The sunlight poured through the window into Fox's face. He scrunched his eyes as he got up and stretched his aching muscles. His head was throbbing, and the table before him seemed to phase in and out.
'Hangovers,' he thought. Groaning, he changed into his work attire and left his apartment. On the way out of the building, he saw no one in sight. No matter what day it is, the children of the family a few doors down would streak down the hall, shrieking with play and cheer.
By the time he got down to the lobby, the sunlight outside dimmed. Dark storm clouds were rolling in, casting a shadow over the city. Fox hadn't taken more than a few steps when he felt a drop of water strike his snout. A light rain had begun to fall, and it became heavier as time passed. Running as fast as he could to the subway, he ran past a pair of automatic closing doors, soaking wet.
The steady hum of the train broke the silence. The other passengers were either busy reading the paper or half-asleep, drool dribbling from their mouths. Finally, the train stopped at Central Avenue, where he took a hurried stroll down a tunnel before arriving in front of a pair of steel-bar gates.
"Hey, Mr. McCloud!" the guard, a raccoon with brown fur, greeted him. "How are you today?"
"Fine, fine. Are the others here yet?" he asked.
"Well," the guard continued, as he opened the doors, "I know Mr. Toad and Ms. Cerinia arrived a few minutes ago. They're probably in the hangar by now." Fox had no idea why he was so antsy today. It was just a routine test flight. This happened every two weeks; he should have no reason to worry, he reasoned.
There was no sign of Slippy or Krystal in the hangar. Their Arwings were not here, either. The cool hum of the ventilation above and the somewhat frosty air were the only things greeting him. As he entered the cockpit of his Arwing, the whir of the door made him turn around.
"God, do we really have to go on another one of these stupid test flights? I know I'm good enough to not crash into a building. Can't say the same for Slippy, though," he joked. Fox laughed. If Slippy were here, he would degenerate into a ball of angry gibberish before joining in on the laughter.
As Fox slipped into the seat, he tried turning on the engine. Nothing happened. he tried again. Again, nothing happened. "What the hell is wrong with this!" Looked like Falco's wasn't working either. Fox scuffed the floor of the pit in frustration and heard a crinkle of paper.
Reaching down, he picked up a small piece of paper ripped from a small notebook. The writing was small, and it was elegant; the strokes were strong and firm, yet fluid.
"Fox," it read, "if you're reading this right now, this probably means that I've gone. I also probably won't ever see you again. Before you go flying into a frenzy, allow me to explain. As I explained before, I was born with a curse. Everyone who comes in contact with me ends up in misfortune. The day before yesterday, I saw something. Today, the weather will make us lose control of our ships and we will crash-land into the park-the park that you and I went to yesterday. Paramedics will arrive, but by then it'll be too late.
"I just wanted to let you know that I love you, and if we weren't under these circumstances, yes, I would gladly be your wife.
Fox clenched his fist, crumpling the note in the process. Feeling his heart begin to race, he pushed the com-link button on the board that linked to the Arwings' internal communications system.
The static gave him a brief moment of solace. She didn't destroy this. "Krystal! Can you hear me?" A few seconds later, there was a reply.
"Fox... I'm sorry. You understand all that there is to understand. This will be the last time we'll speak to each other, and again, I love you."
Then the transmission was cut. Fox noticed that Krystal's Arwing had disconnected from the system from the small screen in the middle. A few minutes later, he heard a distant crash.
The survivors gathered around the makeshift grave that Fox had made for his ex-wingmate. The past hour passed slowly, without a sound from anyone. Soon afterwards, the children started to grow impatient and noisy, which made a few of the older fighters usher them in. Soon it was just Fox. After what seemed like hours on end, Fox withdrew a chain adorned with a miniature silver aircraft resembling that of an Arwing. Laying it on top of the mound, he turned and walked back towards the mansion.
The halls were empty. Either one was in the dining room or in their own bedroom, hoping that soon all will be over. Fox mulled over the small photo album he kept in his desk. It was a book of memories, one that reminded him of happier times. Flipping towards the end of the album, he gave a fleeting smile as his fingers traced the photo of him and Krystal before closing the cover.
He barely walked out of his room when Peach crashed into him. The jolt from his tailbone sent sparks of pain coursing through his entire body.
"Are you okay?" asked Fox, hurriedly extending a paw. A gloved hand gripped his.
