Finally, it's done! This is a present for bentfire for being my 200th follower on Tumblr, and it's based on one of her graphics, which shows a picture of Wally and Artemis with the caption "Our conversations pretty much only consist of the phrase 'fuck you.' And the sex is fantastic. We've got a great thing going here."
This is pretty old, as in, it's been on Tumblr for ages, but I might as well put it on here. Don't worry; there's no explicit sex or anything, but there are mentions of BOOBIES and SOME LANGUAGE so I guess this is mildly heavy T?
These snippets are not in chronological order. Refer to the numbers before each part to see where they take place time-wise. Hope that's not too confusing, uhhh.
Artemis has a thin white scar across her left breast.
Wally can't begin to describe how good it feels to be aware that he's the only boy who knows this. Robin doesn't know it. Superboy doesn't know it. Kaldur doesn't know it. They are all carelessly oblivious to this particular fascinating fact about the sinewy blonde girl with the contemptuous eyes and the full scintillating lips. It makes him feel more pleased with himself than any tenth-grade conquest could, parading around the Cave with this indispensable knowledge.
When she finally tells him where it came from, he can admit that he's a little disappointed, especially considering how feverishly she avoided informing him for so long.
"I got it when I was twelve," she huffs with a sweeping roll of her eyes. "From my cat. I was carrying her around and she got scared. Her claws went all the way through my overalls."
"You wore overalls?" Wally exclaims with a poorly concealed snort and a forcible bite of his own lip to keep down the imminent laughter.
Artemis shoots him a weary look.
"Yeah, Wally, I did," she sighs, and Wally doesn't realize it at the time, how truly important it is that she doesn't punch him in the face for laughing at her.
He runs a finger along the scar and she shivers, and he can see the goosebumps blossoming over her forearms even in the pitch-blackness of her bare room. (Batman hadn't let them put windows in the Cave – too risky, he said. You don't need them.)
"I like it better than your other ones," he tells her earnestly, and he feels immediately stupid afterwards.
Artemis puts a self-conscious arm over the deep pink one racing along her torso.
"I do, too," she mutters. "The story behind it's nicer, anyway."
Wally kisses her because he doesn't want to talk anymore. For months, that's the only reason he ever does it, but she doesn't seem to mind. The sheets rustle like soil beneath them, and her pillow smells like redwoods.
"You are the most obnoxious—ugh! There aren't even any words left in the dictionary to describe how obnoxious you are!"
Artemis throws her hands in the air and whirls furiously away from Wally, limping thunderously out of the kitchen.
"That's because they're all too busy describing you," he snarls after her. She exhales roughly and sharply and it might sound just a little bit like a sob, but it isn't. "It's not my fault your aim couldn't shoot you out of wet tissue paper! Who taught you how to use that thing, anyway, your grandmother?"
"No!" she growls, tossing her chin scornfully over her shoulder toward him. "Not that it's any of your business!"
"Why'd you even come along?" he shouts, all self-restraint gone, replaced by his still-fresh bitterness over Red Arrow's departure. "This Team functions juuust fine without you tripping around behind us, Princess."
"If you're going to insult me, say my name, Baywatch." She ekes out the last nickname with relish, not caring that it makes no sense in context, because honestly, all she wants to do is rile him up, and it doesn't matter how. "Unless you're still too busy sobbing over your little buddy Speedy to do anything with yourself."
Wally grits his teeth and a low, visceral growl escapes them. He glowers at her, and she doesn't flinch.
"What is your problem?" he bellows, completely out of banter and insults.
"My problem is you!" she shrieks back at equal volume, striding forward until she's just in front of him, jabbing a hateful finger into his chest until she can feel her fingernail bending. "You think just because I'm an outsider, you can push me around like I'm nothing. Look, I'm sorry I'm not living up to Speedy's name or whatever, but I don't care what you say! I'm on this team, whether you want me to be or not!"
"Nobody wants you on this Team!" he snaps. Artemis almost laughs.
"Is that supposed to hurt my feelings?" she hisses, bringing her face up to his. "You're not doing a very good job if it is. You think I care what anybody thinks? You think I care what you think? You're just some stuck-up pig who thinks that any girl who doesn't throw herself at him has some sort of disease."
"I don't!" he protests angrily, eyebrows tight. "You're just – a special case."
"What did I do wrong, huh, Wall-man?" Artemis demands viciously, raising her hands to shove at his shoulders until he stumbles back. "Enlighten me, so I can do it some more!"
