Author's Note: ...I honestly don't know where this came from, aside from a deep love for Star Fox... especially for Falco Lombardi. I've played SF64, Star Fox Adventures, and Star Fox: Assault. It's been a while since my N64 days, though, so if any details are incorrect, please forgive me... because, trust me, I'll be busy punishing myself for my errors...

Warnings: Contains some spoilers for SF64, but by now, those are probably utterly pointless... also, some tiny unimportant spoilers for SF:A, also unimportant. And a little discreet Falco-and-Fox love, because I am a natural shounen-ai authoress... but I'll keep it to a bare minimum. And yes, they're slightly OOC in parts. You can deal with that, and don't rant about it, because it does absolutely no good whatsoever.

Stargazing

-By LeFox

I look forward to wars. Not because of the war itself... the deaths, the sacrifices, the unavoidable damages... but because of how peaceful everything seems once it's really over. After a while, the peace gets boring, but for a few weeks, it's really not so bad. Right now, I'm going through that "it's really not so bad" stage. But it's starting to get old, and fast. In a way, war is like a drug. There's the act of taking the drug itself - no one really likes that part, smoking, injecting and sniffing or shooting, blasting, and killing - and the amazing feeling afterwards. But after a while, it fades away... and you want more. And, like a drug, you refuse to admit you're hooked. You refuse to admit, even to yourself, that you really don't need that next war, you only want it. Because you know it's wrong to love it, to want it, to enjoy every minute of it. But you still do it, every time.

Maybe that's why I left the first time.

I sighed, staring out at the stars from the Great Fox's cockpit. Would I leave again...? No, probably not. Why bother? I knew perfectly well now that I couldn't be away from the team for two days without missing them. I'd gone soft. It was official now. I couldn't even find an insult to hurl at Slippy anymore, really, not like I used to. And I really, truly respected Fox. Krystal... well, there, my respect wasn't quite as deep. Maybe it was just because I hadn't known her that long, or maybe she just hadn't earned it yet. She just wasn't as strong as the rest of us...
"Falco?" I started slightly, looking up to see our dear Leader sitting across from me. He had one leg on the control panel - how safe was that? - and his eyes were turned upward to the stars, as mine had been. He wasn't wearing his uniform; rather, he wore a casual black shirt and blue jeans. Well, naturally, Falco... the war's over, why the hell would he bother wearing that damn uncomfortable uniform? His tail flicked slightly, and he turned to face me.
"I never thanked you for saving me at Fichina," he said, as if the thought had only just occured to him. I shrugged.
"It was nothing."
"To you. I couldn't have taken on all of those sentry bots on my own, and I don't care if anyone thinks otherwise." He turned back to the stars. "And when the Aparoid Queen posed as my dad... I think... well, I think that almost pushed me over the edge, until you said something. It brought me back to reality." His voice was soft now - that tone people use when they don't want to be overheard.

I cleared my throat. "Look, Fox, what're friends for, right? And besides, you've saved my tail plenty of times." He smiled, but didn't look at me. "...Fox, is something wrong? Seriously, talk to me."
He finally looked away from the stars, but not to me. Not directly, at least. Instead, he seemed fascinated suddenly with the laces of my boots. Slowly, very slowly, he looked up at me. "What if I told you I don't think my father's really dead? I mean... dead, yes. But not... really dead."
"What do you mean?"
"...Do you remember... when I fought Andross alone?"
"Sure. It was after that fight with Star Wolf on Venom, right?"
"Right. Well... I fought that head-and-hands contraption of his... you know, the one he always uses. Once I defeated him, he took on his real form... a brain, but you knew that... that battle with him outside of Sauria. When... I defeated that form... he conceded defeat. I'll never forget what he said then: 'If I go down, I'm taking you with me.'" He paused, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. He looked at me, as if he expected me to burst out laughing. When I didn't, he relaxed visibly.
"...For a while, all I could see was this bright white light... and I thought I was dead. But then... just when I had finally given up hope... I heard his voice."
"Your dad's?"
"Yes. My father... he said–"
"Let me guess... 'Never give up. Trust your instincts.'"
"Exactly," he laughed a little, smiling. "And he lead me. He was always too far ahead for me to catch up, but never too far for me to completely lose sight of him. When I finally got out of the tunnel... when I finally escaped... he vanished."

He stopped there. We sat in complete silence for about ten minutes, staring at the black sky. A few stars sparkled here and there, fighting back the darkness. I didn't want to be the one to break the fragile silence between us, and it seemed as if Fox didn't want to, either. The lights in the cockpit had finally shut off automatically, leaving us in shadow. It must have been late - the last time I had seen a clock, it had been well past ten o'clock, Cornerian time, and if the lights had gone off, it was at least eleven. After a while, I began to wonder if Fox had fallen asleep. But when I glanced at him, I could see a tear glistening in one radiant green eye. I'd never seen Fox McCloud cry, not since he first heard the news of his father's death. And that had been years ago.
"Fox..." I whispered, unsure of how to handle the situation. He blinked, and the tear rolled down his furry cheek, vanishing finally in his thick fur. He looked at me, his face outlined only by the starlight.
"You know..." he whispered. "I thought you had the right idea when you left. You avoided the war on Sauria. I can't tell you how many times I wished you were there with me... and then again, how many times I wished I could be wherever you were. I hate fighting, I hate wars... but without them, my life would be useless. I've spent my whole life in Star Fox, and now, it's all I know how to do anymore."
"...And I had the right idea when I left because I was bored, and then came back when I wanted money?" I asked. He smiled at the sarcasm.
"You had the right idea to get a break from fighting. And whatever you did while you were gone, it helped... you should see yourself fly."
"Yeah, well... you're not too bad at it, yourself... not as good as me, of course, but not bad."

He smiled again, and laughed a little this time. "Falco, thanks. Thanks for saving me, thanks for never letting my ego get too huge, and thanks for listening to me." He looked back out at the stars. I could only smile then, and look out with him. He let out a rather contended sigh after a moment. "You know, you've changed a lot," he said. I shifted a little in my seat. Those words had never come without a follow-up.
"...How so?" I asked, arching one eyebrow. He smiled.
"Let's start with the obvious. You appreciate the fact that yes, sometimes, you need help - and for once, you can ask for it directly. You're even more talented with the Arwing now, believe it or not, but you don't act like you're the absolute best thing that ever hit the sky. Now, as for the less obvious change... you're easier to talk to. A couple of years ago, I couldn't have told you half of the things I have tonight without knowing you'd take it all as a joke."
"So... the change is a good thing."
"A very good thing. But you know what the best part is?"
"No idea."
He leaned back in his seat a little, smiling pleasantly. "You changed everything about yourself, but somehow managed to stay exactly the same."

...That was, perhaps, the most brilliant thing I had ever heard him say. And definitely the most confusing. I couldn't think of a response... so I looked, once again, to the stars.

We sat that way for the rest of the night, in perfect silence. We didn't say another word, aside from the occasional mention of this or that constellation. Elsewhere in the Great Fox, we could hear Peppy's quiet snoring, Slippy's loud snoring, and Krystal murmuring softly in her sleep. That's how quiet it was. And Fox and I, side by side, gazing into the endless display of celestial light.

Author's Note: ...God, I hate my closing. And, really, I'm not entirely sure I like the story itself... but, oh well. Back to my Final Fantasy fics. If you read this, thank you, if you liked it, thank you, if you hated it, thank you for wasting your time to get to the end, anyway. O.o;