Liz insisted on helping Peach move on Saturday. “What time should I meet you guys?” she had asked upon hearing that Crotch had begged off, citing a family obligation. Andrew opened his mouth to tell her it wasn’t necessary, and never got the words out. “Shut up, I can help. Don’t treat me like a goddamn invalid any more.”
That had more or less settled it, and she met them at noon to shift Peach’s furniture. He didn’t have much; a large percentage of it consisted of cinderblocks and boards. It wasn’t that he was too cheap to get actual furniture; upon closer observation the wood was redwood, not pine, and had been lovingly, carefully stained and varnished. He had even wet-sanded and sealed the cinderblocks so their surfaces were smooth, and he’d probably done the sanding by hand. Peach preferred to live like a monk. “I can’t believe you stayed here as long as you did,” Andrew said of the tiny apartment, which only had one window. He picked up the last box of books and headed out to the truck.
Peach shrugged, looking around the empty apartment. “The energy here was good.”
“What changed it?” Liz asked.
His eyes went to the ceiling. “Neighbor with a treadmill,” he said.
“Six-thirty to seven, twice a day, seven days a week. I was going mad.” He watched Liz, who seemed to have put on weight since coming home. Good weight, to be sure–she looked considerably less emaciated, and looked like with time she’d get her swimsuit-model figure back and start kvetching about being fat again. “You know, Liz,” he said, looking at her, “you’ve been wearing that sweatshirt every time I’ve seen you since you came home.”
“That’s because I really like it. Besides, it’s my only one,” she said with a rueful grin.
“That’s no way to be prepared for winter.”
“But it’s a fine way to be broke and just getting by. I have some hand-me-downs from Papa, I’m just not going to wear them until I absolutely have to. I don’t know why he’s got so many Notre Dame shirts when he didn’t even go to college.”
Andrew, coming in the door, had overheard. “You need clothes? Let’s go shopping. It’ll be a perfect way to ditch this clown,” he joked, indicating Peach with a thumb.
“Maybe after I get paid, Ondrew,” she said. “I don’t exactly have anything to go shopping with right now.” And Eric was going to take half of it, she realized. Shit.
“I can float you.”
“Oh, no you don’t.”
“Oh, yes I will. I owe you a birthday present anyway.”
“My birthday isn’t till March, idiot.”
“Yeah, but I missed the past three. So I owe you a cumulative present. Let’s go shopping, after we get Peach’s stuff unloaded. I’m serious. It’ll be a perfect Saturday, we can shop and then rent a movie.”
“You need a girlfriend,” Liz told him. She liked the idea of getting new clothes–to be honest, the sad thrift store castoffs she was stuck with were depressing her–but she didn’t want to lean on Andrew that hard, either.
“Maybe I’ll find one at the mall,” he said with a secretive grin that failed to get past Liz.
“What the hell’s that supposed to mean?”
“Did I miss something?” Peach asked.
“Nah.” Andrew shook his head. “Not a damn thing. What do you say, Lizbot, to some new clothes?”
“I say I’m not letting you give me clothes. You’ve done a lot for me, but this is absurd and I won’t do that to you.”
“I owe you, though.”
“This is going to go on all afternoon,” Peach said, shaking his head. “Andrew, consider it a present. Liz, consider it a loan. Then you can bicker about it later, preferably while I am far, far away.”
“That’s so Zen of you,” Andrew said.