A/N: So, this is AU... kind of. I mainly just changed the reason she joined the Justice League-thought it'd be kind of cool if she failed some test because she's too compassionate (secretly). :P
I may continue this. Or maybe not. XD
Substantiation of Villains
She's a fifth generation Villain. Her parents, grandparents, and three greats- before them took pleasure in destroying cities, breaking regimes, and tearing Heroes to bits. It's the family business, after all. Even her older sister partook in the christening.
Artemis stares miserably at the test results, dread sitting like a hot coal in her stomach.
No one has ever failed the Substantiation of Villains, at least not in her family. It shouldn't have been that hard—there are three sections to the exam. She can't have failed the physical: her arrows fly with deadly accuracy, and she hit the targets to prove it. Maybe the intelligence portion? Multiple choice has never been a strong suit…
"Those your scores?" Jade asks, dancing around Artemis to snatch the paper. Artemis yanks them away at the last second, stuffing them into her bag.
"No. It's just a letter," she replies, gritting her teeth.
Jade folds her arms, her Cheshire mask dangling from one hand. She's about to head into work, about to contribute her services to the Injustice Society, something Artemis should have been doing in a month's time.
Now, she just doesn't know.
"You're hiding something," Jade remarks.
Artemis can feel her accusing glare and straightens indignantly, "You're paranoid. Don't you have work?"
"I guess some of us have that responsibility," she drawls in reply, sliding the mask over her face. The painted smile of a malicious cat stares at Artemis, mocking her, reminding her of everything she can't have now. Artemis clenches her fists and watches her sister leave. The letter is crumpled in her hand, burning a hole in her heart.
"Honey, there's someone at the door for you," Paula shouts, and Artemis peeks around the corner. A man in a polished suit is standing there, his hair gelled to perfection and a pair of dark shades covering his eyes.
Artemis is immediately suspicious.
"I got it, Mom," she tells Paula, stepping around her mother's wheelchair and into the hallway. The man scans her, mouth set in a thin line. He doesn't look happy. She crosses her arms behind her back and fingers the knife strapped there. "What do you want?"
"Artemis Crock?" he asks.
"My name is Bruce Wayne."
Batman. Artemis stares. Freaking Batman has paid her a house call. Her grip tightens on the knife.
"What do you want?"
Batman doesn't seem to notice her tensing. He continues seamlessly, his tone neutral. "You failed the Substantiation of Villains."
Hearing it from Batman's mouth makes the truth worse, somehow. Artemis cringes, glaring up at him, this man who dares to intrude on her home, rub her face in the mud of her own failure. She contemplates knifing him down. It'd be easy. She could have it buried in his chest before he blinks.
Except that, oh yeah, he's Batman.
"So?" she sneers. Even she can hear the hopelessness beneath her words.
Batman's face is unforgiving, his eyes hidden behind those dark glasses, "You can't be a Villain now. The Injustice Society will never take you, despite your heritage. However, the Justice League has a proposition for you."
Artemis raises an eyebrow, fingers loosening around the knife's hilt.
She doesn't really have another option. When Batman comes to your house, you hear him out.
"What kind of proposition?"
Paula takes the news in stride. She's been out of the Villain game for years, and although Artemis doesn't think of her as good, per say, she's definitely not evil anymore. She drums her fingers on her wheelchair's armrest and stares at the test scores and finally looks at her daughter.
"Your morals wavered," she says.
Artemis bites her lower lip. She's a disappointment to the family name. She doesn't need her mother rubbing that in.
Paula sighs and drops the paper onto the nearby table. It's still mostly crumpled, but Artemis has smoothed the paper a hundred times now. The writing is almost unreadable, but she can still see the big red letters from across the room.
"The Justice League, you say? Your father won't be happy."
"Figured that one out."
Paula looks contemplative, "Still, they're right. The Injustice Society won't take you now."
Artemis thinks maybe her mother has a bit of that evil spirit left—she feels worse now than ever, her entire life building to the moment where she falls flat on her face. Her mother's dismissive remarks, the red lettering of her failure, the arrows she may never need again… They're all overwhelming. Artemis swallows hard to dispel the lump in her throat.
"What should I do?" she croaks, her voice thick with tears.
Paula blinks at her and says, "Join the Justice League, honey. A job's a job."
She leaves in the middle of the night with only a note by her mother's bedside. Her father only comes home sometimes, and Jade has her own place, but Artemis can't risk them seeing her. She hugs the darkness and slips through Gotham City's streets, a thin backpack holding only the possessions she needs, the quiver of arrows on top of those.
She goes to the address Batman gave her, a lone warehouse by the shipping district, and sneaks inside. There's a portal waiting right where he said, but her grip only tightens around her bow. This could still be a setup. Everything's been so surreal lately that she wouldn't be surprised.
But the portal takes her not into an ambush, but to an empty room. She glances at a nearby window and sees the ocean and a small town beyond it. She's not in Gotham anymore.
Artemis takes an arrow from her quiver and sets it, pulling the bowstring tight as she steps further into this foreign territory, this Hero territory.
"Hello?" she says, trying to keep quiet. The silence breaks anyway, her words echoing in a way she hates, bouncing down the hallways. She winces and backs against a wall, training her bow on the nearest entrance.
Nothing happens. No one comes.
She walks down the closest hallway, jumping at every noise, wound tight as her bowstring. The room she finds is a kitchen, gleaming and clean and joined with a living room. There's a person—
"Shit," she breathes. She draws the bowstring and trains an arrow on him. He turns and drops his plate. It shatters, the crash echoing like her voice did. She cringes, and in that moment the kid is gone.
And a second later, her bow is too.
The arrow clatters to the ground, but the kid is standing by the TV now, examining the bow. He narrows his eyes at her and says, "As far as assaults go, this one's pretty pathetic." Then he snaps her precious weapon over his leg.
"No!" she yells, surging forward. The carcass of her beautiful bow is dropped as he raises his hands in defense, and she throws the first punch, aiming to break his nose. He ducks out of the way, kicking her back. She rolls, her stomach aching from the hit, and swipes her own leg. He trips. She pins him to the ground.
For a breath, neither move. She stares at him staring at her, and her tongue twists. He has these green eyes that are almost as vibrant as his red hair. His freckles look like a paintbrush flicked him wrong, splattering all over the nose she'd tried to break.
"Well, well," someone drawls, and the kid jerks his head to the right. Artemis keeps her eyes on him. Never take your eyes from an opponent. "What a compromising situation."
"Get this bitch off me," the kid growls.
She presses her forearm against his neck, cutting off his air supply, "Who are you?"
"Who the hell are you?" he chokes back, glaring at her. She can feel his muscles straining, moving to break her hold, and she shifts to counteract the motion.
Then someone throws a pillow at her, and she's so taken aback that she looks at the offender. The kid throws her back and leaps up, disappearing again in a blink. Artemis finds him standing beside the newcomer, a guy with dark hair and… sunglasses.
The new guy's a spitting image of Batman, and it doesn't take a genius to figure out who he is. Artemis looks back to the redhead kid, recalls how fast he moved, and puts that together too.
"Robin," she says, climbing to her feet. "And the Flash."
"Kid Flash," the redhead snaps, rubbing his neck.
Robin flashes her a grin. "Welcome to Mount Justice."
A/N: So, what do you think? Fun? Weird? Review and let me know! :)