Title: lights off
Characters: Mia Dearden, Connor Hawke
Rating: T (Mia swears quite a few times)
Words: 1,700
Notes: For the Artemis to my Mia (sar-cat on tumblr), on her birthday! Set after GA: Vol 3 #59, and before #60, because I've always felt like there needed to be something in between all of Start City going to hell and "oh wait, now it's a year later!"

This was actually a big deal for me to write and post, because I've always been really nervous about writing for the comic-verse rather than just cartoon-verses. There's a lot more that I feel I might get wrong, but I don't think I did too badly with this.

-o-

It's always disorienting, waking up in an unfamiliar place, and after all those years spent of waking up in a different place each morning, it's enough to make her stomach flip in short-lived panic. It's enough to make her worry for a second, that maybe the last few years of having a home and a family have all just been a dream; that she now has to get up and prepare herself for another night of tricking and try to bring in enough money to be able to stay in Richard's club.

But as the surroundings of a hospital room come into focus, the memories also come back into focus. She remembers the house being blown up. She remembers Ollie relocating them to somewhere "safe". She remembers Dr. Light attacking her school, her leading him straight to Connor. She remembers Ollie turning up with Black Lightning to help them and Light taking him away, leaving with a flash of light, heat and pain.

(Pain, which obviously get the memo and leave like everything else did, she realizes as her attention is drawn to the bandage around her abdomen and the sharp throb emanating from the wound beneath it, as well as a constant ache in her chest and various other bruises which she can't place where they have come from.)

She squints against the too bright light above her head and turns her gaze away to the side, catching a glimpse of dark skin and blonde hair slouching in an armchair as her eyes readjust. Dark hollows rest under both of Connor's eyes as they stare down at a fixed point on the floor; his left eye is swollen and purple and there is a gash on his forehead. He looks like he hasn't slept or done anything remotely resembling a normal human routine in a couple of days, and Mia wonders what else could have happened while she was out to make him completely let himself go over however long she's been out for.

Because – to say it simply – he looks like absolute shit.

And Mia, being ever so helpful in stating the hard facts to the boys in her family, decides to tell him this.

"You look like shit."

It takes a while for her voice to registers to him (she does notice the raspiness that prevents her voice from being as loud as usual, or maybe he was just sleeping with his eyes open, she doesn't know), but once it does, Connor blinks and lifts his head to meet Mia's curious eyes. "You're awake," his voice cracks out, sounding even worse than hers, like someone has massaged his larynx with sandpaper.

"Yeah, and you look like shit." Mia doesn't miss the way his eyes swiftly dart away and look towards the door when he pushes himself up from the chair, muttering, "We should call a nurse to tell them you're awake," and reaching out to press the assistance button above her head. She reaches up her hand and rests it on his arm however, before he's able to press it (oh, how she wishes she was able to jump up and do this properly), and she mentions it again, this time with more force in her voice. "Connor, why do you look like shit?" She asks, trying to catch his eyes. "Because I'm pretty sure the last time I saw you, you were looking perfectly fine and hot as you always do, and not like you've just been in an explosion."

Connor flinches at 'explosion' for some reason, but still avoids her eyes and proceeds to press the assistance button, saying softly, "I'll tell you shortly," before moving out of the way for the incoming nurse and doctor who arrive to poke and prod and ask her repetitive questions for the next half hour.

And once they finally leave, eyes of both archers training on their retreating backs, Mia swings her head towards Connor. "Alright – it's after shortly. Spill." She begins to list of topics with the fingers on one hand while the other fiddles with the medical bracelet around her wrist. "What happened while I was out? Where's Ollie? And-" her eyes catch on a word imprinted on the bracelet, "why the hell are we in San Francisco?" She raises an eyebrow towards Connor, who has slumped back onto the chair he was initially sitting in, tired and defeated. "Hospitals in Star City were…unavailable," he says softly.

"Unavailable…how?" Connor is still quiet, and Mia is close to snapping her fingers in front of his face as if to wake him up when he finally speaks.

"Light had…planted bombs all around the city," his voice is barely a husk of sound, yet Mia is still able to pick it up, and her eyes widen. She opens her mouth and prompts tentatively, "All around, as in…"

"The majority of Star City is now rubble and dust." He isn't looking at her, and is therefore unable to see her reaction, but she doesn't say anything, which, being Mia, is unusual. "The first bomb that went off collapsed the building that we were in," he adds, fuzzy memories of fire, sound and panic running through his head.

