A/N: This is a collab with the lovely ProFinEnce (LeahAF on deviantart- you should go check out her stuffs~) that we started because I was on a mad crazy Sheik obsession...well, still am on a mad crazy Sheik obsession... ^^;

*...*

Sheik looked around the edge of the wall to the pedestal in which the Master Sword had stood. It was at any moment that the hero would appear. The gossip stones had told him so.

The gradual background hum of the temple, the combined voices of thousands of spirits of the light continuing to watch over and guard any who entered, suddenly rose in pitch and intensity- the Triforce marks on the Pedestal of Time began to glow with a deep and rich blue light. Moments later a figure materialized in the light- tall and muscular and garbed in green, sword and shield strapped to his back and locks of blond hair framing a face Sheik wasn't able to see- the Hero's back was turned to him.

The Sheikah basked in the appearance of the man that stood before him for only a few moments before putting on a passive face. He smoothed his clothes out to release any wrinkles before silently walking out of his hiding spot. Only when he was a good ten feet away and at the base of the pedestal did he stop and wait for the hero to notice him.

And waited.

And waited...

And yet- the hero simply did not turn- too busy staring at his hands, flexing the gloved fingers in something that appeared to be awe as he reached behind him, unsheathing his sword and swooshing it through the air a few times. "Link! Link!" the blue ball of light beside him cried, zooming up and down and all around him. "You're so big now!"

"..." Sheik waited a few moments with a raised eyebrow before bringing attention to himself. "Hero of Time."

He was bluntly ignored- or perhaps not even heard. "Woaaah!" he replied to the fairy in a rather childlike manner. "Navi- I'm buff!"

"Wow Link!" Navi cried in her high pitched voice- buzzing around him before stopping in front of him. It seemed the fairy was first to notice their guest. "Link- who's that?"

Within a heartbeat the Hero had turned-piercing blue eyes staring into crimson as the Master Sword sliced the air between them- pointing straight at Sheik.

It didn't seem to faze the bystander as he continued to look up into the hero's face, his eyes taking in every detail. "Hero of time," he repeated, just as informatively, and proper as the first as he gave him a small bow.

"Welcome back to Hyrule. For seven years, everyone has awaited your return."

The Hero- "Link," the small fairy had called him- blinked a few times at him, then sheathed his sword when Sheik offered no threat.

"Hyrule has fallen," the red eyed teen explained in a monotone voice, "into the hands of Power."

"..." Link stepped closer, still silent.

"I ask that you help save the land," Sheik finished, his head still bowed politely with his whole frame completely stiff. It was almost painfully aware that he did not want to be here.

He stepped even further, until he was right in Sheik's face- peering into his eyes before grinning widely. "Who're you?"

"..." Taken aback, the stealth blond stepped back and made at least good five foot distance away from him before answering. "I am Sheik of the Sheikah. I am a servant to the Royal Family."

"Sheik ... of the Sheikah?"He cocked his head, following Sheik as if he had no respect for personal boundaries. "That's a funny name. Are you related to Impa?"

Sheik continued to back away, not at all liking this 'aggressive' hero. "She is my care taker. But that is not important- what is important is the safety of Hyrule-"

"Why are you wearing that thing on your face?" Link asked, head tilted at a precarious angle and blue eyes wide and innocent- childlike.

Sheik stopped and narrowed his eyes. "It is a cowl, Hero. It has many purposes."

Silence issued between them and the faint noises of ReDead moans could be heard outside.

The blue-eyed blonde's gaze shot towards the arched marble hallway leading to the outside world. "Weird..." he murmured absentmindedly, focus already drawn elsewhere as booted feet padded their way across the pedestal and down the marble stairs.

The hero was not being at all what he imagined him to be, and that made the shadow warrior step forward and follow the blond hero. "Evil has tainted the land."

He was all but ignored as Link moved faster, steps pounding on the marble floor as he almost ran toward the entryway.

"Link! Wait up!" Navi called, zipping away after him as the Sheikah followed. He didn't stop- and the noises of the ReDeads grew louder as the Hero of Time flung open the doors of the temple. Navi stopped only when she got to Link's shoulder, where she fluttered down and gasped in shock. "Link..."

The acoustics of the hallway was enough that Sheik could catch his single horrified intake of breath-

and horrified he had every right to be. The entire landscape before him was gray and dead, and the smell of smoke hung heavy in the air. Link could see the shells of burned buildings through the limbs of the dead trees that had once stood flourishing- a lovely, peaceful green barrier between the town and the temple proper.

Even the sky was a sickly gray and if he stepped out far enough he would be able to see Death Mountain's angry fumes.

And all around them- but a good few yards around the temples steps, were ReDeads.

