The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game
Setting and characters are © DC and so forth. Story is © me. All respective rights reserved. Insert image by Somewillwin on Tumblr. Title is from a song by Massive Attack, featuring Tracey Thorne on vocals, which was featured on the Batman Forever soundtrack (also known as "one of the best soundtracks for one of the most mediocre movies ever").
NOTES: I might have used the name of this fic for a chapter of something else before, but oh well!
So I know I'm behind on a lot of my Frozen titles that I've started, but I just finished the first season of Young Justice and sorely wanted to do something involving Artemis. Her character just appealed to me immensely; the tragic loner with a checkered past, but pushing herself not to be that way, to be open and companionable to her teammates as much as she can. At first, I had some nascent shippy feels for her and Miss Martian, but it quickly became apparent that, due to her obsession with the sitcom from which she derived most of her personality, her having romantic leanings for anyone other than a "hunky guy" would be somewhat OoC (not that anyone shouldn't ship them if that's what they're into; I just thought it would be too meta to keep shipping them from that point). Such is life.
Zatanna, however... I've always liked the character in general, no matter the iteration of her. And she and Artemis seemed to develop an instant bond. It felt like the easiest and most comfortable thing in the world, and far be it from me to fight the feelings. REO Speedwagon wouldn't have it any other way (kids, ask your parents, or google it).
Anyway, this will probably remain a one-shot, as I think this covers all the bases I wanted to cover. Hope you enjoy!
MOUNT JUSTICE, November 9th, 02:18
Another sleepless night. No matter how many times Zatanna Zatara rolled back and forth amongst her bedsheets, rest would not come.
Reason after reason flashed through her mind. The room wasn't hers, it was too new and still filled with boxes. Her pyjamas were too starchy. Her feet were too cold. Half an hour later, after digging up socks from her modest heap of dirty clothes and putting them on, her feet were too hot. It was too quiet. Her father wasn't nearby.
That was the big one, and she pressed her eyelids closed and shuddered. Mighty Zatara himself was now a prisoner of Doctor Fate. There was nothing she could do; he had given himself over to the mystic being of his own free will, disappearing into the golden helmet. The fact that her dad was now providing a conduit for one of the greatest heroes of all time did nothing to rout her crippling grief; it still meant he was out of reach. Gone, until such time as Nabu saw fit to relinquish his hold. For all intents and purposes, she was an orphan.
It was useless. Groaning, she stood up and padded across the hall to the facilities. Then she brushed her teeth. Again. It wasn't necessary, but she was used to doing it after using the toilet and before going to bed - even just going back to bed. Therefore, she knew there wasn't a trace of plaque left in her mouth. Or gingivitis.
Bones weary, she crawled back into bed and curled up to face the wall. It had to happen this time. Sooner or later, her body would collapse from exhaustion, right?
Ten minutes later, she was sitting on the edge of the bed and sobbing with her head in her hands when the knock came. She knew it would be Robin, asking if she needed anything the way he had the night before. He was sweet, and made her feel like less of an imposition. Of course, Wally and Megan were also very kind to her, and the entire team had been welcoming. But it was Robin who seemed to go out of his way to see that her needs were met. The one whose real name she didn't even know. Seemed ironic somehow.
Which is why when she opened the door, she saw something she wasn't quite expecting.
"Hey," Artemis rumbled, voice only slightly husky as she leaned against the doorframe. Her usually-perfect blonde hair was messy and hanging partly out of her ponytail. "You okay in there?"
"Oh." Scrubbing at her face hastily and hoping she rid it of both tears and blotchiness, she forced a weak smile. So maybe Robin had been the one going out of his way, but Artemis's acceptance of her on the team had never wavered, even for a moment. It was just so steadfast and quiet that she didn't think about it much. "Yeah, I'm fine."
"Liar. Mind if I join you for a little while, or do you still need all that 'alone time' you were talking about?"
That gave her pause. Join her in what, crying? "Uhh... I guess."
"Great." With a yawn that showed all her molars - and privately, Zatanna thought she could have stood a few more brushings per evening herself - the lithe archer entered immediately, causing the room's new owner to leap back and out of the way.
"Sorry about the mess," she began, given that she had no idea what else to say. "I try to work on it, but I just..."
"You're fine." Picking her spot, she plopped down on the corner of the bed and leaned back.
"Um... if I might ask..."
Smiling blearily up, Artemis asked, "What is it?"
"Well... what are you even doing here?"
"I mean," she hastily followed up, palms out in a placating gesture, "you're not a live-in Junior Justice member like me and Aqualad and most of the others, right? And I'm pretty sure I remember you going home last night. So what's going on?"
