A/N: Thank you to all of you who reviewed!
Mazeygrace18: I don't know either ;) Dick is a pretty amazing boy. Zatanna and Barbara won't be the only ones to notice that…
Fate is cruel. And, in this world, there's no such thing as coincidence.
(it's funny how things work out)
Gotham Academy, August 30th
(fate brings us back together)
Student orientation day is always a pain.
"Excuse me, could you point me in the direction of the restroom?"
Bette Kane attempted a smile and pointed the younger classmen to building one. Watching him run off she chewed the inside of her lip, trying not to spew out profanity; every year the students were invited back, a couple of days early to get settled in before classes started. And really, that was the fourth kid to ask her in less than five minutes, if she sat in this stupid booth any longer she'd explode.
"Why did I sign up for the Information Booth?" Bette groaned as she buried her face in her hands.
"I'm actually quite happy you did, Sugar."
Bette looked up at the person speaking and groaned again. Standing in front of her booth was the bane of her existence. Fellow classmate Wally West stood with his arms crossed and a smirk that lit up his features. Beside him was a short boy with dark hair and blue eyes. Ugh. Another freshman.
"Don't get too excited," Wally joked as he leaned onto the counter for support.
"What do you want, West?" Bette asked through gritting teeth, trying her absolute best to be polite. Because, really, it's been a very long morning.
It wasn't that she hated Wally. No, she could never hate him. He, though annoying and irritating, had a good heart. But after spending freshmen year being tortured by his antics, Bette didn't exactly have a soft spot for him.
"Nothing much. Just coming to ask where my buddy, Dick, could pick up his schedule."
Bette switched her gaze to the other boy, "Are you a freshman?"
The boy turned to look at her. His blue eyes grew wide for a moment and his mouth opened a little, as if he was about to exclaim some new found information. But immediately his mouth shut and he fell silent.
Yup. He was definitely a freshman.
"Um… hello?" Bette asked again, waving a manicured hand in front of his face.
Wally smacked his friend on the back, "Dude. She's not that pretty."
Bette bit her tongue again and ignored the jibe. "Last name?"
The smaller boy straightened up. "Oh. Uh, sorry. It's Grayson…. Dick Grayson."
Bette drew her eyebrows together in confusion. Grayson. She heard that name before. She looked at him again trying to determine if she knew him from somewhere but she wasn't able to.
"Do I know you?" Bette asked after drawing a blank, she felt a bit dazed.
"I don't think so," he replied causally, giving her a concerned look.
Bette mentally hit herself on the head. She must be going crazy. "I'm sorry. That was rude of me. Letters 'G' to 'O' are in the lobby of Building 3."
Dick grinned, "Thanks. We'll just be out of you hair now. C'mon, Wally. Let's go!" He grabbed Wally and dragged him towards the main office.
Bette frowned. "You're going the wrong way!" She called out. No response.
Bette shrugged and rolled her eyes. "Next," she announced to the line of people.
"Hi there! My friends and I were just, like, wondering, if you could like, you know, point us in the direction of the bathrooms?" A brown haired girl asked, hands on her hip, and was surrounded by a gaggle of girls.
It was going to be a long day.
Gotham City, August 27th
Artemis quietly landed on the landing of the rusty fire escape outside her window. Opening it swiftly, she slipped inside. She winced as her boots made contact with the wooden floor, creating a dull thud. Squeezing her eyes together, the archer paused for a moment and listened for any indication that her mother had heard her.
Artemis lips curled into a smile.
It's become a habit, she mused, sneaking out after all the lights went off, running after thugs and thieves, stopping bank robberies and saving a few lives here and there. It was almost like she was a hero.
Artemis sighed and kicked off her combat boots.
She knew she could never actually become one, of course. Her past would come back to haunt her. It was too muddled, too scary and dark for that cookie-cutter hero life. No hero had the background she did. Not a single one.
The only hero she could possibly identify herself with was Gotham's own Dark Night. No one knew who Batman really was. His identity, as well as his sidekick's, was impossible to discover. The entire world had tried. His history? Protected. His secrets? Locked up. No one knew anything about him.
So it was easy for Artemis to imagine that he had some sort of twisted past. That maybe he too came from a dark past and fought his own demons. That maybe, a long time ago, he was in her shoes trying to choose the right path.
It was a sick thing to imagine. To think and hope that someone would have a worse upbringing than hers…. It was just plain sick.
But it's what kept her going.
She glanced at the clock and her eyes widened at how late – er, early – it was. She was coming home later and later each night. A fact that she attributed to her recently acquired insomnia.
