IT'S DONE! This story lasted so much longer than I intended and I have to thank all of you for sticking with me this far! This has been quite a journey and I hope you've all enjoyed it as much as I have! I've got some other stories lined up to go soon for the Noragami, Ghost Hunt and Miraculous Ladybug, so keep your eye's open for what's coming next. Feel free to go check out my tumblr account, at lil-fledgling, where I post oneshots for various fandoms, which I don't post here. Thank you so much for your support, I couldn't do this with out all of you! Please leave a review and feel free to message me with story ideas or requests, I love to hear from you and adore prompts.
The team had gathered in the med bay around Artemis's bed as Black Canary treated her feet and face for frostbite. An unpleasant silence had descended on the group of teenagers as they impatiently waited for an explanation.
Green Arrow came in first, rushing over the Artemis and fussing like a worried mother, checking bandages that had already been set by Canary and earning him a hard slap around the back of the head.
"What did they do to you?" He kept asking, holding her face firmly in his hands. "Tell me what those bastards did to you-"
"Start from the beginning." Everyone turned to see Batman, face unreadable, standing in the doorway. "And don't leave anything out."
After first explaining to the team that her father was Sportsmaster (although none too easily) Artemis started slowly with her mother.
"Mom got sick a little while before you guys came to see me." Artemis said, looking at Batman and Green Arrow. "She didn't want me to tell anyone, she wanted to handle it on her own. But the thing is, medical bills are expensive, and she couldn't work in the first place. Not in her wheelchair and certainly not with her criminal record. Any money we had saved immediately went towards her hospital expenses. We got kicked out of our old apartment because we couldn't pay rent. It took me a couple of weeks before I could find us another place to stay. Mum was able to stay in a shelter but I…" Artemis cleared her throat uncomfortably and looked away from her friends. "If I couldn't stay in the cave I slept on the streets." There was something like a collective gasp and a sudden rush as everyone began speaking at once, stopped by a look from Batman who simply nodded at Artemis to continue.
"The building we live in now was the cheapest we could find. But since we basically had no money I had to get a job, which is how I ended up at the corner store. The pay is shit and I don't even make enough to even begin paying the medical bills, let alone rent, hydro, water. We can't even feed our selves." Artemis laughed humorously. "The food donation boxes have saved our lives more than once." She sighed and rubbed her face, exhaustion suddenly hitting her hard.
"Mom's gotten worse. We're about to be evicted again and my best guess is that someone is keeping tabs on us and relaying information into the prison to dad. He wouldn't have sent Cam and the gang to see me if he didn't know I was getting desperate. He probably knew we needed money badly and if I went back to the Light there is no doubt all of our debt and expenses would be picked up." Artemis dropped her head into her hands.
"I messed up. I should have told you, all of you but-I just couldn't." She looked up at her teammates, finally locking eyes with Wally. "I didn't want you to think any less of me." At the time, Artemis had never considered what she would do if Ollie and the team found out about her life at home. She had convinced her self she would fix it all with out their help and they would be none the wiser. But now she felt so much shame and embarrassment, she was a fool for keeping it all to her self and as a result she put innocent people and her friends in danger. What kind of hero was she?
"We'll meet you in the living room," Ollie said quietly to the team, motioning for them to leave. "I need to talk with Artemis, privately." The archer felt her heart sink at those words. He was angry with her. Obediently, the team and Batman filed out, Wally casting a long look at Artemis before finally leaving the room, telling M'gann that she would be okay. At least those two weren't mad.
Green Arrow sighed, slumping down in the chair in front of Artemis, looking at her hard.
"Why didn't you tell me? I thought we were a team, Artemis. How many times have I had to tell you that I am here for you? Huh? How many times do I have to tell you that you don't need to try and figure everything out on your own?" He looked his apprentice right in the eye, daring her to look away. "You should have told me Paula was sick. I would have found a good, safe place for you both to live and gotten her the best medical treatment." Green Arrow stood up so that he was glaring down at the young girl, making Artemis feel as if she were a child who had stolen a cookie from the jar.
"You're staying here, at the cave tonight. I'm going to get Paula and check her into a hospital. I'm not going to let your mother die." Artemis moved to stand up, excited at his words.
"Please let me-"
"You will not be leaving the cave until I tell you to." Ollie said in a deadly tone. "Once I get your mother sorted out, then I'll decide what to do you with you. Understand?" Artemis nodded quickly. Was this what it was like to be disciplined? Was this how normal parents reprimanded their children when they messed up? Artemis was almost… happy. She was having her first proper scolding!
"I'm not mad at you," Ollie said quietly, pulling Artemis from her chair, and wrapping her up in a warm tight hug. "Disappointed, yes, but not mad. I'm just worried about you. I don't want you to suffer any more, you got that?" Artemis nodded into Ollie's shoulder, letting a few stray tears leak from her eyes.
"Thank you," She whispered. "Thank you." Ollie pulled away, placing a fatherly kiss on the top of Artemis's head. "I'm going to go see your mother. Stay here okay, and rest. You probably shouldn't be on your feet for a little while; Killer Frost did a pretty nasty number on them." Ollie reached behind him and grabbed the crutches that were leaning on the wall. "You'll have to use these for now." Artemis groaned. She hated those damned crutches.
Once Ollie, Batman and Black Canary left, Artemis sat alone in the infirmary, trying to think about what she was going to say to her friends. Would they be able to forgive her? To trust her? She felt sick at the thought of loosing them.
"You won't know until you go talk to them." Artemis muttered to her self, steeling her nerves. "It time to bite the bullet." With some difficulty she rose and with the help of the crutches, she made her way down to face her family.
