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A Conversation Between Brothers A BZPower Fanfic Exchange story written for Endless Sea (Alaki Nuva). Mata Nui walked into the diner, and glanced around. There were only a few occupants at this late hour, but he sighted his target quickly, sitting in the far corner alone at his table. Mata Nui waved off the waitress and walked over to him. “I had a feeling I would find you here, brother,” he said, nodding down at the figure seating at the table. The man was quite tall and muscular, but at the moment he was bent down over the table. “What are you doing here?” Makuta growled, even as Mata Nui took a seat opposite of him. “I was looking for you, brother,” Mata Nui replied. “Well, maybe I didn’t want to be found,” Makuta grumbled. “But you wanted a bite to eat, apparently,” Mata Nui said. He eyed the various empty plates on the table. “And you were either really hungry. . . or you’ve been here for a long time.” “What of it?” Makuta snapped, keeping his head down. “You know, we missed you at the first read-in,” Mata Nui said. “It was a bit awkward going over the script without one of the main characters present.” Makuta only grumbled a response, and Mata Nui frowned. “To be honest, I’m actually quite surprised,” he continued. “When Lego asked us to take some of the lead roles in this whole Bionicle story they’re putting together, I thought you’d be more excited. You’re even playing the main villain.” “A lousy villain,” Makuta groused. “Have you even read the script? The character is awful.” “Yes, I’ve read the script,” Mata Nui said. “That was the whole point of today’s meetup, which you completely bailed on. And it was also a chance to meet the other folks playing the main characters. I must say, they’ve brought in quite an interesting cast. The man playing Tahu clearly has a thing going for the girl playing Gali, so that will be interesting to follow. And although they made the role of Lewa seem like quite a serious character, the guy they brought in was so good at cracking jokes that they’re already rewriting his lines to fit his personality.” He paused, noting that Makuta wasn’t even paying attention to him anymore. “Look, if you’re not entirely happy with your character, I’m sure you just need to bring your grievances in to Lego, and they’ll help tweak things.” “It’s not the character that I dislike,” Makuta said. “In fact, I was already told I could mold him however I’d like. But I still have to follow their overarching script, and it’s clear that my fate is sealed.” Mata Nui chuckled. “What are you talking about? You’re signed up for eight years on this project as the primary villain. Your character will be around longer than most!” “Yes, my character will be around the whole time, just so he can be their punching bag!” Makuta shouted, his eyes flashing red. “I’ve read the full script; I know what they want to happen to my character. He poses some new threat ever year. But at the end, he’s always defeated. Every. Single. Year!” “Well, I mean, from a narrative stand point, the protagonists need a win every once in a while. . .” Mata Nui started. “That’s not the point,” Makuta snarled. “There’s no point where I learn anything; there’s no time where I enact my revenge. They want me to cause some mischief and then allow the Heroes to come stamp me out. But what’s worse is that they want me to continue to play this off like some master plan. Like I intentionally prepared it in such a way so that I would lose again, and again, and again!” He pounded his fists on the table. “They want me to excel at failing, all for their little project.” Mata Nui frowned, not liking the expression on his brother’s face. “This isn’t just about this part, is it?” he asked. “Yes, it is!” Makuta shot back. But he paused for a moment, and let his head cool down. “Or maybe it’s not entirely all about the part.” “What is bothering you?” Mata Nui asked. “I know you can get worked up easily, but I haven’t seen you this bad in ages.” “It’s just this whole character has brought up a bunch of old feelings that I’d rather like to forget,” Makuta grumbled, as he fiddled with his silverware on the table. “I didn’t want to deal with it at their little meetup, so I came here instead. And I like to eat when I’m upset.” “I’m still not entirely sure why you’re upset,” Mata Nui said. “This role seems perfect for you. It’s a large role, you get to design it as you like, and although you have to lose at the end, you’re still the main antagonist. And the bad guys are always the most complex characters in any decent story.” He flashed a brief smile. “In fact, your role is far more lucrative than mine. I get to show up in some flashbacks and do some narration work, but ultimately my character is barely in the story.” “Right, you get the character who’s a figurehead that everybody looks up to, but without doing any of the actual work,” Makuta said sarcastically. “Poor Mata Nui, what an awful position to be in.” Mata Nui raised an eyebrow. “Are you somehow upset that I also got