The next week and a half had Toris in an absolute daze. He met Felicia whenever he could, and they would just… be together. They ate in the Dining Hall, went to practice together, and made out in the green room after everyone had left.
(Actually, they found Elizaveta "sleeping" in the costume closet the second time they did that, and resolved to check the room thoroughly the next time)
Toris did notice that Felicia would always draw away if he put his hands on her too much. Not that he put his hands on her a lot. He wasn't sure what to do with his hands – he was kind of a beginner at this, all told.
Felicia wasn't a beginner, though. She had her fingers stroking down his sides, playing in his hair, on warm palm pressed against his thigh when they kissed. But whenever Toris tried to reciprocate – sliding his hands down just to her hips so he could hold her to him – she flinched a little and gave him a soft, apologetic smile and a not yet orsimply I have to go.
It wasn't as if Toris minded, he guessed. It wasn't as if he were a pervert. Most guys would probably want to touch her boobs, he thought sometimes. He was content just to be with Felicia, if that were what she wanted. He'd go slow. That would be okay.
One day, they biked to the city park with the duck pond and lay in the half-dead autumn-grass and smelled the late summer flowers and held hands while they watched the clouds. Toris never thought that watching clouds would be something that he might enjoy, but… well, it was Felicia, and it was autumn, and he felt on fire.
The next day was Saturday. Toris fully intended to sleep until he was dead – or at least until the five pm rehearsal that Elizaveta had forced on everyone. Hell week would start… next week, actually …. And Toris had hoped to get some sleep before the round of tech rehearsals, dress rehearsals, and then late show nights kept him up and away from homework.
He didn't get to sleep past 8:30 in the morning.
Eduard was up, but he had an incomprehensible sleep cycle and was always careful to be very quiet on the mornings that he was up before Toris. So, it wasn't Eduard who woke him up, or rather, it was not his fault.
The smirk he had on his face was his fault though. Definitely.
Toris was sprawled on top of his blankets in nothing but a pair of boxer shorts. A cold snap in October had been followed with an eerily warm patch now, in November, and the entire building had already switched the air system over to heating in preparation for winter, so Toris had been absolutely burning up the night before.
It was only a matter of Eduard pulling out a water bottle from their mini-fridge and placing it against Toris' stomach to wake him.
" Kales vaikas - Ciupe bybi -!" Toris swore, coming out of a pleasant dream of eagles and flying high above rye fields in a place he didn't know.
Eduard didn't look even remotely chastised. He just smiled knowingly. "I'd keep the swearing down to a minimum if I were you," he told Toris. "Someone impressionable and ladylike might hear them and be scarred. You know, if she wasn't already scarred by the fact you're almost totally naked."
And then, Toris became aware of Felicia standing in the door to dorm room. She was grinning like she owned the world and was gonna make sure everyone knew it, too.
"Nice briefs, big boy," she whistled, examining her nails and leaning against the door-jamb.
"Eep!" Toris squeaked in a very manly way. He dove under his covers, keeping up a litany of curses towards Eduard and doors and unfortunate days to wear Spiderman briefs to bed.
Felicia started laughing, so hard she had to hold onto the wall for support. Eduard had some shit-eating grin plastered all over his face. Toris hated his life.
"Get out…" he moaned. "Let me get dressed and collect what is left of my dignity. Why are you here, anyway?"
"Hmph," hummed Felicia, inspecting a nail and trying to calm her giggles. "What a way to talk to the girlfriend who wanted to take you out to breakfast. You know, we haven't been on a real date yet. Sad, isn't it?"
"Mnghph…" Toris groaned from beneath the covers.
"Alright, alright, I'm leaving. But don't bitch at me – bitch at your roommate for opening the door with you all on display like that," she said cheekily. "Not that I mind much." There was the sound of the door closing. Still, Toris waited a long minute before peeking out from beneath his covers, fully intending on tackling Eduard for his indiscretion.
Sneaky bastard, he'd slipped out with Felicia.
