After some time since the Foxes won the championship had passed, Andrew was quite sure that Neil was done with his surprises. They had spent several long nights on the rooftop sharing smokes and truths as Neil explained his past lives in even further detail than he did at the FBI interrogation. It was highly uncomfortable, to know someone so well and to be known in return. It took several sessions with Betsy to ease out the spike of anxiety every time they ventured a little further back into the past.
Now, twenty-two names and almost equally as many foster homes had been uncovered. Now, Andrew knew that Neil liked apples more than other fruit and Neil knew that Andrew had an appreciation for the colour green. It was a little easier, to reveal little pieces of himself these days. Which is why this specific morning’s revelation had hit harder than expected.
Neil had returned from his morning run earlier and Andrew made coffee waiting for him to come down, ready for the day. It was gross, the routine that they had made, but it was grounding and regular which are both things that Betsy recommended. The other man in question had just come into said kitchen, still rubbing a towel through his hair. It was actually improbable, for one human to have this much energy in the morning. Andrew sighed and lifted one of the mugs.
“For me?” The mug was shoved into Neil’s waiting hands,
“Yes, black, you heathen”
“I like drinking coffee, not sweetened milk.” Neil’s voice was light and teasing, a smirk pulling at his lips. Andrew narrowed his eyes.
“Shut up.” Neil shook his head and wrapped his fingers around the mug
“Thank you, Skarbie”
Now that was new. Andrew hadn’t heard that word before but the smug look on Neil’s face suggested that it was something that would greatly displease him. Once he knew what it meant.
“What was that?”
“ Andrew ”
“I do not like not knowing.”
“So work it out.”
“Say it again then.”
“Oh, no chance, work it out.”
Yes. Definitely something that would displease him after all. On top of that, Neil knew that despite being able to remember this conversation, it would be near impossible to recreate the phrase on a single pronunciation alone. In that moment, Andrew had decided that he needs to kill Neil after all, it’s vastly uncomfortable to be known this way. It would be so easy, with Nicky and the others still asleep upstairs.
Of course, he could leave it alone. He did not care what the word meant, after all. But something about Neil’s smug fucking face irked Andrew in the way an itch does. He would not admit this but honestly, he was dying of curiosity. First, he had to figure out what language it was in. It definitely wasn’t anything Neil and Andrew shared and it didn’t sound like French either. Here he was thinking Neil was done with surprises, but it turned out that the rabbit had a couple more tricks up his sleeve after all.
He should have let it go. A one-off display of Neil’s gremlin tendencies should not bother him this way. Yet here he was, sat at his desk, trying to replicate the spelling entirely on the way Neil had said the word. It was nine in the goddamn morning, the devil’s hour.
None of these looked like real words. He was damned to admit that this new puzzle was driving him insane.
Just then, the door to the dorm opened and the damned culprit entered. His hair was still stuck to his forehead with sweat from his run. He walked closer, and hummed to let Andrew know he was there. Andrew rolled his eyes; he was perfectly capable of noticing that another person had entered the room he was residing in. Paired with the tangle of phonetics in front of him, he was just about ready to stab something.
Neil leant over his shoulder, letting his lips pull into a smirk. Out of the corner of his eye, Andrew was suddenly slightly distracted by how the early morning sun hit his face, how the smooth skin of his scars glistened and made his… how it made Neil look like an oil painting. It was insane how even after running what was most likely several miles, this idiot still looked fit to be a centre piece in the louvre. A thin, finger tapped at his paper, pulling him out of his introspection.
“Still at it I see,”
“Shut up.” Came the immediate response as Andrew shoved Neil’s cheek away with two fingers. This backfired and made Neil’s eyes lit up. Smug bastard.
“I’m going to shower.” He announced.
“I literally don’t care”
“Keep Working hard, Żabciu.”
