Pressure was something Link would say he's used to at this point in his life. It quite literally came with the job for engineer's. Anything from a pig on the track to being attacked by pirates could occur at a moment's notice, so not panicking was something you picked up quickly. He stopped fiddling with cogs and levers for just a second, glancing at the broad man towering over him. However, he would say that nothing truly prepared him for the force of his master's mere presence at this moment.
"Have you released the boiler pressure?" The gruff man asked, sticking his chin out.
"Of course," It needs it with how much you're giving me, "and I'm about to signal for set off." He couldn't blame Alfonzo though. This was Link's first time running the train since passing the engineer's exam and old training habits often died hard. Plus, he looked past the giant man to the carriage behind him, we are carrying the most important passenger in the country.
"Good, let's get going then."
"Yes Sir," He pushed the gear box upwards, and with it the small wooden train chugged its way out of the station.
As they emerged onto the green fields of New Hyrule's forest realm, Alfonzo spoke up. "Alright Link, I think you've earned it, want to show off?"
Show off? What does he mean? He's usually so serious when I'm driving.
As if knowing exactly what his apprentice was thinking, Alfonzo continued. "You're officially qualified now, that means technically you can be in charge of the train, Engineer." He saluted, hand snapping to his head. "So for today, what are your orders?"
Excitement nearly sent his body flying up, but for professionalisms sake he forced it down. He got to be in charge, meaning he got to command Alfonzo around for a change!
"Alright, go keep watch for Bokoblins out back," He said, just catching the glint of bemusement in his master's eyes. "Please."
Alfonzo chuckled, "Yes sir," he cried, turning to face the carriage, "but I'm going to check on The Princess on my way, is that alright?" It wasn't really a question.
"Of course," still he couldn't let a 'subordinate' talk back to him like that, "I just better not catch you slacking off back there."
He heard Alfonzo's laugh drift away as the carriage door shut behind him.
Finally, he had room to himself. He spread his arms around him, stretching to fill his new space. It wasn't that he didn't like his master, but it was cramped enough in the cabin now, let alone with the giant of a man behind him. Plus, it was soothing to have the cabin to himself, it was one of the few places he could be alone with his thoughts.
He looked around quickly, double checking his master had really gone, before finally allowing himself a little celebration. I did it.
Glancing at the tracks, he made sure nothing was in the way, then gently pulled out his new Engineer's certificate. His mind drifted. Now I only need a few hundred rupees, maybe less if Alfonzo lets me have some spare parts. He clenched his fists, arms shaking. It won't be long now.
He closed his eyes, breathing deeply. His senses took everything in. The chugging of the train, the heat of the engine, the smell of oil. For just a moment, everything else vanished. Muscles relaxed, as if he'd collapsed onto his bed after a long day of work. This felt right. This was where he belong – "What's this do?"
His eyes sprang open, a bright blonde blur covering everything.
"What the?" he jumped back, giving a second for his eyes to adjust and revealing that the bright blonde blur was, in fact, a bright blonde head "Princess!"
There she was, The Princess of New Hyrule, hair and dress dancing in the wind, yet still managing to look proper and regal. Or at least she would be if she wasn't laughing at him.
"I'm sorry, but I couldn't resist," She didn't even try to stifle her giggling, "you looked so distracted, something on your mind?"
But he barely heard her. He'd been caught. By The Princess no less.
"I wasn't – I mean I was just planning our-" The Princess cut off his stuttering when she leaned closer to him, looking down to the sheet clasped in his hand.
"Was it this?" she asked, craning her neck to get a better look at the sheet. "It's your certificate right? Are you excited about being an engineer?"
Too close. So many questions. His brain panicked, mixing all the words into one giant pot. She shouldn't be up here. This was dangerous. She could get hurt. She could do something to the train. No even worse – Alfonzo could find out. "Yes, I am and it is and-" Finally, he caught up – sort the priorities first, questions later.
