A/N: Spoilers: Roy is coming back. *squee!* I give you this three-parter based on my take of it XD
Hope everyone enjoys! And be sure to tell me what you thought of it in a REVIEW! ^-^
Roy's Vindication: Chapter 1
Rene wasn't paying much attention to his surroundings when he came back into his apartment on Thursday night. He'd stepped out to take a call from Curtis and didn't want Zoey to overhear—even though she was probably asleep by now. He hoped.
He'd ended up talking to Curtis for, like, forty minutes. The guy didn't know when, or how, to shut up—and as much as he would never admit it, being off the team made Rene almost miss his teammate's constant chatter.
Curtis had kindly refrained from mentioning the upcoming trial. Rene still didn't know what he was going to do. Sure, it made him uneasy to testify against Oliver—but it also made him uneasy to lie to an FBI agent and undoubtedly lose his daughter because of it.
'Uneasy' probably wasn't the best word for it, he amended, closing and locking the front door firmly behind him.
As he flipped the light switch, an unexplainable feeling made the hair on the back of his neck stand straight up. He froze, feeling for the pistol in the back of his jeans before whirling around to face the stranger.
"Don't shoot!" a man sitting on the edge of his couch threw a hand up in defense.
"Why the hell not?!" Rene spat out, removing the safety as his mind whirled with the details of the situation. He fought the instinct to glance toward Zoey's bedroom door. If that man moved one step closer… "You break into my house, with all the doors and windows locked tight—I was out there for five minutes!"
"Little longer than five minutes," the man on the couch remarked with a trace of humor in his voice.
That set Rene even more on edge. If his unwanted guest wasn't at all flustered with a pistol trained on his heart, then who knew what the guy was capable of. He fumbled with his phone in his pocket, meaning to call the team's emergency number. Even if he wasn't part of them anymore, he knew not even Oliver would stand down if Zoey was in danger.
"Wait, don't call Oliver!" the man interjected, seeing what he was doing.
"Why on Earth would I call the mayor at a time like this? I'm calling the cops, Hoss," Rene lied through clenched teeth.
"Really?" the man calmly arched an eyebrow. "I thought you were going to testify about the Green Arrow. Sure that's not who you're about to call?"
"I'm not telling you anything," Rene snapped, putting the phone to his ear. "And if you're one of the good guys, why'd you sneak in here instead of just talking to me outside, huh?"
"Maybe I'm a good guy who'd rather stay under the radar. Say, like Wild Dog?"
Rene froze before dialing the emergency number.
"That is you, right?" the man questioned him easily. He shifted on the couch, grasping his wrist in one hand. Rene's brows furrowed when he saw the man's other hand was entirely missing, a strip of cloth neatly wrapped around the stump. "I mean, I couldn't Dinah or Curtis picking that name, so I made kind of a leap."
Rene just stared. He couldn't imagine how someone he'd never laid eyes on could know so much about them—unless he was FBI, and he doubted federal agents made a habit of wearing flannel and mud-spattered jeans. Unless—and it was unthinkable, but Mr. Queen had certainly done the unthinkable before—"Did Oliver tell you all this?"
The man stared at him for a long moment, his expression thoughtful as though he were trying to determine why Rene would ask a question like that. "No," he replied softly, after a pause.
Rene struggled to hide his frustration. "What do you want, man?"
"Hey, I'm not here to hurt you or your daughter. But if you're going to call anyone, call Thea. Not Oliver."
Rene tensed, realizing what he was saying. Not only did he know Oliver's identity, he also knew about Zoey and he knew Thea. His finger hovered over the 'call' button. "Thirty seconds to explain who you are," he nodded curtly. "And don't move a muscle. I call 'em back if you don't do the first. I shoot if you don't do the second."
"Fair enough. I'm like you," the man started, leaning forward a little. "I heard about the Arrow a couple years back and I wanted to do something. Oliver didn't want to train me so I went out on the streets myself. Eventually, though, I started getting into so much trouble he didn't have a choice but to take me on."