Andrew felt his entire body tens at the last word; another one he was clueless towards the meaning of. That little shit. Before he could turn around to give the junkie a piece of his mind, Neil had already disappeared into the bathroom. His gaze turned back to the nonsensical scramble of phonetics. His eyes pinched together until the ink blurred between his eyelashes, turning into meaningless splotches. Soon his eyes closed fully, and he let his head tilt back, catching the sunshine just over the bridge of his nose. Word Two added to the puzzle then. If he could assume that they were even the same language, he wouldn’t put it past the idiot. Neil had used it in the same formulation as the previous word; at the end of the sentence. He could guess that they were nicknames of some sort, from the way Neil’s voice warped itself in a disgustingly cotton candy manner that one could only consider…fondness.
He let a sharp breath through his nose and gave the page another try. He tried to scribble new phonetics alongside the column of the last mystery.
The third sound was a rough approximate as he struggled to recognise it in the English language. He scribbled three impatient lines under it and tossed his pen back onto the table with more force than necessary, it cracked along the bodice. After another couple of minutes, he stood and headed to join Neil.
Practice was dreadful, as always. The upcoming game had set some sort of fire under Kevin, causing him to be even more unbearable than usual. Within the space of an hour, he had to be reminded three times that he was not, in fact, the captain. Andrew, naturally curbed this sudden demand for effort through being even more difficult than usual. It was fun to tell him no, to watch Kevin flush all the way to his hairline in anger, it almost made Andrew feel something like satisfaction. This. This was what was worth it in Exy, relentless tormenting of the Queen himself. In truth, Andrew’s mind was turning over the two mystery words Neil had uttered to him earlier. It had been nearly two weeks since the first word and Andrew still hadn’t figured them out, it was annoying.
It intrigued Andrew in a way he couldn’t quite explain. He had thought he had unravelled the mystery of Neil Josten in Baltimore and the weeks following, but it seemed that there is still a couple more creases to iron out. Neil was a puzzle, and Andrew vowed to solve him all that time ago. Said puzzle was currently spitting angry French towards Kevin Day, causing the other man to turn an even deeper crimson. Andrew was quick to notice that practice had halted and the rest of the Foxes had paused to watch the two strikers argue.
Neil’s temper was as short as he was and his grin was growing sharper by the second. Andrew leaned on his racquet and kept watching. Neil wouldn’t harm Kevin, so it was a good moment to watch the rabbit become a hawk without him noticing. The way the sun streamed in through the windows of the Foxhole Court set Neil alight and the veins slowly becoming more pronounced on his neck and temples looked extremely inviting. Andrew wanted to kiss them. Or bite them. Definitely the latter.
“Bet you know a little bit about that Wesninski”
Andrew was snapped out of his inner musings and into focus at the recent development in the argument. Their freshman striker, John or James or something took it upon himself to insert himself into the conversation. The kid thought he was the second coming of Kayleigh Day and was determined to usurp Neil’s position as starting striker. Andrew didn’t pay much attention to the kid or his dumbass court politics. He did however, notice that Neil’s fury had quickly shifted from Kevin and onto the younger striker. The kid didn’t know when to quit but this was Neil’s fight, not Andrew’s.
That lasted until everything escalated.
It seemed Jackie had said a word too much and Neil’s famous sharp tongue had hit a target. His eyes lit up with a dangerous spark and his mouth had stretched into the smile Neil hated so much. It was all teeth and trouble, the grin of a predator backing prey into a corner. It made Andrew feel warm inside in a very irritating way, as rare as it was. Jem was frowning, rapidly going red around the ears, his jaw setting in a tense manner. Andrew could predict a punch flying soon.
He did not, however predict the moron striker would swing his racquet right at Neil’s ribs. Luckily, the junkie was still wearing his Exy gear and only stumbled back with a yelp but that was enough. Andrew saw red.
Though Neil’s freshman year was already over and their deal had been mutually broke, Andrew still felt protective about the other man. They weren’t quite a this but he was now part of the lot; and the moron could barely take care of himself. Besides, Andrew wanted to be the one to finally put him in the ground, and no one needed a stupid jealous brat breaking Neil’s ribs and pushing him right into the arms of the Moriyamas.
He had Jack pushed up against the plexiglass barrier in moments, one of his trusty knives pressed up against the dumbass’ spleen. Everything around him fell away swiftly.
“Well, that wasn’t very smart of you?” The last person to swing a racquet at Neil is dead now. Andrew debated on telling him that.
