Author's Note: After graduating from the academy a year earlier than anyone ever has, Fox finds himself with nowhere to go as the military states he is still too young to join. With his mother and father gone (do I really have to explain this or can we just go with it?) he is left alone with only his friends to support him in his successful but lonely life. Needing a place to live and a source of income to hold him over until he is old enough to suit up and do what he does best, Fox turns to Falco who offers him a place to stay. The conditions are pitiful and after a few days Katt offers Fox her apartment where she and Krystal currently reside. Fox accepts and within the next 24 hours meets the vixen for the first time. From then on things just get better...
Chapter 1: Ramble On (Zeppelin) - Sometimes I grow so tired, but I know I've got one thing I got to do...Ramble on.
The vulpine's fingers tapped along the edge of the table as he waited, a sense of nervousness easily disguised from the outside world yet seeming to inwardly overwhelm him. He lowered his gaze to the wooden desk and tried to distract himself from the upcoming news the best he could, choosing to focus intently on the coffee mug full of ballpoint pens that read 'Life is a beach.' It helped, if only a little. But despite his best efforts he couldn't shake the feeling that he was about to hear the words he had been fearing for the past few months.
Finally the gazelle at the desk let out a sigh and turned to face him, the distant look of failure in her eyes almost confirming his fears. But he managed a hopeful grin and leaned forward, still trying to be as optimistic as possible.
"So...what's the deal? Do I get to annoy you for another year or are you finally kicking me out?"
The playful tone in his voice caused her to laugh and smile in return, both of which almost immediately faded to nothing more than a small grin as she leaned back in her chair.
"If it were up to me you'd have been gone within the first week." she replied with a faint twinkle in her eye.
"You don't mean that." he answered, resting his chin on his paws and trying to look innocent, "You love me remember?"
The bovid cracked a smile and laughed, looking away from him and off into the distance as she thought of a rebuttal, "You aren't making this any easier you know?"
The statement was playful as much as it was serious and Fox couldn't help but hear the tinge of regret that resided within it. He figured so much would be the case, that the first animal he had met when he came to the academy wouldn't want to be the one to tell him the news he had been fearing.
"I know I know." he forced himself to answer lightly, "Just go ahead and say what you need to."
She looked back at him and met his gaze, the serious and ready look on his face telling her he was okay with whatever it was she had to say.
"Well as much as I love seeing you romp around campus," she finally spoke, casting another glance at her computer, "I'm afraid there's nothing else I can do for you Fox. You've completed every class that we have to offer for pilots, and even most of the infantry based and tactical ones as well."
His line of sight never left her and he managed to nod in understanding, not wanting the gut-wrenching sense of disappointment inside of him to be known.
"In addition," she continued, as if wanting to place more blame on someone else other than herself, "You've used up all the hours the academy is willing to offer you. Even if we could find a few more classes for you to take next year, they wouldn't be covered by the city. The same could be said about your room as well."
He held her gaze a few seconds more, the disappointed and knowing look in her eyes telling him that she didn't want to do this to the orphaned teenager. But he also knew she was right. There was only so much stuff he could have handed to him before the effects of the 'real world' began to set in.
Despite his life being in the hole only 3 years ago things had greatly improved once he managed to get into the academy. Flying came so naturally to him it was almost scary. He was told time and time again he was his father's son without a doubt and it made him more than proud. But the hype had overtaken him and he had skipped all of basic training like the cocky idiotic 17 year old he was.
Now look at me. Nowhere left to turn.
"I understand." he managed to reply, forcing himself to sound happy and thankful.
"I'm sorry." she answered him, telling him again that she knew more about his life than most. "If there was anything I could do, I wouldn't hesitate."
"Don't worry about it. If there's anyone to blame it's me." he stood and forced another grin before sticking out his paw to the counselor he had met on his first day of enrollment.
"If you weren't such a great pilot we wouldn't be having this problem." she replied with a hollow laugh, taking his paw and timidly shaking it.
"I can't help it. I guess I'm too much like my dad."
She nodded, still forcing a smile but both of them knowing it was fake. He finally released her paw and let out a sigh before giving her a firm nod and turning away.
"Thanks for everything Jen." he called over his shoulder as he neared the door, "I'm gonna miss ya."
"No you won't." she answered him, "But you better come pay me a visit anyway!" she added, causing the vulpine to smile one last time before pulling the door closed behind him.
