Kirby woke, feeling hollow. It was an odd feeling, a dull, aching emptiness somewhere in his gut, and he wasn’t entirely sure what it meant. He wasn’t hungry—a rare occurrence, and it was a beautiful day. Kirby stretched, in the warm, morning light. It didn’t help. The hollowness was still present. He had nothing to do, and Kirby immensely disliked that fact. He was lonely. It was selfish; Kirby had friends. His friends weren’t always around because they were busy with other things, or they lived on other stars. So Kirby shouldn’t feel lonely, shouldn’t long for them like he did. It was childish, nonsensical, stupid, pathetic, awful—like everything in the world was jagged-edged and empty.
And it’s not healthy to brood over it, Kirby thought. I need a distraction.
The crippling loneliness wasn’t something that could be solved with cake or apples; Kirby knew that. Unfortunately, he didn’t know what would fix it. With a sigh, Kirby waddled through the lush, green grass and pastel-bright flowers of Dreamland. Kirby had traveled often, but seldom had he seen a place so beautiful as his home. But it didn’t fill him with the warm, soft feeling he was used to. “I need someone to talk to,” Kirby said aloud.
Yes, that was exactly what he needed. The thought of going to meet someone made his stomach twist. It’d be easier to return home and spend all day by himself, miserable though he was. Making friends just seemed like too much effort, and they always abandoned him, when they were finished with him anyway. And it wasn’t fair. Lots of people had friends, who stayed with them no matter what. Why didn’t Kirby? Maybe there was something wrong with him. Maybe he just was meant to be lonely, only shown attention when he was needed. Maybe he was meant to be alone.
Kirby scowled at nothing and quickened his pace, unsure of a destination. That’s when Kirby saw him. Meta Knight. The blue puff was reading a book and sitting beneath a large, full tree. In full armor, too. Perhaps it was because Kirby was lonely. Maybe it was because he just didn’t feel well. Or maybe there wasn’t any comprehensible reason at all. But for Kirby, the sight of Meta Knight, sitting innocently beneath that tree, was infuriating.
Kirby looked around him, searching for one of Meta Knight’s followers; there was always one or two near their lord. Even Meta Knight, who tried to invade the kingdom of Dreamland, had friends. Strong, loyal friends, who would stay with him through anything. As if Meta Knight needed any help. It only took a few seconds, for Kirby to find one of Meta Knight's companions. The pink puff inhaled deeply and sucked up the knight’s sword. The knight, well-accustomed to Kirby, scowled, glanced at Meta Knight, and sulked away. He didn’t even bother to ask for his sword back.
Sword in hand, Kirby inhaled air and floated into the sky. He bobbed up, steadily, until he reached the branches just above Meta Knight’s head. Kirby adjusted his grip on the sword and peered down at the knight. Had Meta Knight even…?
“I can’t fathom why, but I know you’re up there,” Meta Knight stated, serenely turning a page in his book.
Kirby furrowed his brow. The blue puff didn’t even glance up at him; he didn’t even care that Kirby was poised above him, ready to attack. Kirby backed up a bit and wondered if he really wanted to pick a fight. “Are you going to say something? It’s impolite to spy on people; you know,” Meta Knight said.
Decision made. “Fight me!” Kirby yelled.
He’d tried to imitate Meta Knight’s deep voice, but it came out far too high. The effect was obvious, though. Meta Knight dropped his book, spun around—his cape flaring into wings, and drew his blade so quickly that Kirby barely saw it all happen. It took mere seconds, for Meta Knight to swoop into the tree, his golden blade flashing. Kirby barely dodged the blow. The vibrations traveled through his paws, and the pink puff stumbled back.
Meta Knight lighted on a branch and waited. With a cry, Kirby launched himself at the blue puff. Meta Knight parried and slid his sword past Kirby’s hasty attempt at defense. Meta Knight twisted the blade, at the last possible second, and instead of cutting, he smacked Kirby with the flat of the blade. Kirby winced at the deep throbbing in his face, but it didn’t stop him. He leapt at the knight, launching blows, his fury driving him to just cut something.
Meta Knight parried again and again. The knight was clearly on the defensive, but Kirby’s blows weren’t even landing. With an angry shout, Kirby dove at the knight, but Meta Knight swooped upwards. Kirby overshot the knight and hastily inhaled air to stay afloat. He didn’t see Meta Knight, but sharp screeching, like metal being ripped apart, split the air. Fierce wind followed, pulling Kirby around and hurling him towards the grass. Kirby’s sword was ripped from his hand, and Kirby crashed to the ground. The wind ceased, and Meta Knight loomed over him. The knight placed the tip of Galaxia squarely on Kirby’s stomach. For several seconds, the only sound was Kirby’s heavy breathing. Dimly, Kirby noted that his sword was several feet away.
“Are you mocking me?” the blue puff asked darkly.
There was an underlying threat of violence. Kirby heard it but didn’t heed it. It didn’t matter. He was on the ground, his blade out of reach; Meta Knight would never strike an unarmed or downed opponent. Even if the tip of Galaxia was resting on Kirby’s belly. “I’d never mock you, oh, noble Sir Meta Knight,” Kirby retorted.
Meta Knight bristled in anger. “Get. Your. Sword,” he said.
