(So I've just started playing PH, and I only passed the first dungeon. I've read up on the plot of the game so I know enough about it, but if I get any details wrong, I'm sorry. ^^; And this is NOT yaoi; I do not in anyway condone that pairing, and I won't tolerate comments about it being shipping. It's friendship, family, if you will. As I see Linebeck being an awkwardly father figure. Anyway, hope I kept everyone to character, and enjoy~)
"Link, that looks like it really hurts," Ciela commented with a nervous edge to her voice as she examined the small gash on the boy's arm.
His legs shaking and scraped, Link shrugged as he picked up his sword and wiped the monster's blood off it. He had been in the temple of the Ocean King several times before; it was all routine, really. He knew all the monsters. At least he thought he did.
He had been searching for clues to the Ghost Ship in a small, hidden tunnel in the wall when a beast lunged at him. It looked to be some form of a hybrid. It had the pointed ears of a bat, and long gangly body of a snake, along with needle sharp fangs and claws.
He had warded off the nightmare seconds before it snapped his fairy companion in its jaws. Link managed to stick a sword through its abdomen, but not before the beast gave him a wicked slash across his arm.
"It's really not that bad," the boy tried to assure his friend, wincing at the pain that pulsed through his limb. "I mean, it's sore, but...it's really just a scratch." He feigned a poor grin at Ciela, whom he could tell was glaring at him.
"Well, we should have Linebeck take a look at it anyway. And he'll decide if it's just a scratch."
The walk back was harder than the boy thought it'd be. He felt such a sporadic bout of fatigue, but merely chalked it up to the dungeons. They were exhausting, after all, and he'd been in there for nearly five hours searching the walls—thankfully staying away from where the curse began.
"Link, you look really sick," Ciela commented as the boy dizzily made his way up the ramp, to the ship. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, really," the hero hissed back, getting annoyed with the young fairy's neurotic concern. "I mean, I'm tired! Wouldn't you be if you were in a dungeon all day?"
"I was in a dungeon all day," Ciela deadpanned.
Link's arm was burning more than he could remember an injury every doing so as he shakily pushed open Linebeck's door. As usual, the captain had his back turned and his face buried into his maps.
"Linebeck?" Link croaked out. The inside of his mouth suddenly felt like sandpaper, there wasn't a drop of saliva on his tongue. "Linebeck, I don't feel well."
The old man barely gave him much more than a glance before spinning back to his maps, and taking a rupee out of his chest, examining it. "I know I shouldn't be picky about the kind of treasure you find in a dungeon, but maybe you could try bringing back rupees that aren't scratched and chipped? I doubt these are worth much!"
"Linebeck!" Ciela shouted, her tone taking that sharp growl it always did when she didn't want to deal with him. "Link doesn't feel well!"
"Well what am I supposed to do about it?" the captain scoffed. "We're out of potions right now, and I'm not a doctor. He should go lay down."
"He's got a scratch..."
Linebeck rolled his eyes and looked at the boy in disdain. "Kid, how many monsters do you battle. and you're complaining about a little scratch? Trust me, you're fine. Scratches are just battle scars, you get them when you fight." He scowled again and waved them off with his hand, as if he was shooing away a pesky fly. "Go drink some water or something if you don't feel good. You're most likely just tired. Now I have a lot of work to do, so beat it!"
Ciela muttered crossly to herself about the insensitive captain as Link slowly shut the door. He gazed down at his arm, which had turned pink around the rim of the cut.
"I guess he's really busy..."
"Yeah, with counting his treasure," Ciela said snidely. "He didn't even look at your arm!"
"Well he knows way more than we do, so if he says it's just a scratch I'm sure I'll be just fine." Link ignored the twinge of burning with every movement, thankful that his cot wasn't too far away from him. He couldn't walk very much right now.
Ciela pursed her lips in concern and doubt of the boy's reassurance as she watched him literally collapse onto the bed. He was asleep within moments, but Ciela herself stayed ever vigilant of him and hovered around his head for the next hour.
