Sylvain could not comprehend at all what Felix was saying. Or why he was acting so weird. He was blushing and not drinking his tea, and his eyes were flicking from Sylvain’s to the tray of Sylvain’s favorite pastries he had bought and back again. The past couple months, he’d been slacking in his sword training. Whenever he sparred with Sylvain, he let Sylvain win, and he’d act even weirder when Sylvain had him pinned to the ground.
Although, when Sylvain witnessed him sparring with anyone else, Felix was merciless as usual, so maybe Sylvain just had...a disarming aura about him. He liked that idea.
Felix was seeking him out more, smirking at his jokes more, smiling more...something was indeed off about him. And Sylvain, for the life of him, couldn’t tell what it was.
“...Sorry, what?” he mumbled through a mouthful of pastry, stupidly.
Felix scoffed, his face redding a little more, and he leaned back in his chair and folded his arms tightly over his chest.
“I said I like you,” he repeated, but his words had a slight vulnerability to them, as if he was a turtle peeping out of its shell. Sylvain cocked his head, swallowing as he crossed a leg over the other under the table they were drinking tea at in the garden.
“Wait, what do you mean by that? Like—as in, you don’t hate me?” Sylvain beamed proudly. “That’s an accomplishment.”
“No, you dimwit,” Felix snapped, and then he flinched and shook his head. “No, no, sorry. No, Sylvain. You know I don’t hate you.”
Sylvain set an elbow down on the table, resting his chin on his palm as he tipped his head even more until it was essentially parallel to the ground.
“Are you sure? It’s hard to tell sometimes!”
Felix stamped a foot, and the table shuddered in reaction, the surface of his untouched, cold tea rippling. “You’re such a—” He closed his eyes again, huffing sharply. “No, no. I just...rrgh! I really didn’t think you’d be this dense!”
Sylvain gasped. “Are you calling me fat?”
“NO!” Felix yelled, and Sylvain saw the swordsman’s gloved fingers digging into his arms so hard they were sure to leave a mark. “I—I love—I don’t even know anymore! You’re so brainless! Oblivious!” His face was very red, and he was trembling. Sylvain reached over the table and rested a sure hand on his friend’s shoulder.
“Felix,” he began innocently, and Felix peeked through narrowed amber eyes at him. “Are you drunk?”
Felix’s eyes widened with something akin to hurt. In a split second, his right hand let go of the left bicep he was squeezing and balled up into a tight fist, and then Sylvain was on the ground, and Felix was storming away.
Sylvain stared blankly at the sky as the clouds spun around his head, and his jaw hurt so horribly from when Felix had punched him. What did he do to upset him? Maybe he was just that drunk that he grew angry at Sylvain’s rightful accusation. Though Felix wasn’t a drinker, at least not by himself.
Maybe he should call after him, say he was sorry. But then again, why would he be? Felix was the one acting weird, after all. Well, that wasn’t his fault, either.
Sylvain sat up, brushing the dust off his pants as he stumbled to his feet in the empty garden. He glanced at the table he had just been sitting at, his chair overturned when he had been knocked right over it. Felix’s cup of tea had been spilled across the stone tiles decorating the ground. Sylvain sighed. Now he had to clean this mess up all by himself.
“I don’t know what you did to upset him, but be sure not to do it again, all right?”
“Okay, won’t...thank, Muela,” Sylvain thanked her clumsily, and Manuela simpered at him before turning with a swish of her ivory robes and disappearing back into the medical ward. His jaw didn’t burn like a billion suns anymore, but now it was numb. He couldn’t speak right, and he wouldn’t for an hour. Good thing it was almost time to turn in for the night; he wouldn’t stand being unable to talk during the day.
Sylvain rounded the corner, remembering sadly he couldn’t whistle anymore when he made a sad “pbbt” sound with his limp tongue, and he wandered silently through the bustling corridors of the monastery to the dining hall. Setting sunlight streamed through high windows, and he stepped with purpose in the long illuminated rectangles they created.
