Disclaimer: Don't own YJ
This chapter is pretty short. I couldn't find a good fit beyond the first bit, so the rest is a bit short. Mostly it's setting the next chapter up, which will feature Batman and Robin. And then it will lead into M'gann and J'onn and the unravelling of part of the deaging mystery.
Why had he agreed to staying? He'd come over with Ollie partly out of curiosity, partly because he was still drugged on painkillers, partly because he wanted to see Dinah, but not a single one of the many reasons he'd thought up to justify returning to Ollie's mansion for this. Shortly after Dinah had returned to the mansion bringing Blondie in tow, she'd carried out her threat to inspect every inch of the house for child safety features. While Roy had been pretty impressed with the effort Ollie put in, Dinah had said it wasn't enough to just buy the crap. And she'd lead her boyfriend away to actually assemble toys, put locks on doors, and all that shit.
Which had left him in this predicament. He was stuck with the brat in the living room. Dinah had already fed Artemis lunch, which saved the kid from chili. Since Dinah had been late coming home, having actually gone to inspect the houses, Roy hadn't really presumed that he'd find himself in this position. With the kid. Who was still decked out in that stupid girly Green Arrow costume, but the hood was pulled up, and holding a white stuffed rabbit toy Dinah had picked up from the kid's mother.
Looking at the antique grandfather clock in the room, Roy groaned to discover it had only been five minutes since Dinah had left him with the kid. The kid who had been entirely too silent during it all. She just sat on the couch, hugging her stupid white bunny. Finally, Roy stood up and grabbed the T.V remote. If the kid was going to be silent, he may as well watch the news.
Two minutes later and he was watching the GBS network's Cat Grant as she discussed the latest peace talks in Rhelasia and the success of Luthor's peace initiatives. He glared at Luthor's image on the screen as the man droned on about how cooperative the Rhelasians were and how he really took no credit in bringing peace. The icing on the bitter cake was when he modestly- as if that was a word for Luthor!- shrugged off that achievement and the nickname of the Peacemaker.
"Really, I'm just an ordinary man who was in the right place at the right time," said Luthor politely to the camera, "I'm no Man of Steel, no superpowers. I just did what I thought was right in that situation. I don't like to think of myself as above the ordinary man just because I did the right thing."
"Why'd he say that?" asked the blonde girl beside him, reminding Roy that she was here.
He turned to stare at the girl beside him, who was frowning as she surveyed the screen, looking confused. Uncertainly, he replied, "Because he wants to make Superman look bad."
The little girl nodded, but continued to glare at the screen with a cute pout. Even if she was annoying as hell when she was older, and a shitty replacement for himself, the kid wasn't too bad as she was now. He turned back to the screen, when the girl inched closer to his chair. He was sitting by himself on the reclining chair that Ollie had bought. There were two, one a bright red, the other an ugly green. Both were situated on opposite ends to the couch, meant for sports games so that the two could relax. They weren't side by side because when they got into their playful arguments, they'd use projectile weaponry, which was all a part of how they fought and yet, got along.
The kid had sat on the couch, as far away from Roy's end as possible without climbing into Ollie's chair. Which actually said Ollie's chair in untidy scrawl across a green pillow. He'd custom ordered two pillows, one red and one green, with Roy and his own signature. Roy shook off the memories. Just because Ollie had always made things equal between them didn't mean the man had taken him seriously. As a partner. He wouldn't have treated him like a kid. Sullenly, he focused on the news.
The reporter switched over to Vicki Vale with the coverage of Gotham's latest spectacle of a menace, the Riddler in all his fine glory as he went on a spree, breaking into and stealing from several jewellery shops. Roy didn't much care about the mission until an image of Robin appeared on the screen as he swung down and knocked three of the middlemen down.
"That's Robin!" came the girl's voice again, and Roy simply grunted an affirmative, "I didn't know Robin fought the Riddler last week. Why didn't he mention it? I could have helped!"
"How would you have helped kid?" asked Roy, curious now on the girl's backstory.
"Duh, I live in Gotham! I could have used my arrows! That store isn't near my home, but Ollie wouldn't mind. He told me I can't y'know, patrol in Gotham, but it gets really boring when I'm at home with mommy," explained the little girl, as she scooted closer. However, when Roy turned to really look at her, she stopped and shuffled backwards a little. Apparently he still was scary.
"Well, then that's why they didn't tell you kid," he said with a shrug, facing the T.V and trying to be as non-threatening as possible, "You're an Arrow, and Arrows belong to Star."
