Author's Note: WHOA, I did not expect to bounce back with a Zelda story so quickly! I totally forgot that I had even started this until a friend of mine mentioned it a few months ago. I think the reason I discontinued it at first (meaning I didn't put it on this site) was because 1) there's an insane amount of (relatively minor) original characters that might become annoying to keep track of, and 2) the idea is kind of lame. And by kind of, I mean extremely. But then I thought, what the heck. I miss my Zelda writing!
Here we go!—
In the year 1994, the Wilton-Pearl Center of Psychology paid high schools across the nation to hand out self-evaluations to students so as to collect data of the average teenager's life and views. Before this theory was put into action, however, the test was given to a select group of students at each school. These were the students chosen at North Hollywood High:
"Here," said an athletic-looking girl with brown hair pulled elegantly to the side.
"Here." Louisa was the only girl in school wearing green for St. Patrick's day.
"Yo." Marth had apparently thought the best way to rebel was to dye his hair blue (at least, most people assumed it was not his natural color).
"Here," grunted a muscular soccer player in the back corner.
Finally the aide's eyes landed on the final name of the paper. "Zelda Harkinian."
The reply was not immediate, but eventually somebody said, "Present."
The aid raised an eyebrow and looked over his clipboard at Zelda. The pretty blonde was sitting in the first row with perfect posture, wearing a light pink shirt and a white skirt. When she spoke up again, her bright white teeth nearly blinded the aide. "Only…only it's Cleverly, sir."
"Zelda Cleverly," she said. "Harkinian is my…my, uh, well…" Zelda blushed and cleared her throat. "My mom just got divorced, and she wanted to go back to her maiden name, which is Cleverly. Harkinian is old."
Emily, Louisa, Marth, and Trent all stared at her. The aide wondered if she had just blurted that out to get sympathy, when he noticed something on his paper. "Harkinian" had been crossed out in light pencil, and somebody had scribbled "Cleverly" beneath it in minute letters.
"Oh yes, sorry," the aide apologized, sounding indifferent. "My mistake." He then gave each student a packet, which rivaled the size of a small novel.
"All this?" Marth asked incredulously, flipping through the pages.
"Yes, Mr. Mulloy, all that," the aide replied. "And don't flip through it!"
"Why not?" asked Emily.
"Those are just the rules, Ms. Hamilton," the aide said curtly. "Now—open your booklet to the first page and start. I want to hear absolutely NO talking."
The students all nodded and began their self-evaluating. Wondering what the purpose behind this was, Zelda resignedly opened the packet up to the first page:
Zelda smiled to herself as she thought how outraged her mother would be to see that "male" had been placed on top. She could just see her saying, "Those sexist monkeys!" Smirking slightly, Zelda began doodling on the edge of the paper, drawing shapes around the artsy-fartsy letters "W & P," which was inscribed in the corner. Then she shook her head and came out of her reverie, moving on to the next question.
What do you do in your spare time? Watch movies, hang out with friends, write in my diary, all that normal teenage stuff.
Describe your two best friends:
Zelda put her pen between her teeth. She didn't know which two friends to pick, because she didn't want the others to feel insulted or left out. Then she remembered that not only was her name not on the test, but everything was confidential.
My best friend is probably Malon. She moved her a little while ago from the country and now I can't imagine my life without her. We are truly connected at the hip, we do almost everything together!
My other number one friend is twice my age, but a complete sweetheart. She skis, snowboards, and goes boating every weekend. Megan (that's her name) is also a jogger.
Zelda grinned as she remembered the time Megan had called her at 6:00 in the morning, telling her to come meet her at the new track. She finished her paragraph by saying, Megan is a great role model for me and her young kids.
What do you and your friends do when you hang out? Lecy and I usually go to the movies, and/or talk about guys. Megan and I usually just go to Sammy's café and talk about life. Not too thrilling, but it's what we do.
On a scale from 1 to 10 (10 being the highest), how would you rate your relationship with your parents? My mom, maybe a 6 or 6.5; as for my dad…which stepfather do you want to hear about? Antonio's a 9 (he died), Tom is a 4, Mike's a 7.5, Rob is a 6, and Jeremy is a 2.
What is your favorite subject in school? English, I guess, because I like to write.
What is your favorite novel you have read for school? Either To Kill A Mockingbird or The Joy Luck Club. Harper Lee and Amy Tan were brilliant!!
Do you like to work alone, or in groups? It depends on who's in the group…I mean some people just sit back and expect you to do everything, whereas if I'm with my friends, I love working in groups!
Whom do you aspire to be like? Megan, I suppose…and my big sister, Terra. OOH, AND AUDREY HEPBURN!!
Suddenly, Zelda could feel somebody's eyes on her. She looked up. The aide was sitting asleep at his desk, Trent was staring down at his packet, as were Louisa and Emily. Zelda swallowed subconsciously and turned to look over her shoulder. Indeed, Zelda saw Marth's cold blue eyes staring intently back at her. His usual smirk was on his face as he slid his pencil between his teeth.
Zelda's insides turned ice cold. "What?" she mouthed.
"Thirty-two," he mouthed back.
She furrowed her brow and pursed her lips.
"Thirty-two," he whispered, looking rather amused about something.
Then, upon realizing Marth was quite ahead of her in the packet, Zelda deduced he was referring to a question number. She was only on fifteen, and managed to restrain her desire to flip ahead. But she did not forget the number. After finishing question thirty-one (At what age do you feel it is appropriate for kids to start dating?—16-17), it was with trembling hands that Zelda turned the page. Question thirty-two appeared as if it were not with the other questions; as if bold, underlined, italicized and in capital letters:
Do you believe abstinence is a wise choice for teens?
Zelda fought the very strong urge to turn around and stare at Marth. As she wrote her answer, she accidentally tore a small hole through the paper: Absolutely. And with that, she clamped her teeth shut and went on with the test.
No less than an hour later, everyone had finished the packet. Marth shouted loudly to wake up their aide—it didn't work; everyone else joined in, but there was no effect until Louisa started singing Ireland's national anthem at the top of her lungs, very off-key. To the relief of her classmates, the aide jerked awake. He collected their papers and dismissed them.
Emily and Louisa left first, both chatting animatedly about the latest episode of "Roseanne." Then went Trent, deeply immersed in a sports magazine he'd had in his pocket. Marth took his time getting the few things he had. Zelda's cheeks burned as she picked up her bag. She could feel Marth behind her, staring at her. He followed her out of the classroom, much to her displeasure.
"WHAT do you want, Marth?!" Zelda hissed, turning to face him suddenly and catching him off guard.
"What're you talking about?" Marth asked, not attempting in any way, shape, or form to look or act innocent. "I'm just leaving the room, like the man said."
"You're following me."
"Ooh, wouldn't you like that…you busy tonight, thirty-two?"
Zelda flushed again, and the look on her face would probably have caused most people to flinch. Before she could respond verbally, though, she was saved by a friendly voice calling out to her.
"Hey, Zel! All over? Was it complete tor…" She stopped mid-word upon noticing Marth was there, too.
"Hello, Malon," he said coolly.
"Why don't you beat it?" Malon asked coldly. "I'm sure Zelda's had a hard enough time today without you coming and making it worse."
"Right. You just keep protecting your crush, Mal. Catch you later, Zelda." Marth smirked again and then walked away.
"That jerk!" Malon growled through her teeth, turning red.
