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Blooming on the Battlefield

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"If you ever need anything, remember that you can contact me by codec! You do remember my frequency, right?" Hal pestered as his fingers shook while buckling the last of Snake's gear on him. He felt the tremors from Hal up his arm which earned him a laugh.



"Yes, don't worry, I remember," Snake responded. Hal lifted himself up and stared at Snake in the eyes with a soft smile. The soldier lifted up a hand and placed it on Hal's cheek; his thumb massaging the soft skin underneath. "You know you don't have to worry?" He reassured him.



"Heh, a force of habit. I can't help myself," Hal responded as he slightly nuzzled into his hand.



---

Several weeks ago, a letter had slid under their door. Hal had been the one to first see the letter as he bent down to pick it up before being yanked away by his turtleneck sweater by the older man. Snake obviously more cautious as he motioned Hal to move away in case there was a form of poison on it. Snake lifted the letter carefully with gloves, skeptical of its contents. It was blank on the side he picked up. On the other side revealed a familiar wax insignia stamped on it. Snake placed his guard down as he opened the letter and read its contents.



"Dave, what is it?" Hal asked as he lifted up a waddling Sunny into his arms. David scanned the letter.



Dear Snake,



We appreciate to inform you that your presence is wanted at this year's Ultimate Smash Tournament. This tournament is one of largest we will be hosting as all fighters, past and present, veterans and newcomers, are to return for this session. We would highly appreciate if you were to return as a part of the returning roster from the last Brawl. A train will be sent to your nearest location to pick you up to the tournament. We hope to see you there, Snake.

How long had it been since the last Brawl? It must have been years, but he isn't sure how time passes across multiple dimensions. He knew that at some point he was going to have to return. It could be so easy to just pretend he never got the letter and just tell Hal that it was actually the previous owner of their apartment's mail. But that would be too easy, and he knows that he has to go. 

 

He turns to Hal who was giving him a confused glance. Sunny gripped the man's lab coat as she looked at both Hal and Snake in search of an answer to what was happening. Dave shook his head and smiled before walking to them, letter in hand. 


-----

Now here they all were, standing near an abandoned railway. Hal looked at David with a soft stare. The entire area was quiet except for the sound of the wind.



"I'm serious though. Please take care of yourself, I don't want them to send you back home like last time," Hal reaffirmed. Dave awkwardly laughed as he placed both hands on each side of Hal's face before pulling him closer. Lips connecting as if it were the last time they would see each other. They only pulled away when Hal felt a tug on his leg. He looked down and turned red when he saw Sunny pout and tap her foot. Hal quickly lifted her put into his arms.



"l will, mom." Dave chuckled, earning him a slight jab to his side. "Sunny, take care of him for me," Snake joked, brushing away the hair from her forehead and kissing it.



"Excuse me?" Hal stuttered at the remark he made; a smile betraying his false annoyance. Dave laughed at the man's remark before also kissing him on the forehead. Hal looked at Sunny and began to run his fingers through her hair with a red tint appearing on his face once more.



A wormhole appeared and a brightly colored train chugged out of it onto the dilapidated tracks. It was quite small compared to other ones with it only having only 5 cars: one for riding, another for dining, another with beds for sleeping, the fourth simply holding cargo and other supplies, and the last for simply viewing the scenery.



Hal let out a hearty laugh at the absurdity of it while Sunny gazed at it in amusement. Oh, yeah. She wasn't here yet to see it the first time David went. Hal thought as they all watched the train come to a stop. David turned to his family once more before smothering them in a giant bear hug.



"Wait, Dave!" Hal yelled out. "Don't forget to get me and Sunny some autographs!" He reminded with a glint in his eyes. The soldier smirked as he was reminded at how much he looked like those characters in those Japanese animations Hal watched constantly. Dave shook his head and kissed the other man once more.



"Don't worry, I already knew that," He reassured. Sunny stared at the soldier with her brows furrowing and her arms were reaching out with her hands making a grabbing motion. David picked her out of Hal's arms and twirled the young girl around. "I'll miss you too," He placed a giant kiss on her cheek before passing her back to Hal.



David bent down to pick up his luggage before a robot's arm stopped him.



"Heh, thanks R.O.B," He said as the robot motioned its arm towards what would be its chest as if saying "allow me" before carrying his luggage to the storage compartment. Sunny's eyes widened at the sight of the moving robot and pointed repeatedly at it while looking back and forth at both R.O.B and Hal. He quickly noted her mannerisms.



"No, I didn't build that," Hal chuckled at her naivety, "That's the Robotic Operating Buddy or R.O.B, for short..." Hal explained. David smiled at the sight of Hal rambling about its history and importance while Sunny stared at him back with gleaming eyes. He was gonna miss his oddly unique family.



A loud mechanical whirring quickly brought him out of his reverie. He turned around and saw the R.O.B motioning him into the train before going inside itself. David's attention went to his family once more.



"Well, duty calls," He remarked, giving them both one last kiss.



"Take care, Snake! We're rooting for you!" Hal cried out to the soldier.



"Thanks, Otacon, I need it! I love you!" David retorted back as he placed one foot on the stairs onto the train, playing up the dramatic effect. Hal ramped up the exaggerated cheesiness by blowing kisses to the man to which David played it up also by blowing back some in a very dramatic fashion. The two men laughed at their awful acting and how sappy they were. They were both glad the train's location was abandoned.



"B-Bye, papa!" Sunny cried out, waving her arms rapidly. David waved back, stepping more and more into the train.



"Love 'ya Sunny!" He cried before finally boarding the train with a carry-on bag with him, passing another R.O.B who was conducting the train.



Snake quickly sat at the nearest seat as he blew one last kiss to the two of them by the window while they also attempted to blow kisses as the train pulled farther and farther away into another inter-dimensional wormhole.



The seats were organized in twos with tables between the seats that face one another. He sat down quickly so he didn't even see who was already onboard. He stood up from his seat only to find there wasn't anyone else. He shrugged and figured since it was early there wouldn't be anyone. He pulled out an old MP3 player Hal had given him and plugged in his earbuds and took a nap.



---

"No way... Is it actually him?" A voice mumbled. Snake was never a heavy sleeper, quite the opposite in fact. His eyes snapped open. Only to be greeted by someone's face so up close to his. The sight startled him and he instinctively drew his gun from its holder and pointed it at the unknown person.



"W-Woah, chill, you can put it down! It's just me, jeez!" The person cried out. Snake slightly lowered the weapon to see who it was.



"Can't believe you forgot all about me, Sonic the Hedgehog! Ha, I'm actually kinda offended," He joked around with the soldier. Snake groaned while the hedgehog plopped down on the seat across from him and lifted his legs on the table.



"You should stop waving that gun around, especially here. You could kill someone," Sonic said as he looked out the window and waved bye to his friends. It was all bright and sunny outside with bright green grass spread out. It was absolutely the opposite of the deserted and run-down train tracks he was at.



"What if that was my intention?" Snake lifted up his gun towards the hedgehog with a large grin that could rival the Cheshire Cat. Sonic immediately flinched at the sight and brought his legs closer to his chest. A hearty laugh escaped Snake at Sonic's reaction while he watched in a mixture of both horror and amusement at the sight. He couldn't remember if Snake ever laughed in front of him. Dark humor truly is Snake's forte.



"Don't worry kid, it has its safety on," Snake reassured before putting it away. Sonic huffed and slammed his legs once more on the table.



"I'm starting to think that you hate me," Sonic remarked as he shut his eyes.



"What makes you say that?" Snake sarcastically remarked with a chuckle. Sonic opened his eyes again before leaning up in Snake's personal space and poking his chest.



"You've gotten softer," He noted with a sly smile. Snake looked back at him before squeezing his biceps to check. He's pretty sure he's still fairly fit.

 

Sonic howled at his reaction while it was Snake's turn to look on with confusion. "I mean, here," Sonic enunciated the last word with a strong poke to his chest. Snake swatted away the hedgehog's hand.



"Hmm, maybe I have..." Snake slowly put in on earbud in, hoping he would take the hint. The relentless hedgehog not moving at all from his personal space as he rested his chin against the palm of his hand with elbows resting on the table.



"Who is it?" Sonic asked with a grin and smile. Snake simply grunted. Sonic immediately began to spout out wild theories about brainwashing or a fake Snake in front of him, oblivious at how most of the ridiculous theories he's spitting out Snake had experienced in one form or another.

 


"Yeah, no. Calm down, I've always been like this. You just don't piss me off as much as before," Snake shrugged off with a smirk as he placed his earbuds back in and pushed the hedgehog away with his foot. Sonic huffed before climbing down from the table and plopping back into his seat with a suspicious glance still there on his face.



---

The rest of the train ride was fairly memorable even though its length was absurdly long. He wondered if inter-dimensional travel really took that long. He planned on asking Otacon about it. Several other notable fighters boarded that he recognized from what Otacon told him. Pac-man was the next to come as Sonic immediately started chatting with the icon despite the fact Pac-man only responded with select noises. Snake looked on at the two talking, amazed at the star power that they all invited. He had to tell Otacon about this.



Next was Megaman who Snake definitely remembered because of how much Hal had blabbered about him. Soon all three of them started chatting while Snake wondered who came on. Next was a very fit man apparently named Ryu. A stoic, regal aura emitted from the man despite his rugged appearance. Upon sitting down, Sonic immediately started talking to the martial artist. Snake briefly made eye contact with Ryu to which he offered a slight smile of sympathy to him. Ryu returned it with a slight sigh and smile also.



"I'm ready to dance, boys!" A woman's voice boomed throughout the train car. Snake blinked his eyes open once more. Doesn't seem like the best of times to get any sleep.



The tall woman wore a high-end faux fur jacket with a revealing blouse underneath. She looked like a mixture of both a women down a runway and a rich middle-aged women after a divorce. But Snake kept his mouth shut as he watched the sultry woman sit down at the booth next to his and Sonic's.



She slowly lifted up her legs as they rested on top of the table as the guns strapped to the sides of her boots glimmered in the sunlight. The woman's eyes piercing Snake's skin through her glasses as she placed a lollipop between her lips.



"Like what you see, tough man?" The woman asked. Snake looked back at her, unsure of how to respond.



"Impressive. Sleek, yet seems deadly," Snake commented carefully. She pulled them out with a twirl around her finger before handing it to Snake.



"Have a look; I pride myself on only having the best," She noted. Snake pulled out his own gun and handed it to her without the fanfare her's had.



"Mine's nothing special, but gets the job done," He said as he observed the woman's gun. He noted Sonic's uncharacteristically quiet nature right now before jokingly pointing it at the hedgehog once more. Sonic looked at the end of the barrel with annoyance before sticking out his tongue.



"You're still mad about that match, hun?" The woman sarcastically asked in a patronizing, sweet voice. Sonic turned to her with his arms crossed.



"I could've won that set..." He huffed. She simply laughed at that.



"Unlikely darling, sorry," She shrugged as she applied her lipstick, ignoring the hedgehog.



"I would've! My throw would've blown you to the blast zone if that launch rate hadn't been messed with!" Sonic cried out. Snake looked at the other fighters in search of an answer.



"Not my fault the hands decided to only redo the last match and not the whole set," She continued, still disregarding the hedgehog's emotions.



"During a tournament, the launch rate had been changed from 1.0x to 0.9x by mistake while changing the other settings before their match. The hands decided to only redo the last game instead of the entire set," Ryu explained to Snake. He nodded his head in understanding as he watched the feud unfold.



"I bet you changed it, huh, Bayonetta?" Sonic accused her, getting all up in her face. Bayonetta placed a finger on his nose and flicked it.



"I may be a witch, but I prefer a clean fight," Sonic mimicked her voice under his breath before turning away. Snake slowly placed her guns back on her table, unable to find a way to give them back without being awkward. He wondered how much had happened when he was gone. Bayonetta also placed back his gun on the table. She turned to the man with a questionable gaze. "I didn't get a name from you yet. Who are you?" She asked.



"Snake," She hummed in response before leaning in close.



"I'll remember that. I think we'll be good friends," She smiled with a small flick of her gun before putting it away. He nodded before placing his earbuds back in once more, still wary of how to take that response. Before going to sleep once more, he eyed the hedgehog in front of him. Sonic laid the side of his head on top of his arms on the table. Snake heard him mumble something under his breath, still giving Bayonetta a stink eye.



---

A harsh stop threw everyone in the train off their balance. Snake got up to see what it was, only to find the other fighters thrown to the ground also. Collective groans of pain arose throughout the train car. Everyone looked up to the front to see what was going on. A R.O.B quickly came to the front of the cart with distressed whirring noise and beeping. Snake rolled up the small curtain and looked out the window. It was the "Smash Mansion" as all of the fighters had dubbed it much to the dismay of the two hands. They all slowly walked out the train as the sudden shift in brightness blinded them all. Snake squinted at the large sight. They had truly made a large upgrade in comparison to the last time he was there. He saw a small figure waving towards them.



"I-a apologize for the long train!" Mario profusely apologized as he ran up towards the last remaining fighters. A wave of reassurance could be heard. None of them had the heart to complain to Mario, of all people. Mario sighed in relief as he personally walked up to each person and shook their hand and gave them the biggest hug he could.



"I'm so glad to have you back, Snake. Lemme make a drink for you later as a special gift," Mario commented with a warm smile.



"Make it heavy for me," Snake responded with a smile in return. He's been craving something that wasn't light or heavily watered down ever since Sunny came along. The plumber's drinks were something to die for.



"Haven't forgotten!" Mario opened his arms in invitation. Snake was silently grateful at the man's consideration to his personal space. He found the plumber's embrace to be warm and inviting, very fatherly. But what was he to know about fathers anyway? He pushed that crevasse in his mind and returned the hug.



Snake watched as Sonic wrapped an arm around his neck and proceed to give the poor man a noogie. He stared in admiration at how two previous rivals can be all buddy-buddy now after such an intense rivalry that defined a generation. The pessimism within wanted to say that it was all a ruse they're putting up. But the toothy grin from both icons said otherwise.



Mario's loud voice brought Snake out of his sentimental haze as he told them all their stuff would be taken to their rooms before guiding them all to the back of the entire building complex where a large plain of grass laid. Brightly colored balloons and ribbons were littered throughout the area as they all swung side to side on the poles by the slight breeze there was. A long table was at the center of it all that was covered in copious amounts of drinks, chips, and sweets. All of which seem to be forgone as seen with the numerous amount of people hugging and crying at the sight of old and returning friends.



Soon, all of that attention was diverted to them as a wave of people started clambering up to them with greetings and comments. Snake heard his name be called out by numerous voices that all welcomed him back. His vague attempt to not be socially inept and to be polite was lost on the volume of people and voices.



All of that was quickly swept away when he felt multiple weights hit his body which caused him to fall to the ground with a thud. He looked up as his vision was filled with the sight of a familiar red hat, blond hair, a green cap, and two brightly colored parkas.

 

He slowly started to sit up as the weights on him still didn't budge. He could swear his chest was becoming wet.

 

“I-I can't believe you're b-back!” Lucas cried out while gripping Snake’s arm tightly. He sighed as he ran a hand through the crying blond kid’s hair in a vain attempt to comfort him.

 

“They were right! E-Everyone's here!” Ness hiccuped into Snake’s chest; the young boy wrapping his arms around the man tightly. Snake was overwhelmed by the kids’ emotional reaction to being back. He wasn't even sure what warrantied it or if he was even deserving of it.

 

He looked at how Toon Link was choking back tears. The kid was looking away from Snake, eyes watering and lip trembling. The soft, innocent look on his face contradicting the death grip the Hylian had on one of his straps.

 

“He's back! He's back!” Nana and Popo danced in circles while chanting that phrase over and over. Snake looked to his right and behind the Ice Climbers was a small group of other kids who were watching the huddle.

 

Snake huffed as the kids simply wouldn't let him get up. He sighed as he sat on the grass with the 5 kids circling him. His Huskies were never this excited to see him. Snake laughed at the thought as he attempted to properly hug each one of them in both a mutual welcome and in comfort. Guilt crept up on him as he obviously knew why they were crying.

 

He scooped up all the kids the best he could and stood up and squeezed them tightly. Their small arms wrapping around the man the best and tightest they could as if he would run away again.

 

“W-We thought you would never c-come back!” Ness looked up at the man. The boy’s eyes were red and swollen with tears.

 

“W-We missed you a lot…” Nana confessed. Toon Link vigorously shook his head in agreement. Lucas couldn't even form words anymore. Snake isn't sure whether to apologize to them or continue to comfort them.

 

“You owe us! I don't know what! But you owe us all something!” Toon Link finally spoke up. He mumbled a promise that he would play one of their games with them. That quickly calmed them down. He held all the kids in his arms for a while before putting them down. The kids sniffled and wiped their eyes; their breathing now quickly calming down. They all looked up at Snake as he looked back at them. None of them knew how to continue.

 

“H-Hey look! Megaman is also back!” Ness hiccuped also as he tried to calm down. He ran away from the group as all of the other kids followed the boy. Lucas trailed behind them before turning his head at Snake. The blond kid gave him a soft smile and a look in his eyes that Snake couldn't describe. He quickly ran back to rejoin the other group.

 

He gazed at the kids running and jumping as they all showered the super fighting robot with greetings and smiles. They've grown up… Snake thought as he felt the trows of sentimentality. He was immediately brought out of it when suddenly he was lifted off the ground. His legs dangling a few feet off it as muscular arms wrapped around his abdomen.

 

“Welcome back, jackass!” A loud, booming voice screamed into his ear. He knew who it was immediately.

 

“Hi Sammy,” He replied in a monotone voice. He was immediately dropped as he fell on his ass once more. Right after he picked himself up, a strong force hit him in the shoulder that sent him off balance.

 

“Welcome back punches,” Samus explained with a coy smile. He recognized that smile and he felt a chill go down his spine. “And for leaving us,” She tacked on at the end. Yep, he was bracing for that. He gripped the back of his neck in discomfort.

 

“Listen, Samus-”

 

“Nope, not gonna hear it. At least not right now…” She trailed off. Small droplets rolled down her cheek as she looked away from the man with a grin plastered. “I'll listen with some drinks tonight.” She smiled.

 

“Same time as always?” He asked with a smile of his own. Samus nodded as she wiped her eyes before slinging an arm around his neck.

 

“Anyway, we got quite a lot to catch up with…” Samus soon started to lead him to other fighters as she trailed on and on about what he had missed.

 

----

“I call top bunk!” Sonic screamed as he kicked the door open and dashed onto the bed with a bounce. Snake followed behind the hedgehog and fell to the bed below him. It was sunset when everyone decided to settle into their rooms. It was an entire day filled with welcoming old and new fighters and introducing themselves on repeat. It was essentially an extended assembly and Snake was sure that by now he's going to start subconsciously saying “The name's Snake” to anyone who even breathes in his direction.

 

The room was actually surprisingly large. It's larger than his and Hal’s old apartments, consisting of two private bathrooms, four closets, a large space meant for a wide-screen TV, and a fair-sized fridge. This place would've probably cost over 5 grand just to rent in NYC. Snake chuckled at that thought as he got up to get his stuff organized into a closet. His mind starts to wonder at how big the kids’ rooms are especially since he knows that several kids (Ness, Lucas, Toon Link, Villager, Young Link, Megaman, the two Ice Climbers, and the two inklings with Bowser Jr. opting to sleep with his siblings) sharing it. He shuddered at the thought of the mess. Placing all of those children in one large room is just asking for trouble.

 

“Who needs that many firearms?” Sonic questioned as he watched Snake place multiple guns, bazookas, and other numerous weapons into the closet. “Your collection could make a military blush,” He continued to comment.

 

“Says the one with 30 pairs of shoes,” Snake quipped. Sonic gasped in a very exaggerated tone before shutting his mouth with a huff. Snake chuckled as he placed his last sneaking suit into the closet. He took a step back and it sank in. He only has 5 days worth of casual clothing, and that's including the plain white shirt and gym shorts he has for pajamas. He sucked his teeth and shut the closet door. He really went overboard with his fighting attire and gear.

 

The creak of the door immediately brought an instinctive reaction from Snake as he pulled out his gun once more from its holster and pointed it at the door.

 

“Yep, so this is what karma gives me,” Ryu said in a monotone voice before placing his bag on an empty bed. Snake gave him an apologetic look while placing his gun away. He was going to have to get used to the casual noises here again.

 

“Don't worry, it means he likes you!” Sonic reassured.

 

“Are you sure about that?” Both men asked at the same time. They stared at each other for second and then proceeded to laugh. Ryu placed out a hand before properly introducing himself. Snake returned the handshake and did the same. The two soon started to exchange some details about who they were and their whereabouts. The two talked as if they were old friends. It kinda scared Snake.

 

“Hate to break up this meet and greet, but do any of you know who else is rooming with us?” Sonic interrupted. Both men shrugged.

 

“Probably Cloud,” Ryu suggested. Snake was just about to ask who he was when someone with insanely styled and spiky blond hair walked in carrying an enormous iron sword. Snake noted at how much he looked like those characters in Otacon’s animes.

 

“Here's the man of the hour!” Sonic cried out with a smile. Cloud looked at Snake for longer than what's socially acceptable and then placed his sword on the top bunk above Ryu’s bed. “Oh yeah, that's Snake,” Sonic pointed at Snake while Cloud seemed to ignore the hedgehog's words. “He was in the last Brawl with me, so no need to give him the newcomer treatment,” The teen continued to push Snake’s buttons.

 

“Hmm, I wonder what hedgehog soup tastes like?” Snake wondered as he looked at him in the eye. A chill ran down Sonic’s spine before awkwardly laughing. Cloud seemed to be unfazed. Snake figured he was one of those overly stoic and silent types. He made a mental note to keep guard. There was a tap on his shoulder.

 

Snake turned around and saw Cloud take out his hand. Snake shook it, noticing the strong grip Cloud hand. He introduced himself as the swordsman nodded.

 

“He only speaks Japanese,” Ryu clarified while tacking on that he understands English, but can't speak it.

 

“Anata wa nihongo o hanasu?” (You speak japanese?) Snake immediately asked. Cloud’s eyes lit up in surprise.

 

“Anata wa hijō ni ryūchō ni hanasu! Doko de manabimashita ka?” (You speak very fluently! Where did you learn?) Cloud asked with newfound joy.

 

“Watashi wa guntai ni iru toki ni sore o mananda.” (I learned it when I was in the army.)

 

“Nē, hejjihoggu o mushi shite hanashi o tsudzukemashou!” (Hey, let's ignore that hedgehog and keep talking!) Ryu soon joined as the three men began to talk amongst themselves in throws of laughter.

 

“Watashi mo nihongo o hanasu koto o wasuremashita ka?” (Did you forget that I speak Japanese too?) Sonic cut in, immediately silencing the entire room. Someone's snort breaking said silence till all four were heaving in laughter. Snake felt a warm feeling in his chest. The four continued to speak in Japanese as they all properly greeted each other and shared stories and adventures from where they came. Snake got all of their autographs for Otacon.

 

----

 

An hour or so passed before Snake realized he had to meet up with Samus at the underground bar. He excused himself much to the teasing from the other three as they assumed it was a date. ( Ha, would they be in for a shock. Snake thought as he left.) After one confusing walk around and asking a woman with long, green hair, he finally made his way to the bar.

 

He stepped into the dimly lit bar as the old wooden door creaked behind him. Despite the extensive remodeling of most of the building, it seems like the bar stayed the exact same. The only thing that changed was the lights, but given that the last time he saw them they were mostly broken; it was a given. Snake welcomed the familiar scent of alcohol and food as the doors closed. The jukebox’s music overshadowed by the idle conversation and laughter of other fighters. He scanned the area as he paced towards the stool next to Samus’.

 

“Why are you still wearing your tactical gear?” She asked; she wore a thin, green hoodie with black sweatpants. Her hair was tied in a loose ponytail. Snake looked at the other fighters as they all wore casual attire also.

 

“You never know,” Snake ominously responded, unable to muster up the real reason why he didn't change. She rolled her eyes. Mario popped up from under the counter and began to make their drinks. For Samus, a Classic Manhattan and for Snake, a dirty martini. (Shaken, not stirred.)

 

They swiftly chugged down their drinks before talking once more. Both of them catching up on lost time. Soon, a certain subject was brought up after they both ordered a shot.

 

“Anyways, how's Otacon?” She asked with the coy smile returning once more. She leaned in with the smile still on her face. He choked on his spit at the sudden shift in conversation.

 

“He's fine…” He responded. Samus raised an eyebrow. “Yes, we are together…” He huffed in embarrassment. She slammed a hand down on the wooden counter and howled. Other fighters snapped their necks to the sound as she gave them a sheepish smile.

 

“Finally! Took long enough!” She cried, placing her hands on her face. Back in the last Brawl, she was the one who confronted him about his hidden feelings for Hal as she noticed how much he would talk about his partner and the way they would communicate and the massive amounts of looks they shared when they would talk via webcam and- let's just say too many signs for an average person to not notice but not enough for Snake’s emotionally inept ass to get it. “Even the kids caught on for God’s sake!” she continued to remark.

 

Ness, Lucas, Toon Link and the Ice Climbers would make googly eyes whenever they spotted Snake talking to Otacon via codec. They were the few to not understand why people thought Snake and Samus were a couple. In their own words, “That's not who he's shooting for right now.” The kids and Samus basically took turns each day teasing the poor man.

 

Snake grunted while he guzzled down his shot.

 

“We even adopted a kid.” (“Awww…”) “Her name's Sunny.” (“Awww!”) He pulled out a photo from one of the pockets located on the left side of his chest. It was a photo they took when they had celebrated her third birthday. The three smiling at the camera with a fairly crude looking cake sat on the table in the middle. Samus carefully held the photo between her fingers as if it would disintegrate if she even put the slightest bit more force. Snake noticed that she looked closely at their hands.

 

“Are you guys married yet?” She questioned, still looking at the photo. Snake shook his head as he thanked Mario for refilling their shot glasses. Silence. Her brows began to furrow. She gave him back the photo.

 

"So... you've been with him for... how long?" Samus asked the rugged man. The bar's soft tunes filling the space between them.

 

"Uhm... several years," Snake responded casually.

 

"And you haven't proposed to him?" She asked for clarification rather than actual curiosity. Her fingers carefully wrapped around the shot glass.

 

"Yep," The one-word response hit Samus in the head. She groaned as she hid her face in her hands before snapping her head up and chugging the shot down.

 

"You're hopeless, wow. You know what you gotta do, right?" Her chin resting on the palm of her hand. Snake downed his shot also in response.

 

“Listen…"

 

“Nope! You listen to me. I have an idea,” Samus smiled as she fully faced him.

 

“You're drunk,”

 

“I'm not a lightweight and you know that. But you know you gotta do it,”

 

“Isn't it too early?” Snake deflected.

 

“Then when?” She asked, flatly. No joking tone or anything. “The perfect time will never come if you keep looking for it,” She whispered. Silence. Both were left with the weight of her words.

 

That was until Snake’s phone rang. He pulled it out of another pocket. Video call request from “Otacon <3”. They both agreed that in battle, Snake would contact him via codec, while they would casually talk on the phone. Samus hovered over his shoulder to see who it was. She smirked at the coincidence and at the name.

 

“Wow, you even added emoticons at the end…” She covered her smile with her hand. Snake glared at her as he mumbled some half-assed excuse. “Well…” She rolled her wrist in a circle. “Answer it…” She beckoned. He rolled his eyes and answered.

 

“Hey babe,” Snake greeted with a smile. (“Oh my god, that's so cute,”)

 

“I'm assuming you got there safely? Not that I thought otherwise…” Otacon backtracked.

 

“It's okay, you can admit you were worried, mom,” He joked back. Otacon stuck his tongue out at him with Snake doing the same in return. “Still, what's up? You need anything?”

 

“What? I can't say hello to my lovely boyfriend?” Otacon teased with a red tint appearing on his face. Both of them cringed at how childish the word sounded, but not like there was any other word to describe their relationship. (Samus had to bite her hand to prevent herself from saying anything.) Snake squinted at the other man.

 

“Fine, you got me.” Otacon raised his hands in defeat. “Sunny asked me if we could go to a small local water-park she saw on TV.” Snake nodded, still unsure why he called. “I... Subconsciously said ‘ask your father’....” He trailed off. Snake bit his lip to prevent himself from laughing, but a snort still escaped.

 

“You laugh! But she's been asking me all day to call you. She kept saying that he can't be busy for that long. I told her: “I beg to differ.” Wanna know what she said?” Otacon rhetorically asked.

 

“What?” He asked, barely containing his chuckle.

 

“She said: “Then beg.”

 

Snake laughed out loud. “Who taught her to say that?! Was it you?” Otacon frantically asked. Snake heaved over as he continued to laugh, barely able to hold the phone carefully. Samus equally trying hard to not make noise.

 

“Snake! Come on! I was so scared. I've never heard a child say something that ominous. That's why I called you now!” He frantically tried to defend himself, but that was lost on the laughing man. Tears falling down his cheeks.

 

Samus watched in awe at the man laughing. Sure, she had seen him chuckle, but to laugh this hard that he's crying. It's really weird. It's even weirder that Otacon seemed unfazed by how hard he was laughing. In fact, he seemed annoyed by it. She snorted at the domestic thought of the two constantly sharing jokes or quips that make them laugh so hard that they cry.

 

“Hey, Snake, who's that next to you?” Otacon asked. He organized himself as he looked at his phone. He figured that while laughing he must have turned his phone in her direction.

 

“Oh yeah, it's just Samus, don't worry,” Snake brushed off to which she huffed.

 

The Samus Aran?” She turned to face the phone.

 

“You know any other ones?” She asked with a raised eyebrow before taking a small sip of her shot. Otacon’s eyes lit up as a smile grew.

 

“I.. Uhm, oh my god, it's a- it's a pleasure to meet you!” Otacon babbled through flustered words.

 

“Hey Otacon, don't piss yourself,” Snake taunted which stopped the man from talking.

 

“Don't worry, I won't… Snake beater…” He retorted back with such confidence. Samus watched from the sidelines, taking another sip. Otacon looked away from the screen. “Hey... Are you done watching the movie? Don't worry, I gotcha,” Otacon spoke softly off-screen. A small heave can be heard as he lifted a little girl onto his lap.

 

“Hi, Sunny. How are you?” Snake asked. She kept staring at something else. Snake noticed it. “Oh, this is my friend, Samus.” Samus looked back at the little girl as she gave a small wave along with a soft “hello”. She was in shock at how adorable she actually was. Sunny smiled back before turning back to Snake.

 

“I-I wanna go to-to the water-park with dad.” She asked in a stern tone, despite her small stutter weakening it. Snake smiled.

 

“Of course you can go.” He permitted. Sunny’s smile grew wider as she looked up at Otacon with her hands clasped together. She jumped off his lap and ran off. A “thank you” and an “I love you” can be heard in the distance. Otacon shook his head and sighed as he watched her run away.

 

“Guess I'll have to get ready for a water-park trip,” He gave in with a sigh.

 

“It hasn't even been a day yet, hun. You sure you got this?” Snake questioned. He never doubted Hal, but the teasing was fun.

 

“I'm fine, we just miss you.” Otacon gave a tired smile to which Snake reciprocated. “It must be late where you are. I'll leave you two be,” Otacon stretched his arms with a yawn punctuating his sentence.

 

“Same here, especially since you also have to get ready. Take pictures while you two are there,” Snake smirked as Otacon groaned and placed his face into his hands. “I love you,”

 

“I love you too, Snake,” Snake kissed the tips of his two fingers before pressing it against the screen as Otacon did the same with a serene smile. Both men hesitant to hang up and when they did, it didn't matter who it was that hung up first.

 

Snake watched as the “Ended Call” screen faded away to Otacon’s contact page. His phone still gripped tightly in his hand.

 

“Ahem.” Snake looked at the bounty hunter. That damn cocky smile she had. “You still think it's too early?” Her arms were crossed. Her fingers tapping her biceps. Snake grunted to which Samus took as a reluctant agreement. “Like I said, I have an idea,” She continued. “There's a huge picnic-barbeque type thing occurring next week. Some kind of “moment for bonding” type event the hands are doing,” She said in air quotes.

 

“And?”

 

“Propose there! In front of all of the other universal icons! Ask the hands if you can bring a plus one and they'll let you!”

 

“Where am I gonna get a ring!?”

 

“Peach has more than enough jewelry to spare. I’m sure the romantic in her will be kind enough to give you one. Or at the very least tell you someone who does. She's never gonna say no!” She cried with the confidence that could make a superhero blush. Snake shrugged his shoulders before looking back at his drink. She eyed the soldier up and down.

 

“If you're not comfortable with marriage yet, then that's fine. I didn't mean to sound force-”

 

“No, you're right,” Samus looked at him in shock. Snake looked back at the bounty hunter; his hands gripping the end of the counter tightly.

 

“I want to get married,” Snake said looking away from her. He leaned over and rested his forehead on his right palm. His left hand still gripping the counter. “I just never thought I'd get this far…” He soon trailed off.

 

Samus placed a comforting hand on top of his left before slightly gripping it to ground him. Snake had told her stories about the wars he's experienced and all the people he's loved and lost. The two bonding through a mutual struggle to cope and keep moving forward. In fact, it was in one of those conversations that she realized Snake’s feelings for Otacon when he said that even through all of it, Otacon was consistently there for him.

 

“You kept holding back in case he decides to leave you too, isn't that it?” She flatly noted. The silence from the soldier serving as his agreement. She sighed before letting go. “Hey,” She said in a stern tone. “Look at me,” Snake turned to her. She faced her entire body to her as he leaned her side against the bar counter.

 

“That man right there,” She pointed at the phone. “I can tell you that he loves you to bits and pieces. You two got something really special that not many people can say they have.” She put a hand on his shoulder.

 

“I understand that you're scared and knowing all the shit you've been through, that's completely valid. If you're not ready then that's fine. But what I'm saying is…. is that…” She paused to find the right words. “Let yourself live,” She ended with a smile and retracting her hand with a firm tap.

 

She turned back towards the counter as she watched the man's almost unreadable expression. Samus decided to let him process what she said as she took another shot. The silence both, simultaneously, suffocating and comforting to the pair.

 

“When's the get-together?” Snake suddenly asked.

 

“Uhm… next week,” She began to take another drink.

 

“I'll do it,” She choked on her drink at that response causing Snake to repeatedly hit her back, hard. She swatted his hand away as she slowly reformed herself. Coughing fits of “I'm fine” barely escaping her lips.

 

“Didn't expect that so soon…” She coughed out as the rugged man chuckled.

 

“Well, guess I'm still full of surprises,” He commented. He heard a ping from his phone. It was a good night text from Otacon. He quickly responded and that's when he saw the time. “Oh fuck, it's 12 already?” Samus sat up straight while stretching her arms and back.

 

“Welp, I guess we should get going. If I'm here any longer, my liver isn't gonna like it and neither am I in the morning. And on top of that, matches for veterans start tomorrow. The newcomers get another day to adjust,” She elaborated as she pulled out some money as a tip for money with Snake following suit.

 

“It's okay, you can say you're afraid of me,” Snake teased as he got up and stretched also, thanking Mario for his service.

 

“Glad you're back, Snake,” A genuine smile appearing.

 

“David,” He cut off. “My real name's David, Samus,” He reiterated. Her mouth formed an O-shaped as she understood.

 

“Welp, Dave, ” Emphasizing his name. “Glad you're back,” They both smiled as they wrapped an arm around each other, alcohol kicking in as they both belted out whatever show tune was playing in the background. The two tease each other about their poor singing.

 

Somewhere through her drunken haze, Samus remembered the real reason she asked Snake to come and drink. She pushed it away and decided that she'll confront him at a better time. Right now, Snake, no- Dave was finally back and that's all that matters right now.

Chapter Text

Dave stared at the bed above him throughout most of the night. Even after all of those drinks, he only slept for about 4 hours. The simple digital clock that was on the dresser next to him read 4:43 AM. He inwardly cursed the branch that was tapping on the window. He also cursed Foxhound for training his brain to be so wary of any noise. It took him several months to get used to the casual noises Hal brought with him when he first moved in. Now he's gotta get used to here where there are dozens of people and hundreds of casual noises along with it. He groaned into his pillow.

 

Oh yeah, he almost forgot about what he was planning on doing next week. He felt a strong pit in his stomach at that thought. It's not that Dave and Hal hadn't ever discussed marriage. There had been several times, during late night cuddles, where they discussed a domestic life after Metal Gear. It was, at the time, a garden dream more than anything. When Sunny had joined them, the idea became closer to what they both wished for. Plus, Sunny tends to point that out a lot.

 

-----

“You and papa... love each other, r-right?” She had once asked Hal during a walk in the park.

 

“Yes, of course! What's wrong?” Hal asked. Sunny looked pensive at a couple who was walking their dog and child in front of them.

 

“Why don't you t-two have rings like them?” She bluntly asked as she pointed a finger at the couple in front. Hal and Dave both blushed as Hal lightly swatted her hand back down as he mentioned how it's rude to point.

 

“We'll talk about that later,” Hal responded with. Later never came, at least for Sunny. That same night after she had gone to bed, Hal laid against Dave's chest. They laid on the couch, watching some action movie that was airing. The smell of popcorn and crunching permeating the room. Hal had barely paid the movie any attention when he spoke up.

 

“About… earlier today,” Hal started. Dave looked at the man in anticipation. “Y’know… Uhm… the whole marriage thing she kept talking about…” He stuttered through his words. Dave grabbed another hand full of popcorn.

 

“What about it?” Dave asked, putting the handful into his mouth.

 

“If we could, would you want to get engaged?” Dave stopped chewing. “I-I mean… uhm… What I meant to say- I know we don't need rings, a cake, or a party to prove we love each other… but…” Hal finding difficulty in saying what he wants to say. Dave had thought about a dream where he and Hal were able to host a wedding. But that was just that. A dream. But being confronted by that possibility of that dream being foreseen, it knocked Dave off balance.

 

“If we could do that, would I want to?” Dave finished for him.

 

“Yeah, that's what I meant,” Hal thanked Dave for finishing his thought. To Dave, legality wasn't a concern. They could always just go to a state that allowed it. Neither was discrimination. To hell what other people thought of them. So, what was stopping them?

 

Wouldn't getting married be the perfect fairytale ending? An ex-super soldier and his genius partner getting married after accomplishing so much, from founding Philanthropy to raising a kid. It seemed perfect. Almost too perfect. Snake didn't believe he deserved a fairytale ending.

 

“You know I can't imagine a future without you. When I said that I wanted to live life, I wanted to live it with you,” Dave confessed. Hal lifted himself up and sat on his lap, facing the man. He wrapped his arms around his neck.

 

“Neither can I,” Hal leaned in slowly as his lips carefully brushed against Dave's as if asking for permission. Dave leaned forward, placing more pressure on the kiss. Neither of them stopping as if it was their lifeline. It certainly felt like it. It scared both of them how much they needed each other. But yet, it comforted them just the same.

 

---

 

Dave remembered that moment as he gazed out the window where the tree branch continued to tap much to his annoyance. He contemplated calling Hal and seeing how he was, but he never got the chance to ask how time zones were like and even then, he would probably be taking Sunny to that park she wanted to go to.

He really did love Hal. He really wanted to marry him. Now the question was how he was gonna do it? He turned to his side, attempting to go to sleep one last time. With that question in mind, he did.

 

“Hey! Snake! Wake up!” Someone screamed as they kept shaking him back and forth. Instinctively, Snake gripped whatever it was that was shaking him. “Ow ow ow ow! You can let go!” Snake continued to hold onto to the person's arm as he sat up straight. He hit his head against the other bunk, forgetting he was sleeping in a bunk bed. It was Sonic, of course. Snake grimaced at the hedgehog as he became more aware of a pounding headache he was feeling. He looked at the clock. 9:45. Fuck.

 

“Yeah, I came to wake you up before breakfast was over.” Sonic pulled his arm out of the man's grip, shaking it in pain. “Might wanna get ready fast, you have a match against Wolf at 11:15,” Sonic winked as he sped out the door. Snake grunted something before stretching and started to put on his sneaking suit and gear. God, he regretted drinking last night. He needed coffee. 

 

“Oh, Snake! You're a bit late, aren't you?” Peach remarked as she reorganized the breakfast buffet table. Snake didn't even notice that the dining hall was mostly empty, minus the one or two fighters that were still eating.

 

“Woke up late,” Snake replied as he poured some pre-made pancake batter into the waffle iron. Peach giggled at that.

 

“Glad I told Sonic to wake you up,” She confessed with another giggle. He stared at the princess with a sharp glance as she simply kept the coy smile on her face. He suddenly remembered what he discussed with Samus yesterday.

 

“Ah, Ms. Peach-”

 

“Just Peach is fine,”

 

“Well, Peach… after all your matches for the day are over, can I ask of you a favor?” He asked as he felt his heart in his throat. Peach looked up from the plates she was straightening with her eyes wide.

 

“Do you need a lighter? You do remember there's no smoking here.” She reaffirmed with a cock to her hips. Snake waved her back.

 

“No, I clearly remember,” R.O.B had taken away one of his packs when they arrived. Little did any of them know he hid one in his stomach, but that's beside the point. “It's actually something kinda important and I feel like you could… have insight…” He stumbled in his mind how to describe his urgency without frightening her.

 

“Can't you tell me right now if it's really important?”

 

“I’d like to discuss it carefully and in detail,” He clarified. He watched the princess’ expression as her smile dropped a bit. “It's nothing bad, I promise! It's actually… fairly… romantic…” He trailed off, unable to find a word that describes his situation. She immediately perked up with stars in her eyes.

 

“I can see why you need my help!” She exclaimed with her hands clasped together in happiness. “I'll find you when I'm done with my matches for the day!” She carried the empty dishes to the backroom with a hop in her step. He exhaled a breath he didn't know he was holding in before realizing his waffles were burning. It was gonna be a torturous time till then.

--

 

Typically, from Monday to Friday, is when the matches are to take place. Weekends for recreational downtime or for more casual matches if wanted. It's 4 matches a day, 3 singles matches and 1 doubles match. No items and only on “tournament legal” stages, best ⅔, 1.0x launch rate. Through this, you're bound to fight against each person at least once. After that cycle against all fighters is over, the results are then culminated by the hands and there they produce a tier list. The cycle starts a new and so on and so forth and the tier list constantly updating.

 

Snake sighed as he watched the clock hit 11. The rules on repeat in his head. His first match is against Wolf and he's not really worried. The cockier of fighters here are more concerned with their placing on the tier list. Even a single placement drop and they freak out. Snake just couldn't find it within himself to care how he places on the battlefield. He has enough confidence in himself to not need his skills to be validated by a vaguely calculated number. He knows the same is with Wolf from their previous talks. 