The little girl nodded from the corner of his eye, and she seemed happy at that. Happy enough to take the hood down and reveal blonde little pig-tails. She was still hugging the rabbit, which looked as though it was used to being mauled by kids. Or at least, this kid in particular.
"But I don't live in Star, so I don't really belong," she said quietly, looking miserable.
"Well, you work in Star with Ollie don't you?" asked Roy easily, trying to keep the girl from crying.
"Yeah," she said, perking up a bit.
"So Arrow that belongs to Star," said Roy with a nod.
"Okay," she said brightly, and Roy gave a small, relieved sigh.
The news continued on to the sports scores, and Roy took note of them with little interest. Ever since going solo, he hadn't had much time to keep up with sports. He'd never been a big fan of anything before moving in with Ollie, but after awhile he got into football and boxing, both on the insistence of Dinah pushing him and Ollie to bond. The sports news was boring, but he did notice Artemis moving closer to him. He didn't mention anything.
When the news switched to the entertainment section, Roy had to smirk. It was a feature on Ollie's last party. He hadn't shown up to the party. It was a major scandal, but nothing worse then Ollie had done before. But Roy couldn't help smirking at it. It was pretty funny to watch the stuffy reporters acting all bothered by Ollie not showing up, when Ollie was probably saving their sorry asses while on a League mission or off fighting Shado or Merlyn.
"Ollie didn't go to his party?" asked a sudden voice, and Roy jumped to find that Artemis was now sitting right beside him, unconcerned as she looked at him curiously.
"Er- No he didn't," said Roy, relaxing as he continued, "He was off probably doing a mission."
"Oh," said Artemis, appeased, "I thought he was being irresponsible. Dinah says he's not very responsible all the time."
"He isn't," agreed Roy, "But he likes a party, so he tends to go to those."
"Why?" asked Artemis curiously.
"Well, probably because he likes the unlimited booze and food and women," said Roy with a shrug.
"But he has Dinah, why does he need unlimited women?" came the next question.
"Roy's being silly," said a voice from behind them, before Roy could give an answer.
Roy turned to face the blonde woman, who had an eyebrow raised in a 'what-the-hell-do-you-think-you're-doing?' manner that Roy and Ollie had gotten used to as a sign of anger. He gulped, but Artemis beamed back to Dinah. Trust her to warm up to the blonde. Dinah smiled sweetly at Artemis, before fixing a glare at Roy.
"Dinah! Where's Ollie?" asked Artemis, and Roy twitched a little. The kid couldn't talk without asking a question.
"He's setting up your room," said Dinah as she came and leaned over the couch, making sure to go between Artemis and Roy as she crossed her arms and peered at the television screen, "What are you guys watching?"
"News," grunted Roy, pointing on-screen.
"I remember that party," said Dinah with a nod, "Ollie missed it because of the ice towers attack."
"Did I help in the ice tower attack?" asked Artemis, looking thoughtful.
"Yes you did sweetie," said Dinah, smiling as she pet Artemis's head. "But why are you guys watching the news? Why don't you put on a movie instead?"
"Sure," said Roy, recognizing the question to be a command, "What do you want to watch kid?"
"Alice in Wonderland!" said Artemis, before pausing and frowning, "I don't want to see that anymore. What else is there?"
Roy stared at the girl's pouty face, and tried to figure out why Alice in Wonderland got such a mixed reaction, before he shrugged and said, "We've got Robin Hood, every damn version there is. Peter Pan, the live-action and cartoon version, are there any other versions? And-
"What's Peter Pan?" asked Artemis curiously.
"Peter Pan sounds like a great movie," said Dinah with a nod, "You two can watch that together."
"Cartoon or live-action?" asked Roy, and Artemis replied easily, "Cartoon!"
The movie went into the DVD player, and Roy began fiddling with the settings on the remote control. As soon as the blue Disney castle scene popped up, Dinah made the suggestion for popcorn, and asked Roy to come help. Artemis was enthralled with the advertisements.
In the kitchen, Roy waited for Dinah's other shoe to drop. She was easily moving around in a white blouse and jeans, looking the part of the rich man's girlfriend. Her blonde hair was tossed into a messy bun, and overall, from her slouch and movements, she looked like a pretty girl who wasn't much to fear. Except for the fact that it would take a second for her to suddenly change her posture into a dangerous. And Roy had a feeling he was going to get it.
