"And this is the kitchen," Andy says too brightly. His palm is slick against Sid's wrist, his fingers teetering on the edge of too tight.
"Lots of cabinets," Sid says. The words come out garbled and rough, and Andy can't quite hide his wince at that, though he obviously tries. Sid edges a little closer and twists his hand out of Andy's grip so that he can tangle their fingers together. He swallows, which does nothing to ease the burn in his throat, but he only sounds a little hoarse when he quietly says, "Hey," and reels Andy in for a soft kiss.
Andy sighs against Sid's mouth and his fingertips are barely more than a ghosting tickle over his jawline. It's strange to be treated so carefully like this, like he's something fragile and precious. It's strange, and Sid expects to hate it, but he can't quite find it in himself to work up any kind of protest.
They stand like that for several long moments, foreheads pressed together and just quietly breathing each other in. When Andy pulls away, he still has that horrible, bruised expression on his face, and Sid smiles at him, even though it makes the barely scabbed over cut that's curving down from his cheekbone to just below his earlobe pull painfully.
There's a microwave on the counter, and it's shiny enough that Sid catches his reflection in it. The marks ringing his neck look worse than they feel, and they feel pretty damn bad, though the swelling's gone down around his eye and the cut isn't as puffy as it was yesterday when he was still working his way toward California.
Andy notices him looking and blanches.
"There's a balcony too," he says, and gently tugs Sid out into the living room, where a set of sliding doors take up nearly an entire narrow wall.
By unspoken agreement, they avoid the bathroom and its mirrors on the official tour, and Sid keeps the lights turned off when he has to go in and take care of business.
"I could kill him," Andy whispers into the crook of Sid's neck late that night. It hurts to laugh, but Sid's helpless to stop the chuckle from escaping.
"Nah, you couldn't."
Andy pushes up onto his elbow, one hand lightly covering a couple of the mottled bruises that are already fading to yellow and green on Sid's chest. There's enough light from the street lights outside the apartment complex that Sid can make out his eyebrows drawing together in a frown.
"Yes, I could," Andy insists. "No matter what was going on in that house, he should never have done this." The hand on Sid's chest lifts for a few seconds to flap in the air, apparently sketching out what 'this' is, before landing on an old scar above Sid's left hipbone. "I could kill him."
Sid uses the pad of his thumb to smooth the frown from Andy's forehead, then combs his fingers back through his hair and curls them over his nape.
"Nah, you couldn't," Sid says again. Andy opens his mouth to protest, and Sid leans up to quiet him with a kiss. "You couldn't, and that's why I love you."
"You still should have told me things were so bad," Andy says, even as he lets Sid ease him back down against his side. "If I'd known, I'd never have left like that."
Sid glances out the bedroom window. It's not much of a view, but he can faintly pick out the outline of a couple of the university's taller buildings in the dark distance.
"Stupid," Andy whispers against his shoulder. "I would have brought you with me."
Sid's chest feels too tight, like there's a vice cinched tight around it, and a fine tremor shivers through his body as he turns in the circle of Andy's arms and shimmies down to tuck his face into the vulnerable hollow of his throat. Andy holds him just a little bit tighter, presses his cheek to the top of his head, and doesn't say a word about the dampness he must feel against his skin.
"You're like Superman," a sixteen year old Andy had exclaimed with equal parts dismay and respect after Sid fell off his roof into a thatch of prickly bushes.
There was a fine spiderweb of scrapes covering Sid's arms and the back of his hands, and his right ankle throbbed even when he didn't try to put any weight on it. "I don't feel much like Superman," he confessed as Andy swabbed his cuts with antibiotic ointment. "And I doubt I'm enough of a boy scout for anyone but you to even try to make the comparison."
Andy just snorted. "Oh, please. You're a total man of steel. Your superpower is dumb luck and it renders you completely invincible."
And safe in the warm cocoon of his room and Andy's smile, Sid had laughed loud enough to drown out the sound of something crashing violently downstairs.