A/N: Full disclosure: this was supposed to go up over the holiday season, back before the new year. However, some real life stuff came up, and actually managed to get worse early this year. I won't talk about it now, but suffice to say, it's been a bad few weeks for me, even if things are finally starting to smooth out. (I think it's gonna be a long year, TBH...)
Still, I loved this story too much not to share as soon as I could. I hope you guys enjoy it too!
He was pacing again.
It had been two weeks since Hades had destroyed the Three Sacred Treasures. Less than three weeks since Pit had been revived in the Rewind Spring. About four weeks since Pit had woken up to a nightmare.
Probably three years since he'd known anything resembling a moment of peace.
This was different, at least, from the usual laps around the temple that he'd been making ever since losing to Hades. Different from the wandering, pointless walks through the halls of Skyworld, broken up only when he trained himself until he nearly dropped.
No, this time was different. This time had a purpose.
He nodded to the Centurions that passed him, sometimes asked them for directions. Not that they could help much-they couldn't even tell the difference between the two of them, it seemed.
He finally found what-who-he was looking for, rounding the corner and seeing the balcony. It was no different from any other-a small platform with railing, allowing a good view of the sky. A being who wasn't born to fly might've found it terrifying. Pit found it comforting- though, less so after so much of what he could see from there was destroyed.
Pit took a small breath and gently placed what he'd brought with him against the wall, hoping not to make too much noise. Still, he saw his target flinch, and Pit flinched himself in response. "Hey, Pittoo."
Dark Pit had been stranded in Skyworld for two weeks. For some reason, Viridi had insisted he be held separate from the Lightning Chariot for a while. While he'd apparently developed a bad habit of taking it on dangerous attacks on the Underworld, it sounded like he was at least doing some good like that. Pit wasn't sure why Viridi was so concerned. Or why Lady Palutena won't explain it to me.
Dark Pit's wings twitched, and Pit could see him nod. "Hey."
"How ya' doing?" Pit settled into place next to his clone, keeping his eyes focused out on the sky. Not on the ruins beneath him. Not on the other angel, who'd probably hit him for staring.
"I'm doing." Dark Pit was picking at the hem of his tunic, not looking up. He sighed, and, without moving, added, "Go sleep. You're a mess."
"No, you're not. You haven't relaxed the whole time I've been here." Dark Pit shook his head, eyes still fixed over the balcony. "I… I know you haven't been sleeping right. You've been wandering the temple like a lost child. Just… Go. Go take care of yourself, you idiot."
Pti felt his own wings wrap around his shoulders, and he sighed. "I…" He let go of the railing, throwing his hands to his sides. "I'm so mad at myself! I couldn't stand to see Hades running amok any longer, but instead of fixing things, I just made it worse! I-I lost the Three Sacred Treasures, and now-!"
Pit groaned, falling forward and pressing his forehead against the railing. He felt Dark Pit shift next to him, and he muttered, "You need to take care of yourself too, y'know. I know you're restless, but you were actually doing stuff. And you've been strung out this whole time, too."
"It doesn't matter."
Pit looked up, seeing Dark Pit leaning against the railing with one hip, back turned to him. "What do you mean?" Pit pushed himself upright again, staring at Dark Pit in concern. "Of course it matters!" He scratched the neck of his neck sheepishly, muttering, "I… I'm worried about you."
Dark Pit was frozen still, arms wrapped around himself. The two stood in silence for a while, with Pit not quite able to force himself to speak up again. The dark angel stayed turned away, head leaning just far enough that he could watch the sky, hair and clothes and feathers all softly ruffled by the wind. Finally, he spoke.
"Stop lying to me!" Suddenly everything was happening at once, as Dark Pit spun around and lurched towards Pit, a manic look in his eyes. Pit stumbled slightly, while Dark Pit continued, "Stop acting like you don't regret it! Like it wasn't a waste to you!"
"Like what wasn't-" Dark Pit stormed by him, shoving Pit aside.
"The Chaos Kin." Dark Pit's voice dropped, and he continued quietly, "You almost died trying to save one of the Underworld's experiments. Or do you really not know how they made me?"
"No, I... I know." Pit rubbed his arm anxiously, his stomach turning at the thought of all the souls the Underworld had spent on their troops. "I just-"
"So stop pretending you care what happens to me." Dark Pit took a deep breath, then seemed to deflate as he let it out. "I know you wish you hadn't saved me from that- thing. I-"
"Oh, what, would you rather I'd let you die!?"
