Aaron was staring at him.
That, in itself, was new and uncomfortable. What made it worse was that Neil was pretty sure the blonde was staring at his scars.
He didn’t make it obvious, and part of Neil wondered if he even realised he was doing it, but sometimes he’d turn around and notice Aaron just… looking.
-Do you want me to tell him to stop?
Offered Andrew when he brought it up one night on the roof. He had his neutral expression on but Neil could see slight worry in his eyes, like he was debating if he needed to teach Aaron some manners.
He shook his head.-Nah, I can talk to him myself. It’s just weird, it just started a few weeks ago, not when I actually got them-he gestured vaguely to his face.
Andrew hovered a hand over his scarred cheek.-Yes or no?
-Yes.-The blonde caressed his cheek softly, tracing the slashes all the way from cheekbone to chin. Neil closed his eyes and enjoyed the sensation, forgetting all about the other, less favorite twin.
Aaron was studying in their room again, which wasn’t a new thing since his room was taken over for a Mario Kart tournament by Matt, Nicky, and overly competitive Kevin, and the girls.
Neil paid him no mind, he was already having a shitty day and didn’t feel like interacting with anybody.
He rubbed his arm, annoyed. The crawling sensation had been there since he woke up. And hadn’t that been a nice way to wake up.
From his nightmares he’d thought he was burning and started panicking before he was even awake. Neil suspected he’d accidentally hit andrew but the other man said nothing.
Andrew just got out of the bed and spoke to him until his breath once under control once more. -Yes or no?
For the first time, Neil hesitated. He wanted Andrew to touch him, to ground him with his hand on his neck like he had done many times before, but he could still feel his arms and face sizzling, like a million bugs walking over him. He wanted to tear it out.
In a voice he didn’t recognize, he whispered,-Only my neck and chest.-Those parts were free of that weird tension.
As he came back to himself, Neil noticed that it wasn’t his skin that hurt, only his scars. They felt tight against his muscles, like his skin didn’t sit quite right on his own body.
He had spent an hour on the shower trying to wash the feeling off.
Now, he was dressed in Andrew’s softest hoodie and running shorts, the only fabrics he was able to stand. Andrew was smoking on the roof but he felt like the wind would do him no good today.
Neil went to the fridge, took out a bag of frozen peas and put it right over his face. His head was tilted back so he wouldn’t have to hold the bag up. Neil let out a groan as the cold managed to calm his irritated skin.
Of course it’d be at that moment that Aaron needed to refill his glass.
-What the hell are you doing, Josten?
Neil simple flipped him off, having to energy to verbally do so.
Instead of ignoring him and getting on with his life, like Neil expected, Aaron got closer to him.
-Is it your scars?
Still with a bag of peas covering his entire face, Neil mumbled something that could be interpreted as “What is it to you?”
-How often have you been treating them? They should look much better by now.
Neil moved the bag so that his mouth was somewhat visible.-Abby took the stitches out month ago.
He didn’t see Aaron roll his eyes, but he felt it nonetheless.-I don’t mean that. If it hurts like that maybe you should change the restorative cream you’ve been using.
Neil raised his head, letting the bag drop to the counter, and looked at him-... the what?
Aaron looked at him like he was stupid-The cream for your scars?-at Neil’s blank face he seemed to get angry,-so they don’t look like shit?
Now Neil was angry too,-I was cut to pieces and burnt to hell, Aaron, it’s bound to look like shit. You don’t need to look.-He grabbed his frozen peas and turned back to his bedroom.
-That’s not what I…-Aaron yelled after him, then let out a huf of frustration and let it go.
Neil shut himself in the bedroom, curled up in bed with the peas and Andrew’s hoodie, and waited for the damned day to be over.
Once Neil shut himself away, Aaron decided to check the bathroom, surely this idiot couldn’t be that much of an idiot? When, after ten minutes of searching, he found no cream he decided to take matters into his own hands.
Andrew was coming back in when he was heading out.
-You’re forgetting all of your books in here.-He pointed to the pile of notes and textbooks piled on his own desk.
Aaron shrugged.-I’m coming back soon, don’t touch anything, I have a system.
Andrew let him go without any more questions, going into the bedroom in search of Neil.
Aaron pulled his phone out as he was heading to the pharmacy.
He smiled at the pet name,-Hi Kate. Remember the other day when we were discussing the best options for scar-healing treatments?
-Was Neil using a cheap brand? I knew you wouldn’t be wrong about those sorts of things. You have a really good eye.
-Actually,-he admitted.-I was. Turns out he wasn’t using bad cream, he just didn’t use anything.
-Like, at all?
-Like, at all.-He teased.-Apparently nobody told him that after you get the stitches pulled out you need to actually keep healing.
-Abby didn’t tell him? That’s strange.
-To be fair, she probably told him and he ignored her since he wasn’t literally dying.
He arrived at the pharmacy and hung up as he decided what would be best to fix not only burns and cuts but also weeks of neglect.
When he came back to the dorm Neil was nowhere to be seen but Andrew was sitting at his desk, looking straight at him as he played with one of his knives.
