roku zyu san (END)

Andrew was still reeling when he got home.  First there was Lexi; they’d stayed up all night in jail, talking between their cells, and something about her rambling had left his brain freewheeling.  He wasn’t sure what, and hadn’t decided if the weird mental freefall was unpleasant or not either.  After they’d been released, she’d talked him into coming and helping him work on a car she was building in her garage–she was Lexi Crane, he knew who she was, he’d read about her in Car and Driver, she and her fiancé had started a car company less than a year ago, and then it had fallen apart when he died.  It turned out that she was building one more of them, with her bare hands, as a tribute to him.  And she’d asked him to help, and he had.  Part of him wanted to follow her in his truck when they were through, to follow her wherever she was going (New York City, she’d made it sound like) just to be a continuing part of her adventure.  But he didn’t.  Seriously, it would be fun, but he had to work. 

Then there was the news.  Valentine was in jail.  Liz and Nikki had been rescued.  Eric was dead.  Drusilla–her real name was Cindy?–was dead.  Rob had left a message on his machine about that:  “Dude, your ex-girlfriend is on the news.  I think you bailed on her at a good time.”  Andrew sighed.

There was a message on his machine from Liz, too.  “I want you to come over, Ondrew.  I don’t want to see Dennis or Rob or anyone else that I didn’t call myself, so please don’t invite any extras, okay?  I’m kind of screwy right now and I need to center myself, and talk to you.  I’m leaving the hospital and going to the cop shop.  Don’t worry, I’m okay, I just busted my collarbone.  I’ll call you when I get in.”  Andrew called Liz’ apartment, got no answer, and fell into bed for another nap.  He couldn’t believe tomorrow was a workday.

Liz called perhaps three hours later, and insisted that he come down as soon as possible.  It was snowing yet again, lightly, and Andrew drove carefully.  He thought again about Lexi, briefly, and then got very excited and anxious about seeing Liz.  Don’t hug her, he reminded himself.

Only Peach was there with her.  They were watching a syndicated Saturday Night Live rerun.  Peach hadn’t seen the video, Andrew remembered.  He realized she hadn’t invited the others because they had watched the video, and wondered if he ought to tell her that he had seen a little bit of it, just a few minutes, his curiosity had been too great.  The desire to come clean crumbled when he saw Liz on the couch with her arm in a sling.  She looked placid and content, and he wouldn’t do anything to damage that.  “Hello, Ondrew,” she said as he came in.  “I bought you fancy beers, they’re in the fridge.”

You bought them?” he asked, going into the kitchen.

“Without a chaperone, even,” Peach said with a smile.

“I’m a lot better now,” she said.  “Nikki’s coming over for a late dinner,” Liz added.

“Really?”

She nodded.  “Our whole family is back together again,” she said.  “Or some new version of it, anyway. Do you want pizza, or Chinese?”

“Doesn’t matter.”  He sat.  “Have you talked to your dad?”

“No, why would I have?  If I try to hope that he’s going to call and see how I’m doing, I’ll just end up disappointed.”  A cloud passed over her features and then she smoothed her brow with her hand.  “I’m not going to think about Papa right now, Ondrew, okay?  This is something that will either be fixed, or it won’t.  I’ve got to live either way, so all I can do for now is put it aside.  You’re here, Peach is here, and Nikki’s home again.  I want to be happy with that for now.”

“What about yesterday?”

She nodded slowly.  “Mmm.  That.  It was Valentine’s idea, wasn’t it?”

Peach was interested.  “Can I ask what happened?  Should I be happy I didn’t make it, or disappointed?”

Andrew looked to Liz for an answer.  She closed her eyes for a moment, took a deep breath.  She’d already told Peach about her history with Valentine, and about the kidnapping, but she’d left out the porno.  God, she didn’t want him to know.  And at the same time, some part of her was desperate to confess it, as if he were a priest.  Oh, fuck it, she’d known Peach for long enough.  “When I was in LA, I was in an X-rated movie.  Valentine brought it over to Andrew’s and showed it to everyone.  Dennis, Rob, Crotch…they all watched it.  And thought it was pretty funny, from what I heard.  Only Ondrew was chivalrous enough to go outside.”

A sudden burst of self-loathing exploded in him.  “I should have stopped them,” he said.  “I should have punched that asshole in the goddamn face.”  The outburst was cut off as he thought about Valentine’s copy of “Doctor Ray’s California Vacation,” which was still in the VCR.  His VCR.

“I’m glad you did what you did, Ondrew,” she said.  She held up her good arm.  “Come here, so I can give you a big platonic kiss.”  Andrew obliged, with a smile.  He got more than he expected.

Peach didn’t react at all to Liz’ confession, but grinned when she kissed Andrew.  “Platonic kisses aren’t supposed to include tongue,” he said, putting his beer to his lips.

“That’s for thinking of me as a person,” she told Andrew as she released him.  He collapsed onto the couch next to her, feigning post-orgasmic bliss.  “Not as entertainment.  And I’m being serious, so if you make a joke right now, I’ll punch you in the goddamn nuts.”

“Does this mean you’re no longer speaking to Dennis and Crotch?” Peach asked.

“I haven’t decided yet,” she said.