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Ice Doesn't Melt In Mid-December

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Andrew taps his foot against the tiles of the diner floor.

He ordered the pizza. Of course. Of course he did.

Steven kept saying it looked good and that he'd want some, too.

So he got it. Even though he just as easily could have gotten himself a meal and had Steven get something on his own, too.

But then Steven would probably just order the pizza and make him have some on top of his other food. Which would be even worse.

So he gave in.

And hates himself for it.

He shouldn't be that weak. He shouldn't give in to food, to wants, to cravings.

He certainly shouldn't give in not to Steven fucking Lim.

Yet here he is.

He ignores his own worries and sips his water, tries to tell himself he can try again next time. He'll just eat something actually good for him tomorrow.

And, mostly, it works.

He eats the greasy pizza and doesn't feel (that) bad about it and laughs with Steven and has a good night.


He doesn't have a good morning. He rolls his eyes when he weighs himself, trying to reason with himself that it's just food and water weight, he couldn't have literally gained three pounds in a day. He's fine. That's normal.

But it's still important to eat well.

He has yogurt. The kind with the fruit in it.

It's good and makes him feel good and makes him feel like he's being healthy.

That's all he wants here.

Just to feel good and healthy.

Even if that means he skips lunch because he can't think of anything that sounds good and once he starts looking into whats nearby he starts feeling anxious and decides it'd be better not to freak himself out and just skip it today.


Andrew sits down at his desk with his coffee and waves at Steven as he walks through the office.

He stops at Andrew's desk on his way to his own.

"You trying those new flavors?" Steven taps his own drink against Andrew's cup of coffee. He's gotten into the habit of cheers-ing him at least daily. Andrew isn't even sure he's noticed.

"Ah, no," he shakes his head, "I'm one of those purists. Just pure black. Barely any milk."

"What?" Steven laughs, "Like, always? For fun?"

"I don't drink coffee to have fun," he replies.

Steven laughs, "That's pretty metal, man."

Andrew just laughs along and drinks his coffee as quickly as he can.

It's not like it tastes good. It just feels right. People like Steven can have their weird fancy seasonal frappé mocha things — he just wants his caffeine without anything extra.


Steven actually takes him back to a place they went to for Worth It.

They've talked about it before but have been too busy to do it together. Andrew's never done it alone, either. Granted, he rarely eats out if he's alone. It's a waste of time and money.

They'd both finished work slightly early enough to actually go out and eat together. And suddenly Andrew actually is worried about the nutrition of places like this.

Not that it's bad — he's actually excited to finally eat it again — but, well... They eat so much for the episodes; he doesn't have to worry during them.

He does have to worry when he's living his own life. That's how it works. If people didn't worry they probably wouldn't think at all. He barely would, at least.

Which is why he's staring at the menu and all of a sudden his stomachs in knots even though he knows what nearly everything on the menu tastes like already.

Steven's making small talk with the person taking his order; He's complimenting the food, too. Andrew knows everything he's saying is true, but it still strikes him how Steven acts so passionate about everything.

Steven finally turns to face him, "What are you going to have?"

"Um," Andrew's brain stops for a second. He blames it on being caught off-guard. Somehow. Whatever.

He rushes himself and silently berates himself for his food choice for about three entire minutes afterward, half-heartedly talking to Steven.

It fades away, though.

It also comes back. Along with the food.

He stares down at it.

This is way more than what I'd be having at home.

Steven holds up a taco and laughs, "Wanna cheers me?"

Andrew rolls his eyes and cheers him.

It's small, but it's enough to distract him enough to actually eat it.

Not to feel good about it. Just to eat it. He does still hate himself for it.

It's no big deal, though. He'll just skip breakfast tomorrow.


Eventually, he stops eating breakfast.

Not because of eating out with Steven a couple months ago; it's just that he tends to eat enough dinner, so his body isn't that hungry by the time he reaches lunch. It's just become a simple habit.

Besides, he's surviving perfectly finely without any breakfast, so he was probably eating too much by having it in the first place.

Somedays he eats it — he sees something that looks way too good and grabs it, he feels hungrier than usual, he feels sick, whatever.

Those days, he tends to skip lunch instead.

It's not like he's starving himself if he skips lunch sometimes. He's just avoiding overeating.

