i am so sorry for not updating sooner. i wrote half of it right away and wrote the rest in snatches over the next few days. like, i was planning on something else entirely and this chapter is nothing like what i planned out? and i had to completely scrap like half of it? Hope you like it, though.

this was superheavily inspired by J. Cole's Power Trip.


relationships can be messy

Artemis glanced over her shoulder. There was a distance between them of a few feet. "You can shower at my place if you want." This should be alright. Even during their short little reconnaissance mission earlier they took care to maintain space. It had been months, after all since the talk in the restaurant; the two had reconstructed their friendship from bottom up, rediscovering ways to be close without bordering intimacy and pushing past the tension.

Richard nodded and she led him inside the apartment. For a heart-stopping second she felt him brush against her back. Then he passed her and she could breathe again.

"I'll go first?" He called out to her, heading into her room's bathroom. The bathroom was perhaps the softest colored room in the house: a gentle lavender brushed in the shape of clouds across the walls and cockle-shell shaped fixtures. Her shower curtain was a dandelion yellow- she had purchased it when Wally was still missing to remind herself, but she no longer needed the reminder. He had come back – studying now and trying to make a life for himself without the superhero moniker. Wally was waiting for her to give up being a hero.

"Sure." Artemis put his dropped uniform into the washer, wondering briefly if it needed to be dry-cleaned before pressing the start button. A thought occurred to her: He doesn't know where the towels are.

And so she headed down the hall to the closet – grabbed the bluest of them and headed towards the bathroom. She knocked. "Did you need a towel?"

"That'd be nice." He sounded slightly hoarse.

"Coming in, then."

Artemis cleared her throat as she walked in, caught sight of herself in the mirror. Her face was flushed "Would you rather me leave it on the toilet or-"

His voice was gentle. "Artemis." And the curtain had been pulled aside and he was staring at her with his hair messily just-rinsed. The steam smelled of roses.

She couldn't look away. There was that pull again, almost tangible; her feet moved forward. His thumb brushed her lips. She closed her eyes, and for a moment they breathed each other. Her nipples stiffened. Artemis peeled off her Tigress uniform, wincing as it rolled over cuts and bruises and kicked her suit to the corner of the bathroom.

Things between them were broken.

Artemis stepped to him over the threshold of the tub and slipped her hand into Dick's tired grip. The closer the two of them were, the harder it was to maintain self-control.

Their kisses were furious and inexorable. Unspoken words, questions were exchanged as their lips met. (Why didn't you follow me? Why didn't you stay? I loved you. I loved you.) She missed their particular closeness.

He slipped his fingers in her, the other hand pulling on her nipple. "Artemis," he whispered. "Are you sure?"

"Yes," she all but breathed, tongue moving in circles on his pulse. She bit his neck and sucked, riding his palm. He stroked and stroked and stroked and – slapped her ass and –

Artemis sighed against his lips as she reached orgasm, clutching at his hair. Dick held her close, his erection pressing against her. He murmured, kissing her shoulder.

She panted. "Missed you, too, Grayson." Her joints had somehow gelatinized, and she fell slack in his arms.

Dick smiled and set her down gently on the far end of the tub and knelt, switching the shower to the spigot and plugging the bath. Warm water slowly climbed the edge. "Sit up for a sec."

Artemis tried to rise but wobbled, legs still unsteady. She could even feel the weakness in her calves. She grinned at him. "You're going to have to move me."

Dick pulled her onto him, moving slowly inside of her at first with his finger rubbing her clit. She shivered. He became more frantic, desperate almost, like he wanted to lose himself in her after so long. It had been so long.

She began moaning and he bit her shoulder. He pounded harder, arms wrapped around her stomach and hand over her tit, squeezing. Artemis felt dazed, watching the bathwater slosh over the edge. Their voices bounced off of the walls; her ears rang with them. He pushed her forward up against the wall and slammed into her, and all she could feel was the cold of the tile against her nipples and the needy thrust of his penis.

He finished in her, sucking her neck and holding her breasts. Shuddering, he sighed, nuzzling her. "I really missed you, Artie."

They sat back in the tub, washing each other for real this time. Gentleness was important after the rough nature of their reunion. Dick spoke up after a while. "Let's get out of here," he said. "You're pruney." He pressed a kiss to her forehead.

