Title: Call Me Fearless
Rating: low T
Word Count: 2,000+
Characters: Barry/Iris, Wally/Artemis
Summary: She's a tough girl and she knows this, but when you're the wife of a crime-fighter, the scariest thriller movie can't compare to turning on the television and finding out that your husband is, yet again, in danger.
Prompt: #160: afraid
Other Inspirations: it was loosely inspired by a Barry/Iris comic scan (link on profile). It has almost nothing to do with this fic, but I still consider it my inspiration!
Notes: Sorry for the abrupt ending; I was really struggling with finishing this.
Call Me Fearless
She's never considered herself someone who is easily frightened. She's a tough girl and she knows this, but when you're the wife of a crime-fighter, the scariest thriller movie can't compare to turning on the television and finding out that your husband is, yet again, in danger and that it's currently being broadcasted on the news.
Her heart is in her throat and there are tears in her eyes as she's sitting on the couch and watching.
To make matters worse, Wally is with him. She loves them both more than words can express, but she hates that they put her through this. On days like these, where she's so worried that she feels sick, she selfishly wants them to tell her they're retiring from heroism. She'd never, ever say this out loud because they love what they do and she wants to support them, but she knows they can tell.
Cat Grant is listing off League members and injuries so far, and she holds her breath as she listens for Flash or Kid Flash to be mentioned amongst these names then whimpers a little when they're not.
She's a complete wreck.
Her hair is falling in her face and her lip will probably bleed because she's biting it so hard, and she actually lets out this squeak and kind of jumps when the doorbell rings.
She answers it despite thinking of how much of a disaster she must look, but that kind of leaves her mind when she sees who's standing on her doorstep. "Artemis," Iris breathes. The girl's cheeks are flushed and her eyes are a little puffy and red and her hair is down and a little messy, and all Iris can think of is that Artemis is way too young to be worried over the same things as her.
"I'm sorry," Artemis begins, voice soft, "I should've called first, but I…"
Iris gives this small smile. "You're welcome here, you know that. Come inside."
As Iris steps aside, she thinks of how her house must look. She's made it a habit to turn on the TV when she gets home and didn't make it further than the living room as soon as the news came on, so there are groceries all over the coffee table and everything spilled out of her purse where she'd tossed it on the armchair.
"Sorry for the mess," she says as she shuts the door, and Artemis just shakes her head like it doesn't really matter to her.
"Is that…" Artemis trails off as she eyes the screen warily.
"Yeah." Iris sweeps her hair from her face and tucks it behind her ear, walking over and beginning to put her things back into her purse. She feels Artemis watching her, and even if it isn't necessarily, it's enough incentive to as least try to keep it together.
Artemis gives this shudder in her peripheral and Iris smiles a little.
"Cold?" she asks. Artemis nods, and shivers again like she isn't entirely used to feeling cold. Iris understands that. "It's so much warmer when they're around."
Artemis parts her lips but doesn't say anything at first. Then her eyes harden a little as she kind of whispers, "He lied to me."
"He kept me away from that mission," she goes on, nodding towards the TV again. Iris can hear the struggle in her voice to keep calm. "They'd been planning it for a while, apparently. And I'm not the only one. Megan, Zatanna, and Donna were kept away, too, and some of the other girls—women—in the League. Can you believe they pulled something like this?"
"You know it's because they're trying to keep you safe."
"I don't care!" she kind of snaps. "They probably need our help and now their damn pride is going to get them killed!"
"Artemis," Iris points out, "this has nothing to do with them underestimating you. This is about making sure you live to see another day. And you may not like it—because I know I hate it when Barry keeps me in the dark about this stuff—but you know as well as I do that if they believe what they're doing is the right thing, then once they get it into their heads there's not talking them out of it."
Artemis scoffs and shakes her head. "You're right. I don't like it."
Iris gives a smile. "Want to know how I get through it?" Artemis looks at her. "I cook up a feast."
Iris laughs. "Well, Barry can go through the entire fridge and pantry in a day if I let him, and if you add Wally to that mix, then…" She shrugs.
"I'm kind of pissed at him right now," Artemis reminds, smiling despite her words, "so I don't know how cooking for him will drill that into his impossibly thick skull."
"Arty, Wally knows you better than that. He'll come home knowing how badly you want to shove an arrow through his chest." Artemis laughs, shakes her head. "And they are coming home, by the way. Cooking for them tells them we know that, that they're always going to come back to us."
She walks around Artemis and hooks the handles of some of the plastic bags with her fingers. "So are you helping me or what?"
Artemis smiles and grabs the rest of the groceries.
They keep the TV on in the living room and turn the volume up so they can hear it from the kitchen as they cook.
It's something Iris always does because, for as long as she's known Barry, she is always perfectly capable of slaving away in her kitchen when she's stressed. Barry has even joked that her food always tastes so much more delicious like this, when it's prepared as a distraction, and that maybe he should get into trouble more often if it meant she'd be cooking while he was gone.
(She hit him with a dish towel afterward.)
