Okay, so officially as of Friday the 18th, I am a KF/Artemis fan. They're totally made for each other, and she is his "Little Spitfire" according to the retired Doctor Fate. (But of course, him being Wally, he has no freakin' idea…)
Anyway, this is for Grim Lullaby's Sugar Sweet Challenge.
It's not going to be exactly mushy and extremely fluffy because I'm watching The Crazies and it happens to be on the part where the weird guy comes in and stabs everyone with pitchforks. Just thought you'd like to know that.
I hope you like it :)
Disclaimer: I don't own Young Justice, or DC Comics. If I did, I would have enough money to fund super-power pills. Those don't exist (yet!) so obviously, I don't own.
He was running. This was a given, of course, because he was the fastest boy alive, but this time, it didn't feel joyous to run. This time, it felt bad. So bad. This time, he felt helpless. He couldn't help the world, because he couldn't even help himself.
He was rushing down the halls of a white building. He didn't know if it was white on the outside, but it was on the inside. So much so that he wanted to close his eyes so everything wouldn't be bleached forever. The walls were of a pale color, the fakey, sterile linoleum… even the furniture was white.
He couldn't escape it; the colorless landscape. It was like the hall never ended, and there were no doors that he could flee through. He was stuck; doing the thing that he loved most.
But that wasn't the worst part. The worst part was that he wasn't really running. He was going at normal speed, maybe even slower than normal speed. He was just human.
Fear crept up his throat and threatened to envelop him in that moment of time and he closed his eyes. He wouldn't run into anything anyway, it was all just a straight line of—
His face made contact with a hard surface, and he recoiled, falling down onto his backside. He made no time to rub the discomfort from his face and stood up, hurriedly looking behind him.
He had to get away…
He turned to face what he had run into, timid yet again. He hated that. He was Kid Flash, and he couldn't be fearful. He shouldn't be…
He found that he was standing in front of a door. Shockingly, it wasn't white. It was large, bulky, silver, and shiny. He didn't know whether he should be reassured or even more frightened by this.
Without further delay he reached out and pulled down the handle, letting it swing open. He stepped into his only safety and closed the door behind him.
A strange feeling swept over him and he lost feeling in his legs. Until now he had been so confused as to where he had been, and whom he was trying to escape from, but now he was quite sure, deadly certain.
He turned and found his thoughts to be confirmed. He was looking at a scene he considered to be gruesome.
Before him was a gloomy, dark room. The fluorescent lights in the ceiling had burned out, and the room was rank-smelling, as if it hadn't been cleaned out in months. The only thing that the room possessed was a hospital bed, and in it, a person. A lone person.
He knew immediately who it was. It was hard to mistake the handsome face, blonde hair, and blue eyes.
"U-Uncle Barry?" He managed to croak, and unsurprisingly, it didn't sound like his voice. It sounded hoarse, cracked, and uncivil. It sounded like he had lost all that made him Wally West.
The Flash was dressed down, but not in his civilian clothes. His blonde hair was all over his forehead in major disarray, and he was in a white hospital gown. Blood covered his arms, and a good portion of his chest. At his nephews' words, Barry Allen smiled softly, and it looked morbid in contrast to the pallid skin surrounding his lips.
Wally inched closer, everything forgotten as he stared at the man in front of him.
"Uncle Barry?" He said again in that horrible voice, "What—What's going on?"
He didn't respond. He just lay there, unmoving. Unmotivated.
Wally reached the edge of the bed and stared down at his uncle, mouth slightly open in horror.
"Please," He begged softly. "Tell me what's going on. I… I'm…" He couldn't say it. If he did, something bad would happen. Some unnamed creature or terror would suddenly consume him. And yet, he did. "…Scared."
"Come out of there!" A voice said, but he knew that it wasn't the voice he had wanted to hear. One, it was coming from behind him. Two, it wasn't the soft, playfulness he so craved and knew to be in his Uncle Barry's voice.
Wally turned with a start to stare at the silver door behind him, heart thundering in his chest again. He remembered running. He remembered running from them. His green eyes focused on the white of the wall beside the door, as if it mattered more than anything. As if it was his lifeline.
Breath escaped his lips in gasp after gasp, and he couldn't contain his internal screaming any longer. He began to moan in little puffs, and he closed his eyes again, squeezing them shut.
This isn't real. This isn't real…
"Wally?" This voice was coming from behind him too, but now that he was facing a different direction, he knew it was coming from the place that he actually wanted to hear it. The bad thing was, it was feminine. It wasn't his uncles' voice either.
