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parenting done right (or: attempt #1.4)

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It’d been a week since Sara had commandeered a very religious Allison Forkner for sex education on the Waverider, and she hadn’t been given the time of day to find someone else in between:

 

John had been in the library butt-naked for the majority of the week performing various spells despite Sara’s emphatic protests, many of which had the tendency to spontaneously combust mid-chant, and for reasons completely beyond her, the warlock seemed to have a very hard time understanding why spontaneous fiery implosions at random intervals on a time ship was a bad idea—by the third time that week, she was seriously debating just leaving him bare-ass-naked and stranded on some random island in French Polynesia (preferably well before the invention of technology), but according to Ava, that was "against Bureau regulations,” or something to that effect.

 

She truly suspects that every John Constantine encounter she painstakingly endures have all combined to take tens of years off her life.

 

(She found a grey strand while doing her hair this morning. Coincidence? She doesn’t believe in such things. She has half a mind to kill that bottle-blonde British leprechaun.)

 

Charlie, meanwhile, has some strange aversion to headphones that Sara doesn’t even bother trying to understand—which wouldn’t be a problem, if a) Charlie didn’t always have to be listening to music (she claimed it was therapeutic), b) her genres of choice were rock, punk rock, and screamo, in that order, and finally, c) she didn’t insist on listening to each song at a volume loud enough to wake every pour soul in the goddamned timeline. But as it was, Charlie’s obnoxious music would blare loudly through the Waverider at the most unreasonable of times, and Sara had decided that no matter what she’d told Ava to the contrary, there was no way in hell she’d be having kids any time soon, because this was absolute torture.

 

(Charlie had spouted off a string of very impressive and British-sounding expletives when Sara had walked in and swiftly embedded her favorite throwing knife into the shapeshifter’s ridiculously tricked-out speakers to make the God-awful noise stop, but in her defense, she’d reached her threshold for dealing with her Time Kids’ bullshit about nine clusterfuck missions ago.)

 

At one point, they’d actually lost Mona somewhere amongst the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 in Petrograde, Russia, a fact no one was savvy enough to notice until well after they’d gone to 1914 Sarajevo to ensure the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria did indeed get assassinated by one Gavrilo Princip to kick off World War I. Once they’d managed to get her back, Mona had gone on a long self-righteous rant about teamwork, and ‘no man left behind,’ and how Konane would never have done such a thing to her—and with the enthusiastic “help” of one very argumentative Zari Tomaz (her and Charlie were in a bit of a rough patch at the moment, hence the blasting of Green Day since early that morning), the young woman had promptly hulked out in terrifying fashion, breaking various pieces of high-tech equipment on the ship and subsequently setting fire to the Parlour while Mick and John loudly egged her on the background.

 

By all accounts, Sara had half a mind to just cancel the mandatory sex education for that week and just call it a day… But then she’d found the latest chapter of Mick’s fantasy novel laid unsuspectingly out on the dining table for anyone to see, and unfortunately, the responsible side of her (which, she’ll admit, wasn’t all that big) was practically screaming at her to fix the blatant oversights, because clearly her adoptive Time Morons hadn’t the slightest clue on what realistic sex was supposed to look like.

 

Granted, Mick’s writing would have disturbed Sara purely on the basis of how frequently he used the word “bulge” and “throbbing” and “moist,” but she couldn’t decide which was worse: that, or the horrifically unrealistic (and utterly gross) depiction of sexual relations between Bud, Garima, and various other alien-humanoid species.

 

There was one excerpt in which Garima encouraged Bud not to use a condom, because she could just “will the egg within her lady loins to dissolve,” for Christ’s sake—and that was just the tip of the over-sexed, hormone-rampant, boobs-and-butts-ridden pornographic iceberg.

 

Sara didn’t bother reading the rest of it (she’d already gone through three different gag-worthy sex scenes in the first four pages of the chapter, only one of which was between Bud and Garima) before deciding she most certainly shouldn’t cancel sex education that week for the good of all humanity, announcing at dinner that same night that sex education would be required, and that they would be meeting the next day on the Bridge after dinner to receive said education; no exceptions.

 

Meanwhile, Sara had scrambled high and low looking for a suitable sex education teacher, even going so far as to ask Gideon to run a search, and guess what? Nothing.

 

They were all either booked with teaching their own sessions to kids and teenagers, which Sara didn’t dare intervening with, because adults with no knowledge of sex was about a hundred times worse than clueless kids—she can certainly attest to that; much better to get to them as early on as possible.

 

So, she decides to let them do their jobs instead of resorting to “kidnapping,” as Ray had so vehemently put it.

 

(Sara doesn’t think it’s kidnapping if a. they aren’t a kid, b. you’re planning to return them, and c. you’re planning to return them without demanding a ransom, because you’re a responsible citizen and not a monster who kidnaps people.

