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Holding Fast

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It started with a craving for ice cream.

All activities that day had been cancelled due to a campus wide safety seminar, a prospect that at one time would have made Neil's blood boil as hot as it did Kevin's, but now allowed him time to experience his newly attained freedom and enjoy the short time the senior Foxes have left at PSU. A Thursday filled with nothing more than a marathon of The Matrix movies, Matt and Dan cuddled on the couch to his left, Aaron and Nicky on opposite sides of the couch to his right. Kevin, locked in his room, blowing off steam by going over Exy plays. Mundanity at its finest.

Andrew is sprawled on Neil's own couch, looking only half interested at Morpheus's ramblings on screen. His feet are close enough to Neil's thighs to touch.

"I'd take the blue pill," Nicky says around a mouthful of microwave popcorn.

"Of course you would." Aaron growls as he gets a kernel of popcorn thrown in his hair in retaliation. Neil takes a moment to do nothing more than breathe as Andrew eases his black socked feet a fraction closer. In the movie, Neo takes the red pill.

Neil would, too, given the chance.

He doesn't have to use his words to know Andrew would do the same. A harsh, cruel reality is what has brought them to this exact moment in time.

A gruesome past in exchange for a fragile, hopeful future.

In the present, Andrew's feet are mere inches away from his leg. When Neil looks up at Andrew, Andrew is looking at him.

After a few seconds Andrew says, "I have a sweet tooth."

"When do you not?" Neil gets a scowl in return.

"Let's go get ice cream." Andrew's tone leaves no room for discussion.

It must take Neil a moment too long to respond, if the way Andrew raises a pale eyebrow is anything to go by. The rest of the foxes have diverted their attention from the movie to where Andrew and Neil are having a glorified staring contest.

"Damn, Josten. I don't think you'll be getting any sugar any time soon if you don't take him to go get that ice cream," Matt says to break the tense silence. Neil hears the sound of skin hitting skin, Matt's exclamation of mild pain, and Dan's soft sound of warning that sounds suspiciously like a huff of laughter, but his eyes are still locked with Andrew's. The reflection of the flat screen television draws out the green in his irises.

Andrew is the one to break the eye contact first to glare at Matt in a way that made his earlier scowl at Neil look loving in comparison. Sitting up in a single graceful movement, Andrew then gets up and makes his way to his room, most likely to get his keys.

Once he is out of earshot, Nicky makes the sound of a whip cracking.

As Neo boards the Nebuchadnezzar on screen, a loud, “Fuck you, Day!” sounds from afar, accompanied by the slamming of a door. Neil stands and makes his way towards the exit at the far end of the common room. He’d seen The Matrix a couple dozen times already, anyway. There are only so many hotel room movies to watch on low volume when you're a kid on the run.

He can hear light footsteps several yards behind him as he makes his way to where the Maserati is parked. Another thing about being a kid on the run.

Always be listening. You can always stay one step ahead if you're listening hard enough.

Neil silently reminds himself that he no longer needs to be one step ahead of anything other than his Exy opponents. That he can let the knot at the pit of his stomach loose. He turns around when he reaches the black car.

“You want me to drive?” Neil asks.

Andrew’s answer is simple. “No.”

Once inside, Andrew cranks the AC to chase out the South Carolina summer heat. The humidity outside seemed unaffected by the setting sun. The engine growls to life and Andrew starts the drive towards the 7-11 a few miles from the PSU campus. When they pull up to the convenience store, the last of the sun is bleeding out from the sky. Neil turns to his left and Andrew makes a show of getting comfortable in the driver’s seat.

“What kind?” Neil asks.

“Anything with Oreos in it.”

Neil makes his way in to the fluorescent lit store.

Okay, maybe it's easier to say it started with a set of Exy fans.

They're incredibly hard to miss, the bright orange of their hoodies announcing their love of the Palmetto State University Foxes to the world. One of the two is a curvy girl with long hair that almost obscures the white printed ‘Josten’ and the number ten below it on the back of her hoodie. Her friend, a tall willow of a girl, is facing Neil and has a pink flush on her pale cheeks as she grips the clothed bicep of ‘Josten’, flicking her eyes to where Neil is now looking for the cookies n’ cream ice cream, her mouth moving a mile a minute.

Neil is impressed with their dedication, considering it’s about one hundred and ten fucking degrees outside. He decides that alone deserves some sort of recognition. With a tub of Bryers in tow, he makes his way to where the two girls are practically buzzing.

“Nice sweatshirt,” he says. ‘Josten’ hoodie faces the real Josten now, a bright smile revealing a set of straight white teeth budding on her face.

“Thanks.” Her voice only quakes a little bit. Neil’s curious to see who’s on the back of the willowy girl’s hoodie and he says as much. With a flourish, she turns around to reveal a bold number 4 with Boyd emblazoned above. He can't help but let out a soft laugh. He wonders for a moment where one would go about finding things like this.

"You guys have the cutest bromance in Class I Exy. The EN store had a sale and we just had to get the matching ones,” ‘Boyd’ hoodie says. Her friend’s toothy grin is contagious. Neil feels his smile grow a bit brighter. "I mean, you both could quit Exy and sign with American Apparel, honestly. I wouldn't complai—,” Her eyes widen comically.

