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Fic -- Where The Heart Is
grief
dillonmania
Title: Where The Heart Is
Rating: PG
Word Count: 8530
Characters: Wally West, Roscoe Dillon, Albert Desmond, Linda Park-West, Jai West, Iris 'Irey' West, James Jesse.
Summary: Sometimes friendship is all you have.
Warnings: A bit of angst.
Notes: A sequel to The Ties That Bind. Since that story was written, there have been several happenings in the New 52 which Jossed my original concept (most notably Wally's debut, and then Al's appearance). But no matter, I'm happy just running with this scenario.




Roscoe took another swig from a bottle and wiped his mouth on his sleeve. It had been three days since he and Wally had returned to their world and found themselves forgotten by their loved ones, and he wasn’t taking it well. He was unshaven and generally looked like a disheveled mess, as he'd neglected to shower since they’d escaped from their pocket dimension. And he rocked frequently while sometimes mumbling to himself, so Wally was decidedly concerned about him.

“You gonna be okay?”
“I went in there knowing the Rogues might have forgotten me, but I never thought Lisa would be alive again. And her not knowing me was…was…” Roscoe said for at least the fifth time.
Wally nodded. Though he didn’t want to say it aloud, a small part of him was relieved he hadn’t found Linda on their world, because she might not have remembered him either. Not knowing where she was allowed him to cling to hope of a happy reunion. He awkwardly put a hand on the other man’s shoulder, unsure of how he’d react to it.
“It was horrible when Aunt Iris didn’t know me,” was all he said, just as he’d replied the previous times Roscoe had broached the subject. The supervillain smiled at him joylessly.
“The Rogues pretty much despised me, and the feeling is mostly mutual. But even so, they were the closest thing I had to family, so I understand.”

They sat in silence for several minutes, and then Wally cleared his throat.
“So I guess you haven’t had a chance to work on that tracking device to find Linda and the kids.”
Roscoe groaned and put down the bottle. His head was pounding and he was certain that he’d soon be vomiting.
“Only a little. Just…just let me sober up and I will finish it.”

There was no question that Wally felt impatient about the matter, but he reminded himself that the other man was going through a rough time and didn’t owe him anything. He gritted his teeth, forced a smile, and patted Roscoe on the back.
“It’d be appreciated,” he said in a friendly tone, aware that he might never find his family without the Rogue’s help. You win more friends with honey than with vinegar, his Aunt Iris had always been fond of saying, and he felt an unhappy pang when he thought about her.

Roscoe retched, and that was Wally’s cue to go somewhere else. He sped off in search of some food for the two of them while the other man seemed to be heaving out his sorrows.

***


The following day found Roscoe alert and clear-minded, although no more chipper or well-groomed. But at least he was working on the tracking device, and seemed to be making some progress.
“So how will it work?” Wally asked as they ate canned beans for lunch, and Roscoe reluctantly broke away from his brooding.
“It’s not done yet. But if it works as per my designs, it should be able to find people who have been close to us and home in on their location, even if they’re in other dimensions.”
“Close to us?”

Roscoe already seemed impatient with the questions, which obviously interrupted valuable time that could be spent moping. “Yes. We both have people who have often been in close proximity to us -- before this catastrophe happened, of course. Their energy signatures have rubbed off on ours to some extent, just as ours have left an imprint on theirs, and through this we should be able to detect them. In theory.”

“And if it doesn’t work?” Wally asked with some trepidation.
“Then we will have to determine a Plan B. I should also add that we won’t know who the device is detecting until we get there; this isn’t a precise science, by any means. Just imagine a dog following its master’s scent and perhaps getting confused by finding his old clothes along the way.”
“Well…that’s kind of a bummer.”
“My life, and welcome to it,” Roscoe grimaced. “But assuming this works, it will cut search time significantly. Without it, the task would be Herculean, essentially looking for a needle in a haystack. I don’t even know how many dimensions and worlds we might have to explore.”

Wally was well aware of this, but still hated hearing someone say it.
“Just do your best, okay?” he said with a pained expression. “I know you do good work, and I’m counting on you. I can’t give up on them, even if this never succeeds and I have to keep looking forever.”
“Understood,” Roscoe nodded, as it was clear just how essential this was to Wally. Roscoe could respect how much another person valued their family, even if he'd never had much use for his own. Lisa was the only person whose importance matched that of Linda and the kids, and yet he doubted he’d spend the rest of his life searching for her. He was already wondering if he’d given up on her too easily, and whether he should go back to win her affections. But no; she’d told him to leave, and he couldn’t endure more rejection or being a stranger to her. It was better to run away and start a new life, just as he’d done several times before. He was good at that.

“I’ll let you get back to it,” Wally told the other man after lunch, and Roscoe was grateful to have some quiet again. He picked up his tools and began soldering a circuit board, immediately returning to his unhappy rumination. And it remained with him whenever he was alone with his thoughts.

***


Wally whiled away the next two days with impatient running and chores to keep himself busy. The men were maintaining a low profile on a quiet foreign world, and Wally kept prodding Roscoe to change into some civilian clothes, both for safety’s sake and because his costume was really starting to smell.

“I work better this way; it helps me to think more clearly,” Roscoe replied stubbornly as Wally made an aggravated noise. This wasn’t the first time Wally had known him to smell bad, but it was really starting to get exasperating.
“Can you at least promise me you’ll change and bathe before we go? We’re going to attract a ton of attention!”
“I promise nothing.”

This was just like dealing with his kids, Wally thought to himself darkly, only worse. He couldn’t send a grown man to his room, and he was quite dependent on Roscoe’s assistance to find his family. He bit his tongue and learned to cope with the acrid stench, which at least got easier over time.

***


The following day, Roscoe announced that the device was ready for a trial run.
“It’s already picking up a signal, although whether it’s a false positive remains to be seen. The signal should get stronger as we get closer to its purported target, so we can follow it that way.”
“Let’s try it,” Wally said eagerly, suddenly not caring whether his traveling companion was particularly clean or not. His family beckoned.

The duo gathered their few possessions and prepared to leave their current world forever. But luck hadn’t been on their side in recent weeks, and that wasn’t about to change now.
“Hands in the air, costumed freaks!” a man shouted behind them, and both quickly complied.
“What seems to be the trouble, Officer?” Wally asked politely as he turned around and saw several cops pointing guns at them. Roscoe looked antsy about it, and the speedster prayed that the other man wouldn’t do anything foolish.
“Costumes and vigilantism are strictly against the law,” the first cop replied with obvious contempt. “I don’t know why you nutjobs keep at it.”
“Sorry about that,” Wally said in a contrite tone. “We’re…newcomers to the area and didn’t know about this law. We don’t mean any harm, and I’m sure we can sort everything out.”
“Shut up and put out your wrists to be cuffed, freak.”

