Disclaimer: Young Justice © DC / Warner Bros. - Full disclaimer on my profile.
Summary: Artemis gets a small, wonderful taste of what it means to be someone's hero. / Oneshot; gen; post-"Insecurity".
A/N: I think I've been wanting to write this ever since "Insecurity" aired. I just love the idea that Cissie starts to hero-worship Artemis, and Arty deserves appreciation. So.
(I'd like to note that I'm still a little clueless when it comes to Cissie, unfortunately. I've done my research and tried my best, but I wholeheartedly apologise for any errors I've made in her characterisation.)
We Are Shining
All it took was a swift boot to the head to diffuse the hostage situation - after a knee to the groin, of course, sending the perpetrator crashing to the floor and clutching his tender areas. He now laid unconscious on the ground. Two of his teeth rested next to his cheek.
Artemis looked at him for a second to make sure that he wasn't going to get up again, before nocking another arrow into her bow (after all, one could never be certain that a mentally-off-kilter kidnapper of children did not have an accomplice). The police searchlights danced across the grimy window, annoyingly bright; Artemis could hear the megaphone-magnified baritone of a police officer, requesting information. With Green Arrow across the city and dealing with Cupid, it had fallen to his sidekick ("Partner," Artemis would aggressively correct the reporters every time they referred to her as such) to save the children he'd stolen. This did not fill Star City's law enforcement team with confidence. What did she need to do to earn some appreciatory press around here, lift a car off of some screaming orphans?
Pushing away the surge of annoyance, Artemis came to the window and waved a hand, signalling that the situation was under control. She doubted that this would ease their anxiety, but Artemis didn't linger to try and discern their reaction, instead heading for the door that lead to the bathroom of the dilapidated house.
The aged wood splintered easily beneath her foot; her entrance was met with juvenile screams. Oh, great idea, Artemis. Always had a way with kids, haven't you?
She silently cursed her lack of sensitivity as the trembling huddle of kids - about seven boys and girls, ranging from ten to five years old, from the look of them - scrambled back, bumping against the wall tiles of the far corner and knocking a few down with flailing elbows, staring at Artemis with fear-stricken faces. The moonlight was murky, the children in half-darkness - so she could only imagine how she must appear to them now, an armed silhouette crashing the door down. There were no more assailants in this room, so the weapon hadn't a use right then, anyway. Slowly so as not to startle the children further, Artemis replaced the smokescreen arrow in her quiver, collapsed her compound bow, knelt slightly and held her palms up as a peace offering.
"It's okay," she said quietly. "It's okay. I'm...I'm one of the good ones. I work with Green Arrow. You..." She swallowed. Against the kidnapper, she'd been in her element, but now? "...you know, the hero? He, uh, wears green. And...and uses arrows. Like me."
The children didn't move for a moment. Then, one of the eldest-looking, a young, blonde girl, stretched her neck to raise her head above the group. In the low light, it took Artemis a moment to realise that the expression on her pale, angular face was not one of terror.
"You're Artemis," she whispered reverently.
Artemis blinked. "U-um...yeah. That's me. See? Good guy." The police officer was yelling into his megaphone again - though she couldn't make out the muffled words, the tone was impatient. "We need to get you guys out of here." The children released small gasps, withdrawing farther. "No, it's okay! The...the bad guy's gone. He won't hurt you. Promise."
Suddenly, one of the young boys lets out a sob; he breaks off of the huddle and stumbled towards Artemis, throwing his small arms around her leg and burying his damp face into her knee.
Like floodgates opening, half of the children burst out crying, a cacophony of wails, tears that they must have been holding back for fear of inciting the madman's wrath bursting free. Without warning, Artemis' legs were all-of-a-sudden swamped by toddlers; she waved her arms to steady herself as the rush of little starfish hands and desperate faces almost toppled her over, and then stood stunned as they clung to her, like dying men to a lifeline. Mouth hanging open, she shifted her gaze from them to the three eight-to-ten-year-olds hanging back, who regarded her with awe.
The blonde girl's visible admiration shined the most brightly.
The police were looking after the children, who'd been swaddled in shock blankets. Their families were enjoying tearful reunions with their children. The kidnapper was cuffed in the back of a police car. Her communicator buzzed: time to rendezvous with Ollie at S.T.A.R. Labs. Fine by her. Artemis' work was done here, and frankly, she was tired of the mixed messages that the officers were sending her way.