Ever since rejecting the letter to Gotham Academy, she had trouble sleeping. She wondered why she rejected such an opportunity. Or why she turned down that fruit basket. Because really, that basket was amazing. Her head filled with what-ifs and why-nots but eventually she came back to the same conclusion.
She couldn't leave her mom.
She just couldn't. Not when she just got her back.
Heck, her mom was the reason she started patrolling in the first place! She couldn't just leave her. What if her father came back? What was she supposed to do? She couldn't fend for herself.
So, when the letter came in all its glory, she wrote a very polite rejection letter sent back the fruit basket.
But now, as summer was drawing to a close, she couldn't help but feel a twinge of regret. All the possibilities of what could have been were haunting her dreams and plaguing her every thought.
Lost in these mental conundrums, Artemis hardly noticed her door open.
Her reflexes were instantaneous.
It took her half a second to register that the voice belonged to a man. It took her another half second after that to spin around, grab an arrow from behind her, and string it into place aimed for the door way. And after about a second and a half she realized that there wasn't one man, but two in her doorway. So really it took her, all in all, three seconds after she heard her name, to realize these two men were people she recognized.
Batman and Green Arrow were in her room. At her house.
Holy Mother of Arrows.
One eighth of the effing Justice League was at her house.
But, even at the sight of these two men, her weapon didn't falter. Instead she calmly added another arrow to her bow.
"Artemis!" this time it was a voice of a woman. It was sharp and hostile. And it was a voice she felt a surge of relief to hear, "Is that anyway to treat guests?"
Artemis's eyebrows arched in surprise. She lowered her bow instantly.
"Guests?" she repeated, her voice hoarse.
Green Arrow gave her an encouraging nod, "Nice reflexes."
Artemis just looked at him while Batman glared at the older archer, who in turn just smiled.
"Artemis Crock," Batman repeated, turning to face her, "It's nice to meet you."
"Pleasure." Her voice was tight and controlled. Inside she was screaming.
Green Arrow smiled again, "Man. Don't you have spunk? You know, you remind me of Speedy – er well, Red Arrow now. You two should meet up sometime. I could introduce you if you want..." He winked suggestively.
Batman pinched the bridge of his nose, Artemis blushed.
"Arrow, stay on topic."
"Right," Green Arrow straightened his posture and flicked on her lights. "We have business to settle."
Gotham Academy, August 30th
(meeting new people)
The entire student body was released into the courtyard. After sitting through three hours of rules and lectures they were finally dismissed for a lunch break and social hour.
Students scattered around the court yard, sitting on park benches or on the rim of the fountains, talking and flirting just as teenagers do.
A pair of students, seated under the protection of the giant oak tree, were chatting animatedly.
"That was so boring," Wally complained as he whipped out his wallet and began rifling through it.
Dick laughed as he put his bag down, "I had fun."
Wally put his wallet down to glare at his friend.
During the assembly Dick spent a good portion of his time hacking the school's main frame. He had finally gotten through it and had access to every single computer on campus, thus granting him the knowledge of everyone's records.
"Whatever, let's just go find a café and eat; I'm starved."
Gotham Academy's dining hall was open twenty four seven, but many students opted to only eat there for breakfast and dinner. During lunch, the students were free to roam the street for a restaurant or small café they liked. Money was never paid, instead their student ID served as a sort of credit card, only it never really ran out.
"You know I can't be seen with you. If M'gann or Conner saw us they'd put two and two together. And then Bruce would murder me."
"Fine. I'll eat by myself." Wally picked his wallet up again and once again began flipping through it. "That's weird," he murmured as he stood up and felt his pockets.
After a few minutes he threw up his hands, "I can't find my ID!"
Dick, who was scrolling through student profiles on his laptop, merely rolled his eyes. "You left it in the auditorium. I saw it on the table in the back. You put it there when you were writing down that girl's number."
"And you didn't think to tell me?" Wally glared before stalking off in the direction of the auditorium.
Dick watched his friend walk off and fished around in his pockets eventually pulling out two cards. As he glanced at them, he contemplated whether or not he should tell Wally that he had his. Sighing at his friend's stupidity he stood up and was about to call out when he someone caught his eye.
"Barbara! Barbara! Over here!" Dick called, while shutting his laptop with his foot.
Across the courtyard Barbara stopped and looked in his direction and waved back. She was walking with a girl with dark hair. A very pretty girl.
Smiling, he beckoned both of them over.
He'll text Wally in a few.
