Title: Grounded
Author: Sometimes, A Muse
Date: started 5/20/2008; finalized 5/21/2008
Fandom: Super Smash Brothers
Pairing: Ike x Pit
Rating: PG
Word Count: 3461
Summary: One-shot. When Pit is grounded, Ike decides to show him what the ground has to offer.
Disclaimer: Don't own the characters, don't have any money to give you if you sue. Original plot elements are mine.
Author's Note: In my journal, I requested people to give me characters and prompts as an exercise to help combat take advantage of my insomnia; for each prompt I would supply a drabble dedicated to the requester. This request was for Ike/Pit, with the prompt "grounded." Concrit welcomed.
Dedication: Dedicated to purplewashere (on LJ), who requested the pairing and supplied the prompt. I know the initial purpose of the exercise was to write short little drabbles, but goodness knows that I can't keep anything short. This prompt, especially, took off with a life of its own - I hope it doesn't disappoint!!
SEQUEL: My very good friend Zeffyface wrote a follow-up/sequel to this story. You can read it on her LJ (follow the link in her profile here, or ask me for the url).

"Hey, why the long face?" Ike's walk in his favorite secluded garden – his "quiet place" – had been interrupted by soft, sad sighing. Listening carefully, he'd tracked the noise through the manicured hedges to come upon Pit sitting on the ground, arms wrapped around his drawn-up knees and a forlorn look on his face. Settling on the ground next to his fellow Smasher, Ike tried again. "What's on your mind?"

Pit just shook his head. "Please, it's nothing. I'm fine," he mumbled.

Ike snorted. "'Nothing' doesn't sound like a sigh, and 'fine' doesn't hide behind a hedge. 'Miserable' does both those things, though, and everyone knows that misery loves company. Talk to me."

Pit merely sighed again and waved one hand in the direction of the hedge. Following the motion, Ike observed two birds take off, wheeling gracefully in the air. Confused as to why birds would bother the youth, Ike returned his gaze to his companion – only to notice the heavy splint and bandages wrapped around one of Pit's wings. The sight of the bandages sparked memory, and Ike clearly recalled a battle the day before yesterday in which the angel had been wounded. Apparently the damage was worse than it had appeared from the spectators' stand.

"Grounded, huh?" Ike asked, his suspicions confirmed when Pit ducked his head, hiding his face. "That's not so bad, you know."

Pit didn't answer, though a sound suspiciously akin to a muffled sniffle escaped the confines of his sheltering arms.

Undaunted, Ike forged ahead. "You're just too focused on what you're missing to see what you've got. I mean, I'm on the ground all the time; I bet I know loads of things that you don't."

At that declaration, Pit's head emerged from the cocoon of his arms. Ike gave him an encouraging smile, purposefully not calling attention to the angel's red cheeks and puffy eyes. Instead the mercenary plucked a flat blade of grass, handing it to his companion.

"I bet you didn't know that you're now holding one of Nature's finest whistles." At Pit's incredulous expression Ike merely nodded, taking up his own blade of grass. "Watch," he said as he positioned it between his fingers, took a deep breath, and blew against the base of the stem. A shrill whistling sound came forth, and Pit laughed in spite of himself.

The next few hours were spent teaching Pit how to whistle with grass, then searching through the small clearing to find which grass blades produced the best sounds. Though more than once Ike caught his companion gazing longingly at the sky, he could also see that some of the sorrow had been lifted from Pit's shoulders. The mercenary made a decision then: his companion needed cheering, and Ike was going to do what he could to bring a smile back to Pit's face.

Pit looked up, startled, at the knock on his door. He wasn't expecting any visitors, not would it be a summons to a match: he was not even allowed to train until his wing was completely healed. Pit hadn't even been able to get the doctors to agree to light drills with sword or bow; they were too afraid that he'd get too into it and strain his wing further. Though Pit knew they were probably right, it didn't make him feel any better about it.

A second knock sounded, knocking Pit out of his reverie, and he moved quickly to the door. Upon opening it he was met wit the sight of a smiling Ike – a smiling, burdened Ike, who seemed to have traded the Ragnell for a pair of fishing poles and a rather large basket.

"Um…can I help you?" Pit asked, confused.

"What? Surely you didn't think whistling with grass blades was the only thing the ground had to offer?" Ike's grin grew wider as he shuffled his burdens to a more comfortable position.

"W-well..." Pit stammered. He'd appreciated Ike going out of his was to cheer him up in the clearing three days ago, but he hadn't really expected the mercenary to seek him out again. Surely he should be training, or competing, or something of that nature – not spending time with an invalid.

