Pairing: Andy/Erin; Andy/Angela
Word Count: 1,201
Summary: The depths of Andy's Erin-pining drive him to Nicholas Sparks.
Author's Note: This was supposed to be like THREE SENTENCES for that books-that-characters-would-like meme, but, 'Nay!' this idea decreed. 'I want to be an actual fanfiction instead!' To which I said, 'Well, okay, fine, you silly idea.' Thank you, firthgal, for asking about Andy! Also, I wrote this in like fifteen minutes in a lj comment box, so it's possible it is not exactly my most polished work.
The whole business of being crazy in one-sided love with the lady Erin Hannon leaves the 'Nard Dog feeling a little down in the dumps, a little emotionally vulnerable. The kind of emotional vulnerability that only certain specific measures can take care of.
"Maybe," Andy says, mondo-casually, to Oscar in the breakroom on a random Tuesday, "you and your Finer Things compadres could give this little libro a try sometime. I dunno. Just a suggestion."
Oscar stares down at the book cover. "Nicholas Sparks. Really, Andy. Really." Andy's pretty sure he can't find even one single question mark in there. Man, Oscar's stoic.
"Yeah! You know, it sounds a lot like that Forrester--"
"--book you guys were doin' awhile back, when I tried--" (Emphasis on the 'tried.' Hey, a little try-trying again, complete with lots of hinting, never hurts. Except when it does. Which has happened once or twice.) "--to join your prestigious ranks -- that sort of had the same thing goin' on. Young people. Love. Societal disapproval. All that jazz."
"I don't know if The Notebook is exactly Finer Things Club material, Andy."
Crippling Despair, 25. Nard 'Dog, 0, sings out a little voice in his head. In three-part harmony. He really wishes it would quit keeping score. "Oh. Well. That's okay. Don't worry about it. No big. Oh, totally. I just thought, because it's a thing with pages, and that's what you guys deal in, I might--"
Oscar stares at him for a long time, his expression inscrutable. Then he sighs a little, and he says, lowering his voice, "Try A Walk To Remember. That's the only Sparks that's worth reading."
"Oh, hey! Like the Mandy Moore movie?"
"No. Not like the Mandy Moore movie. The Mandy Moore movie is a pale shadow of the emotional resonance. Or, um." Oscar stares down at his sandwich. "From what I remember. From reading it, that one time, years ago ..."
Andy figures that if you can't trust Oscar's literary expertise, you can't trust anyone's, so he hops on over to the ol' B&N on his way home from work and gets himself a copy. He reads it in like two hours, and at the end, he's crying -- uh -- breathing, uh, you know, something in his eye, no biggie -- so hard that his housekeeper comes in all, it's okay, it's okay, she knows CPR and the Heimlich.
A Walk To Remember is all about this unambitious rich kid who falls for this sweet, super-religious girl who doesn't care what anyone thinks about her. There's Christmas pageants and giving presents to orphans and cancer -- damn it, cancer! -- and once Andy's done with it, he's not thinking about Erin, for the first time in awhile. Like, there's no doubt that Erin would play an enchanting angel in a Christmas pageant, and orphans would totally love her, but still, it sends his brain-thoughts somewhere else.
He catches Angela on her way out of the building the next evening. She gets all stiff and formal when she realizes he's talking to her. That's mostly their thing these days: stiff and formal. Being around her doesn't make him want to throw up or just ... punch something ... really hard anymore, though. He likes to think that, somehow, his soul-sucking disaster of an engagement with Angela led him to Erin. He doesn't think about the specifics of this too hard, because he's not sure there's much direct linkage, but, well. It's a nice thought to have.
"Hello, Andy," Angela says rigidly.
"Hey there, Angie-...la. How are you?"
"Just fine, thank you." He's not sure whether she's telling the truth. (Big surprise, because her lying to him, wow, that's something new and original! And maybe there's a momentary flicker of man, it would be friggin' awesome to PUNCH SOMETHING right now. But, y'know. Just a flicker.) She seems quiet lately. From what he can tell, she and Dwight didn't patch things up. Of course, those two are excellent at gettin' it on while remaining on the downlowww, but he thinks maybe they'd both seem a little happier if this was the sitch.
"So, uh. Thought you might like to -- here." He hands her the book, and then he jogs across the parking lot before she can say anything back. Not because she scares the hell out of him, or anything. Just because -- exercise. Healthy living. Whoo! Feel the burn.
He doesn't know whether she watches him go or not.
The next morning, he's pouring some coffee into his Andy mug in the kitchen, and she comes inside. She's holding the book in one hand, and she's smiling. It's really easy for him to forget why he spent all that time with her and on her and not on her (you know, in the literal sense), on account of all the deceit and cruelty and world-ruining despair and everything. But this right here, her looking up at him all petite and soft and sweet, that little smile on her lips -- that's why. For awhile, he went through a phase where, man, he would do anything to get that smile.
"Thank you, Andy," she says -- still formal, but a little nicer. "This was lovely."
"Right??" he says, grinning at her.
"A little too much vomit," she hurries to add, forcing her mouth temporarily back into a disapproving line, and he feels a little flash of old fondness, because, aw, that's his lady fair.
Who wasn't ever actually his, or at least was only 50% his, if you want to get super-technical, but--
"But lovely," she continues, softening again. "No premarital sex. A very touching Christmas pageant. A young lady converting a wayward young man to the Word of God. There should be more stories like this."
"Totally," Andy agrees -- not so much because he believes it, but because it's just nice to see her this happy about something. (The three-part harmony voice in his head wants to know exactly why he's so keen to forgive her. He doesn't really have an answer.)
"I read some passages aloud to my cats," she continues with a watery smile. "Ash was especially moved."
"Did he do that thing where he curls up on your feet and purrs?"
"Yes!" she beams. "And--"
She's cut off by the door swinging open. Erin bounces in, a smile on her face. "Morning, Andy! Angela!" she sings. "Oh, gosh, A Walk To Remember! Isn't that book the sweetest? I cried buckets."
"It was very nice," Angela replies, going all tense again. Erin's smile falters just a little bit. There's a long, awkward silence. Andy's about to start whistling Halo (a tall order, but someone with his mad music man skills can get it done -- besides, he's been practicing at home) when Angela says, "Andy leant it to me."
"You did?" Erin's smile comes back in full radiant force as she turns to him. "Wow, Andy, you have great taste!"
Andy grins. "Yeah, well--"
Angela shoots him one last tiny glance, then slips out of the kitchen. She leaves the book on the counter before she goes.