Fandom: All for the game
Riassunto: Neil gets hurt during a match and he knows what that could mean. He asks Andrew to do something he maybe shouldn't have.
Note: Scritta per la M3 di Lande di fandom per "infortunio"
Neil knows perfectly well that Exy is a violent sport. Sometimes he fears that's the reason why he was always so attracted to it, like a sick remembrance of his father and his legacy (he tries really hard not to think about that because everytime he does Andrew glares at him. One of his mean ones).
Between knowing and actually having proof of it, however, there is a difference. It's not that Neil hasn't received his fair share of injuries in the court over the years. He has been bruised and bloodied inside the pitch almost as much as outside of it, but it has never been something that couldn't be shaken away with a cold pack and Andrew fussing over him for a while (not that Drew would ever admit it).
Neil knows he won't be that lucky when he feels the body of the other team's backliner crash into him. The world spins under his feet, but most of all he can audibly hear a bone break. He can only think not the leg, not the leg before he's flat down on the ground, heaving painfully.
The other player immediately stands up, apologizing profusely, but his words don't really seem to make a dent in Neil's panic.
A panic attack, he realizes, strong enough to make the rest of the court disappear. He feels like he's in Ichirou's car again, waiting for his judgement. He feels like he's in Lola's car again. He can't breathe.
"Breathe," he hears, a voice that pierces through the haze of panic. The only voice that's ever enough to bring him back in these situations.
He doesn't know when Andrew arrived, but he looks at him, unable to look at anyone else. He can't look down on himself, doesn't want to see the proof of what he already knows. He's hurt, but that's not the problem.
Pain is nothing new to Neil.
"Broken," he tries to say, push through his restricted lungs.
Andrew looks at him and pointedly doesn't look at his legs. God, God.
"Breathe," the other repeats, "just shut up and breathe."
He knows that his teammates would accuse Andrew of not caring, or remaining too calm in a situation like this, but Neil can see the storm in his eyes. He wonders if the other player is still alive, he hopes so.
"Stay," Neil asks, unable to think of facing this alone. He doesn't enjoy hospitals and he knows that's where he's headed.
"Idiot," Andrew says, with something dangerous laced in his voice. Not dangerous to Neil, that much he knows, and the threat of violence to anyone who tries to stop Andrew from following finally makes him relax enough that he passes out right there and there.
When he wakes up, he doesn't open his eyes immediately.
He's not in their house, King and Sir aren't sleeping soundly beside them, and the sheets are all wrong. There's a strange smell, one he knows very well (disinfectant, death, sadness). Hospital, then.
The fact that he doesn't immediately remember why is troubling. The fact that he's not launching himself out of the bed thinking about his father is, probably, what Bee would call progress.
"Done panicking?" Andrew's voice comes from somewhere on his right. It might seem mocking, but Neil knows Andre waited long enough to speak to be sure that Neil was okay.
Andrew's voice is enough of a blanket to make him relax completely.
"What happened?" he asks. Memories are coming back slowly, too slowly for him. He remembers clearly that he had been panicked when he had fallen asleep. He doesn't remember why, but he wonders if he should be still wary. Running seems to be out of the question for now, but he's sure he could manage if he had to.
Andrew, not seeming to be in any rush, however, makes him realize that there might not be the rush he fears.
"You were too stupid to duck."
Worried, Neil thinks, Andrew was worried.
"Did I break anything?" Neil pushes, because that's the most pressing question. If he has something broken they need to think about consequences. About how to avoid being dead by morning.
Andrew should probably get as far away from Neil as possible.
"No," the other replies immediately, allowing Neil to settle down.
He's not going to die. Not today, at least.
It has been a long time since Neil has had to think about surviving one day at a time, but it seems that old patterns really don't break.
Finally, he opens his eyes and turns towards Andrew.
His boyfriend is seated in a chair, back to the wall and face to the door. He hasn't tries to move forward, and one of his hands is in his armbands. It's not a common sight these days.
Nicky says it's thanks to Neil, but he doesn't like to think so. He prefers to think it as Andrew settling, Andrew getting better all by himself.
Today, however, isn't a good day.
How long has Andrew been sitting there, expecting the Moriyama to enter through the door? Is that even something they would do? Probably not. Too flashy, you don't build an empire like theirs by doing stupid stunts.
How worried had Andrew been not to realize something like this himself?
"Are you going to stay there all night?" he wonders out loud. He wouldn't mind if he did, really. He wouldn't begrudge Andrew something he needs, and he knows how much Andrew's need of control sometimes still affects him and his actions.
Neil is comfortable here. With Andrew's protective presence shielding him from anything.
His boyfriend seems to ponder the question, almost as if he's weighting the pros and cons of actually moving closer to the bed. Neil gives him the time to analyze everything, and is actually surprised when Andrew starts to drag his chair closer to Neil's bed.
On bad days it's really just fifty fifty how much Neil manages to get through to him.
Still, Andrew settles down beside him. He doesn't look relaxed, and a part of Neil wants to touch him. Reassure him in any way he can.
