Artemis did not usually consider exploring the different upper floors of Mount Justice.
To explain why exactly… it was partly because she wasn't living there like Superboy or M'gann, and the other part… well, because the last time she tried, Artemis may have tripped some kind of alarm-set protocol by entering a "prohibited area" (not mentioned by ANYONE) that barricaded her in one of the elevators for HOURS. Small, confined spaces for long periods = clearly, a not happy Artemis.
(Irrational fears were a pain in the ass.)
No one was questioning Robin the morning he hurried through the corridors downstairs with potted plants. Ah huh. That's right. Potted plants. Pink and purple and lavender-colored ones with sunshine yellow centers. They were very… girly. And to see someone like Robin running around with them was very… weird.
So she followed him. Even if anyone else didn't cared or saw him, she wanted to know what he was sneaking around for.
Robin had always been a bit of a mystery. Anything discovered to shed a little light on what made him him would be worth investigating.
Artemis had to excuse herself from the middle of the card game on the floor of the recreation room with M'gann who kept asking if poking was involved, and truthfully, Artemis was not that crushed about leaving. Her acrobatic teammate cradled three of those ceramic terra-cot colored pots in the crook of one arm as he stepped into the Cave's elevators. Aaaarrrggghhh… crap.
Taking a deep breath for confidence, Artemis counted out a minute in her head before climbing into the elevator next to the one he took.
"Level 26" glowed dully in green above the entrance — the number she pressed in to the barcode.
The gears to the elevator quaked unsteadily halfway up, and Artemis fought against panicked nerves, clutching against the metal-bar sidings of the elevator.
A ding. And the elevator doors opened smoothly to view… nothing. Just… an empty looking corridor with several steel, sliding doors.
Her blonde eyebrows knit together.
Tentatively, she pressed the doors button again. A WHOOOSH! of swift and humid-warm air pushed her blonde ponytail over her shoulder.
Artemis turned around to another set of elevator doors, blinking against that rushing air to catch sight of her caped target rounding a corner down another identical-looking corridor in front of her. She took off, jacket flapping, skidding the corner, and… uh… WHOA. She ran right into a gigantic, open space filled with… plants.
Like a jungle. Many types of vines, leaves, flowers, even trees taller than a second story house. High above were rafters designed with window after window, stretching the entire ceiling and letting in the sun. In the center of it all, slightly obscured by some of the greenery, a cluster of laboratory tables laid out with glassware and distillation equipment and other items Artemis was sure too complex even for the advanced chemistry students.
Artemis stepped forward, awestruck expression fading a little as she closely examined a used beaker coated with… moss? "Be careful with what you are touching," Robin warned her from somewhere in the vicinity — and there he was, a foot or two away, kneeling near a patch of dark soil with those potted flowers he came in with.
His usual black, armored gloves covered with dirtied gardening ones. Artemis wondered sometimes in the past if they were adhered to his own skin.
She shrugged nonchalantly, placing down the beaker with a muted thud. "I didn't even know we had a hothouse."
"Just got it finished. Batman was going to announce it sometime tomorrow during the meeting. But what he won't tell you is that it is technically a second facility to the Batcave for growing botanical antitoxins on a level comparable to Poison Ivy's immunity to Joker venom," he informed her without looking up, punching his miniature, red-handled trowel in his right hand to stick upright in the ground, and sliding off the gardening gloves. A smug, Robin grin. "At least that's what the confidential files said about the trial experiments being conducted."
Artemis pointed a finger towards the window-panel ceiling. "Isn't this security hazard? This is the top of the mountain, right?"
She blinked. Robin stepped around her to head for a sink, rinsing the gloves. He didn't add anything. "…That's it?" she said annoyed, "Reinforced?"
"Trade secret," Robin finally spoke up, imitating the gesture of tapping his closed lips. Artemis rolled her eyes. More like stupid Bat secret.
"If any of that glass above us breaks, this entire level of the mountain goes on lockdown. Nothing gets past. Even though, heh heh, nothing's really ever failsafe." His mask glanced up at her purposefully. He switched off the faucet with a jerk. "But, I'm sure that's unimportant compared to your reason for sneaking around up here… were you looking for something?"
Artemis pursed her mouth into a thin line.
She bent over to snatch up one of his pots, asking as she stared harshly at the tag on the bottom of it, "So, what the hell could be so special about a…?" Her dark gray eyes widened a size. She began laughing after a moment. "…You've got to be kidding me."
"Actually, no, the Ancient Greek language would call it ἀστήρ," the heavily accented syllables rolled fluently from Robin's lips, "Mostly everyone knows the genus name from its origin in the family Asteraceae."
"Got it…" Artemis mirrored his amused smile. "Aster. You are gardening aster."
Robin cackled, bumping her shoulder with his. "I've got lots of it to spare, Arty."
With a small, outward wince, she shook her head. Should have seen it coming… he was almost as awful as Flash Boy. Almost.
It had been an hour and a half. And they were still there talking.
Artemis dangled a dark violet and strangely twisted-looking root in her face, squinting at it. "So you think that this can reverse the effects of Scarecrow's fear gas?"
"Not by itself." Robin maintained, leaning over what looked like a scribbled-in textbook. "It needs to be compounded and analyzed further but it's a possibly. There still is research Batman needs to do."
Joker. Poison Ivy. Scarecrow. The big guys in Gotham. Sheesh… Batman had a lot on his plate.
Artemis sighed, dropping the root. "Being trapped somewhere for a long time. Like the damn elevators. But forever."
(Why am I…?)
She shuddered, straightening up a stool. "That would do it for me. Make me give up. What about you?" Robin's hands slammed the textbook shut. With anyone else, they may have jumped startled but Artemis only stared as he started packing up items on the lab table in a bag. "…Robin?"
She frowned befuddled at him. "…But you do that all the time. You even do it on purpose sometimes when we're on missions."
Robin zipped up his bag with intented force. But his voice was barely above a whisper. His yellow and black cape fluttered out the doorway.
"I didn't say me."
There was a lot more to Robin than anyone knew, more than what he did or didn't tell Artemis that day.
And… she didn't think he was ever going to feel obligated to.
Electrophilic on Tumblr wanted a story about Robin and aster flowers. Aaaaaand there was angst. Taa-daa~