In his first June with Gosalyn, Darkwing was still so overwhelmed by just being someone's father that Father's Day would have completely passed him by if she hadn't remembered. And if he had remembered, he'd have spent the previous day privately bracing himself for the inevitable well-meaning mayhem and destruction.
Surprisingly, that wouldn't have been necessary. The surprise breakfast in bed was only slightly burnt, and by the time Darkwing made his way to the kitchen, Launchpad had already cleaned up whatever mess Gosalyn had made. Darkwing swept both of them into a hug before – at Gosalyn's insistence – retreating to the couch with firm instructions not to do anything for the rest of the day.
That lasted about as long as expected. Gosalyn's pigtails peeked over the back of the couch some time around late morning, the rest of her head following with a worried expression. "Hey, Dad."
Darkwing quirked an eyebrow and muted the television. He'd grown to recognize the voice of a kid who wanted something. "Hey," he said slowly. "Something on your mind?"
"I need a favor," she mumbled, voice muffled against the fabric.
He gave a fake sigh. "What, I don't get one day off?" he teased. Her face fell. "Kidding, kidding," he reassured her, startled by her reaction. It wasn't like her to be so uncertain about anything. He ruffled her hair. "What do you need?"
She told him. His heart broke.
It was the most uncomfortable drive the two of them had ever taken, worse than the strained silence the first time he'd driven her home, worse than the tension that had followed them back from the parent-teacher conference after the incident with the jellyfish. Darkwing kept taking his eyes off the road to watch Gosalyn, who sat perfectly still and stared out the window. Several times he tried to say something, but stopped himself as he realized he had no idea what to say.
The low, neat gates of the Saint Canard Memorial Cemetery rose before them too quickly, the green behind them deceptively still and peaceful. Darkwing eased the car to a stop at the entrance. "Do you want me to stay here?"
Gosalyn shook her head quickly, coming out of her daze. Darkwing nodded and got out of the car. She waited for him to cross around and open her door before exiting, something Darkwing had never seen her do. Without a word, she grabbed his hand and led him through the gates.
They weren't alone. There were plenty of others in the city who had lost family, who trickled into the cemetery in ones and twos to honor missing fathers and father figures. No one Darkwing saw was as young as Gosalyn, or looked quite so small among the tombstones. He let her lead him, although he knew the way himself. The location of her grandfather's stone had seemed like an important thing for Darkwing to know when he had first started adjusting to life with Gosalyn, and more than once he'd been tempted to visit on his own, though he didn't know what purpose he thought it would serve.
It was a small stone, with no inscription other than a name and a date, probably paid for by Waddlemeyer's university colleagues when they realized there was nobody else to do it. Gosalyn's grip on Darkwing tightened as she approached it, and when she crouched down to touch the face of the stone he was forced to kneel himself. She eventually let go of him so she could rest her other hand on the ground to keep her balance. He leaned away a little to give her her space, but didn't want to move unless she asked him to.
It was a long time before she spoke. "Hi, Grandpa," she finally whispered. "Happy Father's Day."
Darkwing sat back and let her talk, only half listening so he wouldn't feel like he was eavesdropping. She poured her heart out in an uneven but continuous stream, soft in places and animated in others. She told him everything about her new circumstances: school, friends, her new family. Most of all, she promised him a thousand times that she was okay, and for what might have been the first time Darkwing started to think that they both might be.
Eventually the flood ebbed as Gosalyn ran out of words and sat back on her heels with a little sigh. Darkwing took his cue to reach out and wrap an arm around her, letting her lean against his side. "You all right?" A nod. "You wanna go home now?" Another nod, more emphatic. "All right, then. On your feet."
As she stood, Gosalyn patted the stone one last time. "Goodbye, Grandpa. I miss you."
Darkwing hugged her close as they walked away, casting a look over his shoulder when he realized what he'd always meant to say. "Don't worry, Professor. I'll take care of her."