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(Toon) Link's Logbook

Chapter Text

 I was nervous.

 I arrived at the tournament grounds with my luggage under my arms. It was very hot that day and I could feel sweat drip from the roots of my hair down to my neck. Thank Hylia I had my power bracelets on to ease the weight. I set them down and took in everything around me so I wouldn’t get lost. 

 The realm was quite big. There were about four or five big buildings, a neighborhood area, and a small town not too far from here. I spotted a sign with the building names and studied it carefully- my letter said I was supposed to “check-in” at the main lobby. So, I picked up my luggage and headed toward the lobby building.

 Compared to the others, this building was a medium size. It was a pure white color with tall columns supporting the archway. Inside, the floor was checkered with black and white marble and a large gold emblem in the middle of the room. The emblem was a circle with a cross slashed through it- the same as the wax stamp on my letter. There were two fountains on either side of the lobby, spurting clear and clean water. I couldn’t meet people with my face so sweaty so I did what any rational person would do and splashed my face with the fountain water. It was so refreshing!

 “Hello! Are you… ‘Toon Link’…?”

 I jumped and swung my head to look for the voice, dripping water on to the floor.

 I was so nervous!

 “Oh, you are! You are! You are! Goody!”

 It was a man in red with a very impressive mustache. He went up to me and patted my back. He introduced himself as ‘Mario’ and helped me with my bags.

 “So, where do you come from, Toon Link?”

 I didn’t answer. I hate that name. ‘Toon Link’. I understand why they call me that, but it is a stupid name. An ugly name. It’s hard to answer to, but I suppose I’ll have to accept it for now.

 Mario waited for a few minutes but soon gave up and said, “I understand that you are shy but you’ll make lots of friends here! Everyone is very nice. I’m sure you’ll get along with your housemates and the other boys!”

 

We arrived at the house I was staying at and he carried my luggage upstairs and placed them down in my room. With a quick tip of his red hat and a “see you tonight”, he walked away.

 

 My room… my very own room. I didn’t have to share with anyone else.

  The walls were painted a light green with a small window overlooking the neighbor’s house. Below the window lay a small couch and my bed to the left of it. I sat on it, testing out it’s softness. It was like laying on a cloud. I gave it a sniff and it smelt clean, like the laundry Gramma would wash. I almost fell asleep but snapped out of it and unpacked my things.

  I placed my logbook, Aryll’s telescope, and my pirate charm nearby my pillow. I plan to write about my days here in the logbook Tetra got me. I think she stole it, but it’s the thought that counts. She ordered me to write about all my adventures so I could tell her about them when she is bored at sea. Right now, they are looking for New Hyrule. Every night, I hope they travel safely.

 While I was finished unpacking, I noticed something tan and ovalish under the bed. I reached into the dark abyss and pulled the thing out. It had dust all over it, but I could make out a green ring around it’s mouthpiece. Whoever had this room before me, must have left it behind. I placed it carefully in the top drawer of my dresser. I plan on asking the people in this house if they know who it belongs to.

 


 I had to be at the Great Hall for the Welcome Ceremony before sunset. Luckily, it was not too hard to find since it was the biggest building from the rest. It was roughly three stories tall and looked as if it could fit about seven of Tetra’s pirate ships.

 

 I was jotting down notes about the neighborhood so I would not get lost when suddenly, I bumped into someone. I nearly poked my eye out with the pencil, thanks to him! I fell onto my back and something broke my fall. It didn’t do a very good job.

 “Gah! Are you okay?! I’m so sorry!! Lemme help you up!”

  I opened my eyes to a hand stretched out in front me and I stared up at him angrily. The boy had dark hair that matched his eyes and a pudgy face. He wore a worried look on his face and seemed to be in a rush to get to the ceremony as well. I grabbed his hand and he pulled me up.

  Then, he smiled at me. I saw it only for a second. But, it was a… haunting and somewhat charming smile.

 He patted my shoulder, “I’m real sorry, buddy! I gotta go!”

 Rubbing my back and straightening myself up, I tried to get another glimpse of the guy, but I only saw a yellow bag vanish in front of my eyes.

 He never told me his name. What an asshole.

 Then again… I was the one who ran into him so maybe I’M the asshole.

 The thing that ‘broke’ my fall was a red and blue cap. I guessed it belonged to that guy so I held onto it for him in my spoils bag. That way he’d come back and I’d give him a piece of my mind!

