Link couldn't believe how lucky he was. Not only did he have an amazing dancing carer but he also had the best girlfriend any guy could have.
It was late and Link was just pulling in to the drive way of his family's town house. After the show he had taken Tracy, Penny and Seaweed out for dinner his treat. They had spent the time down the local dinner having a great time and getting the chance to act like the teenagers they where. Seaweed and link had become firm friends and link had asked Tracy to be his girlfriend, to which she had replied yes on one condition and that was that he come round her house once a week for dinner.
As link opened the front door of his home with his school bag chucked over his shoulder, he couldn't help but smile at how wonderful his life was. After dumping his bag down by the coat pegs in the hallway, link tossed his car keys in the tray on the side board and looked around. The house was cleaner than when he had left for the studio that morning, which meant that his older sister was home from collage for the weekend. The lights of the hallway and the kitchen were on and link could hear the kettle whistling away on the stove top. Hoping to god that the person waiting up for him wasn't his father link headed into the kitchen.
When he saw his sister Jean pouring her and him a hot cup of drinking chocolate link relaxed; Taking off his tux jacket he threw in on to one of the kitchen table chairs and sat down at the table. His sister didn't say a word as she walked over to him and placed a steaming mug of hot chocolate in front of him with a small bowl of his favourite marshmallows on the side. She then turned back to the stove and picked up her own mug before carrying it to the table and taking a seat next to him.
'I saw what you did on the show, mum would be proud of you' she told him as he placed marshmallows in his drink. Link looked at her with a smile on his face.
'Trace is the one who inspired me to do it, after all she's the one who went and marched with the rest of seaweed's family and friends, she didn't care if it meant she would never dance on telly again, all she cared about was doing what's right'
'She sounds like an amazing girl'
'Well then in the words of our, oh so clever mother don't mess this one up for she's a keeper linky boy' link gave a small smile at the nickname.
'Jean sometimes I wonder if you are channelling ma's sprit or if you where just born weird' link's sister smiled and ruffed his hair. Out of everyone in his life friends included his sister Jean had to be the only one apart from their late mother who he would allow to mess up his hair. Smiling at his sister's antics link picked up his mug and took a drink. His sister's special hot chocolate smoothing his throat and warming him up from the chilly night out side. When he had put his mug down link looked his sister over. She was dressed in an old pair of flannel PJ bottoms that had once belonged to their father and an old nightdress that only just came to her bottom, over that she had her bright pink bath robe. Her long nutty brown hair was up in a high pony tail away from her face, and her glasses sat on the edge of her nose about ready to fall off. It was the same way she had looked since link was little; to link it was a sign of comfort.
When Jean looked over at him she saw him watching her and crossed her eyes making him laugh. It wasn't long before Jean was laughing right along with him; in fact she was laughing so hard she would let out a small snort every now and again, which only made link laugh harder.
When link and Jean had finally calmed down Jean asked link the question he had been waiting for.
'So this Tracy girl, what is she to you?' link smiled and took another sip of his hot chocolate.
'Well' he said when he had finished his drink 'she's now my girlfriend, but she's so much more than that, honestly Jean I think she might just be my soul mate'
'Ahh my little bro's in love' jean said as she took both of the mugs to the sink. 'So you got up the nerve to dump Amber then?'
'Yep' link said getting up and heading to the biscuit barrel 'I dumped Amber the day of the march' link opened the barrel and found his sister's home made oat and raisin cookies inside. They where his favourite, and deciding to be greedy link took out 3 of them before putting the lid back on and sitting back at the table. After she had washed the mugs up jean sat down next to him again and nicked his last cookie. Link tried to nick it back but Jean was too quick for him. In between mouthfuls of biscuits Jean asked him.
'So what about this seaweed bloke and the rest of the black people, any cute guys I might like?'
Link laughed and said 'are you determine to get dad to kill you, it's bad enough that he kicked you out for having a gay friend let alone going out with some black dude'
'hey I'll have you know that dad didn't kick me out I moved out thank you very much and who said anything about me dating some black guy I was thinking about just being friends, I have enough guys in my life with you, dad and TJ'
'Yea sure Jean' link said in a sign song voice, link noticed the small smirk on Jean's face and bolted out of the kitchen with Jean chasing him. Link ran all though the house before being cornered in the kitchen. As soon as she had him cornered Jean launched a tickle attack witch soon had link rolling around on the floor laughing till he couldn't breath.
'Uncle, uncle' he cried and Jean stopped. She waited for him to get his breath back before giving him a hand up. Jean jumped up and sat on the kitchen counter while link sat on the kitchen table.
