He can’t breathe. His heart is pounding in his chest and echoing in his ears and he can’t fucking breathe. There’s nothing he can do to try and remedy this without being noticed. He doesn’t want that. He doesn’t want prying eyes on him trying to find out what the fuck is wrong with him. It’s overwhelming, the need to keep quiet to keep this cool and collected mask on, while inside his mind is racing. The noise in the dorm is too much and the lights are far too bright. He wants to disappear, he wants to leave the rest of his group, who had all come stumbling into the dorm just moments ago, but he doesn’t want their attention.
That’s the last thing he wants right now.
They pay him no mind, only having acknowledged Andrew buried in the bean bag chair, right where he was when they’d left earlier today, eyes glued to the television but processing nothing. He had been on edge all day, but it had been manageable, when the others were gone. When he was alone, he could try and fix this for himself. Who was he kidding? He couldn’t fix this. He was pathetic.
Maybe Drake was right.
He was, wasn’t he?
It never took long for Andrew’s thoughts to succumb to the negativity, after all, when he was raised with it, it was almost a default state of being. He didn’t want it to be. He didn’t want to feel the panic rising in his chest, to feel the racing of his heart. He didn’t want to feel anything at all, he’d rather feel the boring numbness of everyday life, than this shit. He’d rather hop right back on his meds than feel this.
He had been almost happy when he finally got off of those though.
Andrew Minyard was never happy, any happiness that had been in him, had died years ago, through various uncaring foster homes, Drake and juvie.
That wasn’t the point, he forced his thoughts away from the memories of those three horsemen, the ones that led him to where he was today. He blinked, the television coming back into focus now, Nicky’s excited babbling filling his ears, talking about something that definitely wasn’t as great as he was making it seem. Then came Kevin’s grunt of a response and Andrew could hear Aaron rummaging around through their cupboards, stealing snacks from them. Whatever.
Three of the four were accounted for.
Josten was missing. Typical.
This was a good distraction, trying to find the missing monster would keep his mind busy, keep him moving so he doesn’t remember what he’s tried so hard to forget. He’s about to open his mouth, when there’s movement out of the corner of his eye, and he sees Neil, getting comfortable on the couch, bright blue eyes staring down at him, like he knows.
It’s like Neil knows about the panic running through Andrew’s veins, making his stomach churn and his heart race, making it hard to breathe right. It’s like he knows that Andrew’s thoughts are spiralling downwards at an almost alarming rate.
He hates it.
He hates Neil.
Neil with bright, auburn hair, and eyes that pierce through Andrew, leaving him feeling like he was an open book. Neil, who captivated him with his lies and still does with his truths. Neil who grips his keys too tightly and says that stupid things like family matter.
He hates Neil even more as he continues to stare, but Andrew doesn’t have it in him to say anything, not today, and the look on Neil’s face is enough to tell him that he could tell. He hates him exponentially more as he gets up from the couch and moves to the counter, grabbing Andrew’s carton of cigarettes and lighter and leaves the dorm room, door wide open behind him.
Andrew follows, because he always will.
And he hates that too.
They find themselves on the roof of Fox Tower, Neil passing Andrew a lit cigarette without a word and just sits at the edge, feet dangling off. It’d be so easy to push him off, to be rid of this nuisance.
Instead Andrew sits, taking a long drag before pursing his lips, trapping the smoke and feeling the burn in his lungs. He counts to five, waits until it’s almost unbearable before letting the smoke escape. He feels the warmth of Neil’s thigh against his own and he realizes that he can’t hear his heart pounding anymore in his ears, his breathing is normal again and he doesn’t feel like he’s going to vomit.
“I hate you.”