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so good to feel the same way

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Andrew feels like he’s been hit by a freight train.

The sun’s barely beginning to peak through the sheer curtains on the other side of the room, casting a pleasant glow across the hardwood floor, and Andrew groans miserably before curling up tighter in the swath of blankets he’d cocooned himself in overnight. His head is pounding horribly, temples throbbing hard enough that Andrew feels like he’s about to explode. It doesn’t help that his entire body aches, muscles sore and restless, no position comfortable enough to settle in.

And he’s hot.

God, he’s so hot.

There are voices out in the living room, muted beneath the sound of the heater. It’s typical, that Andrew would get sick when they were filming out of state. At least it hit him after they’d already finished everything; the Super Bowl episode was on a production time crunch in order to get it out on schedule. They would have been screwed if this had happened even a day earlier.

Andrew groans again, pressing his face into the pillow. It’s damp and hot to the touch, having warmed from his constant tossing and turning. The whole bed feels disgusting, actually, like he’s just laying in a puddle of his own sweat.

I need a shower, Andrew thinks, half-dazed. A shower and new sheets. And ibuprofen.

It sounds easy enough, and yet Andrew can barely manage to push himself up on his elbows. The pain in his head surges forward, drumming against his skull, and Andrew almost lets himself drop back onto the bed. The only reason he doesn’t is because the air in the rest of the room is blessedly cold, instantly cooling off his heat-sticky skin.

Andrew focuses on his breathing before he forces himself up the rest of the way, rubbing the crumbs from the corners of his eyes. He’d gotten a decent amount of sleep before the fever dreams had started; they were all flashing colors and writhing shapes, nothing explicitly disturbing about them, but they made Andrew restless anyway.

The blankets and sheets pool around his waist, and he kicks them to the end of the bed, shoulders sagging down as he basks in the temperature change. The clock on the nightstand says it’s just a little past seven. Normally none of them would be up until closer to eight-thirty, and Andrew can’t help but furrow his brows together when Adam lets out a particularly loud laugh in the living room.

Oh. Yeah. They were going to get breakfast at some popular local diner before it got busy.

Right on cue, Andrew can hear footsteps approaching his door, Steven’s voice growing closer.

“...probably forgot to set his alarm again.” There’s a gentle knock on Andrew’s door, followed Steven saying, in a sing song voice, “Andrew! Are you up?”

“Yeah,” Andrew tries to say, but it comes out more like a croak. Jesus, he sounds like a sixty year old chain smoker.

Steven pushes the door open, looking way too cheerful for what time it is, and then promptly stops in his tracks when he sees Andrew.

“Dude,” he says, brows furrowing in concern, “are you okay? You look...”

He pauses, like he doesn’t know how to finish that sentence.

“Like shit?” Andrew supplies.

“I wasn’t going to be rude, but yeah, you do.”

“I think I’m sick,” Andrew says. He throws his legs over the side of the bed, and tries not to wince when he muscles twinge in protest.

“No kidding,” Steven says, taking a step forward when Andrew starts to wobble a little bit, balance shot to hell. “Why are you getting out of bed? You need to rest. We can bring you something back for breakfast.”

Disappointment sparks through Andrew as he digs through his bag for clean clothes. He’d been looking forward to going out and eating with them. They rarely got to share meals that didn’t relate back to work in some way, and today was supposed to be their day to play catch up to everything that's been put on the backburner for Worth It.

“I’m not getting dressed for breakfast,” Andrew says, towel and clothes bundled up in his arms as he practically limps past Steven. Christ, his legs hurt.

Everything hurt.

“M’just gonna shower and change the sheets on the bed, and then probably just go back to sleep,” he continues. The bathroom is only down the hall from Andrew’s room, but it feels like he’s run a marathon by the time he finally makes it there, breathing far more labored than it should be.

Steven catches Andrew’s elbow when he begins to lean against the wall, helping steady  him. He looks concerned, expression tight with worry.

“Are you going to be okay on your own? You’re not gonna pass out and crack your head open in the shower?”

Andrew shakes his head, trying not to hyperfocus on the way Steven’s thumb rubs back and forth against his arm. It was an absent minded gesture, one that Steven didn’t even realize he was doing from what Andrew could tell; he was far too focused on Andrew’s face, eyes scanning his features, looking for any obvious signs of distress or pain.

Cute, Andrew’s fever-hazy mind supplies, which isn’t helpful in the slightest.

