Disclaimer: Young Justice © Warner Bros. / DC - Jason Todd © DC - Full disclaimer on profile.
Summary: One day, this relationship will collapse in on itself. They can't carry on like this, the hero and the almost-criminal - but Artemis can't bring herself to care with Jason next to her right now, and she's used to walking close to the line, anyway. Arson; oneshot. Slightly AU.
A/N: So I think I've written more fanfiction in the last two weeks than I have in months. Is this what productivity feels like?! O8 I mean, I pretty much started and finished this within one day. I haven't finished a oneshot so quickly in a long, long time.
This is just a sort of drabble-ish oneshot because there isn't enough of this crackship in the world. Yay crackships! Who knows? I might write more Arson in the future. (I love that ship name. Arson. It's perfect for these two.) AU because in this oneshot, Artemis is still a crimefighter in her adult years (this is set around the same time as "Invasion" but in an AU 'verse) and...well, she's in a (sort-of) relationship with Jason instead of Wally, obviously.
(I still believe that the line "Just don't die," in s2 ep1 was an allusion to Jason...possibly Tula, too, but mostly Jason, since it was from Dick to Tim.)
English spelling and words are used. The definition is from the Tumblr blog other-wordly.
Warning: Some strong language and innuendo.
Latibule: (n.) a hiding place; a place of safety and comfort.
Artemis knew almost every single safehouse that Jason Todd had in Gotham City, and she was hardly an idiot. She's spent enough time with Jason to figure out that even if he went and snapped his spine, he'd still avoid the most obvious hiding place. He'd drag himself past it on his elbows in he had to.
But with a gash like that in his side, he couldn't afford to crawl any farther than the second closest hideout to where he was injured. She thought. Artemis prayed that her attempt at insane-Todd-logic was sound as she carefully clambered through the broken window of the apartment, almost snagging the belt of her costume on the jagged shards of glass still protruding from the frame.
She wrinkled her nose at the smell - damp and rotting wood and mildew. It was dark, it being one a.m. and the place no longer having any light fixtures - and it was cold. Goosebumps rose on the bared skin of Artemis' arms and stomach. No functional central heating. No furniture. Jason rule number one: all hideouts must be depressingly run-down as hell.
A floorboard squealed obnoxiously beneath her boot. "Jason...?" she called softly. Her blonde hair was awry, falling into her face - she pushed it out of her gunmetal-grey eyes, stuffed her collapsible bow into her half-empty quiver and pulled her cowl down from her face. Her green trouser leg was ripped to the knee and her shoulder was heavily bruised, a shallow cut stinging her cheek, but she ignored these little souvenirs from the fight. "Jason," she called again, more confidently. God, if I came out this way for nothing... "I know you're here, Todd. And M'gann didn't aim for your throat, so you've got no excuse for not speaking to me."
Nothing. Maybe the princess really was in another castle. Well, wouldn't that be fantastic?
"You really are stubborn, Crock."
The voice was coming from the next room, faint but very much there. Relief flooded through Artemis. She jogged through the door into what she presumed had once been a bedroom (at least, it had an old mattress in it).
There was a break in the clouds, and the moonlight filtered in through what was left of the window and left the room marginally more illuminated (it was only now that she noticed the spotty trail of blood leading into this room, and knowing the source made Artemis slightly nauseous). The figure sat on said mattress was solidly built and probably almost as tall as Batman, but hunched over as he was, he looked so small. The odd white streak in his otherwise black hair clung to his forehead with sweat. His tattered shirt had been stripped away and torn into rags on the floor by Jason's feet, chest bare (Artemis wasn't blushing. She wasn't.), leaving his wound far, far too exposed. Artemis sucked in air through her teeth.
Jason glanced up from tending to it and smirked. It looked like it pained him to do so. The red helmet lay forgotten in the corner, but he still wore his domino mask. "Wouldn't've thought of you as squeamish, Green Arrowette."
"Shut up," she said reflexively, kneeling beside him and worrying her lip with her teeth. Depositing her quiver on the floor, she reached hesitantly towards the gash - running from his hip to his bottom rib. He laughed raspily. She shot him a dirty look. "This isn't a joke, Jason!"