Groaning piteously, Toris dragged himself out of bed, and dressed hastily, wondering if he could still manage a bit of damage control. He definitely changed his underwear. Grey boxers, now that was manly. He tripped out the door some minutes later, to find Felicia in the hallway, rocking back and forth on her heels – heeled boots, a patterned miniskirt, long jacket, not that Toris was ogling her or anything – and staring at the floor. Eduard was next to her, trying to make conversation with his oblivious sense of efficiency.
"… and I definitely think Toris is happier," he was saying.
"Mmm hmm…" Felicia might have mumbled something that translated to actual words, but it was so low and truncated Toris couldn't make it out.
It was kind of adorable, how shy she was when she didn't know people. For all her bluster and show in front of the other actors or her tight group of friends, when she was with someone she was not well acquainted with, she was faintly ridiculous – all averted eyes and one-word answers and a rather endearing pink flush.
He stood in the doorway and watched for a moment, feeling a little vindictive, but he quickly put Felicia out of her misery, striding up and putting an arm around her shoulders.
"I think I've earned my breakfast," he said with a rueful little smile. Eduard couldn't even be bothered to hold back a snicker.
"I think I'll leave you to it," he smiled, disappearing down the hallway with a practiced easiness.
Toris closed his eyes and leaned his head on the hallway wall. "Can we pretend this never happened?"
"Not a chance, superman," Felicia told him. "Now come on, we're going to Gdansk."
Toris was very, very confused by that statement.
"Gdansk" turned out to be the name of a little hole-in-the-wall café a few blocks away from the Moonshine Theatre, serving heavy breads and strong tea and cold meats. Toris spent the meal listening to Felicia tell him he'd better not have any plans for today and then laying out her own agenda for exactly what they were going to do. He didn't mind, not really, although he wasn't pleased when Felicia refused to let him pay the bill, telling him on no uncertain terms that she said she was gonna "take him out", which meant it was her responsibility.
"I'm going to get you back for his," he promised huffily when she dragged him out of the café by the wrist.
"I look forward to it," she assured him. "So. My agenda. We're getting on a bus, capisce? Gotta get out of the city sometimes. Seriously. I feel like I'm gonna suffocate."
The caught the next bus out of town, loading their bikes on the rack in back. Felicia spent the whole ride glued to the window as they took the bridge out of town, watching as the highway turned into just a two-lane thoroughfare that wound between green, forested hills. Felicia pulled the cord and disembarked in front of a tiny little strawberry stand, which she ransacked for bags of berries. Then, she got on her bike and took a trail through the trees behind the stand that was barely visible at all. Toris was fairly certain that a beach cruiser should not logically be able to rough it over what was quickly becoming a bumpy ride – even his new mountain bike wasn't faring too well – but she took the trail with the poise that accompanied everything she did, even balancing a grocery bag of strawberries over the handles as she went.
"Umm… Felicia…?" Toris mumbled as they began to bike through the woods. "Are you going to tell me where we are going?"
"Did you mean to drag me all the way out here so I can't find my way back on my own?"
"Yep. Don't want you running away, you know."
She giggled at him and pedaled harder, and Toris was hard-pressed to keep up.
Eventually, though, she did begin to slow. Toris wondered if she was getting tired, but soon it was apparent that she'd only slowed because they had finally arrived.
"Tadaaa," she said quietly, slipping off the bike.
It was a field, a vast, golden, empty field of weeds and grass and thick vegetation that looked soft and shone in the midday sun. It was oddly beautiful, and oddly comforting, huge and surrounded completely by trees. Over on the far edge was a dilapidated old barn, grey with age and skeletal with missing planks.
They weren't that far outside the city, Toris thought, and wondered how on earth he had encountered another world. He seemed to be doing that a lot, with Felicia. She calmly lead him places he'd never gone before, and he certainly could not have done that without her help. And her persistence. Her manic, manic persistence.
Without much preamble, Felicia plopped down on the golden vegetation, setting the berries next to her and immediately digging in. She gestured to Toris to sit down beside her. "Come on, eat. These things, are like, totally organic. Plus they're fruit, so they're actually good for you."
So he did as he was told, sat, and they ate strawberries until the juice ran down both of their arms and they were left full and happy and just staring at the clouds again, sticky fingers all tangled up and heads close together.