“I’ll be fine,” he says, just a fraction too quickly. He pushes himself off the wall, staggering towards the bathroom, pointedly ignoring Steven’s noise of protest. “I’ll text you if I need anything, okay? I won’t die while you guys are gone.”

Steven doesn’t look too happy when Andrew clicks the door shut behind him, lips parted as if he were about to speak, hand still outstretched, fingers empty, searching. Andrew’s heart pounds painfully in his chest, the image searing itself into his memory, stored away for safekeeping.

While he waits for the water to heat up, Andrew traces his index finger along the skin of his elbow, following the same path Steven did. He feels warm all over.

And it’s not because of the fever.

 


 

When he gets out of the shower, the sheets on his bed are already changed, there’s a couple of ibuprofen and a glass of water on the nightstand, and Steven and Adam are nowhere to be seen.

Andrew downs the pills and water, remembering how his mother used to nag him to drink plenty of fluids each time he got sick as a kid. He’s half-tempted to text Steven and ask him to pick up some gatorade and maybe a can of soup, but that would require effort on Andrew’s part, and taking a shower while half-delirious was already hard enough. Even though he woke up less than an hour ago, he’s exhausted, the constant fluctuation between feeling too hot and too cold wearing him down.

He’s already half-asleep by the time his head hits the pillow, the rest of his body running on autopilot as he drags the blankets up around his shoulders, sighing contentedly at their cool, fresh touch. All he needs to do is take a little nap, let the medicine work it’s magic, and he’d be perfectly fine.

That’s what he tells himself at least, right before he drifts off and the distorted fever dreams take hold of him again. It’s the same as before; too many colors, too much movement, nothing solid enough to hold onto. They’re not as bad, a little more muted and less chaotic now. Andrew doesn’t toss nearly as much, the ache throughout his body reduced to a more tolerable buzz, the heat of the shower having stripped the tension from him. Andrew swims through unconsciousness as peacefully as he can, given the circumstances.

And then Steven shows up.

It’s not—it’s not real. Andrew knows that, can tell just from the way Steven’s hair shimmers, fluctuating from blonde to silver to gold to a color Andrew can’t even describe and then back again, over and over, like starlight. It’s breathtakingly beautiful; Andrew’s at a loss for words.

“You feeling okay?” Dream-Steven asks, voice inexplicably tender as he kneels beside Andrew’s bed. There are shapes dancing behind him, right where the other bedroom furniture should be, contorting and folding in on themselves, a display that Andrew should be gaping at, should be terrified of.

He can’t take his eyes off of Steven.

“I’m okay,” he whispers. Steven reaches forward and brushes his fingers through Andrew’s hair, pushing it away from his forehead. His touch is automatically soothing, the pain that had begun to ebb up again in Andrew’s body fading just as quickly, leaving goosebumps along his skin instead.

“I was worried about you,” Steven (Dream-Steven! This isn’t real!) says. He cradles Andrew’s cheek in his palm, thumb stroking over the delicate skin beneath Andrew’s eyes.

“Don’t be,” Andrew says. He shifts into the touch. “Nothing’s going to happen to me. I promise.”

His voice sounds raw to his own ears, supercharged with emotion. Steven looks pleased, lips parted in a small smile, crinkles at the corners of his eyes.

It’s—he’s—Andrew can’t even begin to describe the emotion welling up inside him, heart pounding as Steven’s head begins to dip down, their mouths pressing together for the most tender kiss Andrew has ever experienced.

Not real, this isn’t real, this isn’t Steven.

“I’m dreaming,” Andrew whispers when Steven shifts back. His whole body is tingling, lit up like a livewire, filled to the brim with energy. It’s like Steven gave him his strength back, like he cured him of his fever.

If Steven’s surprised at what Andrew says, he doesn’t show it, just nodding in agreement. He looks as if he wants to say something, but before he does, he leans forward and presses another kiss to Andrew’s cheek.

When Steven speaks again, he breathes the words into Andrew’s skin.

“Why don’t you wake up then?”

 


 

Andrew’s eyes fly open at the exact same second Steven (Real Steven) opens the door to his bedroom, a drugstore bag in his left hand. He looks like a deer in headlights when Andrew’s head snaps to the side, mouth hanging open as he sucks in a deep, labored breath.

How long had he slept for? What time was it? Why did he still feel so horrible?

“I’m sorry,” Steven says, looking embarrassed. “Did I wake you?”

