When he first realized he was in love with her, he was lying in bed in a fit of insomnia. It wasn't any special day, just another Thursday of soaking in the summer heat on his laptop and looking at the new scientific breakthroughs on the numerous news sites he visits when he's looking for inspiration for a new experiment.
The digital bedside clock read 2:17, with its colon blinking red, on and off and on and off. He stared at it until he felt faintly catatonic and somewhat captured in a trance. His thoughts whizzed by (when did they not? He is a speedster, after all. No doubt he likes it when things go quickly.) He didn't really mind it, though. He was used to thinking much faster than most people (he and Dick where best friends because somehow, even without the super speed, Dick could keep up with him). He had learned to rush by his thoughts, not lingering when something odd came up as to not upset himself. But somehow he caught it; in the midst of thinking about that soft snort she makes when she laughs so hard and is left gasping for breath, the word "love" came into his head.
Of course, he tried to shake it off. It was only June. They were only just beginning, just allowing the summer-shaded sun to let them soak up the birth of their relationship. They were no longer just enemies, acquaintances, teammates, friends, but lovers? There was the word again! Love. It was ringing in his ears, reverberating in his head.
He rubbed his fingertips together. It was getting out of hand, this thought of his. It should have floated away by that time. Love? It must be the hormones, all that fucking dopamine and seratonin and adrenaline going to his head and making him insane. It had happened before, with that Cassidy girl who moved after eighth grade and really got him worked up (He was a pubescent teenaged boy; as far as he was considered, it was perfectly normal, perfectly natural, perfectly human). But this was different. This was Artemis Crock, who could as easily kill a fly as she could a human. The same Artemis Crock who had seen him half naked in the pool after a couple of runs and taken his shirt and pants, laughing and gloating to Robin that he had been idiotic enough to leave his clothes in the middle of the place. (The same Artemis Crock he had seen go swimming some time in November in that same pool. The same Artemis Crock whose perfect curves had somehow imprinted themselves in his mind since that day.) And yet, science couldn't explain how his stomach turned in knots all over itself when he thought about how her tongue darts around in her mouth when she writes or how, before faking a certain attack, the right side of her mouth jotted upward in some kind of sadistic smirk. Somehow, it was still unclear to him. Something inside of him was sounding, like a gong that was repeatedly smashed. "I love her," it seemed to chime. It wouldn't go away. It just stayed there, unwavering as if it was a dead insect in his head.
It was 3:43 and he was wide awake. Sleep seemed far away, unreachable, and too good to be true. He began to count the stars he remembers (When he was 11, his aunt gave him a chart of a bunch of stars and their sizes that he'd been memorizing since that day) Sirius. Pollux and Castor. Betelguese, Cannis major... The list of those untouchable things in the sky just kept increasing in length, longer and longer and more obscure from view. Somewhere there her names appears, like a mismatched red sock among whites. He doesn't know how it happens. Her name isn't among those of the celestial bodies, but it's the kind of name that seems to print in bold next to the thin lettered fonts. To him, she might as well be a star, though. She seemed out of reach and somehow, with a lot of jumping and grasping and pent up muscle, he managed to catch that slippery plastic string that coils down and out of the blonde tangled mess she calls her hair and he calls perfection. And so, the words replayed again and again until somehow he manages to shut his eyes for a minute or two, before groggily waking up with a groan from the lower portion of his throat.
He leaves a note for his mom pinned to the refrigerator with childish, faded magnets that spell out his name (He favours the lime-coloured "A" because it reminds him of the bow that used to be situated in the room full of his termed "souvenirs") His laces were tied, his shirt on, and his clock blinking 5:14.
