First off, this is just an idea. I'm not sure how far it will go. It sprouted from my fingers in a fit of boredom at work. I wanted to give my view of where Honker would be in his life after the show. I kind of pulled this out of nowhere. It's not directly connected to my past fanfictions or maybe not in anyway at all apart from J. Gander's similar attitude and it's me who's writing it. I guess it follows the actual show a bit closer... I also have to give credit where credit is due. There is a great deal of inspiration taken from Darkwingpsycho's back story of J. Gander Hooter's involvement with S.H.U.S.H. as a cadet as he is portrayed in her awesome story Sins of the Father. Now that I've babbled quiet efficiently please continue.
There was something comforting about paperwork. It was reliable, stead fast and predictable. All the forms were the same, they were labeled and organized. Yes, paperwork was very good. But paperwork did tend to pile up when you neglected it for life outside the office, which he had been finding himself doing. He still didn't quiet believe he was here, this whole environment was still so stunningly new to him. He was only nineteen years old, fresh out of the academy, and an agent of S.H.U.S.H. or as his mother referred to it "shooshy". God love her. He let his pen glide across the page the ink curling out in his naturally tidy handwriting. He was in auto pilot, he'd become so used to these forms he could fill them out in his sleep. Everything got like that with him after a while. He'd analyze and analyze until he understood every little thing there was to know about anything, and then he'd be done with it. Well almost everything. One thing always proved to be different, always surprised him, she always had. He noticed he'd stopped writing and shook her out of his head, these forms weren't filling themselves out. His dark eyes scanned the printed page through his glasses. He remembered a time when his glasses were almost too big for his face, red and terribly distracting. She never made fun of them, but everyone else did. Stop thinking about her, it's her fault you're stuck here on a Friday working late. That wasn't fair. She hadn't asked him to leave work, she never had to ask him to do anything, he was just there willing and ready. He wanted to be there, ever since they were nine.
"Burning the midnight oil Muddlefoot?" Said an old voice with an audible smile.
"Yes sir, I'm afraid I've let my paperwork get entirely out of control." Honker said automatically, his brain recognized the voice as he met Director J. Gander Hooter's eyes.
"I see. Well, is there no way I can convince you to abandon your mountain to accompany me down to the lab?" Hooter smiled pleasantly taking in the small office he shared with three other agents.
"M…me? Sure thing sir!" Honker dropped his pen into the mug his father had gotten him on his graduation from the academy, Pelican's Island… God love him too. He stood and noticed how he towered over the elderly gentleman. When he had first met the Director of S.H.U.S.H. he had stared up at him in awe, his childhood idol had seemed so tall then.
They walked silently side by side through the empty corridors of the S.H.U.S.H. building, the artificial lighting betraying the darkness that lingered outside these walls. Honker felt anxious, he hadn't been asked to accompany the Director anywhere before, he was a clerical agent, not a body guard or field agent. He hadn't even held a proper conversation with him, the most he recalled them doing was shaking hands after he received his diploma.
"I'm sure you're wondering why I asked you to join me." Said his companion seemingly reading his thoughts. "I try not to get too involved with the cadets, not until a few months after graduation. I always wanted give them time to become who they will, with out my influence looming over them, filling their heads with my rubbish."
"Your ideas aren't rubbish sir." Honker spoke honestly which made Hooter chuckle.
"I suppose they do have their high points. But Agent. Muddlefoot, I won't deny that I have had my eye on you since you dropped off your application. You seem like the kind of fellow who will rise quickly through our ranks."
"I'm afraid I'm not terribly special sir." He confessed as he fought back his shock at Hooter's praise.
"All the tremendously talented people I have encountered in my many years of service are always the most modest."
"Sir, I'm no good as a practical agent… if you have been watching me you'd see how badly I do in the field."
"Are all our battles fought on turf? There are cadets who excel in physical tests who don't make it to graduation, Agent Muddlefoot."
"There are also cadets who endanger the safety of their team mates by not being able to protect themselves."
"Are we speaking of your performance in August's field challenge?"
"Sir, if that had been a real battle situation I would have gotten my entire squad killed."
"Because they didn't listen to you."
