Author's Notes:

WOOHOO! NEW ONESHOT WHILE OUT OF TOWN! I'M GOOOOD! xD

Seriously, no one knew what Montreal was, but Drummondville? =.= Lol, I'm even more lost than before xD

Anyway, this is a songfic for the song Livin on a Prayer by Bon Jovi. Found it while playing Guitar Hero World Tour =D

AND PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO CHECK OUT WAVEBREEZE'S AN MY ZELINK ONESHOT CONTEST! Everything at www(dot)fanfiction(dot)net/forum/Back_to_School_ZeLink_Contest/65276/ =DDDD

Takes place in a semi-modern Hyrule, during the Hylian Revolution (the Hylian version of the Industrial Revolution in the Modern Times) and...

WARNING: RATED T15+ FOR MENTIONS OF DISTURBING SUBJECTS THAT COULD NOT BE APPROPRIATE FOR SOME PEOPLE! READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED!

***************

Shadows danced across the wooden walls, creating many mysterious shapes that could be assimilated to anything if given the time to be analyzed. The young man in a black, long-sleeved shirt and baggy grey pants sitting in front of the fire in the chimney had plenty of time to do that, oh yes he did.

"Oh, how am I gonna announce this to Zelda…?" he whispered in a trembling voice, burying his face in his hands. Just by the shaking tone of his voice, any passer by could tell he had been crying not too long ago. "How can I possibly tell her I've lost my job…?"

Well, that's the rule when you live in the Hylian Revolution time period. The period where technology slowly starts making an appearance into Hylian lives, and when the concept of industrial work pops onto the market. Good, or bad? It's a different opinion for everyone. For the blond-haired young man of seventeen years who was crying on the floor…

"IT SUCKS!" he screamed, rage and sorrow burning in his heart. Taking deep breaths, he shuddered, trying to calm down. "It seems like not that long ago, I used to work on the docks, it was really nice and peaceful… And then, the Revolution came… Machinery slowly started taking our jobs, and many of us went on strike. The strike went badly, and not only were the protesters violently dismissed, but the company who was supporting the strike was shut down." The young adult looked at the fire, as if telling it his story. "How convenient that it was my employer's company." He spat next to the flames, making a hissing noise ring through the silent air. Fresh tears poured out of his eyes as he turned away from the fire for a moment, resting his tired eyes.

He sighed. It wasn't so bad… All he had to do was find a new job! It wouldn't be that hard, right?

"Right." He half-grinned, making it obvious that it was a total lie.

He pulled his knees up to his chest and tiredly put his head on them, circling it with his arms. For a moment, just the crackling fire in the hearth, and the occasional string of cold wind that blew through some cracks were audible. That was, until, in a blast of cold wind and rushing sounds, the door slammed open, and, covered in snow, a girl staggered in.

The boy's ears shot up, followed by his head. Blinking once, he quickly got up and rushed for the girl who put a hand against the wooden wall to support herself. Slamming the door shut and cutting the cold winter air from flowing into the already cold room, he lifted the girl who looked about his age, and brought her closer to the fire.

Teeth clattering through her smile, the girl removed her light jacket and plucked a kiss on the boy's cheek before working on her fingerless gloves.

"You okay?" the boy asked, rubbing the girl's arms to help her heat up.

"Yeah, can't blame anything or anyone else than winter, though." The blond girl grinned, throwing her stuff next to fire to let them dry.

"I'll go get us some tea." The boy got up and headed for the counter that separated the kitchen area and the living room area.

Not long afterwards, he got back with two mugs of steaming drinks, handing one to the girl before sitting down next to her. She loosened her tight work uniform and skirt before grabbing it and nodding thankfully.

"So how was work today, Zelda?" he asked, putting his hands on the mug to help his fingers defrost from the sudden gust of cold wind that the girl had brought in with her.

"Tiring." She laughed lightly. "We had plenty of customers today, you know, the usual 'morning coffee and a hot soup for lunch' thing that comes around every winter." Zelda explained, sipping some of the hot dark brown liquid.

"Hmm, you deserve a good night's rest." The boy nodded, apparently relieved.

"I do." Zelda laughed. "So how bout you, Link? How come you're home so early?" she asked, looking at him curiously while sipping some more tea.

"Umm…" Link turned away, ashamed, blushing.

"What's up?" she asked, getting closer to him to take a peek at his red face. "You feeling sick?" she inquired softly, in a gentle, loving voice.

"No, it's just that…" his voice blocked again on that, and he sighed.

"I… I heard some passing rumours… That Great Bay Construction… was shut down…" she slowly announced.

"It's not a rumour." Link replied coldly, immediately regretting his tone when Zelda gasped. "I'm sorry." He hung his head, feeling icy tears pricking his eyes.

After a silence that seemed to last for a long while, Zelda finally put her mug down and circled his compacted form with her arms, cuddling her nose on his cold cheek.

"It's not your fault Link… I won't love you any less, and I certainly won't abandon you under any circumstances." She comforted him.

"I'm sorry… I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry." The young man hiccupped, letting a couple of tears loose to roll down his cheeks.

"It's not your fault. I'll help you find a new job, first thing tomorrow evening, after I come home from work." She assured him, reaching into her uniform's pocket. "By the way, here's another week's pay." She pulled out an orange rupee with a smile.

Link lifted his head and smiled. "You can leave it in the box we always put our savings in." he nodded. "I don't know what I'd do without you." He grinned, feeling his mood being lifted up again.

"Me neither." Zelda winked, getting up and heading into the only other room in the small house, the bedroom, to store her pay in their savings box. As soon as she was gone, though, Link's cheerfulness went back down.

