"Mal, you sure this is a good idea?" Karen tried her best to appear rational, but her boyfriend could see a hint of worry and terror flash across her eyes, considering the consequences of what their circumstance could bring, "This is...we've never...it's a baby!"
"Yeah, yeah, I know," Mal nodded, wrapping his arm around her waist and pulling her in for a kiss on the forehead, "It is a baby. But from what Red Arrow has told us, she's a sweet kid. And she's three...or four, which means she's passed that terrible two stage or whatever it's called."
"But Red Arrow isn't the one that called us," Karen reminded him, "And neither was Jade. This just sounds fishy to me. Why would Arse - "
"I know you two haven't seen eye-to-eye in a long time," Mal interrupted while they walked up the stairs of Red Arrow's apartment complex, "But he obviously trusts both of us enough to take care of the kid. Besides, he really doesn't have much options when it comes to dependable, responsible young couples."
Karen rolled her eyes at that, leaning into his touch a little more, "Ain't that the truth. How did we get that title, anyhow? I mean, remember all the crazy situations we found ourselves in high school? Like the one time we spray-painted the opposing stands' side with yellow fairies?"
"Or the night I snuck you out of your house and we made out on the roof of the science building?" Mal smirked at that memory, recalling just how thrilled he was to have Karen squashed up against his body, her fingers and tongue eliciting sensations and emotions he had never dreamed possible...
"Mind out of the gutter now, handsome," Karen swatted at his shoulder, though the twinkle in her eyes didn't go unnoticed as they approached the door, "We're here to take care of a baby, not make one."
"Mmmm...you mind if I take you up on that offer when we get home?" Mal whispered, pushing his head closer to hers, "Those sheets do look really good on you..."
"Mal..." Karen trailed, eyes lidded, her breath soft and light against his face -
"Ugh, gag me," a third voice had their eyes widening like saucers, pulling away from one another as the door swung open to reveal a disgusted eighteen year-old Roy Harper, "There are better places to do that than in front of my door."
Mal chuckled, clearing his throat out while giving Roy an apologetic smile, "Ah, ha...sorry about that, Roy. Just got carried away for a sec."
"And here I thought you two were the most responsible," Roy's stare flashed over to Karen, his obvious disapproval of her company coming off in waves, "But then again, when you're involved with a snitch, unpredictability is bound to occur."
"That was over three years ago, Harper!" Karen hissed, taking a daring step forward. The boy was taller than her now, but Karen still lacked a healthy sense of fear towards most angry men, "Get over it! Your life has been just fine since then. Besides, I've heard the little stories about you and - "
"Okay, where's the kid?" Mal put an arm between the two, unsure how talking about Roy's love life would help the situation. Besides, it wasn't really there place to know, "Don't want you late for anything you gotta do, right?"
The younger boy unlocked his glare from Karen and gave into a weary sigh, directing his attention back to Mal, "Yeah...I have dinner plans. And it's almost been three weeks. I'm sure you know what that feels like."
"Indeed I do," Mal replied.
"Yo, Lian!" Roy called back into the house, "You have visitors!"
A squeal echoed throughout the hallway a tiny footsteps scurried towards the door. Soon, Lian was in plain view, a curious beam stretched across her chubby face and waves of red hair bouncing off her shoulders, "For me, Uncle Roy?"
"For you," Roy said, and Mal couldn't help but grin at the way the boy's face softened as she ran up to meet the trio, "There going to be taking care of you tonight while I'm gone. Mommy and Daddy gave the okay and everything."
"Ooo, okie!" Lian jumped, "When you coming back?"
"It's when are you coming back and I'll be home around 11," Roy replied, kneeling down to give the kid a firm hug, "But you'll probably be asleep by then, brat. Don't cause too much trouble, okay?"
"I won't!" she stomped a hand against her chest, "Count on me, Uncle!"
"Alright then," Roy smiled again as he ruffled her hair and stood back up, "I'll leave it to you two, then. I...thanks, I guess."
"You're welcome, Roy," Karen replied, eyes much kinder than they had been before, "We'll take good care of her."
"Yeah, you have a good time," Mal nodded, walking into the doorway as Roy walked out, "And tell your friend we say hi. Been awhile since either one of us dropped into the Labs."
"I'll tell him," Roy waved as he hurried down the hall.
Mal closed the door behind them and watched as his girlfriend approached the little Lian. Her smile was dazzling, her hands almost aching to lift the toddler up high into the air, "Hello, sweetheart! I'm Karen and that's Mal. Are you hungry?"
"Mmmhmm," Lian hummed, racing into the kitchen, "Marshmallow and peanut butter sandwich please!"
"Uh...what?" Karen blinked, turning back to Mal, "Did she just say...?"
Her befuddled expression stirred Mal up into a rowdy laugh, taking her hand into his, "C'mon, baby girl. Looks like Arsenal is more of softie than we thought."