Oh so that's the list you've been taking prompts from!! Could you maybe write number 36 for andreil, only if you feel like it, thanks for all the amazing prompts!!
36: “I really need a hug.” (thank youuu, sorry this took so long !)
The parking lot is overly busy when they get there, cars and pedestrians following each other around corners, false starts and almost collisions and flaring reverse lights streaking together. Neil watches Andrew drive, one self-assured hand draped over the wheel.
He passes him the cigarette they’re sharing and Andrew closes his eyes as he inhales, ignoring the shriek of a horn when he cuts someone off blind.
“I’ve never trusted airports,” Neil muses, watching Andrew negotiate the Maserati into the middle of two parking spots.
Andrew hums. “You don’t trust anywhere that has security guards.”
“They didn’t trust me,” Neil corrects. He can feel a smile winding his face up. Andrew cuts the engine and opens the door.
“Were your passports government issued?”
“Not at the time.”
Andrew shoots him a look as he hops down onto the asphalt.
“Wait up,” Neil calls, listening to the slick beep of the lock before he’s even shut the passenger door.
He falls into step with Andrew halfway across the stretch of road to the airport’s automatic doors, and he takes lazy pleasure in the way their steps match up. People glance to and away from them, and the doors open like they’re hurrying out of their way.
“They on time?” Neil asks, scanning the arrivals column on the nearest screen. The airport has the strangest smell: floor cleaner and a thousand people’s lingering perfume. It reminds him of heading off to the nest for Christmas, and of his mothers nails slicing the skin of his neck to keep him close and hunched in the bustle.
“Early,” Andrew says, and Neil sees them — just beyond the arrivals gate with their arms flailing. Neil waves back while Andrew surveys the reuniting families with practiced detachment.
“You actually came!” Nicky says in loud German. Erik holds the waist-high gate open for Nicky but he doesn’t seem to notice. “I almost bet against you!”
“He did,” Erik confirms, smiling broadly, leonine. “But I try not to bet.”
“Nice to see you,” Neil says politely, and they’re close enough now that he has a slipping moment of doubt, like grabbing a glass you didn’t know was wet.
Nicky gathers Neil in his arms without hesitation, and Neil goes board-stiff for a second. Or maybe longer, because Andrew tugs him physically out of Nicky’s embrace.
Nicky looks a little stricken, but he makes a heroic effort to overcome it. “Sorry to pounce.”
“It’s fine,” Neil says quickly. “I wasn’t expecting it.”
Nicky smiles warmly at that, and reaches out to squeeze his wrist. His eyes bounce and stick on Andrew, who’s still watching Neil.
“And my favourite cousin,” Nicky says. “Thanks for coming.”
Andrew doesn’t try to appease Nicky, and Nicky doesn’t try to touch Andrew. He looks back at Erik with eye-rolling fondness instead.
“This is like a reenactment of my entire senior year at Palmetto, Erik. Skittish Neil and unresponsive Andrew.”
“It’s like I’m there,” Erik says drily, plucking Nicky’s bags from his waving arms before he can hit someone.
They’re wearing matching jackets, Neil notes. One orange and grey and one blue and grey, the sort of spandex monstrosity you’d wear to go jogging or hiking. They’re always texting the group pictures of themselves doing both of those things and alternately kissing at waterfalls.
“Are you guys coming to Dan and Matt’s tonight?” Neil asks, blocking the way when Andrew tries to physically leave the conversation.
“Okay, obviously, Neil,” Nicky says. “Do you know what a rehearsal dinner is?”
“No,” Andrew answers for him.
“Yes,” Neil says narrowly.
“God help us.” Nicky hoists his carryon back out of Erik’s hand and walks backwards towards baggage claim. “The first fox wedding, though. Bound to be a shitshow.”
“Don’t say that,” Erik chides, following him.
Andrew walks in the opposite direction and Neil stalls, unsure who to follow.
Nicky huffs. “Follow your boy. But I’m still waiting for you to hug me like you mean it.”
“Maybe when you leave again,” Neil says, prickling with affection at Nicky’s overdramatic expression. “See you at the car.”
“I don’t know where you’re parked!” Nicky protests.
“Outside,” Neil calls back.
“Useless! Both of you!”
He catches up with Andrew again and feels fingers come up to his wrist as soon as he falls in beside him. “Do I need to have a conversation with him?”
“Who, Nicky?” Neil says, confused.
Andrew looks pointedly down at Neil’s chest and away.
“The hug? He just caught me off guard. You know he’s not a problem, Andrew, come on.”
“Do I know that,” Andrew asks flatly.
“Yes,” Neil says, firm. “It’s just— sudden contact. Contact is difficult. Nicky isn’t.”
“No,” Andrew agrees.
“And t’s a weekend of partying,” Neil continues. “It won’t be the last time I get hugged.”
Andrew gives him a longer, more focused look that says he wishes it was.
“You don’t hesitate when you’re underneath me,” Andrew says, and even though it’s utterly emotionless, Neil’s ears go hot. “But you can’t hug Nicky.”
“That’s different,” Neil hisses.
“How? For some unfathomable reason, you trust Nicky,” Andrew says.
“Trust only carries me so far,” Neil argues. “You—“ he stalls when they come through the doors of the airport and the air gets quiet. “It’s different. With you.”
Andrew shrugs, crossing the street without looking to see if cars are coming or Neil is following.
Neil huffs and jogs after him again.
It bothers him for the rest of the day, that little piece of confusion. Why is it so easy with Andrew? Why does it feel so much like my skin’s coming away when my own friends hug me?
He’s still getting used to actually wanting affection, even after years sharing the same space and trading truths.
It’s different, he tells himself. And Andrew’s voice, cool and grey as morning air, asks how?