The first days of Albi’s slumber had gone by. Arrow had already prepared a fine meal and plenty to drink. He entered the chamber, got near the healing machine, and calmly raised the top up. The stimulus activated the mechanism which lifted the top automatically. The water level decreased, revealing Albi’s nude body and wet hair. Arrow stepped inside with a large cloth on his hands, which he then placed over his shoulder.
· Wake up, Albi. We need to get you some food—he said trying to get the boy on his feet.
Albi’s body remained lose and weak, and although efforts were made, his lids opened only to shut down on their own. He was yet to recover from the drowsiness sleep had brought upon him. Arrow did not want to become so close to his unadorned body out of his respect for both him and Ravio, but as his ill companion struggled to get up, he lost his balance, falling inside his arms. The feeling of his hands on Albi’s damp, bare skin was pleasing, and still unsettling, but he knew he was doing this out of his caring for the boy. Once outside the cask, he quickly wrapped the cloth around Albi, helped him get dry, and lent him some of his own clothes. A pair of simple trousers and a top made of Rito feathers were able to keep Albi’s hypothermia at bay. Throughout the process, he did not say a word. However, he listened to Arrow and seemed happy in his company.
Arrow did not only desire to help Albi, he wanted him to inhale a breath of fresh air outside. He got the boy on his back, and climbed a high stone ledge that divided the plateau from the Shrine of Resurrection. The breeze from beyond got Albi moving lightly on his back. It led him to assume the boy was curious about the new scenario: the mountains, a volcano, and the clear view of a decayed Hyrule Castle. Arrow gave him a back ride downhill, and he stopped below a rough rock that shielded a campfire.
Arrow kneeled and allowed Albi to sit by his side. Then, he reached him a platter of greens, rice, some fruit, and apple juice.
· I hope you like it.
Albi smiled shyly and took a bite off his meal.
· You’re already looking better. How do you feel?
Once again, he smiled, but did not reply.
· Hm. I see that my pants don’t have the best fit on you. The top looks fine, though. It’s just a tad big, I’d say.
Albi gave Arrow a sarcastic look that would have said “really?” if it had talked.
· C’mon… Say something. I just want to know if you’re better.
· I am better.
· I’m glad. Is there a reason why you’re so quiet?
· I’ve always been this way—he replied in the same neutral and monotone voice everyone knew.
· So, the fact that you’re so calm is a sign that you’re returning to your origins?
· I believe so.
· Then I think there’s no problem. I’m relieved.
· Your food is delightful—he deviated.
· Oh, well, thank you. I tried to give you something tasty and healthy. It’s only breakfast, though.
· I must eat more?
· During the course of the day.
· I am not sure I can. My stomach is still a bit tired.
· Just give it a try. If it’s too much, we can let it go, but as of now, imagine it’s a normal day.
· An average day—he pondered— I have not had one of those in some time—he said eating some more of his vegetables—it is complicated for someone such as myself to understand what a day without rarity is.
· You mean… as an escort?
· But today you are just you, Albi. Just a lovely boy with the most confusing voice I’ve heard. Honestly, if I had not seen you naked back there, I would’ve thought you were a girl.
· Says the one with the large hips.
· Yes, your voice is quite deep. That gives you away.
· Believe me, I’ve had my fair share of problems because of it—he recalled Gerudo Town—Anyway! Why is it that you find your days to be so odd?
· Remember how you saved me? I have had men of that quality follow me around Hyrule from the first day I stupidly decided to sell my body for money. It is not a life I am proud of or fond of. Contriteness has become me ever since.
· Why did you go down this road?
· I believe it was something quiescent deep within me. I believed myself of strong will, but I was proven a weak sodomite.
· Oh, wow—Arrow chuckled nervously at Albi’s blunt description—that’s harsh—he said and scratched his neck.
· It is reality, however—he reassured and continued to eat.
· I think you should start looking at yourself differently, Albi. You’re younger than I am, and you already speak like it’s the end of the line. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
· I’ll propound it.
· Don’t just “propound it”—he repeated in Albi’s tone— you have to make an effort. If only you were able to see yourself the way Ravio does.
