Far away on a distant tour bus, Link bent his head down. He closed one nostril and slipped a rolled up dollar into his nose. He sniffed a line of white powder called coca-something or other. He squeezed his eyes shut and sneezed sending the residual powder from the mirror in his hands all over the musicians around him. The musicians laughed at his reaction. Peer pressure had been a foe he had always succumbed to until he had met the voluptuous Tracy Turnblad. She had been his power source, something Link hadn't realized until he got on the road with the guys. They talked about women as though they were disposable property. Link couldn't afford to be seen as a square so early on in the game. He said bad things about Amber and previous girlfriends, things he had done with them that perhaps he shouldn't have. He never said such things about Tracy, only that he loved her, which got him snickers and jabs from the band and crew. He would rather not speak of her than hear her slandered. They teased him for loving such a "hungry" girl. The drummer had asked him if her appetite stopped at the dinner table. Link had cold cocked him. Since then, they only asked him about his previous escapades.
Link ran a hand under his nose to dust away the excess powder. The rush was coming and soon he would be onstage to rock the crowd despite the exhaustion that clung to him like a wet robe. Link danced all day, travelled in the afternoon and partied all night. He smiled for cameras, wooed girls with a wink and thrusted his pelvis in an Elvis like manner every time. It had all taken a toll on the young man.
He had turned eighteen earlier in the year, in March to be precise. He had wanted to take Tracy's innocence from her, but it felt like robbery. He stopped short and held her at arm's length when they were together. Things had to be done properly and honestly. She deserved no less that perfection.
The days seemed to blur together and sometimes they seemed years apart. Link began forgetting his words onstage and gyrating more than most parents could overlook. His manager pulled him aside and tried to talk to him, but the hold the band had on him was far too strong. Link Larkin had gone on a summer binge.
The third month of the tour was well under way when Link woke up in an unfamiliar bed. He didn't remember going into the hotel the night before, though they often stopped at hotels to rest. He stretched and rolled out of the bed. A draft chilled him, and Link looked down to see he wore only socks. He lifted the bed spread looking for his pajama bottoms. A fair haired girl was nestled under the blanket. She was slumbering peacefully. Link's eyes scanned the room. Other members of the band were there, too, wrapped in the arms of unfamiliar women in awkward human puzzle pieces strewn about the floor. Link cursed, running a hand through his hair. He grabbed the telephone from the table and brought it into the bathroom. He hooked his finger into the loop and turned the numbers on the rotary phone. It began to ring.
"Turnblad residence, Edna speaking."
"Mrs. Turnblad! It's Link."
"Link," he cringed at the tone of Mrs. Turnblad's voice. "We haven't heard from you in so long."
"What, like four or five days?"
"No, Link. You haven't called in almost two solid months. My daughter is only so strong. I don't appreciate you playing with her emotions."
"I agree. You are sorry. I don't know what has gotten into you. Your parents haven't even heard from you! Have you called them to check in?"
"Well… no, I-"
"Tracy isn't here, anyway. There's only so long a girl can wait by the phone before she moves on." Link heard the phone receiver clatter and he was disconnected.
Link ran a hand through his hair and sighed. He set the phone on the side of the tub and walked back into the room of people. The blonde girl was sitting straight up in bed with blankets piled around her waist.
"Hi," she said sheepishly. "Could you hand me my dress?" she asked, pointing to a gold lame' outfit behind him. He scooped it up and tossed it to her. "Denise is using your clothes as a pillow."
"You're so funny, you know that? You know, Denise, Denise! The one who gave you that killer blow…"
"She what?" he asked.
"How could you forget? You said it was the best head you'd ever gotten!"
"Oh God…" he murmured. He backed into the wall and slid down, not bothering to cover his naked body. He had to get home. He had to see his girl and she just had to forgive him. He had given in to the whims of others instead of sticking to his guns. Leaving Tracy to march alone had been his first lesson. This time, there was sure to be dire consequences.
The awkwardness ended soon after when the band manager entered the room and woke all of the sleeping partiers. He excused the random girls and gathered up the band and Link. Link found his underwear and pants, but none of his other clothes. It was a good thing he had several suits.
