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Six degrees of separation.

Chapter Text

 

 

“Everything is connected” Is a wonderful phrase. It is fitting of humans. Equivalent to their desire to connect to others, and reassure themselves of their existence through that fact. John Guare popularised the theory of the six degrees of separation. A theory seemingly far-fetched, yet attractive. Thinking that you are connected to everyone by so little steps can be heart-warming.

Link pondered, sitting in a sunny patch of warm, green grass in front of the literature building of his university, watching fellow students go by. By how many degrees was he separated from the tall, red haired woman running late to her lecture? Or from the attractive, black, long-haired teacher leaving the science building, a well-deserved cup of tea in hand. Thinking in six degrees shrunk the world around him to a size which he could comprehend. Every stranger seemed so much more familiar to him, as he wondered what their connection could possibly be.

The midday bells rang in the church tower of the small, university town. Link turned his gaze towards his left. The sports science building. Students in black and red jerseys bearing the university crest started to exit the building, group by group of friends. The blonde man observed them from the corner of his eye, inconspicuously sipping his hot chocolate to seem casual. One of them stood out more than the others. His large build was impressive even among university athletes, his long, fluffy red mane flowing down his back. Link couldn’t take his eyes off the impressive hair. It was really…fluffy. How on earth did hair become so fluffy? Did the man use a conditioner made out of cloud essence? The blonde man laughed internally as he imagined the cover of a cloud conditioner, though it didn’t really matter. He simply pondered once more.

How many degrees away was the man?

He was so close, simply walking towards the tennis court, still only a few meters away from Link. It would be so easy to reduce whatever number they were separated by to one by simply going up and striking a conversation with him. Even if he didn’t know sign language, Link had markers and a white board in his bag so they could still communicate. But what would he say? “Please write out all of your friends and their friend’s names so that we can see if we’re connected somehow?”  Yes. Great pick up line. He was definitely on the way to become the player of the university.

Link flinched at a familiar sensation on his head and shoulders. Zelda had creeped up on him from behind, resting her head and elbows on her friend, following his gaze and looking at the tennis court along with him.

“How did your weekly viewing go?” She asked with a smirk.

Link placed his cup onto the grass to sign. “How do you think?”

“Any chance you’re going to walk up to him at some point before we degrade and return to the soil?”

“Maybe in our next life.”

Zelda rolled her eyes in exasperation. “Anyway!” She claimed as she moved to sit on his right side. “When can we do the fitting? ComiCon is only two weeks away. I can’t leave my fans waiting.”

“I’m free this afternoon. I just have to help clean up our corridor. We have someone new coming in.”

“Someone new? At this time of year? Do you know why?”

Link simply raised his shoulders. He hadn’t been told, and he didn’t really care. Right now, he needed to juggle between writing assignments and sowing Zelda’s cosplay for the upcoming convention. He didn’t have time to focus on anything else. Still, his mind wandered towards the fluffy haired athlete. What would it be like to design costumes for his build? Making costumes for Zelda was fun, but he was used to her measurements. He would gladly welcome a change in routine.

“Well okay then.” She said, standing up. “Four o’clock it is. I’ll text you when I’m in front of your building so you can let me in.”

Link saluted with his left hand as a sign of agreement, watching his friend gleefully walk away. He stretched his arms over his head. It was time for him to go home as well. Grabbing his still warm hot chocolate, he headed towards his accommodation. It was close, on campus right next to the library building. It was very useful for people with complicated relationships with mornings as he had. It was a building with an old-timey feel. Link liked it.

There were three floors, each divided in two large corridors. Each of these were occupied by five people, sharing a kitchen and a bathroom. It was far from luxury, but what could one expect, living as a student? He hoped that the new resident wouldn’t ruin the quiet peace reining in his second floor corridor. Using his student card, he opened the door to his room, quickly falling in his favourite starfish position on his bed. His head turned to the right, he saw his laptop sitting on his desk, opened at the university portal page. Once he managed to get enough will power to leave the comfortable paradise, he had to start working on his assignment.

It was a few hours later that he heard the loud sound of boxes falling on the ground outside of his door. It seemed that the person who would be occupying the room next to him had finally started to move in. Welcoming the distraction from the boring work, he grabbed his whiteboard, prepared to introduce himself. Introductions were always nerve racking, especially as he couldn’t talk like most people could. There was always a possibility that the newcomer would make fun or shun him, it frankly caused him to tremble slightly. But today was okay.

This was the corridor he had been living in for months, filled with people he now called friends. In a way, it was his territory. He imagined it to be more nerve racking for the new person arriving in an already formed group of friends. With courage, he opened the door and looked to his right to greet his new neighbour. Unfortunately, none of his pep talk had prepared him for the situation he was now facing.

Crouching to grab a cardboard box, the man had put up his fluffy hair in a crimson ponytail. A fluffy crimson ponytail.

It was beautiful.

The athlete noticed that Link had come out of his room. He let down the box before walking up to the man, still in shock.

“Nice to meet you. I hope I didn’t bother you with the noise of the boxes. I’m Ganondorf but you can just call me Ganon.”

There was a small moment of silence as Ganon and Link stood still, the former feeling slightly uncomfortable as his stretched out hand seemed to be ignored. Noticing the awkward mood, Link quickly turned his board towards him to write out his name. He then immediately held it up at a height which would hide his face until he could figure out what expression to make.

“Link?” Said Ganon. The sound of the fluffy haired man’s voice as he said his name was more than Link could have ever expected.

The blonde man nodded. Erasing his name on the board to write the only thing his mind was able to process at that moment.

“It’s very nice to meet you.”

Ganon smiled. “It’s nice to meet you too. If you don’t mind though, I need to get back to moving and unpacking. We can talk later?”

Link nodded once more. They both waved at each other as the blonde man headed back to his room, closing the door as quick as he could without looking suspicious.

Ganon sighed. Looks like this place will be quiet at least… He thought. This particular living arrangement was only for a few months. All he needed to do was act polite enough for a while to avoid any stories. His friend had told him: a few smiles here and there. A few acts of kindness every now and then, and all should go well. At least he had one smile done.

Link was sitting on his carpeted floor; back stuck to the door he had just slid against. He looked at his white board. “It’s very nice to meet you.” It said. Nice to meet you.

They had met. They had talked. He had smiled. He had said his name. Had he acted okay? Did he seem weird? It didn’t seem like it hadn’t gone well. So hopefully, their first meeting was a success?  Link didn’t know what to think of the sudden change of situation between them. The sole thing which allowed him to escape the seemingly unending flow of questions to his brain was a text from Zelda. She was in front of the building. Without thinking twice, the blonde man opened the door in a hurry, rushing down the stairs to meet her, startling Ganon in the process as he was still moving boxes into his room.

Link had probably never pressed the door release button so hard in his life, under the panicked eyes of his friend.

“You look as if you’re being chased by a tiger. What’s wrong?” She asked, concerned.

“He’s here.”

“Who?”

Link spelled out his name the best he could.

“Ganon? That doesn’t help.”

“Fluffy hair!”

It took a second for the woman to understand what her friend meant. Her reaction however, was quite obvious.

“WHAT?” She screamed before Link rushed to cover her mouth, looking around to make sure no one had heard her. Calming down, Zelda pulled Link’s hand away.

“Why?” She whispered.

“He’s the new occupant.”

The woman’s smile rose up to the heavens.

“Ooooh. I see. You must be taking this so well.” She barely managed to say without laughing.

“This is no laughing matter!” Link signed expressively. It didn’t help with Zelda’s euphoria. “What do I do?” He continued.

“You live with him, get married, and adopt millions of children.”

Link had no words for how useless his best friend was being in his time of need, but he clearly showed it on his face.

“Okay, okay, I’ll help.” She said, wiping away the tears that had welled up from laughter. “For now, we’re going up to your room and, if we see him, we’ll say hi to your lovely neighbour.”

Link nodded. Both went up the flight of stairs, perhaps faster than he would have wanted, as Zelda led forward with a quick step. As their arrived to their floor, the woman opened the door to corridor to find Ganon carrying what seemed like the very last box. He put it down as he saw her entering, preparing himself to exchange introductions.

“Hello.” He said stretching his hand out. “I’m Ganondorf, or Ganon for short.”

Zelda took his hand to shake it. “I heard. Nice to meet you.”

“Do you also live here?” He asked.

“Oh no. I live off campus. I’m just bothering Link for fittings in preparation for ComiCon.”

“I see…” He said, looking at Link standing quietly in the background.

