Title: Tell
Recipient: Nettle (MaraJade7@aol.com)
Requested character: Arrowette (Young Justice/Teen Titans)
Author: Gaisce (gaisce@gmail.com)
Spoilers: All of Young Justice's run, major plot points for Teen Titans and Identity Crisis.
Rated: As good and clean as the comics.
Summary: Cissie can aim at what is and ignore what isn't, but you can't do the same with words.

"Bart, hold still."

The select few who had the privilege of knowing Impulse's secret identity as Bart Allen also knew that asking him to hold still was about as likely as winning an arm wrestling match with Superman. And there were quite a few members in the Young Justice ranks who would have picked that as an easier alternative.

"Bart!" she shouted again.

He managed to flit his attention back and stared, slack-jawed eyes wide behind the gold lenses of his goggles. For Bart it was the long, confused pause that came when a pretty girl in a costume was pointing an arrow at his head (which happened often enough for a distinction), but in reality it was only a fraction of a second that Impulse was not zipping around.

The response of Cissie King-Jones was immediate and automatic. It was one fluid moment to nock, aim, extend, and release the arrow from its alignment. Despite her speed, Bart could have dodged, gone for pizza, and come back before the arrow hit; but she wasn't aiming at Bart. She was aiming at the tangerine on his head and the poor fruit didn't stand a chance.

It struck the exact center, probably even the center of one of the small indentations that let the fruit breathe. The shot was so dead on that not even a trickle of pulp or juice escaped where the arrow now lodged it against the target.

In the bleachers, two people clapped. Robin's was the polite controlled clap that meant he probably had some kind of detonation device in the palms of his gloves that would go off if he hit it hard enough. The other was Cassie's, who was making up for the rest of them with whoops and cheers.

"Cissie," Bart sidestepped, completely ignoring the arrow that was still trembling from impact. "Why'd I have to be the one with the fruit on my head?"

"Because Superboy doesn't want to risk mussing up his hair," Cassie Sandsmark shouted from her position on the bleachers. She was the only one of the motley Young Justice group of six that viewed it as an entertainment event. Of course the others couldn't tell what she was cheering for more, her best friend's perfect shot or the interesting demonstration going on behind her back.

Cissie relaxed her stance even as her gaze was still transfixed on the target. She smirked a little, saying, "And don't think I didn't notice you mimicking bunny ears on me, Kon."

Kon-El, the not-quite-yet-legendary Superboy, floated down from behind her, looking rather smug and not at all contrite. "Hey I was just giving him something to concentrate on. Really, you should be thanking me."

In Cissie's opinion, Bart was spending more time than his usual attention span allowed, but she guessed it was due to the northward wind blowing her skirt. Although, now that she thought about it, bunny ears were much more likely to capture Impulse's interest. Which didn't exclude Superboy and his TK having some hand in—or up, as the case may be—the attention getting wind.

Already finished with thinking about other things that distracted him from the usual distractions, Bart turned his attention back to them with renewed vigor. "Hey, it doesn't take any concentration to sit still and let someone use you as a target! It's just not very interesting."

"You act as if it's normal that your friends shoot stuff at you," joked Kon.

"Oh yeah," Bart nodded earnestly, "Max does it aaaaaaaaaaaaalllllllll the time. Gets really boring."

With the exception of Cissie, the rest of the group blinked. But by then Bart had already sped over to the bleachers and was dangling his feet over them.

Secret took their moment of quiet to speak up. "But why a tangerine?"

"The Imp ate the apples," Kon smirked, "that's why he had to be the target."

"You said the watermelon was too heavy!" Bart protested. "I didn't want to balance another watermelon on my head."

When Secret looked like she still was confused (and not simply because of Bart), Robin sighed and turned to explain. "It's taken from the Swedish legend of William Tell. He was a political prisoner who had to successfully shoot an apple off his son's head or else they would both be executed. So in the spirit of developing trust in our team Arrowette suggested this exercise."

"Oh," said Secret, who probably still didn't get it but was blushing too hard from Robin's attention to want to ask further.

"Is that why I had to hold the fruit?" Bart asked, "I thought it was because Superboy was afraid of the arrows and Cissie—"

"I pegged you for a Robin Hood type anyway," Kon chuckled while clamping a gloved hand over Bart's mouth.

"That's because all archers are associated with Robin Hood," Cissie said, drawing another arrow from her quiver and nocking it. She didn't even have to recalibrate as she sent it flying to hit the previous arrow's shaft dead center. "Archers that end up as flashy, show-offs—" Which didn't mean she was one, Cissie was just demonstrating how a 'Robin Hood' was landed. Right. "-myths in tights."

