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The Truth Behind It

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Neil is lying on the sofa of his empty apartment staring at the ceiling. The match he had been watching in the TV just ended and now the post game interviews are about to start; the sound of Andrew’s voice coming from the screen draws his attention back to the TV. He grabs the remote to turn the volume up and sits up on the couch to pay attention.

He can’t help but be surprised when he sees Andrew’s blank face right next to his team captain ready to do the interview. Andrew never liked to do this sort of thing and has always left that pretty clear in the past. But this wasn’t college anymore, they were now playing for professional teams and the contracts they signed were different, interviews and the occasional photos were part of their careers as professional athletes.

But that doesn’t mean that Andrew would go there and put on a smile for the cameras and pretend to be nice like Kevin does. No, Andrew will be there because that’s what’s required of him. Nothing else.

Neil is amused at the whole interview; Andrew either ignores the questions thrown at him or gives the shortest answers possible. And when it becomes clear that the reporters are no longer asking Exy related questions, Andrew just exits the room leaving his captain behind.

When the interview is over, Neil’s phone starts beeping so he fumbles on the couch in search of it. When he unlocks it he finds a message in his chat with Allison. It’s only a screenshot, and when Neil clicks to expand it he can see that it’s from a tweet of Nicky just saying next with laughing smiles and then Andrew’s reply to it saying You’re next.

Neil snorts. When did Andrew get a Twitter account? Maybe his PR had him make an account just like they’ve been asking Neil to do. He puts his phone away and watches the sports channel that is currently showing a game from the past season. But he doesn’t pay too much attention to it; he keeps thinking about what Allison showed him so he grabs his phone again and decides to download Twitter to try the damn thing. It will get his PR off his back and he can tease Andrew a bit.

He makes an account in a few minutes, and then he proceeds to type his first tweet.

 @JostenN10: Who let @AJMinyard loose near the press?

In no time his phone begins to beep like crazy. People are beginning to follow him and retweet what he said, including some of the Foxes. Neil follows his friends back, and takes some time to figure out how to disable all the notifications except for theirs. He gets distracted trying to read what they’ve tweeted to each other lately until a notification letting him know that Andrew had just mentioned him appears.

 @AJMinyard: @JostenN10 Mind your own damn business.

He smiles at his phone when he reads Andrew’s reply and gets up to prepare to go to sleep. His phone rings a few minutes later so he lays down and answers it. “Are you banned from interviews yet?”

“Not yet,” Andrew replies.

Neil begins to grin; of course Andrew will try to make it happen soon. He turns off his lamp and makes himself comfortable in bed to talk to Andrew. They haven’t seen each other in two weeks and Neil misses him. “You still coming here next weekend?”

“Yes,” Andrew answers, and then he proceeds to tell Neil about the book Renee let him borrow a few days ago when she went to visit him.

And like most nights they don’t talk for long as they both have practice in the next morning. So after Neil tells Andrew about his teammates becoming really stressed about the upcoming matches, they hung up to get some sleep.

***

A few days pass, and Neil’s team wins a game where he scores an impossible shot. Once he’s dressed after the game he comes to sit on his car to make some time for the stadium to clear out.

He checks his phone to see what time it is, but finds that he has a few notifications on Twitter so he clicks to open it. He sees several of the Foxes congratulating him about the game. All except for one.

@NickyHe: What an amazing shot @JostenN10, so proud!!

@AJMinyard: @NickyHe you forgot the part that he face planted himself into the plexiglass. Bravo.

Neil snorts when he reads what Andrew sent him and immediately begins to type his answer.

@JostenN10: Fuck you @AJMinyard

He then puts his phone away and drives back to his apartment. Once he arrives, he takes off his shoes and sits on the couch, the adrenaline of the game has passed and Neil feels his legs giving out.

He takes out his phone from his pocket to call Andrew. “I’m probably going to be told off tomorrow for that,” he comments, remembering his PR warning him to think about what he posts online because it could impact him and his team.

“Tell that to someone who cares,” Andrew replies and Neil can hear the slight amusement in his voice. “They should just ban you from social media before it’s too late.”

“Probably,” Neil agrees. “If they were smart they would ban us both, just to be safe.”

Andrew hums and for a few moments neither of them speak. Andrew is going to stay over during the weekend so Neil walks to his fridge and opens freezer to check if he still has ice cream for him. He sees a container of Andrew’s favorite flavor and grabs it.“Your ice cream container is almost empty, do you want me to buy a different flavor or the same one?”

