Even though Allison bet on Neil and Andrew, she honestly didn't think it was anything except hate fucking. Like, lets be real, the monster doesn't have the capability to love or care. Allison honestly, 100% thought that he couldn't feel anything. And oh boy how she was proven wrong.
It was her last year at Palmetto and she was feeling a bit sentimental, not that she'd tell anyone. Except maybe Renee but that was a different situation all together. But still, last week when she had played her last ever first game of the season, if she shed a single tear that night, nobody needed to know.
The upperclassmen and the monsters shared a traumatic experience that brought them together all thanks to a 5'3 red-headed runner and Allison couldn't be happier to call him her family. She didn't give out that term often so when she immediately thought it back in March when he disappeared, she hasn't questioned it since.
It was Sunday and Allison was sitting on the couch in her dorm, tapping her foot on the ground. She checked her watch again. Twenty-five minutes late. Neil was often late to their weekly brunch, sometimes stumbling in looking all disheveled, spouting apologies. Even though he never looked that sorry. Allison would give him a knowing smirk and tell him to shut up and off they'd go.
She checked her watch again. 1:45. He was never this late. Maybe the monster finally got bored or snapped.
Allison stood up, grabbed her purse and walked out of the dorm. When she got to the monster's dorm she knocked. Once, twice, three times. No one answered. She checked the handle, it was open. She threw open the door. The room was empty bar a single Kevin sitting at his desk, earphones in his ears.
She walked over to him and plucked out one earphone. Kevin's head flew towards her so fast she's surprised he didn't snap his neck. When he realised who it was, he visibly relaxed. Allison ignored his questioning look and said, "Is Neil here?" Kevin put back in his earphone and pointed towards them bedroom.
She left him to his work and stood outside the door. She waited a moment, listening to make sure she doesn't interrupt anything. After making sure the coast was clear, she knocked once and opened the door. Allison wasn't sure what she was expecting to see but it defiantly wasn't this.
Neil and Andrew were in bed together, just not the way she thought they would be. Andrew was sitting up in bed reading a book, with his glasses perched on his nose, with Neil tucked into his side, one arm wrapped around Andrew's waist. They were both under the covers and if Allison's eyes weren't lying, she was pretty sure Neil's hoodie didn't say Josten. It all looked extremely domestic and like it was a regular thing that happens.
Andrew was staring at her, one eyebrow quirked as if he was daring her to say something. "I'm guessing he's skipping our weekly brunch then." she said.
Andrew just stared at her. "Yes," he said. Allison didn't miss the way his arm tightened around Neil's body or the way Neil seemed to lean into that touch, still fast asleep.
"Alright then, I'll catch him later." She said. She left then but not before sending him a quick smile. When she came back out Kevin had moved from his desk to the couch. He was currently flicking through the channels, probably looking for something exy related.
She walked towards the door and was about to leave when Kevin said "He had a nightmare," was all he said.
Allison turned around. “What?”
"Neil. Last night he had a nightmare and couldn't sleep, that's why he's not going. He finally passed out about an hour ago."
Allison thought about that for a minute. "How often does it happen?"
"Often enough, but less then before the summer. Its his first one in about a week."
Allison nodded goodbye to Kevin and thought about that for a moment. She thought about the way, that Neil, who had suffered so much and whos earliest memories are of violence, leaned into Andrew Minyard, of all people's touch and subconsciously too. Maybe she was wrong. Maybe it was more than just hate fucking.
Ever since Aaron and Neil switched room Matt has been, not lonely but, let’s just say that Aaron is no Neil.
Even though Neil was never the most chatty person when they were rooming together, he’d at least listen to Matt and even occasionally put in his own input. Living with Aaron is nothing like that. Half the time he’s not even there and if he is he’s either sitting at his desk with a mountain pile of books or curled up with Katelyn in the couch.
