A/N: I wondered what it was like for Artemis when she had to change schools to Gotham Academy. Apparently I wondered about it too much, because this story happened.
She stared at her reflection in the mirror, glaring at the dark blazer, the starched shirt and tie, the ironed pleated skirt, the tall stockings, and the shiny new dress shoes.
It was official. Artemis's reputation was shot. She could hardly recognize the person looking back at her in the new Gotham Academy uniform. Even her pony tail was replaced with a nondescript French braid. Gone was the tough, badass chick exterior, and in its place stood something softer, reserved, and even ladylike. Artemis shuddered at the thought of that word being associated with her and briefly wondered what her dad would say if he could see her now.
Her fist clenched involuntarily. It didn't matter what he thought anymore. She was doing this for her mom. Speaking of which…
"Artemis! Hurry up or you'll miss the bus!" came her mother's voice from the kitchen.
It wasn't the Academy's bus Artemis was going to miss. The students that went to the Academy were above such petty modes of transport. No, Artemis had to catch the city bus, which, of course, would only ostracize her further from the other students when they found out.
"I'm doing this for Mom," Artemis repeated over and over in her head as she clutched the sack lunch her mother made, clinging to the hanging loop on the bus ceiling. The bus lurched again, pushing Artemis into a middle aged man talking too loudly into his cell phone. Another sharp turn and the man's coffee managed to spill all over the front of Artemis's blazer.
She arrived two blocks away from Gotham Academy fifteen minutes later, thoroughly disgruntled, still trying to air out her jacket. It was mostly dry by the time she reached the front gates of the school she had always despised. It was full of those hoity-toity snobs that could care less about anyone whose parents didn't make a seven digit salary. Artemis thought of all the friends she'd left behind at Gotham North, of the reputation she'd built there. She thought of all the insults and smack she was going to get here when they found out she was a nobody.
But, in true Artemis fashion, she lifted her head high, squared her shoulders, adjusted her book bag, and marched up the steps to the administrator's office. "For Mom," she whispered.
Compared to Wally's first day of his sophomore year, Artemis didn't fare too badly. In fact, Artemis seemed to go unnoticed by her peers until lunch.
She was putting her books into her locker when an arm came out of nowhere and slammed into the locker next to hers. Artemis spared a glance at the tall, muscular jock now leaning dangerously into her bubble. She tensed momentarily, quickly calculating the fastest way to incapacitate the moron. Then she remembered how happy her mother had been at her acceptance to this school.
"Hey babe, want to go grab lunch?" the guy smirked, his letterman's jacket showcasing all his football accomplishments for everyone to see. Artemis sighed as she put the last of the books away and grabbed her lunch, ignoring the idiot still standing next to her. She couldn't risk expulsion from fighting, but that didn't mean she couldn't intimidate the guy. Artemis closed her locker and began to walk away, mentally counting down in her head. Three…two…one…
"Hey! I was talking to you!" The jock's hand had barely come to rest on Artemis's shoulder when she spun around, twisted his hand, wrist, and arm back, and had him on his knees.
"Don't call me babe," Artemis said in a low, deadly tone that told him she meant business.
She released his arm, and walked away, as cool and unruffled as before. The football player watched her leave, seething with both pain and anger.
By the end of the lunch hour, half the school heard what had transpired between Artemis and the Academy's star linebacker. By the time the last bell sounded for the day, everyone knew the only reason Artemis was at Gotham Academy was her Wayne Foundation Scholarship.
So much for keeping a low profile, Artemis thought as she ignored another round of jeers from a BMW full of spoiled, dolled up super brats.
"Go back to Gotham North, white trash!"
"Are you walking back to the slums now?"
Artemis continued walking tall, the insults dying down the further away she walked from the parking lot full of expensive cars and chauffeurs. She was thankful no one drove toward her bus stop.
By the time she arrived home, Artemis didn't want to see anyone—not her mother, not her teammates, not anyone. She flopped facedown on her bed, willing it to swallow her whole.
"How was school, Artemis?" came her mother's voice from the doorway.
"Oh, you know, fine," Artemis lied.
"Did you meet lots of new people?"
"You have no idea," Artemis mumbled to herself. "Yeah Mom, lots of new people."
"Good!" her mother beamed, oblivious to Artemis's sullen mood. "Well, I made you a snack, so come wash up."
