I started writing this months ago before episode nineteen came out. This is a darker and more in-depth look at the Spitfire relationship looking at the development that occurred in the episodes prior to eighteen before spinning off into my own alternate universe. I'm not sure what fans will think of it. But the idea has been tumbling around in my head for so long that I just had to post it. I'm not sure how happy with the writing I am but I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Guest Character: Starfire
Word Count: 5300 words
Summary: When Artemis had pictured how she would die this scenario would never have entered her mind. She had always assumed she'd either die on a mission or at the hands of her family.
A/N: This only follows the cartoon till episode 17 and then spins off into an AU of the show.
(1) Troq was an insult used on Starfire in an episode of Teen Titans (the name of the episode escapes me at the moment) but in the episode it was revealed that her species of alien were considered inferior.
When Artemis had pictured how she would die this scenario would never have entered her mind. She had always assumed she'd either die on a mission or at the hands of her family. That was the only benefit of being related to Sportsmaster and Cheshire she was entitled to a quick death by blood; for those two took maniacal glee in letting their victims suffer. As she pressed her hand hard against the gushing wound on her clavicle struggling to stop the darkness from invading her vision she realized that in any other circumstances she might have laughed – to be killed by a seemingly harmless Martian who had no combat experience and who had made her cookies just last night was so farfetched she would have decked the person to suggest it. Ten minutes ago she would have thought it impossible. Ten minutes was a long time ago.
But God did it hurt! It was excruciating. Every strand of her hair ached as they were pulled from her scalp by the sheer force of gravity. Why did she have to be so dumb? She could hit herself, why had she of all things yelled traitor at someone with the ability to levitate and drop her from hundreds of feet in the air. Although maybe if Miss Martian had a heart she'd levitate her whole form instead of leaving the dead weight of her body to hang from her golden locks. She snorted it was the perfect cover really, so perfect even she, Miss skeptical-trust-no-one, had been convinced. The Martian was the traitor. The sweet, innocent, forgetful, curious M'gann was the one with the hidden bloodlust and desire to tear the team apart.
It was funny how imminent death made you think the most pointless things. Artemis wasn't afraid of heights so she was easily able to look beyond her toes and see the tiny specks that might be people milling around hundreds of feet below her.
Considering that the front of her uniform was soaked with blood; some of it dribbling and dripping off her fingers and pooling in the collar where her mask had been ripped away Artemis wondered if there was a pedestrian down below who would think it was raining as her blood fell on them. She pondered vaguely if the person would scream when they absentmindedly reached up to flick the water away only to come back with bloody fingers or if, because this was Gotham, they'd simply wipe it off. Things like this happened everyday in this God forsaken city. It was funny to be conscious of how expendable and fallible you were.
Artemis broke from her musings as a rather violent shake assaulted her frame and Artemis was forced to look at the terrified faces of her teammates and the visiting Tamaranean princess Starfire by invisible hands. All of them held looks of utter horror – and guilt. Well save one, Wally's face was downright livid as he glared at the Martian.
"Let her go!" he eked out then screamed, "Let Artemis go!" The Martian laughed cruelly as her body slowly morphed into what they all recognized from their classes as the form of a white Martian.
"None of you knew it was me," she cried gleefully jostling Artemis again like a doll, "None of you even assumed me. What idiots! And you," she turned towards Artemis leering at her but Artemis was no longer sure which part of the Martian's anatomy was M'gann's mouth, "Could you have had better timing? You took any suspicion away from me with your little confession and then I could just implant thoughts of malice in their heads. It was almost too easy!" Artemis set her teeth desperately searching for some means of escape. Why did that simulation have to happen? It had resulted in two things. One, Wally had confessed that he may possibly but not very likely have a teeny tiny crush on her which had resulted in her agreeing to be his not-so-secret girlfriend. Two, Black Canary after numerous therapy sessions (guilt trips) convinced her to tell the team the truth. One had been the most fantastic thing to ever happen in her life the other, the worst.
The whole daughter of Sportsmaster confession thing had blown up in her face – just like she predicted it would. She immediately became labeled the "mole" and as such was avoided at all costs by every member of the team, well excluding her rather stubborn boyfriend. God she wished she could punch Black Canary in the kidneys for suggesting that these kids were mature enough to handle this complex a situation.
