Empty Arguments 8 (Preview)
He’s the first one who tries to leave the Team. His shoulders are hunched and his posture is angry, and a terrifying cyclone of grief and despair and fury are driving through him, propelling him on, and on, and on, until the training dummy is nothing but a few scraps of cloth and a handful of foam pellets on the gym floor.
It’s the third one he’s destroyed in half an hour.
He yells and screams, and even when that stops, his silences still manage to convey the full depth of his wrath, perhaps all the more terrifying for the abstractness of the threats. His presence in the Cave only persists because he isn’t quite sure, just yet, where he’s going to go.
His rage is split; towards the Shadows, who are going to kill her; towards himself and the Team, for their inability to help; towards, most of all, their mentors, who had it within their power to protect her. Towards the Justice League, towards Superman, who were supposed to stand up for Justice and Honour and Fair Play and Decency. Who wouldn’t even kill one of their enemies, wouldn’t even condemn them to their death.
And it’s telling, this disgust, this ferocity, because one day while M’gann is in the kitchen, burning something in the oven and staring listlessly at the static on the television, he finally just stands up. Wolf and Sphere follow him, needing no instruction, needing no prompting, and when he walks out of the doors to the Cave he rides with them towards the horizon, with no real destination in mind expect far, far from here.
He’s finally had what he’s been looking for his entire life – the approval of Superman himself. Except he realizes that he doesn’t want it anymore. He doesn’t want anything to do with someone who could turn his back on family – because that’s what she is, he knows, knows without consideration or questioning; she’s family – and continue with their lives, unconcerned with their fate. He almost feels the revulsion rising, disgustingly large in his throat; as if he could simply release all that bile and poison that he’d swallowed; all those lies.
They stop together, the sand skidding beneath his feet as he jumps out, walking over to the ocean on a beach across the country. Calm. Peaceful. Empty. M’gann had taken to filling his mind with images like these when he’d been restless, unsettled, angry. Images of the things that she found most beautiful about Earth – a planet where both of them were strangers. And her mindscapes were always detailed, realistic, so close he could almost swear that he was experiencing it firsthand.
But it was still second to being there in person.
She never contested that fact, never became insecure about the quality of her imagination and power. The world was so vast, she had explained, so new and precious and unknowable, that it would be impossible to capture every nuance as perfectly as life did it for you. So when they had free time, or even on nights where neither of them could sleep, they would wander to the beach and appreciate the way the waves would crash on the shore and the wind would caress their hair and they would feel like this was starting to become a home.
He kicks off his boots and wades, ankle deep in the water. A home – something that he’d always thought meant a safe place. Did that just mean that Artemis had never been a part of their home? That she’d never been accepted? His hands clench into involuntary fists at his sides, and he screams at the water and the slowly sinking sun – screams out his frustration and heartache.
How does he know if he was accepted either?
His toes dig into the sand, and he raises a hand against the glare of the light coming off the water. He could keep going if he wanted – all the way to the other side of the world. But there’s nowhere really, that he can go to escape. Not on earth. He can go wherever he wants, just by flying there. He can force his way back into a life he’d been reluctant to enter in the first place.
It’s the first time he’s ever felt more trapped than he had in that Cadmus pod.
He almost laughs.