Disclaimer: I own nothing except for the plot. The characters are merely being borrowed for my own amusement.

A/n: I took a liking to Ike instantly and I'm such a sucker for the loner, bad-boy types! I've heard of him prior to Brawl's release but never actually played any of his games, so if my characterization of him is off I'm very sorry.

Anyway, I have a pretty good idea where this'll be going, and I can assure you that it's going to involve a very brooding Ike, a very confused Zelda, and much arguing on both their parts.

Revisions: 2/18/14

The Flames
Chapter One:

The Beginning

Ike was a man that certainly left impressions. She remembered rather well the first time they had been partnered together, which had been, incidentally enough, also the first time she had actually seen him in battle—the first time she had met him eye to eye.

He had said no words, only because Ike was a man for whom words were pointless. He merely glanced at her, perhaps to acknowledge the existence of his co-fighter, but that one look had been enough to freeze her momentary pre-battle preparations as if he had just slugged her with a Freezie instead—for Ike was a man who, with a glance, stripped you of your confidence in the span it took to blink, to breathe.

His eyes had said it all: I don't tolerate losing.

She would have been offended (nothing aggravated her more than being underestimated), would have uttered something to assure him that she didn't tolerate losing either, but he had turned around and their opponents had arrived and the courage fled her, drowned in the loud, nearly deafening music.

The fight commenced. He sped off, and she was left wondering acutely whether or not he was the most pompous man she had ever met. No, she remembered thinking while aiming a quick spell in Kirby's direction, Ganondorf and Wario clearly own that title.

But Ike, she vehemently decided as the fire ball imploded nearby its target, would definitely be up there on the list.

Kirby, burned but wholly undeterred, twirled towards her, hammer extended. She furrowed her brows for merely an instant to consider her choices, before gathering her hands together and thrusting her palms out. A spark ignited between her fingers and zapped her pink, round opponent with a torrent of condensed lightning.

Kirby flew off from the impact of her assault within a satisfying minute of the battle. Pleased, Zelda began smoothing out the wrinkles out of her dress (speculating if rubbing her K.O. in Ike's face would be a sign of poor sportsmanship on her part) when she suddenly heard an almost inhuman roar from the other side of the stage and felt the ground shake and groan below her boots. Shocked, curious, and almost even a bit frightened, she turned to look behind her.

Ike was a man of immeasurable strength. He held a double-edged, two-handed sword with merely one, swung it around as if it weighed no more than a wooden ruler, and growled as if it genuinely infuriated him that his opponent existed.

The whole sight of him rendered Zelda oddly speechless.

Ike clutched the hilt of his heavy blade tightly, letting out another yell—raw, angry, unconquerable—that chilled her to the bone before plunging his weapon forward. The atmosphere hissed and bellowed as Fox, his opponent, dodged his sword with some fancy footwork. The attack had been close and slit through one of the pilot's sleeve in passing, and briefly glancing at the ruined shirt, Fox scowled. His eyes flickered to her shortly before locking back with Ike and then throwing a kick in the swordsman direction.

It was a obvious move, one which Ike then naturally blocked and parried. Something suspicious nagged Zelda's nerves, a whisper of a warning.

When Fox threw another easily blocked move, the princess realized why but by then, the short animal slipped fluidly past Ike's second parry and began heading in her direction with speed and determination. She silently cursed herself for being so easily fooled, trying in the two seconds she had before he was in front of her to transform into Sheik...

It was too late. Fox's foot connected with her abdomen with the force of a wrecking ball, and Zelda's eyes clenched in pain as the air rushed out of her lungs.

Ike might have yelled her name—or perhaps it had been the crowd; she couldn't recall too clearly—as she flew in the air, higher and higher until the sun scorched her and she felt the heat of frustration burn her eyes. A familiar light encompassed her, and then abruptly, the battle was over.

When she returned to the stage to meet back with her partner—who had been subsequently knocked out right after her—she wasn't sure what to expect, but the blatant animosity burning in his eyes clearly hadn't been quite it. He blamed her for the loss and at this she felt both furious and hurt.

"You should've blocked," he grit out.

Goddesses above, she had just met the man officially for the first time that day and already she wanted to never see him again! Kneading her temple with her fingers (and resisting the temptation of socking him in the jaw) she sighed and offered in reply all that she could, with as much civility as she was taught with, "I tried."

"No," he scoffed, eyes narrowed. "Trying implies that you had a desire to win, when, clearly, you didn't."

She gasped in indignation. She expected this line of conversation from someone of a more villainous inclination—King Dee Dee Dee perhaps, or Wolf—but not from a man who was a supposed hero of his people.

