Last chapter! I apologize it's been so long, Y'all. I hope you enjoy the finale. Thank you as always for your awesome readership! ~Marina

Roy's Vindication: Chapter 3

Two days earlier, at Rene's apartment…

"I know you don't want to lose your daughter," Roy told Rene. The way he was keeping a tight hold around Thea's shoulders told him Oliver's former protégé knew exactly what that feeling was like. "But Watson has blown your cover already. You can either live under her thumb, doing whatever she asks whenever she asks it, or you can fight back, and help us fight for Oliver at the same time."

"Us?" Thea raised an interested brow.

Roy turned to her with a half-smile. "You have to keep Oliver from freaking out on us once he finds out I'm back."

She gave him a skeptical look. "That depends on just how freaked out you're planning to get him."

Roy got a funny smirk on his face. "I've been paying Agent Watson a few visits," he explained. Thea and Rene looked at him like he must be crazy. "And, I got Cisco to help me with another suit that looked just like Oliver's. I've been trying to convince her that Oliver isn't the Green Arrow, but she doesn't care. She'd just as soon have both of us behind bars. Which works in our favor, because why would the public care about arresting two Green Arrows?"

He turned to Rene again.

"If you can convince the jury you were coerced into being a witness, Watson becomes the new bad guy."

"But so do you," Thea spoke up, a hard edge to her tone.

Roy faced her guiltily. "I'm going to make sure she doesn't catch me."

"But she will know you are alive," she insisted. "The only thing keeping you safe right now is that everyone thinks you're dead! And Noah Kuttler still found you even then."

"She's going to need my help to catch Cayden James. And when Oliver resumes being the Green Arrow, I can skip town safely because everyone will think I'm him."

"How can you do this?" Rene interrupted, a deep frown on his face. "You're seriously giving up your whole life? We're not gonna try to find another way?"

"This is the safest way there is," Roy shrugged.

"Thea? You love him, don't you? You guys can't seriously be okay with this?"

Thea didn't meet his gaze, remaining still where she'd laid her head against Roy's shoulder.

Guilt filled Rene's chest as he considered what they were giving up. He had never sworn loyalty to Oliver Queen; heck, he'd been adamant about refusing to join him from the start. But he had sworn his own oath to protect the city. And if he could no longer do it and keep his daughter at the same time, Oliver HAD to be freed.

It was a risk. But not taking it would mean an end to everything holding the city together by the strings.

He faced the couple across from him and met their waiting eyes with determined ones of his own.

"I'll do it."

Samandra Watson was indicted for withholding evidence from the case against Roy Harper; namely, the sparkling selfie he'd graciously taken with her phone. She and her legal team scrambled for every reason they could think of to keep Oliver in custody, but in the end, his team one by one disproved her accusations and he was released to go home.

Half the city now convinced he was their leather-clad hero, his office ratings went up like never before.

A few days later, Roy made one last appearance as he videoed himself hand-delivering Cayden James to SCPD's doorstep, but when officers arrived to make the arrest official, he had long since fled the scene.

The team took some much-needed rest in the basement of the Green Arrow lair, even with the absence of Rene, Curtis, and Dinah.

Those three would be missed, but Oliver was reluctantly coming to accept that they had never asked for a mentor. They had their own ideas on how to make Star City safer…and even if the lack of communication between the two groups caused some safety concerns, Felicity convinced him they'd be more likely to pull together in a real emergency if he let them alone for now.

This team; the one gathered in the basement together now, were frankly the only ones who would always be more than teammates.

Roy, Thea, John, and Felicity. They were his family, more than his friends. He didn't need any more than that right now.

But that made it even harder to admit what none of them cared to mention for as long as possible.

They couldn't stay this way.

Thea pulled her lover away from the rest of the group as their social banter began to die down, settling herself on his lap in a secluded corner of the lair.

They sat there for a while, drinking in the presence of the other, wrapped up in each other's arms.

Idly, she stroked his hair with her manicured fingernails as she broke the silence at last. "The last couple of times you've left, I didn't come with you because there was so much going on here—I was trying to figure out who I was, and then I was dying, and—"

Roy met her gaze with such a tentative amount of hope it broke her heart. He'd already resigned himself to the fact that he'd be leaving again this time, without her. As such his love for her had always been.

She summoned all her courage to continue. "This time, ever since I woke up and started thinking about you more, I can't stop thinking that we were meant to be together, whatever that meant our lives would look like or where we would go." She swallowed a heavy lump in her throat. "Do you ever feel the same way?"

"I could never pressure you into something that would ruin your life here, Thea. You know I only want what's best for you." His grip around her waist tightened sharply, however, giving away his true feelings as he almost unconsciously pressed his forehead close to hers.

"All I know is that if you leave again, I don't want you to go without me," she breathed against his cheek. "I know exactly what I'd be giving up to be with you. My brother, my hometown, my friends that are here, the freedom to go wherever I want and throw around my name to get my way with things. I know running and hiding is not glamorous. I hate that you have to live like this. But I'd rather live it with you than any other kind of life without you."

Thea reached forward and took his hands, trying to read the emotions in his eyes.

"Please tell me you won't leave me here again?"

His blue eyes gazed up into hers, wide and serious. "I won't," he promised.

She laid her head on his shoulder and they held each other like that for a long time.

"Goodbye, William." Thea's chin wobbled as she pressed a talisman into his hand. "Keep this safe for me. It's a symbol of reconnecting. I'll see you again."

William struggled to keep up a brave face as he embraced her tightly. "Goodbye, Aunt Thea."

"Thanks for being the greatest nephew ever," she smiled tearfully. "I love you, buddy."

She turned to Roy, having already said her goodbyes to the others. As they walked hand in hand toward the car, Thea's steps seemed to freeze, and she turned and ran back into her brother's arms.

A stream of tears she wasn't expecting at all broke loose. "I'm sorry," she sobbed. "I just hate to lose you again, after I've lost you so many times!"

Oliver held her tightly, as Roy stood and waited, she knew, desperately hoping she wasn't about to change her mind and stay.

"Why is life like this?" she stuttered, hating that she was doing this in front of Roy. Her brother would understand it wasn't anyone's fault…hopefully Roy would too. "Why do I have to choose between you and him? Why can't we just all be together?"

It had been a long time since she'd just fallen apart in front of him, like a little girl again. So long since she'd allowed herself to just be the baby sister.

"I don't know, and it's not fair at all, Thea," he murmured comfortingly in her ear. "You shouldn't have to choose. But it's not between me and him, you know? This is about what's right for you. Roy and I…we both want only what's best for you. That's what you need to decide."

She let herself down from his neck and wiped her eyes, sniffling. Felicity handed her a tissue, which she gratefully accepted. "I've spent my whole life in Star City," she acknowledged. "Well, except for Corto Maltese, but you know how that went." Sniffling, she continued. "I've been playing it safe, letting my wings grow out. I think it's time to go see what I can be now that I've grown them all the way."

It was only then that tears unexpectedly spilled from Oliver's eyes. "That's my baby sis," he nodded, hugging her tightly against his chest.

When he let her go, Thea wiped the last few tears from her face, pocketing the handkerchief. She walked forward and stood in front of the man she loved more than anyone. "Let's go somewhere just for us."

The End