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Hidden Talents

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Only three people have a visible reaction when Neil emerges from the bedroom, right behind Andrew: Nicky gasps and clutches his chest; Matt beams; and Allison looks something close to impressed. The rest of the team either doesn’t seem to care or aggressively doesn’t care. Dan is grinning, but Neil thinks that might be more about Matt’s beaming smile than his own appearance.

‘You, oh cousin mine, have missed your calling,’ Nicky sighs, shaking his head morosely.

Andrew pretends he doesn’t hear him, and grabs their coats, tossing Neil’s to him.

‘He could still become a personal shopper,’ Allison says.

Nicky shakes his head. ‘I think it’s too late. He’s already known as “that goalie from the Foxes”. No one is going to take his fashion advice.’

‘They might if we took before and after pictures of Neil’s wardrobe,’ Allison suggests.

‘What wardrobe? He had like two pairs of jeans, a t-shirt, and a set of workout clothes when he got here!’

Neil lets the two bicker, pulling on his coat and looking down at his outfit. It’s just black skinny jeans and a green henley. What’s so special about it? Andrew picked it out, that’s what makes it special to him. He looks to Andrew for some kind of answer, but he’s standing by the door twirling his car keys in his hand.

‘Are we going?’ Andrew asks, sounding bored.

That gets the team moving. Neil is the last to leave, and locks up. When he turns, he finds Andrew staring at him. He looks angry, but not like he’s really angry. It’s the anger he reserves for right before he tells Neil the percentage has gone up. Neil feels his lips wanting to tug up into a smile, waiting for Andrew to give him that new number.

But Andrew doesn’t say anything, he simply falls into step beside Neil as they follow the rest of the team down to the parking lot. They’re walking in sync, their arms swinging, hands brushing every time they meet in the middle. Halfway down, Andrew links their pinkies. Neil lets the smile bloom and turns towards Andrew.

‘120,’ Andrew says.

There it is.