It Tastes Sweeter When It's You
She's actually excited for this thing, which is kind of stupid all in itself.
It's not like she ever hated the holiday or was one of those people who dished out thousands of dollars to convert her home into a haunted house for one night. She just genuinely enjoys Halloween. She puts on a costume all the time, but the idea of doing it socially and not for an act of heroism heightens the festivity of it all.
And since this year is M'gann and Conner's first Halloween, they're all dressing up and going to the Happy Harbor Halloween Festival.
"I'm almost finished."
M'gann is wearing this dark blue genie costume with her hair half up and curled, and her skin is milky white for the evening. She looks absolutely amazing.
She somewhat begged for Artemis to let her help with her costume, which she didn't really need. But they rarely get the alone time, so she said yes and they kicked all the guys out of the Cave to get ready.
Artemis is going as a Greek goddess (Ha ha. It wasn't at all her idea, but once Robin gets his heart set on something, there's no talking him out of it), so she has on this white, one-shouldered dress with splashes of gold and she actually feels great in it. M'gann is braiding fake golden leaves into her hair and when the Martian declares, "Done!" and lets her look at her reflection, she's impressed.
"It looks beautiful, Megan. You did an awesome job."
She turns her head, admiring her hair from different angles, and then squeezes the girl's arm.
"You really think so?" Artemis nods, smiling widely as M'gann giggles and clasps her hands together. "Let's go show Wal… I mean, the others!"
At the almost-mention of the speedster's name, Artemis feels her stomach do a pathetic tumble. Chatting with M'gann had made her completely forget that he was going to see her in this, too.
M'gann knew of her feelings towards Wally. Actually, she's pretty sure the entire Team knows except for the idiotic redhead himself. It's not like he is any less annoying and irritating, but she is finally accepting the fact that she finds him very, very attractive and maybe, quite possibly thinks of him as more than just a tolerable friend. It actually kind of freaks her out.
"Megan," she kind of pleads. "Not tonight. Halloween isn't supposed to be about that stuff."
"Sorry, sorry. It just sort of slipped out. But… it's okay to like him, Artemis," she says in this small voice, placing her hand on Artemis's shoulder and squeezing it like she likes to do. "I know Halloween is not traditionally a romantic holiday, but you two aren't a traditional couple and… if you two were to just try… I have a good feeling about tonight."
Artemis hums doubtfully. "I don't know, Megan…"
"I just want you two to be happy," the girl shrugs, "and the only thing that seems to be preventing that is each other."
And see, it's really hard for Artemis to be even a little upset with her best friend when she says stuff like that.
He's really looking forward to tonight because he's always loved Halloween (candy, candy, candy!) but his friends from Central City weren't as nearly enthusiastic about it. So the fact that the Team is all dressing up and going to the Happy Harbor Halloween Festival together? Pretty sweet.
"I can't believe it takes this long for them to get ready."
"It's something you just have to get used to with the ladies," Wally shrugs, looking over at him.
For tonight, Conner is dressed in some sort of farmer garb, and it's a total allusion to the Big Blue Boy Scout that the clone is unaware of. (Dick had given the idea to M'gann, who carefully suggested it to Conner, who had been whatever about it. Wally suspected his reaction wouldn't be as pleasant if he found this was related to his not-father.)
Wally is some sort of Roman god, and the costume is actually a lot less embarrassing than he thought it would be when Dick suggested it.
He actually hasn't seen the Boy Wonder for a few hours.
After they all got dressed at Wally's place, Dick took Kaldur with him to pick up a few and promised they'll just meet at Happy Harbor, so Wally was left with Conner.
Not that he hated the idea at all, because Conner's one of his bros. But he and M'gann are in a relationship so going together to pick the girls up makes it feel like the beginning of a double date, and he and Artemis are…
He doesn't really know what they are.
Sometimes their relationship felt black-and-white: they would argue half of the time but are pretty good friends the other half. But sometimes he could look at her when they're arguing and he sees how gorgeous she is, and then all he wants to do is grab her and kiss her. Or he feels the strongest urge to punch something when she even speaks to another guy that's decently attractive. Stuff like that.
"We're ready!" M'gann's voice echoes down the tunneled hallway. "Sorry it took a while but we were having a chat."
