I don't own Young Justice. Pairings are mostly canon (Supermartian and eventual Spitfire a la the show itself), but with exceptions, because let's be real, I'm writing this and I have no self-control.
This idea came from the YJAM; I claim only the execution. :)
No fewer than fourteen and a half people helped Artemis move in, and she hadn't known one of them the day before.
First was the pretty redhead who took one look at her mountain of boxes and bags and the three flights of stairs between her and her destination and absolutely forbade her to carry it all up by herself.
"Sweetie, it'll take you all day," she said, and Artemis couldn't really argue – it wasn't that she wasn't strong enough, just that she could only take so much at a time, and well, there was a lot. "Let my boys help you. They've got horrible hero complexes, anyway. I'm sure they'll get a kick out of it."
That proved half true. The woman – Iris – introduced Artemis to her husband and her nephew, the first of whom was indeed more than happy to grab some of the heavier bags and head right up the stairs with remarkable speed. On the other hand, the nephew, a lanky kid with his aunt's red hair but a few more freckles, looked a bit less thrilled.
"My roommate's in the middle of hacking the orientation video," he objected, but at a stern look from his aunt, he picked up one of Artemis's bags and hurried up the stairs without so much as a "where do you live?"
Fortunately, as it turned out, she lived in the room next to his, in an awkward windowless nook of the third-floor corridor of Mountain Hall. The redhead – Wally – hadn't been joking about his roommate, who was indeed sitting on his bed and reprogramming the official college webpage to play a certain Rick Astley music video instead of the standard Beatus Portum University orientation clip, and laughing uncontrollably as he did so. Rolling her eyes, Artemis continued past their room to dump her stuff in front of door B07, fished her room key out of her pocket, and let herself into her new home.
It was crowded. This had less to do with the size of the room and more to do with the fact that it was full of chattering, giggling, squealing red-haired girls, the youngest of whom looked about ten and the oldest of whom turned out to be Artemis's roommate, Megan.
"Sorry about my sisters!" she said brightly as she pushed her way to the entrance, and missed the hand Artemis had put out for a handshake, throwing her arms around her in an alarmingly enthusiastic hug instead. Awkward.
"Do you mind if I, um, start moving my stuff in?" Artemis asked as Megan released her, looking around at the room and wondering if she could actually fit anything in with this many people. Six sisters? Artemis could barely handle one. And Megan's were so…nice to each other. The whole situation felt alien.
"Of course not! We can help you," Megan offered. "I'm pretty much set up. I hope you don't mind, I took the bed next to the air conditioner. I'm not so good with the heat."
"Yeah, that's uh, that's fine," Artemis said, and before she could so much as blink, or say "don't open that bag, my vibrator's in there," Megan's sisters had flooded out into the hallway and her stuff was practically flying itself into the room.
Adjusting the height of the bed proved beyond their collective expertise, though; Artemis wanted to loft it high enough to create some storage space beneath, but the mechanism was irritatingly complicated and seemed to require a level of brute strength that she just didn't possess, plus it didn't help that Megan's younger sisters were just standing there watching her wrestle with it. Just as she was about to inadvertently teach the gathered impressionables a new word or two, a new face appeared in the doorway, a tall, solemn-faced boy with dark skin, light eyes and some seriously inked arms.
"I can do it, if you would like," he offered.
Artemis wiped a bead of sweat from her brow.
"If it's not too much trouble," she said, grimacing as she extracted her other hand from the pinching metal. Why the hell was this so difficult?
The newcomer moved into the room with a deferential nod to Megan and her sisters, who had returned to wallpapering her side of the room with posters from every TV show Artemis had ever heard of. As he crouched down to loosen some contraption Artemis hadn't even seen, he spoke again.
"My name is Kaldur'ahm," he said. "I believe we are neighbors. I live across the corridor."
"Gotcha," Artemis nodded, then bit her lip – what had he just said? "Um, could you say your name again?"
He chuckled, straightening out and pulling the bed up several inches.
"Just call me Kaldur. Is this an acceptable height?"
"Yeah, it's great, thanks," she replied, and he bent once more to secure it. "I'm Artemis, by the way."
He rose and extended a hand to her, which she shook, wishing she weren't quite so sweaty and gross at the moment. Just then, another boy appeared in the door, a heavy box under one arm, and she could practically feel Megan and all her sisters' attention shift, as if they had some kind of familial telepathy that had alerted them all to the presence of Serious Eye Candy. The new kid pretty much screamed football team, with those broad shoulders and that old-school handsome face; he looked like he'd walked right out of some cheesy 1940's superhero comic, complete with introductory chivalry:
"This your box?" he asked Artemis, hefting it up. "It was out on the lawn. Wally's mom said it was yours."
"Oh," Artemis said, recognizing it. "Shit. Yes. Augh, sorry Megan – "
Megan's sisters had looked startled at her curse.
