Characters: Wally and Artemis
Summary: When Wally tells Artemis she should be happy now that her father is locked up, that she shouldn’t go looking for her missing sister, Artemis is beyond consolation. She had hoped her boyfriend would understand and support her. Now she realizes she’ll have to do this alone.
Note: I cried while writing this. The story is set after Artemis and Wally move in together and before Lian was born.
Until now, she hadn’t realized how carefully preserved their relationship had been. Away from others, living just the two of them at college, they hadn’t faced problems they might have dealt with if they had stayed in reality and on the Team. In Palo Alto, Wally had no reason to feel insecure, and she had never doubted his trust in her.
“We don’t have anything in common.” She pressed her lips into her mouth, biting them between her teeth.
“Sure we do!” he insisted, stuttering as he grasped at mental straws. “You like stupid sci-fi movies; I like stupid sci-fi movies. We…we like the same music. We love being together. We live together. Artemis, you…”
“Did you really think my reasons were that petty?”
As he tried in vain to find the right words, Artemis took a deep breath.
“The differences I’m talking about. They’re something we can’t ever change. You’ve had the world handed to you all your life. Your family has always loved you; you’ve always known who you are. You had friends. You had everything. I had nothing!”
“You can be sorry all you want, but do you even understand why I’m so upset?”
He adverted his eyes to the ground, hands trembling at super speed. “No. I don’t.”
Artemis’ face crumpled in pain. She wanted to cry and scream, and God, she wished he had said yes, even if it wasn’t the truth.
Her heartstrings tore at the seams as she swallowed her hurt and found the bravery to spell out her feelings. The words started out in whisper, but as she spoke, her voice grew louder and louder.
“My father may be a maniac; my sister might be a criminal, but they are my family. If you can’t handle that, then you’re missing a huge part of who I am. How can you say I should celebrate now that Dad has a life sentence and my sister is missing and may be dead?”
“I said I’m…”
“You said they were beyond hope. Not worth saving. But I love them! I love them Wally! Just like I love you!”
“Artemis, please. Just take a breather, count to ten or something. Calm down so you can listen to me!”
“Listen to you say what?”
He put his hands on her shoulders and answered fervently, “That I love you! Despite your family! You aren’t them!”
Artemis’ face twisted in disgust. “’Despite my family?’ What am I, some kind of ill-bred mutt?”
Wally panicked and shook his head furiously from side to side. “No no no, you know that’s not what I meant!”
“Then what did you mean? Have you been listening to what I’ve been saying at all?”
“Well, then you’ll understand.” She shrugged his hands off of her and stepped back.
“If I abandon them, if I just give up hope and move on, I’ve given up on myself. I am proud to be a Crock. I am proud of who I am. Without my father’s training, I wouldn’t be strong. Without my sister, I would have died under that avalanche. My mom gave up everything for me. I hate the bad parts of them, but I have to look for the good. If there is nothing good in them, how can there be anything good in me? They made me who I am. And if you can’t accept that,” Artemis, despite her best efforts, began to cry, “Wally, I love you so much, but you’ll never be able to accept me.”
“Babe,” he whispered in a desperate, intimate plea. “Are you saying…”
“I’m going to find my sister.”
And Artemis Crock walked out of Wally West’s life without another word.