Great. Just what I didn't need to hear. Can't say I'm surprised though, I knew it was coming.
Apparently there was such a thing as being too successful, and he was in that situation. There was nothing else the academy had to offer for him, and even if there was he knew it wouldn't teach him anything he didn't already know. All that was left to do now was get graduation over with and wait until he turned 21 so he could join up with the military. It wasn't his first choice, he had never really been a fan of being ordered around when it came to flying. But what else was there? He sure as hell wasn't going to get an office job and work in a cubicle for the rest of his life.
Flying is what I do best...it's all I know. But even with that being the case I still can't do anything with it.
He recalled what the recruitment officer had said to him the day before, telling the vulpine that the day he turned 21 he'd get him a uniform and within the hour he'd be in space doing what he did best. Flying.
It's only June though. March 15th will take forever to get here!
The same set of questions continued to run throughout his mind as he made his way down the stairs of the main office. Where would he go? How would he afford anything? Who could spare a few nights stay? He knew Falco would be willing to lend a hand but frankly the idea wasn't that appealing to him. Ever since the bird had dropped out of the academy two years ago he had become somewhat of a mess, still living with his mom and brothers and sisters, and working at the shop with Slippy and Katt. The avian was still his best friend, none of that had changed, it was just...living with the bird in that house made the vulpine shudder in disdain.
Then his thoughts turned to his other closest friend.
Nothing I can do there either. Bill is shipping out in the morning and after he's gone I'll be stuck alone in the dorm until they force me to leave.
The fact that his friend would be out in space fighting for Lylat's safety while he was stuck on Corneria doing god-knows-what made him grit his teeth in annoyance. Not only that, but the vulpine had wanted to be there with Bill throughout their service. The canine had become as close a friend as Falco and while he cared about them both equally he knew that Bill's line of work would be much more dangerous than the birds.
Unless an Arwing falls on top of him...
He stepped out of the main building, the air conditioned climate immediately leaving him to be replaced with the scorching hot June sun that rested over a cloudless Cornerian City sky.
Christ it must be 95 degrees.
Not wanting to dawdle in the heat he set off across the paved parking lot until he reached the grassy recreational/training area in the middle of the campus. He casually glanced over at the middle of the large field towards the fountain that, even in this heat, continued to shoot water into the air. Part of him wanted to run and jump in, knowing the cool touch of the liquid would feel amazing, but instead he merely looked away, now turning his gaze towards the large buildings on the other side. He knew the larger one to be the dorms where the students stayed, and to the left was the mess hall, and even further down was the gym. In the other direction were the many classrooms and offices that were dedicated to training and educating Corneria's next elite class of soldiers.
I'll almost miss this.
He neared the dorms, realizing just then how deserted the place was. Usually there would be drills taking place out in the field, or students playing ball, but then he recalled that the weekend was upon them and, in addition to the un-godly heat, no one would be on-campus or outside if they could help it.
What should I be more worried about? Finding a job so I don't starve to death or a place to live so I'm not homeless?
The fact that those questions once again managed to randomly appear in his thoughts only stressed their importance to the vulpine. Yes he was an amazing pilot. Yes the highest ranking of military personnel had come to watch him fly and had shaken his hand afterward. But none of them had offered him a place to stay, none of them had given him credits or a time machine so he could make it through the upcoming year. In the back of his mind he knew he'd make it, that in this day and time he could manage to live on his own for a few months before finally being allowed to reside under the wing of the military.
It's just...this is the first time I've been in this situation. After dad was killed I was almost immediately enrolled...
He reached the top of the concrete steps and took the handle of the door, surprised at how hot it was before throwing it open and stepping into the thankfully air-conditioned building. Reaching into his back pocket the vulpine pulled out his student I.D. and flashed it at the elephant behind the desk. He wasn't sure if the guard had even bothered to look up from the television to acknowledge him or not but the vulpine continued anyway, making a beeline for the elevators.
I mean, Falco's mom might let me stay a few days, I know she feels sorry for me after all. Not that I want to play the pity card...but I may not have a choice.
It was something he had gotten quite used to, and annoyed with over the past few years. It was mostly from the older ones that were in the military. His teachers, the higher ranking military personnel, and anyone else who knew his father, mother, or both. It felt weird to call himself an orphan, being 20 years old, but according to the government that's what he was, and would be, for another year.
