ASN 5.5 The Drive: Part I

by Matt P.

Siobhan watched the others go, and turned back to her father to consider him for a moment. He was watching Annie go off, and so she considered him in profile. His brown hair was shot through more with silver than she remembered, and his goatee had started picking it up as well. She didn’t remember when it had started to do that. He was old, but not like…old old. But someday he will be, and it will be all gray.

“Walter,” Morgan said, leaning out of the door to the room the young woman was in. “We need to go meet with them to discuss what’s happening, even if its just so they can lie to our faces. Tanya knows that, she just wishes we could go burn their house down.”

Walter nodded. “This is the vampires? The Europeans?” Morgan nodded, and Walter shrugged. “Alright, that sounds only about as weird as anything else, I guess. Let me know when we’re going and when. Are you sure you want me there?” He asked as an afterthought. Morgan smiled, and nodded again.

“You’ll be a reminder that this isn’t just our politics, it’s impacting the humans as well. That’s a good reminder. Besides,” she offered with a smile that could have been shy, if Siobhan thought that someone who had been alive since before Spain was a country could still be shy, “The only other person I trust as much to have my back will already be there.”

Siobhan suppressed the smile that her father did not bother hiding for good teenage form, before rolling her eyes. “Is ‘get a room’ a thing us kids say any more?” She teased Morgan, blunting the edge with a smirk. “Come on, am I going to school at all today or not? I mean, I’m in favor of ‘or not’.”

Walter snorted, and pulled his keys out of his pocket. “Come on, let’s go.” They walked through the hospital, out to the parking lot where the SUV was waiting. Siobhan started to head for the passenger side when, after unlocking the car with the remote, her father tossed her the key fob. “You drive, once we start going. Since they won’t let me decide you don’t get to turn sixteen, gotta practice,” Siobhan practically squealed, and hurled herself in to the driver seat.

Walter pulled himself in to the passenger seat, and buckled himself in. “Before we go…Bug, how are you doing?” He asked, before he winced a little bit about how awkward that sounded. Siobhan, turning on the car and adjusting her seat, didn’t fail to notice it either and smirked.

“That’s a little awkward, for us,” Siobhan pointed out with a wry smile, as she finished adjusting the seat to the right height and distance, and began working on the mirrors. Walter winced, although he smiled a bit at her attentiveness to the basics of driving.

“Yeah, it is. It’s been an awkward couple of months,” Walter answered. He took a moment to adjust his own seat—his daughters were both significantly shorter than him, and his son was frequently relegated to the back—before he continued. “Siobhan, I need you to tell me that you’re not trying to find dangerous shit and throw yourself in to it.”

Siobhan was caught off-guard in the act of adjusting the rear-view mirror, and in her surprise jerked it so that she ended up looking at a reflection of the dashboard. Furrowing her brow she fixed it, and shot her father a look of surprise. “No! Of course I’m not. Jesus, do you think that?”

Walter sighed, leaning back against the seat. “No, I just needed to ask. I didn’t think you were, but I also trust you to be honest with me.” He looked back out at the road. “You’ve had a rough year since we moved to Border, kiddo—Annie has too, but I think you’ve had more of it in a lot of ways.”

Siobhan blushed, but waved her hand dramatically. “Oh you know me, I’m fine. What’s a fight in a high school and the world’s creepiest hospital to me, right?” She knew it was a cover, and she knew that he knew it was a cover—and more of that labyrinthine logic would give her a headache, so she just hoped he wouldn’t ask further.

“How often do you think about her?” Walter asked softly. “The woman you had to kill?”

Siobhan braced herself on the steering wheel as she was suddenly buffeted by images. Blue hair and a sudden look of pain and surprise. Blood spreading across the dark floor. Horrors and nightmares rolling across a dark room. Antigone stabbing a woman who looked like her mother.

Sweat broke out on her brow, and she focused on breathing evenly instead of drawing ragged gasps. She thought maybe her father hadn’t seen it, until he casually reached forward to turn on the air conditioning. “I wish I didn’t see her face. She was there, in the hospital, and I don’t know if it was her or not…” she realized that she was shaking, and pried her fingers off of the steering wheel to wrap her arms around herself. “God I wish I could stop seeing her face.”

Walter nodded, and kept the cold air running. “Bug, I can’t force you to go talk to someone—I could drag you there, but I can’t make you talk. But I think you should,” he said seriously. He started to say more, but Siobhan shook her head.

“I…I can’t. Annie and I talked about it. Not yet,” she amended quickly, seeing the look of displeasure growing on her father’s face. “We…I don’t know, it just doesn’t feel right. We have a time limit, and we’re going to see how we feel then.” With that she closed her eyes for a moment, breathing in evenly again and then wiping some of the sweat off of her forehead. “I know you’re worried, and thank you. I just can’t right now. I feel like we’re just going crisis to crisis, and I just need some time to work shit out.”

Walter nodded at that. “Siobhan, it’s been months since the hospital happened.”

Siobhan nodded as well, and leaned her forward on the steering wheel for a moment. “I know, Dad, I know. I just…I just need time.” She pulled her head up from the steering wheel at that, and wiped at her eyes. “I feel like if I break down, then Annie will too, and I have to keep it together for her. I have to be the strong one.”

Walter sighed, reaching out to put an arm around his daughter’s shoulders across the center console. “You don’t have to be anything but you, Bug, I promise. Antigone can go to the same person, and you don’t have to be strong for anyone.” She leaned in to him gently, and sniffed slightly. “Come on, baby, lets get you to…” He started, before shaking his head. “Fuck it, life’s short. You know the ice cream place downtown?” He offered with a grin, which was shortly matched by hers. He motioned to the parking lot, and beyond it the open road. “Mental health day, let’s do it.”

Siobhan gunned the engine and wiggled her eyebrows, and her father snorted. At that she put the car into gear, and began to pull out of the parking lot.

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