"Okay, be there in a second," Artemis said, turning her head to the side. As her mother's rolled back toward the kitchen, Artemis let out a deep sigh which seemed to release everything she'd been holding in all day. Artemis was strong, but she wasn't immune to everything the world threw at her. All that she had sacrificed to make her mother happy weighed down her mind, and Artemis began to realize that more than just her reputation was shot.
"Recognized, Artemis. B07."
The archer walked past the couch where Robin and Kid Flash were killing zombies on the big screen and around the table occupying Miss Martian and Superboy pouring over English homework.
"Hey Artemis!" Megan waved. "Want to try some of my brownies? I used a new recipe!" She gestured to the half-eaten pan on the table.
"No thanks," Artemis replied, continuing on her beeline toward the training room.
"What's the matter, Blondie? Afraid you'll ruin your perfect abs?" Kid Flash taunted from the couch.
"Can it, Baywatch! I'm not in the mood." SLAM! went the door. The room seemed unnaturally quiet as the video game was paused.
"Uh, is it just me, or does she seem grouchier than usual?" Kid Flash asked no one in particular.
"She did seem really upset about something," Megan replied hesitantly. "Do you think we should go talk to her?"
"No," came Aqualad's voice from the doorway Artemis had just vacated. "She's training with Black Canary now. I think she just needs some space."
Kid Flash turned to his best friend as the game was resumed, the sounds of guns and zombies dying filling the air once more.
"Dude, what do you think's wrong with her?" Kid Flash whispered just loud enough for Robin to hear.
"She's had a rough few days at school," came Robin's whispered reply.
"How do you know?" Kid Flash's surprise evident in his voice.
"She transferred to Gotham Academy on Monday, and one of the football players made a pass at her."
"Bet that didn't go over well," Kid Flash gave a wry smile.
Robin grinned back. "No. But you know how popular snobs hate getting put in their place. And then they found out she transferred from Gotham North on a scholarship…"
Kid Flash let out a low whistle. "Gotham North, huh? That's a pretty rough school. So they're giving her crap about it?"
"You have no idea," Robin told him, blowing the brains out of another group of zombies. Kid Flash continued to shoot alongside Robin, his hands manipulating the controller automatically, his thoughts miles away.
After a couple more rounds of mindless killing, Kid Flash made up his mind. "Hey Rob, I'm gonna take a break. You know, stretch my legs?"
"Okay," Robin shrugged, randomly pulling out his laptop—from where, Kid Flash wasn't sure.
The fastest boy alive was off in a gust of wind, heading toward part of an upper floor seldom used by their team now: the training room observation deck. The Justice League had probably used it to watch the more interesting training matches among their comrades. It ran the entire way around the circular ring. One end had been partially covered with tinted glass for those who preferred to watch unnoticed by the participants below.
It was toward this window enclosure that Kid Flash zipped, trying to be as discrete as possible. He managed to stop without the screeching of tennis shoes, but it meant slowing down sooner and having a greater risk of being seen. Thankfully, he saw that both Artemis and Black Canary were too busy in combat to notice his arrival.
Wally had to admit that Artemis had some serious moves, but her focus seemed elsewhere. Black Canary picked up on this divided attention, and in five swift moves, the blonde archer was pinned down once more, breathing heavily.
Unlike before, Artemis didn't leap up, ready for another round. She rolled over to her side, pushing herself up to her hands and knees, sweat rolling down her arms and face. Her breaths came out in heavy, unnatural gasps. Black Canary seemed to consider the girl for a moment before kneeling down and doing something Wally had never seen her do before: she hugged Artemis.
Kid Flash's eyes widened. He expected Artemis to push her away or stand up and stalk off. What he didn't expect was Artemis to start sobbing and to hug her back. It was like some twisted dream where everything was reversed. Kid pinched himself, making sure he was really awake.
"She's only human after all," he mumbled, an unfamiliar wave of sympathy going out to his teammate.
It was at that moment Black Canary chose to look up at the tinted windows. Kid Flash knew she couldn't actually see him, but it was still unnerving how she seemed to be staring him down, occasionally brushing Artemis's hair aside in a comforting gesture.
Canary didn't say anything, but the message she sent to Kid Flash was clear: "Help Artemis."
