This will be the last fic for the Days Of Our Lives arc. A problem I've realized when writing Reflection is that I can't really link it to the rest of the arc for fear of confusing newer readers – I hope I do have some – actually, all seven fics might have been better off as a larger 47-chapter one. Too late for that now.
I strongly suggest you read at least Days of Our Lives before this last chapter. Of course, reading through the entire arc is preferred, but if you don't like my style of writing so be it, I hope you'll find something more to your taste elsewhere. No hard feelings.
So with this, the arc will finally come to a close, and I'll take a break from writing for a while. It's been my first foray into fanfic-writing, and I'm honored to have so many kind reviewers and readers. Do look out for the upcoming murder-mystery Cheers, I promise it'll be a better effort.
My gratitude goes out to all those who have commented, reviewed, alerted or faved. Many thanks to Fantasy Girl, Sir Starlll, Froggiecool, Gerti, Pikachu127, BY021, Xainagal, Diabowserker, Rhenroh, negative panda, Sugar Baby Cresselia, inubaka07, jade-song, Lord of Darkrai, Coyote 71, Raidoni, Espolchu and Kyuu333. If I've missed out anyone…
And also, I owe a big debt of gratitude to lupyne, Shadow Blues, NinjaSheik, Souldin and Dusk-N-Dawn for following me around for so long – thanks for your support, critiques and encouragement; you've really made my short stay here at FF very, very worth it.
Of course, to you, for reading. And not to bore you any further with outpourings of appreciation, please do enjoy.
With many thanks,
Wind silently descended upon the Mansion's Roof, circling it and picking up little fallen leaves and debris in its path. With inquisitive hands the wind stirred them around, causing the dried leaves to come to life, dancing and twirling, floating dreamily across the rooftop.
The dance of the leaves was watched intently by a small rodent-like being, his eyes wide as he watched the slow waltz of brown and gold across the Roof. Almost as if they were aware of his presence, the leaves made their way over to him, serenading him, circling him gently, the wind caressing his short fur. Pikachu craned his head, watching the slow dance of leaves around him, until the wind decided it was time, snatching the leaves away and whisking them into the air.
Pikachu blinked, continuing to watch the leaves ascend higher and higher, until they were all but lost from sight. Snatched suddenly into the sky.
The rooftiles clattered as he moved, but the sound no longer scared him. He remembered the times when he was a Pichu, not daring to even touch a trembling tile on the roof for fear that it would dislodge or hurt him. Or worse still, if the wind would pick up his light Pichu body and hurl him over the edge of the roof.
But even as a Pikachu he was timid.
Well, not anymore. Pikachu bravely stepped out onto the roof. Even with his light weight, the tiles still clacked loudly beneath his paws, shaking slightly from his presence. Pikachu used to imagine the worst; the clacking tiles as hostile Houndoom barking – but now it sounded almost soothing, like old friends welcoming a long-lost acquaintance.
Pikachu remembered his first trip to the roof. As a Pichu, he was naturally curious; but his first – and last – trip involved a very large gust of wind and a telekinetically-powered rescue team, and so naturally he never went again. But after evolving, he remained timid and intimidated by his first encounter, and so decided never to risk it ever again.
Until one lonely night.
It was the kind of night when no one should be up and awake. It was black as darkest pitch outside the Mansion, and Pikachu's hackles rose all the way up his back as the wind buffeted against the Mansion's windows. Settling down for the night, Pikachu was all ready to enter the sweet world of dreams, until –
There was a soft tap, followed by another. And another. Soon it had grew into a veritable orchestral rhythm of taps and faint crashes, usually much too soft for anyone else to hear. Pikachu winced, feeling the double-edged nature of his gift of superior hearing, and cautiously pushed his door open.
What possessed him to scout for the source of the sound, Pikachu could not say. It was almost as if it was slightly hypnotic in its nature, reaching out to Pikachu's subconscious and pulling at his little heart.
After a while of pattering around, Pikachu located the stairs to the Rooftop once again. It was a long time since he had seen it, but it still remained as musty and hidden as ever. Somehow, even though he had grown physically bigger, the staircase did not seem to diminish, still standing tall and defiant.
Yet the sounds definitely came from above, through the trapdoor that was the exit to the Roof. Pikachu shivered involuntarily. Which out-of-their-mind Smasher would choose to rattle the tiles at this unearthly hour…
Nervously, Pikachu placed a paw on the first step.
Nothing happened. Satisfied that the stairs would neither crumble or swallow him whole, Pikachu leaped onto the first step on all fours, then progressed rapidly all the way up, his paws pattering loudly on each step. The first couple of steps were cleared with no problem, but the Pokémon stared at the final step that led outside into the Roof proper.