"How'd you know this was out here?" Toris asked.
He felt Felicia shrug next to him. "I didn't. I knew there was a trail behind the berry stand and I figured we'd follow it until we found something cool. And I guess we did."
Toris couldn't help but agree.
He smiled, almost nervously, then turned over and placed a small, gentle kiss to the side of Felicia's neck; just a touch, and he felt her smile press against his hair.
"I love you," he told her. It was the first time either of them had spoken those words, but Toris knew, easily, that it was true and perfect and he loved Felicia, loved her more than anything. Maybe it had only been two weeks, but… well, they'd held out longer than Romeo and Juliet, hadn't they?
Toris felt her gasp against his scalp, and he couldn't help but tilt his head up to smile at her – she smiled back, full and happy and a little watery. He watched her pretty green eyes for some sign that he'd done the right thing. He wanted reassurance from her.
She laughed and looked straight back at him with the happiest expression in the world, and that was when he rolled over on top of her and kissed the breath out of her.
It started out easy and slow, and they both just tasted the rightness of being with each other, but soon Toris couldn't help but push a little harder, a little deeper. He felt Felicia's fingers tangle in his long hair and heard her breath get sharper as she pressed back and –
"Oh shit, stop!" she begged, and suddenly her voice was high-pitched with a genuine fear as she pushed against his chest, panicking, squirming, her eyes blown wide.
Toris immediately backed off, rearing up onto his knees and scooting away quickly, terrified he'd done something horrible and irrevocable. As soon as she could, Felicia flinched away and curled up into herself, bringing her knees to her chest as well as she could in a skirt.
"F-Felicia?" Toris murmured softly, as if she were some animal he was scared of spooking. He reached out for a moment, as if to sooth her, but she shrank even further into herself. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, what did I do -?"
Felicia looked at him with wide eyes, then buried her face in her knees, her muffled voice spitting out curses into the cloth of her skirt. "Shit, shit, not like this, kurwa, oh god – Liet!" She lifted her head. "Liet… I'm sorry. I didn't… I didn't mean to freak out on you."
Toris blinked at her, trying to understand. "Felicia, what's going on?" Something was wrong – obviously something was wrong – and a million horrible scenarios rocketed through his head. Had she been hurt in the past; abused? Why was she pushing him away?
Felicia shook her head. Her eyes were clear and dark and shiny and the skin around them was pink and puffy. "I… I don't think I can tell you. Not like this – not now."
Toris knew he shouldn't pry. That was the last thing that Felicia needed, not with the way her arms were shaking and her fingers twitching against her knees. But he had to know.
"Felicia, you have to tell me." He crawled closer to her, trying just to hold her hand, reassure her. She didn't understand, though, was startled, trying to scramble further backwards, but she was off-balance and ended up sprawling on her back in the field and then Toris saw it and his brain shut down.
Felicia was staring at him, obviously wondering at the look of horror on his face; then she looked down at her lap, and her mouth opened in a wide, frightened "o".
"Liet, I'm sorry…" she whispered, trying to hide the obvious, obscene bulge that a girl's skirt should definitely not have.
It made sense, now; why she had pushed Toris off her lap when they'd fallen together in Veneziano's truck, why she was scared of letting him touch her, the way she was always so strong and her hands were so broad and she could pedal a bike with him on her handlebars.
She was not a she at all. She was a "he".
Toris did nothing but stare.
"Liet," he said, scrambling to his knees, reaching out to touch him and then stopping and drawing back. "Say something."
"Who are you – tell me who you are," Toris said in a daze, sure he wasn't hearing right. He was sure he had just been tricked, by the light and the magic of the afternoon. This wasn't…
Felicia reached out and grabbed Toris' hand. Toris didn't pull away, but he didn't squeeze back.
"My name is Feliks Łukasiewicz, and I never meant for this to happen."
His voice was not different. His hands did not feel different. He looked no different. This was the girl that Toris had fallen – the boy that Toris had – this was –
"Toris, maybe we should go somewhere else, talk about this later. I know this is too much for you right now, I can see it in your face –"
"Tell me now." Toris' voice did not grow any more demanding, flat and tired. "Just let me know, why?"
