Some people are completely oblivious to everything around them, either because they don't have or haven't honed their proverbial sixth sense properly. Others though have a great deal of it and can already feel that a situation was about to become troublesome long before it happens. A certain blonde vigilante would be classed amongst the latter variety. His unique ability to sense emotions only served to further heighten his perception to even greater heights.
Like many other things, the ability was both a blessing and a curse depending on the situation. However when it came to dealing with women, particularly the blond in front of him, he had often found it to be an invaluable asset. Which is why when he sensed the sudden flood of negative emotion bubbling inside the highly volatile cauldron that was the blond archer, he immediately knew to diffuse the situation.
"There has been a rather noticeable absence of both Justice League and Junior Justice team operations spanning the past two weeks. Individual heroes doing their own thing, yes, but nothing involving a team requiring more than two members. Am I correct in the assumption that you were suspended, so to speak." He stated to which Artemis gave a small nod in affirmation. She hadn't known that the Justice League had been temporarily suspended as well.
"Yeah, that's right, but why in the hell is that important right now?" The fiery blonde yelled in a harsh whisper, but the blond boy seemed to ignore her.
"Your suspension was probably due to your failed mission in Japan right?" The masked teen asked Artemis who instantly got into his personal space and gave him the harshest glare she could muster.
"Hey listen, I've already taken enough crap about that from Batman, Wally and the rest of the team, so if you even think about blaming-!"
"I'm not blaming you for that, even though it is kind of entirely your fault." He said getting a small jab in to which she responded with a murderous glare, so he quickly added.
"I'm just saying that if team blames you for their suspension to a small extent, how do you think they'll react when the person that was arguably the most to blame, and whom the Justice League has classed as a threat, suddenly appears in their home base. That's no better than suddenly appearing in the Watchtower."
What he said made sense, she couldn't deny that. She still didn't like it though and was about to let him know that much when he continued talking.
"Let's not forget the fact that it'll only arouse suspicion in your team mates against you, and questions like whether or not you can be trusted will inevitably fly. So while I want to help you I'm afraid the most I can do is to give you a pep talk."
"Alright fine you wanna give me a pep talk, then let's hear it. I'm really interested in hearing how you plan to convince me to go out there and fight two Justice League level androids without any arrows or superpowers and no backup. So go ahead, convince me!" She yelled much louder than she intended, but she was never really good at keeping her emotions in check. She'd work on that later.
"Unfortunately you don't really have much time, so I can't really go into a long winded speech so I'll just get straight to the point. You're smart and resourceful and you care a lot about your team, that the reason why you're still here instead of just asking me to get you out of here. You're going to be an invaluable asset to your team, so use this opportunity to prove it to them." The masked teen said, his voice never changed from being casual but he stared at her with a serious expression in his visible eye.
If just about anyone else had been the one to say this instead of the blond in front of her, there was a high possibility that she would have asked them to shove off. But there was something about the blond that made her strangely happy at the things he said.
"Okay fine, so what do you want me to do?" She asked the blond boy in resignation.
"An EMP would be the most viable solution in this kind of situation, it should shut down all electronic devices, robots included, temporarily, giving you just enough time to permanently dismantle them. Though I'm guessing you don't have one lying around."
"No, I don't, but I'll definitely be getting some when this is all over. But that's besides the point, Robin made one and he tried connecting it to the cave's main generator but he got captured before he could. He said something about needing a conductor though." said Artemis while the other blond looked thoughtful.
"A steel tipped arrow would probably do the trick, do you have a spare quiver of arrows in the cave?" He asked the archer who shook her head.
"No, that's another thing I plan to rectify. Though I do know where I can get one last arrow, let's hope I don't miss."
"You won't." He said with so much conviction that she found herself nodding determinedly.
"I won't." She confirmed with so much confidence that she herself wasn't sure where it was all coming from, but welcomed it all the same. "Does this mean that you're leaving now?"
"You probably won't be able to see me, but I'll make sure to stick around long enough to see you beat those tin cans and save your friends. Speaking of which you only have about a minute and 4...3...2...1."
