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Old Guard

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Meta Knight never gave any warning when he visited King Dedede. One moment, the king was watching the sun set over the sea all by himself, and the next, his old friend was by his side.

"I presume the treaty with Hyness went well?"

The warrior went straight to business, as always. Dedede put a hand on his shoulder pad. "Good to hear you're doing well, buddy. And yeah, Hyness is getting back to normal, though it was the lightning wizard I mostly talked to."

"Mage, your highness. They are mages, not wizards. Powerful magic-users take the difference very seriously."

"I guess."

The king sat down on the floor. It was more comfortable being on the same level with Meta Knight than looking down at him.

"Can you really believe it? Void Termina defeated, for real this time. I thought Kirby wouldn't have to fight him for centuries."

"But he was ready." There was a flash of pride in Meta Knight's voice.

"Heh... yeah, he was. I never thought much of him until that food storage project, but you were right from the get-go."

"He thought you were stealing from him, as if everything out on the ground was his."

"What I've gotta do to feed my waddle dees."

There was a moment of silence as the two remembered the adventures the pink puffball had gotten them into.

"Hey, Meta Knight, you ever think of retirin'?"

"Like you? Until Kirby can pilot the Halberd and manage its crew, someone has to keep watch over the skies."

"Imagine that little puffball talkin'. It's hard to believe sometimes that you were just like him."

"I was never pink. I had more dignity than him, even as a baby."

Dedede tried to imagine a brooding Kirby that looked like Meta Knight and said "Poyo" with a serious tone and expression.

The knight narrowed his eyes at the snickering penguin. "I would ask, but I suspect it would be embarrassing."

"Aw, don't worry about it. I'm sure you were a mighty fine fighter even then."

"Speaking of Kirby's kind, have you heard the rumors about a 'Keeby'?"

"Oh, that old 'second Kirby' urban legend? I don't think there's anything to it. If there was another one o' him, we'd hear about food shortages all over the place!"

"Ah. I suppose I am out of the loop."

"Hey, it's good to look into these things. You were right about Marx, weren't ya?"

"Yes, I was." The knight chuckled softly. "Although imposing martial law may not have been the best way to prepare."

"Oh, yeah." Dedede pointed out into the ocean. "That's where Kirby sent your Halberd into the sea, right?"

"Yes. I confess, you were not alone in underestimating him."

"Poyo!"

The two looked behind them to see Kirby entering the balcony.

"Haaaiiiiii!"

Dedede's heart melted at the sheer adorableness. Meta Knight's defrosted a little bit. "Hello, Kirby."

The small hero examined the warrior for several seconds before giving him a big hug.

"Why do you regard me this way? I have never been warm towards you. My mask is cold and hard, so I cannot be comfortable to hug."

"Poyo!" Kirby chirped contentedly, keeping his grip, and Meta Knight sighed.

"Hey, Kirby. How're you doin'?"

The puffball released Meta Knight, who untensed visibly. "Dedee!"

The king smiled and searched his robes for a snack. "Hey, you hungry? You want an apple?"

"Appu!"

Kirby opened his mouth, and something that felt more like gravity than a rushing of air yanked the apple out of Dedede's hand and into Kirby's mouth.

The king smiled. "Hey, Meta Knight. You ever think of using copy abilities again?"

"I see no need. Galaxia is capable of deafeating almost any foe, and the access I have to Tornado and Wing serve my purposes nicely. I believe that Kirby, one day, will also cease to need copy abilities."

"Huh..." Dedede tried to imagine Kirby with just one or two powers, and it didn't fit at all.

"I must be going." Meta Knight unfurled his cape and spread his wings.

"Hey, it was nice catching up."

The bat-winged knight looked back at him.

"...yes, it was."

Then he was off into what was now night.

The king looked back to see Kirby doing a little dance with a couple of waddle dees. It was too cute for words, and he leaned back with a big smile on his face.

Maybe tomorrow, Dark Matter would attack, or insect aliens would invade, mole people would attack, or any number of catastrophes would happen. But King Dedede had learned to appreciate the quiet moments in Dream Land, when old allies took a moment to catch up, and sweet puffballs played, and all of Popstar was peaceful.

Life was good.