Legend Of Zelda Fan Fiction ❯ The Legend of Link: Lucky Number 13 ❯ What's Done In The Dark. . . Pt. 05: Things Aren't What They Seem ( Chapter 37 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]

Chapter Thirty-seven

Of course, no one wanted to stay in a formerly haunted temple in the middle of a forest. But once I explained some things-or the ultimatum of that versus nothing-they didn't object too heavily. That situation felt more vindicating than anything did. Well, it did for a while. It was only vindicating in a sense that while I couldn't see exactly how much smoke they were blowing up my ass about the whole incident with Nabooru, they would be punished for it all the same by staying in that temple. Shame on me, though, because none of them left as I thought they would.

In the meantime, Sepaaru decided to accompany me back to the tree house to check up on Junior, as she'd so dubbed him. The walk produced an insignificant amount of conversation, most of which I didn't feel warranted more than a grunt or two. When I did talk, it was to prepare her for our son's sleeping predicament. He never woke up that I'd saw, and that was still from earlier the day before. Surprisingly, Sepaaru had nothing but a dry laugh in light of that.

"Vic's been schooling him in how to use his abilities," she'd said, shrugging as though it wasn't a real issue. "Junior will be fine; he probably just pushed himself too hard. I can't imagine what he's done now."

I let those comments go, but that wouldn't be the last time I'd hear my uncle's name in relationship to my son. Over the course of the next 6 or 7 months, in fact, I'd hear it more than I ever wanted to. That's all Link could talk about: "Uncle Vic said this …" or "Uncle Vic used to say …" and "You're a really shitty father and your uncle is a better dad than you are." He never said the last part, but it was implied. Besides, it wasn't as though I left some infallible image of fatherliness that no one could exceed. Vic had broken the whole god situation down to both Link and Zelda, I later found out. He'd helped them harness those powers in positive ways. He'd taught them how to exercise moderation. He'd been there to help my son keep up group morale.

And I was a footnote.

According to Link, Zelda spent most of her time at Malon's with the horses since she'd "had enough of all the magic." And my son spent more time in Kokiri, which made him more of a forest guardian than I ever cared to be, and not to mention a veritable boss to the Kokiri with Saria. The resentment that the rest of the Gerudo used to hold against Sepaaru had completely vanished, as well. She assigned their patrols, guard stations, and schedule rotations without any fuss.

Having said all of that, Kokiri ran itself.

All I did was sit around watching everyone play or work, waiting for Link and Sepaaru to stop by and eat or talk with me. Or I should say that I waited for Link and Sepaaru to come by and watch me attempt to eat. That's the only highlight from those months-me being fed under a pitying glance from my child and his mother. Then there was the whole thing about Zelda's avoiding me. Every time Link came back from outside Kokiri, I asked if he'd seen his sister. And every time he gave an excuse on her behalf as to why she didn't want to see me. To make matters worse, Link even started spending absorbent amounts of time away from the forest now that I was there.

The funny thing about all of this is how it seemed to be so familiar.

My son seemed to still reach out to me, but every time that I reached back, he would step further away because something else required his attention. It's the same way that I did him as a child, I one day realized. I'd hold him and tell him stories one minute, and completely walk away the next because I found something else more important. Although Link seemed thoroughly disgusted with my visual appearance as well, something tells me that the results would've been the same no matter how I looked. That's probably why I fought him so hard when he attempted to use his powers to rejuvenate me. He'd given me a demonstration one day, and his comatose sleep was the end result. Thirty-six hours of youth wasn't worth that to me, but it was to my son.

The following occurred one night while we were waiting for his mother to get back from Castle Town's Grocery.

"People like you aren't supposed to get old and die," he'd shouted at me, losing his cool as I sternly refused to let him alter my appearance. "Uncle Vic says that gods are supposed to stay young and strong forever."

"Gods are also supposed to be nice and perfect," I said, "but they aren't. So this is my choice for imperfect living."

The situation didn't end particularly well, seeing as how Link actually tried to force his powers on me.

"What does Uncle Vic have to say about forcing your will on others?" I asked rather calmly, trying futilely to take his hands off my arms. Sepaaru showed up-thankfully-in time to pull him off me, but it was more than a little disturbing to see my own child try to strong-arm me into doing something. "How'd you feel if someone did that to your mom?"

I heard her teeth grind from across the room, which was nice since I was about deaf anyway, as she dropped the wiggling boy on the floor. He stood up, scowling at the thought of such an event ever happening. I kept heaping on the parental jargon, and I suppose that's what got to him.

"Strength doesn't give you the right to make people do something they don't want to," I told him, still calm considering the mild coughing attack coming down on me.

The one glaring flaw in The Great Vic's Teachings: No discipline. Yes, being a god is great. However, it has responsibilities and ethics like any other sanction in life. Just because you can point to a spot on a map and warp there doesn't give you the right to make someone do something. Create a star or two-I don't care. You still aren't above common decency or respecting another person's choice. It's an ethics lesson that I did teach my children. And even if they weren't gods when I taught them, they should've still obeyed it. Apparently, though, the rules changed when Vic isn't the one spouting them. Nothing I said seemed to click a moral switch within the boy. Every word out of my mouth seemed to anger him, which probably fueled his little exodus.

"You want to die and leave everyone sad again!"

Punch in the mouth…

"You hate us! Y-You hate everything! Aunt Nabooru quit crying and everything when I said you came back, and you won't even go see her!"

We're dazed…

"I hate you."

And now we're out.

He didn't scream his hatred for me; the words just rolled off his tongue like a long withheld fact. I can't even express how that felt. I'm not even sure when it was that I felt it, but it certainly wasn't after he'd said it. Link was crying when he walked out, but his tears seemed to be those of joy. He hated me. My mind tried to twist hate into every word that I had ever heard, yet the truth still lingered. I hadn't even noticed that Sepaaru left, but, in hindsight, it didn't matter. All I had done was seal myself away in my own little world. I hardly spoke to Kokiri or Gerudo; I just existed in that gray area between the living and existing. Want to know the funniest part about all of this?

