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A Fleet of Ships, Family Fluff, and One-Shots off Tumblr

Chapter Text

When Dedede entered with a bowl of hot soup, Meta Knight was buried beneath a pile of blankets. “Do I need to kiss ya awake, princess?” Dedede asked.

 

Meta Knight pulled the blankets down. The knight looked awful. His blush-marks were bright red, clearly flushed with fever, and his silver eyes were glassy. The king wolf-whistled. “Lookin’ good, Meta Knight.”

 

Meta Knight didn’t say a word, and that worried Dedede more than anything else. “Nova’s grace,” the Pengu said, plopping onto Meta Knight’s bed. “You’re so sick you forgot how to be an ass!”

 

Swearing usually got a rise out of Meta Knight. Instead of delivering a lecture, the knight seemed to wilt back against his blankets. Alarming. “Alright. What’s wrong with ya?” Dedede asked bluntly. “I ain’t done nothin’ wrong, so there ain’t no reason for you to be givin’ me the silent treatment!”

 

“Do you regret taking me back?”

 

“Of course–” 

 

Meta Knight’s eyes widened with alarm. 

 

“–I don’t fucking regret it! I never will!” Dedede exclaimed, sloshing soup when he gestured to show just how much he would never fucking regret it. “I kinda want you, in case you ain’t figured that out. Why would you think somethin’ like that?”

 

“Because I failed,” Meta Knight said, his gaze suddenly fascinated with his own paws.

 

“So ya got stuck in a mirror. Coulda happened to anyone. You made it back, an’ Dreamland is fine. You–”

 

“And now I’m sick, and you’re having to take care of me,” Meta Knight said. “I’ve been nothing but a burden since I returned to you.”

 

“A burden, huh? That’s real funny, Meta. D’you know why? Cause since you came back, I ain’t ever been so happy. I missed you. I thought ‘bout you all the time, an’ now you’re here. An’ guess what? I hate that you’re sick, but I like takin’ care of you.”

 

“I don’t deserve your compassion, Sire.”

 

Dedede rolled his eyes. “Look; I ain’t sayin’ I agree with that whole Halberd thing, but I messed up, too. I shouldna done some o’ the stuff I did, an’ you were right to call me out on it. I shoulda listened more, so let me make this up to you. Let me give you soup an’ do all the mother-hen stuff that you used to do for me when we were kids,” Dedede said, stroking his right paw down the side of Meta Knight’s face, lingering over the blush-mark.

 

Meta Knight hummed and covered Dedede’s paw with his own. “While I’m flattered, Sire, I must inform you that gentlemen do not swear.”

 

Dedede grinned. “There you are. Now, I brought ya some soup. Let’s try an’ get you back on your feet, eh?”

Chapter Text

Meta Knight was very good with deciphering emotions, especially of those closest to him. He cataloged them all in his head, numbered them, and spattered them with meanings and phrases. So when Dedede approached him with a grin, Meta Knight immediately identified it as Smile #14. This smile was, in Meta Knight’s mind, described as the following:

 

Quite charming, in the way that it makes my liege’s eyes sparkle. Disarming. Lights up the room. Sincere. Rare. Absolutely terrifying. Dangerous. Harbinger of my doom.

 

That is a horrible idea,” Meta Knight said.

 

Dedede traded his smile for a forlorn pout, which likely would’ve won over anyone who wasn’t Meta Knight. Meta Knight would’ve said that made sense; it wasn’t his fault that his heart was–literally–something like a black hole. Or a pocket dimension. Possibly both. “I ain’t even told ya the idea yet!” Dedede protested, crossing his arms.

 

“You don’t need to tell me.”

 

Mety Knight,” Dedede replied, in what the Pengu probably thought was a seductive tone. Unfortunately, the king’s voice wasn’t nearly as elegant as Meta Knight’s own, so it came out sounding more like Dedede had something stuck in his throat.

 

No. I’m not embarking on whatever absurd errand you have planned for me. It’s far beneath my station. Besides, I am busy with reorganizing Dreamland’s defenses after–”

 

“But this is a matter of national security, and I reckon you’re the only person I could possibly entrust with such a task,” Dedede replied, gesturing grandly.

 

Dedede’s smile hadn’t indicated ‘national security.’ It indicated that the king was bored, and Meta Knight was about to be the entertainment. He’d end up fetching Dedede some absurd item from the furthermost corner of Pop Star or find himself forced to watch Dedede alphabetize paint swatches. Something banal and irritating. “Yes?” Meta Knight ventured.

 

“Well, I jus’ love you so much, and I know you love me…” Dedede’s glare silenced Meta Knight’s bark of laughter. “…An’ I think you’ll take a likin’ to this one, Mety Knight.”

 

“What do you want?”

 

“I wanna upgrade my hammer.”

 

That was an odd request. Meta Knight was neither a hammer lord nor a smith. He’d never even wielded the Hammer copy power. “Upgrade it…? Sire, surely, I’m unqualified–”

 

I wan’ you to make it shoot fire,” Dedede said, his eyes shining.

 

The smile returned with a vengeance, and Dedede grasped Meta Knight’s paws. “Kinda sounds like a challenge, don’t it?” Dedede asked. “You like challenges.”

 

Harbinger of his doom, indeed. Meta Knight hadn’t managed to escape his inevitable fate, and Dedede had pitched the idea and worded it as a challenge, knowing Meta Knight wouldn’t back down. “I hate you so much,” Meta Knight said.

 

Dedede only smiled.

Chapter Text

The several centuries apart hadn’t given Ribbon much height. Actually, she looked remarkably similar to how she had when she and Kirby had last spoken. The only noticeable difference was that Ribbon’s dresses had grown fuller and were covered with more lace than Kirby had ever seen on any one person. Not that Kirby had seen much lace in his days. 

 

Kirby hadn’t changed much either, aside from growing the signature feathery wings of his kind. They hadn’t grown to their full size yet, however, and instead perched adorably on his back in two white tufts of feathers. His personality was much the same, and he and Ribbon had fallen back into their friendship easily when she arrived with the envoy from Ripple Star.

 

They lay in the grass, gazing at the clouds. “It was good to see you again,” Kirby said. “I’ll miss you.”

 

Ribbon furrowed her brow. “I don’t plan on going back to Ripple Star. I’m staying here.”

 

Kirby’s first thought was no, you can’t do that. His second thought was that’s absurd; Ribbon can do whatever she wants. “Really?” Kirby asked. “Why?”

 

He thought he knew, but he didn’t want to risk being wrong, of having misunderstood something. “For you, Kirby,” she replied, laughing. “Didn’t you guess that?”

 

“I just wanted to be sure,” he replied. “You don’t think you’ll regret it later?”

 

“I’ve made my choice,” she said, placing her hand on Kirby’s cheek, “And I–I don’t fucking regret it. I never will.”

 

Kirby laughed. “Don’t let Meta Knight hear you say fucking, though. He’ll give you a lecture about how ladies and gentlemen shouldn’t swear.”

 

Ribbon paused. “He means a lot to you, doesn’t he? Do you think he’ll like me? We haven’t talked much. And your other friends…”

 

Kirby smiled. “Oh, Ribbon. They’re all going to love you.”

Chapter Text

“Kirby, please,” Ribbon said. “You are a goody-two-shoes.”

 

“I am not!” Kirby protested. “I can be…bad. In the cool sense.”

 

Ribbon smirked. “Kirby, you can’t even bring yourself to swear.”

 

“I can, too.”

 

“Prove it.” 

 

“Um. Please, sh-shut the–the–hell up,” Kirby said. He almost expected Meta Knight to dart out from nowhere and launch into a lecture.

 

“Kirby, you said please,” Ribbon replied, laughing. 

 

Kirby’s face flushed. “Well, it’s not like I have practice. Meta Knight doesn’t like swearing.”

 

“Right, but at most, you’d get a lecture, right? Has he ever even punished you for anything?” Ribbon asked.

 

“Not really,” Kirby replied. “I mean, he’s not really my dad. More like my friend.”

 

“Damn Meta Knight, keeping you away from your teenage rebellion,” Ribbon teased.

 

“I’m beginning to think you’re a bad influence, Ribbon. Where did you pick up words like that anyway?’

 

“Me? A bad influence?” Ribbon asked in mock-offense. “Nonsense. But you know…it’s okay, Kirby. Being a goody-two-shoes.”

 

“You think?”

 

“Of course,” Ribbon replied, kissing Kirby lightly on the forehead. “After all, that’s why I like you.”

 

Chapter Text

“Ah, yes, I believe your lord’s parting words were stop being so fucking pretentious,” Sectonia said, her tone somewhere between amusement and irritation. 

 

The queen of Floralia tilted her head, her fangs catching the moonlight as she smiled. Meta Knight said nothing and averted his gaze towards the queen’s private gardens, where she’d insisted upon meeting. The queen’s palace and gardens were remarkably beautiful, as was she–allegedly. Meta Knight’s reference for what her kind considered beautiful was woefully limited. 

 

Still, there was a great power about her, something beyond her royal power. She had a presence like the moon, beautiful and luminous, drawing attention. It reminded Meta Knight oddly of Galaxia, though he couldn’t puzzle out why the two were similar. “How are things between the two of you?” Sectonia asked. “We heard you’d attempted an overthrow, yet here you are, once again serving your…wayward liege.”

 

“We’ve come to an understanding,” Meta Knight replied.

 

“You need each other; you mean,” Sectonia said. “I think we all have someone we need in our lives, even if we may not wish to admit it.”

 

“Is that why you keep looking at your butler?” Meta Knight asked.

 

Sectonia laughed, filling the air with the sound of chimes. “Am I so transparent, Sir Knight?” the queen asked, lighting gently on a bench. “I thought I was being clever about it.”

 

“Your court wouldn’t accept it, would they?”

 

Sectonia’s smile grew sad. “It’s true that my people adore me, but my court is another matter. I’ve many suitors vying for my hand, as I’m sure you’ve likely gathered.”

 

“And it’s difficult,” Meta Knight said, “But you know, of course, that you’ll be a better queen if you have someone you love supporting you, as opposed to someone you’ve no attachment to. You’ll have many people working against you, so your consort should be someone you trust implicitly.”

 

“How romantic,” Sectonia said. “That’s a good way of putting it, but of course, enacting it is much more difficult.”

 

Meta Knight nodded in agreement. The queen fell silent for a long moment, before clapping her hands together. “Well, I do insist you enjoy our hospitality for the night, before setting out on your quest. I certainly grant you permission to travel through my kingdom; I’m sure that you have good judgment. If you do need any assistance with this…magic mirror, please, don’t hesitate to call upon my people for aid.”

 

“Of course,” Meta Knight said.

 

Unfortunately, when he needed help, he wouldn’t be in any position to request it. And when Taranza stumbled upon the Dimensional Mirror, his doomed queen wouldn’t recall a quest from so long ago.

 

Chapter Text

“Why does Meta Knight want me to have the Light power-up to see him?” Kirby asked, following Sailor Dee.

 

“Probably so he doesn’t have to hold the flashlight in his mouth,” Sailor Dee said, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. As if Meta Knight spent all his time on the Halberd walking around with a flashlight in his mouth.

 

The waddle dee passed Kirby a pair of goggles, which he happily perched on top of his head. They headed down to the Halberd’s lower decks and entered the engine room. It was decently lit, to Kirby’s surprise. “I’ve brought Kirby, Sir,” Sailor Dee said.

 

A flashlight beam bounced across the floor, so Kirby headed towards it. He peered underneath a giant metal engine and found Meta Knight wedged beneath the engine and the wall. No, it certainly wasn’t very light there. Meta Knight lay on his back, the dimensional cape spread beneath him in a pile of silky purple fabric. His armor was absent, replaced with goggles and a flashlight in his mouth, as Sailor Dee had said. At the sight of Kirby, Meta Knight dropped the flashlight into his cape, where it vanished in a swirl of stars and darkness. “If you would be so kind…?”

 

The area was suddenly illuminated, lit by Light’s strange power. “Where’s your armor?” Kirby asked.

 

“In the cape. Metal is a very good conductor.”

 

As if to prove his point, two wires emitted a shower of sparks. Meta Knight didn’t even flinch. “So what did you need, Kirby?”

 

Kirby frowned and picked at his goggles, trying to find the way to word it. To word the strange uneasiness in his stomach, to word how he kept thinking about his friend encased in armor and ready to kill anyone in his path. There was no reason for it. Meta Knight was clearly fine, bare-faced even. But his eyes hadn’t been that uncanny gold without his mask before. “I didn’t thank you for catching me when I was unconscious,” Kirby said. “You probably saved my life. Or at least some of the landscape.”

 

Kirby wasn’t entirely sure whether falling from Pop Star’s upper atmosphere would actually kill him, but it wasn’t something he was eager to test.

 

Meta Knight smiled wryly. “Ah, that. Well, I do need you around. You keep me on my toes, so to speak.”

 

“I thought that was Dedede’s job.”

 

“It’s a two-man job,” Meta Knight replied, shifting over and readjusting his cape. “Here. Join me. Maybe we can get the Halberd ship-shape again. I hear you’re quite the technician these days.”

 

Kirby settled beside the knight, a little too closely if Meta Knight’s puzzled glance was an indication. “I’m just…really glad you’re back,” Kirby said, “To yourself. You know.”

 

“So that’s what it is. You were…concerned about me? What a kind heart you have, to worry about your friends after you, yourself, have been through so much.”

 

“I keep thinking about it, and I don’t think–I don’t think it would’ve bothered me before. I mean, it would’ve, but…not the same way,” Kirby said, fidgeting. “I’m sorry. I know I should move on like you and not waste your time–”

 

“Kirby, you can’t help the way you feel, so don’t ever be ashamed of that. And if it seems like I’ve moved on, it’s because I handle my emotions differently from you. It doesn’t mean my way is better, and you’re certainly not wasting my time. I still have a few hundred-thousand years ahead of me; I can spare a few minutes.”

 

Kirby giggled. “You’re going to be old someday, Meta.”

 

Meta Knight sighed. “Young puffballs these days have no respect for their elders.”

 

Kirby patted Meta Knight’s head as a consoling gesture and was met with a dramatic huff. “So,” Kirby said. “Explain to me what we’re doing.””

Chapter Text

Prince Fluff’s shoulders drooped. His body ached and felt limp, but he forced himself to keep going. Patch Land needed him. His people needed him. His parents–wherever they were they had to be alright surely Yin-Yarn hadn’t hurt him, had he? What would he do, no, they had to be fine

 

“Mr. Important Prince-Guy!”

 

Fluff started at the sound of Kirby’s voice; the pink puff, who trudged wearily behind, had clearly been trying to get Fluff’s attention for a long time. “Sorry about that, Kirby. What did you need?”

 

“Rest–”

 

“I’m fine,” Fluff said briskly. They’d had this conversation already.

 

“It’s not all about you,” Kirby retorted. “I’m exhausted, and I know you are, too. And guess what? You’re no good to anyone if you run yourself ragged and fall over exhausted right at Yin-Yarn’s feet.”

 

Did the sorcerer have feet? Fluff furrowed his brow. “There’s a lot at stake, Kirby,” he said. 

 

“I know, but you need to rest. As do I. It’s going to be okay,” Kirby said. “Look how far we’ve gotten already.”

 

Fluff sighed. Kirby had a point. An excellent point. But Fluff’s heart ached. Wasn’t every second wasted another second that his beloved people suffered from Yin-Yarn’s monsters? Wasn’t that another second that the rightful king and queen of Patch Land, his noble parents, were–were what? Lost? Under Yin-Yarn’s power? Fluff cringed when he thought of possibly facing his parents

 

“Fluff,” Kirby said gently. “Everyone is going to be okay, but they need you to be strong enough to fight for them. You can’t be, if you keep on like this.”

 

Fluff sighed. “I…I’m sorry, Kirby. You were gracious enough to join me in my quest to save Patch Land, and I’ve treated you most disgracefully. Yes, we’ll rest. You’re right.”

 

Kirby smiled and flopped back on Patch Land’s grass. “You don’t need to apologize,” Kirby said. “Come on! Let’s look at the clouds for a bit! Then, we’ll be good and refreshed to go!”

 

Hesitantly, Fluff joined Kirby on the grass. Scarcely five minutes had passed, and Fluff had grown silent. Kirby looked to the side and found the prince fast asleep. “Sweet dreams,” Kirby whispered. “Don’t worry. We’ll save everyone.”

Chapter Text

Kirby had expected Prince Fluff to arrive at his house; after all, they’d planned to have a meet-up for weeks. However, he hadn’t expected his prince charming to arrive in such a disheveled state. Fluff’s signature crown was knocked askew, defying gravity simply by remaining on the prince’s head. The prince gasped for breath, and the few brave flowers in Fluff’s paw looked like they’d been subjected to a terrible fate. 

 

“Thank you,” Kirby said, taking the offered bouquet. Was it possible for those flowers to be put out of their misery? 

 

“You’re welcome. So I had a truly amazing evening planned for you,” Fluff said. “It hasn’t exactly gone according to plan, however.”

 

Kirby gestured for the prince to enter. “So, ah, what happened?” Kirby inquired, throwing the flowers into a cup of water that he’d prepared, on the off-chance that Fluff followed King Dedede’s model of courtship.

 

At least, Kirby assumed that King Dedede’s weekly deliveries of flowers to the Halberd were a sign of courtship. It was just as likely to be an elaborate prank between King Dedede and his favorite knight. Just like the Lollipop Incident. Or maybe when he redid Dreamland’s yearly budget, Meta Knight had simply decided that he really wanted flowers. The Halberd was rather bland colorwise.

 

“Oh. I had a run-in with some bees,” Fluff said. “Huge ones. It seems those flowers were, ah, someone else’s.”

 

Kirby stifled a laugh. “I’m sure you put them in their place, right, Mr. Important Prince?”

 

“With ease,” Fluff assured him. “Unfortunately, the flowers weren’t quite so lucky.”

 

“Alas,” Kirby said, echoing a word he’d picked up from Meta Knight. Dedede had laughed when Meta Knight said it, though Kirby wasn’t sure why.

 

Still, Fluff smiled, so Kirby assumed he’d done something right. “So what else went wrong?” Kirby asked.

 

“Well, there’s rain on the way, so I’m afraid I’ll have to abandon my star-gazing plans,” Fluff said. “I’m good with constellations; you know. It would’ve been very romantic.”

 

Kirby smiled. “It’s alright. Stars are flowers are overrated, anyway.”

Chapter Text

Snow Fields was at the very bottom of Prince Fluff’s ‘Places I Enjoy’ list. The cold made him stiff and hurt his eyes. The snow was wet and made the prince feel gross, and whenever royal duties sent him to Patch Land’s Snowy Land, Fluff did everything he could to ensure that such visits were very brief and polite. Normally, Fluff had an entourage of servants to at least ease the journey through the frozen country, but now, thanks to Yin-Yarn, he had only a single companion to transverse such a treacherous and loathed place: Kirby.

 

Kirby took the knowledge that they were heading to a frozen wasteland surprisingly well. The moment that Prince Fluff said, ‘Snowy Fields,’ Kirby’s face lit up like St. Knight’s Day had come two months early. “Snowy Fields,” he said. “You mean there’s snow there?”

 

“Obviously,” Fluff said, his tone more bewildered than condescending. “Why else would it be called that?”

 

Kirby shrugged. “Back home, we have a place called Raisin Ruins and another called Onion Ocean. No onions or raisins.”

 

“Oh.”

 

Dreamlanders certainly had odd naming conventions. “There is, indeed, snow,” Fluff assured his companion, as they entered the frigid province.

 

Soon enough, white, powdery snow began to fall. Kirby squeaked in happiness and dashed forward. “Careful!” Fluff called. “There’s ice everywhere!”

 

Kirby didn’t seem to care, however. When the puffball hit a patch of ice, Kirby leapt into the air and spun, landing easily on one foot. He skated backwards and grinned at Fluff. “Don’t you love it?” Kirby asked, waving his paws and trying to catch snowflakes.

 

Fluff never had, but Kirby’s joy was so pure and infectious, that Fluff couldn’t help but smile back at his friend. “Well, I’ve never been especially fond of it, no,” Fluff said, “But this is quite nice.”

 

“Can you skate?” Kirby asked, effortlessly gliding on the ice. “I bet I skate better than you do, Mr. Important Prince Guy.”

 

Fluff huffed in mock-offense. “I very much doubt that, peasant,” Fluff said, taking a step forward. “I, Prince Fluff, have spent my entire life training to be graceful and elegant. I have centuries of experience in dancing; a little ice shall not deter me.”

 

Kirby laughed, his eyes sparkling like sunlight on ice. “Prove it, princeling.”

 

Fluff launched himself onto the ice, spinning as elegantly as Kirby had. Perhaps, the prince reflected, the snow and ice weren’t so bad after all.

Chapter Text

The little pink monster, the bane of Dedede’s existence, was in his castle. The king had a good half-dozen insults ready to launch, but when he stepped closer to Kirby, all thoughts of knocking the little demon into another dimension vanished.

 

If Kirby had arrived at Castle Dedede bruised up or with a cut or two, Dedede wouldn’t have worried. Being the local hero undoubtedly led to injuries, and because he’d had Meta Knight as his childhood companion, Dedede knew puffballs were very resilient when it came to physical injuries. Matters of the heart, however, were another matter. And Kirby’s eyes were suspiciously red and bright.

 

Dedede puffed his chest out. He might chase Kirby around with his hammer or jokingly call him pipsqueak, but how dare someone make Kirby cry? Not one for subtlety, Dedede scooped the puffball up and held him at eye-level. “Who did it?” Dedede asked. “Who hurt you?”

 

Kirby’s blush-marks brightened in embarrassment. “You’ll laugh at me,” he said.

 

“I ain’t gonna,” Dedede said, “Not over somethin’ that’s got ya this upset! Who do I need to send my dees after to make you happy? Or d’you wan’ me to get our favoritest pet knight to rough ‘em up?”

 

Kirby smiled sadly and giggled, which had been Dedede’s desired response. “No, you don’t need to do that,” Kirby said. “I just…I felt like I had to make sure everyone was all right.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Just…after Yin-Yarn…” Kirby trailed off.

 

It must’ve been horrible–Dedede reflected–for Kirby to have his friends controlled and turned against him. What had the puffball felt when Dedede, who’d been less Kirby’s enemy and more playful rival, turned against him? What had Kirby felt when Meta Knight, ruthless and cold, had offered him no blade and attacked without preamble? “You ain’t s’posed to worry ‘bout us, pipsqueak,” Dedede said. “You’re the young’un that needs lookin’ after. Me an’ Mety’ll be fine. Ain’t neither o’ us made o’ glass.”

 

Even though Dedede, himself, had rushed to the Halberd right after Dreamland was restored to her former glory and insisted that Meta Knight spend the night in the castle. Dedede pulled Kirby into a tight hug, burying the puffball’s face into his plumage. Kirby rubbed his cheek against Dedede’s chest. “I just needed to see you and Meta,” Kirby muttered. “I’ll leave, then.”

 

There was certainly nothing endearing about Kirby. About how he relaxed into Dedede’s hug. Or how he managed to love everybody so much. “Oh, I ain’t lettin’ you leave!” Dedede exclaimed, adopting a scandalized tone. “Did you really think I was gonna let you jus’ waltz in my castle an’ leave without a sleepover?”

 

“Really?”

 

“Yeah,” Dedede said. “I’m jus’ generous like that.”

 

“Sleepover!” Kirby exclaimed, his voice happy and bright.

 

No, there was certainly nothing endearing about the pink menace. Dedede patted Kirby’s head and allowed himself a small smile. 

Chapter Text

There were no knights in her kingdom; perhaps, that’s why Sir Meta Knight drew her attention. He looked like night embodied, from his star-white armor to his skin, a deep midnight blue like the sky before sunrise. His wings were a thing of beauty, so powerful and strong, faster and larger than any fairy’s wings could be.

 

She could see why King Dedede adored him so much. Meta Knight was a quiet and calm presence–made all the more apparent by his bombastic lord. They worked well together. Watching them fight together was like watching an intricate dance.

 

She contemplated admitting her affections. She could be strategic about it. She could request that Meta Knight spend some time in her court to further strengthen relations between Ripple Star and Pop Star. Meta Knight wouldn’t argue; he’d be courteous and pleasant company.

 

But…how could she ask him to abandon his first love, his knightly duty to Dreamland? The love he’d gained for his homeland, his king, and his crew? No, it was better to forget her admiration for pretty knights. She had no business in desiring King Dedede’s knight.

 

The Fairy Queen lay in her bed and sighed into the empty night. “I can’t fucking do this anymore.”

Chapter Text

“You get five minutes,” Meta Knight said.

 

“Whoa! Five whole minutes out of your hundred-thousand-year lifespan? What a heart of gold you got there,” Dedede said.

 

“Just like my lord.”

 

Dedede sighed. “But cain’t you jus’ not go on patrol this one week? I mean, your men can do it, cain’t they?”

 

“Sire, I can’t simply skip patrol. Yes, my men can do it, but I can’t simply miss because I want to…loaf around the castle.”

 

“It ain’t loafin’! It’s doin’ your royal duty to me!”

 

“My royal duty is to entertain you,” Meta Knight deadpanned.

 

“Yeah, kinda,” Dedede said, a fierce grin crossing his face. 

 

“You’re planning something,” Meta Knight said, taking a wary step back. “No, Sire.”

 

“Have fun on your patrol, Mety Knight,” Dedede said, giving Meta Knight a quick hug and nuzzling the knight’s head. “I’ll see ya when you get back.”

 

The king sauntered away, leaving Meta Knight to stare after him. “Wait! Why were you smiling at me? What are you doing?”

 

“You’ll find out when you get back!” Dedede called loftily over his shoulder. “I’ll try not to set nothin’ on fire!”

 

Meta Knight took a deep breath and counted to ten. This was obviously an attempt to guilt-trip (or frighten) him into staying. But…his men really wouldn’t mind if he wanted to loaf around the castle. Just once.

Chapter Text

Adeleine was the coolest person Ribbon knew. The artist was level-headed and cheerful, and she could paint anything into a work of beauty. Ribbon’s own attempts at art were unholy abominations, splotches of bright colors and lacking all knowledge of shading and lighting.

 

Adeleine was ever supportive of Ribbon’s feeble attempts at making beauty. She complimented Ribbon’s love of the color red–so many artists were afraid to use it because it was too bold–and her painstakingly  (and horribly composed) sketches of Kirby–circles were notoriously hard to draw, and there was no shame in that.

 

But Adeleine’s works were gorgeous. She painted everyone and everything with such beauty and accuracy that you’d swear the paintings would come to life. She even managed the translucent quality of Ribbon’s wings, which the fairy–in spite of her best efforts–still hadn’t managed.

 

“I can’t get it,” Ribbon said morosely.

 

Adeleine hummed and adjusted her beret. “Not yet, but you’re getting there. My first paintings weren’t the best either, and that’s alright, Ribbon! Who wants to make their best work when they’re a kid, anyway?”

 

Ribbon smiled, happy for Adeleine’s extra years of wisdom. “Really?” Ribbon asked.

 

“Yes. We’re a lot more similar than you think,” Adeleine said, smiling brightly. “So here’s what you do…”

Chapter Text

She looked like his queen. She sounded like his queen. She stared hard at him, her eyes intense and judging. Taranza swallowed past the lump in his throat. He knew what this was–what shewas–or had a good idea of it. She was like the clone of King Dedede, a product of Haltmann Works. “Who are you?” Taranza asked softly. “Don’t lie, please. I can’t take it.”

