SchmEthan here:

YES! I AM BACK!!! After a huge hiatus, I just felt compelled to come back into writing. Mostly because it's Easter and I'm bored to tears, but the point still stands! I wanted to write a oneshot to get me back into the swing of things, and I wrote it a bit sporadically, so it may have a lot of different moods. But here it is, my super duper comeback! = D


And that's to say thank you…

When Krystal's alarm clock buzzed into life, she desperately struggled to ignore it and sink back into her blissful dream of the day she first met Fox seven months ago. Resistance was futile, however, as she was well and truly awake within a few seconds of the wakeup call. She reached out a paw to cancel the alarm, before the action melded into a stretch and a yawn. The vixen was a little sad that her dream had ended so soon, but then she realised that today was no day for her to be gloomy.

Because today was Krystal's birthday.

She gasped with delight and bounded into the ensuite, eager to get washed and ready for the day. It was her first birthday celebration with the Star Fox team and she was looking forward to it more than anything she could think of. She was careful not to mention it too often, however, for fear of sounding greedy. Although she knew that she wouldn't get the same parades and performances that she did back on Cerinia (the thought caused a prick of sorrow within her heart, albeit only for a moment), Krystal couldn't wait for the small gifts from her friends and family which could say and mean so much. And of course, the party.

Brimming with excited energy, Krystal took a shower in record time, while still managing to keep herself looking good. She did a quick spot check in the mirror before taking a few deep breaths to calm down and stepping out into the hall to embrace the day. She pondered for a moment as to where she was going to head first. To her conscious self, she was simply deciding where to start. However, deep, deep inside her wondrous mind, she was guessing where Fox would be at such a time in the morning. Although she wouldn't admit it to herself, Fox had left a rather muscular, handsome, caring impression on her. In fact, although she tried to fight it, she was developing a crush on the vulpine. And fast.

Krystal decided to head towards the kitchen with a small skip in her step, as she was still brimming with excitement. Who she would find beyond the door was a mystery; she avoided the direct use of telepathy in fear of spoiling any surprises that she might have had in store. She approached the door and, while it opened automatically, she subconsciously prayed that Fox would be waiting for her. The door slid open to reveal...

"Slippy?" she asked, genuinely confused. Anyone who saw Slippy up as early as that without a good reason was lucky indeed. He put down his cheese-on-toast and opened his mouth to greet the vixen, but only managed a huge yawn. Krystal noticed just how groggy he looked. "Why are you up at this time?" she asked, half-expectantly.

"Actually, I've been up all night," came the tired reply before the frog took another bite of his breakfast. "Fox wanted me to do some work on his Arwing for this morning. Long job- one of the g-diffusers was completely wrecked."

"Ah, I see," sighed Krystal. But, having the kind heart that she did, she perked up again. "Do you know what day it is today?"

After another yawn, Slippy replied. "It's Monday... I think... why?"

Krystal sighed yet again. "My birthday, remember?"

The frog's eyes widened as he realised. "Oh! Hold on a minute!" With that, he dashed off down the hall as fast as his stubby legs would allow.

Meanwhile, Krystal couldn't help but snigger at his sudden understanding. Slippy was brilliant, but he had the memory span of a goldfish. She reached into the cupboard for a packet of cereal.

"Do you think you could hold on for a bit longer?" Krystal heard from behind her. A smile spread across her face as she turned to face the one person she knew wouldn't forget.

"Morning, Peppy," she greeted with a smile. "Why should I wait?"

"Well, Fox told us to wait a little later for breakfast this morning. Said he had something important to take care of."

"Ah..." Krystal wondered what this 'important business' was, but assumed it was just some administration or something. "Well, that's OK."

"Oh, and before I forget..." At this point, Peppy opened one of the kitchen cabinets to reveal a present complete with a card. Krystal brought her paws to her mouth- she was about to receive her first ever Lylatian birthday present. "Happy birthday, Krystal!"

The vixen didn't even bother to take the present; she simply stepped up and hugged the hare. "Thank you, Peppy!"

"Not a problem, Krystal," replied Peppy, returning the embrace. "Now, do you want to see what you've got?"

