Link and Zelda had that look on their faces again, which meant only one thing. They were plotting something. Marth approached them anxiously, all too aware that he would probably be forced to play pawn in their plans. Sure enough, as soon as he got within hearing range Zelda put on a whining voice and said,

"Marth, we've had the most brilliant idea. And we want you to be part of it."

"Erm, guys, you said…"

"That last time would be the last, we know, we know. But come on, you gotta hear us out at least."

Marth crossed his arms. "Alright, what is it this time?"

The two of them exchanged glances, smiling. Link spoke. "It's Ike. You don't know him, but he's a friend of a friend who's cousin's uncle's sister once slept with my great grandfather."

"Erm…" He hadn't followed any of that. He probably didn't need to. He yawned.

"Anyway, he's been hitting on Zelda, which is irritating, as you might imagine." A tint of jealousy clouded Link's voice and he put a protective arm around Zelda. But then he continued brightly, "So we were thinking you could flirt with him and then break his heart and pay him back!"

"Please Marth," Zelda chipped in. "It's not good for our relationship."

Marth looked between the two of them. They looked more or less the same as always, kinda… lovey-dovey, was that the term?

"Look, I've done God-knows-what over the past two years for you guys – I am not, I repeat, not, dressing up like a girl ever, ever again!"

There was a long, long silence as Link and Zelda tried not to laugh and Marth tried not to blush, unpleasant memories filling his head. Him in dresses, skirts, cardigans. Oh, the shame. He didn't even know why he had done it… except he did. Because they had dared him, threatened his honour and made him feel obliged to prove himself. But not any more.

"I will not participate!" he said, louder than he had to. Zelda just blinked.

"You chicken?"

"No."

"Then why won't you do it?"

"Because it's humiliating!"

"You're chicken."

"Am not!"

"Chicken."

"I'm not going to do it!"

"You pathetic. Honestly, it's not even a big deal. It would be a great help to me and Link, please. Ike is such a pain."

Marth turned and walked back away from them, turning back only at the door and saying, "I suppose this guy's straight."

"Yeah."

He should have known. They wanted him to wear more dresses. They were both trying to smirk, he could see it in their eyes.

"NO! And that's final!" he yelled, and then stormed out, the door not quite closed when Zelda and Link burst into giggles, already expecting him to go through with it.

*

The following morning was slow to arrive. Yawning, Marth rolled out of bed and walked to the window. It was a beautiful sunny day, just a few joggers running around, preparing for the Handers Championship, which took place every year, a marathon of thirty one miles, no less, stretching all the way from Britch Tower to Notsleigh Fields.

After a quick breakfast he decided to go for a quick walk. It was a beautiful day, and hopefully if he took the sheltered walk on the side of the park he wouldn't accidentally bump into Link or Zelda. Beside the path, a small stream wound it's way around the edge of the park, carrying on its surface the first newly fallen leaves of autumn. The Handers Championship was only a week away. Marth had never been a fan of exercise. He took part in the occasional duel, but otherwise he was perfectly slim and well-built as he was, he didn't need to lose weight or gain muscle by exercising. If he was honest, he hated it, the way it made him all red in the face and gave him a sweaty back. It didn't suit him at all.

A small yellow bird fluttered past his face, and he turned his head to follow its path. Being yellow, it was quickly lost amidst all the yellowing leaves of trees and annoyed, Marth wandered a few paces to the left to get a better view, when suddenly a heavy force slammed into him from behind, throwing him forward and sending him and whatever had hit him forwards into the leaves.

"Dear me, I'm sorry, are you alright?"

Marth looked up at the sound of the strange voice, and found that it belonged to a jogger, who was holding out a hand for him to help himself up. He took it, and was hauled easily to his feet.

"I'm fine," he sighed, brushing himself down.

"Apologies, I was lost in thought. These mp3's cut off your sense of the world, perhaps not always a good thing." He chucked in a friendly way.

"Erm…" Marth blushed. The stranger before him had well defined muscles, which were highlighted by the fact he only wore Lycra shorts, his navy blue hair tied back with a polka-dot bandana. The mp3 was clipped onto the shorts, and one of the earplugs was in the man's ear, the other dangling by his side. He was very masculine, and very attractive.

"I'm fine," Marth said at last. "Just took me be surprise."

"Ah, yes, the element of surprise always does it." There was something about the way he said it that was decidedly suggestive, and Marth had to smother another blush. Seeing he was lost for words, the man held out his hand again, though this time not to help him up, just for a handshake. Marth took it.

"Nice to meet you. I'm Ike."

"Ike?" No way.

"Yes." He waited. When Marth just continued to stare at him without speaking he prompted, "And you are?"

"Marth."

"Marth. How lovely to meet you."

Oh God, this man was gorgeous. He was about to strike up a conversation when he remembered saying, "I suppose this guy's straight…" and then the response "…Yeah."

"Pleasure. Well, see you then."

"See you round." He was gone in a moment, jogging easily off down the path. Fit.

*

"I ACCEPT!" Marth yelled, running into Zelda and Link's shared office.

"Yes, that'll be lovely. If you could just drop that off tomorrow that'd be great. Thanks. Bye." Zelda hung up the phone. "Accept what?"

"I'll do it!"

"Do what?"

"You know, the dare."

"Oh. That!"

"Yeah." Marth looked down at his feet.

"Why the change of heart?"

Marth's eyes flickered over the desk, not wanting to explain himself, and then suddenly saw a picture of Ike on Zelda's desk, stripped to the waist in his Lycra shorts, just like Marth had seen him. His eyes widened in interest. Suddenly Zelda caught his gaze, and with a guilty look quickly snapped it up and slid it into a drawer. Then she looked up and smiled.

"Bumped into him when he was running, did you?"

Marth looked down at his feet. "Yeah."

"Well that's great!" She leapt to her feet and clasped one of his hands in both her own and shook it vigorously. "Thank you!"

"This really will be the last time I do a dare for you."

Zelda laughed. "Yeah, yeah. So you'll be wearing a dress, I take it?"

"Probably not," Marth muttered even quieter. But if this Ike was straight, then his only chance of seducing him probably involved looking as feminine as possible. He sighed, missing the first part of Zelda's sentence.

"…join the gym."

"What?"

"Ike's a marathon runner, in case you haven't worked it out. You're most likely to bump into him at the gym."

Pictures of himself in a mirror after exercise flashed before his eyes. Red faced, gasping through his open mouth, sweat running in trickles down his forehead. He shuddered involuntarily.

"Never knew you were such a fan of exercise," remarked Zelda sarcastically, noticing his quickly paling face. Laughing, she struck a pose leaning against the desk behind her, flattering her own, perfect figure as a taunt.

"Well if you want to know Ike…" she trailed off playfully.

Through gritted teeth he muttered back. "Fine. I'll join the gym."

There was a long, meaningful silence, then Zelda popped in brightly, "Great! Because I've already got you membership!" She handed him a slip of paper, and without a word he took it and left the office, only checking when he was outside the date it had been signed, and finding that she had signed him up for it even before he had even been informed of the dare. He hurried home, clutching desperately at the remains of his dignity.


How will Marth fair at the gym I wonder? Please review :)