Author's Notes: This is a sad excuse to overcome writer's block.
Warnings: Yaoi, shounen-ai, slash, whatever you call it. Don't like, don't read. Also un-beta'd.
Disclaimer: I don't own Super Smash Brothers.
Summary: How likely is it that one finds his significant other without any help? An ordinary depiction of an extraordinary phenomenon. One-shot AU. –Yaoi, Slash: Ike/Marth-
Less than 0.05
The first time his eyes fell upon the other's tall form was more out of curiosity than anything. His first thought revolved around how inconvenient maneuvering a bicycle around a crowded subway must have been—no, must be—considering how the standing figure swayed as the compartment lurched. The bike was in danger of toppling.
Feeling awkward for brooding over another's problem when it was obviously no business of his, Marth averted his eyes and returned his gaze to the blur of tunnel lights before the train burst into a wet, gray portion of the ride. Oh, rain. That would explain the guy's dampened appearance. Speaking of which…
"Uhm…" He paused, wondering if his tone was in any way as creepy as he imagined from a third person's perspective. "You look like you could use a towel." He fumbled with his bag for a moment to pull out said object of a dark gray color.
The stranger raised an eyebrow, looking more surprised than affronted. "Thanks." The bicyclist gave a friendly grin. "I'm certainly not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I got 'ta ask why you're carrying a towel around."
Marth shrugged as he handed the strip of fluffy cloth over to the other's free hand. "I'm headed to the gym."
"Oh, yeah?" The other man looked delighted as he dried his hair, which was a practical thing to do, since nothing screamed drowned like flattened hair dripping rivulets down one's face. "The one on Eighth Street?"
"No. On Main."
"Closer to you, huh?" came the other's muffled reply as the towel continued its journey over his face. Which Marth belatedly realized was rather good-looking. The new assessment was rather unfortunate, as Marth did not want this scenario to go from already unusual to embarrassingly bumbling.
The towel pulled away quickly, and the guy exclaimed, "You're a swimmer!"
No part of that statement should have warranted a blush, but Marth would forever blame his reaction on the other's volume. There was something about being subject of a proclamation of personal details amidst a large selection of the public while utilizing a fast-moving transit system that turned him red. Or maybe it was the idea that this stranger managed to read him like an open book after a minute's worth of commonplace conversation.
The taller man continued as if they were the only two people in the universe, "Good guess, right? I know the one on Main is the only one on this line with aquatic facilities. Plus, you have that build."
There was a familiar electronic ding, followed by an automated voice alerting passengers that they had reached the Main station. Marth hastily stood (stumbled) and quickly muttered, "This is me." As he grabbed the strap of his bag and headed for the open doors, he quickly added as an afterthought, "Stay dry."
The doors slid close, cutting off any confirmation from the other party. Although Marth would never know, since he never looked back.
It was about a week later when one of the administrative assistants at the gym approached him with a familiar gray towel and an envelope. The employee provided no other information, and he had no questions to be answered. Marth cautiously ripped open the letter seal as if it had the ability to bite the hand that opened it.
'Dear good Samaritan who could probably also save me in the middle of an ocean surrounded by sharks armed with only his aquatic prowess,'
Oh, dear. This was going to be an interesting message.
'I hope you find the attached item whole and intact. And clean. If not, one of the damn gym rats must have filched it and maybe used it and then… I don't want to think about it.
You know (actually, you don't know but), I don't bike often. And when I do, it usually rains. So thanks. Again.'
He never would have pegged the guy as a rambler, but who was he to judge a book by the cover? He did, however, appreciate the man's penmanship. Legible, uniform, and nonchalant. Well, it was hard to gauge the tone of this text without taking some liberties.
'Sincerely (not kidding about taking you with me should I ever go on a cruise ship),
The signature consisted of one particularly large loop, tail-end intersecting a pseudo less-than sign turned into an even tinier loop. He fitted the lined paper back into the envelope and placed it along with his returned towel into one of his bag's side pockets.
About an hour later after he had climbed out of the pool and shaken the excess water out of his hair, he reached in for his towel, only to jerk his hand back when sharp edges met his fingers. The chlorine only exacerbated the sting from the cut. He reminded himself that bad omens were in the eye of the beholder and that he luckily did not hold a filing job.