A squeal of delight followed as the hare handed her the present with a smile. She opened the envelope first to reveal a yellow card. The message on the front read "It hasn't been long..." with a picture of a girl looking a little lost. She opened the card to see the main text on the card: "...but you fit right in!" and the once- confused girl was chatting away to all her friends. She smiled at Peppy's caring choice of card before reading the message that Peppy had written "Happy birthday, Krystal! Hope you have a brilliant day! Lots of love, Peppy." She turned to the hare, who hadn't stopped smiling. "Thank you, Peppy!"

"Oh, don't mention it," the hare replied. "Now, how about that present?"

With a nod, she deftly undid the paper to reveal a small box. She lifted the lid to find a stunning golden bracelet decorated with jewels the same colour as her necklace and tiara. It was a very thoughtful gift indeed and she expected no less from the person who had cared for her in a way that nobody else could.

"Peppy," she breathed, "...this is beautiful."

The hare nodded. "I know how you like your jewellery, and when I saw that, it just screamed your name. Once again, happy birthday, Krystal. You deserve it."

Krystal lifted the bracelet and slipped it onto her right wrist. It was a little loose, but she didn't mind. She immediately turned around and hugged Peppy again. "Thank you! Thank you so much Peppy!"

"Hey," he resisted, "it's your birthday. You should expect a bit more than this, let me tell you."

The pair laughed as Krystal looked at the time. "Hmm... I wonder where everyone else is?"

"Go ahead and find them. And have fun! That's the most important thing."

"Alright, Peppy," she said with a smile. "Thanks again!" With that, she started down the hall, turning to wave to Peppy. She genuinely felt happy. Her first birthday present from a loving friend. Who would her second be from?

Krystal heard footsteps coming around the corner, followed by a whistling sound. She knew that this could only mean one thing. Falco.

The avian strutted around the corner without a care in Lylat. He spotted Krystal and performed a sloppy salute. "Morning, K. How ya doin?"

The vixen wasn't expecting Falco to remember her birthday, so she played along for the meantime. "Oh, doing good. Up nice and early, I see?"

"Yeah," he replied, "courtesy of Foxy."

Krystal began to get suspicious of Fox's busy schedule. "How do you mean?"

"Well, he stormed in this morning and woke me up, just to tell me that he was going out and that I was in charge! I mean, I know I'm in charge when he's out! Let's see how he likes it being woken up at six in the morning!"

The vixen couldn't help but chuckle at the fact that Falco was no morning person. "Well, that does sound like something Fox would do, just to be sure and all that." Krystal decided to delve further into the mystery. "Did he say why he was going out today?"

Falco shook his head. "Didn't say a thing, and I haven't seen him since. I thought you might know."

"I haven't seen him since yesterday," she told him. "I'm beginning to worry."

"You don't need to worry about him; he'll be fine! He always is." Falco held his fingers to his beak as he tried to remember something. "There's nothing special happening today, is there? Or am I just being pedantic?"

"Do you even know what pedantic means?" Krystal wondered with a smirk.

"Uh... sort of..." One 'look' from the vixen and his answer became "Not really..."

"Thought so," she chuckled. "And, as a matter of fact, today is a special day"

Before Falco could ask what it was, Slippy came bounding around the corner, pretty much crashing into Falco from behind. "Oh... uh... sorry, Falco."

Said avian promptly spun around to face his teammate. "You wanna watch where you're going, kay?"

"Uh, sure..." Slippy brushed Falco aside and held up an envelope to Krystal. As soon as he saw the gift, Falco's eyes widened. Oh no... Don't tell me I've forgotten-

"Happy birthday, Krystal!" beamed the frog as he handed her the card. Although Krystal was overjoyed to receive the gift, she chose to pay more attention to Falco instead. His eyes were wide and his beak dropped. "Your birthday..."

"Yes, my birthday," confirmed the vixen, without any trace of spite or disappointment. She rather enjoyed the fact that Falco was mentally kicking himself and muttering various obscenities as he continued on his way to the kitchen.