It’d been a while since he had seen Andrew look this menacing just for him, he’d be impressed if he wasn’t offended.
-Before you say anything,-aaron started.-I want to point out that you are dating an idiot.-Andrew raised an eyebrow but didn’t interrupt.-I honestly thought you at least would know better.
Then he threw the bag at his twin, who caught it in the air effortlessly.
Andrew looked at his twin before peeking in the bag, he took out the tub of cream and read the label. He left out a soft,-Oh
If Andrew felt at all guilty for forgetting a vital part of his partner’s care then he didn’t show it.
Andrew gripped the medicine in his hands, thinking back to Neil’s panicked face that morning. To how he had tried to scratch his own skin off like it was causing him pain to wear it. It was Neil’s job to take care of himself and if the idiot didn’t tell him that he needed to apply some sort of cream then how would he know? Maybe he could have noticed, after all, his brother did.
Andrew looked back up to aaron.
-Yeah, I wasn’t trying to be an asshole, you know?
Andrew nodded at him. He got up and went back into his bedroom, no doubt so he could give Neil the cream.
Aaron was left standing in the middle of the dorm, eyeing his textbooks.
He had done enough for today, he could go play Mario Kart now.
Neil was curled up in bed, wearing Andrew’s hoodie and little else. If they were in any other situation, Andrew would have enjoyed the sight, right now all he could think about was how much pain the other was going through.
Neil rolled his head so he could look up at Andrew.
As he got closer, the striker took a deep breath, searching for the smell of cigarette smoke that still clung to his clothes.
He didn’t ask how he was feeling, it was a stupid question. If Neil was feeling even a little bit better then he’d be changed and ready to go to the court, instead he was half asleep and lazing around.
-Aaron brought you a gift.-The redhead looked at him suspiciously. Andrew held up the tub of scar cream his twin had bought.
-What’s that?- Neil didn’t feel like touching anything with his hands so he let Andrew twist the cap open and take some of the paste out.
-It’s called “scar cream”, three guesses as to what it’s for.
Neil frowned up at him.-I don’t need that.
Andrew looked at him like he was dense. This boy was lying in bed, unable to move, had had two panic attacks in the last three days because of his skin feeling “weird” and he said he didn’t need it?
Andrew knew he was attracted to morons but this was going too far,
-I don’t need makeup, Andrew. Scars are just that, it’s already healed.
-I don’t have time to tell you all the ways in which you are wrong.
Neil shrugged.-I’ve never used any, it’s not necessary.
-Just because you aren’t going to die doesn’t mean you don’t need it.
Neil didn’t have an answer to that so he let Andrew rub the cream all over his itchy arms and burning face.
If he felt instantly better once the soothing balm was applied then no one needed to know that, did they?
Aaron was, once again, looking at Neil Josten as he changed for practise. The habit started once Katelyn mentioned Neil’s scars weren’t healing according to the timelines on their textbooks, now he just couldn’t help it.
The day after he got the cream, Neil didn’t make it out of his room, the day after that he was like nothing happened.
Even now, Aaron could see the first signs of healing of the striker’s arms. The lines were starting to look more pink on the outside and he wasn’t scratching them as often.
Nodding to himself eh turned back to his own clothes.
Later that day, he and Katelyn were studying together at the library. Both their dorms were hell to study in. They were debating whether to push for another hour or just give up and make a coffee run when he spotted Neil at the doors.
Aaron had never seen Neil in the library, the guy was the perfect stereotype of a jock, only studying enough to stay on the team (except for math and whichever language him and Andrew were learning). He saw them and walked straight to where they were seating.
Katelyn got up,-I think I’m gonna go get that coffee…
Neil didn’t bother answering her, just gave a short nod in her direction.
The two looked at one another in silence. Aaron had a lot of experience with this, since he lived with Andrew for many years, but he didn’t feel like staring at Neil for too long.
-What do you want.
Neil opened his bag and started rummaging around without looking away from Aaron.-You helped me, with the cream. And I wanted to say thank you.
-There’s no need. I’m going to be a doctor, so it’s kind of the job description.-Aaron felt uncomfortable with the weight of those icy blue eyes set on him.
-Still…-Neil seemed to find what he was looking for.-I wanted to give you this, in exchange.-The idiot was more similar to his brother every day, the thought bothered Aaron somewhat.
Neil pulled out a single key, no keyring or lanyard. Aaron took it when he passed it to him.-What is it?
-A key.-Neil deadpanned
Aaron looked at him with the most neutral expression he could muster. Neil thought he looked a bit like Andrew just then.
-I can see that, dumbass. What does it open?
-Well, I thought that the best way to thank you for giving me some peace in my own head was to return the favor. That’s the key for the free dorm room at the end of the hall. Wymack said you can’t legally live there, but if nobody catches you then it’s not illegal so…- Aaron wasn’t sure he agreed with that logic but he wasn’t about to pass up an entire dorm just for himself (and maybe Kate as well)
He was about to thank Neil when he stopped him,-We’re even now.
Aaron nodded at him and the striker got out of the chair and walked out of the library.
When Katelyn came back with their coffees Aaron was still looking at the doors, the key clutched in his hands.