Matt had never minded PDA before but now he thinks his mind could be easily persuaded. Surely me and Dan aren’t like that? Seems to be a question he asks himself more and more now.
Matt saw Neil a good friend when they first met and after Seth died he had slowly rose to one of his best friends and then Baltimore happened. And as much as Matt Hayes the way it happened and wished that he could go back in time and change everything that had happened to Neil in his gorforsaken shithole of a life, after Baltimore, Neil started opening up and was immediately given the title of his best friend.
Currently his best friend was still in the showers after a gruelling game. They had played the Ravens for the first time this season. Neil and Kevin especially had it hard as the ravens seemed more focused in taking them out of the game then actually playing it. The foxes still won.
Luckily they played in the foxhole court so they didn’t have far to go to drink. Almost everyone was out except Dan and Renee who were on press duty and Neil and Andrew were also nowhere to be seen.
When Allison has told Matt that they were hooking up all those months ago Matt had laughed in her face and said Bet. Oh boy was he wrong.
Sometimes it’s so obvious that there’s something between them that Matt wants to shout at the freshmen who don’t see it. Other days, even Matt had trouble believing it.
Everyone except Aaron and Renee say they’re hate fucking (although Kevin refuses to bet). And as much as Matt wants that to be wrong, because Neil deserves better than that, he just can’t see Andrew caring for anyone. Not like that.
Sure he has his promises, but that’s not the same. He almost killed Kevin for gods sake. But Matt was very soon proven wrong.
It was now 10 minutes after everyone had emerged from the changing rooms. Everyone but Andrew and Neil.
“Matt go tell them to hurry up or I’ll bench Neil for the next match and make Andrew play all of it,” said Coach although it was one of the emptiest threats he’s ever used.
Matt sighed and got up from where he sat beside Dan. He made his way towards the changing room, stopping just outside the door to listen. He wasn’t going to make the mistake of going in straight away again.
When he was certain that he wouldn’t walk in on them in a compromising position, he opened the door.
What he saw was most definitely better than what he saw last time but more equally confusing.
Neil say on the bench in nothing but his underwear looking like he could fall asleep right there. The bruises from the game were fresh and painful looking. Matt almost made his way over to help but then he spotted Andrew.
Andrew was straddling the bench beside Neil and one of his knees was physically keeping Neil up. He had Neil’s shirt in his hands and helped him get into it. Matt thought he heard Andrew whisper something but all Neil did was a little nod of agreement.
Matt stood there for a minute, struck frozen at how gentle Andrew was being. He was being mindful of all Neil’s fresh bruises and was careful not to hit them. He was also constantly muttering stuff to Neil at which got a little chuckle out of him at one stage.
Matt realised that this was a moment not meant for him to see and quickly but quietly made his way out of the changing room and back to the team. When he got back Wymack looked at him expectantly.
“They’ll be out in a minute coach, don’t worry you’ll get your drink soon enough,” Matt said.
Wymack just snorted and rolled his eyes.
Three minutes later Neil and Andrew came out of the changing room. Neil was walking by himself but Matt didn’t fail to notice the hand Andrew on the small of his back.
They took their seats on the couch and everyone’s focus was back on Wymack. About a minute into Wymack discussing the play, Matt glances over to see Neil’s head on Andrew’s shoulder, fast asleep. His body curled up against Andrew, who looked completely unfazed at the boy next to him.
But if Matt knew one thing about Andrew it was that Andrew always knew, even if it looked like he didn’t. And the longer Matt looked the more he realised that Andrew looked relaxed. Not bored or tense like he normally was, but relaxed.
Maybe Aaron and Renee were right and Neil is more than just something to fuck for Andrew. Actually this proves he is and Matt couldn’t be happier. Neil deserves someone to take care of him. And so did Andrew, Matt thought. They deserve each other and he’s happy they found each other.
When they got Neil back in Baltimore, the last thing Nicky thought was going going to happen was Allison’s accusing Andrew and Neil of hooking up. But the fact that neither of them denied it was even more shocking.