 With everything I was finding today, I felt like a lost-and-found.

 


  I made it inside the building with a few minutes to spare.

 

  As I was looking for my seat, I noticed a boy sitting at a table all by himself. He had light blond hair and small freckles that dotted his face like stars. He was watching the candle wax drip down the stick in front of him. Feeling pity for him, I made a move to introduce myself.

 But while approached him and began to produce a greeting, the boy said in a flat voice, “Hi. My name is Lucas,” without breaking eye contact with the flame. It was almost like he had magic powers!

 “You can sit down,” He patted a chair next to him, “It’ll start any moment now.”

 

 I put my spoils bag around the back of the chair and sat beside him. There was a long silence between us until I finally managed to croak out some words.

 “…Wh… ahem… Why are you sitting alone?”

 “I’m not anymore,” Lucas smiled at me, “What’s your name?”

 “Link. It’s Link. That’s my real name. But here… You’ll have to call me ‘Toon Link’.”

 “Alright, Toon Link. The ceremony is about to begin but I want to say it’s nice to meet you!”

 “Yes… It’s nice to meet you, too, Lucas.” What a nice guy!

 

 As the lights dimmed, Lucas leaned over to me and continued to whisper. “They’ll call us up by number. I’m number thirty-seven… My housemate is one of the ‘original twelve’. His name is Ness. He is very outgoing and cheerful… I heard him say he wants to get the ‘gang’ together soon. I don’t know what he means by the 'gang', but I’m sure he means well.”

 “I think he means a gang of pirates. I’m a pirate!” I smirked proudly only to receive a shocked and confused look from the other blond. “Uh… I-I’m a nice pirate!”

 Lucas’s eyes wandered over me with doubt. “Really? You look too…” He hesitated, “gentle to be a pirate…”

 I gritted my teeth, “Anyone can be a pirate! It doesn’t matter what they look like! Even if I still-” I couldn’t finish. I didn’t know him that well to tell him that. I hunched over and stared down at my body with disgust.

 Lucas took a moment to process what I said and began to babble, “O-oh! I’m so sorry! I didn’t know! I promise I won’t ever do that again! I didn’t mean-!” He covered his face with his hands in embarrassment.

 “…I-it’s alright! We just met. Mistakes happen. But… now you know,” I patted his back to comfort him and he peeked through his fingers to look at me. He put them down and let out a sigh of relief with an accompanying smile.

 

 All eyes turned to the stage. Two large gloved hands appeared from behind the curtains. I almost expected to see a large face like Gohdan, too. The hands used sign language to welcome everyone. Soon, the curtains revealed the so-called original twelve fighters, all lined up like soldiers. I recognized Mario, but as for the rest, I had no clue who they were.

 After a few minutes, people began to walk up stage. The first was a young woman with dark brown hair and a slender figure. She had long ears like mine and a pale, emotionless face. She shook hands with all the fighters with elegant grace and a voice announced her name:

 “Princess Zelda!”

 There was a loud applause.

 

 A couple of more people went up. The next one was a boy around our age albeit a bit taller. Lucas averted his eyes down to the table with a small blush.

  “What is it? Who is that?”

  “That’s Red… He’s a Pokémon Trainer…” He sighed dreamily, “We met not too long ago and he’s the coolest guy I’ve ever met…”

 “… Do you like him?” I asked as innocently as I could sound.

 His face turned into a brighter shade of red, “H-Huh?! Yes! As a f-friend! … I mean… I-I guess I-”

 

 “Fighter thirty-seven!” the voice boomed and Lucas jumped.

  I watched Lucas stumble onto the stage, earning a few laughs. He shook hands with everyone until he reached one boy. Instead of a handshake, Lucas received a big hug and a toothy grin from the other. He looked both overwhelmed and overjoyed. When they broke away, the other boy spoke into the Lucas’s ear, who in turn gave a look of awe.

 After a few more handshakes, Lucas finally walked back to the table. His eyes were glassy.

 I asked him, “What’s the matter? What did that boy say to you?”

 He wiped his eyes and smiled weakly, “Ness said he… he was so happy to have me as his ‘brother from another mother’. Sorry… I didn’t realize I would cry-” He chuckled at himself and let out a soft, trembling sigh. “…Oh, I miss them… so much…”

 Lucas fell into his chair and buried his head into his hands. I didn’t know who he was talking about, but I felt that I had to comfort him in some way. So I gave him a small hug and rubbed his back, as if I was his own mother. For a moment, I felt as if I was about to weep myself.

