He's everything I could have asked for.
Even now, years after our meeting of chance in Hero's Duty, he still seems to live to make me happy. Not one day has gone by without him dropping in, dodging hordes of radioactive, oozing cy-bugs just to hand me one of those pies from his game. The desserts themselves aren't the greatest-and they start to lose their flavor after a while-but the grinning person handing them to me certainly is. The guy is never down, always smiling and humming a tune to himself while he twirls that magic hammer of his around like a little majorette. Anyone else would look ridiculous, but some way, somehow, he makes everything adorable. He's a nice breather from my own programmed personality, and I guess that's why we work so well together.
But I can't help to notice the way he stares at his own gaming console from the HD screen in Hero's Duty. His unsettling staring has only gotten worse overtime. He reverts back to his 8-bit movement, freezing to take in the glowing screen of Fix It Felix Jr. The look is always long and concentrated, and above all...sad. Moments later, unbeknownst to my awareness, he's chipper again, ready to fight alongside me and please me as much as he can.
"Is it alright if I spend the night?"
Felix's voice cracked now as he kissed my neck, his southern twang always faltering when we got like this. Occasions like now usually happened when Fix It offered to "escort you back, ma'am!" from a gathering with friends or after hanging out at those Nicelanders' apartments. It's always funny how 'walking me to my game' turns into this: our hands roaming in my outpost's bed, him on top of me and both of us, red faced, glancing nervously at the door for any intruders.
In the midst of his affections, my mind had wandered far from where we laid, past Hero's Duty and right in front of the dusty old Fix It Felix Jr. console. The majority of the paint had withered away over the years, making the over exaggerated expressions of both Felix and Ralph on the side of the game seem less...lifelike.
'Yes' I heard myself say, rather desperately, as my foggy mind remained transfixed on his home's condition. No way did I want him to prance on out of here, but I wasn't exactly in the right mood for this sort of thing, either. Everyday I felt worse about how he stared at his game, and he only grew more skeptical.
"What's wrong, Tammy?"
My consciousness snapped back to reality, where Felix had ceased his kissing and his blushing. He just sat on me now, awkwardly looking down onto my puzzled face.
I hadn't realized that I had shown any signs of discontent. "What?"
Felix moved off of my stomach and settled by my side in the bed. "You just looked kind of...lost, that's all," he admitted. "You always seem to like it when I'm here, but today you're different. Are you okay?"
"Where did you get that sort of nonsense, soldier?"
He flinched at my words. Sometimes I would still revert back to my programming, and that scared the bejeebes out of him. My words were intentional, though, and it was they always stopped him dead.
"I-I don't know," he said. "You keep staring off into space like something's bothering you. I...I know that look."
I tried at a halfhearted glare. "What look?"
His expression made me regret saying anything. The pint sized guy hurt so easily, and I often forgot that. I cursed myself for being so cold all the time; why was I programmed this way to begin with? He looked like he was going to cry and I couldn't handle seeing such a sight.
"F-Felix, Felix no! Forget what I just said, I'm the cretin," I quickly backtracked, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. I pulled him close once more, hopefully reassuring him that I was an idiot.
"You're not a cretin," he told me despite everything.
He was unarguably the only living, breathing soul who could make me feel incredible and horrible at the same time. Without a word, I ran my fingers through his hair, gently pushing his head down to rest in the crook of my neck. He didn't protest. I wanted to say something with all of my being, but I didn't know what to say. I was a kick ass space marine, and unfortunately it took an enormous amount of energy to talk about anything that wasn't about headless, short-circuiting cy bugs or when the next first person shooter would come around.
And that was just it.
Neither of us knew when someone would play our games again.
"I want to know what you're thinking," he murmured into my skin. "I didn't marry you for nothing."
My heart-if I had one-stung as he spoke to me. Whether I was comfortable with it or not, Felix knew everything about me. He knew when I was ecstatic about a particularly skillful player, when I was enraged about my team of pathetic babies, and...and when I was depressed about the arcade's lack of interest.
"Felix," I started, my throat dry. It was like my mouth was trying to seal itself before I said anything too far fetched.
He lifted his head, looking me straight in the eye. I couldn't handle those eyes, they held too much for their own good. He was waiting for an answer, and I wondered if I could even give him one without bawling like a child.
"Felix, you...you stare at your Fix It Felix Jr. game like it's going to devour your head. It really freaks me out."
There, I said it.
Much to my dismay, his gigantic blue eyes only grew bigger, and they started brimming with tears before I could put a stop to the whole mess.
