Izabel (isisizabel) wrote,
Izabel
isisizabel

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Stricken - Chapter 1

Title: Stricken
Author: IsisIzabel
Fandom: Step Up 2: The Streets
Pairing(s): Chase & Andie
Rating: PG-13/R (for language and adult themes)
Summary: Post-Step Up 2: The Streets; Andie's father comes home and she is forced to confront her past when it collides with her present.



-Chapter 1-

Andie West knew something was wrong the moment she stepped inside the two-bedroom townhouse. It was too quiet inside for five o’clock on a Tuesday evening. The rain would have chased her adopted brother, Charlie, inside to play, but he was no where to be seen. There should be movement in the kitchen as Sarah prepared dinner, but a quick glance through the open downstairs proved Sarah wasn’t there.

 

Andie kicked off her shoes and ran a hand through her tangled, soaked hair. She had wrung it out as best as she could on the porch, but icy rivers still cut paths across the bronzed skin of her back.

 

The storm had kicked up out of nowhere, as was typical for August in Maryland. It could be sweltering and sunny in the day and then a massive storm front would sweep across the sky, dropping buckets of rain and making steam hiss from the asphalt.

 

Andie licked her lips slowly, barely tasting the remnants of her cherry-flavored chapstick. A lazy smile crossed her face as she remembered Chase’s enthusiastic kisses as he tasted the gloss shimmering on her lips. Tasted her.

 

“Sarah?” Andie finally ventured, stripping off her light jacket and shivering as the air conditioning tripped across her bare skin. Her eyes lifted upwards as she finally noticed movement upstairs. Sarah appeared at the landing, her expression unreadable.

 

Taking an involuntary step back, Andie eyed her guardian warily. “What is it? Is Charlie sick?” There was still no sign of the little guy.

 

Sarah cleared her throat as she reached the bottom and shook her head. “No. He’s spending the night at Will’s.”

 

Nodding slowly, Andie tried to smile. “Oh. OK. Cool.” Her eyes searched Sarah’s face for answers, but she found nothing.

 

Run.

 

She nearly started as the word whispered through her mind. It repeated itself again with growing urgency, pulsing like a beacon.

 

“Andie, why don’t we sit down?” Sarah suggested, already moving for the couch.

 

Andie stayed by the door, her hand reaching towards the knob blindly. “What’s going on, Sarah?”

 

Sarah finally sat and looked up at Andie through thick, dark lashed. “Honey—”

 

Fear sliced through Andie like a hot knife. She knew that tone. The last time… Her mind stumbled as it came across the memory that surfaced.

 

“Honey, your mother’s gone.”

 

Sarah had looked the same then as now. The same somber, intense look.

 

“Tell me.” Andie ground the words out through clenched teeth, effectively cutting off whatever maternal, soothing spin Sarah was about to put on what she had to say. Andie didn’t need comfort—she needed truth. She could deal with facts.

 

Sarah swallowed, her gaze level and unflinching. “Your father called.”

 

Andie’s fist closed around the doorknob. “My father?” she repeated dumbly, her mind conjuring up a faded image of the man she hadn’t seen in eight years.

 

Sarah’s gaze flickered to Andie’s hand on the door. “Andie, come sit down.”

 

Slowly releasing the knob, Andie felt her feet propel her towards the sofa. She sat gingerly beside Sarah, fixing her guardian with a muted, cautious look. “What does he want?”

 

“To see you,” Sarah answered plainly, trying to gauge Andie’s reaction.

 

Anger flared through Andie suddenly, burning in her chest. “What does he want now? Mom’s been gone for over a year, and he didn’t want anything to do with me then. I haven’t heard from him since Mom and I left him when I was eight!”

 

Sarah placed a calm hand on Andie’s forearm. “I know, Andie.”

 

Andie jumped to her feet, eyes flashing. “I don’t want to see him,” she snapped impatiently. “Did you tell him that?”

 

Sarah hesitated, unsure. “No—”

 

“Next time he calls, tell him,” Andie interrupted. “Better yet, give me the phone and I’ll tell him.” Snorting, Andie turned away and started for the stairs, anxious for the solitude of her room.

 

“It’s not that simple, honey.”

 

That word—honey—stopped her cold. It did every time. Andie paused, her hand on the banister. She twisted and looked down at Sarah, who looked decidedly ill.

 

Sarah twisted her hands in her lap, avoiding Andie’s gaze. “Andie, he’s petitioned the courts for custody of you.”

 

Andie’s jaw went slack. Her mouth moved, but no sound came out. Fear closed around her, its icy tendrils squeezing her heart, suffocating her. She couldn’t form a sentence, couldn’t breathe. The room spun—tilted at an odd angle—and slowly righted itself. The clock on the mantle ticked out the seconds as they slipped away from her.

 

“He can’t do that…” Her mouth tasted like ash as she choked the words out.

 

Sarah surged to her feet, crossing the small living room to grab Andie’s hand. “I don’t know, Andie, but I have guardianship of you. And like you said, he didn’t come back for you when your mother died—the courts will see that.”

 

“And if they don’t?” Andie hated the tremor in her voice, hated the weakness.