"Looks worse than it is. I've got it covered."
"Have you even taken painkillers?"
"Pain's good," he grunted. "Teaches you things. Like this pain taught me to never stand in front of a projectile-hurling Martian. 'Sides, they mess with my concentration. Christ, woman -" He snatched the box of medicine away from Artemis' hand. "- I know how to use a medkit."
"I'm pretty sure that almost being impaled on metal would mess with your concentration too," she observed drily, taking the medkit anyway. This time, he let her.
"It was your teammate who impaled me. Keep an eye on her. I know a wild card when I see one."
Artemis did not deign to respond to that. Muttering darkly under her breath, she snapped the kit open. At least he'd managed to stop the bleeding. Thankfully, the wound didn't seem deep enough to cause anything beyond a scar, but only if treated properly. "It's going to get infected if you treat it here. Can't you at least get a hideout with indoor plumbing? You need a hospital. This needs stitches."
"I can stitch myself up just fine," he huffed, but allowed her to inject the morphine and produce a needle and thread. She hesitated, then pushed him down against the mattress. "Eager much, Crock? Not that I'm not tempted myself, but you sure pick your moments..."
She just rolled her eyes. "Stay. Put," Artemis ordered in her best imitation of Batman, before taking the needle and thread out to the poky kitchen. At least there's running water. She filled an old pan with water and kicked wood away from the door frame, putting the pan on the stove with the wood underneath and lighting the wood with matches from a pouch in her belt. Anxious, she tapped her foot impatiently, adding more pieces of wood, until the water finally started bubbling - and then groaned as she was forced to wait longer for the water to cool enough. She almost spilled it in her rush to return the cooled, clean water to Jason.
It seemed that the morphine had kicked in - Jason had melted into the mattress, muscles lax. She hastened to clean the wound, then sterilised the needle in the still-burning flame on the stove and began to close it. Jason didn't even grimace as the thread pulled at his skin.
She snapped off and tied the thread. Next order of business: antibiotics. She had to kill any and all chance that he might have already been infected. She tried not to look at the jagged stitching as she injected Jason with the antibiotics; tried not to think of M'gann's increasing ruthlessness on missions; tried not to think of the blood that Jason had shed that evening.
Simple stealth mission for Artemis, M'gann, (the third) Robin, and Beast Boy: slip in, find out why so many drug lords were meeting at once and take the information back to Nightwing.
None of them had counted on the Red Hood crashing the party.
Artemis even suspected that the Red Hood had arranged the party in the first place.
"You're a star, dollface," Jason said when Artemis finally set the medkit aside, slurring slightly as a result of the morphine, and Artemis couldn't tell whether he was being sarcastic. Now that he wasn't in immediate danger of bleeding to death or of bacterial infection, Artemis allowed the anger to creep in. She stood up, looming over Jason as best she could, placing her hands on her crossed hips.
"And what exactly did you think you were doing tonight?"
"Sorry, mom," he murmured without missing a beat. "I was giving pimps 'n' dealers what they deserve. Somethin' wrong with that...?"
"How can you even ask that question?!" she hissed. God, if he wasn't hurt already she would have slapped him.
"I swear we've already talked 'bout this."
"They're dealers, but you're a murderer!"
Ouch. Below the belt. Artemis flinched. "That - that's different. Dad, he forced me. I haven't been that person for six years. You -" With a grunt of frustration, she kicked the mattress; Jason bounced slightly. "- how can any of that be right to you?"
Jason turned his head to stare her straight in the eye. "Go ahead."
She blinked. "What?"
"I said, go ahead. Take me in. You got cuffs in that belt, right?" He raised his hands slightly above him. "Arrest me."
The two lapsed into tense silence. Jason continued to blink up at her, palms up - an offering.
She could do it. She could do it so easily. She could have done it a thousand times in the last year. She'd gotten closer to Jason than anyone since his revival.