Wally stood outside the auditorium cursing his blue eyed friend.
I have your student ID. Forgot to tell you.
He refused to reply, choosing instead to shove his phone back into his pocket and roll his eyes. He trudged down the steps in front of the auditorium. It was a small building located outside the main academic square, some meters north west of it.
As he reached the bottom of the steps he felt himself falling and landing with a thud.
He heard a small cry before blacking out.
When Wally opened his eyes he saw an unfamiliar face looking down on him. Her face was heart shaped with strong brown eyes and full pink lips. Her long shiny hair was braided and tossed over a shoulder while her eyes were wide with a mixture of concern and annoyance. Her skin was tan and perfectly clear.
She was gorgeous.
Gotham City, August 27th
"So let me get this straight. You want me to become your new sidekick?" Artemis asked for the hundredth time. She couldn't believe this. Did he want two sidekicks or something?
"And you want me to join this new 'Team'?"
"So how does my attending Gotham Academy correlate?"
"Well it's not our requirement. It's hers," Green Arrow said, interjecting in her back and forth with Batman. He pointed at her mother. "She wants you to attend. But it's not like you didn't get in."
Artemis's eyes widened at the statement, "How did you -?"
"It doesn't matter how we know," Batman cut her off. "Do you accept or not?"
Artemis swallowed and fingered one of her arrows. She glanced at her mom, who was looking at her intently. Her mom gave her a smile, "Artemis. Go."
"Mom, I can –"
"Artemis, this is a once in a life time opportunity. This is your chance at a new start," her mother said gently, taking her hand.
"And you? What if Dad comes back?" Artemis said feeling a familiar lump at the back of her throat. She pressed her thumb against the end of the arrow in an effort not to cry.
Batman cleared his throat, "We can ensure you mother's protection."
Her mom put a rough hand under her chin and lifted her face to meet hers, "Artemis, I'll be fine. You go."
Artemis felt her eyes prick and she saw a million things flash before her eyes.
"Artemis, kill him."
"Please don't! No -"
"Daddy. I want to be just like you!"
"Dad. Where's mom?"
"Jade. Please don't go."
"It's every girl for herself."
Every girl for herself.
She swallowed and crushed her eyes together, willing the tears seep back into her skull. When she finally spoke, her voice was hoarse and this time it was directed towards the two men still looming in her doorway. "I accept."
Green Arrow smiled.
"On a few conditions."
His smile faltered a little.
"I don't want to be part of this 'Team'," she said walking over to her drawer and collapsing her bow. "At least not yet," she added, seeing the look on their faces. "I don't want to join without any training and make a fool of myself."
"So training first? No problemo," Arrow made an imaginary check mark in the air.
"Another thing: When – no – If I join the team I don't want them to know anything about me. My past, my history, nothing. Not even my secret identity." She paused and removed her quiver. She looked at it, running her fingers over the ends of the arrows. After a few moments, her head snapped back up and she turned to face them. "And at school," she added quietly while tossing the quiver on her bed.
"I don't want to be Artemis Crock at school. I want a fresh start."
"You're going to need a new name then. An alias," Green Arrow said thoughtfully.
Artemis stared at the poster hanging on the opposite wall, her mind reeling.
Gotham Academy, August 30th
She wondered if he was dead. Because it's not everyday you stumble upon a body in front of an auditorium.
She leaned over the boy. He had red hair and he was rather lean and muscular, probably a runner, she noted, which was a bit surprising considering he fell down a flight of stairs. Runners were supposed to have good balance.
She leaned in closer and noticed that he had freckles splattered across his cheeks. She smiled, charmed by his appearance.
Suddenly the boy made a moaning sort of noise and she jumped back.
Wally was blinded by her. Confused and disoriented, he blanked for second, staring at her longer than necessary.
The girl laughed at his expression and offered him a hand.
Her laugh sounded like bells, and that was the only coherent thought that Wally felt pass through his head as he took her hand.
When his skin made contact with hers an electric shock went through his body. It ran through his veins and suddenly his thoughts raced through his head at top speed. Plans were being formulated, dates were being prepared, and all the pick up lines he had ever known were at the front of his mind, ready to use.
Wally, who was lost in his thoughts, didn't realize he was still holding her hand.
The girl shifted her weight from one foot to another awkwardly and cleared her throat.
Wally was jolted back into reality and dropped her hand like it was on fire. He opened his mouth to say something, but immediately closed it, realizing that, for once in his life, he had no idea what to say.
The girl, clearly amused at his demise, smiled again.
