As Connor’s eyes slowly opened, the first thing in his line of vision was a figure clad in a lightweight red uniform. Roy had pulled up an office chair and was waiting for the young impersonator to wake up, and stood up when he noticed Connor’s stirring. The former sidekick turned his back to fresh blood, his gaze redirected toward the huge screens mounted to the wall above a large console. Each monitor had a different file Roy could pull up on Connor: newspaper articles, blog posts, pictures, police reports… everything except a birth certificate. ”You’re not him. Who are you?”
At first, Connor thought maybe he might be dead. After all, there was a bunch of information on his life up on display, he’d been pretty sure he was going to die earlier, and an intimidating guy in red was asking him existential questions. A little Christian for his tastes but who knew…
But no, he definitely hurt too much to be dead, which meant that the red guy was-”Oh! Awesome, you’re Speedy! I mean uh, you were, right? I’m Connor, Connor Hawke! Thanks for rescuing me from that weird Dark Archer! This is actually a huge honor for me! See um, how do I explain any of this…”
Just going ‘I’ve wanted to be you since I was six’ seemed inadequate.
Roy raised a hand momentarily to command silence, turning his head to reveal that he wasn’t wearing any sort of mask. ”First of all, I’m not Speedy. Second of all, Connor… why are you are wearing that dumb outfit? Are you just some kind of super fan?”
Roy’s arms remained folded, and his expression had an air of dismissiveness and the vague undertones of a disappointed father.
Connor’s spirits sank, but just a little. He was still face-to-face with not only a childhood icon but finally, really getting a chance to explain himself to one of the people he’d been hoping to meet this entire time.”I mean no, huge fan but not like that. See...okay so apparently a long time ago...no that’s not right...so I guess...well...I’m Oliver Queen’s son! Like, biologically. I came to Star City to finally talk to him but when I got here I found out he’d vanished and...the city was kind of in a panic without a hero around and I grew up in a sort of...well, warrior monk situation so I decided I’d try and help. Please, I didn’t mean to disrespect anything or do anything stupid. Just...people seemed really desperate and I didn’t want to do nothing.”
He hung his head, waiting for the rebuke that seemed inevitable given Roy’s tone.
Roy’s face remained consistent as he gave Connor his full attention, though he had to do his best to internalize the sigh he naturally wanted to give. He knew more than anyone what Connor was thinking, and more than anyone else what it would cost. ”Alright, assuming I buy the whole warrior monk thing… it doesn’t matter. You can’t solve all the issues out here. Sure, you took down one bad guy. Another is gonna take his place. And then another after that. And another. And one of them is going to kill you eventually. My best advice is that you stop now. While you were knocked out, I decided to do a blood test. You sure do have half his DNA, and you have every right to stay here. Hell, I can set you up with a college fund and you can go off and be a doctor or some shit. You would never have to worry about getting beaten or broken because you would have every damn luxury a boy could ask for.”
Roy opened his mouth to continue, but no words came out for a moment. His eyes were trained on Connor intently, and a look of realization washed over his face. Roy knew Connor more than he thought he could.. ”But you’re not going to give up the hood, are you?”
Roy’s approach was actually nicer than Connor assumed it would be- even if he winced at the word ‘bastard’- but it still lead to the same place Connor knew it would eventually, and his expression hardened the more Roy spoke. It was a nice offer, doubly so since he needed to leave the monasteries eventually but... ”No. I’m not.”
Now Connor had to stand up, even though it left him woozy and needing some serious mind-over-matter to work through the pain. ”I appreciate what you’re trying to do, really, and maybe I didn’t know what I was getting into at first, even a couple weeks ago.”
He struggled to continue for a second, memories flooding back, but pushed forward ”But...look, I’m pretty sure you’ve seen the video even though I don’t know how much of it got edited out. You know, that one where I ‘took down the bad guy’ that went viral? But see, I’d already spent hours strapped to a chair while being battered and fried like a...I dunno, I can’t eat fast food. The point is...somewhere between what I’m guessing was the first and second hour of torture, I decided that even if this was a game or something at first, that I’d never be able to just sit around while anything that bad happened to somebody else again.”
Connor took a deep breath, letting the memories of torture and the intensity of confronting one of his heroes fade, trying to stop the shakes that had suddenly started. ”So you’re right, I can’t solve all the issues, and eventually someone’s gonna take me down. But until that happens, I’m gonna solve every issue I can manage. With or without your approval.”
Roy ground his teeth together as Connor stood before him defiantly. Before he could explode in anger, the former sidekick turned around and walked back to the terminal setup near the monitors. He didn’t say a word, but the furious sound of his fingers tapping the keys and clicking the mouse were a clear enough sign that he was angry. In a matter of seconds, all of the files on Connor had disappeared and all the monitors showed a single prompt: INITIATE GOOD FRIDAY PROTOCOL.
Roy hit enter, and a monotone voice filled the small section of cave the two were standing in. ”Voice Authorization Required”
Roy sighed, before confidently declaring, ”Speedy.”
A small buffering icon showed for a moment, and then all the monitors went black.
The monitors all then showed the same image: Oliver Queen, leaning against the same terminal Roy was standing over. He was wearing the outfit of the Green Arrow, but he wasn’t wearing a hood, hat, or mask. Ollie stared at the ground for a moment before turning his gaze up towards the camera. ”Well… I… I must admit, this is a first. If you’re watching this, then you know I’m not the type of guy who’s usually speechless.”
