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One Short Blond

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5

Link really needed this job. Zelda had been a life-saver to offer him a job at her coffee shop, “Vah Beans”, but he knew that he would have to work as many hours as he could to pay his bills. That was the problem with the world; always working yourself to the bone to have a place to sleep at night, even if it was something as crappy as Link’s one-bedroom apartment in the not-so-good side of Hyrule.

At this point, Link was just glad that he hadn’t chosen one of the other places nearby, because at least his apartment seemed to have warm water most of the time and it was close enough to Vah Beans that he could walk there and save his gas money. Zelda had started with the short jokes at that point, saying that it would take him hours to get to her shop if he walked because of his lack of legs. He had merely stuck his tongue out and left her at that, not really upset but acting as if he were. Link had grown tired of the short jokes after the second one, but there was really nothing he could do about it in the end, and it wasn’t too much of a bother at this point. Not when Zelda was offering him a spot at the coffee shop with the alluring promise that it would pay enough to cover his bills, which was all he could really ask for.

He knew she struggled to run the place after her father had died and left the shop to her, and she was already short-staffed, so working there was not an issue for him as long as he could make ends meet. That was why Link found himself, three days later, dressed in a black ensemble and those skinny black jeans that Zelda had gifted him for his birthday, walking into the front of Vah Beans.

The building was a greystone shop, cuddled into the sides of two much larger stores that boasted amazing sub sandwiches and another that sold something to do with makeup. It looked quaint enough to be considered homely, though all it reminded Link of was nights spent in thunderstorms and sleepovers at Zelda’s house when he couldn’t crash on his grandfather’s couch for the night. He nearly decided to retreat right then and there, to hide away from the familiar yet terrifying new ordeal. But he steeled himself again, never one for being a coward, and walked inside.

The bell announced his entrance to the worker at the front, whose eyes snapped up to meet his own. They appeared green from where Link stood, and narrowed, watching his path to the “employee’s only” door with a silence that was broken by the customers in the coffee shop. The barista’s hair was black and pulled back into a sleek man-bun, the tips dyed white. Link decided he liked the hairstyle, especially once he got a better look at the undercut that seemed to have an intricate design on the back, all swirls and shapes. The man was around his height, but had considerably more muscle mass. The barista looked as if he could bench press Link with ease, and he really didn’t have time to consider his feelings about that. He was also wearing the uniform- all black clothes with the black and grey apron.

Link gave the man a smile as he signed into work like Zelda had told him to, pulling on his matching apron. Anxiety clung to him for a few moments; what was he supposed to do now? Introduce himself? What if this man already knew who he was and was just sizing him up? What if he wanted Link to fail? In the end, Link decided that introducing himself would be the right call, maybe, just maybe, he could start this off on the right foot.

“Hi, I’m Link. Zelda said Revali would train me today before she picked up her shift. Is that you?” He asked, offering his hand to the man who just decided to give it a look and ignore him. Well, except for the nod. Link was miffed as he took his hand back, eyebrows furrowing as he followed Revali around the back while there was a break from customers at the cashier station.

“Here’s the POS system. I call it the Piece-Of-Shit system, but there’s probably an official name for it. You take down the orders there, and it will show up on the screen over here, by the blenders. It also keeps track of the sales so Zelda can do inventory later. These blenders are for lactose-free milks; soy, almond, etcetera.” And that began his training.

Throughout the day, he made drinks and occasionally manned the register while Revali stayed at the counter, blending the drinks. They were able to make their own drinks and sip on them when they could for free, so Link took advantage of that and his lack of energy, making himself one of the fruit drinks that a girl had ordered that looked pretty. It tasted good, he thought, watching the berries swirl around the cup as he drank it. Link saw Revali make something covered in chocolate chips and whipped cream thirty minutes later, and thought that he’d try that eventually.

Link would like to say that he had a perfect first day at the coffee shop, he had taken down orders without messing up, he made drinks quickly and there were no spills at all. He would like to say that, but he was not a liar, and so he would not say anything of the sort. His first day was more efficiently described as a wreck- he had gotten almost ten orders wrong, accidentally put soy milk in the wrong blender while making a frappe for some girl, and by the time Revali’s shift was over, he had mocha powder on his cheek.

“Idiot- whole milk stays in the lactose blender- do you want to make people suffer?”
“You got whip cream on my shoe, dumbass.”
“You are supposed to clean the blender after each drink- try again.”

And oh boy, were Revali’s words not helping at all. Link grit his teeth together, desperate to not let some asshole who seemed to hate him ruin this job for him. He needed to pay rent, he reminded himself, keeping his temper as low as it could be. He did, however, learn from his mistakes, not mixing the milk again and washing the blenders every time.

“One large pretzel frappe for Hades!” Some of the drinks were more difficult to make, such as the one that the small person with short, dark hair and silver highlights asked for. It was a mess in the blender, but the person reminded him of Zelda, with how they held themselves. He gave them a smile when he passed over their drink to them, and then turned to continue his job, cleaning up the blender and then wiped down the counter.

Then, he waited for the arrival of Zelda- she said that she would be in later in the day.

One look from Zelda when she entered the store was all it took for her to laugh, the sound bubbling up through the store. Revali grumbled something to her about having a useless partner for today’s shift, and then clocked out and left.

 

“Is he always like that?” Link asked Zelda once the rush hour ended and they were cleaning up, ready to close shop for the night. Zelda glanced up, giving him a look that was full of mischief, her green eyes shining as she got ready to tease him.

“At least he doesn’t have a… short… temper like you.” Ah, and there they were, her infamous short jokes. Link let out a groan, letting his forehead hit the wall as he leaned against it, a grin coming to his lips. He couldn’t deny that she had been quick with the joke, and it was not too bad. Props to Zelda.

“He doesn’t trust easily, Link. My last barista quit after they stood me up and he had to help me cover for them. He just wants what’s best for the shop- and me, I suppose.” She said, shrugging.

