Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Link yawned, rubbing his eyes tiredly, and stretching. He had been fighting sleep for almost an hour now, and while it was tempting to give in and surrender, he knew he had to keep up the battle. It was just one of those days...summer was just around the corner in Hyrule, and the afternoons were especially toasty. It was the perfect kind of hot to simply laze and nap the hours away. It did not help that his only class on friday had been canceled, and he had no real obligations until later that night, when he had a shift at Telma's-a popular restaurant in Castletown, amongst the younger citizens especially.
Well, unless you counted studying for final exams as an obligation. Lethargically, he ran a hand through his mussed hair, staring blankly at his open history textbook. His eyes were starting to cross.
Determined, he shook his head, almost getting up to dunk his head into a sink full of ice water. But the kitchen seemed so far away... He growled to himself. He had to find some sort of cure to this horrid onset of may disease. It really did not help that his expensive, thousand rupee laptop had to be taken into a specialty shop for repairs, no thanks to Sheik's drunken, coffee-table dancing earlier that week. Thank the goddesses that he had splurged for insurance.
Now his only source of information was the bare-bones, dry text he had been assigned. Grumbling, he took a sip out of his can of Red Chu, the energy drink now room-temperature and flat. Grimacing, he forced himself to stand. Clearly, his current methods of study were continually unsuccessful, so he needed a new strategy. Perhaps he should borrow Sheik's computer for the afternoon, so he could accomplish something.
Link exited his dinky apartment and crossed the narrow hallway to where Sheik, and his sister Zelda, currently resided. Their door was almost never locked-a great concern of Link's-and so he waltzed right into their equally small living space. He would scold them for forgetting to lock their door again later.
It was funny to think how inseparable the Harkinian siblings were. Or really, how inseparable all three of them were. Link had known Sheik for so long, he could hardly remember a time when they had not been friends. And Zelda, who was only a year and a half younger than the two of them, had been quick to join their little club. She had another set of friends, which only included girls, but Link knew if she had to choose between the clique and them, it would always be them. The three of them were, as terribly corny as it was, best friends.
And naturally, as Link had matured, he had formed a certain, nameless attachment to the sole female of the group. Nameless, because he dared not think about his feelings for her more than strictly necessary. Sheik probably had a good idea of his...silly crush, because that was all it was, but the protective, older brother never said a word. He was not certain if that was a sign that he should go for it, or back off. Either way, a closer relationship with Zelda was too risky.
There was no way she saw him as more than another older brother. And her friendship was worth more than all the rupees in the realm. So he dated casually, never particularly serious about the relationships he entered, and somewhat careless about the ones he left. And all the while, Zelda was a perpetual single. She was pretty enough, so he wondered what it was she was waiting for. Prince Charming, undoubtedly. She could be quite the little princess, when she wanted something.
He wordlessly scored the apartment, frowning when his eyes finally rested on Zelda, curled around a pillow on the ratty futon in the small living room. He swore, the woman had no concern for her own well-being whatsoever. If she did not have him or Sheik around as guard dogs, some creep would sneak in and whisk her away to goddesses knew where.
The sun shone in through the window and landed right on her sleeping form, making a picture of perfection. It would have been cruel to wake her, especially since he knew how seriously she had been taking her finals. Zelda was smarter than him and Sheik put together, but she wore herself down to nothing for her grades. It payed off, to be sure, but Link still hated to see it. So, knowing she had probably pulled yet another all-nighter, he let her rest. He would have a million other opportunities to berate her for her carelessness.
Sighing, the very image of her dozing in the patch of sun created from the window enough to tire him, he continued to search for Sheik's computer. Unfortunately for him, his friend had predicted what line of action he would take, and so neither Sheik's laptop, nor its owner, were anywhere in sight. He did, however, find Zelda's.
His gut told him that stealing her computer for the afternoon would be going too far, but logic failed him. Desperate times called for desperate measures. He opened her laptop, unsurprised to find it locked, and asking for a password. Link smirked, cracking his knuckles.
Sitting down to the kitchen table where he had found it, he typed in the first word that came to mind. Epona. It was what she and her friend, Malon, had dubbed his red sports bike. For being so predictable, and careless when it came to protecting herself, he was stunned as his first guess was rejected. Triforce. Her favorite historical legend. Again, came up as negative. Ocarina. Princess. Pink.
Frustrated, he scratched his chin. So, perhaps he was not as good at hacking as he liked to pretend. He clicked for a hint.
Link scowled. Only love? He could only assume then, that her password was a name. He scoured his memories to remember all the guys she had ever dated. The list was short. He entered every name he could recall, but his efforts had fruitless results. Okay, so that could only indicate that whoever this 'only love' was, her feeling were unreciprocated. His gaze fell onto her sleeping form again, sympathizing with the pain of having an unrequited love, and pitying himself at the same time.