Andrew wills himself to calm down. The brief spike of adrenaline starts to seep from him, giving way to the bone-deep weariness from before.

“No,” he says, unable to stop himself from blushing as the events of his dream begin to fully sink in. “Just had a weird dream, is all. What’s in the bag?”

He nearly cringes, hopes his attempt at changing the subject isn’t overtly obvious. Even if it is, Steven doesn’t say anything. He just looks down at the bag in his hand, surprised, as though he had forgotten he was holding something.

“Oh, yeah. I—Adam and I thought it would be a good idea if we got you some medicine. We also brought you back some chicken noodle soup. It’s from Panera, so it’s not the best, but…”

Steven trails off, sounding unsure, and Andrew can’t find it in himself to bite back his grin.

“Thank you, Steven. I appreciate it.”

Steven visibly relaxes, obviously pleased with Andrew’s response. He toes off his shoes by the door, setting the bag on the nightstand, and then settles down on the bed beside him.

“I’m glad you didn’t die in the shower while we were gone,” he says, pulling out a bottle of gatorade and handing it off to Andrew. It’s watermelon flavor.

Andrew’s favorite.

“I told you I’d be fine. Just need some more sleep and I’ll be good as new.” He sits up properly, twisting the cap open and taking a few solid gulps. It’s refreshing, the feeling of having something in his stomach already putting a little bit more energy back into his limbs.

It’s not a lot, though, and as soon as Andrew passes it back to Steven, he sinks underneath the covers again. Traces of the dream are still lingering in the back of his mind, phantom sensations running across Andrew’s skin each time he dares to look at Steven.

“I don’t know, Andrew…” Steven starts, before he bites his lip. He scans over Andrew once, incredible thorough, taking in his entire appearance.

He can’t look good. His hair is stuck up in all different directions, sweat beading along the back of his neck as his fever continues to rise. Andrew feels overheated and miserable, pushing the blankets down to his waist.

“...you still don’t look all that great,” Steven finishes, a half-beat later. He reaches forward, seemingly without thought, until his brain catches up with the movement and his hand freezes, hovering over Andrew’s forehead.

Andrew freezes, too, sucking in a quiet breath. They hold eye contact for a split second, waiting for someone to make the first move. Right before it starts to get awkward, Steven opens his mouth, and asks, “may I?”

His voice is rushed, color starting to appear high on his cheeks.

Cute. Cute, cute, cute, cute.

“Sure,” Andrew says, just the slightest bit strangled from the way his throat tightens up. Steven nods, and then slides his hand under Andrew’s bangs, careful not to press too hard.

His palm is blissfully cool, a welcome reprieve. Andrew’s eyes go half-lidded at the same moment Steven’s grow impossibly wide, and then he’s pulling his hand away, concern radiating off of him. Andrew nearly whimpers from the loss.

“You feel really hot. We need to take your temperature.” Steven pulls the full plastic bag in his lap, shifting a few items around until he finds what he’s looking for: a small, rectangular box. It has the image of a thermometer on one side.

“Yeah, I really feel like shit,” Andrew admits. He watches how Steven starts to pry the thing open, nails scraping against the cardboard a couple times before they finally catch. “But it’s what—”

He quickly glances at the clock, and then back again.

“—9:30 in the morning? I can guarantee I’ll sleep it off in twenty-four hours.”

Steven doesn’t look convinced. “I would hope so, because you can’t fly in your current state,” he says, handing the device to Andrew, who waves him off in lieu of a proper response. He pops the thermometer under his tongue.

Steven’s a natural mother hen, doting on those around him to make sure they’re taking of themselves, and it only gets ten times worse when someone’s sick. Andrew’s seen it before with Jen, and even with Adam when he had some pretty bad jet lag in Japan.

“I’m serious, Andrew,” Steven says, irritated. He continues to unpack the rest of the bag, spreading the rest of the goodies out for Andrew to see. There’s a bottle of Advil, another watermelon gatorade, two cans of soup, and few disposable ice packs.

Andrew makes grabby hands for the ice packs, letting out a pleased hum when Steven slides one towards him. The thermometer lets out a shrill beep as he’s reading the instructions on how to activate the compress, and they both flinch at the sound.

Please don’t be horrible, Andrew silently begs, hoping some merciful God is out there listening. He pulls the thermometer out and flips it around.

103.5°F

“Jesus,” Andrew says. He shifts his hold when Steven leans over so that he can see.

Jesus,” Steven repeats. “That’s high. Did you take the medicine I left on the nightstand?”

