He used to like storms, particularly the brutal ones that made the heavens rumble, force trees to lose their branches, blind the world with flashes of blinding light. He used to like the reverberations coursing through his body and the mad drumming of torrential rain upon whatever surface was keeping him dry. It used to be comforting. It kept him awake, Meta Knight more than happy to sit outside and watch.
Jecra never liked storms, complaining that he can't sleep with all the claps and rumbling. Garlude turned the fish over above the fire, turning towards the entrance of the cave, the overhang protecting them from the majority of the rain. They managed to make a decent covering for the entrance, the supports holding up against the violent winds. Meta Knight stood by it, gazing through the pockets of space to the raging storm outside.
Lightning flashed and blinded the world, followed by a harsh crackle of thunder. Meta Knight almost shuffled a little closer.
"Meta, come sit by the fire. A drenched and shivering knight doesn't rest well." Garlude called, Meta Knight reluctantly walking back and sitting down.
"You know, if you can unfurl those wings right as lightning flashes, you can scare the everlovin' stars out of our enemies." Jecra suggested, grinning as he tossed his mask towards his sleeping bag. He turned the fish skewered on a stick over. "Especially if we do it from a tall height. Your glowing eyes already scare the little recruits on base." Meta Knight's eyes turned a shade of pink then green, rubbing his chin in thought.
"Hm… that's not a bad idea..."
"If you two get sick from trying to do theatre outside, I'm not letting you guys back in to save myself." Garlude teased, biting a chunk out of her skewer. Jecra pouted, tearing away at his now-cooked fish as Meta Knight turned towards the entrance again. "Hey Meta, you want some?" He blinked and turned his attention back, Garlude holding out some meat bits on a stick. Whatever animal they came from, he didn't really care.
"Oh, thank you." Taking his mask off, he ate, joining in with Jecra and her conversations. They chatted until the fire became dim embers, crackling here and there. Garlude rolled out her sleeping bag as Jecra more or less collapsed onto his, exhaling. Meta Knight went towards the entrance, whistles of howling winds making it through the cracks. "I'll take first watch. You guys get some rest."
"Don't wanna snuggle up with us? I'm hurt, Mety!" Jecra cried, flailing his arms around.
"Cheating on us for Mother Nature, how could you?" Garlude barely managed to stifle her giggle, Meta Knight groaning and moving faster towards the entrance. "Here, in case you start to get sleepy." She tossed over a chocolate bar, receiving back a nod of thanks. "Good night, Meta."
"Good night to you two." He said with a smile, sitting down to begin cleaning his mask. Garlude snuffed and extinguished the last of the fire, shuffling into her bag and falling asleep. Jecra was snoring within minutes. He turned his attention back towards the storm roaring outside, drinking in the wonderous concert nature has set forth. His hands idly polished the mask, glittering white eyes shining as another flash of lightning covered the sky.
Meta Knight took a shuddering breath, opening his eyes with a heavy sigh escaping. The storm outside raged and howled, globs of rain splattering against the windows. He loathed sleeping during such weather, on top of his reluctance to sleep in the first place. Claps of thunder were accompanied by fleeting memories he so dearly wished to forget, crackling powerful rumbles akin closer to cut-off screaming. His mind seemed to run more rampantly, more uncontrolled, something he didn't want to take to sleep.
Sword and Blade have fallen asleep long ago, Meta Knight hearing the faint snoring coming from the adjacent room. Though they had their fair share of night terrors, they always had each other to get through it and return to a more peaceful state. He couldn't lie, he envied a little at how despite their past, they could sleep so peacefully.
No use wishing for things that aren't going to come true. Getting a book and sitting down, he tried to get immersed into whatever fantasy world written out. A loud thud, Meta Knight wincing and shutting his eyes; he waited for the ringing in his ears to subside, taking a deep breath and raising the book once more. Something about a kingdom in the sky, intertwined with long thick vines? His eyes more or less glossed over the words and absorbed nothing.
He would hope that the storm will pass relatively quickly, but he already could tell he was in for a long night. Nothing new. Turning the page, he skimmed through the words once more, considering getting a different book. A deep rumble of thunder crawled through the walls, this time only just making him tense up.
Knock knock. He blinked, lowering the book. Knock knock. Who would be up at this hour? Setting it down, he went and opened up the door, surprised when he was greeted with an all-too familiar pink puffball wrapped up in their favorite star-patterned blue blanket. Drenched. And shivering.
"Kirby, did you just walk through the courtyard to get here?" The hanging silence said enough, Kirby staring at the ground.
"... pu poyo…?" Meta Knight sighed, picking them up and closing the door. Bringing Kirby to the bathroom, he dried off the excess water with a towel, peeling the wet blanket off of them. They whined slightly as their source of warmth was gone, Meta Knight bringing them back out and handing over his blanket.