Artemis turned just as she began to retreat further into the shadows of the alleyway - it was the blonde girl, who'd evidently slipped away from the mass of civilians and officers still gathered near the building to chase after her, a shock blanket still draped over her.
The awkwardness from before settled upon Artemis again; she shifted on the balls of her feet, but it seemed that the girl also felt it, hunching over her shoulders, gripping her elbows and rested her brown gaze on Artemis' navel instead of her eyes. "...Cissie."
"That's me. C-Cissie King-Jones." Cissie cleared her throat nervously and straightened, speaking more strongly now. "You saved my dad. From that...that spider-man. Thank you."
The Black Spider? Despite herself, a small blush began to creep across Artemis' cheeks. She shrugged in an attempt at nonchalance. "Uh, all in a days work, I guess. But...you're welcome."
"My mom's been teaching me to use a bow. I used to hate it. But..." Cissie glanced up to Artemis' face, then to her quiver, then away bashfully. "I guess it's not so bad. You look really cool, with that bow. You're really good at it." Cissie's fingers tightened around the edges of her blanket. "Do you think I could get that good...?"
The green-clad archer was at a loss for words. She opened her mouth, then closed it. Then opened her mouth - then shut it once more, vaguely resembling a goldfish in the action. Artemis glanced back at the crowd for a moment, where a man stood at the back, watching Cissie and Artemis with a look of shock (he did look vaguely familiar, and the family resemblance between him and Cissie was visible). The girl was still standing there, embarrassed.
Artemis knelt down and placed a tentative hand on Cissie's shoulder, offering a small, hesitant smile. Cissie was surprised enough to momentarily forget her embarrassment.
"Look...Cissie," Artemis answered slowly, looking slightly to Cissie's left. "My dad made me do things I didn't want to, too."
Cissie's eyes widened. "Is Green Arrow your dad...?"
Artemis snorted. I wish. "No. My dad's much grumpier." This elicited a tiny, amused grin from Cissie, so Artemis assumed that she was saying the right things. Artemis reached back and removed her bow - after a moment's deliberation, she held it out. Cissie forgot how to breathe. Gingerly, she took it from the archer, balancing it on both hands as if it were priceless. "The point is, this bow was one of the few choices I made for myself as a kid. I didn't do it because my dad wanted me to, but because I wanted to. Don't practice archery because your mom wants you too." Artemis paused. "You don't have to do it because of me, either. Do it because you want to. Do you?"
Cissie watched Artemis' bow for a minute, bouncing it slightly in her hands. After giving Artemis a look asking for permission, she held it out in front of her with one hand and stretched the string taut with the other, closing an eye, pretending to aim at a nearby trashcan (Artemis immediately noticed that she had a good stance and a steady hand, even at her young age). Cissie lowered the bow. "I don't like the way Mom pushes me. But I like the bow. I want to do it."
Artemis stood behind Cissie, studying her a moment, then gently adjusted her arms and shoulders. "A little better. You could be really good. Just don't let her push you too hard, okay?"
Cissie nodded dazedly. In her ear, Artemis' communicator came to life again.
"Artemis? Where are you? Are you okay?"
Artemis put a finger to the comm. "I'm fine, GA. Had to take care of something. Give me five minutes." To Cissie: "I've got to go. Green Arrow's on my case." A thought struck her - she took an arrow from her quiver. Tongue between her teeth, she fiddled with the smokescreen mechanism at the blunt end (where, ordinarily, an arrowhead would be) for a few seconds, sabotaging it (a puff of dark smoke burst upwards and drifted away). She traded the bow in Cissie's hand for the arrow. "Here, keep it." The corner of her mouth twitched upwards. "As a souvenir."
Artemis turned away and fired a grapple gun from her belt, launching herself into the Star City sky. When she looked back, Cissie clutched the arrow to her chest with pure joy in her face. Warmth bloomed in Artemis' chest.
"Relax, Ollie, I'm coming. You dealt with Cupid?"
"Sure. Just another crazy fangirl with, uh, special ops training. Some people are just crazy-obsessed. This isn't the sort of thing I want to be inspiring in people."
Artemis smirked, landing on the rooftop and taking off towards S.T.A.R. Labs at a sprint. "I don't know, having a fan isn't so bad."