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24. “That was, by far, the stupidest thing you’ve ever done.”

 

Neil kicked his feet against the counter, sipping a cup of tea and watching Andrew work. Andrew hadn’t yet asked him to get his ass off of the counter, so he wasn’t about to move.

Instead, Andrew was silently moving around him, mixing ingredients into a bowl for cookies and ignoring Neil completely.

“Want some help, darling?” Neil asked faux-sweetly, before taking a large sip out of his tea.

Andrew glared at him, but the warmth in his gaze negated any anger it might have held. “Well, babe, I don’t want these cookies to taste like burnt tar, so no. You just sit there and look pretty.”

Neil rolled his eyes at the words, but he couldn’t quite keep the blush out of his face at both the endearment and the compliment, however sarcastic it was. Andrew ignored this as well, but Neil knew he caught the way Neil’s cheeks heated—Andrew didn’t ever miss a thing.

They fell back into easy silence, Neil responding to a few texts while Andrew scooped the dough into little balls and laid them out on a tray, before sticking that tray in the oven.

He walked back over to the sink next to Neil, presumably to wash his hands, but before he could get there Neil grabbed his hand, and sucked Andrew’s index finger into his mouth. He swirled his tongue around it, licking up the sugar and not breaking his gaze with Andrew’s.

This casual intimacy, hard fought and hard won, was something to be savored, every time, and Neil still reveled in the way Andrew trusted him, and vice versa.

Andrew didn’t move, letting Neil finish, but Neil didn’t miss the way his pupils dilated slightly. After another moment, he pulled off of Andrew’s finger with a pop, and licked his lips, humming contentedly.

“Disgusting,” Andrew finally huffed, before washing his hands as he had intended all along.

“Mm-hmm.” Neil didn’t believe that at all, and just went back to looking at his phone. Dan was texting him pictures of Matt as they settled into their new place, the man excitedly gesturing around and opening boxes with the glee of a child on Christmas. He set up a FaceTiming session with them for later, before being distracted again by Andrew clearing his throat softly.

He looked up to find Andrew right in front of him, silently asking permission to come closer. Neil smiled in accession, and Andrew stepped between his legs, resting his hands easily on Neil’s thighs and leaning in for a kiss. Neil leaned forward to meet him, smiling at the idea that Andrew was most definitely on his tiptoes to reach Neil’s lips on the countertop. Andrew nipped at his bottom lip in retaliation, which only turned the kiss more heated.

They parted after a few minutes, but Andrew didn’t pull away. Instead, he tilted his head until their foreheads were pressed together. Neil closed his eyes against the sensation, a little overwhelmed but not wanting to break the contact. They breathed together, neither moving, until the timer for the cookies went off, and Andrew finally pulled away.

Neil blinked into the brightness of the kitchen, feeling a little like he was waking up from a long sleep. Andrew pulled the cookies out of the oven, before taking off the ridiculous orange oven mitts that Nicky had bought them (complete with fox paw prints on the palms), and immediately trying to pick up a cookie.

Neil watched him flatly as he had to drop the cookie, which broke apart, before trying again with the smaller pieces. He shoved a bit into his mouth, breathing with his mouth as the sugar cooled on his tongue.

He watched Andrew (and was slightly impressed by his resolve), as the man proceeded to repeat this process with two more cookies, the last finally cooling enough that he could hold it in his hand.

Neil’s lips twitched, and, as Andrew brought the cookie up to his mouth, he snatched it out of his hand and ate it himself.

Andrew’s eyes went from shocked to venomous in seconds, but Neil knew it was the type of venom reserved only for him, the kind that meant Andrew was more amused or interested than anything.

“That was,” he said slowly, cocking his head to the side, “by far the stupidest thing you’ve ever done. And that is saying a lot.”

He paused for a moment, and Neil took advantage of his silence to grab another cookie. This was seemingly the last straw, because Andrew lunged at him, grabbing at the cookie, which Neil held high above his head triumphantly.

Andrew didn’t even pause, just wrapped his arms around Neil’s waist and hoisted him up and away from the countertop. The move startled a shocked laugh out of Neil, and they both were so taken aback by the sound that they stopped short, staring at each other.

But now that it was out, he couldn’t seem to stop. Neil giggled breathlessly, and when Andrew’s brain caught up with the sight in his arms, he rolled his eyes, before carrying Neil easily into the next room and throwing him onto his back on the couch. He lay down heavily on Neil, and finally reached up and grabbed the cookie out of Neil’s extended hand, eating the snack and staring at Neil’s beaming face.

His giggles were dissipating a little now, turning into occasional hiccuping laughter, and he stared up to where his boyfriend was lying on his chest, openly staring at him as if memorizing his face.

“Staring,” he said, voice a little rough from laughter.

Andrew scoffed, but didn’t deny it, and he leaned forward to kiss Neil softly. He tasted like chocolate chip cookies.