“Or maybe he just doesn’t like you.” Link let out an exasperated noise, though he knew she was joking by the way her eyebrow raised and how she tossed the cleaning rag to him, done with washing the blenders.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” She grinned, pushing him to the front after they were done.

Link had almost missed the statue of a bright blue animal near the door to the coffee shop, one that looked like something out of an old kid’s show yet had a pair of sunglasses balanced on the nose to look newer, as well as a leather jacket draped over the back of it. Zelda saw where his gaze went and grinned, rubbing the statue’s head as if it were a good luck charm.

“This is our good luck Mudkip.” She explained, as if it were one hundred percent normal to have a statue of a pokemon character in one's store, before opening the door for him and letting him leave.

Zelda had ordered an Uber to pick her up, so there was a black car idling in one of the parking spots, waiting for her. She locked up, waved goodbye to Link, and before he knew it, she was gone.

Link sighed, bones aching and muscles protesting the walk home, exhausted from his first day at work. It was okay, though, because some part of him had fun, and really, isn’t that what truly mattered in the end?

4

At this point, fuck capitalism. Fuck it. Link cursed whatever god had ruined the world with the corruption of morals that was capitalism, and rolled up his sleeves. He had been working at Vah Beans for two weeks at this point, getting the hang of everything- honestly, it was not as bad as he had believed. Every day he would enter the store, rub the top of the good luck Mudkip, and then work himself to exhaustion.

Link had learned most of the recipes at this point, learned how to work the Piece-Of-Shit machine (which, true to its name, was a piece of shit and messed up orders often- Zelda was saving up to get a new one), and hadn’t spilled a drink in a week. He enjoyed working there, he found.

However, nobody in their right minds, even if they loved their job, would want to work double shifts every day of the week in order to scrounge enough money to pay their bills. Just the bills, not anything like going on a vacation or an amusement park, or anything of the sort. His car had broken down on the way to the grocery store that Saturday, something about a faulty transmission, and he was instantly out of two thousand dollars. Practically begging, he called up his and the author quotes, “best-best-best-best-best friend” to figure out what to do.

Zelda understood his need to work, and offered to let him take double shifts until he could pay for the transmission. Which, okay, was really nice and he owed Zelda his life with all the things she had done for him, but… he felt guilty, as if he were taking advantage of her kindness. And, of course, working double shifts all week could really mess with someone’s sleep schedule.

Between work, stressing out, and taking care of himself by eating and taking showers, he did not have much time on his hands. He didn’t have much time to sleep, either, and he had dragged himself out of bed with only two hours of sleep that morning. Link arrived to open shop at six in the morning with Zelda, brewing himself a strong espresso before they opened for the morning rush. It did not help.

As a stark contrast to his lack of energy, Zelda seemed to be bubbling over with happiness- something that Link had no explanation for. How could she be so… alive? At six in the morning? What the fuck? Is wrong with her?

“You know how I was saving up for a new point of sale, right?” She started, though corrected herself when she saw the blank look Link was giving her- his brain was not keeping up with anything at the moment, especially when the coffee had not worked. “The POS system.”

When Link nodded, she seemed to glow even brighter. Then it clicked. “You reached the goal?” He asked, a sleepy grin creeping to his lips. His blonde friend slash boss nodded and hugged him, too excited to put her energy into anything else.

“Good, I think Revali was a day away from beating it in with one of the blenders and not even trying to make it look like an accident.” Link yawned, though his words were serious. Revali did not call it a piece of shit for nothing, and Link had to agree with him on that point. Even if Revali hated him or whatever his deal was, they occasionally made comments to each other about the stupid machine. Link would like to say it was some weird kind of bonding moment.

Zelda snorted at his words, but she knew he was serious. “I’m going to order it today,” She promised, just as the first group of customers entered the shop. Link got busy, making cappuccinos, hot chocolate, some disaster of a frappe, and many more drinks that would probably make someone overdose on caffeine. He made one of those for himself once his espresso ran out.
Then, he got the most absurd order thus far- a large vanilla bean frappe with not one, not three, but fifteen fucking pumps of raspberry syrup. Link was appalled. But it did sound a little good, he thought after he was halfway done making it. Then, when he was finally done, he slid it over the counter to a young man named AJ dressed in a Pikachu onesie. And then it all made sense.

Although he was working a double shift, Zelda was only working until two, at which point Revali would take over her spot and work with Link until they closed at nine. Fifteen hours. Link could get through that, he supposed. His eye bags begged to differ. The hours passed slowly, drink after drink melting in his mind. He spilled a hot tea around noon, blinking away the spots in his vision before he groaned and started cleaning up, Zelda taking over the drinks for a few minutes.

Link knew he made stupid mistakes- he should have known it would spill, especially when it was close to the edge. He tried his best to make it through his first shift, unable to wait until his lunch break. Even his fifteen-minute breaks were not helping much.

After lunch and a few sandwiches from the deli next door, Link felt a little better and steamrolled through the next two hours of work, his job made easier when customers slowed down and gave them a break. Zelda looked tired as she took inventory, but spared the barista a smile when she saw him watching her. The bell on the door rang yet again and Link stifled a groan, not wanting to serve another customer so soon, but felt a little more at ease when he realized that it was only Revali, coming in for work.

Revali looked flustered, Link observed, his hair not in its usual loose bun but instead floating around his head like some sort of black and white halo. He rushed to the back, pulling on his apron quickly and approaching Zelda, saying something that sounded like an apology.

“I won’t be late again.” He said, not even clocked into work. Zelda frowned and raised an eyebrow, glancing down at her watch. “You aren’t late?” She said, double-checking that yes, it was almost two o’clock and yes, that was his time to come in. “You’re right on time,” Zelda mused, looking at the boy as Link took a customer’s order.

When he turned back around to give the cup to Zelda, Revali looked floored. “What.” He squeaked out, his shoulders almost slumping with the weight of the world that seemed to live on them. The barista looked down at his own watch, and then to Zelda’s, letting out a groan.