Robin had refused to talk to her. Ninja-ing away whenever she even entered a room. Superboy tended to break things, and throw things when she was in his general vicinity. He was utterly convinced she had somehow been responsible for every attack on his lovable green skinned lass. Not so lovable now, Artemis thought wryly. Aqualad was closed off and distant, his chilly presence saturating the air with cold aloofness that even made her question herself.
M'gann had completely avoided her. But the first comment she said after the confession had haunted Artemis for months and now she knew why. The minute Artemis had finished that first sentence 'Sportsmaster is my father' M'gann had said in the most broken and timid voice, "So you're working with the person who tried to kill me numerous times?"
In hindsight the way she had phrased that sentence should have been a key tip off to Artemis that something was amiss. That was subliminal influence at it's best – she should know her sister was Cheshire. First, the fact that she used to term "working" which was present tense meant she sowed thoughts of distrust that Artemis was currently associated with her psychotic father. Second, using her sweet innocent self as victim was enough to rile up almost all the members of the team. 'Numerous times' was just a sore spot for everyone: the Reds attacking the cave, the Injustice League, Psimon and whatever threats had been presented against them before she joined the team. All in all everyone was pissed off at her except Wally. It had been both refreshing and shocking to have Wally hold her hand and defend her. He didn't even blink. Didn't once question her loyalty. Steadfastly refusing to go along with the incriminating nonsense his best friend and comrades were spouting. He of course had been duly rewarded.
Then the team had been told they would be escorting and guarding an alien princess but that someone needed to learn the language and culture from a biblical size manual and because the team really wanted to make her life miserable the task inevitably fell to her because she was good at learning languages. (Although in the end learning the language of Tamaran hadn't been necessary when the princess had planted a rather heavy kiss on the poor unsuspecting Robin and begun speaking in fluent English.)
Starfire had requested they go to Gotham after she found out that was where Robin was from. Artemis couldn't even imagine why she would want to go to the top of the tallest sky scraper in the city but she had and then she had accidentally bumped M'gann and off course the polite Martian had accepted the apology graciously it wasn't until Starfire had happily floated over to appreciate the view that Artemis had heard it barely, just beneath M'gann's sugar coated breath, "Troq." (1)
Artemis who knew what the word meant because she'd been forced to read the accursed history of an entire alien nation blurted out one word that immediately surfaced in her mind.
This had instantaneously resulted in her being hoisted into the air telepathically her mask ripped away as it was pulled painfully from her face, her bow and arrows pulled from her back and tossed over the ledge, and then a gash was ripped across her shoulder nicking her neck by the deceitful, yet trusted M'gann.
Why had she chosen that word? Why had she even uttered it? Artemis would never know – but she knew that it had been a horrible mistake. God, if her father was here he'd let her die for her stupidity. You never betrayed your knowledge to the enemy or threat you waited till you were in the presence of a confidant so that you could plan a tactical retaliation or you killed them yourself when their back was turned.
"Don't any of you want to apologize to Artemis?" sneered M'gann shaking her again, "Come on this could be her last seconds alive before she goes splat on the sidewalk." Artemis grimaced as she was jerked, although seeing the terrified and remorseful expressions on her friends faces was sort of satisfying.
That was the point when Artemis realized that M'gann was clearly deranged and the minute she was done playing with her like a rag doll the rest of the team would be next. Their only chance was if she, the hostage, was somehow able to escape and give them the element of surprise to attack. She gulped she was floating a good ten feet from the ledge but clearly the only part of her body being physically held...was her hair. Everything else could move and, of course, sense the sheer agony. She begrudgingly wished her quiver and bow hadn't been tossed over the side of the building because it all came down to her hair.
She realized she was going to have to die. What a way to go.
It appeared that now her teammates were clamoring to say something, anything to prolong her fixed position in the air as the Martian grew impatient. Now that they no longer had the mental link it was nigh impossible for them to form some sort of executable plan.
Kaldur cleared his throat first, "As leader I feel I should say that you were always a steadfast teammate and friend. Your dedication to protecting the innocent and your peers knew no bounds and –"
"Enough," interjected the Martian cruelly, "This isn't time for one of your God awful self-righteous sanctimonious speeches. Who's next to say their final farewells to blondie?" That's right keep talking, thought Artemis subtly sliding her arm down her body so that she could retrieve the hunter knife she kept strapped to her leg in case of emergencies, Just prattle on all of you until I set you all free.