Pit hadn't meant to say that. Certainly, he hadn't meant to yell it. This whole conversation was so surreal. And maybe that's what he was hoping for-a realization of how crazy this whole thing sounded sounded. An apology. Even a fierce retort.
He didn't expect to hear a quiet gasp as Dark Pit froze. He didn't expect to catch his clone's eyes for only a second-when he looked over his shoulder, then turned back around, trying to hide the look of horror on his face. He didn't deny it.
Pit wished he could explain what he was thinking, but to be honest, he wasn't thinking. He wasn't thinking as he stared blankly ahead, eyes burrowing into the back of Dark Pit's head as the pieces fell into place. He wasn't thinking as he shot forward a second later, feet barely touching the floor. He wasn't even thinking as he threw his arms frantically around Dark Pit, one arm ending up flung over the clone's shoulder and the other wrapped around his waist. He felt Dark Pit squirm, felt him gasp,and it was only then that he could start to think, only once he knew he had Dark Pit somewhere safe.
He dug his fingers into the other's robes, holding him still in a deathgrip, then jerking him backwards. "Get away from that balcony."
I can't believe it. Do you really wish... You can't, right? This... this doesn't make sense. Not from you.
You were always so smug, so self-assured. But I guess three years locked up with your own thoughts can do a lot for a changing a guy's life philosophy.
Don't think I didn't see how scared you were in the Chaos Vortex. Or even back when you first showed up here to help. It was like you still couldn't imagine me wanting your help. Like you expected me to try to hurt you again.
I didn't want to. I never did. I just... I wasn't sure what to do. You were never like the rest of them. I could tell. You weren't like the rest of the Underworlders. You weren't some thoughtless monster. You just didn't know it.
You still don't know, do you? That's why you were running around doing such stupid things ever since you brought me back. You didn't think it mattered. You didn't care what happened to yourself. Or at least thought nobody else did.
...Man, you're so small. You feel like somebody who's never seen a decent meal, which... really, that makes sense, now that I think about it. You've never had someplace to call home. Anybody to help you up when you fell.
I never want that for you again.
Dark Pit froze in his arms, and Pit repeated-this time in a soft whisper-"If you don't get away from that balcony, I'm never forgiving you, you massive jerk-"
"Hey, whoa, I'm not..." Dark Pti trailed off, and Pit heard him sigh gently, head dropping to look at the floor. "Pit, I-"
Pit didn't say anything, but he felt his fingers curl tighter around Dark Pit's tunic. He wanted to speak, but he couldn't find the words.
You're not a monster.
You're not a waste.
You're my friend.
He knew feeling this strongly for a person he'd really only known for such a short while was odd. He knew he was being awfully protective over somebody who'd wanted to hurt him for so long. He knew that this habit he had of growing attached so quickly may hurt him someday.
But it hadn't backfired yet. So instead of backing off, he pulled closer, resting his chin on Dark Pit's shoulder. It was hardly a comfortable position-what with the wings and all-but he wouldn't go.
He heard Dark Pit sigh, and when Pit looked at his face, he saw his clone quickly look away again. "I'm too much of a coward to do what you were thinking, anyway. I just... Y'know, it's not like anybody was gonna miss me, so if I took myself out along with a chunk of the Underworld Army-"
"I'd miss you."
Dark Pit froze, and Pit could feel him tense up. Maybe Pit finally realized how close he was, or maybe he just now felt her could let go. He wasn't sure. Either way, he let go, stepping back-but not too far. "S-sorry, are you-"
"I'm fine." Dark Pit's wings dropped, however, and he finally turned to face Pit, confusion and maybe even fear etched into his face. "I just... why? Why did you save me? What were you thinking?"
Pit dropped his eyes, face going red. "I... I wasn't thinking, alright?!" He shook his head, looking up again, continuing, "I-I know you're looking for some deep, meaningful answer, b-but... I don't have one. I wasn't weighing my options. I wasn't deciding whose life was worth more." He sighed, one arm crossing over his chest and holding the other arm. "All I was thinking... was that I couldn't lose you."
He couldn't say how much his heart had ached, hearing Dark Pit cry out for help. He couldn't explain the swell of pride and joy he felt watching his clone lend a hand, the way that glimmer of kindness in the other's eyes brought a smile to his face. He couldn't tell him how much he'd grown to care. He was too scared. Scared, ironically enough, that he'd chase the other off. That he'd somehow blow the chance he'd been given. He didn't want that. He didn't want to lose this.