They emerge from the hallway and M'gann looks great, no doubt, but he is only really looking at her for a second because his eyes catch Artemis beside her.
And see, this is one of those moments where he can't ignore that she's beautiful. Her hair is braided with all these golden leaves and her lips and cheeks are a little pinker, and when she looks at him, her smile is actually very pleasant. She looks really, really good in her costume.
"So the Greek goddess Artemis has descended from the heavens to mingle with the Earthlings tonight, huh?"
Artemis rolls her eyes, laughing. "That makes you sound like an even bigger dork. Is there something wrong with my costume, oh Roman god?"
"Not at all. In fact, you look kind of stunning."
"I… do?" There's surprise in her tone, and he thinks her cheeks turn even pinker. "Well, you don't look so bad yourself, Bay Watch."
He supposes he could go on to say that he doubts she can live up to the grace of a Greek goddess, but surprisingly, he doesn't have an urge to ruin whatever kind of moment they're having. She's smiling at him and laughing a little for no apparent reason, and he can probably get used to her being like this.
"Shall we get going?" M'gann pipes up, reminding Wally that there are actually two other people in the room right now.
M'gann is giving Artemis this smile that he can't really decipher and Artemis exhales a laugh, shakes her head, and looks at him.
"Don't mind her," she whispers.
He's not sure what he's not supposed to be minding, but he just dismisses it with an, "Alright," and smiles when she takes the arm he offers.
The street-fair is actually bigger than she expected and it's a pleasant surprise.
Not a person in sight is without a costume, and it's not the cheap, easy stuff like devil-horned headbands or a little makeup worn with regular clothes so that you're a "zombie." The decorations are nice too because a majority of it is colorful and cartoonish and a little adorable because it's a more family-friendly event, and it all looks homemade. Happy Harbor must really get into their holidays.
"Mind if I join you?"
Artemis pauses to let Zatanna (dressed as a gypsy) catch up to her. "Not at all," she smiles, and lets the younger girl link their arms together.
"Have you just been walking around?" Zatanna asks before taking a bite into her caramel apple on a stick. She licks her lips and continues, "Because that would be kind of boring."
"I was just admiring the place and looking to see what I wanted to do first." Artemis smirks. "Where'd Rob disappear to?"
Her cheeks flush slightly and she glares playfully. "Probably to buy more food," she shrugs, gesturing to her caramel apple. "He's been trying to stuff me since we got here. Hey, where's everyone else?"
Artemis shrugs. They really only met up for five minutes and then dispersed. It defeats the purpose of coming here together, but they'll all probably all congregate somewhere in an hour or so. And it's not as if they didn't have the whole night to spend together, so it's expected they'd want to do stuff on their own first.
"So, Artemis went as Artemis? Cliché," Zatanna points out, "but clever. You look good."
She smiles. "So do you. It really suits you, actually."
"Thanks. And, let me guess," Zatanna says, smiling in that inside-joke kind of way, "Robin suggested your costume?"
"He practically begged me to fulfill his brilliant idea," Artemis laughs, recalling the young boy's constant insistence throughout a majority of October. "I finally cracked."
"Of course." Zatanna looks up, eyebrows rising as she catches sight of something. "Hey, isn't that… Wally?"
Artemis follows her gaze onto said redhead and feels her fingers curl absently when she sees that he is talking to a brunette in a sexy nurse outfit. Beside her, Zatanna asks, "What is that idiot doing?" and she can't help but think the exact same thing. She swears she's seeing red all of a sudden and it's not as if this is the first time she's seen him flirt to a complete stranger before so she doesn't get why.
Except, he flirts with other girls of the League and with civilians he happens to save as Kid Flash. She's never seen him flirt as himself with anyone that might actually be attracted to him, too.
That probably explains a lot.
"Ladies," a voice behind them says, and Artemis doesn't even look away to see that it's Robin. "What are we… Oh."
"Go stop your best friend from screwing things up," Zatanna orders.
"Shouldn't Artemis do it?" This time Artemis does look at him, and she would admire his ringmaster costume if she wasn't wondering what he meant. "I mean, when you look like that…"
She scoffs. "Please. If that idiot wants to flirt with every girl he sees, be my guest. I'm not going to be the one that saves him from having his pride shattered at rejection, and if he gets lucky, good for him."