Sweeping the towel quickly through his hair to absorb any renegade droplets, he was struck by the thought that he never did think to check if the towel was clean. Holding the cloth to his face in the guise of wiping his face, he subtly inhaled. The laundered scent eased any muscles that had subconsciously tensed, before they all contracted again. Forcing them to relax again exerted too much mental energy than he was ready to admit. It was just a coincidence that this guy used the same fabric softener. The brand was not hard to come by—the shop was located in a little mostly forgotten corner of the city—okay, who was he trying to kid?
He didn't like this guy, and he certainly was not warming up to some random person who, by whatever means, was able to mimic how he liked his laundry done.
Plus, he knew all of this was very likely due to his tendency to overthink, subsequently blowing some miniscule point that happened by chance out of proportion.
He nearly jumped out of his skin when a voice behind him interrupted his thoughts with, "Hey, fancy meeting you here."
Marth could not recall ever being in this shop when there was another customer besides himself. The narrowness of the aisles never bothered him as much until now, when apparently someone was within his bubble and he had no escape route.
It had to have been several weeks ever since the TI (Towel Incident, as he so aptly labeled it) and there had been no indication that he would ever run into the supposedly not-bicyclist here. Or anywhere for that fact. Of all the times he used the subway, Marth never again ran into the TI scenario, nor caught a glimpse of this tall stranger among the throngs of people in the stations.
"You know," the man mused, rubbing his chin like the wizened bearded advisors on period dramas, "I always wanted to use that line without sounding like a creeper. How'd I do?"
Marth shifted the small plastic basket to one side, so that the weight of the items was distributed between arm and hip. "I'd tell you if I weren't desperately trying to find the mace in my pocket."
The other's eyes brightened. "Ah, touché."
He scanned the other from top to bottom, then casually remarked, "You seem to be keeping yourself out of the rain." And on the beach or something, he silently commented to himself, as the taller man appeared healthily tanned.
"Yeah." The guy grinned and ran a hand through his spikes. "You see, the sky turns gray whenever I pull out my bike."
The corner of Marth's lips twitch upward. "How considerate of you to keep your bike locked away then."
"Well, no one quite knows how to drive in rainy weather so…"
When his eyes drop to the contents of the other's basket, he can't help but ask, "So do you always use that brand?"
The man's smile widened. "I recently discovered how awesome it is."
"Is that so?" Marth murmured, searching the other's open expression for any signs of deception or malice.
"So clever banter aside—"
"—you find yourself clever, do you?" he interrupted, tone appearing as aloof as he was amused. Which he could not deny he was. Only slightly, of course.
"Well, you haven't given me the Glare of Death yet," the gradually-not-a-stranger-but-not-acquaintance reasoned, "and you look like you would have a pretty good one."
"Alright," Marth caved with a tilt of his head. "Continue then."
"Thank you." The other graciously inclined his head in response. "I'm Ike. You are…?"
"The guy who would save you from an ocean of sharks should a misfortunate cruise ship capsize," Marth deadpanned.
Ike laughed and extended a large hand, which Marth met halfway for a warm, solid handshake. "You're threatening my title here."
"Ouch." Ike winced, although Marth could not tell whether it was from his verbal jab or his grip (which he always tightened when it came to intimidating possibly troublesome people). "Lovable Side-Character of Quotable One-Liners?"
"I'm going to ignore the fact that you just described the comic relief character and tell you that my name is Marth."
Three weeks later, Marth's heart sped up as he found the taller man sitting on a rickety stool by the cashier and nursing a sweltering glass of carbonated liquid of undeterminable source.
"What are you doing here?" he asked, eyes wide and voice a little squeakier than he would like.
Ike glanced his way and smiled charmingly. Okay, now he knew exactly how this man had the old cashier doting on him like a long-lost grandson. "Hey, Beautiful Main-Character of Mysterious Upbringing."
Torn between sputtering indignantly and huffing exasperatedly, Marth settled on a hybrid between the two. "You're being ridiculous again."
The other man simply lifted a toast toward him and took a sip. When the aged owner went into the back to presumably collect another bottle of unknown pop for the newcomer, Ike stole a sly glance at Marth and whispered conspiratorially, "Yeah, but I'm a ridiculous Handsome Boy, according to this awesome lady."
"Hate to break it to you, stud, but granny's nearly blind." Marth smirked, before adding suspiciously, "Don't you work?"