It had to be about midnight by the time thunder woke Ciela. The lantern was out by Link's bedside, and it was pitch black. Something was gasping, which sent chills up the fairy's form. For a moment she thought some creature was in the room with them, until she realized the gasps were coming from below her.
"Have I...saved Tetra yet?" the blonde mumbled out, hardly coherent.
This wasn't good. Ciela was young herself, but she was intelligent enough to realize something was very wrong. Link wasn't sleep talking. Trying to keep her hysterics from bubbling over, she hurriedly flew out of the room.
"Linebeck!" she cried, banging on the sleeping captain's door until it opened a creak. "Linebeck, wake up!" The man was sprawled over his desk, out cold. Undaunted, the fairy banged into his back several times. "Linebeck!"
Having no luck prior to waking the sleeping captain, Ciela angrily slammed into several pots hanging from a shelf above. The utensils slammed into Linebeck's desk, and caused him to jolt awake with a rather un-manly shriek.
"What was that for, Sparkles?!" he shouted angrily at the floating ball of glitter, who was frantically buzzing around his head. An iota of sternness went away and was replaced with a deeper, reluctant frown when he heard sobs coming from the little creature.
"Something is really wrong with Link!"
"What—oh yeah, I know the kid isn't feeling well, I told him to lay down an hour ago." He waved the fairy away dismissively, intending to get back to the charts he was studying—then Ciela bumped into the back of his head. "What?!"
"Something is really wrong with him!"
The shrill panic to her voice got his attention immediately. His eyes flew open in fear, as calm and indifferent as he tried to make himself seem. Ciela was notorious for panicking, but this...was something entirely new.
He grumbled as he shoved his chair in and followed her to Link's cabin below deck. "If I get there and he has nothing worse than a cold, I swear I'll make you..." His voice trailed off as he heard the haunting sounds of struggled gasps, as if the child was at the surface of the ocean, drowning. He threw open the door and bolted inside.
"Kid?! Kid, are you alright?!" He lightly shook him. "Answer me!" Link lay there like a rag doll in his hold; a sweaty, trembling little rag doll, with hardly any life to him.
"KID!" The boy didn't even flutter open an eye. Even as Linebeck gripped his clothed arms, he felt the heat burn through. The hero had an impossible fever.
Ciela fluttered ahead sobbing while the captain just stared, his eyes darting over the child, trying to fathom how he had gone from seeming a little nauseous and totally coherent, to this. "How did this happen? Why didn't you tell me sooner?!"
The fairy's sobs silenced, as she darted to him in rage, inches away from his face as she shouted, "I TRIED TO! WE BOTH DID!"
And his mind flashed back to a few hours ago, when the boy came to him complaining he wasn't feeling well. He hadn't even examined the injury, he hadn't even bandaged it, he just sent the boy off to bed with some water and hurried back to chart his maps for treasure.
Linebeck slid his eyes shut in guilt. This was his fault. If he'd just paid more attention to the boy, he could have caught this sooner.
The captain flung off the boy's sheets and pulled up his soaked sleeve. It was crusted with blood and sweat, and Linebeck nearly fainted when he saw what his negligence had lead to. Link's entire arm was pink and inflamed—from his elbow to his shoulder blade. There was even a bit creeping up his neck. The mere gash on his arm had swollen considerably, and oozed and unpleasant liquid now and then. Poison.
A dim, panicky feeling rose in him when he realized he couldn't cure this. He didn't have anything, not even any potions left; they were supposed to stop off at a town tomorrow and re-stock. There was nothing he had but an endless supply of salt water. That wouldn't do much considering the stage the poison was at now.
Mercay Island wasn't far from here, but they wouldn't reach it in time. Link had an hour at most, perhaps even less. With how vicious the rain was now, it would be impossible to see through the mist. They'd never make it that far in this weather, and Linebeck wasn't sure where the closest town was.