"He's just being an idiot," Zelda said, rolling her eyes. "Don't let him bother you. We'll be fine, Mal." Right after saying this, she suddenly dropped to the floor. "OW!"
"Whoa, Zel, you okay??" Malon asked worriedly, helping her out.
"Yeah…ow, this stomach ache is killing me!"
"You're under too much stress. Let's go hang out somewhere and relieve it."
A few days later, in a rural New York high school, a similar occurrence, um… occurred, in which a small groups of students was getting the very same packet.
"Here," said a small, Brazilian girl.
A large, muscular kid nodded and lifted his hand.
"Here," replied a rather nerdy looking boy.
"Eliza Schreiber? Wait, is your name Elizabeth, or did it get cut off here…?"
"No, it's Eliza," said the perky brunette destined to be valedictorian.
"No, just Eliza."
"Um, right…" The principal, who was reading the roll, sighed loudly as he read the last name on the list. "Link Vaughn."
Everyone in the classroom jumped when the door was flung suddenly open to reveal a middle-aged guy holding the collar of a senior.
"Here, Prince," said the blonde teen, his grin contrasting with the cross expression of the man holding him.
"Found him attempting to vandalize your office," said the aide. The boy frowned and yanked his shirt collar out of the man's grip.
"Yes, thank you, Mr. Lindeman," the principal said curtly, motioning for the man to release the boy. "So…thought you could skive off this one, eh, Link?"
Link shrugged and strutted to his seat. His outfit (complete with double-studded ears) and attitude suggested that he was channeling John Bender. Raissa didn't try bothering to cover up a lovelorn sigh from escaping her lips; even the well-composed cheerleader Eliza seemed to have trouble keeping the glow of admiration from her eyes as she watched him sit down. Link stared at her, and she quickly looked away. In an almost lewd sort of way, he said, "You're a junior, aren't you?"
Eliza was saved the embarrassment of answering by the principal. "Mr.Vaughn, I will not have you pestering Ms. Schreiber while you are in here. Or, while I'm at it, Ms. Castellano, Mr. Muller, or Mr. Bowman."
"Yes, Prince," Link said with mock seriousness, saluting his elder.
The principal turned an odd purple color—he hated the nickname Link had given him. "Up here by my desk, Vaughn."
Link made an exaggerated show of standing up, brushing Raissa as he passed her, and sitting down again. "Thank you, sir. I feel very special."
Saying nothing (but giving Link the evil eye), the principal began distributing the packets to the students. Link thanked him over-enthusiastically when the principal dropped one on his desk with a loud 'thud.'
"Isn't Link so polite?" Raissa whispered to Eliza through her teeth.
The cheerleader wanted to reply with something sarcastic to bring the other girl back to reality, but couldn't think of anything to say. She fought very hard to keep the ends of her mouth from twitching into a smile.
"All right, go ahead and start," the principal growled. He walked over to his desk, picked up his copy of The Catcher In the Rye, and started to read.
With a very loud, theatrical sigh, Link opened the booklet.
For a moment he considered putting the check down by "female," just as a joke, but quickly decided against it.
What do you do in your spare time? I terrorize little children. If I'm not doing that (due to a lack of kids), one could find me playing video games or drawing cartoons.
Describe your two best friends. Link rolled his eyes at this one, thinking how incredibly stupid the whole test was. My two "best friends" are losers.
What do you and your friends do when you hang out? Exchange tips on scaring kids while smoking in an empty parking lot. Link had never actually smoked before, but the answer seemed satisfying enough when it came to frightening the superintendent out of his wits. Ha, ha.
On a scale from 1 to 10 (10 being the highest), how would you rate your relationship with your parents? Link put his pen between his teeth and thought for a moment. It couldn't hurt to be a little melodramatic. My dad would be a zero. Zip. Nata. Nothing. Squat. He was about to write something similarly nasty about his mother, but soon changed his mind. Not that she'd ever see this test, but the thought of his mother realizing he'd given her a zero out of ten made Link feel a little sick.
My mother I'd give an 8.5 9.The thought of having his mother see this and beam with happiness brought a smile to Link's face.
The principal's voice cracked like a whip across the room. Everyone else's head went up. They stared, from the principal to Link. The teenager appeared to be reading the next question on his test, but his eyes were not moving.
"Link! Vaughn!" the principal roared so loudly that Raissa and Eliza winced, Mido squeaked, and even Steve flinched. "I am talking to you!!"
"Oh, sorry, Prince," Link said. He stuck his pinky finger into his ear, moved it around, then pulled it back out with a flourish. "I couldn't hear you."
The principal's face purpled again. "You were smirking!"
"What?" Link asked, honestly baffled.
"Just a moment ago, that infamous smirk of yours crept onto your face!" the principal yelled, actually spraying spit onto Eliza by accident in the process. With a look of disgust, Eliza took a tissue from a packet out of her bag and wiped her face with it. Fuming, the principal said, "Vaughn, up here to my desk. NOW." He had hoped talking to Link quietly at said location would keep the others from getting too distracted.
This plan failed, however, because Link didn't feel like walking. Very loudly, he scooted out from his desk and, still sitting in his chair, made his way up to the principal.
"What were you smirking about?" the man demanded—he was gripping the sides of his desk so tightly, his knuckles were growing white. "Well??"
"I have no idea why it's any of your business, Prince, but I was smiling. Not smirking, as you so accuse me."
"Oh, smiling, were we?" the principal asked. He noticed the other students trying to eavesdrop, and lowered his voice. "Imagining the girl waiting in bed for you once you leave, huh?"
Link's eyebrows raised and he stared at him, looking half-bewildered and half full of loathing. "Excuse me, SIR?
"You heard me," said the principal, who was now the one smirking. "Back to work, you four!" he barked suddenly, looking over Link at the other students. "Mr. Vaughn and I are discussing very important things over here!"
Link felt a burning desire to turn and say, "Yeah, he wants to know what time to pick you up today, Raissa," but didn't feel that would be a very nice thing to say to the innocent looking girl. So he satisfied himself by merely folding his arms and sinking lower into his chair.
"For your information, Prince," Link muttered coldly, "I was thinking about my mother. Is that so abysmally against the law?"
"Oh, your mother, was it?" the man whispered airily. "How's she been, Mr. Vaughn? I hard she caught another, er…social disease at work the other day…?"
In an instant, Link was on his feet. He had a fistful of the man's collar in his right hand, and his features were arranged in a very freaky manner.
"Put your fist down, kid," he said, trying to keep his cool.
"I don't ever want to hear you say something like that about my mother ever, ever again," Link growled. He threw the principal back into his seat, then grabbed his chair and returned to his desk.
The principal cleared his throat and straightened his tie before opening his mouth to speak—only Link cut him off: "S'okay guys, just go on working."
A moment later, a small scrap of paper landed on his desk, piquing his curiosity. He checked to make sure "Prince" was once more deeply immersed in his novel before unfolding it surreptitiously.
What was that all about?? You okay?
A half-hearted grin formed on Link's face. He looked over at Eliza, who was very red in the face and determinedly scribbling down an answer on her test.
It was nothing. I'm fine. Thanks. He tossed the note back to her, then resignedly continued the monotonous test
What is your favorite subject in school? He snorted so loudly at the absurdity of this question that the two girls by him jumped. Lunch. And or gym, where I make boys cower in fear and scream like little kids.
