A/N: Almost a two month wait! I'm the worst, I'm so sorry! Thank you all for your reviews! I'm so glad you enjoyed the last chapter! Most reviews I think I've had since my Failsafe chapter! A couple of you compared last chapter to my favorite spitfire story in the world Wonderland by YJ Spitfire Collabs, which if you haven't read you should go do so now because it's wayyyyyy better and written by my favorites. I had hoped at the time of posting that it wasn't too similar, and I think I did a relatively good job at keeping it my own.
I hope you all enjoy this chapter, as it's a bit of a missing moment that we all wish we could have seen! A more in-depth look at Wally and Artemis' reconciliation post Artemis' big revelation. Enjoy!
Set during The Usual Suspects.
The EVOLUTION of SOUL MATES
Evolution: the gradual development of something, esp. from a simple to a more complex form.
Chapter 17: Anomaly
She feels like she can breath again; like all along she'd been drowning in her secrets and someone had finally handed her a breather. Maybe the breather had been there with her reach the whole time, and she had only now found the strength to grab it. She had told her teammates, her friends, the secret about her family, the one that kept her up at night, and she never could have prepared herself for their reactions: Robin's sincere words; Kaldur's trusting nod; Wally reassuring hand on her shoulder. No one had said a word against her, called her out as a traitor, or shunned her. It was more than Artemis had ever dared to dream of, and she's sure none of them realize how much their acceptance means to her.
Because it means everything.
Together, the eight of them had come up with a plan to stop her dear father, Luthor, and Queen Bee in whatever scheme they'd summoned her, Conner, and M'gann for. All she has to do is fool Jade and Sportsmaster into thinking that she's betrayed the Team, and they will lead her to their allies on Santa Prisca. The Team will follow, provide back-up when the truth comes out, and hopefully, they can successfully put the three villains behind bars where they belong. It's simple really. All she needs to do is keep a cool head and a tough poker face. Both M'gann and Conner have left to prepare for their own charades, and Artemis is due to meet Jade in Gotham at Sportsmasters hideout in less than twenty minutes, so she's wasted no time in getting herself to the zeta tubes, ready for her act to begin.
"Hey, Artemis, wait up!"
She feels a sharp blast of air and hears Wally's words almost at the exact same moment. When she turns around, he is standing right in front of her, swaying from his sudden deceleration. The sight of him makes her heart beat faster, and she experiences a brief moment of doubt. Has he come to take back his earlier acceptance of her? Is he there to stop her from going because he doesn't trust her? As soon as the thoughts arise, however, they are driven away by the memory of his comforting, supportive arm on her shoulder. He is with her. He's on her side.
Wally opens his mouth to say something, but closes it just as quickly. He shakes his head to himself, and a small amused smile makes it way onto his face. "Pretty crazy day so far, huh?" he comments, and it's clear that that's not what he'd originally been meaning to say.
She decides to indulge him for now. "It's about to get a lot crazier," she reminds him.
"True," the young speedster concedes. He pins her with a surprisingly concerned stare. "You ready for it?"
As ready as I'll ever be, she thinks to herself. Truth is, she's never been a good liar, and it's Jade and her father here, but she needs to do this now: for herself and for the Team. "They need to be stopped," is all she says.
Wally nods, looking down at the floor. There's a beat of silence between them before he speaks again, scuffing one of his boots on the floor. "What you did back there," he says, eyes peering back up at her. "That took a lot of guts."
"It wasn't right to keep you guys in the dark about it," she tells him with a slight shrug of her shoulders. "I'm relieved the secret's out actually. I don't have to lie to anyone anymore."
She looks him right in the eye when she says this, and she knows they're both thinking of the New Orleans mission. Of the words they'd exchanged before, during, and after; then, of the lack of words said between them this past month. It had hurt. She'd become so used to his company, his good opinion of her, that the icy cold shoulder she'd had to endure had made her feel about two feet tall. His harsh voice echoed in head, while the disappointed look on his face remained etched in her mind. It had hurt. It had hurt a lot.
She needs to have a clear head before this mission, and she doesn't know if she can trust herself to keep it together with Wally right now. "I better get going," she says, starting to turn away.
His hand quickly reaches out to clasp her wrist, stopping her. His green eyes look bright and hopeful, with an apologetic edge, and she thinks she might know what he's going to say before he says it. She shoots him a questioning look, and the hand on her wrist rises to bury itself in his hair.
