Actions

Work Header

An Angel without a Halo

Chapter Text

“Welcome, Pit. Welcome to our guild”, Robin indicated the building’s façade with her hand, a blissful smile on her face.

“Your guild? Wait… It’s… Is it really the famous Smash Brothers?”

“It is!” Robin chuckled to herself. “What’s up with your face? Never seen a guild before? Are you even a wizard?”

“What?! Of course I am! Who d’you take me for!”

She scratched her chin with a sly smile plastered on her face, waving her two white pigtails around.

“I don’t know. You’ve needed my help to get rid of that monster chasing you off. You got lucky I was on mission nearby and heard your cry.”

“Forget it. I’m just here to repay you that with a drink. I don’t have much on me… Please just accept it.”

“I’d rather you pay for my lunch. I didn’t want to at first, but Peach’s doing the food today, and I’m sure she’s got us her marvelous Luxurious Set.”

“Peach… You mean… That Peach?”

“Well, yeah. She’s the best cook we have out there and she’s on duty half of the week. The other half… well… it’s… actually… Oh, who cares? We’re here to eat!”

Pit followed her inside with amazed eyes. His heart was beating like crazy, and his mind couldn’t process everything he saw inside the building of the guild.

Smash Brothers, the legendary guild. The guild which seeks to protect the world and everyone living in it. It was such a renowned place, with renowned wizards only! Peach was one of them. She was a famous wizard. Her abilities earned her a good ranking in the official wizard list of the country. She was in the top thirty at least, which was a really good rank, actually.

The inside of the guild was entirely made out of wood. It was a warm and cozy hall, with many tables welcoming many more members of the guild. He couldn’t recognize all of them, but saw the guild’s emblem on their arm, leg, or chest sometimes. A circle crossed by two lines, one horizontal and the other vertical.

“The Master says it represents the passage of fate.” Robin cut in, impromptu, noticing his wandering gaze.

“The… passage of fate?”

“You’ll perhaps get it someday, I won’t reveal everything to you now. You’re not even a member. Come, Peach’s this way.”

Robin led him to the center of the room, in the back, where a bar stood proudly with its dozens and dozens of drinks stacked on sumptuously carved shelves. A woman was standing behind the bar, serving food to a boy. She was smiling fondly and brushed some of her hair off her face elegantly. She wore a light pink teeshirt along with a darkish skirt. Big blue earrings jiggled near her jaw. Pit could see she had some fancy lipstick applied to her lips, something pinkish to match her shirt.

“Robin! You came back from your mission!” The woman cheerfully exclaimed. “Was everything alright?”

“Yeah, really, just some old man kept busy by a class two monster. It was attacking his fields, so his village was really in need of help.”

“I’m glad you fixed things, then! You want to eat something perhaps?”

“Yes. I’ve even brought back someone to pay for me.”

“I always knew you were greedy, but to bring a child to pay for your meal…!”

“Hey, I may look young, but actually, I… well, I’m an adult!”

Peach didn’t answer directly and preferred to laugh a bit, and then to present herself.

“I’m sorry I forgot my manners. My name is Peach Toadstool. May I know what brings you here and how I could help you?”

“Well, ‘s just what she said. I’m paying her dinner.”

“Wait, but… Robin… This is a date? Why haven’t you told me you had a date!”

Peach began to scream around that sentence over and over again. “Robin is on a date!” joyfully showing Pit around like some sort of prize.

Some people remained indifferent, but others began to gain interest in him, and all the looks he earned scared him a bit.

“You, on a date?” A blond-haired man came in to say. “You don’t have to compete with your brother, it’s not because he finally found the love of his life that you should welcome the first random guy to accept you.”

Robin turned around to face the man and… punched him in the face. He fell backwards, the back of his head meeting the deliciously carpeted ground. He rubbed his face and tried to get back up, only for someone else to force him onto the ground again.

“I think I told you to stop comparing me to my sister, Shulk.”

“Aw, love, please, don’t torture me this way!”

In the end, the man standing over the one named Shulk released him and helped him up, kissing his cheek “better”, or so he said.

So this was the legendary Smash Bros guild.

“Hello, there. I’m Robin”, Shulk’s friend interjected.

“Err… Robin?” Pit answered curiously. “You’re both… named… Robin? And she’s your sister?”

Nobody answered his wonderings, and he remained there, clueless.

“Oh, Robby!” the male Robin cried out. “Chrom is waiting for you at home. Said he had problems with… your daughter.”

“How surprising. He’ll wait for me to have lunch. Peach, please, two Luxurious Sets. It’s on me, Pit.”

“So you’re name’s Pit!” Shulk intervened. Well, of course it was, it’s just the constant blabbering didn’t allow him to present himself. “What are you doing here?”

Now, he didn’t know. First, it was just repaying Robin, but because she had decided to buy in the end… he was basically useless here. The three began to talk about some novelties from the surrounding town, ignoring Pit royally. He didn’t mind, he suddenly found interest in observing carefully the attendees of this great reception.

Except it wasn’t a reception and it was just people hanging around, talking to one another and generally having fun. He wondered how this guild could be considered the most powerful of the country. They seemed so… normal. They were laughing about a stupid joke Pit had first heard when he was ten, and he hadn’t even found it funny then.

“For you”, Peach sweetly said from behind the counter. “Two Luxurious Sets.”

Pit didn’t accept it first, waiting for Robin to chew on the food first. He noticed her brother was still behind them and forced himself not to stare, but the man put a hand on his shoulder to pique his attention.

“Hey, you… You’re the one everybody’s looking for.”

“W-Wha…?” Pit exclaimed, taken aback. His mother had already asked for help? Of course she’d go for the strongest guild of the country, she was this determined to get him back… “What are you talking about?”

“This”, the man answered as he shoved a piece of paper to Pit’s face, his face unexpectedly serious. It was a drawing of him with a reward attached to it. Boy sought, seventeen, reward is 70000 golds, wanted alive. “You’re the lost boy. Was home so bad for you to leave?”

The drawing of him was quite true to reality. Roundish face and brown hair going in all directions. Blue eyes and light features, that of an adult-to-be, still. He looked so innocent on that illustration. Clearly, his mother had described him younger than the truth. He had always known she was trapped in her memories of him, and not the actual him.

“Sorry? How can you…”

“We received it this morning. You’ve been gone since last week.”

Pit looked away and began to think of ways to escape this place, even thinking of resorting to magic, but Robin, the male one, put a hand on his shoulder with a fatherly gaze.

“Why did you leave?”

Pit didn’t want to answer. Obviously, he had not come here to be told he’s acted egoistically. Yes, he had left his home. He had left his mother’s side. That’s how everyone will remember him, from now on. Tragically enough. People couldn’t know the whole truth about his dire situation. He had been forced to leave by circumstances.

His mother was not an unkind woman. She did her mother job as it was expected of her. He had shelter and food, though, he couldn’t say he was loved. His mother is part of the Great Council, she is in charge of most of the guilds of the country, and had refused Pit partake in these affairs. He was forbidden to even use magic in her presence, although she had first taught it to him.

And when he disobeyed her, when he explained to her he’d become a wizard, something… changed. It looked like a curse had been triggered. Her appearance changed drastically then: her long greenish flow of hair (she claimed it had been natural…) changed for a short-haired black haircut. Her behavior transformed as well, becoming cruel, almost sadistic. He was being beaten, not to death, but tortured enough to feel like he had been sent to hell.

Her magic was powerful and hold him down, forced him into submission, but one day, he had found his opportunity to leave. It was last week only.

And he had wandered. He had brought a few coins with him which gave him food for the week and had traveled to this town. It wasn’t under his mother’s control, so he had felt he was fine, but she had caught up with him in the end…

“You don’t have to tell us” Robin’s sister added. “We understand.”

Suddenly, the emotion he was invaded by broke the spell he had applied to his body, and as the magic subsided, fear shook both Robins to their hearts. The façade spell vanished and his black eye reappeared, along with his bruised cheeks.

He was overtaken by panic and began to shed humiliating tears. He had wanted to hide these! He didn’t need the pity of strangers! Ah, what a mess, he had to apply the spell again…!

“Don’t cry! No need to!” Robin, one of them, he couldn’t tell which anymore, whispered. “We won’t bring you back. We’re not monsters.”

“I think we even got the solution to house you.” The other one said. “Come with us, I feel you’re gonna like that.”

He followed them blindly and tried to apply the spell again, vainly. He could whisper the magic words under his breath, but nothing happened. He couldn’t quite figure why.

“What’s your magic type?” Robby asked, putting both hands on his shoulders. They had stopped in front of huge doors, leading to something like a royal throne if he could guess. Robby dried his tears away with her hands.

“I’m a celestial wizard.”

“That’s why the spell’s not working. Celestial magic is easily perturbed by emotions. If you calm down, it’ll work out again.”

They remained some more minutes in front of the doors, waiting for Pit to cool down and use his magic again on himself. How convenient could celestial magic be.

“Pit,” Rob interjected. “We have an offer. You know, Smash Bros is not your usual guild.”

“Thing is, here,” Shulk added, coming from behind, “everybody’s got their own story. Half of us are orphans, the others have lost contact with their families. Point is, although your past is sad, tragic, it shouldn’t weigh you down. It’s soon to say, but you’re not forced to go back there. You can join the guild.”

“Shulk, did you follow us in the shadows?” Rob wondered out loud with a somewhat angry tone. “During such an emotional moment!”

“I’m adding to the drama. Please, Pit. Understand we’re all friendly to each other because we know we’ve all have faced some difficulties. We don’t necessarily know in details. We don’t need to. The guild offers shelter and food, yes, but most importantly, it’s a source of mutual support and an open place to broken souls. Some grew up here, it’s not just friends, in the end. We all live here as a big family.”

“Shulk may be an idiot, but I agree with him.” Robby said. “Who would have known I’d say something like that someday.”

Pit heard Shulk muster something along the lines of “freaky pigtails” and laughed a bit.

He didn’t know where he wanted to go. One thing was sure though: he didn’t want to go back to his mother’s side. He will find a solution to the problem and find a new home. And as he stepped through the doors, the air chilled around him.


“That’s our new member?”

“He’s so cute!”

“What an angel!

 

The voices all around him, all complimentary of some sort, reddened his face. He could hear people randomly presenting themselves, shouting their name for him to memorize, though it was proving difficult. There were many of them. He had met the Robins, whom actually, everyone nicknamed the Robins as well, Shulk, the Master (a man which was to be feared for his power) and this mass of people.

The Master didn’t seem like someone nice at first glance. He seemed cold, calculating and unsympathetic. He had told Shulk off for his little speech (which he, weirdly, heard through the doors), repeating the guild was only a place to earn money, somewhere where he could increase his benefit. He was an old man with a questionable fashion sense and a really bad eyesight. The guy swore he had his glasses somewhere but had lost them and hadn’t had the energy to search for them.

In the end, Pit had found him entertaining. The Master had accepted he join the guild, and he couldn’t be prouder or happier. He had the mark of the guild appear on his body, on his back, near his right shoulder.

“So this feels like it’s giving you wings. Extend your horizons and do your best. That’s why it’s positioned right here.”

“Shulk, could you stop being so poetical today? Pit’s not here for rhetorics” a new voice added.

A new figure stepped from the crowd and smiled at Pit warmly.

“The name’s Ike. The kids over there are part of my team.” He said, pointing to the Robins just next to him. “You look feeble. I should train you to gain some muscles, kid.”

Pit swore he heard someone say “Ike knows words like feeble?” and couldn’t prevent a chuckle from escaping his lips. Ike didn’t seem so bothered, or he hadn’t heard, and stretched his hand out to him. Pit bumped his fist against his hand, confused by the gesture, and blushed when Ike responded by laughing.

“It’s nice to have a new member around here.” Another man peaked from above the crowd, jumping unbelievably high in the air and landing on Ike’s broad shoulder. “And I’m glad it’s not some freaky old man!”

The boy, approximately around Pit’s age, had fire red hair and a huge smile plastered on his face. The freckles around his nose added to his overall cuteness, and with that, the fact Ike was juggling him from one arm to the other effortlessly.

“He’s also part of the team”, Rob intervened, and was suddenly caught by Ike’s free arm and tossed around as well, though he screamed for the man to let him down “this instant”.

Other people came in to ask Pit questions, present themselves and joke around, until the doors of the guild opened and two silhouettes appeared in the setting sunlight. They were tall and intimidating and Pit could feel the magical aura emanate from their bodies. One of the silhouette’s power was, in reality, so close to the nature of his own magic, that he felt comfortable with her approaching him.