That did cause Artemis to more carefully choose her words, which took her a few minutes. "Mom," she finally told her simply. "Sometimes I just need air, you know? And I do have a room here with the bare essentials for when I need it. We all do."
Nodding, Zatanna finally sat next to Artemis as she digested that. "Okay. God, sorry - what's the point in me grilling you about where you sleep? It's none of my business."
"Hey, we're crimefighters; it's all of our business to be alert. You just need to get better at turning off your brain at night," she teased, reaching out to tap her forehead with an index finger.
"Guess I do," she admitted quietly. The smile of amusement faded as soon as it appeared, and she fell back to splay across her mattress. "Whoo... this is all so surreal. My dad has a new 'Nabu is my copilot' bumper sticker on his ass, and I got myself this new almost-family. I mean, a few days ago, I wasn't even 'good enough' to join this team, and now..."
A bony fist bounced off the young magician's knee. "You're plenty good enough, shut up. I'll be pissed at you if you keep spouting that bull."
"But I wasn't! Dad wouldn't let me join, and Batman just... went along with it, you know?" Her voice was getting tighter, but she couldn't stop. "And it's m-my fault for saying I wish he'd 'give me a little space' right before... b-before-"
"Before Roanoke Island," she finished for her teammate. "I know, I know. None of us saw that coming. Sorry."
"Yeah, like you did it all by yourself. No, it was me. I got my father stuck with the helmet, I messed up by putting it on and gave him no other choice."
A bitter laugh floated out of Artemis's throat. "Trust me, you can't choose or control your family, Zatty. Not even a little."
"Oh," she said with an awkward smile down at her. "Sorry, no good? Does sound pretty pathetic, and it's not much shorter than your full name."
Hastily, the magician pushed herself up on her elbows so she could properly display her alarm. "NO! I mean, no, I like it! Just... not in front of the Team. I don't need to sound any more like a little kid since I'm already the new kid." Why on earth was she blushing? It was just a nickname - a tad silly, but nothing offensive or perjorative.
"Gotcha," Artemis giggled, and she also seemed relieved.
"As long as I can call you Missy."
"For 'Arte-MIS.' Get it?"
Rolling her eyes, she poked Zatanna in the side. "No deal. I just get to call you 'Zatty' and that's it. I'm no Missy."
"Why not just my Missy? I wouldn't use it in front of the Team, either."
"Fine," she sighed heavily, flopping back to lay down too. "But I'll get you if you lapse on that, promise."
Grinning darkly, Zatanna rolled onto her side, feeling her hair slide over her eyes as she gazed across into her teammate's dark orbs. "And just how are you gonna 'get' me? I have magic on my side."
"You do," Artemis conceded without making any other move or trying to sit up. "But I have catlike reflexes, and more upper body strength. All I have to do is stop you from speaking those magic words of yours and I have the upper hand."
"Really?" Screwing up her concentration, she opened her mouth and began uttering, "DEBEHT FFO LLA-"
However, before she could finish the incantation, she found both hands were pinned over her head by a tenuous grip, a palm closing off all sound from her own mouth. Immediately, she tried to kick upward, but shins were holding both thighs in place. Though she could flail her feet, they made no difference in her current position. Trapped, and very neatly, at that.
"Really," Artemis whispered as her thumb stroked Zatanna's cheek gently. It took a moment for her to realise that was intended to be a comforting gesture; to show that she remembered they weren't really enemies, and this was only a momentary test. "Good try, though."
"Hmmph." It was all Zatanna could say, but conveniently, that was all she really had to say. After a moment or two, the hand raised from her mouth experimentally, and she pursed her lips for a moment before asking, "Aren't you going to let me up?"
"Maybe. What's in it for me?"
"Well, how about I don't magic you into the middle of the boys' locker room? That would be a pretty big concession."
Artemis's face screwed up in mock-concentration. "Not good enough. What else you got?"
"Rgh!" The grunt was out of frustration once she had tried to pull her hands free. Apparently, Green Arrow's apprentice was no slouch; there was a very slight roughness to her palms and fingers that could only have come from a rigorous training regime, and it had to have been going on for more than ten years to get to that level of conditioning. Just what had she been through?
"Rgh? That's not much incentive." Leaning down until their noses were touching, she whispered, "Maybe I'll just keep you here like this until you promise not to call me 'Missy' ever again."
For whatever reason, the idea of Artemis pinning her down all night created a very different reaction than it had up until that point. The desperation to prove she wasn't such easy prey increased exponentially. Her already-flushed face only seemed to grow warmer, and she began to put more energy into bucking her off. No good; the blonde had practiced this, as well. Probably atop a real rodeo bull.
