Gladstone stepped into the bar and took his time to gander at the happenings inside. What little there were, that was. Dark lighting with a few purple neons accenting the walls. Round, fancy black tables clear of guests save for the occasional odd. Even the dance floor at the far end of the bar was empty, the smooth electro-jazz playing to a nonexistent audience. Overall, Gladstone was not impressed. But then there wasn’t a lot in the world that impressed the half-goose.
The only problem was that the lack of occupancy left him slim pickings for a partner.
Yup, that’s right. Gladstone Gander was on the prowl tonight, though prowl may be a tad too strong a word to use. Prowling implied some level of effort that exceeds walk into a room and wait. And Gladstone could proudly say he had never worked a day in his life.
The emptiness of the bar didn’t concern him anyway, but hey, what did? Besides, it was to be expected, he supposed. A Sunday night, late, and right after a major catastrophe? Most people were held up at home kissing their loved ones and making tonight a family night. And the ones that didn’t have a family? The kind who could afford a snazzy place like this? Well, they had jobs to wake up bright and early for. They had responsibilities that took prioritization over fun and relaxation said responsibilities afforded them. Hard working people, these Tokyolk folk.
The poor things.
Gladstone wouldn’t know a hard day’s work if it smacked him in the face, but maybe that’s because the only things that ever smacked him in the face were winning lotteries, raffles, or free tickets… and the occasional angry cousin. Sometimes all four at once. That lucky fortune was the reason he doesn’t carry cash, and even now, as he stepped into one of the most expensive bars in town, there wasn’t a dime in his pocket. Gladstone knew he would be walking out belly full and with one arm wrapped around whatever pretty little thing was lucky enough to catch his eye without spending the dime he didn’t have.
Speaking of catching his eyes, what did he have here? He smiled and rolled his shoulders at the first bit of interest he’d seen all night. A beautiful white crane with long black hair, standing behind the bar counter and shouting at a very flustered looking tan duck.
Even though it was to be expected, Gladstone still chuckled at his luck. So, which would it be tonight? The bartender or her cute, fretting patron. Or both? Gladstone had been called a lot of things over the course of his life, but selfish was never one of them. He had plenty of luck to go around and last he checked; two arms. That’s one for both of the lovely little birds lady luck has flown his way.
Then the bartender waves her hands high in the air and Gladstone sees a silver ring flash on a finger that has him tilting his head back with a frown. So, the crane was off the table, then. A married woman was one of the few lines he won’t cross… again. Anytime soon, at least. He’d been trying to clean up his act as of late, and taking someone else’s woman to bed was quite the dirty thing to do.
Which he didn’t mind, Gladstone can get down and dirty. And if it’s for a good time, he can get very dirty. But his family had been on this moral, kid-friendly kick for a while now and he thought at least trying to play along might finally get him invited to—
No, none of that. He’s all the way in another country and doing well for himself, as usual. No reason to go getting worked up over some ungrateful cousin who—
He lifted his head and took a quick, calming breath. Anger issues may run in the family, but Gladstone was never a runner, or really any type of athlete. Bad for the complexion, and don’t even get him started on what high blood pressure could do to the sheen on a duck’s feathers. Stress and anger had never gotten him anything in life, so why start now?
He wouldn’t, simple as that.
Gladstone pat his already perfect hair down, shook his shoulders, puffed up his chest feathers, and licked a thumb to slide it across one of his meticulously plucked brows. And then he sauntered on over to the bar where his next good time was currently being yelled at by a very angry looking bartender. She was shaking her fist at duck and looking seconds away from strangling him. Which wouldn’t be any good for Gladstone; he was a duck who lived with few restrictions on himself, but even he drew the line at corpses... at least the ones that hadn’t been reanimated, anyway.
What? He takes one trip to Egypt, accidentally breaks some thousand-year-old curse in a newly refurbished royal palace, and suddenly there’s a de-mummified princess crawling out of her tomb and throwing herself at him. What was a duck to do?
“We-hell, what seems to be the problem?” Gladstone cut through their argument like diamond through glass. Hard and forceful, but with the two pairs of eyes now staring at him, one wide-eyed and the other in suspicion, having not real effect on himself. His beak spread into his most winning smile, he waited for them both to collect themselves. Meeting the most handsome duck in the world wasn’t an everyday occurrence, after all.
