The door bell rang.
"I'll go get it" TJ said, though his mother followed him anyways.
Sydney looked over in the couch. He and TJ's father were watching a strange melodrama from up north. In all honesty his mind dozed off, occasionally focusing on a pretty actor and other times falling asleep, but he wasn't terribly bored. This, however, would keep him consistently entertained.
"Jenna!" TJ said, hugging her.
"Hi TJ!" she said warmly, "And good day to you Mrs. Hess."
"You're always welcome here Jas- Jenna!" she said, embarassed at her slip.
"You're much too kind Mrs. Hess" Jenna replied.
"Nonsense. Make yourself at home!"
Jenna did just that walking over to the couch. Sydney stared at her, but she only acknowledged him after sitting down and inspecting her bag.
"Hey" he asked flatly.
"Hey too" she retorted, barely looking at him.
She dove into her bag, and retrived several volumes of Two Pieces.
"Here's the pirate manga I promised" she said, looking at Sydney.
"Cool" he said, inspecting the volumes, "You know, manga and animes are not really my thing, but this at least I can tell will be fun to read."
"More into western comics and cartoons I presume?" Jenna asked dryly.
"Well yeah, but its mostly the weird expressions and manneirisms that turn me off from Japanese stuff. Yeah, I know I'm an uncultured hick, no need to instill the virtues of anime in me or whatever."
"Not at all" Jenna said, semi-dishonestly, "I'm just surprised that things like that matter to you, since you seem to only care about things if they have wrestlers or pirates in it."
"Well, I'll let you know that anything with martial arts, ninjas and guns also captivates my interest" Sydney mock pouted, "But yeah, I am a very shallow bitch."
"Language" TJ's father said, calmly but with a slight hint of a scolding tone.
"Sorry future dad-in-law, I am a very shallow B word."
"Close enough" TJ's father sighed.
"So you literally enjoy anything that deals with those topics, no matter the genre or medium?" Jenna asked, a hint of amusement in her otherwise dry voice.
"Sis, I have limits too" Sydney said, "No amount of explosions and ass shots saved the robot movies. They're all garbage in my eyes."
"Just making sure" Jenna said, "So hypothetically I can bring any cheap action movie as long as it isn't too bad?"
"Yup, though I think our definitions of "bad" and "good" are probably very different" Sydney concluded.
"Luckily I picked some good movies that everyone here likes" TJ said proudly, showing a sci-fi movie cover with blank evil angels in it.
"Actually I talked to your parents and I think its a good idea to tutor you on your studies first, then we can go watch the movies" Jenna said.
"But my grades are good!" TJ said, "I got straight A's on almost all subjects!"
"Except math" Jenna said, "And just barely on biology. I know its boring but we have to work on those."
Jenna took out a notebook from her pack as well as several textbooks and motioned him to sit. As he sat down and Jenna faced him and turned her back on Sydney, TJ realised that she basically did the "grown ups are talking" with Sydney, distracting him with manga so she and TJ could hang out. This made TJ quite angry, but he dared not show it.
"If we're going to study then Syd should come join us as well" TJ said coldly, "His grades are worse than mine."
"Rude" Sydney said, "I'll have you know that my career path demands a curriculum that the school system can't provide me with."
"Oh really, what classes does it have?" Jenna asked, half-amused and half irritated that her plan had failed.
"Watching Pirates of Ixalan classes, Pirates of the Black Water theses, discussions on Gay Muskshits from Outer Space-"
"Language" TJ's father interjected.
"Sorry, but its the name of the movie. Anyways, dissertations on Cherryloom and of course essays on Trinity Weasel!"
"Those all sound like excellent classes" TJ said, rising from the couch and sitting next to Sydney and kissing him on the lips, "I think I preffer this curriculum."
"TJ..." Jenna whined.
"No Jenna, this was for the three of us to hang out and have fun" TJ said sternly, "Plus our 'study sessions' are mostly talking about anime."
"Color me shocked" Sydney said, still reading the manga.
"Still, you will study today right?" TJ's dad asked, patting his son's shoulder and head affectionately.
"Of course dad, but not by singling out people."
"Guess your evil plan went down the drain Jenna" Sydney said, "You definitely need to study on that front with the pros like me."
Jenna groaned, then scooted over to Sydney.
"Enjoying the manga?" she asked.
"Its pretty horrible. And I love it."
Of the "classes", the group decided to go with Trinity Weasel: The Devil Inside. It was TJ's favourite superhero flick; Jenna didn't think it was as "deep" as TJ thought it was and Sydney flat out only cared for the lead's ass, but seeing him so happy was something that made them both smile and try to go along with the strange, convoluted plot. Sydney cozied up with TJ, both of them sharing a blanket, while Jenna rested her head on TJ's shoulder. TJ felt extremely happy and comfortable, but eventually he had to go to the bathroom.
