- - -
The USB stick was worth Artemis’ life if she was caught. Kaldur’s too, if they made the connection. But if the information on it was accurate, and not some sort of ruse to root out any spies, then it was could save hundreds of other lives.
Artemis only contemplated that for a moment before secreting the flash drive into a hidden pocket. A sense of predatory anticipation filled her.
“Don’t worry Kaldur, I know just the way to get this to Nightwing.”
- - -
Nightwing and Artemis had sparred countless times in the past, but they’d never gone all out. He’d always assumed she held back for the same reason as him; it would be counterproductive to really beat the tar out of each other when they had to stay fit for duty. After receiving another devastating blow to the solar plexus, Nightwing decided that wasn’t the case.
Tigress’ fighting style had echoes of the one he’d seen his teammate use, but he was reminded most strongly of her older sister. Artemis had avoided using the nastier tricks she’d picked up through her family’s association with the League of Shadows, but Tigress had no reason to do so. All of this meant that Dick was getting his ass kicked in the middle of the cave by his supposed enemy.
“Come on, bird boy. I expected you to perform better.”
There was an unfamiliar edge to her voice. And while he couldn’t figure out the meaning behind it, it irritated Nightwing to no end. Attacking Tigress with careless frustration, as though they were just sparring again and she wasn’t undercover and things weren’t always so complicated for them, Nightwing found himself flat on the ground before he could blink.
He half expected the training simulator to light up below him and pronounce his failure, but attributed that flight of fancy to the most recent blow to his head. When Tigress straddled him, his thoughts were further sidetracked. Nightwing smirked up at his captor.
“Sorry, but I don’t put out on the first date.”
Tigress matched his smirk and leaned in closer. Dick was almost uncomfortably aware of her fingers digging into his shoulders, and the way her left ankle was nestled close to his hand. He could feel the soft puff of her breath brush his face, and could barely contain his blush. Was she trying to get payback for the whole fake CPR thing?
“Oh, I doubt you could handle me.” Her smirk could have meant a lot of things, but timed as it was with an odd twitch from her left foot, Nightwing understood her perfectly.
He had just enough time to grasp her meaning before reinforcements arrived, and he was forced to use that same ankle grab to throw her off of him. Recovering with aptly feline grace, Tigress observed the new arrivals with look of disdain that must have been practiced. “Don’t you know it’s bad manners to interrupt someone else’s date?”
Before any of Nightwing’s younger teammates could go on the offensive, Tigress made her escape. She deployed a smoke pellet, and blew him a kiss before she was completely obscured by the haze. When the smoke cleared, there was no sign of the intruder.
Nightwing fended off the well meaning queries of his comrades as he tried to calm his racing heart. All the while, he kept his fist clenched around the small USB drive he’d taken from the hidden compartment in Artemis’ shoe.
- - -
Artemis let out a particularly evil sounding cackle once she made it back to the sub. Kaldur sighed, like a much put upon elder brother. Really, it was almost like old times.
“Was that truly necessary?”
“Did you see his face? Of course it was!”
“You shouldn’t fraternize with him like that. You never know who might be watching, and whether they’ll question your loyalties.”
Artemis brushed off that loaded warning. “Don’t worry about it – it’s just a little bit of fun. It’s so satisfying to be able to mess with Batman’s little protege’s head.” Instead of him messing with mine for once went unsaid, but understood by the two of them.
Kaldur pat her shoulder briefly, a faint smile on his face. “So long as you continue to fulfill your duties as expected, I see no reason you shouldn’t enjoy yourself while you’re at it.”
The two spies shared a conspiratorial grin.
- - -
Dick was relieved that their plan required Wally and he to feign estrangement, because he really didn’t want to deal with the speedster’s reaction to Artemis’ tactic for passing him information. Wally would probably ignore the fact that he was retired and that his involvement might blow the whole mission, and demand that he be the one Artemis passed information to. Not that Dick could really blame him.
Despite the fact that he was still in the infirmary tending to the various scrapes and bruises she left, Dick couldn’t help but smile when he thought about his most recent meeting with the blonde archer. He’d never had anyone flirt with him quite like that before, but he was starting to understand the appeal. Unfortunately, the teammates who had walked in on them seemed to see it too. If Gar made one more crack about him finding his own Catwoman, Dick wasn’t sure he would be able to hold himself back (or Tim, for that matter).
In spite of that annoyance, there was something about a girl who could hand his ass to him…
Dick nearly dropped the ice pack he was holding to his jaw. He hadn’t expected to hear that voice here. “Hey, Roy. I haven’t seen you in a while.”
Red headed archer fiddled with the straps of the pack he was wearing, his scowl less forbidding than it normally was. “I heard about your recent infiltration problem, and I thought you could use some advice.”
Dick couldn’t help but quirk his brow at that. Roy barely ever came to Mount Justice, so what advice could he possibly give about it’s defenses? “Uh, that’s nice of you Roy. What exactly do you suggest?”
Roy looked distinctly uncomfortable for a moment, before he plowed forward. “This ‘Tigress’, you should be careful about her.”
Oh, that was interesting. Dick grinned ruefully and gestured to his bruised jaw, “I think I’ve figured that out already.”
“That’s not what I mean.” Roy tugged at his backpack straps once more. “Look, I know that the whole 'mysterious and deadly assassin’ thing can seem attractive, but you need to watch yourself. One minute your flirting in the middle of a fight, and the next thing you know, you’re married to her and she shows up with a kid that has your smile.”
The sudden image of a little girl with his eyes and Artemis’ features filled Dick’s head. He stomped it out as fast and ruthlessly as possible, and hoped that his bruises hid the blush suffusing his face. “Uh, thanks for the advice? I really don’t think that’s going to be an issue, Roy.”
For the first time during their meeting, Roy smirked. “I said the same thing about Cheshire.”
The other vigilante turned to leave, and Dick saw for the first time that Roy wasn’t wearing a backpack. Instead, he had a child carrier with a red haired baby inside. This time, Dick really did drop his ice pack.
Dick absently wondered if Gar was right about there being something about cat themed villainesses, or if it was something about the Crock-Ngyuen ladies in particular.