Instead, he ran a hand through his hair, murmuring, "Y'know... That whole time I was... while my wings were gone..." He saw Dark Pit go still again, eyes wide with concern (gods, quit trying to act like you don't have a heart, you moron). "That whole time... it was like I could feel you next to me." Pit took a deep breath, wings twitching at the memory. "I could almost see you standing over me the whole way, until I woke up. I-I know you weren't, but..." One corner of his mouth curled up, and he made sure to meet Dark Pit's eyes. "I'm just doing the same thing for you that you've done for me."
Dark Pit's lip twitched, but Pit couldn't tell whether it was holding back a smile or a sob. "No..." He wrapped his arms around himself and turned away, muttering, "I wouldn't have done that. Not if I didn't have to."
Pit watched in silence for a moment, before he sighed loudly, crossing his own arms. "Oh, knock it off!" He wasn't sure if this was Dark Pit's attempt at maintaining some kind of 'tough guy' attitude, or if he really didn't see it in himself. Pit would've been pressing him for an answer to that if he wasn't watching Dark Pit's wings shake.
He took a deep breath, slowly approaching Dark Pit from behind. He'd frozen in place, and Pit could tell by the pale intents on his arms that his grip had tightened. "You're not the bad guy. I know that-I'm not dumb. I can see it." Slowly, gently, he rested his hand where Dark Pit's nails were starting to dig into his arm. "You're not fooling me, alright?"
Dark Pit glanced over his shoulder, and Pit could almost see the gears turning in his head. He wants to say something, too. Something he can't bring himself to share. But that's fine. Maybe another day. I'll wait. If you can be patient with me, I can be patient with you.
Instead, Pit gasped, turning and running back to the entryway. "Oh, I almost forgot!" He'd been so proud of himself for finding it in the mess that was the Arms Altar, and he'd nearly forgotten it. Man, he was a mess himself lately.
But it didn't matter, because the moment he spun around, bow in hand, he caught the look of surprise on Dark Pit's face. Pit didn't say anything, simply holding it out in his open palms, and Dark Pit carefully took it, turning it over in his hands. "Lady Palutena said you lost yours. You can have anything else you want from the armory, but I get having a favorite, so..."
Dark Pit didn't speak, just running a hand over the curved silver as he examined it. He smiled, and Pit knew he was lost in thought, because otherwise, he would've tried to hide it. It wasn't the sort of ear-to-ear grin Pit might've hoped for; rather, it was something a bit more in-character. A tiny, unsure gesture, as if-cartoonish as it was-he wasn't used to doing it. And Pit loved it.
He sighed, and his smile fell-though when he looked up, locking eyes with Pit, he could still see the glimmer of joy in those red eyes. "...Thanks. This is perfect." He walked over to the wall, turning and sliding to the floor. He lifted the Silver Bow into the air, squinting. "And sorts of attributes, or...?"
"Melee up, but that's about it." Pit walked over and dropped to the floor next to his clone with a sigh. "It's one of the best all-around bows we had, though."
"Nice." Dark Pit sighed, dropping his arms and letting the bow rest in his lap. He looked down, either at the bow or just the floor, and the two sat in silence for a while.
"What is it?"
"Promise me you'll be more careful from here on out, alright?"
"I mean it. I... I don't want you getting hurt."
He saw Dark Pit shift out of the corner of his eye. Then, he felt a gentle weight against his side, and he heard his clone scoff again. "Fine. Only if you do the same. I'm not getting killed because of you."
Pit chuckled, extending a wing and wrapping it around Dark Pit's shoulders. "Sure, we'll go with that."
It wasn't perfect. Dark Pit was still fighting to lock his feelings away. Pit still wasn't ready to share just how much the other meant to him. But it was fine. They had plenty of time.
It wasn't long before Pit felt Dark Pit's head slump against his shoulder, while the other angel grumbled something about not sleeping right. Pit just smiled, lifting his arm and wrapping it around his clone, pulling him close and resting the latter's head under his wing. Dark Pit snorted, but soon he'd turned over in his sleep, wrapping his arms around Pit's waist and resting his head under Pit's chin.
It's going to be alright, Pit told himself, running a hand through the other's hair. We're going to be alright. I won't let anything happen to you, you hear me?
I'll protect you. As long as you let me.