"C'mon," Ike coaxed. "There's a sunny beach with our names on it."

"Shouldn't you be training?" Pit blurted out, then blushed at his own rudeness.

Ike merely laughed. "I am. Most important part of training is knowing when you need a day off. So c'mon."

"Well...ok." Pit ducked back inside to grab the keys to his flat before following Ike out into the hallway. "So where are we headed?" he questioned as Ike led the way out of the building and across the grounds.

"The beach at Delfino," the mercenary responded. "No one's using it today and the weather's perfect."

Indeed the weather was beautiful, warm and sunny without being too hot. Pit sighed, bouncing the fishing poles on his shoulder. He'd argued that Ike shouldn't carry everything, and the mercenary had handed off the poles, keeping the heavy basket and a smaller pack for his own burden. A sudden though crossed the angel's mind, and he looked up at Ike questioningly.

"Where'd you get the poles?"

"Hm? Oh, they're Link's," Ike answered, stepping off the cobbled path onto the sandy beach.

"Link? Where does he keep all that gear?" Pit wondered as he followed his companion onto the sand. A seagull cried, wheeling overhead, but no answer to Pit's query was produced.

Before long Ike had shown Pit how to string hook and lure onto his pole, and the two sat on a flat rock, soaking up the sun and talking about nothing. Pit noted that Ike kept the conversation away from both the tournament and their histories – the mercenary was probably trying to keep his mind off anything that would make him think of flying. Of course, to Pit, it seemed that the seagull population did not share the sentiment, as the birds were constantly wheeling about overhead in complex aeronautic acrobatics. Pit sighed.

"Yeah," Ike agreed. "I haven"t had a single bite either." He shook his pole before mock-glaring into the water. "Where are all the fish when you want them?"

Pit knew very well what his companion was trying to do, and appreciated the effort. "They know you're after them. They probably ran away in fear," he ventured, trying to match Ike's pretend annoyance with his own teasing. His effort was rewarded with full-blown laughter as Ike threw his head back in mirth. The contagious sound, combined with the look of pure joy on Ike's face, was enough to send Pit into his own laughing fit.

"Ah, so the fish are scared of my ugly mug," Ike sighed as his chuckles died down. "Guess it's a good thing I packed us a picnic dinner then."

"You're hardly ugly," Pit blurted out, then quickly looked away in embarrassment.

"Yeah, well, you're not a fish. By aquatic standards I might be downright hideous."

Ike had either not noticed his blush, or tried to downplay it; either way, the sentiment was appreciated. Composing himself, Pit slowly got to his feet, collecting his fishing pole, and followed the mercenary off the rock. Ike had placed his pole in the sand by the basket and his discarded cloak, the latter of which he was sitting on as he removed his boots and started to roll his pant legs up.

"What are you doing?" Pit questioned, placing his pole next to Ike's.

"I feel like building a sandcastle," Ike replied. "Don't want to get sand in my boots. Besides, nothing compares to walking barefoot on the beach."

"I thought that was one of those things that only lovers did. You know, by moonlight, and stuff."

"Awful hard to build a sandcastle in the dark." Ike looked up at Pit with a mischievous smile – the kind that said he knew exactly what Pit had been talking about, and was choosing to be difficult.

Pit sighed, lightly knocking his companion on the head. "I meant the walking barefoot part."

"Oh. Well. Hm. You see, walking barefoot in warm sand is one of the best feelings in the world. So if it's been reserved for lovers at moonlight, I'm just going to have to break the rules." Ike grinned, and tugged on the strap of Pit's sandal. "Try it."

Pit slowly bent to remove his footwear before following Ike down to the edge of the water. The mercenary was right: the way the warm sand cradled each footstep felt wonderful, and when a small wave washed cool water over his feet, Pit giggled in joy. Ike grinned at him, also enjoying the movement of the surf, though Pit noticed that his companion's gaze was far away, lost in thought or memory. Though Ike did not stop smiling, his smile turned wistful and a little bit sad as he gazed over the ocean. Not wanting to intrude on the mercenary's thoughts, but not wanting to see him sad either, Pit broke the silence with a question.

"So," he began, "how does one go about building a sandcastle?"

