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The incoherent murmur in the club settles down as Link reappears on stage. His faithful fans all crowd the tables at the edge, hoping for a glance or graze of a hand. The spotlights aimed Link’s way bounce twinkling spots of light off his dress, making stars shine on the surfaces near him. It's a simple dress this time, starting out as white up by his collarbones before a touch of blue bleeds down the length until it's nearly black at his feet. He's changed his hair since the last song, now with his locks tied up high on the back of his head to leave the ends tickling his neck. The men practically arching out of their chairs quiet rapidly as he speaks and laughs with the old man sitting at the piano. Their words do not reach the men, but they're not here for sweet nothings. At least, not sweet nothings aimed at anyone but them. He hasn't even begun to sing, and yet he has them. He has all but two, rather.

From a table in the center of the room, a single police officer sits with his drink and his hat on the table by his hands. He's already let his red hair down, refuses to cut it like his fellows. When it's down, it reminds Link of his sweetheart, but he makes a face at that. Their similarities are immaterial. They're nothing alike, the police officer not his type. Not that that stops the man. This isn't his first time here, won't be his last, and Link has come to consider that table the officer’s table. He's here every night, or nearly. Link’s stomach twists when he looks out to find the man.

What flowers or other gifts has he brought this time? What sugary things will he say when he appears in Link’s dressing room after his last song? Despite Link’s cold shouldering, the officer tips his head a little when they catch each other’s eyes over the ravenous men up front. It's the same as every night, as if Link brushing him off means nothing. He's harmless, if a little persistent. Link won't look at him for long, not while another pair of eyes from the other side of the club monitors everything. And besides, Link would much rather stare at that one, the proprietor of the club.

How long is the history between himself and Ganon? Outsiders might not think much of it, the way Ganon bosses him around and barks orders at him. How wrong they would be. He's known Ganon before the strands of white appeared in his thick hair, before his beard gained the same. Link is perhaps the only one who knows how Ganon likes his eggs, the only one who knows why he prefers cats to dogs. Link bites back a little smile while eyeing his boss, his long-time sweetheart. He's particularly grumpy tonight, dark scowl screwing up his pretty lips and brewing up a storm cloud over his brow. Link wants to step around all these animals in suits and unknot Ganon’s crossed arms over his chest. He'd been fowl and hot headed earlier…

As Link steps up to the front of the stage, he wonders what's happened, what has Ganon not told him about. It isn't like them to keep secrets from each other. Link’s fake smile for the crowd slips a little the longer he stares at Ganon. They can't have that, though, and Ganon’s stern expression lightens a bit. Everything is okay, for now. Ganon’s gentler expression reassures Link of that. Link will get the truth out of him later. Later in his office, maybe in Ganon’s leather chair or on his mahogany desk…

Shivering and with a true blush brightening his cheeks, Link shoots his plastic smile to the crowd and says, “Hello everyone. Did you miss me?”

The club is small enough for everyone to hear him without a microphone. The audience cheers a little, a few men whistle. In the shadows of the club, Ganon smirks at him. Dead center in the club, Link’s police officer smiles sweetly and sighs in his chair.

“Oh, I missed you, too,” he giggles. Might as well play on their desires. Link reaches up to pat his hair pinned into place, showing off his arms. “It just takes so long to look this good. Do you like it?”

Again, the hungry men before him give their rambunctious approval.

Link jumps a little just to scatter the necklace looped twice around his neck. The sparkle of it attracts their eyes. He has them, now.

“I knew you would! Anyway, enough of that. This next song is a little angry, but I promise it's not about anyone here tonight, okay? You're all great and so sweet.”

Link hums and chuckles at a few men calling out compliments, a few asking for a kiss. He's never performed this song before, but he bets they'll love it. It's him, after all. Plus, they always like it when he weaves his way between the tables and interacts with them. Hopefully they won't pick up on how his frustration is angled towards them. He doubts it.

The piano starts up, happy and bouncy like at a saloon, and Link bobs a bit to the keys pounding. His friend behind a drum kit and the other with a trumpet in his hands will chime in eventually, too. But for now, it's just him and the piano.

“Listen to me, honey dear,” he begins softly, “something’s wrong with you I fear. It's getting hard to please you. Harder and harder each year!”

He pouts at the audience while lowering himself slowly to the floor. He has to make sure his dress stays down. Wouldn't want to give them too much of a show.

“I don't wanna make you blue. But you need a talking to. Like a lot of people I know, here's what's wrong with you.”

Link smirks full of teeth to the crowd as they get a little rowdy. The ones piling themselves near his legs, around his feet howl like dogs. When a hand or two caresses his ankle, he kicks them.

“After you get what you want, you don't want it.” Link leans into the crowd pawing for him, turning his head just so to show off his pale neck. “If I gave you the moon, you'd grow tired of it soon. You're like a baby”—Link smiles and tickles his fingers under the chin of the man closest to him—”you want what you want when you want it.” Palm flat in his face, Link shoves the man away. “But when you are presented with what you want you're discontented.”

Link pops back up from the floor and bobs his hips to the music, strolling up and down the edge near the men crooning for him. They get a nice peek of the dress hugging his ass, but not much else.

“You're always wishing and wanting for something. When you get what you want, you don't want what you get.”

Link makes his way towards the drummer as he sings and plops down on the man’s knee to sing to him, “And though I sit upon your knee… You'll grow tired of me, cuz after you get what you want, you don't want what you wanted at all!”

He stands the moment the drummer needs use of his foot to play. All three of them join in, although the trumpet sings loud and true above the crowd. During the break in his singing, Link weaves through the crowd. Wandering hands reaching for his hips or ass are quickly smacked away, but it's all in good fun. They try just to try, out of sport. They all know better than to attempt anything serious. Not with Ganon still lurking in the background, watching them. Link avoids the officer’s table, not wanting to give him an inch. The man will take it as a sign of favor, and Link doesn't want another admirer. He'll show up in Link’s dressing room at the end of the night regardless. Link only gives him a little smile from three tables away. The trumpet and drums winding down signals to Link that it's his turn to chime back in and finish the song. He hovers behind a drunk man and sings sweetly in his ear, free hand petting his shoulder.

“Don't you say that I'm unkind! Think it over and you'll find: you've got a changeable nature.” Link throws his hands in the air out of true frustration with the crowd, angling his feelings towards their oblivious faces. “You're always changing your mind! There's a longing in your eyes, that is hard to satisfy.” He stomps around, stopping at the table next to the officer. Arm around one of the men sitting there, Link leans into him and sings, “You're unhappy most of the time. Here's the reason why.”

“After you get what you want, you don't want it!” He leans over to the next man and purrs, “If I gave you the moon… you'd grow tired of it soon.” He turns to the last, the closest to the officer, and sits on the man’s thighs. “And though I sit upon your knee…” Link smirks at the man during the rest before shoving himself back to his feet, almost knocking the patron to the floor. “You'll grow tired of me, cuz after you get what you want, you don't want what you wanted at all!”

Link ends the song with his head tipped back and an arm lifted high in the air. The men don't wait for the song to end before they start cheering and clapping, making a ruckus loud enough to shake the walls. Link makes his way back to the stage before anyone gets any ideas. Ganon doesn't like him walking around the tables while he sings, but what's the fun in staying up on the stage? Once he's there, a few throw flowers at him, napkins with their phone numbers scribbled on it. It'll all go in the trash, like it does every night. Link carefully pats sweat off his forehead, not wanting to smudge his makeup, and calms down in order to start the next song. The band behind him will fill in as he gets ready.

It's well past the witching hour when Link finds himself sitting in a dressing room, wiping makeup off his face. Eager to step out of his third dress of the night, he now sits in a pair of thin, cotton pants and a white t-shirt. His hair is still piled on top of his head. The door behind him is open to the hallway, allowing cool air to blow across his neck. His dressing room is more like two closets smashed together. Because that's what they’d done when renovating the building, just busted down the wall between two closets. Link doesn't mind. The space is small, and he makes use of every nook and cranny. What takes up the most space is the vanity with all his makeup and accessory pieces of his costumes in the drawers. He even keeps some costume jewelry here. All the expensive, real pieces are in his apartment. Or Ganon’s. Not that he usually goes home to his.

Lately, though, Ganon has been out or staying late. During these increasing instances, Link goes home lonely and in a huff. He remembers when he and Ganon would be together every night. None of this “yours or mine” business. Link blinks at himself in the mirror, half his face clean, and hopes Ganon will come home with him tonight. Sighing, Link glances away from his reflection long enough to stare at the earrings lying on the polished vanity top. They're real emeralds. Ganon had bought them for him years ago. They'll be in their rightful place soon enough. Once he's done cleaning up in here.

When Link lifts his head to clean the other side of his face, he finds the reflection of the police officer watching him from the hallway.

The thunk of Link’s knees slamming into the underside of his vanity is pleasant to no one. Somehow, he holds in the yelp that wants to accompany his little jump. The officer’s soft smile breaks as he takes a step forward, free hand reaching out to steady Link on his squat stool. Link clutches at the vanity top with one hand while waving the concerned officer away. It doesn’t escape Link’s notice that the man keeps one hand behind his back. Flowers or chocolates this time?

“I’m terribly sorry, Link. I didn't mean to scare you.”

He says it with a little laugh, but also with a genuine glow in his eyes. Link just waves it all away.

“It's okay. I didn't see you walk up, Officer Ruta.”

He straightens quickly, like someone has snapped their fingers for his attention, and whips his hat back off to hold it over his heart.

“Sidon. If you please, my dearest friend.”

Link returns the dashing smile Officer Ruta gives him as best he can. It's been a long night, his voice is tired, and he knows he'll be sleeping alone tonight. He hasn’t seen Ganon since he’d performed a song before midnight. If Officer Ruta has found him first, Ganon probably won’t come home tonight. Too many annoyances and disappointments add up too quickly. Link’s patience is… Thin is perhaps too generous a word for it. But Link won't give the friendly man his back again. His left hand is still behind him.

“What um… what can I do for you, sir?”

Officer Ruta is too busy watching Link to hear him. He startles a bit on his feet when Link’s lips thin into a line.

“Oh, I'm sorry. It’s uhhh, been a long night. Lost in thought.” He laughs a bit and restores his hat. At the same time, his left arm swings around to reveal a bouquet of sunflowers. “For you. Whenever I see them, they remind me of you. Very bright and… beautiful.”

He says so with a shy smile, a little blush in his brown cheeks. Link’s smile is a tired one, but he smiles anyway. Setting aside the wet wipe half-covered in makeup, Link takes the flowers from Officer Ruta. They are lovely, if a bit cold from sitting in his patrol car all night. They keep better that way, Link supposes. Plus, if Ruta had brought them inside, Link would have seen them. They would smell like cigarette smoke, too, which Link already has a headache from. Link glances over his shoulder, considers laying the bouquet down, and then immediately reconsiders it. Holding them in his arms might prevent Officer Ruta from holding his hand or trying to kiss the back of it. He… doesn’t have the patience or will to humor such an act right now.

“Thank you,” Link says softly. His voice is too tired for this right now. “They’re lovely. I’ll mmm… make sure to put them in some water when I get home.”

Officer Ruta hops on his feet, face glowing with a smile, and offers, “I’ll walk you to the car when you’re finished here. I worried about you last time, Link, please let me escort you outside?”

Besides Ganon’s penthouse downtown, this is perhaps the safest place for him. Officer Ruta wouldn’t know that, so Link keeps the tiny smile on his face. His face hurts, he’s so tired. Officer Ruta might worry about him if he lets the smile rest, though. He doesn’t exactly have the most welcoming resting face, he’s been told. So, Link nods a little and then reconsiders the issue with the flowers. He’d rather not lay them on the vanity, because he’s still using it. Officer Ruta closes the small space between them with a step and holds his hand out, willing to take the flowers back for a moment. The corners of Link’s lips tick up briefly in thanks. Link is thankful, so very thankful, that he hadn’t sat around in a pair of underwear like he normally does. That would be too much for him right now. Link turns to face the mirror again and catches Officer Ruta digging in the front pocket of his heavy coat. Flowers cradled in an arm, he pulls out a small box from his breast pocket and smiles at Link’s reflection.

“I almost forgot about this.” Officer Ruta holds the box out with his left hand, bending around Link’s body. “I hope you like it. I was cleaning up some things and found it and well… It suits you better than me.”

At first, Link doesn’t reach to take the box. It must have some piece of jewelry in it. The box is black and soft, like it’s covered in velvet. It’s thin enough to be a jewelry box. Link glances up the length of Officer Ruta’s arm. The man meets his gaze immediately and jerks his hand a little closer to Link. There’s nothing else to be done, so Link takes the box. It’s easy to refuse the gifts of the other men who pine for him. Usually because Ganon is there, burning a hole into them with his glare. Ruta and Ganon almost never cross paths. Link would be suspicious if not for the officer’s cheerful personality and his general air of friendliness. He screams “harmless” even with the pistol and baton at his hip. Link’s stomach twists itself in knots over this. He just hopes maybe this is a joke or there’s nothing in here…

The smell that rises from the velvet-lined box informs Link that this is in fact not a joke. Only old silver smells like this, silver that has been passed around for ages. It’s bright in the back of his throat like citrus. And then the tarnish comes in and smells like burnt dust. The pendant is tarnished a bit where it touches itself, space too small to get at with a brush. Silver curls around three sapphires, and Link doubts they’re fake or anything but genuine sapphires. The piece is too intricate to be something Officer Ruta had just picked up randomly. Link believes him when he’d said he found it while going through his things. Is it a family heirloom? Perhaps something with heavy meaning attached to it? Memories? Link had scooped the pendant up to get a better look at it, but now he sets it down in fear of dropping it. His hand shakes as he does so.

“Officer Ruta, I can’t—”

“Sidon.”

Link purses his lips for a split second to wrangle back his frustration.

“Sidon… I can’t take this. This has to be something important to you. It’s beautiful, and it must be very old. Please, I can’t—”

“You absolutely can,” Officer Ruta insists.

The sunflowers end up on Link’s vanity, just like he hadn’t wanted, so that Officer Ruta can free his hands. He picks the necklace up by the thin, silver chain. His nails are short, but not so short that he cannot thumb the clasp open. Link curls a hand around the back of his own neck to halt the officer’s approach. Ruta shoots him a pitiful look, almost pouting. Up this close, his eyes are like a gold bar gleaming in the sun. Link holds in a sigh and drops his hand. Humoring Officer Ruta at this point won’t do any harm. He can take the necklace off when he gets home and then never think about it or look at it again. The guilt over accepting such a thing will tear him apart otherwise. Link doesn’t respond to Officer Ruta’s blinding smile returning to his handsome face. He just sits still with his shoulders down and back while the man swings the pendant around and shuts the clasp over a ring in the other end. When he releases it, the pendant rests on Link’s collarbones.

“Oh Link,” Officer Ruta breathes behind him. His hands settle on the shelf of Link’s shoulders, and Link doesn’t bother to shrug him off. “It looks even better on you than I could imagine. Please say you’ll keep it. That you’ll wear it. I want you to, it’s perfect on you.”

The pendant is comfortable to wear. Light and well made. Somehow, it feels like ten pounds dragging him down. Link swallows hard, realizes Officer Ruta probably won’t like it if he takes the necklace off, and tucks it under his t-shirt. Officer Ruta takes a step back and even removes his hands. He says nothing about Link hiding the necklace under his shirt, but he does continue to smile at their reflections in the mirror. Link’s eyes flinch towards the open door just behind Ruta. Can he will Ganon, someone, anyone to walk by? He’s never been alone with Officer Ruta this long, and the longer this drags on, the heavier the nerves in Link’s stomach become. It’s a ridiculous sort of fear. Nothing can happen to him here. Not within Ganon’s circle of control. Link takes a deep breath and turns to regard Ruta in person rather than with their reflections.

“I will, um…” He gestures to his face with a twirl of a finger. “I have to clean up a bit, but I should be ready in a few minutes. A car will be ready for me out front like always.”

Link again glances to the doorway. How does he dismiss the officer? Would Ruta leave if asked?

Link nods to the doorway and mumbles, “You can probably sit at the bar while you wait. I won’t be long.”

Officer Ruta shrugs and leans against the doorway instead, hands in his coat pockets.

“I don’t mind waiting here. I’ll keep you company.”

Link’s smile finally fails him. His pretty lips are in a straight line, trending down a bit, when he nods. Officer Ruta opens his mouth to say something else, but Link turns back around to face his vanity. The wet wipe he’d used earlier is a bit too dry, now, so he snags a fresh one from the pack. Holding his hair back with one hand, Link wipes at the other side of his face to clean it. He keeps his eyes down, looks only at himself. If Officer Ruta stares at him the entire time, Link won’t face that. He won’t squirm or fuss. He performs nearly every night to a crowd of more than fifty people. Just one shouldn’t frazzle his nerves so much. As Link cleans eyeshadow from his thin, delicate lids, he chastises himself. Officer Ruta is harmless. He’s also not stupid enough to do anything in the club. He might not be aware of Ganon’s clout, but he’s not stupid. Link sucks in a slow, deep breath. Officer Ruta is just… lonely. Friendly. Link must be his type. It’s harmless.

“I’m sorry,” Link begins softly, “if I seem quiet or upset. I’m very tired.”

Ruta shifts behind him, but doesn’t draw closer.

“Don’t apologize, my friend. You work so hard to entertain so many. Of course you’re tired. Exhausted, even.”

Link nods a few times while tossing the second wet wipe in the trash. Falling asleep right now doesn’t sound so bad, if it weren’t for his… guest. He has fallen asleep in the club before. Link smiles a little as he picks the emerald earrings up to return them to his lobes. Ganon had found him asleep on the piano bench. He’d been fooling around, pressing the keys and trying to make music. It’s more difficult than it appears. But he’d wanted to wait for his sweetheart, so he’d leaned over and fallen asleep. What had woken him was the slow sway of Ganon walking with him in his arms. Knowing he was safe, Link had fallen back asleep and woke later in Ganon’s bed, the man pressed tightly along his back. Remembering that time, though, just sucks all the happiness out of Link. He’ll be alone tonight. He won’t have Ganon’s warm, heavy body behind him or around him.

Link stands and throws his coat on without looking up at Officer Ruta. The light in his closet dressing room turns off with a flick of a switch. Ruta dives behind Link long enough to retrieve the flowers he’d brought. The tiny smile that ticks up the corners of Link’s lips is as fake and plastic as the one he’d used on the crowd earlier. Luckily, it doesn’t take them long to reach the front of the club. Insides a mess, Link glances around and strains his ears to figure out if Ganon is still here. He wants to plead his case—to beg Ganon come home now. He doesn’t want to be alone tonight, to return to his small apartment and fall asleep in the dark. Link turns on the heel of his tennis shoe and holds out the sunflowers to Officer Ruta. The man just shoots him a curious look.

“I need to do something before I leave. Will you wait here?”

Link barely waits for Officer Ruta to blurt out, “Yes, but—” before he’s off.

He runs into Ganon while walking down the hallway that leads back to his dressing room. Ganon glances up from some papers in his hand, reading glasses perched on his nose. He looks just as tired as Link feels, so he’s gentle while falling against Ganon’s chest. He misses the papers in Ganon’s hands as his sweetheart opens his arms to accept him. The only objection Ganon makes is a little grumble deep in his chest. It vibrates right under Link’s cheek, and Link squeezes him tightly. His arms can’t reach entirely around Ganon. But he squeezes and squeezes until Ganon holds him back. They shuffle a little in the hallway to make room for anyone else who needs to pass. Link wants them to duck into his dressing room, but Officer Ruta might spot them. This hallway is clear across the club, near the stage, but still within eyesight. So they stand silently in the hallway, taking up half of it. A moment or two passes before Ganon speaks.

“What's wrong?”

Link shakes his head where it's buried in Ganon’s dress shirt and vest. He'd thrown the suit jacket off somewhere. When Ganon just hums above him, unconvinced, Link arches up on his toes and grabs at Ganon’s jaw. Fingers threaded through his red and white beard, Link holds their mouths firmly together. It’s barely a kiss, but he needs it. It might sway Ganon into changing his mind and come home with him. They haven’t even discussed it yet, but Link reads the atmosphere. Ganon has no intention of leaving the club tonight. Some shadowy men he never likes Link seeing probably wait for him in one of the back rooms. What problem do they have for their boss? What sort of trouble is someone or their supplies in? Link doesn’t care, just wants to drag Ganon home with him and sleep comfortably for once. When Link backs down from their firm-lipped kiss, he tucks himself back to Ganon’s chest rather than look at him.

“Come home? Please?”

Ganon slips one arm from around Link to hold the back of his head. Thick, scarred fingers slip through Link’s hair despite how it's still pinned up high on his head.

“I can't. I have things I need to take care of here.”

Link’s fingers curl in the back of Ganon’s vest as everything tightens inside him.

“Please?” Link breathes. “We haven't slept together in a week. I don't want to go back to my apartment.”

Ganon sighs above him and kisses his hair.

“You can always go back to mine. The driver will take you wherever you want. I'll be home eventually.”

Shaking his head, Link practically whines, “It’s not the same. I don't want to be alone.”

Ganon glances above Link’s pretty head to glare into the parlor. Link is only like this when he’s nervous or uncomfortable. From the hallway and because of his height, he has just enough of a vantage point to see Officer Ruta standing near the bar. He shuffles a bit while glancing at the chilly, misting rain outside. He holds a bouquet of flowers in his arms. Ganon is sure they’re for Link, sure that they’ll end up in the trash like all the other flowers and things the tedious man has brought. If it were possible, Ganon’s emerald eyes would spark a flame in the flowers in Officer Ruta’s hands and set them ablaze. Take the nosy cop with them. That would upset Link, though, who claims the man is “harmless” and “lonely.” Right.

Ganon bows his head towards one of Link’s ears, emerald stud back in his lobe, and murmurs, “Get that cop out of here.”

Link huffs and steps out of Ganon’s arms.

“It’s not like I invite him here.”

“That’s not what I meant,” Ganon fires back with a scowl.

“Well, that’s how it sounds.”

Ganon rubs his free hand over his face before grumbling, “Whatever. I’ll see you later. Or not. Go back to your apartment and pout if that’s how you feel.”

They stand there, staring at each other with equal scowls on their faces. Ganon is difficult like this sometimes. Detached. Patience for anything that breathes worn too thin. He’s probably more tired than Link is right now. He’ll probably get through the night on cocaine and yelling at whomever he has in the back room. That doesn’t excuse his rudeness. Link bites the inside of his cheek rather than spew anything that will just wind Ganon up further. When they get into shouting matches, Ganon just gathers more and more speed until he’s like a hurricane. Letting out a long breath through his nose, Link holds back his sorrow and frustration so that Ganon doesn’t pick up on it.

“Fine. Goodnight.”

His clipped way of speaking and how he turns away without a kiss goodnight tips Ganon off to his screw up. Link doesn’t stop when Ganon barks an order for him to come back or when Ganon practically growls his name. That works on everyone except him. It’s all empty threats, and they both know it. Link has to bite himself again when Ganon’s pounding steps storm away from the hallway, back into the bowels of the club. Of course Ganon won’t stop him or try to apologize. This is exactly why he wants Ganon to come home tonight. They hardly see each other anymore, barely talk except for moments like these. Link just wants them to be close again, wants to bridge this gap he feels growing between them. He knows Ganon doesn’t want that, for them to grow apart, but…

Link pauses in front of Officer Ruta, concern written across his face, and takes back the flowers.

“Is everything all—”

“It’s fine,” Link runs him over, not looking at him as he shoves at the club’s front doors. “Let’s go.”

It’s a brisk smack to the face as Link bursts out of the basement club and stomps up the stairs. They’re slick, and he slips a few times. Officer Ruta is firm and warm behind him with a hand on Link’s hip every time he stumbles. They’re too close once they reach the top of the stairs, and Link turns around with a grimace on his pretty lips. Officer Ruta holds up his hands, palms out, and shuffles sideways to give him space.

Guilt adds to Link’s frustration and sorrow about Ganon, and he smoothes out his face. Officer Ruta keeps his distance, but still follows Link to the sleek, black car waiting for him. Link nods to the driver, the same old man who drives him everywhere. Mr. Venture, prompt and dependable as always. Luckily, Link knows the old man will pick up on his sour mood and not try to talk to him. It’s a blessing, since Link turns to bid Ruta a goodnight and finds the man with his mouth already open.

“Link, I’m sorry this has been such a tiring night for you, but I wonder if I might have another minute of your time? Please?”

Sighing, Link’s shoulders drop as he says, “Yes?”

Officer Ruta rubs his hands over each other while gathering his nerves. He blushes even darker than earlier, gaze angled somewhere near Link’s chest but occasionally flicking up. Link has seen this before and already knows what he’s about to ask. Link doesn’t have the emotional coinage for this.

“I was wondering, if-if you were free sometime, would you join me for dinner? I know you’re incredibly busy, and social engagements take up most of your time, and you’ve said so before, but please, if you let me take you out, I promise that—”

“I’m sorry, Officer Ruta,” Link says with all his strength gone. The chilly mist is getting to him, and he hugs Ruta’s sunflowers to his chest. He keeps talking before the man can correct him on his name again. “I have a lot on my mind right now, and I’m very tired. Some other time? I can’t say yes to you right now.”

Officer Ruta deflates a little, like every time, and murmurs, “You always say that…”

It’s so full of hurt that Link winces. He blames it on the icy rain trying to stab him in the eyes as it blows around.

“I’m sorry,” Link says, voice almost swallowed by a passing car driving through puddles. “I truly am. You’re very kind, very sweet, but I don’t have time for a relationship. Anyone would be better for you than me.”

Red hair sticking to his face from the drizzle, Officer Ruta shakes his head and takes a step closer to Link.

“I thank you, my friend, for such kind words. But I sorely disagree.” He reaches for Link’s hand not clutching the bouquet to his chest, and Link allows it. Ruta takes another step closer and pets warmth into the back of Link’s hand. “You’re wonderful, darling. The most beautiful person I’ve ever met. You give so much of yourself to others, so thoughtful. We would be… wonderful together.”

Officer Ruta reaches up with one hand to pet at Link’s bangs, but Link’s tiny flinch away denies him. Link takes his hand back for good measure and pops open the car door. He recognizes a pointless argument when he sees one. It’s time to leave.

“Thank you for walking me to the car. Goodnight, Officer Ruta.”

Link falling into the back seat and yanking the door shut silences any rebuttal Officer Ruta makes.

“My apartment, please,” Link mumbles to Mr. Venture and then turns his head away from the window. He doesn’t watch Officer Ruta’s figure fade away as the car takes off without hesitation.

His apartment across town is as lonely and cold as he knew it would be. Mr. Venture idles at the curb despite the doorman who runs up with an umbrella and walks Link inside. He may not live in a penthouse like Ganon, but Ganon had hotly refused to allow Link to live anywhere dangerous or unsecure. That had been a long, loud shouting match between them years ago. Link sighs to himself while thanking the doorman, Hank, and steps into an elevator. Another attendant in the building, Hank’s twin brother Dean, smiles at him with a shy schoolboy face and closes the cage around them. He already knows Link’s floor and only offers a stuttered goodnight when Link steps out on the tenth floor.

Link adjusts the sunflowers from Officer Ruta into his right arm while digging for his keys with his left. The lock has started to stick, and he usually has to fight with it. He’d noticed it about a month ago. Other odd things had started happening a month ago, and Link hopes maybe he’ll be spared the paranoia tonight.

Link flicks a light on before walking to his apartment. The rug stretching down the hallway is where it should be. The light in the kitchen and living room are dark. He’s not sure what he’ll find when he starts to walk around. Too tired for this, Link nudges the door shut behind him with a heel and leaves his keys on a hook in the wall. As he approaches a switch or lamp, Link turns on any light available to him. Soon, the hallway from the front door, the kitchen, and the living room are fully lit. Still in his tennis shoes and coat, Link takes quiet steps down the short hall to his bathroom and bedroom. The bathroom light comes on in a pale yellow. Finally, he nudges his bedroom door open and smacks the wall to find the last switch. Every light in his silent, cold apartment is on. Only now does Link relax his tense shoulders and begin to shed his outerwear. His shoes will end up back in the hall closet near the front door. He keeps them on for now, can't convince himself to take them off before he does a sweep of the apartment every night.

As Link wanders past the kitchen, bouquet in hand, he pauses to stare at the trash bin. He considers for a few seconds of throwing the flowers away right now. Keeping flowers in his apartment makes him nervous, now. Ever since a month ago, when he keeps flowers, he comes home sometimes to find them in their vase. But not where he'd left them last. He doesn't claim to have a green thumb, and yes sometimes he leaves the flowers far from sunlight. But to come home and find a vase in the kitchen window that he swears up and down that he's left on the coffee table…

Flowers aren't the only things that seem to grow legs while he's not here. Dishes move around. The living room tidies itself. What's worse is that it's not restricted to the living room and kitchen. His bedroom sees plenty of activity, and that's what scares Link the most. Some of his clothes have gone missing lately. At first, he'd chalked it up to him not keeping track of his dirty laundry or the laundry going missing when one of Ganon’s henchmen comes to collect it. But it's what goes missing that twists him up until he's a nervous wreck. Anything lacy, anything pretty is more likely to disappear. He's lost some of his favorite lingerie that way, which is how he'd finally convinced himself that he wasn't crazy. Link draws in a deep breath, stares at the sunflowers, and then leaves them on the spotless kitchen counter. He'll deal with them later.

The stress from tonight catches up to Link as he drags himself into his bedroom. He sways on his feet, desperate for sleep, but he cannot yet. This room must be checked thoroughly for inconsistencies. It will drive him to paranoia and sleeplessness if he doesn't. Everything appears in order. But it always does, even when he discovers things missing later. Link eyes the bed, trying to suss out any dents in the smooth blanket. He always makes the bed when he leaves—a holdover from his strict life at home. It's untouched. He tucks the blanket in a certain way, and he's never come back to see it done any differently.

Taking in deep, even breaths to keep calm, Link approaches his heavy chested drawers. The top drawer has his underwear—daily, normal ones and the women’s ones he likes. When he opens it, nothing looks wrong. Everything is folded, daily wear on the left and pretty ones on the right. His lingerie is arranged by color. A few are missing purely because he's worn them recently and they're in the hamper. Link checks that next and pauses where he squats down to look through it.

The dirty clothes should layer as the days pass—shirts, pants, underwear, and then repeat. However… Link snatches a pen from his nightstand and hooks a pair of panties off the top of the pile. He looks at the rest, all he'd worn earlier in the week. They shouldn't be at the top with yesterday’s pair. But they are. Heart racing, Link holds the white pair on the end of his pen up to the light. All the hair on his arms and the back of his neck stand on end. Spattered over the silky material, he spies the still damp stain of something that had soaked into the material. They're nearly dry, only still wet on the side that had been touching other clothes. The stains are hours old, made sometime before he'd first appeared on stage tonight. Uncaring of his own body smell on the silk, Link sniffs near one of the damp stains. It's salty. Bitter. Chin shaking a bit as he swallows back nausea, Link flicks the underwear back into the hamper. He tosses the pen back on his nightstand and then covers his mouth with his left hand. He's alone in the apartment, but he glances around his room with wide eyes.

Startled, blue eyes land on the window. It's closed. But is it locked? Link throws himself at the sill and slaps his hands at the lock. His knees dig horribly into the hardwood under him, but he must check it. He must know! The latch is secure. Link shakes it pinched between his fingers to make sure. If it were broken, it would be a sure sign of a break in. He doesn't masturbate over his own underwear! He's not told anyone about these… rearranging or wandering items. Oh, he wants to tell Ganon, but he worries Ganon won't believe him or will dismiss him. But he has proof now!

Grimacing, Link shoves the lock up and throws the window open. Just outside the window, the fire escape zigzags down the side of the building. Link shoves half his body out the window and stares at the shining, wet metal of the scaffolding. There's no sign he can see of anyone sitting here, snooping on him. Stalking him. A fierce wind sends Link’s bangs to slap about his face, so he retreats inside his bedroom. He makes sure to lock it, twist the blinds shut, and tightly draw the curtains. When Link stands and looks about his room, the lights all turned on and the locked window give him little comfort.

Link's hands shake terribly as he stands before his little desk to remove his earrings and take down his hair. As he tugs his sweaty shirt off, the necklace Officer Ruta had given him bounces on his chest. The box it had come in is back at the club. Forgotten. Link immediately wrestles with the clasp, breaths catching his voice as he frantically thumbs at it. Once it comes free, Link rips open a drawer in his desk, dumps the necklace in it, and then shoves the drawer shut. Ganon denying him tonight, Officer Ruta insisting tonight, and then this situation with his apartment is too much for him. It's too much at once.

