THE WATER TEMPLE

Navi was very concerned over Link at the moment. He had been very quiet since he had faced his Shadow the day before. He wasn't chatty at the best of times, but he was good company; always polite and kind. Now however, he had a sullen look on his handsome face; a frown was marring his brow and casting his stunning eyes into dark pools of thought.

The fight itself was one of the most traumatic she had so far witnessed. After the initial shock of learning the identity and nature of his opponent, a creation of Ganondorf made from Link's own darkness; he knew he was up against a tough challenge. Nothing seemed to work, the shadow knew all his moves and was becoming more solid after each point it won. Each drop of blood Link shed, gave depth to his copy.

Navi could feel fear from Link and if she did, the copy certainly would. He had been just as handsome as Link, but dark to Link's light. What the shadow didn't know however, was that he couldn't win and when the time came, Link's face became harder than she had ever seen it; void of any emotion. The copy saw the look as well, and the leer vanished off his face as he tried to second guess the Hero. Navi saw the worry on the dark one's face; what was Link going to do? He had already tried all of his weapons and was now much weaker and tired.

They were now circling around one another, waiting for an opportunity to gain the advantage. Link was biding his time, his face a total mask with only his eyes blazing; clear blue, never taking them off his shadow; reading his body for his next move. The copy too, did the same; his eyes piercing red ( different to the softer eyes of Sheik ) watching Link like a hawk. Navi held her breath observing from Link's hat. Then, the attack came out of the blue; Link dropped forward, one arm stretched straight to the ground as he called loudly for DIN'S FIRE.

It was actually over quickly; the shadow gave a heart shattering shriek and vanished and the barred door opened. Link stode through, relaxing his clenched jaws. He removed a bottle of milk from his hoard to replenish his health. And only then did his face resume it's normal look, the mask of indifference gone. He turned his face to the wall and leaning on his arm, his heart broke and he burst into painful noisy sobs that racked his whole body violently. Navi could only watch helplessly at his terrible sorrow.

Suddenly he lurched into a corner of the room and promptly threw up. The release of tension and horror allowed him to just sit and cry gently for a long time. This time Navi could offer comfort with her warm glow and tiny gentle kisses. Eventually composing himself, he said;

" I tried every other way to get rid of him Navi; Din's fire was my last resort. But I had to defeat him and he knew my moves too well."

But that was yesterday. Since his emotional outburst, Link had been withdrawn and almost mechanical. The temple was completed; Ruto was still absurd but took her place as the Water Sage and seeing is quiet despair, generously gave him hope by telling him that Princess Zelda was fine.

Sheik was waiting for him with sincere praise for both him and Ruto for the return of pure water to the lake. He felt Link approach to stand next to him. Sheik could read the subliminal signals Link was giving off; he needed company for a while, to feel he could talk if he wanted. Navi quickly filled Sheik in with the trauma Link had suffered. As for Link, he was happy just standing watching the lake; it was a calming sight to his troubled soul. Sheik watched him with Zelda's eyes; compassion, understanding and love evident in their depths to anyone who could have seen them.

For once he stayed and Link felt the genuine concern and much needed friendship from the other boy, as Sheik risked putting his hand on Link's shoulder. They spoke of the beauty that was still evident, even through the ruination Ganondorf had wreaked upon the land. Gently Sheik could bring hope to Link; that the effort he was putting in, was going to be worth all the pain he was suffering now. Link's heart gradually started to heal as he saw the stars twinkle in the night sky and reflect in the deepening lake.

The boys sat under the tree side by side; each comforted by the other being there for once and watching the sunrise peacefully, when suddenly Sheik looked with concern at Link. He could feel pain and despair grabbing at him again. Sheik reached out for Link to help and in surprise, saw a dry eyed Link looking at him with a puzzled expression; himself having thought the misery must have come from Sheik. If not either of them, someone close was in tangible distress. Without a second thought, Link put on his iron boots and jumped to the temple entrance; Sheik barely had time to grab Link's waist to be taken down with him and into the temple itself.

Once inside, Link questioned the fact that Sheik was still there and hadn't just vanished as usual. Sheik didn't know why himself, he was just curious as to who or what was in a completed temple. Could it be a hidden hostage, needing to be freed from a missed room perhaps? Sheik just got a feeling that Link might need some help.

