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Neil was antsy and restless on the plane ride home.

It had been two weeks since he’d seen Andrew.

They both knew going into this that it was going to be hard. Different teams, different schedules. More often than not, their travel times and game times didn’t link up, and there were agonizingly long periods where they wouldn’t see each other except through a screen. Their Skype sessions were always bittersweet. Neil never let his separation anxiety take his focus away from Exy - Kevin would kill him - but at night, when he was alone in whatever hotel room his team had booked for him, it was harder. Just seeing Andrew’s face and not being able to touch him or kiss him was torture of the worst kind. It was worse than any of the pain Lola or Riko or Nathan had ever put him through, because Neil couldn’t see it and he couldn’t fix it.

Andrew never said anything, but Neil could tell the distance was taking a toll on him, too. It was in the tightness in his eyes and the stiff set of his jaw. His tension always melted away bit by bit whenever he talked to Neil for long enough - that was why they mostly always talked at night before bed, so it was easier for the both of them to sleep. But God, sleeping alone was difficult. Near impossible. The bed was always too empty, the sheets too cold and scratchy, the pillows too hard.

To fall asleep, Neil always thought of their apartment in Colorado. Their home. He thought of the next time they’d both be there together. He counted down the days in his head. It gave him something to look forward to, helped motivate him more on the court.

It was worse for Andrew. Being away from Neil for longer than a day always tore him apart slowly, piece by piece, inch by inch. It was an unwelcome feeling he’d had ever since Baltimore. Whenever he and Neil were separated for more than a day, even if Andrew knew where Neil was, his heart would start to race and he’d get this overwhelming fury and fear and frustration that he didn’t know what to do with. He didn’t ever want to put it all on Neil, because it wasn’t his fault - it was Exy’s fault, and sometimes that made Andrew’s hatred for the game resurge stronger and stronger before he reminded himself why he was doing this - so Andrew shoved it away and smoked more cigarettes. He pushed himself harder in his games. He took out his anger on his teammates. They dealt with it because they had to. His coach yelled at him, which he ignored. At night, his Skype calls with Neil were a reprieve. They helped him breathe easier. He couldn’t fall asleep without seeing Neil’s face first. They usually fell asleep together still on the call, Neil first, and then Andrew, once he watched Neil’s eyes flutter and listened to his breathing even out.

But the bed always felt too big. In the mornings, Andrew would wake up with the blankets all bunched up and held to his chest in a big lumpy mass, the closest resemblance to a body next to him as he could get. He always shoved the blankets away with disgust.

Andrew hated feeling like this. He hated being so dependent on Neil. He hated Neil.

But he’d had years to get used to the feeling.

It had been two weeks since they’d last seen each other, and for once, their schedules lined up. Only for a weekend before they would have to separate again, but Andrew was taking it, clinging to it like a lifeline. He told Neil he’d pick him up at the airport.

On his flight home, Neil could barely sit still. He kept going back to his phone and staring at the message on his screen, the last one he’d received from Andrew: I’ll be there.

The flight was only a few hours, but it felt like fifty. Neil was the first one out of his seat when the plane landed, and the first one off. He ignored the people who sent him annoyed glances for budging them with his elbows. None of them mattered. All that mattered was getting off the plane and finally, finally, getting to Andrew again. Two weeks was too long. Neil felt like he was going to break if he didn’t have Andrew’s stabilizing touch, if he didn’t have Andrew’s strength to lean on.

Andrew stood near the arrival gate, hands in his pockets, fidgeting with his car keys. There were too many people in this airport. He was tired. In his haste to get here, he’d forgotten to eat, so he was hungry. His tense posture and his stare made people give him a wide berth, but they did that normally. Andrew didn’t pay attention to any of them. He kept his eyes on the plane exit, waiting for that familiar mop of red curls and the warm shock of those blue eyes.