"Did he forget?" asked Slippy, with a similar smirk to Krystal's.

"You know him," she replied. "And I doubt I would have got anything special from him anyway. Which brings me to this." She waved the card a little before opening the envelope. Rather than receiving the card she thought she would, there was a small, credit card-shaped object with a touch screen control instead. "This looks like an Arwing card..." Krystal mused aloud, recognising the card from her training.

Slippy beamed as Krystal fathomed whether or not the frog could really have rustled up an Arwing for her birthday. "That's because it is!"

Words couldn't convey the vixen's shock as she gasped at the prospect. "No!"

"Yes! You wanna see it?" Slippy asked with a grin.

A smile spread across Krystal's face. "Of course!"

"Follow me!" With that, Slippy bolted off towards the garage with Krystal firmly in tow. The latter was gleefully speculating if the former could possibly have bought her her very own Arwing. I thought Fox was going to handle it... Well, maybe it's a joint effort...

Just before the pair reached the garage door, Slippy asked Krystal to close her eyes, to which she complied. She felt herself being led into the garage and towards the docking bays. The excitement was almost too much to bear. So many gifts and other acts of kindness all in one day! Although, she had yet to see Fox...

"OK, Krystal," she heard Slippy say, "open your eyes!"

The vixen did just that to be met with a wonderful sight. Her own Arwing, identical to the other new Arwing II models, but with slightly softer tones of silver and blue. "Y-you got this for me?" she asked, not believing her eyes.

"Actually, I made it myself!" Slippy proudly stated. "I used parts from Peppy's old Arwing, with his permission, of course, and some spares from the rest of the Arwings. And that's not all!"

While Krystal was still holding the Arwing card, he slid his finger across the screen to which the Arwing canopy opened itself. He beckoned her around to the side of the Arwing to look inside. "The language is set to Saurian, the seat's more adjustable than the others, the scope's a lot wider, without compromising the aim and the interior matches your fur!" The pair couldn't help but laugh at the last modification.

"Slippy," she finally began, almost breathless, "How did you manage all this?"

The frog shrugged before replying. "A little hard work and the fact that I couldn't think of anything else. It was Fox's idea, actually, but..." at this point, he leaned closer to Krystal. "Between you and me, I don't think he'd ever have been able to do it!" After another round of laughter, the vixen grabbed Slippy in a huge hug, almost crushing him. "Thank you! Thank you so much! My very own Arwing!"

Slippy struggled to break free from the tightening grasp. "Uh... yeah... You needed... one sometime!"

Krystal suddenly let go of the frog, a glint in her eye. "Can I try it out?"

"Don't see why not! Just call us if you need any help!" assured Slippy.

The vixen hopped in without hesitation and inserted the card into the reader, starting the Arwing up. "Thanks again, Slippy!" she called out, just before the canopy closed. She ran through all her pre flight checks- like she was taught in her training- before revving the engine, eager to get going. Slippy had opened the air lock and the countdown began until she could leave. Krystal looked over to her left and saw two other Arwings. Hang on... only two? Where's Fox's...?

The anticipation hung thick in the air as she even began shaking at the prospect of her first Arwing flight.

The countdown finished and she sped off as fast as she dared into the marvel of space. She performed a few boosts, loops and tricks, all the while giggling furiously and enjoying every second. After she had calmed down a little and was cruising at a comfortable speed, she decided to check out all the new features. There was radar, Arwing stats for all four members of the team, a mission section, for when it was needed, and a personal organiser. When she came to this particular feature, she noticed that she had one new message from Fox. It was a text only message, and it read; "Hey Krystal. Hope you've had a great birthday so far. Sorry I haven't been able to see you, lots of business to take care of. Which reminds me; if you're reading this, it means Slippy's given you that new Arwing. I hope you like it! (It cost us a fortune to make!) But really, I need you to help me with some of this admin. I'm on Zoness at the moment, so do you think you could make your way there? Thanks a bucket! Fox."

Upon reading the note, Krystal smiled. She knew for a fact that Fox would never need help with administration and that Zoness was a practically undisturbed planet. No one would do external administrative work there and the vulpine had never done so before. She knew that he had obviously planned something big for her birthday. But what, exactly...?