It didn't take Wally long to run back to the common room. Megan had abandoned her studies in favor of helping Aqualad make dinner. Superboy was still reading a literature textbook, looking rather confused. Robin gave up messing with his laptop in favor of killing more zombies.
Wally plopped down on the couch, whispering, "I need your help with something."
"Is it illegal?" questioned Robin.
"Would Batman approve?"
"Will he find out?"
"Will it be worth it?"
Kid Flash thought back to the image of a crying Artemis. "Oh yeah, it'll totally be worth it."
Artemis didn't think she'd ever been so happy to see Friday in her life. Between hiding from her mom how much this new school really sucked, having her phone calls ignored by her old friends from Gotham North, and listening to the taunts of her classmates, Artemis was ready for a mission or some other distraction. She had no idea this distraction would be waiting outside for her.
Which may have been why she passed the growing group of giggling girls and the pileup of honking cars without a second thought as to what they were looking at. She was just relieved their attention was diverted away from her for once this week. Artemis was walking as fast as she could from her prison when she heard a loud wolf whistle followed by "Hey Beautiful!"
Normally, Artemis would just ignore this and continue on her merry way, but the voice sounded familiar, and something about the pet name clicked in her head. She turned sharply in the direction of the voice, her skirt swishing with the sudden movement. There, standing next to the sweetest black motorcycle she'd ever seen, was a guy sporting a black, yellow, and red custom leather jacket, dark jeans and red sneakers. His helmet obscured his face, but Artemis swore she saw a green eye wink at her before the guy slid down the visor.
Artemis walked briskly toward the bike. "What are you doing here?" she hissed. Everyone around had begun to whisper to themselves about this new development.
"Thought you could use rescuing from this hellhole," Wally replied, handing her a second helmet. He turned and revved his bike, which Artemis noted with some satisfaction, was blocking the parking lot exit. "Hop on."
She didn't need to be told twice. Artemis wanted to get away from there as fast as possible, and if she had to endure riding a motorcycle in a skirt with Kid Flash, so be it. No sooner was the helmet on and her arms around his torso that Kid Flash shot off, leaving the students in his wake thoroughly stunned.
"Where to?" he hollered over his shoulder.
"Anywhere!" she shouted back, hoping he could hear her over the wind.
She figured he must have heard her, for he veered suddenly into a side street, then onto a highway. Artemis turned her head to the side, watching as Wally weaved in and out of traffic, the skyscrapers of Gotham becoming smaller and smaller.
He drove for about thirty minutes before taking a side road that wound away from the highway and eventually turned into a dirt road that dipped down through a forested area. Artemis didn't mind Kid Flash's reckless speeding so much as the bumps that tossed her dangerously around, threatening to launch her from her seat. She unconsciously tightened her grip around his middle.
Five minutes later, Wally slowed down and pulled up to a patch of pine trees. He lifted his visor and cocked his head toward the blonde archer. "You can let go now," he smirked.
Artemis dropped her arms from his sides like he was on fire. After taking her helmet off and climbing off the bike, she smacked him behind the head.
"Oww! What was that for?" Wally demanded, rubbing his head.
"For driving over every freaking pothole in that dirt road! I won't be able to sit for a week!" came Artemis's scathing reply as she smoothed out her skirt, took off her blazer and loosened her tie. It really was too warm out for the school to make them wear so many layers.
"Sheesh. I was trying to do you a favor! How about a little gratitude?" Kid Flash shot back, setting his helmet on the bike.
"How did you find me?" she changed the subject, setting her blazer down on top of her's and Wally's helmets.
"Robin," came Wally's reply as he began to walk down a path Artemis hadn't noticed.
"How much do you know?" she asked, following behind the speedster, pushing low-hanging branches out of her way.
"You transferred from Gotham North to Gotham Academy because you're on a full scholarship."
"That's it?" Surprise was evident in Artemis's voice.
Wally turned around to face her. "Look, if our mentors thought we needed to know more about you, they would have told us. Contrary to whatever you may think, we don't hack into old records to dig up dirt on our teammates."
He turned back around, and Artemis, feeling a little guilty for thinking ill of her teammates, followed. "Shouldn't you still be in class? I mean, you go to school in a different time zone and—"
"School sprinkler malfunction," Kid Flash shot her a grin. "I got out early."
"Robin?" Artemis deadpanned.
"Can't be proven," Wally said in a singsong voice.
Artemis gave a small smile. "So, where are we going?"
