Her mind was blurred and she felt the taps of freezing rain hitting her skin. Her face was cold and wet. Groggily, she brought up a hand and touched her face. And sticky? Why was her face sticky?
It rushed back to her in a slur of images; the fight with Poison Ivy, Kid Flash getting thrown into a tree. The way he didn't get up.
Her head snapped up and she fought down the wave of nausea that hit her. Wally lay on his back beneath the tree Ivy's vines had thrown him against.
"Wally!" She scrambled, hands scraping across the ground as crawled toward him. He lay prone in the grass, completely unresponsive. This wasn't supposed to happen.
Her hands pulled back his mask and goggles, damning the secret identity all together – they were in the middle of nowhere and there was no one around to see anyway. She pressed them against his cold cheeks. It sent a whole new wave of panic through her. Wally was never cold. Everything about him was warm. She choked back a sob of panic and felt for a pulse. It was there, thankfully strong and steady.
Artemis tapped her communicator, getting only static for the first few moments before finally getting a clear channel.
"Artemis to Green Arrow, do you read me? Aqualad? M'gann?" Her voice was becoming more and more frantic with every word. She kept her eyes locked on Wally, needing the assurance of seeing his chest rise and fall.
"Please! Someone. Wally's not responsive and I need help. Please!" The static crackled in her ear and she heard some kind of response that she couldn't make out. The storm must be interfering with the communications lines. And it didn't look like the storm was going to be letting up any time soon. The black clouds stretched above the forest as far as the eye could see. She needed to get them someplace with better cover. But she couldn't leave him there unprotected.
Damn, she'd kill to have Robin's stupid utility belt right about now.
But no. she was practically useless out here. Her bow wasn't going to help her much. You couldn't make a tent with arrows.
Gently, she stripped off her mask. She felt the sting of it and finally understood where the stickiness had come from. A cut laced across her forehead, and the re-opened wound sent a gush of red over her vision. She whipped it away and used her mask as a pillow to prop up Wally's head away from the stone. It wasn't much, but it was better than the ground. The rest of the team would be here soon enough, anyway. It was only a temporary fix. M'gann and the others would be here in not time at all on the bioship and then everything would be okay.
She scanned the area from her vantage point, finally spotting a small opening in the wall of rock that rose up from the center of the woods. It would be the perfect shelter from the rain, and enough tot keep them safe until the others found them. She struggled to pull Wally from the ground, trying to make sure he wasn't going to slip and fall from her grasp, and dragged him into the cave. It was cold, and somewhat damp, but it would work. Putting away her bow, she sat down next to him.
It wasn't supposed to be a dangerous mission. A tiny disturbance in the middle of the rainforest near a research facility. It was recon, and not even Batman thought they'd actually find anything. No one had expected Poison Ivy to be there. It made sense of course. A research facility in the middle of a rainforest made a perfect target for her. One hit from her giant vines and Wally was out. Artemis hadn't been able to hold on much longer.
"You idiot. Why'd you have to go and get yourself hurt?" She mumbled, brushing strands of dripping red hair away from his face
"Totally not my fault." He mumbled. She jumped when his eyes slid open to look at her with a smile blooming on his face. Artemis flung herself down on him, wrapping her arms around him. It didn't matter that she was supposed to be angry with him. Wally was alive and talking and not dying.
"Ow! Hey! Man with bruises here." He said. His voice was breathy but she could hear the laughter in it. Artemis pulled away, helping him to lean against the wall before curling up next to him. "Are you okay?" He mumbled, tilting his head down to look at her. "You've got blood all over you. Red is not your color."
"I'm fine. And shut up." She said. Her teeth were starting to chatter. Night was starting to fall, darkening the woods around them. It was only going to get colder and both she and Wally were wet and cold as it was. They needed a fire.
"I'm so hungry." Wally moaned. Artemis looked over at him.
