Inspired by the new Bon Iver album, which I finally got my hands on! Specifically "Michicant." Listen while you read; it really helps the mood – honest! Plus, there are all kinds of scattered lyrics from other songs all over the place, so.

I blame Cloaks for this! Also, I am a prude! Forgive me! This is pretentious and melodramatic and argh I can't believe I'm posting it let me go hide. But I didn't stay up until 5 AM writing it so it could get all moldy in my docs folder. Ugh. I am a disgrace to the name of sauciness.

"Bon Hiver" is French for "a good winter" or "have a good winter."


(and at once i knew

i was not magnificent)

Wally has never been partial to darkness or cold, or the sound of rain, or unmade beds, or hardwood floors, or the touch blistered fingertips. All these things make him feel weighted and lifeless, or at least mildly irritated; he is a boy of the sunlight, of open roads and unimpeded orange horizons, of the feel of a carpet underneath mercifully bare feet. These are the things that lift him, that stay with him. He can hold onto them with fervent admiration, the same way one holds onto rocks to keep from falling until their fingernails break with desperation.

The power is out in the Cave due to a violent thunderstorm, so Artemis' room is chilly and deep in unfathomable darkness. There is rain clattering ceaselessly onto the side of the mountain, and her bed is rumpled and messy, and her floor is made of cool bamboo, and the tips of her fingers on one side of his face are calloused from the bowstrings they so often cling to. Her lips are an eyelash's length from his, and her breaths skirt against his mouth like breezes over poplars. He had never imagined that any part of her could be as warm as it feels under his hovering palms; after all, she is a creature of the winter, of the snow and the pines and the red-breasted cardinals who cry out in the whiteness, whose every blink should end eventually in swirling ice.

But as she touches him – her palm coming to rest on the side of his neck with ardent tenderness he cannot describe – her whole body seems to smolder with the beating flutter of a rapt summer heart. He sighs, and three of her gold hairs tremble aside. He cannot recall what brought her so close to him except for the cold or the faint echoes of an overdue apology for something he can no longer discern, but her presence encompasses him now, aching and overwrought, and though they are not touching but for the brush of her fingers against his cheek, he feels as if they are bone-against-bone, bare and pallid, in the dimness.

He is fairly certain that this is the first time they have gone so long without speaking. Even during their moments of peak detestation, they have always had something to say or shout, but now, any words he may have used are jumbled and gathered in some far corner of his consciousness. She breaks the gossamer veil of silence with a hoarse whisper that almost makes him shiver.

"But I hate you," she murmurs. "I know I hate you. I – I swear I hated you just a second ago."

(i was unafraid, i was a boy,

i was a tender age)

He can feel her veins throbbing and her eyes shifting and the agony of her fingers against his pulse is making him weak and bewildered, a fumbling boy falling down the rabbit hole and scrabbling for something to hold onto.

"Hey," he wits halfheartedly, "still time to change your mind."

The hesitation, the imminence of meaning, lingers heavy and fraught between their barely-connected mouths, and her irises are strained by rainstorms and the surface of her tee shirt is paper thin and he can feel her bare knees cautiously beginning to stroke against his flannel pajama pants. He swallows, limbs pulsating.

He is not sure which of them is the one to dare to close the distance, to close their eyes and step off the edge of the cliff, but suddenly the taste of her is held between his teeth and his thumb is tracing her adamant jawline as though it is a mountain pass; her lips part and her tongue curls out and he accommodates it with fervor. The tip of it is clever and quick and it races over his cheeks and palate and both of his hands are on her face now, clutching it, seizing her steadfast existence and fanning his fingers over the fine twisting hairs on the back of her neck.

She reaches behind her and tugs the hairtie out, and the loose braid she had put her locks into after her shower unravels with cascading delicacy; Wally feels it sweep over his knuckles and tangles his grasp in it. She sighs and tugs at his lower lip with her teeth – and the rain tumbles without pause, the only sound besides their capricious breaths.

