Chapter 10. Man Paralyzed With Joy!

"Sing with me, Link!" Dark said cheerfully, cranking up the radio.

"No."

"Come oooooon."

"I'm still mad at you for kissing me."

"Can I help it if I'm affectionate? Besides, you didn't mind at first."

"I was in shock! If you want to be my brother, you can't do that sort of thing." Link winced. "It's incest and it's icky."

"You're no fun."

"I don't even know this song."

"Well it's almost over, maybe you'll know the next one. You're a good singer, ya know?"

Link rolled his eyes. "I am not."

"You are! I know you are, 'cause I am, and even if we don't sound exactly alike, 'cause we have different ways of speaking, we still sound similar and I am a good singer! Because!" He paused for a moment, catching his breath, then perked up suddenly. "Idea!"

He dashed into the back room, and reappeared a moment later carrying a CD case. "You know these songs."

"I do?" He looked closer at it. "Hey, I have that- That's my CD isn't it?"

"Yes. But I didn't steal it! You left it here last week."

"You could have just returned it to me."

"I could have, but then I wouldn't be able to do this." He slid the CD in the slot and shuffled through the numbers. "Ah! Number three!"

"Number…" Link's eyes widened. "No… Oh no. Dark, no!"

"Sing with me, or I tell all your friends you cried."

Link gulped.

"Tommy used to work on the docks. Union's been on strike. He's down on his luck...it's tough, so tough…"

Link sighed and took the next lines. "Gina works the diner all day. Working for her man, she brings home her pay. For love…"

"For love…" Dark looped his arm through Link's. "We've got to hold on to what we've got."

"'Cause it doesn't make a difference if we make it or not.

"We've got each other and that's a lot, for love…"

"We'll give it a shot!"

They sang the chorus together. "Oh, we're half way there. Woah, livin' on a prayer! Take my hand and we'll make it I swear! Wooo-ah! Livin' on a prayer!"

"Tommy got his six string in hock."

"Now he's holding in what he used to make it talk, so tough, it's tough…"

The bells tied to the door jingled. Link froze automatically, but Dark let go of him and started dancing around the tables.

"Gina dreams of running away. When she cries in the night Tommy whispers, baby it's okay, someday."

"Aren't you supposed to be closing?"

Dark glanced over his shoulder, saw Navi standing in the doorway, and went on dancing.

"We've got to hold on to what we've got. 'Cause it doesn't make a difference if we make it or not. We've got each other and that's a lot, for love… We'll give it a shot!"

"Dark! Shut up!" Link shouted.

"Make me!" he returned cheerfully.

Link turned pleading eyes on his boss. "Navi?"

"Go for it."

He promptly tackled his double to the ground.

Navi watched them wrestle around for a bit, then shook her head and went into the back. It was hardly the first time Dark had driven Link to violence, and she doubted it would be the last, but she knew it was good-natured. Like…sibling rivalry.

She had to choke back a laugh at that thought.

Back in front, the two boys were winding down. Well, to be more specific, Link had twisted Dark's arm behind his back, and was holding him down.

"Say uncle!"

"Never!"

"Say you won't make me sing any more!"

"Lick me!"

"Hey, that's my thing!"

Dark wrenched his arm free and flipped over, knocking Link off his back and pinning him under his shoulder. "What's mine is yours, brother," he grinned.

"Cousin."

He blinked. "What?"

"Too many people know that I don't have any family for that brother thing to work." Link started slowly working his arm down Dark's back, to his secret weakness. "So we tell people you're my cousin."

"Oh. I guess that makes sense. You'll have to tell your friends the truth, but those girls from the other da- WAH!" He squirmed and tried to crawl away as Link dug his fingers into his side. "Ack! Pppth! Stoppit!"

"Ha, it works!" He grinned and grabbed Dark's shirt with one hand, keeping the other where it was. "Copied my body, copied my ticklish spots."

"You- you bastard! Ack!" He gave up and collapsed on the floor, laughing helplessly.

Finally, Link relented. He tore his apron off and dropped it on his prone double. "See you tomorrow," he said cheerfully, pausing to retrieve his CD and practically skipping out the door.

Navi emerged from the back room and looked down at Dark, still sprawled on the floor. "You two seem to be getting along."