The two turned to him and it took them a minute to stop talking over each other for Gladstone to finally understand the issue. The little duck had come to the bar and realized after ordering a drink and bringing out his wallet to show his ID, that he didn’t have any money. Apparently, some big night, he had been pleading with the bartender to please serve him, that he would be good for it tomorrow, he promised. And the bartender, likely used to hearing such pleas, had only gotten angrier the more the duck had all but begged for free food. Not an unusual situation, really, and a simple one to understand and put into a context that applied directly to him.
His next free prize was short on cash.
“Is that all?” Gladstone intoned with one brow raised. No money, no problem. He turned back to the bartender, smile ever present as he said, “I don’t see why we can’t work this little—”
As he was speaking, he moved to lean on the bar’s counter, just as the crane let out a painfully high-pitched scream.
Gladstone looked down to see the guts of something underneath the heel of his palm. It was big, goopy, and getting all over his feathers. Euch, he stuck out his tongue and lifted his hand to shake off the disgusting mess that was clearly the remains of some squashed bug. What kind of high-end establishment had bugs? Oh-ho, they had better hope he—
“You… you saved my life.” The crane said in a hushed, awe filled tone.
He what now? Gladstone’s brows were furrowed in annoyance, but remembering his present company, he quickly replaced the confused expression with another smile. The self-assured kind that said he knew exactly what he had done and it was one hundred percent intentional. Saved a life? Of course he did, what else would he be doing with his time? Certainly not trying to take some blushing duck back to the nearest hotel that would give them a free room.
Before Gladstone could answer with his usual wit and charm, a loud voice from the kitchen was shouting, “Nani ga okotte iru no?!”
Then an older looking crane burst out from the kitchen door, wringing his hands on his apron and a knife in hand. Gladstone chuckled and guessed from the look of the older man that he was the bartender’s father and the bar’s chef. How convenient.
The bartender turned to the cook and the two of them started talking rapidly in Japanese. Gladstone couldn’t follow a lick of it. He’d never bothered with learning the language, or any language other than the one he spoke. Like all forms of mental drudgery, it wasn’t necessary for getting around or getting what he wanted.
And right now, what he wanted was the cute duck staring up at him with his bill half open, rapidly turning his head between the talking employees and half-goose. Gladstone met the duck’s eyes during one of those quick shifts and his smile tilted into something sharper. A slight smirk that had the man blushing and turning to look down at the table, no longer able to look Gladstone in the eye.
The shy type, huh? He could wo… he could wo… wo— nope, even in his own head Gladstone couldn’t say that cursed word. He could roll with the duck being a shy guy, it just meant he’d have to lay the charm on thick. And as the two crane’s chattering quieted down, he knew he’d be getting his chance soon.
The bartender bowed to him and Gladstone raised a brow, already knowing where this was going; something-something free food, but he curious to hear what she had to say nonetheless.
“As thanks for saving my life, my father would like to serve you anything you like, free of charge.” She lifted her head after speaking and Gladstone offered her the same smirk he’d given the duck before slapping his clean hand on the guy’s shoulder hard enough to make him jolt.
“Wait, wh—” Gladstone silenced him with a slight squeeze to his shoulder and a glance downward so fast he wasn’t sure the guy would catch it.
“I appreciate it, really I do— But, it should really be for me and my best friend here. See, I only came out to meet him and if he hadn’t suggested this gorgeous establishment, I never would have been here to save your life.”
He rakishly looked her body up and down, “And might I say, what a life worth saving it is.”
She flushed and looked down at her hands, fiddled with her ring. Probably thought about just how much that silver was worth before answering, “Y-yes, of course, both of you; free all night.” She then rushed back into the kitchen, likely to tell her father the slight change of plans and to collect herself. Which was fine, Gladstone had that affect on people, it was even worse when he was trying, which he had been just then. Some women, men, had to change their pants after a single wink in their direction.
Not that he felt bad for doing it.
He released his hold on the unknown duck’s shoulder and took a seat at the bar beside him. The bartender being gone would give him time to find out just what kind of duck would be going out with him tonight. Gladstone wasn’t picky with anything other than looks, but he’d be lying if he said he didn’t prefer them feisty. Though, from the way the guy was looking at him, beak wide and eyes sparkling like he’d just seen something incredible, Gladstone didn’t think he’d be getting any plucky fun out of him tonight.