 

What else could he do? He would have to speak with King Dedede about it, plead with King Dedede about it, because she could be…

 

No, she couldn’t. She could be. No, he just…wanted her to be. 

 

“I am Queen Sectonia,” she said. “I know you, don’t I? You look familiar.”

 

“I was your…faithful servant,” he said. “You asked me to bring you the Hero of the Lower World, but I brought you the wrong person. We were defeated, and you…”

 

“By the knight,” Sectonia said. “He took my kingdom from me. I’ll destroy him the next time.”

 

She knew Meta Knight? They must’ve fought. Why hadn’t the knight said anything? “We can’t hurt him,” Taranza said. “King Dedede is our ally, and he cares very deeply for Sir Meta Knight.”

 

“King Dedede?” Sectonia asked, sounding uncertain. 

 

“Do you remember anything?” Taranza asked. “Do you remember the mirror?”

 

Sectonia frowned. “No,” she said. “I remember the computer and the knight. And coming here. And…I think I’m the queen of this realm, but everything else is unfocused. You look familiar, but I can’t recall your name.”

 

“Taranza,” he offered.

 

“That sounds so familiar.”

 

His heart leapt. Or broke. Taranza’s emotions skated upon some strange, thin line between the two. He wanted her to be Sectonia, before he found that accursed Mirror. Before he–how ever unwittingly–turned his beloved into a monster. It was all his fault. He wanted her back. He wanted to turn back time. He wanted to find the Mirror a second time and shatter it and grind it into dust and lock it away forever, so it couldn’t hurt anyone else.

 

He wanted her to be his Sectonia, his beloved queen, the woman he’d pledged himself to. But she couldn’t be that Sectonia. He couldn’t make her be that, and in the morning, he’d have to face King Dedede and plead for his mercy towards this woman.

 

King Dedede would probably be merciful. He was a good king, ready to offer any forgiveness if it was truly deserved. He was fair. “It is a very long story, my Queen,” Taranza said, with a sigh. “It all began when I found a mirror.”

Chapter Text

Elline couldn’t remember when she and Claycia began collaborating on art. It just seemed as something they’d always done, since the dawn of time. She watched as her friend skillfully pulled apart the clay and rolled it into a ball. Claycia’s current project wasn’t a good show of her incredible skills as a master sculptor; Kirby was a very simple subject to make. So were Kirby’s odd-looking friends for that matter.

 

“He’ll like these,” Elline said. “Kirby likes little trinkets; they’re all over his house.”

 

“It’s the least I can do after all the trouble I caused,” Claycia replied.

 

“Dark Crafter, you mean,” Elline replied.

 

Claycia nodded in agreement. “Yes,” she said, though she didn’t sound very convinced when she spoke. “I…I find that it does not lessen my guilt, though. My guilt for hurting them, or for hurting you, Elline.”

 

“I don’t blame you, Claycia. Dark Crafter could’ve possessed anyone; you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Elline said. “I’m just glad you’re back. I missed this.”

 

Elline toyed with a small clay figurine of Bandanna Dee; it was ready and waiting for its companions to be completed. Then, it would go to the kiln. “We’re still friends, though?” Claycia asked.

 

“You still need reassurance of that?”

 

“A little.”

 

Elline smiled. “Best friends forever,” she said, “And ever. And ever. Until the stars all burn out. And even after that.”

 

Claycia laughed. “That might be enough,” she said, setting aside the smiling clay Kirby. 

Chapter Text

The pub was a dark, dim place that existed at the crossroads of time and space. Its location was known only to a select few, those who were most attuned to all manners of villainy. The wizard’s eyes narrowed as he entered; his robes flickered and flapped with every step, as if they were alive. The man appeared as if the stars, themselves, had descended and given him shape. His face was sharp and deathly pale. He approached the bar, where his armored companion awaited him. “Ganondorf,” the wizard greeted.

 

Ganondorf nodded his head in acknowledgment. “Nightmare.”

 

They made an odd couple when they were beside one another. Nightmare was spindly like a candlestick, and Ganondorf was hard and thick muscle, a warrior first and a sorcerer second. Ganondorf waved to the bartender, who hurriedly brought two goblets of red wine. “You’re late,” Ganondorf said, nonchalantly downing his in a single gulp. 

 

“It’s Meta.”

 

Ganondorf smirked. “Fatherhood is turning out to be more difficult than you thought, is it?”

 

“I wouldn’t even keep him around if I wasn’t so invested in seeing what my magic is doing to him. I can’t get anything accomplished anymore. He’s such a clingy, selfish thing.”

 

“You brought that on yourself,” Ganondorf said, “When you decided you weren’t going to let the boy leave your little cottage. What did you think would happen?”

 

Nightmare scowled. “How helpful.”

 

Ganondorf laughed and downed Nightmare’s untouched goblet of wine. “You want advice? Fine. I know how to solve this problem. Find a simple couple–goat herders or something–and just drop him in their house. They’ll take good care of him, and you can watch from afar.”

 

Goat herders are supposed to raise a child, who can create tornadoes, is sprouting wings–which means flight eventually–and with an affinity for dimensional magic.”

 

“What about a tribe of child-like forest people?” Ganondorf inquired. “Surely, your world has–”

 

“Nothing living in the forest is going to be able to handle a child like that.”

 

“Hm. That’s difficult. What about, I don’t know, dropping him off in a mirror world–”

 

“People go mad when they’re trapped in the Dimensional Mirror!”

 

“A fortress of female warriors in the desert? They could teach Meta to fight and help him develop a respect for women.”

 

Nightmare pinched the bridge of his nose. “I am not dropping Meta off with goat-herders or fairies or–or royalty disguised as pirates–or whatever else you might have in mind.”

 

“Then, give him a hobby. Let him take up some skill. Teach him magic or to be a warrior. Just keep the boy away from any magical swords, and it’ll work out fine.”

 

That wouldn’t be a problem. Galaxia was notoriously fickle about her champions, and she’d never settle for someone like Meta. There was nothing courageous or noble about that soul. “He likes knights,” Nightmare said thoughtfully. “Nova knows why.”

 

“So you ought to encourage his interest,” Ganondorf said. “You’ll get further with him if you treat him kindly and support his endeavors.”

 

“Because you’re known for your benevolence and good will towards children,” Nightmare said. 

 

Ganondorf smiled wistfully. “I envied the Hylians for so long, and when I finally got what was mine…”

 

“It didn’t end well. I’m aware. It never has for you.”

 

“I’m just saying that you need to be careful with that child. Treat him poorly, and of course, he’ll rebel.”

 

Nightmare rolled his eyes. “Shut the hell up. What would you know about children, anyway?”

 

“More than you,” Ganondorf replied, “But we’ll see how it works out with the brat, won’t we?”

 

“I’m sure it’ll be in my favor,” Nightmare said.

 

“For your sake, I hope you’re right,” Ganondorf said. “As for me, I think I need a few more drinks. It’s my turn to vent, isn’t it? Let me tell you about Princess Zelda…”

Chapter Text

Bandanna Dee had never felt more like a burden on his friends. Their mission in Onion Ocean to retrieve part of the Lor Starcutter had resulted in Bandanna Dee being nearly eaten by a vicious eel. Meta Knight had been enraged, and Bandanna Dee probably would’ve witnessed an eel massacre of unprecedented proportions if King Dedede hadn’t insisted that it was better to keep moving. Once they’d arrived safely back on the Lor, Meta Knight had fluttered around, anxiously asking Magolor a half-dozen questions about first aid, while the irritated Halcandran assured him–along with a wide-eyed Kirby and a stone-faced Dedede–that Bandanna Dee was not, in fact, dying. He hadn’t been able to go on the next mission, though. 

 

So he sat on the Lor and waited. Finally, just as the first stars appeared, they returned. “Bandanna Dee!” Kirby cheered.

 

The puffball ran at the waddle dee, obviously going for a hug, before he seemed to remember Bandanna Dee’s injuries and bandages. “Hello, Kirby. What happened while I was away?”

 

Kirby bounced on the tips of his feet and grinned broadly. “We got the ship part! Now we’re off to White Wafers!” The puffball spun around. “Hurry, Meta! I got you a present, Dee!”

 

“A present?”

 

Kirby nodded enthusiastically. “Since you had to stay back and rest! Meta has it!”

 

Meta Knight produced a bag of sparkling orange hard-candy. Kirby grabbed the bag from Meta Knight’s paws and presented it to Bandanna Dee. “For you,” he said. 

 

“Thank you,” Bandanna Dee replied, ripping the bag open. His sweet tooth rivaled Kirby and Meta Knight’s.

 

“You’re welcome,” Kirby said.

 

“Have some,” Bandanna Dee said, his words muffled around a mouthful of delicious orange candy, “If you have time.”

 

Kirby’s face fell. “Well…”

 

“You have time. I think His Majesty and I will take this next one ourselves,” Meta Knight said, “If it’s all the same to you. We haven’t had an adventure together in a while. The two of you can join us in a bit, if you like.”

 

Bandanna Dee recognized it as a hastily constructed excuse, but Kirby didn’t. “Cool!” Kirby exclaimed, happily joining Bandanna Dee on the Lor’s floor. The puffball rubbed his cheek affectionately against Bandanna Dee’s side.

 

Bandanna Dee hummed happily. It was difficult being the least powerful of the group, but…he really had such lovely friends, who cared so much about him. What more could a waddle dee want?

Chapter Text

The Holo-Doomers would never be her first choice of companions. They were heartless creatures and unable to comprehend anything more than simple commands and bits of coding. But discussing her…her concerns to any of her collegues was impossible. There was one option, but hewould fight. He would argue, and Susie wasn’t in the mood to deal with arguments and wit from a half-broken knight. Meta Knight was impressive, certainly. But also infuriating.

 

The Dedede clone was another option, but he was too unpredictable. Rebellious, even. And imperfect. The stupid creature’s thoughts revolved only around Pinky, the knight, and waddle dees. It kept staring at every waddle dee the company brought in, as if it was searching for something. Or someone.

 

“It’s the anniversary today,” Susie said, petting the head of a Holo-Doomer; it felt staticky and strange, not quite real and very cold. “The anniversary…”

 

The anniversary of her accident with the mother computer. The anniversary of everything going wrong. The Holo-Doomer didn’t sense her sadness. It hovered obediently in place, recognizing her position as its master. “This will work, of course,” she said, trying to force the confidence into her voice. Trying to convince herself that she would get to teach the old man a lesson. 

 

It’d justify all the…all the questionable things she’d done. All the bad things. If it’d just work out in the end. Make mistakes and beg for forgiveness later; that was her philosophy.

Chapter Text

King Dedede hadn’t meant to make Meta Knight lose the Halberd. Sure, the knight’s crew was fine, and Dedede would provide all the money and resources to restore the battleship to her former glory. Assuming they survived. Tabuu loomed over them, looking strange, fierce, and ethereal. 

 

Kirby, who stood behind Dedede, bounced forward on the tips of his feet. “Hi!” the puffball shouted, waving a paw.

 

Tabuu remained impervious to Kirby’s charms. “Careful,” Meta Knight muttered. “We don’t know what he’s capable of, Kirby.”

 

“Kay,” Kirby said.

 

Dedede took a deep breath and strode forward. The Pengu grinned up at the celestial being, who’d yet to make a move but certainly would. “You know; you’re really quite lovely,” Dedede said. “Any chance you want to abandon this whole world domination thing?”

 

Meta Knight sounded like he was choking. 

 

“Be friends with Kirby!” Kirby exclaimed, apparently entirely on board with the suggestion. 

 

Dedede winked; Tabuu remained unaffected. “I’m perfect for someone that values quality and quantity,” Dedede continued.

 

“Dear Nova, please, stop,” Meta Knight said.

 

Tabuu attacked.

Chapter Text

Prince Fluff puffed out his chest and tilted his head back, effecting a visage of princely elegance. Kirby frowned and tried to create a similar pose. He didn’t quite manage the look as well as Prince Fluff, but to be fair, Fluff’s eyebrows and crown did a lot for him. “Like this?” Kirby asked, trying speak without tilting his head.

 

“Yes. Now you must give a rousing challenge,” Fluff said. “Ahem. Stop, villain! I, Prince Fluff, command it! Cease immediately, or I shall unleash upon you a fury never before witnessed by any living man!”

 

Kirby frowned. “So you can’t simply just…attack them?”

 

“No,” Fluff replied. “You must first issue a challenge and make yourself known. That is proper villain-battling etiquette.”

 

Weird. It did sound kind of like Meta Knight’s challenges, though. And Dedede’s that one time that he decided to copy Meta Knight. “If you say so, Mr. Important Prince Guy,” Kirby said. 

 

“I do say so, Peasant,” Fluff said teasingly.

 

Kirby puffed out his chest. “I, Kirby the Adorable, do challenge–”

 

Fluff snorted in a vain attempt to hide his laughter.

 

“What?”

 

“Kirby the Adorable. You should sound…imposing. Kirby the Heroic. Kirby the Magnificent. Kirby the…Great!”

 

Kirby tilted his head and smiled. “You think I’m heroic, magnificent, and great, huh?”

 

Fluff had a half-dozen snarky replies for that, but in the end, he discarded them all. “Of course you are, Kirby.”

Chapter Text

“But I’m hoping it will speak to me someday if I take good care of it!” Magolor said, enthusiastically waving to the ship’s console.

 

A boy and his ship, Galaxia murmured. How romantic.

 

Galaxia’s words might’ve been sarcastic, but she was, in truth, very interested in this sentient ship. You don’t know, Meta Knight thought. The Lor Starcutter might be a very charming conversationalist.

 

Oh? Would you like to talk to the charming, sentient ship? Galaxia teased.

 

Not as charming as you, of course.

 

Galaxia hummed. Do you want me to ask a few questions for you? Meta Knight offered.

 

No. Perhaps, later. But…you feel it, too. That Magolor’s offer of traveling to another dimension is a bit…over-generous.

 

Of course. Halcandra isn’t pleasant from what I’ve read. The temperatures are so hot that it’s nearly uninhabitable. I’m sure we’re a match for anything we encounter, but why would anyone want to go there?

 

Indeed. Galaxia paused, and something inside her sparked with mischief. You might welcome it after White Wafers, though, dear heart. You’re going to freeze half to death, although I do suppose King Dedede would wrap you up in his robe if you asked. 

 

I’ll stick with freezing. Thank you.

 

Galaxia laughed. It’d be adorable, though.

 

Until he refused to let me go, yes.

 

Oh, dear. I feel you’re right. I suppose I’ll just have to use my magic to keep you warm, she replied, as if she hadn’t planned on doing that all along. 

 

How romantic, Meta Knight replied. Thank you, noble Galaxia, for not letting me freeze to death.

 

As if Meta Knight hadn’t known all along that Galaxia would protect him.

Chapter Text

With the Fountain of Dreams, there are no nightmares in Dreamland, but sometimes, Meta Knight longs for them. He knows his father is monster, but he still misses him.

 

The creature in his dreams looked like his father. In a way, it was. It was the very visage of Nightmare, when he’d been much younger and much more human. Few knew that Nightmare was ever anything more than an intergalactic conqueror and a monster, a creature capable of sustaining itself entirely on fear, but Meta Knight was very old. And he’d been at the right place at the right time.

 

Nightmare always appeared in robes that seemed to hold the entire galaxy’s starlight. His skin wasn’t an unnervingly pale, and he didn’t hide his uncanny eyes beneath his glasses. Nightmare’s eyes had once been normal—a sad, sea-blue—but thousands of years of dark magic had changed them. To what, Meta Knight no longer knew.

 

Meta Knight, himself, always appeared younger, too. He caught glimpses of his reflection, and in hindsight, he marveled at how much he looked like Kirby. Had he looked like Kirby, though? Or was he just misremembering how he looked as a child? He never wore armor in those dreams, and his wings were always exposed.

 

Galaxia was a strange absence, and while she undoubtedly saw the dreams, she refrained from commenting. For that, Meta Knight was grateful. He went along with his scattered childhood memories and this strange, subversive Nightmare, who offered frequent praise and affection. It was a strange, sugar-coated reality, where Nightmare really was his father.

 

It was wrong of him to desire such a thing. Meta Knight wanted so badly to hate Nightmare. Surely, he had more reasons than most, didn’t he? He was unable to inhale because of the damage Nightmare’s experiments had caused. No, not damage.

 

Mutation. It was deeper than damage. Meta Knight was a twisted thing of starlight and dark magic, an adorable abomination of terrors.

Chapter Text

Throughout the kingdom of Dreamland, the Fountain of Dreams kept the nightmares at bay. The Fountain’s sacred waters carried with them sweet, lulling dreams and vanquished shadows and malevolence. Some Dreamlanders lived their entire lives blissfully unaware of how polluted a dream could be. For them, nightmares were but whisperings of evil that always happened somewhere else. Never in Dreamland. Even Meta Knight, born of stardust and corrupted by dark magic, who knew the worst that dreams had to offer slept peacefully in Dreamland.

 

But this wasn’t Dreamland.

 

Meta Knight gazed outside the windows of the Lor. The sky was awash with stars and a bright full moon. He’d thought seeing the stars might offer some comfort. His mask remained abandoned in his room; there was nothing worse than the dampness and hotness of tears confined to his face by his own armor. It was early in the morning, thankfully, so early that no one would be awake to see his bare face.

 

Crying over nightmares. How pathetic. He'd been forged of nightmares.

 

As Meta Knight continued gazing at the sky, he tried to distract himself by figuring out the Lor. Magolor's ship hummed just at the edge of awareness, sharing space with the warm crackling of Galaxia’s sacred fire. It was a comforting sound, edged with magic, and so unlike Meta Knight’s beloved Halberd with her engines and the sounds of her crew. The hum repeated in Meta Knight's head like a half-forgotten lullaby. He couldn't quite grasp whatever subconscious memory the sound was tangled with. Had Nightmare ever coaxed Meta Knight to sleep with lullabies? He might've. That would've been so long ago, back when the wizard still had a heart, however black it might've been.

 

Meta Knight heard the thud of Dedede’s boots against the Lor’s hull. The knight sighed, and although he didn’t turn around, he inclined his head slightly to acknowledge Dedede’s presence.

 

“Yo, Mety Knighty!”

 

Meta Knight drew a shuddering sigh. This wasn’t how he wanted to be found, without his armor, his eyes red, and his cheeks streaked with tears.

 

“There you are! You ain’t getting up to no mischief, is you?” Dedede asked.

 

From his experience, Meta Knight knew that—if he was up to any mischief—Dedede would happily join in.

 

“No, I just needed to think. Why aren’t you sleeping?”

 

“Why ain’t you sleeping? You didn’t just get up ‘cause you suddenly thought of how to achieve world peace.”

 

“We’re outside Dreamland’s borders.”

 

Dedede clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth. “I thought it might be something like that. Nightmares?”

 

“Go back to bed. Otherwise, you'll be ornery all day.”

 

Dedede heaved a dramatic sigh. “Silly knight, you done forgot again that you ain’t allowed to give me orders.”

 

Dedede’s hand landed on Meta Knight’s shoulder. “Don’t look at me,” Meta Knight said, even as Dedede cupped the side of his face.

 

The king’s gloves were soft and warm on Meta Knight’s cheek. “Why wouldn’t I wanna look at someone as beautiful as you?”

 

But Meta Knight didn’t feel very beautiful. His eyes burned, and his face felt swollen and damp. Dedede appeared in Meta Knight’s peripheral. “I got up, and you were gone. I know you got trouble with nightmares, so I looked for you,” Dedede said. "Poor thing."

 

Nova’s grace, Dedede knew him too well. That was expected, of course. They’d known one another for a long time.

 

“I wish you hadn’t,” Meta Knight replied.

 

“Hey, now,” Dedede murmured. “You don’t mean that.”

 

Meta Knight attempted a withering glare in Dedede’s direction, but even as he did, Meta Knight knew his tears probably ruined the effect.

 

“Which one was it this time?” Dedede asked.

 

“It doesn’t matter. They’re just bad dreams. It’s such a pointless thing to be upset about,” Meta Knight replied.

 

“It ain’t pointless if it’s made you sad,” Dedede said. “For Nova’s sake, there ain’t no shame in getting upset over some dreams. You got real horrors in your past, y’know?”

 

“So do you, and you don’t have nightmares.”

 

“No, ‘cause I handle my problems different from you is all. Don’t mean stuff don’t bother me. I mean, y'know how I was after the whole Dark Matter mess," Dedede said, shuddering. "I'm still kinda uneasy 'round shadows."

 

Dedede wrapped his arms around Meta Knight and coaxed him deeper into the embrace.

 

“If anyone sees us, you’re holding me against my will,” Meta Knight said.

 

Dedede boomed in laughter. “M’kay, Mety Knighty,” Dedede said, resting his chin on the top of Meta Knight’s head.

 

“I hate crying.”

 

“I know. I hate it when you cry, too, ‘cause it means someone hurt my Mety Knight.”

 

“Not your Meta Knight. And maybe I’m just too weak. I wasted Nova’s wish on becoming stronger. I didn’t realize at the time that it wasn’t my swordsmanship or fighting that needed work. It was my emotions making me weak.”

 

Dedede rubbed his cheek against Meta Knight’s hair. “Maybe my Meta Knight is too hard on himself,” Dedede murmured.

 

“Not your Meta Knight.”

 

“What about my bestest, sweetest knight? My doll-face? My strawberry shortcake?”

 

Strawberry shortcake?”

 

“Okay, so maybe I’m reaching a bit with that one. Y’gotta give me points for trying?”

 

Meta Knight smiled despite himself. “There’s no point in arguing the point with you, is there?”

 

“Nope!” Dedede declared cheerfully. “I’ll argue all night that you’re the bravest, strongest, bestest knight in the world if I gotta!”

 

Meta Knight sighed and roughly rubbed his eyes and cheeks. “I don’t know if that stubbornness is one of your best traits or your worst.”

 

“It’s the best if it makes you feel just a teensy bit better,” Dedede replied. “Is it working?”

 

Meta Knight smiled. “Just a little.” 

 

Chapter Text

The new apartment had three rooms because there were going to be three of them. It’d been fine with just the two of them—just Dedede, Heir of the Stars, and Meta Knight, his long-suffering personal assistant. Now, there were going to be three of them. Bandanna Dee was going to be there, and although Dedede knew he should be supportive, every time he thought of Bandanna Dee, Dedede’s stomach lurched.

 

Bandanna Dee wasn’t the problem; Bandanna Dee was kind and lovely. Perfect roommate and friend material. No, this problem was solely on Dedede.

 

Dedede had become accustomed to being Meta Knight’s only friend, and now, he had to share Meta Knight’s time and affection with Bandanna Dee. And Bandanna Dee needed friends. He deserved friends. No, Bandanna Dee wasn’t the problem; this was only on Dedede. Dedede was jealous, and even the realization that he shouldn’t be jealous, that it was bad to be jealous, couldn’t help smooth over the embarrassing feeling.

 

Bandanna Dee was a good man who deserved good friends, and no friend could possibly be worthier than Meta Knight—dear, witty, beautiful Meta Knight. There was no logical reason for Dedede to be jealous. None at all. But Dedede couldn’t help it. Even as Dedede thought about it, Meta Knight was wiping down the already clean counters of their new apartment. Dedede crossed his arms and watched the way Meta Knight’s shoulder blades moved and the way his ponytail swayed as he scrubbed. All so everything could be extra, super-clean for Bandanna Dee.

 

“We’re going out,” Dedede said.

 

“Out?” Meta Knight asked, clearly not paying attention.

 

Without warning, Dedede hugged Meta Knight from behind and pulled him off the ground. Meta Knight yelped and kicked at the kitchen counter. “Put me down!”

 

“Nope!”

 

Meta Knight could’ve easily called his magic and teleported away, but he usually refrained from using it. Instead, he crouched and tried to sweep Dedede’s foot from beneath him. Dedede laughed and adjusted his stance, using his superior height and weight to keep Meta Knight in place. “Jerk!” Meta Knight exclaimed, trying to pry Dedede’s arms from around his waist. “What’s wrong with you?”

 

“We gonna go out!”

 

“We need to get the apartment ready for Dee!”

 

“So we’ll stay up late tonight, so we can get done when he comes in Monday,” Dedede said. “Sides, y’know he’ll be happy with anything!”

 

“Bandanna Dee is accustomed to living a certain lifestyle—”

 

“I wanna take you to an aquarium,” Dedede said, brightening.

 

“Aquarium?”

 

“Yeah! Ever been?”

 

“No,” Meta Knight replied.

 

“Well, a new one opened downtown! We oughta go—just me and you."

 

"Why?" Meta Knight asked.

 

"Why not? It’ll be fun.”

 

Meta Knight ducked down, managing to slip from Dedede’s grasp. Before Dedede could recover, Meta Knight darted around the other side of the kitchen counter. “If we wait until Monday, Bandanna Dee can go with us,” Meta Knight said.

 

“So we’ll go Monday, too! I wanna take you today.”

 

“That doesn’t make any sense.”

 

Dedede lunged over the counter, but Meta Knight had already danced back and out of reach. “Makes perfect sense to me, little knight,” Dedede said.

 

“Don’t call me little.”

 

“Whatcha gonna do if I do?” Dedede asked. “Hm?”

 

Dedede edged around the counter, aware of Meta Knight making minute shifts in his stance.

 

“C’mon, sugar cookie. Schnookums. Dulcecito.”

 

Meta Knight looked pained, likely at the butchering of his mother tongue, and Dedede took advantage of the distraction to reach for Meta Knight’s arm. Before Dedede could grab him, though, Meta Knight had pulled himself onto the counter and slid across to the other side.

 

“Aquarium,” Dedede said. “With me. Please, Mety Knighty?”

 

“All right.”

 

“Whoo!” Dedede fist-pumped into the air.

 

“There’s a catch.”

 

Dedede gawked in disbelief.

 

“You have to scrub the floors when we get back, my Lord,” Meta Knight said, tacking on the title with a sort of sadistic glee. 

 


 

 

“Say the word,” Dedede said, as they waited in line outside the aquarium.

 

Really? Why can’t you say the word if you love it so much?” Meta Knight asked.

 

“Because I don’t say it as good as you! C’mon, Mety! My dearest, sweetest, most wonderfullest knight!”

 

Meta Knight sighed. “Pingüino.”

 

Dedede nearly lifted Meta Knight off the ground with the force of his hug. Although Meta Knight initially tensed, he relaxed quickly. “Really?” Meta Knight asked. “Nova’s grace, you’re clingy today.”

 

“That’s because I love my little caballerito.”

 

“That’s redundant.”

 

Dedede refused to release Meta Knight even when they finally reached the front of the line. With a scowl, Meta Knight pulled out his wallet, awkwardly maneuvering around his doting lord’s grasp. The aquarium employee’s eyes widened when she read the name on the card.

 

“Thank you!” Dedede declared in a sing-song voice.

 

Dedede let Meta Knight go and skipped into the aquarium with exaggerated enthusiasm. Meta Knight returned the card to his wallet and shook his head in half-hearted dismay.

 

Dedede had, of course, waited inside and ambushed Meta Knight right inside the door. “C’mon,” Dedede said, linking their arms. “We’re gonna see the fish and then the pingüinos!”

 

Although Meta Knight carefully hid his amusement, he let Dedede lead him along, weaving through the crowd. “So why the aquarium?” Meta Knight asked.