"Wait." Rene didn't lower the gun yet, but he did lower the phone. "You're the guy he shot?"
The man raised an eyebrow. "Is that really all he says about me?"
"Show me where he shot you."
"Can't," the man shrugged. "Mira-kuru healed it right up."
"Didn't seem to heal that," he nodded toward his guest's missing hand.
A smile crossed the man's face. "They didn't tell you very much at all, did they?"
"I'm sorry," Rene bit out with as much sarcasm as he could muster, "What was your name again?"
Right. Okay. Suddenly this all made sense.
"Damn," Rene shook his head, finally lowering his weapon. "And here I assumed you were dead."
"Roy!" Thea burst in through Rene's door, not even bothering to say 'hello' as she ran right to the couch and flung herself in the guy's arms.
"Not exactly how I hoped your first visit to my apartment would go," Rene muttered to himself, watching the two of them with eyebrows raised.
And here he thought he'd been making some progress. Guess not.
He shut the door and left the two of them as he went to check on Zoey. There was no way she'd actually slept through all that—not after the things that had happened to her before.
"Hey, sunshine," he whispered, stepping through the door and closing it behind him.
"What's going on out there, Dad?" she whimpered, sitting on the floor next to her bed with her blanket covering her head and shoulders.
He held out his arms, and she jumped up and ran to him. "There's a strange man that came to visit, but I'm pretty sure he's just somebody from work, okay?" He kissed the top of her head and stroked her hair.
"Can you stay here with me?" she begged him pleadingly.
He didn't want to say no, but he knew he had no choice. "I don't think I can, sweetheart," he apologized. "I'm sorry. I'll come back in when I can, alright? You've got to try to sleep. Still got school tomorrow."
"I can't believe you're here," Thea's hands were trembling as she ran them along the sides of Roy's unshaven face, stroking his hair and looking him up and down to reassure herself he was really in front of her. "I thought I'd never see you again."
She caught sight of the cloth around his wrist and stared in shock, tenderly taking it in hand.
"The only thing keeping me away is knowing how hard it'll be to leave again," Roy swallowed hard, smiling as he took in the sight of her again.
Tears were shining in both of her eyes, and she let go of the stump of his missing hand. "You gave up everything to clear Oliver's name and now he's back in court again. Don't tell me that's the reason you're here." she frowned deeply.
He hugged her tightly, inhaling deeply as he hid his face for a moment in her neck. "You know I have to," he whispered.
When they finally pulled away, she stared at him in shock. "You know Oliver will never let you sacrifice yourself for him twice," Thea insisted. "I—I can't, let you do that, Roy! Once you reveal that you faked your own death, they'll double or triple your security. Or worse!" The voice of a lawyer proposing capital punishment for her mother still rung like a gong in her head. "Diggle and Felicity barely managed to get you out last time!"
"Oliver broke Diggle out of a military prison," Roy insisted in hushed tones. "Felicity told me about it afterward. Thea, I really think we can pull this off!"
"He did WHAT now?" Rene exclaimed, emerging from his daughter's bedroom. "Please tell me there's something—anything—Oliver cannot do? So I can feel better about myself?"
"Use a computer," Roy answered, right as Thea piped up with, "Trust more than three people."
"Well, I coulda told you both of those things," he huffed, heading toward the kitchen. "Water? Beer? Grapefruit juice? And for the record, if you two were thinking about having sex on my couch, that is NOT okay."
"Would a quiet conversation be too much amiss?" Thea smiled teasingly.
"Hey, shorty, he DID come to my house, not yours," Rene sassed in reply, still a little miffed that the 'him' she'd talked about before had chosen HIS house specifically to make his grand entrance into Star City.
"You're the one who's planning to turn Oliver in!" she exclaimed.
"I feel like you were a lot nicer to me before HE showed up," Rene grabbed a few water bottles and deposited them on the coffee table, nodding toward Roy.
