Robin didn't know how to feel about the fact that the Brotherhood of Smash's base of operations was on a ship.
She liked the steady feel of the ground beneath her feet. She liked having somewhere solid and level to plant her feet in. She liked knowing that the floor wasn't likely to give away without warning. She liked consistency.
This, though? She had mixed feelings about this.
The floor felt solid enough. Just by looking at it, it was like it wasn't even moving at all. The stillness of her surroundings was almost enough to fool her into thinking she was on solid ground, but the moment she looked outside the window and saw the blanket of white stream past, the illusion broke, leaving her with a strange feeling at the bottom of her stomach.
Ships tossed and turned with the gentle caress of the waves. The Halberd just floated. Robin wasn't sure what she thought of that, considering she'd never been on a flying ship before. She wasn't sure what to think of its creator, either.
A deep voice behind her brought her out of her thoughts. Robin tore her eyes from the window and over her shoulder. A flat, yellow gaze stared right back.
"Ah. Sir Meta Knight," Robin said, dipped the quill in her hands into an inkwell at her side. "Why are you up at such a late hour?"
"This ship is mine." Meta Knight narrowed his eyes. "A lord should not be uncomfortable to patrol within his own castle's walls."
Robin huffed. "If you can call this flying fortress a castle, I suppose."
"Do you find the motion of the ship off-putting?"
"Not so much as I do the idea of a flying ship steady enough to house a base," Robin said.
"I see. A little too new-fashioned for your taste, it seems."
Robin chuckled but didn't reply. She picked up her quill again, and turned her attention back to the parchment laid out in front of her, dyed a dull orange in the fading sunlight leaking in from the window.
For a minute, the only sound she heard was the scratching of her pen against the paper. In a slight flick of her wrist, she sketched out dark, inky lines over the white space, bending them together to form words, pictures, all for the greater purpose of bringing a plan to life. As she began to fall back into the familiar rhythm of laying out a plan, Robin heard a metal shuffling beside her.
Again, she set aside her quill as Meta Knight settled down next to her, and she turned to give him a displeased look.
"Alright. What do you want?" she asked, crossing her arms over her chest.
"The same thing you asked me," Meta Knight said. "Why are you up at such a late hour?"
Robin motioned to the plans beside her. "A little obvious, isn't it?"
"I have eyes." As if to emphasize his point, he rolled them in her direction.
"Then what do you need me for?"
"There is a fine line between seeing and comprehending," Meta Knight said. "Cross that line for me. Why stay up so late? We have a curfew, you realize."
"A tactician cannot spill their secrets, I'm afraid, even at their own expense."
"But what about at the expense of their tactics?"
Before Robin could blink, she found one of Meta Knight's hands pressed over the corner of the parchment. He could have wrenched it away from her if he wanted to, but he let it hang in the air.
"Information is power. Surely, you of all people would understand?"
Robin's lips quirked into a smirk. She thought about it for a second.
"It's a plan," she finally said.
"For what, treason?"
"A birthday celebration. For my goddaughter."
"Yes," Robin said, a little surprised. Then again, it was rather obvious.
"You didn't invite anyone here. Have you asked Lucina about that?"
Robin looked back up and found Meta Knight holding her parchment in his hands. She hadn't even noticed him pick it up.
"Give it back," she hissed.
Meta Knight gave him a sideways look. Without a word, he shrugged, and he tossed it back to her. "A bit detailed for a birthday celebration, if you ask me."
Robin scowled as she caught it. "What would you know about it?"
"Nothing, I suppose. Although I will say, you've planned this out quite well. Have you ever considered breaking off?"
"Ah. So that's why you were buttering me up, wasn't it?"
Meta Knight sighed, and he looked away. "I suppose it was foolish of me to try to... what is it people say... beat around the bush?" His eyes snapped back to her. "Yes. That is what I was trying to get to–"
"You didn't let me finish." Meta Knight's tone made it clear he was displeased.
"I didn't need to," Robin said, turning back to her work.
"But why? Surely you'd be wasted working your tactical mind over something as simple as a birthday celebration. You could help a lot more people if you offered your insight, not just to the Exalted family, but for hire as well."
"I simply like consistency."
"Is that it?"