"One more minute." The mechanical voice that Artemis had suddenly grown to hate reached both their ears.
"You'd better get going." The masked male said to tell blond woman.
"Yeah." She agreed and ran off but not before planting a quick kiss on his cheek. He hadn't been expecting that but it wasn't unwelcome either. Hell, he kinda liked it. Interesting did not even begin to describe that girl..
With that thought he flashed to one of the Hiraishin markers one of his clones had placed in the Mount Justice main hangar area and watched unseen by everyone.
He watched with a small sense of pride as Artemis came to her friends' rescue, she showed none of the anxiety that she had had moments prior and instead seemed to brim with confidence. She activated the EMP with an arrow that she had gotten from who knows where, and the robots dropped like flies, after which she freed her team mates from their prisons.
The blond took a minute to look over the girl's team members. He breeze over a few of them having already known them by their reputations as Batman, Aquaman and the Flash's sidekicks. There was also a green skinned female with them, the Martian Manhunter's niece from water he had gathered. The black haired boy that had Superman's shield was the one who held his interest however. He found himself appraising him with narrowed eyes, before looking away, resolving to investigate him more later.
Thing seemed to be going well and he eas just about to leave when another robot who looked absurdly similar to the other two appeared in the cave. He recognized this robot as the Justice League's Red Tornado and decided to see what would happen. He watched as Red Tornado walked over to investigate the other two androids, before the EMP wore off and he suddenly turned on the team, leaving them unconscious while he tried to escape with his siblings.
Tried being the keyword as all three were short circuited by a lightning covered fist, before the blond responsible flashed away with them to get some answers.
The team woke up after being shook awake by some of the members of the Justice League. They immediately sat up to find that the cave was exactly as it was when they had passed out, with the only exception being that Red Tornado as well as his brother and sister were all long gone.
"Ugh...what the hell happened?" Artemis asked still groggy from her impromptu nap, before the memories came rushing back to her. "Red Tornado! He-!"
"Yes. It appears that Red Tornado has betrayed the team. It seems he was the mole." Aqualad said cutting her off.
"Wait! A mole! You knew that there was a mole on the team and you didn't say anything! What's wrong with you! Because of you, M'gann almost died!" Superboy yelled letting his temper get the better of him and looked ready to punch the Atlantean through several walls.
"Yeah! What the hell Kaldur? We all could have died today! Miss M almost died, why didn't you tell us about the mole?" Wally asked looking almost as angry as Superboy.
Kaldur looked ready to start defending himself but Batman came to his defense before anything else could be said.
"I told Aqualad to keep the information about the mole between us, to prevent any unwarranted suspicion of any teammates just in case the information turned out to be false. Clearly that was not the case." Batman said gesturing to the partially scorched and flooded hangar.
"Indeed. As Batman said, we did not want to cause any unnecessary friction in the team's dynamic and play into our enemies hands. It is not that I did not trust you, my friends, in fact it was the opposite. It was my source that I did not trust." Aqualad said managing to appease his teammates while Aquaman looked on with pride at his student's fine leadership.
"This still doesn't make any sense, Red Tornado has been a member of the Justice League for years. I don't understand why he would betray us now." Superman said to Batman in a somewhat hushed voice.
"You're right it doesn't make sense, but right now that's how it is. I'll need to investigate more on this later as well as try to locate him." Batman said.
"Sweet, so I'm guessing you want us to find Red Tornado, right?" Robin asked excitedly.
"No. Red Tornado is a League member, thus locating him is the League's responsibility. Captain Marvel will be acting as your den mother till further notice."
"Alright, this is gonna be so awesome!" The immature Leaguer exclaimed happily while Batman chose to ignore him.
"Right now you should all go home and get some rest. You should all meet up here tomorrow evening by 6pm sharp for the details of your next mission. Don't be late." The dark knight paused for a moment before continuing. "And Artemis, well done."
He said before heading out of the cave followed by many shell-shocked Leaguers. When they had all gone, the equally shocked members of the team still in the cave turned to the stunned archer with gaping mouths.