Link nearly stabs the pad of his thumb as he pulls the emerald studs out of his ears. Those end up in an actual jewelry box he keeps on the desk. Even if he's furious and heartbroken over Ganon right now, he won't go throwing precious gifts from him around. Shivering, Link throws his dirty clothes on top of the pile of underwear dumped there and pulls on fresh pajamas. In the summer, he prefers thin nightgowns. Even some of those have gone missing. It's too cold for him to wear one anyway, even though his skin crawls at the thought of sleeping here. Alone. It's too risky to sleep naked.

Sure that he's too on edge to sleep, Link crawls into bed and lies there for a while. The bedroom door is locked with his desk chair shoved under the door handle. It won't stop anyone from coming in, but it will make noise and delay them. He's never woken up to the sound of the chair scooting across the floor. And he never wants to. Link leaves the lamp on and rolls into his right side, facing the wall. This high up, any sounds of traffic are thrown to the wind. It's quiet in his apartment, and yet his ears strain for any sound. Footsteps. Breathing. Even with the light on, his heart and stomach jump when he thinks he hears something. But when he turns around to look, there's nothing there. There never is. So with a huff, he hops onto his left side and snuggles down into his pillow and blanket. He wants to sleep, to close his eyes and drift off. But he startles back awake after what seems like seconds with his eyes shut. The night drags on like that until orange sunlight pierces the darkness. It's only then that Link trusts his bedroom and falls asleep for a few hours.

Chapter Text

Already stuffed into a tiny, tight red dress, Link stares at his reflection in his dressing room without actually seeing it. He still has his hair and makeup to do, but that won’t take long. He’d needed to squeeze into the dress first to avoid messing up his hair once he has it pinned the way he wants. Most he can step into and zip up the back. Not this one. Thankfully, it’s chilly in his dressing room tonight, so he won’t have to worry about sweating through the dress. It’s about an hour before he’s due on stage. The past few nights have been rough, however. He can’t get over what he’d found in the laundry hamper. He wants to tell Ganon, but… Link sighs and lowers his head to hide in his arms crossed on the vanity. Sleep sounds so nice right now. Maybe… maybe he can convince Ganon to come home tonight. He needs that now more than ever.

“Link.”

Link jumps a little at the deep voice behind him. However, he doesn’t smack his knees into his vanity like with Officer Ruta. He recognizes Ganon the split second after panic stirs up his heart and chokes him on the next inhale. Head shooting up from his arms, Link stares at Ganon with wide eyes, purple bruises under them obvious without makeup. Ganon takes a step into the tiny space, having to duck his head for the dropped ceiling. But Link knows he’s not comfortable in here, so he stands and gently nudges Ganon back into the hallway with both hands on his sweetheart’s chest. Ganon’s big hands reach up to hold Link by his upper arms to keep him close. Link hadn’t planned on stepping away. He wants this closeness.

“I…” Ganon thins his lips into a line like he’s fighting himself. Someone wins, though, and he continues talking. “I’m sorry. About the other night.”

Link tips his head up to watch Ganon avoid his gaze and basically squirm on his feet. Apologizing always has been difficult for the proud man.

“I accept.”

Link snuffs out the space between them and presses as much of his body to Ganon’s as he can. He only relaxes when Ganon’s arms curl around him. Link’s hair flattens a bit as Ganon ducks down to kiss his hair.

“Are you okay? You’ve cut the show early the past two night. You look… tired. Really tired.”

Link smiles against Ganon’s chest and cuddles closer. He has witnessed Ganon give passionate, motivating speeches to his henchmen, especially the new recruits. It’s meant to inspire them but also intimidate them a little. So to hear the giant man hesitate over so few words touches Link’s heart. This isn’t for theatrics. He’s not trying to impress anyone right now. It’s the one way Link knows Ganon is genuinely remorseful for that last argument three nights prior. Right now while Ganon is free of his overwhelming ego, Link should tell him about his apartment. About what he’d found.

Arching up on his toes, Link kisses Ganon’s cheek and asks, “Can we talk in your office? I have something I need to tell you. Something I’m worried about.”

Ganon searches his face, even holds one of Link’s cheeks in his hand, before murmuring, “About us?”

“No, not us,” Link denies with a smile and a little shake of his head. “Just… Let’s go to your office and talk. I don’t want anyone to hear us.”

Ganon nods and turns them so that Link walks ahead of him. Like always, Ganon’s office is spotless and professional. It’s seen a few dead bodies, a few fights. They’ve certainly seen each other in this office under passionate conditions. Link smiles a little at those memories, thinking maybe they should fool around before the show, and then hops up on Ganon’s desk. Ganon spares the chair Link could have taken the briefest of glances before he steps forward and stands at Link’s knees. Link squirms for a second on the desk while he tries to remind himself that he’d wanted to talk to Ganon for a reason. Still, he snags the edge of the red dress and scoots it up his thighs so he can spread his legs a bit. It’s enough for Ganon to take that final step, sliding a thigh between Link’s legs to hold him close. Link returns that embrace and digs his fingers into Ganon’s back as he leans on the man’s chest.

“What’s wrong?”

Eyes shut as a sense of safety finally falls over him for the first time in three days, Link murmurs, “I think… I think I’m going crazy. Or something.”

“‘Or something?’”

This is where Ganon will do one of three things. He’ll either agree that Link is crazy about this apartment shenanigans, will dismiss Link’s suspicions as him being tired or forgetful, or… he’ll tell Link that he’s not crazy, that there is something wrong. Link hopes Ganon believes him.

“Things keep moving around in my apartment,” Link confesses. “I’ll come home at the end of the night and find, like, dishes moved around. Flowers people gave me moved to a window. My clothes are going missing, too.”

“Someone is breaking into your apartment,” Ganon says lowly. It’s not a question.

“That’s what I thought, but… but I come home tired a lot, and I can’t always remember where I last saw these things that are moving around. But that night we yelled at each other… When I got home and checked everything like I do, I… I found something new.”

Ganon holds him tighter around the waist and cradles the back of Link’s head with a hand. It only takes a little hesitation in Link’s voice for Ganon to know he needs the comfort.

Sighing, Link tightens his embrace around Ganon, too, and adds, “My laundry was picked through. Someone sorted out all my underwear and… well, at least one pair they… It must be a man, it has to be, it smelled like—”

“It’s okay,” Ganon murmurs into his hair. “I understand. I believe you.”

Link sits up a bit, enough to meet Ganon’s furious, narrow eyes and asks, “You do?”

The huge hand on the back of Link’s head slips around to hold one side of his face. Ganon uses that hold in order to tip and angle Link’s head for a kiss. Link keeps his eyes open, something he rarely does, and catches the moment Ganon disconnects them and opens his eyes again. They’re still bright and boiling with anger, but none of it is towards him. It occurs to Link at that point that they haven’t kissed since the night he discovered the scene in his bedroom. Link cranes up a bit for another kiss, which Ganon gives him. This one is softer with their mouths moving together and Link humming into it. Link tugs at Ganon’s clothes, dragging them impossibly closer together. They’ll ruck his dress up just from Link squirming. Won’t that be a surprise for Ganon, since he’s not wearing underwear yet…

Link shakes himself a little when they part and asks again, “You do? You believe me?”

“Of course. Why would you lie?” Ganon still holds his face and pets at the bruise under Link’s eye. “You look like you haven’t slept since that night. Have you?”

Link leans into the warm, familiar touch to his cheek and mumbles, “Not really.”

“I’ll send extra security to your apartment.” Ganon pauses after that until Link looks at him. When he does, the edges of his lips tick up briefly. “Maybe a dog?”

Link laughs at that, just a tiny shake of his shoulders, and reaches up to hold Ganon’s thick wrist in both of his hands.

“We could… live together, you know. I don’t think anyone is stupid enough to break into your apartment and snoop around.”

Ganon’s face falls at that as he murmurs, “I can’t come home every night. You know that. And some of my men stop by. People have died in that apartment. I don’t want you around that.”

It’s the same conversation between them, beaten to death and yet resurrected over and over. Link just wants them to be together, literally living together. It’s something they’ve never managed to work out. One time. One time where a rookie had mistaken Link as a prostitute in Ganon’s apartment, tried to feel him up, and then Link never hears the end of it. Link sighs, wishes he’d broken more than the scumbag’s hand, and then rests his cheek over Ganon’s collarbones.

He’s wearing a new suit tonight. It still smells like the tailor he uses a few blocks away. Link has some clothes made by the old man, too. He’d know the smell anywhere. Knowing the clothes are new, Link is careful not to snag a nail or pop a stitch as he yanks Ganon’s dress shirt out of his trousers and slips his hands under said trousers. Ganon jumps against him and holds him tightly. Link knows his hands are probably cold, but he squeezes his sweetheart’s ass anyway.

“Thank you for the extra security,” Link murmurs into the hollow of Ganon’s throat. He hadn’t done the top two buttons of the shirt. “I don’t wanna fight about our living arrangement. But it’s been a while since…”

That’s all the teasing Ganon needs. Link giggles a little as Ganon shoves him to the desk just before extracting Link’s hands from inside his trousers. Ganon hums and flicks an eyebrow up at him while holding Link’s wrists to the desk with one of his hands. The other is busy gathering the edge of Link’s red dress and dragging it up his thighs. Link bites his lower lip when Ganon’s smug expression widens a bit at the sight of his nakedness. Link hadn’t planned on a fast, sloppy fuck on Ganon’s desk. But why sweat through a pair of perfectly good panties while getting ready to sing? His prior plans benefit him now for completely different reasons. Link has to bite back a laugh as he lifts his legs up to wrap them around Ganon’s hips. He does so love making a loud and passionate man silent with something so little.

Grumbling and blushing, Ganon slides himself properly between Link’s free legs and flattens him to the desk. Link doesn’t mind the weight, writhes under it with his hands still pinned above his head. He knows Ganon would release him immediately if asked. He could also just knee Ganon in the crotch if absolutely necessary. Of course, Ganon holding him down like this is fun. Link trusts him absolutely. Link tilts his head back and lets loose a loud moan, uncaring if anyone hears. Ganon’s free hand has found its way under Link’s dress, shoving it higher up his body. Link’s hips jerk under Ganon’s weight at the cruel pinch of one of his nipples. Link fights back by locking his ankles behind Ganon’s back and squeezing until he hears something pop. Ganon laughs in his hair and settles his weight more fully on top of Link.

“You’re… You’re ridiculous,” Ganon laughs. “Did you just pop my hip?”

“Maybe,” Link says just before biting along Ganon’s jaw, headed towards his ear.

Ganon hums and wiggles down Link’s body to start his own biting. He can’t keep hold of Link’s wrists like that, so he lets them go. Hands free, he still finds something of Link to pin down, though. He chuckles and squeezes Link’s hips while keeping them still. A few lovebites and actual bites won’t interfere with Link’s performance. Probably. Link certainly makes no move to stop Ganon from marking him up. He arches off the mahogany desk as best he can and clings to Ganon’s wrists. The insides of his thighs and calves now hug Ganon’s chest as his sweetheart slips farther and farther down. Whatever Ganon has planned, Link wants it. He tries to buck under Ganon’s hands to show his enthusiasm.

“Please,” Link pants into the cold office. “Please, please touch me. I need you.”

Ganon nips at the hair leading down from Link’s navel and stands up a bit, towering over him.

“You go on soon. I don’t have time to fuck you into this desk.”

“We could try,” Link says with a pout.

Humming with a smirk on his face, Ganon tickles behind Link’s knees to free himself. As Link wiggles on the desk and kicks his legs, Ganon quickly bends around the corner of his desk, rips a drawer open, and then returns to his luxurious position between Link’s thighs. Link immediately tries to hook his ankles around Ganon again, but Ganon snatches one leg under the knee and hoists it in the air. Link’s heart lurches into his throat as he watches it all. His eyes catch on the purple marks trailing down his body. They all lead to his cock, half hard on his hip. He wishes they had time for the slow, gentle sort of lovemaking he misses. They would need Ganon’s king-size bed for that, but the desk will do for now, for whatever Ganon has planned. It must be something good, because he pops the cap on the baby oil he’d snatched from the desk and rubs it between the fingers of his right hand.

Link throws his head back, hoists his own legs in the air, and then pants towards the desk chair, “Please, please, please. Right now, I need you right now, please!”

“So bossy,” Ganon purrs back. He doesn’t miss the way Link jerks and rolls his body into the oily graze of fingers on his ass cheek. “You did say ‘please,’ though…”

Warmth blankets Link’s lower body as Ganon bends back over him. Teeth nip a circle around one hipbone and then the other. It’s a distraction as thick fingers trace their own maddening circles around Link’s hole. Link thanks his lucky stars that he showers every night before performing, if only to wash his body. Tonight had been a full wash, so he’s clean from literally head to toe. Link wonders if the scent of his soap still wafts off his skin. Ganon would know, with his face so near to where Link is wet and needy.

His free hand is busy pinching and fondling Link’s inner thighs, shifting back and forth to tease both of them. Whining, Link bucks under Ganon’s mouth and hands to beg him for more. The pressure of Ganon’s fingers increases just that much more, threatening, teasing to dip inside him. Link bangs his head into the desk under him and tries to swirl his hips against that pressure. He wants to beg, but that won’t make Ganon go any faster. They don’t have time to fuck, but they have enough time for Ganon to tease him.

Link’s body finally yields to his sweetheart, and he flops bonelessly on the desk. He almost loses his grip on his own legs, but he saves it at the last second. The baby oil makes the glide easy, but Link keeps his muscles tense just to tease Ganon back. It could be something else inside him, if only Ganon would take the time. Let him have a taste, a reminder of what could be. Link bites his lower lip and cracks an eye open to watch down his body. Ganon is still busy biting and suck marks into his stomach, although a few bruises purple on the tops of his thighs. Link gives a squeeze around the finger in him and holds back his moan as Ganon bites him harder. When he begins to move, tired of letting Link get used to the burn, Link rolls his body to the same rhythm.

Everything behind Link’s navel tightens at the glide of skin past his rim. It’s so much better than when he’s lonely at home and touches himself. He hasn’t for the past month or so, too terrified and paranoid. Plus, Ganon feels better in him than anything else. Link squirms a little harder at the smirk that blooms against his pelvis. Ganon must have missed him, too. Link whines when he rubs himself against Ganon’s jaw. It hurts because of his facial hair, but if Ganon plans on blowing him, then he wants it now. Now would be the time to beg, if only to fuel Ganon’s ego. His mouth is practically where Link wants it, skirting around the wet head of his cock. But Ganon wanders away from it, smirking and chuckling as he goes. Link bangs his head on the desk again and gathers enough air to speak.

“Please,” he whines. “You feel so good. Please, touch me.”

“I am,” is the deeply purred response that tickles down his shaft. Ganon’s smug mouth hovers above it. “This isn’t what you mean?”

“Ganon please!”

A hum accompanies the first kiss to the sensitive underside of his head. Link once again tightens around Ganon, but this time it’s not on purpose. He writhes hard enough to warrant Ganon pinning him to the desk with his free hand. The other backs away between Link’s legs until he slips out. Before Link can give himself a concussion by banging his head again, Ganon shoves forward with two fingers. The walls nearly shake with how loud Link moans. It’s been a few weeks since Ganon has heard that sound, and he moans too while kissing down Link’s erection. They don’t have time for more, and he can’t dirty Link’s dress. The baby oil would stain, nevermind semen when Link eventually comes. Although, Ganon has a plan for that, and starts it by mouthing around the crown of Link’s head. He has Link squirming and bucking under his hand before he seals his mouth around Link and hollows his cheeks.

Words may leave Link’s bitten and red lips, but they’re incoherent. Ganon’s name is tangled up in the wild sounds. That’s the only thing either of them picks out, but it’s all music to Ganon. Link doesn’t want to buck too hard and jam himself into Ganon’s mouth, but it’s too good. He can’t do this to himself—not for a lack of trying. He has missed Ganon more than he wants to admit, and Link throws an arm over his eyes to hide how watery they are. His right leg folds until his calf touches his thigh, and he keeps it out of Ganon’s way like that. The left he has a death grip on. He’d rather hold Ganon’s hand pinning him to the desk, but holding himself open like this feels good. Everything Ganon does to him feels good and helps to tighten the spring behind his navel and pool heat there. Not masturbating for nearly a month and not having sex for the past two weeks catches up with him.

Breaths jumping to the tingling graze of fingers along his walls, Link pants, “Gan-Ganon, wait, wait, I’m gonna…”

Ganon just hums around him and shoves his fingers harder and faster into him. Link doesn’t have a second to spare thinking about them making a mess of his dress. Ganon’s lips and tongue know just how to caress him, know just how to tip him over the edge. It’s all tight, wet heat around Link when he flinches on the desk and orgasms. Ganon picks up on the waves of it crashing through him and times the thrusts of his fingers just right. The arm Link had thrown over his face hides his blush. He’d come so fast, too fast… This could have lasted so much longer if not for him. He’s due to go on soon, oh but he tingles from head to toe as Ganon drags every last bit of his orgasm out. Link finally releases his leg in order to cover Ganon’s left hand still pinning him to the desk. His fingers shake over Ganon’s, his everything shakes, but he wants to feel his sweetheart close to him. They probably won’t spend tonight together. Link had seen Ganon’s men walk in around the time he arrived, too. Ganon has business tonight.

Link leaves his arm across his face until Ganon disconnects them. A chill blows over his wet cock and where oil still slicks him up between his cheeks. It’s nothing a handkerchief can’t fix, which Ganon will probably hand him once they’re finished. Link tosses his arm aside in order to watch Ganon jerks himself off. He wants to help, even stretches a trembling hand to do so. But Ganon just leans over Link, snatches his hand, and holds it to his mouth as he pants. Link squirms with Ganon standing between his legs and arches his body up to offer it. Ganon won’t make a mess of the dress, but Link’s naked belly and chest are his. Again, it’s nothing a handkerchief can’t clean. Link smiles up at Ganon and threads his fingers through the man’s red and white beard to hold his face.

“I love you,” Link rasps, voice blown out from a shout when he’d come. “I love you so much.”

Ganon groans against the heel of Link’s palm and swoops down to swallow his words. Link throws his arms around Ganon’s neck and holds on as they kiss. They part messily, tongues still licking at each other, for Ganon to pant and hiss between his teeth. His fist must be fast and tight around himself. Link just hangs on and moans when Ganon’s next kiss sends his head knocking into the desk. Link sees stars from the impact but also from how Ganon moans into his mouth.

Mindful of Ganon’s teeth, Link follows Ganon’s lead and the vicious back and forth with their tongues. He’s glad Ganon panting and moaning covers up the messy sound of them kissing. Link tries to keep his eyes open to take in every flinch that mars Ganon’s face. Each one is sooner than the last, and the space between his thick eyebrows wrinkles the nearer he gets to his orgasm. Link whines into their kisses to encourage Ganon to come. He wants to watch his sweetheart fall apart.

During a break in their kisses, Ganon groans, “Oh, Link,” against his lips and jumps like someone had shocked him. Warmth spatters on Link’s chest and stomach, and he knows Ganon has finally come. Link uncurls one hand from the back of Ganon’s neck and holds his head instead. Link pulls them together and swallows both their satisfied hums. It’s not exactly what he’d wanted. He’d wanted to have to hold on to the edge of this desk for dear life, jerking up the polished wood with every thrust from Ganon. But… this is nice, too. They could repeat this in a bed sometime soon, and Link would enjoy that, too. He does have a performance, however, and he still has hair and makeup to go through. Link nudges Ganon back from their lazy kisses with a hand on his shoulder. Ganon parts from him, although he steals a few more kisses before standing. From his pocket, he whips out a clean handkerchief and wastes no time in cleaning Link up.

“I would love to keep you here like this, but that’s ridiculous and also not possible.”

Link sticks his tongue out at Ganon while still spread out on the desk.

“You could have me like this any time if we lived together…”

Ganon sighs instead of winding up tight with rage and scoops Link up. He helps Link sit on his rear, dress not yet tugged back down. Link will have to stand up at some point and wipe at the baby oil between his cheeks. Ganon helps him reach that point by holding on to Link as they slide him off the desk. Hands at Link’s hips, Ganon makes sure his little love doesn’t fall over or crash to his knees. Ganon sacrifices one hand in order to yank a tissue out of the box on his desk. He would hand Link the handkerchief, but it’s already soiled. So instead, Ganon holds Link steady as Link cranes an arm back to wipe up the mess left behind. When Link tosses the tissue in the nearby trash bin, he immediately tilts his head up with a smile.

“I’m sorry,” he mumbles. “I didn’t mean that to sound so…”

Ganon shakes his head and bends close enough to kiss Link’s forehead.

“I know. I know you want us to live together. And we will. I want that, too, you know that, right?”

Link nods and reaches down to pick up one of Ganon’s hands. He covers the back of it with his own and guides both of them to cup his cheek. They don’t have time for the cuddling and kissing he wants. They barely had time to have the sex they did. Ganon sighs above him and makes use of his free hand to try and right Link’s dress. They’d not made a mess of it—just him. They can’t do anything about the pink flush still glowing in Link’s cheeks. If anyone asks, Link will wave it away as the chill in the basement club. It’ll warm up in the main parlor once the doors open and men flood in to hear him sing.

That thought just reminds Link of Officer Ruta, though, and he quickly shoves it away. He doesn’t want to think about his overly enthusiastic admirer right now. He’d denied the man a date once again that night he brought Link flowers and the necklace. The flowers are already in the trash, and the necklace is still in his desk drawer. His panic over the invasion of his apartment keeps him from thinking about Officer Ruta right now. The man has shown up every night since Link’s denial, but he hasn’t approached Link in his dressing room to escort him outside. Link counts it as a blessing.

“I should… finish getting ready.” Link slips his hand off Ganon’s and mourns the loss of warmth when Ganon copies him. “Will you kiss me goodnight before I leave later?”

Ganon gently takes his chin in hand and tips his head up for a kiss right now. It’s a brief, innocent kind of thing, but they keep their faces close as Ganon murmurs, “Of course,” over Link’s lips.

Link carries that sensation and that tenderness through song after song. Officer Ruta doesn’t show up to his normal, center table until Link’s last song. Like the past few nights, Link cuts the performance short. His lack of sleep lowers the quality of his singing and the amount of stamina he has for the theatrics. None of his faithful fans seem to notice, except perhaps Officer Ruta. The man stares at him with something new in his eyes. It’s bright and wild, and it catches Link’s attention each time his own gaze wanders over the crowd.

Their eyes meet, even when Link tries with everything in him not to look Ruta’s way. He doesn’t want the friendly cop to take his gaze as an offer for conversation. Or to retouch on the subject of them going out. So, Link sings his last song, kisses the crowd goodnight, and then heads immediately for his dressing room. Unlike his normal behavior, though, Link snags one of Ganon’s men, asks him to stand outside the dressing room, and then closes the door. It makes for a stuffy twenty minutes, but it’s a peaceful and uninterrupted twenty minutes.

When Link emerges in his typical post-show clothes, he finds Officer Ruta standing near the bar. Link eyes Ganon’s henchman who he’d roped into this earlier. The man eyes him right back, flicking up a brief smile to him. They’re all dressed smartly in black suits. None of Ganon’s cronies like this one ever stand out. They’re replaceable. Disposable. Link wishes that wasn’t the case, mostly because they all treat him kindly, but this isn’t his world. He just sees it from the outside. And right now, he wants to kiss the king of that world goodnight before heading home. Hopefully, on the arm of one of these faceless men, maybe he can avoid Officer Ruta’s shy conversation for the night.

Link peeks around Ganon’s henchman to find his sweetheart already wandering towards him. Ganon must have kept an eye on the clock, remembering Link’s request for a kiss goodnight. Link steps around Ganon’s henchman with a tired smile on his face, arms already rising up to catch Ganon in a hug. They pay their audience no mind as Ganon lifts Link off his feet a bit in order to kiss him. They won’t embarrass Ganon’s henchman by going at each other like earlier in Ganon’s office. Plus, Link is about to fall asleep on his feet from performing. And from the sex. Link smirks into their last kiss while thinking about that. He’ll pet over all the lovebites on his chest and belly as he struggles to sleep tonight. Maybe remembering his sweetheart will help soothe his paranoia.

“Goodnight,” Link murmurs while squeezing Ganon tightly one more time. “Let’s go home together soon, okay?”

Ganon doesn’t reply to that last part, just kisses Link’s forehead and parrots back, “Goodnight.”

The man who had guarded Link’s dressing room accompanies Link to the front of the club. Officer Ruta, eyes tired but full of excitement, catch Link’s as he approaches. Link isn’t sure if Ruta had witnessed the kiss between him and Ganon just now. Part of him hopes not just to avoid a nosy conversation. The other part hopes envy eats Ruta alive, might make him think twice the next time he asks Link out. But judging by his smile, Link doubts that. Sighing, Link slows to a stop and has to rest a hand on his escort to make him pause.

“Goodnight, Officer Ruta. I’m sorry that I can’t stay and talk, I really have to get home.”

Officer Ruta nods in agreement, which Link finds odd. He always requests a moment of Link’s time, even just a minute to speak with him. Officer Ruta smiles at Link, paying no mind to Ganon’s man, and walks ahead of them to hold the door open. They pass him with Ganon’s henchman acting as a barrier between them while they walk up the steps. It’s not rainy tonight, but Link keeps a firm grasp on the cold, iron handrail anyway. Mr. Venture waits in the sleek car, like always, and Ganon’s man holds the door open for Link so that Mr. Venture doesn’t have to run out. Link pauses as the hairs on the back of his neck stand up despite his heavy coat. Officer Ruta waits for him to turn around, and Link knows he won’t leave without one last word from Link.

“Have a peaceful night’s sleep, my dear friend,” Officer Ruta says with some of his hair batting about his face. “You seem tired, more so than usual. A hot bath or a nice drink would do you wonders. In any case, I hope the night fares you well. ”

Link hopes so too, especially with Ganon’s promise of more security around his apartment. Maybe he’d stationed someone outside the building, outside his front door. Link just wants to sleep the whole night through without startling awake every few minutes. He wants to close his eyes and not immediately hear the sound of footsteps, of breathing not his own. There’s never anything there when he rolls over.

“Mmm… Me too, Officer Ruta. Goodnight.”

Officer Ruta gives him a nod and takes a step back. Like usual, Link turns his head away from the curb as Mr. Venture pulls away. Link does not watch Ruta fade into the distance, but he does ruminate over the man’s advice. A bath sounds wonderful, but Link worries the steam might make him dizzy or that he might fall asleep in the bath. A drink wouldn’t hurt, though, and he has a few open bottles collecting proverbial dust in the fridge. Link actually has a smile on his face as he bids Mr. Venture goodnight and thanks him for the ride home. Hank and Dean at their posts receive the same treatment, and they blush at his cheerfulness. Link holds fast to his upturn in attitude right up until he fishes his keys out of his pocket. He has to jiggle and play with the lock like always. Just because tonight had been a happy night doesn’t mean he is free of his search through his apartment. That facet of his life hasn’t changed.

As Link makes his rounds of the apartment, his paranoia melts a bit. When he comes home, he always finds something amiss. This time though… everything looks to be in order. His clothes are untouched in his bedroom, nothing has moved in the living room or kitchen. Link changes clothes in his bedroom. He forgoes the pajamas and treats himself to a nightgown instead. He sleeps better in them, doesn’t sweat as much. The silk is so much kinder against his skin than the flannel. He checks the lock on his window once the white, silky gown spills to his knees. The lock is unchanged. Everything is as he’d left it hours ago.

Humming and rubbing warmth into his upper arms, Link scuttles to his kitchen and flings the fridge door open. The easy smile he’d given Mr. Venture, Hank, and Dean returns as he eyes his alcohols of choice for tonight. He’d rather not open a fresh bottle of wine just for this, so he immediately discards those. The orange juice is still good, so he snatches that in one hand and vodka gifted to him by Ganon in the other. It’s not his first choice, but it’s something even he can mix together. With a screwdriver that’s more orange juice than vodka in hand, Link returns to his bedroom.

He passes some time winding down and drinking by reading a book. It’s too quiet and still in his apartment, so before he gets too wrapped up in the pages, he flicks the radio on. The first station he finds is smooth jazz, but it comes in with lots of static. It’s peaceful, though, so he leaves it there. Link reads and sips from his glass until his eyes hurt and his fingers grow stiff from the cold. He still sleeps with the light on, so it doesn’t matter if he falls asleep like this.

The drink he’d made is safe on the nightstand. He’d liked it at first, but he thinks perhaps the orange juice needs to go. The more and more he’d sipped from his glass, the saltier the drink had become. He’d given the glass a strange look when he first picked up on the aftertaste. It must be the orange juice going bad. So Link isn’t that upset when he leaves his book on the nightstand with his glass only half drunk. He hunkers down to try and sleep with the lights and radio on. He doesn’t remember falling asleep once his head hits the pillow.

The first thing Link usually does when he startles awake is to check the clock radio on his nightstand. It’s how he keeps track of how long he’d managed to sleep. What wakes him this night is something softer. It doesn’t rip him out of slumber like the imagined noises do. Lips kiss down the side of his neck, and teeth follow that trail back up to nibble him gently. Link’s limbs are filled with lead, but he’s warm, so he doesn’t panic. Is it a dream? If so, it must be Ganon above him on the bed. Knees dip into the mattress on either side of Link’s thighs while hands brace themselves above Link’s shoulders. Link hums and sighs at the gentle attention to his neck. Yes, this is what he’d wanted earlier. His dreams come through for him to give him what he wants.

One of the hands above his shoulders lifts up from the bed and plays with the hem of his nightgown. It had bunched up a bit in Link’s sleep and now barely keeps him decent. Link wants to squirm and arch his body up to entice Ganon to move faster. Ganon had shoved his dress up earlier tonight to pinch his nipples and bite him. If Ganon wants a repeat of that, he’s welcome to it. Link wishes Ganon would lie on top of him like he usually does. He wants his sweetheart’s weight pinning him to the bed, warming him and making him feel safe. But Link can’t move his body right now, can’t tug Ganon down on top of him. He would whine and fuss if his head weren’t so cloudy. When Link opens his eyes, he does so to shadow cut by moonlight from the window. His lamp is off. The radio is silent. A breeze rolls in from the open window.

Heart jumping in his throat, Link tries to blink fog out of his eyes. The body above him is not Ganon’s. It’s all wrong, too slim to be his sweetheart’s. Link’s muffled ears finally pick up the harsh panting of the person above him. It sounds like a man, and every so often, the man groans. Link thinks he catches his own name from the invader’s lips, but nothing seems real right now. The room won’t stop moving.

The hand at his nightgown shoving the material up his chest seems so far away. Muscles in Link’s neck twitch when that hand wanders back down and pets at the hair under his navel. Fingers tremble while following the hair down, down still until they graze the root of his cock. He’s soft, too confused and muddled of mind to grow hard. That doesn’t stop the stranger above him from taking him in hand and fondling him, testing how a squeeze might wrangle a reaction out of him. Link is frozen to the bed. Cool air from the window washes over Link and tightens his skin. It doesn’t go unnoticed by the phantom on top of him, and a blood-hot mouth seals around a nipple. Link would scream if he could.

At one point, when that mouth follows the path of Ganon’s lovebites down his chest, Link thinks he’s floating above all this and watching it happen to someone else. Looking down from his ceiling, Link watches lips and teeth add bruises to his pale belly. Link distantly feels his body flinch when the tip of a tongue dips into his navel, but he’s not sure. The hand at his cock gives a few, feeble pumps to get him interested. It doesn’t work, and that hand slips away to grip the top of his thigh instead. The world and Link’s vision swims too much to tell what’s real. It’s terribly confusing, even more so when the shadow above him sits up. A belt buckle clicks bright and metallic against itself in the dark before clothes rustle. The panting not his increases.

“Link,” the stranger moans barely above a whisper. “Oh Link. My darling. My sweet Link.”

One hand returns to Link’s body to pet his face. Fingers trip over his lips, and Link’s heart freezes to think they’ll force themselves inside. The tip of one finger traces the seam between his lips a few times, gives just enough pressure to make it a threat. Link doesn’t give. They slip down after a caress or two to fist in his wrinkled nightgown, holding the material under Link’s chin. Link still struggles to see in the dark. Whatever this is, it isn’t happening. It’s not real. It can’t be. The slick sound of a man stroking himself is unmistakable to Link’s roaring ears, but it can’t be happening.

