Summary: After Link receives the years stolen from him, he suffers the loneliness and restlessness peace has wrought, struggling to contain the pain memories bring.

I'm proud of myself. I had been meaning to write Shink but didn't know where to start. But once I got the first sentence down, everything just flowed :D Mind that it's influenced by other fanfiction as I have never even played the game. And that's sad.

Anyways, I've taken liberties with this. Firstly, Sheik and Zelda are two separate people. Yes, yes, it defies canon, but it's fanfiction, dearies. Let the fangirls remain deluded. Secondly, I racked my brain for a reason why Zelda would hide Sheik, and this was what the brain farts gave me. I can't think of anything else creative. Please don't hurt me. Thirdly, I know Sheik only appears for a short amount of time in the games (sad, I tell you) but I've made him and Link friends in this fic...and maybe something a bit more. Haha!

Thank you to henslight for correcting my mistakes :)

Dedicated to all those yaoi fangirls. Ladies, enjoy.

Red Eyes

Sometimes the wandering catches up on Link, and it takes a while to remember what home feels likes. The Forest was where it all started. Link remembers the feel of his scratchy quilt, of dew-misted mornings and his playmates' laughter. Saria teaching him how to play songs on the ocarina, her voice a soothing balm to the aching loneliness. Of carefree days and watching the clouds go by. This was his childhood, and nothing has changed.

Nothing and nobody remembers the time that was and never will be. Even Link only remembers fleeting memories by now. As the days wears on, his mind is diluted of his thoughts and memories in the time that was. And still, he continues to cling on, reminding himself desperately of red eyes, red eyes but seconds later, he forgets the meaning and puzzles over the mantra the rest of the day.

Some days they come clear and pure. Other days he only vaguely remembers them with a dream-like quality. A few years pass and still, Link is a child. But the gait in his walk and the sharpness of his gaze says he is clearly not. There is something weary about his aura, and it takes a while before he realizes that he is yearning and lonely and sad.

Red eyes. Red eyes.

But what about red eyes?

On a particular day where he wakes up haunted by nightmares of that final battle, Link decides to pay the princess a visit, to say his goodbyes. The world is starting to be too small for the likes of him. And though his body is still a child's he has years of experience under his belt. He has killed before, and it will be easy to do so again. He knows the best way to stab or neatly cut down an enemy. He knows particular pressure points in the body that can render opponents useless. Sheik taught him that and—

Sheik. Who is Sheik? The name slips from his fingers like sand. Desert sand. The imagery reminds him of the smell of salt and a certain musk as his nose skims caramel-colored skin. Blonde hair and fiery eyes cloaked in blue and wound in bandages—

The thoughts cease as the princess appears, startling him. By instinct, he whirls and grips his dagger in a defensive position. Impa is not impressed and plucks the small weapon from his fingers.

"Why did you wait this long to visit?" Zelda asks.

Link shrugs off Impa's paranoia. Like he would ever want to hurt the princess. He explains the feeling of freedom now that he is not pressed for time anymore. And also, a sense of loss. Without any agenda on his list, he is uncertain and fidgety. Wide open spaces beckon to him, and his misses his horse Epona dearly. He misses the proud crackle of a campfire and falling asleep under a new view of the stars. He misses traveling on foot and following the sunset, of monsters and dangers that lurk in the dark. Of helpful shadows that guide and heal after every maze—temples, his mind corrects, and he is confused again.

Zelda's deceit has scarred him deeply, more than he can tell her. Link had known, deep in his heart, that Ganondorf would fall by his hands. It is written in destiny, and the three goddesses Din, Nayru and Farore had deemed it so. There were momentary lapses in his faith during the fight, but he had told himself to stand up and fight for all the lives lost in his mad quest for power.

And when the battle was done, Link had turned around and expected his 'helpful shadow' to appear like he usually did, but there was only Zelda, weak, pampered, Princess Zelda. And the smile on his face dies as the truth sinks in like ink.

He doesn't stop her when she turns back the time. He is too numb to move.

But he can't help the niggling feeling at the back of his head. Intellectually, he has come to accept the truth that there never was a Sheik, and never will be. But his heart struggles to accept that fact, whispering things like fool, you're a fool to believe that, that the guide whom he had come to trust as a friend was existent, that his touch was tangible, the red, red eyes ever burning. His mind may forget, but his heart and soul still yearn, and it shows in Link's eyes.

Then he reminds himself that Zelda knows magic, and the magic made Sheik. And he ignores his heart and soul when they protest and tell him that her gaze and bearing are all too different, that Sheik smiles through his eyes and Zelda doesn't, and…and…

He is a fool. Sheik is not real.

Now he is telling his princess goodbye, because memories are painful on the days they come and he simply can't stand it. Zelda, for all her infinite Wisdom, believes that it is simply his sense of adventure yearning for open air. Link doesn't tell her that he still hates her for fabricating living breathing lies. Because, in a sense, she has taken away his friend.