 

Snake wandered around the hallway where the matches are taking place. There are two floors where matches occur, one “for fun” where the more lucrative and chaotic stages are allowed along with items. The other floor is “for glory” where the mandatory matches are held or for those wanting to settle a dispute.

 

7 numbered doors lined the hallway on the west side and 7 more on the opposite side. There's a cut through the center of the building for convenience so people don't have to go down a floor and back up to get to the other side. They were all currently in use.

 

“Snake!” Wolf cried out. He turned to the origin of the voice where he saw Wolf walking towards the man. He really got a complete makeover, sporting a new purple vest and new armor.

 

“Wolf!” Snake stuck out his hand and Wolf grabbed it and shaking it.

 

“Glad to see you back,” Wolf commented.

 

“The feeling’s mutual,” Snake had formed an odd acquaintance with the space mercenary back in the last Brawl. While he was still confident and fairly cocky much like the other villains, there's a suave attitude and charm to him that separates Wolf from the bunch, being the only one bearable to hold a conversation with.

 

“Our match starts in 10 minutes, I'll see you in room 3 when we start,” Wolf walked away to the other side of the building with an offhand wave. Snake waited until he was out of hearing range before tapping his codec on. One ring. Then another. And then another. And then-

 

“Snake! I'm sorry for not responding earlier!” Otacon apologized, seemingly out of breath. Snake couldn't see him, but he figured he was with Sunny at the park.

 

“I'm not interrupting or anything?”

 

“No, we're eating,” Snake heard some light chewing noises. “Do you need anything?”

 

“Yea, I need all the intel you got on Wolf,” He heard the shuffling of a bag followed by light clicking tapping. 

 

“He's changed a lot since the last Brawl,”

 

“Hmrngh, I've noticed… He's got all of this new armor and tech on him. He's even gotten a wardrobe change,” Snake commented.

 

“That’s not all, he's a lot faster on his feet and with his claws,” Otacon also noted, earning a growl from Snake.

 

“Looks like he's not the same as before, huh?”

 

“But neither are you! You still have a lot of tricks up your own sleeve, Snake! Those weapons and CQC training you got are nothing to laugh at! Now get out there and show him that a Snake is more than its bite!” Otacon laughed at his own cheesy pun. Snake smiled at his lover’s optimism.

 

“Thanks, babe, maybe afterward I can show you what a Snake can do with its bite, huh?”

 

“Sigh, you can't be serious right now,” Otacon ended the call. Snake smirked at his own quip. 5 more minutes before his match. Some fighters already leaving the rooms as their matches have ended.

 

Room 3 is still in use with only a minute left on the clock as shown on the screen to the right of the door. His phone beeped as he saw an attachment and message from Otacon with it. It was a spreadsheet on Wolf and his moveset and other information like his fall, walk, and run speed. “GL, hun" it read.

 

Snake stared at his phone, a shine was bright in his eye as he admired Otacon’s little mannerisms. He was in love with him so much. He loved how he could tease him and how he can punch back with his own quips. He loved at how supportive he was even when they’re so far away. He always loved whenever Otacon would info-dump. There was something so admirable about Otacon’s passion and he loved it. He felt his fingers shaking at the wave of emotion that hit him. Snake took a large breath in. Pause. Then out. He quickly responded Otacon with his own set of emoticons.

 

Invigorated with a sudden surge of optimism from Otacon, he walked to his match with a newfound stride in his step.

 

-----

 

He plopped onto his bed, sweat-matted onto his head. His chest rose and fell as he kept breathing heavily. Nearly all of his matches were back to back and most of them were really close. He barely won against Wolf in the first one. He lost the second match against Rosalina. She was able to manipulate gravity and pull most of his items and nullify them. Her floatiness only infuriated Snake more since she was able to juggle him in the air. By then he still had 2 more matches and he wasn’t looking forward to it.

 

His final singles match was against R.O.B and he was very intrigued by the item play between the two, though he was able to get the upper hand and win. He was going to have to look at the replay and study it. In the doubles, it was him and Sheik versus Kirby and Pit. He found himself thankful for being paired with the ninja since she was quite the fast thinker. While he did say he never cared about tiers, he still wanted to try in his matches. But trying to keep up with her was still a large amount of work.

 

He continued to heave as he watched the clock. 6:30. Shit. He just remembered. The ring. Snake grabbed a towel he left on the bed and wiped down his face, throwing it around his neck. There was a faint increase in his heart rate the more he thought about asking Peach for help. At this point, it was impossible to be able to call it off. It’s not like he can say to Peach, “Oh yeah, nevermind, I don’t need help!” He had already caught her interest when he mentioned the word romance to her. Plus, he didn’t want to stop. He really wanted to propose. Snake pushed himself off his bed and out the door, in search for the princess.

 

He didn’t make it far out the door before he heard the swift clacking of heels behind him.

 

“Snake! I finished my matches!~” He heard Peach call out in a sing-song voice. She skids to a halt in front of the man as they made eye contact. Snake could swear he could see sparkles in her eyes. The soldier looked up and down the empty hallway before returning his attention to her.

 

“Do you mind if we talk somewhere private? I like it to be kept between us,” He muttered as he continued to make sure there wasn’t anyone near them. She nodded rapidly, walking ahead of him to her room. The only thing that could be heard was his soft walking and the clacking of her heels. She held the door open for the man as he walked in.

 

She plopped down on her bed, patting the spot next to her. He took the note and sat next to her. The pastel colored room was oddly calming. Peach, Zelda, Daisy, and Rosalina shared it and he chuckled at how all the princesses were put together.

 

“Tea?” She asked as she held up a warm kettle and a small cup in another hand. Both items basically came out of thin air.

 

“Sure?” The sound of the liquid filling up the cup was comforting as she handed the cup to him on a small plate. Any anxiety he had was soothed by the warmth that cradled his hands. The rush of hot liquid ran down his throat like a warm hug. Peppermint. He let out a sigh once it settled, feeling a warm glow rush to his face. A wide smile was on her face at the sight of his appreciation.

 

“I’m glad you liked it… Anyway, what did you need?” She laid on her stomach with her feet kicking in the air, her chin resting on her knuckles. Shit. Anxiety came back and knocking hard. His fingers gripped the cup’s handle tightly.

 

“Ah, yes… This is really embarrassing to ask…” He grumbled, looking away from her. She hummed.

 

“Take your time…” She shut her eyes, her legs still kicking.

 

“I need… a ring…” Her legs immediately stilled. Her eyes wide open.

 

“What?”

 

“A ring… I need a ring.” She sat back, her mouth agape.

 

“What kind of ring?” She asked with an awkward chuckled, fiddling her hair. Snake knew he had to come clean. There wasn’t a point of beating around the bush.

 

“A wedding ring…” There was an unnerving silence. He coughed, continuing, “I plan on… proposing to someone… next week… during the picnic….” He kept pausing, unable to fully realize that the words that were coming out were real. There was quickly a loud screech. He cringed at the shrill sound. Peach was jumping up and down with a little skip in between. Her dress twirled around. Snake took another sip of tea.

 

“Ahh! Oh my God! I can’t believe it! That’s so…” She let out a large squeal. “Adorable!” She raised her arms in the air. Snake quickly started to shush her and wave her down.

 

“Listen, keep quiet. I’m trying to keep it a secret!” He whispered through gritted teeth. She stopped immediately, sitting back down beside him. She straightened her dress and sat upright, placing a finger on her lips with a smile.

 

“Is there a specific style you’re looking at?” She pulled out a pen and pad out of nowhere, looking at him with great intent. Snake felt himself start to sweat. There are styles? Snake wondered. With a light smack of her lips, she pulled a book from under her bed and started to flip through the pages, slamming her finger on a page. Snake scanned the images on it as he looked at all of the different types.

 

Snake hummed as he tried to imagine which one would look well on Hal’s fingers. He closed his eyes and imagined Hal typing on his laptop with the lights off. The soft, blue glow illuminating his best features. He imagined himself gazing at those fingers meticulously typing, with a ring at the base of one of them, reflecting against the light. He felt his cheeks heating up at the revere. But even then, he couldn’t see a set style. Peach saw his desperation and began to explain the meanings of each style. But, that still doesn’t seem to help. She tapped her chin and perked up once more.

 

“Okay, tell me what they’re like!”

 

“What they’re like? Well…” Snake quickly started to list all of Hal’s attributes: his kindness, his sarcasm, his mental strength, his perseverance, but yet how he likes the seemingly mundane things and how he likes really niche things-

 

“I got it!” She cried out, shuffling through pages and pages. “A girl-next-door type look, of course!” She stopped at a simple engagement band, a classic solitaire with 3 stones. “Something simple, yet oddly special to the person! Quite romantic!” She chimed. Snake hummed in agreement. Hal would look wonderful in it.

 

“Would you like the stone to be a certain color?” I thought diamonds can't be different colors? “Well, they can custom-made, plus anything is possible here!” She winked. He must have said that out loud.

 

“Blue?” Peach nodded as she scribbled stuff down on her notepad.

 

“A light royal blue would fit the silver…” She mumbled, continuing to write. She jumped up once more. “Oh! Would you like something engraved into it?” He immediately knew what to put.

 

“Is there a character limit?”

 

“Less than 30 letters is fine!” Snake started to count the letters in his head and with his fingers. He wasn't sure if spaces counted and he hoped not when he was done. 28 letters.

 

“Love can bloom on the battlefield,” Peach stared. “Can you do that?” Peach shook her head rapidly, her hand covering her mouth. There were tears in the corner of her eyes.

 

“That's so romantic…” She hiccuped. Snake tried to calm her down, but she was too caught up in the romanticism of it all. “I'm fine!” She wiped her eyes, fortunate that her makeup was waterproof. “Alright, I think that's all. You don't mind me asking who it is?” She winked with a sly smirk.

 

“I'm a man of mystery and surprise, you'll see who it is…” Snake really just didn't want to tell her so it would spread. The least he can try to do is surprise him. Peach huffed before placing her book away. “So how much-”

 

“Nope!” She pressed a finger against his lips, pushing away the wallet Snake was pulling out. “I'll make it for you, free of charge!” She smiled with her teeth. “I need to sharpen my skills anyway!” Snake was just baffled at how she knew how to smolder and make jewelry, but he didn't question it. She was a woman of many talents. “I'll have it to you in a couple of days before the picnic!” Snake profusely thanked her as he rapidly shook her hand on his knees. Peach blushed and tried to wave him away.

 

He was one step closer to his goal and he was beyond ecstatic.

 

Chapter Text

Snake was surprised to have actually woken up on time. 8:15 AM. Walking down to the main foyer, he saw his first match wasn't until 12. He might as well eat breakfast. Heading to the dining hall, there was still the feeling of anxiety in his throat from last night. He wasn’t even sure if yesterday had happened. But he was positive it had when he walked into the dining hall and Peach stared at him with a coy smile. He shot her a glance, his flip-flops clicking across the floor as he made his way to the breakfast table. He grabbed his usual breakfast, consisting of waffles, coffee, and sunny-side up eggs.

 

Seeing as his first match wasn’t until noon, he didn’t bother changing. Neither did Samus, Marth, or Ike.

 

“Mornin’ Snake…” Samus greeted as the two swordsmen followed also. Snake and Samus sat next to each other while Marth and Ike sat across, drowsiness was clearly written across all of their faces. He greeted them all back as he accommodated himself. Their table was filled with different breakfasts. Samus getting simply a bowl of cereal and some fruit. Marth opting for a boiled egg, a breakfast roll and a glass of milk. Ike… well, he had large arrangements of meat like bacon and sausages and a glass of orange juice.

 

Despite through their drowsy haze, they all still made idle chatter about their matches yesterday and what happened and other minor chatter. Even though Snake still was tired, his instincts were still sharp. He felt someone constantly watch him. No. Several eyes on him.

 

“Snake!” Samus called him out, shaking his shoulder. He looked down at his waffles that were now overflowing with syrup. “You good?” Snake shut the cap and placed it back on the table with a grumble.

 

“Yeah, I feel like someone watching me.” He responded, taking a bite into his soggy waffle.

 

“The Princesses have been staring at you for a while,” Ike nonchalantly noted, taking a bite of Marth’s roll, which earned him a smack on the hand from the prince. Snake whipped his head to the table on the far left side of the room. He briefly made eye contact with Peach before she quickly looked away and acted like nothing happened. He can tell by their not-so-obvious attempts at being subtle that they were gossiping. Snake dug his face into his hands.

 

Granted, he didn't tell her to keep it a secret, but he gave the benefit of the doubt and assumed she would. But if he was into gossip, had a rugged soldier with the reputation for being slightly brooding and asked him to smolder a ring, he'd probably be the first in line to tell others.

 

Samus stared at the man as he continued to groan. Marth and Ike simply looked at each other in confusion.

 

“Yeah, I'm confused too. I walked by and heard something about “smoldering” and a “ring” or something. Not sure what that has to do with you,” Ike continued as he tried to sneak a piece of Marth’s egg. Samus gave Snake a sharp smile. Snake groaned once more. He wasn't sure how long he was gonna keep it a secret.

 

------

 

It was the afternoon when he was up for his last match for the day which was a doubles match. He took a glance at the bracket in the main foyer and saw that he was paired with… Sonic. He cursed under his breath. Huffing, Snake made his way to find the hedgehog. Despite being the fastest thing alive, he had a tendency to be late.

 

Scanning one of the major recreation centers, (which is just a large couch and a widescreen TV with various video games and DVD players connected to it) he looked for the familiar sight of blue fur.

 

The sound of overlapping chatter killed the quiet static of the TV. Turning to the source, it was just Pit, Link, Ike, and (speak of the devil) Sonic walking down the hallway. Snake sighed at the sight, now knowing his location.  He was about to call the hedgehog out when he noticed something odd. His body language was different.

 

Typically whenever he walked, Sonic would always walk with his hands behind his head and walked in a stride with large steps, making his presence known. But as Snake observed him, he noticed how Sonic was kind of hugging his chest. His arms were a lot closer to his body. His steps were smaller and he kinda wavered behind the group. Odd. Really odd.

 

In an attempt to make out what was going on, he eavesdropped on their conversation, sitting on the couch to avoid being spotted. Mentions of “Subspace” and “Tabuu” were heard and with each mention, Sonic got more and more uncomfortable, lips shut tight.

 

“Yeah, at least we put up a fight, unlike someone,” Pit remarked, eyeing Sonic at the emphasis of the last word. Sonic gripped his arms, screwing his eyes shut before dashing away from the group and towards his room, leaving a blue afterimage in his wake.

 

----

 

He ended up following the teen to their room. Sonic had slammed the door shut behind him before Snake got there. With his hand on the doorknob, he debated on opening it. It could be that he's getting ready. Or he's taking a nap. Though he can't remember the last time he left a group of his friends to take a nap.

 

He found the resolve to open the door when he heard quiet sniffling. He jiggled the knob to test the waters, the sniffling immediately stopped at the sound. He opened the door to find Sonic sitting on Snake’s bed, furiously rubbing his eyes.

 

“H-Hey Snake… lovely day we're having!” Sonic greeted with a forced smile.

 

“Why are you rubbing your eyes?”

 

“Haha, allergies y’know! Pollen and stuff…” Sonic continued to rub them, moving away from Snake’s direction. Snake rolled his eyes at the obvious lie.

 

“Allergies, huh? Don't know how you can get allergies all of a sudden after running away,” Sonic stopped moving. “Yeah, I saw you running away from your circle of friends,” Sonic put his hands down, head hanging, not wanting to look at the man.

 

“Go away…” Sonic softly pleated. Snake shook his head.

 

“Can't, we got a match in half an hour or so. I can't lose you now,” Snake commented in a soft chuckle. Sonic sucked his teeth as he curled into a ball, feet resting on the edge of the bed. He debated on running past him, but he knew Snake would just follow him. The soldier lowered his smile and sat down next to the blue blur, basically trapping him. “So what's wrong?” Snake asked, watching the hedgehog roll more into a ball. The hedgehog began to tremble as Snake heard whimpers. He wasn't sure what to do. He kept quiet.

 

“I'm an awful person…” Sonic muttered out. Snake flinched at the sudden shift in tone. His words didn't match Sonic’s typical confidence. “You said you saw everything?” Snake nodded. “What Pit said… about putting up a fight…” Snake nodded once more. “He was talking about me…”

 

Snake remembered the events of subspace. Tabuu’s attempt to plunge the world into darkness by using those shadow bugs and to turn everyone into essentially stone. The joint effort of everyone to stop Tabuu. Though, he did remember how Sonic joined the fight last minute. Oh.

 

“The fight with Tabuu… I hate myself… maybe if I wasn't so selfish-”

 

“What are you talking about?”

 

“You know how it seemed I came out of nowhere… I was so scared and stupid. Maybe if I wasn’t such an asshole and not let my pride consume me…”

 

Snake tried to piece together what he was going on about. He does remember a bit about Sonic coming out of seemingly nowhere and being able to damage Tabuu. Now that he thought about it… He does remember people harping on Sonic when he came back. Certain fighters calling the hedgehog out on not being there to help earlier and that it was his fault Tabuu had gotten that far with his plans. Snake vaguely remembered Sonic just brushing it off with a quip of his own. He never thought it would build up that far.

 

“I knew what Tabuu was doing and I still fucking denied help.” Sonic slammed a hand on the bed. “Me and my stupid pride! Back at home people see me as this hero! Y’know… to be the one to always save the day! I can’t show any fear and I have to seem all stoic and shit. I let that get to me and people got hurt. All because I wanted to be the hero…” Sonic vented out, hot tears rolling down his cheeks at the end of each self-deprecating notion.

 

Snake was suddenly hit with a wave of deja-vu. The events of when he first met Hal flooded his brain. He remembers clearly the tears and cries of self-blame because he built REX and the fact he was basically being used without knowing. Even after the events of Shadow Moses, Hal still carried a lot of self-deprecating tendencies with him. While Hal still carries some of that with him, he's far more independent and has found strength in his own unique way.

 

But this was different. Snake watched the hedgehog screw his eyes shut, fingers gripping his fur, almost ripping it. Snake placed a hand on his head to ground him. A realization hit Snake harder than a train. Sonic was a kid. He couldn’t have been any more than 17 and yet, he still carried this weight on his shoulders. A knot began to form in Snake’s throat. No kid should be holding that pain. Snake started to stroke the top of the teen’s head. Even if he doesn’t remember much detail about Subspace or ever held a grudge against Sonic because of it, he still didn’t warrant this burden. Never in his life would he have imagined that he’d be comforting a crying, blue hedgehog, but here he was.

 

He stopped sniffling out of the shock of the touch from the soldier.

 

“Everyone here has their own regrets,”

 

“Ha… what regrets could you possibly have, old man?” Snake paused.

 

“I got many, kid. I regret leaving this place back in Brawl for starters.” Sonic looked up at the man in confusion.

 

“Oh yeah… that… Why did you leave?” Snake squeezed the bridge of his nose.

 

“Most people I tend to get close to… end up worse than before. Here, everyone just accepted me like family. I was scared, to say the least. If something were to happen to me, I don’t think I could’ve handled the pain and guilt of the others. So, I got up and left,” Snake calmly elaborated, leaving out the details of how he left and got home. Or the fact he told Hal they sent him home.

 

“Ah, yeah, some people were mad. You don’t know how long it took them to calm down, especially Samus and the kids…” Sonic timidly chuckled at the end, remembering the commotion and drama that occurred after everyone was fully aware that he wasn’t coming back. Some were indifferent, some saddened, some just confused. But it was Samus and the kids who were hurt the most. Sonic kept his mouth shut as he thought about how he could tell they still had a small grudge. “So, why did you come back?”

 

“Like I was saying, instead of wallowing in my own pity, I decided to return and do something constructive. I always told myself to just live, but I tend to have a habit of not necessarily following my advice. So I decided to not worry about what could happen or what I should’ve done… That’s when I decided to come back.” Sonic just watched the soldier with a shine in his eyes.

 

“This is what I’m trying to tell you, hindsight is always 20/20. You could spend the rest of your days worrying about what you should’ve or could’ve done… or you could put your best effort every day and just… how you say… live and learn?” Sonic snorted at that reference, a weak smile slowly appearing on his face, playfully shoving Snake. The teen wiped his eyes and took a deep breath.

 

“The best you can do is prove to others that you can be trusted and help them. You can start with me. I need you to be at full capacity for this doubles match or else we will lose.” Snake clapped a hand hard on his back, a small grunt escaping the teen’s lips. “You think you can prove to me that I can trust you?”

 

Sonic looks at the man with tears trickling down his face, small dribbles of snot were rolling down his nose. He wiped it with the back of his hand before delivering a determined nod with a smile. There’s that classic smile. Snake thought, trying to push back that instinctual fatherly pride.

 

“Good, now get ready, we start in 5…” Snake got up and began to slowly walk out the door.

 

“Snake…” His foot is barely out of the door frame when the teen calls out for him. Snake turned his head to him, his hand gripping the door frame.

 

“Are you gonna tell the others… about why you left?” There’s a pause. He ponders that for a second.

 

“I am. That’s part of my mission here… to make amends…” He continued to walk out.

 

“Wait! Snake!” He groaned as he took a step back to see what he wanted.

 

“Thanks for the talk, Snake,”

 

“You can call me Dave,” A wide smile slowly started to appear on Sonic’s face. His eyes shining brightly once more. It was much like one Sunny would have whenever either him or Otacon would praise her eggs.  

 

-----

 

“Aw yeah! We did it!” Sonic hopped out of the area with a large bounce as he punched the air, walking ahead of Snake. Snake laid his arms behind his head, smiling at the hedgehog’s happiness. Sonic enthusiastically described how the match went, using his entire body to recreate the match. “Man, that kick you did that sent Fox flying; so cool!” Sonic mimicked the kick, lifting his entire leg in the air, nearly falling over as Snake held him up to not fall over.

 

The teen praised their teamwork as he continued to ramble, nearly forgetting to shake both Fox and Jigglypuff’s hands. It took a hit from the back of his head to remember his manners. He immediately resumed the praise once they left. Snake rolled his eyes as he followed behind the blue blur.

 

“Anyway, do I have your trust?” Sonic sarcastically asked, lightly jabbing Snake’s side. He scoffed.

 

“Eh, you’re getting there,” Sonic stopped in his tracks, a fake gasp filling the room. He waited for Sonic to catch up before rubbing his head. They both walked down the hallway in a silent companionship. Sonic once again walking in stride.

 

Sonic spoke up, “Hey, D-Dave?” Sonic stuttered at the mention of the name as if treading on an unmarked territory. Snake muttered something in response.

 

“Are you gonna talk to Samus and the kids?” Snake stayed silent. “I mean, I'm working on my part…” No response.

 

“Samus just finished her last match also before us…” He said with a rise in his voice, eyebrows waggling.

 

“I'll catch up with you then,”

 

“Alright, don't stay out too late,” Sonic waved him away with a smirk and a wink. Snake rolled his eyes and sprinted down the hallway in search for her.

 

-----

 

The sound of rapid footsteps echoed throughout the corridor. His breath rising and falling as he walked throughout the place. This place was way too big and it annoyed him. He was sure he passed by the same door several times and-

 

“Shit, Dave! Are you ok?” Samus called out, both of them bumping into each other. Snake profusely apologized as he realized he was in a small kitchen. Samus retained her balance and picked up her cup of coffee from the table beside them. She was still wearing her Zero Suit.

 

“Yeah… I'm fine,” Snake responded. Samus raised an eyebrow and took a sip and sighed.

 

“You want a cup? You seem tense-” She turned around towards the coffee machine.

 

“Actually, I came to talk to you,” Samus snapped her head back, mouth agape and slowly turned back. She was about to speak when she felt a warm embrace wrapping her. Well, not completely warm, she felt some of his front pockets piercing her skin and it was bugging her and she was still holding her cup of coffee awkwardly in the air.

 

“You snapped or something?” She asked with a nervous laugh.

 

“I’m sorry…” He whispered into the back of her neck. She stilled at those words. They both knew what he was apologizing for. A sharp jolt of fear shot through Snake’s body as he heard no response from her.

 

There was a slight sound of ceramic hitting wood. He felt a pair of slow and hesitant arms wrap around him, reciprocating his hug with much hesitation.

 

Samus dreamed of when he would come back and how she would chew him out. When she first realized that Dave wouldn't be coming back, she had locked herself away from other people. The numerous amount of tears she'd cry at night at the thought that her friend was gone. She would stay up late, imagining all of the retorts she would say to him and the slew of curses she would cry out if she were to see him again.

 

But she can't do it. She can't find it in herself to do so. How much time had she spent crying over those she's lost?

 

She can only find gratitude in her heart. Grateful that he came back in the first place. Grateful he's still alive. Grateful he owned up and apologized.

 

She's lost too many people to get mad at the only one who's returned. Plus, she can’t hold a grudge against him.

 

“Thanks for coming back… Though I'd still like to know why you left,” She whispered, patting his back.

 

Snake explained everything, his fear of losing others and of others abandoning him. The fear of getting too close. How he succumbed to it and left. The fear of allowing himself to be happy. He vents about how dumb he was to leave and how he returned to mend all that he’s broken. About how he's better than before and wants to appreciate life and the people around him. All Samus does is just laugh.

 

She remembered how it took her a month to realize why he left. A strange emotion of guilt and empathy had surfaced. She of all people should have understood why he left. Plus, she was no stranger to escaping attempts when these tournaments started due to her own fears of getting too close to other people. She wrapped her arms tighter around Dave.

 

“You're so dumb…” She let out a chuckled and continued to pat him on the back, shaking her head. They both pull away from the hug with a comforting silence.

 

“You have a place here, Dave. Don't forget about it. We are all family.” She reminded the man. Family. That word has always been so complicated to him for various reasons. Too many reasons to be exact.

 

Many years ago, he would’ve said that he never had a family. Unable to fathom getting closer than arm's length to someone. Since, you know, war is war. People die. People who can be friends one minute can easily turn into traitors the next.

 

But now, after Shadow Moses, after Smash, with Hal and Sunny, Samus, the kids, and (begrudgingly) Sonic, and the rest of the fighters, he can confidently say that he has a family.

 

“Family, huh?” Dave asked in that questioning tone. Samus laughed, slapping his shoulder.

 

“You explained what you said to me to the kids?” She quickly asked, breaking the wholesome mood.

 

Now that he thought about it, they've been avoiding him. Dave shook his head. Samus sucked in a hiss at that.

 

“Yep, good luck. Tell them soon, they're gonna be a hard fight,” Samus handed a warm cup of coffee to him. He was about to ask what she meant by that, but by the traumatized look in her eyes, it was obvious she wasn't gonna say anything.

 

They both pulled out the wooden chairs and sat down, elbows resting on the table. Samus raised her cup towards him.

 

“Welp, here's a toast: to family!” She cheered with a smile to which Dave returned, holding up his own glass.

 

“To family!” He smiled, the two slamming their cups against each other. The clink of ceramic against ceramic solidifying their friendship. Before Dave could take a sip, Samus quickly spoke again.

 

“And to a soon-to-be husband!” She winked before taking a gulp. Dave nearly choked at that last bit.

 

“God, I can't believe she's already talked…” He groaned into his cup.

 

“Yep, guess I don't gotta ask if you got the ring yet. Trust me, it's gonna get worse, I can feel it,” Samus took an obnoxiously loud sip. Dave smiled as he felt the bitter taste of the coffee beans hit him accompanied by the sweet taste of French vanilla.

 

----

 

It was 3 AM when he heard his phone ping several times. Through a groggy haze, he felt for his phone on the bedside drawer, head still face-down on the pillow. Once grabbing it, he turned it on, the phone's bright light blinding him as he desperately tried to lower it. Squinting, he read the notification on screen.

 

“Several new messages from Otacon <3” He quickly unlocked his phone to see them. It was a long stream of photos that Hal took when they were at the water park yesterday. Dave smiled softly at one that Hal took of himself and Sunny making peace signs in a small pool. Sunny sporting a sunhat far too big for her head and a bathing suit that kinda looked like a sundress with eggs patterned on it. Snake snorted at how fitting it was. Hal simply wore a plain white t-shirt and swim trunks.

 

They were lovely pictures of Sunny having fun: going down a water slide, riding with Hal in a floating doughnut down an artificial body of moving water, standing on top of a water-themed playground with her arms up.

 

There were several others that it seems that Sunny took since they were a bit shaky and were pictures of Hal. There was a blush and a soft smile on his face as he typed on his laptop. It then hit Dave that those were when he was talking to him via codec before his fight with Wolf. He laughed as he swiped through the photos, essentially a montage of Hal’s love-struck and hardworking face turning to embarrassment when he sees that Sunny’s taking pictures.

 

He quickly saved each one to his photo gallery and saved the one with Hal and Sunny to his background and wondered where he can get photos printed here. He was gonna need more space in his wallet for more pictures.

 

Otacon: sorry for not sending these earlier !! fell asleep right when we got home (,,꒪꒫꒪,,)

 

Otacon: not sure what time it is over there but i hope you have a lovely time i love you (。・ω・。)ノ♡

 

Dave blushed hard at that last line.

 

Snake: its only 3 AM here, no worries.

 

Ping.

 

Otacon: 3AM ?!?!

 

Snake: yea, what time is it over there?

 

Otacon: 6 AM ⊙△⊙

 

So, there was a 3 hour time difference. Wait, that meant on the first day when they were talking at the bar...

 

Snake: hun, remember when you first called me and Samus was there?

 

Otacon: yep

 

Snake: why were you and sunny awake at 3 AM? it was 12 here when we hung up.

 

Otacon: ha, old habits die hard ? ;;;

 

Snake: i kinda want sunny to have a healthy sleeping pattern… (unlike someone)

 

Otacon: (●´・△・`)she wasnt gonna sleep till i called you, i wanted to wait till morning but then she went on a no sleeping strike and tried to scare me

 

Dave felt a dry laugh escape his lips.

 

Otacon: that and i wanted to see you ❤

 

Snake: same actually it was a lovely surprise <3

 

Otacon: i should let you sleep, you must be so tired you should also send me pictures from over there ! (*´▽`*)

 

The thought had never crossed him to send Hal pictures. With a surge of resolve, he promised he’d send Hal a picture each day.

 

Snake: will do, but you should send me some too. I like seeing your face ;)

 

There was a ping from his phone once more. Hal sent a shirtless pic. From when he was at the water-park. Dave intensely observed the man’s wild and messy wet hair. The trails of water rolling down his arms and chest. Hal never understood how Dave could really love his body, and neither did Dave, but that didn’t stop it from admiring it. He felt his fingers twitch with an urge to just hold Hal.

 

Snake: oh my god, i wasn't thinking about that but thank you so much, you always give me more than I bargain for <3 <3

 

Otacon: ill leave you now, have fun with that image ʸ(➜◡ु⚈᷉)♡⃛

 

Dave was positive he was gonna have an amazing night’s sleep.

Chapter Text

After helping Sonic with his self-deprecation and making amends with Samus, Snake was sure that things would be smooth sailing until the day of the picnic. Well, nothing was ever smooth sailing now that he thought about it. It wasn’t until midday today that he realized something really odd. It was about the Smash Kids, more specifically, the ones from Brawl. Despite the fact that they greeted him with open arms, they’ve been apprehensive, to say the least.

 

Whenever he would find one of them down the hallway, they would speed past him without even saying a word. One time in the dining hall, he simply walked by the table where they were sitting and they all immediately stopped talking. Snake chalked it up to coincidence. However, that was before he decided to walk back. They stopped talking again. Yep, there was something up.

 

He was supposed to have a match against Ness today where he was gonna confront the kid. He entered the battlefield and the kid straight up charged towards him, endlessly juggling him in the air with his PK Thunder. Once, Snake was able to get back on the ground after throwing a grenade and making him stop, he knew he had to take his anger to his advantage. Ness constantly used his stronger smash attacks such as his bat or yo-yo instead of careful approaching. Snake’s best bet was to zone him out closer to the edge of the stage until he had no other option to approach.

 

Ness soon was frustrated and charged towards him with a dash and with a quick shield, Snake grabbed the kid and slammed him to the ground, knock-back sending him flying into the blast zone.

 

Snake hadn't been hoping to pummel the kid and hoped he'd talk about his recent attitude. But throughout the match, Ness was silent minus when he would say his PSI attack out loud. Snake sprinted to the other side of the hallway to shake Ness’ hand, only for him to run away, gripping his bat.

 

There was something wrong and it kept eating Snake. He remembered what Samus had told him the previous day about the kids being a “tough fight”. Putting two and two together, he knew it was because they were still upset that he had left. Though, it was still odd how they went from welcoming to apprehensive.

 

By what he's noticed, Ness is the one to be the most bitter as the kid won't look at him. Toon Link was after since he also followed close behind Ness, but was still hesitant enough to sneak a glance at the man. Lucas was the one to be least hostile as he trailed far behind the others and would often give Snake a soft smile when they weren't looking. But to say he wasn't bitter would be a lie since he also joined his two other friends in the silent treatment.

 

The two Ice Climbers seemed to have absolutely no opinion likely because they too weren't apart of the last tournament. But the two twins still followed the group.

 

He's been at the end of bullets and felt them pierce his skin. He's felt dangerous levels of electric volts run through his veins. He’s felt pain given to him from hell and back. But those kids silence was more painful than anything hell could throw at him.

 

Using his own observant nature to his advantage, he quickly figured out their schedule. Right after their last matches, they would meet in the dining hall to eat to which they would go straight to their room. They always used the same path that goes through the main foyer, up one flight, and straight across.

 

Snake hid in his box, waiting in the hallway, fairly close to their room. Only peeking through the cut-out handles when he heard a noise. Soon, the sound of small, quick steps can be heard. 5 pairs of them. They slowed down when they ran by the box before quickly speeding up once more. Snake peeked at how Ness opened the door and ran in with Toon Link and Lucas following.

 

Once Lucas steps inside, he popped out of his box and grabbed the two ice twins from behind and held them by their waists. Before any of them could say a word, he covered their mouths with his hand as Snake eyed the closing door. He dropped the kids gently as they both turned to look at who it was.

 

Nana opened her mouth to chew out the man, but he pressed a finger against her lips and shushed her. She zipped her lips and her brows furrowed.

 

“So what's up with that trio, huh? They keep ignoring me. I can tell you two are just following them, care to tell me?” Snake interrogated the twins. Popo had sweat rolling down his face at the man's intense glare while Nana kept that annoyed look on her face.

 

They're silent. There isn't much he can do. He can't really force them to talk-

 

“They're mad at you!” Popo blurts out, nearly screaming. Nana jabs him in his side with her elbow.

 

“Shut up, we made a promise!” Nana scolded.

 

“Promise?” Snake asked.

 

“Yeah! They asked us to join them in the silent treatment!” Popo confessed with a whimper.

 

“Popo!” Nana cried out in an attempt to stop him from speaking.

 

“They?”

 

“Ugh, mostly Ness and TL…” Nana caved in, knowing full well it did no good to deny it any longer.

 

The sound of a doorknob is quickly heard and they turn deathly silent. Snake hushed them and hid back under his box as soon as the door opened. Snake peeked through the hole as the twins are left flabbergasted and lost, looking back and forth at Snake and the door.

 

It was Ness who opened the door.

 

“What's wrong?” Ness asked.

 

The twins completely froze in place. Their mouths dry as they start to sweat.

 

“Uhm… Sorry! Popo was… uh… telling me a secret!” Nana quickly lies as she stumbles through her words, playing with the strings of her parka hoodie.

 

“What kind of secret?”

 

“Well, it wouldn't be a secret anymore if I told you!” Nana retorts back with sass and a huff, silently thanking any god out there that Popo didn't say a word. Ness quirked an eyebrow before leaving the door open for them.

 

The two of them shutter a sigh before looking back at the man who's out of his box. Their eyes pleading for an answer. Snake waved them to go to the room before anyone became suspicious. Nana and Popo looked at each other and slowly walked their way to their room with Snake behind them.

 

Nana walked in first with Popo behind her. At the last second, before the door closed, Snake placed a hand on the door frame before it could close completely.

 

He looked up and saw all of the kids staring at him. He briefly stared at Ness in the eyes for a split second and sees a whirlwind of emotions.

 

Confusion.

 

Realization.

 

Anger.

 

Then he's suddenly pushed away by a strong, unknown force, his back slamming against the hallways’ wall, feeling the air being knocked out of him, with the door slammed in his face.

 

Snake calibrated himself and pressed an ear against the door. There's a period of silence before one of the kids spoke.

 

“Ness, that wasn't necessary…” Toon Link remarked.

 

“I don't wanna see him…” Ness stated flatly. Snake felt a twinge in his chest.

 

“I'm mad at him too but…”

 

“I'm not gonna talk! Right, Luke?” Silence again. He hears an exhale.

 

“We should talk to him, Ness. Maybe we should hear his side of the story…” Lucas meekly proposed.

 

“No.”

 

“You're being kind of petty…” Nana comments with her usual blunt attitude.  

 

“Then so be it.” Ness stubbornly resisted.  

 

“Ness, this is getting out of hand,” Popo comments.

 

“I'm gonna let him in,” Lucas says. He hears small footsteps walk towards the door. The doorknob slightly turns.

 

“No! You of all people should understand why I'm mad!” Ness cried out with a stomp of his foot. Snake cringed at the sudden shout and the doorknob stops moving.

 

“What does that mean?” Lucas asked and Snake can feel the tension becoming unbearable. He screws his eyes shut even if he's not looking at it.

 

“You should know a lot about people leaving!” Snake felt a chill run down his neck. This isn't gonna end well.  

 

“We promised you wouldn't bring it up!” Snake swallows hard as he knows about Lucas’ past and how sensitive of a topic it is to the kid. Snake gripped his arms, unable to fathom that this was happening.

 

“So you do understand?! Then again… what do you know about family…” He hears Ness mumble under his breath. It becomes deathly silent. He starts to hear sniffling.

 

“That was a low-blow, Ness,” Toon Link comments. It quickly turns to bicker and crying between the two psychic kids.

 

Snake can't ever remember a time where either of them has ever argued. The two boys always stuck by each other's sides like glue. Neither boy ever showed a hint of malice towards each other. Snake was even unnerved at how nice they were to each other. Furthermore, Ness’ anger was beyond uncharacteristic. As Colonel Campbell said, he's a good kid.

 

It soon turns to a crying match between all of them and Snake decided it was enough.

 

He quickly picks the door lock open and it slowly swings open. He takes a step inside. Nana is holding Lucas back with a tight grip while Popo is doing the same with Ness. Snake is appalled at the raw emotion he sees in the two boys. Toon Link stood between them, crying and wiping his eyes with his green hat.

 

Once they all acknowledged Snake’s presence, it becomes quite once more. The creaking of the door opening being the only thing that can be heard. They all froze in their tracks.

 

Snake swallowed back the bile that's forming in the back of his throat at the sight of these usually mischievous but well-meaning kids crying. More specifically crying because of what he did. Snake cleared his throat.

 

“I heard everything…” He eyed Ness as the kid looked away, shame in his eyes.

 

“Ness…” He called in a stern tone that he rarely ever used towards any kid, not even Sunny. Ness bit his bottom lip as he continued to look away. “Look at me,” The kid slowly turned his eyes towards the man. “I want to talk to you,” He motioned the kids to all sit outside the room. Snake closed the door behind them as he looked at the kid sitting on the bed, rubbing his arm in shame.

 

“I don't know where to start…” Snake confessed, placing a hand on his forehead.

 

“Why did you leave?” Ness quickly interjected. Snake paused to let him speak. Ness snapped his head back at him, shaking as he gripped his arm tighter. “Do you know how long it took for us to realize you won't be coming back? You didn't even leave a note!” He yelled at the man, baring teeth. A small sniffle escaped Ness.

 

“I thought you hated us… I started to think that I did something to make you leave… T-That it was my fault…” Tears dripped from the kid’s eyes once more, retreating into a ball. “J-Just like everything else…"

 

It barely registers but Snake was able to catch it. He sat next to the boy on the bed and wrapped an arm around his shoulder. Snake held him close like he would do whenever Sunny was asleep. Ness moved closer and sat on his lap.

 

“What do you mean “like everything else”?” Snake asked. It was quiet again. Then there's a shuddering breath.

 

“My parents are getting a divorce.” He bluntly admitted, huddling closer into his chest. Snake stilled at that confession.

 

“A divorce?”

 

“My dad was always away and he was never h-home. My mom had enough…” Ness heaved through hot and heavy tears. The kid lifted up a hand and gripped Snake’s arm, desperate for something to cling to.

 

“I thought it w-was my fault since I-I was the one who would c-complain to my friends that he was n-never home…” Snake took off his cap and ran his fingers through the boy’s raven colored hair. Snake rested his face into the boy's hair as he allowed the boy to vent.

 

“A-And I just started g-going to a new school at the same t-time and it's all so h-hard!” Ness cried out with a slam of his fist to Snake’s chest.

 

“I didn't m-mean to take my anger out on everyone… especially you and Lucas just now…” Snake patted his back as Ness continued to cry.  “I thought… maybe you would understand h-how we felt if we ignored y-you…” The psychic boy confessed.

 

“I'm sorry…” Snake apologized.

 

“For what?”

 

“For leaving… I also let my emotions get the best of me… and because I left and I accidentally hurt people that I love too….”

 

“But even then,” Snake pulled away and placed his hands on Ness’ shoulders and looked him in the eye. The boy's eyes were red and face sticky with tears. “I realized that doesn't make what I did right. So, I came back to apologize and make things right. Do you understand?” Ness quickly escaped his grip and returned to hug Snake. He felt Ness nod into his chest.

 

“I know… Even though I was going through bad stuff… that still doesn't make what I did be excusable…” Ness repeated, saying what he got out of Snake’s little anecdote. Snake patted his back.

 

“Smart boy…” There was a comforting silence between the two.

 

For most parents, it would've been so easy to just scold the kid for his bad behavior. It's so easy to lose empathy and compassion towards someone younger just because they are young and they're “supposed to be fussy”. It's way too easy to neglect what a child is feeling and to only focus on stopping the crying.

 

But Dave doesn't want to be like other parents. His fatherly instincts driving what he's doing. He continues to run a hand into the boy's hair as he softly rocks them both back and forth with a low hum that rumbles his chest.

 

He's suddenly taken back to when Sunny was a toddler. One day she had gone beyond fussy and wouldn't stop crying. No matter what Hal did, she wouldn't stop. He remembered how tired Hal’s eyes were as she continued to cry. She had just been fed, so she wasn't hungry. They checked if maybe it was her diaper, but nothing. They even checked her temperature and it was normal. Hal just desperately tried to rock her and shush her in vain.