Nicky loves Andrew, he does, and in some ways he feels responsible for him. And he hates what happened to him and that he couldn’t help. They’re family, he should’ve been there. Deep down, he knows that he couldn’t have stopped it. He hadn’t even known Andrew back then, but that didn’t help the feeling of uselessness.
Neil was an unexpected part of his new found family. And with him came, surprisingly the upperclassmen. Eric was delighted that they were now getting along when he told him.
It was Nicky's third year at Palmetto now, the girls last year. He had moved out of Kevin, Neil and Andrew’s form and in with Matt and Aaron. And wasn’t that a turn of events, Aaron moving out and Neil moving in. Nicky thinks that that was when he first started suspecting that Andrew and Neil meant more to each other than just a good fuck.
It was their first outing to Columbia that year and Nicky had to admit that he missed the noise and humidity of Eden’s Twilight.
Nicky got drunk pretty quickly, dragging Aaron to the dance floor leaving Andrew, Kevin and Neil to do whatever it is they do when they come here.
Just before midnight, Andrew found him and dragged him over to Neil and Kevin before walking back towards the dance floor probably to find Aaron.
Kevin was surprisingly not as pissed as normal. He was conscious for a change. Neil was sober, he never drank unless he was only with the foxes, Nicky realised. Now that he thinks about it he’s never seen Neil drunk.
He was about to say something about it when Andrew came back with Aaron. He herded everyone back into the car and drove them to the Columbia house.
When they reached the house they all went to their designated sleeping areas. Kevin went to the couch, Nicky his own room, Aaron went to his room and Andrew and Neil both turned towards Andrew’s room. Nicky smiled and went to say something but got a face full of door instead. When he reached his bed he was asleep before he even made it to bed.
What felt like 5 minutes later he woke up. He checked the time to find it was actually 8:38 am. He would’ve stayed in bed had he not needed to pee. So he quickly got up and made his way to the bathroom down the hall.
Just as he was leaving the bathroom, he heard a small chuckle come from the kitchen.
Curious, he tiptoed his way towards the kitchen and peeked through the door that was slightly ajar.
The sight that he saw was the last thing he expected.
Neil was standing at the counter, shirtless, with all his scars on display, making coffee. But that wasn’t the strange thing, no, the strangest thing was Andrew who was hugging Neil from behind. His armbands off, with his head nuzzled into the back of Neil’s neck.
He looked so soft in his too big sweats, that Nicky realised with a start were the ones he bought Neil last week, and his orange team hoodie.
Andrew whispered something into Neil’s neck that made Neil let out another soft chuckle. If that wasn’t enough to kill Nicky, Andrew then proceeded to leave small kisses all along Neil’s shoulder and upper back.
Nicky stood there frozen afraid that if he moved it would stop. He’d never seen Andrew like this. He’s never seen him so relaxed, so open. It made Nicky’s heart burst with happiness and break at the same time.
Nicky had always wanted Andrew to be happy and be able to open up to people, and he’s so glad that Andrew has Neil, that he has someone he can open up to and share moments like this, but Nicky had always hoped that somewhere down the line, that Andrew would trust Nicky enough to open up to him.
Nicky didn’t move until Neil turned around and wrapped his own arms around Andrew, placing a kiss on the top of Andrew’s head. Andrew closed his eyes and leaned into Neil’s touch.
Nicky, having finally regained movement, realised that this moment was much to private for him to see, made his way back to his room.
When he was safely back under the covers, he smiled himself to sleep. And for once in his life, Nicky was glad he lost a bet.
Dan loved her foxes more than anything else in the world. The only problem was that ‘her’ foxes stops with the original foxes, not the freshmen.
Don’t get her wrong, she’s not horrid to them, she’s still their captain and has to treat everyone equally on the court. It’s just off the court she doesn’t really want anything to do with them. She has her family, she doesn’t need more.