"That's right, squirm!" Artemis cackled, doing her best impression of one of their more theatrical foes. "Squirm or submit! Either way, you are powerless before the might of... The Tigress!"
That made Zatanna stop long enough to bite out a harsh chuckle. "Tigress? That's even sillier than 'Missy'!"
"Hey, it is not!" she fired back, poking Zatanna's ribcage over and over, trying to get her to laugh. It was partly working. "I think it would be a great codename!"
"Sure it would!" Then, taking a chance, she took a breath, steeled herself against an oncoming giggle-fit, and bellowed, "GNILIEC EHTOT PU YL-"
But Artemis stopped her again. However, both of her hands were busy in the moment Zatanna chose to make her move - which had been the plan, after all. Only caveat was, there happened to be another tactic available to her assailant that could cut off her spellwork. One she had overlooked.
At first, Zatanna had no idea what to think about another pair of lips pressing against her own. Especially not when they belonged to someone of the same gender. Then she felt her heart stop as her brain very slowly began to grind back into motion again, catching up to the moment. Whether or not it had been an accident, or just a dirty trick to interrupt her spell... or anything other than those two rational possibilities, the effect was the same.
Artemis Crock would now always be her first kiss.
And it continued longer than she thought it would. At first, she was mystified; wasn't there supposed to be some kind of break to breathe? An intermission between lip-locks? The thought horrified her, because she realised she was anticipating another kiss after the first. Was she losing her mind? Why wasn't it over yet?
Right. Because she was kissing back. Her natural instincts made her lean up into Artemis's supple mouth, to breathe through her nose along her sharp jaw, to allow the darting tongue to flick and dance over her own and to greet it in kind.
That would send kind of a mixed message, wouldn't it?
Summoning her willpower the way she would a display of witchcraft, she turned her head aside and gasped for breath. Feeling Artemis's lips land on her neck was unexpected - and unexpectedly welcome. Therefore, it took a few seconds of panting and quiet squeaks of insolence before she managed to gasp, "Wait, wh... I..."
A quiet "Hmm?" vibrated along her skin. There was still no stopping, and the lips were travelling down now.
"Y-you- what are you doing to me?"
"Shit," Artemis groaned as she leaned her forehead down to press against her neck. "I was hoping you wouldn't say anything."
"That I w- are you going to let me go?!" she snapped, now flinging herself from side to side. Artemis held her fast for a few seconds, just enough to reinforce that she was still in control... then released Zatanna's wrists. In seconds, the girl on the bottom rolled her off of herself and scooted away, eyes wide and feral.
"What the fuck was that?" she hissed quietly. "I mean... it was all fun and games, and then you were on top of me, and then w... we were..."
"Yeah, I know, I know... and I don't know." Shrugging her shoulders, Artemis planted both knees in the mattress and leaned forward on her hands, then allowed herself to breathe, "I've never done that, either."
"Really?" That caught her off guard. "Could have fooled me! You knew exactly what to do - every step, every move of your - GOD, your tongue!"
Both of her eyes went wide at thinking about the same actions, and she swallowed. "Okay, so maybe that wasn't- I mean, I didn't think, I just acted! And you REacted, so it's not all my fault, okay?!"
"Did we- I mean, are we gay? Is that what this is? I didn't sign up to be gay, I just..." Pressing her hand to her mouth, she reviewed the last few minutes. "Okay, so this was all totally random, but I don't know what to think. Like, we're not dead or anything, but I'm still freaking out."
"Dude... okay." Swallowing, she turned toward Zatanna a bit more properly. "Maybe it's weird, but I'll just put it out there: I liked that. A hell of a lot. Don't know if we should do it again yet, but it was..."
"Exactly." Somehow, those non-words were taking the words right out of her mouth. "Like, I'm halfway between 'oh EW I kissed a GIRL' and 'hey, first kiss, fun times.' Freaky." Then her blue eyes widened and she held up a hand. "N-not that the 'ew' is you specifically! Just... I mean, before now, I never thought about..."
"Right, I get you," Artemis laughed. "But... it's okay, if you don't want anybody to ever know this happened, it never did. Promise."
Scooting forward an inch or two, Zatanna asked her imploringly, "Have you? I mean, thought about girls before now. It's cool if you have, I'm just..." She held her tongue before the world "curious" slipped out, because that had a sudden connotation she would not have intended.
"Maybe?" When Zatanna simply blinked, she shrugged and went on, "I think about both all the time... guys more, but I'm pretty sure it's just because of all the straight people in the media. I've had sexy dreams about Wally and M'gann and Aqualad before, which is super weird, right?"