With determination in his features, he slipped the goggles he had had as a Pichu over his eyes, the blue goggles immediately giving the Pokémon a sense of security and a wave of warmth. Pikachu gathered up his courage and broke the barrier that he as a Pichu never really managed to; bracing himself and leaping forward with his eyes closed.
He opened them to see the Roof in all its naked glory – or was that emptiness?
No one was there. Stepping forward, he examined the tiles that had frightened him so as a Pichu. It still did, but it no longer looked so unfriendly. But the wind increased, the tiles rattling ominously – and all he got for his labour was a leaf blown straight into his face, knocking him backwards back towards the Mansion proper.
Convinced that the wind was the guilty party, Pikachu put the incident out of his mind and continued on his carefree life at the Mansion. However, a couple of days after the ugly Assist Pokémon Trainer-Lucario incident, the rattlings started up again.
Curious, Pikachu decided to pursue the matter to its end. However, he hadn't had the courage to work up for quite a long time, the incidents continuing for months on end, Pikachu always falling asleep to the soft rhythmic drumming from the roof.
One night when it happened, Pikachu finally decided to act; silently making his way up to the roof, the stairs this time proving to be much less of an obstacle – even though it still sent shivers up his spine when confronted with the last one.
Silently peeking out over the rim of the exit, Pikachu found his answer.
The tiles were clacking and the wind was blowing alright, but the main cause of it was a dancing blue figure. Lucario completed his training regimen, blue Aura fire a-flaring around his paws as he swirled. And as if on cue, he halted mid-turn to stare directly at Pikachu, his red eyes linking with Pikachu's own ruby ones.
Startled, Pikachu stepped back, but Lucario's eyes immediately softened somewhat. It was an almost unnoticeable gesture, but the fellow Pokémon spotted it nonetheless.
On hindsight, the Roof wasn't that scary a place. After all, look where he was now – on its edge, resting on the very tiles that used to send him scurrying to the warmth of the Mansion.
Since that day, Pikachu had never asked Lucario to accompany him to the Roof, no matter how their relationship had warmed up over time. To him, the Roof still held a sense of the forbidden, of the scary, and Pikachu didn't have the guts to conquer it back then.
Lucario would have been proud of him now, and not for the first time Pikachu wished that the other Pokémon would visit the Roof once in a while.
Pattering on the steps made Pikachu prick up his ears and quickly snap backwards. For a moment reminded of how Lucario would have probably felt that night as Pikachu crept towards the Roof, he pushed the thought away as the shadows fell away, revealing a few Smashers clambering up.
The kid Smashers saw Pikachu, waving to him. Scampering over to them, the rodent Pokémon nuzzled into Nana's smooth parka, with the rest of the Smashers standing or squatting around them. Popo playfully tapped Pikachu's head with his mallet, the rodent squirming and trying to gnaw at its wooden handle.
Amid the soft laughter of the children, Lucas allowed himself to plop onto the Roof, kicking back and looking at the sky.
After a while, the other Smashers followed suit, sprawling into rested positions on the roof. Pikachu chattered away with the Climbers, while the Earthbound boys and Toon Link admired the night.
Pulling out an odd-shaped instrument, Toon Link began to whistle a tune, the soft and soothing melody caressing the Smashers' ears. Just as it did, a small gust of wind kicked up, becoming a cocoon of invigorating air as it wrapped itself around them. They breathed in deeply, many closing their eyes, as they took in the cool, crisp air, which reminded them of Spring.
The Ice Climbers pushed open the double doors, the other kid Smashers following their lead. Walking out in the Garden Grounds, it was just the beginning of spring, and a new layer of grass had covered the ground. The kids, instead of frolicking in the grass or playing an enthusiastic game involving running and hammers and Lucas' Rope Snake, made straight for a shadowy grove in the corner of the Garden.
"Hello, Lucario." Nana plopped herself down on the grass, stretching her legs slightly. Beside her, Popo did the same, setting down his mallet by his side. Toon Link and the Earthbound boys sat, too, Lucas wielding a small shovel in his hands.
"We've ran out of Oran berries, and new stock isn't coming in any time soon." Popo fiddled a little with the tin of berries he was holding in his mittens. The kids looked up, as if expecting an answer from the Pokémon. To be honest, any answer would have been good, even to see his familiar face look up from a meditation session with a slightly exasperated look.
But the gravestone didn't respond.
"So here, we're planting a berry…" The kid Smashers scrambled to their feet, running behind the headstone. Lucas picked up his little spade and started to carve out a little niche some way behind the headstones, with Toon Link and Ness peering over his shoulders, before Nana dropped the berry in.