Ike leveled a steady gaze at Marth, their eyes meeting evenly, as the taller one was seated on a squat wooden platform. "It's Sunday."
Lifting his shoulders in a shrug, Marth responded, "What do I know about your schedule?"
"You don't," Ike countered matter-of-factly, "which is why we should exchange contact information so that when I'm bored on a day like this, we can hang out."
Surprised at the straightforward delivery, Marth hesitated, unsure of the other's motives. But then again, when was anyone ever sure about anyone's motives?
"Then I'll stop saying your upbringing is mysterious, because then I'll know—"
The old woman arrived with a cup full of ice and a glass bottle of soda that required the popping of a marble in order to open. With a smile and a pat on his cheeks, the proprietor ambled away from the counter toward the aisles, presumably to straighten out already neat displays of merchandise.
Ike easily pushed the marble through and filled Marth's cup for him. "I think she wants us to have adorable children together."
Marth coughed into the soda, sending an asymmetric spray of liquid over the edge of the glass. He continued to cough in order to dislodge the microliters stinging at the top of the wrong pipe in his throat.
"Eh, but her English is pretty broken, so maybe she was just referring to our endearing and youthful qualities," Ike finished with a sheepish smile as he patted Marth on the back.
"You're going to kill me," Marth warned, upon recovering and wiping a hand across his mouth.
"Huh, well." Ike paused thoughtfully to consider this new fact and, undeterred, added, "Better give me your cell phone number should you slip and fall in your shower and need my assistance. I perform a fantastic Heimlich."
Staring incredulously at the other's serious expression, Marth then sighed, "At least ask in a manner that makes sense."
"I enjoy seeing you and we seem to get along, so I would like to have the ability to do this more often. Maybe without having to misinterpret the grand duchess' foreign-tinted version of the English language."
The second contact information exchanged hands, a very colorful texting conversation began.
'Dear Croissant. This is my number. Please do not hesitate to call me if you need a J-thrust. I am well-equipped for that.'
To his credit, Marth had resisted the urge to read that first text until he had returned home that day. Fortunately, he could then, in the privacy of his own home, face-palm.
'Tell me there was some crazy auto-correcting in that message,' he had replied.
'But Sweetie, Cookie, Muffin, Pumpkin and other saccharine-snack-pastry-squash-related nicknames are so overdone. Plus, I really like croissants.'
A few seconds later:
'Also, I heard H3imlich is copyrighted, and I don't want to pay royalties.'
From then on, they spent a few hours a week having a proper conversation over the phone if they did not manage to meet up at the gym or grab dinner after work if their schedules managed to synchronize. Ironically, Marth found the wait for laundry cycles to fly by with Ike's rambling on the other line.
"So guess what I did over the weekend?"
Marth snapped out of his reverie. Ike had a certain baritone that he found soothing. Feeling a bit ashamed for having zoned out on the phone, Marth apologized, "Sorry, what happened?"
"Are you apologizing for being unable to guess? Or were you dreaming of trans fats? Because then I won't be mad. Okay, anyway, so I'm playing basketball…"
It was hard not to pick up his phone and smile nowadays. He had been worried that he would not be able to handle the encroachment of his personal bubble, but the other man managed to keep all tones light and friendly. Aside from the teasing, everything could be misconstrued as friendship. Or should it be said that the teasing was platonic but arguably misconstrued as flirting? Actually what bothered Marth the most was the uncertainty of the situation. Were they working on being friends or something else?
'Log for Thursday: Standing in shady alley behind workplace to send covert message to favorite buttery pastry. Going to gym later. The one of Main? Want to come?'
'To the gym, I mean.'
'… How old are you?' Marth tapped out quickly, sending the text with an eye roll that he was sure Ike could sense.
Expectantly, Ike understood the rhetorical question and countered with, 'Old enough to be able to follow through with the offer if you really wanted to take me up on it.' Then, popping up immediately on his screen after: 'Okay, I'm done being a creeper for this week. Seriously though. Gym on Main at 6:00pm?'
'Whenever. I doubt I can get there earlier than 6:30pm.'
'Meeting friends for drinks afterward. Invitation extended to you.'
Marth studied the messages with a critical eye. He could not help his habit of analyzing what had been sent. If it had been Ike's idea, the text would have read something much simpler like… well, 'Want to come?' and certainly not something so formally stated. He concluded the event, though casually organized, still invoked the anxiety involved with being introduced to Ike's friends as…what?
