I assure you, this is NOT a genderbend. Feliks is NOT a girl. (Everyone just thinks he is...)
Toris Lorinaitis knew, from the first time he stepped foot in the Moonshine theatre, that there was going to be trouble.
He had overslept, of course, that morning – it happened to everyone, once in awhile. Though he didn't end up being late for the lecture on particle physics he did have to skip breakfast and for some reason, the day just went downhill from there. Right after physics, he had to hop on his bike and pedal like a madman towards the other end of campus for his Russian literature class, and didn't get to eat lunch until almost two o'clock in the afternoon. He had forgotten to eat dinner the night before, as well, as he'd been working on a paper for said cursed Russian Lit class, so this would have been his first meal in… oh, over twenty-four hours. He was a college student; he could handle it. It just made him significantly more irritated.
By the time he skidded towards the bike racks, though, it was almost 2:30. He had exactly one hour to eat before he had to be at the theatre. He'd be alright.
Then he saw his bike. He stood, frozen, unable to believe what was going on.
"Um, excuse me, but you're totally blocking the bike racks," came an impatient voice from beside him. Toris barely flinched, not even looking. The person beside him tapped a foot, impatiently. "I said, excuse me…oh. God. Is that your bike?"
"It was," Toris moaned.
Actually, the bike was no longer there. He had been in such a hurry that he'd only looped the chain through the front wheel, not the whole frame. While he was gone, someone had carefully unbolted that front wheel and carried off the rest of the bike. And took the tire. All that was left was the rusty, slightly bent aluminum wheel frame.
"Man, that's totally not even cool!" muttered the girl next to him. Toris turned to look at her with baleful eyes.
"You can say that again," he muttered.
She was a pretty little thing, slim and cute, with a messy blonde bob and an orange and blue sundress. It looked like it might have been a bit awkward to ride a bike in, but there she was, walking some hot-pink beach cruiser and staring at what remained of Toris' only transportation.
"Man, that's totally not even cool…" she repeated dutifully.
"Oh god, I'm so screwed…" Toris murmured, half to himself. "I have to… I have to be at the theatre by 3:30, and it's down on Main and First. That's almost… two miles." He shook his head. "If I start walking now, maybe…"
The girl frowned a little. "Hey, not to be rude, but, you're, like, talking about the Moonshine Theatre, for Midsummer practice?" she asked.
Toris nodded. "Yeah. It's my first day as stage manager, and they're paying me, too… oh man I'm so screwed…"
The girl only laughed. "No you're not! I have to be over there, too! You can ride on my handlebars!"
The girl held out a perfectly manicured hand, palm-down, as if she wanted him to kiss it. Toris abstained, but did shake it politely. "I'm Felicia Łukasiewicz. And I believe that I just saved your butt." She smiled angelically.
Felicia made a face. "What now? 'Lorinaitis'? That has gotta be the longest, most confusing last name I've ever heard."
"Umm… it's Lithuanian… and besides, yours is pretty difficult, too," Toris pointed out.
"Is not! It's perfect. Huh – Lithuanian – Litwa!" she exclaimed.
"Lietuva…" Toris corrected her, thinking she was speaking his language. Then, realizing what she meant, arched an eyebrow. "You speak Polish?"
"No duh," she replied. "Majoring in international relations – concentration in Eastern Europe. So, ya know, kinda have to know some languages. So, Lietuva," she teased. "Come on – I'm totally starving and I wanna eat before practice. Let's go."
Toris just nodded dumbly and followed her into the dining hall. It never occurred to him to ask just how he had gotten from a broken bike to getting a nickname from a cute girl. He figured it didn't really matter. Things just tended to happen to him. Usually, though, they weren't so dizzyingly positive.
Felicia had a nice laugh. He noticed that right away. She laughed in a way that made her seem like it was her against the rest of the world – all brash and brass and confident. Her millions of copper bracelets jangled as she talked and she had the greenest green eyes that Toris had ever seen. In a space of a single hour Toris realized that he liked her, very, very much.
