For @paradoxolotl. 🧡🧡🧡. We were taking flowers, I ended up looking up their meaning, and boom! Fluffy little Andreil school flower fic practically wrote itself.
(Slight TW for descriptions of scars)
The new kid is quiet. Neil, his name is. He is quiet, and his forearms have deep, round scars gouged into them, like someone pressed a lit cigarette into the skin there, except bigger. He is quiet until the floodgates are lowered, until he releases his tongue - welding it as ruthlessly as any other weapon, sharper than any knife Andrew carries with him in his armbands. His eyes are the brightest blue Andrew has seen, more brilliant than the sky shining overhead, and his hair is brown, unevenly coloured in different sections, like he had rushed his shitty dye job. He doodles during most the classes he shares with Andrew, except math.
He is a mystery and conundrum in one, and he also happens to be exactly Andrew's type.
More immediately though, he is leaning on the wall next to Andrew, a good distance away, wide eyes staring expectantly at Andrew. Firmly holding his composure together, Andrew takes a deep drag of the cigarette he's been nursing, blowing a puff of smoke towards Neil and raising an eyebrow when Neil only crinkles his nose delicately, leaning forwards instead of backwards.
He's breathing the smell in, Andrew realizes, with a small start of surprise. The boy with the burn marks scattered around his cheek and arms, inhaling the scent of smoke pleasantly.
"Can I have one?" Neil asks quietly.
The new kid, with the burn marks, who also smokes, apparently.
"Not for free," Andrew says, even as he takes the pack out of his back pocket. Neil tilts his head, but stays quietly, waiting for Andrew to continue.
"I give you something. You give me something in return." Andrew pulls one of the cigarettes out, extending it towards the new kid, curious to see if he'll accept it. Neil studies him silently, frowning slightly, and Andrew wonders what he sees.
"Okay", he acknowledges with a small nod, taking the cigarette and the lighter Andrew held from his hand, careful not to touch him.
Not just a mystery. A pipe dream.
Irritated with the direction of his thoughts, Andrew pushes off the wall, saluting Neil briefly before continuing to walk through the doors of the school. The rest of the afternoon's classes are spent examining the new clues Andrew has been given.
After that, it becomes a bit of a ritual. Andrew and Neil meet at the brick wall during lunch, smoking peacefully and slowly striking up conversations. Andrew finds himself facing the impossibility of someone who actively tried to understand him. Someone who listens and dissects what he says, and what he leaves unsaid as well.
Neil begins to bring his own pack of cigarettes, as he has yet to bring something in exchange to Andrew. He keeps all his other promises, but remains quiet the one time Andrew mockingly asks what he's getting in exchange.
"Scared you won't find the perfect gift?" Andrew tilts his head up, hands coming to splay dramatically over his chest.
Neil smiles slightly, the dip of his lips a now all-too-familiar sight. Andrew hates it, and fights the urge to wipe it away. Preferably with his lips.
Resolutely, Andrew glances away.
It turns out that Neil had been waiting for the perfect gift.
He shows up one day, clutching flowers in one hand. They're a plain vanilla colour, with small bell-like flowers that slope down the stem, like rain slipping from a roof.
"What is this, junkie?" Andrew questions, a bit faintly. Snapdragons, he knows, thanks to his unforgetting memory.
"Snapdragons. I've been waiting for them to grow," Neil replies, thrusting the flowers towards him. He's anxious, Andrew can see, from the tiny, concerned wrinkles around his eyes to the way his eyes dart around the surrounding area, searching for an exit in the wide open space.
Andrew snaps his fingers, drawing Neil's attention back towards him. Better.
"You gave something to me. I give something to you," Neil recites dutifully, "that's how it goes, right?"
"And you chose to give me flowers?" Andrew stares at Neil, silently praying that his hair is covering the tips of his ears, which he can feel burn bright red.
"They look like skulls when they die. I thought you'd like them," Neil shifts on his feet, a tell he usually hides well, but Andrew is observant.
"You're lying," he accuses.
"I'm not", Neil shoots back, defensive. He's slowly getting more and more flustered as the conversation drags on.
"Leaving out critical details still counts as lying, Neil," Andrew adds emphasis to the name, a subtly barb. Neil, he knows, responds well to such taunts. Watching him lose the restraint, the smoke and mirror he has used to make himself disappear for most his life, is one of the most fascinating things Andrew has seen.
Today, he does not. The fight flees as suddenly as it rears his head, Neil widening in his eyes in a way that originally caused Andrew to nickname him rabbit, and the flight urge wins out.
"Look up what it means," Neil blurts out, quickly turning towards the school's entrance and fleeing.
In front of his laptop at home, Andrew turns the words on his screen over in his head.
Known for their ability to grow in tough, almost uninhabitable areas.
A charm against falsehood.
Grace, specifically through inner perseverance during difficult times.
The next day, waiting impatiently at their spot, Andrew only has three words on his tongue for Neil when he arrives, flushed and gorgeous, ginger roots shining in the light.
"Yes or no?"
"Yes," he replies.
The rest is not history, but a future, one full of lazy mornings, sweet kisses, two cats, and many other "yes or no?"s.
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