ovp A/N: This is so exciting! JustJanelle and I got together about a week ago and started writing this. I can not thank her enough for her constant support and amazing suggestions which led to the creation of this piece. We've both been diligently working on this story The Nose Knows and look forward to receiving your reviews and comments with bated breath. For me personally this is my first collab and I really look forward to working with JustJanelle in the future. So thank you in advance for reading this story and taking the time to review. I hope you like it as much we both enjoyed writing it. (Try to guess who wrote what.)
JustJanelle A/N: Hehehe, ovp's just being modest. She is such an amazing writer with such original ideas and I can't wait to do another collab with her, hopefully, sometime soon! This will be a two-shot so keep a lookout for part two sometime this week. Be sure to tell us what you think, this is my first collab as well so I'd looove some feedback.
Disclaimer: I don't know about ovp but I certainly don't own Young Justice. Okay, I don't think ovp does either but it was worth a shot!
The Nose Knows
Written by: ovp and justjanelle
Wally West is fairly certain that girls should not be able to smell so good. They are only human and being only human they are prone to secreting sweat just as much as any other being in the universe; especially a girl whose part-time job involves running around as a masked vigilante most nights and days and weekends.
So Wally cannot fathom how Artemis Crock seems to have this sultry fragrance clinging to her skin. No matter how much she perspires or how long she's gone without a shower or how much mud has dried to her clothes and caked itself under her nails she always smells of fresh air. It's as if she's spent all day hiking and the subtle aromas of pine needles and fresh cut grass and tree sap have decided to embed themselves deep within her sweat glands so that even when she perspires the smell is nothing but alluring. And that, for Wally, is what totally sucks.
But it's not like it's Artemis herself that's alluring - no, Wally has convinced himself of this much. Her scent is like a pheromone, the kind that predators use when trying to lure their prey, and Wally will be damned if he lets himself become a casualty of her fatal deception. So he won't give her the satisfaction of asking her what shampoo she uses. Nope. He decides that he'll find it himself and devise an antidote to save the team from her wily, deceptive scent. No one is dying on his watch, least of all him.
Which is how Wally West ends up pacing the shampoo aisle of a local grocery store at almost ten o'clock at night with a bottle of Mountain Fresh Conditioner in one hand and Rugged Pine Needle in the other. The things Artemis Crock, the siren, makes him do sometimes, even unintentionally, can be considered diabolical.
But as he casually flicks open the top of Mountain Fresh and discreetly sniffs the contents of the bottle, trying not to look like a total creep in the woman's shampoo section, he is flummoxed by the plain fact that once again it is not her scent that assaults his nostrils. He frowns. How many possible products were scented pine forest?
"Maybe she just sprays herself with Febreze in the morning," he muses to himself, laughing at the image of Artemis holding the nozzle at arm's length and pushing down on the lever.
It is then that a rather startling thought occurs to him as he places the conditioner back on the shelf, quest unfulfilled. They live in different time zones. Heck, different parts of the country and he's run around America enough times to know that there is no such thing as uniformity. He can buy a fantastic burger in one state and go the same franchise in another and consider throwing the same product straight in the trash. So whatever she's using be it body wash, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and possibly air freshener the substance in question may not even be sold in this state. Which is probably why he has no immunity to its dangerous proprieties. He is on the tip of an epidemic! So that cinches it, a road trip to Gotham City is definitely in order so he can find the source of his torment and neutralize it before it affects the populace on a national scale.
But before that adventure can begin he feels the familiar vibration in his pocket signaling that his mother is about to rain on his parade.
"Wallace Rudolph West where are you!" she practically shouts. In desperation he hastily looks around the empty aisle. Why did he not think of a back up story? This is all Artemis's fault because all he's surrounded by is shampoo and conditioner and he can't think of a proper excuse and why do girls need this many hair products anyway? So he blurts out exactly what he's thinking instead of carefully considering the repercussions.
"The shampoo aisle."
There's a pause on the other end of the line as his mother clearly tries to assess his sanity and perhaps reminds herself that her son is not insane.
"At?" she asks tersely.
"Isn't that on the other side of town?"
"I was looking for a very particular product."
"In the shampoo aisle?"
He's pretty sure his mother's shaking her head and rolling her eyes, a classic look of skepticism splayed on her face.
"Yes." He squeaks.
"Do I want to know?" comes the exasperated reply.
"It's for the good of humanity," he says, and there's a snort on the other end of the line.
"Just pick up some laundry detergent and come home now."