"I'm okay," she replied. "I guess that's what I should be asking."
"What do you mean?" Fox's ears perked up.
"Well, you've been keeping to yourself a lot more often." Peach slightly turned away. Fox sighed quietly. "I mean, I understand that Falco's..." she nibbled on her thumb, "gone. But you can't keep doing this. I don't agree with most of what Wolf says, but this I do: we're in a time where we can't let our guard down. Fox-" she said while placing her hand upon his- "We're still here. I'm still here."
Fox looked into her eyes. The spark of life behind them seemed to fill him with energy, with life. He felt a little bit of hope well up from somewhere in the depths of his being. He looked at Peach's midriff. There was no change yet, but soon... "Are you ready for it?" He gradually felt his heart beat faster.
"Honestly? No, I'm not. I'm not sure if it's even possible, what with me and you being... quite different."
"I guess we'll just have to have faith."
Wolf sat in his room, clicking a lighter over and over again. He looked at the book that he hid from others sitting on the desk and opened it.
In it were entries that he wrote, dates that have well gone into when the first freak accident had occurred. He flipped through the pages and glanced over the words he had scrawled detailing the deaths with the thoroughness of a scientist observing his latest experiment. He witnessed a few himself and yet they unnerved him. He had seen death a lot, obviously, what with being a mercenary and all, yet blasting enemy spacecraft into oblivion was pointedly less agonizing than dying from convoluted supernatural schemes. He most certainly did not sign up for this.
He groaned and closed the book. It's all going to be over, though. Wolf knew he was going to be next. He looked down at the book again. The book was flipped open again and the scratching of paper drowned out the silence.
It was late in the evening when Fox tried to get Wolf out of his room. "C'mon Wolf, we need to talk." He rapped on the door. No answer. "Wolf, are you in there?" No reply. He gripped the doorknob and twisted it. It was unlocked. "Hello?"
Fox opened it. Wolf wasn't there. He looked around. The room was neatly made. Turning to leave, a blow struck Fox on the side of his head. Reeling from the pain, he looked up. "What are you doing in my room?" a gruff voice asked. Wolf was literally looking down on him and he was not amused.
"Nothing, I was just looking for you."
"Well, because you're next. Just wanted to make sure you were alright." Wolf paused.
"Get out." Fox got no warning before the door slammed in his face. He sighed. He needed to get close to Wolf or else Peach will be next. Damn it.
Wolf flung his gear across the room and dropped his blaster to the floor before throwing himself onto the bed. There was a knock on the door. He groaned. "Didn't I tell you to go away?"
"You only told me to get out."
"Look." The lupine opened the door to face a half-smirking Fox. "I know what you're planning, but I can take care of myself." He walked toward his reflector and grabbed it before walking back over to his arch-nemesis. "You see this? It's not just for bouncing attacks off. It's also for keeping cretin like you—"
But the moment he pressed the button, the reflector's force field shot out and knocked both Fox and Wolf in opposite directions. While Fox crashed into the wall, Wolf was sent sliding face-down across the floor, along his upturned bayonet on his blaster. It cut through his flesh cleanly.
Fox got up, clutching his head. "Wolf!" He ran over to the fallen pilot and turned him over. Three long gashes carved through his torso and his innards were struggling to spill out. "No," he whispered. Fox pushed towards Wolf's middle, hoping that the entrails would go relent. "Help! Someone help!" Footsteps from the distance drew closer. A familiar white coat whisked into view and Dr. Mario prodded Fox out of the way. A Lakitu popped into the room and out as the doctor asked for bandages. When it came back, Dr. Mario wound it tightly around Wolf and four Koopa Troopas rushed in with a gurney. They sped the injured to the infirmary with the doctor trailing behind them.
"Fox, what's going on?" Peach was walking up the hallway.
"It's Wolf. He's been… injured." She lowered her head.
"So I'm next, then." The tone in her voice was devoid of mirth.
"It's alright, I'll protect you." She smiled wistfully. "It's passed him now. Now we just have to worry about you and me. We should probably go and make sure Wolf's OK."
The infirmary had only one patient; Ness and Lucas had been patched up and were resting in their rooms. Wolf was sedated, with an IV shuffling fluids into his left arm. The steady blip of an electrocardiogram elicited a groan from the bedridden canine.
