It’s incredibly difficult to pretend to yourself that you haven’t really fucked up when you very clearly have. Neil wanted to go back in time and smack himself but isn’t that just how it always is when you fuck up this tremendously?
It had been a fairly good day that turned into an absolutely brutal training session. Kevin had been frantic, as Kevin often was, but this time he had a reason. The Foxes’ first game against the Ravens’ since Riko died was coming up in a week. It had been almost two years since the Raven’s had been allowed to play the foxes. The first year it was decided it would be too volatile an environment for a safe game. Neil had pushed himself to his limits. He, Wymack and Kevin had pushed the team to their limits; even Andrew had taken an interest in practice without Neil having to bargain anything. The problem was once they made it back to the dorms, everyone groaning in exhaustion, even Kevin, Neil couldn’t make his mind shut up.
He’d made it through dinner and all of them getting into bed. Andrew had pressed his thumb to the crease between Neil’s eyebrows softly and frowned when the tension didn’t lessen. Neil wished he could do what he usually did and relax into his boyfriend, but this was make or break for the team, the way to show last year wasn’t just a fluke. He’d made it through Andrew finally drifting off into little snuffles next to him as he stared at the ceiling for almost an hour, his brain going over every detail of the game and soon it turned inward to every detail of himself he couldn’t stand. Eventually he couldn’t handle it anymore. He had rolled out of bed and pulled on his binder, unwilling to go anywhere without it. Andrew of course woke up with a little questioning noise but Neil had just murmured that he was going to the roof and to go back to sleep. As Andrew had rolled over he’d mumbled to Neil.
“Don’t do anything stupid.”
Neil of course, did something incredibly stupid. He’d started walking up to the roof when he turned around and ducked back into their room to grab the car keys. He’d made his way to the stadium and gone in and geared up. He’d practiced for almost three hours without realizing how long it was, as hard as he possibly could. He’d only realized how long it was when he tried to throw the ball at the cone and his racquet fell out of his hands. He’d stared at them in surprise, chest heaving before reaching down to try to pick the racquet up. His fingers wouldn’t obey him and he couldn’t close them properly. He managed to pick it up with his wrists but his arms shook with the exertion of just picking it up. So he’d left it and the cones on the floor and stumbled his way out. He struggled immensely with his helmet but managed to pull it off just. Luckily Exy padding wasn’t as hard to get off as it looked but it was still a struggle. He managed to get it all off in about twenty minutes which was the longest it had ever taken him. A shower seemed like too much of a struggle right now he’d do it back at the dorm so he pulled a hoodie over his head and just stayed in his boxers. It was 4:30 in the morning he doubted he’d run into anyone.
This was where the story of his idiocy reached as he made it into the car and realized just how badly he’d fucked himself over. He started up the car and went to clench his hands around the steering wheel and it ached, his hands shook desperately. Eventually he managed to pull together enough strength to hold the steering wheel with enough force for him to feel like he could drive safely. The drive home was torture both physically and mentally. The memory of driving a car this shaky and injured brought him back to driving toward that beach on California with his mother. He reached a stop sign and closed his eyes, trying to ignore the soft mantra of his mother’s in the back of his head. He wasn’t going to run, he didn’t do that anymore. He counted to ten in French and Spanish and then did it backwards before taking a deep breath and accelerating again.
Once he made it back to the dorms the exhaustion was starting to set in but he had to shower first. He closed the door and shakily took off his hoodie, looking down he groaned softly in frustration.
He was wearing his fucking binder.
The last time he’d done this, back when he was in Wymack’s apartment, he’d had to cut his binder off with scissors, unable to remove it himself. Unfortunately that wasn’t an option because after having destroyed that one, this was his only binder. He couldn’t wake up Andrew he couldn’t deal with disappointing him right now, everything was too much, so he just slumped down on to the floor. After staring down at himself for five minutes, he realised that there was no point in just sitting here so he attempted to get his fingers under the base of his binder but it didn’t work, he didn’t have the strength in his arms to get it up even slightly, let alone over his shoulders. He felt tears of frustration forming as he tried again, and again to find some way to do it. himself
After twenty minutes of struggling and a lot of frustration he finally gave up. He stumbled his way into his and Andrew’s room. Kevin snored from by the door as he always did and Robin and Nicky snuffled from their bunks. After making sure everyone was asleep Neil made his way over to Andrew.