He turned slowly, opening his eyes wide at the same time. If he had thought the previous sight was terrifying, this one was beyond that. This one made every crime or gruesome display look almost sweet. Like a family surrounding a well-lit Christmas tree, opening presents on Christmas Day. That thought made him smile to himself. He hadn't been that happy and carefree in years. Especially not now.
"Wally," The voice said again, and he was pulled back into the present. The new scene that greeted him was many hospital beds, lined up against the wall. The room had suddenly grown bigger, like someone had just decided to stretch it out.
Again, he couldn't help it. He whimpered.
"Wally," It repeated, softer this time. "What's wrong, honey?"
It was his Aunt Iris speaking. Her bed was only one over from his Uncle Barry's and she was in a hospital gown as well, only hers had no blood on it. The blood was on her face instead, and a patch had been placed over one of her green eyes. It looked like a car had hit her.
"A-Aunt Iris…" He whispered, and almost as if those words were a cue to something, she shut her eyes. Seconds passed, she didn't speak again.
"Come out now, or we'll be forced to take action!" The brutal voice said again, still hidden behind the door at the rear of him.
Wally ignored it again, and took the time to scan the hospital beds. Between his aunt and uncle lay M'Gann, in the same shape as both of them. On the left of his aunt was Robin. Next to him was Kaldur, then came Supey, then his mom, dad, a few kids from school that he had taken a particular liking to, even people that he didn't know. The list went on and on. People suffering because of him, it seemed.
They had all been emitted to this horrible place: Arkham Asylum.
"You heard him, Wally," A voice said, by his ear. This didn't surprise him, but he turned quickly towards it anyway. If it were to attack him, he wanted to be ready. He already knew whom this voice belonged to. "You'd better get out here."
Artemis stood beside him, donning her suit. The green was darker than usual in places, but he didn't want to know what had stained the fabric. Her ponytail was perfect, and it was unusual. Everyone around him looked like they had been through hell, him included. She looked perfect, and he didn't even hate to admit that in this point in time.
He backed away from her, but she reached out and caught his hand. A strangled noise left his throat as their skin made contact, and he could only stare at her with wide green eyes.
"What's wrong, honey?" She whispered, echoing his aunt. She stepped closer to him, and he couldn't move. He became deathly aware of the place between her eyes.
Thoughts flickered through his head, voices coming to him. Some excruciatingly loud, some so soft he had to strain to hear them.
I would have wanted to be a man just like Barry Allen, if my parents weren't murdered.
The Wall-man? Nice.
Find your own little Spitfire—one that won't let you get away with anything.
I didn't cheat on the test, Mrs. Sanders, I swear!
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
Useless things came and fled him, and he didn't know what to make of the moment. He didn't want to make anything of the moment. He wanted to crawl into his bed and sleep in a ball, crying his eyes out. He wanted to hear a baby wail, laugh, breathe…
He wanted anything, anything but this.
Yet, here he was. Insane…
Artemis was only a few inches from his face, getting closer and closer. He was only vaguely aware of the door swinging open behind him…
Wally West awoke with a strangled scream, feeling dirty and hollow. He sat up in bed immediately to quiet the storm of his mind as different emotions raged within him and was aware that his body was wet almost everywhere with sweat and tears.
"It was a dream!" He realized skeptically, feeling lightheaded. This reaction scared him and vividly reminded him of his nightmare, so he swung his legs over the side of his bed and stood abruptly. He paced to the door and into the corridor, closing his eyes so as not to be reminded of the pasty white hall in his dreams.
He felt his superspeed pulse through his veins and felt the sudden urge to use it. Giving into the need, he moved faster, feeling his image blur as he made his way to the bathroom through touch and memory rather than sight.
He stepped through the doorway and turned on the light, coming face to face with himself in the mirror. He didn't close the door. He needed a fast escape, just in case something happened…
Wally leaned against the counter top that housed the sink, using it for a full brace of his muscular, sweaty body. He couldn't stand, as of now, he decided.
He continued to stare into his own green eyes, his red hair flopping into his vision as its' perkiness left and was replaced with teenaged body oil and sweat.
And it was only then that he realized he was panting rather loudly and huskily.
He stepped away from the counter and the mirror quickly, feeling fairly disgusted with himself. He tried to self-mediate and force his labored breathing down, but it was to no avail. He was way too freaked out.
"It was just a dream," He told himself, over and over again, some phrases louder than others.