Andrew doesn’t answer right away and sounds like he’s walking around. So while he waits for Andrew to answer, Neil closes the freezer and starts to look at the take out menus to think about what he’s going to order for dinner.

“The same,” Andrew tells him.“You going shopping tomorrow?”

“Yeah, but I should be back before you arrive,” Neil replies.

***

Almost two weeks later, Neil’s sitting in the locker room putting away his things in a gym bag and he can feel the tense atmosphere of his team in the air. They just lost an away game and it will make it difficult for them to move to the next round. So he takes a deep breath, closes his bag and follows his teammates in silence.

On his way to the parking lot Neil checks his phone and goes on Twitter where he sees he has several mentions from the others about the match. He’s not really in the mood to talk about it, so he ignores them until he notices that Andrew also mentioned him.

@AJMinyard: @JostenN10 I thought you knew how to run

@JostenN10: @AJMinyard At least I played, what did you do on your last game?

@AJMinyard: @JostenN10 You have a death wish

After a short drive, his team gets back to their city. Neil leaves the team bus and enters his car, feeling slightly calmer after bickering with Andrew. He begins to drive and only checks his phone again when he stops at a gas station, and he sees that he has a message from Andrew.

Andrew: How long?

Neil: At the gas station, 20min

Neil pays for the gas and buys some chocolate bars for Andrew that were in the counter. When he enters the car and throws the chocolates to the other seat he realizes that it’s getting late and he’s getting hungry so he sends another message to Andrew.

Neil: Indian tonight?

Andrew: Yes. Number 37?

Neil: Yeah and Naan bread

Once he arrives at Andrew’s apartment he opens the door and Andrew calmly gets up from the couch to stop in front of him. Neil silently drops his bag to the floor and holds up the chocolates one in each hand in front of them.

Andrew spares them a glance and holds Neil’s hands with his own. “You can live. For now,” he comments and Neil can see that he’s amused. Then he moves forward and kisses Neil for a moment, and just as quickly Andrew steps back taking the chocolates with him. “Dinner should be arriving anytime now,” he informs him turning his back to Neil.

“Good,” Neil says, thinking that he’s quite hungry and follows Andrew into the living room to wait for dinner to be delivered.

***

Neil takes a deep breath and steps into the room full of reporters to follow his captain. He was put to press duty because the reporters have been asking why he never makes them, so of course they sent him today with the warning to watch his mouth.

After a few questions about the match they just had, one reporter changes the subject. “You seem to have a rivalry with your former teammate Andrew Minyard, care to comment?”

“No,” He replies, trying not to roll his eyes at the so-called rivalry that, according to Allison, everyone has been talking about.

“Are you excited to go against him next week?”

“Yes, I can’t wait to see him,” he replies and fights the urge to smile when he thinks about Andrew and the time they’ll get to spend together next weekend.

“There’s some rumors going around that while you were at Palmetto you two didn’t get along?” another reporter immediately asks, interrupting his thoughts.

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure he hates me,” Neil says to the camera with a grin, choosing to let them interpret that however they want.

Later that night he checks in at the hotel where his whole team is staying before they fly back to their city in the morning. He goes to his room and opens the window to light a cigarette on the small balcony. He breathes in the smell of smoke and once the cigarette is gone he thinks about calling Andrew so he grabs his phone. He unlocks it and notices that he has a notification from Twitter and opens the app.

 @AJMinyard: @JostenN10 You’re right, I do hate you.

His heart skips a beat after reading Andrew’s message from two hours ago. He stares at the message for a few moments but ultimately realizes that is already quite late and he doesn’t want to wake Andrew, so instead of calling him tonight he only answers him on Twitter.

 @JostenN10: @AJMinyard Good.

 

***

After the game between their teams, Neil silently follows his team into the locker room to wait for their turn to do the post-game interview. His coach comes inside and turns the TV on so that they can watch the other team’s interview. Andrew’s team won and Neil almost has the urge to roll his eyes when he sees that they sent Andrew to do the interview.

“Andrew, what was it like to play against your former captain?” a reporter asks as soon as he steps into the room.

“Interesting,” Andrew replies with a blank face.

“You confirmed on Twitter that you hated him - did something happen between the two of you?” another one asks.

Andrew turns to the side to look the reporter in the eye before he answers. “You could say that.”