“Are you planning on going?” She asked. Planning to seize every opportunity she could.

Ganon averted his eyes. “Oh no. That’s not really my thing. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to start unpacking.” He said before grabbing the last cardboard box and heading into his room.

Zelda turned towards Link, raising her shoulders. “I tried.”

Link sighed. “Let’s just go in.”

As Link started to work on the sowing once the approximate fitting was over, Zelda sat on his bed, pensive. Now that she had seen the fluffy haired man from up close, she had this intense feeling of déjà-vu. As if she was familiar with his build. From somewhere. Somewhere…

She dug into her memories.

Somewhere…

“I KNOW!” She claimed in a loud voice, startling Link. He quickly turned around to sign.

“Don’t scare me like that!”

Zelda didn’t say anything. She simply stared at the confused man, giggling uncontrollably. It creeped Link out.

“I’m scared to ask why you’re so happy all of a sudden.”

“We’re going out tonight.”

Link raised his eyebrow, falling deeper into confusion. “Where?”

“Somewhere.” She said with a bright smile. Before Link could sign any objections, she laid down on the bed, admiring the posters on the wall. Rocking gently from side to side while humming a gentle melody. Link gave up on finding out what she was planning. In all the years he had known her, if there was one thing he had learnt, it was to not question every single one of her actions. Even if just to keep sane.

They went out a bit after seven, heading towards the small city centre. They quickly came close to a fabric shop, the one Link tended to use for most of his costumes. One of Zelda’s friends worked there, which was a big advantage when securing popular rolls of cloth. The man couldn’t help but wonder why they were heading there so long after closing time. Zelda took out her phone as they arrived in front of the entrance, dialling someone.

“It’s me. We’re in front of the shop.” She said before hanging up soon after. It wasn’t a minute later that the small, wooden door of the shop opened, showing a white haired woman with a bright smile.

“Welcome!” She said. “You’re right on time, We’re just about to start the fitting and flexibility test.”

“Great!” Said Zelda as she stepped in. “You know Link. Link, you know Impa.”

They both greeted each other with a friendly nod. Impa then led them towards the back of the shop. They entered what seemed like a living room. It was furnished with an old-fashioned sofa facing a rather elaborate photo set.

“This is where I do the tests and the photos for reference and personal use.” She said, winking. “I’ve shown you the photos right Zelda?”

“You have.” Said Zelda, rocking from side to side while sitting comfortably on the sofa, inviting Link to do the same. “Where’s your model?”

“He’s changing into the new cosplay. He’ll be out-” There were steps approaching from a door on their right. “Looks like he’s coming.”

“Thank me later.” Whispered Zelda to a still confused Link.

The door opened, exposing Ganon in an almost perfect “Hanzo” cosplay, although his hair was perhaps too long for the part. “I’m having trouble keeping the open part of the kimono stable on the side.” He said, focused on the costume before his eyes rose up to observe the room. “Is there a way to fix it in place or some-” He stopped as he noticed two unknown people in the room. At least people who should have been unknown.

“Hi again!” Said Zelda.

 

 

Chapter Text

His left breast…is out.

Link was unable to tear his sight from the exposed chest to his right. The intricate tattoo of the video game archer was drawn onto the skin of the fluffy haired cosplayer, starting from his wrist and reaching just above his nipple.

It was beautiful.

It was more than Link could have ever expected.

“What are they doing here!?” Said Ganon, his right hand raising the left side of the open kimono slightly as a reflex to cover himself up. As much as he wanted to wear the sleeve however, it would smudge the intricate drawing which he had to sit through for too long, and his time was more meaningful than his modesty.

All eyes in the room were focused on him. Impa bore the look of one who had no idea what she had done. The blonde girl… Zelda was it? Was grinning uncontrollably, so much that it made him uncomfortable. Not as uncomfortable as the incessantly staring eyes of his possibly mute neighbour however. It would have been less awkward if what the blonde man was looking at was anywhere close to his face. Instead, his eyes were clearly focused on his left breast. It was as if he wasn’t even trying to hide it. Was he aware of it? He crossed his arms in an attempt to show at least some modestly.

“That’s the friend I told you about, Zelda.” Answered Impa. “And the one next to her is her childhood friend, Link. He also makes cosplay.”

“Oh, we’ve already met.” Said Zelda, causing the white-haired woman to show a surprised expression. “He just moved next door to Link today.”

“Really?” claimed Impa. “What a small world…”

As the two women fell into a playful discussion about the world, Gan could not help occasional sideway glances towards Link, still focused on his exposed skin. Seriously…there had to be limits to how much one person could stare before it became rude. It was against the politeness he had shown previously that day, but he couldn’t bear it anymore.

He walked forwards, approaching the sofa in large steps. He could see Link react, finally moving his eye muscles, this time switching from Gan’s face to the exposed breast in irregular intervals. For some reason, that only served to annoy the cosplayer even more. He passed behind Zelda, who had stood up, having become heavily invested in her conversation with Impa. Once he was at arm’s reach, he placed his right hand underneath the chin of the blonde man, raising it in one quick, strong motion.

“Hey, my eyes are up here.”

Link instantly stopped staring. Rather, his eyes wandered all over the place, hoping to find a solution for the burning sensation which covered his face. He instinctively signed an apology before realising that Gan probably didn’t know what the movement meant. He turned his head to reach into his bag but the voice of the fluffy haired man stopped him in his tracks.

“Oh, don’t bother with the board if that’s what you were going for. I know sign language.” He said as he signed to prove his point.

Link seemed genuinely impressed, perhaps more by the world than by Gan’s knowledge. What were the chances?

“How come.” He asked before he could think.

Gan averted his eyes. “Oh, just…, for fun.”

Impa called out to the cosplayer and, perhaps too enthusiastically, he turned around to join her on the photo set where she was standing along with Zelda. Link could hear them discussing the costume and how it fit, testing it out for mobility in various poses. Zelda looked closely at the costume, following Impa’s eyes. Her eyes glanced towards Link, still sitting on the worn-out sofa. They were playful and provocative as she got closer and closer to Ganondorf.

“Let me just fix the left side of the kimono quickly.” She said, reaching in to the costume. Her eyes glanced once more towards the blonde man. They were more blatant in their provocation as she arranged the open kimono along with Impa. Link’s body twitched unconsciously, rising slightly above the sofa. He fully knew what his friend’s intentions were, yet she acted in this way because she knew his reactions too well. The trap was set in motion the moment he moved.

“Oh, thanks for the help Link!” She said while taking her hands and Impa away from the kimono and moving off the white cloth. “You’ll be better at it than me.”

Link showed a slight panicked expression as his gaze shifted towards Ganondorf, who was wearing a confused expression. The young man quickly turned his eyes away as they met Ganon’s. He desperately concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other while approaching the white cloth of the photo-set. Not daring to look up to the cosplayer’s face, knowing that his gaze would end up shifting to places that he shouldn’t be looking at, he focused on keeping his hands on the freshly sown cloth. Carefully, he tucked the kimono over the belt the way he remembered it being in the game, trying to ignore the gazes of the three people observing his every move; especially the one towering above him.  

Zelda watched her friend fiddle with a proud smile. She turned towards Impa, anticipating a smile from her good friend. However, what she found was a displeased looking Impa, looking at her rather than the two men who were supposed to be the current entertainment.

“What’s wrong?” She whispered, concerned.

The white-haired woman sighed before heading towards her model, ignoring her friend’s question. Or perhaps her disappointed sigh had been her answer.

Link backed away from Ganon, letting Impa pin the kimono in place with temporary pins.

“These should do for now.” She said, getting one last overall look at the costume. “What do you guys think?”

Link nodded in approval, using the excuse of observing the overall costume to steal a glance at the exposed skin. He had to make the most of it while it lasted.

“Zelda?” Asked Impa, ignoring the confusion she had caused in her friend’s mind.

“Oh, yeah. It looks good.” Said the blonde woman, shooting inquisitive looks to Impa while she observed the costume.

Impa ignored her glances, concentrating on her model.

“Great! Thanks Gan, you can change out of it now. I’ll fix the kimono in place and call you over for photographs in a few days. When are you free?”

“I have a competition in a month so my training is going to be more intense for a while. I’m free on Thursday though.”

“Thursday it is then.” She said, starting to clean up the set.

Link tapped on Zelda’s left shoulder. “Shall we go home?”

Zelda glanced towards Impa, disconnecting lighting cables. “I’ll…stay just for a little bit more. You can go home.”

Link nodded in acknowledgement. “See you tomorrow.”

