Long time no see, folks. As I've a party to get ready for, here's my offering for the new year. Yo-ho, 2008!

Warning: Midna and Dark are naughty children. But they need some looove.

Yeah, unusual pairing here. More on this at the bottom.

Bad Start
By CM

"Boooring..."

"No one's forcing you to stay."

Dark stretched a little, clad in crisp pinstriped black evening trousers this time, yawned and commented, the usual irony in his voice muted to an undertone only the princess of Twilight could possibly comprehend, "And miss out on this exquisite opportunity to swoon with delight in your glorious presence? Never."

Midna narrowed her eyes at him in warning, but, faithful to himself, he didn't seem fazed in the least.

She shifted on the chair, resisting the urge to cross one leg over the other ―the slit up her sheath dress would reveal a little too much skin if she did― annoyed at the general discomfort. Not to mention holding in the yawns was proving more and more difficult as the hours sluggishly dragged themselves by.

And ever since the insufferable cousin of her cousin's friend had spotted her, things were certain to go downhill.

She shot the tall, handsome bastard a sideways glance, wondering where he'd found such a nice get-up. Usually, the ass restricted his dress code to ripped jeans and tour t-shirts that were at least five years too old. And let's not even mention the frayed slippers.

But tonight, he was wearing one of the finest suits she'd ever seen on anyone. Designer, no doubt, black, with spaced pinstripes, he'd left the jacket untied over a black dress shirt. No tie; he'd unbuttoned his collar, just enough to reveal the column and bump of his throat. He wore it with the casual confidence of someone who regularly partook in elegant soirées.

She suspected he'd assaulted a model and stolen the poor soul's clothes.

Though, from the way his suit jacket fell perfectly, with not a single pull, not a single out-of-place fold, and considering how it was so well-fitted to the width of his shoulders, it was possible that…

No. No, he couldn't own something this nice and this visibly expensive.

"You didn't have to come," she said, turning her gaze away from him to look at the glittering room filled with innumerable couples dancing, talking, laughing, and sharing more champagne than was normally suggested.

"I figured you'd want the company," he lightly murmured, absently fingering a tacky 'Happy New Year!' banner that fell a little too low from its pinned position on the wall.

She eyed his lazy movements disapprovingly, wondering why he'd chosen her, of all the single women in the room, most of which had ingested a great deal more alcohol than she, to pick and bother. "You know I despise company. I'm a solitary ice queen."

He smirked, as though amused with some sort of inner, private joke, but didn't reply to that. She felt this irk her tremendously.

She watched as he surveyed the dancing couples, and decided that he wasn't worth getting angry over. She'd dealt with him before, and he'd more often than not gone home with a bruised ego. Or at least a bruised cheekbone. He knew the cost of angering Midna Black.

Her eyes fell to her cousin, the princess Zelda, whose bright smile and laughs freakishly lit up the room. If Midna hadn't had such immense respect and love for the blonde princess of Hyrule, she would probably have mocked the way she was the centre of attention and rolled her eyes at the empty socializing Zelda was partaking in. But Zelda hated formal affairs as much as Midna did; she just didn't think it was right to let people know about it the way Midna liked to.

Dark chuckled. She glanced up and sideways at him. He was looking at the circle of people surrounding Zelda, his smile a little cynical.

Then, leaning down to murmur, he said, "Twenty rupees that my cousin Link makes a move on your lovely relative before midnight."

Midna raised a brow and turned to examine Dark's much less despicable, if slightly more naïve and easy to fool, cousin. The blonde young man was one of the handsomest men in the room, but he was so good at blending in and going unnoticed that he had, for the most part, avoided feminine attentions so far. He was standing in Zelda's vicinity, not so close that he was part of her circle, and not so far that an attentive observer couldn't notice the frequent glances he shot in her direction. He was absent-mindedly holding conversation with Kafei Dotour and his fiancée, Anju Stoke, who were too infatuated with one another to even notice that their interlocutor wasn't paying full attention to their sap.

Midna looked back at Dark, who was watching her expectantly.

"Twenty rupees that he stays miserably put."

Dark winced good-humouredly. "Harsh misevaluation of my cousin's guts, princess, I must say."

She snorted, looking away from him and focusing on the mismatched quartet of assistants Zelda had attached herself to. The eldest, Auru Mage, seemed to have taken just a few too many champagne flutes; he was smiling and laughing more than usual, his white moustaches shaking a little with every laugh.

