If I gave you a 4,000 word chapter would that make up for the massive delay?
Because that's what you're getting :)
A/N: I don't own Young Justice but I do own every spelling and grammar mistake...
"Barry, darling, did you remember to get milk this morning?" Iris calls from her spot in front of the kitchen counter.
Before her l) a pile of cook books and loose recipes that have accumulated over the years. If there's one thing Iris loves to do, it's cook. The pages of the books are well thumbed and slightly yellowed, and it's easy to spot her favourite one because the once vibrant cover has long since faded. For years her sister has been trying to get her to put all of her recipes on the computer, but there's just something comforting about flipping through a book to find that perfect dish.
"Barry!" She calls again, placing the cook book she's holding back onto the counter.
"Huh?" Barry's head appears around the corner. "Did I get what now?"
"Oh milk. Uh," he goes over to the refrigerator and opens it. "Nope," he says decisively.
Iris rolls her eyes at him, "I could have done that. Can you go get some please? I want to make this," she holds up the recipe she's decided on; some fancy French styled crème brulee, "for tonight and I can't without milk."
"It's your birthday. Let me cook for all of us tonight," he murmurs persuasively, wrapping his arms around her waist.
"Uh uh. My birthday, I get to do what I want. And I want to cook. You can get milk for me though."
"Anything for the birthday girl." Barry teases, kissing her. "Back in a flash."
He's gone before Iris has a chance to roll her eyes at him again, but she does it anyway before turning back to her recipe.
Place the cream, milk and vanilla seeds in a medium saucepan over medium heat…
It has been three days since Roy had turned up to their place and asked them to babysit his daughter.
Well, his and Jade's.
And technically it's only been two and a something days, but the way Artemis is biting her nails, you'd think it'd been two and a something weeks.
And the way she keeps sneaking looks at her archery trophies when she thinks he isn't looking is not helping the situation.
He should say something.
Wally sits on the floor surrounded by children's toys; fluffy ones, educational ones and one that squeaks "I LOVE YOU," when you squeeze it. Ollie has given them a lot more than just a cot; right now it looks like a toy factory exploded in their living room. Wally suspects most of it will travel back to Star City with Ollie and Dinah when Roy comes back.
If Roy comes back.
But despite the toys, Lian finds the dog far more exciting than any toy could ever be.
Poor Spitfire, he thinks, as Lian proceeds to pull on the dog's ear, using it to clamber on his back.
"Whoop, let's hold back on the dog riding until Grampa Ollie buys you a saddle 'kay kiddo?" Wally says scooping Lian up in his arms. She squeals loudly and holds her arms out for Artemis.
"I guess we know who the favourite is then," Wally jokes, plonking Lian down in Artemis' lap. The first thing the infant yanks is another of her favourite toys: a handful of blonde hair.
"Ow, ow, ow!" Artemis yelps and Wally quickly detangles Lian's fist from Artemis' head. Once her hand and several strands of blonde hair are free Lian decides she's had enough of this lap business and wriggles onto the floor, making a beeline for the cuddly, or in Wally's opinion, demon possessed, 'I LOVE YOU' teddy.
Wally smirks at his girlfriend who is carefully inspecting the side of her head, "You continued fighting without a complaint that time you broke a rib, but a six month old pulls your hair and you scream blue murder?"
"Yes. Ow." Artemis fiercely rubs the spot on her head. "Ow. Am I bald?"
Wally gets up off the couch and inspects her hair for a second, "Yup. The back of your head is completely bald," he declares dramatically.
Artemis elbows him in the stomach, "Har har. Funny." She responds drily, dragging out the 'y' before going back to biting her nails and staring at the clock.
Well, at least she's not staring at her archery trophies anymore.
Wally sits down on the floor next to Lian. "They'll be back."
"What? Oh. I know. I just…" She sighs loudly and puts her feet up on the coffee table, "This whole thing is lot more than babysitting you know? Like what happens when they come back? I highly doubt my sister is going to become Miss Housewife. I mean, can you imagine Jade cooking? She made me toast once when we were little; did you know that toasters can catch on fire? And what happens when Roy wants to go on a mission or something? Is he gonna turn his quiver into a kiddy carrier?" Artemis tips her head back on the couch and groans loudly. She's been thinking about this ever since Roy turned up on their doorstep and it sort of all just came out at once. Normally she's good to 'go with the flow' or whatever it is her sister does, but it's not just Jade anymore. Not even Jade and Roy. It's Jade, Roy and Lian.
She groans again. This whole idea of how a normal family should work is still relatively new to Artemis.
But even then she's pretty sure this isn't how a normal family acts.
Normal families, she supposes, probably have a lot less spandex in their wardrobes.