He sighed and stepped inside the first elevator to open, still somewhat shocked at how deserted the place was. He hit the 4 and watched the door close off the world before him, leaving his mind to wander yet again.
So what's the plan then? Mooch of Falco for a few days or weeks until I manage to find some source of income and can afford my own place?
Part of him was ashamed at how ill-prepared he was for this even though he had seen it coming for nearly a year. In fact the only thing he had done to help himself out for this event was save up a little money in his bank account.
A measly 2000 credits. That might get me a month's rent somewhere...if I don't eat anything.
At this point he knew he just had to survive another eleven months. After that he could join up in the military and dedicate his life to fighting and defending the galaxy...just like his father.
The doors opened and he stepped out, taking an immediate right and heading for his room. He caught the faint sound of televisions and music coming from a few of the rooms on his way, telling the vulpine that not everyone had left the base for the weekend. Then again, even if it wasn't a Friday the place would still be pretty deserted since classes were over. There weren't many students who spent the summer on-campus, but they had families. Even Bill left for the two month vacation last year, leaving the vulpine alone in the room with nothing to do but watch television and occasionally visit Falco.
He had other friends...being the school's top pilot did that to a guy. But he wasn't the openly social type that most ace pilots or soldiers were. He didn't brag about himself or try to show off, he just did his best and kept to himself, and it was thanks to that that he didn't do much of the stuff the other guys did on the weekends or nights out.
Just never appealed to me I guess.
Looking up he had to put on the brakes and make an immediate turn to the left as he just did catch his room number on one of the doors. Looking down at the handle he noticed a red letter with a string had been attached to it, causing the vulpine to swallow in nervousness as he realized his eviction letter would be inside. He reached forward and took the handle in his paw, figuring it was unlocked and guessing right as he pushed down on it and opened the door. The sight before him was one he expected, but that didn't make it any less depressing.
"Hows it coming?" he asked, stepping by the brown bulldog and plopping down on the bed.
"Christ Fox!" he exclaimed, jerking his head up from the duffel bag stuffed with clothes, "You scared the hell out of me."
The vulpine grinned in response, his gaze falling on the bag only for a moment before flashing up and across the room at the now empty dresser that they had once shared.
"Sorry." he answered, "So...you about got everything?"
Bill straightened his stance and rested his hands on his waist as he stretched, casting a glance around the room and narrowing his gaze before finally nodding and looking back down at the bag at his feet. "Yeah I think so. This is the last of it."
Fox nodded in response, avoiding the canine's gaze and instead looking across the room at the door. He knew he'd ask about the meeting, and the vulpine knew what he'd tell him. If he said anything else Bill would try to do something stupid and help him and he didn't want that on his conscious. They were great friends, but Bill was just too willing to stop what he was doing to help someone else.
I can't let my problems become his. He's got his own life ahead of him. Hell he's already a sergeant.
"How'd it go?" he asked, causing the vulpine to inwardly smile at his ability to predict the question.
"Oh...they had to postpone it." he lied, looking back up and trying to appear truthful, "Jenny wasn't feeling well so I decided to wait until tomorrow."
Nice...now if she gets sick we know who to blame.
Bill held his gaze a few seconds more before finally nodding and kneeling back down by his bag, "That stinks." he answered, rearranging a few things, "I was hoping I'd know something before I left."
"Yeah." the vulpine managed to reply, watching the bulldog from the bed, "But don't worry about it, I'll be fine."
The shuffling from beside the bed stopped and silence seemed to fill the room for the next few seconds before the canine finally stood up, this time with a letter in his paw as he faced the vulpine. All he had to do was look at his friend's face to know that the dog had gotten him some sort of parting gift, and Bill said nothing as he tossed the letter on the vulpine's lap before reaching down and lifting up the two bags on the floor.
"Just in case you're lying to me." he finally muttered, nodding at the letter.
"And where are you going?"
The canine looked over at the door then down at his wrist to check the time before answering, "They are calling me in a day earlier than scheduled."
"What?" the vulpine asked, the realization that he wouldn't get to spend one last night with his friend now setting in, "Why?"
The somewhat nervous look on Bill's face gave him away as he answered him. "They think Fichina is in danger and since the military is running so short on soldiers, especially pilots, they wanted me to get there tonight so I can ship out in the morning."
If they are running so short on pilots then why not let me join!?
