san zyu hachi

Liz’ Subaru sped through the snowy Michigan night, throwing up plumes of slushy, salty ice on either side.  Andrew said calmly, “Liz, you’re driving too fast.”

“No, I’m not,” she said through clenched teeth.

“You’re grinding your teeth, too.”

The car slid around a corner, weaving on the snow, gliding perilously close to a curb and drifting away just before making contact.  “Why would she do this to me, Ondrew?  Why?  How am I so much of a threat that she’s got to try to make my father lose faith in me?”  Faith I don’t know if I deserve, a voice in her head added.

“We’ll never find out if we don’t make it there,” he replied as Liz hit the brakes a full second too late to avoid sliding halfway through a red light.

She took her hands off of the wheel, raised them as if to bang on the dash, then dropped them back to the steering wheel.  “Okay, okay, you’re right, I’m acting like an idiot.  I’m sorry.  This should be your night anyway–“

“Oh, screw that, this is a lot more interesting than moping around all evening.  I didn’t say we shouldn’t go and kick Margo’s ass, I just think we should drive like sane people so we get there.  The light’s green, by the way.”

The tires spun in the snow.  “I’m not going to beat the shit out of Margo tonight, Ondrew.”

Andrew sighed.  “Does that mean you will, some time?”

“Probably not.”

“Oh, well, shit, let me out then.”  He laughed.  “I’m just along for the ride, Lizbot.  And as moral support, of course.”  He held up the bottle of vodka.

She managed a bitter, faintly amused smile.  “Yeah, right.”

There were still lights on when they got to Ted and Margo’s house.  That was a good thing; Liz wasn’t particularly interested in dragging them out of bed for this.  As she got out of the car, the icy wind stole her breath for a moment.  She hadn’t even put her coat on.  Andrew had grabbed it, actually, but she shrugged it away when he offered it to her.  She was focused only on the house, and on getting a handful of Margo’s shirt, to shake her by.  She wondered who Ted would side with.

The door was locked, so she had to knock.  Ted answered the door with a big, utterly uncharacteristic grin on his face.  The radio and television were both on; a rowdy Elvis tune played.  Margo was in the doorway to the kitchen, looking flushed and happy.

Ted looked a little flushed, too, and ten years younger.  But she hadn’t interrupted them making out; they weren’t the least bit embarrassed.  In fact, they looked happy to see her.  Both of them.  “Liz!” he said, pulling her into a quick hug.  “Andrew, too!  Come on in.  You’re just in time to get the news!”

Liz’ anger was already fading at the sight of her father so happy, and that was no good; she needed to stay mad.  “What’s going on?” she asked finally.

“Tell her, Margo.”

“I’m pregnant,” her stepmother said with a noxiously cute grin that prompted Ted to snatch her off her feet in a massive hug and spin her around, giggling.

Well, fuck.  Liz took  a deep breath, absorbing.  If there was ever a time to concede defeat, it was now.  There would be no getting Ted to side with her tonight, no matter what Margo had done.  She gave Andrew a helpless look over her shoulder.  He smiled back at her, and shrugged.

“You look as dumbstruck as I was,” Ted said to Liz.  “Come on in, you guys, have a seat.  You want some coffee or something?”  He started toward the kitchen.  When his back was turned, Andrew stuck the bottle of vodka into the umbrella stand, pushing it down out of sight.

“Coffee sounds good, Mr. Bahti,” he said.

“Shit,” Liz said under her breath.

“I know,” Andrew whispered in reply.