Thank you so much for sticking through to the end! We hope you've enjoyed it! So without further adieu: the last chapter!
Artemis woke up slowly; consciousness seeping into mind parts at a time. Her mind was still groggy when her senses told her that someone's arms were wrapped around her. It was when she registered the fact that she was snuggling up to this someone that her mind fully returned.
The archer's eyes shot open and her muscles tensed. Her grey orbs were immediately drawn to the shock of red hair that belonged to her cuddly someone. Wally? Why am I in bed with Wally? Her heart raced as her thoughts tried to place what had happened the night before.
That was when she remembered what had occurred. Oh right. Klarion's spell. She eyed the speedster who had his face nuzzled into her hair, lightly snoring. I wonder if he remembers being a kid yesterday? I can ask him later. Artemis decided. First I need to get out of his bed...
Artemis was a highly trained warrior. She could hide in the shadows, track any prey, disable any target. But after trying multiple times, and multiple ways, she could not get Wally to let go of her. Whenever she tried to remove his arms from her waist he would just end up pulling her closer. When did Wally get so strong? Artemis mentally huffed as she tried to pry herself away.
Wally grumbled a bit as she pressed her hands against his chest, attempting to push him away. Her muscles were starting to get irritated with their early morning use and Artemis took a rest, her head landing on his bicep where it had been before she woke up.
"Why are you so difficult?" She whispered, staring at his peaceful face.
"Huh?" Wally snorted, "What?" His hazy green eyes sought her out, widening as they took in the fact that she was so close.
Artemis raised an eyebrow, "You woke up from that? I've just been pushing you around for the past ten minutes!"
"M'sorry Beautiful," He muttered, his eyes drooping closed as his head fell back onto the pillow. The blonde smirked. Evidently Wally was not completely awake yet.
"Wally do you remember what happened yesterday?" She asked, her voice smug. Artemis had to admit she kind of relished the idea that he probably had no idea and would have to rely on her for the information.
He shut his eyes tightly for a moment, collecting his thoughts, "Oh!" The redhead gasped, turning to analyze the archer in his arms, "You're you again!" He grinned.
"What?" Artemis blanched, "What are you talking about? You're the one that's back to normal!" She shoved a finger in his chest for emphasis.
"Wait, wait, wait," Wally held up his hands, sitting up in his bed as he did. Artemis crossed her arms across her chest and sat up as well, facing him with a confused frown, "What do you remember?"
"We went on a mission and fought Klarion. One of his spells hit you and you turned into a two foot tall blubbering monster with superspeed. I was given babysitting duty," She summarized.
Now the speedster looked even more confused, "That's not what I remember," He started, "I remember fighting Klarion, but you were the one that got turned into a vicious little blonde menace,"
Artemis ignored his insult in favor of focusing on the real problem, "Why do we remember two different things?"
"And where would Klarion get de-aging technology?" Wally mused, "Ow!" He exclaimed when Artemis slugged his arm.
"Don't go there!" She snapped.
"Yeesh, and I thought you were annoying as a kid," He groaned, rubbing his arm. Wally paused as he considered this statement.
"No," The redhead nodded, "I take that back. You threw knives at me. That was scary,"
"I threw knives at you?" Artemis reiterated, "You must have deserved it,"
"Not really," He grumbled, "So what did I do? What happened?" Wally asked her, his voice losing its earlier malice.
Artemis sighed as she thought about how to respond. She wanted to hear what Wally went through as well, and the only way for that to happen was to play nice and tell him what happened to her. Besides, he was the one who was embarrassing, this was merely bringing her blackmail material into the light.
"Well..." She started, tucking her legs to the side to get comfortable, "You still had your superspeed so mostly you were just a giggling mess zipping around the cave," Wally chuckled at this, "The team put me in charge of you because you wouldn't leave me alone. You kept bothering me and calling me 'Pretty Arty'" She smirked.
"No way!" Wally protested.
"It's true!" Artemis shot back, a smirk still in place, "You even cried when you couldn't find me,"
"Whatever," The speedster grumbled, crossing his arms, "What else happened?"
"I took you to the beach and you collected sea shells; and you ate a lot," She shrugged before pausing, remembering else had occurred the day before when he had been eating.
"What?" Wally asked quietly. Artemis looked away.
"You started crying when I tried to get you to stop eating. You told me about how you're never full," The way she spoke told him that what had happened left more of an impression than she let on.
"I'm used to it," He quipped, trying to stay lighthearted, "It's a small price to pay,"
Artemis shot him a brief look; letting him know that she didn't really believe him. Wally ignored it, but understood that the archer had learned a bit a sympathy for his weakness, one he hoped she would never bring up again. Ever.
"What happened to me?" She asked, changing the subject before he could mention anything else about his hunger that would tug at her heartstrings.
