Archery practice went much more smoothly that afternoon. Her excitement for her field trip on Friday hindered her aiming a bit, but honestly, Roy figured she was too distracted by the trip to really care about practice. Not that he minded. As long as Lian was happy, he was happy. That wasn’t even a figure of speech either. Lian’s glee was contagious.
Even when it started pouring on their way home, Roy couldn’t keep the smile off his face. Hand in hand, he and Lian ran through the rain together, only stopping when there was a puddle that just had to be jumped in. When they made it home and through the door, they looked as if they had just dove into a pool.
To be sure Lian didn’t catch a cold, Roy ran her a warm bath as soon as they shook the rain out their hair, effectively splattering the entrance walls with small specks of water. He found the coziest pajamas Lian owned, a fuzzy Batman pair with an attached cowl that never failed to make Roy laugh, and set them on the counter as usual.
He changed his own clothes too, of course, and washed his hands before getting to work making dinner. It was definitely a ramen night. Roy wasn’t the best chef, but he could make a mean instant cup of noodles. While he waited for his turn in the bathroom, he filled out the field trip papers for Lian, then promptly smacked himself in the face when he realized he had forgotten to send off the papers for Jason’s wheels.
When Lian emerged from the bathroom, she clambered up onto one of the barstools at the kitchen island with a book and began slurping down her noodles. Roy gave a flick to one of the drooping ears on her cowl as he passed her. She gave out a muttered, “I’m the night, cha. Don’t mess with me.”
With a laugh, he made his way into his room to grab an old, grease-stained shirt and some sweatpants. He also sent a text to Oliver, saying that he was staying in for the night with Lian. He rolled his eyes at the thumbs up emoji his dad sent him, then went to the bathroom.
While he took extra care washing his hair, he thought about his advertising idea and expanding his business. He could go to the library and print out papers to pin to posts and cork boards inside stores. He could offer out of shop working during the day too, so he could go to places that need things fixed like coolers or heaters. He’d be a real handyman!
After his date with Jason, he could hurry there and--
Date!? Where did that come from?
Roy stared at the wall in front of him while he rinsed his hair. Weird.
Later that night, Roy was managing his finances; shopping lists, Lian’s lunch, and zoo costs, expenses for arrows and trinkets, etc, when Lian came to stand in front of him where he was seated in the kitchen. He watched her climb onto the same barstool from earlier and placed her book on the table.
The book was kinda thick, about half an inch? Maybe that wasn’t a lot to some people, but Roy knew he’d be complaining about something like that in high school. Lian fixed him with a professional look, folding her hands on the table, so he put his pen down and did the same.
“There’s a character in here. I want to be her for Halloween.” Lian stated.
“That’s still a few weeks away,”
Lian gave a sweet smile. “Just enough time to gather everything we’ll need,”
If there was one thing Roy knew his daughter got from him, it had to be her ability to create things. Not necessarily robots like Roy, but Lian had the same way of thinking, she could look at a pile of materials and think of different ways they all fit together, whether it be a pile of fabric or popsicle sticks.
Roy bent his elbows and propped his chin on his folded fingers. “Tell me about it?”
So, Lian did. She explained everything from the plot of the book down to the details of her favorite character’s shoes. She was like a sponge being squeezed, letting out everything she had soaked in. Apparently, the story was about a princess who was pronounced dead but was found by her best friend, who, against social norms, became a knight.
Roy was glad Lian was so into literature and stories, it’d help strengthen her imagination and creativity. Her intelligence was also flourishing. It seemed like every other day, there’d be some new ingenious antic via the little girl herself.
“Then she finds out her friend isn’t dead! So, they reunite and start working together. I haven’t finished the book, but I think they might get together in the end.” Rambled Lian happily.
“Oh, yeah? What makes you say that?” Roy asked, curious about how someone so young perceived romance. Times have changed since Roy was her age, so kids these days had to see it differently, right?
“They always have each other’s backs and they make each other happy. That’s what matters, isn’t it?” She asked, but it sounded like she was making sure Roy agreed rather than asking an actual question.
