Entry 03: In which we meet Tori Addison and Felix says something stupid.
Felix saw Tori the next morning. The Helix 7's only other Earth-native was sitting by herself at one of the two short tables that sat side by side in the mess room. It was the biggest room on the ship, but even then the tables crowded up the space, their long bench seats knocking into each other down the middle of the room and the outer two squeezed next to the walls.
She was reading one of her books, body angled to the side so she could cross one leg over the other. Her foot was bobbing restlessly and she was frowning at the page in front of her, biting her lip as her eyes eagerly scanned the page.
"Either she's finally started her research paper on the history of space flight," Felix thought through his pounding headache, "or she's re-reading The Tenant of Wildfell Hall for the thousandth time."
He got his answer as he flopped down onto the bench across from Tori.
"Man!" The straw blonde woman griped as she tossed her book, pages down on the table. The spine was so fractured from reading that it bent nearly in half where it rested next to her tray. "Arthur Huntingdon is a complete jerk."
"Tenant it is." Felix thought with some amusement he managed to dredge up from somewhere.
He started to roll his eyes and then stopped when the small movement sent a stabbing pain down his optic nerves. "Yeah," he groaned covering his right eye with a palm to try and dull the pain, "so you've said before."
Still frowning at the sins of an imaginary man, Tori picked up her cup of coffee and took a long, loud sip, making Felix flinch as steam wafted over the rim and briefly hid Tori's freckles. His head wasn't up for this kind of treatment this early in the morning.
Tori sighed in satisfaction as she put her mug back on the table, missing Felix's wince at the small sound. "Ah, that hits the spot." She said before turning warm brown eyes on him and giving him a smile.
Felix had always thought that Tori looked somewhat out of place on the Helix. A mix of the girl next door and an adventuring romantic, Tori had long legs, long, straight, straw-blonde hair, and an all around caring disposition. Her brown eyes and freckles gave her a grounded look that was matched by her Montana ranch upraising, but despite all that Felix had never met someone who sat easier in a pilot's chair. Tori was only their co-pilot at the moment, but with her confidence and natural ability, Felix knew she wouldn't stay there for long.
She was obviously an outgoing, curious, and compassionate soul and most everyone she met liked her within the next five minutes. She was also, for some reason, single.
Felix felt his face heat up at the familiar reminder. He had never known what to make of that, and like most awkward boys that had grown into awkward young men, he had shied away from that question entirely whenever they found themselves alone together.
Oblivious to Felix's embarrassment, Tori grinned at him as she laced her fingers together and leaned her elbows on the table to give him her undivided attention. "You look awful." She told him cheerfully.
One corner of Felix's mouth turned down. He already felt like a grease stain compared to Tori's clean clothes and washed face. She had even managed to run a brush through her hair before tying it back for her shift. Felix wasn't sure he even owned a brush anymore. He couldn't remember exactly, but he thought he had cannibalized his for one of the early prototypes. Either that or one of the ship's ever present Jumble rats had carried it off for its nest.
"Even the rodentia from that place are mad." Felix thought, his mind running away from him for a split second.
He forced his tired mind to focus. "Thanks Tor. That makes me feel so much better." He grumbled.
She only grinned wider. "How late did you stay up this time?"
Felix hmphed through his nose and shifted forward to put his head on the table. Course, the closer he got to the table, the more he saw the crumbs and leftover food from the night before.
He lifted his head, grumbling in the back of his throat as he did. "Whoever's turn it was to clean the mess hall should be tossed out the airlock. They did an awful job."
Tori's lips twitched in a grin before she took another loud slurp of her coffee. "It was yours. You never showed."
Felix felt his eye start to twitch. "Well, there are exceptions of course." He grumbled.
Tori snorted a laugh. "Tell me you at least made some headway for all your trouble Felix."
Felix groaned and leaned his head on his arm, squeezing his eyes shut so he wouldn't have to look at the disgusting tabletop.
He could feel Tori's eyes on his head. "Wow," she mumbled, "that well huh?"
Felix nodded without raising his head. "Even better." He muttered.
Tori didn't say anything, but he could see her laughing with her eyes as took another loud sip of hot coffee.
Felix flinched at the obnoxious sound, pain spiking behind his already aching eyes. "Could you please stop that?" He moaned.
Tori stared at him in confusion over the rim of her mug. "Are you sure you're okay?" She asked again as she set the cup down. "It's been awhile since I've seen you so..." She eyed him in concern, unable to find the right word.
Felix didn't want to give her the chance to finish that statement. "I'm fine," he insisted through gritted teeth. "You're just annoying."
Tori's eyes widened in stunned hurt. Felix was so exhausted that it took him a minute to realize what he'd just said.
He sighed in aggravation. "Idiot!” He snapped at himself. "It's annoying! How hard is it to say it's annoying? Not 'you're'."
He reached a hand towards his friend. "Tor,” he tried, "I didn't mean that-"
Tori glared at him, stung at his carelessness. “Shut up.” She told him sharply. “At least I know how to work a shower.”
Feeling even worse — and resisting hard the urge to scratch his greasy scalp — Felix stiffened. Bad enough he felt disgusting and hadn’t slept because he’d been too busy obsessing over that equation, but today was shaping up to be worse than the night before.
Tori finished off her coffee with one last long pull, the last wisps of steam ghosting across the sides of her face before evaporating entirely. When it was empty, she slammed the cup down on the table. Felix cringed as the sound made his head throb.
“Didn’t slurp.” Tori snapped at him as she stood up, angry, and picked up her tray with the remains of her breakfast cluttered together in the middle. She walked stiffly across the room and slammed the tray down the chute, making Felix flinch again, but it wasn't the sound that hurt that time.
Cor came through the door just as the young co-pilot was leaving. “Hey Earth-girl!” He greeted Tori with his usual enthusiasm. “What’s happenin’?”
Tori paused just long enough to mutter, “Ask him.”
Felix didn’t need to see her to know she’d jerked her thumb over her shoulder at him.
He made out the sharp sounds of her boot heels over the general din of the mess room until they were cut off by the noise of the squeaky door sliding shut behind her.