(Story, including A/Ns, edited on October 18, 2012. Due to the length of the A/N it has been placed on the bottom of the page for aesthetic purposes. The purpose they serve is to illuminate the intent of the story, explanations of the home section for the uninitiated and give a little bit of thanks to the inspiration of the story and the recipient of the gift, Tune4Toons)
(At the time of winning Link and Echo's Inevitable Contest, this story has exactly 666 total views on it. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.)
Two Years, Two Weeks and Two Days
"Choose your last words, This is the last time, Cause you and I, We were born to die"
~Lana Del Rey, Born to Die
I hate being here. I never wanted to be here. All the same, I should have expected this. We're bounty hunters. We're almost expected to die. I suppose it was inevitable.
Yet, I still can't believe it.
I've never been in such an intense quiet before, and yet the silence is deafening. We're downtown in Junction City, in a formal hall where the memorial will take place. It's been sixteen days since it happened, and they've felt like sixteen years.
Oh, goddamn it. It's been too slow. It's almost inescapable.
I didn't ask for this.
Everyone's dressed up so nicely. Seeing the amount of black being worn is like staring into an endless void. No one knows what she would have dressed like if she were here. I know that she probably wouldn't have bothered.
"I don't do funerals," she says, needlessly defensive, staring me straight in the eye. "I think the excess amount of death I've witnessed should excuse me from at least a handful." That comment incites a long stretch of silence that she usually instigates when she thinks she's said too much. A year, eight months and four days ago.
Well, the funeral already passed, as it happens. I sat through the whole thing uncomfortably, too. There were no tears and little emotion, but there was respect. Many people respected her with very good reason. She was a warrior beyond comparison. Nothing could stand in her way... except, of course, for the final thing. She made a difference and she protected Junction City. People called her, and eventually us, heroes for it. Some said that she represented the good bounty hunters stood for. I know she didn't take such compliments to heart. Being a bounty hunter was just what she did. She was good at it and she didn't know how to do anything else.
That's what she said, at least.
But I knew better.
"I didn't choose the bounty hunting life. The bounty hunting life chose me." She chuckles dryly. The memory is almost a retort.
I still knew better. Even two years and sixteen days ago.
She was more than a bounty hunter. Sometimes I think she knew that and simply denied it.
I know about bounty hunting. I am a bounty hunter. It's how we became acquainted. We figured that putting our skills together would be beneficial to our work; catch more villains, earn more of a living. I knew that wasn't the only reason, though. She was finished with being alone. She had spent nearly three decades on her own and decided it was enough.
She spent nearly three decades alone, and barely over two years afterward with someone she could trust. I've never heard of anything quite so unfair happening to someone so undeserving of it.
This hall we are in now, in our stuffy suits and formal dresses that insist this is a special occasion, is nearly suffocating me right now. There is nothing special about this. In fact, it makes me angry. You want to honor her now? You want to pay your dues now? You at Junction City, a city she owed nothing to and yet gave everything for, have just figured out that she deserves your respect? Well, thank you for waiting until she died for you to give it to her.
"People need someone to look up to, a small reassurance that the world won't fall today." She looks at me, and for once her smirk is a smile. She adjusts her gun in her holster and says with alarming sincerity, "I guess we'll have to do."A year, three months and twenty-one days ago.
Many famous names and faces showed up to pay (belated) respect to her. Even government officials that had spoken against bounty hunting showed up despite (perhaps because of) their own agenda. Even some of the more volatile or controversial hunters were wandering around for whatever reason. Still, no one here truly cared for her.
No one... except for me. That's because I earned her trust, and because I was the only one who cared to.
"The hardest thing I could ever do is trust." The confession is rushed, as if she hopes I'll miss it. Two months and five days ago.
Of course I'll never forget it.
I avoid people at all costs. The last thing I want to do is talk to any of them. They don't feel real. They're not as invested. I should have known what I was getting myself into with her. Maybe I did ask for it, in a sense. I should have sensed this inevitable misery when my own life and safety began to take a second priority to hers.