The quiet pressed on her ears; neither moved. Artemis' hand twitched towards the pouch with the handcuffs. Hovered there.
Artemis' hand fell from her belt and her shoulders slumped slightly.
Jason's hands landed back by his sides on the mattress. "Thought so."
"Bastard," Artemis sighed, and ran a hand back through her already tousled hair. Exasperated, she gave Jason one more look-over. "I should go. The others, they'll be -"
But Jason caught her wrist as she turned to leave. Gently, so as not to hurt her, though they both knew how tough she was. Even sedated, his reflexes were relatively sharp. "Stay."
Artemis shifted her weight between the balls of her feet, glancing from Jason to the door and back again, once more chewing her lip. It was one of those little gestures of hers that Jason would tease her about often, but would also say endeared her to him. Jaybird, you'd better not be calling me cute. Not for a second, Arty, don't worry that pretty blonde head of yours. "Nightwing, he'll get suspicious..." Artemis disappearing after an injured Red Hood, not even showing up for mission debriefing? Forget suspicious, they'd be out of their mind with worry. She'd been cutting it close enough when it came to Jason already. But they both knew that she was wavering.
"Who gives a shit 'bout what Wingding thinks? Give them some bull 'scuse 'n' they'll buy it. They'll forgive you. Dick does that." After another beat of silence, Jason spoke in a smaller voice: "Stay...please."
And there it was, in that earnest little voice. Not the Red Hood, not even Robin, but Jason Todd - the boy beneath the bluster and bitterness. The one who that Artemis believed she could pull out of the darkness surrounding him. Just a boy, asking for companionship.
Artemis planted herself onto the mattress beside him, shifting his grip to her hand and running a thumb over his calloused knuckles - she heard him give a small, content sigh and settle more comfortably into the mattress.
Artemis reached over to peel the domino mask away from his face, which was still slightly sticky with sweat. He'd closed his eyes, but Artemis could easily picture the exact colour and shape of them - they were turned down slightly at the corners, teal-blue, though they glinted bright crystal-blue in the sunlight, like a break in clouds revealing a patch of clear sky. He could have been sleeping, his breathing deep and even and expression almost innocent. Artemis knew how rare it was for him to embrace invulnerability in front of someone the way he was doing now - she understood, because many years ago, that had been her.
"Hm?" Jason suddenly speaking caught Artemis off-guard. She frowned. "What about Jade?"
Artemis tensed. Great. She thought they'd finished discussing this. "She stopped too. I told you. She's not that person any more either."
"Took her longer, though. She di'n't have to join Ra's..."
"Does it matter? She's on the straight and narrow now. She's got Roy and Lian..."
"Before, though. You loved her anyway."
Realisation hit her - her breath caught. Would Jason let himself say these things without the sedative in his system...?
Rather than try to speak around the sudden lump in her throat, Artemis swallowed and lowered herself onto her back next to him, rolling onto her side to face him, inches between their noses, her eyes fixed on his pale, angular face. She flicked his white streak playfully.
"They're gonna kill me for this. You'd better be grateful."
"'M etern'lly grateful you consider me a good 'nough fuck to keep alive."
She nudged him playfully in the ribs with her elbow, mindful of his injury. "You're way more than just a 'good fuck', you reckless idiot. And you'd better hope you were listening just now, because I don't think I'll be saying that again for a long time."
This elicited a drowsy chuckle from the vigilante, who put his free hand on the small of her back to pull her closer. Sensing him slowly drifting into sleep, she leaned forward to press a sweet, slow kiss to his gently smiling mouth.
"Sweet dreams, Jaybird."
It was messed up, and they both knew it. They couldn't keep on like this forever. Eventually, one of them would have to change - and maybe, just maybe, with a bit of guiding from Artemis, Jason would change for the better. Would heal. Like she did.
Artemis leaned her forehead against Jason's, eyelids fluttering, and slept there with him, their fingers interlaced.
A/N: There were a few more things I wanted them both to say, but neither of them happened to come up in the conversation. Ah, well. I'll save it in case I write more Arson
Constructive criticism always welcome!