Chapter 1: mean
He looks to be his age, and in likeness of a mangy puppy that had fallen out of two—maybe three—trees, and god, Revali almost mistook him for one. Scruffy bangs hang loosely over his eyes and it's a damn miracle if the kid can even see past the color of his own hair (gold and auburn—like sunflowers and dirt), and he's coupled with a scrawny pair of limbs which layer onto and over the railing of his aunt's porch. His chin rests snugly in the cross of his arms, and, with his head in a tilt to the side like that, he takes the appearance of a monkey.
A freckly, puppy-eyed monkey.
Revali glares blankly at monkey-boy and takes note of the inappropriately out-of-season (and blatantly ugly) Christmas sweater he's wearing, already feeling uncomfortable enough with the ninety-something-degree heat that glued the backs of his legs to his uncle's favorite plastic lawn chair. The stare-down began out of the blue and rather uneventfully, and Revali considers closing his eyes again until it dawns on him that the kid likely had no plans to scurry away without a proper answer to his question.
"Who're you?" Revali counters, wincing and peeling his back from the stickiness of his seat. He half hopes that the boy wouldn't retort with "I asked you first", because he sure looks like the type to, and Revali isn't in the mood for mind games. At least, not for them to be happening to him.
And, to be frank, he doesn't care all too much about who the boy is, but he does care about why he was oh-so-rudely wakened from his nap and why in the world the kid owns a sweater that atrocious, and is wearing it in the middle of July.
"Link." He gives his name willingly, to Revali's surprise. A little all too willingly. As Link continues idly teetering back and forth on the concrete foundation of the porch, Revali is struck with the sudden urge to push him off. He doesn't.
Revali only blows air from his mouth, wondering why just looking at this boy irritated him. "Dumb name."
The Link kid snorts, giving an eyeroll that could pass with a length of a thousand miles. "Your turn."
"So, Uh-Revali, you move here recently?" Link flashes a smile that's all shark, one that's half-hidden behind the sleeves of his atrociously poofy sweater.
Revali, in response, shakes his head. Why did Link have to ask so many questions? "It's just Revali, and no, I'm only here for summer archery camp." He leans back into his seat effortlessly, looking Link up and down (his eyes lit up when he mentioned the camp—Revali decides to gamble and assume he'd see him there), calculating.
"Oh, you mean downtown? I'm attending—"
"—so maybe I can see you there."
"Don't push your luck trying to get friendly with me," Revali shoots a toxic look at Link, who doesn't flinch, "I'm already positive that I'm the best student attending. I don't need anyone trying to be buddy-buddy with me."
If Link was impressed by the self-imposed boast or disappointed that Revali's trying to shoo him away, he doesn't show it. Instead, Revali watches as Link's eyes flick to him, the lawn chair, then back to him, before asking, "So the heat's enough to keep Mister Best Archer stuck on his porch?"
It's an innocent enough question, to which Revali shakes his head, again, annoyed that Link's still standing there. "You're acting like you aren't getting cooked alive in that stupid thing you're wearing," he points out bitterly with narrowed eyes.
Face screwing into something like a frown, Link unwinds himself from the porch rail (with a shocking display of speed) and lands cleanly on the green of the lawn.
"It's the thought that counts."
"Yeah." He pulls idly at the hem of his attire with a dangerously red face (by fault of the sun, embarrassment, or both), and looks down at the cherry-cheeked Santa Claus that covered his torso. "If I think of Santa all year, I gotta be on the nice list."
Revali's silent before he breaks out into something akin to laughter and a scoff. In all twelve sullen years of his life, not once did he meet someone so close in age to him that was such... such a baby. "You do know that Santa isn't real, right?" he chokes out, seeing Link confused by his amusement. A smirk quickly grows on his face, and remains plastered there like a layer of suncream.
Link's mouth is in the shape of a small 'o'. Furrowing his brows and twisting the lower half of his sweater so that it resembles something like a big green and red Twizzler, he inquires, "Says who?"
"Says everyone," comes the eager response; Revali takes odd satisfaction in watching Link contemplate the weight of his words. "Moms 'n' dads are the ones that leave the presents and eat the cookies. You're such a kid."
Link doesn't say anything for a long while; he's too occupied with staring down at smiling ol' Saint Nick, his muddied shoes (Revali think's they're heelies—how did Link balance so easily on his porch with those?), or the grass—maybe all three—and when he looks up, Revali can tell he's on the verge of tears.
"You're mean." Link wipes at his eyes before turning heel, and Revali gazes at his quiet, retreating figure until he makes a corner and the sunflower-and-dirt hair is gone.
Revali supposes he's mean now, as he closes his eyes and feels his chest rise and fall.
Chapter 2: clueless
He's not exactly sure what he expected when he met the mayor's daughter.