Wally shrugs jamming the phone back in his pocket. He saunters a few aisles over and his eyes widen. Now this opens a whole new arena of possibilities. Wally had yet to consider this about his Artemis conundrum: laundry detergent, fabric softener and dryer sheets crowd the shelves. It's an endless row of scented possibilities. Maybe her fatally attractive bouquet has nothing to do with her at all, maybe its in her clothes. Wally ambles down the aisle idly reading labels and trying to pinpoint something that may smell close to Montana pine forests or fresh cut, dew covered grass but neither scent seems to exist on the shelf.
"Can I help you sir?"
Wally spins to see a girl standing beside him. She's dressed in the starched white uniform that the staff at the grocery store are all required to wear and she appears particularly uncomfortable, pulling at the sleeves of her shirt as if it is a straight-jacket and not a polo. Her eyes shift from him to the ground nervously.
"Sure can, sweet cheeks," Wally says, plucking a bottle of Mountain Spring fabric softener off the shelf and shoving it under her nose, "tell me: does this smell like fresh air to you?"
"Uhhh- what?" she says, sniffing the bottle hesitantly, "I guess?"
Wally appears momentarily gleeful as he brings the bottle to his nose and takes a whiff of the stuff. His face falls instantly.
"Dammit," he says, placing the bottle back on the shelf, "not quite, that's too fresh. I'm looking for something a bit more...subtle."
"Sir?" the girl queries meekly, looking anywhere but at him.
"Yeah?" Wally says, scrutinizing the contents label of a case of detergent, "What is it babe?"
"We're closing - um, yeah. You have to leave."
"You're what?" Wally says, looking up at her with dazed eyes.
"Closing," she emphasizes, holding her iphone up to his face, "Actually we're closed. It's 10:05. We close at ten."
"Oh," Wally says, glancing at the bottles upon bottles of cleaning products. His mind feels fuzzy for some reason and he can't determine why he feels vaguely disappointed.
"Sorry," the girl says, stepping to the side as he skirts past her. He lumbers down the aisle and toward the doors without so much as a backwards glance. There's an awkward silence which the girl fills by calling, "We open at 6! Please come again."
Wally feels confused as he meanders outside and into the store parking lot. He runs back to his house and normally this would take him only a minute – or two tops, depending on the traffic – but he is halfway home when he realizes what he's done and as he does he stops running and stands stock still in the middle of an - thankfully empty - intersection, struck dumb by his revelation.
The girl in the detergent aisle had been a total babe. Okay, he thinks, was she a babe? He actually can't remember much about her. She had seemed pretty and cute and totally his type but he'd left her standing there without so much as a 'goodbye' let alone his number because she clearly had had the hots for the Wall-man.
It's Artemis, he surmises as he continues his lazy 200 mph jaunt, her scent is messing with his mind and he is far enough gone that he can't even flirt properly anymore. This is serious.
He swings open the front door of his house with every intention of burying thoughts of archers and blonde hair and fresh cut grass under his comforter with the promise of sleep.
In the living room his mother is sitting with her feet propped on the ottoman. She looks up from her magazine, appraises him and frowns.
"Where's my laundry detergent?" she asks, placing Parent's Weekly on her lap.
"Gah!" Wally says, dropping his head into his hands.
Artemis Crock is going to be the death of him, if his mother doesn't get to him first.
It's a few days later when Wally finally decides to put his plan into action. The road trip to Gotham to scope the area for the elusive scent had been a bust because Batman had the team running missions every other night that week and what little time Wally had to himself was spent either rushing through his homework or sleeping. So he hatches an even greater scheme. One that will save him time and money if he succeeds.
He is going to steal Artemis' shampoo.
Now, one might see this endeavour as less than commendable, perhaps even bordering on insane, however, Wally has an entire team to save from the toxic fumes that Artemis is emitting into the cave's air supply. So he's been watching her, for purely observational purposes of course, in order to memorize when she arrives in the cave after school, when she goes to training, when she showers (remember purely observational), and when she is in her room. It's only after a few days of watching her behavior closely that he feels comfortable enough to enter her room at four o'clock on a Thursday afternoon in order to commence operation Steal The Siren's Scent.
He's memorized her schedule so well at this point that he knows she will drop by the cave around 3:15, change out of her school uniform and head to the training room for a workout that will last an average of an hour and thirty three minutes. Longer if Superboy is there without a shirt on and sparring with someone, but he's not at all bothered by this fact. Not one bit.
So once he is sure Artemis is preoccupied sparring with the Boy Wonder he slips inside of her bedroom, closing the door behind himself carefully. The lights are on and the room is sparsely decorated. Wally has never been inside it before, but he knows that Artemis never sleeps here. She always goes back home at the end of the night insisting that she'd rather sleep in her own bed. So naturally the only things in the room are her backpack, a selection of extra clothes and a whole arsenal of arrows, spread across the floor beside her desk. Unnaturally, and to Wally's infinite dismay, even though Artemis hardly spends any time in here it still smells like her.
