Doing things a bit differently today and sticking my author's note up here. Special thanks to Azulhada, who gave me the Latin idea that concludes this piece. Special thanks also to those of you who reviewed without an account so I wasn't able to PM you: you are all. AMAZING. Like "words-do-not-describe" amazing. Cyber hugs all around. Anyway...
First of all, let me say that this has been a truly unprecedented experience on my part. When I first started this almost two years ago I never thought it would grow into something this meaningful to me. To this moment I still don't know exactly how that happened, but a great deal of it was due to you lovely people who took the time to review and support this plot-bunny. Hershel thanks you all, and I've made so many awesome friendships through the interactions of this fic and I'd like to keep as many of them as possible. But there are three people who I really feel deserve special thanks in this final chapter, and so I'm going to embarrass them now in front of everybody:
First, to Foxpilot, who was here in the beginning and who helped me with that awkward transition from teenage-fantasty-fanfiction-writer to a much more professional style. I always yearned for your approval and was so proud when I finally won it. I haven't heard much from you lately, but I hope that you're reading this. I did it. You helped me so much, and I am so thankful. You were the first one who suggested that I end the fic this way.
Secondly, to Sir StarlIl; I have no words about this awesome dude that quite do him justice. You were the inspiration behind more chapters than you know. Any chapter where I mention what sort of clothing Samus was wearing was written for your benefit (jk, jk…but the swimsuit scene in the hotel was legitimately for you XD). You were the inspiration behind the Assassin arc, and you were the one to give me the final line in this whole piece. You've restored my faith in humanity more times than I can count. You're one of the funniest and quickest people I know.
Unquantifiable wads of thanks to be showered upon the ever-incredible MessengerOfDreams, who is the one who really convinced me that I should keep doing this. Your confidence boosters and guest-authors and character advice and advice in general have helped this thing to reach a level I don't think I would have tried to reach on my own. Your friendship is incredibly valued, and I am so glad I met you, because you are so amazing, and my writing has improved so much thanks to your leadership.
And finally thanks to my three main guys; Link, Ike, and Marth. When it comes down to it, this story was written out of love for them. Marth got played up as the favorite, but the others were incredible in their own way. Link was so easy to write—he's so full of energy. Ike was quietly strong and so confident. And Marth was the burst of spontaneity that kept the ball rolling (and everybody's favorite bluenette angst-ball). I'm so proud of the way I was able to portray them, and I'm happy I could tell their story successfully. Kudos to Nintendo for creating such versatile characters. My favorite moment with Link was when he was romping around with Roy in chapter 32 of the Assassin Arc. My favorite moment with Ike was when he and Sheik finally sorta-kinda-maybe got together in chapter 38.
And Marth…Jeez I love that boy. I love him too much to pick a favorite moment. My favorite part of this whole thing remains the Smarthus story arc, so probably something from that.
At the time of its completion, this story has 158 favs, 121 follows, and a whopping 1,394 reviews, putting it in the top four of the entire [Mousebomb]ing archive in all categories. This is unprecedented and may be the single most meaningful accomplishment of my teenager life. Thank you all so much.
Disclaimer: Legally, nothing belongs to me except for the OCs (Genevieve, Oliver, Nya and Angel), and I'd appreciate it if you'd contact me before using any of them in any spinoff work of your own. Other than that, everything about this belongs to Nintendo. But I do own "this." "THIS" whole experience is something I own, and I will never forget it. Thank you all so much for making this possible.
I plan to write more SSBB even after this is finished, so please do keep an eye out for me. :) I'm not gone. And these characters aren't gone either. You're not really saying goodbye.
So…With that: Here. We. Go.
Chapter 71: Fin.
"Have we met?"
The woman turned around in line, tossing red curls over her shoulder as she took in the dark man who'd spoken. She gave him a quick once-over, and then said briskly, "No. Don't think so, sorry."
"Oh, not a problem," the man said easily, putting his hands into the pockets of his overcoat. "It was a long time ago. I may have misremembered." He leaned up against the railing and looked at her sideways. "Or maybe you just don't remember me."
She sighed and tossed more fiery hair out of her eyes. "You're a memorable man, as I'm sure many women have told you. But I'm sure we've never been introduced."
He blinked, as if the thought had never occurred to him, but the smile that quirked up his face was the opposite of innocent. "Oh, I know we've never been introduced. You were in a rush at the time." The green-gold eyes that she had noticed slid to the floor, as if he were thinking something over. She took that as her cue to spin back around and flipped the collar on her jacket up pointedly.
"So are you watching anybody in particular today?" he asked a few minutes later as she reached into her purse for her ticket.
"No," she said, in a tone that suggested she was less than happy with his prodding. "Are you?"
"Mostly the children," the main said fondly. "They're a remarkable group, don't you think?"
"Remarkable is one word for them."
"Yet here you are." He smiled down at her and moved towards the stairs leading to the higher levels of seating. "Enjoy the show."
Marth was already in the locker room when Link walked in and had a foot wedged in his locker, trying to keep the pile of dirty clothes inside from spilling out while he rummaged for a clean tunic.