"How can we survive through such tough times? Thousands, millions of people are looking for jobs, who said I can ever find one again? Stupid machines, why did they have to cause so much misery?" he sighed. "We'll never make it out alive… We'll never lead a happy life… Why did we have to fall on such tough periods?" he sniffled.

"Link…" he suddenly felt two gentle hands on his shoulders.

Slowly turning around, he looked up into Zelda's glistening eyes. Unshed tears were obviously glinting on their surface, but she was smiling nonetheless, holding her hand down for him to take.

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

---

In the morning, Link was woken up by his internal alarm.

"Right, now that I'm not working anymore, no need for an alarm." He frowned sadly, yawning, stretching, getting up and heading to the adjacent room for some breakfast.

After that, he went back to his room, changed into an old, yet cozy green pullover and dirt-stained black pants, grabbed his modest brown jacket, slipped his feet into his worn brown boots, ran his fingers through his messy hair before rushing out, slamming the door behind him with a newfound grin.

---

That night, Zelda returned to find out that Link hadn't returned yet. Wondering idly where he could have been since he wasn't working anymore, she headed for the back door that led out to their 'refrigerator'. It mainly consisted of a few cardboard and plastic boxes full of snow where they put in their food to keep.

Once outside, she opened the cardboard cover on one of the boxes and looked for something to cook. Finally settling for vegetable soup, she brought out a used pot, filled it with water, and set it on the counter to later take it to hang over the fire. Afterwards, she followed with a couple of zucchinis, two tomatoes, a carrot, a celery stalk, and a few condiments that she put on the counter before closing the door, pulling out a knife and starting her work.

She was just about to start cutting the second zucchini in circles when the wooden front door slammed open, and immediately shut in less than a second, making her jump.

"Whoa, what the hell, Link?" she gasped, leaving her work for a moment to watch her boyfriend as he took off his snow-covered garments and walked up to her with a smile.

"I've got good news, and bad news." He directly announced, hanging over the counter.

"Enlighten me." Zelda laughed, continuing her cooking.

"Good, or bad first?" Link smirked.

"Good." She replied with a smirk of her own.

"I found myself a job at a carpentry workshop." He announced with a proud grin.

"THAT'S AMAZING!" Zelda exclaimed, leaving her work for a second to lean over and hug him, pecking a few kisses on his lips at the same time. "Bad news now?" she sighed, pulling back and getting back to her work.

"My boss looks scary." Link laughed. "I mean, he's like this really rich and spoiled fat guy who smokes all the time and looks down upon people of the lower classes." He rolled his eyes.

"Link, if you don't like your boss, you'll never be able to go on with your work." Zelda sighed, putting her zucchinis in the hot water, and starting on the tomatoes.

"Hey, you don't like Midna, and you've been at your diner job for over three years now." the young man noted.

"Well, I guess you could make exceptions, but Midna's almost never around to check on our work. By the sound of it, your boss sounds like a type of guy who's constantly looming on you and checking if you're doing everything right." She pointed out wryly.

"It's not like I had a choice, I looked around the entire day for a job, but no one would hire me, then that guy randomly popped up and asked me if I'd work for him." He shrugged.

"There's bound to be a catch. What is it?" Zelda rolled her eyes, putting in the tomatoes before moving on to the celeries.

"No catch. He just looked at me for a moment, then asked if I wanted to work for him. Pay's decent, so it should be just fine." He smiled proudly.

"When do you start?" Zelda inquired.

"Tomorrow."

"Sounds great!" Zelda gave a half-hearted smile that Link didn't notice, putting the chopped celeries into the now- red mixture of vegetables. "Here, let's have a complete dinner to celebrate." She nodded slowly, fixing him straight in the eyes with an inquisitive look.

"I get the message, I'll go buy some ham." Link rolled his eyes and headed for the door. In a second, he was dressed and out to buy some ham.

"I hope everything goes fine…" the young woman smiled sadly, then went back to her carrots.

---

The next morning, Zelda woke up to realize that Link was already gone. Weird, it was only six in the morning.

"Must have gone early for his first day." She simply figured, getting up and heading for the kitchen for breakfast.

After breakfast, she put on her uniform, which consisted of a grey, sleeveless blouse over a white buttoned shirt, with a red tie underneath. Her mini-skirt reached up to her mid-thigh, and her red-rimmed white socks went up to her knees. Under that went her worn black running shoes, and over all that went her light jacket.

Rushing out, she closed the door behind her and started running towards the corner diner where she worked.

As soon as she ran inside from the back door, she was greeted by the waitresses inside.

"Morning, Zelda!" one particular voice shouted out of all of them. Zelda smiled as she threw away her jacket, seeing a blond girl dressed in her same uniform running for her with a smile.

"Morning, Tetra." The young girl greeted the co-manager of the diner.

"Hey, know what? Midna's supposedly sick, so no one's gonna check on us today." She announced with a grin.

"Sounds nice." Zelda grinned, taking off her shoes and quickly putting on her roller skates instead. After making sure she was ready for another day, she rolled out of the back room, and behind the diner's order counter for a new day of work.

---

"One soup and ham sandwich combo for table 6!" Zelda announced as she skated to the counter, picking up an empty tray as she went.

"Got that." The girl in the kitchen nodded, and turned around, giving orders. "Order for table 11 is ready." She motioned towards the back counter where two trays of food rested.

"Thanks, Malon." Zelda nodded, and skated to the counter, picking up one tray on each hand and skating towards table 11.

Once done with that order, she skated back to the counter for her second one before Tetra caught her by the arm, almost making her trip.

"Sorry. Just to tell you you can take a lunch break now, Marin will cover up for you while you eat." She nodded with a smile.

"Thanks, Tet." Zelda shot her a smile, then skated for the counter, putting her hand for support and jumping over it, disappearing into the back room.

