Gasping sharply, Roy’s eyes flew open. For a short, panicked moment, he stared at the top of the pillow fort that he and Lian had made. He realized that the weight on his chest wasn’t cutting off his breathing, rather, it was his daughter sleeping soundly. He could feel her tiny puffs of breath flow out of her. He focuses on that pattern until his heart rate calmed down.
He blinked slowly and patted around for his phone. Clutching it, he held it up and pressed the home button. The bright screen made him cringe and squint his eyes. Turning the brightness down, he was able to see that it was almost nine. With a sigh, he dropped the phone and carefully worked on pulling Lian off of him.
She made a discontent noise in her sleep, and the sound made Roy frown. He continued shifting though until Lian was laying atop a pillow that Roy had replaced himself with. He navigated out the small pillow fort and tiredly made his way over to the kitchen. He flicked on the light over the sink, the same place a small window that overlooked the city was. The view wasn’t anything spectacular. Roy had been on the roof before, so he knew what a real view looked like.
He was almost disappointed that he didn’t go on patrol, it had been almost a week since his last roam around the city and he was starting to feel flabby because of it. Of course, there was no real difference in his weight. He was just being nagged by the restless feeling of not pulling back the string on his bow and hearing the satisfying sound of an arrow whizzing past.
He decided that tonight he had to go patrol. No matter what. He was sure Lian would understand.
Roy dragged himself over to the coffee pot and began brewing himself a pot. The smell soon filled the room and he felt the last jitters from his dream fade away. He couldn’t recall the events of the dream, aside from the overall feeling of dread and fear. Some nights were just like that he supposed.
At least he had a lot to look forward to today. He had his fight with Jason and then the rest of the day was free. He was thinking movies with Lian, in an actual theater, and taking her out for dinner wherever she liked. She had been doing really good at home and in school recently, so she deserves some recognition.
The coffee finished brewing, and Roy fixed himself a mug. He watched the sunrise while drinking it, and just enjoyed the serenity that came with being the only soul awake. The sky was painted in pinks and oranges, carefully caressing the rising sun. Funnily enough, Roy wasn’t really a fan of warm colors. He much rathered cooler colors, but alas, his hair was his hindrance and he was never to escape his sunset scenes look.
Cool colors decorated his living room. The walls a soft off blue and the floors made of hardwood with a rug center place in the living room that matched the walls. Decorating said walls were pictures of Lian and Roy. Other pictures had Jade in them and some had Roy’s old teams and the Arrows. It was really homey.
Roy made sure that none of his superhero gadgets and whatnot were visible if anyone were to wander into his apartment. The crossbow behind the door only noticeable if you were to look, and Lian’s secret safe room had it’s entrance in her room behind a well-placed toy chest.
To the outside eye, the Harper apartment was a normal apartment decorated with photographs and blues. The complete opposite of what one would expect of the self-proclaimed rugged and charming Red Arrow.
Roy sat aside the mug of half drank coffee and began making breakfast. He figured today could be an easy day, so eggs it was. The small boost of protein definitely wouldn’t hurt in his fight against Jason. Roy didn’t doubt that he could win a fight against the other man, but, well, Jason was more built than Roy. By brute strength alone, Jason would probably have the upper hand. Roy would have to be crafty if he wanted to win.
Roy jumped slightly when he heard a quiet yawn come from behind him, followed by a little head bumping into his side. “Hungry,” Lian said sleepily, causing Roy to let out a soft chuckle.
“I’ll get started on breakfast then. Any requests?” He asked, downing the rest of his coffee and placing the mug in the sink. Lian shook her head and padded back towards the living room. Then promptly face-planted onto the couch. Roy watched her with amused eyes before turning to the refrigerator and getting out eggs to make omelets.
Lian didn’t stir until breakfast was completely done. Exactly when it was done. As soon as Roy had placed her egg onto her plate, she was seated at the island with a fork in hand. He didn’t even know how she got the fork since the drawer was just a foot away from himself and he didn’t hear her open it.
“You’re moving around quieter,” Roy observed and placed Lian plate in front of her. He set his own plate down too and took a seat across from his daughter.
Lian didn’t hesitate to start eating, but for once, she did swallow before responding. Roy certainly didn’t teach her table manners, so he wondered where she got that from. His guess was Connor. “Connie was teaching me to walk quietly,”
Yep. Okay. So it was Connor who was mentoring his daughter. To be frank, he sorta rathered it be Connor out of everyone else. He was a good kid and Roy trusted him. He didn’t want to be rude, but if Dinah or Mia mentored Lian, she would be more rambunctious than Roy could handle. And Ollie was just old. Roy still cracked up at half the old slang that fell from his father’s lips.