The six hour ride back to Baltimore had Link's stomach in knots. The tour was over. Tracy might never forgive him, and he very well may have blown his shot by doing drugs. His manager Kevin slid into the seat across from him.
"So, I heard last night got pretty crazy, eh?" Link didn't respond. He looked out the window, afraid opening his mouth would expose his shame. "Anyway, the girls think you're single, and the label loves this. That chick in your bed this morning was pretty cherry, man. I wouldn't have minded taking a swing at that. And that's the type of girl we should see you with. You're a playboy. You deserve your pick of the stone cold foxes."
"I'm happily taken."
"Come on, man… you don't even call that chick back home. And seriously, why would you? It's hard enough to keep up with one woman. Seems like she'd be like having two girlfriends." Link stood up.
"Hey you better fu-"
"Link!" his friend and band mate Scotty called, grabbing his friend by the shoulders and ripping him backward.
"Woah man, be cool, be cool!" Kevin said, raising his hands defensively. "The way you been actin' I just thought maybe she was some hometown poon or something."
"Don't refer to my wife as poon again or I'll kick your ass."
"Your wife? When you got married?" Scotty asked. Link hadn't realized he'd used that particular word. The way it naturally and instinctively rolled from his tongue was surprising. It was a palatable word, one he wanted to use again and again in context to Tracy.
"Marriage would kill your career, kid. Chicks want a cat who is loose and free flyin'. Stop forgetting lyrics and keep gyrating and you'll have any bird you want eatin' out the palm of your hand. The label has big plans for you. As a matter of fact, we want to sign you to sing for the next year,"
"I've got school, it's senior year!"
"I've got a contract for you and it starts at 25,000."
"Dollars?" Link asked and Kevin chuckled.
"Yeah man, for one more year on the bus." Link thought about Tracy home without him for another year. Was one year of their lives worth the money? They could easily outright buy a new house and car and have half of it left. "Hell kid, if this next year goes better than the summer, we'll have you in the studio recording those songs you're always writing down."
"Senior year of high school-"
"Man do you know how hard people work to bust out? Maybe it doesn't mean as much to you as someone who's been on the circuit for fifteen years."
"No man, I think it's a boss deal."
"Yeah? Well then, honkey cat, you'd better make up your mind. We're only taking a week before the bus rolls out again. You think you can hang?"
"You callin' me square?"
"Are you a square?"
"I'm too hip for cool, Daddio."
"That's what I want to hear! You've got a week to tie up any loose ends."
"Loose ends… that's not code for dump Tracy is it?"
"I don't think you have to worry about that part, kid. But you've got to understand, the label wants a free spirit that can't be tamed. They don't want a boy in puppy love chained to his woman's ankle. After this year man, we can talk it over and maybe they'll be cool with you settling down. Hell, a heavy wife might draw in jealous fans."
"Tracy is perfect just the way she is."
"Of course she is," Kevin said, pushing a pair of glasses up his nose. "It's your choice kid. Don't regret it."
Link hadn't even gone to see his parents. He was dropped off at the bus terminal and had hopped another bus to get to Tracy's house.
Trace, I love you, I'm sorry, forgive me, she meant nothing to me, none of them meant a thing, I only took one all the way, the rest were just play dates, baby, chill! Be cool mama. A man has his needs, and those girls were so hungry for what I gave them. The thoughts overlapped in his mind until the bus pulled to a stop two blocks from the Turnblad residence. Link fingered the necklace he had bought for Tracy as it rode boxless in his pocket. The charm on the end was a musical note. It was the prettiest thing he could find to bring her for her birthday. He ran his hand across the five o clock shadow growing on his chin. It was too important to spend every moment of her birthday that he could with her before he broke the news. There would be a lot of forgiveness to beg. He began to fidget nervously. He reached into his pocket and looked around. No one was watching as he dipped his finger into a small paper baggie and pulled out a solid hit. He snorted the cocaine and wiped his nose. He shoved the bag back into his pocket and headed to Tracy's house. He knocked on the door. He could hear music and laughter coming from the inside. Mrs. Turnblad's face froze when she was who was in the doorway.
