"Felix, got a moment?" Cody asked as he got an Algae Lager from the fridge.
"Uh, yeah, Boss," Felix said as he stood up.
"You want one?" Cody asked pulling out one of the Rizzo's Purpleberry Liqueurs that Felix favored.
"Yeah, actually," Felix said and took the offered drink. "Thanks, Boss." Their fingers brushed as Cody handed him the drink and he felt the lightness in his chest flare up again. He'd been meaning to see Ellie about that.
The captain led him out of the kitchen and down the stairs into his quarters. Felix hadn't been in there before. He'd never seen anyone else invited in either. Something about that made this seem so much more intimate. He wasn't sure if he wanted to be this intimate with the boss. Those heavy thoughts were chased away by the awesome decorations all around the room.
"Woah, where'd all this come from?" Felix said distractedly.
"I helped people and they gave me this shit as thanks," Cody said with a grin. "The mantiqueen head I got myself, though."
"Oh, yeah! I remember that," Felix said with excitement. "Watching you hack that thing off was so gross!"
"It was quite an achievement. I wanted to have a momento from it," Cody said as he popped the top off his drink.
Felix did the same and looked around as he took a swig. Something small on the desk caught his eye. "Where'd the music box come from?"
"I don't really remember where I picked this one up from, but I - it reminded me of someone special to me, so I kept it. Put it somewhere I'll see it. So I can be reminded of them and this special softer side of them that very few people get to know," Cody said distractedly as he looked affectionately at the tiny metal box.
Felix feels his stomach sink. "You really care about this person, huh?" He suddenly wished he had a stronger drink in his hand.
"A lot, yeah. The problem is I don't know if they feel the same way. I'd be happy to be just a friend to them - if that's what they wanted. They could use a real friend. They've been taken advantage of enough for one lifetime at least. I don't want to add any more to their pain, Yknow."
Felix nodded, trying to be a good friend and ignore the wierd sinking feeling this conversation was giving him.
"But at the same time I want to run my hands through their hair and kiss them until our lungs burn and we have to break for air. I want to push him against a wall and pin his hands and make him feel like the only thing in the universe that matters. I want," he sighed, losing steam. "I want a stronger drink."
"Me too," Felix sighed. It hurt to think of the Captain doing all that and feeling all that for someone but the thought that those feelings weren't returned? That made him angry. He didn't understand it, but he sure felt it.
Cody poured them both some whiskey from the drink cart in the corner. "I don't know what to do, Felix. What would you do?"
"Me? You're coming to me for advice? You're the one everybody goes to for help," Felix said choking on the rest of his liqueur.
"Yeah, but you know him better than I do. I was hoping you could help me broach the subject of my enormous crush without making an ass of myself and making them feel uncomfortable around me after if I get rejected."
"I know them better than you do? I don't know any guy more than you do?"
"This guy you do. How do I let him know that I care about him but that he doesn't have to do anything about that? That he can ignore it or reject me and we can still be friends?"
"Weren't you the one who told Parvati that she can't control how other people react to her? You have to realize the same. If this guy likes you back, then you're golden but if he doesn't you'll get over it eventually. And you'll have all of us to help you," Felix offered. Even just thinking about how broken hearted the boss would be in that scenario, made him want to punch this guy in the face, whoever he was.
"Not all of you," Cody said sadly. "You'd definitely be on his side," he added with a sad chuckle.
"Not a chance, Boss! You're the best friend I've ever had. I'd follow you into the sun," Felix said being aggressively supportive as usual.
"I'd never ask you to. If some crazy suicide mission comes up, I'd rather go alone if I thought we couldn't handle it," Cody said to change the subject.
"See! That's what I mean. You care. I'd follow you anywhere because I know you've got my back."
"That's just what any good captain should do though," Cody said dismissively. "What should I do about this guy though?"
"You seem like you don't want to ask him outright," Felix pondered. "Maybe a message? It worked out for Parvati," he shrugged.
"I highly doubt that would work on him. He," Cody chuckled. "He isn't big on reading."
"Well, what about a short message?"
"What? Like - 'Hey, I really care about you and wanted to ask you to go steady but I don't want to make things awkward between us. If you don't like me in that way just reply with a no and we can pretend this never happened.' Do you really think that could work?"
"Can't hurt to try right?"
"What if he gets mad?"
"Then he doesn't deserve you."
"Don't say that. He deserves better than me," Cody snapped sadly. He poured himself another drink.
"Not possible, Boss," Felix said with a clap on his shoulder. "No one in the colony could do better than you."
"Would you help me write this message then? What would appeal to you if you were reading it?"
"To not read it," he blurted out. "I mean! I just would rather hear it face to face is all. See that you mean it on your face. Hear you say it and all that."