"Nice picture. What happened to the one from last New Year's?" the Hylian commented, jerking his chin towards the photograph Marth had taped up on the inside of his door. It had been taken that summer, at the GEEK conference, before everything crazy had went down. All of the brawlers were standing in front of the hotel, holding suitcases and looking exhausted, but happy and excited.
"Good times," Marth shrugged. "I thought it was time for a change."
"Have you seen how big the crowd is?" Link asked him.
"No, I haven't stuck my head outside yet." Marth had finally yanked out a semi-clean shirt and quickly slammed the locker shut before anything could fall out. "But the techies were saying that it was big."
"Well, it's the holiday tournament, what do you expect?" Link deadpanned and walked over to the door, opening it by a crack and squinting outside. He came back and shrugged off his shirt and said, "Yeah, I can't see. Can't tell at the moment."
"Does that sort of thing even matter?" Marth asked from the bench.
Link sat down across from him and started pulling his boots on. "No, not really. But you know how it can be, don't you? When you're all jacked up on adrenaline and you make the jump for the smash ball, but the whole crowd screams at you and you miss…? It's just a distraction."
"You don't get pumped up by it?" Marth asked disbelievingly.
"A bit, sure." The Hylian rolled his shoulders nonchalantly. "But I'd still fight even if nobody was watching, y'know?"
"Yeah. I guess I understand that."
The doors to the locker room banged open and Ike strode inside, looking confident.
"Somebody spike your morning orange juice?" Marth quipped from the corner, where he was staring into a mirror and fastening the brooch on his cloak.
"No. I just feel lucky." Ike grinned and spun the dial on his locker, swearing colorfully when a clump of clothes plopped down onto the floor at his feet.
"…Laundry day is tomorrow," Link said unhelpfully as Ike busied himself with squeezing all of the clothes back inside, his previous optimism evaportating.
Marth walked back over to them, his cape trailing a little behind him on the floor. Link eyed the prince curiously, and then opened his mouth…
"Can we please have one brawl without you commenting on the circlet?" Marth pleaded.
"It wouldn't be a brawl if I didn't," Link countered.
"He's right," Ike stuck his two cents in as he tied the faded bandana around his forehead. "It's tradition now, man."
"Yeah, but just this once…Because as soon as you call my crown a tiara I'll have to make some joke about you being an elf and then Ike will jump in on somebody's side and it'll just end in sexual innuendos and rattails. Can we please be mature about this for once?"
"Nope," Link drawled. "Where is your princess tiara, anyway?"
"I was thinking about asking Santa if I could trade it in for a hat like yours. Do you think he'd give me one even though I don't work at the North Pole?"
Link crammed his wind-sock over his hair and scowled. "Hey now."
"I warned you."
Over in the corner, Ike chuckled.
Link fastened his belt around his waist and waggled a gloved finger in Ike's direction. "You think it's funny now. Just wait until we're fighting."
"I was actually going to suggest an unholy alliance, if you guys are interested," Marth said, finally pulling his gold circlet from the top shelf of his locker and settling it over his bangs.
"Not today," Ike shook his head. "Sheik's going to be out there, isn't she?"
"Suit yourself. Link?"
The Hylian shook his head. "Not today."
Marth, unbothered, just smiled. "Alright, it was worth a shot."
"Besides," Ike commented, picking up his sword and spinning it idly in his hands. "You probably would've betrayed us all as soon as we trusted you."
Marth placed a hand on his breastplate and looked wounded. "I would never! You two are like brothers to me."
"Yeah?" Link said skeptically.
"Yeah. I mean—yes, I probably would have—but I really do count both of you among family."
Link reached over and knocked Marth's shoulder, sending him stumbling back a half step. "Thanks, man."
"Same goes for me as well," Ike nodded.
Marth endured their agreement with a small flush and an honest smile and quickly looked down at the floor. And if he was blinking a bit faster than usual, who could say?
"Yeah, well…I just thought I ought to say that," he mumbled after a minute.
"We already knew, man," Link scoffed.
"But it was nice to hear it," Ike said kindly.
"Even if you are a narcissistic little princess sometimes," Link had to stick in, completely ruining the moment.
Marth lifted his head; his mouth still crooked into a smile, and punched Link's shoulder. "Hey now. I just play the game."
"Not everything's a game though," Link chuckled, starting to make his way over to the door as Angel's voice crackled over the speakers, announcing that the brawl was about to get underway.
"Life is a game, Link," Marth countered, determination making his eyes spark. "And we're going to win."
He shoved the door all the way open, and the three of them stepped fearlessly out into the light, ready to face the roar of the crowds together.
"Audi famam illius.
Spes omnibus, mihi quoque.
Ille iuxta me.
Ille iuxta me.
Socii sunt mihi.
"I've heard legends of that person
I've heard legends of that person.
Revered by many – I too, revere him.
Now that person stands at my side.
Now that person stands at my side.
Now my friends are with me.
And as we face each other in battle,
Locked in combat
We shine ever brighter."
Thank you for reading and reviewing. I hope you enjoyed.
...Now I have to go find something else to work on to fill the Game-shaped void in my life. This project has stolen two years of my life, and I wouldn't trade the world to get a second of that time back. It was well-spent.
Let's do this again sometime. This has been MouseMaster42.
Be well. Glory to God.