Part III – Damage Control
Bart surveyed the Kent apartment and felt his career as a Teen Titan vanishing out from underneath him. There could be no way anyone would ever trust him to handle a big situation, like the end of the world if he couldn't handle two four year olds. Even Conner and Cassie's little steam session was not so big a failure as this was. The living room was upside down, and Bart contemplated the vision of four year old Jonathan up ending the heavy leather sofa to find a small action figure and pondered returning it to it's rightful place and then decided not. The young Kents were crawling on the upside down couch, and sliding down the back. They were happy, and Bart decided their happiness was what mattered. While he could figure out how to solve his problem, anyway.
He forced himself to walk into the kitchen, and stopped dead in his tracks at the sight of it. He was going to need serious octane to bring this place back to the way Mrs. Kent left it. Bart sighed and walked over to the table, picking up the white stoneware sugar bowl. Without even thinking twice, he dumped the contents into his mouth and then let the grainy sweetness dissolve against his tongue. Setting the sugar bowl down, Bart moved on to the refrigerator, and found two 2 liter bottles of soda, and guzzled those down too. Feeling a bit more alert, Bart walked to the Kent's cabinets and found two packages of cookies, and ate his way through most of it while the children were continuing to destroy the living room.
"I can hear them." Bart told himself. "If I can hear them, it's all good." He shoved the last of the cookies in his mouth and sped back to the refrigerator. Cookie dough, two large logs of it, sat innocently on the pristine glass shelves, and Bart ripped into them, feeling his body begin to amp up from the excessive sugar and calories he'd ingested. "Clean first, kids washed up and then, "hello, Clark, see, everything is golden…"
As the world around him began to blur, Bart grabbed a roll of paper towels and a full bottle of bleach spray and in no time, the kitchen was sparkling. He even cleaned the bathroom, which had been disgusting with kid puke. Able to control himself after the initial burst of speed, Bart slowed down enough to inspect his work. Clark would never know anything had been wrong in this part of the apartment. Speeding up again, Bart grabbed the Kent children, re-bathed them and changed their pajamas, depositing each one on their bed with a quick pat on the head. The living room was next, and Bart had the furniture rearranged in no time. He wiped every glass surface free of finger marks, crayon drawings and kid snot. The house was back in order, and no one would have to know how badly he'd nearly screwed up. Winding down, Bart shoved a last armload of toys into the entry closet, put a "The Fast and The Furious" on and sat down on the couch. He was completely drained now, and the only thing that would help him recharge would be a nap. Unable to stop himself, Bart's eyes drifted shut, and he descended into a deep, deep sleep.
"J'onn, what's the status of Impulse and the Kent twins?" Bruce asked, standing in the shadows away from the party. He waved to his wife, who was dancing with the editor of the Daily Planet, Perry White. No matter how many times she'd been courted by other papers, Lois, or L.J. Wayne was devoted to the Gotham Times, and never beamed as proudly as the day they told her that her column was being syndicated across the country. She'd made it, and not on her cousin's coat tails, either. Bruce tapped his foot impatiently, and finally, J'onn returned to the comm, the hint of a smile in his voice.
"Tell Clark that he will need to re-supply on all carbohydrate foodstuffs tomorrow, but that his children are in bed, and the house is safe. Impulse succeeded." The Martian bit into a Hydrox cookie. "You should be dancing with your wife, Bruce Wayne."
"I will." Bruce frowned. "No collateral damage? Are you sure?"
"Not a cracked figurine or scratched DVD. The boy nearly killed himself tonight trying to prove his worth to Clark. And you." J'onn said. "Go, dance with your wife before I arrive at the party myself."
"Fine. Wayne out." Bruce hung up the comm. Everything okay. Bruce looked out of the long windows of the Metropolis Plaza ballroom. It seemed hard to believe, but there it was. He turned to watch Clark and Chloe smiling at each other on the dance floor. It was always a good thing to see the Kents enjoying themselves. He slid the comm back into his pocket and made his way toward his wife to take her away from Perry White.
"Clark, this is really wonderful." Chloe smiled up at Clark happily. "Just us, the twins are home and safe. You aren't running to save the world…I'm a happy woman."
"And you are the guest of honor here tonight, Cinderella." Clark leaned forward and kissed Chloe's nose. "And we don't have to be out of here at the stroke of midnight either."
"Well, that's good, because it's after midnight already." Chloe said. "This is the last dance of the evening."
"Well, not the LAST one." Clark smiled. "There's always home."
"Right, home." Chloe grinned back at him. "Let's start saying goodbye then."
Lara Kent slid down the banister and landed on her pink pajama-ed butt.
"MOMMA! DADDY! OWWWWWIIEEEEE!"
Jonathan's wild black head appeared at the top of the stairs, his sister's yelp of pain rousing him. Padding silently down the steps, Jonathan held out a hand to his crying sister. She took it and stood, wiping her tears on the sleeve of her clean pajamas. They walked hand in hand into the living room.
"Unca Bart?" Jonathan said tentatively. "Unca Bart? You here?" Lara sniffled loudly and pointed at the sleeping figure of their babysitter, stretched out on the couch.
"Unca Bart sweeping." Lara whispered, let go of her brother's hand and climbed up onto the couch beside Bart. "Poor Unca Bart."
"Uh-oh." Jonathan said, looking at the television. "A Grown Up Movie." He stared for a long time. "Unca Bart not a grown up." Jonathan folded his little arms. "He gets a time out."
