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Honor Thy Mother

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In one universe, she is named Rose, and she does not live beyond her first breath. Oliver is forced to bury his pup, to lay her in Lian Yu’s blood soaked soil as Slade looks on, unreadable as ever. Shado is out of sight, letting them grieve.

 

In this universe, she’s named Lucy, and it is she that lives while Oliver dies. Slade must bury his mate as Shado cradles his child. 

 

In a similar but not exact universe, Slade abandons his daughter, leaving Shado to raise the child of the two men she nearly loved. In a universe several turns away, both Oliver and his pup die and Slade lets Lian Yu take himself as well. In a universe far away from all of these, she is not born on Lian Yu. She is born in Starling Central, with strong lungs as Slade paces the hall. Shado waits patiently with the Queen family. Sara and Laurel arrive late. John stands next to Shado and bites his thumb until it bleeds.

 

In that universe, she is named Eileen Lucille Wilson.

 

But this universe takes Oliver, leaving a grieving Slade and Shado to try and nurture Lucy as best they can. They feed her the milk Oliver expressed before he died, complaining about the pain. 

 

“Nursing is going to suck,” he grunted, finally getting the last of it into the jar.

 

“All mothers enjoy the intimacy,” Shado said, poking the fire. 

 

Oliver barked a laugh as Slade ducked into the plane, holding a pair of rabbits and a handful of berries. “Believe it when I feel it,” he said to her as Slade leaned down for a kiss.

 

~

 

She does not cry much, holding her head up before her fourth day of life, eyes focusing for several minutes at a time. 

 

“A little fighter,” Slade says approvingly, voice cracking just a bit. “Just like her mommy and daddy.”

 

~

 

Shado and Slade do their best, resorting to more dangerous supply runs and stealing more from Fyres. 

 

“We have to get her out of here,” Shado says one night, watching Slade rock Lucy. “He would want us to.”

 

“I know.” Slade watches his baby girl dream. 

 

~

 

In one universe, they all make it. In another, Shado dies. Slade dies. Lucy-Rose-Eileen dies. They all die. 

 

In this universe, they nearly make it. 

 

~

 

Lucy is two months old when Fyres begins to feed her milk laced with mirakuru. Her lullaby is her father’s screams, calling her name, Oliver’s name. Her wake up call is Shado’s wails. 

 

Before she reaches half a year, she resembles a toddler. At eight months, she is able to talk, words rough on her small tongue. She can aim a gun, sharpen an arrow tip, and name knives. 

 

When she is a year, she looks as though she has lived five. When Slade gets her back, she does not fight him, does not slip the knife she has into his back. Instead, she jabs it into Fyres neck when he tries to pick her up. 

 

Slade cries all night on the boat, holding her close, rough hands smoothing over her dark hair, thumbs brushing under her blue eyes. 

 

“You have his eyes,” he whispers into her hair. 

 

“I know,” she says, wiping blood from his grizzled cheeks. 

 

You haven’t stopped saying so. 

 

~

 

They go to China. 

 

Aunt Shado teaches her the language, the money system. Daddy shows her how to use chopsticks and tells her about how Mommy was terrible with them. 

 

They struggle to wean her off the mirakuru. Before three months are out, she has grown another two years, dark hair limp around her shoulders and her first loose tooth coming. By the end of her first year, she looks nine, with a gap tooth in her smile and arms strong from archery and knife throwing. 

 

“What was Mommy’s favorite color?” She asks, looking at the yellow frosted cupcake. 

 

“Green,” Daddy says, lighting the candle. “He loved the color green.”

 

~

 

“What did Mommy want to do when he escaped?” She asks Aunt Shado the next morning over archery practice. 

 

“To raise you,” she says. “Your aim is off.”

 

~

 

Lucy does not ask questions for a long while.

 

~

 

“He wanted revenge,” Amanda Waller says when they meet. “To cleanse Starling.”

 

~

 

Her food is laced with mirakuru that night.

 

~

 

Lucy is a year and a half old and looks like she is eleven. 

 

“I want Mommy,” she says when Daddy finds her. “I want to see Starling.”

 

Daddy picks her up and holds her close, his scent filled with blood and rage. 

 

“We will,” he promises. 

 

~

 

It’s four more months before they make it to Starling. 

 

~

 

Lucy is nearly two, and looks fourteen. Her food holds no traces of mirakuru

 

“Will they like me?” She asks Daddy. 

 

“They’ll love you,” Aunt Shado says. 

 

“They won’t believe you,” Daddy says. “But we’ll convince them.”

 

Mommy was beautiful, she finds out. There are pictures in his room. His room is the most lavish thing she’s ever seen. A large, plush four poster bed. Books line the shelves. A door leads to a bathroom with a huge tub that her old cot could fit in with room to spare. The closet is full of the softest clothes she’s ever touched. 

 

Mommy smelled like oranges, she finds out when she sniffs a shirt. Oranges and leaves and vanilla. Daddy’s grief smells like blood and cedar. 

 

“Who are you?!” 

 

Her aunt is pretty even when angry. 

 

What are you doing here?!” There’s a phone in her hand and her thumb hovers above the dial button.

 

Lucy tilts her head, blinking as the light catches her eyes. 

 

“Hi Auntie.”

 

~

 

It takes time to convince them. 

 

Grandmother Moira blames Daddy. Aunt Thea blames Grandfather Robert and the Lance sisters. Daddy blames himself. Aunt Shado blames Fyres and Amanda Waller. Walter blames no one. 

 

~

 

Lucy blames herself. 

 

~

 

She and Daddy share a room. Aunt Shado gets her own. 