offered a part?” “No,” Makuta said quickly. “You know, I can always tell when you’re lying, brother,” Mata Nui reminded him. “Fine, do you want the truth?” Makuta snapped. “Yes, I’m jealous of you. You get the cool role. You get the elevated position of power. You get everybody’s admiration and respect, and they like you, and. . . and then they don’t like me at all!” Silence fell over the table, as Makuta did his best to avoid his brother’s gaze. Mata Nui waited a few moments, and then quietly said, “This is not about the part at all, is it? I never knew you felt that way about me.” “I don’t. . . or well, not entirely,” Makuta said. “It’s not about you; you’re a great brother. You’ve always been there for me and encouraged me, and I can’t hold that against you. But for so long, I’ve always had to live in your shadow. Our parent’s always expected great things out of you, the almighty Mata Nui, who would surely rise to fortune and glory. But when it came to me. . . I’ve always just been second to best. And living in your shadow. . . it’s difficult.” “But that’s preposterous,” Mata Nui said. “There are so many things you’re better at than me. You’re creative and inventive, and your mechanical skills are top notch. In many ways, I would say you’re the cleverer brother by far.” “But that’s not what people like to celebrate,” Makuta said. “You’re charismatic and inspiring and get along with people, and those are things that I just can’t do. And that’s why everybody flocks to you. That’s why they gave you the position of the god in this Bionicle story, and stuck me with the mad villain role instead.” “You’re not necessarily wrong,” Mata Nui admitted with a sigh. “Some people will only focus on a few aspects of a person, and potentially overlook the greatness of others. And I guess I’ve known this has happened to you before, but I never knew it troubled you so much.” He paused, and then added, “Of course, this limelight of mine has never really been easy. There are so many expectations held of me, and I try my hardest to meet them, but sometimes it feels like I’m living my life for others and not for myself. In some ways, I’m a bit jealous of you; you’re able to pursue your interests without the shackles of expectations weighing you down.” “That’s not the same,” Makuta mumbled. “No, it’s not,” Mata Nui agreed. “But still, I’ve had to rely on you more than you realize. You’ve always been my support, my confidant. When I needed to learn something, you were there to provide the knowledge. I would use the tools to do something amazing, but you were the one who initially crafted them. I’ve had to face some difficult times before, but you’ve stood side by side with me, brother, and helped my accomplish them.” He paused. “But I guess one thing I have not accomplished is being a decent brother back to you. I’ve never denied that you’ve assisted me in the past, but I also haven’t given you enough credit where it’s due. And while I’m busy trying to meet everybody else’s expectations, I’ve neglected to meet your expectations of me.” He bowed his head. “I will try to be better at this in the future. I don’t want people to merely praise my name; I want them to know that Mata Nui wouldn’t have made it without Makuta.” Makuta chuckled, his spirits apparently lifting. “Of course, you would take it upon yourself to cheer me up.” “That’s my curse,” Mata Nui said with a shrug. “But I realize that I can sometimes be a bit naïve about some things, so I need you to help ground me.” “That is your biggest flaw,” Makuta affirmed. “I will try my best.” “And will that also including trying harder with this whole Bionicle project?” Mata Nui asked. “This whole story is going to fail is the antagonist isn’t invested in it.” Makuta rolled his eyes. “I guess I can try looking at some of the bright spots. Like you said, I’m locked in for eight years, so they’ve got to allow me at least some major victories along the way. I’ll just need to find a way to make it fun to lose.” “I’m sure you can create a compelling character,” Mata Nui reassured him. “You will play one so smart and crafty that even when the Heroes win, they still lose. You just need to find a way to make sure your character always achieves his objective, even if the protagonists think they claimed victory. You’ve got to make failing look cool. If anybody can do that, it’s you.” “I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or not,” Makuta said slyly. “Maybe I’ll add in that he’s jealous of the god like figurehead character in this story, so the whole reason he’s doing anything is to knock him down a peg.” “Ouch,” Mata Nui commented. “You’ve got to write what you know,” Makuta said, flashing a grin. “And that’s the Makuta I know,” Mata Nui said with a laugh. “So, are you done moping for today?” “I guess,” Makuta said. “But I do have one minor request for you, oh brother of mine.” “How can I be of assistance?” Mata Nui asked. “Would you mind paying the bill?” Makuta asked, sliding the recite towards him. “I know you’re good for it, almighty Great Spirit.”