His hands slide down to the small of her back, and all of her warmth is gathered there, radiating to the remainder of her limbs; warily, tentatively, he slips his fingers under the seam of her shirt until they are flush against her skin. She inhales through her nose and pulls herself closer to him, hands spread-eagled against the backs of his shoulders, and her mouth is snatching at him faster now, with growing certainty, and he, all trepidations vanishing into the cold, gathers the thin fabric of her top in his hands and pulls it over her head. She raises her arms and it slips off of them with a rustle, and there is not a bump or pause in the rhythm they have developed; her hair is thrown temporarily back by the swipe of the discarded shirt, but soon enough she is melded to him again. He wants inconsolably to feel her skin against his own; he sends a dazedly disgruntled look at his own thermal shirt.

She, without missing a beat, pinches the hem in her coolly blistered thumbs and sweeps it above him, mussing his hair, until the absence of the waffled fabric leaves him shivering. With decisive finality, she tosses it aside.

Wally expects her to start gnawing at his lips again, but she pauses, stepping back slightly to better view his uncovered chest. He glances down at it with boredom; he sees its toned surface every day, and is never impressed with it. She does not seem to share his sentiments.

One bony wrist lifts and she lightly places her finger pads on his left pectoral, eyelids low and mouth barely agog. His freckles seem stark against the paleness of his bruised, lacerated skin.

(from the love, comes the burning young

from the liver, sweating through your tongue)

"Diggin' my battle scars?" he jibes. In response, she traces one with her index finger, and he shudders.

"Where did these all even come from?" she murmurs with astonished curiosity. "Aren't you supposed to be too fast to get hurt?"

"My super speed has a ninety-day limited warranty in case of malfunction," he starts to tell her smugly, but she presses two fingers against his lips.

"Shhh. Don't talk. You'll ruin the moment."

"What moment?"

She smacks him, and it is much harsher against bare skin than it would be against clothing.

"I said don't talk," she repeats, hushed. Now that she is a visible distance from him, he is able to take in the unveiled surface of her as well – her shoulders, shiny and hard; her midsection, toned with diligence; that softened little space between her breasts, where, based on his calculations, this thumb would fit perfectly; her ribs, subtle but visible; her collarbone, prominent, gathering the darkness in its crevices like water.

She explores him thoroughly, her fingers drifting with unbearable caution over his entire torso as though afraid that any pressure may shatter him. The entire time, he does not move or twitch, eyes fixated on her bowed forehead, on the curve of her breasts beneath the bone-smooth pine green bra, on the scintillating tilt of her thick eyebrows and the rumbling twists of her unfettered hair. There are tempests in her eyes, tempests that will engulf him and turn him to a free gray mist, and he wants nothing more than to run straight into the center of them and lose himself to the unending spiral of rainclouds and autumn leaves.

In his distraction, he is unprepared by the scattering kisses she is dropping on his shoulders and chest and clavicle, and he inhales sharply at the first moist touch of them, the first immaculate shiver of her tongue. He trembles as her fingernails barely scratch his skin, his stretched tight impeding skin, and his senses stumble and crash and bleed into one another like wild foam in a storm at sea; he no longer knows what he sees from what he hears, all he knows is that he needs to touch her, to feel her, every niche and curve and indentation – without thinking or pausing, he fumbles at the back of her bra, managing to undo the clasp within two tries as she rises back up from his chest to fist her fingers into his hair and fiercely, undauntedly kiss him.

(climb

is all we know)

The bra spasms out and hangs loosely off of her shoulders, and Wally's nails curve under the straps and draw them forward, down her arms and over her wrists and knuckles until it dangles precariously from his fingertips. He discards it woozily as Artemis tugs at his hair, and he groans into her lips, which causes her to smile against his mouth and return the sound.

He had never realized the potency of this communicative method.

He manages to break away for a turning, tumbling moment.

"Artemis—" he starts to breathe deferentially, but she will permit him no more than a single syllable before ensnaring him again, her lower teeth raking across his upper lip. He moans, and at last, mercifully, permits his eyes to close.

Lightly, distractedly, he runs one finger from the base of her spine to the end of her neck, and she shivers and freezes for a moment, head lolling back. He stares at her for a brief second before doing it again.

She hums and smiles and Wally is certain that if humans could purr, Artemis would sound like a revving motor.