Once inside, she nodded to Malon's twin sister, who was wearing her skates to take the young woman's place, and headed for a chair, plopping down on it to change into her regular shoes.

She stayed seated for a while to rest her aching feet, but then, a grumble in her stomach reminded the blond girl that she needed to eat. So without further adieu, she stood up and headed for the kitchen to find herself something to eat.

"Mal…" she called once she got inside. "Can you make me an all dressed ham sandwich with orange juice on the side please?" she asked.

"No prob, I'll get to it right away." The redhead twin smiled, disappearing behind the aisles to make the younger waitress's lunch. Smiling deviously when she remembered that Midna didn't approve of them stealing food from the kitchen, she simply waited until Malon came back with what she wanted before she thanked her and went back to the employee room to eat.

"In your FACE, Midna." Zelda snickered before taking a bite into her sandwich.

---

"Tired…" Sighing out as she staggered towards their little cot, she wearily watched as her breaths became wisps of smoke with contact to the cold air.

Eyelids dropping dangerously, she slowly opened the door and got inside the living room, greeted by the simple wooden walls of their two-roomed little cabin. The small cracks in the wood let in some wind that howled lightly through the silence of the air. The house was never heated, but she always said that it was better than the outside, with the biting cold.

"Ugh." she dropped my coat on the side and took off her shoes, heading for the outdoors refrigerator to see if there was anything to eat.

Of course, there was nothing worth the time, so she closed the door and went back inside, settling on a good night's rest.

"Link?" she called as she walked into the 'bedroom', consisting of a Queen-sized mattress with many rips and stains lying on the ground, and a half broken drawer where they stored their extra clothes and pay. A dirty, half-broken mirror hung loosely on the wall, threatening to fall at any time. "Hmm… Guess he's not home yet." She yawned, plopping down on the mattress. "What a shame…" she muttered sleepily, pulling over her wool blanket, and not bothering to change into her pyjamas before sinking into sleep.

---

She was later woken up when she felt something get down on the mattress, next to her. Sleepily blinking and clearing the fog in her vision, she pulled up into a sitting position and yawned.

"Link?" she called.

"Oh, I'm sorry, did I wake you, Zel?" Link's voice drifted into her ears from right next to her.

"A little… Why are you so late…?" she asked, worried.

"Nothing, just go back to sleep, you have a long day ahead of you, tomorrow." He gently pushed her back down over the mattress.

"Okay…" the girl slowly blinked, sinking into sleep again… But not quite. Just a small part of her mind stayed conscious, listening intently as Link slid under the warm wool cover while muttering something under his breath. She sleepily turned over, curious, jumping slightly when his dead cold skin touched her warm one. But… under the cold…

Was he trembling?

"Link…" she moaned.

"I'm sleepy, Zel, I'd like to get some rest…" he whispered shakily.

"Alright…" she didn't press the issue further, vowing to lighten everything up in the morning.

Though she couldn't help but eavesdrop when a couple of minutes later, he began muttering something again in hushed whispers. Zelda tossed and turned around again in a seemingly-asleep set of movements, until she was close enough to hear what he was muttering under his breath.

A prayer.

---

In the morning, Zelda grouchily woke up to realize that Link was gone again. Groaning in weariness, she rubbed her eyes, getting up, and realizing that she was still in her uniform. For that reason, her skirt and shirt were both wrinkled. Sighing and rolling her eyes, she got up and worked on smoothing them: no time to do anything else as she slipped into her shoes and jacket, leaving the house in a flash so she wouldn't be late for work.

---

At night as well, Link was late. Zelda went to sleep alone, and woke up alone. This 'routine' went on for a few days until Zelda decided to find out what was keeping Link, and why it was that every time she touched him…

He flinched?

So she vowed on Saturday night that she would stay up. Her work shifts only started at noon, so she could sleep in late on Saturdays.

Leaning against the all, she slowly blinked, trying to blink out the weariness from her eyes. Her vision was getting blurry, and she wondered where Link could have gone to at midnight when the door suddenly creaked open.

She snapped her attention back to the real world, blinking over and over again. Her eyes fixed on the open doorway, snapping completely open when Link wa- staggered inside.

"Link…" Zelda called softly.

The young boy flinched, jumping, and turned in Zelda's direction.

"What're you still doing up at this hour, Zel?" he whispered in a hushed voice.

"Wanted to talk to you, if that's alright." She pushed herself up and headed for him, extending her hand for him to take.

"I guess…" he whispered again, eyes downcast, as he ignored her hand and sat down on the mattress. Zelda joined him on his side, crossing her legs and slowly touching his arm. Awkwardly enough, he shivered and moved a tiny part away from her.

"Link… Can you tell me what's wrong, please?" Zelda asked gently, getting closer to him.

"It's nothing too big." He muttered, looking away.

"Please, tell me, I care about you." She put her hand on his shoulder and ran her fingers down his arm.

He shuddered again and pulled his arm away, rubbing it himself while looking away with a guilty look.

"I swear, nothing's happening. Nothing worth mentioning…" he muttered.

"Link, talk to me! Something's obviously not right, and you're hiding something important from me!" Zelda suddenly put a hand firmly on his side, squeezing gently to put accent on what she said.

The weirdest thing happened right then. Link backed away form her and covered his ears with his hands, shuddering.

"It hurts… it hurts…" he whispered shakily, looking almost trance-like.

"Where does it hurt?" Zelda was immediately by his side, hesitating between touching him and not touching him.

"It hurts…" he repeated, not even lifting his eyes.

"Your side?" Zelda guessed, not even waiting for an answer before she pulled his shirt up gently.

In the gentle moonlight pouring through the small, cracked and dirty window on the side, she realized that what had made him react was a huge black and blue spot on his side. Gasping, she slowly put his shirt down, covering her lover's blue skin, and got up.