"…so that we'll have a berry tree…" Toon Link and Ness pushed up the earth that Lucas had dug up, filling in the hole and making a tiny hill of dirt. While Toon Link tried to wipe his hands on his tunic, Popo evenly flattened the hill with a gentle touch from his hammer.
"…and have more Oh-ran berries in the future…" "It's Oran berries," Ness whispered, eliciting a round of soft chuckles. They stepped back in front of the headstones, looking proudly at the little mound of earth that represented their buried fruit.
As they did so, there was a sudden change. A light wind blew past, slowly becoming stronger until it was a gentle breeze. It ran about them, ruffling their heads and circling them, a rare, refreshing aura; as if it was giving them thanks for what they had done. In unison, they closed their eyes, allowing the cool breeze to softly touch their cheeks.
Later, as they made their way up the steps back into the Mansion, Nana turned to Popo. "How long does a Pokémon tree take to grow?" Popo shrugged. "Do I look like a Pokémon to you?" His companion playfully batted him over the head with her hammer as the kids disappeared behind the door.
At the sudden sound of a footstep immediately behind them, the kid Smashers jumped up in fright and surprise. Lucas gave a yelp, while Nana instinctively grabbed Pikachu with one hand. In a single, fluid movement, she picked up her mallet from the ground, swinging it in front of her in a well-practiced stroke, yelling and screwing her eyes shut.
The mallet collided head-on with a shadowy figure, giving a satisfying thunk. The sheer impact sent the figure stumbling to the side, tripping and sprawling across the floor, emitting a familiar yelp of pain.
Nana froze in place, her hammer still lifted up, and still clutching Pikachu tightly. The Pokémon himself was surprised, but now peered over her parka to look at their assailant.
Nana's eyes went wide.
"Uh… Mr. McCloud?..."
Groaning, Fox sat up, rubbing the side of his muzzle with a paw and holding his head in another. "That hurt, you know?" As the kid Smashers rushed over to him, babbling words of apologies, Fox raised a paw to wave them off. Chuckling slightly, he rose, still scratching the back of his head sheepishly.
"Not good enough," a second voice broke their thoughts. The kid Smashers snapped around, weapons at the ready, only to see the mercenary Snake whip out from behind his cardboard box. "Not silent enough," he added, the hint of a smile starting to form on his lips.
Fox stretched, yawning, making sure that his jaw still worked. Snapping it shut, he grinned sheepishly at the spy. "I'm still workin' on it. But these kids are sharp," he added, patting the hood of Nana's parka.
In a few short minutes, the group settled back on the Roof. While the kids continued to amuse themselves, Fox and Snake sat slightly further away, chatting. In a while, Fox yawned, reclining back on the rooftiles and staring into the sky, allowing his mind to drift and revisit times past.
Fox reclined back on the large stone bench, making a mental note to himself to get Lucario to open up. Prodding him with questions about the Pokémon's mate backfired – it only got him into embarrassment when Lucario diverted the conversation to Krystal. He could have sworn he saw a smile linger on Lucario's lips when he threatened to ask Falco.
That birdbrain would have spilled everything and then some, not to mention – no, Falco'd promised not to say anything! He wouldn't have dared, that flea-ridden crow…
Fox tried his best not to let anything show on his face, but evidently he failed, for the rare look of amusement on Lucario's broadened.
The great leader of Star Fox was reduced to hastily changing the subject to Lucario's non-existent mate. Fox mentally patted himself on the back for successfully hijacking the conversation, launching into a full-out rant on how Lucario should find himself a mate. The Pokémon had an amused expression throughout – something rare, Fox mused – while Fox continued to expound on the beauty of love.
In the middle of Fox laughing about Falco-Katt stories perpetuating amongst the Star Fox crew, Lucario interrupted his sentence about how everyone – wise-cracking falcons included – may just be able to find love.
That may be true, but my kind are not easily loved, he observed. Fox waved a paw dismissively, slowly sitting upright.
"You're kidding. Who wouldn't like you? Why wouldn't anyone like you? You're, uh, loyal…" Lucario tilted his head to one side, still staring at him, Fox stammering a little, trying to count off his paws. "And aw, come on, even Star Wolf members have their eyes on someone. You've got to –" Here Fox was interrupted when Lucario suddenly raised both his forepaws outstretched towards Fox.
Fox froze in position. What? he thought blankly, before his brain suddenly roared into action, processing what the Pokémon had just said. His still-open jaw dropped even further, and with it his eyes… which rested now on an uncomfortably large spike protruding out of Lucario's chest.