"What are-what are you doing?" he faltered, "You should be-you're supposed to stay in the carriage"
Her face fell, like a puppy caught stealing your food. To her credit, she at least seemed to look guilty. "Sorry, I wanted to see what it's like up here." She said, her gaze shifting to the floor.
As he watched her, he found himself walking.
"It's… fine, you can stay." He grabbed her by either shoulder, guiding her towards the back of the cabin. "Just… just don't touch anything, okay?"
A moment passed, Link waiting for any kind of reaction. Then, she was looking him dead in the eyes.
"Thank you, Link." She propped herself up on the back railing, the life immediately coming back to her now grinning face. "You're the best!"
Having no idea how to respond to that, but feeling a small smile appear on his own face, Link awkwardly spun to face the tracks. On the bright side, at least The Princess took up less space than Alfonzo did.
"So, what does it do?"
But it didn't seem like he was going to get the silence he wanted after all. Still his best chance would be to answer her question's. However, looking over to where she was pointing, he formed a much better plan in his head.
"That –" he gestured towards the lever sticking out of the cabin side – "is the gear box." Suddenly, he pushed it forwards, causing the engine to roar as the train surged forward. "I use it to control our speed!"
He glanced behind him, enough to get a glimpse of the now shouting Princess, but not so she could see the mischievous grin on his face.
"Okay, okay, I get it. Slow down," Her eyes were clamped shut, only matched by her arms, white as her gloves as they chocked the railing behind her, "Please."
He chuckled, putting the lever back in position. "Consider that revenge, Princess."
A moment passed without a response. Then, quietly at first, but gradually growing louder, Link heard her laugh.
"Thank you, Link." She said, her laughter dying down as she attempted to return to her previous posture. "I really needed that."
She looked wistfully out of the cabin, lost in thought as the world flew by. Unsure of what to do, Link focused on the track ahead. In the distance he could see there next turn and flicked a different lever, this one coming from floor, setting their direction well in advanced.
"It must be nice," her voice brought his attention back. Turning his head, the quizzical look on his face prompted her to continue "This I mean –" she gestured towards the blurred scenery – "being able to travel where and when you want."
He shifted his weight, thinking. It wasn't something he had really considered before. True he had the freedom, technically, even more so now he was an official engineer. But he'd always had Alfonzo to guide him, deciding where they went.
"If we're being honest –" he spun away from the controls and, now facing The Princess, furrowed his brow – "I like the train itself, more than where it goes."
She shot him a look. While she was probably trying to look understanding, the sombre smile betrayed her otherwise hidden disagreement.
"I see," she said, moving to stand next to him. "It's just…well I suppose I miss it more than anything else," She added, leaning on the railing watching the fields as they flew by, "You know, I haven't been this far out of Castle Town in four years?"
Ah, that makes sense. She had mentioned the chancellor not letting her leave the castle, but four years? He knew she had responsibilities, the stack of paperwork on her desk were even bigger than his engineer's exam, but that just seemed excessive.
"We don't have to go back to the castle," He said slowly, pulling her attention in, a confused look on her face. "Not straight away I mean," he added quickly, gesturing around with his arms, "and we'd go to the tower first, but after that, well I mean you're The Princess, if you tell me to take you somewhere, I can't really say no." He felt flustered now, unable to look her in the face. Apparently he'd gotten surprisingly excited about his idea.
She seemed to be thinking for a second, but allowed a warm smile, a genuine smile, to crop onto her face. "You know what? I'd like that, a lot."
Wow. Flustered couldn't describe him now, his body warmer than the engine, even at the worst of times. It didn't take a second to spin back to the controls, looking for something to occupy his hands with. "I mean-don't get me wrong-it depends where you want to go, I know Goron Village is probably too far, and the heat isn't great for the train there and-"
He cut himself off as he looked at the tracks ahead. Rather, where they should be.
Training took over thought, ideas spinning like a pin wheel, all the colours merging together in his head. Tracks gone, need to stop, no space, we'll crash, protect the passengers, passenger – with that he elbowed the brake on and grabbed The Princess throwing the two of them as far into the carriage as possi-