You tell the waitress to give her five more minutes. For the sixth time. You sigh and drum your fingers on the café table. You didn't blame her for not showing up.
While she hasn't shown any hard feelings towards you or even said an unkind word to anyone (that was actually a little worrying), you suspect that she doesn't want to have anything to do with you. And why would she? You pretty much guilt tripped her into going undercover, which led to Wally going out in the field and he - no.
You grip the edge of the table so hard you think you've dented it. You've lost your mom, dad, and Jason. You should be used to losing people you love by now, but the thought of Wally being added to the body count kills you a little. You're going to feel guilty enough when – if the blonde shows up. You don't need to think about Wally's...predicament.
Yes, you do, says a nagging little voice in the back of your head. With what you're about to tell her, yes. You pinch the bridge of your nose and grip the little box burning a hole in your pocket. You still aren't sure if you should tell her; it will only rub salt on an open wound. And despite the woman's strong, calm front, you know she isn't dealing well with her loss.
But you had honestly thought that she'd meet you. Unfortunately for you, Artemis' time undercover as Tigress had improved her lying because she assured you that she'd be there. But here you are, sitting alone at a table, twiddling your fingers, avoiding the pitying looks from strangers, and looking very much like a stood up college boy.
An old man even claps you on the back and tells you that there are plenty of other girls out there, to which you blanch. It isn't that Artemis is ugly by any means, in fact, she is really quite beautiful. Before you noticed your best friend's obvious attraction toward the blonde, you had even harbored a little crush on the archer yourself. But that was long ago and Wally needed a spitfire much more than you did.
Spitfire. You exhale and pulled out the velvet, white box. You bite the inside of your cheek before shoving it back in your pocket. Wally asked you to have it for safekeeping, and as curious as you are, you think that Artemis should be the first one to see her ring.
Wally was planning on popping the question in Paris sometime before his girlfriend went undercover. Your stomach twists with guilt again. You consider asking M'gann to tell Artemis the news but quickly shoot down the idea.
It's your fault your friends aren't busy juggling school schedules and planning a wedding, you are going to explain to the spitfire why that is. You sling your favorite leather jacket over your shoulder and shoot an apologetic look towards the waitress as you walk through the glass doors.
After debating whether to sneak through a window or not, you hesitantly knock on the door to her new home. You immediately pray to any god listening that she'll be willing to open the door or so help you, you'll kick it down. You've gone through two long weeks of indecision and there is no way in hell you'll back out now.
You calculate that it'll take about twenty seconds for her to get from her bedroom to the door and then, at most, ten for her to decide whether to let him in or not. You also calculate that it'll take you a minute to hop in your car and drive away. So unless she doesn't recognize your black sports car, there really is no turning back.
You count up to twenty and suddenly your determination completely fades and leaves you standing partially behind a bush as though it could hide your 6'3" build. You brace yourself for anything between a raging blonde and a friendly smile when you reach thirty. And...
Your confidence plummets even more, but you managed to fumble out your wires. After expertly picking the cheap lock (you make a mental note to get her a better one), you quietly step into her home.
It isn't bad as far as Gotham houses go. Maybe a little cramped but other than that, you can't find anything wrong with it. You wince as you step on a particularly creaky board, then quietly chuckle at yourself. You're going to talk to her, not kidnap her. Although...
You freeze when you hear crying. As much as you need to give her Wally's final gift, you know she won't appreciate being caught in a moment of weakness. "Artemis?"
A choked back sob. "Dick?" Her voice is much hoarser than it usually is, and you wonder how long she's been crying.
You don't know whether to stay where you are, comfort her, or give her privacy. Thankfully, you don't have to ask. Artemis sobs again. "Oh my god, Dick. Please..."
She doesn't have to say any more, you're already racing up the stairs into her bedroom as soon as you hear your name.
It looks like a hurricane blew through the room. Boxes she has yet to unpack are knocked over or ripped, and clothes – Wally's clothes - are thrown all over. Pictures are scattered across the wood floors, and for a split second you're afraid that someone's attack her. Sportsmaster? Deathstroke? You know for a fact that the mercenary is after Artemis for her betrayal.
"Artemis?!" you yell.
You hear her muffled reply from the bathroom. You burst in and take in the scene. Artemis is sitting against the farthest wall, hugging herself with her left arm, and clutching something in her free hand. Her hair looks a little damp, and she's just in a far too big red and yellow jacket. You recognize it as Wally's. She looks so small and sad and so /not her/ that you could've honestly mistaken the girl for someone else entirely.
You quickly kneel next to her. "Are you okay?" And you mentally face palm because of course she isn't, you idiot.
She starts to nod, but then sees your expression and shakes her head instead. When you ask her what's wrong she opens her hand, and your heart stops. In it is a purple and white stick with a plus sign. You had to run to Walgreens and buy some for a particular scare with Zatanna, so you know what it means. Artemis is pregnant. You wonder if it's a bad time to show her the ring.
"How far along?" you get out.
She shrugs helplessly, and you're struck by how suddenly fragile she seems. You gently pick her up and carry her downstairs to the living room. After setting her on the couch, you mumble something about getting her something drink but really, you don't know what to think of all this.
You've just taken one step into the kitchen when you realize it. It feels like Connor and Kaldur are taking turns punching you in the gut. You stumble back and lean on the counter.
Artemis is pregnant. Wally was going to propose. They were going to get married. They were going to have a nice, little family of mini redheaded spitfires and blond speedsters. White picket fence and all, but none of that can ever happen because he's dead and it's. All. Your. Fault.
You gasp and your vision blurs with unshed tears. You punch the wall so hard it leaves a hole. Another thing to feel guilty about. One of your closest friends is going to have a baby and you've just made a hole in her new house.
You're shocked when you're cheeks feel wet. And to your dismay, more tears leek out and soon you're crying uncontrollably as though you're the one who lost the love of your life and the life you deserved. You feel hands rub your back and you hear Artemis' voice soothingly chant, "Shhh, its ok, Dick."
You clumsily tug out the dreaded box and hand it to her. You want to tell her you're sorry, that you regret ever asking for her help. How you know you should've left them alone to finish school and be happy and go to parties and be normal. You want to say that Wally loved her more than anything in the world, that she wasn't supposed to lose him ever, and that she was his own little spitfire. But words get caught in your throat so all that comes out is a garbled mess of choppy sentences.
You immediately stop trying to talk when she shakily opens the box and pulls out the silver ring her boyfriend made specially for her. The first thing you see is an emerald delicately carved into the shape of a crescent moon, and then you notice the tiny engraving on the band that says "To My Spitfire." A watery laugh escapes Artemis' lips when she reads it too.
"I never figured out what he meant by that," she confesses. And so you and Artemis spend the day sitting on the couch with her leaning against you, and you tell her all about Inza and Kent Nelson, how her speedster's feelings towards her started to change after Bialya, and then, finally, his reaction to her death in the failed simulation all those years ago. The irony of her "death" then and Wally's doesn't escape either of you.
But for now, you'll laugh and reminisce. She subtly slips the ring onto her finger. And you nonchalantly keep one hand on her stomach, but you both know the depth of that one little action. You might not have been able to save your best friend and you can't give Artemis the apple pie life she expected, but you'll do everything in your power to keep her and the baby safe. For Wally.
(When she goes out to tell everyone the news, you install a Medeco deadbolt and bulletproof windows.)