When that got old, he started to utter brokenly, "I'm okay, I'm okay, I'm okay…"
Finally he found that he could no longer talk as his previous anxiety had been slightly forgotten and he settled for sinking to the floor and leaning against the wall. This was all right. The light was on, and if he really listened, he could hear Superboys' steady breathing in the room next door. This was all right. He was okay.
"What, we out of toilet paper?" The voice was above him, and it scared him out of his skin. He jumped up immediately, backing up to the bathtub.
Her face, her body, her presence… it was too much for him after his nightmare, although she looked slightly different. Her blonde ponytail was messed up, her eyes were puffy with drowsiness, and she was in baggy neon green pajama pants and a white tank top. But it was still too much.
"Alright, I get the point. You've gotta pee, so I'm leaving," He said hurriedly after the initial shock was over, and he made his way over to her, attempting to pass by her roughly as he usually did. He always gave her the cold-shoulder, and she did the same to him in return.
"What's wrong, non-believer?" She mocked, bringing up the last mission. That was still a delicate subject for him, because he would always be a firm believer in science.
"It's nothing. I said I was leaving, so just leave it at that," Wally muttered, but she barred the doorway by putting her arms out straight on either side of her. He smirked, "That's not going to stop me, you know."
She reciprocated by smiling maliciously back at him. "Believe me, it will. What's wrong?"
He was beginning to get pissed off. "Nothing," He said through gritted teeth. "Just let me go back to bed and sleep it off." In truth, he hadn't planned on going back to bed at all. If anything, he was going to stay awake at all costs. It was like Nightmare on Elm Street. He wondered how long the dream would haunt him, how many nights he'd spend cradling his legs to his chest. Five nights without sleep meant insanity, right? That would put him in the place of his nightmares…
"Just by that look on your face," Artemis said loudly, snapping him out of his reverie, "I'm making you talk."
He hadn't been aware that a look of horror had crossed over his features as his thoughts were again tainted by his bad dream. "No!"
Without warning, she reached out and grabbed his arm. This hit too close to home as he was reminded of her hand touching his, and he jerked back. It was too bad that she was so damn persistent. It was one of the things he hated about her, but knew that she wouldn't be Artemis if she didn't possess the attribute. She pulled him towards her and forced him out of the door ahead of her, hand firmly gripping his forearm.
"Come on," She snarled, leading him down the hall and into the other foyers that branched off from the training room. They reached the large room after a few moments and Artemis made her way toward the scanner-like thing that would take them to the Justice League's public base.
"Woah, are you crazy?" Wally gasped, planting his feet. This action made Artemis stop as well, but she continued to tug on his arm.
"No, we need to get out of here."
"We're not in our costumes, we just look like two teens who wanted a midnight snack," She growled.
"A midnight snack?"
She took his moment of confusion as an advantage and shoved him forwards. The machine picked up their presence immediately and stated their names and numbers, spewing them out into the public base.
As they materialized, Artemis began to tug him along again, toward the entrance.
Once they were out in the parking lot, she stopped. Wally stopped as well and looked over at her, still puzzled.
She stared straight ahead of her for a few moments, and then turned to look at him.
"It would help if you could, like, run us somewhere," She stated dryly, looking at him pointedly.
"Oh," He said, suddenly feeling too exhausted to argue, "Where to—I guess?"
She gave him an address in Star City and he stared over at her, mouth open and perplexed.
"I have to run that far?" He whined.
She punched him in the bicep and he groaned, rubbing it as it throbbed.
"It's not like you've never done it before," She snapped.
"Fine," He muttered, but then a cynical smile crossed his lips. "But there's no guarantee that your ride will be a comfortable one."
Before she could even take a breath, she was aware of his arm snaking around her waist and the world around her blurring. The speed made her jerk back into his arm and her side began to pulse painfully. She became lightheaded after a few moments, and it seemed as though this moment would never stop.
But, finally, it did. Everything whirred to a standstill and she found that he had released her, letting her stand on her feet. The world spun around her and she stumbled forward, panting. She let everything come into focus again before she spoke.
"D-Do you usually run that fast?" She demanded, coughing.
"No. I was running at the speed of sound," He said, smiling smugly.
She took a step forward to punch him hard in the arm again, but she was still unstable and ended up stumbling into his chest.
He caught her easily and she looked up at him, angry blue eyes glowering straight into amused green ones. Her lightheadedness faded as she realized how close they were.
She drew back and grabbed onto his forearm again, stepping slowly toward the late-night shop. She tested her weight on her right foot before stepping onto her left. After only a few seconds, she decided to trust herself with walking and she reached the glass door. She gripped the handle, pulling it open.