Dark grinned up at her. "I told him! He had a panic attack."

"So…went better than you expected then?"

"Much!"

zzz

"The Sage Spirit Show" finished on Saturdays at two AM. Sage Spirit herself usually left the station about fifteen minutes after, where she was greeted by at least a dozen fans and crazies who wanted her autograph. That took another fifteen minutes. So it was at 2:33 that she watched the last of her fans drive off into the night, sighed, and started walking.

She was young, barely drinking age, and sexy more than pretty. She had the traditional striking Gerudo features, long red hair and warm brown skin, with the kind of figure that that had gotten her race stereotyped as sluts in the past. Dark remembered those rumors. He also remembered that they weren't true. You couldn't judge an entire race by the actions of a few of its members. It was just as true for whatever the hell he was as it was for the Gerudo.

He watched her from the shadows at the edge of the parking lot. He'd found out, quite by accident, that she lived in a house on the edge of the nearby college campus. She normally got a ride from a friend, but that friend had been busy lately.

"Miss Spirit?" he said as she drew closer.

She jumped with surprise and peered into the shadows. Right, he'd forgotten he would be hard to see, dressed in all black as he was.

"Sorry," he stepped into the light of the streetlamp and smiled as disarmingly as he was able. "Didn't mean to surprise you. I'm a fan."

She was staring at him with an odd mixture of shock and…recognition? "Who… What are you?"

He suppressed his fanboy instinct at hearing her voice in real life and just laughed. "Oh wow! You're the first human to know I'm not one!"

"Your eyes glow in the dark."

"Do they?" He frowned. "I probably should have known that. Oh well."

"It wasn't just that," she admitted. "You blended into the shadows too naturally, and I've never seen a human with such long incisors."

"Ah, those I did know about. I think they give me a roguish air. Attract goth girls too."

"That's…great." She tossed her long ponytail and put her hands on her hips, shifting her shoulder so her purse wouldn't slip down. "Are you going to answer my question?"

"Oh yeah. Your people don't have a name for mine, but I guess I could be called a shadow. That seems easiest. I'm a shapeshifter."

"Oh. That explains part of it anyway."

"Which part?"

She raised one eyebrow and avoided the question. "Did you want something?"

"Oh yeah." He darted back and grabbed a battered black backpack from where he'd stashed it behind a van. "Miss Spirit, given the nature of your program, I'm sure you know about the things that go bump in the night?"

"And the things that go crunch, crash, and smash," she nodded. "What's your point?"

"I want to walk you home."

She blinked. "I'm quite capable of taking care of myself."

"Oh, I don't doubt it! It's just, I've been doing some digging…and it seems your school is positively overrun with the crashes and smashes."

"Yeah…I'd noticed that myself. They leave me alone, for the most part." She cracked a smile. "Maybe they're fans of the show?"

"Nah, they're not that smart. Seriously though, I…would feel better if you would let me walk you home." He glared at her. "And don't let this happen again! Find a ride, or get a bodyguard. Something!"

She laughed. "What are you, my mother?"

"Heh…" He ruffled his hair. "Sorry. Like I said, I'm a fan. So…can I?"

"Sure, why not? What do they call you?"

"Dark."

She snorted. "Creative."

He shrugged. "I like it. Been long enough that I don't think I'd respond to anything else. Besides," he grinned. "You know that rule where you never pass a bar with your name on it?"

"Sure."

"Do you have any idea how many goth clubs in this town have the word 'dark' in their title?"

Sage Spirit laughed. "Right on. And since you're being my white knight, I might as well tell you." She smiled, a predatory gleam in her eyes. "My name is Nabooru."

"Well Nabooru," he pulled a crowbar from his backpack and held it out to her. "Shall we?"

"Let's," she purred.

zzz

It was nearly four AM when Dark left the sorority house to head on home. "Sage Spirit" had autographed his thigh, that signature had gotten smudged by later…activities, and life was good.

The streets looked empty, but Dark knew they weren't. Creatures lurked in the shadows and alleys, creatures that would sooner eat him then recognize him. Which was, of course, why he was carrying a backpack full of melee weapons.

Still, life was good. Life could hardly not be good when you were wearing your favorite radio star's-

"Dark?"

