Lingering in the Ocean Blue, ~or~ Link and Sheik’s Excellent Adventure: Part One
Here, have a belated Happy Birthday Fic! I’m so sorry this took so long to get done, and it’s only part one of two, but I wish you a most excellent birthday and an awesome year. 🥳🎂🎉
Love ya, little lava sis! Happy Birthday!!!! 💖
Anyway, without further ado ~
Lingering in the Ocean Blue, ~or~, Link and Sheik’s Excellent Adventure
It had seemed like such a good idea. Sheik was overworked and exhausted, a day off was necessary, and Wind’s suggestion had seemed so reasonable. And now, here they were: together on Epona, with Sheik’s arms around his waist, and was it just him or did the temperature rise all of a sudden?
There was, of course, one pair of shoulders upon which Link could squarely lay the blame.
He’d been noticing something amiss for weeks. For one, he’d barely seen Sheik at all. When he did see her, she was dragging herself into camp at odd hours of the day or night, shoulders drooping and gait one of exhausted stubbornness. Sometimes she’d stop by to drop an article of clothing into his lap for him to mend, and then collapse in a heap by the side of his tent to wait.
If he asked what was going on, all she’d do was bite off the word “Missions”, before promptly dropping her head onto her knees and falling asleep.
Link wasn’t the only one who noticed. Wind watched her stumble past with narrowed eyes, and Mask hovered in a grumpy fashion whenever she stopped by the tent, sitting close by and sneaking glances. That, or he and Proxi would come running to get Link whenever they found Sheik passed out in a tree or a wheelbarrow or something.
With every instance that passed, Link’s mounting concern grew, but the final straw came at breakfast one morning. Sheik had appeared at their fire, every muscle sagging with exhaustion, and dropped one of her shirts into Link’s lap. She then proceeded to sternly herd Wind and Mask away from the breakfast stew they were torturing and set about making it edible.
There was some protest from all parties, insisting Sheik sit down and rest, but the sheikah was insistent.
Link opened his mouth, paused when Sheik sent him a narrow red glare over the stewpot, and resumed his mending.
He was in the middle of frowning over the placement of the cut (rather too close to vital spots for his liking) when Proxi let out a cry of warning. Link glanced up, leapt to his feet, and managed to catch Sheik just before she toppled face-first in the stew pot. So there he was, arms full of the woman he maybe-possibily-we-shan’t-discuss-it had feelings for. Mask and Wind had leapt to their feet at the cry of alarm, and Proxi had grabbed onto Sheik’s braid in an attempt to help… but the fact remained that if Link hadn’t gotten there in time… she’d be severely scalded, if not worse.
And what would happen if this occurred again? Sometime when he wasn’t there?
“What’s wrong?” He demanded, a tight band squeezing around his chest—squeezing all the tighter when Sheik didn’t answer him. He glanced down—only to find Sheik’s face squished against his arm, eyes closed and features relaxed.
Proxi dropped Sheik’s braid and fluttered closer, spinning circles around Sheik’s head. “Is she asleep?”
“Seems like it.” Link sighed, shifting his grip, making sure Sheik was propped more securely in his arms. “Mask, Wind, can you get my bedroll from inside the tent?”
“Aye, aye, Captain!” Wind snapped a salute, and he and Mask disappeared into the tent, rushing back out a minute later with arms full of bedding and blankets. Wind snapped out the mat and Mask dropped the thin pillow at the top, then both scurried back so Link could carefully set Sheik down and arrange the blanket over her. She was situated nearby but not too close to the fire, snugly wrapped in Link’s blanket and dozing away on his pillow.
His heart was acting funny again, but this was not the time.
He took a step back, running a hand through his hair as he turned back to the stewpot, frowning down at it as he poked it with the wooden spoon. Hopefully it was far enough along that he could finish the rest without irreparably ruining it.
There was a long moment of silence as everyone processed what had just happened. Finally, Link sighed again, looking up from the stewpot towards his informal information network. The three of them (Wind, Mask, and Proxi) ran wild all over the camp and were often privy to a vast amount of gossip, some useful and some not.