Link gathers enough air to let out a tiny whine, but the moan of the man on top of him swallows it. If Link could get enough air in him, he would scream. Everything is difficult right now. He can’t move. His eyesight plays tricks on him in the dark. The only thing that seems to work for the most part is his hearing. He hears every hitched breath, every moan that slips out of the stranger straddling him. Touch works apparently, too, because Link flinches at the warm come that land on his chest when it’s all over.

Link freezes and tries to cry out when the invader swoops down to steal a kiss. Link would bite him if his teeth would just snap together. They don’t, though, and Link has to lie there while unfamiliar lips cradle his and a warm tongue invades his mouth. The kiss is messy with spit gathering at the corner of Link’s mouth. The intruder doesn’t seem to care, doesn’t mind how uncoordinated and unrefined this kiss is. Like he’s never kissed someone before. When it’s over, Link struggles again to breathe. His bed rocks a bit under him as the invader makes for the window to take his leave. The departure sends another curl of cold air to blow over Link and chill him where his nightgown is still shoved up by his chin. The shadow at his window hesitates for a moment and makes to glance over its shoulder.

Link slams his eyes shut, not wanting the man to catch him awake. What might he do, if he knows Link is awake, maybe had seen his face? A shadow pauses over Link as the man blocks out moonlight. He sits there on the sill, taking one last look at Link’s vulnerable, sleeping face. When the shadow flinches as he leaves, Link cracks an eye open. The moonlight gives Link’s eyes just enough light for him to see color. Red hair peeking out from under a knitted cap is the only part of the stranger Link sees for sure. The rest, when the man had been on top of him and kissing him, that had been a collage of faces and eyes.

Lying there with come drying on his chest, Link stares at the ceiling until his eyes burn. His fingers twist in the blanket under him until he hears a thread pop somewhere. When he blinks hot, fat tears out of his eyes, Link sits up so that they don’t run down his cheeks and pool in his ears. The first thing he does is flick on the lamp sitting on his nightstand. The room around him is too large, to strange for him right now. It hurts to move as well, as if he’d run from some horrible monster, ran for his life.

The come spattered on him has turned clear and cold already. Link rips his nightgown over his head to wipe it away. He needs a washcloth and hot water. Soiled nightgown thrown on the floor, Link stands on shaking legs with his blanket it one hand. Link doesn’t bother to check the lock on his window before he climbs out of bed. What would be the point in that? The lock hadn’t kept the invader out before. Why lock it again?

All the other lights in Link’s apartment are still on when he opens the door. Still, out the corner of his eye, shadows jump and take form of the man who had molested him just now. Knees weak under him, Link clings to the wall as he stumbles to the bathroom. He locks the door behind him before grabbing a washcloth and wetting it. He waits for the water to get as hot as he can stand before wiping himself clean. It’s not enough, and he still feels dirty and horrible after. But he doesn’t trust his legs to keep him standing for a shower. He doesn’t want the tub wet, either, because he knows he can’t return to his bedroom. Instead, Link drags his blanket into the claw-foot tub, curls up in the frigid thing, and hides his head under the blanket. He falls asleep at some point with tears dripping off his nose and blotting the blanket under him.

Chapter Text

A few blocks down from Ganon’s club, the area police station sits calm and quiet. Link hadn’t know it was so close, but he decides he’ll pay it a visit after some sleep. Link pays for a cab to take him to the club at dawn. He has a key to the front door and lets himself in. Ganon sleeps here sometimes, so Link finds the blanket and pillow his sweetheart uses and takes them for himself. They smell like Ganon and cigarettes. Link steals a few hours of sleep under Ganon’s desk in his office. No one can find him here. No one knows he’s here. Still, it doesn’t stop Link from locking Ganon’s office door, shoving his desk chair under the handle, and then sleeping with the light on. And even then, Link startles awake like he’s at home every time his eyes close. By the time he crawls out to walk to the police station down the street, he’s at his wit’s end. He needs coffee.

An older police officer greets Link as he walks in from the cold. He sits at a front desk in full uniform. The rest of the station is hidden behind a wall with an intimidating, metal door. Chairs bolted to the floor dot this entrance area, and Link stands around looks at it all. He’s never been in a station before, and he’s not looking forward to admitting the details of what’d happened to him. Whichever officer interviews him might not believe him. Link barely believes it, if not for the sore skin on his chest where he’d nearly burned himself washing some stranger’s ejaculate off him.

There are fresh bruises on his neck, too. Ganon favors the right side of his body while they’re fooling around or making love. He almost never leaves a mark on the left side of Link’s neck. This morning, though, both sides of his neck are dark with lovebites. He wears a sweater with a high neck to cover them up. Despite his nerves, Link refuses to keep quiet about this. He doesn’t want anyone else to wake up the way he had, feel and see what he had. Link steps forward and speaks to the older office behind his desk.

“Good morning, officer. I-I would like to report a crime.”

The friendly smile on the old man’s face dips some.

“I’m sorry to hear that, young man. Was anyone injured during this crime? Should I send someone to the scene?”

Link clutches his coat shut and shakes his head.

“No, sir. It, um… happened to me. I’d like to make a statement, please…”

The old man stands up and nods while saying, “Let me go find someone back there to—”

“Link?”

Link jumps where he stands and whips around so fast that he almost spills himself on the floor. Looking freshly showered and with coffee in hand, Officer Ruta stands behind him. Link holds his coat tighter in one hand and braces himself up with the other spread out on the desk behind him. A brief, blink-and-you’d-miss-it expression of panic passes over Officer Ruta’s face. He schools it quickly before lifting his hat off and holding it to his chest. Link blinks at him, wonders why he does that like a lady is in the room, and tries to calm down.

Why had the thought never occurred to him that Office Ruta is assigned to this station? Link had just accepted that Ruta is a member of the city’s police force. Just… not so close to the club. It makes more sense to Link now, why Officer Ruta shows up nearly every night to see him. Of course, Officer Ruta’s affection for him would probably be enough to drag the man all over the city. Even though he faces someone kind and slightly familiar, Link wishes he could speak with someone else. He can’t stop staring at Office Ruta’s red hair.

“Link, are you all right? Has something happened?”

Officer Ruta reaches out to hold his arm, but Link scuttles out of reach. Ruta flinches like Link had struck him and instead sets his coffee on the front desk. The older officer watches this all with an eyebrow cocked high.

“Oh, um, no-no I’m fine, I um, you see—”

“The young man says he’s come to report a crime,” the older officer chimes in. “I was about to look for someone, but I’d hate to bother you the moment you walk in.”

Officer Ruta continues to stare at Link for a second too long, prompting the older officer to clear his throat at him. Link just stands still, baking under that hot stare. Anyone else. Anyone but Ruta.

Eventually, Officer Ruta shivers even with his coat still on and says, “Well, I’m right here. I’ll take him back and get his statement. No need to involve anyone else.”

The older officer shrugs before reclaiming his seat. Ruta leans towards Link to pick up his coffee again. Hat restored on his head, Office Ruta nods towards the metal door separating this part of the station from the rest.

“Lead the way, my dear friend. I’ll set us up in a room to talk.”

Clinging to the front of his coat with both hands now, Link nods and steps forward. Officer Ruta reaches around him with a key in hand and unlocks the door from their side. The scent of his aftershave curls over Link’s shoulder and tickles his nose. Link’s shoulders hunch up around his ears as the door opens. He’s on edge. He can admit that. He just wishes Officer Ruta wouldn’t stand so close. There’s no one around, or at least no one Link can see. A few lights shine on desks, and lights from ceiling fans above give off more. Still, to Link, it’s particularly dim in this part of the station.

They pass the desk, the shades pulled down on the windows—ah ha, so that’s why it’s so dark in here—until they come to a stop outside a walled-in office. Officer Ruta brandishes his keys again, jiggles one in the lock, and then gestures for Link to enter first. Link assumes it must be an interview room of some sort. When he steps in, he finds that it’s just another office. Officer Ruta’s name is not the one emblazoned on the nameplate on the desk. Link jumps as the door shuts behind them, rattling the windows and walls of the tiny space.

Officer Ruta tugs his coat off while saying, “Please, have a seat. If you’d like some coffee or water, I’ll run and get it for you.”

The memory of last night, the overwhelming saltiness of his drink, stops Link from accepting that offer. Link shakes his head while falling into the chair opposite the desk. Officer Ruta swings a hip around the corner and takes up position across from Link. His black uniform is perfectly pressed, fits him like it's tailored. The only things out of sorts are the dark circles under Ruta’s eyes, like he hasn't slept well. Link tries not to wonder what the officer gets up to alone. Instead, Link stares at the desk rather than the officer.

It’s too dim in here with only the desk lamp on. It’s the same yellow as Link’s in his room. It had been off, as well as the light in the ceiling, when Link awoke to the pressure of someone above him. Link huddles in the chair and ducks his head between his shoulders. It’s cold in here, too, just like his bedroom with the window cracked open. How had the invader breached the lock? It doesn’t open from the outside. Link closes his eyes and wishes it hadn’t happened. Officer Ruta slapping an empty folder with a blank report already attached to it startles Link out of his memories. They linger in his mind, and he has to blink a few times for Officer Ruta to come into focus.

Cocking his head, Officer Ruta asks, “Are you sure I can’t get you anything? You look ready to pass out.”

Link meets Officer Ruta’s concerned gaze for a second. The way the lamp hits his face from Link’s left takes him back to his bedroom, lying on his bed in the darkness. Ruta shuffles in his chair and plays with a pen between his fingers. He doesn’t look away from Link while fidgeting. The desk lies between them, but Link shivers like Officer Ruta’s breaths blow over his ear and the side of his neck. Link makes sure to keep his coat closed for now. His bruises are his evidence for what’d happened last night, but…

Link’s stomach flips at the idea of showing them to Ruta. Every time Link flinches, those honey eyes dart down to the sliver of Link’s neck visible above his sweater. Link wants to run. He hadn’t wanted to do this period, had only come here out of need to maybe protect others. But as Link sits in the uncomfortable chair across from Officer Ruta, he thinks perhaps… his concern is wasted. Whoever had attacked him probably won't go after anyone else—not with how intimate the altercation was. Ruta stares straight through him like he’s not here, like he’s somewhere else just like Link. Link tunes into harsh breaths rasping in the office, and it’s not until he jumps from Ruta lifting his arm to apply pen to paper that he realizes they’re his breaths.

“Let’s start at the beginning, my dearest friend,” Officer Ruta murmurs while staring down at the blank report. Pen scribbling Link’s first and last name, Officer Ruta glance up at him with his head still bowed to ask, “Please tell me what happened, in as much detail as you can recall.”

Link doubts any air reaches his lungs at all. He’s caught in Ruta’s stare, waiting for him and watching him. Link hadn’t seen a face last night. It had been too dark, his vision too blurry. But he’d looked down his body and watched a man suck bruises into his skin, had listened to someone moan his name. The roar in Link’s ears from last night returns, and he reaches up to shield his eyes from the desk lamp. A sharp pain blooms behind both eyes, and he rubs at them to try and alleviate the ache. Behind his lids, Link recalls the red hair peeking out from under a knitted cap as the invader had fled. Officer Ruta isn’t the only person in the city with red hair. There’s no proof it had been him in Link’s bedroom last night. Still, when Link drops his hand to meet the officer’s gaze once more, he can’t help the way every inch of skin crawl at the sight of him.

“I-I’m sorry,” Link says while rising from the chair. “I think there’s been a mistake. I, um… I have to go.”

He swings his body around the chair while scrambling for the office door. He gets a grip on the door handle and is about to twist when a hand slams into the wood above him. Ruta is so close behind him that body heat rolls off him and tickles the back of Link’s neck. Link wants to turn around, to not give his back to the officer. But they’re too close for him to do that, so Link clings to the knob in his hand. Officer Ruta’s hand slapped to the door remains there. A vein throbs in the back of it. In the shell of Link’s left ear, a long exhale rushes past the cartilage and plays with the loose hair too short for Link to tie up like the rest. Ruta doesn’t touch him. But his voice excites the hair on the back of Link’s neck as if lips brush his skin when Ruta speaks.

“Link… Please, whatever happened, you can tell me. I just want to protect you and take care of you. Please stay?”

Link shivers at the humid puff of air past his ear and tugs frantically on the handle.

“I’m fine, really! I actually need to be somewhere right now, please move your hand.”

Officer Ruta’s voice has an edge to it when he grumbles, “Link…”

Throwing his head around, Link stares up at Officer Ruta’s stern face. He’s never seen such a look on the man before. It’s alien, shouldn’t be possible on such a handsome face. Link once again tugs on the door and squashes the way his guts jump and flinch inside him. Ruta can’t do anything to him. Whatever is in the man’s head, Link won’t cower or be a part of it. Link shoots the man his own thin-lipped expression and wills his eyes to narrow at him.

“Move your hand, Officer Ruta. I want to leave. Now.”

The force in Link’s voice startles the officer. They stand there staring at each other, not speaking. Link’s barked order almost echoes in the tiny office. If Ruta doesn't move his hand… He can't fight a police officer. He'll be trapped here for sure, arrested probably. Link just keeps his brave face on and glares up at Ruta. Something must jar in the officer’s mind. His hand falls away, sliding down the wood, but he doesn’t step back. Link’s brave face relaxes as he pops the door open. There’s not enough space to open it all the way, so Link squeezes between the small crack Ruta’s body allows.

Link doesn’t look back as he makes straight for the door he’d come through with the man. The older officer at the receiving desk tries to bid him farewell, maybe tries to fire a question at his back. Link doesn’t stop until he’s out of sight of the police station’s front windows. He almost trips as he stops on a dime and considers something. Officer Ruta had acted so strangely, so vastly different from what Link is used to. Would he try to follow Link in order to get him to talk?

Link shivers in the cold morning and ducks into an alley. Ruta could easily figure out which way he’d gone from the police station—left or right. For now, Link cuts through the alleys in order to take the long way back to Ganon’s club. Link’s bravery carries him that far, but it leaks from him the moment he’s safely back in the club. Back pressed to the front door by the bar, Link slaps a hand over his mouth to muffle his frantic breaths.

He can’t forget. He can’t wipe from his mind what had happened last night. Officer Ruta towering above him just now… And the aggression, the turn in his voice… Link keeps a hand over his mouth as he speed walks past the bar and into the hallway that leads to the back of the club. Ganon’s office is as he’d left it, and Link locks himself inside it again. His free hand nudges Ganon’s desk chair back in front of the door.

Multiple safety measures set, Link stumbles to the desk and crawls back under it, still wearing his shoes and coat. Back to the solid mahogany of the inside of the desk, Link curls up under his sweetheart’s blanket and tries to muffle his gasps and hiccups. Hours may pass before anyone arrives, before Ganon discovers him here. But under Ganon’s desk is safer than his apartment right now. Even if Ruta suspects he’d run here, he cannot reach Link here. That’s the truth Link holds fast as he drifts off, exhausted from his run in with Officer Ruta.

The tumblers in the lock clicking open jolts Link out of a dead sleep. There's no telling how long he'd slept, only that it hadn't been restful sleep. Link holds his breath as the door opens and immediately bangs into Ganon’s desk chair.

“What the hell…”

It’s Ganon. Link doesn’t immediately pop out, though. Ganon always has a weapon on him somewhere and isn’t the type who reacts well to surprises. Ganon huffs and grumbles while shoving his chair out of the way. He pauses, straining to hear who is in the room, who has done this. Link desperately doesn’t want to hear the safety of a gun flick off. Ganon hates brandishing them around Link, bans his employees in the club from wearing them in the open. But now that Ganon is on guard and listening for someone else, Link doesn’t mind making a little bit of noise. Tapping his shoe on the wood of Ganon’s desk at least lets him know where the intruder is. Not that Link thinks of himself as such, but Ganon still doesn’t know it’s him.

“Who’s in here?”

“Me,” Link calls back.

Ganon sighs like he’s dropped his shoulders. His clothes rustle before he walks towards the desk and then around. With a hand supporting him, Ganon bends down and peeks under. He finds Link bundled up on the floor, blanket pulled up to his nose. All traces of annoyance melt from Ganon’s face as he shuffles fully around the desk and then slowly sinks to his knees. A groan slips out of him, and Link thinks he hears something inside Ganon pop.

But the moment Ganon is within reach, Link shoves his cocoon down and throws his arms out for Ganon. Link flops onto his side while straining for his sweetheart. Ganon snatches him up and drags him out from under the desk so they can hold each other properly. Link burrows through the open front of Ganon’s coat in order to be closer to him. One heavy arm holds him tightly around his back. The other cups the back of Link’s head and stills some of his frantic nuzzling.

“What happened?” Ganon growls into his hair. “Why were you under the desk? How long have you been here?”

“My apartment. It… someone…” Link grits his teeth in order not to scream. It builds up in his stomach, threatens to burst, and then subsides after a few seconds. “When I got home last night, I had a drink and fell asleep. I… I woke up a little later, and someone was on top of me. In my bed.”

Ganon’s fingers in Link’s hair tense up and pull on the strands. Link gives a tiny whine, because it hurts and he’s tender headed, but Ganon doesn’t let up.

“Who was it?” He asks without an ounce of warmth in his voice. “Tell me who, Link.”

Link shakes his head and tugs on Ganon’s suit jacket until a thread threatens to give.

“I don’t know! I didn’t see his face. I couldn’t move, couldn’t think straight.”

“Was it the person who is breaking into your apartment? I had people there after you arrived, and they didn’t see anything.”

“Please believe me,” Link begs him. “Please. I was messed up somehow, something in the orange juice, but… But it happened. It was real. Ganon, please, please believe me, I’m not lying!”

“Orange juice?”

Out of all of that, Ganon’s mind had hung up on Link rambling about the orange juice.

Link nods hard enough to toss his hair around.

“I-I wanted to sleep last night. I haven't been sleeping well since I told you about all this. So I made a drink before bed. It… tasted funny. Very salty, just… wrong. I think it was the orange juice. And now I'm scared to eat anything in my apartment.” Link lets out a single, hysterical laugh. “I mean, I can't sleep in my bed, can't eat my food. You must think I'm crazy, that I'm making it all up.”

“Hush,” Ganon nearly barks into his ear. “I believe you. I’m on your side, Link. You have to tell me who it was.”

Link slumps against Ganon and gives a feeble shake of his head.

“I don’t know. Honest. I went to the police to report it, but…”

Ganon scoffs above him and goes about petting Link’s hair he’d just messed up.

“Why the hell did you go to them? They’ll never find the guy, never give you the justice you deserve. I’ll kill him. Did he touch you? Rape you?”

Link’s stomach gives a lurch at the easy way Ganon asks that. This whole time, he’s tried not to think about that part, the end.

“I… I don’t know,” he lies, unable to repeat what had happened. “I woke up, and he was on top of me. I couldn’t see anything, couldn’t move. He knew my name and said it while he… Well, while he was in my bed. And then he left before I could do anything. I went to the police this morning, but Officer Ruta was there and—”

“It was him, wasn’t it?” Ganon holds the back of Link’s head too tightly again. “I knew it. Nosy, fucking cop. I’ll kill him, don’t worry about anything, I’ll—”

“No, no!” Link shoves them apart to throw a desperate glance Ganon’s way. “I don’t know if it was him. I just tried to report it, he was there, and I… I ran away. He was in a bad mood or something, he was very tense, and he’s not normally like that. But I don’t know for sure it was him.”

Ganon’s mouth is a thin line as he stares hard at Link. They don’t lie to each other, don’t keep secrets. Link withholding the part about his assailant masturbating over him isn’t exactly lying… But Link tugs on Ganon’s coat, needing him to believe the part about Officer Ruta. As much as the man had frightened him this morning, Link cannot say with 100% certainty that it had been Ruta in his bedroom last night. He can’t let Ganon kill someone on a hunch. His conscience would be rife with grief and regret, even over the murder of his persistent admirer. Link still holds fast to his opinion of Officer Ruta: the man is just lonely and overly friendly. He’s harmless.

“What do you want me to do? What can I do to make you feel safe?”

Repeating his demand that they live together almost bursts out of Link’s mouth. But Link knows better than to say that. He’s never seen such a stormy, dark thundercloud over Ganon’s brow. He’s fully ready to kill, probably with his bare hands. Link has never witnessed such a thing—Ganon murdering anyone. He’s accidentally walked in post-execution, but otherwise, Ganon does everything in his power to keep Link away from that. And after staring at the spattered brain matter of someone who hadn’t been worthy of Ganon’s group, Link is rather thankful for that mercy. It’s not an experience he wishes to repeat. Link swallows his stomach back down and cranes up on his knees. He kisses Ganon’s cheek and loops his arms around Ganon’s neck when Ganon holds him tightly again.

“Officer Ruta… I don’t want to see him again. I don’t want him here. Please.”

Ganon’s facial hair scratches against Link’s blond locks as they cuddle a bit on their knees. Ganon doesn’t lighten up his crushing embrace of his little love, not after hearing about what had happened last night. The temptation to make Link take a break and not sing tonight presents itself, but Ganon doesn’t go that far. Link would fight him anyway.

“Done,” he grumbles. “He’s banned. Permanently. I’m increasing the security around your building, too. I won’t let this happen again, Link. I promise.”

“I don’t blame you,” Link says softly. “It’s not your fault. It’s not anyone’s fault.”

Ganon sits back far enough to return Link’s earlier kiss.

“You’re too kind. I would be furious and knocking heads off if I were you.”

“Good thing you’re not me.” A hopeless laugh accompanies that statement. “If you were me, you’d be crawling under someone’s desk and falling asleep, because you’re too scared to sleep in your own bed.”

Ganon holds Link’s head with both his hands. It’s not a tight hold, just something intimate and oddly gentle from the larger man. Link knows Ganon is capable of infinite kindness, surprising levels of gentleness. No one would believe him, though. Link covers the backs of Ganon’s hands with his just to feel him. Maybe he’ll sleep better tonight, knowing Ruta is banned and that more of Ganon’s men will watch over him. Sleeping in the tub is still an option.

“I hate that you feel this way,” Ganon admits. “I hate that I’m helpless to make you feel safe. Like nothing I can do can help.”

“I feel safe with you. I always have.” Link pets Ganon hands as he pauses and gathers his words. “Your men are an extension of you. They won’t let anything happen to me. They know what you’ll do to them if they fail.”

Link doesn’t mean that to sound so dark and threatening. But it’s the truth. Ganon has executed some for less. Link offers Ganon a weak smile and presses his cheek into the man’s palm. He wants Ganon to offer for them to spend the night together. Link might actually sleep if Ganon were beside him. But tonight will be another late night for his sweetheart. It would only upset Ganon and maybe start an argument to point out that he would benefit from them going home tonight. Link drops his hands so that Ganon can let him go and stand. Ganon immediately offers Link both his hands as an aid to stand up, which Link takes. They stand in each other’s space for a moment, holding hands and just feeling each other.

“I won’t let anything happen to you, Link,” Ganon murmurs before bending down to kiss the top of his head. “I promise.”

Link believes him. What other choice does he have? If he doubts Ganon, then can he truly believe in anything? Link keeps that in mind as morning turns to afternoon and then to night. He’d already told Ganon that tonight’s performance will be short like the others. Link is running on sugar with a little bit of coffee by his last song. Another hour of this would see him collapse on stage.

Two things make this night easier to bear. One is that Ganon stands in the parlor the whole night, back behind the bar with his eyes meeting Link’s any time Link needs him. The second thing is that as promised, Officer Ruta does not claim the table in the middle of the room. Some young men, probably from the fishery at the harbor, take up his normal table. They watch him with shy smiles and cute blushes, reminding Link of his doorman Hank and his elevator attendant Dean. That bit of happiness carries Link through his last song and the time it takes for him to dress down. Ganon waits for him at the bar when he finally emerges in simple clothes and his coat.

Ganon slips a flask out of the inside pocket of his suit jacket and hands it to Link.

“Here. You’ll sleep well with this. And there’s no chance of it being tainted.” Ganon flicks an eyebrow up at him. “Your fridge and cabinets will be empty when you get home. I had them cleaned out and every bit of food thrown away. I’ll have someone take you shopping tomorrow. Or make up a list at some point and someone will do it for you.”

Link accepts the flask, although he isn’t entirely married to the idea of drinking himself to sleep tonight. Arching up on his toes with a hand on Ganon’s arm for balance, Link kisses his cheek as thanks.

“I love you,” Link says with a smile. “If anyone is going to take me shopping, it should be you.”

“We’ll see.” Ganon holds Link’s arm in the crook of his elbow as they make their way to the door and up the stairs. “No promises. It all depends on how easily I can sort out this mess I’ve been dealing with. I’m tired of these long nights.” Ganon pauses as they reach the car to tip Link’s little head up by his chin. “I miss you. I want us to have a night together, like we used to.”

If Link had an ounce of bitterness in him, he might point out that their separation is Ganon’s fault. But he can’t do that. He’s exhausted and just wants a tender moment with Ganon for once. It seems like they’ve done nothing but bicker until this week. He misses Ganon, too.

“I’d like that. I’d like that very much.” Link steps towards the open door of the car. “I hope I see you tomorrow when the car shows up. I miss doing things with you. I miss you.”

Ganon steps close long enough to take Link’s chin in hand, tilt his head up, and press a soft kiss to his lips. It's the first kiss he's had since last night, since the stolen one. Link wants to reach up and hold Ganon fast and hard to him, but his sweetheart ends their kiss before anything can happen. Ganon doesn't immediately stand back up to his full height, though.

Brushing the sides of their noses together, Ganon’s voice rumbles from deep within his chest when he says, “I love you, Link. I know I don't say it enough. But I love you. More than anything.”

Link has to bow his head and stare down at their shoes. If he looks at Ganon’s open, vulnerable face, he won't be able to climb in this car and go back to his apartment.

“I know. I know you love me. Thank you for saying it, though.” Link tips his head back up to shoot Ganon a watery smile. “You always know when I need to hear it.”

Ganon nods and shuts the door with a soft click once Link is inside. He stands at the curb, hands in his pockets, until Link can’t see him anymore. Link stays twisted around in the seat with his cheek smashed into the headrest. Wishing for things to be different is silly. If things were not exactly as they are—Ganon the head of some underground organization, Link a small-time lounge singer who had caught his attention years and years ago—then Link is sure his life would be miserable. It had been miserable before Ganon. The danger and drugs don't make it better, but Ganon does.

Link sighs as lights flash behind his closed eyelids, the car speeding past streetlights and other cars. He doesn’t wish everything were different. Just the little things. Link loops back on his constant desire of wanting to live with Ganon, to wake up every morning with him and for Ganon to be his last sensation before sleep. He’s never slept better than when he’s with his sweetheart. Link’s stomach turns at the thought of spending another night in his tub. He just can’t face his bedroom or bed. Not yet.

Mr. Venture rolls the car to a gentle stop, and Hank trots up to open the door for him. Link expects to see a henchman or two of Ganon’s waiting for him. He’d issued the extra security this morning. But no, it’s only Hank’s handsome smile and chipper goodnight that greets him. Dean is the same, just more subdued than his twin, like always. The flask Ganon had handed to him at the club is cold in Link’s hand, both tucked away in his coat pocket. He clutches it in his sweaty palm and concentrates on the slosh of liquid inside it. He wishes someone were with him right now. He doesn’t want to be alone in his apartment. Maybe he should take Ganon up on the joking offer of getting him a dog…

Link fights his sticky lock—which he now suspects is actually broken or tampered with—and nudges the door open. The lights are already on, a sign someone else has been here. Ganon’s henchmen, either from earlier when they’d cleaned out his cabinets or now because they’re still here. They wouldn’t know about his habit of saving energy and turning the lights off when he’s not home. Link leaves his keys on the same hook as always, changes his routine and takes his shoes off now along with his coat. They both end up in the tiny closet to his right. Nerves tight in his stomach, Link rubs warmth into his upper arms as he steps quietly down the hall. He can’t escape the feeling that someone should be waiting for him here. That’s what “extra security” means to Link. He also just doesn’t want to be alone right now. As Link reaches the end of the hallway, mouth open to call out to anyone, his eyes land on the sofa. Something draws his eyes down to the floor. He stares at an outstretched hand peeking out from behind the couch.

Knuckles white with fright and clutching the front of his shirt, Link freezes in the hallway. From this distance, he barely makes out the black sleeve and gold cufflink in a suit jacket. It could be anyone, but Link can’t help but imagine every crony of Ganon’s he’s ever met. Ganon makes sure they dress smartly, all in black suits and white dress shirts. Gold cufflinks in the shape of a D for Dragmire. Is… Is that one of Ganon’s henchmen? If he’s on the floor like that, not moving, then he must be dead. Link’s blood runs cold at the thought of the intruder still lingering somewhere in the apartment. Link covers his mouth with a hand and takes a step into his living room. A light flicks on in the kitchen to his left, and Link muffles his own scream.

“I thought I heard someone come in,” Officer Ruta says with a smile, washcloth in one hand and his pistol in the other. He rubs it down, a practiced movement he doesn’t watch himself perform. His eyes are fully on Link. “Welcome home, darling. You’re early.”

Link glances at the still hand peeking out from behind the sofa.

“Officer Ruta, um…” Link shuffles on his feet, wanting to turn and run but knowing that’s not an option, now. “What brings you by? Is something wrong?”

“Wrong?” Ruta pauses in his casual cleaning of his gun. His mouth puckers like he’s tasted something sour before he says, “I suppose not. I just wanted to check on you. You ran away from me so quickly this morning…”

Link nods and blurts out, “I’m sorry. I made a mistake, and didn’t need to, um, file that report anymore. I’m all right, really, I just want to go to bed and—”

“I didn’t see you tonight,” he cuts Link off while tossing the wash rag on the kitchen counter. Ruta holstering his weapon does nothing for Link’s tense shoulders. He turns wide, wild eyes on Link shaking in the living room. “I thought we might discuss what happened to you last night, but when I arrived… I wasn’t allowed in.”

Link squeezes his own fingers to try and rub warmth into them. They’re like ice on his chest as he watches Officer Ruta leave the kitchen and walk towards him. There’s nowhere for Link to go. So he stands there, frozen to the spot.

“The man at the door was rather insistent that I not be allowed in. Which I think is strange, seeing as how that’s never happened before.” He stops right in front of Link, hands relaxed at his sides. His voice takes a turn, something desperate clawing from deep inside him and needing out. “Why, darling? Did you not want to see me? I’m sorry if I scared you at the station this morning. I didn’t mean to, I promise.”

When Ruta lifts a hand to pet at Link’s hair, Link jumps back. He almost bounces off the wall behind him in his haste to avoid the officer’s hand.

“Don’t! Don’t touch me!”

One corner of Officer Ruta’s mouth twitches at Link’s denial. It’s like Link has knocked the needle off a record, and it takes Ruta a second to reset everything.

“Link…” He says Link’s name with a breathy laugh, but there’s no humor in it. “You’re acting so strangely. You know I would never hurt you. Please, let’s talk about—”

“I want you to leave,” Link bites out. His back is to a wall, but he won’t stand for this. “You have no right to be here, and I want you to leave. Now.”

Link’s shoulders hunch up around his ears as Officer Ruta reaches for him. It’s a slow, gentle sort of motion. Link thinks to smack Ruta’s hands away, but he’s caught between them before he can set that plan into motion. Ruta holds him tenderly, like Ganon had earlier while they talked. Link’s fingers tangled in his own shirt spasm before he throws them out and flattens them on Ruta’s chest, trying to push him away. Ruta just draws him closer, pulling Link’s head up until his neck nearly strains.

“Stop fighting me,” he breathes with wide, honey eyes that don’t blink enough. “Why are you always fighting me? I just want to protect you and take care of you, darling, why won’t you let me?”

It’s probably not the best idea to argue with Officer Ruta right now. Something has knocked loose in him, and Link doesn’t like how wide his eyes are. He’s used to shy smiles from the man, cheeks blushing when Ruta asks him out. None of that is here right now. Link swallows hard between his hands and shoves at his chest again.

“I-I never asked you to. I told you no over and over.” Link grits his teeth and closes his eyes as he almost shouts, “I don’t want to be with you. I don’t want to go out with you. I don’t! And I never will!”

Link’s world flips on its head as his feet leave the ground. It only takes a wild jerk of Ruta’s hands to topple Link’s shaking legs and spill him onto the floor. Link’s head bounces off the hardwood, and he sees stars. The next time that he blinks, Ruta has sunk to his knees and bends over him. Link smacks his hands into the floor and tries to crawl away, but the officer throws a leg over Link to straddle him. Link turns his sharp, painted nails on Ruta instead and claws at his face. He gets one shot in and gouges three lines in the officer’s right cheek. Link sees stars again when Ruta backhands him across the face, blow exchanged for blow. Link gasps for breath as Officer Ruta hovers over him and holds his spinning head in his hands. Link’s ears ring like a gun has gone off directly next to him. When he tunes back into reality, it's to Ruta’s lips kissing all over his face and the man’s frantic voice pitched high while he repeats himself.

