(A/N)- Originally done for a prompt over on the yj_anon_meme on LiveJournal. Uploaded here because, hey, I'm actually really surprised and proud of how I did writing in the cartoon Young Justice universe for the first time.
The prompt called for "Artemis and Robin being THE BESTEST OF FRIENDS and saving the day together." This was relevant to my interests as I totally think Robin and Artemis would be really good friends and just have lots and lots of fun and mutual snarking together. So I filled the prompt and wrote this.
Enjoy new readers and my regular watchers alike!
Disclaimer: New fandom, new characters, this means I've got to think up new creative ways to state how I don't own anything, since that's a force of habit with me that I'm probably not going to shake. Get used to it kids.
Artemis lay on the edge of the rooftop, flat on her back with her arms pillowed behind her head, staring up at the moon and wishing she'd been assigned to one of the other groups. Not that she didn't like teaming up with The Squirt (as she'd somewhat affectionately mentally labeled him), but Batman had to have picked THE dullest mission in the world for them to be on tonight.
Speaking of Robin, though, the kid had finished making his slow practice round-offs back and forth across the roof and plopped down next to her.
"Hey. How you holding up?" he asked, grinning and slightly breathless from his acrobatics.
"Bored out of my skull. You?"
"Not so much," he replied, uncurling his legs and going into a handstand. "Batman takes me on long stake-outs all the time. I'm used to waiting."
"That makes one of us," Artemis sighed.
Robin shifted his weight to a single hand and balanced on it expertly. "I'd suggest practicing forms or doing stretches. You'll get stiff just sitting around like that. And don't worry," he encouraged her. "Sooner or later something'll happen. It might not be relevant or worth our time but something'll happen."
Artemis caught movement on the street level down below in the corner of her eye. "Actually," she said, sitting up, her eyes fixated on the disturbance, "something looks like it's happening right now."
She grabbed a cable arrow from her quiver, shot off a line, and jumped down, disappearing over the edge of the roof. Robin quickly righted himself, pulled out his grappling hook, and followed suit.
He dropped down into the alley behind Artemis. She held a finger to her lips signaling him to be quiet. Voices from in front of the building they'd been watching drifted to them-men's voices, low and muttering. The two crept forward and peeked around the corner.
A group of mobsters in suits fidgeted nervously in front of the decrepit storefront. One of them carried a briefcase under his arm. He seemed to be the ringleader of the motley crew, and he was jitterier than the rest of them.
"They're waiting for something," Artemis observed.
As Robin and Artemis watched, a large black van pulled up to the curb in front of the meeting place. A second van moved into place behind the first. The brakes squealed as the vans halted and several people in militaristic black uniforms with eerie orange-eyed gas masks filed from the cabins and back doors.
"Looks like Batman's intel was right," Robin whispered. "Some kind of transfer is taking place." He let out a small gasp as someone new stepped from the vans-a tall man in a tailored white suit, whose head was covered by a fully-enclosing jet-colored mask shaped like a twisted alien skull. "Woah! It's Black Mask!"
"Bad news I take it?" Artemis asked, cocking an eyebrow.
"Seriously bad news," Robin confirmed, nodding. "He once held all of Gotham City hostage with an advanced neurological bioweapon just because the boss of a rival gang made a crack about his face."
Artemis rolled her eyes. "Well if he's so damn sensitive about his appearance maybe he shouldn't be walking around wearing second-rate Power Ranger costumes."
Robin giggled irreverently, quickly covering his mouth to stifle the outburst.
Black Mask was walking up to the ringleader of the other group, who was visibly sweating as he held out the case. Black Mask signaled to a lieutenant, who stepped forward and took it, cracking it open and taking out a single vial of purple colored liquid. He growled something to his superior, who took a menacing step towards the mobster leader and made threatening gestures with his arms, his voice angry and accusatory.
"He doesn't look happy," Artemis noted.
The mobster leader cowered back, hands up, trying to placate Black Mask. The underlings on both sides drew in closer to their bickering heads. Some pulled out their guns.