"Other than the fact that you threw knives at me and accused me of kidnapping you? Not much, I made you dinner and we watched Alice in Wonderland."
"You made me dinner?" Artemis was torn between sentimental pleasure and worry for what she must have eaten.
"Yeah," He affirmed, his eyes drifting off as he remembered what else had occurred, "I learned some other things too..." Wally started, pausing as he tried to figure out how to word his thoughts. But the speedster saw how abruptly Artemis's eyes filled with terror and sought to set things straight, "But before I tell you what happened I just want you to know that I don't think any less of you. If anything I respect you even more,"
Artemis grit his teeth as her mind speculated on what her younger self had divulged.
"You told me about your father," Wally spoke gently, watching her face carefully as her features morphed into a mix of anger and frustration.
"How much do you know?" She asked quietly, not making eye contact.
"I know that you're father abused you, and I know that he was a criminal," Wally stated bluntly, knowing the archer wanted him to get to the point. Artemis pursed her lips and kept her eyes glued to the comforter so Wally leaned forward to catch her gaze, speaking softly, "What worries me is whether or not he's still around, still hurting you,"
He reached out to hold her hand but Artemis pulled it back, her eyes narrowed, "And how do you know I'm not working for him?"
Wally frowned, snatching her hand up using his super-speed so that she couldn't resist, "Because you're Artemis," Was all he said. If asked specifically, he wouldn't lie. The thought had crossed his mind when he'd first learned, but logic won out; as it always did with the speedster. Artemis had had plenty of chances to betray them, and each time she'd shown that she would rather lay her life on the line than leave.
The blonde bit her lip at his statement before taking a deep breath and locking eyes with the boy in front of her, "I don't live with him anymore. I haven't for about a year now,"
"Only a year!" Wally exclaimed, his hand involuntarily clenching her own. Artemis squeezed back harder and the redhead was forced to calm down, "Is he in jail?"
"No," Artemis stated simply, a hint of anger betraying her composure, "He's still a criminal, and he's tough to catch,"
"Well have you considered having us or the League go after-"
"Of course I have," The blonde nearly hissed, "And they've tried," Artemis revealed, hoping he wouldn't think about it too hard.
If the League has tried to apprehend him...then that means he's probably pretty high up on the criminal food chain. The speedster pondered. And I know almost all of their big enemies...
"Do I know him?" He asked hesitantly, knowing he was treading on thin ice. Artemis bit her lip as the thought of what to say.
"How should I know?" She shrugged, deciding to be vague.
"Aw c'mon Arty, how bad could it be?" He nudged her. Artemis sat perfectly still and Wally realized what he had just said. Idiot. He scolded himself. The man beat his own child. Of course it's bad! Obviously her father must be some sort of lunatic! Wait... "It's not the Joker is it?"
"What!" Artemis exclaimed, baffled by his guess, "Of course not! I'm insulted, Joker has no knowledge he could have trained me with, Wally," She pointed out.
"Well you do live in Gotham!" The redhead defended, "What about Mister Freeze?"
"We are not playing twenty questions about this!" Artemis huffed.
It was silent for awhile as Wally continued plotting ways to convince Artemis to spill, while the archer stewed in annoyance and tried to control her temper.
"Look, Artemis," The teen's voice seemed casual and kind, but Artemis tensed herself for more questions and speculations, "I understand that you don't want to be connected to any of these people; but the truth is that if he's as bad as you say he is, the team might run into him. It would be better if the team had a little warning rather than be thrown into the truth during battle,"
Artemis hated it when he made sense.
"You don't need to tell the whole team just yet," Wally reasoned, "But if you just told me, I can be on your side. I can help you tell the others, if you want,"
The archer's shoulders slouched as she thought through the varying scenarios her mind conjured up at the idea of telling the team who her father was. She had tried so hard to turn a new leaf. To leave her family's tainted past (and present) behind. But Wally already knew quite a bit of her history now, and he seemed to understand; though she never would have thought he could. So maybe things would turn out okay.
Artemis glanced up to see that Wally was still watching her with a small smile, being awfully patient for someone who couldn't wait on microwave timers.
"You have to promise you'll remember whose side I'm on when I tell you," She spoke softly, in slight disbelief that she was even doing this.
"Of course," Wally grinned.
"Right...well..." Artemis faltered, the words not wanting to leave her mouth. Wally gave her hand a gentle squeeze and she was a little startled to remember that he was still holding it in the first place. She sucked in a breath, locking her eyes with his own green ones so that she could watch his reaction as she spoke, "My father, is Sportsmaster,"
Wally blinked a few times, the information slowly seeping its way into this brain and churning through his thought process. Artemis held her breath and waited for some kind of reaction from the boy.