Feliks hung his head. "I don't know, Liet, really, I don't. I just… I've always liked skirts. I just… I like them. I do it. It's fun."
"So are you a girl? Are you… a transsexual? I can't … I don't understand."
Feliks shook his head violently. "No! No, Toris, I am a guy. I'm a male and everything I did to make you think I was a girl, was…" he trailed off, biting his lip, his voice strangling off into quiet. "It was a lie. I lied."
Obviously. Toris stayed quiet.
"It's just – it's easier if they think I'm a girl. A gay boy in skirts, that's an invitation to be killed, in some places. But if I'm just a girl, just another pretty thing in heels, it's alright. I can wear what I want and I can flirt with who I want –"
" – You flirt with straight men, Feliks. Feliks, you flirted with me."
Toris couldn't even bring himself to be angry. He didn't think it was happening. It was all a dream, and elaborate dream that he could talk himself out of.
"I love you…" Feliks told him in a small voice. "All I wanted was to be able to walk around and love you."
That made Toris' chest hurt a lot.
"We are going to be late for practice," Toris said dully. He stood and grabbed the plastic bag and the remains of their strawberries.
Feliks moved cautiously to his feet, smoothing his skirt and checking his hair. "Yeah."
Toris didn't even bother to wonder about the sudden hopelessness in his voice.
The ride back to the highway was achingly quiet, waiting for a bus to zoom by even more so. Felicia – goddammitall, Feliks – was pointedly not looking at him, scanning the road for signs of a bus or staring at his nails or fiddling with his skirt and Toris just couldn't couldn't couldn't take it.
Some boy was walking around as a girl. As a girl. Toris hadn't known; he hadn't even guessed.
He looked so sad…
Toris wondered how it had gotten that far. How could anyone feel like they had to act like someone that they weren't, just to avoid getting hurt? If Feliks was telling the truth – and god help him, Toris trusted him still – he was just trying to wear what he wanted and without anyone trying to hurt him.
Except… well, except Feliks wasn't acting like someone he wasn't, not even now. He was still sitting with is back straight and his legs crossed and his hair perfect and his mouth all pouty and nervous and he wasn't any different. Only, he was a boy.
I fell in love with this girl… Toris thought hopelessly as a bus finally pulled up.
Feliks went in first, swiping his bus pass and swaggering to a seat like he owned the bus. Walked like he always did, even if Toris could see the hurt and fear in his eyes.
Toris could have sat anywhere else on that stupid bus. He could have sat next to the young woman with the groceries or the sleeping old guy or on any of the empty benches or even stood, but he didn't. He sat down right next to Feliks and he thought:
No. I fell in love with this person.
Feliks looked up in base panic as Toris sat next to him, then obviously tried to calm his expression. Then, he quickly looked away, staring out the window as the city approached them.
"I'm just sorry, Toris…" he said quietly. "I can't say much more than that."
"Feliks…" Toris said equally quietly. He reached out and put a hand on Feliks' shoulder. Feliks flinched, but he pushed back into it, almost subconsciously following Toris' touch. "Feliks, you know I like girls."
Feliks sighed, nodded, didn't turn around.
"But Feliks, I love you."
This time, Feliks did turn around, so fast Toris could swear he gave himself whiplash. "What –"
"You scared the crap out of me," Toris said seriously. "And I'd never say this about another living soul, but I swear to everything, Feliks, wear skirts, shorts, a stupid black tux, I don't care, as long as you continue to be the person I fell in love with. And… and that's the truth. I'll figure out how to deal with the rest of it eventually. I think."
Feliks' smile would never cease to amaze him, Toris decided. It was always so wide and perfect and utterly carefree. He felt soft hands on his cheeks, bringing his face up so Feliks could look at him.
"Don't freak out, okay? You have to deal with nothing. We can figure it out together, right?"
Toris nodded and summoned up a tiny, wet smile, before kissing Feliks soundly on the bus in front of everyone and not feeling even the slightest bit disgusted that he was kissing a boy.