Neil’s muscles lock as a hand wraps around the forearm not holding the tub of ice cream.

"I sent you in here to get me some ice cream, not spend ten minutes befriending a duo of young fanatics.” It's obvious by the set of Andrew’s jaw that he’s been privy to most of the conversation. Neil’s skin burns at the five points of contact that are Andrew Minyard’s fingers.

The girls look absolutely flabbergasted.

“No fucking way," ‘Josten’ hoodie says.

“Yes fucking way,” Andrew says back, deadpan. “Now if you two ruffians don't mind, we've got a movie to get back to.” Neil knows damn well Andrew couldn't give a fuck less about The Matrix.

Andrew’s hand is still gripping his forearm when he leads Neil away.

Neil hears ‘Boyd’ hoodie’s hushed voice as they walk towards the counter say, “Fuck. Am I going to have to buy a ‘Minyard’ sweatshirt, now?”

Andrew tilts his head back and, unbelievably, laughs. It is the world.

They pay for the ice cream and leave.

Possibly it's even more simply put that it starts with one of Neil’s obscene ideas.

Back inside the Maserati, high off life and the music that is Andrew’s laugh, Neil says, “I want to blow you.” The only visible reaction is the way Andrew's pale fingers become even more so as they grip the steering wheel tighter. The open book expressions of most people are found in Andrew between the lines of his eyebrows and the grip of his fists. “Yes or no?”

The wooded back roads of South Carolina speed past in the driver’s window beyond Andrew’s profile. Neil can feel his heart beating wildly in his chest.

A deep breath. "Yes."

Neil doesn't waste any time reaching over to unbutton and pull down the zipper of Andrew’s black jeans, just enough to pull out the length of his cock from the opening of his underwear. Licking his palm, Neil takes a moment just to stroke him slowly, to feel blood start to rush up against his hand.

With the way his body is turned, he can see Andrew’s face, pale skin stretched taut over violent lines. His complexion is liquid silver in the dim light of the full moon; the strands of his hair are a colorless sweep. He is a study in black and white. The hardening flesh in Neil’s hand is almost an afterthought.

“Are you going to continue staring at me or use your mouth?” The singular point of color, Andrew’s roseate lips, turn up at one corner as he speaks. Neil’s heart refuses to slow to its normal rate. This is a winning score in the final seconds of an Exy game. This is the sound of a switchblade opening in his defense. This is the prospect of having a place— no— a person, to call home. This is everything.

Neil leans across the console and applies his mouth.

Andrew’s quiet gasp is nearly lost in the sound of the Maserati’s motor responding to more pressure on the gas pedal. They’ve done this enough for Neil to know just how Andrew likes it. Slow at first, deep slides in to his relaxed throat. The lewd sounds harmonize with his own pulse in Neil’s ears. Andrew takes a hand from the steering wheel to rest it in the short hair at the back of Neil’s head, not pushing nor pulling. Neil shivers and Andrew groans.

Being buried in his lap makes it impossible to see Andrew’s eyes but it doesn’t stop Neil from imagining the way he knows they would look. Golden irises waning, eclipsed by pupil. Glazed.

The addition of another hand cradling the right side of his jaw alarms him. He starts to pull away then realizes distantly that the car is no longer moving. Andrew must have pulled off on a shoulder. The fingers against his face are hungry, feeling out the hollows of Neil’s cheeks, the way the cock in his mouth presses against them. Andrew shivers, this time. His thumb reaches its way to the corner of Neil’s mouth, feeling out where his lips touch the hot flesh of Andrew’s cock.

“Oh, Neil.” Andrew has never really been vocal. Neil really wishes he could see his eyes now, if only to look for clues as to what Andrew is thinking in this moment. He knows he would probably never find them anyway.

Neil stops moving his head and moves his left hand from where it’s fallen asleep between his torso and the console and uses it to grip Andrew’s hip, urging him to fuck his mouth. The grip in his hair tightens as Andrew uses the limited space in the car to its full potential.

A growl finds its way to Neil’s ears and he knows nothing, hears nothing, and feels nothing but Andrew. His armbands brush against the nape of Neil's neck as a large hand practically cradles the back of his head. The quick, shallow thrusts are a surefire sign that Andrew’s close to coming. When Andrew himself puts a voice to the idea, Neil uses his free hand to push up the black material of Andrew’s shirt, uses his pointer finger to trace the word ‘yes’ in to the dip there.

Andrew comes, hips jerking, breath stuttering.

When Neil pulls away, he leaves his lips parted a sliver, the bitter liquid pooled on the pink of his tongue. Andrew swears as he swallows. It’s all entirely worth the ache in his back. He settles back in to his seat as Andrew regains control.

“Good one. Pulling the hundred thousand dollar car over in the backwoods of South Carolina,” Neil says. He represses the smile threatening the edges of his lips.

“Says the one who thinks giving me road head while I'm driving a hundred thousand dollar car is a good idea. Shut the fuck up, Josten.” It breaks out anyway.