What is your favorite novel you have read for school? Hm…what are these 'novels' of which you speak? Ah, are these books? I do not read books. I find them lacking in movement and fun. My favorite movie is the Breakfast Club, though. Was that ever a book?
Do you prefer to work alone, or in groups? I am a lone wolf.
Whom do you aspire to be like? Well, aside from John Bender, Marlon Brando, and James Dean, I want to be most like my biggest hero, Principal Weitzerman!! Woo-hoo!
Link hoped that whoever it was looking at his test would note his sarcasm. And that was the last question he answered, because just then, the principal stood up and told them he was collecting their tests.
"I'm not done, Prince," said Link.
"Well, that's just too darn bad," the man said unsympathetically. Once he had gotten all their tests, the principal returned to the front of the classroom. "All right then, if there are no questions, you may all leave."
Link's hand promptly went up into the air. The principal ignored him. "Ah, yes, Ms. Schreiber?" he said pleasantly, when the brunette's hand slowly went up.
"Um…Link has his hand raised." Eliza was not stupid enough to think the principal had not noticed Link; on the contrary she was fully aware of the situation and wanted him to be forced to call on the punk.
"…a-hem, yes, well thank you, Ms. Schreiber," he grumbled, though looking thoroughly bothered. "What is it, Vaughn?"
"I was just curious, Prince," Link said. "How is it that we lucky five were chosen to take this test, out of 500 students or more?"
The principal looked very much like he'd love to ignore this query, but as the other four started nodding and looking inquisitive, he figured he had to answer. "We merely selected students we thought…represented different, er…groups …of our school, if you must know."
"So, is that it?" Link asked with faux anger as his classmates began packing up. "You just see us as these types, stereotypes of the simplest definitions, and nothing else, is that right, Prince?"
The man sighed with an air of unimportance and did not answer.
"Sir, I believe that we are all a brain—" He nodded at Mido, who was leaving, "—an athlete—" He exchanged friendly punches with Steve—"a cheerleader!—" He gave Eliza a high-five—"a…uh, foreign exchange student!—" He smiled wearily at Raissa, who gave him an exasperated grin in return—"and we are all criminals. Rebels!" he finished, inches from the principal's face.
"GET OUT OF THIS ROOM!" the man yelled, his veins throbbing.
"Gladly, Prince," said the self-proclaimed rebel. He spat in the man's face, then bolted out the door.
"DETENTION!" the principal screamed as Link rounded a corner. "NO, SUSPENSION, VAUGHN! I WILL GET YOU EXPELLED IF IT'S THE LAST THAT THING I DO IN MY NATURAL-BORN LIFE!"
"It will be, at the rate his heart must be going," said a voice from behind Link. He whirled around and saw Eliza Schreiber, the school's most popular student, staring back at him, an odd expression on her face.
"Oh…hey," he said awkwardly. While very bravado and macho around his fellow guys, Link found he became strangely quiet when he was alone with a pretty girl.
Eliza was actually not all that stunningly beautiful; in fact she was almost plain, but her perfect teeth and lovely smile led one to believe she was a future Miss America. She said, "You're a little weird, Link."
"Um…thanks?" Popular people had said that to him before, but Eliza didn't have the cold bite in her voice when she said it like others had.
"No, no I—I meant in a kind of good way," she said. "I mean…that was really cool how you stood up to the Prince like that. A little insane, maybe, but totally cool."
Link grinned. She had used his nickname for The Man without even realizing it. "Thanks. I just, y'know…" He shrugged. "I figure I'm not getting anywhere in school or this town, anyway. I'll be out of Prince's hair once the year's out. I'll be out of this crummy, little town, doing whatever I want. School doesn't matter to me no more."
"That's a shame," Eliza said. "Because I've been watching you, Link, and you're smart. What Prince said about us having types now is true, but in case you forgot, we went to the same grade and middle school together. I'm a senior as you very well know, and except for the two years you spent at that other academy, I've been in your class our entire lives. You've got a brain, Link, a good one, but now you only use it to get attention and rebel against authority."
"Hey, not that I'm not enjoying your lecture or anything, but what are you trying to say?" Link asked with annoyance, stuffing his hands into his pockets.
The cheerleader sighed, brushing some strands of hair distractedly from her face. "I'm not…I'm not sure…you're a pretty cool guy, Link, I just hope that doesn't get you in trouble some day." And before Link could object or reply to this, Eliza stood on her toes and kissed him on the cheek.
He stared at her. She was trying to act nonchalant, as if it had been nothing, but her cheeks were once again becoming that familiar red color. They continued staring at each other until a pack of cheerleaders suddenly appeared at the staircase a few feet in front of Link and Eliza.
"Um, Eliza? Helloo??" said a red-head, popping a large bubble of gum. "Your stupid test thing is like, over, right? School's been out for ten minutes, and we're going to the movies with Dick, Rick, and Blaine, remember?"
Eliza turned from looking at the cheerleaders back to Link, with whom it had just registered that Blaine Walter's girlfriend had just kissed him. "Good-bye," she whispered, looking pained.
"I'll remember what you said," he called after her as she walked towards her gaggle of friends.
"Like, um, Eliza? Why were you talking to that weirdo?" the red-head asked as they turned a corner.
"Well, he was taking the test too, and…" She was too far away; her words were starting to become incomprehensible. Frowning, Link's curiosity got the better of him and he decided to follow them.
At least, that had been his plan. He was ambushed by Steve Muller, who was surrounded by his football-playing friends. For a wild moment, Link thought he was being attacked, but then realized Steve was hugging him like a buddy-buddy.
"That was awesome how you stood up to The Man, Vaughn!" Steve yelled gleefully. "I just told the whole team about it!—including your Breakfast Club tribute. Nice touch, man."
"Oh, uh, thanks," Link said.
"The guys and I are going to watch the game at my house tonight, d'you wanna come, too?"
"Oh, er—sorry, can't. I've got to finish my video project for Colletti," Link lied quickly, knowing full well he wouldn't fit in with the football players.
"Aw, well that sucks," Steve said. "But see you 'round, huh, Vaughn?"
And with that, they went their separate ways. Link walked along down the hallway, stopping only to have a drink at a water fountain. After stepping away from said fountain, he noticed Mido waving wildly to him from inside a classroom. Link looked at the sign posted on the door: "Geography Club." He gave an embarrassed smile and wave before moving on.
Now he just wanted to get home. Link walked briskly out of the building, right into Raissa and a group of her Brazilian friends.
"Hi, Link!" Raissa said excitedly to him as he passed by.
"Heyy," he said, waving and continuing on his way.
"Great job with the Prince today!" she called earnestly after him.
Slowly, Link grinned and turned around. "Thanks, Raissa."
"You're welcome, fellow foreign exchange student!" she said, winking. A few of her teeth were a bit crooked, but Raissa's dimples were so pronounced that her smile almost made Link blush. He laughed and then left Raissa to explain the inside joke to her rather confused friends.
For one of the first times in his life, Link felt proud. All four he'd been with had approached him like he was some kind of hero (well, Mido hadn't "approached" him, so to speak, but he would have if the fascination of geography hadn't been calling his name beforehand). Smiling to himself, he went on his way home.
Indeed, Link wasn't even aware that he had been strutting a tad until his father was kind enough to point it out: "You're strutting, boy," was the first thing he said when Link walked in the door. "Vaughns never strut."
"I'll use that against you someday, old man," Link responded coldly. He threw his jacket onto a chair and walked into the kitchen.
