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>>reanimation — chapter eight: i will follow::

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>>REANIMATION — CHAPTER EIGHT: I WILL FOLLOW::

Ringshadow

Disclaimer: Don't own, don't sue.

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Fox glanced up when Falco walked in, blinking at the pattern dye-job that still showed on Falco's feathers. "Back, eh?"

"Yep, just did an overnighter at Katt's. We decided to get together more often." Falco shrugged, checking his voice mail quick. "Anything happen while I was gone?"

"Well, Vic says she needs to talk to you, but she's at school. Slippy wants to know if he can date her by the way, or if you're really going to hurt him if he tries. Leon was waiting around for you, but I think he's at your apartment."

"I wouldn't be surprised." He grabbed a soda out of the fridge absently. "Nothing else going on?"

"Nope. We're mellow here."

"Calm before the storm."

"What?"

Falco just looked at him. "Trust me on this one. I'm going to head to my apartment."

"See you later, then."

"Hey Vic!"

"Hi, Steve." Vic smiled, slurping her soda absently. She and Slippy were sitting in Corneria City Mall's food court, hanging out before the movie they had agreed to see. "What's up?"

"Not much. Haven't see you around is all." The stag plopped down, scratching one of his ears absently. "Hey, you're familiar." This was said to Slippy.

"I should be." Slippy replied mildly, knowing he was the least familiar of the Star Fox team, and glad for it. Fox couldn't go anywhere without being mobbed.

"Aren't you the guy who pointed a gun at her dad?" Seeing the look, he held up his hands. "Nah, dude, I approve. The guy is an asshole."

"I know that much, believe me."

The stag looked at him for a moment, then lifted an eyebrow. "Aren't you…?"

"Slippy Toad? Yes. I'm short, and I may weigh a bit more then I should, but a lot of it is muscle. I'm as trained in combat and guns as my commander is." Slippy took a drink of his latte absently. "Not that I would have really shot her dad, of course. Not anywhere fatal, at least."

"Meh. He deserves it." Vic said blandly. "Going to the opener of that new scifi flick, Steve?"

"Nah. I'm waiting for that horror one, that what you guys are doing?"

"Eyup."

"Have fun. Take care of yourself, Vic." His fingers brushed her shoulders, and the stag was gone.

"Vic, um… what am I going to do about your brother?" Slippy asked, rubbing the back of his neck. "Considering the fact that even though this isn't a date, he's probably going to clobber me one."

"Actually he probably won't."

"Oh, that makes me feel better."

Vic laughed. "Slip, he's got enough problems of his own."

"Is that why he's been such a grouchy bitch lately?" Slippy sat back, huffing. "It's irritating, I am his friend but I feel like I've been cut off. I mean, I'm here to help him, why won't he let me?"

"His problems would break your brain."

"Thank you very much for that vote of confidence, Vic."

She shook her head. "I'll be blunt. He's gay, he's dealing with it."

He blinked once.

"See, what did I tell you?"

He threw a packet of sugar at her.

Wolf sighed, leaning against the railing and watching the transport shuttle launch for its first test run, under Krystal's command with her crew in control. Well, one problem down. Fara's father had been more then happy to take an entire experienced crew under his wing, and had even offered a payoff plan for the ship. Krystal had pounced on that eagerly, anting her own ship more then anything, and now they had launched in their new wings.

There was a downside to this, of course. She'd have some more regular work hours. But she also wouldn't be gone months at a time, and for that he was grateful. He hadn't liked that idea, of her just leaving and him having to deal with his emotions alone. He sighed, allowing himself a half-smile and going to his car. At least some things turned out well.

"All clear?"

He glanced at Fara, who was leaning on her car. "Yes indeed. Thank you Fara."

"Nah. Glad to help in some way. I mean, it isn't like I try to hate her." She sighed, rubbing the back of her neck. "She just… I'm glad you're there for her."

"So she leaves Fox alone right?"

She smiled weakly. "Yeah, but really, just so she's not so lonely anymore. It used to be in her eyes a lot, how lonely she was."

"Well, I try." He returned the smile. "All I can do really."

She took one of his hands for a second. "You'll get your day Wolf."

"When I do I hope that it is a good one." He replied sourly, and they parted, her going to work, him returning to the Great Fox, mind wandering as he rode.

He had gotten a government car for the time being, and it was just a sedan, but it worked for him. He had been surprised, but Fox had just shrugged, saying it was probably a quiet thank-you for taking down the Loyalists not long ago. Wolf wasn't so sure, but he was glad for the freedom it imparted him. He was glad to get away from Fox sometimes, because as much as he cared for Krystal, some feelings still were there for his would-be commander.

He pulled up the ramp of the Great Fox's bay, parking his car carefully and getting out. Falco's bike was gone, he noticed, and the Arwing had returned. Just a quick break, then? He shrugged to himself and drug himself up to the bridge, figuring Fox was probably there. Fox was the commander of the group, but it seemed he had the least to do when there wasn't a war on.

Fox was indeed on the bridge, talking to ROB, still in his exercise gear. Fox worked out practically as much as Schwarzenegger, or at least he did in the opinions of his teammates. Everyone tried to stay in shape, but none were as fanatical as Fox was. Not that Wolf was complaining. "Hey Wolf." Fox smiled when he came in, taking a drink out of his water bottle. "Everything work out?"

"Fara told on me?" Wolf faked a pout, checking his email then flopping in a chair."

"Yes, but we both approve. You're quite the knight in shining armor when you want to be."

"I try." He rolled his eyes, trying to keep his eyes from wandering, but finding it nearly impossible. Fox, shining with sweat and having that tired-but-happy smile, was a truly beautiful thing to admire. Catching himself thinking that, Wolf sighed and rubbed his eyes wearily. "So, Falco's back?"