She's a girl that looks like she was attacked by a professional hair stylist and an 80's wardrobe, which isn't inherently a bad or distasteful thing—Revali finds the way her hair (why is it so bright?) spills down her spine and frilly unicorn tank-top to be very... elegant, for lack of a better word. Loud, but elegant. Her personality, however, is highly contradictory to her very delicate and feminine appearance; yes, behind the sparkling magenta of her chipped nail polish and the strawberry-shaped hair barrette, she is anything but soft and sweet and—
"Revali, are you even listening to me?"
The blunt end of a glitter pen meets his forehead in a rather undignified and completely unwanted manner, which forces Revali out of his reverie prematurely. Indignantly, he half-glares at his assigned tutor with his cheek cupped in one hand, and the wrapper of a fruit-by-the-foot in the other. So much for enjoying a fifteen minute break from schoolwork.
"What?" he asks around a mouthful of artificially flavored sugar mush with more force than intended, which prompts the librarian from across the room to utter a harsh "shhh!". Revali shrinks into himself, watching the librarian continue her work of intricately placing books back on their intended shelves.
"I need you to check out these books for me." Zelda hums, whittling the bottom of her lip with a row of perfectly white teeth as she practically dumps six or seven hardcover books onto the table. When Revali looks at her with confusion, she rolls her eyes and adds, "I forgot my library card at home. I promise I owe you."
Revali sighs, chews the rest of his candy, then compliantly digs into the confines of his jacket pocket to fish out the poorly laminated card before pushing his seat back and assessing just what she was checking out (he catches a literary novel, maybe for writing class, with something about a "chocolate web"—or whatever). He had figured she was more of the princess-y fairy-tales type, but as it turns out, half of the selections were thick textbooks on amphibians. Frogs are gross, he thinks before looking up. "All of these?"
Zelda bats her eyelashes sweetly. "If you don't mind?"
He feels her eyes on him as he reluctantly takes two books (both of them not about frogs), pushes in his chair, and turns to make his way to the front desk for checkout.
Zelda is squinting, judgmental, and Revali hears the click of her tongue, which sounds like a worn nutcracker. "Huh. I figured you could lift a little more than that. Or are you not as strong as you boast you are?"
Her taunt works its magic as Revali decides to take all seven books into his calloused fourteen-year-old hands, having to request Zelda to place them in a towering stack for him to carry.
Light on his feet, he takes extra care in making sure he doesn't carelessly trip over chair legs or stray backpacks (thank goodness for the kids who remember to push in their seats).
And the next thing he knows, he's on the ground, head pulsing, the seven books laying scattered every which way. Lifting his head, he sees three things of interest: one of those rolling carts that hold books (figures; no wonder his head hurts), the front desk, and a head of sunflower-and-dirt hair with a pair of hands that're moving very quickly in a blurry motion.
Revali immediately snaps out of his daze and scrambles to collect all of Zelda's books, fearing confrontation or small talk. Especially the latter.
When he reaches for "Charlotte's Web" (that's what it was), his hand grazes that of whom he'd bumped into—or who had bumped into him (it was milky in comparison to the brown complexion of his own skin tone, a contrast that he noticed fast), and, for a moment, Revali could feel his heart stop and crawl into his throat.
"That one's a good read," Link says, voice cracking with dust like he hadn't spoken in ages. Revali can't help but notice the smiling Spongebob bandaid fixed on the bridge of his nose and wonders about the story behind it. Link, who was bursting with light the first time they met, isn't is as bright as his bandaid. That's the second thing he notices. And within a moment of strangeness, Revali wonders if their first meeting had that much of an impact on monkey-boy.
All in all, Link's the one that makes the first move; he hands the book back to Revali, who hesitantly takes it without a word, and he eyes the rest of the selections that the other had been gathering. "I didn't figure you were one for reading about frogs." His hands are moving again, in tandem with his voice. If Revali wasn't mistaken, Link could've been jamming on bongos from the fifth dimension.
"Frogs are gross," Revali blurts, hiding a scoff for Link's remark. "And what are you doing?"
"Your hands. You keep moving them. Are you swatting at an invisible bug or something?"
Link stares, incredulous. "It's..." He hesitates, and blinks. "It's nothing. Just habitual." The last of the seven discarded novels is given to Revali, the one whose title is in some sort of crazy lettering (Revali figures it's in a foreign language), and Link dusts himself off when he stands. "Just don't mind it." Not-so-strangely enough, his hands are no longer in motion, and a pang of guilt hits Revali.
Only briefly, though. For a split second. Because Revali doesn't go around feeling guilty.
Revali goes around kicking heel and telling twelve-year-olds that Santa Claus isn't real.
"You gonna check out or what?" Link's voice is a beacon out of the confines of his mind, and Revali snaps to in response to the question.
"... You work here?"
Link shakes his head. "More or less, but not really. It's volunteer-esque; I don't have anything better to do. No pay, but I get to keep old blockbuster movies from the storage." Revali watches as Link pushes the red book-cart aside to escort himself behind the counter. This whole thing looks... official.
When Revali doesn't move, Link gently taps the granite counter with his left hand. "C'mon, books on here."