Iris walks over to the stove where Artemis is stirring red sauce with ground beef, diced tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, and a few different cheeses. They went with pasta because it was quick and easy to make in monumental proportions; plus, her—their—boys love garlic bread. She also sliced baguettes and toasted them, then glazed them with olive oil and chopped up some more tomatoes and onions and turned it into bruschetta.
"What?" Iris asks when she sees the look Artemis is giving the sauce.
"I don't know how you do it." Artemis looks at her, shrugs a little. "Being out there in the field and on missions, right beside him, is easy. I couldn't… I don't know how I'd handle having to sit back and just deal with everything, and yet you make it seem so…"
Iris smiles gently. "I've had a lot of practice."
"I'd be kind of terrified. I am terrified," Artemis admits, shaking her head. "I honestly don't know how you're not afraid right now."
"Of course I am." Iris reaches over and sweeps some of Artemis's bangs from her face, tucking it behind her ear. "But sometimes it's a good thing. If you love something enough, of course there's going to be that fear of having to give it up." She exhales. "It sucks, but going through all these emotions is just part of realizing how far that love extends."
Artemis has this kind of distant look in her eyes, her hand still absently turning the wooden spoon.
"Artemis," Iris says, and the girl looks at her. "How much does Wally mean to you?"
She exhales a shaky breath, mumbles, "Well, since my heart hasn't stopped trying to pound its way out of my chest since I heard the news on the radio, he must be a pretty big deal." Iris smiles and Artemis switches off the burner. "I think this is finally done. I'm kind of starved now."
"That means that it'll taste amazing," Iris tells her. "And that they should be home soon."
"How do you know?"
Then they can suddenly hear the sound of a speeding car coming closer and closer, skidding to a stop just outside the house, and Iris laughs, "Lover's intuition?"
Iris can see Artemis's hands gripping the edge of the countertop, as if trying to keep from running out that door to meet them before they have a chance to get out of the car. She places a hand on the girl's shoulder and squeezes, mostly to get rid of her own urge to run out there as well, and they just stand there and listen to the sound of the engine cutting off and car doors being open and shut.
When they hear keys being jammed into the doorknob, Iris walks out of the kitchen and only has a fraction of a second to see something blur in her vision before arms are being wrapped around her waist and she's being lifted and twirled in the air. A hand is being pushed through her hair and she ducks her head and presses their lips together.
Barry sets her back on her feet but keeps an arm tight around the small of her back. "I'm home," he says needlessly, and she'll never, ever get tired of hearing him say it.
"For the fastest man alive, you kept me waiting long enough."
His chest rumbles with his deep chuckle and he kisses her lips again.
"That goes for you, too." Artemis is standing with her arms crossed and glaring at Wally, who can't seem to stop drinking in the sight of her. "Well say something!"
"I'm sorry I tricked you, alright?" he blurts out, the words rushing all at once, "Well, more like I—we—kept it from you guys. And, okay, I'm not that sorry. I mean, I'm sorry that I didn't tell you, but I'm not sorry for trying to keep you safe. I know you probably hate me right now, but—"
"God, you're such an idiot, Wally."
But there are tears in her eyes and a small smile on her face, and when she yanks him forward, she fists the material of his shirt so tightly that her knuckles turn white.
He blinks a little before squeezing his eyes shut and hugging her back just as tightly, then tugs her back and melds their lips together when she begins to pull away. Wally is the closest thing they have to a son, so Iris isn't surprised when she gets a little teary, too, and feels Barry kissing her temple.
"I'm still extremely pissed off at you," Artemis clarifies. She's attempting to sound stern but it comes out breathless.
Wally nods (of course he knows this), but there's this adorably hopeful smile on his face like he could care less about how much trouble he's in so long as he gets to be with her.
Actually, that sounds exactly right.
"How about we eat?" Iris suggests, "Before everything gets cold."
"Is that garlic bread I smell?" Barry asks. "And pasta. I definitely smell your world famous pasta."
"Just because our family and friends like it doesn't make it world famous," Iris tells him.
"Well, you are my world, so yes, it actually does."
Even after already being married, Barry still makes her blush like a love-struck schoolgirl. She shoves his cheek playfully and says, "That's one of the cheesiest things you've ever said." Wally laughs as Barry just shrugs, looking highly pleased with himself. "And besides, Artemis actually took care of the sauce tonight."
"Don't sound so surprised, Bay Watch," Artemis says with a roll of her eyes, crossing her arms over her chest. "I know how to cook."
"Could've fooled me." Artemis scoffs, and Wally is laughing again as he pulls her back when she tries to pry herself free and sets his hands at her waist. "I'm kidding. I can't wait to eat it, then!"
"You can't wait to eat anything."
Barry and Wally laugh heartily, and when Iris looks at Artemis, she's biting her lower lip and watching Wally with the same kind of intensity that he was staring at her just a minute ago. Then she catches Artemis's eye from over her nephew's shoulder and the two girls share a smile. At the very least, they could afford to put their fears aside for the rest of the night and enjoy having their speedsters back home.