“You will let us go; we haven’t done anything wrong,” Roscoe said coldly, and Wally noticed his eyes were glowing hypnotically. He’d never seen it happen in person before, but suspected it was the Rogue’s mind-control powers in action. “We are not a threat, and you will let us go immediately.”
“You’re free to go…” the first cop answered with a dazed expression on his face. He and the other police officers lowered their guns and no longer appeared hostile, and the two would-be criminals relaxed.
“Nice work,” Wally said admiringly, extremely relieved that Roscoe had done it without violence. For his part, Roscoe had privately thought about committing violence, but abstained because he was sure his traveling companion wouldn’t approve.

“Thank you. I think that’s our cue to leave this world now, however, because there could be more cops on the way and no guarantee I can persuade all of them.”
“Yeah, agreed,” Wally nodded. “I really want to get started on the search as soon as possible anyway. Can we try that thing now?”
“Yes, although there may still be some glitches in need of tweaking. We will find out soon enough, I suppose.”

Roscoe turned on the device again, and within a few minutes it had fully warmed up and found its first results. It had already been calibrated to ignore any hits from their home universe, as that was where most of their targets would be, and Wally was excited to see several potential leads.
“There can’t be that many people currently outside our universe, right? It must be them!”
“Not necessarily,” Roscoe cautioned, worried that Wally was getting his hopes up too much. “Remember, if we and they were kicked out, plenty of others could have been as well.”
“I guess…” Wally replied, but his spirits didn’t seem to be dampened. He checked the dimensional co-ordinates of the closest result and picked up his bag. “I can get us there in just a few minutes. Let’s go.”

The run between worlds had been as unpleasant as it always was, and Roscoe took a bit of time to compose himself after arriving at their destination.
“I was really hoping that would get easier,” he grimaced as he wiped vomit on his sleeve and Wally winced at the mess. It was time for the speedster to switch his attention to something less disgusting, so he looked carefully at their surroundings. They were in a city which looked much like the ones on their world, and that seemed promising: any loved ones should be able to blend in with the locals to survive.
“So how do we find them from here?”
“They’re in that direction,” Roscoe replied after fiddling with the tracking device. “We should be able to follow the signal right to them, and they’re not far.”

The device led them to a dilapidated warehouse in an industrial part of town, and they paused in front of an ominous ‘Keep Out’ sign.
“Whoever it is, they’re in that building,” Roscoe frowned. It certainly seemed unlikely to be the Wests, and Wally’s heart sank.
“We should see who it is, sign or not. We’ve come all this way, and maybe they’ll want to go with us,” he said with obvious disappointment. Roscoe was sure that the sign meant they’d get a less-than-friendly reception, but silently acquiesced. The door was locked, but Wally vibrated through it and it exploded behind him, allowing his associate to follow.

In seconds, both men began to cough. Something in the air was irritating their throats and lungs and making it difficult to breathe.
“Gas!” Roscoe choked out, and Wally hurriedly spun his arms like a windmill to disperse it.
“Oh, it’s you,” said a voice from the shadows, curt and unimpressed. “What are you two doing here, and why did you disobey my sign?”

The residual gas was still causing Roscoe and Wally to cough violently, but both sighed when they realized who it was: Albert Desmond.
“Desmond,” Roscoe muttered darkly, wishing it had been almost anyone other than him. Piper had once told Wally that the Rogues were wary of Alchemy, and with good reason; he was fiercely independent and sometimes mentally unstable, and often cool towards the other Rogues. Roscoe himself possessed all those traits too, but had never noticed the striking similarities between the two of them and never felt any kinship. Al had occasionally resented him for this, perhaps rightfully so.

“We’ve been jumping from universe to universe for a few weeks,” Wally explained, still wheezing a bit. “We found ourselves exiled from our home, I guess. And we tracked you down here.”
“I see. And what do you want from me?”
“Absolutely nothing, Doc. But we can get you out of here if you’d like.”

Al finally stepped out into the light where they could see him, and his face was lit up with a broad grin.
“You must be joking. Why would I wish to leave? I finally have peace and quiet with which to read and experiment -- in all the time I have been here, I have only been disturbed by you fools, people from my native universe. The citizens here know how to mind their own business. I now have no ties to anyone back home, and no reason to return there. So go away, I like it here.”
“Gladly. I hope you rot,” Roscoe spat at him, deeply offended by the remark about fools. Wally held on to his friend’s arm lest the two Rogues start a brawl, and maintained the same soothing tone he used whenever he talked to Al.
“Okay, Doctor Desmond. Good luck to you.”
Al did not reply, and simply walked back to his lab without even a farewell glance. The two traveling companions shook their heads in disbelief and went out the way they’d come in.

“So what now?” Roscoe asked once they were back in the sunshine. Wally was extremely disappointed by their lack of progress in finding his family, but covered his pained dismay with a simple shrug.
“We keep looking for Linda and the kids. Got any other readings?”

***


A day later, they jumped to the next universe which seemed to give off strong readings. This world was grey and unpleasant with a strangely pungent odour, and not the kind of place in which either man would voluntarily spend time. Something about its chilly bleakness made Roscoe feel particularly uneasy.
“The person or persons is supposedly nearby,” he noted, moving the detector around to find the correct direction, and all they could do was follow it. The signal became louder as they seemingly got closer to their quarry, and when they walked into a seedy park, Wally knew. He grabbed the other man’s arm and pointed to several people a short distance away.

“It’s them!” he shouted excitedly, the joy obvious in his voice. He’d never known such elation. He ran to his family in the blink of an eye, and gave them a few moments to recognize him before enveloping all three in a hug.
“Linda…Iris…Jai…I love you guys so much. I was afraid I’d never see you again,” he sobbed into his wife’s shoulder, and she cried happy tears of her own as she held him tightly.
“I never gave up hope. Just…don’t leave us again, okay?” Linda whispered into his ear. “The kids have had a really rough time without you.”
“I thought you were never coming back, Dad,” Jai said with crumbling stoicism, fighting to keep his lip from trembling. “What happened?”
“It’s a long story,” Wally said softly, and turned back to look at Roscoe. The other man had been keeping a discreet distance to allow them their happy reunion, but Linda stiffened with horror when she noticed him.

“Is that the Top?! Is he responsible for all this?”
“No! No, he helped me find you. He’s…a friend, I guess,” Wally replied, suddenly aware of how odd that must sound. “We found ourselves trapped in the same dimensional pocket, and have been teamed up for a while now.”
“Keep him away from the kids; I don’t trust him,” she said flatly, stepping in front of the twins and fixing the supervillain with a dark stare. Roscoe hadn’t heard what she said, but fully understood the sentiment telegraphed by her body language. He looked away with a heavy sigh.

“Can you tell him to go away? Or maybe we can lose him if you run.”
“He doesn’t have anywhere to go, Linda.”
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure there’s a reason for that.”
“I don’t want to fight about this now, not when we’ve just found each other,” Wally said with a pained expression. “I’ll talk to him, and maybe we can work this out.”
“I don’t want him near the kids -- or me, for that matter! The guy is completely nuts!” Linda said in a low voice. She didn’t want to argue either, but the Top had a fairly terrifying reputation and she had to think of her children’s safety before all else. They’d been through so much danger in their young lives, and it never seemed to end.

