Disclaimer: I don't own The Legend of Zelda in any of its incarnation. I own a few games and a hat, and that's totally fine for me. Quote is Oscar Wilde.
Note: Happy birthday, keem :D Okay so you totally don't turn 21 until the 17th but whatever you're getting this a little early. First of the three fanfics for keem's birthday, my first crack at LoZ. Link/Dark Link, Phantom Hourglass, a little bit smutty so there's your warnings out of the way. Not really spoilery, no bad language, and I hope, to long standers in this fandom, that I haven't mauled the characters too badly.
If you can still see the blond hair, then it's still Link. Enjoy.
You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit.
The corner veers sharply to the right, and then there's a hill, steep, steep and step-step-step, keep climbing, keep running. A second corner, this time zig-zagging to the left, and Link hurls himself round it, fingers trailing along the stone of the walls, grasping at oddly-shaped bricks, propelling him forward. Fear – foreign and strange – settles uncomfortably in his stomach and throat, drying his mouth, pumping blood through his heart faster, ever faster. He can't pin this down, this horror, this feeling that if he stops, just for a second, then – nothing.
His shadow is chasing him.
Back behind, in the darkness (and the maze is getting darker, he's not just imagining it, every time he runs through a section the blackness rushes in to claim it back, sucking out the light, gnawing at the stones) there are footsteps, not like Link's own, heavy and frantic – a pace he can't keep up – but soft, like a dancer on a stage, and it makes Link think – no, Link knows that it's playing with him.
Dead end. Link's heart is in his mouth and he doesn't even know why he's so scared, because doesn't he still have his sword at his side? Isn't his quiver almost completely full? He turns, and the footfalls are coming closer. Then – laughter.
It starts out faint and tinkling, as Link half-stumbles down a slope, except it's not tinkling at all. Tinkling makes Link think of fairies, and this – this shadow – this isn't anything like a fairy at all. But the laugh echoes too much, it's too hollow to be described as anything else. That's all it is, tinkling, like the wind dancing through bells on a day that should have been still.
It grows in volume and pitch, a high, reedy noise tingling in Link's ears. It makes a shiver run up his spine and he's not just hurrying now, he's full out running, because the exit is here – somewhere – between the caves lapsing into open air lapsing into underground passages and then into forestry and oh Din, this place never ends! Link catches his foot on a root but he's up again in a second, drawing a ragged breath, and cursing Linebeck for not coming with him. At least with Linebeck there, he wouldn't be afraid, because he couldn't be, because Linebeck would be shaking so much he'd come close to liquidising his clothes, so Link would have to be the strong one, the brave one.
And if Linebeck slowed them down, a voice in his head says, then Link would have been able to find the courage to fight the thing following him.
He doesn't have that courage now, and the laughter is louder. Hysterical. Link doesn't know what's so funny but a knot in his stomach makes him desperate not to find out.
And then there's another dead end.
And the laughter is so loud it's deafening.
And it's too late to turn around.
Fingers curl around his shoulder, black as ink, only as solid as ash bound by water in a pot by the fire. Gentle, Link thinks, abstract, unfocused, but he thinks it. The fingers are turning him round, prying him away from the wall he has thrown himself against, and there's nothing rough, nothing angry about this.
Dread curls around Link's insides. Angry he can deal with. But this –
The shadow presses him against the wall, cold, ashy fingers still holding his shoulders. The outline is the same, he realises, like the thought before, when he just caught a glimpse of the thing, as it slipped away from the wall, its voice rising into a giggle as the footfalls began – and Link started to run.
It is him, Link thinks, him exactly, but made of soot and shadows, malice and malignancy, and a pair of shining, piercing red eyes, settled into a dark face. And below them, a wicked smile.
Link never knows how, but there's the sound of steel against stone, and his sword has clattered to the floor. Inside his head, he heard something, or he thinks he hears it, because it feels more like a thought than anything else, a voice in the back of his mind, creeping out, whispering...
Cold runs through Link, and he's sure it's spreading from the fingers on his shoulders – no, arms, the hands are trailing down, over his elbows, pads of the ashen digits dancing over his skin, raising goose bumps, sliding down to capture his thin wrists. Then, with a twist of the shadow-Link's arms, Link finds his arms pinned above his head, flat against the wall behind them.
And his doppelganger's face is very close, and his smile is hovering just above Link's mouth, and there's no breath coming out of that mouth - not a stirring, not a whisper.
There's a tongue, though, that snakes out over black lips, a tongue as dark as the lips, the face, as everything in this damn maze, as wide as Link's own, and Link can't see the glistening of moisture on it at all. The shadow leans closer, and there's no laughter coming from the mouth now but it's sounding in his head, as loud as a church bell, as loud as a scream. The tongue touches over his eye, high next to his brow, and trails down, finishing by his lower eyelashes. It's dry, like being licked by a cat, only Link's heart has never pounded like this when he's been around a cat, he's never felt this kind of cold, this kind of terror...