Robin's eyes were on the vial. "That's a tube of the super-venom from Santa Prisca!" he hissed. "If Black Mask gets his hands on it, who knows what he'll do!"
Artemis sized up the two groups, taking account of who was armed and who wasn't, who looked dangerous and who was probably out of shape. "I can take the bunch with the police batons on the right," she said.
Robin craned his neck over her shoulder for a better look. "I'll take out that set with a few gas pellets," he offered, pointing towards them.
"Then I'll get those five with a net arrow..." Artemis decided.
"...and I'll put those two out of commission..." Robin added.
"...leaving Black Mask all alone for us to tag-team him," finished Artemis. She flexed her wrists and smiled. "Sounds like a plan."
Robin pulled out a handful of gas pellets and straightened. "On three?"
He didn't have time to get to one. A voice rang out suddenly from behind them.
"Hey! What are you kids doing here?"
Both of them jumped up, startled, and whirled around to face a lookout they hadn't accounted for. Robin tossed down one of the gas pellets. It let off a loud bang and, while it succeeded in knocking out their adversary, it also caused the angry voices in the street to fall silent.
"Shit!" Artemis exclaimed. Then she flinched and glanced uncomfortably at Robin. "Uh... don't let Batman know I said that in front of you," she begged.
He shrugged nonchalantly. "I've heard worse."
Footsteps pounded the concrete, heading their direction.
Artemis turned towards them, fitting an arrow to her bow. "So now what?" she asked.
"Stick to the plan!" Robin told her.
They both darted from the alley. Not wasting any pretense, they charged forward into the oncoming mess of criminals.
It seemed to go smoothly at first. Artemis took care of her first set of targets easily with her arrows, well before they got too close. Robin tossed out several batarangs to disarm those with guns, and then proceeded to use the thugs as human springboards, knocking them down one after the other. Gas pellets popped here and there at their feet, and where they went off crooks coughed and wheezed and fell to their knees. There was a particularly big mobster charging Artemis-she reached back for another arrow, but he was in too close quarters now, and throwing punches at her.
Switching tactics she swung her bow, whacking the man in the face and putting him down. Continuing her arc full circle she hit two more mobsters coming up behind her. One of Black Mask's soldiers came at her next; she parried his strikes with her bow and then booted him in the gut. Robin was running along the tops of the vans now, having dealt with most of his goons already. (She had to admire the kid's efficiency, she admitted to herself.) A goon was raising his gun at her but that was when Robin jumped on his head, and shoved his hat down over his eyes. Artemis knocked the firearm from his hand and then Robin pulled him over backwards so the man knocked himself out when he hit the pavement.
"One massive headache in the morning, courtesy of yours truly," Robin quipped.
Artemis gave a half-smile as she fit an arrow to the string and rounded on Black Mask. He had evidently decided that fighting wasn't for him, as he was currently attempting to hotfoot it out of there. Artemis nodded to Robin and, holding her bow at the ready, started to give chase.
She hadn't gone more than five steps or so when something blocked the left side of her vision at the same time a warning cry rang out from Robin.
"Artemis, watch out!"
She was just turning her head when the blow exploded in her face. It sent her flying back straight into the side of one of the vans. She was out before she hit the ground.
Robin was at her side in an instant, shuriken out and in his hands, nervously facing an immense, unnaturally muscled man in the shredded remains of a once-impeccable suit. The glass vial of super-venom lay on the concrete at his feet, empty.
The thirteen-year-old gave a jittery laugh. "That... wasn't in the plan," he squeaked.
Artemis gave a long groan as she slowly came to.
"And she's alive! One less thing to worry about," came Robin's cheerful voice.
Artemis blinked several times as the Boy Wonder's smiling face blurred in and out. She groaned again, and sat up slowly, putting a hand to her head. Gods the back of her skull was killing her. Where were they? It looked like a sealed room, harshly lit with florescent lights that did not help her stabbing headache. Robin was kneeling next to her.