 

Dave took her out of his arms and cradled her against his own chest with a hand on the back of her head. He sat on the couch and slowly rocked back and forth as he hummed something random. The low rumbles from his humming reaching his chest and she slowly calmed down as the sun started to set. An orange and pink glow painted the room. Sunny fell asleep once the sun settled, night taking its place.

 

He subconsciously cradled Ness like he had in his memory, humming the same random tune. These kids were way too broken for their own good. But to hell, if he was gonna let them suffer any more or at least the best he could. There would be no more tears from now on.

 

Ness spoke once more, “Can I confess something?”

 

“Shoot,”

 

“Sometimes I wish you were my dad…” He mumbled quietly, barely audible to Snake. He smiled. Snake quickly turns his head towards the door as it slowly creaked open. Snake chuckled at their attempt to be sneaky.

 

“The rest of you can come in,” They slowly walk in one by one. Small careful steps followed one another. Ness looked up from Snake’s chest. The man gripped the sheets below him, fearing the worst.

 

“Ness-” (“Lucas-”) Both boys spoke at the same time. At the same time, they also both insisted to speak first followed by an awkward laugh. Lucas sighed.

 

“You should've told us what you were going through…” Lucas said softly.

 

“I didn't want to put that burden on you… especially since you've been through worse…” Ness gripped his arm in shame, nails digging into his skin.

 

“That doesn't invalidate what you're going through! We could've helped you!” Lucas pleaded as tears fell once more.

 

“Thank you, but…” Ness got up from Snake’s lap and held Lucas’ hands.

 

“I'm sorry for saying those awful things. I was so mad and stressed about everything. Yet that doesn't make what I did right… I hurt my best friend's feelings and broke your trust,” He squeezed the blond kid’s hands. Lucas squeezed them back with a tearful smile.

 

“I forgive you… but next time, tell us when you're feeling sad!” Lucas yelled out with a smile. “You helped me with my emotions in Brawl, let us help you!” Ness smiled widely before tackling the blond, happy tears replacing the previous ones. Lucas barely reacting quickly enough to not drop the two of them. Ness let go and hugged Toon Link and the ice twins.

 

“I'm sorry to all three of you for forcing you guys into this mess…” The other three reciprocating the hug also. Voices of forgiveness and apologies overlapping one and another.

 

Snake smiled at the sight of the group of kids laughing and beaming once more. These kids have gone through too much. He'd fight to see their smiles stay.

 

“Group hug!” Snake cried out, spreading his arms wide and picking up all five of them and squeezing them tightly. Giggles quickly replaced the angry tears that were just shed a while ago. He set them all down on the floor as he sat down with them, resting against the side of the bed, legs spread out.

 

“Let's catch up on everything!” Nana decided. They all murmured in agreement. A coy smile appeared on Toon Link's face.

 

“So… I've been wondering, uncle Snake-”

 

“David is fine,”

 

“David?” Popo repeated in confusion.

 

“That's my real name,”

 

“I thought it was actually Snake?” Lucas commented. Dave laughed at that. “I mean, it doesn't seem out of place here, to be honest,”

 

“Yeah, like Pit!” Ness added.

 

“And Dark Pit!” Nana continued, everyone laughed at the juvenile humor.

 

“Anyway, uncle Dave,” Toon Link emphasized his name. “How are you and Otacon now?” He asked as he raised his eyebrows. A chorus of ‘Ooh' and ‘Aah's followed. Snake gripped the back of his neck.

 

“You can call him uncle Hal now?” Dave said with his usual questioning tone. All five stood up and started to dance around and cheered. All Dave could do was watch in amusement as they clamored to know how they first met. He sighed and beckoned them to sit back down. They all quickly got themselves in order, staring intensely.

 

“Alright, well, I was swimming to Shadow Moses Island to rescue the Arms Tech president and the DARPA chief…”

 

----

 

As he recounted his tale at Shadow Moses Island, the other smash kids came in as the initial five beckoned them to join them in “Snake’s Story time”. Soon, a whole group of kids was gathering around Snake as he told them about his mission. The initial five had moved closer to Snake, each of them resting on a part of him.

 

Villager laid on his stomach on the bed Snake was leaning against, he was to the right of Snake. It took him a while to get used to the kid's intense… face. Megaman was on the floor, sitting criss-cross. Bowser Jr. even joined, lying next to Megaman on his stomach. His small legs kicking in the air. Young Link sat on a bean bag seat, holding a cup of warm milk. The two inkling squid twins hearing the story from their bunk bed, which was the third highest. (Snake was wary at how a four-way bunk bed was safe, but that was him.)

 

Snake continued to recount his mission, opting to leave out the more gruesome details. He has gotten up to when Otacon asked him if love could bloom on the battlefield when the first few kids began to nod off. Soon little by little all the kids started to knock out. After a while, just the five kids were awake. Snake slowed down his storytelling.

 

“No, no, no, continue!” Popo begged, his voice slurred with exhaustion.

 

“Yeah, I wanna hear what happened to Meryl…” Nana added with a yawn.

 

“Man, I thought my world was weird.” Toon Link joked lightly, his eyes barely able to keep open.

 

“What's with hasty twin brothers?...” Lucas mumbled.

 

“Wait, you said you had 50 huskies?!” Ness asked.

 

Snake laughed at the varying tones and questions. He continued to explain up until the end.

 

“... Then we rode off on the snowmobile into the sunset…” Snake wrapped up with a yawn. They were still barely awake.

 

“What about uncle Hal? What happened to him?” Lucas asked in concern.

 

“He's probably fine,” Nana sarcastically added.

 

“Well, the bombing raid was called off. As I was riding with Meryl, I ordered Colonel to find Hal and make sure he was safe. I don't really know where he went after Colonel told me he was safe. But after a while, Meryl decided to leave. She didn't like Alaska all that much.” Snake hesitated. “Later, Hal knocked on the door. Apparently, he tracked my codec frequency, but I'm not sure why he didn't just call.” That earned a weak laugh from the rest of the kids.

 

“He's like a stalker…” Popo commented, poking fun at him.

 

“Well, at least… you guys are happy now,” Toon Link yawned with Lucas hummed in agreement, mumbling something about family and happiness. There were several yawns as small mumbles were replaced with snoring. Snake closed his eyes and smiled. He was about to get up until he heard a voice chime in.

 

“Thanks…” he heard a mumble from Ness before he too fell asleep. Dave isn't sure whether he heard his name or “dad” at the end, but either way, he felt at peace.

 

Well, not for long as he felt his legs become numb at the lack of movement and the kids laying on them. He didn't want to move to wake them up, but he did have to get up. There was a slight knock on the door before it was opened.

 

“Oh, there you are Snake! I was-” Peach greeted before she realized the sight. All of those kids all huddled near the burlesque man was too pure. Peach could feel her heart swell to unhealthy proportions. She waved her face and huffed. “You are a man of surprises.”

 

He quickly remembered that he wanted to send Hal pictures of his time here. Through some miracle, he pulls out his phone and waves it to the princess.

 

“Can you take a picture for me? I want to send it to Otacon.” Snake asked. She nodded and snatched the phone. She swears she can feel herself tearing up as she opens up the camera app.

 

"Oh yeah, your friend!" She chimed. A man who's good looking like Snake and is good with children?! She knows people who would kill for someone like him.

 

She takes a snapshot of the scene before her with Snake waving at the camera. She blinks her tears away as she hands back the phone. Snake looked carefully at the photos. They're adorably domestic. He then realized he can't feel his legs anymore.

 

“Mind if you help me?” Snake motioned his head to his legs. “Can't really move.” Peach nodded and if he were to look close enough, he swears she's crying. They carry the kids to their retrospective beds and laying them to rest. Snake wobbled at blood rushing to his legs again, gripping to the wall for support. He looks up and sees Bowser Jr. asleep in Peach’s arms. She shushed the man as she slowly walked out of the room. Snake followed behind. He turned to all the kids once more and whispered “good night” and shut off the lights and closed the door.

 

He trails behind Peach as she drops the Koopa to his room. After laying him to rest, she wiped her hands and looked at Snake.

 

“Oh yeah! I was looking for you!” Peach chimed as she pulled a small, red velvet box out of her pocket. Snake stared at it in awe and looked up at the women as if asking for permission to hold it. She nodded and handed it, gracefully, to him. Snake held it in the palm of his hand and carefully opened the box.

 

Inside was a shiny, silver ring exactly as he asked for. He's in awe at the beauty of it as he held it between his fingers. Inside the ring was engraved: Love can bloom on the battlefield. Snake just wanted to cry at the sight.

 

“H-How? That fast?”

 

Peach giggled, “Actually, I could've done it faster, but like I said I'm a bit rusty.” It was Snake’s turn to be in shock.

 

“You're selling yourself short, ma’am,”

 

“In turn, send me those pictures, they're so cute,” She asked with a wink. Snake shook his head rapidly.

 

“Of course, anything! Thank you!” Snake thanked, shaking her hand as if it were his life.

 

---

 

It was 2 AM and Dave couldn't sleep. He was still in shock at the fact he was holding the ring in his hand. It shined in the small light as he admired the engravings and blue diamond. How fitting. He closes his eyes and imagined how it would look on Hal’s finger. Dave blushed at the idea. His heart swelled like it never had before. The ring was quickly put away into the small box before placing it in his drawer.

 

Prior to going to sleep, he quickly sent the picture Peach took of him and all the smash kids to Hal.

 

Snake: look at how many kids I gotta work with :’)

 

Hal quickly replied.

 

Otacon: (。♥‿♥。) (。♥‿♥。) (。♥‿♥。) (。♥‿♥。) so how many more kids do we have now ?

 

Snake: counting all of them ? 12, dont worry I counted sunny also. ❤

 

Otacon: (。♥‿♥。)

 

There was an image attachment.

 

It was a picture of Sunny smiling at the camera as she was cooking by the stove with a table full of cracked eggshells and a load of ingredients. Dave laughed, only slightly missing her eggs. Only slightly.

 

Otacon: speaking of kids sunnys been cooking stuff up today

 

Snake : did her fortunes say anything good ?

 

Otacon: ive been teaching her how to make scrambled eggs !

 

Snake: how have they been?

 

Otacon: very watery and runny... but we are getting there !!

 

Snake: well don't wait up on me. sorry you gotta suffer them by yourself. ;p

 

Otacon: dont worry, when you get back shes gonna make up for all that lost time

 

Welp, he noticed he still hadn't asked if Hal wanted to come next week for the picnic. Might as well ask.

 

Snake: actually that might come earlier

 

Otacon: ???

 

Snake: there's a major get together happening next week in a couple days. it's a picnic type thing and i'm pretty sure I can bring a guest or two

 

Snake: so you wanna come and visit ??

 

It took nearly 5 minutes to get a response.

 

Otacon: YES

 

Otacon: sorry i was reeling in from the shock, but you are serious right ?

 

Snake: as ever

 

Otacon: of course we will, we are dying to see you again !!

 


Snake: good then it's a date. i’ll send you details later don't worry.

 


One good night text later, Dave placed his phone back on the drawer and gazed at the ceiling. He still can't comprehend the fact he has the ring hidden in his drawer. But at the same time, it just feels like it was meant to happen. He really hoped the ring would fit Hal.

 

Chapter Text

“So, I was wondering if I can bring two guests over to the picnic in a couple of days,” Snake asked, looking up at the two Hands looking over.

 

Now that he knew Hal was up for coming, it was to ask the two hands, Crazy and Master Hand. He's seen some weird shit before, but never in his life would he have known that he would be talking to two pairs of floating, seemingly omnipotent, hands.

 

Kids with psychic abilities? Sure, he can handle that; it's pretty normal by his standards. Talking blue hedgehogs? Eh, a little weird, but since he's a kid, Snake can handle that. But floating Hands? Yeah, that's how the bar for what was considered weird was raised. But hey, that's what happens when multiple universes and dimensions collide.

 

They once tried to explain how these universes work and they talked about how they create the stages and set the arena’s physics so that everything has certain properties, but no one seemed to care about their long-winded explanation and just wanted to fight. Snake was one of the few people intrigued since it was his job to know how things and his opponents function from the inside and out. (That and he likes hearing people info-dump about something they are passionate about.)

 

Either way here was talking to a large pair of Hands. According to other people, they are either really invasive and constantly want to know how everyone is or they're so elusive that simply finding them is difficult. It's gotten to the point where the kids have started to tally-mark how many times they've seen them. Snake blessed his own abilities and it didn't take long to find either one of them.

 

“Hal and Sunny?” Master Hand asked. Like he said, they were seemingly omnipotent. Or just very good at reading people. Snake nodded, still unsure whether it was ok to feel unnerved at how towering they were.

 

“Of course! You're not the only one to ask to bring other people! The more the merrier!” Master Hand cried out. Snake is still figuring out how they can communicate with other people seeing as they don't have… mouths. Since y’know they are hands. Telepathy?

 

“Don't worry, I'll send them instructions on how to arrive here! Now go on!” He waved away.

 

“You're not gonna ask why I want to bring other people?” Snake questioned.

 

“Should I?”

 

“Well, I guess no-”

 

“Ok, why then?” Master Hand interrupted. Well, Snake did ensure that they would ask him.

 

“I plan on proposing to Hal?” Snake said, wary of their response. Silence. Suddenly, there was a large amount of laughter. Snake gripped the back of his neck.

 

“That's adorable!” One of them cried out with a hearty laugh.

 

“Well, I give you my permission to do so!” Master Hand proclaimed as he then described how he would get Hal over here and assured him that they would arrive safely. Snake profusely nodded and thanked them before walking back to his room.

 

He softly laughed at how that reminded him of how most people would ask their in-laws for their lover's permission for their hand in marriage. The sudden thought of having to ask Hal’s parents for their permission to marry their son flooded his mind.

 

Though he did know about Hal’s contempt towards his father and he really doesn't know much about his mother (but he knows about his poor, disgusting excuse of a step-mother.) But he never went into much detail. Snake never pushed him to describe more than he wanted to. Granted, he too never got much into his own family history minus what Hal knows and pieced together.

 

Snake only briefly wondered a life where war was non-existent and peace was the only thing on everyone's minds. He only briefly wondered how life would've been if neither of their past generations or family life had been fucked up. A small thought crosses his mind that maybe Sunny could've had proper grandparents or uncles.

 

But, he knows clearly that's wishful thinking. A garden dream as he knows. It doesn't stop Snake from wondering about it, yet he doesn't wish for it. He appreciates what he has now and couldn't imagine life any other way. Why bother? It's not going to change. He'll take asking two giant Hands for permission to bring Hal to a place where a medieval swordsman, a female space bounty hunter, a trained soldier, and a prince, can all sit around and eat together any day.

 

Snake laughed at how it sounded like the start to a bad joke. A swordsman, a bounty hunter, a soldier, and a prince walk into a bar… except the punchline is that the soldier is excited that he's planning on proposing to a cute nerd.

 

-----

 

With now a ring and The Hands’ permission to bring Hal, all Dave had to do was play the waiting game for only 3 more days. God, he really couldn't wait. No amount of training could have prevented him from simply calling Hal and asking him over the phone. It took most of the resolve in his soul to not do so.

 

3 days left. 72 hours. 4320 minutes. Wow, it can't come soon enough. He laid on his bed since all of his matches were over for the day earlier than usual. He would've taken a nap until a trainwreck of an epiphany kept him from doing so. What was he gonna wear?

 

He shot out of his bed and headed to his closet which was filled to the brim with his gear and sneaking outfits. He remembered he had 5 days worth of clothing and he prayed that at least 1 outfit would be presentable.

 

He had 5 tops.

  • A plain white shirt he used to sleep in
  • A turtleneck sweater
  • A gray shirt with a simple graphic of the company’s logo
  • A flannel shirt
  • And an old tie-dye shirt he doesn't remember packing

 

And 5 bottoms:

  • A pair of gym shorts
  • A pair of gray sweatpants
  • 2 pairs of cargo shorts
  • And a pair of jeans

 

He groaned into his hands as he realized how underdressed he's gonna be. Where the hell was he gonna find better clothing? He could ask one of the ladies to help him pick, but God, he really doesn't want to add fuel to their gossip. Rumors had already started to make their rounds after he asked Peach for a ring, but that was a part of the course, no?

 

He isn't sure if Samus can help since she mostly wears very loose and comfortable clothing around the building, but he throws all his chips in and searches for her.

 

----

 

“You need my help with what again?”

 

“I don't have any good clothing,” He repeated as they walked towards his room.

 

“Psh, it can't be that bad,” She commented as she placed her arms behind her head. Dave opened the door and led her to his closet and opened it. She ducked a bit as she shifted through all of his clothing. Her brows furrowing more and more as she swipes past each article. “God, I was wrong,” She flatly stated as she took a step back, placing her hands on her hips. She sucked her teeth as she glared at the clothing.

 

“Hrgnn, what did I tell you?” Dave retorted.

 

“Hey, Dave, you should propose to him in the tye-dye shirt and cargo shorts,” She suggested as she bit her tongue, attempting to hold back a laugh. The man simply glared at her and growled something in that usual questioning tone he's known for. They both sat on the bed and looked at the closet in silence, as if the harder the stared, the closet would suddenly change the clothing in there.

 

(Fanart done by Koobiie on Tumblr/Koob on AO3)

 

“You think I'm joking, but in that outfit, man I know you're gonna get dic-”

 

“Hng, can you help?” He interrupted.

 

“Why can't you just wear your tactical gear?”

 

“Ah, yes, I'd love to be decked out in my gear during a wholesome picnic, huh?” He sarcastically retorted. “I'm not trying to look crazy,”

 

“Aw, it's ok, Dave,” She wrapped an arm around his neck. “We already think you're crazy,” She chuckled as Dave shrugged off her arm. He sucked his teeth once more as he kept staring at the closet.

 

“That, and I… hgn... don't want to propose to him looking like… Snake… if that makes any sense?” He clarified. Samus dropped the whole joking gig she had as she observed the man's clear discomfort.

 

“Yeah, I get it… that's why I don't walk around wearing my power-suit… they don't really see me as me in that hunk of junk,” She attempted to empathize, hoping her anecdote would be what the man was feeling. He nodded in agreement.

 

“Exactly. Wearing this gear, it's like a different person to other people. There's a clear difference in people's tone when they say “Snake” in the morning versus they say “Snake” when I'm wearing the gear.” Dave clarified. “It's not even that I see Snake and Dave as different people… Snake is just a codename for security and identity purposes… But people tend to see it as such,”

 

There was odd silence in the air between them.

 

“Does Otacon act like that?” Samus asked.

 

“No, Snake and Dave are indistinguishable to him. To Otacon, I'm just me… Hmm… that probably doesn't make any sense,” Dave groaned. Samus waved her hands.

 

“I get it! Like Snake is just a codename, but no matter what you're still the love of his life,” Samus restated. Dave turned a bright red at that remark. He looked away in embarrassment, mumbling something under his breath. Silence again.

 

“Can I confess something?” Samus asked.

 

“Shoot,”

 

She sucked in a breath. “Prior to Brawl… I only used the power suit… the same as you, people saw me differently. In fact, it was ‘cause of you that I decided to not wear the suit as often,” She let a breath. Dave simply smiled.

 

“Me, huh?” He asked with a smirk.

 

“Don't get cocky. Aside from Marth and Ness, before Brawl, you were one of the few to talk to me as a person rather than some untouchable bounty hunter,” She continued.

 

“The experience is mutual,” Dave nodded in agreement. Another blanket of silence befell upon the pair. It was broken once more by a suck to his teeth.

 

“We've still gotten nowhere with my issue,” He remarked as Samus perked up from her solemn aura. She laughed as that realization sank in.

 

“I got my last match in 10 minutes, but if you want I can send someone I know to help you,” She offered with a smile. Dave returned it with a nod. She got up from his bed and stretched as she cursed her own height. She placed a hand on his shoulder before squeezing it and walking away. She stopped at the door frame, turning back to him. “Don't worry, big man. You'll be fine,” She said before walking off.

 

Dave laid back on his bed. His mind still in an introspective haze. He really can't believe he's going to go through with this. A part of him is just waiting to wake up from this dream, but it doesn't come. His ear picked up the sound of careful footsteps walking towards his room. They suddenly stop. There's a knock on his door. Snake sits back up.

 

“Come in,” he beckoned as the door slowly creeps open. It was Marth. The prince looked around the room before spotting the man on the bed. Snake greeted the prince with a wave. “Anata no denka, koko ni nani ga kuru no?” (Your Highness, what brings you here?) Snake asks, getting up from his bed. Marth immediately waved him away with a blush on his face.

 

“Oh, it's fine! I can speak in English,” Marth reassured. Snake took a step back at that sentence. He ran his hand through his hair as he tried to gather his thoughts. Marth was speaking English. A dry laugh escaped his lips.

 

“God, Marth. You truly are something, huh?” Snake remarked, still in awe at the man. He had heard stories from the prince about his inability to communicate with other fighters and his frustrations with being unable to talk to other fighters. Only a select number of people initially could speak to the prince, and he was fortunate that the number of people increased. But there was still that language barrier in place, but to hear the prince speak in near-perfect English. Pride isn't a strong enough word to describe the feeling in his chest.

 

The two began to chatter extensively about Marth’s accomplishment. The prince’s accent still auditable in certain phrases and while Snake still had to correct him on small phrasing or grammatical errors, none would have been the wiser that he at one point could only speak Japanese. Soon through their chatter, Marth stopped and remembered why he was there.

 

“Ah, yes. Uhm, Samus sent me to help you with a clothing problem?” Marth reminded. Snake gripped the back of his neck as he elaborated that he needed something to wear for the upcoming picnic. Marth inspected the man's closet, swiping each piece at a far slower pace than Samus. Snake noticed the man's nose wrinkling more and more as he went through each article. “I never took you as someone to care about what to wear,” He commented as he pulled out a shirt to look at.

 

“I… uhm… want to look more presentable?” Snake ran a hand through his hair, growing more and more subconscious. Marth pulled away and placed his hands on his hips. He looked at the soldier and back at the closet. Soldier then closet. Soldier. Closet. Snake heard a pensive hum from the prince.

 

“I think I have something that can help…” Marth put a hand on his chin, eyes narrowing filled with thought. “Change out of your gear into something light, like the white shirt and gym shorts. Then meet me at my room,” Marth said before walking out the door. Snake really hoped this man can help.

 

----

 

“Hmm… Do you have a set style?” Marth asked as he pulled out a measuring tape and started to inspect the man. Snake simply went along with what he was doing.

 

“Uhm… loose clothing I guess?” Marth hummed in acknowledgment. The measuring tape was cold against his thin shirt. There was something oddly calming about watching the prince take such precaution and be so concentrated on a task. The prince's nimble fingers slowly tapping at the base of the tape as he concentrated on the numbers printed on them. The soft noise of the tape running along the rail inside of it was soothing beyond belief.

 

It reminded him of how he felt whenever he would watch Hal work. The late nights he'd watch Hal staring intently at his laptop screen, with the pitter-patter of the keyboard being the only sign that there was any life in their apartment aside from the soft hums or sighs that would escape his lips. Snake felt himself nodding off before the sharp snap of the tape going back into place took him out of it.

 

“I think… I have something…” He whispered before carefully pulling the drawer open and carefully lifting some magazines out. Snake sat next to Marth on the bottom bunk bed as he watched the prince carefully flipping through the pages, the sounds of the paper soothing to his ears. Occasionally, he would dog-ear a page and look at Snake as he did so.

 

The prince got up and started to look through an enormous closet filled to the brim with different articles of clothing. He would look at the pages he marked and back at the closet and at Snake in that order. The sound of clinking of the metal coat hangers filled the room. Then he heard a satisfactory hum.

 

“There we go, I finally got it,” Marth whispered as he held up three articles of clothing: a black v-neck tee, dark navy blue shorts, and a light blue, button up top. Snake sighed in relief that he wasn't going to have to wear something restricting. “Do you like it? It's summer, so jeans were out. But you have a… nice physique that wearing a long sleeve is a no-go. But you said you liked casual, so cooler, darker colors seemed right,” Marth elaborated as Snake took the clothing into his hands.

 

“You wear this?” Snake asked as he noted how they're much larger than Marth. The prince rubbed the back of his neck.

 

“I like sewing and making clothing of various sizes. You're not the first person to ask for help, that's why I took your measurements.” Marth explained with a sheepish grin as a light blush appeared on his face. Snake thumbed through the clothing with even more care at that fact.

 

“You really have a remarkable talent, huh?” Snake complimented as the prince laughed in embarrassment.

 

“T-Thanks! It's was a shame that there weren't many male tailors back where I came from. I think people deserve to be happy in their clothes,” Marth happily explained. Snake hummed as the prince shared his story. When he looked up from the clothing, Marth was squinting at the soldier's face. He immediately became defensive as he glared back.

 

“I apologize if I may be overstepping, I might be doing more than what Samus asked me to help with but… if I may…” Marth’s words soft and polite as if he said one wrong word, Snake might snap his neck. Snake simply raised an eyebrow at the prince's nervousness.

 

“May I suggest I also be your barber?” He finished. Snake relaxed at that with a chuckle.

 

“Ya got me worried kid, thought you were gonna murder me or some shit,” Snake remarked as the prince waved him away, spouting apologies. “But to answer your question, yeah sure, you can. What do I need?”

 

“Can I be blunt?”

 

“Sure?”

 

“The goatee you have looks gross...” Welp, he did allow him to be blunt.

 

Before Snake could even say anything, Marth had already rolled up his sleeves, placed a large sheet of plastic on the ground, rolled out an adjustable lounge chair, and had a portable rack filled with stuff already. Marth looked at Snake with a wide smile and a look much like one his Huskies would have whenever he arrived home.

 

He sat down on the chair and leaned back as he eyed the prince sharpening a small blade. Snake gripped the armrest to hold back his instinctual urge to fight back until he had to ground himself. Marth noticed his distress and hushed him to relax and close his eyes. He slowly released his grip and closed his eyes and he felt his body lean back and just allowed himself to concentrate on the minute noises.

 

He heard a can shake and the sound of shaving cream leaving the can. The foam soft on his neck and on parts of his face. He shuddered at the feeling of the cold metal blade barely grazing his skin. He can't remember the last time he went to a professional barber, but he was positive the only reason he hadn't gone was due to this. He really didn't want to remember the last time he had a blade so close to his neck.

 

The smell of lavender suddenly hit his nose and any anxieties he carried had dissipated at the scent. He heard a vague whisper from Marth about how it's supposed to calm down the nerves, but anything he's saying is being swirled around in his head into a soft, nothing void. The fluffy towel that's drying his face is not helping in the slightest, but he doesn't mind it one bit.

 

The feeling of a comb and nimble fingers running through his hair is mesmerizing. Despite how comfortable he is with Hal, he still gets embarrassed to ask him to run his hands through his hair. But he tries not to think, at least, not right now. He loosens all tensions in shoulders and simply lets Marth do his job.

 

“Do you want me to… cut most your hair and style it?” Marth whispered as he continued to run through his hair.

 

“I kinda like the mullet I have going on,” Snake grumbled through his haze. Marth snorted in response.

 

“I'll at least do layers then,” Snake simply hummed and enjoyed the feeling of the comb and the sounds of the snipping of scissors.

 

Then it suddenly stopped.

 

“Snake…” Marth hesitated. “Do you… Want me to dye your hair?” He carefully asked, unsure whether to tread that way. Snake grunted in confusion. “It's just that…” Snake felt a sharp tug against his scalp. He opened his eyes and saw the prince holding a hair in front of his face. A white hair.

 

Shit.

 

“It's fine if you want to! Many come to me for some hair dye!” Marth reassured before Snake shook his head.

 

“It's… Natural…” Was a genetic mutation natural? Probably not.

 

“How old are you?”

 

“I'm in my forties,” Marth didn't say a word. The prince assumed that it must be due to stress from being in a war. But the placement of the white hairs doesn't correlate with how it would naturally do so. It started from near the center and scattered outward instead of being random. Snake didn't have to even see his face to know he wasn't satisfied with the answer. He sighed before turning to face the prince.

 

“You really want to know, huh?” Marth slowly nodded. Snake sighed as he debated on telling him everything. It's not like Marth had any use for the information. No one here could really rat him out to a government official. He trusted Marth.

 

“Guess I can tell ‘ya,”

 

Snake soon elaborated about FOXDIE and the genetic mutation that caused him to age rapidly. He talked in extensive details about all the work and resources Otacon has poured into finding a cure, about all the hoops and connections he went through to find a team of scientists who can help. He admired how Otacon never listened to him and his complaints and how hard he worked to find something to revert it. He blabbered about how the effect of the new cure had nearly immediately begun to show as his hairs started to color once more and how his skin had started to heal and seemingly regenerate. About how the once a week dose turned to once a month, to every 3 months, to 6, to now just a yearly dose.

 

He had almost spilled about how he kissed Hal when the doctors told him that his life expectancy had nearly doubled due to the treatment. But he stopped himself and simply coughed. He nervously chuckled at the realization of how much he had told Marth as all the prince did was simply cut his hair. Marth hummed when he stopped.

 

“Without the treatment… what would it have.. how long would you have?” Marth asked, wary if he should've even asked.

 

“More or less half a decade tops. With it, they say I still got 30 to 40 years…” Marth made a noise in acknowledgment as the sound of scissors snipping filled the void between them. He felt a spritz of water hit the back of his neck.

 

“You've been through a lot,” Marth said in a melancholy tone. “You don't deserve that much hardship,” Snake paused before speaking.

 

“No one does, not even you,” He remembered when Marth first told him about his own story and past, about the tribulations of being a face of hope for his own country and people and fighting in wars, about his own story of betrayals from former friends.

 

“But… the most we can just do… is live,” Snake waited a bit. “That's a lesson this place has really solidified,” Marth nodded in approval as he cut the last bits of hair needed. Snake soon felt a gust of hot hair hit him, feeling his hair fly around and hit parts of his face. He felt one last comb over through his hair before he heard a satisfied noise from Marth.

 

“You have really voluminous hair...  most hair I work is fairly flat, but this is a nice change of pace. But due to the fact that you want to keep the mullet, I don't feel like we have to worry about the white hairs… But I also added some conditioner to help,” Marth handed him a mirror as Snake started to inspect his face. His goatee was trimmed down to look less like one big mess and his hair was far neater and seemingly healthier.

 

“Did you do my eyebrows?” Snake touched them, looking at it in all angles.

 

“Ha… you were really out of it. You didn't even flinch!” Marth laughed, cleaning up all of his supplies. Snake got up to help him clean up to which he smiled in gratitude. Once everything was cleaned, Marth perked up.

 

“You should try on the clothes! See if they fit!” Snake shook his head and smiled as Marth walked out of the room to give the man privacy.

 

---

 

“Marth… you can come in…” Snake beckoned him inside. The prince simply glanced in his direction before pausing and gasping. “What?” He growled out, unsure whether it had good intentions or not.

 

“Sweet Naga…”

 

“Well…?”

 

“Look in the mirror…” Marth pointed at the closet with one hand over his mouth.

 

solid_snack_cropped_finished

 

Snake observed himself in the mirror as he looked at himself in all angles. There was a small smile on his face as he was starstruck at how he looked… good. He had never been one to care about appearance, but he could appreciate when he did. It was like someone waved a wand and made him look younger… maybe that wasn't the best analogy. But if his life right now could be summed up into a fairy tale, he felt like Cinderella.

 

Except if Cinderella was a mercenary spy who was, in reality, a clone of her father, and then committed espionage against the royal family in order to prevent nuclear war. He then figured that would make Otacon, Prince Charming. So that would mean that Cinderella and Prince Charming would end up working together and stop the metal gears. So would Marth be the fairy godmother?

 

He shook away the random, oddball thought as he stared at Marth’s wide smile, his hands clasped. He walked towards Snake with a small bounce in his step. Marth straightened out the collar of the blue denim top as he continued to smile.

 

“It looks great on you! If I didn't know any better, I would be thinking that you're trying to impress someone…” He noted with a mischievous smile. Snake stilled at those words. “I hit the nail on the head, right?” He grumbled something under his breath that Marth couldn’t make out. “Welp, whoever it is, I’m sure they’ll appreciate the fact you went the extra mile for them!” Marth backed away and eyed his work. His chest swelled with pride at another job well-done.

 

“Anyway, you should probably put them away if you don't want them to wrinkle before the picnic!” Marth ordered as he shut the closet door. “If you need anything else, just ask! I could use the company!” Marth bowed as Snake shook him away.

 

“Please, your highness, don't-”

 

“Like I said, there's no need for formalities, Snake-”

 

“Alright, we're going by first name basis, huh?” He grabbed Marth’s hand and shook it. “Don't call me Snake then,” Marth opened his mouth to object before Snake shushed him. “Call me Dave,” Marth smirked, returning the grip and shaking it also.

 

“Dave it is then,” Both men looked at each other and laughed hard.

 

At this rate, Dave was sure he needed more than one hand to count how many people knew his real name. And for the first time, that thought didn't scare him. He knew he was safe here.

 

----

 

Snake: only 3 more days!

 

He sent a picture of the night sky that was covered in shining stars.

 

Snake: can't wait to see you again!

 

It didn't take long to get a response.

 

Otacon: they look so pretty wow ❤

 

Otacon: not as beautiful as you ;)

 

Dave felt his cheeks become warmer as he sucked his teeth.

 

Snake: since when did you become so suave?

 

Otacon: well, cant reveal my secrets ;)

 

Otacon: but anyway i cant wait ! 3 days cant come faster enough !

 

Otacon: i already got a letter about directions and how we are gonna get there !

 

There was an image attached to it. It was Sunny curled up, sleeping on the couch. The soft blue glow of the TV reflecting against her.

 

Otacon: still havent told her yet ;) im gonna surprise her

 

Oh, well Snake had a better surprise for him, but he can't really tell him now.

 

Snake: im sure she's going to be ecstatic. :)

 

Yep, only 3 more days. They're going to be the longest ever.

Chapter Text

“I bet 5 bucks it's Samus,” Wario confidently said as he handed Peach some money.

 

“I'm puttin’ my money on Bayo,” Falco said as he slammed a couple of dollars to Daisy. The two women hesitantly took the money and placed it into their respective box.

 

It was just a simple joke the two women had come up in their own little circle. Just a “haha let's make a bet on who Snake is gonna propose to” kind of joke. It was never supposed to get this far. Soon, the “joke” had spread to Robin, Corrin, and their circle. Fine, they were trustworthy and smart enough to get a joke. Nope. It soon started to spread to more and more fighters.

 

Now here they were, both ladies holding boxes of money based on bets on who Snake is going to fucking marry. Each box was for each candidate. The two people that have the most money for were Samus and Bayonetta. Quite odd since she hasn't seen Snake and Bayonetta talk. Maybe they did, but she never saw? Who knows. Then there were the joke-boxes such as (hilariously) Captain Falcon. The only people who bet on him was… Captain Falcon.

 

Peach almost laughed at how fucking ridiculous it was as she took the money from Wario. She smiled and waved the two fighters away. As soon as the door was shut, she shoved her head into her hands.

 

“Me and my big mouth,” She sighed. Daisy patted her on the back.

 

“Welp, here we are now. Just one more day and the bet is over,” Daisy tried to reassure her only to receive a groan in response.

 

-----

 

Snake wasn't oblivious to the bet. He of all people would know something like that. He's got an IQ of 180 for Christ’s sake. But… feigning ignorance was fun. He'd often tease the other fighters by talking to some of the women whenever there was a crowd that would watch them.

 

He'd love watching them immediately huddle and whisper and point and Snake would just ham it up even more.

 

Of course, Bayonetta caught on and only decided to help him “rile up the crowd” as she put it. Even though she also knew of the bet and what it was about, she never asked who he actually was going to propose to. To which, Snake was internally grateful for. He wasn't sure whether it was good or bad that she didn't care, but not like anyone was gonna win that money.

 

Anyhow, it was Friday, so no one really cared about matches at this point and most of them are just settled by a game of rock, paper, scissors which made the Hands upset, but it was their tier that would rise or fall not theirs. Whenever someone lost, they would jump off the stage, taking their stock off. It would repeat until someone “won the set.”  

 

It was something of an experience when Snake realized he's playing rock, paper, scissors against Falco on Magicant. Might as well put those observational skills FOXHOUND shoved into him to good use.

 

It wasn't hard to read Falco since he only… used…. Rock…

 

“Best two out of three!” Falco cried out, infuriated at his losing streak.

 

“It already is…”

 

Either way, he won, but he actually wanted to fight and everyone else's lethargy was catching up to him.

 

He strolled back to his room, disappointed that each match ended with Falco jumping off the stage and into the blast-zone. Every single time. (Snake jumped off once just to see what Falco would do, but the bird still picked rock.)

 

So anything was a surprise for him and seeing Samus wait outside his room and not in her Zero Suit anymore was a pleasant one.

 

“What are you doing here?” He asked.

 

“Oh shit, not even a ‘hi’?” She joked as she lightly punched his shoulder. “Anyway, no, I just wanted to see if you were up for a couple of drinks,” She proposed with a smile. Well, he can't say no to that.

 

“Sure, let me change,” Snake said.

 

“You already had your last match?” She asked.

 

“Yeah, a singles against Falco. My doubles were moved to this morning,” He explained.

 

“Same, something about construction or some shit happening to the doubles floor?” She noted. “Did you actually fight?”

 

“Nope, rock, paper, scissors,”

 

“Lucky, mine was against Captain Falcon,” She sucked her teeth. “Guy's too headstrong to not purposely drop a match,”

 

“Can't be better than winning against a bird who only used rock,” Snake commented with a snort.

 

“No,” Samus gasped in shock to which Snake nodded. He pushed his door open and saw Ryu and Cloud there watching their newly purchased TV. He greeted them in Japanese as he went through his closet and absentmindedly went to get his clothes.

 

Only to grab an empty coat hanger. He immediately came to his senses and saw that his entire closet was empty. And by empty he meant empty. Not a single thing was left in there. His clothes. His shoes. His weapons.

 

Fuck.

 

His weapons.

 

He whipped his head to the other two men.

 

“Nē, anata wa watashi no fuku ga doko ni iku no ka shitte imasu ka?” (Hey, do you guys know where my clothes went?) He asked. The two men shook heads and went back to watching TV. Snake laughed and assumed they were just pulling some prank on him. “Watashi wa shinkenda, karera wa doko ni itta no ka shitte iru?” (I'm serious, you know where they went?) He lowered his voice.

 

Ryu lowered the volume on the TV immediately at the sound.

 

“Wareware wa amarini mo! Wareware wa nani mo furenakatta!” (We are too! We didn't touch anything!) Ryu tried to reason with the man. He desperately turned to Cloud for support. “Anata wa watashitachi no mae de dareka o mita to iimashita yo ne?” (You said you saw someone here before us, right?)

 

Cloud didn't even flinch. “Un, watashi wa ikutsu ka no mono o motte, ikutsu ka no kodomo-tachi ga heya o tsukaihatashite iru no o mimashita.” (Yeah, I saw some kids run out the room, holding some stuff.) Kids. Snake stilled. He immediately charged towards his drawer and went through them all. They were empty also. Wait. That meant.

 

“Shit!” He cried out before running out of the room, forgoing changing. He did thank the two as he ran out.

 

Samus was playing a game on her phone and flinched when she saw the man bolt out of the room. She was about to voice her concerns then Snake started talking.

 

“All my stuff is gone!” He screamed.

fanart by flying_mint_fangirl

 

She opened her mouth to speak but was interrupted again. “Yes, everything. My clothes, my weapons…” He lowered his voice to a whisper. “Hal’s ring…”

 

“Who?” She asked.

 

“Otacon!” She connected the dots together and laughed.

 

“That's funny! Hal and Dave! You should take a trip to Jupiter together!” She joked as Snake groaned.

 

“Yeah, that's what I said too,” He said.

 

She was about to propose looking for Snake’s stuff until a strong gust of wind knocked them off their feet. The growling of an animal was heard.

 

Snake looked up and saw…

 

Nana and Popo riding on top a large, black cat-like animal. Wearing his gear?! Nana had on the different buckles that had all of his pockets on it along with one of his bandanas.  While Popo tried to wear his near skin tight sneaking suit, except it mostly just flailed in the wind behind him.

 

“Go, Auntie! Go!” Nana screamed at the creature.

 

“Wait, was that Uncle Snake?” Popo cried out.

 

The cat-like creature came to a complete halt as it looked dead in the eye at Snake and Samus. It's bright yellow eyes piercing through their soul.

 

“What kinda of animal is that?” Snake leaned and whispered.

 

“I don't know I've never seen an animal like that… looks like a… uh… like a big cat of some kind?” Samus said.

 

“What? Like a puma?”

 

“Yeah man, there you go,” Samus confidently noted. Soon the creature shapeshifted into a human form. Into Bayonetta? The two confused as they watched her become her revert to her normal form. The two Ice Climbers falling to the ground with a thud.

 

“Panther, actually,” Bayonetta corrected them as she wiped any dust off herself. Well, compared to other stuff they've seen this is just normal, but there's still a very pressing matter. Snake’s stuff.

 

“I know love before you say anything, yes, the kids do have all of your stuff,” She sucked her teeth as she stared at a chipped fingernail before plucking it. “They said something about making a game out if it?” She cried before quickly transforming into a panther once more.

 

She held the twins between her teeth like a mom and her cubs and tossed them onto her back. Shards of glass flew as she jumped out the window to the outside. Snake and Samus stared at each other in shock at how fast everything happened.

 

“What was that?” He asked.

 

“Not sure, I'll take Bayo and you go find the kids!” She ordered before more glass flew as Samus jumped out the window after the woman. It's Saturday. Why can't anything be normal for once?

 

---

 

Samus slammed to the ground with a kick, stopping only inches away from Bayonetta. The panther came to a skid, clawing at the ground with dirt flying. The flip-kick creating a small tremor below them. The shock of Samus’ sudden appearance caused Bayonetta to revert back to her human form. The twins falling off her back again.

 

“Aw, I was hoping to have at least a little chase,” Bayo pouted with a flirtatious tone. Samus just stayed silent with her arms crossed and a cock to her hip. “Little ones, give the adults a bit of space, we need to talk about adult matters,” Bayo glared at the two kids and nodded her head in different directions. The two kids groaned in response, still wanting to ride on Bayo’s back.

 

“Alright, I guess I’ll explain to you about how babies are made again!” She sarcastically threatened, watching in amazement as both kids grimace and ran off towards the main garden. Samus eyed as they ran off in the distance.

