It didn’t start with a feeling.
Neil was too overcome by the feeling of the flu to have assumed anything was out of the ordinary. He wasn’t too sick, but he was sick enough that he couldn't breathe from his nose, and he caught himself in horrible sneezing and coughing fits. He sounded like death, and here and there, he’d go through moments where he’d feel like it too- but anyone knew as well as him that he’d been through worse.
Anyways, Neil woke up, before Andrew and Kevin, and pushed himself from his bed, even in his sick state, needing something to keep him at ease. It took all his effort not to get a cup of coffee, instead he settled for water. He sipped it gradually, leaning against the counters, taking his time- again, he could hardly breathe from his nose, so with every sip of water, he’d pull away panting.
It was embarrassing, and gross- and Neil hated being sick; naturally everyone hates being sick. When Neil was sick way back when with his mother, she’d give him this really crappy tasting cough medicine.
Neil tilts his head back to finish the rest of his water, when he pulls away and goes into another fit of panting, he notices Andre standing just in the doorway, frowning at him. He pushes himself from the doorway after a few moments of just staring at Neil, and closes the door behind him, as to not disturb Kevin (Not that he cared).
“I didn’t mean to wake you-” Neil mumbled, voice laced with sleep.
“Shut up.” Is all Andrew says as he reaches up and presses the back of his hand against Neil’s forehead, checking to see if he had a fever of any sort.
That must’ve been the case, because when Andrew pulled his hand away, he gave another frown at Neil, “Go sit down.” he tells Neil, walking away from him and into the the bathroom.
Neil does as told, sinking own on one of the bean bag chairs. He listens to what might be Andrew digging through the medicine cabinet for a few minutes before he comes out, bottle of some unknown fluid in hand. However when Andrew watches Neil flinch, he stops dead in his tracks, Andrew looks between the bottle and Neil and says; “Cough syrup.” he says plainly.
Neil nods, “I got that…”
When Neil doesn’t say anything else, Andrew realizes that Neil has something against the bottle in hand, “Why are you being stubborn? It’ll help with the cough...don’t say ‘I’m Fine’...I’ve heard you coughing all night…” he growls, setting the medicine down on the kitchen counter.
“It isn’t that- it’s just…” Neil frowns and looks down at his hands, “Cough Serum and I- I guess just don’t mix...on the run my mother used to give me some of this...really shitty stuff…” This only deepened Andrew’s glare.
“Need I remind you that this is for your health- this isn’t some-”
Neil interrupts him, not on purpose, he just has a coughing fit into his arm. Andrew folds his arms over his chest and waits until Neil’s fit comes to an end, which after awhile it does. Neil’s breathing is shallow, and it takes him awhile before he is able to say anything to Andrew.
“It’s okay Andrew...I’ll just head down to the pharmacy later, see what they have that isn’t serum...I bet they make pills or something…”
Andrew considers him a little while- then rolls his eyes, “I hate you. You aren’t driving to the pharmacy in your condition-”
“-I never said anything about driving-”
“You aren’t walking in your condition either- are you stupid?” Andrew scoffs, taking the serum off the table, “Are you really not going to take this? You’d rather swing and miss- hoping there's a magickal ‘other option’ at the pharmacy?”
Neil is about to tell Andrew to forget it, and that he’ll just take the serum- but Andrew is already walking away, back into the bathroom, where he hears the medicine cabinet open and slam shut. Andrew is back within a few minutes, but doesn’t stop to talk any more with Neil, instead he pushes the bedroom doors open, and disappears inside.
Neil rests his head back against the bean bag chair once again, and closes his eyes, breathing out of his mouth. He assumes that Andrew is crawling back into bed to going back to sleep. That not being the case however, Andrew is out within a few minutes, clothes under his arm and car keys in hand. He closes the door behind him, not as quietly this time. Neil swears it’s probably gone and woken up Kevin- but Kevin isn’t stomping out of the room yet, so he thinks otherwise.
It’s silent for a few moments, the sound of clothes rustling can be heard from behind the door of the bathroom, as Andrew changes.
