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after the foxes have known our taste (i’d be home with you)

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Andrew exhaled shakily. His fingers fumbled the lighter once, twice, before he finally managed to light his cigarette. Taking a long drag, he revelled in the low burn and held the smoke in just a little too long as he leaned forward, elbows on knees, to glare at the ground far below.

The exhale of smoke almost hid the pest sitting beside him from his peripheral vision, but the effect was ruined when the ghost leaned in, eyes closed.

“I’m not kissing you.”

Neil huffed, that stupid smirk hidden for a glorious second. “It’s the smell.”

Andrew blew smoke in his face, watching the pale auburn curls blend with the soft spirals, his chest aching from the burn in his lungs, and nothing else.

Neil hummed. "Truth for a truth?"

Andrew waved the hand holding the cigarette negligently, watching the thin stream of smoke drift through Neil's shoulder. Not watching as he bit his lip.

"Are you really afraid of heights?"

Andrew shot him a displeased scowl. "Waste of a question."

Neil’s brow furrowed once, then smoothed. "Why come up here then?"

Tutting, Andrew shook his head. "My turn. Did you fall?"

He thought, just for a second, that Neil's scarred knuckles became a little paler where his hands gripped the roof, but the moment passed and the ghost was back to his easy paper-thin smile. "Sure."

Andrew stubbed his cigarette out on the pavement in one of the gaps between Neil's fingers, and Neil let him. "Accident?"

Neil's smile slipped, and Andrew imagined his feet doing the same, letting the vertigo twist his head for the rush of feeling.

"I thought we were taking turns."

Neil was watching him again. “You know, those things will kill you.”

“And then where would you go for your secondhand fix?” Andrew mocked.

Neil's bottom lip stuck out petulantly, reminiscent of Nicky's exaggerated gestures. Andrew snorted. "Has that ever worked for you?”

An enigmatic smile dimpled the faded scar on Neil’s cheek, and Andrew wished not for the first time that he had never seen the ghost. “You tell me.”

The feeling grew unbearable, and Andrew put his hand over Neil’s face, a bare inch over where skin would have been, blocking him from sight. Neil let him.

“I am not your answer.”

Neil huffed, and for a second he could believe that he felt a breath of air across his outstretched fingers.

He wanted nothing.

They sat there, looking out over the twinkling city lights below, and Andrew felt nothing.

He said nothing.

Their fingers were a hair apart, and Andrew yearned.

“Yes or no?”

Neil’s eyes pierced him through. “It’s always yes with you.”

Rage, hot and infinitely safer, filled him. “Don’t fucking ‘always’ me.”

Neil kept his hand in place, waiting. “It’s all I have.”

No,” Andrew spat, and Neil withdrew immediately; the ghost left a careful distance between them, and Andrew hated him for it.

His cigarette left a faint trail as it arced through the air and fell to the ground far below. They watched it go in silence.

“My father,” Neil said, “was not a good man.”

He said it with all the nonchalance of indifference. Andrew read the truth between his shoulders, down his spine, in his hands, and wished he had never learned the other well enough to know.

“You fell.” It’s not a non sequitur.

Neil nodded. Andrew was suddenly, violently nauseous, but Neil didn’t stop. “I made it as far as the rooftop before he caught up with me.”

The air between them was quiet, charged. Andrew took a shallow breath, and another, and told Neil about Drake.

He thought it was the closest they could come to understanding one another, Neil’s fingers trailing cold over the lines on his arm, until he made the mistake of looking into Neil’s eyes, and oh, oh.

He was fucked.

“You should be out there,” Neil commented idly.

Andrew looked down at the city. “People bore me.”

“Andrew.” Neil was earnest again. Andrew hated it when Neil was earnest. “You shouldn’t waste your days talking to a— a ghost. You need to live.”

“You’re so fucking stupid.”

Neil blinked. “I— what?”

Andrew blew a breath out sharply. “Neil. Yes or no?”

“Yes.” The response was instant, if confused, and Andrew’s heart missed a beat as he cupped Neil’s face more gently than he knew he was capable of, a would-be touch.

Comprehension lit Neil’s eyes just before they slid closed, and Andrew kissed him, a single press of lips to cold air. It felt like nothing.

(“You know,” Neil said cheerily, “you told me you wouldn’t kiss me.”

“If you weren’t already dead, I’d kill you myself.”

Neil’s laugh was the brightest part of him, and Andrew burned with it.)