"Well, you said you wanted to go 'anywhere,' so I figured I'd show you this place. I found it one day when Flash and I were helping Batman and Robin with a case in Gotham. Whenever I had any downtime, I'd go out running to get to know the area… just in case I ever had a chance to come back."
Artemis listened intently, carefully climbing down the hill behind the speedster. "So, it's your favorite nature spot or something?" she asked.
Kid Flash shrugged. "I like to come here if I'm in Gotham and I have a lot on my mind. It's a good place to get away and think."
"Is it far from—" Before Artemis could finish, the heel on her left pump snapped. Artemis slipped down the hill, flinging her hands out to brace the fall. Thankfully, her companion's super speed kicked in, and Wally grasped her left wrist before her butt hit the ground.
"What happened?" he asked, pulling her to a standing position.
"My shoe broke," she told him, picking up the fragmented heel.
"Sorry, I didn't think about your wardrobe," Kid Flash told her sheepishly, rubbing the back of his head.
He looked properly contrite, but Artemis didn't want him to feel bad. "It's not a big deal. I didn't really like these shoes anyway. Are we almost there?"
"Yeah, see that clearing?" Kid Flash pointed to a place fifty yards away.
They were soon upon it, and Artemis's breath caught in her throat momentarily. The clearing was grassy with a few large boulders and plenty of surrounding tree cover. It was bordered on one side by a rather robust creek which gurgled along with the songbirds.
"You found this?" her voice a whisper.
"Yeah," Kid Flash felt pretty self-satisfied at Artemis's reaction. "It's best to come here in the spring and summer, but the fall leaves look pretty awesome too. Hey! Are you hungry?"
"Ummm…" her stomach growled. "A little."
"Wait here a sec," Kid Flash told her. She was about to say something, but he was already back with a bag full of sandwiches. "Have one," he held open the bag for her.
They sat in peaceable silence for awhile, munching on the sandwiches. Artemis perched herself on top of a boulder, her bare feet dangling in the creek. Wally sat on the ground, his pants rolled up to his knees, feet splashing in the creek alongside Artemis's.
She threw the last pieces of her sandwich into the brook, watching as several birds swooped in to claim them. "So, why did you come get me?" she asked, looking down at the speedster eating his fourth sandwich.
"I was in the neighborhood?" Wally shot her a cheesy grin, but he could tell Artemis wasn't buying it.
"I don't believe that for a second, Baywatch."
Wally sighed. "Look, let me tell you something first." He had a faraway look as he glanced into the trees across the way. "At my school in Central City, I don't really have much of a reputation. I'm just another science nerd that isn't good at sports or socializing," he gave her a wry smile. "I'm not the most popular kid there, if you get my drift."
"But you're really athletic," Artemis argued.
Wally waved the comment aside. "Kid Flash is really athletic. Wally's just another awkward fifteen year old who tries to go through high school without embarrassing himself too much."
"But it doesn't have to be like that," Artemis insisted, shifting her position on the rock to face him completely. "You could totally be an All-American athlete. People respect jocks, and you wouldn't be ridiculed."
"But that's not the point," Kid Flash told her gently, as one might explain to a five year old why two and two didn't make six. "I don't care what people think of me at school, because they don't know the real me. I'm part of something bigger, Artemis. And yeah, it sucks when I get made fun of and teased and threatened by popular people that I could totally take if it came down to a fight. But I make that sacrifice, because I can do something that these other kids can't. I'm out there, making a difference everyday. And that's something I wouldn't trade for anything that temporary high school happiness could offer."
Artemis hated it when Kid Flash played the serious, introspective card and started messing with beliefs she held on to survive. She hated it almost as much as she hated to admit he had a point. She didn't want to give him the satisfaction of knowing he was right.
"So what, I'm supposed to be a pushover now? Just turn the other cheek for the next few years until I graduate?" Artemis demanded.
Kid Flash shrugged off the angry counterattack. "No, because you wouldn't be the Artemis I know if you didn't stand up to people." He smiled at her.
"So, what exactly are you saying, Kid?" she asked, annoyed at how easily he could brush off her anger.
"Wasn't there something you used to do at Gotham North that made you happy? That helped you find friends?"
"I played softball in the spring," she told him.