When he’s out, Andrew does his best to give him a smile, “Are you actually going out to the pharmacy to look for something for me?”
Andrew stares at him for a few minutes, “Shut up Junkie...219%”
“That’s quite the jump.”
Neil chuckles and watches as Andrew fishes his cellphone from his sweatshirt pocket, “Josten. I’m going to call you once I’m there- and give you a list of anything I fine that may be to your liking. I’m putting in the effort to go there and back- which means where's your wallet, cause I’m not paying...and I’m buying ice cream.”
Neil can’t even hide the smile on his lips, “They sell ice cream at a pharmacy?”
Andrew shrugs, “If they don’t- I’m going to the grocery store and I’m going max your card out.”
“Go ahead-” ever since Neil had officially become Neil Josten, not only had he gotten his passports redone- but he’s gotten credit and debit cards to his name, which Andrew likes to borrow without asking to buy ice cream anyways.
“Last I saw the card- it was in my wallet- which was in your pocket.” Neil says smugly- and then he sneezes loudly into his arm, “Blegh…”
Andrew pulls Neil’s wallet out of his back pocket and gives it a second, “Oh.” and then he turns on his heel and leaves- Neil stares at the door after he’s watched Andrew leave and chuckles; leaning back in the chair, and taking a deep breath.
Within minutes, Kevin walks out of the room, rubbing his eye, cursing.
Neil wakes up to the sound of his phone going off, he’s a little discombobulated at first, before realizing that Andrew had said earlier that he was going to call him and tell him of his findings at the pharmacy. He slowly reaches to his phone, which Kevin must’ve placed on the coffee table next to him. He squints at the screen, and is surprised that it’s Matt’s name that comes up rather than Andrew’s.
He answers it, and in his terrible groggy and creaky voice; “Hello?”
Matt didn’t respond right away, when he does, he almost sounds unnerved, “Aw man, you still sound terrible bud…”
“Thanks…” Neil mutters, taking a deep breath, before pushing himself out of the bean bag chair. He hadn’t remembered falling back asleep, but that didn’t matter, he was getting himself some more water as Matt continued to speak.
“I’m sorry man- I got to ask, do you know where Andrew’s been?” he hears Matt swallow, “Like- do you know he went to a pharmacy and- yeah?”
Neil frowns, “Yes, I’m aware.” he yawns lightly, and tries to stifle it in his sleeve, but fails, and Matt’s whimper is audible.
“You just wake up then...huh?”
“Why do you sound so distressed? Why are you asking be about Andrew? What’s going on?”
Matt hesitates, “This isn’t the best news to take standing up- are you standing up? Sit down if your standing up?
Neil groans, “You’re acting really- really weird Matt, just fess up…” He coughs into his arm, “What's-” he coughs again, “Blegh-! What's going on?”
Matt puts it as plainly as possible, “Andrew’s n the hospital.” And just like that, Neil’s fully awake. Frozen where he stands, eyes wide, mouth slightly ajar. Why was he in the hospital? Had someone hurt him? Someone couldn’t hurt Andrew- Andrew would destroy them- had he been overpowered? He eventually decided to shower his concerns to Matt.
“How? What- what happened? Is he okay? What hospital? Can you take me there?- take me there!” Neil hated how pathetic he sounded, but he couldn’t help it, this was Andrew- he was important.
“I already asked if you could come and see him- even lied and told them you were family-fortunately since your sick- they won’t let you see him...to keep him from getting sick they said...something like that…”
Neil put a hand to his forehead, “You still haven’t told me what happened-”
“Andrew got into a car wreck on his way to the Pharmacy, reason I know that is because he got into the wreck in front of the cafe me and Dan go to in the morning- I’m the one that dragged him out of the car with the paramedics- the other car- was just going too fast! It spun out of control and hit him- I swear I didn’t even recognize it was Andrew’s car until Dan pointed it out!
I dragged him out with the help of the paramedics and he was babbling about a pharmacy, he told them to let go of him, that they were hurting him and that he needed to get to a pharmacy” He sounded pitiful, “God Neil...he sounded so scared- I’ve never heard him sound...He said ‘Stop hurting me’ Neil- him ” Neil felt his heart sink and pressed a shaky hand to his eyes.
