Title: Kept You On Speed Dial After All These Years
Word Count: ~4,300
Characters: Wally/Artemis, Roy/M'gann, Kaldur/Kara, Dick/Zatanna, Conner/Wendy, Mal/Karen, Oliver/Dinah
Summary: AU. She knows her dad dates, and she knows that he tells them he's got a daughter, but no woman has ever made the cut to actually meet Artemis. Whoever this Dinah person is must be special.
Kept You On Speed Dial After All These Years [1/3]
Her mother died in a car crash when Artemis was barely two.
She's eight when her dad tells her this. She's known for a while now that she was adopted, because apparently one of her dad's co-workers waited to tell their son that he was adopted and it turned into this whole dramatic thing because the kid found out on his own and got mad or something. That family's fine now, but yeah, her dad didn't want this to happen to them and so he told Artemis when she was four. She understood what it meant, and he said that if she wanted to know what happened, all she had to do was ask. The thing was that she didn't really want to, because he's her family and she likes it that way. She only asks a few years later because one of her classmates just wouldn't stop nagging her to find out.
Artemis is ten when her dad comes home one day and says that he has something important to tell her.
She knows her dad dates, and she knows that he tells them he's got a daughter, but no woman has ever made the cut to actually meet Artemis. Whoever this Dinah person is must be special since her dad already wants to introduce her to Artemis after two dates. That could explain why her dad's been acting like a big goof recently.
Well, a bigger goof than he already is.
And, okay, Dinah is pretty awesome. She's very, very pretty, and she doesn't talk to Artemis like she's a little kid that won't understand anything. She's also really funny and sarcastic and actually enjoys teasing her dad as much as Artemis does, so that makes them laugh and get looks through most of dinner. Dinah has a kid, too, a step-son that she's helped raise since he was a three and whose father died a few years ago. Roy couldn't be with them tonight because he's got a track competition and is out of town for the weekend.
After they're finished easting, they split a giant slice of marble cheesecake, and when they drive Dinah back to her apartment complex, she kisses them both on the cheek and promises to bring Roy for dinner this coming Wednesday.
Roy is definitely one of those kids that can rub you the wrong way, because he comes off kind of strong and is a little opinionated, but Artemis can tell that he loves Dinah very much and really does mean well. He's got her sense of humor and is actually really great to talk to once you get used to the rough exterior. Plus, he and Artemis are practically one in the same person – parts of their personalities are so similar that it's kind of freaky – and she can tell that he appreciates she's not entirely girly or anything. They talk about sports for a bit while their parents flirt across the table, and when he mentions that his friend's grandfather is going to sell to him his car once he's ready to drive, she asks questions about the specs and she can see that he's definitely impressed by her detailed knowledge of that stuff.
Her dad and Dinah have been dating for over a year now when they ask her and Roy over Saturday brunch how they feel about moving in together.
Honestly, Artemis saw this coming a mile away, so she's not all that surprised. She knows they're asking for permission because, theoretically, this would only inconvenience her or Roy or both, really. Either way, one of them is going to have to transfer schools and since Roy is fourteen and about to start high school, the pressure is mostly on him to agree.
Which kind of sucks, really, because she knows Roy would probably suck it up and agree to make everyone happy or whatever, and Artemis doesn't really want him to have to do that. He's kind of become an older brother to her already even though their parents aren't married yet. They hang out sometimes on weekends and after school during the week whenever Dinah and her dad are out on a date. At first, it was only because they were asked to so they could get to know each other better, but it sort of became a regular thing. They see each other maybe twice a week since they both have extra-curricular and other friends to spend time with, but yeah, they just kind of get each other in a way nobody else does and so they get along pretty well.
Roy acts like an older brother to her, too. Like, most of the time he'll pay for her when they get food or whatever, and he'll give her advice about growing up, and he'll call her his sister when strangers ask him. And once when these guys closer to his age were making her uncomfortable, he scared the crap out of them by being all intimidating.
"I don't mind transferring," Roy says before either of their parents can ask the question, and he sounds like he means it.
"Are you sure, Roy?" Dinah puts her hand over his. "I mean, it's understandable if you both wanted to stay in your districts until you finish school. We don't have to move in together right away."
"I don't mind transferring, either," Artemis offers. Her dad smiles at her from across the table.
Roy just rolls his eyes. "You're not transferring. None of my friends are going to the same school that I'm supposed to go to, anyway, so it won't matter if I change districts. We'll still be close enough to see them after school and on weekends. Plus, Ollie's place is bigger. It makes more sense."
Artemis smiles at him, a little relieved. She's been at the same private school since Kindergarten since it goes up to the eighth grade, and even though she'd probably survive if she had to transfer, she likes that she'll get to graduate with the same best friends she's had since she was five. Megan and Karen will definitely appreciate that, too.