"You're just—" Wally forces himself to stop, bowing his head and tightening his jaw with restraint. He inhales, exhales, and some of the blind fury dissipates until he looks her in the eye. Artemis can feel heat radiating off of his face. "Look. I'm sorry, okay? Whatever. Let's just—"
"Avoid each other?" she suggests rancorously.
He considers her, and for a heartbeat of an instant, Artemis can see disappointment gathering in his eyes, but the glower returns and the expression is gone.
"At all costs," he sneers, and shoulders her roughly aside as he storms out of the kitchen towards the living quarters.
As soon as he's gone, Artemis pounds a fist on the marble surface of the counter, ignoring the throbbing pain pulsing through it as she heads for the zeta tubes. She walks three blocks home in the rainy stench of Gotham and doesn't once turn around (as if in the mad hope that Wally will suddenly appear behind her so that she can start something over).
Artemis's whole body goes rigid the moment the words drift out from Wally's languid mouth, and his heart begins to palpitate in scrambling compunction.
He's sitting on the left side of her bed, one knee raised to house his elbow as he props up his chin to look down at her uncovered form, stretched contentedly and silently out on the dark jade of her sheets. The flickering gold spray of the nightlight feebly illuminates the right side of her face, dulling her eyelashes as she breathes.
Her eyes snap open and rivet into his. He swallows.
"Was, uh…" he stumbles. "Was that wrong?"
"Don't call me that," she murmurs, words tight and testy. "Don't ever say that again."
"Why not?" he demands, and it's certainly not the first time that he hasn't respected her wishes.
She rolls away from him, curling up, pulling the down comforter up over herself.
"Just don't." Her grip tightens on the corner of the duvet, and she tugs it up higher until he can barely see the top of her head. Her blonde hair bursts out over the pillow. Some of it tickles his stomach.
"I want to," he says lamely. "It's the truth."
"Wally," she snarls warningly. (She only ever calls him by his name when she's angry.) The bitterness in her tone is halting. "You're getting attached. We said we wouldn't get attached. That's not the point of this."
Wally's brow furrows hesitantly, a bit regretfully, and he flops down onto his back, spread-eagled. The comforter skirts over his hips, but he still feels cold all over.
"What's the point of this, then?" he asks softly.
"Don't pretend you forgot," she mumbles.
"Maybe I did," he shoots back firmly, and it all feels awkward and staged, like the end of one of M'gann's romantic comedies.
"Well, remember, then," she hisses back after a few moments. "Don't get attached," she adds dissonantly, and Wally can't tell if she's talking to him or to herself.
But because Wally is bitter, because he has never dared to permit himself to call a girl beautiful before and because it's a big step for him, he clambers off of the bed and tosses his clothes on and leaves, and he slams the door so loudly behind him that he hopes it puts cracks in the walls.
Robin is fully prepared to physically restrain Wally the moment it looks like he's about to punch Artemis across the jaw, and that moment seems palpably imminent.
The fact that Sportsmaster had escaped hadn't been entirely her fault. Robin could admit that if Artemis had taken the shot when she'd had it, the man wouldn't have gotten away, but he was sure that she had her reasons. Reasons that, hopefully, were about to be revealed to the particularly belligerent speedster whose fists were shaking at his sides.
"Do you have any idea," Wally shouts, "how much longer it might be before we even see his face again? This might've been our best chance at catching him! Our only chance!"
"I couldn't have taken the shot, Wally!" she retorts at equal volume, her husky voice cracking. Robin has heard her speak like this, once, when they were crawling through the ruined ventilation shafts of the Cave a year ago.
"Why not?" he yells furiously, cheeks red under the freckles. "Whose side are you even on, Artemis?"
Artemis's whole body goes rigid, and Robin thinks that maybe it will be her that he's going to have to hold back, but then her face takes on an uncannily emotionless expression, and the temperature of the entire room seems to drop below freezing.
"If you really need to ask that question," she whispers with no inflection, and Wally's fury immediately halts at the sound of her, "then maybe you're right, Wally. Maybe I don't belong on this Team after all."
"Artemis, I didn't mean—" he starts to say, but he scarcely gets through her name before she's turned on her heel and stormed out of the room, ponytail whipping around the corner of the corridor to the zeta tubes.
Robin looks at his best friend for a moment with unimpeded disappointment, and Wally flounders wordlessly at him. Robin shakes his head silently before dashing down the hallway after Artemis.