 

Lucy does not stay though. She sneaks out once Daddy is asleep and slips to Mommy’s old room. She pulls shirts from their hangers and the dresser, pulling one over her head. The covers on the bed are messed with and the pillows arranged in a circle. She takes the few pictures of Mommy by himself that she can find and takes them from their frames. She tucks herself into the nest, pictures propped against the headboard, one tucked in the case of the pillow she’s resting her head on. 

 

“I love you Mommy,” she says to the empty air. 

 

~

 

Weeks pass. Grandmother Moira insists on a DNA test. 

 

Aunt Shado teaches her how to use the different bows Daddy fetches from the city. Aunt Thea tells her stories about Mommy and how he used to be a playboy despite how it was frowned upon for Omegas to have such reputations. 

 

Tommy Merlyn arrives in the second week and cries when he looks at her. 

 

Laurel Lance cries as well, for a very different reason. 

 

Malcom Meryln takes DNA samples, blood, saliva, even urine. 

 

“It’s impossible to reverse,” he later says. “But she won’t grow any faster than normal now. The mirakuru would just act like it would normally.” 

 

Lucy doesn’t like Malcom. She likes Tommy though, and he likes her. He likes telling her more stories of Mommy and how they played as kids. He fails at braiding her hair and instead brings her foods to try. 

 

The grease in fast food makes her throw up. Candy makes her hyper, arrows off course from the twitching in her hands. 

 

Daddy yells at Tommy and makes her drink a lot of water. 

 

The tests come back positive, of course. Lucy is added to the will, in Mommy’s place. 

 

~

 

“He wanted to cleanse Starling.”

 

~

 

Lucy has to look up the definition of cleanse. Then she looks through Daddy’s things, finding the list Grandfather Robert had written. A list of people who hurt Starling. Lucy stands there, holding the list, and wonders what Mommy would have done.

 

~

 

Stories are concocted, announcements are made. Lucy learns quickly when the tutors set things in front of her. Daddy is proud and so are Aunt Shado and Aunt Thea. 

 

~

 

The arguments about school begin. 

 

“She needs to go!” Grandmother Moira says. “She is a Queen and she will follow the traditions of one!”

 

“She’s two!” Daddy yells. “Let her be a kid!” 

 

Her aunts try to keep her occupied when the fights happen. Aunt Shado takes her to the stables and teaches her how to handle horses. Aunt Thea shows her what makeup is for and how to paint her nails. 

 

Walter occasionally takes her for drives if both women are occupied. 

 

He doesn’t ask her questions, or tell her stories. He lets her cry, or sit in silence. The radio is on when she wants to silently fume and off when she needs the air. 

 

It’s his way of helping, and she appreciates it. 

 

~

 

“He loved the color green.”

 

~

 

It’s Mommys’ hoodie, far too big, and hanging around her knees. Her “mask” is Aunt Thea’s black eyeshadow and eyeliner, a crude shape drawn and colored in. A collapsible bow hides in the pocket, quiver across her back, beneath the green fabric, only visible when she leans forwards. Her gloves are a pair of Aunt Thea’s from a few years back. 

 

~

 

Kirk Adamson. 

 

Adultery, rape, mistreatment of workers, currently attempting to encroach his real estate business upon the Glades. Often found exiting an upscale club in Uptown. 

 

Lucy sits on a fire escape and waits. 

 

He’s nearly drunk and dragging a young woman who has clearly had too much with him. 

 

Her aim is steady. 

 

“You have failed this city,” she murmurs, letting the arrow fly. 

 

Kirk Adamson is pronounced Dead on Arrival as Lucy slips back into Mommy’s old room.

 

She washes her face, returns what she took, and crawls into her nest. She sleeps far into the next day and wakes up sore. 

 

The next night is Laura Brewer. The night after that is James Hawke. Louise Jameson.

 

Each of them failed the city.

 

Daddy finds out, of course. He recognizes the arrows, the aim. 

 

“It’s what Mommy wanted to do!” She defends herself when confronted. “Mommy wanted to cleanse the city! But he can’t, so I’m gonna do it for him! I can-”

 

She’s cut off by his sudden hug.

 

“Damn it kid,” he chokes out. “I wanted better for you.” He had wanted so much more for her. But she had been born into blood and violence, had been nursed on mirakuru. The blade of a knife had been her teddy bear. 

 

Daddy couldn’t get back the years stolen from them both. He couldn’t teach her how to read  or walk, to coax her into saying “da-da”. Those years were gone, never existed. 

 

But he could keep her from getting caught. Could prepare her for what Grandfather had started, what Mommy wanted to do. So he pieces together an outfit of black and green leather, helps make her a proper mask and more arrows, better arrows, each tipped in green. Her hood is Yao Fei’s, left on Mommy’s bed. Aunt Shado’s silent way of approving. 

 

Daddy braids her hair back tightly, tucks its end beneath her jacket. He kisses her forehead and sends her out after Andy Haoker, gun runner and mafia man. 

 

~

 

There are others. Others found with an arrow found in them. 

 

A man stalking a woman in an alley. A woman with her hand down the pants of a drug addled fourteen year old boy. An old man with a swastika tattooed on his arm. None of them were on the list, but they deserved what they got. 

 

Daddy is always waiting up for her when she returns, worried but proud. He brushes her hair out, gentle as he can be as the sun rises over the Queen estate.

 

 

The Archer debuts over the next month. Some call her The Archer, or just Arrow. But eventually The Archer is the most common name. Lucy likes to read the papers, see what they say, and what people feel. 

 

Some are afraid, mostly the upper class, the people on Grandfather’s list. The Glades rejoice. Finally, someone is showing the rich and powerful that there are consequences. 