He stopped and turned. He'd thought that everyone who knew his name and might be awake at this hour would also have enough sense to stay indoors. Then he saw who it was.

"Ooooohh," he half-moaned. "The girl who told me off. Malon right?"

"Right." She was standing at the back door of a small grocery store, carrying a broom in one hand and her purse in the other. "What the hell are you doing out here? It's like four in the morning." Her eyes narrowed. "Did you run out on a girl?"

"No! Not exactly… She knew I was leaving, she even kissed me goodbye… And hey! What are you doing out here this late?"

"Getting off work," she gestured at the building behind her. "We were doing inventory and it ran late."

He just looked at her.

"And then there was a poker game," she admitted. A little grin spread across her face. "I cleaned house."

"You go girl," Dark laughed.

"Never say that again."

"Yes'm." He glanced around. "Uh, how are you getting home?"

"Oh, I just figured I'd walk. It's only about six blocks."

"Ooooohh," he moaned again. "You are lucky I'm here."

"What are you talking about?"

"I'm walking you home." He nodded at her hand. "Bring the broom."

"Hell no!" She gripped the broom in two hands. "I don't trust you."

"What, because I hit on you once, or because I dress like a walking Hot Topic ad? If it's the former you've got the wrong opinion of me. And if it's the latter, you're racist." He paused. "Well, not that Hot Topic is a race, but you know what I mean. Just because I like wristbands and fishnet doesn't mean I would molest you or anything."

"All right, all right." She let the broom drop to her side. "You just strike me as…kind of a player, okay?"

"As the great Bon Jovi once said, 'I just wanna live while I'm alive.' But I would never mislead anyone, or hurt anyone." He shrugged. "I'm a slut, not a jerk."

"And you want to walk me home…why?"

"Ah. That." He glanced down the street, at a particularly black patch of shadow, then stepped closer to Malon. "Have you ever been out this late before?"

"Well, not alone."

"Recently?"

"No…"

"Yeah, you wouldn't know then. For the last couple months there have been…things around after dark." He frowned down the street again. "They never used to be so bold, not the smarter ones anyway. I would have expected a few Chus, and Skulltulas of course, but I saw a Moblin last night. A Moblin! Last time this happened, they avoided populated areas."

Malon stared at him blankly. "I have no idea what any of that meant."

"Monsters, Malon." His face was grim enough that she didn't question him. "Everything you've heard about in the old legends, and a lot of stuff you haven't. It's walking the streets now, and it wants to kill and eat you. Hopefully in that order."

"What…" her eyes widened. "But, but we would have heard something! The authorities-"

"You humans are very good at not seeing what you don't want to."

"'Us' humans?"

"Oops…"

Malon glared. "I wondered why your eyes glowed in the dark."

"I need sunglasses…"

"Right, because wearing sunglasses at night would make you look soooo human."

"Now that song's gonna be in my head. Thanks."

"Dark!"

"Okay, okay. The short answer is, I'm a shadow. A kind of shapeshifter. I sort of…borrowed Link's face."

"That explains that then. I thought I'd heard once that he didn't have any family."

"So…you mad?"

"That you lied? 'Course not. You don't just go around telling people, hey, I'm a doppelganger thing! That's just begging to be lynched."

Dark paled. "They don't still lynch people, do they?"

Malon laughed. "Of course they don't! Geez, where are you from?" She paused. "Where are you from?"

"We call it the world between worlds. Same place fairies hang out when they're not here. I think monsters come from there too, but they don't have physical form. They're just…a force. Kinda. I dunno."

Malon shook her head. "I still can't believe this. I mean, monsters? This is real life, not some legend."

"Hey, the legends were real life once too."

She looked at him. "You're kidding…"

"Nope! They may have been distorted over time, but most of the old stories and stuff really happened. One of my people even took on the Hero of Time! Got his ass handed to him."

"Is that something you should be bragging abou-"

Dark's ears twitched and he shushed her quickly. "Watch out," he whispered. "Here, get back." He pushed Malon back toward the wall and pointed toward the shadows he'd been watching. "There, you see that?"

She squinted, and sure enough there was something moving. It looked almost like a person, but it was too tall, and the head was wrong, and it moved oddly; hunched, with short legs. And as her eyes adjusted to the dark, Malon realized…it was purple.

