A/N: Alright, I had a short quote prompt for myself and it didn't have dialogue tags. So this could be entirely against my original idea for this fic, which was forgotten. And here goes nothing. Set almost directly after "Revelation".
Disclaimer: Don't own YJ.
Which Brings Us to Today
She wrung her hair out and took a towel to it again. So much hair meant it clung onto that much more water, and the droplets ran down her arms as she tried to rid herself of the moisture. Artemis shook her arm off, heaved a sigh, and continued to work through her matted blonde locks.
There was a slight knock outside the door, that made her freeze. Some instinct made her reach for her bow and quiver, neither of which were anywhere nearby- both had been left in the training room to dry off after being soaked for the third mission in a row. So she tuned her senses acutely towards the door. Logic said that no threat would knock, but her body was on high alert.
"You in there, Artemis?"
She snorted. Wally. "Yeah, Kid Mouth." She laid the towel around the back of her neck and over her shoulders. She picked up a ponytail holder and put it around her wrist so she could soon lift the dark gold mass away from her neck.
"Dressed?" he asked for clarification.
She was already in her sports bra and her spandex that layered under her uniform's pants. Basically dressed. Dressed enough to be comfortable in front of Wally, anyways. "Uh-huh." She reached for her mask to fold it away with the rest of her uniform. "Whaddaya need?"
The spunky redhead poked his nose around the corner to make sure she was telling the truth about her wardrobe. (She could always run out screaming he was a pervert and everyone would most likely believe her, he wasn't exactly shy about his adoration of women. But he hated Artemis, so pfft.) He then moved in enough to lean against the lockers that were just to her left and almost across from the open entry; his arms, one imprisoned in a cast, were folded loosely across his chest. "I'm just really confused about what's going on with you."
She paused from tending to her uniform, which was folded with almost military precision. Her grey-blue gaze found him and she noted his expression: puzzled but calm. Artemis turned her full attention to Wally. "What's that supposed to mean?" she asked, trying to keep her defenses up, but by then, her curiosity was piqued and there was no going back.
His lips were far from their usual grin; instead, they displayed almost a grimace. Not of pain, no, but of confusion. "Why are you being so nice to me?" he asked aloud after a long pause. "I've only ever been a jerk to you."
Artemis...had no clear answer for that. She'd noticed it on some level, the fact that she wasn't always screwing with him anymore (which entailed less eating his food and less smacking him upside the head) and that she had a certain level of respect for the hero that he lived up to be. But she didn't see how she was being nicer to him. She just wasn't being a pain in the ass anymore. "I don't understand..."
His brows furrowed. "Artemis, you stopped in the middle of a battle to help patch up my arm. If that isn't you being nice, you must make cakes for people you despise."
Wally continued softly but quickly, "I mean, you gave me your rebreather. I know it's a stupid little 'we're a team, don't need you being injured, blah blah blah' thing, but it means a lot to me." And his eyes were full of absolute sincerity.
She had to take a minute, put together her thoughts. There were a lot of stupid little things that go into why she'd been nicer to him. But it came down to one simple answer. "I've seen you almost die a couple of times."
Before they'd even met, before she even considered being part of a team, she had saved his life. He could have died in Amazo's arms right there, crushed to death. And she could feel the fear rushing through her veins just at the memory. Maybe the fear was new, maybe the rush wasn't, but that was the first time he'd almost died.
Then the Helmet of Fate. He was just a prick back then, but he was still a teammate and it more so came down to her feeling responsible for him. Like she did now. Hearing tonight that he might not have gotten it off, that threw her for a loop. She remembered the flip flops her stomach did at the thought of Wally's stupid jokes and stupid smile being consumed by that helmet thing. And the thought crossed her mind that nothing in the world would be worth losing him.
And then in Bialya, they almost died. Together, at least. The explosion that rocked their hideaway. She had no feelings for him, didn't even know who he was. And Hell, she could've killed him on the spot without question just to please Dear Ole Dad. And then he almost starved to death. Her heart skipped a beat at the memory. That was a bad day for the team in general, but she felt especially bad. Wally could've just been gone in an instant. And he was a pretty damn good guy.
But it was in the cave itself that really tossed the worst of her mean spirit into the shredder. Because she could see him drowning. She watched as the water engulfed him and tried to swallow him up and steal him away from the rest of the world, from her; and she wouldn't let that happen. So she threw herself at them, hoping she could save the whole team, hoping she could save him. So she took her one shot and tried to save his life, their lives, because she needed to. Artemis could not watch them die.
Artemis couldn't bear the thought of Wally dying.
Wally had taken a moment to compute this through that scientific blockhead of his and was saying, "Which brings us to today, where almost watching me die means you'll risk yourself to save me."
She took a deep breath and released an even bigger sigh. "You're not a bad person, Wally. You're a pain in the ass, but you're not terrible." She folded her arms tightly across her chest; one hand squeezed the other arm's bicep. "You're a hero. Isn't that all that matters sometimes? We're here to help others, which means we need to put up with our teammates. Even if they're kind of a jerk."
He blinked a couple times, finally feeling the pieces of the puzzle snap into place, understanding how this new girl operates. She wasn't all bad either. He actually... respected her. And more than that, he appreciated her. Especially after everything she'd done for him just on this mission alone. "Thanks, Artemis."
"It's what teammates do, Wally," she said softly as she watched him right himself and head for the doorway. She had moved to pull her hair back until he looked her way one last time.
And she really hadn't expected him to say anything, but he did. "Your hair looks nice when it's down." And there was a familiar smile on those lips, and his freckled cheeks seemed so much bigger. And then he was gone.
She still pulled it up into the ponytail. Because who would she be if she listened to that little prick? "Kid Dork," she laughed loudly as he departed.
But she really did care. And she never wanted to see him die. Never again.
A/N: Now, in order, the next episode would be "Failsafe". Not to mention "Endgame" in YJ:I. Which made it really hurt to write this. Anyways, leave a review, thanks for reading!