"So that's your weak spot, huh?" he teases with ill-concealed self-satisfaction. She inhales with a shake as he repeats the motion, and he can sense goosebumps racing up and down her arms and neck.

He can tell that she's attempting to reply, but it is reduced to a contented "unnhh."

"Perfect," he whispers with a grin. She straightens with great effort, sharp pupils focused mischievously on him.

"We'll see," she retorts with an equally determined breath of laughter before tilting forward and raining kisses on his cheeks and jaw.

He stands still as she voyages over the clefts and curves of his face, vaguely wondering why his hands are not on her perfectly exposed breasts, because that's usually a priority, right? – Interrupting his thoughts, however, is the sudden hot surface of her lips closing around his earlobe and sucking experimentally on it.

A noise he has never heard come from him slips from his throat, and he sighs hugely, inadvertently pressing her close to him and dropping his forehead against her shoulder. She nudges him upwards slightly and licks the inside of his ear before returning to the lobe, teeth sifting over it with torturous slowness. Wally could honestly fall asleep like this, with the feel of her warm moist mouth around the freckled hollow of his ear, but she will allow him no such escape, releasing him with a final nudge of the tongue and gently raising him up beneath his shoulders.

She keeps her hands there, leaning a decent distance away, and at last, at last, he can see her breasts – they are more pert than he had imagined, more round and serene and symmetrical (Wally so enjoys symmetry), their shapes soft and swarthy and patient.

He cannot bring himself to raise his hand. Once he touches her breast, there is no going back. The touching of breasts is the final rung before the bridge crumbles behind him, and no head start with super speed can vault him across the canyon after he crosses it.

She senses his consternation, he is certain, if the wry glint of her eyes is any evidence. Questioningly, she moves her hand around his wrist and guides his palm to her chest, letting it rest on her right breast, and he feels the curve of her nipple in the stretch of skin between his thumb and index finger. The calluses on his hands seem horrendous and inadequate in comparison to the baffling silkiness of her skin, the malleable crescent of her breast, but there is an earnesty in her eyes that he has never witnessed as she releases his hand and reaches up to stroke through his hair.

"You need a minute, Wall-man?" she snarks with dissonant tenderness, smile curling with humor.

"I might," he confesses in a far squeakier voice than he had intended.

Before he finishes his two syllables, however, his hand has begun moving of its own accord, caressing her breast with even contemplation. He draws her closer to him, and her bare feet pad silently across the floor.

"I don't need a – a guide," he stutters, perhaps more for his own reassurance than hers. She shrugs with an uncontained smirk.

"Never said you did," she retorts, and her hands are on either side of his head, pulling him down to her. Her mouth blossoms open against his and she sighs heavily through her nose, thumbs pressing against his temples, and he, perhaps by instinct, moves his thumb in circles over her nipple.

She shudders and gasps a little and moans, a drawn-out, husky teeming that bursts down into his throat and wisps away into vapor. Wally, confidence burgeoning, works faster (fast is his specialty, after all), and the noises she is making; they're going to drive him to drink before he's even legally permitted to do so.

Wally's unoccupied hand rests on Artemis' hip, thumb stroking her bone, and he can feel her gooseflesh in the lines on his palms. She is coming alive in his arms in a way he has never witnessed, ablaze and unimpeded; she throws her head back with closed eyes and he cannot fathom how he is making her feel like this, because for two years she has been kicking him and insulting him and chastising him and whacking him and prodding him and now she is – can he dare to say that she is loving him? That she is enveloping him, escorting him over the uncharted mythical landscape of her body? His mouth feels so cold and lonely without hers connected to it, and he combs his fingers up through her hair, gathering a handful of it at the back of her head. She bites her lip and he feels special, so special, so individual and able and different than any other boy on the planet for the first time in his life; suddenly all humans are not slightly varied models of one ideal, for he has no connection to the other males; he is Artemis', as he has always been, and none others will possess her as he does.

Thunder growls outside and Wally is sure that lightning is flashing somewhere, lost beyond the windowless walls of the Cave.