When Neil rushed off the plane and into the airport, the first thing he saw was Andrew, standing there waiting for him. His breath caught in his chest when their eyes met. They weren’t normally ones for public displays of affection, at least not big or obvious ones, but Neil saw the yes , yes, yes in Andrew’s gaze even before they were close enough to touch. And the next thing he knew, Neil was dropping his bag and taking a running leap into Andrew’s waiting arms.

Andrew caught him and held him up, strong and solid and sturdy. Neil wrapped his legs around Andrew’s waist and buried his face in Andrew’s neck with a shaky breath. He felt Andrew’s arms come around his back and squeeze him so tightly he could feel it in every part of him. Neil dug his hands into Andrew’s hair and kissed his neck and his face over and over again, everywhere he could reach. He kissed Andrew’s cheeks, his nose, his mouth, his jaw, his chin, his forehead, his ears, under his eyes. Andrew let him, tightening his grip and keeping Neil wrapped around him.

God , I missed you,” Neil finally breathed against Andrew’s neck, squeezing his legs around Andrew’s waist as if he wanted to stay there forever. “I missed you so fucking much.”

Andrew took in a shuddering breath. He closed his eyes and breathed in Neil’s scent, comforting and familiar and constant, even after two weeks apart. Andrew skimmed his nose along Neil’s throat and ran his hands over Neil’s back.

“I’m glad you’re home,” he whispered, his voice just slightly choked.

Neil closed his eyes and swallowed up the words, holding Andrew tighter. It had been years between them now, years of this thing that they had both long ago admitted was real, but Andrew would still only ever say so much about his feelings. They were more apt to communicating in silence, and Neil was fine with that. It was what worked for them. He talked, and Andrew listened, and sometimes they didn’t talk at all, and they were there for each other with comforting touches and glances. But now, in the middle of a crowded airport after two weeks without each other, the words left Andrew’s mouth as if he’d always meant to say them.

He didn’t regret them. He couldn’t when he had Neil in his arms like this.

Andrew didn’t want to let Neil go, but he had to, because people were staring at them now, and Andrew didn’t want the attention. He wanted to take Neil home. He wanted to spend the next two days making up for two weeks of no physical contact. He was touch-starved - they both were - and his chest hurt with longing.

He let Neil down from his arms, but Neil kept a tight hold on Andrew’s hand. Neil scooped his bag back up with his other hand and slung it over his shoulder, following Andrew through the airport and out into the parking lot. His eyes never once left Andrew’s face, drinking him in and soaking him up. He rubbed his thumb over Andrew’s knuckles and walked as close to Andrew’s side as he could without tripping them both up. They only broke hands to get into the car, but Andrew took Neil’s hand again and held it over the glove compartment when they were inside and strapped in. He drove one-handed all the way back to their apartment.  

“How was the flight?” Andrew asked. His voice was rough, and he had to clear his throat.

“Too long,” Neil said, leaning closer to Andrew. He looked like he wanted to unstrap himself, climb over the center console and into Andrew’s lap. “I couldn’t sit still.”

“Tired?”

Neil shook his head. “Not at all.” His eyes were wide open and focused on Andrew’s profile, staring at him in that way he always did that Andrew pretended to despise. Neil reached their joined hands up to his mouth and kissed Andrew’s knuckles. “Why? Got plans for me?” His smile was slow and warm, and heat curled low in Andrew’s belly. He’d been tired before, but he was awake again the moment he saw Neil step off the plane.

Andrew broke the speed limit getting home. Neil rushed to unlock the door to their apartment. Andrew had already been home for a few days, but Neil didn’t even take a minute to appreciate being back in the apartment again before he was jumping into Andrew’s arms for the second time, without even asking yes or no. But that was okay. It had been long enough that they only needed yeses or nos on bad days now. And there were more good than bad when they were together. Besides, Andrew didn’t have to say anything to let Neil know that everything was a resounding yes from the moment he stepped off the plane.

Andrew caught him immediately, his hands going to Neil’s ass. Neil giggled and kissed him, tongue licking slowly into Andrew’s open mouth. Andrew kicked the apartment door shut and pressed Neil up against it. He wanted to mold their bodies together and never let Neil go again.

