Disclaimer: I do not own Young Justice, or anything recognizable here. Also: the title is one I switched around from a suggestion on the nanowrimo forums, so. Not really mine either. Just saying.
Background Notes: I'd say this is set a few months after Failsafe, and Wally has known about Artemis's background for a while now.
General Notes: This was kind of hastily edited, so any and all mistakes are mine. And, yeah, that's all I have to say. Hope you enjoy. :)
She kissed Wally yesterday.
And she's sitting with Wally today.
He twiddles his thumbs. She leans closer to her arm of the sofa. They should talk. They need to talk. There's so much they need to talk about ─ the training exercise, the looks, and. Yesterday. They need to talk about yesterday.
(His lips had been chapped from the wind. Hers had been bitten through from fear.)
"So." She stares at the muted TV before them. There's a couple holding hands. She's very glad, all of a sudden, that the rest of the team is out…doing whatever it is they're doing. "Um. I called you here for a reason," and she winces. Stupid, stupid words. Not smart words. Not collected or calm or anything resembling her normal self. This is Wally, geeky Wally.
Geeky Wally had been half bleeding to death yesterday, but it is today now, and she doesn't have an excuse to be anything but composed.
He clears his throat. "I figured." His voice is little more than a squeak and Artemis flicks a quick look at him, catching the flow of red on his face. She smiles. Kind of. It's more of a twitch on the corner of her mouth that might look more like a spasm to anyone watching.
She lets out a breath through her nose and straightens her shoulders. Still won't look at him, though. "Yesterday was ─ a spur of the moment thing. Like…" she fumbles around for the right words, and when she comes up blank, she waves a hand at the TV screen where the same couple is now fighting. "Not like that. It was a 'oh my god I think you're going to die' kiss. Not a 'structured, I like you' kiss."
"So…if it had been Robin, you would have kissed him too?"
"Yes. Wait. No. You ─ stop laughing, Wallace, I'm trying to be serious here! It was a thing. Okay. It was a thing, not A Thing."
She's turned to him now, and Wally is snickering openly. Artemis would really like to hit him ─ she'd really like to be far, far away from him instead, because this is not the way things are supposed to turn out (she's supposed to be the mature, experienced one, and he should be the one fumbling and struggling with his words) ─ but she needs to deal with this. They need to deal with this. It's a problem for the team, she tells herself; she's doing it for the team and for the good of the world.
(And for the poor girls at Wally's school since he probably thinks he's the man after one, miniscule kiss from her. He would do that. Of course.)
Wally smoothes his face after a moment, and then alternates from looking at her to looking at the TV. "So it's not A Thing?"
"Ah." He scratches his cheek with a nail that is a little too long. The expression on his face is ─ uncomfortable, like the one he had worn the day she'd asked him about the Training Exercise. He's frowning and biting his lip (and that is not a good thing for kissing, but she finds it a bit ─ just a bit ─ nice) and he has to swipe his tongue over his lips and open and close his mouth several times before getting out the words: "I… I want it to be something."
Her brain freezes.
Artemis heard the words well enough: I want it to be something, but the actual comprehension (dating ─ holding hands ─ kissing ─ talking) takes a few seconds. She focuses on her breathing, the art of inhaling and exhaling, and, for some reason, is quite aware of the too short distance between her and Wally, and how her every piece, from her toes to her hair, is burning and tingling and generally being annoying.
She swallows. The action is painful, like she has a sore throat. She manages to crack open her mouth to spit out a croaky "What."
From the corner of her eye, she sees Wally staring right at her. His face isn't so red anymore, though there is some pink around his ears. He outstretches his hand and his fingers come in contact with the fingers of her left hand. He's warm (it's his metabolism, she reasons; just life at work) and something similar to dread and fear settles in her stomach. Not butterflies. The butterflies are a lie. Artemis doesn't feel happy, she feels like she's going to be sick.
"I like you," Wally says, like they're in the second grade and giving each other Valentines for the first time. He curls his fingers loosely around hers. "I, um. I think I have for a while."
Artemis stares at the TV some more.
Oh, she likes Wally; she admitted that to herself months ago. Fine. Whatever. But having A Thing with him is ─ no. No, no, no. She doesn't want that. She doesn't want that feeling of ─ of having someone so close, knowing that at any second they could just…walk away. Leave.
She doesn't want to give anyone that power over her.
Wally's grip tightens. It's ─ it's an okay feeling. His hands aren't clammy the way she'd thought they might be. "I know this is cliché," he says to her, and she drags her eyes to his face to see a tiny smile dancing around there, "but I would never hurt you. I promise."
"Everyone says that. Everyone makes that promise." She thinks of her sister, her mom, her dad. Her family portrait of lies.
"Yeah, but Artemis," and now Wally is closer, right beside her, and he's so warm, "I want a chance. Just…just one."
He's turning back into a stuttering boy. She can see it in the way his face is starting to flush from her silence, the way his fingers become stiff and awkward, the way he leans back. This is geeky Wally, the same old geeky Wally, and Artemis does trust him. She does.
(In her mind, a picture starts to paint itself: them, laughing, doing stuff together, walking around, arguing, bantering, hugging, breathing each other's air, coming closer and closer together.)
"You sound like a soap opera," she says.
Wally's head hits the back of the sofa, his fingers slipping away from hers. He groans and puts his arm across his eyes. "This," he says, pointing in her general direction, "is why I didn't do this before. You're so…standoffish."
"Yes. Here I am, baring my heart and soul to you, and you're being a… You're being mean about it."
She can't help it.
She laughs, cackles, holding her stomach. She soon comes to a hiccupping stop and she says to Wally, "I'm being mean? Really? That's all you've got?"
"Calling you anything else would be harmful to my health," and Artemis is inclined to agree. They both know that she can punch harder than him. Wally lowers his arm after a moment. "I meant it, though. I'm serious. I would never hurt you, Artemis."
"…I know that."
"So?" He wiggles a hand at them. Them. A pair. "Can I get an answer here before I crawl home in embarrassment?"
Artemis takes a second to look at him. Past the normal features of his face ─ she looks at the slight bend in his nose, the freckles dotting his cheeks in irregular patterns, the faintest, whitest scar at the corner of his left eye.
"I can kick harder than you, too," she says at last. "Remember that."
"So that's a yes, right?" Wally grins and puts his face right before hers. "That's a definite yes?"
She rolls her eyes and turns off the mute on the TV. Wally's arm settles around her shoulders. She pinches his leg. When he yelps (but doesn't remove his arm), she smiles. Just a bit. "Yeah. It's a yes. Geek."