnoxious at times. In some ways, she reminded Bushroot of Darkwing. He wondered, not for the first time, how they were connected. Launchpad and Gosalyn had the same red hair, but Launchpad had said they were not related.
For her part, Gosalyn was careful not to call Darkwing "Dad" around Bushroot. Drake had stressed to the point of annoyance the importance that Bushroot not know how they were connected until they were sure they could trust him, as if Gosalyn didn't already know that. She wished her dad would give her some credit.
Darkwing was always in costume around Bushroot and was careful never to lead him to the house on Avian Way. Once the trial period was up, if Bushroot reformed, maybe he would reveal his true identity, but until then, Bushroot would only know him as Darkwing Duck. To be on the safe side, he had given Gosalyn strict orders not to tell Bushroot her last name. Gosalyn had rolled her eyes at him, but had agreed. She wanted to help and knew her dad wouldn't allow it if she went against his orders. Even if she thought it was overkill, she knew he was trying to protect her, and where his identity was concerned, he would be protecting all of them.
As Christmas approached, Launchpad noticed Bushroot getting more and more pensive and asked him about it. Bushroot was always loneliest on the holidays. He hadn't seen his family in years, and even if they weren't estranged, he wouldn't dare approach them as half plant. They had been very disappointed when he told them he would rather be a scientist than a farmer like his father, grandfather and great grandfather. They thought if farming was good enough for them, it should be good enough for him.
"What are you gonna do this Christmas?" Darkwing asked suddenly.
"I don't know; probably just hang out here."
"Well, you don't have to spend it alone this year," Launchpad said. "I could come by for a few hours."
"Really?" Bushroot brightened.
"Maybe Drake could come, too," Darkwing said unexpectedly.
Launchpad tried not to show how surprised he was.
"Drake's Gosalyn's dad," Darkwing explained to Bushroot.
"Oh, well, sure, he can come. I'd like to meet him."
"But aren't you afraid he'll figure out that you're Drake?" Launchpad asked on the way home.
"No one's figured it out so far. Besides, I promised Gosalyn I'd spend all of Christmas day with her and take the night off, unless something really big came up. With the Fearsome Five in jail, that's not likely, unless Fowl decides to make trouble. So far, they haven't done anything at Christmas."
"I guess even evil secret agent types need a vacation."
"Yeah, well, that'll make it easier for me to keep my promise to Gosalyn. Besides, I want to see how Bushroot acts around an average citizen. He's used to people running from him, or making fun of him. I saw him briefly with that woman, Heather, but I got the feeling that was another Rhoda Dendron situation waiting to happen. This way I can keep my promise as Drake and observe Bushroot as Darkwing. Drake Mallard can spend Christmas with his family while the precision mind and practiced eye of Darkwing Duck observes every nuance of his charge's behavior."
Launchpad smiled, realizing now what DW himself probably didn't know yet. Darkwing really did want to help Bushroot. The problem was he wasn't sure he could. He still doubted Bushroot and didn't want to look bad in front of the judge. Darkwing would feel partly responsible if Bushroot messed up. He had been the one to convince the judge to let them try this. DW was nervous and trying to cover it up with his customary self-promotion. Most people, especially those who didn't know "Darkwing, thought this behavior was arrogant and self-serving. Launchpad knew better. Self-serving, maybe, but not arrogant. It was a coping mechanism.
For the first time in years, Bushroot looked forward to Christmas. He even decorated his greenhouse, moving a Christmas tree in without hurting it and asking its permission to put lights and ornaments on it. The tree was glad to be asked instead of just uprooted rudely and having no choice in the matter.
Bushroot couldn't remember when he'd had so much fun on Christmas Day. He'd had a snowball fight with Drake, Launchpad and Gosalyn. Drake was a nice guy. He even brought a batch of cookies for them to share. Darkwing hadn't been able to come, so Bushroot set aside a few cookies for him. He hoped Darkwing was having a good Christmas, and especially that he had a family to share it with. No one should have to be alone at Christmas.
Drake looked directly into Bushroot's eyes after the snowball fight. He had lost the fight graciously, laughing and cheering. Drake/Darkwing could see that the laughter and cheer were genuine. Bushroot was happy just to sit with a plate of cookies in his lap, laughing and talking, and even losing a snowball fight without getting upset and trying to hurt someone. For the first time, Drake/Darkwing thought it really was possible to reform Bushroot. His doubts were fading. "Maybe we can bring him over to our side," he thought, smiling at Bushroot as he left the greenhouse, waving goodbye and wishing him a merry Christmas. He was looking forward now to the next six months. He was sure the city was going to undergo some major changes for the better with Bushroot on the good side. He had a feeling this trial period was going to be filled with some interesting and unexpected surprises. Bushroot smiled and waved back, thinking the new year would be the start of a whole new life for him. He couldn't wait to put his evil past behind him and become a person he and others could be proud of.