“Do you have any idea what’s going on with Sheik, lately?”
Mask and Wind exchanged glances, while Proxi bobbed nervously. Mask was the first to make a move, poking at the dirt with a stick. A distant part of Link warmed with amusement and fondness when he noticed Mask had chosen to situate himself right by Sheik’s head—and Wind was sitting at her feet.
It seemed Sheik had two faithful guardians watching over her as she slept.
“…she… she told me that she knows Impa doesn’t trust her.” Mask’s voice was quiet, a scowl on his face, and he aggressively jabbed at the dirt with his stick.
Wind and the Captain exchanged grim looks. “She’s trying to prove herself.” Wind said quietly.
Link felt a sharp, stabbing pain in his chest give an extra twist. He glanced over at the Sheikah—she laid limp on his bedroll, the slump of exhaustion draping her limbs even in sleep, preventing any restlessness.
“This can’t go on.” Link said, his voice firm with determination. She needs to rest.”
“Try telling her that.” Mask grumbled.
Link grinned back. “That’s the plan, so wish me luck.”
Wind hummed thoughtfully, fiddling with his wind waker. “If we want her to relax, we’re going to need to get her out of camp. Otherwise you know she’ll leap at the first opportunity to take a mission that she hears.”
Link ran his fingers through his bangs, huffing out a breath. “Fair point, but what on earth can we do to get her out of camp?”
There was a brief moment of silence.
“Hot springs.” Mask suddenly piped up.
Both older heroes turned to face him, eyebrows raised.
“What?” his shoulders hunched. “Those are supposed to be relaxing, right? And we’re near Death Mountain. There should be some nearby, right?”
“Hot springs are pretty relaxing,” Link acknowledged, and shot Mask a proud smile. “Good idea.”
Mask ducked his head, muttering something under his breath. Proxi, who was currently perched on his shoulder, heard everything, however, and her wings quivered with amusement.
“The question is, how on earth do we get Sheik to a hotspring?” Link mused, frowning down at the soup as he stirred.
Wind paused mid-twirl of his baton, a smirk flashing across his face before he wiped it away with the speed of his namesake. He cleared his throat, then said, his voice calm and casual. “You could go with her.”
Link nearly dropped the spoon into their breakfast. “What?’”
“Don’t give me that,” Wind sniffed. “There’s nothing wrong with hanging out at the hot spring with a friend.” He raised a challenging eyebrow at the Captain. “And you and Sheik are just friends, right?”
Link opened his mouth. He closed it.
He resumed stirring the soup with a vengeance.
“Yes. We are.” The words were bitten out through gritted teeth.
Mask looked very, very lost.
“Anyway,” Wind said, “You’re still recovering some from a couple days ago, right?”
Link’s hand moved to touch his side, head dipping in a nod. He’d caught a glancing blow from a moblin’s spear. He’d managed to half-deflect it with his sword, and his chain mail had held, but his right side had been one massive bruise. Fortunately (or unfortunately), it was a minor enough injury that the medics had prescribed rest in order to save potions for the more grievously wounded.
“Then,” the sailor grinned, “it’s you going to the hot springs to accelerate your healing, and we’ll ask Sheik to come along to watch your back.”
The Captain blinked. “That… that might actually work.” He glanced down at the soup and gave it a sniff. No smoke, so it was probably good. He withdrew the spoon, tapped it against the side of the pot, propped it against the rock, and stood. He clapped his hands once. Wind and Mask snapped to attention, and Link propped his hands on his hips and surveyed his men with a thoughtful eye.
“I’m going to request a day’s leave of absence from General Impa. Wind and Mask, watch over Sheik. If she wakes up before I get back, fill her in, and ask her to gather some spare clothes she doesn’t mind getting wet.”
Wind casually snapped a salute, but Wind frowned. “So what are we supposed to do until then? Just sit and wait?”
Link beamed at him. “Excellent question!”
Mask shrunk back suspiciously, suspecting he had walked into a trap. He was right.