“Absolutely,” he agreed without hesitation. “The key to love is faith and joy. No matter if it’s familiar, romantic, or platonic.”
Lian smiled widely, then continued explaining the story.
The next morning, Roy woke up a little extra early, making sure Lian had a fulfilling breakfast to make up for the day before. The fulfilling breakfast being homemade pancakes and fried eggs. It was something Roy used to eat a lot when he was a teenager since it was fairly easy to make. Due to his years of practice, he’d gotten pretty damn good at making it.
“Do you think the zoo has a bear,” Lian asked with a mouthful of egg.
“I can confirm that they do have a bear,” Roy answered with a mouthful of pancake. Swallowing, he questioned, “Why?”
“I’m going to wrestle it,” Lian replied, confidence lacing her words.
“Sure. I’ll film it. If you lose you’re grounded though.” Laughed Roy, finishing off his pancake.
“Don’t worry, I’ll win. I’ll be like Teddy Roosevelt. They’ll name a doll after me.”
“No. No. Roosevelt didn’t kill the bear. That’s why teddy bears are given to kids because they’re a symbol of compassion.” Roy explained.
Lian watched him with wide eyes and when he finished, she grinned. “So why don’t you have any merch, cha? You never kill.”
Roy scowled. “You were baiting me, weren’t you?”
Lian just smiled and got up to put her empty plate in the sink. “I’m only nine. I couldn’t do that.”
“You’re too much like me,”
“What’s so bad about that?” Lian asked, and if she noticed how Roy’s eyes got glassy, she didn’t say anything.
After dropping Lian off at school, Roy jogged to the library. He figured since he skipped on his normal run this morning, he could make up for it now. Inside, he waved to the librarian before making his way to the computers to print out the advertisements he whipped up after getting Lian’s approval for it and seeing her to bed.
He had wanted to call Oliver and get some advice from him too, but the older man was patrolling. Roy felt a little guilty about skipping out, especially since that red helmet guy could be out shooting other people, but Roy had faith the other Arrows could cover for him. Besides, Roy deserved a break after yesterday night.
Roy wasn’t artistic in the common sense. He was intuitive and creative, but the only thing he could draw with a pencil was blueprints. So, it was safe to say he wasn’t exactly an expert in graphic design. Nonetheless, his ability to put parts together did somewhat help him develop what he’d call a decent composition.
It wasn’t anything special, containing the basic information like location and work hours, along with “Roy’s Resources” printed across the top. Not the most creative name, he knows, but look at the hero names he chose for himself; Arsenal and Red Arrow. He’s glad Jade decided to name their child.
Once all the papers were printed, he tucked them in a folder he had in a drawstring bag he brought with him. Before opening, he supposed he could grab the papers for Jason’s wheels and take them to the post office, then put up one of his flyers. That would give him plenty of time before he had to meet the former Robin.
At his garage, a man was outside waiting. Roy greeted him in kind and apologized for his lateness. The man asked if Roy knew anyone who could work on tractors. He explained that he had a farm and recently bought a newer model, but it started acting up and he couldn’t figure out how to fix it. Making sure the man still had all the papers he got when he bought the thing, Roy told him it wouldn’t be a problem to swing by over the weekend and take a look. He handed the man one of his flyers, for the contact information of course, then gave a cheery farewell.
He hadn’t even put up his ads yet and he was already getting traction. He’d be making bank in no time.
Inside his office, he gathered the papers he needed and put them in an envelope to send off. One of those big orange ones for important documents. While sealing it and writing the mailing address, Roy couldn’t help but feel like something was out of place. That’s when he noticed his chair was empty. Normally, it would be empty, but there was supposed to be a jacket laying across the seat. A jacket that was suspiciously not there.
In its place was a sticky note, like the one Jason had used yesterday, which reminded Roy he needed to buy more. On the note wasn’t any words, instead, a tiny doodle of the helmet that the man from the other night had on. Its eyes were drawn like he was smiling though. There was even a little thumbs up next to the smiling helmet. It was kinda cute, except for the fact that a murder broke into his store to steal back a jacket. Which meant that the murder knew who he was. Shit.