Link doesn't come home for a long time. But it's not home anymore. Home should never feel that empty.

And yet he craves the familiarity of it. He craves Hylian skies and Kokiri grass. He goes off to greet Zelda, a shapely, dignified young woman now. He too has changed, and yet not. Once again, he is in the body of the man he had been. Now, his hands are large enough to contain his soul. His eyes have lost most of its intensity, mellowed down to a calm cobalt. The blue depths almost seem sad. Link is still haunted by the past, still dreams about red eyes, red eyes, but the yearning is receding, and so is the power of the memories. Eventually, his mind discards the memory of Zelda's deceit. He can forgive her now, because it is far too tiring to hold grudges.

It's foolish to be heartbroken over a reality that never was, but Link bears the Triforce of Courage, not Wisdom.

They talk like old friends do. Like it or not, they are bound by the Triforce, old souls in new bodies, and no matter the lifetime, there will always be a degree of comfort to their relationship. Because different as they are, only they know the pain of wielding the Goddess's gifts.

A knock on the door, and a servant announces something. Link doesn't pay attention, drawn to the intricate patterns of the rug. That odd feeling has returned, and he clutches his chest as his heart cries out. Still, he chastises it. Now is not the time.

"Your Highness." They greet her. The voice freezes Link's blood in his veins, and his heart doubles over. The young man in front of him is clad in blue and bandages. As he retracts his bow, Link's gaze locks with his, and they both stare.

Red eyes, a voice in Link's mind reminds him. Oddly enough, it sounds like Navi's voice. A momentary pang in his chest—oh, Navi…

Something passes between them—static, the dawning of realization, two pairs of eyes meeting after an indiscernible amount of time. Finally, Link breaks the gaze and glances at Her Majesty, and Zelda's face tells him all he needs to know. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry…

The young man's mouth begins to move, startling them out of their silence. His tone is reverent and familiar. "Time passes, people move…Like a river's flow, it never ends…" His fingers twitch infinitesimally. "A childish mind will turn into noble ambition…"

Link continues, a smile crinkling his eyes, joyous shock overcoming any other emotion. "Young love will become deep affection…The clear water's surface reflects growth."

The excited tension twines with the silence, and Link hears his heartbeat in his ears, counting the moments.

"…Link." The youth murmurs.

The Hero of Time holds out a hand. "Hello, Sheik."

And Zelda watches and Zelda smiles, and nobody knows if her tears are happy tears or not, because Link's eyes are alive again, and she hates herself for not realizing sooner, for not rectifying the mistakes in the time that never was.

Link is angry and shocked and relieved and hurt, and he rages for quite a while, but Zelda pets his hair and Sheik holds him when he crumples to the floor in defeat. The princess tells him the truth in a soothing voice, that Sheik had died saving her, his duty still unfinished. He told her with his last breath of how the Hero would dearly miss him and would she please tell him make him forget, because he is a Sheikah warrior, and Link is the Hero of Time, and they had both failed to stay within bounds. Zelda wept and grieved and he made her promise.

The Hero stills and slumps into Sheik's arms, familiar and alien at the same time. He doesn't know what to feel, so he anchors himself in the comfort of Sheik's presence. Zelda kisses them both, chaste kisses, kisses of friends wishing them well, of a monarch giving her subjects her blessings, and she quietly slips away, feeling the burden lift from her heart.

Later that night, Link and Sheik steal away from the castle into the sight of stars extending beyond the horizon. The Hero pulls his lover down to him and begins the reunion of their bodies, punctuating the air with little sighs and the occasional moan, the air chilling their skin before desire warms it. Link goes slowly, unraveling inch by caramel inch, skimming his nose like before, inhaling the musk that is so Sheik. The Sheikah lying before him watches with such red, red eyes, breathing raggedly and surrendering into submission and Link can't help but growl and capture those lips in a heated kiss.

As they are joined, Sheik's voice wraps around his name in a caress, back rising in a sensual arch. Link digs deeper and binds their souls together, the mark on his hand searing as he finally pushes them to that burst of white light. They cling to each other, and while the world may not know or remember, they do, and that makes all the difference.

Link lays his head on the younger man's chest, listening to the heart beat slow as they both bask into the afterglow. His own heart feels full, full of life and warmth and love and he knows with full conviction that it was Sheik who he had been missing all along. Sheik, who existed, who is tangible and real and warm beneath him…

And Sheik holds his lover tenderly as Link drifts into sleep, humming the songs of a time long gone.

I might have made a few mistakes in the terms since I don't play the game at all, and I'm too lazy to look into zeldapedia. Kindly point that out, if there are any.

Review, dear reader
What did you think?
Did I deliver?
Or did I stink?