“Okay!” Wally snapped irritably, and jogged over to Roscoe. The other man was looking incredibly self-conscious, and had obviously grasped the gist of the argument.
“I will leave. I don’t want to cause trouble between you and your wife,” he said quietly before Wally could speak.
“I’m sorry about this, I really am. You’ve been a pal, and I owe this reunion to you. Where will you go?”
“Anywhere I can blend in, I suppose. I don’t think it matters.”
“Of course it matters. You deserve a chance to be happy and to start a new life. Maybe now—"
The ground suddenly shook violently, knocking Irey off her feet. Wally sped over to his family to make sure they were all right, but the ground heaved again moments later, and everyone looked around with trepidation.
“The wind’s picking up,” Roscoe said apprehensively as he walked over to the Wests. “Something’s happening, and I don’t believe we want to be here.”

Linda was immediately suspicious of his motives, and stepped between him and the children. “Are you causing this?”
“Don’t be absurd, madam,” he said coldly, with a bit more of a supervillain-esque tone than was perhaps advisable. “But we should leave, either together or separately.”
“The wind is really scary, Dad,” Irey said as she clutched her mother’s hand. The gusts were beginning to move nearby objects, and the kids were having difficulty standing in place.
“Agreed. Let’s get out of here,” Wally declared, and turned to Roscoe. “Come with us for now, and we can split up when we’re away from here.” In moments, he was struck from behind by airborne debris and gripped his head in pain. “This weather is nuts…”

The wind suddenly intensified, and now even the adults struggled to stay on their feet. Irey held Linda’s hand and was able to maintain her footing with great difficulty, but Jai was swept up by a particularly violent gale.
“Mom! Dad!” he screamed as he was pulled away. In seconds, the rest of them had been scooped up and were tossed into a dizzying vortex of air and dust. Linda maintained her grip on Irey and held on for dear life, while Wally frantically tried to reach Jai. The wind howled in their ears and drowned out their screams, and Jai seemed to be getting further and further away despite his father’s desperate efforts. There was nothing solid for any of the speedsters to gain their footing, and being sucked through a cyclone was disorienting and nauseating.

What good are my powers if I can’t save my kids?! Wally thought to himself in frustration, tears and dust stinging his eyes as he struggled against the wind. He was already exhausted, but wasn’t going to stop until his family was safe or he was dead.

Roscoe suddenly shot past him. Unlike Wally, he wasn’t fighting the vortex, and his arms rested almost calmly at his sides. The wind was carrying him closer to the centre of the maelstrom --- and closer to Jai, who was still flailing and trying to reach his father. And then suddenly Jai was held fast, and wasn’t falling any closer to the centre. He was being held in place by telekinesis, although he and the others were still trapped inside the vortex.

It took Wally more than a few moments to understand what had happened, but he gained some time to think once he realized Jai was in less immediate danger. He didn’t know what had created this bizarre storm, but reasoned that disrupting it could force it to dissipate; he only wished he’d paid more attention in science class or had listened to Barry’s lectures about physics. Roscoe probably knew more about the subject but was too far away to consult, and time was likely running out. Ultimately they really had very little to lose at this point, and everything to gain.

Wally changed direction as best he could, and began spinning his body against the wind. It was extremely tiring and he had no idea if it was helping or making things worse, but he sliced against the currents with his arms and used every bit of strength he had left. He could do no less in this situation, considering that his family’s lives were on the line. After minutes which felt like unending hours, the winds seemed to be weakening, and he suspected he had used the right tactic. Eventually he could even hear the others calling out to him, and once the winds had calmed significantly he simply allowed himself to collapse.

Wally was dazed and exhausted. Everyone else was too, but the others ran to his side once they were able. The winds had mostly stopped, though the ground still shook ominously beneath them.
“You did it!” Linda exclaimed tearfully as she hugged Jai tightly.
“We still have to get out of here as soon as possible,” Roscoe urged, tugging at his friend’s arm. “I don’t believe this dimension is stable.”
Wally forced himself into a sitting position, fighting an overwhelming urge to rest. “I think you’re right. But I’m really wiped, and might need your help to get us to the next world over.”

“I can help!” Irey declared proudly. She was keen to show off her skills and bravery so no one would realize how frightened she was. Wally smiled at her, though Jai’s embittered scowl went unnoticed by everyone.
“You sure can. You think you can match our vibrational frequency?”
“Yup!” she replied with confidence, and Linda assisted Wally to his feet. Despite his pervasive fatigue, Wally and Irey began to run in place while Roscoe spun beside them, and the group soon made the jump to the next habitable dimension.

They were pleasantly surprised to find themselves in a bucolic countryside, but the happy moment was quickly spoiled by the kids’ retching.
“That trip was awful, and I see why you don’t like to do it,” Linda groaned with a queasy expression. Wally put a comforting arm around her, and the kids were soon keen to go exploring, but she noticed Roscoe standing nearby and pulled her husband away for a private conversation.

“What exactly is the deal with that guy?” she asked in a low voice. “He saved Jai. What’s he up to?”
“I told you, we’ve been working together for a while now…and I guess you could call us friends. I think he’s okay, he’s had several chances to stab me in the back and hasn’t done it. And he’s pretty lonely right now, `cause the Rogues and even his old girlfriend don’t remember him.”
“But you don’t know that he won’t turn on you as soon as it’s convenient.”
Wally shifted uncomfortably. “No, I guess I don’t know that for sure.”

“Jai and I don’t have powers, and Iris is just a little girl. I get that he’s your friend and is going through a tough time, and I greatly appreciate that he went out of his way to save Jai. Just tell him to stay away from the kids and I, please, and keep an eye on him,” Linda said in a serious tone, and Wally’s face lit up.
“You don’t mind if he travels with us?”
“As long as he keeps his nose clean. I really hope I don’t regret this, Red. Make sure I don’t.”
“You won’t,” he said as he gave her an affectionate kiss. They then exchanged a lingering one, as they hadn’t had much of a chance to do so since their reunion.
“We’d all better find a place to sleep for the night…and to spend some quality time together,” she told him with a raised brow, and he grinned. “Tell your friend he can stay, and then let’s find a place to crash. It’s so good to see you again, I missed you so much.”
“Likewise,” he replied with a loving smile. “It’s all I’ve been dreaming about for weeks.”

Wally found Roscoe sitting under a nearby tree, staring silently at the twins as they played. They watched the kids together for a few moments, and then Wally cleared his throat.
“You took a huge risk to save Jai. Thank you.”
The other man shrugged. “I don’t have anything to live for, if we’re being honest.”
Wally didn’t like hearing that kind of talk from anyone, least of all a friend. “Hey, come on. That’s not true at all.”
“It is. I’ve lost everything and everyone, and now even you are moving on without me. It’s…fine, I can accept that. It just doesn’t feel particularly wonderful.”
“Well, you’re in luck: Linda says you can travel with us. She’d prefer you keep your distance from her and the kids, though. She doesn’t really trust you.”
“She would be a fool if she did, considering that all she knows of me is my reputation. It’s entirely understandable.” But Roscoe closed his eyes and looked distinctly relieved, taking a deep breath. “Thank you. Please thank her for me.”
“Anytime, pal. We owe you too, y’know. So what’s say we all get something to eat and find a place to sleep?”