Less weapons too.
"Hey," Wally says, tickling Lian who squeals in delight, "stop worrying. We're superheroes, what's the worst that can happen?"
"Don't quote The Incredibles at me Wallace West. I know where you live."
The streets aren't busy today, and Barry has no trouble staying out of sight as he zips to the store for milk. He could easily walk there in ten minutes, but he wants to spend as much time with Iris as he can. With six Leaguers off world, the rest of them have been trying to cover in whatever ways they can. Unfortunately covering means taking more shifts up at the Watchtower.
Barry slows to a stop in an alleyway just across the street and strolls into the store. The bell gives a little ding and the owner looks up from his place at the till. Barry gives him a nod and goes over to the chillers. He grabs a carton of milk, and after a second thought, plucks a bouquet of red roses from its holder.
"Twenty dollars." The owner says and Barry has to dig around in his pocket for a couple of seconds before he pulls out a handful of crumpled bills.
"I hope she likes them." The owner grins as Barry grabs the milk and bouquet off the counter.
"I know she will." He replies and heads outside.
As he begins to walk home, Barry actually starts to whistle. No crime needs his attention, no villain needs their butt whooped and he's about to go home and spend the evening with his lovely wife and family.
All is well in the world.
Of course at this particular moment, just as he's about to speed home, his 'in case of emergency' earpiece bleeps and Tornado announces that Barry's presence is requested immediately at the Watchtower.
Iris hums to herself as she twirls the vacuum around the room. Barry isn't back yet, and the chickens are in the oven, the salads are in the fridge, so despite still having to make the dessert, everything is pretty much ready for tonight. She goes over the rug one last time before switching it off at the wall.
She wanders back into the kitchen just as the front door opens and Barry zooms in.
"Justice League stuff at the Watchtower I'll be back as soon as I can I have your milk and flowers for you red ones because I love you now I have to go but I love you bye."
And he's gone again.
Well, Iris thinks, as she inspects the bouquet, at least he remembered milk.
The three of them are sitting at the kitchen table. Lian is in her high chair - another Oliver Queen buy - with Spitfire sitting dutifully underneath, readily available to lick up stray food that might fall his way. So far only a few spoonfuls of blueberry yogurt have found its way below.
While Artemis checks the baby formula instructions, Wally rustles around in the fridge. He emerges with half the leftover lasagne they had three nights about and chucks it in a heatproof dish before putting it in the microwave.
He steals half of Artemis' sandwich while he waits for the timer to reach zero. Not that she minds; she got used to him stealing her food a long time ago.
Plus she knows where his secret stash of chocolate is.
Wally munches on the sandwich and glances at the calendar on the corkboard beside the pantry. The corkboard was his idea, mainly because Artemis kept losing her car keys and bowl they used to keep the keys in was thrown at his head during an argument they had that one time.
His attention is drawn to today's date, which has something underlined three times.
Something important obviously.
'AUNT IRIS'S BIRTHDAY'
Wally vaguely remembers a phone call from his mom about a week ago about dinner at Barry and Iris's but with Roy and Lian, it slipped his mind.
"Ooh crapcrapcrapcrapcrap." He mutters.
Artemis puts down the baby bottle she's been testing on her wrist, "What's wrong?"
"Aunt Iris' birthday. Not only did I forget because I am the worst nephew ever, but I also forgot we're invited over for dinner tonight."
Artemis looks over at Lian who is happily smacking her hands on the plastic tray of her high chair. "Would you like to maybe ring Iris and explain we will be bringing my infant niece with us? Or maybe we could just turn up and see how that goes?"
Wally smirks as he imagines then pulling up to Barry and Iris' house with Lian.
Shrieking. Lots of shrieking.
How come everyone in our lives jump to one conclusion when Lian is involved?
As he punches in Barry and Iris' home number, he watches Lian fling her yoghurt spoon in Artemis's direction. He tries very hard not to laugh as it hits her square on the nose.
He's laughing so hard he misses Iris picking up the phone.
"Aunt Iris! Hi!" He splutters while Artemis shoots daggers his way as she prises Lian free and carries her to the bathroom to clean up the remnants of lunch out of her hair.
For someone who didn't know the words to 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' until she were sixteen, Artemis is pretty good at this whole looking-after-a-tiny-human thing.
"Wally? Are you alright?"
His aunt sounds so worried Wally stops laughing immediately, "Yes Aunt Iris, I'm fine but, uh, about dinner tonight, Artemis' sister and Roy had a baby and they went off to find real Roy and they left the baby with us so we'll be bringing her tonight."
There's a slight pause.
