Twilight sprints down the sidewalk, dodging bullets and searching desperately for a way to lose the cops behind him. He thanks whatever goddesses are listening to his half-assed prayers as he rounds a corner and takes a sharp turn into an alley before ducking behind a dumpster. The cops chasing him thunder past his hiding spot, spewing threats and curses as they go.
Twilight waits until he’s absolutely sure the cops aren’t doubling back before pushing himself to his feet and walking briskly toward the spot he told Warriors to meet him. He and Warriors had split up beforehand so he could outrun the cops while Warriors would find a getaway vehicle. He reaches the designated bus stop as Warriors pulls up on a taxicab yellow Vespa, of all things.
“Warriors...” Twilight’s too tired to deal with this. He sighs and shakes his head.
Warriors looks ready to retort, but his expression morphs into one of alarm.
“Twilight? Please tell me that’s not yours.” He stares unblinkingly at Twilight’s shirt.
Puzzled, Twilight frowns and touches his side, freezing when he feels something wet. He slowly looks down and the right side of his shirt and hoodie are drenched in red.
“Oh...” Twilight numbly takes a step forward and his knees buckle under him.
Warriors launches himself off the scooter and barely manages to catch him before he faceplants on the concrete.
“Fucking hell, Twi. Stay awake,” Warriors commands tensely. “I’m gonna get you home as fast as I can.”
The captain shreds his own hoodie and uses it to hurriedly bandage Twilight’s torso. Once he finishes, he helps Twilight stumble over to the scooter and get seated behind him.
“Do you think you can hold on and not fall off while I drive?” Warriors asks him.
Twilight buries his face in the back of Warriors’ shirt and nods, loosely wrapping his arms around his brother’s waist.
Warriors doesn’t waste another second. He speeds off into the night as fast as the scooter will go.
It takes an agonizingly long time to get back to their apartment. The feel of Twilight’s unsteady breathing against Warriors’ back provides little comfort and he keeps glancing back at him to make sure he’s still alive, still fighting.
Their run-down apartment complex comes into view and Warriors pulls into the lot with a screech. He ditches the scooter behind the building– he’ll have to call one of the mechanics in the morning to come pick it up– and pulls Twilight’s arm over his shoulders and wraps his arm around his waist.
Warriors’ hands are slick with blood– Twilight’s blood– as he fumbles with his keys. He finally gets the apartment open and they hobble inside, Warriors kicking the door shut behind them. They barely make it through the entryway before Twilight groans and sags bonelessly against Warriors. The sudden weight unbalances him and they crash to the ground, both his and Twilight’s full weight landing on his bad shoulder, the one still healing from an earlier knife wound.
Warriors cries out and lets loose a string of curses as his vision briefly turns to static. He needs to get up, his brother is still bleeding dammit. His shoulder screams in protest as he drags Twilight into the kitchen and props him up in the corner of the cabinets.
“Twi, come on, wake up.” He rapidly pats Twilight’s cheek until the ranch hand stirs.
“Wars...?” Twilight slurs. He turns his head in Warriors’ direction and blinks slowly. His eyes are glassy and his normally pale complexion is ashen.
“I’m gonna get our medkit, but you’ve gotta stay awake, okay? Can you do that for me?”
Twilight mumbles something unintelligible and Warriors hopes that’s good enough for now. He pulls their dwindling medkit out of the cabinet and opens it next to Twilight, swearing fiercely when he sees the contents inside.
An empty bottle of pain medicine, half of a red potion, a single roll of gauze bandages, a mostly empty bottle of rubbing alcohol, a needle and a partial spool of thread, and a handful of adhesive bandages. That’s it.
Biting down his rising anxiety, It’s not enough– It needs to be, there’s no other choice– he uncorks the potion and holds it to Twilight’s lips.
“Drink,” he urges.
As Warriors helps Twilight sip the remainder of the potion, he inspects his brother’s injured side. He silently thanks the goddesses for small mercies when he sees that the bullet went all the way through. He just needs to stitch the wounds and he doesn’t have to worry about digging anything out.
Twilight finishes the potion and tips his head back against the cabinet with a grimace. He’s still too pale for Warriors’ liking, but he’s more alert than he was on the ride home and most of the bleeding has slowed to a trickle.
“I’m going to have to stitch these closed, okay?” Warriors informs him.
