“Paging security, Code Yellow. Paging security; Code Yellow.”
Andrew's phone began to ring in his pocket as he breathed out a mouthful of smoke with a sigh. The unique headache caused by one Neil Josten began to pound behind his eyes as he answered it, eyes tracking the blue grey cloud as it rose and swirled into the crisp spring night.
“He made a fucking run for it.” Wymack said, and despite the gruff, angry grind to his voice, Andrew could hear the concern. “He's high as a kite, Andrew, catch him! ”
Andrew hung up and shoved his phone into his pocket and brought up the layout of the hospital in his mind. Neil would never go for the front door, high or not, and the windows were sealed shut. His only exit would be the side door on the wing of the hospital.
Andrew was luckily already standing just outside the door that lead into the very wing that his dumbass striker was supposed to be in, recovering from getting his tonsils removed. He'd only left the room for five fucking minutes, but of course, of course, that's when Neil, drugged and confused would wake up and try to rabbit.
Andrew ground his teeth together, furious at the twist in his chest at the thought of Neil waking up disoriented and alone and deciding he had to run for it. That he wasn't safe in a hospital.
He was probably fucking terrified.
Andrew stepped out of the halo of light from the street lamp, confident that the darkness, his all black ensemble and Neil's drugged state would leave him virtually invisible.
Mere seconds later, he heard the side door click, click, click open. Stuttering as if the person was unsure they wanted to come out, or, as Andrew cast his eyes to the shaking figure struggling with the door, simply too weak to actually open it.
Neil slipped out, clad only in a thin blue hospital gown and Andrew's own letterman jacket. He'd slung it over the back of his chair on the way out of the room, incorrectly assuming that Neil would remain asleep for the short span of time between Wymack filling out his discharge paperwork and Andrew taking a smoke break.
“Abram.” Andrew said, stepping into the light. Neil froze in place, swaying on bare feet as his eyes clearly tried and failed to focus on Andrew's face. He didn't answer, but he shifted, visibly trying to calculate how to escape.
“Your name is Neil Abram Josten, number ten, starting striker for the Palmetto State Foxes.” Andrew quoted Neil's own words back at him, stealing the chant he muttered after he shook himself awake from nightmares. “Your parents are dead, you are safe, although you’re currently attempting to run after getting your tonsils removed. Remember, Neil, you promised you wouldn't.”
Neil's hands moved to his face and Andrew could see the steadily rolling bead of blood on the back of his hand from where he must have torn out his IV. He poked at the back of his jaw and throat and flinched.
“Yeah, idiot. Don't touch it.” Andrew snapped. He wanted to drag Neil back inside, to patch up his hand, to make him stop bleeding but there was still no recognition in his frigid eyes. But he was beginning to wilt; adrenaline, pain, and the last dredges of surgical grade anesthetic taking its toll.
“You're wearing my jacket,” Andrew tried, “There are keys in the right pocket and a wallet in the left.”
Neil reached for the wallet first, warily as if it would explode, and flipped it open. The street lamp illuminated the haunted expression on his face that faded swiftly into confusion as he took in the photo in Andrew’s centerfold.
Neil, posing with Sir Fatcat who lived illegally in their dorm. He was holding the grey, one-eyed ragdoll high above his head, recreating the Lion King moments after they'd finished watching it. Nicky had been the one to snap the photo, capturing Neil’s closed eyed laughter, the flush visible even through the dark summer tan on his face. In the background, Aaron was watching the spectacle with the ghost a smile and Andrew sat next to him, face even and calm. Nicky had only sent it to Andrew, winking at him from across the room.
Neil’s expression began to thaw, and as he flicked his eyes up to Andrew and back down to the photo, his other hand reached into his right pocket, grabbing for the keys. Andrew could see the moment his hand came in contact with the ring, jagged edges digging into his palms. Neil's shoulders dropped, breath leaving his chest with an audible woosh at the same time that his knees buckled.
Andrew lunged forward, abandoning his cigarettes to snatch Neil up before he could hit the ground.