"Oh, hello, dear!" his mother said, stepping around the table to hug him briefly. "How was that personality test today?"
Link shrugged and sat down as his mother went back to mixing egg whites. "Pretty stupid, but not that bad, I guess…I mean, at least it got me out of last period."
"Last period?" his mother asked, sounding a little worried. "Isn't that when you have math class?"
"Well, I didn't really think math was something you should miss…"
"Mom, it's not like I had a choice," Link said, sounding exasperated but trying not to let it show. It didn't help when his father entered the room, but Link went on anyway. "We like, had to take this test."
"Impa," Link's father said, "Did I hear correctly that Link has missed math, the class he is most in danger of failing?"
"Yeah, old man, you heard right," Link answered. "I missed math for a school reason. What do you intend to do about it?"
"Don't you use that tone with me! And get your dirty feet off the table!" his father yelled, turning red in the face.
"Nick, please," his wife said quietly.
"Impa, stay out of this! I'll tell you what I intend to do about it—you're going straight back to school to your math teacher, to learn what you've missed!"
Link looked at his father as if the man had just sprouted a second head. Then, "Fine. Fine, old man. You're absolutely right." He stood up, picked up his jacket, and left the house, unceremoniously closing the door with a slam.
Nick nodded and muttered something reassuring to himself, then went back to the living room. Impa frowned. She knew better than to believe Link was actually going back to school, she just wished she knew where he was headed.
Impa's maternal instinct was correct in that the last place Link intended on going was school. He decided to go to the local move theater, the most popular teen hangout spot. Here Link would see only familiar faces; kids from school, those who would acknowledge him and those wouldn't. He knew every inch of the theater like the back of his own hand. Link wasn't sure what movie he wanted to see yet, so he walked around the inside of the building to entertain himself.
They'd at last gotten rid of the barf stain on the carpet outside of theater one, which had once shown Nightmare on Elm Street. The poster for The Joy Luck Club had finally been replaced by one for Little Women. Link squinted and looked very hard at the glass over the poster, and grinned—though barely visible, he could still see the many imprints left by tween-age boys kissing the glass that had once been over Tamlyn Tomita's face (the sick weirdos).
Eventually, Link settled on a 3:50 Shawshank Redemption. When the movie got out, he went to a pay-phone and called his mother. "Hey mom."
"My, my, aren't you late getting out of your math lesson?" she asked, implying that she very well knew he had not been at school.
"I'm stupid. It takes a while for things to get through my thick skull."
"Okay, okay. Morgan Freeman was calling for me, mom. I had to heed the call."
Impa laughed. "At the movie theater, are we?"
"Well, I am, I'm pretty sure you're at home, though," he joked.
"Are you coming home for dinner now, Link?"
He was about to reply, when the sight of two extremely unfamiliar people caught his eye. Link furrowed his brow. Who were they? A boy who'd gone and dyed his hair blue, having a frustrated conversation with the blonde next to him. The girl's back was to Link, but that was all it took for him to know he had never seen that figure in school—or anywhere else in town—before.
"Hello, Link? Are you there?"
"Oh, oh yeah, sorry, mom."
"So? Are you coming home?"
The girl turned around and looked up at the poster over Link's head. His mouth dropped open. Never before had Link seen a more beautiful person. Her wavy blonde hair partially covered her icy blue eyes, a lá Veronica Lake. A somewhat pouty expression was on her face at the moment, but in some odd way, that made her even better-looking.
It took his mother's voice to make Link realize he had stopped breathing.
"My dear, is everything all right?"
"Oh yeah, sorry," Link said quickly, tearing his eyes away from Greek Goddess Girl so as to concentrate. "Um…you know, I think I'll stick around here for a while. Maybe catch another movie."
"Oh, all right," Impa said, sounding a little disappointed. "Well, in that case I suppose I'll see you when you get home…bye."
"Bye, mom." He hung up the phone and walked out of the booth. Then, as surreptitiously as was possible, he wandered towards the two unfamiliar teens.
"…Goddesses, Marth, why do you always have to make such big deals out of every little thing?"
"I'm not making a big deal out of anything, Zelda!" the boy argued back. "C'mon, let's just go see it okay? What's the problem?"
"I told you, I just don't feel comfortable seeing it…"
The boy laughed. "Aw, don't be a wuss, Zelda. Your parents aren't here, they aren't following up on you!"
"You'll like it, I promise."
Link, who had been pretending to check movie times, narrowed his eyes as he watched "Marth" lead "Zelda" over to the ticket booth. Just as he was wondering how he could approach them, he noticed something fall out of Zelda's purse. Upon closer inspection, he realized it was a wallet, but Zelda didn't seem to have realized it fell. They were walking away, and Link seized it—the chance, and the wallet.
Once he got into the multiplex, Link immediately cast about looking for the teens. But all around him, he could only see kids from school. Then he spotted a head of blue hair walking into the restroom. The girl appeared to be waiting outside for him, leaning casually against the wall.
She was wearing a white, button-down blouse with a short black skirt. Out of curiosity, Link opened her wallet and stared at her driver's license. He'd never seen an I.D. picture that good. "Zelda Harkinian." Was that European, or something? Then his eyes fell on her birthday. She was eighteen…
Just then it seemed to occur to Zelda that her wallet was missing. She whipped around to start looking for it and suddenly gasped, because she had found herself face-to-face with a gorgeous blonde stranger, staring right back at her.
"Excuse me, but is this yours?" he asked gently, holding up Zelda's wallet.
"Oh…uh, yes, it is," she said, feeling a little foolish for some reason. "Thanks," she added when he handed it to her. "Not many people would go to the trouble to give someone back their wallet…"
"Well, to be perfectly honest, I don't know that I would've given it back if I hadn't known who it belonged to…"
When Zelda gave him a rather inquisitive look, he went on.
"I was, uh…sort of watching you and that guy you were with."
She laughed. "I saw you looking at us, actually. I thought perhaps you had been staring at my boyfriend's weird hair."
Link forced himself to laugh as well. Ah, boyfriend. Shoot. "Well, it's just that, uh…this is one of those places in town where you generally know every face you see, and…you two didn't really look all that familiar. Are you new in town, or…?"
"Oh, no," she replied quickly. "My sister is graduating from the Hunt Academy, and my parents flew me and my boyfriend out here to see her."
"Ah, I see. Where are you visiting this humble state from?"
She smiled at his politeness. "California."
"Really? You don't say…so just poppin' by here to catch a flick, huh?"
For a brief moment, Zelda gave him a look as if to say "Why else would we come to a movie theater?" but didn't want to act potentially rude to a boy who was being so nice to her. "Yes…Pulp Fiction."
He raised his eyebrows and she gave small sigh.
"Yeah, I know, it doesn't really seem like the kind of movie I'd…a girl like me would want really to watch, but heaven forbid that my boyfriend should be seen in Little Women, you know?"
The thought of that blue-haired punk sitting through a Winona Ryder period piece did strike Link as rather funny. He laughed, and Zelda smiled as well. "That is most unfortunate. My deepest apologies—I hope you enjoy your Pulp Fiction."
"Thanks," Zelda said, smiling with exasperation.
At that time, Marth finally re-emerged from the bathroom. He fixed Link with a very cold stare.
"Oh, Marth, you're back," Zelda observed keenly. "He's just returned my wallet." She turned to ask Link for his name, but frowned upon realizing that he seemed to have disappeared. "Where did he—?"