He could appreciate the look of admiration, though, and letting the duck show just how appreciative he was of Gladstone’s intervention sounded just like the good time he was after.
But they’d be going nowhere if things stayed silent between them, so as he was ought to do, Gladstone held out a hand in front of the stranger to introduce himself. However, before he could get a word out, apparently a dam broke inside the stranger and suddenly, he was swiveling on his barstool to face Gladstone directly, the admiringlook replaced with one of excitement.
“That was amazing!” he exclaimed. “How did you know she was allergic to spiders? And to just smash like that, no hesitation! Wow!”
The bartender had been allergic to spiders?
“Oh, well…” The barrage of questions caught him off guard, but he quickly blinked back his surprise and placed his held-out hand on the counter, smile back in place as he only just crossed the line that separated his and the other duck’s personal space. “… You could call it a lucky guess.”
The stranger looked on the verge of asking more questions, but then shook his head, his tall stand of tan hair swaying with every head turn.
“Oh, where are my manners.” Then a hand was being held out to him and Gladstone took it without thinking, unused to someone beating him to a handshake. It was one of his signature moves.
“Fenton Crackshell-Cabrera, it’s nice to meet you!” the man introduced himself with an enthusiastic shake that had Gladstone’s shoulders shaking from the force of it. Hm, full name? Alright.
Gladstone returned the shake, placing his free hand over their joined ones to both stop the vigorous shakes, and in a shameless declaration of his intent. “Gladstone Gander, it’s a pleasure,” he purred.
“I-um, oh, ah… yeah!” Fenton responded sheepishly and even through light brown feathers, Gladstone could see the duck’s blush. So, he was at the very least affected by Gladstone’s flirtations, next to find out is if he’s receptive.
He released the other’s hand and strategically retreated back to his own side of the shared space, knowing full well that he wouldn’t be staying there for long.
“Sorry for the intrusion, but what brings a cute duck like you to a place like this?” If the hand holding hadn’t been obvious enough, Gladstone made sure Fenton knew what conversation they were having. The shy, happy types tended miss everything except the most direct passes and while none of Gladstone’s time was wasted time, he would prefer skipping over the whole; oh, interested in me, that way? that guys like Fenton were always so slow to pick up on.
Flirting was so much more fun when the other person flirted back, or was at least aware they were being hit on.
“C-cute?” Fenton squeaked, and Gladstone’s smile turned into a lazy grin. That wasn’t a disgusting-get-away-from-me squeak, but an oh-a-hot-guy-just-complimented-me squeak.
“It’s for work, I mean-uh, not the bar, being here. In Tokyolk. I’m celebrating.” Fenton ducked in on himself and Gladstone could feel the embarrassment radiating off the man.
“Well, Fentoni—can I call you Fentoni? It’s your lucky night. You’re talking to the Gladstone Gander, luckiest duck in the world and all-around expert at having a good time; celebrations included.” He tugged at the edges of his jacket as he spoke, head held high in pride.
“Luckiest duck in the world? Is that like… a job?” Fenton asked through his embarrassment.
Gladstone’s expression never changed as he winked, “Full time, baby.”
The duck looked ready to combust on the spot, but he still continued with questions. “Well, what makes you so lucky?” Fenton asked, cheeks flushed, but looking like he was about to whip out a pen and paper and start taking notes. Really gave credence to the whole nerd vibe Gladstone was picking up off him. Not that Gladstone had anything against nerds, one of his best cousins was a nerd.
“I met you here, didn’t I?” Gladstone said, laying the charm on thick. Though, the way Fenton gulped and fidgeted with his purple tie, suddenly able to look everywhere but at Gladstone, gave him reason to pause.
Because Gladstone may be an insatiable, sometimes even unintentional, flirt, but even he wouldn’t keep up his advances on someone who was uncomfortable with them. Anymore. Not for a while. He was trying, alright?
“Hey, you want me to slow my roll, you just let me know. Ol’ Gladdie here wouldn’t want to put you on the spot.” Well, he would, a very specific horizontal spot, preferably on a bespoke mattress with silk sheets. But that was neither here not there.