The silence reigned in the room since the arrival of the two figures. The air had gotten chilly and the laughs subsided in the stillness.

Until a cheery, upbeat voice, almost shrill, exclaimed: “Oh, dears, you’re finally home!”

Peach ran from the counter to the silhouettes and hugged them both tightly.

Pit, after being starstruck for a short time, quickly realized who they were. The first woman, ponytail in her hair, blond locks and fierce gaze, didn’t seem to want to reciprocate that hug. She sighed in relief as Peach released them both but greeted her kindly nonetheless. Pit could recognize her anywhere. That was Samus Aran, the most powerful wizard of the guild… second. She manipulated equipment magic so well she could use both knight and gunner abilities. She is an incredible fighter, with an immense pool of magic at her disposal, along with inhuman combat techniques. Rumors about her tell she could destroy mountains if she wanted.

Next to her was the most powerful wizard of the guild. A woman, also, even taller than Samus Aran. She boasted elegance and power, which prove to be useful when winning the Great Magic Games. Her name was Rosalina, and she was also a celestial magic user, though she specialized in cosmic magic, the most powerful form of this magic, combining spatial, time, and gravity magic. Samus was an S-class wizard, and Rosalina, one of the Ten Wizard Saints. Her ties to the Magic Council are said to be important.

Of course, with all the agitation his presence had caused, both wizards were now looking at Pit with curiosity. No. Rather, Samus took a glance and then left while Rosalina remained and approached him serenely.

“Oh, you’re hurt, dear. Let me help you.” She applied her hand to his cheek and magic filled his face instantly, healing the wounds and tearing the pain down. “Why haven’t you helped, Peach?”

“I hadn’t known you were hurt! When did that happen?” Peach exclaimed. “I hope it’s not Robin’s doing, or else…”

“No, but it’s… a long story.” Pit reassured her.

Rosalina tilted her head to the side and smiled warmly. Her earrings jingled against her neck, a sound made in heaven.

“You’re a new member. Welcome to the guild”, she kindly states. “What’s your name?”

“Pit, Ma’am.”

She looked at him funny and patted his hair maternally, like he could remember his own mother doing. At that thought, she immediately removed her hand, and he wondered if she had felt his sudden sorrow. As it looked like she had, he felt bad for inconveniencing her. She bad him goodbye and as she left the room, voices began to talk up again. The chill air vanished into the usual warmth of solicitude which stemmed from the people, the ground, the atmosphere, and he swore the wooden tables, used and used again, had this same aura around them. Everything in here had a story to tell, and everyone as well. This background noise of laughter was soothing and he wondered if it would be what he’d hear for his whole life. It was a nice change from the usual cold stillness of his mother’s house.

“Their entrances aren’t always this dramatic”, Robby intervened quietly, under the sound of everyone’s voices.

“But I think they’ll stay this way for a long time” Robin added too. “Pit, let me show you to your room. Master indulged me with this task.”

Pit nodded absentmindedly and followed Robin through the labyrinth of corridors and waved goodbye at the crowd.

“We call the dormitory the Mansion. It’s just a fancy name, but know we have many facilities nonetheless. I’ll show you to them later on. For now, let’s enunciate the rules: you gotta pay rent once a month, of course, but because you’re a new member and we’re a kind guild, you don’t have to right now. Take a mission and complete it, win golds, and pay rent. That’s how it works. However, you know… I suggest you pick someone to complete your first mission with. It’s a major step in life and it should be done with friends, or so everyone repeats. I achieved my first one with Shulk, for instance. Another important rule is to remain quiet. Most of the guild members live here, though not everyone, but keep in mind the walls are made out of wood. Anybody can hear you if you’re the loud type. Oh, I didn’t… mean it like that.”

He blushed and tried to retain his composure back, and it proved to be some arduous task and Pit wondered if this slipup was from experience, actually. And the thought made him blush as well.

“A-Anyway, your room. It’s here. Your neighbors are Ness to the right and Lukas to the left. They are very nice kids too. They represent the Psy Unit around here, and they’re really good telekinetic wizards.”

“Everyone’s powers are so diverse”, Pit wondered out loud. “How did you all manage to find this guild? Are orphans all led this way?”

“Smash Brothers just happens to be in the way at the right time. It’s nothing a parentless child can refuse, and at first, it always seems like we’re forced into this position, and there is some truth to that, but nobody’s forced to stay. We all came to love our jobs and each other so much that we agreed to stay. And like you heard earlier, we are more family than friends. It’s a story of multiple generations. Some of the Smashers have kids, you know.”

“Your sister.”

“Yes, she’s got a little girl. Corrin has a son, too. And, well… that’s… all.”

“No, it’s not all. What’s up? There is another secret kid you don’t want your sister to know about?” Pit joked lightheartedly.

“No, no… Rosalina has a son. Had. She had a son. Golden hair and a bright, cheerful personality, always so nice to everybody and the epitome of selflessness.”

“Epi-what?”

“He was the complete opposite of an egoist. That’s why… last month, he went on a mission with his mother. He was old enough and knew how to fight, though he was more of a battle-enhancer than an actual fighter. He died protecting his mother from a lethal blow. Peach’s version of the story goes that Rosalina tried everything to heal the wounds, ate up her entire magic power to reform the damaged tissues, but the deed had been done and he was no longer. She wasted her energy on keeping him alive, though it was for a mere minutes. They remained close for this minute, and the boy’s body vanished into thin air. They were on mission on a lost island, and now, it’s not even an island anymore. She unleashed her full potential on the monster that had taken her son away and destroyed everything.

And when she came back, she calmly explained her son was no more. She had spoken with such a grave tone with her serene face… Nobody even thought it could be a bad joke, not from her, so in the end, the Master decided to prepare funerals, which Rosalina refused to partake in. We mourned him all, and now, everybody’s a bit reluctant to talking to her. I mean, isn’t weird how she isn’t… emotionally wrecked? How can a mother remain so… so untouched by her son’s disappearance?”

Pit remained thoughtful. He recalled his own mother and wondered how she could be feeling right now. Wrecked?

“I wouldn’t know. I don’t have a mother, but… if I lost my sister, I’d be desperate. Don’t tell her I said that. I wish for her to just disappear sometimes.”

He didn’t have siblings, and therefore, didn’t have an answer to that either. How could he know how a family functions? He barely had a mother…

“Oh, hi there.” A calm voice said from behind.

Pit turned around and there stood another boy, perhaps a bit younger than him. Blond-haired and wearing a teeshirt out of wool, he seemed a bit surprised at the sight of Pit, and also uncomfortable for interrupting their conversation.

“Hey, Lucas! Glad to see you. I’m showing the Mansion around to Pit, it’s our new member! Pit, that’s Lucas, your neighbor!”

Pit saluted him with a friendly handshake. Lucas reciprocated the smile on his face, though faintly and in a shy manner.

“I’m sorry, I have to prepare for something.” Lucas quickly added, breaking the handshake. “Welcome, Pit!” He quietly added before disappearing into his quarters.

“Well, yeah.” Robin shrugged. “He’s been weird lately. Who knows what he’s up to?”

“You won’t check? I mean, he’s a kid, it could be dangerous…”

“He knows we’ll never refuse to help him. Though, he didn’t ask, so we won’t intrude.”

Pit wanted to reply something, but didn’t the courage to. He was new around here, he didn’t have to voice his negative opinions already. He would follow the flow at first, then see where that will take him. He’ll perhaps end up leaving in two weeks, who could possibly know?

“I swear to god you’ll help me!” a manly voice screamed from further away in the corridor.

“Go fuck yourself, you dumb candle-head! Leave me alone!” a woman retorted angrily. “I’m not here to help you accomplish your goddamned missions!”

Pit looked at Robin with a puzzled face. Whose voices were they?

“That’s Falcon and Samus fighting. They do that a lot. Don’t pay attention to them and you’ll be alright. I think.  There can be collateral damage though.”

“They don’t like each other?”

“He used to be infatuated with her. She declined, and they’ve had this relationship ever since. They nitpick over futilities most of the time.”

That’s sad, Pit thought. He valued people and friendships too much to bother getting angry with anyone. He couldn’t dislike people. He had faith in them.

Perhaps they didn’t dislike each other, though. Pit couldn’t tell. Everything was so complicated. He wanted to rest, now. He really could use a comfy bed. However, one question popped in his mind.

“Who used to live here? Between… Ness and Lucas?”

“I don’t think anyone’s lived here before. We just have spare rooms Master keeps clean to ensure someone has a shelter.”

 So this wasn’t a mere whim for money, Pit realized. The Master cared in some way, even if he the old man wasn’t proud of it. After all, everyone was sheltered and protected by the guild’s power. Even the nearby city, nicknamed Smashville, flourished thanks to the guild’s help. Sure, money helped grandly, but perhaps… there was more to it. Coins can’t buy everything.

“I’m… going to check up on them. So that they don’t break anything. Here’s the key to your room, never lose it please, or Master will throw a fit. Try to sympathize with your neighbors, they’re nice kids. Oh, and, dinnertime starts around 7 pm, so come by, we could have dinner together with the others.”

Pit agreed wholly and was left perplexed in front of his… his home. It didn’t feel like home yet. The door was rusty when he opened it gently, and, well, the insides of the room weren’t that alluring. He closed the door behind him as Robin ran away to the source of the argument. There was no hall, the door led to the room directly. It was bigger than he had first expected however, even if he could have lived in a closet for whatever reason, he liked the sudden change of pace and space. He could get accustomed to live there, he thought. His mother’s house was gigantic, that he wasn’t doubting, but it wasn’t… his place. It never felt like it. There, he was free! Nobody to restrain him or put him down!

He hoped he’d feel good there.

There was no reason not to be, after all...

Luck seemed to be on his side for now.

Chapter Text

“Peach, watch out!” Rosalina cried out, flying towards her friend to protect her with her shielding abilities.

“The earth shatters under its weight. How will we stop such a monster? I fear gravity isn’t of much help right now!”

Rosalina remained quiet, maintaining her shields up to prevent the monster’s fists from hitting them. The groundbreaking noise the fists made on her magic scared Peach, and that began to show. Her powers, triggered by her emotions, were oftentimes uncontrollable when she got exceptionally emotive. Her fear was casting shadows at their feet, slowing rising up from the ground to encapsulate them both. It circled around them like a whirlpool of darkness, and there was no way to stop it but calm Peach down.

Rosalina hoped Peach would gain control over herself. Her fear wasn’t her best offensive ability… It was more of a self-destruct. The shadows began to crawl against their legs, grasping their skin and trying to rot it away. Then, Rosalina’s shield got hit one more time and its structure started to fade away, decomposed in a dust of golden butterflies. Rosalina stepped back, surprised by this disappearance: why had her shield fallen apart? That thing must have done something more than punching her magic…

Peach took Rosalina’s hand and ran away with her, avoiding another attack from the monster. Rosalina flew off once Peach was out of reach and distracted the demonic beast with a violent comet-like strike to the face. Its lone eye lit up, launching a powerful beam towards Rosalina. She raised her hand, and the beam spun around her, only to be absorbed a second later. She danced in the air to cast the different spells she knew, her magic twirling around her like snakes of purple light.

Peach, on the ground, was working hard on her concentration. Her emotion magic was focus-centered and required great mental capacities, which she had developed over time. The ground beneath her feet started to crumble, fire sprouted from the gaps constellating the dirt. She had her legs apart, arms propelled towards her enemy. Her clothes had been torn by the heat, though only partly.

“Peachie Miss!” a shrilled voice exclaimed. “You get a boost!”

A child, remarkably young, glided towards Peach, adding to her power source thanks to his own. He was pumping energy at an alarming rate, a great power that was unheard of for a child. He had his hands aimed at the emotion wizard, greatly amplifying the overall energy she was releasing. The flames rising from the ground propagated further around Peach’s body. They developed grandly, rising to lick the clouds in the sky, towering above the creature.

Peach hurled herself towards the giant like a fireball, a comet illuminating the coming night. The hand of the creature caught Peach in her way and tried to stop her, but the child, hovering far behind, was still lending his power to the wizard. The gigantic body was pushed backwards by Peach’s momentum, in a crashing sound, loud as thunder, which could be heard from kilometers away.

However, the monster proved to be more dominant. Peach was flung to the ground like an old bag, as easy as that, despite the raw energy she had accumulated.