Not that he loved Zelda, he had to tell himself.
For a while, he just stared at the screen, hoping to find inspiration, while giving the woman napping on the futon an occasional glance. She was rather distracting, he had to confess, and for a short time, he just watched her, taking note of each inhale and exhale with silent awe. She was so at peace, and blissfully unaware that she was being admired.
At last, he hummed to himself. Figuring out her password had become less about actually using her laptop, and more to have to do with his festering curiosity. Link was not, by nature, a snoopy person, but in this case, he had to know. Who was it that Zelda loved? He entered the names of a few possibilities; really, whoever he might have seen her talking to in recent months besides her brother, and himself.
And then, it occurred to him. What if he tried to enter his own name? Link swallowed, shaking his head. He was just being stupid, he assured himself. He was like a brother to her, he found himself mentally repeating for not the first time. This was just him, aggravated that she had no idea of his feelings, imaging things. But now, he had to know.
He might as well have been signing his own death warrant, typing in the letters to his own name. Hesitantly, he pressed the enter key.
It was a good thing that Zelda was so clueless of her surroundings, because the tension seeping from him was creating an atmosphere so solid, it could be cut through with a blade.
He was then staring at a picture of him and Zelda that had been taken at a Golden Goddess Day party, just a few months previous. Link could remember posing for this photo too, and he was damned certain that Sheik had been in it as well. Apparently, she had cropped him out for the purpose of creating a wallpaper.
Link scrutinized her rather organized desktop, eyeing the various folders until he had to pause. Well, damn. He even got his own folder. His own self-interest got the best of him, and he double clicked. In the back of his mind, Link knew that he should not be digging through her files, because there could be some very serious consequences for what he was doing. He found an entourage of photos, some of which were just of him, while a majority were of them both.
He scrolled down through the files, before finding a word processing document, titled with just a date. The date being a Golden Goddess Day almost two years back. Resistance was futile, and he opened the file. By the goddesses, he hated how prying he was. He really had no right to be so inquisitive, even if it was about him. But he quickly perused the document anyway. Her tone was frustrated throughout the entry. This was hardly surprising, considering what had happened that year...Link could only just recall getting wasted at a big party she and Sheik had thrown, and he had ended up getting snatched up by the Harkinian siblings' cousin, Tetra. He felt the same guilt as he had that night, when Zelda had caught them in a dark corner, limbs entangled, hair in disarray, and in the middle of a very messy kiss.
Link may not have known what her feelings were at the time, but at seeing her shocked expression, he had felt like he was not only betraying his own heart, but hers as well. He had never realized, truly, how hard she had taken it, though. The worst part was, he had nothing to say in his defense. It may have all been done in good, drunken fun, but Zelda had not seen it that way, if what he was reading was indication.
The very idea of Zelda loving him started to process in his stunned, half-dead brain.
Before panic could set in, he shut her laptop. How was he ever going to explain to her that he might have, accidentally, figured out she like liked him by hacking her computer? She was going to be furious with him. For being such a good for nothing, nosy prick. Careful to not drag the kitchen chair along the cheap tile, for fear of creating any sudden, loud, screeching sounds, he slowly stood, staring at her nearly motionless body. Zelda never moved an inch though, and a quiet sigh of relief passed through his lips.
Famous last words.
He should have known he was pushing his luck, and he would not be able to train his expression into something less...suspicious looking between the time he heard to tell-tale clicking of a door knob turning, and the time it glided open to reveal Sheik standing in the threshold. Well, he was officially screwed.
Sheik did not need to ask to know what it was Link had just discovered. It was written all over his face. But, as he walked into the apartment kitchen, and put the six pack of Goron imported beer into the refrigerator, he asked anyway, before his friend could sneak out and make a mad dash across the hall to the safety of his own flat. "So, you found out about Zelda?"
He watched as Link turned violent, tomato red, and snorted. "You knew all along?" he asked back, his voice only just cracking. "And you never bothered to, oh, I don't know... tell me?"
Sheik rolled his eyes, but took pity on his friend. "Dude," he replied with a hint of amusement in his tone, "Zelda's my sister. Even if you're my best friend, I'm not going to tell you her deepest, darkest secrets. That's all on her."
Link frowned. Even though he had no siblings of his own, he could somewhat comprehend where Sheik was coming from. "Still, if I had known..." He trailed off, not even certain of what he should say. If he had known that Zelda had fallen for him, would it really have changed anything? He still valued her friendship too much to risk a closer relationship.
Able to tell that he was going to need it, Sheik reached back into the refrigerator and grabbed two beers. Opening them both, he handed one to Link, before seriously stating, "Man, one of you two just need to grow a pair. Everyone's known about you guys since high school. Hell, most of us have placed bets on who'll make the first move."