"I'm more concerned about us freezing to death." She sniped. She got up, reaching behind her and counting the arrows in her quiver. Only 4 left. One flare, three steel-tipped. One to start a fire with a three to hunt and defend themselves with. Here's hoping that The Team would find them before that had to happen. She started to head to the mouth of the cave and towards the trees.
"Where are you going?" Wally said. Artemis paused just long enough to look over her shoulder.
"I'm going to try and find some dry wood for a fire. I'll only be gone a second." She said. Wally straightened against the tree.
"No, I would be gone a second. You could be gone for hours!" He called to her. She rolled her eyes and smiled, and threw one of her steel-tipped arrows at him, just in case.
"You'll be fine. I'll be ten minutes tops." She said, disappearing into the wood.
It didn't take her long, which seemed almost too lucky, considering the rain was becoming a torrential downpour now that she wasn't hidden inside her little cave. All the same, she returned to Wally with a small stack of kindling and limbs wrapped safely in her arms.
"Seven minutes. You take forever." He said. Artemis rolled her eyes at him and settled to start the fire. Within moments, thanks to help of her flare arrow, the fire was roaring. She settled back down next to Wally and warmed her hands against it.
"Can you move?" She asked him, sending a look his way. Wally flashed her a smile.
"Faster than you can imagine." He said. She shoved him with her shoulder lightly.
"Be serious." She growled. He only smiled and let his head flop onto her shoulder.
"I'll be fine before you know it." He paused, "So you were worried about me?"
"You'd be stupid if you thought any different. For all I knew, you were dead." The weight of his head on her shoulder was more comforting than was willing to admit. They sat quietly and watched and flames dance and felt the heat slowly begin to dry them both.
Artemis almost jumped out of her skin when she felt a hand thread through her hair.
"Your hair's loose."
"Yeah…It must have fallen loose earlier. I-I hadn't noticed." She said, cursing herself for the slight stutter. Her first instinct was to reach for an extra hair tie on her wrist only to find that she didn't have one. She groaned. Wally's fingers traced through her hair once more, not even caring that it was tangled and dirty with mud and grass from the fight. It sent a chill down her spine.
"Don't worry about it. I like it down." Wally said. Heat rushed to her cheeks and she tried to tell herself that it was because of the fire, even when she knew that it had nothing to do with it. Everything seemed weirdly intimate now.
His fingers brushed hair away from her forehead, and she winced as they ran lightly over her cut.
"Does it hurt?"
"Not really. I've had worse." She mumbled, darting her eyes away from him.
"Do you want me to kiss it and make it better?" He said, a cheeky smile on his lips. She pursed her lips and flared at him.
"Why do you have to make a joke of everything?"
"I'm not joking! My kisses have been known to have healing qualities!" He quipped, raising his eyebrows. Artemis fought another growl. The boy was beyond frustrating.
"Do you not understand how worried I was, Wally? Because if you did, you wouldn't be joking about all of this! Ivy could have killed you, and I couldn't do anything to stop it. How could I live with myself knowing that something happened to you? I couldn't! You're an idiot for charging at her like that." She said, pushing him away from her. He backed away, looking a little more than shocked.
"Just- Just don't. Okay?" She curled away from him, bringing her knees up to her chest and resting her head on them. Not even she had realized just how much this little mission had upset her. They could have both been killed. And she couldn't stop Poison Ivy if she had decided to kill Wally. Tears pricked the back of her eyes and her fists clenched. She did not cry. She hadn't cried since Jade left the apartment for the last time that night so many years ago. Artemis did not cry. But she felt so weak. So powerless. Not even when The Reds attacked had she felt so helpless. With Robin's help she had beaten them. But on her own she was useless. It made her furious.
It made her feel marginally better to know that the tears streaming down her face were from rage and not sadness.
Arms pulled her backward until her back was flush against Wally's chest and she choked back the gasp that threatened to break free. He was already warm again, the fire paired with his ridiculously fast metabolism creating a comforting heat that seeped through her uniform.
"I'm sorry, Artemis." It was a whisper, feather-soft and barely audible. The feel of him, so close to her, was enough to make her turn around and do something rash on it's own. But paired with his soft voice and his arms around her waist, it was too much for her to even imagine fighting against.