"Kid, can you hear me?!" Linebeck shouted, watching as Link finally shifted and gave a tired moan. "Does your arm hurt?"
"No..." the boy's voice was barely audible, nothing more than a croak. "It doesn't hurt...it's just a scrape."
Linebeck didn't even bother to correct the 'little scrape' part. "You don't feel any pain?"
"I don't feel...anything."
His arm was inflamed with infection and he didn't feel anything. Linebeck knew enough about poison to know this wasn't a good sign.
"What do we do?" Ciela sobbed. "He's really sick, isn't he? Is he gonna die?!"
"No, he's not going to die, you annoying gnat, let me think!" There was no way he was letting the kid die when this was all his fault. "Keep an eye on him!" He hurried out of the cabin and back to Starboard. It was raining harder by this point, but Lineback didn't even bother to grab a slicker as he dashed to the steering wheel.
"There's an island somewhere around here. It doesn't have a town, but I know it has some life and civilization to it. There has to be a doctor somewhere," he muttered to himself. It would be a longer trip than usual, as he was going against the aggressive waves of the storm. They weren't malicious enough to pose a danger, but they were enough to slow them down and Link definitely didn't have much time...
"Kid!" Linebeck called to the sick boy, wondering if the child was lucid enough to answer. Or walk. "I found an island, I think there's a doctor here that can help you! We need to get you out of here, you can lean on me." The response was no better than if he were talking to a wall.
Linebeck pursed his lips and gently tugged the blanket out from under the kid. He folded it around Link and carefully swaddled him to protect him from the rain, and make him easier to carry. He ignored how much his mind protested it and scooped up the little boy.
He was heavier than Linebeck thought he would be, a complete, dead weight. The man tried to push away the notion that he was cradling a young child against his chest like an infant, and tried to ignore the strange feelings as he closed the cabin door behind him.
"Get a lantern," he ordered Ciela. "I don't know how useful you'd be carrying anything, but you'll have to try. We need something to see through the mist."
Knowing the life of her friend depended on them getting to the doctor propelled Ciela's strength to be able to carry the lantern. Linebeck held Link close and made his way onto shore. They stumbled into the wet, slippery sand. It was nothing more than mud, that tried to suck his boots in. Everything was trying to slow them down, everything was against them.
Ciela faltered with the lamp, and she was about to drop it, Linebeck could tell.
"Hold on tight to it," the captain ordered sharply, "It's the only way we can see through the dark. Of course, your body provides a nice light source as well."
He squinted in the dark, pressing Link to his chest and trying to ignore the scalding heat radiating from his skin even through the tunic and thick blankets. "I've been to this island before. I think there's a doctor right up that hill!"
The captain slipped in the mud trying to dash up to slope, and he fell several times, getting his precious coat covered in filth, but he paid it no heed, and was only concentrated on keeping the ill child in his arms from falling.
Reaching the building, Linebeck banged on the door in desperation, until a dim light could be seen through the window. A disgruntled figure eventually came to view, peering out in anger and exhaustion.
"We need help!" Linebeck called insistently, angrily. "I've got a sick kid! He needs help right now!" Someone finally came to the door, and barely peeked out, still glaring with tired eyes that didn't realize the direness of everything.
"Please let us in," Ciela feebly pleaded. "There's a little boy who's only hope is you. Take him, please, I know it's late, but he doesn't have much time!"
The door didn't open, and the captain was about to lose all hope when at last, it creaked open, and Link was whisked from his arms.
"What happened?" the doctor demanded gruffly, becoming more awake and alert the more he looked over the boy.
"I think he was poisoned or something. His arm started to swell up—I thought it was just a scratch. I don't know how he got it."
"We-we were in the temple of the Ocean King," Ciela stammered. "Something attacked him; it was like...half bat, half snake."