Maybe that hadn't been the most encouraging thing to say, because Link, who had just tipped his bottle up to take a long guzzle, choked in surprise and almost sputtered his beer all over the kitchen floor. It would have been a perfectly good waste, as far as Sheik was concerned. He laughed at Link's glare, raising his hands in surrender. "Hey, it wasn't my idea. Mikau was the one who thought it would be funny."
"Of course he did," Link grumbled back, taking another chug. "Do I even want to know who everyone is betting on?"
Sheik flashed a playful grin. "Think for a moment, and it'll come to you."
He downed the rest of his beer, unable to do anything but sigh with satisfaction at the wonderful, cool sensation of the alcohol sliding down his throat and landing directly in his stomach. Think is exactly what he needed to do. And he was given the perfect excuse to leave when Zelda, still on the futon, finally began to stir. There was no way in hell he was going to stick around to endure the awkwardness of meeting her gaze when she opened her eyes again. She would just see right through him, and instantly know he had been up to no good.
Wordlessly, he raised his empty bottle in thanks, before quickly exiting. Sheik nodded after him, rolling his red eyes as he did so.
Well, at least he knew one thing. Sheik was not the protective, older brother Link had assumed he was. Or maybe, for some reason, he believed that Link would be a good match for his little sister.
Zelda stretched with the flexibility of a feline, grunting as she did so. She opened her eyes to the ever-predictable scene of her brother in the kitchen, sipping on a bottle of Death Mountain Ale, despite the fact it was only just two-thirty in the afternoon. She had to force herself into an upright position before she combed her fingers through thick locks of gold.
It was then that she noticed the empty bottle that had been abandoned on the countertop. Which only meant one thing-Link had just been by. She smiled to herself, before pushing down the warm and fuzzies that were fluttering in her abdomen. Sheik already teased her almost constantly about her killer crush on Link, and she refused to give him the satisfaction of seeing her giddy about having their friend over.
Unfortunately, it appeared that Link was already long gone. Probably to cram for his finals. It did not matter how many times she told him that he would learn the material for his exams much easier if he studied in chunks, Link was simply stuck in his ways, almost like an old man. Well, if he wanted to do things his way, she did not want to hear his complaints about test grades.
Zelda stood, giving her brother what had come to be known as the look. "You're drinking already?" She asked, clear disapproval in her tone.
Sheik was already used to her lecturing, however, and shrugged nonchalantly. "Link needed a beer, and I'm not gonna let him drink alone. Only losers do that."
Zelda rolled her eyes. If she had a rupee for every time Link and Sheik said that...well, she certainly would not need to worry about paying back her student loans. "Needed a beer like a shot in the head," she replied sarcastically. "He's supposed to be studying his sorry ass off, not drinking. You two are such a bad influence on each other."
Her brother paused for a moment. "Well, I'm pretty sure he'll have more difficulty preparing for finals, since I kinda kicked his computer last tuesday, at that party. He's still having it fixed."
"Did you let him borrow yours?" she asked back, moving around him to reach into the pantry. He hopped on the the counter, watching as she pulled out a box of sugar-coated cereal.
He gave her an obvious expression of horror. "Let Link touch my laptop, after I just murdered his? You have to be out of your mind. He would probably rent a car just to having something heavier than his motorcycle to run it over with."
Zelda, eating cereal directly from the box, then paused. "Then who was using my laptop?" She had initially assumed, at seeing it sitting so innocently at the kitchen table, that Sheik had borrowed it. He knew her password anyway, and while it annoyed her that he would use it without asking first, if he had lent his own for Link to use, she could let it slide.
Sheik gave her no answer. Which meant that the only one who could have used her computer was...
Her eyes almost popped out of her head. A moment later, she was glaring at her brother, reading to throttle him for letting Link even look in the direction of her laptop. Even her wallpaper was embarrassing for him to see. But if he decided to dig into her files, especially when she had a folder under his name, it meant death for her. Or maybe suicide.
Zelda slammed the cereal box down on the counter, its contents rattling inside, before leaning over the chair to open her computer. Unlocking it, her screen went straight to a document she remembered writing almost two years previous. After she had caught Link and Tetra making out. Her worst fears were then realized.
Sheik immediately started to ramble on-for fear of her wrath-that he had been out of the house when Link had come over, and that it was completely and utterly not his fault that their friend had figured out her password, and that if he had been there, he would have stopped it from happening. What it really came down to was that she had left the deadbolt unlocked again, so she was the one to blame.
It was not as if she had tried to fall asleep...it was just that the sun had been so inviting, and once she had curled up, it had been impossible to move from her spot. She had been anchored to the futon, and sleep came too easily. Tears welled in her eyes.
What must Link have thought of her? Most likely, that she was such a silly, little girl for thinking about him as more than a brother. That it was ridiculous for her to consider more than just a platonic relationship with him. And while this conclusion was painful to deliberate on, she knew that even the friendship they had safely shared for the past decade or so, was now torn to ribbons. As soon as there was even a whiff of attachment, men took to the hills.