"So say, hypothetically speaking, its you and I pull you aside. What should I say? Should I give you one of your favorite drinks and invite you into my quarters for a chat only to turn the conversation on it's head at the first chance to tell you how much I care for you? Or should I pretend it's someone else and try to get pointers on how to woo them when actually I want pointers on how to woo you?"
"I'm gonna be honest with you, boss," Felix said, suppressing a burb. "I didn't follow any of that."
Cody chuckled. "To be honest I don't know if I even did," he said with a blush. "Didn't expect to feel it so quick. When did I start drinking from the bottle?"
"When did that happen?" Felix said with a chuckle. "Pass it here," he encouraged with a grin.
Hours passed like minutes as they drained the bottle and talked about a hundred different little things. Felix was going off about tossball when he realized that the Captain was watching him with open affection. He realized he'd never seen the boss so relaxed and at ease. He looked like he could nod off any minute. He wore a fond little smile that showed off his dimples and his eyeslids were hanging low and blinking slowly. Felix found himself wondering how many people had seen Cody like this. With his guard down. Utterly unconcerned with the rest of the world. Like they're the only two people in the galaxy. He wondered if the guy Cody had talked about had ever seen him like this.
A selfish part of him hoped he'd be the only person to ever see this side of the boss. The side that drank too much and could barely sit up straight. The side that made a face at Felix's cigarette. Nose all scrunched like the smell offends him, but he won't say anything about it. Like he respects that its Felix's choice.
Felix always liked that about the boss. He'd never tell you how to live your life. Felix put his cigarette out anyways though. If the smell made Boss uncomfortable, he'd just not smoke around the boss.
At some point during the night, Cody blacked out. He wakes up sitting on the floor leaning against Felix with their backs against Cody's bed. His head is killing him but he notices that a blanket was draped across the two of them.
"Good morning, Captain," ADA said over the speaker system.
"ADA? What happened last night?"
"You tried to confess your feelings to Felix, chickened out, and got drunk together instead," the computer helpfully supplied.
"Thanks ADA," Cody said sarcastically. "Who put the blanket on us?"
"I'll have to thank her," he said with a stretch, careful not to jostle Felix too much. He was so peaceful, only slightly drooling. Cody's heart seized up. "I have to tell him," he sighed. He leaned back into Felix's sleeping form, taking advantage of their predicament to satisfy his craving for such closeness. He knew he'd have to tell Felix how he felt and wanted to enjoy the closeness while it lasted.
A few minutes later and Felix started to wake up. He wiped his face and apologized for the drool but Cody told him not to worry about it. "It was cute," he said encouragingly.
"Cute? I drooled on you and you thought it was cute?" Felix chided in disbelief.
"I think about 90% of what you do is cute. The Millstone Special? Cute. The way you get on Max's nerves? Cute. Every time you open your mouth to say something - anything at all - I think you're utterly adorable. Last night I was going to tell you all of this but I lost my nerve. I pretended I had feelings for someone else and needed your help wooing them but really it's you I care for. It's always been you. I'm sorry I lied."
Felix asked for some time to deal with all of that and figure out where he stands on it. A few hours later he heard the Captain and Parvati were talking in the hold.
"So did you tell him?" Parvati asked with a nervous excitement.
"Yeah," the captain said apprehensively. "Yeah, I told him."
"Why do you sound so upset? What did he say?"
"I don't have an answer yet," the captain said and Felix could hear him drop himself onto a crate. "I fucked up, Parvati. I fucked up big," he said with a sigh.
Felix wasn't typically one for eavesdropping. It was a habit he picked up from the boss. He pressed up to the edge of the doorframe and chanced a peak inside. The boss was sitting on a crate, leaned forward with his head in his hands. Parvati moved to rub his back.
"Hey, Captain. It's ok. I'm sure you're just bein' too hard on yourself," she said trying to soothe him. "Tell me what happened," she encouraged.
"I didn't tell him last night like I had meant to. I chickened out and we got drunk and I went on and on about how much I cared for him. Only I pretended I was talking about some other guy. And then we got more drunk and I blacked out and woke up this morning and we were leaning against each other. Well, you saw, you were the one that draped the blanket over us," the captain explained dejectedly.
"Well that ain't soundin' too great so far," Parvati agreed sympathetically. "When did you actually tell him?"
"When he woke up. I'd been up for a while working up the nerve for it. Probably would have chickened out again if he didn't seem so down on himself. I was too hungover to think about my word choice," he said with a bitter smile. "I called him cute for drooling on me. Told him I always find him cute. Everything he does. Everything he says. I just find so endearing. If he rejects me then I hope I'm just deep in the trenches of infatuation and it'll pass eventually. I hope it doesn't make things awkward between us."