“Sleep well.” She said, waving as the young man headed towards the exit.

Silence filled the small studio after the shop door closed after the student. Zelda ran her hand on her left arm, pondering.

“Can I help with cleaning up?” She asked the crouching woman next to her.

“No.” Said Impa. Surprising Zelda by her sharp response.

“Why are you so grumpy all of a sudden? You were perfectly fine an hour ago.”

Impa sighed once more. It only served to irritate the blonde woman.

“If you have something to say just say it.” She said, arms crossed.

“Why don’t you just go and join Link.” Said Impa. Rolling up the now disconnected cables before storing them into an old box, fitting in with the atmosphere of the small studio.

“What does Link have to do with this?” Zelda asked, juggling between feelings of irritation and confusion.

Impa opened her mouth, but was cut short by the dressing door opening. Ganon came out of it, feeling slight surprise at the two pairs of eyes staring at him. It seemed to be a recurring situation that day. As none of the women were talking, he was the one who broke the heavy silence.

“I left the cosplay on the rack.”

“Thanks.” Said Impa.

“I’ll see you Thursday.” He said as he walked towards the exit.

Both women waved goodbye to him, Zelda stopping moments before Impa did, just before Ganon closed the door behind him. When the door finally shut, the white-haired woman headed behind the white cloth, pulling the mechanism to roll it up.

“You still haven’t answered my question.” Said Zelda, arms crossed.

Impa briefly turned her gaze to meet Zelda’s, obviously quite annoyed, then turned it back to the cloth.

“I just realised the reason why you wanted to meet up today and got annoyed.”

“What do you mean?” Asked the blonde woman, genuinely curious.

Impa sighed once more, keeping her gaze on what she was doing. “Link has a thing for Gan, doesn’t he?”

“He has for months. I never noticed he was actually the model you were talking about until I met him properly today though.”

“So you immediately arranged for them to meet here.”

“Of course. What friend would I be if I didn’t?”

“Are you seriously saying that?”

Zelda became confused. “I’m not following you.”

Impa checked the rolled-up cloth, taking it down from the high hooks and putting it down in the box where black cables were already lying. “I don’t see friends when I look at you two.” She started, slowly walking towards Zelda. She put her index on the blonde woman’s forehead. “I see someone ridden with never-ending guilt and the cause of that guilt desperately trying to act as if nothing’s wrong.”

A chill ran down Zelda’s spine. She instinctively took a step back. Her hands started fidgeting as she stared at the feet of the woman before her.

“I don’t see what you-“

“Zelda.” Impa interrupted. “He’s mute; not paralysed on a bed unable to move. You don’t need to watch over every aspect of his life. Stop reducing him to something less than he is just because you feel guilty for what happened to him. You’re just trapping yourself unnecessarily.”

“But…” Zelda mumbled. “We’re always together. He needs me.”

“He doesn’t need you.”

Zelda’s head sprung upwards, meeting Impa’s gaze. The tall woman put her right hand on Zelda’s cheek, her gaze softening. “Friendship isn’t about needing each other. It should simply be feeling happiness while being around each other. You need to stop focusing all of your attention on him and focusing a bit on yourself, and the people around you. Make yourself happy for once.”

Zelda took a step back, turning towards the worn-out sofa. She grabbed her bag and put it around her shoulder, keeping her gaze away from Impa.

“I don’t see why I should change.” She said. “Everything’s been fine so far, and it’ll continue to be as long as I work hard.” She started to walk towards the exit. “Later.”

The blonde woman was about to put her hand on the shop door’s handle before she heard a strong voice from the studio.

“I love you.” It said. It was clear, carrying all the way to Zelda’s ear as if she was right next to her. Still, she couldn’t hide the almost imperceptible trembling in her voice. “You’re so focused on Link, did you even notice?”

“Later.” Zelda repeated, opening the small door and dashing out of the shop. Only silence was left once the door closed itself, blocking any sound from the dark streets.

Impa turned away from the door, letting herself fall into the low sofa. You’ve done it now… She thought, her head tucked in her hands in exasperation. She had never planned to confess so soon; especially in this manner. She just had been unable to hold back. Seeing Zelda force herself so much for Link to attain happiness, while she denied herself any form of it behind her smile. She knew that Link was also aware of the situation, he had the courtesy to stay silent. Any rejection from him would surely break the poor woman. But Impa could point it out. She could be the pillar Zelda needed to bring herself back up from the pit she had dug for herself many years ago. At least she wanted to.

********

Ganon walked towards campus, it was a strange route which he wasn’t used to. It felt wrong to turn left at the end of the shopping street, so wrong that he almost convinced himself to turn right, before remembering that campus was indeed this way. He craved his bed. Today had been more exhausting that he had planned it to be, both physically and emotionally. He couldn’t believe that someone at university knew about his modelling for Impa. He had no choice, he was blackmailed into doing it. It was easy to justify it. Still, he never wanted it to be public. He simply hoped that none of the two unplanned guests would blab while around people he knew from campus. He would have to talk with his new neighbour properly.

As he thought about his neighbour, he thought his imagination was playing tricks on him when he saw a familiar figure waiting on a bench next to the candy truck which always stuck around until ungodly hours on student nights, which he now realised was tonight. Happily munching on a candy floss cloud bigger than his own head was Link, calmly observing the people passing by in front of him. Before Ganon realised, he was walking towards him, driven by curiosity.

“What are you doing?” He asked the blonde man.

Link’s expression immediately brightened as he saw the fluffy haired man next to him. He sprung up on his feet, ready to sign, before realising that the giant pink cloud in his left hand was a major hindrance. Ganon sighed before taking it from Link’s hand, allowing him to talk properly.

“I didn’t know if you were told that the main entrance’s card reader was temporarily disabled at night for a few days. To enter at this hour, you need to go through the back door. I was worried that you would be locked out if you didn’t know.”

“Oh.” Said Ganon. He hadn’t been told about that. The dorm manager was quite busy with an assignment deadline when he was shown around the building, perhaps it had escaped him. Perhaps it was a good thing that he had been discovered by the small man tonight. “Thank you, I would have been in trouble if you hadn’t told me.”

Link showed a proud smile. “Glad to have helped.”

There was a small moment of awkward silence.

“Shall we…head home together then?”

 

Chapter Text

The two men walked casually towards campus, Ganon having to match his speed to his much shorter legged companion. Following various attempts at a regular conversation, the taller man ended up with the important role of cotton candy carrier while Link blabbered away, occasionally tearing off a piece when the larger man answered his questions.

For someone who can’t speak, he sure has a lot to say. Thought Ganon, observing the strange man walking next to him, he had to, to understand anything. The conversation was generic. The kind that everyone contained a script to in their heads upon properly meeting someone. What do you study? Where do you come from? The questions you ask but then immediately forget the answer to as you try to remember the other questions on the script to keep the conversation going. Ganon hated those conversations. They seemed useless. Just one formality that one had to go through in order to have a friendly relationship with someone.

This time however, it seemed strangely agreeable. Perhaps it was the ever-changing and vivid facial expressions of his companion. Rather than following the script, he seemed genuinely interested, intensely watching him as he answered the most mundane questions. Asking off-script follow-up questions. It was…refreshing. In a strange way.

Suddenly, as it was Link’s turn to answer a question, he simply tore a piece of cotton candy before he stretched it towards Ganon, noticing that the red-haired man hadn’t taken a single bite of the pink cloud.

“Oh no, I’m not the type to eat cotton candy. And it’s yours.” He objected

The shorter man however, did not budge. Intent on sharing his sweet delight with Ganon. Knowing that the conversation would most probably not move any further if he didn’t accommodate the blonde man, Ganon gave in. Link, expecting the other man to take the piece with his own hand, experienced a very minor, but very real, heart attack as Ganon leaned in to eat directly out of his hand: almost causing him to trip as he had temporarily forgotten how to walk.

“Happy now?” Asked Ganon, using his free hand to clear some sugar which had stuck to his lips.

I love you. Thought Link, dumbstruck at the events that had just unfurled. All functional thinking seemed to have stopped as he tried to breathe normally.

“Link?”

“I’m fine, sorry I just spaced out a bit.” He signed, trying to keep eye contact to a minimum as he did.

The conversation went on normally, with Link overly conscious of his every word. He had made the fluffy haired man smile a few times. He enjoyed his happy expression. It was a vivid change from the serious one he always wore whenever he walked around the university. Their conversation was still superficial. The typical banter between recent strangers. He wished to hurry and leave this part of their relationship. He wanted to be able to talk about anything with Ganon. About the stars, about cats, about clothes. Still, he enjoyed learning even the most mundane information. Where he had been raised, how many were in his family, what year he was in, if he had any plans after graduation. Mundane but important questions.