I finally wanted to fix it.

I didn't curl up and wish for death to make it all stop. I didn't sing a song and dance about why this shouldn't happen to me. I just digested Link's words, buckled my boots and left the forest in the dead of night heading out toward Gerudo Valley. To heck with monsters or glowing rains that promised mutations. I had enough of all the damn existing. Trees existed. Dirt existed. Rocks existed. I was a man, and men don't exist. I deserved to live my life, not sit idly by and observe it.

As bad as the cold made my bones hurt, I never stopped walking-not for air, not for water, and definitely not to cough my way into a coma. That was the thing about physical pain that I enjoyed: If something physically hurt me, there was always a chance to deal the same pain back. Emotional pain, however, didn't allow for such luxuries. It was my fault that I was in my situation. I'd held all the cards for once, and I simply gave up the deck to go pout in the corner. I told Nabooru that I deserved better, but I never sought anything better. No, I rolled with the same old waves instead of discovering newer and fresher ones. The thing I forgot about emotional pain, though, is that it cuts both ways.

I'll explain it later, though.

This is the part where I began to lose steam to the winter winds. Heh, it was probably because I was at that bridge again. Well, I wasn't going to do much outside with the snow beginning to come down. So, I took that painful deep breath and crossed the first hurdle. The sun was just beginning to peak over the cliffs when this blistering pain shot up my left arm. I knew that I had pushed myself to get there, seeing as how I was barely fit to walk across the room let alone the three days that I had-this was bad. Too close, I kept thinking. I'm too close to stop. And I was too close, damn it. The pain in my arm was slowly spreading down my side, but I just kept going like some kind of drone that wouldn't die.

"Halt!" a guard, whose name I couldn't remember in my, then, current state of mind shouted.

I looked at her standing there, undoubtedly frozen to the toes despite the fur, and she suddenly recognized me. She unlatched the gate with a look that said nothing, but a look that conveyed no less than astonishment. That didn't even matter, though, as I continued to force myself onward into the compound's interior. What few Gerudo left out there were in the midst of rotating schedules when I came up the stairs. There were no hoods or cloaks to disguise me this time. I was just an old man that looked a little bit like the god who used to live there. Cautiously, they began to approach me with questions. Barely breathing as it was, I didn't answer. I couldn't answer them. My lungs, despite the cold air filling what little of them I had left, felt as though they were on fire. And by the time I made it inside the fortress, I couldn't have breathed more than once every 10 or 15 steps.

And speaking of steps, the climb up the staircase in that tower felt like a slow eternity. At least it's warm, I managed to think. The collective of 10 Gerudo followed me like shadows, as I hugged the curve of the wall. My ascension finally ended at the plateau of the stairs. There was one door up there, and it only led to one place. Nabooru had replaced the door and, unfortunately, the lock too. Nabooru told us to leave her alone when I rattled the knob. Well, that's good for you, I thought, but I'll die if I don't get in. That's when Varia took the initiative and kicked the door down for me. My teeth were gritted so tightly that I couldn't even part my lips to attempt thanks, so I just lumbered into the room and collapsed right on top of the burn marks my feet had left in the carpet some five years prior.

"I said leave me alone!" Nabooru shouted, as the Gerudo who'd followed me entered the room anyway. "Who… who is that?"

A dead man, I thought, as I felt my heartbeat continue to slow.

Why wasn't it working?

I had made it back to the fortress, back to that bedroom. Then why was I dying? Where were my powers? No one answered. The thud of my heart continued to get weaker, and weaker, and weaker, and nothing. It stopped as my eyes closed. Dead-I was dead. Great, I walked all that way just to die like a wounded dog. Shit, I could've done that in the forest. But wait a second. Why could I hear the wind blowing outside? And if I was truly dead, why was I able to hear the Gerudo talking amongst themselves? I chanced opening my eyes, and the results were surprising at the very least. At best, I was shocked out of my fucking mind-and body. There I was face down on the floor, but I was looking down at the top of everyone's head.


What in the hell did that mean? Things became even odder as the room began to ooze, literally ooze, with what I can only call oil. It came out of the bed, the floor, and even out of the Gerudo-don't even get me started on the amounts floating in through the windows. They were all screaming, as their skins seemed to bleed with the liquid. It came out of Nabooru in such an amount that I nearly vomited at the sight of it. That is to say, I would've vomited could I have done so in that invisible, floating state.

Hours seemed to tick by as the oil took shape, almost like that of a giant gelatin mold. Gradually, it began to pulsate with light, kind of like a fairy waking up after a long nap. Then, with a sudden change of direction, it leisurely floated over to my invisible position. As it came closer, the light grew strong enough to make me shield my eyes … with my transparent hands. You can imagine how that worked out. All I remember next is shouting as it rushed me. If nothing else could see me, it damn sure did. And as so, I went from floating to falling in about a second.

This time, when I opened my eyes, all I saw were boots and feet surrounding me. I was back inside of myself, so I turned over to better assess what had happened to me, and that's when the rest of the glowing goop dropped right into my gaping mouth! There was no taste if you're wondering. Still, this humongous ball of slop forced itself down my throat, but I didn't gag for some reason. It was warm. It was disgusting. And, in what I can only call a tickling from hell, it began to jiggle underneath my skin. It's jiggling, and jiggling some more and jiggling even more.

That's when an amber-colored arm burst out of my chest.

I passed out from the sheer shock of it, surprisingly. However, I seemed to wake up all in the same moment. Instead of watching this golden arm, and the creature attached to it, claw out of my chest cavity, I was suddenly the one digging his way out of somewhere. There's still no pain, though. There's no blood or screaming. When my head finally emerged out of the darkness, it hit me: The arm was my own. I'm not digging out of a hole; I'm digging a way out of my own chest. The Gerudo went from gasping to screaming, as I stared up at them to try and understand. I must've looked between their faces and the lifeless face of that … husk that I used to be a dozen times. Slowly, though, my torso emerged, as did my legs and feet. Now, there I sat covered in god jelly or something, looking at my corpse.

