Disclaimer: I don't own anything recognizable.
A/N: Just a little good-bye to summer, I think (Mine's almost done.) It's fluffy and romantic and actually kind of too sweet, but whatever. I like it. I've missed writing Wally/Artemis, and this was the first fic of that pairing that was actually fun to write. Anyway, please review, I'd really appreciate it.
before the gold and the glimmer have been replaced
another sun soaked season fades away
you have stolen my heart
- Stolen, Dashboard Confessional
Another Sun Soaked Season
He takes her places that summer, places that she never thought she'd get a chance to see. They are their own personal road trips, starting in one of the most depressing places in the entire East Coast and ending up in some spectacularly beautiful part of America before going back again.
Wally knows where they are, he tells her, because he's been to those places before. Always just exploring the continent on his own two legs, taking himself wherever he wants to go. He also tells her that she's the only girl that he's ever taken to his special corners of the world, the shore of that beautiful lake in Colorado, the rocky beach up in Oregon, the edge of the woods in Arkansas. Artemis likes to pretend that the reason he's only ever taken her to those places is because she's been the only one that he can, but because she's special. Different.
She'd never admit it, not in a million, thousand years, but her favorite parts of these trips aren't the destinations. Sure the places are beautiful, and sure she'd probably never find them on her own, but it's almost disappointing to get to point B.
Artemis likes the journeys there more. She likes jumping into his arms, listening to him make a noise as though she's getting heavier each time he picks her up. Artemis likes arguing with him about it, pretending that she's mad even though she's not because she knows that he's kidding. She likes the way Wally apologizes, half assed of course, before they go off in whatever direction he feels like going that day.
This part is the most embarrassing, which is why she'll never tell him, not even if he asks. Artemis is willing to lie about it if it gets to that.
She leans into his chest and closes her eyes, feeling the wind whip through her hair. She likes being in his arms, listening to the way that his heart races. He always smells so good too, like soap and the food that he'd eaten before he came, and Wally. She sniffs him, but only so he doesn't notice.
These moments don't last long, super speed and all that jazz, but she cherishes them. Artemis hoards them just in case one day there aren't any more, so that she'll be able to place them in front of her and count them, holding them close to her heart.
The beach is a favorite haunt of theirs. Most of the time they go up to Rhode Island, to be with the team, but sometimes Wally takes them in the opposite direction and they make their way up and down the West Coast.
She wears bikinis most of the time, if only to torture Wally a little bit. He stares, but protests when she points that out. She looks at him too, but she's more subtle about it, and he doesn't notice. He's skinner than her usual sort of guy, but his muscles are still prominent and and hard and smooth. His stomach is nice and flat and she loves it when she can put her head on his shoulder, just the two of them. She pretends she fits there.
Artemis likes Happy Harbor the most, though. It's one of the places that she's the most comfortable, and being around her friends is always nice. Sometimes she and Megan play in the water with the boys, usually things like Frisbee and football, but most of the time they sit on the edge with their toes in the water. Megan is obsessed with tanning that summer, even though it doesn't matter because she's green and nothing is going to change that. Sometimes Artemis wonders if the Martian should watch as much TV as she does.
"I love days like these," Megan says, laying down on her towel, and Artemis has to agree.
They kiss a lot that summer. It's one way to shut Wally up, and it can be used against him. He likes kissing, almost as much as she does. He's actually pretty good when they start making out- surprisingly so, actually- but sometimes he's still a little awkward and does weird things with his tongue.
He learns though, under her teachings, and she feels more accomplished training him than she has any one else. Soon he's one of the best kissers that she's ever had the privilege to swap saliva with, and she pats herself on the back for that.
"Who taught you how to kiss?" she asks him one day, looking up at the stars. When she was younger, when she could see them, she always wanted to go up and play with them, learn how to shine just as bright as they do. But right then she thinks the ground is the best place that she's ever been.
He is playing with her hair, twisting it and attempting to braid it, even though she always just has to get rid of the tangles when she gets home because he can't braid worth shit. He stops after her question, but his is still in her hair. She can see his teeth glint then, and she knows that he's grinning. "Why? Do you want to send them a thank you note?"
She rolls her eyes at that. "No. I was just wondering."
"Her name was Tiffany. She was in my Biology class. I took it my freshman year, a year earlier than everyone else. She was a sophomore at the time."
"Oh." Before she can stop herself she builds this girl's face in her head. She's a brunette, of course, and she's pretty and has a nice mouth.
"You're prettier than she is, though." He says that so simply that it makes her heart twinge. "What about you? Who taught you?"
Artemis has to stop and think about that. "There was more than one."
"Okay. Tell me all of them."
"Alright." Artemis starts to think then, keeping count with her fingers. She forgets someone and has to go back and add them.
"Seriously, Artemis, it's cool. I really want to know. It's only fair."
"Be quiet. I'm still counting."
"What?" He sounds alarmed and Artemis almost laughs at him.
