It was late in what some had come to call Smash Hall, the large building that gave Palutena's Temple a run for its money in terms of sheer size. The lowest floor, several stories underground, was used as a vast training area that often filled with the sounds of battle cries, weapons swung and fired, and the smell of sweat depending on the day. This night, however, there was only one fighter in the room and a lone sandbag hung from a beam rather than the high ceiling. Dark Pit's shadowy wings twitched as his red eyes glared at the sandbag.
Rather than his usual chiton, he simply wore his black, gold-trimmed undershirt and shorts. His hands, wrists, feet, and ankles were wrapped in athletic tape and a sweatband helped keep his black bangs out of his eyes, though several wisps of his hair clung to the sides of his face with sweat. He never stopped moving, breathing deeply as he bounced lightly on the balls of his feet, his hands held in front of his chest and his fingers flexing before curling into fists and punching the sandbag hard with a grunt.
He punched the sandbag again and again, then kicked it hard and sidestepped as it swung back at him and continued his assault against it. His breath became more ragged with each hit, sweat beading and dripping down his skin. He grit his teeth as his fists and feet connected again and again, anger burning in his muscles and fueling the force of his attacks.
"They don't know anything," he growled softly as he punched it again, echoes of the voices spat at him since he first arrived to participate in the tournament. "They're a bunch of morons."
"You don't belong here."
"What even ARE you?"
"Get out while you still can."
With every thought, each punch and kick struck the sandbag harder, bruising his knuckles in the process. But he didn't care. He just wanted a way to vent this anger distracting him whenever he wasn't in a battle.
"Why hasn't he finished you off?"
"Shut UP!" he snapped, delivering one final vicious punch to the poor sandbag before stepping back, hunching over with his hands on his knees as he panted heavily and sweat dripped from his face to the floor below.
"Man, what'd that thing say to cheese you off so much?" He glanced up and looked over his shoulder to find a short, muscular, black-haired boxer entering the room carrying his gloves over his shoulder. Dark Pit shook his head and took a deep breath.
"Nothing that matters," he replied flatly. "I was just on my way out."
"No skin off my back," Little Mac replied. "You wanna beat a punching bag to a pulp, I get it. But I gotta admit I didn't take you as a guy for hand-to-hand stuff."
"If I'm in battle, I like having a weapon," Dark Pit said as he stood up. "This is more just to keep my strength up. And work out some anger without ticking the idiots out there off even more."
"Let me guess: 'You're an evil doppelganger,' right?" Dark Pit stiffened and stared at him. "Hey, I don't give a damn," Little Mac went on, lifting his free hand and tilting his head. "I mean, where I'm from? Dark angels ain't exactly a good thing. But all the stuff about you being the evil Pit or whatever, I couldn't care less. I'm just here to fight."
"You and me both," Dark Pit nodded. "I don't care whether they like me or not. I just wish they'd shut up and get their facts straight." He walked over to a bench nearby and picked up a skin of water, gulping it down quickly.
"Well, what are the straight facts?" Little Mac wondered as Dark Pit turned back to him.
"Pit saved my life," he said dully. "It's true, I was created by the Underworld to fight against him, but I don't exactly take orders well." He paused. "I figured out that he and I are connected. No him, no me. I helped him save Palutena from something and almost got killed in the process. He nearly sacrificed himself to save me." Little Mac nodded.
"He cares about you," the boxer shrugged. "Don't know why all those other 'heroes' have such a hard time seeing it."
"Neither do I," the dark angel sighed as he wiped his forehead. "Like I said, I don't care if they like me or not. I just want them to stop saying I'm evil and have it out for Pit. I guess some of them have dealt with things like me before, but that doesn't mean I'm like the rest of them."
"Guess you just gotta find a way to show 'em that," Little Mac suggested. "Make 'em see it in a way that doesn't involve you slitting their throats or something."
"Okay, so I'm a little more aggressive than Pit," Dark Pit admitted and rubbed the back of his neck. "Or a lot. But when you've got nobody to rely on and several divine armies that don't like you, you kind of have to be."
"Makes sense," Little Mac replied. "You still wanna blow off some steam?" Dark Pit shrugged. "I could use the warm-up. And you've got some good form, even without any training." The dark angel smirked slightly and approached his challenger.
"I'm tougher than I look," he warned as he set his stance. "You may regret this."
"Heh," Little Mac chuckled as he set his gloves down on the bench. "Bring it on, angel! I ain't gonna lose to a wannabe like you."
After a spar that they decided to call a tie, Dark Pit wandered the dark corridors of the residence wing in Smash Hall on his way back to the room he shared with his lighter counterpart. He stretched his jaw, stiff from a punch he had taken from Little Mac when the boxer had managed to get through his dodging. It was approaching midnight by the time he reached the room and went inside to find Pit already asleep on the lower bunk, drooling slightly onto his pillow as his arm hung over the side of the bed. Dark Pit smiled softly and pulled off his undershirt and sweatband, throwing them both over to the rest of his clothes before unwrapping his hands and feet and briefly inspecting his knuckles. He yawned and climbed up to the top bunk.
He stopped, however, as he found his laurel crown on his pillow along with a note.
Don't listen to them, it read. You're not alone. He blinked and leaned over the edge of the bunk to find an amused smile on Pit's face. He chuckled and grabbed his pillow, promptly throwing it at his twin's head and earning a surprised grunt of protest.
"Thanks, Pit-stain," he said lightly, and his pillow hit him once Pit had thrown it back up.
"'Night, Pittoo," the white-winged angel replied, and Dark Pit smiled as he lay down after setting his crown and the note aside. Pit was right, and so was Little Mac. His critics were wrong, and all he had to do was find a way to prove it.