“No, no, it’s not that, really I… I’m flattered, it’s just I’m not really used to…” Fenton shook his head then flapped his arms, gesturing between the both of them. “… This.”
Yeah, that made sense. Most nerds could only ever dream of the hottest person in any given room coming on to them. And while Gladstone couldn’t understand Fenton’s flustered state, he could sympathize. He could slow down just enough so that the guy didn’t have a heart attack.
“Well, I—” Gladstone started, only to stop when the kitchen door opened and out popped their bartender, cheeks no less red than before and her hair looking like she’d just stepped out of a wind storm. And Gladstone wanted to guess what she had been up to. But not in present company.
“I, ahem, am ready to take your orders now.” She said, bringing up a hand to cough into. And Gladstone swore he saw something wet shine on her white feathers. Must be because she just washed her hands. Heh, yeah, right.
It was Fenton who spoke up first, Gladstone enjoying his own thoughts too much to interrupt them just yet.
“I’d like a Tokyolk Iced Tea, please and the spicy edamame, if… if that’s alright.”
Tokyolk Iced Tea?
“Woah, there Fentoni, you said you’re not used to this,” Gladstone gestured between the two of them. “That include drinking? Because a Tokyolk Iced Tea is a bit, uh… strong, for a first timer.”
Gladstone wouldn’t be taking the duck anywhere if he got plastered, on account of his whole be better attempt and because drunk people were such a hassle. With the rare exception, taking care of them was akin to wo… akin to wo… akin to… a waste of his time, and Gladstone Gander’s time was never wasted.
“Oh, really?” Fenton asked with worried brows. “It just sounded so local I wanted to try it…” Then turning to Gladstone, his expression chipper again, Fenton asked, “What do you suggest?”
Seeing an opportunity, Gladstone grinned at his new pal. “That depends on you, Fentoroni; you like it sweet, with a bit of a kick, some spice, or are you just looking for something to smooth your night over?”
His voice was dripping with salacious intent, enough so that the bartender looked like she might need to excuse herself again.
“I, uh…” Fenton gulped. “… S-spicy.”
Good to know.
“Hon, he’ll have the Ginza Mary, and I’ll take a Whisky Highball with some of those delicious crab cakes I’ve heard so much about.” Gladstone ordered for the both of them, and then just to test his luck, he placed a hand on Fenton’s shoulder.
This time just to feel, he didn’t care if the guy spoke up, Gladstone just wanted to test his luck. Redundant as the expression was when applied to him. He noted, unlike the first time they’d touched, that he could feel some muscle underneath those thin shoulders. It wasn’t super tight, but more than Gladstone would have typically expected from a nerd. It was a nice little surprise and had him thinking that maybe Fenton could actually handle the half-goose’s green colored spice.
The bartender nodded then poked her head through the kitchen door to shout their order at the chef, then got started on their drinks.
“So, what’s the celebration for, if you don’t mind me asking?” Gladstone prodded with a mild sort of curiosity. What could pull a nerd out to a bar, alone, on a Sunday night? Getting their patent accepted, discovering of a new species of krill, finally losing the V-card; the possibilities were endless.
“The most important day of my career driven life!” Fenton said as he clenched his fist and tucked his elbow into his side, as though gripping something.
“Big promotion?” he asked, his bill resting on knuckles as he watched the guy animatedly wave his arms about.
“Better, I was hired!” Fenton bounced in his chair and Gladstone couldn’t help but be reminded of his cousin Feathery whenever he was talking about sea life. Definite nerd.
“Yeah? Good for you, pal.” Gladstone responded, trying not to sound too sardonic. Because it wasn’t true. A career driven life was a pitiable one. But Gladstone could go along with the other’s elation if it increased his already astronomical chances of getting laid tonight.
“Thank you,” Fenton dipped his head pridefully just as the waitress sat both their respective drinks down and then disappeared back into the kitchen, likely to grab both of their orders.
Gladstone licked his upper bill, almost feeling peckish.
“Well, you know what this calls for… what’s that word the Japanese always use whenever they’re about to have a toast?” He asked, taking a hold of his tall, lemon wedged glass.
“Kanpai?” Fenton tilted his head at him, looking confused yet hopeful.
