A/N: So this was originally gonna be some cute RoyxArtemis, but it took another twist so yeah. More friendship than anything, but tilt your head and squint a little and you can still see it. I meant for it to come out better, but I stayed up too late working on it. I still love it though. Roy's POV.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
"Keep an eye on her."
Those are my only orders. Watch her, make sure she doesn't meet with a Shadows operative. It's not an impossible task. It's just a basic recon.
And yet, I'm enthralled by it.
It's only two weeks in, and I haven't seen anything remotely suspicious. She goes out for a coffee every morning, the same place on the corner between a Burger King and a laundromat. She comes out with the same drink in her hand every morning; she drinks it black, too. She looks to the sky for the weather before heading back to her apartment building, one hand shoved in her pocket, the other wrapped around the warm cup.
Through the windows, I see her wrap herself in a blanket and shuffle around the tiny apartment, always brushing her fingers along the feathers that oppose the tip of her arrows when she walks through the door to her room. She eventually does pull the blanket from around her shoulders after eating whatever she finds (I've seen it vary from trail mix to cold pizza for her morning meal) and brushing out her long hair. That alone takes about twenty minutes.
It always makes me grateful that I have short hair.
It's a long process from there. I generally look away when she's getting dressed in the morning. I figure she's not signaling to the Shadows while changing clothes so I feel like it's safe to leave her be for a while. And it's not like she closes her blinds to keep the neighbors from looking in...
There's always a few moments where I'll look back too soon and see her, but it's virtually inevitable. Sometimes she takes longer when she gets distracted by something on a wall I can't see from the position I usually use on a roof parallel to her building.
I've learned a lot in the little time I've spent watching her. I know that she hates red marshmallows, dances in her bedroom singing into a hairbrush, is easily distracted from her homework but excels at History, drinks a lot of coffee, doesn't have many friends, and is always busy.
One thing I've picked up on is how dedicated she is. She's got a job at a salon down the street, an appropriate place for someone as pretty as her, but her feisty temper and lack of people skills makes her inept for anything except sitting there and playing solitaire on the computer. She works hard and forces the smiles, but she's an open book. She hates the job, anyone can tell. But it pays and makes ends meet. If it works, she won't whine too much. It's the way life goes for all of us.
I feel like I know a lot about her now that I can see how she lives, what goes on around her that makes her this way.
There's another angle of the apartment that I can get from a different rooftop across an alley. I can see into the main room where the furniture is spaced perfectly for a wheelchair to fit through. She sits on the floor and inspects her arrows every night like it's a ritual, going through each and every one, tilting it, weighing it, balancing it, feathering some, mending others. She's dedicated to the bow.
The way they live is enough to explain it all. She's protective because she's embarrassed of her living situation, not because she's a traitor. She's detached because she's lived like that most of her life, an only child, solitary confinement in a tiny space. There's nothing serious in her life to work for except for that bow and arrow, the things that we live by, the things that we save with.
There was one day, the end of my first week on the job, when a man came in, blonde, tall, burly, incredibly familiar. The gloves on his hands were the first thing that tipped me off. I knew those gloves. I knew the stance, the walk, his general shape.
My first reaction was to shoot him dead, but that would be giving away my position. I held an arrow nocked and ready, watching for any signs of trouble even though Artemis had opened the door for him like an old friend and bolted it shut tight behind her the second he was inside.
It made me glad that I'd bugged the place two nights ago when they'd gone for Chinese take-out.
Slinking down and hiding under the lip of the building, I flipped on my radio and pulled the heavy headset over my ears to listen in quietly, hoping that listening would be as good as watching.
"You have enough supplies?" His voice was husky and rough with her. I dared a peek over the ledge and into the tiny apartment to see him tilting his head in the direction of her arsenal, all tipped out on the floor near the tv. Her mom was out of the house, away at work.
Her hands were neatly folded behind her back, a sign that she was nervous, afraid. After watching people for so long, it's something heroes adapt to, body language and the likes. Her response was calm and collected but rehearsed. "Yes, Daddy."
Not what I was expecting. Daughter of an assassin. How fitting. And I didn't want to believe it, not yet. She seemed clean enough to me; I couldn't immediately pick out true flaws in her mannerisms right then and there because she hadn't done anything wrong in the whole time I'd been watching her. Seeing her now was different. Before, she'd been my replacement. But she was just a kid who wanted to fit in and I was free to step out of Queen's shadow. Maybe it had been a win-win situation.