"Not THAT much nicer," she corrected firmly, leaning her head on the shoulder of the man beside her.
Rene stopped and looked at the two of them. Roy must've been gone the entire time he'd been training with Oliver; maybe longer. He tried to remember when he'd heard about the trial in the news. That was years ago. Thea had been in a coma for months and still the couple had been separated.
He wasn't the kind to care what other people thought of him. Still, though, seeing what they had sacrificed wakened a sick sense of guilt inside him.
On top of what he'd already been dealing with.
"Look," he sat on the coffee table in front of them, "I'm sorry I said I'd give up Oliver to the FBI. I know you two put gave up a lot to save him last time, and I don't mean to destroy all that. But—" he turned to Roy. "I JUST got my daughter back, man! I've worked so hard for that, too. She's the one thing I could never give up. Not for anyone."
"Well," he answered slowly, rubbing Thea's hand with his thumb as he seemed to ponder his answer, "I guess it's a good thing I'm not asking you to."
The night before…
The sound of her phone case sliding off the edge of her bathroom counter put Agent Samandra Watson's every sense on high alert.
She internally swore, clutching her bath towel more closely to her chest and turning to face the intruder she knew would be here.
A masked figure stood before her, phone in hand, his costume just the same as it was in a hundred photos she'd spent months examining for every minute detail.
There was nothing out of place. There was no way to tell if the man before her was the true Green Arrow—or an imposter.
She, frankly, didn't care. She would deal with him as she had before during his—uncalled-for—visits.
"I have this room bugged and guards waiting outside," she thrust her chin outward with confidence. "You're not changing up your tactics. All I have to do is scream."
The gloved hand turned over, dropping from his fisted hand several small electronics, which looked as though they'd been crushed by a boot. "Your guards are unconscious," the Green Arrow informed her coolly. "Scream all you want."
"You're not going to frighten me, Mr. Queen," she straightened to her full height. "And if you're a decoy, you can tell Oliver Queen, from me, that personal manipulation of his prosecutor is hardly going to help his case right now."
"Oliver Queen is not the Green Arrow," the man across from her growled through his vocal scrambler. "He's a good man, a little softhearted, and has no earthly idea how to keep himself out of trouble. I have a tech assistant—" here he paused briefly, "—had a tech assistant—who got a little over-enthusiastic helping me protect my identity. That's who framed Oliver Queen. That's where all these rumors got their start. And as rumors do, they grew and have continued to pop up everywhere I go."
"This 'tech assistant' of yours sounds an awful lot like Felicity Smoak to me," Watson replied, unimpressed.
"Felicity Smoak has a background in technology, but she's hardly a parallel of my former assistant. If I had someone that smart to handle my operations, I wouldn't be here, trying to clear Oliver Queen's name yet again."
Agent Watson turned her head slightly, pursing her lips. "How is feeding me truckloads of presumably false information supposed to change my mind on the subject?"
"I'm helping you," the voice grew lower. "You've left me no choice but to help you. Tell me, because I really don't get this at all—out of all the criminals, lowlifes, and even other vigilantes you could be spending your career trying to put behind bars, why go after someone who's actually trying to help? I know I'm not perfect. I've done things I'm not proud of. But why risk the safety of this entire city by trying to put either the only man stupidly brave enough to be its Mayor or someone like myself, who is on the streets every night, saving lives where I can, just for the satisfaction of knowing you cracked a case nobody else could?"
She stared at him in mock surprise. "You think I'm doing this because it's hard? Because I love accomplishing something nobody else could? You're wrong there, Sir. I'm doing this because, unlike you, I don't just think about the here and now when it comes to the safety of this country. Vigilantism has already spread to many others, far more dangerous than yourself, and is occurring all across the nation in almost every major city. Everyone wants to be a hero and they want to do it their way, no matter what the consequences. Whether or not you are the more problematic criminal is not the issue, Mr. Queen," she smiled humorlessly, shaking her head. "YOU were the one who started this whole movement. I aim to stop it before it spreads any further. You're an intelligent man, and I honestly believe you want what's best for the city—at least, in your mind. But you would do well to reconsider the consequences of your actions, and submit to the authority of those who have a far bigger picture in mind than you do."