Ike turned to his companion with a grin, the sadness gone from his eyes, and the rest of the afternoon hours were spent in the packing of wet sand into complex shapes. The surf had crept up on Ike, much to Pit's amusement, and the mercenary stomped about, complaining about the wet tails of his tunic before finally giving in and taking it off. Underneath he was clad in a simple sleeveless shirt, the dark red a stark contrast to the blue tunic he usually wore. From the moment Ike had removed the garment, Pit found he needed to be conscious of where his eyes wandered: the color was pleasing when set against Ike's skin tone, and the lack of sleeves showed off his arms nicely. Still, the taller man didn't seem to notice his attentions, and Pit gave up trying to stop his eyes from sneaking glances when his companion's back was turned.

Afternoon gradually rolled into evening, the last rays of the setting sun glinting pleasantly off the waves. It glinted too off the shells and pebbles decorating the walls of the extensive castle Pit and Ike built, and the two sat back to admire their creation. There was no plan to the design – unless "whatever, wherever" could be defined as a plan – the whole construct a mass of towers, walls, battlements, no less than three large courtyards, a moat and a lumpy, half-squashed building that Ike insisted was a stable after the horses had gotten out of control (in reality, Pit had seen him slip and squish the thing). Presently the two Smashers were reclining on the beach – Ike's cloak, when spread, made a great blanket – finishing the last of the picnic and relaxing as the stars started to wink into existence. Pit leaned back on his hands, staring at the sky, and couldn't help the wistful sigh that escaped his lips.

"Seashell for your thoughts," said Ike, flipping one of the mentioned items into the air. He caught it on the downward spiral, holding it out for Pit to take.

The angel took the offered shell, running his finger over the ridged edge. His attention still on the sky, he answered Ike's query slowly. "I...I miss flying."

"Hey, cheer up. You'll be back in the air in no time."

"No, it's...I'm really glad you took the time to spend with me. I've had a lot of fun. And you were right, you do know all kinds of neat things I never knew about the ground." Pit smiled, briefly meeting Ike's gaze before turning his eyes back to the sky. "But there's nothing like flying through the evening breeze, just as the stars come out. It's kind of magical. Oh, I probably sound like an idiot."

"You don't sound like an idiot." Ike's voice was soft, his smile warm when Pit turned to meet his eyes once more. "It does sound magical, the way you describe it. I'm sure you'll be back to it soon."

"I hope so," Pit sighed. Making himself more comfortable, he continued to gaze at the sky, lost in thought. The two companions remained in silent contemplation until the yawns set in, and they dragged themselves from the beach back to their flats.

Back in his small apartment, Ike quickly found and studied the event schedule. The stage he wanted was available at several times; all he needed was to check one thing with the doctors and his plan would be set to go.

Still, the blue-haired mercenary couldn't help but to think on the glances Pit had kept sending his way. He knew the angel's youthful appearance was deceiving – Pit was hardly a young boy – but he couldn't help but wonder if he was interpreting things correctly.

Pit was perplexed when Ike knocked on his door a few days later. He knew the taller man had a match this afternoon – indeed, Ike was toting the Ragnell and wearing the look Pit had come to recognize as his pre-battle concentration mask – but he didn't expect the letter that Ike thrust into his hands. With a brief smile and a wave Ike was off, headed for the arenas – Pit, due to get his splint removed today, would be unable to make it back to the arena in time for Ike's match. Calling out good-luck wishes, acknowledged as Ike half-turned and waved once more, Pit closed the door and looked curiously at the letter in his hand.

His curiosity grew upon reading the letter's contents. Sunset was still several hours off, and if Ike wanted to hang out again there would have been time when his match ended, rather than waiting until the evening hours. Still, Pit realized that the mercenary probably wanted some time to himself after the battle to review his performance or something. And really, Ike had come up with fun activities the other times they'd spent together, so Pit supposed that it was to be another, similar outing.

Ike hurried down to the beach from his flat, running his hand through his still-damp hair one final time before tying on his customary headband. His match against Samus had been both vigorous and invigorating, the workout spiking his adrenaline and prompting him to accept a second, unofficial match from the bounty hunter. Her intensity was contagious, and Ike loved nothing more than matching his skill against an equally passionate fighter. Still, the extra time he'd taken meant less time to prepare for his evening plans, and he now had to hurry. He'd put in a reservation for the field this night, and was eager to make sure everything was as he needed it.

The sun had set, giving the sky over to the light of the stars. Ike had just finished checking everything when he heard the approach of soft sandals on cobblestones. He looked up to see Pit approaching him, stepping lightly over the sand to reach Ike's side. Upon doing so the angel looked up at him, confused: on his approach Ike had activated the Delfino battle stage, and the platforms rose to hover slightly above the soft sand.

"Ike? What's up?" Pit questioned. He stepped cautiously onto the edge of the platform, coming up next to the taller warrior.