· Ravio—whispered Albi as he held his own hand—not a single day in Hyrule went by without him in my thoughts.
· He was so sad when we left you in the restoration machine.
· Sad? You must be mistaken.
· Why wouldn’t he have been? He misses you, too.
· Does he?
· Albi, he cares for you!—said Arrow puzzled about such new behavior.
· No, wait—he interrupted Arrow—he was sad? Ravio can’t feel! He doesn’t have a heart of his own.
· Well, he was sad. Believe me, I know what sad and defeated looks like.
Albi then realized how much Ravio had evolved after their change of hearts.
· He was sad for me—he realized as tears rolled down his eyes.
· Albi—said Arrow as he got close to him—I can see you’ve had a rough relationship.
· It has been confusing most of the time.
· I don’t know much of any of you—he said as he dried his partner’s tears—but I know when somebody truly cares about you.
Albi looked at Arrow as he felt the genuineness in his words.
· 100 years ago—he continued— I had friends who cared deeply about me. They all lost their lives to save me and the princess. Amongst those friends, there was a zora girl. Her name was Mipha. She had the power to heal and promised to use said power to always care for me—he spoke rapidly and unarrangedly— Ganon, the Calamity, it destroyed everything. Zelda and I were left alone against the world. I too, fell. 100 years later, I encountered my old zora friends, who remembered me kindly. Mipha, however, was gone, Zelda as well. It was then when the truth I could not see before unfolded, and then I realized how foolish I had been. Mipha didn’t only care, she loved me. As her final will, she gifted me some of her grace. As for Zelda, she never liked me. However, it was not because of me, but because of how I reminded her of everything she was unable to achieve—he cleared his throat—I mean that I understand both love and sadness pretty well. These two girls embodied those feelings respectively. I only regret being unable to tell back then.
· I’m so sorry—he responded in a lack of better words.
· And so was I. Albi, don’t be me.
· So Ravio can feel for me now?
· He was willing to give his own life to save yours; he did. Mipha would have done the same for me. She did.
· How are you now?
· I have found myself at peace. I know she cares for me and that whichever becomes of my love life nowadays, she’ll be happy. That’s the only thing she wanted, for me to be well.
· Arrow, thank you.
· You don’t have to thank me. Just take care of him. He’d do anything for you. Oh, and never describe yourself as a weak sodomite again. That’s not who you are. It’s also pretty nasty, sheesh! If you’re into it, that’s fine, but don’t use it as your introduction. Man!
Albi burst into a lovely, feminine, yet quiet, laughter.
· Wow! Your laugh’s even worse. Are you sure you’re not a lady?
· I’m sure—he replied in a smile—it is admirable how you can remain within your sanity after the story which shadows you. Even further how you can stay positive and kind.
· Although I can’t recall my real father beyond him being mentioned in my memories, I had something close to a second father figure. His name was Daruk. He was a Goron. Even in the darkest of situations, he tried to lighten up things. I think I got it from him.
· How lovely.
Albi and Arrow shared the stories of their adventures, their families, their connection to the Master Sword, that which ailed them, and their most treasured moments. The first one told the tale of Lorule, his encounter with Ravio, his trump, and the fall of Hyrule. The second remembered the day he was called to Hyrule Castle, the constant menace of the Calamity, Daruk’s support, Urbosas tutoring, Revali’s rivalry, Mipha’s love, and Zelda’s suffering. He retold of the weapon machines that ran across the land, and his fatal encounter in Fort Hateno, which was blurred into the blue of a mortal, beaming light, swallowed by a glistening yellow hue.
· Arrow, truly, you died.
· I did. Perhaps there was some small energy left, and I was taken there—he pointed at the chamber—I slept for those 100 years I mentioned before.
· How did you adapt to life after your awakening?
· I’m not sure. I voice called me and said I had to end the Calamity. I had no memories, so I held one to the only information that voice gave me. From there, it all followed its own course. Surely, I wish I could recall more, like my father, my mother, life before the castle… but I see it as impossible.
· It would be great if you could remember, indeed. You also deserve as much.
· So, you’re not upset?
· Upset? Why?