"C'mon, let's go," Marth muttered, taking hold of Zelda's arm. "Time to go see disco boy shed some blood, thirty-two."
It had only taken Link a few seconds to move a bit backwards, find a seat, and fade into the other crowds of people. He didn't feel like a confrontation with a boyfriend, but he had listened to Marth and Zelda's conversation until they entered theater eight.
Letting out a loud sigh, Link leaned back into his chair and stared at the ceiling. He'd never see that boy or that girl again, and that made him feel slightly regretful. For a moment Link considered asking Zelda for her telephone number, but then remembered two things: one, it would probably upset her boyfriend; and two, she lived in California and the long-distance call bills would probably make his father blow every capillary in his body. With another angsty sigh, Link got to his feet and began to patrol the multiplex again, hands in his coat pockets.
He saw Blaine Walters and Eliza Schreiber necking in a shadowy corner—Link couldn't help but think of the Groucho Marx quote, "Whoever called it 'necking' was a poor judge of anatomy." He smirked and continued on his way. Link stopped by a poster that showed little photos of every "Best Picture" Oscar winner. His eyes scanned the poster, stopping now and then on the familiar titles, such as Kramer vs. Kramer, The Sound of Music, and On the Waterfront. Upon spotting Gone with the Wind, Link grinned and almost let out a loud laugh.
His mother had forced him to watch that with her when he was about eight. He hadn't seen it since, but he remembered it as the first time he had ever fallen so hard for a woman—Vivien Leigh had been his first real crush. Naturally, he was appropriately devastated when his mother had told him she'd been dead for twenty years.
Eventually looking away from the poster, Link was quite surprised to see Zelda sitting on a bench outside theater eight, looking distressed about something. Furrowing his brow, Link wondered whether or not he should go over to her. Next thing he knew—
"Odd nickname, ain't it?"
Zelda jumped and looked up. Link was sitting down next to her, exuding a solicitous feeling. She didn't know quite what to say, so Link went on to explain his statement: "Thirty-two, I mean."
"Oh, that," she finally said. "Well…there was this weird test we took at school the other day…some personality test, or something."
"Do you mean that test from Wilton-Pearl?" Link asked incredulously.
"Yes," Zelda replied, looking equally stunned. "How'd you…"
"I just took that today, too…kind of stupid, wasn't it?"
"A little," Zelda agreed, with a smile.
"At least it got me out of last period," they said simultaneously. They stared at each other, then respectively burst out laughing.
"Anyway…I don't suppose you can recall what question number thirty-two was?" Zelda asked, biting down on her lip.
"Sorry to say I never got that far. I did like, ten questions." Her shocked expression pressured him to add, "I got into a bit of a fight with the principal."
"So," Link said with the air of one changing the subject. "Travolta and Jackson didn't cut it for you, huh?"
It took Zelda a moment to get what he meant. "Oh, oh, that…no, I guess not…I never really was one for Tarantino pictures."
"I understand," Link said. He fingered the twenty dollar bill in his pocket and decided he might not have another chance. He took a small, steadying breath and said, "There's a showing of Little Women in about fifteen minutes. Any interest?"
Zelda stared wordlessly at him. "W-what, you mean, like…us? See it together?"
"Yeah, sure," Link said.
She stared. Was he going to turn out to be some kind of jerk who was going to try and take advantage of her in a dark theater? He did look a tad shady... "That's really nice of you to offer, but…" Oh, he can't be that bad, could he?
Link stood up. "Take it or leave it, Zelda, but you'd best make up your mind sooner or later. That show will be sold out any minute now. You game?"
A little unsure of what she was doing, Zelda decided to take a risk and nodded with a silly grin on her face.
He smiled back. "I'll just be a second," he said before strolling towards the ticket line, whistling.
She blushed and looked down at the floor. Zelda was so fascinated by this stranger that she didn't even stop to wonder how he'd learned her name. Feeling a little guilty, Zelda bit on her lip again and stole another glance at Link. He was wearing a long, black overcoat on top of a very old, frayed denim jacket with red-plaid lining. In typical rebel style he also sported gloves (black ones) that had been cut off at the knuckles, and he had two silver rings in both his ears. Smiling to herself, Zelda thought Link was exactly the kind of guy her mother would want her to stay away from. But other than the fact that his outfit would never be allowed in her mother's sight, Zelda could find nothing remotely offensive about him. In fact it seemed he was sort of sweet, which was an adjective Zelda hadn't used to describe a man with for a very long time…if ever.
"Hey, here ya go."
Oh, he was back already. "Wow, thanks," she said awkwardly. Now she finally understood what it was like to feel that that was too small a phrase, and wished she could say more. She followed Link to theater four, saying, "It really means a lot to me that…some guy'll take me to see Little Women."
Link shrugged and subconsciously held the door open for her. "Hey, I like Winona and Claire Danes. 'S nice to be seeing this movie with, uh…someone. Not just alone, you know. Like a geek."
"You saying your girlfriend didn't want to come with you?" Zelda suddenly found herself saying. Link stared at her, and she abruptly felt mortified, as if she had just said a Doris Day line out of a very cheesy '50s romantic comedy.
Is she flirting with me? "Uh…well, hard to believe as it is, I have no girlfriend at the moment. Just had a break-up a couple weeks ago, actually."
"Oh…I'm very sorry," Zelda said quietly, slightly red.
But if Link was telling the truth, Zelda thought, he had just told her something very important, and probably without even realizing it. She didn't know exactly how long "a couple weeks ago" was, but at least it showed her Link was sensitive. Zelda knew Marth had hooked up with her the day after breaking up with his previous girlfriend. Someone like Link was probably interested in more than just a body…why couldn't she have seen Marth for what he was?
Link, upon noticing Zelda was looking positively tormented, asked concernedly, "Hey, are you all right?"
She froze. He had just put his hand on hers, probably just by instinct and without thinking, but all the same Zelda felt a shiver go down her spine and she withdrew her hand. "I'm fine, sorry. I was just thinking, you know…"
My, aren't you nosy! was what she would've said to someone like Marth, but Zelda didn't feel it right to snap at Link. So she made something up. "I was just thinking about what happens to Beth."
"Beth?" Link repeated, looking politely puzzled. "Friend of yours?"
"No, silly!" She pointed at the movie screen. "Beth! Like, y'know, come on, Beth—Beth! March!"
Link gave her a very blank stare.
"Don't tell me you're seeing Little Women and have no idea what it's about?"
"Of course I don't," Link replied, as if the idea was ludicrous. "What would be the point of seeing it if I already knew what was gonna happen?"
"Well hey, I know what's gonna happen, but I'm still seeing it, aren't I? I thought everyone knew the story of Little Women! I mean I've seen the Katharine Hepburn one, the Liz Taylor one, and I've read the book as well."
"You read the book?" Link asked, as if nothing could be more shocking.
"Well, sure! I take this class at school where you read books and then compare them to the movie based on them, and Little Women was one of our long-term assignments. Had to watch all three movies."
"Bet the guys loved that," Link snorted, eliciting a laugh from Zelda. "Y'know, I think my school has a class like that, yeah…I was gonna take it, but the assignment over the summer was Gone with the Wind."
"Yikes, that would scare off a lot of people," Zelda laughed.
"It sure scared off me."
But just about then, the previews started, and it was much too loud for any further conversation to go on.