“Where- Where are you now? What’s he doing? Is he okay?”
Matt didn’t answer for awhile, Neil heard voices on Matt’s side of the line and assumed it before Matt had eventually said, “We’re at the hospital- Dan and I- Kevin too- Renee and aaron on their way- Wymack and Abby also! Renee called Allison and Aaron called Nicky…”
“And they are?”
“Allison didn’t pick up- it was sent straight to voicemail- and as for Nicky, I think Aaron said something about Nicky flying back out here as soon as possible…” Neil wanted to feel bad for Nicky for a moment, it wasn’t every day that Nicky got to see his boyfriend Erik all the way out in germany, but he was suffocated by the thought of Andrew in the hospital.
“Andrew’s in a coma right now- I think- the Maserati is in the shop…” he laughs dryly, Neil doesn’t laugh, Neil just trembles where he stands.
“They won’t let me see him when I’m sick? So you all can see him- but I can’t? I’m the one he needs to wake up too- or else he’s going to wake up swinging his fists...did they touch his armbands?”
“They needed too...one of the blades under his armbands cut into his forearm when he got into that wreck, they wanted to report it, and it took us all- getting on our hands and knees begging Neil…” Matt was probably exaggerating.
But it wasn’t beneath him.
Neil couldn’t focus anymore- he just started cursing himself in every language he knew how. He slammed his phone against the kitchen counter and stomped into the bathroom where he threw open the medicine cabinet, and he chugged HALF of the cough serum, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. He pants heavily, and it immediately takes effect- he staggers in place, and does his best to push himself out of the bathroom.
He collapses to the floor, the feeling of sleep taking over, the feeling of silliness taking over. He was burning. He was asleep within seconds.
Neil was sick for four more days, Kevin took care for him, to some apparel; mostly making him canned soup, and watching Exy games in silence. Kevin had scolded him for drinking that much cough serum, saying how it’s only going to make him feel worse. And it did make him feel worse- it made him vomit when Kevin woke him up off the ground.
Andrew apparently woke up three days later, and of course Neil was practically begging for Matt to take him, which Matt obliged.
Neil wanted to go as soon as he broke his fever, but Matt insisted that just because his fever broke didn’t mean he was all ship shape. He still had a minor cough presently, it was worse yesterday, and the day before, but it wasn’t as noticeable now.
The hospital was a sick familiar to Neil as Matt lead him through a maze of halls and long elevator rides. Everyone seemed like they were staring at him with judging eyes, silently telling Neil; ‘Your fault, your fault- this is your fault’.
Neil shrinks at all the stare, but his pace never slows, it’s an eternity before Matt stops outside a door- one of the doctors is already waiting outside but surely not to meet with Matt and Neil. The doctor looked terrified, and Neil could hear why, he heard grunting and growling from behind the door and he tried to walk around Matt to push his way inside- but Matt stopped him by putting a hand out in front of him.
“Hold your horses Neil…” He mumbled, he turned his attention to the doctor, “How is he?” he asks and the doctor clears their throat before speaking. “I’m- well, he’s awake, and that’s important...he stopped screaming and thrashing against us...right now we’re just giving him some space...We did our physical, and- did come with some…” he pushes up his square spectacles and makes eye contact with Neil.
“The car accident had given him severe head trauma and...with head trauma there is known to be some... side effects- or- major effects this on being major…” he clears his throat again and Neil grows impatient, “...He has lost his hearing…” he looks between Matt and Neil, and Neil can’t feel anything but red hot anger.
He shoved Matt’s arm up and out of his way and pushes the hospital door open, ignoring any protests from the doctor and or Matt. Neither of them followed him into the room.
Neil stopped at the foot of Andrew hospital bed, and did his best to swallow he cry that dare escape his throat. They had been through so much together, and never not ever had he ever been this emotional towards something. He didn’t cry, not yet.
Andrew lay on the bed, tubes hooked to IVs and bandages wrapped around his forearms and one wrapped several times around his head. Stitches on his collarbone, one from his bottom lip to his chin.
