Well this is not only my 20th story but also a practice piece. I wanted to try writing in a different style (present tense) about how I think Artemis feels after Depths. This will probably only have two parts but since it's become massive on my computer who knows. As usual it's a bit darker than my regular stuff but fret not Confection Kisses (the sequel to Sweet Affection) will be posted Friday! I have a lot of people to thank for their support of that story which I'll do on Friday.
Pairings: L'gann/Artemis (Friendship), Wally/Artemis, Roy/Jade
Inspired by the song: Swallowed by the Sea by Coldplay (awesome Spitfire music video to the song by MusicalChaos05)
Disclaimer: I do not own Young Justice or it's characters.
Swallowed by the Sea
There's a point Artemis realizes that she doesn't want to be doing this anymore. She's never felt more helpless trapped on the submarine speeding hundreds of kilometers below the surface of the ocean. It doesn't help that's she's almost drowned one too many times on missions for her to be truly comfortable this far away from oxygen. There's nowhere to go. Any screw ups and she'll be dead. Aqualad will be harder to kill of course. He can breathe underwater. He can swim away if he has to. Fight if he has to. There's no second chances for her if she screws up. If the charm falls off. If someone recognizes her. Killing her would be all too easy. She'd never identified herself as claustrophobic but under the waves so far away from the surface, from air, she feels that all too familiar twinge of fear and the leaden feeling of being trapped. She pats the charm dangling at her neck – it's a nervous tick she's developed over the last few days to make sure it's still there. To make sure she's not Artemis.
How Kaldur managed to explain her joining the crew Artemis will never know. How people are actually trusting her when they know nothing about her. Well, she understands that part. That's also fear. Fear of what will happen to them if they question authority. Kaldur, the murderer of his friends, says she stays and she's with him; so no one touches her and that is comforting. They fear her by association. It's been a longtime since she's held that power. She frowns staring into a bucket of squirming, wiggling shrimp and other sea life. She's never going to be able to eat seafood again.
"Back again Manta chum, " a voice leers at her. Honestly what M'gann sees in L'gann she'll never know. His manners are atrocious and even subdued with some spell and shackled he still acts like a cocky prick. His sea metaphors are also annoying as hell as she throws the bucket into his cell. Why was she assigned hostage feeding duty?
"Eat." L'gann just sneers at her face laced with defiance.
"Why should I? You could have poisoned it." This sidekick is grating her patience.
"If you don't eat it I'll stuff it down your open gullet so you can choke on it." Ah there it is. The look of fear trickling into his eyes and settling on his face. Even the stupidest can only hold out for so long. Although Wally has found he doesn't mind when Artemis dominates in certain aspects of their relationship then again it's hard to tell when all he can do is beg for more and throatily moan.
Lagoon Boy's hand reaches into a bucket pulling out a violently thrashing shrimp before popping it in his mouth and crunching, "My friends are coming for me." He states it simply like it's fact. If only. She knows they're coming. Wally will be there seething and angry ready to avenge his dead girlfriend and she'll have to fight him. Dance around him with...guns. That's her new weapon of choice. She'll have to shoot at him. She'll have to watch him bleed.
"Keep dreaming," she responds giving a swift kick to the bucket because she's annoyed and doesn't want to have to deal with the consequences of what the four of them have started. But L'gann, the infernal ego driven jerk, just won't shut up.
"I have a girlfriend, you know, she won't stop till she gets me back."
"How nice for you." He tenses. If he thought he could rile her up using M'gann he was dumber than he looked.
"She's a Martian." Can't even keep her identity secret? Seriously what did M'gann see in this chowder head. Great. Now she's using sea slang.
"Flipping fantastic for you, fish boy."
"She'll rip your mind apart." Artemis narrows her eyes. That was never a thought she had ever expected to associate with the kind hearted green skinned girl. M'gann wouldn't abuse her powers in that way.
"Whatever you say. She first has to show up doesn't she?" That shuts him up as he glances around as if expecting her to phase shift through the wall. She leaves him like that, suffering and alone, because she's evil now and she can't give him any sort of sign that they will find a way to free him.
"You're not so bad, minnow." L'gann states a few days later. Not that she really cared for his opinion but she can tell he's giving up hope on the glorious rescue. He didn't last as long as she suspected he would. Although she wishes he would quit it with the sea colloquiums.
