Green Arrow’s mind throbbed painfully as he wandered the corridors of the Watchtower. He did not know where he was going but he had to find refuge from the raw, oppressive heat that filled his body. With small, measured steps, Connor managed to stumble om the observation desk, hobbled through the doors and threw himself onto a window seat.
This sensation- both unyielding but invigorating - was an intensity that Connor never experienced in his young life. It burned him. It filled him. It consumed him. The young manclutched his at his chest, as if to hold still his fluttering heart. With a small groan, he pressed his forehead against the observation glass, relishing the cool against his fevered brow. His viridescent eyes followed the path of a far-off comet as it left a glittering trail in its wake. He prayed that he would melt through the window and float out into the fathomless black. He wished to take hold of the comet’s tail and to be pulled along side with it at such a tremendous speed that his ill-ease would be torn from his body and lost to the star-strewn void. But as he stared out into the void, only one thought rang in his mind:
When did this all begin?
Connor feverishly combed through his recent memory. He had been reviewing surveillance feeds when Batman, in a rare moment of kindness, came earlier than expected to relieve him. As he rose to leave, the Dark Knight imparted a few gruffly spoke words of praise for his recent performance during a mission to prevent Grodd’s latest assault on Gorilla City.
Terse, but nonetheless, a kind word from Batman was a rare, invaluable treat. But when the man clasped his shoulder and offered the most infinitesimal of smiles, Connor the trivial joy that warmed his gentle heart erupted into a conflagration. His stomach knotted itself and an acrid dryness seized his throat. Connor was overcome with a dizzying fever, scrambling to to keep his footing as he thanked him and escaped into the hallway.
“Are you ok?” Kyle’s voice echoed in the dark, bringing him out of his reverie. “You don’t look so good...”
“I-I’m fine,” Connor replied as he forced himself to sit up. “I think I...am just a little tired.” Kyle said nothing as he stopped by his side and pressed a hand against the boy’s brow. “You’re on fire. Maybe Dr. Midnight should look at you-”
“N-no!” And then he added more gently as his friend’s surprised look: “I-I am just really tired and I didn’t get to eat this morning because Dad decided to have chilli for breakfast...”
“Well then, maybe you’ll feel better after a little lunch, then? Are you up for it?”
Connor stared apprehensively at the suspiciously bubbling tuna surprise as he held a cafeteria tray to his chest like a mustard-colored, hard-plastic shield. Between the bright florescent lights and the putrid stench of processed meat that filled the commissary, the younger Green Arrow felt that the acrid heat welling in his throat would erupt. And it did not help much that his head throbbed violently at the sound of heroes noisily bustling about and loudly fussing over the disappointing selection.
“Let’s get you something to eat before these cows devour it all,” Kyle muttered as he dove into the fray. As he watched his friend fight for the last bagel, when Guy suddenly shouldered him as he dashed to snatch up a pudding cup.
“Snooze, you lose, lil’ G.A.!”
“Gardner, don’t be an ass!” Kyle shouted after him. “Seriously, you’d think he’d have an ounce of sympathy and let you eat something that was made with or touched by meat.” His nose wrinkled as a server put the gravy spoon into a tray of roasted vegetables. “They must have something other than week old salad!”
“I-it’s ok, Kyle,” Connor said sheepishly as he plucked up a leftover oatmeal, a bowl of fruit before following his friend back to their table where Jade, Wally and Roy sat waiting for them. As they took their seats, the Oliver Queen and Hal Jordan watched them as everyone fussed over his son’s flushed appearance.
“Good lookin’ boy you’ve got there, Ollie,” Hal said with a wry smile, watching as Jade produced a cooling pad and slapped it onto Connor’s forehead. “He got a sweetheart?”
“Nah, he’s too...shy,” Ollie replied as he poked at his salad as he stole peeks at his son. Connor looked a little odd. His face was flushed and his usual golden brown hue had a pallid look to it. He ought to go over and check on him but he did not want to bother the boy by doting on him. “Besides, he’s nothing like me; nothing like his loud-mouthed, philandering pops.”
“Thank God for that!” His friend laughed shamelessly. “He is a gentle soul... A little too gentle.”
“Is that a problem for you, Hal?”
“No, no. You know I’m not conservative about love. I’d never begrudge anyone of a good time,” Hal replied as he pushed around a chunk of fish with a spork. “But, he’s so quiet. It might be in his best interest to have a little fun with someone his age, you know? Let loose and have some fun!”
“With who, indeed...” The elder Lantern trailed off as his eyes scanned the commissary for a suitor. “How about....Wally?”
“He’s married with two kids.”
“That’s never stopped anyone before.”
“He’s not on the market!”
“Fine... What about... Jade?”
“Connor thinks of her strictly as a friend. Plus, I think she’s still with Kyle.”
“Despite what you think his relationship with the late Blue Beetle was, he’s definitely not gay!” Ollie snapped. He squeezed the bridge of nose and took a deep breath before continues: “Look, just leave my boy alone. Life outside of the monastery is over-stimulating enough as it is. The other day, he was beside himself when Mia gave him some mango sorbet...”
“And that’s all the more reason we need to find him someone! Make him a man of the world! Put some fire in his belly!” Connor’s flush face as Kyle pulled him into a playful headlock. “Or... he might have someone already.” Hal gestured to the opposite table.
His son? With Kyle Rayner? It was no secret that Ollie thought Kyle was a terrible human being.
“Fine,” Green Arrow ground out. “But no prostitutes or sex offenders. And only people between the ages of 18 to 30. And I want access to medical and criminal records. It’s my son - I’ll suspend my conviction to uphold civil liberties for his sake.”
“Only the best for your boy!” Hal said with a smile. “Trust me!”