After a moment of heavy silence, the weight behind Connor's words finally sinks in. "Fuck," Mia blurts, momentarily startling Connor into glancing up at her. Her eyes are wide and she's staring at the white sheet that's clenched between her fingers. "Fuck."

Connor lets the silence linger between them until Mia speaks up again. "So, what else?" she asks, looking at him expectantly, and Connor releases a breath.

He tells her about Merlyn joining forces with Doctor Light. He tells her about Ollie's facedown with Merlyn. About Ollie losing, arrows being pushed into his back, all the way through to his chest. He tells her how her heart had stopped, and Jeff had to restart it with his powers (well, that explains why her chest hurts) and he tells her about Jeff's broken bones and collapsed lung that went untreated for hours because he refused to leave the site of the first bomb until she had been found. He tells her about the other crises that were occurring around the same time as theirs, the events and deaths that have left the entirety of the superhero community whirling and spinning with no knowledge of when it will stop.

Mia listens intently as he speaks; she's always been good at that – listening and taking things in – not that it would be evident to anyone who doesn't know her as well. She makes a few comments in between his explanations (Connor wishes she would say something a little more that "fuck" each time, but in between the last traces of anaesthesia that she's working off and the weight of what he's told her, he's not sure what else he would expect her to say), but mostly she just takes it all in, running everything through her head a few times until it sinks in that this actually happens. This all actually happened.

"Where's Ollie now?" she asks, her voice unusually soft – smothered down by all the news and information she's just been given.

"He got out of his second surgery a few hours. He's going to be unconscious for a little while."

"You can go wait until he wakes up, you know. You don't have to stay here and babysit me."

Connor shifts in his seat and stares at a fixed spot on the wall across from him. "Dinah's with him," he says, "and Roy called and said he'll get here as soon as he can."

"Yeah but-" she cuts off when she notices the expression on Connor's face. He's not looking at her, but she can still see how uncomfortable he is talking about this. He almost seems…scared – and Mia can't remember any other time when she's ever seen him scared. There's no doubt that Connor's always been the strongest of them – the one that's kept them sane when everything else is falling apart – and Mia can't recall a circumstance when it's been the opposite, and she's not sure what she's supposed to do in that circumstance.

She racks her brains wildly, trying to think of a diversion when she strikes gold among her memories. The edges of her lips curve up into a smirk. "You know…" she says, glancing towards Connor, "you still owe me a kiss."

Connor's eyes dart straight up to meet hers, and her smirk widens. "Sorry?" He throws her a puzzled look.

"I said you had to give me a kiss before I died, and you didn't." She throws in a pout for extra measure.

"You didn't die, Mia."

"Well, actually…" She stops as Connor's jaw tightens. "Anyway. Nonetheless, you can't just leave a girl hanging like that. I asked you nicely and everything."

The corner of Connor's lips twitch up ever so slightly. "If I remember correctly, you 'demanded' that I kiss you."

"Well, that's better than just pulling you down and forcing you to kiss me, isn't it?"

Connor frowns in thought. "I thought we had to go through all the 'pre-death' clichés before that."

"Oh, do we want to go through the clichés?" Mia leans back onto her pillows and puts a hand to her forehead in a dramatic manner. "Oh Connor," she gasps, "I believe I feel faint." She sees him shake his head out of the corner of her eye and grins, before dropping her voice down into a whisper. "I-it's so c-cold, Connor. It's so cold…"

"Okay Mia, you can stop now."

"No." She looks upwards, squinting at the room light that's shining down on her face. "Connor, I think I can see the light. There it is. Just up there." She points a finger up, her hand a black silhouette against the bright white of the florescent light.

She hears Connor sigh and push himself up from the chair, while she continues to mumble about "the light" and "oh, is this what heaven is like? God, is that you?". One hand wraps gently around her wrist and pulls her hand down while the other rests softly at her cheek. She closes her eyes as he leans down and plants a soft kiss on her lips, over after a second ('That's disappointing,' she thinks), and then straightens up, sending an unamused look – with maybe, just the hint of a smile – down at Mia, who smirks back.

"Now, will you stop?" He asks. Mia licks her lips (dammit! She can't taste him on there like the last time), and sends him a mischievous grin.

"Man, you really love to hold back on that tongue, don't you?"