"Sportsmaster," The speedster let the word leave his mouth slowly, as if testing it out on his tongue for the first time, "Sportsmaster," His tone was angrier this time and the archer drew in a breath, waiting for the yells of accusation, "Sportsmaster!" Wally exclaimed, both in anger and in disbelief. Artemis felt the instinct to close her eyes and cut herself off from the situation, but had long ago trained herself to resist the action, "That's who...? Artemis! You!" He pulled his hand away to run them through his hair and the archer panicked.
"I am not my father!" She shouted, her rage building at the thought that her friendship with Wally was now ruined because he thought she was a spy, or a traitor, or-.
"Whoa! Whoa Arty!" Wally leaned forward, his hands outward in surrender, "I know you aren't like him," He spoke, calmer now, "I'm just...Artemis he's probably pissed at you!"
The blonde scrunched up her face in confusion. She could never understand how Wally got from point A to point B in a conversation, that is, if this counted as such a thing.
"Of course he's mad. He's a cold, calculating villain whose daughter refused to follow in his footsteps," Artemis leveled.
"How do you know he's not after you?" Wally asked, his bright green eyes a bit wide.
"I do know he's after me," Artemis narrowed her eyes. Of all the ways this scenario played out in her head, none of them had involved these kinds of questions, "But it's not a problem,"
"How is that not a problem?" Wally continued pestering.
"Because he can't force me to do anything," The archer explained, figuring that the sooner he understood everything was fine the sooner this would all be over with.
"Artemis, he's hurt you before; who's to say he wouldn't do it again?" His voice was soft, "How do I know he isn't going to take you?"
She paused briefly to mull over the fact that Wally had used the term 'I' instead of 'we' before answering honestly, "Because his training has backfired on me. He taught me to handle pain and torture, he knows that nothing he could do to me would work," Artemis smirked, "It really bothers him,"
"This isn't a joke!" Wally growled.
"You don't think I know that?" Artemis snapped back. Honestly what is with him?
The two fell into a tense silence, each watching the other carefully for any signs of further outbursts.
The archer tucked her feet in tighter and rolled her gaze to the wall behind him, tasting the words she wanted to say to make sure they would come out right. It had been bothering her since she'd learned, and it didn't help with how flippant the speedster was with his reaction, "Do you ever feel full?" She blurted out, with the same mentality of ripping off a band-aid.
"Sorry?" He lied. He had heard her fine, but he wasn't quite ready to tackle the question yet. Hadn't they already talked about this?
"Your metabolism," Artemis wasn't letting him off, she saw the apprehension in his eyes.
Wally sighed and leaned back against the wall behind him, "No...I don't ever get full," He explained, his tone making it obvious that he despised the topic, "But I'm used to it. So it's not like I really remember what being full is like now anyway,"
Artemis watched his face as it scrunched up in a near flinch. He didn't want pity or sympathy; but she understood that, she understood that wish very well. So instead of giving him praises, she gave him the truth, "It sounds like you've got it down, and from what I can tell it still sounds like a pretty fair trade."
"Yeah," The redhead grinned, and Artemis couldn't help that her brain suddenly found him adorable with his disheveled hair and crooked smile, "Yeah it's a great trade off,"
The archer would have said something snarky but before she could open her lips, Wally's stomach let out a loud rumble. Artemis let out a small laugh when he had the decency to look bashful.
"Come on, let's go out to breakfast," She smirked, grabbing his arm and dragging him out of bed with her.
"You're paying right?" He teased, not pulling his wrist away from her loose grip.
"Please," Artemis scoffed, rolling her eyes, "You're paying for me,"
"Alright," Wally smirked, "But only if I can take you to a movie afterwards,"
The blonde didn't answer for a moment, wondering if she should take this step. But when she turned her head and saw Wally beside her, grinning like an idiot, there wasn't any doubt left in her mind, "Only if it's not a chick flick,"
His hand slipped down to grab hers, his smile only growing wider, "It's a date,"
And they both knew it wasn't only a figure of speech.
Slipping out the door quietly, in case the others were still asleep, they walked hand-in-hand towards the zetas.
"I know the best pancake house in Gotham if you'd like, all the ones in Central won't let me in." Wally smiled, swinging his arms a little.
Artemis rolled her eyes, "Is that a good thing?" She didn't exactly want to get kicked out because of the boy's appetite.
Right as they got to the zeta, a bright glowing covered the pad, and a few seconds later, Dr. Fate stepped nodded at him, and he simply stated, "Good to see you're both back to normal." before walking off in the direction of the training room.
Facing each other, they both shrugged and went on through the zeta, Wally's stomach rumbling the entire way.
If you're wondering why we didn't really tackle the issue of "How did this actually happen?" head on. It's because it's not the point of the story.
The point was that each of them experienced time with their younger halves and learned things they wouldn't have from each other at their current ages.
Thank you so much for reading! Veg and Geeky