 

“Because you’re gonna like it,” Dedede said. “It’s gorgeous.”

 

They stopped before a massive tank. Vibrant, iridescent fish in a variety of blues, purples, and reds swayed through the deep, velvety turquoise water. Red, flowering corals and green, leafy seagrasses spread across the bottom of the tank like a cache of faceted jewels. Light flitted through the water and dappled patterns across everything. “Wow,” Meta Knight whispered, transfixed by the colors and movements.

 

“D’you like it?” Dedede asked, his water-blue and hopeful.

 

“I do,” Meta Knight replied. “It’s stunning.”

 

Dedede brightened. “I thought ya might ‘cause you grew up by the ocean an’ all.”

 

“We didn’t have fish like this in the Orange Ocean,” Meta Knight said. “Just the little, brown ones. Most of the time.”

 

“I thought o’ you ‘cause I know ya like bright colors,” Dedede said, “Cause of your hair an’ all.”

 

“You do realize I can have more than one friend, right?”

 

Meta Knight watched Dedede’s reflection in the glass of the tank. Dedede’s jaw dropped, and his efforts to recover were ineffectual at best.

 

“I really do like the fish, Dedede,” Meta Knight said. “It’s very restful watching them.”

 

“What’re you talking about?”

 

“You’ve become extra clingy ever since Bandanna Dee decided to come to university with us,” Meta Knight said. “Did you think I wouldn’t notice?”

 

“Well—”

 

That and you told Bandanna Dee you would give me his heart if he did anything to upset me,” Meta Knight said. “Honestly, Dedede.”

 

“He told you that.”

 

“Yes, he told me that,” Meta Knight said, “And we’ve been talking about you. Even when Bandanna Dee moves in, we’ll still be friends, and we’ll still get to do things together. You don’t need to be so passive-aggressive about it.”

 

“I know it’s silly,” Dedede said, “But I cain’t help but wonder if…”

 

“Quit worrying about it,” Meta Knight said. “We’ll have fun today, but know that—even after today—we’ll still be friends. Best friends. We’ll just have Bandanna Dee there, too. You don’t run out of friendship, Dedede. There isn’t a finite amount of love.”

 

“You got these moments where you seem so much older than you are sometimes,” Dedede said.

 

Meta Knight nodded in acknowledgment of the words. “Come on, Dedede. Let’s go and see your penguins.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Part of Meta Knight realizes this is silly. Saccharine, he’ll even call it. He has traveled across galaxies, and he knows that the stars are just balls of gases. Clusters of elements and reactions. But some small part of Meta Knight, the bit of him that is more Star Warrior and less demon, wants to believe that he can join his friends. That they will welcome him. That they can see him now and understand that he’s trying so, so hard.

 

He reassures himself with Galaxia. Surely, he cannot be so bad if noble, sacred, pure Galaxia deems him worthy. Sometimes, Meta Knight envies Galaxia. He has never been pure; he’s always been some strange abomination of stardust and dark magic. Light and darkness forced together. As far as he knows, anyway. Meta Knight never could figure out how he managed to be both a Star Warrior and a demonbeast. It had baffled every Star Warrior he’d ever met. Star Warriors could sense others like them, and they could sense demons. Only Meta Knight read like both.

 

But sometimes it helps. It helps to think of Jecra’s warmth and easy smile. It helps to think of the way Jecra was the first to really believe in Meta Knight, and even though their first ‘quest’ together was a complete disaster, it still helps to think that when Meta Knight thinks about it, Jecra does, too. Somewhere among the stars. Jecra would surely be a constellation. He was too noble for anything less. Something vast and brilliant. The stars move and shift, and sometimes Meta Knight deigns to think that Jecra’s stars might shift closer to him. Someday. In centuries or several millennia from now.

 

And Garlude would be there. Meta Knight still blames himself for her death, even though–he realizes now–Garlude knew she would die. Her death had been foretold before she’d ever met the sacred Galaxia, but she hadn’t told Meta Knight. Or Jecra. She’d known they would stop her. 

 

And he and Jecra had grieved for her and watched the stars, and Jecra had lowly whispered to Meta Knight all the star-stories about how it worked. How their kind was born of stars and returned to stars and was reborn again.

 

But I’m not of your kind,” Meta Knight had said.

 

And Jecra had leaned over and smudged his thumb over one of Meta Knight’s blush-marks. “So are you gonna become darkness, then, little demon?” Jecra asked.

 

Meta Knight hadn’t given much thought to it, and he’d shrugged when Jecra asked.

 

That wouldn’t be so bad,” Jecra said. “I’ll be a star, and you’ll be the darkness around me. And we’ll be together always. And if you aren’t reborn like I am, I’ll know you’re watching over me, and–at least–I’ll get to return to you.”

 

And sometimes, Meta Knight thinks about that. About Jecra and Garlude, about Galaxia’s light and his own darkness, about the Star Rod and Nightmare. And maybe it doesn’t matter if he’s some eldritch star-creature. If he is worth of Jecra’s love, of Garlude’s loyalty, of Galaxia’s fire, surely he is–at least–worthy of being the interstellar medium. If not the stars themselves, the space between them.

Chapter Text

Jecra’s first knightly quest was not going well. His mission to liberate one of Nightmare’s strongholds had resulted in him being chained up in a dark, moldy dungeon, and someone in a dark cloak carrying a whip had just walked in. Well. Wonderful.

 

“So…” Jecra said. “Do you…uh, enjoy your job? I’ll bet you get to spend time with lots of sweaty, shirtless men.”

 

Was it a good idea to make light of the whipping he was probably about to receive? Definitely not. But Jecra had always dealt with bad situations with bravado and humor. And he probably wouldn’t feel as inclined to make jokes after a few beatings. Hopefully, Garlude would find him before then. She must realize already that something was wrong.

 

Dark Cloak made no reply.

 

“So you aren’t attracted to shirtless, muscular men,” Jecra said. “That’s fine. I don’t judge.”

 

He tested the chains around his wrists. He could probably pull himself up enough to kick his assailant, although he wasn’t sure how much good that would actually do. 

 

The door burst open again, revealing a knight in shining, silver armor. Jecra let out a sigh of relief. Thank Nova, the GSA had thought quickly! “Cut it a little close, eh, Garlude?” Jecra asked jovially.

 

“What?” the knight asked.

 

Dark Cloak raised his whip, which seemed to draw the knight’s annoyance more than anything. Quick as lightning, the knight struck, severing the whip with his wondrous golden sword and–in the same fluid arc–smashing the pommel of his blade into Dark Cloak’s head. Dark Cloak fell to the ground, clearly unconscious.

 

“This isn’t the right room,” the knight said.

 

Pause.

 

“I realize it’s dark. It’s a dungeon. It's supposed to be dark!”

 

Jecra was then certain of three things. One, his rescuer was not a warrior queen, with blazing violet eyes; in fact, Jecra wasn’t sure his rescuer was even a woman. Two, his rescuer seemed to be having a conversation with someone besides Jecra, and there was no one else conscious in the room. And three, it was dark, but Jecra was also pretty sure that his rescuer was absolutely adorable. Like, Jecra would only see the high cheekbones and soft jaw beneath the knight’s mask, but his gold eyes were very lovely. And his long, blue hair was very pretty, especially for Jecra who came from a culture that absolutely adored long hair.

 

“Well, think you’re in the right room, gorgeous,” Jecra said.

 

The knight’s jaw dropped.

 

Oh, was he the easily flustered type? He looked like the easily flustered type. How adorable.

 

“Maybe you ought to free me?” Jecra asked. “I’ll gladly be your battle buddy. Sir Jecra, by the way. Resident Star Warrior.”

 

“Star Warrior?” the knight asked with apparent interest.

 

“Mmhm. Great swordsman, too,” Jecra added with a wink.

 

The innuendo seemed to go completely over the knight’s head, for when he stepped close, his eyes held confusion and an odd sort of wariness. “Did I just save you from being beaten?” the knight asked.

 

“That you did! This is the part where you free me and carry me away on a white stallion,” Jecra said.

 

“You. You are a Star Warrior?” the knight asked.

 

“Uh huh. And you are?”

 

“Meta Knight,” he replied. “I’ve been…told that I am also a Star Warrior. Or I once was, rather.”

 

Was?” Jecra asked.

 

Meta Knight swung his sword at the chains which fell cleanly apart before his blade. “That’s a conversation for another day,” Meta Knight said.

 

“Fair enough,” Jecra replied, as he rubbed his wrists, “New battle buddy!”

 

“You aren't serious enough to be a Star Warrior.”

 

“Nonsense!” Jecra declared. “You have to have a little fun. It’s even better if you have the fun with someone. We’re going to get into all sorts of trouble now!”

 

Meta Knight’s face glowed like an autumn sunset. Very easily flustered, indeed.

 

 

Chapter Text

Despite how selfish and cruel his nature, the Nightmare Wizard did legitimately love Meta Knight, who was the eldest of his creations. Well, perhaps, experiment would be a more accurate term. But whatever Meta Knight was, Nightmare did bear a bit of disturbingly human affection for the puffball. Nightmare liked Meta Knight’s spunk and tenacity. And of course, Meta Knight’s cunning and sharp wits, both traits that Nightmare himself possessed. And because they were so similar, Nightmare had no doubt that his dearest, wayward son would someday return to him. Meta Knight was young, and it made sense that he might need some time to find himself. Eventually, Meta Knight would come to his senses and accept his role as Nightmare’s second-in-command.

 

But Jecra was infuriating. Nightmare hated the way Jecra’s cheesy and immature jokes made Meta Knight’s eyes soften and his cheeks pinken. And the way Jecra’s casual flirtations made Meta Knight lower his defenses. And it was sickening how someone as gallant and strong as Meta Knight could be seduced by such a pathetic, childish thing. So Nightmare decided to the best course of action was to break them up. And Nightmare knew Meta Knight very well. 

 

So Nightmare waited for nightfall and twirled a long, slender finger across the threads of his loom. It wasn’t an actual loom, but a sort of metaphysical loom, and with it, Nightmare could weave the fabric of dreams. As Nightmare moved his finger, up and down, across the loom, shimmering and opalescent thread followed his movements. This was a good nightmare, one that would leave Meta Knight thrashing and whimpering in his bed.

 

Cruel, yes. But it was no less cruel than allowing Meta Knight, his dearest, most precious creation, pursue this fool. Nightmare knew that Meta Knight was a very brave child, but he’d known Meta Knight for centuries. Jecra hadn’t, and because he hadn’t, Nightmare was confident that the knight’s opinion could be easily swayed. Surely, Jecra wouldn’t still be so flirtatious after seeing Meta Knight so distraught over a nightmare. The knight didn’t understand nightmares like Nightmare and Meta Knight did.

 

The wizard’s lips curved into a smile that was equal parts malicious and fond. “I’m sorry, dearest. This is for your own good.”

 


 

Jecra woke slowly, unsure at first what had stirred him from his sleep. Something soft tickled his nose. Jecra rubbed the spot and furrowed his brow at the white, downy feather he found there. 

 

“I’m sorry,” Meta Knight said.

 

Jecra was suddenly wide awake. He’d never heard Meta Knight sound so disheartened before. When Jecra rolled over, Meta Knight sat upright, surrounded by slowly falling feathers. 

 

“Did you lose a fight with your pillow?” Jecra teased, as he edged closer.

 

Meta Knight averted his gaze. His normally bright gold eyes, now a dull gray, looked longingly towards his armor. The tip of Meta Knight’s tongue flicked out; he looked like a cat blepping. Jecra wasn’t sure the significance of the gesture, but Meta Knight’s distress was apparent.

 

“Hey, now,” Jecra said. “No need to be so distraught, blueberry. Did you have a bad dream?”

 

No more blepping. Meta Knight nodded curtly. “I know it’s pathetic. I’m sorry I woke you.”

 

“It’s not pathetic,” Jecra said. “Everyone has nightmares. Heck, I had a nightmare once. It was terrifying! I dreamed I was short.”

 

Meta Knight’s eyes brightened almost imperceptibly. 

 

Jecra grinned. Sometimes, he had a hard time telling when joking was inappropriate, which was unfortunate because Jecra’s instinctive reaction to trauma and uncomfortable situations was to make the other person laugh. But it was so easy with Meta Knight, especially without armor to hide his face.

 

“It was terrible! To get something on top of the fridge, I had to throw you at it!” Jecra exclaimed. “And you bounced and came back and hit me in the face!”

 

Meta Knight’s eyes flickered blue. “That’s not helping,” Meta Knight said.

 

Jecra sat beside Meta Knight and bumped his shoulder against him. “There’s nothing wrong with being upset,” Jecra said. “You’re still the bravest blueberry I know.”

 

Meta Knight scrunched up his face and hesitantly, awkwardly nestled against Jecra’s side. 

 

“I guess we’ll have to snuggle, though,” Jecra said, feigning a disheartened sigh. “You tore up your pillow, after all. Now we have to share, and I’ll bet that was your plan all along, wasn’t it?”

 

Meta Knight’s eyes shined. And in another realm, Nightmare internally screamed.

Chapter Text

The Nightmare Wizard was bored. Since his defeat, he’d been cast into a strange, pseudo-dreamworld, and there simply wasn’t much to do in a weightless, starry void. Thus, he settled for his favorite past-time: tormenting the honorable knight of Dreamland.

 

Now, Nightmare would’ve preferred to torment King Dedede, who shared most of the blame for thwarting the wizard’s plans. But King Dedede, like all of those light-blooded Dreamlanders, was protected by the Star Rod. The knight, however, was a creature of dark magic, which left him vulnerable to Nightmare’s magic.

 

With a shimmer of starlight, Meta Knight appeared. He scowled, his glowing eyes narrowing beneath his mask. With a smirk and a casual flick of his wrist, the Nightmare Wizard made the knight’s armor vanish.

 

Meta Knight’s scowl deepened even as he shifted, clearly uncomfortable with his bare face. 

 

“Dear, little knight. You’re a long way from your master, aren’t you?” Nightmare cooed. “Strange. I’d assumed he kept you on a tight leash.”

 

Whether Meta Knight bristled from the remarks about his appearance or the acknowledgment of his fealty was unclear. Nightmare knew both observations discomfited Meta Knight, but the wizard wasn’t clear on the particulars. Why someone like Meta Knight, Wielder of Galaxia, would take any pleasure in subservience was lost on Nightmare.

 

“How my liege treats me is hardly business of yours,” Meta Knight replied. “What do you want?”

 

“Ah, to the point. I like that about you,” the Nightmare Wizard purred. “See, sweet Meta Knight, you’re going to be my entertainment for a while. It’s so dull here.”

 

Meta Knight growled. He didn’t like endearments either, which was why Nightmare made sure to absolutely saturate everything he said with them.

 

“Simmer down, little bat. I’m not going to torture you or anything gruesome.”

 

Not in this dream anyway. Perhaps another.

 

“I just want to play a little game, and as you know from experience, you can’t escape me.”

 

Nightmare materialized an elaborate silver and rose gold chess set. 

 

“I’ll even allow you the first move,” Nightmare said.

 

Meta Knight tilted his head and frowned. “I have no idea how to play chess.”

 

“What?”

 

Meta Knight nodded. “I’m a master of Connect Four, though.”

 

The wizard almost laughed. He’d overestimated this boy. All along, Nightmare had thought Meta Knight might be a little more dignified than his lord, but evidently not. What a foolish, silly creature this little knight really was. Trying to put on airs of elegance and class when he was uncultured at best. “Connect Four?” Nightmare scoffed. “Any imbecile can play Connect Four! I’d expected something like that from your airhead liege but from you? You’ve disappointed me, dearest.”

 

Meta Knight reached into his dimensional cape and produced the offending game. “Perhaps you should just admit what you really fear–that I would completely destroy you in a game of Connect Four.”

 

“As if,” Nightmare said. “Don’t be absurd, little one.”

 

“The only ‘absurd’ thing is your insistence that you would prevail.”

 

Nightmare leaned forward. “You have a lot of confidence for being the lapdog of a self-proclaimed king. How about a wager?”

 

“Name it.”

 

“Your freedom. If I win, I get you to do with as I wish,” Nightmare said, mockingly trailing a finger down one of Meta Knight’s blush-marks.

 

The knight’s flinch was nearly imperceptible. “And if win, you have to send me pleasant dreams for the next millennium.”

 

Pleasant dreams? Nightmare balked at the thought, but he ultimately decided it didn’t matter. Meta Knight wouldn’t win. It couldn’t be that hard to win at such a childish, low-brow game.

 

Of course, that was until–hours later–Nightmare, trying desperately to keep his growing frustration at bay, insisted that the wager be settled by determining the best fifty-one out of one-hundred.

 

Why was this Nova-damned boy so good at Connect Four?

Chapter Text

Dedede Novatrix was a diplomat whose blunt demeanor gained him an equal number of friends and enemies, but he had a good heart. He was the sort of man who people always knew where they stood with. All in all, he was a decent fellow who liked the frequent travel—usually from Whispy’s Woods to Mekkai and with the occasional detour into Patch Land—required of a diplomat. Dedede’s one fatal flaw, however, was his finances. He’d come from money and had a nice penchant as being the ambassador to Patch Land, so there was never a worry of him bankrupting himself. However, his frivolous spending made taxes, expenditure reports, and business reimbursements a nightmare. Dedede really needed an accountant.

 

Dedede had a few interviews for an accountant on Monday, but it was Friday night. Instead of looking for an accountant or even over the resumes he’d received, Dedede had stopped at a nice bar in Celestial Valley—Himmlisches Tal to the locals—near the border between Patch Land and a region of the Dreamland called Traumwald. Dedede had seated himself at the bar, his suit jacket thrown onto the back of his chair and the cuffs of his button-down rolled up past his elbows. As Dedede toyed with a tankard of ale, he watched the stage nearby.

 

This was a karaoke bar, and Dedede had half a mind to go up there and belt out a couple of songs. He was no grand singer, but he wasn’t terrible. Maybe after he finished his ale.

 

A man walked onto the stage and began to sing, and Dedede paused mid-drink at the first note. That man had the most beautiful, beguiling voice he’d ever heard. Death metal wasn’t really Dedede’s cup of tea, but he was pretty sure he’d listen to this man read the phonebook.

 

Dedede spun around on his barstool. Warm felspar-brown skin, sapphire-blue hair, and bright gold eyes. He wasn’t the sort of man Dedede would ever call handsome, but he was pretty. No, striking. That was the word.

 

Striking with a voice worthy of a god.

 


 

Meta Knight had silenced his cellphone. Then, he’d turned off the vibrating text alert. Then, he’d turned off everything except his alarms. Because bless his heart, Meta Knight’s little brother had yet to take a hint and kept sending a steady stream of encouraging text messages, and the last thing Meta Knight wanted was for his phone to go off during his interview with Dedede Novatrix, ambassador to Patch Land.

 

Meta Knight sat in the waiting room and clasped his hands so tightly that his knuckles turned white. The worst that would happen was that Dedede wouldn’t like him, and Meta Knight would return to his retail job, folding shirts and bowing to customer demands, while he searched for something else.

 

The office door opened, and Dedede himself peeked out. Meta Knight had studied Dedede’s photos online, and he looked…well, much like his photos. This was unusual, as in Meta Knight’s experience, politicians often didn’t look quite as attractive in person as they did in photos.

 

Dedede also wore a very red suit. Meta Knight wasn’t sure whether to be pleased or worried over Dedede’s boldness.

 

Dedede’s blue eyes gave Meta Knight a quick once-over. “You’re Meta Knight?”

 

“Yes?”

 

Dedede retreated back into his office and returned with a box, which he promptly dropped at Meta Knight’s feet.

 

Meta Knight stared at the giant, disorganized box overflowing with receipts.

 

“From the past couple a business trips!” Dedede declared cheerfully. “It’s my…uh, job training! Get ‘em in order, and you’ve got the job!”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Magolor rolled over and groaned. Because of his eight o’clock calculus class, it wasn’t often he got to sleep in, and while a small part of him knew he ought to get up and be productive, another part of him wanted to just sink further into his blankets and enjoy the warmth. His eyelids fluttered open. Marx lay on his side beside him, his cheek propped up on one hand. He crunched Dorito’s, letting red spice fall onto Magolor’s recently cleaned sheets. And everything was fine. Magolor let his eyes slowly drift closed.

 

Wait.

 

Magolor’s eyes snapped open. “Did you break into my apartment?” he asked.

 

Marx’s smile revealed unusually sharp teeth and vaguely resembled that if some sort of horror movie serial killer. That was when Magolor saw the mostly empty bag of spicy nacho Dorito’s. Fearing for the status of his kitchen, Magolor tossed the blankets aside and over Marx, who emitted a muffled shriek of protest.

 

“Can’t you knock on the door like a normal person?” Magolor asked.

 

Crunching.

 

“And as much as I love my friends, I will give you the shock of your life if you don’t stop making a mess in my bed,” Magolor said.

 

Marx’s head emerged from the blankets. “But Magolor, friends shouldn’t fight!” Marx protested, grinning viciously.

 

Magolor bit the inside of his cheek. “Strange how you remember me saying that but decided against remembering my lecture about not breaking into my apartment,” Magolor deadpanned.

 

“But look! I brought you flowers,” Marx said, producing the obviously just-magicked bouquet of roses. “That’s very generous of me considering it’s my birthday.”

 

As if Magolor wouldn’t know when it was his friend’s birthday. He knew when all his friends’ birthdays were-–even Meta Knight’s, despite the fact that they hadn’t been on friendly terms in years. “So what do you want to do for your birthday?” Magolor asked, taking the roses.

 

Dear Nova, Marx really needed to learn how to create some duller thorns; his were absurdly sharp. 

 

“No,” Marx said, sprawling himself all over Magolor’s bed. “I figure I’ll just lay around here all day. Get me some more Dorito’s, bitch.”

 

“Friends don’t call friends bitches,” Magolor said. 

 

Marx snorted. “Friends are the only people you should be calling that,” he said, waving the empty chip bag. “I’m still in need of Dorito’s, Mags.”

 

“You’re in need to some manners,” Magolor replied, but he still snatched the bag and stormed into his kitchen with the intention of getting Marx more food.

 

“Thanks, Maggie!” Marx yelled.

 

Magolor rolled his eyes and after throwing the bag into the trashcan, opened up the breadbox sitting on his kitchen counter. It was the one place he had known Marx wouldn’t look, and inside, there was a small, round cake. It wasn’t often that Magolor really had the opportunity to be an exceptionally good friend, but when he did get those opportunities, he always rose to the occasion. 

 

 

Chapter Text

Magolor stared at his coffee and wondered if the convenience store had accidentally put decaf in the caffeinated pot. He stifled a yawn and stared at the book before him; the words blurred before his eyes. Magolor was seriously considering abandoning the project and sleeping in one of the study rooms instead. With a sigh, Magolor gave up and decided to go home instead. This was all Marx’s fault.

 

As much as Magolor liked Marx (Nova knew why), they seriously needed to have another talk about personal space. During the night, Marx had sauntered in, eaten most of the food in Magolor’s kitchen, and then crashed in Magolor’s bed. This would’ve been fine…except that Magolor was a very selfish sleeper. He’d began with half the bed and slowly shoved Magolor further and further throughout the night.

 

Magolor woke when he struck the carpet face-first. Sleepily, Magolor had stumbled to the sofa and slept there; this was easier than attempting to wake Marx who slept like a dead man. The alarm roused Magolor minutes after he’d managed to fall asleep again. He’d groaned and forced himself up. He’d offered Marx’s shoulder a shake to see if he would wake; he hadn’t.

 

So half-awake and dead inside, Magolor had trudged to his engineering class. And here he was. Two hours later. Still barely awake. And if this annoying guy on the sidewalk didn’t start walking more quickly, Magolor was going to set the man’s clearly expensive jacket on fire. Said guy turned around, and it took Magolor an embarrassing amount of time to piece everything together. “Rough morning?” Meta Knight asked.

 

Magolor had been too tired to muster up Dreamlandic, so he’d opted for Halcandran. “Marx won’t stop trying to sleep in my bed with me.”

 

Magolor glanced at Meta Knight to see his reaction; after all, they weren’t enemies, but they weren’t quite friends either. But Magolor knew of Meta Knight’s disdain for physical affection and expected some sympathy. Instead, Meta Knight looked…maybe sheepish. For just a split second. “Well, I can’t blame you. I wouldn’t want Marx in my bed either,” Meta Knight said.

 

All of Magolor’s frustration towards Marx suddenly transferred to Meta Knight. “I don’t mind him in my bed. It’s just that he keeps pushing me out,” Magolor said.

 

“Then, either buy a bigger bed or make him sleep on the sofa,” Meta Knight replied, pausing by the crosswalk. “Nice talk. I have to go, though.”

 

“Where are you going?”

 

“I have a coffee date,” Meta Knight replied, his face brightening. “I don’t want to be late.”

 

For Nova’s sake, Meta Knight and Dedede lived together. They’d probably seen each other that morning already, and Meta Knight looked like he’d just inherited a mass fortune just because he was going on a coffee date. How disgustingly saccharine.

 

Magolor trudged along until he reached his apartment. Once inside, he headed straight past Marx, who’d found Magolor’s chocolate stash and was happily polishing it off. “What’s up, Mags?” Marx asked.

 

“Tired. I didn’t sleep well.”

 

“Huh, I slept fine,” Marx replied, grinning shamelessly.

 

The little monster knew what he’d done.

 

“How was your morning?” Marx asked. 

 

“Fine. I ran into Meta Knight. He and Dedede are a thing now,” Magolor said. 

 

He collapsed face-first onto his bed and contemplated trying to sleep with his face drowning in his pillow. 

 

“Yeah?” Marx asked. “What’s that like?”

 

“They’re so disgustingly sweet. He’s made Meta really boring.”

 

“Dear Nova!” Marx exclaimed, as if being boring was an unforgivable offense.

 

And for Marx, it probably was.

 

Magolor rolled onto his back and furrowed his brow as Marx climbed in bed beside him. Marx held an unwrapped Reese’s cup between his fingers. Before Marx could eat it, Magolor leaned forward and took a massive bite out of it.

 

“Hey!”

 

“I bought it,” Magolor pointed out around a mouthful of chocolate. 

 

“Friends share, Mags!”

 

Magolor grimaced. Why did everyone always have to use his friendship speeches against him?

 

Marx finished the half-eaten Reese’s either way. “Well, I’m good for a cat nap,” Marx said, throwing the bag of candy onto the nightstand and curling up against Magolor’s side. 

 

“Next paycheck, I’m going to buy a bigger bed,” Magolor said, “Since you seem determined to just force your way in here every other day.”

 

“Come on, Mags! You know I bring all the excitement to your otherwise dull life. Never a boring day with me around!”

 

That was certainly true. Magolor sighed and threw the blankets over both of them. “Meta was going to meet Dedede for a coffee-date at ten in the morning,” Magolor said drowsily. “It’s so…average.”

 

“Gross,” Marx agreed. “Don’t worry, Mags. I promise we’re never going to be like that.”

 

Magolor smirked. He didn’t doubt it for a second.

Chapter Text

This was...not Meta Knight’s best idea, but after suffering through the best-selling novel Forbidden Fantasy, a historical romance novel wherein the hero Brent Knight spent his time courting Mary Novatrix, the secret daughter of the goddess Nova and Dedede’s actual many-times great-grandfather, and insulting Bikaia, the greatest king Dreamland had ever known. Meta Knight was really filled with the insatiable urge to make Brent Knight eat steel, but since he couldn’t murder a fictional character, Meta Knight was seeking catharsis in another way. Searching for fanfiction wherein Brent Knight died. Surely, there must be someone in the world whose hatred for Brent Knight also burned with the white-hot intensity of a million dying galaxies.

