Chapter 2 – The Blemishes and Scars That Make Us Who We Are

January 2nd, 2016

Artemis pondered her new boyfriend's words and she walked through the streets of Gotham towards the bus station. Sure, she could have taken the rooftops, but she opted for the slower, easier route to give her time to calm down about her date. Butterflies in the stomach, flushed cheeks… damn, she had it bad for the ginger speedster.

Bitterly cold winds whipped around her, Gotham streets being the equivalent of wind tunnels, and she shivered hard enough to pull the hood of her jacket over her head. She entertained herself by watching her breath, flashing back to when she and her sister would play in the snow, pretending to be dragons blowing steam at each other.

Those days were long gone.

She shook her head while getting onto the bus she needed, paying the driver as she forced her thoughts away from her family angst and back to the happier subject of her new boyfriend.

Frustration ran through her at his final words; how could he possibly text her if he didn't have her phone number? The only communication methods they had were computer and an emergency communicator used for only that: emergencies. Using it for anything less than a super villain taking over the city would cause Batman to step in.

And Batman was pretty damn scary when he was angry.

Yes Artemis did have a cellphone; what self-respecting teenage girl with a social life didn't? But she strictly used it for her regular life: school friends, family, etcetera. Only one person on the team had her cellphone number and that was Zatanna because they were friends outside of the team as well as often hung out for reasons other than patrolling.

… And unofficial patrolling too.

By the time the bus reached her block, she had decided that Wally probably meant he would contact her through her computer. Disembarking her bus, she jogged the distance from the stop to her apartment, and took the stairs two at a time (she never used the elevator, anything to help keep her legs looking fantastic). Unlocking her apartment door and sliding in, she smiled at the familiar scent wafting through the air.

Her mom had made pho.

"Mẹ! Tôi về nhà!" she called out, switching to Vietnamese: her mother's language.

"Artemis! You are home!" she heard her mother, and she hurried to the kitchen to throw her arms around the former assassin. Paula wrapped her arms around her daughter so tight that Artemis swore she heard her ribs creak, "I am so glad you are okay. I was so worried! Taking on the Justice League, even to return them to normal…"

"Mom, I'm fine. We're all fine. Everything went great. We beat the bad guys, and the good guys are all safe. The team saved the day and the world." Artemis said, resting a hand on Paula's hair while kissing her forehead.

"I know. And I'm so proud of you." Her mother replied, her smile warm and genuine.

"Now," Artemis switched to Vietnamese again, "I take it you made me my favorite because I saved the day?"

"Yes," Paula replied, "Every superhero deserves a reward for saving the world. For my daughter, she gets pho."

"Mmmmmm," Artemis started to move about the kitchen, grabbing bowls, chopsticks, and cups while her mother moved the food to the dining room, "Mom, you're the best."

The mother-daughter pair shared dinner- true, homemade pho, no cheap ingredients involved- while Artemis regaled Paula with her recent adventures. This was their first night eating together in a while thanks to her after school hobby, and they reveled in every minute of it. It was while they were splitting a carton of melon ice cream (picked up at a nearby Asian bodega) when Artemis finally came clean.

"So… Mom…" she said slowly, stuffing another heaping spoonful of the delicious dairy product to stall for more time, "Do you remember Wally?"

"You mean the speedster you've had a crush on this whole time?" Paula replied slyly

Red flushed through her cheeks, "Mom! What are you talking about! I didn't like him from the beginning!"

Paula waved one hand, "Nonsense. I know my daughter, and I know teenage romance. The way you talked about Wally? I knew that you definitely liked him." She smirked, "You know, he isn't bad on the eyes. Very tall, and with those eyes…"

"Mẹ!" Artemis groaned, her face deepening to match even Wally's hair color, and burrowing her face in her hands "Seriously."

"I only speak the truth. You definitely liked the boy, you could just never admit it until a few months ago. But don't let me distract you. What about Wally?" Paula smiled warmly, and Artemis returned it. Despite their differences, Artemis adored her mother. Especially with all that she'd given up, and how hard she worked to make sure that at least Artemis had stayed on the good side after returning from prison, Artemis knew that her mother had her best interests in mind. No matter how annoying. Paula may not have had time to save Jade, but she'd saved her youngest. Not that Artemis needed saving since she was already determined to be a hero, but it was the thought that counted.

"Well, after the whole saving the Justice League… We kinda celebrated." Paula's eyes narrowed.