"What…the hell is that thing?"

"Bokoblin," Dark said, voice barely above a murmur. "Fairly intelligent, can be tough to beat. Especially if they gang up on you. They don't travel in packs or anything, but where you find one you usually find others. And not just Bokoblins either."

"Oh shit," Malon breathed. "Shit shit shit… It's all true then?"

"Every word."

"Shit."

"Well put."

"What do we do?"

"Running comes to mind."

"But…" she gestured helplessly toward the monster. "My house is…"

"That way? Crap." He shrugged his backpack off one shoulder and started digging in it. "Well, I still vote for running."

"Past it? But- but won't it attack? Chase us?"

"Yes. That's why you bring you broom, and I bring…" he yanked something out of the bag, "this!"

It was a board, broken at one end, with about half a dozen rusty nails hammered through the other.

"Please tell me you haven't named it," Malon pleaded.

"Not yet, but that's a good idea!"

She groaned.

"Chill out, Red. We can totally handle this. Totally." He glanced at the Bokoblin, and winced when he saw it too was now armed. "Okay, here's the plan. We run like crazy, and if it catches up to us, we wail on it."

"That's the plan?"

"That the plan."

"Do we have a plan B?"

"I'll come up with one when the time comes. You ready?"

Malon sighed. "Okay, but for the record; this is a terrible idea and I don't like you very much right now."

"Duly noted. Run!"

They ran.

The Bokoblin noticed them almost immediately and started running itself, to meet them. Dark glanced once at Malon, then raised his board in both hands and charged. The Bokoblin met him halfway, swinging at his torso with what appeared to be the back bumper of a car. Dark dodged it easily, whanged it on the back of its head with the flat side of the board, and ran back to where Malon stood, in shock.

"Come on! While it's stunned!" He grabbed her hand and they ran once more.

Unfortunately, the commotion must have drawn some attention, because three more Bokoblins swarmed out of a gap between two buildings just ahead of Dark and Malon. They gave up on the sidewalk then and just ran down the middle of the street.

"This way!" Malon pointed, and they veered down and alley.

Something skritched above them, and Dark hauled Malon backwards just in time to stop the massive spider from landing on her head.

"Wha- what?" she gasped.

"Skulltula," Dark said shortly. "Exactly what it looks like."

"But giant spiders are scientifically impossible!"

"Tell it that!" Dark swung his board at the reaching spider legs, backing up further. "Okay, it's go time."

"What? It's not go time! Why is it go time?"

Dark let go of her arm and ran at the Skulltula, swiping with the nails and jumping back from its clawed legs. It kept trying to circle around and latch onto the closest body part with its creepy spider mouth-parts, which Dark most definitely did not want to happen. He didn't know if Skulltula's were poisonous the way real spiders were, but he couldn't think of a reason why they wouldn't be.

He jumped over one outstretched leg and skirted another, finally getting out of the creature's line of sight. It started scuttling to the side, so Dark planted his feet and drove the dangerous end of the board into the Skulltula's head with all his strength.

It collapsed with a small screech, hitting the pavement hard and twitching unpleasantly. Dark planted his foot against the Skulltula's side and pulled his board free, shaking clear goo off the nails. He backed away just as the giant arachnid exploded into smoke.

"Dark look out!" Malon screamed.

He whirled around, but was a second too late as Malon's broom swung past him and caught the giant creature on the chin. It reeled back and roared, so Malon clocked it again. It stumbled this time, and she took that opportunity to give it a series of quick raps on either side of its head. As soon as it hit the ground she grabbed the board from a stunned Dark and copied the move he'd done on the Skulltula.

She backed away, panting, and handed the board back. "The fuck was that thing?"

"Moblin," Dark said simply. "They're…tough."

Malon kept her eyes on the fallen Moblin until it burst into curls of smoke, the way the spider had. "I- is it dead?"

"Yup. They all explode like that when they die. It's how you know they're not of this world."

"I killed it."

"You sure did! I've never seen someone-" Something grunted from around the corner of the building. "Crap." He glanced around quickly. "We have to go this way to get to your house?"

"Yes… Oh no, are there more of them?"