Fox was waiting anxiously for Krystal to arrive at Zoness. He was anxious because he wasn't sure if Krystal would like what he was going to give her, given that it was a little obscure for a birthday present. What if she doesn't like it? I'd have made her come all the way out here for nothing! Or what if she doesn't get the message? Or ignores the message? Oh no...

He closed his eyes and hung his head. He always did this. Any time he did something for Krystal, he always envisioned the worst possible scenario. Which, incidentally, never happened. Everything always turned out brilliantly between them, since they were so friendly and close. And, Fox hastened to admit to himself, he was beginning to like her more and more.

The vulpine was snapped out of his trance by some beeps from his wrist communicator. He checked what the alert was for and grinned massively. Krystal had arrived.

He sat up straight, he fixed his clothes, he started his laptop and he waited. While Krystal landed her Arwing beside his, he pretended to be engrossed in his work at a makeshift desk overlooking the beautiful green Zoness sea. He had another seat and a laptop beside him, obviously meant for the vixen.

As said vixen stepped out of her Arwing, the first thing she saw was the scenery around her. She had been to Zoness a few times before, but never in such a beautiful area. Then she noticed Fox, seemingly engrossed in his work as a desk overlooking the sea. She smiled, sighed and shook her head as she approached him. As she got closer, she realised that he was shaking quite a bit. She began to get a little worried at this and quickened her pace. As soon as she was close enough, she spoke. "Fox?"

Fox clicked a few keys on his keyboard, still shaking, before turning round to face her. "Oh, there you are, K-Krystal," he said, trying his utmost to sound serious. "Why don't you... uh... sit down?" Krystal actually had to hold in laughs as she complied with Fox's request. She knew what he was trying to pull and he was doing a rather terrible job at it.

He looked her in the eye (which seemed to ease his shaking a little bit) and tried to speak. "Uh... Well... Why don't... uh..."

The vixen couldn't hold it in anymore. She laughed and laughed, almost unable to breathe. After an initial shock, Fox joined in the laughter too. They both giggled for a good while before taking a few breaths to settle down.

"That was never going to work, was it?" Fox began.

"Not a chance," came the light-hearted reply. "I knew what you were up to as soon as I got that message."

"Oh well, it was worth a try," he said, still chortling a little. "See, I was going to get you to work on the 'personnel' file, which doesn't really exist, and you would have found the words 'Look under my chair'. And then, surprise surprise, you would have looked under my chair to find..."

Krystal played a long with Fox and looked under his chair. She was intrigued to find a fairly small wrapped present, well hidden beneath his chair. She reached over and pulled it out, the anticipation causing her to shake just as much as Fox.

The vulpine caught on to this. "Hehe. Looking forward to it?"

Krystal looked up. "Of course! But, why are you shaking?" she asked, true concern in her voice.

Fox blushed a little at this. "Well... you see... I'm a bit nervous, actually..." He gave a sheepish smile before looking away slightly.

The vixen looked confused. "Why are you nervous? If anything, it should be me!"

The vulpine chuckled before replying. "Cause... I'm not sure if you'll like what I got you. It's a little... different..."

Krystal smiled at Fox as she prepared to open the present. The latter closed his eyes as he prayed and hoped that she would like it.

He heard a gasp from the vixen. Which is probably a good sign... He opened his eyes to find Krystal staring wide-eyed at his gift. Oh no... was his initial thought. She doesn't like it.

The vixen couldn't believe what Fox had got her. She opened it, and the first page alone showed her more than she needed to know.

"This... is..."

Fox hadn't got Krystal anything as beautiful as the bracelet that she received from Peppy, nor as complicated or expensive as the Arwing Slippy got her. He had gone for something simple, but with such a deep and emotional meaning that Krystal wasn't sure if she was still dreaming or not. Fox had given Krystal a photo album. But not just any old collection of photos. Inside was every single photo of The Star Fox team that Fox could get his paws on. As he flicked through the album, there were hundreds upon hundreds of blue, orange, green and grey flashes as her eyes struggled to take it all in.