"Ugh... what happened?" she asked him.
"Well, after you got knocked out, that left me alone facing off against the last mobster and apparently he decided it was a good idea to use the serum they were trying to sell to Black Mask," he explained. "And I thought, hey, an eight foot tall, three-hundred pound professional violent criminal jacked up on super-venom, how hard could he be to take down?"
Artemis stared at him flatly.
"As it turns out... pretty hard," Robin admitted, slightly embarrassed.
"I'm impressed you even tried."
Robin shrugged. "I'm a thrill-seeker, what can I say?"
"So then what happened?" Artemis pressed.
"Black Mask's goons woke up, overpowered me, tossed us both in the back of a van, and carted us off here. Basically, we've been captured," he finished.
"...Super," Artemis droned sarcastically, her shoulders slumping. "Already working on an escape plan I take it?" she asked, shifting the position of her legs.
He grinned. "How'd you know?"
She gave a shrug. "You just seem like the type to be perpetually prepared for everything."
"Well I was raised by Batman, the Master of Preparedness."
"Good point," she admitted. After a brief moment's silence, she prompted, "So?"
Robin cleared his throat, lifting his left arm and accessing his gauntlet computer. "As you've ostensibly already discovered, they've taken our belts, comms, and your bow. Plus the knife you keep strapped to your thigh."
"Noticed that," Artemis confirmed.
"Fortunately they didn't find my lock-picks or my glove computer. I'm attempting to access the electronic locks on the door through the building's security system. It's a little difficult without an outlet to plug into, though." Robin tapped away at the holographic display, his eyes concentrating hard on the numbers and figures. "I'll have to hack into the servers from the outside, and break through three layers of firewalls."
"It's going to take a while isn't it?"
"Kind of, yeah. Are you bored again?"
"...Wanna play a game?"
"Dis is to aster as cat is to...?"
Artemis scrunched her brows in thought, staring upside-down at one of the blank white walls from the bridge she was currently in. "Astrophe. As in 'catastrophe'," she answered.
"Right. Your turn."
"I'm all out. I think I've sected and mantled the 'fixes off all the compound words I know." Artemis's hands shoved off from the floor and she curled up to her feet. She flexed the kinks out of her arms. "How's it coming?" she asked casually.
Robin was biting his tongue in concentration, his nose an inch from the holographic display. "Almost... there!" he announced.
There were two loud clicks and the door cracked open an inch.
"Ha!" Robin pressed a button on his gauntlet, and the holographic display folded up and powered off.
"I so want one of those," Artemis moaned enviously.
The Boy Wonder uncrossed his legs and stood to his feet. He and Artemis moved to the door and together they managed to shove it open the rest of the way.
A guard sitting in a chair nearby started and looked up from his newspaper. He had enough time to stand up and start to pull out his weapon before Artemis decked him in the head, sending him to floor, crumpled.
The two darted furtively down the hallway.
"First thing we should probably do is get our stuff back," Artemis said, as they turned a corner.
"I agree," Robin said.
They ducked through a doorway to avoid an oncoming patrol.
"Any idea where to look?"
When the patrol had gone they snuck out again. Corridor after corridor passed them in a blur.
"Think you can do your hacker thing, maybe get a floor plan?" Artemis asked breathlessly.
Robin turned on his computer again and tapped at the display, trotting a few paces behind her as she led the way. They emerged onto a catwalk balcony that ringed the edges of a dimly-lit laboratory, and Robin gave a groan of frustration. "Ah! I'm locked out again," he complained, tapping furiously on his keypad. "Black Mask's security systems are better than I thought."
"No problem," Artemis told him in a low undertone, eying a lit computer and a desk on the lower level, behind which was a single occupant. "We'll just ask someone for directions."
She gripped the railing with one hand and vaulted smoothly over the balcony. She landed on her feet, took two long steps up behind the man, and neatly yanked him out of his seat.
