Hey kids, third Jordy story in the set. Doesn't really focus on Jordy so much… but lots of effects on his world. And seriously leads up to the next big story (

Standard Disclaimers apply. I own who I own. I don't own who I don't own. Don't sue me, I'm pathetic.

Babes in the Woods


Waking up from her nap, Peaches yawned. Stretching beneath her blanket, it caught on her heal and her elbow and tore. She sighed. It twisted up her insides whenever she broke stuff. Opening her eyes, she looked around at the floor in her bedroom. The bed got broke her first night there. Superboy replaced it, but she broke it again. Superboy liked to say she was 'between beds' right now.

The chest of drawers had been pretty much demolished the first time she tried to dress herself. Now there was just her blanket, a stack of clothes in a rubber bushel, and the curtains taped to the windowsill. They were 'between' furniture in every room of the basement apartment since she showed up. She hated it.

When she was with mommy, she could dress herself, and she had a bed and stuffed animals, and nothing broke. Superboy was good, and she got to help people—but she wanted to be a big girl again. She hasn't even been back to first grade since mommy died in the car accident.

Rubbing her eye, she wondered why she broke everything because she was strong now, but she didn't break herself.

There wasn't a door on her room any more. It broke, and Superboy said she'd just break it again, trying to open it. There was a sheet covering it. Very gently, she pinched the bottom of the cloth with her big finger and thumb and pulled it upwards. Ducking underneath, she came out of the room.

In the living room, Superboy was sleeping on the beanbag chair. "Kon?" she whispered. Leaning over, she got very close to his face. "Kon? Superboy?" But he didn't answer her. She wanted to hug him awake, or poke him, or jump on him—but she wasn't allowed. She wasn't allowed to touch anyone first 'sept indestructible people like Superman and Wonder Woman and Troia. Peaches wished Superboy were indestructible too. "Superboy… I'm hungry," she said a little louder. "You have to wake up and feed me."

He was still quiet.

Disappointed, she went to the television set. There was a speaker on the side that Jordy had added. It was from the Daedelus guy. "Turn on," she told it, and it obeyed. The large screen flickered to life. "Cartoon channel, please," she told it. There was a pause then the channel changed. Sitting down gently on the floor, she tried to watch the thing about the bunny, and forget about the growling in her belly. He was dressed up like a girl again. She liked that.

* * *

It was late afternoon, but the blinds were drawn, and a night routine had just taken place.

Jordan Rayner, Green Lantern and self-proclaimed 'kept husband' took half a step, then leapt onto his bed, jostling his wife. The papers in her hand fell into her lap. One hand reached out and grabbed hold of his hair. "DON'T do that again," she warned, gathering up the papers.

He grinned. "Gotcha that time."

"I let you get me," Mara said, not looking up from the assets report.

"Uh huh," Jordan replied skeptically. He pressed his cold legs against hers, then began trying to reach for her papers, which she held just out of reach. "Come on… put those away. It's bed time."

"I'm trying to get ready for this meeting…"

Jordan silenced her with a kiss. "And you got the whole weekend to do it. I gotta be up bright and early tomorrow to teach the Justice Brats how to work the new teleporter systems." He wasn't too proud to beg. His dark green lower lip jutted out and it was quivering, suddenly.

She grabbed his mint colored cheek. "That's the price you pay for being in charge."

"I didn't ASK to be in charge. Come on… console me or something?" he pleaded.

Disgustedly, she put her papers on the night stand. "You better appreciate this," she said smartly. "And don't ever ask me for another thing, as long as you live."

Grinning, Jordan shut off the light. He kind of liked it when she wasn't very nice. His lips decided to go for a good warm up, before the rest of him started in on solid aerobic activity. He swore to God, they did this less now that they were married, than before.

Suddenly, he laughed.

"You know, I have contracts to look over, if you're going to goof off," Mara informed him. Their voices echoed in the large, dark room like snowballs hitting off of a windshield.

"I was just thinking… remember before you moved out of your parents' house? And we were doing it like three times a day? What happened to that?" While he spoke, he relieved her of her robe and tossed it over his shoulder.

She pinched both of his cheeks, and shook them just a little bit. "I moved OUT."

"Aww… I know. But why does this always take a back seat to everything else now?" How the hell was he supposed to get this silk nightshirt off of her? The buttons were FAKE! He began tugging it upward. He liked buttons better.

"I mean—what's the thrill if it's not dangerous?" Her father would have killed them both, and that made it more pressing and more urgent to get away with it as many times as humanly possible. "Life just got in the way," she responded to his second question. "We're busy folks."

So busy, Jordan thought, that they now did most of their talking during sex. Considering they didn't have sex often any more, they didn't do a whole lot of talking. And what the hell was with talking while making love? Who decided THAT was a good idea?

Probably Mara. She'd probably decided it was efficient or something.

"Ok," he said, pulling her nightshirt the rest of the way over her head, "go with me on this. Your mom and dad are down stairs, making pork chops and stuffing, Jimmy's in the next room… Batman has you on call…Am I making you hot and bothered?"

The phone rang. "Hold that thought," he ordered as the ringer made its second attempt at driving Jordy mad. He picked it up before the third assault on his ears, and the mood. Whoever it was—they weren't getting whatever they wanted. "Hello?" he asked impatiently.

"Jordy?" a small, timid voice asked with uncertainty.