Zelda roughly shut her laptop, glowering as the tears started to flow down her cheeks. As distraught as she now felt, there was no way in hell she was about to let him get away with poking his way through her private files. Sniffling, she wiped her face with the end of her sleeve, before snatching up her phone and dialing the number to one of the few people she could trust in such a dire situation.
It rang twice, before there was an answer.
"Malon," she said shakily, "I'm having a crisis."
The line was silent for a moment, before she replied. "Does it have anything to do with the male species?"
Zelda gulped. "In the worst sort of way."
"I'll be over in ten," Malon sighed, before adding, "Don't do anything until I get there, you hear?" And the line went dead.
"Hey, Link!" Ilia called as he entered the employee kitchen at Telma's. She was on her way out with a tray of garlic fries for the table of football fans he had seen on his way in. "What section are you working tonight?"
"Three," he answered with a grumble, clocking in for his shift. She laughed at his expense, before disappearing to deliver her table's appetizer. Section three was not only the farthest from the kitchen, but was in a separate room that could be reserved for a party of up to twenty people. Telma only put her most senior servers in section three, and unfortunately for Link, that meant he was in charge of most bigger groups.
Ilia returned moments later, a sly grin on her face. "So, what's gotten you into such a foul mood? Hungover, or something?"
Link hardly knew how to respond. Spilling his guts to his coworker was not exactly on his to-do list, but perhaps a female perspective to his current dilemma would prove useful. Tucking in his black, button up shirt, and tying an apron around his waist, he at length replied, "I think I might have mentioned that I really like this girl who I've been friends with since before preschool."
She laughed, before teasing with good-nature, "Who, that Zelda girl?You may have brought her up a few thousand times."
Grimacing, mostly to keep himself from flushing, he cleared his throat. "Anyway," he interjected, "I found out this afternoon that she is, like, insanely in love with me."
Ilia nodded her head gesturing for him to elaborate. "And this is a bad thing because...?"
Preparing himself for the scolding that was sure to come, he mumbled, "Well, she doesn't know that I found out by hacking into personal computer and digging through some of her files."
Wow. That sounded a lot worse than he thought it would. Ilia gaped up at him, and he could not keep himself from wincing. It was pretty bad, then. He knew that it would not help to defend himself by explaining how Sheik had put his computer in the shop, and that he was in the middle of cramming for his approaching final exams, so he kept his mouth shut. She would only see it as excuses.
"Damn, Link...and to think I was going to pity you for getting put in section three," she muttered under her breath. Ilia huffed when a couple of entrees were set in the window between the cooking area and where the servers were restricted to. She took a tray, balanced everything she could lift on top, and barked, "When I get back from running this, I'm going to explain exactly why you are the most idiotic man on the planet. Your party should be getting here soon, but don't think you can escape."
And she was off again. Link refrained himself from pouting, placing a notepad and half a dozen pens into either pockets of his black apron.
Ilia was back all too quickly, more than ready to push him out the kitchen. "I just saw a host showing your party to their table. Go greet them, and march your ass back here so I can rip you a new one."
Zelda stood at the subtle knock on the apartment door a few minutes later, quickly striding across the small space she shared with her brother, and let her friend in. Malon entered, exuding the sort of confidence that made her jealous at times, before handing over the ever-familiar make-up bag that was usually dragged around as a first aid kit to nurse broken hearts.
"Please tell me that you have some form of sugary, rot-your-teeth-out, nausea inducing junk food we can cram down our throats while you give me the scoop."
Zelda paused, before giving a weak smile. "I have a half-empty box of Hero-o's."
Malon gave her a flat stare-clearly, her favorite cereal was not going to cut it. She marched into the kitchen, clicking her tongue on the roof of her mouth after inspecting the rather barren cabinet and refrigerator. Zelda and Sheik really never kept much in the house, though, since neither particularly enjoyed cooking, and ordering take-out was much easier.
"I swear," Malon muttered, shaking her head, "you and Sheik run your place like a pair of kids. I don't think I've ever seen anything but cereal and crappy beer here."
Sheik, who was emerging from the bathroom he and Zelda shared, huffed. "I resent that," he said, crossing his arms and leaning against the wall. "Goron-made beer is better than anything domestic. I bet you haven't even tried it before."
Zelda rolled his eyes. This was not the first time Malon and Sheik had had this argument, and nor would it be the last. Surprisingly, Malon held back her retort, and instead threw him a twenty rupee note, saying, "That's great, caveman. Go get us something deep fried and smothered in chocolate, or we'll force you to listen to girly gossip and techno-pop for the next three hours."
Sheik grimaced, not needing to be told twice, because the next moment, he was grabbing his keys from the drawer, and out the door. Malon laughed, before turning to her friend and giving a sad smile. "Okay, Zel, I want you to spill everything. Who's the douche-bag, and what did he do?"