Wally grinned, "I'm Wally. Wally West. Want to get some lunch?"
The Little Café, August 30th
Megan watched the smoke drift from her hot chocolate. It swirled and spiraled until it wasn't visible anymore. She smiled fondly as if it were a cute animal.
She was waiting for Conner and Wally to arrive. They had scheduled to hang out at the Café near the end of the street.
She was sitting on one of the comfy couches in the back corner flipping through a fashion magazine when she heard the door open, letting in the August heat. Conner walked in glancing around the room. When blue met brown he cracked a smile and walked over, setting himself right next to her.
"Hey," he greeted with a nod.
"Conner!" she squealed, smiling largely. "Those glasses suit you."
Conner grimaced. Batman insisted upon them. Apparently Superboy can have perfect eyesight, but Conner couldn't.
"You don't even wear a mask. You need something to protect your identity."
"We're a covert team! It's not like the public knows who we are," Conner argued, eyeing the glasses with distaste. But Batman ignored him and shoved them on his face anyway.
"Brown hair suits you," he said, taking note of her human appearance.
She laughed a bit uneasily. "It's just something I came up with. Where's Wally?"
"He said he was bringing a surprise," Conner replied with a shrug.
"Oh. Well, we can start without him! How's your house? Who are you bunked with?"
Conner strained to remember, "Aren't all the houses the same? And I'm in house 32. Wally's with me, and a few others. Like, Richard Grayson, and Mal Duncan. And what's his name? Uh, I think it's Vincent. He and Richard are both freshman. Our supervisor is… Alford, I think."
"Oh. I'm in house 8. It's right in front of the school."
"Lucky. You can get there in less than two minutes."
M'gann laughed, "And you could get there in five!"
Conner bit back a smile and got up, "So, what's good here?"
M'gann shrugged her shoulders and got up, "Let's go see, shall we?" Taking his hand in hers she pulled him over to the cashier.
He didn't let go.
Gotham City, August 29th
"I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the fact that you've given me your scholarship." The girl opposite him and Bruce gave a sincere smile. "My parents were so thrilled when they heard the news.
"I'm glad to hear that," Bruce said warmly. "This is my son, Richard. He'll be starting out as a freshman. If you ever need any help, just let him know."
"Bruce," Dick muttered under his breath. Bruce nudged him.
"Right. I'm Richard Grayson, pleased to meet you," he offered his hand to the girl. She was pretty. He'll give her that. She had brown hair and brown eyes. Her skin was tan presumably from the beach in California from which she originated.
A piercing ring filled the air; Bruce pulled out his cell and flashed a smile. "Be right back," he said before leaving the booth.
Dick shrugged and extended his hand. She glanced at him skeptically as if she was unsure what to do with it.
"It's a hand," Dick said slowly, as if she didn't understand, "You shake it."
"Right. Sorry." The girl sent him a tight smile and shook his hand. Her grip was tight.
"What did you say your name was again?" Dick asked, trying not to wince.
"Alice. Alice Kellings," she responded before letting go of his hand.
"So Alice, where are you from?"
"California," Alice said automatically and then reached up to touch the end of her braid.
"So what are you doing all the way down here?"
A pause then: "My cousin lives here. She was… competing in a spelling bee. I figured it would be a nice if I could visit her and meet with Bruce and thank him for his generosity. Kill two birds with one stone, you know?"
"C-o-o-l," Dick spelled out with a bit of an edge, "Did she w-i-n?"
"N-o," Alice said coolly while moving to touch the end of her braid once again.
House 8, August 30th
(two for one)
This isn't me.
Artemis glanced at a mirror. Her blond hair was still its length and her eyes were still a smoky gray. She looked the same. To her at least. But she knew that others would see her differently.
Her facial features remained unchanged, she noted while glancing at her student ID. But her hair was shorter, a little past her shoulders and brown. Her gray eyes were replaced with a soft brown and were framed with thick lashes. Her skin tone was more or less the same.
This isn't me, she repeated to herself.
"So, this ring. It's going to do what exactly," Artemis asked as she slipped the silver band around her finger.
"It'll hide your identity when you wear it. You'll still see yourself the same way. But to anyone else aside from me or Green Arrow, you'll be someone else. You'll be Alice."
"Okay. So at school, I'm Alice. And on the team I'm who?"
"You'll be Artemis. My niece; my new protégé."
"And they'll know nothing?"
Two identities to protect her real one.