· I couldn’t defend the land you and many others saved.
· Arrow, that’s not fair for me to judge. Those Guardians sound like death itself. They run, they fly, and come in different sizes? I never encountered an enemy as such.
· What a relief. In my ceremony, Zelda mentioned something like “Skybound, through time, or the depths of Twilight…” Ack! I cannot remember well—he pressed his head—well, bummer—he resigned—somehow those stories connect us to the Master Sword. I realized she must’ve been talking about the other heroes. I was concerned that you, being one of them, would be disappointed in my outcome.
Albi looked at Arrow with his eyes wide open.
· I don’t think any of them would be disappointed. And you descend from all of them? Outstanding!
· Them? Them who? The heroes? We both do.
· No, no! I mean Sky, Time, and Twi—he replied—I wonder if you will meet them.
· Time has a pony tail like you, and Sky has your spiky side part. Twi cooks, just like you—he added quite aroused.
· Wait! So these other heroes, you know them?
· I was supposed to help them in this mission, but with my illness, it became unfeasible. Perhaps you could help them?
· Hey, hey! Don’t get too excited. I’m here to help you and purple man.
· I know—affirmed Albi as he finished his meal—thank you for the food.
· You’re most welcome! Say, you sound so much better.
· I think you’re lovely.
· Aw! Aren’t you sweet all of a sudden?—he said in a tinge of sarcasm—Well, if you’re done, let’s go.
· Where are we going?—he asked as he, weakly, stood up.
· You can hold on to me.
· Thank you—said Albi as he did.
· We’re going to a place called Lurelin Village. Great sea food, lovely weather, a view of the ocean, peace, and quiet. How does it sound?
· Oh, it sounds nice. I keep losing balance, though—he said clinging onto Arrow—are you sure it will not prove a problem?
· Nonsense! You’ll be fine. Besides, I’ll be with you all the time.
With the Sheika Slate’s help, Arrow warped himself and Albi to the southeastern coasts of Hyrule. They were received by the platform on Yah Rin Shrine, from where the view of the sea met the line of the sky. The wind blew towards the eastern islands, making the leaves atop the vastness of the palm trees sway along. The Shrine was set high up on the hills with no clear way down. Arrow helped Albi every step of the way below, carefully using the natural rock formations.
As soon as they set foot on the grass, Albi was interested by the creatures before him: a couple of Hateno cows gathered within their pen. He was soon distracted, however, by the sound of the waves near the enclosing coasts. Unknowingly, he pushed Arrow aside and made his way- sloppily due to his poor strength- to the place where the water and sand became one.
· It’s so beautiful—he whispered.
Arrow joined his side.
· You really like it, don’t you?
· I do—replied Albi taking some of the crisp water within his hands.
Although mesmerized, he was soon saddened by the view of his own reflection. The water poured through his fingers.
· What happened?—asked Arrow.
· It’s nothing.
· Hey, don’t look so down—said Arrow helping Albi up—come here.
He guided Albi close to a small statue in the image of Goddess Hylia. There, Albi sat down on the stone ground, placing both his feet under water. The feeling of it was pleasing and calming.
· Are you better?
· I am. This is lovely.
Albi expected Arrow to sit beside him, but he was, in its place, surprise by the sight of him undressing the top part of his body. Arrow noticed his new friend staring in awe.
· Oh, sorry. It’s hot here.
· It is now.
· What?—asked Arrow taken aback by Albi’s response.
· Um, sorry. I got carried away.
· Well, I think I’m keeping my pants on—he smiled—here, take care of my tunic—he handed out the blue garbs.
· Where are you going?
· To get part two of your meal. You really couldn’t have gotten full on those veggies alone, right?
· Shh! The meals are my work. You have no say but “thank you”—he said as he left Albi alone for a moment.
· I suppose he’s right—Albi said to himself.
As he remained seated, he was left alone with the thing that burdened him the most: his thoughts. He kept thinking about his journey by the Master Sword, his first encounter with Ravio, how he took over his house to make it a shop, and how they ended up together after said event. He did not understand how he had fallen from hero to zero – as he often called it. He felt remorse for letting himself go and dwindle before times of need. So caught up inside his mind, Arrow’s return had gone unnoticed, and the calling of his name had made no way into his ears.