Robin hummed, and she started tapping her pen against the wooden surface of the table. "A tactician has to have her secrets. The more people I help, the more people will see the way I think, and," she said, allowing a sly grin to creep up her face, "as you said, information is power."
Robin's leather boots made a weighty sound as she strode down the metal pathway, echoing on into the evening sky. Beside her, Meta Knight's feet made a much lighter sound, a hollow tapping sound that followed him as he kept pace with her.
They must have looked like quite the odd couple, the girl in the giant robes and the knight with the cape trailing behind them, but in the orange light, their differences were muted. The deep purple shade of her coat, the sharp blues of his cape, they all dulled to an orange tint of grey in the sunlight stretched leisurely over the horizon.
"As a tactician, you must understand the concept of risk and reward," he said, keeping his eyes ahead.
Robin glanced over at him from the side. "What about it?"
"The more risk you put in, the more reward you get out. Staying complacent as you are now, you won't get anywhere. It's a simple rule."
Robin clicked her tongue in reply. "Your knight is showing."
A deep sound came from the knight beside her. It might have been a growl. It might have been a threat. His next word did nothing to sway it.
"Oh? Are you attempting to undermine my authority?"
"Eh." Robin made a half-hearted gesture with her hand. "If valor and honor are things you consider important, any amount of risk is fair as long as the reward is high enough. Meanwhile, I," she said, pointing to herself, "am a tactician, and logic dictates my movements. While you seek the option with the highest reward, I will always seek the option with the least risk and the reward you keep telling me of, it hardly seems to hold any value against the risk."
"I have seen greater men abandon logic for the sake of their personal gains," Meta Knight said. "It isn't everything, you know."
"Well, I suppose that's the problem. I just don't care enough about it."
With that, Robin turned and walked away. Her footsteps were the only sound that reached her ears as she continued down the walkway, eyes straight ahead. A few seconds passed, and when she didn't hear Meta Knight chase after her, she assumed he'd disappeared like he usually did.
"So, you prefer consistency? Nothing stays consistent, you know."
"Oh?" Robin called over her shoulder. "Is that a threat?"
"It's a warning."
"A warning?" Robin stopped, and she turned to face Meta Knight once again.
"Wasting your mind on... planning birthday celebrations, and rust will take to that tactical sense of yours you like so much."
"Like you could do any better," Robin said.
Meta Knight glared at her. Robin glared back, refusing to back down. With their gazes locked, she expected this to go on for some time. To her surprise, Meta Knight broke his gaze very easily.
"I won't know. I've never prepared a birthday celebration before."
This came as a surprise to Robin; the first she'd had with him.
"You have a son, do you not?" she asked. "Kirby? Was that his name?"
Meta Knight made a so-so motion with his hand. "It's complicated. He grew up on his own."
"You didn't raise him?"
"I gave him a bit of guidance, but that was it. Personal attachments are not something I do."
"You have your crew of Meta Knights," she said, sweeping her hand over the ship beneath them. "Out of the many creatures that help run this massive metal behemoth, you consider none of them close?"
"But why?" Robin said with a shake of her head.
"Personal attachments are a bother. If you have to slow yourself down for the sake of others, you run the risk of rusting. If you want to be the strongest you can be, it's best to shed them off."
Robin gave a disbelieving grunt. "You're insufferable."
"And you're stubborn."
"Aren't we all."
Robin turned to walk away with an indignant huff. She'd not taken one step before she felt the ground give away beneath her.
A scream tore itself from her lips as she lost her balance, and she suddenly found herself facing the ground thousands of miles below her. When she'd reached the edge of the walkway, she hadn't noticed. Maybe her senses were dulling.
Before she could slip off the edge, though, she felt a firm grip wrap around her hand. She was pulled back in, and when she turned around, she found herself face to face with Meta Knight again.
"Rusty," he said.
Robin was almost sure she imagined the glint of amusement in his eyes. After all, she'd almost fallen to her death.
"You need to install a guardrail here," Robin said, her heart taking a moment to settle back down in her chest.
Meta Knight frowned. "I don't usually have non-fliers visit back here; you just wandered a little too face. I suppose a guardrail couldn't hurt, though."
He spun around and made to leave. Before he could take a step, however, Robin called out to him.