It sounded insane, even in her own head. She shook the thoughts from her mind, undid her braid and set her ring on her vanity table. Her new home was rather luxurious, something she wasn't used to. There were 60 boarding houses in this tiny town, 15 lined in front of the school and the rest were scattered, connected by a few streets. Shops and restaurants were littered in between them. Each 3 story house was equipped with a kitchen, three bedrooms, a living room, two and a half bathrooms, an attic and a stairwell leading to the rooftop.
Artemis opted to share one of the smaller rooms with a freshman. Her name was Zatanna. She hadn't officially met her yet; the younger girl was out running some errands.
The other three girls would be sharing one of the larger rooms, Megan, Barbara and Bette. The latter bore a shocking resemblance to their supervisor Kate a twenty something that had kind brown eyes.
"I'll be here for whatever you need," she told Artemis while helping her unload her things.
A knock on her door startled her out of her thoughts. She panicked and slipped her ring on as the door opened and revealed Bette, a perky blond with wavy hair. She let herself in without invitation and sat down on the bed opposite Artemis.
"Uh, hey?" Artemis greeted, still a little breathless from her mini-heart attack.
Bette shot her a smile and crossed her legs, "So, I hear you have a date with Wally West."
Artemis wasn't sure if she should be surprised, "Um, not really. How did –?"
"Wally wouldn't shut up about it earlier. I was the leader for his group tour," Bette smiled a little, "He seemed really excited."
Artemis blushed, "Really?"
"Yup," Bette said, popping the 'p', "But be careful, okay?" Her tone shifted to a serious solemn voice. "He's known as a bit of playboy around here."
"Wally?" Artemis questioned. She laughed. Wally? A playboy? That was like saying Batman was stupid.
Bette smiled and laughed as well, "I know it seems funny. But he broke my best friend's heart last year. And us girls have to stick together, you know?"
Artemis smiled, she wasn't used to having people look out for her. It was nice.
"Well, thank you for warning me. But between us, I think Wally is the one you should be warning," Artemis threw in a friendly wink.
Both girls laughed and Bette was about to say something when the ring of the doorbell echoed through the house.
"I should probably get that, lord knows that my cousin won't." She got up from the bed and started for the door.
"Kate's your cousin?"
"Mhmm," was all Bette said as she exited. Before closing the door all the way, Bette poked her head in, "Have fun on your date! Don't forget, curfew's at ten!" She added, winking suggestively at Artemis.
"I shouldn't be doing this," Artemis said without making eye contact, "I shouldn't be attending a school. I should be training, I should be fighting."
"And you will," Green Arrow said putting his hand on her shoulder, "But you're still young. You sidekicks need to understand that you guys need to enjoy your youth. That you need to live and have fun."
"But what if I don't deserve it?" Artemis asked, looking him straight in the eye. "I've done a lot of bad things."
"Then this is your time to rectify them," he said simply, "Now let's go. You have a lunch date."
"Bruce Wayne, apparently Batman thinks it's a good idea to meet the man who's giving you a scholarship."
"Do we always have to do what he says?"
"Alice! Your date is here!"
Artemis bit her lip, slipped a green form fitting sweater on and stepped outside her room.
Live and have fun.
She could do that.
Gotham City, August 29th
In another world he might have believed her.
Maybe if things were different and he wasn't a crime fighting sidekick, then, sure; she was telling the truth. He would have accepted her story without a second thought. He would send her a charming smile and change the topic.
Maybe if fate hadn't been so cruel he wouldn't even be here, sitting at an expensive restaurant in a suit and tie; he would be back at the circus, leaping and practicing for the night's performance.
If only things were different.
But things weren't, and the truth of the matter was that he was Robin. He's a superhero and he was trained to save lives. He was trained to read body language. He was trained to detect lies. And everytime 'Alice' made a supposed statement of fact she would fidget. She would reach up and touch the end of her braid and then touch her fourth finger on her left hand. These repetitions in her behavior all pointed to it; she was lying.
He couldn't do anything about it, of course. He was Dick Grayson at the moment and Dick Grayson did not go around accusing scholarship students of lying. Besides, if Burce trusted her, he should too. So instead of pressing matters further, Dick Grayson did what he did best.
He glanced at her hand, which lay upon the table. Her ring finger donned a silver band with an oval opal.
"Nice ring," he said conversationally, raising his eyebrows at her while she took a drink, watching for a reaction.
She blinked and set her water down between them before looking straight at him.
"Nice eyes," she says, matching his tone. And for a moment both of them sat there and stared, neither of them breaking the gaze.
"So," Bruce said as he returned to the table, "who wants desert?"
