New Winslow S2E6
December twenty-ninth and Andrew was still trapped. He’d tried again multiple times that day, the first time tossing his bag in the car just in case. It couldn’t hurt, he’d reasoned. Plus, four days was plenty of time. It made sense that the curse would end today, and he wouldn’t want to be without his things.
And then he’d slammed into the town line with enough force to knock the breath out of him. So he’d driven around town for a little while. Then tried again.
He’d returned to Olivia’s house for a while after that, trying on some level to wait it out. This time, when he went back to the town line, he left his bag behind. Maybe it was magical thinking to believe that it would be more likely to break if he seemed like he wasn’t expecting it. But it was magic keeping Andrew here, so maybe that magic would get him out.
By the time he got back to Olivia’s house, exhausted after the second round of escape attempts, the sun was down and a sharp wind was blowing. Just like the night before, he walked back into the house. The stairwell was still dark, but a warm light spilled out from under Olivia’s door.
“Hey,” he said as he stepped into the kitchen.
Again, Mia was eating her supper while Olivia cooked theirs. Mia smashed peas and noodles on her plate and Andrew ran a hand over her sticky hair as he passed.
“Hey, dinner’s almost done,” Olivia said from the table, where she was sitting and chopping up vegetables for a salad. “Baked ziti.”
“Fantastic,” Andrew said, suddenly remembering he hadn’t actually eaten anything since breakfast. “Thank you so much. You know I’m not expecting you to feed me, right?”
“Obviously,” Olivia said with a smile. “But I am tonight, so deal with it. Cleo’s doing some work in my room and Noah’s going to be down in a minute.”
Andrew raised an eyebrow. “Noah’s coming?”
Olivia’s smile faltered a little. “Yeah, I finally bullied him into it. I don’t know if he’s eaten anything that isn’t from Keegan’s in the past week.”
Andrew nodded. “Good, good.”
Olivia looked at him. “Are you two okay?”
Andrew shrugged. “I wouldn’t know. I haven’t actually seen him since I got stuck.”
Olivia’s answer was cut short by the sound of the front door opening. A second later, Noah walked into the kitchen.
“Hey Liv – oh, Andrew. Hey.”
“Hey, Noah,” Andrew said, his throat suddenly dry.
Noah looked tired. He hadn’t shaved in a few days, leaving him with more stubble than Andrew ever remembered seeing on him. There were shadows under his eyes and Andrew suddenly felt a little awkward.
You broke my fucking heart, Noah had said to him on the town common just a few days earlier. The last thing he’d said directly to Andrew. Even that first shock-filled night when Andrew was trapped in town, Noah hadn’t actually talked to him. He’d talked around him the few times he’d actually spoken. Mostly he’d just sat and watched as Olivia and Cleo made what little plans were possible to make. Then he’d disappeared up into his apartment, and Andrew hadn’t seen him since.
“Dinner’s almost ready,” Olivia said, standing up. “You want to take over veggie duty?”
Noah took her vacated chair and began chopping a cucumber as Olivia went to the oven and pulled out a foil-wrapped dish. She set it down on the stovetop just as there was a hiss of pain from Noah.
“Shit,” he murmured.
Andrew turned around and saw blood spattered on the cutting board. Noah was standing there, looking slightly dazed as he grabbed a towel off the table and wrapped it around the finger he’d just cut.
“Jesus, are you okay?” Olivia asked, hurrying over.
“I’m fine,” Noah said.
“Let me see it.”
“You’re bleeding on my kitchen table. Let me see it.”
Noah sighed and held out his hand, which she carefully unwrapped. She looked at it under the hanging light. “I think it’s fine,” she said finally. “It doesn’t look that deep. Just go clean it up and I’ll help you put some gauze on.”
“I can do that myself.”
“Oh, you can wrap the gauze tightly enough one-handed?” Olivia asked, raising an eyebrow.
Noah made a face, but didn’t respond. “Here,” Olivia said, “Let me go grab-”
The smoke alarm went off, causing all three of them to jump. “Shit, something must’ve spilled in the oven,” Olivia muttered as Mia started wailing. She scooped up Mia as Noah reached up and around her to turn off the alarm.
“Andrew, can you go grab the first aid kit?” Olivia asked as Mia buried her face in her shoulder. “It’s in the bathroom. Actually, Noah, go wash up in the bathroom too. I can’t promise that knife was clean.”
Noah walked toward the bathroom, and Andrew followed. For a second, Andrew thought Noah was going to close the door in his face. But instead, he just turned on the faucet and let it run for a second before putting his injured finger into the stream.
“First-aid kit’s in the cabinet,” Noah said quietly, nodding his head toward a cabinet in the corner of the bathroom, right next to the tub.
“Thanks,” Andrew said.
He stepped over and got it out. The kit was bulky and seemed to have anything you could possibly need for an at-home emergency. But then, Andrew realized suddenly, that made perfect sense if you live in a town where the nearest emergency room is potentially across an impenetrable border.
He wondered if anyone had ever died because of the curse.
Andrew shoved the thought away. No need to get dramatic now. So instead he found the alcohol pads, gauze, and tape and brought them over to Noah, who was drying his finger on a dark blue towel.
“Here, let me help,” Andrew said, ripping open an alcohol pad.
Noah held out his hand reluctantly, and Andrew took it in his own. He moved the injured index finger and dabbed at it with the pad. Noah hissed and Andrew winced.
Noah wouldn’t meet his eye. Andrew tossed the pad into the tiny trash can, then took the gauze and put it on the wound.
“Hold that there,” he commanded.
Noah’s hand slid under his to hold the gauze still. Andrew ripped a piece of medical tape and wrapped it securely in place.
“Is that good?” he asked, still looking at the tape.
“Yeah,” Noah said. “Thanks.”
His breath smelled like spearmint. On some level, Andrew knew it was probably to cover up the smell of liquor. But he could hope that wasn’t the case.
Andrew could feel his face getting hotter. This had been so normal once. He knew exactly why it wasn’t anymore and whose fault it was, but the strangeness didn’t feel right.
He forced himself to look up at Noah, catching Noah off guard. They made eye contact for a long moment, neither quite sure what to do. Then Noah cleared his throat.
“Um, thanks, yeah. We should…”
He jerked his head toward the kitchen.
“Oh, yes, right,” Andrew said.
Noah smiled slightly and walked back into the kitchen.