"What in the hell?" was the only question I could ask myself. The next words out of my mouth were: "I think I put too much weight on growing old," I mumbled to myself, not quite fawning over my new and improved old-man body.

I restored my youth with a thought, as getting back into the swing of godliness was beyond second nature. Physically, despite how it all transpired, I felt fine. Let me just tell you, there is nothing better than not having the urge to urinate every other minute. Oh, and my balls weren't all floppy anymore. Good gracious, I didn't have to wind my dick in like a fishing lure, either. I felt great, if not a little disturbed looking at my former self in a heap. The Gerudo group jumped as a whole when I stood up. But I was a little at a loss for how to describe things back then.

As I walked around the room, I began to remember vividly my life there. I didn't realize it until later, but the memories were playing counter-clockwise. Heh, and speaking of clocks-I never once realized that I'd set the bedroom up like one. The door represented noon, the bed six, and the like-not to mention the circular room itself. Dragging my hands along the walls seemed to bring the room to life with memories, almost like a moving picture, one could say. I witnessed everything that occurred prior to my leaving once again, bringing back the feelings of anger and betrayal. They weren't as strong this time, but they were still there. I barely noticed that remnants of my power came out of the walls and into me, as though I really was wringing out a sponge and absorbing every last drop of water.

Memories of my daughter began to speed by, causing me to smile at most and cringe at others. By the time that I had reached the bed, I had to stop. There we were in the beginning, Nabooru and I. An old bed, stuffed with chicken feathers and straw … we were making love on that bed. I watched my wife and I make love for the first time, then I watched us do it again after I had come back from the dead. I kept watching right up until the last time, where the bed looked the way it did now, and smiled. In that very room, I witnessed my daughter's birth. And, if you wanted to get technical, I watched myself build her crib right at the foot of the bed. I still remembered finding Zelda awake most mornings, propped up on the edge smiling with not a tooth in her head.

I'm sure that it must've seemed strange to see a naked man walking around the room, absorbing funny shades of energy from everything he touched. It must've been doubly odd to see him smiling and whispering to himself about memories that only he could see. I couldn't help it, though. From arguing with my daughter, to finding my son and his mother slaughtered like animals, and on down to watching my wife fuck another man-I still had more happiness wrapped up in that place than anywhere else. So, she did some coward for a few years. Wasn't being a god about forgiveness? The answer is … a convoluted one. I moved in silence toward my lifeless former self, summoning a new wardrobe-basic orange tunic, black tights, and a pair of boots-for the new me. The corpse's mouth was open, eyes wide and rolled back into his skull, and there was the whole gaping chest thing.

"Bury, burn, or void?" I asked myself, nudging the empty skin with my foot.

"What do you mean?" Nabooru whispered, surprisingly docile considering her warm welcome of earlier.

"The skin," I nodded my head toward it, "I was just wondering how I should get rid of it."

Deciding on void, a small space opened in the floor and swallowed the remains. Outside, I noticed the clouds had begun to move as a shadow drifted across the far wall. I also noticed how funny it felt having them all look at me so oddly. Goodness, it wasn't like a souls and godhood merging was bad thing-at least, I think that's what happened-or that surprising. I wasn't screaming or bleeding all over the floor. What was the big deal? Geez, you'd think I had come back for revenge or something. There we all stood, though. I was looking at them and they were staring at me. No one said a damn thing and that's what irked me.

"Well, this is just weird enough to be Link," Varia finally said, shaking her head as if to lessen the psychological damage. "I'm going to bed."

Everyone else made similar moves to leave, possibly too crept out even to think deeply on what had happened.

"Good morning to you all, too," I said, as they all left with little more than a shrug or mutter. Seconds ticked by before I found myself staring at my wife … former wife. Something foul boiled inside of me from the mere sight of her, but it didn't at the same time. You know, it was one of those feelings that existed inside of my head. It was like claiming a stomach ailment: "My stomach hurts," you'd tell someone, but the ache only existed as long as you kept saying it did. The moment you stopped hyping the pain, you realized there was nothing wrong. This was such a case, only "My stomach hurts" was pronounced "You lying sack of bile, I hate you."

"Where's the kid?" I immediately asked, trying to keep my "stomach ache" in full bloom, while scanning my surroundings for the presence of that little bas… kid she had with Cornelius.

"She's … in the ground," Nabooru replied poignantly, not bothering to insult my intelligence by asking which child. I noticed that she wasn't shaken up about the glum news; she wasn't elated either, but Nabooru didn't strike me as a woman who'd lost a child. "A few weeks after you left, she was born," she went on to say.

For a long time, I didn't know how to respond to that. A part of me wanted to cheer, yet the bigger part felt sad about her loss … their loss. An undeveloped child exposed to that type of power-not to mention the raw state of it-must've killed her. I didn't want to think that's how the child met her end even though it probably was.

"I'm sorry to hear that," I said in a thoughtful tone, as comfortingly as the twisted circumstances would allow.

Here's the switch: "I thought you'd be happy that thing didn't survive," Nabooru said more out of reaction than venom, though, I'm sure there was venom amidst it. If it weren't for the fact that she couldn't look me in the eye and speak, I would've taken that as an insult by what it implied. Instead, I just went with it and said what I felt.

"I hated the both of you," I added, speaking truthfully since I felt compelled to do anything but. Moving to the window that looked out over the valley, I could sense her spirits dampen sharply. It was a sense that I hadn't felt in ages. That didn't mean I liked it. "The child didn't do anything to me to deserve my hatred. I have no reason to be elated by her death." This is probably where I first realized that I had no breath. I know it's an odd time to realize such a thing, but the window didn't fog up no matter how hard I breathed on it and my heart didn't do that weird flitter flutter that it normally did around her. That and there was no beating.

Nabooru moved past the subject briskly, saying something that I never thought I'd hear. "Link, I'm sorry," her voice was thick, verging on a sob and it didn't seem to hit me. "I tried to tell you! I swear it, but things went so fast and …." I blocked out everything afterwards.

Like that ever made anything better, I thought with a flick of bitterness. That's when I heard one of her thoughts and began to laugh.

