Characters: Neil Josten and Andrew Minyard from Nora Sakavic’s “All for the Game” (“The Foxhole Court”) trilogy. Because I thought to myself, “Hey, it would be fun to use these characters today, but how am I going to fit in ‘pipe?’ … Oh my god, that’s literally in a quote from the books!”
Neil wanted to sleep. Not
quite in the I’m-going-to-collapse-onto-the-closest-flat-surface kind of way,
but it was getting there. It was starting to feel unbelievable that this had
only been a single day, everything blurring together into an impossibly long
stretch of awake. He’d been up early
for practice, and up late for a game – they’d won, but that was a triumph he didn’t
have the energy to celebrate right now – and the distance from the stadium to
his apartment only seemed to be getting larger.
Neil thought back to the
locker room after the game, to the offers of “Hey, Josten, are you coming out with
us?” He’d wondered, at the time, how his teammates could possibly have anything
left in them. Now, the walk leaving him room to think, he was starting to
consider that his teammates’ energy might be owed to the fact that they hadn’t driven for hours in the middle of
the night just to get back here for a few hours of sleep before morning
practices. He was going to have to remember to leave earlier next time.
Finally, at long last,
Neil reached his apartment. The short distance from the stadium had been a major
selling point, but he was beginning to question his math on that. He was also
beginning to seriously consider foregoing the bed tonight in favor of the
much-closer couch. That is, until he opened his door and found a very familiar
person smoking on it.
“You’re not supposed to
smoke in here,” Neil told Andrew for what had to be the hundredth time. Andrew
quirked an eyebrow, a silent repetition of his first retort: You should have picked a different
apartment, then. It was so typically Andrew that Neil was beginning to
question the fact of his presence – Andrew had once called Neil a pipe dream,
but it was Andrew who seemed like the dream now. Neil wasn’t sure he wanted to
Neil sighed and put his
bag down on the kitchen table. He noticed the smoke detector lying dismantled
on the counter and quirked a smile at the thought of Andrew climbing onto a
chair to take it down; Neil usually did this for him, when he knew he was
coming. He couldn’t quite keep the smirk off his face as he turned back to
Andrew. “Miss me already?” he teased. “You just saw me last night.”
Andrew threw him an ugly
look. “Oh, Neil,” he scoffed, “if I never saw you again, it would be too soon.”
“You’re a terrible liar,”
Neil replied. “What are you doing here?”
Andrew took a folder off
the floor beside him and threw it across the room. Neil had to scramble to keep
the papers from scattering all over the floor, and he shot Andrew a dirty look.
Andrew was not impressed. Neil opened the folder and began examining its
contents. It took him several tries to understand the significance, partly
because he was so tired, but also because he wasn’t sure he could believe it.
He looked up at Andrew,
who looked just as bored as ever. “You have to be the slowest reader ever,”
“Is this real?” Neil
Andrew shrugged and Neil
looked down at the papers again, still in a state of disbelief. This was an offer
to join Andrew’s team, to be on the same schedule again, to not have to put so
much effort into just seeing him.
Andrew said, “Yes or no?”
“Yes,” Neil said without
hesitation. He looked up again, a wild grin taking over his face. “You asked to
come out here to bring these to me?” he asked.
Andrew’s eyes were cold,
but he didn’t deny it. Instead, he said, “Don’t let it go to your head.”
Neil smirked. “Wouldn’t dream
of it,” he said, going over to Andrew and pulling him into a kiss. He didn’t feel
like sleeping anymore.