Rosalina rushed towards her friend, trying to catch her before she fell to the ground. Rosalina’s hands shone in a bright light, and the whole area around Peach faltered, becoming lighter and lighter. Peach’s body was stopped by the opposite gravity of the area, and Rosalina helped her down gently. She saw her friend tired, broken down by all the energy she had unleashed at once. Peach was resilient, but emotions had their limits, and that’s where Peach’s magical limits lay. The child’s enhancement magic was, moreover, quite tiresome on the target, and it was high risk for high reward.

Rosalina was about to leave Peach alone to continue the fight, but the monster took a step forward, and she remained pensive for some seconds. What was it going to do next? She thought it was coming for them, she couldn’t imagine it otherwise, in the end. She had to fly away with Peach, but was afraid she’d hurt her friend more than she already was. Rosalina raised her hand upwards and hoped the spell would work.

“Don’t do that, Rosalina… You know how hard it is to pull off, please!” Peach mumbled weakly, noticing the patterns Rosalina was drawing with her body.

She shot her friend a confident glare with a smug smile, the ones she used so rarely, to comfort the broken.

The monster was nearing, but Rosalina felt ready. As soon as the monster would hit, she’d strike, and then…

And then…

The monster didn’t hit her. It went straight for the floating child in the sky. It had never aimed for her. She had been fooled.

“Lee!” She cried out. She stopped mid-spell, magic vaporizing and exploding around her.

The boy was caught in the monster’s sturdy hand, squeezed so tightly he noticeably paled of suffocation.

Rosalina instantly teleported next to the monster’s hand. She forced her powers onto it and tried to unclench the fist, and she thought she had succeeded, but she got caught by the other hand and sent flying to the nearest mountain.

She fell down. Her legs were heavily injured, so she stayed afloat. She couldn’t feel most of her body anymore and was covered in blood, mostly her own, or so she wished. She looked like a disarticulated puppet brought to life by a witch. She moved strangely, following a rhythm unknown to everyone but her.

 The monster lifted its hand up and threw the child to the ground. Rosalina instantly teleported next to him to protect him. She did wonders again by changing the gravity around him, and he fell on the ground dramatically slowly.

“Mommy!” the child cried, not daring to approach her blood-soaked figure. “Are you okay?”

He gagged and hiccupped a lot, his body shaken by tremors of fear and powerlessness.

“Mama, are you okay? You have to fight it off...! Do something!”

“Sshh, Lee…” Rosalina whispered sweetly. She ignored the nearing monster to lull her son to calmness. “Don’t be scared. You know we’ll win that one, don’t you?”

The child started to weep, clutching Rosalina’s skirts, wanting her near him.

She was about to speak up, but suddenly felt herself powerless. Her magic was like drained away, and she fell down sluggishly. Laying on the ground, she tried to move her arm, her legs, but nothing worked, and she remained motionless, Lee cried for her to stand up and act, but her body was too broken, too weak, and she thought it was over. Her emotions were all over the place, her magic wasn’t responding anymore, because that’s how cruel cosmic magic was.

“I’ll protect you, then!” Lee cried harder, his powers vanishing as tears sprinkled his face. He looked at the approaching monster. “I’ll make you proud and not let you die! I love you, Mama! I love you, I love you, I love you!”

A scream echoed in the night, and everything went quiet.

 

After recovering, Peach ran to the battlefield again. She searched for magic sources, trying to locate her friends, but the air was still. The monster, still living, loomed over the plain, but seemed frozen. The night was young, but the quietness of it all was uncharacteristically bloodcurdling. Peach was frightened. Her friends were nowhere to be found, and the situation in itself appeared to her like a trap.

Was something coming to her? Were her friends dead, and she next on the list?

Paranoid. She’s paranoid, that’s what she told herself. Rosalina never failed a single mission, the stars shine bright on her! She must have survived!

Peach looked up to the sky. The moon was absent, covered by dark clouds, a sea of obscurity looming over them all. But then… Peach saw him. Lee was flying all around the monster, chaining him in his magic grip.

“Lee… stay neutral. Power rises in serenity.” Rosalina’s voice echoed in the area, blown around by the chilling air. “But… what are you doing?”

The child’s figure turned out more like a comet than a human body. It flew and encaged the monster quickly, preventing any movement. Then, suddenly, he stopped.

“I’m protecting you, Mama. I’m not letting you die. I don’t want you gone. I will fight to protect you. That’s what family’s for, right? You told me yourself. You told me we’d protect each other till the end. I’m saving you.”

The clouds above the monster vanished, absorbed by Lee’s bright powers. The radiating stars shone down on it. Light pillars, seemingly endless, rained down from above, capturing the monster in their magic grasp. Lee danced in the air, drawing patterns with his feet and Rosalina’s choked voice echoed again.

“Lee… don’t do this…”

“I will! You told me this spell was for emergency cases. For questions of life and death. This is it! This is the occasion… Right, Mama?”

“It’s… it’s…”

“It is! I tell you, Mama! I’m keeping the world safe for you! For me! For the guild! For everyone there!”

“We could… just wait… for help…”

“Mama, if we do, the monster’s gonna crush you! You can’t move, and I can’t transfer you my magic! This is now or never! Okay, I’m saying the enchantment. Tell me if I make mistakes!”

The stillness in the air was chilling. Peach didn’t understand right away what was happening before her eyes, but once the child pronounced these words, she froze, her dark magic, nurtured by fear, spiraling frenetically around her.

“Activating one of the Sacred Smash Spells. There is something I hold dear to my heart, and it’s my mom and the guild! So for them, I am ready to sacrifice my existence. I am to be erased and sent to the Gods for purgation and peacefulness! May Their Lights prosper through eternity!”

As he pronounced those words, his body lit up like a candle in the night, a light globe made to guide lost souls.

“And Mama… May the stars shine down on you…!”

His last words resonated in the void of the night, a call for love and validation.

It went unanswered.

The light beams in the sky, shaken by the sudden energy Lee had propelled out of his body, dissolved the monster in rays of violence. Lee’s body was disintegrated, and the monster with it.


 

“Is this what really happened?” Pit wondered. “But… then… couldn’t she heal him… out of it?”

“Out of death?” Ness countered. “That’d be a nice thing if it could happen, Pit. Peach told us she tried to revive him, or keep him alive, but his body vanished into nothingness, and she was powerless.”

Pit remained silent. He was glad his neighbor had invited him to spend the afternoon together in his apartment, but he hadn’t expected the sleepover to become this… dark.

“I’m sorry”, Ness quickly added. “I just wanted to… unwind. This has been difficult for all of us and… sorry.”

“I understand. He was your friend.”

Ness stays silent for some more seconds, before flashing a grin and rising up from the bed.

“He was, but he’d not want me to be sad! So now, I’ll show you all the books I’ve got from the store today! Some are gifts for Lucas, but don’t tell him. It’s a surprise for his birthday. I spent like half my savings on these rare books!”

He left his bed and ran to the bookshelves on the opposite wall. A small white bag was lying at its base, and while Ness meticulously took the books out of it, Pit couldn’t hide his embarrassment. His magic was becoming all wobbly again, and he couldn’t even hide the blush of shame reddening his face.

“What’s up?” Ness asked, coming back to him. “Is it too hot for you in here?”

“Mh, yeah. But don’t worry, I have to… adapt. So, what are your books about?”

“Well, find out for yourself! This one is about eight travelers fighting the evil away, that one is about an adventurer trying to save her friend, kidnapped by an army of killer birds, and…”

Pit took one randomly, trying to look like he was sure of himself. Which of course, he was not, but that, Ness didn’t need to know it. He spun the book around, trying to decipher the meaning of the letters carved on the back. He brushed his fingertips over each letter carefully, but nothing came to his mind.

“Oh, what’s the one you took? I think I chose it for its cover…”

“Uhm, I don’t know.”

“Well, tell me the title.”

Pit just took the book and shoved it in his friend’s hands, telling him to read it for himself.

He was not being humiliated tonight. Ness didn’t need to know he couldn’t read. No one needed to know that! Pit looked at all the other books with faked curiosity, trying to decipher symbols he simply couldn’t interpret anyway.

The reason he couldn’t read was not shameful per se, but he couldn’t help it. He often avoided questions regarding reading, and suddenly, he realized he’d have one problem.

Tomorrow was supposed to be his first mission day. How was he going to read the mission report?

“Dinner’s soon” Ness announced with a smile, putting the books back in the bag, seeing how Pit grew uninterested. “In like, ten minutes. But people are gathered there already. Wanna meet them?”

Pit agreed wholeheartedly. Anything to avoid the topic of his illiteracy. He jumped from the bed a tad too excitedly, which had Ness discreetly sigh, and he jogged to the door with enthusiasm. This time, it was natural. He loved the company of others, and was impatient to see what dinners here would look like. Perhaps it’d be a grand feast, where one parties till the morning… that would be a dream. He had never experienced dinner outside of his mother’s impressive dining room; a cold, whitish room with food he only ate out of necessity. She wasn’t the best of cooks, and still insisted to do it by herself.

He was sat at the end of the table, and she was facing him, oh so far away. Servants framed the doors like brainless bodies, and all seemed like a cage to him. Guards spying him down and his torturer watching him eat this poisoned food for her pleasure…

Once dinner was over, he was brought back to his room by a nameless maid, the maids changed each day, he never knew how to address them, and had given up anyway.

As they neared the room, he got more and more anxious. He couldn’t tell why, but the sensation looming over him was deafening. His ears buzzed and his face got red… really? He just wanted to meet nice people, this wasn’t a dinner with his mom! She wasn’t there! He was scared he might open the door just to see her standing in the way, and looking at him with that expression he knew would send him to hell the minute they’d end up alone.

Ness didn’t notice his friend’s discomfort and merely opened the door like he owned the place, which technically, he and everyone else do.

The hall was full with people sat on the different tables. Different groups were therefore created, but that didn’t mean someone from the end of that one table wouldn’t try to say something to that other someone cornered at the opposite of the room. Loud cries and voices boomed from happiness and alcohol, as it was seconds later proved by a white-haired couple who had both seemingly drunk too many Drinks of the Gods.

“Ah, they are the Corrins. Both are Corrin.”

“What’s up with people naming both kids the exact same?”

“Who knows? The boy is a bit childish at times, and the girl too serious. They make a great team together because they counterbalance the other’s shortcomings.”

“Uhm... Cool? I mean, that’s great. Where do you eat?” Pit asked him, not seeing many free places. “With your friends I presume?”

“Kind of” Ness answered. “We change our placements once every month. You’re not allowed to sit with the same people twice, you know? We try to mix it up when we can to make sure everyone has a great time with everyone. We have one week until we can change it again, so you can… you can sit with us.”

There were two free seats at Ness’ table, and although one was already taken by someone who had yet to come, the other left Pit with a sad feeling, similar to a punch in the stomach, because he understood why a seat was untaken there. It used to be Lee’s.

At the table was Ness and he, of course, but a young girl as well, a redhead with bright, cheerful eyes, named “Woomy”, obviously a nickname for her. She came off as vibrant with energy, and that pleased Pit dearly. She was quite one of the youngest he had met yet, towering above her twelfth birthday, and she spoke with screams rather than sentences, Pit would say. Another girl was sitting next to her, nicknamed Nana by everyone apparently. She was a bit older, though not by much, and laughed brilliantly with each joke Woomy made. Brown bangs falling on her forehead and blue eyes gleaming with each smile she had. Next to her, again, was Roy. Pit recognized him from earlier, with the guy named Ike. He was a fire wizard, but most importantly there, he was way older than the kids here, and seemed to take his participation in this dinner as a punishment of some sort. Brown hair with red hues, he could have been intimidating had he not this blasé face plastered over his own. He toyed with his spoon in the soup – it was soup this evening – with such sighed disappointment, but also hints of anger, that Pit couldn’t help but ask him what was wrong.

“Ike scolded me because I presumably stole some of the money we won last mission!” Roy gritted between his teeth, suddenly slapping the bowl with his spoon like a madman. “Said I could ask if I wanted a raise this time! Can you believe Mister Mercenary took me for a thief?”

“Uhm. Yeah”, Ness said bluntly. “You stole Lucas’ candies on Halloween.”

“I swear that wasn’t me! Gaius dressed up as me and… and did it! I know it, I saw him.”

“That doesn’t sound that convincing”, Pit added with a sorry smile.

In front of Roy was the last free eat, and next to it, two empty chairs which would welcome Pit and Ness both.

Pit sat down quietly, almost religiously, and served himself after serving Ness, and then waited for their last table-friend to arrive.

“What kinda mission you wanna do as your first tomorrow?” Roy inquired to spend the time. “And with who?”

“I… don’t know. I didn’t give it a lot of thought. I mean, all the teams here are already quite united, you know? I don’t want to… interpose. I just thought I’d complete it alone.”