"Gah!" he squawked, as Artemis grabbed hold of both his collar lapels and shoved him up against the wall.
"You wouldn't happen to know where they're keeping our weapons and other supplies, would you... Larry?" she asked casually, her eyes glancing down briefly to the name on the man's ID.
"I... I ain't telling you nothin'!" he sputtered, expression fearful. "I'm no squealer!" The man's eyes were wide and bloodshot and darted from Artemis to Robin, who had just followed his teammate over the railing.
Artemis wasn't deterred. She gave a smirk and leaned in closer to Larry's face. "Look, Larry... I know your type. You're not a front liner. You're a pencil-pusher. IT tech support, right?" He looked at her with a jolt as if to ask how she knew but she just continued, "And Black Mask probably doesn't pay you nearly enough for your valuable services. So really, you don't owe him any loyalty. Besides," she added, taking a quick look up at a clock on the wall, "given how long it's been since we made radio contact, I suspect our teammates are getting worried about us." Her smirk widened. "And that probably means they're either going to come here to rescue us themselves or they're going to call the Justice League, and it would be so much better for you if you can say you helped us when they get here."
Robin was biting his knuckles to keep from bursting into giggles. Larry looked like he was going to pee his pants; at the mention of the Justice League his face had blanched.
"So," Artemis continued, in a disturbingly sweet tone of voice, "why don't you just tell us where they put our things, and then run along home to your wife Lauren." She double-checked the name on the computer screen and corrected herself quickly. "Nora. Whatever the hell her name is."
Larry's shoulders slumped in defeat. He closed his eyes, muttering, "Compound bow painted green?"
"That's the one!" Artemis confirmed brightly.
"Armory. Down the hall, right turn, left turn, third passage on the right, heavily guarded."
Artemis beamed pleasantly. "Thanks a ton Larry!" she said, dropping him.
He curled up on the floor where he fell, covering his head and whimpering something that sounded like, "Please don't kill me."
Robin couldn't suppress a big smile as he joined Artemis's side. "Nice. I'd give you an 8.5 out of ten on your Batman-style intimidation technique."
"Flattering," Artemis told him, her smirk returning. "But that was Artemis-style my young apprentice," she said, patting his head.
He grabbed her wrist and tugged her off towards the hallway indicated by the techie. "C'mon."
A few moments later, the two had peeked around the corner to see a large contingent of the uniform-clad soldiers standing about in front of the thick metal Armory door.
Robin whistled softly as he and Artemis backed behind the corner again. "Heavily guarded is right!" he exclaimed. "There must be at least fifteen men in there. And all armed with automatic and semi-automatic weapons."
Artemis took another quick peek. "Sixteen. You missed one on the left, up against the wall cleaning his uzi."
"However many there are... not good odds against two unarmed kids," he said, grimacing.
"I'll say," Artemis agreed. "Think there's another way in?"
"I dunno." Robin looked around them. "Maybe..." His eyes trailed up towards the ceiling and then lit on a grate. "We could try that," he said, pointing to it.
"What, the air vent?" asked Artemis, sounding skeptical.
Robin wagged a finger at her. "Never underestimate the usefulness of an average industrial air vent."
"But that's tiny!"
"I think I could squeeze through," he told her, squinting up at the grate.
Artemis sighed. "All right, give it a try," she relented, cupping her hands together for a foothold. Robin placed his heel in it and Artemis boosted him up, grunting with the effort.
For several seconds the Boy Wonder fiddled with the grate, prying it gently off the vent. Artemis's arms started to strain from keeping him aloft and adjusting to his wobbling balance.
"Jeez, for such a pipsqueak you sure are heavy," she mumbled under her breath.
Finally the cover came free from the vent. Robin placed it inside, braced his hands on the sides of the vent, and hauled himself partly up into it.
"Bit of a tight fit," came his voice, slightly muffled. "But I can manage it." He slipped his shoulders back out of the opening and looked down at Artemis. "Wait here. I'll bring your stuff out for you."