And it's paying off: He looks better. He's lost a handful of pounds. He feels better.


One day, he's getting ready to head back home when he realizes he didn't eat lunch or breakfast.

That's not that good, probably.

Maybe?

He really doesn't know what to think about it. He doesn't really want to think about it.

He's hungry, now, of course. Granted, he's also thinking about it now — asking himself if he's hungry, what he wants — basically asking himself to be hungry.

Not that it doesn't make sense to be hungry.

It's just that he doesn't always trust it when he thinks I'm hungry. It doesn't necessarily mean he needs food at that exact moment. He can usually wait a bit longer and see if it goes away. It helps him avoid eating too much, eating something because of a craving, things like that.

It makes sense.

(To him, at least.)

He stops by Andrew's desk on his way out.

"All comin' along good?"

"Yeah," Steven grins at him, "This episode's going to be great, I think."

"Well, that's grate," Andrew jokes, glancing over the footage of them eating another cheesy food.

"Ha, ha," Steven rolls his eyes but his smile stays genuine.

Andrew spots the packed lunch on Steven's desk, most likely empty by now. He makes a mental note to eat at home instead of getting something on his way.

"You heading home?"

"Yeah," he replies, trying to refocus.

"Me too," Steven looks back at the footage, "In a second," he mumbles.

Andrew looks at the video. He's smiling at Steven over some extravagant dish.

"Yeah," he mumbles, "Keep up the good work."

"Will do," Steven smiles.

Andrew hopes he doesn't notice how forced his own is.

He doesn't grab anything to eat on his way. Just makes himself a sandwich at home. He considers eating chips, too, but decides against it.

(All of the chips in his house are probably expired, anyway: he hasn't eaten any of them in a month or so.)


He'd heard things about fasting and how it's actually healthy before — so he hasn't been too worried about his habit of skipping meals, lately. It's not like he eats unhealthily when he does. He just likes the challenge of it. Even if it makes him hate his job at times.

It makes him hate that his work inherently involves talking about, looking at, and thinking about food so much even when they aren't eating it. It makes him hate that everyone around him is eating their huge breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, drinks, what-the-hell-ever without any concern.

But he still loves deciding not to eat unhealthy foods, he loves the feeling of pride when he says no to food and, even if it sucks sometimes, he feels like the healthiest one here. It's not always easy to make good decisions, after all.

He's about 20 hours into his fast when Steven, holding his own things and clearly about to leave, stops by his desk.

"Hey," he leans against Andrew's desk, "You wanna grab something to eat tonight?"

Andrew glances up at him.

And accidentally starts staring, struggling to think of an answer when, for some reason, his brain just kinda decides to stop fucking working all of a sudden.

"It's not for the show or expensive," Steven laughs.

Andrew taps his fingers, trying to get his bearings, "What, no caviar?"

"Nah, not this time," Steven plays along, "So what do you think?"

Eating dinner with Steven Lim.

Eating. That sounds good. He hasn't eaten in... a while, now.

Dinner. That he's a bit less sold on. He doesn't exactly want to finish his fast right now. He could, though.

With Steven Lim.

Steven fucking Lim with his weird but classy clothes and his jokes and facts and laugh and the ability to occasionally make Andrew act like an idiot.

Huh.

"I already have something ready at home," Andrew lies. He knows he's smiling and acting apologetic. It doesn't feel like he's the one doing it.

"Thanks, though," he hears himself say.

"No problem," Steven says, "I'll see you tomorrow, then?" he steps back, already heading out.

"Yeah, see you tomorrow."

He turns back to his work.

He doesn't have anything ready at home.

He's not sure where that came from.

He just knows that, as guilty as he feels for lying and turning down his offer, he feels strangely proud.

To be fair, he isn't always the best at saying 'no' to Steven's offers to hang out. He is, genuinely, a great friend. That's why he offered. That's always why he offers.

Andrew saves his work and shuts down the computer, trying to ignore both his guilt and his pride. He just wants to head home.

Where he's not going to eat any dinner. Homemade or otherwise.

He's perfectly fine waiting until breakfast tomorrow.

Steven can go out and enjoy his dinner on his own.