Practice was a whirlwind of skipped lines and one very, very irritated director whose frying pan whistled through the air in a quite disconcerting manner. Toris was set on prompting duty as he sat beside her, trying to work out the preliminaries of where tech cues were supposed to go.
Feliks was dropping lines everywhere.
Toris could see the tension in Lizzie's shoulders snap, and tried to distract her, but before he could get a word out, she marched up to the stage and slammed her pan down on top of it.
"Felicia!" she barked. "What in the name of Budapest has gotten into you?"
Feliks' face got all hot and red, but he glowered down at Elizaveta as if he wasn't completely cowed by her, and Toris was impressed all over again. He made a few token excuses, then Lizzie got distracted by Gilbert's loud snoring from the wings and he was saved.
By the end of the marathon practice, pretty much everyone was exhausted and irritable and feeling not so good about tech rehearsal tomorrow at all, Toris included. Of course, that could simply be jitters from the fact that during tech rehearsal, everything fell to him. Once the cues were in place, he had control over the entire cast – told them where to go and what to do and he didn't really like that bit at all. He preferred his time up in the box, calling cues and pretending he was invisible.
Feliks grabbed his hand as they were leaving. They ended up walking their bikes back to campus and holding hands the whole way. As Veneziano drove by, he wolf-whistled at them and Toris was almost able to hold down a blush.
The next morning – which wisely involved Toris firmly under the sheets and in acceptable underwear – was broken with a call to his cell. Toris considered letting it ring, just because it was making Eduard grumble and moan in his sleep, and really, Toris hadn't forgiven him. But then he realized his ringtone was too annoying even for him and picked it up.
It was Feliks.
"Wanna come back to my place tonight, just for a bit?" he asked.
Toris stuttered, shifting uncomfortably on the bed. "I'd like to, but –"
"I don't mean anything like that, like, 'hey baby why don't we get a room'," Feliks said bluntly. "I actually… I want your help with something. Is that cool?"
Toris nodded much more enthusiastically, despite the fact no one could see him. "Of course. Whatever you need."
He could hear Feliks smile. "Cool."
The "something" he needed help with was, apparently, and outfit.
Feliks had gotten lucky enough to rent his own apartment, apparently having some money saved up from modeling jobs he'd held for the last few years. Toris could easily see how someone would want a pretty, androgynous face like Feliks' on all of the front magazine covers, although Feliks insisted it was "def not a biggie" and he "barely got a few shots published".
The apartment was pretty tiny and a little worn, one of the type the college kept aside for students, one whose occupants changed almost by the year. It, however, apparently had fantastic closet space, into which Feliks dived with very little preamble and came out with a few pairs of slacks and a couple button-downs.
"I didn't know you even had boy-clothes," Toris teased, then looked down at his hands, wondering if he shouldn't have said that. Feliks only laughed and tossed his garments on the bed, next to where Toris was nervously perched.
"Yeah, I've got a few. They're just, like, way not comfy. I think girl's clothes even fit better, though it's hard to find dresses that can deal with my shoulders."
Toris nodded along like he knew what Feliks meant.
"So… um, why now? With the slacks and stuff?" Toris had a sudden moment of panic – was he forcing Feliks into something he didn't want to do? "If this is about me, I –"
"Eh! Shush!" Feliks said, miming slapping his hands in front of his mouth. "I will not have, like, another word out of you if it involves jumping to conclusions."
Toris shut his mouth dutifully. Instead, he stared at Feliks expectantly, arching an eyebrow.
"Well, if I let you know, I might as well let everyone know," Feliks sighed after a moment. "That way, you know, we can all be on the same page or whatever. I know you're pissed that I lied to you."
Well, Toris was, but he wasn't going to say it.
"And everyone else probably would be, too, but I guess I'm tired of lying…"
Toris nodded quietly. "But… Feliks, aren't you worried?"
"I thought you took anxiety medication," Feliks pointed out. "So you can, like, not get anxious about stuff."
"Wasn't the reason that you started pretending to be a girl in the first place so that you wouldn't get hurt?" Toris continued, staring at the clothing on the bed nervously.
He almost missed the flash in Feliks' green eyes. "That was almost five years ago, babe. I take karate now."
