could you do 52 "i don't think he loves me anymore" with some angst? + andreil
Dan gets home late from her coaching gig on Tuesday night, and they eat thai takeaway over styrofoam containers and cheap wine.
The TV’s the only light in the room, and it’s almost like the flicker of a fireplace, if they don’t look at it directly. Dan’s laughing and smooching stray noodle off of Matt’s cheek when there’s a knock on the door.
They make faces at each other. “It’s 10 pm,” Dan says. “This had better be life or death.”
Matt groans. “Don’t tempt fate.” He struggles out of the couch and passes his ginger beef off to Dan. “5 bucks says it’s Allison back from Guadala-whatever. Timezones mean nothing to her.”
“Bet denied. You know gambling isn’t the same when we have a joint bank account,” Dan complains and Matt laughs, dodging their side table and heading for the front door. He busily cracks open all of their locks and rattles the door until it unsticks.
“Hey!” he says, surprised. Neil’s scuffing their doormat with the toe of his shoe, dressed in old PSU colours. “A house call from Neil Josten, what an honour,” he jokes. Half-jokes. A visit from Neil is a confession that he missed you enough to actually do something about it.
Neil looks up at him blankly, and something is so obviously wrong that it shakes Matt. He takes silent note of the bag slung over his shoulder, the mottled redness of his eyes and face.
“Allison?” Dan calls, and Matt shakes his head without thinking.
“Neil,” he replies softly.
“Get out of town,” Dan says, voice getting louder as she floats towards them. She appears at Matt’s shoulder and grins. “Well if it isn’t our favourite competition.”
Neil usually says something obnoxious about Matt’s team not even counting as competition, but this time his mouth stays thin and snapped shut. Matt and Dan exchange a loaded glance.
“I need to ask you a favour,” Neil says finally.
“Anything,” Matt says.
“I need to stay somewhere,” Neil says, and Matt watches him gather himself like he’s finding his balance on a slick of ice.
“Where’s Andrew,” Dan says slowly. Neil looks at her, and then at Matt. He hasn’t seemed quite this small since he first showed up at the foxhole court with all his lies clenched between his teeth.
“I can find somewhere else,” Neil says, already turning to go. Matt catches him by the strap of his duffel.
“Oh no you don’t. We’ve got a couch with your name on it.”
“If Matt hasn’t destroyed it with peanut sauce,” Dan chirps. Neil looks back and forth between them again, his face in knots. Matt bodily pulls him over the threshold.
“You don’t have to tell us anything you don’t want to. We get how it is.” He looks over at Dan and she’s already nodding.
“Thanks,” Neil says, and he drops his bag heavily just inside the door. He eyes the TV. “What were you watching?”
“Not exy,” Dan replies. “You might have heard of it.” She flops back onto her side of the couch and tucks her feet under herself. Matt settles down opposite and watches Neil perch on the armchair like it’s made of something sharp.
“We can change it?”
Neil shakes his head, and his eyes drop. Matt feels metaphorical eggshells crunching under his heels. It’s never been this uneasy with Neil, even when they first met.
Neil picks at his armbands until he seems to realize what he’s doing, and he reaches under the sleeves of his hoodie to peel them off altogether. Dan shoots Matt a frantic look.
“Not to pry,” Dan starts, “but do you need us to call anyone?”
He looks up. “Like who?”
“Like…” she looks at Matt. “Your coach? Nicky, maybe? Kevin?”
“How would they help me?” Neil says flatly.
“Man, your Andrew impression is killer,” Matt grits, nerves pricking with frustration. Neil’s expression goes tight, distorted like canvas stretched to fit an oversized frame.