“Now why in the world would he do that?” Roy asked. He was perfectly okay with it, but he was still curious.
“It’s a surprise,” Lian answered simply. Roy’s curiosity shot up.
“I’m guessing that also means it’s a secret,”
Well, alright then.
When they finished breakfast, Roy got to work on washing the dishes while Lian brushed her hair and got changed. She emerged from her bedroom with a little bag too, saying that it had a journal and book in it in case she got bored.
Roy, on the other hand, didn’t bring anything with him. He knew that the little rink at the Quiver had hand wrappings and towels and whatever else he might need for his little shindig. Roy pulled out his phone and sent a quick text with the Quiver address to Jason.
When the Harpers arrived, Connor was outside waiting on them. He had a tired look in his eye but smiled nonetheless. Roy figured he was sleepy from patrolling, but that thought changed as soon as an angry teenage voiced yelled his name.
“Roy William Harper Junior!” Came Mia’s voice from inside the Quiver. No sooner did she emerge from its entrance with a stern look. “You said you’d call! And what did you do? Not that!”
“It’s only been like three days!” Roy defended, moving behind Lian while she ooh -ed, claiming that he was in trouble.
“You better have a good excuse,” Mia crossed her arms and cocked her hip. Behind her, Connor watched on, not offering any help to his brother. Traitor. Roy thought.
“I...forgot?” Shrugged Roy. Apparently that wasn’t a good answer because Mia charged at him. Roy quickly knelt down behind Lian and Connor stepped in to hold Mia back. Just then, another voice spoke up.
“Glad it isn’t just my family that fights like dogs,” Jason said, stepping outside. Roy felt every nerve in his body light up at once at the sight of the other man. That ecstatic feeling shifted into confusion and Roy looked to Mia.
Catching his eye, Mia smirked at Roy. “Me and your precious Jay are best buds now. Isn’t that right, Jay?”
Walking closer, Jason rolled his eyes. “I told you that name’s reserved for Little Miss Lian and her cha.” He squatted in front of Lian. “Hey, kiddo. Ready to see me beat up your dad?”
“Nope! Cha’s gonna win. He always does!” Lian yelled confidently. She turned to Roy and started shoving on his shoulder. “Tell ‘em, cha!”
“My money is on Pete,” Mia commented.
“I have to agree,” Connor started. “If not by skill, Peter is built bigger than you, Roy. I’ll still root for you though.”
“You’re my favorite sibling again, Connie. I love you.” Roy finally spoke up.
Connor wrinkled his nose. “Don’t make it weird,” Then he walked inside. Mia followed behind him, then Lian. Roy and Jason lingered for a minute.
“How’d you clear things up with Mia?” Roy asked.
“I told her my name is Peter. I’m on a military leave right now and can’t let anyone know that. She tried asking questions, but I told her it was all secret stuff that I couldn’t disclose.” Jason explained. “I said we met in Qurac and gave each other bird nicknames.”
“So, that’s why she didn’t question me calling you “Jay” again. Short for bluejay I’m guessing?” Roy said quieter as the approached.
Jason grinned at him. “Yep, and you’re my mockingbird. Try not to blow my cover, okay?”
“Dude. When have I ever blown anything ever?” Roy asked matching Jason’s grin.
Jason fixed him with an amused look and paused in the doorway before saying, “Do you want me to go with the Do you need a list? line or the obvious dick joke you just walked into?”
Roy thought for a moment. “Surprise me,” he decided and winked.
With a laugh, Jason walked inside. “Consider it done, mockingbird.”
Roy brushed past Jason and lead him over to where the rink was. Oliver had added the rink around the time Dinah joined their little team. Since she did so much hands-on combat, Oliver presented it to her as a present. Needless to say, she appreciated the chance to knock her boys around in a place where they wouldn’t get too hurt.
Connor and Lian were off at the far end of the Quiver messing around with some of the costumes back there, and Mia had moved over to the range and was practicing archery. Roy figured they’d come over to the rink once the fight got going.
“Should we wear guards?” Jason asked, climbing between the ropes and onto the matt. “Or are we holding back?”
“Guards wouldn’t hurt. We can forego cups though, just don’t aim for my gonads. Gloves or wraps?” Roy asked, walking over to a shelf that held things for the rink.