“My watch was broken, I thought I was an hour late.” He whimpered out, running a hand through his hair before slipping his eyes shut, looking ready to punch something. Link stepped back, not wanting that “something” to become “Link’s face”.

Zelda merely laughed and rubbed Revali’s shoulder in support before she left him to clock in, ending her own shift after he was done. Link thought he worked well with Revali; they had developed a pattern after working side by side the past two weeks, and that had not stopped today. He continued to make drinks, quieter than he usually was, though he doubted Revali even noticed.

That was, until three hours later, when the rush-hour traffic hit around five pm, when Revali made a comment about him finally “shutting up” for once. And then another one, ten minutes later, when Link spilled another drink, teasing him about not being able to use his own hands. Once the rush hour was over and business slowed, Revali turned to him and gave him his full attention. “What’s up with your face?” He asked, making a motion with his hand as if to say Link’s full face was a problem.

“What’s up with you leaving me alone, bird brain.” Link grit out, making himself a sweet blueberry tea to sip on. There was a lump in his throat and honestly, he just felt like crying. Why couldn’t Revali just leave him alone? The barista looked away from the black-haired man, working on a customer’s order, not wanting to talk to him.

Except, it happened again, an hour later, Revali making a side comment about something that Link was doing- Link hadn’t heard the words, not really, but he got the gist of Revali’s mocking tone. By that point, he had tuned it out, just another jab from the universe saying that he would never truly be enough in the grand scheme of things. He took the pain in stride, used to feeling like the world was against him, though by now it really should not hurt that much for him to take day in and day out. He might have been naive to assume that Revali would not have been a problem. That was his mistake.

“Shit,” He grumbled to himself while he cleaned up yet another spilled drink five minutes before closing, the tension from the day hitting him roughly. Link could feel Revali’s heated glare on his back from across the way, knowing that he was just going to snap. “Link, are you-” Revali couldn’t even finish whatever insult he was going to say before Link stood and looked at him, tears pooling in his eyes.

“Can you just leave me alone?” His voice sounded wrecked from the lump that was in his throat, constricting and making it crack like a teenage boy. Revali’s mouth shut with an almost audible snap before he approached Link, ignoring the waiting customer at the counter, and took a hold of his arm.

Revali walked Link to the breakroom and sat him down on the old black couch, looking hesitant before saying anything, watching the crying boy in front of him. Link was not sure if he was being made fun of at this point- what would Revali get out of him breaking down in the middle of the empty room? Especially when he could just let him stay in the front for everyone to watch?

“Just breathe through it. I’ll take care of the front.” It was almost an order, Link thought, as he watched the man walk out of the room and to the front. The blender sounded a minute later, Revali obviously making the customer’s drink, giving Link some background noise to calm himself down to.

This was embarrassing. Humiliating, even. The guy who hated him had to sit there and watch him have a breakdown like that over something as stupid as Revali’s taunts. He felt pathetic, working himself into another sort of panic.
I’m pathetic, why did Zelda even hire me? I’m a wreck, she should have chosen someone better than me to help her store, why me? Revali hates me, he wants someone who’s actually competent and knows what they’re doing, not a dumbass who can’t even control his own breathing when he gets too worked up, not a person that constantly messes up and just ruins everything he touches. I’m useless, why couldn’t she had picked someone else, wh-

A snapping finger brought Link’s attention away from the thoughts swarming his brain, his gaze lifting up as he felt a warm hand settle on the back of his neck, pushing his head down to stare at the ground. “Breathe, idiot.” Link had been wheezing, he realized, dragging in breath after breath while he stared at the floor, noticing stains that had probably been there for years, noticing the occasional chocolate chip or drink topping that needed to be swept up.

Once his breathing was manageable, Revali removed his hand and watched him, raising an eyebrow once Link looked up at him. “What is it?” Revali’s tone left nothing for Link to hide, and after a hesitant breath, he told him everything. How he was afraid that he would not be able to pay his bills, how his car had broken down, how he felt like Zelda should have picked someone else instead of him and how he felt guilty that she had to do so many favors for him. The other barista listened without interrupting, sitting down in the chair across from him, his leg moving constantly like he couldn’t sit still.

Those green eyes stayed locked on Link’s as if they were peering into his very soul. After Link finished talking, wiping his eyes from his crying, -he shouldn’t be crying, he thought- Revali leaned forward, taking a deep breath before talking. “You aren’t a screw-up. You make mistakes, just like everyone else. I make mistakes, hell, I think I spilled at least twenty drinks my first week here. Just because you’re having a bad day- a bad week, even- does not mean that you are a screw-up.”

Link’s breath hitched and he looked away from him, not expecting that sort of reaction. He did not know what he had been expecting, but it certainly wasn’t that. He felt relieved, honestly, especially from Revali’s encouragement. “Besides, Zelda wouldn’t do anything she does not want to, and that includes hiring you to work here.” Revali was right about that- she was the strongest woman he’d had the pleasure to meet during his years in Hyrule.

Maybe Revali was not his enemy, after all. Enemies didn’t build you up once you have fallen, nor did they give you a reassuring look that spoke louder than the encouraging words that they’ve spoken to you. Revali seemed alright.

 

3

Revali had gotten his number, apparently.

Link had spent his off-time this week sleeping in, having paid to fix his car when it broke down last month, and was enjoying not getting up every morning at five to go to work. He did not enjoy the random number texting him at eight in the morning, somebody sending “Hello. Would you do me a favor?” in a probable attempt to kidnap him.

It was creepy, and gave him vague serial killer vibes, so of course, Link did what Link did best. He responded to the creepy text.

“who dis” Ah, yes, because he was hip with the kids nowadays. He almost turned over in his bed to go back to sleep, but the next text came right away, causing him to let out a curse of annoyance.

“Revali.” Of course the bird brain used proper English and punctuation while he texted others. Link did not know what he should have expected otherwise- but another question came over him once his mind was awake enough to think clearly.