"Link, I almost didn't recognize you," She said sadly. The Link she remembered was clean cut and well kept. This kid looked tired and rough around the edges.
"Is Tracy here? I've got to see her. I brought her a present. " Mrs. Turnblad looked over her shoulder to see her daughter laughing for the first time since two weeks before when the promise ring Seaweed gave Penny turned her finger green.
"I don't think now is such a good time, Link," her mother said.
"No, I have to see her. She's my girl!"
"When it's convenient for you, perhaps. You broke her heart and I'm just getting her back. What's wrong with you anyway? Have you looked at yourself? You look like you got dressed in the dark!"
"Ma! Who's at the door?" Tracy called cheerfully.
"No one, sweetheart!"
"Tracy, baby, it's me!" Link called over her mother. Link heard clattering and rustling and heavy footsteps as Tracy approached,
"Link!" she exclaimed. No malice tainted her voice. She didn't glare at him like her mother had upon seeing him. His hair was limp and swept to the side. His white shirt was half tucked in. She said nothing negative, only threw her arms around him and held him. Mrs. Turnblad frowned, but walked away. Penny and Seaweed scooted silently by. Link gave them both a small wave, and they waved back. Tracy didn't notice anyone else in the world. It made Link feel like a complete jerk. "I've missed you so much!"
"Happy birthday, Darlin'," he said, reaching into his pocket and pulling out the necklace. Tracy squealed with delight as he hooked the clasp behind her neck. He searched her shirt for his pin and scowled when he didn't see it.
"Where is my pin?" he asked in an uncharacteristically cruel tone.
"L-link it's in my room. I thought you didn't love me anymore. I was… I was going to give it back."
Link scoffed. "So much for not giving up on me."
"So much for calling me!"
"I was working! What were you doing all that time? Hangin' out with friends? Spending time with Corny and Seaweed? Or is there some other guy you're not telling me about?"
"Link, what has gotten into you?" she asked, her brow furrowing. He shook his head in the negative.
"We need to talk in private. Now," he said, dragging her by her arm to her bedroom.
"Link, you're scaring me!" Tracy stumbled behind him. Link drug her into the bedroom and shut the door behind him.
"Sit please," he instructed, and Tracy had a seat while he paced the floor. "We seriously need to talk. And it's bad, babe. The record wants me to be a single guy, rolling with the punches, winking at the chicks, you know?"
"Oh," she said softly, her eyes falling to her lap.
"Baby, no, no, no," he said, lifting her chin with his index finger. "I can't lie to you. I… I failed you, Trace. I was intimate with other girls, but they meant nothing to me. Nothing at all. They like this image, but it isn't real. The real me is in here," he said, placing his hand over her heart, "with you. If I keep this up for just one more year-"
"You want to be unfaithful to me for a solid year?"
"I won't go that far again, I swear it. I just want to make a better life for us."
"That's such a joke, Link. I always wondered why my Mother worked so hard washing laundry and why my father didn't mind being holed up in his shop all day. It's because they not only love what they do, they love who they're with. Link, I'd be happy with you even if we lived in a box down the alley."
"Me too, baby, but I want to give you what you deserve. They're going to start recording my songs, Trace. I've got to do this."
"This is the same situation as when you wouldn't march with us, Link! You still can't see what's right!"
"What about you, Tracy? You don't understand what this means to me! Everything I have done has been for you!"
"No, Link, I'm pretty sure those girls you did were for yourself," Tracy said. Link shook his head angrily.
"So that's what you want then? To break up? I referred to you as my wife on tour, Trace."
"There was a time when being your wife was all I could think about."
"I'm sorry, Link. We've just grown too far apart. I don't feel like you love me."
"What's this then, eh?" he asked, swiping at the necklace he had just given her. "Nothing, right? You know that's real gold, Trace. And there can be much more."
"I don't want your gold," she said softly, reaching up to remove her necklace. She handed it back to him. "I want Link Larkin."