That was a lie, but they didn’t need to know that.

“You can always check tomorrow if someone’s eager to go on mission with you”, Nana proposed. “If you see them hanging around the billboard, just ask. I’m sure they’ll say yes.”

“Perhaps… are there some here who aren’t part of a team?”

“Peach”, Nana quickly answered, as if out of habit. “Though she tends to stick with either Luigi or Zelda. You don’t need a team to work well, you know. Some are more ‘lone wolves’ than other.”

Pit just shrugged the topic off, looking around to see the other tables who had already resumed eating their meal. They were all complete, no one was missing and they had already finished their soup! Who were they waiting for here…?

“My apologies”, a voice said from behind, and as Pit looked back, he was stunned by the sight. “You should’ve started dinner without me.”

The woman he took a glimpse of was not… in shape. That astounded him greatly.

“Rosalina… You alright?” Roy asked, his back abruptly straightened by his newfound nervousness.

The woman was boasting a very tired face. It appeared she’d rather have her eyes closed than suffer from the room’s somewhat dim light. She placed a hand on her forehead and tried to brush her hair, but gave up mere seconds afterwards, sitting adequately next to Ness. She served herself soup, and prompted them to eat up before it got cold. They followed her advice in stillness, everyone frozen by her demeanor.

Pit was felt quite uncomfortable in that situation. Now that he had heard her story from Ness, he felt like he was cheating on someone he didn’t know at all. He now had the sentiment he had stolen something from her, perhaps the novelty of the narration she could have made of her own story, or the possible commitment she could have shown to him… Friendship was the word. Not commitment. He meant friendship, of course.

Pit couldn’t tell. He was nervous, knowing she was at his table. The most powerful woman of the country… she was just here, casually eating soup and visibly collecting herself not to shed tears.

He understood her resolution to remain pokerfaced. Emotionlessness was actually vital to her. Cosmic magic, being a part of the celestial magics, its highest form even, could only fully function if the user’s emotions are kept in check. No excess. That is why she couldn’t heal her son from death. She had been shaken by the tremors of despair and chagrin and therefore her cosmic magic had not served any purpose.

That was this magic’s only weakness. Pit knew it. He had tried so hard to calm down, keep himself relaxed while using his magic, but there was just so much he could in his situation. He couldn’t say he was a great magic user. Most of his spells backfired, simply because he never had the tranquility of soul to train for a long time, back at home. The fear his mother might find out always cut his training sessions short.

“Who made this?” Rosalina nonchalantly asked, trying to find topics to entertain her friends. “This is flavorsome.”

Flavorsome? That wasn’t the word Pit would have used. Both because, well, the soup wasn’t that great, and also it’s not a word you hear every day… especially when it comes to soup.

“Ryu made it”, Roy gladly answered. “He said he wanted to reinforce us weaklings with protein-stuffed food. I think Cloud helped, but that’s it.”

“I will thank them afterwards, then.”

“So, Pit, what are your impressions after that first afternoon here?” Roy inquired politely. “Tonight’s common baths night. You have to join. That’s the compulsory activity this week!”

“Wait… you mean in, like… Hot springs?”

“Uhm, no. Common baths.”

“I’m all for it!” Pit exclaimed, a bit too loud. “I didn’t know there were hot springs here!”

He had to admit, that was something he missed from his mother’s house. She had this large palace equipped with everything, and hot springs were part of the deal. He longed for the relaxation there, the peacefulness of the place, and the stillness of his emotions. It was a haven of stability and resourcing.

“What’s the activity next week already?” Nana wondered out loud.

“It’s all-star!” Woomy replied with blissful glee. “Fight till the end!”

“All-star?” Pit repeated as he emptied his soup bowl. “We fight… each other?”

“That’s the Master’s plan. Basically, to stay fit and in shape, we gotta show him our prowess once in a while”, Ness explained. “Next time is next week. It’s not that amazing to see. We do better during the Magic Games, but, you know, the Master gives the orders here.”

“Hey, it’s not exactly danger-free”, Roy added as he put down his bowl as well. “Remember last time? Cloud and Shulk were at it for hours! And they destroyed the fields they were in.”

“Fields? They destroyed them?!” Pit said, awestruck at the thought. “They must be very powerful…”

“They use the same kind of magic, but clearly, Shulk’s better.” Roy ended that sentence with an air of finality which only brought the discussion to a stop. The ones assigned to the dishes tonight were up mere seconds after, taking the plates out of the others’ hands, even if they hadn’t eaten everything yet. Everyone was quite fond of common baths night, so nobody really complained about their haste.

Pit’s anticipation was growing stronger and stronger. Once the tables had been cleaned, everyone left for their rooms and prepared for the bath. Pit couldn’t say he had many things at his disposal, and Ness was kind enough to lend him large enough underwear and a single teeshirt. He had to go shopping… he didn’t know how he’d do it without money, but, oh well, he’ll figure it out when the time comes.

The only idea on his mind right now was bathing.

As he reached the basements of the guild, he was called out by Ness to come to him to the men’s baths. He quickly unclothed himself and ran to the water with bliss. The chastest of them still had swimming trunks on, but Pit didn’t care at all. He wasn’t one for these kinds of futilities, and actually was quite fond of discussing completely naked with strangers.

The men’s baths weren’t that huge. The ground, made out of white concrete, scratched the feet and almost hurt, which Pit should have anticipated, having seen most of them wearing sandals as they went down in the basements. Well, he’d manage. The main bath was akin to a swimming pool in terms of size. Rocks, which were mostly used like benches, were positioned at each corner. Plants, especially bamboolike canes, gave to the room an air of freshness despite it being hiding underground. The air was heavy because of the confinement, but it wasn’t unbreathable either. In the back of the room were showers and various types of shampoos where some men were already washing, though Pit couldn’t tell who they were, but he did recognize a drunk Corrin, trying to wash is fairly long hair with difficulty.

He met with Robin and Shulk, who had been talking to one another in the corner of the room, sitting on the decorative rocks. Both had trunks on, which Shulk blamed on “Rob’s sense of modesty, though he didn’t “mind”. After that interaction, the three of them were called out by Ike, leader of the Emblem team, as Pit learned it, who wanted to “discuss things for tomorrow’s mission.”

In the end, he just grabbed Rob by the waist to strip him down, which left the poor wizard with such a reddened face that Pit almost felt bad, but Shulk laughed it off by keeping close to Rob to help his decency, until he was dressed again. Rob began to stutter nonsense to Ike, and eventually got so flustered that he purely left, claiming he had better business to attend to.

Shulk didn’t even try to stop him, understanding his lover’s reaction too much to refuse him that solitude. However, he turned to Ike furiously once Rob left his sight, suddenly revealing another side of his personality.

“You know he doesn’t like coming in here in the first place! You don’t have to pull that kind of trick on him, alright? He doesn’t like being naked in front of you all, and then what, huh? I swear, Ike, if I ever learn you humiliated him again, I’m not going to go easy on you. You’re gonna pay.”

“This was a joke, Monado boy.” Ike sighed, shoving Corrin, who had given up washing, close to him like a sack, which the water wizard took great offense in, before simply diving away with his magic.

“It’s Rob we’re talking about! He’s sensitive about himself, and insecure, and self-conscious, we all know that, and I’d appreciate it if you at least tried to show you somewhat care about how he feels.”

The argument was stopped there, Ike ignoring anything else the Monado wizard was to say. It angered Shulk to no end, but Pit noticed he wasn’t bellicose in nature, and so he distanced himself from Ike. Pit followed him timidly: he didn’t want to stay near the Emblem leader, but had nowhere else to go but Shulk anyway, who was quite jumpy because of that fight, now. Ness was gone washing, and Pit didn’t want to leave the water just yet..

They sat on an elevated underwater platform near the edge of the pool, Pit’s shoulders barely making it out of the water, but he had to admit the warmth all around him was too reassuring for him to contest that. He subtly glanced over at Shulk, observing the details of his appearance. His wet, golden hair, falling over his eyes, had seen better days perhaps, but Pit couldn’t really tell. Everyone looks stupid when their hair’s wet anyway. He had blue, greyish eyes which weren’t exactly beautiful, and it was a point he shared with Rob, whose eyes, radically grey, shone no more than concrete in the sunlight.

Shulk wasn’t very muscular either. More than him for sure, but not… really. He had heard from Ness that he was one of the strongest of the guild, though, which left him to wonder what kind of magic he had mastered. The sword he carries everywhere was in the room too, and that piqued Pit’s curiosity even more.

He had a thin nose, which towered above thin lips too, something he also shared with his boyfriend, though Rob’s mouth was quite paler than Shulk’s, making it barely visible on his white, sick-like face. He wore around his neck a jewel, which Pit had never quite seen before, the symbols on it being far too complex to be letters…

“You’re staring”, Shulk declared, almost bashfully. “Don’t do it.”

“Sorry…”

“So, your mission, tomorrow, Pit. Who’s going to be your partner?”

“I don’t know. I’ll have to go alone.”

“I’ll come with you.”

Pit found himself flabbergasted.

“Excuse me? You don’t have a team to work with?”

“I don’t have a team at all. I’ll even let you keep the reward for yourself. I mean, you need it more than me, right?”

“But… it’s a waste of time for you! You… I won’t let you go unpaid with this mission!”

“Fine! But keep most of it. I’m not poor, you know. I can afford to complete missions without getting paid for a bit. And you need training, right? I’d be glad to help.”

“Thank you, then.”

Pit then left to the showers, and eventually, exited the baths, catching a glimpse of the women going home as well. The longest-haired of them were the last to leave, as expected of them, and Pit knew it, because he also was one of the last to exit the place. He loved bath too much to even think of going out early.

On the way out, he went through random rooms to make a mental map of the place, to make sure he wouldn’t get lost in the morning, which was quite thoughtful of him, but something admittedly more important than that crossed his path. He heard a voice he knew, and of course, the voice of someone who intrigued him greatly. He couldn’t tell if fate had decided to be his torturer, or if he subconsciously was attracted to that Rosalina lady, as strange as it may have sounded. She was a lonely mother after all, a dead child on her heart and in a desperate need of love, and what was he but a teenager estranged to motherly love?

He was not unaware of their situations, but his heart told him to follow after her, and so his heart he followed as well.

“I wanted to thank you for the meal, too”, he heard her say. “If you cooked more, you’d be able to bake us the unimaginable.”

“You’re too nice, Rosalina” Ryu answered. “I’m glad you liked it, though.”

“Ryu, I… I wanted to ask something of you.”

“What is it?”

Silence reigned for some seconds, which Pit interpreted as her looking for the right words.

“Could you retrieve to me the drawings Lee had made for you?” Her voice was full of emotion already.

“I… yes. I will.”

“You know, he had asked me once why he didn’t have a father, and because I soothed his wonderings away, he felt like telling me he didn’t mind much, in the end, because everyone here was so nice to him. He didn’t need a father if he had you all, was what he meant.”

Pit saw Ryu standing there awkwardly, listening to her tired rambling, her hands moving in frenetic circles as she repeated the words she had heard from her son’s mouth.

“And with that thought, I’d have preferred to be the one to die that night. At least, I would have known he’d be safe here. That would have been the best gift anyone could have made to me.”

Their discussion died there, with Rosalina suddenly lost in her thoughts, fighting back memories and laughter from a past she didn’t want to know anymore. Ryu left after embracing her tenderly, and Pit could have sworn he was seeing a man in love, and not just a friend she had confessed to, but that was perhaps too early to tell. He knew nothing of them after all. As the man left, Pit felt like uncovering himself, but another figure approached, and he stepped back into the shadows, all ears to the words spoken by this new silhouette. He did feel bad for that…

“You have to have the heart to believe”. The Master. It was him speaking. “You have saved countless people, although your life destined you to crimes and sins. You gave your son love, warmth, affection, and a family. You gave him everything you couldn’t have, and as a thanks, he decided to give you another chance. He loved you so much, and he knew you loved him with all your heart, but he also knew you were a woman saddened by the harshness of living, that he gave you a chance to redo it all. He gave you a chance to make up for the time you’ve lost because of him. You were but a little girl when you came to me. A girl with no name, and yet too much history. Your son was born here, amidst our daily chaos… He was raised with our values of fraternity, solidarity and love. That is how you raised him, and how we showed him examples of greatness and heroism.

Stop blaming yourself for his disappearance. He has chosen to go away and leave your side because he wanted you to stay, because he knew you love it here with us. He killed the monster who ravaged the lands and protected both you and Peach.

The best you can do for him now is mourn him, and then, let him go. Let him remain a memory, the sweet and cheerful memory.”

