It is extremely difficult to sit back and just watch one’s best friend self-destruct.
Kaldur has no idea how many times he’s had that thought in the seven or eight months previous He thinks it again though as he sits in a dark bar somewhere in Star City and watches Roy press a kiss to Cheshire’s left wrist as the assassin smiles at Kaldur from across the table and scratches her nails over Roy’s bare forearm where the pockmarks from needle tracks are still visible even with the lack of light in the place.
He tells himself that he is doing all that he can for Roy. Again.
Suddenly, the anger at his best friend bubbles up in his chest. The feelings cause him to grit his teeth out of frustration and reach for his previously abandoned rum and coke. He takes a single sip, a small one (as he is supposed to be responsible for returning Roy back to the other man’s apartment once Cheshire tires of him) and scowls at Cheshire openly.
(It isn’t as though Roy notices anything anymore aside from the burn of the drugs in his veins and the attention that the assassin bestows upon him when she deigns to lower herself to these sorts of visits.)
Roy is hellbent on destroying himself and for the moment, Kaldur can do nothing but watch and try to be a supportive friend. He has stood by Roy through so many different trials, from the fights with Oliver Queen to the insecurity of being one of the youngest heroes working alone. He has been as much of a help as he has been allowed to be.
And now… Now that Roy has Cheshire and a steady supply of heroin to pump into his veins, it seems as though all that Kaldur is able to play is the role of an old-fashioned chaperone. He scowls when Roy tells a bawdy joke into his lover’s ear only to receive a condescending smile from the dark haired woman. Finishing his drink is starting to look more and more appealing with every moment spent in the same area as Cheshire and a suddenly sycophantic Roy.
Some of what Kaldur is feeling is jealousy. He knows that all too well. From the first moment when he stumbled across Roy and Cheshire embracing after a mission where she was most definitely not on their side, those dark feelings had risen up within him. However, only some of what Kaldur feels as Cheshire toys with Roy as a predator plays with its prey is related to the crushing sense of disappointment when he realized that Roy would never feel for him the way that he felt for Cheshire with her dark eyes and smiling mouth.
The rest of it is all rage and distrust based on the fact that Cheshire is --when put simply enough-- a bad guy. She is using Roy for the goal of whatever organization signs her paychecks and everything from her sexual relationship with the archer to the drugs that she procures for him on a regular basis are just a means to whatever end she has in mind.
Unfortunately, Roy does not see things that way and Kaldur has to keep his own council on the matter.
On a good day, Kaldur does not trust Cheshire not to steal the wallet that Robin had pressed into his fingers for his rare excursions outside of Mount Justice.
On a bad day… On a bad day (such as today), Kaldur cannot stop worrying that this will be the day. That this will be the day when Cheshire decides that she has gleaned all of the knowledge that she can from Roy’s drug-addled brain and turns him from a pet and a distraction into an enemy.
The liquid in Kaldur’s rum and coke starts to bubble as the Atlantean starts to lose control on his powers. It is not a significant loss of control, but Cheshire notices all the same and smiles at Kaldur as though she has been victorious in some battle.
The older woman stands to leave and Roy reaches for her, bony fingers shaking slightly. “Do you really have to go, babe,” the redhead croons, deep voice coming out in a little plea as Cheshire dusts off the front of her dark green skirt. “I thought you were coming back to my place--”
Kaldur stiffens at the same time that Cheshire tosses her mane of black hair out of her face and starts to laugh. Roy’s place --a one-room efficiency in an apartment complex that has certainly seen better days-- is where Kaldur usually sleeps on his trips away from Happy Harbor and Mount Justice. If Cheshire goes back with Roy, then Kaldur--
It will be a cold walk back to the nearest Zeta Beam transporter in the city…
“I have better things to do than go home with you,” Cheshire says as a sneer twists at her lips as she watches Kaldur with dark eyes. “And besides, I don’t think your little friend appreciates my company.”
Roy does not seem to notice the look on his lover’s face. Or the tone in her husky voice. “Please, Chesh,” he begs, voice low and earnest. “I’ll clean up and everything.”
Again Cheshire rebuffs him. “Go home, Roy,” she orders. “When I want to come over to your place, I will. Don’t ask me again.” She leaves them sitting there in the bar without a glance backwards and it takes several moments before Roy glances up from the remaining portion of his last drink.
He looks miserable.
Kaldur can’t help himself and he reaches across the table to touch Roy’s shoulder. “I am sorry, my friend,” he starts to say. “I know--”
Roy cuts him off and pulls away. “Why don’t you like her, Kal,” he asks, green eyes narrowing. “And if you hate her so much, why do you keep coming out with us?”
There are so many things that Kaldur wants to say to that. So many answers that he can’t give.
I worry about you.
I fear that one day you will not survive Cheshire’s attentions.
You need someone to take care of you.
Instead, Kaldur settles for the one thing still left to him as Roy scowls at him with bleary eyes. His pride.
“If that is what you want, I will refrain from visiting you when she is here.”