Off to the side, visibly awkward in her dress-clothes, Ashei Snow was mildly glaring at everything within sight. She had opted for elegant charcoal slacks and a blouse, though even her appreciation for the princess hadn't gotten her to wear a dress. Midna could sympathize with the woman's general dislike for the party and briefly considered heading over to frown in good company, but that was before she noticed Shad Knowing at Ashei's side.

Shad, in crisp evening clothes, looked much more like the aristocrat he was than the scholar he downgraded himself to the rest of the year. Always neatly combed and groomed, he made it seem like evening clothes were a natural thing to wear. Amusingly, though, he seemed to have eyes only for Ashei as he provided her with an alcohol that seemed stronger than the usual wines. Midna wondered where he'd gotten it. In this case, it was the most considerate act he could do. In fact, it earned him one of Ashei's rare smiles, which naturally made the scholar blush crimson to his hairline.

Finally, one of Link's acquaintances, Rusl Blade, was whispering something into his blushing, pregnant wife Uli's ear. Their son Colin was celebrating elsewhere tonight, obviously, because he was nowhere to be seen.

Dark, noting the direction of her gaze, lightly mused, "Did you ever wonder what position got Uli pregnant?"

Midna pressed her lips together then took a deep breath. She shot Dark a glare, but could not diminish the amused glittering of his eyes.

"I try not to think about it."

Dark frowned in teasing disapproval. "Tsk, tsk. Bad, Midna, bad. Lying through your teeth, are you?"

Exasperated, she shot a quick glance around them to make sure no one was listening in on their conversation, before hissing, "Not here and certainly not now, Dark."

He seemed proud that he'd made her lose her composure, but didn't press the matter. Instead, he returned his attention to the ballroom's occupants again.

The crowd really was full of familiar faces, which was at least something to be grateful for. If they'd been strangers, she'd have had to make an actual effort to look pleased. But this time, no one would blame her for being closed off.

The upper crust of Termina, Barthelemy ―everyone called him 'Barty'― Dotour and Aroma, his wife, was discussing politics with Ezlo Picori, Queen Ambi and Darbus Patriarch.

Zelda, on her part, was giggling at the antics of her friends, her brother Sheik and her sister Tetra, Ruto Watters, duchess of Zora's Domain, Ralph Advice, viscount of Labrynna, Malon Ranch, lady of Hyrule, Ilia Heart, lady of Ordona, and Marin Mabe, countess of Koholint.

In a corner, Din Seasons, Farore Secrets and Nayru Ages were discussing religion with Rauru Luz, Impa Shades and Quill Feathers.

At the other end of the room, Darunia Fires, Darmani Warrior and Bo Wrestler were loudly expressing their views on boxing and other wrestling matches.

Out on the dance floor, Telma Ales had managed to wrangle a pained Renado Shaman into dancing with her.

The band of youngest dukes, viscounts, lords and ladies ―Ralis Vadit, Komali Wing, Medli Flight, Luda Shaman, and one Maple Witched― had, for their part, rounded near the table of food and were laughingly arguing with Nabooru Spirit about the true worth of making one's bed.

Up on the stage, the Indigo-Go's, composed of drummer Tijo, keyboardist Evan, bassist Japas, guitarist Mikau and vocalist Lulu, were deciding with Toto, their manager, which of their songs would be best for the countdown to midnight.

Near the door, Laruto Wade and Rutela Vadit weren't saying a word, choosing instead to observe the general good humour with peaceful smiles.

"Hey, where's Linebeck?"

Midna blinked at Dark's question. "I'm sorry?"

"Jolene isn't here either."

Midna blinked again. "Linebeck and Jolene?"

Dark opened his mouth, then closed it, then said, a slow smile creeping on his face, "Oh, that's right. You haven't met them. They're friends of Link. Well, for future reference, Linebeck is the biggest liar I ever met―"

"Bigger than you?"

Dark shot her a flat look. "Colour me amused, your highness, really― and Jolene is the trigger-happy woman who thinks Linebeck is the salt of the earth. I think that's literal, too, because she always drags him away to her room, probably to get her daily protein intake, if you see what I mean."

Midna's face screwed, only a little, and she stared at Dark in mild disgust. "That is abhorrent."

He smiled, clearly pleased with himself. "I know. Sometimes I wonder if―"

"Just don't say it."

"―if you'd like to dance with me."

"Nice catch," she remarked absently, ignoring his question. Already she could imagine a thousand scenarios for what Dark had wanted to say, and she half-regretted stopping him. On any other day, she might have joined in the dirty thinking. In fact, it was one of the things she had in common with him; when time called for lewd talk, they could out-foul one another in ways that embarrassed their respective cousins.