The group went to a cheap and quiet motel at the outskirts of a small town, and all were happy to collapse into their beds early that evening. However, Roscoe got up in the middle of the night and slipped away to a nearby gas station, where he used his mind-control abilities to ‘convince’ three people to hand over the cash in their wallets. He was sure Wally would be appalled, and yet knew they needed money to pay for food and lodging. A hold-up would have drawn too much attention to himself, so with this quiet scheme he was able to tell the others that he’d sold his phone to obtain some local funds. No one ever suspected.

***


“Why don’t we stay here and relax for a few days?” Wally soon suggested to the others, and they readily agreed. This world seemed peaceful and pleasant, and it was wonderful to have some quiet downtime while pondering their next move. They had to decide where to settle, and whether they were going to keep looking for other stragglers from their home universe. Wally and Linda also took the opportunity to spend some personal time together, so Roscoe watched over the children from a discreet distance whenever their parents were occupied. The Wests were blissfully happy to be together again, and Roscoe took some satisfaction from not being completely alone, even if the only person he spoke to was Wally.

***


Roscoe spent an afternoon tinkering with his tracking device in the bright sunshine, tweaking its settings with the goal of finding more people. He was keeping an eye on the children while they played in a field, and everything was pleasantly uneventful until Jai suddenly approached him. Alarmed, Roscoe tensed up and looked around worriedly for Linda, trying to shoo the boy away. But Jai remembered how the man had rescued him, and was not so easily dissuaded.

“My mom says I'm not supposed to talk to you,” Jai said gravely, standing a few feet away from him.
“Well, you probably ought to listen to her.”
“Did you always do what your parents told you?”
Roscoe laughed heartily. “Of course not, that's how I ended up this way. But I really do not want to get in trouble with your parents, kid. I don't have many options these days.”

“Is it true that you're a bad guy?” the boy asked.
“Yes. I heard you used to be a superhero in your own right.”
“Until Iris stole my powers,” Jai said with a sullen expression. “Now I'm a nobody, and my mom and dad don't even care.”
“You aren’t a nobody, kid. Your parents love you very much, and your father talked non-stop about finding you over these past few weeks. I guarantee that he cares.”
“He never tried to get my powers back, and I got stuck on the sidelines whenever there was a Flash parade or a chance for Iris to shine. I used to matter and I used to help him. Now I'm just a loser who needs to be rescued.”

Roscoe didn't have much experience with children, and he certainly didn't know how to deal with one who seemed to be on the verge of tears. But he did know what it was like to be an outcast, even amongst family. He paused for a few moments to carefully ponder his words.
“You still matter. There will always be something to make you special and worthwhile, and you simply need to find and cultivate it. Perhaps you'll be a brilliant thinker, or maybe an amateur musician whose songs make his family smile. There is more to life than metahuman abilities and fisticuffs, as fun as they are. And most people need to be rescued occasionally, so I would not think too much of it.”

Jai made a face. “Are you sure you're a bad guy? You sound like my dad.”
Roscoe laughed again, utterly delighted. “I like you, kid. I am a bad guy and probably a lousy role model, but have a lot of life experience.” And experience with death and beyond, although that seemed like a confusing thing to explain to a child. “The point is, it’s terrible to feel useless and unnecessary, but you shouldn’t. You will always be worthwhile to some people, and you will always have something which makes you unique. You just need to find it.”

“Well…I like to draw,” Jai said with a bit of shyness, as it was something he’d never mentioned to an adult before. “I don’t know if I’m any good at it, though. And I really like video games.”
“Maybe you can design video games someday,” Roscoe said with a grin, and the boy lit up joyfully.
“I could! Bet I’d be good at it.”
“You probably would be. Passion is a major factor in life’s successes, and should never be underestimated. So that’s something to work towards.”
“I will,” Jai said, smiling. He then noticed his mother in the distance and ducked, making a discreet exit before she could see him. “See ya later,” he called cheerfully in a low voice as he scooted away, and Roscoe couldn’t shake the feeling that he was going to be in trouble.

***


The adults held an impromptu meeting about their plans after the kids went to bed that night; Linda didn’t mind Roscoe’s presence at the other end of the table if Wally was also there.
“So what next?” Wally asked as Roscoe did calculations on a thick pad of paper.
“I have a reading on another person or persons,” Roscoe said without looking up. “Since you’ve already found your family, you can decide if we should continue searching for other people. I’m personally fine with either seeking them out or leaving them where they are.”
“We probably should look and check in with them -- we wouldn’t want to leave somebody stranded,” Wally frowned, and Roscoe shrugged.
“Fine with me. Just keep in mind that we could theoretically destroy another universe, which I assume is something you’d rather not do.”

Wally and Linda looked confused and alarmed by his words, so he reluctantly elaborated. “It wasn’t an event I had anticipated, I must admit. But you saw how things got so chaotic when we met up in that last universe, and I’ve been running numbers and readings ever since. I’m no longer detecting that universe, and I believe it may have collapsed on itself after we left, possibly due to our presence. We may have inadvertently destabilized it.”

The Wests were utterly horrified by this, and Wally had turned pale.
“All those people…gone? And it was our fault?” Linda asked, stricken. She was disturbed by Roscoe's apparent indifference to it.
“It was not intentional, I assure you. I honestly had no idea it could happen.” He seemed more annoyed by his failure to predict it than the universe’s fate. As far as he was concerned, it had been uncharacteristic carelessness on his part which had led to excessive risk.
“How likely is it to happen again?” Wally asked with concern, head in his hands.
“Probably not very likely, as we’ve traveled to several others without any trouble. But definitely a possibility. It’s also possible that universe was already unstable, you know. I don’t think you should lose much sleep over this.”
“How can I not? This was our fault! Why don’t you feel anything?” Linda said accusingly with tears in her eyes.
“Why would I feel guilt over something I had no intention of doing?” Roscoe asked, and there was genuine puzzlement in his tone. “It was an accident.”

“We don’t need to talk about blame right now,” Wally interjected with some irritation. “We need to decide what we’re going to do.”
“I have no recommendation and no opinion one way or the other. It’s a slight risk, but not an inordinate one.”
“I don’t think you should do it,” Linda opined, looking worried. “I couldn’t live with myself if more people died.”

Wally was silent for several moments, but within his own mind it felt like an eternity. Long enough to run through several potential scenarios and weigh the odds, and then come to a decision.
“I don’t want to leave that person or persons there,” he finally said. “I’d hate it if someone left you guys stranded if you were in that situation, so I’m not gonna do it to this person. If we jump in and out real quick, do you think that might minimize the risk to the universe?”
“Possibly, at least if my theories are correct.”
“Then that’s what we’ll do. We can go tomorrow.”
“But…!” Linda protested, and her husband hugged her.