“Yeah. I don’t know why it’s like that.”

They share a worried look, and then take Andrew’s temperature again. It comes out the same, the red numbers unwavering.

“This isn’t good,” Steven says, breaking the extended silence that had stretched between them while they were waiting. “Adam said he was going to call and see what we should do, but I think we might have to extend our stay. Especially if your fever doesn’t come down.”

Andrew wants to argue, wants to say that everything will be fine, stop worrying so much, but he suddenly can’t muster up the energy to do so. Steven puts everything on the bed back away and gently takes the ice pack and thermometer out of Andrew’s hands.

“I’ll take some more Advil in a few hours,” Andrew says instead, feeling more than a little pathetic.

“I’ll leave some out for you. Do you want me to get this compress ready?” Steven asks. He gets off the bed, and even though Andrew feels like he’s slowly melting, he still misses Steven’s warmth.

“Please?”

Steven gives him a soft smile. “Of course,” he murmurs. “I’ll be back in just a second.”

Andrew nods, the movement barely visible as he curls in on himself. Steven leaves the door open behind him, and when he returns, Andrew is already fast asleep.

 


 

Andrew sleeps fitfully, waking randomly with no real rhyme or reason. Sometime Steven or Adam is in the room, dropping off a mug of tea or leaving medicine out for Andrew to take. He’s never awake for more than a few minutes afterwards, just long enough to eat or drink whatever they put in front of him, and then he’s out again, slipping back under for a few more hours of restless tossing and turning.

At some point, Steven comes in and forces him to sit up, shoving the thermometer under his tongue with enough force that Andrew whines in protest.

“If you opened your mouth more it wouldn’t have been an issue,” Steven says, “now hold still—”

Andrew doesn’t bother listening when Steven reads his temperature back to him; the worried crease between his eyebrows is enough indication that it isn’t anything good. He turns over instead, hiding his face in his pillow, cheeks heating up under Steven’s uneasy expression.

It’s not safe, having Steven around when he’s sick. Andrew’s too delirious half the time to understand the words coming out of his own mouth, and the brief snaps of clarity he does get are spent trying to sooth Steven’s anxieties. He could say something stupid—he could do something stupid, especially if he mixed up the fever dreams with reality.

“I know you’re too out of it to understand, but your temperature not going down, even with medicine… it’s something to seriously worry about.”

Andrew almost says “I know,” the words resting on his tongue, but they die there when he suddenly feels fingers brush through his hair, Steven’s hand cupping the back of his head. It’s so unexpected that Andrew feels like he can’t breath.

Steven always asks permission before he goes in for intimate touches.

He thinks I went back to sleep.

“I worry about you more than I should… Way, way more than I should.” Steven’s hand stays in Andrew’s hair for another second, and then he’s pulling away, footsteps seeming to echo through the room as he makes a rather hasty exit.

Andrew’s heart is pounding. He would have killed to see the look on Steven’s face; that unguarded, inexplicably tender expression he reserves for whoever he’s taking care of. Andrew’s only ever caught the barest glimpses of it before, and it sent a thrill through his chest each and every time.

Just as he’s beginning to doze back off for real, a pair of voices sound from the hall outside his door, muted from behind the door. Andrew has to strain to hear.

“...don’t know what to do. He fell asleep after I took his temperature again.”

“Did it go down at all?”

“Barely. It went from 103.5 to 103.2.”

“That’s still a lower temperature.”

“Yeah, but not a lot. It’s been over twelve hours and it hasn’t broken. I think we need to take him to a doctor.”

“I think you’re being paranoid; he’s not a kid. A fever isn’t going to kill him.”

“I know, but—”

“I’ll talk to him when he wakes up and see how he’s feeling, okay? If it hasn’t broken by tomorrow morning then we can take him to a clinic.”

“...Okay.”

Mother hen, Andrew thinks, hiding his smile underneath the blankets. It shouldn’t make him feel as good as it does, having Steven pamper him like this.

The door clicks open a moment later, and Andrew can tell by the footsteps alone that it’s Adam. He listens to him settle into the armchair in the corner of the room, apparently staking out to make sure he was there the second Andrew wakes up.

Might as well make it easy on him.

“Steven’s worried?” Andrew mumbles from beneath the quilts. He rolls over and cracks an eye open. Adam doesn’t look all that surprised to see that he’s awake.

“That’s the understatement of the century. He’s acting like you’re on your deathbed,” Adam says. For as snarky as his words are, his tone is still soft, lacking any real heat.