"I'll go get some snow in a towel… It'll help against the pain." She threw him one more worried look, then exited.

Link finally lifted his eyes when she was gone, watching the entrance with sparkling eyes. Brimming with tears. He stayed frozen that way, and only turned his head back down when Zelda ran in, a towel full of cold snow in her hands.

"Here, put it against where you hit yourself." She gently applied the snow on his side, making him shudder. "What happened? Why is there such a big blue on your side? It must've been some accident you had…" she ran her fingers through his hair gently as he used both his hands to press the cold snow against his bruise.

"Work was busy today, and while carrying a big plank of wood, I was accidentally pushed by someone and fell on a table corner, and the plank fell on me afterwards, so the bruise became bigger than it should have been." He muttered under his breath, gaze downcast.

"Are you hungry?" she asked, caressing his hair slowly, concerned.

"A bit." He shrugged lightly, wincing in pain.

"Alright. I'll go make you a bowl of hot soup. It should help you calm down and get some rest." Zelda got up, kissed his hair, and left for the kitchen.

"Thanks." Link only whispered before his eyes closed on their own, and he dropped on the floor, letting go of the towel full of snow, spreading shining white diamonds on the ground below him.

---

For the following weeks, Link seemed to be normal again. Then, one night, he came home again, tired and shivering. This condition persisted for about half a week, before the nightmares and sleep talks came.

On one particular night, when Link kept tossing around harder than usual and prevented Zelda from getting any sleep, the latter finally decided it was about time she realized what was going on.

"Link." she firmly called, getting up and putting a hand on his chest to stop him from moving. That didn't help as he continued moving around, brows creased, sweating, and occasionally moaning something. "Link, wake up." She ordered coldly, using her second arm to hold down his forehead.

She was immediately forced to take it off, though, when she felt abnormal heat pricking the skin on her palm. She gasped, and quickly got up.

"I'll go get some wet towels." She informed to no one in particular, and ran into the other room. It wasn't long before she came back in with a small bucket of water and some towels. Dipping the towels in the icy water, she quickly set them on Link's forehead. The latter gritted his teeth, and his eyebrows creased even more.

And then, he finally opened his eyes to look at Zelda. His look was pained, his eyes bloodshot from either weariness or tears.

"Link, please, baby, tell me what's going on with you…" Zelda got on him to hold him down, and firmly put both her hands on his chest.

"Run…" he finally whispered, turning his head away. "Run away…"

"Run away from what? Who?" Zelda questioned him, curiosity perked up.

"Us…" he finally looked at her straight in the eyes, blinking out twin tears. "Let's run away…" he pleaded.

There was a moment of silence. Outside, the howling wind of a blowing snowstorm whistled. Inside, nothing made a sound.

"Why…?" Zelda finally asked, letting a tear roll down her cheek.

"BECAUSE LIFE HURTS TOO MUCH!" the young man finally screamed out, bringing his hands to his head and screwing his eyes shut in pain.

More tears ran down Zelda's eyes. Slowly, she leaned down, and finally circled her arms around him.

"I'm sorry… I'm sorry… Is this about our way of living…?" she whispered, sniffling.

"No, it's not… It's… something else… That hurts… Too much to bear anymore…"he whimpered, zoning out.

"Is this…" she hesitated for a moment, then put a hand on his cheek. "About your job…?"

Link just stared at her for a moment. The tears stopped flowing, and his breaths became more stable. Once he had blinked everything out of his eyes, he sighed.

"A bit…" he whispered an unfinished sentence. He followed by pushing himself into a sitting position and getting Zelda to move next to him.

"We'll talk tomorrow morning, then." Zelda yawned. "I'll go dump the water outside and come back. Come on, baby… It's okay… Someday…" Leaving her sentence to hang, she got up, grabbed the bucket of water and left.

It was only then that Link gritted his teeth in a flurry of emotions and finished his phrase.

"… too close to the answer that was meant to stay my secret…"

---

Winter passed… And summer slowly came back to Hyrule. Leaving behind the snow, the cold, and the harsh days, the hot and comfortable season came back to Hyrule. The snow melted, the grass grew, the flowers bloomed, and the cicadas started crying again…

"Phew…" Zelda laughed, picking one last flower and adding it to the bouquet in her arms before turning to Link.

The latter was sitting in the grass, knees pulled up in front of his face, blue eyes sorrowfully looking up into the endless sky. His long blond hair drifted in the air current, imitating his worn out blue shirt and grey pants. Under that, his dirt-stained white socks sank into the grassy fray, his worn out black running shoes thrown aside for a moment.

"Li-ink…" I slowly got close to him and plopped down on his side, poking his shoulder.

"Oh." He snapped out for a moment, turning to her with a gentle smile. "Sorry, was lost for a moment." He chuckled sheepishly.

"You seem very lost these few days." She noted, running her hand through his hair.

"Meh, it's nothing." He winced with a half-smile.

"Oh come on, don't go acting up on me like last winter." She scolded amusedly.

No incidents had followed that time where he couldn't calm down, past winter. Sometimes, a few wounds came up here and there, and he'd still talk to Zelda about running away, but most of the time, he just kept quiet and tried smiling.

"So when's your boss coming back from vacation?" Zelda finally broke the silence with an anguishing question.

Link's face darkened.

"I don't know." The three syllables were cold and detached.

"Why are you so distant from me when it comes to your job?" Zelda whined. "I've told you about mine, that Midna was replaced and I got a slight promotion, so how bout yours?" she tried.

"I carry planks of wood, I cut wood, I nail wood, what else does an apprentice carpenter do?" he answered coldly.

"… Fall on table corners, accidentally cut your finger with a saw, hit your head over low planks…" Zelda rolled her eyes.