"Wouldn't be pruney if you hadn't fingered me." She groused, leaning forward to drain the tub.

"Wouldn't have had an orgasm if I hadn't fingered you."

And his lips curled into a smirk and she glowered. "Alright, alright," she muttered, "give me a minute."

So he toweled himself off, chuckling once more, and left her to collect her bearings. "I'll be in the bedroom. Can I wear one of your robes?"

Artemis nodded her assent and leaned against the tiled wall. Bruises aside, her muscles were blissfully relaxed. The small cuts from their excursion still smarted, but were insignificant. She rose, dried herself, and braided her hair deftly. When she made her way out of the bathroom, she spotted him sitting on a chair in the corner, looking at the bed.

She walked over to him after rummaging through her wardrobe and putting on a cami and some boxers.

"Is that where he sleeps? The both of you?" Dick asked.

Artemis could hear the attempt at a casual tone in his voice.

"Yes, but…." She smoothed her fingers through Dick's still-wet hair. It had grown since she last saw him, reaching his shoulders now. "He doesn't see me that often."

"Busy with school?"

Artemis sighed. "Very. Working on his thesis right now. But we're drifting." Artemis could hardly blame him. Wally had his career plans mapped out; working as a physicist for Star Labs was his goal, a good one to have, especially with the company's past involving the team. Their paths seemed to diverge relentlessly. "I'm in a place where he can't really relate."

Dick leaned forward and rested his head against her stomach. He breathed a laugh and her stomach muscles tightened in response to the tickle. "I can hear it growling."

"Yeah, that's what happens when humans get hungry." She patted his cheek. "Come on. I'll feed you, too."

Dick stood. "What are we having?" he asked, wrapping an arm around her waist.

Artemis removed it and shot him a look. Slightly amused but mostly irritated. She started toward the kitchen. "Hot pockets, probably."

"Hot pockets? Really?"

"Yes, really. Do you feel like cooking? I don't. You kind of wore me out." She flicked on the lights and ushered him in, watching the way he moved and his light steps. He reminded her of a bird, at times.

Dick called from the living room, "While you're working so hard to prepare our dinner, I'm going to find a movie we can watch."

"I don't know about you, but I prefer sci-fi," said Wally's voice from the hallway.

Artemis' hands clenched. She took a breath. "How long have you been there?"

"Long enough. Why? Am I interrupting something?" Wally walked up behind Artemis, reaching around her to grab a hot pocket, "Too worn out, Artemis?"

"Shit," Dick said softly.

And Wally leaned back against the counter next to Artemis. "So. Why has Richard been biting your neck? Which is a euphemism for sex, by the way. How long have you been fucking?" He was met with tense silence. "How long has this been happening?"

"This is the first since – " she covered her mouth with her hand, half-horrified.

"Since? Since I came back? Ah," Wally grimaced with the slightest hint of anger. "So after that little mission you two just decided to- to... Was there even a mission?"

"Of course there was." Artemis failed to keep the edge of anger out of her voice.

Dick looked mournful in her undersized bathrobe. His tone was bitter. "This isn't her fault, Wally, she thought - "

"I don't fucking care right now. That's why you've been avoiding me? Feeling guilty?" Dick cast his eyes to the side, refusing to look at him. "I'll take that as a yes." Wally peeled back the wrapping over the hot pocket. He blew on his fingers to cool them. "I want you to leave, Richard."

"Wally, I – "

"If I meant anything to you at all then you need to leave. Now." The last word was a barked order. Artemis looked down at his hand; the knuckles were white with strain.

Dick eased into motion. His expression was incredibly pained.

Artemis called after him, "Your uniform is in the dryer."

Wally waited with Artemis, quietly munching on his food until he heard the front door slam shut.

All that was left was her, and Wally, and the unease between them. She closed the distance and held out her hand, but he turned away, grimacing.

Artemis pulled back. "I'm so sorry, Wally. I love him. I love you both."

"I'm sorry, too, beautiful. But, I don't care." The nickname hurt. And he patted her cheek, smoothed away a tear. "I'll sleep elsewhere for the night. We'll talk about this tomorrow or something."

"Alright. Be safe."

He kissed her lips, slow and angry and sad. It felt mechanical. It felt like a goodbye. He laughed bitterly. "You smell like sex."

He gathered his backpack and some clothes and left.

The silence in the apartment was more oppressive than ever.