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>>REPRISE::

Alankria

Disclaimer: Fox McCloud, Wolf O⁽Donnell and any other planets, characters and concepts of StarFox are property of Nintendo. Lyrics are from 'Quidam' by Cirque du Soleil.

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Your world is yours not mine

Your dreams are yours

You may have touched the stars but they weren't moved

The rain had started again. It fell in thick curtains from the sky, filling the view from the window with indiscriminate motion. There was no noise but for the balls of liquid hammering down onto the pitiful world beneath the clouds. In the distance there is a dull flash of light followed several seconds later by a loud clap. The storm blankets all that is beneath it.

"And washes the world clean," Wolf says, his voice a soft whisper almost lost amid the rain.

He is sitting on the edge of the bed, his dark bangs hanging over his darker eyes. I realise with a small shock that he has removed the eyepatch that he had worn for longer than I can remember, exposing the ruin of his left eye, and now turns the eyepatch over in his paws.

"There is so much this represented," he says in that same soft voice. I can only listen on, surprised by his words and at the same time fascinated by him. "This was Wolf O’Donnell and maybe Wolf O’Donnell was even this. The heartless mercenary who lived only to kill for his Emperor, the one who paid him. Epitome of all that is evil." He shakes his head. "Well this is gone now," and he throws the eyepatch out of the window and into the rain, where it is quickly drowned, "and all that is left is here." He looks at me, his eyes searching mine. "And what were you? The angel from on high, the saviour of justice, the epitome of all that is good?"

I cannot stop myself from laughing humourlessly. I pull the medal that General Pepper had given me from my pocket and stare at it. "I was nothing better or worse than you. I ended lives and that makes me the epitome of good? Maybe I saved the Lylat System from something worse than me but — but —" If that's the case then who will save me from me?

The medal, too, is lost in the rain. I watch the blur of water for a while and then look back to Wolf, tears choking in my throat.

"And now all I am is alone."

There's nothing left

There's nothing right

There's nothing wrong

My feelings are confused. As I look at Fox, who is so lost, all I want to do is take that small boy into my arms and hold him until his pain goes away and he feels safe again. Immediately I think of Pigma Dengar and his unpleasant desires for young boys with the kind of angelic features that Fox possesses. And immediately I know that my desire to take Fox into my arms is not the same as Pigma's sick desires. No, this is not lust. I don't want to strip his clothes off and bend him over the end of the bed and do unspeakable things to him. I want to hold him.

"I don't know what to do," Fox says. I look up from my confused thoughts and see tears running from his bright green eyes, and more than ever I want to go over to him, to wipe those tears away and bring back the smile that I remember from the Academy.

Ah… the Academy. Once upon a time I was at the Cornerian Army Academy with Fox. There was a kind of amiable competition between us. Until my father turned coat, walking down that dark path of temptation that Andross so cleverly laid before so many people. Such suspicion was cast over me at the Academy, the son of a traitor, that I could do little but leave. And I too found myself walking that dark path.

Was it so dark a path to have brought me back here to Fox? Had his path been so light to have brought him here to this forsaken place and such forsaken company?

"I don't know what to do!" Fox is shaking, his whole body at the mercy of the sobs that rise up from the dark reaches of his self. I am halfway across the short distance to him when I stop myself and ask perhaps the most important question.

Is there such a thing as true love without any sexual desire?

Fox looks up at me, confusion in his eyes at my sudden movement, and then there is a change in him and it as if he can read my thoughts and understand my intentions. He reaches for me, wrapping his arms around my torso and burying his face in my chest. I wrap my arms around him and hold him, and as I can feel him sobbing into my chest I can feel tears rolling down my own face and dripping onto the top of his head. I haven't cried in a long time. I haven't felt the need to until now. In one moment I am so suddenly aware of my loneliness and at the same time so content to be where I am.

