Days after being released from the hospital, Artemis and Wally were on their way to visit Mount Justice. They had a few bags from their visit to Artemis' mother and medical supplies to last them the weekend. In Gotham City, Artemis was fidgeting with her arm sling. Wally had propped her up against the side of the old telephone booth they were to use to beam to the Cave while he brought their things.
"Babe," he said as he flashed back, luggage in tow. She didn't even flinch anymore when he appeared like that. "Ready to go?"
She sighed. "They're really upset."
"Of course they are. They had a service for you and everything. But they'll get over it."
She took a deep breath and pushed off the wall. "Okay, let's go."
"Recognized, Kid Flash, B03. Recognized, Artemis, B06."
When Wally entered the Cave, carrying Artemis - who wouldn't be allowed to walk by herself for a few weeks due to her fractured tibia and shredded shoulder - the whole team was assembled, waiting for them. Or at least the members of the original team, besides Kaldur; he was on an undetermined leave of absence at home in Atlantis.
Artemis met their eyes warily, and was surprised to find such warmth.
"Artemis!" M'gann shrieked, breaking the silence and floating right up to her, lending her support when Wally attempted to set her down so he could bring the bags to their old room.
"Hi, M'gann," Artemis greeted sheepishly, and was pleased when she was enveloped in a big hug. She felt the Martian's tears wetting her neck, and clutched her friend back.
"I can hardly believe it!" M'gann sobbed, pulling away to look Artemis in the face. She was holding her so delicately, as if she would shatter or disappear like a ghost. "Nightwing explained what really happened, but I felt your heart stop beating, and I -"
"I know," Artemis interrupted, embarrassed that her own eyes were welling up. "And I'm really sorry it had to be this way."
"Don't apologize," Zatanna insisted, stepping forward and laying a hand on Artemis' shoulder, voice turning teary. "We're all just so happy you're alive."
Later that evening, the team was preparing a feast unparalleled in Cave history. Everyone helped, with the exception of the invalid, who was banished to the sofa, where she was to be kept company by rotating shifts of her old teammates.
Nightwing, who had arrived shortly after Artemis and Wally, was allowed the first visit.
"Not as bad as you though, huh?" he asked, gesturing at the bustling and crowded kitchen where M'gann and Wally shouted instructions in turns.
"No one's been anything but happy," Artemis conceded, amazed. "What did they do, take it all out on you and Kal?"
"Kal mostly, I think. He stayed here for a day or two, but swam home pretty quickly. He was debriefed and explained everything to the team, but he feels really guilty for everything he had to do while he was under - I don't know if he'll come back to the team after this."
The two friends sat in companionable silence for a while, watching the others scurry around with mountains of ingredients for all kinds of dishes.
Dick looked sideways at Artemis. "I don't suppose your mission has convinced you to put the mask back on for good?"
Artemis shook her head firmly. "I know the work you do is important - the work we did - but I don't want to be a hero forever. And Wally's dead set against it - he doesn't miss it at all."
"And you did?"
She shrugged her good shoulder. "I thought I did. But every day that I was undercover, I missed home and school and Wally so badly I would've quit if I could've done it without getting myself killed."
Dick nodded. Though he'd made the opposite choice, he understood the desire - need - for a normal life, for fulfillment and love and happiness. "I won't ask you to do anything like this again," he promised.
"Thanks, Dick." Artemis squeezed his hand. "Promise that you'll make time in your hero life to visit Wally and I more than you do, and we'll call it even."
Dick smiled. "Hardly seems a fair trade. I think I deserve more of a pay out for my company."
"Quit hogging the Miracle Girl."
The two on the couch looked up. Zatanna was standing before them, arms crossed, a grin dancing across her exotic features.
"I just chopped about thirty onions. You're up, Boy Wonder."
Nightwing scowled. "I told you not to call me that anymore."
Zatanna rolled her eyes. "Not in front of other people, yeah, yeah, I've heard it a thousand times, Dick. Now scram."
Dick reluctantly got up and went off to the industrial-sized floating kitchen to make himself useful. Zatanna dropped into his seat, crossing her Nylon-clad legs gracefully before turning to her best friend.
Artemis raised her golden eyebrows. "'Not in front of other people'?" she questioned suspiciously. "Something you want to share?"
Zatanna laughed, eyes flashing racily. "We kind of started seeing each other again."
The sorceress waved a nonchalant hand. "It's casual. I'm just using him for sex."
"No!" Artemis gasped, eyes wide, and laughed.
"Don't look so shocked, Little Miss Homemaker. It's more acceptable than you'd think. Neither of us can afford or have time for serious relationships, and we've already been together, so we know each other well enough to have casual sex. Plus," she added, gazing across the large room at his chiseled backside, completely visible through the spandex Nightwing suit, "he has a hot body."
"Wait a second," Artemis protested. "I am not a homemaker!"
"Honey, you've been with the same man all your life."
"That doesn't mean - "
"You own a condo and a dog together."
"It's a lease! And Bosco is a rescue."
Zatanna rolled her eyes again. "Whatever, Artie. Just don't be judging me for Dick."
"I wasn't. It was just surprising."
The sorceress pointed at Artemis' heavily bandaged shoulder, ready for a change of subject. "Is that going to heal? It looks really painful."
"Eventually. Two of the bullets passed clean through, but the other was lodged in one of the muscles. Surgery went okay, but it's a good thing I'm not a lefty."
Zatanna nodded. They listened to the happy bustle of the kitchen for a while before the gypsy turned back to her friend.
"Have you heard? They found the actual Roy Harper."
Artemis froze, staring disbelievingly. "When? Who found him?"
"About the same time everyone thought you died. It kind of got eclipsed by your funeral. Which was really nice, by the way - flowers and speeches and everything. Lots of waterworks."
"Who found him? Where was he?"
"Your sister, actually, and Roy's clone. Not that that was surprising - if anyone was going to find the original, it was Roy himself. Locked up in a Cadmus facility somewhere. I wasn't at the debriefing, so I don't know any details."
Artemis sat back against the cushions, feeling completely blind-sided. "Wow. After all this time."
"I know. Everyone else was shocked, too."
"Is he - okay?"
Zatanna shook her head. "Coma. Something to do with being out for ten years."
From the kitchen, people began to shout for Zatanna's return. "Do you want to eat or not?" Dick called.
Zatanna sighed. "Sounds like my time is up, honey," she said, and gave Artemis a soft squeeze. "I'm so happy you're back in the land of the living."
Artemis smiled warmly, squeezing back. "Even though I never really left."
"For us, you did."