“No, no, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, oh Link please, my darling, my sweet one, please, I didn't mean to, please...”

Link’s shoulders hitch as his fingers claw into the wood floor under him. He's back in his bedroom again, back in his bed with all the lights off. A stranger kneels above him, steals kisses and tender things from him while defiling him with an act of passion. Link forces his eyes to stay open, lest the blackness of his eyelids send him back to that exact moment and force him to relive it. Ruta sits up after a moment and catches Link’s wide, terrified eyes. All Link sees is his red hair and the red of his blood welling up in three lines on his cheek.

“You,” Link whispers. “It was you, last night…”

Ruta’s pretty mouth screws up in rage. Warm hands that had cradled Link’s head moments ago wrap like a vice around his neck and squeeze. Link jerks under the officer and scrambles at the man's fingers. He can get out of this, had been taught by Ganon how to escape someone choking him. However, Ruta’s fingers don't budge an inch when Link tries to pry one up to bend back. Ruta sits on his stomach, too, rendering his kicking legs useless. Link gasps and strains under the tight grip on his neck. Black spots blot Link’s vision like blood on paper as he tries to slap at Officer Ruta’s blank face. All traces of his fury have left, leaving behind nothing but this evil intent. Link’s fingers catch in Ruta’s uniform shirt as they fall back to the floor, strength abandoning Link fast. His hearing turns into a high-pitched whine as Ruta squeezes him harder and harder. Maybe something breaks, or maybe his neck gives in. Link isn't sure about anything as his eyes roll back and everything fades away.

Chapter Text

Half of Link is cold, and half of him is warm. That's Link’s first sensation when he rises above unconsciousness. The next is a head splitting pain behind his eyes and a throbbing in his neck. Had he slept wrong? Had he taken Ganon’s offer of alcohol and drunk himself stupid? That's not like him. He’s also not in the habit of falling asleep with jewelry on, and yet a thin chain bites into his neck. The bathtub under him is surprisingly plush. He doesn't remember crawling into bed. Link tries to move a hand to hold his head, but it doesn't do much more than jerk. Frowning with his eyes still closed, Link tries to remember the last thing that’d happened to him. Mr. Venture had driven him home, like always. He'd passed Hank and Dean, walked into his apartment… Link tries his hand again, wanting to block out the light shining from somewhere. It hurts his eyes and feeds more pain into his headache. Why can't he move his stupid hands?

Link shivers as the warmth blanketing his back shifts. Nothing makes sense right now, especially the arm thrown over his waist. He hadn't gone home with Ganon last night. He clearly remembers Hank and Dean. The rest is a mess in his head, but he'd returned to his apartment last night. Alone. A chest rumbles against his back as whoever is with him hums and hugs him tighter. Link startles a bit when lips trail lazy, wet kisses down the back of his neck and across one shoulder. Is he shirtless? Link wiggles under the arm looped around him, and his skin brushes against skin not his. His knees and thighs mess up the bedding under him. He never sleeps naked. Not unless he's finished a sweaty, heavy evening with Ganon and they pass out after some kisses and cuddling. But the shape behind him is all wrong. It's not warm enough, heavy enough. The chest pressed to his back isn't nearly hairy enough. Link draws in one breath. And then another. More and more until his eyes are wide open, staring at an unfamiliar wall as he hyperventilates.

“Shhh, Link, it’s all right,” the saccharine voice of Officer Ruta murmurs in his ear. “You're safe, now. I'm here, my darling.”

Link tugs harder on his hands and finally sees why they don't budge. Black leather surrounds his wrists and his lower forearms. The leather keeps his hands side by side, and a pair of handcuffs with a long chain between the cuffs attaches his hands to the bed in cold steel. The chain between the police cuffs is stretched to its limit. Standing from the bed is possible, but not much else. Link just breathes harder with an edge of desperation as he yanks on his hands hard enough for the leather to bite his skin.

Ruta sighs behind him and reaches up to flatten Link’s bound hands to the bed. Link struggles harder, throwing his whole body into it. The chain at his neck catches some peach fuzz between the links and pinches him. Judging by the weight dragging the necklace down to the bed, Link guesses Ruta’s pendant has found its way back around his neck. Link struggles harder. Every jerk of his head increases the pressure behind his eyes and fuels his headache. But he has to get away, has to escape, he can't stay here!

“Link, stop. You're being difficult right now.”

“L-Let me go!” His voice breaks as he pleads. “Please, Officer Ruta, let me go. You can't keep me here!”

Another sigh blows over the cold sweat on the back of Link’s neck.

“I wish you would call me ‘Sidon,’ Link. We've known each other long enough to give up formalities.”

“Sidon,” Link pleads, desperate enough to appeal to the man’s affection for him. “Please, let me go. I won't tell anyone what happened. People will be looking for me, worried about me. You can't keep me here.”

The hand holding his wrists down twitches before removing itself. Ruta shuffles behind him and returns his arm to hold Link around his waist. Link’s shoulders hunch up to protect his neck from wandering kisses. His stomach jumps under the hand splayed above his navel. Ruta pets him like that might comfort him, which it doesn't. If Link’s hands were free, he'd put a swift stop to that. He'd do a few other things, mostly involving Officer Ruta’s face meeting his fists and nails, but what's the point of thinking “what if?”

Link squeezes his eyes shut and tries to calm down. Where had this madness in Ruta been all along? Until Link had stumbled upon him cleaning his gun in the kitchen, Link hadn't thought the man capable of even drawing it. Oh, and the poor fellow who had fallen to Officer Ruta’s madness… Link grits his teeth with his eyes still shut. He wishes Ruta would quit petting him, stop kissing him tenderly like this is normal.

“Please stop,” Link says once he breathes a bit calmer, isn't on the verge of passing out. “Let me go.”

Ruta sighs after another kiss and murmurs lowly, “I wish you'd stop saying that. It's upsetting.”

“Upsetting?!” Link thrashes harder as his temper flies out the window. “ I'm upsetting you ? You strangled me and kidnapped me! If anyone should be upset, it's me!”

Ruta shushes him and rocks them a little, trying to soothe Link’s shrill outburst.

“I'm sorry, Link, truly I am. I never meant to hurt you, I just… I panicked. I didn't mean to hurt you.” Ruta hugs him tighter from behind and buries his face in the nape of Link’s neck. “I just wanted us to be together, but you won't stop fighting me. Just let me take care of you. I'm meant to, don't you see?”

Panting hard from flailing uselessly in Ruta’s arms, Link bites out through his teeth, “Let me go.”

Link nearly bites his tongue as Ruta’s arm flies up to wrap around his neck. Ruta’s bare arm traps the necklace’s chain to Link’s throat and helps cut off his air. An impression of the thin chain will just add to the finger marks. The pressure also irritates those bruises, left there earlier by Ruta strangling him. The chain connecting Link’s leather bonds to the cuffs jingles and strains as he pulls on it. He wants to claw at Officer Ruta’s bare arm, but he can't reach. Blood pools in Link’s cheek as he struggles, but Ruta’s arm only grows tighter. It's not enough to make him black out like last time. But Link’s heart leaps into his throat and sticks there. He doesn't want this again, doesn't want to wake up to more madness. So when Officer Ruta’s lips caress Link’s ear, he stops struggling and listens over the roar in it.

“It doesn't take much to suffocate someone,” he says like a fun fact. “The human neck is actually a fragile area, but most people don't think about it.” His arm tightens a little bit. “I don't want to hurt you, darling. I didn't want to earlier, and I don't want to right now. I love you. I've always loved you. But you keep pushing me.”

Link strains and whimpers as Officer Ruta increases the pressure enough to bloom black spots in his eyes. He whines as much as he can, and then the pressure lessens.

“You push and you push… I have to push back at some point. So please. Stop asking to leave. I don't want you to leave.”

Link nods in the tight embrace of Ruta’s arm wrapped around his neck. Anything to stop this. Ruta takes his nod as submission and returns that arm to hold Link around his waist. Link wants to reach up and cradle his bruised throat, but he thinks better on it. Resisting will get him nowhere. He… Link swallows back a hot ball of emotion as a plan comes together in his head. He has to make it back to Ganon, has to approach this problem with a level head. Link flips a switch inside himself and begins to bury his aggression towards Ruta. That won’t help him right now.

“I… I'm sorry,” Link rasps. “I'm scared is all. I don't know where I am, what you're going to do to me.”

“I've already told you,” Ruta says, voice full of cheer like he hadn't just choked Link again. “I'm going to take care of you and keep you safe. We can finally be together.” Ruta’s arm squeezes Link’s waist, and he cuddles up close to Link’s back. “I understand now why you said no so many times. If your audience thought you were involved, they'd want you less. It's so obvious now. You only felt comfortable kissing someone outside the club without anyone else around. I have to admit that seeing you kiss that man set me off a bit, but…” Ruta sighs into Link’s neck before kissing the soft, tiny hairs there. “You needed to keep yourself safe. And if you had to kiss him to do so, I can forgive that. And now we’re safe, Link. No one will find out about us here.”

Link stares at the wall at the edge of the bed. It’s all he can do once Ruta’s voice trails off. He can’t deal with the words yet and instead focuses on his surroundings in order to not hyperventilate again. Ruta has the bed shoved into a corner. He takes up the spot near the edge, keeping Link between him and the wall. It's cold over here with only a tiny window near the ceiling. It reminds Link of the transom windows in the club. It's in the basement of a building… Ruta’s apartment, or wherever the hell this is, must be in a basement.

Link deflates a bit. No one will hear him scream down here, which he'd planned on the second Ruta leaves him alone. He has to go back to work eventually. And what's all this nonsense he's spouting? Link doesn't care if his audience knows about his relationships. He doesn't advertise his with Ganon purely because it's dangerous. Ganon had taught him how to escape handcuffs and someone strangling him for cases where someone might kidnap him and use him as leverage. Link just… hadn't thought he would ever need it. Had Ruta seen him kiss Ganon before leaving the club? Had he been lurking in the shadows, waiting to ambush that vulnerable moment between club and car? Link draws in a shaky breath and turns to smother one side of his face in the pillow.

“What are you going to do to me?”

Ruta just keeps holding him and petting him, kissing him sometimes. Link wants to shrug the crazed man off him, but he'd rather not add to the growing bruises on his neck. Or worse “push” Ruta into something more violent. He refuses to die here. That's the worst-case scenario, right? He argues and fights with Ruta like they had in Link’s apartment, the man goes too far, and Link ends up dead. Link grimaces at the thought and tucks it away. He won't go without a fight. The scratch on Officer Ruta’s cheek proves that much.

“I told you,” he says with a lick of impatience in his mellow voice. “Take care of you. Love you. I want to make you happy and be with you. I know you must be caught in some trouble, working in a club with a reputation like that. You're obviously in a desperate situation, and it breaks my heart to see you so lonely and tired all the time.”

Scowling at the wall, Link forgets himself and spits out, “I'm tired because you keep breaking into my apartment! I can't sleep with you stalking me!”

Ruta’s voice is that of a child who knows they've done wrong, but wants to twist things to seem like they were ignorant about it.

“I… I wouldn't call it ‘stalking.’ I just wanted to know more about you and be close to you. You wouldn't let me take you out, so…”

Link cranes his head around with a frown on his face and points out, “So you stole my clothes and masturbated on my underwear?”

Like this, he catches the embarrassed blush that darkens Officer Ruta’s cheeks.

“I-That was a mistake! I never intended for you to find out. Or see what I'd done. I just… It's difficult to be in your apartment, be so close to you, and yet be so far. You hold me at arm’s length, darling. I just want to take care of you and love you.” Ruta huffs and adds after a moment, lying there pouting, “I just wanted something to remind me of you. I would apologize, but it wouldn't be truthful. I'm not sorry for that. For some things, yes, but not that.”

Link thins his lips into a line and turns his head back around. There's no getting through to Ruta like this. Maybe not at all. He doesn't see what's so glaringly wrong with his actions. Link shivers and curls up on his side of the bed. Ruta has to leave at some point. And Link isn't sure he can break the leather cuffs on his wrists… But he can charm and plead his way out of them, he bets. A few tears, some begging… Besides, tied up like this, what the hell is he supposed to do when he needs to use the restroom?

Link gags a little while thinking about that. Officer Ruta wouldn't humiliate him like that. Link isn't sure about much when it comes to the man, now, but… Humiliation like that must be out of the question. Ruta just doesn’t seem like the sadistic type. But Link had been wrong about the harmless part. Link curls up on himself even more. It's a little better in terms of his shivering. It's cold in this basement prison, and there's no blanket on the bed.

“Oh, you're shivering…”

Link rolls his eyes, but says nothing. Ruta cuddles up closer behind him and takes to nuzzling his hair. Ruta’s lips catch on the necklace sometimes, but he just kisses right over it. Grimacing, Link rolls more into his front. He's not interested in cuddling or anything Officer Ruta wants. What he wants is to leave. That's not possible right now. Link knows he needs to take baby steps right now. A blanket is a good start. To get that blanket, he’ll have to play nice. Kiss up. Link bottles a sigh while thinking about where to draw the line for simple things like clothes, food… to use the bathroom. But first, the blanket. Shivering until he passes out from hypothermia doesn't sound appealing.

“Off—Sidon, um… I'm cold. Do you have a blanket?”

The nuzzling of Link’s hair pauses as he says, “You can turn this way, and I'll warm you up.”

Link shivers harder, unable to not hear a suggestion in Ruta’s voice. There's probably not one there, but…

Link squirms under his arm and says, “It’s very cold in here.”

“I'm here,” Officer Ruta points out, like he's some sort of space heater. “You're not warm enough with me?”

Link’s heart jumps at the sadness in Ruta’s voice. He has to keep the man happy and distracted from his subterfuge. That's the only way Link is going to escape. He has to play the game.

Link peeks over his shoulder, heat in his cheeks just because of the chill, and says, “A blanket over us would be nicer. Haven't you wanted to do that? Cuddle with me under a blanket?”

The image Link sews into the officer’s mind must appeal to him. His cheeks light up as well as his eyes before Officer Ruta nods so hard that his hair bounces around his face. The hand lying flat on Link’s stomach swoops up to hold his jaw while Ruta covers his face in kisses. Luckily for both of them, he never tries to steal a kiss from Link’s lips. Link would bite him on principal, and then his whole plan would be out the window before it’s begun. Still, Link squeezes his eyes shut and tries to crane his head out of range. Ruta only pauses his onslaught in order to rain down praise upon his captive.

“That’s a wonderful idea. Of course I’ve thought about it. I’ve wanted to hold you and kiss you for so long, Link. I hope you’ll let me.”

“You already did,” Link grinds out, still leaning his head away.

“Oh… I suppose I did, yes… Um, Link I… I hope I didn’t hurt you that night.”

The hand holding his jaw twists around so that Ruta can pet Link’s cheek with the backs of his fingers. The pendant must catch the light, because Ruta abandons his cheek to cover the pendant with his palm. His skin warms the silver and sapphires, especially with it sandwiched between them. It’s more like a brand than a pendant at this point. A brand or a collar.

“I just… I thought you’d sleep all through the night. I just wanted to hold you for a moment, pretend like you were mine. Just for a little while. I didn’t mean to… hurt you or scare you. I hope you’ll forgive me in time.”

Link steels himself and gathers all his charm inside him in order to do what he has to. It's difficult to roll onto his left side without his hands, but he manages with a few hops. Link’s new position takes up all the chain length he has, so he keeps his hands tucked under his chin. The pendant rolls with him and attracts Ruta’s gaze. Link doesn’t smile back at him. Instead, he shivers again as the wall behind him throws off cold air in waves that lick up his warm back. His knees hurt from how cold they are, and he draws great joy from tangling his chilly legs with Ruta’s. Link doesn't mean anything sexual or romantic by it. He's cold, damn it! Ruta takes his cuddling as something sweet, though, because he shoots Link a soft smile and settles down to hold Link. Link stops him with a hand on Officer Ruta’s collarbones. He doesn't apply pressure, doesn't want this to be misconstrued as an act of resistance. Ruta pauses and waits for Link to speak with the same, shy smile he usually gives Link.

“We can do that, if you want.” Link tips his head in order to spill a lock of hair in his eyes. He scoops it away and adds, “I'll kiss you if you get a blanket for us. Please?”

Ruta’s face falls a bit, which isn't what Link expects to happen. Link’s heart skips a beat in panic.

Slipping a hand between them, Ruta pets along Link’s jaw with the curl of his knuckles and asks, “Do you want to kiss me?”

The question derails Link a bit, and he just lies there while a warm hand caresses his jaw. Of course he doesn't want to. He can't let Ruta think that, though. That doesn't follow the theme of his plan, which is charming this mad man and then getting the hell out of here. Link scrambles for something to say as the silence stretches on into the awkward.

“Not if I'm uncomfortable or in a bad mood. And being cold like this…” Link bows his head a little and nuzzles his jaw against Ruta’s fingers. “I don't like being cold. I'm much happier while warm. And if I'm happy, then I'll want to kiss you. Does that make sense?”

Playing dumb might help. Link turns his head away from Officer Ruta’s hand and rubs his cheek into the pillow instead. It shouldn't take this much to get a damn blanket. Why had Ruta stripped him in the first place? Link has to dig his nails into his palm to stop himself from flinching. He can't think about Ruta touching him in his sleep again. The man has already done that once. There's no escape for Link this time. Not yet.

Ruta sighs and nods a little.

“That does make sense. Would you like anything else while I'm up? Are you hungry? Thirsty?”

Ah, but what will be the cost of such things? What can Link get for free?

Squirming a bit, Link mumbles, “Water would be nice.”

Ruta nods without saying anything else and finally untangles them. The cold lurking in the room like ravenous wolves descends on Link the moment Officer Ruta stands from the bed. Link curls up tighter, but keeps his eyes open in order to watch Ruta leave. If he heads to the kitchen for a glass of water, then that direction will surely be closer to the front door of wherever this is. Link assumes it's Ruta’s apartment. The easy way Ruta moves here, the way the bedding and pillows smell like him… Link grimaces when he realizes he now knows what Ruta smells like. It's not the same as smelling his cologne or aftershave. It's just… skin smell, salt, and something that's him. It's not unpleasant. Link just wishes he couldn't pinpoint that exact scent.

Officer Ruta reappears with a glass of water, which Link sits up to take. Link has to hop closer to the headboard in order to make slack in his bindings. Sat on his right thigh with his legs curled up on the bed, Link nearly moans at the splash of water on his lips. Time is still a mystery to Link. It's light outside, but he doubts Ruta strangling him earlier had knocked him out the rest of the night and then until some time past dawn. How else has he arrived at a new day, then? Link drains the glass and sighs as he lowers it. This whole time, Ruta has stood at the edge of the mattress and watched him. Honey eyes roam over his nakedness, and Link slips one thigh higher in order to cover himself. He'd glare at the man, but he has a role to play. And glares aren't part of it. At least not when Ruta might see them. So with his plastic smile in place, Link leans forward on his legs to return the glass to Ruta. He sits on his thigh again once the handoff is over. He'd tried to avoid their fingers grazing and failed. Oh well.

“Thank you.” Link reaches up to hold himself as the cold continues to bite at him. Throwing a sad glance Ruta’s way, Link asks, “And the blanket?”

Officer Ruta startles in his feet, nearly fumbling the glass, and blurts out, “Oh yes, sorry, I'll um, I'll go get it. Be right back!”

The privacy here must relax Ruta in some way. He's normally so controlled when they run into each other in the club, so perfectly put together. He probably doesn't have to keep the act up anymore, now that he's got it in his head that Link is “his.” Link shakes his head and hops close to the long handcuffs holding him captive. There has to be a weak point on them somewhere. Perhaps the best plan of attack, if he cannot convince Ruta to release his hands at some point, is probably where his leather cuffs connect to the metal ones. A silver ring between the leather cuffs holds them together, and through that ring the pivoting arm of the metal cuffs goes through and locks him to the whole thing. That metal ring will be the weak point. Perhaps he can chew threw the leather, maybe wrench his arms until it bends and rips…

Officer Ruta grunts as he reappears in the doorway, blanket overflowing from his arms. It's thick, fluffy. Hopefully clean. Link sits up again and gives an inpatient wiggle. Ruta’s eyes glimmer at him over the fluffy lump, like he thinks Link freezing in this prison is cute. Link’s ears even catch the little chuckle Ruta gives before casting the blanket over the bed like a net. It floats down, and once it’s within reach, Link snatches up an edge and burrows into it. He thinks about hogging the damn thing, seeing as Ruta must be comfortable enough in only a pair of white briefs. But it's past the time to play hard to get. He'd already done that, hoping his reserved attitude might eventually drive the man off. Clearly, Ruta is incapable of being driven off. So, Link shares the blanket as Officer Ruta slips back into bed with a sigh. It's already warmer under the blanket just from Link’s shivering body, and the heat only increases with another. Link almost hums at the way his skin tingles as it soaks up warmth. Ruta’s hands, arms, and kisses return, however, and Link bottles the pleased noise. He can't have Ruta thinking it's for him.

“Mmm, that's better,” Ruta hums into Link’s hair. His arms slip around Link and scoop him up. “Are you happy, darling? Is this what you wanted?”

Link nods where he's pressed tightly to Ruta’s chest. It's not the most comfortable position with them facing each other, what with his bound hands and all. Link sighs and wiggles to turn over. Ruta just holds him tighter.

Frown pinching his face, Link murmurs, “I want to turn over. My arms hurt like this.”

Space blooms between them as Ruta leans back some. Link glances up and finds the man watching him with the shy smile he's used to. Oh. He probably wants the kiss Link had promised. Link squashes the nerves in his stomach making it twist and ache. He sits up enough to kiss Ruta’s cheek. He perks up the moment Link’s lips touch him. Before Link settles down again, Ruta’s head turns quick enough to catch the corner of Link’s mouth in a lopsided kiss. It's a gentle peck, one snatched out of desperation. Link finally lets out the sigh he'd held back and lifts his hands to cup Ruta’s jaw.

The man flinches, probably remembers how Link had clawed at him without remorse. But he allows Link the caress, and Link guides Ruta’s head to the correct angle for them to kiss. This is what he'd probably wanted—an actual kiss, not the coy, throw-away thing Link had tried. Link’s insides jump at the hungry groan that vibrates against his lips. Ruta’s arms around him tighten, and the weight beside him shifts a little on top of him. Link takes a moment to cradle Officer Ruta’s lips with his, but that's as far as he'll go. So when the warm swipe of a tongue wets the seam between Link’s lips, he opens just enough to nip it. Ruta jumps above him and backs off, stares at Link with wide eyes as they part.

“You bit me…”

Link thins his lips into a line in order to chase the sensation of their kiss away.

“You ought to ask someone before kissing them like that. It's impolite.”

Ruta sinks closer, his surprise melting away under Link’s scolding tone. Their foreheads bump together, and Officer Ruta’s eyes slip shut.

“I'm sorry. I've wanted to kiss you since the first moment I laid eyes on you, darling. I'm just so happy that you're finally here with me, that we can be together.” He leans back enough for them to look at each other. Their breaths mix to make the space between them humid. “Can we again? I want to kiss you and hold you so much, Link. Please?”

The honesty and rawness of Ruta pleading with him… Link’s insides squirm again, just like the other times Officer Ruta had asked him out. If Ruta were anyone else, Link would have been nervous to say no. But with his pretty face, his well-groomed hair, it had been easy to deny the man over and over. Link has never faced such blatant desire for him. It's written all over Ruta’s face, twitches in his hand that holds the small of Link’s back. Ruta’s tenderness and affection for him would be touching if not for the kidnapping, the murdered man in Link’s apartment, and everything else Ruta has done. Still, the desire is genuine, if a bit crazed. Link swallows hard and prepares to tread carefully. He has to decide now what he will allow. Ruta might take his permission too far, thinking it allows… other things. Link’s eyes slam shut as he shivers. He'll do whatever it takes to get out of here. If that includes submitting entirely to the officer, then…

“Okay,” Link forces out, peeling his eyes back open. “But… Only kissing. I… I'm still scared of what you might do. I don't want you to hurt me.”

Ruta shakes his head hard and pulls Link close to kiss his forehead and hair.

“No, no, Link, please. I would never hurt you. I… I have made mistakes recently, but please know I would never put my hands on you against your will. If kissing is what you'll allow, then I'll gladly take it.” Ruta backs off again and holds Link’s left cheek in his hand. “I've waited so long to have you, my sweet. Give yourself to me when you're ready. I'll have you.”

Link can't stop himself before he says, “I want to believe you. But you've already touched me against my will. You were in my bedroom, Sidon. I saw you.”

That touches a raw nerve, just like when Link had wheezed on his living room floor before Officer Ruta choked him into unconsciousness. The handsome face so close to his twitches for a split second, screwing up the gentle expression plastered there. Link would pinch himself if he weren't sure a slap to the face is probably coming his way. However, Ruta draws in a slow, deep breath through his nose as he closes his eyes. It's an exercise to calm whatever anger Link has stirred up in him. Link sees Ganon do it all the time. Link holds still as the grip around his waist tightens. Heart out of control, Link tries to keep his breaths even. Ruta will have to come at him with his gun in order to dominate any sort of altercation. Link’s feet are blessedly free of bonds. He'll fight back if anything happens.

“I have apologized for that,” Ruta says tightly, eyes still shut. They open to reveal just a sliver of gold. “If you had just given me a chance, a moment to prove myself, it wouldn't have happened. I'm not entirely at fault for that night, Link. I am a man of my word, and I wish you would trust me.”

Link almost runs his mouth again, but he swallows his bitter words before they crawl out of his mouth.

“I-I want to trust you. You can prove yourself now.” Link tilts his head up for a kiss, even closes his eyes so he doesn't have to watch. “You can kiss me again.”

He's presented his face, made it open to attack. At this point, Link isn't sure what Ruta will do. His moods flip like a leaf skipping on pavement in a breeze. Impossible to nail down or know where exactly it will go. Link remembers not to grind his teeth or clench his jaw. It will only hurt him more if Ruta turns violent again. Anything can happen, so Link jumps and whines a little when soft lips press against his. He’s still half on his back, half on his right side. But Ruta rolling towards him to firm up their kiss has Link flat on the bed.

Link’s arms end up smashed between them, creating much needed space. Officer Ruta’s weight on top of him jolts Link’s heart into high gear. He just remembers lying in his bed in the dark, intruder above him. Only his arms between them, creating that little space, prevents Link from slipping back to that exact memory like he had on his living room floor. Link bottles his panic responses to Ruta on top of him and just trades soft kisses with him. This isn’t so bad. It could be so much worse. Officer Ruta keeps his word and doesn’t try to deepen their kisses or anything else. The firm line of him pressed to Link’s stomach, only Ruta’s white briefs separating them, tells Link everything. Link’s knee is ready the moment their bodies rock together or Officer Ruta tries to rut against him.

The spread of Ruta’s weight on top of him shifts as the man sits up. That ends their kisses, and Link lies there while trying to control his breathing. He doesn’t particularly like being pinned under Ruta like this. Ruta’s weight pinches his arms, and then forces Link’s hands hard against his collarbones and the pendant. But really, if the man wants to rape him, what defense does Link have? Ruta has made it obvious twice before now that he’s not afraid of scaring Link into submitting to him. Link berates himself for giving the man any of his attention, for not asking Ganon to ban Ruta from the club the moment they’d met. Link sighs and closes his eyes under the strong wave of regret. His best course of action now, rather than lying here and pitying himself, is to coax Ruta into trusting him, bend the truth a bit, and escape. Link shivers at what he’s about to do.

Eyes peeking open under the cover of his bangs, Link murmurs, “You can… touch me a little. If you want. Prove to me that you won’t hurt me, that I can trust you.”

“You can, you can,” Officer Ruta nearly pants. He wiggles a bit on top of Link, pressing his erection more firmly to Link’s stomach. “I promise, you’ll see. I’ll take care of you, Link. I love you, you must know that, right?”

Balanced on both elbows, Ruta pets at Link’s face and hair with his hands. Link doesn’t fight it, but his insides do. They flinch and sour under his flesh. Link keeps his expression shy and coy, just like when he’s on stage. The weight on top of him shifts as Ruta situates himself farther down Link’s body. Face tucked into the side of Link’s neck, Ruta sighs and hums while kissing him. He’s fond of Link’s neck, and Link wishes he knew why. Such knowledge would not help him right now, so Link turns his head to the other side and puts it out of his mind.

His cooperation receives thanks in the form of needy kisses and Ruta’s hands falling to his hips. Strong hands squeeze him and hold him still, even though Link has no intention of rocking with Officer Ruta or rubbing himself on the man. He might get hard, yes, but it won’t matter. Link keeps his eyes closed and concentrates on each breath rushing in and out of his nose. The only thing that breaks that concentration is Ruta panting in his ear and talking.

“Oh Link, you don’t know how long I’ve wanted this, how long I’ve thought about this.” He breathes hard in Link’s ear for a moment, perhaps trying to control himself, before he asks, “Are you comfortable? Am I too heavy for you?”

Link gives a tiny shake of his head, not enough to bash his skull into Ruta’s nose.

Officer Ruta takes that as a sign to continue. Link had said “a little,” and it’s up to Link to decide where the line is. At this point, Link allows Ruta to guide his hands up until they lie above his head, still bound together. Such a position exposes Link’s naked body that isn’t covered by Officer Ruta. The basement prison is a bit too cold for this, and Link’s skin tightens immediately. He’s warm from his hips and down. Link bites the inside of his cheek when Ruta’s weight on him strains his knees a bit. This position is unnatural, will feel better if he opens his legs and allows Ruta between them. Link squeezes his thighs tighter together at the thought. He’ll have to at some point. Ruta won’t be satisfied with some kisses and a few lovebites. He’d knelt on top of Link in the dark and masturbated over his drugged body. Link knows he wants more.

For now, more is just bites, kisses, and moans painted into the pale skin of Link’s chest. Ruta carefully leaves the pendant he’d gifted Link in the hollow of his throat. That clears the way for his masterpiece of bruises. Having scooted down Link’s body, Ruta lies in the perfect spot to mark Link up. Link sees this for what it is: possessiveness. Ganon does it, too, the only difference being that Link wants him to, welcomes Ganon’s teeth to him. Link jumps and bottles noises to every nip to his skin, every harsh, bruising suck that follows.

Each swallow reminds Link of the necklace clasped around his neck. He still hopes the chain hasn’t left a mark. He’ll be a mess once this is all over, but he has no intention of hiding what Ruta does to him. Ganon will be… Furious isn’t generous enough of a word. Link shivers in the phantom heat of that rage. It’s not even here yet, and Link tries to curl up all the same. He’s seen Ganon truly angry, tear apart an office and screaming himself hoarse. He’s also seen the quiet, truly dangerous anger. That one is much more terrifying. Link isn’t sure which Ruta will have to face.

“Link, are you all right?” Ruta asks between kisses across his chest. “You’re so quiet and still. Am I hurting you?”

Link thins his lips into a line and whispers, “Just cold is all.”

Ruta sits up, shoves some red hair out of his face, and asks, “Should we stop? I don’t want you to be uncomfortable again.”

Stopping wouldn’t further aid Link in his plans. So, head turned to hide his face in his arm, Link throws his legs open and says, “Lie back down. It’s cold without you.”

Ruta says nothing while taking Link up on his offer. His hips are slim and firm between Link’s thighs, body a pleasant weight on top of him. Like this, Ruta presses his face back to Link’s neck like before and groans while bearing down on him. If the circumstances were more sane, Link might lift his legs and wrap them around the officer. He can’t bring himself to do that, and instead flattens the outsides of his thighs to the bed, leaving himself totally open. It is warmer with Ruta on top of him like this, but at what cost? Link shivers hard under him at the first roll of those slim hips against him. Ruta has gone a little soft without much contact, but he firms up quickly with the friction between them. Still, Link doesn’t stop shivering.

“Darling, are you still cold?” Ruta pants against his neck, rocking the bed a little with his movements.

“Yes,” Link grits out.