And the grin that Roy gives her tells Artemis that he probably knew this all along.
They wait until the beginning of summer to move since it's just easier this way, so on the second Monday of June, they rent a U-Haul and drive over to Dinah and Roy's apartment. Her dad and Dinah moved all of the major furniture over the weekend while Artemis helped Roy pack, so all they have to do today is drive all of the boxes over and unpack.
They break for lunch when her dad comes back with the last of their boxes, and afterward, she helps Roy put his room together by hanging his clothes in his closet while he puts all of his other stuff away. Everything's wrinkled because he stuffed all of his clothes into his boxes rather than folding them first, and when she makes fun of him for this, he tosses a pillow at her face. Dinah walks by to see this, but since they're both laughing, Dinah just gives them this amused smile and tells them not to break anything before walking away.
She's in the den with Megan and Karen when Roy comes home from summer track conditioning. It's the first time she's had them sleepover since Dinah and Roy moved in, but Artemis doesn't really think much of it until a little later, when Roy walks down into the den with a tray of cupcakes that Dinah probably had him bring to them. Megan and Karen look at him like he's a ghost. He arches his eyebrow and looks like he's about to make some remark, but thinks better of it, sets the cupcakes down on the coffee table as he introduces himself. He's showered (thank god) and changed into dark gray sweats and a white shirt, and Megan is blushing so much that her cheeks are almost as red as her hair.
Artemis makes a disgusted face, even though, in the back of her mind, she thinks it's kind of weird that Megan and Roy's hair are almost the exact same shade of red.
A little later, when they finally reach The Avengers in their Marvel movie marathon, she goes upstairs to bring up the cupcakes they didn't finish. Dinah and her dad are in the living room, watching some loud action movie on the flat screen, and Roy's sitting at the breakfast bar with his laptop on and earphones in.
She grabs a family sized bag of Hawaiian BBQ chips from the pantry, tugs it open and asks Roy if he wants any before she heads back down. He says yes, so she grabs a bowl from the cupboard and fills it with chips before handing it over.
"Your friends are cute," he tells her. She makes a gagging noise and he laughs. "I'm just being honest."
"Don't be creepy."
"I didn't say I was going to do anything to them!" She shakes her head, pops a chip into her mouth. "I kind of thought one of them was going to faint. She looked really red."
"Megan is like, really shy, especially when it comes to cute boys." Roy raises his eyebrows. She rolls her eyes. "Don't start. You think I would've warmed up to you so quickly if you weren't nice to look at?"
"You're so shallow." He's laughing, though, because they both know she's not. For a second, she thinks he's going to say something else, but he just tells her to have fun and then puts his earphones back in, so she heads back to the den.
Her middle school starts a whole two weeks earlier than Roy's high school does, which is kind of stupid, but it gives Roy the house to himself while she's at school and their parents are at work. She knows that his friends are going to be over sometime this week and basically staying under their roof until they start school, too, but it catches Artemis a little off-guard when she hears all of this noise coming from the living room. Roy and three other boys are sitting on the couch, the PS3 hooked up to the flat screen, and none of them even notice her when she walks in. It's probably because their eyes are glued to the screen and the sound system is up high enough that they didn't hear the door open. Plus, they're all sort of yelling at each other. It's hilarious, actually.
She walks up to her room, changes and sits herself on her bed so she can do her homework. Of course she'd get the only teachers at school that assign homework the first week back. It's actually not that much, but still. It's the first week back.
She does this for about an hour before she decides to take a break, so she hops off of her bed and heads downstairs. Roy and his friends are in the kitchen now, snacking on some pizza bites, and Roy's friends wave at her as Roy introduces them by name. Two of the three look closer to her age than to Roy's, which she finds a little odd, but whatever.
"I'm Artemis," she greets. Roy probably already told them her name, but she does it to be polite, and because it'd feel awkward if she didn't.
She chats with them for a little as she makes herself a sandwich and sticks it in the Panini press to toast. Talking with them is different than talking with Roy, because they really do sound more like they're her age. Well, except maybe for Kaldur. He talks in this really refined sort of way that's gentle and really kind of sweet rather than pretentious, and even though he's soft-spoken, he doesn't seem timid or anything. The other two sounds like what she expects boys to sound like, but she likes that they're not being too inappropriate.
She was going to take her sandwich and iced water up to her room, but they tell her to stay with them, so she does because she figures it can't hurt. Roy doesn't seem bothered by her joining them, and he actually seems rather pleased that his friends get along with her. It makes Artemis happier than she thought it would.
Wally – the redheaded one with freckles – is the one that talks to her the most, other than Roy.