 

Grandmother Moira insists on hiring more security. Daddy argues when John Diggle is assigned to them, that they can protect themselves. The argument gets loud enough that Aunt Shado doesn’t protest when Walter takes her for a drive into the city. 

 

John Diggle becomes a presence when she and Daddy go anywhere outside the estate. He is there when she’s dropped off for her first day of school and there again when she’s picked up. He talks to her in a soothing voice when he sees how angry she is at the other kids for what they called Mommy, for the things they say about Daddy. John, at least so far as she can tell, is polite, and more personable than Aunt Thea’s bodyguard. 

 

~

 

The Archer does not go out every night. Some nights, she can’t bear it, can’t bear to touch the arrows Daddy makes for her the same way he made them for Mommy. Some nights, after school and homework and more fighting between Daddy and Grandmother Moira and Aunt Thea, all she can do is crawl into the nest in Mommy’s room and lay in the orange-leaves-vanilla scented piles. On those nights, she just wants Mommy, wants to return to before she was born, when she was safe and sound inside him. So she closes her eyes, breathes deeply, and pretends that Mommy will be home any minute.

 

 

But The Archer is still a vigilante, and that attracts other vigilantes. 

 

~

 

“Jesus Christ,” Flash says. “You’re a kid.” 

 

Archer bristles, eyes hard. 

 

“What are you doing here?” She growls, an arrow nocked. 

 

“Business.” Flash won’t stop eyeing the arrow. “Looking for some stuff that came from here into my city. Put some people in the morgue after they went berserk.” 

 

“If I help you, will you leave?” She asks, intent on getting him out of Starling as soon as possible. 

 

“I will.” 

 

~

 

Barry’s day job is full of death. Being a vigilante brings more. It’s given him a strong stomach for violence and murder. But there is something downright wrong about a 14 year old killing people so easily. Watching her aim and take down men three times her size while the scent of milk and infancy pushes its way through the blockers she wears. It calls to the omega’s maternal side, urging him to draw the pup into his arms and nurse her. 

 

But she isn’t his pup. Her bearer is dead and Barry can’t replace him. All he can do now is zip through the facility, taking down as many as he can, to save her hands from a little more blood. 

 

“Good god,” he mutters, returning to her side to pick up a beaker. “This stuff looks like it’s radioactive.”

 

“Wouldn’t surprise me,” Archer says tersely. Barry quickly puts it back. “Would explain a lot.” She’s radiating tension and anger and Barry wants nothing more to wrap his arms around her and soothe the hard lines of her shoulders. 

 

(Just because it’s a subsidiary of Queen Consolidated doesn’t mean she isn’t burning it to the ground in an awe inspiring blaze of flames that reek of burnt flesh and chemicals.)

 

Barry and Archer watch from a distant rooftop, the flames occasionally spiking green or blue, from heat or chemicals, he can’t tell. 

 

“Time for you to go,” she says after awhile. “Case closed.” The mirakuru supply for Central City is gone now, for awhile at least. Barry has no reason to stay. No reason except her and how his instincts yearn to care for her. 

 

“Wait.” He very nearly grabs her arm as she steps away. “Can I -” he presses his lips together. “God, you’re so fucking young,” he finally chokes out. His scent, distressed omega and lightning, finally breaks his scent blockers. 

 

She hasn’t been around too many omegas, he realizes, watching her shudder and jerk forward like she wants to touch him. At least, not any personal relationships. Watching her go into a tailspin of confusion and fear over her reaction to his scent doesn’t help his own distress. 

 

So he yanks his cowl off and pulls her into his arms, rubbing her shoulders, soothing her and himself. Feeling her shake is like when he fell apart in Joe’s arms after his father’s sentencing. But instead of an alpha’s comforting rumble and warm scent, all he can offer her is an omega’s sweetness and soft coos. 

 

He takes her home, following her mumbled directions and has to whisper “what the fuck?” when he sees where she lives. 

 

Just inside the gates, he kneels down, gently prying off her mask when she gives the go ahead. And god, his heart aches even more. She’s still got baby fat on the curves of her cheeks and eyes that are just a little too big for her visual age. His fingers shake when he touches her jaw. 

 

“Call me,” he finally says, pressing a scrap of paper with his personal number into her hand. “Anytime you need me. Flash or Barry. I’ll come running,” he promises. 

 

She nods, mute, blue eyes following him as he stands, pulling his cowl back on.

 

“Lucy.”

 

He twists around, looking back at her. 

 

“My name is Lucy. Lucy Queen.”

 

“Barry Allen,” he smiles. Then he zips off, leaving her under her bedroom window.

 

When he gets home to Central, he groans. She pulled at his instincts so much that his body insists on lactating. It thinks she’s an abandoned pup that still needs to be fed by an omega. 

 

It’s nearly right. 

 

~

 

Daddy’s off fighting with Grandmother Moira again. Aunt Thea is still out, having left last night with nary a word about her return time. Aunt Shado is hiding in the stables. Walter is already at the company. John is waiting for her to finish getting ready. And Lucy wants something that she can’t find in the manor. 

 

The paper with Barry’s number crinkles in her palm as she dials. 

 

“Barry?” She’s hesitant, worried she’s being a bother. “It’s dumb but… can you come help me with my hair?”

 

Barry is there once her window is open. 

 

She’s never done this before. Never sat on the floor, an omega brushing her hair out, nimble fingers weaving her dark hair into careful braids. And Barry has never settled a pup on the floor between his knees and brushed their hair in long, simple strokes, smoothing curly strands into a manageable mass before plaiting them into a braid. 

