Hey, that fic about andrew in car accident was amazing!!! Could you please write hurt/comfort: You’re burning up + andreil (with sick andrew) ?
(Lord have mercy it took me FOREVER to get around to writing this! Anonymous I hope you are still out there and I’m sorry and I hope you like this!)
Brief but not explicit mentions of some troubling things from Andrew’s past, including Drake.
Neil’s duffle bag is on the floor outside he and Andrew’s room. There’s no note, no texts from Andrew. Neil tries the door but it’s locked.
“Oh, baby, what did you do?” Nicky asks. He hangs over Neil’s shoulder, his breath smelling like coffee.
“Nothing,” Neil mutters, elbowing Nicky off. He picks up his duffle and just stands there wondering. He hasn’t seen Andrew since this morning. They hadn’t fought the night before in fact it had been a really nice night. Andrew had even given him a small peck on the forehead when he left the dorm early to go running before class. So why? Why was his stuff out here? Why was he being shut out?
Aaron shoved by him, sending Neil crashing against the wall.
“Looks like the honeymoon’s over,” Aaron smirked. It was a very unpleasant expression. “Not that I’m surprised. After all Andrew’s just—”
“Aaron,” Neil cuts him off, his glare as sharp as Andrew’s knives, “shut up. And fuck off.”
Aaron snorts and flips Neil off before going to his room. Neil drags his duffle out to the common area where Kevin’s watching an exy game and doing pushups.
“Andrew kicked me out,” Neil says, taking a seat on the floor next to Kevin. He’s not really watching the game; he’s too busy trying to figure out why he’s been exiled.
“Fix it,” Kevin pants. His gaze doesn’t waver from the screen and his movements don’t pause. “We have practice.”
Neil nods but it’s only to placate Kevin. He knows Andrew and if this was really about him then he’s fairly certain Andrew would have said something. Leaving his stuff in the hall is too passive aggressive for Andrew. Locking himself in the room isn’t a typical Andrew play, either. If Andrew were pissed he would continue with his routine while giving Neil the cold shoulder. No, this has to be something else.
“I’m going to go talk to Renee.” Kevin doesn’t even acknowledge that Neil has spoken. This Neil thinks to himself is why Dan is captain, not you.
Renee and Allison are hanging out, perched in the windows, making commentary on the students walking on the sideways below them. Well, Allison is making commentary and Renee is trying to stop her from being mean. It’s a lost cause.
“Here he is! Ladies and ladies, may I present the Walking Wound Man of Palmetto State, the Stone Cold Survivor, Neil Josten!” Allison’s loud enough that the students outside look up at the window.
“Shhh!” Renee tries to shush Allison but she’s laughing too much. Neil shakes his head but lets Allison pull him into a side hug.
“Hey babe, what’s up? You come to hang out with the foxiest ladies in all of South Carolina, no, all of the world?” Allison plants a messy, boozy kiss on his cheek. Neil isn’t sure why Allison is day drinking but at least she’s in a happy place.
“I was wondering if Andrew went to class today.”
Allison wrinkles her nose and shakes her head. “One track mind, Josten, not attractive.”
“He wasn’t in class with me,” Renee offers, “but he texted me and said that he would need notes later. And homework. I haven’t seen him all day.”
“I haven’t either,” Allison comments, “but I try to avoid the twins at all costs.”
“Okay, thanks,” Neil starts heading for the door, “I’ve got to go… do some stuff. Allison, you’ll be sober tonight?”
Allison makes a raspberry and snorts, “As sober as Day. You’re not the boss of me yet, Neil.”
Neil nods and hurries out the door while he still can. Dan is going to have her hands full tonight.
He waits until his other suite mates have left for dinner before knocking on the bedroom door. He squats outside, ear pressed to the wood, listening for movement. There’s nothing.
“Andrew? Hey, babe, you going to let me in?” Nothing. “Kevin, Nicky, and Aaron went to dinner. It’s just me.” Nothing. Neil tries knocking again. Nothing. He calls Andrew’s cell. Nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing. Now he’s starting to get a little panicked because Andrew doesn’t play the silent game, not like this. There’s a very real possibility that he can’t come to the door and Neil starts mentally running through a list of awful scenarios, starting with the worst: what if he’s dead? The thought, unlikely as it is, won’t be ignored.