“That’s it,” Gladstone nodded and rose his glass, giving it a tiny shake. “Kanpai?”
Fenton’s eyes lit up and his fluffed cheek smile was something Gladstone could get used to.
“Kanpai!” the other duck shouted and they clinked their glasses together in celebration of Fenton’s new full-time employee status.
They drank their respective drinks, Gladstone offering his for Fenton to try and enjoying bringing the glass to the other duck’s beak to sip when he said yes. Their food came out not long after and their conversation slowed as they ate. Again, Gladstone offered his to try and smirked at the shy nod he got as he held out a crab cake for Fenton to take. Heat blossomed in his chest when instead of grabbing it, Fenton leaned forward to take a bite directly from Gladstone’s hand. The other’s thin, wet tongue taking a quick swipe at the tip of Gladstone’s fingers as he pulled away.
Well, well, spicy was it?
“So… you got plans for the rest of the night?” Gladstone asked as he used a cloth napkin and the condensation on the outside of his glass to clean his hands. Then he placed one of his freshly cleaned hands on Fenton’s thigh. He didn’t move it, didn’t slide his hand along its thin, orange length as he was want to do. He just waited to see if he would be pushed away, or if they were really doing this thing.
The only response he got was a slight stiffen and then an immediate, forced relaxation from the other duck. It was an endearing in that, aw-look at how hard the nerd is trying to appear cool, kind of way.
“Oh, no, well I can’t be out too late, but…” Fenton trailed off and Gladstone graciously waited for the nervous bird to finish his thought.
“… It would have been nice to bring back something for M’Ma.” Fenton said, totally off topic and once again appearing to lament his penniless status. Which Gladstone accepted with a nod of his head, he knew what a jumbled mess most nerds’ minds were, barely able to stay on one topic before a new idea was leaping out at them. And while Gladstone was eager to take the other duck back to the nearest free bedroom offered, he couldn’t deny that the other’s company was… pleasant. In that anything was better than being alone, kind of way.
So, seeing that more than an hour had ticked away since first entering the bar, Gladstone decided it was finally time to shoot his shot, confident that lady luck wouldn’t let him miss.
“You know, if money is something you need…” Eyes half-lidded, Gladstone leaned forward, the hand resting on Fenton’s thigh sliding up enough that the edge was pressing against soft feathers and he rubbed slow circles around where those feathers and thin orange leg connected. “… I know a place where we can both be lucky tonight.”
There it was, a blatant invitation that could break through even the densest of nerds.
“I, uh… Um, that is… C-could you excuse me for a minute? Just gotta go to the, you know… real quick.” Fenton pointed both his thumbs back toward the restroom and Gladstone shrugged in lieu of a verbal response. What, did Fenton think Gladstone was going to tell him no? That was a level of kink the half-goose wasn’t ready to explore… Again. Anytime soon.
He tapped his fingers against the counter as he waited for Fenton, he winked at the bartender just to see her blush as she cleared their plates and drinks, and he sighed after nearly five minutes passed and still no sign of Fenton. What, had the guy fallen in, was one drink enough to make him toss his dinner, or was he just trying to prolong the little will he or won’t he act the duck had going on?
Which was fine, it was a cute act, but that’s all it was. If Fenton was going to reject him, then lady luck never would have sent him into that bar to intervene on the duck’s behalf. Though, if by some random bout of bad chance, Fenton did reject Gladstone; he wouldn’t have to wait long before lady luck was tossing a rebound his way. Kind of took the thrill out of every encounter…
Ah, who needed thrills when they had luck?
After the five-minute mark had officially passed, Gladstone decided he would go check on the guy. If the single drink had made him up his edamame, then the least Gladstone could do was pat his back. The tan duck had entertained him for well over an hour, which made him at least worth that small kindness.
He got up and walked into the bathroom, the door swinging silently open and closing just as quietly behind him. What he saw immediately upon entering stopped him in his tracks, though.
Fenton, pointing at his reflection in the mirror and talking to himself in a heated tone.
“You’ve earned this, Fenton. All those years of hard work; you can have just one night of fun with no responsibilities and no fear of repercussions to get in the way. Tomorrow starts your new life as Doctor Crackshell-Crabrera and tonight is the last night to enjoy yourself as the way less serious intern Crabrera.”
A doctor was it, hm?
