I don't own Young Justice.


Roy leaves in the dead of night, without a goodbye.

The reactions vary.

Wally panics, points out that he has every reason to be suicidal right now, insists that they have to find him immediately, personally runs down every street and alley in Star City looking for him. Ultimately it's a fruitless search, which on some level, everyone knew it would be. By the end of the day he's exhausted and terrified and in tears, and only Robin's careful coaxing gets him to come back to the Cave, eat something, take a deep breath and agree to wait it out. But it's weeks if not months before he really seems to accept the fact of the matter: Roy is gone.

Dick spends the entire day in the Cave communications room, endlessly running different programs for cell tracking, facial recognition, crowd panning, and comm trace. He won't say he's worried, but Zatanna can tell by the hard cut of his jaw that he's holding his breath every time a status bar nears completion, and she can tell by the slump in his shoulders every time the results come back that he's anything but traught.

Kaldur glances at the half-empty closet and the space on the bedstand where Roy's photo of his father is supposed to be, and begins his morning routine.

Roy – no, not Roy, that name isn't his after all – collects his things in the silent darkness of the apartment, slips item after item into his suitcase until there's no evidence to suggest he ever lived there at all. He doesn't have much, so it doesn't take long, though he has to move slowly to avoid detection. Part of him is tempted to wake Kaldur up, to have some sort of final exchange to carry with him for the road, but he resists that particular inclination. It will be easier for both of them this way.

47 days in, Roy – the real Roy – appears. He doesn't know how he got there and he doesn't know where he's been for the last three years, but his reunion with Ollie is happier than anyone could have ever expected, certainly happier than any interaction Ollie ever shared with the other Roy, though no one says this out loud. Real Roy moves back in with his mentor immediately and resumes his life.

Things are different, of course. This Roy is Wally's age, disoriented by his time in Cadmus, and missing half an arm, though Batman makes him an impressive prosthetic replacement. He's also a great deal more lighthearted than the Roy they've grown accustomed to. His easy sense of humor makes quick friends of Raquel and Zatanna and in time, Artemis, M'gann and Conner too. All complications aside, Wally and Robin are glad to have their buddy back, even if they've grown up a little since last they hung out, and before long the three are thick as thieves again. Kaldur alone keeps a polite distance.

(Everyone knows who's behind the rescue, of course, but it seems inconsiderate to bring it up at such a time, when this Roy has already been through so much. For now, they welcome the newcomer who is not a newcomer at all, laugh and play and joke with him, and silently acknowledge the fact that at least his presence means that the other oneis still out there somewhere. Probably.)

On the other side of the world, blue eyes watch a TV newsfeed, live from Washington, D.C., where a team of nine junior heroes has just prevented an attempted assassination of the Speaker of the House.

He wants to say that watching himself stand beside his friends like that is a head trip, but he can't. Those aren't his friends. They never were. He's still working on getting used to the idea that everything he once thought was his is really somebody else's, but as it turns out, it takes a while to give up on your name, your life, and everything you ever loved.

Time passes.

No one talks about it anymore. They have new routines now, new problems to solve, new missions to tackle, and since there's really nothing they can do there isn't much point in worrying about it. Besides, it's simpler like this – they don't have to put words like "original" or "not angry" in front of Roy's name anymore; it's just assumed they're talking about him.

This isn't to say that other Roy has been forgotten. But it's been ten months and at this point, there really isn't a reason to expect he'll come back, or even to believe he's still alive, so he becomes another one of those casualties that heroes keep hidden away inside, out of sight and out of mind whenever possible. It's just how you deal.

Dinah watches Kaldur carefully, but he seems completely normal, showing no particular signs of distress or discontent. She's surprised, but in the end she supposes that he, like the rest of them, has had to move on.

It's New Year's Eve again. Funny how no matter what happens, the days just start over again, bring you right back where you started. Funny how everything can change, yet nothing changes at all.

He shouldn't exist. That's the bottom line. But he does, and despite a year spent throwing his life around like it isn't worth a dime, he's still breathing. Fate, apparently, wants him to live.

Now he just has to work up the courage to want it himself.

Roy – he's kept the name, in the end, having never known another – is surprised when he arrives to find the porch light on. It's not like Kaldur to leave it running, and it's not as if he gave word that he was coming. Perhaps it's for someone else…?

Roy's stomach twists slightly. For a moment, he reconsiders. It's been a whole year; any number of things could be different. He shouldn't be here. He shouldn't be anywhere, really.

But he wants to be, and that's the only sort of direction he has at the moment. So he shrugs his bag up on his shoulder, takes a deep breath, and knocks.

He isn't sure what he's expecting, really, but when the door swings open and Kaldur is standing there, cool-eyed and handsome as ever, his weary heart swells with anticipation, like he's been dying of thirst and someone just showed him the way to water.

"You – you left the light on," he says, because what the hell do you say when you disappeared off the place of the planet for a whole year?

Kaldur smiles softly.

"I am aware," he says, and suddenly Roy notices the pot bubbling on the stove, and the timer ticking over the oven, and the table set for two. His eyes flick back to Kaldur.

"Are you…expecting someone?" he asks, awkwardly gesturing to the setup.

"Yes," replies Kaldur.

Roy's stomach sinks.

He opens his mouth to apologize when Kaldur's hand descends on his shoulder, silencing him. Before he has a chance to realize what it all means, Kaldur has reached past him to flick the porch light off, and is gently steering him towards the table, where a place is waiting, waiting for him, he suddenly realizes, and doesn't know what to think.

Kaldur's hand brushes Roy's shoulder as he sets a plate down before him, and he gives it a gentle little squeeze before he moves away to take his own seat.

"Welcome home, my friend," he says.

And despite everything, Roy is.