“Nothing’s going to go wrong, sweetheart. Now we know about the issue and can take precautions against it, so we’ll be in and gone really fast. And Roscoe can track things after we leave to prove that the universe is still intact.”
“I just don’t want to lose you again, or be responsible for the deaths of more people,” she said sadly, but knew Wally was just as stubborn as she was. He laughed gently and scooped her into his arms.
“You won’t be. Trust us.”
She smiled at him and said nothing, because she really did trust him implicitly. It was the supervillain who made her wary.

***


The next morning, Roscoe and Wally prepared to travel to the co-ordinates of their latest target.
“You’ll be quick -- and careful, right?” Linda implored. She’d originally wanted the entire family to go, reasoning that they shouldn’t get split up again, but Roscoe had suggested there would be less risk with fewer people.
“Yup, don’t worry,” Wally grinned at her. “We’ll be back before you know it.”

The two men arrived on a strange-looking world with a decidedly futuristic style, prompting Wally to wonder aloud if they’d traveled through time.
“It doesn’t seem that way,” Roscoe replied as he scrutinized the readings on the tracking device. “But from the looks of it, they are probably more technologically advanced than we are.” He would have gone in search of tech to steal if he hadn’t promised to minimize the time spent on this world. “The person is not far in that direction.”

The duo walked down a spotlessly clean boulevard peppered with people using interactive screens, which seemed to function like payphones and informational kiosks.
“Cool,” Wally remarked at their surroundings, while the device chirped ever louder.
“I believe that’s our target right there,” Roscoe declared, some tension evident in his voice. He looked obviously annoyed, but Wally’s face lit up with joy when he saw a blond man sitting dejectedly on a levitating bench.
“James!”

James Jesse heard his name and looked up, and immediately bolted towards the speedster. He grabbed Wally’s hand and shook it excitedly, wearing an ear to ear grin.
“Thank God, thank God!” he enthused. “How’d you find me?” Then he realized he really ought to acknowledge the other man standing there, though his tone became a lot less friendly. “And what’s he doing here?”
I found you,” Roscoe replied sharply. “Let’s go, we don’t have much time.”
“You’re getting me out?” James asked delightedly. “Okay, maybe we can be friends after all.”
“I do not particularly care whether you like me or not,” came the curt response, and Wally shrugged helplessly at James. But nothing could dampen the blond man’s spirits, and he cheerfully followed behind his rescuers.

“This will get bumpy,” Wally warned him as they prepared to depart, and James’ smiling facade cracked ever so slightly.
“If you guys get me out of here, you can take me to Hell and back.”

Their return was just as rough as Wally had promised, rendering the two Rogues sick on the ground. But James was still quite grateful to have been rescued, and soon dragged himself over to Wally.
“You don’t know what a relief it is to see familiar faces,” James said tiredly. His previous happy mood had seemingly vanished, leaving nothing but morose exhaustion. “I don’t know what happened, I just…woke up there. It was obviously a different world, because everything was wrong. Nobody knew who I was or how I’d gotten there, and it was like a bad dream that never ended. I can’t wait to see Hartley and Len and the guys again.”
Roscoe and Wally exchanged an uncomfortable glance, and Wally cleared his throat.

“James, I know this is tough, believe me. We’ve been dealing with this for a while now. But the odds are high that your friends back home won’t recognize you either. For some reason, the people who were thrown out of our universe seem to be the only ones who remember how the world used to be --- the people still living there have changed, and don’t know us anymore. Something happened and the world’s been drastically altered, and we’re on our own now.”
James stared at him, slowly digesting his words. “You mean…I haven’t gotten home yet? And nobody will know me there either?”
“Yeah. I’m sorry, James.”

The blond acrobat looked utterly distraught. “I want to go home. Take me home, please, I need to see it for myself.”
“Sure, if that’s what you want,” Wally said with a worried frown. “I can pick you up afterwards if you’d like. We’re still figuring out what to do here, but you’re welcome to stay with my family and I.”
Roscoe said nothing, as he was well aware that his status with the Wests was still nebulous. But despite the tension between him and James, it seemed like it would be nice to have another person to talk to. He offered his hand in a silent truce, and James shook it with a sombre expression; both thought it beneficial to have an ally amidst these terrible circumstances.

“I’ll see what things are like over there, and then make a decision,” James told Wally. “Maybe it isn’t as bad as you think. Maybe I can still make a life there anyway…it is home, after all. At least I should be able to recognize things there, right?”
This time both Roscoe and Wally were silent, as they’d felt the world to be profoundly unfamiliar when they’d been there. But there was no need to distress James with more negative talk, and the decision was his to make. Perhaps he wouldn’t find it as disorientingly different as they had.
“I’ll take you there now,” Wally finally said in a gentle tone, his hand on James’ shoulder.

Wally was quiet and moody when he returned to the others ten minutes later, and remained so for the rest of the day. He didn’t go into details, but Roscoe surmised that James had been very upset.

***


The following day, Jai spent the better part of an hour searching for Roscoe, who he eventually found wandering near the motel. The man frowned when he saw him, aware that any interaction could get him into trouble, but then remembered that Jai didn’t have many people to talk to.
“What are you doing?” the boy asked curiously, and Roscoe shrugged.
“I need to do something; sitting around there all the time is making me stir-crazy. But you know you’re not supposed to talk to me.”
“Yeah, I don’t care. I just wanted to ask you something: is it true that nobody back home will remember us? Not even our family or friends?”
Jai looked very concerned about this, and Roscoe bit his lip. Wally had been planning to explain the situation to his kids when he thought they were ready, but at least one of them of must have overheard the conversation with James.

“This is something you should really talk about with your parents,” Roscoe replied hesitantly, feeling extremely uncomfortable, but Jai reacted angrily.
“No, they’ll never give me a straight answer! I’m asking you!”
“Well…I cannot say nobody, because I haven’t talked to everyone there, or even met most of your family. But things do seem to be leaning in that direction, I’m afraid. The people your father and I talked to had no recollection of our existence…not even my girlfriend, or his aunt.”
“So it is true,” Jai said, and while there was obvious sadness in his tone, he at least seemed satisfied about getting an answer.
“The good news is, you have your immediate family to commiserate with and keep you company,” Roscoe reminded him. More perceptive than his years might suggest, Jai picked up on the unspoken But I have no one.
“And you have us,” Jai added helpfully, though Roscoe laughed.
“Yes, we shall see how long that lasts.”

There was silence between them for a few minutes while Roscoe kept walking and Jai followed closely behind. The kid was as dogged as his father, Roscoe mused in his thoughts. And just as much as his mother, too.
“You used to make tops or something, didn’t you?” Jai finally asked, and the man nodded. “My dad told me that. Could you show me something cool?”

Roscoe laughed again, but this time there was genuine delight in it. Nothing made him happier than sharing his love of tops -- a pastime in which he could rarely indulge. He gleefully pulled a few from his pocket and placed them on the ground.
“I modified these earlier today, actually. You will love them, because they can capture images on the fly and project them as disorienting holograms.”

He’d just begun to spin the tops when Irey suddenly appeared on the path in front of them.
“Jai, Mom and I have been looking all over for you. What are you doing?” she asked in confusion, and Jai realized that he might have just been caught. He didn’t know if his sister would tell on him, but decided to make a run for it. With any luck Irey would soon forget all about it, and so would Linda.

