A/N: This request comes from lines22. It's set in an alternate universe where Fox's father, instead of dying, escaped from Andross and continued to lead the Starfox team.

Sword: And it's romance! Yay!

Yes. All characters, items, and places belong to Nintendo. I own Sword and Pen though. And the plot belongs to lines22 and myself.

Pen: I think I will put a stop to this romantic madness.

Sword: *puts on cool shades* Can't let you do that Pen!

Pen: Not this again.

Enjoy.

Chapter 1- Flight Academy

"Gettin' scared McCloud?" the cocky voice taunted over Fox's speaker. He kept his hands tight on the controls of the Arwing, keeping it's nose pointed directly at the ground as he hurdled through the sky and atmosphere. The control was a little more stiff than the standard mercenary, or even military, ships, but the Cornerian Flight Academy could not afford the new models all the time. So, Fox was forced to make due with an older one, jamming the control stick harder than normal from side to side, much like the pilot flying nearby him.

He glanced out the window briefly to see the similar blue and white Arwing flying in the same direction as him and matching his speed. Just behind both of them was Corneria's capital city. Originally, the two pilots had planned to hold this little contest amongst the skyscrapers and traffic there. But after their last reprimanding from the school's administrator, with the threat of possible expulsion if they broke any more rules or protocols, the two had decided to keep it on school grounds. They were still crossing the line, but at least they were not putting anyone else's lives in danger besides their own.

"You wish Falco," Fox replied to his avian rival. He pushed the Arwing for all it was worth. The other did the same and as they neared the ground, they both pulled out of their spectacular dive, shooting off into the air with a barrel roll to top it off.

"Looks like we got ourselves a crowd," Falco said, alerting Fox to the gathering mass of students below. The vulpine silently cursed, knowing that he was in trouble now if anyone decided to tattle. "Before they turn us in, let's give 'em a show."

"What do you have in mind?"

"Chicken," the avian said, his casual demeanor undermining the dangerous offer. "Unless you're too chicken yourself."

Fox brought the ship around to face his opponent and set it to hover in the air. He tightened the gray straps of his seat belt and diverted all of the Arwing's power to the control and speed, making the flashing meters jump well into the green while the readings for the other systems died. The inner workings of the machine ran faster, bounding with whirring energy. "Yeah right." He gripped the control stick tightly, his hand twitching in anticipation to slam it forward. He waited for Falco's mark.

"Ready?" Fox watched his counterpart hover with both of their ships facing one another, prepared to meet head on. The engines rumbled noisily, sensing their pilot's anticipation. "Go!"

The ships took off in the blink of an eye, aiming directly at one another. The crowd on the ground gasped, screamed, and held their breath at the excitement. Fox would have laughed at such a range of emotions had he not been doing quick calculations in his head of how long Falco and he could keep this up before pulling out of it. And the avian's taunts of "Don't back out now Fox." were doing nothing to help his concentration. But just like his father had always taught him, Fox blocked out all sounds and focused on the ship. It's feel, the forces acting on it from both without and within, and on his own senses.

And just before they could crash, he let his natural reflexes take over. He expertly maneuvered the plane out of harm's way, copying Falco's motion of flipping the Arwing on it's side so that they passed one another without incident. Fox let out a sigh of relief while Falco whooped on the radio. "Man, they love us!"

The vulpine leaned over to scan the gathered students below. They were all cheering out their names, clapping, and a few girls were posing in lude positions, hoping to entice one of the two flyers. Fox was slightly embarrassed by his instant celebrity status and waved to the people below. However, he soon spotted two stern faces in the audience, glaring at the Arwings, and waiting for them to land.

"Looks like we're caught," he radioed to Falco. The other pilot swore loudly as a third voice came over the speakers, ordering them to land. Fox groaned and prepared himself for a long lecture and possibly being kicked out.


Less than an hour later, Fox was sitting in a blue waiting room in one of the uncomfortable plastic chairs provided. He stared up at the white ceiling, leaning his head against the sky blue painted wall and tapping his boots against the tile, much to the annoyance of the receptionist behind the small alcove on the other side of the room. He ignored her dirty looks as he kept tempo with the wall mounted clock above him and glanced to the only other occupant in the room besides himself, a green frog sporting a red cap. Fox could easily read his frightened expression as the frog had the side of his head pressed against the wooden door leading to the administrator's office.

"Oh boy," the frog moaned, each echoing shout further racking his nerves.

"Calm down, Slippy," Fox told him, re-adjusting himself in his chair. "You won't be in as much trouble."

"Are you kidding?" the other nearly shrieked. His high-pitched and shrill voice drew more irritated glares from the receptionist, but neither of them noticed. "I helped you guys! I'm the one who bypassed the security they had in place and cut out the fail-safes to stop them! I'm a goner!"

"Look Slip, just calm down." At that moment, the door was thrown open, revealing a blue avian dressed in an azure, pressed uniform that ran from choking his neck tightly to the similarly colored pants that ended at his black boots. At the fringes of it's sleeves and collar were white stripes, matching those that were on Fox's and Slippy's outfits as well. It was the mark of a recruit for the flight academy.