“Take your clothes off,” Neil gasped into Andrew’s mouth.

“You first,” Andrew said.

“You do it for me. I like it better when you do it.”

Andrew shoved Neil’s team jacket off his shoulders. He pulled Neil’s shirt over his head, covering each inch of newly exposed skin with a wet, open-mouthed kiss that left Neil shivering. Andrew bit marks into Neil’s skin on his neck, his collarbone, his chest. One of his hands rubbed Neil slowly over his jeans, and the other tugged at Neil’s hair. He needed to touch Neil everywhere. He needed to reassure himself that this was real, that Neil was here in front of him and not on a screen.

“I missed you,” Neil whimpered when Andrew tongued his nipple.

“You already said that,” Andrew reminded him as he bit down.

“I know,” Neil said, arching into Andrew’s touch. “I just really, really fucking missed you.” Andrew pressed down harder on Neil’s growing erection with the heel of his hand, and Neil whimpered. “Drew . . .”

Andrew let Neil’s legs fall from around his waist so he could shove Neil’s jeans down. Neil toed out of his sneakers and stepped out of his jeans quickly, leaning against the wall with his head tilted back as Andrew kissed his way down Neil’s stomach, biting the soft flesh. Andrew kissed the imprint of Neil’s hardening cock over his briefs, running his lips along the shape of it. Neil fisted his hand in Andrew’s hair and breathed unsteadily.

Andrew tugged Neil’s underwear down with a finger, pulling it off him. He paused when he had Neil’s uncovered erection in front of him. He took it in his hand and stroked Neil slowly. Andrew kissed a path up the length of Neil’s dick, ending at the head. Neil shivered and tightened his hand in Andrew’s hair.

“That feels so good, babe,” Neil whispered. Andrew’s spine tingled at the pet name. He and Neil usually weren’t one for platitudes like that, but after a long separation, Neil always let them slip out. Andrew couldn’t say he minded.

Andrew closed his lips around the head of Neil’s cock and sucked lightly, tongue lapping up the moisture that started to bead at the tip. He relaxed his throat and slowly, slowly, took Neil all the way down, running his tongue along every inch of skin that passed his lips. Andrew closed his eyes and savored the heady taste of Neil, the weight and feel of him in Andrew’s mouth again. It was pure bliss.

Andrew took his time, going slow and using every trick in the book he knew. He pulled off until just the head was in his mouth and pressed his tongue hard against the spot just under the crown of Neil’s dick. Neil whimpered and arched against the wall, thrusting further into Andrew’s mouth. God, those noises. Those beautiful, filthy noises. Andrew was painfully hard against his jeans. He wanted to be inside Neil so badly.

They’d had Skype sex while they were apart, only a few times, but it was nothing compared to here and now, nothing compared to the real thing. The sounds were so much more beautiful when they weren’t being heard through a speaker.

“Drew,” Neil gasped out. Andrew looked up at him, and Neil was looking down at him, eyes fixed on Andrew’s. Andrew gave another suck, hollowing his cheeks, eyes never leaving Neil’s, and then Neil was coming hard. Andrew finally closed his eyes and swallowed it all, sucking Neil through the orgasm.

Andrew pulled off slowly with a wet sound, and then he kissed the oversensitive head of Neil’s dick a few more times before he stood up. Neil’s face was flushed, his eyes closed, lips parted as he tried to catch his breath. His eyes opened when Andrew brushed a thumb along his scarred cheek. Neil brought his hand up to keep Andrew’s there and leaned his face into the touch, turning his head to kiss Andrew’s palm. Andrew leaned forward and kissed Neil softly, sucking and biting gently at his lips until they were red and swollen. Neil’s arms wound around Andrew’s neck and into his hair. He didn’t ask about Andrew needing to get off - that would come soon, and he knew it.

