Drake, Launchpad and Gosalyn decided to go to Hamburger Hippo for dinner. They would buy the food to go, then go to the park and eat there. It was a nice day and it wasn't dark yet. Gosalyn didn't have to be back at the orphanage for a few hours.
They talked for hours. Launchpad told Drake and Gosalyn about Duckburg, all his friends and some of the adventures he'd had with Scrooge and the kids.
"But why are you leaving?" Drake asked. "I mean, it sounds like you were happy there. Those are the kids who see you as a hero, right? Why would you want to leave somewhere you love and people you love?"
"I do love them, but like Mr. McD said to the kids when I told them why I was leaving, Duckburg's given me all it has to offer."
He told them his reasons for leaving and showed Drake the scrapbook he'd mentioned and had shown to the kids. Drake's face lit up when he saw every newspaper article he, as Darkwing, had ever been in. There weren't many, but Launchpad was sure that now that DW had brought down a big time criminal there would be a lot more.
"Wow!" Gosalyn said to Launchpad. "You've really been in space and traveled back in time?"
"Yep, Mr. McD was always doing things like that. He gave me my first job. I flew for him for years at a penny a mile."
"A penny a mile!" Drake and Gosalyn said together. They sounded outraged. "How could you possibly live on that?" Drake asked. "This guy must have been a real cheapskate!"
"Well, yeah, he can be," Launchpad admitted, "But he does know there are more important things than money; the kids taught him that. As for how I managed to live, I took other jobs when I wasn't off on an adventure with him. Once I even worked for Flintheart Glomgold. I hated to do that because he's Mr. McD's biggest rival. He's even teamed up with the Beagle Boys a few times to cheat Mr. McD. But I needed the money."
"He teamed up with the Beagle Boys?" Gosalyn asked. "Then why did they rob him?"
"The Beagle Boys are crooks, Gos; they'll rob anyone they can. As for Glomgold, he'd cheat any way he can, so he'd never have second thoughts about cheating the Beagle Boys if it serves him. Mr. McD always earned his money honestly; Glomgold will do anything, honest or not, if it gives him a better chance to win. In fact, he'd rather fight dirty; he thinks it's more fun."
"But why would you even work for someone who doesn't pay you enough to live on?"
"Oh, I didn't work for Mr. McD for the money; I did it for the adventure."
They talked there on the park bench until the sun went down, then brought Gosalyn back to the orphanage. She kissed them both on the cheek before she got out of the Sedan. Launchpad and Drake smiled as they watched her go. Gosalyn was a great kid. They both knew she was going to make their lives very interesting.
Launchpad spent most of the next month going back and forth between Duckburg and Saint Canard. There were still some last minute details he had to take care of in Duckburg and Drake still needed him to drive. The doctor had said it would be at least six weeks from the day of the explosion.
He sold his planes, except the Joy Rider, to the Calisota Flight School. They were always looking for more planes. He wouldn't need them anymore now that he was working for DW; the Thunderquack was enough. He sent the Joy Rider to his family. They could use it in the air show. He just couldn't bring himself to sell it; he and that old plane had been through a lot together. He gave up his two hangers at the Saint Canard airport and moved the Thunderquack to Darkwing Tower. That would be one less expense. Also, having only one plane, he would need less fuel and less parts. He was going to need to save more money because crime fighting was going to take up a lot of his time. He wouldn't be able to take other jobs like he had when he worked for Mr. McD.
He and Drake had worked out a salary. It was a lot more than Mr. McD had paid him, but it still wouldn't be a fortune. That was all right. Again, he was working for DW mostly for the adventure. He needed the money, but he needed to be needed even more.