“Would you like to share some details about that? The fans have been wondering what happened to the two of you; even Kevin Day won’t comment about it.”

“It’s good to know that someone has learned to shut their mouth,” is all Andrew says, ignoring the question completely. And then he turns around as if preparing to leave.

“Just one more question; did you had a chance to speak to Josten after the game?”

Andrew pauses after hearing Neil’s name being brought up again. “If only there were days were I didn’t have to fucking deal with him,” he says without looking at the cameras. “I’m done with this,” he adds, and then leaves.

A few minutes pass, and Neil follows his captain to do the interview for his team. As soon as he’s in front of the cameras the reporters don’t even ask about the game, choosing instead to try and see if Neil can give them more information about the situation with Andrew.

“Neil care to comment about your rivalry with Andrew?”

“Rivalry?” Neil asks, feigning confusion.

“Yes, the public is concerned about what really happened between the two of you and why you hate each other so much.”

“Oh, that,” Neil begins to grin; their so called rivalry is what is making his PR send him to press duty after every game. The press has been dying to know more about them.

“Andrew didn’t say anything about it in his interview moments ago, but can you give us an inside scoop? Did you guys have a serious fight while you were in the same team?

“What?”

“Andrew has been known to have violent tendencies. Did something happen?” another reporter quickly asks.

“What? Fuck, no.” Neil says, no longer grinning. Fuck the reporters; they’re only interested in the gossip that could make them sell more and they were going too far with their assumptions. He doesn’t want anyone to think that about the two of them, so he turns around and leaves before he says something he really shouldn’t. He did swear on camera, but his PR should be proud that he shut his mouth after that and walked away.

Later that night they’re both back at Andrew’s apartment in bed and Neil has been scrolling through Twitter for the past half an hour reading a lot of opinions about their so-called fight, and he’s just done with the whole thing. At the beginning, it was fun to tease Andrew and watch everyone start to wonder why, but now it was all getting out of control. He takes a deep breath and looks at Andrew by his side. “I’m tired of this stupid rivalry.”

Andrew stops reading his book and looks back. “It is getting boring,” he comments, and when he sees that Neil isn’t going to add anything else for now, he turns his attention back to the book.

Neil goes back to Twitter and sees that Nicky’s making jokes about the interviews they did today and commenting about the whole situation between them. Neil decides to reply to one of Nicky’s tweets that is full of laughing and crying smiles.

@NickyHe: @AJMinyard He really hates @JostenN10

@JostenN10: @NickyHe @AJMinyard He really does. Especially today since I scored him so many goals

Neil can hear Andrew’s phone vibrating from the notification and watches him grab his phone to check it so he waits, looking at his own phone to see if he’s going to reply.

@AJMinyard: @JostenN10 I hate you everyday. Now shut the fuck up, you’re distracting me

Neil snorts and begins to type his reply:

@JostenN10: @AJMinyard Is that a threat?

@AJMinyard: @JostenN10 It is now

@AJMinyard: @JostenN10 I’ll fucking kill you if you don’t let me finish this book tonight

@JostenN10: @AJMinyard I’m not afraid of you

Out of the corner of his eye he sees sudden movement and reflexly brings his arm up to defend himself. However, he isn’t fast enough, so he feels a object hitting him on the head. He grabs it to check what it is and sees the book Andrew was just reading. Andrew had just thrown the book at him without any force behind it so Neil looks to his side and grins. He’s met with Andrew looking at him with an eyebrow raised, as if daring him to do something about it. So Neil keeps the book against his chest and grabs his phone once again.

@JostenN10: @AJMinyard just fucking threw the book at my head!

Then Neil, still grinning, turns to look at Andrew again, wondering if it would be okay to post a picture of them together to just end this mess once and for all.

“Staring,” Andrew comments turning to the side and props up his head with his hand to look back at Neil.

“Can I post a picture of us?”

Andrew stills for a moment, clearly not expecting that.“Yes,” he tells him after a moment. “Now give me back the book.”

Neil turns on his camera, takes a picture and gives him back the book. He shows the picture to Andrew and once he glances at it and returns to focus on his book, Neil posts it. It’s a picture of him seated on his bed holding the book and looking at the side grinning, where you can see half of Andrew’s side looking back at him.

@AJMinyard: @JostenN10 You should’ve learned how to duck by now 

 (And the media goes crazy.)