 

 “Fighter forty-three!”

  I snapped out of the moment and rushed to the stage. Twelve figures of all different shapes and sizes stared at me with sincere smiles.

 I shook Mario’s hand first. He smiled from ear to ear, “It’s so nice to have you here!” I returned an equally happy smile.

 Then, there was a young man who had long ears like me. He didn’t say his name but I supposed he was the missing ‘Link’. He clasped his hands over mine and gave it a hard squeeze. Some of my fingers still hurt even while writing this.

 

 After a few more shakes, that's when I saw him. The boy I bumped into earlier today. He was the same boy who hugged Lucas. His face lit up when he saw me.

 “You! You’re the boy who doesn’t watch where he’s goin’!” He picked up my hand and shook it wildly, laughing. “Name’s Ness! Nice to meet ya!”

 Ness… What kind of stupid name is that?

 He gazed deeply into my eyes as if he was reading my mind and soul, "Y’know, with those big eyes of yers, I woulda expected you to see the whole area in front of ya! Ha ha!” Quickly he added, "I'm just kiddin'! I hope we can be real good friends!"

 I only huffed and moved on to the next fighter. 

 Are my eyes really that big?

 

 After shaking everyone's hands, I walked back to the table where Lucas waited for me and we watched as the ceremony ended with the closing words:

 Here, we are all friends. We are a family and we love each other for who we are.

 

 A few moments later, Ness came over to the table and looked down at the two of us with joy, "Boy, am I lucky to have you guys as my new friends!"

 "I'm lucky to meet you, too, Ness!" Lucas chimed.

 I remained bitterly silent.

 They ignored me and continued to chatter. "Are you excited to be here? Do you like your room? What should we do first?"

 Then, Ness mentioned he was missing something very special to him. A red and blue baseball hat.

 "I felt bald without it! My mama gave it to me when I was just a baby," His eyes slitted over to my spoils bag. Almost as if he could sense it.

 I remembered that I had kept a hat in my bag and began to dig through it. I found it and handed it over to him and his smile grew about five times bigger.

 "Ah-HA! I knew you had it!" Ness adjusted it onto his head and sang, "I get anxious without it. But, I had a good feelin' that you had it when I saw ya again! Thanks for holdin' it for me, T-Bone!"

 'T-Bone'... Almost as bad as 'Toon Link'. Almost...  

 Lucas beamed at me, "You are a good pirate!"

 

 We talked for a long time until we all agreed it was time for bed.

 I headed straight for the door only to be stopped by my new 'friends'.

 "Hey Toon Link! Maybe we can all hang out tomorrow and explore the grounds!" Lucas nervously cheered.

 "And get lunch!" Ness added, "Give us a call when ya get home safely!"

 I would call them but I don't think they would hear me from home.

 We waved goodbye to each other and headed home for the night.

 

 And here I am, writing in my logbook about everything that has happened so far. I'm looking at the clock and its about three in morning. Obviously, I should get to bed now.

 With everything that happened today, I wonder what else will happen this year?

 

 

Chapter Text

 It has been about a couple of months that I lived on the grounds and I’ve met many different types of fighters. I think it is okay to write about my 'family' members now.

  

 I try to wake up on time for breakfast, but sleep gets the better of me and I end up rushing downstairs with only a few short minutes to eat. The other Link scolds me with a pinch on my ear and goes on preaching, “I had to work the early mornings on the ranch. I never slept in as late as you! The Hero of Time never would’ve been so lazy…” and so on and so forth. It’s become a routine to me lately. I'm used to it and I learned to tune him out.

  Sheik, the one who covers their face, later told me that the Hero of Time slept for seven years so I didn't feel very bad about my sleeping habits. I like Sheik… I think they are smart and mysterious... By the way, I asked them about the strange object I found in my room. Sheik happily took it and said they will return it to it's rightful place. I wonder where that place is?

 

  The table is always quiet, whether it's breakfast, lunch, or dinner time. I usually have to start the conversations but even then, only a couple sentences are said and the silence returns. The quietest is Princess Zelda. She is always reading a book that's in the ancient Hylian text with a cup of tea at her side. I try my best to talk to her, but she simply answers “yes”, “no”, and sometimes “maybe” with a blank stare.

