Perhaps unsurprisingly, Palutena had sent Pit, Dark Pit, and the chariot to the open plaza above the temple. The unicorns looked rather unfazed and simply waited for the next command. Pit, meanwhile, knelt down as his goddess approached them, though his doppelgänger only stood there with his arms crossed.
"Welcome back," Palutena said, and she gestured for Pit to rise. He jumped to his feet with a fervor reflecting his anxiousness to get back in the fight.
"Any luck finding the boss?" he asked, and with a crestfallen face, she shook her head.
"Not yet. But now that you've returned safely, I can focus more on the search. But for now, you two had best go tend to your injuries, especially you, Pit. How are you feeling?"
"Pretty worn out, but I'm okay," he said with a smile. "Give me a little food and rest and I'll be raring to go!"
"Speaking of which…" Palutena's gaze briefly flicked to Dark Pit. "Pit, you know the quarters opposite yours in your complex?"
"Yeah, what about it?" he asked.
"I think that's a perfect place for Pittoo to stay, don't you agree?" Dark Pit grimaced, tensing.
"Seriously, ENOUGH with the whole 'Pittoo' thing. It's stupid and demeaning. I don't care what you call me, just not that. No more." Pit blinked and frowned.
"I don't really know what else to call you," he said sheepishly. "Calling you 'Dark Pit' is just awkward for me. You have any ideas?" The question diffused the dark angel if only slightly.
"Not off the top of my head…" he grumbled. Pit tilted his head curiously as he looked at the goddess.
"What about you, Lady Palutena?" She thought about it for a moment, but shook her head.
"Not right now, I'm sorry. But give me a bit and I'll think of something." She smiled at the dark angel. "I promise." He stared at her.
"Okay…" He pinched the bridge of his nose and huffed, his wings extending a bit. "What's the deal here? I very distinctly remember you saying that my very existence is unnatural and I had to be eliminated." He looked up at her rather curtly. "But now, not only have you brought me here to Skyworld, you're treating me just like you would you little puppet here. So are you actually okay with me or am I just useful to you as fighter fodder to be thrown away when you're done with me?" Pit stared at him, ready to leap to Palutena's defense whether it was verbally or physically, but Palutena held her arm out and stopped him. She met Dark Pit's red gaze with her own soft, gentle eyes.
"P- Dark Pit," she began, and she took a breath. "Even that name doesn't suit you anymore. I misjudged you when we first met. But I think you did yourself as well." He arched an eyebrow. "You were openly hostile to everyone around you, and you thought you had to defeat Pit. But you, along with the rest of us, realized that you can't survive without him. And when that came to light, I also realized that you are not just some dark clone of him. You are a part of him, as he is to you."
"Two sides of the same coin…" Pit mumbled. Palutena nodded.
"You act based on what you believe is right," she went on. "You never allied yourself with the Underworld. You came to my rescue. No one made you fight the Chaos Kin, nor did anyone make you travel to the Rewind Spring to save Pit's life. No one made you retrieve him from Hades, and now, you openly deserted from the Forces of Nature without a second thought because you believe in this cause." She smiled. "All of that was your own choice, your own doing, your own beliefs. For all of that, I trust and respect you." He remained stalwart in his stance, but perhaps his gaze softened a slight bit. "You, more than anything, are your own person. Sure," she shrugged, "You have similar tendencies and habits to Pit, but you two aren't exactly alike, nor are you total opposites. You think for yourself and make your own decisions."
"You're more like my brother than my reflection," Pit blurted rather thoughtlessly, and Dark Pit stared at him. For once, there didn't appear to be any hostility in his red eyes, but he did look absolutely bewildered. Palutena, meanwhile, gave a thoughtful nod.
"I believe he's right," she said with a smile. "You two act, bicker, fight, and support each other as if you were brothers." The dark angel glanced up to her, then back to his lighter counterpart. To Pit's relief, his smirk actually looked closer to a smile, and he chuckled as he shook his head.
"I guess we do," he agreed.
"Yeah…" Pit smiled and shrugged. "Anyway, we'd better get you situated. I can show you around and all that, help you get settled. And after that, I'm taking a bath and finding something to eat!" Palutena gave a humorous smile.
"I'll leave you both to that. In the meantime, I'm going to see if I can't uncover any useful information." Pit bowed quickly.