"A brooding, mysterious urban legend with a cape," Cassie mused, "I wonder why you prefer him?"

Simultaneously, the rest of Young Justice glanced at Robin.


"Nothing, Rob," Cassie yelped, as Cissie looked like she was going to start swinging her bow at her best friend.

"I happen to be part Swedish anyway," Cissie remarked. "Or at least I thought my mom said something about it from my father's side."

"Does that mean you like wearing wooden shoes? Can you talk like the Swedish Chef?" Bart asked, this time close enough to Cissie and probably examining her for some kind of tell-tale signs, like she would carry ABBA lyrics in her back pocket.

"That's Dutch," said Cassie, pinching the bridge of her nose to try and keep the cosmic headache from descending on her.

"That's bad parenting," Kon said, who had found Impulse had run off again when he turned his back. "Using your kid for target practice."

Cissie remained uncharacteristically silent at his remark as she started off to retrieve her arrows. Being the world's second greatest detective, Robin could see Kon-El had hit a sore spot and followed to help. Being Cissie's newly dubbed best friend, Cassie shot Kon a look of death on her behalf.

"But it's okay if you're as good a shot as Arrowette!" Bart grinned, his previous annoyance at being made to stand still now washing away into the current hero-worship state he had for her. "Because you don't have anything to worry about."

"I'd feel safe if she shot an arrow at my head," added Secret. But nobody wanted to point out the logical difficulties of even getting an apple to hold on her gaseous form, much less the social practices of just how weird it was to say something like that.

Kon got the hint. "Okay, so next time I'll point out this little trust exercise at Cadmus. I'm sure it'd go over great at the company picnics instead of me catching Guardian in a mile high free-fall."

"Don't mind him," Robin said as he pulled the tangerine from where it was lodged in the arrow. His movements were methodical in picking the slips of paper and hay from the bruise mark, like he was a doctor undergoing surgery. "Sometimes we forget that our words can speak louder than our actions, or at least they can affect us more." Before Cissie knew it, Robin had the slices in his hand and was holding them out to her. "But for what it's worth, I'm glad you're on the team. And I'm glad I still get to be the only one with the Robin handle."

Cissie didn't mention that she liked William Tell's legend more because it was practical. Where Robin Hood's hubris had him sneaking off to archery competitions, Tell's hand was forced to commit great deeds. Maybe in some sick, teenage angst backdrop motivation she identified with him. Besides the arrow shooting thing anyway.

She liked William Tell because he had a backup arrow. All the ability in the world but he didn't let overconfidence keep him from being cautious, because you couldn't make mistakes when the stakes were that high.

'What was the second arrow for?' asked the captor.

'To kill you with,' William Tell had responded, 'if you ever did something so horrible as force a father to take the life of his own child.'

"Thanks," said Cissie. She took a slice from his hand and bit into it, careful for the juice that spilled out. Out of all peace offerings, it was good to have those that weren't overly sweet.


You don't know me but-

My name is Cissie King-Jones. I don't know why my mother picked that name for me, but even if it's kind of embarrassing it's what I go by.

She didn't talk about you much since you weren't around. The only thing I knew for sure about you is that you were a fantastic archer because Mom always said she wasn't half as good as I could be, and she never passed up an opportunity to remind me how much of me was because of her. So I must have gotten some of it from you.
I don't know what else I got, but I was afra-

Cissie never liked her name.

The kids teased her about it, call out to her in sing song the way that was both her name and wasn't. It was hers because she was Cissie. But it wasn't because it meant something else, something older than her, even older than when her mom shoved the mantle of Arrowette on her shoulders. A derisive remark, an epithet for a coward.

Even though she was the first to raise her hand and the first to cross the finish line, they kept taunting her. Coward, they said, still so afraid to lose. She didn't understand why they hated her, because her mom told her doing the best meant being the best. It was supposed to make sense that if you were the best everyone loved you, but it just made them hate her more.

Cissie couldn't stop it though. Ever since birth she had been training to aim for one goal, one ideal of perfection and to ignore everything else as extraneous. Being normal got in the way of things, making a mistake every fifth turn just so she could point it out to the others didn't work for her. The mistakes were too calculated to count as mistakes. It was like hitting the second ring away from the bullseye in the same spot over and over again.

She couldn't try anything less than flawless, so she thought of other ways to escape. Loopholes her mom left when she instructed her about heroes (and even the biggest bullies on the playground had a faded poster of Superman on their walls). So she made herself other alter-egos, divided into new secret identities to compliment Arrowette.