  

 However…

 There are times when she opens up to another princess. Every Sunday, Princess Toadstool and Samus come over to have tea with Zelda. I never heard what they would talk about or what they did. Usually, I used my Sundays to train with the other Link, Marth, and Ike, but I was sick with a fever that certain day.

 


 

 It was raining hard and Zelda told me to stay in bed and she would take care of me... until Princess Toadstool knocked at the door. I saw her pale face turn pink for a quick moment as she let out a tiny gasp, “Peach…” Unlike most of the fighters, Zelda and Princess Toadstool were on a first-name basis with each other. She turned to the mirror, took a deep breath, and headed downstairs to greet her friend.

 As I lay in bed, I could hear the pink princess’s frilly voice and Zelda’s contrasting monotone hum through the floor along with the rain pitter-patting on the roof. I always imagined that they would curtsy elegantly to each other.

 “Oh, Zelda! It’s so nice to see you despite the dreary weather we’re having! I’m so happy you invited me over for tea! Samus couldn’t make it today. She’s upgrading her suit.”

 I heard the click-clack click-clack of the princess’s heels on the wooden floor. They were walking toward the living room. Once they stopped, Peach continued the conversation:

 “Don’t you look just… just lovely as a rose! I hope you don’t mind I brought some cake over?”

 “Thank you, Peach. You look very... peachy-keen, too… as always." I nearly slapped myself in the face when Zelda said that. "I don’t mind the cake. I’m sure the boys will like some later. Let’s get the fireplace going.”

 “I hope they don’t eat all of it. I made this cake especially for the two us to share this afternoon… You do like fruitcake, don't you?”

 For the first time, I heard Zelda chuckle, “I love fruitcake.”

  


 

 I fell asleep after that. I don't remember what else I heard.

 After a couple of hours, I woke up to my pirate charm glowing brightly. It was Ness and Lucas. They asked me if I was feeling okay to hang out and I barked, “No. I’m trying to sleep!” I never meant to sound rude.

 “Do ya really think you need all those hours of beauty rest?! I don’t think you’re that ugly!” Ness chortled. I could sense his devilish grin. I knew that he was just teasing, but I really wanted to hurl that charm straight into his stupid smirk he always wore.

 I could hear Lucas say, “Get to feeling better, Toon Link. Let us know when you are-”

 Ness chimes in, “And fast! We miss ya!” 

 The charm’s glow faded and I groaned weakly. My stomach groaned as well and I took that as a sign to get some food to eat downstairs. I know Gramma’s soup recipe like the back of my hand, so I settled on fixing that for myself. I tip-toed past the living room so I wouldn’t disturb Zelda and Princess Toadstool. The room was rather quiet. At first, I thought they were telling secrets. That gave me the idea to eavesdrop on their gossip.

 

 But, it was not gossip at all I soon found out. I hid in the hallway, listening to the women whisper along with the crackling fireplace and gentle rain:

  “How long? How long did you know, Zelda?”

 “…That day when we watched Mario and Kirby fight. When we were separated by that foul monster, I felt… I felt so scared that I wouldn’t see you again. I swore to myself that I would do everything in my power to protect you… just like-” Zelda struggled to finish the sentence.

 “Just like Mario. I know,” Princess Toadstool giggled, “That's funny!”

 “Wh-what? That’s how I feel, Peach! That’s how I’ve always felt-!” Zelda sadly echoed.

 “Zelda… I think it’s funny because I felt the very same way… I loved you for a while now and I think we shouldn’t hide it any longer… Now that that ‘Tabuu’ mess is all behind us… We can be together for the rest of this year…”

  

 I heard a shuffle of fabric and a long silence. My curiosity forced me to peek around the doorway. That’s when I saw it happen.  

 The blonde leaned into Zelda’s body with her dainty gloved hands caressing the brunette’s sharp cheeks. Their noses touched and Princess Toadstool gently placed her plump lips onto Zelda’s. The kiss looked like as if they were frozen in time.

 

 I felt jealous happy for Zelda. I wanted to feel loved like that by someone. I wanted someone to love me for who I am deep inside. I wanted to share a never-ending kiss with someone who loved me.

 

 Finally, the kiss broke and the two princesses smiled at each other, “I love you. I’ve always have and always will.” They embraced each other.