As she storms away, she wonders who she was trying to convince more: them or herself.
Really, this girl isn't bad to look at and must be nice and all, but he doesn't want to stand here and chat. Which is mainly him responding occasionally and pretending to drink the punch she offered him while she does all the talking. He could already tell from her costume that she's just not his type but he just doesn't have the heart to cut her off and leave.
Even though he really wants to right now.
"Wally," a voice calls out, and for a fraction of a second he hoped that it was Artemis, though he's still relieved even as he looks and sees it's M'gann. "I've been looking all over for you."
She wraps her arms around his and the blink-and-you'll-miss-it wink she gives him is as clear as speaking telepathically. "Sorry, Megs," he apologizes, letting M'gann lean a little against him, "I just got caught up with Nicole. She got me this drink and started telling me about her, uh, interests."
"Natalie," the girl corrects, fixing M'gann was a glare that the Martian just smiles sweetly at.
"How nice of her." Then M'gann looks back at him. "Ready to go?"
"Of course," he says, and throws in a, "It was nice meeting you," to the brunette for good measure, smirking when his back is already turned at the way "Nicole" looks offended.
When they round the corner and are out of sight, he blows out a sigh of relief. "Thank you," he nearly exclaims. "You saved me!"
M'gann laughs and releases his arm as Conner appears on her other side looking thoroughly amused. "No problem." She smiles a little wider and holds her hand out, and Conner automatically laces their fingers together. "You should have heard Conner when we first saw you. He said it looked as if you were being tortured."
"Believe me, it felt like it." He shudders and earns a laugh from the couple. "Anyway, how's your first Halloween going?"
M'gann's eyes light up. "It's more exciting than I thought it'd be."
"What about you, Con-Man?"
He shrugs his shoulders, smirking at the way M'gann shoves him playfully. "I thought we were all supposed to go trick-or-treating?"
"We should!" Wally exclaims. "That's the best part! We can still go if we round up the others."
"Well, if we split up we can find them faster," M'gann suggests. "Robin and Zatanna should be together, and we just saw Kaldur and Artemis not too long ago…"
"Wait," Wally interrupts. "Artemis is with Kaldur?"
M'gann blinks. "Yeah. I'm pretty sure that was him, anyway. They came out of a Haunted House over… where are you going?"
"I'll go get them," he calls over his shoulder, "Just go get Rob and Zatanna then come find us!"
"We do not have a holiday that is anything like this where I am from," Kaldur tells her, inspecting the hat of his pirate captain costume.
"That's because our human ancestors were psychotic." Kaldur laughs and Artemis smiles at him. They rarely got the chance to hang out, just the two of them. "So," she continues in a suggestive tone that has Kaldur looking at her strangely, "Why didn't Donna come with you? I bet you'd be having more fun with her, right?"
"Indeed, it would be nice for her to be here. But I enjoy your company as well, Artemis."
She laughs. "Thanks Kal."
"And, to answer your other question," he continues, "Donna has previous plans with Princess Diana for tonight. She will be joining us in the morning."
"I'm really happy that you have her now, Kal," she tells him in this soft voice, and he is smiling warmly at her and offers his arm as they walk down an emptier path. She had been the first person he confessed to about Tula (unbeknownst to the others) and really, he's too sweet a guy to have that happen to him. And he loves Tula and Garth too much to not be happy for them, so he more than deserves Donna.
"She is… amazing." She looks at him and he has a slight color in his cheeks as he looks up at the stars. "She is bright and intelligent and kind. I am honored to have her the way I do."
"She should be honored to have you, too," Artemis insists. "I'd be pretty head-over-heels if I had a guy who thought all that about me."
He kind of smiles at her like he knows something she doesn't and says, "You have Wally."
"You are an intelligent girl, Artemis. I find it hard to believe that you are unaware of the way he looks at you, the way he cares for you. Whenever we are on missions, his eyes are always on you. His first impulses are to be near you and to protect you, even before himself."
"I don't need the overprotection," she stumbles. "He doesn't have to do that."
"He does," Kaldur says simply. "He needs to be everywhere at once to protect you because he is terrified of losing you, just as you are terrified of letting him in."