“What the hell! Get off me Psycho!” He could hear the slight quiver in his voice. Pathetic, this kid was all bark and barely any bite. He tilted his head up to meet his eyes and crooned,
“Shh, shh, come on Johnny, don’t tell me you’re scared now.”
“Let him go Andrew!” Nicky’s voice registered vaguely in the background but he was more focused on the next words out of Jack’s mouth. This kid was gunning for a Darwin Award huh?
“I’m not fucking scared! I just don’t appreciate some useless basket-case threatening me with a fucking knife!” there was a slight uproar at the words, though Andrew hardly cared what some bootlicking striker thought.
“Oh, and you’re still talking” he pressed down, maybe he could make him squeal…
“-drew. look. I’m fine” Neil’s voice. Fine. A new word on the banned list, the stupid junkie was hurt. He pressed harder, earning a lovely yelp from Jack
“I mean. Im okay! I’m not hurt, let me handle this come on”
He finally allowed himself to meet Neil’s eyes, nothing soft in them. Just hard and unyielding decisiveness. Finally, He stepped back.
“Fucking psycho!” The kid didn’t know when to quit but he was irrelevant now as Andrew’s attention moved to Neil.
“Get out of here Jack!” Matt’s voice rang out and the dumbass striker didn’t take too long to limp out of the court. Perhaps Andrew had shoved him a little harshly. He breathed out, finally taking notice of all the eyes on him. He stared back, giving them nothing. Eventually Kevin folded and stepped in front of him
“Get back to practice! Show’s over!” Andrew could barely turn back towards the goal when Coach’s voice rang out through the court
“Minyard! Josten! Get your asses over here!” he sighed and Neil rolled his eyes but they obliged. Coach had his arms crossed and his most fierce scowl painted across his face;
“You have five minutes to explain what the hell happened out there before I sign you both up for a marathon!”
“You know, that threat is getting kind of old- “
“Josten!” Andrew sighed
“Jackie doesn’t know that friendly fire is prohibited. So, I reminded him”
“With your knife?”
“Jesus Christ, that kid will get himself killed eventually. How are your ribs Josten?” Neil pressed a tentative two fingers to the place Jack hit him with the racquet
“They’re okay, not cracked and hardly bruised” he reported.
“Go see Abby anyway”
“Yes Coach.” The idiot slunk off in the direction of the nurse’s office grumbling.
The rest of practice was rather uneventful. Jack returned after twenty minutes looking rather sheepish and started to run the raven cone drill by himself in the corner. Soon enough it was time to change out and leave. Neil was all ready, leaning back against the lockers, holding ice to his ribs. Andrew let his eyes narrow. Before he could check the wound for himself Neil held his arm up.
“Abby said that I’m okay, this is just a precaution” some tension melted out of Andrew’s shoulders. “Go shower, I’ll wait” Andrew rolled his eyes, obviously , and hit the showers.
“Y’know, you didn’t have to do that” Neil said, his eyes following the strip of skin on Andrew’s abdomen rapidly disappearing from view as he pulled on his shirt. Andrew paused and raised an eyebrow at him, just a slight twitch, before pushing his face away.
“Staring, idiot. I don’t do anything I don’t want to do”
“Thought you didn’t want anything”
“Now you’re getting it”
“I could’ve handled Jack”
“I see that” he nodded towards the ice pack.
“I told you this was nothing.”
“The brat was annoying me” he finished the conversation simply.
“So, you tried to remove him with witnesses around? Okay tygrysku”
Tygrysku. Tiger. It had to be. Andrew slammed his locker shut and whipped towards Neil
“Did you just call me a fucking tiger?” Neil’s grin grew wider.
“Oh, you got one!”
“Shut the fuck up.” He couldn’t stop the tips of his ears turning red and he hated it. What a stupid name. A name he guessed, so perhaps the game was finally over then. “What language is it then?” Neil laughed, his head tossing back and the line of his throat bobbing. Andrew wanted to rip his throat out with his teeth, or just place a mark there. He’d decide later.
