It was a long Saturday evening, full of celebration that Liz wasn’t sure she shared. Ted was discreet enough to adjourn to the kitchen whenever he wanted another beer, but insisted on sitting and chatting with Liz and Andrew for two hours while Margo called all of the people in her apparently considerable address book to give them the good news. He talked about nothing of importance, and Andrew seemed happy to engage him thusly–it took his mind off of his own problems, of course. She’d have to draw him out about Drusilla later though, that was important.
Liz wasn’t sure if she or Andrew fell asleep first, but both of them eventually went down in Ted and Margo’s living room. She had rested her head on the back of the couch for a moment, listening to Ted’s plan to turn the spare room into a nursery, with some extra soundproofing and insulation, and new windows, and of course paint and carpet, and suddenly it was silent. When Liz opened her eyes and raised her head, the living room was dark, and she could feel Andrew next to her on the couch, his head almost on her shoulder. He was snoring lightly.
Outside, the streetlight cast a blue-white glow on the curtains. Liz could hear the kitchen clock buzzing lightly, and the wind hushed against the windows. Ah, well. They could crash here, she supposed. She usually woke up around two in the morning for a fifteen-minute bout of insomnia, so it was probably close to that time. It was too late to get up and drive home, and besides, she didn’t really feel like moving.
She shifted a little, and Andrew stirred. “Ondrew,” she whispered. “Turn a little.” She nudged him, shuffling around (while he protested in sleepy half-words) until she got her legs up on the couch and wrapped partway around him, his shoulders to her belly, his head on her chest. That was better. She could lie prone, and he’d keep her warm.
“Liz,” he murmured.
“How come no one ever stays with me?”
He’d been holding that in all night, for better or for worse. The hurt in his voice almost brought tears to her eyes. She hugged him tighter. “Because you keep hanging out with the wrong girls,” she said softly. “But you’ll find the right one. You’re doing it right.”
“It doesn’t feel like it.”
She felt him smile. “You’re going to be somebody’s big sister.”
“Dry up and die,” she said in Japanese, half laughing. He had no idea what she’d said, but seemed happy with himself. Liz gave him another big squeeze that felt as though she was pulling a protective shield around him, and it worked, somehow. She could still hold the world at bay, and was willing to do it for him. Andrew snuggled into her embrace with a sigh, and dropped back into sleep.
As she started to doze off herself, she realized that they were pressed together on the couch, back to belly, his head heavy on her chest, and the thought of fucking him hadn’t even crossed her mind. The contact didn’t even make her horny, not even when she was thinking about it. She just felt safe. She didn’t want a drink, either. She wanted nothing but to lie here with Andrew, protecting him and, oddly, being protected in turn. When Liz slept, she dreamt pleasant dreams.
The night passed too quickly; dawn attacked her eyes, then rushed forward an hour before she even realized it. “Ondrew. Wake up. You’re already late for work.”
He let himself be nudged awake, and opened his eyes to find himself in Liz’ lap, her breast above him not-quite touching his cheek but close enough that he could feel its heat, and in a living room that was completely unfamiliar. No, wait, it was her father’s house. Why was he here at–he looked at his watch–eight-forty in the morning? Andrew shut his eyes tight, rubbed them, and then opened them again. It was coming back to him now. “Should I rush? Have you killed everyone in the house?”
“Oh, shut up,” she said softly as Margo flounced into the room on her way to the kitchen.
“Do you two want something for breakfast?” she asked, saccharine dripping from her voice. “Your father asked me to wake you up in time for work,” she added, as if she had somehow done that by walking out after they were awake and already late.
“No, thanks,” Liz said. “I think we’re both late for work already.” She didn’t look at Margo, and focused her attention on her boots as she laced them up. “Thank you for the couch space, though,” she added. That was the last thing she said to Margo before they escaped. Andrew picked up on her haste, and didn’t make conversation either. He hated running out so rudely, but he could feel a huge fight brewing. Margo was waiting for Liz to accuse her of something, and Liz was spoiling to do it, and both of them seemed to know that it would end in a victory of some sort for Margo. So he kept his mouth shut until they were safely away from the house.
“Is the piercing glare through the windshield intended for your stepmother, or for the world in general?” he asked.
Liz had one elbow on the windowsill, up against the glass, and the nail of her forefinger hooked solidly behind a lower canine. She didn’t bite her nails, but he recognized the nail-chewing look as one of deep thought coupled with massive irritation. She was barely looking left or right. “What do you think?” she asked.
“Just checking. So what are we going to do?”
“I don’t know. I just don’t know. She wants me to get pissed at her, and yell at her, and then she can go crying to Ted, and he’ll be pissed at me. I know this shit is designed to get him and me angry at each other.”
“And if he finds the next bottle in your freezer, that’ll certainly happen.”
“Fuck, Ondrew, he’d cut me off. I mean, I’m sort of supporting myself, but I don’t know if Mr. McIntyre would let me keep the job–“
“You don’t want it anyway.”
“I know, but…” Liz shook her head. “I can’t even think, I’m so mad. And I’m even madder because I wanted to be making you feel better, and then my own shit comes up.”
Andrew laughed. “God, quit worrying about me, would you? I’ll be fine. I’ve been dumped before.”
“I know, I’ve seen you dumped, and I know how you get. You say shit like, ‘quit worrying about me,’ when what you really want is to curl up on someone’s lap and cry. But you hold it all in. Just like a typical guy. Crying would be better for you.”
“Look who’s talking.”
She looked at him. “Touche,” she said, then added, “Bitch.”
“Same to you but more of it.”
“Yeah, but I probably shouldn’t,” he said. “I’ll call the office when we get to your place, but I’d like to get there before ten if I can help it.”
Liz glanced at the dash clock. It was almost nine. “You won’t,” she predicted. They didn’t stop for breakfast, though. She was supposed to work at nine-thirty, herself.
She got Andrew dropped off and promised to meet him at The Barn after aikido so they could talk more, then headed to work without changing clothes. Well, shit, they already smelled like fish, didn’t they?
No one noticed anyhow. Murphy had arrived early, still driving the Ryder truck that Mr. McIntyre had rented to handle deliveries while the regular truck received a new box and refrigeration unit. Keith and Murphy were on the dock, doing a lot of nothing as usual. They didn’t move during the time it took her to park, go inside, punch in, and come back out. Maybe it was her mood, but she couldn’t help thinking that they were almost sorrier than the skater punks in Los Angeles.