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'Come with me,' Novak says into the curve of Andy's shoulder, so soft it's half-whispered. 'You can be my practice partner. My common sense advisor. Anything, only come with me.'

For a split second Andy allows himself a thrill of hope, pushing at the weight in his chest. 'You don't even know me,' he says carefully.

'You are Andy. You have an interesting job history. We had a- how did you say? A chance meet, it was very cute and romantic-'

Andy can't help a snort of laughter.

'It was,' Novak insists. 'Oh! And you are from Scotland!'

'Can you even point to Scotland on a map?'

Novak points directly upwards, triumphantly jabbing his finger at the ceiling and Andy grins, pressing his huff of laughter to the corner of Novak's own smile.

'Some of us might argue but Scotland isn't actually the paradise beyond the pearly gates.'

'It could be,' Novak says with every appearance of seriousness. 'You are from there. Oh,' and before Andy can react to that utterly ridiculous implication, 'you have the men in funny glasses!'

Andy hesitates. 'Tourists?'

Novak shakes his head, gesturing one-handed in a way that Andy doesn't speak enough fluent Novak to translate. 'No! The walking men!' Abruptly he pushes upright in the bed and bursts into a tuneless but enthusiastic yell. 'And I would walk five thousand miles! And I would walk five thousand more, to beeeeee-'

Andy's laughing too much to beg him to stop but his ears are saved by a loud banging on the wall from the next room. Marian yells something incomprehensible and Novak shouts back in Serbian, lit up with gleeful amusement.

'What did he say?' Andy asks when Novak wriggles back down next to him, curling into Andy hungrily as if he's been gone for days rather than half a minute of mutilating the Proclaimers.

Novak hums soft amusement behind a kiss, dragging it damp and affectionate over Andy's cheek. 'He said we must run five thousand miles to hide from him if we wake him up again.'

'It's five hundred miles you twazzock,' Andy corrects out of cultural loyalty but laughing again, warm all over with the teasing and Novak right there, hanging on.

With being asked, even if he could never go.

'I can't,' he says before the foolish hope can trick him into saying yes, before the weight on his chest from wanting it crushes him. 'I can't go with you. I want to but- you don't know me, and I can't.'

Novak's quiet for a long moment, gone still beside him with his hand curled over Andy's hip; Andy can feel his fingers tremble just slightly.

'I could learn,' he offers in the half-whisper. It's strained with the effort of sounding neutral rather than disappointed and Andy shuts his eyes so he won't have to see the heartbreak that's written clear in Novak's tone all over his face too, leaning in to kiss the sadness from his mouth because it's easier than saying no out loud.

He can't go, he thinks as he rolls them over so Novak's beneath, gone pliable with desperation and curling in close. The tennis aside, he can't be the kept whore trailing around the world because Novak snapped his fingers. Anyway, Novak has no idea of what he's really asking, of just how disastrous Andy lurking in the locker room could be.

He can't. Even if he wants to.


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