"Megan, Artemis, this is Conner," said Kaldur, breaking the brief, awkward silence. "My roommate."
"Nice to meet you," Conner grunted, setting Artemis's box down in the entryway and looking around the room. "Uh. Later."
And he disappeared, though not without a brief pause as his eyes met Megan's and she blushed furiously. Okay, so the complete lack of social grace was maybe not so 1940's comics, but at least he looked the part.
Artemis spent the next few hours settling in – unpacking the things she'd managed to convince Megan's younger sisters to leave alone, putting up her only decorations (an Alice in Wonderland poster and a photo of her family, the scissor marks barely noticeable along the edge where her dad should have been), making her bed and finally, finally getting a shower. She was going to have to get used to communal bathrooms, since their two-shower, two-toilet operation was apparently going to be shared by all four rooms in their nook, which Wally and Dick (the hacking kid) had apparently dubbed The Cave. Who lived in the fourth, she still wasn't sure – the door had been shut since they'd showed up.
Shortly after her shower, an elderly gentleman with the classiest British accent Artemis had ever heard appeared in their hallway with – no joke – a silver platter of fresh-baked cookies and just-squeezed lemonade.
"Drink up, Master Richard," he told hacker boy, who had moved on to digitally inserting himself into all the orientation slideshow photos. "I don't want to have to explain to Master Bruce how you collapsed due to heat exhaustion. And consider using a better photo of yourself. If you plan to make a name for yourself on the first day, you may as well do it looking a little less scruffy."
Dick groaned and tried to push away the comb that the older gentleman had aimed for his hair, but no one missed the affectionate grin on his face as he took a cookie.
This was when Artemis realized that Dick-from-next-door was actually Dick Grayson, ward of the man for whom her scholarship was named. (Bruce Wayne was the "half" on Artemis's list of fourteen and a half move-in helpers – since he'd paid for her to be here in the first place, she had to count him somehow, though he was apparently off in trustee meetings or being mobbed by the orientation photographers for most of the day.)
In the late afternoon, she found herself sitting out in the hallway with Conner and Kaldur, who like her didn't have any family to be saying goodbye to; Kaldur had transferred from some college near Atlanta and had come by himself, apparently, and Conner just muttered something vague about not having a family that no one seemed willing to ask about. Deciding not to probe into that particular comment (it wasn't like she wanted to talk about her family life, either), Artemis made small talk with the two while their three hallmates bid varyingly tearful goodbye to their families.
"What do you plan to study?" Kaldur asked, interrupting the sound of Megan's many happily crying sisters.
"Not totally sure," said Artemis, hugging her knees to her chest. "Pre-law, definitely, but not sure if I'm going political science or psych just yet. We'll see what classes I get into. You?"
"I would like to continue my studies in Greek," Kaldur replied. "So, perhaps Classics."
They turned to Conner, who was watching Barry and Iris as they caught Wally up in a tight, tight hug. He started a little as he noticed Artemis' and Kaldur's expectant looks, then muttered something that may or may not have been "art." Artemis had to raise an eyebrow at that.
By the time the six of them were walking back from dinner in the cafeteria, Artemis was starting to get a feel for her new hallmates.
Megan was sweet, if a touch oblivious – Wally had been unashamedly hitting on her for the duration of dinner, and she hadn't even noticed, or else was too polite to call him out on it, though Dick and Artemis had done so freely. Artemis felt reasonably confident they would be good roommates, if she could remember to tone down her language and save the cynicism for special occasions. Frankly, it would be a nice change of pace to live with someone without any diagnosable neuroses.
Conner was…well, Conner. Artemis had seen her fair share of the brooding type, but this kid took it to a new level, a borderline hilarious level – his participation in their dinner conversation had been limited to grunts, shrugs and the occasional three-word phrase. Despite the enormous temptation, she refrained from teasing him, mostly because she could tell Megan was already smitten, and sweet and sour was a workable combination, if a bit trite.
Kaldur was the oldest of them, and it showed. She wasn't sure how a transfer sophomore had ended up rooming with a bunch of first-years, but to his credit, he seemed not to mind. He had a knack for steering the conversation clear of what seemed like inevitable disaster, much to Dick's disappointment.
Dick himself was hard to read. It was difficult to tell from one moment to the next if he was joking or serious, especially because he just always seemed to be grinning that same irritating grin no matter the situation, then there was the problem where he looked way too young to be in college, though Artemis had heard something about a computer science-Spanish-Chinese triple major, which was just, well, ridiculous. Finally, he seemed to have an endless supply of random talents – not only could he hack a website or a database with just his phone, he could keep a hacky sack in the air like nobody's business, execute random triple cartwheels, and solve a Rubik's Cube in under thirty seconds. He'd also worked some magic on her ancient laptop and gotten her hooked up to the school network in a matter of minutes. She was going to have to get to know this kid better.
