Admiration of a Sun

Stealth Elf had always been a Skylander of mystery. Everyone knew that she was powerful and agile, yes, one of the greatest Skylanders ever known. However, very few could actually tell much about who she was as a person. Her past, her interests, and her character were all utterly unknown. To the public, and even lower-ranking Skylanders, Stealth Elf was an enigma, a figure of admiration never to be fully understood.

To Sunburn, scrawny, self-centered, and the epitome of a lower-ranking Skylander, she was a cute mysterious girl who kicked a lot of butt. And nothing was much more intriguing to Sunburn than cute mysterious girls who kicked a lot of butt.

“I’m going to go talk to Stealth Elf,” he declared one day to his circle of friends.

This was met exclusively with blank stares.

“…Seriously?” Zap questioned.

Sunburn nodded confidently. “Yep! Completely and totally seriously.”

Zap and Dino-Rang exchanged baffled glances. Then Boomer burst out laughing.

“Ha ha! Man, that’s a good one!” Boomer wiped a humored tear from his eye, and Sunburn lowered his brow at him. “Sunburn’s going to talk to Stealth Elf, ha ha… Hoo boy, that’s a good one! Thanks for that man, I needed a laugh.”

Boomer patted Sunburn on the back, still chuckling to himself. When he looked up, he saw three sets of eyes on him. He glanced around in confusion, then, landing on Sunburn, he blinked in realization. “Oh. You were actually serious.” Sunburn nodded, and Boomer paused momentarily, staring at nothing in particular. Then, slowly, he gave Sunburn’s back another pat and turned to leave. “Welp, good luck with that.”

“Why do you want to talk to Stealth Elf?” Dino-Rang questioned. “Nobody talks to Stealth Elf. Especially not guys like us.”

Zap snickered. “Uh, yeah. You trying to get stabbed or something, dude?”

“Of course not,” Sunburn scoffed. “Besides…” He put on a smirk, running a talon across the spines on his head. “Who would want to stab a face like this?”

Zap and Dino-Rang observed Sunburn’s arrogant grin, exchanged glances again, then turned back to Sunburn. “Stealth Elf,” they chorused.

Sunburn placed his talon back on the ground, shaking his head in dissatisfaction. “No, no, guys. That’s not how this is supposed to work. I say I’m going to go talk to a girl, you say…?”

“You’re going to get stabbed,” Zap reiterated flatly.

Sunburn blinked. “No, I’m pretty sure that’s not right…”

“Sunburn, dude,” Zap said, “there are only so many ways that you talking to Stealth Elf could possibly go, and most of them involve you getting stabbed.”

“What about the ones that don’t?” Sunburn inquired.

“You get kicked in the face,” Zap answered.

“Thanks for the support, guys.”

“It’s nothing personal, mate,” Dino-Rang assured him. “It’s just that we prefer our companions not to have holes in them.”

“Well, I’m talking to Stealth Elf,” Sunburn stated, “and neither of you can stop me.”

“It’s your funeral,” Dino-Rang sighed.

“Don’t say we didn’t warn you,” said Zap.

“Oh, please!” Sunburn chuckled. “What’s the worst that could happen?”

Sunburn set out to explore the island, searching for the Skylander he had in mind. He knew it might not be an especially easy task, all things considered, but he was more than ready for the challenge.

The task turned out to be a lot easier than he was expecting, because he found Stealth Elf in the very first place that he looked.

She was in the training yard, practicing her moves on the unsuspecting training dummies there, accompanied by Spyro. Spyro was prancing around enthusiastically, spouting fire and shouting at Stealth Elf that she was doing great.

And great she was truly doing, Sunburn observed. As her blades ripped through the fabric of her unreal adversaries, her long blue hair whipping behind her, she kept in perfect form. She was a master fighter, to be certain, and it was amazing that she managed to look so great while she beat a bad guy’s face in.

Sunburn took a deep breath, clenching a fist. He puffed his chest out, putting on a confident grin. Feeling lucky, he started forward.

“Hey Stealth Elf, I wanted to—”

Thwack.

Five minutes later, Whirlwind was removing a blade from his forehead.

“Why would you try talking to Stealth Elf, Sunburn?” she questioned incredulously as she patched the wound.