But he's not sure if he's up to touching, and he knows Andrew wouldn’t appreciate Neil forcing himself.
The knowledge that nothing is broken, that he should still be able to play Exy is enough to make him relax, but not enough to erase the harsh panic from his bones.
What would have they done?
He remembers, now, that he asked Andrew to stay and how could he have been so stupid? So selfish and so quick to put Andrew in the same danger he was in.
There's little possibility that the Moriyama wouldn't want to deal with Andrew as well in case Neil outrun his usefulness, but there's no need to pain a bigger target on Andrew's back.
"Staring," Andrew tells him, even if he hasn't looked away from the door.
Neil shrugs, because lying is a habit that, while it sticks to him, it's easier to shake away when it's just the two of them. He is staring, but he's not ashamed of it.
Only of what he did.
Andrew looks down at that point and there's a question in them that it's not too pressing. Andrew wants to know what he's thinking, but he won't push further than that.
But still. Lying. Neil doesn't want to do it.
"I shouldn't have asked you to stay." It's a hard admission, one Andrew won't appreciate, he knows, but it has to be said. It's a truth, an uncomfortable one.
Andrew's shoulders grow even tenser and Neil wants to touch them. Wants to run. Wants to
turn back time and make sure he was never in the position to hurt Andrew this way.
He's lying about the last one. Because Neil is selfish in his own ways.
"Don't be a fucking idiot," Andrew spats back, harsh and hurt under the hospital lights. Fierce in his protectiveness.
Neil wonders if Andrew is thinking about Baltimore, about the deal Neil forced him to void knowing what was going to happen.
Neil is. And he hasn't regretted it even once in this ten years.
He doesn't say anything else, however. Doesn't explain what he meant, or why he's sorry he asked Andrew to stay. They both know why, and voicing it will only make Andrew more unhinged.
There's a part of Neil that always worry that someday Andrew will just try and kill every member of the Moriyama on his own and get killed in the process.
Andrew is formidable, but not that much.
Still. There's another truth that Neil has to share. Something softer, but true all the same. A truth that might hurt Andrew even more. "Thank you for staying anyway."
Andrew's eyes are ablaze. Not many would be able to tell, but they are a language that Neil has studied extensively.
Protectiveness comes natural to Andrew. It's the native tongue he was born with, but that doesn't mean he's used to gentleness, or to have other people understand it.
There's always something angry, even ten years later, when he realizes that Neil has read him. When Neil acknowledges Andrew's personal brand of kindness.
It almost makes Neil laugh.
Andrew's hand extends and then hovers over Neil's mouth. Andrew doesn't let their skin touch. Gentle. Attentive.
Neil smiles, unable to do anything else, and Andrew relaxes marginally in response.
He wants to ask, if nothing is broken, why he still hurts this much. But he won't talk, not when Andrew told him not to.
As always, he doesn't really need to talk anyway.
"You have some bruises on your ribs they want to check out. You can't put pressure on your leg for at least two weeks if you want to play again," mostly, Neil is sure, because Andrew will kill him if he doesn't do so, "and you scrambled your brain even more than you already did before."
"Nothing too bad, then," he summarizes in the end. He puts his hand on his chest, close enough that if Andrew decided, he could just move his a fraction and let their hands touch.
Andrew doesn't move.
"I mean, we knew that your brains where a lost cause since the beginning," he only replies. And Neil simply nods, content to be here.
Now that he's sure that he will be back to playing soon, he doesn't think he will be able to stay awake much longer. He's not sure how much time he had been sleeping for before, but the light from outside of the window tells him it's late.
"Where's my phone?" he can't help but ask. He's not even sure if he took it with him this morning. He's better at it now, especially because of Andrew brutal ways of ensuring Neil never left home without it, but it still slips his mind too many times.
"I shut it down. Too many people writing." Andrew doesn't seem particularly sorry about that.
"How many of them are here?" Neil can't help but ask and Andrew glower is answer enough.
All of them.
Family. Neil thinks, with a smile.
"They'll be here when you wake up again," Andrew tells him, huffing at Neil's expression. Stil, he knows his boyfriend is happy about their presence as well.
Even if it's only to have more allies against the possible assassins come to kill Neil in cold blood.
"And you?" It's an unfair question, maybe, after Neil's words before. There is no threat now, and Andrew staying shouldn't matter that much, but they both know it doesn't work that way.
Andrew will stay now, and he will stay the day Neil goes down and he's not able to get back up again so quickly.
It's a terrible knowledge. That he's the reason that one day Andrew will die.
But, Neil realizes, if their positions were reversed, would Neil really do any different?
"Still with the idiot question. They scrambled your brain beyond saving," Andrew huffs, but finally lowers his hand and touches Neil's. It's not really a hold, it's a fragile touch, but it's exactly what Neil wanted.
"I thought that happened long ago," Neil can't help but reply.
Andrew's responding glare is not as angry as it should be. "Fucking sleep. I want to get out of here sometime this century." And he won't do it if Neil doesn't get to come with him.
Neil smiles and simply closes his eyes.Andrew stays.