"You guys've got the next shift. I'm beat." Helen scooped Jack-Jack up in her arms and held him to her chest. His pudgy arms wrapped tightly around her neck, and she smiled as he let out a breathy sigh of contentment.
"Dada!" The arms loosened and Jack-Jack's now excited voice alerted her to the fact that Bob was coming up behind them. She admitted that she was surprised when Jack-Jack squirmed and reached for his father, and though she missed her youngest child's presence, she smiled as Bob took him into his arms.
"Hey there, little man." Bob gave their son a tickle, which caused him to burble and giggle happily, but he was worn out from what had clearly been a crazy and exhausting day, and the baby yawned and nestled down in the crook of his father's arm.
Bob grinned down at Jack-Jack, and Helen's heart swelled with love and admiration for him.
"Was it as easy as you thought?" she asked.
He straightened up and let out a mock scoff. "Piece of cake!" he said, grandly. "Nothing to it!"
She raised an eyebrow good-naturedly, and her husband seemed to deflate before her eyes.
"No," he moaned, looking up at the sky in exaggerated dismay. "I don't know how you do it day after day. The kids always need something and nothing's ever done and the clothes are pink and we're out of eggs and we still don't have any double-A batteries!"
Jack-Jack giggled as he dozed, as if he were the reason for Bob's long list of complaints. And given what Helen had seen in the last few hours, he probably was.
Bob sighed in exhaustion. "I'm just sorry I wasn't able to do a better job," he said, looking to the ground. "You're a wonderful mother and an even better crime-fighter. I was jealous when they wanted you, but I hoped I could show you that I could at least keep things in order at home, and I wasn't even able to do-."
She stretched up and up until she was eye-level with her husband and pressed her lips to his. Bob tensed as she silenced him, and then slowly relaxed into the kiss.
When Helen pulled away, he still looked startled and uneasy, as if he didn't expect such a reaction after recounting what had happened. Helen retracted back to her regular height so she could look up at him and placed a hand on the arm that held Jack-Jack.
"Are the kids alive?" she asked.
"Well, yeah, but -"
"Are they happy?"
Bob looked over at Violet, who was gesticulating wildly as she talked to Voyd.
"We're getting there," he said, and Helen wondered what had happened while she was away. She'd ask about it later.
"Do they still love us?"
Dash walked up to his sister, who ruffled his hair, and then he stood on tip-toe as he scanned the area. He waved when he caught sight of his parents across the street and then turned back to join Violet and Voyd's conversation.
"Yes," Bob said with confidence. "They love us."
She reached up and touched his cheek with her gloved hand.
"Then you were great," she said firmly, as if she could will him to believe that by her own force alone.
Bob smiled a little sheepishly before he encircled her with his other arm and drew her to his chest. "So were you."
Helen threaded her arms around his neck, completely content to be going home. "We were both great."