“While you’re waiting, why don’t you fix up something for us to bring along and eat, since we’ll be gone until late.” The Captain arched an eyebrow. “I’m sure between the two of you you can manage something simple.”
Mask puffed up at the affront to his skills. Wind muttered something along the lines of “I wouldn’t be too sure.”
It was good enough, however, so Link nodded. “Right. That’s all, so I’ll be off now.”
He cast a glance at Sheik. She was still firmly sunk in sleep, eyes clothed and breaths deep… and yet despite the fact she had a guardian seated on either side of her in the form of Mask and Wind… she looked lonely, somehow. Lonely and weary and sad.
He chewed his lip for a moment, lifted his chin, and strode over to her side. In a swift movement his scarf was unwound from his shoulders, and he gently draped it over Sheik’s shoulders. He paused, waiting to see if she was disturbed—but she slept on, the rhythm of her breath unchanging.
He let out an amused breath—she must really be tired—and tucked the scarf and blanket about her a little more firmly.
When he looked up, Wind was smirking at him. Link was a mature adult, however, so he stuck his nose to the air and turned away, reaching out and managing to ruffle Mask’s hair before the sprite’s affection-senses tingled and prompted him to duck.
Then Link swung to his feet, and strode off in the direction of Impa’s tent.
Wind and Mask, back in front of their own tent, looked at each other in silence.
“Sandwiches.” Wind said finally. “We’ll make sandwiches. You can’t mess up sandwiches.”
It took a little bit of convincing, but eventually Impa caved, as long as it was restricted to one day of leave from camp.
Mentioning the combined wrath of Mask and Wind that would result if Sheik didn’t get her time off did wonders for the negotiations.
He returned to his tent to find Sheik awake and looking slightly bewildered, holding a small bundle of clothes and towels. Wind was holding a packed knapsack, and Mask was holding Epona’s reins.
Fi was also there, oddly enough. Link cast a swiftly glance around the area, but nothing seemed to be damaged, so he brushed it off.
“I got permission.” The captain said, grinning in thanks when Sheik pushed his folded scarf into his hands. Sheik didn’t seem to notice the grin, as she was determinedly looking the other way.
She cleared her throat. “Good. I’m glad you’re going to be able to give your body a chance to heal a little.”
“Well, I’m glad you agreed to keep me company. I’ll feel a lot better with you there to watch my back,” …and to give your own body a chance to rest, but that part was better left unsaid.
Her only response was a nod, but there was a faintest tinge of red crawling above her mask. Link’s heart stuttered unsteadily. In order to stave off dwelling on that, Link hastily turned and said hello to Epona.
Epona said hello back enthusiastically, letting out a billow of horsey breath and nosing at his hair. He could never quite tell if her sniffing his hair was out of affection or out of the hope that it was straw, but he chose to believe the former.
“Good to see you too, girl,” He murmured, and turned to Mask, cocking a brow. “Where’s Sheik’s horse?”
“I don’t have one.” Sheik said. Wind beamed a sunny smile at the captain.
“We thought that Sheik could just ride with you, instead.”
That sounded like an excellent plan, especially because it would save Link the time of having to go back and request an already-irritated Impa for a horse. In short order, Sheik’s bundle and the knapsack were firmly affixed to Epona’s saddle, and Link was astride his horse, pulling the sheikah up behind him.
She settled into the saddle, her arms wrapping around his chest in order to stabilize herself.
All of a sudden, Link realized just how close she was.
Had the sun just come out from behind a cloud, he wondered distantly, because the air seemed a lot warmer suddenly.
“Well?” Sheik said, and Link nearly jumped, not expecting her voice close to his ear. There was a part of him that was appreciating the sound; the rest was running about, routed, panicking, and leaderless.
In other words, he was paralyzed with embarrassment.
In the storm of his confusion, Wind’s eyes caught his.
The sailor was staring at Link, arms folded, a smirk on his face, and everything suddenly became clear to Link in one brilliant blaze of realization.
Wind had set him up.
Thankfully, this was enough to shake Link out of his confusion. He firmed his grip on the reigns and cleared his throat. “All right, let’s be off!”
