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Feel Good? Feel Bad? We'll Definitely Feel Something

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<Marco? Where have you been all day? Prince Jake hasn’t heard from you.> Ax shifted his hooves against the soft ground, nervous energy being subtly released upon seeing his human friend delicately twisting out from the foliage surrounding their scoop. <I admit to feeling some concern myself over your disappearance.>

Marco titled his head down, and his short curls just barely brushed his right shoulder. Ax found himself keeping one stalk eye trained on the human’s soft hair as he began to speak.

“Worried over little old me, Ax-baby?”

His eyes widened frighteningly, and blood colored his cheeks red. Was Marco suffering from a human sickness? Had he simply not contacted them because he was resting?

All of these things things Ax wanted to say, but instead-

<I am not an infant, Marco?> Ax mimicked his friend’s body language to the best of his own anatomy, <But I have heard some of the men on the young and restless refer to their partners that way? It seems a strange endearment to give to one’s adult companion.>

“Adult companion-!” Marco seemed to choke out on his way over to the couch and landing harshly on his back.

<Are you ill? Should I call Prince Jake back? I‘m sure he’s still in my range?>

“No, no! It’s good, I’m fine!”

<If you’re ‘fine,’ why didn’t you come see me… See Prince Jake, I mean?>

Marco looked Ax up and down; from his eye-stalks, to his front hooves, somehow avoiding looking his directly into his eyes, and absently plucked at the sleeves of his over-sized garment. “Do you know what this is called, Ax?”

He gestured down his short frame, currently laid out all over the dirty upholstery, so Ax finally took more than a cursory glance at it than the first initial look.

Ax was confused, but he did so anyway, and answered confidently, <It’s a tuxedo. You wore one to last year’s school dance.>

“Yep!”

<… Is there another dance today? Were you getting ready?> Why hadn’t anyone told Ax about this? Is that where Tobias had flown off to an hour ago?

Before he could start to investigate what that sour sensation in his stomach was Marco leaped from the couch, in a move so agile that it still shocked him humans could find the balance to do that, and withdrew a plastic container from the jacket’s hidden pocket.

“Now, do you know what this is?”

Inside the see-through box was an arrangement of orange earth flowers tied together with what appeared to be peacock feathers and a thin white piece of fabric. Actually, they looked to match the single flower pinned to Marco’s suit. <Roses.>

Marco bit his lip and brushed a lock of brown hair out of his eyes, “Roses for you.”

Ax blinked one set of his eyes, and stood straighter, unconsciously wanting to appear strong. This all seemed very familiar. 

<Are you courting me, Marco?>

The blood filled out Marco’s cheeks once more, and Ax remembered the other reason humans flush. He was blushing. “Yeah… Yeah I am, Ax.”

Ax shuffled forward, to lean closer to his small friend, and he felt himself blush as well. <And- and I remember from your television that presenting flowers means-.>

“Means I’m asking’ you out on a date. For our own dance.”

Suddenly, in the branches above their camp site, small lights turned on and Ax could hear their radio being tuned just out of sight. Faint giggling was just barely perceived over the static.

“Thanks Cassie!” Marco called without turning his head.

“I helped too, you tiny sap!” Ax heard Rachel’s voice from somewhere behind him.

Marco almost opened his mouth to retort, but Ax grabbed ahold of his hands with one to hold them gently to his chest, while the other opened the container. <How do I accept?>

The human grinned so wide, but it was more than fine; Ax found Marco’s expressions to be the most fascinating. Pretty even.

Once Marco finished fastening the corsage (as he called it) to Ax’s thin wrist, the radio finally tuned in to a clear station. Earth singing still left something to be desired for Ax, but the girl’s had his best interest in mind. Soft piano filed the night air.

<This is much better than last year.>

“Because of the music?” Marco teased.

<Because I get to sway with you.>

Chapter Text

‘Thanks King Friday, I knew if we worked together, we could save the princess!’ Marco floated along a red river, and the little puppet sailed by in a tiny boat. His small, cloth hands reached for his face, but the pressure was all wrong. Too strong and smooth to be-.

‘Marco. There is no princess.’

He pulled back from King Friday, who was growing larger, waves suddenly violent in the movement, ‘What?’

‘Marco, please wake up.’ 

Marco sunk down beneath the water, still breathing evenly, ‘You don’t sound like you.’

The giant puppet tilted his adorable felted head, than slowly bent closer; his face turning blue!

<Marco.>

Ax was leaning above him with both arm’s braced around his head.

Marco jolted up in his cot and slammed their foreheads together.

<OW!>

“AAH!”

<Why did you do that?>

Why’re you awake?!

Ax stumbled away cupping his face; Marco noticed his dad roll away from the noise in his own bed. He motioned with a nod to the mouth of the cave, ignoring the pain from the forming bruise.

“Why the early wake up call? We don’t eat worms.”