He doesn't even notice that the shadow's fingers have left one of his wrists until he feels them pressing against his neck, searching, feeling for a pulse. Link feels something press against the beating, feels it speed up, hears in his head –
Then, as the tongue trails lower, twirling next to his mouth, Excited?
The shadow is very close, body against body, substance against nothingness, though if Link is honest, he couldn't say where one ends and the other begins. The finger leaves his pulse, and the hand is exploring the front of his tunic, and he's frozen, stock still, not moving. Everything in him screams out to fight, to run away, but he remains rooted to the spot, tied by terror and a voice in his mind, crowing that it knows it, crowing that it is him, crowing that Link is staying here...
Here... and the hand is under the tunic now, his belt loosened, as translucent fingers feel their way up young flesh.
Link's breath catches, and the tongue finds his mouth.
The fingers stop abruptly, and begin to trail downwards, dancing over shivering flesh. They leave a strange mix of clammy coldness and blazing heat in their wake, the heat beginning to tip the scales as the fingers dance across his thigh. The tongue is inside his mouth, then outside, then inside again, and sooty lips ply his own. The ministrations of his shadow's fingers, moving closer to what's rapidly becoming a compromising position, and the softness of skin against skin draws a weak, reluctant moan from his throat.
The laughter in his head starts pounding again, in what feels like a hundred voices, and once voice is thinner and higher and stronger than all the rest, and Link knows it's the shadow's.
Loving this, aren't you?
Don't lie to me. Don't forget I'm inside your head...I'm in your thoughts, brother, and I know just how much you're enjoying yourself. And if I needed proof...
The fingers swirl higher and Link draws a sharp breath. The shadow is still laughing, silently, deafeningly.
Your body is telling me everything I want to know.
The shadow-self is so close now Link feels, for a frightening second, like they're almost the same being. Darkness and malice and vicious glee are curling through him, waking up inside him, whispering secrets and promises into his mind. The terrible freedom of his shadow is coursing through his blood, the feeling of not being bound, of being free to be as wild, as deviant as he wants...
And what's happening to his body is happening to the shadow's, too, like some perverse kind of mirror, and he realises through half opened eyes that the shadow's clothes have loosened along with his, and that they're doing a lot more than touching now. The shadows forehead is pressed against Link's, and he has the horrible sensation that their thoughts are being shared. A faint prickle of iniquity is stirring in the back of his mind, a strange desire to throw off his hero reputation and be as wicked, as dark, as impossibly violent as the creature making his hips buck, the creature pressing against him, pressing into him, and drawing out low moans and screams, laughing at his attempts to writhe away.
Don't play about, brother. Don't pretend you want to get away. Just stop. Accept it. This is me breaking you, brother, this is what you've been yearning for, isn't it? Complete abandon, lust...something as dirty and foreign as this. And that's what I'm doing for you. Me, your little shadow. I'm always watching your back, after all, it's about time I got you on it for a change...
Stop it, please...
And Link breaks.
When he finds his way out of the maze, night has long since fallen. He is shaking, jumping at rustles and stirrings of the breeze. Link has never been afraid of the dark, but he's never been particularly fond of it, either, but tonight, he's glad of it, desperate for it. Swathes of blackness to hide the burning of his cheeks, a cloak of black on the floor blotting out every shadow.
Most importantly, blotting out his own.
Linebeck is asleep, slumped against the post box by the harbour. Link doesn't stop to wake him up, just pushes him as he walks past. He hears Linebeck give a strangled yelp as he jerks into consciousness, and thinks he hears a sort of splash, but he's already out of earshot. He doesn't want the man to see him, doesn't want anyone to see him. He hears a faint tinkling, and Ciela's voice calls out "Link?"
He ignores her, shutting the door of his cabin behind him. Slumping to the floor, he brings his knees up to his chest. Eventually, the ship begins to move, and a little while after that, the shaking subsides, and warmth begins to return to his limbs. A little while later he feels brave enough to light a candle, and though the sight of his shadow gives him chills, he resists the urge to snuff the little light out.
The physical sensation has ebbed away, and Link is starting to feel more sure of himself. It still scares him to admit it but he'd enjoyed what had happened – he'd been forced to, and he had. What worries him more is the lingering feeling in the back of his mind, the feeling of the shadows of his thoughts trailing them, lurking in the darkness, waiting to be awoken again. And behind that, somewhere in the deeper recesses of his head, the sensation of rust gathering, tainting and tarnishing the things he upheld, rotting them from the inside out with a faintly whispered what if.
Next time, he'll be stronger, Link swears, as he curls up into his little bed.
But the shadow-thoughts are laughing, and they say he won't.
He doesn't sleep the whole night, and there's a shuddering emptiness inside him, and laughter still ringing, echoing in his ears.