"Look," the vigilante shifted his weight, extending a hand. "I understand you're not going to change your mind. I won't visit you anymore after this. But let me get this straight before I leave: all that matters to you is that you have the real Green Arrow, so vigilantes are off the streets for good?"
"I'd feel better if I had both him and whoever-you-are behind his costume locked up in the same cell," she replied.
"I can't let that happen," was the immediate reply. "Oliver Queen is like family to me. He didn't ask to be part of this. He didn't know I was the Arrow until I gave myself up last time. And this time, he doesn't even know I'm still alive."
The figure in green first lifted his hands to his hood, pushing back the leather, then moved to his mask, carefully peeling it away to reveal a face Agent Watson had come across dozens of times during her research. "Roy Harper." A small, almost impressed-looking grin slid its way onto her face. "Mr. Queen certainly does look out for his friends. Were the accommodations at Iron Heights not good enough for you?"
"Oh, I'm not giving myself up." Roy shook his head, a dark frown on his unshaven face. "You want the real me? You're going to have to do three things." He counted on his fingers in front of her. "You release Oliver Queen, you clear him and any surrounding suspects of all charges, and you issue a formal apology to him, his friends, his cabinet, and his family. If you do all those things, I will turn myself in to you just like I did last time."
"Why should I believe a criminal like you?" Agent Watson shook her head, smirking at such a ludicrous offer.
"Well, first, I'll give you a freebie, and then I'll explain why." Harper almost winced, pulling from his jacket a file, which he offered to her, and when she made no move to accept, placed on her countertop. "This is all I have on my former associate—my tech guy," he explained. "His name is Cayden James. I helped to break him out of an ARGUS prison last year. That was a huge mistake. He's back in Star City now, making every effort he can to destroy the city from the inside out. I've been working to stop him, but if you really have no need for vigilantes, I'd be thrilled if you put some of your own efforts into putting him back behind bars."
Roy could almost see the gears in Agent Watson's head ticking, as she struggled to keep up with the sudden influx of information.
ARGUS?! I barely know anything about ARGUS—how did a vigilante find out information like that, let alone break someone out of their prisons?!
She quickly regained her composure, however, and moved the conversation forward. "And what was your reasoning again? As to why I should believe that AFTER I've let every one of my prime suspects go, along with taking pains to ensure I can't come after them again, you'll waltz into my office and give up the hood?"
"You can't," Harper replied bluntly. "But whether you believe me or not, you can be sure you'll accomplish nothing by imprisoning Oliver Queen. Because no matter what happens to him, I'll still be out there on the streets, doing the same thing I've always done. If you truly care about putting vigilantes behind bars, my offer is the best you're going to get."
As she was thinking about it, Roy pulled out her phone, stuck a microchip into it that, ironically, Noah Kuttler had made for him (since he knew Roy's identity, the two had undergone a few additional spats where Noah tried to blackmail him and Roy tried to evade him. Eventually they had become tentative allies), and nodded in satisfaction as it immediately unlocked her heavy-duty security. "Ironically, Cayden James is trying to take down the Internet and the guy who made me this tried to do the same thing once. But you didn't hear about that," He gave Agent Watson a significant look, "because I stopped him." He pulled up the camera, made a show of straightening his hair, and took a dazzling selfie before grabbing his chip and tossing it back to her.
Watson caught it, an impressive feat since she was still holding up her bath towel with one hand.
"So you get two freebies," Roy shrugged, pulling on his mask and hood and heading out the door.
Agent Watson stood gaping at him as he waltzed away like nothing had happened.