Darkwing had been given a job with a sister organization to the Duckburg Intelligence Agency called Shush. They wanted him to work for them, helping to catch big time criminals. The director, J Gander Hooter, had been impressed by Darkwing's defeat of Taurus Bulba. Hooter's chief agent, a grumpy bear named Grizzlikof, was not at all happy about Darkwing's position at Shush. Grizzlikof went by the book. Always, and Hooter wanted DW to be on the payroll, but work outside Shush's boundaries. Launchpad thought Grizzlikof was going to have a conniption when he heard Hooter tell Darkwing to use his own unique methods and hadn't even given him a Shush manual. DW would still freelance, as he always had, but he would be available to Shush whenever they needed him.
On the morning he left Duckburg, Launchpad was on an emotional roller coaster. He was sadder than he'd ever been about leaving all his friends, especially Mr. McD and the kids. He was excited about starting his new life in Saint Canard. He was living his dream of being sidekick to his hero, and today was also the day Drake was adopting Gosalyn, so he was happy for them. The Thunderquack was full of the last of the things Launchpad was bringing to the house on Avian Way. He would say his goodbyes in Duckburg, then go to pick up Drake from the tower. They had to be at the orphanage by one. Then they would go straight to their new house and start unpacking.
"Take good care of yourself, Launchpad," Scrooge said as they hugged. "You're a fine lad and a good friend, and I don't say that nearly enough. I want to give you something."
He let go of Launchpad and pulled out an envelope from his pocket. Launchpad opened it and saw that it was full of cash. He opened his mouth to protest, but Scrooge cut him off before he could speak.
"No, Laddy, we both know I never paid you nearly what you're worth. I always made nasty little comments to justify it, but we also both know the richest duck in the world would never keep someone on his payroll who was as brainless as I pretended you were. I hate to admit it because it says a lot of bad things about me, but I only said those things because I know you deserved more and I was too cheap to give it to you. I'm sorry."
"Mr. McD," Launchpad began uncomfortably.
"No, let me finish. You could have left me a long time ago based on my treatment of you alone, and maybe you should have, but you never did. The money in this envelope is the same amount any other pilot would have been paid if they'd been working for anyone else from the day we met up to now. It also includes hazard pay for all the times you risked your life to save me or the kids, or my money. I gave it to you in cash because I know you well enough to know you never would have cashed a check because you care more about people and their actions than you do about money. It should be a lot more, but no one can ever put a price on loyalty, friendship and bravery. I hope this Darkwing character appreciates you even half as much as I do, but shows it a lot more than I did."
Launchpad was crying now. He couldn't say anything. He'd always thought that on some level Mr. McD had meant all the mean things he said. His compliments were usually double edged, meaning they always had an insult thrown in with them. He'd always wanted Mr. McD's respect and appreciation, and now he realized he'd always had it. That meant more to him than any amount of money ever would. He knew the money was just Mr. McD's way of symbolizing it. He hugged Scrooge tightly before accepting the envelope.
Saying goodbye to the kids was even harder than he thought it would be. They all cried, Webby gave him a drawing she had made of him and the kids in their Junior Woodchuck uniforms. Doofus gave him a photo album of all his friends from Duckburg. There were also pictures that had been taken of some of their expeditions and adventures, including the wreck of the Lucky Duck and pictures Doofus had taken of the Little Wave, and Webby teaching Launchpad how to swim. The boys gave him a video of the last Little League game he'd coached for them. They had won, crushing the Beagle Brats seven to one. Bubba gave him a stone with his marker carved into it. The marker of a cave duck usually meant everything the cave duck owned belonged to the one given the marker, but Bubba had adapted it to suit the time he was living in. Now it was just his autograph. He had also change the symbol. It was now a small picture of him in one circle and a small picture of Tootsie in another. The two circles were joined by a dollar sign to symbolize Bubba's love for Scrooge. Launchpad smiled as he looked at it, suddenly remembering that he'd been the one to name Tootsie.
"Be good," Launchpad said to the kids, trying to smile as he got into the Thunderquack. Scrooge and the kids had seen the plane for the first time today and they had all been impressed.
"We will," they all said together.