Later on at dinner, Dick brought up Alice. He asked numerous questions about her, one firing after another. Bruce answered with the same speed.
"She seems like a nice girl."
"Where is she from again?"
"Does she have a dog."
"Is she a naturally brunette?"
"I think so. Why?"
"She doesn't seem like a brunette. How old is she?"
"Fifteen, I believe."
"What happened to the other girl? The one who rejected the letter?"
"She rejected it. Simple as that."
"She had a nice ring on."
"Eat your broccoli."
The Little Café, August 30th
When she and Wally entered the store he immediately steered her over to two teens in the back corner. She noticed with pleasant surprise that one of them was Megan.
"Guys, this is Alice. She saved my life," Wally announced dramatically.
Artemis blushed, and shook Conner's hand. "I helped him up when he fell," she stated bluntly.
Conner looked at Wally, "You fell?" Wally ignored him.
Megan laughed, "We've already met; Alice is one of my dorm mates." She gave Artemis a tiny wave.
After retrieving their drinks (and in Wally's case a couple of hundred cookies), she and Wally took a seat on the couch adjacent to theirs. They fell into easy conversation when the door to the shop opened up once again, this time letting in two younger students. Artemis felt her eyes widen and she groaned loudly. Oh hell no.
Wally looked towards the door and grinned. "Hey, Conner, check it out."
Conner looked over and saw one of his roommates walking into the store. "Oh, yeah, it's Vincent."
"What?" Wally asked but continued without waiting for a response, "Actually that's Richard. Dick for short."
"Oh. That's what I meant," Conner said waving him off.
"Dude, we don't even have a Vincent," Wally said in disbelief. "I think you meant Hector."
"Right," Connor said before changing the topic. "Who's he with?"
Megan squinted, "Oh! That's Barbara. She's a freshman; she's in house 8 too."
Artemis turned from the door and willed them not to notice her, but karma didn't seem to be on her side today.
"Alice!" came Dick's voice from behind her. "Didn't think I'd see you here! What a surprise!" He moved into her view, Barbara right behind him.
Alice glared, "Yeah. What a coincidence."
Wally looked between Dick and Alice suspiciously, and at the same time as Barbara: "Wait, wait! You two know each other?"
Alice raised an eyebrow, "Kind of. Do you?" Wally sent her a confused glance. "Do you know Dick?"
"Of course," Wally said loudly, until he noticed Dick's face. "Not! Of course not! Uh. Well. We, uh, we're dorm mates," he finished lamely before grabbing Conner's cookie.
"Wally!" Conner slapped his arm, "That's mine!" Wally gave a cry of protest and hit him back. They engaged in an all out slap fest causing Artemis to snicker into her hand.
Megan frowned, "Guys, stop it; people are staring!" A flurry of complains and moans were being thrown out in response to Megan's chiding. Soon enough the three of them formed a full on argument and Alice couldn't help but smile at their antic; they seemed close, like a family.
Dick seemed to read her mind, "You guys seem friendly; how do you three know each other?"
The three of them stopped arguing immediately. Megan blinked, Conner stole back his cookie, and Wally shot Dick a look.
"Uh, pardon?" Megan asked, clearly flustered.
"You guys seem to know each other well, you from the same town or something?" Dick continued easily, sitting down on the couch opposite from them. Barbara followed suit.
"Yeah. You guys seem pretty tight," she offered.
"No, we're not –" Conner said at the same time as Wally's "Yes we are." Dick cackled.
Megan smiled as if an idea struck her, "Conner and I are dating. He and Wally are from the same house and Conner thought he should introduce me." Conner seemed surprised at this piece of information, like it was news.
As did Wally. He choked on air, "You're what?" he spluttered out. Even Dick looked shocked for a moment before composing himself.
Well that's a first, Artemis thought wryly. In an effort to join the conversation, she turned to Barbara, "So how do you and Dick know each other? You guys dating too?" She asked slyly.
Dick snapped his head to look at her, "Nah. Babs and I are just friends."
"Best friends," Barbara added, "We've known each other since middle school."
"I'm so sorry," Artemis said teasingly.
Barbara giggled, "He's not that bad once you get to know him."
"Nevermind that," Wally interjected, waving his hands in front of them, "How do you know Dick?" The question was directed to her, but Mr. Troll over there decided to answer for her.
"We had lunch yesterday," Dick said casually, paying no attention to the way Wally's mouth fell open.
"Did not!" Artemis called out after looking at Wally.
"You are so annoying," Artemis snapped out, holding back a laugh.