 

Suck It, Brent Knight by Hoshi no Kaabii

  • Summary: Brent Knight meets an unwelcome end at the hands of the vampire lord Mesmeros. Super sadness.
  • Tags: Spitefic, Crossover, Vampires, AU where Bikaia is an actual decent person, so i guess that means historical au?, i don’t like Brent

 

Meta Knight brightened. Finally, he’d found it. This Hoshi no Kaabii writer was clearly a man of refined literary tastes. “Yes,” Meta Knight said, clicking the link without hesitation.

 

Prince Bikaia of Dreamland kept quiet as he and his party trudged through the forest. He focused on Brent’s shoes. The knight moved before him, and Bikaia had once tripped over the knight’s boots from following too closely. Brent had snapped at him, and really, that should’ve been Bikaia’s first warning that Brent was an unsuitable traveling companion. It really hadn’t been Bikaia’s fault; because he was a prince, he was used to people following him. Not the other way around. But since then, Brent had become increasingly violent. Brent had misinterpreted Bikaia’s gentlemanly behavior towards a barmaid as flirtation and slammed him into a wall. He insulted Bikaia at every turn, became frustrated at the smallest offense, and sometimes struck him in the name of toughening him up. And Bikaia doubted Mary, who doted after Brent, would help him.

 

“Brent,” Mary said, “I am dreadfully tired. Don’t you think we should rest?”

 

“Perhaps in a little while,” Brent replied.

 

“It’s becoming quickly dark,” Bikaia said.

 

“Shut-up and cease whining, you brat!” Brent snapped.

 

While the author hadn’t managed to capture the original tone of Forbidden Fantasy, Meta Knight had to admit that the characterization of Brent Knight was fairly good.

 

I can’t wait for him to die, Galaxia said.

 

“Agreed,” Meta Knight said.

 

Eventually, the group arrived at an abandoned castle. Bikaia thought it would be wise to inspect the castle before declaring it their resting place for the night, but he didn’t voice his thoughts for fear of drawing Brent’s ire. They settled in a bedroom with an elegantly crafted bed and a massive fireplace. There was no dust which meant either the castle was enchanted or someone lived there.

 

Bikaia was so tired he didn’t even complain when Brent told him to sleep by the room’s entrance, presumably so he’d know if someone did come during the night. Brent and Mary curled up together on the bed. It made sense that Mary, being a young lady would be given the bed, but Bikaia could think of no logical reason for Brent to also need the bed. 

 

Brent said it was to protect Mary, which made perfect sense. That’s why the prince of Dreamland was sleeping alone by the door and very far from the fireplace. 

 

Bikaia really did try sleeping, but he was very cold. He drifted between sleep and wondering if he’d rather flee into the dark forests around him. At least, the forests wouldn’t insult him. The prince’s eyelids fluttered. Dark, seductive music drifted through the air, and Bikaia blinked rapidly.

 

He was unsure if he’d imagined it. Bikaia thought of waking Brent, but the prince really didn’t want to be scolded. Instead, Bikaia wrapped his cloak around himself and padded down the stairs. He’d seen a parlor by the entrance, and parlors usually contained musical instruments. Maybe an animal had sneaked in and stumbled upon one. That seemed to be the case, for when Bikaia entered the parlor, there was no one at the piano.

 

Bikaia sighed and rubbed his face. Whatever it was must’ve fled. The prince sank onto the piano bench and gazed longingly at the piano. It’d been so long since he’d been able to play a piano. 

 

“I wouldn’t mind a nice nocturne,” a dark, seductive voice said.

 

Meta Knight wrinkled his nose. He wasn’t entirely sure why, but this man already reminded him of his own father. That was...an odd feeling to have.

 

Bikaia twisted around. A man, entirely nude, lounged on an elegant loveseat. In one hand, he held a small, glass goblet filled with a deep, red liquid. “I was hoping for a beautiful maiden,” the man purred.

 

Bikaia averted his eyes and held out his cloak. “Surely, you’d prefer to wear clothing, Sir,” he said. “It is wintertime, and I’m certain you’re cold.”

 

Unfortunately, years of princely etiquette hadn’t prepared him for dealing with nude men.

 

“Dear child, I was under the impression that I may dress however I wish in my own castle.”

 

Bikaia’s breath caught in his throat. “I apologize for my trespass, my Lord,” Bikaia said.

 

Can you skip ahead to the part where Brent Knight dies? Galaxia asked.

 

“I’m...kind of intrigued by this, though,” Meta Knight said.

 

That’s why we read Forbidden Fantasy in the first place, Galaxia muttered. Your curiosity is going to be the death of my sanity.

 

Bikaia heard movement and turned his face towards his own shoulder, desperate not to see the man’s nudity any longer. “My friends and I shall leave immediately,” Bikaia said. “Please, accept my sincerest apologies. We are but weary travelers, and we meant no disrespect. I can pay you for your hospitality.”

 

Bikaia flinched as a cold finger lighted upon the hollow of his throat. It was followed by a sharp spark, Bikaia’s powers Copying whatever gifts this man held. “How strange that you keep speaking as if you hold the blame for invading my castle,” the man said. “You are the one who thought spending the night here unwise.”

 

Bikaia’s stomach lurched; his teeth didn’t seem to all fit in his mouth anymore. He smelled blood. The man snatched Bikaia’s cloak away and wrapped it around himself. “I would be a poor host if I made my guests uncomfortable,” the man said. “I am Mesmeros, the lord of this castle. What an honor to stand in the presence of royalty.”

 

When Bikaia dared look at the man’s face, he found it ethereally beautiful. Snow-pale with aristocratic features and deep, piercing eyes. And the more Bikaia looked, the more he felt a strange, deep hunger inside him.

 

Meta Knight’s jaw dropped. He winced and skimmed ahead to confirm that Bikaia wasn’t about to...engage in certain adult activities. Fortunately, he didn’t. It seemed that, instead, Bikaia had developed mind-reading powers and had seen that Mesmeros was a deadly vampire who thought Bikaia’s throat looked very delicious. Thank Nova for small mercies.

 

But there was something else. Curiosity flickered in Mesmeros’s eyes. “But you’re not quite human, are you, my dear?” he asked. “How fascinating.”

 

And because Brent couldn’t survive without being at such a climatic scene, he immediately showed up. The knight drew his sword, but rather than pointing it at the vampire, began screaming at Bikaia for having the audacity to disturb his beauty sleep.

 

Mesmeros cleared his throat.

 

“Can you wait?” Brent asked. “I am scolding this selfish, arrogant brat! He’s proven himself incapable of even the smallest task!”

 

Bikaia clenched his fists and took the scolding as he had many others. If he’d learned anything from his royal upbringing, it was how to be diplomatic towards people he didn’t like.

 

The vampire’s dark eyes flickered to Bikaia. “Do you know, my dear prince, that there’s one thing I simply cannot abide?”

 

Bikaia caught Mesmeros’s intentions, but it was too late. With blinding speed, Mesmeros lunged forward and tore out Brent’s throat. 

 

Meta Knight smirked as he reveled in the suffering of his most hated fictional character. He looked quite like his father at the moment, although no one would have dared tell him.

 

Perfect, Galaxia said. Leave a comment.

 

Meta Knight nodded, left his comment, and closed his laptop.

 


 

Kirby rested his cheek in the palm of his hand and idly scrolled through his emails. He perked up when he realized he’d gotten a comment on his very first fanfiction story. Normally, Kirby didn’t write fanfiction, but after skimming Forbidden Fantasy and reading about how awful the depiction of the noble King Bikaia, Kirby’s own self in a previous life, Kirby had been unable to resist doing something. Eagerly, he opened the email.

 

[AO3] Comment on Suck It Brent Knight

Meta left the following comment on Suck It Brent Knight:

Thank you, dear writer. I do not ordinarily read fanfiction, but I really enjoyed your piece wherein the insufferable Brent Knight meets his untimely end at the fangs of a vampire.

 

Kirby threw the phone on his bed and clapped his hands over his mouth. Meta Knight must never know. Never. Feverishly, he typed out the most innocent, I-Am-Totally-Not-Your-Half-Brother-Kirby comment he could.

 

[AO3] Hoshi no Kaabii replied to your comment on Suck It Brent Knight:

Hoshi no Kaabii responded:

THANK YOU. THAT IS SO NICE. IS META YOUR REAL NAME? THAT’S SUPER UNIQUE JUST LIKE MY NAME WHICH IS TOTALLY NOT AVERAGE IN ANY WAY. XOXO.

Chapter Text

Daroach carefully moved, so he blocked the magical wand he’d been trying to steal. A man stood across from him. Daroach found him very attractive, regal even. He wore black trousers and a black cutaway coat over a red brocade vest, and while his attire was very flattering, the man looked, overall, like he’d stepped from a period film. Most surprisingly, though, was that Daroach recognized the man’s face; despite the missing eye and scarring, his red eyes, and blond hair, this man looked exactly like Meta Knight.

 

“What are you doing?” not-Meta Knight asked, tilting his head slightly.

 

The man radiated power, so much that Daroach was reconsidering whether he could win in a fight. Instead, Daroach grinned and whistled between his teeth. “I’m afraid I lost my way, but now, I’m beginning to think being lost wasn’t such a bad fate,” Daroach said, letting his eyes very obviously wander over the other man. “Maybe a very lucky fate.”

 

It was meant as a distraction, while Daroach reached behind him and tried to stow the wand inside his coat pocket.

 

“Ah, yes. People inadvertently wander through the Dimensional Mirror, a mystical relic which presently rests in the most secure and impenetrable location in Dreamland, all the time. Welcome. I am Dark, king of this realm.”

 

Really? “The Scarlet Magician, although you may call me Daroach, Your Majesty. I’ve always wanted to meet a king.”

 

Dark strode closer. “Really?” he asked.

 

Daroach caught the insinuating tone in Dark’s voice and began to wonder if he really was a king. In all his years of thievery, Daroach had never had anyone flirt back to him.

 

Not to be outdone, Daroach smiled. “I’ve always had this fantasy; you see. About meeting a king.”

 

Daroach had managed to stow the magic wand inside his back pocket.

 

Dark vanished, and Daroach started when the man reappeared. Evidently, personal space was a foreign concept to Dark, who now stood so closely that Daroach could feel the other man’s breath on his neck. It became apparent, too, that the man had fangs, something which Daroach was more fascinated than repulsed by.

 

“I thought you were going to tell me your fantasy,” Dark purred. “Did I ruin the mood?”

 

What a strange, strange man. “Not at all,” Daroach answered, tracing a gloved finger over Dark’s jawline. “I was only admiring your features. You’re much more striking up close.”

 

Dark chuckled and pulled Daroach’s hat off. “Oh, this is very lovely,” Dark said, teasingly running his fingers through Daroach’s long, silver hair.

 

Daroach felt a hand creep behind him. “Thank you. I don’t suppose, being a king, you’d like a silver fox to join your service? I can see you’re rather intrigued with my behind, Your Majesty,” Daroach said, grasping Dark’s wrist and spying the ring on the king’s finger. “And you, a married man! My, my.”

 

“My husband doesn’t mind,” Dark replied. “On the contrary, it’s not uncommon for a man of my station to be a…little insatiable. You’ll have to forgive me for not following those lovely Dreamlandic conventions.”

 

Daroach reached beneath Dark’s sleeve and massaged the underside of the king’s wrist. “Why don’t we heat things up?” Daroach asked, reaching for the Triple-Star with his free hand.

 

Daroach unleashed a burst of lightning. Dark’s grip on Daroach’s wrist tightened, and although Dark’s face twisted in pain and fury, he didn’t seem terribly harmed by the attack. “Pain really does nothing to deter me,” Dark said. “I’ve a good tolerance for it. Terrible childhoods do that to you.”

 

Daroach released Dark’s wrist and leaped over the table behind him, keeping it between the king and himself. “I would be delighted to discuss it with you, but–”

 

The world suddenly shifted into strange blankness. Daroach couldn’t feel his magic; he couldn’t feel Dark or the Triple-Star. Slowly, he raised his hand, a silver handcuff dangling from his wrist.

 

Dark strode behind Daroach and patting his shoulder. “Those were forged with dragon’s fire,” Dark said cheerfully. “Among other things, they suppress magical abilities and the ability to use magical objects. Normally, we hang thieves who steal from the Crown, although I like you, so I might be willing to let you die by my blade. That’s a more painful death but more dignified. But you’re from Dreamland. I fear if I kill a Dreamlander, it’ll create some exhausting scandal.”

 

“Politics must be so tiring for someone with your eccentricity,” Daroach said, the beginnings of a plan twisting in his mind.

 

Dark stood before Daroach and put his hands against the thief’s chest. “It is so difficult trying to accommodate Dreamland’s impossible standards of purity and honor,” Dark said.

 

“Like being shoved in a box,” Daroach said sympathetically.

 

“Indeed.”

 

Without warning, Daroach went in for a kiss. Surprise flashed in Dark’s face, but he returned the gesture without hesitation. Daroach had to admire the man’s commitment to trying to out-flirt him, but of course, Daroach hadn’t really been expecting a kiss.

 

The click of the other handcuff on Dark’s wrist was very loud. Daroach smirked, while Dark drew back and slowly looked at their handcuffed wrists.

 

“They say variety is the spice of life,” Daroach said, grinning victoriously.

 

Dark shook with barely contained laughter. “There’s one problem. I haven’t the faintest idea which key belongs to these cuffs.”

 

“You collect magical handcuffs?” Daroach asked.

 

“My late father did.”

 

Dark retrieved Daroach’s hat, which had been left forgotten on the floor, and placed it back on the thief’s head. 

 

“Has anyone ever told you that you are a very dashing man?” Daroach asked.

 

Dark’s lips quirked into a smile. “Many times,” he said. “I believe the proper response is ‘it takes one to know one?’ How would you feel about having a luncheon?”

 

Hmm. Daroach smiled. Clearly, Dark was a man who was willing to play a very long game, but no one had ever bested Daroach. And Dark wouldn’t either.

 

“Sounds delightful.” 

Chapter Text

Customer Service straightened his tie and brushed over his pumpkin spice button down once more, ridding the shirt of invisible wrinkles. He yawned and resisted the urge to run his hand through his hair, an action which would ruin his carefully-coiffed locks. And he always liked to look his best for his Friday night dinners with Nightmare Nocturne, CEO of the Holy Nightmare Corporation. Customer Service stared at the mirror as if he could somehow make the dark, bloated circles beneath his eyes disappear. With a sigh, Customer Service left the men’s bathroom and returned to his table.

 

Nightmare had yet to make an appearance, possibly because Customer Service had arrived half an hour early. He only ever arrived early when it had something to do with Nightmare. Possibly because Customer Service had some...wholly unprofessional feelings towards his boss, and this combined with Customer Service’s eagerness to please upper management, had made him something of an over-achiever.

 

Finally, Nightmare arrived. Nightmare wasn’t a conventionally attractive man, or so Customer Service had once thought. The more Customer Service looked at his boss, the more he started to find Nightmare’s unconventionally sharp features incredibly attractive. It helped that Nightmare dressed well. And that he’d shown himself capable of singlehandedly fending off a couple of cosmic horrors. Which was...hot. Not that Customer Service would ever admit that aloud.

 

Nightmare strode to the table and took the seat. As he did, he smiled; his unnaturally sharp canines caught the lighting well. Customer Service had never asked, but those teeth legitimately might have been able to rip out a throat. They were also part of the reason people found Nightmare so intimidating, although his powerful magic and reputation also probably had a good deal to do with it. 

 

“Ah, you’ve already ordered a red,” Nightmare said, delicately taking his wine glass and inhaling the wine. “Cabernet?”

 

Customer Service smugly cited the name and vintage, which was met with Nightmare’s approving nod.

 

“I thought you’d like it,” Customer Service replied.

 

“Mm. I hope you ordered the entire bottle,” Nightmare sat, taking a sip.

 

Of course, he had.

 

“Difficult day, Sir?” Customer Service asked.

 

Nightmare made a sort of disgruntled expression with his face. At work, Nightmare was very cold and composed, but he made an exception for their weekly dinners. Customer Service found that flattering, although he, of course, kept such feelings to himself. Nightmare's eyes were covered, as always, by his glasses. His eyes were sensitive to light, and Customer Service had only seen his eyes once or twice. They were a cold grey with a lot of shine. Like diamonds.

 

“Raising a child with magical powers is proving to be more difficult than I had anticipated,” Nightmare replied, “And Meta Knight’s morning sitter is proving herself to be impressively incompetent. The evening sitter was running ten minutes late, and rather than waiting, she left my two-year-old child unattended in his room! When the evening sitter arrived, Meta Knight had flown on top of the ceiling fan and was just sitting there. The poor boy could have fallen! Or tried to fly and broken something! He’s not nearly skilled enough to be flying unsupervised.”

 

Customer Service, who found Meta Knight to be a terrifying demon-child, nodded sympathetically.

 

“So I’m searching for another sitter,” Nightmare continued, “One who knows better than to abandon the magically-powered toddler. Meta Knight can’t quite control his powers yet, but he doesn’t have many accidents. It’s just that when he gets bored, he plays with his powers, so he needs sitters who can keep him entertained. Just—I cannot believe the nerve of that sitter. I should make sure she never works in childcare again.”

 

“Shall I stage some interviews?” Customer Service asked.

 

Nightmare waved a dismissive hand. “No, you’ve already too much to do. This is something I must attend to myself. Besides, you look exhausted already,” Nightmare said.

 

So Nightmare had noticed the circles under his eyes. “It’s nothing,” Customer Service replied. “I’ve just had difficulty sleeping lately.”

 

Nightmare paused and tilted his head. “Do you know the cause?”

 

“No. This just happens sometimes. It’ll pass.”

 

“You should have said something,” Nightmare replied, his lips curving into a smile. “Dreams are my specialty.”

 

“I...I didn’t know if it was my place to ask for something like that.”

 

Bright silver stars of dream magic popped and twinkled around Nightmare’s fingertips. There was a faint pop, and Customer Service blinked.

 

“There,” Nightmare said.

 

“Thank you.”

 

“Don’t mention it. I need my right-hand man to be in good shape, after all.”

 

Customer Service’s insides fluttered a bit embarrassingly at the phrase “right-hand man.”

 

“Now, I know it’s not good manners to talk shop at the table,” Nightmare said, “But corporate espionage does make me so excited.”

 

Customer Service took a sip of wine and smiled. “Did you see that Haltmann Works’ stock value fell five points today?”

 

“I imagine it will fall even more once the insider trading scandal comes to light,” Nightmare replied mischievously.

 

“Insider trading?”

 

“Indeed. If Max Haltmann’s stockholders are going to try and cheat, they should cover their tracks.”

 

“I can assume that’s some of Computer Virus’s work?”

 

“I’m making him earn his keep,” Nightmare replied smugly. “I’ve been sitting on this information for months.”

 

“And I take it you have proof of this?”

 

“Of course, I do,” Nightmare replied. “Their stock is about to plummet, so a few...untrustworthy people will buy it up. Then, an anonymous source will release all the evidence I have. It won’t ruin him, of course, but I’ll settle for an inconvenience.”

 

“I love how devious you are,” Customer Service replied, leaning forward, “And I wondered if you might consider a couple more corporate spies. I’ve found some acceptable candidates.”

 

“Have you?” Nightmare asked.

 

“Indeed—”

 

The waitress arrived for their orders.

 

“The usual,” Nightmare replied.

 

Customer Service didn’t know if Nightmare really wanted his usual or if he was just too invested in the conversation to bother looking at the menu. It was a miracle the man even ordered anything. Customer Service knew that his boss had an unhealthy tendency to overwork himself and forget to eat, and more than once, Customer Service had tried to tactfully force food on his employer. Nightmare was thin enough that a strong gust of wind just might blow him away.

 

Strange. Because Nightmare had a good half-dozen alarms on his phone for when his child was supposed to eat. Maybe that was why Meta Knight was such a pudgy baby.

 

Whether he wanted it or not, Nightmare ate his usual—cedar plant salmon and rice. All the while, he and Customer Service plotted corporate espionage, mostly against Haltmann Works but occasionally against the Dreamland monarchy. And Customer Service couldn’t help but notice how animated Nightmare became when talking about such things. It was endearing and fascinating, like watching a wild cat batting around dandelions.

 

And after the night ended, Customer Service went to bed and slept better than he had in months.

 

 

Chapter Text

At sixteen, Meta Knight was a wild boy who had the habit of getting into quite a bit of trouble, which–of course–meant that Daroach, Dreamland’s most infamous thief, was very proud of him. And when Daroach and the rest of his Squeaks returned to the hideout after a long night’s work, one look at Meta Knight’s face revealed that the boy had done something very, very bad.

 

“Welcome home,” Meta Knight said. “How was your night? Shall I take your coat?”

 

“Oh, boy,” Spinni muttered, sounding delighted. “Your boy’s been causing mischief, boss.”

 

“Do I need to take care of someone for you, Meta Knight?” Storo asked, cracking his knuckles.

 

“No,” Meta Knight replied. “Am I not allowed to greet my dear father?”

 

Daroach narrowed his eyes and handed off his coat. Meta Knight only ever called him father when he wanted something. “Oh, of course, my boy,” Daroach said, feigning obliviousness. 

 

“At least, he’s not stuck in a mirror this time,” Doc whispered.

 

“Your hat?” Meta Knight asked.

 

Daroach swept his hat from his hand and dropped it directly onto Meta Knight’s newly dark hair. “See? My son has such elegant manners,” Daroach said.

 

“Well, he clearly didn’t get them from his father,” Spinni joked.

 

Daroach gasped and looked as if his honor had been irredeemably besmirched. Meta Knight went to put Daroach’s clothing away, but the thief caught his elbow and pulled him back. Meta Knight flinched and pulled back his arm. He was hurt; Daroach realized that very quickly. “Daroach–” Meta Knight began.

 

Daroach took Meta Knight’s chin in his gloved hand and tipped it up. Their eyes, both gold, met like sunlight and starlight. “Now, what have you done?” Daroach asked lowly.

 

“Don’t be angry.”

 

Daroach arched an eyebrow and considered the answer. Whenever Meta Knight had done something wrong, his usual response was anger or defiance. Indignation. This quiet, nearly fearful demureness was unsettling.

 

“Whatever it is, we can fix it,” Daroach said, his voice serious. 

 

“I brought home a boy.”

 

Daroach roared in laughter. “Is that all? Where is he hiding? Your loft? Introduce us, you tease! Goddess, our Meta Knight has finally discovered romance!”

 

“Not that sort of boy,” Meta Knight said quietly. “An eight-year-old boy.”

 

“Oh, God, it’s another Meta Knight,” Spinni said, although his usual joke didn’t carry its usual snark.

 

“I’ll work extra hard to feed him,” Meta Knight promised. “You won’t even notice he’s here. I’ve never asked you to give me anything before, and while I realize–”

 

Daroach held his hand up. “Show me, Meta Knight.”

 

After hanging Daroach’s coat and hat up in their usual place, Meta Knight climbed into the loft where he slept. Daroach followed with the rest of the Squeaks. It was a crowded place with all of them there. A small lantern lit the space, although neither Daroach nor Meta Knight needed a lantern to see in darkness. In Meta Knight’s bed, there slept, as he’d said, a small child. A street urchin like Meta Knight had once been. Downy, blond hair. Pale skin. The child’s malnourishment was clear in his thin face. Daroach hooked a finger beneath the blanket and pulled it down, revealing bandages.

 

“Burns,” Meta Knight said. “I rescued him from the wizard Necrodeus.”

 

Daroach’s eyes hardened. “And why were you in the sewers exactly?” he asked, citing the wizard’s hideout.

 

“I heard screaming and investigated.”

 

“And you thought you’d just rush in and be the dauntless, dashing savior of the day! Very gallant!” Daroach exclaimed.

 

“It seemed like a good idea at the time,” Meta Knight replied.

 

Daroach hummed. “Did he hurt you?”

 

“No, I–”

 

Daroach pushed up the sleeve of Meta Knight’s coat, and although Meta Knight tried to pull away, Daroach had already seen the burns.

 

“How badly did he hurt you?” Daroach asked.

 

“It’s just my arm,” Meta Knight said.

 

“I’ll mix something to help it heal,” Doc said. “I can make something for this boy, too.”

 

“And if you need any additional ingredients, Doc, let me know,” Spinni said. “I’ll fetch them for you.”

 

“So what’s the boy’s name?” Storo asked. “Do we know?”

 

“Kirby Stellarum,” Meta Knight replied. “I gave him a sleeping potion, but it should wear off soon. I thought he might need rest.”

 

“So do you,” Daroach said, squeezing Meta Knight’s shoulder. “Don’t worry. It’s fine. Besides, twenty-eight isn’t too old to raise another child. Maybe this one will be a little better behaved.”

 

“I wouldn’t bet on it, old man,” Meta Knight replied.

 

Daroach grinned. “Make sure Doc fixes you up. I’m going to get some fresh air.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

Daroach shrugged. “It’s one of the many benefits of being my child,” he said cavalierly.

 

The other benefit of being Daroach’s child was that Meta Knight would never again have to worry about Necrodeus. No one hurt Daroach’s family and lived to boast about it.

Chapter Text

No amount of pleas would convince Lord Ebrum and Lady Like that she, Tiffany Eburm, did not need a babysitter. Her parents insisted that–no matter how mature–she was still a child and needed an adult to look out for her, Tuff, and Kirby, while the couple was away for negotiations with Dreamland’s northern neighbor, Snowland. But even a babysitter wouldn’t have been so bad if it hadn’t been…that man.

 

Dark bounded into the room with a broad smile that might’ve been charming if he hadn’t had a mouthful of sharp fangs. “Hello, children!” he exclaimed.

 

Through some sort of magic gone awry, Dark–evidently Sir Meta Knight from another dimension–had been trapped in Dreamland, and thus far, no one had been able to figure out how to send the man back. 

 

Tiff crossed her arms. “I cannot believe you’re going to babysit us.”

 

“Well, I am an adult, young whippersnapper!” Dark declared. “You know; back in my day, children respected their elders!”

 

“Well, maybe if you acted like an adult, I’d respect you more,” Tiff said. 

 

“But you show Meta Knight respect,” Dark pouted, “And I am Meta Knight.”

 

“Dark!” Kirby shouted happily and wrapped his arms around Dark’s legs in a tight hug.

 

Tiff sighed. Both Kirby and Tuff absolutely loved Dark, probably because he was always happy to get into trouble and support all their outlandish schemes. Most recently, Dark had taken to playing pranks on Escargoon, and while Tiff agreed that the king’s advisor deserved some measure of misfortune, Dark pursued tormenting Escargoon like it was a full-time job. What was more baffling is that Dark seemed to also be head over heels in love with Dedede and melted into a puddle if Dedede so much as called his name.

 

“Dark! I want to make something explode!” Tuff exclaimed, running into the room.

 

“No!” Tiff exclaimed. 

 

But Dark’s face brightened like he’d just been given his weight in candy. “Did I ever tell you the story about how I singlehandedly destroyed my ex-boyfriend’s battleship after he betrayed me and broke my heart?”

 

Yes. About fifty times. And despite Dark’s aplomb, he had yet to get through the story without dissolving into a puddle of tears.