“How about bandages, but instead of punching, we...pin?”
Roy froze and looked over his shoulder. Slowly, a grin overtook his face. “So, no knockouts, just pinning?” Roy eyeballed Jason. If they were going with pinning, he figured that Jason would have an upper hand through his weight. It didn’t take a genius to know that Jason was a lot of muscle- like a lot - and through his years of experience fighting, Roy knew how heavy six-foot of it could be.
However, if Roy could somehow knock Jason off balance, then he’d fall harder, and if he was fast enough, Roy could pin him down easily. He’d had to watch out for Jason’s legs though. He used to rely on them more than anything when he was Robin- always jumping around and kicking baddies.
“Some punching, sure, but avoid the face,” Jason explained. “Sides and torso are fine- legs and arms too, No playing dirty though.”
“Awh, but I love hair pulling and biting,” Roy said, trying to pull it off as a joke, but Jason gave him a look and that look saw right through Roy. Roy grabbed the wraps and mouthguards, a new one for Jason of course, he wasn’t going to let him use someone else’s, and brought them over to the rink.
“We can save that for another time. With fewer kids around.” Jason promised.
“I’m going to hold you to that,”
“You could hold me to more than that,” Jason’s face was slightly flushed and Roy wouldn’t be surprised if he looked the same. The rush of blood wasn’t really from embarrassment, more so from the adrenaline that Roy felt when Jason was involved. Roy knew he could flirt, it was pretty easy for him, but there was just something about Jason that made his heart beat faster.
Roy leaned closer, across the ropes of the rink. He was about to rebut and continue their obvious flirting, craving that continued adrenaline, but he jolted back when an arrow whizzed right between their faces and stuck in a wall adjacent to them.
“As much as I love watching you too make bedroom eyes at each other, and trust me I do love it, I was promised a fight.” Mia declared loudly. Roy internally thanked Connor for bringing Lian out of the room until the fight.
“You weren’t promise jack, squirt.” Jason teased. “The only one promised anything here was Roy, and he was promised to be laid flat.”
Mia walked closer, her ponytail waving behind her. “Well, it doesn’t seem like he’s making any moves. I wouldn’t mind taking his place, you know.”
Jason shook his head laughing. “Sorry, Speedy. You aren’t my type.”
“Then I feel sorry for you,”
Roy watched the pair banter back and forth, confused about how they became such quick friends after their last encounter. Then again, Mia and Jason both had that spitfire don’t-take-shit-from-anyone type of attitude. Hell, they may have had more in common than Roy had with either of them. Suddenly, a bit of panic settled in the back of Roy’s throat. Jason was still pretty young, what if he was closer to Mia’s age? What if they really hit it off?
“Jason, how old are you?”
The pair both looked at him, Mia muttering under her breath, “He literally just said I wasn’t his type,”
Jason’s easy grin turned impish. “Well, my sweet mockingbird, I turned the ripe age of twenty-four just last month. Why are you asking? Worried you’re going to lose to a kid?”
“I’d hardly call you a kid,” Roy grumbled, due to both the fact that he was being teased and the fact that he just barely missed Jason’s birthday.
“I definitely wouldn’t call you a kid,” Mia added.
“Alright!” Roy clapped his hands together. “How about we get this show on the road?”
Jason’s grin softened. “Sure. Help me with my wraps?”
Mia gagged. “Okay, call me over when you two are ready to brawl. All the gooey stuff was cute at first, but now I’m just jealous.”
With a wave, she walked past them, over to where her arrow was still lodged in the wall.
“Here’s give me your hand,” Roy said. Jason held his hand over the ropes and watched as Roy carefully wrapped the bandages around his fists. He wouldn’t admit it out loud, but that small action nearly sent Jason into cardiac arrest. The last time he felt this much electricity coursing through him was when he was being interrogated. Obviously, he preferred this situation much more.
Switching to Jason’s other hand, Roy wondered aloud. “This almost reminds me of when I used to have to tie Lian’s shoes for her. God, she’s grown so much.” Jason could see the almost sad look in Roy’s downcast gaze, but it was covered with so much pride that Jason felt his own heart swell with it too.
“She’s brilliant,” Jason said, then hurriedly added, “Sorry. Well, not sorry. You’ve just done amazing with raising her. Only nine and you can already tell she’s destined for something great.”