"Hey, I'm just trying to speak the truth. Don't deny it! We had lunch!"
"I had lunch with Mr. Wayne, you were simply a tag-along."
"Well someone is a bit touchy.!" Dick sneered, "Don't worry; I'm sure your boyfriend doesn't mind."
"Dude!" Wally said incredulously, joining in on their argument, while Artemis cried, "He's not my boyfriend!"
Megan, on the other hand, smiled and in a loud stage whisper: "Awh, they're so cute!"
Conner furrowed his brows, "Who? Wally and Dick?"
Barbara let out a roar of laughter, "I think she meant Alice and Wally."
Megan shook her head, "I was actually talking about all three of them. They're so adorable."
Conner looked confused again, "In a friend way? Or –"
Megan looked scandalized as Barbara let out another loud laugh and then abruptly stopped for the door opened once again, this time revealing a pretty girl with black hair and blue eyes. Barbara's green eyes brightened at the sight of her new friend.
"Zee! Zee! Over here!" she called, the group fell quiet as the girl approached them.
Watchtower, August 19th
(dun, dun, dun)
"I don't see your point."
Superman stood up, "You have to admit. That is risky. Imagine if word got out about who she was. That she was Sportsmaster's daughter. Do you know what a scandal it would cause among the public. It might not matter to us, but to them it always matters."
Green Arrow stood up as well, "Then we'll make sure they don't."
"And how do you propose we do that?" Martian Manhunter asked.
"I have that taken care of. I have arranged something with Zatatra." Everyone glanced at Batman. Including Zatara.
"So I take it the charm I gave you is for the child?" Zatara inquired.
"C'mon guys, this girl is obviously good. Look at what she's doing! She's choosing her own path! She's doing the right thing. And she's doing it herself. Isn't that how well all started? With simple thieves and bad guys? This girl obviously has the potential!" Green Arrow said.
"So do you propose you train her? You already have one sidekick; do you want another? Are you even ready for another?" Wonderwoman challenged.
Silence filled the room once again.
It's funny how things work out.
(because Fate is cruel. and, in this world, there's no such thing as coincidence.)
The girl walked over and smiled. She introduced herself to the group and Dick, who had met Zatanna earlier, proceeded to introduce everyone individually.
"That's Alice. She's mean - "
"Hey! I take offense!" Alice hit him on the arm.
Dick ignored her, "And that's Wally. He's a bit dense."
Wally looked up, "Huh?"
"That's Conner and Megan. They're dating apparently."
They both gave her sheepish smiles, "Sit down, you must be tired from walking here," Megan made space for her on the couch
"I'm Dick, but you already knew that and you know Babs… So I think we're all good here."
"Except for the fact that you called me 'mean'!" Alice huffed.
"Yeah!" Wally agreed. "And I am so not dead!"
"He said dense, Wally."
"Oh. Well I'm not either!"
And it happened like that.
Soon the seven of them were engaged in banter of some sort, none of them realizing how comfortable they were with one another. They joked and shared stories of what their home was like and without acknowledging it they started something new. They started a friendship that night, a friendship that would, a few days later, be officially announced under that big oak tree way over there.
It was a night to remember. A night that seemed like it could go on forever. But alas, time kept moving and curfew approached causing each of them to say good bye until the next day.
It's just funny how things work out.
Gotham Academy Gym, August 30th
"What are the chances that Amazo and Ivo would show up at school?" Kid Flash called out, flipping away from Amazo.
"If you asked me an hour ago, I'd say slim to none!" Robin yelled, "Er. This is such a disaster! Heavy on the 'dis'." They boy cackled while Superboy just groaned at Robin's horrendous assault on the English language. "Feeling the 'aster' yet?"
"Robin, shut up!" Kid Flash said, apparently sharing Superboy's pain.
Robin laughed and after dodging a particularly heavy punch from Amazo, asked "Dude, have you contacted Miss Martian or Kaldur yet?"
"No luck!" Kid Flash said before zooming away towards Amazo, hoping to land a punch, no doubt.
Unfortunately, he wasn't fast enough. Amazo had managed to grab and lock him in a tight awkward sort of hug; he was going to end up squeezing him to death.
Robin's scream echoed throughout the gym and managed to reach the ears of a certain green archer who was outside attending to some of Ivo's robotic monkeys.
Why are there monkeys out here? That thought was going through her head the moment she heard Robin's echo. She shot another arrow successfully impaling the monkey to a nearby tree, and in an effort to investigate the scream (and shake off the rest of the monkeys) she jumped onto the window and peered into the gym.
