They had been a team for years, and then she disappeared. She gave no reason, no information on where she was going. Twelve years later, they had all grown up. They had moved on. Never in their lives did they expect a red-headed eleven-year-old to bring them back together…
A brush moved through a head of fire-red hair, pulling it back into a pony-tail. Cut bangs hung over the youth's forehead; she brushed them to the side and looked at herself in the mirror. Red hair was a curse on its own, let alone blended in with a face of freckles. She rubbed a tired green eye, yawning and walking out of the bathroom.
"Mom," She called out, "I'm going to school."
Artemis stood in the kitchen, zipping a lunchbox up and slipping it into a red backpack. She handed it to the young girl with a small smirk, cupping a hand on her cheek.
"Junior high school…" She said quietly. "It feels like you were just born yesterday."
She kissed her forehead, patting her on the back before walking with her to the front door.
"I can walk to the bus stop by myself you know… In fact, I could get to school by myself without the bus if you'd let me-"
"Rufina!" Artemis yelled with a glair. "I've told you hundreds of times-"
"I know." The red-head said with a slight giggle. She waved her wrists in the air mockingly, "No using my powers, it's dangerous. Yet, I'm allowed to practice archery whenever I want."
"I'm not arguing with you, Ruf." She said pinching her temples. "Just… go to school."
Rufina rolled her eyes, giving her mother a little smile and wink before walking out the door. Artemis shook her head with a grin.
"You're just like your father…" She said. Her head turned to the mantle of the fireplace, eyes skimming the family photos. When she had discovered that she was pregnant, she had left the team. She had to… she had only been nineteen years old at the time. Batman was the only one who she had told, if only because she knew that he would find out eventually. He was Batman after all.
She sighed at the memories of the team. Walking in on M'gann and Connor making out in the kitchen, Dick and Wally battling with action figures of themselves… Kaldur cleaning up after everyone…
Then the pregnancy.
She never told him about it. She couldn't… They had never been dating when they were making love. They had never discussed what they were doing, never talked about it afterwards. It had been happening for several months before she got pregnant.
A young Artemis walked into the room where Batman stood, her expression even more serious than his own.
"Bats, we need to talk." She said. "I'm resigning the team."
Batman turned to her, his expression not moving a muscle.
"What are your reasons?" He asked emotionlessly.
She thought about lying to him. Telling him that she had to take care of her mother… But she knew better than that. She wouldn't be surprised if he already knew about her predicament.
"I'm pregnant." She let out, shame making itself known on her face.
"Do you plan on telling Wally?" Still no emotion.
She blushed. Not that she was surprised that he knew about them.
"No." She said.
There was a moment of silence. Not even a cricket could have been heard chirping.
She packed her things that night, saying good bye to no one other than Wolf and Sphere. If the team knew that she was leaving, they would question her. She had to just disappear.
Several months later, she gave birth. She had learned in school that ginger was a dominate gene, but she wasn't expecting that mass of orange hair and freckles to be placed in her arms.
Rufina, a Greek name meaning 'red-haired' seemed appropriate… even though with age she eventually became Rory.
Rory was her father's daughter… even if he didn't know that she existed. Artemis's grocery bill had shot through the roof over the past few years, ever since Rory had begun developing her powers. She was hyperactive and a smart mouth, but she had every ability to be serious when she needed to. She had even begun inheriting his commentary.
There were days where Artemis wondered if she should finally tell him about her. He would probably be angry. It would look like all she wanted was child support, which she was doing perfectly fine without. Her mother tried to help out when she could, and Jade was currently caring for a baby of her own. They were all doing about as alright as they could be. Not good, but alright.
And every so often she would find that her bills were being paid by someone else. Not every month, just enough for her to know that someone was looking out for her…
She would smile and roll her eyes. Then, mentally, she would give a little thank you.
A/N: I apologize that this chapter is short, but I wanted it to be an introduction along with a part of the actual story. No worries! Rory will for sure have a bigger part in the next chapter. Any suggestions will be appreciated and considered!