“how did u get my number?” He sent, sitting up in bed and running a hand through his hair, glancing over at the cacti on his nightstand as if it held the answers to the universe. His phone did not buzz for a while, but he was awake now, so it was time to get up and get ready for the day.

He made a quick breakfast of cereal before he pulled on some clothes other than pajamas, and munched on it while waiting for Revali to text back.

The response came almost half an hour later, followed quickly by another. “Zelda gave me your number.” Revali sent before, “Could you cover my 2-9 shift today? It is an emergency.” That got Link’s attention immediately. He knew that Revali wouldn’t ask favors of him like this without a solid reason, and who was he to leave Zelda stranded, especially when he had nothing planned but to sit on the couch and binge-watch a show all day.

He sent a quick text saying that he would, getting a “Thank you.” from Revali before he started getting ready, changing his clothes once more into his work uniform. He was glad that Revali had text him before he got too comfortable, otherwise…. No, he still would have covered his shift, even if he was dead exhausted. Weeks ago, maybe not, but something had definitely changed last month when Revali had walked him out of his anxiety attack. Even Revali’s taunts at work seemed to have slowed down and lost their bite to the point where Link wondered if he had just imagined the harshness during his first few weeks at Vah Beans.

Hours later, he walked into the coffee shop with a grin, seeing Zelda at the register. It was not too busy now, but he knew that it would pick up soon enough. Before anything else, he made a point to get down to his knees and hug the Mudkip statue- at this point in his life, Link thought that he needed as much good luck as possible. There were a few stares from customers, but most ignored him. He didn’t care.

“Revali asked me to cover his shift,” Link gave as an explanation to his appearance, pulling on the apron and clocking in once he was behind the counter. Zelda nodded, handing some kind of frappe to the customer at the counter. She seemed quiet today, but there were days where he was the one holding the conversation, and that was okay with him. He had learned over the years that Zelda was a very mature woman, even when they had been kids. She had grown up too fast with her mother’s death, and Link understood her troubles with being open with others. With just communicating her feelings. Link knew that Zelda tried, and she was too hard on herself, but he would always be there to support her whenever she needed him. Most of the time, that included him talking to her, telling her about his day or what was on his mind.

As he made himself a large frappe, one that Revali had taught him, he thought about what he should talk to her about. Most of their usual interests haven’t updated since they last talked, so those were out of the window. There was something that he could bring up, though.

“Revali isn’t as bad as I thought he was,” He started with a sheepish look, a smile pulling at his lips. Zelda gave him an almost mocking look, as if saying, “really? I never would have guessed.” Link snickered, rolling his eyes. “Oh shut it,” He grumbled, huffing out a breath even though she had not said anything at all. She gave a small chuckle as if to say his exact thoughts before turning to the machine and making her own drink.

 

Link got busy with a customer at the counter, putting in their order on the shiny and new not-so-Piece-Of-Shit system (dubbed by Revali, of course). The coffee order was not too difficult, so Link made it himself, making sure to not mix up the kinds of milk and keep everything off the floor. Once he was done, he turned back to Zelda, taking in how she seemed a bit calmer than earlier.

“When I first got here I thought Revali was going to stuff me into the backroom and leave me there until someone started asking questions.” Link said, his tone all serious for someone who was trying to cheer up a friend. Zelda looked up at him, eyes wide with shock before a giggle tumbled out of her.

“You did not!” She spoke with mirth entwined in her voice, as if daring him to say otherwise. She probably could not believe it, that someone had been wary of Revali, of that someone being Link himself. Link was not usually scared of many things, much less people, but… there was just something about Revali. At least, there had been those first few weeks.

“I absolutely did.” He heard Zelda’s snort at that, grinning while he turned to clean up the counters before their next use. He hummed to the music that played through the shop, something familiar that he knew was in Zelda’s personal playlist.

“And now?” Her question made him pause, trying to remember what they had been talking about. Revali. What about now?

“Has that changed? You being scared of him?” She reiterated, her green eyes pinning him with a look that suggested he better tell the truth. He wouldn’t lie to her, anyway, and opened up a little bit.

“I… I’m not sure.” Link hesitated, knowing that this was true for him, at least, for now. Revali still made him cautious, but he wasn’t scared of him. He was not sure if he had ever been truly scared of the man, with how their reactions went when they happened to be in the same room. Link did think that Revali was a strong individual- one with very intense views on certain topics, perhaps.

He assumed that Revali had told Zelda about that instance a few weeks ago, so he began to explain why he was not sure about his own feelings towards the barista. “When I was working the double shifts, I wasn’t doing too well. I’m sure he told you, anyway.” More than sure, really. Link just knew that Revali had told Zelda about what happened, how they should probably hire someone else, someone who was mentally stable.

Or maybe he had not. “Told me what?” Zelda asked, setting down her own rag before glancing at the door, waiting for more customers to walk in. There were none, however, so she returned her attention back to Link and his own crisis.

“I… had a fit before we closed, and he closed up shop and sat down with me in the back, listening to my problems and stuff.” Link felt embarrassed, so sure that Revali would have told her by now. It had happened weeks ago, and there had been more than a few points where they would have been alone for him to spill about Link’s meltdown in Vah Beans. He did not expect pity from Zelda, knowing that she was not one to give pity to others, so he was surprised when she did look upset.

“I didn’t know, Link… I’m sorry I didn’t notice how stressed you were. Next time just let me know and I can spot you the cash, you can pay me back another time.” She began, guilt flooding her features. Link felt his heart hammer- he didn’t like relying on others, especially Zelda, who had given him so much for only his friendship. Realistically, Link had also been there for Zelda, through her father’s death, when she was in school, and even now, helping her in the coffee shop. Relying on her favors only felt like taking advantage of her, of the kindness she held.

And so he told her that. “You didn’t have to, that’s not your job, to look after me. I would feel like I’m… using you for your favors. You have been my friend for years, I don’t… I don’t want to put a strain on that, you know? Even this job- you could have chosen anybody, accepted anyone’s application, but you still chose me. I still do not understand why.”