Roy lifted his eyes to meet Jason’s. Jason was a little surprised to find them glossy like Roy was close to crying. He supposed Roy had always been soft-hearted, but this was a whole new level of endearing.
“Thank you,” Roy said, clearing his throat, “You’re gonna make me feel kinda bad for kicking your ass.”
Smiling, Jason lightly punched Roy in the arm. “In your dreams, Harper. Give me your hands.”
Roy obliged and Jason wrapped his hands. Once done, Roy handed him the new mouthguard and he placed it in his mouth. He grinned and stepped back. Roy called to the others then placed his own guard in.
Jason moved over to his side of the rink and Roy climbed in between the ropes to stand opposite of him. The first one over was Lian. She yelled, “Good luck, cha! You’re gonna need it,” To which Roy whipped his head around to look at her with betrayal.
Mia was second over and in her hand was a dry-erase board with “Round 1” written on it. Roy rolled his eyes at it. Finally, Connor walked over and pulled up a few chairs for himself and the others.
“You guys ready?” Mia asked. Roy and Jason both gave her a nod. She stood up on one of the chairs Connor had brought and held up the board. “Round one!” she yelled, then whistled. As soon as she did, Jason charged Roy.
Roy wasn’t bad at close combat; Oliver had taught him all the basics growing up. Then, as he got older, Roy learned more techniques for when fighting in close quarters. All of that practicing and training didn’t undermine the fact that he was his strongest from long range.
So, when he was charged, Roy immediately went on the defensive. He blocked whatever hits Jason sent his way, and wondered if it was so easy to do so because Jason was holding back. He guessed that was the case, and that the younger man didn’t want to seriously hurt Roy.
He was definitely going to leave some bruises though. Goddamn.
Eventually, Roy was able to push back and switch to offensive. Jason flashed him a wild grin, and not a second later he was sprawled out on the matt. Just as promised.
Before he could get himself up, he was being held down by over two-hundred pounds of cocky little shit.
“Pinned,” Jason remarked, pressing his hands harder down on Roy’s biceps, effectively keeping Roy from moving his arms.
Roy shot him a mildly annoyed look before sighing in good nature. “Ever see the Lion King ?” He asked, starting to grin.
Jason quirked a brow. “No. Bruce didn’t keep a lot of cartoons around. I mostly read.”
“What?!” Roy squawked. “You haven’t seen the Lion King ? We have to fix that.” After a beat, he continued off track, “How did you knock me down?”
Jason huffed a laugh and sat back, giving Roy room to sit up. “You’ve been slacking on patrol and I was born with natural talent. Put two and two together and...well, you got to see the outcome first hand.”
Roy pouted. “I have very good reasons to skip patrol.”
Lightly brushing his bandaged knuckles against Roy’s cheek in a fake punch, Jason said, “I know. You keep doing what you’re doing. There’s nothing wrong with it.”
“Careful now,” Roy said, catching Jason’s wrist before he completely dropped his hand, “Keep talking to me like that and I might want to keep you forever.”
“ I guess my fate can’t be too bad if you’re deciding it, ” Jason repeated Roy’s words from a few days ago.
Roy scoffed with a grin, letting his and Jason’s hand finally fall. They stayed touching atop Roy’s thigh. “As if I’d try and decide your life for you.”
Without realizing it, Jason leaned closer. “What if I want to stay?” He whispered, eyes boring into Roy’s.
A throat cleared off to their side. Startled, they both sprang back. Thanks to the fact that Jason was still crouched over Roy’s legs when the redhead jumped back, he ended up falling back onto the matt and knocking Jason off balance, who also fell.
Lian began giggling while Mia doubled over in laughter. Connor shook his head fondly. “If you two want to continue your...intimate conversation, I’ll take the girls.” He offered.
“What?! No! This is like the Hallmark movies I watch with Ollie! I wanna stay!” Mia protested.
“Me too!” Lian agreed. Then asked, “What’s a Hallmark movie?”
Mia pointed a finger at Roy, who was still laying down, head tilted to see the other three. “You’ve deprived your daughter of some of the best crappy holiday rom-coms in the world! All because you don’t want cable! I have dibs on babysitting her next so I can right your wrongs, you insolent man!”
Aghast, Roy scrambled up. “You can’t corrupt her with Hallmark ! She could get addicted just like her grandfather!”
Still on the ground, but now sitting, Jason piped up, “Bruce used to watch those,”
All eyes turned to him. Jason grinned a mischievous grin, mind already racing with embarrassing things about Batman to share with his new-found friends.