It started small at first. From Cissie came Cassie, just one letter in difference. Cassie's change was that she had a mom not evil enough to give her such an easily targeted name like Cissie. From there it grew to an alter ego, the part of Arrowette that made archery quips, the one who did tumbling routines when simple running would do.

The children that didn't know Cissie loved Cassie. The first girl "Cassie" met when she rescued her cat from being stuck in a tree invited her in for cookies.

But by then her mom had already moved onto bigger and better ideas. So then came Suzie Jones. She was the quiet and obedient one, who smothered Cassie's joking in the face of her mother's demands and curtsied when meeting others. Suzie didn't mind the excessive sequins her mother glued onto her mask and made her use impractical perfume arrows, instead preferring the gaudy trappings to hide her hesitations.

For every new occurrence Cissie devised names and meanings to cover those facets. Carrie was a King and borrowed her mother's rage. Cecilia took the last name of Prince, glossing over the veneer of debutantes and tried to keep herself humble. She never took the name Queen though, it was just something not done.

Cassie. Suzie. Carrie. Cecilia. Chi-chi. Even Ralph had some strange important meaning that made sense of Cissie's world. The only name they kept in common was that of Arrowette. And Cissie used it as a treasure chest to keep safe all the traits she valued. Arrowette was noble and gracious. Arrowette was clever. Arrowette was more than what her mother expected of her title.

Arrowette was more than Cissie King-Jones.

My mom. She's a real piece of work, but I'm sure you knew that about her. Hey, you probably know more about her than I do. Not that I'm bitter or anyt- She always pushed me to being the best so she could try and recapture that rush she got in her glory days as Miss Arrowette.

Psychological transference disorder, they said. Reliving her glory through me, which lots of parents do, but most parents probably didn't have a temporary stint as a superhero.

"Your mom is pretty nice when she isn't on a rampage," Cissie remarked in the darkness of Cassie Sandsmark's room.

Without the light she couldn't see the Superboy posters or the half-eaten bag of chips tucked under the bed. It was strange to have a room so normal in comparison to hers, which only sported a few posters of bands and paperback books.

"Well, you're not too bad after a rampage," Cassie snickered. "Oh god, I still can't believe you told off the JLA. I mean, not even my mom was gutsy enough for that, and she told off Wonder Woman before!"

Cissie heard the rustling of Cassie's sleeping bag as the other girl positioned herself closer so they could talk easier. In the half-light it was still strange to see that Cassie's natural hair was about as blonde as her own, if not a little more mussed from wearing a wig and goggles. She didn't bother to pull out all the tangles in her hair the way Cissie had done since childhood, preferring to keep it casual. The small grin on her face came more naturally too.

"I was just a little pissed," Cissie murmured, all of a sudden embarrassed by the attention but not really. Jeez, she even had the special poster of him pasted by the door, the one they gave to club members only.

"Yeah, well, that was some superheroic PMS," Cassie continued to gush, and Cissie was halfway glad that Arrowette never got enough exposure for merchandise like the kind that graced her friend's room.

"Can we talk about normal things? You know, hopes, dreams, and aspiration stuff? Stuff that doesn't involve your massive crush on Superboy?"

"Oh, sure, right." Cassie nodded, all too amiable and close in the messy room as she gave Cissie a playful swat. "I'd been thinking...about our moms."

"Oh god, I was surprised the harbor was still standing after they finished with each other!"

"I'm sure they're not finished, after all, my mom did let you stay the night. That's a first for the costumed type friends."

"Maybe she's just afraid you'd break the furniture if S.B. were here?" Cissie smirked.

"Oh god, Cissie! I can't believe you said that!" Cassie screeched and buried her head into the pillow. "That's just—"

"I was talking about one of those epic fights that always seem to come around whenever people meet. Calm down and get your mind out of the gutter, Cass."

"I'm an aspiring archeologist, thanks. It's my job to dig in dirty places."

Her interested piqued at the sudden turn of normalcy, Cissie turned to stare at Cassie. "Really?"

"Well, yeah. I know my mom says it's a lot of hard work and pretty boring, but there's something really cool about connecting with ancient civilizations."

"Well," at a loss for words, Cissie blushed, "that's cool that you want to follow in your mom's footsteps."

"What about you?" And suddenly Cassie's attention was all on her as she leaned over into personal space with an expectant grin. "You going to become a famous actress? Model? Olympic archer?"

Cissie rolled away and broke her gaze. "Uh, I was figuring more a scientist."

"Forensics? Like the smart side of 'Law and Order'?"