They arrived at their accommodation, each step they walked up together further sinking in the reality that they were neighbours. Each step up the narrow stairs led them closer to separation for the day. It didn’t sit well with Link. Sure, they would see each other in the morning, maybe in the common kitchen as they made breakfast, but it wasn’t enough. He didn’t want to just be neighbours. He didn’t want to be ‘the one who lives next to him.’ No. What he wanted was…

He grabbed onto Ganon’s top as the two started to separate for the night. The fluffy haired man turned around in surprise to face the slightly shaky blonde man. Link seemed to hesitate greatly, but still signed with determination the moment he started.

“Do you want to have coffee together sometime?”

“Do you mean tomorrow morning in the kitchen?”

Link shook his head vigorously.

“No, outside. Like a…” He hesitated before signing as small as he could. “date.”

“Oh.” Ganon was surprised by the sudden request. He looked down at the blushing man, wondering what to respond. This was a bit problematic. Link was Impa’s friend and someone he would meet often starting from today. If he refused him here, it would most probably be awkward every time they met. He wasn’t good with those kinds of social interactions, he thought it wiser to accept the proposition and arrange to be good friends in the neutral environment.

“Sure. I’m free tomorrow after my practice match if that’s fine with you.”

Link looked up with an overjoyed expression, the bright smile causing Ganon’s face to turn slightly red, a fact that was well hidden by his dark skin.

“That’s perfectly fine!” Signed the blonde man, ecstatic. “I’ll see you tomorrow then!” He signed as he walked backwards towards his door, waving happily as he closed it behind him.

Ganon waved back as he was left alone in the corridor. He rubbed his neck, today had taken many unexpected turns. He thought back at Link’s smile as they promised to meet, some heat rising to his cheeks once again.

Maybe tomorrow wouldn’t be so bad.

 

********

           

It was 2PM in Link’s room. He and Zelda were there, in the middle of an important strategic meeting. Link stood in front of his wardrobe, his friend comfortably laying down on the bed, observing the outfits he was holding up. She rejected many of his picks, slowly losing the will to live with each one. She ended up standing up herself and going through his wardrobe.

“You literally make clothes. Why is your fashion sense so bad?”

Link sat down on his bed, ashamed. He watched as his friend perused through his clothes, sometimes holding up a top while facing him, deep in thought, before putting it back. He started to notice the strangeness in her movements. She seemed unable to properly bend her stomach. He grew worried, tapping on her shoulder to be able to talk to her.

“Are you ok?” He asked, concerned.

“I’m fine, I’m fine.” She said with a smile, brushing off his concerns. “Aha! Found it!” She exclaimed, bringing out a red T-shirt. Its sleeves were cut in thin circular bands, wrapping around the arm. Zelda looked pleased with the pick. “Here you go.”

Link received the top, still concerned. “I can cancel if you’re not feeling well.”

“Don’t you dare.” She said, waving her index in front of his face. She grabbed her bag from the bed. “Now I’ve done my duty, I need to go. Get changed quickly and go.”

Zelda walked out without letting him place a word. She usually did only follow her own pace, but it was more self-imposed than natural. He would call her in the evening to check up on her. Now, he had a meeting to prepare for. He wore what Zelda had chosen and headed to the tennis courts. They were only meeting at three, but when he had asked in the kitchen that morning, Ganon had told him that it was fine to watch him play before they left.

He easily found the man among the many other practicing players due to his long bright hair, put up in a high ponytail. He walked along the barrier, heading next to the bench on which Ganon’s bag was placed. The athlete saw him as he prepared to serve, giving a quick wave which Link returned gladly. Once they finished the set, Ganon and his opponent walked to the bench to drink before changing sides.

“Are you winning?”

Ganon smiled. “Of course.” He said, taking a quick drink. “We’ll be done once I win this set, then we can meet outside of the changing room. Do you want to go and get a drink until then?”

Link shook his head. “I’ll stay here.”

Ganon paused for a second, then pointed at the court door to his left with his thumb. “Do you want to come in then?”

Link nodded enthusiastically, the athlete couldn’t help a small smile from the reaction. “Go on then. It’s open.”

The shorter man lightly jogged to the court door, quickly heading to Ganon’s bench and sitting down next to his bag in order to not disturb the match too much.  It was the opponent’s turn to serve. Link gleefully observed the focused expression on the fluffy haired man’s face. He had never seen it before, and he started to realise that, from now on, he would probably see many more of these unknown expressions. It brought a smile to his face.

Link watched the match closely, silently cheering every time Ganon scored points. The latter found himself unconsciously checking the bench with each points. Enjoying the celebratory expression on the blonde man’s face. It seemed to make every point that much more significant.

Just as he had told, Ganon won the set easily, winning the game. He walked towards the bench where Link was waiting, his hand open in a high five. The athlete wasn’t used to celebrating practice wins, but he gladly indulged in the gesture, high-fiving the shorter man with a smile.

“Let me take a quick shower and I’ll join you.” He said, packing and lifting his bag.

Link nodded, heading out of the court, closely watched by the athlete. Ganon had worried slightly about how this date would go, but it had barely started, and he couldn’t help but enjoy it.

A date huh… The fluffy haired man had gone into this arrangement unsure of what to do. He had thought of ways to reject him gently, some taught by his friends. He had wondered how he would arrange so that they would have as little contact as possible. But as he saw Link waiting for him on the bench near the changing rooms, fully engrossed in a book, showing his emotions on his face like he always seemed to, he started to think that maybe these meetings wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

“Do you have a café in mind?” Asked Ganon as they arrived into town.

“There’s this cute one down by the river, I thought it would be nice.”

“Let’s go then.” He said, keeping his eyes on Link as he signed away as usual.

As they walked to their destination, Ganon noticed a special shop, one which couldn’t help but catch his eye. So we have one now? He thought, surprised. He had only seen them on magazines and YouTube videos, it felt surreal.  He wondered how it was inside.

Link didn’t miss the distracted eyes of his companion, matching his gaze to find where he was looking. He felt surprise as he identified the shop he was eyeing. It was the newly established cat café which had been a big hit ever since its arrival. A cheeky grin rose on his face.

“Do you want to go in?” He asked.

“In what?” Asked Ganon, unaware of his own staring.

“The cat café.”

“What? No!” Exclaimed Ganon. “Why would I?” His words contradicting the slight tone of red which invaded his cheeks, Link decided to take action. Taking a strong hold on his companion’s right hand, Link pulled towards the shop.

“Come on!” He sighed with his free hand.

Ganon, reluctant to make a scene in the middle of the street, decided to go along, torn between embarrassment and anticipation. The couple got strange looks as the fluffy haired man barely fit through the entrance. Both bought their promised coffee before heading into the playpen. Ganon took up a large part of the sitting space, and his hair became a prime target of exploration for some of the most adventurous cats, so much so that he had to tie it up in a large bun. One, fluffy white cat, however, did not admit defeat. It climbed onto the athlete, troning proudly next to the ball of red hair, nuzzling in it.

Link laughed at the peculiar sight, though mostly at Ganon’s face which was confused between anger and happiness. The large man looked to his side to see his companion happily playing with multiple cats. He started to get curious.

“I kept wondering since last night, did you know me before we met?”

Link flinched, blushing slightly.

“Well…” He started. “I usually sit in front of the English building after lectures on a Thursday. And that’s when you usually come out of your lectures in the sports building. Because of your size, you stand out a bit.”

“And how long has it been since you noticed me?”

“Why do you need to know?” Asked Link, embarrassed by the question.

“I’m curious.” He answered, looking at the small man.

This situation made him want to sink into a corner, but still, Link answered.

“Just…a few…months.”

“I see.” Said Ganon. Pensive. He stretched out his hand to pet the cat that was sitting on the blonde hair. “It’s a bit of a shame we didn’t get to meet sooner.” He found himself saying. Although he didn’t mean much by it, the words dealt a heavy blow to Link, causing him to blush uncontrollably. It was only through the other man’s reaction that Ganon realised what he had said.

“Oh, I didn’t mean…I mean…”

Without letting him finish his sentence, Link titled to the right, resting his head on the fluffy haired man’s shoulder.

“I know.” He signed. “I’m still happy.”