She shifted in his arm, pressing her lips against his. He didn't fight her—he didn't even seem that shocked that she was kissing him. His hand trailed from her back to tangle in her blonde hair, and he pulled her close. She straddled his lap, savoring the feel of his lips upon hers. It was something that she would never regret trying, she thought to herself. Artemis was no stranger to kisses, but Wally was special somehow. She couldn't name it; maybe it was the way he cradled her close or the way his lips grazed across hers, as if asking for permission to take the kiss deeper. Maybe it was the way she didn't hesitate to oblige him.
She felt so warm. Wally was gentle with her, treating her with a fragility that she hadn't felt in years. It was addictive. For so long she'd put a wall around herself. And with one action, that horrible feeling was gone. Shattered into a thousand pieces when Wally pulled her close.
She pulled away and rested her cheek upon his face. Those green eyes of him seemed brighter than usual, and she could make out ever single freckle upon his cheeks. Artemis smiled.
Wally's fingers trailed up her skin and brushed away an excess tear.
"I've never seen you cry before."
"And you've never kissed me before either, have you?" She teased. Wally gave her one of those grins that sent a little thrill running inside of her.
"Nope. Haven't done that. But don't think I'm not going to remedy that every chance I get. I have a precedent now." Wally said. Artemis couldn't stop the blush that ran across her cheeks, or the smile that tugged at the corners of her lips. Wally's hands ran back up into her hair.
"You really should wear your hair down more." She laughed.
"Whatever. It's ten times harder to fight with it like this. Maybe when I'm not fighting I'll consider it." She mumbled.
Wally leaned them back against the cave wall, continuing to brush his fingers through her hair. Artemis felt her eyes close as she curled around him, wrapping her arms around his waist. It felt strange, yet oddly familiar to her. The rise and fall of his chest lulled her, even though she knew she needed to stay awake and alert. They weren't out of the woods yet. Anything could happen.
But she was so tired.
Wally must have noticed something; the way she was leaning on him or maybe the way she was beginning to nod off, because the next minute he was adjusting her to lay against him completely, curled up safely on top of him. He stripped off her quiver before she could argue.
"Look. The way I see it is that you've taken care of me all night. You're exhausted. Sleep. I'll take the watch until the others get here." She opened her mouth to argue. "Don't be stubborn, you know I'm right." He countered before she could get out a single word. Artemis huffed a little, the way that Wally had learned meant that she was giving in. He smiled, rubbing his hand across her arm, soothing her farther into sleep.
It was two hours later that the rest of the team finally arrived, just after the rain had stopped.
"Wally! You're-" M'gann said, hovering inside the cave. Wally shushed her, softly pointing to Artemis asleep in his arms. M'gann's mouth made a small O and she rushed outside, presumable to lead the others to him. He struggled to stand, but managed to get up with Artemis still asleep in his arms. She shifted and he caught his breath, praying she didn't wake up. But all she did was nuzzled her face into his neck.
Wally blushed as the rest of the team arrived at the mouth of the tunnel. The array of emotion wasn't exactly staggering; M'gann's excitement was expected, as well as Superboy's indifference. But Kaldur and Robin's matching smug grins made him pause. Wally narrowed his eyes at the Boy Wonder's grin, which just made him smirk all the more.
He walked past them all, Artemis cradled like a bride in his arms, and settled them into the bioship, keeping her safely tucked in his arms for the long ride home.
"So," Robin whispered as he sat down in his chair, "Successful mission?" He nodded his head towards Artemis. Wally couldn't help the grin on his face as she cuddled closer to him.
Bahhh. First Spitfire story. First YJ story. It literally took me forever to get this done because life's been a wee bit insane lately, and I did kind of run out of steam for a while there. But in the end I'm pretty pleased with it and did try to stay true to the character's personalities, even though I'm afraid I might have gotten a bit OOC there.
But once again, I'm still quite pleased with it.
As Always-Read and Review!