"You got your splint off today," Ike replied with a grin. "How does it feel?"

"I...yeah, I did," Pit replied, stretching the still-bandaged wing out. "It's a relief, but I still have to wear the bandage until it's fully healed. And no flying. But, it feels better."

"I'm glad." Ike shot the angel a smile before turning to look at the stars once more. The moon was in its last crescent, a thin, pale light in a corner of the sky that seemed to shy out of the way of the brilliant stars. The stars, for their part, seemed glad of the spotlight, twinkling and shining brightly in the midnight-blue sky. Ike happily gazed at the silver-specked canopy until Pit's voice brought him out of his reverie.

"Ike, what are we doing out here? And why did you activate the stage?"

At the question, Ike smiled widened and he turned to his companion once more. "Tonight, Pit, you're going to fly."

The look of absolute confusion on Pit's face was priceless, and Ike could not hold in the chuckle that bubbled past his lips. "B-but, the doctors...and my wing...and why are you laughing?" Pit managed to stammer out.

Ike touched the control to activate the stage's movement – a program he'd created himself, just for this occasion – and turned to his companion, taking hold of Pit's waist. With a soft "trust me" he hoisted Pit into the air as the stage began to move, steadily holding the angel aloft. As the stage gained speed Pit stretched his wings out: he extended the healthy one its entire impressive length while merely slightly spreading the bandaged one. Laughter tumbled out of the angel, and Ike held the blue-eyed gaze steadily, his own smile reflecting shared joy. One of Pit's hands snaked down to his waist, squeezing Ike's hand briefly, before the angel raised his arms to his sides, closing his eyes and throwing his head back. Ike's breath caught in his throat at the sight: the look on Pit's face, his outline surrounded by the starry sky, made Ike realize exactly how angelic the youth really looked. Then Pit's eyes opened once more, and Ike's breath rushed out of his lungs all at once.

It wasn't flying, but it was the closest he was going to get for the time being. And even though he was supported by hands, not his own wings, the sensation was no less magical, and Pit threw his head back happily.

Stars twinkled overhead, and the wind caused by the stage's movement rushed through Pit's feathers, gently ruffling them. Pit had always believed that the stars gave some kind of magic to the evening wind – a tiny sprinkling of stardust, or something – but the flight this night was even more magical than usual. He supposed that it had something to do with his companion.

Ike's hands were strong and sure on his waist, and the swordsman easily held Pit above his head. Muscles that were trained for battle and could swing his large sword as if it were nothing had no trouble supporting Pit's weight, despite the wind and the drag that Pit knew his wings must produce. He opened his eyes to check, to make sure he was not creating a burden for Ike, and was taken back by what he saw.

Ike's cloak whipped about, at times trying to tangle in his legs and at times flying out behind him. Similarly, the headband whipped around his face, and Ike's short hair was definitely wind-tossed. But it was his eyes, deep blue and reflecting the light of the stars, that drew Pit's immediate attention. Ike's eyes stared up at Pit, so full of unspoken emotion that Pit instantly believed in stardust, because surely it was all gathered in Ike's eyes shining in that singular moment.

Pit lowered his arms, bringing his hands down to clasp Ike's wrists. Likewise, he folded his wings, tucking the soft feathers tight against his back. Ike tilted his head in confusion, but lowered the angel back to the platform of the stage. His hands, however, did not leave Pit's waist; likewise, Pit's own grip remained, though it slid up until his own hands rested just below Ike's elbows.

"Is something wrong?" Ike asked as Pit regained his footing.

"Nothing. It's wonderful, but there's only one problem." Pit smiled at Ike, before lowering his eyes nervously, looking for courage.

"What? What's wrong?" Concern leaked into Ike's voice, and he hunched his shoulders, trying to lower his head enough to catch Pit's eyes again. "It didn't hurt your wing, did it?"

"My wing is fine, it felt great to have the wind in it again. No," Pit said, raising his gaze once more, "the problem is that when I am all healed, I won't have the pleasure of your arms holding me aloft when I fly." With that softly spoken statement, Pit leaned forward, brushing his lips lightly against Ike's.

Ike's hands at Pit's waist tightened their grip before slackening again, thumbs tracing tiny circles in the fabric of Pit's toga. "I'll help you fly any time," Ike whispered against Pit's lips, before pulling the angel closer and deepening their kiss.

Slowly, the Delfino stage descended earthwards, its programmed flight pattern at an end. The stage's occupants, however, remained wrapped tightly in each other's arms, still flying by the light of the stars.