Kaldur seems generally reserved. He's not quiet the whole time, but it's not like he doesn't initiate conversations or anything. It's just a hit or miss, really. Some days he's more talkative than others, whereas Dick is sort of just talkative all the time, but he tends to talk to all of them in general rather than directly to one of them, unless he's answering a question. It's kind of scary how smart he is. Like, she honestly thinks he's capable of world domination since he's so clever and has all of this detailed knowledge about everything.
So, yeah, Wally's the one that talks with her the most, and since he always seems to be in their kitchen looking for food, they have a lot of these random chats. Most of the time, he'll make a comment and she'll criticize it and they'll argue a bit until one of them can't come up with a witty response (usually Wally). You'd think that they couldn't stand each other, but that's not the case. At least, it doesn't seem like that to Artemis. They just debate a lot, all the way up the stairs until they walk into different rooms with their snacks in hand.
Megan and Karen guilt Artemis into trying out for the cheerleading squad with them and the only reason she goes along with it is because most of their events are in the spring semester and tennis is in the fall, so she'll be allowed to do both. She figures she can stick it out for a year to make the other two happy. Plus, it's extra cardio, so whatever.
Roy laughs at her when she tells him this and she shoves him off of her bed.
But, he sits on the bleachers after school when they're outside for tryouts, says that he thinks she did well and takes buys her McDonald's on the way home, and it's nice that he's actually supporting her in this.
Cheerleading isn't so bad, either.
She feels silly having to yell in a pitch unnaturally higher than her regular voice, and sometimes her cheeks hurt from smiling so much, but their practices are pretty rigorous because their coach is intense and it's a good workout in a different way than tennis is. It's also the one thing this year that she, Megan and Karen have together other than lunch.
Some of the girls on the squad are stereotypical cheerleader types that make Artemis want to punch them in the face or drop them during tosses and lifts, but the rest of the girls are pretty cool and make practices and long bus rides to and from events really fun. Not all of them hang out after practices or outside of the classes they happen to share, which is fine, but she, Megan and Karen have this little group of friends now that they eat lunch with and see on weekends, and they probably wouldn't have gotten close with them if they weren't all on the squad together, so it's pretty cool.
"You like cheerleading," Roy points out one night, after they've both showered from their different practices and are in the den.
"Maybe," she replies. He smirks at her and she just rolls her eyes. "Shut up."
"What?" he asks innocently. "That's not a bad thing, you know. You guys are actually pretty fun to watch, and I think that's because you and your friends are so good at it."
He's not teasing her at all, genuinely means what he says, so she smiles and thanks him and doesn't even get mad when he changes the channel to one of those stupid food-eating competitions on Food Network.
The first time Roy's friends see her in her cheerleading uniform is when she's coming back from semi-finals on a Friday night and doesn't come home until dinner.
She knows Roy's friends are staying for the weekend and that they haven't been able to for the last few months, unlike when they would be here all the time over the summer. Kal is the only one of the three that's actually Roy's age, but he goes to a private high school that has different schedules than Roy's, so their long weekends and holidays don't always line up. Dick and Wally are her age, so not only are they still in middle school but they're also in another district, their schedules are even less coordinated. So, yeah, it's a bit hard for them to make plans. This is the first time in while since they've all been under their roof.
Apparently, it's also the first time any of them have seen Artemis in her uniform.
"Whoa," Dick says when she drops into the den to say hi. Roy gives him a glare and Dick holds his hands up in surrender. "What? I'm just saying…"
Roy rolls his eyes.
Kal gives her a smile and says that the uniform suits her, and it doesn't sound suggestive or anything, so she calls him a sweetheart and runs her hand over his shaved head because it always makes him chuckle. Wally's sort of just looking at her with this unreadable expression and not saying anything, which is a first, but she doesn't bother to point it out.
When summer rolls around again, she packs her bags and goes with the girls to a cheerleading camp that their coach signed them up for because, okay, she actually does like cheering and she looks really good in the uniform. Plus, if she didn't come along, she would have to spend the next month without any of her friends. Obviously she's going.
Her dad doesn't tell her until after she's back from camp that he's glad she likes cheerleading.
He and Dinah supported her from the beginning, of course, like Roy did, but it's not until she's about to start the seventh grade that her dad tells her that he's glad being raised by just him for most of her life didn't ruin her chances at being girly. She's still very much a boy in the way she thinks and acts sometimes, like she's always been, but yeah, she's definitely more girly than she used to be. Her dad kind of got quiet when he said this, and Dinah just smiled gently and looks like she wants to say something but doesn't want to intrude on their moment.
"Dad," Artemis breathes, because really. If he starts crying, she might, too.
He's totally going to be the kind of parent that bawls his eyes over every little thing.
She goes over to hug him, tells him that she's always going to be his girl. She's not really sure why she says it. It just seems like what she needed to say, and it must work, because he hugs her back a little tighter.