 

“Again?” Samus asked.

 

“I made a joke and then they asked and all I did was explain,” She nonchalantly explained. Samus didn't want to ask. “Anyway, I know you’re not actually here to help Snake,” She picked dirt off her fingernails, not paying the bounty hunter any attention. Samus just glared even more at her.

 

“I am. His stuff is gone and the kids took it. I’m just being a good friend,” She countered.

 

“Friend?”

 

“Yeah, he’s a friend? What about it?”

 

“Hmm… Somehow, I don’t believe it,”

 

She groaned loudly as she slammed her hand into her face. “Oh sweet Jesus, this bullshit again…” Growing up with the Chozo, she never really understood other more popular, for lack of a better term, societal norms. The concept of romantic love between a woman and man wasn't something she cared about as she grew up nor was it enforced on her. Her entire life was built upon being the strongest warrior and training for said title. It wasn't until she was older and started to look into her own heritage and previous culture that she learned how prevalent it is.

 

But by then, she knew she didn't have an interest in men. Women, on the other hand, that's a different story. But either way, it always seemed to annoy her that during the Brawl, people would whisper about a possible “interest” in Snake. They were simply friends. A sudden wave hit her like a ton of bricks.

 

---

 

Samus grabbed a glass of water, as she stood there in the common hall. Several fighters scattered throughout the place, chatting with newcomers and old friends.

 

She wore her power suit since she just finished her last match and saw no reason to take it off. The third tournament had just started at it was quite the Brawl. She had just had her last match against a newcomer, some kind of wolf. She had gotten pummeled by his vastly superior speed and her own tanky nature absolutely not standing a chance against him.

 

She subconsciously tried to take a drink only for the glass to shatter against her helmet. People ignored the cursing underneath her breath and the sweeping of shards of glass.

 

She cursed her height and clunky armor as she tried to bend down and properly sweep. In battle, this was far more bearable; but for domestic use, it was more of a pain than anything. Yet, she didn't want to take it off. There wasn't any point, she had worn it since the beginning.

 

The Legendary Bounty Hunter. That's who she was. That's all she needs to be.

 

As she's cleaning up, she swears she can see a box moving out of the corner of her eye.

 

She shrugs it off and throws away the shards.

 

----

 

She laid in her bed, staring at the cream-colored ceiling. She hasn't painted her room yet. Closing her eyes, she finds solace in having a solo room.

 

The board in the main room flips through a variety of letters and numbers before stopping. A wave of fighters crowding around the board to see who they're up against.

 

Samus eyed the board through the helmet’s visor. The green tint of it slightly obscuring the white letters against the blackboard. She only had 3 matches. Mario, Kirby, and Snake? She's never heard of this person. Must be a newcomer.

 

The first two matches went by smoothly as she finally found herself victorious after a long streak of losses. Now it was just her last match against this newcomer. Seems like beating the shit out of someone is the best way to introduce herself. She laughed at that thought as she stepped into the battlefield. Across the stage, a rugged man with a skin-tight suit stood eyeing her. She figured, by all of the stuff that was attached to his body, that he must be some sort of spy.

 

Well, might as well put her own people skills to the test and say hello to the newcomer.

 

---

 

She got her fucking ass kicked. Hard.

 

She still felt the damage from the C4 as she wobbled out the room. He was easily able to out space her and take stage control with all of his projectiles. The only thing she had to block it was her arm cannon, but what's a cannon to C4, landmines, and grenades?

 

Even when she was able to force him into hand to hand combat, his kicks had a deceptively large hitbox and she wondered if the physics here were just wonky beyond repair.

 

She didn't carry enough pride and ego to be distraught at this defeat. Nevermind that he was a newcomer, that didn't matter. New. Old. She'll give you her respect if you prove worthy. Talent on the battlefield doesn't account for age to her. But yet, he was able to read all of her moves and effectively counteract her. The only time she felt like she had the upper hand was when she realized that in the air and offstage, he was a sitting duck. But even then, where there's a sitting duck, there's a phoenix waiting in the wings.

 

His ability to harm himself with his own projectiles in order to get another chance to recover and to use grenades in order to get out of her juggling was impressive.

 

She was lost in her own thoughts that she didn't even notice how rude she was for walking away.

 

“Hey! You! Lady!” She heard a rough voice, like gravel, call out. It was likely someone calling out for some other girl.

 

“In the suit!” They cried out again. Oh. They were calling her out. Wait? He was able to know that she was a woman?

 

She turned around and saw it was Snake. She bit her tongue, forgetting that it was in good nature to shake peoples hands after a match. She walks towards him. They are standing face to face, even though she towered him by several inches, he's unfazed. He sticks his hand out.

 

“Shouldn't you treat your guests with respect?” He remarked sarcastically. Her first instinct was to bite back, but his tone had no malice in it. She shook it back with her free hand.

 

“Pardon my rudeness. I was lost in my thoughts,” They pulled away. His hands were on his hips. His seemingly stoic face now showing some emotion.

 

“Nice fight,” He complimented. She paused.

 

“Thank you. You're also a worthy opponent,” She returned. There was a awkward silence between them. She was fortunate that her face was partially obscured by her visor so he wouldn't see the awkward pain written on her face. But by the looks of it, he also doesn't seem to know how to communicate with someone else. Bad people skills?

 

What does she do? Walk away? No, that would seem rude. Say goodbye? No, it's been silent too long in order to seem natural. Say som-

 

“You were holding back,” He promptly stated. She took a step back.

 

“Excuse me?” She said. She gave her all in that battle! Was she really that bad that he thought she was holding back? Was that supposed to be an insult? If so, then-

 

“You're thinking too much,” He called her out. Her eyes widened. “I don't mean any harm, don't worry.” She stood up from her defensive stance. “You don't take off your power suit at all, in or out of battle,” He elaborated. She wasn't sure whether to be creeped out at that.

 

“Why?” He asked. Wow, he really was putting her on the spot. What reason was there? There wasn't a reason to take it off, so she doesn't. That's a easy defense. Well, deep inside, she knew. She always knew.

 

“Why not?” She responded. Snake just glared at her even more, not at all happy with her response.

 

“Anyway, I want a rematch tomorrow,” He shook her hand once more before walking away. “Without the power suit,” He turned around and clarified. She snorted at that.

 

“The least you could do is give me dinner first,” She taunted at him with her tongue out, even though she isn't sure he could see her face.

 

“It's okay! I'm done with tomboys!” He chimed, walking backward with his tongue sticking out back at her. She laughed. She's laughing harder than she's ever known. It wasn't even that funny, but why was she laughing? She felt herself doubling over, heaving for air. Other fighters just stared in awe and confusion at her laughter.

 

She's lost it.

 

----

 

She laid in her room and stared at her hunk of metal laying on the floor. Her helmet staring back at her. Sitting up, she gripped her arms as she recounted what happened.

 

She didn't want to though. Looking into her own psyche and being introspective, it scared her. It was a weird thing to be scared of. She's supposed to be a legendary warrior, and here she was, afraid of her own mind. God, she felt pathetic.

 

A tear rolled down her cheek and she roughly wiped it away. No more tears, you have not enough to spare anymore. Her arm cannon became loose from the clutter and rolled her way to her feet, hitting it with a light thud.

 

She slowly picked it up as she ran her thumb across the scratched and scuffed metal. A defensive mechanism. That's what it was. She knew that's what it was, but didn't want to even think out loud.

 

A defense mechanism. Armor’s purpose is to protect you. She always wore it. Avoiding social contact by requesting a solo room.

 

She always knew why.

 

----

 

“I thought you weren't going to wear the power suit,” Snake questioned, standing across the stage. She shut her eyes and allowed the pieces of metal to fall to the ground with a loud slam as they all fell on top of each other. Metal against metal.

 

A soft sigh escaped with a stretch of her arms and legs. How long was she in that thing? With a roll of her neck and crack of her back, she looked straight ahead at her opponent. A cocky smile plastered on his face.

 

“Kept you waiting?” She remarked. Snake looked back at her with an offended look.

 

“Hey! That's my line!” He called out. She rolled her eyes and began to charge towards him. Her feet light against the ground, almost floating. The electric sound of her plasma whip unlocking from its holder. Not looking back.

 

----

 

She won.

 

----

 

“Oh god, I did not expect that…” Snake heaved as he walked up to the woman, expecting to see her in her zero-suit only to be greeted by a bulk of metal. “How did you put it on that fast?” He asked, amazed at the technology. There was a small motion that resembled a shrug.

 

“Magic,” she flatly stated as she held out her hand to which Snake slowly shook it.

 

“Well, I did ask for that pummeling,” He laughed as he let go. “Nice to see you actually fight,” He began to walk away with a flick of his finger.

 

“How did you know?” She asked. Snake paused and looked at her. “That I can fight underneath the suit?” He paused.

 

“Magic,” he replied. Samus rolled her eyes. “Alright, alright. I figured since you're a bounty hunter, you would need to know how to fight without it,” He elaborated. Confusion spread across her face.

 

“How did you-?” He soon pointed at his ear. That didn't really answer her question.

 

“Eh, I'll tell you later,” He said before waving bye.

 

Later. What a powerful word.

 

----

 

Huh, what an odd way to befriend people.

 

“Listen, hun, you can get off your soapbox now. I was teasing,” Bayo halted her speech.  Samus just stared at her in shock with a hint of being slightly offended as she was snapped out of her flashback. Wait, she was ranting?

 

“I get it too. But, I think it's funny to see them getting so riled up over this, no?” Samus furrowed her eyebrows even more.

 

“For you, I guess not since you've known him longer than anyone else here,”  

 

“Wow, how observant,” Samus sarcastically said.

 

“Listen, I may be a witch, but I'm at least a little bit empathic to my fellow sisters,” Samus blushed at that last word. Bayo walked towards the woman and wrapped an arm around her neck.

 

“I think we can both agree this bet is childish. There's only a day left in the bet. The least we could do is make a show,” Bayonetta winked at her. “Drinks tonight?” She added as she shoved a lollipop into her mouth.

 

“I got plans, sorry,”

 

“Oh, he'll be preoccupied. Besides, if he wants to join, then the more the merrier,” She continued with a bump to her hip and with a flick against Samus’ head. Bayo grabbed her wrist and started to drag her away. “So, let's make sure his stuff is safe in the meantime,” Bayonetta said as she dragged the bounty hunter with her in the directions the kids went.

 

Samus was about to protest once more, but Bayo had let go of her wrist and transformed back into her beast mode. Yellow eyes looking at her intensely. The top of her head hitting against her hand. Samus looked at her in confusion before cautiously petting the top of her head. An annoyed growl responded and she bit the ends of her sleeves and motioned towards her back.

 

Her eyes darting to Bayonetta and her back before slowly placing her hand and climbing on top of her. Right when she placed her weight on her, Bayonetta quickly sprinted, barely allowing her anytime to wrap around Bayo’s neck.

 

Her blonde hair flying behind her with the wind and the cool breeze kissing her face. She can feel her face flush at the adrenaline and speed. Her feet barely grazing the ground as they swung from the pressure. She slowly opened her eyes and took a deep breath.

 

Freedom. This is exactly what it felt like when she first took off her power suit for battle.

 

She could deny it all she wanted to, but Samus could swear that she could hear Bayonetta purring.

 

---

 

Of course, they would send him on a wild goose chase for fun. Snake dashed down the corridor to where their room was. He isn’t sure what he was going to do or say to them when he sees them. He’s probably going to talk to them. Sternly. Ok, maybe just tell them that if they wanted to play with his stuff to ask next time.

 

Snake pressed his face up against the door when he heard… church music? It sounded a lot like organ music. He wasn’t sure what to think about that, so he slowly opened the door.

 

“Why do I have to be Otacon? I wanna be Snake!” Lucas called out, wearing a large white sweater with fake glasses made out of pipe cleaners dangling from his face.

 

“Well, I'm older! So, I think I should be Snake!” Toon Link huffed, wearing one of his sneaking outfits and the bandana poorly tied around his head.

 

Snake had to bite back a snort. Oh fuck, these kids were playing dress up. He pulled out his phone to record.

 

“I think you're just mad Ness isn't Snake,” Toon Link mocked with his tongue sticking out. Lucas paused as his face turned a bright red.

 

“That's not true!”

 

“Yes, it is!”

 

“No, it isn't!” They continued to cry back and forth, their voices soon drowning out the church music. Megaman stood in the middle of it, watching the two tease each other. His face seemingly unfazed by their game.

 

“What am I supposed to even do?” Megaman asked, holding up the box containing the ring. Oh fuck, Snake quickly reminded himself of why he was there in the first place. He stood up from his crouching position and pushed the door wide open.

 

The three kids quickly stopped and stared at the man. Standing like deer in headlights, they looked at each other before attempting to bolt out the door. Snake quickly shut the door and stood in front of it. His arms were crossed in front of his chest with a smug smile painted on his face.

 

“You do know that I'll just find you again?” Snake questioned. The kids weakly laughed before stepping back. It was an odd sight, seeing Lucas in a white sweater too big for him with poorly constructed glasses, and Toon Link essentially dragging the gray suit. The sleeves following behind him on the floor. It was funnier see the super fighting robot with a cheap tie taped to his chest.

 

“What were you even doing?” He asked them to only be answered with silence. Snake shook his head. He knew what they were doing, but it would be funny to see what they would make up.

 

“Uhm… We were… uh… pretending… to reenact one of your missions! Yeah! There we go!” Toon Link triumphantly reasoned with a grin, his teeth showing. Both Lucas and Megaman facepalmed at his excuse. Snake didn't have it in his heart to really chew them out of just being kids.

 

He remembered when Sunny was younger and had rummaged through his and Hal’s clothing. The two were in the kitchen when Sunny had come tumbling to them, dressed the exact same as those kids had been doing. She was wearing his headband and his old bulletproof vest with Hal’s old sweater on top. He's pretty sure Hal still has that picture. It was quite a miracle that they still managed to salvage their dinner through their fits of laughter.

 

Snake sighed at the memory before gently plucking the small, red box from Megaman’s hand and putting it in his pocket.

 

“Yep, I believe you… The princesses’ dresses aren't enough fun?” He quipped, only half joking.

 

“They stopped lending us their dresses after the incident with the apple fritters and the fire extinguisher,” Lucas flatly explained with the other two nodding in agreement. Snake doesn't want to ask what that means, so he leaves it at that.

 

“Well… uhm… Next time, ask when you want to play with my stuff. Alright?” He sternly noted. The three kids nodded. Wait. “Where are my weapons?” He quickly asked. They all shrugged.

 

“Not sure, I think Villager and Bowser Jr. said something about testing whether the Inklings’ splat bombs, Young Link’s bombs, or your landmines were strongest,” Megaman said. As if on cue, there was a heavy rumble that shook the ground before hearing screaming follow it. Snake bolted out the door.

 

“You know where Ness is anyway?” He heard one of the kids ask.


---


After Jigglypuff and Wolf walked out, Peach slammed her head on the box of money. Daisy flinched at the sound as she rubbed the back of her head.

 

“Remember just one day,” She reminded. Peach shot her head back up and shoved the box under her bed. She got up and paced back and forth throughout the room.

 

“I'm done! I'm shutting the bet off! I have to get ready for the picnic! And I'm charge of meal preparations and decorations! So I can't focus on it! Ack!” She cried, venting to her friend. Suddenly the door slammed open from behind them, startling both of them. They turned to who it was at the door.

 

Ness?

 

“You still got time for one more bet?” He asked his hands behind his back. He slowly walked in as Peach still had shock painted on her face. How did this bet spread the word to the kids?!

 

“Were you just waiting by the door the whole time?” Daisy questioned the convenience of his timing. Ness shrugged.

 

“I like having a dramatic entrance,” He nonchalantly stated, looking down at the floor.

 

“I don't like taking money from kids!” She said, waving away the boy. Ness cackled in such a way that sent a chill down both princesses’ spines.

 

“Don't worry, I know not to bet more than what I can afford!” He reassured. He then pulled his arms from his back and slammed something down on the table. A quarter. Both ladies just stared at the shining coin. A weak laugh left both of their lips. Peach pulled the coin from the table and examined in between her fingers.

 

Yep, it was a real coin.

 

She mechanically pulled a box from under her bed labeled “Samus”.

 

“Stop!” Ness cried. She looked up with tired eyes at stared at the boy who had his hand up. “I'm not betting on Samus,” He corrected. She bent over to pick up the one labeled “Bayonetta”.

 

“Yeah, definitely not her either,” He remarked. Daisy looked at both Ness and Peach with a confused look. She could tell that Peach was desperately trying to hold back from screaming and returning everyone their money from the way the coin trembled between her fingers. The smile on her face was more plastic than legitimate.

 

“Alright… who are placing this bet for?” She asked in a sweet tone that bordered on condescending. It didn't seem to faze the kid.

 

“Can you put it for Otacon?” He asked with a smirk. Peach almost dropped the coin. She went searching through her drawer for another box. But only found a small, empty mason jar. She unscrewed the lid and tossed the coin into the jar before screwing it back on.

 

Daisy handed her a black permanent marker to which Peach took it with more force than necessary. Without looking up from Ness, she wrote his name on the lid. She looked down and realized she didn't space out his name correctly.

 

She decided to just write the ‘N' underneath what she had already written.

 

Ness began to walk away with his arms on his head. He soon stopped walking.

 

“What happens to the money if someone wins?” He asked, turning his head to the two of them.

 

“Well, all that was bet gets split evenly among those who won,” Peach explained. Ness turned his entire body to the two of them.

 

“So someone could bet 1 dollar and another could bet 200 on the same person and they would win the same amount? That doesn't seem fair?” Ness questioned.

 

“Don't worry, I keep track of how much each person bet so it's distributed fairly and proportionally,” She smiled. The binder that contained the spreadsheet of how much each person gave and for who was in her drawer also. “Is that all?” She asked. Daisy started to sweat at the unknown tension.

 

“Uhm… if say, hypothetically, I was to win? Since I'm the only one who bet on one person, what would happen?” He asked, biting his nails. Peach had to use all of her restraint to not laugh and seem rude to the boy.

 

“Then you would get all the money!” Daisy answered in Peach’s stead. Ness looked up and hummed before skipping out the door with a devilish grin. Peach went and closed the door behind him. She hit her head softly against the door and sighed.

 

Daisy shook the tiny mason jar. The coin jingling against the glass. They both looked at each other and the jar. Neither of them knew what to make of it.

 

----

 

Night came and Snake was too exhausted to really find Samus, but he's pretty sure she found something else to do if she didn't go out and find him. He groaned as he kicked opened, arms full with a box of his weapons. He was covered in soot from the explosion of all those bombs.

 

Several people starting screaming at the damage and the commotion, but those kids could survive a leveled city. But after the large scolding, he carried his weapons back into his room as Cloud, Sonic, and Ryu watched the very disheveled man.

 

“Something tells me that he got his stuff back,” Sonic whispered which earned him a jab from Ryu. It was quiet as the man entered the room, only the TV really making any noise.

 

“Well, the kids came by a while ago and dropped off a box here,” Ryu noted as he pointed at a bent up box with “snakes stuff” written on the side in sharpie with childish handwriting.

 

“Baiyonetta mo anata no tame ni baggu o nokoshimashita,” (Bayonetta also left a bag for you.) Cloud added on. Snake looked down at black plastic bag next to the box. They all offered to place all of his stuff back to which he graciously accepted. (Though he did make sure that he still had the ring in his pocket, and it was thankfully.)

 

After a quick shower, things returned to normal as the three continued to watch TV. Snake plopped onto his bed, tired beyond belief. Till he heard his phone beep with a notification.

 

He pulled his phone out and saw it was a message from Hal. He perked up and smiled and unlocked it.

 

There was a video attachment. He looked at his roommates and saw they were distracted, so he grabbed his earbuds and put them on and clicked on the video.

 

---

 

“Hey! Sunny!” Hal called out from behind the camera. Dave smiled at his voice. The floorboard creaked under his steps as he walked towards the little girl who was coloring on the living room table. She looked up from her markers and smiled. Her eyes shining like pearls.

 

“Yeah, dad?” She asked, unsure of what he needed and looking at the camera. The camera moved down to meet her at eye level.

 

“I have a little surprise for you,” He said with joy. She immediately stood up straighter at that word as a smile slowly started to creep on her face. Sounds of shuffling behind the camera could be heard as he pulled out a small, thin box and placed it on the table. Sunny looked at the box and back at her dad as she giggled a bit. She cautiously ripped the Christmas gift wrapping and slowly opened the top, eyeing her father at the same time. Dave bit his lip as he wondered what it was too. He could just imagine Hal holding back a smile.

 

The top slid right off as Sunny peered inside. A white envelope laid there. She carefully picked it up with her small fingers. Flipping to the other side, there was a wax insignia that kept the letter shut. It was the same one as the one on the letter he got. Her head tilted to the side as she examined the letter. Out of the corner of the camera, Hal’s hand made a beckoning motion. She looked at him and peeled the wax away, allowing the letter to be freed.

 

Repositioning it so she can properly read it, she kept looking at the camera.

 

“Read it out loud, Sunny!” Hal told her. Her head moved back to the letter.

 

“To the Emmerich household, as per the request of Solid Snake…” She paused and looked at her father again to which he just beckoned her again. “We graciously invite you…” She paused again. “To visit him and the other fighters for a picnic gathering…” Her head moved up as her eyes widened. The smile on her face grew wider and wider.

 

“So?” Hal said. Sunny’s eyes lightened up and sparkled. Dave really misses his little girl. There are tears forming.

 

“We are gonna visit papa?!” She screamed out loud, her hands slamming on the table, making the markers jump and roll off it. Hal nodded and hummed in response.

 

“Yeah we are, we are gonna visit him Sunday!” Sunny got up and jumped up and down and screamed. She hopped in circles with her arms flailing around. Her excitement was untamable as she ran around the room, screaming about happy she was.

 

The camera turned back to Hal as he softly laughed and watched Sunny continue to jump. Hal looked right at the lens and smiled.

 

“Look who’s happy,” He said as Sunny jumped into the frame and tackled him; Hal barely able to hold onto her without dropping them both.

 

“Muah! Muah! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” Sunny pecked her father’s cheek multiple times with a smile. Hal just lets it happen and smiled. Dave put a hand to his mouth to cover the smile that was appearing.

 

“Don’t thank me, thank your father! Say hi!” He noted, pointing at the camera. Sunny looked straight at it and grinned.

 

fanart by flying_mint_fangirl

 

“Hi, Papa! I miss you!” She waved. Dave couldn’t help but wave back. Soon, she jumped off the couch and ran away, her footsteps becoming quieter and quieter. Hal watched as she ran to her room before returning his attention back to him.

 

“We can’t wait to see you soon…” A light pink blush appeared on his face. “Love you,” The video soon ends as Hal presses the stop button.

 

---

 

Dave smiled at the last frame. His fingers grazing the screen. He felt his heart swell again. He quickly typed a message back.

 

Snake: I love you both too <3

 

He quickly grabbed his phone and turned the camera on.

 

“Hey, mind if I get a picture of everyone?” Snake asked the other 3 people as he fumbled with the camera settings. They all looked up and saw the phone and nodded with an agreement. Sonic hung upside down from the bunk bed and gave a peace sign to the camera. Ryu sat on the floor, hugging a pillow as he winked and gave a thumbs up. Cloud laid on his stomach on Ryu’s bed. He turned to the camera and gave a small smile and wave.

 

Snake hoped that he at least got one good picture. He thanked them and started to look through the gallery.

 

“Who’s it to?” Sonic asked, still hanging from the bed.

 

“Otacon,” He responded, not giving any attention to the teen. He simply hummed and tried to pull himself up back to bed. Instead, he fell, face first, to the ground with a thud. Cloud mumbling something about “childproofing” his bunk to which Sonic grumbled.

 

He was fortunate to find one that wasn’t awfully blurry and didn’t have his thumb on the lens and sent it.

 

Otacon: just showed sunny the image and she just wants to see you now :,3

 

He continued to text him with a gross smile plastered on his face as he did.

 

“Yo, is Snake broken?” Sonic asked, watching the man smile at his screen. Ryu simply grunted, taking his eyes away from the TV and to the hedgehog. Sonic pointed at the man. Ryu simply watched as Snake smiled. He hadn’t known Snake for a long time, but it was still a… sight… to see the man grin and type rapidly.

 

“Anata wa futari o ikite kudasai…” (Let the man live, you two...) Cloud flatly scolded them. Even though he was the one who scolded them, he still couldn’t help but wonder why Snake was smiling so much.

 

Chapter Text

The day before the picnic was unremarkable, at least to Snake it was. The Hands had officially announced the picnic. But most people already knew about it, so there wasn't much of a point to the meeting. That was until they tacked on at the end the announcement the arrival of several new fighters. Now that got some people's attention. Although, Snake really couldn't be excited over new fighters when he's got other important things to worry about.

 

Seeing as it was Saturday, it mostly just consisted of lazing around with his roommates, watching whatever was airing on TV. The three helping Cloud by translating whatever they were saying. They bonded over showing each other different shows that would air in their homes. Snake’s impressed at how many channels it has and the variety.

 

The kids later popped in and joined them and asked them to hold them and asked Sonic to sing them a song.

 

“You play?” Snake asked the blue blur. He shyly smiled and gripped his skin.

 

“A bit,” Sonic said as he pulled out a well-loved guitar from under his covers. “People seemed to like it, so I used to play often,” He explained, tuning his guitar. All of the kids quickly smiled and rushed into the laps of one of the other adults, quickly seating themselves as they looked up to the top bunk where Sonic was. Lucas tugged at Snake’s arms and made him wrap around the kid.

 

They were very clingy kids.

 

The sun was setting as they all watched him sing and play his guitar. Pinks, oranges, and purples filling the room. The soft strumming really catching Snake off guard. He suspected him to play something faster. But this was... cute.  

 

Anywhere you wanna go,

Anything you need to know,

All the best in life,

I wanna get it for you.

 

He could hear his voice waver a bit, likely from the lack of practice. He swears he could hear him shiver.

 

Lately, I just feel so fine,

I imagine that you're mine,

In my world, you're gold,

I only wanna protect you.

 

At the last line, Sonic’s voice grew stronger and stronger from confidence. Despite the strong resolve, the blue blur’s gaze was soft as if he was thinking about someone.

 

Whatever I want, I get,

I want a shooting star,

Whatever I need, I have,

When I'm with you.

 

He thought about Hal.

 

-------

 

At night, he and Samus drank at the same stool they always sat at. She didn't really describe much about where she went yesterday aside that it was fun and that Bayonetta was there and Snake didn't want to pry. Simple talking of what was to happen tomorrow floated between them. She gave him many coy smiles and simply hoped for the best.

 

Before he went to bed, he received one last text from Hal which consisted of a picture of Sunny hopping in some puddles. Apparently, it was raining before. They texted each other about their desire to see each other again and how close it was.

 

Snake: God I cant wait to see you tomorrow <3

 

Otacon: ✿♥‿♥✿ neither can i !! its so close !!

 

How close it was indeed. Snake fell asleep with his heart pumping beyond belief.

 

---

 

Now here he was. Snake stood outside of the main building complex along with several other fighters who asked to bring a friend to the picnic. Along with Mario and Peach who were in charge of greeting the newcomers. He woke up early, unable to really comprehend that he was gonna do it. He was gonna propose to Hal.

 

He shoved a hand into the shorts that Marth gave him. He made a mental note to thank the prince for the clothing he's wearing now.

 

His fingers fiddling the small box around in his pocket. It was so light, yet he felt it weigh him down. There was a loud thumping in his chest and he felt like he was gonna sweat soon. The other fighters seemingly unaware of his anxiety. Several of them chatting amongst each other.

 

“Don't die on me, Dave!” Samus yelled behind him with a slap on his back. Snake let out a loud grunt at that. “Guess age is getting to you,” Samus laughed out loud at his reaction. “Didn't mean to scare you!” Snake grumbled something about not being old. She stood next to him, arms resting behind her head. She wore an orange sweater and some black leggings, trying to look good even if she nearly woke up late.

 

“Shit, I can't believe I'm gonna do it,” Snake said.

 

“Welp, you better believe it! You know what you're gonna say or how you are gonna do it?” She asked. Snake froze. For thinking that he's prepared for everything, he didn't think about how he was gonna do it. He cursed himself and slammed his hand to his forehead. “I guess that's a no,” She laughed before realizing how he was actually upset.

 

“Guess I'm just gonna wing it then,” Snake remarked. Right afterward, a large gust of wind and an enormous beam of light blinded them all knocked the balance off most fighters. Snake and Samus instinctually went to protect each other, grabbing each other into a defensive position.

 

They were tossed to the ground, gripping each other. The light and wind soon weakened, but its effects still present as they found it difficult to open their eyes. Snake and Samus still held each other as they looked up.

 

“I thought I told the Hands to place a warning sign near the docking place!” They heard Peach huff. She looked down at the pair coddling each other and squealed. The two were confused as to why she was squealing as they got up from the ground, seeing all of the other fighters also disoriented.

 

Even as Peach walked away to help the other fighters, she kept staring at them with a sharp smile. Snake and Samus looked at each other and shrugged. It soon became apparent that a train was suddenly in front of them, similar to the one that had brought them here. The pair watched as people soon stepped down from the train. They edged closer and closer as each person got off.

 

A very buff man with flowing blond hair walked off the train. Snake caught his glance and smiled.

 

“Simon?!” He shouted out to the man. Simon turned towards him and waved back before charging towards him. With an outreached hand, Snake gripped him and pulled him to a hug with a hard slap to his back. “Simon? What are you doing here?” Simon pulled back and grinned as he pulled out a letter from his pocket. Snake skimmed it and laughed.

 

“I’m here to join the battle!” He said with a confident smirk. Snake patted him on the back and congratulated him. Simon explained how his descendant, Richter, even joined alongside him. They briefly chatted as Pit and Megaman started to pull him away as they promised each other they would catch up once again. Samus was baffled at the exchange.

 

“Huh? How do you know him?” She asked as she watched Simon talking to Pit and Megaman. Snake shrugged and laughed.

 

“Birds of a feather, stick together,” He simply said. Samus continued to be baffled as she was still confused as to how he knows him.

 

Snake watched as a blue-haired man with broad shoulders and armor stepped out. He was confused as to why one of his sleeves ripped. He watched as two fighters, Robin and Lucina ran towards the man. Snake knew Robin was a skilled tactician and Lucina was just as skilled of a swordsman as Marth. Though he watched their interaction, attempting to piece together their relationship to the man.

 

“Chrom!” Robin cried out, catching the man's attention.

 

“Father!” Lucina also shouted, running alongside her mother. They both tackled the man as he tried to keep his balance up. Chrom pulled away from the hug and kissed Robin’s cheek and also kissed Lucina’s forehead. Tears rolling down both women's faces. Trailing behind Chrom were 3 kids: a small girl who looked to be around 6 years old carrying a 2-year-old boy and a boy with the same shade of blue hair who wore the same clothes as Robin and was about 15.

 

Robin let go of the hug and went to kiss and hug all three of the other children before returning to Chrom. Lucina went to hug the older boy and then the other children. Huh, the 6 year girl and Lucina looked a lot alike. Wait, it was a family of four?!

 

“What are you doing here?!” Robin asked, unable to stop the stream of tears as she cupped her husband's cheeks. Chrom mimicked her behavior.

 

“I could be asking you the same thing…” He said with another kiss to her cheek.

 

“I only expected Morgan and the two little ones to come, how did-” She trailed before being shushed. Chrom pulled out a letter from his pocket as Robin took it from him. She skimmed the letter and dropped it in shock. “Are you…”

 

“I finally got my chance, didn't I?” Chrom said with a wink as she pulled him closer into another kiss that was messier than the first. “Guess you got a nice discount… four for the price of one...” He mumbled into her hair with a smile as Robin playfully punched him.

 

“I'm so happy you're here…” She whispered.

 

Snake continued to observe as Lucina walked side by side next to what seems to be all of her siblings, while Chrom and Robin walked behind them and held hands. If he looked just right, he could see something gold on their fingers. They looked at each other in a loving gaze, stealing kisses when the kids weren't looking.

 

Snake’s heart swelled at the sight. He wondered about-

 

“Hey! I think that's them!” Samus hit him in the back of his head as she pointed at someone walking down the train's steps. Snake snapped his head to the train as he watched who was walking down. He could recognize that small tuft of silver hair anywhere. A small girl hopped down the steps with her small blue dress flowing along with her hops. Her large combat boots heavy as they hit each metal step. There was a slim man with brown shaggy hair walking behind her with a thin white coat floating a bit in the wind.

 

“Otacon! Sunny!” Snake shouted to them. They both immediately perked and looked for the origin of the voice. Snake and Samus waved their arms to get their attention. Sunny smiled widely, jumping high from the last step and running to the man with Otacon following behind her.

 

She jumped into his arms as Snake gave her a spin and kiss on her cheek and dropped her to the ground. Sunny eyed the tall, blonde woman next to him before recognizing her as a friend of her father and waving hi to her with a toothy grin.

 

“Hello, Ms. Samus!” She proudly stated, carrying pride in the fact she remembered her name. Samus was taken back at how… adorable she was. She waved 'hi' back to the kid. Loud gasping for air was heard.

 

“Ach, she's getting faster, huff, each day,” Otacon gasped out, heaving over for air. Snake laughed and rubbed his back and helped him up. They both stared at each other with a softness that’s adorable. Samus looked down and saw how gently their fingers intertwined, just their tips interlocking. Hal’s fingers brushed across Dave’s hand. Man, they really had it bad.

 

“Hi, Sunny! You wanna meet the other kids?” She kneeled down to face the child. Sunny watched her with wide-eyes. She then gave a slow nod and Samus got up and nudged Dave in the shoulder. He snapped out of it as Samus winked and gave them a peace sign, holding Sunny’s hand and walking away from Hal and Dave.

 

“What about dad and papa?” She asked, gazing at the tall woman, only slightly intimidated by her height.

 

“Don’t worry, they’ll catch up,” She commented with a boop to her nose, hoping to seem more friendly. She turned back to her parents and saw how they stared at each other and turned back to Samus. Her mouth formed an O-shape as she understood that they wanted some “alone time”.

 

Hal and Dave watched as the two walked into the main building. Hal's fingers twitched as he watched Sunny walk away.

 

“She's growing up so fast…” Hal whispered as he continued to watch. The still rising sun painting Hal in colors of orange and yellow that only highlighted his features. God, Hal was so beautiful. Dave leaned in to place a kiss on Hal's cheek. Hal quickly turned his head back to Dave and their lips interlocked.

 

Neither man moved, taking in each other's presence. Hal pressed a hand against Dave's chest with Dave wrapping an arm around his waist. Had it really only been a week? Dave deepened the kiss and Hal angled his head better and tugged him closer. Dave could swear he could smell his cologne on Hal. He smirked at that thought.

 

By how they were acting, it felt like they hadn't seen each other in months. They solemnly pulled away and gazed at one another. Dave could cry right now.

 

“Missed you, hun,” Dave softly whispered, their foreheads touching. Hal hummed in agreement, his fingers gently grazing Dave’s.

 

“Is it okay to hold your hand?” Hal asked. All Dave could do was laugh. Bless his considerate soul. Dave didn't respond and just held Hal’s hand, squeezing lightly while rubbing his thumb along Hal’s skin. Their hands fitting into each others like a lock and key. It truly was amazing how they complement one another. His calloused hands finding paradise in Hal’s softer ones.

 

Dave began to walk into the main building, tugging Hal behind him.

 

“How was your trip, hun?” Dave asked. Hal sighed as Dave chuckled.

 

“Quite an experience. I can't believe that's what you deal with on a daily basis!” Hal commented. The engineer softly fixated on his partner's smile. Wait. Holy shit. He shaved. What the fuck? He also did his eyebrows. He styled his hair too?! Where did he get his clothes from?! Hal can't remember Dave ever packing them.

 

“You okay?” Dave asked, noticing his sudden silent demeanor. Hal blushed profusely.

 

“Shit Dave, you look really good today. I -uh- not to say that you didn't look good before. What I meant to say was- uhm… Shit.” Hal stumbled through his words with Dave laughing in response. He let go of his hand and pulled him closer and wrapped an arm around his waist, joining them by the hip.

 

“I had to try and look good for you,” Dave said in that flirtatious tone that made Hal's chest swell. Hal pressed a kiss against a rugged man’s cheek. The new stubble grazing Hal’s face.

 

“Well, I really like it,” Hal commented with a bump to his hip.

 

----

 

Peach watched from a distance the two men walking into the building. She was in charge of making sure everyone arrived safely and that they were all on time. She still smiled at how Snake and Samus hugged each other to protect one another. It was so cute! Though, she was curious about who Snake was bringing along.

 

She eyed them as she helped the guests and pointed them to where they need to go. Watching a little girl and a tall man with messy brown hair walk towards Snake and Samus, she decided to flip through the pages in her clipboard and see who they were.

 

Hal Emmerich. Engineer. A friend of Solid Snake. Just a bunch of basic info like age, occupation, and where he resides. Oh, so he's a friend. Peach smiled. Aw, he's bringing his best friend to witness his proposal... What a lovely friendship... Though who was the little girl? She skimmed through the rest of the page.

 

Sunny Emmerich. 9 years of age. The child prodigy in computer programming. Daughter of Hal Emmerich. Oh, so that's the man's daughter? She scanned the area for the kid and saw her walking with Samus. Her platinum hair shining in the sun. Wait, so was Hal married then? Who's the mother? It was way too early to decipher someone's family tree. She sighed and looked up from her clipboard.

 

She eyed the two men walking hand in hand talking to each other and soon pressed near each other, an arm wrapped around each other’s waist. She smiled at the sight.

 

Though, now she's really wondering something… why is she being so… hyper-fixated on who Snake is gonna propose to?

 

It's easy for her to think it's for the juicy gossip, but if it had been she would've gossiped to more people. But it only left her circle of friends after Daisy took the bet seriously when she made that offhand joke.

 

Peach thought about Snake getting on one knee and proposing to Samus. Her first instinct was to be happy for her friend. But, there was a biting in her chest… It felt kinda painful also... Why were her feelings suddenly so confusing?!

 

She hit her head against the clipboard as she mumbled to herself to stop letting these emotions get to her.

 

----

 

Dave took Hal into the main building to the back door where the picnic was being held. Pushing the door to the outside, there laid a wide green scenery with several trees littered throughout the area. It kinda resembled those public parks he and Hal would also go to take Sunny outside.

 

A wide table was filled to the brim with plates, cups, cutlery, drinks and other necessities and was decorated with several vases of flowers. Multi-colored streamers and balloons adorned the trees. Several fighters were setting up multiple large charcoal grills. The size of them was like ones from professional restaurants and the fact they had so many of them amazed Hal.

 

Other fighters were setting up the picnic tables as Rosalina and Luma ordered where to put them. Dave quietly thought how the kids with their telekinesis would make it easier to move them rather than hand carry it, but that was just him. Speaking of kids, where was Sunny?

 

“Papa! Dad!” They both heard a familiar voice cry out. Both of them immediately bolted to the source of the sound, concerned for her safety. Their protective parenting instincts went into overdrive as they wondered if she was ok.

 

“Sunny are you ok?!” They both shouted in unison as they skidded to a halt. They were met with an interesting sight.

 

Sunny was being tossed in the air back and forth like a beach ball between Ness and Lucas. Before she could touch the ground, Ness would use his telekinesis and toss her in the air towards Lucas and he would do the same. Dave watched as she moved up and down and back and forth in the air. He nearly flinched and made a run for it when she nearly touched the ground.

 

He looked at Hal and he was terrified at the sight, tightening his grip on Dave’s hand whenever she was in the air. The other kids and Sunny’s laughter contrasting how the two men felt. Sunny looked at them in the eye with a smile and a cheeky grin, oblivious to her dads’ feelings.

 

“Hi!” Toss. “Dad!” Toss. “And!” Toss. “Papa!” She screamed in intervals whenever she was in the air. Both of their skins whitened. They let out a sharp grunt when a large force hit them both in their backs. It was Samus.

 

“You guys are adorable! Don't worry, I'm watching the kids!” She laughed at how they acted. Standing in between them, she placed a hand on each of their shoulders and squeezed with a snort.

 

“Sweet Jesus Dave…” Hal muttered as he fixed his glasses.

 

“Welcome to my world…” Dave responded. Hal quickly realized who was standing between them and flinched when all of his senses caught up with him.

 

“Oh my God! You're Samus Aran!” Hal cried as he turned to the tall woman. She winked and smirked.

 

“The one and only!” She remarked with a smile. Hal was starstruck at the fact the most legendary bounty hunter was standing before him. It only stunned him at how Dave was a part of all of these icons. He gripped her hand and started to repeatedly shake it.

 

“I can't believe it! It's actually you! It's such a pleasure to meet you! I have all of your action figures-!” Hal rambled as he continued to rapidly shake her hand. Samus was overwhelmed by his… enthusiasm.

 

“Wow, they make figures of me where you guys come from? Man, I'm jealous!” She said, gripping the back of her neck. Dave slapped a hand on Hal’s back.

 

“Don't piss yourself, hun,” He said with a chuckle. Hal immediately stopped and glared at him. But he pressed a finger against Hal’s lips before he could retort.

 

Dave pulled out the book that Hal had given him before he left to put all the autographs in. He gasped and let go of Samus’ hand and gripped the book tightly. He carefully flipped through the pages and on each page was a picture of all the fighters currently here and their signature. Hal laughed at Kirby’s picture which was him and Dave posing while Kirby was dressed up as him. Kirby’s signature just being a print of his paw (or was it his hand?) along with nonsensical scribbles.

 

“I'm not sure whether to call you out on what you said or kiss you for this book,” Hal said, not really meaning his threat at all. Dave wrapped his arm around his neck and pulled him close.

 

“I'd like the latter better,” He mumbled into Hal’s neck. The engineer rolled his eyes and placed a hand on both sides of his face and yanked him into a kiss, dropping the book. Dave placed his arms around Hal’s neck and smiled into the kiss. All Samus could do was roll her eyes as she picked up the forgotten book.

 

She heard a gasp from behind them. When she turned around, it was Zelda who had just walked out the door. Samus followed her line of sight and knew she was looking at them. Samus looked at the princess straight in the eye and smirked. The poor princess immediately blushed at how she was noticed and covered her face and sped away. The tips of her ears also a red tint. Welp, maybe they'll talk about that now. She decided to slip away from the duo to talk to Zelda about keeping what was going on between them.