"Are you serious?" The question came out with no prefixing, which caused me to elaborate. "Vic said that I'd destroy the world because I got dumped?" I looked over my shoulder at her, and laughed harder as she nodded. "Oooh, that's comedy. I guess exaggeration runs in the … family."

For some reason, my voice had paused. As light as I had been trying to take the entire situation, Nabooru wasn't and it began to soak in. She was standing in quite possibly the longest, ugliest nightgown that I'd ever seen. Her hair was down, matted and worn like she hadn't seen her brush in the better part of a week-and it made me smile brighter, but for some reason the smile lacked any bitterness. A woman that I had known to sleep in the sheerest, softest of materials year round, if anything at all, was now in a beat up wool nightgown. If it weren't for the fact that she'd replaced the windows, I would've thought that maybe she had been cold. But this was overkill. It was as though she had sealed her body away from the outside world. Yet why couldn't I stop smiling at the … cuteness of such a pathetic image?

Yes, I meant to say cuteness. All accounts said that it should have been my moment to gloat, yet I couldn't. This is what I spoke of earlier-the emotional pain. Her emotions were a wreck, and I could easily strike her down emotionally. Ah, but where I wouldn't hesitate to smash with a sword, I did with words because the ramifications would cut me off at the knees, too. Putting the slightest unnecessary emotional strain on her would put an equally large burden on me.

That's when something I read once seemed to replay in my head.

The passage went something like this: "The world is filled with beautiful women and, more often than not, men will confuse their attraction to that beauty with love. It is when true love is found that a man can accept his woman in all stages of her life. She may be a tad heftier than in his youth or a bit more wrinkled than he last remembered, but there's something about her-a tie that binds one could say-that still brings a smile to his face in every situation …."

Weird how that seemed to strike me as the biggest pile of garbage that I'd ever read back when I was 18. But right there, it made more sense than even the fingers on my hands. I had seen her look better, a lot better. Despite the fact that she looked like a pauper, I couldn't shake loose the overwhelming attraction and sense of sorrow. The bulk of the world's power lay within me, and I couldn't separate the bond between us. Five years apart had done absolutely nothing to curb my desire, my need for that woman. I'd had a goddess for crying out loud! And you're telling me that one mortal, one woman that had kicked me in the balls, couldn't be shook? Damn, I never did like feeling helpless-but some reason that situation didn't make me feel helpless at all. I felt alive, undeniably so, in Nabooru's presence. Not because I now stood there a god, but because I was in her presence.

"Why'd you do that to me?" I felt compelled to ask, though, with an air-clearing kind of tone. "After everything we went through, what made that the right choice?"

Nabooru looked as though someone had smashed her mouth in, as she tried to stare straight through the floor but only found her reflection staring back from the forever-polished black marble. "I don't know," quickly shot out of her mouth as more of a word than a statement.

"Just tell me something," I continued to prod. Time slowly slipped away, while Nabooru continued to stare at the floor in contemplation. I'd nearly found the end of my patience when she sighed.

"I … I wanted to hurt you," she admitted, amidst a deep breath. "You were … here with me, but you weren't. You juggled your time with everyone, but I was always the dropped ball, and I wanted to do something to get your attention. But then everything got so complicated. We made up, but I couldn't stop … seeing him." Nabooru paused, lazily wiping her eyes for no discernable reason.

"So that was the big plan? Keep going until I found out and maximum damage was achieved," I smirked, turning back to the window and staring into the sun to gather my next few thoughts.

"No … I just … I didn't," Nabooru swore and began to take a new approach. "I thought it was. I thought I could stop seeing him once I had you back, but …"

"You couldn't give up the control." Filling in the blanks never had more meaning than at that moment. She agreed with my answer, only furthering it by saying that she tried to tell me. Yeah, I guess I must've been absent when that happened.

Nabooru then asks, "How can I fix this?"

"I thought we had fixed this." She stared confused by that comment. "Our honeymoon," I told her, "the whole thing about not being alone in this twisted little world of ours. I can't believe you thought I cared more about sitting there listening to those elitist Sermonian bastards than being with you."

"I know," Nabooru sighed pitifully, as though the obvious somehow diminished the quality of her realization. "Everything seemed so obvious, though-like you were deliberately avoiding me or something."

I tilted my head back, seeing if I'd heard that correctly. Me? Avoid her? What?

"And who's the one that told me to get the Gerudo a say in Hyrulean Affairs?"

I turned back around and pointed at her over my shoulder.

"And who's the one that said it wasn't fair that the Kokiri never got a say in the business dealings?"

I kept staring out of the window, pausing in my nomadic viewing to point at her.

"Diplomacy has its sacrifices and rewards. You should've told me that I was sacrificing too much when it became … obvious that I didn't realize it." I chuckled, amused at my own play on words. "I can't do everything. But, somewhere deep inside, you knew I'd try to be the perfect husband, the amazing father, omnipotent god, and blazing lover-even if there weren't enough hours in the day to actually do it. And the end result of your experiment?" I turned slowly in place, letting my eyes play on the distance between us. "You find out that I'm not perfect enough to do it all. I'm just a man like all of the rest-no better and no worse. A little warped and burnt around the edges, but still an imperfect male."

The glow from my eyes reflected clearly off her face, and the tears welling up in her eyes. Still, though, why should I care? Why did I care? Explain that and I'll buy you ice cream for a year. Drawing a blank too? I figured as much. Things had escalated further than I would have liked. To remedy that little nuisance, the light ebbed from my eyes and the whimsical tone left my voice.

"You're all I have left," I told her, sighing as though she were some kind of consolation prize. Nabooru's eyes widened as the shock was absorbed, not that I paid it any real attention. "I've lost both of my children to their hatred towards me. And all that leaves me with is you. I look at you and all I want to do is hate you with every last part of me. But then I keep looking … remembering, feeling, missing the way things appeared to be and all I want is that life back."

