Connor looked on in fascination as Artemis stretched. He had thought he was alone in the cave; he thought the others were out with their mentors. That's not why he stared; her body was a canvas of bruises, scrapes, and scars, all in different stages of healing. The ones that drew his attention were the bruises just beginning to stain her skin, dark purple-black their edges still blush- red; the scrapes, more like gashes, edges puffy along their neat lines of stitches; scars varied from thin, pale lines that even his kryptonian eyes could hardly detect, to angry reds. There was a line of stitches stretched from her collar bone diagonally where they disappeared beneath her sports bra only to reappear along her stomach and halt only an inch or two above her hip; the skin stretched and tugged at the stitches, she didn't seem to notice. A scar still pocked and angry looking made her favor her left leg slightly.
"Should you be doing that?" Connor asked stepping out from the shadows, he had never seen her react so violently, her hands flexed, her arms tensed, her body, which was raised into a handstand, snapped around flipping to her feet as she did so, landing in a crouch that reminded him of someone though he couldn't place who.
"Oh, Connor. You startled me." She said, her voice slightly husky (her hair was down, hiding the fingerprints along her neck) " I thought everyone was out" he blinked slowly as if to say 'continue', "I'm fine, it didn't stop me on the mission, and it won't stop me from doing some simple stretches." Connor raised an eyebrow
"Is Canary aware that you are injured?" it was Artemis' turn to raise an eyebrow.
"It is not an injury that impedes my performance; there is no need to inform her." Seeing the argument in his eyes Artemis added, "Stay and watch if you want. I'll even teach you a few things"
Connor looked her over once more, "fine." He grunted, stepping out onto the mats.
"First things first," Artemis hummed; she stood in front of him, hip jutted out to the side to rest her hand on. "Knock me over."
It was a simple command; Connor dropped to the floor and tried to sweep out her feet. It should have been easy, she was unbalanced and relaxed. His leg met nothing but air and his face hit the mats, she had used his head like a springboard, escaping and disabling him at the same time. When he stood and turned, she was in the same position hip out to the side and smirk resting on her lips. "Well? I'm waiting."
It became a habit. Connor would meet up with Artemis, sometimes at the cave and sometimes in Gotham. She taught him how to do a handstand and a back-flip. She taught him how to make tea and how to meditate. She was the one to teach him how to loose and arrow and how to throw a knife. She taught him to know when he was being pick-pocketed and how to spot when someone was armed. She taught him to speak Vietnamese and how to hug.
He never asked why and she never gave an answer. He never noticed how much time he spent with her and her mother. He never thought about the fact that she was speed-dial one, or that she was the first one he called when he was upset. He never wondered how or why missing Sunday dinner and Tuesday coffee was more upsetting than Megan forgetting a date. And he never cared.
It was only after the funeral, after he had carried her coffin alongside Wally, after he had held Paula's hand as dirt was laid over her coffin, after he went back to the apartment with Paula and Wally, after he had made tea (just like she taught him to), after he cried, only after he hadn't returned to the cave for a week and still had clean clothing, after he hadn't spoken English for three days, after Paula handed him a grey bow (so much like hers) and told him that Artemis had made it for him, after Sunday dinner with Paula and Wally (though dinner was silent and mostly spent between staring at the empty place at the table and trying not to break down), did he notice. Artemis had become something between Sister and Mother, that she had made him a part of her family in a way no one else had.
He returned to the cave, silent and stoic as ever. His black and red t-shirt covering the crossed bow and arrow tattoo, designed to resemble an ornate "A".