She didn't ask why she wasn't going to follow Bonnie King's footsteps, she probably already knew the way her mom tore into the other woman. It was probably what made Cassie such a fast friend, that she implicitly knew about the unspoken things and left them alone. She had that strange ability to act like a normal fangirl even as she was teammates with Superboy, and Cissie hoped on some selfish level that would rub off on her. So she'd stop thinking of the world in terms of her mother's goals and things she did in spite of her mother.

"I dunno," Cissie mumbled. "Thought teaching would be nice except the pay is pathetic."

Cassie's hand was on Cissie's shoulder, pulling her back on her other side so they could stare eye to eye. It was the best way she could try and make sure she hadn't hurt Cissie's feelings in the new stages of their friendship where they were still testing out the waters. "How about a supermodel scientist? With the looks and the brains to send all men cowering before your might?"

"I'll leave the might cowering to you, 'Wonder Girl.'" That way Cassie knew all was forgiven, and she didn't even have to suffer through one of Cissie teasing about Superboy again.

"We make a great team," Cassie whispered.

"Yeah," Cissie murmured, sleep already closing in from her exhaustion at the previous week's antics. "Fighting evil and grown up responsibilities, one person at a time before bedtime."

When Cassie realized Cissie had trailed off into silence she yawned at her own body succumbing to slumber. "G'night Cissie," she yawned, "I'll wake you up early for Mom's breakfast."

"Night," Cissie responded. She lay awake and still in the normal teenage room, soaking up the feeling and letting Cassie's even breathing lull her to sleep.

Right now I go to the Elias School in western Pennsylvania. At first I was kind of a charity case for them, being a ward of the state and all, but I made friends there and now it's like a second home. And after I won the gold medal at archery in the Olympics they've been bending over backwards to make me comfortable. It's a pretty nice place, and I have live-in friends.

It's where I met Doctor Mom-

It's where I met my psychiatrist who helped me figure a lot of problems out. She always told me I should write out what I wanted to say if I ever met you, even if I didn't. A dry run for the unexpected. She said it would be therapeutic or cathartic or some other technical term she was always using on me. Because apparently I have unresolved issues that don't involve perfume arrows.

I think you would have liked Marcy Money, my doctor. But then everyone should have liked her-

The graveyard was a good distance from the Elias School for Girls, despite the large forest area that would have been ideal. The foundation members said it would be too morbid to place a resting place of the dead near a boarding school.

Cissie didn't disagree as she stepped out of the car, with Bonnie King looming behind her as if to keep her from some kind of outward harm.

"I told Frank no calls," she said offhandedly, trying and failing to find the words to comfort her daughter in this time. She could only stand idly by, her hands begging and twitching for a cigarette that she didn't have because smoking would be disrespectful for the dead.

"Thanks Mom," Cissie whispered.

She didn't move quite yet, preferring to bide her time and sort out everything that was churning inside her. It took her two hours to get ready because she couldn't stop the bile from rising in her throat when she thought about what Marcy looked like under the tarp.

Bonnie had stayed in the doorway and offered to hold her hair. Her mother had already offered everything within her power to make it go away, and Cissie was thankful for it. However, she couldn't find the words to express it, and at a time when mourning was called for she thought it would be better to hold off for a while. Cissie's throat was exhausted from the sobbing, and the shame that not all of it was for Marcy.

"God, I'd kill for a cig," Bonnie hissed under her breath.

Cissie's eyes were blank when she turned back to her mom. "Do you mean that?"

"Oh hell, I didn't..." Bonnie's words dried up in her throat and she looked away in shame. "God, I must be running a record of ways to screw up my kid."

Cissie was staring up at the noon sky, trying to avoid looking for a particular gravestone. It took her a very long time to find something to tell her mother that wasn't designed to hurt, but she didn't have much experience for that. Just point, aim, and shoot. Everything else was extraneous. "The Doc smoked too. She...she was trying to quit."

She took a long, shuddering breath and tried to calm herself. It was enough right now that she didn't take the opportunity to lash out. Maybe there was something wrong with her that her first instinct wasn't to grieve but to hurt. Instead of running to her friends or her mom, she decided to go out into the woods and stalk two guys with the intent of reenacting the same crime that haunted her dreams at night.

Her mother was responsible for the impetus to search out problems. She had trained too long and held the persona of Arrowette too deep to let it go. It was Bonnie King's fault for burying that responsibility in her daughter's heart so she couldn't ignore it anymore if it was in her line of sight. Cissie was taught that heroics were perfunctory, and despite her friendships in Young Justice at the end of the day it was a job.