"Somehow, I'm not reassured…" Toris mumbled.
"Well, I've also got my big, strong boyfriend to protect me, right?" Feliks asked, kneeling beside the bed so he could look up at Toris. Toris stared back, startled. He didn't… he didn't think he'd ever heard Feliks call him his "boyfriend".
"I – oh, god, Feliks – I can try but I – I'm not –"
"Toris? Calm down." Feliks muttered, putting his palms on Toris' knees. "It's a joke – seriously, boy, you need to learn to take a joke. Now listen – I know this is a lot of shit I just dumped on your plate, but you're gonna let me worry about it and you are gonna stand around and look pretty."
Toris shook his head. "I'm your boyfriend. The 'not worrying' thing isn't gonna cut it."
"Then how about this?" Feliks continued. "Veneziano's my cousin, and that big meathead that's always with him? They're dating. Practically married. So if Vene says 'sic em' anyone who bothers me will have Ludwig to deal with. Does that reassure you?"
It didn't, but Toris just nodded and tried to trust Feliks. It was a testament to how far gone he was that the trusting part came altogether too easily.
And then Feliks sat back on his heels all of a sudden, looking slightly panicked. "Oh, shit, are you all worried because everyone will know that you're dating a dude? I didn't even think about that – I should have thought of that – geez, Liet, I didn't even ask – because they'll think you're gay and –"
Feliks stopped. He stared up at Toris from his knees and Toris shivered at the panic and care in his face.
Toris took a deep, shuddering breath.
"Doesn't matter what I want," he finally said. "It's up to you. So I'm… I'm gonna stand beside my boyfriend, okay?"
It was that answering smile and that bubbling happiness that Toris had fallen in love with it, anyhow, wasn't it?
Of course, nothing in the world could keep Toris from worrying about tech rehearsal the next day until he was sick. It was all up to him. All. Up. To. Him. And now he had Feliks to worry about, too.
He had gotten over this – mostly – but every once in a while, Toris couldn't stop his brain from whirling every worst-case-scenario possible and he couldn't shut it off.
Eduard wasn't home – it was midnight, but that meant very little, really; Eduard never kept hours that were anything close to regular. Toris was very much alone and had nothing to stop his brain from going going going going –
"…walk, walk, passion, baby, work it, I'm a free bitch, baby…"
Toris jolted up in bed, sloughing off the pillows that he'd heaped over his head in a hope to silence the voices in his mind. His phone was ringing, the horrific sound-byte programmed by Eduard for Feliks, one that he simply couldn't figure out how to get off his phone.
Right now, rather than irk him, the sound terrified him, startling him from a spiral that consisted mostly of his own panicked thoughts. In a brief flash of good sense, he realized he should not answer and let Feliks in on his personal consternation. The sense was quickly wiped away by sheer overwhelming need to talk to someone.
"H-hello?" Toris mumbled into the phone, clutching it to the side of his head as he hid under the blankets.
"Liet, good, you're still awake," Feliks said cheerfully, sounding relieved. Toris didn't point out that the call may very well have woken him, instead of having been up already. It didn't really matter.
"S-something wrong?" Toris asked, trying to keep his voice under control. Feliks was his biggest worry – what would people say tomorrow, what would they think? Would he really be safe? Could Toris keep him safe?
"Nah. I was just bored and I totally can't sleep."
That wasn't true. Toris could tell. Feliks was worried, too.
Instead of that revelation stressing Toris out even more, it made him strangely calm. He couldn't be strong for himself, maybe, but he could be strong for Feliks. He thought.
"Anyway, I was in class today and the funniest thing happened –" Feliks said, launching into a story that seemed to be about marshmallow fluff and some poor kid in his sociology class. It didn't matter – what mattered was that Feliks stayed on the phone with him as their talk got steadily slower and more garbled and finally, finally, Toris dropped off to sleep, the phone clutched in his hands and his breathing more easy than it had been all night.
"Liet…? Aw, screw you, you fell asleep, didn't you?"
The next afternoon, Toris sat in a captain's chair between Vash and Ludwig, watching switches blink and computer monitors flash and waiting waiting waiting for Feliks to show up.