"Let me know if you find anything," he said. "Until then, excuse us." He turned toward his twin, then stopped and glanced over to the unicorns. "Uh…"
"Don't worry, I'll take care of that too," Palutena laughed. "Just get some rest, both of you." Pit dipped his head, then turned and headed for the stairs leading into the temple. He beckoned for Dark Pit to follow him, and the dark angel complied.
Pit led the way through the temple with only the sound of their footsteps and rustling wings around him, and the further they went, the more awkward it was. Already a bit nervous about the situation and exhausted from the battle, he was nearly desperate to fill the near silence.
"So…" he said, glancing over to his doppelgänger. "I, uh… I don't think I ever thanked you."
"For what?" Dark Pit asked casually, barely glancing at his counterpart.
"Well…" Pit shrugged. Maybe the silence was less awkward. "For saving my life. Twice." Maybe he imagined it, but he thought he saw something flicker across his twin's face. "Y'know, between my wings and the whole thing with Hades…" He shuddered, preferring to keep the memory of traversing the lord of the Underworld's bowels locked away in the back of his mind. Dark Pit shrugged and smirked at him.
"No you, no me, remember?" He said. "I'd prefer to keep my own skin, thank you. And besides, Palutena and Viridi needed you, and I'd never hear the end of it if I let something happen to you. And I guess I've come to sort of tolerate you."
"Oh, thanks!" Pit snapped back with a grin on his face, and he shoved his dark twin playfully. Dark Pit quickly recovered his balance and gave him a challenging, albeit amused, glare, and the two scrambled and chased each other through the temple like a pair of hooligans. The few patrolling Centurions they passed stared at them, and they may have been concerned for their captain if he wasn't laughing so hard his sides hurt. By the time they reached the temple's main doors, they were both panting, and Pit wiped the sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand. He stepped toward the doors and grabbed the handle of one, then looked back at his dark counterpart who was straightening out his tunic.
"You ready?" Pit wondered, and Dark Pit gave him a somewhat quizzical look as he nodded. Pit grinned and shoved the door open, and both angels were briefly blinded by the bright light that flowed in. Beyond it were the great islets and architecture of Pit's beloved homeland.
"Welcome to Skyworld," he said brightly as the dark angel stepped out of the temple and scanned their surroundings. "Welcome home." Dark Pit took in the sights with a bit more interest than Pit had expected, though the lighter angel could not for the life of him figure out what his counterpart was thinking. He did, however, manage to hear a word he likely wasn't supposed to, given how quietly the dark angel mumbled it.
"Home." Pit decided not to ask about it, and after a moment, Dark Pit shook his head slightly and turned to him. "In case you forgot, neither of us can fly," he said. "How do we get around?"
"Like this!" Pit jumped from the edge of the islet and spread his wings, catching a fantastic updraft that carried him to the next landing. "We may not be able to fly, but we can glide! The updrafts and wind will give you the extra boost you need. Try it!" Dark Pit took a step back, then launched himself forward and glided to the next islet with enough grace to suggest he had been doing it all his life. Pit stepped aside to give him room to land, a wide smile plastered on his face.
"Nice!" He gave an approving nod.
"Anything you can do, I can do better," Dark Pit said, and Pit rolled his eyes.
"Come on, my complex isn't too far from here." He led the way from islet to islet, making their way through the floating landscape that was Skyworld. They passed small shrines, a large plaza where the Centurions often gathered, and bubbling springs with flowers growing near their edges. The setting sun bathed the islets in golden light, making almost everything look like it was glowing. Pit glanced back at his twin to assure he was keeping up well enough, and he couldn't help but notice the fascination, even awe, on Dark Pit's face.
"What's so interesting?" He asked, and Dark Pit's gaze snapped to him. He frowned thoughtfully.
"I've only seen Skyworld once," he reminded the lighter angel. "And that was when it was in shambles." He smirked at Pit's curious face. "Even I can appreciate how this place looks when it's at peace." He shrugged. "I'm glad it's recovered so well." Pit expected some kind of jape or sarcastic remark to follow, but it never came. Evidently his dark counterpart was capable of being sincere, and not just when he was fighting. He figured it would be best to leave the subject alone.