Roy quickly pulled out his phone and fumbled with it before pulling up his contacts. Who would he even call? The Arrows already had something going on, and dragging them away to play witness protection seemed unnecessary. He could handle his own, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t panicking.
He needed air. Roy rushed out of the office, but not before shoving the sticky note into his pocket. While he jogged to the post office, he tried to clear his head.
The man with the helmet didn’t have any reason to go after Roy. In fact, if he knew who Roy was, then he knew Roy was a parent. Despite not knowing much about the guy, it was obvious he cared about kids, at least the situation with Sofia made it seem that way. So, Lian wasn’t in danger. That single thought calmed Roy down greatly.
Still, he had to tell somebody. His best bet would probably be Ollie, but again he was patrolling and the Arrows were busy looking for the Red Hood-
Roy stopped suddenly, feet glued to the sidewalk. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the sticky note. Staring at it with wide eyes, Roy once again felt like a detective from a classic noir movie. He should buy a fedora or something just to complete the look.
Red Hood meant red helmet. Roy thought it over in his head. It made sense, Bruce said that he was expected to show up in Star eventually and here he was. Killing perverts. That was different than what Bruce said he targeted. That asshole didn’t even mention molesters getting killed- child molesters at that!
Roy didn’t agree with killing, not unless it was under very specific circumstances, like life or death. Yet, he could understand the Red Hood’s motive now. Sure, busting up drug labs and beating people near death was one thing, but people who hurt kids? That was a whole different ball game to Roy.
It seemed like he would be calling Oliver after all.
He couldn’t right now though, not in the open like this. So, Roy tucked the note back in his pocket and continued his jog to the post office. Luckily, it wasn’t too far. He was there and gone in less than fifteen minutes. Add another ten to that, and he was back in his shop and pulling up the Green Arrow’s number.
Surprisingly, it picked up on the first ring.
“Roy?” Oliver asked. “Is everything alright?”
“Not exactly,” Roy said, a little stunned by the urgency in Oliver’s voice. It warmed his heart to be able to hear how much he cared though. “I think I ran into the Red Hood a few nights ago.”
“Are you okay? Is Lian safe?” Oliver sounded almost panicked now, the same way Roy was earlier.
“Yeah. We’re fine, don’t worry. I just wanted to let you know that he was in town. But, Ollie?”
“I don’t know if this guy is all that bad,”
“No. Hear me out, please?”
Roy could hear Oliver sigh through the receiver. Oliver wasn’t used to being interrupted, nor told to listen, excluding Dinah, of course. That kinda came with being the mayor. “Okay. Go ahead.”
“When I ran into him, he was saving a kid. I know you saw it on the news. The story about the little girl I brought to the hospital and then the follow up about her attacker being dead? That was the Red Hood. He saved her.” Roy relayed carefully, purposely not mentioning the jacket incident, or that the Red Hood seemed to know his identity, therefore, probably Oliver’s too.
“Killing is still a crime,” Oliver said and Roy felt the frustration build up in him. The same frustration from when he was a teenager.
“I know that, Ollie. But sometimes good people do bad things. We both know that. I’m just saying, when you catch this guy, try rehabilitation and save the incapacitation for if he refuses. You might be able to save him that way, isn’t that what heroes do?”
“I,” Oliver sounded conflicted, and Roy couldn’t blame him. Covering your face didn’t make you a superhero, and it certainly didn’t give you the right to be judge, jury, and executioner. However, the fact that the Red Hood saved a little girl meant he wasn’t a monster, he was a person. Roy would bet that he was just some guy that lost his way. If someone were to offer a hand, maybe he could change. Call Roy an optimist, but he liked his chances.
“Okay,” Oliver finally agreed. “Okay. We’ll be cautious with this one. Since you’re so passionate about it, when we catch him, I’ll call you. Does that sound good?”
“It sounds great. Thank you.”
“I expect a report about your encounter though. And a reason why you didn’t tell anyone you ran into him.”
“I’ll have it to you ASAP,”
“See you soon, Roy.”
With all of that out the way, all Roy had to worry about for the rest of the day was his totally-not-a-date-don’t-even-think-of-it-as-that with Jason.