“Why are all the adults so happy?”
Ness was sat bolt upright in his bed despite the early hour. He’d had a nightmare, tried to get back to sleep, failed, woken up Lucas for no reason, and eventually decided to attempt to steal some mysterious sweet treats from the kitchen. None of this was unusual; in fact, it was so expected that the other kids had made a point of letting Lucas sleep next to the door so he didn’t wake them as he left. What was unusual was that none of the adults had tried to stop him from raiding the cookie jar. He had snuck silently across the floors, trying not to wake anyone. Then, he got braver. Still nobody. Wii Fit trainer was jogging up and down the stairs: she smiled at him as he passed. Nobody usually went out of their way to stop him (in fact, most of them were too asleep to care), yet today, the few who were awake at this early hour seemed almost happy to watch him sidle through the supposedly hidden door, bag in hand. As he passed the gym, Little Mac had stopped his workout to give him the thumbs-up, and even Lucina had broken her usually stoic exterior to give him a subtle nod. Everything was very weird today.
“Lucas, I don’t know why they’re all so happy, but I’m glad that they’re like this. I got cookies!”
“Can I have some?”
Pit woke up from his stupor to lunge for the bag.
“What’s the magic word?”
“May I have some biccies?” Pit stuck his tongue out.
“No Pit, the P word.”
“Piss o- “
“PLEASE.” Lucas rolled his eyes, but handed Pit half a biscuit anyway.
“They’re heart shaped! And they have some squiggles on.”
“Hang on, let me see-“ It was too late. Pit had crammed the whole thing into his mouth. “Never mind.”
“Your half has VE on it, what does that make?”
“Better work it out fast, BJ is eyeing it up”
BJ was the nickname that had been bestowed upon Bowser Junior by Dark Pit, and it was quickly adapted by the others. He was too young to understand why Lucas and Ness laughed every time he was called that.
“Uh, VE, solve- Oh I know! It’s love!”
Pit had finished his biscuit, crumbs surrounding his mouth. He put on a voice of mock indignation. “How was I meant to know that? I can’t read!”
“They’re heart shaped, it’s kinda obvious.”
Pit dismissed this with a roll of his eyes. “So, what do you reckon that means?”
Their question was answered by a trill voice coming from outside the door. The ever-nurturing Rosalina had come to wake them up.
“It’s Valentine’s Day!”
“Nearly a-there, keep going- “
“Oh honey, I can’t wait much longer!”
Mario slipped his hand into Peach’s and smiled at her. They were walking up a hill, grass lush beneath their bare feet (they had taken off their shoes to paddle in a river), the sun beating down despite the fact it was February. At the start of the day, Peach had slipped a white lily behind Mario’s ear: despite his protests, he had not removed it and it was still there, petals moving in the slight breeze. The smell of pollen from some nearby tulips overcame him, and in that moment, he was at peace. Although a rather macabre thought for such a happy moment, he remarked that if he were to die anywhere, it would be here, in this beautiful garden on a hill, holding hands with the woman he loved.
“Bro! Up here!”
The voice carried over on a breeze. When he looked towards it, he saw the distinctive green cap that belonged to his brother. Suddenly, he felt even happier and began to walk faster, dragging Peach up with him.
“I’ll race you!”
Peach released both his hand and her shoes, and began sprinting towards Luigi, holding down her summer dress as she went. Mario began to match her run, but not before picking up her shoes. He reasoned with himself that it was only fair to give his lady a head start. He caught up easily, but just as he was about to overtake her a figure barrelled into him and knocked him onto the ground below.
“Let your girl win, why don’t you?”
It was Daisy. She was laughing as she brushed the dirt from Mario’s dungarees.
Mario tried to look angry, but his joy at seeing all of his loved ones in one place shone through, making him break into a smile, and eventually a laugh. He rolled off Daisy and, lying next to her, threw his arms around her and brought her into a close hug. This immediately made both of them dirty again; neither of them cared.
When they looked up, Luigi and Peach were stood over them, also laughing.
“Sometimes I think you forget which one of us you married.”
The four of them were laughing before, but now they were completely gone. Tears streamed down their faces as they rolled on the ground. It had been a long time since they had all been together, and by god were they happy to see each other again. To an outsider, the sight of four grown adults rolling around in a garden might have seemed absurd, almost laughable. To them, it was a moment of unadulterated joy.
After several long minutes, Luigi finally managed to draw breath and announce that he had made a picnic for the four of them. All of them immediately perked up.
“Let’s not-never mind, I call dibs on the strawberries!”