Wally grabbed the door and held it open for her as she limped to the closest table. He almost felt bad for going so fast when he was carrying someone who wasn't used to it, but he quickly pushed that away. She was a nuisance, and this little outing was useless. It was just a way for her to get under his skin. He was also slightly suspicious that Kaldur had seen him so messed up first, and had woken Artemis up and told her to help him in a way, hopefully fixing their hateful relationship. He wouldn't put it past the Atlantean to do something like that.
She pulled out a chair and sat down with a gasp. He took a seat across from her, rather grudgingly.
"Alright, you're telling me what's wrong. Got it?" She hissed.
He already had a rebuttal for this. In fact, he had come up with it only moments before. "Why do you care?"
"I just do! I hate seeing people so screwed up like you were."
"I was not."
"Were too! 'I'm okay, I'm okay,'" She mocked him. He wondered how long she had been watching him. Had he been too caught up in his horror to realize he was not alone, he realized.
"So what if I was?" He snarled, "It was a nightmare. Everyone has them. Even Batman."
She shook her head, and her face became unreadable. "Like I said, I hate seeing people so screwed up. That's one of the reasons I wanted to be apart of the Justice League. To help people."
He had previously been avoiding her blue eyes, but he found himself looking towards her, shocked to hear her being so open with him. She had always been brutally honest, but this was kind of… different.
"Even me?" He asked, voice harsh.
She paused, her eyes narrowing. "Even you."
Reluctantly, he launched into the story of his nightmare. She listened silently, her face devoid of any emotion whatsoever. When he got to the part about seeing her, she still remained the same. He was kind of embarrassed about that. After all, he had been dreaming about her, and it wasn't exactly easy to tell the girl you absolutely hate that she was apart of your mind, even in sleep.
When he was done she continued to stay silent. The quiet became tense and Wally grew to be uneasy. He looked down at his fingers and began to fiddle with his thumbs. The speedster could never stay still, after all.
After a few moments the archer stood and Wally looked up. She turned around and walked over to the counter of the Sweet Shop. His green eyes followed her every move curiously.
She leaned over the counter and he saw her pointing out a few different things that were unseen to him. The black-haired girl that was employed at the place nodded and began to retrieve Artemis' order, placing the wrapped things on the counter and tapping on the keys of the register, bringing up the price of $12.96. Artemis reached into the pocket of her pajama bottoms—He hadn't noticed that there was a pocket before—and produced a few crisp bills. She carefully counted the money, placed it on the counter, and the girl opened the drawer of the register with a ping!
Seconds later, Artemis was walking back to him, treats in hand. She sat down silently and laid the things on the table. She selected one of the larger sweets and began to unwrap it, slowly. She was staring at it in thought.
Wally blinked and looked down at the table as well. She had bought what looked to be a bar of chocolate fudge, and a couple of giant Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. He chose one of the peanut butter cups and began to unwrap it as well, only he did it much faster. He broke a part of it off and stuffed it in his mouth, chewing noisily.
Eventually Artemis got the wrapper off of her candy, revealing it to be a large rainbow lollipop, and began to lick it slowly. He was sickly aware of her tongue softly tracing the border of it.
He looked down at his hands again, feeling like a pervert. It was gross to watch any girl lick a lollipop… right? He felt so weird all of a sudden, he couldn't be sure.
"So, you're scared?" She said all of a sudden. His head jerked up and he stared with her, slightly shocked and outraged all the same.
"I don't get scared."
"Sure you don't," She said sarcastically, continuously licking the lollipop. He realized that there was a pattern to it. She would lick it from the bottom to the top, and when she reached the top, she would start at the bottom again. He became transfixed with that. It was slightly annoying.
"I don't get scared," He said again, blinking out of the trance.
She paused in licking the lollipop, breaking the spell. "Wally, just by the way you were acting in that bathroom, I know you were scared. Don't deny it."
He didn't. He stared down at the middle of the table, eyes narrowed as he refused to openly admit that, yes; he had in fact been scared. Scared out of his mind. So scared that he was letting the person he couldn't stand the most help him come over his fear.
"It's nothing to be ashamed of," She scoffed, "Everyone has a fear."
"Yeah, but mine's pathetic," He spat, "No one admires you for being scared of loneliness."
"There's worse," She offered, "You could be scared of clowns."
"Naw," He said, actually uttering a laugh, "That's the popular thing. Everyone is scared of clowns. That guy from Zombieland started the trend."