"Sounds like it. We still have a ways to go?"

"About three blocks."

"Okay, hold on." He crept to the end of the alley, and sloooooowly peered around the corner.

There was another grunt.

"Fuck! Run!"

Another of the pig-faced giants roared after Dark as he ran. This time Malon didn't wait for him to grab her, she just started running and expected him to catch up. After all, she knew from gym class that Link could outrun her without even trying. One of the few downsides to having her figure.

"I think your house is a bust," Dark shouted as, sure enough, he came up behind her. "But I have an idea! This way!"

They turned down a side street, ducked down an alley, avoided a big pack of what looked like dog skeletons, and finally made it to the main avenue of the city.

Dark slowed down, and grinned weakly at Malon. "Made it. Paradise."

Malon gasped for breath for a moment, following Dark into the parking lot of "paradise." "D- Denny's?" she finally managed to say.

"We can hide out here until dawn."

"Denny's?"

"I'm gonna get you some pancakes. You've earned it."

"O- okay…"

There were four booths occupied, and a couple of tables too. Malon stared around her in awe. Everywhere she looked, there were people dressed like Dark. Sure, some had more or less black, more or less lace, more or less PVC, but they all looked like they got the same catologues.

"Goths," Dark said, pointing to one table, "poser goths," another, "punks," a third, "and the rest are assorted misfits."

"What- what are they all doing here? It's the middle of the night!"

"These are the children of the night. You don't normally find quite so many here, but with the monsters and all…" He shrugged. "They're seeking refuge, just like us."

A girl with dyed-black hair and eyeliner smudged artfully around her eyes approached them. She was wearing what Malon recognized as standard gothwear, but it was all white instead of black. "Dark!" she greeted him with a grin.

"Ashei!" he replied with equal enthusiasm. He hugged the girl tightly. "How's my favorite ivory goth?"

"Same-old, same-old. How's my favorite garage-sale punk?"

"Out of breath and jonesing for some sausage."

"Was that innuendo?"

"From me?" he exclaimed in mock offense. "I am shocked you would suggest such a thing. Shocked!"

She laughed. "Who's your friend?"

"Oh, right. Ashei, this is Malon. I have been assured that she has no interest in me, now or ever. Malon, this is Ashei. She's a…friend."

"By 'friend' he means we've done it once, and sometimes bump'n'grind at clubs." She stuck her hand out. "You don't know what you're missing."

Malon shook it apprehensively. "Thanks, but I think I'll pass all the same. I'm a bit of a prude."

"That's cool too. Hey," she jerked her thumb over her shoulder, at the booth Dark had labeled "goths." "You want to join us?"

"No, that's okay," Dark said. "I have some 'splainin' to do."

"Damn straight," Malon said.

"All right. Well, I can help if it's about," she glanced around, "you know."

"Oh, Malon's already been inducted into the 'you know' club." He put an arm around her shoulders and grinned. "Clubbed a Moblin to death!"

"No way! You really did? All by yourself?"

"Um, yes," she shrugged, trying to look modest. "I think I was running on adrenaline."

"That happens," Ashei agreed. "Oh!" she noticed a server coming towards them. "I'll let you two be then. Come over and talk with us if you want to later. Oh, and Dark, just one question."

"Yeah?"

"Are you wearing a bra?"

"Am I?" He pulled out his shirt and peered down it. "So I am. How about that."

"Anyone I know?"

"Not personally." He grinned. "But you may have heard of her."

"Oh yeah? Well give me a name."

"Sage Spirit."

Ashei promptly screamed like a twelve-year-old girl at a boy band concert. The woman who'd been trying to help Malon and Dark rolled her eyes and leaned against her podium. Apparently the night shift was used to this.

"Tell me everything!" Ashei demanded. "Is she hot? She has to be hot."

"Oh yes, hot as the surface of the sun. She's a Gerudo too." He waggled his eyebrows.

"Ooooooh! You lucky bastard!"

"She goes to your school you know."

"What?" Ashei screeched. "She's in college?"

"Yeah! In a sorority. Umm… Which Greek letter looks like a triangle?"

"Delta. Wait, she's a triple-D, isn't she?"

"I'm going to go ahead and assume you don't mean cup size."