The hero wasn't too happy at first, he was used to working alone but Sheik just smiled; although he was a bit unnerved when Link grabbed him, to pull them both up high with the Longshot. Because Zelda kept her part of the Triforce suppressed as Sheik and Link was unaware that he had a piece yet, the risk of exposure was still not to great with the close proximity to each other.

Suddenly Sheik knew who they were searching for. Zelda had deep feelings for Link and she knew he had for her, already they were mentally intune; although Link didn't know how to use his telepathic ability. He actually didn't know that he had any ability, but Zelda knew, she often got snatches of thought from him. As Sheik, she had thought the agony came from Link and in a way she was right; he seemed to be heading unwaveringly towards the room containing the single dead tree. Link himself couldn't speak for the bile in his throat, he'd realised now who had to still be left in the temple; his fear was that he had, somehow left the creature alive after the fire and now it was in terrible pain. He cursed himself for letting it, no him; suffer.

Outside the door to the shadow creature's room, the two boys looked at each other with understanding. Link was now grateful for the presence of the gentle sheikah and they went in; to nothing but mist and damp. Cautiously Link moved forward, listening and alert for any attack as Sheik stayed still; covering Link's back as he searched. The shadow was in the room by the tree. He sat with his back to the trunk, his arms hugging his knees and his head down at rest in a pose very familiar to both Link and Sheik. No sign of mortal injury was on him much to Link's surprise.

Although he knew the door had been opened, the dark one didn't look up; he couldn't be bothered and his thoughts were too bleak to care. As Link approached warily, he could now see signs of injury; the shadow's dark tunic was down to his waist and blood showed through his shirt as darker patches against the silver grey material. Every so often an involuntary shudder shook his frame right down to his boots.

Link reached out a hand to touch the arm of the dark boy; who didn't look up, but just asked tiredly if it was time again. He was expecting to be yanked up and tied to the tree; but when it didn't happen he looked up surprised, into Link's face and just stared. The two just gazed at each other long enough for Sheik to begin to feel amused. But this was definately not the time, they were in great danger so he stepped forward to gain their attention.

"Come to finish me off Link?" asked the shadow, "I am unarmed and defenceless." Link was sceptical about the statement, the shadow noticed and smirked;

"Truely, I am of no immediate danger to you. You can just leave, in fact I strongly advise it if you wish to live." He then put his head back down effectively dismissing them.

"Are you not curious as to why we are here?" asked Link.

"No, I expect there was a chest you missed with something of value in it. Isn't that it?"

"No."

"Well it doesn't matter to me anyway." The shadow sighed. Link considered this before asking;

"What does matter to you Dark One?"

"Nothing, nothing at all, so you might as well go now."

"I thought I had killed you." Link said quietly.

"Yes I know, but I won't die until you do; I come from you, but unlike you I am not weak. I know you regretted how I 'died'; you show far too much compassion for a true warrior." he scoffed.

"I defeated you though." Link replied calmly.

"Defeated, not killed. Go now and leave me alone."

Sheik was a silent observer during this exchange, he'd dropped his mental shields so that he could pick up on the feelings around him; but even he was surprised at Link's speed, when he reached over the shadow to pull up the boy's shirt. The shadow's back was lacerated with the cuts of a recently applied whip.

"Who did this and why?" asked Link with barely suppressed anger. With a sharp, angry movement of his own; the dark boy pulled his shirt back down glaring at the invasion of his privacy. However he answered.

"The price of my failure to kill you, the Master was angry, a slave must not fail."

"So, you were expecting another beating when we came in weren't you? Why?"

"No matter to you, just go and do whatever you have to do next and mind your own business in future." He hissed. Then he lowered his head down to his knees again.

Link took time to study this boy who looked so like him.

" Why are you evil Dark One, what made you this way?" There was no answer. Link tried to understand this enigma, but the shadow was a hard nut to crack. Deliberately trying to provoke his dark 'twin', Link asked "Do you like being evil?" At last a response.

"Shut up, what do you know or care; I'm not evil, I'm just bad. Who could be totally evil with your blood in their veins? I just do what the Master who enslaved me says." His tone was mocking. Then he shouted "NOW GO."

"Very well; come Sheik, we must leave now"

There was no sign from the dejected figure; who once he felt left alone again, gave his fragile pride a break and wept bitterly. But when the storm had passed and was reduced to sniffles, he once again felt a gentle hand touch him. His body froze and he looked up to see the compassionate ruby eyes of Sheik. Sheik uttered one word;

"Drink" as he offered red potion.