"She was fifteen a few hours ago," said Dinah, her tone even as she walked around and put a blue bag of popcorn into the microwave, "And at that time, she may have joined you in complaining about Ollie. But right now, she's a confused child, and for all instances should be treated like a five year old. And Ollie is trying, you know? So at the least, don't mess that up for him."
Roy clenched his hand into a fist. He couldn't explain why he was so angry thinking of Ollie trying to make a relationship with another kid, but he was pissed. It bugged him more than he was ready to admit. Dinah must have seen something in his face, because she sighed.
"Roy, he's trying for both of you," she said again, and Roy unclenched automatically, but he was still frowning.
"I get it Dinah," said Roy with a shrug, "I won't mess things up for Ollie. He'll probably do that himself."
"Roy!" said Dinah, glaring at him. "He's not- Ollie really sucks at doing the responsible thing, and he's messed up so many times before that well, I get where you're coming from. But you came here, with him, of your own volition. So just, try, okay?"
Roy stared at her face, both sincere, with a slight menacing glare. He was pretty sure that it was Dinah's way of saying he had no choice but to try, so Roy nodded and let her hand him the popcorn. She pressed a kiss to his temple, and she was out the door without a word. Probably as to not mess up the mojo they had going on of peaceful acceptance and what not.
As Roy settled back into the living room, he handed the bowl of popcorn to Artemis. The movie started with the Darlings leaving the house, but Roy was a million miles away. He was thinking idly of why he had come here. Ollie had reached out, had tried to reach out, multiple times. But the idiot wasn't really apologizing. He was just, trying to talk to Roy. Telling him to cool down. Which only angered him further. Roy wasn't a kid. He deserved to be treated like an adult.
At the same time, Roy really did respect Ollie (sometimes) and while he'd never admit it, he missed the idiot. Living alone was awesome, with the freedom (not that Ollie really paid attention earlier to when Roy was in or out of the house, that was Dinah), the quiet (Ollie was really damn loud and he always had to come bug Roy about something or the other when he got bored), and the general space he had. But it was lonely. Roy wasn't one to claim he needed people, but somehow, after cutting himself from Ollie, he'd ended up cutting himself from everyone.
He wasn't in touch with many members of the League. Hal still talked to him, and occasionally the Green Lantern invited him to Coast for a mission. But Hal was still Ollie's friend, and Roy had limited his interaction with the man mostly because he didn't want Hal telling Ollie anything. His own friends still had mentors, and that bugged Roy earlier on, but now what bugged him was the fact that he had grown up beyond them. Don't get him wrong, Roy still loved Kid Flash and Robin dearly, and he enjoyed hanging out with them. They were good kids. But they were still kids. And they weren't going to really understand him for another few years. They thought he was crazy for wanting independence.
But Kaldur only understood so much. He respected the guy immensely for the fact that Kaldur got it. He didn't push Roy into coming back or becoming another Justice Friend. He understood why the bid for independence was so important. But Kaldur's situation was too different from Roy's for the guy to really get Roy's situation. Arthur was a King. He didn't smother Kaldur, he merely instructed him. He didn't smother Kal with protection and baby him. He just, gave orders that were to be followed. And when Kaldur was ready to be independent, the relationship would change only slightly. There would be no moving out of the palace, no arguments. It would be a reassignment. That's about all.
And while Kaldur and Roy respected each other, and Kaldur understood Roy's situation, Kaldur was way too busy to call up and ask him to hang out or patrol together. While it was immensely funny to try and introduce Kaldur to different liquors, or to have him watch his back, Kaldur's duties were split between Atlantis and Young Justice. He'd been given a leadership role. Kaldur was gaining his independence slowly but surely. Not abruptly and suddenly like Roy.
At this stage, Roy had no idea what he wanted. He wanted to be Ollie's equal. he wanted respect, and he wanted to be treated like an eighteen-year old man who had been fighting scum for the last four years of his life. He had grown up as a vigilante. Nothing was going to change that now. Roy wasn't going to move back in with Ollie, he wasn't going to be the good son, but he wanted that reassurance of Ollie having his back once in a while on patrol. He wanted to have someplace to go to when he was alone and needed someone to talk to. He wanted to be independent and dependent, and that angered him further.
It was so damn hard to figure out what he wanted when he had no clue where to get that balance. All he really knew was that while he was going through growing pains, Ollie had called and called and then stopped. The next thing he knew, the Team had a new replacement calling herself Ollie's niece, which was bullshit, and Ollie's new sidekick, which was apparently true.