"This is... wonderful..." Even after laying eyes on proof, she had difficulty believing that Fox would have gone to such lengths just for a simple birthday present.

"Really?" breathed Fox, with a sigh of relief. "Well, uh, glad you like it..."

Krystal looked up from her beautiful present and looked Fox in the eye. Her aqueous gems connecting with his emerald charms, causing both of them to feel something they thought they never would. Words could never describe such a feeling; they were both lost within themselves, far from any coherent thought.

The vixen was the first to snap out of the trance, only to leap forward and hug Fox so tightly that he had no idea what happened. But he liked it nonetheless.

"Thank you! You couldn't have picked a more thoughtful present! Really, thank you so much!"

Fox, still half-stunned by the vixen's reaction, mumbled back, "You're welcome, Krys." Krystal released her embrace on the vulpine, resting the photo album on her lap, in order to smile at him once again. "I'm relieved that you liked it, to be honest."

The vixen rolled her eyes with a giggle. "I honestly can't think why you worried! It's a beautiful present and I couldn't even have dreamed of anything better!"

"If this is better than your dreams, then I am brilliant!" joked Fox, causing both himself and Krystal to break out in laughter. After they recovered, he continued; "Good old comic relief!" He looked back up at Krystal, who seemed to be gazing off into the distance, only the slightest smile forming at the corner of her muzzle.

"Look," Fox began, causing the vixen to tilt her gaze towards him, "that was sort of a warm up for something..." By this point, the vulpine had turned a healthy shade of red. "Something that I've wanted to say for quite a long time now..."

That hooked Krystal's attention. She was now bound to that vulpine so tightly that she found it painful to even try to look away from him. She could see it, hear it, almost taste it coming. But at the same time, how could she be so sure? It could easily be a 'please leave' scenario, with the photo album to cushion the blow. But would he have put all that effort in just to blow her off? And what if-

Her train of thought was interrupted by a sharp chuckle from the vulpine. "Don't worry, it's not what you're thinking. It's essentially the opposite. See..." Krystal was slightly shocked when he started to move his paws over hers. "You're absolutely amazing. Really. I mean, ever since I met you, I've sort of known it. Almost like a premonition. But... It's turned into a lot more than a premonition." With that, he finally placed his paws on top of hers. "It's turned into love, Krystal. Pure, solid, bright, shining love." He let off a huge grin in her direction. "And it's the most awesome feeling in the world."

Krystal was stunned. More than stunned. Everything Fox said resonated around her head and echoed down into her heart, giving her a feeling she had never felt before in her life. It wasn't even possible to describe to herself, let alone Fox. When his paws rested on hers, the warmth they brought, the physical, emotional warmth that made her feel cosy and left her in a trance she never wanted to leave. And upon the mention of the word love, her heart rate accelerated to heaven, and her mind did the same. She had always dreamed of something like this; the perfect man delivering the perfect emotions towards her. She had never thought Fox was capable. She had dreamt it, but never thought it. And now that she had the chance, she decided to say a few words of her own.

"Fox," she said, holding one of Fox's paws between her own, "I don't know how you managed it, but you took the words right out of my mouth. When you caught me, when I first looked into your eyes, I felt something spark. Almost like we connected. There and then, I wanted to just... just... I don't know." She giggled nervously and looked away from Fox as she continued. "I knew I wanted to be around you. All the time."

She felt two fingers on the side of her muzzle tilt her head back towards reality, and, of course, Fox's eyes.

"And you think I didn't?" he said with a smile.

Neither vixen nor vulpine could believe this was actually happening. Both had dreamed of the things the other might say, but reality was so much sweeter. Not just the words, but the way they said it. They meant it. And everything about them showed it.

Fox pulled himself and his chair closer to Krystal. She could feel his warm breath on her muzzle. He could feel her warmth as he began to run his paw along her arm. She could hear his thoughts take a leap when she smiled and giggled.

This time, both Fox and Krystal edged closer to each other. Almost touching... So close... They-

An alert of some kind pierced the peaceful air from Fox's computer. He nearly fell off his chair, and Krystal let out a little shriek. They looked at each other, shock emanating from their faces.