On the other end, Iris lets out a laughs, "Oh how wonderful! Artemis is an aunt! Let me ring your mother and get her to bring some of your old baby stuff."
Wally groans inwardly, remembering the pink high chair his distant great, great, great something or rather aunt had sent his parents for Christmas one year. Not wanting to be mean, they'd photographed him in it and sent them to her. Unfortunately, his mom had also stuck copies in the family album.
He was so not going to live this down.
There's a small ding from Iris' end. "Oh Wally, I have to go! I will see you, Artemis and…"
"Lian. How cute!" There's another, slightly louder ding in the background, "I will see you, Artemis and Lian later tonight then. Bye Wally."
"Bye Aunt Iris."
That was considerably anti climatic, Wally thinks as he puts the phone down and tries to figure out what time they'll get to Barry and Iris' if Artemis starts getting ready now.
"We are not taking my six month old niece through a zeta tube!" Artemis says from her place in the bathroom. Wally doesn't know why she uses a torture device to make her eyelashes curl but that's women for you.
"I went through one when I was little – "
"And look how you turned out!"
Okay he walked into that one.
"They're harmless babe. It's just simple planetary transportation by dematerialising particles and then atomically reconstructing them at the destination location. Nothing like boom tubes, now they can get hairy."
"Well that's good…no! Wally! Stop doing that thing where you rationalise things with science and make it sound okay."
"It was hardly a science-y rationalisation babe." He says kissing her, "besides, how many time have we used zeta tubes, and we're okay. Besides, how do you think Roy got here with her in the first place?"
He's right, but Artemis doesn't want to admit it.
Her face says otherwise though and Wally knows he's won. He grins and kisses her on the cheek. "Besides, if we zeta tube, you can spend more time getting ready." He dashes laughing away as Artemis throws her mascara at him.
It's been a long time since Artemis has stepped inside a zeta tube. Apart from visiting her mom in Gotham, or Wally's parents in Central City, there aren't a lot of places that they need to zeta tube to. Besides, both families tended to visit them instead of the other way around.
Recognised Artemis, B07.
This isn't weird at all.
Using a zeta tube for something other than team related stuff.
Artemis arrives in first, and programs Lian in for authorised entry. She figures Roy would have deleted her entry the first time.
Things like that he's careful with.
Other things, not so much.
Permission granted Lian Harper, A07, authorisation: Artemis, B07.
Recognised Kid Flash, B03.
Lian is surprisingly undisturbed by her zeta tube trip and sits contentedly on Wally's hip.
Because Barry is really one of the only superheroes operating from Central City, the Justice League installed the zeta tube reasonably close to his house.
Which is quite thoughtful of them when you think about it.
They make it to the West house just as Wally's parents are pulling up. Mary waves at them both from the passenger seat.
She's already out of the car before Rudy has a change to properly park.
"Wally!" She cries, enveloping her son in a bone crushing hug.
Luckily he had the foresight to hand Lian to Artemis.
"I swear you lose more freckles every time I see you! Artemis darling how are you?" Mary turns her attention to Artemis, who is trying to detangle Lian's hand from her hair again.
With an experienced hand Mary detangles Lian's little hand from Artemis' hair. "There you go dear. My, isn't she a cutie?"
Artemis hikes Lian up higher on her hip and boops Lian on the nose, "She is isn't she?" Lian gurgles in response, which just solidifies her cuteness and makes everyone, even Wally, want to go awwwww in a really cliché voice.
Before the sound escapes from his lips, Iris appears in the doorway, "I thought I heard voices! Come in! Come in!"
The four of them make their way inside; Rudy joining back of their little group after parking the car carrying something that looks an awful lot like a pink high chair.
"Where's Uncle Barry?" He asks trying to take off his left shoe with his right foot. After thirty seconds he gives up and bends down to untie them.
If there was ever any doubt that he once ran into a wall by accident there isn't any more.
"Watchtower." Iris calls from the kitchen.
There's a slight pause as Wally and Artemis exchange a look. They know all about the situation with the Justice League and the six that are currently off world from Nightwing. It's a subtle reminder of the life they didn't quite leave behind and no matter how hard they try; they'll never quite be rid of it.
Of course, they wouldn't have it any other way.
Luckily Wally's stomach growls ravenously and the tension that was beginning to settle vanished as quickly as it began.
Lian finds this new sound hilarious and starts to giggle uncontrollably.
"I'm glad someone finds my pain funny. Can we eat? I'm starving!"
Artemis mutters something that sounds an awful lot like 'what else is new' as they move into the dining room.