"Let me think!" She finishes counting then. There are seven. "Well there was Danny Trevino when I was five. His dad and my dad were on the same team at the time, though his dad eventually died and I never saw him after that. Then I was ten when mom finally moved to Gotham, and some guy named Jordan Something double dog dared me to kiss him, so I did. That was bad. And then when I was twelve there was Ken, Garrett, and John. They were one right after another, year after year. I was experimenting then and-"
"I don't want to hear any more," Wally tells her sourly. He sounds jealous. Artemis does laugh at him then.
"Don't worry, though." She rolls over so that she's on top of him, one of legs in between both of his. His face is turned away from hers, and her hand is on his chest. "You're still prettier than all of them," she tells him just before kissing him.
The jobs that summer are few and far between, but when there is a job they're far more intense. Just when there is more at stake, the stakes get higher. It's the story of her life and Artemis is used to it. They all get injured at least once, something that puts them out of commission for a few days at least.
When it happens to Wally, though, she's absolutely furious. Because it's her fault. (Always her fault.)
"Don't you ever do anything like that again!" Artemis almost screams at him. "I can take care of myself!" She's furious, absolutely furious, because there was so much blood that she almost started crying and Wally West is not allowed to make her cry, ever. She won't let him.
"What are you talking about?" Wally yells back, because he's not going to back down and neither will she. "I saved you. You should be happy that I'm okay instead of screaming at me like a harpy!"
"I don't need you to save me! I was doing just fine and then you-"
"Just fine my ass! If I hadn't of gotten in the way you would have died."
"You almost died too! How do you think it would have made me feel if you had died? Because it would have been all my fault, just like always!"
She can't believe that she's talking to him like this, but she's just so angry. Even at his accelerated healing rate his face is still painted purple and blue and an ugly green-ish yellow. And because of her.
"I can handle more than you! You try to keep up with the big shots too much, Artemis. I'm a meta and you're not!"
"Oh, so that's what this is about. You did it because I'm weak, because I need protection. Well, newsflash Wally: I don't need your help. I'm more trained than you can ever hope to be, even though I'm just human."
"I didn't do it because you're weak, I did it because I love you!"
Wally looks almost as surprised as Artemis feels when those three words, eight letters come out of his mouth. It was the first time that either of them had ever voiced the thought, and it was obvious that they were an accident.
"I do," he adds softly.
Artemis can't think of what to say. No one, no boy, has ever told her that before. Her mom says it, but sparingly, and her father always had other ways to prove that he cared. But this is different. Real.
She knows she feels the same way, she just can't make the words come out. So she walks away.
He doesn't come to see her for three days, and her mother even notices. Mom loves Wally, she thinks he's charming and funny and sweet. She doesn't say anything, though Artemis notices her mom metaphorically tip toeing around her, even though she was fine, just fine, thank you very much.
It is only at night, when she can't see the stars because of the lights and the smog of Gotham, that she allows herself to miss him. It's their first real fight as a couple, and she hopes it's their last, even though knowing both of them and their stubbornness it won't be.
When he does show up, though, there's no grin on his face, there's no smart comment coming from that mouth. Wally doesn't say anything, and that's fair she guesses. He's already said everything that he can say. It's her turn now, and they both know it.
"Sorry," she mumbles.
"I'm. Sorry." This time she exaggerates each syllable so that he can't claim not to hear her. Neither of them are great at apologizing. "I overreacted and it was stupid. I was terrified, but that was no excuse."
"And the other thing?" She realizes that he's nervous as he says this, because he can't look at her in the face for the first time.
"And... and I love you too." Her throat is dry as she says it. She never thought that she'd ever say those eight letters all strung together and in that order, but she just has and it's scary. Almost as scary as seeing Wally bleeding on a dirt floor.
He doesn't say anything for a long time, but then he grabs her face and kisses her and she knows that she's forgiven.
He takes her on a really lame and cheesy date after that, to make up for it. He takes her to Keystone City and takes her to one of those drive in movies (he'd gotten his licensee that June, to which Artemis said, "Watch out on the roads!" and was promptly asked to shut up). He buys her a popcorn and coke, and she buys the movie tickets, proclaiming that it's only fair if she pays for part of it even though he protests.
He puts his arm around her and she can't help but feel like, minus the poodle skirt, she's in Grease playing Sandy. Grease, incidentally, is what is playing that night.
He takes her home after that, talks to her mother, and gives her a quick kiss before he's off. It's all very fifties-esque.
She'll give him hell for it later, but it's one of the best nights of her life.
The summer flies by at too fast a pace for Artemis, or even Wally, to keep up with. There's more hand holding and kissing, more traveling and cheesy lame dates that Wally proclaims are romantic (and that Artemis says she hates but really loves).
She isn't sure, but she's pretty sure that it's officially her favorite summer ever.
They go to Mt. Justice on the eve of his first day of school. The Gotham Academy doesn't start until the first week of September, one of the few perks of going to a private school.
"I can't believe it's finally over," she tells him and he nods. Their fingers are intertwined and her head is on his shoulder, just where they fit like a jigsaw.
"Me neither. The weeks seem to stretch out forever until August comes and bites you in the ass."
She nods in agreement. She's not looking forward to being judged because she's a scholarship student, to being hated because she's blonde and half-way attractive. "I'll miss this summer."
"Why?" he asks, squeezing her fingers. "We'll always have next year."