“Oh no, I’m not telling you”
“I’ll look it up”
“Good luck, most languages have a similar word for tiger. I gave you that one”
“I’m going to kill you- “
“Aw but then you’d be terribly bored;” Neil stood and grabbed his bag, heading for the door before pausing and turning towards him. “Come back when you figure it out on your own, Tygrysku” his tone turned teasing and he was already out of the door when Andrew’s trainer hit the locker room door.
It was a fine day. They had classes, went to practice and with the incoming weekend, The Foxes had settled down in the girls’ room for their regular ‘bonding’ nights. Andrew didn’t despise them, there were usually snacks involved. Sometimes alcohol. There was also the added bonus of getting to watch Neil’s eyes widen parallel to the action, lit up by the light from the tv. So, movie nights were okay. As much as Andrew hated to admit it, he and Neil now had an armchair. In which they sat together to watch the movies. It was the best seat in the room, naturally, and somewhere along the line it became ‘their’ chair. Neil was pressed in against the forest green plush with Andrew leaning against him. This way he could easily get up if he needed to move, it was convenient.
Most of the time, Andrew couldn’t care less about the movie his idiot teammates chose and this time wasn’t much different. Some unrealistic rom com in which the mediocre white man scores a woman way out of his league through the power of extremely uncomfortable public display of conventional romance. It was bullshit honestly, and with the way Neil’s nose had wrinkled when the main character made an unnecessary gesture, he thought so too. Something in Andrew’s chest dislodged at the realisation that he and the junkie had similar tastes.
So, the movie was boring, and practice had been long. The line of Neil’s body against his felt like a solid comfort, paired with the body heat radiating off him Andrew had to admit that he was…comfortable. Not enough to sleep but enough so to relax slightly. This was fine, he knew the Foxes would not harm him and Neil was at his back, so he allowed for his shoulders to drop a little.
That had been a mistake.
Just as the mediocre man met eyes with his love interest towards the end of the movie, the background started to blast a cheesy pop song from the top 40 chart at the time.
Sticky summer air, heavy in his mouth, clinging to his skin, dragging him down.
Warm. So warm. Why is he warm?
A weight pressing against him. That song, playing on the radio downstairs in the kitchen.
Hands on his hip, his sides, his thighs. Touching. Grabbing. Squeezing. Pulling.
Someone was calling him. Who was that?
That’s him, right? The weight was still there. He needed to get away, to pull away
No, no its useless it never works,
He needs to leave
His eyes snap open,
“the movie is over.”
He takes in the room. Sure enough. He’s in the stupid armchair and Neil had folded his legs up to create an inch of space between them and the Foxes are staring, and he can still feel nails scraping down his thighs and the taste of blood on the roof of his mouth.
He can vaguely feel himself standing up. Then, he feels the cool doorknob against his palm. Then, the hallway wall. The carpet. Why is he on the floor? He was supposed to go back to his room. Damn it, why was nothing working how it was supposed to?
There’s a small thud next to him on the carpet and a flash of auburn. Neil makes sure to leave some space between them, and he hates it, always so fucking considerate-
He tries to move back, the voice too close for comfort. The carpet makes a noise of protest and Neil doesn’t try to move closer. Instead, he tries,
“You’re Andrew Minyard. Number 3 Goalie for the Palmetto University Foxes. You here, in Fox Tower. You are safe. I am Neil Josten, number 10 starting striker. You are here with me.”
The mention of stickball makes his tongue feel heavy and his nose scrunch in disgust. Neil lets out a little chuckle that might’ve made Andrew’s heart do something weird if he wasn’t floating in and out of presence right now.
“You are twenty-two years old. You study Criminal Justice. You’re safe. C’mon Andrew. You’re hurting yourself”
Oh, that explains the stinging in his scalp. He slowly pulls his hands away and finds blood crusted under his nails. Fuck.
“It’s okay… you’re okay… You’re okay Myszko…” Andrew’s eyes snapped to Neil’s. He hadn’t even noticed when breathing stopped feeling like an impossible task. Blue eyes softened in an unbearable way as Neil sat back on his heels. Andrew let himself stay in his position for a while longer, sliding his hands to the rough carpet, feeling the coarse threads against the pads of his fingers. There’s a slight pain in his spine from the rough wall he was leaning against. His tongue still feels heavy, but a couple attempts to unstick it from the roof of his mouth prove successful.