 

But, whatever.)

 

Point is, Sara had been coming up empty.

 

But then she decides: What the heck?

 

She’s in an sexually active relationship, and she’s been in many of them before with boys and girls and, in one or two cases, people who identify as neither.

 

And fine, maybe she’s not exactly Gandhi, but whatever, right? She could totally do this.

 

(She’ll wish later that she hadn’t been so self-assured.)

 

So that night after dinner, she stands confidently at the Bridge, chairs arranged neatly around the console in a wide U-shape, waiting patiently (or as patient as she ever gets) as the Legends filter unenthusiastically in.

 

(Gary had been there again at the dinner table for some reason, so it’s not exactly a surprise that he elected to stay for sex education class, too.

 

She’s long since given up on bothering to ask why.)

 

Once everyone’s seated, and the discontented grumbling has more or less abated, she claps her hands together twice to get their attention.

 

John is slouched and glaring in his seat while Charlie is sprawled in a similar fashion next to him; a far-too-happy looking Gary is sitting on John’s other side with perfect posture and impeccably gelled hair, practically bouncing in his seat like he can’t wait to begin; Mona sits next to him looking disoriented and far-away, which, admittedly, is fairly normal for her; to her right, Ray is just staring happily towards her like the good straight-A student he’s always been while Nate is lounged lazily in his seat beside him; and lastly, Zari and Mick sit side-by-side in the next two chairs wearing matching ‘I really don’t want to be here’ expressions on distinctly unhappy faces, which, Sara supposes, she shouldn’t have expected anything less.

 

“Okay,” she announces. “So, I didn’t bring anyone from the outside this time—“

 

“You mean you didn’t kidnap anyone,” Zari corrects unhelpfully, shrugging inconsequentially as Sara shoots her a glare.

 

“As I was saying,” Sara continues through gritted teeth, “since I didn’t bring anyone to come talk to you, I’ve decided I’m going to be the teacher.”

 

The effect is immediate.

 

“What?” Ray squawks, looking unequivocally flabbergasted.

 

Gary just looks confused. “Huh?”

 

John lets out a loud groan.

 

“Why me, Lord?” Charlie questions, her gaze turned skyward for dramatic effect. “Why me?”

 

Zari snorts, leaning forward in her seat to make burningly disapproving eye contact with the shapeshifter across the semi-circle. “Maybe it’s because you’re an asshole who—"

 

“O-kay!” Sara promptly interjects, clapping her hands together again, feeling a wave a relief when everyone obediently turns to look at her again. “We’re doing this. No exceptions.”

 

There are a few grumbles, but no one dares to complain.

 

She has to resist the urge to throw something when Nate tentatively raises his hand.

 

Instead, she settles for as much pleasantness as she can manage: “Yes, Nate?”

 

“Um, don’t you think this is gonna be kind of weird?” he asks tentatively, eyes wide.

 

Sara sighs. “What?”

 

“I mean,” Nate clears his throat, looking visibly uncomfortable. “You’re kind of like our mom, you know?”

 

Christ.

 

“Nate, I’m not old enough to be your mom.”

 

“You tuck me in sometimes!” Ray pipes up, and her gaze narrows. He gulps, sinking further into his seat.

 

“Ooh!” Mona exclaims then, eyes brightening, seemingly unaffected by Sara’s glower. "One time I asked why we couldn’t get a karaoke machine and you said ‘Because I’m the Captain and I said so.’”

 

“Also,” Zari adds quickly, “you keep grounding us.”

 

“She does, doesn’t she?” Charlie agrees with a wicked grin.

 

John snickers. “Yeah, love—“

 

“Alright, I get it!” Sara practically yells, effectively silencing the running commentary as she exhaustedly pinches the bridge of her nose. “But I also don’t care. We’re doing this, or you’re all grounded.”

 

Blessed silence. Thank God.

 

“Okay,” Sara says, suddenly panicking as she tries desperately to map out the rest of the lesson (truthfully, she hadn’t thought she’d be getting this far, so she’s rather at a loss)—a moment later, she gets an idea from her earlier reading of Mick’s fantasy-novel chapter. “True or false: A woman can control whether they get pregnant or not, so condoms aren’t a necessity.”

 

Although he still looks distinctly uncomfortable, Ray quickly breaks out into a grin. “Oh, that’s so easy, it’s definitely fals—“

 

“True!” roars Mick decisively.

 

Here we go.

 

Gary makes an incoherent squeaking noise. “Really?”

 

Mick just nods sharply with a grunt. “Yes, Gabby,” he rumbles matter-of-factly. "I wrote a chapter about this.”

 

“Um, actually,” Gary says with a nervous chuckle. “It’s Gary—"

 

“Hold up,” Nate intervenes, turning to look at Mick curiously. “You write ?”