When he turned back to her, his expression betrayed no change in emotion; at least, that was what she could see from behind that dammed mask. "What else do you want?"
"You could have let me fall. The fact that you didn't, I think, speaks of personal attachment."
"It was simply the better thing to do," Meta Knight replied.
"Perhaps." Robin let a smile grace her lips, before she said, "Remember how you said, the more risk you put in, the more reward you get out?"
Meta Knight just nodded. "Yes."
"Then if you consider slowing yourself down a risk, what is the reward at the other end?"
Meta Knight hesitated. "I haven't considered that."
"A friend, perhaps? Someone to pull you back into place when you get too slow?"
Another pause. Another moment of thought. "Perhaps," was all he said.
It had been a long day for Meta Knight. With the sun almost completely beneath the skyline, he'd finally decided to take a break and get himself something to eat. All he'd found in the fridge, however, was a stack of what Kirby had called, "pancakes", and while Meta Knight was usually hesitant to try new foods, for today, he'd take anything he could get his hands on.
Nevertheless, he couldn't help but be a bit annoyed when he felt someone sit down beside him.
"Am I interrupting?" Robin said from beside him.
"No. Not at all," Meta Knight said, and he tore his eyes away from the plate of food in front of him. "It is unusual to see you approach me first. Usually, it is the other way around."
"That's actually what I wanted to talk about. Why did you feel you had to approach me in the first place?"
"You remind me of myself."
"Oh?" Robin settled down next to him, taking a second to make herself comfortable, before motioning for him to continue.
"You and I, we started in very much the same place. You as Chrom's advisor, and I, as counsel to King Dedede," he said, turning to the side.
"You broke off because you felt you were wasted in the position. Is that true?"
With that, Meta Knight reached over and grabbed a bottle of red sauce from the edge of the table. The bottle made a squelching sound as he splattered a helping of the sauce onto the pancakes. He'd admit it did look rather unsightly, but Kirby had been eager to recommend this strange confection to him, and with a resigned sigh, he reached a finger under his mask and pushed it up just a bit.
"Then why did you stop?" Robin asked.
Meta Knight paused, a pancake inches from his mouth, revealed from beneath his mask. "Well, I suppose I was mistaken. Besides, you seem content with your place in life, so I decided to let you be. Consistency and all that."
"I've been thinking about that," Robin said, looking away. "I think you may have a point. Consistency is nice, but I could stand to go out, travel around, maybe stretch my wing–"
From beside her, Meta Knight started hacking. Robin's brow furrowed, and she glanced over at him.
"Are you alright?"
"I'm fine," Meta Knight said, sliding his mask back down before he coughed again.
Robin's frown deepened. Her eyes fell to his plate, and when she caught sight of the red splattered around it, she said, "Did you put hot sauce on your pancakes?"
"I might have."
"Not my choice. It was a recommendation from Kirby," Meta Knight hissed out.
Robin sighed into the palm of her hand. "You can't force a flavor into any kind of food you like, you realize?"
"I thought food like this could be flavored however you wanted it to be."
"Breads and pancakes are not the same. Pancakes have a sweetness to them, which narrows the range you can flavor them with."
"And you know all this... how?"
"A friend of mine with a fondness of sweets told me." Robin stopped, and she took a second to reach inside her pockets and dig out a small, brown bottle. "He also told me it would be a good idea to keep a bottle of syrup on hand."
Robin popped the cap off the bottle, and a thick, chocolate liquid oozed out onto Meta Knight's plate. She let it run for a bit, before she capped it again and tucked it away.
"You can't force the treat to bend to your will. You need to listen to its whims. Compromise."
Meta Knight didn't say a word. He huffed. He pushed his mask back up and grabbed a chocolate-doused pancake. He shoved it in his mouth. Chewed. Swallowed.
After some quiet, he said, "Maybe I need to do just that, then. Compromise." He turned to Robin. "If you do not wish to break off on your own, would you like to join me then?"
Robin still wasn't sure what to make of the fact that the Brotherhood of Smash lived on a flying ship. She preferred consistency, and whether on the open seas or in the boundless sky, a ship just wasn't that. She wasn't sure how she felt about its creator either.
But she could say that now, he'd piqued her curiosity.
"I think I'd love that," she said, a smile creeping up her lips.