"Thanks. So what do you say?"

She stopped her musing long enough to wonder what he meant. "About what?"

Dark sighed and repeated his offer, looking as though it burned his tongue to ask, "Will you dance with me?"

She tried not to laugh at the way asking seemed to disgust him. To tease him again, she prompted, "I'm sorry, I'm not sure I understand―"

"Never mind, then," Dark unexpectedly snapped. He hadn't raised his voice, but she could tell from his rigid stance and closed-off look that he'd fallen on a defensive position and wasn't going to let her in anytime soon.

Bewildered, she watched as he stalked away to the punch bowl and served himself the largest cup he could get; dissatisfying, she was certain, because the alcohol content was of a mere one per cent. Still, he downed it so quickly that she was afraid he'd drip some on himself.

Then, just as mysteriously angry as before, he retreated to the furthest end of the room and proceeded to stare obstinately at anyone but Midna.

Well.

"You know he's upset with you, right?"

Midna glanced back at Telma, who had somehow found her way over in the past minute. It was hard to ignore how the woman's comment had made Midna's insides hurt. Odd.

"Did Renado ditch you?" She asked, curtly, to cover her discomfort.

Telma laughed a little, looked wistful, and surveyed the room to locate the man in question. He was cowering and trying to look in control. "Oh, he'll come around one day," she lightly declared.

"Right." Midna tried not to roll her eyes.

Telma shot her a mild glare. "Your sarcasm aside, I think you're missing out on something."

"Like what?" Her eyes darted towards Dark, but he was still resolutely avoiding her general direction. "I've done nothing wrong."

Telma grumbled something under her breath, but Midna couldn't make sense of it.

"It amazes me that you are both amongst the smartest, most manipulative young people I know, and you still can't get over yourselves long enough to start dating."

"Start dating?" Midna echoed, frowning. "That's ridiculous. Why in the world would anyone do something that boring and stupid?"

"Alright," Telma exclaimed, throwing her hands up. "Fine. Stay single for all I care. I just thought that you'd want to stick close to your only kindred spirit in this room. But hey, go on ahead and turn him down again. See how many times it takes to drive him away."

With that, Telma ambled away, presumably to recapture Renado's exasperation ―attention, that is. Attention was what Midna meant.

The princess of Twilight looked back at Dark. He was trying to melt into the wall, apparently, because he was leaning hard against it and glowering at nothing in particular. This was not an unusual pose for him; he often adopted it when she managed to outwit him.

But she wasn't imagining the unexpected aura of hurt that could be felt, even from all the way across the room.

He really was strange, if anything.

"Midna."

She didn't even have to turn to recognize the forlorn, depressed voice.

"Link, why are you here and not wooing Zelda?" She shot the handsome young man a measuring, disapproving look. "She certainly won't notice you if you don't ask her to―"

Dance. Ask her to dance.

Oops.

Maybe she had done something wrong?

"―tell you how her holidays have been so far. Or something." She coughed to clear her thoughts. Link shot her a strange, confused look.

"I already know how her holidays have been. I was there."

"Right," Midna coughed again, avoiding his sad-puppy face. "Well, that still doesn't explain anything. Why aren't you over there?"

Childishly, Link scowled. "Because if I hear anymore stories about Kafei and Anju's rosy dreamland, I'll puke."

She smirked. "I know where you're coming from. But that doesn't give you a wide opening for Zelda's attentions, now, does it?"

Link's scowl melted into more wistful sadness. "I know." He stared lovingly at Midna's cousin as the blonde princess laughed and smiled, a clichéd vision of loveliness. "But I don't think I can do it. I think I'll wait for another time."

Bored, Midna dusted her lap off with a few flicks of her hand. "That's what you said last year. And the year before."

"I know," Link sighed. "It's just… I wish I could have her undivided attention for just a few minutes. Just so I could tell her. But someone always starts up a conversation with her before I can get the words out." He let out a long, heavy breath and morosely observed, "Anyway, it's not like she loves me back, so excuse me for postponing the time of my heartbreak a little bit."

Midna rolled her eyes again. "You don't know that."

"What?"

"That she doesn't love you back." She shot him an exasperated glare. "Are you dense or something? She can't shut up about you. I bet she's wondering where you are right now!"

With a vague and eloquent arm, she motioned in Zelda's direction. Link turned and looked. There was a lull in the conversation during which the blonde princess was looking back at them both with her large searching eyes.

