"Honey, I'm home!" a voice suddenly sang from the hall as a door slammed shut, rattling Arnold out of his thoughts. It jarred him only a moment, before he regained his countenance and straightened his newspaper a bit in his hands, before continuing to read.
He felt the presence in the room then, the smug, sinister aura that seemed to follow the character everywhere. He heard the deliberately noisy footsteps as they entered, the shifting of clothing. Still, he ignored it, his eyes glued to the sports section of his newspaper.
"Hey, the newspaper's here, I see…" the voice hinted in an overly peppy voice, and the screech of chair limbs being dragged across the floor screamed in Arnold's ears. He heard the body fall carelessly into the chair next to him, and felt the lengthy arm that was suddenly thrown across his shoulders. Still, he tried to ignore. "The funnies in there? You know how I love reading the funnies."
Arnold grunted. "You hate the funnies."
The laugh hit his ear almost as quick as the response did. "Well, yeah, they suck! But that's why I love them. Everyone loves being a critic, and those idiots down at the Hillwood Times give jackasses like me a perfect excuse to be one. It's like a freebee, you're not even hurting anyone's feelings."
Arnold's head jerked up to stare sternly into big, smug blue eyes. "Don't say words like that."
The sparkling blue eyes held his effortlessly. "Like what? Hillwood Times? Mmm, you're right, if I say it too much they might randomly appear right here on the table top. Like Beetlejuice." The pale face next to his smirked at him, thin lips curling up into a malign grin.
Arnold just held his stern gaze, tilting his head down slightly to further emphasize the grave nature of his stare.
The grinning, mischievous face held his for several more moments, before finally breaking into a good-natured eye roll. "Okay, fine, sorry. I shouldn't have assumed you'd let it go. I mean, it's not like I just told you I've found an outlet for my jerky nature that doesn't make little children cry or anything."
Arnold opened his mouth to reply before he stopped a moment, considering. Then he closed his mouth, seeming to clear his head, and trained his eyes back onto the newspaper.
A few seconds passed. Then, "Hmmm… Ignoring me again, Pops?"
Arnold sighed lightly, before responding plainly, "No, I am not ignoring you."
The near thunderous snort made Arnold literally jump a little in his chair. "Oh, come on, don't give me that crap. Admit it, Arnold. I annoy you." The voice didn't say these words with any sort of bitterness or anger. In fact, the words were uttered with not only a sense of humor, but with a slight giddy undertone. There was a whimsical enjoyment to the statement.
Arnold's mouth formed a straight line, before he just folded up his newspaper neatly and placed it down on the table so he could rub the bridge of his nose tiredly, pushing his reading glasses up as he did so. "Well, Zack, to be totally honest, yes. You do sometimes."
A high-pitched, pleased chuckle exploded out of his teenage son's mouth, before the arm that was loosely hanging around his shoulders tightened and pulled him closer. "Awww, but you know you love me, Daddy."
Arnold turned his head to gaze at his son, startlingly blue half-lidded eyes meeting his own green ones, with bright sunshiny hair that fell messily over his forehead. The dark, black monobrow that would seem like it would be out of place actually served as more of a masculine, charming feature, and the smug, relaxed expression spread so perfectly across his face that it seemed like it was made to smirk like that. Arnold's expression softened. "Yeah, of course I do, Zack." He shrugged out of the hug and stood up then, picking up his coffee mug in the process. "But right now, however, I'm not talking to you." He walked across the kitchen and sat his cup in the sink, turning on the water.
Zack turned around in his chair to blink at his father, his eyebrow raising on his forehead. "Well, why not? What did I do?"
Arnold kept his back to him, picking up the sponge to clean out his cup with too much focus for such a simplistic task. "You should know what you did."
Zack frowned. "Now come on, Dad, we're not an old married couple here. Just tell me."
Arnold put the cup down and braced his hands on either side of the sink, his shoulders hunching over a bit. He kept his head low a few more seconds before he turned around and crossed his arms, looking less than pleased. "Zachary…"
Arnold continued, "Yesterday evening I told you you were not to go out today. Your mom and I needed your help moving in the new couch. Since you left this morning we had to ask poor Grandpa to help out. The man is ninety-four years old, he shouldn't be carrying heavy things around like that!"
Zack scoffed. "Oh, please, Grandpa Phil's like an ox. Besides, if you really didn't want him helping, why didn't you just ask Josh? He's got muscles like you've got back hair."
Arnold stiffened, his eyebrows furrowing down angrily. "We told you last night! He has baseball practice today and he couldn't help. That's why we asked you in the first place! Don't you ever listen, young man?"
Zack looked up suddenly from his fingernails, blinking a few times in surprise. "I'm sorry, were you talking? Your voice is so soothing, it makes me zone out."
Before Arnold could start one of his usual long-winded lectures or randomly begin assigning punishments, small Amanda Faith wandered into the room, unknowing of the tense atmosphere as her big green eyes were focused on a paper held in front of her. "Hey, Daddy, what do you think of this poem? 'Just leave me be and we'll be fine, 'cause to my ears you're asinine. Your voice's like cats screeching in the night, your face so bad it gives Chuck Norris a fright.' Do you think it's too much?" She looked up then, noticing Zack's startled demeanor and her father's tense shoulders and tight-lipped expression. She blinked a couple times. "Um, is everything okay?"
Zack's face suddenly sprouted an eerily pleasant and sweet expression. He stood from his chair with a flourish and shook his head, bouncing on the heels of his feet. "Why, yes, completely innocent, virgin-eared little sister now in the room. Everything is dandy." He walked over to pick up the little seven-year-old girl and hoisted her into the air, before setting her now grinning little self back on the floor and patting her pigtailed head with a smile. "I mean, it's not like Daddy was about to yell horribly inappropriate obscenities at me or anything, because that would be mean." He crouched down to poke her in the stomach, making her giggle uncontrollably.
Arnold's hard face melted at the sound, and he sighed, his arms dropping to his sides in defeat.
Zack grinned horribly at his father, taking this as his cue to leave. "Now, what's this about a poem, 'manda Faith? You know, I'm not too bad at poetry. I can make rhymy words. How about I take a look at it with you? In the other room, way upstairs, with the door locked and curtains closed?" He didn't wait for a response as he pushed her happy form out of the room, following after her hastily.
Arnold watched them leave before walking over to fall gracelessly back into his chair, closing his eyes at the absurdity of his situation. He muttered quietly to himself, "Pataki blood… That's some potent stuff."
A/N: *Waves excitedly* Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! Heeeey! ;) I wrote this in just a few hours. xD Does it show? Lol, I don't know, I wanted to introduce Zack to this series already. ;P 'Cause he's sexy and he freaking knows it. XD There are four kiddlies in total, but I had a sorta introduction to Amanda in the first chapter, so I thought I'd kinda run with that and show them off one by one. ;P Next up will be, ehhh… I don't know, we'll see. xD It's never a good idea for me to say I have plans for anything, because… I never plan. I'm more of the 'making it up as I go' type. *Scratches stubble* Probably a bit of a design flaw there… I'll have to file a complaint to my designer. *Checks foot* Yup, made in China. Just like everything else in America. Guess I'd better go get started on that digging now if I'm ever gonna get it done. *Doesn't move*
So yeah… That's about it.
Or, well, you know… If the urge strikes ya. *Sips coffee*
Oh, and next post'll be "Hypnotizing Helga." Be up by sometime next week. *Guzzles coffee at the idea of finishing* 0_e"