"Do I need to have the talk with you again?" she asked sharply.

"Gah, no!" Artemis cried, "One, as you've stated, we've already had that talk. Two, a little too late isn't it?"

"If I had anything to say about it, it wouldn't be too late." Paula hissed.

"Mom, we've had this fight plenty of times. Yes, you're mad I'm not a virgin. No, I can't change that. Yes, you should get over it because being mad that I've had sex like all the other teenagers out there is silly. Just be glad I was smart and I know what the hell condoms are." She abruptly changed the subject to avoid the fight she knew was coming, "Anyways! I thought you should know that Wally is my boyfriend. We're going out tomorrow night; he's picking me up so you'll even be able to meet him."

Paula was quiet for a moment, then sighed, "Fine. But I demand that I will have a moment to speak to Wally. Alone."

Artemis sniggered, "Are you going to threaten him with a shotgun."

"I don't need a shotgun. I may not have use of my legs, but I'm not helpless." The two shared a smirk.

"I almost feel bad for him. Almost." Artemis sniggered, "But I suppose it's your parental right to threaten my boyfriend."

"At least he's better than that Cameron you told me about." Paula said.

"Ugh, don't even remind me." Artemis groaned.

"I will remind you, so you never make the same mistake again." Paula replied firmly.

"Trust me, Mom, I won't." moving to clean up their dishes, the blonde swept off towards the kitchen, "Besides, Wally is already leaps ahead of Cam. First off he's not a criminal, and he's…. Wally. He's a dork but he's a really good guy."

"I will determine that for myself." Paula had wheeled herself into the kitchen and the two began to work together cleaning up their mess. Artemis laughed.

"You do that. God forbid a boyfriend doesn't pass my mother's inspection." Her mother flicked water at her for that, and she laughed.

After they were done the dishes they parted way, with Artemis taking solace in a hot shower before going her room to clean up her arrows and relax for the first time in days. Wrapping up her hair in a towel-turban she laid out on her bed, groaning as she slipped into the familiar indents. That was her favorite things about home: her bed. Having the same bed for ten years, it was molded perfectly to her body and it always helped her drift into dreamland and away from the horrors of her real life while her father was her only parental unit.

She didn't even both checking her laptop before she drifted off.

January 3rd, 2016

Her phone was what woke her in the morning, the vibrations sounding unnaturally loud on her wooden dresser. Groaning, she rolled out of bed and padded across the room to grabbing the demonic little electronic, clicking answer without even checking the ID.

"It's seven o'clock in the morning on a Sunday. Why the hell am I getting a phone call?" she snapped, running a hand through her hair.

"Funny, that's the same thing Tats said when I call her. You guys need to be better at waking up." Artemis groaned at the perky voice on the other end, and face planted back into her bed.

"Tori, I'm going to kill you." She said, trying to clear her voice of her morning gravely-ness.

"C'mon Artemis! Paula texted me that you we back home, and you own me and Tats a girls day! We haven't seen you in a week! Tats is already getting up. We're picking you up in an hour. Be ready." Artemis looked at her phone, now blinking to inform her that Tori had hung up on her. Groaning she buried her face into her pillow, trying to will herself back to sleep. When that did not work she made her way to the bathroom to freshen up. Face wash, toothbrush, all that good stuff and she shuffled out of the bathroom to the kitchen when her mother sat, waiting on a kettle of hot water.

"Mom… Did you text Tats and Tori last night that I was home?" she asked, rubbing one eye.

"Yes." Paula replied, "Your friends had been pestering me every day on Facebook asking me where you went. I got tired of it so I told them I would text them when you get home. And I did not want to suffer the repercussions of lying to your friends."

"No," Artemis said, "That's pretty smart. But seriously… Seven AM? I'm going to kill Tori when she gets here."

"They are on their way?"

"Unfortunately." She grabbed the cup of tea her mother offered and took an eager sip. She could always trust her mom to get the good stuff. Fresh import from the source, no middle man.

"Well. I suppose I should make some-"

"No. They don't deserve your coffee. They don't get any. They woke me at seven AM on a Sunday Mom! A Sunday!" Artemis growled, moving to the fridge to pull out eggs. The only thing that beat Paula's tea was her coffee, "I just finished fighting off the Justice League and saved the world again. Is it too much to ask for a little bit of extra sleep?!"

"Now Artemis, don't be hateful." She said chiding, wheeling herself so she could assist her daughter.

