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Shady Reflection

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It started with an innocent enough question in a circle of friends: "Have any scars, Four?" 

The smithy looked up from the book he was reading, expression unreadable for a moment before turning to a small smile befitting the situation. "No, not really. Plenty of stories, nothing to show for it." 

It was always a similar answer to the same question. But really, what would one expect when asking the same question multiple times?

 

Four was a mystery. He wouldn't tell much about his past or let anyone get too close. While he was alright telling some tidbits about his first adventure, he tended to clam up about his second and third.

So of course it was bound to happen that the heroes got curious about their smallest member. It was in a hero's nature to be curious and investigate after all.

 

And so they came to notice the first peculiar thing about the second youngest hero.

 

Four did not like mirrors. Anyone could tell if they watched him. He did not like to look at anything that could reflect him either.

Maybe he had bad experiences with a Dark like many of them had and thus did not like to see the reflection of his face. If someone tried to start the topic however, he would quickly block and distract, guiding the topic away from himself and to others or changing it masterfully entirely.

It was weird and begged to be uncovered.

 

And yet, even with some gentle prying nothing truly of importance ever managed to slip and Four remained a small, colorful mystery.

 

oOo

 

"...water. Of course it had to be water" one of the voices in his head complained as Four swam to the surface, kicking his feet and gasping for air as he fought to stay above the waves in the rowdy weather.

Around him, he could see most of the other Links surface more or less successfully, and - wherever needed - helping each other. 

Four didn't need help swimming. After his first adventure he had learned that swimming was essential and so he had asked his father to teach him when he didn't have to work. The two would ride to Lake Hylia and practice all afternoon. 

A lesson Four now was very grateful for.

 

This however was not why they as one weren't too happy to be dumped into water.

No, the reason was the flash of dark they caught whenever the storming seas calmed enough down to reflect anything. It tore them apart at the seams whenever the darkness popped into their field of view.

And then they'd work to stitch themselves back enough together to function in social environment and he'd continue swimming to where the other Links were floating.

 

"Is everyone okay?" Four called out as he reached the group, only earning a mouthful of saltwater for his efforts thanks to a badly timed wave.

"Yeah! We got some landlubbers that don't swim too well and need some aid but it should be fine long enough for Tetra to come and pick us up" Wind replied, apparently entirely unconcerned to be in deep, unruly water in the middle of who knows which ocean.

 

A quick glance around told Four exactly who it was that Wind had declared a "landlubber" but it didn't matter too much for they were already aided. Legend was keeping Hyrule above water while apparently entirely unconcerned about his own nose staying below the waves; Warriors and Time, who both were being pulled down due to their heavy armor, were aided by Wild and Twilight respectively, the former somehow quickly apparently changed into a Zora inspired outfit due to his quite frankly fascinating slate, which Four secretly was itching to get his hands on to discover how it worked.

Sky was likewise staying above water somewhat successfully though he likely wouldn't be able to keep such up for long if his gasping for air was any indication. Four didn't know what was wrong with the first hero of their group but it was painfully obvious that there was something. And it made the question of Sky needing help only a matter of time.

 

Luckily, Four's conclusion didn't need to stand the test of time because soon a mighty ship approached and they all could climb up a wooden ladder to get out of the water, with Legend, despite Wind's insistence that he goes before the young sailor, demanding to be last.

The young smith decided to simply note the flash of pink he had caught under the dark surface while the two other heroes argued for later and not investigate now, instead climbing up before the other two as the others had already made their way up.

He didn't feel like staying in the water any longer than necessary, especially since his smaller stature made him vulnerable to illnesses of the cold. And the water, while not particularly cold, still had quite the cooling effect in the long run which Four quickly noted as he shivered while wringing his tunic out best he could. 

At least Tetra's crew had some dry blankets to spare for all of them.

 

In the end it shall be noted that Legend's stubbornness won and he was allowed to climb up last.

 

oOo

 

Laundry duty wasn't a good duty. Considering their group was made up entirely of physically very active males, most of them still teenagers or young adults, laundry duty wasn't a mere chore. It was a punishment and a challenge.

There were a lot of reasons to want to avoid it at any cost.

 

Despite popular consensus however, it was neither the stink nor the grime involved in this gruesome task that made Four want to stay as far away as he could from being assigned to it. In fact, one fourth of his mind was hissing at all the wrong ways their clothes usually returned washed, dried and folded to them, urging that they do their clothes themselves to get it right, damn it.

But in the end they never did if they absolutely hadn't to do so because there was the inevitable large body of water that came with the task and thus facing their own reflection.

 

Not that likely most of the heroes would believe that if Four bothered to explain himself to them on this matter, likely thinking it only an excuse to escape the disgusting duty.

And so Four gritted his teeth and accepted every time there was no escape from it anymore.

 

And that was how he found himself scrubbing furiously at a rather unlucky tunic, bent over the stream they were camping nearby.

Wind nearby was cursing up a storm as he had been hit with a very particularly grimy pair of pants for this chore, his colorful language probably able to make even another sailor blush. Four however did his best to listen and analyze the different strong curses for they helped distract him the slightest bit from the darkness in front of him.

 

And then the soap slipped out his fingers and fell into the stream.

Four quickly leaned forward to catch it and fish it out before it was swept away but froze when it forced him to properly set sight of his reflection at last.