Then, as though noticing that they were talking about her, Midna's dense yet still beloved royal relative looked away, cheeks flaming.

Link couldn't help but chuckle, and Midna smirked, her point proven. But then, Link's laughter died and he uncertainly asked, "She was looking at me, right?"

Midna refrained from slapping her forehead.

Standing to full height, she turned to Link as he worriedly wondered what to do next. The poor guy seemed about as confident as a snail in Agitha's clutches. She grabbed his shoulders, gave them a firm shake, and said, in a low, controlled voice, "Link. If you do not ask Zelda out tonight, I will chase you down, gut you with a rusted knife, then force-feed you your own innards."

Link looked more disgusted than horrified. "Midna, that's gross and more violent than necessary."

"It is, alright, but if you think that fact will keep me from causing you bodily harm, you're grossly mistaken."

"Hint understood, thanks," Link flatly said, demonstrating one of his rare common traits with Dark, a propensity for cool-blooded replies. "Now what do you suggest?"

She let go of him and absently flicked a hand, waving the fingers a little. "I don't know," she nonchalantly said. "Something sweet and romantic. She'll like that kind of thing."

"I'm sorry, your answer didn't register," Link said. "I was too busy noticing how condescending you are about romance."

Midna smiled. He really could resemble his cousin, sometimes.

Speaking of whom, where was the bastard at now? He wasn't leaning against the wall anymore. Where was he?

"… just talking about love and then going in for the declaration."

Midna blinked and turned back to Link, who was pouting a little as he stared into space. "I'm sorry, what?"

"I said," Link rephrased, focusing his attention on the princess of Twilight again, "Maybe I should play it cool at first. Talk about love in general and then tell her how I feel."

Midna nodded slowly, her thoughts elsewhere. "Yeah, that sounds like a great plan. You do that."

"Right." Link took a deep breath and squared his shoulders. "Right. That's what I'll do. I'm going to do just that."

"Excellent," Midna said, plastering a large smile to her face. "Link, will you excuse me for a moment?"

The blonde's anxious face was almost comical in its stress. "Yeah. Okay." But anyway he didn't seem to pay much attention to Midna anymore. The princess walked away, a new purpose in her step.

Poor Link. He had no idea what kind of plans he'd just seeded into her brain.

She found Dark as the miserable sap tried to leave the premises. Striding purposely into his way, she blocked his escape with an outstretched leg.

Oops, her garter was showing. She retracted her leg, hoping he wouldn't make a lewd comment.

Then again, in the darkened antechamber to the ballroom, where things were considerably quieter, Dark didn't seem inclined to make any suggestions, amusing or otherwise.

He just glowered at her.

Offended, Midna glared back.

And lashed out.

"Where do you think you're going, asshole?"

The attack seemed to surprise Dark, who tensed and replied with a biting, "Away from you, bitch."

None of the names he could utter insulted her. They'd long ago forgotten to care about open name-calling, because they could also do it to show affectionate companionship. But his admission that he wanted to leave her company did sting.

"Why would that be? I haven't done anything!"

"Please," Dark snorted, "I've had enough of you drawing entertainment from my ridicule. I don't have to stand for that kind of crap."

With that, he tried to push her aside, but she held her ground and shoved back. They ended up holding each other's arms menacingly. She purposely dug her nails into the fabric of his vest, hoping to prick the skin underneath; he purposely tightened his grip to cut off her blood circulation, holding on until his knuckles were white.

Face to face, they snarled at each other aggressively.

"I thought we'd agreed I was never serious," Midna hissed.

He cynically laughed. "And I thought we agreed I always am."

She tightened her hold even more, hoping to draw blood. He didn't even wince, and she felt his tense biceps bulging against her grip. "You've got nerve to treat me like this. All I did was tease you!"

"One tease too many," he breathed into her face. "Like everything else. Heck, I bet that slit up your dress is just another way to taunt me."

"Taunt you?" She echoed incredulously. "What the hell are you talking about, you son-of-a―"

"And the garters, too," he said, snidely, with an angry, ever-so-sarcastic smirk. "You must be so proud."

"If you have a problem with the things I wear―"

"Did you look at yourself in the mirror this evening and think, 'Oh, yes, let's make Dark insane tonight, it'll be fun'? Or did you think of punishing me for a crime I don't recall committing?"