"No." Lara hugged Bart tightly. "No. Unca Bart is nice. You is mean, Jonathan. So mean." She shook her red curls, but Jonathan Kent was a stickler for the rules.
"Time out for watching grown up movie." Jonathan pulled Bart from the couch and dragged him to the twins' time out spot. Bart stirred briefly, but then fell back to sleep, slumped over against the first step of the staircase. "You sit in time out, Unca Bart, til sorry for seeing grownup movie and playing with Daddy's machine. Five minutes." Jonathan patted Bart's shoulder tenderly. "You a good boy, though."
"MEAN!" Lara cried, tears falling again. "You not nice, Jonathan Kent. I don't like you no more."
"Time out is not nice." Jonathan repeated his father's patient words, words he'd heard many times before. "Time out make you think about what you done. Time out to be sorry in, not have fun." Jonathan glared at his sister. "You need time out if you be fresh more to me."
"I not fresh." Lara replied as loftily as a four year old girl in pink pajamas could. "I snarky. Mommy says I sassy."
"Timeout." Jonathan pointed to the step. "Timeout for Lara."
"NO!" Lara yelled, and then, she paused. "I hear something."
"I hear it too. It's DADDY!" Jonathan leapt into the air, just as the door opened and landed in his father's arms. "Hiya, Daddy."
"Hi, Jonathan." Clark looked at his son sternly. "You should have been asleep a long time ago."
"Lara falled, I woke up." Jonathan said, as Lara's cheeks grew more deeply pink and tears welled in her eyes. "Unca Bart asleep."
"Poor Unca Bart!" Lara cried, allowing herself to be folded into her mother's embrace. "Poor Unca Bart! Jonathan put him in time out!" She pointed to Bart, who was now stretched out on the floor. Bruce knelt over and felt for a pulse.
He looked up at Clark and grinned.
"Impulse is out cold. Your twins beat him. I need to replicate them for the practice rooms." Bruce lifted Bart up. "I'll deposit him in your guest room for the night, Clark."
"Yeah, oh.." Chloe walked over and kissed the top of Bart's head, as he were her own son. "I'm so sorry, Bart." She whispered in his ear. Bart blinked awake, and looked at Bruce Wayne sleepily and then jumped to the floor.
"I am sooo sorry. I know I should have never fallen asleep, but…" He looked down at Lara and then over at Jonathan. "you guys needed to be asleep hours ago…oh, no."
"You naughty. You watch grown up movies and play with Daddy's machine, you let Lara hurt her butt. You not a grown up." Jonathan informed Bart authoritatively. "You have time out."
"I don't think so, Mister." Clark interceded. "I'm the one that hands out timeouts around here. Go on, Bart. The guest room is yours. Go get some sleep. You earned it."
"Thanks, Big Blue." Bart nodded and trudged up the stairs. "Goodnight."
"Goodnight." Chloe waved to Bart. "Thank you, sweetie."
"No problem, Mrs. Kent. Any time." Bart disappeared, and Chloe turned to face her twins.
"Now, march, up to bed." She suppressed a grin at Jonathan's indignant expression, and allowed Lara to climb into her arms for a hug. "It's late for little people to be out of bed."
"We go." Jonathan slid out of Clark's arms. "Night, Daddy."
"Night, Jonathan. Night, Lara." Clark kissed his son and then his daughter and watched them go up to bed. He turned and looked at his wife. "So, that was interesting."
"Yeah." Chloe smiled at her husband fondly. "Can't wait for the recap at breakfast."
"Well, it's back to the Metropolis Plaza for us." Lois waved to Clark and Chloe. "Good night, guys." She brandished her award. "Gonna go put this under my pillow and dream about accepting it again." She rested her head on Bruce's shoulder lightly. "You ready?"
"Yes. Good night, folks." Bruce waved as they left to go get the elevator. Clark closed the door behind his friends, as Chloe disappeared into the kitchen.
"Come on, Mrs. Kent. It's late for award winning investigative journalists, too." Clark walked up the steps and Chloe came in from shutting off lights in the living room, a bemused expression on her face. "What's wrong?"
"Everything is too neat, Clark." Chloe frowned. "The twins toy box is missing."
"Bart probably brought it upstairs. Come on. We'll figure it out in the morning." Clark took his wife's hand in his. His comm went off. "Go ahead."
"Clark? Bruce. I forgot to tell you, J'onn said to stock up on carbs and stuff for the morning. Apparently Bart cleaned you guys out." Bruce's voice held a hint of a laugh.
"Right." Clark hung up the comm, and smiled. "I'll go to the store in the morning."
"Well," Chloe walked up the steps and turned back to look at Clark. "Is Bart on the short list now?"
"Ah," Clark shrugged, "We'll put him on the second string. Poor kid. He's earned at least a chance to make plans before we ask him to baby sit again."
"Yeah." Chloe smiled. "Come on, hero." She waited at the top of the steps. "Carry me."
Clark scooped his wife up and kissed her quickly. "Anything you want."
"Ooh, an award and 'anything I want'? I can want anything…." Chloe grinned.
"Just remember, Chloe, the last time it was "anything you want" we got twins out of the deal." Clark teased, kissing his wife on the nose. "We'll never get babysitters then."
"And that's bad because…." Chloe winked at Clark, who grinned broadly in response.
"Okay…" Clark swung her down the hall and into their room. "Anything you say, Ms. Lane…"