He skids to a halt beside her just as she's about to power up the zeta tube and grabs her elbow. This action warrants little more than a slow blink on her end, but she switches off the controls and exhales, eyes on the floor.
"If I'd shot the arrow, it would've killed him," she croaks. Robin has always felt short compared to her, but now she seems so small and helpless, wilting before him. "I won't—I won't kill people. Not even him. Not anymore. I'm not like that anymore."
She finally turns her head to look at him, and she is biting her lip so hard that Robin swears it will bleed, and her eyes are glistening dully.
"I swear," she whispers.
Robin cautiously pulls her into an awkward hug – his forehead barely comes up to her shoulder, and she accepts him, sniffling. He can sense Wally lingering in the doorway behind them, and hopes that he heard every word the archer said. Every word.
"Would I be pushing the envelope here if I told you I liked you?"
Artemis blinks and looks aside at Wally through squinted eyes, one eyebrow skeptically cocked. He grins encouragingly at her.
"Not really," she ripostes briskly. "You like a lot of girls."
"All girls," he emphasizes helpfully. "Except you."
Artemis snorts, an incredulous smirk quirking at the corners of her lips.
"This self-contradiction thing of yours is a serious problem," she quips. "You might want to get it looked at."
"That's not what I mean," he huffs, crossing his arms and pouting. "I mean, like – you're different, I guess. You're the only girl I've ever met that I've, you know, been – mildly annoyed by."
"Then you've just taken a big step, Wally." She's trying to keep a straight face and failing. "This is progress. We'll continue with this during next week's session, okay?"
"Hang on. Just – let me explain this."
Artemis snickers and puts her arms behind her head. "Do you need the Jeopardy theme or are you good without it?"
"Okay." Wally's face looks comically concentrated, and he's holding his hands out in front of him as if he's about to grasp onto the perfect explanation for all the peculiar things he's feeling. "Let's just start with the obvious. I love all the ladies, and all the ladies love me. You were the first girl I met who wasn't all over me, and obviously, that meant you were either psychologically disturbed, drugged, or a freak of nature."
"I'm way too comfortable right now to hit you, so can you just hit yourself for me?"
He lightly taps a hand against his cheek, and, in spite of herself, she lets loose a laugh.
"Thank you. You're the nicest boyfr—"
She freezes, stiffening, trying to stifle the terror encroaching her insides. Wally seems to notice, because he ceases his monologue of ill-concealed self-praise to blink in surprise at her, green eyes protuberant.
"What was that?" he asks with a grin, not bothering to attempt to mask his excitement.
Artemis wants so badly to deck him. She wants to give him bruises everywhere on his body, even on the places that she's always loved, because how dare he make her think that; how dare he make her almost—
"I have to go," she blurts out, scrambling off the bed and haphazardly throwing on her clothes. Wally blinks dazedly, and Artemis guesses that by the time she's out the door, he's still processing the fact that she isn't naked anymore. For the fastest boy alive, he can be so agonizingly slow.
She doesn't go straight home. Instead she puts on her uniform and produces her collapsible bow, patrolling Gotham for the rest of the night, in the hopes that any and all villainous arms broken thanks to her will wrench the thoughts of freckled shoulders and lazy green gazes out of her mind.
He'll never know what made him kiss her after she told him to go die alone in a hole during one of their late-night sparring matches.
What he does know is that she had tasted exactly like he had always imagined she would – like cinnamon, like marzipan, like a wide array of spices and herbs with an undercurrent of pine trees. It had been the strangest sensation on his tongue, but it hadn't lasted long before her palm had collided spitefully with the back of his head.
"What are you doing?" she had shouted. He had been dumbfounded, gawking at her, one involuntary hand rising to hover hesitantly over his lips.
In the dimness of the empty training room, her sweat-shined forehead had been indiscernible, but her gold hair had seemed peculiarly flaxen; her sweatshirt and shorts had looked almost black in the darkness.
"Uh is right, Wally."
"Sorry," he had blurted out. "It—wow. I don't even know."
"Neither do I," she had snapped. Then, after a moment's pause: "Do it again."