Then he looked down at his watch. 3:28 pm.
He didn't say a word. His mouth just fell open and he felt his heart sink like a stone to the bottom of his stomach. Shit. He. Was. Screwed.
"Hey – Hey Lietuva. Liet. Dude. What's going on?" asked Felicia, waving a jingling hand in front of his face. "You look like someone just, like, died."
Toris had been on the phone with the director of the play, yesterday, in fact. Ms. Hedervary – though she insisted on being called "Lizzie" – had impressed one very important fact into his brain: Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.
"We're late…" he managed to spit out. Oh god, he'd be fired immediately; what kind of stage manager was late, ever? That was his entire job – to be there on time and make sure everyone else was, too. Ms. Hedervary would fire him, immediately, that was certain. He had just lost his job –
"Aww, man, not again…" Felicia moaned, smacking her forehead. "I guess we gotta go quick. And I had just gotten Lizzie to let me have a lead, too." She jumped to her feet, grabbing Toris' hand. "Well, come on, we don't have all day!"
Toris grabbed her hand – who was he, to refuse a cute girl's perfectly-manicured hand? – but he argued as he ran.
"Its no use – I can't go; I can't just slink in there however-the-heck-late we are and expect people to be alright with it –" Felicia pointed to her handlebars and he stared back at her. She pointed again, stamping a foot and waiting, crossing her arms and pouting her lips. He climbed onto the hot-pink beach cruiser's handlebars. Today could really not get any worse could it?
Twenty minutes of horribly-paved roads and shuddering laments about how his life was ruined later, Felicia ground the bike to a halt in front of a mildly unimpressive building that was distinguished from the surrounding warehouses and storage rooms only by a half-hearted marquee that proclaimed: "Auditins Nw Clsed!"
Felicia caught his look. "Some oh-so-funny bastard stole all our o's. Zeroes, too. Now shut your mouth and get inside."
"Geez, you really are a worry-wart, aren't you? Kid, you need someone to calm you down."
"I take medicine for that…" muttered Toris.
"God, you're adorable," Felicia announced, shaking her head in disbelief. Toris was about to ask what in the world she was thinking but he didn't have much of a chance when he felt strawberry-scented lips press firmly against his own. He was too dazed to say a word when she broke off the kiss, and allowed himself to be led inside.
The inside of the theatre was absolute chaos. Toris couldn't take all of it in at once – there was just… so … much.
A half-finished set stood illuminated on the stage, on which two blonde men were hammering what looked to be huge, hairy branches dripping colored garlands of leaves. Beneath the brawny blonde stagehand with impressive side-burns, a brunette young man was rolling in and out of the grotto beneath the set piece, giggling delightedly and yelling something about a siesta. Three men with varying accents (one was American, but the other two sounded British and … French?) were arguing loudly about food or language or idiocy at the foot of the apron. A few Asians were clustered in a corner, two girls, two young males, and one that Toris was not sure about – the androgynous one was currently being pulled away from the group by a very large Slavic man with a scarf to "practice their scene". An unidentified someone was sprawled on top of a set rock, conked out asleep.
At that moment, a man with striking white hair came absolutely screeching out of the stage left wing, chased by a young woman with a large frying pan in her hand. Ah, that would be Elizaveta. Toris fervently hoped that the pan was a prop – er. No. No, it wasn't. She smacked the white-haired man and he went down, crumpled in unconsciousness.
"Hey, Lizzie!" Felicia called up to her. "Sorry I'm late – bike got a flat, you know how it is."
"Course I do, Felicia," Elizaveta said with a vicious smile. She turned the force of her sharp, tiny canines and the attention of her heavy-looking frying pan on the two newcomers, who were standing a safe distance away in the back of the theatre. "Just like I know how it is when I saw you pedaling up with that self-same bicycle, or I know how it is when you skip rehearsal for a week and then skip every other Friday due to 'personal business' and are still not off-book –"
"I thought you knew what you were doing…" Toris moaned quietly to Felicia.