"You're on a ship with murderers and criminals and you think I'm not evil. I think statistics are not in your favor."
"You always bring me fresh shrimp," he says helplessly grasping at the only light he sees. Her.
"If you haven't noticed we're underwater. All we've got is fresh shrimp."
"What's your name?" Artemis's eyes widen. It's the first time anyone has asked her that question. This puzzles her. Why had no one asked her that question? She stares at L'gann who has this horribly pacified look on his face as if she's his only friend in the world and as pathetic as it is she probably is. But she curses her stupidity for never thinking that far into her disguise. Honestly, names were an essential part of it and she has no time to ask Kaldur if he had already given her a name so she blurts out the only name that swims through her mind – one from her childhood.
"Alice?" L'gann looks genuinely confused like he was expecting her to say the name Butch, or Destroyer or something equally evil.
"You got algae in your ears? My name is Alice."
"Weird name." Artemis has to stop herself from scoffing because her name is normal compared to L'gann. Honestly. Krill must be eating his brain.
It's two weeks later and L'gann has stopped eating. Not that she cares really. She's more concerned that she is going insane. She misses sunlight and air that's fresh and isn't recycled and stagnant; heavy with salt. The smell of the sea has all but lost it's charm and she's absolutely convinced there's a leak in her room – so that water is drip, drip, dripping into her quarters. Kaldur assures her there is no leak but she snorts because all she can think bitterly is that everyone either has gills or those funky suits that allow them to breathe underwater so of course a leak wouldn't matter to them. But she's becoming paranoid trapped in this tin can and so she carries two rebreathers and an inflatable life jacket on her at all times – although she knows neither will do her much good if the cold Atlantic Ocean decides to flood the moving fortress.
She blames it on stress, that, and the fact that Kaldur has no time to help calm her qualms about being under the sea as he's buzy trying to be a good little, evil son. So she becomes closer with her only other ally on this ship – even if he doesn't know it. Eventually though curiosity gets the better of her and she just wants someone to talk to really and, God, she's kind of glad L'gann's there.
"How do you stand it?"
"What?" he sounds a bit broodish now which is better than the pathetic victim he's been playing.
"Being under the water all the time. I feel like I'm suffocating."
"It's home." Artemis accepts that. For him the wet and cold is natural. For him the murky darkness and torrid depths are just a walk in the park.
"I hate it."
"Get used to it."
L'gann stares at her brokenly from his prison. Ego deflated. If she wasn't undercover she'd tell him the rescue will happen in a few hours when they're supposed to drop him off for one of the Light's partners. The team will be there. M'gann will be there. They'll fight. He'll accidentally be set free. The pain in her ass will finally be gone. She'll be able to breathe air again. She wonders which she is looking more forward to.
L'gann looks at her, "They're not coming are they." Pathetic. Now she has to boost his morale. This so was not in her job description.
"What giving up hope already? What about that Martian girlfriend of yours?"
"I'm the rebound guy," he brings his knees up into his chest, "She's probably already cozying up to her ex." Then he glances at her fixated, "You're real right?" His black pupil-less orbs shine as if questioning if she is even physically there, or if she isn't some elaborate trick of his imagination to ease the pain of abandonment.
"Eat. Fish boy."
"Why bother?" Artemis looks upward at the cold black steel and tries to see beyond it through the stormy darkness to the clear blue sky. Why does she have to deal with this rookie? She actually feels sorry for him. It twinges inside her.
Wally is going to kill her – or him. Whichever he can get his hands on first.
She reaches between the bars and harshly grabs Lagoon Boy's face yanking it towards her. She kisses his cheek. He's as scaly as she thought would he would be (it chaffs her lips like sandpaper) and just a bit dryer than he probably should be. She promptly lets him go and he stumbles back and lands on his rear.
"See real." She storms away from the flabbergasted, blushing boy. Yup. Wally is going to kill her.
Jade's fighting Kaldur. Artemis would be flattered that her sister is trying to avenge her if she wasn't so good with a blade. Kaldur is already tiring from the onslaught of knives and kicks and punches and Jade's screaming probably isn't helping him concentrate. The plan could really fall apart if Kaldur actually dies. Then there's her.