"Peaches?" he couldn't keep the concern from instantly flooding his voice. "Is everything alright?" She had never called him before.

"Dunno," the girl replied. Mara turned on the lamp, and then covered her shoulders. "I'm hungry," she informed him. "And Superboy's sleeping."

"Honey, can you wait till he wakes up?" Of all the problems to interrupt them…

"Been asleep all day. Since we fought the monster-men."

Jordy rubbed the stubble on his jaw. "Peaches, what happened?"

There was the sound of the little girl sniffing on the speakerphone, then her taking a deep breath. "Dunno. He got zapped, and I brung him home, and he didn't wake up from his nap." She wished SHE could get zapped and feel it. Two of them had grabbed hold of her, and let their energy fly, but it hadn't done anything. In the end, she just grabbed a metal light pole and tied them up in it. She tried to be gentle about it. "Can you make mac-n- cheese like he does? With the extra cheese?"

Jordy gave his wife a sympathetic shrug as he began searching for his pants. "Peaches… why didn't you call Superman?" he was first on her list of people to call.

"He's on the news," she said. "Splosion so big that they took the cartoons off for it." She wanted to go help him, but she wasn't allowed to leave without Superboy with her. She'd left without him before, when she went after the spaceship thingy, and it had just gotten everyone into trouble. She didn't want any more trouble.

Jordan struggled into his clothes while he talked to the girl. He was sure he'd have to turn this into some kind of big 'lesson' that'd probably end up in the child feeling bad and crying, but it took a lot to knock Kon El out, and if that had happened—it was serious. "Peaches, I'm on my way, alright? I'll bring you something along the way." Hopefully she wasn't stuck on macaroni and cheese. "How's about a hamburger meal? With a toy?"

Over on the bed, Mara had dressed herself again, and was going through her papers. Planetary conspiracy against him. That was the only explanation.

"Yeah!" the girl said excitedly. Then she let out a little moan. "No. Just a regular one. Without a toy."

He felt bad for her—she didn't want it because she'd break it. "Alright. I'll get you a grownup meal," he answered, trying to turn it into a positive. His success was a questionable at best. "Give me a few minutes and I'll be right there."

"Ok," the girl replied sadly. "See ya."

"Yeah," Jordan replied, hanging up the phone then looked down at his uniform and the Lantern emblem across his chest. "I'll be back before you go out tonight. Superboy got himself into some kind of trouble. He's been unconscious since this morning. I'll fix it, feed her, and get back here."

His wife looked up from her papers. "Do what you have to." She wasn't pleased, but she accepted it. Constant interruptions were the way of their life.

* * *

Jordy crouched beside Superboy, gently pulling back the blanket that covered the young man. He was cradled within an oversized beanbag chair. The forever-teenager didn't look good. His nose was obviously broken, it was swollen and purple, and just a little crooked. There were burn marks on the S shield on his chest, roughly in the shape of a hand.

"And he's been asleep since this morning?" Jordy asked again.

Looking up from her hamburger, Peaches nodded.

His pulse was OK, but when he pulled back the young hero's eyelids, there was no response. "Okay," Jordan muttered to himself. He tried nudging the boy awake, but it wasn't any good either. "Peaches, I think we're going to take a little trip to the nice folks at S.T.A.R."

The little girl vigorously shook her head. "Nooo. I don't like them."

He sighed. It really wasn't up for debate, but he did try to get her to cooperate. "I know you don't. I know you don't like the tests they do… but they are only trying to help. Right now we need to get some help for Superboy." Jordan looked at the boy's face for a moment. Kon El liked to cultivate the stubbled look, he felt that it made him look older. To Jordy, he did look a more stubbled than usual. He couldn't remember the young man's hair line going quite so high up, or gracing the boy's upper lip. He needed to be seen by someone… very soon.

"Well, they don't help very good. I still break everything."

"I know honey. They're still looking for a way to settle your powers down. But I'm sure they have a way to help Superboy." They had all of Cadmus' research since the project went under several years ago. "They know everything there is to know about Kon. So they'll fix him up and make him better."

A construct reached out of his ring, and lifted the Boy of Steel into the air, letting little Peaches know that it wasn't up for debate. "Finish your hamburger. I promise they won't do any tests on you while we're there."

The unhappy girl shoved the rest of the food in her mouth, and then floated into the air, following her mentors.

* * *

It was almost four hours before Superboy woke up. Even then he was barely conscious at best, though the doctors assured team mentor and small friend alike that he'd have a full recovery. The doctors working on Kon El's case did have a few facts of interest to share with Jordan, that he wasn't quite sure what to make of. He decided to handle the immediate problem, though, and offered to take Peaches with him, until the Boy of Steel was more recovered.

"And so you did WHAT?" Mara whispered harshly.

"Shhhh… we don't know how good her super-hearing is yet," Jordan warned his wife. "Look, it's only for a few days." He began unpacking the bag he'd made for the girl when they'd returned to Superboy's place last night. He HADN'T made it home before his wife had gone on patrol, in fact, she'd just come home. And she wasn't happy.

"Do you know how much DESTRUCTION she can cause in a few days," his wife pointed out methodically.

Looking at the bottom of the bag, Jordy sighed, pulling out a miniature Supergirl costume. "Isn't this cute? Superboy keeps trying to get her to wear it. Come on… we keep saying we want kids, right? So now's our chance to test our mettle. We can keep her from destroying Gotham City," he said hopefully.