And if you reach for me I may not choose to hold your hand

I might smile

Or I might turn away

I've decided that for this moment I'm not going to think. I'm not going to try to analyse why the heck I've ended up in Wolf O’Donnell's arms feeling the same kind of security that I felt in my father's arms as a kit. I'm going to allow myself to feel content. God knows I deserve it. And, aware of Wolf's tears dripping onto me, I know that he deserves it too.

After a while, I couldn't say how long, we pull apart and sit on the floor and look at each other.

"What is this?" Wolf finally says.

I shake my head. "Does it really matter? Peppy once told me…" I sigh at the though of Peppy. He must be worried sick about me. "He once told me that sometimes it's wrong to think too much about something, that if you feel it's right then it's probably right. I don't know what happened just then but I do know that it made me feel a lot better, so does it really matter what it was?"

Wolf sighs and shakes his head. "I don't know, Fox. I thought you were the questioning type."

"What do I need to question!" I am not angry with him, I just need him to understand. Because if I lose what I had just then… "Out there," and I point to the window, which is still curtained with rain, "I was nothing. I had won the war but I lost to myself. I had nothing to live for. I would have faded away. Even when I came up here with you I felt like that. And now, just now, with you, everything came back together again. I don't see the need to question something that can do that, because I know that I need it to survive."

Wolf is carefully not meeting my gaze.

"What are you afraid of?" I ask in a soft voice.

His gaze shifts and I can see what he is thinking: 'Am I afraid?' He thinks for several minutes before saying, in a quiet voice, "The unknown."

Him and the rest of the universe.

"Wouldn't the unknown be less scary if you didn't face it alone?"

"You're the unknown, Fox!" It's his turn to be incensed, to try to make me understand. "What happened just then… it's never happened before, Fox. I don't know what that is. It's not sexual, I know that for sure… but that confuses me more. I don't know if it's possible to be close to someone without wanting to sleep with them."

I know I shouldn't butt into his train of thought but I have to tell him. "When I was a kit I used to sleep in the same bed as my parents some nights. We'd all curl up together and we'd all be happy, we'd all feel safe together. There was nothing sexual in that bed, Wolf, just comfort. The comfort you can get from being with someone. In the scariest parts of the war I curled up with Falco, who despite his unfeeling fašade was as emotional as the rest of us and a very good hugger. We never fancied each other but we needed the comfort. Moments where all the pain goes away." I cock my head slightly. "Didn't it feel good for you?"

The truth, the lie

The tear, the laughter

The hand and the empty touch

It felt so wonderful.

"Don't you see, Wolf? Look at us now. Only minutes ago we were at rock bottom and now we're okay. I know it's new to you but it shouldn't be scary."

I'm aware of myself nodding even before I can think about the action. His words make sense. Maybe it will be a while before I'm accustomed to this strange thing but if it can bring us back so suddenly from such a dark place then maybe I should accept it.

"So we look after each other," I say. Fox nods, smiling a smile that lights up his green eyes. "Where do we go now?"

We both look to the window. The rain has abated slightly, allowing us a blurred view of the world outside. Even through the blur we can see the ruin and the despair. Suitable to us earlier but not now. "Away from here," Fox says. "I have to let my team know I'm alright but I'm not going back there. I need more time to deal with what happened in the war before I can go back and be the hero everyone thinks I am."

"I'd rather die before going back to Venom," I say. I hated that place.

Fox looks out the window and is lost in thought for several minutes. "Not all of Katina is like this," he says finally. "This place has too many bad memories but maybe this planet is a good place to start. And maybe we can help with the rebuilding. After all, we did cause some of this mess."

"Yeah. Maybe we can get a little house." I never had a little house as a child. I had basements, streets, an abusive father and a dead mother.

"And grow our food," Fox says with a little smile.

"Mercenaries to farmers," I say, and Fox laughs. "You up for that?"

Will it happen that way? I don't know. I can't predict the future. But I know that as long as Fox and I are together we can face the unknown.

Here I am waiting for the curtain to fall.