A/N: Hello everyone. This is our entry for Chimerical Knave's contest. So let's get to it.
Pen: *sighs* Star Fox is owned by Nintendo. Sword and myself are owned by this nitwit.
Ain't It Grand?
Careful. Easy, easy. Not too fast, Fox thought as he slowly slid out from under the thick blankets. He tried to keep a prone position, refraining from shifting the weight on the mattress, as one foot touched the floor. He reached down with one hand, caught the weight of his body, and rolled out and onto his feet swiftly and softly. He glanced over his shoulder at the velvet bedspread, grinning when he saw the only lump in the bed still completely at ease.
She breathed softly, raising the blankets ever so slightly before they fell back upon her limp, tired frame. Even her sleep sounded weary to Fox, which he did not find surprising. She had been up only an hour ago, tending to her maternal duties.
Fox smiled and walked out of the room, minding the one area of the floorboards that creaked and groaned like a horror movie monster. His first stop was the kitchen, his hopes set on food sending him back to sleep. Yet he found nothing in the refrigerator or the cupboards appealing to his appetite. If he was honest to himself, he was not even hungry at all. Thirsty was more like it. He wondered if it had been because of his dreams. He had certainly been yelling in them. Perhaps in reality, his mouth had stayed open and dried out.
He grabbed a glass of water, ignored the dining room table that the kitchen looked over, and headed out the front door for the porch. He sat in his favorite, rickety wooden chair that always sounded like one more of the various twigs that held it together had snapped when it held his weight. Yet it remained sturdy and firm in the challenge to support him, just like he always had always been firm in the face of adversity from danger all over the galaxy.
As he took a sip of the lukewarm water, he recalled his dream once more that had woken him up. He only remembered traces of it now. The snapshot of his dream in his mind's eye that had once been clear as a photograph now bled color into color, any resemblance to a distinct image fading away fast, like a fresh painting splashed with water. Fox knew it was of some past battle or other where he and the rest of Star Fox had been victorious, saving the day from certain doom once more.
He did remember one key phrase that stuck out to him. "Ain't it grand?" Falco's words. At the time, Fox had the naivety to believe that Falco had been commenting on the vast galaxy before them, their adventures, and their lives in general. At least, that was until Falco had corrected Fox by clarifying that he was referring to how many ships he took down and their incoming reward.
But the idea had stayed with Fox long after the battle. He often had, with a happy heart and a grin on the cusp of his lips, believed that everything was grand: that his position as a mercenary leader was grand; that his fame throughout the galaxy was grand- which Falco agreed whole-heartedly to; that their lives were overall grand in about every sense of the word. At that time in his life, he could not ask for anything more.
Yet as he gulped down some more water and gazed at the twinkling stars in the cloudless sky, he laughed at his younger self. Back then, he would not have traded his title as protector of the Lylat System for anything else. Now, he would gladly give it up a thousand times over for where he was now. It was not that he did not care about the general population, but peace had been established and everyone was safe. Someone else could take over the reins and he would pass that torch along, albeit with a bit of a reluctant fondness for some of the better and thrilling times.
He was happy with the thrill of his adventure there and now, more so than when he was a mercenary. When he thought of that phrase once more, his eyes were turned more planet-side than on the stars; those celestial balls, now behind a thick window. The moon bounced its light off of the glass and into the center of the furniture Fox now leaned over. He buried his mouth in his crossed forearms, staring into down into the tiny bed as he laid all his weight on the raised sides.
There was another lump on the smaller mattress, shorter and chubbier than its similarly colored parent, but sleeping just as soundly. The only semblance he bore to the tiny replica of his wife was in the hair. That white tuft of hair, already starting to curl slightly as it rest atop a violet scalp. Of course, his wife would also claim that the child has his energy and penchant for adventure. Fox would guffaw at that, waving it off, until he would see the babe crawling towards some sort of mischief.
Fox dropped one hand into the crib, letting his fingers find his son's hands, stroking the tiny digits and palms softly. Without waking, the baby enclosed one of his large fingers between its fat, stubby ones and suckled on it. It soothed the teething toddler and he gurgled happily in his sleep.
He wondered if his own father had been in the exact same position before, looking down on Fox and thinking that he was the most wonderful child a father could ask for. He never had the chance to ask like most sons could when they become parents, but he supposed it was most likely that his father had been in the same position.
Those musings led Fox down a path of questioning his own parental skill. Was he doing a good job? Was he providing enough for his son? Too little? Too much? Was he too strict or too lenient? Had he chosen the right place to raise a family? Was he making the same mistakes as his own father? Would he end up like his father, leaving a child alone in the world to fend for himself, even though the best intentions were at heart in his father's decision? Was he doing better or worse than his own father?
Two smooth, thin arms wrapped around his waist and a warm, loving cheek rested upon his back. "You're doing a great job," Krystal said, reading his mind easily. Years of marriage had done little to blunt the shock of her telepathic powers each time she used them.
Fox retrieved a slimy finger from his son's mouth and used his other hand to run his fingertips through the little white curl of hair. "I could be doing better," he said admittedly. He turned to her, noticing that her eyes could barely qualify as being open. "How long have you been up?"
"Only a few minutes," she yawned, shaking her head.
"You should get some sleep. You've been up enough tonight."
"I'm fine," she said, snuggling into the warmth of his chest as he fully turned around to hold her. "And you're doing the best you can. Nobody can ask for more than that."
He smiled weakly, but his face grew grim once more. "Am I? Maybe I'm no good at it. What if I have to leave to protect Marcus one day like my own father did? What if he doesn't understand and resents me for it?"
Krystal looked up at him, studying his face. "Do you resent your own father for leaving?"
"Not at all," Fox said assuredly, burying his muzzle into her long bangs. He swayed gently back and forth with her as if their favorite song was playing in the room. "He did what he had to. He had to leave to protect everyone. I know he loved me and didn't want to leave." Fox did not notice Krystal's mouth slowly turning up as he continued. "He wanted to give me, his family, friends, and everyone else a safe galaxy. It's part of the reason I used to fight as well."
"And would you say he was a good father before he left?"
"He was a great father until the day he died," Fox corrected. He looked down at Krystal, regarding her smile with a chuckle as he realized what she was leading him to.
"You are, have been, and will be a great father as well," Krystal said, kissing his cheek. "And if you should ever have to leave to protect Marcus, he will understand. He's pretty intuitive."
"Like his mother," Fox pointed out, returning her kiss. "Thanks."
"Anytime," she said, unable to stifle a large yawn as she dozed off against his chest. He leaned against the edge of the crib, supporting her as he glanced back down at his son. Fox ran a lone finger through the curl again and again, savoring the softness as his eyes turned toward the window.
"Ain't it grand?" Falco's words echoed through his mind once more. Fox's body was no longer encased by a plush Arwing seat, but by his wife's gentle embrace. His hands ran over Marcus' small body, not console keys and a flight stick. He was still supported by fame and money from his flying days, but had some things more precious than that. Things he would never trade for any monetary amount: family, happiness, and love.
Where his younger self had emphatically agreed at the time with Falco, Fox now chastised that youth for ignorance. For him, there could be nothing grander than the adventure he was on now. "Yes," he answered the whispers of the past whole-heartedly and with more emotion than ever before. "It is grand."