 Zelda stroked Princess Toadstool’s blonde locks and sighed miserably, “What if they find out…? Mario and Link? What will they say? …Don’t you still love Mario?

 The princess peeled away from the embrace lightly and beamed, “I do love Mario. The same way I love you. I’ve already told him about you and how I much I love being with you. He’s not the type of person to get angry over something like this. And Link…” her voice trailed off.

 “T…Toon Link?!”

 Shit!

 They spotted me. I stood there like a sitting duck, waiting to be noticed and it worked. My face burned with an immense blush, as did the other Hylian's face.

 

 Zelda rose from the couch and walked toward me with eyes like daggers. She grabbed my wrist,  pulled me to the side of the hall, and growled under her breath, “Were you eavesdropping on us?! That is very rude! Your mother should’ve taught you better manners!”

 I coughed, “I’m sorry! I just was hungry and I saw you two talking. I-I didn’t know you would kiss! I think it’s sweet, though… being in love…”

 Her eyes widened and she leaned in close to whisper in my ear, “…You won’t tell anyone, yet- will you?”

 I crossed my heart and pledged, “Only when you two are ready.”

 “Only when… when we’re ready…” Zelda repeated over and over.

 Princess Toadstool glided over and smiled at both of us, “It seems this Link doesn’t mind about our relationship, Zelda. I trust him and you should, too.”

 

 Then, the blonde gave me a suspicious look and asked, “Toon Link… Are you in love with someone, too?”

 I panicked and started stumbling over my words. “ME? Pffft! No! …Well... Kind of! …I was for a short time! …Only one time! …Idon’tknowwhatyouaretalkingabout-

 Zelda put her gloved hand on my forehead to shut me up, “Toon Link, your fever is making you have disillusions. Maybe you should get back to bed. I’ll bring you a piece of Peach’s fruitcake.”

 

 The two princesses led me back to my room and placed a red potion on top my bedside table for my fever. Zelda gave me a small peck on my cheek and cooed, “Get some rest and feel better,” while Princess Toadstool waited in the doorway.

 “Goodnight, Toon Link.”

 And the new lovely couple dimmed down the lights and shut the door gently.

 


 

  I was in love with Tetra.

 I tried to show her how much I did. She noticed but rarely acknowledged my affections. There was always something in the way. Tetra was always caught up with treasure hunting and the future of the new kingdom. Before I left for the tournament, she told me to get out of my comfort zone and fall in love and enjoy myself. I don’t know if I can.

 Tetra, if you ever find this logbook, don't take this the wrong way:

 You’re a headstrong and feisty captain. You always find a way through the toughest obstacles. You won't take no for an answer. Sometimes, you’re even a bit too harsh to the other pirates. But, I know you really have a heart of gold. You’re more than a captain and a princess to me. You’re my best friend. You’re my family. I wish I could’ve told you sooner. I love you.

 Don't ever forget this.

Chapter Text

 

Lucas won his first tournament this week.

 

 He won a singles match against Bowser. The Koopa said, “I felt bad for the kid and went easy on ‘im! If I used ALL my power, he wouldn't ‘ave stood a chance!” But, I highly doubt that. I could see Bowser struggling to keep up with the blond all the way from the viewing area. I wanted to correct him so badly.

 

 After a few minutes, Lucas appeared out of the locker room with a small golden trophy and a towel in both of his hands. He wore a great big smile when he lifted up the trophy and announced, “I did it-!” He was cut off by Ness giving him a tight hug, swinging around like a rag doll, “YOU DID IT!! I’M SO PROUD OF YOU, DUDE!!” Once Ness let go, Lucas wobbled over to a nearby chair to catch his breath. Lucas must have been so embarrassed… I know I would be!

 The Ice Climbers, Popo and Nana chimed in gleefully, “Lucas! That ‘PK Freeze’ move was so cool! Could you teach us how to do it?”

 Lucas wiped his forehead with the towel, “If you two know PSI, I will!” The twins froze and looked at each other as if to say, ‘that’s not going to happen’.

 Princess Toadstool presented the boy a piece of cake that she had baked for the winner. She bakes everyone a cake when they win a tournament. The cakes are always delicious. 

 

 While the princess and the others were talking Lucas, I noticed Ness hover over to me. I tried to ignore him and focus on Lucas until he whispered into my ear, “Are ya gonna get him anything?

