Andrew briefly assessed himself and his surroundings. He was in his bed. No. He was in his and Neil’s bed. Because he and Neil lived together now. They had a small apartment on the fifth floor. Low enough to the ground that it didn’t trigger Andrew’s fear of heights, but high enough that Neil wasn’t paranoid that someone could climb into their window. Relationships are about compromise.
It had to be one of those odd hours of the night. Maybe 2:00am, maybe 3:00am. Andrew could tell because there was no sun creeping in through the blinds and the surrounding world was deathly quiet.
Andrew wasn’t uncomfortable. He had his back to the wall and there was a good amount of space between where Neil was sleeping. Or where Neil was lying on his back. Andrew could see in the minimal light given off by the cheesy fox nightlight in the corner of their room that was gifted by Nicky that Neil’s eyes were closed but he wasn’t asleep. Andrew had become an expert in Neil’s breathing and he could tell it was too controlled to indicate sleep.
Andrew shuffled over closer to Neil. Neil peaked the eye that was closest to Andrew open at the sound of the sheets shuffling.
“Can’t sleep?” Neil asked. Andrew didn’t answer. Instead he raised himself up on his arm so that he was looking down at Neil. Neil opened both eyes to give Andrew his full attention. It was something Andrew still hadn’t gotten used to. Having someone who thought he was worthy of being someone's sole focus.
Andrew assessed again. He was up because he couldn’t sleep but it wasn’t for the reasons that usually kept him up. Someone else in bed with him wasn’t making his skin crawl, and he wasn’t woken up due to any nightmares. Andrew should be exhausted. He spent all day doing physical labor decorating the apartment and moving in. Taking boxes labeled “Neil” and boxes labeled “Andrew” and making a home from the contents inside.
“You think we’d be knocked out with all the work we did today,” Neil spoke again.
“Mhmm,” Andrew agreed. He took Neil’s arm that was lying across his chest and moved it to the side. Neil’s eyebrows raised in curiosity but he didn’t say no or stop Andrew from maneuvering his limbs to his own liking. Andrew settled himself with his head resting on Neil’s shoulder, his body sideways but perfectly fitting against Neil’s. He rested his own hand on the center of Neil’s chest and let his other arm be squashed between his stomach and Neil’s side.
“Hair,” Andrew said.
Neil let out a huff of a laugh but obliged the one word command and used the arm that Andrew had tossed aside early to play with the short strands at the back of Andrew’s head.
“Did you ever think we’d be here?” Neil asked.
“In bed together? I hoped.”
Admitting hope and wants were easier now.
Neil laughed and really, that was all that mattered to Andrew. “No,” Neil clarified, “Well yes, actually. I just mean. I was supposed to be dead. I wasn’t supposed to make it this far.”
“Yes, you were,” Andrew said. He didn’t like when Neil talked like this. If anyone wasn’t supposed to make it this far Andrew didn’t think it was Neil. Andrew could feel Neil’s shrug. “I think,” Andrew continued, “That it doesn’t matter what was supposed to happen. We’re here now, together, and I think that’s what is important.”
“I’m glad I’m here with you,” Neil said, finally. “You make me happy.”
Andrew huffed. “Alright, let’s not get crazy.”
“Oh, what’s wrong Andrew? Don’t like being told you make me happy?” Neil teased.
Andrew responded by burying his face further into Neil’s neck. Andrew noticed that the hand delicately passing through his hair never stopped.
“You better get used to it,” Neil said. “Because you do, and I’m never going to stop telling you.”
Andrew sighed, “You make me happy too.” The words were muffled due to his face being pressed against Neil but he knew Neil heard him anyway.
Neil made a small sound of satisfaction. “We should try and sleep. Tomorrow’s our first official day as homeowners.”
“Apartment-owners,” Andrew corrected.
“Anyplace with you is home,” Neil said.
Andrew didn’t respond. Couldn’t respond. Because he felt the same way, that as long as he had Neil with him, he was home. But sometimes, even in the quiet of the night, certain things were too scary to admit out loud. Maybe one day, Andrew would tell Neil more. Tell him how much he meant to him. But for now, Andrew would settle for the words that were unspoken and the silent agreement of forever.