Falco stuffed his hands in his pockets and frowned. He peeked into the kitchen to see all of his team mates playing a card game and laughing happily. His eyelids lowered some more as he leaned his shoulder against the wall. Sighing through his nose, he walked out into the kitchen.
"No! No! That's cheating!" Slippy shouted.
"Nuh uh~ Totally in the rules," Fox said with a grin as he pulled a pile of money towards him, "You guys should just give up now. I'm kicking you asses!"
"Oh aren't you a cocky one," Krystel said a bit bitterly as she leaned back in her seat.
"I think he has a right to be cocky," Peppy said, pointing to the pile of money in front of Fox, "He has at least two of my pay checks in his pile,"
"Oh yeah baby~" Fox said with wide grin, "Ok ok, I'll buy the next shipment of liquor, if that makes you feel better,"
"It does," Kystrel said, picking up a bottle of beer and taking a swig.
Fox laughed but looked up when he saw Falco walk in, "There he is! Where've you been man? Didn't you get the e-mail? It's poker night!"
Slippy turned around to look at Falco, "You need to put Fox back in his place. He's taking everyone's money! I think he's cheating!"
Falco continued to frown. He stopped near the table and rubbing the back of his ankle with the top of his other foot, "Fox," he said, motion with his head back towards the hall, "I need to talk to you,"
Fox's cocky grin fell at that and he blinked, "Oh, sure thing," He set his cards down and stood, frowning. He glanced at everyone but they all shrugged, frowning too. Fox followed Falco back down the hall and into his room. Fox turned around and looked at Falco, "What's up?"
Falco closed the door and kept his hand on it. He looked down, keeping his other hand in his pocket. He was quiet a long moment before speaking, "I'm going," he said quietly.
"Going where?" Fox asked, tilting his head.
"No, I'm leaving," Falco lifted his head but still didn't look at his friend.
Fox's eyes widened some, "Again?"
"I gotta go and find myself. I'm becoming someone else. I don't even know that face in the mirror looking back at me,"
Fox took a step forward, "But Falco, you're you. You're nobody else!"
Falco shook his head and turned his head away some more, "I'm leaving,"
Fox frowned deeply, his tail lowering to brush the ground. He looked down and off to the side as he moved his arms to hold his elbows. He knew there wasn't anything really left to say, but it hurt when he would leave like this. He felt like he was a failure at being for friend to him. He sighed and closed his eyes, "Just know I'm here whenever you need me. I'll wait for you," he said quietly, "I'll let you go and set you free," he took a breath, "And let you be who you want to be. But... when you find you, come back to us; me. Or... or I'll find you and I'll kick your ass so hard, I'll send your Arwing spinning!"
Falco glanced up at him, not moving his head much, then looked away again."Heh," he sounded, giving a small smile, "I don't doubt it," He sighed, his smiling falling again, "Tell the others, ok? I don't know when I'll be back, but I will,"
Fox opened his eyes some, his tail swaying back and forth slowly and low to the ground. He rubbed the back of his neck, keeping his other hand under his other elbow, "Yeah, I got chya,"
It was quiet between them for a long moment, but Falco then opened the door and walked out, closing the door again behind him. Fox stood there a moment, letting his ears fall back and laid flat. He just stood there for an amount of time he didn't know. He took some deep breathes to help lock away the wash of emotions that threatened to hit him hard then walked out too.
Stuffing his hands back into his pockets, Fox walked back into the kitchen.
"What happened?" Krystel asked, leaning forward to rest her elbows on the table. Fox walked back to his seat and plopped down. He slouched in his chair then ran a hand up through his fur.
"Fox?" Peppy said gently.
Fox took a deep breath before speaking, "Falco's leaving," he said quietly.
Slippy's eyes widened, "Again? We have to go and stop him!" he shouted and stood up.
"No!" Fox said firmly, giving him a very serious look, much different from the happy and playful look he had moments earlier, "No one goes after him, that's an order, understand?" Nobody said anything and Slippy sat down again quietly.
"Why did he leave?" Krystel asked softly.
"Tch," Fox looked away, "Why does he always leave? He says he has to go and 'find himself''," his voice was filled with bitterness. He balled his hands into fists in his pockets.