Andrew put two fingers to Neil’s lips. Neil opened his mouth, and Andrew’s fingers slipped inside. Neil sucked on them as he kept eye contact with Andrew. When they were wet enough, Andrew took them out and brought them down to Neil’s ass. He dragged them slowly along Neil’s crease until he reached his rim. Neil leaned his forehead against Andrew’s shoulder when the pads of Andrew’s fingers circled his hole.

“Relax,” Andrew whispered, biting gently at Neil’s earlobe. “Let me in.”

“I fingered myself sometimes when I was away, but it’s - it’s been a few days and I - “ Neil shuddered when Andrew pressed gently against his entrance. The image of Neil fingering himself open, thinking of Andrew, made Andrew hold him tighter.

“It’s okay.” Andrew kissed Neil’s jaw. “Just relax for me.”

Neil took deep breaths and let his body melt. He hooked one leg around Andrew’s waist, keeping the other on the ground.

Andrew slipped one finger in up to the knuckle, his breath catching at the tightness and the warmth. He moved it slowly in and out, crooking it at an angle that made Neil whimper again.

Neil’s body remembered what this felt like, and he relaxed easily, allowing Andrew to slip the second finger in. Andrew scissored him open slowly, rubbing Neil’s prostate on every other pump of his fingers. Neil breathed heavily against Andrew’s shoulder, arms crossed around the back of his neck.

“Bed,” Neil mumbled. “Take me to bed.”

Andrew didn’t take his fingers out as Neil wrapped both his legs around Andrew’s waist. Neil clung to Andrew and Andrew supported his weight with one arm around his back. Neil was making soft little mewling noises that went straight to Andrew’s cock, and he was pushing back on Andrew’s fingers, lifting himself on Andrew’s shoulders and pushing back down. Andrew mouthed at Neil’s neck as he carried him to their bedroom.

He laid Neil gently on the bed. Neil was already naked, but Andrew still hadn’t taken anything off. He had to take his fingers out of Neil to strip down to his underwear and armbands, and Neil replaced Andrew’s fingers with his own, closing his eyes and half-burying his face into the pillow as he stretched himself open at a slow, relaxed pace that had his eyebrows drawing together. For a moment, Andrew just watched him, savoring the image of Neil in front of him like this. He was beautiful. God, how Andrew had missed him.

Neil opened his eyes when Andrew reached into the nightstand drawer for the lube. He took his fingers out and spread his legs wider in an invitation, shifting his hips closer to Andrew. He held his arms up with his hands outstretched, a silent request for an embrace. Neil always liked to be as close as possible to Andrew when they reunited after a long time, and Andrew always pretended to be annoyed by it, but he couldn’t lie to himself. He craved the affection and the intimacy as much as Neil did. It was a comfort they both needed.

Andrew waited until he’d lubed himself and positioned his tip against Neil’s hole before he leaned down and allowed himself to be caged in Neil’s waiting arms. He put his own arms underneath Neil’s back, so they were pressed between Neil’s body and the mattress. They held each other close, chest-to-chest, as Andrew slowly pushed inside. Neil’s legs came up around Andrew’s waist again, a familiar and long-practiced position.

Neil was still a little tight even after the prep, but it felt good. Neil breathed into Andrew’s neck and nipped lightly at the skin while Andrew adjusted himself and pressed slowly forward, until he bottomed out. Neil’s whimper was soft and high, and it reminded Andrew vividly of their first time. It had been like this - slow and tender, careful. Neil wasn’t a virgin anymore, but the sounds he made now were almost the same as the ones he’d made back then. Andrew shuddered and held Neil tighter.