 

They only broke the kiss when they heard a shrill scream behind them followed by someone shouting “dogpile!” All three of them turned to the commotion to see all of the young fighters all piled on top of each other in a mountain with Sunny sitting on top of them all; the kids below her breaking her fall. She smiled and waved to her parents, ignoring the groans from below her.

 

They all laughed and the kids looked up and saw who was laughing. They immediately smiled as they saw who was here.


“It's uncle Hal!” The kids cried out in unison before tackling the poor man to the ground. Dave smiled as he watched Hal become trapped underneath a pile of children. Sunny even joined in the pile with an ‘oof'. Hal tried to reach a hand out to get up, but the kids didn't relent. He can deal with one kid, but what about several? Dave thought with a laugh as Hal struggled to get up once more. He rolled his eyes and cracked his fingers.

 

“Alright, before you suffocate him…” Dave mumbled as he opened in arms wide and wrapped around them, carrying them up and pulling them away. Hal heaved as he sat back up and smiled at how welcoming these kids were.

 

“I can't believe you're actually here! Man, pictures don’t lie!” Popo cheered.

 

“Wow! So Snake wasn't making you up just to seem social,” Nana sarcastically joked which earned her a jab in the side from her brother.

 

“Yeah, I'm with Nana. You have no idea how socially awkward this man was when he first came along!” Toon Link bluntly stated while pointing at Dave. Snake glared at the kid as TL sheepishly grinned. “Hey, it's true! Did he ever tell you about-?!” Dave picked up the kid and rubbed the top of his head.

 

“Are we here to rag on me or welcome Hal?” Snake smiled through gritted teeth and dropped the kid. Otacon smiled at his interaction with those kids. No wonder they seemed so fond of him.

 

“I mean, Snake does talk about you a lot…” Lucas said. Hal blushed and looked up at Dave, a light blush painted on his face.

 

“Aww… you talk about me?” Hal poked fun at the growing blush on Dave’s face as he grumbled.

 

“Oh yeah, it's almost like he's obsessed!” Ness tacked on. Hal blushed even more with his smile becoming wider with Dave just the same, his cheeks becoming redder. Man, Dave is really cheesy whenever he isn't around. Well, he usually is cheesy in his own way.

 

All of them quickly attached themselves to Hal as they began to basically interrogate him, not holding back at all with their questions. Dave watched as Hal happily began telling them stories of their days with Philanthropy. Even if Sunny has heard those stories a bunch of times, she still sat still and listened. They all leaned in as they were captivated by the stories from him, absolutely happy to hear more about the man that Snake constantly blabbered about and was infatuated with.

 

Dave sat down with the rest of them and was dazed by how the kids easily clung to Hal. It was almost like they had a bigger family now.

---

The three of them chatted amongst themselves as they watched all the kids play with one and another. They sat at one of the picnic tables with Snake sat in between Hal and Samus.

 

“I'm so surprised that she's getting along so well with the rest of them,” Hal said as he watched Toon Link and Young Link show off some tricks with their bow and arrows to Sunny.

 

“Those kids are sweet, of course, she's gonna befriend them,” Samus commented as the Ice Twins showed off their ice powers. Sunny screamed again and the three of them turned to where she was looking at.

 

Red and Leaf, the two Pokemon trainers had walked into the field with a parade of Pokemon following behind them.

 

“Dad! Look! Pokemon!” She called out as she pointed at the creatures. The two trainers immediately noticed her enthusiasm and ran towards her, beckoning all of them to follow. Pikachu and Pichu ran ahead and tackled the young girl to the ground, nuzzling her as weak volts of electricity escaped their cheeks. Hal just watched in awe at how they interacted with her.

 

Red and Leaf both sat down next to the girl as they introduced their Pokemon to her. Sunny was captivated by the creatures and the chance to see them in real life. She paid attention to what they told her.

 

  • All of Red’s Pokemon had something called “perfect IV’s”. Sunny didn't get it and Leaf had to stop him from going on a lecture about it.
  • All of Leaf’s Pokemon were “shiny” which translated to Sunny as a different color and very pretty.
  • Red’s Squirtle was named Bubbles who liked to wear sunglasses and greet people with a blast of water.
  • Leaf’s was named Buttercup who wore a straw sunhat and liked to be given attention and scratches.
  • Red’s Ivysaur was named Mint who liked to laze around.
  • Leaf’s was named Tea who really liked children. (She learned that when Tea lifted her up and rocked her side to side.)
  • Red’s Charizard, Cherry, loved to eat and Leaf’s, Cola, loved to play rough.

 

Sunny was having the time of her life as she smiled at the majestic dragons. “Do you wanna ride one of them?” Leaf offered. Sunny’s eyes sparkled at the promise.

 

“Wait… where are your parents?” Red asked. She gasped and pointed at the table with all three of them. “Uhm… go ask them if you can!”

 

“Maybe you can get them to join?” Leaf winked. Sunny sprinted to the table and waved her arms and flailed as she tried to persuade them to let her ride the dragon. Without even getting a response, she tried and drag them all away from the table and to the trainers.

 

“Please! Can we ride them?!” She pleaded with puppy eyes. Snake gripped his neck, wondering how safe it could be. He turned to Otacon and he saw him bite his lip. He's holding back his own excitement of the possibility of riding one of those mystical creatures he had figures of.

 

“Yeah, sure!” Samus answered for them to which Sunny squealed and hugged her legs and hopped in place. Hal even let out a small sound that only Snake heard. Red whistled Cherry to move downward and lay flat to allow them to get on. He helped Sunny get on her back as he sat behind her, his arms locking around the child. Snake then followed with Otacon behind him.

 

“Mind if I ride with you? Don't think I can fit…” Samus asked Leaf as her brows furrowed.

 

“There's still spac-” Samus shushed her and winked. Leaf smiled and nodded her head, understanding what she meant, and whistled for Cola to do the same as she hopped on and helped Samus up.

 

“How old are you, kid?” Snake asked as Charizard started to flap its wings, slowly lifting off the ground.

 

“Uhm… old enough!” He chimed before shouting as Cherry began her ascent higher and higher. “Hold on!” He cried as they were all suddenly taken to the skies. The sudden increase acceleration startling them as Snake gripped the trainer tightly and he felt Otacon wrap his arms around his waist, face against his back.

 

This reminded him so much when he first took Hal on a ride on the snowmobile when they first met up again after Shadow Moses. The two of them and their own warmth just riding into the sunset with no set destination. He vividly remembers how Hal pressed against his back as they tread through snowy forests, just enjoying the snowy breeze as their faces became cold. It felt exactly like that as they flew higher. The wind kissing his face in a way that reminisced of that moment. How long had that been? Years? He couldn't believe he was gonna propose to this man.

 

Dave opened his eyes and he was met with bright blue skies and white clouds and for a second he was sure he died and gone to heaven. His hair flowing behind him and he still felt Hal’s face against his back. Red looked ahead and screamed as they flew higher and higher with Sunny cheering along with him.

 

Dave looked to his left and saw Samus waving at them with Leaf following them right next to them. Cola’s shiny black scales shining in the sun like a diamond. Leaf’s face swelled with pride at Snake’s admiration of her Charizard. They came to a halt as Red motioned Cherry to stop in the air. The sound of its large flapping wings the only thing you could hear.

 

“I always love this view…” Red said quietly as he looked into the distance. Dave also looked and was taken away by the view. The main building standing tall as it slowly spread out into a green plain which morphed into a small forest to an area of thick trees. Off in the distance was a whole area of snowy mountains and tundra that glistened even from this far.

 

Red started to point and describe each area from the abandoned zoo to the small part of Skyworld that could be seen. But Dave was too lost in its beauty to listen.

 

“Hey, Otacon, open your eyes…” He whispered, coaxing the man to lift his head. He slowly did and Dave admired how his eyes shifted from being fogged with fear to admiration and pure joy. The smile that became wider and wider highlighting his best features, such as the little dimple he had whenever he smiled.

 

“Dave… this is so beautiful…” He whispered.

 

“I'm surprised you were scared. You can pilot a helicopter?” Dave teased as Hal huffed.

 

“There's a big difference between a helicopter and a dragon, Dave,” Hal defended. Dave looked down and saw everyone looking up and with some waving from down below. Just everything about this moment was so perfect. Maybe. Just maybe… He can do it here?

 

Dave took a deep breath. He's gonna do it.

 

“Hal… There's something important I need to ask you…” Dave quietly noted. Hal looked away from the scenery and turned his attention to Dave. His eyes were shining noticeably even behind his glasses. This is it.

 

“What is it- Oh God!” He screamed. Dave flinched at the sudden shift in tone before he noticed what was going on. His skin becoming pale when it registered.

 

Sunny was falling. A loud scream pierced the sky as the little girl flailed in the air.

 

Red immediately reacted and charged his way towards the young girl into a near nosedive descent, nearly knocking off the other two passengers.

 

“Leaf! The kid!” He called out with Leaf nodding and also flying after her. Dave felt a drop of sweat roll down his face. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. This really can't be happening. At the speed they were going at… no, he didn't want to think about that.

 

The other fighters watching helplessly as they watched the little girl in the air. Some of them began preparing for her landing while others attempted to ascend and meet her halfway.

 

Dave slowly lifted a foot up to stand, hoping to just dive after the girl himself.

 

Then the screaming stopped.

 

Red sharply halted, jittering Hal and Dave behind him. The only reason he didn't fall off also was that Hal holding onto him.

 

Where did she go? They all looked down and assumed that maybe Leaf had caught the girl, but the two women just shrugged and shook their heads. What the hell happened?

 

“Again!” A familiar voice cheered. The three of them looked straight ahead and were met with… Mewtwo?

 

The psychic Pokemon levitated in the air with the girl in his arms as she flailed and cheered. Dave felt a whiplash of emotion course through his veins. This was probably the most emotion he felt in such a short span of time.

 

“You really should take better care of these small creatures,” Mewtwo scolded the trainer.

 

“You can talk?!” Sunny asked, in awe of the noble creature.

 

“I'm communicating via telepathy, little one,” He elaborated, levitating the child back onto the Charizard before teleporting away. Sunny pouted at his sudden disappearance. There was silence among them all.

 

“Again!” Sunny cheered.

 

----

 

They immediately went back to the ground, much to Sunny’s chagrin. Many fighters gathering around them as they descended and praised Mewtwo for his heroic save. Mewtwo simply scoffed at them and continued with his brooding attitude, but not before making sure Sunny was unharmed as she touched the ground, dizzy from the air.

 

The second they all landed, Hal and Dave immediately held the young girl tightly and kissed her forehead and hair. They kept muttering their worries and thanks to that she was ok. Cherry even joined in the little huddle as she licked the top of her hair in condolence as she softly howled as if apologizing.

 

As much as she loved the attention, she was confused as to why. She was ok. There wasn't any need to worry. Why was everyone crying? There was no need to cry! She doesn't like it when the people she loves cries…

 

“It's okay! I'm okay! It's not anyone's fault!” She tried and comfort everyone to no avail. Dave soon let go and walked towards Red with a face she didn't know how to describe as her dad carried her. Samus and Leaf quickly taking her papa’s place as they squeezed her tightly. Even Cola started to lick her head. She didn't get it.

 

Dave walked closer and closer to Red. The kid was practically trembling at the older man basically heading towards him in a predatory manner. Red knows full well the rumors that Snake has 30 ways to kill someone and that's just with his right hand. He started to sweat profusely.

 

“I'm so sorry! I don't know how she escaped! I should've been more careful! I can't forgive myse-” Red spewed out apologies like a rushing river. He was interrupted when he felt an enormous warmth trap him in a hug. Red stuttered at the sudden hug and was shaking underneath him.

 

“Wha-what?!” Snake shushed the kid and held him tighter.

 

“Thank you…” He mumbled.

 

“B-But I-I didn't!-” Dave squeezed tighter.

 

“No. You did what you could and she's safe now. You gave us an enjoyable experience in the air. So… thank you,” He explained, pulling away and placing his hands on Red’s shoulders. Red opened his mouth to speak. He's trembling under Snake’s touch and he's pretty sure he's now crying out of fear and guilt.

 

“Listen, she's safe, right?” Red nodded. “Alright, I don't have a reason to be mad,” Snake wiped the kid’s tears and giving him one last hug before regrouping with Hal. Red stood there, flabbergasted at that exchange. He was pretty sure he was gonna die at that point. Leaf even went to comfort the poor trainer.

 

“I didn't expect Snake to be that nice…” Red mumbled to his friend.

 

“Someone like him and what he's been through… I'm pretty sure he's more than happy that she's safe than anything else…” Leaf reassured.

 

----

 

Dave watched as Hal carried Sunny, tighter than he normally does. Samus watched from the side as the poor man panicked. Sunny tried to escape from his grasp, but Hal stayed silent and didn't move. Dave observed his mannerisms: the biting of his nails, the slight hand tremor, his really furrowed eyebrows. He's panicking.

 

Dave slowly walked closer and slipped his hands under Sunny, taking her into his arms before setting her down. He looked up at Samus and without a word, she understood. She patted the little girl’s back and motioned her to where the other kids were, leaving them alone.

 

Dave returned his attention back to Hal. He gripped both of Hal’s hands tightly in order to ground him. Hal bit his lip as he turned his body away from the people watching.

 

“Hal, breathe…” Dave focused and wrapped his fingers around Hal’s. He nodded and took a harsh breath in and shuddered as he exhaled. Dave walked him through and followed with his own breathing. Inhale, hold… then exhale. Repeat. He didn't stop until he knew Hal was calmer and his breathing relegated back to normal. It's been a while since he last helped to ground Hal.

 

Once Dave was sure Hal was better, he let go of his hands and pulled him into a full body hug. He rubbed his back as he allowed Hal to even his breathing some more.

 

“Talk to me, buddy. What’s wrong?” Dave asked, after a bit of silence. He glared at some people who kept looking at them, slightly snarling for them to go away. After a shaky breath, he got a response.

 

“I feel like a failure…” Hal mumbled, reluctantly. Dave stilled. He knew what that actually meant. He’s known for a long time what that was actually code for.

 

“You’re nothing like your father, Hal,” Dave reassured with a squeeze.

 

“Then why do I feel like I am?!” He asked. Dave knew what that felt. “Why do I feel like I might… become like him?” Hal continued venting as he gripped Dave’s clothes tighter until his knuckles were white. “I’m scared… I could’ve lost Sunny just then…” Dave pulled away and placed his hands on both sides of Hal’s face. He glared directly at Hal’s eyes. His thumb wiped a stray tear that was falling down his face. It made his stomach churn seeing Otacon so distraught.

 

“Hal…” Dave began in stern but soft tone. “You are nothing like that man…” Hal opened his mouth. “No. Listen to me,” He firmly said. “What that man did and what happened with E.E is nothing like what just happened now,” Snake debated within himself whether he should mention that moment between E.E and his dad, but knowing Hal, he’s more than positive that’s what he’s thinking. By those tears falling more and more when he said that, Snake knew he hit the nail on the head.

 

“What happened just now was an accident and not on purpose. Besides, there are people with abnormal strength and powers all over here. Someone would have saved her and that I can guarantee,” Hal’s eyebrows scrunched up even more and he knows that Otacon wasn’t satisfied with that answer.  He can practically hear all of the thoughts running through his head: Would that have really happened? What if that didn’t happen? What if no one could save her? I should’ve been holding her. I should’ve jumped after her. What if- I should’ve-

 

“What matters now,” He reaffirmed. “Is that she’s safe. Is she not?” He loosened his grip on Hal. Otacon turned around and watched Sunny run away from the kids who were shooting water guns at her as she rides on Megaman’s back.

 

“Yes,” He turns back to Dave.

 

“She’s fine, right?”

 

“Yes,” Dave kissed his forehead.

 

“Then that’s all we can ask for,” Dave pulled him into another hug. “You’ve been through so much and lost so much; I know that,” He muttered into his hair. “But don’t let that consume you. We can’t change what we could’ve done. But, we can focus on what we can do…” Dave moved away to meet him face to face. He pressed a chaste kiss against Otacon’s forehead.

 

“What I want you to do right now,” Dave pressed another kiss on his cheek. “Is to know that Sunny is safe,” Dave pecked another one on his other cheek. “That you are not a failure and nothing like your father and most importantly,” He placed a kiss against Hal’s lips. Otacon didn’t have enough time to react to kiss back. “I want you to enjoy today, hun. That’s the whole reason I begged you to come,” He smiled warmly in a way that made Otacon believe that Dave isn’t real and was just an angel from heaven. In his own way, Otacon thinks, he is.

 

Hal pulled Dave close and furiously kissed him. Dave simply smiled and kissed back.

 

“I know you better than anyone else. I know that you’re an amazing, wonderful, and loving person,” Dave said in between breaths.

 

“What did I ever do to deserve you?” Hal asked himself.

 

“Just being you,” He responded with another kiss.

 

Dave loves this man so much.

 

“The view up there was really beautiful…” Hal commented as they pulled away. Dave beamed as he agreed. Snake tugged at his arm, pulling him to where Samus and the rest of the kids were. “Dave, you said there was something important you wanted to ask…” Dave froze in his tracks before walking at a quicker pace. “What was it?”

 

“I uh- forgot…” He mumbled.

 

----

 

“Did you see that?!” Zelda screamed as she tried to keep her voice down. The other two princesses shushed her as they watched also from a distance. Everyone else had returned back to their business after that whole ordeal, but not these three.

 

“Oh my goodness, they kissed!” Daisy cried in a hushed, watching Snake and his friend from a distance. Rosalina rolled her eyes.

 

“Guys, I think it’s becoming obvious we are watching them…” The space princess noticed seeing as they were standing in the middle of the area, just huddled and watching them. “But… is it normal for friends to kiss each other?”

 

“I don’t know, Hylian culture is vastly different from other ones here. Could be that?” Zelda tried to explain.

 

“Deep respect and admiration?” Rosalina asked. Bayonetta popped from behind from behind them, neither of them knowing that she was listening in the whole time.

 

“They’re gay, loves,” She rolled her eyes with a cock to her hips. Surely, that couldn’t be misinterpreted-

 

“We still can’t rule out brotherly-bond!” One of them shouted. Bayonetta groaned and walked away. Yep, that was misinterpreted. Out of the corner of her eye, Bayo could swear that Peach was looking at her and Samus with… hope? No, that couldn’t be it.

 

---

 

“You're lucky you have a really nice dad,” Lucas mumbled to Sunny. The kids had enough after they all got soaking wet in the end. The Brawl kids eventually decided that laying on the grass and cloud watching was better. The other kids preferring to go back inside for a bit. Snake, Otacon, and Samus decided to keep an eye on the kids left outside, relaxing on lounge chairs nearby.

 

“Which one?” She asked. They were both really nice.

 

“I guess both of them, but Snake is really nice to us…” Lucas trailed off. Despite being young, Sunny was still far more observant of other people’s emotions. Her dad said she had a lot of emma-patty? Something along those lines, she can't remember. But even though she doesn't know the word, she can tell that Lucas is hurting somehow and it's hurting her.

 

She looked down and saw Lucas gripping Ness’ hand. It reminded her of how her papa would let dad hold his hand whenever he was nervous. Lucas sat right up, catching the eyes of the other kids laying nearby. Ness immediately sat up with him, not letting go. The others resting on their elbows, watching the blond kid. She sat up also.

 

“Did I say something wrong?” She asked, wondering maybe she shouldn't have mentioned her family.

 

“N-No… it's just that…” Lucas continued as Ness rubbed his back. “The other guys know, but… my dad… well… he could've been better…” Lucas mumbled, stopping in between each word as if unsure how to properly form his thoughts. Ness immediately flared up.

 

“That's putting it nicely! He's an asshole!” Ness cried out. The other kids gasped as Nana quickly went to cover Sunny’s ears. She laughed and pulled them away.

 

“It's okay, I hear those words all the time!” Sunny beamed which made Toon Link snort despite how serious this situation became.

 

“He's not an asshole…” Lucas weakly defended. “He might have neglected me for about 3 years or so, but that's because he was still mourning over my mom's death and he was looking for my missing brother!” He quickly justified which didn't seem to quell Ness.

 

“That's even worse! He should've been there for you first!” Ness screamed which only made Lucas shrink. Sunny watched with wide eyes as she realized how much pain Lucas went through. At least throughout her life, she knew who Olga was and she had both of her fathers. She couldn't imagine being completely alone, let alone after losing a mom and brother. She turned to the other three kids, but they seemed disconnected as if it wasn't the first time this exact argument unfolded.

 

“Yeah, but…”

 

“No! He should've been there for you first! Listen, even before my parents got divorced,” Ness took a deep breath. “I, at least, had my mom! Your dad should've put you first!” Ness continued. Lucas’ lip began to tremble slightly. He knew Ness was right, but his father wasn't a terrible person. He's trying to fix things now. Several years late, but he's trying.

 

Sunny watched as the two kids continued. Toon Link and the Ice Climbers staying out of it, not wanting to blow it up even more. Sunny felt a sharp feeling in her chest as her throat became tighter. How can someone act that way to their kid? She could never imagine either of her parents leaving her. How can something bad happen to someone who was also a kid like her? Hot tears started to roll down her cheeks and she began to hiccup and screwed her eyes shut.

 

They all immediately stopped talking. One of them tried to calm her down, but she lightly pushed them away. She opened her eyes and turned around to where the adults were. Her papa was asleep on the chair, her dad was on his laptop doing something likely work-related, and Auntie Samus had gone and went to get some something to drink.

 

She confidently stood up and ran to her dad, leaving the others shocked at her sudden reaction.

 

Sunny tugged on her dad’s sleeve, making him turn away from his screen. He smiled for a quick second before seeing the saddened look on her face. His expression quickly turned to one of concern and care.

 

“Sun-” Hal started before being shushed by her. Her finger trembled as she pressed it against her own lip. She took a deep breath and forced herself to not cry anymore. She pulled his arm and tugged him to the group of kids. Hal quickly put his laptop down and allowed the girl to lead him.

 

She stopped in front of them and stood up tall. Hal looked at both his daughter and the kids, looking at both of them with sorrowful and confused expressions. Her grip on his hand tightened.

 

“I'm sorry that you've been hurt…” She took another deep breath. “By parents who should care for you…” She felt another tear slip. Hal felt his expression soften even more. He knew full well what these kids have gone through back where they come from. It is his job to know, so it was more than painful to see their personal experiences.

 

“That's why I decided…” She let go of his hand and pushed Hal towards them. He nearly tripped and yelped at the sudden movement.

 

“I want to share my dad with you all!” She cried out with a confident smile. Hal's heart melted at her words and actions. The kids with expressions were filled with confusion, happiness, and amusement. God, what did he and Dave do to deserve her? “You can also share papa, but he's sleeping right now! So I'll tell him later!” She cheered as Hal was tugged downward to sit near the group.

 

“That's okay, right dad?” She asked with a smile, tears now forming once more. Oh, not like he was, but he couldn't say no. Guess he was now sucked into being a parental figure to them. The other kids smiled and thanked her for her offer, obviously embarrassed at her kind gesture.

 

“You can always rely on uncle Otacon from now on!” He played along. The rest of them laughed and proceeded to topple the poor man.

 

By the time Samus returned, she nearly dropped their drinks just to take a picture of what was happening. Yep, that was gonna be saved and sent to Dave later.

 

---

 

The smell of different foods littered the area that absolutely hypnotized and encapsulated everyone. Peach stood behind the table with pride as she saw everyone salivating at the large variety of foods: pots of steamed or grilled vegetables, different types of skewers, burgers, steaks, hot dogs, salads, and so many more. The desserts were just as salivating; the variety of pies, cakes, brownies, and cookies could tempt even the most disciplined of athletes to become gluttons.

 

And by the looks of Wii Fit Trainer carrying a stack of cookies, it’s working. Peach smiled at how much everyone was willing to eat her sweets and other foods. Her gaze slowly started to fixate on Snake, his friend, Otacon, and Samus.

 

She wasn't sure why when Samus edged closer, she also felt tremors coming. Was it the anxiety of when Snake would just propose to her? But why was she anxious? What was with this sudden wave of conflicting emotions? She wanted to be happy for her friend, but why couldn't she? All Peach could feel within her heart was an emotion that was icky. She didn't know what to do.

 

“Peach?” A soft voice brought her out of the void. Peach blinked back into existence and stared at whoever was calling her name.

 

“Are you okay?” Samus asked, worry across her face. Peach flinched and she blushed at the realization. Oh sweet cheese and crackers, speak of the devil. She rubbed the back of her head and profusely apologized for spacing out, hoping the bounty hunter wouldn't worry about her as she asked what Samus wanted to eat.

 

With a worried smile, she pointed at what she wanted. Peach nodded and tried to pick up the pieces of chicken with her tongs. Emphasis on “tried”. Her hand was shaking as she tried to clamp down on the piece of poultry, but they would just slip. It was like playing an annoying crane game with your hand and it made her mad. Grunts and noises of desperation escaped her lips as she couldn't pick up a stupid piece of chicken. Oh stars, you're holding up the line. People are getting mad. The chicken is falling apart. Useless. Useless. Useless.

 

There a soft but firm grip on her wrist. But before Peach could say anything, Samus had gently pried the tongs from her hand and brought it up, still twitching slightly. Peach watched in a daze as Samus gently unfolded her fingers as she massaged her palm, her joints, the part where her thumb connects to the palm, even her wrist. Grateful she wasn't wearing her usual gloves, she could feel the presses of Samus’ hand along with the other one was cradling it.

 

“Your muscles are stiff. They've been working so hard, no wonder you're trembling,” Samus said as Peach watched her do wonders to take out the knots. “I've had this happen to me a lot, don't worry. You've been working so hard, princess,” Samus continued and Peach knows there's a blush dusting her face.

 

With a pat on her hand, Samus pushed it back to her. She only slightly showed her unhappiness of letting go of the bounty hunter’s hand.

 

“Try opening and closing your hand,” Samus told her. She did so and oh my… any tension that had been building up had dissipated. It felt like new. Peach smiled wholeheartedly at her and proceeded to thank her repeatedly. Samus tried to say it was okay, but her gratefulness was more overwhelming as she piled on several pieces of chicken onto her plate far more than she actually wanted.

 

It took several back and forths of “thank you” and “no, thank you!” before either of them relented to stop. They only did so as some people were still waiting to be served. Peach sighed as she smiled at the next person in typical server fashion. Her smile only slightly faltered as she watched Samus catch up with Snake and his friend. Emotions, emotions, emotions. She thought, shaking her head.

 

----

 

“I just think that inter-dimensional travel should be impossible!” Otacon cried out with his hair in his hands. After actually settling down, he realized how nonsensical all of this was. A galactic bounty hunter and his Snake being friends and currently living in the same quarters as the famous martial artist, Ryu and Cloud Strife. The Cloud Strife. It's so surreal and almost impossible to believe, but here they were. Hal groaned as he neared an existential crisis.

 

“Welp, welcome to my world. I've just learned not to question things here,” Dave said through a bite of steak. “Besides how weird is our world compared to others here?” He continued. Hal just sighed once more.

 

“Mind we sit here?” Marth asked, holding his tray of food as Ike tried to balance a tower of chicken. They all agreed as Hal watched with wide eyes at the prince and the warrior sit down. The prince's slim figure in contrast to Ike’s more bulky frame really stood out.

 

“Prince Marth and Ike, wielder of Ragnell?!” Hal screamed. They all shook hands as Hal started to make a conversation with them. By conversation, it was mostly him complimenting them and asking questions. Samus tapped Dave's shoulder.

 

“Hey, Dave! You wanna get some drinks with me?” Samus asked in a tone that seemed more forced than anything. He turned back to Otacon and saw that he was occupied with talking to the two swordsmen, so he nodded and got up and began to walk.

 

He turned to Samus to ask her what she wanted before being stopped by her.

 

“When are you gonna do it? Cold feet?” She asked with a wink. Oh. Yeah.

 

“Today, obviously,” He said as he went to grab a cup. “It's just that… ngh, can't believe I've made it this far…”

 

“You want a little push?” She asked, raising an eyebrow. He simply nodded as he handed her a cup of lemonade. She smirked and then ran off. Dave just stood there confused with his own cup of soda. He eyed her talking to Mario about something, leaning down to meet him at eye level. He snorted at that and went back to his table and sat next to Hal.

 

There was a sudden ringing. Everyone stopped their conversations to look up at the sound. Mario stood front and center, hitting a metal spoon against a glass cup, waiting for everyone to become silent. He put the spoon down and started talking.

 

“It's an honor to be standing in front of so many icons!” Mario started. “When I first agreed to be the ambassador of a tournament that would unite and pit icons across multiple worlds, there were only 12,” He said with a smile as the original 12 cheered loudly, whooping.

 

“Now here we are, villains, heroes, and those in between, all together in one place! There's still so many more to come later, but to believe that this family has grown to such unbelievable proportions!” He cheered, sneakily wiping away some tears. Several people aw’ed and spouted words of reassurance to him. Mario cleared his throat once more.

 

“I don't wanna hog all this time, so here's someone else who has some words to say! Samus Aran!” He applauded as he motioned towards her. She walked back to their table and turned to Dave with a wink. Dave had absolutely no idea what she was planning. Samus forced herself to smile as she waited for the cheering to stop. Yeah, forgot I had to make up something to say. She thought, not really thinking it through. Well, she's gonna hope her smile can cover up her lack of charisma.

 

“Alright… uhh…” She awkwardly laughed, gripping the back of her neck. “So, Mario took most of what I was gonna say… Oh! Don't apologize! It's okay! Anyway, when I first agreed to join this thing… I thought it wouldn't last long. Y’know, I come in, kick some ass, and head back home,” She gulped, not really sure where she's going. She could hear Dave laugh and she lightly hit him in the back of the head.

 

“As you can see, that's not what happened. I was hesitant to really talk to others and grow attached ‘cause emotions and shit,” She continued to ramble. Dave snorted again and she glared at him as Otacon tried to get him to stop laughing.

 

“Anyway! It was thanks to this doofus,” Samus went and yanked Dave out of his seat to stand up as she wrapped an arm around his neck. “That I learned about the power of friendship or some shit like that,” She rambled before giving him a hard slap on the back.

 

“Speaking of this doofus, he has something to say! Give it for Solid Snake everyone!” She screamed and clapped as several people followed suit. Murmurs could be heard from several people as some of the more impatient fighters wondered when this was gonna end.

 

Samus pushed Snake as she went to sit back down and smirked. Snake gave her a glare back. So when she meant by “give him a push”, she actually meant “pick him up, carry him, and toss him under the bus.”

 

He swears he can see Otacon mouth out, “looks like the tables have turned.” Dave huffed. Cheeky bastard. Dave turned back and realized that he was still in front of a crowd. He shoved a hand into his right pocket and fiddled with the small box that had Hal’s ring. He did ask for a push.

 

He licked his lips and swayed from side to side. Time to use up that charisma he has left. There's a yawn in the background.

 

“Uh… yea! I haven't been here as long as some people have. But this place is still something special to me, seeing all of the connections I've made and the things I've learned,” Dave started, several people had all of their attention on him, especially those who placed a bet. That was to be expected. He sighed.

 

“One of the most important things I've learned is to always show the people you care about that you do care,” Several people squealed. “Except Samus, she's an asshole,” Some people laughed as she stuck out her tongue to him and he did so back.

 

“Continuing, it's important to tell people you love them because time… is cruel. The world can throw shit at you relentlessly. But whenever I see the people I care about, I know the world is also just as beautiful…” He turned to Hal and smiled. Hal smiled back and blushed.

 

“Otacon here was one of the people to first teach me that,” He grabs Hal’s hands and guides him up. Otacon just looks at him in confusion and follows along. Hal pushes a weak smile, startled at the attention he's now getting. Dave doesn't let go of him.

 

“Hal,” He swallows. There's a loud thumping in his chest. He's actually going to do it. “Before I met you, I don't remember the last time I felt alive. I never got the chance to live for myself. After I met you and you came to my aid, that's when I first realized that I was alive,” Hal's eyes sparkled in the sun. His face painted in wonder and confusion. God, he's sweating now.

 

“That's why I can safely say that I've known you all my life…” He grips Hal’s hands tighter. Both of their faces are burning up.

 

“And… I might be terrible with words and forming my emotions in a coherent manner, but what we have accomplished in this life means far more to me than anything else: from founding Philanthropy to raising a wonderful daughter!” Dave turns to Sunny. He only lets go of one of Hal’s hands to wave at her as she waves back. There are whispers.

 

“That's why I want to spend the rest of my life with you!” He cries out with his eyes shut. There are several gasps and mumbles as he said that. Hal gasped audibly as tears start to form at the corner of his eyes. He's piecing it together.

 

Dave lets go and grips one of Hal’s hands tightly with both of his hands. Hal is shaking. He is shaking. He gets down on one knee.  

 

More people are talking and chattering, but all of that is drowned out by the loud thumping in his chest and by the beauty of Otacon’s face. Hal covers his mouth with his free hand as he watches Dave go down. He's squeezing Hal’s hand with all of his might.

 

“I might not be worthy of your love and your grace. I may be a bit socially inept sometimes. Maybe I can be a bit of a jackass,” Several weak laughs are heard. “And I should've done this earlier, but…” Dave lets go one last time and pulls the box out from his pocket. His fingers are trembling beyond belief as he cups it in his hands.

 

“Hal ‘Otacon' Emmerich…” He opens the case holding his future. The ring is shining so brightly in the sun. The blue gem that completes it was as bright as Hal’s own eyes. The sound of people shouting, cheering, and whooping surround them. But none of that matters. None of it. The only thing he can seem to care right now is Hal. Only Hal. Just him.

 

“Will you… marry me?”

 

It's more of a plead than an actual question as he says it. Nothing seems to be real and everything is in place. It's so loud all around him. But it's silent between them. The pounding in his chest, the ringing in his head, how dizzy he feels: he's never felt that afraid and exhilarated before. He's been at the end of a gun, tortured, and had a genetic time bomb inside him for Christ sake. Yet this, it's this moment that's driving him over the edge with fear. But it's a fear that can bring a future and a life that's decided by him and Hal. Sweet Jesus, time is going so slow yet so fast.

 

God, the way he is shaking, Dave swears he's gonna drop the ring. Dave imagines the sounds of people hollering and making noise is simply him personified.

 

He opens his eyes that he didn't realize he had shut.

 

Hal is crying. Tears are rolling fast down his cheeks. His face is red. Dave's own eyes are cloudy. There's a smile hidden behind Hal’s hand. He's… nodding. He's nodding! Oh God, is that a yes?! Please. Please. Please.

 

“Y-Yes! Yes! Of course!” Hal blubbers through tears. Is he hearing correctly?! He has to be. Dave is grinning like he has never had before. God, he must look like a wreck as he feels fat tears run down his face. There are screams and people cheering. Hal lifts him up and pulls him close.  

 

He grabs the side of Dave’s face and kisses him. Hard. Dave returns the kiss and pulls him closer and deepens it. Both of their hands are wet from the tears running down their faces. It's salty and sweet all at once. He's yearning to not let go. All he wants to do is kiss Hal until he can no longer breathe. But they do much to Dave's disappointment.

 

They both smile. Dave admired Hal’s toothy grin. There goes any disappointment he had. The only regret he has left is not doing this earlier because this was long overdue.

 

Dave can't believe it. Not one bit. He's just anticipating to wake up again. It's too good to not be a dream. But by God, if it is, as cheesy as it sounds, he doesn't want to wake up.

 

There are whistles and shouting as someone pops open a bottle of Champaign and the cork flies and hits Hal in the back of the head. They're both laughing so hard that they're crying even more and holding onto each other for dear life.

 

“Put the ring on!” Someone shouts. Dave snaps out of it and laughs as he plucks the ring out of its box and holds it in between his fingers. Shit.

 

“I-I don't know what finger it's supposed to go on…” Dave admitted. There's a roar of laughter swept across the area. Hal awkwardly laughs and smiles at how… “Dave” that was.

 

“Left hand, third finger!” Zelda screams out with a smile. Dave nods and slides the ring through his finger. It fits perfectly. God, they're crying again as they bring each other close and kiss once more.

 

He's so happy.

 

“You're so rude,” Hal whispers in between breaths.

 

“What do you mean?” Dave grinned, pinching Hal’s cheek.

 

“I was gonna propose to you when you got back…” Hal confessed, wrapping his arms around Dave’s neck. Their foreheads are touching as they get lost in each other's eyes. He couldn't really think of a cheesy one-liner, but he just kisses him again. A sound of disgust was heard below them. They broke away and saw that Sunny was making faces at their kissing. With a laugh, Dave lifted her up and held her in between them as they both pecked a kiss to her cheek.

 

This was so perfect.

 

“Wait… So who won the bet?” Falco screamed out. Well, that broke the moment. There was a wave of mumbles and words of agreement. Hal turned to the crowd and back at Dave.

 

“A bet?!” Hal asked him. He laughed and gripped the back of his neck.

 

“Long story short, people started to place bets on who I was gonna propose to between Samus and Bayonetta…” He elaborated with a weak laugh at the end. Hal was dumbfounded at that explanation until he started to laugh once more into Dave’s chest. Both of them shaking their heads and laughing. They wiped their tears and saw everyone looking at Peach.

 

“Then we should get our money back!” Captain Falcon cried. Zelda called him out that he betted on himself anyway. The chatter soon grew louder and louder as they all started to gather near Peach. She started to shrink as she skimmed through her binder of everyone’s bets.

 

“Uh.. actually… I think…” Peach mumbled as a bead of sweat dripped down her forehead as she flipped through the pages.

 

“It was me!” Ness screamed as he jumped onto the table and threw his arms up. People just stopped and froze at the boy’s words. Even Hal and Dave stopped just to watch the kid jump on the table. A chill went down both of their spines. This kid had too much power. Most of the fighters turned back to Peach, hoping she would say that it was a joke. Only for her to nod her head in agreement. The sound of people’s jaws collectively dropping echoed throughout.

 

Peach got up and hauled a large backpack to the kid. Ness sat on the edge of the table, making grabbing hands motions as she walked closer and handed the kid the backpack. He zipped it open and pulled out handfuls bills. The kid began to manically laugh as he threw them in the air. His friends also went and played with the entire stash of money.

 

Everyone just watched as they played with the pile, even Sunny went to the group and started to join.

 

“Are you gonna have a wedding?!” Toon Link screamed out, jumping up from a pile of money that covered nearly his entire body. Oh. They didn't really think about a wedding.

 

“Well… uhm… I'm not sure…” Hal mumbles.

 

There's a loud slam that booms throughout. Peach’s hands slammed the table, glaring holes at them with tears in her eyes.

 

“That's unacceptable!” She screams. There's an odd silence, but she quickly continues. “With a love as amazing as yours, a wedding is mandatory!” She stands up proudly. “Let me help plan it!”  

 

At that, many fighters stood up to offer their help.

 

“Let me take care of the flowers!” Daisy shouts afterward.

 

“We can help with catering!” Link, Fox, and Mario also chiming in.

 

“I'd be honored to tailor for you!” Marth smiled as he bowed with his cape billowing in the wind.

 

Many other fighters popping in with their own offer to use their talents to help. Both of them just smiled as more and more people offered help.

 

“Dibs on being DJ!” Sonic hopped onto the table and pulled out his guitar out of thin air. He ignored Meta Knight chastising him for standing on the table as he strummed his guitar. “Lemme prove myself with a song dedicated to the new pair of fiancés!” Fiancés… He can get used to that. With another strum, Sonic started to sing. It was the same song that he played yesterday.

 

Follow me inside, outside

Through the stratosphere

The moon is shining for you

It knows that I adore you!

 

Several cheers started again as people got up and headed to the center to dance. Hal laughed as he took a step back, bowed, and stuck out his hand. Dave snorted at the cheesy gesture before taking it and being pulled closer.

 

Suddenly all the sadness

Will just slip away

And you will see what I mean

If you just follow me in my dreams!

 

“I don’t really know how to dance, to be honest,” Dave confessed as he held Hal’s hand, his finger running over the new ring. His other hand snaking down to Hal’s waist. Hal brought his hand to hold Dave’s shoulder. All he did was smile.

 

“It’s okay, neither do I. But we can try!”

 

I was searching everywhere

Suddenly I saw you there

And my love arrived

Just in the nick of time

 

Their dancing was messy, to say the least. But it didn’t matter. It was far too slow to be dancing to the tune of a faster-paced song, but too fast to be considered slow dancing. Both of them laughed at their poor attempt, but it wasn’t much of an issue. It was clumsy and off rhythm, but to them, it was like floating on air.

 

Like floats on a movie screen

You're the star of my scene

You live on the edge of a knife

Larger than life

 

Dave looked away for a second and saw everyone else dancing all around them. The kids held hands as they jumped around in circles. Samus kneeled down and attempted to dance with Sunny. He even caught a glance at Marth and Ike dancing together.

 

Whatever I want, I get

No one could take your place

Whatever I need, I have

When I see your face

 

“You know… This reminds me…” Hal said. Dave hummed, encouraging him to continue. “Remember when you caught me dancing to that pop song?” Dave giggled as he did recall that. It had been years, but it was still a fond memory. It was before they even officially got together. It might have been only a couple months after Shadow Moses.

 

Dave came back to the lodge after a quick trip to get some necessities. Before he even opened the door, muffled music leaked to the other side.

 

With a slow creak, he was greeted to the sight of Hal dancing around in his pajamas, blasting some cheesy pop song. He froze in his tracks when he saw Snake at the door. He clearly remembers how embarrassed Otacon was, especially since it hadn't been long since they started to live with each other.

 

With a grin and to Hal’s surprise, Dave quickly joined him as they danced to whatever pop song he was playing.

 

“Ha… I remember that. What about it?” Dave asked, tripping over Hal’s foot as they continued to dance. On instinct, Hal bent over and wrapped his arms around his waist, bringing them both into a dipping motion.

 

Whooping and cheering blasted from all angles as it looked like Hal had purposely dipped Dave.

 

Follow me inside, outside

Through the stratosphere

The moon is shining for you

It knows that I adore you

 

They both blushed at their new position. Hal grinned as he continued.

 

“It was in that moment, I realized I was falling for you…” Hal confessed in a whisper, blushing even more at that. Dave watched with stars in his eyes as Hal looked away with a smile.

 

Suddenly all the sadness

Will just slip away

And you will see what I mean

If you follow me in my dreams!

 

Dave pulled him down to another kiss as Hal returned it. Although, the sudden weight of him quickly toppled them to the ground with a crash. Both of their cheeks were hurting at just how much they were laughing and smiling as they laid in the grass, not bothering to move.

 

Sunny sprinted to them and jumped on top of them as she joined the pile. It only led to the other kids following suit and jumping also.

 

“Room for one more?” Samus coyly asked as she also joined in and squished them by laying on their legs.