"Indeed. And gone again, probably to stop Leon from trying on all his leather coats or something." Fox took another drink. "He's still acting a bit strange though. I wish he'd tell me what was going on. We're best friends, or so I thought, and I'm not being told something important to him." Seeing Wolf's manner change, he blinked, lowering the bottle. "Did he tell you?"

"No, but Leon knows. Leon told me." He sighed and stared at the ceiling. "That said, I really probably shouldn't say anything. I mean, it's not my life or my choices. Leon only told me because he needed someone to lean on."

Fox rolled that over in his mind, and begrudgingly agreed with Wolf's logic. He wanted to know, but he wasn't willing to pry that deep. Falco had never said much about himself, letting out only a bit here and there, so he was kind of used to it anyways. "… Can I ask you something?"

"What?"

"Why do you stay here?"

Wolf brought his gaze back to Fox's, and they stared at each other for a few moments. Wolf swallowed, uneasy, then finally said, "Are you asking me to leave?"

"No, no. Not at all." Fox broke the gaze, looking away and playing with the towel that hung around his shoulder. "I just can't figure it out. I don't mean to hurt you, Wolf. But it doesn't seem like you're very happy. Why are you staying somewhere that makes you so depressed?"

"Everyone needs some place to be." Wolf shrugged, looking at the floor. "This is a place I'm happy, Fox, but I admit it's kind of hard to happy around you right now. You're the very thing I can't be and can't have."

He looked across at Wolf, and sighed. "I'm sorry."

"It isn't your fault. Don't feel bad." He shrugged. "I can't help who I am."

"That's a good thing. Stay who you are." Fox smiled when Wolf gave him a weird look. "The way I see it, they call me a hero, and every hero needs an antihero, and you've been a great one so far. I'm not sure why everyone thinks I can do this by myself." He offered his hand, and Wolf took it. "I can't."

Wolf smiled a bit, knowing he had just been offered a real home, and more then glad to accept that.

"Leon?" Falco asked, opening the door and tossing his bag on the floor, looking around. "Holy crap, you guys cleaned."

"Cleaned, organized, shopped, the works." Leon said, coming down the hallway, only in a pair of jeans. "Sorry, I just drug myself out of your tub five minutes ago."

"That's ok." Falco looked at him for a long moment, skin a mellow color but brightening as he watched, tattoos bold and beautiful, and suddenly found himself across the room, nearly crushing Leon in a hug. Leon made a small squeak noise in surprise, dangling in his arms helplessly, feet off the ground. "You know what? I missed you."

"Um. Thanks." Leon squirmed until he could return the hold, blinking when he noticed the pattern dying. "Hey, I like it."

"Temporary. Katt drug me to a dance club."

"Have fun?"

"No, not really, felt like a sex toy." He gave Leon one last squeeze, drawing another squeak, and set him down. "I see you bought the bunk beds." He said, leaning into the bedroom. "You can have top."

"Cool, that's where I've been sleeping anyways." He watched Falco walk in and investigate, smiling at the surprised cry when he found the black, boxy item sitting next to his bed. "Vic said you lost your amplifier, so we looked around and found that. We didn't have a clue about brand, but…"

"So you bought a cool sounding name right? Red Voodoo?" Falco sat on the bed and stared at the amplifier, blinking.

Leon walked over and sat next to him. "Should we not have?"

"Do so from now on." Falco crushed him again. "Red Voodoo amps rock."

"Cool…" Leon nestled in with a sigh, eyes fluttering closed, then remembering the events of the night before. "Oh. Joey came by."

"Really? What'd he have to say?"

"He wanted to know if you were going to take the job. I told him you probably were. We talked a while." He paused, and sighed, leaning his forehead against Falco's collarbone. "He's really sweet."

"Yeah, he is." There was a long silence, during which Leon practically crawled into Falco's lap, happy for the attention. "My, miss me that much?"

"Yeah." Leon's arms fastened around Falco's ribs, a light purring noise sighing from his throat. "You going to take the modeling job?"

"Yeah, I think I am." He smiled sourly. "Unless you really have a problem with people possibly drooling over me…"

"As long as they know I don't share."

"Yeah, yeah. Love you too, you possessive jerk."

Leon jerked in surprise, looking up at Falco, who just looked back with something like resignation. "I… wha…?"

"Is it that hard to process? Yeah, I'm queer. It's not like I can ever change that." He leaned back on the palms of his hands and shrugged, looking at the ceiling. "I know how much I used to love Joey, but that's for the past. He's probably figured out already that I care for someone else. I think it's strange, really, that fate decided I'd love who I hated, but hey…"

"Shut up!" Leon pushed him down and sat on his stomach, staring down into the avian's eyes. "Do you really love me?"

"I said it once. I'm not out yet, so take what you can get." Falco scowled, then gasped for air when Leon bearhugged him, the smaller reptilian curled up on top of him. "I mean, you love me right?"

"Is it that obvious?" His voice came out sheepish, muffled by Falco's shirt.

"You do everything but swoon, babe." He laughed, watching Leon turn a pale greenish-pink color. "I don't mind. But while we're on this subject, I uh… want to keep my virginity a while, ok?"

"I'm ok with that." Leon squeaked when Falco rolled, trapping the smaller figure under him. "My god, what did Katt do to you?"

"She's dating a girl."

"What?!"

He laughed again, softer this time. "Let's just say I had the shocking realization that maybe, just maybe, it's ok to be like this. That maybe it's not my fault, that maybe it doesn't change who I am."

"Good for you. Write a book or something."

"Sarcasm won't get you a kiss."

"Then I shall never be sarcastic again."

"Psh, I doubt that." He rolled his eyes, cutting Leon off before he could say anything else, then nothing was said for a while.