"Yeah." Link gave a short, nervous laugh. "And that."

There was another awkward silence, then Zelda spoke up again.

"You seem to be happier whenever your boss goes on vacation. Why's that?" she inquired curiously.

Link simply shook his head and looked at the horizon.

"Let's go home, I'm tired." He simply slid his feet into his black shoes and got up, walking away.

"Hey wait!" idly wondering why he always avoided the subject, Zelda got up and started running after him, flowers in hand.

---

"So, what should we eat for our beautiful day off?" Zelda laughed once they got inside. After making some detours here and there on the way home from the Flower Field, they finally got there in time for sunset.

"Something else than soup sounds nice." Link laughed.

"Very funny." Zelda rolled her eyes. "I think we deserved ourselves a nice ham and rice dinner. I'll go get supplies from the market right away." She nodded enthusiastically.

"'Nough money?" Link asked, walking into the bedroom.

"Yes yes. Be right back!" she nodded.

"Oh, and I've got a headache, can you afford some pills too?" he called from their room.

"No problem, we've got a handful of money to spare!" she replied before the door slammed shut.

For a moment, Link stayed there, immobile. Then, he went over and opened the single dirtied and cracked window in their room, looking out into the sunset. The air was fresh, a good chance from the heat that tore through Castle Town during the summer.

Deciding that it was too hot to be wearing a shirt, Link sighed, turning around, and heading for the cracked and dirty mirror opposite to the window.

"Just for a little while…" he simply thought.

Once there, he contemplated his handsome face for a few moments without any real purposes, then finally reached down to unbutton his shirt.

One button, two buttons, three buttons…

Skin started to show, the shirt open halfway through his torso.

Four buttons, five buttons, six buttons…

The shirt finally unbuttoned completely, though the cloth was still folded across most of the skin.

Steadying himself and taking a deep breath, he gripped the borders on the shirt, and on three, pulled it off, letting it drop to the floor.

The room seemed to darken considerably. A broken look flashed across Link's face as he slowly brought a finger and poked his chest.

Pain erupted in his torso, and he doubled over, biting his lip.

Another broken rib.

"Damn it." He swore, getting back up and gingerly rubbing his chest before his attention was drawn to a mass of black spots on his arms, at the top, near his shoulder.

Gritting his teeth, he grabbed a nearby towel and wet it in a bucket they always kept in the room, wiping it gently across the black dots. They weren't very big, just the circumference of a regular pencil eraser, or a nail head, or a cigarette…

He moved his hands to his back, blindly running his hands up and down over the many vertical and diagonal bumps of healed skin. All this while gritting his teeth.

And then, he just looked at himself straight in the mirror with a nostalgic look. This wasn't him anymore. The boy in the mirror, who was looking back at him desperately wasn't him. He wasn't so weak… At least, he didn't use to be.

His eyes were drawn to one nasty bruise blossoming at the very bottom of his stomach, over his abs, disappearing under the cloth of his pants. All around it, red marks, in the faint shape of fingers, decorated it from his abs, to his waist, to inside his pants. He shuddered at that memory and looked at the ground, recalling what had happened on the day he got those marks.

Spreading his arms out in a half-cross, he simply glared at himself, wondering how he could have sunk to such a low level. He was dirtier than any street rat now, more tainted than any criminal. If all he had to do was curl up in a corner and die, he'd-

CRASH!

The sound of something dropping and scattering rang out from behind him. Link snapped out and immediately turned around, gasping.

There stood Zelda, gaping in horror, a dropped bottle of pills and a broken glass of water at her feet.

"ZELDA!" Link gasped, and finally realized what she was staring at a moment later. Biting his lip, he bent down and quickly scooped his shirt up, rushing it back on.

Too late, though, as the young woman blinked out of her shock and advanced, putting a hand firmly on the fabric.

"Take it off." She whispered coldly, yet shakily.

"It's too cold, the nights are always fresh." He avoided.

"Take it off." It sounded more like an order this time.

"But I-"

"TAKE IT OFF!"

Both the girl and the boy were left shaking: one in worry, the other in hesitation.

"Didn't you hear me?" Zelda ordered, a little more gently this time, slackening her grip on the shirt and looking her eyes on Link's. He ashamedly dropped his gaze.

"I did." He whispered.

"Then do as I say…" she gently grabbed a sleeve and slowly pulled it off of him.

Knowing there was no escape, he bit his lip, swallowed his pain, braced himself for a lecture and questioning, and pulled his shirt off.

At first, an empty, cold wind blew in the room despite the closed window. Still looking down, Link didn't even dare to look at Zelda while she slowly moved her fingers along his scars, horrified.

And suddenly, a slap resounded across the room.

Startled, Link looked up, facing Zelda who was sniffling. His cheek burned from the hit, but he didn't mind the pain: isn't it what he deserved?

"Oh Dear Nayru…" Zelda finally whispered, flying into his arms and hugging him, wiping her tears on his bare chest.

Not knowing what to say, Link put his arms around her petite body and looked away.

"Link, why didn't you tell me you had problems…?" she started with the most obvious question.

"I don't have problems, I just hit myself a couple of times. How would that be a problem?" he made up, forcing a smile.

"You say that ALL the time! It's obvious now, Link, stop making alibis! Tell me what's going on, please!" she begged.

"Nothing's wrong!" he sustained.

"Oh yeah?" she raised a brow and pointed at the huge bruise and red marks that covered his abs and went down under his pants. "How far do those marks go?" she asked.

"Just my abs." Link quickly replied, looking away nervously.

Zelda frowned, took a deep breath, hardened her gaze and suddenly put a teasing hand on Link's thigh, dangerously close to the distance between his two legs.

Link reacted immediately. He jumped back, squeaking in fear, looking wide-eyed at Zelda.

