note: so this is mostly unedited, i'm sleep deprived, and just came up with this garbage five hours ago.... its probably terrible and messy and idk what it is but take it bc i haven't posted anything in forever // also sorry abt my lower case aesthetic it most definitely makes understanding this worse
note #2 because i wrote the first note at 1 am: I'm sorry if its a m ess ,, idk if i censored all the curses I'm so rry also the timeline is confusing but basically most of the events happen in his junior year but the present w the principal is in his senior year,,, thank you
he really didn’t intend for the week to turn out like this. he even shocked himself.
the thing about lincoln was that he was… a little on the weaker side. he had bleached blonde hair and a terrifying glare but despite the nickname link, he wasn’t good with swords and wasn’t exactly cool. he couldn’t even memorize the gettysburg address. he tried to spell the nickname as linc for a couple days but soon everyone was calling him lints and it sounded a lot dopier than he already looked, so he changed it. when he finally played a zelda game, a breath of the wild at a party with friends, he made jokes about link’s figure and underwear (“i swear he’s at least 17 in this game”) until people started poking at him to take off his shirt to see if “he matched.” he had the blonde hair. he had the mini ponytail.
he didn’t take off his shirt then, but part of him kind of wanted to.
the principle was sitting across from him. he wondered what she saw in the thin manila folder she was clutching in stony, probably cold hands. just another medium sized first gen chinese immigrant kid, probably, with straight A’s and applications sent to harvard and oxford and stanford? the only thing that really set him apart from his perfect brother was the hair.
people liked to comment about his hair.
"why?” his mother asked when he came home with his hair a sudden shock of blonde.
"black isn’t my colour.” he’d responded.
"how much did you pay?”
"the thirty dollars ms. ‘ski gave me for mowing her lawn.”
"it’s mrs.” his mother corrected. “and her last name is sadinski. learn it.” lincoln didn’t say anything but his head was singing stupid stupid stupid because what did it matter, if the woman next door named marla sadinski was married? it really didn’t.
"someday i’m buying you majora’s mask.” was the first thing link’s best friend, mickey, had said.
"someday i’ll buy you a bicycle with your name on it.” mickey punched him lightly, then continued to do so after link singsonged micycle over and over, which was, very unfortunately, mickey’s full name.
link kept his roots though. he didn’t know if he meant it as metaphorically as he did physically - the dark brown of his hair remained, even if it was hugged by a yellow blonde. he grew it long, sometimes the strands tickled his cheeks when they were split in a smile after a long night of yelling with his friends over monopoly.
"the colleges you’re applying too will have to be notified about this.” the principal says, finally, with a strangled sigh and a squint as if she’s trying to hide the displeasure of revealing a flaw in her tiled halls. link feels a sharp something in his gut, because she says this without hearing him out, hearing his side of the story. plus, he can just imagine the thin, information-less letters he’ll receive from the mail, which will reveal he’ll never be as good as his brother and reveal that he applied to the acting programs at every single college his mother made him apply to instead of the pre-med ones. link knows that even before his mother’s eyebrows will cinch in anger she’ll ask him if he’d rather wear dresses (but it always meant more than that) and he’ll have to lie and say no, mamma, i don’t, i just don’t like math as much as i like pretending i’m someone else. and it wasn’t like link would rather wear dresses, he just liked them and he looked good in them as he was so rudely awakened to the summer prior when mickey and their friends all thought it was a good idea to go shopping for formal wear. pepe, whose nickname was short for penelope and a “f*ck you to every white supremacist who thinks they can claim such a golden meme” had elbowed link and dared him to try on a dress. link was alarmingly good at taking dares in stride, and when he stalked out to do a twirl everyone just stared, stone still, because link was also alarmingly good looking in a dress. (and it never meant more than that.)
link wore a skirt two weeks into the following school year, a yellow one that matched his hair and white pants that matched his white button up. his brother helped him pick it all out, helped him hide it from his mother. his brother, a much cooler senior walking into a high school building with his significantly less cooler brother under his arm, wearing a skirt, sent a bigger ripple through the kids their than link expected. not a wave, but still a ripple.
he wanted to wear it at his brother’s funeral, too, but life didn’t work like that.
"but before that, i’d like you to explain.” finally. the principle asked. except that link didn’t really know how to explain. “we see behavior like this in children who have had a recent death in the family-” was that in the thin manila folder? “-but usually sooner. it’s been more than a year.” link’s knees pressed together through his tights. his principal didn’t mention the yellow skirt he was wearing.