Luck wasn’t on Jai’s side, however, and Linda spent the rest of the afternoon searching for him. Eventually she cornered him in the motel bathroom and shut the door for some privacy.
“Were you talking to Mr. Dillon?” Linda asked sternly, and he looked slightly guilty.
“Just a little...he's pretty okay.”
“What kinds of things did he tell you?” She was going to take notes, and there would be hell to pay. That man was not supposed to talk to her children.
“Mostly he talks about how I matter and should believe in myself…weird stuff like that.”

His mother set her jaw, instantly suspicious of Roscoe’s motives for saying such things. “And does he then tell you about committing crimes and joining up with him?”
“No,” Jai replied, furrowing his brow. “Am I in trouble? Is he in trouble?”
“Yes on both counts. You knew you weren’t supposed to talk to him, Jai, and I don’t trust him.”
“C’mon, Mom…” Jai wheedled, now very concerned. She was using her ‘serious journalist’ expression, and this wasn’t going to end well. “It’s my fault, I went and bugged him. I won’t do it again.”
Linda paused when she heard the worry in his voice, and gave him a pained look. “Jai, it doesn’t matter. He’s an adult and should know better, and I just don’t want you spending time with him. I’m pretty sure he’s killed people, you know.”

“But he’s my friend, and he saved me.”
Linda pinched her nose in frustration. “He’s not your friend, he’s an unstable supervillain who never should have been here in the first place.”
“Dad thinks he’s okay.”
“Honey, your dad isn’t always right. I think…I think he’s been blinded because he was so alone until he found us, but it’s only a matter of time before Mr. Dillon’s true colours show themselves. And I don’t want you or your sister to get hurt,” Linda explained gently. She enveloped Jai in a tight hug. “You guys and your dad are the most important people in the world to me, and I don’t want anything bad to happen to you. Do you understand?”
“I guess,” Jai said quietly. He really did understand, but it still made him sad. “I’m sorry I screwed up.”
“It’s okay, sweetie. This whole situation will be resolved soon,” Linda said with calm determination, and she strode out of the room.

It didn’t take Linda long to find Roscoe, who was reading quietly outside.
“You were talking to my son!” she said accusingly, and he blanched. There was probably no chance of squirming out of the situation through denial or lying, so he didn’t even bother.
“Yes, and I’m sorry,” he replied in a weary tone, already sensing where this was going to lead. The furious expression on her face told him everything.

“I don’t care if you’re sorry, I want you gone. You’ve already proven you can’t be trusted.”
“Where am I supposed to go?” he asked pointedly, but was already getting to his feet. Fortunately there was no aggression in his body language, only resignation, so Linda felt emboldened to stand her ground.
“I don’t care. Find another city, get Wally to take you to another world, whatever. Somewhere you won’t cause us any more trouble.”
“Fine. I never meant any harm, madam. I apologize if I have caused you concern.”
“Sure you didn’t,” she replied coolly, and followed him to ensure he packed his belongings.

It took only a few minutes to gather his scant possessions, and then they went looking for Wally.
“I am leaving,” Roscoe announced without any fanfare. “I am no longer welcome and have caused enough strife around here. Would you please take me home? Preferably to where Jesse is, if he can be found.”
“Uh…sure,” Wally said in confusion, scratching his head. “What’s going on?”
“He was talking to Jai,” Linda interjected, and Wally sighed. It didn’t upset him personally, but he knew how much it would bother his wife. He just wished his friend had shown better judgment.
“Okay,” Wally replied in as neutral a tone as he could manage. With any luck he hoped the situation would blow over eventually, and perhaps Roscoe could then return. In the meantime, it was best to keep things as calm as possible to minimize anger and resentment. “We can go whenever you’re ready.”
“I’m ready right now,” Roscoe said, and held up his bag as proof. However, a thought then occurred to him and he reached inside to pull out the tracking device, which he handed to Wally. “In case you want to keep looking for anyone.”
“Thanks, buddy,” Wally replied with a smile, passing it over for Linda to keep safe. In minutes, the men were gone.

Roscoe was incredibly proud at how well he weathered the trip back home, with no retching or taking time to recover. A shame that this was probably his last jaunt, he reflected silently.
“What are you gonna do?” Wally asked plaintively, now that the reality of their situation was finally sinking in. He would never have originally thought it possible, but he was going to miss this odd man.
“I don’t really know. I can start a new life on my own -- I have done it before. And I think I will attempt to see Lisa,” he decided. “Jesse may spend time with me, at least until we get tired of one another. We have a somewhat complicated history.”

“I’m sorry things went down this way, and I really hope Linda will have changed her mind in a couple of weeks,” Wally told him. “I appreciate that you helped me find my family, and that you rescued Jai. I owe you big time.”
“Think nothing of it. I have enjoyed your company, Wally, and things won’t be the same without you. I’m glad to call you my friend.”
Wally smiled and they shook hands. “This isn’t goodbye, it’s just a ‘so long’ for now. I’ll see you in a bit, pal, `cause I’ll at least swing around for a visit. Okay?”
“Absolutely,” Roscoe replied with a smile of his own. There was no way he would let himself cry, and it was easier to prevent it if he forced a grin.
“You take care of yourself,” Wally reminded him kindly, and Roscoe nodded to return the sentiment. Then, with a wave, Wally departed to rejoin his family.

Roscoe let out a pained breath after his friend vanished. He was alone again, unless James wanted the company of an unpopular sidekick. His surroundings were familiar and strange all at once, like looking at the distorted reflection in a funhouse mirror, which only increased his sense of discomfort. So he turned and headed for the nearest scummy bar, because it was time to drink until the grief went away.


  • 1
In the beginning where Roscoe was letting his depression rule him by not bathing and being such a snot with Wally had me wanting to see Wally spank him... or totally send him to his room! LOL! (I know, I'm a weirdo! But you love me anyway XD)

It was nice to see Roscoe's first potentially violent encounter with the police was avoided due to Wally being his companion

LOL! I loved the encounter with Albert :P He did seem happier now though :P

I really liked seeing Wally's family reunion and having the West's and Roscoe traveling together. I really liked the conversation shared with Jai on both counts. It was cute how they could relate and Roscoe could give him some good advice. It made me sad that Linda was being so close minded about Roscoe as I'd love to have seen Roscoe and the family kind of grow on each other and adopt him. ;) I hate seeing him all alone and dejected! Please don't let it end there! (I know, I keep pleading for more, but this story is just so good it leaves me clinging on the edge of my seat! LOL!)

Heh, I did think about writing some slashy overtones in this series, but decided that there aren't enough fics about platonic friends. I kind of wish there were more friendship stories, I get the feeling fandom doesn't know what to do with just friends.

Yeah, whether Roscoe realizes it or not, Wally is influencing him. He'd probably deny it, however :]

We may or may not see Al again, but he's so anti-social that he makes Roscoe look gregarious :> So it seemed likely he wouldn't want to hang out with the others if he could help it, and if he's happy where he is, then more power to him.