Tootsie suddenly came up and gave Launchpad a long lick on the face. He laughed, patted the dinosaurs head, then waved goodbye to everyone and took off.
The judge who presided over the adoption had both Drake and Gosalyn sign the papers. He said it gave the child a sense of being part of the proceeding and not just a subject of it. Gosalyn had a lot of friends at the orphanage and of course she didn't want to leave any of them out when she said goodbye, so they didn't leave the orphanage until three. Drake tried not to show his impatience to get going, but Launchpad understood completely how Gosalyn felt. He wouldn't have wanted to leave anyone out in Duckburg this morning either.
Herb Muddlefoot was waiting for them when they got to the house.
"Thought yah could use some help moving in," he said, "So I brought my wife and sons over. This is Binky, Tank and Honker."
Honker was obviously the youngest, the one Herb had told Gosalyn about the day they came to see the house. Launchpad liked him immediately, as he had his father. Honker spoke nasally and with a slight stutter. He was polite and obviously intelligent. He carried a backpack full of books and calculators.
He helped Gosalyn move things into her room while Herb and Tank helped Drake and Launchpad with the heavy things and Binky organized the kitchen for them. Herb insisted Launchpad, Drake and Gosalyn have dinner with them that night. He barbecued and Binky baked a cake for desert.
The only Muddlefoot Drake seemed to like was Honker, which was good because Honker and Gosalyn had clicked instantly. Drake noticed this and pretended to like Herb, Tank and Binky, and only Launchpad seemed to realize how badly Drake wanted to be away from them.
The more time they spent with the Muddlefoots, the more they reminded Launchpad of Mr. McD's neighbors. Herb and Binky acted a lot like them, but the kids were completely different. Tank was obviously a bully. He had a mean, gruff voice and pushed Honker around every chance he got. Herb and Binky seemed to regard this as Tank's playful side. "If that's his playful side," Launchpad thought, "I'd hate to see his other side."
Honker was friendly to everyone and knew a little about a lot. He and Gosalyn seemed to compliment each other perfectly. Gosalyn was very interested in sports and Honker predicted statistics on all her favorite teams. She was disappointed, though, because Drake wouldn't allow her to place bets on any of the teams and wouldn't do it for her. He didn't approve of gambling.
There was still a lot for Drake and Launchpad to do with the house the next morning, but they could sleep there tonight. Their rooms had been set up and the kitchen was ready for breakfast the next morning. With seven of them working together, the three of them were practically moved in within a matter of hours.
They were all exhausted by eleven that night. Honker and Gosalyn fell asleep on a bench in the Muddlefoots' backyard. After thanking the Muddlefoots for all their help, Launchpad and Drake headed off to the house with Drake carrying Gosalyn. Herb waved at them, carrying Honker into their house with one arm. Drake seemed to dislike all of them, except Honker, on sight, but Launchpad was glad they'd happened to pick a house with such friendly neighbors.
Drake and Launchpad said goodnight at the door of Gosalyn's room, which was on the right at the top of the stairs. Drake went in to put Gosalyn to bed and Launchpad went to the door next to Drake's room into his room. Drake was in the master bedroom, which was directly in front at the top of the stairs.
As he slid under the covers, Launchpad went over the past month in his mind. His life had been happier and more active in the past five weeks than it had in the past year he'd been with Scrooge. Tomorrow would be his first night on patrol with Darkwing. He was looking forward to it. Everything was different now, and Launchpad had good feelings about the future. He knew he was going to have everything he used to have with Mr. McD and the kids and more. He would never trade the times he'd had in Duckburg, but this was going to be even better because of Drake and Gosalyn. Already he loved Drake like a brother and Gos like a niece. He couldn't wait to introduce them to his parents and sister, and to everyone in Duckburg. As he fell asleep, he remembered Mrs. Fern saying Gosalyn would have a chance to grow up in this beautiful neighborhood. He was glad he was going to be here to watch her grow up. He planned to be in Saint Canard with his new family for a very long time.