Sunburn groaned disorientedly. Having gone too long without responding, he received a good smack across the face. “Ow. I thought nurses were supposed to fix injuries, not make more of them.”

“The best nurses do both,” Whirlwind hummed. “Now seriously, what were you thinking?”

Sunburn sighed. “Well, you know, she’s a cute girl, and I’m a cool guy, so—” He saw the look that Whirlwind was giving him and grumbled. “I just thought it might be interesting to talk to her. You know, since nobody like me ever gets to talk to her.”

Whirlwind shook her head and clicked her tongue. “Oh, Sunburn. Poor, naive little Sunburn.” She gave him a pat on the head, then pulled him to his feet. “There’s a reason that guys like you don’t get to talk to girls like her. Because things like this happen.” She flicked the bandage between Sunburn’s eyes, and he gave a small “ow.” “I understand your interest, but trust me, it’s better if you just leave her alone. She’s way out of your league. And she’s not exactly the social type, anyway.”

Sunburn lowered his gaze. “Ehhh… I guess you’re right. Maybe it was a stupid idea.”

“It was an incredibly stupid idea,” Whirlwind responded.

Ignoring the remark, Sunburn lifted his head confidently. “But it doesn’t matter.” He placed a talon against his chest as he went on, “I have plenty of friends! Not to mention plenty of girls swooning over me. I’m Sunburn, after all. One of a kind. I don’t need the approval of some popular ninja girl to know that I’m awesome.” Blushing slightly, he scratched his cheek. “Even if she is pretty cute.”

Whirlwind conked him on the head.

“…Ow.”

“As much as I love listening to the sound of your voice, Sunburn,” Whirlwind drawled, “I have work to do. So if your boo-boo is feeling better now, you should probably be getting your feathery behind out of my office.”

“Right!” Sunburn nodded. “I have friends to talk to and rejection to not be disappointed about. Thanks for the pep talk, Whirl! Even if it wasn’t especially peppy.”

As Sunburn trotted away, cooing about how great he was, Whirlwind rolled her eyes, smiling fondly as she did.

“So you got rejected, huh?” Dino-Rang assumed.

“Yeah,” Sunburn confirmed.

“Shocker,” said Zap.

Sunburn fluffed his wings and lifted his head. “But it doesn’t matter,” he proclaimed, “because I don’t care about Stealth Elf anymore.”

“Is that so?” Dino-Rang questioned.

“Yep!” Sunburn turned and started walking with his head held high, his companions following close in his wake. “You see, I had a nice conversation with Whirlwind…”

“That’s dangerous,” Zap muttered.

“…and I now realize that a blade to the face is probably enough of a reason to stop pursuing a girl. So, yes. I can confirm that I am one-hundred percent over it.”

“Well, we’re glad to have you back, buddy!” Boomer exclaimed, giving him a friendly (if painful) punch on the shoulder. “You know, even if you were only gone for, like, half an hour.”

“Well, I’m here to stay,” said Sunburn, gently caressing the spot that Boomer had hit. “I will no longer be taken by the charms of somebody I don’t even actually know. I have learned my lesson. I am happy with my life as it is. And I will never, ever, think about Stealth Elf ever a—”

Poof.

“AAHHHHH!”

The four boys recoiled into one another as somebody suddenly appeared in front of them. Somebody, of course, much to Sunburn’s bafflement, was Stealth Elf. Sunburn raised an eyebrow at her questioningly, and her ears drooped in response. She rubbed her arm and averted her gaze, and Sunburn raised his eyebrow even harder.

“Um… hi,” Stealth Elf greeted with a feeble wave of her hand.

Sunburn raised his eyebrow as hard as an eyebrow could possibly be raised.

The sound of flapping wings filled the air, and a moment later, Spyro descended from above. He landed beside Stealth Elf, who glanced to him uncertainly, and he gave her an encouraging nudge. Though she hesitated, she eventually brought herself to step forward and look Sunburn in the incredibly confused eye.

“I’m, um,” she stammered awkwardly, “I-I’m sorry I hit you in the face.” She motioned to the general area of Sunburn’s forehead. “With a… knife.” She shook her head, probably at herself. “It was an accident… I wasn’t paying attention… I’m sorry.”

