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Anglerfish

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The first time Link notices the door, he ignores it.

The second time, a month later, he gently elbows Zelda and asks, "Has that door always been there?"

"What door?" She asks, and he turns back to look at a blank space on the wall between two labs.

He's silent for a moment, an unpleasant sensation creeping up his spine, and he shakes himself out of a trance he didn't realize he was in when Zelda pinches his elbow.

"Midterms must be getting to me," he jokes, but there's something scratching at the back of his mind.



Link dreams of the crushing depths of the ocean and something he can barely perceive and wakes up in the middle of a panic attack.



The day after his last midterm, the door is there again.

Link opens it this time.

Stepping into the room is like stepping back in time. It's like every image of eighteen hundreds academia; warm wood paneling on the walls, papers and specimens and flickering oil lamps scattered on every available surface, a rolling chalkboard-

"Who are you?"

He jumps at the voice and turns slightly to see that the room isn't quite as empty as he thought. There's another man in there, an impossibly beautiful man, silver hair covering half his face, his skin like frosted glass.

"I'm... Sorry, I was just curious about the door," Link says, stepping further into the room and leaving the door in question open behind him. “I'm Link."

"Ghirahim," the man says, but the movement of his lips doesn't quite match the sound. “It's nice to meet you... Link."

He draws the name out, almost savouring the feel of it in his mouth, and Link blushes ever so slightly.

Link's phone chimes, and he swears when he realizes he's late for lunch with his friends. "I have to go, sorry! Sorry for barging in!"

"Oh, that's quite alright," Ghirahim says, but Link is already out the door, closing it behind him as he goes.



Link dreams of the crushing depths of the ocean and something he can barely perceive, and wakes up to an... Embarrassing situation.



The door is there again, and Link knocks before opening it this time, leaving it open once more as he steps in. The chalkboard has writing on it this time, some sort of equation or something that gives him a headache if he looks at it too long.

"You're back," Ghirahim says without looking up as he scrawls something on loose sheafs of paper with a fountain pen - more of those equations, Link guesses when he peeks.

"Yeah. Um, is this door always here?" Link asks.

"Are you always here?" Ghirahim says. He caps his pen and looks up with a smile that doesn't show his teeth. "Why are you here?"

Link shrugs. "Curious, I guess. This room looks... Really different from the rest of the school, I guess I just... Wanted to see it again."

"Just the room?"

He flushes at Ghirahim's raised brow. "I mean..."

"The room looks like this because it is how I like the room to look," Ghirahim interrupts, standing up and walking over to the chalkboard to inspect the writing. "Link."

Link swallows hard at the way he still seems to savour his name. "It's nice. You have an eye for design. Uh... Ghirahim."

He tries to do the same, but it just makes Ghirahim chuckle, trailing off into a hum and turning his dark gaze on Link.

"I think I like the way you say my name," he purrs. "Do it again."

He stalks back across the room, backs Link up against the wall, and Link gasps out a breathless, "Ghirahim..."

"Good," Ghirahim murmurs. "Now... I think you'd better get to wherever it is you need to go."

Link shakes his head slightly, blinking like he's just come up from underwater, and runs from the room when he checks the time on his phone and realizes he's late for class, closing the door behind him.



Link dreams of the crushing depths of the ocean and something he can barely perceive, and wakes up having sleepwalked to the lobby of his dorm building.



"Are you a ghost?" Link asks Ghirahim as he sits in the room, working on an assignment. It's a nice place to get homework done, if he can keep his attention from drifting to the equations (he's pretty sure they're equations) scrawled over the chalkboard and walls. It's quiet, even with the door open to the hallway.

"What an odd question to ask! No, I'm not a ghost," Ghirahim says.

"I just thought, you know, with the old timey room," Link says. Ghirahim reaches over and pushes his cheek to turn his gaze back to his work, and he grumbles in annoyance as he erases the part of the equations he accidentally copied down again.

"There," Ghirahim murmurs, suddenly very close. "I touched you. Now you know I'm not a ghost."

Link swallows hard and opens his mouth a few times before anything actually comes out. "Yep! You did! Thanks!"

Ghirahim chuckles and pats him on the head. "The building's closing soon. Best you head out."

"Oh, shit, thanks-!"

Link packs his things up as quickly as he can and slams the door shut behind him as he rushes out.



Link dreams of the crushing depths of the ocean and something he can barely perceive, and wakes up having sleepwalked halfway to the biology building.



"Whoa," Link says, crouching slightly to look at a new specimen jar. "What is that?"

"You've never seen one before?" Ghirahim asks, raising a brow when Link shakes his head. "It's an anglerfish. They lure their prey with... Well, a lure. That specific subspecies uses bioluminescence."

"Freaky..."

The fish's eyes shift to look at Link, and he jumps back with a yelp - right into Ghirahim. Firm hands steady him, push him back to his feet, hold him, and he feels breathless.

"Just a trick of the light," Ghirahim murmurs, leaning down to speak in Link's ear. "I assure you, it's quite dead."

His hands stroke soothingly up and down his arms, and Link melts into the touch.

"I..." Link says.

"Hm?"

"I... I should get to class," he sighs, pulling away reluctantly and waving as he leaves and shuts the door behind him.



Link dreams of the crushing depths of the ocean and something he can barely perceive, and wakes up having sleepwalked all the way to the door to Ghirahim's room.

And Ghirahim opens it.

"It's late," he says.

Link throws himself at him, kissing him clumsily, and Ghirahim kisses back, closing the door as he pulls him into the room.

Some time later, the two of them lying tangled together on the floor, naked and breathless. Ghirahim smirks, and runs a knuckle over Link's cheek.

"You asked me a while ago if I was a ghost," he murmurs.

Link nods. "Yeah. You're definitely not a ghost."

"No," Ghirahim chuckles.

He smiles with his lips pulled back for the first time, a predatory grin showing off too many too sharp teeth.

"I'm a lure."

He vanishes.

The room vanishes.

Replaced by-



Fledge trembles on his bed, fumbling for his phone to call someone, anyone, as his weak bedside light casts stark shadows on the scene unfolding at the other end of the dorm room.

Link claws into the meat of his own arm, eyes wide and unfocused, muttering unintelligibly.

Smearing strange symbols on the floor and wall with his bloody fingertips.