"Excuse me, I'll be right back" he said, pausing the movie and gently lifting the blanket and getting out of the couch.
As he left, there was an awkward silence, before Sydney sighed.
"So, how are things at home?" he asked non-chalantly.
"Don't feel like talking about it" Jenna said irritatedly.
"Sorry, its just that I can relate to that, you know" Sydney responded.
"I know you do" Jenna stoically.
Another awkward silence.
"Yet you still put me at arm's length, when we're basically on the same boat" Sydney said spitefully.
"My upbringing didn't lead me to bully TJ for years" Jenna said venomously, "So if you're trying to get sympathy from me then you're wasting your time."
Sydney sank into the couch, turning away from her.
"So you think nothing's changed, then" he said, trying to suppress a sob.
"Of course I think things changed" she said, "He's happy to be with you now. I just don't think you can try to force out a connection over something that I frankly don't want to talk about."
"What don't you want to talk about?" TJ said as he scooted over and returned to his sit, though both Jenna and Sydney could tell he suspected what it was.
"Nothing important TJ" Jenna said, "Now lets get back to the movie."
TJ, however, couldn't help but notice how depressed Sydney looked. As he went under the blanket he kissed Sydney's cheek, prompting the otter to stare at him with still somewhat moist eyes.
"Can you tell me what it was?" TJ asked concernedly.
"I think Jenna could strangle me if I did" Sydney chuckled, kissing TJ on the forehead.
Jenna sighed again.
"It was about our abusive households" she said, turning her head away.
"Oh" TJ said, looking down in embarassment.
"Toby, you don't need to be upset" Sydney said, kissing TJ on the cheek, "Its not your fault my parents and Jenna's parents are assholes."
"Language" TJ's father said, spreading butter on a toast.
"Still, I feel guilty about it" TJ said, "As well as angry. Parents should love their kids, and instead they hurt you both!"
"Well, don't" Jenna said, "Just be thankful yours are good, nurturing people and that they made you into the good, nurturing person you are."
"If things are that bad you both are welcome to stay with us for as long as you like" TJ's father said, taking a seat in a nearby chair.
"Thank you for the offer Mr. Hess, but I'm afraid that'll only make things worse" Jenna said, "I plan to move to Payton with a friend soon enough."
"I'll take your offer" Sydney said, "Though I still feel bad for my mother. She was as awful as my father, but nowadays it seems like she has no one else besides my aunt. Which does scare me if she does decide to move in with us."
"Afraid you won't have leverage over her?" Jenna asked.
"Yup" Sydney nodded, "The moment I'm not the only family she has around she'll probably try to send me to a pray the gay away camp or some bull- something like that."
"We won't let her do that to you" TJ's father said, "You're part of our family now and even if you weren't we'd never let a child go through that barbarism on our watch."
"I don't know what to say" Sydney said, wiping a tear, "I mean if you do think of me as part of the family then what I have with your son with be incest."
Both TJ and his father rolled their eyes, and even Jenna was prompted to chuckle. TJ's father went over to the couch and sat between his son and Sydney and pulled them to his sides, hugging them both.
"You're crushing my chest, future dad in law" Sydney said with an exagerated raspy tone on his voice.
"Come over Jenna" TJ said, extending an arm.
"No thank y-" Jenna said, before TJ's mother rushed in and hugged her.
In the end, very little studying was accomplished, but Jenna got TJ and Sydney to do a few math exercises. It was almost night time when she decided to leave, and she was decidely nervous when she walked towards the door.
"Do you want us to walk you home?" TJ offered.
"Nah, that'd definitely make things worse" Jenna said, "You know how my father is."
"You know you can count on me to kick his ass, right?" the otter said.
"It'd be cathartic to see, but I got this" Jenna said.
As she walked out, she turned to look at Sydney one last time.
"I'm sorry about how I reacted earlier" Jenna said, "I still don't want to talk about this, but we are on the same boat."
"And as such we can always rock it" Sydney said, making guitar motions.
"...I don't get what you're saying" Jenna said.
"You know, rock the boat, kick our asshole-"
"Language" TJ's father interjected.
"-parents out, nevermind" Sydney said, feeling stupid.
"TJ, I'm sorry but I can't see the appeal of this" Jenna said.
"Hey!" Sydney said.
"He makes me smile, that's all I need" TJ said, kissing Sydney.
Jenna "awwed", and hugged them both. The two hugged her back, but eventually they had to let her go, and let her return home on her own.