Zelda let out a long breath of air, before slumping down on the futon. The tears may have already stopped, but they could be conjured back up very easily. Malon made her way around the coffee table to sit next to her, opening the make-up box that she had placed down there a minute previous. An array of different nail polishes were taken out for approval. Zelda wordlessly selected a grayish lavender, and handed the small, glass bottle to Malon, who started to shake it.
"It's Link," she started quietly. "He knows."
Malon's hand froze, the rattling of the nail polish she was mixing up coming to a stop. "He finally figured out that you're desperately in love with him? He's not smart enough for that...who told him, then?"
Zelda looked down, not sure how precisely she should continue. She did not completely blame Link for what had happened, because she was certain he had not, at first, been trying to snoop. He had probably just needed to use a computer to study, and had not wanted to wake her stupid self. But going through her folder, even if it was named after him, had been going too far.
"You remember how I said I wanted to compile all my pictures of Link, and keep a journal?"
Her friend's eyes widened with horror, already able to tell where this was going.
"Well, he ended up finding it on my laptop. And now he knows how I feel, and I have no idea how we're even going to be friends now." Her voice cracked, and she turned away. "Link probably thinks I'm the biggest idiot in Hyrule for liking him, and I doubt he'll even talk to me again."
Malon really did want to tell her that she was wrong, and that even though Link was an brainless moron, he really did love her back, but it was not her place. He was going to have to say that himself, but in the mean time, she had an emotionally distraught friend next to her, looking about ready to smear her face into a pillow and cry a river.
So, she told her the next best thing. "No, he won't," Malon stated, pausing when Zelda gave her a dubious look, "because we're going to show him just how beautiful you are, and he'll have no choice but to fall on his knees and beg that you forgive him for being so blind all these years."
Link was not joking when he swore that his ears were starting to bleed. Ilia had done more than rip him a new one. She had flat out refused to help him bring the twenty entrees to his boisterous party of nine year olds, and had instructed the food runner on hand for the evening to do the same. So, that had left him rushing back and forth from the kitchen, and tripping over a bunch of little kids, whose parents had decided it was perfectly fine for them to run around and play tag at a restaurant.
Sometimes, he was certain there should be laws to limit how many sodas nine year olds could drink.
But his party really was not the bad part about all this. Ilia was still angry at him for being, as she put it, an inconsiderate, heartless prick. While harsh, Link had nothing to say in response. Every time they had a spare moment, she would go on about how wrong it was to read a girl's journal, even if it was about him.
After a while, Link found himself wishing he had just never brought it up, because her guilt trips were starting to kill him. What he really needed was some sound advise on what to do next. Unfortunately for him, there was no one who could give him this. For obvious reasons, Sheik did not feel like it was right to talk about his sister with him, even if he did support the idea of them becoming a couple.
And while he did have other friends, Link had a hard enough time opening up to the woman he loved, so it would be just as difficult to talk about it to any of them. At this point, it would in all likelihood, be normal to ask a father for advise. The problem with this being, of course, that Link had one of the worst relationships ever with his parental figures. While he loved his mother and father both, there was a reason he had left the house when he graduated high school, and moved into Castletown.
He and Sheik had both moved out of the house as first years in college, and naturally, Zelda had followed their example a year later. Link had a distinct impression that if it were not for the fact that he had escaped to the Hyrule University campus in Castletown, he would have only studied in college for a few semesters, before his parents found something to persuade him otherwise. They still wanted him to take over the family business, even though he had refused on several accounts.
He could hardly be blamed for not wanting to take over an auto shop his great-grandfather had opened back when only the rich had cars. Link just knew he was meant for bigger and better things, and his father was simply resentful that he had never escaped his own fate.
He sighed, running his hand through blond, disheveled hair. Ilia had even dumped her closing duties on him, leaving him with one, last comment. I hope, for your sake, that girl loves your stupid ass enough to forgive you. Then he was stuck there, refilling the salt and pepper shakers for tomorrow. He told himself that he was not ready to go home anyway, since, considering his luck, Zelda would be waiting to storm over to his apartment the minute he got back.
Maybe, if he stayed out late enough, she would give up on confronting him tonight, and head to bed. Link would give anything to just have a few hours of sleep, to rejuvenate himself, and mentally prepare. Yes, it was as Ilia said, and he would pray to the goddesses that Zelda forgive him. Link had reached a decision though, that he would stop running away.
He was going to have to get over his fear of losing her, because if he did not tell Zelda how much he really cared for her-how much he adored her-Link was going to lose her anyway. He hated to think it, but if none of this had never happened, he probably would have never gathered the courage to even consider telling her anything. He would have just continued pretending that it was just his imagination, and she would have moved on to someone else.