It was her, Renee and Allison’s last year and Dan was determined to make the most out of it and that included getting all ‘her’ foxes together as much as possible.
Mans because of this idea, movie night was born. Every Friday night, ones they didn’t have a match on, the nine of them would meet up and watch a movie.
It was surprisingly easy to convince the monsters to change their Columbia trips from Friday to Saturday. Dan thinks Neil and Nicky had a lot to do with it but she didn’t say anything in fear of them changing their minds. More specifically, Andrew changing his mind.
It was third official movie night. Tonight was Matt’s night to pick the movie and it was a surprise to no one when he took ‘Dirty Dancing’ and put it in the DVD player stating “it’s a classic.”
Dan knew what he was doing. She was there when she heard Neil day that he’s never seen Dirty Dancing.
Speaking of Neil, he was the only one not here. Even Andrew was here and he usually only came when Neil did.
“Where’s Neil?” She asked him.
He just gave her a blank look as if to say how the hell would I know. Dan rolled her eyes and took out her phone. She rang Neil but he didn’t pick up. She looked back at Andrew. He didn’t look worried so Neil must be alright. Right?
Trusting that Neil was okay she curled up next to Matt and they started the movie.
Halfway through the movie, the door of the girls room opened and Neil walked in. He immediately went to sit beside Andrew, basically falling onto the couch in between Andrew and the arm.
Nobody seemed to look twice but Dan felt something off. It was dark so it was hard to make out Neil’s face, but the longer she looked the more she noticed the dark bags under his eyes and his pale skin.
She was going to ask but she knew Neil would just wave her off and tell her that he’s ‘fine.’ She turned back to the movie, making a mental note to talk to Neil in private later.
She wasn’t really focusing on the movies anymore, too distracted. That’s when she heard Andrew whisper softly to Neil.
“Where’d you disappear to?” His voice heals no emotion but him just asking the question told Dan he cared. She smiled at that.
”I fell asleep in the library,” Neil answered.
”I didn’t get much sleep last night.”
Andrew was quiet for a minute before he said a simple “yes.”
Neil looked at him, his expression confused.
Andrew just let out a small sigh and pulled Neil down onto him so Neil’s head rest on his shoulder.
Neil was stiff for a minute but when Andrew didn’t push him off he melted against Andrew’s side and closed his eyes. Not even two minutes later and he was fast asleep.
She saw Andrew turn his head slightly and give Neil’s head a little peck before turning his attention back to the movie.
Dan, realising what she just saw, smiled softly. The fact that these two broken boys could find comfort and safety with each other was amazing.
They really were made for each other, Dan thought.
Kevin considered Andrew and Neil his closest friends. Andrew because he seemed to still hang out with him, even though he's no longer obliged to because his promise is over. That and Kevin actually enjoys his company. He is a silent comfort to Kevin more times than none. Neil because of both their love for exy. That and the fact that Neil has saved Kevin's life in more ways than one. But his and Neil's relationship isn't just about exy, sometimes when neither of them can sleep or if Andrew's out, its nice to sit and talk about anything or nothing. So when Kevin heard that they'd gotten together, he was a bit worried.
He'd like to say he knows both Andrew and Neil fairly well. So he was worried that Neil might get attached and Andrew's apathy might prevent him from caring for Neil. He was also worried that Neil might not respect Andrew's boundaries. He caught a glimpse of what happened in Columbia and that image will forever haunt him.
This all changed though and where else but on an exy court.
It was half-way through the second half. They were playing Binghamton. To say the match was dirty was an understatement. Two players from Binghamton got reds, while nearly everyone else on both teams were on a yellow. It was a close match. Renee was in goals in the first half and let 6 scores in while Neil and Kevin had only managed to get 7 scores in themselves. Jack seemed like a waste of space on the court, in Kevin's opinion.