And with that, the four ran towards the picnic blanket, united once more.
“Mum, I love you, bye!”
Lucina blew her mum a final kiss, and then hung up. They had talked for the better part of an hour, and she could have stayed longer, if it were not for the rest of the crew deciding they wanted to go out for drinks. She had agreed, but that had not stopped her bringing her laptop into the foyer where they were due to meet in order to talk for as long as possible. It had been too long, godammit!
Byleth was leaning on the doorframe, arms awkwardly folded. He seemed happy. Or not, he was hard to read. She pushed her sunglasses up into her mess of blue hair and smiled at him. Ike was perched on a table eating a Piri Piri wrap. He had already dodged several advances, and quite frankly had no idea what bearing the date had on girls making said advances.
“Marth, you look good!” The man in question walked in with a spring in his step. “Dressing up for Caeda?”
“What are you dressed up for Lu, the farmer’s market?”
Lucina was wearing an eccentric assortment of clothes, including (but not limited to) a tunic, Chelsea boots, and multichromatic sunglasses.
Robin looked up from her book to chime in. “Forget that, what crazy stuff do we have to do to get you a man?”
“Or a girl, we don’t know her life!”
“One of us challenges them to a duel, they let them win at first…but then you jump in and defeat them, leaving him-or her- no choice but to love you forever. Sounds good?”
Everyone stared at him. “What can I say, I fight for my friends!”
Robin returned to her book, seemingly exasperated. “Guys, does it matter if she has a date?”
“You literally just asked how we were gonna get her laid and now- “
“I realise that was a terrible idea and Lucina should just stay single forever.”
“Everyone deserves love, even people with blue hair. Look at Marth and Caeda! We’ll find you a man eventually.”
“What if she’s gay? There are 70 of us in this place- “
“Whatever Ike. Point is, there are loads of us, one of us has got to be gay, right?”
Robin perked up again. “Actually, one in ten people are gay, and there are ten of us fire people here, so…”
Byleth finally spoke up. “I hope it’s Corrin, Corrin is cute.”
Everyone looked at him incredulously.
“I was joking. It’s a joke.”
They all started laughing.
“You can make jokes?”
Ike spoke up. “Do it more! We like you and value you- in fact, it’s Valentine’s day so I can say I love you!”
“Aww, that’s so sweet! But for real though if anyone’s gay in this house, it’s Samus.”
“Really? Just because she’s the cutest girl here yet she’s never had a boyfriend, probably, I don’t know anything about her and I’m too scared to ask- actually, I kinda see it.”
“Mate, Bayo literally exists”
“Like are you saying Bayo’s gay or the cutest girl here?”
“Cutest girl- to be honest, both.”
“It’s both of them. Maybe they’re shagging?”
Their voices trailed off as they walked out of the door.
Little Mac stood in the mirror, admiring himself. After stepping out the shower after his workout, he had spent longer than he cared to admit doing his hair, plucking his eyebrows, moisturising, and dousing himself in body spray, and now he was holding out two outfits, torn between them. The tracksuit was more comfortable and truer to what he would normally wear, but the shirt and jeans were more stylish, and, to be honest, more likely to get the attention of any cute girl that passed his way. Although his 18 years on the planet had already blessed him with chiselled good looks, he figured that a well-chosen outfit wouldn’t go amiss on tonight’s quest.
“Man, I remember being your age.”
Mac had enlisted the help of Fox in his fashion-based journey. (Normally he would have asked Shulk or Sonic or literally anyone else, but they had said to meet them at the club). What had initially started out as a heated debate over whether trainers were acceptable clubbing wear had evolved into a surprisingly interesting and insightful discussion about Fox’s love life, and, after a few drinks to pregame, had devolved into him lamenting the loss of Krystal (his ex, Mac assumed.)
“I was out there, the stud of the pack, getting babes- and now I’m here.”
“Dude, you sound like my grandpa.”
“Honey, if you think that’s ancient then do, I have a storm for you.” Bayonetta swung into the room, ducking under the headboard. “I thought it was the ladies who take hours to get ready?”
“Yeah well- just because you always look perfect- “Mac started
Fox looked at him, one eyebrow cocked. “Dude, do you seriously think that women have black lips and perfect eyebrows naturally?”
“Babies have no concept of object permeance.”
“Ok, that was a good one but seriously Bayo…” Mac struggled to think of a comeback, but Fox stepped in to help.
“Since he’s a baby it’s extra hard for him. Come on Maccy, let’s put on the shirt. Do you want me to sing a song?”