Of a son you cannot see. Pit ended the sentence, the lyrics to that popular song.

He didn’t realize he was crying until the tears reached his mouth, sprinkling a salty, almost bitter taste on his tongue.

He didn’t know what he’d do if his mother died.

So how can a mother handle it the other way around?

Chapter Text

Don’t give up on the past just yet, please don’t forget.

Don’t let the feelings go astray,

Not today.

And what if it’s over? What if he’s never happening?

Let him remain a memory, the sweet and cheerful memory,

Of the son you cannot see.


The song had been famous some years ago thanks to some touring company which had spread its lyrics to the entire country. It had been written by a renowned woman, named Pauline James. Pit had learned the singer had become a mayor recently, and although she had not quitted her job, she sang less and less, and that was a shame to him.

He remembers the company telling the listeners she had written it for her stillborn child, a son.

He wonders how she dealt with the loss at the time.

As he dressed up, a knock and a voice echoed from the corridor. He replied shakily, trying to put on pants and walking at the same time, which proved to be a mistake as he fell down miserably, trying to reach the door.

He recollected himself and, fully dressed and somewhat ready to face the day, was greeted by Shulk, whose face had seen better days for sure, and he answered with a hesitant smile.

Uhm… Shulk, what happened to you? I mean, your face.”

Oh, I fell down the bed last night.”

Hard?”

Have a guess”, Shulk replied, covering his bruised nose. “That, and I didn’t sleep very well.”

You… You don’t have to come. If you’d prefer to stay there, I’d…”

Let’s get through with this, okay? The faster we choose something, the sooner we’ll be back home.”

Pit ended up agreeing, following Shulk through the endless corridors leading to the rooms. Everything was made out of wood, and that worried Pit to some extent, knowing how many fire handlers could be grouped up here… He knew his magic had a tendency to become all wobbly when he’s sleeping, and he really wouldn’t like to put them in a… dire situation.

When they reached the hall, after passing interminable cracking stairs, it was almost empty. The billboard wasn’t quite full, but missions had been taken off of it already. Some late drunkards from last night were recovering on the tables, either asleep, or drooling their pain away. One of them was the woman Pit had met yesterday, accompanied by a mysterious man…

Samus, are you okay?” Shulk inquired, nudging her by the elbow.

She raised her head from her arm, her cheeks stained in red, her gaze unprecise and unfocused, while her other arm, languidly, tried to grab something out of her pocket.

M’yeah, m’fine.”

What happened this time?”

N’thing. Get lost.”

She wasn’t quite amiable, and Pit half expected it. She seemed like quite the loner, one of the “lone wolves” Nana had spoken about the day before.

Shulk decided to go for the man instead, whom he pushed a bit, trying to wake him up. That got him to jump out of fear, suddenly terrorized by a nightmare he must have been having. Pit chuckled, that was ridiculous.

Are you alright?” Shulk asked. “Richter, you’ve seen better days too, clearly.”

Fine. It’s just been. A night.”

Pit laughed out loud this time. Richter didn’t mind, but Samus shot him a glare of death, so he turned the volume down, but that situation was simply hilarious. He was seeing his childhood idols hungover on a week night, for no apparent reason other than “let’s get a single drink tonight”. That was funny to him.

Samus left without a notice, returning to her room.

Richter remained sitting, there, reassuring Shulk on his wellbeing, and then noticed the celestial wizard behind him, and greeted him with a pleasant, though seemingly painful smile.

Richter. You’re the newbie, Pit, right?”

I am.”

An honor to meet you. I never had the chance to meet a relative of the most important person of the Great Council. Still, I take it you’re here on your own behalf, am I right?”

That was awkward. So they knew he was his mother’s son, didn’t they?

He didn’t want to answer. He didn’t want to think about her. He wished he could just disappear, and act as if that question never happened.

Yes, I’m here alone.”

It is always good to welcome newcomers.” Richter said, flashing him a grin. “If you ever need anything, don’t fear asking me or anyone else. We’ll help out. And, Shulk... I think Robin doesn’t mind for last night. You should speak to him whenever you can.”

Richter then left, trailing his tired body to his apartment, which was hidden in the heart of the town. He’d have to walk quite a while. Or so Shulk told him.

What did you do last night?” Pit asked, looking innocently at the loaded billboard, once they had parted ways.

Shulk froze, glaring at him with an apathetic face. Pit could tell he had taken him by surprise. He did seem to have a rough night, which he could also understand. Life with so many people at once couldn’t always work out favorably for everyone.

We had some drinks and stuff happened. Nothing of your concern, don’t worry.”

His tone, although not aggressive, did show he didn’t want to dwell on that topic any longer. Their searches took some time, perhaps too much. Pit was lost in all these asks. He wasn’t quite familiar with the geography of the surrounding areas, which aggravated his case further.

Look at this one”, Shulk proposed. “It’s a woman who wants her stolen stuff back.”

Oh, who is she?”

She’s named… M. Cutie. It says she lives nearby, in a mansion, but I don’t recall seeing a manor anywhere in this area…”

Is it shady? Should we really go?”

All reports are checked to avoid pranks, so it should be alright.”

The reward amounted to 45.000 rupees, and not golds, strangely, which would pay him one or two months of rent. That would suffice… It almost felt strange how this report seemed to have fallen from the heavens themselves. It was a blessing!

Do you know which way to go for that manor?”

Well, yeah. We can go right away. It’ll only take one hour, walking. It’s right next to the city, it seems. Now that I think about it, it’s perhaps the famous new rich nobles moving in. They bought a goldmine nearby, if I remember.”

A goldmine?”

Yeah, Ike and his team had to go clean it up. That place was infested with monsters.”

We… we won’t have to go to such a place, right?”

No. We’re just going for a nice stroll. Who knows what we’ll meet along the way?”

He smirked knowingly, Pit shivering at the thoughts. He was now traumatized because of monsters. He could remember the one going after him some nights prior…

In the end, the walk went fairly well. As they traversed the town, Shulk took the opportunity to show Pit around. The city was residential, mostly known for its impressive marketplace though, and the nobility appreciated the rural experience there. The capital wasn’t far away either, and most importantly, the Great Magic Council could be found in the county west from Smashville. Fields encircled the area and the crops were used mostly for the capital, but the rest belonged to the town.

Both young men climbed the streets, climbed the town, and talked about themselves. Pit really wanted to belong .

So you’re the mechanic?”

I mostly take fixing missions and such. The town some kilometers away has many... pipe problems, no joke. They call me at least once a week now, because the mayor refuses to pay for actual repairs, new parts and such.”

Where did you learn that? I mean, fixing machines and stuff. You picked it up?”

Ah… Actually, when we were kids, Robin bought many random books home, because she couldn’t read yet and wanted to practice. Turned out she bought the books an old mechanic’s kid had thrown away after his father’s passing. So, yeah. I picked it up from there. All detailed, educational works.”

Impressive! I wish I could just learn things like that.”

You can. I mean, anyone can, Pit.”

Pit answered with a sheepish smile. He wished he could read.

The only thing I love is eating, really.”

It’s not my thing. You should help in the kitchen, however. Or work for Zess, Tayce and Dyllis.”

Who are they?”

The best cooks of the region. That’s where we eat after the festival.”

Pit eyed him questioningly, and Shulk brushed his worries off. “You’ll know when it’ll come around”, he said. So Pit didn’t ask further, and instead appreciated the warm breeze, carrying with itself the scents of faraway lands and flowers. His clothes, Ness had lent him some, were too tight for him. The warmth of the weather had helped, though, so he had removed the outer layer, and was trying not to look ridiculous in this tank top. He never liked tank tops.

Shulk was wearing a simple shirt and shorts, colored red and black, which didn’t make him stand out much. Everyone in the city was wearing colored, flashy clothes, so, in the end, he was a wallflower, and luckily enough. Shulk looked like a weirdo anyway.

Not that weirdoes couldn’t be nice and friendly.

After walking for some time, they reached the ends of the city’s center and began to walk up the streets. The houses became nicer, more expensive and more beautiful than ever. One of them, quite eccentric, had the owner’s name displayed grandly near the mailbox.

Each house had its own specificity which amused Pit on the way. The discussion between Shulk and him had died out on its own, and he smiled to himself, thinking about these houses and their beauty.

Until, finally, they reached the dead-end street. It led to some fabulous manor, standing gloriously atop a hill. Drown in a sea of green, it had this marvelous air of richness and complexity.

Pit looked over to Shulk who seemed disgruntled somehow. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but something bothered him. He didn’t dare ask, the wizard was confident enough to walk up to the doorbell and ring it. The wait was short, and soon, a little girl came to open the door to them.

There was nothing unusual about her. Green pigtails framed her head, tied with nice, red ribbons. She wore a dotted white dress with some touch of green again. She was your typical rich girl, ready to yell at you because you dirtied her magnificent mirror.

Hello, misters. I suppose you’re from Smash Bros, right?”

We are”, Shulk answered calmly. “Are you the one that sent out this mission?”

I am! It’s Mimi Cutie to you.”

Could you share the details of your request with us?”

Of course, please come in!”

She led the way in, her arms aimed nicely towards the living room. As she closed the door behind them, Pit felt a shiver run down his spine.

Where are your parents?” He wondered out loud.

Oh, I’m an adult alright, don’t worry about me.” Mimi said in a cutesy voice. “But I need help to find my money back!”

Money? You lost money?” Pit asked, still surprised by her previous statement.

Rupees, to be exact. A great amount of them. I think they were stolen during the night, because I’ve never noticed anyone breaking in!”

An investigation, Pit wondered. This would be interesting. He had never played such a game before! He didn’t know if Shulk had detected his enthusiasm already, and he almost felt bad for reacting so childishly; though, he couldn’t help it. Mimi’s bubbliness didn’t help his case, and he found himself jumping lightly when she jumped, laughing when she laughed and smiling when she looked at him.

Come see the crime scene!” She exclaimed cheerfully, already heading for a corridor. “It’s right there.”

Pit followed goodheartedly, wobbling alongside her to a somewhat hidden door. Shulk was behind, keeping a safe distance between him and them, observing each artefact in this corridor with a curious attention.

When Mimi opened the door, Pit jumped right in, and she went with him, inviting Shulk inside as well. The Monado wizard dared not utter a single word, keeping his blue eyes fixated on the girl, whose appearance grew weirder to him. And then, when she showed her back to him, he realized.

And shrieked.


 

Lucas is not out, today?” Peach asked with interest. “Ness, you said you’d help him get along better with the others!”

Let the kid be”, Samus intervened. “I don’t want to spend all my time with any of you either, can’t you understand that for him?”

But you don’t spend your time in a sour mood, right?” Ness peeped up.

She answered by raising her eyebrows slightly, disregarding what he said in the end. She went for her glass of water and drank a bit before continuing:

And it’s not like the mood is for parties, nowadays. I’d give him some space before everything settles back to normal.”

His birthday would be a good occasion to lighten the mood”, Peach proposed. “We should go ask him if he wants to celebrate it, and if he does, we could just throw a little party, nothing crazy, just to relax a bit together.”

Ness agreed while sipping on his milk absentmindedly. What brought him back to reality was the sudden cry heard in the hall, right behind them, something akin to... a baby?

Ness noticed how Samus didn’t even flinch, keeping her composure and reading thoroughly a mission request she had taken some minutes prior. Peach, on the other hand, had her eyes fixated on the entrance, waiting for someone to come in.

Chrom, are you there?” She asked. “If you need help with the baby, it’s alright.”

Out of nowhere appeared Robby’s husband, a baby trapped in his arms, under numerous layers of covers. As Chrom approached, the discomfort became visible on the child’s face. Chrom unknowingly hit her head as he promptly walked to the counter, only lightly though, but that was enough for the tears to stream down the baby’s face harder than before.

“Peach, I’m sorry, but I can’t seem to calm her down. I fed her, changed her diaper, she’s not sick, I don’t know what’s wrong with her!” His voice was barely audible over the crying, and Samus even had to stand up and move away, keeping her hands over her ears, trying to wash her hangover away.

Peach hushed Chrom, snapping her fingers at him. She jumped over the counter, landing right before Chrom, and taking the baby in her arms.

Chrom eyed her with captivation, scared he might miss a teaching that would serve him later.

"How come you know about babies?" Samus asked from afar, though faintly, not trying to cause herself another headache.

"Reasons", Peach answered with a singsong tone, sticking her tongue to the her friend. "Besides, it's always useful. You never know when one of your mission might request that. Or, a father in training."