"All at the same time?"
"NO! No way in hell!" But then they were both laughing. "Okay, I deserve that for being the one to kind of... tackle you."
"Pin me down? Have your way with me?" When Artemis's face drained of colour, she reached forward and gripped her shoulder. "Hey, I didn't- m-maybe that's not funny right now, but I was kidding, okay?"
"It wasn't supposed to be like I was making you do it," she breathed. "Was that what happened? I mean, you could have bit my tongue or something - and it was a dare, right? I w-"
"Relax, relax. I'm not blaming you or hating you for one kiss."
"Should I go?" Pushing to her feet, Artemis turned toward the door, then turned back. "Wait, you didn't ask me to go - I should stick around, right? To talk this through. Then again, why would you wanna talk to me after that, and you're straight, and all I w-wanted-"
Then Zatanna's arms were around her. It wasn't as romantic as when she had been pinned, but she couldn't deny the tiny part of her heart that sped up at the contact. Her cheek pressing against another, she whispered, "You're okay, I'm okay. We are gonna be just fine, nobody died."
"Yeah," she breathed, nodding against the side of her friend's head. "I mean, what the hell am I doing? I had a plan and this wasn't part of it!"
"A plan?" A suspicion in the back of her mind caused her to pull back and squint up at Artemis. "You mean... Wally?"
Biting her lip, she averted her gaze. "Maybe. I dunno. I just..."
"Just what?" No response, so she took a chance - one that was braver than she felt. Slipping her hands upward, she cupped Artemis's neck very gently, hoping to reassure. It caused her own stomach to start doing backflips, but she ignored that; it was more important that she provide the comfort her teammate needed. "I won't judge."
"I thought... I mean, I really do like Wally. And maybe, if I could just keep liking him, stay focused on him, that... I wouldn't have to... be... this."
Nodding, Zatanna immediately kissed her chin. "I'm sure it's scary. I mean, it's scary for me, and I've only had to think about this stuff for about five minutes!" Gulping, she began to pet her shoulder. It was as if she couldn't help but do it - as if they both needed the contact, the physical comfort. "You... how long have you been, um, bisexual? If that's what you are."
"As long as I can remember. I mean... not to get too 'True Hollywood Story' on you, but both my father and sister are kind of, uh, wolves in that department. So with her always pointing out cute guys, and him always pointing out hot ladies, I just always felt pretty natural about thinking both were attractive. It wasn't until the end of elementary school when I kissed some girl on the cheek and was told that was 'very, very wrong' that I learned any different... but it didn't erase the feelings. Just made me bottle them up."
"I'm so sorry," she breathed as she embraced her again, and this time Artemis's fingertips dug into her back, clutching, straining through the thin material of her shirt. It was both alarming and enticing, even while she felt sympathy because she knew it was past pain making her do it. "Hey, hey... you're okay. Like I said, no judgement."
"Am I?" Her voice dropped a lot lower as she admitted, "Once, when M'gann and I hit the showers after a mission... I peeked at her. Usually, I make myself keep my eyes down at my feet, or at the wall or something, but..." A shiver went through her body. "And she's beautiful - I mean, when she's in her 'normal' form, I think she is. It was just curiosity. But that's messed up, isn't it?"
Hesitating for a moment, Zatanna forced herself to speak. "Yeah, a little. Only because Megan probably doesn't know you, um, looked at her that way. Still, it sounds like you didn't do anything weird, so..."
"No way!" Artemis swore, then pushed Zatanna back to look at her earnestly. "I swear to God, all I did was glance, and then it was over! I mean, it's kind of different with her, right? Since technically her clothes are part of her body, so if you think about it..."
"She's always naked," Zatanna breathed, blinking rapidly. "Wow, I'd never thought about it - and when I do, that's much weirder than you just glancing in the shower."
"Okay, thank you!"
"Wait - I was getting dressed in the showers when you came in this morning."
Squirming, Artemis took a few beats before she made another confession. "Well... I only looked once your underwear was on! Promise! And that wasn't on purpose, just when I turned around, and there you were, and..."
"And you're hot, okay? Damn, listen to you fish for compliments."
A tingling burbled up from the depths of Zatanna's stomach as she heard that. Even with Artemis trying to gruffly sweep her own opinion under the rug, it was still a direct compliment to her physical attractiveness. She wasn't sure exactly how to take that. Not now that they had shared an unexpected moment of possibly-romantic passion. Before, she would have just said something along the lines of "Thanks, now if only a boy would ever say that to me."