· Oh!—he jumped—I am… I am sorry.
· Don’t worry—said Arrow and joined his side—what’s wrong?
· Albi, listen. Don’t lie to me.
· I will be fine.
· I know that. The question here is, how long will that take if you keep suppressing your feelings?
He could not utter a word.
· C’mon—said Arrow as he unpacked some freshly roasted fish—I told someone to have this ready for us. It’s Porgy.
· It’s a big fish.
· Oh, I know. I can go through three of these in a single meal, but this time around I’ll just help you with this one. I don’t want you to feel pressured into eating it all under these circumstances.
· Thank you, Arrow.
They began to dig into the Roasted Porgy, a locally-caught fish. Arrow expected Albi to open up as they ate, but the boy remained as quiet as ever.
· So, how much did you use to eat before? You know, when you had to wield weapons—he tried to engage in conversation.
· Maybe two of these.
· Sure. My body was pretty much the same as Ravio’s.
· He doesn’t seem like the fighting type, though. How does he stay in shape?
· He carries goods with him, several at a time. He’s a traveling merchant. He walks long distances.
· I see now.
· Can I ask you a question?
Arrow was pleased by Albi’s baton taking.
· Do you have a girlfriend?
Arrow choked at the Porgy, then was interrupted by some coughing.
He pulled in a cracked-open palm fruit and sucked the water in rapidly.
· Are you okay?
· Yes—he replied within shorter coughing—I’m fine.
· You do not have to tell me.
· I’m fine. It was surprising, that’s all—he inhaled—no. I don’t.
· A boyfriend?
· No. Not that either.
· I do not believe you—Albi insisted.
· You are too charming not to be liked by people.
· Hey, you asked me if I was in a relationship, not if there were people asking me out.
· So there’s someone who likes you—he said eagerly.
· Maybe—Arrow looked away.
· Is it a boy or a girl?
· Um—he took a moment to think—I’d describe this someone more as a man.
· So he’s older?
· Uh, wow, umm… that’s a good question. I mean, he looks older.
· Do you like him?
· Hey, you said it was one question, not all of them! What’s gotten into you?—Arrow asked happily, yet puzzled.
· Fine. It’s just that you look adorable when embarrassed.
· Stop teasing me, sheesh!
· Your cheeks blush so much and your eyes look so big. How could I resist myself?
· Don’t say that!—he looked away.
· See? You are doing it right now.
· Just keep eating. I’m not helping you with this Porgy anymore. It’s all yours.
· What!? No! Arrow, I’m sorry.
· Ah—he sighed—I forgive you.
· I do have one more question.
· Where’s Ravio?
Arrow quickly noticed Albi’s mood change.
· I’m not sure. Would you like me to call him?
· Can you do that?
· Oh, I want to see him before the day is over. Do I look okay to you?
It was then when Ravio’s words echoed in Arrow’s mind. He recalled how Albi wanted to appear beautiful and perfected in his presence.
· Well, my clothes don’t fit you. Otherwise than that, you look fine to me.
· Oh, he’ll say something. I just know he will.
· Say something? I don’t think he’d say anything hurtful.
· No, he doesn’t do it with that intention, he just has a problem keeping his mouth shut.
· What do you mean?
· “Link, there’s a branch stuck in your hair! Is that a new look?” He doesn’t realize that some things are just odd to point out.
· Oh, now I see—he realized the need he had to look “perfect”—I assume it’s one of the things he hasn’t learned to do, to be a bit reserved.
· Ravio wouldn’t know what reserved is even if he got hit in the face with it.
· I understand. Would you like me to call him, then?
· Do it. He’s an idiot, but he’s my favorite idiot. And I love him because of that quirkiness. Just do not laugh.
· I’ll try not to.
Arrow pulled out the Sheikah Slate and scrolled sideways into a new feature given to him by Ravio. It displayed a purple bunny hood with a golden text that read “Call Ravio”. Quite simple. He stepped aside, away from Albi, and pressed the button on his screen. It only took a few seconds for Ravio to appear before him in the popular fashion of beacons of light. Before he could move or say a thing, Arrow confronted him.
