·I·

With arms held up, they circled each other in a steady rhythm. The leveled soles of Artemis' shoes fell soundless and Black Canary's heels clicked meaningfully to the high fluorescent glow of the simulation training floor. Artemis's wrist removed itself from grinding against the woman's arm before both females switched arms, this time Black Canary's wrist hitting her thin arm. At no point did they stop circling.

Shadows blossomed under the hard lines of Black Canary's concentrated face, from the glow, and even though the image should have appeared ghoulish… it seemed to instead soften the aging lines.

The knot in Artemis's stomach from hours ago grew twice in size. When one of Black Canary's heels wobbled being set down, Artemis took her opportunity to strike, pitching her costumed leg up into a straight kick for the woman's unprotected collarbone. It took a second or two to process but Artemis found that leg twisted hard between Black Canary's clapped hands and her skull rammed backwards into the floor with gravity. Black Canary lowered her stance, dropping Artemis's leg pointed towards the ceiling. "Simulation Training System Override Code 008: Shutdown," she recited calmly.

With a low whir, the fluorescent light beneath them cooled to darkness. "Your head's not in the game."

Like a light switch flipping on, those fierce warrior eyes dimmed to a near-maternal concern on the teenage girl picking herself up. "What's the matter?"

"I'm fine," Artemis growled, flushing, yanking free her ponytail and rewrapping her loosened hairband around her thick hair. "I can't believe you tricked me," she muttered under her breath.

"If your opponent will fall for it…" A brash, knowing smirk. Black Canary stomped her motorcycle-esque boot. "Why do you think I wear these? Practicality?"

Artemis scowled, yanking the back of her hunter green face-mask. "Is training over? I've got geography homework to do tonight—"

"—No." The older woman interrupted with a firm tone, jabbing an elbow out as she placed a hand on one of her hips (voluptuous—Artemis kicked her own psyche with dissatisfaction and the same end results of her last failed attempt of kicking anything), "Because you still haven't answered my question, Artemis."

Should have just kept her mouth shut… should have just…

"It's nothing." Artemis glanced away, and squeezed her eyes shut tight when a heavy, warm hand touched her shoulder.

"You are a better fighter than this. I've seen it. You make very little slip-ups in judgment." Artemis cringed internally. (Don't…) "If something is distracting you, you need to either let it go…"

"Or find a way to relieve it."

·I·

Her mom had already gone to sleep. Artemis rolled over onto her left side, staring out into the darkness of her bedroom, letting her eyes adjust. Her fleece pajama top rode on her stomach as she turned.

What a hell of a day. First official school day in Gotham Academy and looking like a complete dope when she realized there was no one there who gave two shits about befriending her (except that one Richard kid who followed her around at lunch before she chased him off to sit alone at a corner table — hmm, he did a very familiar laugh, probably nothing). Getting scolded by Green Arrow for not checking her backup supplies and arguing with Melodramatic Arrow Boy Junior. Getting her ass handed to her by her team's mentor and avoiding a very sticky conversation-to-be.

And the icing on the cake of this hell day being a note from her Father delivered when Artemis got home and how upset her Mom seemed about handing it over to her, betrayed that her husband would communicate with their daughter, and not her. Artemis's clipped fingernails dug into her flattened pillow.

She was used to the disappointment, in being alone though she had friends back in public school, in Mom secretly and unintentionally hating her… but…

"If something is distracting you, you need to either let it go…"

Sticky conversation indeed. Why the heck was Black Canary so insistent about her personal life? She couldn't care that much… she was just another adult looking down on the kids… Even though Black Canary was pretty cool and she knew more about martial arts that Artemis had been trained in and she was kinda gorgeous and those boots were not practical but it made her legs in the fishnets look so

A familiar sensation of swelling heat started between Artemis' legs and the blonde girl clenched them together, groaning.

"Or find a way to relieve it."

She didn't like girls. Great. Well, Artemis had only dated a few times in her life. Guys were jerks. But so were girls in their own way. And dating took too much commitment on top of her other duties. Black Canary wasn't a girl — and not in the painfully obvious literal sense. No… she was… she felt more than that. Much more than Artemis thought or cared to admit to herself right now.

Shivering in her covers, Artemis squirmed a finger underneath the fleece material of her pajama shorts, underneath the cotton of her underwear quietly.

·I·

"This is day two of the Bagua Zhang training."

Black Canary tossed her hair back over her shoulder and Artemis kept her eyes trained to the center of the woman's forehead. "The masters of this art believe that Bagua Zhang is about flow, about being able to avoid contact and to be able to fend off multiple attackers. But…" A sudden smile. "…This time I thought we would try some meditation. Do you practice, Artemis?"

At the single head shake, Black Canary stepped to the side of the room, gesturing for her.

"I'm worried about your recent ability to become distracted. Meditation will help." When Artemis joined her, hands gripped her in place. "I want you to close your eyes. Focus on inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth slowly. Repeat this. Don't let your mind wander."

The teenage girl obeyed, straightening her pose and sucking in a breath. Letting go. In. Go. In. Go.

"Remember your hand techniques." Hands eased Artemis's arms up into formation (—and her body was sweating, gasping, as her finger—). "This training is also about coiling and uncoiling your body." In. Go. (—rocked inside her, wet, so wet—) "You're doing very well." A whisper. Pressed to her ear canal.

The arrow on Artemis's chest heaved in cramped. "…No."

"No?"

Artemis jerked away as Black Canary asked this confused, and she ran.

She ran because she knew that she wouldn't be followed.

There could be no relief from this.

·I·


YJ is not mine yah yah etc… one of my closest friends Cass asked for a Black Canary/Artemis (and recently this lovely little anon reviewer VenusDivine requested it as well) and of course I make it angsty. I WAS GOING FOR A TEENAGE-STRUGGLE TAKE WITH REALISM I SUPPOSE. AARGH. Thoughts? You are more than welcome to share. ;3