"No. I don't need or want your pity. Just leave, follow your hero; help him, I'm fine." Sheik lifted his hand and gently, but very firmly held the dark boy's face up and traced the tracks of the recent tears with his finger.

"These speak more eloquently about how 'fine' you are boy, than any of your proud words." Sheik moved back as Dark Link jumped up shaking with anger.

"Leave me alone" he yelled and he turned to run; running straight into Link who grabbed his arms, holding him firmly.

"If I had my sword you would not be able to restrain me, you and your Sheikah puppy." the boy screeched. He sagged slightly, "Anyway, what do you want from me; I can give you nothing. I will tell you nothing." He held up his head defiantly. Sheik thought you had to admire his courage, it and his pride was all the boy had left. Link could see this as well, but it exasperated him.

"We want nothing from you, but we can heal your body and stop the pain. Why will you not do this?"

"I can take pain. I'm no pampered weakling, needing fairies and healing spells if I get hurt; unlike some people." The boy sniggered, scorning Link; who ignored the insult.

At that moment the sound of doors opening somewhere below their floor in the temple could be heard. Link saw fear flash across the face and remain in the eyes of his dark twin.

"So" Link said softly. "you are scared."

"Rubbish; just go, just go. Aaagh " he screamed.

"Stop being such a fool" Link scolded. While the boy was held tight, Sheik had come up and tipped the contents of the potion bottle on the shadow's back and performed a light healing spell. Then quickly, Sheik hid in the mists near the entrance door as someone was heard closing in on them. Link shoved his twin into Sheik's arms and knocked him out with his fist. Sheik saw this with understanding as Link went and sat by the tree, just as they had first seen the shadow sitting.

The door opened to let in a Moblin leering stupidly and with a whip coiled in his hand. Advancing on Link, he said;

"Get up boy, no need to make it harder for yourself; unless you want to play." Link remained sitting as the Moblin headed toward him.

"What have I done now?" asked Link.

" Don't know boy, don't care." was the dismissive answer.

"Why are you doing this to me? I need to know" Link tried again.

"Because I'm told to and I enjoy it. You won't be such a pretty boy by the time I'm finished with you. Come on, you know the drill; you've nowhere to run." The Moblin was nearly within Link's reach, Link got up slowly; holding the Master Sword out of sight until he swung it at the surprised beast, who had just noticed that Link was dressed in green and not black.

"You will die for your cruelty, you have no pity" and with that Link quickly depatched him. Rushing over to Sheik, who was tending the fallen boy; who was still out cold, he said;

"We'll take him to the Temple of Time for now." and this was no sooner said than done, warping there as soon as possible. Dark Link came round to find himself on a bed in a small room, discreetly tucked away in the temple. Both Link and Sheik were waiting for him to awaken. The boy became aware of his bruised jaw; rubbing at it and wincing, but he looked at his captors with defiant eyes and a sneer on his face.

"You've released me from my prison? Are you fools? I will kill you." he said swinging his legs over the edge of the bed and standing before them. As he stood; Link looked across to Sheik and shaking his head, lifted a quizzical eyebrow and one corner of his mouth lifted in a slight ironical smile. Then he slowly unsheathed the Master Sword and unhurridly pressed the tip against the shadow's neck; advancing toward him almost casually, he pushed the boy to the wall.

"What with?" asked Link whose beautiful features hardened and his eyes glittered with anger, yet looked icy cold and without pity. "I may not be able to kill you fool, but I can defeat you; wound you to the point that your shade would be called back to it's master, Ganondorf. If you wish to be back in his hands once again just tell me. It will be almost painless." A trickle of jewel red blood ran down the boy's neck and Link seemed to glow in reflection of his sword's power.

"You have no answer boy?" Sheik thought this was a bit rich coming from someone who was obviously the same age as the prisoner and it caused him to smile; even more so, when he realised both Links had turned to him with identical frowns on their faces. Link started to think out loud,

"I could just let him go from here; he has no weapons and no power. Ganondorf would find him soon enough." He watched for any reaction from the shadow to what he had said. These thoughts had already gone through Dark Link's mind, there was no escape for him from the penalty Ganondorf had imposed. Link lowered his sword and spoke more kindly,

"Come tell us your fate, what purpose do you serve?" Dark Link debated within himself; he was cornered and still a prisoner, sighing heavily he sat down and said;

"I am your whipping boy, punished every time you succeed against Ganondorf's plans. If he cannot harm you; he has me who can suffer, but not die. Only your death will free me. I thought he cared for me more than any other," he paused and swallowed painfully before continuing, "like a father; but that only made my failure greater. He called me traitor and a useless minion. I'm not totally useless though, he found other reasons to keep me" The shadow boy again sighed deeply, a haunted look in his eyes.

