“It’s suspicious as hell, Fee. Don’t tell me you don’t think it’s suspicious.”
“I do, okay? I do, but the only way we’re going to get to the bottom of it is to talk to the kid. He seems eager to please.”
“Uh huh. And did’ya stop to think about why that is, exactly?”
“What are you trying to say, Harry?” Felix sighs, pinching the bridge of his nose in the dark. They’d been circling around it for hours, through dinner and a little more getting to know you chit-chat. Felix had been left to get Henry settled in the guest bedroom as Harry retreated to their bedroom, supposedly to call his sister. He figured they would move past it, but Harry cracked as soon as Felix turned out the light.
“That I think it’s fucking suspect and I don’t buy the bad family story,” Harry shoots back.
Felix rolls his eyes, thankful his husband can’t see him do it. He could already feel the headache brewed as he laid on his back in bed. “You don’t?”
“No, I don’t. Because Caleb already knows Kieran’s fucking backstory and I think he’s spun this out so that you’d agree no problem.”
Felix scoffs. “Caleb wouldn’t–.”
“You don’t know that he wouldn’t, Felix.” Harry answers quickly.
“Okay but what does that get him?” Felix finally rolls onto his stomach, propping himself up on his forearms to look down at the other man. “I mean really, Harry? What does tricking us into babysitting a teenager get him?”
Harry shrugs with his arms crossed, his dark hair spread out on his pillow. “One less person in his apartment.”
“Bull shit its low stakes.”
“I don’t think that reason would fly with June. Sorry but that’s the truth and you know it. She’s way too nice for the rest of us assholes.”
Felix raised an eyebrow. He was right about that, he knew he was.
June Garcia was one of the few people on the planet who was genuinely good. Good to everyone, good in all things, good down to her bones. She was kind and patient, never a pushover, found the kernel of something nice in everyone whether they saw it themselves or not.
June Garcia liked everyone.
It took Harry twenty-six seconds to crack.
“… Fine, okay, I’ll give you that.”
“But you still don’t buy the story?” Felix asks.
“No, I don’t!” Harry exclaims, throwing his hands up over his head. He avoids Felix’s eyes, staring pointedly at the ceiling. He presses his lips together in a flat line, and Felix can see the wheels turning. His husband’s brain trying to decide what to say. He would have lied if he said the look didn’t make his heart warm. After a minute or two, Harry pulls himself up to sitting, slouching against the headboard. “Okay, so say the runaway story is true? Who’s to say someone isn’t looking for this kid? What if Henry isn’t even his real name?”
Felix can’t help the smile that pulls at his lips. “You’re making it sound like a bad mafia movie.”
“And you’re making it out like this kid is your big brother,” Harry snaps, glaring at Felix.
The smile collapses. Felix gapes at him, blinking and scrambling for what to say. His skin goes cold despite the blankets, his shirt, their room being a bit too warm. He shakes his head, looking down at the sheets, before exhaling and rolling back onto his side. He crosses his arms and stares out the window.
“Fuck, Felix, I’m sorry–.”
“No you’re not,” Felix hisses over his shoulder. “You said it because you knew it would hurt. What are you going to do now? Tell me he’s going to give me a second scar?”
“Felix, no, I–.”
“You know about Kieran just as much as Caleb does. Probably more than Caleb does.”
“I’m not trying to be an ass–.”
“Yes you are.”
“Okay, maybe I am!” Harry groans. “But you can’t honestly look at me and tell me that nothing about this feels weird.”
Felix bites his tongue, staring out the window into the dark. There were so many nasty things he could say back, things that would knock Harry back on his ass just as much. His parents dropping him like a rotten fish when they found out Felix wasn’t just a friend; his deep seated fear that his sisters would abandon him in the same way someday; all the low-ball, below-the-belt jabs about being a photographer, an artist, having a “useless degree”.
Felix could have said a lot of things. A lot of vicious angry things. He could have doubled-down on his defense, on the belief that this was the right thing to do and they were doing the right thing by helping. He could have gotten up and slept on the couch, could have fired off something that would turn their bickering into a seething, weeks’-long fight. But…
“Felix? Come on, honey. Say something?”
Felix breathes out hard through his nose. He doesn’t move but reaches a hand back for Harry to take. “No, I can’t… But I want to help. What’s the harm in helping?”
“That’s what I’m trying to figure out.”
Harry took Felix’s hand and squeezed. They stay like that for a long while, quiet and still in the dark. Felix pulls out of his thoughts, shoves down the simmering frustration, as the mattress shifts underneath him and Harry’s arms circle his waist. Felix adjusts, sliding back into the touch, relaxing as soon as he feels the weight of Harry’s forehead on his shoulder. He didn’t really want to be angry. He wasn’t really angry. He just didn’t like the questions, having to defend himself. He didn’t like being pushed into a corner, even if Harry had a point.
“I’m sorry,” He whispers, pulling one of Harry’s hands up and kissing the back of it.
“I know. Me too.”
“You’re not totally wrong.”
“Thank you, and I know. But I could have, you know… Not used a tone.”
“Eh…” Felix shrugged. He grips the hand tighter, keeps it up close to his face.