They both stayed that way for a little while, enjoying the cats and each other’s company. Suddenly, a loud sound emanated from Ganon’s pocket. It was his phone. He wondered who could be calling him at this time. He stood up to leave the pen to a more discreet place to take the phone call. It was Impa.

“Hey, is everything okay?”

“Are you with Link?” She asked, panic resonating in her voice.

“I am but…what’s wrong?”

“It’s Zelda, she’s been hospitalised.”

 

Chapter Text

Link didn't bother knocking before bursting into Zelda's hospital room. Both her and Impa flinched at his action, but her surprised expression was quickly replaced by an embarrassed one.

"Hi." She waved, with an awkward smile, Impa looming over her with an exasperated expression. She looked so weak and small in the white bed next to the window, an environment Link knew too well.

The short man rushed to her bed, rage in his eyes. "What do you mean 'hi'?!" He signed with exaggerated movements. "Why didn't you tell me you were sick?"

"It's not that bad, really-"

"It was appendicitis." Impa said, cutting her off. "If I didn't come to find you and dragged you to the hospital when I did, you wouldn't be smiling right now." Her tone was cold, fed up.

Link fixed his gaze on Zelda, who had lowered her gaze to the worn hospital sheets. His eyes prickled with tears and betrayal. "Could you leave us to talk for a bit?" He signed to Impa, who was glad for some communication to come between those two, no matter what triggered it.

"I'll be outside."

There was silence even after Impa had closed the door behind her. Time passed on with the much too loud sound of the wall clock ticking away, yet Link didn't move.

"Hey, I'm fine, really." Zelda started, unable to handle the crippling emptiness.

"I thought we were friends." Link's movements finally let her look up.

"We are." She answered, confused.

"No we're not." Link signed, his gaze full of hurt as he looked deep into the woman's eyes. "I really thought we were over this. That we were on even ground, but you haven't changed since we were fourteen. Did you ever tell me the truth? Did you come to the same university as me because they had the course you wanted, or because you still pity me?"

"I don't pity you."

"Then stop acting like it!"

Zelda flinched at his sudden movement.

"It was an accident. Eight years ago. We all moved on. I moved on. Why can't you? Why do you act like your only role is to make me happy? I don't need you to have a normal life. I need my friend back." His lip quivered, and he couldn't hold back a tear. "And if you can't understand that, maybe it's better for both of us if we stop this pretend friendship so that we can move on. All of us."


Zelda sat speechless, unable to stop Link as he headed towards the door. She didn't cry out when he opened it. Nor when he closed it behind him. A few seconds later, Impa came back into the room. She said nothing. Just approached the bed and held her hand. It was only then that she found herself able to cry.

When Link left the hospital room, he found Ganondorf waiting for him. His mood went down even further. Not only had he just ended his most treasured friendship, he was also about to put his crush through the worse end of a first date he could possibly imagine. He flinched when a large hand came to rest on his shoulder.

"Is everything okay?" Ganon asked, and that was all it took for Link to start crying.

He felt pathetic, but he couldn't find the strength to stop. If this was the last date he was ever going to have with the fluffy haired athlete, he was going to indulge as much as he could. The taller man was visibly uncomfortable, looking around in a futile attempt to let the world tell him what to do. When the world only gave him cold white walls and nurses coming and going, he had to think on his own.

"Let's go and sit outside."

Link followed him, enjoying the feel of Ganon's hand in his as the taller man dragged him towards the exit. He didn't know if he was aware he had reached for his hand, but it felt too nice for him to mention it and risk it ending. They found an empty bench in the park surrounding Hyrule Hospital, and settled on it. Ignoring the gaze of patients on their daily walks.

"Care to tell me what happened? Impa told me it was appendicitis, and I can't imagine you getting this worked up over it."

Link nodded. He breathed out to calm himself. "I wasn't born mute." He started, ignoring Ganon's shocked expression. "It happened when me and Zelda were fourteen. We met at our village's fencing class when we were kids. We were friends and rivals, always trying to get better than the other. We trained at the club, and outside whenever we had free time together. We never thought much of it. But one time, I was trying to avoid one of her attacks, and I fell. I didn't break my fall properly, and my neck hit a rock." He reached behind his head and pulled up his hair to reveal a bald patch with a wide scar. "It dug in, and when I moved during my panic, it tore the muscle right down to my vocal chords and oesophagus. They managed to reconstruct my oesophagus with surgery, but my vocal chords were another story. I tried many types of rehab but nothing worked. Zelda was never the same after that. She blamed- she still blames herself. I thought we were over it. That we had moved on and become stronger friends from it. I was wrong."

"You don't blame her?"

Link scoffed. "Never did. But I can't make her forgive herself."

"So you cut it off?"

Link nodded, turning to face Ganon. "I'm sad. Comfort me." He signed, pouting.

The taller man chuckled. "Well, you're being very forward."

Link shrugged. "I doubt you'll want to go on another date with me after this. I wouldn't blame you. So I'm making the most of it."

Ganon grinned. He didn't know how his date was making this situation enjoyable, but he found himself liking his bluntness. "Well, we have no time to waste then. What would cheer you up?"

Link sat back on the bench, staring at the trees, and shrugged. The red haired man, sat watching up, pondering what they could do, when he remembered Link's face the day before.

"Would it help if I put on the Hanzo cosplay?"

As soon as he finished his sentence, he was met with a very eager Link leaning towards him, stars in his eyes.

"Ah, but it's still in Impa's store. And I don't think we should disturb her right now."

The shorter man visibly shrunk, his head falling back down in exasperation. "Why do you do this to my heart?" He signed, dejected.

Ganon pondered some more before his mind went to a very dangerous place. "I do...have this one cosplay in my closet."

Link turned his head to meet his gaze intrigued.

"Do you know World of Warcraft?"

The blonde man nodded, standing straighter by the second as he went through all the male characters he knew of to try and imagine what would come out of his date's mouth.

"Do you know Illidan?"

 

He didn't expect that.

 

He stood rigid, staring right into Ganon's eyes. Are you serious? He mouthed, not sure he could properly move at the moment. The taller man nodded, and that was all the confirmation Link needed. He stood up and started power walking.

"Where are you going?"

"Home." He signed as best as he could over his head. He turned around when he didn't hear any footsteps behind him. "Come on, putting on the horns alone is going to take ages and we only have today."


Ganon burst out laughing as he stood up to catch up to him. "You want the horns as well?"


"Do you want to be the all powerful Illidan or just some random winged night elf?"

"I have to be the final boss."

"Then horns it is."

 

 

This was a bad idea.

That was the only thought going through Link's mind as Ganon was fixing his wings, working around his hair. He did his best to stop his eyes from wandering to the band of the linen pants which hung way too low on the large man. Though they opted out of the purple body paint for time, the cosplayer still donned the iconic pectoral tattoos drawn with paint. Drawn by the very stable hands of a Link desperate to keep his mind out of the gutter, while Ganon grinned above him. The blonde man wanted to turn away, but he also wanted to print this sight into his mind for eternity.

"How is it?" Ganon asked, facing Link, and, for the first time, the latter felt glad that his voice couldn't betray what he felt.

"Nice." He signed.

"Just nice?" The other asked, a teasing grin on his face.

Link's face grew in heat. "It's very nice."

"How long do you want me in this for?"

"How long do we have left on this date?"

Ganon looked to his wall clock. They had taken much longer than he had expected to get him into cosplay, it was nearly eight. "I only have tennis in the afternoon tomorrow, so, midnight? Does that seem reasonable?"

Link nodded, overjoyed. They debated on what to do until then, seeing as they couldn't really go out with Ganondorf in this half-cosplay in the middle of campus on a saturday night. It was social suicide in the best case scenario. They decided to go for a movie, Link sneaking off to get some snacks from the common kitchen. With surprisingly little rebuttal from Ganon, they settled on watching the Warcraft movie which neither had seen before, to stay in the theme. They placed the PC at the end of the bed, settling on the large man's many cushions. Link first settled at a reasonable distance from Ganon, but the way his wings were settling in against the wall made it awkward to find a comfortable place that wasn't the other end of the bed.

"Just come here." Ganon said, basically carrying Link over next to him. A sensation which the shorter man was much too eager to get used to. Ganon placed Link against his chest, careful not to damage the painted tattoos, and put his arm over his shoulder. "This is still a date, if I remember correctly."