"Come on," trilled M'gann eyes roving over the team, "What about you Robin? Don't you want to say good-bye to your little school chum?"
Robin gulped fidgeting under M'gann intense, glowing gaze that was both natural yet sinister, "She is my friend and I should have treated her better." Artemis silently managed to unclip the pocket her fingers searching and coaxing out the cool handle of the steel blade out of its sheath as Robin continued to gestate, "I knew your history and I shouldn't have let it bother me. You were never the mole."
Artemis quickly hid the knife behind her thigh gripping the hilt in her sweaty palm she began to drag the blade up slowly behind her back in an attempt to not alert the Martian to her actions. If she dropped it they were all goners. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply for a moment but was startled when upon opening her eyes again she was staring into the deep green pools of Wally West who appeared to be silently imploring her to stop this. He clearly had registered all her actions and she could see minute vibrations course along his legs and tremble through his hands as he struggled to stay still. Wally wasn't dumb. He knew what she was planning.
"What about you Superboy any regrets?" M'gann laughed cruelly sneering, "You were always trying to protect poor, weak M'gann. How does it feel to be so completely wrong about someone you trusted with your most intimate secrets to? Did you think we had a special connection? It would have been so easy for you to kill me and avoid this whole scenario."
Conner grunted eyes seeming to look through Artemis than at her, "Sorry." It sounded so sincere it hurt worst than the smarting wound that she was pretty sure wasn't going to clot if the steady stream of red and the lightheadedness consuming her mind was any indication.
"Now," Artemis felt herself wrench as they turned towards the quaking Kid Flash whose face was turning red from the effort to not barrel headfirst at the alien, "Onto the main event." Artemis's hand reached behind her head the blade easily slicing through a few hairs as she positioned it near her roots.
"Will he cry?" jeered M'gann, "Profess his love? We're dying to hear your final words to your beloved archer Wally."
Wally's face contorted a warped sort of smile hanging on his features as he locked eyes with the Martian that for months prior he had foolishly pursued, "Screw you."
Artemis didn't need a better cue.
A stunned white Martian's head swiveled completely around as Artemis plummeted away. The knife having glided through her hair like butter leaving M'gann holding nothing but a massive clump of blonde hair. Starfire immediately took advantage of the confusion to bullet towards M'gann landing a massive blow to the side of her body as the rest of the team provided back up.
Artemis felt weightless as she fell. At least she wouldn't have any regrets. There weren't anymore secrets anyway. The wind tore at her body as it tumbled through the air, howling in her ears and whistling through her hair. She had to close her eyes – not for fear of rapidly approaching ground – but because the torrent was drying out her eyes to the point where it was painful to keep them open. It was serene and oddly peaceful is this suspended moment in time then she heard it – a yell, or more specifically, the frantic cry of Wally West.
Wally stood paralyzed looking over the ledge at Artemis's rapidly shrinking form but seconds later his reverie was broken by the strangled yell of Kaldur, "Kid move! Retrieve Artemis!" Not really needing to be told twice Wally backed up the necessary distance then took off feet guiding him right off the roof.
Wally ran down the side of the building until he caught up with Artemis's rapidly falling form. But he realized with horrified dread that she was too far away from the wall for him to simply grab her and race to safety with and his mind being as quick as his body immediately offered him another solution.
"Hang on, Artemis," he yelled his voice strained and diluted with emotion as he narrowed his eyes and set his teeth, this was going to hurt. A lot. Dashing slightly ahead of her plummeting body he savagely pushed off the wall of the building grabbing her shocked, rigid form. He deftly twisted himself so that his back smashed through a window of the adjacent office building sending shards of glass, metal, and plaster everywhere. As great as spandex was for reducing air resistance and getting him attention from the ladies it sucked as body armor and he hissed as shards of glass dug into his backside when he skidded across the debris filled floor. Finally slowing to a stop after plowing through three arbitrary office worker desks Wally cracked his eyes open and stared at the girl in his arms with harrowing fascination. He noticed that thankfully the floor was empty so it was just him and the archer panting heavily in claustrophobic proximity. Her barely alive. Him in critical pain.
