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if that kid likes me, then how bad can i be?

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Goldie was obviously good at sneaking in (and out) of places without a sound. She had plenty of years — decades, in fact — to perfect the craft. And thankfully, she had years of strength too because turns out, over four hundred million dollars worth of gold and jewels was not light as a feather. She lugged the satchel inside first, making sure the fire escape didn’t creak too loudly under her weight. It didn’t—and she would have sighed in relief if she wasn’t being so discreet.

She slipped in through the window next, shutting it behind her, but not completely. She left it an inch open and then crept to the desk, looking at the treasure with a delighted and greedy gaze as she plopped into her comfy office chair.

However, just as she grabbed a fistful of coins to begin counting, she was… welcomed home, so to speak

“Gotcha!”

A light suddenly switched on, nearly blinding Goldie and a few coins slipped from her hand.

“Dammit, kid, what did I tell you about sneaking up on me?!”

“I would have thought up something better than ‘gotcha’ but you got here sooner than I thought,” was the reply. Instead of answering her question. “Like, I am the terror that flaps in the night; I am the candy bar that gets stuck in the vending machine of crime—”

Goldie looked unamused.

“Yeah, okay, that one was kinda shitty,”

“Gosalyn. Language,”

The lamp was adjusted to point to the ceiling, and a slouched little girl, crimson hair stuffed in a grey hoodie, was finally properly seen in the dark room. “You’re one to talk, Miss O’Gee,” For someone so rambunctious, she was not without her manners. Even if the nickname was sort of pointless and trivial.

Goldie rolled her eyes. “I’m not nine,”

“Yeah, you’re ninety million years old,”

“And if I was, I look damn good for it,” She grinned and flipped her ponytail a bit. Now it was Gosalyn’s turn to be unamused. “Why are you sitting on my desk in the dark anyway?”

Gosalyn shrugged. Crossed her legs and flipped her hoodie down to reveal frizz galore.

“Where’d you get the coin? Your rich boyfriend?”

She wasn’t very good at answering questions, was she?

“He’s not my boyfriend,” Goldie muttered, beginning to count the gold pieces, muttering the total to herself.

“What do you call him, then? Old-man-friend?”

Okay, that one got a chuckle out of her. But she could do one better. She looked at the pesky (yet endearing), inquisitive child with a smirk; “He’s my lover,

“Ew!” Gosalyn grimaced and covered her face, like she was watching someone about to kiss.

Now that made Goldie laugh.

“Grown ups are gross when it comes to love,” Gosalyn said, peeking between her fingers to stick her tongue out in disgust. “The interview I had today for new parents? They were all mushy and stuff. Asked me to be in their wedding if they adopted me,”

Twenty— twenty-five— thirty— Goldie counted but also tuned into the story.

And couldn’t help but add commentary.

“Funny you say that, sport,” she mused. “I caught you holding Maya’s hand under the table at breakfast the other day,”

Gosalyn almost shrunk back into her hoodie like a turtle with it’s shell. “Well, that’s because Maya is cool and not stupid! And maybe I’m gonna miss her when her new moms take her away next Friday!”

She scuffed her high top on the desk and pouted.

Goldie noticed the shift. She stopped counting; she would be up all night with that money. Or maybe she’d just store it away and get to it tomorrow. She scooted over and gently placed a hand on Gosalyn’s crossed ankles, fiddled with her loose shoelace (she left them loosely tied on purpose, something called “aesthetic” and Goldie said she’d get herself killed that way).

“Hey,”

“Hey yourself,”

Gosalyn’s eyes flickered up.

“What’s going on?” Goldie asked. “I know you weren’t sitting on my desk just because you thought it’d be funny to give poor ole ‘Miss O’Gee’ a heart attack,”

Gosalyn shrugged. “Maybe I wanted to,”

Goldie smirked, “Nah. You like me too much,”

The reply was an eyeroll and a tiny smile. As she was about most things, Goldie O’Gilt was right. The spunky, chatty, spirited little girl was… comforting. Familiar, maybe—if she felt like being sentimental and looking back on her younger self or something along those lines. There was also something very unfortunate about Gosalyn and Goldie thinking of her much younger self, around the same age.

Loneliness.

But Gosalyn had a chance. Goldie was sure of that.

“I wanted to talk,” was finally muttered in the modestly-sized but lavishly decorated office.

“Okay. Then talk,”

The tiny smile from Gosalyn said a lot. Due to her behavior, she had been through a lot of different foster homes—seven, actually, in the past five months, but she hated keeping count—and was… really lucky when Miss O’Gee had found her on the run. Bought the coffee and protein bar she was trying to sneak out of the gas station with, and said if she was tired of belonging to the state, she could help her.

At first, she had been weirded out.

