Paralysis

By TheLostMaximoff

Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. R/R. This is kinda inspired by a lot of fanart I've seen on tumblr so props to those of you who have done stuff like this.

The door slams behind her. She doesn't pay attention to it nor does she mind the emptiness of the apartment. Artemis Crock is a horrible liar. This was made apparent to her when she tried to deceive her teammates five years ago concerning the identity of her parentage. It was further confirmed when she infiltrated The Light. Artemis isn't the kind of girl to not display her emotions. Whether she's angry, sad, or occasionally happy it's on display for all to see. So when she pretends that being alone in the apartment she once shared with Wally doesn't bother her, she's really just lying to herself.

The mission was a difficult one. To make matters worse, she froze. She's been doing that lately, spacing out during missions. Sometimes, she swears she can see Wally or hear his voice. When she does see him for even the faintest of seconds, she completely freezes and forgets what she's doing. It's almost gotten her killed more than once and tonight . . . it almost got Bart killed too. She can't take it anymore.

Artemis heads into the bathroom and splashes some cold water on her face. She looks at the spot on the sink where Wally once kept his toothbrush and toothpaste because he couldn't be a civilized adult and put things away. She glares at herself in the mirror and it happens again. She catches the flicker of movement behind her and sees his face for a single second. She hears his voice in her ear, barely above a whisper and yet she can hear it loud as anything. He's trying to say something but she can't make it out because it's too fast for her to catch it. Artemis feels the rage that comes with grief and the glass of the mirror shatters with one punch. The pain in her hand snaps her back to reality and just like that Wally is gone again.

"Please just stop," she whispers to herself because she feels like someone's watching her.

The fractured reflection of her face stares back at her. There are bags under her eyes and her face is haggard. She hasn't been sleeping well and it's starting to show. Maybe that's what's wrong with her. Maybe it's just hallucinations from sleep-deprivation. Maybe this damn apartment is haunted by Wally's ghost. Maybe . . . maybe he's still alive somehow and he . . .

"Stop," she says to herself because she can't keep lying to herself by thinking that he's still alive.

In the mechanical motion of someone who's done it too many times, she opens the medicine cabinet and takes out a roll of gauze. The knuckles of her Tigress costume are padded but she's still bleeding a little from where she punched the mirror. Artemis pulls off her glove and winds the gauze around her injured wrist. Once her task is done, she returns to the bedroom that she and Wally once shared. There are still some photos of them on the nightstand, the ones that she can't bring herself to get rid of. She was lucky enough to get rid of that damn dog without becoming a complete mess. The pictures though . . . if she gets rid of them then it makes it real. It's proof that he's really gone and she can't bring herself to do that just yet.

Move. It was the word she had shouted to Bart tonight when he had tried to save her and almost got hurt in the process. It's the word that everyone has been telling her to do since Wally's death. Move. Move out of the apartment. Move on. Move. That's what Wally always did though. Wally moved so fast that he couldn't slow down for anything except for her. Then the one time he didn't move fast enough, he died. Ever since that day, Artemis can't move. She freezes when she's in the field, becomes so paralyzed by the grief that she can't think of doing anything. When she freezes like that, she sees him. For even a second, she sees him and he keeps trying to say something to her. She could never understand him when he talked while moving at super speed. She got better at it over the years but this time he's talking way too fast.

"Please just tell me what you want," she begs the empty room. "Wally, please."

She feels the hairs on the back of her neck stand up and then she sees him again. She sees him running through the room and she hears his voice in her ear just like she has before. This time though, he's slow enough that she can understand what he's trying to tell her.

"Move"

The impact of the word punches her in the gut. It makes her crumple to the floor and put her head in her hands. It makes her sob uncontrollably because it's the only thing he wants her to do and she can't do it. She's stuck. She's frozen. She's so paralyzed by her grief that she can't move on because moving on means forgetting the one person in her life who really loved her.

"I can't," sobs Artemis. "I'm sorry but I just can't do it."