“I shouldn’t have… Never mind. But do you see where I’m going with this?” Harry asks, voice sliding into its usual gentle tone. “Like what freaked Caleb out so badly that he needed to get this kid not just out of his apartment but out of the entire fucking state of Connecticut?”
Felix sighs. “Fuck okay, that’s. That’s a good point.”
“And the man sees reason. Finally, thank god.” Harry laughs low, the vibration spreading through Felix’s skin.
Felix tried to suppress a grin but failed. “Fuck off.”
“Never,” Harry laughed. “But no, listen. I know I don’t know him well, but the man doesn’t scare easy. And, if he’s anything like his sister, I think he’d rather keep the kid as close to him as possible if things got sticky. So why is he here?”
“Wait…” Felix thinks a moment. “Didn’t Henry say it was his idea?”
Harry took in a sharp breath. “Oh damn, he did…”
“How’s your theory holding up now, genius?”
“It’s holding up fine, thank you.” Harry goes silent for a few more minutes. “So what if it was the kid’s idea? Caleb and June still had to agree to it, something still had to have happened.”
“Fine, fair enough.” Felix chews the inside of his cheek. The frustration was stirring back up again, restless and flaring. Waiting and ready bite.
“Did you just..?” Harry starts, then stops short. “Okay, what’s up, what else did I fuck up?”
“Nothing, I’m just saying you’re right.”
Harry scoffs, good humor still in his tone. “You never say I’m right. It’s always a ‘yes, but’ or ‘yes, and’ with you.”
“Well, this is a ‘yes, fine’.”
“No it isn’t. What’s wrong?”
Harry presses his fingers into Felix’s ribs, getting a high squeal out of the man. “Out with it, Felix.”
Felix resisted. He didn’t want to let the frustration get the better of him. He didn’t want to hurt Harry. Didn’t want to go to bed angry. But if he didn’t say something it would just drag on even more. So Felix tried to keep his voice as even and quiet as possible.
“Oh, to hell with it… I was thinking you’re just mad because I’ve said don’t want kids and this is like having a kid. So you’re pissy that I would agree to this but not a baby.” Felix takes a breath, pressing his nose into Harry’s skin and praying he wouldn’t pull away. “There. That’s what’s wrong. That’s the ‘yes, but’.”
“Is that your way of saying ‘no’?”
“Not even close. It’s not why I’m mad now, but… I mean I did think about, earlier, when you were all gung-ho about it,” Harry admits quietly, sadly. “Yeah, fuck it, I am a little mad about that but I want to know. What makes this kid different?”
Felix sags, dropping the hand, then rolling over. He pushes Harry down onto his back, settling against Felix’s chest and side. “I don’t know. Nothing really, to be honest… Hell, maybe it is Kieran and all that. I just, I felt something for him, Har. He said he wanted to be around good people, that he wanted to know more good people.”
“You like the idea of us being good people?”
“I like the idea of that not being a question for us.” Felix slung a leg over Harry’s thighs, pressing his face firmly into the sleep shirt.
“We have it pretty fucking easy as it is, but we didn’t have to explain ourselves. Sure Caleb might have prompted him, prepped him, whatever. But…. didn’t it feel good to have someone just believe that about us?”
“That we didn’t have to write a persuasive essay why we can be trusted…” Harry sighs. “Yeah, it did feel good, honey. But, you know, a baby – our baby – wouldn’t question us either.”
“I know, but at least if something happened to us, a teenager would be self sufficient,” Felix says, squeezing Harry tighter. “You already know how I feel, Harry.”
“I do, I know.”
“It’s not a no never, but…”
“No guarantees on reconsidering, I got’cha.” Felix could hear the smile in Harry’s voice. Could feel it in the warm slide of fingers through his hair, over his neck and shoulders. “But you’re still thinking about it?”
“Still thinking about it.”
“That’s all I ask.” Harry bends to press a kiss to Felix’s hair, then lays back down, resuming the comforting trail of fingers over his skin. “That’s all I ask. And hell, we could look at this as a test drive.”
“There. Yes, think of it like that.”
“But I’m still going to ask him what the fuck is up. I still think we should know more about what’s gone on with him than Caleb was willing to tell. He should know what we’re getting into, Fee.”
Felix nods. “We should, go ahead. Just… be gentle, okay? No good cop, bad cop, or whatever that horse shit is.”
“Oh fuck no, never.”
“Thank you,” Felix presses a kiss to Harry’s chest. “Thank you for not completely taking my head off for agreeing.”
“I was about to.”
Harry shrugged. “He was very helpful with dinner.”
“And…” Harry shrugged again. “I don’t know. I have a hard time hating things that make you happy, and this whole thing seemed to make you happy. Does it?”
“Yeah, it does. It’s a weird feeling, but it does,” Felix whispers. He feels drowsiness kick in, the exhaustion born of performance and anxiousness. He reaches and pulls the blankets back up over them. It’s a little too warm, he’ll probably wake up sweaty and clammy, but Felix can’t bring himself to roll back over. He prods Harry in the ribs under the covers. “Hey?”
“I love you.”
“I love you too, you absolute fool.”