When the app he'd started using a month ago tells him that he's eating too little — on the days he isn't fasting — it makes him worry. Briefly.

He's a perfectly healthy weight. He just doesn't eat a lot. And avoids unhealthy food when he's on his own. And fasts sometimes.

But it's not like he's undereating that much.

He eats a decent lunch and a good dinner. That's enough for him.

He eats healthy foods, anyways. It's not like he's just eating a bag of chips and nothing else. He's eating healthy.

He's healthy.


He still stops skipping meals that next week. Just starts eating normally. He stops tracking it and telling himself not to eat certain foods when he really wants them.

Not because it scares him to think of the possibility of hurting his body. Not because he wants to avoid the app. And certainly not because he's getting tired of his diet. Just because he wants to. Completely unrelated to the app, his diet, his energy, whatever. He wants to.

On the second day of eating "normally," he's the one who offers to go with Steven to some new place he wants to try.

"You wanna come with?" Steven asks.

"Well, yeah, it sounds pretty good. Might as well try it."

"Awesome," Steven mumbles, then speaks up, "Awesome!"

"Awesome," Andrew copies him.


On the fourth day of 'normal' eating, he instinctively winks at Steven on his way out of work.

Steven doesn't seem to think anything of it. He just laughs and winks back.

Andrew, meanwhile, worries about it the entire way home.

He finally lets himself freak out once he closes his front door.

What the fuck? What the fuck? Seriously?

Jesus, his instincts. That was weird. That was definitely weird.

Sure, yeah, whatever, Steven didn't care, but still. He just winked. For no reason. Just instinct.

Some stupid, useless instinct.

He walks through his kitchen, glaring at the fridge.

Jesus Christ.

He ignores any ideas he'd had for dinner and just grabs a bottle of water instead, trying to think of something that isn't how much of an idiot he is or Steven's stupid winking face.


He tries not to think too much the next morning — just grabs a bottle of water and heads to work.

His stomach growls at him while he locks his door.


It's Christmas-time and he agreed to hang out with Steven for some damn reason and he's starting to regret every choice he's ever made.

He has a peppermint hot chocolate. For some reason. He said yes to trying something that isn't black coffee, checking out the park's decorations, and hanging out with Steven. For some unbelievably stupid reason.

Steven's sitting next to him on the bench, looking up at the lights they've strewn around the park. He's smiling and there's fog coming out in puffs from his mouth and his drink. Shit. Why did he say yes to this, again? Not one bit of it seems like a good idea now that it's actually happening.

Andrew pries his eyes off him and stares down at his drink.

Part of him wishes he could enjoy this. Enjoy the holiday season and enjoy the lights and Steven's company and the fun of it all.

Another part of himself, a louder part of himself, worries about how much sugar is in hot chocolate. That part of him hates how being with Steven messes with his thinking ever so slightly. Just enough that it feels like a risk.

"Are you okay?"

"Hm?" Andrew looks up from his drink and meets Steven's eyes, "Oh."

Steven raises his eyebrows and smiles at him like he has no idea how that's going to affect Andrew's thinking.

"I'm fine," he manages to say, trying to remember to breathe.

Steven scoots closer to him. For no reason.

Andrew distracts himself with a sip of cocoa before he can freak about whether or not it's healthy. At least it's warm. That's nice.

"The lights on that tree are so cool," Steven says, pointing at some random tree.

Andrew nods, trying to actually pay attention and be present, "Yeah, it's really pretty."

Steven's leg is against his.

He wants to freak out about it but, somehow, it's not that bad.

At least it's warm.


Andrew's still in what he thinks of as 'Worth It Mode'. He doesn't worry about eating healthy and he doesn't worry about whether he says something 'too weird' or whatever. It's for the show. Things can be edited. It's fine.

Besides, it's really nice to have a break every once in a while.

Which is why, when he's finally saying goodbye to Steven after their final day of shooting, he doesn't freak out when Steven stands close to him, even if there's no one else in the room.

He doesn't freak out when he grabs his hand, either. He squeezes it back.

And when Steven leans closer to his face and says, "This is okay, right?" Andrew is still in 'Worth It Mode'.

And 'Worth It Mode' Andrew doesn't think it's a horrible and horrifying idea to kiss Steven Lim.