That made him glance at Artemis. He really hated her for replacing him. He hated Ollie for making him replaceable. The only good thing was that she wasn't calling herself Speedy. He might never have let Ollie reach out to him. At the same time, she was like, five now. She was just a little wide-eyed kid who hadn't done anything wrong. And apparently Ollie and Dinah wanted him to get along with the brat. And apparently he was going along with it. For now.
With a sigh, Roy tried to focus on the movie as the kids flew off to the star. And then he groaned. Of all the movies to watch, why Peter Pan? Grumbling on the inside, he shoved a handful of popcorn into his mouth and glared at the screen. Two hours of Lost boys, and the lovey-dovey tale of growing up. And the main character had a stupid hat. Fucking irony.
The movie ended, and Artemis was amazed. As a kid, she'd only watched a few movies with Jade. They had gotten a brand new DVD of Alice in Wonderland when she was really little, with a poster one day with some money Jade had saved up when their mom was still around and not in jail. It had played every day without fail when their parents were on a heist. Jade had even bought her Peter the White Rabbit, because the movie was such a good one.
She hadn't seen many other movies. She remembered a few old James Bond and samurai movies her dad and mom liked, a few Vietnamese films, but nothing really stood out. Peter Pan was amazing! Artemis had already decided she liked Tinkerbell, because the fairy didn't give up and even though she didn't talk, she made lots of trouble. Jade would like Tinker Bell.
Artemis turned to Roy, only to find he had fallen asleep. She stared at the older boy. Artemis really didn't remember a Roy. Her memories were all jumbled up. She couldn't even remember her mom getting released from jail, but she was. It hurt to think too much, so Artemis didn't try and dwell on the matter.
But Roy had red hair. It was dark, not bright like Wally's. He was really tall, like taller than Dinah and Jade. Or at least, Jade in her memories. Artemis wasn't sure where Jade was. Her mother who wasn't in jail no more said Jade had gone with daddy. She didn't know where daddy was either. But Artemis worried that Jade and daddy were out there without her and mom.
"Psst, Roy?" asked Artemis, prodding the older man slightly.
He snorted, and pet her head in his sleep, before leaning onto the arm of his chair. Artemis frowned, but let it go. Instead, she yawned a little, and took the pillow from Roy's chair and set it below her head. A nap didn't sound too bad right now. Her head was starting to hurt anyways. Artemis laid down on the couch, once again marveling at the sheer size of it.
Ollie had really big comfy couches. It was brown leather. Leather was super expensive, or so Jade and mummy said. Daddy said they'd afford it after a mission, but it was more important to keep the armory stocked. Yawning a little, Artemis cuddled Peter the White Rabbit to her chest, and let her eyes droop shut.
"Alright, we set up all the toys, the rooms have locks, the kitchen is kid-proof, and I moved the arrows and bows three shelves up, are we done now?" whined Oliver Queen to his girlfriend.
He was exhausted! Every time he was sure he was done, Dinah would come up with some new insane chore that apparently made the house kid-safe. And she thought if he did it, it was helping the whole responsibility thing. Ollie was pretty sure she was still pissed off about the way he'd handled the situation with Roy. Which, admittedly, wasn't his best move to date.
"I guess we are," said Dinah, sounding amazed, "I can't believe it only took five hours."
"Finally," said Ollie, sounding relieved as he grinned to Dinah, "Let's grab a bite to eat, pretty bird."
Dinah smiled, and sighed as she followed Ollie out of the house and into the kitchen. Within a few minutes, Ollie was gorging himself on a sandwich filled with sliced meats and hot sauce. Dinah opted for a bit of fruit as she eyed Ollie closely.
"I wonder if Roy and Artemis are still watching movies," murmured Dinah, glancing in the direction of the home theatre.
Ollie swallowed, and cocked an eyebrow, "Want me to check on them?"
"We can both check on them," offered Dinah.
Ollie finished the rest of the sandwich and the two headed over to the home theatre. They were met with the sight of Roy sleeping on the recliner chair, and Artemis cuddled into the couch. It was incredibly sweet, like toothache sweet. Ollie could practically feel Dinah's happiness and the cuddly mama bird vibes she was giving off.
"Should we wake them?" asked Ollie quietly.
"Let them sleep," suggested Dinah, "They're probably exhausted. I wonder how many hours of sleep Roy's getting on his own."
