"Now wrap the bandage tight around the…"
"Atlanteans DO get wounded in action, you realize." Aqualad's eyes flit up to meet Artemis'. "I have performed this duty before, and while your assistance is appreciated, it is neither necessary nor, if I may say so, helpful. Lie still until I have finished."
Artemis sighs and allows herself to sink back to the ground. "Fine." She growls. A sudden hiss of pain bursts from her teeth as Kaldur draws the bandage tight.
"Are you sure you don't want any painkillers?" He asks.
Closing her eyes, she manages to grit out through her teeth: "I can take it."
"Of course you can. My point is only that you need not do so. Kid Flash and Superboy are taking care of the last few enemies, there is no reason to refrain from…"
"I'll. Deal." Artemis' voice indicates that there is no room for argument.
Kaldur shrugs. "As you wish." He ties off the bandage. "There. That should do for your rib cage. Now allow me to examine your arm."
"It's not…" Her attempt to gesture backfires and she winces in pain. "Okay, okay."
The arm is clearly broken and he reaches for another splint. "In the future," he tells her as he ties that one around her arm, "Leave a creature of that size for me or Superboy."
Artemis grunts noncommittally. "I've handled worse than him."
"But again, you did not have to. It would have been simple for you to simply back ground and allow one of us to handle it." Kaldur admonishes her, picking up the bandages. "You do not have the strength or durability to match something like that."
"Robin was right up in its face, and I don't see you talking to HIM." Artemis shoots back.
Caught off guard, Kaldur blinks for a moment. "That is because Robin… is Robin." He manages finally. "He does not get hurt. Moreover, Robin took that risk because you were injured. He DID have to attack it. You did not."
"Whatever," snorts Artemis, rolling her eyes at the ceiling. "Don't try to play games with me, I know what this is about. You've been on me ever since that simulation where I died."
"From my perspective, since that simulation, you have been engaging in increasingly dangerous behavior." Kaldur counters. "But yes, the simulation helped bring to light some… issues I had before observed."
Kaldur stops his bandaging momentarily and leans back. For a short pause, he studies Artemis, saying nothing. Finally he speaks. "There was no need for you to run so far from the vessel when you first engaged those ships." He says. "Having engaged them, you did not have to wait so long before turning to run back. Your bravado made the situation more dangerous for yourself than it had to be."
"Look who's talking, Mr. I-Sacrifice-Myself-for-the-Martian." Artemis snorts.
For a moment Kaldur looks embarrassed. "I am no longer sure that was the wrong decision." He defends. "And in any case, I have since endeavored to amend my behavior, acting as a true leader instead of a soldier. You, however, seem to have learned little from the simulation, continuing to go beyond what is necessary or safe."
"Just because I'm not invulnerable like you and Superemo doesn't mean I'm made of glass!" She shoots back, a trifle louder than she needs to. "I may not have any powers, but that doesn't mean I'm helpless. You don't have to baby me!"
"This is not about your abilities. They are valuable and effective. This is about your behavior and the increasingly…"
She cuts him off. "Look, I don't need your concern, okay?" Involuntarily, her bandaged arm recoils from him and she hisses in pain, but grabs the loose bandage with her other hand, winding it back around. "I've been taking care of myself since I was seven." She snorts, head bent over her work. "And while I might be new to this whole 'hero' schtick, I know how to stay out of trouble. So just stop trying to look out for the weak link already."
Aqualad says nothing at first, simply watching her tie off the bandage. Then he speaks, and his voice is uncharacteristically soft. "No one thinks of you as the weak link, Artemis."
"Yeah, right," replies Artemis, head still bent over, face invisible. "I'm just the only non-powered person on this whole team." A short pause. "Well, unless you count Robin, but he…"
"…is Robin. Yes." Aqualad nods.
Artemis' snort is part laugh, part something else. "HIM you don't worry about. Kid Flash and him are your best boyfriends, you three have known each other for ages. Not like me, of course. I'm just the upstart girl who Green Arrow dumped on you guys."
"But that is part of what makes you so valuable." Kaldur's voice is still soft. "We needed someone to shake us up, help us realize the flaws in our form. And for that, we needed someone with training."
"You have Superboy. And Miss Martian."
Kaldur shakes his head. "Miss Martian is still learning how to use her own powers. Superboy has knowledge, but not experience. And while Kid Flash and I have experience, we do not have quite the level of training you do."
"Or Robin." Again the snort.
"Robin has worked with all of us for too long." Kaldur shrugs. "His eye has grown accustomed to the flaws you see."
"You mean like Wally's utter idiocy?"
This time there's something of a laugh in her voice and Kaldur allows himself a small smile. "Your help tempering Wally's… enthusiasm is one aspect of your assistance, yes." He acknowledges. "There are others—none of us are particularly long-distance fighters, for instance—but that is a good example."
Artemis says nothing, and Kaldur takes the opportunity to hand her the first-aid kit.
"You ARE an important member of this team, Artemis. And that is precisely why I, as team leader, MUST be concerned for your safety."
A/N: Okay, so several reasons for this fic. One, Aqualad is AWESOME (never thought I'd say that, but Young Justice manages it) and needs more attention. But I wanted to write a fic on ALL the Young Justice members, so I thought a Kaldur-centric fic showing his interactions with the different team members might be in order.
The other? An overabundance of fics where Robin gets hurt/sick/tortured. Seriously, what the heck? Okay, he's the youngest member of the team, but he's also the most experienced and arguably one of the most formidable fighters in the team. I don't know. Maybe some people just like to torment upbeat 13 year-olds, but in terms of probability, Artemis, the newcomer to the heroing scene, is FAR more likely to get hurt/captured/killed than the g****** Batman's sidekick, who's been doing this stuff since he was 9.
Artemis is really an interesting character in a lot of ways, and I'm intrigued to see what the show does with her. She's actually a villain in the comics, so it'd be cool if they kept her a heroine. A lot of this stuff is based off her behavior in "Homefront," where she seemed to have some inferiority complex going about the superpowered people on the team. She's a very proud and independent girl, but you get the impression that a part of her is trying not to be awed by being around all these big guns like Batman and Martian Manhunter.
Hopefully this series will go through the rest of the team, though I'm not sure who'll come next. Probably Superboy.