The bird himself ran a hand through the feathers sticking up on his head in a nonchalant manner. He jammed them into his pockets as he walked away from the door and over to his orange, vulpine friend. He met Fox's questioning green eyes with his cool and calm blue irises before tilting his head in the direction of the office. "You're up Foxy. Don't worry. I softened him up for you."

"Gee thanks Falco," he replied, rolling his eyes. "You're a pal." He stood and headed for the office before turning around. "By the way, are you-"

"Expelled? Of course." Falco smirked and headed for the hallway. "I guess I'll see you outside of the school."

"Great," Fox muttered and continued on. The administrator's office was large and imposing, with a very high ceiling and everything in it seemingly created for some unknown giant. Even the awards that hung above the bookshelves and the framed pictures were at least twice the size that any normal person would expect. The only object in the room that was not super-sized was the chair for guests or students that rested on Fox's side of the desk in the center. On the other side was a large, black, leather chair facing the wooden wall and two rectangular windows.

"Have a seat McCloud," a voice from the chair commanded. Fox's fur began to stick with beads of slight sweat on his forehead as he did as he was told. Once he was sitting comfortably in the smaller chair, the voice continued speaking. "Comfy?"

He was a little perplexed by the question, but uttered an "I guess so."

"Good." The taller chair quickly spun around to reveal a grey badger wearing the standard red officer uniform of the Cornerian military, complete with badges, ribbons, and medals for decoration. His lip was curled into a nasty snarl and his red eyes bore into Fox's head. "What in blazes were you and Lombardi thinking?" he shouted, a vein in his temple throbbing with each word. "You could have crashed the Arwings! You could have injured someone! I don't care if you think you can fly and I don't care whether your father or the freaking creator of planes taught you! You don't fly without my permission!"

The vulpine sat there, taking the brunt of the abuse and drowning it out a little. He already knew where the lecture would lead. In some part of his mind, he hoped that Slippy would receive somewhat of a lesser verbal berating since Falco and him had gone first.

"If this was your only mistake- no, scratch that- even if this was your only mistake, you have crossed over the line that you can't even see the line anymore! I already gave you and Lombardi enough leeway with your other hi-jinks like skipping classes and being out of bed at all odd hours of the night. And let's not even mention the pranks." The student suppressed a chuckle." But just because your father is-" A firm knock rang on the door, turning Fox's and the administrator's attention to it. "Yes, who is it?" the badger growled.

The door opened to reveal the receptionist, who stood aside for a senior hare. He adjusted the thick glasses that rested precariously on the tip of his nose and pulled the white sleeves of his coat down a little. Thanking the receptionist, he hobbled into the office, his old age catching up to his bones, but not enough that he could not surprise people with the spry gait that accompanied his brisk walk, showing that he quite able to keep up with any young person despite moving on in years.

"Hello Gene," he nodded curtly to the badger. Then he turned to Fox and smiled warmly. "Hello Fox."

"Hey Peppy," Fox greeted.

"Hello Peppy," the badger returned the formality with a slight bow of his head. "What are you doing here?"

"Well," the rabbit began to explain, walking carefully over to the desk, "my good friend James was informed of the situation a while ago courtesy of the school and I decided I would come over to have a talk with you."

"Then we can talk later if you would like."

"Actually, I would prefer now if that's all right," Peppy answered, disguising the thinly veiled order as if the administrator had a choice in the matter. He placed a hand on Fox's shoulder and patted it. "Would you mind giving us a moment of privacy?" Meanwhile, the badger had abandoned any protest, knowing full well that protesting against Peppy would most likely bring the general down on him, due to his fondness of the hare and his mercenary team, and possibly jeopardize his position at the school.

The recruit was all too happy to hop out of his seat for his friend and hurried out of the room, shutting the door behind him. In the waiting room, he ran into both Falco and Slippy, their questioning faces waiting for some sort of answer.

"What?" Fox shrugged.

"Man, don't 'what' us," Falco shot. "What are the old men talking about? I was just about to head to my room when Pep comes in and tells me to wait up."

The vulpine briefly informed his companions of what had happened and how he knew about as much as they did. When he finished, Slippy glanced at the door. "Well what are they talking about?"

"I don't know," Fox answered. He watched Falco push past both of them and saunter over to the door, pressing the side of his head against it. After a few moments of straining to hear through the door, he spied an empty water glass on the receptionist's desk. He quickly snatched it, telling her he needed it for only a moment, and held the glass up to the door.

"You shouldn't be doing that!" Slippy cried.

"Shut it frog boy! I'm trying to listen here," the avian reprimanded him and continued eavesdropping.

"What are they saying?" Fox asked, moving a bit closer as the thought of finding out what was happening in the room enticed him.