"This is your stop, fish boy." Artemis snaps as she accidentally kicks him into the water while fending off Nightwing's and Kid Flash's combined assault. She vaguely hears M'gann's plaintive cry "L'gann!" But Artemis is too distracted to care or notice that even when he's held in the Martian's arms he's still staring at her. She deftly fakes a few punches to Nightwing knocking him away with a roundhouse kick before moving onto the speeding blur who has decided to use this opportunity to shower her randomly with kisses between punches that never touch her. She manages to knock him to the ground and they grapple. Wally lands on top pressing uncomfortably close before she spins him over and he's beneath her. The charm dangles between them a foreboding reminder that he's one of the few people who can actually see her and Wally just stares into her eyes – drinking in the sight of her and she becomes all too aware of how close they actually are.
"You're not supposed to be aroused idiot," she murmurs evilly her thighs rubbing against his legs. Wally swallows thickly. To anyone else he would appear to be struggling valiantly against a murderess but all he appears capable of doing at the moment is squirming as his costume gets uncomfortably tight and letting out those pants she loves so much – at least until he throws her off him into the fucking ocean. She manages to clip him in the shoulder with a bullet during the fall but then she's cold and wet. Wally's staring down at her both smugly and worriedly until her head resurfaces. The salt water stings as it flows against some of her superficial wounds. That dumbass is going to regret that when all this is over.
Then they're retreating because they're the bad guys and it really pisses her off to have to back down because now she's boiling mad and might actually want to inflict some damage on the team. Kaldur grabs her wrist and pulls her back towards the sea. She hates the water. Couldn't she be a prisoner of war? She doesn't want to go back to that cold, metal tub and not see the sun or moon again. But she yanks her rebreather aggressively from her utility belt jamming it in her mouth and diving beneath the waves.
Of course once she's cold and soaked and shivering in the cargo hold Kaldur, the ever malicious leader, punishes her to the brig for losing the prisoner and then commends her for injuring the untouchable Kid Flash. She's actually relieved once she's confined inside the small, lightless room. It's identical to the closet her father used to lock her in to punish her. It's the first time she's felt at home since coming here.
She snaps a glow stick and a dim circle of light surrounds her as with trained patience she inspects herself for injuries and makes sure her equipment is in working order. She finds a note tucked in her holster, it's soggy but still intact, and there's a crude drawing of what she thinks is supposed to be a caricature of Kid Flash embracing her. There's lots of heart too and a drawing of their dog. But scrawled at the bottom in Wally's ever sloppy handwriting, that only after five years of having to read it, can she manage to make out the lines, 'My hand is terrible company. It can't do half the things you do.' Artemis smiles rereading the note over and over because Wally may be fast but he's not patient and she can only imagine how he's suffering. Everything isn't okay. But it'll be okay. For now.
"I think we should see other fish." The cave goes deathly quiet as everyone stares at the recently returned Lagoon Boy and the reunited couple. M'gann stands there floundering, trying to think of words to say but Superboy butts in.
"What?" Everyone can hear the anger lacing through his voice, his fists clenching at his sides.
"I realized something while I was captured," it's the most serious and authoritative tone anyone has ever heard from the scaled boy, "That I need to find someone who cares about me."
"But I care about you –" sputters M'gann brokenly, "We're dating."
"Beyond dating," intones L'gann sagely and to be honest everyone is actually scared that he is capable of actually sounding wise, "Like what the archer and fast boy had." Wally tenses at had his hands tightening till his knuckles whiten. "I want to find someone who will be there for me and not be scared of what I am. Someone who gets me." Miss Martian's mouth opens and closes brokenly, no sounds coming out. But Lagoon Boy doesn't stop there.
"There was one hot babe, Alice, black hair. The traitor's right hand girl. She watched over me. Brought me meals. She so had the hots for me."
Jade stops twirling her knife because now she's at the Cave regularly waiting for any opportunity to exact her vengeance on Kaldur for killing her sister. Wally violently curses and slams his plate of food so hard on the counter the glass breaks. Nightwing has to grab his arm to stop him from charging towards the classless Lagoon Boy. But that doesn't mean he can stop Jade too.
"What did you just say?" she hisses grabbing the gills on the boy's neck harshly and pulling him towards her.
"Alice watched over me," he flounders clearly not realizing a deadly assassin has him in her hands.
"Fucking Alice watched over you?" she exclaims angrily shaking the boy, "So fucking Alice, my Alice, is fucking at the bottom of the sea?"