Oliver gave a small chuckle to himself, one that almost made Roy join him. The Green Arrow quickly cleared his throat before his expression turned serious and he continued on. ”Well… to put it simply, if you’re watching this, then it means I’m… well, gone. I’m either missing, or dead, or I got drunk and lost my keys again halfway around the world. Regardless of what happened to me… it means that I’m not around to protect this city.”
Oliver shifted uncomfortably for a moment, taking a deep breath before continuing. ”As I take a moment to reflect… whoever it is that ends up watching this… you’re someone I must have hurt. Someone I abandoned when they needed me most. I… I’m not…”
Roy’s expression softened slightly as he watched the man who had been his legal father for years start to choke up a little, before recomposing himself. ”I made a lot of mistakes. But putting on this costume wasn’t one of them. This city needs a hero… this whole flippin’ world needs heroes. And I know I don’t have the right to ask this… but if you’re watching this, then this city needs you to pick up my legacy. And I know that you can do it.”
Oliver shuffled a little on screen and began to stand before the monitors cut to black again. After a few seconds, they came back online and all but one continued to display the information on Connor.
The one exception was the center, bottom screen just above the terminal. It was simply a folder with a file inside of it. Roy pulled a flash drive from his belt and plugged it into the terminal, quickly copying over the file. He turned back towards Connor with a surprisingly stoic expression. ”Well… you heard what he said.”
In contrast to Roy’s stoicism, Connor was openly crying. He hadn’t spoken up once through the video will, but It was the first time he’d ever seen his father outside of video for the news or photos in the paper or online, and the message hit hard
. Even if it was indirect, it was the apology he’d never gotten and permission, even approval for everything he’d done all rolled into one.
He’d gladly have suffered a thousand more hours of Brick’s torture and Dark Archer beatings if he’d known this would be the result.
He ducked his face, then grinned at Roy once he was back under control, obviously embarrassed at the lapse. ”Well...thanks. So, does this make us brothers? Also uh, where do we go from here? ”
Roy’s expression hardened further, his teeth clenching slightly. ”We’re not brothers. He was never a father and barely a mentor.”
He yanked the USB drive from the terminal and pocketed it, quickly tapping at the keys for a moment to reset the terminal. He turned around to face Connor, trying to remain professional. ”As for what happens next, Stanley can give you the proper tour of the place when you’ve rested a bit more. In the meantime…”
Harper walked over next to the console, towards what appeared to be a blank metal wall with a single touchscreen security panel. Roy placed his palm on the scanner, and a section of the wall suddenly slid open to reveal a simple reinforced outfit resembling Green Arrow’s. ”Oliver always wanted me to follow in his footsteps, but I think I’m going to take my own path. The suit and the name… they’re yours now.”
Ordinarily Connor would’ve felt crushed by Roy’s rejection, but the hugeness of the situation and his sheer excitement and gratitude overwhelmed all of that quick enough. ”I...I don’t know what to say. Thank you, Roy. I’m sure it’s weird considering I just got pincushioned and beaten unconscious earlier, but this is the best day of my life! I promise, I’ll always do my best to honor your trust!”
He paused, reflecting on Roy’s general attitude ”Or at least your grudging acceptance, it still means a lot...also we have a butler?”
Roy gave a sideways look, his teeth grinding a bit harder at the last statement. ”Stanley is going to be the one keeping an eye on you. He knows you’re Ollie’s spawn, and has agreed to educate you and clean you up when you get bruised and bloody.”
The scarlet archer turned around and placed a hand on Connor’s shoulder, trying to lead him back to the couch. ”He’s the one who bandaged and stitched you up, and I imagine he’ll be doing that a lot from here on out. If you really are going to follow in our footsteps, you’re going to have to get used to getting knocked down. It comes with the job. But, before you can go out to get your ass kicked again, you need to lie down and relax. I can watch over the city for tonight.”
Connor was honestly too weakened to resist Roy’s attempt to steer him back over and sit him down. Besides, for all of Roy’s protests, the gesture and reassurances both still felt oddly familial to the younger archer. ”Well...fine. I heal fast though, so just for tonight!
He flopped back on the couch and tried to seem unconcerned even as a chorus of bruises made him wince.
Roy gave a slight nod as he turned around to leave behind the new Arrow, rounding the corner out of the room and noticing Stanley waiting for him. The old butler gave his former charge a smug smile, before speaking just loud enough for Roy to hear. ”If I didn’t know any better, that sounded an awful lot like the mature thing to say to the boy.””This was a one time thing, Stanley. Besides, I needed to come back and grab some of my old stuff.”
Stanley’s wry smile grew. ”I always knew you’d start working again, Speedy.”
Roy sighed, rolling his eyes a little. ”I’m not Speedy anymore, and this is a one time thing. SHIELD is calling in a favor because I needed one from them. Once that’s over, I’m done again. Then I can go squander my money like Ollie would have.”
The young vigilante tried to walk past Stanley, who simply grabbed on to his arm to hold him back a moment. ”Are you sure we shouldn’t tell him about the ‘Dark Archer’ fellow?”
Roy pulled his arm gently out of Stanley’s grip, before giving him a swift hug. ”The kid idolizes Oliver. He doesn’t need the truth yet. We can figure out what to do when I get back from DC..”
He pulled himself out of the embrace, giving his real
father figure a gentle squeeze on the shoulder before walking farther down the neat cave complex.
Stanley gave Roy a concerned look. ”I know it’s been a while, sir, but you do know that the elevator to the estate is the other way, don’t you?””I’m borrowing the jet, Stanley. Can’t let that thing rust while Oliver is gone.”