He moved slowly inside Neil, pushing in and out in a steady rhythm as Neil arched up to meet Andrew’s thrusts. Andrew removed one of his arms from around Neil’s back and tugged gently at Neil’s hair, pulling his head back so he could see his face. Andrew put his hand on Neil’s scar-roughened cheek and brushed his thumb under Neil’s eye, then curled Neil’s hair behind his ear with gentle fingers. One of Neil’s hands snaked between their close-pressed bodies to stroke himself, but his other hand was cupping Andrew’s face in the same manner Andrew was holding his. Andrew removed his other arm from around Neil’s back so he could wrap it around Neil’s cock, and they stroked Neil together, fingers overtop of one another. The fingers of Neil’s hand that was on Andrew’s face curled on his cheek, pulling him down for a kiss. Neil moaned into Andrew’s mouth, and Andrew swallowed the sound, holding back one of his own.

“I want to hear you,” Neil whispered as they kissed, knowing Andrew was restraining himself. “Let me hear you, Drew.”

Even after the years that had passed, Andrew didn’t like to show himself coming undone. But this was Neil. This was his home. This was . . . it was.

On his next slow thrust into Neil, he let out a low groan, his body shaking as he neared the precipice of an orgasm. Neil trembled as their joined hands on his cock brought him further to release.

Andrew buried his face in Neil’s neck and groaned again, and there was more in it than the first one, more emotion than he wanted to let out.

“I’m here,” Neil whispered, stroking Andrew’s hair. “I’m here, I’ve got you.”

Two weeks was too long to be apart. Never again. Andrew couldn’t go that long without touching Neil, kissing him, holding him. He’d tried to train himself to get used to the feeling of being away from him since he’d graduated from Palmetto, but it never worked.

Andrew’s breath was unsteady and his grip on Neil was tight, and Neil just kept mumbling, “It’s okay, baby, I’m here.”

Andrew wanted to tell him to shut his mouth and to not call him baby, but he didn’t. He kissed Neil instead to keep him quiet, slow and deep and passionate as their tongues met and moved against each other sweetly.

Neil bit down on Andrew’s lip and said, “I’m gonna come,” in a voice like an angel’s.

Andrew was almost there himself, so he nodded and said, “With me.”

Neil’s eyes only left Andrew’s when they fluttered and closed as he came, spurting over his and Andrew’s hands and spilling onto their stomachs. Andrew felt himself spill inside Neil, and he stayed buried deep with his head on Neil’s chest, biting at his pecs, until Neil clenched around him and coaxed the last drops out of Andrew’s climax. And even then, Andrew stayed where he was, not bothering to pull out just yet. Neil liked it when he stayed in him for longer, anyway. Neil kept Andrew’s head close to his chest and played with his hair, and Andrew enjoyed the feeling of Neil’s chest rising and falling as he tried to get his breath back. Andrew could hear Neil’s heart beating, could feel it against his ear, and it was going as fast as his own. Andrew brought his hand up to trace patterns in Neil’s flushed skin. They were both sticky and sweaty, and Neil’s cum was drying where it had landed on both of them, but neither of them made any move to get up.

After a few comfortably silent moments of this, laying there holding each other, Neil said quietly, “I hate playing on different teams.”

Andrew said, “I know.” Then, after a minute, “Me too.”

Neil sighed. It wasn’t a problem that could be fixed right now. Andrew wanted to - he wanted to go to his coach and demand he be traded to Neil’s team immediately - but he could think about that later.

For now, they still had a weekend left together before Exy would call them away from each other again.

Andrew finally pulled out, his cum leaking out of Neil’s ass and dripping down his toned thighs. Neil didn’t seem to mind, as he curled up on his side with his eyes closed and a smile on his face. Andrew studied the details of his face for a minute longer before he got off the bed in search of a towel. He went into their bathroom and washed his hands, then wet a cloth and ran it over his stomach. He brought the towel out to Neil, cleaning him off with gentle strokes. Neil shivered when Andrew ran the towel between his legs. Andrew threw the towel in the general direction of the hamper and settled back beside Neil on the bed, kissing his forehead.

“I’m really glad I’m home,” Neil whispered into Andrew’s skin.

Andrew wrapped his arms around Neil and held him close.

“Me too,” he said.


 

Andrew hated airports.

His fear of heights was enough to make him despise them, but he also hated everything they represented: departures. Leaving. Separation.

