[identity profile] empressearwig.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] earwigficmirror
Title: we'll rewrite all the wrongs we've learned
Author: [livejournal.com profile] empressearwig
Pairing/Fandom: Young Justice; Artemis, Wally
Spoilers: All aired episodes.
Rating: G
Word Count: ~1376
Disclaimer: I own nothing, this is all for fun. This hasn't happened. Yet. Etc.
Summary: When the truth comes out, Artemis runs.
Author's Notes: Happy birthday, my darling [livejournal.com profile] torigates!!! From both me and Aaron Tveit, without whom this would not have been possible. Enjoy!


When the truth comes out -- because, of course, there was never any chance of it not coming out -- it's every bit as bad as Artemis expected it to be. Worse, really.

There's a mission and Jade is there -- Chesire, Artemis reminds herself -- and Speedy, too. Her sister laughs and her mask is peeled away, and Artemis can feel the eyes of her team looking first at her and then at Jade, the dots being connected with each swivel of each of their heads.

"I can explain," Artemis tries to say, but the words are weak and they catch in her throat.

Jade laughs again. "Can you really?"

Artemis stares at her sister, wondering when they truly became enemies. When they stopped being sisters. Because the person standing so close that Artemis could reach out and touch her isn't her sister any longer. She's a stranger, and Artemis doesn't know what she's been protecting all this time.

"No," Artemis says, shaking her head. "I can't."

M'gann touches her arm. "Artemis," she says, her voice gentle and so full of understanding that it makes Artemis want to cry, or it would if that were a thing that she were capable of which she's not. "Tell us what's going on."

"Yes, Artemis, tell them what's going on," Jade taunts, and Artemis sees Conner tighten his grip on her arms.

Artemis gives M'gann a sad look. "I'm sorry," she says.

She draws an arrow and shoots. The streetlight above them shatters.

By the time one of them manages to find some light, Artemis is gone.

***

Artemis heads to Gotham first. She needs to grab her backup stash of supplies and to say goodbye to her mother. She thinks she'll be safe there, at least for a few hours; the one advantage of not telling anyone your real identity is that they won't know where to start looking. She's not foolish enough to think that Robin won't find her, but she has a head start and that should be enough.

Somehow, Artemis managed to forget that head starts are meaningless when you're trying to outrun someone that can run at the speed of sound.

She lets herself into the apartment and her mother is waiting by the door.

"Artemis," she says. "I was worried."

"I'm sorry, Mom," Artemis answers, bending to press a kiss to her mother's cheek. "I didn't mean to be late."

"No, no," her mother says, shaking her head. "Your friend is here, looking for you. I thought something happened."

Instantly, Artemis is on guard. She doesn't have any friends. Not anymore. "Describe him," she asks. "Please."

The answer comes, but it's not from her mother. "Tall, good looking, red hair." Wally steps out of the kitchen and into the living room. "Any of that ringing any bells?"

"Wally," Artemis hisses, her hands clenching into fists at her side. "What are you doing here?"

"Looking for you, babe." He winks at her mother. "She wasn't expecting me."

Her mother actually has the audacity to smile, and it takes every bit of self control that Artemis possesses to not start throwing things at Wally. She doesn't think that anyone who actually knows him would blame her. Maybe not even the people that don't.

"Come with me," Artemis orders, taking the two steps necessary to grab Wally's wrist and then dragging him back to the door.

"Nice to meet you, Mrs. Nguyen," Wally tosses back over his shoulder before the door to the apartment slams closed behind. "Where are we going?"

Artemis punches the up button on the elevator and waits, not relinquishing her grip on his arm. "The roof."

Wally suddenly looks apprehensive. "Ah, are you planning on pushing me off or something?"

"Not unless you give me a a reason."

The elevator comes and Artemis pushes him inside. She jabs the button for the roof and then leans back against the wall, her arms crossed over her chest. She doesn't look at him. She doesn't want to know what she'll see.

Artemis doesn't know what she's more scared to see: hatred or forgiveness.

***

The doors open at the roof and Artemis gets out, not bothering to wait for Wally. She stalks to the edge, which has always been her favorite place, and sinks to the cold concrete below her. She sees Wally's legs standing in front of her and sighs. This can't be put off any longer, no matter how much she might want to.

"What are you doing here, Wally?" she asks, not even trying to hide the tiredness in her voice. "What do you want?"

"What are you doing here?" Wally counters. "Why aren't you back at the cave with the rest of us?"

Artemis blinks. Of everything she'd imagined coming out of Wally West's mouth, that hadn't even made the list. She dares to look up at him, and to her surprise, he doesn't look any of the ways she'd expected. He looks hurt, and okay, there's some pissed mixed in there too, but mostly hurt, and Artemis just can't process that word and Wally at the same time. Especially not in relation to her.

"I don't understand."

Wally rolls his eyes and crosses his arms over his chest. "Obviously."

She clenches her teeth and then tries to force them to relax. It's not possible. "Because now I understand perfectly, thanks."

Wally throws his hands up in the air, the frustration in the gesture echoed on his face. "What's to understand?" he asks. "You're here. You should be there. It's simple."

"It's not simple!" Artemis shouts. More quietly, she says, "Nothing is simple."

Wally sighs and drops to the ground next to her. "Artemis," he says. "This is simple. Did you think we wouldn't be on your side?"

She doesn't look at him, but keeps her eyes focused on the enormous pot that holds someone's poor attempt at rooftop gardening. "I lied."

"We all lie," Wally says. She can feel him shrugging his shoulders next to her. "It's part of the secret identity gig. Comes with the territory."

He sighs again. "You made it different. You didn't tell us. But c'mon, Artemis, after everything that happened with Miss M, did you really think anyone would care? That we couldn't handle it?"

She can feel him looking at her and it's like he's boring holes into her carefully constructed arguments with his eyes.

He's right. Artemis hates that he's right.

Because M'gann's revelation that she wasn't who she said she was, that she'd patterned her life off a tv show, that Megan was who she really was, it hadn't mattered. No one had thought of it as a betrayal, as a thing that couldn't be forgiven. It just was. And that was that.

But Artemis hadn't thought her own secret could be forgiven. Maybe it was because she couldn't forgive herself.

"You're right," she says.

Wally does a double take and cups his hand around his ear. "Could you say that again? I don't think I quite caught that."

Artemis lets out a tense, short laugh and punches him in the arm. "Don't press your luck."

Wally grins at her and bounces to his feet. He holds out his hands and Artemis looks at them and up at his face.

"You're kidding, right?" she asks, ignoring his hands and scrambling to her feet on her own. "I don't need your help."

"Babe," Wally says, slinging an arm around her shoulders as he steers her back towards the elevator. "Didn't this little heart to heart teach you anything?"

She doesn't dignify that with an answer. The elevator comes and as the doors close behind them she says just two words.

"Thank you."
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