After that, she calmly inspected the baby's form, brushing her back with affection to try and soothe her. She put a finger over the girl's stomach and pressed a little, waiting to see if it made her cry harder, which it didn't, so she went on then, looking for a fever, or any kind of wound, but nothing was found.

"Luci, Luci, Luci... what's up with you?" She whispered, voice full of concern, though not getting erratic yet.

Peach headed for one of the tables used to welcome the guild's members after coming home from a mission, the ones holding the guild's stories. These tables had seen unimaginable acts, hadn't they...

"I've got it!" Peach exclaimed, though not too loud, as she lay the child delicately on the wooden surface. "Chrom, come get a look."

As he obediently approached, Peach told him to hold on her as she washed her hand in the kitchen's sink. As soon as she was in front of the child again, she extended two fingers to her mouth and held the child's upper lip open, showing white conglomerates at the tip of the baby's gums.

"She's begun growing her teeth, that's why she's crying. It can hurt, sometimes."

"Oh, that's it? It's all? Can't we do anything about it?"

"Sure we can. Some medicines help reduce the pain, I'll ask Mario for you. You can relax, Chrom. It's natural."

The man, whose hair was messy, whose eyes seemed tired and whose appearance reflected his general state of fatigue, caring for his daughter, still held his head down. That wasn't shame per se, Chrom was rarely ashamed, but more something akin to... disappointment.

"Hey, it's fine!" Peach told him. "You're not a bad father for not knowing this. A bad father wouldn't try to look for help, right?". She paused, waiting for him to respond. "You're doing great, for your daughter. And it's normal to struggle when you're alone. What tells you Robin could've known this better than you? It's her first one as well."

He muttered his thanks, this time, bashfully, and took Lucina back in his arms, holding her close to him.

"Babies usually recognize their parents by smell, so stay by her sides. It'll help her know she's safe." Peach kindly stated.

All of that was executed in front of Samus' awe and Ness' excitement. They had remained mute, frankly surprised by Peach's vast knowledge on the topic. It had become almost common for Chrom to come to the guild during the day, though. Peach gained most of her income as a waitress for the guild, and went on missions when Zelda or Luigi requested help, so rarely, in truth. That is why she kept the guild open all day and cared for the few members having the day off.

Chrom was glad for that. He wasn't a wizard, he had never learned magic, for personal reasons, he claimed. When he met Robin, he was a homeless man trying to find a place to settle. He met her and her brother as they were wandering in the city. At this time, five years ago or so, they were still living together and had went shopping for groceries. Chrom had stumbled upon them, finding the both of them quite attractive.

They had asked him what was wrong. He was homeless, yes, but wore rich clothes whose colors had been washed away. His hair, though neatly cut, was properly dirty. His way of speaking was tinted by a foreign accent, accent that ended up disappearing over time, though he had, at first, many difficulties to express his opinion on the matters at hand, lacking the necessary vocabulary.

In the end, overcoming the awkward love triangle that had been established, Robby and Chrom married.

And five years later, he was a father to Lucina. A baby girl.

The news spread around the guild quickly. Guild members always were fond of family stories, because it felt like their family as well.

That's what you get when you reunite dozens of orphans.

Once everyone had learned Robin was pregnant, they all decided on a plan to help her go through her pregnancy. Because Chrom had to work for the nine months of pregnancy, they both lived in the guild's dormitories for some time. Chrom headed off to work every day, giving a helping hand to the civil workers under the mayor's command.

He earned very little at first, and they lived off both his income and Robin's savings. Once Lucina was born, the remainings of Robin's savings where spent on baby stuff. Everything Mario had advised them to buy was bought, disregarding their poverty entirely.

Robin was then forced to work again, and that is how Chrom found himself househusband, trying to take care of every domestic task so that Robin wouldn't have to. He thought she was tired enough already. She needed a breather.

Peach argued that he also shouldn't overwork himself, but this piece of advice fell on deaf ear. Chrom was the man, or so he claimed, and he would care for his family as long as he was alive.

Peach sighed dramatically when he exited the hall, the crying child had been lulled to sleep, but his shame still shone through.


 

"Pit, get away!" Shulk screamed, activating his magic as fast as he could. A magic circle appeared in front his extended arm, and a burst of magic was launched to the girl, exploding on impact.

Smoke erupted from the explosion, blinding both wizards. Shulk tried to dissipate it, swinging his arm randomly, trying to reach Pit and bring him out of the closet he was being led into.

"This is a trap, Pit! Get off! Get away!"

A bright light was emitted suddenly, and through the cloud of smoke, a hole was pierced, until it vanished entirely, absorbed by Pit's magic. Celestial magic purifies, heals, and sees through illusions. This was no different.

Once the view was clear, Pit understood his friend's words. Mimi, no longer a little girl, had her arms extended weirdly around her. Mechanical gears implemented in her head were rotating at an alarming rate. Buzzing, machine sounds, unnatural echoes were coming from her body. The skin on her limbs began to melt, revealing dark, metallic junctions. Shulk felt Pit's magic instantly disappear as he jumped backwards, scared by the voice echoing from the tremors of the machine's body.

Unrepeatable syllables were uttered, sounds coming from the depth of Hell, shaking the ground and the mansion's foundations.

Shulk needed to act. Pit's magic had worn off, and the smoke was beginning to accumulate again.

His fists lit up in a blue light, and he activated Monado Speed by shouting. Running to Pit, he grabbed his arm and ran to the exit of the Mansion. They knocked over rich furniture, breaking vases and paintings they had never seen before. That caused Pit to worry, somehow still used to being scolded for that back at his mother's house.

When they reached the entrance, it was magically locked. They needed a wait out, now.

Shulk activated his Hyper Speed, and rushed everywhere in the house, trying to find anything that would help them, but when he came back to Pit, it was emptyhanded.

"We have to fight", he told him truhfully, grabbing his shoulders encouragingly. "Pit, you can do this. Alright? She's just a Mechon, my Monado cuts through them easily. We just need you to focus, and calm down. Alright?"

Pit's breathing was jolty. He was panicking, and they didn't need that right now.

"Pit, breathe in, breathe out. We're alright, we can do this."

Seeing his friend's condition worsen got Shulk to have an idea. The Monado, back on his shoulder, shone in a bright, dazzling light. Shulk's body illuminated in the same color, a bluish, comforting tone of light.

And suddenly, as if enchanted, Pit's panic died out. His magic began working again, as if nothing had happened. His full potential was back.

And when Shulk turned around to prepare the attack, Mimi's claws were hurled at him already. Aiming for the sword, the tentacle-like limbs were stopped upon the activation of Shulk’s Monado Shield. The golden barrier woke Pit up, and his magic began to light up again, absorbing the remnants of the smoke and circling around him like a tornado of power.

The claws at the tip of each tentacle tried to pierce through the magical shield, but ultimately, Shulk activated his Hyper Shield, making sure both of them were protected until Pit’s magic kicked in.

We have to aim for the legs”, Shulk exclaimed. “Pit, are you ready?”

Pit nodded.

Another hit from the monster was absorbed and the shield died away, in a burst of blinding yellow shards . He felt like he had went through a swarm of butterflies, except Shulk was already casting another spell. A blue light encapsulated him and he felt his feet leaving the ground, and he contained his surprise and fear, as much as he could.

But it didn’t work.

And his magic died out again.

We need help!” Shulk cried out, noticing the sudden decrease in magic level. “Channel that damn magic...”

Pit knew what he meant. His magic’s downside was a handicap for someone as emotive as him. At two, one could surely win, but not when Pit was the second teammate. He was ashamed.

Can’t you contact the others?” Pit tried bashfully.

I’m no psychic!”

Why?!”

He only realized how dumb he must’ve sounded afterwards.

He had to calm down. He was alright, he could fight it off. He had to be confident. Please, Pit, concentrate... focus...!

Celestial Vault! Blade!”

A bright light emerged from Pit’s hand, small spheres of magic flying all around him, only to be reunited between his hands, which he extended as if presenting something grand. A silhouette emerged from the light, a cubical weapon, gun-like.

He steadied his hands around the still shining item, and as soon as his fingertips reached the metal, a small explosion happened, and the item materialized fully.

Crusader!”

The weapon was stylized around crosses, and the most important one, gleaming in a green light near Pit’s hand, indicated the weapon’s energy storage.

Shulk gaped at Pit’s magic, and then at his movements. The boy was aiming at the beast, powerful energetic shots fired from the weapon. Magic beams twirled around the arm holding the blade , sapping magic out of Pit’s system to channel it through the weapon. The flow seemed imperturbable going on and on without Pit worrying about it, although Shulk could feel how much was actually drained.

I thought you were a celestial wizard!” Shulk cried out, blocking a shot from the monster with his shielding abilities.

Pit didn’t react, or he didn’t hear, as he kept firing his gun relentlessly, moving with magic-propelled jumps around. He was trying to shoot sensitive spots, and Shulk understood he had to take advantage of that diversion. His shots didn’t possibly hurt, but there were enough of a nuisance to allow Shulk to hit with his most powerful abilities. That Mechon would pay for lying to them...

The Monado reacted to his thoughts, lighting up brutally, an ominous, mechanical sound echoing out of it, like a purring engine.

Monado boost, Magic!”

A ball of light appeared at the tip of the blade, flying towards Pit and glowing around his wrist. The magic flow went up, the shots became larger, and the weapon threatened to break apart from the sheer pressure accumulated inside. It radiated with red thunder waves, tickling Pit’s fingertips.

The sword shone in a multicolored rainbow, giving Shulk a fantastical air. The radiating power around him was scary, distracting Pit for some seconds even. Pit tried to keep an eye on his ally, not wanting to misfire his shots, but the power… the magic… it was incredible. There was something akin to an aura around him, a halo, which pulsed with boosting abilities. The nearer Pit jumped to Shulk, the stronger he felt, and the harder he shot. Even his accuracy was somehow enhanced, but that was perhaps just his imagination.

The Monado was glowing brightly, and its user as well, slashing through the monster’s body. Its long legs did not crumble under the blade, but a smell, like fried meat, was dispersed all around its body. The sword extended in a blue light, and for a second, Pit thought he was flying.

Shulk’s energy storage seemed endless. He could touch it, feel it under his fingers, a pool of electricity, an energy he could drain at will.

And suddenly, everything was gone. His Crusader even emitted a small deactivation sound, as if exiting a second, ethereal mode. The magic flow had been concentrated around the Monado, tentacles of power, cycling energy, rotating streams, which, once joined together at the sword’s tip, exploded in the monster, its green, cubical form, torn apart by the incredible vigor of the slice.

A growl coming from the depth of Hell was exhaled by the monster, as it collapsed, its life disappearing into the air, its legs vanishing, like dust blown away by a breeze.

And Pit collapsed.

Chapter Text

When Pit awoke, it wasn’t without pain. His sides were burning, and his lungs, though he could breathe easily, were electrified each time he wanted to move an arm. Some kind of heat dwelt on his forehead, and a hole, an emptiness, as if he had been starved, cried inside his body. It wasn’t hunger, though. He didn’t know.

His eyes were stubbornly closed, and no amount of motivation could change that. He couldn’t move an inch, so he stopped trying after some minutes of struggle. His limbs felt far away, dissociated from his mind, and it was proving difficult to connect to his body. He floated inside his mind, lost in a sea of thoughts and desires.

At some point during his lethargy, voices could be heard. He concentrated on them, as much as he could, but nothing came. No recognizance, no understanding. It felt like an entirely different language, something his tired soul could not possibly comprehend. He grasped some words, however. His name, mostly. Repeated on a desperate tone, on a hitched cadence. The voice was not panicked, though. Perhaps a bit agitated, but that was it.

He felt fingers running on his body. On his forehead was applied a sudden cold source, which eased his mind a bit. His arm was being caressed tenderly, which he realized was quite unusual. Who would give him that kind of affection?

He appreciated it. If he could, he’d curl up against that hand, claim it as his and let it pet him for eternity. He thought about his mother, and the hand slipped away instantly, not coming back on him.

“This must be hard for him”, came a voice, which he understood straightaway, as if everything had become clearer all at once. “I should have thought this through.”

“Don’t get yourself worried”, another one answered. “His body will recover. So will his spirit.”

“It was stupid of me, that’s all.”

“You saved yourselves. It matters most.”

Silence came back, and muffled noises were heard. The soft hand came back on his body, massaging his shoulder, randomly checking his pulse, caressing his cheeks and torso. He didn’t get it. Who was that? Who were they talking about?

“Now don’t get yourself worried.” The first voice added. “Why are you prodding him like that?”

“He’s a child.”