"Nope. No mercy. I wanted to sleep in. If they want to wake me up this early they have to pay the consequences and that means no coffee for them." Artemis said, and together they made their breakfast. True to her word, there was an eager knocking at the door an hour after Artemis had first rolled out of her bed. Instead of answering, Artemis chose to rest her head on her arms on top of the table. Paula sighed, and went to answer instead. Artemis heard her two friends chattering excitedly with her Mom and she rolled her eyes.

Tori came in first. Red hair streaked with white tied into pigtails and the personality that Artemis related to a Chihuahua. She was easily the most excitable person Artemis had ever met, and somehow made it work in an attractive personality. She preferred to make people uncomfortable; pushing their buttons was her favorite past time. That was why they got along; yes she was an extreme personality, but they clicked.

Tati, on the other hand, was a Brazilian immigrant, having been in America for about ten years. She had all the features of a Brazilian, and she worked them so she drew the eye of every person in the room. Sleek black hair that hung to her shoulder blades, and shimmering brown eyes to match. She was a lot calmer than Tori… when Tori wasn't around.

"You guys… suck." Artemis grunted.

"C'mon chicka!" Tori trilled, resting her hands on her grumpy friend's shoulders, "We haven't seen you in weeks. And you owe us! School's tomorrow and we need a day on the town. Today is our only option, because tomorrow we lose you to the prestigious Gotham Academy again."

"I'm not really that bad, am I?" Artemis muttered.

"No one blames you of course." Tati assured, "I mean with the heavy school load that GA provides and your extracurriculars, we know how busy you get. But we made sure to check with Paula that you'd be free today to hang out and relax for once. Seriously, we're spa-ing it up because you need this day off. Then you get back to the homework load."

Artemis gave Tori a look, "You actually managed to let Tats complete that many sentences without butting in? I'm surprised."

Tori was actually looking at her strangely, her cocoa eyes narrowly carefully. Then without a word she grabbed underneath Artemis's armpits and hoisted her up and out of the kitchen, down the hall, into the bedroom. Tati trailed after them, her head cocked to the side in confusion.

"Hey, Tor-Hey! Ow! What's up!" Artemis cried, stumbling a bit when Tori finally released her, crossing her arms a nodding to Tati.

"Shut the door." She commanded and the Brazilian complied, "Now, why is my lay-dar going off?"

"Tori you don't have a lay-dar. I'm telling you." Artemis defended, crossing her arms.

"Uh-uh honey. My lay-dar has never been wrong. You know and I know that I know that I'm right." All three girls glanced at each other in confusion, "I have no idea what I just said."

"She makes a good point Artemis. Tori knew when you and Cameron did the deed when you weren't even telling us you were… seeing him." Tati said, sitting on the second bed in the room with a dramatic bounce.

"Lucky guess." Artemis replied, her eyes flicking down to stare at her feet. Tori grinned, victorious.

"AH HA! Spill it! C'mon, who did you?! Is he hot, is he a he? Or a she? Tell us the dirty details!" Tori bounced onto the bed next to Tati, her eyes alight with excitement.

"You are way too interested in my sex life. Both of you." She glared at the two girls stared at her expectantly, "And we didn't sleep together, so get those creepy looks off of your faces."

"So there is a guy!" Tati trilled, quivering in excitement, "Tell us about him! What's he like?"

"Pain in the ass, for one." Artemis replied, "I actually really disliked him for a while."

Both girls oo-ed in synchronization, before Tati asked, "Does he go to GA with you?"

"Y-Yeah. He does." Artemis lied. Neither of her best friends knew of her identity, but she did it purely for their safety considering her father and sister. She didn't want to risk their lives if Sportsmaster and Cheshire found out two civilians knew. Plus she knew the Justice League wouldn't be that happy.

"What's his name?" Tori sang, shifting so she could rest on her belly.

"His name's Wally. We just starting dating so no, you're not meeting him yet so you can get all crazy possessive and protective. Although we are going on a date tonight." Artemis replied, relaxing against her pillows.

Both girls squealed, and jumped over onto Artemis's bed making it rather crowded. Tati grabbed Artemis's hands, "Then it's perfect that we're having a spa day! We are going to make you look super hot for your date tonight. And while we are getting super pampered, you are going to tell us all about Wally, and how he managed to break down those tough ol' walls around your heart!"

Artemis looked up to her ceiling, praying for something, anything, to save her. But alas, there was nothing she could do to protect herself from the wrath of her two best friends.