Placing the now full salt and pepper shakers onto a large tray, Link went back into the empty restaurant to distribute them. Telma, though she may have been owner of the establishment, was still behind the bar counter, drying the last of the glasses that had been used during the evening with a white rag. She always liked to say that she was just another part of the staff, even though she really owned everything. Link thought that Telma honestly belonged behind that counter, mixing drinks and lending an ear when a patron needed it. Despite her snarky personality, Telma really was a caring person.
Which was the likely reason for her to call out to him as he finished returning the shakers to the tables, and was headed back to the kitchen to restock the take-out boxes and plastic bags. He had to turn when she said his name, and had no choice but to meet her at the bar, when she waved him over.
"Something's bothering you, boy," she stated matter of fact. "Do you need to talk about it?"
He grinned back at her. "I'm fine, Telma. Thanks."
She was not so easily convinced. "No, you're not. Sit yourself down, and spill the beans. I'm not letting you leave tonight until you do."
"I have to restock in the back," he complained, still sitting himself on a stool.
Telma crossed her arms. "Link, I promised your father that I would keep an eye on you, and I don't care how much you've grown up in the past few years. You're still a kid in my opinion, and I intend to keep my promise."
Link had always vaguely known that Telma had been watching out for him at his parents request, but this was the first time she had ever brought it up. That was mostly, he figured, because that silly promise was not her primary reason for always sticking her neck out for him. It was Telma that had offered him a job not a week after he had moved into Castletown, and she had been the one to help him find an affordable apartment to live in. He would have ended up drowning in the big city, if it were not for her, and crawling back home to his parents as they had expected him to.
She smiled then, taking out a pair of glasses. "Now, tell me what happened. Is it a girl?"
He scoffed, looking away to hide his embarrassment at his own transparency. She laughed in good humor, though, pouring two shots of the bar's well whisky. "I don't know why you even bother asking, if you already know the answer," he smirked wistfully, twirling the contents of his glass, before downing it in a smooth swoop, the alcohol scorching the inside of his throat.
Telma laughed again, gulping her own shot. "You're no fun, Link. I think I'm beginning to understand why you're single all the time, despite your boyish, good looks." She sighed when seeing that he took her teasing much more seriously than she had intended.
She watched, concerned, when he propped his elbows on the counter to rest his forehead in the palms of hands. Regardless of his difficulty opening up, he seemed to comprehend that whatever he told her, she would not be spilling to his parents. At length, he quietly commented, "No doubt, you already know that I have feelings for Zelda." He rolled his eyes, before adding, "Hell, you probably knew she likes me back."
Telma shrugged, leaning against the shelving unit behind her. "Neither of you did a very good job of hiding it. What surprises me is that it took you so long to put the pieces together."
He was silent again, before reluctantly disclosing, "Well, I probably ruined my chances with her today."
Astonishingly enough, Telma did not question how he had wrecked his chance to date Zelda. She, no doubt, did not want to know. As far as she was concerned, how precisely Link had blown everything was irrelevant, as long as he knew how to fix the mess he created.
"I don't think so," she answered him bluntly. "That girl's feelings for you go much deeper than you realize. She will forgive you."
Link have her a bland stare. How could she say that without even knowing what he had done? Admittedly, he could of done something way worse, and it was not as if his intentions had been particularly bad, but he felt that she was putting a hell of a lot of faith in Zelda. There was one thing Link had learned over the years, though. Do not question Telma. Even if what she said made absolutely no sense.
"Are you sure?" He could not help but to ask, despite knowing she was wise beyond her years. "You don't even know what I-"
Telma raised a hand to stop him. "Boy, it doesn't really matter what you did. If you really love this girl, which I'm damn certain you do, you'll grow a backbone and do the the right thing. Just apologize."
He blinked once. And then again. "Apologize?" He repeated. Link was well aware that women were complex and confusing creatures, so surely the solution was not so simplistic. There had to be some sort of secret, hidden message for him to decode, or an unspoken expectation that he was missing. "Is that really it?"
"Apologize first, and then tell her how you feel." Thoughtfully, she went on to say, "But wait until tomorrow. Clean yourself up, dress in something that isn't tattered and on its last leg, and by the goddesses, brush your hair. Think about what you're going to say, don't just blurt it out. Do this, and I promise, you'll have yourself a hot date."
He nodded his head; it at least sounded like solid advice.
She smiled then, seeing his eyes brighten up again with new determination, before snapping at him, "Good! If you've gotten over yourself, get your ass back in the kitchen and finish your closing duties!"
He snickered, giving her a teasing solute, before standing. "Thanks, Telma."
"Don't be going sappy on me boy, I'm not going to hug you," she teased, pausing as he turned, before quietly saying, "but, you're welcome."
She was just glad she was able to work her bartender magic. It was hard to see Link in a bad mood.
"Malon, this is a bad idea."
Her friend, however, was too busy sitting Zelda down on Link's ratty, beige couch. "Cross your legs," she commanded, taking a step back to scrutinize her arrangement.
