A/N: This was just a short piece (huh... it is short, isn't it... I like how FFN tells you just how many words it is in the document editor, and I'm seeing less than

2000... *slaps self on wrist*) I wrote for a contest on DeviantArt. The contest ended today, I guess judging will be going on for maybe a week or two? I'm the only fanfic writer, and up until yesterday I thought I might win... and then this person submits an absolutely phenomenal piece of artwork. *Siiigh*... Well, anyway, Vio and Shadow (not my usual fare, but hey- always nice to try new things~

Countdown- a Vio x Shadow oneshot

"Ten!"

For a New Year's Eve party, this seemed rather over-rated.

At least, that was Vio's opinion.

He'd only agreed because Princess Zelda had practically begged him to come, along with the other four Links- she had promised that it would only be a small gathering of maybe ten to fifteen people. And up until about 11:30 at night, it had been. But word had gotten out, and spread, and soon there were a few more people in the room, then a couple more, then it was being moved to the grand reception hall where there were already long tables filled with snack foods and drinks and desserts, and somehow Vio knew he'd gotten conned into attending one of Zelda's infamous holiday bashes.

This was no problem for the others, of course- they loved the attention. Red especially- he was always most comfortable with their fans, and at the first sight of them had gone to implant himself firmly in their midst. Blue had followed- Blue rarely let Red get further than ten feet away from him nowadays, and Green had stayed protectively by Zelda's side.

And Shadow?

Shadow…..

Vio's brain strayed away from the thought of the crimson-eyed shadow teen every time he popped into his head.

"Nine!"

All Vio had wanted was a quiet night at home to sit and finish his book (and definitely not to think of Shadow) but Green had insisted, saying that he stayed at home far too often and needed to get out more. Red had given him those damned puppy-dog eyes he was so good at, and Blue had just snorted and turned away with a muttered "What a wimp."

Of course that had gone over well. After the ensuing …discussion… Vio had changed silently in his room- ignoring the single black tunic hanging all the way in the back of his closet as he pulled out a dress shirt and pants. The only thing he had been able to find of Shadow's had been that tunic, and he couldn't even bear to look at it anymore…

Like Blue said, what a wimp.

"Eight!"

The walk to the castle was not unpleasant in and of itself- while the night was colder than strictly comfortable, a fresh coat of snow coated every available surface and gave a nearly ethereal feel to it. Vio stayed ahead of the other four (three, he had to harshly remind himself, only three), ignoring Red's excited chatter and Blue's muttered side comments, ignoring his green counterpart's attempts to mediate between the two when Blue began yelling… desperately ignoring the lack of sound beside him, the absence of black-booted feet sending chunks of frozen snow skittering off every which way, the warm arm that wasn't hooked in his, trying to tug him off the well-trodden path and push him teasingly into the snow…

No.

He was not going to think of Shadow.

"Seven!"

It had been easy the first hour or so, with just the five of them sitting in the small warm reception room in one of the castle turrets, positioned perfectly to see the fireworks of the new year go off over the town. Red had stood at each window, trying to decide which would provide the best angle to see the colored lights, with an indulgent Green suggesting one over the other in between his conversation with Zelda, and a strangely calm Blue sitting in a window seat and staring out over the rooftops. Vio added small comments every now and then when either Green or Zelda turned to him briefly, but mostly sat back in his comfortable chair, watching the flames in the nearby fireplace slowly shrink in size and intensity.

Shadow had always liked fire.

His rooms in the Dark World (Vio was all-too-familiar with them) had always had at least one fireplace with flames crackling merrily away in each, and he had spent many days (and nights, his brain stubbornly reminded him) sprawled lazily in front of one, lounging on one of the blood-red carpets with a book in hand. Contrary to the other three Links' beliefs, he had been perfectly content there- there were things to read, and plenty to eat- and if the rest of the company was a little lacking Shadow far more than made up for it…

He didn't like the way Green was eyeing him now.

"Six!"

The move from the turret room had been gradual enough that Vio hadn't really noticed when it happened- had it begun with a suggestion from Zelda to go and get more hot cocoa? Or had it been Red, insistently trying to get the best view possible? Either way they'd descended from one room to another, each filled with a few more people than the last, Zelda making introductions and ushering the four around until Vio came up to her and tapped her on the shoulder with a frown.

"I thought you had said this was going to be nothing but a small party between friends," he had half-asked, half-stated, and Zelda had giggled.

"Oh, Vio- this is a small party! There can't be more than fifty people here, and they're my friends, too~" She chided briefly, before turning to meet and greet another few people with a well-practiced smile.

Leaving Vio alone.