 

There were worse places to be than squished by a group of kids and a bounty hunter and neither of them would change it for the world.

 

Dave gripped Hal’s hand and kissed the finger that had the ring.

 

Chapter Text

“What do you think it's like?” Peach asked no one in particular through the screams and cheers. Sonic singing and playing his guitar nearly drowned out her words, but Bayonetta had been standing next to her. She looked at her in confusion.

 

“What do you mean?” Bayo asked for clarification, fixing her glasses. Peach immediately flinched at her own question. She didn't expect anyone to hear.

 

“I don't know… to be loved like that?” She motioned to Hal and Dave laughing and dancing. There was a tenderness in both of their eyes that wrangled her heart.

 

“Don't people say that Mario is your knight in shining armor?” Bayo questioned.

 

“Oh!” She blushed and waved her hands. “Everyone says that, but it's his duty to protect me. Y’know… friendship or whatever... I'm not sure of my own feelings sometimes…” She huffed, slightly agitated at how confused she is. She can feel herself start to cry with the knot that's in her throat. Bayonetta placed a hand on her shoulder as Peach bit her lip.

 

“You want to talk?” Bayonetta offered, hoping to not have to try and throw in her few pieces of bad advice to her and that Peach would vent and come to her own conclusions. The princess nodded and gripped Bayo’s arm as they walked away from the crowd to back inside.


---


Samus smiled at the happy couple as she laid on their legs and squished them along with the kids lying on top of them. But she caught a glance of Peach and Bayonetta walking away. She tilted her head at the sight, unsure of what happened or where they were going.

 

Samus debated on following them and seeing what was up before being tugged by the kids to get up before Snake could get up and topple them all. Even as she was being pulled away, she was still focused on the two women. Where were they going? Although, her thoughts were quickly pulled away with a harsh slap to her back. With a flinch and a scowl, she turned around as Snake grinned at her with his palm on her back.

 

“Gotta get you back somehow!” He remarked with a smile. She snorted and rolled her eyes as she pulled close him with an arm around his neck as she rubbed his head vigorously. Even as she smiled at the new fiancés and congratulated them on finally proposing, the thought lingered in her mind about the two women leaving.


---

 

After that sudden proposal, the party had been far more lively with more and more people dancing and singing. Despite many newcomers not even knowing Snake or Otacon, they all came up to them and congratulated them on the engagement. There was an air of just pure joy that couldn't parallel to anything else, especially in Snake’s own friend group.

 

“Sweet Jesus, I’m beyond glad you finally did it…” Samus jokingly groaned, all of them gathering around a table with a bottle of wine.

 

She poured another glass for herself. “Snake wouldn’t shut up for the longest time about the nerd over here,” She continued to comment, possibly a bit intoxicated. Hal just blushed at what she said as the other fighters snorted or held back a laugh, while Snake simply huffed.

 

“Back in the last Brawl was even worse! Oh God! Yo, it was so annoying to watch him essentially play gay chicken!” Samus continued to tease the poor man. All Snake could do was hiss back a response as he gripped the edge of the table, his cheeks becoming redder. Hal just seemed so amused on the other hand.

 

“My, I remember those late nights when I’d catch Snake in his cardboard box talking to him! Didn't think it'd lead to this!” Marth recalled, remembering as he, Ike, Snake, and Sonic shared a room. His expression only slightly became somber when he recalled those times. He was the one who first realized Snake had left and it was he who broke the news to Samus.

 

But before he let that thought cement properly and ruin the mood, Ike quickly spoke once more, noticing the prince’s subtle expression.

 

“By the Gods, back in the Brawl, it was always, ‘Otacon is so smart!’ and ‘Look what Otacon made!’ Sweet Naga, I was starting to regret having Snake be so open!” Ike laughed, earning an embarrassed groan from Dave. Hal just seemed so happy hearing all of this.   

 

“I actually feel kinda bad for making fun of him!” Marth sheepishly laughed.

 

“Well, I don't!” Samus cheered as she took a swing at her beer before sighing and laughing. She could hear a faint “you're an asshole” as she did so.

 

“Wow, I remember there was one doubles battle we had -Snake and me- and it was interrupted because Mario came to tell us, in the middle of the match, mind you, that Otacon was calling,” She snorted as she tried to tell the story. “Oh yeah! We were against you two!” She remembered, pointing at the two men. Their eyes also widened as they remembered it too.

 

“Of course! Now I remember! Afterward, Snake sprinted at us and dropped kicked us off the stage!” Ike howled with laughter.

 

“I don't think I've feared any God until I saw that look in Snake’s eyes as he charged towards us!” Marth also snickered.

 

Snake slowly covered his face with both hands, while Otacon just seemed even more and more intrigued at how Snake hid this from him.

 

“Man, I haven't seen him run faster than when he lef-” Samus said, about to make a depreciating joke before immediately having a hand over her mouth. Her eyes widened as she watched Snake stare at her with beady eyes, sweat dripping down from his temple. Otacon was looking at them in confusion, eyeing both of them and their odd behavior. Even the two swordsmen with them had gone stone cold.

 

“I, uhm, excuse us for a sec,” Dave mumbled before tugging Samus away so they can talk separately, leaving Hal wondering what the hell was going on as the other two looked at each other with a concerned expression.

 

The swordsmen immediately caught on to what Samus was going to joke about as they looked at the two walking away. Both of them internally debated on what to do before a small girl with platinum hair came skipping towards them. Oh, yeah, it's Snake's daughter. Ike and Marth both sighed in relief as she served as a distraction to what just happened.

 

-----


“Uh, what the hell was that for?” She whispered which bordered on talking loudly. The sudden switch in his behavior was unexplained as she glared holes into him. Dave winced at her sharp words, but she stood her ground. She waited for him to speak.

 

He finally opened his mouth, albeit, hesitantly.

 

“I didn't tell him…” He grumbled in a lower tone, barely making it out. She paused and raised an eyebrow. Samus’ cold expression sent a chill down his spine as she knew he wasn't really telling her the full story. Then again, there's a lot she doesn't know about Snake. With a sigh and a gulp, he continued talking.

 

“I lied to Hal…” He barely mustered out as he dipped his face into his hands. Samus finally soften. Oh. She reached her hand out and wrapped a comforting hand around his wrist, but he pulled it away. He wiped his face and looked back at the bounty hunter.

 

She wasn't sure what to say. Dave knew that, so he continued.

 

“God, I told him that I was sent home,” He pinched the bridge of his nose at that line as if cringing at what he's saying. “I didn't tell him that I actually left here because of what I told you…” Dave trailed off as he looked away in shame and tried to make himself smaller.

 

“He was so proud of me that I was finally making friends with other people… If he knew that I left because….” Dave bit the inside of his cheek. He wanted a smoke right now.

 

She placed a hand on his shoulder.

 

“Listen, you do know you are gonna have to tell him the truth before you two get married, right?” She affirmed to which Dave nodded.

 

“I just… it's such a… I hate myself for leaving… I know it was so long ago… but I still beat myself up over it,” Dave stuttered. Samus’ eyes softened. They've already talked about why he left and that's the past now.

 

But the current issue is to tell that to the one person who needs to know. “I don't think I want to put Hal through that mindset,” He explained. She squeezed her grip on his shoulder.

 

“Well, you're gonna have to clear the board and tell the truth, y’know? It's important to not have a lie like that fermenting like a pile of shit,” She tried to make that connection which caused both of them to snort and stifle a laugh. She sighed. “Maybe not now, but when you two aren't gonna be disturbed, you can talk to him about it. Just do it soon so you can put it behind you two,” She punctuated with another squeeze to his shoulder.

 

Despite being not as emotionally stunted as before, she can still tell that Dave is holding something back. It doesn't take a behaviorist to know that thoughts of doubts and fear were clouding his mind. As if trying to combat those thoughts, she patted his shoulder.

 

He looked back at her with a soft smile.

 

“Say… I actually have an idea…” Samus mumbled. “I'll tell you later when it's dark!”  

 

---


“I'm j-just so confused!” Peach cried out as excessive tears rolled down her face. Bayonetta forced herself to not roll her eyes as she handed the princess another tissue. At this rate, they were going to need a third bag.

 

They were both sitting down on the floor, leaning against the bed. Bayo noticed how bright Peach's room was. Not that surprising though. Bayo sucked in air as she leaned her head back to rest against the mattress.

 

When she offered to talk to the princess, Bayo meant more along the lines of a simple chat and done. But that clearly wasn't the case as seen with the number of tissues they've gone through.

 

“I I-just! Agh!” Peach screamed as she rubbed her eyes. “This is so not becoming of me…”

 

Bayo kept her mouth shut, in fear of saying something wrong.

 

“I-I don't know! At first, I was okay with the idea of Snake and Samus being together b-but… when the day actually came- I don't know! I felt so wrong and didn't like it anymore! Like there was a pain in my chest!” Peach ranted as she blew her nose once more. Bayo carefully took the tissues away with the tips of her fingers. “I'm just so confused!”


“What are you upset at, specifically?” Bayo asked, knowing full well what she actually was upset at.

 

“I'm not sure…”

 

“Okay so, Snake actually proposed to that nerd, how do you feel?” Peach perked up with a smile.

 

“Oh! I'm so happy for them! I'm glad that Snake found someone he trusts that much!” She smiled widely. Bayo bit her lip to stop a laugh at how she smiled with her red eyes. She simply nodded her head at the princess.

 

“How do you feel about Samus?” Bayo asked. Peach simply smiled widely.

 

“My! What can I say? She's amazing! Her bravery, her sense of humor, and her smile! I feel guilty I wasn't able to spend time with her as much as before!” Peach began to list.

 

Bayo was simply humored by the princess and her enthusiasm. She doesn't know much about their relationship prior to her joining the roster. But what Bayonetta does know was that she and Samus were quite close. Bayo now realized it was because Snake wasn't there, but back then, she didn't know him.

 

She would often spot them having chats around tea and cookies, a comforting smile on their faces as they chatted about meaningless gossip that was entertaining at the moment. It was routine for them.

 

“And oh wow, the way she snorts when she laughs! It's adorable…. Oh….” Peach stilled at the end. Her eyes widened as her mouth was left hanging. Bayonetta bit back another laugh at Peach's expression.

 

“There we go,” Bayo muttered as Peach stuttered, covering her mouth as her face turned red.

 

“I've never felt this way before…” Peach said after calming down, the tips of her fingers touching her lips as if feeling how those words slip out of her mouth. Bayo stayed silent. But before she could say a word, Peach stood up and pointed at her.

 

“I need your help!” She cried out with a wide grin. Bayonetta adjusted her glasses before tilting her head to the side. “Teach me how to be like you!” Peach continued, reaching forward and gripping Bayo's hands into her own. The umbra witch blushed as it was now her turn to be embarrassed.

 

“Excuse me? What do mean?”

 

“Teach me how to be flirtatious like you! You can woo anyone with your charm and smile! Teach me!” Peach cheered, her childlike confidence in Bayonetta's charisma almost endearing her.

 

“Darling, you don't need to change yourself to be appealing to Samus,” Bayo said, pulling a hand away. “You're already enough with your…” She rolled her hand, motioning Peach's entire body. “Own charm,” Bayo finished with a sharp smile. Peach's eyes lowered, gripping Bayo's hand tighter. The umbra witch immediately wanted to take back what she said as the princess lowered her head. God, she really hated/loved her puppy eyes.

 

“Alright, fine!” She cried out. Peach snapped her head up. Bayo slowly stood up, not letting go of her hands. “I'll help you! As the master of charm, I'll teach you the ways,” Peach's eyes became brighter as her smile grew wider.

 

“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” Peach cried as she shook Bayo's arms while constantly jumping up and down in her spot. Bayonetta sighed, with a slight smile.

 

At that moment, she silently gave up her pursuit for the same bounty hunter. But if it meant to help her own sisters, especially ones that clearly need help, then so be it.

 

“We'll start lessons tomorrow…” Bayonetta sighed as Peach hugged her tightly; the feel of her smile easily felt against Bayo's skin.


---


“Your friends are very supportive,” Hal said with a giggle at the end as Dave held his hand, leading the way. There was still a blush on Dave’s face from that encounter. Maybe a bit too supportive.

 

“Well, they're a unique bunch aren't they?” He responded as they both continued to walk outside.

 

The sun had started to set when Samus, Ike, and Marth had pulled the newly engaged inside. As if it was planned (and by the looks of Samus’ shit-eating grin and Marth's inability to keep a straight face, it was) they quickly pulled out a picnic basket filled to the brim with various items and other “treats” as they offered to take care of Sunny while they were away.

 

Hal simply tried to not burst out laughing while Snake hesitantly took the basket before storming off in a red mess as Samus yelled out directions to the “perfect place”.

 

When she said that she had a plan on how to come clean to Hal, this wasn't what he was thinking.

 

The green plains that just a while ago held the picnic are now empty and all cleaned up. God, time really does fly by that fast. They continue to walk side by side in silence with the breeze and the rustling of the trees being the only noise they need.

 

He was sure Samus said it was fairly near to the plains. Oh, there it is.

 

They both edge closer to another area that was just a field of sunflowers. He's tugging Hal as they keep walking through it, the stalks of flowers nearly covering them completely. The flowers towering over them. Hal is in complete awe as he eyes the flowers standing upright and tall. There's something oddly comforting by their presence and their seemingly protective nature. Sunflowers and blue roses remind him of Dave.

 

Then they stopped. They clear through the field and are several feet away from the edge of the cliff. Before he could even speak again, Hal looked to Dave only to see him already setting up large, thick blankets along with several pillows that they had given them. Hal did attempt to help him set up only for his hand to be lightly swatted away with a mumble about how he wants to set it up for Hal.

 

It's not long until he feels a tug at the end of his coat. Hal glanced down and saw Dave sitting and patting the spot next to him. He rolled his eyes and sat next to him, leaning against his chest with Dave wrapping his arms around him.

 

“They were right when they said this view of the sky was lovely…” Dave mumbled into Hal’s hair. Hal looked up and saw the numerous amount of stars littering the sky. It's a view that they can't see often at home. There are times he would miss being in the air on the Nomad and these stars right now are making him reminisce on those times.

 

It's a lovely silence between. The sunflowers covering them and being a barrier between back at the tournament and here, the cool breeze, the view of the sky and the view of down below just paint the perfect picture. Hal isn't sure what Dave is planning, but even just being with him is more than enough.

 

“Hal…” Dave mumbles, to which he hums in response. “I need to confess something…” Dave loosened his grip around Hal as he turned his body to face Hal better. The shift in his tone slightly frightened him.

 

“I need to tell you something before we get married…” Dave continued. Hal’s blood went cold. What was there to admit? He and Dave shared everything about each other, even some of the more “sensitive” facts about themselves and their pasts. It was important to be transparent for the sake of Philanthropy and for trust.

 

But the way Dave was acting and his tone, it kinda scared Hal.

 

“I-I lied to you…” He began in a hushed tone. Hal went to hold one of Dave’s hands. With a squeeze, Dave continued.

 

“Remember the first time I was here?” He asked, still not meeting Hal’s glance. He nodded in response, though it changed to a hum seeing as Dave wasn't looking at him. Hal tried to not let any thoughts or fears get to him. “How I came back and I said they sent me home?” Hal hummed again. With a shaky sigh, Dave spoke again.

 

“I lied to you.” Hal raised his eyebrows. “I left…” Hal's face softened as he gave another squeeze to his hand. It was still silent.

 

“I left because I was afraid. I was afraid to bond with other people and- fuck me, I'm sorry, Hal!” Dave howled out as he brought his head back down. His forehead resting against the hand Hal was holding. His body was trembling now. He must look so fucking pathetic.

 

“I'm a goddamn coward and so I lied to you. Instead of just fucking facing my fear, I ran away!” Dave kept repeatedly shaking his head as he ranted. He's not even sure why he's crying. Well, he knows full well, but he doesn't want to admit it. Why is Hal silent? Please, say something!

 

“God, I feel like shit because I've lied to you for this long!” God, he must have snapped. Dave's lied before to other people, more than he can count. But there's something about lying to Hal that makes him want to puke as he admits it. Why is he crying? Stop it. Stop it. Stop it-

 

It keeps chanting in his brain when he hears a snicker. A snicker? There's a warm hand on the side of his face as it pulls him up to look at Hal. God, what a mess he was.

 

He smiled and wiped a tear rolling down his face. There's something about Hal’s gentle touch that makes him weak.

 

“Oh, David…” Hal says, rubbing his thumb along Dave’s face. “I… have something to confess too…” Dave's eyes lighten up. “I kinda knew already,” Neither of them is sure how to react.

 

“They sent a letter before you came back. It said that you had suddenly gone missing and left. It also said something about how if you didn't come back within a certain time frame to contact them,” Hal elaborated, leaving Dave speechless.

 

“I figured out what happened when you came back. I might not be good with social cues, but I know you better than anyone else,” Hal said as Dave just stared.

 

“Why didn't you just confront me?” Dave asked.

 


“I guess I thought that you would tell me if and when you were ready… But...” Hal said, now using both hands to cup Dave’s face.

 


“I know I'm not the best person to say this, but there's no need to be self-deprecating. You are strong,” Hal muttered, only receiving a snort in response. A small grin had formed on Dave’s face from that line. Hal was overcome with the urge to kiss Dave and so he did.


“There's that smile,” He sweetly said, nuzzling the man. “Do you really think I agreed to marry an ex-super soldier?”


“But I am-”

 

“I agreed to marry you, Dave…” Hal interrupted. Dave just looked at him, stunned.

 

“Of course you are one, but what I mean is that… I married a man who, despite everything life has thrown his way, he still tries to go against it and form his own future,” Hal said, gripping Dave a bit tighter.

 

“What you see as weak, I see as strong…” Hal could feel his cheeks becoming warmer. Funny how the tables have turned.

 

“I didn't say yes to what people see as an unstoppable, brooding man. I'm gonna marry a man who loves cheesy sci-fi films. A man who's terrible at public speaking, but who can tell me monologues of how much he loves me. A man who will sit through seasons of anime with me. A man who has a childlike love for cardboard boxes.” Dave laughs. “A man who helped me raise a beautiful daughter.”

 

“I agreed to marry you; not a robot. It's okay, David,” Hal tugged him closer till their lips meet for the millionth time. It's salty and sweet from the tears. Today has been such an emotional roller-coaster, he's lost track at how many times they’ve cried.

 

“At least, you know now…” Dave mumbled when they pulled away. They're silent as they embrace one another, appreciating each other's warmth.

 

“H-Hey, sometimes I wish we had some kind of ‘corny pick-up line’ phase…” Dave jokingly said into Hal’s neck.

 

“Well, according to Raiden, we did,” Hal laughed. He heard a soft rumble coming from Dave before he picked his head back up again.

 

“Stop me if you heard this one,”

 

“Oh God, no! Stop!” Hal pleaded with a grin.

 

“Hey, I lost my last name, can I have yours?” Dave sarcastically asked with a wink. Hal blushed as he let out a hearty laugh. “I mean, it’s partially true!” It was so bad, he shouldn’t be laughing. Dave then started laughing.

 

How romantic. Hal thought for a second. Holding hands and laughing at some terrible pickup line underneath the stars in a field of flowers. It’s like this was taken out of a shojo anime he used to watch.

 

“Emmerich…” Dave whispered. It took a second for Hal to register what he said.

 

“What?”

 

“David Emmerich…” He repeated. Hal froze. There was something heartstopping about hearing Dave say that as if it just reinforced that he is going to marry this man. Long ago, he would have never attempted to dream that Dave would ever utter those words, but now, he’s living it.

 

“I like it. It’s got a nice ring to it…” Dave continued. Hal looked at the man. There was a small grin hidden along with a blush that was barely noticeable from the night. He had a strong urge to kiss the man, and so he did.

 

“I'm gonna marry you…” Hal whispered to himself, reaffirming what happened today. With a sudden surge in energy, Hal got up and wiggled out of Dave's hold.

 

He took several steps to the edge of the cliff. All Dave could do was watch in awe at how the pale moonlight accentuated his best features. Hal looked dazzling under the embrace of the night sky.

 

Hal paused and shut his eyes, taking in the song of the night. He took a deep breath and cupped his hands around his mouth.  

 

“I'm gonna marry Solid Snake!” Hal shouted at the top of his lungs to no one and everyone. The sound of his voice echoed throughout the plain as if announcing to anyone out there. He quickly turned around to Dave with a wide smile, looking a lot like a kid on Christmas with how happy he was. Dave watched the man with starry eyes at his smile and his charisma.

 

With a smirk, he got up himself and stood next to Hal. He wrapped an arm around his waist and shot his arm in the air.

 

“I'm gonna marry Hal Emmerich!” He shouted also, appreciating the echo as it became more and more distant. A sudden warmth enveloped Dave as he felt strong arms wrap around him. Hal's face nuzzled in the crook of his neck. He reciprocated the hug with a smile.

 

“I love you, Hal,” He muttered.

 

“Love you too, Dave,” Hal whispered into Dave’s skin. Pause.

 

“Are you biting my neck?” Dave asked, feeling teeth graze against his skin. Hal simply made a noise, feigning ignorance. “Well, whatever. We have time,” He said in a low rumble.

 

----


“Something tells me you two had fun,” Samus jokingly said with a wink. Only earning a groan from Snake and a wink back from Otacon. She only slightly grimaced at the thought. A low rumble of “I hate you” was heard from Snake as they walked by. She stuck out a tongue at the couple as they stumbled their way down the hall to Snake’s room.

 

“Are they ok?” Marth asked as he walked past them. She gave the prince a sly glance.

 

“You know they liked your bottle of sake. Don't play dumb,” She said with a nudge to his side. Marth only giggled and watched as the happy couple started to loudly and poorly sing something in Japanese. Marth cringed more at the poor pronunciation of their words rather than what Samus was insinuating.

 

“Hey! Sunny is asleep now! She’s rooming with the other kids! Megaman offered to sleep on the floor for her!” Samus yelled at them as they walked away. A muffled shout that sounded like a “thank you” came from one of them.


----


“This is the Breakfast Club,” Snake cried out loud, slightly slurred as he limped his way to the bed, falling backward with a grunt. Hal simply laughed as he slowly took a step into the dorm. He noticed the 4 beds and how very different they were.

 

“So, who actually rooms with you?” He asked, softly sitting down beside his fiancé. What a great thing to finally be able to say. Snake laughed as he sat up.

 

“You still think I'm bluffing? Alright... Uhm, right above me is where Sonic sleeps. An easy way to tell,” He said before punching the underneath of Sonic’s mattress as tons of blue fur came flying out. “That’s how,” He flatly delivered, covered in blue fur. “He sheds so much, holy shit,” Hal stifled a laugh.

 

“The one on the bottom is Ryu, he's cool. And on top with the giant sword is where Cloud is.” Snake listed, laying on his back and blindly pointing. Hal sighed before finally finding the courage to lay back and cuddle against Snake, wrapping his entire body around him and snuggling into the crook of his neck.

 


Hal slowly opened his eyes as he watched the new ring on his finger. He's going to marry David. It all seems so perfect. Wait.


Hal quickly lifted his head up, banging his head against the mattress. Dave chuckled as he picked himself up.

 

“Wait! Should I be going home or…?” He asked.

 

“Yeah, I propose to you and then you bail. Nah, you're staying,” Snake huffed as he tried to pull Hal back down.

 

“Of course, that’s easy for you to say as someone who came here prepared and packed. I apologize for asking, seeing as neither Sunny or I have any clothing or utilities to stay beyond a day,” Hal sarcastically commented. David rolled his eyes and kept trying to pull him back down.

 

“That’s a problem for tomorrow’s you… Now come on and let’s go to sleep,” Dave said, tugging away Hal's old white jacket. With a sigh, he shook off the jacket and tossed it to the ground as Dave shook off his own jacket.

 

Hal finally laid on his chest as they usually do back at home. Snake pushed himself up and tossed a stray pillow at the light switch and immediately the lights turned off. With a confident sigh, he laid back down and wrapped his arm tightly around Hal. Using one to keep Hal with him and another to wrap a blanket around them both.

 

David gripped Hal's hand under the covers. His thumb brushing over the ring. David placed a soft kiss into Hal's hair. He can feel a smile form against his skin. God, he's so happy. So happy to have Hal here and that he can finally have his cake and eat it too. Although now, it's a matter of having the wedding and hoping Hal and Sunny could adjust here.

 

But that's for tomorrow's him to deal with.

 

“Hal…”

 

“Hm?”

 

“I love you,”

 

“What's wrong? Getting all friendly all of a sudden…”

 

“Hrng, shut up,”

 

“I'm joking, I'm joking. I love you too,”

 

“Hmp, that's what I thought,” A chuckle. And another kiss.

Chapter Text

“Hey… David… Where's the kitchen? I'm thirsty…” Hal quietly asked in a groggy voice, hovering over his new fiancé.

 

“Hgnnn…. Shut the fuck up…”

 

“Excuse me?”

 

“Huh?” Dave mumbled before getting up and rubbing his eyes as he adjusted to the darkness. “Oh God, sorry Hal…” He apologized as he sat up. Hal giggled at his blunder.

 

“That came out really fast. Instinct?” Hal asked, with a smile as he helped Dave up.

 

“Usually the hedgehog tries to wake me up to walk with him to the kitchen or some shit…” David explained, walking out the room and holding Hal's hand as they slowly ventured down the halls. “He would call it our “late night adventure”, ha. Can't tell whether the kid is afraid of the dark or just wants to bug the shit out of me…” Dave laughed as they walked through the main floor.

 

“So quiet at night…” Hal said.

 

“Seems kinda weird, usually it's so loud… I like it,” Dave said, pushing a door open into the main kitchen as he grabbed a glass from the racks and filling it with water. Both of them leaned against the counter as Hal drank. A small thunk was heard as Hal placed the cup into the sink. Both of them just sitting and watching and enjoying the ambiance. David gripped Hal's hand as he brought it to his lips and kissed the back of it.

 

“You sure you wanna stay here? I can always request an early leave…” Snake asked against Hal's hand before pulling it back down.

 

“Like you said, why would you propose and then bail? I don't mind staying,” Hal pressed a kiss against his cheek. “Plus, I think your friends would want you to stay,” David rolled his eyes and wrapped an arm around his waist and pulling him close, kissing his temple.

 

“If you ever want to leave, just tell me,” He muttered into his hair. Hal simply hummed back a response as he leaned into Dave's touch.

 

“I'm pretty sure Peach would be disappointed if we left. She seemed really excited to plan this wedding,” Hal laughed, earning a chuckle from Dave. She did want  to plan a wedding, might as well let her. God, they are actually going to get married. Just thought sent a thrill down Snake's spine and made his heart skip a beat.  

 

“Guess I only have to worry about Sunny then,” Snake remarked.

 

“She's already got friends! She's more than well adjusted!” Hal commented. He's only slightly envious at how easily she was able to make friends. But that envy was drowned by his fatherly pride of knowing how much she's grown. Before, she was a timid girl who could barely get through a sentence without stuttering, to a slightly more outgoing person. Hal sighed at how she's grown up so fast.

 

“And, that's all thanks to my parenting,” Hal sarcastically said with a wink, causing Dave to do a double take.

 

“Excuse me?”

 

“I mean, she did inherit my good genes,”

 

“She didn't inherit shit from you and you know that,” Snake quipped.

 

“Shhh… let me believe. Besides, your parenting skills aren't the most optimal,” Hal could hear Dave roll his eyes the minute that sentence left his mouth. He pressed a kiss against the creases of Snake's forehead as a small, flustered smile slowly appeared on his face.

 

“Then, that settles it! You can officially move in with me here!” Snake cheered.

 

“I still don't have any clothes to last me beyond an afternoon,” Hal reminded.

 

“Nonsense, you can borrow mine. You look cute in 'em,”

 

“That's not the point!” Hal screamed with a blush. It was so easy to make him flustered. “Need I remind you that I was the one who packed in that extra tye-dye shirt and shorts since you only packed sneaking suits!” He scolded with a poke to Snake's cheek as Snake attempted to swat the hand away.

 

“Can't recall,” Hal let out a small annoyed grunt before it became silent once more.

 

“We should head back to base,” Dave said which caused Otacon to snort before nodding as they walked back to their room, hand in hand.

 

----

 

The small bed, the cramped feeling of just both of them pressing against each other for warmth, the just the two of them. Just like Alaska. Those thoughts swarmed Hal's mind as he laid against Dave's chest, a protective arm wrapped around his waist with their legs tangled.

 

Hal looked up from Dave's chest and watched carefully the way his body rose and fell as he breathed in and out. He looked so peaceful. Then again, he always looked calm whenever they laid in bed. Hal carefully pulled his hand out and placed it against the right side of Dave's face, cradling his cheek. He only slightly stirred.

 

Hal's thumb ran across the skin underneath. He had most of David's features memorized at this point, like the dimples that Dave refused to admit were there but were still adorable nonetheless. Small strands of hair covered his face and Hal was struck with the urge to move them away. It's slightly shorter than last time. He must have gotten it cut also.  

 

If Hal shut his eyes and concentrated hard enough, he could vaguely feel the ripples of what was once scarred and burned skin. It wasn’t really that noticeable, but if Hal were to point out to someone the burn scar, then they would see it. But it’s mostly faded for the most part.

 

Just about a year or so ago, he would've spent most of the time they had together wondering, worrying, praying about when it would end, the time they had left.

 

But now, he was more than grateful that those thoughts are no longer there.

 

“Hal?” David mumbled, eyes still closed. He simply hummed in acknowledgment. “Are you okay? You should be asleep,”

 

“I love you, David,” He felt the skin underneath his fingertips become warmer.

 

“Same here…”

 

“You love yourself? Egotistical much?” Hal laughed as an agitated grumble responded with an: “you know what I mean.” Hal closed his eyes once more, thankful to be able to hear Snake's heartbeat.

 

----

 

“Shut up, you're gonna wake them up!”

 

“What?! I'm not the one who’s making that much noise!”

 

“Sonikku, watashi wa kami ni chikau…” (Sonic, I swear to God…)

 

“They're waking up!”

 

A multitude of voices began to overlap as they all began to argue over who's talking louder, none the wiser that… they're all fucking loud.

 

Snake slowly lifted himself onto his arms, vision cloudy and hearing muffled. He only slightly flinched when he felt another person brush up close to him, only to relax when he recognized that messy tuft of brown hair as Hal.

 

“God… what time is it?” Hal muttered, rubbing his palms against his eyes. Snake opened his mouth to respond only for a loud scream to take its place.

 

“Surprise! Happy new fiancés!” Three voices screamed followed by the sound of multiple paper party horns unfurling. That immediately took away any tired feeling they had as Snake wrapped a protective arm around Hal while covering him with a blanket.

 

His vision slowly focused as he watched…

 

Ryu, Cloud, and Sonic all gathered around them with Ryu pulling a confetti-filled party popper, Cloud holding a cake, and Sonic carrying multiple party horns in his mouth with the biggest grin. The other two, on the other hand, were much more sheepish.

 

“Listen, what Samus and the two blue-haired pretty boys did for you two was special and I wasn't going to let them upstage us!” Sonic confidently boasted. “We are the superior friend group!”

 

Both Ryu and Cloud visually cringed at that. Both men were left dumbfounded and unsure of what to do. Hal wasn't sure whether to freak out since, yes, Ryu, Sonic the Hedgehog, and The Cloud Strife were in front of him or to die of mortification.

 

Snake glared at the hedgehog as the kid continued to smile with that cheeky grin of his.

 

“Oh yeah, absolutely… you're the superior group because true friends wake us up at…” Snake went to grab his phone and looked at the time. “7 AM…” He finished with a sarcastic smile as Ryu and Cloud visually paled while Sonic didn't even flinch.

 

“Kēki o motte kita?...” (We brought cake…) Cloud quietly added, motioning to the cake in his hands.

 

The door slammed open abruptly. The loud noise causing Cloud to flinch and drop the cake onto Snake's face. Everyone turned to the source of the noise, whipping their heads to the door.

 

“Goddammit, I told you guys they'd do this before us!” Samus huffed as she carried a bunch of balloons, while Ike and Marth followed behind them with a cake of their own and confetti.

 

“Welcome to Smash…” Snake sighed to Hal as he giggled and wiped a bit of the cake off Snake's face and tasting it.

 

“Mmm… marshmallow cream…” Hal laughed.

 

----

 

After a quick shower, both of the new fiancés got dressed and ready for breakfast. Snake giving his roommates the stink eye as he walked out of the shower, Cloud and Ryu were visibly embarrassed while Sonic seemed to not give a shit. Snake is pretty sure there's still marshmallow cream somewhere in his ear.

 

Either way, he rolled his eyes as they sprinted their way out the door to get breakfast.

 

“You have really interesting friends…” Hal remarks as he dries up his hair.

 

“I wouldn't say “interesting” really,” There's a giggle from Hal. “What's so funny?” Hal just waves him away, laughing to himself.

 

“I'm just really proud of you is all,” he softly says. Snake quickly walked to Hal and wrapped his arms around his waist. Dave pressed his face into the crook of his neck, inhaling the cheap shampoo. He left a quick kiss on the side of his head.

 

“Sweet Jesus, I'm actually going to marry you,” He mumbled into Hal's skin.

 

“You're still glowing from that?”

 

“Don't tell me you don't care,”

 

“No! I'm just joking! I just still think it's so surreal. And I'm not talking about the fact I just met Cloud Strife. Oh God, even saying it out loud sounds ridiculous,” Hal began to ramble. He really liked it when Hal talked.

 

“Well,” Dave pressed another kiss to the side of his head. “Welcome to my ridiculous world!” Hal turned his head to face Dave as they kissed each other once more.

 

“Ew! Not now!” A shriek came. They both turned to the door as he saw all the kids making disgusted faces at them with Sunny joining. Both men suppress their laughter.

 

“Hey want me to continue Bayonetta's lesson on babies?” Snake grinned. They all immediately screamed and ran. Both of them shook their heads and laughed before following them.

 

----

 

Breakfast was normal as usual, aside from the sheepish laughter of Ike, Marth, and Samus at what happened to them earlier. Even the snarky comments from them teasing at how they were going to get married seemed so normal.

 

It wasn’t long until they were all done eating as they picked up their dishes. Snake kept an eye on the kids to make sure that they actually cleaned up after themselves. (Fortunately, for being mischievous kids, they actually had manners.)

 

Hal had gotten into a conversation with Samus as they all walked out of the dining hall, (it was less of a conversation and a bit more of an interrogation, but Snake really didn’t want to intervene.) Although he was reminded of something as Marth waved Ike goodbye as he had a match early in the morning.

 

“Marth,” He called out to the prince with a grunt. He immediately paused and turned to him.

 

“Snake, you’re really going to let Samus torture your fiancé like that?” Marth joked, motioning towards the bounty hunter tugging at Otacon’s jacket and pinching his cheek. Snake let out a dry laugh.

 

“He needs a little rough-housing before staying here. But, uhm,” Snake fast-walk to catch up with the prince. “I need another favor, I’m sorry for asking so much,” Marth immediately waved his hand at his face.

 

“Nonsense! You’re not a bother. What do you need?”

 

“So, Otacon and I agreed that we should stay-”

 

“Good, you’d have another list of people who’d be mad if you left again,” Marth placed a hand over his mouth. “That was too harsh, I’m sorry,” Snake slapped his back.

 

“None taken, I need that. Anyway, since Hal and Sunny didn’t know he was staying… uhm,” Snake twiddled with his fingers. “They have nothing. I was hoping you could spare some clothing for them to use while they’re here,” He asked in a whisper.

 

“Absolutely! I was already planning on doing that on my own volition! I’ll have a set ready in the afternoon,” Marth agreed, making a note to do so.

 

“God, I can’t thank you enough, you’ve done so much! How can I repay you?” Snake eagerly thanked as he shook Marth’s hand.

 

“Well, there is something… Will you officially let me tailor for your wedding?” He asked with a bow. Somehow his cape was billowing despite the fact there was no wind. Snake shook his head.

 

“That’s more like you doing something for me again…” Snake softly mentioned.

 

“Please! I know this sounds pathetic, but no one really lets me do anything for them back at home. It’s always “Oh your highness, let me do this for you!” or “Your grace, that’s not for you to do!” I know it’s ridiculous, complaining about people wanting to be at your every beck and call. But I’ve fought for my people! I’ve lead armies and lead men into battle! I’m not a child that needs to be pampered!” Marth ranted, waving his arms around with such fury and emotion that it took Snake by surprise as he took a step back.

 

“I’m sorry for my rant, but let me do this! I want to be of your service!” Marth pleaded. Snake put his hands up.

 

“You’re acting as if we are going to war,”

 

“Not to undermine the horrors and trauma of war, but tailoring certainly can feel like it,” Marth looked away as he crossed his arms with a huff. “But that wasn’t an answer,” He eyed the soldier.

 

“Alright, fine! Just get poor ol’ Hal and Sunny some clothes before he takes all of mine,” Snake groaned. Marth’s eyes brightened with a smile. He sprinted away, assumingly to his room with a hop in his step, shouting something along the lines of ‘not going to regret it’. Snake rolled his eyes and walked faster, deciding that Otacon has been tortured by Samus enough.

 

----

 

As the morning wrapped up and melted to the afternoon, the matches began once more.

 

“You sure you wanna spectate?” Snake commented as he stretched his arms, bouncing a bit on the balls of his feet as he waited for his opponent to arrive.

 

“What? Do you not want me to see you kick ass?” Otacon teased as he sat against the wall, pulling out his laptop and setting up the codec. “You sure you don’t need your nanomachines?”

 

“The battlefield in there is basically if VR and nanomachines had a kid on steroids,” He explained.

 

“You still need them for our codec,” Otacon mumbled. Snake rolled his eyes and moved his hair out the way, stretching his neck out and inviting Otacon to go and inject him. He expected a pinch to come, but nothing. He opened an eye, only to see Otacon still sitting there on the floor, tapping away at his laptop.

 

“Aren’t you going to inject me with nanomachines?” He grunted as Otacon lifted his head back up to look at him.

 

“I didn’t expect to stay here, why would I have them with me?” He said as he pushed back up his glasses. Snake simply grunted and went back to stretching. “That’s why I asked, so I can try and get some,” He continued. Snake just bounced in place as he waited impatiently for his opponent.

 

“How will we communicate?”

 

“We could go old school and have a simple Bluetooth headset?”

 

“Whatever, I just need your support right now,” Snake said. To most other people, this would’ve sounded dismissive, but to Hal, he knows at this point what that actually means: I trust you.

 

Otacon laughed and pulled out an old Bluetooth headset he had in his laptop case. They were basically headphones at this point, but he still kept them around just in case. Either way, he handed one end to Snake as they tested it out. Slightly grainy audio, but better than nothing.

 

“Once your opponent gets here, I’ll be able to send you data about them,” Otacon elaborated with Snake responding with a nod. As if on cue, the sound of heavy boots and artillery shaking the ground grew louder and louder. Both of them turned to see who it was.

 

“I-I’m so, huff, sorry! Gods, it’s hot! Woke, huff, up late!” Chrom heaved as he placed his hands on his knees, hunched over. Both of Hal and Dave sent each other a glance at each other has the newcomer tried to breathe. “You’re Snake, aren’t you?” He managed to choke out. But Snake couldn’t even open his mouth to respond without Chrom talking once more. “Of course! You two stole the party last night! It was really sweet. Why, I remember how I proposed to my wife, it was really embarra-”

 

“Chrom!” A woman shouted, two pairs of footsteps following.

 

“There she is! Robin! Lucina!” He shouted as he met up with them halfway and smothered them with his embrace. He began to rattle off about how much he loved his family and how great they were as Snake and Otacon just sat there watching. Neither of them sure of what to say. Snake chuckled to himself as it reminded him of how awkward and bumbling Hal was and still kinda is. Though he doubts Hal would see the same thing.

 

“My apologies, I’m just really excited to get the chance to be here! It’s my first battle,” Chrom says with a puff to his chest. Robin and Lucina are standing behind him as they scream and shout, one even pulling out a party favor and blowing it. It takes longer than it should before both participants are even ready before another thing takes their attention.

 

“Papa is gonna fight?!” Sunny chimed as she skipped to her parents. There was their sunshine! Snake smiled as he picked up his daughter and gave her a little bounce.

 

“You betcha,” He said with a slight pinch to her cheek. She just giggled and then gave her dad a playful punch as he did so back. Hal joined in doting Sunny. Maybe Snake does understand what Chrom felt.

 

“I’m not gonna go easy on you; I still have a family who’s watching!” Chrom said with a wink, pointing at the two women still cheering him.

 

“Neither am I,” Snake said, gesturing to Hal and Sunny behind them, whooping also, trying to yell louder than the other two. Both men laughed as they shook hands before walking to their respective places. Snake is definitely not going to let him win. He stood near the door, stretching his back before turning back to Otacon. “Are you ready?” He said. Otacon nodded as he placed Sunny back down and picking up his laptop.

 

“Papa, don’t lose!” Sunny shouted. He gave her a thumbs up before entering the arena.

 

-------

 

He always hated VR. The soldiers that usually came out of it were glorified gamers who thought they knew how to shoot a gun, but once they came face to face with living flesh, all that training was pointless. It took Raiden a little push to get over the conditioning that VR gave him, but he was a formidable person afterward. Not that Snake really wanted to sing his praises about Raiden’s combat skills; he hated the thought of what Jack went through.

 

That, and a myriad of reasons, when he first came here, he was repulsed at the idea of doing this tournament. Even if the physics here were meticulously calculated based on his actual weight, speed, and build, the only thing that made him not want to leave immediately was the fact that his opponent was real and not a calculated set of code.

 

Either way, he’s here and watches Chrom appear onto the battlefield and the match starts.

 

And it goes horribly. Chrom somehow has the speed of Roy and the ability to hit like a truck like him. He’s able to take off a stock and two, but even then, the first match ends with his loss and his head is pounding. He calls up Otacon.

 

“Did you get all that?” He asked; he can hear Robin and Lucina cheering and shouting at the first victory.

 

“Don’t worry, Snake, that was really good! Don’t put yourself down!” Otacon cheered. Sunny pressed her face against her dad’s to hear the conversation.

 

“Yea, papa! You can do this!” She chimed in too. Snake smiled at their comforting words as Hal continued to ramble.

 

“Alright, I’ve finally calculated most of his properties and they look to be near identical to Roy’s,” Otacon began. “Weight, fall speed, pretty much the same,”

 

“Then how come he seems to hit harder?” Snake asked. The next match is almost going to start.