"I'm going to wash this, who knows what you picked up dragging it outside. Stay here and don't touch anything. Get warm." Kirby immediately balled themselves up in his blanket with a happy poyo, flopping down on the carpet. "There's the bed, you know." Nope, they didn't seem to take notice. Taking their blanket out, Meta Knight searched for a Waddle Dee, sticking to the walls as the storm outside raged on.
What was Kirby thinking, walking outside in a storm like this? He was surprised they didn't get blown away. They were staying with Fumu and Bun tonight on account of the weather, but why did they come to his room, come to his room through the courtyard of all things?
He located a Waddle Dee, giving a few quick instructions. They nodded and took the blanket, already rushing off towards the laundry room. As he turned back, a particularly harsh flash of lightning seared through the castle, Meta Knight instinctively freezing. He shut his eyes, taking a shuddering deep breath a the wall-shaking clap of thunder rang in his ears.
Deep breath in. Deep breath out. In, out. The screaming in his ears will subside soon. At least it was just his hearing, he can keep it decently together if it was just that. In, out. In… out…
He wearily shut the door, blinking as a ball of blue shot across the room and latched onto his side. He patted the top of the ball, a muffled whimper leaking through the fabric.
“Did the thunder scare you?” Something that felt like a nod. He sometimes really forgets Kirby is a baby, one born 200 years too early. “Come on, you can sleep in my bed if you’d like. It is more comfortable than the carpet, I assure you.” Trying to walk with a puffball attached to his side wasn’t the easiest, but he managed to peel Kirby off and set them down, blanket still wrapped around. A smaller rumble of thunder came around, Kirby burrowing into the pillow and whining.
They really are a baby…
“Try to get some rest. It is far easier to sleep through a storm than hide through one.” Kirby poked their head out, patting the spot next to them rapidly. “You want me to sit next to you?” Two hard pats, Meta Knight sighing and shrugging. It wasn’t like he had anything better to do, he might as well keep watch over Kirby. Taking off his pauldrons and sabatons, he hung the two up, setting Galaxia on her stand. Sitting down next to Kirby, they immediately grabbed at his cape and shoved themselves underneath, jumping at another rumble. “There’s nothing to be afraid of. It is just the weather.”
“I understand, it can be quite frightening.” He picked up one of the books he kept by the bed, Kirby glancing up and patting his hand.
“Poyo pu po.”
“I rather not sleep, if that’s okay with you.” A blink, Kirby repeating what they said. “I don’t want to sleep. That’s all.”
“Pu poyo! Meba!”
“I know what I said, you can sleep. I’m not going to.” Kirby didn’t seem to like his answer, tugging at his arm insistently. “You are more than welcome to sleep through the storm. I am not.”
“Meba sleep! Sleep sweet dweams!” Ah, that’s why Kirby liked sleeping so much. He supposed that’s why everybody liked sleeping, for the chance of lovely peaceful dreams.
“Truth be told, I do not particularly enjoy sleeping, especially on nights like these.” They blinked, as if unable to comprehend the idea that somebody didn’t like sleeping. “I… don’t have what you would call sweet dreams.” Kirby lowered their gaze, staring at the bed in a strange form of focus. They suddenly jumped to their feet, not even thunder stopping their face scrunching up in horror realization.
“Bad dweams?!” That was the nicest way of putting it, he guessed. Meta Knight shrugged.
“I don’t mind not sleeping, I have done it for a very long time-”
“No! No no no!” Kirby protested, waving their paws frantically. They scanned the room, squinting in the darkness.
“Kirby, what are you-” A bright flash shot through the room, Meta Knight immediately shutting his eyes and tightening his fists around the blanket as thunder crackled and rang in his head. Deep breath in. Deep breath out. Let it pass, let it fade to a dull ping in the back of the head. Eyes open only brought visions of wounded regrets. Eyes closed at least granted some kind of shield.
“Meba…” He shakily opened his eyes, Kirby resting their paws below his mask’s eyes.
“Kirby, please, just go to sleep. The storm will be over when you wake up.” He mumbled, holding out his cape. Kirby instead hopped off the bed, running over to the closet. He followed their gaze to the candy jar sitting on top; his little stash, meant for concentration purposes and when he wanted to reward himself after a long day of dealing with whatever problems Dedede made.
Taking in a big gulp of air, Kirby floated on up, grabbing the jar and exhaling to drop back down. They ran back, hopping onto the bed and unscrewing the top. They must have gotten hungry and looked for any food in his room.
“You can have some.” Knowing the child, they would probably just inhale the entire jar. “I can buy some tomorrow.”