"She breaks even ONE thing in this house, and I'm throwing YOU out," Mara informed him stonily. Her iron eyes moved from him to the little costume. "Supergirl, huh?"

"Come on. It's cute," he pleaded.

She didn't say a word. Turning on her heals, she began digging something casual out of her drawers. Saturday was her only day 'off' and it really wasn't an 'off' day. Today was when they usually did a week's worth of cleaning. They'd closed up most of the house, but they were two people who could make a lot of mess.

Jordan threw himself onto the bed. His body bounced a few times on top of the covers before coming to rest. He lay on his side, watching her dress. He had NO idea where she'd gotten purple underwear from…but they were completely adorable. "Cheer up. It could be worse. She could be totally un- cute, and then we'd be stuck with mini-Jimmy." Jimmy might be his best friend, but the guy had been born annoying.

"Eeug," Mara replied, throwing on a flannel shirt. Crossing the room, she began digging through her husband's drawer, finding a pair of faded jeans.

"Get your own!" He protested suddenly. They went through this every weekend.

"WHAT? These're too tight on you!"

"I'm losing weight!"

She unfolded the pants, then turned and stared at him. "That entire package of cookies yesterday was part of the diet."

"Cookies make me feel better!"

Putting on the jeans, she tried not to smile. "This house has two treadmills," she informed him.

Jordan hid his look of horror. He'd better just lose the ten pounds… or he'd end up doing intense training with her. "Ok ok. No more eating my way through stress. You know, I wasn't having this problem when I was using sex as stress relief."

"'Cookies make me feel better,'" She mocked.

"Jordy! Can I have cookies!" a small, mouse of a voice asked on the other side of the bedroom door. "Cookies will make ME feel better too!"

Jordy knew he'd be discussing with her the burdens and responsibilities of super-hearing VERY shortly. That WASN'T the first time she'd eves dropped. "Guess she's awake," he said with surprise.

"Yeah, she's awake," Mara stated sarcastically.

He slapped her behind. "Look, make yourself look cute, I'll make breakfast."

"I'm not cute."

"Bring down the dirty clothes, and I'll wash 'em," he offered, opening the bedroom door.

* * *

Sitting Peaches on the stool at the island in the kitchen, Jordan yanked opened the industrial sized refrigerator door. They were pretty sad—with just the two of them there, the week's worth of groceries filled up not even one shelf.

"Do you like eggs?" He could make eggs. Actually, they hadn't gone grocery shopping in a while, so it was eggs and toast, or French toast.

"Can I have cookies?" the girl asked with wide, hopeful eyes.

"How's about French toast? We'll put some powdered sugar on it, and it'll be LIKE cookies. If cookies were breakfast food." And made out of eggs and toast.

"Mmm ok. I guess that's ok. Superboy doesn't make French toast." Her hand was reaching out to grab the counter, to swing the chair around, but one look from Jordan stopped her. He'd already given her a talk about how she absolutely couldn't break anything in this house, because it belonged to someone special to Robin, but sometimes she forgot, and wanted to touch stuff. It was easier back when she wasn't strong, and could touch anything she wanted.

"Explain to me why I found your dirty socks under the bed?" Mara asked.

Jordan gave a guilty shrug. "They got tired of playing with the rest of the clothes in the hamper, and decided to have some alone-time under the bed?"

Lugging the bushel of clothes to the laundry room, she shook her head.

"Kon lets me throw my dirty clothes on the floor," Peaches pointed out. "Maybe you SHOULD come live with me an' Kon."

Finding a bowl, he began cracking eggs. "Naw, I like it here. Even if she DOES get weird about stuff." They did dishes only once a week, but she was the clean-clothes Nazi. "And I thought you wanted to be just like Robin when you grew up?"

"I do!" she chirped enthusiastically. "But I wanna throw clothes on the floor, too." Kon said it was OK, as long as you threw them all on the floor in the same place, and made kind of a pile. She wanted to be like Superboy too. And Superman. But she didn't want to be Supergirl. Not no way, not no how. Her mom had nicknamed her Peaches, and that's who she'd be. Forever and ever.

"Mmm… well, you can throw clothes on the floor with Superboy, if he lets you. We have a rule about that here." Adding cinnamon to the eggs and milk, he paused in his mixing. "We also have rules on some other things."

Peaches looked down. She knew she'd messed up again.

"It's alright. You're not in trouble. We just have to work on that listening in on other people's conversations thing. OK? I know it's REALLY tempting, but it's not polite."

"But I can hear…" she hated hearing all the sounds. Superman kinda gave up trying to teach her to be gentle, and he just worked on helping her hear only the sounds she wanted to. "I gotta concentrate on not listening," she vowed.

Jordy smiled. "Good. Otherwise you're not going to have any surprises at all, at Christmas and your birthday." She wasn't a bad kid. She was just a full-time job.

* * *

Hitting the bottom step to the Cave, Mara saw slight movement over in the shadows near the computer. Sure enough, a second later, the screens flashed. "Dude, its Saturday. Go home."

"Shut up," Tim told her.

Switching hips with her half-full bushel, she tried not to smile. "That's what I love about this partnership. All of my recommendations are met with 'shut up.' You know how to make a girl feel wanted."