"As I said, I have harbored a curiosity with you since you arrived, naturally I sat in on your exam. I knew your team mates hadn't been grouped with you before, I intentionally didn't assign you the role of strategist. I'm rather embarrassed to admit that I put more handicaps on you than anyone else." Hooter opened a door with his access card and held it open for Honker. They continued their walk through the new hall. "I wanted to see if you would disobey orders, if you would try to tell them the flaw in their plan of attack. You tried, but they were too fixated on assigned rank and their score looking impressive. There is no grading system in the real world, so we must see if our Agents can think on their feet, to become aware of everything, not just what will push them past the obstacle at hand."
"Director Hooter, I couldn't get them to listen to me, and because they wouldn't we fell right into our rival team's trap. How does that make me worthy of your attention?"
"With time people will listen to you Muddlefoot, you must continue to have patience. What I would like to do is help you to better assert yourself, speak up more my boy and they will be forced to listen."
"You respond as if I gave you an order. Consider it a pearl of wisdom, not everything I say must be agreed with. Incidentally I am here to offer you an opportunity to be my apprentice, but you are not ordered to accept."
"A..pprentice… m..me?" Honker stopped dead in his tracks, J Gander turned to eye him with a kind smile.
Was this true? It sounded crazy; this wasn't how these things happened! You had to go through years of training, aptitude tests, promotions, and referrals. This had to be some kind of misunderstanding.
"You aren't required to answer now, I never intended you to. By all means take your time, I have yet to give my retirement much serious thought."
"Agent Hooter…. I don't think I can do what you do… I'm not that…"
"That…? Old? To be perfectly frank with you my boy you remind me a lot of myself at your age. Though I was never as clever as you are. I landed where I am today because of a botched field exercise myself; I had an anchor to keep me weighed in what I was good at, just as you have one. She is Drake Mallard's daughter am I correct?"
"G..gosalyn?" He felt his face turn red childishly.
"Though my anchor was not nearly as dear to me as yours is apparently." Smiled Hooter kindly. "People like those are hard to come by, and equally hard to lose. Sometimes I wish I had the ability to…" He shook his head. "There goes my mind spewing rubbish again. My apologizes, let's keep moving shall we?"
Honker caught up quickly to the old man and they started their trek again.
"Why do you think she's my anchor sir?"
"She hasn't lost your interest yet has she? She always keeps your brain working, keeping it sharp and in shape. A brain is just like any other muscle Mr. Muddlefoot, neglect it and it will give out on you."
"Pardon my asking, but how do you know about me and her?"
"She does come to the building often, and whenever she is around there is a visible difference in your performance."
"She does tend to distract me sir."
"Understandable. She is a lovely young woman."
"Sir, may I ask why you're telling me all this? Why you chose to speak with me on the way to the lab?"
"You certainly may, but I wish you wouldn't be so delicate. You have every right to ask these questions do not sugar coat them for my sake."
"And do not apologize, especially when you have no reason to."
"What are we going to the lab for?"
"Honestly, we're not. You just looked like you needed to get out of that office."
"Indeed. I really wanted to show you something in the archives."
"Why didn't you just ask me to go the archives with you then?"
"Because the lab sounded so much more exciting, given the choice between the two I felt the lab would be enticing enough to pull you away. I should be the one apologizing."
"Don't sir, I really did need to get out of that office."
"So my intuition has not failed me this time." They walked on in silence for a moment before Hooter spoke again. "Agent Muddlefoot, I heard your father has gone into the hospital I do hope he's alright."
"My dad?" Honker shook his head. "He's fine, he just tripped on the coffee table."
"Ah, new furniture does tend to sneak up on you."
"No sir, it's been the same place for the last ten years."
"I see." Hooter laughed lightly. "Your parents are very interesting Muddlefoot."
"You have no idea sir." Honker smiled thoughtfully.
The restricted area of the building quickly came upon them. The cadets had never been allowed anywhere near this place, and as he understood it neither were most of the agents. Honker began to feel rather self conscious, what right did he have to be here? Hooter didn't respond to his doubt if he did notice it, he simply punched in a key code and swiped his I.D. card. The thick doors made a click that told him their super reinforced lock had been disarmed. He recalled the bets and dares his fellow cadets had made to try and infiltrate this area. He also recalled the tall tales they returned with, obviously exaggerated to hide their failure. Standing in front of these foreboding doors he wondered what they would think knowing he had been given access to their secrets. Hooter patiently awaited him, holding the industrial strength door open.
"I assure you it is not as ominous as it seems." Hooter reassured him pleasantly.
Honker moved through the doorway and Hooter let the door swing dramatically to a loud close.