'So how long you back from collage then' link asked with a slightly nervous voice. Jean was almost 21 and had been at collage since she was 18 studying business management and dance on the side. She had been kicked out by their father once she was 18 and it was found out that one of her male mates was gay. Their father hadn't liked it when he had ordered Jean to stay away only to find Jean inviting said guy over when ever she could. But knowing that if she didn't stay link would most likely end up going with out food most nights Jean had moved into a boarding home half way between the collage and the family home. Every Friday night she would come home and help link tidy up the house, do the laundry and teach link how to cook; and before she would head off each Sunday she would cook a week's worth of meals and freeze them for link so all he had to do was warm them up in the oven.
'Forever little bro, I had my last exam today and I'm pretty sure I passed'
'that's brilliant Jean, but what about dad you know he won't let you back into the house while you still hang out with that group of friends of yours'
'I know' she said jumping down from the kitchen counter 'that's why I stayed up late to talk to you, how would you feel about moving in with me into a house near the studio?'
Link just stared at his sister was this a joke because he wasn't laughing if it was. All he had dreamed about since Jean had left was of one day moving out and going to live with her or buying his own flat; Anything to get away from their father.
'Do you really need to ask Jean' link laughed. He could tell from her stance and the look in her eye that Jean wasn't joking. Jean laughed too before walking over and pulling link in to a hug. When she stepped back she told him
'it won't be for a month yet but corny called me at my place earlier, he caught me just before I headed over here, it turns out that after Mrs Von Tussle was fired she was also arrest by the police for fraud and also for embezzlement, turns out she was stealing from the show. So now they need a new station manger and corny remembered you saying about me doing business management in collage and he talked to the rest of the staff and they agreed to give me a chance, with the money from the job and the money mum left me I can easily buy a house big enough for just me and you and we can both finally move on with our lives, with out having to look over our shoulders all the time'
By this time link had tears streaming down his face it was like all his Christmas' had come at once. First he gets the girl of his dreams then he makes a friend who link could tell would soon be the best mate he had ever hand; add that that the fact that his sister was home for good and was now offering him a way out of the family home; and it was no surprise that link was sitting on the kitchen table with tears in his eyes. Link thought nothing could ruin this moment, and then his father came home.
'link get you ass down here boy' link heard his father call, as quick as a flash link jumped off the table and wiped his eyes before heading into the hallway to see what his father wanted. From the kitchen door way link could see that like every night his and Jean's father was drunk. He could smell the alcohol from the doorway. When link's father saw him he called link over again. Link didn't want to go to his father but he knew what would happen if he didn't do as he was told. As soon as link was in front of him link's father punched link in the gut. Link doubled over in pain and dropped to his knees. Link raised his head to look at his father when his father's fist collided with link's nose. Link was sure you could hear the crack as his nose broke on the other side of the street. Closing his eyes link waited for the next blow but it didn't come. Some how Jean had got to their father in time to stop the next blow from hitting link but not in time to stop their father's fist from hitting something. That something was Jean's chest.
Jean was taller than both link and their father; she could also defend herself which was why their father had only ever picked on link and only when Jean wasn't around to see it. Jean grasped their father's hand and used it to twist his arm round behind his back and into an arm lock. Jean then proceeded to lead their father up the stairs to the master bedroom before pushing him inside and closing and locking the bedroom door. Link could hear their father pounding on the door demanding to be let out. But link watched as jean just went in to the spare room and packed her things before heading into link's room and packing what link would need for a couple of nights.
She then carried the bags down stairs and out to her car, before coming back in and helping link out of the house and down to the car. Once settled in the front seat link watched his sister head back into the house, then 5 minutes later she came out with link's car keys, his jacket and his school bag. She closed and locked the door before walking back to her car. Once in her car Jean handed link the last of his things before staring the car and pulling out on to the road.
'Jean what's… what are you doing?' link asked when they where a fair distance from the house. He watched as Jean took a deep breath and said
'Link why didn't you tell me that dad was beating you?'
Link turned to look out of the passenger side window. He didn't answer his sister's question. Not because he couldn't but because he was ashamed. He could stand up for the rights of another and he could stand up for someone at school when they got bullied but he couldn't stand up to his bully of a father. 5 minutes later link answered his sister's question.
'he only does it when your not there and when he's had a bad day at work, for the past 2 months he hasn't laid a finger on me in fact he's been nice to be around. I know you have your own life and I really didn't want you to burden your self with my well being, a few more years and I would be out of there and I would be free'
'Still link you should of told me, why ya think I took self defence classes from my male mates'
Link looked at his sister could she have gone though the same thing. Then something in link's head clicked. When they where kids and their mother was still alive every now and again link had noticed that their mum and Jean had cuts and bruises. They had always told him it was because they had fallen over, or had bumped into something. When their mum had died link had noticed that ever now and again Jean would have cuts and bruises on her face or she would stand up during dinner instead of sitting down with him. Then one day Jean's cuts and bruises had vanished and no new ones appeared. That was about the time that jean had started going out after school and link had started on the corny Collins show.
