Well...here it is! The final chapter! I REALLY hope it's not anticlimactic...
The strobe light whipped through the air, slamming into Nico and Pedro before they had time to even consider moving. Luckily for them, the heavy metal light had fallen at an angle, and it did not make direct contact: instead, the left side grazed Nico while the right side hit Pedro, knocking both birds out of the air in opposite directions.
The light continued its rushing fall until it finally reached ground level, where it solidly connected with the skateboard, propelling it into action once again. The board nimbly sped in a straight line, stopping only when it buffeted into a fruit cart. Pineapples and coconuts were jarred loose, tumbling onto the ground and rolling in a chaotic rush through the alley.
Pedro forced himself to sit up, trying desperately to breathe—the wind had been knocked clean out of him. A few stuttering gasps restored Pedro's normal breathing pattern, and as his vision cleared, he saw that Nico was lying on the opposite side of the alley, completely motionless.
Ignoring the potentially destructive fruit whirling through the alley, Pedro jumped up and raced over to his friend.
He practically slid into position next to the idle canary. Panic rose in Pedro's stomach when he saw that Nico's eyes were closed and his chest wasn't moving.
"Nico? Nico?" Pedro grasped his friend's shoulders and shook desperately.
Nico's eyes popped open, something akin to almost annoyance shining in his pupils. He weakly whacked Pedro on the arm before finally taking in a ragged breath.
"There—we go," he wheezed. "Calm—down."
"What do you mean calm down?"
"Wind—knocked—out of me." He took another deep breath. "I'm fine now."
"Yes, don't shake me like that, I'm trying to breathe!"
"I'm going to kill you!"
Nico laughed as Pedro shook him harder. The laughs turned into raspy coughs, although Nico barely seemed to care.
Nico and Pedro both became aware of the screaming behind them at the same moment. They turned around to see monkeys and birds alike running for cover from the surprisingly dangerous rolling fruit, which had broken the ring of birds guarding the monkeys. Miraculously, it hardly mattered that the birds were no longer in service—the fruit had tumbled in such a way that it had driven the monkeys back to the entrance of The Branch. They all clustered together with an air of uncertainty, obviously unsure of whether to leave unannounced with some shred of dignity, or wait for Mauro, standing in an equally unsure stance atop a crate, to give the order.
Nico and Pedro looked at each other, expressions betraying their surprise at the unexpected efficiency of rolling fruit.
"Let's pretend that was on purpose," Pedro whispered.
"Agreed." Nico smiled and hit his friend on the arm, pointing to a lone pineapple standing upright in the middle of the alley. Both birds ran to it, Pedro clambering up the right side and Nico up the left until they reached the top. Each grabbed part of the green stalk and hung off their respective side triumphantly. And, quite frankly, rather cockily.
"OI!" Pedro yelled.
Mauro, who had been looking at the entrance to the alley as if to make sure it was still there, almost physically jumped back in shock at seeing two birds who had just been hit by a strobe light standing perfectly unharmed atop a pineapple.
"Get. Out. Of. Here," Nico commanded, pointing at the exit. "Like we were saying before you so rudely interrupted us."
Mauro struggled to find words.
"Seriously, go away, or you're going to feel what it's like to get hit by a strobe light."
One glance at his surroundings told Mauro that he shouldn't mess with Nico's threat. Anger visibly radiated from the heads of all the birds in The Branch. If the monkeys had been doomed before Mauro tried to kill its headliners by strobe light, they might as well just crawl into their graves now.
Without a word, Mauro motioned for his army to leave. It took merely a second for all the marmosets to evacuate the rather frightening atmosphere of the birds' reclaimed samba club, but Mauro stayed an extra moment, communicating his feelings through a glare of deathly proportions before disappearing himself.
A second of complete silence passed. A coconut rolled in front of the pineapple, much like a tumbleweed, before Nico spoke.
"That was off the block."
