I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you


There was nothing that wasn't weird about talking to him.

He'd woken up from the coma after a few days. The doctors had no enlightening information, but Wally - smart-ass pre-med student - had said something about the kid's body detoxing itself from the drugs that had kept him under for so many years making for an unpredictable recovery.

He was there in the room less than an hour after the nurses had first noticed the flutter of the invalid's eyes.

Roy was... confused. He understood, it was a lot to take in, and Ollie's weepy explanation probably did little to inform or comfort the teenager who was seeing the light of day for the first time in nine years. The abduction, the clone - he watched the kid's face tighten as they were formerly introduced - the incarceration, the search. He almost wished they could have held off on some of the narrative, but he and Ollie had discussed it the night he'd returned from Tibet - Roy needed to know everything, but some things none of them would ever know.

"My arm," Roy rasped, left hand clenching and unclenching on his thigh. He stared, either from wrathful disbelief or pain and rage, at the stump just below his right elbow as if his wrist and hand had been replaced with an alien appendage. "Why did they take my arm?"

He'd been looking at the wound too, determined not to shy away from the truth so he would be able to accept full and unflinching responsibility.

Beside him in their visitors' chairs, Oliver sighed. "We're not sure. Batman thinks it might've been so the Shadows didn't have to keep all their... assets in one place. In case of discovery."

In the bed, looking so young and so angry, Roy let out a bark of a laugh. "The way I see it, they could've left me in one piece and kept me in the lobby of your penthouse and wouldn't have had to worry about being discovered, seeing as you looked so tirelessly for me."

The tears in Ollie's ocean-blue eyes were sparklingly clear. "I didn't know, Roy. None of us knew until - "

"Yeah, I heard you the first time," the teen spat with enough venom to fix the Kobras up for years, and turned his graze on the second chair before Ollie could reach out a hand to him.

It was weird, to hear his voice like that without having opened his mouth. It was weird to watch his own emotions play out in his own expressions on his own face, as if he were looking through a window in time. But that pain and rage wasn't quite his own; that clenching hand, that bandaged elbow, those hurt eyes weren't quite his own. They were similar, obviously, but untempered by his own years and recent experiences. This boy in the bed was the first Roy Harper, but not the only one.


That first meeting was hard. He hadn't said much - it didn't seem like he'd been expected to - but he'd promised to return as he'd stood and followed his slump-shouldered ex-mentor out the door. Roy had watched him go with a steely expression, but hadn't responded.

He thought it best to give the boy a few days to get acclimated. Being in a comatose state for so long had its physical effects, and he knew from a helpful nurse that Roy was scheduled to begin physical therapy before long. There was a lot of shrunken muscle to wake up after nine years of lying in a hibernation pod.

When he did return, he was braced to do a lot more talking, but original Roy had only one question.

"So what are we, exactly?"

The million dollar question.

He'd been working on that one ever since he'd had to fill out that admittance form. For years he'd been so focused on finding the real Roy that he didn't know what was supposed to happen now. He'd accomplished everything he'd ever set out to do, but it wasn't the end of the story.

"Look," he began, and faltered at Roy's unexpectedly open face. In that face, he saw everything Roy wanted and everything he needed to say. Both of them only wanted the truth. He took a steadying breath and began again.

"I don't think I need to tell you that finding you was everything I've been working for in the past few years, but honestly, now that we're here, I don't know where to go."

"Don't you have a life?" Roy asked, with some mixture of disdain and curiosity.

"Yeah, I do." It was true now - he hadn't slept alone a single night since Cheshire had shown up.

"Then just go off and do whatever you want. It's not like you suddenly need my permission to wear my face."

The words were sharp and angry, but he hadn't expected anything less.

"We don't have to be strangers, Roy."

He'd thought about this, too, and talked it over with Oliver and Dynah. They'd all agreed that it would be best and easiest for everyone if nobody tries to pretend like none of it had happened, and as Dynah had pointed out, that meant acceptance - on everyone's part.

Roy snorted from the bed. "What, you think we can just be best friends?"

Again - not an unexpected reaction. They really were alike.

As he stood, he dropped a piece of paper on the nightstand and saw Roy's eyes flicker over it. By address and phone number, if you ever need it." He was almost out the door before he turned to look back at his original, who suddenly looked more lost and tired than he'd seen, but it was only because it was his own face that he could see it.

"Give me a call sometime."

It may have been strange, talking to a guy with same name, face, and voice who he'd dedicated years to finding, but he was still just a kid. And maybe his older clone would have something more valuable to offer someday than just half-answers and scared looks.