"I didn't want to be healed. Eventually I wouldn't feel anything if I'd been left alone. Just make sure that if you don't defeat him, you are killed and not captured; Ganondorf has no mercy, especially for you." he finished in a low voice. Link looked at the boy and saw how close to exhaustion and breaking point he was and then he looked at Sheik hiding in the shadows and saw tears shine on his face. But Link's words were as an icy blast as he spoke to the shadow.

"So what do we do with you, let you go free or send you back to your room in the Water Temple; which do you prefer? It will make no difference to us either way. You will be caught anyway because as you've said, you're not totally useless to Ganondorf. He will get you back." Sheik stared in horror at Link, he could not believe Link's cruelty; but Link would not look at him, he kept his focus on his copy as he now understood the boy's heart; it was so like his own.

With no hope, the dark one's thin shield of bravado crumbled all around him revealing his true self as a frightened young man; not much more than a child. But before he could collapse on the floor in a heap, Link had reached him and was holding him up in a strong embrace. He now spoke softly;

"Or you can renounce the evil of Ganondorf and throw yourself in with us; under our protection for what it's worth. Become my brother for real." The sincerity in Link's voice could not be doubted. This was all too much for Dark Link, he had seen nothing good in his future existence; no dream of rescue and he had tried building walls round his heart, hardening himself to his fear. By the time the meaning of Link's words had sunk in, the dark boy was clutching hard to Link's arms and drenching the front of Link's tunic with his tears.

For a while all Link could do was to hold him tightly and offer what comfort he could, by not letting him go. Even when his emotion was purged, and Sheik had brought him food and drink, he still clung to Link as if this lifeline would be removed.

It was decided that the boy should stay with Sheik in the temple; hidden away until Link completed the next task, then Link could present the dark one's dilemma to the Sages. He could not fight along side Link, as he had yet to prove himself; so Sheik had suggested wisely, that Link request that the Sages hide him somewhere. For Dark Link's own safety; he was to stay in the Temple room and, although Sheik was gentle and compassionate to the boy's battered heart; he would have no mercy ifthe shadow failed to comply with restrictions or jeopodised Link in any way.

The dark one was no fool, he knew Ganondorf would look for him with growing anger and hatred. But he would not return to hate and pain when he had been shown such kindness and care. The Sages agreed the shadow should be hidden and they took him away; not even letting Link know where he was to be concealed, somewhere that he could be watched closely.

During the rest of Link's quest, the shadow worried about him; but he also learned about the world around him and it's people, understanding for himself why Link had a desire to protect his land and friends. Against all the odds he too rejoiced when Ganon was defeated and not just for himself, but for all those contaminated by the evil reign. And so he waited for his own fate to be decided. Would he have a place in this world freed of it's ills? He was unsure and trying not to be afraid.

When finally all was over, Link accepted Zelda's offer of returning to his youth. His first port of call was to revisit her; finding out that their love for each other, survived as glowing coals in their young bodies. Therefore they renewed their promises to keep each other company as they grew up and Link then returned to Kokiri Forest; but his heart was heavy, he didn't look forward to coming under Mido's headship again especially without Navi. Mr No Fairy was a very lonely child. He walked in hoping not to be noticed, he couldn't face lots of questions right away.

Thankfully, no one was around and he made it to his tree house safely. Inside, sitting on his bed was Saria; they flung themselves into each others arms laughing, crying and kissing all at once. Then, looking over her shoulder, he became aware of another Kokiri standing in the shadows. Link stared; then he grinned widely and opened his arms to invite the young dark one to his heart and home.

"Brother" was the choked and tearful word Saria heard as she left them to catch up. She smiled, satisfied. She knew that Link's heart was with Zelda; but his dark haired twin was someone else and she had come to know the young man very well. He had been her responsibility whilst he had been hidden. Saria was very happy knowin that each boy wouldn't be lonely again. Link would be able to introduce Dark Link to his friends and for once in a long time for both boys; the future was not full of fear and hate, but of friends and love.

END.