Pedro looked at his friend. Then he started laughing so hard he tumbled off the pineapple, landing on his back with his hands on his stomach.
Pedro's laughter ignited Nico's, and Nico also tumbled off, although he landed on his stomach as opposed to his back. His bottle cap drooped sideways off his head as he chuckled madly.
Avian cheers erupted through the alley, complimenting Nico and Pedro's laughter. They only enjoyed the symphony for about six seconds before a loud cry overshadowed everything else.
"WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU TWO?"
Nico and Pedro immediately stopped laughing at the sight of an extremely angry Rafael standing imposingly in front of them, flanked by six equally peeved looking birds.
"FIRST, THE FIGHT, SECOND, YOU DON'T SHOW UP TONIGHT, THIRD, when you finally DO show up you look like you just sailed through a TOASTER OVEN, AND THEN you get hit by a LIGHT…"
"Well that wasn't our fault," Pedro protested, looking up at Rafael upside down.
"Well, the other things were, I guess…" Nico admitted, chin resting in his hands.
"AND YOU!" Rafael yelled, brandishing a finger centimeters from Nico's face. "Drama queen! Do you know how worried I was that you were going to leave Rio?"
"You were going to leave Rio?" Pedro asked.
"Well it's kind of an exaggeration, but…no it's not. I was going to leave Rio."
Pedro flipped over and kicked Nico in the side.
"OW!" the canary cried. "I'm sick of being hit by things today, man…you, a strobe light, a firework…"
"What?" Rafael sputtered.
"Oh yeah, Ralfy, we invented a new sport!"
"Nico's not very good at it."
"Did you say firework?"
Rafael stopped, looking both birds up and down. He sighed and offered a hand to each of them. "Great. Now I can't kill you because I have to hear this story."
"And then everything went like FWOOSHBAAAAA," Pedro said, moving his arms in sync with the explosion sound effect. "And I almost fell!"
"You did fall," Nico corrected.
"Correction: I did fall. But I saved myself."
"Because I practically pulled you up—"
"No, that was the first time, I'm talking about the second time."
Their friends watched Nico and Pedro re-enact their adventure in the middle of the deserted Branch with a mixture of fascination, shock, and amusement. Javier, Rey, and Abelina sat upon their parent's laps, tired eyes wide with rapt attention. Blu, Jewel, and Richie looked mostly confused, but Rafael couldn't prevent horrified concern from invading his expression. "This happened twice?"
"Well, the first time I saved myself—" Pedro tried to explain.
"Liar," Nico broke in.
"And the second time I was about to—"
"When Nico here got hit by a firework."
"What? That's not a lie."
"Oh yeah, that did happen."
"Were you not paying attention?" Rafael nearly shouted, paternal instincts flowing to the surface.
"More than you think," Nico said, glancing at Pedro. The canary and the cardinal locked eyes and smiled, a secret hovering in the air between them.
This drove Rafael mad. "How are you alive?"
"Oh! Well then I caught him, right?" Pedro said excitedly, bringing it back to the action. "And then the sky was like KABLOOOOOOOOOOOSH because it was the finale and I swear the sky rocked, and I fell through all these trees and finally landed on the ground."
"Oh, is that how we got down there?" Nico asked.
"I was wondering that."
"Soon as he woke up we remembered we were supposed to perform. And then we high-tailed it to The Branch."
"Pedro jinxed us—"
"I did not!"
"He was all like 'If we're lucky maybe monkeys invaded The Branch and we can get out of Rafael being mad at us."
"Well don't TELL him that—"
"What made you think I wouldn't be mad?" Rafael asked. He fairly glowered at Nico and Pedro.
"Look what you've done!" Pedro glared at Nico, who chuckled in response. "Ralfy, I didn't say that, it was more like…um…"
"No, not about that. Well, that annoys me, but you two have got to stop almost dying. It's giving me gray feathers."
"I thought you had gray feathers from having, like, 100 kids?"
"I have 17."
"Right. 100 kids."
