New Winslow S5E21
Andrew looked out the living room window and cursed Iris for being right. One minute he’d been looking at flurries in the backyard, and the next he couldn’t see Mia’s flipped-over pool anymore. Now it was about eight in the morning and he didn’t have anywhere to go. Neither did Liv, and she was still asleep in the other room. Which was probably a good idea, but Andrew knew he was already up for the day.
Maybe he’d finish his tea and make everybody breakfast. He’d go upstairs and see if Noah wanted to join. Though Noah might also be having a lie-in this morning. Either way, Andrew would offer.
After quickly checking over the pantry and fridge to make sure they had the ingredients for egg sandwiches, he headed upstairs. Noah usually left his door unlocked, Andrew knew that. But out of habit and respect, he still knocked on the front door when he got there. A silver Christmas wreath decorated it this year, a big difference from last year that made Andrew just a little more relieved to see it. He knew Noah was still struggling, even if he tried to hide it from them. But he seemed so much happier.
He heard Noah say something inside, but it was too muffled to be directed at whoever was at the door. And then there was another, decidedly male voice.
Andrew wanted to bolt downstairs and pretend this never happened, but the door opened before he could make a move. Noah stood there, looking honestly incredible in sweatpants and a long-sleeved tee-shirt. His hair was standing up and he looked half awake, but smiled.
“Hey, Andrew,” he said. “What’s up?”
Behind him, Andrew could see a small man sitting at the kitchen table. He had long red hair and as he turned to smile at Andrew, he saw the man had delicate features and a wide mouth.
“Um.” Why did Andrew suddenly forget how to say “want an egg sandwich?”
Noah waited patiently, but Andrew could see the light touch of red on his face. Andrew hadn’t even known he’d brought someone home. What the hell was he doing, bringing strange men-
No, this wasn’t Andrew’s business. Noah had his own home and his own life, even if it was directly upstairs. It was time to be gracious.
“I’m making breakfast,” he said, trying to keep his voice normal, even casual. “I was wondering if you wanted some.”
“Oh, thanks,” Noah said.
His voice was casual too, but Andrew could see the uncertainty in his eyes. “We’re all set for now,” he continued. “But thanks. Um, this is my friend Jude.”
Jude waved from the table and Andrew waved back, feeling like a puppet with cut strings. “Jude,” Noah continued, “This is my friend Andrew.”
“Hey, nice to meet you, Andrew,” Jude said.
Andrew shouldn’t have been irritated by the man’s accent, considering he was in the United States right now and surrounded by American accents. But something about the smoothness of his voice was different from the comfortable hominess of Noah and Olivia’s local accents, and it grated on him. Completely unreasonably, he knew that.
“You too,” he said instead of all that. “Right then, I’ll leave you two to it.”
Oh no. Andrew considered correcting course, but that would only make matters worse. And besides, they probably were fucking up here whether Andrew said anything about it or not.
“Yeah, um, I’ll see you later,” Noah said, scratching his short beard with his casted hand. “I’ll be around. Jude has to go to work whenever the snow stops.”
“I haven’t seen any snow plows,” Andrew said for reasons completely unknown to him.
“No, they don’t get to our street until dead last.”
Which meant that Jude was going to stay here forever. What if he got stuck too? And Noah, despite all of his protests, fell in love with him. And then Jude was part of the group and would be there forever while Andrew withered away and died here in New Winslow.
Not that the opposite situation was any better. Jude could leave town. He could go to fun places and do exciting things. Noah could go spend all his time out of town with him while Andrew withered away and died here in New Winslow.
“I’ve got my plow attached to my truck,” Noah continued, oblivious to Andrew’s internal demise. “So once it slows down, I’ll clear a path.”
“Hot,” Jude said, and Andrew wanted to smack his coffee mug out of his hand.
Noah smirked, shaking his head. And Andrew wanted to be anywhere else in the world. “Right,” he said. “Er, right. Yeah. I’m going to head downstairs then. Mia will probably be up soon and Liv’s still asleep.”
“Let me know if you need any help with her,” Noah said. “I’m here if you need me.”
The words, so simply delivered, punched a hole somewhere inside Andrew. God, he’d really blown it, hadn’t he? “I’ve got it,” he said. “You, um, enjoy your visit.”
Then he hurried downstairs, aware of what an undignified exit he was making. The door didn’t close behind him by the time he got all the way back downstairs.
When he got back into the flat, Mia was lying on the couch with her stuffed rabbit. Andrew sat down next to her and took the silky lining of her blanket in his hand, trying to stop the stupid, undeserved tears in his eyes.
He’d always known he was the one who ruined things with him and Noah. If he hadn’t left – or maybe if he hadn’t left like that – they could have been something great. Maybe they would have figured out their different needs to a point that they could make things work.