"Good." There was a level of curtness in his voice that was almost bitter. "I expect to come back and find the mission completed by next week or else your mother may come home to find a corpse."
"I will, Daddy." The automatic response, the way she tightened the grip on her wrist with one hand while the other clenched into a fist. I could see her body go rigid from my position and hoped no one could see me. "I'll have the mission completed next time."
His eyes, blue as sapphires, narrowed slightly, angry, fierce. "You had better, Artemis. Jade's willing to take care of business for Ra's if you don't come through."
"I know. Tell her she'll have to wait a little bit longer." Her knuckles almost turned white from how tight her fist was.
Sportsmaster unbolted the door and let himself out, not uttering a goodbye, not looking back, just reiterating the mission and carrying on. The door slammed shut behind him, and I could hear heavy footsteps pounding down the stairs through the bug I'd planted. I didn't know it'd pick it up so clearly.
Artemis stood there for a long moment before releasing the grip on her wrist and letting that fist unclench. She moved forward, bolted the door, and turned around. There was a long pause as she took a deep breath and then grabbed for the couch, her fingers finding a pillow. Her voice crackled through my headphones. "I don't want to finish the damn mission." Her grip tightened on that pillow, nails digging into the fabric. "I /won't/ finish the damn mission."
I almost tuned out, but I had already heard too much and was so involved in it that I couldn't tear myself away.
She was having a breakdown before my very eyes. The pillow was used to knock everything off of counters and to hit anything that she could get it to whack into. The other pillows were scattered on the floor in a matter of moments along with assorted books, magazines, mail, fake flowers, shattered vases, and candles. And when she was finally finished, she said, "I'll never finish it." She threw the pillow down the small hall that led to her room before turning around and leaning over the couch. I could see the harsh rising and falling of her chest. "I'm never going to finish it."
It took her a few more minutes, but she picked herself back up again and moved on, cleaning up the apartment before her mom got home. It took her the better part of an hour, but it got done, and she curled up in her room and stared at the thing on her wall, the thing I couldn't see.
And I'm watching in her apartment now, waiting for him to come back. It's a week later. I'm on guard. I figure he comes back once a week because he pretty much said it. I watch the street for cars. Last week, he had a blue one, stolen according to the license plate and the database. Sure enough, a blue car's pulling up, a nasty convertible that I guess is supposed to make him look classy.
I tune into the headphones just in time to hear him pounding up the stairs, letting himself in while she finishes making a sandwich in the kitchen, looking to the door only too late after hearing him upon the stairs, unable to throw the lock or go into hiding. She forgot.
Her excuses come fast and desperate. "I swear, I'll get it done, I promise you!" Her hands are up in a 'stop' gesture, but Sportsmaster is unfazed and presses on towards her. "I just need a little bit more time. I have his identity, I just need to get into the League database to find an address, that's all! I can take him out from there, honest!"
"It's been a month. You had your shot."
"And I shot, but it missed! I can take care of it, it won't be a problem, I just need more time! The security systems-"
"Shouldn't be a problem for Jade to get past." And he raises his right arm after pulling a pistol out of his belt, small caliber but enough to kill at such close range-
I don't hesitate. My bow's already in hand, an arrow drawn from my quiver, and it's off through the open window, knocking the gun out of his hand. An arrow with a line attached is the next to go, and I'm through her window less than a second later, another arrow about to be drawn and pointed at his chest. The tip is only about a foot away from him. "Leave now or you're dead."
His sapphire eyes trail to his pistol and then back to me. "We know what side you're on now." For a second, I see his muscles tense. "We won't forget this." His hands are held up in surrender, and he backs away slowly down the stairs, to his nasty blue convertible to escape back to the Shadows where all scum like him belong.
Artemis waits until she hears his engine start and the squealing of tires disappears into the distance. There's a long moment where she takes slow, shaky steps forward and closes the door, locking it up tight. Then she quietly turns around to look to me, and there are tears in her eyes. "Why were you out there?"
"Orders." She's scared. I can see it on her face, now like an open book to me after watching her for so long.
There's a pause as she looks to the ground, back at me, and moves forward, graceful and exhausted, throwing her arms around me in a moment of desperation and burying her head in my chest even if for just a moment.
I don't know what to do, but I just let her linger there.
The only thing she says is a whispered "Thank you."
A/N: Reviews would be great, thanks.
P.S. Yes, I know the tense change in the middle of it but that's due to a flashback sort of thing.