The moment he stepped outside, he knew it was a good day to run, but a bad time. The sun was peaking just over the trees lining the old home of his babysitter that got pregnant a decade before. He decided to run that way, rather than toward the towering city buildings and corporate sellouts, even if that way was the east and sent rays of light directly into his eyes. He didn't really mind; at least it was something other than the clichely dubbed "L-word." When he runs, he doesn't really think. Somehow his feet take over and become his eyes and his brain and they just move on their own. He always commented about how he could be the next Olympic gold-medalist in running, and more often than not, he received a smack on the head and a comment of how big-headed he was from Artemis)
He arrived at the top of the hill with nothing more than a slight pant. The hill was pretty small, but he distinctly remembered how large it seemed when he was small and naive and ingenuous. He used to go up there whenever he had a chance to play with his old friend Jaime and they'd run up the hill and race to climb the sycamore tree with few leaves and too many crackling branches. The last day he was up there was when he was eight and a quarter and broke a small, unstable branch as well as his arm. His mom berated him on the way to the hospital, but he didn't mind because Uncle Barry and Aunt Iris always came with some ice cream and a new story about work that never failed to interest him.
He doesn't notice it until he's about a story from the bottom, his foot dangling precariously from the edge. That's when the word- "love"- came back and left him climbing higher and higher until he was possibly going to drop and the branch was possibly going to shatter. He remembered the view being more majestic- more untouchable and intriguing and amazing- but as he let his sinewy legs rest, something seemed to appear out of the sky's edge.
It began as a wave, cascading and golden and glowing and slowly eating up the sky's surface. It reminded him of her hair and how it gets tangled up in itself if left unbrushed for a night. He recalled that time they slept side by side and how he could smell some musk and a hint of coconut in it; he remembered how he woke up with gold all around his face and tickling his nose.
The gold ate up the rest of the sky's faded pink and purple and blues of the night that past and the word kept coming back to him. Love. Love. He didn't dare voice it. That would have made it real and a sixteen-year-old in love is the kind of thing that parents scoff at and tell their friends about with cynicism. But as the gold ate up the sky and the sky faded from black to a pale blue, he knew he couldn't stop it. It was either wait in that tree until his mother freaked out, called Uncle Barry and have themselves a manly talk about love, or admit his feelings now and let himself carry on with his day.
He walked back home, his mind focused on his decision. Love. He loved her from the long, unkempt toenails she gets too lazy to cut, to the ferocity of her part that doesn't let the shorter bit of the blond fall any other way than in the odd, air-pocketed bangs she wears daily.
His mother had pancakes for him when he gets home. The syrup reminded him of her, probably because he knows she loves them, as she had mentioned to M'gann one day a few months back. His mom asked how his sleep was and he said the standard "fine" and carried on, stuffing his mouth with pancakes and syrup and orange juice.
The words would have to wait.
(He didn't tell her he loved her until late the following January, when she had pelted him with a snowball in the face and tackled him when he tried to run back behind a building to take cover and prepare to launch another attack. She hadn't said it back, but the way she looked at him and rapidly reached down and blown snow into his face said what her mouth wasn't willing to yet.)
Hey, guys! Long time no write! Have y'all been keeping up with the show because I know I have! So much of me is waiting for some Spitfire or at least some Wally action, but he's been so out of the picture! My heart feels like it's literally breaking because the show's stopping... my heart will not go on right now. But I'm going to try to keep YJ alive in our hearts somewhat with more stories.
I'm thinking of starting up an action story when I finish this, but I don't wanna start it now because, knowing me, I'm going to get sidetracked and forget about this story, which I don't want to do because I promised myself I'd finish a multi-chapter story before my birthday (so expect loads of updates between the days of March 17 and June 18, okay? I'll try my best to finish this up between those dates!)
I was also thinking about including an M rated chapter, but leaving this at T. I'll indicate beforehand, of course, whether or not the chapter with the, for lack of better term, explicit scene comes up, but it's most definitely a few chapters away and I just thought I'd give you all a heads up.
As for the usual, I don't own Young Justice or the characters, just a teensy bit of the plot written in this story and a few unfamiliar characters. If I owned Young Justice, it would never end and I would make a movie and make Wally more important this season (not to insult master Greg because he's a genius).