 

This is a first for both of them. Such a gentle first that Barry doesn’t even mind the scent of another omega clouding the room. Letting her pretend doesn’t hurt very much. Only a tiny sting in his heart, telling him that this pup will never be his, not so long as the ghost of her bearer still lingers in a cloud of orange-vanilla-leaves. 

 

But the sting is easy to ignore and soon he reaches the end of her hair, tying it off. The urge to kiss her forehead and hand her a lunch box before sending her off to the school bus is strong. Such a dumb, old fashioned instinct but one he feels nonetheless. Instead he just smiles at her and speeds off to work once she’s left the room, huddles over a microscope, and then speeds home at lunch to get a bandeau to wrap around his chest. 

 

She’s not his pup and he’s not her bearer, he keeps reminding himself. That doesn’t stop his body from producing milk for her, to sate the chemical edge present in her scent that’s still soft and milky like an infant, like she should be. 

 

In bed, Barry closes his eyes and mourns. 

 

~

 

Lucy is either years or days off from presenting. Her body doesn’t understand itself, caught between infancy and puberty. Her scent screams that she is a child that needs an omega to nurse her. Her body says that she is on the cusp of presenting. The confusion drives her nuts. 

 

Sometimes she can smell everyone and their presentation and what they ate for breakfast and it makes her head ache

 

“An alpha’s nose,” Daddy says proudly when she tells him. “You’ll present soon.”

 

Aunt Shado disagrees, thinking that such a sensitive nose indicates that she’ll be an omega. Then, of course, Grandmother Moira joins in and yet again, Lucy is pushed out of a conversation about herself. 

She wonders if her opinion matters and realizes no one actually cares. 

 

~

 

School is hell, even when her nose isn’t in overdrive. No one wants to talk to the Queen bastard. Teachers ask her the hardest questions. The administration watch her like a hawk, just waiting for her to slip up. 

 

The library is her safe haven. 

 

She goes to the nonfiction section and pulls down encyclopedias and textbooks. She pulls down history books and scientific journals. Books on math and marine biology and geography. When she can’t finish something in her hour of lunch, she takes it home, and soon a pile of books rests on her bedside table. 

 

Sometimes, she wants to crack, to shatter under it all. 

 

She’s The Archer, she’s a daughter. She’s a baby, she’s a teen. She’s a Queen, she’s a bastard. She’s an alpha, she’s an omega. 

 

Lucy wants to scream. 

 

~

 

Roy Harper is a jackass from the school three streets away, a Glades kid with a cocky smirk and no concept of when someone has been pushed too far until it’s too late. 

 

He likes to sidle up next to her when she’s waiting on the steps for John, to taunt her about her Mommy and Daddy. And she ignores him, settling herself into meditation like Aunt Shado taught her. 

 

But everybody snaps some day. 

 

~

 

It’s a day of too strong scents, fights at breakfast, difficult questions, and whispers about her family. And Roy says the wrong thing. 

 

“Take it back.” 

 

“What?” 

 

It’s the first time she’s ever said anything in return. 

 

“Take it back.” She looks at him, hard and firm. 

 

He laughs and that hits her in the wrong spot. So she hits him in the jaw. Roy is young, a few weeks out from having presented as an alpha. It still knocks him down even though he comes back swinging. What Roy has in build and young alpha rage, Lucy has in blood stained with mirakuru and training on an island named Purgatory. 

 

He’s soft under her fists and his bones struggle to hold up under her rage. 

 

“LUCY!” Daddy’s voice booms in her ears like one of the landmines. “ENOUGH!” 

 

John drags her off of Roy, cursing as she bites him and runs. 

 

Lucy runs. The streets of Starling are her domain at night and in the daylight, they’re so different. Where streetlamps once illuminated and guided, all she has now are her own senses, alpha and unfamiliar. 

 

~

 

The train station is hell on her, scents invading and pushing at her as she buys a ticket to Central with shaking hands. Even the emptiest car still needles at her, tears dripping to Mommy’s hoodie, her old “uniform”. 

 

(She carries it for comfort, bundled at the bottom of her backpack with a mask, a pair of leggings, and sneakers for emergencies. A collapsible bow and quiver were wrapped in it, now covered by her school clothes.) 

 

~

 

Central City is as bad as Starling in terms of hitting her freshly made alpha senses. And it’s only as she’s stepping off the train that she realizes she only has Barry’s number, not his address. That’s fixed with a stop by a library and some breaking and entering at CCPD. 

 

Standing in front of his door, she contemplates turning back, finding somewhere to hole up, ride out these new senses and her grief. 

 

The decision is taken from her when the door opens. 

 

~

 

Barry can smell an alpha outside his door. It takes a few moments before he realizes it’s Lucy, reeking sharply of alpha and grief and stress, almost completely smothering the final traces of infant scent. He shudders at the pang in his chest, body insisting that he needs to nurse, to soothe her.

 

This time, he listens. 

 

Opening the door, he’s hit with a strong wave of her scent on top of seeing the blood on her knuckles, splashed along her cheek and neck, and the tears streaming from her eyes. 

 

His heart breaks. 

 

“Oh baby,” he says softly. 

 

“I didn’t-” she chokes out. “I need-” her hands flex, looking for something to latch onto and Barry is struck by how similar it looks to the videos he’s seen of newborns grasping at their parents fingers. 

 

He knows what she needs. 

 

~

 

He doesn’t dare use his speed to bring her to his room. Instead unbuttoning his shirt with his free hand, whispering to her in a soothing voice, promising her that it’s alright, that he’s going to help her. 

 

“Shh, baby,” he soothes, rubbing her back. “I’ve got you.”

 

She follows easily, confused and shaking as he undresses her in his bathroom, the tub filling and steam curling. He piles his softest towels in the sink and settles her in the water, leaving for a minute to build a nest in his bed even as her whines break his heart. 

