So I was kicking around ideas, and I totally went, "You know what I want? Dark Ace backed up against a wall by Snipe."

So here it be.

I continue to believe that Dark Ace used to be a Storm Hawk, then turned traitor and killed them all for Cyclonis.

And you know what I totally just realized? If you change the 'i' in Snipe into an 'a', it becomes Snape.

Shut up. I'm hella smart.

Snipe/Dark Ace/Aerrow. Set after A Little Trouble.

Kick the Habit

Inhale: everything bitter and base and bad filled his lungs. Exhale; it escaped him and went on to infect everybody else.

Because, really, there was nothing like spreading a bad mood.

He had promised several people that he was going to kick the habit, but it was never convenient. The day would end up sucking, or his Skimmer developed a kink, or the Storm Hawk issue, as he had named it, cropped up again, and wouldn't you know it, the damn cancer stick was back in his mouth, and he'd suck in the bad and blow it out everywhere else…

"This is an engine room."

There was only person Dark Ace knew that would so blatantly state the obvious like that.

"I was wondering why those big metal things were here," Dark Ace dead-panned. "Thank you for coming down to explain it to me, Snipe."

"You're welcome."

Dark Ace wasn't sure if the hulking knight had understood the sarcasm or if he was just playing along, but it hardly mattered. Snipe was beyond intelligence or hope.

"Thanks for making a fucking wreck of my ship," Snipe growled. "I owe you."

"You are most welcome," Dark Ace said. "I'd be happy to repeat the service, if ever needed."

Snipe growled softly, but didn't push the argument. Well, Dark Ace reflected, at least he knew his place.

"You messed up with that Aerrow kid again."

The nerve. The sheer, stupid nerve.

"I did not mess up. I put off victory for another day."

"You fucked up worse than you fucked up my ship," Snipe said triumphantly. "Are they even going to bother getting you a new stick-thing?"

"A sword?"

"If that's what you call that piece of crap."

"I haven't inquired," Dark Ace said tightly.

Silence reigned for a few moments, and then:

"Here." Snipe held something in his large fist. Two things, actually. Two battered pieces of something that resembled Dark Ace's sword.

Dark Ace stared at the pieces. "And what am I supposed to do with those?"

"Rebuild."

"Oh." And because he honestly didn't know how else to take it, he added a weak, "Thank you."

"So stop going easy on that kid."

Dark Ace's head snapped up, the action causing a large piece of ash to fall off the end of his cigarette. "What?"

Snipe grinned. "You heard me. Stop playing nice with the punk. The sooner we get him under lock and key, the sooner you can have your fun with him."

"What?"

"You heard me," Snipe turned all the way to him. "Don't think I haven't noticed. You're obsessed."

Dark Ace hadn't been aware that Snipe was in the habit of noticing anything.

"I don't know if you just think he's hot, or girly, or whatever," Snipe listed, advancing slowly, "But whatever it is, you've got to stop worrying about it and just fucking kill him already."

Dark Ace was vaguely aware that he was already leaning on the wall, therefore he could not escape the other knight's steady approach. And that the closer Snipe got, the taller he became, forcing Dark Ace to tilt his head up to be able to continue glaring at him squarely in the eye.

He'd never thought about it much, but if it were ever to come to hand to hand combat, even brains wouldn't get him out from under Snipe's bulk.

"Or maybe it's a Sky Knight thing?" Snipe continued. "I always thought it was bull-shit, you turning on them like that. Seems to me," And at this point Dark Ace found himself rather effectively pinned to the wall, "that you've got something like a soft spot for that kid…if you know what I mean," Snipe added leeringly.

Dark Ace's mind raced, trying to pull a good come-back out of the many files of catchy phrases stored away in his head…and finally settled for blowing a lungful of smoke in Snipe's face.

The behemoth reared back and retreated up the stairs, roaring in pain and disgust as the fumes invaded his lungs, and Dark Ace had to grin. To think he had really wanted to give his cancerous little friends up.

His cigarette burned out, and he pulled out another and lit it off the engine burner. He put it to his lips, and once more, in with the bad, out with the bad, in cycle and cycle…

…but leading to what?