Sydney was in the kitchen, her iPod dock in its new home and its music filling the room. She had taken things easy at Nathan's insistence over the last couple of weeks, but once the nightmares faded and her head no longer ached, she wanted things to get back to…well, there wasn't any "normal" yet and she wanted to remedy that. She insisted on cooking dinner and wanted Arlen to join them. She asked Nathan and Susan what they wanted, and after some playful arguing, a consensus was reached. She was seasoning chicken in the skillet, singing and dancing as she tended to do when tackling household chores. Nathan had walked in on that fact a few months ago…
"Baby, I can't believe everything your body makes me wanna do…" Nathan stood in the doorway to the kitchen, a broad smile on his face. She'd skipped right over her awful dancing and was making the room feel warmer than it already was. "…and the way that you move on the floor, now I think I'm in love with you." Her hips circled and she added lime juice to the skillet. "Grab my waist, wanna get with the rhythm and that move you do." She caught Nathan out of the corner of her eye and made her voice breathy, teasing him. "Switch my hips on the floor, baby slow, to keep up with you…" Nathan moved in behind her, placing his hands on her hips and pressing himself against her, matching her rhythm.
Sydney put the wooden spoon on the counter and reached her arms up and behind her, caressing Nathan's neck as the music played and they continued their impromptu dance.
"Back it up, now, bump your rump, now…grab my waist, now, work it out, now…grab my shoulder, pick it up, now, take it lower, to the floor, now…"
Nathan's lips found Sydney's neck and he began to nip and lick at her. She didn't mean to, but a soft moan escaped her and it caused Nathan's hand to start to wander below her waist. The music continued, the beat encouraging.
"Get up, baby, we can drop a little somethin'…ride it, baby, we can do a little somethin'…take out, baby, wanna get a little somethin'…you know, baby, let's hook up a little somethin'…"
"Sydney, Arlen's…are you guys freaking kidding me?" Susan walked into the kitchen, expecting to see them cooking, not… "This is foreplay, isn't it? Even the food isn't safe!" The couple blushed, but didn't exactly back away from one another. Given the circumstances, it wouldn't have boded well for Nathan. "I get it, and I know you're happy and everything and I've been really lenient and forgiving over the past couple weeks, but…" She put her hand to her forehead. "…the chicken! It doesn't need to be exposed to this sort of thing!"
Sydney grabbed he remote and turned the music down. "Sorry," she said, trying not to laugh.
"And Syd, I thought you had better taste than Britney Spears circa…what, ten years ago?"
She laughed fully now. "Hey, everyone has their guilty pleasures, Susan. I've heard you humming some N'Sync while…"
"That's my childhood!" she laughed, defending herself. "Could you guys at least try to keep it upstairs?"
Finally able to step out from behind Sydney, Nathan winked at his daughter. "No promises, Susie Q."
She rolled her eyes. "Most people would be thrilled to know that their father actually has rhythm…anyway, Arlen's here."
"Yes I am!" Arlen said brightly, also making his way into the kitchen. "And did I heard correctly? Have you two corrupted dinner?"
"They would have if I didn't interrupt them," Susan said, leaning against the counter. "I think the chicken is safe for now, but I don't know that we can leave them alone."
"Well then, sweetie, I think we need to bunker down at the table here, hm?"
"We're being chaperoned?" Nathan asked, an eyebrow raised over the rim of his glasses.
Susan smiled widely. "Well, if you can't behave yourselves like adults…"
"Last time I checked, this was adult behavior," Nathan argued, trying so hard to keep a straight face. "I pay the mortgage, if I wanna get frisky in the kitchen, I will."
"Oh, honey, your house is fun," Arlen said, nudging Susan's arm.
Nathan spun Sydney around and took her fully into his arms. He kissed her deeply, but not inappropriately. He broke away from her after a moment of reluctance and he turned to face his daughter. She didn't let him speak.
"Okay, I get it…just please don't let me find either of you naked…ever."
"I think that's fair," Sydney said, letting her head rest on Nathan's shoulder.
"Aw," Arlen cooed. He looked over at Susan. "They're going to be honeymooning for a while, you know."
"Well, at least it's better than yelling and screaming."
Arlen thought for a moment, his eyes moving between Nathan and Sydney, who had gone back to cooking, and Susan. "You know," he said slowly. "If you would ever want to get away from the bunnies here for a night or two, I could help you out."
Susan's interest was piqued. "How so?"
"I'm working on a little youth project at Just Be and…well, you do have an interest in music and drama and the like."
Arlen smiled. "And, I think we could work something out where you get a reprieve from that and make a little money for yourself." He caught Nathan's eye and winked.
"I don't know if you're trying to help me or them," she laughed.
"Oh, you honey! Those two can fend for themselves and find a parking lot somewhere if they can't contain themselves."
"Done it already," Nathan said through a fake cough.
"Ew! Arlen, you and me, outside!" They left the kitchen laughing and the couple resumed their frisky dinner preparations. Once poolside in the back yard, Susan sat on the concrete and put her feet in the water. Arlen took off his shoes and socks, joining her.
"It's our job to give them a hard time," he said thoughtfully. "Let's them know that we care."
Susan looked over at Arlen and smiled. "I can't let them know that I'm cool with it," she confessed. "They're…" She rolled her eyes, knowing she was going to hate ho she sounded. "…really good together."
"Can I ask you something, Susan?"
"How bad were things with him?"
Susan thought for a moment, understanding why he asked. "He was never horrible to me. I mean, yeah, we fought. We both had our share of attitude and I reached a breaking point. He put a hand on me once, grabbing, not hitting…he was drunk and he thought Charlie was…" She shook her head. "Charlie punched him and things…" She sighed. "They got worse before they got better." Her eyes watered just a little. "He's gotten so much better. I know it's cheesy and everything, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that most of it's because of Sydney. I know he wanted to change for me, but he'd tried and failed so many times. I've had my father back since just after New Year's…" She wiped at her eyes, fully realizing just what having him meant to her.
"Oh, sweetie." Arlen gently rubbed her back. "He's helped her too, you know. She was convinced of so many awful things and her heart's always been a bit too big for her own good…" He stopped, swallowing hard. "Have either of them every mentioned David to you?"
Susan looked away from Arlen before answering. "Yeah."
"Oh. Well, I can tell what you think about him then."
"No, no…I mean, it's not all that different from dad being an alcoholic…"
Arlen shook his head. "It's a world of difference. Anyway, I only ask because he's going through some therapy where he is and is trying to make amends and all that sort of thing…and he wants to see your father. Do you…do you think he'd go?"
Susan was silent. She had overheard Nathan and Sydney talking about things shortly after they happened. The things David had said about both of them, then how he tried to hit on Sydney. She really didn't have an answer for him. Luckily, she didn't need one.
Nathan had come outside to tell them that dinner was ready and his voice startled them. "Yeah, I'll hear him out."