My disclaimer 'jumped' off a roof trying to 'roof dive' and broke its 'dis', so it's a claimer now. I say 'jumped' because claimer claims my muse pushed it, but he'll say anything at this point.
At ten minutes to twelve at night, the front door slammed, footsteps stomped, and a teenage girl screeched. In the kitchen, Paula Crock sighed as she pinched the edges of the taco shells together. The only reason she was still awake at this hour was because Artemis had been gone. The part that is mother never lets her rest easy when her child is out who knows where.
Besides, she would have awoken even if she had tried to sleep. Her daughter could certainly make an entrance. The sound of heated muttering could be heard from the front. Making sure all of the tacos were properly sealed, Mrs. Crock placed them in the oven and wiped the grease off of her hands before going to investigate what a certain red-head had done to illicit her daughter's ire this time.
She came upon the sight of Artemis prowling around their cozy living room in a figure eight around the couch and coffee table. In her hand was one of her sharp arrows, and she absently fingered the edge. Paula parked herself at the doorway and rested one hand in her lap, the other teasing at the rubber on her left wheel.
Artemis didn't even look at her, just continued her relatively quiet prowl. She'd been working on her stealth. If Paula closed her eyes, she wouldn't even know Artemis was there. Still, she did not wish to talk to herself. Knowing what kind of reaction she'd get, she braced herself.
"What did you do to him now?"
Artemis stopped. Her hands fell to her side, and a disbelieving huff of air passed through her mouth. Slowly, she turned to face her mother.
"Me?" she pointed for emphasis, her hand resting on the arrow across her chest. "What did I do? What about what he did? I defended myself!"
Paula frowned, already planning ways of getting to Central City and tracking down a soon-to-be gutted Flash. "He attacked you?"
"I mean, what?" Artemis didn't even hear her. "I'm supposed to just smile and nod when he runs his mouth like that? I should have to take his crap just because that…flaming, arrogant, 'I'm Little Mr. Independent' decided he didn't even want to be on the team? That was his choice that he made before I was even there!"
Paula blinked. This…was a bit more than she'd braced herself for. Artemis' hands were an active part of her tirade, swinging this, stabbing a finger at an unseen target, maybe even slashing that arrow through someone's chest… She was in a rare form this evening.
"What is with them? Is it some genetic thing with red-heads to be so – Gah!"
With a yell, Artemis hurled the arrow, and it sailed across the room and embedded firmly into wall next to the window. The feathered end quivered as silence followed the outburst. It was only broken by Artemis' heavy breaths and a ticking clock.
Absently wondering if the neighbors thought them screaming maniacs, Paula arched a slim brow and pointed. "You're going to fix that in the morning. And I have told you many times, Artemis. Repaying bad with bad will only reap the same."
She scoffed. "Being nice to jerk-offs isn't really something I can see myself doing, Mom. Ever."
"So everyone who is rude to you, no matter who they are, you'll be just as nasty right back. Is that it?"
"Don't twist the situation on me. I told you, he actively has it out for me. He makes it a point to belittle everything I do."
She reached up to remove her mask then crouched down, holding the green fabric between her kness. Paula resisted a sigh. There was only so much a mother could figure out. She was a teenage girl herself once upon a time. Her situation had been…slightly different. There wasn't a guidebook to kids or teens that really covered everything. She was certain there wasn't one for teenaged superheroes either.
"I'm sorry that he wasn't like you'd thought he'd be. On TV, he seemed like a nice, young man."
"Oh, he is. Yeah, to everyone else, but the replacement. Way I hear it, Superboy almost killed them when they first met, I save their lives, him specifically, and I'm Cruella De Vil. And you should see the way he makes a fool of himself over Megan..."
Oh, that tone sounded bitter...hurt.
"I need a shower," she stood, picking her bow and quiver up off the table as she did. She spoke to the wall, "Kid Flash is a pointless inconvenience. I'll deal with him, I'll work with him, but I really don't want to waste any more of my time talking about him."
Paula hooked a finger under her chin as she watched as Artemis marched over to the arrow she'd furiously flung into the wall and pulled it out. Small pieces of sheet rock fell, dusting the floor with a fine powder.
"I'll fix that later." she nudged the mess with the toe of her boot. "Promise."
She walked to the door where her mother still held court. She stopped in front of her, shifting her weight expectantly.
"I cannot make you talk about this," Paula said, "However, I will say this and no more. Keep in mind you don't have to like this boy. You don't have to be nice to him and putting him down at every turn can be your new hobby. While you may no longer speak about him, you will 'waste time' thinking of him to get even and how to beat him all the time."
Waiting a moment for Artemis to lose that look of hopeless horror, Paula reached out and patted Artemis' thigh.
"Move aside, baby. I want to get in here."
She did, stepping aside mechanically, as her mother swept past her. Paula glided to pick the remote control off of the tv stand. Knowing her daughter had yet to move, she turned it on while backing away from the tv. The channels flicked through cartoons, crime dramas, reality, romances before stopping on the national news for the evening.
"And now," a blond woman reporter was saying, "we bring you the heroes who have saved the day once again. Flash, a word, please!"
Artemis whipped her head around so fast, Paula swore she just gave herself whiplash. On tv, Flash was graciously answering all of the reporters' question in that 'I'm everyone's best friend' manner of his. To his side and behind, Kid Flash was handling his own interview with a separate reporter.
"Look, honey. Kid Flash is on tv."
A disgusted snarl preceded an indignant shriek, and Paula turned to see her daughter stalking from the room. Paula shook her head as she turned back around to watch the rest of the interview. Her focus kept drifting the younger Flash.
Six months ago, an announcement that the Kid Flash was on tv would have been met with slamming doors and rushed steps headed toward it rather than away. Six months ago, Artemis would have walked through that door, feigning nonchalance and settle onto the couch, casually asking about the report. Her eyes would stay glued to the red and yellow clad teen and a faint smile on her lips.
Paula had voiced some uncertainty about the color scheme proportions of the red and yellow.
"Hey," Artemis had said, putting her hands in the air, "a guy that can not only wear red and yellow and pull it off can't be all bad."
That first day working with the team, Artemis had come home and thrown out everything she owned that had red and yellow in even the slightest combination. Paula dare not say anything about it being the result of unreturned feelings. If it was, it would pass. Teenage love and crushes were a fickle and common thing. The level of hostility between the two could not be good for their teamwork. Paula knew how badly things could go when you were depending on another person who let you down. And she did not want her walls looking like they belonged in some bar, with all of the patches it would be needing.
This attitude the two had towards each other was something that should work itself out eventually. Eventually, they'd get along better than this. At some point, their fighting wouldn't be a liability. However in between that someday and now, her daughter could make a mistake that she'd regret for the rest of her life. Or it would end her life.
Paula closed her eyes a moment, not wanting to think it but knowing it was a possibility. Not even pausing to think on it, Paula turned off the tv when she heard the shower start. She laid the remote down and replaced it with her phone, dialing what was becoming a familiar number.
Oliver Queen was about to get a very…interesting call from one Paula Crock. If he knew what was good for him, the Emerald Archer would heed this mother.
Just an idea that occurred to me and demanded my attention from all forms of studying. Seriously, I don't think my muse wants me to have a very good academic career.