(don't you cherish me to sleep)

Artemis is leading him by the wrist toward the bed, and he follows her with shuffling footsteps, toes curling apprehensively. There is a sudden romantic beauty to the things he had previously despised: the rumble of the rainstorm, the impenetrable darkness of the room, the cold encroaching the walls, the disheveled bed, the bamboo floor, Artemis' blistered fingers in his. These are the things that will forever remind him of her, even when he has run so far from home that he can no longer remember where it was because all of the world is his, just as all of Artemis is—

"What are we doing?" she whispers with ephemeral restlessness. He does not answer. He tilts her toward the foot of the bed and she sits, her whole body arcing catlike down over the surface of it, her hair fanning out around her like a sea. She scoots further up until her head rests on a crooked pillow and sighs.

She raises her foot and brushes the back of it against his cheek temptingly. Her loose navy shorts do not leave much to the imagination, but Wally is sick of imagination already.

She hooks her thumbs around the band of the shorts and pulls them down, along with the evergreen seam of her underwear, and soon they are racing along her thighs and shins and then they dangle off the edge of her right toes before she flicks them aside, and Wally's gut is twisting and squirming and his forehead feels hot as she curls her toes and bends her right knee to point out past its straightened partner.

Wally stares at her for a few moments, eyes roving over the unbearable geography of the world she has presented to him, tongue drying at the sight of her hips shifting in the dark. She spreads her legs and he sees a mole in the cusp of her upper thigh. The scars he had so aptly predicted she would have are bare-boned and blatant for him now, white streaks stitched tightly across her skin. He steps toward her slowly and sits at the foot of the bed before lying on his side beside her, facing her, nose level with hers. She shifts to mirror him, mouth open pensively.

He notices, very suddenly, that she's shaking. His brow furrows.

"Are you cold?"

"Huh?" She blinks, hastily glancing down at herself. "Oh, I don't know. Maybe?" Her voice is tight, too, and palpitates. He can see her chest rising and falling with rapidity. "I'm not sure."

The meaning of her current state descends on Wally like a tidal wave.

"Are you – scared?" The question is stupid, he knows, and he is stupid for asking it, because it is obvious that Artemis is not scared of anything. "Or something?"

"What? No," she replies firmly. "Possibly." A beat. "Of your face."

"You're going to need more sass than that if you're going to make it through tonight without everything turning awkward," Wally ripostes with a sly smile. She whacks him on the shoulder, and for a moment, he forgets that she is lying naked beside him as the rest of the Team sleeps.

"I'm just going easy on you," she claims with feigned indifference, waving a dismissive hand. "You should be thanking me."

"Oh, I am," he says with a smirk, sliding his right hand onto her shoulder blade.

There are a few moments of the sound of rainfall, of Artemis' cadenced breaths, and Wally can see goosebumps prickling over the surface of her impeccable skin.

"You are cold," he declares with exasperated patience at her tenacity. She huffs, folding her arms under her breasts.

"I am not," she insists lamely.

"It's either cold or scared, beautiful. Pick one."

Her face softens, and the corners of her eyes bunch together and a crinkle forms between her eyebrows and she bites her lip apprehensively.

"You haven't called me that since Bialya," she says.

He ponders this.

"Yeah, I guess you're right. But hey—" He smirks, taking on a husky falsetto. "Amnesia, remember? Forgot how truly annoying you are."

"Oh," she retorts easily, "like you're the god of congeniality."

He snickers and she does too and their foreheads come together conspiratorially, and he exhales comfortably, scooting closer to her until their hips are touching expectantly. He runs his knuckles across her cheek.

(love could hardly leave the room

with your heart)

"Nah, I'm kidding," he murmurs with a bemused smile. "You're gorgeous."

"Spare me the valentines, Wall-man," she chides him, shaking her head fondly against his.

"Is this okay?" he voices after a time with gentleness. "Are we – okay?"

A moment passes in silence, and then she nods decisively.

"Yeah," she replies breathlessly. "Yeah, we're okay."

"So you don't—" His voice hitches unattractively and he swallows it. "You don't… hate me, or anything?"

Artemis draws back to look him in the eye, visage befuddled.

"No," she exclaims as if it is the most obvious thing in the world. "No, of – of course I don't hate you, Wally. What are you, stupid?"