Artemis felt him move placing her tentatively on the floor before clamoring above her pressing a hot palm to her still bleeding cut his breath ghosting across her face. She blearily opened her eyes not quite sure what to make of his conflicted expression that was balancing between pain, shock, and anger but there was something more there, some hidden emotion that she was too tired to identify as she struggled to bring his face into better focus. Then he was hugging her; his body shaking so violently first with dry hollow laughs until they developed into strangled sodden sobs then he was literally vibrating against her before doing something she would never have expected in a million years. (Although so far today had been the day to prove all impossibilities true.) He bit her. Hard. His mouth and teeth clamping down on the uninjured side of her exposed neck since her cowl had been ripped off by M'gann...or whatever that thing was up on the roof. His teeth sunk into her flesh before his tongue gingerly licked the wound to relive some of the pain and he repeated the process using smaller and bigger bites to build up the rapidly developing bruise. Artemis merely looked at the ceiling realizing this was some sort of release Wally needed in order for everything to be ok, at least in this singular moment of peace. She felt his face press infinitesimally closer to her neck tenderly kissing the hickey he had just placed on her swollen skin. His skin was rough, hot, and wet; his tears mingling with the sweat and blood that stained her.
He pulled away his face coming to hover over hers and she said the first words that popped into her head as she took in the blotchy red patches that adorned features, the bloodshot eyes, the runny nose, and the horrid trails of tears that cut through the grim leaving him looking strangely apathetic,
"You're ugly when you cry." He snorted his eyes trailing over all the superficial wounds on her face.
"What were you thinking, Arty?" he whimpered his voice quiet and small, tinged with sadness, "Why?" His expression turned sour.
"How could you do this to me, Artemis!" he yelled, "You don't get to fucking do this me after we've finally found each other." She wanted to laugh at him and roll her eyes; how cliché could he possibly be? But his body was pressing down so hard against hers that she could barely breathe let alone laugh. It was just the way he had phrased it found each other. Was he really that much of a sappy romantic? They'd had each other since she had first seen him on the news and she had uttered those initial biting words to him, Wall-man huh? What exactly are your powers? It just took him a hell of longtime to get there and accept that he was simply mad about her, not mad at her.
She had no idea what had happened in that simulation after her "death" but clearly it had haunted Wally greatly. He had followed her around apprehensively for weeks, even going so far as to show up at Gotham Academy. Until finally she had exploded and demanded to know what the hell his deal was.
"Will you quit it, Kid!"
"No." He had said that one word with such finality and defiance that Artemis had literally taken a step back in confusion. But she was only stunned momentarily before she narrowed her eyes and stared down the red haired boy who was standing in front of her arms crossed, eyes defiant.
"What the hell is your problem? I know you don't like me but annoying the hell out of me is only going to shorten your life not prolong it."
"I'm not doing it on purpose."
"You show up at my school. You attempt to follow me home. You stick to me like glue on missions – I don't remember instigating any of these things!"
"Of course you did! You're one that got yourself zapped!"
"It wasn't real Wally," snapped Artemis shoving past him towards the zeta-tubes. The mission they had just returned from had, as usual, gone abysmally wrong and Artemis was in no mood to deal with an angsty Wally. He was the one who had persisted that he was fine and perfectly functioning after the exercise. So why should she give a damn? She just wanted to go home, soak in her bathtub, and attempt to get rid of the huge knot that had developed somewhere between her shoulder and her collar bone.
"It could have been. It felt like it was!"
"Artemis." Wally stood in front of her, hands on her shoulders pushing her away from tubes, "I...we...I want to talk to you." Artemis growled shoving vainly against his hands.
"I don't want to talk to you."
Wally picked Artemis up bridal style, a concentration of charm, "You're not getting a choice." Artemis instantly found herself situated on Wally's bed in his bedroom at the Cave as he pressed his body flush against the door. Artemis surveyed him wryly. Wally was looking at anything but her but he muttered random utterances under his breath.
"If this is some sort of sick attempt to get in my pants it won't work."
"Sex Wally. It's a euphemism for sex."
"What! No! Why would you even think that!"
"Because we're in your room and you're blocking the only exit."
"Hey I'm not that kind of guy," he blustered bumbling away from door, "See clear exit. I just..."
