She's always had an uncanny sense for his bolt- holes.

It puts Dick out a bit. He knows the city as well or better as anyone; he may not live there anymore, but Gotham had been his playground for a decade. The Robins know the city like the back of their hands, and Dick knows Jason, but the kid's a prodigious hider. Dick and Bruce can find him, sure, in short order, and Alfred's even quicker if Jason's in the Mansion or on its grounds, but Artemis is the fastest and Dick can't figure out why.

She laughs when he pouts at her.

"Leave it alone, Detective." she advises, slapping the back of her hand against his arm. "I got him."


Artemis sighs internally. The kid had really wanted some time to himself; there's only one way in or out, she can see three boobytraps just from where she's standing, and everything is cramped.

But Artemis Crock has run far worse obstacle courses than this, and so she collapses her bow

making no effort to be quiet, because this is their version of ringing the doorbell

and tucks it into place on her belt, puts a hand to the top of her arrows to make sure they're all tucked in, and crawls inside.

Oh, very nice, she notes, steel- grey eyes running along the makeshift tunnel. A very inventive take on a pitfall trap, several snares, triggers she doesn't have the time to examine, and since when does Robin carry kunai?

He's huddled in the back, small; and he'd have looked pitiful except that the eyes glinting back at her are dangerous. Artemis sees their like in the mirror every day.

"Ugh, go away." complains Jason, and while most people wouldn't have picked up on the trace of tears in the gruff tone Artemis Crock is not most people.

"No." she says simply, and draws herself up in front of him, sitting crosslegged. She's giving him space, but their little enclave is so small an outside observer would hardly be able to tell.

He doesn't ask why she came; to do so would be an insult to both of them and an invitation to the types of talks they tend to avoid. Artemis doesn't press him; she checks the wall, irregular as it is, for pointy things and, satisfied, leans back against it. She savors the silence a moment

between Dick and Wally, God knows she gets little enough of it

before divesting herself of her quiver. She feels Jason's interest but doesn't acknowledge it; Artemis goes through, checking the fletching on each arrow, checking the tips, taking her time. She rotates the arrows, inspecting them; if Jason leans forward a bit, if she moves the arrows in such a way that he gets a good look at each one, well, neither of them are particularly inclined to comment on it.

"I just-" he starts, and Artemis takes her ostentatious examination down a notch but doesn't abandon it entirely. Instead of focusing entirely on the arrows, she darts glances up at him every now and again, making eye contact before turning her gaze back to her weapons.

"I wish she was better." Jason confesses, tone just above a whisper. "I live in that giant mansion and Bruce gives me so much, and it's..."

"It's all you ever wanted." Artemis says quietly.

"Yeah." She knows the green eyes are looking beyond the wall; Jason is looking at Crime Alley. "And I try. I tried so hard, and I still try, but..."

He shakes his head. "She won't let me help her."

"Jason." Artemis puts the arrows away, sets the quiver aside, and holds his gaze. "It's not something you can do for her. Your mom knows you're there, knows you want to help, knows you love her. You can't force her to get help."

"I know that." he snarls, exploding from his huddled position and starting to dismantle the traps. "But it just-"

"-sucks." she finishes for him. "Yeah. It does."

"... Dick send you?"

"Nah." Artemis crooks a grin at him, and though he may or may not have seen it she knows he felt it. "Came on my own. Although-"

"Alfred made chili dogs?" he interrupts.

"If he doesn't M'gann will. Now get your butt outta here," she orders, giving it a light shove.

"That's child abuse!" Jason snaps over his shoulder, but he's grinning.

"Pfft, if that's abuse I don't know what you'd call sparring." she retorts.

"I got ten points on you last time!"

"But I won." Artemis points out, and ruffles his hair as Robin dismantles the last of his traps and emerges into the alley. "C'mon, kid."

She lets him take point, not surprised when Jason elects to jump rooftops to the zeta tube.


She's not the only one who knows Jason. Artemis emerges from the tube to the sight of Robin, chili dog in one hand and a Batarang in the other, taking a ready stance and shrieking indignantly at the yellow and red blur that seems to have taken an entire platter of chili dogs for itself. M'gann and Dick are laughing; Kaldur looks like he's trying to gauge the exact moment when intervention will become neccessary; Connor is stuffing his face with one of the most radiantly pleased expressions Artemis has ever seen upon it; Zatanna glances over, eyes sparkling, and with a whisper has her hot dog rise up out of its bun and waggle suggestively in welcome.

Artemis laughs. Wonderland, she thinks fondly, and it's all she ever wanted.


So I have this headcanon that Artemis and Jason were totally bros- there's this unspoken Children of Gotham bond between them. And Dick would try not to be jealous (and usually succeed), but Artemis would slyly and indirectly tease him about it anyway... and this bond will only strengthen when the two of them come back from the dead ('cause no, shut up, it's totally happening).

"But Jason, I thought it was Robins Together, Robins Forever!"

"Nope, sorry bro. Resurrection trumps Robins."

"Artemis wasn't even resurrected, we faked her death-"

"OH SHUT UP NIGHTWING YOU DON'T EVEN GO HERE."

...

Going to bed now.