"Was that a compliment...from Batman?" Robin asked still disbelieving.
"I believe so." Aqualad answered, he too was shocked but to a much lesser degree. "Regardless I think we can all agree that it was well deserved. You did well today Artemis, you proved yourself to be an invaluable asset and a trustworthy teammate and friend." Aqualad said giving the archer a smile which she returned.
"Aqualad's right you know, if you hadn't helped out when you did, who knows what would have happened. It's nice to know I've got a gal like you to rely on around here." M'gann thanked as she enveloped the girl in a hug, seemingly rather cheery for someone who nearly died a while ago.
The martian smiled happily before nudging the still seething half-Kryptonian standing beside her with an elbow to the ribs.
"Uh yeah, you really saved our lives today, so thanks I guess." Connor thanked her next. He was still a bit miffed about everything that happened and his face showed that much, but she could also tell that he was genuinely grateful to her.
"Yeah we would have all been goners if it wasn't for you. What you did today was pretty cool, thanks. And uh, sorry for being such a jerk last time." Wally apologized, the orange haired teen looking rather apologetic.
"Yeah no problem guys. What are friends for?" The blond answered giving a smile of her own.
"Ahem, it seems you're all forgetting that I helped as well. Building the EMP was my idea in the first place." Robin said trying to get in on the glory.
"Oh yeah Rob, your valiant capture was definitely what saved us. We would never have survived if we didn't have you here to get captured and pass out." Wally said teasingly at Batman's apprentice, causing the others, Superboy included to chuckle and giggle at his expense.
Eventually Robin let a smile grace his face as he walked over to Artemis. "I guess I'll let you have this one, but the next time we work together, I get the save. But still, good job, you've earned your spot on the team." He said causing all six of them to smile.
"Well, it's getting late and I have school tomorrow so I should probably get going." The archer said.
"Indeed. We will all need our rest for tomorrow." Aqualad agreed.
"Yeah, I feel really tired too. Nearly dying really took it out of me. I should probably be getting home...after I raid the fridge!" The speedster of the group said before he was gone in a blur.
"Hey! We just stocked that fridge. Wally, get back here!" Connor said, running after the speedster, with Miss Martian and Wolf hot on his heels.
"I should be heading back to the Bat cave too. See you all tomorrow."
"Yeah, see ya."
The remaining three said their goodbyes before they left the cave to go home.
Artemis sat on her bed dressed in casual clothes, staring at the strange knife she had received as she usually did before she went to bed. She had a small smile on her face as she did, as she reflected on everything that happened today, particularly the parts involving a certain blond boy. She found herself wishing she could see him to tell him 'thank you' for everything.
"You're oddly silent for once."
"GAH!" She was so startled by the new arrival that she fell off the bed and onto the floor. When she pulled herself back up, she was glaring at him with a lot of intensity.
"Never, ever do that again." She said not letting up on her glare for even a second. The boy seemed unconcerned however and just kept staring at her passively, though he did regard her curiously.
"I thought you wanted to see me, isn't that why you called." The blue eyed blond asked the girl his eyes betraying some slight confusion, he even had his head quirked to the side a bit, which she found rather cute.
"Ugh, it's fine. Yeah I actually wanted to see you, I wanted to say thank for your help today. So you know, thanks." The girl said, looking the slightest bit shy.
"You're welcome." Hey answered simply and then came a strange and awkward silence. One blond didn't seem bothered by the silence while the other looked very uncomfortable.
"So how did your first day of school go?" The blond male asked breaking the silence.
"It was okay- Wait a second, how did you know about that, have you been stalking me or something?" She asked, looking suspiciously at the masked male across from her.
"Something like that, yes." The masked blond answered, his tone betraying nothing but his eyes danced with the smallest amount of mischief.
"Okay, well if you were stalking me like you say then you probably already know that I hate that school." She said with a small sigh.
"I do know that, yes."
"You probably know that I don't have any friend there either."
"I know that too."
"Okay it's pretty scary and kind of unfair how much you know about me, when I barely know anything about you." The blond girl said glaring slightly at the boy.