A while into the show, Zelda started wondering if her escort was at all horribly bored with this woman's movie. She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye, and that was all it took. She could tell from the look on his face that Link was paying rapt attention—he didn't have that glossed-over, glassy-eyed expression that Marth got when Zelda made him sit through The Joy Luck Club and The Women. Zelda smiled and resisted the urge to touch Link's hand again. She chastised herself for being unfaithful, which she then realized was ridiculous for Marth's oft-wandering eyes. Frown.
As could have been expected, Zelda was crying shamelessly in Claire Danes' final scene, and even Link shed a tear for Zelda's sake. The thought of poor Beth dying was very depressing, and the only way she could stop thinking about it was to think of something else.
So Zelda settled on the thought of Jo rebuking Laurie—that was also a rather upsetting scene, but it made her think about herself and Marth. Jo had very quietly, very masterfully, turned Laurie down…and though hard as it was initially, he eventually got over it. Frowning, Zelda wondered if she could ever do the same with Marth, but there were so many obstacles to consider.
Laurie was much more understanding and gentle than Marth was; he had genuinely felt in love with Jo. Also, he and Jo had never been "together," just friends, so it was easier for her to let him down…
"I'm sorry Laurie, so desperately sorry…but I can't say I love you when I don't.
Spoken with such sad decidedness; solemn, forlorn, regretful sisterly affection.
And then, very suddenly, it was over. Two hours had gone by, and yet it had felt only like two minutes to the strangers.
"That was pretty good," Link said sincerely. "Glad I saw it…"
"Me too," Zelda agreed. However she, unlike Link, wasn't looking at the credits, but rather at him. "Meee toooo…"
They both stood up at the same time, and Zelda turned to face Link, blocking his way out of the aisle. "Er…"
"Hey, I know you must think I'm totally weird, but I just wanted to tell you something before we…go back to my boyfriend."
"I can't believe I'm telling this to a complete and total stranger, but…I've had a better time tonight than I've ever had with Marth—my, my uh, boyfriend, that is… and I just wanted to say thanks."
"You're welcome, Zelda Harkinian."
She opened her mouth to say something, then laughed. "You looked at my driver's license, didn't you?"
"You are quite perceptive."
"Yes, well, Harkinian's an old name. My mother has a bad habit of getting married and divorced a lot…in fact, she just got divorced from husband number five and is now engaged to hubby number six."
"Wow," Link breathed, refraining from saying, "that sucks." "So if your last name's not Harkinian, may I inquire as to what it is?"
Zelda laughed again, reminding herself that under normal circumstances she'd call a guy shady for asking something that personal. But this boy was different, as she already knew, so she decided to tell him the truth: "Pretty soon I expect my last name'll be Mulloy."
"Mulloy, huh?" Link asked, trying not to think of Marlon Brando (A/N: sorry; you won't get that if you haven't seen on the waterfront). "Well, Zelda Mulloy, it's been my honor and pleasure to spend this evening with you."
"What's your name?" she finally blurted out. "Who…who are you?"
"That's all I get, huh?" she asked, smiling sadly.
"Well, thanks for the movie ticket, friend," Zelda said, trying not to laugh.
They walked out of the theater and—wouldn't you know it—bumped right into Marth. There was a strange aroma about him and he was not, shall we say, acting like a sober person.
"Ah, no," Zelda sighed.
"Whoa Zel that movie was so awesome," Marth said, his speech very slurred. "Fulp Pliction—hic—real good."
"He spiked his own soda again," Zelda explained to Link, who had been wondering where Marth had gotten beer.
"Wanna go against thirty-two, thirty-two?" Marth asked, laughing rather stupidly.
Zelda turned red and pulled Marth's arms off her. "Get off me, you sick drunkard!" she muttered. She felt very humiliated that Link had to see her (and/or her boyfriend) acting like this. Zelda tried to joke it off by saying, "So much for my escort home, huh." She attempted a laugh, but it didn't come off sounding very amused.
"He taking you to your sister's?" Link asked.
"Well, he was supposed to walk me there, anyway."
"I wouldn't recommend it."
"Hey, who're you to recommend anything to anybody?" Marth asked, glaring at Link. "You Oprah, or something? Ha, ha, I just called you a woman!" Then, in a very unfocused manner, he undid the first button of Zelda's blouse.
"Not on my watch," Link growled. And with not further warning, he shot Marth one right between the eyes. Shortly after giving a zany smile, the blue-head collapsed, utterly unconscious.
"He-he's out cold!" Zelda deduced a few moments later. "You…you…"
"Sorry," Link said, sounding as if he meant it. "It's just…when my dad comes home like that sometimes…and he gives my mom that look…it gets both of us scared…" He rubbed the knuckles of his right hand. "That's just my instinct, y'know?" Slowly, Link lifted his gaze to meet Zelda's eyes. "It's the only way to make ourselves feel safe."
"How…I don't know how to respond to that," Zelda said, rubbing her temple with her index finger.
"How about by letting me take you home?" Link suggested.
Is he serious? "W-what about Marth?" Zelda asked, wondering why she had to try so hard not to smile.
Link shrugged. "You'd be surprised how many guys pass out at this theater… everyone just leaves 'em alone, and then eventually they wake up and everybody goes business as usual."
"Kind of dangerous, isn't it?" Zelda asked, a note of disbelief in her voice.
He just shrugged again
A wry smile finally crept onto Zelda's face. "Friend…do you know where Griffith Road is?"
"Sure do—right by the nicest park in town."
"Care to show me the way?"
"I'd be glad to," Link responded, very gentlemanly like.
For a short while, there was an odd silence between the two as they walked.
"So," Zelda finally said, "Have you ever been to California before?"
"Uh…" He appeared to be having some trouble remembering. "I think my mom took me there when I was like three…yeah, she took me to Disneyland." He grinned. "I remember now, I was so upset that I never saw Mickey Mouse—y'know, 'cause in all the ads and stuff they show the kid hugging Mickey…come to think of it, I didn't even see Minnie, either."
"Aw, you poor thing," Zelda laughed ruefully. She loved his smile…it was so beautiful, genuine, and sweet—so altogether different from Marth Mulloy's…
"How long you going to be in New York for?" Link asked a moment later.
"Oh, a couple more days, I think," Zelda replied with a shrug. The shrug turned into a shiver, and she suddenly became aware of the fact that her teeth were chattering.
"Are you cold?"
"J-just a little," Zelda said, rubbing her hands together. "In California, we aren't exactly used to, er…having seasons, you know?"
Before Zelda realized what was happening, Link had taken off his large overcoat and flung it around her shoulders. She looked up at him in awe as they stood on a street corner, waiting for the light to change. "But this is y…aren't you cold?"
"You kiddin'?" Link asked. "I'm used to this weather. I'm actually a really hot guy in general."
I'll say you are, Zelda couldn't help thinking to herself.
"—in that my body temperature is very warm and in order for me to get cold, you'd have to ship me off to Antarctica and drop me naked into the ocean there."
This mental image caused Zelda to turn a very bright red, but fortunately darkness was her friend and Link didn't notice. She pulled his coat tighter around herself before asking her next question: "Why do you keep doing that?"
An amused smile played faintly across Zelda's lips. "You know…each time I start wandering towards the curb, you sort of come between me and the street."
"Oh." It was Link who was blushing now. He hoped she'd drop it, but as she didn't say anything, Link knew she wanted an answer. "Well…it's nothin', really…just when I was a kid, my uncle used to tell me it was always polite to, er…for the guy to walk on the outside."