"What is it Wally," Artemis crossed her arms trying to look angry and imposing but it was difficult given the fact that it had been so easy for him to simply grab her and drag her here. He was strong. He was tall. It was hard for her to accept that Wally could actually pose a threat. Wally bit his lip green eyes glinting in the semi-darkness.
"I...I like you."
"I'm not amused Wallace."
"You think I am?" he roared beginning to pace across the room, his figure blurring slightly, "Every waking thought is haunted by you. Every night I see you die and then during the day I'm forced to watch you narrowly avoid death and that's only at the hands of petty criminals in your neighborhood let alone the missions we go on!" Wally shuffled forward and before she could even flinch or defend herself grabbed one of the hands that was crossed over chest and looked down at their intertwined fingers and a small fleeting smile skimming across his visage. "I tell Black Canary it means nothing. My feeling aren't hurt. I'm not hurt. But the pain doesn't go away unless I'm near you, unless you're near me. Breathing. Alive."
"This sounds like subterfuge."
"Artemis I like you okay. This isn't about me somehow fulfilling my hormonal urges. I don't want to like you because really it's a very, very bad idea to date your teammates but I can't help it." Wally gripped at his hair dropping her hand. Artemis was not at all bothered by how empty she felt when his fingers stopped strangling hers. "Look we don't have to be together okay, because I'm sure it's as freaky for you as it is for me but you gotta let me be around you or else I'll go insane."
Artemis hated emotions. Feelings limited you – weighed you down. She had no time for them. But here was Wally looking at her so earnestly and open he was the complete opposite of her. He wore his heart of on his sleeve but it was such fallible armor. One word from her and it'd shatter forever. But Artemis didn't want to hurt Wally. For a while now that had been the farthest thing from her mind. It was so messed up – Jesus, this was Wally! She wanted to be with him, if only for a little while. She wanted to see what it was like to be treated with respect and dignity, liked and loved. So for one insane moment she decided to risk it for one chance at happiness.
"You'll regret it. Being with me," she whispered. Wally appeared to take that as a safe sign to sit beside her.
"Probably. But we'll never know until we try."
"Really, ha," Wally awkwardly chuckled blathering, "That's...wow...great. We'll take it slow I mean it would be insane to –" Artemis grabbed both sides of his cheeks pressing their lips together chastely before releasing him,
"Wally I said okay. We'll try." They did try and neither party ever regretted it.
"I'm sorry," his expression deadpanned as her words processed.
"You're kidding right," he snapped his eyes softening slightly as he ran a hand through her considerably shorter hair, "I'm not." She quirked an eyebrow and was about to respond when Miss Martian came hurtling through another window and landed heavily on the other side of the room, she was being pursued by an enraged Starfire who quickly showered the fallen Martian with starbolts before it let out a guttural roar and attacked her in kind.
Wally had instinctively grabbed Artemis and bolted across the floor away from the fight, and they felt the building shake as Superboy landed thunderously on the roof, ripping his way through each floor downwards.
"You guys alright?" yelled Robin as he zip-lined through the window hanging onto an injured Aqualad, "Saw you careen through the window, so not aster." Artemis decided to ignore the jibe and focus on the fierce exchange of blows occurring a few feet away. She felt Wally shrug behind her,
"Oh I'm peachy having just smashed through a window," he responded cheekily before turning serious, "Do we help?"
"Fear not friends," shouted Starfire who had apparently caught Wally's question, "The Martian is tiring, perhaps she may return to normal." It was at that point that Superboy ripped a hole in the ceiling and dropped down lips set in a grim line as he made a beeline for the fighting aliens.
"Move," he yelled gruffly pushing Starfire out of the way, "My turn." Artemis shook her head as Conner began to duke it out with his girlfriend gone rogue. Aqualad and Robin were standing before her nervously after crossing the room to join the pair. God this was going to be awkward.
"I am sorry Artemis for suspecting you of being the mole," said Aqualad, "You share a past as dark as mine yet I judged you unfairly after you told us the truth. I deeply apologize for my actions."
Robin threw in, "Ditto." Wally merely looked affronted before an accepting smile came to his face and he ruffled the younger boy's hair. As the only person who stood by her while she was ostracized by the team, he had been royally pissed off at everyone for the last couple of weeks, even refusing to talk to Boy Wonder as a silent form of protest at their treatment towards the archer. Sadly it took their friend betraying them to make up.