It isn't sound in logic, sure. But that was the truth. I don't even remember when it was that I moved across the room, or when I put my arms around her, because it felt so natural and placating that I couldn't quite think. That's not entirely true. It wasn't until Nabooru began to beg that my mind jolted back to life. She stood a few inches taller than I did then due to the molding of my image in the likeness of my pre-merged self, which exposed what little of her neck the gown didn't obstruct from view. Burn marks, I thought as I saw the thick welts encircling her lithe throat. The second had been rope burns.

"Does this mean that I may have a second chance?" I took my eyes off her neck, looking up into her eyes for a sign of something. I can't really describe what it was that I was looking for, just something.

That's when I backed away and said, "If you really know me, you know why I can't do that."

I saw the tears begin to stream down her cheeks, as she opened her mouth to ask why or probably plead from the sheer wildness dancing around in her pupils. "Trust," was the only word that passed her lips.

I eventually replied, though, it did nothing to lift the mood. "I can't trust you. And without trust …"

"There's a chance! Please!"

"It's too soon," I whispered, backing away from her.

Like there could be any other choice. No matter how hard I wished things hadn't turned out that way or how bad I wanted to be with her, the situation at hand would never linger far from my mind. That's not marriage. That, my friend, is a long, tortuous countdown till the end. Proceeding to walk back to the window and lean against it, I stared up at the ceiling simply to look somewhere new. A severed rope dangled lifelessly from a support beam, which cast a slim shadow against the opposite wall. Nabooru had tried to kill herself, I'd come to accept. I had realized it when I saw the rope burns. Although I hoped that wasn't the case, the scenario didn't leave much room for debate. A translucent apparition of Nabooru began to move before my eyes, as the event played out when I tapped into the memories stored within the room that I hadn't been present to see.

I watched her sit down on the edge of the bed, weave the noose, tie the knot, and take the plunge off the bed with said noose around her neck.

I shook as I heard the hemp strain beneath my wife's weight. I nearly vomited as my wife, the mother of my first child, gagged and twitched at the end of a rope like a hooked fish. As weird as it may seem, I got a little misty when I saw her remember that not only could her life not end, but neither would the pain. I never knew losing my powers would leave her immortality intact. After watching that, I almost wished it hadn't. Death would've been better than that. Heh, I'd never realized that I'd still thought of Nabooru as my wife until that moment. It was probably because I felt obligated to rectify the wrong in her life that would make death seem like a proper solution.

After an eternity spent watching her hang there, an angel of mercy appeared in the form of Varia to check in on Nabooru, who apparently quit eating her meals with the others, and found her hanged. She didn't even seem that stunned seeing her like that. She sat Nabooru's food down on the dresser, the sword came out, cut the rope, and was sheathed-it was that cut and dry-before she spoke.

"You're a damned fool," Varia had said, as her disgust remained in check before her choking queen. "Just like Link won't die, neither will you. And if you can't die that must mean he's still alive. And if he's still alive that means you still have a chance! So stop crying, because you don't have a right to."

It's never hurt me that much to walk away from someone as it did then. I said no good-byes nor made any gestures that I was leaving. Heh, I just shut my eyes and warped to the first place that popped into my head. When I opened my eyes again, I was standing in the center of the bridge facing the falls. If anything, this made things more difficult in the sense that I looked like some kind of sneak or coward. But in the same breath, did she really expect it to turn out any differently? Fuck! If things never turned out like that, I wouldn't be casting myself out of somewhere again. I could easily forgive. Forgetting would be the hard part. I'd probably spy on her every footstep, thought, word, and heartbeat to make sure it didn't happen again.

That's when I let my mind wander.

Time heals everything, right? All I had to do was wait this thing out. I'd be able to trust her one day, all I needed to do was wait. It would be just like with Ganondorf in that, 30 years after the last battle, I'm at least able to tolerate him. Yeah, you smelled the stink on that too, huh? So time doesn't work like that with me. Time doesn't heal old wounds; they simply fester when it comes to me. Come on. Eternity is a longtime to go without trusting someone, especially when you want to. I shook my head to ease the tension, beginning to walk toward Kokiri to think about some things. Somehow, I avoided this one question until I got sick of walking and warped to the old wall a ways past Lon-Lon Ranch.

What could I have done to prevent this? I thought, pushing aside the memories that my body's being slammed into that very spot had caused the destruction of the wall. That's when the question of questions presented itself: What can I do to change this?

If I'd left to see why Nabooru was taking so long to return that night instead of playing around with Sepaaru, then none of this would've happened. But that's to say I would've been aware of how neglectful I had been, which I had no idea about at the time. Ah, but what if I did know? Specifically, what if I undid the circumstances? Yes, I thought, as a smile found itself on my lips. All I had to do was be the one outside of the Kakariko Archery Hut instead of Cornelius. From there, I could un-fuck this entire situation before me. My wife wouldn't screw him and I wouldn't lose more of my sanity.

That's when I felt reality … ripple.

"You can't be serious, nephew." The all-wise and all-knowing Vic appeared shortly thereafter his voice, taking a casual seat down beside me.

I somewhat snorted, saying, "I guess this is the part where you start running down how this is tempting Fate."

"And how nice of you to turn the smoke screen down and talk," he replied, sarcasm underlining his tone. "To answer your `question': This can't possibly work the way that you intend," he stated calmly, as though it was some kind of foregone conclusion that this plan equated to failure. "Interfering with Fate always messes something up, Link. Gain a wife, lose a child. Gain a child, lose another. You're messing with …"

"Can I just ask you what it is that I have now that makes this such a bad idea?" This interjected question put a pause on my uncle's wisdom-laced diatribe, as, for a change, he didn't have anything to say. "Gain a what? Lose what exactly? There's nothing left for me to lose."

"It may seem that way …"

"Don't tell me how this seems." This interruption only served to show my frayed ends, as it segued into one of those pesky tirades of mine. "My son seemed to like me up until I refused to become a leech to his powers. `Uncle Vic said …' seems to be the only way my son can rationalize his actions. Now, Mr. Observer, what do you know of being empathetic to my life when you refuse to even participate in your own?"