 

“Yes!” Tuff replied. “Come on, Dark! Please!”

 

“Well, alright–”

 

“No, that isn’t safe!” Tiff protested.

 

“But it isn’t going to be a huge explosion. Just a little one.” Dark grinned. “In Escargoon’s bedroom. Glitter will be involved. Lots and lots of glitter.”

 

“Wicked!” Tuff exclaimed, doubtlessly doubly excited by the thought of annoying Escargoon.

 

“You can’t,” Tiff said.

 

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Dark said, “But who’s the adult, Theophania?”

 

“It’s Tiffany, and I’ll tell Meta Knight if you do this.”

 

Dark smirked and mockingly patted Tiff’s hair. “It’s so cute that you think I’m afraid of Mety Knighty. Come on, boys! To the craft store!”

 

Kirby and Tuff shouted excitedly, and Tiff groaned. Why couldn’t her parents have asked Meta Knight to watch them? Or a rock, even. A rock would do a better job at adulting than this trainwreck.

Chapter Text

The smell of olive oil and fried fish drifted into Meta Knight’s nostrils. He sat perched on the kitchen counter, watching as Dedede did things that–if Meta Knight tried them–would’ve resulted in fire. And smoke alarms. And the hatred of the other one-hundred-fifty people living in their dorm. “Hey, Meta, you free Saturday?” Dedede asked.

 

“No, I’m expensive. Sorry,” Meta Knight replied.

 

During his research on “how to flirt with your boyfriend,” Meta Knight had read joke online and had thought it was pretty good.

 

Dedede laughed. “I don’t suppose yer free any other day uh the week, are ya?”

 

“Nope,” Meta Knight replied, popping the syllable on the ‘p.’

 

Dedede abandoned his cooking, something else that–if Meta Knight had done it–would’ve resulted in flames and drawn the ire of the one-hundred-fifty other people living in their dorm.

 

“So what’s yer price, schnookums?” Dedede asked.

 

Meta Knight raised his head an smirked as Dedede sauntered close to him. “You couldn’t possibly afford me,” Meta Knight replied. “Sorry, my Lord.”

 

Dedede heaved a melodramatic sigh. Abruptly, he turned around and winked. “Good thing I know your weakness, sugar cakes,” Dedede replied, smirking.

 

“Oh? And what is that?” Meta Knight asked.

 

“I know you cain’t cook to save your life,” Dedede said, “So if you don’t wanna live off cheap take-out for the rest of the week…”

 

Meta Knight’s jaw nearly dropped, and with a victorious grin, Dedede patted his cheek. 

 

“That isn’t fair,” Meta Knight said.

 

Dedede shrugged. “Sucks to be you, then.”

 

Sometimes, Meta Knight thought Dedede knew him entirely too well.

Chapter Text

It has to be me, Sir Arthur.

 

Jecra’s blond hair was matted, caked with mud, and stuck up in every direction. Dried blood cracked along the side of his face, and his clothes were torn so badly that it was a miracle they were even still holding together. It was his first knightly quest, one that was supposed to be a simple find-missing-children-and-save-them-from-the-demonbeast. Unfortunately, it had turned into a village-elders-are-trafficking-the-children-of-poor-people-and-scapegoating-this-outcast-in-the-woods sort of mission.

 

“Garlude!” Jecra exclaimed, absolutely beaming. “Look! I found a new Star Warrior! This is Meta Knight!”

 

Jecra enthusiastically pushed forward a dark blue puffball, who looked as bad—if not worse—than Jecra did. And although the puffball shivered from exhaustion and anxiety, Garlude saw only his eyes. They were the brightest possible gold, holding the radiance of the sun and the calmness of the moon and the fire and sacredness and warmth and light of the Golden Lady’s own sacred forge.

 

“We don’t know if I’m a Star Warrior,” the puffball replied awkwardly.

 

He didn’t feel right. Garlude, herself, wasn’t a Star Warrior, but she knew what Star Warriors felt like. This puffball wasn’t enough of some indescribable, nameless thing that Garlude had felt dozens of times. He was a tangle of stardust and dark magic, two forces that should have torn one another asunder, but somehow, they had found balance in this—

 

This boy, really. This puffball was no older than Jecra, who was barely at the cusp of adulthood.

 

“Sure, you are!” Jecra replied, winking. “No need to be so modest, pretty knight!”

 

And Jecra must’ve felt it. He must’ve known that Meta Knight felt wrong, and yet Jecra laughed and smiled and flirted so easily.

 

When Meta Knight looked directly at her, Garlude saw all her doubts reflected in his face. Even if Jecra didn’t know Meta Knight was wrong or broken or torn apart and stitched together like some sort of perverse ragdoll of light and darkness, starlight and shadows, Meta Knight knew it.

 

And Garlude knew at the moment that she had found the Golden Lady’s champion.

 


 

 

I know Meta Knight is to be her wielder, but I was one of Galaxia’s priestesses.

 

Garlude’s life was one of light and goodness. She lived in the Golden Lady’s temple, promising her chastity, her life, and her loyalty, to the Golden Lady. While some maidens struggled with this choice, Garlude never had. She had never desired a man, and the only woman she desired was an unreachable, celestial being.

 

Garlude was never entirely sure when her devotion to the Golden Lady became love to the Golden Lady, but Garlude nevertheless replicated all the courting rituals that she would have performed for anyone else. She wrote poetry in hackneyed meter and softly sang her words at the foot of the Golden Lady’s pedestal, where her blade rested and always caught the light of the sun and stars.

 

And one day, Garlude approached the pedestal, and light burst into the room like a diamond shattering. The Golden Lady stood before her. She looked like a member of Garlude’s own race and had draped herself in cloth of gold. Her eyes were soft and kind and the color of rubies, deep and radiant.

 

Hello, the Lady whispered.

 

Garlude tried to swallow past the lump in her throat, and when she failed to speak, the Golden Lady laughed.

 

My dear, I love you, too, the Lady said. Doesn’t it seem right that we should finally meet?

 

And warmth burst into Garlude’s chest. She nodded hastily, so happy that she scarcely understood how she could hold the strength of such feelings within her. Never had she imagined that the Golden Lady would look so luminous, so beautiful, so utterly human. So perfect.

 


 

I have a duty to protect her as she protected me.

 

Garlude was a young woman when the Golden Lady’s sacred sword was stolen and her priestesses all slain, save for Garlude who had—by chance—been away. With tears branding her cheeks, Garlude watched her home blaze, embers rising into the sky. Her gaze was drawn to a glimpse of gold, the Lady watching. Garlude struggled for words. She wanted to scream and cry and hurt the Lady for not doing more, for not saving everyone, but the Lady’s face gave Garlude pause.

 

Never before had Garlude seen such despair in the face of another living being. The Golden Lady was hurt, too.

 

The Lady walked to Garlude’s side. She offered soft smiles and gentle caresses, which Garlude accepted with hitching breaths and fresh tears.

 

I am so sorry, my beloved, the Golden Lady whispered. Had this been in my power to prevent, I promise I would have. The best I could do was send you away and hope that you survived. I may twist the strands of fate, but I may not weave them. I may delay the inevitable for a season or two but nothing more.

 

Of course, she would have prevented it if she could have. Garlude knew it, and she wept harder with the admission. The Golden Lady was sacred, but she was not all-powerful, and without her wielder, she was incapable to striking down the dark forces as she had in centuries before.

 

“I love you,” Garlude whispered reverently.

 

And I, you, the Golden Lady replied. My dearest Garlude.

 

For a long time, Garlude stood and sobbed and let the Golden Lady hold her. Eventually, Garlude knew she would have to leave, but in that moment, she just wanted to be held by the one she loved most of all. And later, Garlude would realize what the Golden Lady had meant by delay the inevitable, and Garlude would realize with dawning dread that she was meant to be dead and that Death would come. And the noble Golden Lady would be able to thwart Death’s cold touch as she once had.

 


 

 

I know that I will likely die on this quest. I have seen it in my dreams.

 

The Golden Lady’s face was sad, her red irises carrying a depth of pain the Garlude would have thought impossible. Garlude had seen this pain only once before, when the Lady’s sacred abbey burned. They didn’t need to exchange any words; Garlude could sense what was coming. She had escaped death before because of the Lady’s gracious hand, but the Lady could not thwart Death forever.

 

My dearest, I shall see you once your time is done, the Lady said. You will join your kin in the stars, and I shall always delight in your warmth and light.

 

Garlude drew in a deep, steadying breath as her Lady’s hand caressed her hair so tenderly. “Does it have to be him?” Garlude asked.

 

Why can’t it be me?

 

Yes, the Lady murmured, her beautiful face pinching in sorrow. “Destiny has woven a web about him, and even I have no power over such things. If Meta Knight has no companion, he will die. I know I ask a high price of you, my dear heart.

 

Sometimes, it seemed incomprehensible that the sacred Golden Lady would be incapable of anything, but Garlude understood the gravity of the Lady’s words. The Lady would never lie. 

 


 

But I love Meta Knight, and I love Galaxia.

 

Sometimes, Garlude watched Meta Knight and Jecra, who was forever around. They grew closer over the years. Jecra’s touches grew less friendly and became more intimate, more communicative. Jecra learned to speak entire sentences with the way his thumb brushed against Meta Knight’s armor or flesh. And Garlude watched as Jecra slowly coaxed Meta Knight out of his coldness and shyness, chipping away at his ice until Meta Knight blossomed like an iris after the last frost of winter.

 

And maybe Garlude began to love him, too. Some nights, Garlude would find him staring at the stars; Meta Knight never seemed to tire of them.

 

“How are you, Meta?” Garlude asked one night, as Meta Knight’s gaze remained fixed on the winter sky.

 

“I’m well,” he replied. “Just thinking. Do you ever feel like the stars are calling for you?”

 

“I think all Star Warriors feel that.”

 

Meta Knight shook his head. “No,” he said. “Literally calling for you. Actual voices.”

 

Garlude grew very still. Meta Knight’s bluntness had snapped something deep inside her. Noting her silence, Meta Knight’s gaze met hers. “I never said anything,” he said carefully. “Not to Father, not to Jecra. But I have always heard her.”

 

“Her?” Garlude whispered.

 

And although Garlude knew the name before he spoke it, Meta Knight’s answer still shattered her world.

 

“Galaxia,” Meta Knight said, gently and reverently. “But that doesn’t make sense. That’s just galaxy in another language.”

 

Galaxy and so much more.

 


 

Therefore, Sir Arthur, allow me to join Meta Knight in retrieving the sacred sword Galaxia, so that I may serve my beloved, golden lady one last time.

Chapter Text

Yin-Yarn the Sorcerer was utterly baffled. This wasn’t the first time he’d made a living being with his powers, but this was the first one to look so solid. Slowly, the wizard reached out and poked the puff…bat…ball-thing’s cheek. The creature felt like velvet and squeaked at the wizard’s touch.

 

“Huh,” Yin-Yarn said.

 

The creature looked a lot like a plush toy, save–perhaps–for the tiny pair of bat-like wings perched on its back. A tiny stream of ‘poyo’s’ emerged from the plush-bat-ball-thing’s mouth. How…cute. And child-like. 

 

A baby. Yin-Yarn had made a baby. Yin-Yarn didn’t know anything about babies and had never made a baby before. Slowly, the thought of raising this tiny, fragile thing sank in, and Yin-Yarn laughed anxiously as the plush-bat crawled away. “You…er…baby, come back?” Yin-Yarn said, scooping the baby into his arms.

 

This couldn’t be too hard, though, right? Feed it. Keep it warm. Love it.

 

Yin-Yarn had never really loved anything before, but it wasn’t like the baby would be smart enough to notice it wasn’t love, right? Or did babies have some sort of internal love detector? Yin-Yarn gulped and cautiously turned the baby towards him. The baby’s silver eyes shined like starlight. “Poyo!”

 

“I love you, small child!” Yin-Yarn declared.

 

Declaration of love. Step one accomplished. 

 

Step two. Keep the baby warm.

 

This one was easy. Yin-Yarn set the baby down and began knitting as fast as his magical knitting needles could manage. He knitted scarves and hats and mittens and muffs and booties. Soon, there was a massive pile of silvery-white knitted creations (Wool yarn, of course. Acrylic yarn, the cheap, scratchy trash, would not do for Yin-Yarn’s baby.). Satisfied, Yin-Yarn eased two different hats, a scarf, booties, and mittens onto the small child. The child immediately fell backwards, taken down by the weight of the yarn.

 

“Looks like you’re down for the count, little ragdoll!” Yin-Yarn exclaimed, laughing again.

 

The child waddled up and fell down again. Up once more and down again. Yin-Yarn felt an inkling of admiration for the creature’s tenacity and unwound the scarf from its neck. This seemed to be enough, for it toddled up and resumed crawling around the wizard’s hideout.

 

Yin-Yarn hummed to himself. No, this wouldn’t be hard at all; he decided.

 

That was until the small child discovered Yin-Yarn’s sword. While he wasn’t much of a swordsman, Yin-Yarn was something of a kleptomaniac, and he had a whole assortment of stolen items–some less useful than others. Of course, Yin-Yarn, while having no experience with children, did realize that a small child having access to a sharp, bladed weapon was a Very, Very Bad Thing™. So he hid it. The child found it again. And again. 

 

“What is wrong with you?” Yin-Yarn whispered, as he tore the sword from the baby’s paws for the billionth time. 

 

Yin-Yarn started wearing the sword. Then, he’d know if the baby went for it again. And finally, one day, it dawned on Yin-Yarn what might have happened. He’d been trying to create a knight. Knights used swords. Despite not being the fearsome creature Yin-Yarn had anticipated, this baby seemed to have some compulsion to be a knight.

 

Strange. 

 

“Knighty Knight. Knight-Night,” Yin-Yarn went through a steam of punny names for the creature, which–with a flash of genuine embarrassment–Yin-Yarn realized he’d forgotten to name.

 

Oblivious, the small creature toddled to Yin-Yarn, babbling all the while. “Poyo poy poy ma-men ma poy met a…”

 

Yin-Yarn cracked a grin. “Have you ever met a knight?” Yin-Yarn asked, chuckling.

 

Suddenly, Yin-Yarn gasped. He had the absolute perfect, most meta, punniest name for this small plush-bat-boy. Overcome with enthusiasm, Yin-Yarn swept the baby in his arms and hugged it. “You are going to be Meta Knight now,” Yin-Yarn said, “My dear, little ragdoll!”

 

And completely oblivious, the baby puffball babbled on.

 

Chapter Text

“I think you should join the family business,” the wizard purred. “You’d be a good fit for it. You have fire--just like your dear father.”

 

Knuckle Joe stared at the wizard, who was...well, okay. There was no way of cutting it. The wizard was an unattractive man. Not just, like, average or not handsome. Like, unfortunately, painfully hideous. Haunted house and horror film serial killer hideous.

 

“Who in Nova’s name are you, ugly?” Knuckle Joe asked.

 

Tact wasn’t really his strong suit.

 

“I,” the wizard said, with a grand sweep of his cape, “Am the Nightmare Wizard!”

 

Knuckle Joe glanced at his surroundings—a monochromatic forest—which suddenly made more sense now that the wizard had revealed his identity. He was dreaming. Okay. “Yeah?” Knuckle Joe asked, wrinkling his nose. “Is that why you look so...creepy?”

 

The wizard’s jaw clenched. “There’s that adolescent wit,” the Nightmare Wizard said. “Your father had it, also.”

 

“How would you know?”

 

The Nightmare Wizard reached out with a bony, spider-like finger and tapped Knuckle Joe’s nose. “Why, dear boy,” the Nightmare Wizard said. His voice gave Knuckle Joe pause; it was soft and beguiling in a strange, indescribable way. It was as if the mortal mind could barely comprehend the power in the wizard’s soft, dark tone.

 

“What?” Knuckle Joe asked.

 

The wizard’s lips curved into a smile. “Your father was my favorite demonbeast, and his death did wound me so. Just as it did you. So tell me, little warrior, wouldn’t you like to have vengeance upon the man who slew your beloved father?”

 


 

 

Meta Knight’s blade was at Jecra’s throat. Time seemed to stretch into infinity around them, and there was something strangely intimate in the way that Meta Knight’s blade remained just a hairsbreadth from drawing Jecra’s blood. More frighteningly, Jecra knew that—if Meta Knight wanted to draw blood—he would’ve. But it wasn’t just the blade at his throat. It wasn’t even that Meta Knight stood so close that Jecra could feel the puffball’s breath and the heat from his body. No, it was that Jecra, the Nightmare Wizard’s most notorious demonbeast, wasn’t supposed to have a heart, but the feeling that Jecra felt could’ve only been heartbreak. 

 

“Meta Knight,” Jecra choked on his name. “Let me explain.”

 

Meta Knight’s eyes were the color of rubies and just as hard. “Was it a lie?” Meta Knight asked. “Were you just pretending in order to get close to me?”

 

“No, Meta Knight, I love you,” Jecra said.  

 

Meta Knight’s eyes shifted through a spectrum of colors, and tentatively, Jecra raised a hand and curled it around the blade of Meta Knight’s silver arming sword.

 

“Come on, Blueberry. I wanted to tell you so badly, but I knew you’d be upset. I just needed more time.”

 

Meta Knight’s shoulders slumped, and Jecra very carefully lowered the sword. Its tip struck the ground, and Meta Knight stared at it, a soft daze coming over his yellow eyes. Jecra moved slowly and patted the top of Meta Knight’s head. “Please, forgive me,” Jecra said.

 

Meta Knight’s laugh was watery. “Don’t I always?”

 


  

Nightmare shrank in size upon seeing Customer Service, dutifully seated before his computer monitors and phone. With a melodramatic sigh, Nightmare sank into the plush, velvet loveseat nearby. When Customer Service didn’t react, Nightmare sighed very loudly. He would not be ignored, but he also wasn't going to demand attention. He shouldn't have to. He was the Nightmare Wizard, the conqueror of galaxies, and the least his underlings could do was pay attention to him without having to be asked.

 

Finally, Customer Service turned around. “What’s got you so down in the dumps, my most terrible dark lord and master?”

 

“Jecra’s little brat refuses to join the family business,” Nightmare replied, throwing a dramatic arm over his face. "I wanted him to murder Bat-boy into a pulp. Or at least, Kirby. But he wouldn't. Now, they're...besties."

 

“Ah, Knuckle Joe,” Customer Service replied, emitting a wicked laugh. “Perhaps, we ought to send him a monster? We might be able to persuade him otherwise.”

  

“That’s a thought,” Nightmare said. “I just don’t understand how anyone could refuse my generous offer.”

 

“Teenagers,” Customer Service said.

 

“They’re so terrible,” Nightmare replied, pinching the bridge of his nose. “He’s a lot like his father, though.”

 

Just as infuriating. Just as disobedient, powerful, and defiant. It would take a lot of work to get Knuckle Joe to come to heel, but Nightmare was confident that his efforts would be rewarded. “Maybe,” the wizard said slowly, “I just need to make a list of all the wonderful benefits of working for my glorious self.”

 

“You tried that with Meta—”

 

Nightmare grimaced. He had tried that with Meta Knight, and the ungrateful brat had set the list ablaze with Galaxia's sacred fire. The uncultured swine had no appreciation for hard work.

 

Nightmare waved dismissively. “Meta Knight is clearly a plebian with no taste. I am certain that Knuckle Joe will not be the same.”

 


 

 

Meta Knight returned with the sword of legend, a shining blade of incomparable power. The knight’s eyes were dull and yellow, lacking their usual star-like brilliance. His sabatons clicked over the soft grass leading to the base’s entrance.

   

“Garlude isn’t with him,” Sir Arthur observed from the battlements.

 

No, she wasn’t. And Meta Knight looked worse for the wear.

 

“I’ll go greet him,” Jecra said, his voice raw.

 

Sir Arthur nodded vaguely, so Jecra headed down the battlements and outside the base. When Meta Knight saw him, he stopped and stood very still. Ice settled in Jecra’s veins, and he slowed his pace. As he approached, Meta Knight lowered his head and squeezed his eyes closed.

 

“Blueberry,” Jecra said quietly, hoping the old pet name might bring some life back to his friend.

 

The only friend he might have left. Garlude hadn’t returned, and the reality of that was beginning to sink in and slowly settle.

 

“She’s gone,” Meta Knight replied. “I didn’t…I tried my best. I…I…”

 

Jecra gently touched the edge of Meta Knight’s mask. When he did, Meta Knight’s eyes snapped open; they were a dull, flat gray.

 

Jecra’s heart ached. When he embraced Meta Knight, someone—maybe Jecra, maybe both of them—shuddered. Jecra felt the warmth of Meta Knight’s breath and the wetness of the few tears that slipped from beneath his mask. “I’m sorry,” Meta Knight whispered. “I’m sorry. I—”

 

“You didn’t do anything wrong,” Jecra replied. “I’m happy I didn’t lose you, too.”

 


 

 

The Nightmare Wizard had made himself grow three times larger than normal. As he loomed over Knuckle Joe, lightning crackled in the sky behind the wizard’s skeletal form. Once more, they were in the spooky forest with skeletal-thin trees and dark shadows. Clearly, Nightmare wasn’t very good with variety. It made Knuckle Joe wonder who created the designs for all the different demonbeasts. It seemed like the Nightmare Wizard was only capable of making horror movie sets. “So you couldn’t do it, hm?” Nightmare asked, putting a finger to his chin. “Well, I suppose that’s to be expected. Your father didn’t want to kill Meta Knight at first either. But we both see how that worked out in the end, don’t we?”

  

Knuckle Joe rubbed a finger over his nose. “I’m not going to kill Meta Knight,” he said. “I’m not a monster like you.”

 

“Or like your dear father?” Nightmare asked.

 

“You don’t know anything about my dad!”

 

“I created him, dear boy,” Nightmare replied, “And someday, you’re going to follow in his footsteps. Despite what you may believe, there are many benefits to joining the family business.”

 

Nightmare snapped his fingers. A massive list appeared, floating before his hands. It unrolled like Saint Knight’s naughty or nice list and bounced over the ground at Knuckle Joe’s feet.

 

“Like being known throughout the galaxy as Lord Pointy-Chin?” Knuckle Joe asked. “Great. That’s what I’ve always wanted.”

 

Nightmare clenched his jaw and curled his fingers into the list. “Like unlimited power.”

 

“Unless you’re facing Kirby,” Knuckle Joe replied, swiping his finger across his nose once more.

 

Nightmare smiled tightly. “Sometimes, you must sacrifice a few pawns to win the game. I really think that you’re missing an incredible—”

 

“Your face looks like an incredible opportunity. An incredible opportunity to traumatize little kids.”

 

The Nightmare Wizard scowled and bared his teeth.

 

"And a terrible dental plan, apparently."

 

"Our dental plans are exemplary."

 

Knuckle Joe sighed and rolled his eyes. "Whatever, Grandpa. Just take me home."

 


 

 

Everything was lined with a thick, foggy layer of pain. Galaxia's wounds were deep and burned at the edges. Jecra drew in a sharp breath. Meta Knight knelt before him, his eyes their familiar and brilliant gold. "You aren't dying," Meta Knight said.

 

They both knew he was.

 

Jecra pressed the locket into Meta Knight's paw. "My son," Jecra said. "When the war is over, you'll find him, won't you?"

 

Meta Knight swallowed. "What if the war never ends?" he asked.

 

Jecra smiled crookedly. "You're not going to be fighting forever, Blueberry. Eventually, my father will meet his match."

 

Meta Knight squeezed Jecra's paw so hard that it hurt. "Jecra..."

 

"I love you, Meta Knight," Jecra murmured.

 

"I love you, too."

 

Jecra winced and forced his breath steady. He felt faint. "Of course, you do."

 

"I'll do it," Meta Knight added. "I'll find your son once the war ends and we've beaten Nightmare. Even if it takes a hundred years, a thousand years, an eternity. I promise."

 

Jecra's lips twitched. "I know."

 


 

 

 

"Sooo," Knuckle Joe drew out the word.

 

The young star warrior skipped beside the knight of Dreamland, who continued his steady pace wrapped in his cape. "Yes?"

 

"Lord Pointy-Chin has been trying to get me to join the family business," Knuckle Joe said.

 

"Perhaps, there is something we can do," Meta Knight replied. "This is troubling."

 

Knuckle Joe snorted. "Oh, please. His masculinity is so fragile I could knock it over with a flick of my fingers. I can handle him."

 

Meta Knight's eyes flashed bright green. "I see."

 

"Yeah, but anyway, he's told me a lot of interesting things while trying to persuade me to join his Darkliness or whatever," Knuckle Joe said, watching Meta Knight very closely.

 

"Like what?"

 

"Like the fact that you thought my dad was smoking."

 

Meta Knight choked. 

 

Knuckle Joe smirked. Maybe he wasn't going to join the family business, but that didn't mean he still couldn't reap the benefits.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Nightmare woke slowly and with a splitting headache. 

 

“He’s coming around.” A gruff, clearly fake voice.

 

Nightmare yawned and moved reflexively to cover his mouth, but something sharp and tight prevented him from lifting his wrist. Slowly, the wizard looked down. He sat in a metal chair, bolted to the floor, with his wrists and ankles bound to the chair with cable ties.

 

A hand grasped Nightmare’s hair and forced his head back. Nightmare looked into a pair of blue eyes and a ski mask. Oh, joy. Nightmare frowned and tried to think back what he remembered. Warm lighting, red wine, and–

 

And Meta Knight.

 

The memories came more quickly after that. It’d been their first dinner together after Nightmare had wakened from being possessed by an eldritch entity for over a decade. It had been important.

 

“Behave yourself, and we won’t kill you. It’s nothing personal, Nocturne, but I figure we’d get a nice ransom for you,” the man growled.

 

His voice sounded too-gruff and obviously fake, too.

 

“I see.”

 

Nightmare still felt his magic. Odd. Any competent ransomer would surely have made sure to suppress Nightmare’s magic. Oh, no.

 

Not only had Nightmare been possibly drugged and held for ransom, but he’d been held for ransom by a bunch of incompetent thugs. Nightmare began to feel vaguely offended.

 

“Unless you want to call your bank and transfer some funds,” the man growled.

 

“Do you honestly believe I’ve memorized my bank account numbers?” Nightmare asked, taking efforts to sound as bored as possible.

 

The man released Nightmare’s hair and strode away. 

 

Nightmare saw there was five of them. Not that it made much of a difference. Nightmare had his powers; he could dispatch them in about six seconds. Easy.

 

“You’re more confident than a man in your position should be,” another man growled.

 

Nightmare rolled his eyes. “Oh, please,” he said. “Don’t you know who I am? I’m not remotely threatened by you.”

 

“We’ll see how calm you are when we’re carving up your son’s face,” one of them snarled.

 

And for Nightmare Nocturne, that was the final straw.

 

“You have my son?” Nightmare asked. 

 

Emboldened, one of the men laughed. “We do,” he said, “And if you don’t comply we’ll–”

 

“Torture him?” Nightmare asked. “Can I watch? I could use some entertainment.”

 

A beat.

 

“What?”

 

“You heard me,” Nightmare replied, shrugging as best as he could. “I don’t care. Bring him here.”

 

One of the thugs, who Nightmare thought might be the leader, pointed to another one. “I know you’re bluffing, Nocturne. Go ahead and get the brat.”

 

One man left, and Nightmare tilted his chin up and smiled. “Well,” Nightmare said, silently calling his magic to him, “It’s been very entertaining, gentlemen.”