 I shivered as his voice hummed in my head and hissed under my breath, “Are you really thinking about presents when we should just congratulate him?! I’m pretty sure he’d prefer being with us rather than getting a crappy present!”

 “Yeah… But, I still think it would be nice to-”

 “Shut up, idiot! He’s looking at us! Shh!”

 

 Lucas turned around to look at us curiously, cocking his head to the side. “What are you two whispering about?” he asked. He hunched over a bit and hugged the trophy closer to his chest. I opened my mouth to speak, but instead Ness’s voice took over, “I was just telling T-Bone about how much yer training has improved! Isn’t that right?” He gently nudged his elbow into my side and I squeaked, “Mm-hm!” I hate when he does that shit.

 “You really think so? Kumatora and Duster helped me a lot before I got here. I’ll be sure to remind them what good teachers they are!” Lucas laughed but stopped short when he looked around the room. “Speaking of trainers… Where is Red?”

 Pit flew over to the blond, “Oh! That Pokémon Trainer guy? I think he said he was going to his friend’s Pokémon competition for the weekend! Someone named ‘Leaf’. Boy… I wish I could’ve gone! That would be SO awesome! But, Lady Palutena said ‘Nooo. You have to stay here and be good and…’” Sometimes, Pit did not know when to stop talking. 

 “Oh…” Lucas frowned, “At least, he saw me in today’s match? Right?”

 “He left early this morning! He said, ‘it’s very important to see her go against the Elite Four!’”

 Lucas’s face dropped even more and his voice broke, “O-oh… I see…”

 

  I don’t think Red has picked up on Lucas’s feelings for him, yet. I’m sure Red likes him just as much, but he tends to choose Pokémon over people. I’m sure Red means well and I hope he will take Lucas in to consideration. I’m sure of it...

 

 Ness went into 'big brother' mode and sat down next to Lucas to comfort him. He poked a fork at him with a small piece of cake on it, “C’mon, Lucas. Red is probably bummed out that he didn’t get to see ya win. When he comes back, you could tell him everything about today! Now, have some cake. It’ll cheer you up! Hurry, before I eat it all~!” 

 The other boy smiled sadly and took the plate from Ness. Once he took a bite, his face melted into contentment. The cake tasted amazing as always!

 

 After a couple more conversations, people started to leave. Lucas said he was headed back to the house to find a place for his trophy. He walked away and I decided it was time for me to head home too until I felt a tug on my tunic.

 I spun around to see Ness once again hovering over me like a ghost.

 “What is it now?! I want to go home!”

 “But Toon! I really really REALLY wanna get Lucas a present! I know I’m like his ‘brother’ and all, but you’re one of his best friends!”

 “And?”

 “I tell my friends things I would never tell my family! And don’t tell me ya don’t, cause I KNOW that everybody does!” He pointed a finger at me with a sly grin. “Y’know the side of Lucas I don’t see! He tells you things that I don’t know! If you help me find a present we both know he’ll like, he’ll be so happy!”

 “… I’m busy…” I was not busy at all. I was going straight to bed.

He twisted his lips, “… Lucas really needs somethin’ small like this. Somethin’ to reassure him that he’s welcomed and loved, Toon. He has trouble sleepin’ at night cause of what happened to his mom and brother… Lucas says that I remind him of his brother and he starts gettin’ all weepy on me. I try to tell him that everyone loves him, but he’s havin’ trouble believin' that. If you really are busy then I won’t bother. But if you aren’t… please help me with this teeny-weeny favor!” He clasped his hands together in a beggar’s pose.

 

 I hesitated, but I was no match for Ness’s puppy-dog eyes. Gods, I hated how soft I was. “… Fine! It is for Lucas, anyways. Only for an hour though!”

 His eyes lit up and laughed, “I knew you weren’t a total stick-in-the-mud! Let’s go find that super awesome present!” He offered his hand for me to take, but I crossed my arms and waited for him to move.

 “Go ahead and lead the way. I’ll follow you.”

  Ness simply smiled and nervously walked on ahead. I always kept my promises so I followed him.


 

 The two of us walked on a little dirt trail to the town square. We took the side road to ‘avoid suspicion’ because the main road was busy at that certain hour. Especially on Fridays.