"That's not due to lack of trying on your part. In the past two weeks, I believe you've Googled 'new masked vigilante' 45 times, 'Asia's masked hero' 22 times and most recently 'new hot teen hero' 13 times." The boy stated causing her to blush out of embarrassment. "You've also been trying to collect information on me, only I've been more successful than you've been."
"But it's still not fair. I can barely find anything on you at all."
"You know what I look like and you also know about my teleportation ability." The teen argued.
"I know what you look like with your mask on, and as far as I know you were probably hiding a lot of details about your ability." The blond woman argued back and he couldn't fault her there, because she was right.
He remained silent for the longest time before he finally caved.
"Huh?" Artemis asked unsure what her fellow blond meant. "What's that?"
"My name. Now you know something else about me." Hey said before suddenly raising his head as if he was being beckoned somewhere. "I have to leave now. I'll see you soon Artemis." He said before vanishing from her sight like a ghost.
Artemis stared at her spot he had just vanished from for a moment longer before she lay back on her bed with a sigh. "Naruto." She tested the name on her tongue. It was strange to pronounce, but she liked it.
A small smile came to her face as she went back to twirling the three pronged kunai between her fingertips. Her plans concerning the blond hadn't changed.
That plan being, to:
Find out everything about him. Beat him up for that failed mission. Go on a date with him.
The plan hadn't changed but she definitely needed to rework the order, and with that final thought Artemis, succumbed to the soothing lull of sleep.
The next morning Artemis found herself in school again. Class was underway and they were already a few minutes into the lesson, when the teacher was suddenly asked to the principal's office. As usual the class had broken into murmurs and gossip until the teacher came back in again.
"Alright class, it seems that a new student will be joining us. Apparently, he's a foreign exchange student and he'll be with us for the rest of the semester. Please give him a warm welcome as he introduces himself." As soon as the teacher finished talking the classroom door opened and a rather attractive male walked in.
He was tall with spiked blond hair, beautiful blue eyes and three whisker like lines on each of his cheeks. He was dressed in the males school uniform and had a blue school-bag slung over his shoulder, but most notably was the wide toothy smile that he had on his face.
"Mr Namikaze kindly introduce yourself to the class. Tell us a bit about yourself so we can all get to know you better." The teacher said making the blond smile even wider as he addressed the class.
"Yo, my name is Naruto Namikaze, I'm from Japan and I'm seventeen years old. I love gardening, sunsets and ramen. We'll be classmate from now on, so I hope we all get along!" He greeted introducing himself cheerfully to the class.
Immediately excited murmurs broke out in the class.
"Woah, is that guy really an exchange student, he looks pretty American to me."
"He does have a bit of an accent though."
"Doesn't matter, he's pretty funny and he seems really cool."
"He's kinda hot."
"And look at his whiskers, they're so cute."
These were the kinds of murmurs flying around the classroom. The only ones not participating were the teacher, to topic of the murmurs himself and one Artemis Crock. The latter found herself studying the new student with narrowed eyes.
'It's not him, there's no way that that's him.' That had been the thought running through the girl's mind ever since the blond male had introduced himself.
Right off the bat, there was the coincidence of their names. I mean what were the chances of her meeting two people sharing the same unique name, almost zero. Then add on the fact that they were both from Asia, they both had similarly muscled builds from what she could see, and the coincidence of eye and hair colour and it was almost certain that the two were the same person.
The only thing that stopped her from instantly jumping to that conclusion was how vastly different the two's mannerisms were. Where the vigilante was silent, stoic and apathetic, this blond was cheerful, energetic and very open with emotions.
She was unable to draw even the slightest similarity in the way the two acted. It was like they were two entirely different people. To her trying to say that the two were one and the same was like saying that Bruce Wayne was Batman. It just wasn't possible.
Still the girl watched the blond boy as he moved to take a seat two rows behind hers. She turned around in her seat to get another look at him, he seemed to notice her stare however and responded by giving her a bright smile and a friendly wave.
'Yep, that definitely can't be him.' She decided as she turned away from him. 's She thought with a small blush.