“Andrew? I’m unlocking the door, okay?” His fingers are shaking as he gets the key in the lock.
The room is dark, the blinds closed and all the lights off. Neil flicks on a desk light and closes the door behind him. There’s a lump in Andrew’s bed. It’s not moving.
Neil tiptoes across the room, wary of waking Andrew if he’s asleep. They’ve come a long way but Andrew still reacts badly to being woken.
The blankets are pulled up over Andrew’s head, only tufts of blond hair peek out from below the heavy comforter. Neil hovers over the bed, trying to determine if Andrew is breathing.
“Andrew?” His voice is loud, not a shout but above normal talking volume. “Andrew Minyard if you’re alive, move! Or something.” He almost says please but he catches himself in time. There’s no movement so he moves on to more extreme measures, touching Andrew’s shoulder.
This produces a stunningly violent reaction. Andrew grabs Neil’s wrist, bending it back almost to the point of breaking. Although the grab was fast, the rest of his reactions are slower and he doesn’t look right…
“Andrew! God, it’s me! Neil. Shit, you’re hurting my wrist, Andrew.”
“Neil?” Andrew’s voice is hoarse and sluggish. He blinks slowly and wavers before releasing Neil and falling back onto the bed. “Thought I locked the door.”
Neil kneels on the bed next to Andrew. “You did. What’s up with that?” Andrew’s shivering violently, trying to pull the blankets back up around his face. Neil helps him and his fingers brush Andrew’s skin. “Oh my God, Andrew! You’re burning up.”
Andrew coughs weakly. “It’s just a fever. I’ll be fine.”
“What?” Neil grabs a bottle of water from his desk and hands it to Andrew. “That’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever said.”
“Just… using… your line,” Andrew mutters. His eyes are closed and Neil presses his palm to Andrew’s forehead, the heat coming off him is unreal.
“Well, I’m stupid, you’ve always said that,” Neil replies. “We’ve gotta get your fever down. How long has it been like this? Andrew?”
Andrew’s almost asleep again but he opens his eyes enough to glare at Neil. “I didn’t feel good this morning. That’s why I put your stuff out. So you don’t catch it.”
“Oh for fuck’s—” Neil fumes. He’s trying to remember every home remedy he and his mother used for treating fevers.
“Neil,” Andrew’s voice is weak and it makes Neil want to panic. Andrew is never weak. “Relax. I Googled this. Rest and fluids. See, I’m resting and,” he shakes the water bottle, “fluids. You’re keeping me from resting. Go away.”
“No.” Neil climbs back onto the bed, peering at Andrew like he can magically make him better just by being close to him.
“Ugh. Fuck off,” Andrew groans and covers his face up with blankets.
“Fine.” Neil slides off the bed but he doesn’t move from his post. He studies his phone, reading all the articles he can about fevers and related illness. He’s upset that there’s nothing he can do to help, Andrew’s already taking care of it just by sleeping and drinking. After a while he gives up and pulls a chair over. He can’t see Andrew, can’t touch him, all he can do is be there.
The minutes pass by slowly but Neil doesn’t really notice. He’s thinking about Andrew locking him out, about Andrew getting sick. He wants to ask Nicky what Andrew’s done before. As long as he’s know Andrew the sturdy goalkeeper has never gotten sick. Andrew has always been strong and reliable that way. Even after Drake, Andrew didn’t care about his wellbeing; he was too focused on Aaron. Neil hates that about Andrew, hates that the man he loves more than anything does so little to take care of himself. Like locking Neil out to keep him from catching whatever illness is wreaking havoc on Andrew’s immune system… god, Neil can’t believe it took him so long to figure it out.
When the guys come back from dinner Neil leaves his post, ready to get some answers from Nicky or Aaron. Both guys are in their room, arguing about movies and actors, until they see Neil. He’s annoyed that they aren’t immediately concerned about Andrew. He’s annoyed that both of them assumed that Andrew was fine and that he and Neil had fought. The amount of concern that either of them gives to their family is so lacking that it making Neil furious.
“Andrew’s sick,” Neil states, arms crossed over his chest, glaring at Nicky, then Aaron.
“No he’s not,” Aaron says dismissively. “Andrew doesn’t get sick.”
Nicky’s slightly more apologetic. “Really, Neil, he doesn’t. I’ve never had to take him to the doctor for being sick, I don’t think he’s ever gone to Abby, either.”