"You can't move around, Wolf. I don't want to risk re-opening your wounds." Wolf snorted. He started to move his left arm when pain ran up from his stomach.
Wolf groaned. "So how long am I going to be stuck here for?"
"Well, I'd say for about two days, but these two—" he gestured to the unwanted visitors—"said that you should stay in here as long as possible and that you should be monitored at all times."
"Are you serious?" he asked the two of them in deadpan.
"Wolf, you know what we're up against," his arch-nemesis said.
"I don't need any help from you, McCloud. Or from your girlfriend."
Peach frowned. "We're not offering you help; you're taking it whether you like it or not," Fox said angrily. "You know what happens if you die, right?"
"Yeah, yeah, your girlfriend's next. You don't think I know that? I can take care of myself just fine. Besides, you might want to be careful now… I've been passed over."
Fox pinched the bridge of his nose. Wolf was right; now that he'd been saved, Peach would be next.
"You'll be fine," he told her. She gave him a wry smile, as he hastily continued, "well, um, we've got each other's back, don't we?"
"We do, but how can we make sure that that's actually going to save us though? You don't know what horrible convoluted plot death has in mind for us."
Fox scratched his head. "Let's talk about something else. Want to go and get something to eat?" Peach gave a non-committal nod. They walked down to the dining hall. It was empty and dimly lit. "I guess we could make something ourselves. Kitchen?" said Fox. The princess nodded and led him inside. After the refrigerator incident, the staff had been neglecting maintenance of the appliances as they tended to bolt out the minute their duties were fulfilled. The small microwave oven laid askew on the edge of the grease-stained counter and the back elements of the stove had all but burnt out.
"I guess you know your way around simple recipes?"
"Not exactly," he said sheepishly. "I can use the microwave though!" Peach rolled her eyes.
"So what do you want to have? Pizza?"
"That'd be great." The oven whirred as she twisted the knob. Thankfully nothing… eventful happened.
"I'm just going to let it preheat for a while." She strutted over to the sink and began washing her hands. She reached for the soap dispenser when she realized that it wasn't there. "Sometimes I wonder how hygienic the food is," she muttered to herself.
The wiring in the oven had slowly begun to become exposed over the past few weeks. Sparks inside burnt up parts of the insulating plastic and created more circuits than planned. The door blew off its hinges.
Fox grabbed Peach and threw themselves to the ground as arcs of electricity began to fly across the kitchen, connecting to nearby metallic objects temporarily. The storm began to spread to the rest of the room. "Down here!" yelled Fox. He grabbed Peach and took cover under a table. "We'll be safe down here." Peach nodded and looked out toward the chaos. Her face blanched.
"We have to move." She pointed toward the sink. It hadn't been turned off and it began to overflow, spilling water onto the ground. They darted over to the next alcove, nearing the door as the water crept towards them. They were at the door when Fox turned around and saw the microwave oven moving over the counter ledge.
Without a moment of hesitation he pushed her out the door just as the small oven fell to the drenched floor. A numbing sensation climbed up his body as his fingers twitched uncontrollably. He could hear the rush of blood passing through his ears before he finally fell into a sea of black.
Fox heard voices. Somewhere above him he could make out a few hushed words that faded in and out. Shapes gradually came into view and sharpened. He was gazing up at the ceiling of the infirmary. A familiar face moved into his field of vision. "You're awake." Dried trails of tears streaked down Peach's face and her eyes were slightly red.
"Ugh, what happened?" He sniffed the air. "And why does something smell burnt?" He turned his head—or rather, tried—as he noticed that there was a strain around his neck preventing him from doing so. The feel of rough material around his arms turned out to be bandages.
"When you have electricity running through your body it tends to get singed. You've been out for two days now."
"Look on the bright side, it's not like I died, right?" Peach bit her lip.
"Fox, you did." He widened his eyes. "When you got here, you didn't have a heartbeat. You were clinically dead, the doctor called it. Thankfully, they managed to shock you back or something, I'm not too clear on the machine they used."
There was silence between them.
"New life," muttered Fox.
"It was something Mewtwo said. The only way to break the cycle is with new life. What if it this is what it means?"
"We're free?" Peach asked. "It's all over now?"
"Yeah, it is. We're free."
And so I'm ending this after god knows how many years. Time to work on other, more organized and better fics now. Keep in tune for an update for my most recently updated fic. Thanks for keeping with this story!