When Artemis said it, cheeks flushed and breathing shallow and rapid, it felt the same way it would if a boy said it. Which terrified her in a dozen different ways. What did she want out of this? Anything? Everything? Her mind was spinning and her pulse pounding, as if she was preparing to do something drastic.
"You're hot, too," she finally whispered, disappointed in herself for not coming up with something better.
"Yeah, right," she snorted. "That's why I can't get Wally or any of the other guys to give me the time of day. Not beyond being a member of the Team. Even then, half of them don't actually trust me."
Shaking her head, both of Zatanna's hands began to glide down over Artemis's firm biceps, her thumbs resting in the crooks of her elbows. "No. They just... they're looking for Megan, someone with all the 'girly' proportions. Not a mousy short girl like me, and not a... a gorgeous Amazonian goddess of the hunt."
"A what?" It was both disbelieving and amused.
"Your name - 'Artemis'. That's where it comes from, right? Greek mythology. Goddess of the hunt, and animals... protector of virginity and young women."
"I am hardly an Amazon," she laughed, though her grin was obviously pleased with the comparison. "I'm like three inches taller than you, tops - nowhere near Wonder Woman's height!"
A small smirk appeared on Zatanna's face. "You do know the Roman version of 'Artemis' is 'Diana', right?"
"Really? Huh. Guess I should tell her we're the same person next time I see her." They both laughed at that, and it was more comfortable, even with the electric tension that left showers of sparks between their bodies. "You... can't be serious about thinking I'm hot, right? I'm all angles and muscle."
"Maybe it's because I'm used to checking out the boys, who are also all angles and muscle."
"So I look like a guy?"
"NO!" Gripping her shoulders, she looked up into her eyes earnestly. "That w-wasn't what I meant, no way do you look like a guy! I mean, if you did, it would be a pretty hot guy - and one with boobs! Wait, this is coming out all wrong..."
"It's okay," Artemis finally breathed, leaving a light kiss on the end of Zatanna's nose. "If I'm what you're into, maybe I can live with that." Then she slapped herself in the forehead. "What am I even saying?! We had one kiss, and I'm acting like that's just it, we have to get married!"
"Too bad that would be illegal in most states," Zatanna mumbled.
"I... think you mean 'What? Why would we get married? That would be crazy!'"
"That too," she breathed with a bashful smile.
"Are you seriously into me?" Artemis asked in a very quiet, very subdued voice. "After just tonight? I mean, if my one superpower turns out to be flipping straight girls, I guess there could be worse ones."
Shrugging, Zatanna slid her face into the nook between her shoulder and jaw. "Depends. If you did have that power, would you start using it on anyone besides me?"
Now it was Artemis's hands on Zatanna, pressing into the nape of her neck, the small of her back. Calloused fingers teasing skin both above and through her clothes. "Depends. Would you be interested in me without me using the power on you? Interested enough to... stay?"
"I wish this didn't feel so good," she breathed. "So perfect. It'd be a lot easier if it felt creepy and weird to just blow this off as a one-time fluke."
"I know, right?" Breathing in deeply, Artemis was already saying, "God, Zatty, your hair smells so good" before she could stop herself.
Neither of them could speak for several seconds. Then Zatanna finally threw caution to the wind, drawing her head back to kiss Artemis in the way they had both been avoiding since the last one had ended. Full of a reciprocal level of heat that had been absent the first time, when they were both completely unsure of what they were doing. Hands on her back began to clutch tighter, and she felt herself stepping on toes as she guided her backward. Now she was the one on top of Artemis as she lay on her bed, she was the one dominating their actions.
"Hey, hey, time out!" the archer breathed as lips released hers before moving back along her jaw to her ear. "W-we don't have to-"
"Do you not want to?" Teeth clamped down on the earlobe, and a gasp was her reward. "Nothing has to happen that we don't let happen."
"Then... what's going to happen if we don't stop this?" Again, they looked into each other's eyes, searching for answers there before they were spoken. "I mean... from health class, I... barely know how this all works with a guy. So..."
"We're superheroes, dude. We have to think on the fly." Then she smiled and whispered in a resonant tone, "HSINAV POT KNAT."
"AAH!" Artemis breathed as she felt cold air caressing her torso. "Hey, no fair using powers when I don't have any!"
A quiet chuckle wafted out of Zatanna's lips as she began to lower them toward Artemis's chest. "Bullshit. You have the strongest power of all, remember? We discussed this, Missy."
"Yeah?" Finally, her nervous question began to house the beginnings of urgency, tongue running over her lips to wet them again. "Prove it to me. Prove my power is real."
The last words either of them spoke that night were "ENOGEB SEHTOLCLLA." They certainly didn't come from Artemis - her tongue was otherwise occupied.
~ The End ~