New Winslow S5E24
“Andrew, come on. Are you alright?”
Andrew groaned and opened one eye, scowling at whoever was disturbing him right now. Then he noticed the shelf of crystals looming above him as Dr. Degas’s concerned face swam into view. He wasn’t at home in bed, was he?
He sat up, shaking his head. “Did I fall asleep?” he asked.
“Unless you remember taking a stroll through the spirit world,” Roman said. “Which I don’t.”
Right. They were doing the ritual and apparently instead of peacefully meditating on Iris’s shop’s floor, Andrew had passed out cold.
“We’ve been done for twenty minutes, man,” Roman said. “When did you fall asleep?”
“Oh, about the time I closed my eyes,” Andrew replied, his face hot.
Dr. Degas sat down on the floor next to him. “Are you feeling alright?” she asked.
“Yeah. Yeah, I am. Sorry, I didn’t mean to…”
“No, it’s fine,” she said. “According to Roman, it wasn’t working anyway. But it’s five o’clock in the afternoon and it took us a little while to wake you up. Are you still having trouble sleeping?”
He’d rather not have this conversation in public, but Roman was deliberately inspecting a crystal farther down the aisle to give them privacy. Iris was nowhere to be seen.
“Yeah,” he admitted. “I only got about an hour of sleep last night.”
Dr. Degas sighed. “Alright,” she said. “You and Roman are taking a week off from any more attempts.”
Apparently Roman could still hear her because he came up the aisle, already about to argue. Dr. Degas held up a hand. “Obviously, I can’t tell you what to do in your own house. But I am going to strongly, strongly suggest that you both take a week off from any kind of magic or rituals or anything. You both need to rest and replenish your strength. One week. Sleep, healthy food, exercise. Starting now.”
On one hand, the idea of not doing anything irked Andrew. And from the look on Roman’s face, he could see Roman felt the same way. What if they found something this week? Or what if there was some combination of things that made a night this week just right for everything to fall into place?
But on the other hand, Andrew wanted to curl back up on that thin little mat and continue napping. So if that sounded appealing, maybe he did need some time off.
“You’re right,” he said. “It’s probably a good idea.”
She looked at him, her dark eyes a little softer now. “I can write you a prescription if you want,” she said. “There’s no pharmacy in town, because why would there be? But I can go pick it up for you.”
Andrew shook his head. “No, thank you,” he said. “I want to try a little longer without pills.”
She nodded. “That’s fine, but let me know if you want them. Or if you want any tips. You need to sleep at night, not just in the shop in the afternoon.”
He laughed a little, face still warm.
“Oh, hey, you’re up.”
Iris was back from wherever she’d been. “Listen,” she said. “I’ve got a book I ordered from the Antiquarian Society that might have some ideas in it. It’ll be in tomorrow.”
“We’re taking a week off,” Dr. Degas said. “These two need to get some rest.”
“Oh,” Iris said. “Oh, okay.”
Andrew couldn’t quite read her expression as she nodded. “I can save it then,” she added.
He thought she secretly wouldn’t mind the break if it meant more time over at the Countess. But he didn’t want to start that fight back up again.
“Right then,” Andrew said, pushing himself to his feet. “In that case, I’m going to head back to Liv’s and lay down a bit longer.”
Noah was walking out the front door of the duplex as Andrew pulled up and got out of Olivia’s car.
“Hi,” he said.
“Where are you going?”
Noah shrugged. “Nowhere,” he said. “I just wanted to take a walk.”
Dr. Degas did just tell him to do the same. “Want some company?” Andrew asked. “I just got grounded for a week with strict orders to take lots of walks.”
Noah raised an eyebrow at that. “Sure,” he said. “I’m not going anywhere in particular, though.”
Noah started toward the end of the driveway and Andrew followed, grateful for his coat as the wind picked up. “Why are you grounded?” Noah asked.
“Fell asleep during a ritual.”