 

Sarah’s hand tightened reflexively. “They will.”

 

She wanted to believe her. Wanted to follow Sarah back to the couch and curl up against her the way she had her mother as a little girl. If only her mother was still alive…

 

Andie squared her shoulders and pulled away from Sarah. She wasn’t a child anymore, and there was no changing the past. It was better not to dwell on it.

 

“Of course they will,” Andie agreed robotically, choking back her emotions. She watched as a shadow passed over Sarah’s face.

 

Sarah reached for her again, but Andie easily stepped away. She forced her lips to curve into a smile. “You’re right, Sarah. It’ll be fine.”

 

But the words rang hollow to them both.

 

Andie eased up two steps, her back ramrod straight. “I think I’m going to go to bed.” She raked a hand through her drying hair, her fingers snagging on a knot.

 

Sarah’s gaze flickered nervously from Andie to the second floor. “Andie—”

 

“I’m OK, Sarah. Really.” Another step up. Another step away.

 

“What about dinner?”

 

“I ate with Chase.” The lie came easily, naturally. “I’m just…tired. It was a long practice.”

 

Sarah wasn’t convinced, but wasn’t going to press the issue either. With a small shrug she took a step back, relenting. “OK, Andie.”

 

With another strained smile, Andie spun and took the stairs two at a time. She reached her bedroom and slipped inside, closing the door and leaning heavily against it. Her heart pounded out an irregular cadence in her chest.

 

The room was suddenly too small, closing in around her. Andie’s fingers fumbled for the lock and she staggered to her bed, falling face down on the worn comforter. She wanted to scream. To cry. To rant and rave at the unfairness of the entire situation.

 

She paused for a moment and looked back at the door. She considered going back downstairs, considered telling Sarah the truth that Andie and her mother had carefully hidden. Sarah would tell the courts, tell them exactly what kind of man Howard West was.

 

Andie dismissed the urge almost immediately. No. Telling Sarah would mean others would find out, and it was better if no one knew. Humiliation burned in her chest, radiating up to her cheeks as they flushed crimson.

 

He had no right. He had no right to come back in her life now. Not when she had worked so hard to push away every memory he had burned into her mind.

 

She was finally making a good life for herself, the kind of life her mother would have been proud of. She had found her place at MSA, had wonderful friends, and then there was Chase…

 

Chase.

 

Andie lurched to her feet uncertainly. She was going to be sick.

 

She made it to the bathroom in seconds, dropping to the floor and emptying the meager contents of her stomach into the porcelain bowl. After flushing, her rinsed her mouth out and dared to look up at the image in the mirror.

 

It was clear in her eyes. Not fear, not worry. It was something darker, more sinister.

 

Terror.

 

--

 

Andie made certain she stayed in bed long enough for Sarah to check on her. Her back to the door, she controlled her breathing long enough to convince Sarah she was sleeping. She waiting an extra thirty minutes to be sure Sarah was truly in her own bed across the hall before getting up.

 

She didn’t need much. She had thrown a few articles of clothing, a brush, and some necessary toiletries into an old gym bag earlier, stashing it in her closet.

 

With practiced secrecy, she eased out of her room and down the stairs, carefully avoiding the last step. The house was old and that step in particular had a habit of groaning under the most minimal of added weight. It had given her away on more than one occasion.

 

She stepped outside and closed the door behind her, taking the time to lock it behind her.

 

Humidity saturated the air, making it hard to breathe as she pulled the black hood of her sweatshirt over her head and started off down the walk. Heat lightening flashed in the distance, and she cut down and alley.

 

It was safer to stay in the shadows and remain undetected.  The streets of Baltimore weren’t safe during the daylight, and there was a reason for the city mandated curfew at midnight. She didn’t need any kind of trouble—from the cops or otherwise.

 

Her feet carried her quickly to her destination. It would take her the better part of thirty minutes to get there if she had to stay off the main roads, and the buses weren’t running at this hour. Her gym bag slapped against her hip in time with her brisk walk.

 

Her mind turned over the events of the last few hours, and she was more certain now than ever of where she was going.

 

Cutting across the last alley, she came up to the street, noticing the five men that lingered on the adjacent corner. Their conversation died as they saw her, their cigarettes glowing red dots in the darkness.

 

She hurried up the sidewalk to the fourth house on the left, keeping her head down as she went up the stairs and knocked quickly.

 

“Come on, come on,” she chanted softly under her breath. She dared a look back at the men across the street, relieved they were still in the same place and seemed to have gone back to their conversation.

 

She knocked again, louder.

 

There was movement now, and a light came on behind the door as a shadow passed the peephole. The locks clicked as someone started opening the door.

 

His dark eyes were confused and tired as he stared down at her dumbly. “What are you doing here?”

 

Andie felt her chin tremble, and she swallowed down the swell emotions, nearly gasping. “I need your help,” she whispered, not trusting herself to speak louder.

 

He watched her, his gaze more awake and his stare intense. After a long moment he nodded and moved back from the door, granting her access. “OK. Come on.”

 

Andie stepped into the door and flashed him a grateful smile, feeling safe for the first time in hours. “Thanks, Tuck.”


Tags: fic: chandie, fic: step up 2
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