"I don't think she's your Alice anything, chum," states L'gann, "I even managed to snag a kiss." Roy looks between Nightwing and Wally – two people who were supposed to be mourning the loss of a friend and loathing each other who were all of a sudden staring at the exchange with wide frantic eyes. Wally looks downright pissed, if his glare could kill L'gann would be dead, and Nightwing looks worried as he clutches at Kid Flash's arm. Then Jade is on him. Kissing him; because that's how she deals with her anger when she'd not allowed to kill the source of it.
"And now I get to witness angry make out sex!" grounds out Wally bitterly throwing his hands up in the air. Then there's a beat and Wally shrugs off Nightwing's hand defiantly and shoulders roughly past L'gann purposely jabbing him in the groin.
"I'm going home." Roy vaguely catches something along the line of, "I'm going to need more tissues.' But he's too distracted to care.
Artemis would laugh. She would. If she wasn't trying to not get pummeled to death by Superboy and hacked to bits by her own sister. So far L'gann has spent the better part of the fight trying to get close to her, hand reaching forward plaintively as if he was calling back a companion and every time he manages to get close Kid Flash races between them accidentally knocking Lagoon Boy aside.
It's funny to see the boys fighting over her instead of fighting her. But it's not funny, ha ha, it's stupid. These two idiots will blow her cover at this rate. One's trying to convert her to the good side and one's trying to protect her from the good side. The irony is so thick she could spread it on toast.
Wally trips knocking Superboy away leaving Artemis dueling her sister alone. Conner is yelling something fierce at Wally – she wasn't aware he knew that many swear words and is moderately impressed.
"I'm your opponent," hisses Cheshire icily her mask glinting horribly in the darkness, "And I don't play nice." Jade is probably mildly astonished since she pulls two blades from her boots and begins to match her hit for hit.
"I didn't know you played for the good guys." Artemis knows that will set Jade off. She knows there's no going back once the words leave her lips and Jade's eyes darken to an impossible to capture shade of black and she is no longer aiming to maim but to kill.
She thinks she hears Wally yell something but then she feels the hot searing pain of a metal slicing through skin as Jade sinks her blade to the hilt into her abdomen. Oh God. It burns. She twists the blade eyes level with Artemis's dilated ones. "That's for my sister. You sick twisted son of a bitch." Irony. Sweet merciful irony.
Then somewhere off in the distance she hears the choked scream of Lagoon Boy, "ALICE!" Who's Alice? She wonders confused in those brief moments between pain and reality, oh right. That's me.
Jade drops the knife. She never drops her knife – staring at her wildly as she staggers backwards and Kaldur roughly grabs her arms dragging her into the waves. She's pretty sure Wally is about the dive into the water too, until Nightwing places a gloved hand on his shoulder pushing him firmly into the ground but she can't be sure everything is distorted under the waves and her eyes strain through the brine fixated on her lover's face until the need for oxygen overwhelms her and she starts to thrash even though it stings like hell and blood is floating across her line of vision.
Then someone is shoving a rebreather in her mouth and Kaldur is ordering the medical team to meet them in the cargo hold ASAP. Hands, hands she had never associated as more than the enemies', kindly lift her through the water. There is honor among thieves she thinks vaguely. She's one of them and she's hurting and they care. Then she realizes that they aren't any different. They have families and loved ones they're just fighting on the other side. It's always been about sides – everyone has problems, everyone has feelings – it's the side that divides them. Look at her philosopher. Imagine what they could accomplish if there weren't sides. She bites down, hard, on the rebreather because otherwise she'd scream as the jellyfish poison her sister loves to use kicks in and if she opens her mouth her only source of oxygen will be gone; pulled away by the cruel current.
Then she's lying on a cold, hard metal floor and her shirt is being ripped away. Shapes swim and blur before her vision as Manta soldiers run to her aide desperately trying to save her. Kaldur is barking orders and she can hear the quiver of fear in his steady timbre. She grips at the arm of the nearest black clad drone and rasps,
"Poi...son." She licks her lips it's like she's drying out. It's all the salt water. Her skin is cracked and her hair has lost its luster already to its devious ways. Her throat is closing and her eyes are heavy, "Jelly..fish." For some reason the figure before her nods reassuringly and places her hand in their's and squeezes as she slips unconscious. It's warm. So why did she always think these people were so cold?
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