"Ever thought about trying out for softball team here? Or playing volleyball at the Academy?" Wally asked her. "Volleyball is a fall sport, so you could try out now. I'm sure you'd be good at it. You have that killer instinct."
Artemis pushed him halfheartedly at that last comment. "I doubt I'll have time between missions and class. It just sucks, you know? None of my friends from Gotham North will talk to me. They think I've gone off the deep end by going to the Academy."
"They must be pretty horrible friends," Wally concluded solemnly, earning another shove from Artemis.
"They were all right. We were a pretty tough crowd. You had to be to make it in that school."
That sat in silence once more, occasionally listening to a warbling songbird in the trees. Kid Flash stood up, rolled down his pant legs, and said, "You know, Blondie, you really don't need to change who you are just because you're going to a new school. I've read the handbook when Robin was looking for loopholes for—never mind."
Artemis raised her eyebrows, but said nothing. Kid Flash took that as encouragement to continue.
"I mean, you don't have to braid your hair," he tugged the tie off the end of her plait, "or wear uncomfortable shoes. Hell, the handbook says they only have to be black shoes. So you could wear combat boots or tennis shoes or whatever you wanted so long as they're completely black."
Artemis gave a small smile, which seemed to increase Kid Flash's ramblings.
"I mean, not that your shoes aren't nice and that you don't look nice now, because you do. I don't—I mean, the team doesn't need you to change, because I—we think you're perfect the way you are," Kid Flash's cheeks matched his hair at this point. "We should probably go," he blurted out, lacing up his shoes at super speed and looking anywhere but Artemis.
"Okay," she grinned as she slid off the rock. "Just let me put on my socks." The stockings were a bit smudged from the bike, but the one shoe was completely ruined.
"Sorry again about your shoe," Wally said embarrassedly.
"It's not a big deal," Artemis reassured him, debating internally whether or not she should forgo the shoes and just wear the stockings to climb back up the hill.
"Umm…would you like a ride back up to the bike?" Wally offered, trying not to turn any redder than he already was.
Artemis considered it. "Turn around."
"Just do it."
Biting his tongue to refrain from telling her she wasn't the boss of him, Wally turned around, facing away from her. "Okay, so are you going to tell me why—oomfff."
Artemis jumped on his back, her arms securely around his neck. "Okay, go!"
Kid Flash smirked. "Hang on," he told her as he held her legs in place on either side. Artemis took one deep breath before he shot off like a rocket. Her hair whipped behind them, unraveling in the gust. They were back at the top next to the bike before Artemis could blink.
"You can let go now," he told her, and she could practically feel the smirk on his face.
Gently, Artemis slid down, her feet touching the grass next to the bike. Straightening her skirt, Artemis slipped the blazer back on, the chill of the evening already setting in.
"Here, hand me your shoes," Kid Flash said, opening a compartment under the bike seat. Artemis tossed him the pumps, pulling her loose hair back into its custom ponytail. She finished and turned to Kid Flash who was watching her with a glassy-eyed expression.
"What?" she crossed her arms.
"You should wear your hair down more often."
"I—" Artemis wasn't sure how to respond, but Kid Flash already had his helmet on and was revving the engine to life.
"You coming or what?"
Artemis rolled her eyes as she pulled her helmet back over her head and climbed on behind him. Kid Flash waited until she was secured behind him before driving off down the road.
He drove more slowly this time, avoiding major bumps and dips in the road, hoping Artemis appreciated his efforts. Kid Flash could have probably driven a little faster and still avoided these nuisances, but he secretly relished in the fact that Artemis was holding onto him so tightly, trusting him, opening herself up to him. Maybe they could be friends after all…Maybe…
Artemis didn't mind that the trip back to the highway took twice as long. The sun was starting its descent in the west, casting all sorts of brilliant colors in the sky and across the treetops. Her head was tilted to the side again, pressed against Wally's back, observing the picturesque sky and the rapidly growing number of cars surrounding them. Wally could have weaved around them with ease, but he seemed to be in no rush, which Artemis found odd considering how he never seemed to slow down. Come to think of it, she really wasn't in any rush to get back to Gotham either. The team didn't technically have to report to Mount Justice until Saturday, and she had promised her mother she'd be home for dinner by seven tonight. Artemis squeezed Kid Flash briefly but firmly around the middle.
"You in a hurry?" he called behind her, wishing he had thought to put a two way radio in the helmets.