Artemis closes her eyes and lets out this little breath. It's not like she hasn't been noticing any of it, because it's kind of hard not to. She just didn't expect Kaldur to bring it up so abruptly.
It's just that it's been going on for a while now so she figured they'd stick to implying things but never confronting them. Or maybe it's because it's been going on for a while that they're like, at their breaking point and want them to kiss and get it over with.
She can't believe she just thought that.
"I don't know how I'm supposed to do," she admits, because this thing between them has as many cons as it does pros and she's not sure if she's really ready to tackle them.
Kaldur is kind of looking at her and she's about to wave her hand in front of his face or something when he finally says, "Perhaps this is something you both need to discuss. And here is your chance."
And in a fraction of a second she feels this little gust of wind that makes her shiver slightly and turn around, and Wally is standing right next to her and really close. He seems to be looking between her and Kaldur like he's trying to read between the lines, and she realizes what this might look like to him. The fact he seems jealous shouldn't make her feel a little reassured, but it does.
"Are you insane, Bay Watch?" she hisses. "Using your powers in public like that is the kind of thing that will get you exposed!"
"I was just—"
"What are you doing here, anyway?"
"Looking for you… two," he adds, "Looking for you two, because the others want to go trick-or-treating. What were you two doing?"
She crosses her arms. "Two friends are allowed to spend quality time together, aren't they?"
"Well," he retorts, fixing her with a glare, "when they're alone in the middle of the night and one of them is dating a really close friend of mine, I don't think—"
"We were talking about him and Donna, amongst other things," Artemis interrupts, voice rising, "and I really doubt you're in any position to be suspicious of me talking to a good friend when you spend your night flirting it up with some stranger."
She rolls her eyes. Really, this boy is impossible. "Why don't you just go find Nicole before you irritate me further?"
And see, there she goes again being bitter because it's easier this way, arguing instead of acknowledging. Their friendship allows for arguing and a little flirting and like, minimal complications. She expects some retort or clever comeback since that's how it usually works, but he actually looks offended by what she might be implying and she actually feels guilty about saying it.
He kind of grasps her elbow and only grips tighter when she instinctively pulls away, bringing her a little closer.
"She brought me that drink and wouldn't leave me alone," he tells her in this voice that makes her stomach do that pathetic flip again. "M'gann had to come and save me from her. I didn't choose to talk to her that long."
"Wally, I didn't—"
"Do you really think I'd choose some stranger over my friends?"
"No," she says kind of quickly, "but it's not like you can blame me for thinking things after seeing you flirt like, all the time."
"That's not the same," he argues, and it would pretty much be the worst argument ever if he didn't follow it with, "I flirt with the League women because it's like schoolyard crushing! It doesn't mean much." He runs the pad of his thumb across her skin and watches her close her eyes. "And I flirt as Kid Flash because people expect it. Just look at Uncle Barry, he does it, too, and Iris finds it amusing."
"It's different because Iris knows that's all it is, and he comes home to her. They're married, Wally," she reminds, "and we're… How am I supposed to be sure that's all it is?"
"Because you already know it but just don't want to believe it!" She flinches a little and he sighs, pushing his free hand through his hair. "Sorry, I…"
"Don't be." He looks at her, surprised. "I just… You don't know how crappy it felt to see you talking to her."
He chuckles a little but stops when he sees her expression. "Hey, I didn't feel all the great either when M'gann told me you were alone with Kaldur," he informs.
"Good. Maybe next time you'll—"
But then she is being tugged forward and their lips are being pressed together and she's letting out this little noise from the back of her throat. His hand drops onto the small of her back and when he starts drawing patterns on her hip, she shivers and he laughs and kisses her harder, sliding his other hand along her forearm until he's just holding her hand, pressing his thumb against her palm.
She tugs her hand away and slides it up his neck, and he groans a little when she combs her fingers through his hair and parts them.
He presses his forehead to hers and she still feels his thumbs tracing imaginary patterns at her hips. She hooks her other arm over his shoulder and laughs breathlessly.
"What are we doing?"
He shrugs, mumbles, "I don't know," against her lips.
She hums contemplatively and stares at his lips. "Wally, if we go with this—"
"If? If you aren't sure after that then—"
"Gosh, Wally, fine!" She laughs. "Since we're going to let this take us wherever it takes us, I want to sit down and talk about this. Not right now, obviously, but—"
"Hey, we can do all the talking you want," he tells her, and she actually raises her eyebrows in surprise until she feels him playing with the hem of her skirt and adding, "After you let me keep this."