 

“It’s ok baby,” he promises when he returns. “I’m here. I was just fixing something, that’s all.”

 

Lucy can’t stop crying as he washes the blood off of her, wiping grime from her cheeks. He washes her hair, back, legs. The water isn’t yet cold when he pulls the plug and tugs her out, wrapping her in towels. He dries her off and lays her in the nest, undressing himself. 

 

When he unwraps his chest, she lifts her head, nose twitching at the scent of his milk. It makes his heart break, wondering just how little she’s had in life if she looks this confused over the scent of an omega’s milk. 

 

“It’s ok,” he whispers, crawling in next to her. “I’ve got you.”

 

It takes her a few tries to properly latch and her teeth are a spark of pain that fades once she starts suckling. This is the closest to properly nursing she’s ever been and Barry doesn’t know this until months later. For now, he’s simply doing what comes naturally, soothing both of them in a facsimile of nest and infancy. 

 

She can’t angle her head properly to reach his other nipple once she’s drained the other, prompting a soft whine. So he arranges her on top of himself, guiding her head and helping her latch again. 

 

Once he’s fully drained, she falls asleep, curling up when he lays her down. It’s late when he finally checks the clock, and her dad will be looking for her, he knows. Loathe as he is to wake her, they both need to eat. She needs to call her family and he needs to know what prompted her sudden arrival. 

 

(And find out how she knows where he lives.)

 

When the whole story comes out, he holds her again. She even latches on, suckling despite no milk coming forth. It’s simply her needing the comfort of the action. 

 

She stays with him for the night, in the nest, his hands rubbing her back as she suckles. A bit of milk smears on her lips as she falls asleep mid pull and he leaves it, letting her have this peaceful night before the storm of morning.

 

~

 

Slade looks just like his daughter, except for their eyes. Lucy’s are blue, the sweetest blue Barry thinks he’s ever seen. Slade’s are hazel-brown, dark and deep, full of rage and concern as his hands flutter over his daughter. 

 

“She’s alright,” he uselessly promises. “Central is pretty safe.”

 

“If it was safe, you wouldn’t be necessary,” Slade spits, pulling Lucy closer. 

 

It’s safer than Starling at least, Barry wants to say. Safer than whatever hell Lucy was born in. But he’s not here as Barry or even as an omega. He’s here as The Flash, a scentless, casteless being. So he doesn’t fight back, he just stays silent. 

 

“Thank you,” Slade finally says, disgruntled. 

 

“Thank you,” Lucy echoes, softer. 

 

Barry smiles and leaves in a blur of orange light.

 

~

 

Lucy is grounded for a few nights. And suspended from school. She spends her time practicing meditation with Aunt Shado and going on drives with Walter. 

 

Tommy tells her that she did a good thing, defending Mommy like that. He sneaks her a bag of candy and a grin. 

 

He’s a good type, Lucy decides. No wonder Mommy liked him. 

 

~

 

School is different when she returns. The other kids are wary of her in a new way. They whisper about how she broke two of Roy Harper’s ribs and his nose. 

 

Part of her basks in the whispers, in the glances some of the omegas give her. It makes her feel powerful. 

 

But she still retreats. 

 

She returns to the library and reads, devouring periodicals, encyclopedias, even a dictionary. 

 

Lucy greedily absorbs everything she reads. She learns words that haven’t been used in years. She memorizes the names of countries. She can recite the periodic table. She knows the process of ore refinement. 

 

It helps her feel calmer, more centered. When she feels her rage bubbling, she can take a deep breath and recite facts. Things that never change. She recites definitions, how to make Greek flatbread, the process of fuel combustion. Things are settling in her body but she’s still confused in so many ways. 

 

~

 

With presenting comes rut. With rut, comes shifts in family dynamics.

 

Lucy refuses to sully what’s left of Mommy’s scent with her too strong alphaness. So she drags blankets and sheets and pillows to an unused bedroom two floors up, making multiple trips. Her rut is awhile off yet, what’s left of her baby chemicals still suppressing it even if her scent has changed. But best to be prepared. 

 

She fights with Daddy, spitting insults over the dinner table. She rebuffs Aunt Shado and Aunt Thea. Walter smartly stays clear of her ire, knowing to keep their tentative friendship away from whatever is bubbling inside of her. When Grandmother Moira tries to step in, Lucy laughs at her. 

 

If she was actually an effective alpha, then maybe her first husband and her son would still be alive. 

 

Daddy slams her to the floor for that one, hand still big enough to grab her wrists in one and pin her head with the other. It makes Lucy want to fight back. But she knows that this is not the time to do so. Instead, she goes limp, running when she’s let up. 

 

~

 

In the stables, she rests, watching the horses and the stable hands.

 

“Are you ok?”

 

He’s an omega, the same age as she physically appears. His scent edges on too sweet. Lucy wants to recoil from it when she should be leaning in. 

 

“I’m fine,” she finally says, prying her jaw open to speak the false words.

 

He hops up next to her, carefully balancing on the pile of blankets. “I heard the shouting,” he admits. “And I saw you running. My mother is one of the maids.”

 

Lucy drags her knees to her chest and tilts her head. “What did you hear?”

 

“Nothing specific. Just the volume.” He shrugged. “But I think everyone could smell the anger.” His eyes flick over her, across the curve of her biceps, the slant of her jaw. “So many alphas in one household. It must make for a lot of problems.”

 

Lucy can only grunt, knowing that bruises are blossoming under her clothes and she’ll have to hide her wrists on Monday. 

