Down In Flames
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. R/R if you like Artemis and Wally's screwed up relationship.
Everything is gray, the cold and unfeeling stone offering only judgment as he makes his way through the building. He keeps himself moving at normal speed since he's in public. More importantly though, Wally West feels like he needs to slow down. Ever since what happened with his uncle and changing his yellow tights for red ones, he feels overwhelmed. Having her come back into his life doesn't help.
"We wouldn't do this for anyone," notes the warden of Iron Heights as he ushers Wally into the interrogation room. "You're a local hero though so we can let it slide once. The cameras will be off as you requested. Just make sure you hold up your end."
"She won't make any trouble," promises Wally.
The warden closes the door as the new Flash sits at the table. A door from the other side of the room opens and she steps in, her hands and feet in chains and a guard following her every move. She sits calmly at the table, the leg chains clattering against the floor as she shuffles in her seat. Her dirty mop of blond hair hangs in her face and prevents Wally from making eye contact with her. He has to admit that her new costume is louder than the one she used to wear when they were teammates. The orange and blue stands out more than the green. Iron Heights keeps its prisoners in their costumes and he's been told it's to allow for easy identification of the inmates. Wally seriously doubts he could ever not be able to pick her out of a crowd though.
"Hands behind you, Crock," orders the guard even as he uncuffs one of her hands and pulls both of them around the back of the chair, clicking the cuffs back into place. "Funny thing, my old man used to be a guard at Belle Reve. He said your dad was one mean son of a bitch."
"Your father was an honest man then," notes Artemis Crock. "I guess it really is a small world after all."
The guard says nothing, merely nodding to Wally and then leaving the room to resume his post right outside the door. Artemis, or rather Tigress as she's taken to calling herself, shakes her head and her hair finally gets out of her face. When Wally looks in her eyes, he sees nothing but pain. She was always an angry girl with a chip on her shoulder but he never thought it could ever come to this.
"I came here because I wanted to know something," states Wally. "Why here, Artemis? Why come to my city?"
"Oh I didn't get the memo about us not using codenames with each other," says Artemis snidely. "Fine then. So, Wally, how are you and the rest of the old gang these days?"
She hates him more than she hates the others. She could have handled their distrust of her. She could have handled all the rest of them doubting her commitment and her abilities. Yet when Wally told her he didn't trust her, that was the last straw. She hates him for that, for somehow making her care so much about him and throwing it in her face.
"You didn't answer my question," reminds Wally, neglecting to answer hers in the process.
"I just thought I'd drop in to say hi," she answers. "I decided to meet some of the local celebrities in here while I wait for my transfer to Belle Reve. The blond kid with the bad haircut and the tacky outfit is kinda cute."
"Trickster's a bad kid," warns Wally, knowing which of his Rogues she's referring to and that Walker is quite possibly the worst of the lot because of his immaturity.
"And since when did you give a damn about that?" she inquires and her every word drips with the bitterness of a woman scorned. "I thought you were different than they were, Wally, but I guess I was wrong. You just ended up judging me like all the others."
"You couldn't let us help you," he reminds her. "You didn't trust us enough to tell us the truth about your past. You didn't trust me, Artemis, even when I stuck up for you."
She shakes her head, trying to block out the truths that she hears as lies. She never wanted to be this way. She told herself she wouldn't be like her father and her sister. Yet here she is now sitting in chains while he stares at her under the scarlet mask of the Flash. How did they get here? Maybe it was just a series of horrible mistakes or perhaps it was destiny. She couldn't tell anymore.
"We are what we are, Wally," she says and the finality of it weighs heavy on both of them.
"So how come you haven't told anyone our secrets?" asks Wally, hoping maybe that there's something left of the strong, determined girl he once knew trapped inside the twisted shell he sees before him.
"For starters, that's not playing fair," she answers. "My dad always told me before you play a game, you figure out all the rules. I'm my father's daughter, right?"
"And secondly?" he inquires, deeming not to answer her question because he's no longer sure about what the right answer is.
"I wanna hunt you down myself," says Artemis, glaring at him with eyes that burn a hole through his costume and pierce his heart. "I'm going to do it, Wally, and it won't matter how fast you run. I'll find you and I'll hurt you."
"Not if I hurt you first," warns Wally, getting up from the table and turning to leave. "Stay out of Keystone, Artemis, and the same goes for Central City. Go to Gotham or Star City or Asia with your sister. Just don't come back here because next time you do, we're not even going to have a conversation."
He looks at her with so much pain in his heart. He never should've doubted her. Yet in some weird way, they were right about her all along both in the good ways and the bad ones. How could she have turned against her friends? He wonders why he ever trusted her at all. Maybe he just wanted to believe in someone. Maybe he still wants that even now with his friends growing up and drifting apart.
"Wally," says Artemis and it's so faint he can barely hear it. "Wait."
He's done waiting. Barry is dead and he's running to catch up with the legacy his uncle left behind. He doesn't have time for what will only slow him down. She's dead weight and she knows it but she still needs him. She's always needed him but things have become so unlike what they should've been.
"I can't wait around anymore, Artemis," he tells her and then he's gone in a flash.
"Well fine then!" she snaps furiously and struggles against the cuffs that keep her in her seat. "I don't need you! I don't need any of you anymore!"
She screams at the world just like always but she's left with nothing more than her own insecurities and anger. Her rage dissipates into nothing more than hollow bitterness and she lets the guard uncuff her from the chair and lead her back to her cell. This game is just going to continue until one of them dies. Artemis can't really tell whether or not she wants to be the first to go down in flames but somehow she knows she already is.