Ollie winced, and glanced over at Roy again. He saw the dark shadows under the kid's eyes, they were practically unmissable. As Dinah moved to grab blankets, Ollie scrutinized Roy and Artemis. It felt oddly strange to have both kids in his house. Artemis was a good girl, and Ollie liked her. Maybe even enough to actually treat her like a niece. But Roy, Roy was like his own flesh and blood. Even if he was a screw-up where parental stuff was concerned. And he'd missed the kid's presence. Maybe Artemis being deaged was an opportunity. And he'd damn well fix that relationship, one way or another. It was either that, or deal with Dinah's anger at screwing up, again. And Ollie wasn't going to ruin things this time.
When Roy woke up, he was surprised to find himself wrapped up in a warm blue blanket back in Ollie's house. He was even more surprised to see the little blond kid, sitting on her haunches and watching him curiously. Roy stared back at her, a little bit of a glare pouring into his eyes. But the kid wasn't fazed. Instead, she brightly decided to say, "Ollie gave me your old hat."
"What?" asked Roy, incredibly confused as he tried to gather his bearings.
"Dinah said dinner would be in an hour, and I was bored. I woke up an hour ago," explained the kid, except not really. Artemis. Right. That brought back some memories. But that still didn't explain the comment about the hat.
"Okay," said Roy, as he remembered why he was here, "So, why my hat?"
"I want to play Peter Pan," she said flippantly, as though that was the obvious reason for wanting his hat. "But I want to be Tinker Bell. Ollie was called in for a super-important League meeting. Dinah had to go too. So Ollie left the hat and said you'd play with me. So I came to wake you up, but you were sleeping."
"A League meeting? About what?" asked Roy sharply, a little angry that Ollie had just pawned off his responsibility of Artemis onto him. But Dinah had gone too, so it must have been important. He was still going to yell at the older man when he got back.
"Don't know," said Artemis, pouting a bit, "Ollie said it had to with me but then Dinah told him to shut up and hurry."
"Okay," said Roy, nodding. He glanced at the clock. It was only seven-ish. He had slept a good three hours, and he wasn't going to patrol until midnight. And now he was stuck with a kid until Ollie got back from the Watch Tower.
"Can we play now?" asked Artemis, tugging on his sleeve.
"Er, I guess," said Roy, sighing as he got up and stretched.
Artemis beamed. Her face practically lit up like the Fourth of July, and Roy felt warm and fuzzy and at the same time, disgust. But that last bit was mostly because Artemis was holding out his obnoxious yellow Speedy hat. He stared at it, and then at Artemis. Did she want to play Green Arrow? Because he sure as hell wasn't going to play as Speedy and let her be Green Arrow.
"What?" asked Roy, pointing to the hat.
"You're Peter Pan!" said Artemis, well, more like ordered. God she was bossy. "I'm going to be Tinker Bell, cause I'm already wearing green and I'm blonde, see? Ollie gave me some magic fairy dust too."
She pulled out a bag filled with foundation. Or more specifically, the foundation they used to hide bruises. Artemis had scrunched it all up and made it into 'fairy dust', and apparently Ollie had given her the idea. Roy really pitied the cleaning lady who had to get it in the morning. But he shoved the pity aside, and instead channeled it internally. He was the one who had to be Peter Pan.
"Okay," said Roy, because what else could he really say to that.
"And we're going to go to Neverland and fly and fight Captain Hook. But I don't really have a Captain Hook," said Artemis, sounding a bit put out, "But that's okay, because we can fly and pretend to go find Captain Hook to beat him up."
Roy struggled to remember if that was how the story went, but Artemis seemed content with the idea of beating up Captain Hook, and Roy really didn't care. Instead, he sleepily followed Artemis to the training room. Two training dummies were set up, and Artemis was babbling on as Tinker Bell. Roy blinked twice, trying to figure out what she was saying. All he got were various weird tinkly sounds, and then foundation powder on his shirt. Oh yeah, he was going to kill Ollie. Artemis stared at him expectantly, and Roy sighed.
He may not like Artemis, and he sure as hell wasn't great with kids, but he was trying. Damn Dinah and her ability to make him do stupid things. He put the hat on, and lazily said, "Let's get Captain Hook. Oh look, there he is, come on."
Artemis beamed again. He followed the kid slowly as she began to punch a training dummy. Roy actually grinned this time around. He could definitely play this game. He began kicking his own punching bag, as Artemis babbled, doing high kicks and punches. Aside from the stupid hat, and the occasional fly away comments ("Hook's behind you, duck!", "Great job Tinker Bell," and his personal favorite, "Die you stupid pirates,") he was pretty much just training as he kicked high and low, and brought a few punches. He was so acing this babysitter thing.