Twilight hums in consent and fishes around for the bottle of pain medicine. He drops it back in the bag when he finds it empty.
“I’m sorry,” Warriors says remorsefully. “I took the last one before we left.”
“Don’t be.” Twilight shakes his head. “You needed it. Don’t apologize for that.”
Warriors suddenly stands up and starts digging around in the upper cabinets.
“We might be out of painkillers, but we do have this.” he holds up a bottle of whiskey.
“It’s better than nothing,” Twilight grunts and winces as his side flares in pain again. “Where’d we even get that?”
“Probably from Telma after the job with the cuccos.” Warriors glances at the label before opening the bottle. “There’s no way we could afford this on our own.”
He takes a swig before handing the bottle to Twilight and grabbing some paper towels.
“Is your shoulder bothering you that much?” Twilight asks, frowning at him.
Warriors flinches. Was he that obvious?
“Don’t worry about it,” he tries to wave off Twilight’s concern.
“As flawless as your knightly bravado usually is, you’re still a shitty liar,” Twilight deadpans. “What happened?”
“What do you remember after I picked you up?” Warriors sits back down and uses his knife to cut away Twilight’s ruined shirt and the rest of his makeshift bandages.
“I remember bits and pieces of you driving. The next thing I know, I’m sitting here and you’re telling me to wake up. Why?” Twilight shrugs out of his hoodie and lets it fall to the floor.
“I tripped and we fell,” Warriors decides to settle on a white lie. “I landed on my shoulder.”
Warriors squirms under Twilight’s steely gaze. He can tell he’s not happy with his answer, but thankfully he takes a large mouthful of whiskey and lets the topic slide.
“Ready?” Warriors holds up a paper towel soaked in rubbing alcohol.
Twilight makes a disgruntled face and nods reluctantly. Warriors carefully dabs the towel against Twilight’s side and he violently jerks away. He bites the side of his hand to keep himself from screaming.
“I know, I know. I’m sorry,” Warriors apologizes hurriedly. “Drink some more and bite on this. Don’t chew your lip raw again.”
Warriors grabs a dishtowel off the counter and waits until Twilight finishes drinking. Twilight bites on the towel and squeezes his eyes shut. He’s tense and his breathing is too short and too shallow.
“Deep breaths, Twi. Nice and slow,” Warriors encourages and brushes Twilight’s bangs out of his face.
Twilight gradually stops hyperventilating, and Warriors can return to cleaning and get started on the stitches. His stitches are small, even, and practiced, and Twilight doesn’t twitch too much throughout the process. When he finishes the stitches, he grabs the last roll of bandages and wraps them around Twilight’s torso. He’s washing his hands when he hears Twilight call his name.
“Wars?” Twilight’s voice is much quieter than usual. Did he overlook another injury?
“Yeah?” Warriors answers, crouching next to him and scanning him for any other injuries.
“Of all the people I could be stuck with, I’m glad it’s you.”
“Aww, I appreciate you too, you big softy,” Warriors teases with a grin, ruffling Twilight’s hair.
“I’m serious, War.” Twilight’s somber tone makes Warriors’ smile dim. “Do you know how many people I’ve mauled to death in this city? Humans, not monsters.”
“I’ve tortured and slaughtered just as many.” Warriors frowns, not quite understanding where Twilight’s going with this. “What’s your point?”
“That’s exactly my point!” Twilight exclaims and gestures erratically, wincing as he pulls on his stitches. “You and I, we don’t think twice about taking people’s lives anymore. If any of the others were in this situation, don’t you think they’d still have some remorse?”
Warriors sits against the cabinets next to Twilight and doesn’t answer. He doesn’t want to answer because saying it out loud would only condemn them even further.
“People used to set us apart because we were heroes,” Twilight says softly. “That we were ‘better’ than the average man. But here, we’re set apart because we’re not human. Because we use magic. Look at how far we’ve fallen, from golden heroes to filthy criminals.”
They’re quiet for a moment before Warriors speaks.
“Do you miss it?” he asks. “Being a hero?”
Twilight mulls over the question before answering.
“I don’t miss being the goddesses’ personal errand boy, but I do miss the people. I miss the other Links. I miss Ordon and Epona. I miss Uli and Rusl. My father, not the Rusl that’s here. It’s–” his voice breaks. “Seeing the other Links here every day kills me. It’s them, but it’s not them. And working with Rusl daily at the tavern...”