Well, well, lady luck really only brought him the best. And he’d been dead on about the whole nerd thing That still didn’t explain the muscles underneath those soft tan feathers, though. But, hey, maybe the guy worked out. It was then that Gladstone noticed the bathroom sink was running and he saw the water dripping off of Fenton’s face. Had he tried to sober up? Make sure it was him making the decision to say yes and not the little alcohol he’d had?
Cute. More than ever, Gladstone was looking forward to ruining such a sweet little duck.
Hearing all he needed to, Gladstone left the bathroom as silently as he’d entered, but he didn’t go back to the bar counter. There was nothing for them there and he wanted to get them both out of the joint and to the hot little spot Gladstone had brought up earlier. A place where they could both be lucky? Of course, he was talking about a casino. The biggest one in town. Gladstone hadn’t been yet, for account of… reasons, but he figured stepping in with a cute duck under his arm, hot and ready for a good time, would make the experience more bearable.
A sailor could only stay away from homeport for so long, or so his cousin Donald would say.
Donald. Thinking of his cousin reminded Gladstone of the harsh words that were repeatedly directed at him whenever they would meet, and he clicked his tongue, brows furrowed in irritation. His cousin was wrong about him, as always.
Gladstone wasn’t easy, the world was.
The bathroom door swung open and Gladstone quickly wiped clear any signs of annoyance with a smile that showed off just how brightly his teeth sparkled. He then wasted no time in wrapping an arm around the smaller duck’s shoulder, pulling him close to his side.
The duck quacked, not expecting Gladstone to be right outside the bathroom, but otherwise didn’t make any move to push the half-goose away. Not that Gladstone had thought he would. The cat was in the sack, so to speak.
“You ready to get out of here, or…” he trailed off, giving Fenton an opportunity to turn him down that Gladstone knew he wouldn’t take.
“Y-yeah,” Fenton nodded, a glint of determination in his eyes. “I’m ready.”
That’s the spirit. A little spice, a little spunk, maybe Fenton really was just what Gladstone was looking for tonight.
“C’mon then, walk with me, talk with me,” Gladstone said as he led the duck out of the bar and out onto the sidewalk.
And they did. Fenton talked about how long he had been an intern at a science lab, though he wouldn’t specify which. Gladstone spoke of how he had come to be in Tokyolk, how his cousin’s giant crustacean had been attacked by Japanese fishers, resulting in his blimp being popped. And as way of apology, he and his cousin had been offered free meals for life as well as free rooms at any of the fishing company’s many sea themed resorts. That they for some reason had. Arriving at one of those resorts, right along the Japanese coastline, was where he and his cousin had parted ways.
The conversation carried them all the way to the casino Gladstone had been thinking about visiting ever since coming to Tokyolk. He’d been avoiding it for weeks, but Fenton’s need of cash gave him a convenient reason to push past his own trepidation and finally take the plunge inside.
It was a tall building before them. With black glass and gaudy, blinking signs that spelled out something in Japanese that Gladstone couldn’t understand and didn’t care to. It could have said Gladstone’s Play Palace and he still wouldn’t have bothered to take out his phone and put forth the effort.
“Are we really going in there?” Fenton asked incredulously, and Gladstone wondered if going into a den of sin was yet another one of the first times he would be taking from the duck.
He chuckled, “Yeah, consider it exposure therapy.” Gladstone said it while thinking of his own trepidation toward the casino and how he’d avoided the establishments like he avoided physical labor ever since—
And he should not have done that.
Fenton was looking at him in confusion, and the blacks of Gladstone’s eyes shrunk, his smile taking on that forced quality that made his cheeks hurt. He laughed and shook Fenton’s shoulder. “I mean, you wanted to celebrate tonight, right? So why not go all out?”
The other bird looked up and down Gladstone’s strained face, and he swore the guy gave him a disbelieving brow raise. It could almost be described as skeptic, but there’s no way a little nerd was looking at Gladstone Gander that way. And he was right, when all Fenton did was shrug and smile.
“You’re right. I want to bring something home for M’Ma and maybe this place will help me do just that,” Fenton said with a gentle pat to his own chest. Gladstone just nodded and turned his head away from the other duck as he let out a long, relieved exhale. He shook his head and adopted his trademark cashmere grin as he led them inside the city’s largest and most well-known casino.
