Someone prompted me to write FlashFam bonding using the words unconditional, secure, and purpose. I doubt this is what he/she had in mind, but I took I more liberal take on those words. :)
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
It's a testament to the power of Iris's determination that she provokes such an unadulterated look of terror on one of Earth's greatest superheroes.
"Under no circumstances or extraneous conditions are you to come home without everything on this list. Understood?"
Barry takes the list from her hands gingerly.
"No," she interrupts immediately, finger pointed directly onto his chest. He can feel her fingernail scratching over the fabric and swallows hugely. "No ifs, ands, or buts."
And then suddenly, a giggle behind him alerts him to the presence of Bart covering his mouth with his hand and Wally staring at him with hardly-disguised exasperation.
"Gramma said butts."
"Tell me again why you're both here?" Barry asks for the umpteenth time.
"Bonding time, Grampa!" Bart cries out, head hanging out the window of the car. Barry can see through the rearview mirror his grandson's tongue hanging out and his eyes scrunched against the wind.
With a long-suffering sigh, Wally powers the window to raise, forcing Bart to stick his head back inside the car.
"Iris doesn't trust me on my own, does she?" Barry mutters, wondering if it's too soon to put child-safety locks on the doors.
Wally snorts and rolls his eyes with a mix of amusement and fondness as he answers, "It must be pregnancy brain because I seriously have no idea why she thinks we're going to be helpful."
Then Wally and Bart start a war, each trying to roll the window up and down respectfully. It's relatively harmless until Bart leans over the front seat to lick Wally's hair and then things start to get personal.
Barry sighs and wonders why they didn't just run to the store.
Maybe they should have started with the first item they recognized on the list, not just the first item Iris had written.
The three speedsters stand noiselessly in front of the display, Wally and Barry each resting a hand on Bart's shoulders to keep him from vibrating in place.
"What's the purpose of this again?" Wally finally asks, squinting at display with all the scrutiny of a scientist in training.
"It's a wipes warmer," Bart answers, reading the bubbly script splattered all over the boxes. He leans in closer to read the fine print. "It warms baby wipes."
They are silent for a little while longer before Barry speaks up, a little more awed than he had intended.
"Do you think they make it for adults?"
Wally and Bart stare at him, collectively shuddering while Wally pulls Bart closer as though shielding him.
With the cart half-full, Barry starts to foolishly believe that maybe this is actually a manageable task.
That shakily crafted illusion is immediately shattered as they witness a baby spit up on a woman's face and immediately begin howling at ear-splitting levels. The crying begins a chain reaction and within minutes, all babies in a thirty-foot radius are echoing the same shrieking cry.
"I am never having sex again," Wally whispers adamantly as the tired mother wipes the spit-up off her face.
"Yeah, okay," Bart snorts.
"Shut up," Wally retorts, pushing away Bart's elbow where it's prodding into his side. "You're thirteen, what do you know?"
Bart puffs himself up, standing on his tiptoes to reach maximum height. "I'll have you know I am very mature for my age in the future."
The look on Wally's face promises a very crude response and if Barry was a slower man, he might not have cut him off quickly enough.
Pulling their cart away from the noise-infested aisle, he speaks rapidly.
"You are both eight years old and will never talk about sex around me again."
He's gonna be great at helping the twins through puberty.
"Okay," Barry says, pinching the bridge of his nose as he stands before his family sitting by the security office. "Why did you put in him the crib?"
"As a frame of reference for when the twins arrive," Wally answers promptly, not even marginally abashed at being apprehended by mall cops.
"I am not a baby," Bart whines, his hair practically bristling with indignation.
"You're bratty like a baby," Wally smarts, arms crossed and expression superior.
Bart opens his mouth to respond, but Barry throws his hands out in desperation.
"Okay, stop!" He waits until they both stare at him before sighing. "I'm counting to ten and then the two of you are going to love each other."
He shuts his eyes and counts to ten and when he opens his eyes, he finds Wally glaring at him and smacking a sarcastic kiss to Bart's fluffy hair.
They're placing the last of the shopping bags in the trunk of the car. Or rather, Wally and Bart are putting the bags in place.
Barry is staring at the receipt and holding back a tiny sob as he stares at the total cost.
Wally spies the impressive number and lets out a low whistle.
"Just wait until you have to start buying diapers," Wally reminds him, completely unhelpfully and insensitively.
"And food," Bart pipes up.
"I didn't even think of that," Wally says suddenly, nodding so fast his red hair blurs. "Speedsters eat a lot."
"What?" This time Barry actually retains his capabilities enough to actually verbalize his terror.
Wally and Bart look at him in confusion before identical looks of comprehension dawn on their faces.
Bart approaches him cautiously, one hand patting his elbow sympathetically before dropping the bomb.
"Dad and Aunt Joan are both speedsters."
Immediate visions of babies running. And speedy crawling. And the food bills. Oh dear Lord, the food bills.
"Oh god. Oh my god. I did not prepare for this."
It takes half an hour and the combined efforts of Wally and Bart to calm Barry down from his impromptu panic attack in the Babies R Us parking lot.
Yeah. He's definitely a big damn hero.
"You know," Wally says thoughtfully, holding his chin in his hand and looking pensively at one of the car seats. "If we strap Bart down into the kiddy holder, floor the gas pedal, and then slam on the brakes, we'd be able to test well this bad boy works."
Barry and Bart stare at Wally for a long second before Wally sighs. He resigns himself to sitting in the back seat while a satisfied Bart moves into the coveted front seat like it's a throne.
"It would just be to make sure it was secure, God."
Hours later, when the boys are in the respective homes and Iris has approved Barry's purchases, Barry and Iris settle on the couch together.
The music on the radio plays quiet and sweet in the background and Iris tangles her fingers in Barry's grasp, guiding their joined hands to rest on her barely swollen tummy. He rubs his thumbs in small circles against the soft cotton of her shirt and hums contentedly into her messy ponytail.
Iris adjusts herself to smile at her husband and Barry sees, not for the first time, what people mean by women glowing with pregnancy.
She presses his hands a little tighter to her stomach and whispers happily, "I hope they're as good as Wally and Bart."
Barry smiles goofy and happy and kisses the tip of her nose as he thinks over the events of the day.