"Don't kill yourself on my behalf." It's a snappish comment she delivers with a smirk, but she means it. Three weeks and four days ago.
I should have told her the same.
It still seemed inevitable, though, like waiting for the pin to drop and trigger an avalanche to take us both out.
I'm hungry, so I find one of the nearby tables and pick a couple of deviled eggs off of it. I feel uneasy about the fact that I'm eating party favors at her memorial service, but she'd probably kick me in the shin if I were to say something as nonsensical about that, so I grab a third for good measure.
It's not that I'm fasting or anything because of her death. I just hate how they're turning it into a party, as if her death is something worth celebrating. I know what they say about not mourning her death but celebrating her life, but again, why didn't they do that while she was still alive?
I know that I was glad she was alive.
I know that I'm miserable now that she's not.
"I mean... if I've done anything to make my existence worth something to you..." She never finishes. She turns away and remains silent for a half hour. A month and three weeks ago.
It's okay. I never quite understood it all either.
I see someone intentionally heading my way, and I prepare myself for a wooden conversation. To my surprise, it's yet another bounty hunter, albeit one we never associated with. He was different than us. We strictly went after the ones harming Junction City. Rumors went around that he worked for anyone who paid him, hero or villain. Never proven, never denied. He was good at his job, but it certainly wasn't a clean one.
"I highly doubt what we're doing is exactly clean," she says, looking down at the dashboard as I slow the car down. "Try necessary. Try defensive. Try brave, or even helpful, if you're feeling frisky. But never clean." Seven months and a day ago.
And I suppose she was right, but even then, he was further away from righteousness than we were. I suppose it's all relative though.
He walks to me, bent over slightly as though it's a struggle to completely stand. He stops just short of arms' length. "Hello, Captain," he greets me. His voice is dry but not disdainful.
I nod and curtly say, "Wolf O'Donnell." I'm not overly polite because I'm hoping he gets the hint that I'm far from desiring a conversation.
To further clarify this, I stand there quietly, wondering when I can leave and swipe a few more deviled eggs without looking like a jerk. It's about half a minute of restless silence before Wolf speaks up again. "This is bullshit."
I don't know what he's speaking of, yet I already agree. Still, I ask, "what is?"
"This whole thing. I mean, is this a party? Are they glad she's dead? Cause they seem in pretty goddamn good spirits."
My heart skips a beat because he's right. Again, I hesitate. "What do you mean?"
"Don't play dumb. You're looking over everyone thinking about how full of shit they are. Half of these people, the city officials, were never invested in even the slightest thing that Samus Aran ever stood for. I doubt they even fully understood. In fact, they probably bitched about it beforehand."
"People don't care much to understand. They just want to draw their own conclusions." She swirls her spoon around her small cup of coffee, making sure the sugar and cream are well applied before adding with a small blush, "I suppose if they want to make a big fuss about me, though… hey." A year, six months and fourteen days ago.
Even someone like her needed a bit of appreciation, even if you could never convince her that she earned it.
I snap back to Wolf. "And you did?" I reply tersely.
"Not entirely," he admits shamelessly, "but at least I don't go around acting like it. I'm here out of respect, just like everyone else says they are."
I'm silent for a few moments. This conversation has a lot more meaning than I anticipated. Eventually, I bitterly reply, "Define 'respect'."
He jerks his head over to the crowd of black-suited souls mingling around us. "I don't know about them, but if you want to hear about some actual respect, I turned down five different hits on you two."
I'm astonished. "Seriously?"
He nodded. "Ton of money lost on that one, so don't take that lightly."
"Don't worry." I've been zapped into animation. "I very much appreciate it." I sober up significantly as I add offhandedly, "It didn't help her much, but thank you anyways."