Sunburn blinked. He observed Stealth Elf, fidgeting with her skort, cheeks pink and eyes nervously affixed to the ground. He looked to Spyro, who gave a couple of congratulating nods at Stealth Elf’s advances. Then Sunburn glanced back at his friends, all of whom seemed just as baffled as he did. Finally, Sunburn looked back to Stealth Elf. As he so often did, he put on his best grin and lifted his head cockily.

“Eh, it’s no big deal,” he said loudly, fluffing his wings again, and Stealth Elf looked up at him, ears slightly perked. “It’s gonna take more than a little knife to take out Sunburn. After all…” He licked his talons swiftly before running them back across his scales. “…he’s pretty great.”

Sunburn and Stealth Elf’s eyes remained locked on one another for a prolonged amount of time, during which the four onlookers looked on in puzzlement. Then, apparently noticing the awkward silence, Stealth Elf nodded briskly. “Oh! Well, it’s good that you’re okay then.”

“Uh, yeah!” Sunburn concurred, too nodding with vigor. “It’s cool.” He scratched his chin thoughtfully, then snapped his claws. “But, you know… since you did almost kill me and everything…”

Stealth Elf’s expression became worried again. “W-What?”

“You could always do me a solid!” Sunburn suggested. “You know, to make up for it. ‘It’ of course meaning the fact that you almost killed me. Which, you know. You did.”

Stealth Elf lit up significantly. “Oh!” she exclaimed. “Of course! Um… what did you have in mind?”

Sunburn smirked slyly. “Well… I was thinking we could hang out. You know, just you and me, maybe tonight around sunset?”

Zap, Dino-Rang, and Boomer shared a collective facepalm.

But Stealth Elf seemed unfazed. “Oh, I see.” She nodded. “Okay. If that will make up for it, then…”

“It absolutely will!” Sunburn exclaimed, throwing his arms into the air and grinning brightly. When he caught the expression Stealth Elf was giving him, he cleared his throat and sat back down. “I mean, yeah. That would be cool.”

Stealth Elf and Spyro exchanged glances. Then Stealth Elf addressed Sunburn again. “Okay. Where should we meet?”

“How about the west edge of the island?”

“Alright. At sunset, then.”

“Yep, sounds good! See you then?”

Stealth Elf nodded in confirmation. “Yeah. See you then.”

At that, Stealth Elf and Spyro turned and walked away. They shared a small exchange that couldn’t properly be heard, after which Spyro started chuckling and Stealth Elf gave him a light shove. Sunburn stared after them, grinning goofily to himself.

“…I can’t believe you,” said Zap.

“I can’t believe that worked,” said Dino-Rang.

Sunburn laughed. “Well, I can. And I do so believe that I have a not-date to go get ready for. So, I’ll see you guys around!”

As Sunburn trotted off, his companions groaned, and Zap said, “I guess some phoenix-dragons just never learn.”

Sometime later, as the sun began to set over the island, Sunburn plopped down at the edge and dusted himself off. He glanced around, searching for a sign of his not-date. However, he didn’t see anything. Regardless, he sat up straight and proudly. “She’ll be here soon,” he assured himself.

So Sunburn sat there at the edge of the island, watching the sun slowly go down, shifting on his talons. He glanced around every now and then in increasingly frequent intervals, his shifting too becoming more rapid. Eventually, he stopped fidgeting all together, staring blankly at the vast skies beyond him. He sighed disappointingly to himself, lowering his head. “Well, I guess I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes u—”

Poof.

“AAHHHH!”

“I-I’m sorry!” Stealth Elf sputtered. “I-I didn’t mean to—”

“No!” Sunburn gasped, chuckling mildly and clutching a hand to his chest. “No, it’s fine.” His beak pink, he continued, “It’s, uh, pretty cool that you can do that.”

Stealth Elf clasped her hands together. “You think so?”

“I know so.”

“Oh. Well… thank you.”

“No problem.”

Stealth Elf sat down beside Sunburn, folding her hands in her lap. She definitely looked even cuter up close.

“Nice view, right?” Sunburn prompted.