I'm kicking around ideas at the moment, but the story will probably continue if I can think of some decent ones and where to go with this (though I'll probably take a break for a bit and work on some other things in the meantime). I have vague ideas, but nothing really concrete yet.

As for Linda, she's doing what she thinks is right for her family...but may change her mind eventually. We'll see ;) I was trying not to make her seem like a villain here, but from people's reactions it seems like I may have failed on that front. A learning experience, I guess, and next time I'll try to do better.

Thanks for reading and commenting, I'm so glad you liked it :D

Oh spanking for me is sexual, but most times I prefer it to be non-sexual in context and more 'guiding' ;)

LOL! He probably would! XD

Understandable. You know I'll be looking forward to reading it :)

I don't think you did badly with Linda, she's a concerned mother, and sometimes people can be a bit too judgmental when confronted with issues that could endanger their kids. I think people just want to see Roscoe loved, and she was pulling him away from that. I do hope she has a chance to reflect and realize Roscoe is a person to, and we all want to love and feel loved to some extent even if we try not to let people see it :P

I think a lot of people see it as completely sexual though, so they'd probably get the wrong idea.

Thank you, I'm glad to hear that :D Although the other person who'd wanted to see this sequel doesn't seem to have bothered to read it :P

Heh, I'm reminded of that bit in one of Geoff Johns' comics where Barry Allen said he didn't think of Roscoe as a person :> Roscoe has never been popular and I imagine most people don't really care what happens to him -- but maybe the people who read my stuff are more sympathetic to him. Anyway, 'concerned mother who may have gone too far' is what I was aiming for, so that's a relief :)

A lot of people do see it as strictly sexual, and that's fun for me in the case of lovers like Lisa and Roscoe. It makes sense that way. I like the redeeming type fantasies when I think of spanking or confronting an issue that otherwise would be avoided if not brought to a head. I like there to be a caring and nurturing aspect usually (depending on the characters I'm imagining in the scene... as long as it feels canon in 'my' head LOL!) To tell you the truth, I've been worried about what you will think of my story. I know you're not a spanko like me, and I don't want you to be weirded out reading it. LOL! 0o

I'm glad I was able to get this one read before going back to work, so I could thoroughly digest the story and enjoy it. Nothing sucks more than being too tired to enjoy a good fic. Honestly, I rarely read any fic these days except yours :P As for the other person, I'm sure they will get to it eventually... if they are anything like me, they may take forever to do so LOL! XD

Geoff is a tool :( I do want to see good things for Roscoe, but that likely is because I've grown to see him through your eyes as well I think ;)


I think the only aspect of it that's important for me is the consensual aspect -- it's great if both people are into it, and a bit awkward if they aren't. Not that there isn't a place for non-consensual stuff in fic, but I'm pretty sure Roscoe would hate it if Wally did anything like that to him and it would end their partnership very quickly. But he'd like it if Lisa did it to him, so sometimes I think it works and sometimes it doesn't.

I hope work is going well, it must be tough to get back into it after so long away :\ I appreciate you taking the time to read it, especially when you're so busy!

For the most part, Roscoe seems to be the fandom's official go-to person to get crapped on (because he's terrible and deserves it, you see). Johns himself all but started that (although arguably Waid started it), so although I do like Johns, I have a bit of a grudge.

Most of the stuff I write in non-consensual to some extent, so you probably should avoid my fic 0o The awkwardness can be fun to explore especially if you can get past that third wall and tap in to the psyche... that's usually the part that I get in to. But of course, this comes from a person who was very physically abused almost daily, so I'm a bit fucked up and seek to resolve inner issues with my fics emotionally.

I'm home sick today, but I'm feeling a lot better now. I think working 12 hours every day last week and school and the baby not sleeping... making me not sleep but an average of an hour or so a night. I had a debilitating headache this morning, but I got some good rest after calling in to work, and I feel loads better.

I hate band wagon fans that can't think enough on their own to distinguish their own opinions on characters :/

I'm still happy to read your fic, it's more writing it myself that makes me feel uncomfortable. And I get that, I respect people who are working out their internal issues (I probably do that myself, although on a very different level). I hope it helps you somewhat.

And I hope you're feeling even better now -- that's pretty awful, no wonder you feel sick O_o Please take care of yourself to the best of your abilities! (I know it's not easy when you have so much on your plate) You aren't able to look after others or do your job when you're so wiped out, so it benefits everyone if you get to rest and take time for yourself.

Yeah, Rogues fandom is a bit weird that way. It's better now, but I still get the sense that most people at best tolerate the things I like. And don't get me wrong, tolerance is much better than being a jerk about it (which I've been on the receiving end of), but it still feels pretty lonely. Like a fandom of one or two people.

Sorry it's taken so long to respond to this. I finally went backward in my email to try and catch up a little better than I have been. I have the day off tomorrow (the first time in 11 weeks that I haven't had to work a 6 day work week, and I'm living it up! XD

If you don't think it'll give you mental scarring to read LOL! Please do. The first couple chapters were a bit harsh, but Batman I picture as being a more stern no nonsense type of hero that might go a bit overboard... and the Riddler is a bit of a weakling compared to his other villains LOL!

I have been doing pretty well (I've been posting on my LJ a LOT lately, and that has made me feel pretty good.

I have seen a lot of fandoms that people get like that in... I think most of them are the younger crowd that don't seem to understand the world is compromised by more than just them. Perhaps with the new Flash series starting folks will be revived back into the fandom... I have the show on my DVR, but I haven't had a chance to watch it yet. You?

Oh no worries, I've been surprisingly busy too. I seem to be doing most of the coverage of the Flash show for Speed Force. It's good to cherish time off, I only wish you had more of it :\

That's good, I'm glad you're doing well :) I go up and down, you know how it is. This chilly weather makes my joints hurt a lot, which is kind of a drag.

I *wish* it was just the younger fans; I can definitely think of older Rogues fans who can be pretty bad about that. But at least it has gotten a little better in recent years....as I said, tolerance is better than open hostility.

Yeah, I've been watching the Flash every week, it's great! (and next week's episode features a character you like ;) ). The show seems to have a polarizing effect on the fandom; some Rogues fans like it, and others hate it and make a lot of passive-aggressive complaints about it. I'm hoping more people watch it after the first real Rogue debuts next week.

I have the Flash episodes on DVR, and I'm going to have some serious catching up to do I know... time has been so limited with this new class, it's really been kicking my ass! 0o

Sorry your joints have been acting up :/ I hate cold weather...

Fans always seem to get in forms of extremes of either loving or hating it when it comes to new takes on characters in a different genre.

What's the class about? And I hope you do get a chance to watch it soon, I think you'll like it! I am so hyped for this week's episode.

I hate the cold too, which makes my home country rather regrettable :> Last fall/winter/cool spring I spent pretty much all the time in pain, and I wonder if that's going to be a trend now.

Yeah, I've noticed. We hardly know anything about what Piper will be like, but oh jeez you'd think this is the worst adaptation in the world.