The doctor's eyes shot open in horrified recognition. "A hybrid," he mumbled, pulling the child's cracked lips apart enough to pour the contents of a small bottle. "They're very rare and dangerous, and they live in only dark caves. Or in this case, an old temple."
"Whatever," Linebeck rushed gruffly, "Can you help him?"
"Well, I'll do what I can, but..."The doctor's face instantly became grave; the kind of face doctors wore when they were about to deliver heart shattering news. He passed his hand over the boy's mouth and nose. There was no life left to this child.
"What do you mean you're sorry?" Linebeck snapped, a lot more fierce than he meant to. He gave the doctor a confused leer, but before he could say anything else, a small bundle was laid in his arms. The doctor laid Link in his arms.
The child wasn't moving. His chest didn't rise, and he wasn't gasping. He just...lay there, his head limp over the captain's knee. He heard Ciela behind him whisper "no", and then the sobs began, more hysterical than before. He himself just sat there holding the child. He was holding a child...a dead child.
It was so wrong, so frightening, and yet he wasn't able to put the boy down, his eyes just focused on the lifeless form. Slowly, a hand raised and held the child's head, to keep it from flopping.
"I..." He didn't even feel sad, or angry. There wasn't a tear in his eye. He could just only stare with wide eyes. "I'm...sorry. I'm sorry, Sparkles." The fairy's sobs grew louder, and Linebeck's emotions shifted. All he felt now...was failure.
It was perhaps his greatest failure yet, even if he had failed to save others from dying before, this was so much worse. He let a child die. A young, innocent little boy that was only starting his hectic life. From what Linebeck gathered, Link never even had a chance to be his age. He was never able to be a child where his only worry were what games he'd play that day. He was the world's hero. He grew up too fast. There was never time to be a kid.
...And every chance he did get Linebeck shot down, and broke the boy's spirit. He remembered when he saw Link swabbing the deck the other day, and he pretended to have a sword fight with Celia with it. He snapped at them, telling them to knock it off, take things seriously...and grow up.
Link's innocence had been taken from him long ago, and Linebeck had a factor in why he could never just be normal.
Why couldn't he have just listened earlier when the boy was complaining? Why couldn't he have pulled his nose away from his damn maps long enough to realize something was really wrong! If he had he would have saved him! And now because of him...there was no longer a hero to protect them. And Bellum would never be stopped.
The sweat from the boy's face matted his hair into his eyes, and Linebeck pushed away the bangs, hoping it'd get some movement from the child. But it didn't. Ciela, by this point had stopped inconsolably sobbing and he felt her wing touch his shoulder. He angrily batted her away and finally set the boy down on the hospital mat. Then he left the hospital and stood out in the rain.
He gazed up to the sky, feeling the drops of liquid splash into his face, and pour down it. It almost felt like tears.
He slid into a sitting position, with his legs crouched, and his arms around them. He gazed despondently into the rain, before his eyes shut.
That little kid that he always called a nuisance was never going to open his eyes again. He'd never prattle off the captain's ear with stories he never acted like he cared about, he'd never hang around the captain wanting to help with the sea charts, or just be around him. He'd be alone on his ship again. He doubt Sparkles would want to hang around him, and they hated each other anyway.
Linebeck tried to comprehend why being on his own bothered him so much. He had no problem being alone. He was alone for so long; no one ever wanted his company, so he got used to being without anyone. He was a stingy, greedy and cowardly old man that no one wanted to know. But this little kid did.
The captain bit his lip when he felt his eyes stinging and felt a lump in this throat. Before he could do anything stupid like cry, the hospital door swung open, and Ciela burst out screaming, "LINEBECK, COME IN HERE!"
He started to snarl at the fairy to get lost through what he could of his closed up throat, but she persistently tugged on him until he finally complied. And he couldn't believe what he saw when he got in there.
Link was laying on the cot, breathing. His eyes were fluttering in exhaustion and he winced as he tried to sit up—up until the doctor told him to lay back down. Linebeck couldn't believe it. The boy was alive!