"Almost there, just a bit more walking." Hooter wiped his hands on his jacket and headed off with Honker trailing behind him.
"Sir, does S.H.U.S.H. really perform biological experiments back here?"
"Apart from the regulation mold in Petri dishes? Not many." Hooter responded calmly. "Don't let it worry you, if the rumors the cadets were to have any basis in reality there would be biohazard signs everywhere."
"I suspected as much." Honker tried to peer through the glass on each door they passed, to get an idea what really went on in here but the late hour and deserted state of the building resulted in dark locked rooms. He wasn't sure if he should be glad or disappointed, he settled for a bit of each. Hooter walked briskly ahead of him, for such an old small man he could keep up a quick pace. Honker had to trot to catch up with him.
"Muddlefoot, I was wondering, I have been wondering more appropriately, why you decided to join our organization. Your family has no history of law enforcement, and if you do excuse my forwardness, they seem to have lacked any ambition at all. The most your recent relations have amounted too were grocery clerks and door to door sales men."
"Well, I don't know, I've never really been anything like my parents." Honker admitted thoughtfully. "And my brother is quite involved in his demolition job, does he surpass your profile of the Muddlefoot heritage?"
"I meant no offense, it just seems peculiar the path you walked given your family's influence."
"I guess I might have turned out different if I had modeled myself after their teachings… but I found another role model, one I could associate with more."
"I assume you are referring to Mr. Mallard?"
"Yes. He wasn't the best role model but he understood me better than my parents did. He and Gosalyn fed my need to be myself I guess."
"Have you ever wondered about your relationship with your parents?"
"Excuse me?" Honker asked taken back.
"Surely you must have questioned if they were you biological parents?" Hooter gave him an unreadable glance.
"Well… not serious thought." Honker said numbly, was this why he was bringing him to the archives? Was he going to tell him he was truly the son of a sea cook or something? He only thought about the possibility when his ego was wounded, and even then dismissed it quickly. They had to be his parents, he couldn't imagine it any other way. "Should I have researched that idea?" He asked in a bout of insecurity.
"If I was in your shoes I would have." Hooter admitted blankly. "Which is another reason I am so curious about you. Allow me to rest your mind, they are indeed your parents. Stranger things have happen than two average people having a genius for offspring."
"Genius?" Honker repeated in shock.
"How else would you describe your aptitude Agent?" He stopped outside a dark set of doors. "Here are the archives," he swiped his card and the doors unlocked. "Shall we go in?"
Honker eyed the man who was full of surprises and entered the room. Filing cabinets and book cases filled the large room. A few well polished tables were sprinkled among the throngs of information and Hooter led him to one with a small stack of papers neatly piled on it. Honker followed his superior's lead and sat after he was motioned to. Hooter adjusted his glasses and picked up the small pile of paper.
"Let me see here…there we are." Hooter handed Honker the form. It was one he was unfamiliar with, the date implied it had been out of circulation for over a decade. "What do you make of that?'
"It looks like a notice, some one was relieved of duty." Honker said trying to decipher the messy handwriting.
"True in a sense, the gentleman was removed from the roster because he was killed."
"Oh… yes I see that now. He seemed pretty important."
"More so than you can ever know, his name probably doesn't look familiar to you but trust me when I say he is closely linked to you."
Honker blinked and reread the name. Waddlemeyer… why did that sound so familiar.
"Gosalyn's grandfather?" He breathed.
"Indeed. His research was vital to S.H.U.S.H., his creations have become standard issue around the compound."
"What does this have to do with me sir?"
"Well, given your close relationship with his granddaughter I was hoping you might deliver this for me." Hooter handed him an official document. Honker recognized it immediately it was a will.
"This…this says that Gosalyn was supposed to inherit his research, his estate." Honker blinked at the paper. If this was true, she would be rich.
"Yes, but not until she had reached adulthood, she has just celebrated her eighteenth birthday am I correct?"
"Why didn't she know? Why didn't Mr. Mallard know?"
"Think about what that would have done to her. Think about how different she would have aged. I exercised the same hesitation as I do with the S.H.U.S.H. cadets, I wanted her to become her own person before she was handed her grandfather's dowry."
"Sir, why are you telling me all this?" Honker put the paper down gently, as if it would turn into dust and blow away if too much force was implied.