Link was interrupted from saying anything more by a group of customers coming into the shop, all ordering something sweet and with enough sugar to cause a sugar high. One of the drinks looked interesting, though, so he mentally strove to remember what it was so that he could try it later. Once the customers were gone, Zelda was free to continue their conversation, much more talkative than she had been an hour ago when he had first arrived.

“Truthfully, there was nobody else I could hire. Few were sending in applications, and those who did Revali almost instantly advised me not to hire. He’s been around Hyrule much more than I have, has connections, knows people…” She paused, before continuing, “Revali heard about you from me, and if he would’ve told me not to hire you, I probably wouldn’t have.” Link was taken aback, not really sure how he felt about that statement.

“What?” He asked, not knowing if he heard Zelda right, or if his mind had played tricks on him. Revali had a say in the hiring process? At least, more than what would be considered normal. And he approved of Link? Yet, the first two weeks said otherwise, Link thought.

Zelda looked sheepish. “Sorry, no offense to you, I just… Revali has been here for a while and is only looking out for me and the shop. If dad hadn't chosen me… Revali would probably own the shop.” She shrugged, as if it weren’t a big deal, but Link’s entire world was unknown now.

“But why?” He asked, eyebrows furrowed, conversation derailed by a Karen Customer (a Pain-In-The-Ass, Revali called them, PITA for short) entering the store. She ordered some death-trap of a drink that Link made sure to follow exactly, resisting the urge to spit in her drink when she said that he had forgotten a shot of espresso, which he had not, but he poured one in just because he did not feel like dealing with it today. Once she was gone, he turned back to Zelda.

“You’re his daughter, why would he choose Revali over you?” It did not make sense. Link could not work it out in his own head, knowing that Zelda was the only person who could ever love this coffee shop as much as she did.

Zelda smiled wistfully, sipping on her coffee before she began to speak. “He was like a son to my father. When Revali was young, my father took him in. Gave him a place to stay and Revali worked the shop.” She shrugged, as if it truly was not a big deal, used to it by now it seemed. “I’m honestly surprised you haven’t met him before, but a few years ago he left, didn’t come back until..” Zelda paused, collecting her thoughts before continuing, “a year ago, maybe? Maybe a year and a half.” She nodded, looking back over to Link.

Link nodded, about to continue the conversation until the after-work traffic started up, and they got busy. He was left with these revelations in his mind for weeks to come- how had not met Revali sooner, if he had been so close to Zelda? Why did Revali approve of him, especially if he taunted him for weeks? And what was that feeling in Link’s chest that made him feel like he swallowed a beetle? (Now that he thinks about it, he might have actually swallowed a beetle. It would not be the first time.)

 

2

“One medium cappuccino for Urbosa!” Link called, sliding the coffee cup onto the counter before returning to complete more orders, seeing an extremely tall woman grab the cup, almost dwarfing it in her hand. Alright, maybe she wasn’t extremely tall to most men, but Link had the worst height genes in Hyrule it seemed. He was waiting for Revali to come to the store, though a quick glance at his watch said that it would be another ten minutes before he could expect the man. They had fallen into a steady rhythm at work, and Link came to enjoy it after a while.

Now, with the sudden rush of customers, he found himself wishing that Revali would come early, to see how busy it was and help him out. Probably would not happen, but Link didn’t care; he wished anyway. And maybe the universe was looking out for him, maybe the butterfly effect was strong, or perhaps there was something out there that wanted him to have a good day. Unlikely, due to his usual luck, but maybe. Two customers and one PITA -not a Karen this time, but a Daryll- later, the bell tolled the chime of Revali walking into the store and almost hitting the line. Link’s eyes followed him for a moment before he continued topping one drink while the other went into a blender to be mixed up, able to multitask like this after so much time at the store.
“One vanilla bean creme and two caramel swirls for Batman!” He called, almost rolling his eyes at the name that someone had chosen; it was not the first, nor would it be the last time that people were “funny” like that. Batman came to Vah Beans every week, it seemed.

“Hey,” Revali spoke as he clocked in and pulled on his apron, getting merely a glance from Link before getting to work, taking orders while Link made the drinks. Soon enough, the sudden rush was over and there were only a few people in the shop, either students working on their homework or some on dates. It was cute, Link thought, to go to a coffee shop for a date. He would enjoy it, if anyone actually liked him and would ask him out on a date, though there was not much of a chance of that happening.

Link sighed as he thought about it, taking a sip of his whipped cream and berry drink before glancing over at Revali. The man was making his own drink, turned away from Link to where Link could appreciate his hair- recently, Revali had gone to the shop and gotten a shorter undercut for his hair. It looked nice, Link thought, watching the bun bounce as Revali nodded his head to the music, seeing a stray few strands poking out of the up-do.

And then his eyes lowered.

That’s a nice ass- what the fuck am I really thinking about Revali’s ASS right now?

Link’s cheeks burned red in his own shame as he turned away, finishing his drink before he could start staring even more. The blond was embarrassed, yes, but it was even worse when Revali didn’t know what was happening in Link’s mind. The sounds of the blender cut off as Revali ended it, and there were some ice sounds, some toppings being opened before the whip cream tool was used.

By that time, Link had gained his composure once more, the thought fleeting and unimportant. Revali turned to him, giving him a straw and handing his drink over, a crooked smile falling onto his lips. “Try it.” He said, smile widening when Link took the cup and had a sip of it. Link’s eyes widened in shock at the taste of buttermilk and berries mixing with the whipped cream, and he smiled up at Revali.

“I… really like it. It’s mine now.” He said, holding the cup towards himself, just joking. “That’s okay, you keep it. I’ll make another for me.” Revali shrugged, turning back to the blender and leaving Link in shocked silence. This was… not expected. Link thought that Revali would have wanted his drink back, but if he wanted Link to have it… well, it was very tasty. He would enjoy it immensely.