It must have been around seven o'clock when Ike's figure lounged on a reclining chair by his bag alongside the pool. The other man had obviously finished his workout, as he looked showered and enthused to bear witness to Marth's laps. He had only noticed Ike because he was re-orienting himself for the backstroke.
"Hello," Ike greeted, eyes glowing with what Marth had by now learned was a typical Ike-related brightness. "You look great wet."
He laughed. This guy was ridiculous. "Ike, seriously. Were you always such a pervert? Groping people on the subway?"
"Hmm…no." Ike then looked like a light bulb had turned on. "Must be a recent discovery. Also, having a car reduces the temptation."
Marth would have splashed him if there wasn't a very good chance that Ike would use his own bag as a shield. The swimmer propped himself up and rested his chin on his forearms by the edge of the pool. Now that Ike was here… "That invitation. It wasn't your idea."
Guilt flashed across the other's face. "E-er, no, not exactly," Ike began slowly, looking away, before panic replaced the guilt. "I mean, not like I wouldn't want my friends to meet you…it's more… they have some crazy notions and you'll end up being grilled…" As if this was not enough to scare Marth, Ike added ominously, "Like barbeque."
"Define crazy notions," Marth prompted with a raised eyebrow. He hoped Ike understood this was his way of tacitly implying crazier than your notions?
"Well… eheh." Here Ike sharply inhaled and exhaled out in one long breath, "They heavily suspect that I like you—I can't imagine how they figured it out—so now they're adamant about meeting you, but then that means that if you are ever in their general vicinity, they will descend on you like a pack of wolves on a sheep."
Tilting his head to one side and observing the other's breathless countenance, Marth could not help but be amused by the unusually creative metaphors Ike was using, even if the main cause was apparently crippling nervousness. "I see. Wolves, huh?"
"More or less." Ike worried his bottom lip between his teeth. "Uh—"
"Why would they 'suspect' that you like me?" Marth asked innocently, blinking calmly up at the other man, who grew tenser by the moment. It really was too difficult to resist teasing the guy.
"I don't know," the seated person muttered, looking ready to disappear into himself. "I mean, I do, so it's not like they're wrong, but you don't need to know that—"
Stifling a laugh, the swimmer schooled his expression to be as impassive as possible. "Oh, is this one of those things on a 'Need to Know' basis?"
"Yeah, like knowing where the mines are before you take a step…"
Okay, Marth could tell he had lost Ike to the inner, twisty darkness that churned out metaphors that only described terrible situations. Hoisting himself out of the pool (and grateful for both the warm water and indoor temperature) and quickly closing the distance between the two, he took Ike's head, tilting it up, and waited for the withdrawn expression to be replaced by something a little more alert.
"If you attempt to make a metaphor of what will happen next, I will push you into the pool," Marth promised, the threat finely veiled as he lowered himself to lock mouths with Ike.
It was an uneventful weekend a few months later, and Ike was depositing grocery bags on the small island in Marth's kitchen. The shorter man had discovered just how convenient shopping for food was when there was a car involved. He had learned the hard way, which involved melons and the sheer stamina required to travel between his home and the subway.
"You're just using me for my car, aren't you?" Ike groused jokingly as he brought in the last haul.
Marth closed the refrigerator door long enough to wrap his arms around Ike's shoulders, causing the taller man to reflexively embrace him by the waist. They leaned into each other. "Of course. That and your rockin' body."
"I love how you say that with absolutely no inflection in your voice," Ike teased, dropping a kiss on Marth's nose. "Did I ever tell you—"
"Most likely, yes," Marth interjected, staring steadily into Ike's twinkling gaze. The other man simply tightened his hold on his hips.
"My favorite memory is still you coming out of that pool, dripping water everywhere—including me—and kissing the life out of me. Fucking sexy."
Flushing at the word choice, Marth tried to cover his embarrassment with a scowl. "Shame that you're still here breathing."
"Vindictive too. Hot." Ike's lips slow descent onto his ended the conversation, which was fine by him.
The clock above the doorway ticked away as Marth was maneuvered so that the counter pushed into the small of his back. With one lasting graze of his tongue against Marth's, Ike pulled away, giving the shorter man the chance to catch his breath. Only to be subsequently interrupted when Ike went for his ear.
