Disclaimer- I do not own Young Justice. If I did, I wouldn't even need to write this.
Ranty does a fix-it oneshot. I will now attempt to heal your souls with just a little bit of angst and WHOLE lot of happy!
From the moment Artemis wakes up, she can tell something is... off.
It's an ominous sort of feeling, a sense of foreboding and the unknown.
She wonders if maybe it has something to do with the dream she'd had last night, but that held no explanation; she's been having the same dream for the last three weeks, one in which she is happily with Wally until he disappears from her arms, leaving her all alone.
Her throat constricts just thinking about it, but then she realizes something that gives her an alarming pause.
Today has been the first morning in which she hasn't woken up crying. There were no tears, just itchy, tired eyes that feel like they haven't seen the inside of her lids for well over a month.
She panics. Panics because she's struck with the sudden, horrifying thought that maybe she doesn't miss Wally anymore. How could she wake up from that horrible nightmare without crying? Does he not mean anything to her anymore? Has she given up on him?
But no. That's silly. Wally still means everything to her. She still loves him, and not a day goes by in which he does not occupy her every thought.
She wonders if this is what healing feels like.
Paula Crock has been ecstatic to have her daughter back, though she is also stricken with a sense of grief for Wally West, the man who had helped her through one of the toughest times of her life, the man who had loved her daughter unconditionally.
Wally West had been so full of life that Paula had not believed he could be gone.
She still doesn't.
Paula doesn't speak of him though, not around Artemis, not for her poor daughter's sake; she has not spoken of him since the night Artemis came home, laden with a bag and bravely keeping her composure as she asked if she could stay there for a few weeks. Paula had immediately said yes, of course, but she was a mother, and though that had been the first she had seen her beloved Artemis since she faked her death, she did not chastise her for it. She did not say anything. Instead, she had wordlessly held out her arms, and Artemis had dropped her bags right there in the doorway, tears flowing freely down her pale cheeks as she dropped to her knees and curled into her mother's warm embrace.
Paula Crock hopes she never has to see her youngest daughter cry like that ever again.
The bad feeling stays with Artemis as she makes herself and her mother breakfast.
It's a meager start to the day; burned toast and eggs that might be slightly on the runny side. Tears prick at the corners of her eyes for the mistake; she remembers cooking things with Wally all the time. It was something they did together, trying new recipes and making a huge mess as they did so, sometimes getting sidetracked and making love while their concoction burned in the oven.
She wipes her eyes and hates herself for crying over something so stupid.
"Are you leaving, soon?" Paula asks quietly around one o'clock. They are in the living room, Paula sipping lightly on some herbal tea as the comedy station creates background noise. Artemis is in the floor, absently cleaning her crossbow, which has been painted orange for reasons Paula would rather not know about; Artemis has not been forthcoming on her activities, of late.
"Are you going to be close?"
"A few blocks away," the archer replies, voice husky as ever. Her answers hold little emotion. Paula's brows furrow. Her daughter has become a robot, barely living each day. It hurts a mother to see her child in such a way, but she cannot heal Artemis's wounds, as much as she would like to.
Only Artemis can heal Artemis, and that will take time. Lot's of time, and even that will never be quite enough.
The hairs at the nape of Artemis's neck stand up as soon as she exits the Zeta tube near Palo Alto, California.
At first she thinks it's a side effect from the Zeta energy, but she's never noticed such a thing before today. Feelings of disorientation, sure. But never this.
She tries to shake it off as she exits the alley and walks down the bustling sidewalks, her arms laden with folded cardboard boxes of varying sizes and depth. She can't though. The air here feels incredibly muggy and alive. Charged with electricity, like before a storm, but the sky is cloudless and blue above her.
No one else seems to notice, walking and talking and laughing happily all around her, and she wonders if maybe she's finally going crazy.
She hates seeing their apartment again.
It makes her jaw tighten, especially when she sees their mailbox. It's overflowing with unread mail, but Artemis doesn't bother to relieve the poor box of it's load. She walks right passed it with purpose, trying not to imagine what types of letters, bills, and Stanford related things might be in it.
What kinds of condolence letters.
She does not let herself think about it anymore as she twists her key in the lock and lets herself in.
Even the air in their apartment is muggy and charged.
She cries a lot as she works.
It's slow going, because she has to stop herself every ten minutes to avert herself from crying or else stop the tears she is not quick enough to prevent.
After a while, she turns on the TV so that it's gentle noise can filter through the rooms.
Sometimes, when she's in another room, she allows the sound to convince her, if for a moment, that Wally is in the living room watching the news.
It's 7 p.m. and she's not sure which is worse: packing up his clothes that still have his scent clinging to them, or not being able to pack away their pictures without staring at each and every one of them as they go into the box, dreaming of far off memories that she would give her life to have back.
"...freak lightning storm, Dan. Viewers are claiming it seems to have materialized from nowhere, which certainly seems to be the case. None of our meteorologists can say at any length where this odd weather has rolled in from, but we advise everyone to stay indoors. The frequency and violence of the strikes has been reported to be increasing as the hour comes to an end, and the storm is moving at an alarming rate toward the Palo Alto area, now..."