Allison caught the ball and sent it flying down the court to Kevin. He couldn't get a shot on goals so he sent the ball to Neil, who caught it and turned to go. But waiting for him was Binghamton's biggest defender who had at least two feet and 100 pounds on Neil. So when Neil went to get passed him he slammed his racket down on his arm. Neil dropped his racket and hunched over cradling his arm. He didn't scream but Kevin could hear his ragged breathing.
He dropped his own racket and went to lay a punch on the defender, but Andrew beat him to it. He placed himself between Neil and the defender and swept his racket underneath the defender's feet causing him to topple over. Andrew the stood over him and proceeded to punch his face over and over again.
By now everyone on the court was fighting, even Nicky who had always claimed to 'be a lover not a fighter' was in a brawl with the other striker. Kevin was nearly at Neil when he saw Renee was suddenly at Andrew's side, pulling him off the defender. Andrew turned to punch he but she easily dodged it. He went to throw another punch but stopped when he saw who it was. He shook his Arm out of her grip and she let him but before he could go back to pummelling the defender, Kevin saw Renee say Neil's name. Andrew's head snapped to where Neil was. Abby and Wymack were helping him off the pitch but even Kevin could see from the way Neil was hunched over and the way his shoulder's moved that he was on the verge of having a panic attack, if not in the middle of one. Andrew must've noticed that too because he took off in Neil's direction.
Kevin reached the defender, who had now gotten to his feet, and went to knock him back down but Renee stopped him. Kevin was about to ignore her and hit him anyway when she turned around and hit him herself. Knocking him right back on his ass. Renee turned to leave but not before kicking him in the balls. Kevin grinned widely.
"Couldn't have done it better myself," he said.
Renee just looked at him and smiled. "I Know that's why I did it."
And it was such an unexpected thing for sweet, catholic Renee to say that Kevin snorted.
He followed her off the court, where the rest of the foxes were now heading. Binghamton going back to their own dressing rooms. Kevin and Renee reached their first and he was not expecting to see what he saw.
Neil sat on the couch, his injured arm lay on Abby's lap, who was inspecting the damage done. But that wasn't the strange part. In front of Neil, sitting on the coffee table was Andrew. Neil had his forehead resting on Andrew's while one of Andrew's hands was raking through Neil's hair and the other was rubbing his back, all the while talking softly to him. Neil's breathing was ragged and shallow but the more Andrew talked to his and ran his fingers through his hair, the more it evened out.
By now all the foxes were back and they, like Kevin, were looking at the spectacle, but none of them looked surprised. They all had an almost identical soft smile on their face except for Aaron, who looked like he couldn't care less (but Kevin saw the tiny worried crease in between his eyebrows and he knows that no matter how many times he says he hates Neil, he's still a fox and their still family) and Nicky, who looked conflicted between grinning like a fool and rushing up to Neil with worry.
Wymack told them all to get changed and that the game was finished, that the current score was the final score. The foxes won by a score. They all moved to get changed except Andrew and Neil.
While standing underneath the hot spray of the shower, Kevin let himself think. He had been worried for nothing, because it was clear that Andrew and Neil cared for each other probably more than anyone thought.
He was the first one out of the dressing room. He immediately went to Neil. He found him still on the same couch except now his head was leaning on Andrew's shoulder, who now sat beside Neil.
"How is it?" Kevin asked.
Neil opened his eyes, "It's not a break," he said and Kevin let out a relieved sigh.
"You still won't be able to play for a few weeks." Abby said from where she sat wrapping up Neil's arm.
"Good thing this was our last match before winter break or you would've died seeing everyone else on the court without you," Andrew said.
Neil let out a breathy laugh. "At least now I'll have the best view in the house when you block down the goal."
"Junkie." Andrew muttered.
Neil leaned into Andrew more and Kevin, suddenly feeling like he was intruding left.
He though, maybe one day I'll find someone like that. He hoped.