I don't own Young Justice.


There is something about Roy's arms.

Though Kaldur is inarguably the stronger of the two of them – Atlantean physiology guarantees that – he is constantly surprised by Roy's own human strength, the steadiness of his aim when he fires his bow, the firmness of his grip as he soars through the city sky on a zip line, the power in his shoulders when he lifts himself up again and again in his training room until the sweat runs down his back and he drops to the ground in reluctant exhaustion. Roy's arms are hard and lean and strong and scarred, yet when they wrap around Kaldur in the middle of the night they are warm and gentle, and when they pull him close, it does not matter that Kaldur knows their human weakness; he feels safe.

Right now, the archer is stretching one of those long arms down towards Kaldur, palm up. They don't need to say anything to execute this maneuver anymore, not after the years they have spent in the field; Kaldur grasps Roy's hand and lets him pull him up swiftly onto the roof edge, then he pushes the momentum they create through his own arm and sends his teammate flying up across the space between this rooftop and the next. Roy lands gracefully and rolls. In a split second he is up and flying after their quarry, arrows hissing through the night. Kaldur stands behind, watching the chase for a moment, then he drops off the roof in the other direction and begins the run towards their predetermined rendezvous. Roy will drive the chase here, and Kaldur will be waiting.

True to plan, a few minutes later the man races into the alleyway, casting a glance behind him, then slumps with his arms on his thighs and gasps for air, winded. He thinks he has lost them. Kaldur lets him enjoy that thought for just a moment before he steps out of the shadows, light streaking through his tattoos as the blades erupt from his waterbearers. With a panicked yell, the man stumbles backwards and makes as if to run back where he came from, but Roy drops nimbly out of the fire escapes above and lands in his path. Then it is over; Kaldur knocks the gun from their target's hands and crushes it beneath a bare foot, and Roy cuffs him to the fire ladder and radios the police with his location.

"Red Arrow out," he finishes, and the new name is no longer an imitation, but his own.

It is a slow night when they have the luxury of chasing down the same criminal together. Usually, they only work in tandem like this when they are facing a whole gang of wrongdoers, or when their target is especially formidable, someone too dangerous to risk taking on alone. Sometimes, other members of the team join them; Artemis in particular seems to enjoy competing with Roy for turf in Star City, but there is no real animosity anymore, not since she and Roy jointly rescued Ollie from an escaped Count Vertigo a few months back.

At one point in time, Kaldur knows that Roy would have complained about such an easy victory, demanded more challenge out of his night than a chasedown of a small-time gun for hire. But both of them have grown up a little since then, and the fact that the city is quiet on this particular night comes as a relief, not as a disappointment. They disappear into the shadows before the police arrive, and retire to Roy's apartment as the first morning light begins to brighten the edges of the sky.

"It's freezing, you cold-blooded fishstick," Roy complains as Kaldur pulls him into the shower before he can even properly undress.

Kaldur smiles and strips the last of Roy's uniform off him, tossing the now-damp clothing out onto the bathroom floor.

"I like it that way."

Even as he says it, he's twisting the nozzle to a warmer setting, but he loves watching Roy try to be grouchy with him, loves seeing that stubborn attempt to keep up a scowl melt into a gentler expression that the rest of the world doesn't usually get to see. Behind the mask, there is still a man, and a surprisingly soft-hearted one at that.

Roy runs a calloused hand up Kaldur's chest as the Atlantean leans him back against the shower wall, lips brushing lightly along the hard line of his jaw. The water is hot, now, and it runs down across their bodies in rivulets, taking away the dirt and the sweat of the night's work and sending up clouds of steam that fog the glass of the shower door and obscure their air between them.

"Slow night," Roy comments as Kaldur's fingers slide into his hair, foamy with shampoo.

"There are worse things."

"You could have been more creative with the disarming. The water-rope thing's getting a bit cliché."

Kaldur gives the archer a look as he lets the water rinse the lather from Roy's hair. (Roy's eyes are very green, and this always distracts him when they are face-to-face and Roy is maskless; he almost forgets what he is going to say, but not quite.)

"I do not claim to be creative, only to be effective."

Roy smirks, splaying a hand onto Kaldur's chest and pushing him gently against the opposite wall of the shower. He leans in slowly to kiss him on the mouth while his hand travels up the Atlantean's firm thigh, towards the crease of his hip; the pads of his fingers are rough but his touch is tender, and it makes Kaldur's breath hitch a little in his throat. With a shameless grin, Roy pulls away from the kiss, leaving his hand where it lies and his face barely an inch away, and looks Kaldur in the eye.

"That's probably why you're so boring," he smirks.

In the light of the early morning, these in-between hours that belong to them, Kaldur lies awake a moment longer than he has to. Roy is asleep already; his chest rises and falls slowly beneath Kaldur's cold, webbed hand as they lie tangled up in one another beneath the sheets and blankets, but Kaldur wants this time to think a little.

It really shouldn't work, for them to be like this. Yet somehow it does. Theirs is a balancing act of sorts; Roy's stubbornness to Kaldur's deep thought, Kaldur's caution to Roy's reckless bravado; one without the other would still be whole, to be sure, but both know they are better men together than they would be apart, and better heroes too. Both understand that they will and must be Red Arrow and Aqualad before they can be Roy or Kaldur'ahm, and both will always put the mission first. They are men of duty both, and perhaps this is what binds them so closely together.

But of course, that does not mean they cannot enjoy these moments when they have the chance. Kaldur lets his fingertips ghost over Roy's neck and his hard, muscled shoulder, studying carefully the man who can sleep beside him just as naturally as he took down a would-be murderer not three hours before.

There is something about Roy, and it is not just his arms. It is not just his green eyes, or the smirk that means something special that only Kaldur knows.

It is the way he can be both these people: the hero whom Kaldur respects completely and trusts with his life, and the man whom he loves with all his cold-blooded heart.