He was encouraged by the small smile that curled the edges of Noah’s mouth. “A ritual, huh?”
“Oh, sod off. It was something Iris found, some kind of meditative astral projection whatnot. I nodded off and woke up to Dr. Degas telling me and Roman both that we’re taking a week off from any and all magic.”
“Are you not sleeping?”
Noah’s voice was soft again, and he wasn’t looking at Andrew. Instead, he was focused on the road as they turned away from the route downtown and further toward the western part of town. There were a few other houses in Noah’s neighborhood, but they were fairly far apart, with a decent amount of woods in between them. After nearly a year here, Andrew was getting used to the space, but that didn’t mean he had to like it. He missed being in a building with five other units and a six-foot alleyway between that building and the next one over.
“No,” he admitted. “I mean, I’m sleeping. But not much. Are you the same? I saw you in your kitchen late last night. Not to be a creep or something.”
Noah shook his head. “I wasn’t in my kitchen last night.”
“No, you definitely were. I could see you through the shade when I woke up for some tea.”
“I slept all night,” Noah said.
Andrew shrugged. “Either it was a ghost or you were sleepwalking.”
They were quiet for a moment as they walked. The street was slushy with the sleet that had come down earlier. It wasn’t cold enough for it to freeze over, but it wasn’t evaporating. So instead, it just collected in squishy clumps in Andrew’s shoes. He looked over at Noah, who was wearing his brown leather jacket and a red beanie. He was squinting slightly against the wind and Andrew noticed that his face had lost a lot of the sunkenness it had had before he left.
“How are you doing?” Andrew asked.
Noah was quiet for a second and Andrew couldn’t tell if he hadn’t heard or if he was ignoring the question. “I’m okay,” he said after a moment, as Andrew was debating whether to ask again.
“Good,” Andrew replied, just as softly.
Noah didn’t elaborate. Instead, stepping carefully around a puddle that Andrew noticed just as his foot sank into the icy water. The water immediately flooded his shoe, soaking his sock and foot. He swore and Noah turned to look.
“Yeah, the potholes are a little rough out here,” he said.
“So I’ve noticed.”
“Want to head back?”
“No,” Andrew answered without thinking about it.
He caught up with Noah, foot slipping unpleasantly inside his shoe. They started walking again as the wind picked up a little.
“We’re gonna get more snow,” Noah said. “Real snow. Probably a foot this weekend.”
“You’ve never liked the snow, have you?”
“I like it well enough,” Andrew argued. “When I don’t have to shovel, scrape, be cold, or have anything else to do with it.”
They were quiet again. “So, what are you going to do while you’re grounded?” Noah asked, easily skipping another pothole.
“Dunno,” Andrew said, avoiding the puddle at the last second. “Sleep. Exercise. She told me to take walks.”
“It wears your body out so you can sleep better.”
“Is that what you’re doing?”
Noah shrugged. “Anything else?” he asked, avoiding the question.
Andrew didn’t pursue it. “Not really,” he said. “I’ve been writing a bit. Might pick that back up. Maybe give Liv a break and babysit Mia for a night. If you’d like to do something, I’ll be around.”
Why had that come out so awkwardly? He might as well have asked Noah out to dinner and a movie. And only days after walking in on him and Jude. Andrew was already building his backpedaling defense – I mean, like, if the others want to do something. Or we can just hang out or whatever, nothing wild – when Noah nodded. “Yeah, sure. I’ll be around. I’m helping Cleo with her mom the next few days, but that’s it.”
“Do you need any help?”
Noah shook his head. “Honestly, I think having me there is too much for her,” he admitted. “I try to stay out of her way. I think things are easier with Liv, but Liv’s not a hulking stranger in her home.”
He gave a self-deprecating laugh. “So yeah, I’ll be around.”
He shoved his hands in his pocket and ducked another pothole, clearly indicating the conversation was over. Andrew should have felt relieved. So why did he feel disappointed?