Wally was going to be a challenge. She had no idea why, but he seemed to have a chip in his shoulder just for her, and it was only the first day. Maybe it was that she'd so bluntly pointed out his cheeseball lines in front of Megan, or maybe he just didn't like her face, but whatever it was, she wasn't about to go out of her way to make him like her. If he wanted a little ice on the hall, she was more than ready to deliver. Screw the haters and all that – Artemis didn't have time for middle school grudges.
The six of them spent the evening talking basic stuff – hometowns, hobbies, all the normal stuff college freshmen use to skate through those first awkward social interactions, then gathered for the last item of the day, a mandatory hall meeting. Apparently Dick's presence on their hall meant that the six of them had an RA to themselves, which in Artemis's eyes was a pretty raw deal – she hoped their super-specially-designated RA would at least be chill, or it was going to be a long year without any parties, loud music or booze…
Their RA was not chill.
"All right, freshmeat," he practically growled as he stared down at them, arms crossed over his chest, face frozen in what looked like a permanent scowl. "Here's the deal. I'm a senior. Do you know what that means? It means thesis. It means I'm a very busy guy and I'm not putting up with any shenanigans from a few snot-nosed first-years, so listen up. There are a few ground rules this side of Mountain Hall.
"If I can hear your music from my room, it's too loud. If anyone can hear your music during quiet hours, it's too loud, and I'll slap you a noise violation faster than you can say 'but everyone loves Nickelback, Roy.'"
"Don't have sex in the communal bathroom, or I will tape your gross little noises and broadcast the remix on campus radio," the RA – Roy – continued. "Resolve your roommate disputes yourself. There isn't extra housing, so learn to live with each other or get an apartment, just don't come whining to me about who set whose bed on fire. I don't care. That's gonna be our theme for the year, all right? I don't care."
The six of them nodded obediently; Artemis and Dick were clearly trying not to laugh, while Megan looked increasingly mortified.
"Let's see, what am I forgetting?" Roy asked, tapping his fingers against his (rather sizeable) bicep. "If you're gonna vomit, do it in the bathroom and clean it up yourself. That shit's biohazard. Use a condom – I don't want any more kids on this hall, Boy Wonder here is plenty – and don't lock yourself out. Every time I have to unlock your door for you, I will take a compromising picture of you, either with a bong, a dead hooker or a Twilight DVD, and mail it to your parents. Is that clear?"
"I don't have parents," said Conner.
"My parents wouldn't care," Artemis added.
"My parents wouldn't be surprised," muttered Wally.
"My parents cannot receive mail," Kaldur frowned.
"My parents would never believe I'd do any of those things," M'gann pointed out.
"My dad is Bruce Wayne."
Everyone looked over at Dick, who just raised an eyebrow, and the rest of them shrugged – the kid had a point.
Their RA, meanwhile, looked like he was about to blow his top. But instead of yelling at them, which he looked like he was about to do, after a moment of fuming he just grabbed his baseball cap and threw it to the floor with a loud curse. Without another word, he turned and stormed back into his room, the door slamming behind him and rattling on its hinges.
"Meeting adjourned?" Dick grinned, and everyone had to laugh.
(Roy's hat turned up the next morning at the top of the oak outside Wally and Dick's window, like a sporty star on an out-of-season Christmas tree. No one claimed responsibility, because no one needed to ask. It would stay there all year.)
Come one o'clock, even Wally wasn't bothering to hide his yawns anymore, and Kaldur (whom Artemis could already tell was going to be the Responsible One in their developing gang) suggested it might be time to go to bed, considering they had registration in the morning.
They crowded into the bathroom to brush their teeth, trying to ignore the irritating sound of Dick's toothbrush as it cycled through two minutes' worth of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song, then one by one, everyone said their goodnights drifted off to their own rooms.
As she pulled the sheets up over herself (not the blankets – it was too hot for that), Artemis rolled over onto her side and reached out to hit the light with a glance over at her new roommate.
"Good night," she said quietly, unsure if Megan was even still awake; the other girl already looked so peaceful. But at the sound of Artemis's voice, she opened her eyes and smiled sleepily, pulling her stuffed animal closer (what had Wally called it? a Tribble?).
"Good night," said Megan with a yawn. "See you in the morning."
Artemis turned out the lights and settled down into bed, discreetly pulling her stuffed cat out of its hiding space beneath the covers (no one needed to know about Cheshire).
As she drifted off to sleep, she searched idly for a word to sum up these people, who already felt like something of a family, including the annoying siblings you couldn't stand, and the ones you knew you'd never really understand. Where did she start – eccentric? annoying? eclectic? awesome?
But in the end, no one word did them justice.