The soft buzz of the music echoed around the room as Roy sipped his beer. Dinah, bent over the pool table with pool stick in hand, lined up her shot. Living with Ollie had made Dinah one of the few challenging players in a game of pool for the lifetime archer, though Artemis was getting better. On the other side of the room, Ollie played with Lian throwing her up in the air through some sorta hoop drones that were modified from target practice. Jade and Ollie were tossing Lian through more and more complex hoops. Lian’s laugh could be heard above and around the noise of the music, which stopped Roy from interfering. Lian was happy, but if they dropped her…
The clack of the cue ball hitting the striped seven ball into the left side pocket drew Roy’s attention back to the game. Dinah smirked at him.
“They’re not going to drop her.”
Roy scowled. “I know.”
Dinah pursed her lips as she readied her next shot. “Then get your head in the game before I wipe the floor with you.”
The cue ball nicked the thirteen, but the ball hit the corner of the pocket and bounced back towards the center. Roy raised an eyebrow. Dinah offered him a half-smile. He wouldn’t accuse Dinah of the missing shot on purpose, but he got the message.
Roy placed his beer bottle on the cocktail table Oliver had bought after he got tired of yelling at his ward to not place his drinks on the wooden edges of the pool table. He bent over the pool table and hit the cue ball to spin into the solid two ball, which hit the four ball. Both balls sank into the corner pocket. Roy grinned, and Dinah lightly shoved him.
Lian’s screams of delight caused him to look over at her. Ollie held her above his head and blew raspberries on her stomach. It was disconcerting to see playboy Ollie having such fun with an infant. Dinah bumped him.
“I know. It’s weird to watch,” she teased.
His phone buzzed in his pocket. Roy sighed. Since Ollie, Dinah, and Jade were all here, it meant that it was Wally or Dick. He thought about ignoring it but knew he wouldn’t, so he pulled the phone out.
I screwed up. Can you get to Dick?
Roy glared at his phone. He was tempted to say no. He was tempted to tell Wally to figure out his own problem, but his hand stilled over the no reply. Wally complained about Dick a lot, but he rarely asked for Roy to intervene if it weren’t serious.
What did you do?
I screwed up. Please.
“That scowl might break your phone,” Dinah said.
“I have to go.”
Dinah raised an eyebrow.
“Dick’s being an idiot again.” This better be worth his time.
Accessing his phone’s databank, he tracked Dick’s location via his phone. If Dick had turned his phone off, this wouldn’t work. Roy’s eyebrows rose. Dick was at a bar. He swallowed. That wasn’t good. Dick had been raised by the king of sobriety, and even Roy had gotten subjected once to one of the man’s many complaints about alcohol’s impairment on the body.
“A big idiot,” he corrected. He raised his voice. “Jade, I gotta go.”
Jade placed her hands on her hips and raised her eyebrows. Roy grabbed his jacket and headed towards his wife.
“Something happened with Wally and Dick,” he explained.
“It wouldn’t have anything to do with why Artemis is pissed at Wally, would it?”
Roy felt like banging his head against the wall. Why couldn’t Wally only piss off one person at a time? At least Jade would deal with Artemis, since Lian’s birth Jade had gotten more protective of her family.
“Good, take care of it. Artemis says I can’t castrate him, and she’s happier when he isn’t an idiot,” Jade told him.
He refrained from raising his eyebrows. That was as close to approval that Jade got. Wally didn’t know how lucky he was. Roy nodded and headed down to Green Arrow’s cave to use the Zeta.
Ollie groaned. “If you take the zeta tubes in civvies again, Bats is going to murder me.”
Roy smirked as the elevator doors started to close. “I thought you could handle the Big Bad Bat.”
He laughed as he heard Ollie bang his head against something. If Bruce truly had a problem with Roy taking the Zeta tubes to help his son, then Roy wouldn’t be able to. The man just had to give a show of decorum.
Roy entered The Green Dragon and scanned the room for Dick. The bar had the usual suspects of a seedy bar, but somehow Bludhaven took the worst of Star’s seedy bars and magnified their worst qualities. A couple of drunks, complete with beer guts and raggedy clothes, sloshed their beers as they talked. A few women talked and cackled at his entrance. He ignored them and headed for the lone figure at the bar.
Dick sat in a worn-down bar stool, staring off through the lines of whiskeys, tequila, and rums. A single drink sat in front of him. Roy grabbed it from behind Dick and downed it with one go. Dick swerved around quickly, no hint of impairment.
“Hey! That’s mine! Roy?” It was interesting to watch Dick shift from anger to confusion to incredulity so quickly. “Let me guess. Wally called you.”
“Yeah, he texted me, and given that you’re about to throw your chances for a career with the police out the window, I’d say it was a good thing,” Roy told him.
“My ID says I’m legal,” Dick argued.
“Right.” Roy scoffed. “Let’s go.” He gripped Dick’s shoulder in case he got any dumb ideas.
Dick sighed but got up.
Roy led them outside, pleased to note that Dick didn’t sway or stumble.
“Stop it,” Dick growled.
“Watching me. You had my drink. I’m completely sober.”