“Yep, it’s candy.” Kirby held the jar out toward him.
“Candy!” They repeated, giving it a little shake as if he couldn’t see it.
“Do you want me to pick one out for you?” Kirby shook their head, shaking the jar more vigorously. The brightly wrapped sweets clinked against the glass walls, hard fruity candies and chewy caramels. “I can see the jar, Kirby.”
“Candy!” They stuck their paw in and grabbed a handful, thrusting it in front of Meta Knight’s face. “Candy! Candy happy!”
“You can eat those-”
“No!” He blinked. Kirby refused food, refused candy of all things? They took out another handful, ignoring the ones spilling all over the bed. They hit the candy against his mask, right around the area his mouth would be. “Candy happy, Meba happy!” They said, another flash of lightning warning the roar that would follow. Meta Knight tried to not scrunch up, though his hands gripping the blankets did not go unnoticed. Kirby’s face fell, pressing a chocolate against his mask. “Candy. Candy happy.” They pressed it again. “Sweet dweams!”
“Kirby…” He sighed, closing his eyes. He, a Star Warrior that is living into his thousands, fought for his life from the very beginning, only capable of having nightmares with all he’s seen… being comforted by a child that defaults to food 90% of the time. “Kirby… why don’t you just go to sleep?”
“Meba sad.” He froze, Kirby staring at him earnestly, holding the chocolate candy out. They scrunched their face up in concentration, taking a deep breath. “Candy happy... so Meba not sad, okay?” They babbled, pressing the sweet against his mask one more time. He could barely process the words, another thud of thunder shaking the walls.
“Candy seems to make you happy, so why don’t you have one before bed?” She held her hand out, a chocolate wrapped in bright plastic.
“Meba Kni? Meba?” He hastily blinked, eyes burning. Kirby patted at the mask strap, Meta Knight reluctantly unclipping his mask and setting it underneath Galaxia. He took the now very-squished chocolate and slowly unwrapped it, placing it into his mouth. The sweet and slightly bitter rush somehow made his hands squeeze the blankets less, Kirby wiping at his cheeks and face. Oh. His eyes were burning because he was crying. “Poyo pu…?” They asked worriedly. He smiled, shaking his head.
“No, no… I’m quite alright now. Thank you, Kirby.” He patted their head. “Help yourself to some candy, you deserve some sweet dreams.” Kirby smiled wide and grabbed the candy jar, pausing and taking out a sweet caramel. They held it out for him, Meta Knight taking it graciously and unwrapping the thin cover. He watched as Kirby immediately inhaled half of the jar, chewing with reckless abandon and absolute delight. Plastic wrappers were strewn all over the floor, but he’ll clean them up in the morning.
Once they had their fill, they shuffled back underneath his cape, brightly smiling and tugging on his arm.
“Sleep! Sweet dweams!” Kirby happily wished, wrapping themselves up in a cozy burrito. Meta Knight pulled the blankets over, tucking them in. “Pu poyo poyo!”
“Alright, alright, I will close my eyes too.” Lying down, he closed his eyes, feeling the too-familiar shudder of void behind his eyelids; his daste for sleep was already scuttling into his mind. Two soft paws rested on his cheeks, giving two little pats.
“Sweet dweams, no sad.” Kirby whispered, snuggling right on up. Meta Knight managed to reach out and rest his arm over them, feeling Kirby’s peaceful rise up and down. He tried to follow, his restless sleep soon evening out into deep breaths.
“Candy?” Garlude nodded, Meta Knight squinting at the little sweet treat.
“You always take first watch.”
“I don’t mind it.”
“Except for the fact first watch usually means all-night watch.”
“I don’t mind it.” Garlude sighed, sitting down next to Meta Knight. He turned his eyes away, his sword resting in his lap. The storm tonight wasn’t that bad, just some light rain.
“Meta, how much do you really sleep?”
“... However long my body decides to remain passed out.” He murmured, picking up the rag and beginning to clean his sword again. Garlude reached over and took the rag, shaking her head. “You know I don’t like sleeping.”
“You need to rest, and better it be when we’re safe in shelter than traveling out in the open.” She held the chocolate out again, nudging Meta Knight’s arm. “Come on… just try.” Meta Knight sighed, taking the treat and unraveling it. Popping it into his mouth, he didn’t really care that it was a little dry and more bitter than he liked, chocolate was chocolate. It was still very delicious, after spending weeks eating bland food and army rations.
“... I’ll go sleep by the corner, I don’t want to disturb Jecra.”