Hours passed at the job while they worked flawlessly together, not a single mistake or spilled drink. Link was proud, really. He manned the counter while Revali made the drinks, and then they ran out of the mocha drizzle.

“I’m going to run to the storage and get the drizzle, I’ll be right back,” Revali called, leaving Link to work with the two customers in the front. It wasn’t much of a hassle, so he took down and made the first customer’s (yet another who chose “Batman”, why couldn’t they be original for once?) drink before turning to the second customer, a young woman who looked around his own age. He took down her order, about to turn around when suddenly, she asked “Do you have an Instagram?”

Link paused, unsure of what was going on. He didn’t post on Instagram and Zelda did not post him on the store’s social media, so he shouldn’t be on there. Besides, he valued his privacy greatly and honestly did not want to have a stranger perceiving him. “No, sorry.” He shook his head, looking at the lady in confusion.

“Oh, that’s okay. Could I.. erm.. Get your phone number instead?” She asked, cheeks reddening under a blush. Oh. OH. She was asking for his number. She was flirting with him.
Link’s reaction, of course, was to freak out internally. “I-I, uh, don’t have a phone.” He stammered out. His external reaction was also to freak out, apparently. This was a great moment in time for his phone to buzz in his pocket, loudly, drawing the embarrassed girl’s attention to it. Things were silent between them for a few moments before he turned to make her order, seeing Revali watching them. He couldn’t meet his eyes, hands shaking in humiliation.

Once the drink was made, Revali handed it to her and watched her leave the store while Link stared at the floor, utterly embarrassed. A chuckle sounded from his right, where Revali now stood, and caused him to look up; he did not like Revali mocking him any more than he did when he first started working at Vah Beans.

But Revali wasn’t mocking him, not really, not when his emotions seemed to have something else to say. “That was cute,” He teased Link, amused at what had gone down. “That was awful,” Link grumbled in a retort, running a hand through his own hair. “I didn’t know what to do,” He admitted, shaking his head at his own antics- why couldn’t he have said literally anything else?

“Did you want to give her your number?” Revali asked, his attention no longer on the blond barista at his side while they waited for another customer. The man shook his head; he hadn’t, but he still should have been nicer the way that he let her down like that.

“Then you did what you could. Don’t feel bad for turning someone down when you don’t want to be with them, Link.” The advice came suddenly, and it sent a wave of shock through Link’s core. Was Revali talking from personal experience? He seemed oddly at ease with giving Link advice now. Maybe it was because they were friends now, and before, they hadn’t been. That brought up a question that had plagued his mind for days.

“Why did you approve of me for Zelda but act the way you did when we met?” He asked, finally meeting Revali’s eyes. Link was taken aback to see the seriousness that filled them, speaking eras of hard work and dedication. He could see now why Revali could have inherited the coffee shop.

“What do you mean?” Revali’s eyebrows furrowed as he looked at him, about to say something else before the door chimes announced the presence of a new guest. Link put on a smile, as was expected of an employee that should be hyper on caffeine, and greeted them, taking down their order. Revali made it as quickly as he could, and then he handed it out to the person who had a normal-sounding name.

Link shrugged, not wanting to continue the conversation with Revali when he did not seem to realize what he had acted like.

“Oh, she told you?” The barista asked, though it sounded less of a question and more of a personal murmuring to himself. Link nodded, taking a sip of his drink and looking away. “Yeah.” His voice was flatter than he had tried for, but he was confused and utterly tired of not knowing what was going on inside Revali’s head.

Revali took a deep breath and then let it out, as if thinking about what to say. Link finally looked back as the green-eyed man spoke. “I wanted to know if you were reliable.” The words were something that Link expected- it made perfect sense, too, with how Zelda told him about Revali looking out for the shop.

A sudden rush of customers allowed them to have a break from each other for half an hour, busy with taking down orders, making the drinks, and calling out the (usually ridiculous) names that the people gave to them.

They did not talk much after that, mostly just communicating for the sake of work while Link honed in his focus on making drinks for the rest of their shift. By the time they were supposed to start cleaning up, he was tired and ready to go to bed, annoyed that he had to walk back home when his feet already ached.

But then his eyes caught on the small bucket of water that he was using to clean, and he took his phone out of his pocket, setting it down near the blender. Link turned, seeing Revali at the register, and an almost sinister smile crept across his lips, though he tried hard to hide it. He put the rag he was using to clean into the bucket, rang it out, and then called Revali’s name.

As soon as Revali turned around to see what he was needed for, the wet rag hit his face, staying there for a moment before slowly sliding down. Revali stood stock-still as it did so, prompting Link to start giggling. It was a strange thing, for Link to laugh so much at something as silly as this, and he took himself by surprise to hear it. Revali must have been surprised too, because a small, barking laugh escaped his chest before he darted forward, dipping his hand in the water and cupping some to throw at Link.

Link shrieked, rushing away but carrying the water bucket with him, which wasn’t a great idea since it was so heavy and slowed him down. Revali caught up to him easily, though let out a squawking noise when the entire bucket was accidentally poured into him.

The shorter barista gaped in shock and dawning horror when he locked eyes with the now soaked Revali, whose eyes gleamed brightly at the mischief they were causing.

“Oh, you’re on.”

Revali’s mouth curved into a smooth grin, one that sent shocks down to Link’s stomach, and then the chase was on throughout the drink stations. “Wait! No! I didn’t mean to-aagh!” Link was in the middle of stammering out apologies and running when his foot skidded into the puddle and went out from under him, sending him barreling towards the ground. He shut his eyes to prepare for impact, when a sudden tug at his shirt kept him upright and then pulled flushed to something wet but warm.

Link opened his eyes to see Revali’s face, merely inches away from his own, his body pressed against the other man’s in an embrace to keep him from falling. His gaze traveled down the other’s face, stopping at his lips before looking back to his eyes.