"And why is that?"
"Well, I guess so's if a car came by and splashed up some mud or rain water or summat, they guy'd get it and not the lady."
"Ah, I see. A little old-fashioned."
Link only shrugged. "Chivalry ain't dead."
Zelda beamed at him.
"This is Griffith," Link said, nodding at the street sign.
"Oh my, is it already?" Zelda asked, trying to keep the disappointment out of her voice. "How the time flies…"
"What's the house number?"
Link raised his eyebrows. "Your sister lives on Twelve Griffith Road?!"
"Yes," Zelda answered, surprised at his surprise. She walked down the sidewalk, Link close at her heels.
"Wow," was all he could say. That house was the biggest, famously luxurious abode in the area (it was rumored Liza Minelli had lived there at one time). Zelda's family must really be rolling in the cash, Link reasoned.
"Well, this is it," Zelda said needlessly when they arrived at house number twelve. "Thanks a lot…this has undeniably been one of the best nights of my life…whereas I know it wouldn't have been that way had I been forced to spend it with my jerk of a so-called boyfriend." Link stared blankly at her, and Zelda suddenly realized with horror what she had just revealed. "Uh—"
"S'okay," Link interrupted her. "I wish we could…see each other... again sometime, Zelda."
"Me too," Zelda whispered, biting down on her lip. "Hey, you never know, maybe we will someday."
Link smiled wryly and stepped out from the light a street lamp had been casting on them. "Maybe," he said. This wasn't what he really felt, but it sounded much more reassuring and romantic than "I doubt it."
"Good-bye," Zelda said. "If—if you're ever in California, look me up, huh?"
"Zelda Harkinian Mulloy." Link nodded. "Got it. …bye."
They stood looking at each other for a long time; neither wanted to be the first to leave. Zelda was having a hard time keeping herself from bursting into a loud chorus of "Don't You Forget About Me." And it was then that Link finally turned and started to walk slowly away. As Zelda headed towards the front door, she swore she could hear him singing softly. "I said la, la, la, la, laa…"
As soon as she was safely inside the house, Zelda dashed up the stairs and raced to the room where she knew her sister would be waiting.
"Terra—oh, hello Viv, are you here, too? Hi. Ah, I've just—"
"Zelda," her sister Vivien interrupted slowly. "Who…whose jacket is that you're wearing? It's way too big for you!"
"Oh, it's—" Then Zelda realized with a start that she was still wearing Nameless' jacket. She bolted towards the room's large window, and opened it to see Link still walking away. "Hey! Hey, stranger!" she called to him.
Link stopped and turned around. "Yeah?" he asked, sounding amused.
"You—you, ah, forgot your coat," Zelda replied, tugging on the collar. "Come over here, down by the window so I can throw it back."
"Keep it," he said back to her. "It's a gift to help you remember me."
"I'll never forget you," she said breathlessly. "D'you really mean for me to keep it? I, I mean—"
"Sure. You know that California weather—you'll be dead without a coat!"
"Yes, you're right," Zelda laughed. Goodbye seemed so much harder to say the second time…
Fortunately, Link was the one who said it first again. "Well…I guess I'll be seein' you then, Zelda."
She nodded, though not sure if he could see it. "Good-bye…" Zelda shut the window, blushing, and turned to face her two sisters. Well actually, Vivien was the only real sister Zelda had—she and Terra had different fathers. Both Viv and Terra had inherited their mother's green eyes, but that was all they had in common.
"Lawdy, Miss Scawlett!" Vivien said in a high-pitched voice, patting Zelda's scarlet cheek. "I ain't seen you this flushed since we saw Glenn Quinn at an airport!"
"Oh, come off it, Vivien," Zelda scoffed. She slipped out of Link's jacket (that was so long it reached her ankles), and folded it onto her lap. She attempted an innocent look, but neither of her sisters were convinced.
"C'mon Juliet, who was that boy?" Terra had to know. Her reddish brown hair, going down to her elbows, was about the same color as Zelda's face. "It wasn't Marth, we could tell that."
"Were you two spying on me?" Zelda asked, looking completely aghast.
"Well, we did watch you come up the street with him," Vivien admitted. "But it was also a tad bit hard to ignore ya when you were yelling out the window to him, six feet away from us."
"Does Marth know about him?" Terra asked, looking half scandalized and half excited at the same time.
"Well…no, not really," Zelda said, smiling in spite of herself. "He's just a guy who took me to the movies."
"I thought Marth was taking you to the movies," Vivien said, narrowing her eyes suspiciously at her little sis.
The look almost scared Zelda. Combined with her pointed, widow-peaked face and scrubby-shoulder length black hair, Vivien's expression made her look quite like an evil hawk interrogating prey.
"He was going to," Zelda sighed. "But while we were getting tickets, I lost my wallet…by the time I had realized it, this guy handed it to me…anyhow, 'Pulp Fiction' was making me desire a jolly puke, so I stepped outside. This guy was standing there, and I was telling him the problem, and he invited me to come with him to 'Little Women.'"
"Whoa, he invited you to Little Women" Terra asked, looking amazed. "That's incredible! I wouldn't be able to get Will to take me to that if I paid him!"
"I know, right?" Zelda said, looking very dreamy again. "Anyhow, when it was over, he walked me home…"
"Yeah, we saw that part," Vivien said. "So what's his name?"
"I…I don't know," Zelda said sadly.
"You don't KNOW?!" her sisters repeated incredulously, raising their eyebrows in perfect unison.
"Hey, it's not like I didn't ask," Zelda said in her defense. "When I did, he just said…'a friend.'"
"How romantic!" Vivien sighed.
"We should give him a name," Terra teased, grinning at Zelda.
"BOB!" was Vivien's immediate response.
Terra and Zelda stared at her.
"Uh, no," the red-head snorted. "It needs to be something…mysterious…like—"
"NO, Vivien…ooh, I know!" Terra squealed. "Let's call him Link!"
"Dude, you've watched Hairspray waaayy too many times," Vivien sighed.
"Ew!" Zelda half-cried, half-laughed. "Ter, what a stupid name! Who ever heard of somebody called LINK?"
"Well who's ever heard of someone called Zelda, Zelda?" Terra argued back. "You know, mom almost named you Farrah."
"Farrah?!" Zelda asked, shocked. "As in Farrah Fawcett?!"
"That's not the worst of it," Viv laughed. "She wanted my name to be Sara."
"Well what's so bad about that?"
"Nothing really, I guess," Vivien said with a shrug. "Just she had Terra, wanted my name to be Sara, wanted you to be Farrah, and then her original plan was to name dear Deb Clara."
"So instead of Terra, Viv, Deborah, Zelda," the blonde started, "it would've been Terra, Sara, Clara, Farrah?!"
"That's awful!" Zelda laughed, making a face.
"True," Vivien agreed. "I think she'd been inspired by Mick, Rick, Dick, and Nick next door. Fortunately for us, our respective fathers talked her out of it."
"But wait," Zelda said. "How could she have planned what to name all of us if we were all born so far apart? I mean, it's not like she would have known she was going to have so many girls…"
"Are you kidding?" Terra snorted. "If any woman could be in charge of the sex of her children, it would be mom."
The three of them laughed, and then the doorbell rang. "Speak of the devil, that'll be Clara—I mean Deb," Vivien said, jumping off her bed and rushing to the room's door.