January 3rd, 2013

Artemis walked into her apartment building, unable to tell if she felt more relaxed, or more tense after the day she'd just had. Her friends decided to go even further on their spa day than they had intended. So after the massage (granted she'd needed that bad), the facials, and the mani/pedi's (the look on the worker's face when she's seen Artemis's calluses was pretty hilarious), Tori and Tati had dragged her to a hair stylist and out shopping for an outfit despite not knowing where she was going tonight.

"Mom. Remind me to never let you talk to my friends again." Artemis groaned, dropping her shopping bags as she threw a half-hearted glare at her mother, who was snickering behind one hand.

"Come on Artemis. You know your friends do that because they love you, and they rarely ever see you." Paula said smoothly, following Artemis to her room so the archer kick her bags in there.

"I feel like they weren't this intense before I went to Gotham Academy." Artemis grunted, heading to the kitchen to grab a drink and a snack.

"No, you're right. They're definitely louder than they were before. Especially Tori, though Tati gets pretty close." Paula laughed.

"I didn't think it was possible for a spa day to stress someone out. But I think it did. The massage was great though. You should go there Mom, you'd enjoy it." Artemis drained her cup of water, sighing and refilling it since having a massage meant needing to ensure extra hydration.

"Maybe." Artemis snorted at her mother's noncommittal answer.

"Mom, just because you've turned over a new leaf doesn't mean you have to avoid pampering yourself once and a while. You do so much for me, you should have a day to yourself. Promise me you'll get out and have a relax day?" she asked, not understanding the odd sheen that came to her mother's eyes.

"Okay Artemis. I will. Promise." Paula said simply, reaching out to squeeze her daughter's hand.

Artemis grinned, and kissed the top of her mom's head before moving into her room. She was worried that Wally would have tried to contact her while she was out, and was worried about whether or not she'd have the right clothes to wear.

'Look at me, worrying about the right kind of clothes to wear around Wally' she thought, rolling her eyes at the thought, 'Who knew?'

Bustling around her room while keeping a sharp eye on her laptop, she glanced back at the bags laying innocently on the floor next to her door. Sighing, she lugged them onto her bed and pulled a few of the articles out. Of course her wonderful best friends had forced her into the lingerie section of the mall and forced her to purchase something. So she'd gone with more of a gag purchase than anything else. Tati's eyebrows had risen high as the tiny Flash-themed panties with matching bra, and Artemis had laughed.

"What, can't I have my own favorite super hero? I know for a fact you sleep in Batman pajamas, and Tori has her infamous Robin thong." She had told her friends with sass that rivaled Tori.

She'd received a high-five for that.

She eyed her full-length mirror after sliding into the articles, admiring the cut of the panties; she couldn't lie, her ass looked fantastic. The bra was pretty simple with very minor lifting support, yellow with red edging and little red lightning bolts right where her nips were. Overall, it was hot in a geeky fanatical kind of way.

"Wally would laugh at me for days." She mumbled, snorting with laughter and moving to her bags once more. With still no message from the speester- something that was really starting to either bug her or worry her she couldn't tell which- she pulled out the outfit that Tati the fashionista had spent two hours debating and wheedling Artemis into buying. Rolling her eyes she pulled out the skinny jeans and set about trying to fit into then.

It took about five minutes to do that alone.

After throwing on the shirt, a silky black tan top with golden swirls that ended higher on one side than the other, she glanced at the time. She huffed a little bit when she realized that it as ten minutes before six, and she still had not received a single message from Wally.

"Jerkwad is going to stand me up on our first date? Such an ass." She grumbled furiously.

"Now that's just harsh beautiful!" her subsequent scream of fright had a hand quickly covering her mouth and she was looking into bright green eyes.

"'Ally!" her voice was muffled when she realized just who was in her room. With her mother not that far away.

"Shhhhh! Do you want to get me in trouble?! I have no intention of having your mom finding out that I snuck in through your window." Wally said, his eyes darting to the door and then back to her.

She pulled his hand off from over her mouth, "What the hell are you doing here? And how long have you been here?!"

A light pinking of the cheeks meant that she knew he was lying when he quickly said, "I just showed up!" But she let him off with a simple narrowing of the eyes.

"I've been waiting for your message all day. I thought you said you'd message me!" she hissed, putting both hands on her hips.

"I said I'd text you." Wally replied, "And I did!"

In the blink of an eye he had dashed across the room, went into her jacket, and was back before she could even blink. He held her phone in front of her eyes.