"I'm here, in the flesh!"
"This isn't y-", she was cut off by his mouth assaulting hers. He pressed his mouth so hard to hers that her teeth dug into her lips. Tracy pushed away. "That's not even how my Link kisses. My Link gives me butterflies. You… you scare me. There's something different about you."
"I get enough crap from everyone else, Trace. I don't need it from you, too. You don't want this? Fine. Throw away the damned pin if you want, see if I care. I won't bother you anymore, Ms. Turnblad," he snarled, shoving the necklace back into his pocket and storming out of the room. Tracy sobbed, rolling over on her bed.
She hadn't realized she had cried herself to sleep until the afternoon heat had warmed up her room. She wiped sweat from her forehead. She pushed herself up. She reached underneath her pillow and grabbed Link's pin. She would give it back to him. When she stood up, her toe kicked a small brown bag on the floor. She picked it up and opened it. It was full of white powder, probably baby powder.
This must be Link's, she thought to herself. She slid it into her pocket.
"Tracy Turnblad, where are you going?" her mother called from the other room.
"Maybelle's! See ya!" she lied, the door slamming behind her before her mother could protest. Tracy ran down the stairs as fast as she could. She took the bus to Link's house. It seemed like the ride took an hour though it was only twenty minutes at best. She knocked softly on Link's front door. She heard yelling inside. Link's mother opened the door and slid her body around it and closed it behind her.
"Tracy, how nice to see you," she smiled.
"Is Link home?"
"Now really isn't a good time."
"Could you please just give him these for me, then?" she asked, handing Mrs. Larkin the pin and the bag of powder.
"His pin?" she asked sadly, and Tracy's eyes welled up.
"Yes ma'am. And I don't know why he has a baggie of baby powder, but it was his, and I just wanted to bring it back."
"A baggie of what?" she asked, opening the small bag. Her eyes grew wide and then shrank sadly.
"Thank you, Tracy." Tracy nodded and walked away. Mrs. Larkin heard Tracy crying loudly before the door closed behind her.
"Where is it? Where in the hell is it? Where in the fu-"
"Link!" his mother exclaimed. Link's hands were shaking and he turned furious eyes on his mother.
"Not now, ma!"
"Oh I think we had better talk about this now," she said. She held the top of the bag and it rolled out to full length in her hand.
"Where did you find that? That's what I've been looking for! Just give it here, Ma!"
"Tracy returned it to you."
"Tracy was here?"
"She also brought this," his mother showed him the pin. Link fell to his knees and ran his hands through his hair. "She didn't know what it was. She thought it was baby powder. Son… I think it would be best if you stayed in school."
"What? No! This is my big break! You wouldn't understand!"
"You're right! I wouldn't! But I do understand motherhood, and when my child,"
"I'm not a child anymore, mom! I'm a grown man!"
"Way to act like one, son."
"Don't you start in on me."
"This," she said, shaking the bag, "Isn't happening. And neither is this," she said, holding up his returned pin. "Music means everything to you, and Tracy and your family mean more than it does, right? So first order of business," she said, walking toward the bathroom.
"No! No, ma, please!" he ran after his mother as she dumped the contents of the bag into the toilet and flushed it. Link growled and slammed his palm into the wall.
"Link, we've got to sort you out, boy. What were you thinking?"
"I DON'T KNOW!" he yelled. "You just canned all of my mother fu- my damned blow! Jesus Christ, Mom, what the hell were you thinking?"
"I was thinking I love my boy, and I wonder where he went."
"I'm not a boy."
"Then BE A MAN! Man up and tell Tracy you love her! Man up and tell people who offer you this stuff that you don't want it! You're a shadow of your former self, son, and for what? Think, Link! Use your head! You want to end up like James Dean?" Link's mother swiped at the tears that rolled down her cheeks. Link exhaled and slid down the wall. He held his hands in his head.
"No, mom. I want to do whatever it takes to live a decent, honest life."
"Then we've got to get you better."
"What about the tour?"
"There will be other opportunities."