It takes all of Neil’s self-restraint not to yell. “You two are both assholes, you know that? Andrew has a fever of 101.2 right now!” He’s totally making that part up, but they don’t know that. “That’s why he’s been locked in the room all day, he doesn’t want to get us sick by spreading his germs.”
“The only germs he has he probably got from you!” Aaron’s voice is ugly, the unspoken accusation is uglier.
“Okay! Everyone calm the fuck down!” Nicky yells, getting between Aaron and Neil. “Aaron, you’re out of line. Neil, I totally believe you but what do you want us to do about it?”
“I just want…” Neil waves his hands over his head, feeling more worked up than he has in a long time. “I just want you to care. He’s been in there, alone, all day. Because that’s how he knows to take care of himself, by shutting himself up where he’s safe and no one can get to him. Do you get that? What do you think happened when he got sick as a kid? And he couldn’t—” Neil chokes on a sob and sits down hard, his back to the door. He didn’t mean to say that, didn’t mean to spout out the thoughts that have been torturing him, especially not to them.
Nicky and Aaron look ill, both of them exchange an uneasy look that says that they’ve tried not to think about Andrew’s childhood, especially after they all found out about Drake. Andrew won’t talk about it but Neil knows, he knows it was horrible.
“Neil,” Nicky reaches for him but Neil pulls away. “Neil, we didn’t know.” Neil snorts. The amount that Nicky and Aaron didn’t know, still don’t know, is unforgiveable.
Neil gets to his feet, brushes off his running shorts. “Whatever. You know now. Do better next time. Or don’t. Fuck you both.” He doesn’t slam the door on the way out because he doesn’t want it to accidentally wake Andrew.
He ignores Kevin on the way to the kitchen and grabs more waters and a bendy straw. He should probably eat but he’s too amped up from fighting with Nicky and Aaron and he wants to be with Andrew, just in case he wakes up.
Andrew is still sleeping so Neil settles back in the desk chair to wait, skimming over his textbooks but not really retaining what he reads. He ignores Kevin’s summons to attend practice, locking the door so the big striker won’t disturb Andrew. Around eleven Andrew wakes up and Neil hands him an opened bottle of water with a straw. Andrew rolls his eyes at the gesture but he still accepts it, chewing on the straw while he thirstily drinks almost the entire bottle.
“Are you hungry?” Neil asks. “We’ve got tomato soup I could heat up.”
Andrew shakes his head and leans back on the pillows. “You should go sleep on the couch.”
“Whatever.” Neil’s been resting half on the bed, arms folded on the blankets, head pillowed in the crook of his arm. “If I haven’t caught what you have yet then I’m not going to. Besides, the guys already think you hate me because you threw my stuff out.”
Andrew smirks a little. “I did not. If you opened your bag you would see that I nicely folded your clothes and put them in there.”
“Hmm. Yeah, we both know how good you are at riffling through people’s drawers.”
“You always have to bring that up.”
“Well.” Neil plucks at the blankets. He’s glad Andrew’s talking but he’s still worried and messed up about everything else. It’s taking a good deal of effort to keep his thoughts to himself; Andrew doesn’t need that burden now, maybe not ever.
“Neil.” Andrew’s fingers are in his hair and that feels nice, so nice that Neil thinks he could fall asleep just like this. “Junkie.” Neil turns his head to the side so he can see Andrew. His face is still flushed and his eyes are bright. Fever. “Either get on the bed or sleep on the floor. Sleeping in a chair is bad for your back.”
Neil doesn’t wait for Andrew to rescind his offer. He scoots onto the bed, still wearing his practice clothes. He snuggles in, but not too close. Andrew’s already overheated and he doesn’t need Neil’s body heat adding to it. Neil holds out his hand and Andrew takes it.
“Your hands are cold,” Andrew yawns.
“Mmmm,” Neil hums. “Your hands are hot.”
“They’re always like that.”
Neil huffs a quiet laugh and shifts around a bit more until he’s settled. He feels warm from the heat radiating off Andrew and he feels safe, but more than that he feels wanted and accepted. Andrew Minyard is a champion at pushing people away but for once he’s reaching out to pull someone closer. Neil doesn’t know how he got so lucky but he’s holding on and never letting go.