“What? Oh” that damn chuckle again “Yeah… I um. I had the others stay with the girls. Do you want to go back to our room?”
Our room. Shared. Other people. But…his bed. Neil always listened.
“Do you want my help standing Yes or No”
“Yes. “He felt like lead all over. A hand appeared right in front of his face and when he took it his skin found familiar scars and puckers. Neil’s hands. Neil’s safe hands, pulling him up and helping him walk and closing the door. The mattress under him was very soft but Neil chose the beanbag chair instead. He was good like that. Annoying, but good.
“I texted Nicky and Kevin to stay with the girls or Matt tonight” See? Good.
“Do you want to get changed?” He should. Shouldn’t he? But everything was still too heavy, and his hands were still. Fucking shaking. So, he shook his head. Neil nodded and headed into the bathroom so that he could. In the silence, it was easier to take a little bit of time to run his fingers over the soft bedsheet, twist his fingers into the matching pillow. He carefully tossed Neil’s pillow onto the bean bag chair. Not tonight. With his breathing evened out and the memories fuzzy and further away, bone deep fatigue set in. He quickly pulled the covers up over his head and moved as far back towards the wall as possible.
The door to the bathroom opened and Neil did not hesitate before grabbing his pillow and climbing into the top bunk. The room was shrouded in darkness and silence for a while before Neil’s voice broke it.
“My mum used to call me that. Before, when she still had the patience to comfort. But um, she would hold me in her lap then, and stroke my hair while I cried. So, it reminds me of comfort and you…looked like you could use some. It, snapped you out of it”
Andrew processed his words for a while.
“Never…been called it” He simply stated, and Neil hummed. Just as he could feel Neil shifting in the bed above him, he spoke out into the darkness.
“It was the song.”
Soon after, sleep took over, thankfully blessing him only with Neil, shaking and scared, gentle hands soothing him. Andrew’s hands.
It’s officially been almost a month since the first mystery pet name and Andrew was still at a ratio of one solved to three mysteries. Just when things had seemed to slow down, Neil of course had to throw a wrench into things.
“Have a good day Misiu-Pysiu!” His voice had raised almost an octave and that was suspicious enough to raise every alarm in Andrew’s head. Whatever this new pet name was, Andrew felt that he would hate it more than any other one all the way in his bones. He pointed a finger at Neil.
“Oh? Have you worked it out?”
“Not yet. But I can tell it’s annoying.” The other man just grinned wider, confirming Andrew’s suspicions, so he grabbed his bag. “Whatever, I have class. Do not burn the dorm down.”
“I would never!” He says with a hand over his chest, though you can hardly trust a liar with no survival instinct. He scanned the kitchen, making sure the fire extinguisher was present and turned to the rabbit.
“…Kevin is in charge.” If he was anyone else, he might have grinned at the way Neil gasped. And some say that Andrew was the dramatic one.
“I cannot believe you have no faith in me! Kevin is- “He didn’t hear the end of that because the door was already closing as he made his way to the elevator.
The walk to his Psychology of Crime class was a short one and it conveniently led past the only coffeeshop on campus that had his coffee order memorised. The sweet flavour mixed with caffeine hit his tastebuds quickly and made the unrelenting sunshine a little more bearable.
He was almost at the entrance to the psychology building when a girl walked past him. Andrew was not usually in the business of noticing girls of any kind, but what caught his attention was the conversation she was holding over the phone. Or what Andrew could only assume was a conversation because it was in an entirely different language. The girl had laughed and then said:
“Tak, Na siódmą. Pa, Skarbie.”
Skarbie . That was the first mystery word Neil had used on him weeks ago. He pivoted on his heels and followed the girl, aiming to ask her what it meant. This was his only chance at discovering the truth. As much as he hated to admit it, he just could not manage to figure out the words on his own, not with the absolute bare minimum he had to go on. The girl had started to walk faster which was highly inconvenient because now Andrew had to almost run after her, dressed entirely in black in the warm sunshine. She rounded the corner and Andrew went after her, barely managing to skid to a stop as he almost bumped into her, holding up a cannister of pepper spray up.