"Okay, no, no! Don't you dare cry on me! Chin up!" I pressed my forehead to his, and in some strange state of desperation I somehow thought that would end it all. Instead, his miniature body started to heave in a silent wail. "God, no."
"I-I'm s-sorry," he squeaked, only curling into a tight ball at the curve of my waist. He started talking to the sheets rather than me. "I...It's..."
"Please talk to me." I didn't want to sit up or move at all. I was afraid that if I did, it would only disturb his odd little tantrum and only make matters worse.
When he didn't reply, I realized that it really had been bothering him just as much as it had been eating away at me.
"Felix, I know," I decided to say. My voice was starting to waver. I squeezed my eyes shut. No, I wouldn't cry, too. "I know what you're feeling."
"D-Don't worry about me," Felix said through the blankets.
I sighed in frustration. "Fix It, there's snot flying out of your nose and you're in the fetal position. I think I'm inclined to care."
Felix shifted in the cocoon he had made. "I'm just a worry wort by nature, you know. There's no reason for your concern."
"I think there's a whole barrel full of reason to be concerned," I returned, finally gaining the courage to sit up on the mattress. "I'm afraid, too, Felix."
He finally showed me his face, and it looked awful. In reality, the guy was an ugly crier, but he never lost his cute. The stare he gave me was curious. Wordlessly, he pulled the sheet's fabric closer to his chin.
He was ashamed of how he felt, and that made me angry.
"We're getting old, aren't we?" was the only thing he said.
I tried not to let his question affect me too much. "We're not. The world is."
Felix knew I was right. Through misty eyes, he glanced out the room's window and into the screen beyond where his game console sat in dust. Even Hero's Duty was starting to lose its once dazzling shine. Its HD graphics weren't so HD anymore, and there were greater games that had came along over the years. Both of our games had taken a backseat to make room for more modern technology.
"That's the thing about being who we are," I told him, realizing this myself for the first time. "We're alive, but at the same time, we don't change. Not really. But the world out there does, and it doesn't even know it."
Felix was shaking. I could feel it. "Tamora...I-I just don't want to lose you. I don't want to lose anyone! We've seen other people from great games get unplugged. They're not always Q-Bert, who found a home in another game just fine and dandy. Not only that, they don't always make it. We've all seen it happen in the past. W...what if we die?"
His suggestion stabbed me. Hard. All I had been thinking about was getting unplugged and being forced to camp out in Game Central Station for the rest of eternity, but this was a whole new possibility. Death wasn't meant for characters of any kind, but...it was real. It could happen, and I hadn't even considered it.
"Don't," I basically hissed. My chest ached at the mere thought. "Don't say that."
"My game is almost 50 years old," he whispered. "You...I can't even believe that Hero's Duty has been here close to 20. What if they don't even get unplugged, what if there's a technical problem and the consoles just...stop working? Forever?"
"Just stop!" I took hold of his wrists, not afraid to show him my welling tears anymore. I put my face close to his. "Just...just stop. Please."
There was a tremendous silence as I began to cry. I didn't want to, especially in front of him, but the reality of our existence was too much. He was crying, too, and he felt around for his magic hammer to 'fix my tears', but it was no where around.
"I-I can't fix this," Felix knew.
"At times like these, it would be nice to be a storybook character or something," I started talking nonsense. "Those guys probably don't have anything to worry about. They're guaranteed to live forever."
"Yes...but they depend on the outside world just as much as we do," Felix pointed out. "We exist to entertain. If no one's interested, then what?"
He was right. At times, it seemed like we lived all on our own, but then you'd look out and see the world beyond a screen. We were limited despite some of the powers we were programmed with. We could only go so many places, and we were only needed for so long. But what happened when we were no longer wanted?
"I don't know, Felix," I said the truth. My hands loosened on his wrists and I laced my fingers in his instead. I stared at the shapes we made. Our hands shook as one. No matter our programming, we were fragile, and we needed a purpose. Most importantly...we needed each other.
"No matter what happens..." Felix laid back once more, slinging an arm around my stomach. He pecked a kiss on my cheek. "No matter when, and no matter how bad, I'm going to stick with you."
Even though his words changed nothing, they made me feel safe, as if...just maybe, we were going to be okay in the future. Perhaps the age of our games meant nothing, and if we were unplugged, we went on to a better place. Just maybe.
"I'm sorry I've been worrying you so much," he apologized. "It's just been hard, you know?"
"It's fine." I hugged him back, intending to stay that way for the remainder of the night. Hopefully forever. "We're fine."