“Andrew.” He said, stupidly relieved. He flinched as soon as he was done speaking as it agitated his throat, frowning for a moment before he smiled seemingly remembering that Andrew was there.
“You were running.” Andrew accused.
“You caught me.”
Andrew shifted his grip, throwing Neil’s arm around his shoulder to guide him back inside. Neil hung limply at his side, head lolling, and it became immediately obvious that Neil was going nowhere under his own power.
“Yes or no,” Andrew said.
“Yes.” Neil slurred immediately.
“You interrupted,” He growled, jostling him gently, “Yes or no, I carry you back inside.”
“Yes.” Neil said, but he stretched the word in an almost drunken impression of Nicky until it sounded more like a hiss than a word.
With a put-upon grunt that was entirely for show, Andrew dipped down and swung Neil up into his arms. He dutifully ignored the little sound of surprise Neil uttered in the same way that he ignored the open adoration on the striker's face as he pulled his arms up and under his chin, leaning fully into Andrew’s chest with a heavy, satisfied sigh.
Security was waiting at the door with an anxious squad of nurses.
They reached for Neil, but Wymack stepped out from behind them with a quiet bark of warning.
“Leave it!” He said, gesturing for Andrew to proceed, “Leave it, you’ll have an easier time, I swear to God.”
Neil perked up at his voice and turned his head to peer out from over Andrew’s shoulder. His auburn hair was a mop of chaos and loose curls as he took a long moment to stare up at Wymack with wide, deer like eyes. Flanked by hospital personnel as they made their way back to Neil’s room, Wymack tried not to smile at the image the two made.
“Wy- Wymack.” Neil rasped, “Hey.” He lifted his head just enough to pop his mouth up over Andrew's shoulder.
“What’s up, kid? Have fun on your little adventure?”
“Coach, did y’know Nicky makes everyone call you ‘Dad,’ when you’re not there?”
“Neil, stop talking.” Andrew growled and Neil ducked down, leaving only his eyes visible behind the broad stroke of Andrew's shoulders.
Andrew set him back down in his abandoned bed, letterman jacket and all, and aggressively tucked him in before tucking in the remaining sheets in regulation perfect hospital corners.
“Didn’t know it was a secret.” Neil yawned.
Whether Andrew thought that would keep Neil in place, David couldn’t be sure.
The nurses swept in as soon as Andrew stepped back, re-affixing his IV, taking new readings, checking stitches and blood pressure and heart rate. Neil tolerated it all, only grumbling, as he still had his hand wrapped tightly around Andrew’s.
“He’s so quick!” One of the nurses laughed, her name tag read ‘Tori.’ “Guess that makes sense though, y’all are Foxes after all.” She and the other nurses let out a chorus of little chuckles and then moved back as a group.
“Okay,” Tori smiled, “All’s well that ends well. You can still break him out first thing tomorrow.”
The rest of her squad and the lingering security left the room, mumbling amongst themselves about other famous escapees, and Tori looked up and to the right as she waited until their footsteps faded before she spoke again.
“Visiting hours are almost up,” She said, pointedly looking at where Neil was rapidly falling asleep, hand going lax in Andrew’s solid grip, “But considering that he’s a flight risk and I’m working tonight, I think it’d be best if one of you were to stay. So he doesn’t run again, of course.”
“Of course,” David echoed.
“Well,” She clapped her hands together lightly, muffling the noise, “I’ll be back in about a half hour! I'll have a cot delivered.”
Andrew kept his eyes on the steady beat of Neil’s heart throughout their conversation until the muted patter of the nurses footsteps all but danced out of the room.
“Okay, great.” Wymack said, Andrew heard the scratching of his fingernails against his scruffy beard, “I’m heading out then, I’ll be back for you in the morning.”
Andrew glanced up and let his lips twitch into a smirk, Wymack's face collapsed into exasperated resignation as Andrew opened his mouth.
“Goodnight, Dad.” He said.
“For fuck’s sake.”