Questioning her will as a fighter was the last straw, his heroism be damned.

"Do not," she hissed, taking a step closer and jabbing him with an accusing finger square in the chest, "take me to be such a lightweight! Perhaps it should be you that requires the criticism seeing how you so easily let him slip past you in the first place."

His face was void of a reaction, and so for a short-lived moment, they merely stared at each other, lost in some subliminal contest of the wills. She realized, then (when everyone but them was gone and the stage was deathly silent), how close they truly were. Her breath lodged itself in her throat; in their proximity, Zelda could see the blues of his eyes and the contour of his frowning lips and the very slight stubble on his chin. When she inhaled finally, she also noticed something else that took her by mild surprise:

Ike was a man that smelled vaguely of apples.

She had to remind herself quickly that she was supposed to be angry—angry at his haughty attitude and his rather hard chest (her finger hurt from poking him) and that he had unjustly questioned her honor.

Finally, after seemingly eons ticked away around them, his scowl deepened, and he turned. "Whatever. If you were nearly half the warrior you claim to be, you wouldn't have gotten knocked out anyway."

Ike was gone in a matter of seconds, but his words still lingered, snaking around her and constricting painfully until she was holding back a desire to rip his cape off and happily stuff it in his mouth. Any curiosity she might have initially harbored for the fool was now thoroughly devolved to a bubbling dislike. The fact that he smelled like her favorite fruit did nothing to saturate her fury or desire to trip him.

But I won't, she concluded, because I am a princess, and such actions are unbecoming of me, and I will not allow a man to affect me so easily.

Zelda huffed, smoothed the wrinkles of her dress once again, and then promptly marched off premises to recuperate in her room. Turning the golden knob and consequently entering the elaborate chamber revealed Peach, her roommate and moreover best friend, sitting by the window sipping her afternoon tea.

Zelda's spirits rose instantly. A talk with Peach, who was assured to agree with all her observations about Ike's lacking characteristics was just the thing she needed to finally put herself at ease.

"Oh Zellie, you're just in time!" Peach exclaimed with a blissful sigh. "I just steeped the most delightful batch of Fire Flower tea."

After several minutes of Zelda explaining her argument of how Ike was a total jerk, Peach finally put her porcelain cup down in its proper tea plate, dabbed a napkin gently to her lips, and then patted Zelda on the cheek with the utmost affection and perhaps a tad bit of amusement as well.

"I think you like him."

Zelda nearly spit her sip of the spicy Mushroom Kingdom delicacy right back into her teacup.

"Peach, that's insane."

"What's insane is how handsome he is," Peach gushed in gusto.

Zelda sighed, regretting the conversation altogether. How did she ever think discussing a male with the blonde had been a good idea? Massaging her forehead, Zelda refuted, "I didn't notice."


"Liar," Peach giggled, waving a delicate gloved hand at her. "Admit it, you ogled him a little bit."

Zelda pushed the blush fighting its way up her cheeks with all the strength she could muster. "I have a boyfriend—Link, if you recall—"

"And I'm a firm believer that looking is not a crime, my dear," Peach gently intersected with a coy smile. "It's not as if you were thinking about taking his pants of." There was a pause. "You weren't, right?"

"Of course not!" Zelda sputtered in embarrassment. "I would never—"

"Good. I can't say the same about Samus, and I'm sure you can imagine what a fit Captain Falcon was having, but I'll tell you more about that later."

Zelda smiled. Trust Peach to know the latest gossip and spread it like the wind.

"For now, however," Peach continued, gathering her friend's palms in her own and scooting her chair closer, before leaning forward with such curiosity that her face nearly sparkled with it, "tell me something. Is it true that if you stand near enough, and peer long enough, you can see the fire in his eyes?"

Zelda didn't need the name to know who Peach was talking about. She closed her eyes briefly and thought back to when she and Ike had first locked gazes and felt an indescribable blaze flutter in her gut, mostly from righteous anger but a tinge of something else she couldn't name.

When her lids fluttered back open, she grinned slightly. "Oh, the flames are there all right."

A/n: I don't know why, but for an avid Zelda/Link shipper, I'm having a hell of an easy time writing this Zelda/Ike fanfic.

Some important things to note: Zelda and Link are involved. That's inevitable, the fan that I am of him and all. It will also serve as a plot device. Also, if you haven't figured out already, I'm going to be taking some creative liberties with the game, especially where the fighting is involved but also grossly where the characterizations are abound, so much OOC ahead.

Anyway, thanks for giving this fanfic a chance! Please review and tell me what you think!