She shook her head against his back, not wanting to admit she didn't want this to end quite yet.
"Want to take the scenic way back?" Wally asked, shouting over the noise of all the engines next to them. She tightened her grip around his torso again. It was all the encouragement he needed to weave through the cars and take the nearest exit.
If Artemis had to describe the drive, she would say they went down the opposite highway for awhile before circling back and taking a winding road bordering the ocean coast south of Gotham. She turned her head to the other side, watching as the vivid sunset colors faded into dark blues over the water.
The skyscrapers of Gotham came into view as the sky darkened, winking with millions of lights as the motorcycle drove the teens closer and closer. When Kid Flash hit the outskirts of town, he hollered back, "Where to?"
Artemis was torn. She could give him any address in the entire city and simply walk home, or she could give him her apartment complex address. She felt she owed the speedster something; maybe it was time to have a little faith and trust him.
Wally pulled the bike up to a rather sketchy area of Gotham. The apartment complex looked old and worn, but the landlord appeared to make great efforts in keeping it clean. He killed the engine and took off the helmet, glancing back at Artemis who had already dismounted and was locking her helmet to the back of his bike. He put the kickstand down and dismounted, opening the seat compartment and handing the broken shoes to the blonde archer. She took them and glanced down at the street, looking anywhere but the speedster, not realizing he was doing the same. It was an awkward few moments before they started speaking simultaneously.
"I should probably head home."/ "My mom's probably waiting." They looked at each other and burst out in nervous laughter.
"Well, I guess I'll see you tomorrow then," Wally said, rubbing the back of his head like he usually did when an awkward situation presented itself.
"Yeah, tomorrow," came Artemis's quiet reply. Then, before she could lose her nerve, Artemis walked over to Wally and pecked him on the cheek. "Thanks for today," she whispered before turning and walking into the building, her blonde hair and dark skirt swishing out of sight.
Wally stood there, mouth agape, brushing his hand over the spot he could have sworn Artemis just kissed. He pinched his arm to make sure he wasn't dreaming. Ouch. Nope, he was wide awake. A dopy smile found its way across his face. Mission rescue Artemis and cheer her up: success. Nothing could dampen his happiness right now.
Not even Batman, who Kid Flash felt more than heard approach him from behind.
"Well Kid, was it worth it?" came the deep voice of the dark knight.
Kid Flash put his fists on his hips, and looked up, wondering if the light that just went on in the room on the fourth floor was Artemis's room. The smile never left his face. "Definitely." He turned to face Batman, still grinning. "So, what's it gonna be Bats? Gonna take away the bike? Ban me from missions? Make me clean Mount Justice with a toothbrush?"
Batman narrowed his eyes. "I know what happened. Robin filled me in on Artemis's less than ideal adjustment to Gotham Academy, and Black Canary told me about the incident in the training room. The question is, why did you get involved."
Kid Flash froze. Why did he get involved? For all intents and purposes, he and Artemis could hardly stand each other in the same room for long, let alone spend a whole afternoon together peaceably. Everyone knew this, including Batman. He could have asked Megan or Aqualad to find a way to cheer her up. So why did he feel the need to step in?
"I just… she's so bullheaded and strong, and when I saw her break down like that…" Kid Flash sighed and ran his hand through his hair. "I know what she's going through. I used to be really popular before I became Kid Flash. I was involved in sports, had a ton of friends, and was really smart. Then after the experiment that turned me into who I am now, I was really angry. It meant giving up that life because I was too busy training with my uncle to have time for anything else besides eating, sleeping, and going to school. It took awhile for me to appreciate what I was capable of, what I had become a part of. Eventually, I saw that if I wasn't so popular, so outgoing, I was less likely to have to lie if I had to leave to go help the Flash on a mission. I got more involved with science, made a few nerdy friends, and basically operated under the radar. By the time I started high school, I had become invisible to everyone I used to know."
"Must've been hard," Batman replied without any real emotion.
Kid Flash shrugged. "It was, but I don't regret it."
Batman looked down at the speedster. "You know you can't do this every week. Your school can't afford to constantly replace its sprinkler system."
Dangit! Kid Flash thought. He knows! Then again, it was Batman, and he made it his business to know everything.
Rather than question how Batman found out, Wally sighed and replied, "I know. But I thought she could use a break from that hell-" Batman's eyes narrowed, "—from the Academy," Wally amended. "And I needed to get out early to do that."
