"Tammy?" Felix kept his voice low. He didn't reallywant to wake her-he was only testing.
No response from the Sargent. She lay sleeping, burrowed under the soft blankets.
Felix tried to swallow his guilt. Sneaking around his own wife! He was a cad. He was a low-down snake. He was...
He was tired of craning his neck every time he wanted a glimpse of her beautiful face.
He slipped from the bed, knowing the movement wouldn't wake here. When Tammy was reallyout nothing short of a Cy-bug woke her. She'd explained it as soldier mentality being able to sleep deeply when you knew you were safe.
Felix had nodded and tried to look like he got it. His programming didn't exactly allow for him to get it, he suspected. Too violent.
Well, that wasn't his problem right now. Tammy was sleeping soundly, and he had bigger fish to fry.
He slipped out of his jammies and into his working clothes. It was always night in his game, and they didn't technicallyhave to sleep, but it was a comfort to go offline for a while every night or so. They almost never stayed at her bunker. His penthouse suite was much more relaxing, not to mention safe. And Homey. And not covered in the mounted heads of Cybugs and battle plans.
Tammy snored softly as he tiptoed from the room, and a smile crossed his face.
'I am the luckiest guy in the whole arcade.'
And if he could pull this off, he'd be the luckiest guy in the whole of gamedom.
"You want to what?" Ralph grinned at his friend. "You'd better repeat that, Felix. I think I've got a chunk of brick in my ears."
"Brother, you don't know what it's like!" Felix sipped his root-beer gloomily. Tappers was busy and nobody paid attention to the duo. This was a professional top-secret operation as far as Felix was concerned.
"I don't know what having a comically mismatched partner is like?" Ralph asked skeptically. "That's my life. You, Vanellope, all the Nicelanders-"
"Yes, but you're...you're..."
"You're...bigger." Felix's face flamed, and it had nothing to do with the honeyglow. He hated pointing out how Ralph was different. It just reminded him of the last thirty years of...well, not meanness (not on his part, anyway) but indifference.
He wondered if that might be worse.
"So what? I'm nine feet tall, Felix. I'm used to it by now." Ralph shrugged and drained his beer. "You should be too. It's not like you never stepped outside before."
"Yes, but never to be withanyone. Ralph, she's just so gosh-darn..." He struggled to find the words. "...statuesq."
"Nice. You been hitting the educational games?" Ralph elbowed him gently.
Felix groaned and dropped his head to the bar. "No. Ralph, please, I don't have anyone else to talk to!"
"What about your wife?"
"She thinks I'm cute." Felix shook his head. "I'm not supposed to be cute. I'm her husband! I'm supposed to be manly!"
"You're a construction worker. That's as manly as it gets."
Felix said nothing, and didn't lift his head.
Ralph sighed. "Felix, you can't change your programming. It took me thirty years to learn that lesson, and I nearly got two games unplugged before it stuck."
Felix muttered something that sounded suspiciously like 'Turbo'.
"I'm gonna pretend I didn't hear that." Ralph growled. "You of all people should understand how Tur-he was the worst kind of program. That son of a toothless hacker tried to kill Vanellope. You wanna be like that?"
"No buts! Mess with the program, it's only gonna make everyone miserable. And possibly dead."
Felix looked up, and Ralph was shocked at how miserable his face was. "But my program's not good enough!"
"Good enough for what? You've already married her!" Ralph said incrediously. He laid a hand over Felix's shoulders. "Buddy, she loves you. You're good enough."
"But…I want to be better for her."
Ralph sighed. "You have got it bad."
"Are you gonna help me, or not?"
"I am helping you." Ralph insisted. "I am talking you out of being nuts. Think about it like this: If your sprite was suddenly taller, don't you think the gamers would notice? We almost got unplugged not that long ago. We're on probation, pal."
"So that's it. I'm doomed to be a three foot nuthin'."
"Hey, there are worse things." Ralph got off the barstool. "C'mon. I think it's time we got you home to the little lady."
"If she hears you callin' her that, she'll—"
"I'll what, Fix-It?" Tammy barked, and Felix jumped off his stool with a yelp.
"Umm, I'm gonna..." Ralph tried to think of an excuse, and just bolted. He didn't want to be around for this.
"Tammy! I didn't want to wake you." Felix said guiltily.
"I know that." She rolled her eyes. "C'mon. Let's get outta this dive."
He floowed her, shoulders drooping. Maybe she hadn't heard. Maybe she was just worried because he'd vanished.
Maybe she wasn't about to break his heart into a billion itty-bitty pieces.
"What's all this nonsense about you being too short for me?" She barked as they boarded the tram. She leaned back againts one car, he long legs haning over the others lazily.
"Um…It's n-nuthin'." He always stammered when he lied.
"Uh-huh. If you're gonna feed me bull-pucky, at least have the decency to give me an appatizer first." Tammy sneered and turned her head. "Give it to me strait, or I'm going home."
"We…are going home."
"My home, Fix-It."
He was really in trouble now. She only talked like that when she was extra peeved.
"Theothernightyouwereholdingm eandyousaidIwasCUTEandyouHAT Ecute!" The words spilled out so fast it sounded like it was glitching.
"The anger dropped off Tammy's face. "What?"
"The other night, when we were…together." His face flamed. Such language in front of a lady! She was rubbing off on him for sure. "Afterwards, we were about to go to sleep, and you said I was cute. I know you hate cute, Tammy. Hate it worse 'n those Cybugs, sometimes."
"You think I think you're cute because you're smaller than me?"
"Yes ma'ma. So, I…I went to talk to Ralph about possibly changing my code to make me a little bigger." He kept his eyes locked on the floor of the tram.
"You stupid idiot."
The words were spoken so soft and tenderly, he looked up, confused. Tammy was leaning down to him, her face nearly touching his.
"That is not why I think you're cute."
"No. You are cute because you live in a world where your biggest problem is solved with a magic hammer. You're cute because you still call me ma'am when you're trying to explain yourself. You're cute because you can't even talk about s—"
"Okay, okay." She smiled. "Relations with your own wife. You are cute, pal. It's not how big you are, it's the whole package."
"But…you hate cute."
"Yep, usually." She leaned back. "But I love you. And that includes the cute. And even though it annoys the tiger-blood outta me sometimes, I wouldn't change it for the world."
Felix smiled. "I am an idiot, aren't I?"
"Just as sure as you are short. Now let's go home."
A/N Another classic case of 'it got in my head and wouldn't leave'. BTW, I think Felix and Tammy ARE a super couple.