His skin doesn’t know any better. Weight on top of him and a body grinding into him feels good. It’s just friction and pressure. Still, it takes everything in Link not to whimper or give any sign to Ruta that this feels good. Concentrating on how cold the surrounding room is distracts Link from that fact. Ruta pauses the roll of his hips in order to sit up. Link keeps his eyes shut, unsure of what’s happening and also not wanting to know. The blanket beside them rustles. Next, Ruta's warmth and weight return to him, and that body heat lingers around them. Link cracks an eye open and finds that the officer has dragged the blanket over his back, trapping their combined body heat in a bubble. Ruta smiles at him and kisses Link’s cheek when he catches Link’s surprised expression.

“Is that better? I’d like to kiss you more and continue, but only if you’re comfortable.”

Still shocked at Ruta’s sensitivity and attention to him, Link nods while staring over his shoulder. Ruta hums against his neck and lies back down on top of Link, situating his hips right back between Link’s thighs. The warmth is appreciated, only now Link realizes he’s messed this up. There isn’t much left to distract him from this without the cold. Link hides his face in his arm again and wonders what to do. Ruta probably won’t stop this biting and rutting nonsense until one of them comes. Maybe not until both of them.

Stomach a mess, Link recalls a time before his life with Ganon where he’d have to make nice with men of ill repute. He’d have to be sweet to them, sit in their laps, do them favors. Oh, how his luxurious life with Ganon had made him forget. Link tries to calm his rebellious stomach while planting his feet flat on the bed to give him leverage. The first rock of his hips to meet Ruta’s draws a deafening moan out of the man.

His mellow voice breaks as he moans, “Oh darling, yes, please move with me. Link, you feel so good. Please, my sweet Link, oh please…”

Link bites his lip while throwing his legs around Officer Ruta and squeezing the man’s hips with his thighs. Link’s back will ache later from this, but if he at least gets Ruta to come, then it might be over. Link rocks his hips up, almost off the bed, in order to drive his body harder against Ruta’s. The officer still has his briefs on, but they don’t do much to protect Link from the wet spot forming in the front. At least their privates aren’t touching. Link counts that as a win, although he shudders under Ruta to think that this is only the tip of the iceberg. Link presses his face harder to his arm while matching his captor thrust for thrust, giving Ruta exactly what he’d pleaded for. Link allows that, but refuses to unlock his teeth from his lip. He won’t give Ruta any noise, not a hitch in his breath.

The teeth nibbling along Link’s collarbones turn vicious as the snaps of Ruta’s hips ramp up. They rock the bed together and rattle Link’s chain with their movements. The pendant bounces a bit on Link’s neck, too. Link shoves his head into the pillow under him to block out Ruta’s long, loud moans. He’d bark at the man to hurry this along, but if Link relaxes his teeth sunk into his lip even the slightest amount, he’ll moan. Link concentrates on the pain of his teeth in his lip and how sometimes Ruta thrusts against him too hard, pinching a nerve somewhere in Link’s hips. The pain is freeing. And along with Link’s ears blocked by the pillow and his arms, Ruta’s boisterous moans come through muffled. Link can almost tune the world out as he once had to do… Before Ganon. Link’s stomach clenches harder than ever at the thought of his sweetheart. How worried, how furious he must be. He must blame himself for—

“Link! Oh, Link, yes!”

Ruta stills on top of him, except for tiny jerks of his hips. Link unhooks his teeth from his lip and keeps his face firmly hidden in his arm. Thinking about Ganon has unraveled some of his bravery. He could cry right now, if not for his audience. At least, if things turn out badly, the last thing they had said to each other was words of love. Link tries not to think about that or how things could have gone differently that night. It does him little good to think of such things. Instead, Link focuses on swallowing the lump in his throat and dropping his legs back to the bed.

It’s still plenty warm around them even when Ruta sits up, thanks to the blanket. Link doesn’t look at him right away, too messy inside to face this. But a warm, shaking hand pets at Link’s cheek, and Link forces himself out of the safety of his arm. Ruta sits up some, supported by one hand sunk into the bed. His face is all aglow, eyes bright from his orgasm. Some of his red hair sticks to his forehead, and he nudges it away by ducking his head towards his bicep.

“Thank you, darling, that was wonderful. Better than I ever could imagine.” Ruta swoops down to kiss Link’s lips. “I’ve dreamed about us together, about us in this bed. I’m so happy that you’re here.”

Link sucks down a shaky breath, but says nothing. If he speaks right now, the lump in his throat will betray him. He’ll break down and cry, and then Ruta will fuss over him and demand an explanation. Link can’t, not right now.

Ruta shifts some more to look between them. He frowns and mumbles, “Odd. I thought I felt you come just now.”

His head tips back up to see Link trembling and biting his lip. Confusion, a lick of anger, and then realization all pass over Ruta’s face. He hums with a flirty smile on his face.

“Darling, if that wasn’t enough for you, just say so. I want to take care of you.”

The hand still thumbing at the blush in Link’s cheeks slips down, down his pale skin to brush against his cock. It’s not hard anymore, but Link still flinches at the gentle touch. Ruta must think this is some sort of game, or that Link wants more. Link slams his eyes shut and sinks his teeth into his arm, now. His lip won’t withstand enough with Ruta’s hand wrapped around him, stroking him. Link muffles his sounds into his arm as best he can. He’d just wanted Ruta to come and for this to be over. His orgasm doesn’t matter!

It must to Ruta in some skewed way, because he makes sure to twist his wrist on the upstroke and squeeze on the way down. His grip is perfect—as if this isn’t the first time he has jerked Link off before. Link chokes on his next breath at that thought. Had Ruta snuck into his apartment and touched him on more than one occasion? Link can’t be sure, but his panic and racing mind try to convince him. Link squirms under Ruta’s hand and tries to think of anything else.

He’d almost broken down over thoughts of Ganon moments ago, but now Link clings to them. Everything will be all right. He’ll escape, find Ganon at home or at the club, and then it will all be over. Link whimpers into his arm as his hips give a ridiculous, tiny jerk up. After this, no one but Ganon will ever touch him again. He’ll keep Ganon trapped in their bed and forget about all this while holding on to his sweetheart for dear life. Ganon will hold him gently, kiss him, and whisper sweet things to him while making him forget. This orgasm means nothing. The pain of Link’s teeth in his arm is sharp like needles poking him, but it washes away as he finally comes in Ruta’s hand. It means nothing, he tells himself. His body clenches to the waves of his orgasm, but it means nothing.

Link keeps his eyes closed as Officer Ruta’s messy hand pulls away from him. Link is too out of it to spare the hope that Ruta doesn’t wipe the mess on him. Or worse make him lick it up. It wouldn’t be the first time. The bed under Links shifts a bit as Ruta reaches for something on the nightstand. The soft fwip of a tissue yanked free of its box attracts Link’s attention. He opens an eye just in time to watch Ruta wipe his hand clean. Next, the officer cranes his head back to glance at his underwear. The front is slightly darker from where he’d come in them.

Huffing, Ruta flips the covers back and shoves himself off the bed. He doesn’t fix the blanket to keep Link warm, but he also doesn’t go far. A dresser sits against one wall, and Ruta yanks open the top drawer for clean briefs. Link watches him step out of the dirty pair, nudge them towards the hamper in the corner, and then step into the clean ones. All messes accounted for, Ruta nearly dives back into the bed and gathers Link up. The lovebites painted up and down Link’s chest complain at such movements, but Link says nothing.

“Oh dear, you’ve bitten your arm,” Ruta says once they settle. He lightly pets over the teeth marks, but stops when Link flinches. “Darling, you don’t have to be quiet with me. I want to hear your beautiful moans. Please don’t hurt yourself like this again. All right?”

Ruta’s voice takes an edge to it at that point. Link swallows hard where he’s tucked under the man’s chin. He’ll get nowhere with Ruta like that. Next time—Link shudders to think about the next time—he’ll just have to keep his mouth shut and choke on the sounds. He refuses to give them to Ruta.

“Okay. I-I’m sorry. I don’t like being loud like that.”

Ruta kisses the top of his head and holds him tightly while sighing, “Nonsense, my sweet one. I want to hear you. I want us to make beautiful sounds together while I have you. I look forward to you growing comfortable enough with me to allow that. I’ve wanted you for so long, Link. So long…”

Link shivers hard in Officer Ruta’s arms. The madness must have been there from the start, only brought to the surface by Link’s repeated rejections. Link’s stomach turns at the promise of more in Ruta’s words. Link just repeats to himself that none of this matters, that it will be over when he finds Ganon. He’ll be safe, then, and can forget about all of this. He can tear off this necklace and never have to see it again.

For now, fighting the chill that has sapped his strength until recently, Link settles in to sleep beside Officer Ruta. At least while they’re asleep, Link can relax. And if he lies awake while Ruta sleeps, then he’ll work on his plan for escape. Gaining Ruta’s trust has already begun. Link just counts on the man’s absence in the near future. Ruta has to return to work eventually. He has to leave at some point. He has to.

Chapter Text

On the dawn of Link’s third—or so he thinks is his third—day of captivity, he stands in the shower with Officer Ruta behind him. He has Link in a pair of standard, police-issue handcuffs. The necklace remains secure around his neck. Link makes sure to keep all the metal warm and wet, lest the chill in the basement apartment creep in and bite at his flesh. His wrists ache after being stuck in the leather cuffs for two days. He suspects this is day three only because he wakes sometimes and hears a far-away clock chime. It’s not in Ruta’s apartment, but perhaps the flat above him. Link keeps time that way and wishes Ruta wore a watch. That would make his time tracking easier.

Link sighs in the shower as gentle, familiar hands wipe a soapy rag over him. He’d begged Ruta for a shower, or just a pot of water and soap to wash his hair. Anything. Link stands here under the spray and isn’t sure yet what the payment for such a mercy is. He’d paid in the past days for a few other things: a shirt, a book to read, to accompany Ruta into the kitchen. His body is sore from so many lovebites, and his ass aches a bit too from Ruta’s curious exploration of him. Link judges rather sourly that Officer Ruta has never fucked another man, never been fucked himself, or never grown curious about his own body. It had been… fumbling around at best. Messy. Unsatisfying.

“Are you all right, darling? You’ve gone quiet again, and you’re shivering.”

“Just… Just cold is all.”

Link’s soft voice, softened further by disuse over these past days, barely echoes in the tiled bathroom. Ruta hums behind him, sets the cloth aside, and then curls both arms around Link. His hands flatten low and possessive on Link’s body, covering some of the marks he’s made. Link keeps still even as Ruta stoops down behind him and mouths at the back of his neck. Like the past few days, he pays no mind to the thin, silver chain while kissing Link’s skin. Officer Ruta had swept Link’s hair over one shoulder earlier to wash him and now takes advantage of Link’s neck.

He’s done so for the past days, too, attracted to that skin like bees to flowers. It starts off like that, too—gentle, wandering pecks. Ruta just testing his skin. But eventually lips and teeth swarm over him until it’s chaos and purple bruises everywhere. Link startles a little on his feet at the first press of teeth through water and his skin. They’d left the bed after more experimenting. Link wishes the space and inherent danger of bathroom accidents would give him some reprieve.

One of the hands on his belly slips down a bit, and Link blurts out, “S-Sidon, please don’t. We’ll fall…”

“If you’re cold, then I’ll warm you up,” he says like Link is being silly about all this. “We’ll be fine, my love, I’ve got you.”

His right arm tightens around Link’s hips to prove his point. The moment fingertips pet over the blond hair above Link’s cock, Link stumbles and leans heavily on Officer Ruta’s chest. The man grunts in his ear and slips around with Link’s weight in his arms. Link would smirk to himself if he wasn’t sure they’re about to spill themselves on the floor. Ruta stops his insistent pawing of Link’s body and slaps that hand to the tile wall beside them. That steadies their slippery footwork, and Ruta holds them still to make absolutely sure they’ve stopped. Link huffs like he’s put-out about this, and frowns over his shoulder at Ruta. The man shoots him a sheepish smile in return.

“All right, I admit it’s a bit unsafe to fool around in here. I’m sorry, darling, I’ll stop.” Ruta kisses Link’s cheek turned towards him and nuzzles him for good measure. “Let me finish washing you, and we’ll get back to bed.”

Ah yes, payment for his bath. Link turns around to hide his hard swallow. At least they’ll be clean for whatever happens. That had been part of the reason Link begged for this. Before this, during their last bout, Link had smelled his own sweat and recoiled at how tacky his skin was. Due to the lights from the club and all his movements while singing, he usually showers once a day, every other day at the most. So to lie in bed for two solid days and not having bathed the day Ruta took him… Link clasps his hands together in front of him and is just happy to be clean again. Touching Officer Ruta and submitting to him is just that much harder when Link knows his skin is tacky, his hair oily. He wouldn’t touch himself in that condition, so to have Ruta fawn and obsess over him like that first day… Link shivers again.

“I’ll be done soon, my sweet Link, please be patient,” he chimes in with a laugh. The rag returns, freshly covered in soap, and slides across his ass. “Stand still for me, and we’ll be out of here sooner.”

Link wishes he could brace his hands on the wall while Ruta cleans him. That would definitely make their positions more stable as the washrag and Officer Ruta’s hand glides between his cheeks. The rough material pets over Link’s hole, down behind his balls, and then up and out. Ruta isn’t done with him, though, and returns without the rag. Link’s shoulders jump up around his ears as fingers run gentle circles around and around his entrance before pushing inside. Ruta has a bit more finesse with this, and Link now expects his inexperience. It hurts less, now. Ruta now knows to go slow, to not force himself deeper and to pay attention to Link wincing or whimpering. Although Link doesn’t like to think about it, he’s thankful that there’d been blood the first time. Office Ruta had panicked over it and promised to do better next time, to never hurt Link like that again. It had been a small price to pay to teach the man a lesson.

Link shivers at the gentle in and out thrusts of fingers in him. It’s so oddly gentle, not what he expects every time Ruta reaches for him. Link has to remind himself that Ruta “loves” him and wants to “take care of him.” He’s gentle because of that. Still, Link remembers the rough and insistent hands of others who had thought he owed them something just for breathing. Ruta isn’t violent like them, doesn’t threaten to smack him and punch his teeth down his throat. It’s only when Link “pushes” him does some of that madness creep into Ruta’s handsome face.

Yesterday or so, Link had expressed reluctance to allow Ruta to hand feed him. He’d asked the officer to untie his hands and allow Link to feed himself. The more he’d pleaded, the more Ruta’s mellow disposition evaporated, leaving nothing but a hot skillet behind. It had only taken Officer Ruta slamming his fist into the table, cracking it somewhere, for Link to relent. He’d taken that as a sign that the man isn’t comfortable letting him loose, yet. Link had also taken that as a limit to Ruta’s temper. Link must keep his bargaining in check, or perhaps the next time that fist will strike something else. Ruta hasn’t harmed him since that first day, but Link keeps on edge regardless.

“How does that feel, my love?” Ruta’s eager voice pants in Link’s ear. “Good? I’ll take my time when we get back to bed, I promise.”

Rather than say anything and risk his voice breaking, Link just nods and forces his body to relax. He’s out of practice in that facet, since Ganon always takes his time, knows exactly how to pet and prod Link into writhing on their bed. Link misses that king bed, misses the king who sleeps in it beside him. Link’s eyes sting, but to lift his hands to rub at them would draw attention to himself. He’ll see Ganon again. Soon. Link clings to the fact that Officer Ruta has to leave his apartment at some point. Without a job, he cannot make money to support himself, let alone a captive who needs food and a running furnace. Gas isn’t cheap. Link wishes his mad captor would at least turn the thermostat up a bit. Ruta has never offered him more clothes than a shirt, and that was only because he could not hold Link while they spent time in the kitchen. Link had paid for that favor on his knees, had the sore throat yesterday to prove it. Ruta had proved himself to be an… overly eager participant in that act. Swallowing still hurts even now.

“Go slow,” Link reminds him lowly. “The more time you take, the better it feels for me.”

Ruta understands that now. Link had to explain to the officer, calmly and a few more times later, that he resists and fights more if Ruta causes him pain. If Officer Ruta wants a “willing,” cooperative participant, wants to take care of Link as he’d said, then he needs to understand how this works. And after that terrible, awkward fumble the first time, Link had needed to drive that point home. The blood had helped. Link explaining how much sex hurts without preparation, accompanied by some crocodile tears, had finally sealed it for Ruta. He’d promised with kisses and a voice full of sorrow that he would follow Link’s instructions and slow down next time. Each time with his captor has been easier, softer than before. Ruta likes to hold him close, pet his hair, and kiss him while they have sex. Link would appreciate such softness if they were together, if he weren’t here against his will. It just makes him miss Ganon more.

The water shutting off and the cold sapping the steam jolts Link back to reality. The cuffs at his wrists and the necklace chill almost immediately. Ruta is behind him with clean hands that guide him by the shoulders up and over the tub. When Officer Ruta had stopped toying with him, Link isn’t sure. He tunes out during those times and thinks of his escape or Ganon. Link often clicks back into reality with Ruta panting above him, face blissful and body still between his thighs. Besides when Officer Ruta is sleeping, it’s the only time Link experiences true peace. Ruta often floats for a bit once he orgasms, and Ruta holding him almost feels normal. Link cannot distance himself enough from reality or dive deeply enough into a fantasy in order to replace Ruta. He cannot replace Ruta’s slim, fit body with Ganon’s. They’re far too different. Instead, Link occupies his time under his captor with thinking about the future. It’s day three of this nightmare. Ruta has to go back to work at some point.

Link stands there, still and relaxed, as Officer Ruta gently towels them dry. He’s especially careful with Link’s hair. He squeezes water out of the locks rather than rub a towel harshly over Link’s head. That would damage his hair but also might tangle the thin strands with the silver necklace. Link would hate to have to cut a knot out, since Officer Ruta seems completely against removing the necklace. Even for this shower.

Ruta makes sure to comb Link’s hair before attending to himself and repeating the process, only faster. He keeps Link wrapped up in a dry towel while reusing the damp one on himself. To trap his body heat from leaking into the bathroom, Link clutches the edges of the towel shut. That doesn’t stop him from shivering, since he’s still damp to the touch on his legs, and they’re still exposed. Soon enough though, Ruta turns to him with a dashing smile and tugs the fluffy towel free. Officer Ruta steps behind Link and guides him back to the bedroom. Ruta takes a moment to rip the old sheet off the bed, replace it with a fresh one, and then guide Link to lie down. He follows, naked just as Link is, once Link is comfortable.

Link presents his hands to change the cuffs and chain him to the bed. But Ruta draws him close and kisses his forehead.

“You’ve been so good to me, Link. So patient and lovely. Might I… treat you to something? So long as you play nice?”

Ruta slightly turns his right cheek towards Link, the cheek he’d mauled at the start of all this. But what sort of treat? Will Ruta set his hands free?!

Link tries to keep calm while nodding and mumbling, “Okay.”

Officer Ruta doesn’t change Link’s cuffs. Instead, he nudges Link onto his back and then kneels between his thighs. Ruta gathers the blanket around them and tries to make a little nest around Link to keep him warm. Link keeps his arms and hands in plain sight, leaving them gently curled up on his chest. He closes his eyes and cooperates when warm hands pet his thighs wider apart. They linger to caress him and squeeze him a bit. They're gentle around the lovebites dotted on his inner thighs. They move on once they’ve had their fill, though, and Ruta carefully takes Link’s hands in his.

Link only offers a flinch, unsure of what will happen. When Officer Ruta guides his cuffed hands up, he thinks maybe Ruta has reconsidered and will chain him to the bed again. Not so. Ruta shifts between his thighs, straining for something close by. The jingle of keys has Link’s blue eyes flying open, and they watch as Ruta inserts the tiny key and unlocks the cuffs. They come away slowly, as if Ruta doesn’t trust him. But Link leaves his arms exactly where they’d been placed. He won’t dare rebel against his captor right now. This is a sign of trust, and Link needs it.

Ruta lets out a long, slow breath through his mouth.

“You had me worried, my sweet Link. I thought for sure you might try to hit me again.” He places a hand over Link’s eyes while hiding the key. Link doesn’t hear a drawer open or the key strike a surface. When Ruta removes his hand, he places both on Link’s chest to pet warmth into his bare skin. “Isn’t that better? You can touch me and hold me while we make love, now. I wanted that from the start but…”

Link glances up at the three, healing lines in Ruta’s cheek. Ever so carefully, and while forcing himself to make eye contact with the officer, Link lifts his left hand up. He guides it slow and steady towards that injured cheek and pets under the marks. Ruta flinches just a bit, but reaches up to hold Link’s hand. He cups his cheek with their hands, Link’s on bottom.

“Oh Link,” he sighs, voice full of wonder and eyes fluttering shut. “This feels wonderful. Your hand is so warm and soft.”

Honey eyes open just a sliver as Link opens his mouth to say something. Link quickly swallows the words back down. Ruta shuffles closer to him until they’re flush together between Link’s legs. Tension winds a spring in Link’s stomach. In moments like these, when Officer Ruta looks down on him with that predatory gleam in his eye, Link has no idea what to expect. This is when some of the madness in Ruta comes through, and Link can’t anticipate what he’ll do.

Lucky for him, none of Ruta’s madness responses have been violent. The worst since the strangling has been Ruta biting him too harshly below one of his nipples. The marks still sting, even though Officer Ruta had taken great care to clean them and apply some sort of ointment. Link just hopes they don’t scar. Link puts the idea out of his head and instead focuses on pleasing his captor. Link offers him a smile and a twitch of his thumb on Ruta’s cheek, petting him.

“It does feel nice,” Link says with his smile turning shy. A bitter taste blooms in the back of his throat, but he must continue. “Do you want to… make love to me right now?”

A shiver runs through Officer Ruta before he guides their hands into the bed. He flips Link’s over and laces their fingers together. That done, he lies down and plasters their bodies together, making sure to rub himself against Link’s stomach a few times. He moans before smothering Link in a few kisses—lippy, mouthy things done out of desperation. Link closes his eyes to it all and keeps his mouth soft, lips parted for whatever Ruta wants. His captor is a bit too excited for this and ends up shoving their bodies together hard enough to hurt. Their teeth click at one point, and Link whines against him. Ruta pulls away then and finds his familiar place tucked to Link’s neck. He groans and pants between biting kisses to the already tender skin. His breaths warm the thin, silver chain of the necklace.

“Hold me while I make love to you. Wrap yourself around me and let me feel you, darling. It’s all I ever wanted, to feel your hands on my back and your body under me. Please, Link, please…”

Link does as asked and slowly wraps both arms under Ruta’s to hold him. To hug the officer around his neck might… not fare well for Link, so he opts for this instead. It must satisfy Ruta to some extent. His weight is firm and solid on top of Link as he lies fully down. It would be pleasant under willing circumstances. The skin of Ruta’s back is smooth and clean. Link digs his fingers into those firm muscles and skin just like the officer had wanted. Ruta moans louder and longer into Link’s neck and rubs them together a bit faster. Link holds on, even throws his legs up to grip Officer Ruta with his thighs. A few wet kisses below Link’s ear surprise Link, and he jumps in their tight embrace.

“Can I have you, darling? Please let me, you’ve been so wonderful, and I just want to make you feel good. I’m getting better, aren’t I? Please tell me you want me.”

Link nods in their tight embrace and pleads, “Be gentle.”

Ruta detangles them long enough to scramble for the oil on the nightstand. Link turns his head away and doesn’t watch the man slick his fingers up, doesn’t watch Ruta watch him back through each digit sinking into him. Link knows those honey eyes are on fire and feverishly bright while staring at him. Link won’t meet that crazed, hungry glance. Link tries not to bite himself when that’s over and the heavy weight of a cock shoves inside him.

It’s not as difficult to take physically as the first time, but perhaps even more so emotionally. Link had thought he’d escape by now… But he’s still here. The blasted police officer—thundering away above him and moaning his name—has barely left Link alone for these three days. Even bathroom breaks are monitored, the worst humiliation Link has suffered in awhile. Link swallows that bitter memory and holds on to Ruta like he’d wanted. The pendant gifted to him bounces around to the fast pop of Ruta’s hips into him. Link winces sometimes from the stretch and sometimes from the bite of the silver landing on his bones.

Ruta slips a hand between them to paw at Link’s soft prick while panting, “My sweet Link, oh you feel so good. Mmm, ah Link, please come for me, let me have you.”

Link holds tighter to Ruta’s back and grits his teeth. The warm hand pumping over him almost hurts. Ruta is in a rush to make him come, to make him catch up. Link knows it’s about to be over for Officer Ruta. He wishes he could insist that he doesn’t need to orgasm every time, but that argument would be futile. Sometimes he wakes to Ruta’s hand already fondling him, carefully exploring what makes him hard and what makes him moan with ease. That just reinforces Link’s fear that Ruta had broken into his apartment and molested him before that night. Mouth pressed tightly to Ruta’s shoulder, Link bottles a hitch in his breath as friction inside and out finally push him over the edge. He comes in the vice of Officer Ruta’s hand, hips jerking between them even as Ruta’s thrusts don’t stop.

Once the bed stops moving under him and Ruta lies heavy on top of him, Link opens his eyes. When Ruta had come, he’s not sure. He’s sweaty again, messy between his cheeks, and would like another shower. The day is still young, though, and this might not be the last time they’re together today. Link blinks up at the ceiling with Ruta’s warm skin on his lips and the man’s damp hair tickling him. Link could cry right now. He wants to cry every time Ruta is finished with him. But just like every time before, Link holds it in. Officer Ruta will fuss over him if he cries, and he can’t stand that. So, Link sucks in a long, slow breath through his nose and then exhales through his mouth. His calm breaths attract Ruta’s attention, and the officer hums in the crook of Link’s neck while kissing him between his words of praise.

“That was wonderful, darling. You’re so beautiful, so good to me. I’m going to miss you so much tonight.”

Link hunches his shoulder in order to block Ruta’s next kiss.

“T-Tonight? What’s tonight?”

Said by anyone else, Link wouldn’t think anything of Ruta’s words. But… The man has proved to be loose in the head somewhere, and Link worries about the ominous air in Ruta’s tone.

Officer Ruta sighs while shoving an elbow into the bed and lifting himself up enough to see Link’s face. Link doesn’t immediately meet his eyes, but he does once the silence stretches on.

Petting Link’s cheek with the curl of his knuckles, Ruta confesses, “Well… I have to go back to work tonight, darling. It’ll only be for twelve hours, I promise, and I’ll come right back home when my shift is over. I hate to leave you alone, but…”

Ruta looks on the verge of tears, so Link shakes his head and covers Ruta’s hand on his cheek.

“I-It’s okay, Sidon. I’ll be fine. I’ll wait for you to come back, I’ll be right here. I’ll wake up and… and you’ll come home.” Link forces a smile to his face, wanting to draw Ruta into the image. “We’ll be together then. I’ll miss you, but I’ll be okay.”

“Oh,” Officer Ruta sighs while nuzzling their cheeks together. “I wish I didn’t have to go back. I enjoy my job, I really do. It’s going to keep us apart so much, my sweet, and I’m sorry for that.”

“It’s okay,” Link repeats himself. His heart thunders out of control in his chest, but he maintains his composure. “The time will fly by when you’re looking forward to coming home. Just… wake me before you leave, so that I can kiss you goodnight.”

He almost says “goodbye,” but Link doesn’t need Ruta picking up on his excitement. Tonight. Tonight will be his escape. He should wait an hour or so to make absolutely sure Officer Ruta has left and isn’t skulking around, like this is a trap. But Ruta’s reluctance to leave and melancholy seem genuine. The man doesn’t strike Link as someone who is skilled at masking their true emotions. He hadn’t been any good at hiding his feelings for Link before the kidnapping, so…

Link steadies himself, cranes his head forward, and kisses Officer Ruta’s cheek. His lower back and ass protest such a movement, but he needs to seal the deal on this. Ruta stares at him with wide, shining eyes when Link lies back down. Link thinks perhaps the officer’s gaze flinches down to the sparkle of the pendant, but Link isn’t sure.

Licking his lips, Ruta gives a jerky nod at first, and then a few more. Link offers him a smile as encouragement.

“All right, darling, if you think you’ll be all right all alone… I hate to leave you, please know that. Every second without you will be agony.”

Link nods along and pecks another kiss to Ruta’s cheek.

“Why don’t we sleep for a little while?” Link suggests. He even pulls his hand away from Ruta’s to pat the bed. “Come here and cuddle with me. Everything will be fine, you’ll see.”

Officer Ruta lies down as Link suggests, but not on the bed. He rests his head on Link’s chest and clings to Link’s waist. Link doesn’t care. He’s too excited and tense to sleep. He lies there under Ruta for hours, aching in some places. Even when Link’s mouth dries out and he’s desperate for water, he doesn’t care. None of that matters. For now, Link focuses on staying calm and thinking his plan through.

He needs to account for Ruta’s madness in his escape plans. There’s no way Officer Ruta will leave him here unsecure. The doors and windows will surely be locked, but in ways Link cannot undo said locks from his side. Ruta would be a fool to not think Link will try to escape. More than once as Link lies under his slumbering captor, he glances at the transom window that beams sunlight down on him.

Is he thin enough to wiggle through the window? There are no bars, nothing securing the window shut besides maybe a lock on the inside. Link doesn’t exactly want to crawl out of the window like a corpse from a grave… But it’s not out of the question. For the escape, he needs to steal some clothes. Ruta might secure him within the room, but he cannot remove everything. Ruta’s dresser and closet will be his to ransack. Finding some money wouldn’t hurt, too, but that’s the next phase of the escape plan. Link breathes deeply like he’s asleep and moves on to his next problem.

Once he has clothes and secures an escape path… where will he go? Link’s first thought is to knock on the door of the flat above Ruta’s, but he doesn’t want to rope innocent people into this. Ruta might go running to his neighbor and ask about him. The man might be hanging by a loose thread once he finds out Link is gone. He might do something horrible to anyone he encounters in his mad search.

Link discards that idea. It’s unfortunate that he’s not sure where he is. And his escape will take place at night, so running into a store won’t be an option. He must be careful. Any suspicion he arouses might be reported to the police, right back to Ruta’s circle of influence. Link’s heart jumps at the thought. No. He mustn't think of that. Everything will go smoothly, no hiccups in his plan. Get dressed. Exploit an exit, the transom window as a last resort. Find a phone. Call Ganon.

Link drifts to sleep purely by exhaustion from his excitement and anticipation. He startles awake when Ruta leaves the bed, though. He’s never gone long, and Link only rises once with him to use the restroom and clean himself up. Back in bed, he lies there, relaxed and loose, and allows Ruta to touch him however he pleases. As the time draws nearer to sundown, Officer Ruta’s hands and mouth become desperate and mark Link up more than before. Link keeps his eyes shut to it all and responds quickly when Ruta asks him any questions in that frantic, manic voice.

It’s easier to play the game now than it ever has been. Link knows freedom is within his grasp. What’s a little more niceness thrown Ruta’s way? Link bides his time and makes nice while Ruta dresses in his uniform. It sours Link’s stomach a bit to see him in the uniform. He’d once said the man looked dashing in it. Now, Link can barely convince himself to look Ruta’s way. The man turns mournful, big eyes on him when everything is in its rightful place. Ruta glances at the leather cuffs lying on the nightstand. Link glances at them too and throws a desperate look Ruta’s way.

“Please,” he says softly. “Please leave my hands free. I might need to use the bathroom, or what if I kick the blanket to the floor in my sleep? You won’t be here to help me, Sidon. Please don’t tie me up. Please.”

Link has never begged so hard in his life. The tears that burn his eyes are real. If Ruta binds him to the bed like the first and second day… Link isn’t sure how he’ll escape. Ruta will surely take any cuff keys with him, and Link hasn’t had time to inspect the leather cuffs for weakness. They’d showed no weakness during his stay, and twelve hours may not be enough time to create a weakness. Link crawls to the edge of the bed and sits on his knees, staring up at his captor.

“Please, Sidon. Don’t leave me like that.”

Ruta wrestles with himself for a moment, face pinching in anger one second and then sorrow the next. Gambling it all, Link lifts his hands and rests them on Ruta’s chest. His uniform is pressed perfectly, fits him perfectly. The black looks stunning on him, even with his mouth twisted as he thinks. Link bows his head and then rests it between his hands. He has to sit up on his knees and lean forward to do so, but he’s willing to do anything right now.

Link’s shoulders give one hitch and then another as his mind screams for a way out. To Ruta, it will just seem like him crying over this handcuff business. Link sniffles and bites the inside of his cheek to control himself. Too much and Ruta might not think him sincere. Warm hands cup the back of his head, and then thumbs nudge under the curve of Link’s jaw to tilt his head up. A few tears squeeze out of Link’s eyes as he follows Ruta’s silent order. It doesn’t escape Link’s notice that those golden eyes watch the salty paths those tears cut down his cheeks.