“And that was your only drink?” Roy asked, skepticism clear in his tone.
Dick turned to glare at him. “Yes, would you like to use a breathalyzer?”
“No, but Bats might.”
The nineteen-year-old honestly look betrayed for a minute. “You didn’t?”
“No, and I resent you thinking so little of me, but how do you think I found you.”
Dick ran a hand down his face and cursed.
Roy laughed. “Yeah, now care to tell me why you were at a bar?” Roy had been doing well keeping his worry about Dick at a manageable level, far better than Wally ever did, but he’d be lying if his concern over his friend didn’t notch up several degrees at finding Dick at The Green Dragon.
“Just let it go,” Dick said as he increased his pace.
Roy easily kept pace with the shorter man. “Yeah, like you let it go when I went off the deep end looking for Roy.”
“Yeah well, I was wrong. You found him, didn’t you?”
Finding the original Roy Harper did very little to ease the clone’s guilt. Roy one was still a mess and currently missing again. The clone didn’t blame Roy for his feelings of betrayal, but now that he was safe, it seemed better to give him time to cool off.
Roy let his skepticism show clearly on his face. “Are you really trying to argue that how I handled that five-year search was healthy?”
Dick refused to answer.
“Now tell me what’s going on.”
“What? Wally didn’t tell you?” Dick hissed.
“Dick,” Roy growled. “Stop avoiding the question. What’s going on with you?”
The raven-haired man turned a corner and whispered something Roy didn’t here.
“I was avoiding heights, okay?”
Roy didn’t need to feign his confusion. “What?”
Dick looked at him for a minute. “Wally really didn’t tell you.”
The archer hoped his growing suspicion was way off base. There were certain things he could count on. Dick Grayson’s steady presence was always one of them.
“There’s a park around the corner and up a ways,” Dick offered instead.
The pair continued their walk in silence. Dick fidgeted nervously on Roy’s right, and Roy mostly tried to ignore it. Dick led them to a park bench away from the nearest street lamp, so there was only a soft glow from the light. Empty Bellie Burger cups and old newspapers littered the area.
Dick sat on the bench, facing forward and focusing on the darkness of the bushes in front of him. Roy joined him and out of curtesy, followed Dick’s gaze rather than stare at his friend.
After a beat or two of silence, Dick said, “A couple of years ago, I did something stupid, or rather, I almost did something stupid. I mean I didn’t. And that’s what matters, but sometimes, sometimes I think about it.”
Roy nodded. His tongue seemed too large for his mouth. How did one respond to such a confession? No wonder Wally was constantly freaked out.
“I didn’t, and I wouldn’t,” Dick explained to the silence. “I’d never do it. I just, I just think about it sometimes.”
Since Roy couldn’t figure out how to make his tongue properly work, he grabbed the boy (Dick was so young. How could he forget how young Dick was?) instead and pulled him into an awkward but firm hug on the bench. “My life would suck without you.”
Dick laughed, because the first Robin had always been insane. “Thanks, Roy.”
“But you’re not going to do anything?” He asked the question and tightened his hold.
“No, no. I won’t I promise.”
Roy let Dick go and nodded.
The younger man gave Roy an indiscernible look. “What? You’re not going to track my every movement now.”
“Do I need to?”
“Then no.” Roy waited a beat or two in silence before whacking Dick upside the head. Hard.
“What was that for?”
“Alcohol is a terrible coping mechanism.”
Dick scowled. “I didn’t drink anything. You did.”
“You thought about it.”
“But I didn’t.”
“Good. Keep it that way.”
Dick rolled his eyes but didn’t comment further.
“So who did Wally tell?”
Roy gave Dick a very unimpressed look. “Bruce had a right to know.”
The teenager sulked but didn’t dispute it. “And Jason.”
“Your younger brother with the insane protective complex?”
The red-haired man thought for a moment before answering. “Well, Wally shouldn’t have done that, but if you are honest with him, he’ll worry less. It’s when you disappear and clam up that we all worry about you.”
“I’m tired of people worrying about me.”
“Then take care of the problem.”
Dick didn’t respond, and the two fell into another silence until Roy stood up.
“Come on,” he jerked his head. “Let’s go calm Kid Idiot and your brother down.”
“There’s no way they’re still together without bloodshed.”
Roy gave his friend a look but didn't say anything. Dick clearly underestimated how much he meant to the two men.
“How did you miss that shot? He was right in front of you!”
“Not all of us have practice with guns!”
“Shut up West before I shoot you.”
Dick’s face showed surprise at the commotion from the living room. Roy laughed at him and shook his head. The acrobat clearly didn’t understand how much he was appreciated. They walked into the living room.
Wally and Jason were playing a cooperative game on the Xbox. Wally’s face looked worried, but he didn’t say anything. Jason looked up from the game.
“You’re back.” He addressed his older brother. “You good?”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m good.”
“Then come join my team and we can crush your friends.”
Dick gave a weak laugh but threw himself down into the middle of the couch between the two and grabbed a controller.
Roy leaned against the wall and watched them. Dick would be okay. He just needed to stop being an idiot.