The class is inter-communications for global business... I have been posting my assignments this go around, you can take a peak at the 'edumacation' tags on my page to get a taste :P

I just started my vacation, and once we get back from the smoky mountains I'm hoping to get all caught up (big hoping! LOL!) I am going to try to get my homework done before we leave for the week, so it's one less thing I have to deal with while we are away ;)

I hope that's not the case for your joints. I hear taking shark cartilage is supposed to help, but who knows if those things actually do, I get a bit skeptical when it comes to vitamins and herbs.

I'll have to see LOL! I'm sure they are over reacting :P

I'll have to look, because I don't even know what that is, heh :> Is it interesting, at least?

Yay, I hope you have a great time on your trip! :D And I hope you enjoy the show when you get a chance to watch it; this week's episode was AWESOME.

I've heard that about shark cartilege (and also glucosamine), but I'm really reluctant to take those things because I'm a vegetarian. It'd kind of be violating that, and sharks are being killed in such high numbers that it's a really bad thing. Plus I don't even know how well they work.

Oh, we haven't even seen Piper yet, but they're convinced he'll be awful because his backstory is a bit different. I don't think they quite get that adaptations are never going to be exact.

The class is interesting, but the teacher is a bit tough! She's one of those teachers where you can pretty much never get a 100%, so I'm constantly stressed about my grade :/

This vacation has been a bit crappy... Jason and I have been fighting a lot, and the kids have really been a handful. It has me very unhappy :(

Maybe the gluclosamine will do the trick?

Wow, he hasn't even been on the screen and their whining? Silliness :P

Ah, I've been there. You know she's tough, so don't beat yourself up too much about your grades. Some teachers are just impossible to please. If you don't think she's being fair, however, you can bring it up with her or an administrator.

I'm very sorry to hear your vacation has been bad :( Maybe taking some you-time will help? :\ You deserve it, you work hard.

Maybe, it did help my parents' cats. But as I said, I'm on the fence as to whether I should take it, considering it isn't vegetarian.

Yeah, I know. They're basing their complaints on a few details we've heard when the actor was cast.

As long as I keep my 4.0 I'm cool with it, and so far I have gotten an A (albeit a low A on most of my works... one was an A-, and that was my second assignment, so it's made me sweat a bit.)

Today has been a better day, and the first night was nice for the most part. Honestly, I think we need a vacation from the kids LOL! They have been very difficult this past couple of days making any of the nicer things to enjoy kind of miserable by acting up. Me having to do school work all Sat made it a bit strained not to mention it rained freezing rain and wind all day and night Saturday as well as Halloween night... it's just been more draining than relaxing.

I thought glycosamine was a sugar base?

Hey, I think that's something to be proud of! :)

I can totally understand that. I know I wouldn't be able to handle kids. Are there any relatives nearby that you trust to watch the kids for a day or two? It could be like a visit for them, but it's actually a break for you ;)

It is a type of sugar, but it's typically harvested from the exoskeletons of crustaceans (I don't understand the chemistry involved). There is such a thing as vegetarian glucosamine, but it's rarer and more expensive. It also hasn't been proven to have any effect in research studies, so I dunno.

It is. I just hope every semester I can keep a hold of it as once it's gone, it's gone for good.

Kids are a challenge... they are awesome in many ways, but in others... well, they are an end all be all. You can't have your cake and eat it too LOL! XD I look forward to the days we can actually communicate a little better. As for family, no; the closest is 4 hours away, and I never felt good about 'dumping' my kids on someone else you know what I mean?

I suppose when it comes down to it, everything is sugar in the end :P Are you vegetarian or vegan? Being vegan can be very difficult (and expensive) I know.

All you can do is work your hardest, and it sounds like you do that, so that's all anyone can expect of you. You don't want to burn yourself out, especially when you have so many other responsibilities.

Yeah, I'd be a lousy mother, so I decided not to have any :> It's way too much stress for me, so I respect parents who struggle through it.

And I agree it's not good to dump them, but if (for example) you have relatives who want to see them, then it might be an idea to have the kids visit them while you get a little R&R. But obviously you wouldn't do that if it isn't convenient and the relatives don't actually want to have them over. When I was a kid, my parents won a short vacation in a contest, and they sent my sister and I to stay with my American aunt for a few days while they went to San Diego. They got some time off and I got to see my aunt, so win-win :D

I'm vegetarian :) I've thought about veganism (my mother is one) and in some ways I'm kind of close to it, but just can't bring myself to make that final step. More than anything, I'd be concerned about limiting my diet even further, since I've had to cut out so many foods due to IBS. And watching my mother struggle to find food she can eat is a big hassle. But I was raised vegetarian by my parents, so it's all I know.

I've been doing my best, and you are right, that is all that can be done now but wait... chewing my nails waiting at that LOL! XD

I don't think you'd be a lousy mother; you're very empathetic, and that's definitely a grade up then a lot of people I've seen :/

I think my dad and step-mom may like the kids for a weekend at some point, but my dad and step-mom just started new jobs, so it'll be some time before that would be plausible for them.

Did you ever try meat after you left home? I know it's healthier to eat a mostly vegetarian diet (definitely better for losing weight) but going out to eat is a pain in the ass. I tried to do the vegetarian bit for a couple years, but I just like meat too much ;)

Fingers crossed, I hope the results are good :D

The thing is, I don't handle stress well at all, and I *need* a lot of time to myself to recharge. I've seen my sister with her son and seen other moms with little kids, and the kids constantly need them and constantly make noise and there's no way I could handle that. I'd have a nervous breakdown...and maybe end up like one of those psycho mothers :\ I can look after people like an auntie, able to keep some distance and getting time to myself when needed. I just couldn't be on the job 24/7.

Well, it's something to think about if it ever becomes convenient for everyone :)

I've never really had an interest in meat, TBH. I am kind of curious to try chicken because I've discovered I really like fake chicken, but I would feel bad if I did. So it's very unlikely to happen. Plus, I remember from the few times I had meat in childhood that the texture was unsettling and unpleasant to me.

And I can relate to liking too much to quit...that's basically why I'm not vegan; even though I eat very few eggs and drink very little milk, I don't want to go to the trouble of ensuring that nothing I eat has them in it. I do like a lot of foods which contain them :)

Me to. It's killing me not knowing LOL! I have one last assignment, and I'm looking forward to having it behind me along with this class.

It's rough 24/7 believe me, I didn't think I'd be able to deal with it either, but I gather once you're in the position of having them there's no going back LOL! ;)

Chicken is tasty, as for guilt, I look at it like this, the wolf doesn't feel bad for eating the rabbit, so I'm not going to feel bad for it. That's not to say I don't respect other folks personal choices. I don't think people should eat meat as often as they do. The human body is designed to eat meat a couple times a week not a couple times a day, but yeah... :P

Vegan would just be impossible for me, I love dairy WAY too much! LOL!

Good luck, I hope things are continuing to go well :D

That's kind of the thing, I'd be screwed if I found I couldn't handle it (as I suspect I wouldn't), and then I'd be stuck for the rest of my life...not a good scene, and not something I want to risk :\

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