Link noticed none of his surroundings however- at the first sight of the ReDeads he let out a shriek and backpedaled, slamming back first into Sheik.

Sheik steadied him silently and with gentle, bandaged hands. "There is no need to fear them."

Link stared back at him in quiet terror, eyes wide and fearful as he pointed outside. "B-but- they're standing right outside!"

The Sheikah rolled his eyes. "That they are, hero." he said sarcastically, losing his polite tone. He had eyes, and he was able to see what the hero was.

"They're not supposed to be there!"he insisted, reaching to shake Sheik a bit.

Sheik stepped away before he could- ending the contact. "Whyever not? The world has fallen to evil."

"This is too close to the town!" Link insisted, eyes wide. "What happened to the people? They'd be terrified!"

"The people have been evacuated years ago to the village."

"..." Link blinked at that, distracted from the sudden ReDead problem. "To Kakariko? But that's all the way across the field and up the stair..."

"It is a haven at the moment," he answered, moving away Link and stepping back a few feet. "I will meet you at the temple hidden in the woods. Though-" he added with amusement. "Every hero needs a stead."

"Wait- you're not going to come with me?" Link looked panicked, following him.

"No, Hero-"

"Why?"

The teen had such good control that his flinch was masked by his cowl and by taking a step backwards. "I am a guide- not a babysitter."

"..." Link looked at him, eyes wide and looking betrayed.

The red-eyed teen didn't acknowledge it as he pulled out a Deku nut and threw it to the marble floor. When it connected, a nearly blinding bright light issued everywhere before dissipating and leaving Link and his fairy alone at the entrance to the temple.

Link cried out and shielded his eyes far too late, spending the next two minutes blinking the spots out of his eyes and the ten after that searching for where the Sheikah could have hidden- ignoring Navi's urgent "Hey!"s and "Listen!'s until he finally slumped down onto the floor, pouting. "Navi- he just left..."

"I know this Link! But we have to go! Come on, get up! We have to find you a horse! You know what that means don't you?" Navi asked, bouncing up in down in the air in front of Link's form.
"I have to go out there with all those ReDeads!"Link whined, burying his head in his arms with his ridiculous green hat scrunched up under them.

"Be a man!" the fairy chided, tinkling in annoyance. "We have to save Hyrule! Just like the Deku Tree wanted!"

"..." His eyes hardened at the mention of the late Deku Tree and he bit his lip, fumbling in the pockets of his tunic for his ocarina.

"What are you doing, Link?" The fairy asked curiously as she landed on his shoulder.

"Remember when I first learned the Sun Song in the graveyard?" He asked her after a moment. "Better hope that still works..."

"That's a great idea Link!"

He beamed at the praise before moving closer to the hallway, flinching slightly as the moans of the ReDeads floated in once more. Link swallowed deeply, willing his hands to stop shaking, and then brought the Ocarina of Time to his mouth.
Six simple notes.

Then six more.

Then another five, and even with the simple melody a hint of sun seemed to sweep forward like fire, stunning the ReDeads and stopping their moans completely.

Navi tingled in satisfaction and darted forward- taking the lead. "Come on Link! Before they come alive again!"

The Hero of Time nodded, and screamed like a girl as he ran through the twisting maze of motionless limbs and putrid, rotting bodies.

"Watch out!"

"Shut up! I see them!"

"Look! The bridge!"

"I see that too, Navi!"

"But Link! It's-"

The warning was too late- Link yelled as he splashed into chest-deep moat water.

Navi fluttered down to Link and tingled with laughter. "Should have listened!"

"Shut up!" He growled again, heaving himself out of the water and shaking himself a bit, almost dog-like. "Stupid fairy," he swatted at her half-heartedly as he moved out into the field.

She dodged it easily with a laugh and darted over to him before lifting the bottom of his cap and fluttering into it. "Lon Lon Ranch, Link!"

"Get out of my hat!" he complained, with a familiar playfulness as he angled towards high stone walls of the ranch.

"No!"

From there they playful bantered back and forth- a boy and his fairy, clad in green clothes like the Kokiri.

*...*

Link entered the ranch with little fuss, the familiar contours of the stone passageway leading inward serving to calm him somewhat. It was still odd, being inside this massive hulking body, and he wasn't sure if he liked it or not- but he sure could swing a sword- and reach things on the top shelf now! And he was definitely stronger-

His thoughts cut off as he came to the inner sections of the ranch. It was quiet and cold-looking, and there were no horses at all roaming around- which was shocking, and not a little bit nerve-wracking. Talon always had the horses out, the pen doors open- always.

Navi fluttered out moments later like she always did when she felt the need to give her opinion. "What are you waiting for? Play Epona's song and let's get out of here!"