"my brother used to call those ‘vanilla’ folders.” he said quietly, instead of explaining, because … well, because.
the principal gave him a look. link thumbed the ace bandages over his knuckles.
pepe had told him he looked beautiful, that first day in the yellow skirt. she’d sat with her knees crossed and a bright orange folder in her lap with the homework she didn’t have enough time to do the night before and she’d looked up as he stood there, about to sit, and said it.
link couldn’t have kept standing, even if he wanted to.
“you have really pretty eyes.” a girl, shorter than link by a good foot, said quietly as they walked slowly in the direction of the school’s exit. she had dark skin and too many freckles and her hair was coiled into to cute dark curls all around her face. they were both in ninth grade at the time, and lincoln did not know anything about this girl except that she was in his first period english class, her name was penelope, and that she was confusing him as to why she was telling him this. all of his question marks were italicized.
“you do, too.” he said instead of no one has ever told me that before, or why are they pretty? or something stupid like that. she blinked at this response, looked down, and then said:
“i’m wearing a jean skirt and a jean jacket as a joke today, this was the worst time to tell you anything.”
“you’re wearing possibly the most beautiful red dress in existence, this is the perfect time to tell me something.”
“not when you’d wear it better than me!”
“red’s not my colour!”
“why am i even wearing this! i was going to show up as a frog!”
“pepe, this is the pre-halloween party.” mickey called from four feet away as he tore open a bag of chips, a full suit resting on his shoulders and over his chest. link wore something similar, plus an added bow in his hair, courtesy of marlow, a lanky boy who looked like he spent too much time on the beach and was very much in love with the world. they were waiting at his house, before they’d all go traipsing into the forest nearby in full formal attire like the hooligans they were.
“doesn’t matter! my entire character is a joke!” her hands were in the air, and despite the vague panic on her features she was stunning. she had gold on her eyelids.
“pepe, you look amazing, you chose your eyeshadow far too well because you have gold sparks in your eyes and they draw attention to it which is making you very extremely distracting so i swear to god please do not freak out and tell me what you need to tell me.”
her eyes got impossibly larger, which didn’t look as bad or bug-eyed as people make it seem, and said: “it’s just that... you also look very nice in skirt. or dress. and i brought an extra, but i realized too late that it’s not your size, and that’s why i was panicking, because i wanted to tell you but i also didn’t want to get your hopes up.”
something in link’s head pings. pepe is lying.
but it’s okay, because they walk arm in arm into the forest, like some vague life and death brigade party as their entire friend group pile into a small clearing lit by little jack o'lantern fairy lights and a small fire caged in stones, and pepe nervously tells him that she was going to say something else, which gets swallowed up pretty fast because they’re kissing each other before pepe really finishes her sentence about how golden link’s skin is and how no one had told her she had sparks in her eyes.
lucy, a small black haired girl who wore doc martens and vintage sweaters hollers and takes a polaroid of them (which is about as stalkerish as it sounds, both pepe and link tell her later) with the date - october 30th - scrawled in pen.
link sees snow start to fall outside as the principle says, “lincoln, the only way you can redeem yourself is if you had a reason, a sensible one at that. neel thomas is a star player on the football team and well liked by students and teachers alike.” link scoffed. thomas was well liked by a certain kind of students and teachers. the kind who tried to shove link’s brother into the wall for existing but forgot that link’s brother was his own star, on the swimming team, and had significantly more muscle in his shoulders to pull himself to air than blubber that suffocated the opponents in a poorly strategized game.
“i had a very good reason.” he said mildly, staring into the white snow filling out the edges of the world, as it did in February. “but even i didn’t really think i was capable of getting angry.”
“rosy.” he whispers. he’s in his yellow skirt, this time, the december air tossing it, hoping for a game. but it’s dark, and link is so so tired. the tears on his cheek are freezing. he kneels, doesn’t give a damn about his white tights in the dirt, touches his gloveless hands to the cold headstone. he was there earlier that day, in something more masculine, as the headstone was placed, the carving of roosevelt choi shining in the chilly sun. it was at least one in the morning now. it was the first time he snuck out. the first time link tried.
“rosy.” he says again, and he chokes, his other hand squeezing the thing box set on his lap. he sets his forehead on the gravestone, wishing his mind wasn’t freezing because of the cold but because his brother was there, he didn’t know, doing something. not being dead anymore.
he puts the thin box down, under the roses and daffodils and lilies. but he doesn’t leave. link is waiting for something now. for all the church visits, link doesn’t believe rose is in the afterlife. or anywhere, really. it hurts, but he knows he’s right. rose is gone.
he looks up, startled, when he hears footsteps. tall, a boy with a beautiful dark complection and curling black hair and teardrop shaped eyes stands a couple feet away. it takes him a second, but link understands.
“jamie?” he asked the wind. the kid nodded.