"What the-" he didn't have time to finish before Zelda advanced and grabbed his waist demandingly, her face betraying no emotions. He jerked again, unable to get away from her grip.

"Please stop…" his tone really was pleading, his hands covering his ears. "Please…" he tried again.

"Sit down." She ordered.

He nodded, scared, and immediately plopped down as soon as Zelda let go of him.

"I'll go get some tea." Zelda turned around and left without a second word.

Link was left on the ground, shivering, eyes wide in fear. What an inconvenient and delicate spot he'd gotten himself into now… How would he tell Zelda…? Would he tell her at all?

The rest of the time, until Zelda came back with two cups of tea, was a silence in his mind. It was only when Zelda finally asked a question that he jerked awake.

"Let's start from the basics. I'll ask you a question, and you'll have to reply, okay?" she asked, a little gentle as to diminish his worries.

"Kay…" he replied, not knowing if he made the might decision.

"When?" she simply asked, sipping her tea.

Link bit his lip anxiously, and decided that now that he'd fallen into the hole, the best he could do was ask for someone to get him out.

"Since last winter." He replied, looking away.

"Where?" she continued, not fazed at all.

"Work." He simply replied, sipping some tea sadly.

She blinked once, surprised, but continued anyway.

"Who?" she asked, biting her lip, not knowing if he's answer that delicate question.

Link took some time to think on his answer. Just two words he'd have to splutter out, and everything would be solved. But that fear, the fear gripping his inside, and his worry, did he need to close his eyes on them?

He finally sighed and closed his eyes, convincing himself it was too late to back down now. The damage had already been done.

"My boss." Was all he said before Zelda's mood changed drastically. Her frown deepened, and a cloud passed across her forehead, her eyes faded.

"That bastard." She simply whispered, gritting her teeth.

Link frowned even more and looked away. Now, he'd dragged Zelda into the mess as well.

"Good job, asshole." He thought sadly.

"How?" she finally asked. "I want a full explanation." She demanded on top of that.

Link bit his lip and sighed out. "It started with punches. Then kicks. Then pointy objects and cigarettes. Then a whip. And anything else he could find. In the end, his hands were enough." He shuddered at that, avoiding many of the details Zelda wanted.

She decided he didn't need to be pressed on the situation right now. A long silence, tense and cold, lapsed between them, untouched tea resting in their hands. Zelda finally blinked and put her tea down, looking at Link straight in the eyes. Her previously cold eyes had now become gentle and caring. She smiled sadly and took a deep breath.

"Why?"

His last defences crumbled. The first tears started running from his eyes. He sniffled, trying to wipe them away, but a gentle hand on his shoulder stopped him.

"Will you answer?"

That set off his last fuse as well. Giving out a loud cry, he fell right into Zelda's open arms, sobbing into her chest. She sadly circled him with her arms, caressing his hair like a mother would while comforting her child.

"I don't know! I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I really am!" he cried, for a moment seeming like he was talking to someone else than Zelda. The latter frowned sadly and kissed his hair.

"It's alright, everything's okay now… We'll fix everything together…" she whispered in his ear.

Link gulped down audibly and nodded, calming down. "How?" he asked fearfully.

"Uhh, hello? Authorities much?" she winked.

"They won't believe us… I mean, we're lower class people, and my boss is an aristocrat… They won't believe us…" he whispered desperately.

"We'll find a way." Zelda smiled and kissed his hair again. "Until then, you can stop calling that asshole your boss, because you're quitting." She giggled, trying to lift the mood.

"I can't quit… he threatened to…" he gulped down visibly. "… steal all I have left if I told anyone… to tell someone, I'd have to quit… If I quit, he'll realize he's been discovered…" he whispered worriedly.

"No way, I'll protect you! All those times I had to fight off drunk rapists after my night shifts will pay off. One rapist or another, not much difference, is there?" she laughed.

That actually brought a smile to Link's face. He sighed and looked up at her.

"I love you, you know that?" he whispered.

"Nothing new there." she giggled and kissed him.

That night, Link slept soundly, knowing he needn't worry a moment longer about anything.

---

Link woke up at noon to realize that Zelda was by his side already.

"Zel?" he yawned. "Aren't you supposed to be at work?" he stretched.

"We've got a new manager, Winry Rockbell, who allows us days off. Sweet, huh?" she smiled.

"Cool, I'll have to thank her one day." He nodded.

"We'll go eat there AFTER we get rid of your boss." Her tone straightened, and she stood up. "Come on, I made us breakfast. Eat well, you're gonna need that energy." She led him to the kitchen, where she put a plate of eggs in front of him with a cup of orange juice.

"Thanks." Without a word, he swallowed the entire thing hungrily, then stretched. "Let's go. We have justice to serve." Smirking for the first time in what seemed like forever, he put on his running shoes, a black pair of pants and shirt, with a worn red cloak on top.

Zelda followed after wearing her own running shoes under her work uniform. Sliding a hand in her boyfriend's, they took a deep breath, and stepped outside.

---

They paused in front of Link's workplace. The entrance was in the back alley, the cobblestone dirty and stained with Nayru-knows-what. Carefully, the two young adults proceeded, looking around, senses alert. They finally stopped a little further away from the door.

"Okay, battle plan. I'll go call the cops, but like you mentioned, we don't have much credibility. Your bastard ex-boss needs to be caught in the act if we want him to face consequences." She explained.

"So I'm bait, is that what you're saying?" Link snickered lowly.

"Yeah." Zelda grinned back. "In any case, I'll go get the cops while you go inside. Your job is to provoke him, which shouldn't be too hard, and fend him off until I get the cops in here. It's so simple, it's bound to work out." She nodded surely.

"Sounds good. Now run, I'll fend him off for as long as I can." Link assured.