Peppy frowned as he watched Fox but slowly stood, "I think we should go to bed now. It's getting pretty late," he said quietly.
Krystel looked up at Peppy then back at Fox. She reached over and put a hand on his arm, "Fox-..." she started but Fox snatched his arm away from her.
"Leave me alone," he told her.
Kystrel frowned more but sighed and stood. Slowly, everyone left the kitchen. Fox sat in his chair for a long time after. He grabbed a bottle of whisky not far from him on the table and took a swig of it, hoping it would calm his emotions.
After a while, he had drank just about the entire bottle. He wandered down the hallway, not noticing Peppy standing just outside his room. Fox swayed a bit, having a bitter look on his face. He put his hand on the wall and paused a moment but then walked right past Peppy and into Falco's room. Peppy frowned and turned, following him.
"Fox?" he said as he slowly opened the door. He found the younger man curled up on Falco's bed and under the covers. Peppy walked over to him and gently took the bottle from him. He turned to leave but stopped when he heard a small voice.
"What's wrong with me?" Fox said, just over a whisper. Peppy turned back around and looked at him. Fox's eyes were open slightly. Fox gritted his teeth and gripped the pillow with his hand tighter.
"Nothing's wrong with you, Fox," Peppy said, setting the bottle down and walking back over to the bed. He sat on the edge of it.
"Yes there is!" Fox shouted, gripping the pillow tighter and clenched his eyes shut, "I can't do anything right! Wh-what kinda person am I if I can't even help my b-best friend?"
Peppy put a hand on Fox's shoulder but Fox yanked away. Peppy folded his hands in his lap instead, "Fox, what Falco does isn't never your fault. This is just something he has to do by himself,"
"B-but I'm his best friend, god damn it!" he punched the pillow with the side of his fist, "I sh-should be able to help him with anything! Anything! A-and I can't! What if he doesn't want to be my friend anymore?" Peppy could see the alcohol start to affect the fox now. Fox's eyes were starting to water and his voice was shaky and slightly higher pitched.
"You two will always be friends. Falco just has trouble finding out what his purpose in the world is," Peppy said quietly.
"H-his purpose is to be my friend! And I'm supposed to be his! Aren't best friends supposed to t-talk to each other about everything?"
"Yes, but some things are hard to talk about, especially for someone like Falco. He doesn't like to show weakness, and to talk to someone about something like that, even to you, is hard for him. It's remarkable he tells you that he's leaving at all, or lets you care for him when he's ill. I don't think he would be here today without your friendship,"
Fox was quiet a moment and he sniffled hard, "I-It's just... It's just hard, because... I tell him everything, but he doesn't tell me everything... S-sometimes, I feel like I don't know him at all! I'm such a failure!"
"Oh Fox... don't say that,"
"No! It's true!"
Peppy sighed softly, "Fox, think about this... If Falco didn't treasure you as a friend, would he ever come back when he went out and did this? If he didn't think you were his friend, and if he didn't care about you, do you think we would see him as much as we do now? Why, if I had to say so, I think Falco would be in a very critical state of mind without you," Fox didn't say anything, but quietly stared forward with heavy, tear dripping eyes. Peppy hesitated, but then gently touched his shoulder. Fox didn't yank away this time, "Fox, you and Falco have a very strong friendship that will never break. I have a feeling that you two went grow old and die together, side by side,"
Fox sniffled hard and hic-upped softly. He rubbed at his eyes and took a shaky breath, "I-I miss him so much...!"
"I know lad... I know," Peppy rubbed his shoulder and arm softly, wishing he could do more to comfort him, "Try to get some sleep now... I'm sure everything will be clear for you in the morning. Falco will be fine and come back again, just like he always does, and always will," Fox nodded a little. Peppy gave a sad little smile then reached across the bed to close the blinds on the window.
"D-don't," Fox said, shifting to look back at the window. His eyes glowed with tears from the light that came in, "I-I want to see if he comes back..."
Peppy looked down at him but nodded, "Of course," He stood up and pulled the covers over Fox more as the younger man curled up on the bed again, facing the large window. "Sleep well, Fox," he said quietly then walked to the door. He paused and looked back at him, but frowned and left, closing the door behind him quietly.