The stack is placed down with the utmost of care and Revali slides his library card towards Link, who takes it without hesitation. Settling around them is an atmosphere of quietude, and the silence is deafening; it makes Revali's head throb. Maybe he got a bruise from colliding into the cart. Maybe it's the shock of meeting Link in a public library.
"Summer, he says suddenly as the aforementioned boy punches in some keys at the computer. That's right, he figured Link lived where his aunt and uncle were—why was he here?
This proclamation prompts Link to look up. "What?"
"Right, Mister Best Archer."
Revali winces at the nickname. "You were twelve."
"Yeah," Link says around the soft beeping of a barcode scanner, following up with a blunt "and you were a jerk" when he goes back to his work, which makes the conversation turn for the worse and away from Revali's initial point.
And if looks could kill, Revali would be dying slowly from the poisonous way Link nonchalantly handled the books, looking like he was ripping heads off. Quietly and solemnly... ripping heads off. That being said, he does look more sad than annoyed as he hands back a piece of shiny cardboard—
... No wait, that's just the library card. Revali practically swipes it back. "If you think I'm going to apologize, prepare to be massively disappointed," he retorts, shoving the card back into his pocket.
Link looks unfazed as he finishes the last few of the batch efficiently, as if it were second nature by now. "I didn't and don't expect an apology," he answers as he pushes the finished stack of books towards his client. Something about the way he did that seemed... off-putting. "It's all in the past, y'know? And I needed a wake-up call."
When Link says that, Revali forgets to breathe. "Don't think we're even close to being friends."
"Figured that from the start."
With Revali back at home-base—the table, that is—he takes plenty of liberty in sighing deeply and sullenly while Zelda sifts through her books and spares a curious glance. "Oh, stop whining Revali."
"I'm not whining," he objects, which cues a string of bubbly laughter from the girl.
"Don't tell me Link upset you." She cocks a brow knowingly. "And I didn't know you knew him."
These statements take Revali by surprise until he remembers that she probably knows everyone in town. Oh, the perks of public image.
"Regrettably," he replies, chewing at the inside of his cheek. "From summer camp two years ago. He was annoying me and wore an ugly sweater."
"A sweater? In summer?"
"Yeah." And that's it. And that's it, he convinces himself. "On a side note, his archery sucks too."
Zelda willfully ignores his disguised boast, smiles, and is clearly amused (either by the way Revali was sulking or by the charming frog on the book she decided to start) while digging her knapsack from under the table with her foot to place the excess of her selections in it. "And he was talking to you? You guys must be close."
At this, Revali stares. "Is that sarcasm? A joke?" he asks eventually with an exaggerated accent that's more or less Shakespearean in nature, getting bored of watching his partner sample reads from the piece of literature she held. "You jest."
"Not at all." Easily does she mimic his one, but the only difference is that she couples her sentence with a premonition of giggles. Then her head raises suddenly and that scares Revali, who wasn't expecting so much excess movement. Is she always so easy to distract? "He's shy." She blinks twice before adding, "It took a while for me to get through to him when he moved here."
Ah, so that's why he was here.
Zelda blows some stray hairs out of her face and puffs her cheeks, reminding Revali of a hamster. "You ask so many questions," she chides while absentmindedly turning a page of her book. "But he moved here a few weeks ago. It's been pretty hard for him to make friends because practically no one here can understand him."
"Yeah, I figured. He's got some mad hand movement going on. What's up with that?"
"Revali, it's sign language." She bites her lip and sets her book down. "He's mute; selectively, that is. Y'know, his parents died in some freak accident when he was little, and he's been bullied a lot since he came here for being stuck in foster care. I dunno about you, but he's got a lot on his mind. He told me once that it's easier for him to just stop expressing himself to cope."
Revali sideglances away and rolls his shoulders to stave off tension that began accumulating there because of his immobility. It didn't rid of the tension in the atmosphere, though. Or in his mind. He thinks back to summer suddenly, and moms and dads putting gifts under the tree.
Silence radiates from him once his mild confusion gives way to ample understanding, and Zelda (exasperated) presses a hand to her forehead. Revali can't tell if she's going to punch him in the face or settle for a kick to his nether regions (he already knows he's as dead as a doornail either way), so he scoots his chair backwards when her eyes lock onto his (he takes note of how green they are; they're so different from Link's).
"Revali, you're so clueless," is what she mutters under her breath, in a tone he's never heard her use before.
That alone prompts Revali to rise from his seat for a final time as he burns with a feeling between embarrassment and pity.
He figures he's clueless now, right as he gets up and waltzes past the librarian and sifts through hundreds of authors before he plucks a book with a neon green cover and wacky comic sans font. He supposes he's clueless when he saunters over to the checkout desk again.
When he slides the one last book over the counter and chucks his hand into his jacket to hook out his library card, he knows he's clueless as "ASL For Dummies" on its front cover and the blue of Link's widening and surprised eyes burn into the back of his mind.