"Good luck. I love you." Zelda plucked a sweet, yet short kiss on his lips, then ran off in the opposite direction.

The young adult was left to faces the gates to either Hell or Heaven himself. Gulping down assuredly, he took a deep breath, and ran inside.

---

"Hello?" he called, wandering around. Ten minutes, and no one had replied to him in the dark place. "Is anyone here?" he tried again. "Boss?" he had to force that last one out.

Even though forced, it was what finally worked.

"Someone called?" was all he heard before something heavy hit him in the back of the head.

Pupils shrinking, he gasped and staggered before his vision blurred, and his eyelids closed against his will.

---

"Damn, my head…" Link groaned, slowly blinking. His vision was still a bit hazy, and a searing pain was in his arm.

His first reaction was to gasp. How long had he been out?

"Where am I?" he wondered to himself.

"Good question." But someone cut him to the answer.

"Huh?" he looked around, senses alert. He finally realized that a small light was flickering a couple ten feet away from him. "What?" he asked again.

"Hello there, Link. As you remember, I'm Basque Grand, your boss, remember? And this is my humble carpentry shop!" the lights suddenly went on, blinding Link for a second. He blinked away, but gasped when he opened them again.

In front of him was standing a tall, plump man, a cigarette in his mouth, smirking down at him behind his large moustache. His small eyes, filled with greed, hatred, and nothing more than negative emotions, looked down at him.

"Hey, old man, what was that for?" he spat.

He was met with a slap in the face. "For being late to work." He slapped him again. "And that for calling me an old man."

"Pff, old man." Link snickered.

"What's gotten into you, Link?" the man kneeled to be at his size. Only then did he finally realize that he was tied to a chair, arms secured behind him, his cloak discarded at the side. "Where did that rebellious fire come from?" he removed his cigarette from his mouth, his smirk growing larger. "I thought I extinguishes that fire in your eyes a while ago."

Link hissed as the man shoved his cigarette into his cheek, burning his skin and creating another black, round hole. He then threw the extinguished cigarette away and grabbed his chin, making him look straight in the eyes.

"Could it be someone has sparked false hope in you? Hope that you might escape from me?" he asked in a dangerously low voice.

Link gritted his teeth and returned the man's glare. "Yeah, what if I did hope that I'd finally get rid of you after so much pain?" he snickered, content that he was distracting Basque enough to pick with the rope that bound him.

"Wrong answer, kid." A punch hit him in the abs, precisely on the mass of bruises he had before. Link gasped, trying to double over, but failing because the tall man forced his chin up and slammed his elbow in his head.

The young man gritted his teeth, gasping as he felt something sticky running down his forehead, on the side of his left eye. One of his scars must have reopened.

"Bastard." He spat, only receiving another punch as an answer. This time, he coughed up blood, staining his black shirt.

"Will you keep quiet before I hit you again?" Grand wondered idly.

"Don't count on it." Link grinned through the pain.

"Hmm… I wonder what'll happen if I do this then." His hands suddenly went to the young man's waist, grabbing violently.

Link froze, eyes glazed over.

"Don't." he warned softly.

"I don't see why I shouldn't." Basque taunted further, slipping one of his hands under the cloth and feeling skin.

"Because I said so!" Link started recognizing the fearful tone in his voice that popped up every time the despicable man touched him.

"Ooh, scary." His ex-boss gave a sort, humourless laugh as his second hand felt Link's skin.

Gritting his teeth, Link concentrated on the rope. He was almost done cutting through it with a small piece of glass he'd gotten stuck in his arm, probably when he fell on the floor unconscious. Judging the time right, he stiffened even more when one of the hands started feeling his thigh, and suddenly brought his knee up, hitting the smirking evil man in the chin.

Basque staggered back, growling. It was Link's turn to smirk now.

"You… YOU LITTLE BASTARD!" the huge man roared, grabbing a nearby saw and holding it up in the air. "I'll kill you!" with that, he advanced and put the saw right on top of Link's head.

Sweat broke out on his fearful face. Gritting his teeth, he gave a relieved cry when the glass finally cut through the rope. Not wasting a moment, he jumped off of the chair just as the saw slammed through, tearing it to pieces. Link screamed, idly wondering what he would have looked like if he still had been on that chair right now.

He also imagined Zelda's face is she learned he had died.

He remembered her words.

"We've got to hold on to what we've got…"

He gasped for breath, adding the continuation to her sentence. "We live for the fight when it's all that we've got!"

"COME BACK HERE!" the angry man roared, advancing for Link, cutting his musings short. The younger boy gasped and got up, running through the carpentry shop, his ex-boss hot on his heels. He suddenly tripped over something, grunting as he hit the floor. Gasping, he turned back to see a metal pole he had tripped on, and Basque advancing dangerously for him.

Gritting his teeth even harder, he used his foot to flip the pole up and into his hands, rolling around and holding it horizontally over his head just as the saw crashed down again, creating sparks.

Grunting in effort, Link pushed the older man's weapon off of his pole, and scrambled up, making a run for it.

"Where the hell is Zelda?" he thought worriedly, an alarm going off in his head when he realized that the noise had stopped behind him. Stopping for a moment, he looked around for Basque, but realized where he was hiding when a hand came up from in front of him and grabbed his throat.

Link gave out a startled cry before he choked. Coughing over and over again, he left his pole go to claw at the large hand holding him captive.

"Got you." Was what he heard before a punch on the side of his head blurred his vision.

He screamed out in pain, coughing harder, his throat aching from the strain.

"Dammit, this is bad." He wheezed for himself.

"Got that right." Basque appeared from in the shadows, advancing his hand and grabbing Link's head. "Now tell me, which way would you like do die? Choked, crushed, or cut to pieces?" he grinned sadistically.