The chair spun around. Batman was scowling at her.

She almost gasped. "Holy Geeze. Don't even CHANGE or anything. You know, you CAN do paperwork in street clothes." Why was he still scowling at her? "Fine, I know. 'Shutup.'"

She started searching for used towels and parts of costumes to be washed. "So," she chirped cheerfully, knowing full-well she was getting on his nerves. "Cass actually kick you out, or are you still in denial that you have a personal life?" She found a dirty, greasy towel over by the car, and added to her collection.

"You're a pest," Batman informed her. "I don't know how Bruce ever worked with you."

"And you got a wife and two kids. Priorities, Tim." Her mood suddenly changed to something akin to reprimand. "This is NOT the place to be hanging out when you have little people at home. What if Cass pops and goes into labor, and you're down here, doing paperwork? And Sammy's gonna forget she has a dad."

He pulled the mask off. Tim's wet, wild hair stuck straight right up in the air. "You're one to talk. I heard through the grape vine that you have a visitor."

Mara stared down at her collection of dirty clothes. "I'm getting ready to throw a load in the wash. YOU are hiding."

"Tuesday is wash day for stuff in the Cave," he said sagely.

She let the rubber bushel fall to the ground. "Ok. Fine. I'll go up there. If you go home."

Neither of them moved.

"Cass DID kick you out, didn't she?"

"Cass didn't kick me out!" Tim snipped, pulling the cape off, then relieving himself of the belt.

"Then go home."

"I have stuff to do."

Leaning against the drivers' side door of The Car, Mara rolled her eyes. "She totally kicked you out."

"She didn't kick me out," Tim answered snidely, placing his armor on his chair.

Mara crossed her ankles, and folded her arms over her chest. "Then you got serious issues."

"Why do you always have to give me a hard time? I'm an adult, I can solve my own problems."

"You're HIDING," she informed him, then picked the bushel back up. "Ok. I'm gonna go back up there, and spend time with my 'guest.' Just think about it, Tim. YOU are the only one screwing this up. WHY are you being a hard- case and denying yourself all the good things you have waiting at home, a cute little kid, and another kid ready to come out, and someone who knows how much of a dork you are, and still loves you? So what's your damage?"

He pulled a shirt over his head, then began shoving it into his pants. He had his back to her, and he was staring off into the darkness. "And why don't YOU want to go up there? Huh? Why are YOU happy being miserable."

"That's between ME and my THERAPIST," Mara said sarcastically. "Is there a REASON we're all neurotic? God." She began walking away from him, not sure what else to do. She didn't want to go back up there, really… but she didn't really want to be having this conversation. Getting to the bottom of the steps, she turned around, trying to gather her patience. "I don't want to go up there because I know I'm going to get attached, and then I'm going to have to give her back." Her confession made, she scurried up the stairs.

Finding his car keys, Tim began dialing a number he had been intimately acquainted with when he was married to Stephanie.

"Hi," he breathed, digging out his credit card. "This is Tim Drake. Yeah. I know it's been a while. Dozen red roses. Same address. Same inscription—Sorry I'm a Jerk…"

* * *

Jordan gave Peaches a paper plate (he'd finally managed to get Mara to let him keep some in the house) stacked high with French toast. He'd perfected the two-frying pan technique, and was turning out six French toasts every three minutes. Turning back to the stove, he flipped the battered bread and smiled. Alfred would be proud.

"Ok," Mara announced breathily from the door way. "I'm gonna throw these in the wash, and we'll wash the dishes, then we're going out for ice-cream."

Without waiting for their reaction, or explanations, she continued on her way.

"Can you eat ice-cream for breakfast?" Peaches asked. She held her fork between two fingers lightly, but it was already warped and bent out of shape. She wasn't stabbing the food, just sort of scraping it into her mouth.

"Sure," Jordy said encouragingly. Ice cream was good for any meal. His love handles were a testament to that. And if Mara was actually willing to leave the house for something that wasn't work, he was going to break on the diet that never began, for the sake of being social.

* * *

Sitting at the bench outside the ice cream stand in the park, Mara looked around to see if anyone was observing them. The group didn't need any extra attention this afternoon.

"Alright," Mara informed the girl. "Put your hands together like this." She cupped the child's hands, forming them into a 'cone holder,' so that the cone rested in her hands, versus the girl actually holding it.

Jordan handed over the waffle cone, and Mara placed it in Peaches' waiting hands, and they both watched and waited. Peaches stuck out her tongue and tried to gently lick at the ice cream, but was too forceful. The cone broke, and the rocky road spilled into her hands. Instantly, tears spilled out of her eyes.

"Hey!" Mara said, grabbing a larger portion of the broken cone and scraping up the ice cream from the child's hands.

"I break EVERYTHING!" Peaches howled. The ground shook as her foot pounded against it—the asphalt of the path gave way beneath her shoe.

"Open your mouth," Mara ordered, and the girl obeyed. She began shoveling it into the girl's mouth, making a mess.

"Aww geeze, Mara, those're her only clothes!" Jordy howled as the ice cream dripped onto her shirt. He has NO idea what had come over his wife. She'd suddenly discovered 'fun' again for the first time since her partner died.

With ice-cream oozing out of her mouth, Peaches grinned and giggled.

