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Andrew’s eyes slip inadvertently shut and he jerks awake. The digital clock on the nightstand reads 01:03AM, and he sighs in slight annoyance. Already arriving home close to midnight, Neil’s flight ended up getting delayed over an hour, and the lack of text on Andrew’s phone tells him he must still be in the air. He would prefer to stay awake and wait, but apparently the long day of practice (without Neil) and sitting bored at home (also without Neil) have taken more out of him than he thought. 

Dog-earing his page, he sets his book down next to the clock and flips the light off. He spends a while staring into the darkness, listening to the quiet hum of the fan and the soft tap, tap, tap of rain on the roof. He considers checking his phone one last time, decides he’s acting pathetic, and finally allows himself to drift to sleep.

He wakes with a start, entire body coiled tight for a fight, his eyes flying open to find Sir’s glowing green eyes staring back at him. He exhales with a violent huff of air. 

“I’m going to skin you and wear you for slippers,” Andrew informs his cat. Apparently unimpressed with the threat, Sir blinks owlishly at him before turning in a circle and flopping down on his side, pressing his warm, furry body against Andrew’s chest. He starts to knead and purr loudly.

“You know, in some countries people eat cats,” Andrew says, as he rests one hand on Sir’s head and idly strokes him. “Or use them for medicine. Or target practice.”

Sir purrs louder in response and Andrew closes his eyes again. “Next time you do this, I’m donating you to science.”

He falls asleep again with his fingers tangled in soft, gently vibrating fur.

He wakes up again at 3:37AM to an unread text from Neil flashing across his phone. 

Just landed , it says. Be home soon.

Not so long ago, both of them might’ve scoffed at such a word. Home was a concept, an abstract idea rather than a fact. It was something neither of them had ever truly had, and therefore never expected to find. Only they had - against insurmountable odds, against their own survival instincts and self-destructive habits, they had found each other and rewritten what the word ‘home’ really meant. 

Knowing he might as well stay up until Neil’s arrival, Andrew slips out of bed (leaving a rather offended looking Sir underneath the thrown-back covers) and heads to the kitchen. The pot of decaf coffee is just sputtering to a finish when Andrew hears the familiar sound of a key turning in the lock. He didn’t bother turning a light on in the kitchen, so he waits for Neil to see him instead of calling out.

Neil, of course, spots him almost immediately and gives him a look that’s halfway between exasperated and amused. 

“What are you doing up?” he asks, dropping his duffel by the door and toeing off his shoes. “Did you stay up? Wait, is that coffee?”

“Yes,” Andrew replies.

He doesn’t particularly care what Matt and Dan named their newborn daughter, and he definitely doesn’t care about the drama Dan’s going through with her Exy team, but he listens patiently and sips from his cup while Neil rambles on about his trip.

“Aaron and Katelyn are visiting them in a couple months,” Neil comments casually. “If you’re interested.”

Andrew takes another sip and hums in acknowledgement. It’s not acceptance, but it’s also not outright denial, so Neil seems satisfied and drops it.

“Do anything interesting while I was gone?” he asks.

“Stuffed your cat down the garbage disposal.”

Neil raises an eyebrow. “I’m not sure that’s covered in the warranty.”

Andrew shrugs. “Neither are smart-ass boyfriends who take stupid flights in the middle of the night. Yet, here we are.”

Neil doesn’t attempt to hide his dopey smile and Andrew scowls.

“Stop it.”

“Stop what?”

“Your face.”

“I should stop my face?”

“It looks ridiculous.”

Neil doesn’t stop smiling, but now there’s slight heat behind it. “Really? Wonder what we could do to fix it?”

“There’s an obvious solution,” Andrew says.

Neil leans forward. “I’m a slow learner. Maybe you should show me.”

They make it as far as the living room before Andrew has his hand stuffed down Neil’s pants and wrapped around his cock. He strokes roughly and Neil pants into his mouth, clutching hard at Andrew’s shoulders.

Tangled in each other’s embrace, they shuffle back a few more steps until Andrew feels the back of his legs hit the couch. After the slightest hesitation (because being pushed down will never not be a big deal for Andrew), he sinks down on the cushions and pulls Neil with him. Neil continues kissing him while he straddles Andrew’s waist and plants his legs on either side of Andrew’s thighs. Neil shifts his weight forward, rubbing their erections together, and Andrew’s pulse quickens with the vaguest hint of discomfort. Neil’s isn’t light, after all. His body is solid, compact muscle pinning Andrew beneath him. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s not unpleasant. And the uncomfortable part? Well, that’s more bodily memory than current experience, so he simply chooses to ignore it. Andrew has always been a bundle of contradictions, after all, and despite years of growth and healing, some things will never change. 

(And then there’s that pesky fact that he trusts Neil.) 

Andrew slides his hands beneath Neil’s shirt, feeling the raised edges of scarred skin that’s almost as familiar as his own. Neil responds with his own touches, sucking a line down Andrew’s sensitive neck, smoothing his palms up Andrew’s stomach and chest when he tugs off his shirt and tosses it behind the couch. Neil chucks away his own shirt after a minute and then they’re skin to skin, trembling limbs and pounding hearts locked against each other in a way neither of them ever expected to allow.

After a lot more kissing, a pile of discarded clothes, and quite a bit of prep, Neil slowly lowers himself onto Andrew’s aching cock. They lock eyes as he descends. Andrew has his hands on Neil’s hips, but he lets him control the slide, and watches carefully for even the barest sign of discomfort. This part is always intense for both of them, no matter the position. Even though Andrew usually just grits his teeth while he adjusts and tells Neil to get on with it ( not that he listens), Andrew would never expect the same of Neil. He stays completely still until Neil releases a shaky breath and nods. Only then do either of them start to move.

For a while, the only sounds in the house are heavy breathing and strained moans and the wet slap of skin on skin. Andrew jacks Neil while he rides him, and soon Neil’s rhythm stutters and he comes hard over Andrew’s hand. Neil’s body, already so hot and smooth, tightens around him, sending Andrew over the edge as well. He digs his free hand into Neil’s hip while his body convulses and his vision fuzzes out. 

“Fuck,” Neil mutters, leaning forward and resting his sweaty forehead against Andrew’s neck. Both of them continue to breathe hard. “I missed you.”

Andrew scoffs lightly, even as he tightens his arms around Neil’s back. 

“You’re so fucking sappy after you come,” he says.

Neil laughs and then kisses him until they’re ready to go again.

The sun is peeking over the horizon by the time they tumble into bed together, sated and freshly showered. Still bundled in the blankets, Sir gives a lazy stretch to acknowledge their presence and then promptly heads off in search of food.

They don’t normally lay touching each other in sleep, except maybe a hand, but for some reason that Andrew doesn’t care to dissect, he decides to tug Neil back against him and wrap a possessive hand around his belly. Neil yawns contentedly, tangling their fingers together. He’s asleep before Andrew has even closed his eyes.

Sir jumps back on the bed several minutes later and curls himself against Andrew’s back. For once, Andrew doesn’t waste his time on idle threats because he has this strange, contented feeling in his chest that he doesn’t want to disturb. For the first time in his life he feels safe. For the first time he thinks that life might just be interesting enough to keep living. And for the first time in his life, he knows what it is to be seen, to feel. To touch.

All he needed was proof.