“Please,” he begs again. “Please don’t.”

Ruta’s face crumbles a little, and he swoops down to kiss and nuzzle Link’s tears away.

“No, no, don’t cry Link, my sweet one, shhh.” Ruta’s hands clutch the back of his head as he cleans up Link’s tears. “Hush now. I won’t chain you to the bed. I won’t.”

“Really?” Link sniffles. “You won’t?”

Ruta shakes his head and stands back up to his full height. He swings his hip around the edge of the bed and picks up the leather cuffs joined with the ring between them. Link’s heart drops.

“Just these, my sweet, so I know you won’t hurt yourself while I’m gone. You can still reach the bathroom this way and get up. I know you’ll be safe with just these.”

Heart sunk behind his navel, Link bites his lower lip and nods. To argue with Ruta now is pointless. But this is better than being chained to the bed. He crawls on his knees to where Ruta stands and presents his wrists. The slide of the leather around them burns. The rasp of the leather tongue threading through the mini buckles on them make Link shiver. Finally, the tiny locks with their tiny keys clicking into place deafens Link’s ears. Ruta secrets the keys into his breast pocket and then holds Link’s hands in his.

Time tick by, but Ruta wastes it away by standing here in silence. Heart in a few pieces, Link glances up at him with tears still swimming in his eyes. Little emotion lingers in Ruta’s face when Link looks at him. Ruta releases his hands, but brings one of his own up to catch a tear and wipe it away. As Link cries silently, Ruta bends at the waist to capture his trembling lips. Oh yes, the kiss goodnight he'd promised. Link’s stomach twists so hard that he fears he'll be ill. But then Ruta stands and takes a step back. His face is still a blank slate, like he's turned off inside.

“I’ll be home soon, my love. Wait for me.”

Link stays on his knees in the middle of the bed as Ruta leaves him. Eyes softly shut, Link’s ears strain to catch the sounds of him unlocking the front door and then securing it behind him. Harder and harder Link listens to follow Ruta’s footsteps, the rumble of his car starting and then sputtering away. The apartment is still around Link, not even the heat is running right now. In the flat above him, the clock chimes nine. It’s dark outside, the cool of the night setting in deeper as it grows thicker.

Link sucks in a breath. Another. And then another until he can’t breathe over his crying. He folds in half and cries between his arms bound at the wrists. It’s the first time in three days he’s allowed himself to cry. He skips sobs and dives straight into hiccups hard enough to make him gag.

“Damn you,” he chokes out. “Damn you.”

Link lifts his bound hands and slams them into the bed.

“Damn you!” He shouts, shrill and broken.

There’s no chance Ruta’s neighbor will hear that. The person must be old or deaf since they’ve never complained about Ruta howling while on top of him. Link breathes through his mouth to catch his breath. Even that is difficult when a sob rips out of him every so often. Link’s knees slip slowly out from under him until he’s flat on his belly. He hides his face in the blanket, allowing it to absorb his tears. He cries himself dry and then lies there for a spell.

While he does so, he wants to alter his plans to fit this new predicament. But his mind is a mess and races too much for him to think straight. To sort it out, Link recalls the deep timber of Ganon’s voice, of Ganon calmly explaining to him how to break out of cuffs, how to strangle a captor with anything long enough to get around their throat. He remembers Ganon keeping him calm while they practiced with Link blindfolded. Ganon had bound him to a chair with a bag over his head, dazed a bit from Ganon spinning him around moments before. He’d cried a little through the blindfold, but Ganon had never left him alone.

“I’m right here,” he’d say behind and above Link strapped to the chair. “I’m right here, Link. You can do this. Calm down and get yourself free.”

Sniffling hard, Link turns his head to suck in air.

“I will,” he whimpers. “I will. I can do it. I can do this.”

Link takes a few minutes to just breathe. He rolls onto his back, hands on his chest, and breathes from the deepest pit of his stomach. Each breath unwinds the panic in him, the tension twisted into him by Ruta binding his hands. All is not lost. This is not ideal, but not impossible. When Link opens his eyes, the last of his tears spill down his pink cheeks. The apartment is as calm as when he’d started crying. The radiator kicks on under the transom window and fills the room with a little warmth. Link will wait until the clock strikes ten. Then, he’ll get up and start this agonizing process. He counts down his steps while lying there, gathering himself. Try to break the cuffs. Clothes. Money if he can find any. Try the front door. Next the transom. Run to safety. Call Ganon. He repeats that over and over, eyes dry, until the clock above distantly chimes ten times. With one more breath, Link opens his eyes and stares at the ceiling.

“I can do this,” he repeats without a whimper or warble in his voice.

Sitting up, Link brings his cuffs straight to his face. Ruta had left the nightstand lamp on, and Link hops towards it on the bed. He squints in the yellow light at the ring between the cuffs. It’s soldered shut. Scoffing, Link abandons that plan for now and stands. His eyes comb the floor for any sort of string or wire set for a trap. He wouldn’t put it past Ruta to do something like that. Maybe not to hurt Link, but to rat him out. Link doesn’t come across such a thing, but he steps lightly through the apartment anyway.

The living room is dark as is the dining room-kitchen combo. They’re almost frigid in their darkness. Link flicks a light on and listens to the hum of a fuse box somewhere. Ruta doesn’t appear to own much of anything, but Link scopes out a few places to search for hidden cash once he secures an escape route. The couch cushions will be his first victims followed by the books Ruta has in a bookcase along the wall opposite the kitchen. He may be the type to secret bills away in the dusty pages of books. He’d certainly done so in years past. Years before Ganon. Before those memories get him off track, Link crosses the room to stare at the front door.

The door has no less than five locks on it from this side. A few metal pieces are bolted to the door, but no locking mechanism makes itself obvious from this side. Link suspects there are indeed locks on the outside. He glances around the apartment. It would make sense if this were originally a laundry or storage area and not an apartment. The floor in here is all concrete—no hardwood or carpet to cover it. Just some old rugs thrown about to keep the cold out. And in case of a fire, the transom windows might not be an effective escape. That’s a hazard for anyone living here. Link had once considered starting a fire and hoping to attract a fire brigade to rescue him. However… if no one reports the fire in time, he may burn to death. Link firmly discards the idea with a note of totality. Groaning under his breath, Link sets about searching Ruta’s living room for money.

He makes sure to put everything back in order once he’s done searching an area. In the worst-case scenario, the scenario where he doesn’t escape, he can’t have Ruta find out he’d attempted it at all. That would severely discredit the trust Link has built up over these three days and jeopardize any future attempts. So, Link keeps calm while checking under couch cushions and in books stuffed into the bookcase. He comes up with a few dollars, which is more than enough for a payphone. Maybe, if he hails a taxi, the driver won’t immediately reject him for the odd clothes Link knows he’ll be in. Ganon would willingly pay the taxi when they arrive. Link puts it out of his mind as a future problem not worth his time. The clock in the flat above strikes eleven, and Link hastens to his next step.

He discards the door as a means of escape. He’d tried to undo all the locks on his side, but the door hadn’t given an inch. He couldn’t find a tool to attack the hinge pins either, so he moves on to the next step. Link carefully flicks through Ruta’s clothes, pausing only once when he spies some of his things that had going missing. Of course Ruta had kept them, probably intending to amass a collection of Link’s clothes for him to wear once captured… Link shivers and continues to search for something warmer. Ruta had only stolen his underwear and lacy things. None of that will do him any favors right now.

A shirt will be difficult to manage, but he picks out a sweater. At least it will keep him warm, even if it look ridiculous with his hands bound like this. Link also yanks a pair of shorts from Ruta’s dresser. They’ll almost make for a pair of trousers on Link. Lastly, he grabs socks and awkwardly shoves his feet into them. Shoes he won’t bother with, since Ruta wears a size much larger than him. Money in his pocket, Link sits on the bed with the sweater in a pile beside him. There’s one more thing he must do before attempting the transom. He’ll rip his flesh to shreds if he has to, but he will escape through the tiny window.

Bending his head forward and sweeping his arms back, Link grunts while picking at the clasp of the necklace. He breathes hard while doing it, and blood pools in his face. It must come off, though. He won’t wear it in his escape, even though it could possibly be traded for aid. It means too much to wear it, and Link grits his teeth while struggling with it. He lets out a few sounds in desperation as the lobster claw slips away from his thumb nail. It even rips at the nail bed at one point, and Link has to stop.

He doesn’t think he’s bleeding. He sits up and relaxes with his arms still over his head for a moment. Once his face cools off, he bends over and tries again. Eyes shut tightly and teeth grinding into dust, Link almost cries when the necklace finally comes free. It falls from his neck and clatters to the floor. He wants to kick it away, but the motion would do nothing for him. Free of one of his chains, Link drags the sweater over his head and then considers the window.

Ruta doesn’t have a chair in his bedroom. Link marches to the kitchen to steal one and sets it under the window. He worries about the radiator touching the wood, but if this hell hole goes up in smoke, he doesn’t care. Climbing up, Link worries he’s still too short to reach the window. With his hands bound, it will be harder to hoist himself up. He’d thought about leaving the sweater off, but then decided the thick material might help him slip out. The metal might not catch and snag on the sweater like it will his skin. Plus, it’s too cold outside to go without it. Link wrestles with the lock, has to jam the heel of his palm into it to get it open. Eventually, it flies open with a gasp from Link. When Link shoves the window open, the first bite of fresh air barely hurts. Link sticks his head out the window just to suck it in. The clock above strikes twelve midnight.

Link keeps his head on straight and his eyes on the prize as he considers the window. It’s meant to come all the way open, although Link has to slap his hands at the glass to convince it of such. Link sucks in a deep breath once the window is fully open. His heart gives a lurch when he realizes he might not fit. He is tiny, yes, but even this window is small… Shuffling on the chair in his socks, Link braces his forearms on the concrete of the inner wall and jumps up.

The concrete is unforgiving and pinches his skin. Link’s shoulders and upper back ache immediately, and the muscles shake with his weight. He wants to do this in one try, though. More attempts will leave him weak and tired. Sweater shoved almost off his body to accommodate his arms, Link throws his bound arms out the window and scrambles in the debris outside. Dirt has fallen into the channel down here, and he hopes there’s no glass. Any injury now doesn’t matter, but he’d like to avoid it. With Link’s arms out the window, his chest bared by the sweater takes the brunt of the coarse concrete. It scratches him to hell, leaving red lines and scrapes all over him. But with his elbows outside the apartment, Link kicks his feet and hugs the wall with his torso. He cling that way while wiggling over the window frame. It’s metal, rusted, and adds to the scratches on his chest.

“Please,” he wheezes, hands slapping the concrete of the channel as he wiggles. “Please.”

Hopping across the rusty window frame, Link wiggles inch by inch out the window. He almost gives a manic laugh when his stomach scrapes across the metal. At this point, however, he needs his legs to get himself free. And the frame of the transom hugs his hips and ass tightly. Link’s legs kick freely inside the apartment while the rest of him flails outside in the cold. The longer this takes, the more the cold saps his strength.

Lightning flashes somewhere nearby, and then thunder chases the flash on its heels. Link whines and grunts while trying to jerk himself free of the window. The metal bites more and more into his skin, cutting him until he bleeds. Link belts out a desperate cry and scrambles at the brick on the outside wall. He’s out far enough to brace his hands, arms ramrod straight, against the brick below the window frame. At an angle like this, though, the top of the frame cuts even more into Link’s back. Lightning flashes overhead again, and the air thickens in a warning.

“Please!”

With a last, awful scratch to his back, Link’s hips pop free of the window. He lies crying and gasping with his thighs pressed tightly to the metal. At first, he doesn’t believe he’s done it. But a wild glance tossed over his shoulder reveals that he’s free. Blinking hot tears out of his eyes, Link bottles sobs as he wiggles the rest of the way out of the window. Blood smears on the metal, and when Link goes to stand, his whole back lights up in agony. It doesn’t matter. The scrapes, the bruises, the aches inside him… None of that matters.

Link kicks the window shut, hearing the glass crack a bit, and then turns to the concrete wall behind him. A glance down the channel, with mist starting to dampen his hair and fly into his eyes, reveals an iron ladder bolted to the cement. The painted iron is cold in Link’s hands when he grips it, and the rungs dig into the arches of his feet. Each step up irritates the scratches on his back. But the cool, night rain chills the sweat and tears on his face.

Link reaches street level and staggers for a moment. The outside world is cold and empty, only gas street lamps flickering up and down the road. Link stumbles as he steps towards the curb. He doesn’t recognize the nearest intersection, isn’t familiar with this part of town. Breathing hard and struggling to swallow, Link glances first left and then right. Neither direction seems better than the other. He needs to get moving. His socks are soaked immediately as he goes left.

Before the rain gets started for real, he tugs his sweater down over his bloody chest and back. That keeps his body warm, just like he’d planned. Link walks down the street at first, hoping something will pop up. A bar. Someone walking into their home. Anything but a cop. He walks a block, then speed walks down another, and then flat out runs. It isn’t until four blocks away that he spies a payphone near a bus depot. He slams into it, skidding in the rain, but doesn’t care about the new bruise in his stomach.

Almost spilling the change he’d found, Link’s breaths come out frantic and gasping as he feeds the machine money. He almost misdials. But with his index finger shaking and frozen in the rain, Link dials one of the numbers he knows by heart. If this doesn’t work, he has enough money for one more call. He tries the club first, knowing it should be open. It’s not yet two in the morning, can’t be. He’d last heard the clock chime midnight. Link clutches the chilly, wet receiver to his cheek and bottles his cries. He’s almost free. Almost home.

The line to the club rings and rings. And rings some more. Links stares into the rainy night with his eyes hot. No one is going to answer. No one can hear the phone ringing under the bar. Hanging up, Link swallows his heart and then feeds the last of his coins into the machine. Link’s finger shakes even harder as he dials Ganon’s penthouse downtown. His last resort is to find a cab and have them take him downtown. He knows the building name, hopefully the driver will—

“Hello?”

Heart slamming to a stop, Link chokes on his next breath.

“You fuckers better be calling me with an update. Three fucking days and nobody has found a hair, a nail clipping from Link. So speak up, damn it, or I’ll—”

“Gan,” Link bites out. It’s all he can manage with his heart in his throat.

The line goes silent, enough for the static to deafen Link.

“Link?”

Link bites his lip to stop the terrible whine that tries to squeak out of him. He’s cold, alone, and dizzy from the pain in his back. He slumps against the payphone and lets out a tiny sob.

“Gan, please, I…”

“Tell me where you are,” Ganon nearly yells. “Tell me a street name. A business nearby. Link! Link, tell me where you are!”

Shivering, Link keeps the phone clutched to his face. The bus stop is near a street corner. Link squints through his tears and the rain to see it.

“Bus stop,” he whimpers. “Lucas and North 16th.”

Through the line, Link listens to Ganon bellow at someone in the penthouse. A commotion busies the line, and Link sucks in a loud breath, thinking it has disconnected. But once all the yelling quiets, Ganon is there, like they’re holding each other and he’s sweeping down to kiss the top of Link’s head.

“I’ll be there. A car is coming around for me now, sweetheart. Stay out of sight until you see me. I’m coming to get you, Link. Do you understand?”

Link’s chin quakes, but he manages a, “Yes.”

“I’m going to hang up, now. I love you.”

Link’s heart breaks a little. He doesn’t want to hang up, doesn’t want to be alone again. He knows that’s not possible right now. Link’s stomach shakes as he sucks in a stuttering breath.

“I love you too, Gan. Please hurry. It’s raining and I’m cold.”

The receiver in Link’s hand complains at his tight grip. But he holds onto it long after Ganon hangs up. The line screeches at him that it’s disconnected, but he refuses to let go. The wind has picked up and steals all the warmth out of Link’s soaked feet, his damp shoulders. He glances around for a place to hide, like Ganon had said. Ruta could pass by at any time, could be watching him right now.

Link hangs up the phone with great reluctance and shuffles into an alley between two buildings. Hopefully no one and nothing has claimed the space tonight. He’s run out of strength to fight. Shoulder slumping against the wall, Link fists his hands in front of him while he waits. The cold tries to drag him to the dirty concrete beneath him, but the wall keeps him up. Ache from the cold and rain seeps into Link’s knees and toes until he can’t feel them. But he stands there, out of sight, and waits.

A car rolls up, but Link isn’t sure it’s real. He isn’t sure whose car it is. So he stays in the shadows with his vision swimming. The rear, passenger door on the right side of the car flies open. Link’s face opens and his eyes widen at the familiar, if frantic, vision of his sweetheart emerging from the vehicle. Ganon throws a glance around as another car pulls up behind him. Four men pile out and group around Ganon, waiting for orders. Ganon’s driver and the driver of the other car remain in their positions, ready to take off if need be.

Link swallows hard and stumbles forward, onto the sidewalk. A few henchmen around Ganon see him first and whip pistols from their hips, ready to shoot him. Link freezes long enough for them to recognize him. Ganon’s eyes pin him to the spot, wide and searching him from head to toe. He probably doesn’t know where to look first. Ganon’s henchmen lower their weapons. Link takes a step towards the cars. Another. And then he runs.

Chapter Text

Link wakes to a familiar ceiling above him. Familiar bed under him. Familiar man curled up at his side. The sight of Ganon, huge bruises under his eyes, beside him is what Link sees first. He doesn't startle, doesn't scream. He almost forgets how he'd ended up here covered in gauze and numb from morphine. The doctor visit Ganon had insisted on is murky in Link’s memory. The car Link had climbed into with Ganon took them there straight away, but Link hadn’t been in any state to object. The bandages and pleasant buzz from morphine speak for themselves, that he’d needed such treatment. That it’s real and his escape had happened.

Link lifts a hand, realizes they're free of the leather cuffs, and then shakes the bed with the hitch in his breath. Ganon startles awake immediately and captures his hand. Link throws a wild look up at him. A gentle caress to his cheek from the curl of Ganon’s thick knuckles calms him down. Link aches just enough, the trailing edge of his last dose of painkillers allowing the aches through, to know he's awake. This isn't a dream. He'd dreamed about Ganon while kidnapped. He would dream about his sweetheart and then wake to hell. Link reaches up with his free hand to grip Ganon’s wrist. The bones grind under his hand, but Ganon doesn't shrug him off.

“I'm here,” he says lowly. “I'm here, Link. You're in my apartment.”

Link nods a little before pressing his cheek more firmly into Ganon’s touch.

Ganon shuffles closer beside him and asks, “What do you remember? Do you remember getting into the car? The doctor patching you up?”

Swallowing hard, Link shakes his head. He remembers his escape with razor-like sharpness. But otherwise… He swears he'd fallen asleep in the alley, waiting for Ganon’s car to roll up. The cold, rain, and fatigue must have gotten to him by then. Link shivers and tries to roll towards Ganon and his incredible heat. Ganon pokes a finger in the middle of his chest to stop that.

“You'll aggravate your wounds. I've been flipping you onto your stomach every so often to give the ones on your back a break. But don't sleep on your side for now.”

“Gan, I…” Link swallows a few times to try and ease the scratch in his throat. “I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.”

Ganon sits up on an elbow so he can see Link better. Link’s firm grip on Ganon’s other wrist remains, and he has no intention of letting go.

“You didn't do anything wrong, Link. None of this is your fault.”

Link tries to keep a straight face as Ganon bends down a bit to kiss his forehead. Necessity had made him firm and unflinching while with Officer Ruta. But now… he just wants to cry. Not so much in front of Ganon, but it spills out of him anyway. Ganon just keeps close and shushes him as he shakes.

“Put it out of your head for now,” Ganon murmurs to him. “Eventually, we’ll talk about it. But for now, just don't think about it. It's over.”

“I'm sorry,” Link repeats between bitten and chapped lips. He tips his head up to catch Ganon’s sleepy eyes. “I'm sorry for everything.”

Ganon’s sigh plays with Link’s bangs.

“I blame myself, sweetheart. I shouldn't have sent you to your apartment that day you told me about the break in. None of this would have happened if I'd sent you back here.”

Link shakes his head, recoils at the idea that any of this is Ganon’s fault. But a stern glance from Ganon has him buttoning his lip.

“I should have known that crazy cop would go off the deep end once he was banned. I could have done everything differently that day, Link, everything better. But I didn't.”

Ganon pets under Link’s eye with his thumb while saying all this. His expression firms up, and Link recognizes it as anger. Link abandons Ganon’s wrist in order to pet his cheek, too. He's missed the way they fit in the bed together, how the pillows and bedding smell like them. Link offers Ganon a shaky smile to try and soothe some of his anger. It's the quiet anger like he'd known it would be. Ganon sighs against the delicate inside of Link’s wrist. His bright eyes slip shut as a scowl twists his lips.

“I'm… angrier than I've ever been in my life. Which is a lot of anger. But none of it is directed at you. I want you to know that. I've been a pretty short fuse since you disappeared. Maybe no fuse.” Emerald eyes peek open with just the barest sliver of green visible. “It was that cop who took you, wasn't it? I wanna know everything that happened between now and when I kissed you goodnight. Not right now, but eventually. But at least confirm it was him.”

Heart in his throat, Link closes his eyes under such radiant anger and nods.

Ganon hums on the other side of Link’s lids and swoops down to kiss his forehead again.

“I thought so. That's all I need for now, sweetheart. Thank you.”

A bitter taste splashes across the back of his throat when Link asks, “What are you going to do to him?”

Ganon’s eyes are still narrow with the rest of him cool and collected. Oh yes, this is the frightening anger Link is more afraid of than Ganon’s explosive temper that tears tables and chairs up like a wood chipper. Ganon sucks down a breath through his nose. For the first time since waking, Link takes in how grown out his facial hair is, how messy his hair is like he'd run his fingers through it nonstop. Link reaches up to pet the coarse hairs of Ganon’s beard, flatten some of his wild mane. Ganon hums under his caress and lets him touch wherever he wants. He only speaks once Link rests his hand along Ganon’s arm. His skin is bare, and Link pets over the thick hair there, too.

“I've given it some thought,” Ganon says vaguely.

Link’s stomach sours. He remembers the man in the black suit and gold cufflinks, dead behind the couch. Slayed by Officer Ruta. Have other people died during the search for him? Had Ruta killed anyone else that night? Ganon always tries to keep the drugs, deaths, and business in general away from Link. Link knows death is on his sweetheart’s mind, though. He hesitates to say this, but he doesn't want any more deaths hovering over him. Ganon won't understand, what with the way he courts death like an old flame. But Link doesn't want this.

“I… I don't want anyone else to die.”

Ganon thins his lips into a line.

“Killing him wasn't exactly at the top of the list. Got a few things to tick off first.”

Link shakes his head and twists his fingers in the front of Ganon’s shirt.

“No, I-I don't want that. Hurting him won't undo this. Just… can't you make him go away? Send him somewhere so that he'll never come back? Please Gan, please don't kill him.”

Eye twitching, Ganon grinds out, “How can you say that? Showing him mercy? He deserves to suffer.”

Link shakes his head and tugs Ganon closer. Ganon resists at first, but at the frantic jerk of Link’s fist in his shirt, he finally rolls closer. Link copies him despite Ganon’s earlier order to not lie on his side. He needs this closeness, though. Link throws his arm around Ganon and clings to his back to anchor them together. His nails probably bite through Ganon’s shirt, probably scratch lines into his back. Link doesn't care.

“Please,” he begs with his cheek smashed to Ganon’s collarbones. “No more. Just make him go away. Please. I just want this to go away like it never happened. Don't kill him.”

The arm not supporting Ganon slips around to hold Link’s head. Ganon’s fingers slip through his hair that's loose around him and rubs circles into his scalp. A tiny smile ticks up on Link’s lips. Oh how he'd missed this man. It occurs to Link he doesn't remember if they've exchanged kisses since his escape. If they have, he doesn't recall. Link squirms until Ganon lets his head up. Link tilts his face in a clear offer for a kiss, and Ganon stoops down to give it to him. Ganon nudges his head how he wants it and slots their mouths together. It's a soft kiss at first until Link yanks on Ganon’s shirt to encourage him.

Link whines and directs their kisses, little frantic things, until Ganon takes over. Ganon nudges Link onto his back again before giving in to Link’s demands. He makes sure not to put his weight on Link as he hovers above him. Ganon’s left hand sinks into the bed as he keeps a firm grip on Link’s head with the right. Ganon gives Link kisses willingly, trying to put how much he'd missed Link and worried about him into them. Link accepts them eagerly and recalls how often he had to rely on his memories of Ganon in order to make it through his ordeal. Link separates them with a gasp and holds Ganon even tighter.

“I thought about you everyday. I would dream about you, and then wake up with him instead. I missed you so much, and I'm so sorry for everything.”

“It's not your fault,” Ganon reminds him. He returns to lying on his side, but keeps his fingers tangled in Link’s hair. “I missed you, too. I showed up to take you shopping the next morning and found my henchmen dead in your apartment. I suspected that cop immediately, but…”

Link holds on to Ganon’s wrist while watching him, just to touch him.

“But?”

Grimacing, Ganon admits, “We knew which station he reported to, knew his name. But when we checked his records at the station down the street from the club, his home address was an empty apartment a few blocks over. It was in his name when we dug a little deeper, but he didn't live there. That’s when I was pretty sure it was him. We couldn't find anything on him. We couldn’t find you, for that matter. He's either a straight-laced guy who finally went off the deep end or extremely good at hiding things.”

“A little bit of both, I think,” Link chimes in with a humorless smile. “We were in a basement apartment. He has the door rigged like some of the doors in the club. A lot of locks and… stuff. It's only a few blocks from where I called, but I don't know the address.”

Ganon tucks some of Link’s hair behind his ear while murmuring lowly, “Don't worry about all that. I'll take care of everything.”

“No killing,” Link reminds him, unflinching in the heat of Ganon's stare turning hard. “No more.”

“I'll think about it.”

Link sighs and puts a pin in that conversation. As much as the thought of Ruta’s mere existence terrifies and disgusts him now, he doesn't want anyone else to die. And he knows Ganon can make people disappear without killing them. Link shuffles on his back and prepares to put all this to rest for at least a few hours. He's more tired than ever, even when he had been sleeping in his tub for a few nights. But Ganon nudges Link’s forehead with his nose, and Link lifts his chin to meet Ganon’s eyes.

“I'm very proud of you. I want you to know that.”

“... Okay?”

Ganon snorts at him and kisses his temple.

“You would have been freed eventually. I never would have stopped looking for you. But you saved yourself. You cut yourself to hell on something, but you saved yourself. I can only imagine what you went through, the ways you had to cope with him.” Ganon pets up and down Link’s far cheek with the curl of his knuckles. “So, I'm proud of you.”

Link turns his face towards Ganon’s curled fingers and brushes his lips over them. They taste and smell like a gun firing. Link wonders if Ganon had shot someone recently. He hopes not.

“I thought about you,” he murmurs against Ganon’s fingers. “I thought about you or my plan once he left last night. I had to wait for him to go back to work. And even then, I still had to crawl out of a basement window to get away.”

“Oh, that's why your stomach and back are fucked up,” Ganon says more to himself than anyone else. “You practically peeled yourself like a potato.”

Link’s lips tremble against Ganon’s fingers as he holds back a giggle.

“That bad, huh?”

“Your back is worse. Doc gave you a shot for tetanus, but I'm keeping an eye on them when I change your bandages anyway. If you feel like you have a fever, make sure you tell me.”

Ganon mothering him touches the deepest part of Link’s heart. Neither of them falls ill often, and Link has never seen Ganon take care of someone like this. He assumes Ganon has everything covered, probably could have just left him to an in-home nurse. The man would rather care for him himself. Cupping his sweetheart’s jaw, Link guides Ganon down to trade a few kisses with him again. They're given as thanks, but also out of love. Ganon would have never stopped looking for him… That's a comforting thought, something Link hadn't considered much while dealing with Ruta and planning his escape. Ganon probably would have leveled the whole city to find him.

Link sighs with their faces still close and slips his hand from Ganon’s jaw. Ganon doesn't go far, just settles his head on the pillow beside Link and keeps an arm low over his hips. Link tunes into the fact that he's naked except for a pair of loose shorts. A blanket pulled up to his chest and Ganon beside him keep him warm. Link glances around the room and finds the gas fire lit, the curtains drawn. They're normally wide open to show off the cityscape. Link pets at Ganon’s upper arm to catch his attention.

“Will you open the curtains?”

Ganon glances at said curtains. He looks like he's adding a few things up in head, perhaps recalling that Link had said Ruta kept him prisoner in a basement. He rolls away from Link without a word, crosses the tidy bedroom, and then tugs on each curtain’s cord until they're all open. The wall directly across from the bed is all windows. The view faces the sprawling city below and beyond. It’s daylight out, but these windows face west. The sun hasn’t quite made its way to that side of the building. Link settles deeper into the pillows and sighs. The sun and movements of the city calm him.

He watches with a lazy smile as Ganon strolls back to bed and lies down. It’s not close enough, and Link urges him down until their bodies touch all along Link’s side. Ganon lies facing him and rests his right arm over Link’s hips. That area is less damaged that his belly and chest. The shorts he’d stolen from Officer Ruta had protected his lower pelvis while shimmying out the window. Link rears his head back to glance at all the bandages and gauze. His upper chest seems fine…

Taking Ganon’s thick wrist in both hands, Link picks up his arm and lays it across his collarbones instead. The weight of Ganon’s arm doesn’t settle fully on him, like he’s about to adjust his arm back down. Link holds on, desperate to have Ganon hold him like he does when they sleep together. Link’s injuries make cuddling difficult, but Ganon can at least rest his arm over Link like this. Link pleads with his eyes and holding tightly to Ganon’s arm. Ganon smiles at him like he does when they go shopping and Link shows him another pair of shoes, more makeup to add to his hoard. Ganon knows he has plenty of both, but he buys them for Link anyway. He just gets a little laugh from Link’s hopeful eyes, like Ganon isn’t about to buy the whole store for him.

“Okay, okay,” Ganon says with a breathy laugh. He scoots closer, loops his left arm under Link’s head, and settles in. “Turn those big eyes off. I can’t take you looking at me like that.”

Link clings to Ganon’s arm and murmurs, “Excuse me for loving you.”

It’s a good sign, Link snarking him back.

Ganon kisses the top of Link’s head before asking, “When you’re feeling up to it, let’s go shopping.”

The offer is sweet, atypical of Ganon who struggles to show such affection, but it still surprises Link. Ganon hates shopping, would rather give a list of things to a lackey and let them sit in traffic and deal with the general public. Link tilts his head to find Ganon pointedly not looking at him. It’s as Link had thought. Ganon wants to make him happy, to do something normal with him. Ganon misses Link’s sweet smile, but he doesn’t miss the quick peck Link gives his cheek.

“That sounds nice. Do you wanna watch me try on new dresses?”

Ganon rests his head on Links and murmurs, “Only if you give me a little spin when you come out.”

Link snorts and gives Ganon’s arm a light pinch.

“Pervert.”

Link practically feels the grin Ganon hides in his hair.

“Little bit.”

Link’s right side is warm, and his sweetheart’s thick arm cradles his head. He hasn’t felt peace like this since before the break-ins at his apartment began. Trying to recall a recent time where he’d fallen asleep and then stayed peacefully asleep eludes Link. While drifting off, he worries he won't sleep deeply, that he'll startle awake at every hiss of the fireplace, every shift of Ganon breathing beside him. What guides him to sleep and keeps him there is actually Ganon. The bed smells like them, although mostly like Ganon. And the way Ganon sleeps beside him, arm firm over him and breaths wheezing a bit from Ganon smoking for years is familiar. Link’s prison had been deathly quiet unless Officer Ruta was running his mouth or they were fucking. Here, the quiet isn't persistent, doesn't hold a threat or danger.

Link only wakes some time later to Ganon kissing his face and nudging him. Ganon carefully escorts him to the bathroom, standing outside the closed door as Link takes his first private piss in three days. Ganon doesn’t need to know that, though. They check his wounds, re-dose him with morphine, and then pile back in bed. Link remembers complaining about food and a bath, and Ganon promises him both next time they get up. The world turns, and Ganon’s business ventures continue without them. Link isn't sure how long Ganon will stay away from his job as boss, but he'll greedily take what he can get.

Ganon maintains that closeness as Link’s first day home turns into his second. They get him out of bed and walking around. Link doesn't miss the way Ganon’s eyes narrow at how he flinches at things, how his ribs show more than they used to. He'd starved a bit before all this, anyway. Not sleeping had stolen his appetite, and Link had been losing weight before the kidnapping. Ruta had fed him, yes, but it hadn't been enough. And everything had a price, sometimes a price Link wasn't up for paying at the moment.