Mara shrugged, licking ice-cream off of her own wrist. "You can either help me, or you can just stand there, Jordan."

So they both started drowning the over-powered little girl in Rocky Road. The three laughed about as hard as they ever had, spilling it all over themselves and each other. In the warm June sun, the ice-cream sprayed and splattered across their clothes, like misfired lemon-juice, only six times more visible, and twice as sticky.

* * *

It was twilight when Jimmy entered the manor. He'd been running errands for people all day. The twins had had their collective checkup, and Crystal had been off saving some weird historical landmark out west from fire, famine and petulance, so HE had gotten the joy of the nine am doctors appointment, his mother had half a dozen things she wanted from the store for dinner, then he'd ended up going back to the grocery store when his grandfather had called. He'd had knee surgery recently, and even though his stupid sister lived closer, the errand-running always fell to him.

Then his grandfather had gotten some kind of weird kick and decided that Jimmy should wash the curtains. Why? No one knew. He loved his grandfather, but that was so weird.

"Helllllo?" Jimmy asked as he approached the room at the furthest end of the large hall. He could see the TV flickering, and several somebodies in the darkened room, watching some cartoon. While he was thinking about it—his sister was a freak, too. He had half a mind to tell those people at Fortune 500 Magazine that they'd left something out of their article on her last month—the fact that she didn't know that the TV could be used to watch things like sitcoms, and that there were channels other than the cartoon station.

"Superboy's up and about," he said as he stopped outside the doorway, tearing a dead leaf off the plant on the writing table. Alfred would have NEVER stood for that. And now his sister was trying to play homemaker, and quite frankly, she was slacking off. "He's asking where his little Munchkin- Cupcake-Wubblebug is." Superboy was a freak too. Everybody was a freak. There was a burden, being the only normal person in the universe, and he bore it with pride.

Coming into the room, he felt his chest sort of cease up. In the flickering light from the television set, three bodies sat heaped upon each other, large dark stains across their chests… splashes on their arms and pants. He knew exactly what kind of gun would produce that kind of splatter pattern.

"Holy fuck," he whispered, slowly approaching. He didn't register the smell of chocolate ice cream and syrup. He also didn't ponder too deeply that the Munchkin-Cupcake-Wubblebug sitting between his sister and her husband was, by all accounts, completely indestructible.

All he knew was that his parents would probably blame this on HIM somehow.

Flipping on the light, he realized just how stupid he was. There was a reason he'd lasted exactly twenty-eight days as Batman (besides the fact that his sister was a psychotic bitch). "Aww man, wake up you guys! You're all pigs!" He could feel himself blushing.

Peaches rubbed her eyes and yawned, sliding out of the grownups. Jordy and Mara jostled awake without the child between them. "He said a bad word! He said the F-word!" She hopped up to her feet excitedly, pointing at the stranger. "Who're you?" she popped into the air, levitating in front of his face, ready to attack.

"Peaches!" Jordy chirped, grabbing on to her leg and pulling her back towards the ground. "This is Daedelus."

She came to rest on the carpet. "Oh." The little girl blushed, then waved. "Hi. I'm Peaches. You build me stuff."

"Jimmy, watch your mouth," Mara scolded. She looked at the smears of redish brown chocolate all over them, and scowled at him. "And don't say a word."

Defensively, the young man raised his hands. "I aint saying ANYTHING." Not when he'd had that mini-heart attack, all over his sister being a slob. "Anyways, Superboy woke up for real, and the first thing he wanted to know was where his Wubblebug was. So… um… you have to return her. Time to go home, I guess."

Why did everyone look reaaaaaly disappointed?

Peaches shoulder slunk down, and then she took to the air again, and flew off.

"What'd you guys do? Corrupt her against Superboy?" That was SO totally not fair. Kon El could be a hardcase sometimes to deal with, but he took care of that little imp. And as a dad of kids, he thought it was not fair to do to someone.

"Just shut up, ok, Jimmy? Go bug someone else for a little bit," Mara ordered, following after the little girl.

The two young men stared at each other for a moment, until Jordan rubbed his neck with a shrug. "You could have been nicer."

"You could have been nicer," Jimmy mocked. "You always take her side."

"She's my wife."

"I thought you were my pal."

Jordan rubbed his eyes, still tired. He'd canceled his meeting with Young Justice today, and they'd had a fun day, but it was still exhausting. "Jimmy, you're uber-annoying. Leave me alone." That being said, he followed his wife up the steps.

* * *

"Hey… why did you run off?" Mara asked gently, coming into the spare bedroom. Peaches sat atop the bed she'd used the night before. The legs were broken, and a few springs poked through the sheets.

"I dunno," the girl muttered miserably.

"Don't you wanna go home?" Mara asked, cautiously sitting beside the girl.

"Home's with mommy," the girl answered.

Mara couldn't help it. She hugged the child. "Superboy is home now."

"Superboy doesn't have any furniture."

Bouncing the bed a little, Mara looked around the room. "I know. We have LOTS of furniture here." And they'd kept her from breaking MOST of it today. Mara didn't know if she could make a full-time job of that. "Do you want to stay here because we have furniture?"

"Dunno." Peaches rubbed her nose and sighed. "Want… home."

"You see this?" Mara asked, picking up the little Supergirl costume. "Kon gave you this because you're his family now."