"But Kevin said…"
"You have got to get a hold of this addiction, son, before it kills you! Your life is more important than this. Besides, if the label sees you like this, you're not going to go very far."
"They said they want me footloose and free."
"I think you should take this down another avenue. I think you should finish school-"
"They won't wait for me to finish! What part of that can't you get through your fucking head!"
"Link Larkin, you will not speak to me that way."
"I'm sorry mom," he said, realization sitting in. "My God, I'm so sorry… I can't believe I would ever say such ugly words to you." He exhaled and closed his eyes. He leaned his head against the back of the wall. "Please call Tracy. She deserves the truth. I'm going to need her more than ever if I'm going to risk flushing my dreams down the toilet."
"You took that risk when you picked up cocaine," his mother said. Link's head fell into his hands and nodded there in agreement.
"Tracy, please…" he asked. He could hear his mother's heels clicking away. Twenty five thousand dollars could have done so much for Tracy and him. He had blown it. He couldn't risk losing her, too.
"Mrs. Turnblad I respectfully ask you to reconsider letting Tracy come over to our house!" Mrs. Larkin pleaded. After telling Tracy's mother the sordid story of just what Link had been up to all summer, Mrs. Turnblad had vehemently demanded that the teens stay away from each other.
"You won't keep me away from him any better than Mrs. Pingleton keeps Penny and Seaweed apart," Tracy said.
"Tracy, you are not going to be involved with this. Link made his bed, and now he will sleep in it. If he becomes worthy of you again…"
"But what about when everyone thought I was not worthy of Link, Mamma?"
"That was a case of prejudice, Tracy. It had nothing to do with reckless behavior!"
"No one is pardoning my son Mrs. Turnblad, but I know he loves Tracy. She has been all he is worried about through this ordeal!"
"I'm sorry Mrs. Larkin, I don't think I can allow my daughter to be around him like this."
"I'm sorry, Mom, but there's no way you can stop me!"
"You step one foot out of that door, Tracy Turnblad, and I'll…"
"I don't care, mom! I love Link, and he loves me, I just know he does. He made a mistake. I can't abandon him for that. I have to try. Isn't love about compromise and trying and working things out versus the world together?"
"Truer words have rarely been spoken, Mrs. Turnblad. They are rather wise for a young woman."
"I suppose you're right, Mrs. Larkin," Tracy's mother sighed. "Alright. You may go see Link, but I disallow you to spend any extended period of unsupervised time together. Is that understood?"
"Respectfully so!" Tracy chirped. Her mother nodded. Tracy took Mrs. Larkin's hand and began running out the door so quickly that Mrs. Larkin wondered if she could keep up in her high heels.
Mrs. Larkin worried that leaving Link alone might afford him time to sneak away and seek cocaine on his own. To her relief, he was home, waiting for them. When Tracy walked through the door, he wrapped his arms around her. For the first time since she had met him, Link began to sob. Tracy began crying, unsure as to what she should do. Link had always been so strong! Link muttered incomprehensible terms of endearment into her hair, and Tracy stroked his back making soothing shushing noises. Link pulled away, wiping his cheeks with the backs of his hands.
"Some strong man I turned out to be."
"It takes a strong man to admit he's wrong. You took that a step further by wanting to fix it." Link took Tracy's hand and lead her to the couch in the living room.
"I was completely stupid," he said, wrapping his fingers around hers and clasping her hand tightly. "This is going to be hard, Trace. I want it so bad. I feel like I need it, like I can't function without it."
"No, silly, it's me you can't function without," she joked. Link smirked in his characteristic way.
"I love you so much. Do you know that?"
"Your efforts have proven it, yes. I didn't think so earlier, but I know you have to now. "
"Do you love me?"
"I never stopped loving you."
"How many boys did you spend time with when I was gone?"
"Come on, Trace, it's just a question. So how many were there, like five? Ten?"
"Why are you acting like this?"
"Why won't you answer my question? Are you feeling guilty?"
"No, Link! There's been no one! There's never been anyone but you!"
"Do you swear?"