Which did not disappoint. The red and gold patterned carpet, the off-white walls looking yellow underneath the gaudy fluorescent lights, the smell of cigar smoke and broken dreams wafting through the air. Oh yeah, this was his kind of place, full of his kind of people, and there were a lot of his people.
Because even on a late Sunday night, right after a major city catastrophe, the gamblers were out in full force. Every pachinko and slot machine had a patron in front of it, and all of the card tables looked to be full. Maybe they thought having survived a robot attack meant it was their lucky night.
Underneath his arm he could feel slight shakes coming from the other duck, like he was scared, tense, nervous all at the same time. Maybe the biggest casino in the country was too much all at once for a sweet, little guy like Fenton. But then the same could be said about Gladstone Gander. They had already come so far; he wasn’t about to let the nerd’s first time jitters get in the way of their celebratory good time.
He pulled the other duck even closer, their heads pressing together as he used his own body to lessen those shakes. “You see all this, Fentarolli,” he held an open palmed out in front of them, gesturing to the crowd of unlucky gamblers before them. “This is a sea of opportunity. You’re the captain, and I, your sturdy ship, will go wherever you steer. Just point the way and we’ll be on course to a winning streak.”
Everyone else in the gambling house had just run out of whatever luck they thought they had, because short of Fenton pointing them to a single user machine, a table was about to be cleared out. The chips always fell in his favor, and as he felt the tension in Fenton’s shoulders ease up, he couldn’t help the narcissistic grin that spread across his beak. He felt he was owed it. Who else could get such a cute, pure nerd to follow a compete stranger into the city’s biggest den of debauchery?
Fenton swallowed and nodded, then with a shaky finger pointed toward one of the few tables within an open seat eyesight. Gladstone had to squint to make out what it was, but it didn’t take him long to recognize the game they were playing. One of his favorites.
The dice game always drew a crowd, gave Gladstone an opportunity to show off, and more often than not ended with the casino’s owner coming out and offering him a free night’s stay just so he would stop. And even if that didn’t happen tonight, Gladstone was certain they’d win enough to afford a night in one of the casino’s top suites with plenty of money to spare. All of which he’d leave to Fenton to spend on his M’Ma.
How generous of him.
“Craps! Great choice, Captain Fentasmo.” Gladstone shook the duck’s shoulder and finally let him go. “Why don’t you grab us a seat at the table, and I’ll go get some chips.”
“S-sure thing, I can do that… of course.” Fenton poked his bottom bill with a single finger as he regarded the craps table apprehensively. It was cute, but Gladstone still rolled his eyes and twisted his lips in exasperation. What would it take for the guy to lose that adorable, yet frustratingly anxious attitude?
Huffing hot air through his nostrils, Gladstone decided it was a problem that would fix itself without any intervention on his part. They always did.
He walked away just as he heard Fenton mutter under his breath, “…what’s craps?”
Gladstone approached the receptionist, a lovely looking tanuki, his smile slick as the oil that slid off a duck’s feathers as he placed a hand on the counter.
“Can I help you, sir?” she asked, eyes roving over his green clad body, and Gladstone took a second to preen underneath her clearly admiring gaze.
“Yeah, I’d like to get some chips.” He pointed a finger gun in her direction and added, “Casino credit.”
“Oh, um, alright how much—”
“Ten million yen,” he said without hesitation.
“Ten… Ten million, sir. Are you sure you can… The casino charges a very high interest and if you’re not good for—” Once again, Gladstone cut her off.
“Do you see this blazer? Loonie Volture, right here—You know I’m good for it.” Gladstone flicked his collar up and gifted the receptionist with his most debonair smile.
She bit her bottom lip and looked around, probably to see if they were being watched. And hey, it’s a casino, of course they were. But she gave him a curt, short nod and soon Gladstone was walking away with more chips than he could carry. Literally, he had to get a bag to fit them all in.
As he approached the craps table, he could see Fenton hadn’t integrated himself smoothly. There was an oppressive atmosphere around the table, one that was making his new pal sink in on himself, his feathers simultaneously ruffling in poorly concealed indignation.
“Now see here, you—” Fenton was cut off by the high-pitched cackle of a male fox.