 

The remaining men fell to the floor with a series of satisfying thunks. Within a few minutes, they were all fast asleep and having some truly impressive nightmares. Two of them thrashed. Another screamed. Nightmare sighed. “Amateurs,” he muttered.

 

Since the thug was going to bring Meta Knight to him anyway, Nightmare figured he might as well wait. That would save him the trouble of blindly wandering around…wherever he was. And really, he was beginning to feel a little sorry for these men. It must be hard being so incompetent and unprepared. Sure, Nightmare being bound to a chair didn’t make things even, but it made them a little fairer. A very, very minuscule amount.

 

Within a few minutes, Nightmare felt the tell-tale spark of Meta Knight’s magic. The wizard straightened, prepared to wreak unholy vengeance upon the man bringing his son to him, but Meta Knight entered alone. He looked at Nightmare. Then, at the criminals on the floor.

 

Meta Knight gingerly stepped around the injured thugs and to his father’s side.

 

“Oh, Nova’s grace, dearest!” Nightmare exclaimed. “It was so horrifying!”

 

Meta Knight arched an eyebrow and gestured to the thugs laying on the concrete floor, some of them screaming or thrashing in their sleep.

 

Really, Father?”

 

Nightmare shrugged. “Their incompetence was horrifying,” he sniffed. “I expect better from people trying to hold me for ransom. I see you overpowered the man who was sent to fetch you. Did he hurt you?”

 

“No. I…uh, had assumed the room I was being held in had a couple traps,” Meta Knight replied. “It…didn’t, so when that man came to get me, I sent him into another dimension.”

 

Nightmare’s face brightened. “Ooh, which one?”

 

“The Mirror World,” Meta Knight replied. “I doubt there’s little worse than being Dark’s guest.”

 

“That’s my boy,” Nightmare said, nodding approvingly.

 

Meta Knight smiled almost shyly and dropped to his knees, making quick work of the cable ties around his father’s ankles. “Thank you, dearest,” Nightmare replied.

 

One of the men near Nightmare’s feet screamed, and Nightmare nonchalantly kicked him.

 

“I already called A.M.B.E.R. on my way to find you,” Meta Knight said.

 

“But we had it handled,” Nightmare protested.

 

“That doesn’t mean we just ignore the ransomers,” Meta Knight scoffed, cutting his father free. “We have to call the proper authorities.”

 

Nightmare sniffed and blinked several times.

 

“Are you trying to make yourself cry?” Meta Knight asked.

 

“I’m just devastated, Meta Knight,” Nightmare replied. “Back in my day, ransomers knew what they were doing.”

 

“Have you been held ransom often?” Meta Knight asked, genuinely curious.

 

Nightmare stood and ran his hands down Meta Knight’s shoulders, reassuring himself that his son really was fine. “Once before this,” Nightmare replied.

 

“And how did you get out of it?”

 

Nightmare grinned. “I’ll tell you over ice cream.”

Chapter Text

Magolor nonchalantly flipped a page in his book and pretended not to notice Marx leveling a death glare in his direction. “You can stop now,” Marx said. “It isn’t funny anymore, Mags.”

 

Magolor gave an affected tilt of his head, feigning like he hadn’t understood the remark. “No comprendo,” Magolor replied. “Lo siento, Marx.”

 

Marx’s right eye twitched. Magolor smirked.

 

When Marx had come into the apartment, half-worked into a panic because he’d realized that he was too close to failing Introductory Halcandran, he’d asked Magolor to talk to him only in Halcandran. Force him to learn, Marx had said. Of course, Marx had quickly tired of fumbling through with all his answers, but Magolor hadn’t realized just how much fun it would be to torment Marx with his self-enforced language barrier. Magolor wondered if Meta Knight ever took advantage of his bilingualism this way. Probably not. What a goody two shoes.

 

Marx stuck his tongue out and flipped through the pages of his Dreamlandic-Halcandran dictionary with such unnecessary force that one page ripped at the corner. “Tú estar…”

 

Flip, flip, flip.

 

“Un sacudir,” Marx concluded.

 

Magolor shook with barely contained laughter. “Muy horrible,” Magolor said, taking care to roll his ‘r’s with an excessive amount of zeal.

 

“Tú estas un sacudira,” Marx said.

 

Magolor smirked. 

 

“I hate you,” Marx said. “How do I say that in your language?”

 

Flip, flip, flip. 

 

“Conozco tú odiar. Odio…odias…” Marx trailed off.

 

“Te odio,” Magolor said helpfully.

 

“Te odio,” Marx echoed. “Te…”

 

Magolor arched an eyebrow. 

 

“Conozco te…” Marx trailed off and waved a dismissive hand. 

 

“Would you like me to walk you through those verb conjugations once more?” Magolor asked.

 

Marx tossed the dictionary into the kitchen, clearly not caring where it landed. “Nova, yes,” he said. “I just need a C.”

 

Magolor smiled wryly. He really had his work cut out for him.

 

 

Chapter Text

When Dedede woke, Meta Knight was gone. Slowly, the self-proclaimed king of Dreamland sat upright and rubbed a paw across his eyes. He stifled a yawn and looked around. The fire was still lit, and its warm glow cast shadows over Susie and Kirby, both asleep beneath blankets. Dedede closed his eyes and listened for a second to the soft roar of the nearby ocean. It was no mystery where Meta Knight had gone.

 

Dedede quietly walked through the sand and to the ocean. A flash of gold split the darkness, Meta Knight looking to see who was approaching him. Seeing Dedede, the knight’s eyes softened, and he turned back to the ocean.

 

Once Dedede reached Meta Knight, the king stood silently for a moment. 

 

“You should rest,” Meta Knight said. “It isn’t your turn for watch. Haltmann is next.”

 

“I know, but when I got up, my most favoritest knight was gone. You okay, sugar dumpling?”

 

“Fine.”

 

“Take yer mask off.”

 

Meta Knight flinched. “I…” he trailed off. “She might see.”

 

“Susie is sleepin’. She ain’t gonna get up just to come over here.”

 

Meta Knight slowly raised his paws to his face and removed the mask. Without his armor, Meta Knight looked softer and more vulnerable. Dedede brushed his thumb over one of Meta Knight’s blush-marks. “You upset ‘cause of what happened?” Dedede asked.

 

Meta Knight’s paws fidgeted with the edges of his mask. He nodded sharply. “I just–I don’t like feeling weak, but I can’t help it. Not when I’m…” he trailed off.

 

The pengu king sat and extended an arm. Indecision flickered across Meta Knight’s face, but he eventually moved into Dedede’s embrace. “You ain’t weak,” Dedede replied, squeezing the puffball at his side.

 

“But–“

 

“All o’ us fell to the Jamba Heart. That ain’t nothin’ to be ashamed of, little knight.”

 

“I’m not a knight. A knight would protect his liege.”

 

Dedede sighed. “But y’do protect me,” he said.

 

Meta Knight shook his head.

 

“You look after my heart, Meta. You make me happy. Protectin’ someone ain’t jus’ goin’ out and fighting for ‘em. Y’know when we’re at peace, you ain’t fightin’ no one. That don’t make you less of a knight.”

 

“You have too much faith in me.”

 

“Naw, you ain’t got enough in yourself,” Dedede replied, rubbing his cheek against the top of Meta Knight’s head.

 

Meta Knight smiled. “Thank you,” he said.

 

“Any time, doll-face,” Dedede replied. “I cain’t wait till this all done, an’ we get to go home and snuggle good and proper.”

 

Your Majesty.”

 

“Under ‘bout three blankets,” Dedede continued.

 

Meta Knight rolled his eyes and rubbed his cheek against Dedede’s royal robes. “Four,” he said. “At least.”

 

Dedede grinned. “Four. At least.”

Chapter Text

The Autumnal Equinox wasn’t exactly the Winter Solstice or Saint Knight’s Day, but it was still pretty high on the important holidays list. It was a day of feasting and family and–for Meta Knight–a day that he absolutely hated. It wasn’t that Meta Knight hated food or his family. It was just that Meta Knight’s family was…well, they were fine when it was just a couple of them, but when they were all together was another matter entirely. Without fail, Meta Knight’s father Nightmare Nocturne ended up in passive-aggressive fights with everyone else there. Asteria, Meta Knight’s mom, and Kristiana, the mother of Meta Knight’s half-brother Kirby, had a bitter and long-standing rivalry, and everyone knew it. Every year, at least one person threatened to call the police.

 

Still, Meta Knight had hesitated to ask his father if he could skip the yearly feast. Even though Meta Knight was sixteen, he felt as though he’d somehow missed out on his rebellious adolescent phase, and he’d always been one of those children who really, really wanted to please his parents. Meta Knight had spent hours rehearsing his request, and when the moment came, Meta Knight rambled it out, his composure crumbling with every word. He’d waited with bated breath as Nightmare took a sip of his coffee and pressed his lips together. “Well,” Nightmare had said, “I do suppose Autumnal dinner is stressful for a child your age. Mm, kleine Fledermaus? I don’t see a problem with you attending your boyfriend’s dinner.”

 

Father, he isn’t my boyfriend,” Meta Knight had replied.

 

Nightmare chuckled, clearly unconvinced. But Meta Knight counted it as a victory. He had, after all, gotten approval to join Dedede Novatrix and his family for the Autumnal Equinox. And all had went well. Because Dedede lived far away from the boarding school he and Meta Knight attended, the boys had taken the train all the way from Dreamland’s diverse and sprawling capital to the Duchy of the Stars, a backwater part of the country with a lot of trees and only a few thousand people in the whole region. Meta Knight had arrived at the Novatrix residence, a modest one-story house, and taken his coat off. Underneath, he’d worn a custom-made sweater with a back that was open, save for three criss-crossed laces that were held together with silver snaps. Most of Meta Knight’s shirts were custom-made. They had to be in order to accommodate his massive wings.

 

Dedede’s mom was a large woman with blonde-brown hair and the same love-me blue eyes as her son. Meta Knight swallowed. “Hello, ma–madam. Ma’am!” Meta Knight greeted, scrambling over the language.

 

Meta Knight’s first language and the one he spoke at home was Traumwaldian, and although he spoke fluent Dreamlandic, he tended to mix his languages up when he was nervous.

 

Dedede’s mom only smiled. “Please, call me Delilah,” she said. “Ain’t you a sweetheart? An’ I love yer sense of fashion! How unique!”

 

Was it? Meta Knight wore jeans, sneakers, and a sweater. Maybe she meant his choker? Or his blue hair? That was probably it.

 

“Thank you,” Meta Knight replied.

 

Delilah smiled and invited Meta Knight to make himself at home, so after all the greetings were done, Meta Knight followed Dedede into his room. Meta Knight had never seen it before, but it still fit what he would have expected. Pale blue walls covered with a collage of posters, red blankets on his bed to match a couple of red shag rugs on the wood floor. A red desk, overflowing with papers and books.

 

“This is nice,” Meta Knight said.

 

“Thanks!” Dedede replied, plopping onto the bed. “I’m glad ya finally got to come over!”

 

“Me, too,” Meta Knight said, smiling. “Your mother surprised me, though. I’d expected a bigger reaction from the wings.”

 

Like Dedede, who had initially yelled and pointed the first time he’d seen Meta Knight.

 

Dedede abruptly sat upright. “Meta,” he said, “Ya don’t think she thought yer wings were…like, some kinda costume, do ya? Like somethin’ you bought at Hot Topic?”

 

Meta Knight’s eyes widened. “No,” he said slowly. “That’s not…”

 

Unique. Delilah thought his wings were fake.

 

 

Chapter Text

Surprisingly, this wasn’t the first time Dedede had woken up tied to a chair. He groaned, pain shooting through his skull. Hair. He was tied to the chair with hair. Long, sleek, and blond. That was admittedly a first. Dedede swore softly and gazed around him. It was all dark and stone. 

 

“Wer sind Sie?” a voice asked.

 

And what a voice it was! A soft and dark baritone that conjured images of night skies and cold winters. 

 

“What?”

 

From the shadows, two glowing, gold eyes appeared. Dedede’s heart pounded loudly, reverberating in his ears. He waited, expecting a monster or dark wizard to appear. Instead, a young man stepped from the shadows. Oh. He was handsome, too! His face was soft and gentle, his skin a warm autumn-brown. He was dressed in a simple dark blue shirt and black trousers. And he had a sword. 

 

“Wer sind Sie?” the man insisted.

 

Ah, Traumwaldian. It was a very provincial, backwater language. A definite sign that Dedede was dealing with a country bumpkin, albeit one who apparently really cared about his hair.

 

The tip of the sword was placed under Dedede’s chin, forcing it up. “I cain’t understand you,” Dedede replied, tipping his head back and as far away from the blade as he could.

 

When the other man wasn’t hiding in the shadows, he wasn’t  nearly as imposing. He was actually sort of adorable. And he’d probably been so lonely in that tower all by himself. Dedede smirked. He was good at getting people to do things for him.

 

“Who are you?”

 

So he did speak Dreamlandic. Perfect.

 

“Name’s Dedede,” he said, flashing a grin. “Nice to meet ya. Sorry for, uh, breakin’ in and startlin’ you. It weren’t my intention.”

 

“I see.”

 

The sword lowered slightly. Perfect. Time to turn on the charm. Dedede tilted his head back, flipping his hair. “So what’s yer name?”

 

“I know what you’re doing. You desire my name, so it will give you power over me.”

 

“Naw, ain’t nothin’ like that, sugar dumpling. Jus’ being friendly.”

 

“That is precisely what a foul creature desiring my name would say.”

 

Dedede laughed heartily. “But I done gave you my name, blondie. Don’t that give ya power over me?”

 

He hesitated. “That is not your concern.”

 

“We seem to be at some kinda impasse, then,” Dedede said. “What I gotta do to getcha to let me go?”

 

Indecision. Something akin to embarrassment. Both things that could be exploited. 

 

“Talk to me, blondie. Whatcha need?”

 

The gold eyes brightened. “I want to see the ocean.”

 

“The…the ocean?”

 

Dedede’s mind went in several different directions, trying to decide how to play this. He was already traveling towards the Orange Ocean anyway, hoping to steal the tiara that had once belonged to his noble mother. Blondie probably wouldn’t be much help but as a distraction…

 

“I’ve always wanted to see the ocean, but Father won’t take me.”

 

Well, it jus’ so happens that I’m in the market for a new servant,” Dedede said.

 

“A servant?”

 

“It’ll be loads of fun,” Dedede said. “See; I’m disenfranchised royalty. It’s a pretty good set-up. For you. What d’you say?”

 

“Royalty?”

 

Excitement. A brightening to his face.

 

“Yeah, I’m a disinherited prince. Romantic, huh?” Dedede asked.

 

The sword was sheathed. The young man carefully untangled his hair from around Dedede, at one point putting his knee on the chair between Dedede’s legs and coaxing the hair away.

 

“So now, do I get a name?” Dedede asked.

 

“Only because you’re a prince. It’s Meta Knight.”

 

A prince. Meta Knight thought he was some sort of romantic hero. Dedede couldn’t help but feel a sharp twinge of guilt for misleading this innocent, idealistic boy, and yet hadn’t Dedede spent years surviving by using people? That was what disgraced royalty did. They lied and scraped and survived, and sometimes, there were casualties.

 

 

Chapter Text

Dark had waited for hours in the mirror-chamber. The A.M.B.E.R. agents were staring, so Dark made a show of swishing his velvet skirts. Velvet was an incredibly expensive material and one which took Dark’s weavers months to make, but when talking to another royal, it never hurt to be a little flashy. Of course, Alera would probably be more distracted by the fact that Dark looked like her daughter, but why not? After all, Alera kept refusing to speak to him. Relations with Dreamland were clearly already in flames, so why not do what he did best and make the Queen of Dreamland loathe her very existence?

 

Finally, a knight Sir Waddle Doo came and informed him that his audience had been accepted. Dark jumped for joy, nearly smacking Sir Waddle Doo with his hoop skirt, so that was maybe a bit of an excessive reaction. Maybe. Dark practically skipped behind the knight, who had auburn hair and was missing an eye; he greatly resembled Bandanna Dee, but Dark hadn’t asked if there was a familial relationship. He was too occupied with interrogating Waddle Doo about everything they passed.

 

When they passed a painting that depicted Bikaia kneeling before a beautiful, blonde-haired woman dressed in purple, Dark halted abruptly. For effect, Dark drew a fan from his bosom and fanned himself with it. There was a man who had style.

 

“Is it usual for Bikaia to be kneeling?” Dark asked.

 

“Sometimes, it’s done symbolically,” Waddle Doo replied, sighing.

 

The knight might have been a little vexed that Dark kept slowing their progress. Or possibly that Dark looked like Princess Sectonia. Dark pursed his lips together and twirled a strand of dark, wavy hair around his finger. “Mmm,” he hummed.

 

“After they were married, Bikaia created the Queen’s Guard, a powerful force of knights whose only purpose was to protect his beloved Queen. Here, Bikaia is kneeling because he’s pledging himself to be Elise’s first knight and defender,” Waddle Doo said.

 

“How romantic,” Dark replied, genuinely touched.

 

It seemed someone in Dreamland knew how to do romance right. Dark imagined himself in the painting, but he couldn't decide if he'd be in Bikaia's position or Elise's. 

 

“There is another painting by the same artist in another hall. It features Bikaia kneeling to the goddess Nova, who has just rescued him from being executed for freeing Elise.”

 

“When she was being held captive by Bikaia’s grandfather, right?” Dark asked.

 

“Yes.”

 

“Strange,” Dark replied. “I had heard that it was Galacta Knight who rescued Bikaia.”

 

“Interesting,” Waddle Doo replied, although he didn’t sound very interested.

 

“So where is Bikaia’s famous coronation portrait?” Dark asked. “I have always wanted to gaze upon his famous glass boots.”

 

Waddle Doo snorted. “It’s locked away and covered up. Queen Alera only unveils the portrait during the Winter Solstice Ball. It’s a ceremony of sorts.”

 

Too bad. Dark wondered if he might be able to sneak into Queen Alera’s famous Solstice Ball. He probably could if he disguised himself as Meta Knight, but then, he’d have to kidnap Meta Knight first. Alera would figure it out if there were two of him. But surely, Meta Knight would get over it, right? Dark wouldn’t chain him up in the dungeons. Just maybe drop him in a hedge-maze. That would occupy him for a couple hours, surely. And once Meta Knight got out, he’d be furious, and that might be enjoyable anyway.

 

They halted by a door, which Waddle Doo opened. “Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness,” the knight said, “King Dark of the Mirror World.”

 

Dark didn’t move. Shouldn’t Waddle Doo take his calling card to the ladies before admitting him? The knight arched an eyebrow. “Are you going?” Waddle Doo asked.

 

“Yes,” Dark said carefully.

 

Dark entered the parlor and took a seat across from Sectonia and Alera. The princess’s face grew red. Her jaw dropped, and she slowly raised a hand to cover her gaping mouth. Alera’s jaw clenched, and her eyes, dark with fury, narrowed. As Dark sat, he kept his posture very prim and grinned brightly. “Good evening, ladies!” Dark greeted as warmly and enthusiastically as he possibly could.

 

Dark hoped he would be offered tea or cookies. One thing Dark really prided himself on was being able to adopt both men’s and women’s etiquette. He knew what to do with his gloves when he was given food or drink, and Dark, knowing how often women were dismissed in his world as silly and frivolous, thought that the ladies would appreciate his attention to detail.

 

“Why have you arrived looking like…that?” Alera asked, waving a hand.

 

“Oh, I’m stuck in this form,” Dark lied cheerily. “I was cursed.”

 

So beautiful it was a curse.

 

Alera’s face had turned an interesting shade of red. Sectonia coughed.

 

“Not that I mind,” Dark added. “I do like to be the most attractive person in the room.”

 

Alera rolled her eyes. “And you think we’re going to be impressed by this display? By you appearing like my daughter? Two-hundred years out of fashion?”

 

Out of fashion? As if Dark would ever dress himself in anything that wasn’t fashionable. The audacity!

 

“Don’t worry,” Dark said. “I’ll fix it.”

 

He called his powers to him. The velvet dress shimmered and rippled until it became the royal blue coat-like dress that Sectonia wore. His boots shifted to dark blue heels. Dark had to admire how scandalous Sectonia dressed; he could see her knees!

 

“I thought you were trapped in that form,” Alera said, her eyes narrowed.

 

“That doesn’t mean I can’t change my clothes!” Dark replied.

 

“Welcome, Dark,” Sectonia said.

 

Sectonia held her hand out and reached between them. Dark shook her hand and planted the most cheerful, I-am-not-a-petty-person smile he could. It wasn’t Sectonia’s fault that her mother was a shrew to end all shrews. And clearly one lacking in style.

 

 Sectonia’s fingers lingered on Dark’s wrist. Her violet eyes were narrowed and thoughtful. Dark wondered if she had ever seen herself quite like this before. Not a reflection, but instead, the same way she looked to everyone else. She didn’t seem too upset, or if she had been, her dismay had turned to curiosity.

 

“Thank you,” Dark replied. “I am glad to see that some Dreamlanders know how to greet foreign royalty.”

 

“Oh, please, foreign royalty? You aren’t even human, much less our equal,” Alera said. “You’re just a reflection, and you aren’t even the reflection of anyone notable. No, you’re the reflection of a dirty-blooded upstart. Do you think coming here, looking like my daughter, is going to make your something nobler?”

 

Dark tilted his head and let his long, dark hair fall over his shoulder. “Something nobler? There’s nothing ignoble about me.”

 

But Dark suddenly remembered Taranza and the long hours sitting before the Dimension Mirror, and Dark’s chest tightened. There was plenty that was ignoble about him. And deep down, he knew that—no matter how hard he tried—his good deeds could never erase all the bloodshed he’d caused. He was suddenly self-conscious of how Sectonia’s dress fit on his body. He should have gone back to himself; he shouldn’t have bothered with being Sectonia.

 

 Alera looked at Dark with part-disgust and part-pity. “You don’t even realize you’re inferior,” she said.

 

 “Inferior?”

 

“Mother, they aren’t inferior,” Sectonia said quietly.

 

Alera shook her head. “No,” she said. “He thinks he can come in here and hide what he is—”

 

“I’m not hiding anything,” Dark replied.

 

“You never should have come here wanting an alliance,” Alera said. “If anything, you and your kingdom should be paying tribute to Dreamland. You wouldn’t exist without us.”

 

“And without us, your kingdom would have fallen to Dark Nebula,” Dark said.

 

“With or without you, I’m confident we would have succeeded,” Alera replied, smiling thinly.

 

“Mother,” Sectonia said, “Surely, we should consider Dark’s willingness to aid us, though.”

 

“Why? He was protecting his own interests,” Alera replied. “I just don’t see the advantage of having a long-standing relationship with a kingdom that probably still believes in blood-letting and using cocaine as a cold remedy.”

 

“If those medical procedures are detrimental to my people, I would imagine you have a moral obligation to share your more advanced medical knowledge with us,” Dark replied.

 

 “And what would you know of morals? Besides, alliances typically assume both parties are bringing something of equal value to the table. An alliance with you would be a blight on Dreamland, a charity case just like Traumwald and Seventopia,” Alera replied. “What do you have? Bolts of fabric?”

 

Dark had an entire room full of dragon-forged objects and clothing that had been worn by the goddess Nova, and surely, Dreamland would consider those objects valuable. But Dark had worn them and seen his father use them on other people, and while those objects were too valuable to simply discard, Dark didn’t trust this terrible, ill-mannered queen with them.

 

Dark curled his fingers into the fabric of his dress. While Dark could manipulate himself and his clothes to be whatever he wanted, not everyone had that gift, and he had the utmost respect for the artisans who worked for him. “It took my weavers months to make that fabric,” Dark said quietly.

 

Alera rolled her eyes. “And I can snap my fingers and receive the same amount and quality of fabric in an hour,” Alera said, sounding as if she was talking to a small child. “If you’re interested in having a relationship with Dreamland, you’re welcome to become a colony or a province, but I will expect you to pay proper tribute for this privilege.”

 

“Mother—”

 

Alera cut off her daughter with the sweep of a hand. “You’re too soft-hearted, Sectonia. I agree this is a sad situation, but we can’t save everyone. I’m not about to burden myself with another charity case.”

 

 Dark stormed from the room. Waddle Doo quickly opened the door, but Dark was fuming so much that he barely noticed the knight. As Dark continued down the corridor, palace servants and a few knights bowed to him and darted out of the way.

 

Dark mentally cursed the Queen of Dreamland in three different languages. How dare she treat him so disgracefully? How dare she insult—not only himself—but Meta Knight? Had Dark not been a gentleman, he would have done something truly dreadful to her.

 

“Dark!” Sectonia called after him.

 

Dark had determined to keep walking, but distracted, he lost his balance and pitched forward in Sectonia's strange heels. He caught himself on his hands and scowled; he'd hit hit knee hard on the marble floor. Sectonia smiled sympathetically and helped him to his feet.

 

“I’m sorry,” Sectonia said.

 

“So am I.”

 

Silence settled between them. “Why do you really look like me?” she asked.

 

Dark forced a smile. “Just a bit of mischief,” he admitted.

 

Sectonia, her lips slightly parted and her eyes curious, circled him. “Is this really what I look like?” she mused.

 

“Yes.”

 

Sectonia paused and slowly drew her hand through Dark’s hair. “I find it vaguely disturbing that you decided you were going to be me,” Sectonia said. “Are you drawing some sort of perverse pleasure from it?”

 

Dark frowned. “What do you mean?”

 

Sectonia swept in front of Dark and crossed her arms. “Have you taken my form, so you can gawk at me? You know.” Sectonia haltingly gestured towards her chest.

 

Dark’s eyes widened in legitimate surprise. “I would never! I am a gentleman, a man of breeding and elegance,” Dark replied. “I merely woke up in your form this morning, and I thought it might be enjoyable to stay in it.”

 

“You transform into other people in your sleep?” Sectonia asked.

 

“Sometimes.”

 

Sectonia considered him a little longer. She laughed haughtily. “Well,” she said, “Nevertheless, I hope you realize that you’re still not the most attractive person in the room. You just can’t beat the original, Dark.”

 

The princess winked, and Dark smiled despite himself. Queen Alera was awful, but Princess Sectonia…she was something else.

 

Chapter Text

Meta Knight turned Galaxia in his paw, his gold eyes surveying her newly polished mirror-finish. Dedede’s breath caught in his throat. He anxiously twisted the paper between his paws. Surely, this would work. There was nothing more romantic than poetry, right?

 

Meta Knight looked up, his eyes and armor catching the sunlight and shining brightly. “Hello, my liege,” Meta Knight said.

 

A delightful shiver trailed down Dedede’s spine at the sound of the knight’s voice. Maybe it was because Dedede was so lovestruck, but over the years, Meta Knight’s voice and face had become more and more attractive. 

 

“Hey, Meta,” Dedede said. “Polishin’ your armor.”

 

“Just Galaxia.”

 

“I–uh–wanted to read you somethin’ I wrote.”

 

“Ah,” Meta Knight said.

 

“It’s a love poem.”

 

Meta Knight hummed. “I’m sure she’ll love it.”

 

“She?” 

 

“I had assumed you’d written it for the queen of Ripple Star,” Meta Knight replied.

 

“Oh, um…” Dedede trailed off. “It ain’t for a woman.”

 

“Ah, I see.”

 

For a long moment, Meta Knight was silent. Then, he slowly nodded. “I do think it’s a little early for you to be courting Taranza, though. He’s very–”

 

Dedede internally screamed. “T–Taranza?”