Now the cut's and busies all made sense. Their father had beaten their mum and jean, and when mum had died he had started getting even rougher with Jean. But when Jean had learnt to defend herself their father had obviously realised that he would have to change targets and had started on link.
'I just can't believe I didn't see it. I thought once mum died and I could defend my self dad would stop, after all you where the apple of his eye. Back when mum was alive he wouldn't have so much as raised a finger to you. But me and mum well that was different. I should of notice I should have realised that he had started to beat you, I'm so sorry link'
'Hey it's not your fault after all you have to balance collage, a job and a lot of other things. Not to mention the fact that you shouldn't have to bail me out every time I'm in trouble'
'That's not the point link I… I couldn't stop dad from beating mum and she died because of it, I don't kink I could handle losing you when I could of done something about it'
'What do you mean?' link asked 'mum died of a heart attack during the night not because dad beat her'
'Actually she had the heart attack because dad was beating her. He tried to rape mum and that scared her enough to cause her to have a heart attack. When he was done dad just walked out of the room, if he had looked at her face he would have seen that she was having trouble breathing. Instead he just left her there and went out drinking. She died a little while later. The next day I vowed I would never let dad lay a finger on you'
Jean stopped the car and link noticed that they where at the boarding house where Jean lived. Link got his bags from the boot and followed Jean up the stairs to her small room. When they arrived Jean let them in before dumping her things by her bed. Link walked over to her bed and dumped his bags next to her's before dropping on to her bed. Jean told him she would be back in a minute she just had to tell her land lady that she had link staying and get some things to take care of the bruises she was sure where hurting link. Link just nodded and asked if he could use her phone. Jean nodded and told him to press 9 for an out side line.
Once his sister was out of the room link dug into his pocket for the napkin that was in there. On it was Tracy's phone number; she had written it down and given it to him just before he had driven her home. Now he was glad for it. Smoothing the napkin out link picked up the phone and pressed nine then he dialled the number. It wasn't long before the phone on the other end was picked up.
'Turnblad home can I help you?'
'Hi Mr Turnblad its link Larkin can I talk to Tracy please?'
'Sure link and call me Wilbur ok'
'Mmm ok can I talk to Tracy Please?'
'Yep one second' link could hear Mr Turnblad calling Tracy, and from what he could hear Tracy had been in her room with her records playing. After a few minutes Tracy was on the phone.
'Hi link I didn't expect you to call this soon'
'Hi baby, I know but I need to ask you something?'
'If me and my sister pick you up tomorrow can you come and help be pick up all my things from my dad's house?'
'Sure link but why?'
'I'm moving in with my sister and well my dad's a bit on the physical side, if you get what I mean doll?'
'I get it link but why didn't you tell anyone?'
'Because he's my father and until now I didn't have anywhere else to go if I left home'
'Oh linky baby, what time do you want to head to your dad's house?
'Well we'll pick you up about 9:30 ok; dad will have left for work by then'
'Ok and link?'
'Be careful please I don't want anything to happen to you'
'Don't worry about me trace I'll be fine, love you'
'Love you too' Tracy said before putting the phone down. Link placed the phone down on his side and sighed. Tracy's voice had helped link, it had clamed him and reassured him, in ways Amber's voice had never done. Luckily for link that Friday had been the start of the summer holidays so he wouldn't have to explain his bruises to his friends at school or to corny as the show was on summer break. Letting a little smile come to his face at the thought of the worried expression Tracy most likely had on her face link sat back on his sister's bed. Tracy looked so cute when she was worried, and link knew that he would do what ever he could to make sure she never had to worry again.
At that moment his sister arrived back with a small first aid box in one had and her land lady following behind her. For the next 2 hours link sat on Jean's bed as Jean and her land lady patched him up and decided what was going to happen. As it turned out link only heard half of the conversation as he passed out after his wounds had been seen too and he didn't wake up till the next morning.
The next day link lead Tracy in to his childhood home, but what they found was a big mess. From the looks of it after he and Jean had left the other night their father had gone on a rampage through the house and had destroyed everything he could get his hands on. What sadden link the most was that on the floor ripped up lay one of the only photos of his family during happy times. When his dad didn't hit them and when their mum was still around. Link had only been a baby at that time but he still remembered the day's when the only thing he had to worry about was trying to remember to use the potty and not his diaper.
For the rest of the day link, Tracy and Jean packed up all of link's things and any of Jeans's which she hadn't remembered in the rush they had left last night. It didn't take long and just after lunch they where done. Jean drove the rest of link's stuff to her room before joining link and Tracy at the local diner. Earlier Jean had gone to see the people at the studio and had accepted the job. She had also told them what had happened and asked if she could start straight away so she could move herself and link into a real house as soon as possible. They had agreed and Jean was due to start today after lunch. So link needed to think of what to do to kill the rest of the time.