The day of the finals of the summer competition their coach insisted they participate in, Wendy's over at her house and they're both in uniforms, hair pulled back and sprayed to death in perfect ponytails as they sit at the breakfast bar, drink orange juice and eat oatmeal with brown sugar and sliced fruit. Her dad's driving Artemis and her friends to the venue because it's kind of far and just more convenient if parents drive rather than busing altogether, and Wendy came over for breakfast because she couldn't be dropped off any later than that. Megan, Karen and Bette will be coming in a little bit when it's closer to the time they have to leave, so when the doorbell rings, Wendy gets this confused look on her face because it seems too early for anyone else to be here already.
Wally's standing on their doorstep.
She didn't realize he was coming over this early. Roy said that he and the guys were going to come over with Dinah to watch the competition, but she thought she wouldn't be seeing any of them until later. It doesn't start until noon and right now, it's barely 7:00.
His eyes flicker over her in her uniform, like they tend to do whenever she's in it. She pretends she doesn't like it as much as she does.
"You're early," she points out.
He shrugs. "It was either get dropped off now or take bus later. This choice doesn't cost me bus fare."
She rolls her eyes. Bus fare for youth is only $1.25.
"How frugal," she says.
"Hey, that stuff adds up. That dollar could be a dollar closer to my future car, or college tuition, or even rent or mortgage."
She blinks at him, wonders if a teacher or even his parents told him this once when he was younger and it stuck. Wally hardly seems the type to be so strict about spending, but then again, he's also this genius in anything science-related and she doesn't think he looks like he'd be, either, so maybe it's just one of those don't judge a book by its cover things.
"Wally," someone says, and she turns to find Roy standing at the bottom of the steps, giving them this look. Artemis can't decide whether or not it should bother her.
"Hey, man," Wally greets.
He follows Roy upstairs to his room and Artemis walks back into the kitchen. Wendy's giving her this weird look, too, but it's different from the one Roy just gave her. "That was one of Roy's friends," she explains, because she knows the girl's about to ask.
"Oh," Wendy says, and maybe Artemis is just being paranoid, but that oh sounds like she's implying something.
After they place first, they stay backstage for a few (twenty) minutes while ribbons and trophies are being passed out and pictures are being taken. She gets a text from her dad telling her where they parked so she can meet them there whenever they've finished, and after she's said goodbye to everyone and gotten a mini speech from her coach, she heads outside and walks through the rows and rows of cars until her dad practically tackles her from nowhere and almost makes her drop everything. Dinah puts two leis – one with flowers and dollar bills and another with candy – around her neck, kisses her in the middle of her forehead, and Roy hands her a bouquet of lilies.
The guys all give her hugs, too, and when it's Wally's turn, he tugs her lei a little and gives her this cheeky grin as he says, "Look at all of the college money you just got."
She laughs so hard that she cries.
She can hear Roy sort of storming around in his room, arguing with someone over the phone, and Megan keeps glancing out the kitchen doorway every few seconds, like she's wondering if one of them should go see if something's wrong.
They're in the kitchen trying out a few different dessert recipes that Megan found online, and Roy was so quiet when they first got home from getting the ingredients at the grocery store a few blocks over that Artemis thought he wasn't in the house anymore. He's had his license for a few weeks now and she figured he left because he had plans or because Dinah asked him to run an errand or something, so it was surprising when they suddenly heard yelling coming from his room upstairs. Artemis is willing to bet that he's on the phone with his girlfriend. They've been having problems for a while now, but since he's only a junior and she's heading off for college in the fall, their arguing has only gotten worse.
"Is he going to be okay?" Megan asks. Artemis shrugs because she honestly doesn't know. He's not going to hurt himself or anything, but emotionally, she can't really say. She's also not sure if she should go see how he's doing or just wait it out. Roy has kind of a temper and while he'd never hurt her, ever, it's not a pretty thing to witness.
Half an hour later, Roy trudges down the stairs and walks into the kitchen. He looks pissed if anything, but not as much as she'd been expecting.
"Hey," Artemis says carefully.
She offers him a banana split cupcake from the batch they just pulled out of the oven and he mutters a thanks before plopping himself onto a stool at the breakfast bar. Megan bites her lip a little and they're both just looking at him.
"Do you want to talk to Artemis alone?" Megan offers, already setting the bowl onto the counter. "I can wait upstairs—"
Despite everything, Roy manages this little half-grin. "Don't be ridiculous. Stay."
And the smile Megan gets on her face is… Well, it's nice, and it makes Artemis smile, too. It's no secret that the girl's sort of had a thing for him since they first met, but they're friends the same way Artemis has become good friends with the guys, so Megan genuinely cares about him and Artemis knows this means a lot to her.
And later, when the conversation has strayed to another topic, Megan says something that makes Roy laugh. It's the first time Artemis has heard him laugh in a while, and she's pretty sure that's supposed to mean a lot, too.