“Aw, is the wittle ducky lost? Why don’t you head on over to the slot machines; or better yet, the kiddie room!” A chorus of laughter erupted around the table as they mocked its single duck occupant. And seeing the way they ridiculed Fenton sent a flash of anger through him. Who were they, compared to the scientist, the doctor sitting at their table? More than that, he was Gladstone Gander’s chosen partner for the night, which even without the former titles made him leagues above any of them.
He took a deep breath to both cool that anger and exhale it out of him.
Then, without introducing himself, Gladstone stepped forward and dropped the bag of chips on the table in front of where Fenton sat, more than a few of them spilling onto the table. He then leaned over the man’s shoulder, his hair brushing up against the underside of the other ducks’ bill. He pressed his hands to Fenton’s sides and slowly slipped them underneath his arms, resting them right over where the duck’s shirt ended and his tan bottom feathers were revealed.
The laughter immediately died and their repugnant gazes went from the out of place duck seated at the table, to the one who had just so salaciously draped himself over the new player. It was obvious they were struggling to put two and two together. Fenton’s cheap button up blouse and dollar-store tie didn’t exactly complement the half-goose who accompanied him. They saw the sheen of his feathers, his perfect complexion, and expensive clothes. They wondered why he was here with Fenton and not one of them.
Well, they could look and they could envy the bird he was with, as Gladstone knew they would. Their resentful stares toward Fenton wouldn’t do anything but boost his own appropriately inflated ego, and by the look of it, the doctor’s as well. He could tell by the way the man’s shoulders squared and he finally relaxed into his chair, sitting up a little higher as he did so. The duck leaned back into Gladstone’s hands and allowing them to sit more firmly against his body.
“There a problem here, Cap?” he asked, his head down so his words breathed against Fenton’s neck, but his eyes turned high so he could watch the crowd of foxes, bears, and wolves sneer at them. All predators, huh? Well, it may sound very McDuck of him, but Gladstone was going to have to show them all that a duck was not to be trifled with.
His attention was taken off the crowd when he felt the man underneath him shiver, and he wondered how much longer it would be before he got to bring more of those out of him. But, outside of the shiver, if Fenton was affected by Gladstone’s proximity, he didn’t show it.
“No, no problem at all,” Fenton said, his tone resolute and eyes hard set on the rest of the table.
Gladstone chuckled deep in the back of his throat, and was rewarded by another one of those delicious full body shivers. There was that spice Fenton had mentioned, that little bit of feisty Gladstone had been after.
“Then place your bet,” he murmured directly against the duck’s tan neck. Then remembering what Fenton had said earlier, he spelled out the word pass on the other’s blouse by pressing into it with a finger. He watched as a thin orange leg jerked in response to his touch and smirked. What? Gladstone was just helping the guy out; he didn’t know how to play.
“P-pass,” Fenton said through clenched teeth, like he was struggling to speak without letting a different kind of noise out. Poor thing, Gladstone almost felt bad. Almost.
“And what will you be betting?” the dealer asked, interrupting his fun with Fenton.
Then, for what felt like the fifth time that night alone, Fenton surprised him.
“The entire bag,” Fenton said it with enough bravado that even Gladstone felt like swooning. Confidence was a good look on the duck.
He clutched at the blouse under his hands when the crowd once again erupted in laughter, at Fenton’s declaration. Gladstone’s chutzpah apparently only able to silence them for so long. The dealer even joined in, but it didn’t bother Gladstone, after years of having fingers pointed his way, either in anger, ridicule, or jealousy; it never did anymore.
Fenton was done allowing their mockery to get to him too, it seemed. As the duck merely accepted the pair of dice handed to him from the dealer and then held them up high. Gladstone’s eyes followed the dice and it took a second longer than it should have for him to understand what was going on.
“Didn’t you say you’re the luckiest duck in the world?” Fenton questioned him like it was a challenge, and Gladstone rose up off the other duck to meet it. Sliding his hands up the duck’s chest to rest them firmly on slender shoulders as he did. They locked eyes, matching smirks on both their faces.
They were both going to show the table why it was unwise to mess with ducks.
“That I am,” Gladstone answered before leaning forward, eyes slanted as he blew on the dice, the feathers holding them ruffling under the light breeze.
And they were rolling.