· Don’t say anything about his clothes, his hair, or the fact that he smells of fish.
· Understood—replied Ravio, threatened.
Arrow allowed him back on his way towards Albi.
· Hey, buddy. Enjoying the view?—he sat cross-legged next to his Mr. Hero.
· I am.
· How are you doing?
· I feel better, Ravio. I’m still cold, though, and quite fragile.
· You’re making progress, and that’s what matters.
The silence between them became obvious.
· What’s wrong, Link?—asked Ravio.
· I’ve missed you. This is our first conversation in years without me being on the verge of death.
· That is true. And I missed you, too. You’ve become so important to me.
· I know I have. Thanks to Arrow, I finally understand how you have changed, and how you are able to feel for me now. When I realized you did not have a heart, I felt as if I had never meant anything to you, Ravio. How wrong I was.
· I can’t blame you. I didn’t know how I felt either. Everything was new to me.
· Where do we go from here, Ravio? What’s next for us?
· Whatever you wish, Link.
· That’s the problem. I have no idea.
· What do you mean?
· I accepted I was going to die. Now that I’m alive, I have nothing in mind. I erased every desire and all hope from within me, so now it’s hard for me to find a new path.
· So, if you were to return to Hyrule…
· I do not even like the thought of it. Besides profiting through my body, I don’t know how to make a living. It’s the only thing I know—he said as he finally broke down—why does every time we talk have to end with me crying?—he said within his sobbing.
· Because there are things that still hurt you, and I’m connected to the events around them—said Ravio as he wrapped his arms around Albi—don’t worry.
· I try, but these thoughts consume me.
· I understand how you feel guilty, Link. But trust me, it’s best to try to look at things differently. None of us can go back and change the course of things. I cannot go back and avoid giving that dreaded bracelet, nor can you return to stop yourself from the road you wrongly chose. All of it as brought us here, and I’m here to help you fix it, just as I was there to start it all.
· Thank you, Ravio.
· I love you, Link. Now more than ever—he said embracing the boy with more of his will.
For a moment, the world around disappeared for Albi. It was only him and Ravio, the warmth of his body and the kindness of his soul. He felt wanted, important, and loved. From the eternity of that hug sled that kiss they had promised each other that one time when their bodies were mismatched. Slowly, they finally allowed themselves apart.
· I’m so sorry, Ravio—said Albi covering his lips.
· I taste of fish, don’t I?
· Um… a little.
· How embarrassing!
· It’s not that bad, really. I don’t mind.
· Besides, I have tasted other parts of your body, and they—
· Ravio!—he shouted, pushing him into the water.
Arrow quickly ran to them. The one in the sea spat water as a couple of fish jumped over him in an attempt to get back into the deep.
· Hey, it’s Porgy—said Ravio as he stood up.
· Are you both fine?—asked Arrow.
· I’m okay—said Ravio.
· I am far too undignified to say anything—added Albi.
· You said something about the fish, Ravio?
· He said it first! I just told him that his body tastes—
· Whoa, whoa, whoa!—interrupted Arrow—Ravio, we don’t talk about people’s bodies in public, nor how they look, taste, or whatever.
· Oh. I see. Sorry, Link.
· You may have changed, but you’re still my clumsy bunny boy.
· I’m more than happy about that—said Ravio going back to his boys arms—what would you like us to do today?
· Oh, I’m not sure…
· Ahem—continued Arrow—why not take a walk by the shore? The weather’s great. I can book you two a reservation at the inn while you’re at it. I’m sure Albi needs a nap. The restoration machine is wet and uncomfortable.
· What do you say, Link?—asked Ravio.
· I’d be happy to.
· Then it’s settled—said Arrow—I’ll take back my tunic, thank you—he said as Albi gave him the robes—now, you two go ahead. I’ll be waiting at the inn. I’ll warm up the bed for you.
· Well, aren’t you funny?—said Albi.
· But first, finish that Porgy and the palm fruit water.
Continues in part 6
Written by Kim-SukLey