The sensation of just a warm exhale against the shell of his ear made his legs soften, an immediate shudder wracking his body. His grip on Ike became desperate for the sake of simply not collapsing to the floor. "Ike, don't."
Marth was pressed harder against the countertop, which may have been uncomfortable if it wasn't half the reason he was still upright. "You know—"
"I do," was the amusement-tinged villainous reply, accompanied with a gentle brush of lips against the edge of his ear.
His breath turned ragged. "Groceries…" He attempted to indicate the one last errand he would like to accomplish before he was completely unwound.
"Sex," Ike suggested, whispering next to his ear, knowing exactly how much heat resulted in just that minute action.
He felt Ike's hands tease under his shirt, slowly trailing a path upward. "But… m-melting," Marth stuttered out, a last ditch effort to be rational and prevent food spoilage. He expected it to fail.
"That's my genius plan."
"On my kitchen floor?" He hazily stared into the other's eyes, genuinely questioning the location of this so-called genius plan.
Looking very much comfortable where he was and in no way motivated to move, Ike continued to rub distracting patterns on the other's skin. Marth closed his eyes to will away the visual aspect and gasped out as the somatic aspect spiked. Bad decision. "You can ride me," Ike proposed, voice lowered under the strain of arousal.
"Don't want." Marth squirmed, trying in vain to relieve the pressure building between them by pressing closer to the other's solid body. "I like having your weight on me."
"Fuck, why didn't you say that earlier?" was the last fully-formed sentence of that day.
"I'm going to take Lacey out to the park for her walk. Come with?" Ike asked, after rinsing out his coffee cup.
The dog's tail whapped energetically against the floor in response to the word walk. Marth ran a hand through the canine's recently cut locks. "I have a book due in two days. Go without me." Kneeling down to speak directly to the good-natured pet, Marth instructed very seriously, "Keep an eye on him at all times. He might get lost."
Ike pouted. "Hey now…"
"If he doesn't come when called, I packed a treat that you can use as an incentive," finished Marth, ignoring Ike's presence. Lacey communicated her understanding of his directions by licking his hand.
"What treat do I get?" the taller man demanded, even as Marth slipped the bone-shaped, bacon-flavored dog treat into Ike's jacket.
"Have a good time," Marth answered, leaning up to plant a chaste kiss on Ike's mouth. "Pick up some litter on your way home?"
There was a mischievous gleam in Ike's eyes. "More incentive, please."
"Pervert," Marth huffed, although he closed the gap between them for another kiss, which Ike deepened by cradling the back of his head and neck to hold him in place. Pulling away, Marth offhandedly commented, "Hm, coffee's good."
Ike laughed. "Such is my oral skills."
"Don't be ridiculous. I still like tea."
As the other two left, Marth brewed his tea, tucked his legs beneath him, and curled up on the couch to finish the library book. The cat had come to join him after about twenty minutes, having gracefully leapt from the floor, wound around the hot cup of tea, and settled into his lap.
Everything was fine for a good ten minutes until distant rumbling interrupted Marth's focus. Bailey yawned, all sharp fangs and quivering whiskers, but Marth straightened from his relaxed position to glance out the window. Gray… was that lightning? Okay, he may be imagining things. He turned his eyes back to the book.
Soon, the pitter-patter of rain against the roof grew constant.
Uh-oh… did Ike bring an umbrella? Removing the now-irate cat from his person, Marth went to check the hallway closet. That answered his question. Sans umbrella and accompanied by a furry ball of energy, Ike certainly was in for some damp times. Marth closed the closet, feeling vaguely unsettled for the imminent arrival of one wet Ike and an even wetter dog.
Why is it taking so long? If they had left the park at the first sign of rain, they should have been home by now. Worrying, Marth killed the next quarter of an hour by pacing, texting, watching the news and the window, but mostly just pacing.
When he finally heard the sound of the garage door, he grabbed a towel and quickly fled through the adjoining door, ready to meet Ike at the car door as the man pulled into park.
Only the car was cold and unused, shining lights and humming engine absent.
He didn't… really?
Ike looked thoroughly drowned, even as he untied the bag of kitty litter from the back of the bike. Lacey shook herself wildly, happiness levels rivaling the number of puddles outside.
Unable to hide a wry smile, Marth held up a gray towel and said, "You look like you could use a towel."
Author's Notes: I have a new-found respect for authors who complete one-shots. Would love some comments. Thanks for reading!