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a real damn family

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When Rose showed up at his apartment Roy barely noticed. One minute he was checking to make sure Lian was still happily watching whatever show was on, the next he was sorting through a bunch of parts for whatever kind of gadget he’d thought up at 4am the night before, and by the time he’d gone to check on Lian again Rose was there. She’d sent him off, told him that she’d watch Lian for a while while he took care of whatever he needed to.

“And besides, I think me and Lian could use some girl time, don’t you think?”

Lian’s giggles followed Roy out the door. In all honesty he had a laundry list of things he needed to get done from picking up parts, to putting parts together, to checking over a case for Nightwing, to seeing if he could get a hold of Jade for the sake of Lian’s birthday. Obviously he wasn’t going to accomplish all of that in a couple hours out of the house, but he could at least pick up things to make dinner for him and Lian tonight.

He manages to get a few errands done, even manages to ask around a bit on Dick’s behalf before he’s itching to get back home. It’s not that he doesn’t trust Rose with Lian, he’s long past that. It’s just that everything’s been hectic and Lian’s the one grounding thing in his life and even a few hours out of the apartment and away from her is setting his nerves on fire. Besides, there’s no chance in hell he’s going to willingly miss tucking her in ever again.

The first thing Roy notices when he gets back is Dinah’s bike parked out front. He takes a moment to slump down, wracking his brain trying to think what he could have possibly done wrong to warrant her sudden appearance. When he comes up with nothing, he hopes she’s just here for a friendly visit, but braces for the worst as he pushes through the door. What he isn’t braced for is confetti and loud yells of “surprise!”

Roy squints, muttering under his breath about how he’s going to have to vacuum that up now when he actually gets the chance to look around. Alongside the two girls Roy left just a few hours ago, Dinah and Connor are there, all four of them wearing little party hats. Rose is kneeling down next to Lian, the pair holding a small, obviously homemade, cake out to him. “Uh, hey… did I forget my birthday or something?”

Dinah laughs, light and carefree in a way he hasn’t heard her sound much since Oliver… Since Oliver. She walks over to him, putting a party hat on his head, making sure to snap the elastic under his chin. “No, but with how you’ve been acting lately, I’m sure you will anyway.”

Connor offers him a smile. “Lian told us about how busy you’ve been, and we figured we’d come by to give you a hand.” He waves gestures vaguely to the living room which looks approximately twelve times cleaner than it was when he left.

“Plus, I promised Lian we’d bake a cake,” Rose offers, blushing a little. “So we decided we’d go all out for it.”

Lian squirms her way out of Rose’s arms and runs and jumps at Roy. He catches her on automatic, spinning her around a little in the cramped doorway. She giggles and hugs him tight, smashing her face against his. “So this is your fault, huh pumpkin?”

“‘M not a pumpkin!” She leans back a little to grab at Roy’s face and smoosh his cheeks between her hands. “Rose let me help with the cake! And and aunty Dinah let me help her with dinner and! And connor let me ride on his shoulders while he cleaned!”

Roy raises his eyebrows, surveying the ragtag group in front of him. “Yeah? You had quite the day huh?”

Dinah pats him on the back, smile softening a bit as she starts walking further into the apartment. “Come on, dinner’s still hot. It’s Ollie’s recipe.”

Roy pauses at that, even as Lian wiggles down and runs along after her and Rose. Connor offers him a nod and another smile before following along. He has to take a moment to collect himself, to keep the sting in his eyes at bay before he goes with along, slinging an arm around Connor’s shoulders as they go.

As it turns out, the four of them managed to clean a good chunk of the apartment up, excluding his workshop. Dinah even made a pretty close approximation of Oliver’s famous chilli; of course he’s telling her it’s perfect. No need to wreck any delusions she may have of making chilli anywhere near as good as Oliver’s was. The cake has way too much sugar, and about twice the amount of icing it needed, but he risks the cavities to eat a whole piece for Lian’s sake, who is more than happy to eat her slice and the slice Connor thinks he manages to sneak her under the table without Roy noticing. And maybe when Connor winds up with icing in his hair because of it, Roy deserves the all out food fight he starts, even if the teams are stacked 4v1.

Rose, Dinah, and Connor promise to take care of the mess they made while Roy takes care of the bigger mess: Lian. Roy even goes so far as to run her a bubble bath, letting her give him a bubble beard while he washes the cake bits from her hair. Twenty minutes later, Roy comes back into the once again clean living room with a warm and pajama’d Lian to watch some random movie Rose chose.

Lian doesn’t last very long after that; the excitement of the day taking its toll on her as her breathing evens out and she falls asleep hugging Roy’s chest.

“You know,” Connor’s voice is soft, a little sad but mostly to keep from waking Lian. “I’m sure if Ollie were here… he’d be happy to see us like this.”

Roy looks down at his daughter, snoring softly against his chest and smiles. “Yeah,” he punches Connor’s shoulder lightly and grins up at Dinah and Rose, “like a real damn family."