Her eyes widened upon seeing Kid Flash. I can't let him die.
She instinctively strung her bow and fired. She waited for the blow to come, however, almost fell over in surprise as the robot turned directly to her.
"Access Martian Manhunter." He disappeared, the arrow flying straight through him, landing on the opposite side of the gym; Kid Flash, luckily, fell through his arms and once regaining the ability to breathe zoomed away.
Artemis let out a breath she hadn't realized she had been holding thinking, He's safe, before jumping back onto the lawn to finish with the monkeys off.
A few minutes and a game of keep away later, the three young heroes high fived each other, smirking at the broken robot.
Miss M and Kaldur ran into the gym, "Are you guys okay?" Miss M called out, helping Superboy up.
"Fine," Superboy smiled and cast a glance at Robin who was frantically taking the robot apart. "Totally feeling the 'aster'."
"Seriously. Isn't that too much of a coincidence?" Robin said two hours later at the cave. They had just finished reporting back to Batman and the others. "I don't think he just happened to be passing by."
"You want to know what's not a coincidence?" Kid Flash said angrily, waving a green arrow around, "This." He thrust the arrow into Robin's hands. Robin turned accusingly at Green Arrow.
"You're babysitting us because you still don't trust us!"
"That's not my arrow," Green Arrow said with a chuckle. He drew an arrow out of his quiver and held it up in comparison
"Oh." Disappointment and confusion hazed over Robin's features when suddenly: "Speedy!"
Robin and Kid Flash turned to one another, comprehension dawning simultaneously on their faces. Kaldur let out a smile, "He has our backs."
Kid Flash managed to grab the arrow back. "Souvenir!"
Artemis quietly slipped into her room, her costume and arrows both safely stashed in a bag and placed in a loose floor board up in the attic. As she opened the door, she was surprised to find Zatanna, who was very much asleep when she left, reading a book on her bed.
"Well aren't you out late?" Zatanna teased, "Breaking curfew by about four hours. And on your first night. Very impressive."
"I couldn't sleep," Artemis muttered, avoiding her gaze and climbing into bed. "So I went on a walk."
Zatanna smiled knowingly, secretly eyeing the ring that glinted in the soft yellow light of her lamp.
"Well invite me next time!" Zatanna exclaimed after a momentary pause.
Artemis, who was already curled under her blanket waved a hand, "I don't think I'll be taking a walk for a while." And just like that she fell into an easy sleep,
Zatanna listened to her breathing quietly and observed her room mate for a while before whispering, "Whatever you say, Blondie."
And with that, Zatanna reached over and switched off the light.
Just outside their door, M'gann, now in her human form, crept into her own room. Thanking whoever was watching down upon her that her room mates didn't notice a thing. As she settled into bed, she let herself remember how nice it was to hold Conner's hand.
Two beds over, Bette's eyes fluttered open.
In house 32, Conner and Wally were in a similar situation, and to their (or maybe just Conner's) relief, their tiny room mate was in his bed sound asleep, not even flinching at the inhumane noise Wally made when he saw Dick sleeping.
"How in the world?" Wally finally managed to splutter. Conner shushed him quietly, and after changing, got into his own bed and closed his eyes.
Wally shook his head in disbelief, muttering something about how much he hated trolls before following suit.
It's funny how things worked out.
None of them knew what they had started that night. None of them registered it, as they each lay in their new beds and looked up at the ceiling, that their futures were set as Fate carved it into stone.
But they did acknowledge, in the very back of their minds, that it was rather odd that they all happened to be dorm mates. Later on they would realize, admittedly to a lesser degree than they should, that it was also some sort of coincidence that Wally had decided to trip and 'Alice' was there to help him up. They noted that it was quite a stoke of luck that Babs and Zee met up and became fast friends, because their group of seven would actually be six and no one wanted that (Not yet anyway). And months from now they would realize it was really such a fortunate coincidence they all decided to head to The Little Café.
It's really funny how things work out.
Some may call it a coincidence; pure and absolute chance. Or maybe it was just luck; Fate just decided to be friendly one day and give you a gift complete with pretty wrapping paper and a bow.
But you and I both know that isn't the case; we know that Fate is cruel, and, in this world, there's no such thing as coincidence.
So, if you do happen to find yourself in a situation you would call a 'coincidence', you should be extra careful. It's Fate's way of warning you; silently telling you to beware. Silently whispering that it's your turn to be made a fool.
And scene! Reviews with thoughts and or criticism! Hopefully this wasn't too confusing. It's all so rushed though….