"...KID!" he blurted, with far more excitement and joy than he meant to come out. He rushed to the child's bedside, falling to his knees beside him in shock. "Kid, you're...you're alive!"
The doctor turned to the captain with a smile. "He's responding to the antidote, and the potion. But the potion will only help with healing, it won't work like a miracle. He'll need a lot of care until he's well." He cleared his throat, and then leaned into the captain's face. "How could you let him get like this?! How irresponsible can you be?!"
Still emotional over everything, Linebeck found he couldn't respond, his mouth only opening and closing like a fish as he shook. "Well, I...I mean..."
"Hey!" To the captain's utter shock, Ceila flitted angrily in front of the doctor. "You don't know the entire story, so don't blame Linebeck when you don't even understand!"
Astonished, the man looked up at the little fairy. Before he could say a word, she pressed against his chest affectionately, in what he assumed to be a hug. "Thanks for saving him..."
He turned back to Link, who, against the doctor's orders, had managed to get in a sitting up position. He just stared at the boy at first, still trying to process how the pale, lifeless child he held in his arms mere minutes ago was awake...and smiling at him.
"Linebeck..." Link's smile fell into a confused and concerned frown. "Have you been crying?"
"What?" the captain spluttered. "Don't be stupid, it was raining!" Thank the goddesses he actually could blame the wet tracks on his face on the rain. But...he couldn't really blame his puffy eyes on it. "You, uh... Are you feeling okay now?"
The boy gave a wayward smile and a shrug—before wincing at the movement. "My arm is a little sore, and my mouth feels dry." He thanked the doctor as he passed him a glass of water.
Linebeck cleared his throat. It was still clogged and his nose still felt plugged. He gave a subtle sniffle. "You were really sick, and I didn't... I mean I wasn't sure if you'd... I thought..." He cursed himself, not knowing how or wanting to articulate how frightened he had been. He took a deep, shaky breath, eyes shutting. "Don't...don't you ever do that again." His voice warbled, and he looked down when he felt a little hand on his arm. Link smiled up at him softly, his eyes sympathetic and grateful.
The innocent, child-like touch shifted something deep in the man's heart, and he returned a smile. Quickly, he cleared his throat in embarrassment. "I mean, that's what happens when you're not careful enough in your little dungeons!"
Ciela spun to him, and even though Linebeck couldn't see her face, he knew she was giving him a death glare. He sighed heavily.
"I'm...I'm sorry, I know this was my fault. I should have listened to you when you said you weren't feeling well." He shuffled slightly on his feet. "You told me you felt sick, and I just brushed you off."
Again, the boy smiled. "It's okay, Linebeck."
Around this point in an apology the man would normally wave everything else off. He had forgiveness, there was no need to dwell on anything (plus he hated admitting he was wrong), but he knew he had to say something. His carelessness almost cost the child his life. "No, it isn't okay. I keep forgetting that even though you're this big-name hero that goes in dungeons and stuff...you're still young. You need someone to look after you, and I haven't done that enough."
The little hero gave an endearing, boyish pout. "I'm old enough to take care of myself! I don't need anyone looking after me."
"Yes you do," the captain said sternly. "I mean...not with everything—there's a lot of stuff you can do on your own, but someone should be there to make sure you're healthy and safe, and, well, not dying of poisoning," he mumbled, his eyes going downcast to the ground. He felt Link reach out to him again, but he quickly moved away. He didn't want pity, and from Link, he didn't deserve it.
"Well, he should be alright in a few days. He'll need some care though," the doctor said. "Keep him in bed, keep potions nearby if he needs it. And clean that cut thoroughly with some medicine and salt water...which you should have enough of."
Linebeck ignored the way the boy held his arm protectively at the thought of stinging medicine, and nodded. "Will do." He turned to the boy. "Alright, you good to walk back to the ship?" He watched the poor kid try climbing to his feet, only to sprawl back onto the cot.