"See? I texted you. When I got no response I got worried. So I came early to check on you." He said, and Artemis took her phone and realized there were indeed three new message on her phone.

You look great in that shirt ;)

Hey it's just me, I'm not actually a creeper. Don't worry about the level of fashion tonight. Just look nice. –Wally

Artemis? You okay? It's been a few hours and you still haven't responded.

She looked up sheepishly, "Sorry. It was on vibrate. I thought you were going to email or send a message through the coms so I didn't even pay attention to my cell. Usually only my friends text me and, well, I was out with them."

"It's okay. I was trying to be sneaky when I grabbed your phone and checked your number before you left. Guess I was a little too sneaky about it." He replied, smiling in that charming way that only Wally seemed to pull off.

"I guess I can forgive you for stealing my phone… for now." She said teasingly, taking a step closer to him. His eyes darkened and he reached out to grab her hips and pull her close to him.

"What will it take for you to forgive me forever?" he asked, his eyes never wavering from hers. She grinned impishly.

"I can think of a few things." She replied before she kissed him. He immediately wrapped his arms around her and drew her flush and him and buried his fingers into her hair.

"You. Look. Amazing." He said between rushed kisses, lifting her long enough to move to her bed where he lay her down and moved to hover over her. Artemis blushed, and focused on wrapping her legs around his waist.

"Thanks. You don't look so bad yourself." She replied, eyeing his sensible jeans and his red long sleeve that hugged his chest just enough to remind her that though he could put an all you can eat buffet out of business he definitely kept the appearance of a star athlete. She ran her hand down his neck to rest of his pectorals before wrapping around him to kiss him again. Lips clashed and tongues danced as Wally thoroughly messed up her half ponytail until she finally just ripped the hair tie from her head. Wally smirked against her lips in triumph.

"I like you with your hair down. It's hot." He said bluntly, digging his fingers into the impossibly thick strands and guided her head right where he wanted it. Nipping her lower lip he moved to the side of her neck, lavishing it with kisses and little love bites.

"I'll have to keep that in mind next time for-oooh," she moaned when he found that particularly sensitive nerve at the junction of her neck and her shoulder and bit down lightly.

"Remember," he shushed, "You got to be quiet. We don't want your mom walking in on us."

Artemis whimpered as he nipped the nerve again, panting softly against his skin. But then her mind cleared a fraction at the thought of her mother walking in on them.

"You do realize that while she has left the business, she is a trained assassin." She panted, "So you really should come around by the front door before she walks in on us and bans you from ever setting foot in here."

"Like she'd ever catch me." He scoffed.

Artemis leaned back to raise one eyebrow, "Don't doubt her just because of the wheelchair. She can still be pretty brutal."

Somehow the mood faded into the background as Wally looked at her oddly, "Your mom is in a wheelchair?"

She tilted her head slightly, "You mean you didn't know that?"

He shook his head, "No Flash never really dealt with Huntress. I just know she was an assassin."

"Yeah," she sighed and Wally shifted so he was sitting up leaning against the headboard while letting her lean back against his stomach, "My mom and dad were on a job, you see. I don't remember who they were hired to kill, but the job went bad. Mom doesn't talk about it, but I know that a bunch of guards caught up to them and started shooting." She paused for a moment to take a steadying breath, "My mom jumped in front of my dad. Took a bullet straight to the spine; hence the wheelchair. The bullet severed the nerves in her spine and she lost all movement in her legs."

Wally's mouth was open in shock, never realizing why her mother had retired; he thought Huntress had merely decided to clean up her act. He wrapped his arms around Artemis in a gentle squeeze, "I'm sorry. I had no idea."

"Don't be sorry." Artemis replied, "It was thanks to that bullet that my mom decided to retire. She got me away from my loving father, and now she helps me handle living my double life."

They spent a few moments in comfortable silence, just cuddling. Kissing her temple, Wally glanced at the time, "Crap, it's six. I'm late for our date."

Grey eyes rolled, "You're such a dork."

He stood up and clambered out her window. Lingering on the fire escape, he winked, "Would you have me any other way?"

As he zipped out of view, she grinned and shook her head. No, she wouldn't have him any other way. She heard the buzzer go, and decided to let her mother get her threatening over with. Instead of greeting Wally, she slipped into the bathroom to put on what little bit of makeup she had and to fix her make-out tousled hair.