Link grinned. He leaned into the toned chest, wrapping his arms around it and lifting his legs to place them on top of Ganon's, shifting until he found the perfect position. Ganon could barely hold back a laugh. He couldn't get used to how the blonde man would go from zero to a thousand in an instant. Link didn't feel around to see where he could walk safely. He ran straight on, free of worry, and Ganon couldn't help but admire his bravery.
They settled as they watched the movie, watching the feat of CGI and story telling as the actors brought the iconic lore to life, but every now and then, the cosplayer had this disdainful look on his face.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong."

Link gave him a look showing he wasn't having it, and Ganon sighed. "They changed too much of the lore."

Link paused the movie. "What?"

"There's too much to explain!" He started, his hands leaving Link and rushing through his red hair. "I know they made decisions to fit the story better for a movie format but it's just too frustrating! Wait-" He said, reaching over Link to find his phone before furiously googling. "I'll show you lore from the game, tell me if it make sense with what you just saw."

His frantic search was interrupted by a gentle hand lowering his phone.

"Ganon." Link spelled, his face solemn. "Are you a massive closet nerd?"

The man's face visibly darkened at the accusation. He seemed constipated for a moment, seemingly weighing out his options. "So what if I am?" He blurted out, pouring as much pride as he possibly could in the statement. "Is that a problem?"

Link burst out laughing.

"Dude." He signed. "I literally spent hours to put you in an Illidan costume to cheer me up. I'm the last person to have a problem with it."

"Right." Ganon visibly relaxed at the statement.

"Do you want to watch something less frustrating?"

Ganon slowly brought the PC closer to them. "Do you...want to watch game lore videos on YouTube?"

The blonde man smiled, snuggling back onto the taller man's chest. "Go ahead."

Link woke up with a smile the next morning, which he couldn't be more thankful for. The emotional disaster which was yesterday afternoon had been soothed by the best evening he had experienced in a very long while. They had ended up going from lore video to lore video until midnight, where Link had promptly stood up and left for his room, not wishing to overstay his welcome. He didn't stop to talk with Ganon. Didn't want to face the awkward conversation of 'This was fun, let's never do it again.'. He left with good memories, and he was going to need them to stay good if he wanted to face this week of uni without Zelda. Which was why, when he saw Ganon having breakfast in the kitchen, he walked in with a smile, silently thanking his floormate for a lovely evening.

They went though basic morning conversation, Link asking about the tennis competition and both ranting about unfair assessments which were always due all at the same time.

"No amount of coffee is going to help me get through that hellish week." He signed, settling down at the round table, not so far that it was awkward, but not too close either.

"That reminds me, you still haven't shown me that café we were supposed to go to yesterday."

"That's right! You want me to send you the address? That way you can go with your friends after tennis or something." Link signed before getting out his phone to look it up.

"I was thinking of going with you."

Link raised his head, hope filling his eyes as he looked at the grinning fluffy haired man.

"I don't remember agreeing that yesterday's date would be the last."

 

Chapter Text

"You're going where with who now?!" Ghirahim asked, stopping as he placed his tennis balls back in their tube. The hair clip he used to pull back his long fringe was half out, hitting his noise painfully at the sudden stop. He and Ganon sat on the side bench after a long afternoon of practice. His deep fatigue after their long exchange was instantly wiped away as Ganon told him of his Thursday night plans.

Ganon answered as casually as he possibly could. "Can't remember the name of the cafe. But I'm going with Link. Do you know him? Short, blonde hair, piercing blue eyes..."

"The mute one?"

Ganon frowned at that much too simple description. "I guess."

"So he finally made his move." Ghirahim said, wiping at his sweat with his towel, at Ganon's confused expression, he continued. "Dude, he's been staring at you every time we come out of Hitchkins' lectures for months. Did you seriously never notice?"

Ganon shook his head, he was too focused on moving his body after the much too long lecture which was Anatomy & Physiology with Mr. Hitchkins to notice anything but the tennis court, really. He tried to imagine Link sneakily watching him as he walked out. Every time, without fail. Never daring to say anything until they ended up living next to each other. Link didn't waste any time then. He didn't notice the smirk which formed on his face, along with some colour which wasn't due to their workout.

His friend watched him, flabbergasted. "Are- Are you blushing right now?"

That seemed to instantly bring the tall man out of his thoughts.

"Don't be stupid." He said, standing up and packing his bag. "I barely know the guy." He started walking out of the court, but his friend followed him.

"Does that mean that if you knew him better you would be?"

"I-" Ganon started, his mouth opened, starting many rants but never following through. "I need a shower."


The next time they were in their Anatomy & Physiology lecture, Ganon wasn't picturing the court as he always did. Imagining his lecturer's face on a ball he could blast over the high fence and be done with forever. He saw Link, waiting for him in the spot his friend had described. He wondered if he would be waiting there. Just to catch a glance of him as he walked to the court. He watched the clock. Eager for it to just hurry up already. When it finally deigned to reach twelve, he stood and left the room in the middle of Hitchkins's sentence. In the back of his mind, he noticed the stares of his peers, but he didn't care. He went down the steps to the double doors leading out of the building. He looked through the small glass opening to the scenery outside. He couldn't control a small grin when he saw Link sitting on the grass, looking relaxed as he clutched a take away cup. He opened the door, seeing Link's expression turn from calm to embarrassed as their gaze met. For the first time, Ganon didn't turn left towards the court waiting for him, he went straight on to the man who longed for him.

"Hey." He said, taking great pleasure at Link's shocked expression.

Link quickly put down his cup, almost spilling it as he couldn't balance it well enough on the long grass. "Hey" He signed, not sure how to react to this change in scenario.

"I heard you come here every week." Said the tall man, looking smug. "That's embarrassing."

Link kicked his leg, blushing. "You know why."

"I do." Ganon said, taking a seat next to him. Keeping their bodies facing each other.

"Don't you have practice?"

"I do." Ganon all but sang, enjoying the confused shifting of Link's expression.

Link took a curious sip of his hot chocolate. This was not how he expected his afternoon to go.

"What time are we meeting tonight?"

Link smiled. "You finish practice at three, don't you? How about five so you have time to cool down and take a shower?"

Ganon grinned. "Are you sure you want me to take a shower?"
Link almost spat out his chocolate, spluttering. His blush rose in an instant from his neck to his hair. The tall man couldn't hold back a laugh. His smile fell slightly as he saw his peers come out of the lecture building.

"That's my queue. I'll see you at five." He said, waving as he left.

Link was still stunned, waving absent-mindedly. He felt as if he was floating on a cloud. He turned around by reflex, looking for the smile that would always tease him whenever he was in this state. His happiness falling as he only saw empty space.


***


Impa entered Zelda's hospital room, holding a cup of tea and some pastries from the downstairs cafeteria. She found her sitting up, talking to two doctors.

"Should I come back later?" She asked as they all turned towards her.

Zelda smiled at her, Impa hated how easily she made her heart jump. "No, it's fine. They're just assessing to see if I can leave today."

"Can she?" Impa asked the doctors, seeing calm expressions in return.

"The surgery went well." The man said. "There doesn't seem to be any complications. She reacted well to the anaesthetic." He turned back to Zelda. "We'll see how you feel with some solid food in you, but you should be cleared to leave in the early afternoon. My colleague will bring the discharge papers after she checks on you in a few hours."

The two women thanked the doctors, falling into a comfortable silence as they ate their breakfast together. As she fell into her thoughts, Zelda started to frown.

"What's wrong?" Impa asked.

Zelda looked at her with a guilty look. "It's just..." She held her cup a bit tighter. "He didn't come."

Impa sighed. "He's been asking about you." Zelda perked up at her words. "He'll be happy to know you got out. And he's always open to meet you once you decide to be a real friend to him."

Zelda's frown deepened. "I don't know how to do that."

Impa reached out to take her left hand in hers. "You need to think about what you want. Why you, Zelda Hyrule, want to spend time with him. How he makes you feel. If you find out that you really were with him only because you felt obligated to, it's better for both of you to part ways. But if he, as a person, makes you happy, then you have every right to seek him out just for that. That's what friends are. They make each other happy. Nothing more, nothing less."

Zelda let out a small smile, squeezing Impa's hand. "Thanks." She whispered.

***

 

"So this is the famous cafe." Ganon observed, gazing at the shop front. It was a simple wooden front. Classic. But it gave a sense of calm nostalgia. Like coming home.

"Yep. Come on, I'll introduce you to Mr. Deku."

Link took Ganon's left hand in his, passing the door to the shop with a wide grin. The interior matched what the fluffy haired man saw outside. It was filled with rustic wooden tables exuding the warmth of a hot meal on a cold winter evening. The small amount of people there were either reading or working, enjoying the calm environment. There was gentle piano music playing on small black speakers spread out around the small space, and behind the bar, a man in his fifties was cleaning glasses in rhythm. He showed a smile as Link came in. 