The captain bit the inside of his lip. This was going to be more awkward with him awake, and knowing how cuddly the boy liked to be at times, that would just double the awkwardness. Sure enough, the moment he scooped up the boy, he turned and put his arms around his neck with difficulty. His head rested against the man's chest, where his heart beat. His eyes shut in exhaustion.
Linebeck stood there, stiff as a statue. The feeling was foreign, but surprisingly not un-welcomed. He didn't bother telling the boy to let go of him as they made their way back out to the ship.
"Link, you can't just sneak by him."
"I can try."
"But he'll catch you..."
"Oh please, it's Linebeck, he won't care if I have a little scrape."
"What are you two whispering about?" the captain griped, lifting his head from where it was—as usual—buried into his map. He turned to see the kid nervously shuffle into the cabin, a leg crossed over the other one. Linebeck raised his eyebrow. "What, do you have to go to the bathroom or something?" Ciela laughed.
"No, it's nothing. Just wanted to let you know I got back from the temple, and now I'm going out on deck with Ciela."
The captain waved him off dismissively and went back to his map, but something quickly clicked and he grabbed the kid by the back of his tunic, spinning him so he'd see his scowl. "Wait a minute, I don't think so! You got hurt, didn't you?" The defeated boy uncrossed his legs, revealing a small, bleeding scrape. "Oh that's nothing some medicine won't fix."
"Medicine hurts," Link couldn't help but whine as he was literally dragged off by his collar. Linebeck laughed over the absurdity of someone that faced monsters and horrific demons daily being afraid of some medicine.
"It does, but it's better this than blood poisoning. We don't want that to ever happen again." He uncorked a bottle, pausing when he saw the boy smiling at him, and knew Ciela was definitely smirking. "Uh...I mean, I don't want to take time out of my search for treasure to take you to a hospital again, it's annoying!" Both boy and fairy rolled their eyes, but Linebeck ignored them as he trickled some medicine on the cut.
Suppressing a whimper as the cut was cleaned and firmly wrapped in a bandage, Link hopped to his feet, and the confused captain watched him scurry up on deck.
"Ciela, let's continue our Duel Of The Mops!" the little hero exclaimed, and his enthusiasm was easily followed by his companion, who joined him on the deck.
"Kid..." Linebeck started to growl, but quickly changed his mind. "Uhh...just make sure you put those mops back when you're done with them."
The child spun to the captain, a hopeful lilt in his eye. "Linebeck, want to play?"
Instantly, Linebeck scoffed without thinking. "What do I look like to you, a captain or a five year old? I don't have time for such childish games!" Immediately, he regretted his rash response as he watched the smile quickly fall from Link's face; Linebeck could almost see his proverbial little heart breaking.
Link turned to trudge up to the deck, but before he could, something light thumped him in the back from behind. He spun around to see Linebeck standing there, holding a mop in his hands out like a sword. A large grin spread across the boy's face. "But I thought you had no time for games, you said."
"I don't," Linebeck responded, "But maybe that's the problem." He looked over his mop. "So how do you play?"
The boy gave him a mischievous grin. "This is how!" And promptly, lightly bonked him in the head with the weapon.
Linebeck yelped as the mop struck him, and it was followed by several more, as he raised his arm for coverage. "Augh, I wasn't ready! Sparkles, Sparkles, help me!" He yelped as the fairy dove at him, playfully dive bombing him in the forehead over and over. "Stop it! Aaaugh, time out, come on!"
He fumbled clumsily with the mop, which only led to the merciless little monsters hitting him more with their weapons, until finally the captain ended up tumbling back, and bringing Link down with him. He yelped as he slammed into the deck of the ship, with the little squirt sprawled over his stomach. Before he could snap at the boy, both Ciela and Link started laughing, and all hopes to scold them died on his tongue. But even as his mouth threatened to twitch, he fought to keep a scowl on.
He still had a reputation to uphold, after all.