"I don't think it's infatuation, Captain. That's only when you don't know someone but you really like 'em," Parvati said patiently. "You know Felix. Probably know him better than the rest of us. If you still care for him, then that's real. It might could've been infatuation to start, but that don't make it any less real now."
"So if he rejects me I have real heartbreak to look forward to. Great," the captain said dejectedly.
"I don't think he's gonna reject you flat out. Sure, you went about it a little underhanded but Felix tends to overlook that kind of thing if he doesn't want to think about it."
"I'm underhanded on jobs all the time. I don't like being underhanded with the people I care about," the boss said guiltily.
"And that's what separates you from the people who took advantage of him in the past. You actually do care. You feel guilty. You're not trying to justify it to yourself or to me."
"It was manipulative and underhanded. I was drunk but that's no excuse. I could just as easily have talked to him about anything else," the boss chastised himself. He smiled as an idea came to him. "Could've listened to him go on about tossball and nurture that spark of joy into a stronger flame of happiness. I could have made him happy instead of going on about my troubles trying to woo him. I wish I'd made him happy instead," he added regretfully.
Felix had heard enough. Listening to the boss berate himself made him feel less angry about it. It hurt to see the captain beat himself up like that, especially on his account. Felix walked in as Parvati was trying to get the boss to see that his conscience was what separated him from Clyde. He meant well. He always meant well. Never took a day off from being the good guy.
"Hey, Boss?" Felix said suddenly very nervous now that he was actually doing this. He'd never cared for anyone like he cared for the boss. It took a bit of thinking to figure that out. "Can we talk?" he continued when they looked up at him. He understood how nervous the boss was last night. Telling someone how you feel is difficult.
"Sure, do you want to do it here or..." the Captain trailed off, seemingly drawing a blank on other good spots to chat.
"Here's ok, I guess. But um, Parvati?" Felix felt his nerves in his throat. He knew he had to do this, but it was hard.
"I get it," she said raising her hands placatingly as she stood. "I need to check the engine room anyway," she added and left them with an encouraging smile.
Felix and the boss both began their sentences at the same time and chuckled nervously at themselves. "You first, Boss," Felix said with a little bit of a fond smile.
"I wanted to apologize about last night. The way I went on and trying to get your advice on how to properly woo you. It wasn't right. It was manipulative and underhanded, and if you can forgive me, I'll never do it again. If you can't forgive me, I still won't do it again. I'd just be sad about it," he said. His voice was so heavy with regret and sadness that the joke at the end didn't sound like one at all.
"I forgive you, Boss," Felix said fondly.
The Captain looked up at him in disbelief. "Just like that?"
"That was the easy part, Boss. You never lied to any of us or manipulated us before. The rest of the colony is another story but you're always genuine with us," Felix explained. "You're always patient and help us with any favors we need. You always look out for us. No matter what. Even when I needed to visit an asteroid across the colony and we were manipulated. You were there for me. And you let Parvati drag us all over the colony getting a hundred little things for her date with Ms. Tennyson. You care, Boss. And you show it in a hundred little ways," he continued, surprised with himself. Maybe admitting his feelings will be easier than he thought. "It's one of the things that sets you apart. You care. So much. If people mock me for being stupid or useless, you shut them down quick. If people are rude to Parvati, you snap them back in line. When shit went south with Max and Reggie, you talked Max down. Whenever shit goes south, you're always there to support us," he continued with a fond smile. "You're wicked smart but you never talk down to me. Even Dr. Welles calls you a genius but you never let anything like that go to your head. You're probably smarter than the vicar but you don't feel the need to show off like he does. You can talk crazy science shit with the best of 'em but you can also just chat and go off about normal stuff with little words that even I can understand." Felix ran a hand through his hair nervously. "You're so funny and kind and smart and I've never met anyone like you. I doubt anyone has!" He was getting a little too worked up and saw worry quilckly paint the boss's face, no longer bashful or flattered, now just concerned. "And that's why it was so hard for me to come to terms with how I felt. You're so good I thought everyone felt the same way I do. But if they did, Ellie wouldn't be trying to convince you to be more selfish and Parvati wouldn't be trying to ask Ms. Tennyson to go steady and Nyoka wouldn't still be so upset about her old crew and Max wouldn't be such a prick all the time. If everyone felt the way I do, I'd have probably never met you. And that's so scary to think about."
"Wait, how'd you figure that?"
"Your ship wouldn't have been impounded. You wouldn't have had the time to worry about me before heading off on your next big adventure."
"I talked to you before my ship was impounded, Felix," the boss said with a fond smile. "I would have invited you on either way."
"And you still had me make a fool of myself?"
