but can you guys even imagine the Wild™ after party/yay-we-beat-riko’s-pathetic-ass celebration after the foxes win??
dan & matt have to go all out. they try to deck everything up in confetti & bright orange balloons. wymack’s got enough alcohol stacked up to power a vegas niterie. the only rule of thumb is to come dressed in orange.
but andrew’s group (with the exception of neil and nicky) still come dressed in black so it starts to look like a halloween party.
neil wears his orange proudly, & even lets allison paint a glittery little fox paw on his cheek.
everyone but andrew gets a fox paw. nobody is in the mood to get stabbed tonight.
nicky and kevin get super drunk & start to awfully sing “WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS, WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS, NO TIME FOR LOSERS ‘CAUSE WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!“ with no melody whatsoever.
neil jokes that he’s going to leave the party deaf, but he’s all warm inside bc they did it, they actually did it, they won. and he’s home.
matt gets extra-lovey-dovey when he’s shitfaced & goes on a drunken rant about his love for dan and this broken team & how he’d happily take a bullet for everyone in the room. and to everyone’s surprise, he says that despite his questionable methods, he has andrew to thank for his sobriety. andrew doesn’t seem to react to this, but neil gives his shoulder a gentle assuring squeeze, one andrew doesn’t dispute.
matt & dan exchange promise rings. abby makes a congratulatory speech, nicky gets emotional & cries a little bit.
renee & allison dance together, renee is happy bc this is the first time after seth’s death that she’s seen allison look so elated even if sloshed. "this is his win, too,” she whispers later, at renee’s ear, “of course,” renee agrees. “once a fox, always a fox."
wymack makes a quick, thoughtless toast, "WE FINALLY SMOKED THOSE BITCHES!” the truth is he’s too speechless for words. this is why he does what he does, this is the pay off after years of being shunned, doubting himself & taking everyone’s shit. this is why his team, his good-for-nothing, nothing-to-lose team is going to make it to the big leagues.
kevin & wymack exchange an intense glance, & wymack silently vows to be the dad he’d never gotten to be & to make sure kevin never gets hurt again - not under his watch. kevin doesn’t know what to do with this new unkempt emotion burning in his chest, but he thinks he’s willing to find out.
all the vixens come ofc, & neil can’t help but notice how smiley & full of life aaron looks when he’s around katelyn. like he’s a completely different person to the one they know. everyone has to make a bit of an effort to keep kaitlyn out of andrew’s line of sight (by andrew’s own demand), but it feels worth it. when aaron catches him staring & meets his eyes, his smile drops but he doesn’t scowl & in neil’s book that’s an improvement.
bee comes to congratulate them all and whisks andrew to the side to talk to him in private, when andrew returns, he’s looking more at ease than neil has seen him since he got sober. that tension in his shoulders is gone, his expression is still numb but there’s a soft, fierce glow in his hazel eyes. neil thinks triumph looks good on him.
renee stays sober & tucks everyone into bed once they’re all too wasted to move on their own.
neil then lightly touches andrew’s arm, steering him away from all the chaos & silently thanks him for saving him from getting hit with that racquet.
andrew shrugs, “it only seems appropriate since i’ve already hit you with a racquet once and the results bored me. the noise you made was pretty unattractive. i didn’t see the point in reliving that again."
neil understands that this is andrew speak for "you’re welcome” & they ditch the rest of the party in favor of going up to the rooftop to smoke cigarettes and make out.
the night feels different, neil feels different. the future is bright & unnerving & large & stretched out in front of him but right now, he’s just content being at home, with andrew’s breath on his tongue & the distant chorus in his head of a thousand ravens fans swallowing their tongues.
“Andrew… I don’t feel so good…” Aaron moans as they roll into the parking space in front of Applebee’s.
“You’re fine, stop sulking,” Andrew responds as he gets out of the Maserati. “C’mon loser, five down, three to go.”
“No, really. I think I’m gonna be sick.” Aaron does look a little green. He clutches his stomach and leans against Katelyn.
“Andrew, maybe it’s time to call it quits?” Katelyn suggests. Andrew’s glare keeps her from going on and she sighs quietly and digs out some Tums from her purse. Neil thinks that he hears her mutter something about “boys” and “stupid.”
Neil, who is only a witness to the food orgy, is looking quite smug as the four of them enter the chain restaurant. They get seated at the bar per Andrew’s request and Neil makes the announcement.
“Say, my friends here are celebrating a birthday.”
Their waiter perks up. “Really? That’s awesome! And twins!! We don’t get many twin birthdays.” The perky smile on the waiter’s face wilts a bit under the combined glare of the Minyards. “Uhh… how about I get y’all’s drinks and then ahem a surprise?” The waiter winks at Neil and Neil winks back, just to annoy Andrew.
Andrew nurses a Coke float while Aaron drinks ginger ale and Katelyn, bless her, gets an extra strong bloody Mary (keeping up with the brothers is taking a toll). Neil gets black coffee.
A few minutes later there’s a commotion from the kitchen and the entire wait staff emerges, decked out in birthday party hats and carrying two massive pieces of chocolate cake. They crowd around the bar and sing Happy Birthday with enough gusto that some of the other diners join in. Aaron looks ill, Andrew looks unimpressed. Katelyn is grinning so big and snapping pictures on her phone and Neil is smirking.
The waiter lights the candles on the cake and holds them out in front of the brothers. “Make a wish!” he says.
Aaron and Andrew glower at each other before blowing out the candles and taking their cake. Katelyn thanks the servers and Neil leaves a hefty tip with their bill. Andrew eats his piece of cake slowly, his eyes closing from time to time in apparent sugar bliss. Aaron takes a few bites and shoves the cake towards Katelyn who does her part and eats half; Andrew finishes the rest of it.
Back in the parking lot Aaron has to be half-carried to the car. He’s not a huge fan of sweets and Andrew’s determination to win the Foxes’ bet - getting free birthday desserts from every chain restaurant in town - is going to be the death of him.
“Two more left,” Andrew says, by way of encouragement. “We can ask for drinks instead. That should count, right?”
Aaron groans but Minyards aren’t quitters so he nods and rests his head against Katelyn’s shoulder.
Neil takes Andrew’s hand as they wait at a stop light. He squeezes his hand and murmurs, quietly so Katelyn and Aaron won’t hear, “Happy Birthday, Andrew.”