“It sure fucking feels like I am,” Andrew says.

“I can tell. Steven had to help you sit up earlier.”

“It’s rude to kick a man when he’s down, Adam.”

Adam cracks a grin.

“Yeah, sorry,” he says, leaning back into the chair. It looks plush and comfortable, the unassuming beige color adding an odd touch of hominess to it. “I think you should talk to Steven, though.”

“About?”

“You’re smart enough to know the answer to that question.”

God, Andrew hated it when Adam got all quick witted, not biting with any of Andrew’s coy acts. He does know what Adam is talking about, considering he’s the only person Andrew has confided in regarding his… feelings, for Steven. But now’s not really the most opportune time to have a conversation of that caliber; not with Andrew in the state he’s in.

Instead of giving a proper answer, Andrew rolls back over, twisting his hands into the sheets beneath him. “I’m sick, Bianchi. Let me go back to sleep,” he grumbles.

Adam laughs. “You’re running because you know you need to talk to him.”

“Sleeping. I’m asleep now.”

There’s the sound of the chair creaking, which Andrew can only hope means Adam is actually listening for once and leaving. The whole sick card isn’t all that much of an excuse; Andrew does feel exhausted, the promise sleep tugging at him relentlessly. It just happens to help that sleeping means avoiding the problem, too.

“You’re right,” Adam says. “I’ll let you sleep.”

The door opens, and Andrew expects to hear it swishing closed a moment later, but there’s a pregnant pause. Adam’s waiting for something.

Jackass.

“I know I need to talk to him,” Andrew says, just so Adam will leave him alone about it. “But not right now. Not when I’m like this.”

Adam hums.

“That’s fair. Try and get some sleep. We’ll be in here to check on you again in a couple hours, okay?”

Andrew grunts, and turns over again, in both an attempt to find a comfortable position, and to indicate that the conversation was over. The door clicks shut.

 

-

 

Andrew’s dreams start to change after that.

They take on a more solid form, shifting from amalgamations of light and color and sound, and transforming into actual scenes instead. Everything still feels hazy, flashing across Andrew’s mind in rapid succession.

Pizza. Steak. Pasta. Hot Dog. Salmon. Seattle. Steven. Adam. Steven. Steven. Steven.

Andrew’s floating through the weird in-between of being awake and being asleep; the kind of liminal space that gets intensified during fevers, everything twirling and tilting and shifting, falling through Andrew’s grasp like sand.

Donut. “Your mouth and my mouth.”

Cocktail. His head on my shoulder.

Egg. “You probably just taste like me.”

Fried Chicken. His hand against mine.

Brunch. “Can I feed you a bite?”

Super Bowl, yesterday, snow, wrestling, his hand on my side, mine on his chest, rolling together, together, together. Together.

I want to be together.

Why don’t you wake up then?

 


 

Andrew wakes with a painful jolt, his entire body shuddering through the aftermath of his dreams. His breathing is labored, sucking in lungful after lungful of air, with none of it feeling like enough. He’s shaking hard enough that he almost thinks it’s a panic attack.

But he’s not shaking—he’s shivering. Violently.

“Andrew?”

His eyes snap open, and then immediately close again when light floods into them.

“Why’s the light on?” Andrew asks, words slurring together and teeth chattering. What time is it? What day is it?

How long Steven been sitting there?

“You asked me to turn it on so that we could talk. And then you fell asleep,” Steven says. Andrew blinks a couple times, trying to get used to the brightness, and focuses in on Steven. He’s in the chair Adam had been in before, having changed into his pajamas at some point. His sweatpants and hoodie combination looks warm.

All of him looks warm.

“Sorry,” Andrew mumbles. He’s still groggy, teetering on the edge of falling back asleep. “S’cold.”

Why don’t you wake up then?

No. He can’t sleep. He woke up for a reason. They need to talk

Steven sits up suddenly, looking somewhat alarmed. “You’re cold?” he asks, standing and making his way over to the bed in a few short strides. He reaches forward, but then hesitates, just like last time.

Andrew hums and turns his head towards Steven’s hand. A silent invitation.

Steven’s hand is warm against Andrew’s skin when he presses it to his forehead, the callouses along his palm feeling like heaven. Andrew’s content enough that he could be purring, relishing in the feel of Steven touching him.