He sat there for a moment, sucking his teeth for a few before asking a simple question.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"You seem to have made yourself rather comfortable in my absence," I said, as the heat left the moment beneath a deep sigh. "From the way Link tells it, you seem to make a pretty good father for a guy with no children."

"You still didn't answer my question," Vic then stood up, walked around in front of me, and just loomed.

"You sit there day in and day out planning, plotting, strategizing, and doing nothing else," I conceded and answered his query. "When's the last time you made love? When is the last time you just did something spontaneous with your life, other than outthinking someone? I'm not one to lecture about living the high life, but at least I aspire to do something with my time. You haven't even tried to live life enough to relate to my situation in mind, body, or feeling."

Vic laughed, but you could tell that I'd hit close with my assumptions. "You call pouring your emotions into a creature-that could very well hurt you again-a life? Ha."

"At least I can put my emotions into something live enough to return them," I replied. "It's better than avoiding all intimate contact to ensure that nothing ever goes wrong."

"Forgive me if I don't see it that way," he tells me, which leads to his saying something along the lines of, "how's your situation any better? The first major hump in the road and you not only blame yourself for it when it's not your fault, but you plot to reverse the course of history at the sake of those around you." I sat there amidst confusion having heard that, never realizing how prone a position like that was when dealing with the uncle's mental kicks. "Did it ever occur to you that maybe, just maybe, things turned out like this for a reason? How about your children's lives? Who's to say what kind of tailspin this could throw their lives into?"

The man did have his points, even if he hid them among questions like stealthy pitfalls. Of course, Vic never did know when he'd made his point, and that usually meant he'd keep hammering it until your head split.

"You want to deal with the mortal woman, fine. Deal with it," he almost shouts at me. "But quit acting like a child and running away from everything that you can't hit. Waaah! My kids hate me! Shut up and go talk to them! But … but my wife had an affair! And? Deal with it-scream at her, shout, blow something up if it'll make you feel better-just don't go undo all of the good you've done for everyone to fix a couple of mild inconveniences in your life."

"Like you know what its like," I managed to say, obviously falling back on the first thing that came to mind: Petulance.

"I don't have to," Vic adds, removing the thunder from his voice. "Worlds live and die by your whim; universes expand and shrink as you decide; and after all of that, you really expect me to believe that you can't make it past these miniscule problems without moving time and space? Nothing about these circumstances can defeat you; only you alone can do that, Link."

Now those are some wise words for your ass. I guess I really needed to pay attention to my own mumbo jumbo and actually put the sword down. Look at the situation, I mean. Damn, all I did was talk about not fighting and just peacefully living out the rest of my time. However, the moment something went wrong, the first place my hand went was over my shoulders for a weapon. If there wasn't a weapon to ward off the evil dreams, unfaithful wife, and angry children-I utilized the old "he who runs away lives to fight another day" routine. It never really hit me how truly pathetic that was until those words came out of his mouth.

"And since you have nothing left to lose, why don't you start by telling your children the truth about who you are?" And Vic just kept on digging. "If there's nothing to lose, everything you say shouldn't matter, aside from giving you peace of mind."

"Do you have any idea how I could tell the truth and not come across like a murdering madman?"

"Nope, but I know there's more to you than that," Vic said cryptically, as he disappeared out of existence on this plane. "Make your children see that, too …" his voice trailed on a gust of wind, as something else caught my attention-a new presence approaching me.

The shallow snowdrifts crunched beneath Zelda's feet as she drew nearer. Without even thinking about it, I shifted forms and grew back to the size and proportions that she had been accustomed to seeing me. She really cleared that space between here and Lon-Lon fast, I thought as my little girl-now a 23-year-old woman-stopped a mere three feet away from me. At least I had bearings enough to accurately judge her age.

I had mistakenly thought Link to be 11-seeing as how I hadn't bothered to look at a calendar-but that changed the moment his mother brought him a gift for his 13th birthday. It has little relevance to the topic at hand, but it does serve to show how fast the years were beginning to pass me by and how much I wished they'd stop. In the then present, I scooted over on the largest chunk of rubble without a word. I leaned forward, bridging my hands beneath my nose as she sat down alongside me.

"So, how is it going?" My right eyebrow peaked, surprised by how her voice had changed. She spoke with her mother's tongue-reserved and direct-but a tone that was high enough to betray the strength of its owner. "Link told me that you had gone missing, so I came to help search for you. Imagine my surprise when I overheard you up here talking."

"Some ears," I quipped lamely, as she wiggled her left ear to appease the joke. After a slight adjustment process, I finally gave her question an answer. "It's going," I replied, observing her from the corner of my eye.

Zelda held herself in an effort to keep warm, apprehensively splitting her attention between me and looking straight ahead. I furrowed my brows for a moment, causing a sizeable pit to appear in the ground before us. Then, with a little more thought, the hole ignited with a medium fire. "Better?" I asked, not even trying to hide how I did that with the usual "fairy magic" semantics. I didn't even make mention of her comments about Link, as I could already feel the questions beginning to bubble up in her mind.

Zelda nodded in concurrence while keeping her hands in the same positions holding her knee-length fur coat together. It was one of those white numbers, more for looks than actual warmth, but she seemed warm enough with the fire. That tenuous silence loomed between us still, probably even more so than normal when you consider all of the time that had passed since we last spoke. I didn't want to invade her thoughts, but something made her mind more accessible … seemed to force her thoughts to be heard. I realized that she was opening herself up to me, similar to the way her mother had so long ago.

"Does this mean your brother was wrong, and that you haven't sworn off magic?" She met my question with an in the middle type of look, pushing a strand of red hair behind her right ear. "He told me that Vic was explaining some of the more … intricate parts of your heritage to you."

"I never said I swore off anything," Zelda said quietly. "It felt wrong hearing about that stuff from him-like I was betraying you somehow. So, I just stopped listening."

It felt weird hearing her acknowledge that I still counted on some level. Based upon this information, I decided to test the waters and see how much my uncle had neglected to tell her.

"What don't you know then?"

"There's nothing left that I haven't pieced together," she told me. "You were put in some pretty rough spots-if all that I see in the dreams is true-and you did what needed to be done."

