Disclaimer: A poor college student owning Young Justice, Cartoon Network, and DC comics? No. Just…no.
Summary: Artemis asks Dick why she hasn't been inducted into the Batfam. His answer isn't easy for her to hear.
Note: This is set in my headcanon world where Dick and Artemis become best super-friends and fight crime together in Gotham, forming the sexiest, synchronized partnership the city has ever seen. Artemis is 18 and Dick is 16.
Don't Join the Club
It had been a good night in Gotham. Artemis still felt the adrenaline pounding in her ears and the sweet burn of her bow string against the underside of her forearm. She had bruises and a cut on her shoulder that needed attention, but her latest patrol with Robin had included just the right amount of dangerous thrill without any near-death scrapes.
Finishing up her cool-down stretches for the night, she bent down to touch her toes as Robin performed a series of flexibility stunts that Artemis could only describe with an exacerbated roll of her eyes.
Dick's stretching routine was more like a contortionist's performance than a functional exercise. Artemis cringed as he effortlessly dropped down into a center split and stretched his arms out, bending his torso forward to touch his face to the floor. No human should have been able to bend themselves into those impossible positions every single night without snapping a few tendons, but Dick somehow managed it. Artemis had given up yelling at him to "stop showing off, circus freak!" a long time ago.
The fact that he was sixteen and had outgrown two Robin costumes helped matters a little. For a lady who liked something nice to look at, gaping in awe at a scrawny thirteen-year-old tied in a pretzel was much less justified than appreciating the flexibility of an almost full-grown teammate.
Dick noticed, sometimes with a cocky smirk, but never said anything. In turn, Artemis didn't question his frequent "appraisals" of herself.
As soon as they had wrapped things up, Artemis stood to her feet and Robin withdrew to sit at the edge of the WayneTech warehouse roof. She brushed invisible dust off her costume while he surveyed the glowing Gotham skyline.
This was where Dick would leave her to return to Batman's secret base alone. Artemis had been working with Robin for over a year now, but not once had she crossed paths with the Bat outside of Mount Justice. Artemis had a feeling that the situation was a mixture of Batman ignoring her and Robin subtly keeping his two Gotham vigilante relationships from intersecting each other. That didn't stop her from wanting a little recognition from the Dark Knight. She cleaned house as well as Dick Grayson, and she deserved some appreciation!
Recently, Green Arrow had taken a new charge under his wing, giving Artemis the chance to focus on her hometown and taking away her source of support. She had to buy her own arrows now. Although she enjoyed the independence, she missed having a hero clan to depend on, and she had hoped her close relationship with Robin would help her out in that department. But Dick had said nothing.
Artemis glanced at her wrist-watch. 2:00 AM. Bat curfew time. Dick didn't even have to glance at a time piece to know he needed to leave. She watched as his shoulder blades tensed, muscles braced to spring and launch him off the building like a falling star, but her voice held him back.
"You know, after knowing a girl so long, you could at least give her a tour of your place."
Dick's head shifted her way, mouth twisted in a bemused expression for her benefit, since she couldn't see the smiling eyes behind his mask. His mask's white stare made her self-conscious, so she cleared her throat and turned her head to the left.
"Didn't you say you had a butler? It's late, only fast food places are open, and I need some good coffee," she grumbled.
Dick chuckled. "I don't think so. Alfred doesn't serve us caffeine this late. Says it's 'bad for the constitution.'"
Artemis raised an eyebrow. If Dick hadn't told her Alfred was an old man, she would have confused him for a bossy English grandmother.
"…as for seeing the Batcave and the manor, the visitation qualifications are 'affiliation with the Bat or near-death circumstances.' You don't fit either."
He paused, and the humor slipped from his voice as he said, "Hopefully, you never will."
She didn't like the finality to his statement.
"So you've never thought about adding me to the Bat family officially?" she asked in a hoarse whisper.
"Of course I have," Dick replied, drawing away from the edge of the building and up to his full height.
As they stood face-to-face, he scratched at the side of his face where his mask ended and his skin began, as if contemplating taking it off to get a better look at her. His expression gave her the impression that he was silently assessing her worthiness, and he liked what he saw.
So she bit the inside of her cheek and waited.
He hesitated, and then stopped to shake his head. "But no. It's not an option"
It would have been a lie to say the rejection didn't hurt.
"Whatever, I was just speculating." She roughly crossed her arms over her chest and mumbled, "Guess I'm not cool enough to join the club. Blonde, Vietnamese… I just don't fit the 'black-haired, blue-eyed, white boy' bill."
"No," he took a step closer to her. "It's not that. You'd make a great Bat."
"Then what is the reason, Boy Blunder?"
With Artemis, Dick usually let his stream of consciousness go straight to his mouth (if she didn't speak his mind for him first), but this time, he paused a moment to consider his choice of words.
"You shouldn't have to bear the weight of this symbol." He drew a batarang out of his utility belt, playing with it between his fingers. "It'll change you, and you'll end up becoming something you're not. Someone who sees the world as a chessboard for justice. All your allies, your friends, your loves…they're just pawns."
"Someone like Batman?"
Dick didn't care to answer that, but his protective silence was all Artemis needed to hear.
A.N. So...how did you like it? Thinking about writing a chaptered story based on this headcanon AU (in which Artemis becomes a Gotham vigilante and fights beside Robin). Would y'all be up for that?