One of the things Andrew has recently grown more comfortable with is touch. He still doesn’t love it, won’t accept it from most people, but thanks to the cats he’s less likely to jump or default to his knives if something brushes against his legs.
Which is good, because even though the apartment is empty other than them and King definitely prefers Neil, she’s snaking between Andrew’s legs anyway. He stoops slightly to brush her back with one hand—he doesn’t indulge them the way Neil does, but Neil isn’t here to see it, and the cats can’t talk, so ultimately, no harm done.
He needs to stop thinking about Neil so much when Neil isn’t here. It’s a normal occurrence—they both live in Chicago, but they play for rival teams, so their schedules aren’t perfectly lined up. Neil is in Washington this weekend for a game, and Andrew has a home game against Kansas City.
Andrew’s phone vibrates—undoubtedly a text from Neil. He opens it immediately and thinks about how unlikely he is to ever admit to anyone how much he misses Neil. Except for maybe Neil himself, and only if he was on his deathbed or something.
Neil’s text reads, good luck tonight! and is accompanied by a selfie of him and Dan. Cute.
The game is a brutal one, even from between the goalposts. Andrew takes a nasty hit during a brawl early on but doesn’t get benched until the second half, when a fourth ball clatters hard enough against his helmet to leave his vision swimming.
He resolutely does not check the score for Neil’s game—he’ll find out via phone call as soon as it ends anyway, or else a reporter will ask him about it as they leave or someone will announce it to the entire court (crosstown rivals and all that)—and so it’s not until his phone suddenly explodes with messages and tweets that he knows something has happened.
A call breaks through it—from one Dan Wilds, who is currently with Neil, which must have something to do with his phone being swamped with notifications—and he manages to answer it before it, too, disappears into the mess.
“What is it?” he says.
“Andrew? You good?”
He hates niceties and small talk, especially when they get in the way of his finding out necessary information. “Where is Neil?”
Three artifacts of Cullen Rutherford: lyrium, luck, prayer.
“Though all before me is shadow, yet shall the Maker be my guide. I shall not be left to wander the drifting roads of the beyond. For there is no darkness in the Maker’s light, and nothing that he has wrought shall be lost.”