"Link Larkin, I've never had eyes for a soul but you!"
"Never ever. Oh Link, you never thought we'd live a normal life did you?" Tracy smiled at him, taking his hands in hers. "I knew things would always be adventurous and perhaps a little crazy because it was always so unlikely that you'd ever notice me. But you did, and that was my miracle. I never thought I could shake you up enough to make you notice me." Link kissed Tracy on the forehead.
"I remember once saying to you that this adventure was too big for me."
"Still a little embarrassed that I misconstrued what you were saying."
"It's beside the point that I'm trying to make, Trace. The point is that you put me on this pedestal and you're saying how incredible it is that I fell for you. You thought I was handsome, but what did you really know about me? Nothing, right? But you gave me a chance to prove what kind of person I am to you, too. You are my miracle, Tracy Turnblad. I can't imagine where I would be right now if I didn't have you to keep me grounded. I never saw myself walking down this path with you. I certainly never thought my light would dim before I could be the star I thought I was destined to be. I do know that if I were with anyone else, they never would have cared enough to fight for a has-been. You're so adamant about doing what's right. I wonder if that's your reasoning with me."
"Of course I'm with you because it's right, but I don't think of things that are right as obligations. You aren't my obligation, you are my destiny." Link smiled, brushing her hair behind her ear.
"So you'll love me even if I gain a bunch of weight and lose all my hair?"
"So long as you don't change where it counts," she said, placing her hand over his heart. "Besides, you don't think you're going to stay skinny forever if I'm going to be cooking for you, do you?" Tracy laughed and Link joined her. It felt right to be with her. What was he thinking? A summer on the road without her was stupid. A year would have been unfathomable. He may have died in every sense of the word. Tracy Turnblad had saved his life yet again. He would go to any lengths to make sure that love and trust would never again be jeopardized.
Though it was soon understood that paranoia and excessive cravings as well as weight gain were to be expected, once Link had been taken the doctor for a proper examination, Tracy refused to give up on him. The months that rolled by were hard, especially for Link between the withdrawal symptoms and the label signing a different boy from the next city to take his place. Tracy reminded Link each day how pleasantly surprised she was to still have him all to herself. Link knew her statement was not a double entendre, but he still fought the wicked thoughts that ran through his mind that said to him that Tracy wanted for him to stay and she was pleased with his loss. Link knew this wasn't remotely true, but he still fought the thoughts. He had lost his one and only shot, and soon he would be working a nine to five manual labor job if he were ever going to be anyone worthy of Tracy. His heart warmed when he thought of Tracy but it simultaneously ached with an irreplaceable loss. With his shot blown, Link Larkin would never be anyone impressive to anyone but Tracy. He wondered why she wasn't sufficiently taking the place of his misplaced career, especially considering that Corny Collins had welcomed him with open arms, pending mandatory drug tests for his own good. These tests were confidential, of course, with only Tracy, her family and Link's family being in the loop.
Link relearned to love the Corny Collins show. He loved highlighting Tracy by letting her do fancier moves than he did. He loved singing into a microphone he clutched in one hand while swaying gently with Tracy wrapped up in his other arm. The horror of his past summer and the reality of all he lost eased with every step they took and every note he sang. He planned to treasure every last moment of his final year on the Corny Collins show.
School had been easier to deal with than he'd thought. People still loved him, and thanks to the stunt he pulled on the Miss Hairspray pageant, the whole school had been integrated. Lunch, classrooms, hops, pep rallies, even the sports teams. The school hummed livelier than before as students and teachers both black and white put aside their differences and learned to appreciate each other as equals.
On the Corny Collins show, Tracy and Link had become so popular that none of the other council members on the integrated show really minded that they often shared the spotlight. Seaweed had convinced Penny to sing with him a couple of times, but her dancing still left a little to be desired. Penny's mother had disowned her devil daughter and she had since been living with Seaweed under the careful supervision of Motormouth Maybelle. Once unnoticed by most, Penny was now a hip girl who gave insight to curious girls about what it was like to be a checkerboard chick. Penny, after starting French classes, coined the phrase Checkerboard Chic in reference to interracial coupling. Many students were surprised to find their parents were perfectly fine with their choices in partners, but equally bummed to discover that rules and curfews still had to be respectfully followed.
