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New Winslow S7E23

Noah braced himself as he walked into the Limerick. The shattering glass and the continued demand for home from the spirit still rattled him, but he might have been even more nervous about the anger he was about to face. Deserved anger, yes. But still.

However, as he walked into the Limerick, Olivia didn’t come over and start yelling at him. Instead, she just nodded toward the drink station. “Can you take that?” she asked, motioning toward the small line of coffees that were waiting for attention. “I need to run back and get some pastries to restock the case.”

She didn’t seem angry. In fact, there was nothing out of the ordinary in the way she talked. But maybe it was a little too normal? Still, Noah did as he was told, taking his spot at the counter and getting the drinks ready for the handful of teenagers who had come in for coffees and cookies. It was simple work, and they were all done before Olivia even got back.

“I’m thinking we should start adding sandwiches to the menu soon,” she said, looking over at the menu board. “The pastries and coffees are good, but if we want things to be sustainable, we’ll have to either raise the prices or add bigger items. And I’d rather not raise prices, this isn’t a particularly wealthy area. Not that that’ll surprise either of us fucking broke bitches.”

She laughed lightly and stepped aside to wash her hands. Again, a little too ordinary. “Hey, Liv…” Noah started.

“I know where you were,” Olivia said, still facing the sink. She shut off the water and took a paper towel to dry her hands before turning around. “Look,” she said, finally facing him. “I’m not mad. I get it, you want to help solve this. But please, just be honest with me, alright? Or at least be honest with Andrew if you’re not going to tell me.”

That hurt. “No, Liv, it’s not that I’m not going to tell you things. It’s just-“

“Iris, I know,” she said. “And I appreciate you looking out for me. You know how I feel. Well, at least as well as I know how I feel.”

She gave a little ironic smile. “Just tell us next time,” she said. “I was worried.”

And there was the guilt, even more so than before. “I’m sorry.”

“You’re an adult,” she said. “Just be careful. No one wants you to get hurt to solve this.”

There really wasn’t anything he could say to that, was there? But luckily there were plenty of tasks he could start silently doing in order to avoid having to say anything at all.

“Did you reach him?” Olivia asked, before he could settle on one of those tasks to escape the conversation.

“Wha-oh, Billy,” Noah said. “Yeah. We actually did. Iris used a spirit board and he answered.”

“Now what?”

“Good question,” Noah replied. “I guess we’re going to try to connect with him so he can connect with the family behind the curse. And that means that I need to connect with my mom so I can find out if they’re related.”

She grimaced, and he remembered with yet another flash of shame that Olivia had gone to his mother to get him help and been rejected. It had been a long time since Noah talked to his mother and he was dreading this conversation, but that memory made it even worse.

“I figure I’ll call her tonight and get it over with quickly,” he said, forcing his tone to stay easy. “At least it explains things, I guess. And if it means the nightmares are over, then even better.”

“You didn’t have any last night?”

“Nope. Slept like a rock.” That was only mostly a lie.

He smiled at her. “I’m going to go do inventory.”

That was her least favorite part of the job and he knew it. Her grateful smile eased something in him and he headed out back.

——-

Andrew was babysitting Mia while Olivia was working. She’d intentionally scheduled herself a longer day than either of them so that she could go over some paperwork in the evening, so she was still there when Noah left for the night. He was grateful that things had gone about as well as they could have with her, but he was still nervous to see Andrew. Not because it was the first time he’d see him since they slept together. Of course not, Noah wasn’t eighteen and he’d keep telling himself that. But just because Liv hadn’t torn him a new one didn’t mean Andrew was going to be as understanding.

Andrew was making Mia’s supper as Noah walked into Liv’s apartment. He could have just gone upstairs like a coward, but he really did want to see them, even if Andrew was going to be pissed at him. And sure enough, when he walked into the kitchen, Andrew gave him a look.

“Would it kill you to let us know where you are?” he asked.

That reflex to tell Andrew he was an adult was tempered by the fact that seventy-two hours ago, he’d still thought he was thirty-one years old. And two days before that, he’d disappeared on them. “Sorry,” he said instead. “I was with-“

“Iris, yeah, I know. She texted me.”

Again, that quick burst of irritation. He looked at Mia, who was looking curiously up at him from the table, then went and gave her a kiss on the head. He looked cautiously at Andrew, who set down the spatula, then came over and hugged him. His body was warm and Noah wanted to stay wrapped in him much longer than he did before reluctantly letting go.

Andrew looked up at him. “Just text me or something,” he said. “Or Liv, if you’re more comfortable with that.”

Oh shit, he was messing all of this up. “No, no, it’s not that,” he said, that feeling of déjà vu settling in. “I’m sorry, I just…I mean…”

He was flailing and as Andrew continued to look at him, he knew that the fear wasn’t just because he’d been sneaking around. It was also the fact that he had something with Andrew, no idea what to call it, and a time limit that was completely unknown, yet they were all working very hard to bring it forward. And all of this was colliding with the fact that oh God, he’d had sex with Andrew.

Maybe some of this was obvious to Andrew, because the irritation on his face was lessening as he looked at Noah, replaced with a kind of hesitation. “Are you all right?” he asked.

They weren’t writing wedding invitations. It was basically a hookup with a lot of complicated emotions behind it and yes, Noah was in love with Andrew and had no idea if Andrew felt the same way about him. And he needed to go upstairs so he could attempt to unpack any of this in private before bringing anything to either Andrew or his therapist, who would listen to the whole disaster, then make Noah answer his own questions about it all.

Though maybe that would help. And it was a reminder to give Liv her contact information. Because he’d barely had to lie about the whole thing with Vivien when he rescheduled his missed appointment from this week.

Andrew was still looking at him as all these thoughts collided. Noah shook his head, coming back to the moment. “I’m alright,” he said, with what he hoped was a charming smile. “I need to go upstairs for a bit, you need anything before I go?”

“Are we…” Andrew started, and Noah immediately felt like a dick.

“Yeah, sorry,” he said. “No, I have to call my mother. And I’m fucking dreading it.”

“Three-hour time difference, right?” Andrew asked.

“Yeah.” So he should wait, just a little bit.

“Wait til Mia goes to bed, it won’t be long. Then I’ll come up with you.”

“Thanks.”

Noah turned to go, but then Andrew caught his hand. “Wait, can I talk to you for a second?”

If it was about ghosts or the Limerick, he would have said it in front of Mia. But he pulled Noah into the living room. “Listen,” Andrew said. “I don’t regret yesterday. And I’m not expecting a label or anything, I suppose. But you’re okay?”

“With what?” Noah said, letting out a long breath. “With being incredibly lucky?”

“Stop that.”

Noah laughed. “I don’t regret it,” he said. “Not at all. And I’m not holding you to anything. We can just accept that things are complicated and let them be? Complicated, I mean.”

The happy look on Andrew’s face flickered, but then came back. “Of course,” he said. “Erm, same with you.”

“Andwoo!”

Mia screeched and the thud of a sippy cup hitting the floor interrupted them. Andrew turned to the doorway, then back to Noah. He leaned up, kissed Noah quickly, then hurried into the kitchen.

————–

CONTINUE TO EPISODE 24 

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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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