"Welcome, it's been a while." The man said. Mr. Deku. He had this full mustache which would move every time he spoke, but made him strangely endearing to watch.

"Just the two of you?" 

Link nodded. The owner told them to sit wherever they liked, so the blonde man chose his usual spot. The corner. Next to the window. Perfect to people watch without being disturbed by new customers entering the space. Link sat on the sofa to the wall, letting Ganon sit where he could spread his much longer legs. Mr. Deku brought them menus, and left them to talk. 

"So this is where you come to relax?" Asked Ganon, looking around, taking in the atmosphere. 

"Yeah." Link signed. "Sometimes it just becomes too much, you know ? So I come here." He finished looking out, and the tall man couldn't help but stare as the gentle evening light shone on his sharp features. He looked like a painting, his expression calm and full of something Ganon could only feel in his gut. He didn't even notice the shop owner coming up next to them for their orders. His voice startled the tall man out of his trance, he turned to Mr. Deku, who wore a knowing smile. Link ordered his usual, while Ganon did a quick glance at the menu, pretending this wasn't the first time he had looked at it. Their orders came quickly, brought by the silent owner merging with the quiet atmosphere. The blonde man beamed as he saw his chocolate cake arrive in front of him. A cake his date hadn't even seen on the menu, and was eyeing enviously. 

"Want some?" He signed, with a grin. 

Ganon nodded. He leaned in, resting his face in his palm, mouth open. His eyes looked at Link's in defiance as the latter man grew redder by the second. 

"Jerk." Link signed, but he still brought his fork to his date's mouth. 

Ganon took the piece gratefully, grinning at the other man's face as he did. "And yet you're on a date with this jerk."

A smile dug its way onto Link's face. He looked his date right in the eyes. "Yeah. I am." 

The fluffy haired man cursed the heat that had started to grow in his cheeks. 

They chatted as the sun slowly shifted lower and lower in the sky. Customers left as quietly as they came in, though even if they didn't, the two men probably wouldn't have noticed them. They had created their own little world near the window, which only the owner could enter as he refilled their drinks. They went from subject to subject with no real link, their minds just letting out whatever they thought at the time. With some effort, Link managed to snag the reason why Ganondorf had learnt sign language. Through his palms brought to his face, he told his date of how he was obsessed with Portal as a preteen and learnt it to be able to understand Chell if he ever met her. Link almost spat out his milk as he heard, earning him a glare as fiery as his date's hair. He called it cute. Ganon's expression turned to blank shock as he computed his words.

"In what plane of existence would I ever be qualified by the word 'cute'?"

"Ours." Link signed with a triumphant grin, taking another bite out of the second piece of chocolate cake they had ordered for the both of them.

"That's it." Ganon said, taking the plate away and lifting if over his head, well out of his date's reach. "No more cake for you. You have lost your cake privileges." 

Link looked outraged, but he couldn't hide the glee he felt joking around like this. It felt natural. Like they had done it for thousands of years. Their play was cut short by Mr. Deku as he came to inform them of the shop's closing. Both men looked around in shock, finally noticing they were the last ones left in the cafe. Link apologised and reached for his wallet but wasn't quick enough as Ganon had already given his card to the owner, entering his pin code. He flashed a triumphant side glance to the blonde man.

"You can pay next time." He said.

The words circled around Link's mind.

Next time.

Next time.

He didn't mind Ganon paying if he got to hear that a few more times. 

The outside was colder than they expected, a testament to how long they had been talking in the cafe. They had started their casual walk back to the dorms when the taller man's phone started ringing. He looked puzzled as he pulled it out, but went blank as he saw the name.

"Shit." He whispered. 

He answered as soon as he could, an angry female voice filling the cold evening air. 

"Yeah, I know. I'm sorry. I know I told you. I didn't see the time. I'm not far, I'll be there in five." He hung up, looking dejected. "I forgot I promised to help Impa for some more fittings tonight, I'm over half an hour late. I need to go." His mind was in a slight panic at the abrupt change of plan, it was focusing on the fastest route to take to get to his friend, on how many hot chocolates he would need to buy her to apologise. It was so busy it didn't notice his body leaning in to do what he had wanted to do all evening. The next thing he knew, he was inches away from a madly blushing Link, his lips burning from the casual goodbye kiss neither had expected.

Shoot. He thought. He matched Link's shocked expression, his gaze unwillingly moving down to his lips. He hadn't even computed what they felt like.

"Fuck it." He whispered. He grabbed Link's chin and pulled him into a proper kiss. He felt as if his entire body relaxed, just focusing on his lips, enjoying the sensation it had longed for for way too long. He hated Impa for existing as they pulled away and he saw Link's blissful expression. "Screw it all." He said. "You." He placed his index on his date's chest. "Don't fall asleep. I'll finish the fitting quick and come back. We're not done yet."

Link grinned, grabbing Ganon's chin and placing a kiss of his own on his lips. "Yes sir." He signed, his expression teasing. 

Ganon hated the entire world for making him leave. 

Chapter Text

 


Life surprised Link in many ways. He thought he had gotten used to it. How everything could change in a single instant. How one seemingly small decision could have irreversible effects on the far off future. How people think they know the people around them, until they don't. He didn't expect to get along with Ganon so well during their date. He didn't expect its gleeful ending. And he certainly didn't expect to see Zelda waiting for him in front of his student residence. 


Their eyes met, and he wanted to be mad. He really did. He wanted to scream all the thoughts which had plagued his mind since their last meeting. All the hurt he had felt as he realised their friendship was a hoax. Make her feel his pain. But all he could do was burst into a run and hug her. Because she was his friend, and he was so glad she was better. 


Zelda stayed still for a moment, processing the events, but she quickly hugged back.

"I'm sorry." She said, burying her head in Link's neck. "I'm so sorry." She repeated, squeezing, tears filling her voice.

Link squeezed back, revelling in his friend's warmth. Then he pulled away with a smile. 

"How are you feeling?" He signed.

"All healed up!" She said, awkwardly. "I really- I won't do it again I promise."

"Is that your way of saying you want to be friends again?"

There was a flash of something in Zelda's eyes. Determination. "I want to be friends. For real this time. I can't promise I'll manage right away, but I want to. I want to try being selfish with you, and maybe annoying. I want us to fight as equals and make up because we care about each other. Not because we feel obligated to. Is...is that okay?"

Link smiled, and Zelda couldn't hold back her tears anymore. The man laughed. 

"Come on up, I'll make you something warm." He sighed, finishing by holding her hand before scanning his student card to open his door. Zelda squeezed it back, using her free hand to wipe her tears and snot. 

"I might need tissues as well." She half laughed. 


They settled in the common kitchen, warm tea mist caressing they faces as they caught up on each other's life. Zelda allowed herself to monopolise some of the discussion by counting her hospital adventures, feeling glee as she saw how invested Link was in them. They ordered take out and she let Link pay for the first time. Letting her enjoy a getting well gift. They ordered enough to qualify for free garlic bread. No. They had ordered much too much food in order to qualify for the free garlic bread. Which they shared gleefully. Link having to manage between licking the garlicky goodness off of his fingers and signing at the same time. Zelda kept telling him to just choose one or the other but the man refused because Priorities Zelda. Priorities. 

They were interrupted by a loud opening of the hall door followed by very determined footsteps. A large figure passed by the window connecting the kitchen and the corridor, stopping as it identified the blonde man sitting at the table. Ganon entered not a second later, doing a double take as he saw Zelda.

"Hi!" She said.

"Hi." He answered. He looked at the fallen remains of take out containers and sauce still sitting on their lips. "I'm...assuming you two made up?"

Link turned towards him and signed with the biggest smile he had ever seen on the small man. And this was doing something to Ganon. Because he had been stuck in a dark fitting room for three hours with nothing but his mind to keep him occupied while Impa did the alterations of her cosplays and that mind had gone places. Now, the cause of his many journeys was sitting with his greasy shiny lips turned into a bright smile and-

"Fuck. You're cute." He let out. Too preoccupied to feel even an ounce of shame.

Link choked on air as the taller man came close and pulled him up.

"While I am very happy you two made up," He started, lifting Link off the ground in an instant with no discernible difficulty, which was not good for the small man's mind. "we have very important prior arrangements that...are very important."

Zelda hid her massive grin behind her hand. "No problem, I was about to go home anyway." She said, looking at Link who was adamantly looking anywhere but towards her.