Andrew stared at Neil, and Neil stared back at him, both just silent. Both were just, looking at each other in awe.
“I can’t hear.” Andrew says finally, a little louder than he’d normally speak, and a little more- emotionally unstable. He points to his ears, “It’s just muffled- I can’t make out words...or sounds- it’s muffled” Andrew watches as Neil meets him on the left side of his hospital bed, “I know you’re going to say it- don’t- wasn’t your fault...and it wasn’t mine, so save me your pity.” he’s yelling now, and Neil btes his quivering lip, before kneeling down before the bed.
He shows Andrew his hand, palm up, an offering to Andrew- which after a few minutes, Andrew accepts and takes his hand. He grips it tightly, avoiding eye contact with Neil, who can’t stop them from watering, he can just stop the tears from falling out.
Neil shakily reaches up with his free hand, and it hovers over the back of Andrew’s pale skin. He brings his finger down lightly and traces, ‘Yes or No?’.
Andre looks at him again, and he looks- heartbroken, and it makes Neil feel heart broken. Andrew’s brows are furrowed, his eyes are wide, and his jaw is hanging ever so slightly, Neil wonders if this is what he looked like when Matt had told him about Andrew being in the hospital.
Andrew just stares at him, and then he scoffs and looks down at his lap. Its silent for awhile longer, before Neil notices Andrew trembling, his head forced to look away from Neil, and his hand holding on to Neil’s even tighter than before. Neil presses his forehead on the back of his hand and that’s when Andrew let’s out this inhuman sound, followed by, “Yes-” and Neil is up in a heartbeat, taking Andrew in his arms, and Andrew turns around to be held by Neil.
He makes no other sound, he doesn’t wrap his arms around Neil. he let’s neil hold him, and Andrew presses his ear to Neil’s chest, feeling his heartbeat on his ear, feeling Neil’s heartbeat in his chest. Andrew closes his eyes and tries to calm his breathing, he muttered something in German, and was relieved to feel the vibration of Andrew’s hum against his head.
“I said this isn’t your fault…” He mutters into Neil’s shirt.
Neil reaches down and traces words slowly on Andrew’s arm again, making the letters obvious and waiting until Andrew gives him a sign to keep going. After every word, Andrew repeated it.
“When. Do. You. Get. Out.” Andrew repeats.
“I don’t know…” he growls.
“Have. You. Met. With. The. Others. Yet.” Andrew shifts against Neil and gives a subtle, “No, I won’t see anyone. I knew you’d come in kicking. So naturally I waited for you.” he sighs.
“Can. I. Kiss…” ANdrew falls silent, before shifting to look at Neil, “Stop.” Andrew says and Neil does, although Neil doesn’t know exactly what it is he’s stopping. He figured it’s the writing on his arm, so he stopped writing on his arm.
“Stop looking at me like that.” he says weakly. And Neil realizes he’s crying, “It hurts Andrew.” Neil says shakily, under his breath.
Andrew raises a hand and presses it to Neil’s mouth, “Stop. I can’t hear you.” he says sternly, “I can fix this...This won’t stop me...hey- it won’t.” Andrew scowls.
After a few more minutes, Andrew leans in and rests his head against Neil’s neck, “yes or no…?” he whispers, and Neil writes on Andrew’s arm again.
And then Andrew tilts his head back to admire Neil, and worship his mouth softly. Pressing his lips softly to Neil’s and for a moment, Andrew forgets he’s deaf, and Neil forgets that Andrew’s hurt. Andrew’s mouth is hot and cold at the same time and it turns Neil’s emotions to hot flame, that burns his insides in the most beautiful way. The world starts and ends with Andrew’s mouth, and when they part, they just stare at each other, foreheads pressed together.
Andrew hums and looks down at Neil’s hand as he begins writing again, and again- Andrew repeats what Neil writes;
“Will. This. Get. Better?”
Andrew is silent for a moment before looking at Neil, speaking loudly again, “254%” he hums, “It will...soon..I guess.” he rests his head against Neil’s chest again, and the two sit, in silence.