 At first, the walk was quiet. I just studied the nature and looked over at the nearby beach. But every now and then, I caught Ness looking at me from over his shoulder. He would smile when I saw him and turn his head back in front. This happened about a few more times until I spoke up.

 

 “What is it? Why do you keep looking at me like that?”

 Ness stopped and turned his whole body to face me, “Ya look bored, Toon.”

 “Well, yeah… We’re only walking. So…”

 “So! Lets get to know each other! I think I got some icebreakers for us!” He was now walking backwards so he could look at me. “I’ll start! Now… What’s yer favorite food of all time?”

 “My Gramma makes really good soup. It’s never too hot or cold.” For a moment, I imagined myself back home with Gramma and Aryll, all of us sipping the soup and releasing a satisfying ‘aah~’.

 “What’s in it?”

 “I'm not telling you! It’s a secret from everyone... What is your favorite foo-.”

 He nearly shouted, “STEAK. No doubt about it!” Then he brought a finger to his cheek and looked up as if he was second guessing himself, “…Or was it burgers? No no! Now I think it might be burgers!” Finally, his eyes widened and placed his hands firmly on his hips with a look of triumph, “STEAKBURGERS. That’s it! My final answer! …Okay, your turn to ask a question!”

 

 I bit my lips to keep from laughing at him, “Alright… What do you like to do for fun? Like… your hobbies?”

 “I like lots of things! I like to play baseball, listen to rock n’ roll, read comics, doodle during class when I should be listening, ride my bike, eat junk… Y’know, regular ol’ guy stuff. You?”

 “Hmm…” I stroked my chin and furrowed my eyebrows as I thought, “I sleep a lot… I like to sail around, looking at all the islands. The puzzles are fun, too. Sometimes, I would go fishing with my sister and Linebeck-”

 Whaaat?! You have a sister?! I have one too! Her name’s Tracy and she's pretty smart for her age. She actually ran a delivery company called 'Escargo Express'! She's a lot like... d-dad..." Ness's voice drifted off for a few seconds and then quickly returned to his normal cheerful tone, "But enough about me! What’s yer sister’s name?” 

 “Aryll. She’s really smart, too.” It felt nice to brag about my little sister, “We have a watchtower on our island and she likes to call it her lookout spot for seagulls. For my twelfth birthday, she gave me her telescope… That was when she was kidnapped…” It didn’t feel nice to remember that. “I saved her… but I never thought… I would leave her and Gramma…”

 Ness placed his hand on my shoulder. It was quiet again. I felt a shiver go down my spine as he looked into my eyes with sympathetic eyes. "I'm sure you'll see them again," he said softly. I unconsciously nodded my head as I continued to stare into his deep dark eyes. It felt like I was being sucked into a void. I snapped out of the daze and brushed his hand off my shoulder and I cleared my throat.

 "Come on! We've got to get that present before the sun goes down." This time I led the way and Ness followed.

 


 We went to the small department store and searched around in the clothing section. I looked through the sweaters and found a couple of nice ones, but they were very pricy. Linebeck would say ‘save your money for the most important things’ and a present for Lucas was the most important at the moment. 

 

 After picking out the sweater I liked best, I looked for Ness, who was searching through t-shirts. He had a big messy stack of shirts and let them fall into my hands. “I found these! They're pretty sweet! Try ‘em on!”

  I groaned irately, “Ugh, why me?! Can’t we just check out and go? We are not going to give Lucas nearly thirty damn shirts! Let’s just get this sweater and go!”

 “Nooope! What if Lucas doesn’t like that one? If we see these on ya, we decide on what Lucas would look like in them! Plus, you and Lucas are about the same size! Now, hurry so we can look for more presents~!” His voice lifted up the last words with excitement.

 

 I rolled my eyes and headed over to the dressing rooms. A few minutes later, I came out wearing the ugliest fucking shirt I’d ever seen.

 “Lucas would never EVER wear th-this… THING!!”

 “I’m sure you’re just over exaggerating! Ya look great! Look at all the color in it! This will fill Lucas’s sad dark days with happiness when he wears it!”

 “It looks a rainbow exploded on it! Giving him a shirt like this won’t make him happy! It’ll make him sick, I’ll tell you that!”

 Ness sighed, “Okay, okay… try the others on, then!”

 After trying on about a hundred more shirts, we finally came to an agreement on a purple t-shirt with a green dinosaur on it. 