"I believe you know how to leave the residence?" Ganon asked, Link now settled in his arms, still a stupefied mess.

"Yep. Have fun!" She waved, enjoying the show. She watched as the two men headed towards Ganon's door, Link hanging on for dear life as the fluffy haired man carried him in one arm in order to unlock his door, listening to the harsh sound of that same door being slammed shut with a foot. 


She let the quiet settle around her. The gentle sent of food and tea washed over her and she couldn't help but cry again. She had almost lost all of this. But she was never going to let it go again. She could finally allow herself to take control of her life. To do what she wanted to do. For no one else's sake but hers. Before she knew it, her phone was in her hand, dialing a very familiar number.


"Hey." Impa's voice filled her ear. Warm and gentle. Bringing a smile on her face.

"Hey, all done with your fittings today?"

"Yep. Only one more session and we will be set for Comic Con. We are going to destroy everybody."

Zelda chuckled. "With how much effort you put in this year, I'm sure we will."

 

There was a small silence. "Did you meet up with Link?"

"Waited for him outside his residence."

"Were you able to say what you needed to say?"

Zelda smiled, looking at Ganon's closed door. "Yeah, it went really well. We got rudely interrupted by Ganon sweeping him away to have sex though."

There was a loud splutter heard on the other line, and she burst out laughing.

"I'm sorry what?"

"Turns out they didn't need any outside help after all."

"You're going to have to walk me through it princess, I think I may have skipped an episode of the story."

"Aww, you called me princess."

There was another splutter as Impa racked her brain to find a coherent excuse. Which, given how open she had been about her feelings, was cuter than Zelda could have ever imagined.

"Hey, Impa. Would you like to go out sometime this week?"

"If those two are entering their honeymoon phase I don't think they'll have time for us for a while."

"No- as in..." Boy, this was harder than she had thought. "Just us two. As in...a date. Like. Situation. Maybe. If- if that's cool."

There was silence at the other end, making Zelda check her screen to see if the call had been disconnected.

"Impa?"

"I'm here." She heard faintly. "It's just...are you sure?"

Zelda smiled, letting herself enjoy the glimpse of happiness she was finally allowing herself to seek. "Yeah. I couldn't be more sure."

 


*  *  *

 


Link woke up with the devastating shrill of his alarm, because it was daily, and he had class today. Damn it all. A loud groan came from the person under him. He could feel it resonate down to the warm chest he was sleeping on. The warm naked chest he was sleeping on. Because last night had been a real actual thing which had happened. It was everything he had fantasised about. Including the inevitable call to reality which came to bring him out of it.

He opened his eyes and looked up to see Ganon still half asleep, grimacing as if the world was ending around him. He shuffled up, planting a chaste kiss on his lips. The taller man opened his eyes, meeting his gaze with a small smile.

"Morning."

Link kissed him again as a greeting, bearing a wide grin. Ganon grimaced again.

"Fuck." His arms tightened around Link and they rolled to their side. "Don't do that. I need to find the will to wake up. You are not helping."

Link managed to wiggle himself free of the deadly grasp and out of the bed, doing a quick recon to find where his clothes could have possibly flown to. Once he was presentable, he looked down to see Ganon still sprawled out on the bed, and the memories of what they had done in that bed came flashing back in full force. Memories and one burning question.

He tapped the half sleeping man on the shoulder to get him to look at him. "Don't freak out." He started, knowing that it was the worst way to calm someone down. "I just- last night was nice. Really nice. And I need to know. Is this like- a boyfriend-boyfriend situation? Or should I go find a one-night stand tonight to drown my sorrows?"

Ganon's expression turned grave, looking as if he had sobered up in an instant. He sat up.

"You do realise that if you do that I will have to murder whoever put their hands on you."

Link chuckled.

"Why are you laughing? Murder is a serious topic Link. I could go to jail. You wouldn't be able to see me anymore."

The blonde man kept a gigantic grin on his face as he approached the bed, placing his face close to Ganon's.

"That would be a shame."

The taller man had only been able to catch half of Link's signs as his gaze had been focused on his lips. Also on the trace of a hickey peeking out of his green t-shirt. Which only made him want to place more on the parts of the man's skin which were much too empty for his liking. 

"Does being your boyfriend mean that I can have you back in here tonight?" He said, still focused on Link's lips.

"And all of tomorrow. Yay for the weekend." He signed.

Ganon grinned, finally placing a kiss on the object of his gaze. "I get the feeling I'm going to appreciate weekends a lot more from now on."

 

 


The fluffy haired man spent his entire day waiting for that glorious weekend to come. He was giddy throughout his morning lecture, which was a sight so unusual his team mates genuinely proposed to accompany him to the medical center. The mystery was solved when Ghirahim came to sit behind him with a sigh.

"Did you get some last night?" He asked.

Ganon grinned. "And will tonight. And the whole upcoming weekend if I have any say in it." He didn't mention how they would probably spend their down time watching nerdy videos as well. Honestly. Perfect weekend.

He was high-fived by every single team member. 

 

"I have to say, I didn't expect it to go so well between you two." Ghirahim said as they were cooling down after practice.

"Me neither. But, he's like-" He made various hand gestures at the air, as if he was speaking some unknown ancient sign language. "You know?"

"...No. Is this your way of saying you have a sign language kink?"

Ganon spit out his water. "No!" He blurted out. Then he remembered Link the night before, how he struggled to communicate as he could barely get his hands to stop clenching the pillows. "Wait- do I?" He asked, looking at his friend for answers.

"How am I supposed to know?!"


*  *  *

 

"Why am I here again?" Ganon grumbled, back in the worn out sofa of Impa's workshop. "I thought I was done helping you with fittings."

He was sat next to Link, who had been given a large box with strict orders to keep it closed until told otherwise. Zelda and Impa were standing facing them, the former twisting her hands in nervousness. It was early evening, just as the cafés closed and people started to flood to restaurants. Link and Ganon had been official for barely over a week, and Ganon was not happy with their intimate time being taken away like this, especially with the upcoming event.

"So, about tomorrow's Comic con." Zelda started, adamently looking at the ground. "You know how we were supposed to go together?" She looked at Link, who frowned in confusion and dread.

"Supposed to?" He signed.

"There has been a turn of events." Impa took over. "And we have decided to go as a couple, including doing a couple cosplay as well."

Link's face lit up at the news, and Zelda sent him a shy grin. He sat up and hugged her, signing a small finally in the corner of her vision, which earned him a gentle tap.

"Still," Impa continued. "I felt bad, and as I know that Ganon has a completed Illidan cosplay, I arranged a Kael'thas one for you. With one of my cosplays, I think you'll maybe have a chance to score in the higher echelons of the contest, though you should abandon all hopes of winning."

Link grinned at the teasing, but Ganon didn't seem to enjoy the competitive tone.

"Are you implying you're a better couple than us?" He said, standing up to use his height as an intimidation tactic.

"I'm not implying it. I'm outright saying we are."

Zelda and Link shared a look of defeat. And away they go.

"You've been together, what, ten minutes? After years of being unable to get your heads out of your asses? And you dare to even think you're better than us?" The man's tone started to rise as he pulled his boyfriend close to him.

"Even if we had only been together for as long as you say, I'm sure we would have passed you on all aspects of a relationship." She emphasized the "all" in a way that made clear to everyone in the room what she was implying.

"Impa-" Zelda tried to calm them down, but there was no stopping these two when they got to arguing.

Ganon grinned, looking down with a condescending expression. "Now, now, Impa. Sweet, naive Impa. Look at me. Look at him. And think for two seconds. What do you think we're doing when we're not with you guys or in class?" 

Impa scoffed. "Please, I've been in love with her for ten years. Do you honestly think I would lose to you in the desire department?" They continued to bicker, ignoring their very embarrassed partners.

"You cannot honestly believe that." Ganon said, looking offended.

"Don't underestimate women." She said, her grin overbearing and full of pride. Zelda was a blushing mess under her arm, which only helped to corroborate her story. This was unacceptable.

"This is unacceptable." He repeated out loud. He latched on to Link's arm. "Come, we don't have much time if we want to wake up early enough to put my horns on tomorrow."

The two women watched as Link tried to communicate his greetings as best as he could while incapacitated and barely able to hide an ecstatic grin. Zelda chuckled.

"Are you happy?" Impa asked, looking down at her with so much love in her eyes it send her over the moon. She nestled against her.

"Yeah, I really am."

"We're going to destroy them at the contest tomorrow."

"Hell yeah we are."