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An Echo of Thunder
by Edmondia Dantes

Disclaimer: Squeenix and Disney.

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"Hold on a minute there," he says, and watches as Pete lurches to a halt.

"Whadda you want, Goof?" Pete spits, half-turning, ears nearly pressed flat and belligerent as ever, maybe worse now that he's angry and in pain, another loss to a loudmouth kid with an oversized key and enemies so old they've almost fallen into friendship again.

Goofy looks at him and thinks thoughts of long-ago and children's laughter, summer barbecues and a bright blue skateboard, but only says, "I just thought you'd wanna know that PJ's doing well."

Pete stiffens, ears raising slightly, then he's puffing up again, blustering and proud in all the ways that PJ never has and still doesn't understand. "'Course he's doing well!" he snaps, "never woulda thought any different!"

"I saw him fighting the heartless at the Castle," Goofy continues, pretending he can't see the strain in those clenched fists, ignoring the not-so-subtle way Donald's hushing Sora in the background, "He'll make knight soon, once this is over."

Pete's eyes narrow. "Don't you go makin' things too easy for him," he grumbles, "he don't need your coddlin'."

Not anymore, Goofy thinks, and remembers long still nights spent watching over two little boys curled into one bed, in that deep black time when all the Castle knew that Pete was in no condition to be a father.

"Aww, it ain't coddlin'," is all he says, "he's gettin' real good. Made those bombs a yours and blew all the heartless right out the courtyard. And some of the shrubbery too."

It's the wrong thing to say. Pete's eyes slide narrow again, dark and mean, and his voice is a low growl when he snarls "Boat-boy king gone again, eh?"

"We took care of it," Goofy says calmingly, but can't help the way his fingers reflexively tighten on his shield. "Peg'd be proud and so should you."

Pete folds his arms again, angry and proud, the way he'd been standing in all that blackness, pulling and shoving at it to get his way, and Goofy doesn't like remembering that, the way Mickey's smile faded solemn and cold, the lash of his tail through the air like a whipcrack before the world flared brilliant and painful with white-gold power.

"I always been proud of my family," Pete says, low and grating and harsh, "you watch my boy, Goof. He'll make you all see someday."

Goofy sees all the things he doesn't say, because he stood beside Pete when his son was born, and wonders why it's so hard for so many to understand. "I'll send him your love," he says, and watches as that same blackness spills out of his open hand, watches the flick of his ears and the curl of his lip, familiar and unwelcome as always.

"Pah! Love," Pete spits, and sinks back into the darkness again, "who needs it?"

Goofy thinks of a little girl, bright red hair and a missing tooth, and the woman who died defending her, and thinks maybe it really is easier pretending not to care.

Behind him, Sora finally manages to wrestle free of Donald's full nelson with an indignant roar of "What was that all about?!" It's almost a relief when Donald clonks him upside the head with his staff, because Sora's still too young to understand that shades of gray don't start and end with Riku, and that darkness of the heart is always born of love.

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