 

“Sure,” Meta Knight replied. “Aside from me, Taranza is the only other man with whom you spend significant amounts of time.”

 

Dedede’s heart pounded in his throat so loudly that his heartbeat reverberated in his head. “It ain’t Taranza.”

 

“Ah.”

 

Dedede gulped.

 

Meta Knight chuckled. “I hadn’t thought you’d be the sort of man to engage in a secret love affair. Well, I won’t pry.”

 

Dedede sighed. Maybe next time.

 

Chapter Text

Dark feigned a swoon. “Oh, what a man!” Dark purred. “So elegant! So stylish!”

 

“Paws off. Dedede is mine,” Meta Knight said, although his voice didn’t have its usual heat.

 

Being controlled by the Jamba Heart had worn Meta Knight out. Even though Meta Knight had stormed the Mirror World and shattered him, Dark couldn’t help but feel a bit sorry for the knight of Dreamland. It must be frightening to be so strong-willed and to lose control like he had.

 

“I didn’t mean Dedede. I meant that–that absolute fox!” Dark said, gesturing to the thief.

 

Several feet away, Kirby and Dedede were chatting with a handsome red-clad mouse, whose shining gray fur was clearly the product of much time and devotion. His golden claws looked like they could tear a man apart. Stylish, well-groomed, and deadly. What more could a man want?

 

“Daroach?” Meta Knight asked. “Really?”

 

“Is that his name?” Dark asked.

 

The mouse’s large ears twitched, and Dark’s breath hitched. How adorable! 

 

“I think he’s stolen my heart,” Dark replied.

 

“I wasn’t aware you had one,” Meta Knight said.

 

“Don’t make me hurt you, darling,” Dark purred.

 

Meta Knight looked decidedly unthreatened. The knight stepped lightly over the grass and went to join the others. Dark lingered, his eyes fixed on Daroach and his large, round ears. Dark wanted to see them twitch again, and he was willing to do whatever it took to accomplish that goal.

 

Dark started small; he crept over and poked Daroach’s ears with his paws and sticks. Despite being a thief and presumably very cautious, Daroach was a very deep sleeper. His ears twitched with very little provocation, and every little movement made Dark’s face light up.

 

So Dark kept doing it. The downside to constantly pestering, though, was that eventually you got caught. And during one night of poking Daroach’s ears, Dark looked up and found the familiar gold eyes staring at him. “Um…I can explain,” Dark said.

 

No, he couldn’t.

 

“Go ahead,” Daroach said.

 

Dark flashed a smile, even though it was hidden by his armor. “I was just admiring your ears. I imagine they’re the most beautiful ears held by any member of your race. And I know some people say size doesn’t matter, but in your case…”

 

Daroach cocked a grin. “Aw! That’s so kind of you to say! Is that why you’ve been prodding them every night for the past week?”

 

Oh, no.

 

Daroach didn’t sound angry. Dark inwardly took this as a good sign. Perhaps, Daroach had just taken Dark’s hijinks as–just that. Harmless hijinks. “I like to see them twitch,” Dark admitted. “It’s cute.”

 

Oh,” Daroach said mischievously. “Then, you’re really going to love this.”

 

The mouse-thief wrinkled his nose, twitching his whiskers. Dark gasped. “You’ve been holding out on me!”

 

Daroach’s eyes glowed warmly in the darkness. “A man has to maintain a sense of mystery,” he said. “You know that.”

 

Dark did know it. He edged closer to Daroach, sitting properly by the mouse. Slowly, Dark removed a glove, revealing the thumbless nub beneath. His paw hovered over Daroach’s soft cheek. “May I?”

 

Chapter Text

Curiously, Dark peered at the odd, cloth-covered object. It was heavy and strangely stiff with strange, silver clasps and laces. The object had appeared in the castle throne room, and no one seemed to know entirely what it was. Shadow cautiously prodded the object with a paw. 

 

“I think,” Dark said slowly, “There is some kind of…steel frame beneath the fabric.”

 

Shadow frowned. “Why would you do that?” he asked, sounding bewildered.

 

“Oh!” Dark exclaimed. “I know what it is! Armor. Obviously.”

 

“Armor?”

 

Dark lifted the item and nodded. “Why else would you put metal beneath fabric? Clearly, it’s some manner of armor. I’m going to try it on! Meta Knight is going to be so jealous.”

 

“Why?” Shadow asked.

 

Dark removed his mask and pauldrons in quick succession. “Because he doesn’t have this fancy armor!” Dark declared enthusiastically. “Look at it! It’s got that shiny, red satin and everything!”

 

Once he was free of armor, save for his sabatons, Dark stretched his paws over his head and tried to ease the strange armor over his body. It was very awkward. The puffball twisted uncomfortably, trying to ease the armor down. He’d finally pushed it down beneath his eyes, but it covered his mouth. Perturbed, Dark stretched up higher and managed to push the armor down beneath his mouth. “Got it!” he declared.

 

Shadow tilted his head in confusion. “Are you sure that’s right?” he asked.

 

“Positive,” Dark replied, trying to close the silver snaps. “Help me with these. Maybe this is the sort of armor that you can’t put on without attendants.”

 

And obviously, this meant that Dark was wearing very expensive armor. Only the wealthiest of knights could afford attendants to help them don their armor; usually, Dark dismissed that overt expression of wealth, but he would make an exception for this armor. It was his favorite color, after all.

 

Shadow awkwardly fumbled with the silver snaps. He managed to close them, although it left Dark’s body in a very awkward state. The puffball was all stretched out, like he’d been run over by a grizzo or flattened by something. “Dark, I think this might shatter you,” Shadow said.

 

“Please, it’s armor! So it’s a little…tight,” Dark said, drawing in a tight gasp for air. “That hardly means I’m going to shatter.”

 

Shadow looked on doubtfully as Dark tightened the laces. Abruptly, Dark squeaked and fell over face-first. 

 

Shadow snorted and smothered his laughter as Dark, the (more or less) noble king of the Mirror World, flailed about, his wings awkwardly flapping, half trapped by the lacing. “What is this abomination?” Dark shrieked.

 

“Maybe you’re wearing it wrong,” Shadow said, tearing up in laughter.

 

Dark paused and glared at the smaller puffball. “I order you not to laugh,” Dark said. “This is not amusing.”

 

A sharp, awkward laugh tore from Shadow’s throat.

 

Dark floundered along the ground like a beached fish struggling to reach water but to no avail. Finally, the puffball sighed and wilted against the ground. “Shadow, this is how it ends for me,” Dark said melodramatically. “Smothered to death by my own fancy armor.”

 

Shadow lifted Dark’s discarded sword Nochecita. Dark stilled as Shadow carefully edged the blade beneath the laces and began sawing. As the laces loosened, Dark sighed in relief. “Thank you, darling.”

 

Once he was free of the armor, Dark gasped for air, trying futilely to quell the aching in his body.

 

“Well, I would hate for your to die like this,” Shadow teased, poking the strange item with the tip of Dark’s sword. 

 

“Maybe it’s a torture device,” Dark said, wincing. “Who do I hate that I’m morally obligated to buy a present for?”

 

Dark paused, and then, that devious king of the Mirror World had a terrible, terrible idea. A sly smile crossed his face, and Shadow shook his head.

 

“Dark, no.”

 

Dark, yes.

 

 

Chapter Text

Carvai Stellarum was a petite young woman with a soft, round face set with rose-colored eyes and framed by petal-pink hair. She was cute in a distinctly magical girl kind of way, but no one ever noticed her prettiness right away. No, the first thing anyone ever noticed was Carvai’s impressive cleavage. And poor Carvai, who had been the unfortunate victim of both harassment and mockery all through her teenage years, had finally decided to embrace her chest. So she sought out cutesy, pink tops that showed off her chest, and because the harassment didn’t grow worse, Carvai kept dressing that way. By nineteen, she wasn’t comfortable with how she looked, but she was closer to comfortable than she had ever been.

 

Carvai rose on her feet, going nearly en pointe, and rapped her knuckles on the door. Then, she waited, humming to herself as she did. Carvai had never met Kirby Stellarum before; in fact, she had only recently learned they were related. Carvai had been raised in fostercare, abandoned by her parents when she was eight. Only recently had Carvai gathered the courage to seek out her other relatives, and thus far, only Kirby Stellarum had seemed genuinely enthusiastic to meet her.

 

Oh, this isn’t the first time I’ve had a long-lost relative pop up!” Kirby had said when Carvai contacted him. “This will be great!”

 

The door opened, and Carvai’s jaw dropped. A young man with petal-pink hair stood in the doorway. His eyes were wide and blue, and his face was all cream and roses. He wore a nice pink button-up and slacks. His red tie was a little crooked, seemingly tied in a hurry. But Nova’s grace! What an adorable boy! Carvai just wanted to wrap him in her arms and hug him! 

 

Carvai clapped her hands together, the sound muffled by her wool mittens. “Hi!” she chirped, pulling the young man into a tight hug. “You’re the cutest person I’ve ever seen in my life! Are you Kirby? Kirby Stellarum?”

 

A sharp jolt struck Carvai’s chest, and she started. 

 

“Yes, that’s me! And sorry,” Kirby said. “That’s the Copy. I forgot to warn you.”

 

“Oh, no worries!” Carvai exclaimed, releasing her cousin. “I’m just so happy to meet you! I wouldn’t have cared if you’d set me on fire!”

 

Kirby’s smile was so genuine and enthusiastic that Carvai couldn’t help but shiver in excitement. She had really found her kindred spirit with Kirby Stellarum.

 

“Come meet my friends,” Kirby said, taking her hand. “I’m sure they’re going to love you!”

 

Friends! Carvai had heard all about Kirby’s friends. “I can’t wait!” she chirped.

 

As she stepped inside the warm apartment, her eyes fixed on a large man with dark blue hair. He wore a red silk shirt and slacks, clearly dressed to the nines. Was this for her? Had they all dressed up just to meet her? A pleasant warmth spread through her.

 

The man’s jaw dropped. “Nova’s grace! There’s two of ‘im!”

 

Chapter Text

Mary Novatrix, the daughter of the Duke of the Stars and the goddess Nova, sat against the wall. Tall and slender, she was a stunning woman with wide blue eyes and long, gold hair. Brent’s breath caught in his throat every time he gazed upon the celestial beauty. When his eyes snapped towards her, Brent linger on her dress—pale blue and cotton. Poor Mary had to abandon more luxurious fabrics in order to help him and Prince Bikaia. A woman wearing a velvet or satin dress would draw curiosity and scrutiny that they didn’t need. But Mary hadn’t complained once! Truly, she was a perfect woman. So kind and intelligent!

 

“Oh, Brent,” Mary sighed, leaning her head against his shoulder.

 

They all sat at a table together, Mary and Brent on one side. Bikaia on the other. The prince hadn’t spoken in a long time. He was doubtlessly pouting over some trivial matter. Bikaia was proving to be quite a sullen adolescent, and more than once, Brent had wondered if he might conceivably manage to take the throne for himself. He would surely be a better king than this self-absorbed brat.

 

“Oh, Mary,” Brent said. “What is it?”

 

“I was just thinking about how fortunate we all are to be here together,” Mary said.

 

Bikaia’s breath gave a sharp hitch. Brent snapped his eyes to the prince. “Something wrong, Bikaia?” Brent asked, purposefully denying the prince his proper address.

 

Bikaia needed to learn humility.

 

“Yes,” Bikaia said tightly. “Elise.”

 

Brent heaved a longsuffering sigh. Bikaia had allowed Lady Mace and Lady Elise to escape into the forests of Traumwald, something which had sparked a chain of events that caused Bikaia to be sentenced to death. Elise had foolishly attempted her own rescue, which would have been doomed to fail if Brent and Mary hadn’t swooped in to save the day. As they had fled, Elise had been separated from them, and Bikaia seemed determined to hate Brent for something that was in no way his fault.

 

“Would you rather be dead?” Brent snapped.

 

“You didn’t even look for her,” Bikaia said.

 

“Bikaia, it wounds my heart that we left my sister behind,” Mary said.

 

“Yes,” Brent said. “How dare you even mention Elise’s name and upset Mary? You know how much she loves her sister! We were fleeing—”

 

“If she loved her so much, maybe she should have looked for her!” Bikaia snapped. “And we weren’t even fleeing when she disappeared. We had made camp, and when we woke, she wasn’t there. What if she was abducted? What if she—”

 

Nova, Bikaia was such a nuisance!

 

“It’s a pity we hadn’t left you instead of her,” Brent sneered.

 

Bikaia, who had been unloved his entire life, wilted against his seat, seemingly trying to make himself smaller. Brent rolled his eyes; despite a guilty, unwelcome pang in his chest, Brent was not going to feel guilty about what he had said. Clearly, Bikaia was just trying to be manipulative.

 

Mary’s gasp drew Brent’s attention to her. “What is it, dear Mary?” Bikaia asked.

 

“What is that?” Mary asked, pointing across the tavern.

 

Brent followed her finger to the most unholy of sights. A petite woman with pink hair had stepped into the bar. She was overly voluptuous and had a scandalously plunging neckline on what might charitably be called a dress. Her thighs were barely covered, and bizarrely, she had donned a long, fur-lined coat as if to compensate for her otherwise decadent lack of clothing.

 

“Do you think she was robbed on the road?” Bikaia asked, his pale blue eyes wide. “Perhaps, she was bathing, and her clothes were stolen, forcing her to wear such attire. She must be cold with it being the dead of winter!”

 

“Stop looking at her!” Brent snapped.

 

“Brent, don’t be so harsh on him,” Mary said.

 

“No. We have seen, sweet Mary, that Bikaia very clearly carries his father’s greatest vice of being seduced by every common harlot that looks his way!”

 

Mary put her hand on Brent’s chest. “I apologize. You are right! Bikaia, as a prince, must learn to be loyal only to his wife. Otherwise, he might jeopardize the throne with illegitimate heirs!”

 

Bikaia’s face reddened. “You think that is my father’s greatest vice?” Bikaia asked.

 

The woman skipped across the floor, a massive war hammer thrown over her shoulder. She paused at the edge of their table. Brent’s eyes narrowed.

 

“Hi! I’m Carvai! You’re the most adorable boy I’ve ever seen! I just want to hug you!”

 

Brent scowled at the clearly desperate woman. “I wouldn’t let you touch me if you were the last woman in Dreamland.”

 

Carvai laughed. “I didn’t mean you, silly! I meant your cute friend!”

 

Carvai leaned over the table and smiled at Bikaia. Clearly, she was trying to get him to look at her absurd amount of cleavage. What a hussy!

 

“What’s your name?” Carvai asked. “Can I hug you?”

 

Bikaia smiled. “If you really want to,” he said.

 

Bikaia just couldn’t stand not flirting with a woman, could he? Carvai squeaked and leaped across the seat to embrace Bikaia. “’You have…quite a strong embrace for a young lady,” Bikaia said.

 

“I am stronger than I look!” Carvai replied, her eyes bright.

 

Great. Now, they were talking. Clearly, it was left for Brent to make sure Bikaia didn’t fall into bed with this creature.

 

“Be gone, harlot!” Brent declared.

 

Carvai looked away from Bikaia. “Harlot?” she asked, her cute face scrunching up.

 

Clearly, she was trying to use this ‘cute’ act in order to make Brent relent, but it wasn’t going to work. This woman was trouble.

 

“Yes. Harlot. Get off him. He should know better,” Brent said.

 

“Brent!” Bikaia exclaimed. “You can’t call a young lady that!”

 

“You’re only defending her because you want to sleep with her!” Brent snapped. “I swear, Bikaia—”

 

“Bikaia? That’s a cute name,” Carvai said.

 

Having been properly chastised, Bikaia ducked his head. “Thank you,” he said quietly. “As is yours.”

 

Carvai slipped a slender finger beneath Bikaia’s chin and tipped his head up. “Bikaia,” she said. “You seem like a sweet boy. Why are you companions with such terrible people?”

 

Brent’s jaw clenched. “’Listen, you brain-addled whore—”

 

Carvai stood and put her hands on her hips. “Excuse you!” she exclaimed. “How dare you speak to me so disgracefully?”

 

“What are you going to do about it?” Brent asked. “I am the greatest knight in all of Dreamland.”

 

“He is,” Mary said, wrapping her arm around Brent’s.

 

Brent patted Mary’s hand to assure her that he didn’t admire this desperate harlot more than her.

 

“And I’m the warrior of infinite potential,” Carvai said, hefting her hammer. “I challenge you to a duel to defend my honor!”

 

Brent snorted as he stood. “You’ll regret this,” he said. “It’s clear to anyone that you’re all posturing.”

 

Carvai’s eyes flashed. She set her hammer aside and pulled off her coat. “Bikaia, you’ll be a dear and hold this for me, won’t you?”

 

Bikaia fleetingly glanced at Brent. “Of course,” he said, taking Carvai’s coat.

 

Bikaia would side with a floozy. Brent scowled and drew his sword. Carvai smiled cheerily as she took a fighting stance, her hammer ready.

 

“Oh, Brent!” Mary exclaimed. “You look so heroic!”

 

Of course, he did! Brent swung his sword, assuming that a single blow would send Carvai into a flood of tears, but the swing didn’t connect. She skipped back, as elegantly as a dancer might have. “Missed me!” she exclaimed in a sing-song voice.

 

With a growl, Brent lunged forward, slashing and hacking. Carvai dodged each blow and then swung. She struck Brent’s chest. His armor took the force of the blow, but his ribs ached. A lucky strike! There was no way anyone could best Brent in battle.

 

Brent swung towards her chest, but Carvai’s hammer was quicker than his sword. Her hammer struck the flat of Brent’s sword, sending vibrations down his arms. She was proving a harder opponent than he had anticipated; it was time for desperate measures.

 

Brent called his magic to him. His body shimmered as he transformed into a giant snake. Brent hissed and towered over Carvai, whose face lit up. “Super cool!” she exclaimed. “I wish I could do that!”

 

With a roar, Brent dove at Carvai. At the last second, Carvai jumped back. Her hammer smashed into Brent’s head. He roared and fangs flashing tried again. One fang slashed against Carvai’s arm, drawing blood. She squeaked and brought her hammer back up, landing a blow to Brent’s head. Before she could draw the hammer back, Brent closed his jaws around it and ripped it from her grasp.

 

Carvai’s eyes widened.

 

Brent sank to his normal size, bruised and angry. He stalked towards Carvai with his sword. “Surrender now, or I’ll cut you down!” Brent snapped.

 

Carvai smiled. “Galaxia!”

 

Brent scoffed. There was no way Galaxia would answer this woman’s call.

 

But the golden blade flashed and flew through the air, landing neatly in Carvai’s hand. She flicked her wrist and brandished the blade. “You’ll try,” Carvai said slyly.

 

Their blades met with a ring of steel. Brent pushed, trying to knock Carvai off-balance, but Carvai didn’t bend. Instead, she swept aside, drawing her sword through Brent’s back. With a terrible shriek, Carvai’s blade cut through Brent’s armor as if it was nothing. Brent screamed. Carvai pulled the blade back and strode around.

 

Brent collapsed to his knees, his sword falling with a clatter. “But…how?” he rasped, unable to believe that someone had beaten him in a sword fight.

 

Carvai smiled. “Because I’m a being of infinite power!” Carvai chirped. “Didn’t you hear me the first time?”

 

Mary left her seat and crouched beside Brent. “Oh, she cheated!” Mary exclaimed. “I know that in a fair fight, you would have won!”

 

Carvai’s heels clicked on the ground as she approached Bikaia. “She’s yours, right?” Carvai asked, offering Galaxia. “Sorry I borrowed her without asking! Where I’m from, we have a Galaxia, too!”

 

Bikaia sheathed the blade. “You’re an amazing fighter,” he said.

 

Carvai winked and grabbed my hammer. “I try my best!” she exclaimed. “I think we should be best friends! What do you think?”

 

“Bikaia,” Brent said, his tone heavy with warning.

 

“I would be delighted,” Bikaia replied.

 

Carvai took his hand and pulled him from the seat. “Wonderful!” she declared. “What were you doing?”

 

“I’m a fugitive,” Bikaia said. “I’ve been hiding. I rescued a duke’s daughter, and now, everyone in the kingdom is trying to kill me.”

 

“Terrible!” Carvai exclaimed. “Well, don’t you fret, Bikaia! Everything is going to be just perfect!”

 

 

Chapter Text

Dedede popped a piece of popcorn in his mouth, savoring the warm buttery taste and the soft texture. Of all the great modern inventions, popcorn was the greatest of them all. Dedede adjusted his position on the sofa, taking care not to tip Meta Knight's beloved laptop into the floor. Dedede had a dilemma. It would soon be the Winter Solstice and Meta Knight's birthday, two occasions that required presents, and Dedede was at a complete loss as to what to buy. So he'd had the bright idea to check Meta Knight's browsing history and see if he'd been looking at anything in particular. Thus far, Dedede's search hadn't revealed so much as a candy bar.

 

There was a lot of research on the goddess Nova, potentially for Professor Drawcia's art history class, but Meta Knight might have also been searching for himself. Dedede’s face softened with sympathy; he had used some of the same websites when doing research for his last art history paper, but he wondered, too, if he wasn't taking the 'my boyfriend is the Greatest Warrior in the Galaxy' reveal just a little bit better than Meta Knight was taking the 'my boyfriend is the reincarnation of the goddess Nova' reveal.

 

Dedede raised an eyebrow. Archive of Our Own.  What was that? Some sort of archive? A book website? Dedede brightened. Knowing Meta Knight, he’d probably been scoping out books; hopefully, he'd put a few in a cart or a wishlist. Dedede tipped his head back, downed a mouthful of popcorn, and opened the link in an incognito tab. It took Dedede about two seconds to realize that Archive of Our Own wasn't a bookseller. It was some sort of online story-sharing forum. This particular page had works for the novel Forbidden Fantasy. Three-thousand seven-hundred eighty-two of them to be exact. Wow.

 

Dedede's eyes landed on the first story. His jaw dropped. His eyes nearly popped out of his head. Dedede's brain screamed and tried to erase the past five minutes, clearly in fear for its own safety. Dedede shook his head and blinked a few times, but the words never changed.

 

Royally Screwed by Lumpenproletariat

Forbidden FantasyLe Roman de la Serpent (The Romance of the Snake)

Tasked by the goddess Nova to groom Bikaia into a proper king by any means necessary, Brent sets out in the company of the young prince and the stunning Mary Novatrix. But when the Prince Bikaia refuses to learn some humility, Brent is forced to find a new way of forcing Dreamland's wayward prince into submission. Nova approves.

Language: Dreamlandic  Words: 470325   Chapters: 45/100  Comments:4567    Kudos: 6535  Hits: 5436365

 

Was it truly possible that someone had found a way to make Forbidden Fantasy worse? Dedede hadn't known that was possible, but it sure sounded like someone had managed to do it. Dedede really hoped this wasn't the fic that Meta Knight had been reading. If so, they really needed to have a conversation involving Meta Knight's taste in literature. And sweet Nova, King Bikaia was Dedede's own ancestor, and there were just some things that no one ever wanted to imagine their many times' great-grandfather doing. This was definitely one of those things.

 

Dedede scrolled down, hoping that the next few would be adorable, fluffy ficlets about Bikaia and Elise. But no. Dear Nova, the next one was worse.

 

The Taming of the Goddess  by FreshFromTraumwald

Forbidden Fantasy

After Nova and Elise try and fail to put Bikaia on the throne, resulting in his death, Nova taken captive and enslaved by an angry King Adstellam. Despite her determination to hate the King of Dreamland, Nova can't help but notice how attractive he and his twelve best knights are. Is it possible that maybe trying to overthrow the monarchy was...wrong? Is she falling...in love?

Language: Dreamlandic  Words: 4121   Chapters: 2/37  Comments:325    Kudos: 48  Hits: 5635

 

Dedede cast his eyes skyward, as if the goddess herself might descend from on high to deliver him. Surely, these two were just flukes, right? The two most disturbing fics just happened to be at the very top of the list. Surely, there couldn't be multiple people writing about Bikaia hooking up with Brent Knight or Nova being tortured and falling in love with her captor, right? Unfortunately, that very much seemed to be the case. There were a lot of fics about Nova being tortured and falling in love, with her torturer (if he was hot) or with her rescuer (if he was hotter than her torturer). One particularly memorable fic had Bikaia himself breaking the goddess Nova until she fell in love with him and joined his harem along with Elise.

 

Dedede sighed in relief when he saw the next fic; it looked normal, at least. Goddess, who would have thought the bar would be set so low?

 

Heart of a Goddess by Hoshi no Kaabii

Forbidden Fantasy

Nova is tired of having every dude-bro man-guy in Dreamland claiming he's her true love and torturing/imprisoning/harassing her, especially when she has her sights set on the Greatest Warrior in the Galaxy.

Language: Dreamlandic  Words: 1325   Chapters: 1/1  Comments:4    Kudos: 6  Hits: 54

 

Dedede whistled between his teeth. Someone had written Nova/Galacta Knight fanfiction? And an AU where Galacta Knight was Bikaia's mentor? Now, that was interesting. Maybe it wouldn't hurt to take just a little break from looking for presents. Especially if it involved the previous incarnations of himself and Meta Knight and what sounded like a semi-historical alternate universe. Dedede clicked the link and began to read.

 

Nova the Wish Granter sat in the balcony, overlooking the festivities below. Beside her was Bikaia, who kept fidgeting with his hands. Abruptly, he stopped, every muscle and movement frozen in place. A rose-like flush spread over Bikaia's face; he dropped his gaze to his lap. Nova didn't even need to look up to see what had brought on such a change, but she did anyway. Elise had entered. She wore a very fashionable green velvet dress with wide skirts, a tapered waist, and sleeves that showed off her slender wrists. Her gold curls shined in the torchlight.

 

"Shall we go down now, Bikaia?"

 

"Yes," he replied, offering his arm.

 

They descended the stairs and stepped onto the dancefloor. It was tradition for the Winter Solstice ball to open with the king of Dreamland dancing with the goddess Nova, a tradition that had been cast aside for centuries.

 

A dance scene followed, clearly written by someone who had probably never danced ever.  Dedede winced as he read it, but at least, no one was being tortured. And he'd finally found a depiction that wasn't outright insulting to one of his ancestors. It was bad enough that Forbidden Fantasy had made Bikaia into a lecher and a spoiled brat, but that Elise, who came from Dedede's own house, had been reduced to a spineless wilting violet, simply to make Mary Novatrix look better in comparison, seemed especially insulting.

 

"I think we should switch partners," Nova said.

 

She paused by Elise and a knight. Bikaia's eyes widened in something akin to terror as the goddess was replaced with Elise. "Your Majesty," Elise said, curtsying.

 

"Elise," he rasped.

 

Nova smiled and resumed dancing, now with her new partner.

 

For a while, everything seemed to be going fine. Nova waltzed in a poorly written scene, paying half her attention to Bikaia and Elise, who were exchanging some very cliche, flirtatious dialogue. Still, at least, this Bikaia seemed sweet, if a bit bland, and he wasn't abusing his poor, future wife.

 

Suddenly, the doors burst open, and a sorcerer stormed in. Shadows flickered as he walked. The music and dancers ceased, stepping away from the door. After a beat of silence, Bikaia stepped forward. Nova trailed him. 

 

"I am Dark Star!" the sorcerer declared grandly. "I will destroy your kingdom if you do not give into my demands and give me the goddess Nova as my wife!"

