Cavendish swore off of love, he really did. After Hildegard broke his heart, he never wanted to get his hopes up again in the fear that they would once again be dashed. And yet, he was unable to help himself when he caught feelings for Dakota. Sure, it took him years to realize he was even attracted to men (especially a man like that), but the realization hit him hard once it sank in.
It started on the Island of Dakotas. To see hundreds of Dakotas who risked everything to save hundreds of Cavendish was certainly distracting him from the Pistachion invasion at hand. Cavendish didn't have the slightest idea that Dakota cared that much until then. With their constant clashes and disagreements, it seemed like Dakota merely saw him as standoffish and uptight. Well, they say you argue with the ones you love. And in some way or another, Dakota clearly loved him.
When Cavendish realized he was in love, he could never unrealize it. Every time he looked at Dakota, he was reminded of the way it made his heart skip a beat. Every time Dakota smiled, it reminded him of how his face would heat up. It was slightly infuriating that a man could do all this to Cavendish without having any idea. Curse Dakota for somehow being so unrefined yet charming.
As days turned into months, things seemed to get a bit more awkward after their reunion. Dakota insisted he was fine and acted like his usual self, but there was something halfhearted to it. Cavendish, on the other hand, was overwhelmed with guilt and fear. After what he did to him, why was Dakota sticking around? When would his limits finally be reached? Everyone left Cavendish eventually, it seemed inevitable that Dakota would too.
Cavendish had no one in the future. He had long since cut contact with his family, who were all very judgemental and discouraged his time traveling, world saving dreams. He wasn't the best at socializing, so he didn't have any close friends. In fact, in his younger years, Cavendish was in pursuit of good grades rather than company. It was one of his many regrets, not putting himself out there too much.
He only did it once. It was back in his early time travel days, when he had just become Dakota's partner. Cavendish had met up with an old classmate of his on a mission, and the conversation they had led to a date. It was the only date Cavendish had ever been on, and he considered bailing until Dakota encouraged him. It went successfully, and led to a couple of years of dating. Cavendish got his hopes up too high. When they started dating, he and Hildegard were both entry level time travelers. Over the years, though, she advanced through the ranks. Eventually, she broke things off with Cavendish due to not wanting to be seen with a low level agent. And who else but Dakota was there for him during the heartbreak? No one, that's who. When Cavendish thought about it, he realized that ever since they met, Dakota was always there when he needed someone.
Dakota confessed purely on accident, but it was the best accident that Cavendish ever witnessed. He should've known Dakota had feelings for him too, it only became super obvious once the secret was out. Cavendish could still hardly believe it. Dakota had loved him all this time and he was too blind to see! He mentally cursed himself for being so oblivious, but he was also too overwhelmed with emotion to dwell much on it.
"Dakota?" Cavendish asked.
He stared at the ground and sighed. "Why haven't you left yet?"
Dakota's eyes widened. "What in the world do you mean by that?"
"I haven't appreciated you. I didn't have the slightest idea you loved me, but I took it for granted. And all because I wanted to save the world."
The other shrugged. "You're Cavendish. That's why I haven't left. Besides, I knew you'd come around. You always do."
"Dakota," Cavendish said. "I am really lucky to have you. I haven't known anyone that's stayed as long as you."
Dakota smiled gently at him. "Trust me, I'm going to stay much longer. So long that everyone who left won't hurt you."
"I missed you," He said with an equally gentle smile. "Even our disagreements."
"Wouldn't want to have them with anyone else."
Cavendish grabbed Dakota's hand and started thinking. Maybe this time, it was real. Maybe this time, it would all be okay.