Frowning in furious confusion, she loudly said, "I don't know what your problem is, mister, but if you think―"

"My problem," Dark lowly said, shoving her backwards without losing his hold on her ―they backed up all the way to the wall, where he slammed her and held her firmly against the panel― for the first time she noticed how much stronger he was― "is that you knowingly do everything in your power to piss me off."

She found her breathing shallow, and she wasn't entirely sure whether it was from anger, fear, or ―and this had seemed so preposterous mere moments ago― exhilaration.

Dark's gaze was so intense and threatening. She had seen him look this way before, but hadn't thought he'd turn that one on her.

"Seven years I've known you," Dark breathed, his voice so low she had to focus all her attention on him ―not that this wasn't already the case. "Seven years where we've fought, argued, teased each other and pulled pranks that would have made my mother furious. Seven years, Midna," he shakily drew a breath and pushed her even harder against the wall. Then, with an amount of feeling she had never thought him capable of mustering, he whispered, "Seven years during which you have driven me to the edge of reason, made me fume and want and feel and burn."

"That's a lot of vocabulary, especially for you," Midna breathed, and she realised they were so close to one another that her lips brushed his when she spoke.

Dark tensed at her insult, and she felt his muscles quake, as though he were repressing a powerful urge.

Something inside her softened, and she felt her chest heave. Warm and electrified all over, there was a moment where her sanity snapped and she rasped, as though possessed, "What are you waiting for, idiot?"

He growled, and the next thing she knew, his lips had slanted over hers, sending delighted and languid shivers down her spine.

The kiss resembled them, violent, domineering, and impassioned. Dark's hold on Midna tightened momentarily then loosened to surround her, turning into a frenzied, smothering embrace. She was plastered to his front and loving every moment of it. Her hands left his biceps and pushed at his suit, forcing the vest off his shoulders. It dropped to the floor. He recoiled, barely leaving her lips long enough to gasp in a few lungfuls of air before grabbing her by the waist, pulling her back towards him. They fumbled into a side room, stumbling over one another, breathlessly and aggressively trying to win dominance.

Minutes passed, and then two hours.

Finally, they emerged from the room, dishevelled, flushed, breathless, and grinning from ear to ear. Dark was adjusting his collar, and Midna tried to keep her left shoulder strap from falling. She reached up to pat her hair, and held in a smile.

"My hair is beyond salvation."

He eyed her, and she saw with a quick glance in a hall mirror that her hair was so mussed everyone would know what the two of them had been up to.

They didn't find it in themselves to care.

As they peeked into the ballroom once more, where the party had gone on without them, two things became obvious.

"I think Link finally got a move on," Midna said.

Indeed, their blonde cousins were happily kissing amidst fallen balloons and confetti. Zelda was flushed with pleasure and Link was smiling so broadly that Midna wondered if he'd ever known happiness like this one.

"I guess you owe me twenty rupees," Dark said. His hand met the small of her bare back, and she smiled in remembrance of his earlier talents. It warmly tickled her skin, and she tried not to sigh with satisfaction.

Something dawned on her. "Where did the balloons come from?"

Dark blinked, and lifted his other hand to glance at his wristwatch. "Oh. Damn."

"What?" She turned her head to look back at his handsome ―sexy, really― features. "What damn?"

He pursed his lips to keep from smiling, leaned in to kiss her earlobe, and let his hand trail southwards to rest over her behind. "We missed the countdown to midnight."

"Oh." She was a little bewildered, but her features melted into a smile and she started giggling. "Well. That's unfortunate." Not at all. She had no regrets.

"Midna?" Dark was breathing in her scent, suddenly tender. More so than she'd ever seen him.

"Yes?" Somehow her heart skipped a beat at his tone. Or perhaps it was the searching hand on her buttocks.

"You forgot to put your underwear back on, didn't you?" Dark whispered in the mess of her hair, his breath warm on her ear and his hand hot on her backside.

She smirked. "I simply couldn't force it to stay."


Okay, before anyone begins to argue that this pairing cannot be, YES. It can. This is AU, and I'm me, and I'm the one who makes the rules around here. Besides, seeing as I'm such a fervent Zelinker, I couldn't possibly pair Midna up with Link. So I paired her up with the sexy equivalent of our green-clad hero. Any objections? I hope not, because Midna and Dark make the best pairing in the world. After Zelink.

Oh, by the way, the pairing name, "Midnark", is the suggestion made by Scop after a long debate on the possible names for the MidnaxDark pairing. I stood by Midark, but it's true Midnark is funner to say.

That's all I have to say for now. I wish you all a very happy New Year!

Love,
CM