Pit was curious, now. Was this all about him? Who thought of him as a child? He was almost an adult! He had went on his first mission! He had succeeded! He had won!

“He doesn’t have a parent to care for him”, the second voice added. “That is intolerable for me. I won’t let vulnerable children get hurt. Not when I can prevent it. You can understand that, right, Shulk?”

“I can.”

Pit didn’t get the point of their conversation. He was missing something, forgetting something important. A mindblowing fact. He couldn’t get a hold of it, no matter how deep he searched through his memories. What was up with him…?

“I think it’s done.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’ll become the shoulder they can cry on.”

Pit forced himself to open his eyes, once he recognized that speech pattern. This voice. This sweetness, and yet, the melancholy behind the words, the bitter sadness of her ghost tears.

His eyes stayed closed.

“You already try hard, Rosalina. Perhaps you shouldn’t think about such...”

“I won’t tolerate harshness towards them, nor disregard it.”

“Please tell me it’s not because of the Council’s letter you received...”

“The Council is but an obstacle in my way.”

“What do you mean?”

“The Head of the Council wants to reunite the Ten Wizard Saints.”

“And…?”

“The Head of the Council is this angel’s dearest mother. And I will have a word with her.”


“Hey, Rob!” Ike called out to him. “Have you seen Shulk?”

The ex-mercenary walked to his friend nervously, a little box in his hands. He was holding on the item quite carefully, which, somehow, surprised Rob, seeing his distressed state. His untamed hair was even messier than usual, and his cape, which used to be properly ironed and carefully repaired each time a bit went missing, was currently heavily damaged, with shreds of fabric hanging loosely from the ends of it.

“I think he’s with Pit”, the wizard added with faked disinterest, turning his back on Ike once he had answered. He began to walk off, but was caught up by Ike’s broad hand on his shoulder. He frowned.

“Listen, kid. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that the other day. I won’t do it again, alright? Forgive me.”

Rob had an audible sigh, his clenched fists relaxing progressively, until he worked up the courage to turn around and face his friend.

“What do you want with Shulk?”

“Could you give him this chest? It’s from the Council, because the mission was fake, you know. They have to repay what was promised to him and Pit. The Master gave it to me, he’s gone for some days after the Council called the Ten Wizard Saints.”

Rob eyed Ike suspiciously, taking the box from his hands, and holding it close to him, oddly scared something might happen to it. He wanted to make sure Shulk’s belongings were safe. Ike glared at him expectingly, discreetly fidgeting, clearly bothered.

“Alright.”

He kept his sentence sharp and concise. Ike noticed it, winced, even, but made no other attempt to apologize and left, somewhat disgruntled. In truth, Rob accepted his apology, but needed the time to actually forgive him.

He could held grudges.

Or rather, he knew from experience that, unlike his sister, he had difficulties holding others accountable for their misdeeds. It was silly, right? When they were younger, he had the tendency to get bullied, and not getting mad for it. He blamed no one but himself in some way, which always angered his sister dearest, who often unleashed her wrath on the bullies. So he forced himself to hold grudges. He had to stand up for himself, for once.

Younger was a kind word, too. They were something like ten. He couldn’t remember his childhood before that.

And neither could his sister.

They led a weird life, he mused, observing the box in his hands under all its angles. His first memory, or perhaps, more adequately, the first memory he could recall, was that of his sister crying on his shoulder after waking up from… sleep? Coma? They didn’t know.

He had asked her why she was crying, and she had not answered clearly, and later on in life, he had asked again, and she told him she didn’t remember such a thing happening.

How peculiar, right?

He had been, at first, quite perturbed by their condition. What had happened to them? Who were they? Why could no one tell them who they were?

To answer his wonderings, he had begun to read. He had searched through all the books he could find, asked doctors, powerful wizards, to help them retrieve their memories, but nothing ever worked. They were all clueless, and that infuriated Rob at some extent. They all came up with the same pretext: “your magic prevents us from doing it”. Medicasters. The lot of them.

They had joined Smash Bros after meeting with Peach and all these various doctors. She had been kind to them, as she was to everybody. She was some years older than them and had found their pitiful situation heartbreaking. She proposed them to join the guild, because she knew potential when she could see it, and she knew they could use more friends. They hadn’t disagreed. And, deep down, Rob knew that, with some ties to the Great Magic Council, the Master could perhaps help them retrieve their past.

But as time passed, Rob realized how fruitless his efforts had been. There was nothing on them, nobody knew who they were, it was as if they had never existed.

So he gave up trying.

His sister married, got pregnant, and gave birth. Life went on. Though he did not understand her. How could she perpetuate her lineage and not know who stood before her?

That was unthinkable to him.

That enthusiasm towards life had its positive aspects, though. She never worried. She looked forward to the future, she was strong, she had the power to do everything he couldn’t do, and he admired her deeply for that.

He was stuck dwelling on a past that had never been. He was focused on nonexistent parts of themselves.

Shulk was the only help he felt he truly had, apart from his sister’s joyful life. At times, he didn’t feel like himself. As if strings controlled his arms, and a mean, vile voice whispered dark secrets to his ears. Secrets he didn’t want to spill. Facts he never yearned to know. That’s when Shulk came in, his voice full of understanding, and his gestures slow and sweet.

He always knew how to make him feel better, and Rob couldn’t be happier about it.

Thinking about him brought up a hint of sadness in his heart. They had to reconcile. He was well aware he had not been wronged, but Shulk’s drunk behavior had been outrageous, the night before. He knew he never stood a chance with alcohol, he knew he was going to get into a petty fistfight with Richter, and they still agreed on continuing.

Good thing Samus knew how to knock two grown men out with a single snap.

As he climbed up the stairs and put the box in one of his long coat’s pockets, he heard something curious. Someone was crying?

He couldn’t say it was unusual, so many of them had breakdowns, it could be considered routine, but that didn’t mean he shouldn’t help the poor soul. Once he reached the end of the staircase, he glanced around a bit, trying to locate the person in need. It was faint, very faint, but Rob trusted his hearing, and followed meticulously, ignoring the cracks of the wood under his feet or the vague laughter coming from the main hall. He focused hard enough to reach a door, one he had rarely been to, then, instinctively, he knocked.

Why he had, he could not say. He wanted to help, but perhaps indulging in someone else’s affairs was rude. He didn’t want to be rude.

He replaced his hair as he waited for the door to open. The faint crying stopped meanwhile, and when finally, someone greeted him at the door, Rob realized how much he may have fucked up. He shouldn’t have been here, he shouldn’t have been here, he…

“Hi, Link.”

Link was a very private person. Or perhaps intimate was a better word.

By that, it was to be understood that, although he kept numerous secrets, although no one really knew what had happened to him, although he had problems communicating, he was very, very close to his few friends. Not that he was unkind by any means, but people found it hard to keep up with him.

Thing is, Link’s muteness always installed this barrier between him and strangers. Rob knew this, because he was one of the people who understood sign language, Link’s main way of communication.

So Rob had become his friend, somehow forced by his knowledge. Link was always prone to touching, to hugging, to cuddling, which put Rob in such an embarrassed state that he, most of the time, avoided him purely.

“This is not your usual room… Did you switch place?” Rob wondered. He didn’t think Link would be the one crying.

Although he had witnessed it before.

“The old one required fixing, the Master said” Link signed. “So he put me there.”

“Oh, I see. Are you alright?”

“Yes.”

Rob smiled faintly, a random air of melancholia tinted his face, and uncontrollably, he asked:

“Why were you crying?”

Link’s discomfort grew stronger. He fidgeted with his hands, seeming jumpy all of a sudden, and was looking around to make sure they were alone.

“It happens”, he answered truthfully.

“Do you need help?”

“No, thank you.”

It wasn’t meant harshly. Link smiled warmly as he said this, because as close as he was to Rob, it wasn’t enough to allow him in on his sadness.

He stayed unmoving then, glaring at Rob sheepishly. He didn’t know what to do, and Rob wasn’t any better at this.

In the end, Link hugged him tightly and pecked his cheek unabashedly before retreating to his room, in a comforting silence. Rob smiled fondly at the closed door, and when he decided to head back to his own quarters, he met a pair of eyes he had grown to like. To love.

And Shulk seemed downright furious.


“Lucas, I find you very brave for accepting to celebrate it”, Peach told the boy in a sweet voice, far from the others. “I’m proud of you! Look at the smiles you’ve put on people’s faces!”

And as her arm wandered to each of the Smashers, Lucas found himself agreeing. That news did bring back happiness in their home, and he was glad to be distracted from his sad thoughts again. There was this swelling emotion in his stomach, like butterflies, or fireflies, something grand, something powerful, which traveled from the depths of his soul to surface in his smile or in the sparks of his eyes.

“I’ve heard from Ness you’ve been staying in your room a lot more than usual. You know, if you ever want to speak, I’m here for you”, Peach smiled to him as she spoke, caressing his shoulder tenderly. “I can’t say I understand what you feel, but I’m a good listener.” She stopped there, carefully wondering on her next choice of words, and proceeded with another hint of sweetness added to her voice: “We’re in a guild. Burdens aren’t supposed to weigh you down. You can share them with us.”

She knew Lucas would not open up, not now, and perhaps never, but she had these vain hopes that, someday, the boy would cease thinking about the past endlessly. This was an arduous task, that is why she didn’t press the matter further, but the thought remained. She hoped.

She hoped for everyone.

She led him to find an occupation, they had to put on decorations for his birthday after all, and left him to his new activity. He’d do just fine, like everything he does, she was not worried.

Something else entirely was on her mind, now. Pit and Rosalina wouldn’t be there for the child’s birthday, and that she found outright unacceptable. Not in a harsh way, of course. She blamed the odds for making Rosalina leave and for hurting Pit this much. She did ask Mario to help him out, so he’d be able to come to the festivity, but he had claimed his state was concerning enough, and that too much activity would worsen his situation. He had woken up a week ago, and was feeling quite well, or so he claimed. His body had begun producing magic again, so he gained more energy with each passing day.

That was a relief. To everyone.

And Rosalina… well, that was a shame, but she did have duties and a reputation to uphold. She told Peach herself about her plan to meet with Pit’s mother, and she can’t say she had agreed to it, but Rosalina was a prime example of stubbornness, so she didn’t intervene. If Pit’s mother’s answer wasn’t adequate, then Rosalina would simply not tell her where the boy was, and would never inform the boy of her visit. Peach still found it risky, but the situation had to be cleared up somehow, and this was a way of doing it.

As she headed for the bar’s counter, where she had stocked some gift wraps and other accessories they could use to decorate, she was called out by Chrom.

Once again.

“What is it, Chrom?” She inquired lightly, hiding her irritation under a well-mannered smile. “Is there something wrong with Lucina?”

“Not this time around. Peach, I have something quite important to talk about, and I figured you’d be the best person to talk to.”

Peach didn’t flinch, and she almost praised herself for her self-control. She was always the best person to talk to. It could get annoying, indeed. Looking around them, seeing everyone busying themselves with something, noticing how Chrom was far enough not to be heard by the others, she focused back on him with a false air of serenity.

“I want… I would like to… I want to propose to Robin.”

That one had her flinch. Peach gasped silently, a hand on her mouth to cover her surprise, and then, her excitement. Forgetting all about her exasperation, she took Chrom’s hands in hers and jumped excitedly, making a fuzz out of it.

Of course she would.

That was her first wedding! The first one she’ll ever witness! It was something to rejoice about!

Lucina, stuck in the baby carrier Chrom usually wore, was throwing her hands in the air, her little fists gently tapping on her father’s shoulders. She yawned once, and he patted her head softly, before she closed her eyes and dozed right off.

“Calm down!” Chrom hissed at Peach then. “Don’t warn anyone with your squealing!”

“I’m definitely not squealing”, Peach countered a bit ironically. “But Chrom, this is wonderful news. Since when have you wanted to…?”

“Well, for two months now. It took me one month to work up the courage to ask her, and then, well… Lee... I couldn’t simply… ask then. But I feel like tomorrow’s night’s a good time to do it. You organize Lucas’ party, so I thought, maybe, you could save some time for me in your planning so I can propose. In front of everyone.”

“That’s so romantic! And it’s the best occasion, for sure. Trust me, I’ll give you all the time you need. Right before dinner should be a good time, right?”

Chrom nodded and blushed suddenly, realizing the implications of what he had said. Peach squealed, for real this time, and before she left, she kissed his cheek and brushed Lucina’s hair affectionately, ensuring she wouldn’t wake her up.

This party will be the best thing she’ll ever organize and that everyone here will ever attend.