She snickered softly at the sound of her mother's hushed threats. She couldn't quite make out the words but she knew in the end Paula wasn't seriously trying to scare Wally away, just ensuring that he wouldn't fuck up and hurt her baby girl.

When Artemis decided to finally cut her boyfriend some slack and interrupt them, Paula was holding her old sword up to rest lightly on his collarbone. Artemis hid her grin, and instead plastered a worried expression on her face and blurting out in Vietnamese.

"Mom! If you keep threatening him he might actually believe you." Her voice sounded rushed and panicked, making Wally's eyes dart to her in worry as he gulped.

"Artemis, you know I wouldn't hurt him. It's just fun to watch him squirm." Paula hissed as if she was seriously contemplating cutting the speedster.

"Uh… Artemis? Babe?" Wally stammered, his eyes darting very quickly between his girlfriend and her mother.

"You dare call my daughter 'babe?'" Paula switched back to English, "You have yet to prove to me that you are worthy of her."

"Mom, just because it's fun to threaten to kill my boyfriend, doesn't mean you should." Artemis continued with her panicked expression.

"Come Artemis, this is my one chance to make him nervous. What if he's the only boy you ever bring home? Let me have my fun." Paula tapped her blade menacingly on Wally's shoulder, her eyes narrowed.

Artemis pretended to choke up, covering her mouth to cover the 'sob,' "Fine, but you better promise to be nice after this."

Paula rounded back on Wally, who was now looking desperately like he was going to collapse from panic.

"M-Mrs Crock-"

"Nguyen. Crock is my ex-husband's surname." Paula snapped.

"M-Miss Nguyen, I'm sorry!" Wally blabbered, "I-I swear I have nothing but the most honorable intentions toward your daughter. She means the absolute world to me Miss Nguyen and I would really like to keep my head on my shoulders in order to prove that to you."

Wally shivered under the intense Huntress glare that Paula had spent years perfecting to strike fear into the hearts of her victims. After about twenty seconds, she finally sighed, and sheathed her sword.

"I gotta say, no one has managed to not collapse under the force of that stare for a long time. I must say I'm impressed Artemis. Where did you find him?" Paula said pleasantly now, wheeling herself backwards.

"Okay now that you're done making him crap his pants, can I have him now?" Artemis chuckled, moving forward to wrap her arms around one of his.

Wally looked between the two wildly, "So what you guys were saying to each other was not Artemis begging to save my life?"

Paula laughed, her entire threatening demeanor vanishing into thin air, "Artemis is my youngest daughter. Of course I have to be protective of her. But I had to have a little extra fun in there. Don't worry Wally, I was not going to actually cut your head off."

He rubbed his neck lightly, "You could have fooled me."

"I'm very good at acting." Paula said.

"It kinda came with her job. Former job anyways." Artemis added, moving to twine her fingers with his, "Now I know you want to continue to torment my boyfriend, but supposedly we have other plans."

Wally perked, finally convinced that he wasn't getting murdered tonight, "Yes! I hope you don't mind, Miss Mguyen. I'll have her home before nine."

Paula tipped her head, "If she's one minute later than that…" she tapped her fingers against the sheath of her weapon, making Wally gulp, and laugh shakily.

"No problem Miss Nguyen. I promise." He made no effort to hide his rush to pull Artemis to the door, making a quick escape, "Your mom is intense!"

"Well," Artemis shrugged while pulling on her jacket, "I am her youngest daughter, with an assassin for an older sister and a father. Can't blame her for being protective. She just wants to make sure I'm safe."

"Does she have to be so terrifying doing it?" Wally shuddered, and can't she keep the threats in English? I had no idea what she was threatening to do!"

Artemis giggled, and pushed against him with her body, "C'mon Wally, are you really afraid of a woman in a wheelchair?"

"Yup. And I'm not ashamed." He replied, shaking his head.

"Well, let's focus on tonight. Where are we going?" she asked, tilting her head to look at him.

Wally finally relaxed completely, throwing an arm around her shoulders, "Well, m'lady, I'm going to 'woo' you with fine dining and a romantic movie!"

"If you were going to woo me, where are my roses?" she made silly goo-goo eyes at him while giggling.

"Do you really want them?" he said, smiling at her, "I can get you roses, chocolates, anything you want babe."

Artemis threw her head back in a carefree laugh, "You know I don't doubt that. But thankfully, we both know I'm not really into that stuff. I prefer the subtle approach."

"I can totally do subtle." He said, leaning down to press his lips against hers.