 

Purple hair, red eyes, a pale face. 

It wasn't his reflection...at least not really.

Four hadn't seen their real reflection even once ever since their third adventure.

 

One of the voices in the back of their mind made a choked sound as if strangled, tears entering their eyes unbidden. 

No, no, no…

 

I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, Shadow…

 

White popped into their field of vision and blocked the sight of their dead friend mercifully.

Four looked up from the soap to meet Wind's eyes. The younger boy frowned as he noticed the fresh tear tracks down the smaller's cheeks. He placed the soap he had fished out for Four down next to him, when the other suddenly stiffened up, and simply tugged them into a hug.

 

"You don't need to explain if you don't want to," Wind uttered finally, setting his own curiosity at Four's reaction to his reflection aside. "...if you don't want to continue here, that's okay, too. I'll wash the rest and you can hang everything up."

The sailor's thoughtfulness and hidden maturity were truly touching.

 

" Thank you " Four choked out, clinging to him. Their voice had an echoey quality to it as if it was said by multiple voices at once but just like Four's eyes sometimes changed color, Wind chose not to point it out.

"You're welcome."

 

oOo

 

Four was haunted. 

Wind had noticed it on multiple occasions. It wasn't as bad as some of the other's hauntings but still there. 

The dark entity which stuck to his teammate didn't seem malicious, so Wind chose to ignore it.

 

But now he couldn't, not anymore.

Surely there was a reason Four hated looking at his reflection. There must be a reason Four panicked upon seeing it, in fact. 

And considering how similar the dark entity looked to Four, Wind had a burning suspicion as to why.

And so he approached them when Four was sleeping that night.

 

"You're Four's dead sibling, aren't you?" Wind started. "Because you look so similar." 

The ghost looked at the sailor in shock. "You can see me?"

"And hear you too," Wind confirmed. "Why are you haunting him and not moving on?"

 

"...they need me...I miss them…and..." Four's maybe sibling fidgeted with the hem of their dark tunic. "...I can't."

"How so?" Wind inquired, curiosity woken.

 

The purple haired entity swallowed. "I'm their shadow, I am connected to them. I died but not really because of that connection." 

“Oh, so not sibling, but shadow.” 

"... can't really explain that. Vio probably could better because I don't really know for sure what's going on myself." Vio? Who's Vio? No, focus, that's a question for later.

 

"...so that's why you're so faint...you're in limbo" Wind concluded awed. "Which means you might be able to be saved!"

The shade stiffened, then their face started to light up: "...you mean...I…?"

Wind nodded, grinning widely, enjoying the hope he brought. "I don't know how and there's a chance it backfires but…"

 

"Anything is better than being forced to watch as they beat themselves up over my loss, unable to do anything" the demi-ghost hugged themselves for comfort. "Plus I know if there's a way, they'll find it. Rainbow is smart. They just don't know I'm still here which is likely why they haven't tried anything yet."

 

Wind nodded: "I can tell him. I can tell him you're still here if it helps him."

"Please" the shade uttered.

"I will" Wind then paused. "... what's your name anyway?"

 

oOo

 

It was a slow morning. But something felt off. 

Four figured it had to do with the way Wind kept watching him, giving a secretive little smile before looking away. It was unnerving.

 

"We shouldn't have had that breakdown in front of him." 

"It could be worse, it doesn't seem like he told anyone." 

"Let's face him after breakfast and ask him what's with the looks." 

"And make sure he stays quiet about this."

"All in favor?"

 

The confirmation was enough to spur him into action.

Immediately after breakfast was eaten and the empty bowls were handed back to Wild, Four got up to head to Wind.

"We need to talk," he stated sternly.

The pirate nodded, not looking worried. "Indeed. Come on. I got something to tell you."

 

"...you do?" Four raised a surprised eyebrow. How the tables had turned.

"Yeah," Wind confirmed, quickening his steps so the two could get out of view and hearing before one of the elder heroes could stop the two youngest of their group.

Not that the two weren't capable of holding their own. No, the others were simply overprotective, a reason why Four insisted on not admitting his young age officially.

 

Once there, Wind offered Four a smile, elaborating on his earlier statement. "...I got a message for you."

Four nodded for him to go on, a confused mess inside his head. Was this a prank? Who would give Wind a message for him?

Wind took a deep breath.

 

"Shadow asks if their mug is so ugly that you keep refusing to look at them."

 

...

……

 

"...what?" Four blinked, the voices in his head silent for a second as shock had set in.

Wind nodded, grinning. "They're caught in limbo but they're confident you can get them out."

 

Time restarted, the voices starting screaming, breaking them apart as happy tears started to flow. And yet Vio managed to get himself long enough together to get control of the whole that is Four: "I will. I promise I will. Tell them to hang on. I will."

 

Wind, startled and alarmed by their suddenly twitching form, had reached to steady them, but was also glad that he made them happy: "They said they don't doubt it."

And Four as a whole smiled, tugging his brother in arms into a tight, thankful hug, while looking down at their Shadow in awe as their eyes flashed between colors until they all were dizzy.

 

oOo

 

When Four passed his reflection in a mirror the next time, he smiled and placed a hand on it. "I'll get you back, Shadow. I promise." Not all wounds cause visible scars and not every story had a happy end. But this one might.

Because in his bag there was already a notebook full of notes and runes preparing for such a great feat.