I want to kiss him right now…

Link was surprised by the thought, but found it to be true. At that moment, all he really wanted to do was to erase the gap between them, to see what it felt like to kiss him, But then the moment passed, and Revali was pulling away, making sure that Link was steady although his own thoughts nearly knocked him off his feet again.

“I apologize, I didn’t mean for things to escalate… Are you okay?” Revali asked, looking over Link for something, maybe injuries or something else. “Y-Yeah.” Link hated how shaky his voice was, especially when it caused a heavy blush to sit on his cheeks, but felt relief when Revali turned to the backroom, saying something about a spare change of clothes.

Fuck.

 

1

Tapping his feet against the floor to the tune of the song playing from the coffee shop’s small speakers, Link focused on making some absolute nightmare monstrosity of a drink. Chatter filled the air as the patrons of Vah Beans made the atmosphere homely, finals season fully in swing. There were talks about study lists, cheating, and many, many conversations about dropping out of school to become a stripper. Link knew the feeling.

Revali stood at the counter, his warm gaze on the customers who asked for drinks to keep them awake when they looked like they had been up for days at that point; Link wished that he would have been able to go to school, but after seeing these kids like this it put him off of it. Besides, he didn’t really know what he would’ve studied if he had gone, anyway. Working at Vah Beans made him happy for now, and he would not give that away for anything.

“One medium banana acai for Mera!” He called out, setting the mixed frozen banana drink down on the counter with a look of disgust. Even Revali, who had made at least thirty off-the-menu mixes for Link to try, looked as if he wanted to throw the drink in the trash.

The person who approached the counter for the cursed drink had short, blond hair and a bright smile, their eyes gleaming. Apparently, Revali found it funny that Link shrank away from the small person who seemed amazing if you ignored the awful drink that they now held.

“Don’t even say anything.” Link grumbled as they watched the person leave, a shiver going down his spine. Who drank frozen banana drinks? What kind of person did that to themselves? Link didn’t even realize that they had frozen banana chunks in the store.

Link sighed and shook his head, throwing those thoughts away. He did not get paid enough for this kind of torture, honestly. The line slowed to a stop for a few minutes after that, Link and Revali wiping down the counters and blenders together quickly. “Thanks.” Link murmured to his coworker as Revali slid into the spot next to him, their bodies close to touching but not.

Revali shrugged, as if it weren’t a big deal, and then returned to his spot at the counter once he was done.

Clouds were already darkening the sky, and a few minutes later Revali looked out the windows, letting out a soft sigh. “It is going to storm soon.” He told Link, who only nodded, barely hearing him over the whirling of the blender. Revali was not wrong; merely half an hour later the sky split open, thunder and lightning making their presence known to the mortals who lived in Hyrule.

The day lasted for a while considering that they were open until midnight all during finals season, so when Link’s feet dragged on the floor, Revali only gave him a shove towards the backroom, mumbling something about a “much-needed break from a certain idiot”. Link did not mind- Revali was looking after him, he realized as he plopped onto the couch while Revali closed up the shop.

He sighed, resting his feet before closing his eyes, body dragging with exhaustion. A fifteen-minute nap wouldn’t hurt anyone, and he could just order an Uber to take him home since it was so late. Thoughts raced in his mind as he tried to power down, though he almost gave up on the idea of sleep until he was finally dragged under.

The room was empty, except for Link, who stood near the wall as his heart raced. “Link?” It was Revali who stood in front of him now, that rare smile unfolding on his lips as he looked at the blond. “There you are…” Revali’s voice sounded closer, sending a shiver down Link’s back. He walked even closer towards Link, one hand slipping into the palm of his own hand, giving it a small squeeze. Then, Revali leaned closer, his eyes slipping shut, and Link moved forward to meet him there, when-

Link’s eyes were open the second someone was shaking him, his heart hammering as he awoke from his rest, hand catching on whoever had been trying to wake him.

Sharp green eyes met his own as Link gripped Revali’s wrist in a tight grasp, taking a moment to ground himself. He felt embarrassment flood his body and he hesitantly let go of Revali, missing the warmth in seconds- when had it gotten so cold?

“Sorry,” He mumbled, his hand moving up to scratch the back of his own neck as he looked away. “I’m not used to people waking me up.” It was the truth- he had lived alone for far longer than he should have, with nobody but his plants keeping him company.

Revali nodded in what looked like understanding, and sat there listening to the sounds of the storm. After fishing out his phone from his pocket, Link didn’t really know how long it would take for an uber to come to get him- but it turns out that he did not need to worry about that.

“I can give you a ride home, if you want?” Revali’s voice got him out of his thoughts, making his gaze fall to the man who sat beside him on the couch. “Oh… um… sure?” Link winced at the uncertainty in his voice, too flustered from whatever kind of dream he had just been in.

Revali gave him a weird look at that, but it was not as if Revali didn’t give him strange looks all the time, so Link just stood and stretched, a groan tumbling out of his lips before he could stop it. When his eyes opened again, Revali was staring at him, his mouth agape like a fish. Link snorted, walking past him towards the entrance of the shop, lightning lighting up the store brightly for a moment.

“How do I know that this isn’t a plan to bring me to a secluded place and kill me?” Link asked, not truly wary but isn’t that what you are supposed to do when a stranger offers you a ride? He could vaguely remember something about “stranger danger” but this was Revali, and he trusted him by this point.

“You don’t.” Or maybe he did not trust Revali, not when the man was so quick to smirk at him and go along with his teasing.

Link huffed out a laugh, shaking his head as he peered out the windows, looking at the rain that poured down without a sign of stopping.

He did not have an umbrella. Crap. He’d get Revali’s seat all wet.

He went to say something about that, an apology maybe in advance, only to see that Revali held a large umbrella, not unfolded yet, in his hands. A grin settled on his lips- Revali always knew what to do, had plans for everything, didn’t he?

“Let’s go,” Revali murmured once he was close to him, opening the door and handing the umbrella to Link, who held it above them both while Revali locked the door to the shop. Some drops of water landed on them because Link did not want to invade Revali’s personal space, but soon enough they were walking to the car, sides occasionally touching.