They heard Artemis coming before they saw her, the tell tale sound of thumping from the crutches, giving the archer away. Silently, they all waited for her to come into the living room, watching her expectantly.
"I'm sorry." She said, forcing her eyes up from her bandaged feet and into the faces of her friends. "I shouldn't have lied. I put the team in danger, multiple times because of my stupidity and I am so, so sorry." Artemis swallowed hard. "Can you forgive me?" There was no hesitation from the team, M'gann immediately tackling her 'Earth Sister' in a hug, leaving the two girls a giggling heap on the floor. From there the tension disappeared. They all had questions, sure, but Artemis was fine with answering them and found it relieving and therapeutic to share her history. It was nearly two in in the morning when they began to head off to bed, M'gann and Conner wandering away to their rooms somewhere deep inside the cave, Kalder made his move to go to the beach, he would spend his night in the ocean. After a little while, Robin too bid his farewell leaving Wally and Artemis in the semi dark living room.
"Ollie is making me stay at the cave, until further notice" Artemis sighed, leaning back against the couch. "I don't actually mind too much, it's warmer than my room at home, that's for sure." Artemis stared at the ceiling, finding that the silence between her and Wally really wasn't that bad, in fact, it was almost…comfortable. Artemis jackknifed upwards, her face flushing hot.
"Right, well I bet you're tired, and wow, I'm just beat too, so we should get to bed- I mean, I should get to bed, my bed, that is. You should get to your bed, at your home. You know, that's what I meant." Artemis scrambled for her crutches, unable to look Wally in the eye. As she gathered up her crutches Wally began to laugh, watching Artemis flounder around awkwardly, finding it completely adorable.
"Come here," Wally scooped Artemis up in his arms, letting the crutches clatter uselessly and soon forgotten, on the floor.
"W-wally, what are you doing?! Put me down, I don't-"
"Just hold still," Wally muttered into her ear, his breath tickling the shell of her ear and making her shiver in pleasure. "Let me help you, okay?" Artemis nodded, not trusting her voice and let Wally carry her down deeper into the cave to the room she had unofficially claimed.
The speedster sat down, leaning against the headboard of the bed with Artemis still in his arms.
"Ah," He sighed, closing his eyes. "Finally some time to relax. You know, you had me pretty worried today babe." Wally rested his check against the top of Artemis's head, breathing in her floral scent. "I'm so glad your okay." Artemis's mind was in over drive. What was he doing? Why was she letting him do this? Was this okay? Did she want this? Should she punch him? What else could she do? Yes, punch him, that's what she should do. Blind him with pain and-.
"Relax Arty, your stiff as a board." Artemis's thoughts stopped midway as she felt Wally place his large, warm hand on her forehead "You still feel cold," Wally muttered. "I have an idea. Get into your pajamas and I'll be right back." Setting her upright in the chair next to the dresser Wally sped off, leaving Artemis to wonder what the hell was going on.
Artemis had just finished pulling on her flannel pajama bottoms and an oversized worn-out hoodie, when Wally came back into the room, his arms full of various blankets, which he dumped onto the bed. And when he turned around-holy mother of-
"Ready?" Artemis could only nod, trying desperately to keep her eyes on the ground, because Wally West was in her room and the damn boy was shirtless.
"Don't tell me you're shy." He chuckled, scooping her up again. Her hands hovered over his bare skin unsure if she should touch him or not. Either Wally was unaware of Artemis's inner turmoil or was simply ignoring it, but he refrained from commenting on her strange behavior as he wrapped her up in the blankets he had brought before settling down in the bed beside her, drawing Artemis in close and sharing his body heat with her.
Artemis wasn't sure what to think. Her stomach was a riot of butterflies and she was so nervous she was sure she was going to be sick.
Breath, she kept on telling her self as her insides shook. Just breathe, oh god, he smells so good!
"I know you're nervous," Wally said in a low voice. "And I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous too. But I like you Artemis, more than a friend or a teammate. I have for a while and I'm pretty sure you know it too." He pulled away from her a little bit and looked down into her wide grey eyes. "If you want, you can kick my ass after this, but only if you don't like it, kay?" His head was lowering towards hers, his eye's never breaking contact. "Stop me now," Wally whispered, his lips a breath away from hers. "There's no going back after this." And she should have said something, she should have pushed him away and she should have called him a creep and asked him what he thought he was doing but… Artemis wanted him to kiss her.
Wally's lips were warm, just like the rest of him. Warm and soft and utterly perfect. Artemis may have never kissed anyone before but she knew that this was a good kiss, an amazing kiss, that Wally freakn West was a great kisser and the dork was kissing her.
Their tongues tangled and fought in a beautiful, deep rhythm and Artemis gasped, surprised and strangely delighted when he nibbled gently on her bottom lip. Every moment, every second was perfect and right.
They broke away slowly, gasping for air, Wally over top of Artemis, pressing her into the bed. For a moment they looked at each other in awe before bursting into laughter.
"I'm sorry," Wally laughed, rolling off of Artemis but keeping her lithe body in his arms. "I got a little outta control, I didn't mean to go that far." Artemis giggled, wrapping her arms around his smooth, bare neck and nuzzling into his shoulder.
"Its okay, I don't mind," She grinned up at him wickedly, finally finding her usual confidence and sass. "I'll even let you do it again, if you ask nicely." The red headed speedster may or may not have taken her up on that offer.
The two fell asleep nestled in perfectly together, their legs entwined like ivy and their arms wrapped tightly around the other. They were safe, they were happy and they were all together.