"I'm not scared of clowns."
He looked up, a glare blatant on his face. "You don't count as everyone."
She took the hint in the wrong way. "Then what do I count as?" She asked smugly, raising an eyebrow.
"Never mind." He looked down at his hands again.
"Do you usually do that?" She hissed.
He looked up for the second time. "Do what?"
"Avoid the subject? Secretly push everyone away? Cover it all up with jokes, smiles, and that jackass attitude of yours?" She ground out, venom covering every word. "Am I the only one who sees it?"
He stared at her, fuming. He grit his teeth together and his eyes flashed around the room. He needed an escape route from that conversation.
"What's your problem?" He fired back, "Why are you so mysterious? You're almost as bad as Bats and Rob! Hell, no one knows your history, Oh Great Niece of Green Arrow!"
She flinched away from him at that and leaned back in her chair. He felt bad suddenly, but pushed that away. He was supposed to be angry with her right now. Not empathetic.
"You don't want to know my past. No one does. There are more important things," She muttered. And this time, she was looking down at her hands as she held the lollipop in her lap. She was avoiding his gaze.
He narrowed his eyes. He didn't like that. Negativity was his secret burden to bear, not hers, or anyone else's. He couldn't stop his next movement. It was like he was standing outside of his body and watching himself.
He leaned across the table and his hand snaked under her chin. He lifted it gently, making her have eye contact with him.
"I do want to know," He said quietly, the intensity of the moment making his body quiver.
She stared him directly in the eye, and he felt like he could see everything about her, straight down to her toenails. It was like she was completely exposed to him. She looked defeated, ashamed, sad…frightened. He hated this. He hated this version of Artemis. But, then again, he hated the other version, too. Just not as much as this one.
She pulled away from him, breaking their proximity. She was very aware of the goose bumps that had formed on her skin. She stood and began to lick her lollipop again, seemingly unfazed.
"You're straying away from the topic again," She said, but it didn't sound like her at all. Her voice had quivered, almost like she was close to crying. He decided that he hated that, too. She needed to be happy and bitchy at all times, like the Artemis he had thought he knew so well.
"I didn't realize," He said bitterly, his dislike for her sadness evident in his voice.
She sighed dejectedly. "Look, it wasn't real. I know that doesn't help, but you just need to know that. From what I know about you, and from what I've seen, your cockiness gets you friends and familiars everywhere you go," She managed a smile, "Unless you have to go spend the winter in an old hotel in Colorado, I'm pretty sure you're safe from loneliness and insanity."
He smiled indignantly in return and stood up as well, stretching his legs. He reached across the table and took her by the forearm after grabbing the two remaining treats on the table and handing them to her.
"Come on. Let's go home," He said.
They made their way back to the public base slower than before. He tried not to freak her out again.
They materialized back at Mount Justice moments later and began to quietly make their way back to the rooms that the Young Justice members occupied. They reached Artemis' room first and she turned silently to go inside, but was stopped as Wally caught her arm.
She turned to him, not making eye contact.
"You're welcome, or… I'm sorry, okay?" She muttered. She was vaguely aware of a sad smile crossing his face.
Out of nowhere he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close and she was enveloped in the best aroma she had ever smelled in her life. She couldn't even describe it.
Unsurely, she reached up and draped her arms around his neck. A small tear escaped her eye as she recalled that he had brought up her past, a touchy subject for her. No one but Batman, Red Arrow, and Green Arrow himself knew that she was not Green Arrow's niece. She was so ashamed…
"That first one was valid," He whispered, and strangely, her skin tingled where she was very sure that his mouth was. He pulled back after what seemed like an eternity—a very nice and good smelling eternity—and rested his hands on her shoulders. She wasn't much shorter than he, but he could still look down at her.
What shocked her even more was the fact that he realized she was crying, cupped her cheek with his right hand, and wiped a tear away with his thumb. Wordlessly, he leaned down and planted a small, lingering kiss on her forehead.
"Thank you," He whispered, and almost as if he had never been there, he left. Leaving behind only a rush of air.
Artemis was left with a pocketful of sugar and the lollipop in her hand. She stared down at it, and after a few seconds, she smiled.
I'm not immensely proud of this, but I'm not ashamed. I know I made Wally darker than he is (Shame on me…) but it was appropriate for this story. All relationships aren't gushy, mushy, you know! :P
Anyway, please leave me reviews. I'd love to do something like this again, and would love to know what you thought about it.
Please visit the Young Justice Challenge Forums! They're pretty amazing!