"I would very much like to meet her. Discuss this matter with her but, I lack the finesse to approach her without appearing harsh." Hooter said plainly thumbing through the remaining stack. "I'm afraid I've been in command too long that my conversation skills have diminished substantially."
"So… you want me to ask her?" Honker prodded, he was a little put off by the center of Hooter's attention being shifted to Gosalyn.
It wasn't because he was jealous, in fact she told him repeatedly he ought to be more jealous. He had his moments but it all came down to one thing, after all they had been through, after the failed relationships she underwent to try and find herself she had chosen him. He still couldn't believe is luck, he had loved her since the moment he laid eyes on her, but was always too self defeating in his attempts of telling her. She always did take things into her own hands, so now he was hers, and they were both happy. But, why would Hooter bring him all the way down here, praising him, to only ask him to talk to his girl friend?
"If you wouldn't mind having her come in sometime this week that would be splendid." Hooter grabbed a new paper. "I'm sure you are wondering the real reason I brought you down here." He placed it down in front of him. "I want you to keep this to yourself, this is classified information that was never meant to leave this room."
"I understand sir." Honker took the paper and turned it over he felt his stomach drop into his toes.
"Yes, my reaction was similar. Some people cannot seem to stay dead."
"But sir, this is Taurus Bulba… he couldn't have survived." Honker stared at the recent image of the villain.
"So we thought as well. I am informing you of his return because as I recall you were once a prisoner of his along with Ms. Mallard. We are not sure what has lead to these unfortunate events, but it seems as if he has opted to keep his ties with F.O.W.L. severed. This would technically be out of our jurisdiction but given an Agent's past involvement I think you understand why we would like to be cautious."
"Will he come for Gosalyn again?"
"He does put the responsibility of his grim fate onto her and Darkwing. I cannot be certain if he will seek her out a third time but I would like to take the necessary precautions."
"Director, can I head the operation?" Honker asked firmly.
"Why else do you think I would show you this? I want you to work closely with the rest of your team…" Hooter handed him a file thick with personnel sheets. "You are in command, do not let them repeat the mistake of ignoring your orders like the others. I hope that this is just a needless precaution and I do not think it wise to seek Bulba out. We do not want to enrage him if he has no intentions of hurting her."
"Understood. When can I meet the team?" Honker fingered through the unfamiliar faces. They all surpassed him in years and experience.
"As soon as you feel relevant, you are in charge. You cannot let them disregard your word. An investigation is currently underway to determine Bulba's whereabouts and motives, all information will be forwarded onto you as soon as it comes available. You may ask me for assistance when you have need to. Agent Muddlefoot, I would appreciate it if you would detain from informing Ms. Mallard of the current situation until I have a chance to meet with her."
"She won't like that." Honker shook his head slightly not taking his eyes off his files.
"I don't expect her to." Hooter reached into his jacket and pulled out a plain looking white card. After he examined it carefully he slid it to rest before Honker. "This is your card now, it will allow you access to the archives and the restricted wing. You are welcome to research your quarry whenever you please, but remember he knows you too. You must be aware of that at all times."
"Well I will be in touch with you in the morning Agent Muddlefoot. May I suggest we leave the building together? You should rest yourself before you start this daunting assignment."
Honker stared at what had been given him. He was a green horn and he had just been assigned a case worthy of a professional, he would be lying if he said he wasn't worried. He put the files back on their small stack and Hooter handed him a key for a private storage locker. He put the papers into their safe keeping and stared at them for a moment before drowning them in darkness. Hooter beckoned to him to hurry as he slid the key safely into his S.H.U.S.H. coat pocket along with the card key. This was it. This was the chance he had to prove he could be something. That he could protect her, stand up for her instead of her for him. He had come a long way from being a little boy with no dexterity. His physical training had made him stronger, his mind was better stocked and sharper than ever. If he couldn't do this now, no one could.
Darkwing Duck and all related characters are © Disney
A bit more babble. Just to clarify for those unfamiliar, Bulba did infact get Honker and Gosalyn in the episode Steerminator where he was reconstructed by F.O.W.L. and half bionic. And yes I know the Bulba coming back for revenge thing has been done to death but it seemed the only logical course of action. Er as for everything else... like I said wrote this (and I'm even updating this) at work. So if there are any glaring typos or my typical faulty grammar I apologize. We'll see if this heads anywhere, it might because I really love these characters and I find so little love for them that I had to make it happen. Enough of my prattle, thanks for reading!