Tracy had offered to help him unpack back at his sister's place but link had nipped that idea in the bud when he had told Tracy that his sister lived in a boarding house at the moment. After lunch Jean headed off to work leaving link and Tracy at the diner. Link had his car so they could go any where but the fact was link had no clue where to go. Then all of a sudden Tracy jumped up from her seat and said
'I know lets go for a picnic with Penny and Seaweed. I'm sure me mama would make us up a quick picnic, and we could spend the day at the park'
Link stood up and kissed Tracy. She was amazing it was just the sort of thing they could do which would give them time to get to know one another better and spend time with friends. Jumping in to his car link drove Tracy home so she could ask her mum to help her make up a picnic for 4 people and link drove on to Penny's house to pick up Penny. When he got there he was told by Mrs Pingleton that Penny hadn't returned home the other night. Thinking about where she could be link said goodbye to Mrs Pingleton and headed to Seaweed's home where he found not only Seaweed but Penny too.
When he invited them to the picnic they both said yes right away, motor mouth may bell over heard them and told them if they wait 5 minutes she would make them up a picnic basket to take with them. Even though link told her Tracy was bringing the food may bell still made them up a basket of food saying if she knew her son he would eat until he burst; Link and Penny laughed at that while Seaweed muttered something about embarrassing mums.
Half an hour later and link was laying on a blanket in the park full and with Tracy's head on his chest while Seaweed lay next to link with Penny's head on his chest. Maybe link thought as he lay there. Maybe things are about to get better. Little did link know just how right he was!
Two weeks after he had moved out Link and Jean's father had been arrested for being drunk and disorderly and for manslaughter after killing another drunk over a can of beer. As their father was now in jail Jean got guardianship of Link and became owner of their childhood home.
A year and a half after that night Link finished high school and was straight away given a big part in a movie in Hollywood. After several months, link moved down to Hollywood so he could be closer to the set, but every weekend he would return home to Baltimore and Tracy.
2 years after that night link got down on one knee and asked for Tracy's hand. Tracy said yes in a heartbeat, and 6 months later she was Mrs Tracy Larkin. Tracy moved down to Hollywood with link but she was often known to turn up on her parent's door step when link had to go out of the country for a movie.
4 years later and Link and Tracy celebrated the birth of their first child as well as the marriage of Jean to Tracy's cousin Zack, and the marriage of Penny to Seaweed. Both link and Tracy decided to move back to Baltimore to be near family.
7 years later and both Link and Jean got the news that their father had been in a car accident and he hadn't survived. Link and Jean went to pay their last respects, but all through the service Link couldn't help but think he was lucky that Tracy had come in to his life and mixed it up when she did, because if she hadn't he may not of been here today.
70 years later and Link was sitting in the same church attending his sister's funeral. Jean had lived a long and fruitful life and was leaving behind 6 children and 14 grandchildren plus 3 great grandchildren. As well as enough money to take care of all of them.
90 years after that night that had changed link's life, Link lay in his bed with Tracy cuddled up to his side and his dog Sammy laying across his feet. It had been a long 90 years but Link wouldn't change a moment of it for all the money and all the power in the world. Turning his head to the side link looked at the picture that sat pride of place on his bed side table. In the picture it showed him and Tracy with their 4 daughters Grace, Hope, Linda and Ann. It also showed their six sons Sam, Robert, James, Daniel, TJ and Nick. It also showed all of link's son and daughter in laws; as well as his many, many grandchildren and great grandchildren.
'Link what's the matter' Tracy asked him noticing that had been yet to fall asleep. Link turned to her, even at the age of 107 Tracy still looked as beautiful to link as the day he had meet her.
'Noting doll I was just thinking it's been 90 years since that night, 90 years since the pageant that changed both our lives, and you know what?' Tracy shook her head and link smiled 'I wouldn't change one moment of it for anything in the world'. Tracy smiled at link and laid her head on his chest just like she had done that day in the park.
Link lay there for a little while longer thinking back to all the fun times he had on the corny Collins show. While he was remembering Link drifted into a peaceful dream, one where he was 17 again and was dancing with Tracy on the show. And what's more every one from his mum to Seaweed who had died just months before where there. The music was playing and link never wanted to leave. And he never did.
The next day there was an announcement on the telly that Link Larkin and Tracy Larkin had passed away in their sleep the night before. On that day in a hospital in Baltimore a young mother was holding her new baby boy.
'What you going to call him?' the nurse asked her. The young woman looked down at the baby in her arms and took in the black hair with its little curl; she took in her son's pale blue eyes. Before turning to the nurse and saying
'Link, his name is going to be Link Larkin Jr' and above in heaven a very proud great grandfather smiled.