 

The omega waits, likely waiting for her to say something. Instead, she stares at a beam of wood, finding the grooves and swirls as she mentally recites the process of ore refinement backwards. When he finally gets the picture, he sighs and hops off his perch. “My name is Garret.” 

 

Lucy closes her eyes when he’s gone, his too sweet scent still in the air, like cotton candy. 

 

~

 

Her first rut is a month after she’s presented. School is spent with her jaw clenched so tight that she’s sure she might break a tooth. When she gets home, Daddy takes one whiff and tells her that she has maybe an hour before it consumes her. 

 

Lucy raids the kitchen. Protein bars, apples, bananas, and a few oranges piled high as she prepares. She isn’t sure if what she is craving is sex. Her body is demanding bruises, slam or be slammed on concrete. She shivers when she realizes that she wants to bite and scratch and claw at another alpha. The mirakuru, she tells herself as she paces. That’s why she wants the pain. Whatever is left of the hateful mix is warping her instincts. 

 

She does not want to consider that, perhaps, this is simply how she is. 

 

Devouring an apple helps the strange ache in her jaw. Mimics the clench that would bring weaker alphas down. 

 

Lucy can just see it, a neck with her teeth imprinted at the nape, bowing in submission. 

 

The idea of another alpha baring their neck makes her shiver. Makes her thighs clench. It’s an intoxicating image and not one she should be craving. 

 

She tries. 

 

Tries picturing an omega, sweet and open. Their hips slim and waiting for hands to grasp. 

 

It doesn’t do anything. 

 

What really makes her give in is the idea of forcing down another alpha, of making them bare their necks and lift their hips to show their belly. The other alpha doesn’t have a face, but they have a masculine form. They have defined abs and strong thighs. 

 

She shudders, rocking against the pressure of her own hand. There’s a soft gush of liquid and for a moment, she thinks it’s urine. Then a half remembered sex ed lesson and further thinking brings to mind passages from biology books. 

 

It’s not urine. 

 

It’s sticky and wet and her jeans are gross now. 

 

~

 

Lucy has never thought much on mirrors. They show no secrets. They just show skin. They show dark hair, like her Daddy’s. Skin, forever amber no matter how much or how little sun is cast on it, also from Daddy. Blue eyes are her only piece of Mommy. 

 

She has scars, of course. Nicks and slices, a graze or two of a bullet. 

 

Her tattoos are the only choice that she’s gotten to have in her body. 

 

Chinese characters trace up her side. Mommy’s name, Lian Yu, strength, and ox. A dragon in watercolor curls over the back of her right shoulder. The Bratva star rests on her left shoulder, above her breast. The dark green ink is comforting. She chose Bratva, and Bratva chose her back. 

 

~

 

China, last year

 

Amanda Waller seems to think Lucy is an errand girl of some kind. Sending her out for coffee or assassinations. There is no in between. 

 

This time is assassination. 

 

Yuri the Bear. A member of Bratva and a leader within it. 

 

She follows him. 

 

He gives money to a boy begging in the streets. He buys dumplings from a vendor. He gets groceries at a tiny shop on the corner, leaving before they can give him his change. 

 

His apartment is sparse. 

 

There are pictures of a place Lucy has never seen before on the walls. An ornate cross rests on a bible. A gun lives within its pages. The fridge has no alcohol, nor do the cupboards. She finds cereal, a few leeks, and a packet of dehydrated noodles. 

 

Bratva wants to connect to the Chinese markets. For guns and opium. Bratva does not deal in people. They find it distasteful. They do not trade in sex or the selling of it. They protect the neighborhoods they dwell in. 

 

Bratva is pack. 

 

Lucy wants this. 

 

When Yuri comes home, it is to Lucy stirring the noodles and leeks. He is calm as he puts what he bought away, no protests arising as she adds broth and carrots to the pot. Two eggs and two slices of ham soon follow. 

 

She, of course, takes the first bite. Yuri follows suit, sharing the meal with her in silence. 

 

“You come to kill me?” He asks, chopsticks resting on his napkin. 

 

“I had.” She finishes off her ham. 

 

“You are tiny. Only a child.” There’s traces of anger in his words. 

 

“You think it an insult?” Lucy pokes at her egg. 

 

“I think children should be children. Does your mother not protest?” He gently raps her fingers with one of his sticks and she stops playing with her food. 

 

“He’s dead.” 

 

“I am sorry.” He crosses himself. 

 

Lucy copies the movement. 

 

“My pack is small. Too small. Under the thumb of those more powerful.” She meets his eyes and can see his dawning realization. “I want a bigger pack. I want to go home.” 

 

~

 

Bratva does not change for her. They ask her to kill. They ask her to take a knife to the back. They ask her to cast off a name she does not have. 

 

The tattoo is what she looks forward to most. 

 

To be marked as belonging, as pack. 

 

Between tasks, Yuri teaches her Russian. He strikes her knuckles with the large end of a chopstick for each mistake and rewards her with nothing for each accomplished word or phrase. 

 

“Fluency is key,” he says a dozen times each lesson. “Again.” 

 

His methods work. 

 

While her accent - some strange mix of Australian and Chinese - is there, her words, her rhythm, are solid. 

 

~

 

Yuri gives her two gifts before she leaves. 

 

Her Bratva star, and a burner phone. 

 

“If needs must,” he says, leaving her to wonder if he means Bratva’s needs, or her own. 

 

~

 

Amanda is furious at what she deems a betrayal. Lucy reminds her that she was never officially hired or trained as a proper agent. She is a dirty little secret that Amanda doesn’t want reaching the top. And Bratva will not take kindly to its smallest pack member being killed. 

 

Lucy walks out of the warehouse with funds for a flight to America and a promise to never see Amanda again. 