"All he has is a beanbag! Cause I broke everything. And I don't wanna be Supergirl. I'm Peaches. Mommy called me Peaches."

Mara nodded. She could sympathize. "What if you were Peaches in a Supergirl costume?"

The girl thought about that for a moment. "Don't wanna. Cause Supergirl's dead. Don't wanna wear that." She pushed the costume away from her. The force left Mara's hand stinging. W.E. was going to fund Jimmy's further research into a device to dampen the girl's powers.

The older of the two nodded solemnly. "I have something to show you," Mara informed the girl.

Outside the door, Jordan made himself scarce before the room's occupants crossed the threshold.

* * *

Peaches couldn't help it—she levitated into the air as she looked around. It was so big. It went really far up, and the ravine went really far down, and there were computers, and giant penny, and a dinosaur. Everything was so… BIG. It made her feel like a little baby.

"Batman really lives in a bat cave?" the awe in the child's voice was evident.

Mara had to smile. She'd grown up here. When she'd reached school age, it was all the self-restraint she could manage to keep from correcting those around her about all of their silly ideas about Batman and his Bat-stuff. "Well, he doesn't live here. But we work down here."

Peaches had temporarily forgotten her plight at the sights that surrounded her. "This is like your secret club house?" She flew up to the head of the t-rex and looked in it's glazed glass eye and shuddered fearfully.

"Sort of," Mara said indulgently. "Come down here. I want to show you something." And it wasn't all of the toys that had collected in the Cave over the years. There was another set of memories she wanted to share. She didn't wait for the child. Mara came to look at a row of cases containing costumes, stopping in front of the middle case. Her hand came up and touched the glass directly in front of the gold shield bearing the bat symbol.

"What's that? What're the costumes for?" the girl whispered in her ear.

Mara could sense the child floating behind her. "Reminders. Memorials," she replied breathily.

The girl got closer to the glass, careful not to touch. "Why's the costume so… black? Batman's not black." His costume was sort of a dark, sucking gray. And the yellow behind the bat symbol was not as… goldeny.

"This isn't the costume that belongs to the Batman you met. The Batman who wore this died before you got your powers."

She didn't seem to like that answer. The girl frowned, wondering why she was being shown this.

"He was my grandfather," Mara said finally. "I loved him very much." Suddenly her eyes were red and wet, and talking hurt. She remained silent for a moment, composing herself. "This is my family," she said, gesturing to the three cases.

"Everyone's DEAD?" Peaches asked dejectedly. The girl started anxiously rubbing at the ice cream stains upon her arms.

"No. No. My dad was the first Robin. He's Nightwing now. Then came Jason," she gestured to the strange, almost childish Robin costume in the next case.

"How come you don't wear the funny little pants?" the girl asked skeptically.

Mara had to laugh. "The funny little pants were my dad's idea. There's a reason they haven't endured throughout the ages. Then Tim became Robin. Guess what? Tim is Batman now."

The girl floated to the final case, looking at the purple costume.

Before the question was formulated, Mara spoke. "That belonged to Stephanie. I never really liked her much. She was the lady who took Tim away from me. If he was spending time with her, he wasn't watching cartoons with me—where he should be. She was really good though. She cared about people." Mara had a feeling that she needed to get to the point quickly. "Stephanie—Spoiler—she died saving a little boy, and she had a little girl at home not much younger than the boy she saved. Tim misses her most of all. He didn't wear a cape and mask for a long time because of it."

Gently, she pulled the girl back towards the ground. "My mom was a Batgirl once… but now she has a different job. Remember Jimmy? He has a different job now too. He builds stuff to help people. I guess what I'm saying is… sometimes things change, and we have to change too."

"You're still Robin," she answered quickly.

"I don't change very well. I'm learning though."

"If you weren't Robin, who would you be?"

Mara looked at the Bat-suit in the case.


Mara looked back at the girl. "Not exactly."

The girl levitated until her eyes were level with the bat symbol. "Oh."

"There're some things we can change, and some things we can't."

Peaches tugged on her thin blond tresses as she thought about it. "I love Kon, he makes me mac 'n cheese. But why did mommy have to go?"

Mara's answer was sincere and heartfelt, despite how, in her opinion, it lacked reassurance. "I don't know. All I know is that it has to happen."

"Like Jordy's mommy? Then being like this," the girl looked down at her unbelievably strong hands, "means that everyone goes away."

"NO." Mara said loudly, her voice echoing and frightening the bats. Upon hearing their startled screeches, Peaches pulled closer. "Honey, it doesn't just happen to people in our job. It happens to everyone." She hugged the child, some other realization dawning upon her. "It happens. Families change. Superboy and Superman are your family now. They care about you as much as your mom did. You had her name… when you were part of her family. The way I have Jordy's name now that I'm part of HIS family. I honor my father and Jason and Tim by having their name now too. And… I love grandpa. But he was so afraid of losing everyone that he never knew when to let go. And I never know when to let people come. But you came. And if it's ok, I'll be your family too."

Mara smiled encouragingly before continuing. "And Tim took Jason's name. Then Grandpa's. But he's not replacing them. Not in our hearts. Your mom's still there." She touched the girl's chest, then finally pulled away. She grabbed the frame of the middle case, pressing her forehead against the glass. "I don't know what I'm talking about. I'm sorry if it doesn't make sense." Her eyes suddenly started waterfalling, the tears falling quietly to the cave floor. She hated the way emotions gripped her suddenly since He died.

