They all piled out of the car in the same parking lot from all those years before. Not much seemed to change from then.
“Feels like we were just here…” Sylus muttered.
“A few days ago, but it was a whirlwind. Take it in, Sy. Enjoy the marvels of modern consumerism,” Jeron snorted as he checked the coolers in the back of his truck.
Saari pulled the hood of her robe up. It didn’t do much to obscure her horns, but it gave her a vague sense of comfort. Daniel took her hand.
“We can stay with Dad and Jeron if you want,” he whispered just loud enough for her to hear.
“I would like to do whatever you would like to do.”
“You might not like it…”
“Then I will know that.”
Daniel nodded. “Dad?”
Sylus was tucking his shirt in. “Yeah, Dan?”
“Yeah, Dan?” Jeron spoke at the same without a second thought.
Everyone froze for a moment as Jeron turned to Sylus. At first there was a look of what could only be described as sheer terror. Jeron knew he had to somehow walk it back, but he had no idea how.
“I-I mean…” he slammed the truck gate shut, “I…” he forced a laugh, “I have no idea where that came from.”
Daniel looked nervously between Jeron and his father. He honestly hadn’t noticed anything wrong until he replayed the words in his head a few times.
“Jeron?” he spoke up, “It’s okay. You’ve been calling me Dan for a while now. Don’t worry, okay?”
Jeron bit his lip as he turned back to Sylus who now appeared to be mildly amused. He was uncertain if this was a good thing or something he’d somehow pay for later. Not so much in Sylus turning on him, but in the form of another emotional breakdown. As much as Jeron loved him, it was getting exhausting. The last thing he wanted was to give Sylus a reason to fall apart again. At the same time, he was an adult and he’d walked on eggshells his entire life. Sylus had to understand when things weren’t intended to hurt him.
“Sy?” Jeron approached him slowly.
“Jeron,” Sylus’ voice was low but not exactly upset.
“I didn’t mean anything by that…”
“I know. It was just surprising,” he smiled, correcting his collar.
“You looked pissed…” Jeron hissed.
“Pissed? No? Just surprised. Pleasantly so, if I’m to be honest.”
“Yeah, Sy?” Jeron sighed.
“We’re probably really shit for each other.”
“I’m weak as fuck and read into everything everyone says to find something in it that’s targeted toward tearing me down. You question what you say because being called out for the smallest thing is all you’ve ever known,” Sylus chuckled, “You bite your lip and I interpret things wrong. That’s a bad pairing in the communication department.”
Jeron sighed, “You’re not wrong, but… We really need to work it out.”
“This whole ordeal has really brought out the worst in both of us, hasn’t it?”
Jeron sighed again without a word.
Daniel and Saari remained waiting patiently for things to calm down.
“There’s an ATM by the entrance to the grocery store,” Sylus said as they finally started making their way across the parking lot, “I’ll get some cash and you two can be on your way.”
“Everything’s okay, right?” Daniel replied.
“Everything is great,” Sylus grinned.
Daniel, still wary of the situation, nodded.
As they approached the grocery store entrance, Sylus pulled off from the group to get money out of the ATM. As he made his way over, he became distinctly aware of something missing. It wasn’t like he expected Cassidy to be there every day, and, if he was honest, he wasn’t even sure what day it is. He sighed a bit.
Once he had more than enough cash, he returned to his family.
“Here ya go,” he handed Daniel about $100 dollars.
“I hope that’s enough,” Sylus chuckled.
Daniel pretended to think about it before replying. “Yeah, I think it’ll be enough.
“You ready, Saari?” Daniel turned to her.
Saari was keeping her head bowed desperately trying to keep anyone from noticing her. Unfortunately, the ornate and alien nature of her robes drew the occasional glance. Still, no public outrage yet. She nodded stiffly to Daniel. He took her hand.
“I can get Dad quick if anything happens or you change your mind.”
Saari smiled a bit with a nod.
“We all set then?” Sylus put his hands on his hips.
Daniel and Saari nodded. Jeron laced his arm through Sylus’.
“Alright then. Text if you need anything,” Sylus waived as he and Jeron headed inside.
“Get sugary cereal please!” Daniel called after them.
Jeron raised a hand over this head in acknowledgment.
“Sugary… Cereal?” Saari enquired.
“Yeah! It’s good. You’ll like it!”
“I would at least be happy to try…”
“You need milk though… Oh! You don’t eat that kind of stuff… lemme text Dad real quick.”
They paused a moment on the sidewalk as Daniel texted his father about non-dairy milk. The reply was a thumbs-up emoji.
“Okay. He got it. Let’s go.”