Still staring at the spike, which now glinted dangerously in the soft summer light, Fox involuntarily shuffled back an inch.
Lucario saw his eyes focus on his chest-spike, and withdrew his hands, his lips twisting in a wry smile. Does this answer your question, Fox-san?
In any case, it ended well. After some more teasing, him and Lucario managed to peacefully rest together, calmly discussing cloud shapes – the Pokémon seemed to have an secret knack for picking out shapes – before it started raining, the group of grumbling Smashers slowly trudging into the Mansion. Fox grinned inwardly. Lucario apparently wasn't as cold as he thought. He made a mental note to do this again next year.
Next year never came.
It was surprising that in a short span of a year, almost everything had changed. Falco was gone. So was Lucario. Zelda, Luigi, the Assists' Trainer… The most he could do now was to stare at a gravestone and imagine the smart-mouthed falcon was carelessly perched atop of it, nodding and cracking his bad jokes; or the Pokémon silently meditating in the corner, or –
Sometimes he could do it. Sometimes he couldn't. Today was one of those days he didn't even bother to pretend. Ignoring the blissful spring weather, the vulpine trudged over to a large tree behind the headstones, plopping down in its quiet shade. Sighing slightly, he allowed his eyes to travel across the morning sky.
But today was a little different. Apparently, Pikachu had also taken it into his mind to visit the graves this morning, cuddling up next to the warm fox in the crisp spring air. Fox was absentmindedly scratching Pikachu's head, both of them slowly descending into light sleep.
A light wind kicked up, circling around the tree, causing the branches to sway a little in the breeze. The rustling of the leaves woke Fox up from his shut-eye, staring drowsily at the waving branches, while Pikachu stirred slightly but continued sleeping.
There was a soft snap, and something clattered past the leaves, landing with a soft pat on Fox's lap. It took a second for the fox to respond but he slowly reached and picked it up, willing his mind to make sense of the image.
It was a short twig with some round fruit on the end. Small tender leaves were present, along with small buds about the tips of the branches. The berries themselves were almost ripe, smelling a little sweet and very much like spring.
Fox looked up into the tree, still sleepy and slightly confused. Since when did we have an Oran berry tree here?...
Fox nodded absentmindedly, his paw lightly stroking Pikachu's head. In response, Pikachu rolled on his back, sitting upright. The Climbers huddled closer towards them, the Earthbound boys and Toon Link following suit.
They looked up into the wide sky.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?" Nana murmured. Popo nodded silently, setting his hammer on the roof beside him.
There were no stars around the Smash Mansion, in sharp contrast to the brilliance of space or the regions that most of Smashers were used to. The Mansion was surrounded by near pitch-black darkness after the end of day, only mere pinpricks of light coming from faraway stages.
Fox remembered Falco always ranting about how Lylat was so much better-looking, and what the heck was he even doing here, and how Peppy forgot his last paycheck; and the kid Smashers remembered how once Lucario described the remarkable sky in his world, sketching out non-existent constellations with his paw.
Even Toon Link remembered what Zelda had once said about stars; and how her attacks always reminded him of them. Even when he took her on in a Brawl, he'd still be mesmerized by the flashes of brilliance and the shining little diamonds which winked into existence at her every move. And of course, the Hylian princess wasn't one to complain, but he had seen her gazing wistfully into the Mansion's black night, as if something wasn't quite right.
However, after Tabuu's second attack, something had happened, drastically changing their view of the sky. It was now no longer completely dark, even though it was in the middle of the night, where the blackness should have been the most prevalent.
Fox sighed, scratching his head with a paw.
"They'd have loved this." The kids nodded a little, but remained silent; opting to enjoy the scenery that was laid out in front of them.
Master Hand had hung flares all about, in the same way that certain stages were suspended in space like the Smash Mansion. Just as the flares served as warnings, they served as lights, and the kid Smashers only needed to look out of their windows at night to see their pale, comforting light streaming through the glass.
Whatever provided the light about the Smash Mansion gradually dimmed or set, allowing the sky to fade from a pale orange to a deep blue, now shimmering with the new sources of light.
The Ice Climbers exhaled slowly, icy breath crystallizing in the cool night air. Small snowflakes danced about in the air, reflecting the light from the flares, and were caught up in the refreshing wind. Fractured reflections swirled about on the Mansion's Roof, twinkling and sparkling even as the snowflakes dissolved and disappeared.
To an outsider, the flares were nothing more than practical tools, used to illuminate and protect. However, to them, to the Smashers, they were more than that. They were reminders of the past, the faces of those no longer with them smiling; they were blazing lights lighting up the many, many paths of the future.
And they were also brilliant stars.
Days of Our Lives