"So I should be Supergirl, and not Peaches any more?"

She clenched her eyes shut and looked back at the floating girl. "You're always going to be Peaches. You need to… be part of your new family now, too. Even if Kon doesn't have furniture and even if Superman doesn't always have time for you."

"I'm confused."

Mara shook her head. She had inadvertently placed a lot on the poor child's shoulders—things which a six year old most likely couldn't comprehend. "I know. I'm sorry. I spend most of my time being confused, any more." She looked around the cave, at her life. "Sometimes… you just need a break." What was she saying, really?

"Don't need break. Not really. Not from helping people."

Mara glared at the computer. Maybe she needed to spend a little more time helping herself. "Just a little break," she promised herself and the child.

"Hey," Jordan said quietly from the top of the steps, announcing himself. "Peaches ready to go?"

"Yeah, I think she is," Mara said. "I've screwed her up enough for today." Was there a rule that she had to inflict dysfunction upon everyone she met?

Peaches blew Robin a kiss. "I'll go home now. Robin and me had a good talk."

Mara knew the child was entirely too good of heart, because somehow, the little creature was smiling right then. Her fleshy cheeks were patched with red, and she did look like a little peach. "Take care of yourself. And Superboy." She leaned against the glass case, emotionally drained.

The girl flew up the steps. "Where'dja put the Super-costume?" she called back.

"It's on the floor, where you left it," Mara informed her as the sprite of a child flew up out of the cave, and through the house. At the top of the stairwell, her husband grinned. "Looks like you figured some things out."

Wearily, Mara began climbing the steps. "Yeah., But don't tell Jimmy that." Sometimes the 'insane' persona worked for her. She intended to use it to her advantage in what she was about to ask Jimmy for. "You might want to take a shower before you return her," Mara added, only half-thinking. "I have a… bit of a plan. If you will."

Jordy knew better than to say anything. He nodded his affirmation, then bit his lips shut as he went up stairs. Sometimes… silence was the best answer.

* * *

Peaches arrived at S.T.A.R Labs, wiggling the skirts of her new costume. She and her keepers marched down the hall towards Superboy's room. They'd checked in at the front desk and explained they were going to stick around until he was released. Mara and Jordan knew that Kon El had some new thing to adjust to in his life, and they figured it would be… nice to stick around until he'd made the transition.

"I want pants," Peaches declared. "I liked the pants on my other uniform better." Jordy gave the girl a pat on the head, then let his hand linger there. She was absolutely adorable in the short, ruffled skirt. And it wasn't like her fleshy little legs were in danger of getting hurt. The child was all set to destroy the badguys of Metropolis with cuteness alone.

"Well, see if Kon can get you some pants," Mara said with authority. She tugged on her baseball cap, smoothing out the light brown wig underneath. It wasn't her best disguise ever, but it served her purposes, every time she had to come here. "Whenever we see him, Jordy and I want to talk to him alone for a few minutes, so you can wait out in the hall." Mara didn't bother to tell the girl not to listen in—it wasn't like what they were going to discuss with him was extremely sensitive.

Everyone would figure it out eventually. Everything changed… Everyone changed. This was one of those great lessons of the universe, she supposed. It was just strange that they were all learning this lesson today.

They let themselves into the room where the young man was getting his stuff together. Loose change and some other miscellaneous items were shoved into his jacket pocket as he turned to greet them. "Peaches!" he called out happily, even though there was an exhausted edge to his voice.

Instantly the girl shot for him without thinking. A green ray from Jordan's ring restrained the girl, right before what would have been a bone-crushing impact. "Hey there!" the Green Lantern scolded gently. "If you break every bone in his body, you'll be spending even MORE time with us. And who KNOWS what costume we'll have you wearing next time. I'm sure we can find a Bat- uniform SOMEWHERE in you size."

Kon put his arms around the girl, and the ring-energy released her. "There's the Wubblebug!"

The child giggled and grinned, happy with the attention she was receiving.

"Ok, ok. This is gross," Mara pointed out, crossing her arms over her chest.

Jordan bit his cheeks, trying not to smile. She liked their mushiness, and he knew she liked it.

"Was she good? Did she break anything?" Superboy asked anxiously.

"She was good," Jordy offered. She did a LOT of damage, so he just didn't comment on the girl breaking things. Mara had even taken it considerably well.

"Yeah, she was a COMPLETE angel." Mara tapped the girl on the shoulder, and she hopped out of her caretaker's arms. "You wanna wait outside for a minute?"

The girl smiled and waved goodbye. "I'll come back, and then we go home and you can make me mac 'n cheese. Robin and Jordy were way good, but they didn't have no mac 'n cheese."

"What's up?" Superboy asked casually. He had a feeling that it was a little more weighted than they were playing it.

"Just some news that Jordy received when they ran their initial tests on you last night. We wanted to be the ones to tell you."

When she was outside, Jordy quietly closed the door behind her, then turned back to his one time teammate with a grin. "Congratulations. You're pregnant."

"He's been hanging around Nighthawk again, hasn't he?" Superboy asked in deadpan.

Mara took a step forward, the same goofy look on her face. "What Lame Lantern is trying to say… we're gonna be planning your seventeenth birthday party soon. You've grown two inches, and you might actually be able to grow a beard this century." The young man still looked so completely clueless. "You're growing up."

