"Are you sure you're okay?" I ask for a third time, looking up at him. We're swaying to the rhythm of the slow music, to the dim lighting, to the murmured chatter.
He smiles good-naturedly, readjusting his hands around my waist. "Don't worry about it, Samus. Did I mention how stunning you look tonight?"
"You could stand to mention it a couple more times," I say, grinning as we circle. It is the final Championship Ball before we all go home, so there is that lingering feeling of an almost goodbye. Everybody is dressed up in their finest. And once again, I've found myself on the dance floor with a man. Before this tournament, I hardly ever found myself on the dance floor.
Marth smiles, the edges of his eyes crinkling as he looks down at me. "There, I made you smile! Now you look beautiful."
His comment doesn't make me blush, but my smile stays on my face, appreciating the compliment. "Don't you feel bad that Zelda ended up not choosing you though?" I press. It's easier to hear about other people's problems, rather than dwelling on my own.
My eyes sweep across the floor, to find the friend in question. I look past Snake, Ike, both dancing with beautiful young women before settling on a woman who I think is Zelda due to her brown hair swept up in an up do. But I realize it isn't her when she turns around. Where is she?
Marth shrugs, trying to look nonchalant. "If it wasn't meant to be, then it wasn't meant to be. She told me that it wouldn't be fair on me if she decided to stay. She said she'd always have feelings for Link. And then she said something about their destinies entwining so closely that it was impossible for her to choose somebody else." He tries to make it look like it doesn't affect him, but I can see that he's been hurt at least superficially. Looking at him more deeply, I realize that he's not hurt at all at the fact that she didn't return his feelings; he's more hurt that she chose somebody else over him. Well, I suppose he'll get over it quickly, if the only thing that is wounded is his pride.
I finally locate Zelda who's slow dancing with Link, her brown locks tied up in an elaborate braided bun. They both are glowing in happiness. My gaze shifts towards Peach who has found a dark corner with Mario. Ugh... PDA. Gross. I quickly avert my gaze.
I told Zelda and Peach what happened afterward. I felt like they needed to know the truth. Ever since then, they've been always at my side even making Marth take me to the dance so that I wouldn't be completely alone. ("I will break your nose with this frying pan if you refuse!" Marth quotes Peach, when he tells me the story) They can't imagine what I've been through, and they're not naive or arrogant enough to even try to attempt to understand. They are simply there for me when I need them which I'm grateful for. I love them for that.
I skirt past Diddy and Metaknight who are still glowing from their win. The dim lighting makes it hard to pinpoint certain Smashers, but it's easy to spot their silhouettes due to their strange shapes. It takes me back to our match.
Am I strong or weak for doing what I did that night? I can't tell yet, but as time begins to wear on I become more convinced that it's the right decision, even if I'm not completely happy yet. These past two months have been a blur of emotions. Some of the best, and some of the very worst. But I think I'm finally approaching some kind of home, where I belong. It's been a long and tiring ride to get to the state of where I am now.
After all, I'm nothing more and nothing less than a survivor.
"What are you thinking?" Marth asks, his handsome head tilting to the side, trying to figure me out. His bangs slide a bit to the left, exposing his eyebrows slightly.
I look up to his cobalt blue eyes, trying to figure out what to say. I smooth my features over with a light laugh, easing in an expression that's the opposite of wounded, vulnerable and thoughtful. To my mild surprise it's not as hard as I think. "Nothing extraordinary, I can tell you that." The song ends and I let go of him. "I'm going to get something to drink. Any requests?"
"I'll never figure you out Aran, but I'm sure that every time you get that look in your eye, you're thinking something extraordinary," he says, shaking his head. He uses a slim hand to brush his bangs back in place. "Tell them to play better music. Something faster!"
I grin my acknowledgment before making my way down the dance floor. Link is whispering something into Zelda's delicately pointed ear which makes her blush shyly as she looks at him through her lashes. Her face splits into a wide grin as she gets up on tiptoes to give him a chaste kiss on the lips. I watch them for a moment, regret withering my smile away. I'm strong, but once in awhile when I witness this sort of thing I'm allowed to lean back a little into the darkness and chaos.
Because I once thought I knew a love like that for a very short time; pure, naive, free. But for me, love is never pure and free. It's something else entirely.
I look toward Peach and Mario who are no longer rated PG-13, but now seem to be in the middle of a heated argument. It's their first one of the day which is a vast improvement. At least Peach doesn't have her frying pan with her, though I'm sure the gold clutch that she brought along could leave a mark, if she uses it as a weapon.
I guess I knew a love as tumultuous as that as well.
"Watch it!" I've accidentally bumped into the brunette that I mistook for Zelda earlier. She turns away from her date, her bun a little askew because my shoulder has knocked into her up do. Even glaring at me she's gorgeous, with brilliant green eyes, freshly waxed eyebrows and dark red lips. Her perfume smells expensive.
"Sorry," I apologize nervously.
As I walk away I hear her complain, "Now my hair's ruined! I should probably let it down."
"Don't be stupid. A woman like yourself always looks better with their hair up."
Some things are unforgivable enough that you just can't get past it entirely. But if there's something I've learned from Falcon it's that violence is never the answer to closure.
Instantly mollified, she purrs, "If you say so, Captain. You always seem to know what to say to a girl."
But I need to stop living in the past.
My eyes flit to him for the briefest of seconds. We're both living different lives now, a side effect of shooting the patio door instead of him, when I realized that I didn't want my life tainted by blood anymore. But that doesn't mean that I can't look back from time to time at that face. That enigma.
He returns my gaze, only briefly, his eyes hooded, unreadable. "Not all of them," he responds.
And then the past is gone when he turns away. He's with his date and I'm...
...Well, I'm still on this journey of moving on. This ever present journey that I've discovered is my true home.
Thank you to everybody who reviewed!
Originally, I was going to split this into two chapters to detail what happened right after Samus fired the gun, but I didn't have enough words to fit everything in, so I just skipped over to the epilogue which I felt was far more important. I dunno, I might make a part 2 if this is too ambiguous and unsatisfying of an ending to some. Especially since I know I left some plots open that I simply just couldn't fit in the conclusion (Like Samurai Goroh)
Lastly, I do not own anything Nintendo related, nor do I own the music that inspired my chapters' titles: Coldplay (A Warning Sign), Sweet (Ballroom Blitz), Adiemus (In Caelum Fero), Muse (Sunburn), and last but not least, the amazing Metric (Wanderlust).
Please place a review on your way out!