If he closes his eyes Wally just knows he'll be envisioning a pine forest, tall trees sprouting in every direction, a layer of dried leaves from seasons past crumpled at his feet and tree sap bubbling from the cracks in tree bark. He can even make out the quiet tapping of a woodpecker hammering away but that could just be M'gann trying to learn how to use the Kitchen Aid mixer.
He shakes his head infinitesimally, the scent is cloaking his vision, making him feel light-headed and almost - dare he say - happy. But he can not let this deter him from his goal. He is on a mission. One that must - will be fulfilled because heaven help him if he can't devise a cure.
"Dear god," Wally mutters, stumbling toward the bathroom door on the other side of Artemis' bed, "Whatever is in this stuff is even more lethal than I previously imagined."
He manages to open the door and flick the light on before the scent overwhelms him. Whatever doubts he'd had that what he was smelling was her shampoo and not some kind of detergent or meta-toxin are eliminated the moment he steps through the threshold and enters her pristine bathroom.
The entire place reeks of her. No matter which way he turns his head he can't escape the scent. He dashes forward, clamping a hand over his nose in an attempt to block the deadly aroma from his senses. In her shower - and Wally has to resist enticing the thought that this is the place Artemis showersbecause, hey, he's just a teenage guy after all - he pulls the curtain back, revealing two clear label-less bottles filled with a foamy purple liquid.
So close, he thinks, reaching for the bottle, I'm so close.
His fingers wrap themselves around the brim of the shampoo and he brings it up to his
face, sniffing tentatively at the cap. This is it. It's the scent. He's found it. Einstein would be so proud.
He has to restrain himself from giving a 'whoop' of joy. He can't believe he's actually gotten away with-
"What are you doing in here?"
Wally freezes, the bottle falls from his hands and cracks against the tiles, purple liquid spills across the floor and the fragrance of fresh forest air wafts up to his nostrils.
"Are you deaf?" demands the voice.
Wally turns to see Artemis standing behind him. She is in the doorway with her hands on her hips, sweat slipping down her taught muscles as she glares at him. Her hair is down.
Wally has to give himself a moment to take in her appearance because he's actually never seen it down and it's sweaty at the moment, clinging to her forehead and her arms and her back and just about every inch of her body but it's down and if Wally wasn't so terrified maybe he could appreciate it more. Maybe he would realize that a sweaty, angry Artemis is glistening under the harsh fluorescent lights in the bathroom and that her hair is shining and silky and pretty - yeah real pretty.
"Goddammit Wally!" Artemis shouts, noticing the puddle of purple shampoo spreading across the tiles, "Why are you even in here? Get me a towel why don't you? Make yourself useful."
Wally gulps speeding across the room in an attempt to grab a towel before Artemis throttles him, but what he fails to realize is that the purple substance - which he is silently mourning the loss of because now he has to steal a whole new bottle of her shampoo - has lubricated the floor and the combination of minimal traction and speed sends him careening into a shocked, sweaty and enraged girl.
When he finally manages to regain his breath and extract a wad of her hair from between his lips he realizes with startling clarity that he and Artemis are sprawled on the floor of her room and his body is pressing horribly close to hers in a way that is not at all comfortable.
Artemis is staring up at him, her eyes narrowed dangerously and her breathing heavy. Wally realizes with a jolt that he is completely engrossed in her dark grey irises and having her pressed so close against him is not helping matters at all.
"Get off," she grunts. A strangled sort of gurgle is all he can produce because his mind has stopped functioning entirely. "Kid Moron, move!" She pushes at him but he still doesn't budge.
"I, uh, your shampoo," he manages lamely as if all sins will be forgiven with that simple admission.
"My what?" she squawks shoving at him harder.
"Your shampoo," he flummoxes, "The smell."
If possible her glare intensifies and she thrashes more violently beneath him.
"Baywatch, I swear, if you did or are planning to do anything to my hair products you and I are going to have words and yours will be screams!"
"Hey, I'm not the one who smells fricking fantastic all the time!" he sputters. His mind is completely immobilized and his senses are overwhelmed. The scent of her and the proximity of their bodies - it's more than he should be expected to take, "I mean, jeez, what's that purple stuff made of anyway? And what kind of nefarious plot are you planning with your alluring aroma? I bet it's take-over-the-world level evil!"
She throws him an exasperated look shaking her head in disbelief, "Have you completely lost your mind? You snuck into my room to smell my shampoo? You are a whole other brand of freak, you know that? The kind we usually send to prison!"