 

(Daddy is less angry about the mafia than he is about the tattoos.) 

 

~

 

Lucy wonders what her schoolmates would think of the tattoos. It would likely only add to their questions. 

 

She wonders what Mommy would think. 

 

~

 

Her rut lasts three days and she is absolutely starving when she finally emerges. 

 

John laughs when she calls him and demands a whole pizza for herself. But he obliges and throws in cheese breadsticks, a two litre of soda, and brownies without her asking. 

 

“First ruts can be brutal,” he says as he watches her eat. “But I hear suppressants before a first can throw the body out of whack.” He’s a beta and has no experience with ruts. Lucy is grateful for this. His scent is neutral, easy on her nose after the harshness of her own and her family’s. 

 

When he mentions a body out of whack, Lucy wants to laugh. Or scream. Or both. Her body has been out of whack since she was three months old and it’s not likely to stop any time soon. 

 

~

 

A week later, Daddy hands her a bottle of white pills. Basic, over the counter suppressants. 

 

Lucy pops one in her mouth each week and feels her blood turn to chemicals. 

 

~

 

Maybe it’s just wormed into her DNA. But every time Lucy spins a globe, without fail, her finger unerringly comes to rest on Lian Yu. She sits at Mommy’s desk and spins it, over and over again. She taps the spot where Lian Yu should be and imagines that she can feel something beneath her fingers. 

 

They need to fix the globes. 

 

So Lucy gets some glue and dabs in the rough shape of the island. 

 

She does this until it’s somewhat how it feels like it should. Then she paints it yellow and green. 

 

~

 

Detective Lance doesn’t like her very much. He looks at her and sees mistakes. He sees Sarah and Oliver and a thousand things unsaid. He sees another Queen that will get someone he loves killed. 

 

When he looks at The Archer, he sees danger. He sees someone that doesn’t understand the law. 

 

He can’t fathom that she’s only trying to help. 

 

 

“Lucy?” 

 

She looks up from the globe, finger tapping over the little spot she’s created to mark Lian Yu. 

 

Thea hovers in the doorway. 

 

“Got a minute?”

 

Lucy nodded. 

 

“Come on. I wanna show you something.” 

 

Thea takes her out back, away from where she and Aunt Shado and Daddy usually train, to a pair of graves. One is for Grandfather Robert. 

 

One is for Mommy. 

 

“I used to come out here and talk to him,” Thea admits, standing at the foot of the grave. “When our mom went silent, and I needed someone to hear me, I would come to him. When we were kids, he was the only one who would listen. Even dead, he’s still the best listener in this family,” she laughs. 

 

Lucy smiles sadly. 

 

“When Oliver was fourteen, after his first heat, Mom freaked,” Thea continues. “Thought he had somehow gotten pregnant because she caught him looking up baby names and stuff like that. He said he was preparing. I used to hear him talking to himself, pretending he was already a mom. He had lists of things he wanted to tell you. There’s a scrapbook somewhere with things he printed off the internet, advice and cute stuff like that. It’s probably in his dresser, or maybe the attic.” 

 

Lucy closes her eyes. 

 

“The coffin is empty.” Thea can’t stop. “Both of them. Did Slade give Oliver a funeral?” 

 

“Yes.” Lucy stares at the engraving of Mommy’s death year. It’s off by three. “Daddy used to take me to the rock pile each night. To talk about my progress and what happened during the day. Before we came here, we went back to say goodbye. Daddy cried.” 

 

Aunt Shado never cries. Lucy wishes she could shut down like that. 

 

“If you ever need to talk to him, maybe you can come out here.” 

 

Thea leaves with that, and Lucy is left with emptiness. 

 

~

 

The Archer needs a space. Daddy is talking about moving to the city, to get out from Grandmother Moira’s anger. 

 

In the Glades, there’s a Bratva cell, under the guise of a garage. There’s also an old Queen Consolidated warehouse that stands empty. 

 

Lucy spins a globe in geography class and lets her thumb come to Lian Yu. 

 

~

 

School is tiring. 

 

Lucy sits back in class, crosses her legs, and corrects the teacher when they mispronounce  Chinese. School is five blocks from the Queen Consolidated space, and seven from the Bratva garage. 

 

“Don’t bother picking me up,” she says to John one morning. “I want some time in the city, by myself. Shopping.” 

 

“Shopping,” John repeats dubiously. 

 

“Shopping.” 

 

~

 

Apparently, Roy Harper enjoys hanging out in abandoned buildings. 

 

“The fuck are you doing here?” 

 

“This is my family’s building.” She starts tugging her school jacket off. “I can come here if I want. You’re the one who’s trespassing.” 

 

“It’s technically abandoned.” Roy takes a drag of his cigarette as he watches her unbutton her shirt. “What’s with the striptease?”

 

“I’ve got business. Can’t do it in a school uniform.” 

 

“What business does a Queen have in the Glades?” 

 

There’s no way she can take her shirt off without him seeing her tattoos or her scars. So she just strips it off. 

 

“Holy fuck…”

 

The dragon on her shoulder sneers at Roy. 

 

He’s accomplished at moving quietly, she’ll give him that. But that doesn’t give him the right to touch her. 

 

Roy yelps when she drops him, getting her knee above his groin. 

 

“Don’t fucking touch me,” she snarls. 

 

Roy doesn’t know when to quit. He swings his weight against her. It puts him over her until she brings her knee against one of his kidneys. 

 

Flipping them into a scrabble of low blows and snapping teeth, Lucy is well aware that he’s seen up her skirt, even if he’s distracted. Just as she’s caught the pressure of his cock against her hip, belly, leg. 

 

This. 