"Before you go," Wally stutters out quickly, eyes darting from place to place nervously. "I-I just wanted to say that, well, I'm sorry."
Artemis decides to take pity on him. "Wally, it's fine—"
He cuts her off. "No, it's not," he says firmly, his eyes finally looking on to hers. He's serious now, and he's edged closer so that she can see every freckle on his face. "I've been...a Class A jerk to you from the start, especially this past month, and that's not fair. You haven't deserved any of it, and for that, I'm really, really sorry."
His eyes plead with her to forgive him, and she really can't stand up against their power. "I forgive you," she tells him, offering him a small smile. "I know I'm not the easiest person to get along with, so I'm sorry for giving you a hard time." She takes a deep breath. "And I'm sorry for not telling you all the truth about my family. I was...scared. I just didn't think you would have been able to accept me as a part of the Team with my less than desirable connections."
"I probably wouldn't have if I had known in the beginning," Wally admits quietly, and his tone suggests he's embarrassed by his words. "I would have thought myself completely justified in judging you based on something you have no control over. And I would have been so wrong," he tells her. She's never seen this side of Wally before; this serious, self-deprecating side so different from the goofy wiseacre she's used to. His words are coming out completely sincere and unfiltered, and she thinks she likes this side of him just as much, if not more, than the other.
"You're amazing, Artemis," Wally says suddenly, and he's rushing like if he doesn't get these words out, he'll burst. "A-a-and you totally threw me off from the get-go. Literally. Here you were, this little spit—spritely, know-it-all archer girl, coming in like you were ready to take every villain head on. And I was so...intimidated by you. But you're amazing. You-you're an anomaly, Artemis."
She can feel her face becoming flushed at his words. They're not particularly eloquent or deep, but Artemis knows he's speaking to her straight from the heart, and really that's all that matters. Hearing his first impression of her, she remembers how nervous she'd been that first day coming into the Cave when all she'd wanted was to be accepted by him. Funny that they had been equally intimidated by each other. "Scientists don't usually like anomalies," is all she can think to say since her mind is reeling.
Wally only smiles that bright grin of his, and something in Artemis' stomach does a funny little back flip. "Well, I like this one," he says, laying a hand on her shoulder.
His touch makes her hyper aware of how close he is and of the sound of her rapidly beating heart. She hopes he can't hear it, too. "Yeah?" she asks, cursing the way it comes out all breathy and needy.
Wally gives her shoulder a little squeeze and Artemis may or may not have forgotten how to breathe as she looks into his eyes. They're clear and focused with just a little hint of the fear she feels is reflecting back at him in her eyes. This is it. This is the moment she's been waiting for since Bialya; since that night on Halloween; since their playful jaunt in the snow; since he'd woken up from Zatanna's spell remembering the kiss she'd planted on his lips when he'd been asleep. Their faces are only inches apart. All they have to do is just close the tiny distance and press their lips to one another's in what she knows will be the sweetest, most perfect kiss of her life.
This is the moment, and yet, it's not. There's a job that needs doing, and they don't have time right now to be Wally and Artemis. They have to put this aside and get their heads in the game because everything counts on it. She knows this, but it still pains her to break out of this moment. It has to be done, though.
"You have to go," he says, with an edge of frustration to his voice. "I know."
Artemis holds his gaze for a long second before keying her destination into the zeta controls. She takes a deep breath. "See you on the other side, then?"
"You know it," Wally says. "I've got your back."
"Oh, yeah?" Artemis asks, heading into the zeta tube as it fires up. She turns to get one last glance at him.
"Always," is the last thing she hears before the zeta tube teleports her to that old telephone booth in Gotham. The dirt and grime around her have to effect for once. The word reverberates in her ears. Always. Artemis has never had anything permanent in her life, and she's never expected it, but she's beginning to think maybe it wouldn't be so bad.
A/N: YES, I included a cliche, "Always" moment. Every good couple needs one! Anyway, I hope you'll enjoy and review!
Shameless plugs: I hope everyone saw my Spitfire proposal entitled This I Promise You. If not, link's on my profile page! Also, I wrote a really smutty (too smutty for , smutty) Wally and Artemis fic called Study Break which you can find on AO3 under my username melissa13.
Anyway, next chapter will be...THE BIG KISS! I think. Who knows at this point.
Thanks for sticking with me guys!