Wally, senseless and dazed, had obliged her, and her cheeks had been cool in his palms as she had wrestled her tongue into his mouth, her hands gathering in the base of his shirt. Maybe he had been breathing heavily; he wasn't sure, but there had been a yawning need in the back of his head, a need that flooded forward and engulfed him as she caught his teeth with her lower lip. Somehow, her hairtie came out; then her sweatshirt was on the floor in a pile, and so was his shirt, and her blistered fingers were flush against his chest—
He had blinked, opening his eyes to try to figure out where her mouth had gone. She had been gazing up at him in terror, in confusion, her brows furrowed, and he had grinned goofily.
"Wait for what?"
"This isn't—" A pause. "This won't work."
The warmth pulsing through Wally's limbs had disintegrated into foreboding goosebumps as she had glared up at him.
"Uh, why not?" he had mumbled.
"Because I hate you," she had replied simply. "And you hate me."
Wally had nodded. "Oh."
After a drawn-out silence, she had lowered her eyes to his chest, seeming pensive. He had put a hand awkwardly on her shoulder, and eventually, she spoke. Her face adopted a mischievous, cunning smirk.
"We could…" As she had chewed her lip in thought, Wally had gulped. "We could – do this without commitment. No dates, no PDA, just… whatever we want, whenever we want, without having to worry about anything complicated."
To be honest, Wally had not thought of commitment. It seemed like such a crippling idea, now that he mulled over it – like running with a pair of cement shoes. Artemis had been blinking expectantly up at him, and he had been able to see one bra strap hanging loosely off of her shoulder, and her hair had fallen in twisting piles down to her waist, and she had been his, waiting for him; waiting for—
"Sure," he had murmured distractedly before leaning down to take her lips in his again. His torso had pounded.
"One rule," she had said firmly, jerking back to avoid him and poking him adamantly with her index finger. "We don't get attached. This is just – we're just… friends with benefits. None of that devotion crap. Got it?"
"Sure," the response had come again, and he presumed that she had believed his offhand agreement to a pact he had not paid attention to, because within a few moments she had been pressed against the wall, gasping, and every inch of her bare skin had been explored by his fumbling hands. (Everything was racing by so fast, and he could not catch up to it; he is still so far behind, so out of breath, that he no longer knows where he is.)
"Artemis? What's the matter? It's almost two in the morning."
"I know. I'm sorry. There's just – an emergency."
"Are you all right? Do you need me to come over?"
"No, no, it's nothing like that. It's—"
"Ooh! Ooh! I love it when you talk about Wally! What did he do this time?"
"It's not him, really. It's me."
"B-But you just said it is Wally."
"That's not the point."
"What is the point?"
"…I don't think I hate him anymore."
"Oh, wonderful! Excellent! Spectacular! I'm so happy!"
"Told you it was an emergency."
Wally can't breathe as he watches Artemis step toward Sportsmaster's beckoning arm. Whether this is due to the chokehold that Cheshire has him in or his own desperate disbelief is a mystery.
"Art—" he croaks out as Cheshire jerks her arm tighter against his throat and lifts him off the ground.
"Don't say her name like you know her," Cheshire sneers in his ear. He scrabbles at her steely arms to no avail.
He can hear Robin kicking and flailing in the grip of another henchman; Aqualad is unconscious on the ground a few feet away; M'gann is bleeding and bruised, held up by her cape in the hand of another silent subordinate; Zatanna is biting and scratching at a man twice as strong as she is, and Superboy's down for the count, slumped against one of the metal walls in the warehouse.
"Come on, kid," Sportsmaster says gruffly to Artemis, and Wally can hear the smirk behind his unnerving mask. "It's time to split."
Artemis obeys him, walking forward to stand beside him. Robin is gaping at her, and Wally can sense tears in his eyes behind the mask. The feeble sadness of M'gann's vaguely conscious mind crawls into everyone's heads, curling up in the corners.
Wally's starting to see black spots. His throat is tight against the pressure of Cheshire's strengthening grip. Though she is pulling his head back by his hair, he manages to tilt his chin forward enough to catch Artemis's eye as she turns to face the fallen Team.
Zatanna cries out and is silent.
"You don't have to do this," he chokes out. Artemis's eyes are nothing short of dead, two dull bullets staring somewhere between his forehead and mouth. "We can – help you—that's what we're—hck!—supposed to… do…!"
Artemis's expression doesn't change – not even a cold laugh, or a contemptuous smirk, or a hateful sneer. She shakes her head once and raises her bow, drawing an arrow from the quiver and notching it.
"You always were too nice for your own good, Wall-man," she murmurs monotonously.
Sportsmaster leans down until he is speaking directly in her ear, and she does not flinch.