Here they were again, and this time Andrew was the one who was leaving Neil behind. He didn’t want to. He wanted to say fuck you to his coach and his team and stupid fucking Exy and stay home with Neil. Neil tried to keep the sadness off his face, but he couldn’t quite succeed. His eyes were just a bit wet as he walked Andrew to his gate. That made it a thousand times worse.

Andrew conjured up the memory of what they’d done last night, before he’d packed his bag. Andrew had been sitting on their bed, staring at his empty bag, unable to find the will to pack. He didn’t want to. He never wanted to leave Neil again.

Neil had come into the room, a small, sad smile on his face as he tried not to linger on the fact that this was their last night together for what was probably going to be another week or more. Andrew had looked at him, and something unfurled in his chest, a need and a want that burned him from the inside out, and then he was pulling Neil down, and the next thing he knew, Neil was inside him.

It had been slow, Andrew sitting backwards in Neil’s lap as he rode Neil, rocking his hips back and forth as Neil thrust up into him. Neil had been latched onto Andrew’s neck almost the whole time, sucking it, kissing it, giving him hickeys that would be impossible to cover up, and Andrew was overcome with pleasure, with heat, with the feeling of Neil inside him and Neil’s arms around him, holding him like he was something to be treasured. Neil had fucked him more than a few times before, but it was always something Andrew had to ease into. This time, though, Andrew didn’t hesitate. If he was leaving Neil again, he wanted to leave with this. With this feeling. Of being safe. Of being home. Of being . . . happy.

Neil’s hand caught Andrew’s, pulling him out of his head. They were at Andrew’s gate now, and it was almost time to board the plane. Neil was trying for a smile, and the sight of it made Andrew’s chest hurt with longing.

He pulled Neil close, hugging him tight. “I’ll be back soon.”

“Not soon enough,” Neil mumbled into his shoulder.

“Don’t get yourself killed or kidnapped while I’m away.” It was a familiar parting phrase they often left each other with, and Andrew wished it was a joke. But in their lives, it couldn’t be.

“I won’t,” Neil said, clutching the hem of Andrew’s sweatshirt in his fists. He sighed, looking down at the ground. His voice was small and it wavered when he spoke again. “I don’t want you to go.”

“I have to,” Andrew said, even if he hated it. Neil scowled.

“I know,” he snapped. “I just . . .” His shoulders slumped. Andrew felt his heart break apart and crumble in his chest. He hated this.

Andrew lifted Neil’s chin up with a finger. Neil’s blue eyes were still shiny, and his bottom lip trembled. God, this was ridiculous. Neil was so dramatic. Sometimes Andrew hated that Neil was so sensitive, because his emotions always rubbed off on Andrew and made him feel things he never thought he was capable of feeling.

Andrew pulled him in for a kiss, lingering on Neil’s lips for as long as he could. A woman’s voice came over a speaker, last call for boarding. Neil’s hands tightened in Andrew’s hoodie for a brief moment before he let go, and Andrew separated their mouths.

“Bye,” Neil whispered, squeezing Andrew’s hand. He sniffled. It took everything Andrew had to walk away, and even when he did, he held onto Neil’s hand for as long as he could, stretching their arms between them until they had to let go.

“I’ll see you soon,” Andrew said fiercely over the obstruction in his throat. He hated, hated, hated this.

Neil gave him a watery smile and nodded as he watched Andrew get in line to board the plane. As the attendant took his boarding pass, Andrew turned and looked back at Neil one more time.

God, how he wanted to run. He wanted to run and take a flying leap into Neil’s arms just like Neil had done to him only days before.

Neil lifted his hand and waved as Andrew boarded the plane. Andrew waved back.

Andrew spent the entire plane ride reliving last night, remembering the warm feeling of Neil inside him, how it felt to be held in his arms.

When he got off the plane in the city where his team played, Andrew had a message on his phone.

I’ll see you soon. Love you. - N

Andrew breathed.

When he let the air out, his chest felt just a little lighter.