The team skidded to a halt as they arrived face to face with a looming dark brick wall.
It was extremely rare for the team to work anywhere near largely populated areas based on their track record of explosions during missions, but then again, it was extremely rare for six teenagers, two of which weren’t fully human, to be crime fighting superheroes. Surprisingly it wasn’t extremely rare for those six teens to be pursued by at least seven adult men with guns and sharp objects. But thinking about the rarities of being a fifteen-year-old who could vibrate through mass wouldn’t help the six scale the wall before them.
With a grunt bordering on a scream, Conner launched himself into the air, his landing probably disturbing sleeping citizens miles away.
M’gann grabbed Kaldur’s wrists in a monkey grip and took to the skies, carefully depositing the boy on the roof of the building.
Robin merely extended an arm and shot a grappling line up into the air, grabbing Wally by the waist at the last second and sending them both up into darkness, Wally’s surprised yelp echoing against the walls.
Leaving Artemis standing alone in a dark alley. No, fuck that. She allowed herself a second to glance around at her surroundings for a fire escape staircase or rickety ladder or something. She laid eyes on a broken drainpipe trailing from the very top of the building halfway down, where it had broken off. Against the wall, a few feet away from the drainpipe sat a classic Dark Alley Dumpster. Perfect.
Lining herself up, shoulder almost against the wall, she took a running start, leapt onto the closed lid of the dumpster and jumped again, catching the broken end of the drainpipe with both hands. Artemis began to scale the drainpipe up to where her teammates waited. When she crawled over the gutter and stood up on the roof, M’gann was watching her appreciatively.
“How did you learn to do that?” M’gann was easy to please.
“Work in Gotham, you pick up a few things”
“Gotham’s pretty much just one big dark alleyway,” added Robin, retracting his grappling gun.
“Gotham gang for the win,” said Artemis, emotionlessly.
For some reason, that cracked Robin up. He held up a gloved hand for a high-five, and Artemis obliged.
“Gotham gang for the win.”
Look. The bad guys had balaclavas, and they wielded weapons like crowbars and pistols. And they spoke like mobsters. So, forgive Artemis for letting out a quiet “This is so Gotham,” in the heat of the fight.
“What did you say, Artemis?” yelled Wally, over the grunting of crooks trying to keep up with him.
“She said that this is so Gotham, KF. You wouldn’t understand.” Artemis had no clue where Robin was, but judging by the source of the noise he might’ve been above them?
“Rob, I’ve been to Gotham heaps,” came Wally’s reply, as he threw a crook to the ground. Artemis quietly wondered why they were still talking in the heat of battle. Kaldur wasn’t talking during battle. That was because Kaldur was competent, unlike these two idiots that she worked with.
“Yeah, but you’re not from there, dude. You just won’t get it, sorry.” Robin had dropped down next to Artemis and was tossing his fancy bat-weapons or whatever stupid bird-based name they had.
“In case you’re forgetting, I’m also a superhero?” Wally was sounding indignant now. Artemis was willing to bet that if it weren’t so dark, she would be able to see his face approaching the colour of his hair.
“Gotham gang, Kid Flash.” Artemis replied stonily, her arrow whizzing past him.
Robin cracked a grin. “Gotham gang, KF.”
“I hate you both.”
“Man, Arti, this is so Gotham, right?”
“You are so right, Rob” she replied, only a hint of sarcasm, as she planted her fist into a crook’s face.
“You two are insufferable.”
“You’re just jealous because you’re not part of the Gotham gang, KF.”
“I am NOT jealous, Rob.”
“Excuse me for interrupting-” Kaldur getting involved? That was new. “-but it does indeed sound like you are jealous of the two, Kid Flash.”
“THANK you, Aqual-”
“Now, can we please focus on the mission objective?” Of course. Trust Kaldur to prioritise the Bats’ mission over the very important conversation going on between the Gotham gang and Wally.
“If you say so, Aqualad.” Before Robin swung up to the walkway above the factory floor (how they got into these weird drug factory missions Artemis would never know), he held out a fist to Artemis. “Gotham gang?”
She fistbumped him. “Gotham gang.”
Behind them, Wally groaned.
The muted news blared over the TV as the six teens lounged around on the couch, not paying much attention. They were more focused on eating the perfect ratio of M’gann’s cookies, enough to make her happy, but not enough to poison them. It was a delicate balance.