"Good heavens, is she here, too?" Zelda asked.
"Of course!" came the reply as the person who said it sprinted down the stairs. "Jack wanted to come, too, but you know—busy."
"Zel…" Terra said, once Vivien was out of earshot.
"What?" She realized Terra's green eyes rested not on hers, but rather on the jacket Zelda had subconsciously been hugging fondly.
"You really liked that boy, didn't you?"
The tips of Zelda's ears burned and she looked resignedly at the floor.
"Honey…" Terra got up and say right by Zelda's side. "You can level with me."
Sometimes Zelda felt strange—in that she trusted her half-sister more than her full sister…not to mention that while Zelda and Vivien were only three years apart in terms of age, Terra was older than her by six.
"I…I…" Zelda wasn't sure about why she was so terrified. She looked up and saw Terra's kind face smiling at her.
"Zelda, Zelda, Zelda," Terra sighed, putting an arm around her. "We all have the right to be a little unfaithful—in our minds—sometimes."
This only made Zelda feel worse, because just last year, Terra had been divorced from a man whose eyes had wandered. But she knew if she didn't talk soon, Vivien would be back with Deb. It was now or never.
"I think…one of the best things was that he didn't kn-know I was…we're, y'know, so…"
"Filthy rich?" Terra provided, smirking.
"Yeah," Zelda laughed thickly. "But also, he was…sweet, and considerate, and polite…everything I wanted a guy to be…"
"Was he cute?"
"Yeah," Zelda giggled, turning pink again. "In a way that would've made mom die from shock."
"Ha, ha, I see…" Terra cleared her throat, and didn't say anything for a moment.
"ZELDA'S in there?" a voice suddenly asked from the hallway.
"Shush, Deb, quiet!" Vivien hissed loudly. "I'm sure she and Terra are having their little heart-to-heart right now."
Terra opened her mouth to call out to them, but Zelda grabbed her arm and put a hand over her lips. She looked terrified, and Terra looked alarmed.
"I'm not done yet," Zelda whispered, shaking and moving her hand away from her sister's mouth. She realized Terra's eyes had moved to the engagement ring on Zelda's finger; the ring Link had somehow failed to notice, perhaps because he did not want to see it there.
"Zelda," Terra said very softly. "Why are you marrying Marth?"
"Because…I want to," Zelda lied automatically, her lower lip trembling.
Terra chose a new tactic. "What is it you want from him, Zel?"
"I want … I want love," Zelda whimpered, as if this was something to be ashamed of. "And kindness, a-and respect…"
"Then losing him doesn't matter," Terra said patiently. "It is you who will be f—"
"Oh man," Zelda interrupted. "You're quoting The Joy Luck Club again, sis." She gave a weak laugh, and Terra smiled briefly. Then suddenly, Zelda burst into tears.
"Gott! What the—Zelda?!"
"I d-don't want to marry him!" Zelda sobbed, rocking herself back and forth. "B-but I have to!"
"Zelda, why? Is he what, forcing you to?"
"No, no, I'm forcing HIM!"
Comprehension suddenly dawned on Terra's face. "Zel…?"
"Ter, I had to, I have to, to save face!"
"No, Zelda, honey…"
"You don't want to hear it, I know!" Zelda cried, loud enough so that the girls outside the room could hear her. "You're scared of hearing it, that you're little sister's gone and done it, but I'm more afraid than you! I'm going to have a baby!"
Link was walking home with a spring in his step, hands in his pockets, blissfully ignorant of the turmoil Zelda was going through at the moment. A part of him regretted not having told Zelda his name, but the other part of him knew it had been right: if Zelda had known his name, it only would've been that much harder to leave her, knowing they'd never see each other again.
I'll never forget you.
When he opened the front door, Link was greeted by his father, who looked rather like an angry bull. He met the man in a very uncharacteristically cheerful manner: "Father! Why, how really corking to see you!"
"WHERE DO YOU GET OFF COMING IN HERE AT HIS HOUR?!" Nick erupted. "SKIPPING, NO LESS?!"
Link glanced briefly at his mother, as if to say, "Didn't you tell him where I was?" Then he turned to his father and, mocking anger, shouted, "Have some pity, dad! BETH DIED!" And, pretending to sob dramatically, Link raced up the stairs loudly and into his room.
His parents stared at the spot he'd been standing at a second ago. "Who is BETH?!" Nick cried, looking incredulously at Impa.
Did he actually go see Little Women Impa asked herself, looking absolutely dumbfounded at the very idea.
Link was sitting on his bed, pondering Zelda's nickname. He wished he'd gotten to question 32. His curiosity got the better of him—Link tried to decide which of his classmates would be able to remember the question best. Eliza—no competition.
Eliza was the kid you went to after a test or quiz to ask what she got on such-and-such a question, because she could always remember what it was; she wasn't the type who would have to say, "Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot which one that was! Ask someone else." So, for the first time in his life, Link got his mother's copy of the school directory and called the Schreiber household.
Once, twice, three times it rang. Link was just thinking Eliza was probably still out anyway, when somebody answered the phone.
"Er—hi," Link said, caught slightly off guard. "Is uh, Eliza there?"
"This is she, who's calling?"
He was slightly hurt but not very surprised that she hadn't recognized his voice. "Uh, this is Link. Vaughn. From school."
"Oh, hi!" Eliza said, sounding a little confused but happy nonetheless. "What's up?" She gasped. "Is this about that gorgeous blonde I saw you with at the theatre??"
"Wh—you saw her? Us?"
"Of course I did, everyone did!" Eliza said. "And that other blue-haired kid who was with her before—geez, everybody's talking about you two!"
"Yeah, Sarah Swalne is over here now, and she says she and Brian saw you two in Little Women!"
"Making out!" came a distant female voice. "I swear, they were making out!"
Link blushed at this insinuation, though somewhat pleased people had mistakenly assumed he and Zelda were together. "Eliza, Eliza, this isn't what I wanted to talk to you about," he eventually said.
"Okay, so what is it?"
"Well, y'know that test we took today?"
"Gee, no, I have nooo idea what you're talking about."
He chuckled and said, "D'you remember what question 32 was?"
"Uh, yeah," Eliza said slowly. "Hold on…oh yeah, it was, 'If you were going to run for President of the USA, who would be your vice? Madonna, Hulk Hogan, or Ronald Reagan, and why?' Pretty weird question, if you ask me."
"No kidding," Link muttered. Why on Earth would Marth nickname Zelda something like that? Madonna?
"Oh wait," Eliza said. "That was forty-two…32 was something to do with sex…"
"Sex?" Link repeated, his heart plummeting down into his small intestines.
"Yeah," Eliza said, sounding vague. "Like if you believed in doing it before getting married, or something."
"Why do you ask?"
"No reason…" And then he hung up. So Zelda was with that creep…and the two of them had done it…
That night, both Link and Zelda cried themselves to sleep.
A/N: Aw, what a pathetic ending. This story is about two and a half years old, and I like to think that my writing may have somewhat matured since then (but I have no idea). I realize that Link and Zelda may seem a little stereotypical and immature when it comes to handling authority, but that's the point. They're teens. Well, if anyone out there is at all interested in this story, I'd love to hear it in a review. If someone wants a second chapter, prepare to be shot six years into the future. (oh and also, I realize that this chapter is extremely long—none of the others will be as much. It's because I decided I wanted to include the whole prelude as one chapter, not splice it into two).