January 3rd, 2013

The restaurant he took her to was in a very nice location in Gotham City without getting too ritzy. It was a little seafood restaurant called Aquacine, and he somehow bribed the maître-d to get a table by a window overlooking the shimmering nighttime landscape. Artemis almost felt out of place in her semi-casual clothes, but Wally hurried to assure her that this was not the most formal of places. She took a look at his casual slacks and white button down long sleeve (which looked fantastic on him if she was going to be honest), and stopping herself from worrying any more than necessary.

She peered at him over her menu, one eyebrow raised in curiosity. He took notice after a moment, and flashed her a brilliant smile.

"Hey there. Do you know what you want?" he asked.

"Well it all looks delicious, but I'm curious. How did you know about this place? I mean, you live in Central City, not Gotham." She asked, lowering her menu.

"Would it sound less romantic if I said I asked Robin?" he said, grinning sheepishly, "I did some research online, then asked him for some better specifics."

"I don't think it sounds any less romantic. This place is gorgeous." She said, glancing around, "I'll have to thank Robin for the advice."

They were interrupted by the waiter who took their orders- cioppino for Artemis, and then peppered shrimp alfredo, cedar grilled salmon, and coconut shrimp for Wally- and they returned to talking. They traded childhood stories, laughed about missions, and while Wally regaled her with tales of his days as Flash's sidekick (without the team), Artemis revealed a tiny bit of what growing up with Sportsmaster as a dad was like. She got very tense when she mentioned him.

"I don't know. With mom in jail and after Cheshire ran away, my dad was determined to make me his protégé. I'd already had minor training with both him and my mother. But when she was gone it was like something snapped in my dad and he became a lot more sadistic about getting me to be his perfect little killer." Wally stopped her there by covering her mouth with one finger.

"Babe, let's focus on the happy things. When you're actually ready to tell me, I'll be here for you." He said, moving his hand so it was cupping her cheek. Affection shone in her eyes, and she leaned into his hand before giving his palm a small kiss.

"It's not like I don't trust you and that's why I don't want to tell you." She rushed to explain, "It's just, those six years alone with just my dad were not the easiest years of my life. Maybe when we're not on our first date, I'll feel more comfortable talking about it."

Her lifted her knuckles to his lips and peppered the appendages with a few kisses, "I told you, Beautiful, no pressure. First dates aren't supposed to be for spilling our darkest secrets to each other. Darkest secrets are totally reserved for the fifth."

The joke at the end worked, and a smile blossomed across her features accompanied by a giggle.

"That's what I like to see." He said, running his thumb along her cheek, "Now, as much as I like to keep getting looks from the other patrons, if I want to get you home in time to stay alive, it's movie time."

"No desert? I find that hard to believe." Artemis replied as Wally signaled for the bill.

"Oh we're totally getting snacks at concessions." He said simply.

"I don't think I could possibly eat another bite of food." Artemis groaned pleasantly, rubbing her stomach, "It was really good. You chose well Baywatch."

"Nothing but the best for the Wally West ladies." A blonde eyebrow rose, and he chuckled, "Lady. Just lady."

"Not going to go for a threesome with me and M'gann?" Artemis kept that brow up, her features completely unreadable.

"Okay I deserve that one. I was pretty ridiculous about my crush on M'gann. But honestly babe, when I found out about M'gann and Conner, I was sad but I moved on. Yeah I liked her, but she is nothing compared to you." Wally said quickly, starting to stumble over his words.

Artemis sniggered, "Wally it's fine. I don't blame you for liking M'gann. Hell, when I found out I was upset because I kinda had a thing for Conner."

Wally's jaw dropped, "Y-You liked Conner?!"

She looked confused, "Yeah that's why I didn't go to the Halloween party. I found out that day. Why do you look so surprised?"

"I didn't know you liked Superboy!" he hissed, careful to make sure none of the other patrons heard.

Artemis sighed, and stood up. Pulled her ginger boyfriend from his seat she dragged him out of the restaurant, making sure to thank their waiter on the way out and slipping her an extra tip. Pulling him down to the sidewalk, her eyes quickly picked out an alleyway suited to her needs. Wasting no time she readjusted her grip, shifting to his collar and yacking him out of sight of any passerby's.

"Now listen up Wally." She said powerfully, pressing him against a wall, "If I get to be all understanding of your extreme and often sickening crush on M'gann where you constantly made moves on her, you have no right to be jealous of the fact that I had a crush on Conner and never acted on it."