"Are you reading that from a script?" I asked before I fully realized it. Zelda laughed a little as the fire twinkled in her eyes.

"You wonder why I'm not angry," she asserted, as I nodded my reply. "I won't lie. I was angry for awhile. But one day I looked at the whole picture." I watched her kick a clump of snow into the flames, licking her lips to buy a few seconds of preparation time. "At first, all I thought about were the `whys' or `how comes' or `why not then' questions. You used to promise that nothing bad would ever happen to me, but when I went to sleep all that bad stuff happened. Then I'd come to you, crying undoubtedly, and you'd always let me sleep between you and mom.

The day you left, that Cornelius guy started rambling about this war. I started recognizing things he had said at the end, because that was always the dream where I didn't just observe-I acted. The smell, the taste, all of it-I'd done it all a thousand times in my head. You'd done it a thousand times. You'd done that a thousand times in my head. I was confused, hurt about how I found mom and the rest, so I ran. I must've avoided thinking about it for months after. You'd never told me and how much it pissed me off were the only things on my mind. I started to gain some perspective when I thought about it.

I started to remember that look in your eyes, that pain in your voice, when I'd run to you about the nightmares and you comforted me … apologized to me.

`What the heck makes me so special?' I asked myself. `If dad experienced these same dreams-actually lived through these circumstances-what the hell made my bad dreams that big of a deal?'

You didn't act as though the world owed you anything because of them. You didn't wait for an apology. In all honesty, I thought, what stopped me from doing the same thing? No one gave you a real choice, like you somehow didn't give me, and that's the bottom line.

There was nothing to be angry about once I understood that. You didn't do anything wrong. Even when we grew apart, you never made me feel unloved or uncared for. I was always `Baby Girl' to you. No matter how much I'd screamed at you or claimed that I hated you, I always ran to you when something went wrong and you never turned me away …" Zelda paused, taking another page from her mother's book and feigning emotional strength when she obviously had none. "Your not telling me about the dreams didn't change the way you treated me or the way I felt about you. We were just victims of circumstance."

"Probably ran to me because I was the pushover," I said, draping my right arm around her shoulders, and dragging her closer and letting her settle there with a few sniffles. "I'm so…"

"Maybe, but enough of all the bad," she suddenly decreed, never once allowing me to weigh in on the former subject. "Where have you been?"

"Here, there, you know, around," I obliged, ignoring the fact that Junior had told her more than a dozen times that I was back. "And how about you?"

"Nothing," Zelda said a bit too quickly, which was the reply she always gave when she had done something. She let her attention play to the fire, absorbing the invisible warmth radiated by the orange flames.

"Spit," I commanded in that fatherly way, wondering what caused the sudden drought in speech. Okay, so I wasn't exactly the pillar supporting the other end of the conversation table. But what do you expect? I was still in shock from the little dream thing.

"Did you ever miss mom?"

"What's to miss?" It came out a lot more spiteful than I intended it to be. Zelda even shrank back in lieu of my response. "I meant to say I miss what your mother appeared to be, not what she was."

Zelda moved away from me in that moment, asking, "And that means what exactly?"

"Something I can't really explain," I replied softly, but a speck loud enough for Zelda to hear. "It's like a chapter of my life that I want closed, but I don't really." I shrugged past the deeper meaning, seeking a nice little nook to hide in while the frustrating parts of life passed me by.

"If you still feel that strongly about her, doesn't that mean you should at least try to work through this?" Sensing my confliction, my daughter continued to press the subject. "I'm not saying you should just forgive her, but doesn't mom deserve a chance?"

"She deserves a chance to do what? Create a new trial and then exact some form of revenge when I don't pass?" Zelda and I traded places for a moment, as now she wore the mask of confliction and I was the presser of the subject. "I've served my time. I don't need someone in my life that's going to assign me a thousand things to do, then get pissed when I can't do them all at the same …"

Zelda interrupted me, saying, "Why should you do anything? Mom messed up, so why not make her do a `thousand' things to prove herself or something?"

"Why bother?"

"Because I know you're just as miserable as she is," Zelda stated plainly. My eyes seemed to avert to the fire to avoid Zelda's, as her statement seemed a little too self-assured. "I know she isn't as strong as us," Zelda tried to cajole me by saying, "but mom's dying without you. Maybe not in body, but in soul … she's breaking. Every day, she gets weaker and more disillusioned about living. You might not show it, but I know you feel the same way."

"And you base this on what?" My question lingered only for a moment. Zelda's answer left me at a loss to say the least.

"You smiled every time I said the word mom," she began, continuing her spiel right over top my denial. "And every time I mentioned her suffering, you frowned-and not because I mentioned her. You frowned because mom is hurting and you're hurting. You just won't make it stop."

I knew that I was overdue for a guilt trip of some sort. Luckily, for me, however, Zelda didn't disappoint.

"I'm not saying you have to fix everything. I'm only saying that if mom never cared about you, she wouldn't have been miserable enough to try and kill herself-you have to know that."

Okay, so she did disappoint me. I had this whole orchestrated rant worked up, then … BOOM! I had nothing. Zelda had me, though. I left Nabooru with all the money, jewelry, furnishings, and animals, yet she still tried to take her own life. What? It was all a clever ploy to trick me. Are you sniffing the horseshit again? What had me more disturbed than anything else was the fact that Zelda knew. She knew her mother had attempted to take her own life and, while I said that I cared, I didn't show it. You and I know that wasn't the case, yet I couldn't articulate why it wasn't the case … not in a manner that seemed logical.

"Since we're delving into the past and all," I started anew. "How about we discuss you?" I smiled (in the back of my mind) about how I made the question sound parental and authoritative. Luckily, Zelda bit.

"What's to discuss about me?" she asked nonchalantly, holding her hands out toward the fire. "I stay at the farm when things get too heavy at home, if that's what you mean."

"Not that …" ass, talking out of "… I'm talking about the way you started treating me when Link was born." No! Do you think? Of course, I see it was a bad topic choice. Critical thinking never was my thing. Well, not without a sword, anyway.

