They lay together, sated and spent, their sweat wicked away by the fine linen sheets. Quality bedding was one of the few luxuries he permitted himself. The rest of his alimony he spent mainly on parts for his evil creations.
He looked down at her and smiled. She had dozed off, her copper-bright hair fanned out over the arm that encircled her shoulders, her own arm around his chest. He wondered what she was dreaming of. He wondered if she ever dreamed of him, the way he dreamed of her sometimes.
They had met in the therapy group the court had ordered him to attend. He kept attending after the mandated term, not because he found it useful, but because of her. She was a kindred soul, even though the age difference was an abyss between them.
They had become friends over time, and had discovered they had more in common than they had thought when comparing notes. There was someone in their lives in common, someone who led a double life, behaving one way with him and a completely different one with her.
Still, that hadn't been what had brought them together. It had been her family's neglect, and his own loneliness.
When he gave her the cell phone charm in a little box tied with a bow, just before their therapy session began, she had burst into tears. Her sixteenth birthday had been the day before and he was the only one who had remembered. Even her so-called boyfriend had forgotten in the brouhaha surrounding the other events of the day.
He held her until she cried herself out. Their annoying git of a therapist had, of course, then used the situation to try and make everyone feel better about themselves, trying to convince them that it didn't matter if nobody else remembered a birthday as long as they were happy with themselves.
He'd wanted to kick the therapist out the window. Painful childhood experience had taught him that having others acknowledge you mattered tremendously, especially when those others were your family. Self-esteem does not spring fully formed as Athena did from Zeus' head, it needs to be nurtured early. He told her as much in a whisper while the therapist went to get some foam noodles for "venting their aggression".
After the therapy session was over he treated her to a non-dairy frozen dessert and they opened up to each other in a way neither could bring themselves to in the group. After an hour, they realized the common thread in their lives and agreed to combine forces. Perhaps what could not be done alone would be resolved as a team.
After the third failed plan they gave up. They realized some mysterious force kept interfering and nothing they ever tried would succeed. The fourth week they went to the park and just lay on a blanket on the grass, not saying anything, simply content in each other's company and growing more aware of each other by the minute.
The kiss had been completely spontaneous, a mutual impulse that drove them into each other's arms as they were getting up to leave and say their farewells for the week. Kneeling on the blanket, arms wrapped around each other, the warmth of mutual affection burst into a flame of desire that left him breathless. When they finally came up for air he could see in her cobalt eyes that she felt it, too.
He sent her home, feeling extremely disturbed. She was a year younger than his own daughter, yet he wanted her so badly it hurt.
That night was another sleepless one. The foghorns from ships attracted by the lighthouse had long ceased to be a problem, and his bed was as soft as ever, but he tossed and turned trying to forget the taste of her mouth and the sensation of her erect nipples against his chest. The following ones were full of dreams of her, dreams of pleasure and despair.
The next week they studiously avoided each other in therapy, neither wanting to give themselves away in front of everyone else, afraid that their efforts would betray them to the psychologist , afraid they would never see each other again.
Their therapist never noticed.
After the session was over he meant to simply leave, hoping the tension between them would eventually fade. She blocked him at the door, her eyes sad and questioning. He took her upraised hand and kissed it. Her eyes sparkled with the smile she managed to hide from the rest of the world. He was lost and he knew it; so did she.
They drove to his apartment building, never touching, never speaking, silent until the end of the elevator ride and the walk down the hallway. Once the door clicked behind them, they threw themselves at each other, tearing each others' clothes off between lewd kisses.
His insecurities were legion, but pleasing a woman in bed had never been a problem for him. The look of wonder on her face after they were both satisfied told him that, even though he was not her first, she had never felt anything like what he had given her.
After they had caught their breath her eyes grew wide and she became panicked about birth control. He admitted that after his marriage had failed he had had a vasectomy, and relief filled her eyes, along with a hint of sadness. He pulled her close to reassure her and soon they were coupling again.
It hurt him to let her go when she had to return home.
The next therapy session came and went as if nothing had happened. After it was over, she simply got in his car as if it were the most normal thing in the world.
He wasn't sure he could call what they had love, but it wasn't mere sex either. Passion, understanding, pleasure, they shared all of those. More than that they dared not consider, even though the weeks of summer were passing by far too quickly. She would be starting school again soon, and with it the therapy sessions would end. Perhaps they could switch to weekend sessions... but they could only be together every other weekend, when his daughter wasn't with him.
He brought it up and her cobalt eyes darkened. She wanted to keep seeing him, she told him, even if it could only be every other week. Being with him half as much was better than not at all.
They had time for one more round before she had to go back home, and they took advantage of every minute.
He hated to let her go. Perhaps one day, once she was eighteen and legally independent, she would accept to move in with him... but that would be a couple of years in the future. She might tire of him, or he of her. They had spoken of it before.
For now, Heinz Doofenshmirtz and Candace Flynn accepted that all they could do was be each other's emotional and physical therapy, one weekly session at a time.