He doesn't realize he's bearing down on her until he is pressing his body even closer to hers. He's staring into her eyes and he's fairly sure that her lips are still moving, but that hardly matters because his own eyes are slipping sh-
What is he doing? His eyes dilate and he flies off Artemis falling backwards and straight into the purple pool of shampoo. Artemis slowly props herself up on her elbows looking at him carefully. Her muscles are clenched as if ready to spring into action if he pulls something else.
This is the part where he is supposed to say something - at least he's pretty sure he's supposed to say something - because she appears to be requiring an explanation before she deigns whether it's appropriate to kick his ass.
"Well..." he trails off licking his lips. He can feel an uncomfortable wetness seeping through the seat of his pants and he fidgets, praying that the shampoo doesn't stain his favorite pair of jeans purple of all the bloody colors. She quirks an eyebrow and he knows that now would be the appropriate time to respond, "I'm trying to save the world."
Her deadpan expression is enough to know he's said the wrong thing.
"In my bathroom," she states, barely containing the sarcasm in her tone, "It must be a relief to know that all of the world's problems can be solved by sneaking into my bathroom."
"You're the problem," he snaps tersely and once again it is the entirely wrong thing to say if the fact that she kicks him is any indication.
"Perfect," she stands, quickly barely casting him a cursory glance as she marches to retrieve a towel in order to clean up his mess. "Clean yourself up and get out!"
"Hey! I have a legitimate reason! I need a sample!"
"Wally I am about five seconds away from maiming you. Sample? Sample of what Kid Idiot!" she shouts. He still hasn't moved from the floor but he knows her anger is escalating quickly and he needs to think of a way to escape this situation alive. But he also needs her shampoo for the good of science, the fate of the world may be resting on his analysis. "Wally."
"Keep your shorts on I'm trying to find the right way to phrase this." He pushes his finger tips together scrunching his nose so he can concentrate, "Your smell..."
"My smell!" her voice goes up a couple octaves and he knows from experience it's dangerously close to full blown righteous fury.
"Yes, your scent, aroma, fragrance, bouquet, odor - what have you - is dangerous," he points at her sharply, "Stop interrupting so I can attempt to finish. It's intoxicating and dangerous and I'm pretty sure illegal. Yup, definitely illegal. So I'm here investigating the source in order to report back to my superiors."
"That's the truth."
"Okay, half truth. So just tell me where you bought it and I'll be out of your hair, no pun intended," he adds quickly standing up to back away from her. He really does not want to be in kicking range when she flips her lid.
She rubs her temples tiredly as if she is completely drained, "Let me see if I'm a hundred percent clear...you like the smell of my shampoo."
"No, it's a dangerous toxin and I have to devise a remedy before humanity succumbs to it."
"And after I eliminate all the nonsensical nonsense in that convoluted explanation the bottom line is: you like the smell of my shampoo."
"Were you even listening to my explanation? I didn't say that at all."
"I've translated it."
"Very liberally," he huffs before casting his glance upwards and meeting her eyes, "So where did you buy it?"
"I said I didn't buy it," Artemis says, rubbing her hands over her arms.
"And I heard you," Wally answers, "but if you didn't buy it where did you get it?"
"My mom makes it."
"Jesus Christ Wally, I'll ask again, are you deaf?" Artemis snaps, before he can answer she drops to her knees and begins scrubbing the purple goop from the floor. He wracks his brain for some kind of witty response but before he can counter, Artemis is finished scrubbing and looks up at him exasperatedly, "My mom makes the shampoo. It's her special herbal mix. I can ask her…to…you know."
"I know what?" Wally asks, leaning down to her.
She appears to be particularly flustered, she folds the towel in on itself and tosses it in to a laundry bin without even looking at him, "If you like it so much," she says with a sigh, "I can ask her to make you some."
"Oh," Wally says, and because he's startled and he didn't expect this geniality from Artemis at all it takes him a minute to amalgamate his thoughts, "Yeah- yeah that'd be great. I'd like that Arty."
"Don't call me that," she snaps but this time the hardened expression melts from her face more easily. She looks up at him and points to the door, "I'll bring it after school tomorrow. Now get out of my bathroom. I need a shower."
"Aye, aye, Ma'am," Wally grins, dashing for the door, but he turns around before he leaves and Artemis is looking at him and her hair is down and he can't resist, "You should wear your hair down more often Arty. I bet its real pretty when it's, y'know, clean."
There's a moment of flustered silence before Wally zips from Artemis' room. And although she thinks he does, he doesn't miss the fleeting smile that graces her face.
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