“Andrew” He whispered trying not to wake anyone else in the room. For once he was glad Andrew was a light sleeper because he stirred almost immediately.
“W-assgoinon?” Andrew rolled over and if Neil hadn’t felt like he was being crushed into the ground by everything else he would have smiled at how cute it was.
“I need- I can’t take my binder off – I- Help?” He stuttered out, his brain not working properly but Andrew was up immediately.
“What did you do?” He said, worried Neil already knew this but he felt himself flinch anyways.
“I didn’t mean to- I lost track of time and I was practicing and I really fucked up Andrew.” He felt tears forming in his eyes and he went to wipe them away before remembering even raising his arms was a struggle. Andrew watched him do this before frowning at him.
“You blew out your arms.” He sighed. Neil nodded guiltily, still trying to fight back tears. “You’re an idiot Josten.”
All Neil could do was nod and let himself be led back into the bathroom, where he once again tugged uselessly at the stupid piece of fabric. Andrew swatted his hands away before sitting him down on the lid of the toilet.
“Can you lift your arms?”
Neil nodded and tried to do so, it took a lot of effort and shaking but eventually he had them up enough that Andrew could ease off his binder. It was never comfortable but when Andrew did it, it always felt like Neil’s binder came off easier. Maybe it was because he wasn’t doing any work.
“I’m – thank you it’s okay you can go back to bed.” He mumbled toward his feet but a hand pulled him up so he was looking into two very soft brown eyes.
“Do you want me to go?”
And that was really that. Andrew nodded and helped him to stand up before reaching to turn on the shower and sort out the heat while Neil fumbled to take off his boxers. He helped Neil in before quickly stripping out of his pajamas and getting in behind him. The heat helped and Neil couldn’t help letting out a soft groan as his muscles started to loosen up a little. Andrew clicked his tongue and Neil could basically feel him shaking his head behind him. If he’d had the energy he would have smiled but now that he didn’t have to panic he was struggling to keep his eyes open. He fumbled for the shampoo bottle and Andrew promptly took it out of his hands before he could drop it. He made a small noise of annoyance, which quickly went away when Andrew started massaging his scalp.
Andrew, as with everything was quick and concise about cleaning Neil and soon they were out of the shower. Andrew grabbed a towel and wrapped it around Neil before quickly drying off and getting dressed. Neil woke with a start when Andrew started drying off his hair.
“I can do th-“
“Shut up Josten you can barely move your arms.”
He really wasn’t wrong. So Neil shut up and allowed himself to be bundled into his pajamas and walked toward his bed. Andrew pushed him in before clambering over him to the wall and wrapping his arms around him. Neil could feel sleep pulling him under but forced himself back to wakefulness briefly.
“You’re an idiot.”
“Go to sleep.”
So Neil slept. He slept through Kevin telling them to get up and Andrew telling Kevin to fuck off. When he woke up there was soft midmorning light, it was quiet everyone had headed to classes except for the soft exhales behind him. He rolled over after a bit of a struggle, his arms hurt like a bitch until he was nose to nose with Andrew who had woken up in the kerfuffle. Neil smiled softly at him.
“Don’t ever do something like that again Neil.” Andrew’s eyes were serious, there was worry in his voice.
“I'm sorry I didn’t know I’d pushed it that far.” Neil looked down guiltily but Andrew put his palm on his cheek.
“You’re so stupid Josten.” He said as he kissed Neil on the forehead.
“Mhm I know.” Neil closed his eyes and then went to stretch groaning in pain before looking at the clock. “Oh fuck Andrew we missed morning practice.” Andrew groaned and pushed him out of bed before glaring down as Neil laughed from the floor.
Maybe he should take a couple days off.