“Stop following me! Leave me alone!” she yelled and Oh . Yes, he could see how this could have looked suspicious. He held his hands up and stepped back a little bit.
“I’m not going to assault you” he said, hoping that this cleared things up for her. Her eyes just narrowed further. Her hands shook a little bit, too close to the pepper spray button.
“Well why were you following me?” She demanded though her voice was shaking. Andrew did not usually believe in regret but he did feel a little bad at placing this stranger in such an upsetting situation. He tried to keep his voice calm.
“I wanted to ask you what language you were speaking.” She scoffed,
“Well, you picked a creepy way to do it”
“Will you tell me?” He pressed on, curiosity winning over the prospect of getting pepper sprayed.
“Are you going to attack me?” why would he-
“Sounds like something a xenophobe would say” He really misjudged this situation quite heavily,
“I am not a xenophobe” He stated, trying to sound convincing but ending up kind of flimsy. He would have to get rid of any witnesses to this most awkward of interactions. Andrew Minyard was not a name associated with awkwardness.
“…Fine. It was Polish”
Polish? Why on earth would Neil be speaking Polish of all languages. Andrew took a geography class at some point in high school; he knew where Poland was on the map though Neil never mentioned visiting it during his life on the run. That just left another question lingering on the tip of his tongue.
“What was that last word you said? The Sk- one”
“Skarbie? Its just a pet name for my boyfriend. Its like… treasure. Or dear”
Fuck. His suspicions were correct, they were pet names.
Neil was calling him pet names, like in a couple.
Neil called him treasure . Like he was worth something. Like he was precious.
This revelation set him aflame in a way he didn’t quite have the words for.
The girl’s voice pulled him out of his thoughts reminding him that he is still being held at gunpoint or… spray point.
“Are you done? Are you going to leave me the fuck alone or do I have to pepper spray your ass? I took a self-defense class” The sharpness in her tone was undercut but another lightbulb going off within his mind,
“Class. I’m late for class.” He backed away and headed back towards the psychology building. In the background he heard her yell.
“Well fuck you too! Damn, what a weird man” Well, he’s had worse than being called weird, that’s for sure. His pride was rather bruised and he hoped no one saw that interaction go down. He was pretty sure none of the Foxes were anywhere near this part of campus. This did not stop an uncomfortable itch forming at the back of his neck, prickling like there was someone staring at him.
His professors voice moved through the room as they discussed the latest reading but he was stuck on one thing, turning it over and over in his mind like a shiny piece of sea glass.
He burst out of that class faster than he had ever before and made an easy detour to the library. He picked through the different language aisles before finally setting on Eastern Europe. There were a couple dictionaries on Polish as well as an intro into learning the language so he checked out all of them just to be safe. He technically had another class in twenty minutes but there were priorities in life and he had already read the required textbook in advance during a very long ride for an away game. The most important thing was that Neil had classes right now that he probably would attend, so the dorm was empty and ready for some research. This stupid puzzle would finally unfold.
First of all, Polish was hard. Hard and complicated, a little like Neil himself. There were a whole bunch of endings that only fit in certain contexts and these seemed to be move like a roulette wheel. He had the most luck with attempting to associate the root words with the pet names Neil used. One of the dictionaries had clear anglicised pronunciation guides which helped quite a bit.
First, he checked for the Treasure word, to make sure the girl had not been fucking with him as punishment for giving her a fright.
He flicked through his notebook for the other words he had written down with his own clunky phonetics. The intro to the language was actually very helpful with all the different sounds letters in Polish made so he easily made a couple adjustments here and there. Soon enough he flicked to the next word.
Frog? Neil was calling him a frog? Idiot. The next word was Tiger which Andrew had guessed in the moment. The word after that meant mouse. A lot of these pet names were animal related and frankly ridiculous. He contemplated burying Neil in the ongoing construction site at campus though he deemed it useless as it would just make some innocent builders’ life harder. He frowned and started to flick through the English to Polish dictionary, attempting to find something to retaliate with.
He didn’t have time to confront Neil about the pet names as afternoon practice came just after Neil’s classes so Andrew had to wait until they returned to the dorms. By the time he went to retrieve his notebook Neil was settled into the couch, a recent Trojan game playing on the tv. Junkie, they just came home from practice.