Kon El had gone from confused to shocked in one second as his eyes glazed over, and his jaw went slack.

* * *

A dawn-colored fire crackled and blazed in the darkness of the woods. Beyond it, two bodies lay quiet and peaceful.

"So… how long is this camping trip going to last?" Jordan asked the lazy body on top of him as he pulled the edge of the sleeping bag up around his bare shoulders. One sleeping bag and two people was definitely an arrangement that could get him out camping more often.

"Mmm… I'd like to say forever. How's about till Monday? I have a meeting in the afternoon. If we get up early… we can leisurely migrate back to Gotham. I'm thinking coffee, cheese danish… Long shower together before I get dressed for work…" She put her head on his chest.

Damn, she could make going back to the real world inviting too.

Staring up at the stars, he asked another question. "Think your mom'll be mad that you burned all of our communications equipment?"

His wife smiled. "Remember when I threw all my tracking devices in the river?"

"We're dead, aren't we?"

"Naw," Mara said, picking her head up to kiss him. "But a grandchild had better result from this trip. If it doesn't… THEN she'll have our heads on silver platters, roasted and garnished."

Jordy grinned. "Then we're gonna have to give the woman a grandkid." It was, after all, for their own safety. There was the sound of an owl calling out to the night, then the rustle of leaves. Some small animal had just been designated dinner, somewhere.

"I think… when we get home… I'll look into hiring someone to come in a few days a week and take care of the house. Alfred'd kill us if he knew we let it go."

Jordy didn't say anything. He suspected it was Mara's concession to making more time for them, and their relationship. He most certainly approved, and showed it by going back for another round of 'make the baby'.

There was another rustle of leaves, this one not produced by a bird prowling in the night.

Mara tore her lips off of his and looked up. "I know you're there!" she called out, glaring at a dark patch beyond the trees.

A familiar face peered out of the darkness. "See, I told Supes you guys could take care of yourselves. And damn. You kids're really taking care of yourselves. Aren't you?"

Jordy turned to look at Arsenal, dumping Mara on the ground. "Do me a favor, Arsenal. Tell Superman to spend more time worrying about his own people. We're adults, goddamnit!," he hollered angrily.

"Hey, no need to get snippy. Your mom got all worked up, and she got the Justice League worked up. You're lucky Supes asked ME to come out here… ALONE, instead of having everyone in the known universe coming to see if you guys were ok. Quit torching your equipment."

Jordy growled angrily. "We wouldn't HAVE to set fire to our stuff if you guys didn't have a crisis every time we try to have sex!"

Mara put her hand on his cheek, trying to calm him down. "Look… just quiet down." She looked up at the figure beyond the still cackling fire. "Roy, we're FINE, ok? Go tell them we're OK, and that we need some 'alone time' if we're ever going to have progeny, and not to bug us, ok? We'll be back Monday, ALRIGHT?"

Roy shrugged. "Hey, I'm cool. I'm always cool. 'Long as you ain't Bart Allen, and you ain't my kid, you guys conceive away."

The young man tangled in the oversized sleeping bag continued to scowl. "You go back there, and you tell Superman to start paying attention to Peaches, and to leave us Gotham people alone. The Old Guy wouldn't like it if he knew Superman was sticking his nose in where it wasn't wanted." It wasn't lost on him that he'd just called himself 'Gotham people.' He hoped that didn't get around.

Roy held up his hands. "You got some serious issue with Tall, Blue and Boring. You guys oughta work 'em out. Look. I'll tell everyone you guys got stuff to do… and… um… stuff." The archer vanished into the night.

"He's right," Mara said, once she was sure they were alone. "What's the deal?"

Jordy sighed, running a hand through his hair. "He's got that perfectly good kid right there, and he's checking up on us, like we can't run our lives."

Mara suspected it was more, but let it go. "You're a good guy, Jordy. Don't let him get you down," was the only thing she offered. "Or any of this. Back to vacation, ok? Baby-making."


"Isn't here," she finished. "And he's not the one I want to be a parent with. Now, I maneuvered this little expedition."

"Yeah. You're right," he conceded.

"OF course I'm right. I'm ALWAYS right." She pushed the hair back from his forehead. "Just think of how awesome it's going to be to have our own Wubblebug."

The young man gave a stupid grin. "Yeah." With any luck… this'd be the time. They tried every chance they got. Maybe some time actually dedicated to the task at hand would help. "No stress… no Young Justice… no Titans… Just you, me, and strange creepy guys in the woods."

She grinned. "Harper's harmless at best. An annoyance at worst. You, on the other hand…" Soon her lips were meeting his, and he remembered why he married her—best kisser in the known universe. Among other things.

"Ok," he said breathily, pulling her under him. "What if we're not alone out here. What if… GASP, Batman's stalking around out there. The woods ARE full of creepy things. Wouldn't want to like… get busted by Batman. Or your dad…"

Mara rolled her eyes, then silenced him by reaching up and clasping her lips over his. "Get on with it already," she said when she'd pulled away. "I'm not getting any younger."

"Alright, Bubbles," he replied smokily. "I just figured… you work better under pressure."

Above the roar of the fire and the howls of the night life, a single sincere laugh could be heard. And for a few minutes, everything was as it should be in their world.