The skirt Zelda was wearing rode up as she followed Malon's order, showing much more of her thighs than she was comfortable with. She sighed, almost starting to regret calling Malon for help. She had wanted some cheering up, not a master plan to get laid.
"I look like a painted-up whore," she said at last, shimmying her skirt down to cover more. "He's just going to think that I'm desperate."
"No, he won't," Malon replied through grit teeth, curling a loose strand of hair behind Zelda's ear. "All his brain will be capable of processing is that you're the sexiest thing alive, and how many steps there are to his bed."
How was Zelda supposed to explain that sex was not necessarily what she wanted at the moment? Sure, she could probably seduce him, but when he woke up in the morning, after what would have been the single, most amazing night of her short, pathetic life, he would regret being so impulsive. While confronting Link was a good idea, she did not want to do it when she felt like a slut, and could barely stand in the heels Malon had given her. Besides, had she not explained to Malon that Link hated it when people wore shoes in his apartment? He hated vacuuming any more than he already had to.
Apparently, that did not matter as much as how great the shoes made her ankles and calves look. She did not want Link to think she was superficial by dressing up for him now that he knew how she felt. He was used to seeing her in sweatpants and an oversized tee, not a revealing skirt and blouse. She was aware that Malon was just trying to help her, but Zelda was beginning to think that she should try to figure this mess out on her own.
"I'm not really trying to get Link in the sack, Malon," she at length sighed, unstrapping the heels her feet were squeezed into, and standing in an upright position again. "I agree that I need to talk to him about how I feel, but not like this. This is about more than just sleeping with him."
"Zelda, trust me. That's all men think about. It'll be a hell of a lot easier to get him through his dick than through his heart."
Zelda's retort was just as speedy. "If sex is all he'll be interested in, then I don't want it. Call me a sap, but I need something more from him, and if he can only give me part of that, than I would rather get nothing at all."
Malon gave her a long, hard stare. Frowning, she conceded. "As long as you aren't wimping out on me. If you don't want to bang Link tonight, that's your problem...but I just want to make sure you aren't trying to back out. I really do hope that things work out between you and him."
Zelda rolled her eyes. "Trust me, I wouldn't dream of wimping out on you," she replied with a laugh. Even though Malon had been trying to get her laid, maybe dressing up in pretty clothes, and doing her hair and make-up had not been completely pointless. Zelda felt strangely refreshed, as if she was done playing dress-up, and now she was ready to be a big girl.
She would never be as confident as Malon was, but she certainly felt a little better about her seemingly bleak situation. After all, what reason did Link have to turn her down? She hated to toot her own horn, but she was a pretty girl, and knew him better than his own family. They had been close friends for years, and because of that, he had to know that above all else, she wanted him to be happy.
Especially if that meant being with her.
It had been a long day. It was nearly one in the morning, by the time he had parked his bike in the apartment building lot. He somehow managed to trudge to the elevator, which he usually did not use, since he lived on the second floor and it was actually faster to take the stairs. He walked down the ever familiar hallway to his flat, digging through his deep pockets for his house keys.
The only problem with this being, of course, that his apartment was already unlocked. Most people would assume that this fact could only mean that he was being robbed, but Link knew better. If he opened that door, he was going to find Zelda behind it.
He pressed his ear to the door, soft sounds of a gameshow host's voice only just perceivable through the wood. Which meant she was on his couch, watching television. Link swallowed, realizing there was no way to avoid this. Sure, he could make a mad dash back to the elevator, hop back on his bike, and find the cheapest motel in town, but she would only be even more pissed at him.
Besides, what reason did he have to run away? He liked her, and she liked him. They were just being idiots about it.
Link threw open the door and walked through the threshold, kicking off his shoes as he did so. Predictably enough, there she was, in a tank-top and plaid, pajama bottoms, with her legs criss-crossed, on his couch. Damn her for being the most beautiful creature alive. She wordlessly shut off his television set, tied her long hair up in a sloppy bun, and stood.
He was busy pretending to be as aloof as his character allowed, tossing his keys and cell phone on the counter. In reality, there was a nest of bees in his stomach, buzzing around and threatening to sting him. He made a sly approach to the bathroom, hoping maybe he could escape in there for ten minutes to shower and change into a clean set of clothing.
"Link," she called out to him, her voice deceptively calm, "we need to talk."
Wincing he turned to face her. Nothing on her face betrayed her anger with him, but he was certain it was hiding somewhere below the surface. He remembered about what Telma had said earlier, about waiting for tomorrow, but the chances of that happening anymore were slim.
Still, it was worth a shot. "Do you think we could talk about this in the morning, Zellie?"
As he had suspected she would, Zelda shook her head. She was putting her foot down. "No, we can't. We can talk about this now."
