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AFTG Exchange - Summer '17 Edition

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Andrew had always believed that his business was his business only, so Nicky’s idea of creating a Twitter account for him was one of many that Andrew was not interested in seeing come to fruition. That is, until Neil joined Nicky’s crusade, of course. Matt helped Nicky convince Neil that social media would be a fun way to engage with fans, which would help make him more visible to pro scouts. Seeing as it came from Matt, Neil was pretty open-minded about it from the beginning. After about a week on Twitter, Neil took it upon himself to make Andrew an account too. The only reason Andrew allowed this was that Neil made the Twitter handle @aminyard03, which was almost identical to Aaron’s @aminyard05, simply to aggravate Aaron and make it that much more confusing for everyone else.

Andrew used it sporadically and infrequently, but he did use it. Checking out what the foxes were saying could sometimes stave off boredom, and it was also a good way to make sure they weren’t spreading any information about him that he hadn’t OK’d.

A while back, Nicky had tweeted a picture of Neil leaning on Andrew as they slept through one of the foxes’ movie nights with some stupid caption that basically outed them to the world. Andrew was going to kill him. However, Neil had calmed him down and, after some thought, they’d decided to take advantage of the fact that they wouldn’t be asked the ever-popular questions about girlfriends from the media. It worked out in the end, but Andrew made sure to keep tabs on his cousin just in case.

In his effort to do so, he noticed a tweet from Nicky about gathering the foxes from their summer vacations to take a day trip to the beach. Apparently, Dan and Nicky had planned the whole thing and just needed to find a day when everyone was free to go. Andrew wasn’t sure Neil would be interested, what with his history of beach trips, but Neil had reassured him that he’d enjoy it if they were with the team. And so the date was set for the next Wednesday.

“I’ll stay and wait with Andrew,” Neil told Matt as he helped load the truck. They’d packed towels, sunscreen, drinks and snacks, and beach chairs they’d managed to rent from one of the school clubs.

“No you won’t,” Andrew said, tossing a bag carelessly into the truck. “You keep an eye on Kevin until I’m finished with Bee.”

Neil frowned at Andrew, but didn’t argue. After both Matt’s truck and Allison’s trunk had been filled, the foxes began piling in. Since they were down a car, illegal seating arrangements had been made. Much to Aaron’s chagrin and Andrew’s amusement, Aaron was forced to sit on Nicky’s lap in Allison’s car with Renee, Dan, and Katelyn, while Matt took Kevin and Neil.

Andrew threw his half-hearted salute their way as the cars pulled out of the parking lot before driving himself to Bee’s office.

After a pleasantly uneventful session, Andrew took his time getting to his car. Despite his lack of protest, he hadn’t had any real desire to go to the beach. It would just be hot, sandy, and miserable. Settling himself behind the wheel, he was about to leave when a notification popped up on his phone. It was just someone tweeting at him, which he didn’t usually care about enough to check since people were always tweeting at their team, but combined with his procrastination of joining the foxes at the beach, he went ahead and opened up the app.

The tweet he was tagged in read “OMG I THOUGHT HE WAS DATING @aminyard03?!?!” with a picture attached that gave Andrew pause. The photo appeared to be Neil kneeling over someone on the beach. It was hard to tell what was happening because it was taken from behind Neil, but Andrew would recognize that bright orange shirt anywhere. Whoever Neil was with, they were definitely close to be kissing. Hence the caption.

Andrew sighed and dropped his phone into the cup holder next to him.

Neil “doesn’t swing” Josten is going to get himself into trouble if he can’t keep people from taking his actions out of context, he thought. Brushing off the photograph, Andrew started up the car and made his way to the beach. Despite his nonchalant attitude toward the tweet, he couldn’t help but notice the way his body stiffened as he drove, his grip on the steering wheel steadily tightening, his teeth clenching.

By the time he parked at the beach, Andrew’s whole body was tense. He slipped his phone into his pocket and massaged his shoulder, cursing his body’s reaction.

The foxes weren’t hard to find. They were set up close to the stairs, by far the largest group there. The chairs were set up in a semicircle with a few towels laying out in front of them, occupied by Allison, Renee, and Nicky. There was an open chair between Neil and Aaron, with Kevin, Matt, and Dan on Neil’s other side, and Katelyn to Aaron’s right.

Andrew walked over and plopped down into the empty seat next to Neil, who hadn’t taken off his now-damp orange shirt and black armbands. Neil looked over at Andrew and his lips immediately blossomed into a small smile. Andrew felt the tension in his body start to drain. Mustering up his most apathetic expression, Andrew pulled the tweet from earlier up on his phone and wordlessly tossed it to Neil. Caught off guard, Neil almost dropped the phone in the sand.

Upon seeing the picture, the corner of Neil’s lip quirked upwards. Andrew side-eyed him and the corner of his own lip quirked downwards.

Of course Neil would be amused. The picture was obviously not what the fan made it out to be.

“Next time, don’t let your obsessed fans twist the story,” he said in an attempt to sound more annoyed than relieved, but Neil could see right through him.

“Do you want me to tell you the whole story?” Neil offered, trying to school his smirk back to neutral.

Andrew shrugged.

“Matt and I were swimming and a big wave came and knocked this unconscious guy into me,” Neil started, gesturing at the photo before tossing the phone back to Andrew. “Matt helped me carry him out, but the lifeguard wasn’t paying attention and Matt doesn’t know CPR, so I did it myself.”

Andrew glanced over at Neil again.

“What a hero,” he scoffed.

Neil’s smile softened.

Gazing at Andrew, he murmured, “I’d save you too.”

Andrew held his gaze, his bored expression unchanging.

You already have.

His eyes flicked down to Neil’s lips and back again.

“Yes or no?”

Neil looked around at the other foxes and raised a brow at Andrew, but none of their teammates were paying them any attention, so Andrew didn’t move. Neil’s smile didn’t fade as he leaned in further and murmured his affirmation against Andrew’s lips.

The kiss was short, but Andrew’s body finally relaxed as his lips pressed into Neil’s. Neil ran a feather-light touch down Andrew’s arm that might have made Andrew shiver had it not been so hot outside. When they split apart, Neil’s grin had only grown. Andrew huffed, but didn’t say anything about it.

Later that night, Andrew received yet another Twitter mention. He’d about had it with social media for the day, so he planned to delete the notification and head to bed. Then he noticed that it was from his cousin, which was never good. He could already feel the headache forming. Rubbing the bridge of his nose with a sigh, Andrew pulled up the app and read the tweet by @nickyhemmick, which said “ah, young love! @aminyard03 @neiljosten.” Attached was a picture of the kiss Andrew and Neil had shared on the beach.

Since Nicky had been sitting right in front of them, the quality was really clear. Andrew took a moment to appreciate how Neil’s lips were curled upward in a smile and how calm his own expression was. He saved the photo to his phone—not that he would ever tell Nicky that—and went to track down his cousin. He was still going to kill him.