As Artemis took a careful bite of a burned chunk of flour and sugar, grainy footage began playing over the screen and her eyes shot up to examine the new material.
Seeing the rolling headline and Artemis’ piqued interest, Conner wordlessly took the remote and turned the volume on. Conner was considerate like that.
The shaky, civilian footage showed some dastardly plan from the Joker or the Penguin or some other gimmicky Gotham villain being thwarted by a blur of black fabric and Kelvar armour. Mixed screams and cheers played in the background, and eventually the footage turned to show a relieved citizen turning off their camera.
Artemis and Robin met eyes at the same time. “That is so Gotham,” they both rattled off in unison, staring each other down. Robin was struggling to keep his laughter internal.
“Did you see the bat-signal in the video?” he giggled.
Only in Gotham, Rob. Only in Gotham.” She humorously shook her head.
“Working in Gotham isn’t a personality trait, I hope you realise,” Wally called over their exchange.
“Not respecting women isn’t a personality trait, I hope you realise,” shot back Artemis, at the same time as Robin tutted “Classic non-Gothamite thing to say,” with a fake eye-roll and everything.
“You two are crazy.”
“What’s crazy about being from Gotham?” asked Conner innocently, sly grin creeping over his face.
“I- it’s… very Gotham? Are they serious?”
“Wally, I’d say that Batman doing vigilante work is ‘very Gotham’,” Kaldur supplied, a hint of laughter in his voice.
Artemis wouldn’t have been surprised if Wally had spontaneously combusted right then.
“I’d like to visit Gotham someday,” added M’gann, before Wally could scream in irritation.
“Is that so, M’gann?” Robin’s face shone with glee.
“Well, you two speak so highly of it. It must be quite a place.”
“It sure is, M’gann.” Artemis replied.
“Maybe you could join the Gotham gang,” Robin added, staring right past M’gann to watch Wally’s inevitable reaction.
“I cannot do this,” Wally threw his arms in the air, totally exasperated. He stepped over the back of the couch, probably off to mope about how inferior his hometown was.
Robin was the first to speak. “Man, imagine not being from Gotham.”
Artemis gave a shudder. “Awful.”
It was exceedingly rare for the team to work in Gotham. It was rare for anyone except for Batman to work in Gotham. Yet there the team was, on request from the big bad Batman himself, to discreetly investigate some suspiciously well-coordinated criminal activity.
The team was split in three, mental link and comms connecting them as they all ran over rooftops and in sewers and all that Gotham stuff. Artemis was teamed with Conner and the two slinked around dark alleys keeping watch for any criminal transactions. Or at least, Artemis slinked around. What Conner was doing would be more accurately described as ‘stomping’.
As Artemis peeked around a corner, her comfortably quiet comm began to buzz.
“Kid, goons at 3 o’clock,” came Robin’s crackly voice. So, the crooks were on the rooftops. Fun. Vague grunting and the harsh noises of hand-to-hand combat registered over the comms, delivering the audio of a fight right into Artemis’ left ear. She glanced over at Conner, whose face was twitching in annoyance at the unwarranted noise. He still didn’t like voices in his head.
Eventually, the noise died out and all Artemis could hear was the breathing of Robin and Wally.
“Wow,” Robin panted. “Only in Gotham, am I right?” Artemis could hear the shit-eating grin.
“Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME?” came Wally’s shout.
“Team, you did sufficiently on the Gotham mission three days ago.”
The team stood before Batman, watching the holograms displayed above him in silence. He really was intimidating.
“Now, with the intel collected, we need you six to engage again. There is an underground ring of criminals transporting illegal weapons between cities. We cannot afford another altercation. We have information that a turf war is brewing between them and a newer group.”
Artemis could feel her face morphing into a smile, and bit down on the inside of her cheek to avoid beaming at the scariest man she knew. It was just so Gotham, right? Illegal weapons, underground criminal rings, a turf war? She chanced a glance over at Robin, who had his eyes trained on his mentor, but a small smirk gave him away. So Gotham.
“This team will take the bioship to Gotham in one hour. Be ready.” The team all nodded determinedly. “Good.” He turned and made his way to the zeta tubes. Robin and Artemis turned to grin at each other once his back was turned. “Dinah, a moment?” Batman called, as he approached the transportation tubes.
As Batman stepped into the zeta, the quietest noise sounded.
“Only in Gotham, am I right, Dinah?”