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Amanda  

New Winslow S7E18

This was his home, but Andrew still felt strange being in the Limerick building and not working while the shop was open. His shift was over, he’d opened it this morning, after spending a reluctant, but probably necessary night here alone in the building.

He’d opened to silence at first, but gradually people started trickling in. Commuters on their way to some of the bigger towns nearby for work and a batch of high schoolers getting incredibly sugary coffees before class. Andrew had been taking notes on a few of the orders, finally making a hazelnut caramel mocha with whipped cream for himself once things slowed down.

Liv and Noah had walked in the door as he was drinking it. Of course Noah had been able to spare a moment to look at the drink with dismay before embracing Andrew. And then the three of them had worked an increasingly busy lunch together until his shift ended at two. Andrew had lingered of course, but finally Liv booted him out. And now he was upstairs, freshly showered and lying on his bed, staring at the ceiling and wondering what to do with his time.

There was plenty he could be doing. Looking for the Alderidges, reading more of that strange Harbinger woman’s notes, setting up marketing plans for Limerick, even just going to the town line and hoping that maybe it had decided he was too much hassle and would let him go now. He could exercise to work off some of this energy, go back down and wash dishes. Literally hundreds of things were piled up that required his attention at some point.

But instead Andrew was just going to lie here for a while on top of the duvet with his arms behind his head. It was still warm out, but at least that strange unseasonal heat had abated for now. Andrew wasn’t a summer person. He wasn’t particularly a winter person either, but the summer heat was something he did his best to avoid. It was going to come soon enough, but at least for now he could enjoy the breeze coming in from the window by the fire escape.

This didn’t feel like home. He tried to tell himself that of course it didn’t, he’d moved in just days ago and spent a few nights at Liv’s again in between. It would start to feel better, but he needed to give it time. And besides, didn’t he want it to remain a little less home-like? It’d make leaving easier when the time finally came.

Birds screeched outside, somewhere in the distance, and he could hear a bug buzzing by him every so often. There was probably a hole in the screen, he’d have to figure that out. Or ask Noah very nicely if he might try to fix it for him.

Noah was downstairs right now, which was a nice thought. Andrew didn’t know what he planned to do after, but he probably had an AA meeting he wanted to go to. Or maybe he’d want to just go home and relax after everything that had happened. He’d been surprised that Noah wanted to work today, but he’d always been like that, hadn’t he? Pushing himself for normalcy. Andrew didn’t know if it genuinely made him feel better or if it was just a constantly moving goal he was trying to reach when things got bad. But that was always his approach when things got rough.

A breeze brushed over his face. He had a fan, but maybe he could get one of those window air con units in here. Liv had one in the living room back home, it was a simple enough-

Back at her house. Not home.

He went for his phone to scroll aimlessly through air con units he wasn’t going to buy, then realized he didn’t have it up here. Oh well, it was an excuse to go back down, he supposed.

When Andrew got through the door downstairs, the first thing he saw was Noah washing a stack of dishes. Noah didn’t see him come in, which was probably the only reason Andrew caught a glimpse of that far off look on his face as he scrubbed a small plate, then set it in the sanitizer basin. Andrew spotted his mobile on the small table Liv had put back there and started moving toward it with enough intentional noise that he might be able to avoid startling Noah.

It failed. Noah looked up and gasped as he saw Andrew, splashing water onto his shirt. “Shit,” he muttered, reaching for a paper towel.

“Sorry,” Andrew said, holding up his phone. “Just looking for my mobile.”

Noah looked at him with a smile for a second and after the harshness of the past few days, that soft smile set off all sorts of emotions in him. “I’ll- I’ll be upstairs,” Andrew said, motioning vaguely toward the door.

“Yeah, of course,” Noah said quickly. “No, I’ll be, um, we’re just finishing up down here.”

“How was the rest of the afternoon?” Andrew asked.

“Slow,” Noah replied. “Yeah, just slow.”

That wasn’t good, but he was going to try not to worry too much about it. “Right,” Andrew said. “Erm, I’ll be upstairs then.”

Not the most graceful exit, but he hadn’t had an opportunity to process the past five days or so. “Can I come see you after?”

He paused, and Noah quickly elaborated. “If you’re not busy,” he said. “And not for a long time, I’ve got a meeting and things and…and…”

He trailed off, clearly as nervous as Andrew. “Yeah, of course,” Andrew said. “Yeah, come on up.”

He smiled, then ducked out before saying anything to make himself look even sillier.

Of course, now that he knew Noah would be coming up at some point, Andrew couldn’t focus on anything. So he went right back to lying on his bed in the breeze.

When he heard footsteps on the stairs, he knew that laying on his bed like this was maybe not the best hosting job he’d ever done, but he was too tired to get up and be gracious.

Noah appeared in his bedroom doorway a moment later, looking a little hesitant. “Hi,” he said.

Andrew motioned for him to come over to the bed. “Come here.”

Noah had about seven inches on him, but he curled into Andrew in a way that made him feel immediately protective as he turned and looped an arm over him. “You alright, then?” he whispered, running his fingers through Noah’s hair.

Noah nodded, facing Andrew’s chest. “Fine,” he said. “Just tired.”

That was a lie, but Andrew wasn’t the one who had lived through someone else’s death, fled in shock, had his soul torn and stitched back together, and lost and regained his memories of the past few years. So he’d let it lie.

“What’s this?” Noah asked, tracing a finger down the slice in Andrew’s neck that was scabby, but heading toward healed.

“Um, just a cut,” he replied.

“From when?”

No point lying, right? “I hit the town line.”

“Wh-oh.”

“I’m fine.”

They were quiet for a few minutes as Andrew closed his eyes and rested a hand against Noah’s neck. “Sorry about what I said,” Noah said from under Andrew’s chin.

“What did you say?”

Noah shifted to look up at him. “When I said you weren’t special for giving me a handjob and then leaving.”

Andrew laughed and couldn’t believe he’d laughed. “In my defense,” he started, then realized there wasn’t anywhere to go with that.

“We’d already fought and made up and fought and made up over it?” Noah finished for him.

“I suppose, yeah.”

Noah laughed, and Andrew allowed himself to hope that maybe he really was fine. He cupped a hand over the back of Noah’s head, running a thumb over his hair. “It’s alright,” he said.

His heart was going, and he hoped his nerves weren’t as obvious to Noah as they seemed to him. Noah was still looking at him, then he shifted again, moving up to kiss Andrew.

It was soft and cautious, nothing like the one they’d shared before he left or that desperate one midway through repairing his memory. It was almost like he wasn’t sure what Andrew wanted. Though, considering they were lying in bed together, bodies lined up, Andrew knew exactly what he wanted.

“Maybe I can make it up to you,” he said as they broke apart. “You know, not leave for five years this time?”

Did Noah actually look nervous? That was almost a relief because so was Andrew. But rather than say anything, Andrew caught him in another kiss, keeping one hand gently against his face while the other made its way slowly down his body. Noah sighed against him and if the town line had opened up and personally invited him to leave right now, Andrew wouldn’t have gone anywhere.

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CONTINUE TO EPISODE 19

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The Northern Worcester County branch of the Foundation for Paranormal Research is one of the organization’s top investigation and cleanup teams. So when a case comes in involving a century of mysterious disappearances, they figure they’ll be done before their lunch break is supposed to end. Investigators James and Amelia go to the site while their coworkers remain behind. But in seconds, Amelia vanishes in the cursed house and the others are forced to find her with no help from their bosses. Will they be able to get her back or will the house claim one final victim?

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