Link was hyper-aware of it; was Revali as well? Did the other man think about how their skin touched here and there, their closeness in the storm? Did Link only feel like this because of the dream he had?

Revali reached for the umbrella, fingers brushing against Link’s, and then led him to the passenger side, opening the door and letting him in like a gentleman. Link’s face felt hot with appreciation, and he was more flustered than he needed to be. Once the door closed, Link tried to calm down, looking around the inside of the sleek vehicle. There were small blue lights in the doors, and Revali seemed to keep the car clean, no spots of spilled food or papers on the ground or anything. That was, until Link glanced into the back seat, spotting papers on the seat and a few empty water bottles on the floor.

The driver’s side door opened with Revali getting in, the door frame collecting raindrops instantly before he shook his umbrella and folded it up, putting it in the backseat floorboards.

“Hey,” Link started, unsure of what he really wanted to say while Revali shut the door and got the car started up.

“Mhm?” Revali hummed quietly, his eyes flickering to Link before he turned on the heater. The rush of heat to Link’s body made him nearly melt in pleasure, not having realized how cold he had been in the rain.

“Thank you,” He murmured, sleep catching up to him once more, his eyelids growing heavy enough that he could not keep them open, no matter what he tried. Maybe he was imagining it when he heard the gruff voice of the man beside him say something that suspiciously sounded like a “Rest well, Link.” He probably was imagining it.

Wasn’t he?

 

+1

“A large extra-yellow lemonade for… Udog?” Link really did not know how to pronounce the name of the person who had ordered the drink that, if he hadn’t made it himself, looked suspiciously like something he didn’t even want to think about. The… person?... slithered up to the counter, a yellow onesie wrapped around him. A yellow gecko onesie, at that. Link could not see the signs of a face through the hood that the person wore, leaving everything to the imagination as the Udog took their suspicious drink and clacked out of the store, scaled shoes making a hyper-realistic sound against the tiled floor.

“And we thought the people in their fursonas going to the convention last month were strange,” Revali’s voice huffed from where he stood wiping down one of the cafe’s tables, taking advantage of the shop’s current lack of customers to make the place look rather presentable. Link snorted at that, his laugh more of an exhale, and focused on making Revali a drink that one of the patrons had ordered not too long ago.

It seemed to be some sort of blackberry acai drink that slowly shifted in color gradients until the top, where it became strawberry flavored. Link thought it looked beautiful, and he could not help but think about Revali when he had first made it.

The man in question hopped behind the counter, his hair trailing after him. He hadn’t put it in his usual man bun today- most of his hair had found its way into braids that Link envied, wishing that he had the talent and the looks to pull that style off. It did look better on Revali, though. That much he knew without even trying the style.

After carefully making the fruity mixture, he slid it across the counter with a practiced ease, grinning when the cup was caught by Revali’s uncanny reflex. Link watched Revali take a sip, not wanting to admit to himself how his eyes caught on the purse of the man’s lips, the way that Revali had to think about the drink before he made up his mind. “It’s not bad,” The barista muttered, shrugging to himself as he took another sip. And then another after that.

Link hid his smile; Revali liked it. He would have to make the drink for him again sometime.

The months working at Vah Beans had passed faster than Link had expected; especially those where he worked side by side with Revali, the man he had once disliked so much. It was strange to think about it now, how Link had dreaded coming to work because of him and now how he looked forward to it. He would like to think that they had become friends in the time that they’d known each other.

Revali was not really as bad as Link had assumed in the beginning; sure, he had his moments, and could be rough around the edges, but Link realized now that he was truly only looking out for Zelda, and the shop. Besides, their friendship was something he didn’t realize that he needed before.

“Here,” Revali handed him a drink, a large purple coffee that faded to a pink and caramel swirl at the bottom. The blond barista grinned, taking his time examining the drink before reaching for the straw, only to find a sticky note at the top.

“Date?” The sticky note wrote, Revali’s scrawl of cursive on it.

Link glanced up to Revali, who was watching him, cheeks blushed with red. Huh, Revali looked handsome when he was blushing. Link checked his phone before the bell announced the entrance of somebody else, and then looked back to Revali.

He didn’t understand why Revali was so worked up about asking what today’s date was; maybe it was because he didn’t know and therefore felt like an idiot or something? Link wasn’t sure.

“It’s Friday the fourth.” Link spoke, turning to the customer with a smile, taking down the order with long-practiced ease. When he turned to hand the order to Revali, the man was standing in the same spot, staring at Link with one of his familiar looks. Link could recognize it- after all, it was his “you’re an idiot but I don’t want to yell at you” gaze. He had been subject to that look too many times in the last few months to not know exactly what it was.

Link heaved a sigh, starting on the order himself, wondering what he had done wrong this time. Scanning through his memories of the past hour did nothing, at least, until their most recent interaction.

“Oh.” His breath stuttered out of him like he was an old car. Link was an idiot. The note wasn’t asking for the date, it was asking him if he wanted to go on a date.

Link finished up the customer’s order with shaky hands, almost making a mistake and adding mocha to it when it needed caramel. Soon enough, he handed the drink to the waiting customer and turned to Revali, who had begun to distract himself by ordering the toppings cabinet by alphabetical order. Revali never did that.

“I’m an idiot,” Link huffed out a laugh while he approached Revali, looking up at him with his head echoing his own heartbeat.

“When are you not?” The retort was fast and made Link’s heart beat even quicker, having convulsions in his chest. He wanted to yell at it, wiping his sweaty hands on his uniform black pants. Link was flustered, now, not really knowing what to say.

“I’ll go on a date with you.” He blurted out; not really the best way to admit your crush on somebody, but it would do the trick. Revali turned to him, raising an eyebrow, almost able to hide the smile that was appearing on his face. But he didn’t, and so Link took it, imprinting it into his mind so that he could never forget it.

“Good.”