"Shush-" he said immediately, spying a tall and lanky figure apparently standing guard at the gates of the massive central pen.

"Here to buy a horse?" a familiar, stubborn looking man (Ingo, his mind helpfully reminded him) with an ugly expression of hate on his face sneered. "Well too bad. Lord Ganondorf is due at any moment."

"!" Link's eyes narrowed at the name. "My money is as good as his," he said coolly, immediately defensive and on guard.

"Ha! You don't even look like you have rupees!" the man exclaimed, waving his hands out in a 'shooing' manner.

Link pulled out his pouch and dumped a red rupee into his hand. "I want a ride."

"Oh ho ho!" the greedy man said, snatching the rupee and stuffing it in his pocket. "You have five minutes and then you're out of here."

He nodded and trotted in, already pulling his ocarina out and putting it to his lips. Moments later a slow but sweet song issued out of it, a waltz with more than a hint of country swing in with it.

Once the song ended, a loud, high pitch horse squeal was heard and a beautiful horse galloped over, tossing her head and gorgeous mane proudly.

Link let out a yell at the huge chestnut mare barreling towards him at high speeds and turned to start sprinting away. "Naviiiiiiiiiiiii!"

The horse trotted beside him and matched his speed and tossed her head upwards again, snorting in amusement.

While looking back to see if he'd managed to escape the behemoth following him Link tripped on a stone- with a loud "Ooof!" he went flying, rolling across the ground with an unhappy noise of discontent as he came to a stop.

The chestnut horse trotted over to Link and stood in front of him for a moment, obviously displeased at his state- and on the ground no less. She bent down and took his hair in her teeth and tugged at it to try to get him up.

"Ah! Ow!" Link hastily rose, leaning back down to scoop his hat up off the ground before staring up nervously at the huge horse. "That hurt!"he scolded, waving his finger at her. "Be gentler!"

She snorted and stomped her hooves, her ears lying flat against her head, a warning glaring coming off of her as she snapped forward to bite Link's accusing finger.

He immediately yelped and pulled himself back, almost overbalancing again in his haste to get away from those large, flat, blunt teeth that looked like they could easily crush his arm.

"Three minutes, boy!" Ingo called with a smirk from the gateway.

"Yeah, yeah!" he called back, eyeing Epona with studied, unbridled nervousness.

She huffed at his anxiety and moved away with irritated and loud steps.

"H-hey, no-" he followed immediately. "I paid twenty rupees to get in here and see you!"

He was ignored though as the horse trotted away- liking this game of catch the horse.

"Ha! You won't rid her kid! Stubborn mule!" Ingo laughed loudly and nasally. "She's for Ganondorf to tame!"

"Hey! Epona!" Link called in desperation. "Come back here! You don't want to go to him, trust me-" he said in a much lower voice.

Epona looked back at him and snorted challengingly.

When even that went unheeded Link huffed in frustration and pulled out his ocarina, playing her song once more.

She stopped and looked back at him expectantly- still waiting for him to get on, and looking more and more annoyed that she was kept waiting.

When he realized she had stopped Link hastily, and clumsily, heaved himself up into the saddle, sitting there a bit nervously- he had no clue how to ride this thing...

"Yay Link! You're finally up!" Navi tingled from the relative safety of his hat.

"Shut up, Navi!" He growled through gritted teeth, shifting nervously on the ornate leather saddle as he reached for a strip of leather hanging from the front part- it seemed to attach to the gear on Epona's head.

Epona sprung into a gallop once he was situated, not waiting for him to give orders-

He let out a loud yelp, settling for clinging to the saddle for dear life. It felt like he was going to be tossed of at any moment- instinctively his knees tightened around Epona's sides and his hands around the reins- tugging back to urge her to slow down.

She reared-
and Link slid off the back of the saddle.

Link growled and grabbed Epona's reins, immediately swinging back up on her. "Give me a warning next time!" he growled, squeezing her sides with his legs again.

She tossed her head before barreling over to a high fence on the other side of the ranch.

"! What are you doing?" Link shrieked, clinging on for dear life. "Trying to kill me? You could have just trampled me! For goddesses sakes just dump me off again and kick me to death! Anything but this!"

The neigh she let loose sounded suspiciously like a laugh was drowned out by the angry rancher. Just as she got close enough- she leapt into the air and over the fence like it was a small log in her path.

Link's scream sounded just as shrill and terrified as when he had been racing through the maze of ReDeads, and as they landed heavily, Epona galloping merrily in the general direction of Kakariko Village, Link felt as if he might faint.

If being a hero meant doing this all the time... he thought he'd quit right here and now.