“Are you sure they won’t find us down here?” Artemis said; her words echoed and distorted against the domed ceiling about a head above her. She tread water to stay afloat. “I mean, it’s not exactly a stretch, thinking you’d go hiding in the water.”
“Perhaps,” Kaldur responded, “but it is likely that Wally will be too busy seeking out Robin to look for us. I believe that by the time he’s succeeded and comes to find us, we’ll be glad to be found.”
Artemis raised her eyebrows — a pointless gesture in the dark (unless Atlanteans had night vision? Mental note: ask Kaldur). “You’re, uh, taking this whole Hide And Seek thing pretty seriously.”
“It is about tactics, is it not?” A slight splashing, as if Kaldur were making gestures with his hand. “Finding the best hiding place. I admit that it’s obvious for me to hide in the water, but this place is hidden well enough that Wally could swim back and forth directly in front of it and never once glance at it.”
She had to admit — their hiding place was fairly well-concealed: a bubble of air almost, but not quite, inside the rocky cliff face. It was half full of water, large enough to fit four teenagers such as themselves, and almost as black as pitch. Beneath the water, its entrance was hidden by a formation of rocks, so the only clue that it existed was a small gap peering over the surface (which was also how Artemis was able to breathe).
Of course, that air hole would be easily covered if the tide rose. Artemis took comfort in the rebreather that Kaldur had pressed into her hand.
Kaldur was right about another thing, too: by the time they were found, she’d be grateful to be released from this dumb game. In fact, she was already starting to bore of it. How the hell did this manage to keep little kids occupied for so long? She tipped her head back and sighed — then yelped, more out of surprise than pain, when she felt something tug on her hair. “Kaldur!”
Kaldur whispered something Atlantean (she was no expert, but it sounded like a curseword). “I apologise — I think I caught my hand on your hair by mistake. There…is a large amount of it floating in the water.”
“Hm. Hey, Kal, can Atlanteans see in the dark better than normal humans?” Only when it had left her mouth did she realise was a weird question it was to suddenly spring upon him. “I mean, if you don’t mind answering! It’s just…what with you guys living at the bottom of the ocean, ‘n’all…”
Kaldur chuckled, and Artemis relaxed. “It is fine. We Atlanteans do have slightly better vision in the dark, yes — but I still find darkness as thick as this difficult to see in. Atlantean cities are rather well-lit, and many of us are capable of using magic to illuminate darker water. Do you wish me to give us some light?”
“If you don’t mind. I’d rather know when I’m about to accidentally swim into a wall.”
The water around Artemis began to hum, before the ethereal, silver-blue glow lit up Kaldur’s face — closer than she’d thought.
Artemis and Kaldur blinked rapidly, finding each other in extremely close proximity. Kaldur’s blush was suddenly very visible. “I-I-I am sorry,” he stammered, but didn’t move away. “I did not mean to —”
What happened next wasn’t an entirely well-thought-out decision. Artemis wasn’t sure what possessed her — only that in the pale light his sharp cheekbones and full lips were suddenly very defined and she was heavily aware that he lacked a shirt, and his eyes were a stunning aquamarine colour and he looked so amusingly concerned, so Kaldur-ish —
And she lurched upwards and kissed him.
At first he reacted with obvious surprise. He simply bobbed there as if frozen, eyes wide and mouth unresponsive, and Artemis was just beginning to think oh god what the hell am I doing and preparing to pull away when his webbed hand pressed against the back of her head and his mouth opened — and he was kissing her back.
The water hummed more energetically than before. Sparks flew between their tongues. Embarrassment was banished from Artemis’ mind in the wake of Kaldur’s enthusiastic response and Jesus Christ, why didn’t I do this sooner?
When the two of them finally pulled away from each other, her arms were around his neck, his arms were around her waist, and their cheeks were matching shades of pink. They blinked at each other dazedly for a few moments.
Artemis was the first to speak. “Um,” she said, then laughed. “Um. Wow.”
The corners of Kaldur’s mouth twitched upwards, eyes still transfixed by Artemis’ own. “Wow, indeed,” he breathed. “That…that was…”
Artemis laughed again, tucking hair behind her ear and leaning forward. “Y’know,” she murmured, “this kid’s game isn’t as boring as I thought it’d be…”