"Well, hey, could've fooled me!" he protests defensively. "You should win Oscars!"

"Are you serious?" His jocular front collapses at the severity of her voice, as if she has just discovered that she has made a grave mistake. "Wally." She puts one hand firmly against his temple, her expression stony and emphatic. "I do not hate you. I haven't hated you since, like, before the Bialya thing."

"Oh, wow." He blinks, astonished. "Well, uh, what do you know."

There is a dashing moment of tenseness so palpable that it seems to press against him, but suddenly she is grabbing his face and yanking his mouth forward to meet hers with such forcefulness and passion that it almost knocks him for an infinite loop. He is horribly conscious of his craggy, chapped lips, so abrasive against her supple ones; she, however, consumes them with fervor. The thunder swells in bursts of timpani and her entire being is alert, waiting, lingering; and for the first time since he met her, when they were gangly fifteen-year-olds whose rampant teeth clung to words of circuitous brevity, he is absolutely certain about how he feels in regards to Artemis Crock.

She is more, infinitely more, than the quick-tempered slip of a thing whose palm is constantly on a collision course with the back of his head; she is more than an infuriating, cheeky harpy; she is more than one of the guys, more than bow-worn fingers, more than vessel through which eyes constantly roll, and all of the truth of her being is held with threatening fragility in his fumbling hands, waiting impatiently to be comprehended.

And she knows with unusual certainty that Wally West is suddenly above that crass and cocky boy she first met at the tail-end of a far-off summer; he is no longer the snarky clown with sunscreen on his nose; he is no longer just the pig who eats all of her Oreos; he is all of these things and a heap of others, and she realizes that she has cried in front of him and she has confessed things to him and she has confided in him and she has turned to him in times of tumultuous self-chaos, and he has always been there, miraculously, to listen – no smirks, no snickers, only peculiarly wise green eyes and dusty freckles and unending confidence, no longer in himself, but in her.

(She will not let him down.)

Somehow, though he has by far been the unkindest to her out of all of her teammates, he has understood her best; he has taken nothing lying down, and he has looked her in the eye and told her she is wrong, in a way no one has ever dared to before.

"Wally," she whispers, and the word is long and contemplative, the concise representation of her epiphanies, as he arches against her, the surface of his skin hot and attentive.

"Artemis," he murmurs with equal veneration, fingers meandering across the nape of her neck. She, fingers faint and vigilant, moves her hands down to the waistline of his loud red pajama pants and skims them down the length of his legs until they are piled precariously at the edge of the bed. (He is so warm, she thinks vaguely. So warm.)

Wally's heart drops and drums ceaselessly against his ribs; they clatter and bang together as she races her hands over them, over his hip, over his thigh, and eventually—

(we smoked the screen to make it what it was to be

now i know it in my memory:

and at once i knew

i was not magnificent.)

The rain falls and Artemis unfurls like an untold story in his freckled, novice hands; he is a breathless fool beside her, within her, and his mind stumbles and processes and does not settle for days to come, but that does not matter – none of these things matter as Artemis clings to him, her eyes closed as though she is dreaming. When dawn breaks with pale omniscience and the pavement glistens with rain, Wally is out the door in an instant before she wakes, his stomach heavy with the weight of this beautifully bereft change; — Two nights later, when the Team is battling the Shadows and she has fallen, he certainly does not shout her name with more desperation than he has ever shouted anything in his life; he does not kiss her fiercely on the bioship as she recovers in the medical bay, and they are absolutely not caught by the watchful eye of Robin, whose cackles fill the walls of the bioship with unbridled satisfaction.

He does not tell her, in an uncharacteristically quiet tone, that he loves her. She does not return the sentiment with a fond whack to the side of his head. They are exactly the same as they have been for two years; why would anyone think otherwise? (The sight of her blood, so much more plentiful than the dark, circular stain on her sheets, is only eradicated from his retinas by the sound of her even breathing beneath the blankets that night as she inhales and exhales into the crook of his neck. Winter comes, and she whispers to him, "bon hiver, Wall-man; bon hiver.")

(so it's storming on the lake

little waves our bodies break

teach our bodies: haunt a cause

i was only trying to spell a loss)