And then they burst into laughs. Krystal managed to calm herself down enough to speak again. "Talk about a cliché romantic moment. Just as it was getting good," she suggested with a playful wink, causing Fox's heart to yelp.

"I was looking forward to that, too!" he teased, before getting up from his chair and offering Krystal his paw. Confused, she took it, herself getting up. "Oh well. Some other time, eh?" And with that, he strutted off, as if nothing had happened.

By now, Krystal had slipped beyond confusion and into plain worry. Fox would never give up a moment so important to him. Unless...

"Wait, Fox," she started, chasing after him, "what about... well... y'know..."

"What we nearly did?" he translated, without looking around. "Yeah, well, Peppy wants us back now, and he's the boss, so yeah."

Krystal was dumbstruck. "What?!" she almost yelled. You're just gonna get up and go, are you?"

"Well, yes. I kinda have to." He turned around, and looked her in the eye, almost ashamed at what he was about to do. "I'll see you back at the Great Fox, then?" He fought back a cringe as he turned back and continued on to his Arwing.

Krystal's throat contracted. Her eyes began to blur. Her heart nearly stopped. "I... I..." She tried to speak, but absolutely nothing came out. She didn't know what to say, either. Fox was just about to kiss her, she could tell. After going to all the trouble of compiling a photo album, creating this whole setup to surprise her, he just... stopped. Dead. And left. It didn't make sense. And it's not fair...

After a short sniffle, Krystal shook herself off. There was no point in crying over him if he wasn't even going to let her down gently. I suppose I'd better get back. Not much point in staying here... She looked around at the shattered fantasy the vulpine had neglected to clean up and sighed. It's only reminding me of him...

After a good hour of slowly trudging back to the ship in her new Arwing, the lustre seemed to have gone from her present. Which was Fox's idea, she kept reminding herself. Just throwing his affection at her, before taking it all back whenever he pleased.

Although, she had her doubts. This isn't like Fox at all. There must be something else!

As the Great Fox inflated into view, she noticed something different about the hangar entrance. There was a large... something draped across the body of the ship. Krystal leaned forward and squinted, her curiosity far overshadowing any ill intent she had towards Fox.

As her Arwing drew closer, she was able to make out one of the words. 'Krystal'. Her paws flew to her mouth and her eyes widened as she realised what the rest of the colossal banner read. 'Happy birthday, Krystal!' How did they even put that up?! Wow...

She rather hurriedly touched down within the safety of the hangar, only knocking the craft around a little. She hopped out of the canopy, holding the photo album tight to her chest and walked towards the exit, eyes and ears peeled for anything out of the ordinary. As she sailed through the door, she noticed that all the lights were dimmed, except for the emergency trail along the ground. Curious, she followed the lights and ended up walking towards the bridge. When she arrived, confusion setting in to her blue-furred face, the door slid open itself, before she even had a chance to press the button. Almost scared, she tiptoed into the room, where she saw torches lighting up the bases of the bridge's five chairs. Slowly, each chair began to turn around. At first, Krystal was so shocked that she almost gasped. But she was glad she didn't. Because what she saw was Fox, Falco, Slippy and Peppy, each wearing an eyepatch over one eye (aside from Slippy, whose only option was to place his cap over his eye) and stroking white-furred toy cats. The suppressed gasp immediately came back as a stifled giggle at how ridiculous these guys looked.

"Ahh..." Peppy began, acting his part very well.

"We've been expecting you..." continued Slippy, slightly less professionally than Peppy.

"Miss Krystal..." Falco played along.

"Gentlemen," Fox said, looking at each of his male teammates in turn. "Launch the party poppers!"

Upon Fox's surprising statement, the lights of the bridge illuminated with a start, revealing a huge spread of food, a game of Guitar Hero set up (Falco's idea, Krystal reckoned) and a small pile of presents. As if that wasn't enough, at the same time, the boys reached under their toy cats and pulled out a party popper each, firing it into the air above them.