"Whatever gave you that idea?" she asked him wryly. She looked slightly desperate. Toris … kinda wanted to help her.
"I'm sorry, Ms. Elizaveta…" Toris said, stepping forward. "The delay was my fault. Someone stole my bike and Felicia offered to give me a ride – it took so much longer because I was sitting on her handlebars."
Now that he thought about it, he should have been the one pedaling; he shouldn't have made a girl do it. But she hadn't seemed to have any trouble…
Elizaveta was suddenly focused on him, and she looked… gleeful. The expression was absolutely terrifying.
"Ah, Toris. Well, since this is your first infraction, I guess we will let it slide…" The 'we' might have been a slip of the tongue, but with the way that she was fondling that frying pan, Toris wasn't sure. "I fully expect timeliness for every rehearsal from now on, do I make myself clear? After all, early is on time –"
At this, every single solitary person in the theatre mumbled the words along with her. "On time is late, and late is unacceptable!"
The effect was sufficiently creepy.
She clapped her hand to her pan, producing a gonging noise. Everyone in the theatre turned to look at her; a few more people poked their heads out from the legs in the wings. "Now that everyone is here, I hereby call this rehearsal to order! We're practicing from the top – and everyone is off-book; there are only three weeks until opening! Anyone not needed on stage, go check in with Toris," she gestured to the boy with her pan. "He's our new stage manager. Toris – got your script?"
The boy ducked his head, upset that all the attention was suddenly swung at him. He had volunteered for Stage Crew for a reason, and that reason pretty much involved not getting stared at. Still, he nodded, obediently pulling a three-ring binder from his book bag with his script, contact list, and extra paper fastened neatly inside.
"Good work, soldier," Elizaveta barked. "Now, places for the top of the show and so help me if I hear talking backstage or in the audience I'M BASHING HEADS."
No one seemed particularly scared. Felicia pecked Toris on the cheek. "I'm gonna go back and check if my costume is ready. Don't die out here, kay?" She didn't wait for an answer.
Toris sat down in one of the theatre seats, head spinning. What? This (gorgeous, crazy, adorable) girl who he had only just met had suddenly kissed him. Twice. In about five minutes. What on –
"I'm Oberon," said a grumpy voice by Toris' elbow. He looked up to see a short British man, one of the arguing actors, glaring down at him from beneath a set of impressive eyebrows. "Arthur Kirkland."
Toris blinked, scrabbling for his pencil. He looked down his list of actors, checking Arthur's name off under the slot for today's date. Part of his duty was attendance for the rest of the practices, Elizaveta had told him.
"Can I have your phone-number?" he asked, finding room to pencil it onto the list.
"Hey, hey, hey, this one's mine!" announced a guffawing, inappropriately loud voice. A blur of blonde hair and heavy limbs and too-big features stumbled into their row, tripping to catch itself with an arm around Arthur's shoulders. "Alfred Jones, Bottom. Pleased to meet'cha and all that, but stay away from my boyfriend."
"I'm no one's property, you git, and he was asking for my number so that he can put it down on the contact list," Arthur snapped. "Are you sure that you graduated high school, you ignoramous?"
"Aww, Artie, you're just being mean because you don't wanna admit that I rescued you from a potential molester–"
Toris watched the proceedings with wide eyes, wondering if he'd get a chance to ask Alfred for his number, or even if that was a good idea. A warm weight snaked itself around his neck from the other side, and he squeaked, looking up into the smouldering blue eyes of the third member of the arguing actors that he had seen earlier.
"Francis Bonnefoy, also known as Francis Flute, pleased to make your acquaintance," the man purred.
"R-right. Um." Toris marked the name, but before he had even finished the "x", Francis had plucked the pencil from his fingers, scrawling his number across the top of the page.
"That's for you, cher," he said, pinching Toris' cheek.
"Like, seriously, can you stop flirting with everything that moves?" demanded a very familiar, and very welcome voice. Felicia stood aisle, resplendent and in full costume. Toris blinked, taking a deep breath.