 

“Unlike Roy where he hits strongest at the hilt, Chrom’s sword hits hard all throughout, plus he’s slightly faster,” Otacon can hear Snake sucking his teeth. “But the good news is his subpar recovery! Lead him more off stage and he won’t be able to come back!”

 

“If I can’t survive long enough to do so, then it’s pointless,”  Snake muttered.

 

“Snake, you’re heavy,” A laugh could be heard through the speakers. “I mean, you’ve got a lot of muscle, you can take several hits before being easily launched! Good luck, Dave!” The communication cut off with a blip as he’s transported back onto the battlefield. He’s not going to let his family down.

 

----

 

He took the second match easily.

 

Hal and Sunny immediately got up and screamed and cheered as Snake took down Chrom’s last stock. The other two spectators laughed at the outburst as they cheered Chrom on, still optimistic. Their screams filling the entire hallway as people walked by to see what the commotion is about.

 

Both men are heaving by the end of the last round. Snake’s only slightly terrified at how much adrenaline is coursing through him right now. It’s not long before they have to start again.

 

He’s gotta win. The match starts and Chrom dashes into his, sword swinging rapidly. Snake’s only barely able to shield in time, but by the time the flurry of attacks is over, his shield is nearing the size of a pebble.

 

He’s quick to push Chrom’s failed attack a quick jab to get him off him. Chrom skids before he reaches the edge of the stage. Snake quickly pulled the pin off a grenade and tossed it at the prince as it exploded in his face. Snake dashed towards him to keep him off stage. But before he could even reach there, he felt the earth shake under his feet as he’s knocked to the ground. The slice of the sword barely graced his feet as he jumped and charged head first.

 

There’s a smirk on Chrom’s face and Snake’s quick to read it. There’s a glint as he goes to into a defensive pose, ready to counter his attack. Snake quickly grabbed the prince and placed him into a chokehold, building up damage as he twisted Chrom’s arm and neck. God, he hates the disgusting crunch.

 

He slowly put the body onto the ground. A grin escapes as he sees the dopey smile as he’s knocked out. But with a quick charge to his leg, he kicks upward sending the prince upward into the sky. One stock down, two more left.

 

In the meantime, Snake drops a C4, centerstage, red light blinking, but not as if Chrom could see it. Chrom comes back down from the platform and begins with another barrage of strikes from his sword. The swordsman jumps into the air and follows his movement as he continues to swipe at him. Somehow, Snake is able to get a grenade out as he holds it in his hand. The prince continues to combo him only for an explosion to stop it.

 

Snake jumps onto his feet before landing hard on the ground as he sees Chrom land hard on his back. Right on top of the C4.

 

“There!” His thumb running on instinct as he sets off the bomb, sending him the swordsman into the air once more. Snake quickly follows him in the air with an upward kick with both legs. He’s too far now to do anything so he waits for Chrom’s next move, tossing a grenade in his direction for safe keeping. He’s once again far off stage, and he’s close to axe-kicking him to the blast zone. Only to feel a sharp pain in his side as he’s greeted with darkness at such a fast speed. He barely registers that Chrom spiked him.

 

Being knocked out always feels weird. It’s a sensation of feeling nothing and everything. Everything’s bright again. Any previous pain he felt suddenly vanished. He looks down from the platform. Chrom is looking up at him.

 

He smiles and waves up at Snake. Snake can’t help but wave back. Even in this tense fight, he can’t help but admire how Chrom still keeps that attitude up.

 

Alright, thoughts aside he comes back down. 2-to-2, but Chrom’s still got some damage on him. He’s just gotta be defensive until he can land a strong hit. He can probably try and bait out a counter from him to get a charged attack out. He runs towards the man and he quickly notices something off. He’s still standing him near the ledge. An odd place to be for someone who has a bad recovery.

 

There’s something off. He immediately ducks and crawls on his stomach, narrowly dodging a grab. So that’s what he was going for. Snake quickly punishes it with a sweeping kick. His body moving instinctually at this point as he follows him off the stage and kicks him backward with his legs. At this point, the knockback should be far enough that he can’t make it back. He still quickly rides on his Cypher, grabbing hold of the ledge.

 

He can hear a faint “sorry!” before the sound of an explosion following. Snake doesn’t have time to think as he pushes himself back up. There’s only 1 stock left. He silently thanks Otacon for his advice since this battle is going far better than he expected. Speaking of Otacon…

 

“Otacon!” He shouts into the mic, looking up at where Chrom’s platform should be.

 

“You’re doing great, Snake!” He cheers.

 

“Thank you, but how much time is left?” Snake interrupts. He hears a hum. He can see a bright light forming from the recovery platform. Shit.

 

“A minute, 15,” Shit again.

 

“Thanks, hun,” He hangs up and watches the swordsman jump down and patiently stand there, eyeing him. He’s gotta work fast, no more stalling. In his haste, he charges towards the prince, forgetting about his counter as he’s hit with an upward slice of his sword. He can hear the pattering of the prince’s feet as he’s continuously hit by upward slashes, each racking up damage. Just as he thought he was done, Snake looked up, only to be greeted with a rush of blue flame from his sword and blown off stage and into the blast zone.

---

"Yes! Go Chrom!" Robin shouted as he got a kill. 

 

"Keep going, father!" Lucina screamed, jumping up and down. Sunny gripped the edge of her sweater as she watched the battle commence. She knows her papa is strong and smart and doesn't want to see him fail. She turns to her dad for comfort. There was a strong glint in his eyes as he looked up from his laptop. Sunny's seen that shine in many occasions during their game nights when he's got a trick up his sleeve. 

 

With newfound confidence, she hopped up a bit and cupped her mouth to scream. 

 

"You can do it papa!" She shrieked, louder than Lucina. Lucina side-eyed the little girl before smirking. She turned to her mom and whispered something in her ear. Both of them looked at each other and smiled. 

 

"Chrom, Chrom! He's our man! If he can't do it no one can!" Both of them chanted. Sunny perked up and tugged on her father's sleeve.

 

"We need a chant for papa!" Sunny said with such vigor. Hal saw how loud the other two were yelling. They couldn't be out played. He pushed his glasses up before carrying her up into her arms. 

 

"Snake! Snake! Snake!~" Both of them screamed, overshadowing the other two's chants. The two women paused in shock. Sunny locked eyes with Lucina. With a coy smile, she stuck her tongue out at the teen. Lucina's eyes widened at the sudden childish nature from her. She expected that kind of behavior from Ness or Toon Link, not her. They must have rubbed off onto her. She chuckled and stuck her tongue out back. 

 

Which only spiraled into a raspberry match between both girls. 

 

Their parents only stopped chanting when they realized what both of them were doing. 

 

-- 

 

1-to-1. He’s back on the platform. There’s an incoming call.

 

“You got 45 seconds, Snake. You can still win by timing him out by zoning him!” Otacon said, before hanging up. Snake sucked his teeth at that. He really doesn’t want to win on a technicality, but he isn’t sure he’s got a choice.

 

With the few seconds of invincibility he's got, he pulls out the Nikita and targets the prince. The sudden use of the weapon caught Chrom off guard as he tries to parry it, only to fail at the timing and is blown away.

 

He hates using it since it’s so big and bulking and leaves him vulnerable, but he can't allow Chrom to get too close. Tossing the rocket launcher aside, he runs straight to a dive roll, hoping to keep pushing him off stage.

 

“30 seconds! Don’t get too close, one hit and you’ll surpass him in terms of damage,” Otacon chimes again.

 

Fuck that, he’s going to try and get that stock off instead of running away like a coward. The dive sent Chrom off balance, sending him off stage once more. He’s gotta finish it right now. He jumps and kicks downward, hoping to send him far down enough to not be able to recover.

 

But once he lands back on the ground, it seems it wasn’t strong enough. There’s a sword in the air and he’s only got a split second to make a decision to let him recover and stall, or to risk it by spiking him with a chance that he gets caught in the blast and is taken down instead.

 

Well, rash decisions have seemed to worked for him before. He leaps into the air as he raises his leg, ready to punish. All he can see is a white blur as Chrom flips in the air, trying to get back up.

 

Snake closes his eyes as he axe-kicks the man, feeling his weight hitting him within the sweet spot at his leg. He barely has time to open his eyes once more before the sound of a blast is heard and everything stops.

 

He finally opens his eyes once more as he stumbles his way out the door as he hears another pair of feet following behind him. Snake is immediately overwhelmed with two bodies tackling him to the ground. His brain finally catches up with reality as he wearily wraps his arms around these figures. His eyes focus again.

 

Hal’s smiling at him.

 

“You did amazing! That last-minute spike you did was insane! Are you kidding me?!” Hal screams, endlessly spilling out praise before punctuating it with a kiss. Snake could get used to this.

 

“You’re… the shit!” He screams out before whipping his head to Sunny and pointing at her. “Don’t repeat what I said,” He says, earning a giggle from the girl.

 

“It’s okay, I’ve heard you two say worse!” She says with a smile. Snake immediately brings her onto his shoulders with a little bounce. “You were amazing, papa!” She also started her own sea of praise along with sound effects to go along with it.

 

“Guess age hasn’t slowed me down one bit,” Snake joked, earning a light jab from Otacon. Hal grabs the sides of his face and kisses him once more as Sunny grimace at the sight, covering her eyes. He almost forgets to shake his opponent's hand. He placed Sunny back down on the floor, turning to Chrom.

 

“It’s okay, sweetheart. You did really good!” Robin comforted.

 

“Don’t worry father, I’ll avenge your honor!” Lucina also commented, pulling out her sword. The prince simply laughed it off before squishing his wife’s cheeks and pulling her into a kiss. He also ruffled Lucina’s hair with a smile.

 

“Are you serious? I’m beyond ecstatic! That was my first fight! Imagine how I’ll be on my second, or third or twentieth?!” Chrom cheered as he spun Robin around before wrapping an arm around Lucina. “I’m more than happy to know that I have you guys as my support!”

 

It’s all familial bliss when Chrom meets Snake’s eye contact. He still smiles.

 

“Ah, I apologize for my rudeness!” Chrom says in a flustered tone as he shakes Snake’s hand.

 

“Nah, don’t be. Done the same,” Snake says, pointing at the two behind him. He also returns the grip.

 

“It’s nice, isn’t it?” Chrom says in a low voice as they let go.

 

“Huh? What is?”

 

“Having a family and all. It’s nice, is it not?” Chrom asks again with a smile. He nods to Lucina showing Sunny her sword and teaching her how to hold it. She mentioned something about a "Raiden" but Lucina had no idea what she was talking about, but just nodded nonetheless. She was a pretty neat kid. Snake blinked at how they got along.

 

“Yeah,” Dave softly agrees. “It is,”

 

-----

 

“Alright, are you ready for your first lesson?” Bayonetta asks with a cock to her hips. Peach bounced on the tips of her heels, creating a clicking sound that echoed through the floorboard.

 

“Yes! Yes! Yes!” She cheered as she continued to hop and skip throughout the main lobby. Bayo placed her hand on top of her head to stop her bouncing, like a small puppy who’s overly excited. With a small pat, she let go, sitting on the armrest of a beat-up sofa.

 

“Number one, the way you walk says a lot about you,” She said, waving her hand throughout the princess’ figure. “Give me a little twirl, a dance, a skip,” Bayonetta leaned back and took another lollipop and stuck it into her mouth. Peach slightly flinched before following suit. She walked a couple paces to the left and then back to the right again.

 

Her walk was more of scamper as she walked in short, quick steps. She always walks as if she’s in a rush with each click of her heels and follows with another one again and again. It’s cute. Bayo quickly erases that thought as she watches the princess scamper back to her spot in front of the umbra witch. Peach tilted her head to the side, awaiting Bayonetta’s response. She blinked back into reality as she pushed up her glasses and took the lollipop out of her mouth.

 

“Uhm… You walk like you’re in a hurry. The little scamper seems like you’re anxious,” Bayo said, watching as the princess’ posture lowered. She immediately tried to find something to cheer her back up. “Uh! There’s probably a market for that though! The walk is cute and dainty like you! But… uh… maybe we can try and make your walk more inviting…” Bayo jumped off the armrest and stood up.

 

“Here, lemme show you love,” Bayo said with a wink as she waited for a group of people to walk by. She spotted a group of male fighters walking close, talking to each other. Perfect. “Watch and learn, sweets,” Bayo said with a wink before shoving the lollipop back into her mouth and poofing out of existence leaving a trail of bats behind. Peach flinched as she disappeared, watching intently what the umbra witch was going to do.

 

She appeared at the far end of the room and walked forward. Her hips swaying side to side as she took a step forward. Her chest was up and out with a hand on her hips, walking with stride and poise. The lollipop was wrapped tightly around her lips. She smirked as she walked by the group of men; their voices became quieter as she passed by. Although Ike continued to babble about whatever it was they were talking about. Not that Bayo really cares, she knows the man is unaffected by her charm. This huge gift of hers was more than useful and she prided herself with it.

 

Bayo stopped and looked through the corner of the eye as the group continued to walk away. She materialized right next to Peach, placing an arm around her shoulders.

 

“So love, what did you think of that performance?” She asked, startling the poor princess as she flinched. Peach immediately became flustered as she fanned her face.

 

“Yes, I think I get it now!” Peach cried, standing up straighter. There was a sound of someone walking down the hall. Both women leaned forward to see who it was.

 

“Fuck me… Toon Link broke the mini-fridge again,” Samus cursed under her breath as she glared at her phone. They both immediately looked at each other with a smile at their lucky break. Bayo placed a hand on her back and gave her a slight push.

 

“Go practice for her, darling,” She hushed before patting her back again once more. Peach huffed before stepping into the proverbial spotlight.

 

Bayo had to bite her lip when she started walking. Bite her lip to not laugh.

 

Bless the princess’ heart, but she walked as if there was an animal crawling inside of her dress. Her walk was so unnatural and forced it almost looked as if she walked with a limp. She tried to copy the biting of her lip that Bayo usually did, but to the unknowing, it looked like she had something stuck in her tooth. A small snort escaped Bayo’s lip. Peach looked at her as Bayo gave a weak thumbs up from behind the couch. Her eyes moved to Samus as she gauges her reaction.  

 

Samus stopped in the middle of the hall. Her phone nearly slipped from her hands as she observed Peach’s… movements. That was until a loud thump echoed and rumbled the floor followed by a scream.

 

“Princess!” Samus’ mouth dropped as her eyebrows furrowed with worry and concern. She dashed to her and kneeled. Bayo perked her head up from the couch and spied on them. There was a weak groan from the bundle of pink on the floor.

 

“Are you okay? Are you hurt?” Samus asked, shaking the poor woman. There was a groan coming from the ground again.

 

“Yeah, just… Peachy…” She smiled softly at the bounty hunter, trying to get her head up from the floor before giving up and just laying on the floor, face up. Samus brushed a piece of the princess’ hair out of her face. A rush of warmth rushed to both of their cheeks.

 

“Uhm… you were walking funny. Are you fine?” Samus asked once more. Peach stilled once more as a weak laugh escaped her lips.

 

“I-uhm… I might need help walking now… Twisted my ankle…” She lifted her leg up a bit to show. It was slightly bruised and swollen. “I needed it today. Was planning to teach David and Hal to dance today,” She huffed. Samus let out a dry laugh at that remark that slowly turned into a giggle. Peach really couldn’t help but blush at that.

 

“Alright, hold on tight, and up!” Samus heaved and quickly lifted her up into her arms, carrying her in a bridal style. She nearly fell backward at how surprisingly light Peach was. They both laughed at the near mishap. “I’ll help you with that and you’ll be out dancing in no time,” She reassured. Peach’s fingers gingerly traced up to her neck as she slowly wrapped her arms around her tight.

 

Bayonetta hopped to her feet as she grinned at the princess. She gave her a big thumbs up from the barrier of her couch with a little bounce in her step. Peach gave back a thumbs up again as she walked out of sight.

 

She popped the lollipop back into her mouth again as she watched Samus carry her out of view. She leaned against the couch and crossed her arms with a hum.

 

“Bayonetta, you’re so selfless,” She laughed to herself, only slightly hurt by her own remark. “Well, what fun will it be if I don’t see what happened?” She said to herself before vanishing.

 

It took Peach all of her willpower to not blush to death. Here she was, being carried in the strong arms of Samus. Her. Oh my God. And she’s carrying her like it’s nothing. There’s something so alluring about being held like she was delicate. She kept her arms around Samus’ neck, desperately trying not to fall and make a fool of herself again. Her face was so close to her neck. She stilled once more, trying to control her breathing so she’s not heaving on her skin.

 

“You okay, princess?” Her eyes were looking down at her, and Peach could feel something getting caught in her throat.

 

“I’m fine,” She said, immediately noticing the close distance between their faces. She quickly unraveled her arms and pulled away. “I’m sorry! I was probably clinging on too tight, wasn’t I?”

 

“No, no, no, no!” Samus reassured with probably more ‘no’s than needed. “You should keep holding on, wouldn’t want you to fall again,” Samus weakly laughed as she tried to motion to Peach to put her arms back. Her fingertips traced back to where they were as if they were home.

 

Oh dear, she wasn’t going to last near her presence.

 

Samus kicked open the door to Peach’s room; the doorknob nearly making a dent into the wall at the sudden force. She carefully placed her down onto her bed, arms carefully unraveling underneath her and letting her go gently.

 

“I’m gonna go to my room to get some stuff, sit tight and I’ll be back,” Samus said before walking out the door, her heels’ clicking getting farther and farther. Peach simply smiled and waved until she was sure Samus was out of her vicinity.

 

She grabbed a throw pillow and shoved her face into it as it muffled her scream.

 

“You done yet?” She yanked the pillow away from her face, her nose touching against this person. Only this time, her scream wasn’t muffled. “Love, it’s me, I’m just checking up,” Bayonetta shut her up by placing a finger on her lips.

 

“Please… I’m on edge right now…” Peach whimpered, clutching her pillow.

 

“Sorry, but I like to make sure my clients are satisfied with their service,” She patted the princess’ hair. “So, are you satisfied with today’s lesson?”

 

“Oh, yes!” She cheered, radiating with sunshine that nearly blinded the witch. There were sounds of footsteps becoming closer and closer. Bayo turned back to the princess, giving her a wink and disappearing once more. Samus popped back into the frame, holding a roll of some compression wrap and tape.

 

She knelt down in front of the princess. Her ruby heels slid off her feet easily with just a single tug. Samus’ fingers carefully held her leg as she made sure she wasn’t in any serious harm. The velcro at the end of the tape creating a ripping sound as Samus unraveled it. She wrapped it around her foot with such precision and ease, Peach wondered how many times she has done this. Just a piece of tape was all that was needed to finish the job.

 

“Mission complete, can you move your toes?” Samus asked, an earnest look in her expression. She could.

 

“Oh, thank you!” She got up to back on her heels, only to see Samus slip it back on herself. Those ragged old heels feel like new at the sight.

 

It’s just like one of my romance novels! Peach blushed at that realization. With a little pat and heave, Samus got up and helped her up. There was silence between them both, neither of them able to say a word. The bounty hunter clapped a hand on her shoulder, mouth hanging open, nothing coming out.

 

“Uhm… take care! Snake’s almost done with his last match… Uh… Don’t fall again…” Samus clicked her teeth and gave her a wide grin. She let go and walked backward out the door, giving her finger guns before dashing down the hall. Peach was left alone, unable to properly comprehend what happened.

 

“Aren’t I the best?” Bayo popped back. Another unmuffled scream.

 

-----

 

The rest of the day follows as normal. Sunny quickly grew tired of seeing the fights, under the assumption he’ll always win and “it’s no fun when you know the ending to a good story.” Hal on the other hand, stayed nearby, both on the account that he has nothing else to do and the fact that he wants to see his soon-to-be husband succeed. But Dave didn’t mind, at all. He was more than happy to have him nearby.

 

“I only expect the best coming from you,” Hal whispered in his ear before leaning for a kiss.

 

“Stop blowing hot gas, or I’ll disappoint you,” Snake said under his breath, not letting go of Otacon.

 

“Hmm… Not possible,” Otacon leaned into another kiss. “You can never disappoint me,”

 

“What if I started smoking again?”

 

“Let’s not go too far,” Both of them laughed, still holding each other. “I already found the pack of unopened smokes,” Otacon said with a wink, letting go of Snake. He only slightly flinched, he was pretty sure he hid them well enough. But nothing seems to slip past Otacon anymore.

 

“Y’know, just in case I needed money. I promise I’m not gonna use them,” He said with a wink. Otacon rolled his eyes and patted his cheek. They leaned in to kiss once more, both of them finding comfort in each other until a voice called out to them.

 

“Hello!~” A female voice cried in a sing-song tone. Both looked at who it was. “Ah! I’m glad I caught you both!” Peach cheered, wiggling her fingers as she greeted them. There was a bit more pep in her step than usual as she scurried towards them with a bounce in her step.

 

“Someone's happy,” Snake noted with a smile.

 

“Oh uhm, well, I'm in a good mood!” She responded with a flustered tone. Neither of them presses her on it and just left it at that and Peach was grateful since she was pretty sure if she started, she wouldn't stop. Both men smiled at each other, both have a mutual understanding of her emotions. “Well, enough about me! I’ve come to bear good news!”

 

“So, I calculated all the stuff we need to prepare for your wedding!” Peach cheered. Both of them stilled at that.

 

“You really don’t have to!” Snake waved her away, actually in shock that she was this serious about the wedding.

 

“You’re right, but I want to. Trust me, weddings don’t happen often, so I’m milking this opportunity,” Peach gave Snake a small jab in the rib. “I’m not going to listen to any protest! We are going to do this wedding!” She punched the air with a victory whoop.

 

“So I took into consideration all the catering, tailoring, finding a photographer, a venue…” She began to list and it didn’t seem like it would stop at any point. A cold sweat started to creep down both of their necks. “... And rehearsals, so all together… we should have the wedding happen within a month!”

 

If they both had water in their mouths, Snake and Otacon would’ve done a spit take. Instead, they both let out a loud “huh?” at that.

 

“Is there something wrong? Is it too long of a wait? If we cut corners, then we can have it done within two weeks... “ Peach said. Both of them immediately waved their hands.

 

“N-No, that’s not it! It’s just that uh…” Otacon stuttered.

 

“That’s so soon,” Snake finished his sentence. Peach simply giggled at that as if she wasn’t planning a large wedding and was just planning a silly-old girls night out.

 

“Oh, if that’s the least of your problems, then we have nothing to worry about!” Peach began to walk quickly away from them. “Come on, follow me to my room! We need to plan out the basics of it first!” Snake grabbed Otacon’s hand as they followed the princess to her room.

 

----

 

“I’d make my wedding a floral, wrestling theme, where you have to fight each person to win the bride’s bouquet!” Daisy grinned, flexing her arms.

 

“I’d really appreciate a cute wedding decorated with little ornate things,” Zelda sighed at the thought.

 

“I don’t understand the tradition of weddings, but they seem really nice,” Rosalina looked up from her book. Peach shushed them.

 

“You can fantasize about your own weddings when you guys get married! Now we need to help these poor saps with theirs!” Peach shouted triumphantly. Snake and Otacon were sweating as they were hunched underneath Peach’s bunk bed. The dainty pastel walls proving to be slightly suffocating as they both had to come to the realization that, oh fuck, we have to plan this. Otacon gripped Snake’s hand a little bit tighter.

 

A gel pen was hanging out between Peach’s teeth as she pulled out a spare binder filled with blank sheets of looseleaf paper. With a pop to her pen cap, she looked back at them, pointing the pen at them as if it were a sword.

 

“You two look like you broke a priceless piece of fine silverware,” She noted. Neither of them said a word. “Let’s start with the easy parts first, who do you want to invite? Everyone here is automatically going to be invited, but are there people back home you wish to come?” Peach was immediately ready write. They both calmed down a bit.

 

They had to invite Mei Ling, she was going to die if she didn’t get an invite. Oh, and then there was Raiden and Rose and their kid. That was logical. Campbell was also a no brainer, he had to be there also. They also couldn’t forget Meryl and Johnny!

 

“What was their wedding like?” Snake asked. Oh, that’s right, Otacon remembered that he wasn’t there.

 

“It was… really nice…” Otacon whispered, not really wanting to think about why he wasn’t there. He perked up again when he realized that he was delving too deep into his thoughts again. “Meryl said that they were planning on having a kid. They still haven’t decided whether to adopt one or through conception,” He let out a dry laugh.

 

“Really? I’m happy for them,” Snake quietly muttered. Peach eyeballed the two of them, unsure of where the tension suddenly came from. The other three women also starting to feel the stress becoming unnerving as they looked at each other.

 

“Any more people? I need to get this done quickly if we want to have a party soon!” Peach clapped her hands, effectively getting their attention. With a blink, they both snapped back into reality. The pair quickly began to list other people. The princess quickly wrote down all the names, but something kept taking away her attention as she did so.

 

As a princess, she’s meant to be diplomatic and attentive to other’s emotions. (Well, except her own, but that’s her problem to deal with.) It’s important for communication. But she didn’t even need that skill to see that something’s going on between them. Maybe it was a one-time thing and just hopes this doesn’t bubble into something bigger.

 

She clasped her hand as she looked at the list.

 

“Now we need a theme, y’know, a trait or a concept that’s special to you two,” She said. Not giving the two a chance to think about it, the other women immediately began to shout and talk over each other as they said various topics.

 

“Jupiter,” Otacon said, firmly. They all stopped talking, visibly confused.

 

“It’s the fifth planet from the Earth’s sun and solar system. It’s mostly made of gas and has a red spot that’s a storm. It also has 79 moons,” Rosalina flatly said. Not that it helped the other women understand what he meant.

 

“We always did want to take a trip to Jupiter,” Snake muttered into Hal’s cheek with a kiss. Both of them blocking out the “awww’s” from them. Peach whispered something about how romantic they were.

 

“Well, I think we have some of the basic’s down. We’ll take this down bit by bit. I’ll take this to my second in hand… Speaking of which, she should be here soon…” There was a knock on the door. “Oh, there she is now!” The door opened just a sliver as a small figure walked in.

 

It was a dog? A yellow, humanoid looking small dog walked in. She was wearing a green vest and a blue skirt. She looked so tiny and harmless.

 

Snake and Otacon looked at each other once more.

 

“This is Isabelle!” Peach cheered, waving her to come over. Isabelle responded with the sound of random tones and squabbles, but the rest of the girls nodded at her as if she was communicating in common English. “Oh, my apologies! I could translate for her! But don’t worry, it’s easy to pick up what she’s saying,” She handed the tiny dog her binder. “She’s also going to join this tournament!”

 

Isabelle responded to that with another set of squabbles. According to Peach, Isabelle said something along the lines of that she’s more than what meets the eye, before flexing her little paws. Snake and Otacon were suddenly overwhelmed with the urge to pet her.

 

“She’s also going to help us plan your wedding! Now, boys, we have to go and practice for your dance! So let’s not idle around!” Peach cheered as she pulled the two back up on their feet. Isabelle had said something about having experience being the Villager’s assistant mayor. Peach quickly pushed them out the door as she waved the other girls goodbye and thanking Isabelle.

 

“Wait, isn’t the Villager a kid? How can he be a mayor?” Snake asked as Peach continued to push them down the halls.

 

“Maybe it’s like a little kid fantasy type thing?” Otacon said, well, more asked. Both them expected her to pop in and give an explanation, but she simply laughed and waved them off in a blase attitude that made them both unnerved. At this point, they were both tired and just accepted that Villager was some kind of kid mayor with a dog for a secretary. Not the strangest thing either of them had seen, and it might as well just happen.

 

----

 

“Show me what you can do first,” Peach clapped as she pulled out a basic speaker system. A basic waltz-esque song came on. If it hadn't been clear when Dave has proposed to Hal, neither of them ever had the coordination to dance. Two pairs of left feet was a more accurate statement of their dancing skills.

 

Both of them nervously laughed as they got into position, holding hands with Dave's other hand on Hal's shoulder with Hal gripping his waist.

 

With a deep breath in and a huff out, they begin to move. Their hips swaying side to side as they try to find a rhythm between them. They both moved across the floor, with a lack of grace. Both of them shifting on who was leading as their palms began to sweat and feel uncomfortable. Neither of them wanted to admit that they would occasionally look down at their feet. All it took was serval steps on each other's shoes. They nearly tripped over each other as they nearly fell. Dave quickly anchored a leg down as he grabbed Hal. Hal pressed face against Dave’s chest as he held onto Dave with all his life. Peach laughed at their blunders as she struggled to stop the music through her giggles.

 

Even when she could stop the music, her laughter flooded non-stop out of her mouth. She bent over like a jackknife, clutching her mid-frame as tears rolled down her face. She quickly straightens herself back up, slapping a hand over her mouth trying to contain herself. Both men took a quick glance at her and then back at each other.

 

A smile, a giggle, and quickly enough, they’re also doubling over laughing, holding onto each other as they’re crying too.

 

Peach dabs the corner of her eyes with her handkerchief, trying to even her breathing.

 

“O-Ok! My word…” She heaved out, taking a deep breath in. “We have… a bit of work to do…” Hal and Dave sheepishly gripped the back of their necks. She walked forward and began. “Well, there’s no better place to start than square one!” She faced them as she tapped her foot, wondering which mess to tackle first. It was going to take a while.

 

“Your main problem is a lack of coordination and that lack of coordination comes from not knowing who and when to lead and when to follow,”

 

She playfully pushed Dave out of the way as she grabbed Hal’s left hand, playfully sticking her tongue out as Dave did the “I’m watching you” motion.

 

“With me, when I go to my formal dances, it’s typically the man who leads and puts his hand on the middle of her back, not the waist,” She tugged Hal’s arm closer. “Also, you’re slouching a bit, Hal! Stand up straight and put your shoulders back!” She chastised him like a mom as Hal immediately straightened his posture. Dave let out a little snicker while Hal shot him a dirty glance.

 

“In a typical situation, the man would lead with his right foot forward and I would follow with my left foot backward. But since y’know…” She waved her hands to both of them. “It’s a matter of who wants to lead I guess, or we could choreograph a dance that changes the leader! But that’s up to you two!” She let go of Hal as she took Dave’s hand and guided him.

 

“Do you wanna lead?” Hal asked with a smirk, not really asking but more offering. In return, Dave did the stereotypical bow with his hand extended. Hal rolled his eyes as he did a fake curtsy motion, lifting the edge of his white coat as he took his hand.

 

“Alright, now right foot first, then left! Remember Dave! You’re leading right now! Whatever you do, he’s mirroring! There you go! See! You guys are such fast learners!” Peach clapped as they moved in unison. She quickly turned on the music and watched them dance, calling them out whenever they slouch (mostly at Hal) or when they were going to look down at their feet (mostly at Dave). But they seemed so tuned to each other now.

 

They looked as if they just fit. Like two clumsy pieces of a puzzle, they just snap together. Even with the occasional trip or giggle, they don’t break pace. Quite fast learners.

 

Their movements quickly become bolder and faster as the music picks up a bit, it’s a generic waltz-esque song was they treat it as if it was the song that played when they first met. Not that any song did play, but it’s just a hypothetical.

 

Hal leaned closer as he rested his forehead against Dave’s. He stops and blinks at Hal’s sudden gesture before softly smiling and gives him a little twirl. They’re just floating in space, just the two of them. They’re just moving in a repetitive box motion, but as if it really mattered? Both of them silently wished Sunny was dancing with them. She always liked to dance with them.

 

Peach purposely takes a while before deciding to wrap up their lesson. She can’t bear the thought of separating them, but it’s getting late and they might have other plans. Either way, they eventually have to wrap up as they all go their separate ways for the night. As she waved them away, she felt an unsure tap on her shoulder. Oh it was Hal, again.

 

"Oh, is everything ok?" She asked.

 

"There's one thing I wanted to ask," He quietly asked. She looked over Hal's shoulder and saw Dave walking ahead. She quickly returned her attention back to Hal and nodded. "Can you add blue roses as a theme for Dave?" He whispered.

 

"You have to explain what that means! You can't just leave me hanging!" Peach chirped. Hal quickly flustered at the thought of needing to explain it. 

 

"Blue roses are genetically modified flowers and don't exist in nature," Hal mumbled. Peach has seen blue roses in the wild, but then again both of their worlds are vastly different so she doesn't say anything. "Dave's..." He stops and thinks. "Well, he's a beauty that can't be found in nature..." Hal is fully red. Peach squeals and squishes his cheeks. 

 

"Ugh, you romantic, you!~" She teased, still squishing his cheeks. She lets go after he starts to flail a bit, but the cheeky smile is still plastered on her face as Hal becomes more flustered. "Alright, I'll keep that in mind. It'll be a secret between us," She winked and patted his cheek before walking away. Hal rubs his face as he wonders how he'll explain the redness to Dave. 

 

He catches up with him. Dave obviously eyeing him and his odd demeanor. 

 

"You okay?" He asks. 

 

"Yep! Yep! I'm good!" Hal brushed him off. Dave hummed and kept walking. 

 

--

 

Marth was waiting by their dorm, holding something behind his back. Otacon walked in with Snake trailing behind as Marth gripped his shoulder.

 

“I got a present for you guys,” He said with a cheerful smile as he pulled out a large stack of clothing wrapped in a bow. “I already gave Sunny her set of clothes, but she was knocked out,” Snake graciously took the gift with a smile while profusely asking him if there was anything he can repay him. Marth still gave him the same answer as before. “Peach already told me about the theme you guys decided and I already have some sketches done,” He puffed out his chest with pride. Even if Snake had no understanding of what it means to tailor, he’s still shocked at the speed he’s working at.

 

There was a strange feeling in his chest. The idea of all of these people willing to help them plan and organize this wedding just creates a sharp jitter in his chest. He couldn’t tell if it was excitement or guilt, but it’s a feeling he has. He should be grateful for everything that everyone is doing, even Sonic’s stupid fucking cake shit he pulled in the morning was proof that these people cared about them. But any sense of gratitude he wants to express is drowned by the feelings of guilt. He wants to apologize to Marth and Peach for doing all of this and just run away and take Hal and Sunny home. But, he knows about the damage he’s caused the last time he did that.

 

Snake decides to swallow his pride and step back into his room, holding the clothes Marth gave in his hands. He’s greeted to Hal showing the rest of their roommates an episode of Evangelion on his laptop. All of them seemed slightly interested in the show, Cloud especially as seen with how he leans in.

 

While everyone else was watching, he sat down and gave a little nudge to his side and whispered into Hal’s ear.

 

“Marth got you a little gift,” He passed the folded clothes to him as Hal gasped, immediately unraveling them to look at them. It was actually quite a lot of clothes, and PJs, and undergarments. There was even some cute pastel graphic T-Shirts, turtlenecks, and some high waisted jeans that Hal would wear in their early days. Snake felt a shudder go down his neck at how eerily accurate Marth was able to decipher Hal’s style.

 

“Oh wow, I need to give him my thanks somehow,” Hal muttered. Snake kissed his cheek with a smile before leaning his head on his shoulder.

 

“Oh my God, dad, stop flirting in front of me,” Sonic obnoxiously mocked in the most stereotypical teenager voice he could muster which erupted into laughs except Hal and Dave who stilled at the word ‘dad’. Sweet Jesus, they felt old.

 

“Dad! Papa! Kiss me goodnight!” Sunny came skipping into the room with husky themed Pyjamas from Marth. With a tired saunter, they came and picked her up, both of them kissing their little girl on the forehead. “Hi, Sonic! Hi Ryu! Hi Cloud!” Sunny greeted the other fighters, proud that she knows who they were thanks to her dad. She was going to leave right after, but only stayed after Ryu had teased Sonic of being as tall as Sunny.

 

They all quickly became enthralled by the little girl as she began to ramble about how big fans she was of them. (Cloud even offering her the chance to hold the sword, of course with her dad’s help. Actually, neither of them could lift it, but just holding it satisfied them enough.)

 

As Sunny waved them all away and skipped back to her room and everyone settled back into their old positions, Hal laid his head upon Snake’s lap as they all continued to watch the show on his laptop. When no one was looking, he grabbed Hal’s hand and kissed the ring on it as Hal responded with an eye roll and a kiss back. Although, everyone was looking and also rolling their eyes.

 

“God, we are old,” Dave whispered.

 

“Age hasn’t slowed you down one bit though,” Hal laughed.

 

“Hey, when did Campbell tell you that?”

 

“Maybe it has,” Hal snickered at Dave’s pouting face. Everyone else side-eyed each other. Yep, they were old.

 

Chapter Text



“Alright, Snake! That was an amazing match! Glad you took my advice about using your grenades to manipulate your momentum in the air!” 

 

“Otacon…” 

 

“Although, I’ve noticed you tend to roll behind your opponent after you get back on the stage. You’re going to want to mix up your landing options!

 

“Otacon.” 

 

“I recommend baiting your opponents into thinking you're going to roll, bait them out, and then punish their poor read!” 

 

“Hal!” Snake shouted, stopping him in his tracks. Hal stopped talking and stared at him. Snake pinched the bridge of his nose. “Hal, hun, are you going to spectate every match?” Hal just paused a bit and laughed out loud, huddling over still laughing. He wiped the stray tear away and looked at Snake, expecting to see him laughing too.

 

He wasn’t. Snake raised an eyebrow. Hal stopped and just looked at him, sweat rolling down his face. 

 

It had been a few days so far since he and Sunny decided to stay with Snake and they had gotten into a rhythm. Sunny would run off with the other kids and join them and their shenanigans until one or more of them had to fight, then she’d stay with whoever was left. On the rare occasions no one could be with her, she’d run off into the scrap metal basement (with an adult supervising her, of course) and tinker around with whatever was down there. 

 

Hal, just stayed with Snake, commenting on all his fights and giving him tips, since that’s the extent of what he could do. He goes to eat with Snake and hang out with him and at the end of the day, they both practice their dancing and plan more of their wedding with Peach. Sometimes, Bayonetta or Samus or both will pop in and help out. (By help, meaning mostly making fun of their poor dancing skills.) 

 

“Ha… what do you mean?” Hal weakly asked. Snake gripped the back of his neck and sucked in a breath.

 

“Hal… how do I put this… politely?” Snake scratched his head. “I want you to befriend more people…” Hal beamed. 

 

“Yeah, I’ve been getting along with your friends! They’re all nice! Samus is really funny, so is Cloud and Ryu-” 

 

“Hal…” He placed his hands on Hal’s shoulder. “I want you to branch out with other people,” Blink. “Who aren’t just mutual friends…” Snake watched as Hal’s microexpressions changed to hide his disappointment. Snake cupped his cheeks and brought him to a kiss. Hal pouted through most of it. He nuzzled into the crook of Hal’s neck, playfully nipping the skin there. “Listen, babe. I just want you to also you to have people who you can call friends, y’know?” He mumbled, still pressing smooches there. Hal’s pout wavered as Dave continued to give his neck attention. Dave laughed and kissed his furrowed brows. He held Hal’s hands into his, running his thumb across the ring. 

 

“Listen, Hal. Just try and see. There’s gotta be someone here who you can hold a conversation with? Try and see the recreational areas. I just want you to have fun too, Hal,” Snake’s voice lowered to a mutter. 

 

“But I have fun with you… Analyzing battle strategies, combos, and helping…” Hal sighed, not meeting Dave’s eyes. 

 

“If you try just once, only once, today, to talk to people, I’ll take you on an ice cream date you always wanted,” Snake winked. Hal faked gasped and put a hand to his chest. 

 

“David! Are you bribing me with ice cream? If so, then- hey!” Hal stopped mid-sentence. “How did you know I always wanted an ice cream date?” Snake laughed and rolled his neck. 

 

“I looked at your little journal on your laptop...” 

 

“It’s password-protected! And encrypted beyond belief! You couldn’t have-” 

 

“That means nothing when I can just... look over your shoulder…” Snake shrugged as Otacon stopped talking. He remembered that journal entry. It was slightly before the Big Shell Incident. So around late April? He’s not sure about dates anymore. But that means he’s remembered all this time? All these years? 

 

Hal’s not sure whether to blush out of endearment or embarrassment. Dave laughed and pressed another kiss against his cheek before walking off. Hal isn’t sure whether to scream or laugh. 

 

----

 

He needs something to do. In the bliss of the moment, Hal never questioned the idea of staying in this place with Snake at all. And to have Sunny come along too? Even better! 

 

But now as he's pacing up and down the stairs and halls, Hal is starting to realize something. 

 

He's useless here. 

 

While Snake and everyone else is off fighting, he's just here, not doing anything but wasting space. Even Sunny has found companionship in the younger kids! But what the hell was he doing? 

 

It had been a long time since he felt this… worthless? Was that even the right word? He knows he has some worth, but he just feels like an NPC to some game right now; only being called when other people need him and forgotten in the code when they don't. 

 

Either way, he'd only felt this way whenever Snake would go out on his missions as he stayed behind and watched from his monitor. Safe and sound and unable to do much to physically help him. There were times he felt the urge to just get out of his chair and charge to where he was, but he knew that it was reckless and a waste of time to do so. But it still doesn't stop from feeling like this much of a waste of space. 

 

He's taken out of his head when he heard the soft tapping of feet walking closer and closer. Hal quickly panics and just decides to feign interest in the bulletin board nearby as the other fighters just continue to chat and ignore him. He lets out a sigh as they walk away, only to look up at a flyer that was staring at him dead in the face. 

 

WFT’s Yoga Course: Everyday at 5:30! De-stress yourself and find your inner peace! 

 

Well, he was feeling stressed, so might as well go. With a quick picture of the flyer, he was off to do something. 

 

----

 

The building was a lot bigger than he imagined and it took nearly 15 minutes to just find the room and by then, it was past 5:30. Hal sighed as he stood at the door, which was closed. 

 

Screwing his eyes shut, he knocked on the door. Pause. 

 

“Come in!” He turned the doorknob and was nearly blinded by the lights. It was a wide room with its equally large windows. The walls were painted with a neutral gray color. It was just like any other yoga class with the yoga mats placed on the ground. 

 

In the middle on the floor was a pale white woman who looked like a mannequin doing some stretches. Hal just stood there. Stunned. She looked up and waved. 

 

“Ah! Aren't you Hal?” She called out. Hal felt a blush rise to his cheeks. 

 

“Oh, uh, yea, I am!” He stuttered out. 

 

“Congratulations on the engagement. Snake has a match right now if you were looking for him,” she continued. 

 

“N-No. I know! I was here for WFT’s yoga class?” He said, unsure of who “WFT” was. Her eyes shone brightly at that. With a bounce, she stood right up straight. 