"Go ahead without me," he'd said. "Get your tech boys set up and stuff."
Toris now stared at Vash, working the sound board, and Ludwig, quietly fitzing with lights, and knew they needed exactly no help "setting up". So Toris was left to stew in silence as he waited for something to happen.
Elizaveta was what happened, eventually. "Alright, cast, get your butts up on the stage and just face me, and let me inform you exactly what's gonna happen today."
Reluctant, already-bored actors shuffled out into the lights; Elizaveta began to talk even before they all got out on stage. Toris searched the cast frantically for a glimpse of Feliks.
"You will be obedient and quiet and suffer through this shit like the good little soldiers that you are, and if you do, I will reward you by not making you stay for six or seven hours –"
Elizaveta's rant was unceremoniously cut off by – and here, no one was surprised – an exclamation from Gilbert.
Elizaveta leveled a dangerous glare at him. "Did you just interrupt me?" she demanded coldly.
For once, though, Gilbert was uncowed. He was, instead, staring at the actor who had just walked on stage.
Yeah, actor. Not actress.
Feliks sashayed onto the stage like he always did, and it somehow didn't clash with his appearance – which was decidedly manly, Toris did admit. He was resplendent in tight slacks and a button-down of eye-smarting teal, artfully unbuttoned to expose enough chest to prove there was no actual cleavage under there. His hair was pulled back into a low ponytail, and he hadn't put on any makeup. He stood in the middle of the stage and faced the rest of the cast as if he were challenging them.
"Hey, Gil," he said with a wink.
"Felicia?" he demanded.
"Feliks," the man in question said casually. Toris could see the tension in his shoulders, anyway.
"Feliks?" Gilbert screeched. The rest of the room was silent. "You're a dude?"
That was when Elizaveta finally managed to sneak behind him with her director's notebook and clocked him in the back of the head.
"Yes, he's a dude, didn't you know that?" she ignored his protests, glaring at the rest of the cast. "Can we get back to business now?"
And so Feliks was left standing in the middle of the stage, looking dumbstruck and more than a little put out as Elizaveta began to speak again.
"Anyway! I want everyone from the palace scene in costume and on stage in half an hour –"
"You knew I was a guy?" Feliks interrupted. "Wait, like, since when?"
Elizaveta snorted. "Since always. I mean, you're super cute but it was kind of obvious."
Alfred nodded. "Yeah, kinda was."
Feliks swung his focus to Alfred. "You knew, too?"
Alfred, Arthur, and Francis, knotted in a group as always, nodded with varying degrees of interest.
Feliks' gaze swung helplessly over the whole cast, most of whom continued to look bored and vastly unscandalized.
"Why did no one tell me?" Feliks finally demanded, crossing his arms and pouting.
"Well, it's not really a big deal, right?" Feliciano piped up. "You are who you are, right?"
"Because I wanted to see how much you'd make out with your boyfriend if you thought no one cared," Elizaveta volunteered at the same time.
And so Feliks came out to his cast, was whacked in the back of the head with a binder for interrupting Elizaveta again, and ended the four-hour practice sincerely disgruntled.
"So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends."
Antonio's smooth voice rang in Toris' ears as he called for the last spotlight cue and the curtain call music. He sighed in relief and sank happily back into his chair, hearing someone come up behind him and slip a hand into his.
It was Feliks, who had let himself into the tech box without so much as a by-your-leave. Vash and Ludwig glared at him, but he ignored them and plopped down on Toris' lap.
"That was so not fun," he complained. "I can't believe everyone knew."
Toris laughed a little breathlessly. He, for one, was pleased that no more drama had occurred. The drama kids… didn't need any extra.
"And the worst part is I have to walk home!" Feliks continued. "I figured I'd walk here to get out some of the nervous energy and, you know, keep up the illusion by leaving the hot pink bike elsewhere. That was stupid."
Feliks continued to pout as Toris slid him off his lap, standing up and sticking his things into his bag.
"I'll get you home," Toris promised, kissing Feliks' wrinkled nose and feeling carefree.
"How?" Feliks demanded.
Feliks rode back to his apartment on Toris' handlebars.