“Yeah…” Stealth Elf concurred. The two sat in silence for a moment, looking out at the bright, warm colors of the setting sun. Then, Stealth Elf spoke up again. “So… why did you want to see me?”

“Hm?” Sunburn blinked at her. “Oh! Well, you know, no special reason…” He scratched his head. “I just… I wanted to talk to you, is all.”

Stealth Elf stared blankly back at him. Then she questioned, “Why?”

Sunburn took a moment to think over this inquiry. “Well…” he replied. “You know, it’s because you’re cool. I think you’re cool. I mean, I’m not like the only person who thinks you’re cool, so, I’m not really anything special in that department…” He chuckled sadly. “But, I thought… it would be cool if we got to talk. Because, I really do think you’re cool. You’re super talented and stuff, and, you know, you kick a lot of butt. And, and you work really hard, you know? And that’s why you got to be so cool! Meanwhile, I…” He sighed. “I’m one of a kind, the only phoenix-dragon in all of Skylands. But ever since I joined the Skylanders… it just seems like nobody cares about that anymore.”

Sunburn lowered his head, and Stealth Elf stared at him, apparently uncertain of what to say. Her eyes searched the ground, and when she looked up, there was a newfound fire in them. “Well, I think you’re cool too.”

Sunburn raised his head in surprise. “Y-You do?”

Stealth Elf nodded. “Yes. I’ve… seen you around the island before. You’re, um, kind of hard to miss.”

“So I’ve been told.”

Stealth Elf giggled. “Yeah. Well, I thought you looked pretty cool. You speak openly and directly. The way you always lead your group of friends is impressive. You always seem to have such confidence in yourself.” Tentatively, she closed her eyes. “It’s… admirable. It’s more than I am capable of.”

Sunburn, eyes wide with surprise, looked at Stealth Elf in atonishment. Then he grinned. “Wow… I didn’t think you were into birds, Stealth Elf.”

She lowered her brow at him.

“Sorry. But… you really feel that way? Most people just think I’m annoying.”

Stealth Elf tilted her head. “Well, I think I can see where ‘most people’ are coming from.” Sunburn poked his tongue out. “But yes, I meant what I said. I admire you, Sunburn. Even if you are a bit arrogant.”

Sunburn grinned the widest grin he’d grinned in a long time. This wasn’t what he had been expecting Stealth Elf to be like, but he certainly wasn’t complaining. It felt nice to be admired.

“Then… I guess we can both admire each other, then,” he said.

Stealth Elf nodded. “Yeah. I guess we can.”

As the two looked out at the sky again, Sunburn scooted closer to Stealth Elf. “Hey,” he said, “I don’t want to ruin this or anything, but, I really have to ask…” He smiled bright, a completely regular and non-arrogant smile. “Do you want to do this again sometime? And maybe make it… non-platonic?”

Stealth Elf stared blankly at him.

“A date. I’m asking you on a date.”

“Oh!” Stealth Elf blushed considerably. “Nobody has ever done that before…”

“Seriously?” Sunburn snickered. “Well, consider me your first.” He hopped up to his feet, flapping his wings enthusiastically. “So, what do you say? Yay or nay?”

Stealth Elf scratched her chin, and Sunburn watched in anticipation as she mulled her answer over. “Hm, well…” Though she took her time, she eventually folded her hands again and nodded. “Sure, I don’t see why not. It could be fun.”

“Really?!” Sunburn lit up, both figuratively and literally; his feathers caught on fire. After extinguishing the flames and making a discreet “cha-ching” motion (which apparently wasn’t very discreet, because Stealth Elf laughed at it), he turned back to her and said, “Great! We can meet back up here, and maybe go out into town or something. Does tomorrow afternoon work for you?”

“Yeah, that sounds perfect.”

“Then it’s a date!” Sunburn flashed a thumbs-up. “I’ll see you tomorrow, then.”

Though Sunburn couldn’t tell whether or not Stealth Elf was smiling under that mask of hers, he’d liked to have thought that she was. “Yeah. I’ll see you then.”

That night, when the two went their separate ways, each was filled with thoughts of what tomorrow might bring. Neither truly knew what to expect, but that just made it all the more exciting. Whatever would happen, neither truly cared. Both were content to spend the night dreaming of the Skylander who admired them most.

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