He stood up from his position on the bed, forgetting the letter and allowing it to fall on the floor between himself and his roommate. The shock that his friend was leaving so suddenly was somewhat surprising to the vulpine, as he knew the canine would be leaving the next day anyways. But he had thought they would have one more night to reminisce, to tell jokes and hang out one last time before they went their separate ways.
"You're going into battle? Already?" he asked, another realization striking him as the aspect of his friend's death became evident.
"They don't waste much time do they?" the bulldog asked, forcing a grin and holding the vulpine's gaze.
He managed to nod in response, feeling the faintest indication of tears in his eyes as the past three years of his life suddenly seemed to fly by in an instant. A few more seconds passed between them, as if each were mentally recalling all the good times they had been through for the past few years living together, until finally Bill cleared his throat once again glanced down at his watch.
"Well...I guess I should be heading on out." he muttered, shifting the weight of one of the bags on his shoulder before sticking his paw out before the vulpine.
His gaze rested on the paw only for a second before his own clasped around it, but a handshake simply wouldn't suffice for saying goodbye to a friend as loyal and great as Bill Grey. The vulpine stepped forward and placed a paw on his back, squeezing the paw in his hand even tighter before whispering, "Don't get yourself killed alright?"
The canine returned the hug before stepping back and forcing a grin, "Yeah. I could say the same thing to you."
The two of them shared a final laugh and only a second more passed before he leaned down and picked up the letter on the floor, slapping against the vulpine's chest and forcing him to grab hold of it before giving him a final nod and turning for the door.
"Later Fox." he said, stepping out the door and closing it.
"Later Bill." the vulpine murmured, still holding the letter against his chest and staring at the door.
Be safe buddy. I just wish I could be going with you.
After a few moments passed he finally sighed and sat down on the bed, casting a glace out of his window at the orange sunset sky that rested above the few military buildings before him. Despite everything, he knew he would miss this place. All the homework, the training, the early wake-up calls and bullshit rules...he'd gladly put up with it all again just to have another run.
Lowering his paw he looked down at the letter in it, taking only a few seconds to guess what was inside before finally opening it and pulling out two pieces of paper. It took only a second for him to realize one was a check, causing him to let out a sigh of annoyance towards his old friend's generosity. On the other piece of paper was what looked like a hastily scribbled couple of sentences that he easily recognized as Bill's handwriting.
It's been a great few years with you. I can't believe we didn't get each other killed somehow, but looking back I wouldn't change a thing. I know you wouldn't either. I want you to take this check as a gift from me to you for all the good times we had. I know you'll probably lie to me about meeting with the counselor, but I also know what your situation is like, and what kind of friend would I be if I didn't try to help out? So with that said don't even think about not cashing that check because I just balanced my checkbook and it would really mess things up.
Stay out of trouble.
He lowered the letter and couldn't help but shake his head in disbelief before finally flipping the check over and looking at the amount.
Goddamnit Bill. 5000 is a bit much don't you think?
In comparison to a years time he knew it still wouldn't be enough but looking at what he had now and what he would have thanks to Bill, it would end up making a world of difference. Not that he still wouldn't have to cut corners and live on the bare necessities. But at least now he had something to fall back on if things got really bad.
I'll repay your ass if you don't get it blown off.
Looking around the room once again and letting the effects of all that had just transpired within the past few minutes slowly settle in, the vulpine couldn't help but allow his thoughts to return back to the basics again.
Now I've got to get out of here...before they throw me out. So what to do?
A few more seconds seemed to creep by as he was left to think about his situation in the silence of the room before he finally came up with what was perhaps the best, and only, option he had. Reaching into his pocket he pulled out his phone and dialed an all too familiar number, allowing it to ring half a dozen times or so, as customary, before a voice finally answered on the other end.
Author's Note: Okay well as much as I wanted to jump right into the main storyline idea, I had to include what all stories must have to be at least half decent. And that is a boring introduction! But I had to have a beginning that would set it all up right? As much as I'd love to jump right into the whole Fox/Krystal love story thing, I can't do so without first setting it up. So I hope that a few people managed to read this, maybe I'll get a review or two. Honestly I put off starting this story for a while but I'll eagerly upload another chapter if it seems like its going to be somewhat accepted.
So there ya go, chapter one. Fox has reached a rough spot in his life and has to find a way to make it through it somehow. Little does he know how much things are going to change for him...