"Straight for the heart," he whispers.
She nods, aims the arrow at Wally's chest, and releases without blinking. Wally feels the tip of it stab into him and shake, dousing the ragged beginning of her name as it comes out of his dry lips, and his eyes roll back into his head as Cheshire drops him to the floor.
The ceiling of the medbay is cold and colorless above Wally's stinging, blur-blanketed eyes. His reaction to consciousness is delayed, but within a couple of seconds, he's sitting bolt upright with a gasp.
Robin is perched in a chair beside the bed. Wally feels a sharp pain in his chest and collapses back onto the pillow, hissing through his teeth and wincing.
"Morning, Sleeping Beauty," Robin quips, but the joke is weak and half-delivered. Wally groans. His chest is smarting horribly.
"Ugh. I…" His awareness scrabbles against the insides of his skull, and suddenly, he remembers what happened – he remembers Artemis turning away; he remembers the hilt of the arrow protruding from his heart; he remembers blackness, silent and impenetrable, and he remembers the first time he kissed a girl, in the shadowy confines of the training room—
"Artemis," he blurts out, eyes widening at an unstoppable rate. "Where—how—"
"Tranquilizer," Robin states, deadpan and frank. His eyes are on his shoes. "She disguised it as a poisoned arrow. The nib was short enough that it wouldn't hit your heart, but you'll still have… a scar."
Wally, in response, glances down at his bandaged torso, at the brown spot in the gauze directly over his left pectoral. He reaches up to poke it and grimaces at the stab of pain. How appropriate, he thinks dryly; a scar over the heart.
"My theory is that she wanted Sportsmaster to think she'd killed you," Robin continues without pause. "Seems like that, anyway. Batman agrees with me."
"Why would she…?" Wally asks feebly, his voice dry and cracking. Robin snorts.
"Beats me. To protect us. Or her mom." He pauses, sighing. "Or, you know, she could really be on her side. Maybe she just got attached."
"She's his daughter." This is the first time Wally has spoken these words, and they are yellow and acrimonious against his teeth. "She didn't – tell us; she didn't…" The questions in his mind are chaotic, stumbling over one another for attention. "Is – oh, man. Zatanna. Is she okay? Is M'gann—"
"Zatanna's okay," Robin assures him adamantly. His hands curl into fists. "Everyone is."
"We need to get her back," Wally says before he even processes the words. He still has not made the transition from bitter heartbreak to fervent protectiveness. "She just – all she ever wanted was for someone to trust her, Rob. For us to trust her. And we didn't."
Robin is looking straight at him now, and Wally offhandedly notices that he isn't wearing his sunglasses. The heart monitor pings.
"You didn't." The statement hits Wally in the face like a cinder block, and he physically draws away, drawing his knees up.
"Maybe not," he admits. "Maybe I was wrong."
The slightest of smiles quirks up on Robin's face.
"Be prepared to say that again," he says, clambering to his feet. "Artemis will want to hear it. Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
Wally, after a moment's pause, nods, eyes resolute and pale.
"Yeah. She needs to get more of those."
Wally spots her straight away, lithe and deadly in her black costume that mirrors Cheshire's, with her blonde hair braided and in a bun and her face covered by a mask resembling a stylized tiger. She is beside Sportsmaster atop the steel rafters, watching the chaos occurring before her with protuberant and shocked eyes as Cheshire strikes at Kaldur and M'gann, who flit expertly around her, eyes hard.
Sportsmaster claps his hands idly at Cheshire. The sound echoes in the vastness of the warehouse. Artemis, still staring blankly at the scene, does not twitch when he puts one arm around her proudly.
"I hope you're happy, kiddo," he sneers to her, intentionally speaking so that all in the building can hear. "This time they all will die, and you can watch."
The hand previously resting on her shoulder reaches up and snatches her hair, yanking her head back violently. He sends a glance at Wally, and his eyes narrow with a leer.
Wally's expression ferments into a glower of utter disgust as he grits his teeth up at Sportsmaster, and he spins his way out of Henchman #1's grasp. The man lets out a roar of frustration and Wally uppercuts him brutally in the jaw. He falls to the ground, unconscious, and Wally, for good measure, kicks him in the side before whirling back around toward the father and daughter.
"Artemis!" he bellows up at her, and he can perceive no change in expression behind the mask. "How're we doing?"
"Don't answer him," Sportsmaster tells her fiercely.