“Oh, thank god, it feels like your fever broke,” Steven says, smiling wider than Andrew has seen in a while. He starts to pull his hand away, but Andrew, somehow, is quicker: he reaches up, grabbing Steven’s wrist. It feels delicate in his grip.

“Don’t go,” he says. “M’freezing.”

Steven looks confused. “Don’t you want more blankets? There’s some I can get from the living room,” he says.

Andrew shakes his head. “Not blankets.” He has to stifle a yawn. “Jus’ you.”

He uses his free hand to pat the bed for emphasis. Steven’s expression grows incredibly soft, to the point that Andrew’s heart twinges.

Don’t go. Please don’t go.

“Yeah?” Steven says, right before he bites his lower lip. When Andrew nods, eyes transfixed on Steven’s mouth, he continues: “Yeah, okay. I won’t go. Just give me a second—”

Andrew lets Steven pull away then, reaching back behind his head to tug at the collar of his sweatshirt, until it’s up and over his head, and then off completely. He’s wearing one of the merch prototypes underneath it; a plain white shirt with the red Worth It tag across the front. They ended up scraping the design due to its simplicity, but it’s one of Steven’s favorites still, and the longer Andrew watches Steven wear it, the more it starts to become his favorite, too.

Shuffling, Andrew pulls the covers back, revealing just enough space for Steven to slide in. It’s a queen size bed, so while it’s not small by any means, it’s still not quite big enough to properly fit two grown men.

Not that either of them really care.

“Ugh, the sheets are so gross and sweaty,” Steven complains, but he flops down on the bed anyway, so Andrew’s not that embarrassed by it. “Also, you need to roll over. I’ll be your personal space heater, but I’m not going to get any sleep with you plastered against my back.”

Andrew doesn’t try and fight it; half because he’s too tired, and half because the idea of being the little spoon sounds really, really nice right now.

“Pushy,” he says, right before he rolls onto his other side. The light goes out then, and for whatever reason, now that Andrew couldn’t see anything, having Steven in his bed feels so much more real.

Before he gets the chance to freak out, Steven’s sliding up against his back, his hand coming around to rest on Andrew’s stomach. Andrew hesitates, just for a moment, before he brings his right hand to rest on top of Steven’s, lacing their fingers together.

Steven sighs happily against the back of Andrew’s neck, and Andrew wonders if he actually died and went to heaven at some point.

“Better?” Steven asks.

“Yeah,” Andrew says. He tightens his grip on Steven’s hand. “You’re warm.”

Andrew feels kind of stupid after saying that, because duh, of course he’s warm, but Steven doesn’t seem to find anything wrong with the statement. It emboldens Andrew.

It’s just Steven, Andrew thinks. Except, that’s kind of the whole issue: it’s Steven.

Before he can lose his brief moment of bravery, though, Andrew opens his mouth and asks, completely out of the blue, “will you go on a date with me?”

Steven makes a surprised noise in response, and for a split second Andrew expects him to react badly, expects him to push Andrew away, to jump out of bed, but then—

Yes, Andrew. I would love to go on a date with you,” Steven says, moving impossibly closer, until they’re pressed together from head to toe. Andrew can’t help his full body shudder.

“Really?” Andrew says.

“Yes, really,” Steven says. “Why do you sound so surprised? I’ve actually been wanting to ask you for a while...”

Andrew’s glad that they’re not having this conversation face to face. His face is burning, hot enough that he’s almost worried his fever’s back.

“Why didn’t you ask, then?” Andrew says, turning to hide against the pillow case. He squeaks when Steven kisses the back of his neck.

“Just waiting for the right time, I guess. I’m kind of glad you beat me to it. I was really starting to freak out about it.”

Andrew smiles. Of course he would freak out about it, trying to find the right time, the perfect moment. If he’s being honest, Andrew’s kind of glad he beat Steven to it, too. There’s something rewarding about taking the initiative on something and having everything work out in the end.

“Once I’m no longer deathly ill,” Andrew begins, sleep starting to seep back into his voice. The clock on the nightstand says that it’s a little bit past midnight. Steven had been staying up, then, intent on being there for him through the night. Andrew’s heart sores.

“You’re going to…?”

Right. Andrew needs to finish that sentence.

“Once I’m no longer deathly ill,” Andrew repeats, “I’m going to kiss the absolute shit out of you. For as long as you’ll let me.”

Steven laughs, and laughs, and laughs, and Andrew lets the darkness of the room drag him back under, the two of them cocooned together in blankets.

Andrew doesn’t feel so cold anymore.