She sent him a warning glare. "If you break my bow I'm going to kill you."
"I'll be careful," he promised, with that familiar cheerful smile. A moment later he scrabbled up into the vent, his legs disappearing through the opening. Artemis snuck nervous peeks down the hallway of bad guys as the soft metallic thumps of the Boy Wonder's progress slowly faded away.
It seemed like at least ten minutes before Artemis heard the quiet shuffling coming back again. She stood upright from where she'd been leaning against the wall and watched the vent opening anxiously. The muted thumping got gradually closer and closer, minuscule inch by minuscule inch. It felt like it took forever for Robin to make his way out. Finally his hand appeared in the opening, clutched around the center of her bow, and then his head poked out.
"Found it," he croaked, slightly hoarse from the dust in the air vent. "I banged it against the walls a couple times, but I think it's okay."
He dropped it down to her, along with her utility belt, quiver, and knife. Artemis caught the things and set about putting herself in order, while Robin pried himself out of the air vent and dropped down to the floor. Artemis finished clicking the latch of her belt and pulled her bow up to eye level, drawing the string and looking down the sight to check the tension and warp.
"What's the verdict?" Robin inquired.
"Seems to be in order." Artemis relaxed her bow and held it at her side. "You may live for now, Squirt," she joked.
He made a face. "Don't call me that. I'm not that short," he protested.
"Please, you're like hobbit-height to me, Robin. Face the facts."
"Whatever, Legolas," he dismissed. He had already put on his own belt and now extracted a set of batarangs from it. "Ready to kick ass and take names?" he asked, a manic grin taking over his face.
Artemis slid an arrow from her quiver and fitted it to the string. "Oh yeah."
The popping of gas pellets had never been a more welcome sound. Though they didn't take down everyone, they pulled up a nice smoke cover to create confusion and hide the two heroes from sight. Many a bad guy that night heard a noise through the thick clouds and turned his head, only to receive a well-placed sock to the face or kick to the neck. Robin and Artemis punched and kicked their way through patrol after patrol on their way out of the building.
"I'm running out of cable," Robin complained, as he finishing tying up yet another trio of henchmen. "You think we've taken out Black Mask's whole crew yet?"
"If we're lucky. But when are we ever?" Artemis replied, shrugging.
They darted through another set of long hallways before emerging onto another catwalk in a much larger room than they'd seen so far. They ducked down behind the railing immediately. Black Mask himself, a few gas-masked soldiers, and an entourage of regular, non-masked underlings were there, yammering into radios and frantically shredding documents.
"Will somebody squash those damn kids already!" Black Mask shouted at a radio, slamming his fist down on one of the many tables.
"Sir, perimeter breach at entrance four," someone from the back wall monitors called to him.
The mob boss gave an aggravated groan. Dropping the radio he waved at his henchmen. "Chuck it in boys, we're getting out of here before the JL starts breathing down our necks."
From up on the catwalk, Robin whispered to Artemis, "Nice to know we're being a thorn in his side."
Artemis was staring straight at the scene below them, her brows scrunched with a look of analysis, evaluating. "If we can block that exit on the far end," she said to Robin in a low undertone, "I bet we could cut off Black Mask's escape. And then if we use those tables for cover and take out that bank of computers we could probably..."
She trailed off, sensing an unusual quiet behind her.
"...and you're already gone, aren't you?" she finished with a small groan. Glancing over her shoulder she saw a conspicuous empty space where Robin had been seconds before, and confirmed her suspicions. "Right. Of course," she sighed.
The clue to Robin's location came a moment later, as a flash grenade dropped to the lower floor and exploded under the corner of monitoring equipment, sending its operators flying back in a shower of sparks. Bewildered exclamations rang in the air. A dark cape fluttered and then Robin was within her sighs again, crouched low to the floor having just tripped a henchman with a spin kick.