They arrived at a housing complex on a larger islet, and Pit led the way inside. It was a fairly decent place consisting of a long corridor with several doors into each quarter on either side, and at the end was a set of double doors between two spiraling staircases. Naturally, the entire place was made of stone and marble with pillars strategically placed to keep the structure sturdy.
"There's a fairly big hot spring through there," Pit said as he pointed at the doors at the end of the corridor. "I don't tend to use it all that often, though."
"You?" Dark Pit scoffed. "The guy who jumps in without a second thought?"
"A lot of the Centurions who live here like their spa time too," Pit said with a shrug. "So it's usually pretty crowded. Besides, I prefer the open air baths anyway." He made his way to the stairs on the right of the hot spring, and his dark twin followed him up to a landing overlooking the rest of the corridor. Another door waited there, and a matching one stood on the opposite side. Pit opened it and gestured Dark Pit inside, and the dark angel meandered into the rather large chamber.
It was fairly sparse in terms of furnishings, consisting of a bed, a stand next to it, a couple of chairs, and a nearby table with a small fountain on top of it. A skylight above would likely provide plenty of light during the day, and windows overlooking the rest of Skyworld made up most of the opposite wall.
"All yours," Pit said with a smile. "My quarter is on the other side. This one is supposed to go to whoever makes Captain after someone else is promoted to Commander, but…" he snorted. "No luck yet on that front, so it's free for you to use."
"Huh," Dark Pit huffed. "Wait, Commander? So you're not the highest rank?"
"I'm Captain of Lady Palutena's guard," Pit replied. "Well, officially. I do some other stuff with the rest of the army as needed, but that's mostly because the Centurions are…"
"Incompetent?" Dark Pit offered, and Pit grimaced.
"Sure, that's a word for it. Anyway, so I'm the highest ranking officer in Lady Palutena's guard specifically, but not necessarily of the whole army. Skyworld is supposed to have an overall Commander that is essentially second only to Lady Palutena herself."
"Why aren't you in that position?" Dark Pit wondered as he made his way around the room, inspecting his temporary residence.
"Uh…" Pit frowned. "Lady Palutena says I'm not experienced enough for that. I can handle the guard well enough, but the entirety of her army is a different beast. I assume she'll officially promote me when she thinks I'm ready, but I don't think either of us are all that worried about it given the… skill of the soldiers."
"So you just go without any official Commander," Dark Pit surmised, and Pit nodded. "I guess it doesn't matter too much, what with the mostly useless Centurions."
"Pretty much," Pit agreed. "Anyway…" He stretched his arms and wings. "I'm beat. I'm gonna go get some sleep. If you need anything, just let me know." He paused and frowned. "...You good for now?"
"Don't see why not," the dark angel said. "I can take care of myself." Pit nodded again.
"Okay. Then… sleep well, Pittoo-" he stopped short. "Sorry, habit." Dark Pit eyed him. "G'night, Dark Pit." He frowned and groaned. "That's so weird. I really hope we can come up with something else."
"Okay, okay," the dark angel rolled his eyes. "Just get out of here. Get some rest. I don't need you dying out there." Pit smiled and dipped his head, and he waved as he left and closed the door behind him.
Dark Pit sighed and turned to the windows, taking one more look over the islets and the clouds surrounding them as the sun began to sink beneath them. He crossed his arms, his mind wandering to what felt like a hundred places at once. No doubt he'd never hear the end of it from Viridi for his actions, and he wasn't exactly looking forward to Palutena's orders. He appreciated her hospitality, but hoped she wasn't expecting any favors in return.
As his red gaze scanned the landscape, however, he couldn't help but feel a certain draw to it. The sight of Skyworld in all its splendor somehow made him feel at ease, a familiarity he certainly hadn't picked up on his own. He shook his head and decided to blame it on his counterpart, and he turned away from the windows as his dark wings twitched. He pulled off his boots, braces, and tunic, throwing them into a messy pile nearby. He sat down on the side of the bed and removed the laurel crown from his head, and he set it on the bedside stand as he laid down on his side and spread his wings out. There was something about the way the lingering sunlight reflected off the gold leaves of the laurels that oddly captivated him in a way he'd never noticed before.
"Get it together," he huffed at himself, and he adjusted to lay on his front side. It wasn't long before the day's events caught up to him once more, and he soon fell into a deep sleep.