<What?> Ax’s eye-stalks swiveled downward, <Wait, you don’t?>

Marco scratched at the hair on his stomach, anticipating his irritation to build, but felt nothing but fondness. His friend’s fur was flattened down the wrong way on his hind-quarters, and there were leaves sticking to his chest. He wanted to brush them off.

“Was there an emergency?” Marco shoved his hand’s into his sweats pockets. “Did your vcr break?”

<I wanted to show you the stars.>

Marco blinked owlishly, “They’re right behind us.”

Ax … sort of deflated. Hoofs pawed at the ground and dusted around the gravel. <I’m sorry for waking you up.>

Marco stayed rooted to the spot for a few seconds, (halfway paranoid Tobias was judging him from some nearby tree branch), but ran to catch the alien from leaving only when his trotting started to fade from his hearing,

“HEY! Bluebeard!”

Ax’s torso twisted around, face eager and body language stiff with anticipation. “You gotta keep me warm if we’re going outside.”

Marco almost barreled into the andalite, taking both of his arms to wrap them over his shoulders and across his chest to lead them awkwardly out into the early morning mist.

“Show me the stars, spaceboy!”

Show him the duct-tape instead!” Peter called from his cot.

Chapter Text

“You’re so much better than Private Ryan.”

“Wha- who?”

Cassie pressed her lips in, looking to be fighting back a smirk, and Jake gasped out, “I mean- Saving Private Ryan! The, uh, movie I just ditched the guys at.”

“Oh,” Cassie released her beautific smile, “I was almost prepared to fight this faceless boy to defend your honour.”

Jake giggled, entirely too visually smitten, and eskimo-kissed her playfully. A nearby elderly couple cooed from a park bench, and Cassie mimicked them enthusiastically, just to make her boyfriend blush redder.

Chapter Text

CRACK!

Sooo, you’ve been sitting outside for how long?”

SNAP!

“About, uhm, 5 hours.” Tobias stretched out his left arm across his torso.

POP!

Rachel winced at the uncomfortable looking contortions her boyfriend was putting himself through.

“Maybe next time, you tell a nurse where you’re spending your afternoon?” she cracked her fingers after watching him do so for the third time.

Tobias sheepishly picked at the sleeve of his over-sized sweater (she had to remember to find out his new size before Christmas), darkened fingertips smearing color over the fabric. “I think I’ve finally gotten out of my rut though.”

“That’s fantastic! Can I see?” Rachel leaned forward, but didn’t reach for the portfolio

With a pleased little smile, Tobias reached down to the case handles leaning against his wheelchair, but flinched hard when he turned his neck. Rachel frowned.

“How about we take a look at this in your room, where you can lie down?” she stood gracefully and dusted her skirt, where of course no dust clung. 

“Laying down doesn’t help all that much,” he hefted the portfolio onto his pajama-clad pants, “And I’m really not looking forward to P.T. tomorrow.”

Rachel pursed her lips and looked up to the sky, pink tinging the tips of her ears, “Do you… I mean… I could give you a massage?”

Tobias’ hand slipped from adjusting the wheel break, “Wha- what?”

“I mean, I am training to be a physical therapist, and-”

“And?”

Her blue eyes darted to him, than back to the clouds. “I just wanna help my boyfriend. Is that so hard to believe?”

Rachel’s face was beet red now, easily matching Tobias. A sunny smile broke out across his face. “Of course not.”

Chapter Text

<I have already lost one brother. I will not lose another!> Ax all but collapsed to the forest floor, damning his ridiculous wolf body while simultaneously de-morphing. <Wake UP Tobias!>

<I’m sorry Ax, but we don’t have time for this! You have to pick him up- we need to leave!> Jake’s voice commanded no argument.

Ax stumbled forward as quickly as possible as his half-formed hooves would allow, cradling his Tobias's small and broken avian body to his chest. <Tobias, please wake up. Morph. MORPH!>

<He’s losing too much blood!> Cassie started running along his left flank, gold eyes flashing green from the moon’s light.

<How much more longer before we reach the valley?> I could not concentrate on our surroundings, just the upcoming trees and all of the blood.

So much blood for such a tiny body.

So red.

<Ax?>

Horrifying.

<Ax?!>

why won’t it stop?

<AX!>

He collided face first into a low hanging branch-

but he did not let go of Tobias.

They crashed dramatically onto the roots of the tree, Ax’s legs scraping on the bark as he tried to maneuver his shorm away from the ground, but still jolted from the impact against his stomach.

<Ah!>

<Tobias?!> All of Ax’s eyes trained onto the hawk. The crash must have woken him up. <You are grievously injured-please de-morph immediately!>

<I… I can’t feel my… > he sounded so faint.

<DE-MORPH NOW.>

Chapter Text

“I don’t know about this Rach… “ Cassie inspected the back of her head again as her friend put the final hair clip in. 

“Trust me Cassie, I would never steer you wrong, and your un-braided hair looks beautiful! Any hairstyle you have, actually, is stellar.”