"Where are your other kids, Uncle Ralfy?" Rey asked, turning to the toucan quizzically.
"It's an exaggeration, Rey," Rafael replied. "Pedro's just being stupid. He's been through a lot today."
"Are you guys sure you're okay?" Jewel, and everyone else, had asked this at least nine times now in the course of half an hour.
"Yes," Nico flatlined.
"The light didn't hit us straight on," Pedro reminded everyone. He plopped down onto the ground, leaning against the crate in the middle of The Branch. "We're fine."
Nico sat down next to Pedro, also using the crate to his advantage. "Think the monkeys will be back?"
Rafael shrugged. "There's no guarantee. It's gonna take a while to clean this place up after that last attack, but Miguel was talking about taking some extra defensive measures so it doesn't happen again."
"Good." Pedro yawned. "We don't want to have to come save you guys on a regular basis." Nico laughed.
"This doesn't happen often, does it?" Richie asked, the first thing he'd said since the beginning of the monkeys' attack.
"Nah," Rafael assured him. "And it rarely happened before, either. It's only after these two—"—he gestured towards Blu and Jewel—"—came to town that the hatred between the groups intensified. They realized how totally sweet our club is. The rivalry will never end."
"Thanks, guys," Nico told Blu and Jewel drily.
Jewel scoffed. "I was always in town. It's after he came to town that it started."
Blu guffawed at Jewel's accusatory finger. "Is there a bus coming that you want to throw me under?"
"Wait, where are you from?" Richie asked.
"United States. Specifically, Minnesota."
"Aw, sweet! There's a player in the Super Smash Bros tourney every year from Minnesota. It's weird, he didn't enter this year, but he's good. He usually wins."
"What's the username?"
"What?" The cry came from Rafael, Richie, Jewel, and the kids.
"You know, like typhoon. But with my names. Tyler and Blu. TyeBloon." Blu looked embarrassed at everyone's aghast expressions. "Well I thought it was clever."
"You play Super Smash Bros?" Rafael asked, speaking very slowly for clarification.
Blu rolled his eyes. "Yes. Yes I do. And very well, I might add. I suppose you think that's nerdy of me."
"Not as nerdy as Tyler," Jewel said, struggling not to laugh.
"Well now you know. Blu is my middle name."
"Dude, Super Smash Bros is awesome!" Rafael and Richie cried simultaneously.
Richie continued gushing. "I can't believe you're TyeBloon! You've won the tournament the last, like, six years! I'd been wondering why you hadn't entered this year."
"I still have yet to convince Linda to ship our Wii…" Blu frowned. "Somehow she doesn't think it's important enough for priority shipping."
"Aw, you've got to play with us sometime!" Richie was practically jumping up and down. "I can't wait to see you against Pedro, he's gonna be hard to beat, that's gonna be a match-up…"
Blu smirked. "Pedro, you're going down," he challenged as he turned to the cardinal. But Pedro didn't reply.
He lay slumped against the side of the crate, eyes closed and chest rising and falling peacefully. Nico had fallen from his upright position, and was now diagonally sprawled across the ground. His head rested on Pedro's stomach, going up and down with the cardinal's breaths.
"Awwwwwww," Jewel cooed. "They fell asleep."
"Should we wake them up?" Blu asked.
"Nah," Rafael replied. "Let them sleep."
"I guess that's the end of the fight."
They laughed softly. The cardinal and the canary took no notice, but continued dreaming tranquilly together against the crate in the middle of the alley.
:) The end. Thank you to everyone who read it, and a special thanks to everyone who reviewed! Would you believe that Buddy Wars was meant to be a 3 chapter story tops? This stuff REALLY gets away from me...
On that vein, there IS going to be a 3rd story: it shall be a trilogy! However, I only have about half that story planned out, so in between there will be a quick one-shot type thing, mostly to buy myself time. It's going to be called "Tubular". I'm going to go ahead and let everyone wonder what that's about.
Thank you all!