She was in a beautiful turquoise gown, simple and floor-length and embroidered across the top with sequins. It was topped with a flowing cape that attached around the shoulders and on thin bracelets to her wrist, and on her head she was wearing a gilded crown of twisted wire.
"Well, well, well," said Francis appreciatively. "I guess I'm not the only one who looks good in a dress."
"Go jump in, like, a pond and ruin your hair, you jerk," said Felicia, sticking her tongue out. Francis sniffed, bowing deeply to Toris and allowing himself to be dragged away by the (still-bickering) Alfred and Arthur. Toris had not torn his eyes away from Felicia.
"Well, you know that I'm here," Felicia said, sitting next to him. She suddenly seemed nervous, and was twisting a strand of hair in her fingers. "I'm, like, Titania in case you didn't notice. But whatever."
"I… I need your number…" Toris said, offering her the pencil.
She smiled at him, a little devious, a little excited. "Well, then. If you put it that way." She gave him the pencil back, though, and pulled a little pink gel pen out of her… well, out of her bra, actually, but Toris pretended he hadn't seen that. She scrawled her number on the paper, then again on his arm.
"Don't wash it off," she said, smirking and whispering in his ear. "You might need it."
As suddenly as she had leaned forward, though, she was back, safely in her own seat, a faint blush coloring her cheeks. "I… well, since you're new, how about I … like, um… tell you who is who and stuff. My scene isn't for a bit." Toris nodded quickly, and they sat back to watch the actors rehearse.
Felicia was good about pointing out most of the characters. "Some of them, are like, gen-bent and stuff. We have a lot of guys who wanna try out. And they're pretty good at Shakespeare – especially that Arthur dude, but he's majoring in Brit Lit, so whaddya expect, right? Our 'lovers' are… umm, Gilbert as Demetrius –" she pointed to the albino kid who had magically revived himself from his assault at Elizaveta's hands. "Mei as Helena –" a short girl from the Asian group. "Ivan as Lysander –" the frighteningly tall Slavic man. "And Yao as Hermia." The androgynous Asian. "He totally didn't wanna be a girl, but he's just gonna have to suck it up because he looks sooo cute in his toga-thing." Felicia grinned.
She was really good company, and Toris found himself with his eyes glued to her when she was on stage, too, surrounded though she was by a frightening number of male faeries. At least the male Puck was traditional – it was a cheery Spaniard named Antonio who was too spaced out to play much of a sprite.
Practice lasted until six o'clock that night – Elizaveta wanted to go longer, but the rest of the cast wasn't going to put up with that. Between Alfred's yowls of hunger, Gilbert's screeches of how 'awesome' people should not be kept against their will, and a general feeling of utter evil radiating from Ivan's direction, she was outvoted and flounced off in a huff to sulk somewhere.
Felicia made her way over to Toris. "Come on, you need a ride home, right? Feliciano says we can ride in his van. I totally don't wanna bike home, passenger or no passenger."
Toris nodded. "Yeah, sure. Thanks. Man… I'm really sunk without a bike…" Felicia patted his shoulder, then grabbed his arm to drag him over to the little brunette who had been rolling around on stage with the big stagehand before practice.
"Ve, ciao!" the kid greeted. "Nice to meet you – I forgot to check in. I'm a fairy - Feliciano, but everyone gets me confused with Fel – um, Felicia, so… you can call me something else! Ludwig calls me Italia –"
"Because that is how you introduced yourself," the stagehand, presumably Ludwig, grumbled.
"I didn't know any English!"
"Yelling the name of your country and waving a white flag isn't going to get you anywhere, no matter where you are; I don't care what language you speak!" he roared. Toris flinched, but the Italian only giggled and snuggled close to the big brute.
"Ve~, Ludwig is so cute when he's frustrated. Well, if you don't like that, you can call me Veneziano. It's my middle name." He pouted. "Mama thought it was funny, cuz my names rhyme kinda. Now, you wanted a ride back to campus?"
