6: “Marry me” (part 2 from the 5/6 request, also andreil!)
It takes 4 months and 2 weeks to organize Matt’s proposal to Dan.
Neil knows because he’s been pretending to understand most of what Matt says to him for 4 months and 2 weeks.
It’s not that he’s not happy for them, it’s just that being told to celebrate love feels like being told to celebrate the way the world turns, or the gravity that continues to pin us like the bar on a rollercoaster seat. Neil celebrates love by staying alive to see it. He celebrates it by keeping it.
He looks at prospective rings and says they’re fine over and over again. He dutifully tells Dan nothing even when she asks outright. He answers the phone when Matt calls him in a panic at midnight and says “what if she says no” so many times that Neil hands the phone to Nicky.
It does make him think though, about Andrew. Without meaning to.
He doesn’t think of it as marriage in his head (to Neil, marriage has always been something that swallows you like quick sand). Tying himself to Andrew though — having something legally binding like Neil Josten on his documents, like their names on the lease, like his contract with his team — that means something to Neil.
Being with Andrew is the thrill of being in the game, but having it on paper would be like points blinking onto a scoreboard. He knows he’s scoring now, but he wants the crowd to know too. He wants this win to stick.
He doesn’t mention it because it doesn’t matter, ultimately. Neil doesn’t need other people to tell him that they love each other.
Andrew scoops Sir off Neil’s lap and smuggles him to his side of the couch. He pours one bowl of sugar crisp and one bowl of granola in the morning. He catches Neil’s sleeve before he goes for a run and uses every ounce of 5 AM energy he has to hold Neil’s eyes. Neil knows how he feels.
But he really does support Matt and Dan, separate from the way he’s scared of hospital rooms he won’t be allowed into or the box on a form that labels them ‘roommates’ like that’s anywhere close to enough.
The engagement lines up with a weekend that all the original foxes are scheduled to meet up on, scraped together by Matt’s meticulous hands and Nicky’s constant phone calls.
Andrew isn’t interested in going, but Neil asks, so. They’re the first ones there.