But she cased out the joint a few times and… Miss O’Gee’s place was different. Different in the way Gosalyn liked.

It was a nice place to crash.

Yet her young face, only nine years, showed such exhaustion. And maybe heartbreak too.

“I got rejected again today,” Gosalyn whispered. “A-and don’t give me that crap about how they don’t get my potential or whatever. I scare people off. I’m too much of a handful. I know that,”

And as for all the interviews that turned out to be nothing?

Ninety.

Ninety interviews. Ten for each year she had been alive.

How many more would she endure before she’d finally find a forever home?

“Gosalyn, I’m sorry,” Goldie said, with an exhale. Frankly, the cheerful yet snooty suburban couple that had come by the house a few weeks ago skeeved her out. She didn’t want to send any of her kids home with them. But nothing harmful in the background check and all— “What can I do to help you? Pizza night tomorrow instead of Friday? A new Dorkwing hoodie?”

“Darkwing,”

“That’s what I said,”

She did not spoil her kids.

But she did notice little things that made their stay a bit more comfortable. It was the least she could do.

Of course, no one in the world knew Goldie O’Gilt was soft for children. Of all the preposterous things. She just… wanted to give them the hope and security she didn’t have as a child.

And maybe, as an I’m sorry to the universe, karma, whatever it was called. For all she had done wrong.

It was a valiant attempt, anyway.

“I did have an idea when I was sitting here,” Gosalyn muttered.

Goldie arched a curious eyebrow.

“What if you adopted me, Miss O’Gee?”

“Uh—”

“I mean, I thought about it. And you’re the coolest house leader I’ve ever had! And I could help you run the place and go on adventures with you and—”

It was so sweet and naive. “No,” And with that one simple word, she saw Gosalyn’s hopeful gaze drop.

She grabbed the strings of her hoodies and anxiously pulled. “Why not?” She sounded bitter now, like she had to take disgusting cold medicine or broccoli was on her dinner plate. “You’re the only adult who actually gets me. All the others are dumb, or too strict, or try to change me. You don’t. You’re like a cool aunt slash grandma,”

Goldie didn’t want to so bluntly say it would be an awful idea for her to do such a thing.

But it was.

Yes, she liked kids. She liked to think she was good with them too, or at least, halfway decent (maybe she stole from a piggybank or two to pay the bills when adventuring ran scarce).

“I’m not in the business of adopting, kid. I’m here to help you,”

“You’d help me by adopting me,” Gosalyn grumbled, now perhaps a bit angry. She began to pick at the back of her hands, soft duckling-like feathers about to be yanked.

Goldie took her hands to stop her in time.

“No, I wouldn’t,” she said softly. “I care about you, which is why I want to find you the best parents possible,”

Gosalyn pathetically shrugged.

“I know what kind of parents deserve you. I know what kind of parents you want. Someone who’s crazy and adventurous like you; but also someone sappy and maybe a little overprotective. Because that’s what you need,” Goldie smiled a bit. “And as much as you complain about it being ‘gross’, I know you’d want parents that love each other. I can’t give you all of that. Only some of it. And I’m sorry,”

Her eyes were a bit darker than that of the older woman’s, but Gosalyn found them similar enough to be like mirrors.

She scooted forward on the desk to wrap her tiny arms around Goldie’s neck.

Gosalyn even nuzzled her a bit before mumbling, “I’m just scared, Miss O’Gee,”

She didn’t have to explain of what, or why. Goldie knew. Gosalyn was scared of the feelings that plagued Goldie everyday; loneliness, regret, melancholy what if’s.

“I’ll make sure the next interview goes through,” Goldie whispered. “I promise. Next go around, you’re leaving with parents,” She even ruffled Gosalyn’s unruly red hair, just for good measure. She knew she was fond of it, even if she complained about ‘messing up her do’.

The hug lingered longer than it should have.

Neither of them were really huggers, to be honest.

And maybe Goldie pretended she didn’t see anything when Gosalyn pulled away, wiping at her eyes with the sleeve of her hoodie.

“How about you skedaddle to bed,” Goldie mused. “And give me ten minutes; I’ll tell you all about my little escapade today, how I got all this gold and got trapped in a glass box. Oh, and a robot may or may not be involved,”

Gosalyn perked up a bit and nodded. She always was a sucker for a good adventure story; even if it didn’t involve the caped crusaders she favored.

She hopped off the desk and left the office, closing the door behind her.

Goldie waited until the footsteps were no longer heard. Then, she reached for the phone.

Ten-thirty wasn’t too late, was it?

Ring once— ring twice—

“Hello?”

She smirked. They were waiting for this call. She knew it in her gut this one would work. She’d do right by Gosalyn.

“Mr. Mallard, this is Miss O’Gilt of Dawson’s Foster Home; I understand you filled out an application for adoption?”