Kirby stared at Meta Knight, and for some irrational reason, Kirby began crying. It wasn’t a particularly heavy cry, but Kirby’s eyes burned from it. There were definitely tears. Kirby’s fire and anger had evaporated, and the loneliness returned quickly. And yes, being pummeled by Meta Knight was just what he needed, and of course, it was Kirby’s own fault. Kirby blinked rapidly, as Meta Knight moved his sword. “Kirby?”
Kirby righted himself, and Meta Knight stepped back, Galaxia lowered. “Are you alright?”
“No, I’m not alright!” Kirby snapped. “I’m all alone, and you—you never talk to me!”
“I have too many secrets to talk to you.”
“Yes, you have your secrets, and they’re more important than anything or anyone!” Kirby snapped. “You never talk, Meta Knight! Do you know how many problems could’ve been solved or even avoided, if you’d just bothered to talk to me? But no, it’s always let’s fight!”
“And that’s assuming you want anything to do with me, at all. You only care about me, if I’m going to destroy the world or save it. That’s all anyone cares about, and then, everyone is gone! I mean, you have people willing to die with you, and I—I didn’t get it. I still don’t get it! You didn’t even care that people were willing to die with you on the Halberd! Why are you so special?”
“You want someone to die with you?” Meta Knight asked, confusion clear in his voice.
Kirby scowled. Nothing was coming out right, and didn’t Kirby sound horrible, when Meta Knight pointed it out like that? “No, I just—people are loyal to you, and you’re just…you’re you. You’re secretive and callous and—and you don’t care about anyone except you.”
Something strange flashed in Meta Knight’s eyes. “That isn’t true. I was deeply touched that part of my crew was willing to stay with me, as the Halberd fell. I am infinitely grateful that they were unharmed.”
And there it was. In a few words, Meta Knight managed to make Kirby’s stomach twist. The pink puff felt absolutely wretched. Surely, Meta Knight appreciated being called callous and selfish. Why wouldn’t he? Kirby rubbed his eyes with his paws and didn’t dare look at Meta Knight, who’d fallen silent. Stupid. It was all stupid, and Kirby felt unbelievably childish and pathetic. And he’d vented to Meta Knight of all people. “This isn’t like you,” Meta Knight finally said.
“And how would you know?”
“I’m quite perceptive,” replied the knight. “Are you…lonely?”
Lonely. Kirby let the word drift in his mind. Lonely. Kirby stared at his bright red feet. Carefully, he tried to find the words, a sentence, to describe that he wasn’t lonely. It had to be careful, though, or Meta Knight would see through the lie. “Oh,” Meta Knight said.
Evidently, Kirby hadn’t thought quickly enough. “Sorry for bothering you,” the pink puff said. “Really I’m just in a bad mood. I just took it out on you, and I shouldn't have. I’ll go now. See you later, Meta Knight!”
Kirby spun around, ready to flee from the blue warrior. It was a useless gesture; Meta Knight had wings—fast, powerful wings, and Kirby certainly couldn’t out-run him. Kirby decided to try anyway, expecting to hear Meta Knight’s wings and for the warrior to land right in front of him. “I’d die with you!” Meta Knight exclaimed.
Kirby stopped abruptly and turned, nearly losing his balance. Meta Knight hadn’t moved an inch, but he stopped Kirby anyway. “I can—I will try to do better,” Meta Knight said softly.
It sounded strange to hear Meta Knight speak softly, gently even. That wasn’t to say that Meta Knight never had a soft or gentle moment, but those moments were rare and always seemed so fluid, so natural. Meta Knight actually seemed to stumble over his words; his resolve cluttered with his uncertainty. Kirby shook his head. “No, you don’t have to do anything,” Kirby said.
“Perhaps, I want to,” Meta Knight answered. “I don’t trust easily, Kirby. I’d tell you why, but those reasons are secret, too.”
The knight chuckled, as if enjoying some private joke. “But I haven’t been quite fair to you,” Meta Knight continued, “And you’re right. If I’d been more honest in the past, a lot of things could’ve been avoided. I apologize for my foolishness.”
Kirby was lost for words. Meta Knight chuckled again—a pleasant sound, really—and returned Galaxia to its place between his wings. A second later, the wings twisted into Meta Knight’s cape. “There’s no reason we can’t be friends,” Meta Knight continued. "No one deserves to be alone, least of all someone as kind and courageous as you."
Kirby swallowed. “I—I didn’t mean you had to—” he stammered.
“Well, I can’t let you be lonely,” Meta Knight said.
He sat on the grass and opened his book again. “Do you want to join me?” the knight inquired. “I’ll read to you.”
“Read to me?” Kirby asked. “What are you reading?”
The pink puff considered refusing the offer and going back home, but it was dark and empty at home. And Meta Knight was offering. Surely, the knight would’ve just demanded Kirby leave, if he was annoyed? Carefully, Kirby walked to his new friend and plopped down a foot or so away from him. “Thank you, Meta Knight,” he murmured.
Meta Knight hummed and began reading. Kirby nestled closer. It was…nice, sitting beside Meta Knight. Listening to the blue puff’s voice. And maybe, they had the start of a friendship. And maybe there would be more sittings and talks and wonderful things that Kirby had always wanted to experience.