Ganon can't do much about Link flinching, but he can at least feed his little love. Like hoarding Ganon’s warmth and attention yesterday, Link welcomes the food Ganon makes for him. They eat in so rarely, but Link isn't ready to go out yet. Link promises himself and Ganon that he'll be ready tomorrow. His wounds don't even hurt that much anymore. He just can't shake the fear that Officer Ruta will be waiting around every turn, corner him in the stores later and steal him out from under Ganon’s nose.

“I won't let that happen,” Ganon promises while setting them up in the bathroom. Link can stand his tacky skin no longer. “I'll be there. And we’ll have extra security with us. Some around us and some in civilian clothes, following close behind. Even if he sees the suits, he won't see the others.” Ganon grins at that point while nudging Link’s naked form into the shower stall. “He won't be a bother anyway. Don't worry.”

That grin is vicious and nasty at the edges. Link almost asks what Ganon means by that, but an eager kiss to his lips snuffs the words. Ganon kissing him and holding him by the hips can't make Link forget his suspicions, and Link pokes a finger in Ganon’s chest to push him back. Ganon goes without any resistance, although he sneaks another kiss before they're too far apart.

“What do you mean by that?” Link flicks an eyebrow up at him. “Why are you so sure?”

Ganon shrugs and twists around to pull the shower door shut. The water takes a few seconds to reach the temperature Ganon desires, and they don't step into the stream until then. Link waits for a response with his lips in a thin line while Ganon picks up a bottle of shampoo, like they aren't discussing something.

“Well?”

Sighing, Ganon turns to him with shampoo in his hands and says, “Don't worry about it. I was gonna bring you with me to some business tomorrow, and you'll see then. But for now, don't worry about that psycho cop. He can't hurt you anymore.”

Link ducks his head out of Ganon’s reach and nearly spits out, “I said don't kill him. I asked you very specifically not to, but it sounds like you did it anyway!”

Scowling, Ganon reaches for him again and finally threads his fingers through Link’s hair to wash him.

“He's not dead. But did you really expect me to not go after him the moment I had you back?”

Heart jumping, Link opens his mouth to further their argument. But the steam whistles right out of him, and Link just slouches down. He doesn't want to fight right now. He especially doesn't want to fight over Officer Ruta. Ganon must pick up on his defeated attitude, though. He coaxes shampoo gently through and then out of Link’s hair before kissing the clean strands.

“Sweetheart… I've had men staked out in your apartment since you were kidnapped. In case he came back for something or you escaped and came back. They were still there even when I picked you up, because I knew he'd be looking for you. We caught him breaking into your apartment. Again.”

Link leans against Ganon’s wet chest and shivers despite the warmth. Ganon’s arms around him are the only things keeping him up.

“What was I supposed to do? Turn him loose until he broke into the club? Maybe found out where we were? He would have been mine in the end anyway, Link. You asked me not to kill him, but he’s going to pay what he owes. I'm not letting this go.”

Link nods against Ganon's chest.

“Please, don't kill him. I don't want anything to do with him, by I don't want anyone else to die.”

“I understand.”

The way Ganon says it makes Link think he in fact does not understand. But maybe Ganon will keep that in mind during whatever torture Officer Ruta must be currently under right now. Link won't kid himself by thinking some of Ganon’s henchmen aren't torturing the officer right now, probably since they’d captured him. Link wonders when that had happened, since he expected Officer Ruta’s return sometime around nine in the morning the next day. Link stands in a daze as Ganon washes him, taking extra care around his healing cuts. He wants some answers and finally gathers himself enough to ask them.

“When did he break into my apartment again?”

Ganon’s hands spreading soap down his back freeze.

“We picked you up a little before two in the morning. After taking you to get patched up, we arrived at the penthouse around six. You were asleep when my men called me from your apartment. He broke in sometime between six and six-thirty.”

Ganon says as much with a straight face like reading off a to-do list. Link bows his head to stare somewhere above Ganon’s navel. From Ganon’s explanation, Link assumes Ruta had returned to the apartment at some point during his shift, probably to check on him. He must have discovered Link gone and ran straight to Link’s apartment to look for him. Which is where he'd been caught. So that means Officer Ruta has been sequestered somewhere for nearly two days. Tomorrow will be the third. And Ganon had said Link would accompany him on some business…

Head ripping back up, Link blurts out, “You were going to take me to him tomorrow, weren't you? As some sort of-of ploy? To rub it in his face?”

Ganon shrugs like it's nothing.

“I want him to know that all his planning was wasted. All the time he spent stalking you and buttering you up. Maybe that will drive home just how much you don't like him. Apparently, when he's conscious, he yells for you and demands to know ‘what I've done with you.’”

Ganon rolls his eyes and flicks his fingers in quote marks while saying as much. Link would normally snort at him for such theatrics, but he shivers instead. Officer Ruta’s delusions must go deeper than Link had thought, if the man thinks this is all some sort of game. Ganon sighing above him draws Link’s head up and out of his thoughts, though.

Petting wet hair off Link’s cheek, Ganon admits lowly, “None of this should have happened. I know we fight a lot about our living arrangements, but if I sent you here or if we lived together, it never would have happened.”

Link swallows hard and says nothing to that. He agrees on some level, on a logical level. But then again, Ruta is so obsessed with him that maybe it would have happened anyway. Still, Link can’t deny that he wants to live here. It’s all he’s ever wanted since Ganon gave him a ring once, promised to marry him one day. Link still has that ring somewhere in his jewelry box. It’s too precious for him to wear, to risk damaging the rose gold or the diamond set in the band. Ganon doesn’t wear his, either, but Link sees it on the nightstand sometimes.

Laying a hand flat on Ganon’s chest, Link blinks up at him and says, “I want that. I want us to live together. I’ve wanted that for a long time, but… I know we can’t…”

Ganon shakes his head under the spray and pulls Link to him to kiss the top of his head.

“Move in with me,” he proposes. “Let’s… stop beating around the bush. No more of this ‘mine or yours’ shit. I’m sorry that it took this to make it happen, but… Move in with me.”

“Yes,” Link breathes. “I will.“

Shivering in the steam again, Link leans his weight more fully on Ganon this time. Ganon accepts him without a fuss. This new revelation is a step in the right direction and also a step away from all this horribleness with Officer Ruta. Link just wants all of this to go away, to be over. Ganon holding Officer Ruta captive like this is some kind of game just extends how long Link has to think about all this. Link wishes he could communicate all this to Ganon. Sure, the words are there, but Ganon wouldn't understand. Money or a gun would make this all go away for Ganon. And he won't understand why that’s not the case for Link, never has been.

Link shuffles away from Ganon and allows him to wash while considering all this. He remembers Ganon’s offer of taking him shopping when he feels up to it. Tomorrow seems like as good a day as any other. Plus, he might as well enjoy the day before Ganon sneaks him into some torture warehouse where he's keeping Officer Ruta. Link doesn't spare a thought to what Ganon’s henchmen may have done to him already. He'll see for himself soon enough.

The shower turns off with a squeak of the knobs when they’re finished. Link opens the glass door to step out first. He sways a bit on his feet, but Ganon is there with a gentle hand to steady him. Ganon keeps that hand on Link while reaching for a blue towel. It’s Links, all the blue ones are. He drapes the fluffy thing over Link’s head and carefully squeezes water out of his blond hair.

Link smiles under the cover of the towel and judges his hair a little grown out. He should visit his stylist before he gets back on stage. He’d let it go—along with his lessening weight—during the stalking. Nothing had mattered during that month. Everything had been ready to fall apart—his relationship, his health, and his sanity. Now that he’s home and soon won’t have to think about Officer Ruta… He can pick everything up where it had started to wither a month ago. Link stops Ganon’s hands and peeks up at him from the edge of the towel.

“Will you call Saria? Or give me the phone when we step out? I need a haircut.” He lifts a hand to glance at his fingers. “And my nails done.”

Ganon snorts at him, bends down, and kisses his damp forehead.

“Whatever you want, sweetheart. I’ll call her once we’re dry and in clothes, okay?”

Link nods at that and allows Ganon to finish drying him. Link stands with his towel around his shoulders as Ganon tends to himself. He watches black skin bend and stretch with Ganon’s movements. For the first time since their little fun in Ganon’s office, Link feels himself stir a bit. He blushes at the rush of it and folds his towel around his chest. This way, if Ganon looks at him, he might not notice Link pressing his thighs together. Oh, how he’d missed this man. Ganon is beautiful like the raw earth. Like a cave opening under one’s feet. It’s devastating, but one can’t help but fall deeply and totally.

To try and calm his thundering heart and racing blood, Link draws in a deep breath. He doesn’t want to shy away from sex, doesn’t want to use Officer Ruta abusing him as a crutch. Having sex with Ganon shouldn’t be any different than before his kidnapping. Link believes that. He wants Ganon like he always has—with a hunger that has no end. It’s especially bad when Ganon whips his towel off to reveal messy, salt-and-paprika hair tumbling over his face. It’s adorable until Link catches on to Ganon staring at him through the strands. It’s a look he recognizes all too well.

Turning his head away with a blush, Link says, “Avert your eyes, good sir. Or at least put a towel on.”

“Sure.”

Wet feet slapping the floor approach Link. And then Ganon yanks Link’s towel down to his knees. Link yelps and nearly slips on the bathmat, but he saves himself by clinging to Ganon. He falls onto Ganon’s chest, where warm, big hands steady his wild flailing. Ganon chuckles richly in his ear as Link sputters.

“Why did you do that? I could have fallen!”

“Exactly as intended,” Ganon practically purrs into his wet hair. “I have you now. But what will I do with you?”

Link whips his head up to stick his tongue out at Ganon.

“Nothing, because I need a haircut and a manicure.”

This is when Ganon would object and tease Link, fondle him until Link gives in. Instead, Ganon snorts under his breath, kisses the top of Link’s head, and then backs off a bit. Link’s eyes widen at that, and he stares at Ganon’s little smile. It’s not at all what he’d expected.

“All right,” Ganon laughs lightly. “I’ll call Saria and see what she’s up to today. Put some clothes on at some point. She doesn’t need to see all of you.”

Ganon turns away, still with a smile on his face, to make that exact phone call. Link strikes out with a hand to scramble at Ganon’s shoulder, stopping him. Link’s insides squirm, and he needs to know if Ganon had meant his flirting. Normally, they would be rolling in bed at this point. Link needs to know that… Ganon slowing them down like this isn’t disinterest. He needs to know that Ganon still wants him.

“Gan wait, um…” Link draws Ganon back to him with a little tug on his arm. “We don’t… have to call Saria right away. We can… fool around, if you want.”

It almost sounds like a question. Ganon’s smile doesn’t waiver as he bends down a little to kiss Link’s forehead.

“I don’t want to push you or pressure you into anything, sweetheart,” he says with his lips still close to Link’s forehead. “I don’t want to hurt or scare you. You know?”

That makes sense. Link gives Ganon a tiny nod.

“Okay. So long as… you still want me? You still want to have sex with me?”

Ganon sweeps Link closer to him with an arm scooping up his back. Link hums and rubs his face across red and white chest hair. Ganon smells like his soap, something deep and earthy. It suits him.

“It’ll take a lot more than some psycho cop playing house with you to make me not want you, Link. I wanted you when I first met you, I want you now, and I’ll want you when I’m an old man. Okay?”

Link nods against Ganon’s chest and kisses above his heart.

“I’m glad.”

Saria is thrilled to see him when she comes over later. This may be too much for his second day of liberation, but it will be easier to reassume his life if he’s pretty and proper again. Saria makes light conversation—mostly gossip of politicians’ wives and other important figures around the city—as she trims his hair back into shape, files and paints his nails. He chooses a purple so deep that it’s almost black when it dries. It has a shimmer to it that sparkles wonderfully in the sun. Saria paints him at a table by some windows in Ganon’s apartment so it’s easy to see as she goes. It’s all so lovely and normal. Link shoots smiles at Ganon every chance he gets. He’d missed all this. It’s the second day of being free from Officer Ruta, but it’s all so… normal. And tomorrow they’re going shopping. Link fills with excitement, and that excitement carries him through the day and into the night, into dreams.

The third day begins lazily. Link is the one to prod and nudge Ganon out of bed. It's nearly noon, but if Link spends one more second in bed, he might go crazy. Ganon beside him is the only thing that’s made so much bed rest possible. He’d basically spent three days lying in bed with Ruta, and he’s not too keen on three more. He wants to sing again. He wants to go outside and just live. So with Ganon eating eggs and pancakes at the kitchen table with his eyes closed, Link dives into the closet in the bedroom.

They've lived separately for so long that he's not quite sure what clothes he has here. Obviously some of the sexier lingerie, but that's not what he's looking for. It’s chilly outside, with the rain threatening to turn to ice or snow. But he’ll be in and out of different outfits at the store, so he doesn’t want anything with a lot of buttons or anything that will make him sweat. Getting stuck in a fitting room because his sweaty back sticks to the clothes is never fun. He settles on a pair of high-waist trousers and a blouse that will keep him cool. He’d forgotten he even owned this blouse—a light pink like someone had spilled watercolors on it. The trousers are white and hug him nicely when he buttons them up and judges himself in the mirror. Ganon appears in the doorway at that point, looking a bit more awake, but with his hair a mess.

“I ate your pancakes. Are you happy now?”

Link tosses a smile over his shoulder and says, “I’d be happier if you got dressed and called the car around.”

Grumbling something under his breath, Ganon approaches Link until he’s close enough to touch. Link turns fully around just in time for Ganon’s hands to cradle his hips and tug him forward. Link slides across the floor in his socks and giggles as Ganon bends down to mouth at his neck and jaw. Ganon has always favored the right side of Link’s neck and thankfully misses the marks on the other side. Link tries not to think about them when he sees them in a mirror. He definitely doesn’t think about them right now in Ganon’s arms. Link’s heart and insides give an excited jolt when big hands slip around to tease the tops of his ass.

Humming and squirming against Ganon’s body, Link clings to his shoulders as the kisses and gentle bites to his neck continue. Link cranes his head the other way to give everything to Ganon. This is infinitely nicer without Ruta’s unwanted gift around his neck, without Ruta’s lip at his skin. Link’s fingers dig into Ganon’s shoulders as he hauls them tighter together. He also tries to squeeze one of Ganon’s thighs between his. Them standing without a wall or something to lean on isn’t conducive to them making out like this, and Link slows them down before they fall. A gentle caress to Ganon’s red and white hairline gets him to stop.

“I love you,” Link sighs. “I missed you, and I’m so glad to be home.”

Ganon perks up a bit like the confession surprises him. Perhaps he’d expected a quip from Link about them getting nowhere fast biting and pawing at each other. Initial surprise over, Ganon urges Link to stand on the tips of his toes in order to kiss him. Link gladly meets him halfway and holds Ganon’s jaw while they kiss. Ganon has since trimmed his beard back into submission and tidied his hair. Everything is as it should be—them together, Ganon well groomed, both of them sleeping well. Link smiles into their kiss and pulls far enough away to catch Ganon’s eyes. When Ganon darts forward to steal another kiss, Link grins and cranes his head out of reach. It feels good to flirt like this with Ganon. It's refreshing after his three days of terror and uncertainty. Things can go back to normal, now.

They share the backseat of the car when Ganon calls it around. Link cuddles right up to his side bundled up in a thick coat. He’d watched Ganon dress smartly like he always does—suit and tie, even on a simple shopping trip. Link manages to coax him out of the jacket once they’re in Link’s favorite store. They may be here for an hour or two, and there's no point in Ganon sweating through his suit jacket. He leaves it on a coat rack in the fitting room along with their winter coats. They've already walked around the store and filled up a rack on wheels with things Link wants to try on.

He enjoys the new fashion coming out, how trousers are starting to come in bright colors with dropped waists. The first pair he comes out in, a pretty sea foam color that reminds Link of bathroom tiles, Ganon perks up at the sight of him. He's never seen pants like these on Link, waist low and hugging his wide hips. He stands after a moment just to hold Link and feel his figure through the trousers. Link holds on to his forearms to stop his sweetheart from starting anything naughty. Ganon certainly stares at him with a heavy look, bowing his head down like he wants a kiss. Link smacks one to his cheek instead and nearly runs back into the fitting room. He has many more things to try on.

Ganon sits with his legs crossed to hide his interest as Link reappears in many cute outfits over the span of an hour or so. His hair is a bit tussled from whipping blouses on and off, stepping in and out of dresses. Sometimes, Link has to call Ganon to the crack of the dressing room door in order for the man to zip him up. Ganon takes those opportunities to slide his hands into the room and fondle Link while kissing his neck. He watches them in the mirror, Link squirming and gasping in his hands. Link always pinches or smacks them away in order to stop Ganon.

Of course, Ganon doesn't intend to start anything here. He walks on eggshells around Link when it comes to sex or anything intimate. Link hasn't told him as much yet, but Ganon reads the atmosphere well enough. He knows exactly how lovebites on Link’s neck and finger-shaped bruises on his hips had ended up there. But if Link isn't ready to talk about it, then he won't push it. Link responds well to the little bit of kissing and necking they get up to. But until Link gives him a sign, initiates, he won’t go further.

Naturally, Link picks up on Ganon not raising the issue. He'd given Ganon an abbreviated account of Officer Ruta kidnapping him, keeping him chained in the basement apartment, and then his escape. He'd skipped the sex between him and the officer mostly to not upset Ganon. Ganon wouldn't appreciate Link explaining away why the sex had happened. No verbal agreement had ever passed between him and Ruta on the exchange of sex for food, a bath, or anything else. It had seemed like an easy way to bend Ruta and get the mad man to do what Link wanted—or needed sometimes, in the case of food. Maybe knowing the truth—Link’s truth—would upset Ganon even more than the rape itself. Link sighs and tries to push such unhappy thoughts from his mind, but they just resurface as some other woe.

Link pets at the soft, deep red of the last dress he’s picked to try on. He'd wanted to try some blue ones, but they’d just remind him of the damn necklace. He wonders if Ruta had found it upon returning home, thrown on the floor and discarded. Had he yelled for Link? Hoping against hope that Link had just been in the bathroom or hiding? Link imagines the frantic, terrified expression on Ruta’s face and has to hold his own in his hands. He doesn't want to think about the man, but he can't stop. He stands there, sucking down air through his mouth, past the bottoms of his palms.

Ganon can't see him like this. Link holds his breath to force down the tight, hot ball of ugliness in his stomach. If he were home, he might crawl into the shower and let the patter of the water cover up his little hiccups. Ganon will hear him now if he starts crying in the middle of the store. Link drops a hand from his face and blindly slaps the wall for the trousers he'd worn into the store. In one of the pockets, he finds a handkerchief. “GD” is monogrammed into a corner, and Link makes sure not to wipe his eyes and nose on that corner. Link covers his mouth with the clean cloth and just breathes for a minute or two. A light knock on the dressing room door startles him.

“Hey, you stuck in there?” Ganon’s rich voice slips around the door with a chuckle in it. “Thought you had one more dress. Need help?”

Link takes in a quiet gulp of air through his mouth to try and steady his voice.

“I'm fine. Just um… sweating a little. I don't wanna get stuck.”

His voice isn't as stable as he thinks. Link feels it in the way Ganon says nothing immediately after him. Link clutches the handkerchief in his hands and waits for the other foot to drop.

The handle to the dressing room jiggles a little before Ganon says, “Open the door. I wanna see you.”

He's not talking about the dress, although Link stands there in his underwear, ready to try it on. It's best not to fight Ganon right now. The edge in his voice isn't playful, doesn't want to be challenged. Link wishes he had some ice cubes to press under his eyes to get rid of the bruises there. Ganon will know instantly that he'd been crying. But he swallows his stomach, turns around, and opens the door as Ganon had asked. It cracks open enough for Ganon to glance at him.

Link doesn't bother bowing his head. Ganon knows he's upset. The door squeaks as Ganon pulls it open a bit more. He squeezes through the crack and then shuts the door behind him. It's not uncomfortable to fit them both in the room, but it is close quarters. Ganon’s hands rise slowly from his sides to cup Link’s jaw. He tilts his little love’s head up until their eyes meet. Link swallows hard in his grasp and readies an apology, and explanation, something . Ganon beats him to it.

“You're beautiful,” he murmurs low enough for only them to hear. “No matter what he did to you, you're beautiful. I don't care about the why. And I won't make you talk about it.” His thumbs pet the apples of Link’s cheeks until a smile blooms on Link’s lips. “He'll never hurt you again. Never. And if you need to talk, I'll listen. And if I'm not good enough, I'll find the best shrink in the world to listen to you. Whatever you need. Okay?”

Link gives a few nods between Ganon’s hands. Link squeezes his hands between them, too, and twists his fingers in Ganon’s suit vest. Ganon welcomes him closer and touches their foreheads together. It's exactly what Link needs right now.

“We’re going there today… Wherever he is, to see him. Aren't we?”

“Yep.”

Link had thought as much. Seeing Officer Ruta again… He's not keen on it, but Ganon wants him to as a power move. Link sighs and shuffles forward to hide his face in Ganon’s shoulder. Ganon’s hands fall away from his face to let him. They're warm in the small of Link’s back where Ganon holds him instead. They flinch once Ganon realizes how low they are, how close they are to Link’s backside. Yesterday and even earlier, they’d flirted so easily. And yet the atmosphere around them is heavy, and Ganon hesitates. That's Ganon walking on eggshells again.

Link’s stomach flips at the idea of never falling into bed with Ganon again, never pulling their clothes off to touch and hold each other. He doesn't want Ganon to avoid sex or intimacy with him because of this. Huffing, Link slips his arms around Ganon’s neck to pull them flush together. Ganon hums in his ear, puzzled at first. Link stands up on the tips of his toes in order to hold Ganon this way. He finds one of Ganon’s thighs with the knob of his knee and then traps it between both of his. Ganon hums again in his ear, only this time it's a pleased, suggestive sort of sound. Ganon grabs him by the hips instead and steadies Link’s little dance he's been doing on his toes. That drags Link forward enough for Ganon to return his close embrace. He's not quite hard against Link’s thigh, but Link shivers anyway.

“I have to admit, this won't be the weirdest place I've felt you up,” Ganon says warmly in his ear. “Maybe the most uncomfortable, though. Tight fit in here.”

“We can have sex, you know.” Link rubs his cheek against Ganon’s shoulder. “Not, like, right now. But we can. I want to.”

“Yea?”

“Mmm hmm,” Link hums while hiding his blush in Ganon’s shirt. “I want to.”

He can practically feel Ganon’s grin when he murmurs, “Yea? Where should we go? Been awhile since we used the bed, although you do look so pretty on my desk…”

Link gives a little tug to Ganon’s hair bound at the nape of his neck.

“You brute. Don't talk about that here.”

Ganon’s hands slip a little from Link’s hips until his thick fingers squeeze and fondle Link’s ass. Link squirms against him and yanks on his hair again. There is a time and place for this, and the fitting room is neither! Luckily, that last tug on Ganon’s hair gets him to stop. He gives Link a pinch for his troubles before returning his hands to Link’s hips. He nudges Link away, although that isn't far in the dressing room, and swoops down to kiss his forehead. That sweet kiss means more to Link than all the others. He smiles up at Ganon in thanks, holding on to his upper arms.

Ganon nods his head towards the last dress and says, “I always liked you better in red. You're beautiful in blue, but red is better.”

“You would think that,” Link teases while turning his head away, showing Ganon his blushing cheek.

Sweeping down to kiss Link’s temple again, Ganon lets him go.

“Have you been making different piles of what you want and don't want?”

It's a throw away question to get them off the topic of Officer Ruta, and Link is eternally grateful for it.

Nodding, Link flicks a hand beyond the door and says, “Everything I want is on the rack right outside the door. The other stuff that can go back is hanging near where you're sitting. I was going to put them back myself.”

“Let the people who work here do that.” Ganon shuffles around to leave, hand already on the door. “That's what they're paid for.”

“Yes, but what's the harm in doing something nice and saving them time?”

Ganon just hums at him and shuts the door. Link is alone in the fitting room and stands there unmoving for a moment to listen to Ganon’s dress shoes click across the floor. His deep voice murmurs lowly to someone, probably an employee. Link lets out a deep breath, one that deflates him a little. Ganon had made him temporarily forget his crying spell and all the emotions that went with it. Link laughs to himself, at himself, a little, wondering what all the fuss had been about. He doubts that's the last time he'll cry over this—throat tight, stomach in a knot. Eyes closed, Link centers himself with a few deep breaths. Everything will be okay. After today, after Ganon sends Officer Ruta far away, he'll never see the man again. Never hear his voice or have to accept his unwanted gifts.

Link smiles a little at that. Knowing today will be the last day lifts him up and makes him lighter than he's been in a while. Gloom dissipated for a bit, Link whips the red dress off the hanger with renewed interest. He steps into it, careful to not trip. The whole thing is held up by a loop that goes around his neck. The dress has a dropped back, showing off his spine and shoulder blades, all the way to the small of his back. It's a bit risqué when he looks at himself over his shoulder. It hugs his ass and hips just right, though. Men would hound and drool over him in this. It will make a lot of money for Ganon if he sings in it. Biting his lip, Link turns to the door and slips out.

Ganon’s emerald eyes already wait for Link the moment the door opens. So Link catches the second Ganon fully takes in the sight of him. Slits in the sides of the dress reveal a bit of leg as the material slides around him with his movements. Ganon’s eyes don't seem to know where to look first—that teasing peek of thigh, Link’s bare shoulders, the dropped neckline. Link gives Ganon a hooded smile before turning on the ball of a foot to show off the back. Red scrapes from his escape still litter Link’s back, but the cuts are all scabbed over and pink at the edges. They're already healing. Link worries for a split second that Ganon will find him unsightly. But Ganon’s pleased hum rakes a shiver up and down Link’s body. It's a deep, suggestive sort of hum, and Link knows exactly what Ganon wants to do to him. Warmth soon blankets his back, and Ganon’s hands find his hips over the material of the dress. His warm, humid breath tickles across Link’s ear as he bends down to make their conversation private, intimate.

“Yes, much better than blue. I could just unwrap you like a sweet and eat you.”

Link sputters out a laugh at that and reaches up to cover Ganon’s hands on him.

“You're ridiculous,” Link says over his laugh. He spies Ganon nuzzling his hair in the mirror from the dressing room and knows Ganon is just being playful. “Do you really like it that much?”

Ganon drags Link back the inch or two that separates them. Ganon’s playfulness presses hot and hard against Link’s backside, dashing any doubts in Link’s head.

“You tell me.”

Link pinches the back of one of Ganon’s hands, blushing madly, and giggles, “I believe you. Now get your paws off me so I can change back into my clothes.”

Ganon presses himself harder against Link to purr in his ear, “Oh yea? And what if I don't want to?”

“I somehow think you will,” Link teases. “What was all that about unwrapping me like candy? We can't do that here.”

Ganon blows an exhale across the shell of Link’s ear before grumbling, “Fine. Be that way.”

It's all in good fun, and Link whips around to kiss Ganon’s cheek before he gets too far. Ganon gives him one more look over—gaze burning and exciting Link’s skin—before nodding to the dressing room. Link steps out of the dress with a sense of satisfaction, but also worry. When they leave here, they'll no doubt head to wherever Officer Ruta is. Link dresses carefully while keeping his mind off what he might see. Three days held captive at the mercy of Ganon’s henchmen… Link knows what sorts of things happen to Ganon’s enemies.

Link chews at a nail while thinking that maybe death would have been better for Officer Ruta. It may not have been painless, but it would probably be over by now… Link stomps down his sympathy and shoves his upper body back into his pink blouse. Officer Ruta had stalked him for a month—at least—and ruined Link’s sense of security. He'd kidnapped him, played mind games with him, raped him… Link leans against the wall of the dressing room and rubs a hand over his face. He will have no sympathy for what he sees, he decides. Officer Ruta’s punishment is out of his hands. He’d only requested Ganon not kill him.

Drawing in a calm breath, Link picks up the red dress and finally exits the fitting room. He finds a place at Ganon’s side as Ganon pays and arranges for the bought items to be delivered. They pile back in the car, coats restored, and Link sits in a daze as they drive off. There’s no point in watching the scenery whizz by, try to keep track of where they’re going. Wherever Ganon has Officer Ruta held captive, it’s secret and secure. So Link closes his eyes and tries to clear his mind. When Ganon wraps an arm around him, Link holds on just for comfort. He's ready to end this.

Chapter Text

When the salt scent of the sea creeps into the car, Link knows exactly where they are. Ganon does business down by the docks often and owns a few buildings under a false name. It's usually where his henchmen pick up their supplies and distribute it to other underlings. Link has only been here a few times, but he's not surprised this is where Officer Ruta is. Who would hear him scream out here? Any smart sailor would turn a deaf ear. It's none of their business, and Ganon can ruin them without lifting a finger. It's in their best interest to carry on.

Link waits for Ganon to climb out of the car before accepting his hand and stepping out, too. The car’s engine cuts outs as they walk away. It's not Mr. Venture driving—Link suspects the old man is for him personally—so Link does not bid the man farewell. He's not likely to get a reply either. It's safer for Ganon’s men not to interact with him. A few have paid the price for their wandering hands and foul words whispered in Link’s ear. It only takes Ganon choking a few of them in front of the rest to drive that point home. Still, Link keeps close and holds on to Ganon’s arm as they wander between buildings.

They stop at one deep in this industrial maze, and Ganon unlocks the door. He motions for Link to step in front of them and then plunges them into darkness when he closes the door behind them. Ganon keeps close behind him as they shuffle down a narrow hallway. Artificial walls break up the warehouse’s interior. It makes for a cramped journey. Link’s shoes scuff on the concrete floor as he drags his feet along. Ganon is almost silent behind him except for the tap of his leather shoes striking the floor with each stride. Doors break up the false walls, but with the windows blacked out, Link cannot see inside with just a passing glance.

The farther they walk, the tighter Link’s insides wind up. Ganon stops him with a hand on his shoulder, squashing the material of Link’s coat, and directs him to open a door to their right. He does so and steps inside at Ganon’s gentle nudge. A table and single chair sit in the middle of the small room. Like the hallway, the floor is still concrete, walls bare. A single light fixture hangs from the ceiling, but it doesn’t provide much light. It reminds Link of some of the meeting rooms in the club. The only difference is the wall to his left.

It's clearly glass, but dark like the windows of the car outside. Link watches their reflections in it as Ganon guides him to the chair. If Link squints in the dim light of the single bulb dangling from the ceiling, he almost makes out the silhouette of a figure sitting in a chair similar to his. Their hands must be tied behind their back, legs bound to the chair as well. They aren’t moving, slumped over with their chin in their chest. Link almost leaps out of his skin when he realizes it must be Ruta. Only Ganon’s hands firmly pushing him down keep him seated.

“He can't see you,” Ganon says into his ear, bending down to do so. “Only you can see him. You can hear him, too.”

Swallowing hard, Link asks, “Do I have to?”

“You said no killing,” Ganon points out with an edge to his voice. “Those were your words rather specifically. So I'm not. He's going to apologize to you, and then we’re done. It won't take long.”

Ganon’s hands slip from Link’s shoulders, and Link watches his reflection step back towards the door. Link rocks onto his left thigh in order to scramble at Ganon's coat. Material caught in this fist, Link holds on to the table with his right to stop Ganon’s departure.

“Wait, don't-don’t leave me here. I don't want to watch you beat anyone, please—”

Ganon takes his hand and carefully unwinds Link’s fingers from his coat.

“I hadn't planned on that, but I will if he doesn't cooperate. He will apologize, and then you'll never see him again. I won't be gone long, and you don't have to watch if you don't want to. Just cover your eyes.”

“Gan, wait!”

Link’s voice echoes in the small room, but Ganon doesn't stop. The door clicks shut behind him, but does not lock. Link clings to the front of his coat while glancing between the door and the glass wall in front of him. The bent figure beyond the glass hasn't moved. Link’s breaths ratchet up until he can't hear anything except his own voice wheezing through each inhale. It's damp and dark in this room, much like his basement prison. Link squeezes his eyes shut and remembers the moist air, how bare everything had been, how cold he'd been except for Ruta lying beside him.

Link picks his feet off the floor and braces the heels of his shoes on the edge of the chair. He huddles like that and buries his head in his knees. His coat provides warmth, but he may as well be right back there in Ruta’s bedroom. Muffled voices and the door in the other room opening have Link picking his head up. Two men enter followed by Ganon. His winter coat is gone, but his suit jacket remains. Link perks up and watches them approach Officer Ruta in the chair.