 “It’s not the best, but I remember Lucas said he would play with dinosaur-like animals called ‘Dragos’ with Claus when they were kids. Though, the more I look at it, its kind of cute,” I peered down into the bag and smiled with the choice we made. “Thanks for using your money, by the way. I’ll pay you back sometime.”

 “Nah, don’t worry ‘bout it! We picked it out together so doesn’t really matter who pays. It’s for Lucas, anyway,” Ness took the bag from my hands and walked into a nearby floral shop.

 I cocked my head to the side and looked at him in confusion, “What are we doing here? It’s getting dark…”

 He twisted his head around a little bit and gave me a funny face, “Oooh~! Are ya scared of the dark or somethin’? Ha ha!”

 I stiffened a little and huffed, “No! Not at all! I just want to give Lucas his shirt and go home already! You messing around isn’t helping! You're wasting time!”

 “T-Bone… I’m teasin’. I know ya wanna go, but I wanna find one more thing,” Ness eyed some sunflowers. “I’m thinkin’ we get some sunflowers to put in the livin’ room because Lucas loves them. He says that they remind him of his mom. Go and find a pot to put a couple these in, will ya?”

 I nodded and did just that. I’ve never thought I would have to be careful of picking out a pot until I almost got nipped by piranha plants resting in some of the pots. After avoiding the wrong pots, I found the perfect one. The pot was painted a nice baby blue with white clouds to resemble the sky. While I was heading back to the counter, I decided to get a rainbow ribbon to tie around the sunflower stems. I just thought it would look nice.

 Ness agreed.

 “Whoa! That looks amazing, T-Bone! I get it! The pot is the sky, the ribbon is a rainbow, and the flower is the sun! Is that right?” He put the sunflowers inside the pot and placed it on the check-out counter. 

 “Uh-… Yeah… Sure…” I did not think about that at all.

 “You’re so creative! You’re a great friend. I dunno what I woulda done without yer help…” Ness murmured as he dug through his wallet to pay.

 That made me smile a little bit. At first, I thought it was my mind playing tricks on me, but no. He really said that and he really meant it. He was too kind and it made me sick... in a good way!

 

 We left the shop and walked home. Ness carried the shirt and I carried the flowers. Curiously, I asked how long we had been out shopping and he replied ‘almost three hours’ with a little yawn. He didn’t say anything more after that. His eyelids were drooping and he hunched over, in a relaxed way. I think he was tired and wanted to enjoy the silence between us, so I didn’t complain about going over my ‘one hour’ limit. 

 Actually, I had a fun time shopping with Ness. Even though he's really annoying most of the time, I want to know more about him. 

 


 

 We got to the house and gave Lucas the presents. He looked pleasantly surprised when he opened the door and saw the presents. The sunflowers were placed on the living room's coffee table and Lucas threw on his new shirt with glee. He said he'll wear to sleep in tonight and thanked both of us with a big hug. 

 I couldn't help but think if Red ever got in touch with Lucas. "Hey... uh... Lucas? Did Re-"

 The phone rang and Lucas answered it and (what do you know!), it was Red. Lucas's face lit up even more and he spewed out everything that happened that day. He completely tuned me and Ness out. 

 

 So... I made my way to the door, hoping to leave unnoticed until I was halted by Ness calling out to me in a hushed voice.

 "T-Bone! I just wanted to say I had a really great time hanging' out and shopping' with ya today. I like yer company."

 "Oh... I guess I did, too... But if we ever do this again, don't ask me on the spot! This day was fun, but unorganized... We need to plan it out next time, alright?"

 "'Next time'? So, you mean..." He had a big cheeky smile, "there's a chance you want to hang out with just me again?"

 "Pffft! That's an 'if' not a 'definitely', you dumbass! You have a one in a million chance!"

 "...Then, you're sayin' there IS a chance!"

 I turned the doorknob and swung my head to give him an 'are-you-serious' look, "You're a real weird guy..."

 "You're pretty weird, too. I guess thats why I like you," He leaned his back against the wall and put his hands in his pockets in a relaxed manner.  

 My mouth hung open and the blood rushed to my cheeks as I processed what he said. Then, I giggled, "Goodnight, Ness! ...We can do this again soon. Bye!" Before I walked out the door, I quickly added, "And I'm not as weird as you, you weirdo!!" And, I slammed the door shut. I'm glad I got the last word.

 

 Today was a good day.