She blushes (a lot) and doesn't know whether or not to be offended or interested. "Why?" She hates how high her voice sounds.
She rolls her eyes and whacks his head, though lighter than usual. He laughs. "Let's go find the others, Kid Hormones."
But he pulls her back against him when she tries to pull away, cradling her face and giving her this look that's goofy and completely adoring at the same time. She kind of loves it. "They can wait."
The others are sitting at a picnic table not too far from where he found Artemis, and he didn't even notice Kaldur managed to slip away until he sees that he's sitting with everyone else. His and Artemis's hands are linked between them and when he turns to her, she looks just as suspicious as he feels.
"Please tell me that you two are finally together and all our planning was worth it!" M'gann bursts when they've come close enough.
And Dick cracks up for nearly two minutes straight.
Seriously, he's holding his stomach and there are tears in his eyes and Zatanna is almost as hysterical, and he's pissed off for a few seconds at how amused they all are.
When they're all calmed enough to be coherent, they tell them of how they were tired of all of the sexual tension (Dick's words) and plotted to set them up and get it all over with.
Dick chose Halloween because the costumes would be hilarious ("The Greeks and Romans hated each other passionately. Fitting, right?"), Zatanna worked a little of her magic on that Nicole girl who wouldn't leave Wally alone ("All it took was a little suggestive push. Although, I didn't expect it to be that strong. She turned kind of obsessive. It was hilarious."), and the five of them communicated telepathically so that they could set it all up.
"Okay, okay, amusement aside," Zatanna intervenes when Artemis looks like she's about to explode of either embarrassment or anger or both, "we really did it for your own good."
"You two were just so reluctant to do something about it, we decided to do it for you," M'gann insists. "But it only worked because everything turned out to be true."
Wally looks at Artemis and she's like, creepily quiet.
"You're not mad, are you?" M'gann asks in this small voice, and Wally squeezes Artemis's hand.
"You better make me the most delicious apology cake I've ever eaten before, and when we go shopping, you are so paying for my lunch!"
And yeah, that's pretty much an apology accepted from Artemis, and M'gann squeals in delight and hugs her friend tightly before pulling Zatanna in as well.
Dick claps a hand to his shoulder and laughs at the glare he shoots him, but really, he's not all that mad. No, they're not quite off the hook, but it's not like he hates how tonight turned out and plus, it's really hard to be mad when his bros look so proud and really happy for them. And then, of course, he looks at Artemis and sees how bright her eyes are shining, so it makes it harder to view this as a bad thing.
"So, are we still going trick-or-treating or what?"
They really only go around the neighborhood for half an hour when they remember that Dinah brought them this giant bowl of candy and it's just sitting in the Cave on their counter.
Besides, it's starting to get cold out and they feel like having a movie marathon, so they go home and pull out all of the X-Men DVDs and sit around the living room underneath a lot of blankets as they pass around the candy. Someone (Kaldur) makes popcorn for everyone when the first movie is over and they're putting in the second one, and by then, they're more or less out of their costumes because they were trying to get comfortable but were too lazy to pause and change into pajamas first.
"Stop that," she whispers.
Wally feigns a look of innocence that she rolls her eyes at because, really, they both know he was playing with the hem of her dress under their blanket the entire time.
She can hear Kaldur on the phone with Donna in the kitchen as he is pouring their popcorn, Conner and M'gann are preoccupied with reading the back of the DVD box, and Zatanna and Robin are stacking card towers on the glass coffee table. They may seem distracted, but she knows better and hisses at him to, "Quit doing that before you freak them out!"
He laughs but actually complies, resting his hand on her arm and running his thumb across her skin again.
"We can have that talk now, if you want," he suggests, but she shakes her head and tells him, "It's nothing that can't wait until later," and then kisses him as if to prove her point.
A/n: Yeah, I don't really know what to say about this. I actually kind of like how it turned out and slightly don't, but I'm posting it anyway because I kept obsessing about finishing it and that interrupted my homework time. Happy Halloween!
So you read it. Love it? Hate it? Please review it!