"No," Ashei waved her hand. "It's a sorority. Delta Delta Delta. About half the Gerudo at school are sisters. They used to be pretty nice, ditzes but friendly, you know? Lately they've gotten…odd."

Dark frowned. "Odd how?"

"I don't know how to describe it. More…secretive, close-knit. They seem the same in class, but they're always busy." She shrugged. "I can't really explain it, but it seems sinister somehow. Like they're doing something they know is wrong, and they're loving it."

"Nabooru didn't seem like that at all." His frown deepened. "I did notice an abundance of black candles in the living room. And there was something off about the whole building. It didn't feel safe somehow. I thought it was just because it was 'no boys allowed,' but what if…"

Their eyes met.

"You don't think?"

"Nabooru's not mixed up in it, whatever it is, but… Yeah. I'm going to have to do some digging. Some more digging."

"Shit." Ashei shook her head. "Makes me glad I'm transferring next week."

"Oh, already? I'll miss you girl."

"Yeah, you too."

They hugged again, and Ashei punched Dark on the shoulder. "You take care of yourself. I mean, really."

"I will. You do too, okay?"

"I always do."

She headed back to her booth, white heels clicking on the linoleum. Dark finally turned to the server.

"Sorry about that," he flashed her one of his trademark smiles.

"No problem," she gave him a long-suffering smile in return. "Right this way."

Once Malon and Dark were seated and menu'd, Malon started in. "Okay, first and most important, what the hell?"

"That's a pretty vague question."

"You know what I mean."

"Okay, okay." He played with a corner of his menu for a moment. "Well…the monsters. They're not…natural. No a part of this world. They're sort of like a symptom, you know? To let you know that something is wrong? Whenever someone starts fucking around with forbidden magic, you get monsters."

"Forbidden magic? Forbidden how?"

"Your basic evil stuff. Mass destruction, raising the dead, making living things dead, bringing people out of the Twilight Realm or between worlds. Oh, and turning living things into other things. You can turn yourself into whatever the hell you want, but once you try, say, turning someone into stone? BAM, monsters."

"Geez…" Malon began shredding a napkin nervously. "So if anyone does any of those things…you get this?"

"What? No, no, not like this! Stuff like this only happens when someone is doing something really bad and really big. One statue that used to be a person would only bring up, say, a couple of naknaks."

"Naknaks?"

"Sorry, Miniblins. I just like calling them that. Oh! And there are some places that have monsters because bad things used to happen there. Like you'll often get Poes or Redeads in a cemetery. Old prisons? Stalfos. And those tiny Stalfos. And ghost rats. Basically anything skeletal or undead."

Malon stared at him, mouth open. He reached across the table and tapped it closed.

She swatted his hand away and glared. "Anything else?"

"Only that I think something really bad is going down now. I mentioned earlier that the monsters usually avoid populated areas? When they don't, it's a problem. I think… I've been seeing signs… And if the Gerudo are involved…" He slumped forward and rubbed the back of his neck.

"Dark?"

"The truth is…I know what's going on. It's obvious. Especially since I still hear his voice every once in a while." He smiled weakly. "He's…not happy with me."

"Who?"

"Him." His voice had dropped to just above a whisper. "I didn't know it was him at first, since he only had a little of his power back. But it is him. It couldn't be anyone else." He gripped the menu so hard that the laminated pages bent. "The evil king. Ganondorf."

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

AN:

Annnnnnnd the bad guy has a name. I mean, I think it was pretty obvious, but now it's been confirmed. That's important somehow.

I could have written more for this chapter, but it was already longer then most of the stuuf I'd been posting, and I thought that was a good stopping place, so here ya go.

If I wasn't going for a theme with the chapter titles, I would have called this one "Malon and Dark's Big Adventure." Except it wasn't as big as I'd have liked it to be. Too bad. I'm nto good at writing battles, so they get repeptitive REAL fast. And besides, in real life? You run.

Denny's at four AM is awesome. Trust me. Oh, and Dark doesn't really shop at Hot Topic, he can't afford it. Ashei (from Twilight Princess. She had those shadows under her eyes so I made her a goth) was closer to the mark when she called him a "garage sale punk."

And once again, I must apologize to Bon Jovi. Can you tell I like 80's music?