Toris nodded eagerly, at a bit of a loss as to what else to do. "Thanks a lot; I really appreciate it."
"No problema! My brother can also help get you a bike, you know," Veneziano offered. "He's got all sorts of connections."
"Stop volunteering me for things!" a voice barked. It was another brunette, strikingly similar to It but for a dark and dangerous frown across his features. He was being felt-up (er, followed…) by Antonio.
"Aww, Lovi, don't get mad~," Antonio cajoled happily. "If you don't like it, you don't have to be here. You're not in the play or anything.
"Sh-shut up. I'm just here to make sure a sandbag doesn't fall on you or something."
"Silly Lovino, always worrying," Antonio cooed at him.
Toris raised his eyebrows at Felicia. She wiggled her own back at him, comically, a look that assured them that "Yes, they are together. Even if it doesn't look like it."
"I saw that, finocchio," Lovino growled. Felicia didn't seem offended, but Toris prickled a little, realizing the young man was probably insulting her.
"Alright, are we all ready?" asked Veniziano happily. He twirled a set of keys on his fingers. "Andiamo!" And then he took off running, out of the theatre, giggling and shouting "Retreat!" on his way to the parking lot.
The van was… an actual van. Toris had been expecting – well, a minivan. Or something. Something with seats, yeah, that would have been nice. But no. The vehicle was your standard pedophile-white delivery van, emblazoned on the side with an advertisement for Vargas' Pizza, Pasta, and Family! restaurant which Veneziano explained that his grandfather owned. He proudly threw open the doors, ushering everyone inside. Antonio bounded in happily, followed by Ludwig and Felicia, seeming used to it. Felicia had grabbed her bike, hoisted it, and tossed it mercilessly against the van bed. Lovino brushed past all of them, throwing open the front door and sitting grumpily in the passenger seat.
"Come on, come on, get in!" Felicia beckoned. "It's not gonna bite.
Toris grimaced. There were no seatbelts. There were no seats. Surely this wasn't legal.
But Felicia was holding out one smooth, slender hand and Toris couldn't do anything but take it. It was warm and bigger than he expected and somehow, that suited Toris just fine. She didn't seem like the kind of "so-dainty-you'll-break-her" type anyway.
The truck smelled like flour and eggs and oregano and it made Toris hungry. But maybe that was because they – Ludwig, Felicia, Antonio, and he – were packed in all snuggly and he was very much pressed up against Felicia's side.
But he decided he wasn't going to think about that.
He didn't have to work very hard to distract himself, though – without warning, the engine fired up and Veneziano peeled out of the drive with the sharpest turn Toris had ever had the misfortune of living through, and that was only the beginning.
The two-mile ride to campus was the longest of Toris' life. In the fleeting images glimpsed through the front window, he counted at least three red lights they had run, as well as one old lady that they had to swerve in order to save. He felt himself sliding across the van, rattling like a dried seed pod, flung first into the giggling mass that was Antonio and then into the hard, unforgiving shoulder of Ludwig.
And then he found himself very much in Felicia's lap.
Sure, the car was still swerving, but for the briefest of seconds, the entire world slowed down to a tiny pinpoint – Toris. Was sitting. In Felicia's lap.
He was pressed up against her chest and he could feel the warmth of her legs beneath him through the fabric of her dress. Maybe something was off about the way he was sitting and the way that she felt beneath him and for some reason he expected something different but it still felt amazing and he was so close to her face that he could see her blissed-out expression as it slowly turned to – panic?
And then he found himself sprawled on the floor of the van as it started to slow. He'd been very firmly pushed there by Felicia herself, who looked like she was going to have a heart attack.
Toris got the distinct feeling that he'd Done Something Wrong.
"We're here!" Veneziano said happily from the front seat. "We're at campus! You can all get out now – I need to get the van back to Nonno in twenty minutes, si?"