Ingrid was speaking with Dimitri in the busy dining hall, Felix surprisingly absent. He was usually there before Ingrid was, talking carefully with Dimitri. But his usual seat was empty, and Sylvain felt an unexpected pang of sadness as Ingrid waved him over.
“Hello, Sylvain,” Dimitri greeted him as he arrived. Sylvain nodded, sitting down by Ingrid. Dimitri looked him up and down, then raised an eyebrow. “Say, no sly one-liners tonight? Is something the matter?”
“Numb,” Sylvain replied, pointing to his jaw. “Felix punched, Manuela healed.” Ingrid suddenly grabbed Sylvain’s arm and stood abruptly from the bench
“Please excuse us, Your Highness!” Ingrid implored, and she jerked Sylvain to his feet as well. “I have to talk to Sylvain privately.”
Dimitri blinked in surprise, nodding quickly. “Oh, of course.” Ingrid pointed over his head, and he glance behind him. He gasped happily when he saw who was coming over, his blue eye brightening as a certain Duscur peer of his waved a hand from where he towered over a crowd of people. “Dedue!”
Sylvain nearly fell on his face when Ingrid dragged him over the bench and out of the dining hall. He made a noise of protest, and Ingrid shushed him as they hurried through the stream of people entering the hall, flowing around them like fish around a stone.
“I didn’t think you could be that bad, and yet here we are!” Sylvain winced when Ingrid pulled him into an empty study room down the hall and slammed the door shut.
“What? What bad? What—”
“You! Felix!” Ingrid’s green eyes were exasperated and infuriated at the same time. “He said you were clueless, and I believed him, but wow!”
“Wait, wait, wait,” Sylvain slurred through his numb mouth, shaking his head and waving his hands in front of his face. “What? Coo-less?”
Ingrid glared up at him, and Sylvain felt utterly trapped, even though he could probably step right over her if he wanted. She was acting weird, too. Was everyone acting weird and Sylvain only just now caught on?
“Sylvain, you can’t be serious,” Ingrid whispered.
“Um...yeh,” Sylvain admitted confusedly. Ingrid drew a palm over her face, her boot tapping against the floor impatiently as she gathered her words.
“Felix told me everything. The way he liked talking with you more than usual, liked hanging out with you more than usual, the way he thought you were handsome and the way he liked the sound of your laugh? The way he’d let you win during sparring matches just to see you smile and tease him?” Ingrid gestured vaguely with a few circular motions of her hands, as if she were trying to coax a reaction of some sort out of Sylvain. “Hello? Felix is in love with you, Sylvain!”
His jaw wasn’t the only part of him that was numb now.
Sylvain looked over Ingrid’s head and at the blank chalkboard on the opposite wall, drowning in foreign thoughts. Felix was in love with him? That couldn’t be. He was hissy and prickly! Right? Well, he hadn’t been for the past few months. Or since they’d reunited, really.
Felix had been acting nicer, quieter, more patient. He wouldn’t just walk away whenever Sylvain annoyed him, he would look into his eyes and say “shut up” and the words were a bit besides the point but Felix looked into his eyes, his eyes. He hated looking into people’s eyes.
And instead of saying rude things when Sylvain hugged him or otherwise invaded his personal space, he'd gently nudge him off, or even hug him back. And it only just occurred to Sylvain now that he preferred being hugged instead of being nudged not just because he didn’t like getting pushed away, but also because he liked Felix’s hugs.
And after being apart from him for so long...Sylvain noticed that Felix had grown. Not vertically, which was kind of cute since he was still the same size as when Sylvain had left him. But he was stronger and leaner and well-muscled, and he'd certainly matured emotionally, and his hair was longer and looked smoother to touch, and his face was more handsome and pleasant to gaze at, and his hands were dextrous and probably nice to hold….
Something clicked inside him. Sylvain didn't know what it was, but it relieved him to no end. His face grew uncomfortably warm, and he took in a shaky breath.
“Oh,” he rasped. Ingrid nodded slowly, patting his shoulder.
“Seeing it now?” she asked, and Sylvain closed his eyes, nodding some more. “Feel bad?” Sylvain nodded even more. He hated barely being able to talk.
