Artemis took a deep breath and readjusted the utility belt around her waist. “Are you sure this is the best way to do this?” she asked, hesitantly looking up at Batman’s cowl.
Batman’s grimace softened slightly; she knew this was the closest to a smile he would get while they were both still in uniform. “You said you wanted to make a difference,” he said, his gravelly tone revealing just a hint of fondness. “And you already have the skills you need.” His expression turned grim again. “Your father made sure of that.”
Artemis shuddered. “I’m nothing like him.”
“No,” he said, “You’re not. You’re his antithesis.” He gently touched her shoulder in a partial hug, a surprisingly paternal gesture for him, and reminded her, “You represent us. You’re a Wayne now.”
“Batman, Batgirl, the time has come,” Red Tornado burst into the room, and they separated. “The team has gathered in anticipation of meeting their new teammate.”
Artemis raised herself to her full height, and tried to project the confidence she didn’t feel. “Okay. I’m ready.”
She walked out into the group, Batman behind her, and said, “Hello, everyone, it’s a pleasure to—“
Before she could finish her statement, the Zeta-Beam loudly announced, “Recognized: Kid Flash. B03.” A redheaded boy she recognized from some of the photographs Dick had in his room raced out, clad in only a swimsuit and holding a variety of beach equipment and shouting, “The Wall-man is here! Now let’s get this party sta—“ and tripping over his own two feet. Artemis shot Dick a look that said, ‘Really, you hang around this guy?’, and he shrugged his shoulders, as if to say, ‘I make no apologies for my idiot of a friend’. At least, that’s what she thought it meant. Even after living with him and Bruc—Batman, (she really needed to follow his advice of ‘Always use code names in uniform, even mentally’; it was going to be difficult to learn) for three months now, she was still having trouble understanding them. Who knew ninjas were so hard to read?
She couldn’t help smirking at the boy’s epic flop onto the floor, and sarcastically observed, “Wall-man, huh? I love the uniform. What exactly are your powers?”
He distinctly ungracefully got off the floor, and asked, “Who’s this?”
“Batgirl,” she proudly stated, “your new teammate.” She looked down at her gray bodysuit and yellow utility belt, the black bat on her chest prominent (even if her chest itself was barely bigger than Dic—Robin’s, damn it!). She’d heard this guy was a genius.
Clearly, she’d been mistaken.
“Kid Flash, never heard of you,” he replied, dodging the glare both she and, she was sure, Batman was sending him.
“She’s the newest member of my team,” Batman growled, protectively standing a little closer to her. Wally stepped backwards a bit, and went to stand next to Robin. “She is highly skilled in marksmanship, hand-to-hand combat, and stealth. Robin,” Dick snapped his attention to Batman, “I expect you will assist her in adjusting to Mount Justice.”
“Will do!” Robin enthusiastically proclaimed. “This is Kaldur, M’gann, Superboy, and Wally. And, well, I think you know me already.” Artemis couldn’t suppress a smirk at that, although Wally looked rather confused. Yup, he was obviously one of those dumb geniuses. Robin took her by the hand, and started showing her around headquarters.
Wally was deeply confused. And annoyed. But mostly confused. First, Speedy leaves the team hanging, and then Batgirl (or whatever her real name was; she’d heard Rob call her Art more than a few times) had shown up out of the blue. And now his best friend was spending more time with her than with him! He wasn’t jealous, oh no: Wests don’t get jealous. Okay, maybe his uncle Barry did occasionally, but then he had only become part of the family a few years ago; he had an excuse. But he really didn’t get it. Sure, both were Batman’s protégées, they probably knew each other before this. But why did they have to spend every second together?
Seriously. It was getting weird. Every time he turned around, they were sitting together. Training with Black Canary? Robin was in the projectiles room, showing Batgirl the finer points of throwing Batarangs. Robin needed help with his science homework? Batgirl was showing him how to calculate stoichiometric equilibriums. He wanted to play video games? They were already hogging the TV set, screaming at each other over blue-shelling each other. He was getting really sick of it. Sure, he could always invite him over, but it just wasn’t the same as getting to hang out with his best friend every day between missions.
Speaking of which, their interactions were atrocious. Sure, they were all teammates, but their little inside jokes and flirtations were starting to drive him crazy. But it was the time that she took his sunglasses off and he hadn’t yelled, instead just gently said that this wasn’t the place, that set him off. She knew his secret identity? This was just too far.
“What is with her?” Wally casually asked over a round of Mario Cart, as Batgirl was busy in the kitchen making cookies with M’gann. “I mean, seriously, the sunglasses are sacred.”
“Ehh,” Robin said distractedly, dodging a banana peel and casually chucking a blue shell at him. Wally cursed under his breath. “I mean, they’re just to conceal my identity. Doesn’t really count if the person lives with me.”
“I mean, I live with you too, you know,” Wally groaned as he entered second place. “And really, you need to stop flirting with your teammates.”
Robin froze, his controller falling out of his hands. Then, all of a sudden, he started laughing, harder and harder, until he was crumpled up on the couch laughing so hard Wally thought he was about to choke. He paused the game and looked at his friend, tiny as he was curled up, laughing at some stupid thing, and Batgirl walked in to see what the commotion was about.
Robin laid one look at her, and burst into peals of laughter. “Wally… thought… we…” he wheezed out, “were flirting with each other!” Immediately, she started laughing too, so much she had to grab a chair for support.
“This isn’t funny, guys,” Wally protested. “Why are you two laughing so hard?”
Robin finally caught his breath again, and asked, “Wally, why do you think we’re flirting with each other?” He saw Batgirl covering her face in her long blonde hair, clearly attempting not to laugh, but failing.
“Well, you keep spending time with each other, she knows your identity, what else am I supposed to think?”
“Maybe that she’s my sister?” Robin asked, looking highly amused as Batgirl broke into a peal of laughter again.
“I’m also Batman’s sidekick,” Batgirl said, ignoring Robin’s glare. “We attend the same school. We go home to the same house. What about this is confusing?”
“Wait.” Wally’s brain was finally starting to catch up to the information. “Then… what?”
“You’ve never had siblings, have you?” Batgirl asked sympathetically.
“He’s an only child,” Robin answered for him.
Wally threw his hands up in the air, and stood up. “Bats,” he muttered, walking towards his room. “Leave it to them to drive you positively batty…”