“He won’t mind, don’t worry.” She smiled, patting him on the back. “The fire is cozy, go sleep. Sweet dreams.” Meta Knight looked doubtful at the little bright wrapper in his hand, shrugging. It wouldn’t hurt to try. Sitting down next to Jecra and rolling out his sleeping bag, Jecra shifted slightly at his movement, groaning and throwing an arm over him haphazardly.
“Jecra…” He growled, trying to move the arm off. His answer was a loud snore, Meta Knight rolling his eyes and lying down. Jecra immediately pulled him in, Garlude smiling from the entrance as Meta Knight tried to escape the hug. “I”m not going to be your teddy bear! Unhand me!” Another loud snore, each squirm only resulting in a tighter hug. He begrudgingly accepted his fate. Shifting to get comfortable, he closed his eyes, waiting for the crawling of nightmares to begin.
The chocolate remained on his tongue, his mind drifting to sleep faster than he expected. Was it the warmth of the fire? Jecra’s hug? Garlude keeping watch? Or something else…?
It was… just calm. His mind was calm.
He hasn’t experienced such peace in a long time.
“Sir, are you awake?” Meta Knight blearily cracked open his eyes, seeing sunlight streaming through the windows. Birds were singing outside, Blade standing by the foot of the bed. “Sword and I are going to go get breakfast, would you and Kirby like anything?” Kirby? Glancing down, he realized Kirby was still tucked against him, wrapped in his cape sleeping away peacefully. He couldn’t help but smile.
“Get anything for them. I’ll take the usual.” Blade gestured at his face.
“Kirby said it’s not healthy to wear metal to bed.” Meta Knight rubbed the remaining sleepiness from his eyes. Blade caught up with Sword at the doorway, the two heading down as Meta Knight sat on his bed, glancing out the window. The leaves glittered with dew, some remaining drops on the window making their way down. Birds were chirping away, the sun casting beams across the floor.
The storm had passed… and no nightmares. He rubbed at his head, exhaling and rubbing his cheeks. He actually got a good-night’s worth of rest, after how many years?
Looking at the ground, he moved to start cleaning up the candy wrappers, quickly realizing that Kirby was still swaddled in his cape. They yawned and rolled, snuggling in and continuing to sleep. He was stuck in the dilemma of moving and possibly waking Kirby up or staying stuck in bed.
His toughest battle to date.
Sword and Blade made their way back up, staring at Meta Knight still confined to the bed, more or less just staring at the wall as Kirby continued to snooze away, oblivious to the world. They held back their comments, merely setting the food down on the table. At the scent of breakfast did Kirby finally begin to stir awake, yawning and sleepily glancing around.
“Good morning to you too.” Meta Knight greeted, moving his cape so Kirby wasn’t too tangled. They tumbled out and plopped onto the ground, eyes widening at the hearty stack of pancakes drizzled with syrup sitting all prettily on the table.
“Poyo!” Kirby’s eyes glittered, blinking as Meta Knight patted their head.
“Why don’t you try eating a little slower today? We are in no rush.” Getting a fork and plate, he placed a stack on and handed it over, Kirby managing to take bites and chew. He smiled and picked up his parfait, scooping a generous helping of vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup. Sword and Blade removed their helmets to eat, the three soon descending into usual morning conversation as Kirby made their way down the stack.
Soon all that remained were crumbs (that Kirby happily inhaled up), the two knights leaving for patrol as Meta Knight put his armor back on, Kirby still licking up the remaining maple syrup. Two knocks at the door caught his attention, opening the door to see a Waddle Dee with the washed and freshly dried star blanket. It was still nice and toasty.
“Thank you.” Meta Knight shut the door, Kirby looking up from the plates. “Here you go. I’m sure Fumu and Bun are looking all over the castle for you, so let’s not keep them waiting, yes?” Kirby took the blanket, eyes going wide as they wrapped the nice and cozy blanket around them. Immediately snuggling in, they tugged on Meta Knight’s cape, Meta Knight walking over more. Two pats on the carpet, so he sat down. “What is it?”
Kirby wrapped his cape around them, fell against his side, and promptly fell asleep. Meta Knight blinked in surprise, opening his mouth to tell Kirby that no, they can’t sleep here, they should get going-
“Dadda…” They sleepily murmured, snoozing away. He could only stay still in shock, staring as the little puffball drew the cape closer around them. He tentatively reached out and rested his hand on them, receiving a happy poyo in response.
He couldn’t bring himself to wake Kirby up, opting instead to just… wait it out. He’s sure Sword or Blade will reassure Fumu and Bun that Kirby was alright.
Kirby’s words still echoed in his mind, Meta Knight gazing down at the little puffball.
… To be honest, he didn’t mind the endearment. He tucking the cape more around Kirby and leaned back, listening to the birds singing outside and letting his mind settle into peace.