He scowls. "You're still alive, aren't you? Act like it. I mean…" He stops just short of an angry rant after he takes a look at me (I'm honestly not sure what expression is on my face). "Look, I know you're taking this hard and I get it, okay? This kind of thing happened to me too." He pauses and takes a breath, considering himself. "Not the same, not different. Fact is that you're not dead yet, so I'd like to think I made a wise investment."
"The hell is wrong with these people? They should be giving you a lot more credit." She seems genuinely flummoxed that it's her name making headlines much more than mine nowadays. A year, six months and fourteen days ago.
I don't reply to Wolf just yet.
He looks me dead-on, calm as the eye of a storm. "Honestly though, if I knew she was going to die anyways, I still wouldn't have done the hit."
I nod. "Thank you."
"I'll talk to you later." It's not a request, and he doesn't give me time to argue, but I have a feeling that I haven't seen the last of Wolf O'Donnell.
Happy birthday, Tune. One does not usually write someone a tragedy for their birthday, but of course there's me, hahaha. What I was really trying to do, though, was write a story that took the grit, emotion and beauty you put into yours and use it to inspire my own work... and apparently I can't go three stories without one of them being about death.
Also, thanks for not having any problem with me entering it into this contest. I wish you luck with your own piece, if you can enter it! Friendly competition, especially after you bested me in the Body Switching contest, yah?
Also, this is the first time I have self-beta'd intensely, and it actually turned out very well.
I really hope you enjoy this, though (and everyone else who reads this) and that it speaks to your skill. You have a skill that I am honestly envious of, and I hope I at least paid tribute to it.
I don't know any Indonesian, so there's no clever bilingual sentiment I can put here, so I'll just say it in English: Your writing has inspired me with my own, and has given me a second wind and the motivation to try again. I thank you for the support you've given me and I'm thankful I've been able to inspire you back. Artists like us are what keeps the blood of humanity's heart racing, and I'm glad we've been able to share in each other's power.
~For Other Readers~
Primarily, I've gained my audience from The Reviews Lounge, too, so I'm going to add to my disclaimer and place it in every chapter since the workings of the Smash Bros section are very unusual indeed. Thanks for your help, all 23 of you who have started this fic by the time I've edited my A/Ns, and any further ones that will continue to read afterward. This fic is more for an audience like you than for its home section. Memento Vita has become my masterpiece, so thank you for seeing my vision (even if it is ultimately a brutal tearjerker, haha.)
~In Regards to Winning The Contest~
What an honor, really. I didn't expect to win at first, then Tune entered, and I really didn't expect to win. Then Tune dropped out, and at the risk of shooting myself in the foot, I urged her to go back in. When she wrote home, I didn't even consider it a remote possibility, my victory. home... it just may be the best fanfic I've ever read. I believe that, and I'm honored to have won against it. I put my heart and soul into this story, and I'm glad it resonated.
As usual, I own nothing, regret nothing and let them forget nothing. The Super Smash Bros version is essentially a melting pot of Nintendo characters from every major universe and several smaller ones. It's become the template for many works Nintendo Crossover without relegating it to that section, as it is here. Unlike many Nintendo games, canon here is very thin and often negligible, as the SSB games don't have any story save for the Subspace Emissary game-within-a-game from Brawl. There is very little canon to follow so most of it is by my own construction.
Furthermore, this is an Alternate Universe story, which either re-formats the Universe the source is set in or creates a whole new one. I've done the latter here; the idea of Super Smash Bros doesn't exist, but the roster has been used in reference many times as a society of bounty hunters, to keep with the general theme of this story. Samus from Metroid, Captain Falcon from F-Zero and Wolf from Star Fox are actually bounty hunters in their respective games' canon, which is what inspired the story.
Mel Yoshita is somewhat of an original character, but she is largely a recurring character that is a reinterpretation of our lovable Yoshi. Mayor Handler is also a reinterpretation of an SSB original character, Master Hand, the in game creator of the universe that is essentially a giant hand. Here, they're both human.
I hope you've enjoyed it thus far and continue to do so.