“link?” jamie questioned, so quiet link was afraid the cold would steal it. but he nodded.
jamie walked forward, slowly at first, but then he was there, and he and link were hugging, eyes becoming storm clouds as they sobbed into each other's jackets.
“you made him so happy.” link wobbled with his words. “he’d just… light up, when you were around, when we mentioned you.” something rolled through jamie’s body. a rack of something that emotion couldn’t really touch.
“you made him so proud.” was his response, and link’s world started to tumble.
pepe’s hand was on his shoulder. she was crying too. he turned to her.
“one month?” she’d whispered. he’d nodded.
she held him, then. her dad was gone too. she knew.
for some reason, there was nothing more powerful than having someone hold him who knew.
what hurt link the most was that he hadn’t known. it was a perfectly happy morning; he was used to his parents going to work early, or rose staying over at jamie’s. when his parents asked him to come to the hospital, he didn’t think about it.
but then his parents had explained. how roosevelt choi, nicknamed rose by his loved ones, had waiting outside of a convenience store staring at the sky because “if you try, you can still see the stars” and was rammed into the brick side of the building by a drunken mercedes driver.
link had sat so still, keeping his chest from moving. because they hadn’t announced his brother’s status yet. he was alive when they rolled him in. his jaw was still working when he whispered to the attendants that he loved his best friend, that his best friend loved him back, and that his brother was so so brave and if he could just stay alive for a little longer because he really needs to tell them both that he loved them and they could take over the world if they wanted to. they’d told him to breath, keep talking, because his head was untouched but everything was … everything else was …
apparently roosevelt choi’s last words were, “i need my brother and my boyfriend to know that they are my fragile anarchies. they are my stars. they are my explosions. they need their own anarchies. they need to not be fragile anymore.” link had screamed into his sobs.
“we need that ‘good reason,’ lincoln. you need it too. we’ll cross the anger bridge when we come to it.” she punctuated it with a sigh. her job must be hard, lincoln thinks with a tad of remorse. but he’s felt too much to act on it.
“i was starting my own fragile little anarchy.”
“that’s not an answer.”
he was there, at rose’s headstone, in the morning. the morning part wasn’t entirely new, but it was fresh. the newest thing here was the sharpie one the shiny, polished stone, and rung alarms in link’s head.
just a word. he shouldn’t be too angry about it. but it started with an f. it had two gs. he didn’t read the entire word, though, because he was speed walking away.
he was simmering in the tiled halls. shoulders on fire and heart encased in ice. then he hears it.
“what a fa***t. just like his brother.”
it shouldn’t make him this angry.
he walked, right there, punching distance from a beautiful person with sweeping, light brown hair and crystal eyes. he only smiled, albeit a little surprised, when link spoke.
“his name is roosevelt.” he said. and then he swung.
neel’s friends didn’t do a thing. they had their phone’s out, camera apps lighting the screen. and link was going at it. he had no strategy, but it’s hard to combat a kicking, punching, anger blinded kid even if he’s a good couple inches shorter and a couple pounds thinner.
his clothes got ripped, his hair was pulled, he’s lip was bleeding and he couldn’t feel his face but he knew it was bloody, but when he stood up neel could barely groan and the crowd that had formed looked vaguely terrified of the looming boy, anger pooling his sense.
he punched the wall nearby. he didn’t stop until he felt it.
link walked himself into the principal’s office.
“do you have any siblings?” link asked, already feeling himself choke, knowing he was going to cry again. he’d stayed chill for record time.
“yes.” the principal said carefully.
“have you ever visited one of their gravestones?”
“...no, i have not.”
link thought, for two sharp seconds, that he must look terrifying; talking quietly with his head down, about the one tragedy of his lifetime.
“so you’ve never seen their gravestone vandalized?” he looked up then.
“is this what this is about?”
a soft, barely there stream pulsed through his head as a glow of anger reared in his stomach.
“no.” is what he said. he took a deep breath, as he did right before performances. “my brother’s last words mentioned something called a fragile anarchy. i’ve been trying to find the meaning, and i think i did.” another, deep deep breath. “don’t get me wrong. neel called my brother and i a slur, and i gave what he had coming. instead of putting “anger issues” in my folder put “homophobic, probably racist butthole” in his.” lincoln didn’t miss the quirk of a smile.
“you really just had to tell me that, you know? i can clear it on validation of hate speech. just... know yourself, lincoln. a punch doesn’t make a fragile anarchy. i knew roosevelt enough to know that.”
know that from a sandy coloured folder? whispered a corner of his brain.
but he knew his principal was right.
link had figured out his fragile sort of anarchy. he’d put a wobbly sort of definition under its name.
“it’s not punching.” he said to the air, later in the parking lot with pepe beside him.
"keep it.” she said, even though she knew very well he wasn’t talking directly to her. “make it strong.”