Link sighed. "Of course not," he mumbled to himself, "how silly of me."
He returned to the kitchen to dig in his refrigerator for something besides Red Chu and milk that was going to expire soon. Zelda had hopped onto the counter to watch him, and realizing he was struggling, told him, "If you're doing that for my sake, I'm fine with just a glass of water."
She almost laughed when he pressed his mouth together in a straight line of exasperation. Link opened one of his cabinets to a medley of coffee mugs and drinking glasses, none of which matched or were part of a set. He could see from the corner of his eye that she was continuing to smile. Was there hope for him, after all? He grabbed two plastic cups, one of which he had gotten at a baseball game, and the other actually belonging to Zelda-she had brought it over at some point, and it had never made its way back to her place.
Filling them both at the sink, he handed one to her, taking the other for himself, and jumping up on the counter opposite of where hers was, on a small island. "Okay," he said quietly. "Let's talk."
As always, she was painfully blunt. But it was simply just part of her charm-Link would never want to change even a hair on her pretty, little head. "What were you doing, rummaging through my personal files?"
He frowned, already predicting how this would end. First, she would interrogate him using whatever torturous subjects she had at her disposal, mostly inflicting guilt on his person. He would made his argument, that would be mostly ignored, and she would decide that she was right, and he was wrong. There would be another guilt trip, and then she would stomp back to her own apartment so that he could think about what he's done.
At least, that was how it usually went when either he or Sheik had made some fatal mistake by treading her sensitive toes. This was different though. In this case, he had gone out of his own way to stomp on her feet.
He was outright in his answer. "To be perfectly honest, I was shocked. And curious."
She was displeased with his frankness, he was certain, by how her lower lip jutted out in a delectable pout. "That doesn't give you any right to just do what you want. If I had wanted you to see something on my computer, I would have shown you."
"Like you wouldn't have done the same thing, if you had found a file on my computer labeled with your name."
His tone surprised her. Link was not, in any way, intimidated by the situation he found himself in. She did not scare him. Zelda could not decide if that was a good thing or not. All she knew was that he was hardly being fair...as if he would ever have a file on his computer dedicated to her. The fact that he had the gall to even suggest it infuriated her-it was not as if he felt anything for her, and to imply that possibility was too cruel.
"That's not the same!" She blurted back, crossing her arms. "I put that all together because I like you, Link. I like you a lot. And I can't ask you to take that seriously, because I know that I'm just the little sister you never had, but don't pretend that you could ever understand how I feel."
He glared at her. Link actually glared at her, as if she were mistaken. Why would he be so insulted by the truth? She hardly had the opportunity to ponder this, because he was going to tell her exactly what about she said upset him.
Link scooted down from the counter top, and crossed the small kitchen with a look of determination. Fine-if this was what she thought of him, then he had no choice to but to show her just how off target she actually was. He grasped one of her dainty, chilled hands, squeezing it to share some of his warmth, before staring intensely back up at her.
"Yes," he replied at length, "You were like a sister to me." She looked about ready to jump right then, and rub in the fact she was right about something, but he did not give her the chance. "The sister that, as a socially awkward senior in high school, I wanted to take to prom with me, but was too afraid to ask. The sister that, when I stayed up late into the night, I dedicated a bunch of cheesy love songs I've written, to, because she's my muse. The sister that, at that Golden Goddess Day party, I wanted to get caught kissing with, but was too stupid to do the right thing."
Her breath hitched in her throat. Link did not look away when the tears started to cascade down her reddened cheeks. "You can't be serious," she murmured, trying to take her hand back from him. "This joke isn't funny."
"No," he agreed, "it isn't." Link inched closer, her knees pressing into his chest. "But it isn't a joke."
She met his gaze directly to realize he was telling the truth, and she could only feel shame. She accused him of blindness and insensitivity, when she was really no better. Words failed her, and Zelda responded to this declaration in the only way her boggled mind could comprehend. Still crying, she bent over to wrap her slender arms around his neck, and smoothed her lips against his.
He hummed softly, bringing her closer in his powerful hold, and giving her one, last look before her eyelids slid shut in euphoria, showing his resolve. She was his now, and she could be damned certain that he was not going to let her escape.
Zelda found that she was perfectly content with this idea.
AN: First off, I would just like to say, I have been playing around with this fic for too long, and I've just reached a point where I don't have much I can do to it. I'm not completely satisfied with the ending, but I give up. I rewrote it two or three times, and these are the results of that. Hopefully it wasn't absolute crap.
Another thing! So, in the last ZeLink fic I wrote, Goat Herder, an anonymous reviewer who signed as "meow" offered to beta for me! I don't really have any way to communicate with him/her, but if they could send me a PM, that would be great. Because I've been needing a beta for a long time, and I'm thinking of starting a ZeLink chapter fic. That would be awesome. :)
As always, I appreciate the reviews. Thank you for reading. :D