 

Mick immediately freezes. He’s silent for a long moment. “Uh, no, of course not!” he barks eventually, brows furrowed.

 

“But you just said—"

 

“You use too much hair gel, Pretty,” Mick grumpily interrupts the man. “It rots your brain.”

 

Nate retreats further into his chair with a scowl, patting his painstakingly-styled hair self-consciously.

 

Mona just looks lost. “So is it true or false?”

 

Ray leans forward. “Obviously fal—“

 

“True!” Mick thunders again, oblivious to the mildly offended look of consternation Ray instantly sends his way.

 

The crease in Mona’s brow just deepens. “Then—"

 

“You know, lads,” John drawls around his unlit cigarette, “I think we’ve been forgetting the most important part: is this hypothetical woman a witch?”

 

Sara wants to slam her head into the console. “John, that doesn't—"

 

“Oh, yeah!” Gary breathes out in awe, his wide brown eyes somehow managing to grow even wider under his thick black glasses. “Cause then they can do the hoodoo voodoo,” he gestures ambiguously with his hands, “and then poof! ” another emphatic gesture, “no more baby!”

 

John smirks and nods, though it’s rather clear he didn’t understand a good two-thirds of what Gary had just babbled on about. “Precisely, squire.”

 

Charlie nods along, too, like it makes perfect sense (which, Sara cannot emphasize enough how much it doesn’t), and then she’s turning to Sara with an expectant gaze. “Alright, mum, is this chick magic or not?"

 

Sara heaves a sigh. Choose your battles, comes a voice in her brain, one that sounds suspiciously like Ava. “No, let’s just assume she’s not.”

 

“Ah,” John declared. “Then, Mick is definitely right.”

 

(Sara can’t tells if he’s being serious or not, and honestly? She’s not sure she wants to know.)

 

“No, he’s not!” Ray yelps, sounding thoroughly distraught.

 

“Yes, he is!” Mick bellows, rapidly standing up from his chair and pointedly ignoring as it tips over behind him with a clatter.

 

“Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!” Charlie begins a chant, increasing in volume with every syllable.

 

“Guys,” Mona says airily, looking mildly concerned. “I don’t know if we should—“

 

“Fight! Fight! FIGHT! FIGHT—"

 

“I’m right, Haircut, and you’re WRONG!"

 

Sara looks around at the scene before her for another second, internally debating how to go about defusing the rapidly devolving situation—mind made up, she chooses the most nuclear option available:

 

“Gideon,” she calls (the spirited arguing continues even despite her stern take-no-shit tone), “give me my mask.”

 

In seconds, an all-black gas mask is hanging from the ceiling just within reach—without a moment’s hesitation, Sara snags it and quickly adjusts it to sit snugly on her face.

 

Mick has now drawn his flamethrower (even when Sara had explicitly stated no weapons) to point at a wide-eyed Ray and (for some entirely unclear reason) a screaming Nate, John is chanting something ominous while his eyes roll further back into their sockets than Sara ever thought humanly possible, Mona and Gary are whimpering in their chairs like terrified children, and Charlie and Zari have deteriorated into a rather aggressive lover’s quarrel that makes Romeo and Juliet look like a goddamned fairytale. (She can’t decide if she’d rather have that or Charlie’s aggressive chanting, to be perfectly honest.)

 

“Release the chloroform,” she orders, her voice muffled behind the mask.

 

Gideon does, various white translucent sprays of gas hissing out from small circular panels in the ceiling, and still, no one turns from their heated spat to acknowledge what’s happening, even as Sara stares unflinchingly leaned up against the console in a federal-issue gas mask (she’d stolen a couple on a joy ride to Area 51) while the chemical agent drifts steadily down to cover her bickering Time Toddlers.

 

Within seconds, they’ve all fainted: Gary haphazardly on top of Mona, Mick spread-eagled on his back, Ray and Nate curled up against one another, and Charlie spooning Zari on the floor.

 

“Alright, Gideon, you can stop the gas,” she yells, smirking to herself as Gideon dutifully halts the chloroform, and the cloudy-white gas quickly begins to recede.

 

After a minute or two (when she’s sure the sleeping agent has dissolved), she’s undoing the mask and throwing it carelessly off to the side as the Legends’ peaceful snoring fills the space.

 

Parenting done right, she thinks, nodding happily.

 

Too caught up with reveling in her own satisfaction, Sara scarcely notices the whirring sound of a portal opening just behind her, only whipping around when it’s far too late to see a wholly gobsmacked Ava Sharpe stumbling onto the Bridge in a perfectly-pressed navy blue suit, which, Shit.

 

“Ava, I can expla—"

 

“What the hell, Sara?!"

 

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