When Roy finally makes it back to his apartment complex, he still cannot shake off how surreal his life feels now. Everything he knows has been flipped over on its head and stomped on for good measure. Now, he only wants to forget. To feel like Roy Harper again. To be his own person.
But he can't forget, not with a splintered and loose doorframe mocking reminding him about events that are far too fresh in his mind. For a second, he feels the rage building, his hands curling into a fist. He can already imagine the sound of the wood splintering and the agonizing pain that would trial up his arm, reminding him that he is real. That he still exists, perhaps not as Roy Harper, but as someone.
However, just as quickly as it came, the rage fades. He hates it - the cloud of irritation that's been controlling him for so long. Giving into it again would be pathetic.
So instead, he gingerly opens the door - no need to replace it yet, thankfully. He would have to look into fixing the door to the other apartment in Washington though. Later. This apartment is similarly as unkempt as ever, despite the fact that he spends little time in it. Half-empty take-out containers and scattered weapons are the only decorations the small room sports.
It's only one of his many secondary bases, but it will have to do for tonight. The location is close enough to assure Dinah, but thankfully far enough away from his former mentor unlike his primary base in Star City. Roy has had enough of the man's hesitant attempts at comfort. There's too much guilt, and they've never had the best track record for communication.
Better not to bother with it, because all it can end in is disaster, and he'd rather spare both of them the effort. It's better this way. Roy prefers the dark silence of his apartment. He hasn't bothered to change the dimming bulb, but the room is visible enough.
From the corner of his eye, a small digital alarm clock flashes the time: 11:40.
It's almost midnight. The adrenaline has long since worn off, and fatigue finally begins to creep through his body. There is nothing that sounds more appealing now than getting in bed and burying under the covers until noon. Then, the search would begin.
The archer only manages five steps before a sharp crack from below catches his attention. Even in the dim lighting, he can easily identify the object: one of his few wood-based arrows, hand-fletched. From his days as Speedy, or actually, from his forged memories of those days. Because he's not Speedy, he never was.
The irony of the situation - it just had to be a broken arrow of all things - sets him off again and this time, Roy doesn't even stop himself from kicking away the offending object. But of course, it doesn't end there, because life will never give him a break. Because Kaldur is standing in his doorway, in a scene far too reminiscent of earlier.
There is no arrow pointing at the Atlantean's face, but he can sense that Kaldur is equally as troubled as before despite the neutral expression he puts on.
"No. I've said it before. I'm not Roy. I'm-"
"-still a friend. My best friend," Kaldur cuts in, and clasps his hand on Roy's shoulder to silence the inevitable protest he knows is coming. "Names do not matter. I have known only you for the past two years I have spent on land."
Roy pushes off the arm, the troubled look on his face not relenting even an inch. "But how much of that was me, and how much of that was my programming?"
There is no clear answer for the question, and both realize this in the short silence that follows. Nevertheless, Kaldur is confident in his judgments and his feelings. There is no faking friendship, especially one as long and deep as theirs. He trusts this man who stands before him. Absolutely and without question. So he turns his back, baffling the other crime fighter.
"Would you attack me like this?"
The obvious answer comes quickly along with an almost scandalized face. "Of course not!"
"Then, there is nothing to worry about." Kaldur turns around, placing both hands on Roy's shoulder. This time, he will not let Roy shake him off. He will not let his friend leave without him, because in times of crisis, friends must stand together. "M'gann has already wiped out any trace of programming. All that is left is you, and if you believe the Roy I have known is different from who you are now, then I am willing to stand by you as you define your new identity."
"But…what if that identity is not your friend? What if I am just a pathetic traitor?"
"Your actions tonight are more than enough proof that you are still a hero," assures Kaldur.
Then, a flickering of light catches their attention. It's the clock, blinking the time - 12:00.
Before Roy even realizes what's happening, Kaldur has leaned in, placing a chaste kiss near his mouth similar. Roy is at first shocked into stillness, but he quickly tries to back away because it becomes too much. He can't understand how Kaldur can be so accepting, so trusting, and his brain is already short circuiting from the fact that he just got kissed by his best friend.
The Atlantean releases him and examines his reaction with an almost amused expression. "This is an earth tradition, is it not? A human charm to chase away loneliness for the new year."
"No! Well yes, but- just - nevermind," Roy cuts off his stammering with a sigh. He's already learned his lesson about trying to explain earth customs to Kaldur years ago, and this is one more awkward conversation he prefers to avoid. However, he's surprised to realize these memories brings a smile to his face. These are his memories, this is his friendship, not Speedy's.
"Will you leave the team though? They need a leader."
It is Kaldur's turn to hesitate now, but eventually, there is a resolute look in his eyes. "Tonight has made me realize that my team has grown, matured. The burden is no longer mine to bear alone, and right now, you need a friend more than the team needs me as a leader."
Roy runs a hand through his hair, because there is no arguing with a determined Atlantean. "I have no clue how this will work," he admits as a last effort to deter the other. It doesn't work.
"Neither do I," Kaldur replies, "but we will find out. Together."
To his surprise, Kaldur finds that Roy has leaned in this time, giving him his second kiss of the day. Roy isn't quite sure if he is doing this as some form of revenge or as an outlet for the flood of emotions and relief that has finally broken through the dam of insecurity and numbness, but it feels right. The archer then laughs, taking in the shocked look for all it is worth. "Like you said, tradition."
The Atlantean is pretty sure he's missing some vital piece of information, but he dismisses it, because the sound of Roy's laugh is a comfort to his ears. It has been far too long since he has last heard it.
The clock is now 12:01. It is a new year, a new chance, and a new kind of relationship, and regardless of where it this takes them, the two will see it through.
A/N: This was a fill done for the YJ anon meme. Roy/Kaldur is one of those pairings I never thought I'd understand/like, but then Auld Acquaintances happened and I was like "...WHOA I SHIP IT." Anyways I just wanted to write this down and put it up before Season 2 starts and totally wrecks this head cannon of mine.