“He’s sulking in his room. Go bring him some dinner and apologize. He’s going to starve himself sitting up there forever,” Ingrid ordered, and Sylvain gave one last, definitive nod and let Ingrid lead him back to the dining hall. His mind was buzzing with so many questions, and so many realizations that were hitting him over and over like punches to the jaw. He really was clueless.
Sylvain knocked on Felix’s door, holding a plate in his other hand. On it he balanced a warm biscuit and a bowl of cooling soup, as well as a lemon tart he’d stolen from the kitchen.
“Who is it?” came a low, muffled voice.
“Me,” Sylvain murmured, cautiously. “I just...want to talk.”
There was a period of silence, during which the painful hammering of Sylvain’s heart echoed in his head as he stood stiffly in the dark hallway. Then, he heard soft footsteps, then the turning of the lock and the wrench of the handle, and the door opened just a crack. Sylvain smiled a little when he saw half of Felix’s face, one amber eye looking sullenly up at him.
“I brought you something to eat,” Sylvain explained, trying his best to enunciate as his jaw was just recovering. “And I wanted to say sorry, for being so...oblivious.”
Felix raised an eyebrow, and he opened the door a little wider, The interior of his room was dark. Had he been sitting in the dark all this time?
“Did you bump into Ingrid or something?” he asked, taking the meal Sylvain offered to him. Sylvain nodded, scratching the back of his head.
“Yeah. She told me everything. And I just feel awful.” Felix disappeared into his room with the plate, then returned empty-handed but munching. “I’m...I’m sorry, Felix.”
The young swordsman shrugged, looking down. “It’s whatever. I get that you don’t see me the same way, so don’t feel bad.” His voice was strained, and Sylvain knew it was because he felt bad. He was heartbroken, but he didn’t want to say it. Felix started to close the door. “Good night.”
“Wait, wait!” Sylvain spluttered, sticking his hand between the door and the frame, and Felix froze so as not to crush his fingers. “That’s not true! I also—ah….”
Felix opened the door fully, and Sylvain felt that annoying heat flood his cheeks, seeing him dressed in a nightshirt and loose pants, no longer clothed in protective armor or wielding a sword or a sharp tongue or anything. He was vulnerable, exposed. “I, um...Felix, I—”
“You don’t have to force it,” Felix muttered.
“No, no, I’m not forcing anything, I just...it’s...it’s so hard for me to say, and I don’t know why.” Sylvain chuckled a little, his hands limp at his sides. “Normally, I could throw it at any girl who walked by, but...but now…I think it’s because I actually, really feel it, it’s tougher to get out than when it’s fake, I just can’t bring myself to say—”
“‘I love you?’”
Sylvain felt a tentative dust of warmth on his wrist, and he peeked through nervously squinted eyes to see Felix looking at the young lancer’s right hand, blushing faintly. Sylvain followed his gaze when Felix brushed his fingers against Sylvain’s palm, then took his hand and squeezed it tightly.
And it was as nice to hold as Sylvain had imagined. In fact, it was better. He’d held it when they were little, of course, but he’d nearly forgotten the sensation. After so many years of war, and so many years apart, his hand...it felt like fireflies lighting up at Sylvain’s fingertips, flitting and flickering through his veins and into his heart where they gathered and overwhelmed him with warmth.
Felix looked up at him, and he grinned wryly like he did when he was about to insult Sylvain beyond repair. But his amber eyes were happy, and they seemed to glisten in the dimly lit hall of the monastery when Sylvain took his other hand.
“I’m just glad you finally mean it to someone.”
It wasn’t an insult. It was the truth. And Sylvain felt that way, too. He hugged Felix, and Felix even hugged him back. His sleek navy hair was nice to touch, too; it was smooth and soft against Sylvain’s cheek, like feathers.
“How about we go out sometime?” Felix asked softly, his breaths warm upon Sylvain’s chest.
“Hm? But we’re outside all the time,” Sylvain pointed out, and Felix grumbled and sighed, nestling deeper into Sylvain’s embrace.
“You’re so stupid.”