A henchman kicks at the wooden legs and grunts, “Wake up.”

“How could I sleep with so much noise?”

Link shivers in his coat. So Ruta has been awake the whole time. Link shrinks down into the opening of his coat. He hopes Ganon is right and that Ruta cannot see him. He watches through the glass as the man picks his head up. A bright light bursts into life above him, and Link sees him flinch. His face is a swath of bruises and cuts, collar of his white undershirt dark with blood old and new. Dark circles under his eyes may be from lack of sleep or fists—Link isn’t sure. The officer sniffs hard before staring intently through the class. Link shrinks down even more.

Office Ruta must see Ganon’s reflection somehow, because he says softly, “And to whom do I owe the pleasure of meeting you again?”

“No pleasure, only business.” Ganon steps forward and drags Ruta and the chair away from the wall by the back of it. “If you cooperate, you'll never see me again. Can't say I'm not heartbroken over it.”

“Cooperate?” Ruta still stares at the glass. “Oh, you mean the apology. Well,” he sighs and closes his eyes, finally breaking the spell he's unknowingly cast over Link. “As I have not seen my darling Link as proof of life, I will do no such thing. And I’ve told your fellows that the chief of police won’t stand for this. There’s probably a search party looking for me right now.”

“Doubt that,” Ganon snarks right back.

Link’s eyebrows come together in the middle. He watches one of the henchmen in the room leave for a moment, turn in the hallway, and then reappear. In his hands, he holds a telephone. The curled cable connecting the handset to the base dangles down. The henchman approaches Ganon, trailing the phone cord behind him. It must be a long cord for the man to drag the phone from another room and into this one. Link watches it all with a puzzle on his lip and tension in his gut. What’s happening?

“You think your chief of police is looking for you, huh? Like your the first rookie to get tangled up with me?”

Ganon says as much like he can’t believe Officer Ruta is that stupid. He takes the phone from the henchman, dials a number, and then waits. Link cannot hear the voice on the other line, but Ruta can. That’s all that matters.

“Georgie, what a pleasant evening,” Ganon says with an edge to his voice. “You must be thrilled to hear from me. I have one of your patrolmen with me.” Ganon pauses to hear the other man speak. “No, not him, but I know where you can find some pieces of him. No, this is Ruta I have. He kidnapped one of my people and had them holed up in his apartment for a few days. The apartment you don’t know about, apparently.” Another pause. “Oh no, I got him fair and square. He came snooping around, looking for the same person when they escaped. Anyway, I need to buy him from you.”

Link watches some of the color fade from Ruta’s handsome face.

“The way I see it, you actually owe me one after that bank robbery downtown. My man your little kiddes shot wasn’t even a part of that. Innocent bystander, if you will.” Ganon nods with the handset cradled between his shoulder and chin. He stares at Officer Ruta in a casual sort of way. “If you say that again, a bit louder, he’ll probably hear it. If you would, please?”

Holding the handset up, Ganon angles it towards Officer Ruta for him to hear. Whatever this “Georgie” says, it doesn’t settle well with Ruta. More color drains out of him, but he says nothing to the phone. With a satisfied smile on his face, Ganon holds the handset back up to his ear and mouth.

“All right, well, that’s all squared away. Pleasure doing business with you, chief. I’m sure we’ll be hearing from each other soon.”

He hangs up, smile dropping off his face instantly, and shoves the phone back into the henchman’s waiting hands. Link doesn’t watch the man scamper off. Ganon takes a step closer to Ruta and rests his hand on the back of the chair. Ganon towers above Officer Ruta. He leans some weight on the chair, using his bulk and power to prove who is in control here. It’s obvious to everyone except him who is in control.

“So, as you heard, your chief of police doesn’t give a shit if you live or die. Lucky for you, I’m not here to kill you. But I will be having that apology from you.”

Gritting his teeth, Ruta snarls, “That is immaterial. I refuse to speak to you without proof that Link is alive. For all I know, he’s already dead! I demand proof of life and—”

Ganon’s huge hand still holding the back of the chair yanks on it. The chair and Ruta go topping to the floor. Link winces as Officer Ruta’s head smacks the ground, adding to his injuries. It knocks the air out of him, leaving him gasping. Ganon steps around his wheezing form and plants a foot in the middle of his chest.

“Proof of life, huh? And what makes you think you're entitled to that?” Ganon steps down harder. “You act like you're the good guy here. You're not.”

Choking and straining, Ruta bites out, “Do whatever you want to me, I don't care. Just let Link go.”

Ganon’s thick eyebrows come together in the middle. He leaves his foot on Officer Ruta’s chest, maybe stepping down more to get him to shut up, and turns at the waist.

“Can one of you tell me what he's talking about?”

The henchman yet to speak smirks a little while he says, “Cop here thinks Link is caught up in some ‘terrible business’ from what he says. Thinks you're gonna kill him or sell him.”

Officer Ruta writhes under Ganon’s foot and wheezes, “I saw you… with him. Your men… in his apartment…”

Ganon rolls his eyes and removes his foot. He walks around to the front of the chair where Officer Ruta’s legs are tied. He flips the chair back upright by stepping on a rung between the front legs. Ruta stares down in his lap while catching his breath. Link wonders if Ganon had broken anything.

“Your assumptions couldn't be more wrong. And I don't want to hear you talk unless it's an apology to Link coming out of your mouth.”

Panting through pain, Officer Ruta stutters out, “Not… Not without seeing him. For all I-I know, you've killed him.”

“He's in good health, no thanks to you.”

Ruta whips his head up, teeth bare, and barks out, “I was taking care of him! Like he deserves! Not leasing him out to crowds of deranged, perverse men. He was happy with me!”

Ganon pinches the bridge of his nose. Link eyes his waist as all of Ganon’s frustrations pool behind his eyes. He knows a gun is strapped somewhere to him. Either his waist or under his arm. Holding him in the store today hadn't revealed to Link exactly where. Then again, Ganon may have not worn the gun to the store. Although Link can't imagine his sweetheart without a gun on his person or at least within reach. Feet on the floor again, Link stands from the table and chair and wanders nearer to the glass wall. Ruta stares at it again while gritting his teeth. Up close like this, he's more beaten than Link had first thought. He's about to get more if he doesn't be quiet. Ganon doesn't have much patience in normal circumstances, and Link sees him running thin on it right now.

“Is anybody else tired of hearing him talk?”

Ganon proposes the question to his two henchmen. They nod in agreement without a word.

“Great, as long as it’s unanimous…”

Hand flicking out of his pocket, Ganon thumbs up the blade of a knife and presents it to Officer Ruta. Sequestered in his room, Link startles on his feet. Nearly slipping to the floor in his haste, Link throws himself at the door and tumbles into the hallway. Ganon had promised him not to kill anyone! Link doesn't want to live with more blood on his hands. He mourns the one man Officer Ruta had killed at the start of all this, can't bear to face the twisted guilt from his tormentor dying, too. He can't help that guilt in spite of Ruta repulsing him in every other facet. Link wraps a hand around the interrogation room’s doorknob, but pauses when Ganon speaks.

“The apology is the only thing I'm here for. Anything else and I'm cutting your tongue out.”

Ignoring the knife, Ruta bites out, “I’m not apologizing for anything. I'm not agreeing to anything unless I see Link.”

Biting back a shiver, Link pushes the door open.  The henchmen toss a glance over their shoulders and recognize him instantly.

“Boss,” they say at the same time.

Ganon looks over too and scowls at Link. Frowning back, Link steps fully into the room and closes the door behind him.

“Nobody told you to move,” Ganon growls at him.

Officer Ruta’s head twists around as best it can to see whom Ganon is talking to. The moment he sees Link, his whole face opens.

“Oh darling, you're all right! I was so worried about you. What happened, did these men break in and kidnap you? Oh Link, I've been trying to get you out of whatever trouble you're in for days, now. Everything will be all right, I promise, I—”

Ganon’s hand in Officer Ruta’s hair, yanking his head back to expose his throat, cuts off his words. The tip of the blade presses dangerously hard to the hollow of Ruta’s cheek.

“You don't listen very well,” Ganon spits out near his face. “You aren't talking to him, get it? I'm the only one you're talking to, and the only thing”—Ganon pushes the knife just a bit harder, and the skin of Officer Ruta’s cheek slices open—“you will be saying is an apology to him. Is that clear enough?”

But Ruta only has eyes for Link, even as Link steps forward to try and stop Ganon from doing any more damage. He knows Officer Ruta will just keep talking.

“Did they hurt you, darling? I promise you'll be free, I’ll—”

“Gan, stop! You said you wouldn't kill him!”

Ganon eyes Link across the room, held back by his henchman. One digs in the pocket of his suit jacket to fish out foam plugs. He offers them to Link in the palm of his hand. That done, Ganon returns his furious gaze to the current issue

“Here kid,” one of Ganon’s men whispers. “Put these in your ears. If you're gonna be in here, you're gonna need them. Plus it'll block out this asshole a little bit.”

Link just keeps staring at Ganon, begging him not to go back on his promise. The other henchman shakes Link a bit to get him to snap out of it. Lip in his teeth, Link takes the earplugs and shoves them in. He's worn them before, although under a pair of earmuffs, too. Ganon had taught him how to shoot a gun along with the other self-defense tactics. Link just hopes the henchman’s warning is empty.

“He’s here, although I'm not happy about it.” Ganon says that last part while glaring at the three of them near the door. “So. Apologize, and we’ll be on our way.”

Ruta keeps right on ignoring Ganon and the knife held delicately above his cheek. Blood stains the edge of the blade.

“I should have never left you, my sweet Link. I hope you can forgive me for that. They only got to you because of my foolishness. Please tell me that you're all right.”

Ganon waits for Ruta to stop rambling before he moves. Blade transferred to his left hand, he strikes out with his right and socks the officer in the face. Link jumps behind the hands of the henchmen. The force of Ganon’s blow knocks Ruta and the chair onto their sides with Ruta’s head meeting the floor yet again. Link hears Officer Ruta's muffled gasp. It's wet like he's choking on something, which turns out to be blood when Ganon forces the chair upright again. Officer Ruta goes rocking from side to side a little as his world turns. He spits out blood, although he can't coordinate his mouth well enough to spit it away from him. Most of it goes spilling over his lips and down his chin. Link tears his eyes away from the violence only to find a white but bloody tooth on the floor. That’s almost worse that Ruta’s red mouth and chin, so Link stares at Ganon instead.

Ruta’s hair is once again in Ganon’s fist as he yanks the officer up and says slowly, “You don’t. Talk. To him. Understand? Nod if you understand.”

Like a moth to a flame, Ruta only has eyes for Link. Link thinks maybe he shouldn’t have come in here. Officer Ruta watching him is so much worse than just being near him like before. Link is waiting for something impossible to happen. The chair breaks. The ropes loosen on Ruta’s arms. Something. He somehow frees himself, runs over here, and then Link is trapped all over again. The henchmen haven’t removed their hands, intent on keeping Link away from the action. He wants to thank them, even if they don’t mean their hands on him as comfort. It’s better than nothing.

Link doesn’t meet Officer Ruta’s eyes and instead watches Ganon flip his knife closed to secret it back on his person. When that’s done, his right shakes Ruta’s hair out of his fingers, slips into his suit jacket, and returns with a gun instead. Link tenses up between the henchmen, and his wide eyes alert Officer Ruta to the danger. When he directs his gaze back towards said danger, he finds the barrel of a handgun pressed snuggly to the top of his thigh.

“Maybe we knocked you around too much and you’re having some cognition problems. That’s fair,” Ganon says lightly, like they’re talking about the weather. “To recover our bases: one, you do not talk to him. And two, I want an apology and nothing else from that mouth of yours. This will all be over after that. Understand?”

Eyes softly closed, Ruta mutters, “I will die before apologizing to you for nothing.”

“I would love to match you on that bet. But…” Ganon turns narrow eyes Link’s way. “That’s not the sort of game we’re playing here. Apologize.”

Ruta opens his eyes only to roll them and then look Link’s way again.

“Darling, please explain to this idiotic—”

Even through the foam plugs, the crack of a gun firing in this enclosed space nearly deafens Link. Ganon must have earplugs, too, because he doesn’t flinch while aiming the barrel down at one of Officer Ruta’s feet. The plugs don’t do a good job of blocking his shriek of pain, either. That curls Link’s stomach, and he finally hides his face behind one of the henchmen’s shoulders.

All three of them had jumped as one at the miniature explosion. The one Link hides behind doesn’t try to shrug him away. Link misses the way Officer Ruta’s whole body tries to lift off the chair once Ganon shoots his foot. Link also misses the blood oozing through the hole in his shoe. The screams of pain continue, but Link doesn’t hear much over the rush of his own breathing. He bites back a whine, and one of the henchmen tightens their hands on him.

Tired of playing games, Ganon smacks a hand over Officer Ruta’s mouth and yells, “Apologize, or the next one is going through your shin.”

When Ganon removes his hand, Officer Ruta immediately screams, “Run, darling, get out of here! Link—”

Link jumps again at the next shot and feels no shame at pressing his cheek to the arm of the henchman on his left. Ruta runs out of air when he screams this time and has to drag in breaths over his cries of agony.

“You really don’t get it,” Ganon says more to the room than to the screaming man under his gun. His voice booms in the enclosed room, and Link hears it loud and clear through the plugs and over Ruta. “This isn’t some make-believe world where you’re the hero rescuing someone. You stalked him, violated him, kidnapped him, and held him against his will. He’s not here for you. He’s here to make sure I don’t kill you, which I would love to do.”

Officer Ruta’s cries have lessened some. He shakes terribly in the chair, probably never been shot before today. Ganon stoops down a bit to be face-level with him. He waits, silent and more patient than he’s ever been, for red-rimmed eyes to look up at him.

“You fucked up,” Ganon says matter-of-factly. He nods to himself and adds, “Yep. More so than I thought was possible. But all that can go away if you apologize to him. For the stalking. Bothering him after every show. Raping him however many times you did.”

Ganon stands back up to his full height and aims the gun down near where Ruta’s legs meet his torso. And although Office Ruta is tied securely, absolutely to the chair, his thighs try to close to protect himself. He doesn’t budge.

“This is your last chance. Bullets are magic, and above your knees, they sometimes tango with some pretty important arteries.” He gestures towards Ruta’s crotch. “You’ll bleed out eventually, and I wouldn’t call that me killing you.”

Ganon turns his head to his henchmen and Link. The henchmen are a bit paler than they were, having never seen Ganon get his hands dirty. Link still isn’t looking their way.

“Wouldn’t you agree, gentlemen?”

All three nod, whether they agree or not.

“So. Apologize right now, or I’m going to hurt you like you hurt him. Got it?”

Breathing hard and blinking tears out of his eyes, Ruta turns them once again on Link’s shaking form.

“I… I…”

The henchmen and Link hold their collective breaths. Will Officer Ruta spout more nonsense? Have two bullet holes in him not beaten the point home that he is the offender in this case? Ganon is no angel, kills people or is the reason for their deaths quite regularly. But he’s never done what Ruta did to him. Link squashes any false sympathy that tries to spring up in him. Ganon has given him every opportunity to see the error of his ways. Perhaps Officer Ruta is unreachable.

Link swallows the bitter splash of bile in the back of his throat. He decides right then that if Ganon shoots Ruta a third time and the man dies… he won’t hold it against his sweetheart. Link will live with the guilt over Ruta dying from this, but he won’t be angry with Ganon. It’s a great show of love that Ganon hadn’t just shot him in the head the first day. That’s his typical response to pests like this.

“Time is a factor for any gunshot wound, as you would know, Officer. Think carefully about what you’re going to say, but think quickly.”

Link picks his head up enough to peek his right eye over the henchman’s shoulder. Ruta’s head is slack and rolled back like his neck is broken. His wet eyes stare right at Link, catch his eye when Link turns it on him. Ruta’s stubborn, false bravery has melted. Link knows he won’t break the rules again.

“I’m sorry,” he rasps, voice broken from screaming. “I’m so sorry, darling. For everything. I never meant to hurt you I…” The gun aimed at him twitches, and Ruta jumps despite it not going off. “I’ve always loved you, Link. I’m so sorry.”

Ganon hums at all of that, probably not believing a single word. But he turns narrow, green eyes on Link. He wants confirmation, he wants Link’s nod of approval. Link does not accept such an apology in the formal sense, not like how he’d accepted Ganon’s apology for their argument shortly before his kidnapping. But he wants this over, desperately so like someone forced to walk away from their car broken down on the side of the freeway. Link shuffles on his feet, forcing his eyes away from Officer Ruta’s crying face. While meeting Ganon’s furious gaze, Link nods. Ganon’s thick eyebrows flick up a bit on his forehead, and that’s how Link knows Ganon accepts his response. The tiny click of the safety on the gun drains tension from Link and the henchmen. Link is sure he could sleep for a few days after this. He’s never been so tired.

Holstering his gun, Ganon nods to Officer Ruta and says to the henchmen, “Clean him up and get him out of here. Call up our connections in Lorule and see what they can do. Oh, and Officer…”

Ganon twist at the waist and waits for exhausted eyes to meet his.

“If I ever see you again, hear your voice in a crowd… Well, you’ll see. Or maybe you won’t! Be smart about it.”

Ganon approaches Link with a hand held out. It probably smells like fire and gunpowder, but Link takes it anyway. Ganon yanks him forward to hold him with one arm and tips Link’s head up with his free hand. Link controls his breathing as best he can. He just wants to go home and never think about this again. He’ll hear Ruta’s shrill screams in his nightmares tonight. Still, Link is happy it’s over. And Ganon had kept his promise. Link arches up on his toes to kiss Ganon’s cheek before tugging them towards the door. The henchmen walk forward to attend to Officer Ruta. Ganon hums down at him and sweeps his arm towards the door, wanting Link to lead. Link turns on the ball of shoe, ready to leave. They reach the door when Officer Ruta begins screaming again.

“Link! Don’t leave me.” He finds strength somehow to shuffle the chair across the floor, scraping the wood horribly. “Link! You don’t have to do this! We can-we can be together, Link, please, LINK!”

His screams turn incoherent as the henchmen deal with him in some manner. Link isn’t sure, because he huddles against Ganon’s chest and flattens his hands over his ears. The cold steel of Ganon’s gun presses into his shoulder through Ganon’s suit as he ushers them along. Even when the door to the interrogation room closes, Officer Ruta’s calls for him to come back, to not leave, ring into the hallway. If Ganon walks them a bit faster to the entrance for Link’s sake, Link won’t mention it.

Link sacrifices a hand from his ear to slap it over his mouth instead. He has now cried twice over this situation today. It’s two times too many in his book. But they burst outside, to the salt and spray of the docks, and Link throws himself against Ganon’s chest. Ganon’s back smacks into the door to the warehouse from Link slamming into him, but he doesn’t even grunt. His arms curl around Link’s waist and lift him off his feet to hold him. Link finds sanctuary with his arms around Ganon’s neck, his face in Ganon’s hair. Out here, Officer Ruta’s screams can’t reach them.

“It’s over, sweetheart,” Ganon murmurs in Link’s ear. It has the emerald stud, Link’s favorite. It’s where it belongs. “It’s over.”

Link whimpers under the huge hand that pets the back of his head. He’d worn his hair low today, just because he knew he’d be trying on clothes and probably mess it up anyway. Ganon shushes in his ear and just pets him until he calms down. Hollow and aching in his stomach, Link presses quick kisses to Ganon’s neck. It’s salty from sweat, but he smells good, clean.

“I love you,” Link says between kisses. “I love you and just… I want to go home. I want you. Please?”

Ganon sweep an arm under Link’s knees and carries him away from the warehouse. They’d left in such haste that Ganon sweeps into the car behind Link without his coat. Link cuddles up to him in the backseats anyway, up to his star-like heat. Link continues his little kisses there, stealing some from Ganon’s lips when his sweetheart bends his head down. Ganon has to stop Link from climbing into his lap a few times. He doesn’t try to calm Link’s frantic need for closeness. But they won’t accomplish anything here. Heart racing, Link eventually just clings to Ganon’s hand and calms his breaths while leaning against him.

Everything will be okay, just like Ganon has said. Ruta will be shipped off to Lorule somewhere. And without connections to the underground or traveling papers, it will be extremely difficult for him to find passage back here. He’ll also have two bullet scars to remind him why approaching Link ever again would be against his best interest. Still, every time Link calms down a little, his mind whips him into another frenzy. He doesn’t remember the car rolling to a stop, Ganon pulling him out of the back seats, or the elevator ride up. He spends it cradled in Ganon’s arms, face pressed tightly to his chest. Link sucks down a deep breath and escapes his circular thoughts only when Ganon throws him on the bed. He bounces a few times on his back, staring up at Ganon.

Hands fisting Ganon’s tie, Link tugs him down and throws his legs around Ganon’s waist. It’s a struggle, then, for Ganon to shed them of their clothes and do anything other than answer Link’s demand for kisses. Link whines into each one and claws at Ganon’s back to feel him more, harder. At one point, Ganon slips a hand between them to shove Link into the bed. Link gasps at the force and arches under Ganon’s hand, needing him close. Ganon takes that time to finally coax Link out of his expensive clothes. Link’s cute outfit and Ganon’s suit end up in a pile beside the bed. It’s nothing a wash and iron can’t fix, and neither of them are in the state of mind to worry about it. They aren’t even facing the headboard, too busy pawing at each other. Link writhing against him almost has Ganon spilling the oil they use all over the duvet and Link’s stomach. He had to pin his little love with his left hand while the right gets busy.

Ganon spreads kisses and bites along Link’s chest and stomach while preparing him. The first familiar brush of thick fingers between his cheeks punches a gasp out of Link. He arches against Ganon’s hand planted above his diaphragm. But that strength keeps him firmly down. Link flops, moaning and shaking, back to the bed when he knows his rocking is worthless. Ganon teases him slowly, taking all the time in the world to open him up. There’s nothing fumbling or inexperienced about this. Link can’t remember the last time he’d opened his eyes or said an intelligent word by the time Ganon kneels above him.

Link’s only instinct is to strike out and wrap his arms around Ganon’s neck. He drags the huge man down and squirms at the brush of something blood hot on his hole. It’s the only time Link’s stomach gives a terrified lurch. Ganon must sense his panic somehow, because he pets Link’s face with his left hand until Link’s eyes flutter open. They’re wet under his lids, but Ganon is ready to wipe away any tears.

“I love you, sweetheart,” Ganon tells him roughly. Sweat gathers in the creases of his nose, above his eyebrows. He gives a tiny nudge forward and watches Link’s whole body shiver. “Should I stop?”

Link shakes his head and mouths, “No,” a few times before he finds his voice.

“No, no, don’t stop, I don’t want you to stop, just-just hold me. Come here…”

Link pulls him back down. Ganon’s ear is treated to Link’s loud, startled gasp when he slips in. After the initial plunge, Link’s voice breaks over a squeal. He crosses his ankles behind Ganon’s back and squeezes ! He wants them together right now! Everything in him until he can’t think, can’t remember! Ganon obliges him with a deep, rumbling hum into Link’s hair. The blond strands smell faintly of the sea and the docks, minus the reek of dead fish. Ganon breathes in those scents when he begins to move, setting a pace Link’s squeezing legs demand. Link forces him faster and harder with pleas spilling from his lips. The bed rocks in an unfamiliar direction, but somehow the headboard still taps the wall—if a little offbeat.

Flat in the bed, body rocking to his lover’s powerful movements, Link’s eyes peek open to watch. He can almost see the side of Ganon’s head with them plastered together like this. It’s enough for him. He can’t handle Ganon’s piercing eyes right now. Link’s hips already ache from the mad, fast pace they’re at. But if it slows down, he might lose it. He’s never needed Ganon quite so badly before. Sweating and moaning under Ganon is the safest he’s felt in ages. There’s no buzz of anxiety, no cold chill of dread or anticipation… Just his skin and Ganon’s skin slipping against each other, their breaths getting lost in each other’s hair.

The air is humid between them when Ganon sits up enough to find Link’s mouth open and moaning. He slots their lips together and rolls his hips into Link’s body faster than before. Link knows he’ll come first and shouts into their kisses as each brush of firm flesh along his walls pushes him closer. Ganon and Officer Ruta don’t even compare to each other. Ganon knows him so well that he doesn’t have to try to make Link come. Link chokes on their kisses when it happens, almost bites Ganon’s tongue as his body jerks around that heavy cock in him. He throws his head into the bed to moan and call Ganon’s name to the empty bedroom. When they’d gotten here, he doesn’t remember. He doesn’t remember much of anything for a while.

Link returns to the world in a lazy sort of way. He acknowledges each ache and pain as it bubbles to the surface of his mind. The twinge of pain in his backside and hips is like an old friend, and he smiles and hums while stretching. Ganon is warm beside him. Somehow in his post-orgasm sleep, Link has rolled away from his love. Link rights that wrong despite his body aches and rubs his face into Ganon’s arm. The man himself lies on his stomach, sleeping peacefully. Link opens his eyes—even they hurt for some reason—just enough to see Ganon clearly.

His hair is a red and white mess, still caught in a hair tie. Link flings out a weak, trembling arm in order to free Ganon’s mane from the tie. He throws it somewhere near the edge of the bed, which is a feat for him at that point. Whether the hair tie makes it over the side of the bed or not is unclear. Link doesn’t care. Link watches his own hand tremble like a leaf in the wind as his fingers dive into Ganon’s hair. It’s rougher than Link is used to. He must have neglected it—along with other things—during Link’s absence. Link’s heart squeezes to the point of pain while thinking about it.

Squirming closer, Link kisses along Ganon’s arm and murmurs, “I love you, Gan.”

Ganon hums in his sleep. The arm Link kisses shifts under his lips, a warning that he should back away a bit. Once Link stops his little kisses, Ganon lifts that arm to pull Link to him. It’s a bit of a shuffle for them to lie cuddled up together. Ganon must roll onto his left side and tuck Link under his chin. Once settled, Link continues his little kisses along the red and white chest hair presented to him. Ganon manages a few chuckles, stomach jumping against Link, before he falls back asleep. They’re both too drained from the day to do much else.

The deafening crack of a firearm going off echoes in Link’s mind, but he pushes all that away. Officer Ruta doesn’t have a place in his thoughts right now. Not now, not ever. Link slips an arm around Ganon’s chest and holds him, too. He wants to thank Ganon for everything. Link knows Ganon will just wave it all away, call it nothing. Call it duty, perhaps. The phone ringing from the nightstand interrupts Link’s happy thoughts. He opens an eye to glare at it. It’s night out, perhaps some time past midnight. No one would be calling except a henchman maybe.

Link lets the phone go. Ganon doesn’t have an answering machine here. If it were an emergency, someone would just show up to the apartment and wake Ganon. Link already realizes with a sour frown that Ganon hasn’t slept here recently. Things had been complicated in the business before Ruta kidnapped him. That had been Ganon’s excuse for them not spending nights together. Link glances at Ganon’s peaceful face and hopes that mess is over and done. He doesn’t want to fall into old habits like before. They should spend nights together, go home from the club together at the end of Link’s show. Just the thought of singing again drains most of Link’s ire. It’s been over a week since his last show. He spares a thought to his fans, the crowd, and wonders if they miss him. He wonders if they’d worried about him as he falls asleep.

He wakes again sometime later, although at first he can’t tell why. It comes to him slowly that he’s not facing Ganon anymore. Ganon is not warm along his back. But the mattress bends under someone’s weight sitting at the edge. Link’s heart freezes in his chest at the ridiculous thought that it’s Ruta. Somehow. But that’s impossible. Link forces himself to breathe, to calm himself. Officer Ruta could never reach him here, for many reasons. Plus, the deep rumble of someone speaking is obviously Ganon. He must be talking on the phone that sits on the nightstand. And so long as Ganon is here, he’s safe. Once his initial panic dies down, Link’s eyes grow heavy again. The only thing that stops his quick slide back into slumber is the sting of cigarette smoke in his nose. Ganon must be smoking.

Head foggy from sleep, Link tries to tune in to what Ganon is saying. His body is too heavy to coax into rolling over and pawing at Ganon’s back. For the past month, he hasn’t slept so soundly. Link shivers a bit while thinking about Ruta, about what had happened. Ganon had made the offer of him seeing a doctor, if he was to talk to someone. A therapist is what he’d meant. Maybe he’ll do that.

Link snuggles deeper into the sheets under him and pulls the cover on top of him tighter to him. It couldn’t hurt, speaking to a professional. And if Ganon is the one offering, then Ganon must think highly of the idea, too. And a shrink would understand his guilt. Ganon denies that any of this is Link’s fault. But just as Ganon had blamed himself for Link’s kidnapping, Link blames himself, too. He doesn’t want to, but thinking about all the events that had lead to that night…

“Take the shot.”

Eyebrows together, Link shakes himself from the edge of sleep. Had Ganon said that just now? Who is he talking to? Link finds enough strength to glance over his shoulder. The curtains at the windows are still wide open from the day. They spill enough moonlight for Link to see the smoke billowing up from Ganon’s head. A cigarette, just as Link had thought. Ganon sits at the edge of the bed, as naked as when they’d fallen asleep together. The phone from the nightstand sits at his thigh, line from the wall stretched across the nightstand. The coiled cord connecting the base to the handset stretches up to Ganon’s hand. He sighs, still facing away from Link. Another drag off the cigarette held between the fingers of his left hand pours more smoke into the room. Link doesn’t want to risk a cough and give himself away, so he lies his head back down. The bed shifts as Ganon adjusts where he sits with the phone.

“Check in once you and the others return. I’m going back to bed.”

Ganon barely makes a sound as he hangs up the phone and returns it to its rightful place. He stays sitting up a moment longer to finish his cigarette and snuff it out. The bed shifts and dips as Ganon lifts the covers and slides back behind Link. Eyes shut, Link tries to keep his breaths even. What had Ganon meant by all that? Link hadn’t even heard the phone ring. Had Ganon called someone? To check on the status of some mission? Who had been shot? Link’s stomach sinks to think Ganon has just ordered the execution of Officer Ruta. Ganon had promised him… Link swallows down his disappointment. He could be wrong! That could have been anyone Ganon just killed… Link tries to keep his body limp and sleep soft as Ganon’s warmth blooms along his back.

A heavy arm curls around his hips. Ganon’s next sigh tickles the back of Link’s neck where his hair is tossed everywhere. He must not like that they’d rolled away from each other, because he doesn’t lie still long. Link whines under his breath as Ganon scoops him up and rolls him over. They face each other once again in the dark. Ganon must know he’s awake now, that there’s no way he could have slept through all that jostling. Link squirms down and tucks himself under Ganon’s chin, throws an arm over him to keep him close. Link debates about asking who he’d spoken with on the phone, what that was all about. Ganon’s huge, rough hand pets up and down Link’s back as they lie there. Link’s insides grow tighter and tighter despite the comforting touch. He has to speak up.

Rubbing his cheek over Ganon’s chest hair, Link murmurs, “Who was that? On the phone?”

The warm hand on his back stutters a bit in its petting. Unseen by Ganon, Link bites his lower lip and closes his eyes, readying himself for a lie or the truth. He can’t decide which is worse.

“Nobody, sweetheart. Just some of my men giving me an update on a situation. Nothing to worry about.”

Link’s stomach twists tighter and tighter until…

“Okay,” he whispers. “… Are you sure?”

Link’s hair flattens a little as Ganon kisses the top of his head.

“Yes, I’m sure. Going back to sleep.”

Sucking down a calming breath, Link nods against Ganon’s chest.

“Okay… Goodnight… I love you.”

It sounds a bit like a question, but Link doesn’t mean it that way.

“Me, too, sweetheart. I love you very much.”

He may be sad over this lie—he’s sure it’s a lie, sure that Ruta is dead—but… His love for Ganon is unshakable. And maybe, after he’s over all this drama a little bit, maybe he’ll ask Ganon about this. And maybe Ganon will tell him the truth, then. After a while, maybe Link can rid himself of this sympathy he has for Officer Ruta’s suffering. Even now he hears the echo of Ruta screaming for him inside the warehouse. Link shudders and holds tighter to Ganon, and Ganon returns his embrace. He needs it right now.

Everything will be okay, just as Ganon has said. And he feels okay right now, caught in Ganon’s arms, safe in Ganon’s apartment. Their apartment. This won’t go away overnight. Killing Ruta won’t make him forget. Link supposes that it is freeing to know he truly won’t see Officer Ruta again. If he is dead. For his own sanity, Link believes it. For his own sanity, he starts to tuck away memories of Ruta and the kidnapping. Eventually, it will be like it had never even happened.