“I wish you a restful trip, Master Link,” Fi intoned, and Link barely managed to bite down the hysterical laughter that wanted to escape. He resorted to nodding instead.
Then, with a touch of his heel, he pointedly turned Epona away from Wind’s smug face and trotted off towards Death Mountain, trying very hard not to think about how close Sheik was right now.
Wind, Mask, Fi, and Proxi watched them go.
“There is a 98% chance you are planning something, Master Wind,” Fi said pointedly.
“Yep!” Wind stretched an arm above his head, grinning in satisfaction. “I’m hoping that with the atmosphere being “romantic” and all that they’ll be forced to stop being so freaking oblivious.”
Mask shot him a look, confused. “What’s that supposed to mean? What are they gonna do?”
“Hmm.” Wind hummed thoughtfully. “Dunno. Kissyface, I hope.”
The sprite’s face twisted in a grimace “…Gross.”
On the Subject of Sandwiches
“We have bread. We have cheese wedges. We’ll slice the wedges thinner and make toasted cheese sandwiches for theme. It’ll be easy!” Wind announced, and so he and Mask did just that.
They sliced the cheese wedges, arranged them on the bread, sandwiched the slices together, and set them on flat stones by the fire to toast.
It was, in fact, incredibly easy.
If, perchance, if the word ‘easy’ in the sentence referred to ‘setting things on fire’.
Three minutes later, there bread sprang into flame.
The boys screamed.
In a panic, Wind twirled his baton, sending a breeze to extinguish the flame. It might have worked, if the breeze hadn’t been just a tad too strong and blew the sandwiches straight into the fire instead.
The boys screamed again.
By some miracle of severe exhaustion, Sheik slept on, oblivious.
The boys sat in front of the fire, staring at the blackened remains of the sandwich as the cheese bubbled and the bread slowly crumbled away into ash in the midst of the fire.
“We need backup.” Wind sighed.
“I’m getting Fi.” Proxi announced. “She knows everything.”
The fairy darted off to do so, and returned with the sword spirit in short order. She floated before the two heroes, head cocked slightly in curiosity. “What is it that you require of me, young masters?”
Mask didn’t say anything, as he usually avoided talking with Fi, but Wind had no such qualms. “Sheik and Link are going off to the hot springs relax, and we need your help in order to make them some food to pack.”
Fi was silent.
“Yes?” Wind prompted, shifting impatiently.
“The Goddess provided me with many functions in order to assist my Master in his quest,” Fi said, “But I am afraid it is not within my abilities to perform miracles.”
“I knew she wouldn’t be any help,” Mask muttered, and Fi’s head shifted slightly. Her wings fluttered for a moment.
“However, there is little logic in surrendering before even attempting a task.” There was the faintest modulation in Fi’s voice. If one listened closely, one might even hazard she sounded slightly miffed. “Allow me to serve you to the best of my capacity, young masters.”
And, despite Fi’s rather dour predictions of success rates lying around 27%, with Fi and Proxi teaming up to watch both soup pot and replacement sandwiches like hawks, the second pair of sandwiches lived beyond the toasting process. They were wrapped carefully in napkins and tucked in a knapsack, along with two canteens.
With Fi’s instructions, they even managed to add more ingredients for the soup, so there was enough for breakfast and for Wind could fill two bottles and pack them with the sandwiches as well.
“I think you have something to say to Fi,” Proxi whispered in Mask’s ear. The sprite pouted, but shuffled over to where Fi floated, eyeing Wind’s packing process to ensure nothing failed in the final lap.
Mask hunched his shoulders and said, not particularly loudly, “Thanks. You helped a lot.”
Fi stilled for one moment, and then turned slightly, just enough to face Mask. “Of course.” She said, her tone soft. “It was my pleasure, Master Link.”
Mask looked away, somehow unable to bear the mixture of fondness and… something… in the sword spirits’ gaze.
“THERE!” Wind proclaimed, buckling the knapsack shut and patting it proudly. “See, I told you guys it’d be simple.”
Fi, Mask, and Proxi sighed.
Shiek slept on.