"Well the old badger ain't happy about something. Sounds like Pep's fighting for you," Falco relayed the information slowly in trickling amounts. "Then there's something about your dad and someone named Andy I think."

Giving into his desire, the vulpine leaned his ears close to the glass, as did Slippy, and all three listened to the conversation in the office. Fox could only catch snatches of speech, mainly from the administrator, along the lines of "Can't afford to" and "Unknown enemy numbers" and "Andross", which was repeated the most. He could barely hear Peppy speak, but each time he did, the badger's voice would raise another furious octave until he was sure the administrator would only be heard by those with high-pitched hearing. But the hare's voice stayed soft and firm as always, determined in it's resolve to be heard without ever having to resort to shouting.

After several strenuous minutes, when the voices inside had stopped, and Falco's back could not withstand the combined weight of the other two, they ceased trying to listen in. Slippy looked between the others and whispered what they were all wondering. "What do you think they were talking about?"

The door to the office swung open, hushing all of them as Peppy walked out, a soft smile on his face that one would think would be the result of a pleasant chat with a friend if it had not been for the administrator standing in the doorway, nostrils flaring in rage. "Lombardi, McCloud, and Toad. Get out of my sight and go back to the barracks until your next class." And with that, the infuriated badger slammed the door to be alone.

They watched Peppy, waiting for him to tell them what had just happened. But all he did was chuckle and gesture to the door. "Well, you heard him. To the barracks."

With a disappointed groan, all three of them began to file out before the hare caught ahold of Fox's shoulder. "Not you," he added. "We need to talk."

Fox nodded to his friends, silently telling them that he would inform them of anything he learned while they were apart. Falco pushed Slippy out the door and down one way in the hall while the other was guided by his mentor down in the opposite direction. For a while, the only sound that passed between them were the quiet steps of their boots echoing in the empty hall. Classes were still in session and it was one of the few times Fox had ever seen the blue corridor devoid of life when it was usually full of marching recruits.

When they were well out of earshot of anyone, Peppy finally spoke. "So how did the Arwing handle?"

"Um, good," the other confessed truthfully. He narrowed his eyes at the hare, trying to deduce what the point of the question was.

"Good to hear," Peppy replied. "Because as Gene tells me, half of them were down for repairs. Faulty wiring systems that kept causing them to crash and all." The rabbit glanced at Fox, who lowered his head, ashamed and slightly nervous at the notion that Falco and him could have been killed. "Lucky you. But you shouldn't be pushing your luck like that Fox."

"I know," the younger answered. "I'm sorry."

"I don't say that just for your sake you know. Think of your father. You're all he has left. And I like to think of you as a surrogate nephew." They rounded a corner and continued their destination that was unknown to Fox.

"Yeah, I know. And I'm sorry again."

"Good."

They continued on in silence for a few more seconds before Fox posed the question that he had been wanting to ask. "So what did you say to the administrator?"

"Oh I just reminded him how important our resources are," he stated, leaving it at that. They stopped in front of the large double door entrance of the school. Peppy turned to the vulpine and smiled. "Thanks for walking me out."

"Er, anytime Peppy," Fox said, spinning Peppy's words around in his head to figure out what he had meant by it.

The hare opened the door, but before Fox could leave, he grabbed his shoulder. "Hold on. Someone is out here to meet you."

The younger pondered on who it could be. He afraid for a split second that maybe he was being forced to leave the school and this had all been some cruel prank. However, he immediately dismissed that theory. He trusted Peppy and was absolutely certain that the hare would not do something like that. But he still could not fathom who it was.

He soon found out though. Waiting on the pale peach front steps, dressed in a white jacket and green fatigues, and covering his eyes from the bright sun with a pair of sunglasses, waited another fox. He stood at around Fox's height and even had the same distinctive stripe running down the middle of his head. He was more mature, but still fit, with strong arms crossing his chest. His face, while battle hardened, was not scarred like most military or mercenary types, making his charming good looks still have a noticeable impact on the opposite sex around him, which happened when two female students walked by, admiring him and giggling.

"Hey Dad," Fox waved. His father strode over to them briskly and looked down at his son through the glasses. Once again, Fox hung his head in shame. "Sorry about stealing the Arwing." He felt a hand clap his back and met his father's eyes.

"Hopefully you've learned your lesson," he told him. "We can't do this for you again." He guided his son away from Peppy and down the steps. "So I hear tell that you and Falco pulled off a barrel roll."

Fox was shocked to say the least that his father had no more to say about the severity of the incident. But not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, he beamed and nodded rapidly. "Yeah, after playing chicken."

"Really? Well why don't you tell me about it?" James suggested as they took the long route back to the barracks.

A/N: And so ends the first chapter.

Sword: Aw.

Anyway, have any comments?

Sword: Praise?

Or critiques, then let us know. And I'd like to thank lines22 for requesting this and helping us with some of the stuff. Like making sure the title is right.

Sword: Bogey on your tail Pen! I got him!

Pen: Ow!

Sword: Oops!

Pen: You little- En garde!