Alone… That hadn't been anything he'd had to worry about before leaving the Dark World… Before leaving Shadow… They had always been together then, Shadow's hand resting on his shoulder or hip, arm curving around his waist, elbows linked as they walked from place to place… Not even alone at night, that tanned toned body pressed tightly, yet innocently, against his, hands and fingers and arms and legs all intertwined until neither could tell where they left off and the other began… and both had loved it that way.

Both had loved each other.

Had.

"Five!"

Vio had escaped the noise and chatter and press of crowd, trying to find his way back to the small and comfortable room, but stopped dead in the midst of the deserted hallway when he heard voices.

"-d-don't know what y-you-"

"Sshhh~ relax~"

It sounded almost like…Red…and Blue… but Blue sounded so nervous, and Red so… not.

Vio peered around the corner to a most unexpected sight- Red backing a nervous-looking Blue into a wall- a string of mistletoe swinging above their heads.

"C'mon, Blue~" Red's innocent voice giggled. "It's a party- we're supposed to 'let loose,' show our 'wild sides~' That's what you told me, anyway~!"

"Red…." Blue mumbled, and even in the faint moonlight Vio could see the blush on his cheeks. "I…. didn't mean… l-like this…."

"But it's mistletoe, Blue~! You have to kiss under mistletoe…." Red's voice grew softer, steps smaller as Blue's back pressed into a wall and Red pressed up against him, blushing himself.

"I…." But Blue didn't say anything more- arms curling to grip Red's elbows and keep him there as Red rose to his tiptoes, upturned face expectant and hopeful, and now Blue was leaning downward, face shadowed enough that Vio couldn't see what he was thinking and he didn't want to see-

He turned away and fled the opposite way.

"Four!"

He'd run as fast as he could up the spiraling corridors and stairwells, only pausing to take a deep gasping breath about halfway up, unable to get what he'd seen out of his head- Blue hated Red! Hated him! But he- they- it wasn't fair!

Why should they get a happy ending, when it was all he'd wanted for himself and Shadow?

"Three!"

It was his fault the shadow teen was no longer by his side- he had been the one to betray his lover- he had been the one who had tried to break the source of Shadow's power, his very lifeforce- and the look in his eyes when he discovered the betrayal was enough to break Vio's heart all over again each and every time he thought about it.

"Two!"

And Shadow had dissolved into the light- the light that he'd always shied away from, the light that he avoided deep in his rooms within the Dark World- the light that he'd said he could taste each time he kissed Vio, to which Vio had replied with a snort and shut him up for a while.

"One!"

But nobody else had seen the look in his eyes at that last moment before he'd disappeared- the brief glance at Vio filled with every emotion possible- desire, longing, anxiety, regret, anger, fear… and love.

Vio missed his love.

He reached the turret room as the crowd below spilled out into the courtyard, screaming and shouting some sort of countdown to the frozen night air. It was impossible now to keep those errant thoughts and feelings locked inside- he was alone, alone!- and nobody else would see.

He whispered the words he'd kept locked inside of him for what felt like ages-

"I'm sorry, Shadow… I love you…."

The gates of his mind opened.

A thousand kisses, touches, tender whispers fell like blows upon him- he bowed under the onslaught, gripping the windowsill tighter and tighter. A thousand smiles, laughs, hugs- his shoulders hunched as he imagined the feel of Shadow's arms wrapping around him once more. A hundred days of waking up to that mischievous grin, a hundred nights of falling asleep in that warm embrace, innumerable casual bumps and jostles accompanied by that low, husky chuckle- the one that echoed in his ear right now as those soft- yet rough and calloused- hands slid down his arms to twine fingers with him again, the taller body pressing against him as Vio tilted his head back once more into that broad shoulder, a single tear slipping down his cheek, and being brushed away by a hand not his own.

Oh, how he'd ached for that touch.

"Happy New Year!" The crowd shouted below, and Vio opened his eyes. Was it the sky that was filled with fireworks, or was it just his mind nearly exploding with happiness? The touches from behind him were real- he could see the locks of violet hair out of the corner of his eye, feel every breath the person behind him let out against his oversensitive earlobe, smell that rich warm scent that had been lacking from his life for far too long.

He didn't understand what had happened- how Shadow had come back to him- but he wasn't going to complain. There would be time enough for questions later.

For now, it was enough to stand at the window in the arms of his love, not alone.

"Happy New Year, Shadow," Vio whispered, and the teeth molesting the tip of his ear loosened enough so the mouth they belonged to could slide further down to Vio's own lips and murmur against them-

"Happy New Year, Vio my love…"