"Babe-"she cut him off with a powerful kiss that actually made his knees weak. Damn. She was good.

"I'm dating you. And only you. If you want to break open the jealousy can of worms, you will lose. So you have a choice. Either be jealous, or accept it and move on." She said, her grey eyes piercing his, "What's your choice."

He sighed, "You'd be ridiculous to think that I wouldn't accept it. I was just surprised."

She stepped back, surprised herself, "Oh."

That grin she knew all too well began to grow, "But by all means feel free to drag me into alleyways and kiss me like that again."

She slapped her shoulder and he lead her out to hail a taxi, but said no more. She chose, instead, to lean against his side in the backseat, revealing in the body heat that Wally always put off- a side effect of been a speedster. Wally was not complaining that Artemis was a snuggle-addict, he definitely loved physical contact. He just never expected the half-Vietnamese raised by assassins to be so touchy-feely.

They arrived at the theater, and Wally lead Artemis to the ticket line, and the two peered at the movie listings.

"Oh, The Hobbit is playing!" Artemis said eagerly.

Wally grimaced, "Do you want me to live to see tomorrow? The Hobbit is four hours long, that's way past the curfew your mom gave."

The blonde sighed, "But it's so good." She whined.

He kissed her temple, "Tell you what. Next week if we don't get a mission I'll take you to see it. Tonight though, choose something shorter."

She grinned in victory, "Django."

"Really? You're not going to torture me with a sappy romance?" he joked

"There are very few times that I watch sappy movies. All of those times involve a tub of ice cream and tears. And chocolate. Lots of chocolate." She replied, "Tonight I want action."

"My wish is your command." He replied, and promptly moved forward to pay for the two tickets.

Artemis found it hard to believe that Wally had found the one theater in Gotham that had "couples-seats," special seats where the arm rests rose up. But he did, and she could not think of anything better than watching as action flick while Wally consumed two basket of nachos and a large popcorn, guzzled down with a large soda. Call her weird, but she'd found her comfort zone snitching a few handfuls of popcorn to eat for herself.

Taking off after the credits, Artemis found herself not wanting the night to end, and she tugged Wally into yet another alleyway.

"Want to go for a run?" she asked breathlessly, her eyes bright with excitement.

He grinned, "Are you serious?"

"Yeah!" she replied, "The one thing I never forgot about was running with you in Biyalia. It was quite possibly the most amazing experience of my life, moving that fast. I just never had the nerve to ask after we regained our memories and we went back to hating each other."

"Babe, I would love to go on a run with you." He replied, and swept her up into his arms and took off.

Wally took his time- in a way. Taking the long way back to her house he wound through streets and alleyways, streaking through parks and taking some daredevil-esque jumps. Artemis giggled and whooped the entire time, tilting her head back to allow the wind to whip through her hair. Wally paused long enough on a building to shift Artemis to his back before taking off again, weaving his way through the city and taking in the streaking lights. Just to show off he raced one of the trains streaking through Gotham's upper level, out streaking it easily.

But all good things come to an end and Wally finally slid to a stop in the alleyway next to Artemis's building. Letting Artemis slip off he was promptly encase in an overpowering hug.

"That," Artemis breathed, "was amazing! Why did I wait to ask?!"

Wally chuckled, linking their fingers together as he walked with her up the stairs, "Well all you have to do is ask Beautiful, and I'm all yours."

"I'm definitely taking you up on that. That was fantastic." She sighed, turning to face him when they reached her apartment door, "I had a really great time."

Wally nodded, resting his hands on her hips, "I did too. We should do this again, and definitely make it soon."

She leaned up to kiss him sweetly, "I'll see you at training?"

"You betcha."

A/N: I am so sorry for the delay guys. I had the chapter done and finished when for some reason it got wiped so that was back to only halfway done. -_- I was not amused. I lost inspiration for a while, but then I muscled my way back to the top.

Way for life to kick me in the ass.

I've been in Ireland for the summer, and I've had almost no internet connection. Really not an excuse, I know, but I'm starting to get back on track, especially after rewatching all of season 1 all over again, and eating up butt loads of comics so that I can really have some fun with this fic. I'm pretty excited.

Kamil the Awesome: So I adored your review. Unfortunately I already have plans with Joker, so your idea was a pretty fun idea and actually I might do that in an independent piece. Thank you for the suggestions; now that I have internet again (3) I'm getting copies of a bunch of different stories. I hope you forgive me for the huge break in posting.