"How about…" the rebellious fire in Link's eyes lit up again. "None."

In a superhuman effort, he didn't even give the large man time to think before he swung his body and delivered a hard kick to his chest. Basque coughed, letting go to double over. As for him, Link fell on the ground, coughing for lost breath.

"You… you ungrateful little brat…" Link's ex-boss suddenly got up, having suffered less damage than Link himself. "I think I'll just kill you right on the spot." Grabbing his saw from next to him, he gave a battle cry as he brought it upon Link.

He just barely rolled out of the way as the metal hit the floor with a clang. Quickly shooting up, he started running for the center of the workshop, where there was a large space, making a fight easier.

"Don't you run away from death, you coward!" Basque roared from behind him, following him closely.

Link ignored him for the time being as he finally made it to the center. Grabbing another pole from a nearby table, he looked back to see where Basque had gotten to when he suddenly ran into a wooden pole. Groaning at his own stupidity and clumsiness, he fell back on the ground, barely parrying with his metal weapon before the huge saw crashed down on him. Getting up on his knees, he defended himself again as the heavy weapon came down on him again.

"Stop!" he screamed, closing his eyes, blindly protecting himself against the crashing weapon, panicked. "Please stop!" he felt many little scratches and wounds opening up on his arms and face, ripping through his clothes as well, sometimes. "STOP!" it was then that he lost focus, allowing Basque to blow the pole out of his hands. Raising the saw for one final assault on the frightened lad, he grinned and got ready to bring his saw down when…

"HIYAAAH!" a girl's battle cry burst through the air, and Basque didn't have the time to turn before a harsh kick was delivered to the back of his head. Gasping, he dropped his saw, that landed five inches next to Link's horrified face, then followed by dropping to the ground, semi-conscious.

"Zelda?" Link whispered, feeling icy tears run down the sides of his bloody cheeks.

"Link!" Zelda relieved voice got closer, and a second later, he felt someone helping him up into a sitting position.

He opened his eyes to see Zelda's relieved, teary face looking down at him.

"I'm fine…" he slowed his breath, slowly, but steadily. "Didja get the cops?" he asked.

"Sure did." She smiled proudly, pointing behind where a couple of policemen burst in from the door, pointing their guns at the two teens and the older man sprawled on the floor. Realizing who the culprit was, the guns directed at the teens went towards the large man.

"Great job." He nodded, gently plucking a kiss on her lips. "I love you." He sighed in relief, his panic waning.

"That's some job you two did out there." an unknown voice sounded from behind them. Link and Zelda both turned around to see a man in a navy blue military uniform advancing for them, Link's ripped red cloak in his hands. "I believe this is yours." He handed him the cloak. Link smiled gratefully and took it, rolling it around him.

"Thank you…" Zelda started, but stopped, not knowing the ebony-haired man's name.

"Major Hughes, at your service, kids." He laughed, then turned around. "That there is Roy Mustang. He's the head of this crew, so he'll be questioning you a while after this." He explained, pointing at a black haired man, with a blond haired woman behind him, who was obviously giving orders. By now, Basque was seized and being led away, to the young couple's great relief.

"Thank Nayru you came in on time, Major Hughes, we really appreciate it. One second later, and…" Zelda looked at Link, who was zoning out. "… it would have been too late…" she sighed, caressing his hair.

"Glad we could be of help. Who knows, this might be the serial killer we've been looking for for a while now. He went undercover and changed his name some time ago, so he passed unknown from under the military's nose. Charged with seven murders of young adults like you two, who were found either beaten, raped, or bleeding to death." He informed them.

Link shuddered visibly. "Well, looks like his chain is broken, cause the eighth one didn't die." He gave a half-hearted smile.

"Thanks anyway. Follow me to the police office now, though. We have some questions for you, and a potential reward for capturing this killer waiting there." he grinned.

"Can you stand?" Zelda inquired, concerned.

"Course I can." A newfound grin bloomed on Link face as he got up with Zelda's help.

"Follow me to the car then." Hughes made a sign to follow him, and hand in hand, the two older teens waked out of the carpentry workshop, heading for the police car stationed in the alley. Halfway there, though, Link's legs gave out, affected by blood loss. Zelda immediately stopped, looking down at him.

"You okay?" she asked, worried.

"Yeah…" he grunted, trying to get up.

"Come on." Zelda smiled. "We're halfway there… Take my hand, we'll make it, I swear." She held her hand down for Link to take, hinting that their worries were over, and that soon, they'd be happy again.

Smiling back at her, Link slowly reached for her and took her hand, letting himself get hauled up. The sweet, relieved smile never left his face as they got into the car and drove to the police station.

And he reminisced, went all the way back to his first day at the workshop, the first day he got a taste of pain. That night, he remembered clearly his prayer. He wished for happiness, hope, and a painless world. He prayed for strength and courage to overcome the obstacle in front of him. And at that time, the prayer had been what had kept him going, because he knew it would be answered one day.

Smiling, he looked out of the car's window, up at the endless blue sky. Throwing the sun a gentle smile, he whispered a faint, but passionate phrase at the world.

"All this time, I've been Livin' On a Prayer."

***********

Author's Notes:

Okay, so, before I forget, can you find all the references made in this? =P

-Song's Lyrics (find the exact lyrics)

-Full Metal Alchemist (5-6 references, plus one scene heavily inspired by the anime)

-Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni (1 reference, think of the english title: When They Cry... What does "they" stand for? What does Higurashi mean?)

And that's about it =)

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Just replace the (dot)s by .

In any case, hope you like this little dark-themed oneshot...

PLEASE REVIEWWWWWW!!!!!! And you might not get a reply until tomorrow afternoon, when I'll go back to Montreal xD