Rosalina had to come back in time for dinner.

She’d love the proposal.


From afar, in the room, Samus was drinking. Again might become redundant, but Samus had her reasons, and no one even thought of questioning her. It has been a while since she had been on a mission, the last one had been her duo with Rosalina, before Pit’s arrival, if she recalls correctly, but she had the money to relax a bit, now, and observe.

Sipping on her honey Tasty Tonic, she absentmindedly listened to Mac’s rambling. The boy had grown fond of her, and she must admit, she found that endearing. If only she were able to look at him in the eyes without breaking a vertebra.

Seated on the counter’s stools, he had been telling her about his career as a boxer, and she had had half a heart to fake listen. When he called out to her, she glared at him gravely, gesturing vaguely to shut up. She was not interested in his stories, she knew he was trying to flirt, or perhaps he had given up half an hour ago, but something else caught her attention, and that was the unusual company in the cheerful crowds of the guild.

Smash Bros was a very peculiar guild, to say the least. Guilds tended to amass more people. They were, oftentimes, the crossroads of travelers in need of work and helped the local economy flourish thanks to the attractiveness they created. Guilds offered protection and shelter, while helping the locals, which, in turn, favored merchandises’ transportation and population renewal. This was all positive to the economy, of course, and Smash Bros was no exception to that rule. However, Smash Bros was a small guild.

With around thirty wizards in it, this was one of the smallest guild of the continent, but also the most terrifying. That is why no guild was to be found in an area of approximately two hundred kilometers around Smash Bros, its influence was indubitable. After all, it had enrolled mighty fighters, who made it quite easily on the Koopa Kronicle’s list of the “100 most powerful wizards”, and one of the Ten Wizard Saints represented the guild during upper class meetings or when the Council wanted to advertise the guilds.

But… although the guild was small, although its members were all acquainted to one another in some way, there were a few exceptions to this. Outcasts who needed money, but not company.

That was one of these specimens that Samus was glaring at. She knew his name, but that was all.

Cloud Strife.

The man was never seen during the weeks, only came back for the compulsory “relaxing times” the Master imposed to everyone, but he always made sure to leave promptly during the night, and that had Samus interested. Not worried per se, but curious, perhaps.

She just knew there was something off about him, and she also was well aware that she was the most clear-minded person in this guild, so she might as well investigate a bit.

Of course, this wasn’t an abrupt idea she had gotten. She’s been observing him for a while now, respecting his privacy nonetheless. She did manage to grasp some info, but mainly obvious stuff, like his foreign accent. He came from another continent, the one she guessed was overseas, a land of plenty which housed many nations of power and wealth. He had difficulties speaking with people in general, and she supposed he didn’t speak their language quite well yet. The only discussion she’s ever had with him was about the Council’s taxing mercenaries like him more than ever before.

Wizards were considered mercenaries when they completed, in a short time span, numerous missions alone. Cloud was the prime example of this. She had observed him take random mission reports to analyze them. Once he found something worthy, or perhaps something he purely understood, he’d go, and would come back a week after, going to the baths with the other men, or sparring with Shulk, or, well, celebrate Lucas’ birthday, it seemed.

Mac had shut up, finally, deciding to talk to Ryu instead, who was a much better listener, in the end. And they had fighting techniques to fanboy about, so she didn’t feel an ounce of remorse.

Her eyes were still roaming the room, looking at Cloud helping out in friendly ways she had never witnessed before. That got her to squint, where was this all coming from? Regularly checking in on Peach, making sure the decorations were in place, with a small smile, a ridiculous upwards twitch of the lips, when he thought no one was looking.

His clothes were that of an emigree, but Samus had to say, she didn’t remember the Niflheim style as Cloud wore it. A long, dark cape, which fell from his shoulders in a cascade of poor fabric. There used to be a silver, or perhaps gold, outline, but it had been washed away. His woolly turtleneck tanktop (seriously, who crafted such outfits?) used to be bluer, she guessed, but same old thing, the clothing had lost its colors with time. His large, unfitted pants, were stuck inside his leather boots, which were not closed to the top, and left him with this air of slovenliness. His hair appeared unkempt, and his behavior as a whole didn’t seem that tidy. Samus couldn’t make out if it was dirt on his ear, or a simple earring. He was just coming back from a mission, that must be it.

Once she emptied her glass, she rose up from her seat, walking to the man with determination. She tapped her hand on his shoulder, and easy as that, he turned to face her.

“Cloud, I need your help with something.”

He didn’t expect this to be a friendly chat. He knew better. They both knew better.

“And what mights the powerful Samus Aran want of me?”

“It’s ‘might’. We’ll talk somewhere calmer. Come with me.”

His tone had not been disdainful, but sarcastic of course. Samus knew he was an S-rank wizard, as she was, and she also knew he was not one for petty fights, but his ego could get the best of him sometimes. Oftentimes.

That is how he ends up fighting more than necessary during the Master’s training sessions.

She led him to the back of the kitchens, where nothing had been readied yet. Peach said she’d begin with the preparations in the evening, so they had some time before anyone would think of coming there.

Although they received some odd, sideways looks from Ike and his team, they went on their merry way, until, finally, everyone was out of sight.

“Cloud, I’ve got some sort of mission for you.”

“I don’t work freely.”

Samus can’t say she had not anticipated this. As a wonderful mercenary herself, she’d never complete a mission without a reward. She had expected it, and was fully ready to pay him for his services, which she explained carefully and slowly, to make sure he understood her every word.

He glared at her warily, listening closely to what she had to say. He nodded when it was required, and asked her to repeat when he didn’t get it.

“I have to infiltrate the Council this night?”

“I want you to go there and find out what Rosalina’s doing.”

“Can’t you ask her yourselve?”

“I’m afraid she’ll never talk about what she’ll discover. I feel it. The Ten Wizard Saints have been called for emergency reasons, so something’s definitely going on there, and she said she’d meet with Pit’s mother.”

“Pit? Who is that?”

“The newbie here.”

Cloud nodded gravely, almost in a sinister fashion, which made Samus tense up next to him. He was taking this seriously, she was glad.

“And the Council won’t let her say what will be told there. They like their secrecy, so we need a way to talk about it. Together.”

“They’re not the enemy. What they want to tell, they will tell. Why are you being worried?”

“Rosalina’s in a weird mood. She’s… vulnerable. And she has great amounts of power she rarely uses. Remember when the Council threatened to destroy the Witches’ homeland?”

“They did. They destroyed it.”

“Well… the attack needed resources and energy, so… Rosalina had to unlock the Star Beacon’s potential for them to use. They’ll never back down from more power. They’ll try to get their hands on anything deemed worthy, and Rosalina, I’m afraid, won’t see the subterfuge in her misery.”

Cloud reflected for a bit. He remained silent, a hand on his chin, his glare lost in the grayness of the kitchen’s tiles.

“Is it because she lost her boy?”

“So you have been made aware.”

“I’m not contactless with the guild.”

“Figures. You spend your weeks away. What takes up all this time?”

“I’m not there for questions. You gave me a mission alright, now how will you get me paid?”

“70.000 golds.”

“You want me to infiltrate the Council during night when it’s guarded, to hide from the Ten Wizard Saints and Head to the Council, to learn what they’re doing, and you’re offering seventy only?” He had emphasized each item on the list with a finger.

“70.000 golds now, and 150.000 more upon completion and success of the mission. You need money, you’re always working. That would help greatly, wouldn’t it?”

Cloud’s eyes widened, and he grabbed her own arm, which he himself put on his forehead.

“Deal.”

Samus watched him execute his foreign ritual, and laughed lightly to herself. He rose up and was about to leave promptly, only for Samus’ voice to call out to him again.

“Hey, Cloud. For real, where are you from?”

He turned back to face her, and with a strange smile plastered over his face, he answered truthfully, using his mother tongue, using a language he hadn’t heard in years: “From Nibelheim.”

“Niflheim?” She echoed pensively. “Have you ever taken language lessons before coming there?”

“Thanks, but I don’t think I need some.”

“Any.”

He raised one eyebrow tentatively, then waved her off and walked to the main doors of the guild, leaving the kitchen and stepping into the hall’s light. He flashed her a cocky grin before exiting, the doors closing on him.

She hadn’t given him his money yet.

What the hell had he understood in her words?


“You know how Link is”, Rob spoke with haste. “You know he tends to do this kind of stuff, it’s not on me!”

“I don’t care what you did with Link”, Shulk countered with a placid tone, which contrasted with the grip he had on his own arm. “I’m not angry because of that. Don’t justify yourself.”

“What are you mad at, then?”

“Me. Mainly me.”

“Yourself?”

There was a silence, until Shulk sat on the bed, toying with his necklace nervously. He stopped at once, and then looked at Rob.

“I’m sorry I almost git Pit killed on his first mission. I’m sorry I drank with Richter. This is not weird, right? It just… happened. It’s been one week, Rob. Forgive me.”

Rob sighed, putting his hands on his knees. The back of this chair will kill him soon, he could swear.

“It’s not weird, it’s… not you. I know you don’t like drinking, you know you can’t handle drinking, and, more than that, you told me off like you knew more than me. But I’m the one picking you up in the mornings, I’m the one staying by your side when you’ve got it bad, and I’m the one who tries to convince you not to do it again the following night. It gets tiring.”

“I’m sorry. That’s what I came here for. I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.”

“That’s quite the promise. Listen, I don’t mind you drinking. You’re an adult, you do you, but I’d prefer if you didn’t go over the top with it. Richter’s an alcoholic, and Samus drowns her sorrow in her beverages. What do you drink for?”

Robin fidgeted, overly uncomfortable on his chair. He put a hand on Shulk’s shoulder, and sighed deeply.

“Is there anything that makes you unhappy? I can help with it.”

Shulk doesn’t answer immediately, and Rob takes it as an offer to go on.

“It’s new, moreover. You didn’t use to do that. What changed? In the end, it’s alright if you’re casually feeling down. I mean I understand. And I mean you’re not alone.”

Shulk’s knuckles whitened as he gripped his pants eagerly, and all at once, he threw his arms around Rob’s neck, resting his head on the other man’s chest, listening to the soft beating of his heart and the rising of his body along with his breathing.

“I’m sorry”, he repeated in a muffled voice. “I’m not ready to talk about it.”

Robin patted his head awkwardly and waited a bit, before continuing:

“Who else are you mad at, then?”

“Sorry?” Shulk whimpered, standing back up, only to sit on Rob’s lap afterwards.

“You said ‘mainly me’. Who else got you angry?” Robin caressed over Shulk’s cheeks with his thumbs, in a delicate manner, on a steady, slow rhythm.

“Oh. Uhm, yeah… we got a little problem on our hands.”

“Is it about Pit? Is he alright?.”

“Yeah, he is. It’s about him, somehow. Rosalina decided to throw hands with the Council.”

“She what?”

“She said she’d speak with Pit’s mom, and… I’m not sure she should, really.”

“But that would be telling his mom of his whereabouts… when we swore of protecting him”, Rob analyzed. “She can’t do this!”

“I tried to stop her. I even got Samus to intervene, but you know how she gets when she has one of her genial ideas.”

“She usually carries it to the end and then something is ruined.”

Shulk nodded wordlessly, his arm placed over Rob’s shoulders, playing with his hair.

Silence fell over them. Rob wanted to fulminate, he really wanted things to go back to normal. Since Lee died, nothing else mattered but Rosalina’s sanity. If she went crazy, the guild would definitely lose it’s first place in the Official Guild Ranking list. And more than that, it would destroy their family, the family they had built over the years. If she left, then somebody would necessarily follow. Domino effect. One after another. They couldn’t afford to lose a member, any one leaving would cause great consequences.

“Can you still use that invisibility spell?” Shulk wondered absentmindedly, looking up to the ceiling with faked naivety.

“I can...” Rob answers, uninterested, lost in thoughts.

“So get ready. We’re setting off tomorrow.”

“Shulk, we’re not...” His tired voice trailed off.

“We’re getting to her before she can speak with that woman. Or we think up a plan to prevent the Head of the Council from speaking with Rosalina.”

“But she must have reached the Council already. When did she leave?”

“She only left right after noon. We can catch up with her if we use one of the cars we can rent.”

“What tells you the Head of the Council isn’t already there too, waiting for her arrival?”

“I know. I just know. Grab your tomes. We’re off.”

Shulk jumped to his feet and headed for the door, shortly followed by Rob locking his room up and running after his boyfriend in the corridor.

“Now it’s our time.”

“You didn’t say it correctly.” Rob huffed with his jerky, breathless voice. “That’s not the phrase!”