Ariel might be his friend, but Goofy can understand how Triton feels.
A figure that was even more imposing when your body was that of a sea turtle much smaller that you usually were.
Even so, Goofy was sneaking into the throne room while Sora and the others were busy practising for the musical. Triton was frightening, but there was one connection they had that made him unable to stay away. Triton gave no sign of noticing him as he approached, apparently too caught up in brooding to pay attention to one small turtle, but he didn't seem startled when Goofy finally gathered up the courage to speak. "It's sure not easy being a single father, is it?"
Triton peered at him over the hand he had covering most of his face, and Goofy found that he wasn't nearly so terrifying when his forehead was wrinkled with worry. "You have a child too?"
"Sure do!" He swam a little closer, grinning with pride as he thought of his son. "I've got a boy, Max. He's just about Ariel's age now."
"Ariel..." Triton slid his hand up to cover his eyes, the lines on his forehead growing even deeper. "I just don't know what I'm going to do with that girl. None of her sisters were this willful!"
"You know, my Maxy, sometimes he does things I don't understand. And sometimes I don't even know what he's doing, because his old dad embarrasses him so he tries to keep me out of his plans. He could be doing anything right now, since he's back at Disney Castle on his own." He lazily swished his flippers, spinning in slow circles in the water. "But when you have a kid you've just gotta trust them to make the right choices from themselves."
Triton drew himself up to his full height and for a frightening moment Goofy thought he was going to end up on the receiving end of the king's rage, but instead he just said in a voice as cold as the ocean, "Wanting to dally with people who would happily see her caged or eaten is not the right choice. Wishing to leave her home and family behind is not the right choice. You're lucky if your son can be trusted on his own, but clearly Ariel's not the same." Then the energy seemed to leave him and he lowered himself back to his throne. "Leave me."
"Gorsh, I was just tryin' to--" Goofy began, but cut himself off in midsentence and hastily began paddling backwards at the glare Triton gave him.
- - -
Ursula was dead and Ariel busy teaching Eric to swim the next time Goofy went into the throne room alone. Their positions were identical to the last time, except now Triton didn't wait for Goofy to be the first one to speak. "She really loves him, doesn't she?"
"She sure does, your highness," Goofy said, swimming upward until he was high enough to look at Triton face to face. "And it's pretty clear he loves her too!"
"And I owe him my life..." Triton slouched lower onto his throne, only the small, swift, movements of his fins revealing his agitation. "Have I been too harsh on her?"
"This reminds me of my Max's first girlfriend," Goofy said instead of directly answering the question. "I didn't think she was good enough for my boy, because she wouldn't go out with him until he'd done some crazy things to show he was worth it. But she turned out to be a really good influence on Maxy that he wouldn't have had if I'd tried doing things to keep them apart."
"So, you think I should allow her to be with him?"
Goofy tried to rub the back of his head, forgetting for a moment that he currently had flippers that couldn't reach. "The way I see it, your highness, you've already tried stopping her once and it didn't work. If you keep trying she'll just keep sneaking off again. If you give them your blessing, at least you won't get shut out of her life."
"You have a good point, Goofy," Triton said, sitting up straighter. "I will think more on this. Thank you."
"Well, shucks," Goofy said as he swam away. "Your welcome. I'm just glad I could help you out some, one dad to another."
- - -
Goofy was alone the next time he went to Atlantica, on a mission from the king to check which worlds still had high heartless populations and report back to Disney Castle with his findings. Without Donald's transforming magic he could only land on Eric's surface kingdom, and it was bizarre to realize that this was the first time he'd walked through this world in his own body.
He'd thought he would have to miss his friends from the sea since he couldn't go to their home, but as he walked through the town toward the castle he was shocked to see King Triton standing on a bridge, staring down at the water from a river flowing below it. The suit he was wearing looked hopelessly out of date compared to the clothing of all the people around him, and even though it was perfectly tailored Triton was so clearly uncomfortable in it that it seemed ill-fitting. "King Triton?" he asked. His voice was loud enough that several people looked their way, and after a moment he realized that maybe the king would have been happier if he'd kept his voice low so other people couldn't overhear them and find out who he was.
Triton didn't seem to recognize him at first, his form was so different. Then the expression on his face slowly changed until it was as surprised as Goofy's own. "Goofy?"
Goofy walked up to him, a little amazed to find that he was just as tall as Triton at his own lanky height. "Gorsh, King Triton. I never expected to see you up here."
Triton turned his face away, staring up at the castle. "I came to visit Ariel," he said, "but when I gave myself this form I found it so difficult to move around in... I didn't wish for her to see me until I can grow used to this."
"You don't need to worry about that, king! Why, I remember the first time I first met Ariel. I couldn't swim at all, but she was real sweet about helpin' us out." Then what Triton had said really made it through his head, and he blinked, "Wait, you mean Ariel's back here again?"
Triton sighed heavily. "You were right, my friend. I couldn't keep her away from him; I needed to let her go to him. They were married just recently." Then he looked at Goofy again. "You say you couldn't swim when you first came to our land? So, this is your true form?"
"Well, yeah! I guess we never told you about that, huh?"
"Why did you never say anything when I was insulting the land-dwellers, if you were one yourself?" Triton's lips twisted into a self-deprecating smile. "I must have sounded a fool to you."
"Come on, don't say that, your highness! I told you, I know what it's like to be a single father. You were just worried about Ariel, I knew that." He turned and held his hands out to King Triton. "Here, King Triton. I'll help you work out those legs, and then we'll go see your daughter!"
Triton looked doubtful but rested his hands on Goofy's and leaned heavily on them as he slowly began taking unsteady steps on his unfamiliar limbs. Many of the townfolks stopped to stare at the old man being helped along by a human-sized dog, but neither father cared.
A child was waiting.