So Andrew says, "Of course it's fine," and squeezes his hand tighter.


He feels sick the next morning and wonders if he's going to end up puking up all that he ate yesterday.

It's not like he's one of those girls in those documentaries trying to be thin or whatever. This is barely even about the food itself. He just feels sick and ate a lot and wants to undo it all and be in control of his fucking life again.

He wants to be in control of himself again.

Like when he was eating healthy, making the right decisions, feeling good, and not kissing Steven.

Instead, though, he just skips breakfast and paces around his room — half to help burn off what he ate yesterday and half from nerves.


Andrew pretends to go out for lunch so that he won't have to risk Steven asking him to eat it with him.

He goes for a walk, instead. The extra burned calories are just a perk — he just needs something to busy himself with.

The worst part is — even now, trying to be in control and strong and healthy — he still wants to be with Steven.

Not that he didn't notice before. It just wasn't an actual option before. He could ignore it and just be his friend and not have to stress about any of it. It wasn't possible for them to date.

Now, it's a possibility.

It isn't nearly as scary as he'd convinced himself it would be, either.


It's nowhere near as scary as he'd thought.

It's actually really similar to before, just with the added bonus of actually getting to hold Steven's hand when he wants to, of Steven occasionally kissing him on the cheek, and of him not having to worry about whether something he said was too obvious.

He still struggles with it, of course. It takes a lot out of him at first. He has to fight off the fear, the dread, the worry, and all the rest. It gets easier, though. He gets comfortable. Slowly.

It gets hard again when Steven asks him out to dinner.

He doesn't seem to mind his excuses the first few times, but then Andrew starts worrying again.

He really doesn't want to lose this just because he freaks out about eating too much and hates unhealthy things. He doesn't want Steven to worry or think he's avoiding him or think he's pulling away or whatever.

So, he finds an easy fix. Whenever they go out to somewhere unhealthy, he just eats a healthy lunch and breakfast. Or doesn't eat lunch and breakfast. Whichever is easier that day.

He doesn't have to freak out, Steven doesn't have to worry about him, they get to go out, and he's fine even if he eats bad food sometimes. It's not a problem.

It's fine if he eats unhealthily every once in a while. It's for Steven, after all.


Steven comments on things that Andrew knows about his body but doesn't exactly notice.

"Your hipbones are really sharp, you know," he mumbles, once, Andrew half-sitting in his lap on the couch.

"You'd think you'd be bigger, considering how much we both end up eating."

Andrew laughs, "I don't eat three different kinds of mac and cheese daily."

Steven laughs and starts to make a joke back, but Andrew kisses him to shut him up before he can.

He grabs onto his hips, and Andrew silently hopes he doesn't mind if he loses a bit more weight.

That's not even his intention, but it keeps happening. Not that it bothers him. He was overweight before he started eating well, anyways.


Steven's mom pokes at Andrew's sides, "I thought you two ate a lot for your job? He's so small!"

Steven laughs, "It's not all we do." He shoots Andrew an apologetic look but Andrew just smiles in response.

"You do eat when you're not on camera, right?" his mom jokes.

Andrew laughs, "Of course I do."

"You better, young man," she smirks at Steven, "Or else someone has to work more on his cooking."

He has an idea where Steven got his compassion from.


Later, laying next to Steven while he sleeps, it occurs to him that he while he didn't lie, it still feels like it.

He eats when he's not on camera. Like when he's with Steven.

Whenever he starts getting dizzy, he knows that means he's hungry, so he has a snack. He eats.

It still feels like a lie, though. The way it just slipped out instantly and didn't even feel like he was saying it.

Not that he wants to tell the truth. That's not it.

He glances over at Steven, fast asleep beside him. He absentmindedly pokes at the small layer of fat and skin covering up his own ribs, not yet visible but easy to feel.

There's no way in hell he wants to tell Steven about it. He'd worry himself sick and just end up making Andrew freak out on him.

Sure, he did just fine the few times he's had to help Andrew calm down from something, but it's not like he actively wants that to happen again. Not that often.

Besides, lying about something doesn't necessarily means it's a problem. It just means it's personal. He can have his own personal life and deal with it himself. He doesn't need Steven to worry about his weird little personal issues.

He doesn't want him to worry, either. Not if he can help it.