This takes place a week or so after the final issue of Young Justice (1998)
Greta had left the upstairs mostly untouched, minus a few picture frames knocked from the walls.
The downstairs was another story. Even days after Greta's rampage, Anita and Ishido were still picking up glass and fruitlessly scrubbing at the ketchup stains on the walls. Cissie and the others had pitched in to clean up and carry out most of the wreckage, but it was the small stuff taking the most time. It gave Anita plenty of time to think. Too much time.
There were two babies napping upstairs.
Between Don and Oshi and Empress, Anita was being pulled in all different directions lately. Something had to give, and Anita knew in her heart which one would have to go. Being a superhero was dangerous. They got hurt. Slobo died. She couldn't afford that kind of risk anymore, not with the babies depending on her. She needed to leave one of the best things to ever happen to her to take responsibility. She'd never be a hero again.
The unfairness of it all made her want to scream.
Anita bit it back, roughly shoving more plastic and glass into the dust pan.
"Your pal sure did a number on this place. I say we scrap the cleanup and just renovate the downstairs entirely." Ishido said, eyeing the words staining the walls. "It'll take some work, but I've still got some vacation time saved up."
"I'll actually be able to help." Anita said. "I'll be around more, once I tell the guys I'm quitting."
Ishido jerked toward her, nearly dropping his scrub brush.
"What do you mean, quitting?"
"I'm quitting Young Justice." Anita didn't look at him as she spoke. There was something hot and burning in her throat. "Don and Oshi need a lot of attention. I can't give them what they need if I'm off gallivanting through space. I also can't afford to get hurt. Who's going to take care of them if I'm injured?"
"But you love being a superhero." She did, more than anything. From the moment she'd seen Cissie in that mall, Anita had known fighting crime was her calling. But she had responsibilities now. She'd been given a second chance with both her parents, and she wasn't going to squander it. If that meant leaving the team, letting her friends forget about her… then so be it.
"It doesn't matter. I can't be Empress and a mom at the same time. Something has to give."
"Anita—" he started, but she interrupted, the stream of words bursting out of her like a dam finally breaking.
"I just don't have time anymore Uncle Ish! I have to feed them every few hours, and change their diapers. I'll probably need to get a job. I know they should be on a schedule but they're not and I'm trying but I'm just so tired—!" Anita choked on the last word, throat convulsing as she tried not to sob. Her face felt wet and her eyes were blurry; sometime during her rant she'd started crying.
"Anita." Calm and firm. Familiar hands grasped her arms, pulling her forward and into a hug.
He was too short for her to bury her face in his shoulder. A fresh wave of tears flooded her eyes, even as she leaned into the hug. At least this was the same. She still wished her father was here instead, grown and safe and able to take care of things.
Ishido held her for several minutes as she worked through the tears. She leaned back when he loosened his grip, wiping at her puffy eyes and breathing wetly. He gave her time to compose herself, then spoke softly.
"I'll admit kiddo. I really dropped the ball when this first happened. I was grieving, and angry, and let myself get distracted by other things." Anita wondered if Bonnie would like being referred to as 'other things'. Probably not.
"But that's no excuse." Ish said, fists clenching. "I'm the adult. It's my job to take responsibility, not yours."
"What are you saying?"
He looked her sternly in the eye.
"You are not quitting superheroing." He said firmly.
"Uncle Ish, I don't really have a choice."
"Yes, you do. You are going to stay with your friends, and you're going to keep doing what you love."
"Who's going to take care of Don and Oshi if I don't?"
"I will." Ishido said. He scowled when she looked at him incredulously.
"I will." He repeated.
"No offense Uncle Ish, but you aren't really the parental type." Anita said. There was a reason Don and Anita were the man's only family at forty years of age. Ishido Maad didn't do long term commitment, and didn't have much patience for children outside of Anita.
"I can pick up a parenting book at the library. I'm a high ranking government agent, I think I can handle raising two kids."
Anita thought of the months since she'd found her parents. There were at least thirty tabs on childcare open on her computer, and that wasn't counting all the others covering bills and the plethora of random searches she'd made since Don and Oshi came into her care. Her allowance for clothes had turned into the kids'. She rarely got more than four hours of sleep a night. Beyond having her parents back, the only upside she'd found in the whole situation was not having enough time to think about Slobo.
"It's not as easy as it looks." She mumbled.
"I can handle it." Ish said. He nudged her shoulder, giving her a semblance of a smile. "Besides, you can show me the ropes. Make sure I'm doing everything right, if you're so worried about my capability." That… that might actually work.
"What about your job?" Anita didn't know why she was still arguing. For the first time in a while, she felt light, like a great weight was being lifted off her shoulders. It wasn't fully gone, not by a long shot, but maybe she'd finally found someone to help her carry it.
"I think I'm going to retire." Ishido said. "Twenty years of service. I'll get my pension. I was getting too old for this anyway."
Anita understood what he didn't say. Ishido didn't want a new partner. He and Don had worked together for years. They were more than partners; they were brothers, best friends. He didn't want to work with anyone but his best friend.
"Oof!" Ishido grunted when she slammed into him. His arms automatically wrapped around her. She squeezed his shoulders, burying her nose in his short cropped hair. It wasn't her dad's shoulder, but it was familiar and there. It had taken a while, but her uncle finally had her back.
A shrill wail reached them, echoing down the stairs. Oshi was awake, and with that much noise, Don wouldn't be far behind.
"Think that's our cue to end the mushy stuff?"
Anita huffed a laugh, pulling away and heading for the nursery.
"Come on." She said. "Lesson one on caring for reincarnated parents starts now."
I have a lot of feelings on this subject. Anita getting hurt and quitting to take care of her parents is the reason usually cited for Empress not making the jump to Teen Titans. I call bullshit. She loves being a superhero, and while she was struggling to take care of the kids towards the end of YJ, she had friends and family who were willing to help. Also, she's fifteen. Who the hell decided this child should be those babies' primary caretaker?
Semi unrelated but it's a little weird they're raising former husband and wife as siblings, and that Anita calls them Mom and Dad