Toris scrambled to his feet, swaying a little in belated sympathy to the previous swaying of the vehicle, feeling something like a sailor on land after a long journey. He was seasick enough. He fumbled with the bar to the back doors until Ludwig or Antonio – he couldn't tell which, he decided he wasn't thinking straight – took pity on him and let him out.
Felicia hopped down beside him, letting Ludwig hand her the beach cruiser. Her face was flushed pink and she refused to meet Toris' eyes. She smiled and thanked Veneziano, laughed at something Antonio said to her, and got on the bike.
"I'll see you all at practice tomorrow, yeah?" she said, addressing no one in particular.
"If I can get there…" Toris said, realizing again how screwed he was without transportation.
"Oh, stop fucking whining, I said I'd help you," Romano snapped from the front seat. Toris didn't remind him that he did not agree to help, just verbally lambasted his brother for volunteering him.
"T-thanks, that's very nice –"
"Aww, Lovi, that's such a sweet thing to say!" Antonio cooed, trying to wiggle through the space between the front seats in order to be able to hug Romano. In the swearing and struggle that followed, Felicia simply gave everyone a half-wave and… just biked away.
Toris noticed her go, and wondered what he did wrong. Her fingers had been shaking on her handlebars.
"You had a pretty good day," Eduard conjectured almost the moment that Toris open the door. He was curled in the far corner of one of the two beds in their shared dorm room, propped up on a pillow and a humming laptop on his lap, his glasses reflecting blue light.
Toris blinked, hefting his bag of schoolwork onto the desk chair on his side of the room.
"What do you mean –" Toris began, before realizing that Eduard was on Skype, his headset on, and was definitely not talking to him.
"Oh, hi Toris," Eduard said, looking up briefly to smile at his roommate. He turned the computer around so that Toris was looking at a video feed on the computer. "Say hi to Tino."
"Hey," Toris greeted, working up a smile for Eduard's friend. "How's the honeymoon?"
Tino, a small blonde boy, still not grown out of his gawky, angular teenaged body, smiled broadly back at him through the screen, his voice coming out distorted and tinny through the laptop speakers. "Wonderful! Helsinki is so pretty, and Be is taking me to Stockholm next, before we head back home!"
Toris nodded. "That sounds like fun. I'm glad you guys are having a good time. Say hello to Berwald for me."
Tino nodded enthusiastically before Eduard turned him back around and resumed their previous conversation, mostly lamenting the unfair fact that Tino had managed to secure leave from classes for the two weeks that the honeymoon lasted. Toris turned back to his bed, pulling out his Russian Literature book and trying to start his homework. He didn't get very far.
So, Lietuva, I'm totally starving –
- Come on, get in! –
Don't wash it off, you might need it.
Toris looked down at his arm, staring at the pink lines of gel pen written there. He pulled his phone out of his pocket, carefully programming them into his contacts. Then he turned his attention to stare at the phone, wondering if he did need it, if that's what Felicia had meant, giving him her number – to call her, even though… even though it was late and maybe that would make him come off like a stalker and –
"You gonna call her?"
At first, Toris thought that Eduard was still skyping with Tino, but as he turned he saw that the earphones were off and the computer snapped shut.
"H-huh?" Toris asked unsteadily.
"The girl, who apparently wrote her number on your arm. You gonna call her?" Eduard pressed.
Toris gaped. "How did you know –"
"Toris, for the last time. It's pink gel pen. On your arm. Of course it's a woman," Eduard told him matter-of-factly. "And now I'm just wondering whether you're going to man up and get a hold of this chick or what."
"I- um – I just – I just met her!" Toris managed to squeeze out, cursing his ineloquence. Usually he could express himself just fine, but now his brain was almost shorted out, simply by the events of a (surprisingly long) day.
Eduard shrugged. "Okay, you aren't gonna man up. Fine by me, but you'll regret it." He stood up, stretching. "How was your first day at the theatre?"
"… odd…" Toris said, knowing there was not a more descriptive adjective for it. Perhaps there wasn't a proper adjective for it at all.