"You were a little rough around the edges. I figured I'd give you some pointers and see how well you used them. That way if things didn't work out between you and everyone else, I could at least be sure you'd have a better chance getting on someone else's ship," the captain explained with a fond smile. "I'm glad it worked out though. As you can probably tell."
"Well, that's good to know at least," Felix said as the weight of that fear fell from his shoulders. "It's good to know you wouldn't kick me out if things went south between us."
"Define 'going south' for me, please. Cause in our line of work it can mean anything from a heated argument to a deadly betrayal. And my stance is different for different points on that scale. I won't kick you out if we argue but I'll put a bullet in your head if you betray me and get any of us killed."
"I meant the argument one," Felix said with a chuckle. Confused about how that threat made him feel. On one hand it was a bit of an overreaction for the conversation but on the other hand hearing the boss say shit like that always gave him a pleasant tingling low in his stomach. And he never expected having that kind of threat directed at him would make him horny. It never did before. He swallowed the lump in his throat. "But that's another thing, isn't it? You play by your own rules and hold people responsible for what they've done. Despite however you feel about me, there are some lines I can't cross. Just like everyone else. I - I really respect that about you."
"Speaking of how I feel about you. You said it took a long time to figure out how you feel about me. Does that mean you did figure it out?" the boss said patiently. Despite his tone though, Felix could see the anxiety in his eyes. He was worried it'd be bad news.
"I did. I think I was afraid to admit to myself how much I care about you because of what happened with Clyde five years ago. But now that I've come to terms with it, at least partly, I think the scariest thing is losing you. And not just because I'd be fucked if you ditched me or croaked. More like I'm scared of you croaking. Or 'spontaneously liquefying' like Dr. Welles said. I'm not even sure what that means but it sounds fucked up."
"It means that I would suddenly become a puddle without warning. It could be as quick as a blink of an eye or as slowly as a melting icepop on a summer day. It should have happened as soon as Phineas thawed me but he pumped me full of enough of this very specific chemical that I was able to survive. This has never been done before on someone who was frozen as long as I was so we don't know if I'm in the clear and it'll never happen or if I'm living on borrowed time and it can happen at any moment."
Felix felt his gut hit his toes. That was even more horrifying and fucked up than he had imagined. "Is there any way to make that less likely?"
"Nothing short of giving me more of that chemical but Phineas used the last of what he had when he thawed me. Everything I've been doing for him is to get more of that chemical so we can thaw out the other colonists on the Hope."
"The Hope? But it was lost?"
"It wasn't lost. It's skip drive malfunctioned and it had to use its normal engines the rest of the way. It was only 26 years late and it's been floating at the very edge of the colony for over forty years. No one who knew the truth was willing to do anything until Phineas. I'm not the first colonist he's tried to revive. I'm just the first that survived. And that's why we don't know how long it'll last."
"So at any point you could just suddenly become a puddle? And you never told any of us this!"
"Like anyone would believe me? The fact that I'm alive is a miracle. I've never lied to any of you but even I know this is a lot to swallow."
"I believe you."
"Can you honestly say that you always would have?"
"Well, no. But having both you and Dr. Welles tell the same story does make it more believable."
"And I couldn't bring you to meet him until after I knew I could trust you. Did I wait a while after that? Yeah. Too long? Probably. But he's the only one who knows how to save all those people. I can't risk that. Even if I'm sure."
The silence that followed was heavy. Felix remembered being the only one the boss took when he went to see Phineas, aside from SAM. The fact that he was the only person the captain trusted to keep everything they saw and heard a secret was not lost on him. He couldn't imagine going back to life before the boss picked him up. He couldn't imagine how horrible it would be to lose the boss. Especially that horrifically.
"It sounds like we don't have anything to do other than make the most of whatever time you have," Felix said.
"That's what I've been trying to do," the boss said with a heavy sigh.
"No, I mean us. You and me. Together. If that's alright by you?"
"You're serious?" the boss said grinning in disbelief.
"I don't know how any of this is supposed to work though. I know what happens in the serials but I've been told they're not accurate about a lot of other things so I don't really know what to expect."
The boss got up and closed the distance between them. He squeezed Felix's arms and said with an encouraging smile, "That's ok, Felix. Whatever you're comfortable with. I'm just happy I don't have to pretend anymore."
"That I don't want to kiss you. And I don't want to run my hands through your hair or squeeze your hand for reassurance when I get nervous."
Felix's eyes softened as he watched the boss smile so openly. Just beaming with light and life and happiness. He did that. For once the Captain was acting his age and he did that. "I may be bad at it, but can I kiss you?" he asked.
"I'll walk you through it," the boss said as he leaned in and wrapped his arms around Felix's neck, pulling him close and leaning in.