“You put your left arm in, your left arm out-”
“I hate you all.”
“Mac, do you want to get laid or not?” The captain had arrived, Terry and Cloud in tow. Underneath the mask, he wasn’t bad looking.
“Listen to what the woman says.”
Fox put on a high-pitched voice and held up an imaginary gun. “Do you not know how to talk to a lady?”
“With lines like that I might have to- “The Captain paused dramatically. “WING-man you!”
Everyone groaned. Mac looked up, smirking. “Are you sure it’s me who needs the wingman?”
“You guys are all useless.” A blue head popped up in the doorway.
“Falco, I was wondering when you would show your face!”
“And I wish I hadn’t seen yours.”
The pair high fived.
“So, he’s talking trash about you and you’re just gonna- let him?”
“Yeah pretty much. He’s coming out to wingman me so I kinda have to be nice to him.”
“Fox is way too cocky to admit it, but without Falco, he’s nothing”
“Douglas Jay Falcon, you are in NO position to call anyone else cocky!”
“It’s not MY fault I’m better than everyone else- “
“You boys are all useless. How men became the dominant gender is simply beyond me.”
“Now that we’ve sorted that out, can Mac please choose an outfit so we can go get wasted?”
“Fox, do you know how long it used to take you to get dressed?”
“Yeah, I’m stopping Mac from making my mistakes. Also a mistake- thinking girls like your trakkies. They don’t, wear the shirt. Also, don’t get wasted and throw up on them; learnt that the hard way. In fact, I’ll give Mac a ride in the ship and I'll give him more advice on the way.”
“Mate, if your advice makes me end up with a girl who ends it like Krystal, I’m good.”
“Why would you even say that?”
“Shut up, the pair of you. Let’s go get wasted.”
“Yet another reason why women should be in charge: they have all the good ideas”. The group laughed as they walked out the door, looking forward to the club that awaited them.
If you were to look out into the lush grounds of the Smash Mansion, you would have seen that everything looked much the same, except there seemed to be more heart-shaped bunting than usual. Isabelle must have worked overtime, or at least got Villager to do it. The kids (and Kirby) were playing outside, throwing red confetti over each other and gorging themselves silly on discounted chocolate. Palutena was not looking forward to the night of cleaning ahead of her! The Pokémon were running around and shouting their names, as usual. They seemed happy, but as Pokémon have no concept of love, or holidays surrounding said love, they were probably happy for some unrelated reason. Or maybe it was because their trainers were happy. Nobody was sure: after all, it’s hard to get an answer out of somebody who only says one thing, especially if that somebody is a glorified pet. The villains seemed content- even the forces of evil want love! Except for Ridley, he’s a bastard, as Ganon had declared when questioned on the subject. There was a murmur of assent from the other villains. They had remarked that it felt strange that a planet-destroying dragon was considered in the same category as an orange penguin who mildly inconvenienced Kirby sometimes, but everyone had eventually and collectively concluded that anyone who could possibly want to hurt such a cute pink ball of fluff was probably evil anyway.
The day went on, as more and more people saw their loved ones: or in the case of Ryu and Ken, fight to the death, and then declare themselves best friends again. Simon and Richter had gone to do- whatever the hell they liked to do. It involved castles, or at least that’s what Link was trying to tell an exasperated Zelda, who was convinced that they were secretly vampires and going off to drink blood. Although they were both screaming at each other, it was clear that neither bore any malice, and their feet pooled together on their shared beanbag made that abundantly clear. Earlier topics of passionate debate had included Samus’ sexuality (it’s rude to speculate!), whether the Ice Climbers were siblings or lovers, and whether Dr Mario was a real doctor, and if he was, what was the topic of his thesis. That particular discussion had attracted the attention of Hero and Shulk, who were both firmly convinced that it included mushrooms somehow. All in all, it had been a good day.
There was just one person who did not seem to be enjoying herself.
Samus Aran was lying on her bed, staring fixedly at the yellow wallpaper. She didn’t know what she was looking for, what answers the torn patterns could possibly give her, yet she was determined to find something. Answers? Validation? She didn’t know. The life of a bounty hunter was a rewarding but solitary path, and on no day was that more apparent than Valentine’s day. Normally she wouldn’t have let it bother her (her train of thought being that she’d gone her entire life without a partner, why should she need one now?)- but today, it was getting to her.
