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Revali doesn't quite know how any of this nonsense started - or so he likes to tell himself. Often.

It's far easier to blame Link for everything. Link is quiet a vast majority of the time, even when he's being insulted, and honestly, who wouldn't find that infuriating? Link isn't a paragon among Hylians, he hasn't spent years developing a signature technique while already in possession of a natural aptitude with, say, a bow - but he has a special sword, which clearly sets him apart from all others. (Revali willfully ignores the idea that only one specific individual is capable of wielding that sword, a feat in and of itself.) Not to mention he has about as much personality as a very old tree stump left to rot. It should be laughably simple to outshine him.

It should be.

So of course, of course Link took up permanent residence within Revali's axis - such is the nature of rivalries, and if it weren't for Link, the rivalry wouldn't exist in the first place.

(Except Link neither embraced nor encouraged it. He never sought to prove himself the better Champion or the better person. He was merely a knight who'd been given the responsibility of protecting the princess, to remain at her side as her bulwark, her shield. Whatever strength or skill he did possess, he gave it in service to her; she was his primary motivation, always.

Revali envied him that. He hated him, and envied him -

And wanted him. Wanted his attention, wanted his acknowledgment, wanted to present a viable reason for him to speak. It nearly burned Revali up, the wanting. It made him angry. It made him desperate. It made him waste too many arrows night after night at the flight range or perched high above the village on one of Medoh's wings.

It made him wish he had lips in place of a beak, if only to crush them against Link's and burn them both to cinders.)

Revali doesn't quite know how any of this nonsense started (he insists), but he does know the world has taken an abrupt turn toward the alarmingly surreal.

"Link," he says, his voice an unrecognizable, strangled half-whisper. "I knew you were a fool the moment I had the misfortune of meeting you, but this is - surely even you can't be so ignorant - "

Link opens his eyes. (They're blue, they're so blue, why hadn't Revali ever noticed how blue they are?) "I'm not," he says, his own voice soft, with the slightest hint of gravel underneath - from disuse, Revali imagines. "I know what it means." And he rubs the tip of his nose against Revali's beak, up and down and up again while Revali tries and fails to keep from shuddering. "But if you want me to stop, I'll - "

"Don't - " Revali tightens his hold around Link's waist (when did that happen?), cursing himself for how badly he's mangled this entire ridiculous scenario thus far. What is he, some tongue-tied fledgling caught in the throes of a silly little infatuation? "Don't think for a second I would hesitate to toss you out the window and straight into the ravine if I - if I objected," he rallies, just as Link shifts in his lap, the expression on his awful, terrible Hylian face sending a clear message that he knows exactly what he's doing.

Revali is going to kill him. Or fling himself into the ravine.

"I'm glad you don't object, then," Link says, dryly, his nose a gentle ghost upon Revali's beak. "It's a long way down."And he shifts again.

Correction, Revali is going to fling them both into the ravine.

He relays as much, through a series of dignified, sharply in-drawn breaths. At the very least, his feathers hide how flushed he is, thank the Goddess. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the portion of his anatomy Link seems all too happy to manipulate, that sneaky, conniving -

"I like this." Link's eyes (his impossibly blue eyes), are closed, and he all but cradles Revali's head between his hands.

And Revali thinks, I am in serious peril.

"What, pray tell," he grates out, rapidly losing focus.

"The way you kiss," Link says, smiling. "The way Rito kiss. It's nice."

Serious. Peril.

"There's - well, you don't have a beak, so this is a mere approximation of - " He's babbling. He's babbling, and Link is in his house (thank the Goddess yet again that he lives on the outskirts of the village), and Link is in his lap, and Link is - Link is everywhere, all the time, and Revali will never escape from him, will never be free of him. He draws back, and it's harder to do than it should be. "Why are you here?" Ah, there's the anger. "Another feather in your cap, perhaps? My feathers are exceptional, you realize, they'll make a fine trophy. Or maybe your intent was to exploit my weakness and congratulate yourself on a job well done after you leave. Oh, bravo, Link - "

The last thing he expects, the thing that makes whatever else he meant to say dry up in his throat, is the shattered look Link gives him in return.

"Do you really think so little of me?"

For perhaps the first time, Revali is the silent one while Link presses on ahead in that soft, gravelly way of his. (A revelation, as it were, that he has a way at all.)

"I don't talk much, to anyone. I - " He pauses, chews on his bottom lip, then shakes his head. "And no, I don't take the bait when you snipe at me, I don't let you rile me up, but that doesn't mean - that doesn't mean I think I'm better than you, that I'm above you." His fingertips dig into Revali's feathers, like he's anchoring himself, and his face is so open, so honest, so vulnerable it almost hurts to look at him. "I'm here because I want to be," he whispers. "I'm here because I wanted to know what it felt like to do something selfish."

Revali feels dizzy. There's not enough air. There's not enough space. "Selfish?"

"I am what I am. I know my role. The princess...I would bear any burden for her, gladly, no matter how large or how small. I only wish I could do more, but my sword - " Link sighs, his expression pained. "My sword is all I have to offer her." And just like that, without any warning, Link's hands fall to his sides, his face closed off behind the neutral mask he always wears. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Revali. I'll go - "

"No," Revali hisses, a visceral reaction he can't spare the time to think about. His grip on Link is even tighter than before, pressing him closer, if possible. "Don't you dare run away, you - I hate you - "

They strive against each other, and there's nothing pretty about it, nothing gentle, nothing kind. It's raw and it's primal, a means to an end. Revali isn't mindful of the sharp point of his beak and Link isn't mindful of the strength of his grip and neither are mindful of the noise or their clothes or the consequences of bad decisions.

And when they fly over the edge, one after the other, both panting and dazed and worse for wear, Revali thinks, I'm only ash.