 

"Excuse me?" Nova asked.

 

"You heard me!" the sorcerer continued. "If you will not come with my willingly, I shall take you by force and make you be my wife!"

 

"You'll try," Nova said, crossing her arms, "But you have some audacity, thinking you can storm in here and demand that I marry you."

 

Dedede gleefully rubbed his hands together. Finally! A depiction of the goddess Nova who had a spine! He could get behind this!

 

"Don't you know who I am?" Nova asked. "I am the goddess of this kingdom, the Wish Granter, and you think that you can just waltz in here and demand that I marry you?"

 

"Well, I'm confident that you'd come around--"

 

"And I'm confident that I would slaughter you in your sleep well before that day," Nova replied. "Honestly. Do you think you're the first person to try this? Did you really think you had a chance? You're not even fit to lick my boots clean!"

 

"I will destroy--"

 

"Really? You think you can do that? Single-handedly?" Nova asked. "Do you know how many sorcerers have tried to conquer this kingdom since Bikaia took the throne? Do you realize they've all failed?"

 

"But with your power at my side--"

 

"Here's an idea," Nova said. "Maybe you shouldn't try to control people who are more powerful than you. Honestly, if I had my way, I'd drop you into the heart of a volcano, but I'll settle for my girlfriend showing you the door."

 

Dedede's face lit up in excitement. This Hoshi no Kaabii writer might be a bit on the nose, but man, did they know a little something about how women ought to be written!

 

Galacta Knight burst into the ballroom and sent the sorcerer to the floor with one strike of her glorious wings. He fell over unconscious.

 

"Oh, my beloved!" Nova exclaimed, flinging herself into Galacta Knight's arms.

 

"I came as soon as I sensed that some obnoxious sorcerer sought your powers!" Galacta Knight declared.

 

Dedede raised an eyebrow. Okay, that line of dialogue was pretty awful. But still. The story involved a sorcerer getting told off by Nova and a healthy lesbian romance. Dedede wasn't going to complain. No, it was best to let this author know that they'd written a decent fic. Otherwise, they might decide to join the rest of the fandom in its unhealthy Nova being tortured and falling in love with abusers. Dedede typed his comment and then ruefully closed Meta Knight's laptop; his boyfriend was going to be home soon, and he didn't want to risk getting caught.

 


 

 

Kirby Stellarum perked up at the sight of an email on his phone. Finally! He'd received another comment! He'd only received two so far (one of which had been from that weirdo Lumpenproletariat), which was a bit sad, because Kirby had discovered that he really did like writing very much. Kirby cheerfully opened the comment, hoping for some sincere feedback, especially since he figured he'd really done something impressive with his most recent fic.

 

[AO3] Comment on Heart of a Goddess

 

 

TRIPLE-DDD left the following comment on Heart of a Goddess

GREAT FIC I REALLY APPRECIATE THAT NOVA GETS TO TELL OFF SOME DUDE AND THAT YOU HAVE LESBIANS IN HERE. WE NEED MORE NOVA/GALACTA KNIGHT BECAUSE THEY ARE GIRLFRIENDS AND LOVE EACH OTHER VERY MUCH. YES!!!!!!!!

 

Kirby internally screamed. Triple-DDD sounded just like someone he knew. This was even worse than the time Meta Knight had found that fic Kirby wrote about a vampire finding Brent Knight! Of all his friends, Dedede was the absolute last one who Kirby would want to know about his fanfiction writing habits. Kirby hurriedly typed a reply.

 

[AO3] Hoshi no Kaabii Replied to Your Comment on Heart of a Goddess

 

 

Hoshi no Kaabii responded: 

THANK YOU SO MUCH! THAT MEANS A LOT! I AM SO HAPPY YOU LIKED MY FANFIC. I WISH I KNEW YOU IN REAL LIFE (WHICH I ABSOLUTELY, TOTALLY DO NOT. SUPER SADNESS) SO I COULD GIVE YOU A BIG HUG!!! XOXOXO

 

 

Chapter Text

Kirby smiled benignly and sorted out the different colors of beads and string. Some of them escaped his paws and scattered over the floor of the Dream Palace. With a sigh, Meta Knight nudged one with his sabaton, sending a crystal pink bead back into Kirby’s reach.

 

“Thanks, Meta Knight!” Kirby exclaimed.

 

Meta Knight grunted, acknowledging the words, and turned his attention to the pile of blue, purple, and silver beads scattered before him. Further down from the knight, Taranza and Susie were chatting, engrossed in their own bracelet-making activities. Magolor watched them for a bit, noting with a spark of envy that Susie was–apparently–making a bracelet for Taranza and incorporating bits of Haltmann Works’s technology into it.

 

“This way,” Susie said, with a flip of her hair, “You’ll be able to blow things up.”

 

Magolor wanted to blow things up! He looked down at the blue crystal beads before him, half of them strung, and wondered exactly how Susie Haltmann had accomplished such a feat. Sure, the Lor was a powerful piece of technology, but her power came from Ancient magic. Whatever Haltmann Works’s technology was, it was something distinctly different from the Lor’s. And Magolor craved that knowledge, the knowledge of this strange and unfamiliar magic.

 

“What do you think?” Kirby chirped, holding up a haphazardly made friendship bracelet.

 

Kirby’s creation was a blaring assortment of clashing colors, like a candy store had come to life and thrown up all over it. “Beautiful!” Magolor exclaimed, clapping his hands together.

 

Kirby’s face lit up. “Thank you! I made it for Meta Knight!”

 

“Thank you, Kirby,” Meta Knight replied, his voice uncharacteristically soft.

 

Kirby cheerily went onto the tips of his feet and placed the…friendship tiara over Meta Knight’s head. Magolor thought of that silly tradition of the lady’s favour, wherein knights were given tokens from beautiful women. Except that said beautiful woman, in this case, was a small, pink child.

 

“I will wear it proudly into battle,” Meta Knight said.

 

“How cute,” Susie said, floating over. “The noble knight and his pink…thing. No offense, Pinky. I’m afraid I’m still not entirely sure what manner of lifeform you and Bat-boy are.”

 

Magolor laughed behind his hand, drawing a glare from Meta Knight and a sly look from Susie.

 

“Hilarious,” Meta Knight deadpanned.

 

“Oh, don’t worry,” Susie said, with a flip of her hair, “I’ve got a pet name for him, too.”

 

Taranza smirked. “Susie and I are going on ahead,” he said.

 

“So we are,” Susie replied, dropping a bracelet in Magolor’s hand. “I saw you staring at me, so I made you this. Ta!”

 

Magolor looked at the bracelet, gasping when he read the word, spelled out in small, black letters on small, white beads. Bitch.

 

Magolor scowled at Susie, as she retreated, laughing alongside Taranza. Kirby went onto tiptoe and tilted his head. “Bitch?” Kirby asked. “What’s a bitch?”

 

“Haltmann,” Meta Knight replied mischievously.

 

Magolor gasped and put a hand to his collar. “Sir Meta Knight! Why, I can’t believe we agree on something!”

 

Meta Knight’s eyes narrowed. “Just so you know, this will be the only thing we agree on…” The knight paused and chuckled darkly. “…Bitch.”

 

Chapter Text

“Hello, Kirby!” Magolor chirped, waving cheerily.

 

Kirby went onto the tips of his feet and waved before rushing towards the wizard. Magolor had set up a small, portable storefront that was covered in swords of many sizes and many very creative-looking hats. “Hi!” Kirby exclaimed.

 

“I’m so happy to see you!”

 

“What are you doing here?” Kirby asked, tilting his head as he inspected the sparkling gemstones.

 

Magolor rubbed his hands together. “Well, using the proceeds from my theme parks, I decided to branch out and try another venture! I’m selling these swords and armor! It’s best to spread your assets among many different things, so if one fails, you don’t lose everything!”

 

“Oh.”

 

“So what do you think, Kirby?” Magolor asked. “Help a friend out by buying something! I’ll give you a discount!”

 

Kirby’s eyes lit up at the bright purple witch’s hat and its matching staff. “I like this one!”

 

“Excellent!” Magolor exclaimed. “Boy, do I have a deal for you, Kirby!”

 

As Magolor went to lift the hat, a pink laser struck his gloved hand. Magolor shrieked and dropped the hat. Kirby spun around on one foot to see his friend’s attacker.

 

Susie Haltmann slowly descended with the help of some sort of robotic device. “Don’t listen to him, Pinky! Why put your faith in magic when you can have technology?”

 

“Technology?” Magolor asked. “What good is that? The Ancients didn’t build the Lor or the clockwork gods with technology!”

 

“My father’s company proved that we can not only build the clockwork stars with technology but many other things besides,” Susie replied, “So why don’t you stay in your lane, Wizard-Man?”

 

“You know what, Kirby? I’ll slash my prices even lower,” Magolor said, “And I’ll throw in a free gift.”

 

“Oh, please! You think you can out-capitalist me?” Susie asked. “Buy from me, Kirby, and I’ll give you a seventy-five percent discount and promise to drop my plans to mechanize Bat-Boy and Edgy McEdgelord.”

 

“You’re planning to mechanize Meta Knight again?” Kirby asked, horrified. “And Dark?”

 

Susie flipped her hair. “Well, I didn’t mean I would, but there’s no harm in drawing up a few plans–”

 

“Do you really want to fund the ventures of someone like that?” Magolor asked. “I only want to build another business to spread my assets and build a good life here on Pop Star. And because I’m so altruistic, I’ll give you an eighty-percent discount.”

 

“Oh, please,” Susie said. “You’re all talk. Ninety-percent, plus my promise not to enslave your friends, and a minimum amount of pollution to Pop Star’s atmosphere. I’ll even throw in a laser gun that you can use to shoot Wizard-Man with.”

 

“Excuse you!” a voice cut in.

 

Everyone whirled around and found Daroach standing atop Magolor’s storefront. The thief smirked and dramatically through back his cape. “Kirby, ignore these plebians. I’ve got the greatest discount of all. The five-claw discount!”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

What Kirby knew of kissing came from Susie Haltmann’s romance novel collection. The former secretary had taken up residence initially in Dreamland’s castle after the defeat of Void Termina, but recently, she’d spread out and set up shop in another corner of Dreamland, where she was working to rebuild her father’s company. Minus the colonization. Or so she said. Kirby believed her; Meta Knight didn’t.

 

And as the secretary had left, she’d flipped her hair with a hand and handed Meta Knight a book. “For you, Sir Knight,” she’d said.

 

It had–apparently–been a very raunchy romance novel about a secretary and a knight. Kirby hadn’t gotten to see it, but when he’d looked at the book and then at Susie, the secretary had rummaged through her novels and produced one. “For you, Pinky,” she said, and shooting a glare at Meta Knight, “It’s clean, Sir Knight. Don’t worry.”

 

And once Kirby had gotten older and learned to read and developed an interest in romance novels, he’d read it. And he’d thought about it. And he’d spent a lot of time thinking about it. And about Fluff, who–of the late–had made Kirby’s insides alight with butterflies.

 

It was time for the sacred romantic tradition of the First Kiss™. Step one. Cast lots of romantic looks in the direction of the object of his affections. Kirby went on the tips of his feet and did his best to gaze at Prince Fluff, who sat by the riverside and watched the tiny fish swimming by. Kirby widened his eyes and experimented with intensely gazing at Prince Fluff.

 

Fluff looked up. “Hi, Kirby!” he exclaimed.

 

“Hi!” Kirby chirped back.

 

So far so good. More intense gazing. 

 

Fluff furrowed his brows together. “Are you all right?” he asked.

 

Evidently, too much gazing. “Yes,” Kirby said, sitting beside the blue puffball.

 

What was the second step? Flowers or heated, casual touches? Kirby frowned, and seeing a bright, yellow flower nearby, he plucked it from the grass and passed it to Fluff. “For you!” Kirby declared, his nerves making his voice come out in an embarrassingly high pitch.

 

Kirby had thought adolescence would deepen his voice, make it more like Meta Knight’s dark, dulcet tones, but instead, Kirby’s voice bounced between high-pitched and maybe a little deeper than when he was a child. 

 

“Oh,” Fluff said, taking the flower in his paw. “Thanks, Kirby! I do like your Dreamland flowers. I mean, they obviously aren’t better than those in Patch Land, but they do have very bright colors.”

 

As Kirby dropped his paw, he made sure that it brushed against Fluff’s. Lightning shot through Kirby, lightning that had nothing to do with Copying Fluff’s talents and everything to do with touching Fluff. 

 

Are you…uh, all right?” Fluff asked. “You’re acting strangely today.”

 

Kirby felt his face warm, his cheeks doubtlessly brightening and making his embarrassment more apparent. His mind raced. What was the next step? Was it kissing? Hugging? Or did hugging and kissing come simultaneously?

 

There was a soft feeling, like a butterfly lighting on his cheek. Kirby leaned into the feeling. It took his mind a few seconds to catch up and realize that Fluff had kissed him. And once Kirby’s mind did catch up, it began short-circuiting. Fluff brushed his cheek against Kirby’s, rubbing their cheeks together. “Thank you, Kirby,” Fluff said, tucking the flower into his crown.

 

“Uh huh,” Kirby said.

 

Fluff’s brown eyes sparkled, even as his face reddened. He cleared his throat. “I hope you found that…satisfactory. I’ve not had any practice in kissing. Not that I need it, of course. I, Prince Fluff, must be very careful about displays of affection. There are many princess vying for my hand, and I wouldn’t want to–um–have them misinterpret my actions.”

 

“It was fine,” Kirby replied, his throat raw.

 

“Ah, perfect,” Fluff said. “I mean, of course, it was.”

 

“You should…” Kirby trailed off, trying to remember all the flirtatious words in Susie’s romance novel. “You should practice more, though. We should practice together.”

 

Fluff took in a sharp breath of air. “Yes,” he said, “Yes, I think we should.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Magolor. It is pouring out here! –MK

 

Sorry!! I’m running late! –Magolor

 

Meta Knight frowned and texted back.

 

I walked here! I'm getting soaked. –MK

 

So go inside? Help yourself! I’ll be by in a bit. –Magolor

 

Meta Knight pocketed his phone and teleported into the apartment. He and Magolor had set up a study date—except that Meta Knight absolutely was not calling it a study date—for their shared organic chemistry class. It had seemed like a good idea at the time. Kirby had been there when Magolor asked, and because Meta Knight might have felt a little guilty about hating Magolor for so long, Kirby's encouraging nod had been about all it took to coax Meta Knight into agreement. Well. Kirby and the Master Crown business.

 

Even though the Master Crown had nothing to do with Meta Knight, he still felt a bit responsible for it. After all, Galacta Knight—Meta Knight’s past incarnation—had created the Master Crown, and Magolor’s attempts to conquer Dreamland had, in part, been because he felt like no one was listening to him. 

 

And it was all very complicated and maybe Meta Knight shouldn’t have felt guilty about it all. But he did. Very much so. Some Greatest Warrior he was turning out to be.

 

Meta Knight drifted into the kitchen. He grabbed a soda and a family size bag of Dorito’s. Those must have been newly bought; otherwise, Marx would’ve devoured them. Meta Knight opened the bag and turned around, catching sight of the open laptop on the counter. He swiped his finger across the touch pad. Among other things, he and Magolor had talked about working through some of those arduous online class components, which meant that Magolor’s laptop would need to be charged. Meta Knight only wanted to check the battery.

 

But what greeted Meta Knight was Archive of Our Own. Meta Knight winced as memories of Royally Screwed, the most infamous fanfic in the Forbidden Fantasy fandom, danced in his head. That fic, which featured sixty long chapters of Brentkaia, was the bane of Magolor’s existence. He talked about that fic nonstop. But this—

 

Meta Knight squinted and looked closer at the screen, which featured an in-progress chapter. 

 

The plan was simple…save Prince Bikaia from having his head cut off…hide him and wait for someone to topple King Adstellam…but after days of wandering around the forest, I was at my wit’s end. Who’d have thought Bikaia would be such a brat?

 

Meta Knight froze. For an instant, all his mental facilities seemed to come to a grinding halt. It slowly sank in what travesty he’d found. First, he realized that Marx was the infamous Lumpenproletariat (because there was no way Magolor would ever write such a thing). And second, Meta Knight had found Marx’s magnum opus. Just sitting there. On his laptop.

 

Dear Nova, please, don’t read it, Galaxia said. Meta Knight, I am—

 

But Meta Knight was just so curious.

 

Presently, Bikaia was sweet-talking a barmaid. Goddess…I remembered the good, old days where royalty used to be dignified and wasn’t so taken in by a woman’s plunging neckline.

 

So…Brent remembered never? Part of the reason Bikaia’s peers had respected him so much was specifically because he was faithful to his wife Elise. Dreamland’s royalty had always been fairly loose with their sexual ethics, which had led to an inordinate amount of succession crises. Until, of course, Bikaia.

 

The barmaid said something, and Bikaia laughed obnoxiously…a sound which echoed across the tavern and to where I sat.

 

I finished my ale and stormed across the tavern, determined to end this mess before it could begin… Bikaia reminded me a lot of a young squire…and being a knight, I knew well how to bring a young squire to heel…

 

Meta Knight crossed his arms and glared daggers at the laptop. He skimmed through a gratuitous amount of purple prose dedicated to Brent pinning Bikaia in a corner and chewing him out for—apparently—sweet talking a barmaid.

 

“You realize, of course…that you’d never survive on your own,” I rasped, my voice husky. “Don’t you?”

 

Meta Knight rolled his eyes. He’d never wanted to read about Bikaia kicking someone in the balls so badly in his life.

 

The bratty prince’s eyes widened with fear…and desire. Yes, I could work with this. I…could take those and groom Bikaia into a good king…someday…

 

“N—no, Sir Knight,” Bikaia whimpered, his blue eyes wide.

 

I pressed my fingers hard against Bikaia’s neck…where I’d bruised him the night before, marking him so everyone would know…

 

Meta Knight felt like he might have thrown up in his mouth. He skimmed over the next several paragraphs, which featured a gratuitous description of the…love bites Brent had left on Bikaia’s neck to assert his ownership over the prince of Dreamland (truly the pinnacle of romance), a seemingly endless scene where Brent bent Bikaia over a bed and spanked him with the flat of a sword (dear Goddess, that would hurt), and a particularly intimate scene with so many ill-described positions that Meta Knight was left wondering if Bikaia himself had been replaced with some sort of rubber putty person.  

 

Admittedly, Bikaia being replaced with some sort of rubber putty person would explain why Bikaia seemed suddenly so spineless. Meta Knight might have believed that Bikaia was suffering from attachment to his abuser, except that Meta Knight had a hard time believing Marx could ever be that nuanced.

 

It all mercifully ended when Brent transformed into a snake and coiled around Bikaia, seemingly in an attempt to keep the prince from potentially running away during the night. Because nothing screamed “healthy, budding romance” like having to literally restrain your partner to keep them from fleeing during the night.

 

But, of course, when Brent woke, Bikaia was curled up against him, sleeping peacefully with the sunlight dancing in his hair and a host of other superfluous metaphors. With a scowl, Meta Knight deleted out several of the following paragraphs, which talked about how attractive Bikaia found Brent (ugh), how Brent felt guilty about beating Bikaia but knew it was for his own good (disgusting), and a mention of how Elise was an evil, scheming lesbian who wore only black vinyl dresses—but only because she was consumed with unrequited love for Brent. And Elise’s plan was—apparently—to torture and break Bikaia, thereby turning him into some sort of love-slave who would marry her and cater to her every whim, so she would be the Queen of Dreamland and make Brent her lover. Then, she was going to kill Bikaia and make Brent the king or something. Meta Knight wasn’t entirely sure what was going on because that plan made zero sense.

 

And King Adstellam as well as Bikaia’s father and older brothers were still alive, which meant that—well—Elise would have to get through quite a few people before Bikaia would even be king. Considering how incompetent Elise’s father appeared to be, it really made more sense for Elise to kill him, become the Duchess of the Stars, and agree to end the war with Dreamland if King Adstellam would let her have Sir Brent as her husband.  Clearly, Marx had slept right through DLU’s required civic science electives.

 

But really, Meta Knight just wanted to know why everyone in this fanfic wanted to torture Bikaia and bang Brent.

 

I’m very disturbed that your…acquaintance thought of all this and then, just posted it, Galaxia said, For everyone to see.

 

“And quite a few people appear to legitimately enjoy it,” Meta Knight said, frowning.

 

Meta Knight tilted his head and considered deleting out the whole chapter. But then, he had a wonderful, terrible idea. Meta Knight wasn’t much of a writer, but it wasn’t like he could make Royally Screwed worse than it already was.

 

Bikaia’s breath transpired in acute, agonizing gasps. He thought Brent might have fractured his ribs, but of course, Brent—being a degenerate, celestial swine with his cranium lodged up his own posterior—never cared about damage he might cause.

 

“Yes, Sir Knight,” Bikaia said noiselessly.

 

Bikaia felt a propounding aura of shame as he stood. Perchance, he should’ve fought more arduously. Maybe he should’ve fought until Brent beat him into submission rather than surrendering after only a few strikes with the flat of Brent’s sword.

 

But Bikaia also suspected he’d been ensnared by an especially vicious love potion or enchantment.

 

So far so good. Meta Knight frowned. He wasn’t entirely sure where to go next, and he wasn’t doing a great job at mimicking Marx’s original prose either.

 

Try a few more ellipses, Galaxia suggested.

 

That was good advice.

 

Just as Bikaia had been disentangled from his magically induced conjugal felicity for Brent…Elise had evidently been cured of her Evil Lesbianism™. She had inexplicably appeared in the same inn as Bikaia without explanation because I…Lumpenproletariat…am incapable of writing a woman doing anything besides wearing inaccurate period attire and chortling villainously…while torturing men to compensate for my own insecurities.

 

“Elise,” Bikaia extrapolated.

 

Elise uttered a little gasp. “Your Royal Highness…what has transpired upon your royal personage?” she interrogated.

 

You forgot her accent, Galaxia pointed out.

 

Meta Knight frowned and tried to decide if he could pull off writing a half-decent accent for Elise. Probably not. “To be fair, Marx didn’t even try,” Meta Knight pointed out.

 

Thank Nova for small mercies, Galaxia muttered.

 

Elise had glimpsed the heinous bruises that marred Bikaia’s alabaster epidermis…and being a woman of compassion and intelligence…she discerned that something most abominable had transpired upon the beloved prince.

 

Bikaia was becoming overwhelmed with emotion…and a minute myriad of tears cascaded down his cheeks. If Brent perceived him crying…Bikaia knew he’d earn a beating for being weak…But sweet Elise whispered benevolently and caressed her hands across his face, drying his tears with her gentle hands. “You shan’t have to survive on your own,” Elise informed. “You have me…We’ll find Nova together, and we’ll bid her to help us. And we’ll find Galacta Knight and bid her to help us, too.”

 

“Really?” Bikaia queried.

 

“Of course,” Elise exposited.

 

Meta Knight paused. He wasn’t very good at writing out conversations; he’d discovered. So maybe he should just skip all that and go straight to Bikaia leaving his abuser and going for a tromp in the woods with the once-evil lesbian who just needed a strong alpha man to rein her in and make her realize she was straight and good-hearted beneath it all. Or something. Marx’s plotting didn’t make any sense at all.

 

Brent, who could not abide being absent for the pivotal scene of the narrative

 

That sounded a bit like Hoshi no Kaabii’s fic, but Meta Knight doubted the writer of Suck It, Brent Knight would mind the similarity. They were, after all, united in their hatred of Brent.

 

Burst upon the scene like a rabid scarfy. “How dare you have the audacity to speak to a woman without my express consent?” Brent ravaged.

 

Bikaia, seeing an intrepid fisherman enter the tavern, immediately descended upon his parsonage, and after inquiring if he might borrow a fish (because Bikaia was a well-bred and polite prince unlike certain ignominious knights), Bikaia slapped the fish right across Brent’s hideous face.

 

Elise cheered and gleefully linked her arm with Bikaia’s. “Come, Your Royal Highness,” she flounced. “Let us assay anon and into a better place.”

 

Brent was promptly devoured by his insecurities and expired of spontaneous combustion. The end.

 

For a long moment, Meta Knight stared at the chapter. Then, he posted it and strode to the sofa with a bottle of coconut soda and an entire bag of Dorito’s. Magolor might be vexed at Meta Knight eating him out of house and home, but Magolor also should’ve shown up on time. Then, Meta Knight would’ve been spared the horrors of reading a chapter of Royally Screwed.

 

You didn’t have to read it, Galaxia pointed out.

 

Well, no, he hadn’t. But…

 

Meta Knight smirked when he thought of the look on Marx’s face once he realized what had happened. 

 


 

 

Meta Knight and Magolor bent their heads close together, both of them leaning over a string of equations that should have produced the correct answer. However, Pearson’s learning software begged to differ. Magolor sighed and swiped the bag of Dorito’s. “I hate my life,” he said.

 

“I hate the general education requirements,” Meta Knight replied. “I’m an astrophysicist. I shouldn’t even have to take a chemistry class.”

 

“Remember Dreamlandic comp?” Magolor asked.

 

Meta Knight shuddered.

 

Suddenly, the apartment door burst open. “Magolor!” Marx screamed.

 

Magolor sighed. “It’s my eternal torment,” he said morosely.

 

“Magolor! Someone hacked into my account!”

 

“What account?” Magolor asked.

 

Meta Knight smirked. Marx’s face fell, indecision flickering in his eyes. “I—um—well…” Marx trailed off.

 

“His Archive of Our Own account,” Meta Knight replied, smiling as he waited for the pieces to fall.

 

Marx gasped and pointed a finger, looking disproportionately affronted. “You monster!” Marx exclaimed. “You absolute monster! I don’t go around destroying your art, you—”

 

“My art doesn’t include Brentkaia,” Meta Knight said smugly.

 

Brentkaia?” Magolor asked, clearly aghast.

 

Oh, this was going to be so much fun. “Mangolord,” Meta Knight said, “Meet Lumpenproletariat.”

 

Magolor’s jaw dropped. “Please, tell me you’re not serious.”

 

Marx crossed his arms. “I was enjoying myself when I began getting a bunch of comments for my newest chapter of Royally Screwed, except I didn’t update.”

 

“No,” Meta Knight replied, “Because I did.”

 

Marx’s face grew very red. Then, he smiled sweetly, showing his too-sharp eyeteeth. “You want to play hard ball, Mety Knight? I’ll play.”

 

Meta Knight rolled his eyes. “Oh, please. Is that meant to be a threat?”

 

Marx’s eyes widened. “You realize,” he said, “That I haven’t even touched on dear Galacta Knight yet, don’t you?”

 

Meta Knight slowly straightened his back. "You wouldn't go that far," Meta Knight said.

 

Marx crossed the room and leaned forward, coming much closer to his face than Meta Knight would have liked. "It's a serious debate in the fandom," Marx said, "About whether the ship name should be Bikalacta or Galakaia. Which do you prefer?"

 

"You wouldn't."

 

But Marx was a monstrous, little gremlin, and Meta Knight knew he absolutely would. "I mean, didn't you once say Bikaia was her servant?" Marx asked.

 

"She was his mentor," Meta Knight said.

 

"Oh, I'm sure," Marx drawled.

 

"They...they weren't whatever depraved thing you're imagining!" Meta Knight exclaimed.

 

Marx patted Meta Knight's cheek and sauntered away. "You shouldn't have crossed me, Mety Knighty," he said. "Welcome to the corner of pay and back."