Twilight stifles a sob and leans into Warriors’ side. “I know this Rusl isn’t my father, but it still hurts.”
Warriors scoots closer and wraps his arm around Twilight as he cries softly. He plucks the whiskey out of Twilight’s lap and downs several gulps. When Twilight’s sniffles subside, he speaks again.
“Did I ever tell you that my Zelda asked me to marry her?”
“Really?” Twilight sits upright and turns to look at him, eyes wide.
“Yeah,” Warriors laughs humorlessly. “The Royal Court had been trying to force her into choosing a political suitor for months. We were hiding in the gardens when she confessed that she loved me. That if I was willing, we would be married and I would be her Prince Consort. She would be my queen and I would be her hero like we’ve always been.”
“What did you say?” Twilight inches closer in such a child-like manner, it almost makes Warriors smile.
“I never got to answer her,” Warriors’ ears droop. “The guards started yelling for us, saying that we were needed immediately in the throne room.”
“What happened?” Twilight asks with bated breath.
“We got to the throne room and Time, Four, and Legend were there,” Warriors says sadly. He remembers the feeling of dread, remembers ignoring the gut feeling that told him to hold Artemis one last time–
“Our adventure.” Twilight’s eyes are full of sorrow. “You had to leave before you could give her an answer.”
Warriors nods glumly and takes another drink. The burn of alcohol does little to distract him from his spiraling thoughts.
“I would have said yes. But living in an era of war had made both of us choose duty over desire more times than we could count and going on that adventure was the duty I was being called to do. I wish that just once, just that one damned time, I had chosen what I wanted to do. I could have at least told Arty I love her.” Warriors glares at the ceiling as tears blur his vision. “But I was so blinded by my duty as a knight I didn’t even say ‘I love you’ to her once in the entire time I’ve known I loved her. Now I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to see her again. My Artemis, not the one that’s here.”
Twilight gently takes the bottle away from Warriors and pulls him into a hug. They sit covered in blood on the cold linoleum floor and cling to each other tightly, silently lamenting the lives they were forced to leave behind when the last portal dumped them in this unforgiving city six months ago.
They’ve drunk too much in too short of an amount of time. Maybe it’s the alcohol, maybe it’s the feelings they’ve been bottling up since they arrived here, maybe it’s a mix of both, but they know they can’t continue on this path for much longer.
“The people claim Colibri is a timeless city,” Twilight says, sitting up straighter. “Maybe it’s time we stop chasing after the past and start living in the present. Besides, what do the lessons of history or the warnings of prophecy mean to a city that’s as unyielding as it is hell-bent on oppressing our kind? More stubborn than a grumpy Ordonian goat, I’d say.”
Warriors snorts and scrubs the tears off his face.
“We may not be the heroes we once were,” Warriors continues, “but I’m sure there are things we can do on the wrong side of the law that can benefit this shit hole of a city.”
“Yeah?” Twilight tilts his head to the side in curiosity. “What are you thinking?”
“There’s a children’s fairy tale about a man and his crew who steal from the rich and give what they steal to the poor. Illegal deeds done for the greater good,” Warriors explains before his expression darkens. “There are humans in this city who are worse monsters than the black-blooded creatures we fought on our adventure. It could be a place to start.”
“While I agree with you wholeheartedly, I think the first thing we should do is get cleaned up so we can buy more supplies to refill our medkit,” Twilight says with a small smirk.
Warriors groans and flops back against the cabinet.
“Do you want to clean the floor or do the laundry?” Warriors asks with a sigh.
“I’ll clean the floor, drama queen,” Twilight laughs and pushes himself to his feet, extending an arm to help Warriors up. “Our pants and your shirt are really the only things you need to clean the blood out of. Everything else would be too difficult to save.”
“Alright,” Warriors accepts his help and picks up the forgotten whiskey before pulling two cups out of the dish rack. He pours a shot for each of them and hands a glass to Twilight.
“To a new day, a new way.” Warriors raises his cup.
“To the here and now,” Twilight adds.
Warriors knows things that some things aren’t going to be the same anymore and that many things won’t change overnight. He knows that Twilight understands this too. But at the end of the day, they still have each other and they’re willing to stick together through it all– that’s what’s important.
They clink their glasses together and drink in unison.