He stepped in front of the tv deliberately to make sure all of Neil’s attention was on him. It worked, the striker turned the volume down quickly and looked at Andrew.
“What’s going on?” his head tilted and the light from the game illuminated the side of his face in a way that made him look moonlit even with all the curtains drawn. Andrew’s eye twitched in annoyance, it was unfair.
“You’re an idiot.”
“Tell me something new.” Andrew gritted his teeth
“You make my life so much harder,”
“okay-?” He holds a finger up, indicating to Neil to not continue his answer. He fumbles with his notebook, the writing much harder to make out in the darkness.
“You make my life so much harder….” He frows a little, “kró-li-cz-ku.” He hoped his pronunciation was correct, though judging by Neil’s reaction it was. His lip’s part, pretty and plump and as pink as the flush painting itself across his cheeks and down his neck like he’s some perfect animation. Andrew is stuck with the tips of his ears and the back of his neck flaming uncomfortably.
“Oh.” His voice is stuttered and light, like the breath in his lungs had been knocked out of him. The space between them had grown heavy and syrupy so Andrew crossed his arms over his chest and inquires,
“Polish?” Neil blinks and looks away, pressing his hand against the back of his neck.
“Oh, yeah. It’s from my- it’s Nathan’s side. Wesninsky. “He isn’t looking at Andrew but his eyes are very clearly fogging slightly. He clears his throat, like he’s trying to bring himself back and drags those blue eyes back to meet hazel ones. “It’s almost…reclaiming in a way? Using a language I only remember my father swearing at me in, for something nicer.”
“For ridiculous pet names.” This boy would be the death of him. Neil had helped Andrew with replacing a couple of his own dark memories, and the concept of Neil wanting to allow the reverse to occur, in a way so personal, was…different. Not abhorrent. He hadn’t answered the previous question, though it was mostly a statement anyway. So, he tried to push a little further, knowing Neil would stop him if he went too far.
“I couldn’t find the last one. The one you called me this morning”
“What, Misiu-Pysiu?” Andrew nodded and was met with Neil’s cheeks burning further. His shoulders shook a little bit with a laughter Andrew did not like one bit. Neil leaned back against the couch cushions
“It’s the equivalent of… honey-bunny but literally translates to like, yummy-bear-OW” Good, he deserved the remote hitting him square in the chest. Stupid rabbit. Absolute idiot, Andrew could not believe that this is the dumbass he decided to waste his time with.
“Yes, or No?”
“Yes?” Andrew felt a muscle in his jaw twitch as he promptly sat himself on Neil’s thighs, holding onto his shoulders for balance. Neil’s eyes widened, hovering his fingers over his waist until Andrew nodded, then settling them down right in the dip between his ribs and hips.
“You’re a fucking idiot, I hate you. I’m going to bury you in the field with no place marker.” He muttered darkly, pressing his lips to the side of his neck. Neil squirmed,
“but, the game- “Andrew let his eyes narrow further, squeezing Neil’s shoulders pointedly
“fuck the game.” He leaned in, stopping just short of his lips “yes or no junkie?”
The tv shut off quickly
“ Yes ”
Their lips met. Neil melted so quickly, keeping his hands firmly on Andrew’s waist, gasping in every kiss. This should probably move from the couch in the main room before Kevin walked in on something that would scar his delicate sensibilities. Andrew pushed himself up and held his hand out.
“Come on then, Króliczku.” He wanted to test if a second use of the pet name would get Neil blushing the same way it did the first time. It did. He recovered quicker though and laced his fingers with Andrew’s
“Lead the way, lisku.” He whispered. Upon Andrew’s blank stare, he grinned and supplied. “Little fox.”
“You ruin everything.” He inclined his head to kiss the spot where their hands were tangled together. Neil’s eyes brightened at this, mischief bleeding back into his expression.
“Also, you’d only use króliczku when you’re speaking directly to me about me, if you just want to call me a bunny in a noun sense, then you want to just say króliczek- “
Andrew tugged at his hand harshly, making him stumble over a pillow.