Not two hours earlier, Krystal thought that Fox didn't care about her in the slightest. Now she saw the truth. A surprise party. An excellent feat in the company of a telepath. But excellent nonetheless.

Krystal felt shocked, but it didn't show in the slightest. All she could do was smile. He loved her after all.


The party was pretty good in anyone's book. Peppy had the time of his life seeing all his friends at their happiest. They all talked for a while, before opening a few more presents from friends. Make up, cuddly toys, clothes and other girly presents, which made Krystal feel quite special. After they had eaten, Fox and Falco faced off on Guitar Hero, with pretty even results. The other three tried their paws at the game, but it proved a little difficult. Slippy was overjoyed at the sheer amounts of leftover food that nobody seemed to want to eat. Falco was completely and utterly drunk. He'd managed to fail Guitar Hero several times. And offered to try on some of Krystal's new clothes. Fox and Krystal were sitting casually on the sofa, chatting and laughing and enjoying themselves far more than anybody else was.

Eventually, the avian found his way to a secluded part of the bridge and was fast asleep. Slippy decided to go to sleep too, complaining of sheer stomach cramps.

Peppy, however, decided to stay for a while and watch Fox and Krystal talking. Not just talking, bonding. Loving. All those little subconscious acts that brought two people together, he could see them. And he felt so proud. In the end, however, he became a little tired. "Well, it's been a great party, Krystal," he yawned as he creaked up from his armchair. "I hope you enjoyed it!"

The grin on Krystal's face was immense. "Oh, I have! It was absolutely brilliant, thanks! The presents, the food and the company, all brilliant. Thank you so much, Peppy!" She bounced up from her seat in order to give her old friend a hug. Fox chuckled to himself as he realised once again how brilliant Krystal was.

The hare returned the embrace, but corrected the vixen. "You shouldn't be thanking me!" He gestured to the contented vulpine on the sofa. "Every single detail about this party was put together by this man here. He's been planning it for days, I'm sure."

Krystal slowly turned with nothing but love in her eyes. Love for her life, love for her friends and, of course, love for Fox. He hadn't gone to nearly as much trouble for Falco's birthday, nor Slippy's. And that told her all she needed to know.

Fox lazily shrugged and smirked at the vixen. "What can I say, you deserved it." As the pair continued to smile at each other, Peppy took the hint. "Well, as I said, I think I need a bit of sleep, so I'll leave you two alone." He smiled warmly as he left the door, with a little hint of humour. "And Fox, be gentle with her."

Before Fox could open his mouth to protest, Peppy was gone. The vulpine simply stared at where he had once been, trying to comprehend how Peppy could have been so... suggestive.

On the other hand, Krystal couldn't control her laughter at the comment. "Fox," she managed between giggles, "your face is a picture!" At that, Fox finally broke free of his shock and laughed with her. It was a beautiful sound. It echoed around the bridge and back towards them. The sound of vulpine and vixen. Having fun. Together.

As she calmed down, Krystal slid back onto the sofa, closer to Fox than she had sat previously. Fox took the cue and slowly inched towards Krystal, draping his arm around her shoulder and pulling her as close to him as he dared. "Of course I'll be gentle," he promised with a smile. He looked down at his beautiful teammate who, in turn, looked back at him. Her eyes seemed to sparkle in the low light. "You'd better be," she replied, sticking her tongue out a little.

Fox chuckled before doing something that he ideally should have done a good while before. "You'll see..."

He leaned towards her. She leaned towards him. His eyes closed as he breathed out. Hers closed as she breathed in. He could feel the warmth of her muzzle. She could feel the freshness of his breath. He felt anticipation inside him. She felt the excitement. He knew he should have done it before. She wished he hadn't.

Because right there and then, all Krystal wanted for her birthday was love. And that's exactly what she had. The best present ever.

And finally,

They kissed.

Happy birthday, Krystal...

Well, how's THAT for a comeback? So yes, reviews would be much appreciated, as I may have grown a little rusty, but they're not compulsory. Unless you want to be responsible for this poor little fairy's death! *sniffle* WELL?!1?

Ahem... yes. THANKS FOR READING! = D

SchmEthan. (Ethan)