As school and the show neared ending and Little Inez had yet again won Miss Hairspray having narrowly outdanced Tracy for the spot, Link became fidgety. Tracy noticed, but she tried to give him space to work on it. This would be a big test. Would he count on her?
Their last day on the Corny Collins show, Link left the studio without a word to anyone, not even Tracy. No one saw him for three days. When he finally returned home, he went directly to Tracy's house. Tracy threw her arms around him, pleased to see he had not been using. "If you love someone," her mother once told her,"Set them free. They'll come around if it's meant to be."
"I thought about using again, Trace," he said after dinner when they were alone in her bedroom. They were sitting on her bed facing each other, and Link was tracing shapes all over her face with his fingertips. "I thought I needed to chase that high, but when I left to talk to Scotty, something clicked in my brain. I realized the only high I ever wanted to chase was the high I get when I'm dancing with you. I went to Scotty's house anyway. He lives in Buena Vista. That's in California."
"I knew that!"
"As much as you slept in class, I wasn't sure!" Link beamed and Tracy scowled. He kissed her chastely on the lips. Her anger melted away as quickly as it had come. "While I was there I learned that the kid who took my place was so terrible that the band broke up and they packed the kid home after three weeks. Scotty is trying to get the band back together and he wants me to do lead vocals."
"I don't know if I'm okay with this, Link. These are the same people who convinced you to do drugs."
"I did those on my own. It's my fault and I accept that."
"Just hear me out, okay? Trust me," he stated simply and stared into her eyes. Tracy realized she was completely unable to do otherwise. She gave a curt nod and Link continued. "I turned down his offer, and I explained to him everything that had happened, even why I had boarded the plane in the first place. I related to him that you are my high, and he respected that. Scotty was the only one on that bus who ever had the courage to say no. Now I do. You're my courage," he paused because Tracy began to tear up. "No, no, no, no, no!" he said, wiping the tears from her face. "There's more, okay? Scotty and I went to have lunch and while we were there we bumped into Kevin. Then Kevin is going on and on about how he would still love to represent me if I ever changed my mind and how different things could be and that talent like ours was hard to find. When he said 'ours', Trace, he was talking about us. He wants to try a new angle. He wants a married couple to sing and dance together. A young and hip married couple and since you're also unconventionally pretty it would have the added bonus of making people look further into themselves and into others and it reminded me of that day when you looked up at me with those pretty brown eyes and told me that marching was the right thing to do. I mean, that has been such a huge part of our lives, right? So anyway, I say to him that I don't know if you would want to ever marry me, amazing as you are, and-"
"He's all 'Come on, Larkin, grow some balls. You said you loved her, right?' And of course I do. I love you Tracy Turnblad, and I don't care if we spend the rest of our lives dancing on a stage together or flipping hamburgers together-"
"Link," she smiled.
"I want the rest of that life to be with you, because Tracy you mean the world to me. And I fell in love with that hippy little chick with the ratted out 'do and I still love your hair even though it is soft and long and I love that you always stand up for what's right even when it isn't popular and that you believed in me and Seaweed despite any preconceived notions about either of us and that-"
"Link Larkin, will you marry me?"
"You heard me."
"No, that's all wrong, you can't ask me this!"
"But you weren't getting to the point you're trying to make."
"Take it back!"
"I could never. I want to marry you. I want to be with you forever. So… marry me, Link Larkin!" she beamed.
"Yes, little darlin'! I will marry you!" he laughed, throwing his arms around her. Tracy laughed with him. Link pulled away and stared deep into her eyes. He withdrew a ring from his pocket and slid it onto her finger. "There's only one condition I ask of you."
"Let me keep my last name," he chuckled. Tracy smacked his arm and laughed with him. His face became serious. Link wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her in for their first kiss as a betrothed couple, a kiss he hoped to mark as the start of the rest of their lives together.