Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. R/R.
There have been too many times when Artemis Crock thought she was going to die. For a long time, she was fine with death. Life wasn't exactly kind to her and death would have been a mercy when compared to life with her father. Wally changed that. It took her months to admit that to herself and to him. When Wally died, Artemis tried to keep reminding herself that life could go on without him. She's had an even more difficult time convincing herself of that.
This whole hero thing never really worked for Artemis. Maybe it was just some act of rebellion against her family and especially her father. Most kids get tattoos or piercings but Artemis and her family were never that normal. So maybe that's what made her dress up in that costume and fight crime. Spite works as a good motivator but she soon learned that love makes an even better one. Now, Artemis doesn't know what drives her.
There have been too many times when Artemis Crock has had moments that force her to look back at the choices she's made. Self-reflection and near-death experiences go hand-in-hand and she's had enough of both to last a lifetime. She thinks at this point that she can add her current situation to this list. Members of the League of Shadows have her pinned to the floor. Ra's al Ghul stands before her with the air of smugness and superiority he wears so well. He knew that she would come. When people learn that The Demon's Head is immune to death's sting, they're very quick to bargain with him and learn his secrets.
"I see you decided to keep that costume," notes Ra's in reference to the Tigress costume that Artemis now wears. "I'm glad you at least disposed of that bow. It's such a cumbersome and clunky weapon when compared to a blade. Wouldn't you agree, Miss Crock?"
"I came to talk," says Artemis. "How are you alive?"
"A question many ask and never receive an answer to," replies Ra's. "Ubu, you may allow her to rise but keep her restrained. I have learned not to underestimate children."
Ubu motions to the other Shadows and they do as Ra's commands, hauling Artemis to her feet and keeping her arms locked behind her back. She came to this townhouse here in Paris the instant she learned that Ra's al Ghul was alive and in the city. Years ago, Artemis saw the man die and yet he looks as healthy as ever. She wants to know why because maybe there's still a chance to bring Wally back.
Bart would be ashamed of her right now. He wears the colors of Kid Flash so proudly and tries so hard to honor Wally's memory. Sometimes Artemis would look at Wally and wonder what it was like having a family legacy worth carrying on. She misses him. She's tried to be strong and tough like always but the rest of the team can see it. She's starting to crack, the grief really starting to set in. She can't take it anymore, can't stand the pain that keeps consuming her little by little. She told Wally that there would always be a world to save. There's no saving her world anymore, not if he's no longer a part of it.
"Please," she begs and it's a tone she rarely ever uses with anyone. "I lost someone . . . someone important. I need him back."
"You managed to deceive me and the rest of The Light years ago," says Ra's. "Such cunning and temerity have earned you my respect. This man must be very important to you for you to risk your life in coming here. To confront me is to invite death."
"I'd do anything for him," states Artemis and the defiance in her eyes is plain for all to see.
"Including making a deal with the devil," realizes Ra's. "Again, I admire your boldness. I will require his body if I am to revive him."
Artemis feels her heart sink into her stomach and she wants to throw up. There was never a body. Barry told her that Wally just vanished. She can't believe that he could just disappear. She remembers how his super speed made it seem like he could teleport. One minute, they would be in separate rooms and the next she would be lying in bed with him. She would blink and he would be back with Chinese food from China or dinner from some other corner of the world. Now when Artemis blinks, he's still gone and she knows he's never coming back.
"He was vaporized," says Artemis solemnly and this time there's nothing but hollow sadness in her eyes.
"My condolences," apologizes Ra's. "Before I discovered the secret to immortality, I lost my wife. She was my great love and though I've lived lifetimes I haven't met anyone who was her equal. I am sorry for your loss, Miss Crock."
"I don't want your pity," Artemis snarls at him and it's all she can do to resist the urge to break her captors' grip and tear this man's throat out.
"As a token of sympathy, you are free to go," continues Ra's as if Artemis never spoke. "Your family has served the League of Shadows well, Artemis. Should you ever wish it, you always have a home among us."
She stares at him and thinks about his words. This hero thing never really works for her. There's always a world to save. There will always be someone trying to destroy it and this sick dance will just keep going and going. Saving the world is for people like Bart and like Wally. Maybe it was stupid to hope for something more. If she hadn't have pushed them both back into this insanity, Artemis would be in Palo Alto with Wally right now. It's her fault that he's dead. She tried to be something more than what she is and he paid the price for her defiance.
"I work alone now," she tells him before turning and leaving the building.
She refuses to let any of them see that she's crying. She's done with playing hero, done with hoping she can have a better life. She spent too long stubbornly clinging to that hope and Wally died because of it.
"I'm sorry," she whispers as she pulls out a picture of Wally tucked under the neck of her costume and stares at it. "You wanted us to come back here when there wasn't a world to save. There's not one anymore."
Artemis makes up her mind then and there that she's not going back to the team. It's only going to cause her to have to watch more of her friends die. What she said to Ra's was true. She works alone now. No more Leagues, no more teams, no more playing hero. She wanted distance and that's what she's going to get. Wally's not the only one who can just disappear without saying goodbye.
As she walks the darkened streets of Paris, Artemis Crock tries to figure out where she will go next. She will survive, of course, because that's the curse people like her have to live with. Good people, world-saving people like Wally, die young and people like Artemis live way longer than they should. In the end, they're just too stubborn to die and the good people end up paying for it instead. That's the trade-off that makes the world balance out. Artemis knows that no matter how much she may wish otherwise, no amount of bargaining is going to bring Wally back.