Artemis is in the living room when the first flashes catch her eye through the window. She has forced herself to stop and dig something out to eat, something that hasn't spoiled or gone bad by now.
Thunder rocks the house a few times, but she remains calm, never having been one to be frightened of natural occurrences.
However, the flashes seem rather unnatural, and the archer has to wonder how something this bad could have blown in so quickly, without anyone's immediate notice. Then again, she has lived near the coast for over a year, and she knows how crazy the weather can get.
It's not until the flashes become so frequent that it's like a strobe effect, searing imprints of the room into her retinas each time she blinks, that she starts to panic.
A crack of monstrous thunder, close.
Every hair on her body raises up, goose flesh erupting across her bare arms.
The power flickers.
The crash is so loud, so close that Artemis feels her heart jump in fright.
A car alarm blares loudly next door.
"Son of a bitch," she whispers, standing up and moving over to the window; the flashing has stopped as suddenly as it started. "That was close..."
It's when there's a knock at the door not even five minutes later that Artemis wonders if something bad has happened to her soon-to-be-former neighbors.
She walks over and wrenches the door open, expecting to see a panicked person asking for her help.
Instead, all speech dies on her lips, and she feels like she's dreaming again.
He's standing there.
Just standing there, his hair sticking on end, singed a little. There are spots of blackened flesh on his body, but he doesn't seem to notice. He's naked, but he either doesn't notice or doesn't care enough to bother covering himself up.
He seems lost, worried and confused at first, but as soon as his eyes focus on her, his face softens into a look she's all too familiar with; a look she's only seen in her dreams of late.
He doesn't even seem to be aware of himself. His eyes are only for Artemis, and Artemis's are only for him. Her throat constricts and her body starts to shake and her eyes itch and burn and tears cascade slowly down her cheeks.
She wonders if he's real, because his body still seems so alive with a strange kind of electricity; it's like his body is humming in a ceaseless desire to run, a need to release energy.
But she reaches out and touches him, his shoulder, the freckles there.
And his skin is warm, real, and alive beneath her fingertips. She presses the ends of her calloused digits roughly into his shoulder, ignoring his slight wince as she feels a pulse jump under her skin.
"Artemis," he says, his voice cracking with disuse.
And that's all it takes. That one word, her name, the sound of his voice.
A broken sob rips from her throat and she's upon him, flinging her arms around him and pulling him so tightly to her that she fears he may break. But his arms merely wrap around her just as securely, and he's picking her up off the ground. Her legs wrap around his waist and he pets her hair back, pushing her face into the crook of his neck. He smells like ozone mixed with everything she remembers him smelling of, and she might have laughed herself silly at the absurdity of it if she weren't too busy crying loudly into his neck.
He repeats her name, several times, always over the sound of her sobs, her wails, the hot tears soaking his shoulder. She cries until her head hurts, and he never lets her go. She can feel his body all around her and still she fears this is a dream, another terrible dream and he'll leave her again at any moment.
She swallows the lump in her throat and croaks out his name.
"Wally... Wally... Wally... please let if be you. Please don't let this be another dream, please—"
He cuts her off with a kiss.
A very real kiss, one that robs her of her breath. His lips are gentle but urgent as they slant over hers; full of intent. She curls her legs more tightly around him and grabs his face, kissing him back just as fiercely, because she suddenly feels more alive than she's felt for three weeks, and she knows that this is Wally West.
Wally is here. He's with her, and this is not a dream; her dreams could never feel this real, this wonderful. Dream Wally could never hold a candle to the things the real Wally always made her feel.
They break away, breathing heavily, pupils blown wide.
He presses his forehead to hers, reaching up to wipe her lingering tears away with his fingers.
"I'm here, baby. I'm here, I'm not going anywhere. Never again," he whispers to her, voice husky with emotion, and she's surprised to see tear tracks on his scorched face; he's been crying too. "I love you, Artemis. Please tell me you still love me as much as I love you, god, Artemis..." he shudders out, a dehydrated man thirsty for water.
She curls her fingers none-too-gently into his wild ginger hair and makes him look at her, really look at her.
"I love you, Wally West. I never stopped loving you. I never could. I love you, I love you," she tells him sternly, punctuating her last two declarations of love with genteel nips to his bottom lip. He groans, rubbing his face into her hair, one hand on the back of her head. "I'm offended you even asked me that," she growls quietly as an afterthought, tugging affectionately at his earlobe with her teeth.
He laughs with relief, a laugh choked with emotion, and she joins him, both of them kissing and holding each other in another long, tight embrace.
Artemis feels whole again.
"Artemis..." he says, after a time. He is slowly swaying them both back and forth.
"Hmm?" she hums, kissing his shoulder, his neck, his jawline.
"I really need some clothes."
Basically the same general idea that everyone has(I think we're all right on the money with the whole displacement theory), him being stuck in a plane of existence or a field of energy like the Speed Force.
But basically, the reason there's a freak electrical storm above Palo Alto is because Wally is the cause of it. He was trying to get back, and of course he was thinking about home and Artemis so terribly much as he was running, trying to recreate this very energy that swept his molecules away, that that's where he finds himself when he finally gets out. The "lightning" was actually energy just crackling and escaping from Wally as he ran.