Artemis stood up straight, rising from her own crouch with her bow already poised, and shot off an arrow. It flared with a loud bang and collapsed the catwalk on the other side of the room, the twisted metal wreckage falling down to block the only exit. She leapt over the railing on her end and landed in the midst of the confusion. Three flunkies were down before they knew what hit them; Artemis scooped up one of their fallen bulletproof shields and made her way to Robin.
The two ended up back to back, facing off against the roomful of Black Mask's men. Robin saw two henchmen taking aim at him. He twisted around, grabbing Artemis's waist and yanking her in front of him, and she had enough sense to raise the shield in front of her face before they fired. The bullets pinged off her shield with dull thuds, stray ricochets catching one of the gunmen and a few others. Meanwhile Robin was driving his knee into the nose of a soldier, gripping the sides of his gas mask and yanking his head down. Another kick to the chest and the man was down for good. He threw a pair of batarangs in a wide arc; they zoomed about the room disarming mobsters, knocking them over, and then finally pinning a man to the wall by his suit.
Artemis was almost out of arrows now, and was getting ready to shoulder her bow for the moment and pull out her knife. She sensed someone charging towards them in her blind spot and whirled around, striking the man in the shoulder with her shield, in a blow that wooshed over Robin's head. He went down, Robin was turning towards her having dealt with another soldier.
"Duck!" he yelled.
To her credit, she didn't question, just complied. The next moment, his palm was pressing down on the center of her back and he was kicking the faces of two goons who'd been behind her. As Robin dropped to his feet, Artemis straightened and sent him a mildly annoyed look.
"You know, you could've told me you planned on using me as gymnastic equipment."
"Aww, but what's the fun in that?" he said, smiling cheekily.
They both turned and felled villains coming at them. The fight was over after that. There was no one left, save for the once-again fleeing for his freedom Black Mask. Robin sighed patronizingly, pulled out a set of bolos, and tossed them at the villain. The bolos wrapped themselves around Black Mask's ankles, tripping him up and making him yelp. He toppled headlong over one of the broken pieces of catwalk, fell into the wreckage, and got stuck among the bits of railing.
This had the unfortunate side effect of snagging his trousers on a sharp end and tearing a large hole in the seat.
Robin burst out laughing and held his sides as he hooted. Artemis just grimaced and turned away, covering her eyes.
"Okay, that was one thing I never needed to see in my life," she groaned.
She took her palm from her face in time to see part of the opposite wall crumbling. The dust settled to reveal the rest of Young Justice, Superboy in the fore with his fist extended as though he'd just punched out someone. The foursome blinked in surprise at the scene, while behind her she could hear Black Mask muttering, "Cripes, this is embarrassing..."
Kid Flash was the first to recover his voice.
"Aw man! You didn't leave any bad guys for us?" he whined.
"...Sorry?" Artemis offered halfheartedly.
"You're both okay!" Miss Martian exclaimed, floating over and throwing an arm around each of them. "I was so worried!" she said as she pulled back from the hug.
"I'm touched," Artemis drawled.
Superboy lowered his arm as he took a step into the room. Observing the aftermath he commented simply, "Looks like you two handled things okay."
"We are all very glad you are unharmed," added Aqualad. His eyes went to the currently-pouting Kid Flash and he elbowed the speedster in the side pointedly.
"Ow! Yeah, yeah, what Aqualad said," Kid Flash said hastily.
Breathless from laughing, Robin pointed vaugely towards the upper level. In between chuckles he managed to get out, "There are a bunch of bad guys rounded up upstairs."
"On it," Kid Flash told him, saluting and then disappearing up the catwalk steps in a yellow and red blur.
The rest of Young Justice filed into the room and started dealing with the unconsious villains there, Aqualad relaying instructions.
Still giggling occasionaly, Robin came up and nudged Artemis with his elbow. "We should team up more often," he said.
His good mood was infectious and Artemis gave a short chuckle. She raised her fist. "Put it here kid."
They bumped fists and then Artemis mussed his hair (making him "Hey!" in protest) before they went to help the others.