"What do you suggest would be in her best interest to make her adjustment smoother?" Batman inquired, crossing his arms. "Preferably something that doesn't require you ditching class."
"Well, the team and I are working on making her a motorcycle, but it's not done. That way she can make a quick getaway if she needs to," Wally scratched his head. "But she just needs some time. She'll find Robin, eventually—" Batman made a noise of disapproval in the back of his throat—"and she'll have a friend there. But she can handle herself." Wally smiled up at Batman. "Just have a little faith in her."
"I appreciate what you did for her today," Batman told Wally. He held out his palm. Wally sighed, but dropped the key to the bike into the older man's hand. Batman considered the motorcycle. "New paint?" he asked the speedster.
"Yeah, I covered up the yellow so it wouldn't be so noticeable," Wally replied.
"Good thinking," Batman muttered under his breath. Wally still heard. "I'm going to put it back with the others. See you tomorrow, Kid." Batman revved up the engine and was gone without another word, speeding off into the night.
Kid Flash stood there, mouth agape from shock for the second time that night. Batman wasn't going to punish him? Artemis had kissed him? He couldn't believe his luck! "Woooooohoooooo!" he shouted into the empty street, his voice echoing around him. He rushed off toward his home in Central City, high on life and endorphins, blowing past the speed of sound to speeds on par with his mentor, the Flash.
Artemis watched the brief exchange with Kid Flash and Batman from her window, wishing she had Superboy's super hearing. Wally appeared to be explaining something to Batman, and, after listening to Batman, handed over the key to the bike. She watched Wally's dumbstruck expression be replaced with unadulterated joy as he gave a whoop of happiness and sped off in a blur. Artemis rolled her eyes, trying not smile as she pulled the curtains shut. Walking to the kitchen, she helped herself to the rice and vegetables her mother cooked.
"Where have you been all afternoon, Artemis?" her mother asked, handing her a pair of chopsticks. "Were you on a date?"
"Then who was that boy who brought you home on the motorcycle?"
Artemis choked on the piece of broccoli she just put in her mouth. Coughing, she bit out, "WHAT?"
Her mother crossed her arms. "Don't play dumb with me, Artemis. I looked out the window when I heard the motorcycle stop. Who was he? Boyfriend?"
"NO! We're just friends!" Artemis shouted embarrassedly.
"Does he go to Gotham Academy?" her mom asked interestedly, wondering why her daughter seemed so jumpy.
"No Mom. He's on my team," Artemis informed her, eating her dinner as quickly as possible in case her mother was about to embarrass her further.
"Hmmmm…" Her mother seemed to consider this last bit of information. "So, you like him? You think he's cute?"
"MOM! We can hardly stand each other. I do NOT like him OR think he's attractive in any way!"
"But you spent the whole afternoon with him."
"He…um…was trying to be nice. We're on the same team, so we have to try to get along…for our other teammates." Artemis said, trying to think of a good excuse. But deep down, Artemis had to admit to herself that she enjoyed his company today. That didn't mean she liked him! It just meant they were one step closer to being friends…just friends. Or so she told herself. She hadn't seen Kid Flash's expression after she kissed him.
"So when do I get to meet him?" her mother asked, a sly smile gracing her features.
Artemis stood up to put her empty bowl in the sink. "You don't," she said as she went to her room.
"We'll see," her mother whispered when Artemis was out of earshot.
Artemis flopped on her bed, suddenly feeling tired as the days events began to catch up to her. Throwing on pajamas haphazardly, Artemis crawled into bed and turned off her bedside lamp. She smiled, recalling memories from that afternoon. Her reputation may have been shot, but maybe it was worth it. Maybe Wally had a point, and maybe, just maybe, everything would turn out okay.
Soon, Artemis had drifted off to sleep, visions of motorcycle getaways and cute speedsters filling her dreams.
A/N: Well, I hope you enjoyed it. I must admit I'm a big fan of the Kid Flash/Artemis pairing, and after watching "Denial" this story began to form. If everything goes according to plan (and it so rarely does, being easily distracted by brightly colored shiny objects and story plots), it will be related to a series of one-shots expounding upon the development of their relationship. Until next time kids, this is BlackLicoriceAddict, signing off to go eat some black Easter jelly beans.