But her mother never taught her to kill, or to desire and sink to their level of perverse pleasure. In her head she justified the difference, the scream she remembered from the videotape telling her the difference. Attempted murderers weren't the type to have sleepovers with their friends like she was. But bad guys like Jerry and Rick weren't supposed to second guess, or beg, or value their own lives the way they devalued hers. They weren't supposed to call bears Boo-Boo and cry after firing at it.

Somehow Jerry's sobbing over the bear and Marcy's pleas for mercy blurred together. So when it came to judgment and Cissie could only view the world as a straight line to the target she wondered which end of it she was on now.

She would have fired if Superboy didn't catch the arrow. He gave her the second chance, but unlike William Tell she didn't know what to do with it.

Bonnie King was lingering on the outskirts of Cissie's personal space. Well, more like pacing on the boundary line and exhausting herself of all motherly phrases like cigarette butts. And out of the corner of her tacky glasses Bonnie was waiting for some kind of sign that her daughter would give so she could swoop in and try and make things better.

"I'm going to wait in the car," Cissie announced, taking comfort in the fact that she sounded just like her mother as she walked away.

I don't know why I'm doing this now really.

Robin, no, Tim Drake was standing in the doorway of her dorm without his mask.

He had the same abashed expression when they met at the Olympic games, filled with uncertainty that simply could not be Robin because Robin was all confidence and perfection. Robin was naturally what Arrowette was supposed to be. An arrow that always hit the bullseye, no matter where the shot was fired. A persona that filled a costume and hid all the small mistakes normal people were made of.

This boy that stood in front of them was just like when he removed his mask for the first time in front of his teammates as Alvin Draper. It was a fake name, but a real expression. However, Cissie didn't know what that looked like because by that time she had already left them and she only knew that it was important in an off-hand sort of way.

"My dad died."

Stumbling and cry, Greta was the first to react. It was an awkward rush of limbs that must have been spurred on partly by her own grief. Far too clumsy for how a former superhero should move, she reached out and pulled him to her. Not like the embrace of a girl who had had a crush on him ever since they met (because Cissie had crushed on him longer than that, with newspaper articles and dreamy sighs...). It was like someone who had lost the same. My dad died too, Greta was saying as she buried her solid fingers in the clothes that looked nothing like red skintight Kevlar vests and clung and cried with him.

Bart stood by the wayside with his hand firmly on Tim's shoulder, helping to keep him steady. He was the one who brought Tim here on route from a Teen Titan's mission. Apparently the events that went on spurred this visit to their old teammates. Cassie didn't come this time, she was probably tending her wounds and soaking up comfort with her boyfriend, Kon.

My dad died too.

Cissie shut it off and tried to focus on other things. She still couldn't get used to Bart's uniform change. Different, but also familiar because it was worn by the old Kid Flash. It was a kind of traditional normalcy, or as normal as things got for superheroes. When she asked about it all she got from him were phrases like "mantle" and "legacy" that didn't fit him at all.

But that wasn't the most striking change. It was the demeanor Bart had while standing there, completely still and solemn while Robin crumbled beside him. It was the fact that Bart Allen was standing still and waiting that made Cissie realize just how far behind she let herself fall.

My dad died too.

She didn't feel like she should intrude. Maybe that was the problem. It felt like it was an intrusion, or a breach of the walls that grew between them and her. Something that she couldn't cross because she had long ago forfeited the right and now she was left on the outside.

You can't talk about geography and boy bands all the time when your best friend is a superhero, can't compare crushes when your first was on the protégée of Batman or the Flash. And despite the fact that she had done things unheard of in civilian life, like playing galactic baseball for the fate of a planet or held a cosmic-altering genie as a newborn, those things were all in the past now.

What could she say to them now anyway? Bart who had lost Max to the super-villain, Rival, and was now living as a stray under Jay Garrick. Greta, who was no longer Secret and no longer borrowed Cissie's old name, still carried the memory of her father's body falling into Darkseid's pits. Tim, who was holding back tears even now as he let himself go in front of them because he saw them as family.

My dad died too.

Cissie said nothing as she walked over to join them. This was her room, they had come to her, and yet she still felt out of place. She didn't know if it was welcome or not, but it didn't matter much as she pulled Bart into her arms, then Greta, then Tim. If they protested she would let them go, but for now she had nothing to say. She just hoped they would understand her actions.

I guess it just wanted to try, even though this will never reach you. I wanted to tell you that I'm doing okay. I have my friends and I'm closer to my mom than I ever was before. I don't know if you know about me, or if you'd care if you did know, but I'm pretty happy. And you should at least know that."

Your da-