A strangled scream was heard from across the room as Superboy and Starfire finally knocked M'gann unconscious and everyone watched stupefied as she morphed back into her usual green skinned, auburn haired form.
"We must get her to J'onn," Starfire concluded, "Perhaps there is a cure?" Artemis tried to look hopeful at the suggestion but it didn't seem very likely that M'gann would all of sudden return to her former self, and if she did her delicate conscience would not be able to cope with what she had done. Then again which was the real M'gann? Artemis doubted she'd ever be able to share the same space as M'gann without a niggle of doubt clouding her judgment and actions towards her "friend."
Artemis felt Wally's gloved hand slide into hers as they watched Superboy delicately pick up the woman he loved and follow the team towards the bioship.
"It'll be okay, Artemis."
"How can you say that?"
"You're alive. I can believe in almost anything right now."
"M'gann's completely gone off the deep end and you're treating it like some sort of joke!"
"Artemis," Wally paused clearly choosing his words carefully, "Short hair suits you."
The blonde let out an exasperated groan and then a pained moan as she irritated her injuries and than finally she felt her cheeks blaze remembering the bruise Wally had created, "Now is the time you choose to compliment me. Seriously. Wally you suck." Wally merely gave a hollow laugh swallowing thickly and squeezing her hand a little tighter.
"I'm serious, beautiful," he said weakly and his voice sounded like it belonged to someone twice his age, "It'll be fine."
"Ow Wally. You're going to break my hand..." Artemis trailed off as she looked into the distraught, tormented face of her boyfriend whose eyes appeared fixated on the forms of the retreating team.
Artemis sighed tugging on Wally's hand till his hooded emerald eyes met hers. "Wally."
"Again. It almost happened again," he choked.
"God. Don't say that." Wally ran his free hand down his face, "I get it I do. You did what you had to. For the team."
"What do you want me to say Wally?"
"I know," grumbled Wally, "It's the team but don't forget we're a team too. Me and you. Watching your actions up there knowing what you were going to do and having no way of preventing it. That killed me, babe." He dropped his head onto her shoulder pressing his face against the hickey placing his arms around her loosely.
"Nobody said this would last forever Wally. There's no such thing as lifetime promises in our line of work."
Wally just breathed soaking in her presence for a moment. "I'll make it last. Someday." He pulled away picking her up in his familiar carry acting like her words had never been spoken, "Come on. You're in need of some serious medical attention."
"It's not like you're doing much better," scoffed Artemis as the both attempted to lighten the dour mood they'd created, "You're more hole than uniform."
"All the better to seduce you with, Arty," Wally jeered waggling his eyebrows. Artemis just shook her head, rolling her eyes.
"I think you've already done that. Did you have to bite so hard?" Wally said nothing as he easily trotted and caught up with the team. She didn't comment. She already had a feeling he wouldn't elaborate.
After that first incident the affectionate biting continued. Artemis had no idea where Wally had gotten the idea from or why he persisted in doing it ritualistically but she thought it was cute and endearing; reminding her of the primal need of animals to mark their territory or property. She began to look at the bruise as a reminder he loved her. Although it did cause considerable challenges with attire. All of a sudden her wardrobe contained more turtlenecks then she was willing to count in order to hide the prominent bruise resting on her neck. The sweaters were a must; especially in front of her mother, mentor, and most importantly Batman less the team be speedsterless courtesy of some very dangerous people with pointy objects.
More often than not she found herself cuddled in Wally's embrace his warm back bracing her as his lips worked at her neck – her turtleneck discarded at some point during the meeting. It was a peculiar arrangement but somehow it worked. Somehow it was them. Somehow they'd muddle through this, everything. Every battle, fight, war, and spat.
Someday she'd be able to visit M'gann and look her in the eye again without flinching. Someday the severed bonds on the team would heal. Someday. Thought Artemis as she reclined back and Wally lay on top of her hands feathering along her ribs before slinking behind her back and beneath the fabric of her bra fingers fumbling but confident. His mouth detached from her neck moving up the claim her lips, tongues clashing and insistent against each other, and Artemis let herself forget – because as long as Wally was there the mark would remain that they'd always be together.
Accepting criticisms, comments, and reviews. I'm not sure what to make of my imagination anymore...or my writing...