 

“Wii Fit Trainer? That's me!” She chimed and smiled. Hal was shocked at how he didn't get what the initials meant at first. He needs to brush up on who everyone is, he's slipping! “You don't have the proper attire though?” She remarked. Hal stuttered as he realized that he was wearing jeans and a turtleneck. She got up and dug into a back closet and scavenged in there before coming back out. 

 

“Here's a complementary set though!” She smiled and handed him a set of leggings, tank tops, and a towel. “I'm trying to get rid of the extras, so take as many as you want!” She said. Hal stumbled out several thanks as she just motioned him to change in a small changing room. 

 

There was something cathartic about changing into something far more breathable than what he was wearing before. 

 

He took a spot next to WFT as he began to mimic her stretches, only slightly unnerved at how flexible she was and how… he wasn't at all. Although, to be fair, he never really had use of his flexibility (or lack thereof) in his line of work. Or rather he could only be flexible when he… needed to be. 

 

“Is it usually this empty?” He asked and broke the silence. 

 

“Typically there are a few other people, a small handful. Even though not many people come here, I still think it's important to have this service available. It's crucial to keep both the body and mind in harmony, so I just keep this place open,” She elaborated as she bent forward. Hal continued to follow her lead even as he winced at the cracking of his lower back. Yep, he needed to do this. 

 

The unsuspecting loud slam of the door startled Hal but didn't seem to phase the trainer. 

 

“Ugh… sorry, I'm late! Y'know how it is with matches and stuff and Robin still has one more matc- oh who's that?” Chrom burst through the door, clearly unaware of the noise he was making. 

 

“Oh Chrom, good to see you again. Glad you can stay here instead of “visiting”! I was beginning to doubt if you were even gonna come anymore,” She said, helping Hal stand up as she talked.

 

“I'm Hal,” He greeted the blue-haired royal with a smile, holding out his hand. Chrom gasped and grinned back, gripping Hal’s hand tightly as he vigorously shook it. 

 

“I remember now! You’re Snake’s partner! We spoke also on the train ride here, remember?!” He recalled, still shaking his hand. 

 

Hal did remember talking to Chrom on the journey here. Although it mostly consisted of Chrom talking about how great his wife and kids are, Hal didn't mind at how chatty he was. He wasn't bragging anyway; from one father to another, Hal could tell he was spouting out his love for his family to anyone who could hear. If he had a fraction of that energy to speak to strangers, Hal knew he would've done the same. 

 

“Yeah… I remember! You talked about your family throughout the trip!” Hal bluntly stated, immediately regretting saying that. Shit. Shit. That sounded rude. Fuck. I can't make enemies here. Shit. Chrom let go of his hand and rubbed the back of his head with a sheepish smile. 

 

“Oh! I'm sorry! I got carried away… I just… really love my family…” He said, trailing off at the end. Hal was quick to apologize to him. 

 

“No! Don't apologize! From dad to dad, I get it!” Hal frantically tried to tread around his words. Chrom’s eyes brightened up with a smile. 

 

“Ah yes! You have a daughter also! Sunny, am I right? She's a sweetheart! Lucina seems to have a lot of fun with her and the other kids!” Chrom immediately chimed with a smile. Hal silently thanked the fact that he had one thing in common with this royal. 

 

“I hate to break up the dad club, but I still have a session to do,” WFT interrupted, giving Chrom the side-eye. He immediately flushed and apologized and ran off to change properly with WFT rolling her eyes at him. 

 

Hal was only slightly jealous at Chrom’s physique. Sure, he wasn't Snake, but he was still certain that his biceps could still crush him. He poked at his arm. There wasn't much impressive about his own body. It was as if he was just made of bone and someone had wrapped some fondant around it mimicking skin. Although, he was bonier before. 

 

Even on nights alone and when Dave would mumble praises and compliments into his skin, he still found himself doubting if there was something admirable to his body. It was childish of him to still have those insecurities at his age, but the thought still prevailed. 

 

“Hal!” A voice called out as he immediately flinched and brought him out of his spell. He looked up and saw the other two looking at him with concern. “You're distracted,” She simply said. Hal mumbled an apology once more. He took a deep breath and followed the trainer’s movements.

 

There hadn't been many opportunities for Hal to attempt to meditate and do some exercise. He and Dave did try to do so at one point to help with his anxiety and Dave’s episodes.

 

They had already bought used yoga mats from some yard sale and an old VHS recording of a yoga instructor: the kind that wore bright neon track pants, headbands, and wristbands and had painfully 80’s generic music as they showed off the stretches. It was fun for the first time as they made fun of the cheesy instructor and the outfit while attempting to follow along. 

 

Afterward, the thought went to the wayside as Philanthropy grew and it became a more pressing matter. But, Hal did wonder about hunting down for another copy of that VHS for old times sake. 

 

While what he was doing right now is nothing like those videos, (actually it was far more relaxing and soothing than he ever thought) he was still grateful to be able to do this at all. Dave might even enjoy this also. Heck, maybe even Sunny would want to join in! 

 

“You're distracted again, Hal. Focus on your body and all its joints and muscles,” WFT reminded him, Hal, slightly taken back by how she was able to read him. Alright. Time to focus. 

















He can't do this. A fly is buzzing around and it's bothering him. Even worse, he became aware of his breathing and it's more irritating than it should be. He cracks his eye open a bit. WFT is staring at him. Hal nearly fell over at her cold stare. 

 

“Something tells me something is going on…” WFT sighed and sat up. Chrom looked at them both, brows furrowed. She brushed off her shorts before getting up. “Keeping the body in shape is only half of what my program strives for.”  She grabbed several water bottles and handing one to Hal. She sat back down and undid her ponytail before redoing it. “The other half is making sure the mind is healthy.” She clasped her hands and smiled. “Let’s take this time to do so, no?” 

 

----

 

Snake huffed as he stumbled out the arena, barely winning against Ike. He ran a hand through his hair, both of them still heaving as they shook hands. His mind was still rushing with adrenaline and working overtime breathing that he barely registered the small steps scampering behind him. (Only barely, he’s still in tune to his senses to a superhuman degree.)

 

“-ight?” A voice asked. His mind was still hazy and he had to look down to see who it was. It was Sunny. An innocent smile painted across her face as she tugged at one of his straps. Snake’s heart warmed as he smiled back at her and ruffled her hair. 

 

“What did ‘ya say, Sunny bunny?” He playfully asked, walking alongside her. She immediately jumped up and began to bounce. 

 

“That fight you had with Ike was so cool!” She cried out. “All those kicks and punches!” She began to mimic them adding in her sound effects. Dave weakly laughed at her charades. “Can you teach me how to fight?!” She smiled, eyes wide and glowing. Snake stopped on the spot. The sudden gesture not slowing the young girl's energy. Snake's eyes widened and glared at her. His mind became far more wobbly and hazy at what she asked and it wasn’t the adrenaline's fault. 

 

“No.” 

 

“Why not?!” She huffed, resisting the urge to stomp her foot. 

 

“Just because!” He kept his stance. From the day she proved herself to be as competent in coding and science as Hal, he promised himself he would never let her be apart of whatever operations he and Hal took part in. Obviously, that failed, but he still had some hesitations about using her intelligence to stop Ocelot. Both of him and Hal really.  

 

But he could never hold her back. She was smart. Ridiculously smart. She’d probably become a part of something great, like become a part of NASA. She started to show an interest in space technology. 

 

The least he could do was prevent her from living in a world where she feels like she has to be afraid and have to defend herself. Physically. 

 

Of course, deep in his heart, he knows that to be impossible, but the father inside him disagrees. As much as being in the army and FOXHOUND’s training being valuable, as much as Master Miller’s training has become vital to saving the world, he can’t deny the fucking trauma all of that shit has caused him: the way it had rewired his brain to the point it took years for him to be able to relax without flinching at the smallest of sounds, insomnia that plagues him unless Hal was there, the way he can’t hear loud popping noises without his hand twitching to his holster. 

 

He hates it all so much. Of course, he’d never train Sunny in that way. 

 

He doesn’t want to train her, period. He doesn’t want her to feel the need to have to protect herself. He doesn’t want his little girl to be hurt. 

 

But he doesn’t say anything. Would she understand? Does she understand the value of human life? Dave’s not trying to shelter her at all, yet he can’t help but wonder if she’s ready to fully comprehend what he and Hal have gone through.

 

“Please? I want to be just like you!” Sunny cheers, unaware of Dave’s emotions. He felt his heart shattered. He doesn’t want her to be like him. 

 

“No! That’s final!” Sunny huffed again and stomped her foot. She can’t understand why her papa doesn’t want to teach her. It’s not like she’s going to hit someone on purpose. It’s just for fun! She can be responsible!

 

“Why?! Ness and Lucas can fight! You taught dad how to fight too! He told me!” Sunny shouted. 

 

“That’s different! I’m not arguing about this anymore!” Dave snapped, trying to keep his temper down, but his voice still raised a bit. She stomped her foot once more. 

 

“You never let me have any fun!” She cried. Her little hands curling into small fists. 

 

“Fun? Fun! You think fighting is fun?” His voice raising a bit more. 

 

“Then why do you do it?!” Sunny screamed back. Snake rubbed his face and shook his head. 

 

“Go. To your room.” Sunny paused. The low tone that came out of his mouth unnerving both of them. “Now.” He looked from his hands. Her face was all scrunched up with tears poking out her eyes. Her body was shaking before grunting and running off, small sobs following her. Dave sighed and rubbed his face. He fucked up and he knows it. 

 

---

 

Sunny scrubbed her face red as she angrily screwed in a bolt to her experiment. She wiped her hot tears away as she focused intently on her project. All of her friends were busy, but she needed to focus on something. Anything. Anything. Anything. 

 

“‘Sup Sunny!” A voice called out from behind. She jerked up as part of the bolt she was screwing in broke off. She pouted at it and looked up at whoever was greeting her. It was Ness. She smiled at her friend and waved at him before returning to her project. The boy quickly began to pick up her mannerisms and her patterns. He prided himself on being able to understand other people’s little quirks. He has wondered if it was a result of his psychic abilities.

 

What he has learned about Sunny is that she only works on her projects when she’s bored or wants to say something. He quickly sits beside her and watches her work on her little machine. 



“It looks like a dog!” He points out. She perks up and looks down. 

 

“It is.” She smiles a bit before working a bit more. There’s something on her mind and he knows it. 

 

Well, he could literally read it. But that’s crossing territory that he doesn’t want to. 

 

“Where did you learn all this techno stuff?” 

 

“My dad. Hal. He taught me a lot about machines and stuff.” She continues to look at her work and doesn’t make much eye contact. She normally doesn’t and that’s ok. She speaks up on her own. “What about you?” Ness hums at her question. “Your powers? You know, where did you learn them?” She finally looks up and stares wide-eyed at him. 

 

“From a bee. Kinda.” She kept staring at him. “I mean, I always had these powers, but he helped me… awaken them properly, if that makes sense?” Her eyes widened even more. 

 

“Can you teach me?!” Sunny jumped up with a little pep in her step. He blinked at the girl and her smile. Her fists clenched into tiny balls. He’s not sure if he can do so. 

 

“Uhm… I don’t think I can.” Ness rejected. He watched as her expression changed and he quickly got up. “No! I mean! See, uhm, my powers are-uh, connected to my world! Since both of our worlds are different, I might not be able to teach you!” Ness quickly elaborated, trying to reason with her. Sunny’s expression changed. Well, it was kinda reasonable that she wouldn’t be able to have the same powers as him. But she did remember her dads once told her of a mantis who has psychic powers… 

 

She placed her hand on her chin as she processed everything. She sighed and plopped back down and picked up her wrench. 

 

“I mean, it’s not all that special! It’s just some dumb psychic powers!” Ness continued. “I mean, why do you want them anyway?” Sunny squeezed her hands and shook a bit. She also does that a lot. 

 

“I want to join you guys sometimes." She honestly said. "I get lonely and I want to try," 

 

"Try what?" Ness' voice lowered to a whisper. 

 

"To fight." She rocked a bit back and forth. "Papa used to talk about the thrill of battle or something like that. But when I asked if he could teach me, he got mad and said it's not fun! Then why does he do it?!" Her voice rising an octave as she fidgeted, unsure of how to deal with new pent up emotions. Ness' mouth made o-shape as he nodded along with her rant. 

 

He understood where both of them came from. It wasn't the first time Snake had protested against kids fighting. 

 

--

 

He remembers clear as day the first day at the brawl. It was during orientation after they all settled into their rooms. He was happy to finally have some more kids he can hang out with despite Lucas' initial timid nature. 

 

He had started to blabber to Lucas, Toon Link and the ice twins about something that he can't remember anymore. They all made their way to the auditorium where Mario and the two floating hands greeted them. Ness smiled at the thought of Lucas' flinching just seeing a pair of disembodied hands on stage. 

 

He remembers laughing loudly at it because when he did, Snake looked at him and the rest of the group. Ness remembered making eye contact with the brooding man. He thought nothing more of the man other than his gruffness and the fact he'd probably just be another fighter known for not being approachable. 

 

Even then, Ness smiled and waved at him and went to his spot. Though Snake didn't let go of his gaze as he watched the group of children walk down. Ness did turn back and saw his two fingers pressed near his ear and proceed to talk. 

 

He shrugged it off and listened to the orientation speech that he's heard for the third time. But he still listened intently. It was just the standard 'everyone here is a worthy fighter who've achieved something great for better or for worse' and 'it's a tournament' and so on and so forth. As it ended and waves of people began to leave, on the corner of Ness' eye, he caught 1 person breaking against the current and move towards the stage. 

 

He and his new group waited for most of the place to leave so they didn't have to deal with the pushing match. 

 

His attention to the conversation faded as he watched the same man he waved hi to earlier, walked onto the stage, his steps quick and loud. The stoic face he saw before changed oh so subtly. 

 

Ness watched as he proceeded to argue and yell at Mario and the hands, arms waving around and poking Mario in the chest. Ness silenced out the conversation happening hear him and zeroed into what the argument was about. A childlike curiosity peaked in him. 

 

"-children here?!" Snake shouted. 

 

"Listen, they're no ordinary children. They’ve all got powers beyond mere mortal understanding. They can hold their own!” 

 

“Do they look like children?”

 

“Yes-”

 

“Do they act like children?” 

 

“Yes-”

 

“So they are children?” 

 

“Yeah- I mean-” 

 

“So they are children! Why are they fighting?! They shouldn’t be here fighting!” Snake yelled loudly. That was the first and only time he can remember Snake raising his voice to someone. Ness felt a tug against his sleeve as Popo nodded his way towards the door. He reluctantly walked away, still wanting to see what was going on. At that moment, he met Snake’s eyes once more. There was a somberness in them and deep sorrow he couldn’t describe at the time in his little 12-year-old mind. 

 

And for a second, Snake stopped yelling and looked at him. 

 

--

 

So, he can see where Snake’s coming from. But, he’s more than empathic to Sunny also. 

 

“He just wants you to stay safe, Sunny.”



“But it’s not like I’m going out and fighting on my own!”

 

“Parents are weird like that…” Ness muttered, still watching the girl. She’s biting her nails now. 

 

“Why do you fight?” She finally asked. 

 

There’s a groan that comes out from behind them both that startles the two of them. They quickly turned around to see a large mass of blankets on the bed. Ness sighed and got up to sit on the bed. Sunny hadn’t even noticed whoever was still asleep at this time. She did the same and watched the tension from Ness’ face slip away and come back as he pulled away from the covers. 

 

Lucas laid there, eyes shut but brows furrowed with a towel on his forehead. Ness quickly pulled the towel away before concentrating on it. Sunny watched with amazement as the cloth became colder. Ness placed it on his head while brushing away the stray locks of hair that were stuck to his forehead with sweat. 

 

“Is… he ok?” She asked, timidly. She had never seen the boy look that ill. 

 

“He’s… fine? It happens a bit. Sometimes he gets really bad fevers but he’s typically better by tomorrow.” Ness watched the boy’s breathing even out. 

 

“When I first got the invitation to come, I came since I just wanted some adventure once again… I kept coming back since it meant meeting all of these new people from places I’ve never heard of.”

 

“For some people, meeting other people who are also the greatest of the great can be demoralizing. Like everyone here is a hero… or at least grand villain of some kind. And if everyone is a hero… then who is? But I never cared about that, I just liked other people, you know?” Ness rambled. 

 

“But not everyone is here for fun… Uhm… Lucas, well, he had a hard life. His parents, his brother, his home… all of it gone or unrecognizable. That’s why he fought in his world. Very different to me who did it because a bee told me too.” Ness weakly laughed. 

 

“I feel bad because he’s still here. Still fighting. It’s how he copes with all that…” Ness squished his hands together, trying to demonstrate something with them. “Pain he has in him. Sometimes that pain turns into his bad fevers. I wish he didn’t have to, though. But he’s his own person and I can’t stop him.” 

 

Sunny felt the air shift a bit. Not in the, she can tell he’s sad, kind of way, but in the, she can literally feel his sadness, as in, she can almost grab it. She doesn’t want him to be sad because then she’s feeling sad and soon everyone will be sad. 

 

“I’m sorry…” She’s not sure who she’s saying it to, but she feels like she has to. Ness just gave her a sympathetic smile. She watched Lucas sleep, wishing there was something she could do. There they were, laying on Lucas’ bed, waiting for something. Her invention laid forgotten on the floor as their attention turned to them. No amount of psychic powers or intelligence could deny the fact they were just three kids, in the end, helpless to the future. 

 

That thought scared Sunny a bit.

 

A small beep came from Ness’ pocket. He pulled out his phone and looked at it and put it back in his pocket. He jumped off the bed and went to grab his bat and yoyo. 

 

“Sorry! I have a match now! But before I come back, I’m going to get some ice cream! You want some?” The boy called out as he adjusted his hat. 

 

“Cookies and cream?” Ness gave her a thumbs up and a wink before running off. 

 

Sunny continued to watch Lucas. It’s the least she could do.

 

----

 

WFT clasped her hands and began to talk only for the door to quickly open. 

 

“I’m so sorry, October!” Robin apologized, her voice frazzled with her hands clutching her tome and sword. “But I need Chrom right now! There have been some bandits found at the border of Ylisse! A ton of them, Fredrick needs us to talk over strategy and give them ok to go ahead and attack.” Robin quickly explained as Chrom’s face changed to one more serious and he packed his stuff and headed out, following his wife. 

 

Which left both him and WFT sitting there, alone. He’s not sure if he’s ready to carry out a conversation on his own, but he has to die or else he’s gonna make a break for it. 

 

“It happens quite a lot, don’t be alarmed.” She reassured him. 

 

“Must be annoying, huh?” 

 

“Eh, you get used to it. He is a king after all. Such things are expected from him, so I can’t fault him. His priorities lie with his people, after all.” WFT shrugged it off. 

 

“It doesn’t bother you?” 

 

“No, I have my duties here too.” She said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. She stretched her back a bit before asking, “What about you? You have any duty you must partake?” There was a glint in her eye as she asked that question. In her years of helping people deal with stress, she’s learned quickly what bites at people skin and their worries at a glance. Of course, how can she help someone if she doesn't know how to help them.  

 

“Uhm…” Hal felt himself start to sweat. “None, really. I’m just here… Living…” WFT hummed while continuing with her stretching. 

 

“Well, that’s a purpose enough isn’t it?” Hal blinked, confused as to what she meant. 

 

“Don’t you have to have a purpose to live?” Hal just asked again. 

 

“Isn’t living just to experience happiness worth it? That’s why you’re here aren’t you?” WFT continued to stretch. Hal’s mind tried to wrap his head around what she said. 

 

“I mean, I'm not depressed! I just mean, being here with people who come from kingdoms and knighthoods and of such… status, it makes me wonder if I deserve to be here? I have nothing to give back to, I’m dead weight.” Hal admitted. There are days he can’t eat because of how guilty he feels for eating their food despite not contributing anything. He shouldn’t be here, he was brought in by Snake. 

 

“So are you saying that I don’t deserve to be here? I am just a yoga instructor and not a queen or wizard of some kind.” Hal immediately flustered and began sprouting apologies. She didn’t take any offense to what he said. Frankly, she’s just trying to get him to see that too. 

 

“No! You were invited here! I wasn’t! I have no business being here!” Hal admitted with a shout. He sighed and slinked to the floor. “I can’t give anything back here…” 

 

“You don’t have to, Hal. You don’t have to feel obligated to do anything. Just be happy.” Her voice lowered to a softer tone. She edged closer to him and placed a hand on his shoulder, lightly gripping it. “You have no obligation to give anything. The only thing you should do… is be happy.” She smiled. 

 

“Be happy with your fiance, be happy with your child, with your friends! Just… live, Hal. That’s all you have to do. And that’s a good enough purpose and reason to be here.” Hal looked down at the matted floor beneath them. He swears he’s heard this similar type of speech somewhere. But this time, it doesn’t hurt as much to feel it. His shoulder lowered. With a wider grin, she patted it before letting it go. 

 

“I know that me just saying that won’t absolve your mind of all guilt, but just keep that in mind.” She gave a sympathetic glance before returning to her stretches. “Now, shall we continue my class?” 

 

Hal immediately nodded and got to his feet, quick to follow her instructions. It was easier to pay attention even with the buzzing fly in the room.

 

“Also, October? What was that about?” 



“That’s my real name. You didn’t actually think Wii Fit Trainer was my real name?” Hal turned red and shook his head. 

 

“N-No!” 

 

-----

 

Snake laid in bed, tossing the grenade into the air and catching it like a ball. (It wasn’t going to explode outside of the simulated fights; he’s responsible.) It quickly becomes instinct as his mind wanders to earlier with Sunny. There’s still a sharp pain in his chest. He never really raised his voice at her. They tried to not do so. But even then, he still felt guilty for talking to her in that manner. She’s just a child. But yet, she did bring up a good point. 

 

Why was he fighting? But just before he could ponder about what happened, the door slammed open. Hard. The force of the swing causing the doorknob to break the wall. Again. Just as he was about to scold whoever it was that was there, Sonic quickly slammed the door shut again and kept his gaze at Snake. 

 

“Oh hey, buddy! Good ol’ pal! How’s it hanging’? Any new developments on the wedding-?”

 

“What are you doing?” Snake quickly cut through his bullshit small talk. By the clammy hands and how his ears were pressed against his skull, he’s suspecting he’s on the run from something. “What shitty prank did you pull on Ganon this time?” 

 

Sonic laughed as he leaned against the door. 

 

“Say that any louder and I’m going to die.” Sonic looked both ways before whispering, “He still doesn’t know who replaced his sword with one made out of packing peanuts…” Snake grunted before turning back to his grenade and tossing it again. He kept an eye out at the kid, occasionally seeing him peek out the door and closing it again before quickly tapping his foot and chewing at the wrist of his glove. 

 

“You’re not hiding from Ganon. What’s wrong?” Snake interrupted, clearly realizing he’s nervous about something. He gave the ‘kid the room to talk instead of playing footsies with the issue. 

 

“I-uhm…” Sonic wrung his hands together, always keeping a part of his body in motion. “I uh… remember the whole thing? With, y’know, Pit?” Snake nodded, however that was a long time ago. Before Otacon was even here. Did Pit say something to him again about that?

 

“Listen, kid, remember what we said last time. There’s only so much of the past you can change-” 

 

“Aight cut the sermon, I know about that.” Snake flinched at Sonic’s rude interruption. “Sorry, I’m just…” The hedgehog continued to twitch around. “I have a doubles match with Pit today! In like…” He looked at his wrist, even though he didn’t have a watch. “A couple of minutes!” Snake stopped tossing the grenade and sat up to glare at the hedgehog. “I still… never really talked to him… about that…” 

 

“So you’re just gonna… run away?” Snake asked, more said really. Sonic rolled his eyes and pointed at his shoes.

 

“That’s kinda what I do…” Sonic sheepishly smiled.  “Just… let me hide here until the match is done!” Sonic pleaded.

 

“Your tier will drop if you keep avoiding the kid you know?” 

 

“I don’t care!” The kid shouted. He crossed his arms and sat in the corner and began to pout. Snake couldn’t help but roll his eyes. Sure, the kid had no understanding of how to deal with people emotionally, but neither did he. He doesn’t have any other advice other than “just fucking talk to Pit”. But he’s sure as hell that Sonic isn’t about to do that, whether it’s his pride or just fear that’s holding him back, he’s not gonna do it. Snake sucked his teeth and got up and walked out the door. 

 

“Hey! Where are you going?!” Sonic shouted after him. Snake just kept walking before turning around and locking the kid inside. 

 

Snake stomped down the halls, scanning each recreational area for who he was looking for. There was a small smidge of hope that he’d find Otacon and wipe his mind away from all his worries. No, that’s terrible. He still needs to talk to Sunny. Either way, he’s passed by the mess hall, the theater, and garden, and nearly tripped past the rascals carrying tubs of ice cream and other sweets. He’s not even gonna stop them, but he still needs to press on. 

 

He’s growing exhausted at this point until he stops a familiar pair of wings fluttering ahead, trying to figure out how the vending machine worked. 

 

“I wish I could understand what it’s saying…” Pit muttered to himself. 

 

“It’s all bags of chips.” Snake grunted right behind him. The kid’s wings nearly pushed the man backward as Pit flinched. 

 

“Oh hey, thanks- What are you doing?!” Pit yelled as he proceeded to be carried underneath Snake’s arm like a doll. “Ack! Handle with care!” The teen screamed as he flailed under Snake. In response, he spat out a grunt before speeding up. No one paid much attention to his cries for help. Honestly, at this point, a fire could occur and burn half the building down and not one single person would bat an eye. 

 

Snake pushed open their door and tossed the angel inside and watched as he tumbled and rolled into the drawer. Sonic perked up and immediately paled. He turned to Snake and attempted to dash before being pushed back and having the door shut once more. 

 

“H-Hey Snake! Let me out!” Sonic screamed and pleaded as he slammed his fists repeatedly against the door. 

 

“Talk.” Snake grunted before taking off. 

 

--

 

“Snake! Come on, man!” Sonic screamed as he continued to hit the door. He tried pulling at the doorknob but it wouldn't budge. “Snake.” He slammed his head against the door. “Let.” Slam. “Me.” Slam. “Out.” Sonic groaned, sliding against the door. 

 

Pit croaked out something before sitting upright, facing the hedgehog. 

 

“Hey… mind telling me what Snake wants?” Pit asked, holding his head. Sonic wouldn’t meet his glance as he rubbed his bruise. “You ok, man?” The angle continued to ask. Sonic just quickly fidgeted with his foot and wrung his hands together. 

 

“Yeah… I’m good!” He smiled a bit too forcefully. They both sat in awkward silence for a while before Pit got up and tried to pull up the window. “It’s not gonna open…” He muttered while Pit strained a bit trying to get it open. Pit perked up and turned around. “Uh…” Sonic’s ears pressed against his head and he shrugged. “I may or may not have super glued the windows shut…” Pit just kept looking at him for an explanation. “Ganon was climbing up the wall so I kinda… had to?” Sonic kept shrugging. He felt a bead of sweat roll down as Pit kept looking at him. His flat expression slowly shifted to one of joy as the smile grew and grew. 

 

“That’s awesome!” Pit laughed as he doubled over, laughing at the thought of Sonic and Ganon scaling the building. The corners of Sonic’s lips twitched a bit at his laughter. He tried to keep his expression as neutral as possible, only to fail after a loud snort from Pit. 

 

He snapped as he joined in the angel’s laughter. He felt backward and grabbed his stomach tightly as they both just lost it. High pitch screaming just filling the room. It wasn’t even that funny, but it was like something broke in both of them that Pit’s snort just murdered them both. 

 

Sonic rolled around the floor. His forehead pressed against the floor with his fist slamming it hard. Whoever must be on the floor below must be annoyed with them. 

 

He’s not sure how or why, but tears roll down his face and it’s like something breaks in his chest as the tears continue to rush out. His laughter morphed into heaves and chokes. Pit stopped when he heard the dry heaves and crawled to Sonic, grabbing him by the shoulders. 

 

“Hey, are you okay?” The angel asked, taken aback by the sudden change in mood. He’s not sure why, but it only makes the tears come out harder and faster. 

 

“I-I don’t know… it’s stupid! It’s all stupid!” Sonic blabbered, desperately trying to rub his eyes as if that would do anything to hide what he’s feeling. Pit quickly began to pat his back muttering reassurances, unsure of what was going on. Eventually, he calmed down and so there they sat. Facing each other, their chins resting on their knees. A little hiccup escaped Sonic as Pit giggled a bit. The other teen smiled a bit before turning away. They stay in stunned silence, trapped in the room. 

 

“Can’t you… teleport?” Sonic muttered. 

 

“I only can if Lady Palutena gives me that power…” Pit sighed. There was another pause before Sonic let out a small breath of air. 

 

“Is she like, your babysitter or something?” He joked. Pit smiled.

 

“If you put it like that…” He softly laughed. “I don’t know, really. Is Snake your babysitter?” Pit joked, lightly pushing his foot against Sonic’s. He smiled and finally stretched his legs out a bit. 

 

“Yeah, he’s probably sick of me by now!” Sonic self-deprecated. 

 

“Nah, he doesn’t seem like that.” Pit said. 

 

“What makes you say that?”

 

“I mean, Lady Palutena said so, but he seems like a good person.” Pit shrugged as if it was a no-brainer. 

 

“Huh…” Sonic muttered. He watched as the angel popped up and looked through the keyhole. 

 

“No one’s roaming around here…” Pit pulled back and looked down at the hedgehog. 

 

“I’d spin dash through the door, but Peach said if I broke another door, she’d pay for it with my allowance.” Sonic got up and stretched a bit. 

 

“You get an allowance?!” Pit screamed. “Lady Palutena won’t even give me or Pittoo money for the vending machine! She said not until I learned how to read…” Sonic laughed at that. 

 

“Yeah, not sure why she just started giving me a bit each week when I first joined.” Both laughed as they paced the room. It only took him a couple of steps before he stopped when Pit spoke up. 

 

“Hey, I’m… sorry.”

 

“Bout what?”

 

“Don’t play dumb. I didn’t know that I hurt you. I thought you’d say something back like, ‘aw man, Pit’s so stupid! He can’t even read!’ or something.” 

 

“Oh.” 

 

“I mean, I am. But- you know, you’re a really dependable person! And really strong! Tabuu was the one who never really put up a fight!” Pit grinned at Sonic. 

 

“She never said anything about breaking the window…” Pit laughed and punched the air in celebration as he stood back and watched Sonic stand near the door and curl up into a ball, getting ready to rile up. 

 

Then the door slammed open wide and launched Sonic into a splat against the window. 

 

“Snake? Are you here?” Peach called out and saw the hedgehog plastered against the window and fall without any grace as Pit laughed at him. “What are you two doing here? You were supposed to have a match half an hour ago! It’s already been marked as a forfeit!” Peach scolded the two of them as they just looked at each other and only howled. She simply looked at them and took a step back. “Anyway, have you seen him?” 

 

“I don’t know where the old man went.” Sonic shrugged.

 

“He just threw me in here and locked the door and ran off.” Pit laughed. Peach shook her head. 

 

“Well, if you see him, then tell him he’s late for his lessons!” Peach huffed before shutting the door and scampering off. Pit and Sonic stared at each other before nodding and spin dashing out the window with Pit following suit. 

 

“Wait! I don’t have the power of flight!” Pit screamed as they both just fell through the air, not caring about the repercussions, about anything at the moment, as adrenaline pierced them both. It wasn’t the first dumb thing they’ve done nor would it be the last. Sonic didn’t have time to think about that though as they fell face-first into a flower garden, all covered in mud. 

 

The two teens laughing at each other about how dirty they were. Pit splayed out his wings, spraying even more mud on him. With grins, they both got up and grabbed handfuls of dirt before chasing each other, ignoring the screams from the princess.

 

----

 

Snake heaved as he skidded to a halt in front of his kids’ room. He placed a hand on the doorknob and leaned in, pressing his ear against the door. Quiet, muffled sniffles were heard and he could tell who it was. He sighed and knocked gently on the door. The sniffling continued and he decided to come in. With a light push, he made his way in.

 

Sunny sat on a bed, watching someone in it, crying. Everything in his body flared up and he wanted to reach for her daughter.

 

“Sunny…” Snake made his presence known. His daughter turned around, eyes red, not breaking eye contact. He slowly walked to the bed and sat next to her. He noticed the dip in the mattress and saw Lucas, all red and sweating and still asleep. His heart ached as he wished to comfort both children. Both of them looked at each other before Sunny’s face scrunched up even more and jumped into his arms. She’s bawling into his shoulder as her small hands grip his clothes, threatening to rip it. He accepts her fully and squeezes her just as tightly back. 

 

He’s not sure why she’s crying, but it didn’t matter because she needed him. 

 

“I-I’m sorry!” She cried loudly. He does his best and shushes her, patting her back and running his hands through her hair. He whispered reassurances into her hair, waiting for her to let it all out. 

 

“Shhh… let it out…” It took her a while for her to run dry on tears as they turned into heaves and shivers. “You wanna talk?” He asked. She nodded her head. She pulled away and let out a shaky sigh. Snake pulled a handkerchief from one of his pockets and handed it to her. He waited for her to fully calm down. “You ready?” He muttered, waiting for a response. She nodded once again and sighed as she held the handkerchief.

 

"Papa, I'm sorry…" 

 

"Me too, Sunny." He muttered. She looked up in disbelief. He pulled her into his lap as he stroked her hair. "I'm sorry for getting mad. I know ..." 

 

He let out a shuddering sigh. "I know I shouldn't have gotten mad at you. You just wanted to do something fun and I lost my temper…" He blinked repeatedly as he tried to formulate his words. 

 

"I should've told you why I was upset. Well, I'll tell you. I was afraid." Sunny giggled a bit. 

 

"You? Afraid?" She knows how tough her papa is. Even in his times of weakness, when he was really sick, he still managed to conquer it. 

 

"Yes, and that's ok. I was afraid of you learning how to fight, because… I thought it meant that I failed… as a dad." Dave admits. He nearly laughs at himself as he thinks about how low the bar was to be a good dad according to him. 

 

"But… you didn't fail me. You're an amazing papa!" She cried out in disbelief. He's the coolest, most toughest, most bravest person she knows. How could he feel bad? The smile on Dave's face tightened as he's rubbing his eyes now. 

 

"Thank you… but what I meant by that is that… it's my job to protect you. And if you have to learn to fight to protect yourself, then I thought it meant that I failed to make sure you were safe. But life's more complicated than that." Dave concluded by hugging his daughter tightly. 

 

Sunny wasn't sure what to say or if there even was anything to say. She just squeezes him tightly and hopes she can get her love through it. She wants to apologize, but by the look on her dad’s face, it seems like their talk was more than enough. 

 

"I'll make it up to you. I'll take you to a karate class when we get back home." He smiled and Sunny beamed. She immediately nodded and gave her dad a fistbump with a smile. There was a groan from below them. They both turned to the kid, tossing and turning. Lucas’ eyes opened but there was no focus on them. The boy reached out a weak hand as it shook in the air. Dave quickly took control and gently held it; his other hand removing the towel and handing it to Sunny. 

 

“D-Dad…” The boy weakly muttered. Dave shushed him, still holding his hand and brushing his hair back. 

 

“Shhh… I’m here kid.” He rumbled. Sunny just held the towel dumbly, her heart yearning to do more. “Go back to sleep… get some rest…” He turned his head to Sunny and motioned her head to the bathroom. Sunny nodded and ran off. An unintelligible grumble came from the boy as he drifted back to sleep. Dave pressed the back of his hand against Lucas’ forehead. Holy shit it was hot. The door clicked open and Ness and a couple other kids’ came in with tubs of ice cream. 

 

“Is he still not awake?” Ness asked and Dave shook his head. He lightly pushed Dave out of the way. Dave moved slightly to the side, still not letting go of Lucas’s hand. Sunny came in with the towel dripping onto the floor. She handed it to Ness who placed it on Lucas’ forehead. She watched over her dad’s shoulder as Ness pressed his forehead against Lucas’ own, muttering something. She couldn’t read lips, but she knew her dad could. She looked to her dad for an explanation, but he kept his sight locked onto the kids in front of him. 

 

A light blue glow enveloped the sick boy and the flush on his face slowly began to fade to light pink. Ness pulled away with a gasp; his chest heaving up and down. 

 

Lucas grunted a bit and nodded his head. He opened his eyes once more with some focus on them. He pushed his body up and everyone all around him quickly told him not to move. He quickly began to regain consciousness and obeyed them. His eyes flickered to everyone in the room and their worried faces. 

 

“Wha-What happened?” Lucas mumbled. 

 

“We were getting worried for you…” Ness confessed.

 

“We brought ice cream!” Toon Link shouted holding up a tub with the Ice Climbers holding up spoons. Sunny immediately went straight to hug him as Lucas weakly patted her back, still smiling. As spoons were being passed around, Dave tugged at Ness and whispered, “Why didn’t you do that before?” 

 

“It’s not healthy to use PSI on every ailment, but… I felt like something was off, so just in case!” Ness raised his hands defensively. Dave smiled and rubbed the boy's head. Just before he could slip out, Lucas called out to him. 

 

“You don’t want ice cream, Snake?” Lucas asked with a smile, raising a spoon. Snake shook his head. 

 

“Sorry kid, I gotta keep my appetite in check for later.” Snake smiled. 

 

“Well, I can’t promise there will be some when we are through with it.” Lucas joked before turning back to his friends. With a soft smile, he went out of the door. He’s grown so much.    

 

Right at that moment, he was slammed by a large force, toppling him to the ground. 

 

“Ugh, there you are! I’ve been looking for you!” A voice shrieked. Snake looked up and saw Peach with her hands at her hips before pulling him up. She was covered in head to toe in dirt. 

 

“Princess, are you ok?” 

 

“I’ve been better. Had to chase a hedgehog and an angel off my marigolds…” She sighed as she tried to wipe off more of the dirt off her dress only for it to be futile. “Where were you? I had to send Samus and Bayonetta to look for Hal too. Thought it’d be easier since normally  you two are stuck together at the hip.” She paused and gasped. “Is everything ok?! You two are fine?!” 

 

“Yeah, never better? We just went to do different things, don’t worry!” Snake reassured the princess. She still sighed and dragged him off.

 

---

 

It wasn’t long for both of them to become exhausted from Peach’s daily practice. Even more so after Bayo and Samus offered an alternative wedding dance. 

 

“No, no, no, no…” Bayo shook her head as she sucked her teeth. Samus took a seat on top of a spare crate lying around, giving Peach a little wink. The princess wasn’t sure whether to pay attention to her wink or her and Bayo’s sudden interruption. Both men just stared at the umbra witch, little too tired for her antics. 

 

“Listen, darlings, it’s a lovely slow song to dance to. I applaud you two for using ‘fly me to the moon’; though it’s not the original…” Bayo pondered, looking at Hal who sheepishly grinned as Dave rolled his eyes. They both agreed that they would dance to ‘fly me to the moon’, but Hal was the one who decided which version. It doesn’t take much to guess which one. 

 

“It’s lovely, it’s all lovely.” She waved her hands as gave the Princess a little twirl before pausing the music. “But I think… we could go for something a little more…” She snapped her fingers as the ground beneath all of them began to shake as gangly creatures began to crawl out of it. She clapped her hands as they began to play jazzy music. “Climatic!”

 

She snapped her fingers to the pair and started walking around them. 

 

“One, two, three, and twirl! That’s great, boys!” Thus started another round of dance practice that left them both just even more tired and exhausted. 

 

Hal leaned against Dave as they both just dragged themselves down the hall. 

 

“Still wanna get that ice cream?” Dave asked, slinking his arm over Hal. 

 

“I’ll see if Sunny wants to come to,” Hal says. Dave shook his head and laughed as they walked past their room. He pushed the door open to check on her and the other kids. 

 

Tubs of ice cream and spoons littered the floor as all the children were knocked out in various places. Their girl wrapped up in a blanket like an omelet on the floor with her friends plopped near her. They took the time to pick up all the kids one by one and placed them in their respective beds as they also cleaned up their mess. Hal left a note just saying to deep clean the carpet of ice cream before kissing their girl goodnight and closing the door. 

 

“Guess there’s no more ice cream, huh?” 

 

“I wouldn’t say that. I still have a bit in the fridge.” He gave a little wink and nudge as Hal covered his mouth and laughed. “It’s not going to be as romantic as a whole double scoop with fudge and sprinkles, but it will do.” Dave wrapped his arm around his waist and pulled him close. 

 

“Eating straight out of the carton sounds like my type of date.” Hal winked and kissed his cheek. He really loved this man so much. As they walked down the halls to their dorm, laughing at whatever stupid thing Hal joked about, they passed by Robin and Chrom doing the same. 

 

Hal and Chrom made eye contact and perked up a bit. 

 

“By the gods! I’m so sorry to have to had run out of the session like that!” Chrom immediately went straight to apologizing with Hal sending his wave too. Both of them quickly making a promise to meet back at the studio tomorrow and get something to eat afterward. There was a twinkle in Dave’s eye as he watched Hal and Chrom discuss plans. They both waved goodbye and continued to walk in their ways. 

 

Once they were out of sight, he dipped Hal into a kiss. 

 

“David! We haven’t even had our dessert yet?!” Hal faked gasped in astonishment at his fiance’s sudden boldness. 

 

“Sorry darlin’, just wanted a taste of it after being away from you.” Dave flirted, pulling him back up and snuggling into the crook of his neck. 

 

“God, you’re ridiculous.” 

 

“But you love it, don’t you Hal?” Dave planted another kiss to his cheek before they finally registered the flashes of light blinding him. They both broke apart and saw three cameras pointed in their direction. 

 

“We needed some pictures of a pre-wedding slideshow!” Peach laughed, waving them off. 

 

“Darlin’, you two are adorable,” Bayonetta smirked, waving her phone. 

 

“Peach and Bayo promised cake if I helped them,” Samus explained. 

 

“You’re such a traitor.” Snake jokingly teased her. 

 

“What can I say? I’m a bounty hunter! I work for hire!” Samus laughed as Snake ran through the trio, pulling Hal along with. Hal’s face was beet red, his hand doing little to hide it. It didn’t take long for the embarrassment to wash off and be replaced with laughter as they pushed the door open into their room. 

 

They heaved and doubled over, nearly tripping at how hard they were laughing. Ryu and Sonic looked at each other confused. 

 

“Hitori de sorera o nokoshite, karera ga shiawase ni narou.” (Leave them alone, let them be happy.) Cloud scolded them before returning to his book. Though that still didn't stop Cloud from side-eyeing them as they devoured the last ice cream carton together, still laughing. He quickly joined Sonic and Ryu in their observation. Cloud made a mental note to buy more ice cream.