Cassie blushed, still unable to accept her friend’s sincere compliments. She doesn’t often dress up, but when she does, Rachel is always there reassure her in her choices. Rachel may come off domineering at first, but she’s never forced Cassie into anything she didn’t like. The very fact that Cassie will show interest is what initially spurred her on in her mission to take Cassie on shopping “adventures.”

Tap! Tap, tap, tap.

“What was that?” the both of them rose off the bed, looking to the window. Rachel opened the window, “Tobias?”

<Guess again.>

“Jake!” Cassie stepped lightly to the window and swept back the curtains, not chancing talons catching on the soft fabric. “What’s wrong?”

<Uhm, nothing really, I just, uhm…> his bird head dipped down to her bare feet.

“You just wanted to spend some quality time with Cassie.” Rachel smirked, flicking her hair as she headed to the bathroom, “Well, too bad. Tonight is girls night, and us girls are going out!” 

Once she shut the door, Cassie sat back down but noticed Jake was shifting from clawed foot to clawed foot. “Did you really wanna hang out tonight?”

<Yes.> His bird eyes swiftly swept over her form. <I hope you and Rachel have a fun time.>

“Wait a minute. Are you jealous-?”

<No.>

Cassie smiled. “Really now? Than, I guess I should hang out with Rachel again next weekend?”

<You’re, uh, you’re free next weekend?>

“Yes.”

<… Would you like to go see a movie next weekend?>

Cassie’s smile grew infinitesimally

Chapter Text

Tobias was crying.

That was really weird.

It was also very, very distressing.

“Hey, hey, hey,” Marco rushed forward and pulled the smaller boy into his house.

Man. Tobias was a man. Marco found it harder and harder to think of Tobias as such given the fact his human morph is permanently a 13 year old.

“What’s going on, Tobias? What happened? Are you okay?” Now he was talking too fast, probably being more annoying than helpful. Deciding not to talk anymore would probably be smarter. They made their way through the hallway, and than up to his room where Marco moved his rag-doll friend to sit on the bed.

Everything got really quiet, aside from the broken sobs and shuddering gasps wracking Tobias’ slim frame, and Marco was still standing there. Like a moron.

Oh yeah, let’s not forget they haven’t talked for about a year.

How smoothly this reunion was going already.

Without much more thought given to the already awkward situation, Marco climbed onto the bed behind bird-boy and hugged him tight around the waist, tucking him under chin.

Several minutes passed by before Tobias settled down some, but Marco held him tighter the quieter he became.

“I can’t change back.

Chapter Text

<I can’t tell you how grateful I am.>

Cassie looked up into the rafters to see Tobias flitting from one to the other, causing Loren to glance up with a smile of her own. His mother didn’t hear what he said, so she went back feeding the baby opossums. Cassie caught on quick and went outside so they could speak privately.

“She’s a good person. Your mom deserves a better chance at life now that everything’s calmed down a bit.”

Tobias ruffled his wings and paced back and forth on the tree branch. A very human movement for such a large bird. “Tobias?”

<It’s still kinda weird to call her that. Sometimes it feels the most comfortable thing to say in my head, but when I try to call her that, I just stutter and stop.> He flaps down to her shoulder. <She notices too, but doesn’t say anything. I think it hurts her on some level, but uhm… not enough. At least, not for me. Is that bad?>

“That you can’t bring yourself to call Loren ‘mom,’ or that it doesn’t hurt her as much as you want?” Silence.

Ding, ding, ding.

“It’s alright for you to want Loren to want to have a stronger bond with you. With your mother.” Cassie trailed a finger down one of his talons. “Did that make sense?”

Tobias curled his head to nuzzle her ear affectionately, <More sense than I could ever make of the mess in my head.>

Chapter Text

He was such a freakin' sucker.

“C'mon, Tobias, it doesn’t look that bad!” Jake bit his lip, attempting to cover an obnoxious smile behind his pillow. “They’re just a little bit bigger than-”

“A little?” Tobias waved his arms, the rolled up sleeves flopping down over his hands immediately, as if some parody of his other form's wings. “I’m an adult, stuck in a teenagers’ body, who doesn’t even fit in the smallest dress shirt available!”

Jake, with his stupidly attractive seventeen year-old face, stood up and rested his big hands onto the nothlit’s narrow shoulders. Tobias almost pouted, but realized he would like even more childish if he did.

Ugh.

“I mean, fuck me, I’ll look like your kid brother on stage.”

“Listen to me. If attending this summit in your human form bothers you that much, you can go as a red-tail.”

Tobias blinked rapidly, honestly wondering why that hadn’t occurred to him sooner, “Really?”

“Totally! In fact, it might even help us convince some of those weird sticklers still unconvinced about our morphing capabilities.” Jake started searching the floor for Tobias's bike shirt. “Plus, you could dive bomb the creepy lieutenant that keeps hounding Ax before we make our official entrance.”