She’d woken up early to beat up a punching bag in the gym, but her usually deadly precision just wasn’t coming through today. She kept missing. What else was missing? She didn’t want to think about it, and spent most of the morning sitting on a balcony overlooking the foyer, people-watching. Maybe a menial activity like this would take her mind off my crippling loneliness, she had thought. But then she’d watched the Fire Emblem squad leave to do whatever people with friends do together, and one of the blue haired ones had said she was gay and should just shag Bayo. She’d never really thought about it- either of those statements, that is- and pondered it for a while, eventually concluding that she didn’t think either of them were true, but even having a girlfriend would be a million times more people to talk to than she currently had. She could hear Bayo’s voice in her head, and it was saying that a million times zero is still zero. Shut up, head-Bayo. Nobody likes you. Projecting much? Shut UP, head-Bayo.
It was really telling that even her favourite pastime in the world – walking around and not talking to anybody- couldn’t take her mind off it. She’d spent most of the afternoon doing just that, but little things she’d seen throughout the day had just kept bothering her. Lucas stealing cookies to give to his little friends, Little Mac in the gym talking about all the ‘banging babes’ he was going to meet tonight, Peach tucking a flower behind Mario’s ear, Lucina talking to her mother on the computer, Olimar kissing his wife on the cheek or Ryu and Ken play fighting or Donkey Kong throwing his nephew up in the air; the list went on and on and on, all just little, things that had grown and grown inside of her into a giant ball of resentment that made her want to scream. Just everyday occurrences for people with family. All of them had a million people who would care if they didn’t come out to celebrate the day of love or whatever. She’d fought through hell and back, saved more arses than she cared to name, and what did she have to show for it? An empty room full of bitterness and increasingly disinteresting wallpaper. Her hatred of hatred of unproductivity was at war with her increasing apathy, which in turn was battling with misplaced anger and frustration and tussling with a nostalgia for something she’d never had- it was all too much.
She lay there for an hour, or a minute, or a day. It was hard to tell. Time was meaningless and nothing matters because we’re all going to die, and I’m going to do it alone. Tap, tap. She looked down at her wrist, the way she had seen Snake do, then realised that she didn’t own a watch and never had. She was truly going insane. The ticking noise continued. It felt very far away yet very present at the same time. Tap. Tap. It seemed to be getting closer, and with it, her increasing paranoia. Was it a bomb? Was this how it ended- here, alone and friendless, in a room where the main quality was the intricacies of the wallpaper?
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. Samus sprung up, as if burnt. Her well trained instincts made her lunge for the side table and grab the gun that was on top of it, but before she could do anything else, the door opened.
“Sam, what the f- “
“Who are you? What do you want?”
“Sam, it’s me.”
She relaxed slightly at the sight of Snake, but her gun was still raised.
A figure appeared in the doorframe, towering above Snake.
“Wolf’s here too. Don’t shoot him, he came home from the club for you.”
“Wasn’t a hard choice. If I have to see another second of Mac saying he’s ‘soooo drunk’ I will punch somebody.”
Samus rolled her eyes, but put the gun back on the table. She asked what they wanted, exasperated.
“I- we- have come to make you happy, and we won’t leave until you are.”
“And how are you going to do that?”
The pair marched into the room and placed the box they were holding between them onto the double bed. Wolf removed the lid with a flourish.
“With a violent action movie- “
“-And fuck tonnes of alcohol. Beer anyone?” Snake finished his sentence, taking numerous cans of Guinness out of a cooler within the box.
“Huh. I guess you really do know me.”
“Singles club anyone?” A third voice rang through the hallway.
“My beautiful Sammy, it is I, Bayo, here to save the day.” In one fluid motion, Bayo ducked under the doorway, flipped onto the bed, and cupped Samus’ face in her hands.
Snake looked confused. “I swear you went clubbing with Mac? Something about ‘showing these boys how to treat a lady?’”
“I tried, but they simply cannot comprehend the fact that women are not magically attracted to Lynx-Africa body spray. Also-“ Bayo dropped her voice to a conspiratorial whisper and looked directly at Samus, face still pressed between her hands. “-I second what Wolf said about drunk Fox. Also Mac. He thinks you’re hot-” Samus looked up at Bayo incredulously. “-but then again, who doesn’t? Don’t look at me like that babe, it’s true. Snake, back me up.”
Snake looked away sheepishly, staring fixedly at his beer.
“See? Case in point! Anyway, since they are clearly lost causes, I came home to spend some time with this beautiful babe right in front of me. Singles unite!”
And for the first time that day, Samus cracked a genuine smile.
“Maybe Valentine’s day doesn’t completely suck after all.”