"We brought Wally's old high chair for Lian," Rudy explains, setting up the horrible monstrosity. It's a blasphemous shade of pink, with unicorn stickers peeling from almost every inch of the thing. The word 'princess' must have been painted on the back, but most of the letters have been scratched off so it now reads 'pine'.
If a six year girl threw up, it would look like this high chair.
Artemis bites back a snort as she places Lian in it and raises both eyebrows at Wally. They're so high they almost disappear off her face.
The speedster flushes a deep red, "It was a gift! From my great, great, great, great something twice removed aunt! She was blind and deaf and really weird!"
"I see." Artemis says as nonchalantly as she can. She makes a mental image to take a photo of it later and send it to Nightwing.
And everybody else in her contacts list.
Iris steps out of the kitchen carrying a huge bowl of something, Artemis isn't too sure what but it smells amazing.
"Barry said he wouldn't be long but he hasn't phoned and I made plenty so we may as well dig in."
Wally looks up from his plate that's already piled high with food to find everyone staring at him. "What?"
His mother laughs, "It's nice to know some things never change."
Barry Allen is late.
He'd tried explaining to Tornado that he needed to be somewhere else, but Tornado had simply turned around and asked if Barry needed the bathroom.
And okay it wasn't that funny; Oliver didn't need to laugh so hard.
Or for so long.
But whatever, the meeting was over, he'd punched Ollie in the arm really hard and now he was on the way home to have dinner with his wonderful wife and family.
Recognised, Flash. O4.
It takes him a matter of seconds to get changed and scoot home. Barry slows to a stop just around the corner and sees Rudy and Mary's car. There's no sign of either Artemis' or Wally's car, so Barry assumes they couldn't make it. Shame. He was looking forward to seeing them. It's been awhile since they'd made the trip over. And when they did he was usually either on patrol or up at the Watchtower.
Barry fumbles with his keys for a second, before unlocking the front door. Laughter fills his ears and his stomach rumbles at the smell of Iris' cooking.
"We're in here babe," Iris's disembodied voice calls from the dining room.
Barry gives Iris a quick kiss as he sits down at the table. He's about to grab a plate and dig in before he realises Artemis and Wally are sitting at the table.
It's about then when he sees the baby sitting in Wally's old high chair.
No one is quite sure what to say, but it's rather funny trying to watch Barry understand the situation.
"Baby." He says cleverly.
Wally watches as his uncle looks from him to Artemis, from Artemis to Lian, from Lian to him and back again. They'd all talked about this earlier and agreed to see how long it took Barry to draw that conclusion.
And it seems he was doing just that.
"I know it's been a long time since I've seen you guys...but, uh…baby?"
It's a mixture of helplessness and complete and utter astonishment.
It's quite hilarious actually.
Lian squeals loudly which only confuses Barry more and the face is he making is so hilarious that Wally lets out a half laugh, half snort and manages to choke on his drink at the same time.
"It's Artemis' niece Uncle Barry," he says between splutters.
Wally is still half choking so Artemis steps in to explain, "This is Lian. Roy and Jade's baby."
The look on Barry's face appears again.
"I know right?!" Wally says, apparently having recovered from his coughing fit. "My face exactly!"
Barry nods slowly. "Right. Let me grab some food and while I eat, you two can tell me everything. I take it Ollie knows?"
Wally and Artemis nod.
"Good. I can't wait to change his name in my phone to Grampa Ollie."
It's late by the time Artemis and Wally leave. After story time and one hilarious phone call by Barry to 'Grampa Ollie', Iris brought out her amazing crème brulee and Rudy pulled out a pack of cards and they spent the rest of the night trying to prove Wally was cheating at Go Fish.
They say their goodbyes and begin their walk to the zeta tube. Lian is sleeping on Wally's shoulder, thumb in mouth, clearly exhausted from her first experience with the West/Allen family. Artemis can't blame her; the first time Wally brought her over, she'd conked out on the couch and Wally had run her back to Gotham.
Which was nice, but waking up a fair distance away from where you went to sleep is a bit unnerving.
They make it home without a hitch and Artemis kicks off her shoes the second she's unlocked the door.
"I'll put her to bed," Wally says softly as Lian let's out a little snore.
Artemis nods sleepily as she drops onto the sofa and switches the TV on. Wally joins her in a few moments and she curls into him.
They stay like that for about point five milliseconds before there's a knock at the door.
"Are. You. Serious?" Artemis says, suddenly wide awake. Wally is pretty much asleep so she carefully untangles herself from him and goes to the door.
It's like someone put their address on a billboard or something.
Artemis yanks the door open.
She closes the door.
Probably just the wind.
Artemis spins around and sitting at the kitchen table, calmly inspecting her nails, is Jade.
Dedicated to Julia; thanks for all your help lovely!