Zelda giggled, it was a nervous and obviously uncomfortable response to my statement. Nonetheless, she met the challenge laid before her. "Remember how you used to tell me those stories about how I'd `grow up and leave a trail of broken hearts'?" I told her that I did, watching her squirm her way through the next few words. "I remember overhearing mom and Varia talking one night when I was little. They were talking about how you `all but rode in on a white horse and saved the Gerudo race.' They said you were the model hero-big, strong, and all that type of stuff just joking around. And mom seemed more amazed that she'd never imagined that she would end up with someone like you …"

"You can stop selling your mother." Zelda met my interjection by rolling her eyes.

"Anyway, I walked away from that wondering if I could meet someone like that." She coughed, cracking her knuckles simultaneously. "I used to imagine that I had a man like Mommy's. He'd be a man that always made me smile even when I was mad at him." Zelda stopped suddenly, bursting at the seams with laughter. I laughed by the trickledown effect, amused the mood had somewhat lifted. "He'd be tall, and he wouldn't have weird hair sprouting out of his face. His hair would be white like the clouds and snow, his eyes could change colors and glow, and he could turn into a little kid to play games. Oh! And he'd be strong and have arms that made me feel safe when the dreams tried to get me. That's when you came to tuck me in."

I watched as Zelda sighed, twisting the release of breath into a cough that stopped halfway through. "It was weird. You looked like the prince that I'd marry. This is so embarrassing, but I used to imagine that we'd get married one day. I even had this schedule where mom and I shared you. Why are you laughing?" It wasn't the best of times to crack up, but if you could have seen the way that she was frowning. Perhaps Nocturna's speech had prepared me for Zelda's revelation. Whatever the case, I found it more humoring than serious.

Then Zelda kept talking.

"It's not like I thought I had a chance, but when Link was born … it didn't seem that out of place." She blew a white forelock out of her face, shrugging some. "Like I said, it was weird. But you did say that I could have anyone that I wanted when I grew up. But wasn't I a grown-up already? I thought I was, and I wanted you, so why wasn't it happening? Everything you told me seemed like a big lie after awhile. I wasn't the prettiest, smartest, or beautiful. `If daddy didn't really think so, how could it be true?' Sepaaru wasn't even your real daughter, and you gave her a whole day with you!" That last part blurred the comedic line. On one hand, Zelda did grasp the lack of blood relation between Sepaaru and me now. On the other, she still seemed bitter about that day.

"I never lied when I told you those things," I said, as Zelda stewed in the past.

"Why didn't I ever get a special day like Sepaaru?"

"You're my child," I replied, completely stunned that in all of her brains she hadn't worked this problem out yet. "I may be disturbed, but even I'm not that bent. It's one thing for me to treat someone else as my child, and then stop. It's a whole new thing to up and decide that, since my real daughter is beautiful, I should lay the dick to her, too." Maybe that was a little crass, but it could've been the eye-opener that she needed. Zelda sat there for a little while, completely silenced by the bluntness of my statement.

When she spoke, she said, "Is `laying the dick to her' all you did with Sepaaru? I heard differently."

"Not really," I began truthfully as was becoming the way of the day. "I paid her the respect due in such a situation as well."

"And that is …" Zelda trailed, angling her frustration up some.

"I cared," I said quite plainly, considering that this had been a subject I'd avoided for over a decade. "I invested as much in her first time as she did." And when that brought about an odd gaze, I added, "You asked."

"Can I ask something else?" I told her that she could, and the result was this gem. "If I wasn't your daughter … would you?"

"Would I what? Sleep with you?"

"No, pull a rabbit out of your boot! Be serious," Zelda shouted. She even went so far as pouting like a child once I began to laugh.

"Depends," I started by saying, chuckling as she began to get irritated both with anger and embarrassment. "Yes, I'd screw you if you weren't my daughter and such a spoiled brat." You'd swear that I'd been hit in the head by the casualness of it all, but I wasn't. I wasn't nervous anymore or apprehensive. Everything simply flowed out of my brain and through my mouth.

"I am not spoiled!" shouted the young woman with her lower lip stuck out. I let her mini-fit continue, enjoying the company and rest from all the talking while I could. "You're serious, though," Zelda says eventually, reverting to an uncertain and almost needy quest for this answer. Taking her hand in mine, I stood up and faced her. It was one of those uncomfortable moments, but I worked with what I had and laid it on her.

"Without question, I would make love to you if you were not my child." I asserted the statement this time, looking her directly in the eye without so much as a wavered word. What? What the hell do you mean by that? No, I didn't lay the dick on her. What kind of sick- I should stomp you, you know that? Anyhow, I let her hand go and turned away with enough flair to ensure her that I spoke the truth and that this subject was dead.

Zelda snapped out of her trance, equally blushing and in search of a new topic.

"Are you going to visit mom?"

I realized then that I had been inadvertently looking toward Gerudo Valley. I can't understand why the fortress drew me there. I wasn't so blind as to let compassion or guilt make me feel indebted to help her. It was quite the opposite, really. This was about what I wanted. And what I wanted more than anything happened to be in a funky gown a few miles to the west. Outwardly, I appeared to shift in my moods. In actuality, I had merely decided to quit running away.

"I think I will," I finally told Zelda. "Tomorrow, though. I'm not letting my daughter walk around in this twisted world alone, so I'll walk you back to the ranch."

"Why thank you," she said, hopping up on my back without warning. "Link and Sepaaru are going to be happy to see you're all right."

I laughed. "That's doubtful. I've been gone for the better part of three days."

"And that's why they'll be happy," Zelda told me. "They felt bad about not checking on you for a couple of days, but when they finally did you were already gone."

Surprising, isn't it? I decided to postpone the trip back to Gerudo Valley indefinitely then, as I needed to try this talking thing with my son again. Hopefully it would go better than the first time since my lungs weren't dying. As simple as I'm making all of this sound, there would be a complication that I never expected or even knew about. That's a story for another day, though. So, I'll talk to you then.