Eduard smiled. "Oh, good, you had fun. Well, that's nice. Listen, I'm going downstairs to play DnD with a few of the guys – don't roll your eyes, it's my one vice!" he protested good-naturedly in response to Toris' mock-exasperated look. "Have fun, do your homework, and call that girl. Dude, she wrote. Her number. On your arm."
"Yeah, I kinda got it," Toris told him with a soft grin. "I'll see."
Eduard let out a little, puffing laugh, and hooked his laptop under his arm like it belonged there. "See you later."
Toris didn't get any homework done that night. He spend most of his time, staring at his phone, waiting for it to suddenly read his mind and move, dial on its own. When it became clear that wasn't happening, Toris sighed and changed into his pajamas.
Maybe he was dreaming all of this. Maybe he'd wake up and all of it would be gone.
He still wondered why Felicia's hands were shaking, but he fell asleep to the memory of the feel of her lips against his.
The next morning Toris was running significantly less late than he had been the morning before – he even had time for breakfast – when he bustled out of his dorm room -
- and then let out a shriek as something large and metal and shiny fell in through the door. For a moment, he had a nightmare vision of some kind of mafia movie, a dead horse in the hallway, falling through his door onto him but of course horses weren't made of metal…
When Toris was finally able to breathe normally and his heart was not threatening to choke him, he took a closer look and realized the mysterious object was a silver bicycle.
There was a piece of paper taped to it. Two very distinct handwritings were looped across the paper. The first was large and slightly feminine.
I hope you like it~! Love, Veniziano
The other was slanted and scratchy, only two words.
That one was Lovino's. The Italian brothers had gotten him a bike. Already.
It was stolen. Toris was positive that it was stolen. He rode it to Russian Lit anyway because it beat the hell out of walking.
The morning felt long to him, and not only because his professor was had adopted his I'm gonna speak so slowly that you'll hate Tolstoy forever lecture voice. He watched the clock anxiously, waiting for 3:30 to roll around so he could be back in the theatre, doing his job and watching practice and, most of all, seeing Felicia.
Class let out at 12:35 and when Toris walked out into the sunlight, he was greeted by the sight of his shiny new bike and a bright pink beach cruiser beside it. Beside that was a blonde girl with a box in one hand a shy smile across her face.
Heart in throat, Toris jogged down the steps of the lecture hall and stood across from her. "Felicia?" he asked in disbelief. "What're you doing here?"
Felicia went an interesting shade of pink and stared down at her platform sandals. She held out the box towards him. It said something in Polish he didn't actually understand and was covered in pictures of things that looked vaguely like Pocky.
"Just take the paluski, damn it," she muttered. For the first time since Toris had met her, she looked shy. Toris really wanted to… well, actually, hug her and never let her go. Protect her from whatever she was self-conscious about.
Toris was kind of at a point where he really had no idea what to do. He had dated exactly one girl, Samantha Green, for a month in seventh grade. He just… hadn't ever gotten a girlfriend. Didn't want one. Was kind of indifferent.
But this girl… just shoved cookies into his hand and looked like she was going to explode from embarrassment and gave him a ride for two miles on her handlebars the day before and so Toris stepped in and kissed her in front of all the kids on the lecture steps.
She tasted like cookies.
And then he was pushed away so hard he tripped over the bike rack.
"Well, that was gonna be my way to ask you to, like, go out with me, but if you're gonna do shit like that in public - !" she whined. She was trying to suppress a smile and failing. She was still adorably pink.
"Isn't it supposed to be me asking you out?" Toris asked, a goofy grin on his face, sprawled across his toppled bike.
Felicia smiled wickedly. "That's just not my style, Lietuva."
It was the beginning of something wonderful, Toris thought, as he stood up and felt the bruises on his back from the metal of the racks. He hopped on his new bicycle and raced Felicia all the way to the Dining Hall. He lost pitifully.
TO BE CONTINUED, I ASSURE YOU.