Cheshire has temporarily subdued M'gann, who cries out as she is tossed across the room. Kaldur descends on the assassin with his blades crossed, and she catches them in the curved hilts of her own, the omnipresent grin of the mask glinting in the dark.
Sportsmaster doesn't notice Robin perched on a higher rafter until the Boy Wonder has thrown several exploding discs at him, the impact of which knocks him down and into a nearby pile of boxes.
"Kill them!" he roars as Robin leaps down after him, cape fluttering fleetingly. "Artemis! Kill them all!"
Artemis is suddenly bounding down from the rafter, eyes flashing mercilessly behind the filmy holes in her mask, and she somersaults forward until she lands silently in front of Wally. She straightens, bow drawn and arrow notched, and the nonchalance of her pose is contrasted viciously by the uncontrollable anger in her voice.
"What the hell are you doing here?" she screams furiously at him, her rage exploding down to the floor and bouncing up against the walls. Two of her fingers tighten around the arrow; the bowstring slices into them.
Wally puts his hands up defenselessly, and his heart is thudding, a hammer against bone.
"I guess I got attached," he confesses softly, and at last, an expression bursts onto her face: one of touched astonishment, of spectacular confusion.
"I'm not hearing any killing over there, Arty!" Sportsmaster snarls, but the last of his sentence is extinguished by what seems to be a well-aimed kick to the face from Robin. The Boy Wonder pops up from the disheveled boxes, presses a finger to his earpiece, and listens intently for a moment before nodding at Wally.
"He's down, Artemis," Wally says with rushed excitement, his fingertips quivering. "He's down. And—and Batman's with your mom right now. The whole League is. They found her in the bunker at the base. She's okay. She's going to be okay. And—"
Cheshire seems to be gone, but M'gann is floating woozily toward Kaldur, who is nursing a bleeding slice across his forearm. Superboy is at their sides in an instant. Zatanna brushes dust off of her hands as she smirks proudly down at her pile of knocked-out thugs.
"You can come home," he adds rampantly, hopefully, his tone quiet and emphatic.
Artemis stares at him. She stares at him for a long time. After eternities, she reaches up and pulls the mask slowly off, and Wally's entire being unravels at the sight of her smoldering face, the tenderness lingering in the redness of her cheeks.
"You can come home," he repeats.
The bow is dropped to the floor with a clatter, and Artemis pulls the pins from her hair until it cascades loosely down her back. M'gann is beside her, followed by Kaldur and Superboy and Robin and Zatanna, and she glances at each of them in turn before returning her intent gaze to Wally.
"You're bleeding," she finally says, gesturing to his chest. He looks down.
"I told you you shouldn't be pushing yourself with that thing," Robin scolds him. The small dot of scarlet against the smooth yellow stands out noticeably.
"Good aim," he tells her.
She nods infinitesimally.
"I had to make him think—"
"Yeah, we get it," Wally interrupts, and Kaldur steps forward, taking Artemis's hand.
"We understand, Artemis," the Atlantean murmurs. The others voice their agreement.
"Wasn't there something you wanted to say to Artemis, KF?" Robin cuts in with a mischievous snicker, winking. Wally blanches.
"Oh. Uh. Was there?" he fumbles. Robin all-out laughs.
"Don't you remember? Something you told me during our… bedside discussion the other day?"
Wally's mind crashes around the memory and he gulps.
"Why… yes," he grinds out. Artemis is cocking her eyebrow skeptically at him, one hand on her hip. "I, um – was wrong." He winces. "About you."
"Oh, stop the presses. Kid Flash admitting he was wrong. That's a first." Artemis is smirking at him, and he has never seen a more beautiful or infuriating expression in his life.
"Called it! I so called it!"
Artemis's bare shoulders are cool in the heat of the pulsing summer night, and Wally kisses warmth onto them, resting his chin in the crook of her neck, his chest against her back. She smacks him.
"Go to sleep," she orders. He can sense the smile in her voice.
"I'd be glad to, if you'd let me."
"Yeah, yeah. It's too late to banter. Call me again in the morning."
He rolls away, one arm still under her midsection, and stares at the ceiling, sighing.
"I think this is the first time you've actually stayed the night with me," he voices simply, sounding somewhat surprised.
"And you wonder why I usually don't," she retorts.
He squeezes her elbow. "Thanks."
And instead of a sparking riposte, instead of a sarcastic and vitriolic comment, she merely hums with contentment and says, "Anything for you, Wall-man."