 

This is what she had craved during her rut. She scrapes her nails over his cheek and he nearly headbutts her. Tussling with Roy is absolute heaven and hell. She’s letting him get blows in and her ribs are starting to protest. 

 

The mirakuru that stains her is boiling, demanding to take action. 

 

Listening is easier than fighting it and forcing her instincts to submit. So she gets Roy to instead. 

 

With a snarl, she pushes Roy onto his stomach and sits on him. The back of his neck isn’t covered by the collar of his shirt and it is just begging for her teeth. For once, Lucy wishes that she actually used the stuff Aunt Thea keeps giving her. To see her bite, her mark, outlined by red would be beautiful. 

 

But for now, just sinking her teeth in is pure bliss. 

 

She feels him stiffen before completely going lax. His scent goes from rage and lust to submission. Releasing his neck, she takes a few moments to lick the mark. She didn’t draw blood, but it was close. If she wanted to permanently keep him under her, she would have. But that’s not what this fight is. 

 

She lifts herself and he turns, looking at her with pupils blown so wide she can hardly see any of the green. When he surges up, she lets him push her down. He doesn’t bite, he’s not an idiot. Instead he kisses her. Hard and breathless. His hands are warm and the concrete is cold. 

 

A single word, and she can stop him. Hell, she doesn’t even have to speak. She can just put a hand on the bite and he will completely freeze. 

 

She doesn’t stop him. 

 

She doesn’t stop him when he slides her socks down. She doesn’t stop him when he tosses his shirt off and moves her onto it. She doesn’t stop him when he pushes her skirt up. 

 

She doesn’t stop him through any of it. 

 

Alphas can’t knot one another. But they can still fuck. 

 

That’s exactly what they do. There on the concrete of Queen Consolidated’s old warehouse. Things are moved just enough for the right parts to connect and Lucy bites his shoulder when he pushes inside. 

 

It’s rough. But Roy kisses her, and that makes it easier. 

 

~

 

When it’s over, he lays on top of her, his head just below her breasts. He traces the Chinese decorating her side. 

 

“What’s this one?” 

 

“My mother’s name.” 

 

His fingers are still warm on the cooling sweat as he works his way over the characters. 

 

“This one?” He carefully traces his pinky over the character second from the bottom. 

 

“Ox. My zodiac sign.” She slides her fingers through his hair. 

 

“Why do you have these?” He touches the bottom character. 

 

“Reminders. Of who I am. What I am made of, where I come from.” She is made of spilled blood and mirakuru. Her bones are the rocks that cover her mother’s grave, and the sticks Daddy used to build her cradle. 

 

Roy shifts, resting his chin on his wrist as his other hand reaches for her Bratva star. 

 

She stops him before it gets that far. 

 

“I have to go.” 

 

He rolls off when she pushes. 

 

“Where are you going?” He kneels, pulling his shirt back on as he watches her. 

 

“Personal business.” She finally pulls her skirt off and leggings on, throwing a green hoodie over it. It’s thinner, tighter than the one she originally used. But this isn’t for concealing anything more than her body. 

 

Someone is killing her targets with curare laced bullets and she wants to know who. Preferably before it turns out that her family might be in the crossfire. 

 

A glance at her phone reveals five missed calls and a dozen texts. The clock says two hours have passed. 

 

Lucy turns it off. 

 

“Tomorrow,” she says, shoving the phone in her bag. 

 

“Here?” 

 

“Here.” She stuffs her clothes in her bag and leaves him in the warehouse, still on his knees, with scratches and bites hiding beneath his shirt. 

 

~

 

“Go home.” His gruff accent makes her want to smile. 

 

Ya ishchu Alekseya Leonova.” I am looking for Alexei Leonova. 

 

Zdes' nikogo net s takim imenem.” There is no one here by that name. 

 

Ne v garazhe. V Bratva.” Not in garage. In Bratva. 

 

That gets their attention. 

 

Lucy tugs her hoodie down to show them the star. 

 

~

 

“Apologies. We meant no disrespect to Bratva captain.” The old man murmurs. He pours her a shot of vodka as they stand in the basement of the garage. 

 

“I am unusual Captain,” she waves it off. The shot goes down easy. 

 

“We will help, of course.” 

 

“Need a name. The name of the hitman that uses curare bullets, 7.62 mil.” 

 

“We do not use such men.” He scoffs and pours another shot. 

 

“He isn’t under Bratva orders. Not this time. But he has been,” she accepts the second shot. 

 

“I will look. And look into you.” He finally agrees. 

 

“And if I come back wrong?”

 

“Then I will kill you and your whole family.” 

 

Lucy downs the shot and hands it back. “That,” she says. “Would be tremendously ambitious of you.” She bows, and leaves. 

 

~

 

“Ms. Lucy!” Raisa looks a little frantic when she finally returns home. “Mr. Tommy and Ms. Laurel are in your mother’s room.” 

 

Her eyes narrow. 

 

“Raisa, please make this.” She calmly hands the woman the food she bought while she was out. “Beef bullion, cubed ham, lots of green onions. The rest of the instructions are on the package.” 

 

 

Laurel and Tommy don’t notice her until the boards creak. 

 

“Lucy, we - I-” Laurel tries to stammer. 

 

“Get. Out.” 

 

“Lucy-” Tommy steps forward a little. 

 

“Get the fuck out.” Lucy’s jaw sets. 

 

“There’s no need for that-” 

 

“I’m Lucy fucking Queen,” she snarls. “I can say whatever the hell I like in my own fucking house. Now get the fuck out of my mother’s room, and stay out of this fucking house. I didn’t care that my mother’s best friend and his ex were screwing but you crossed a line by bringing it into his room.” 

 

Both of them look down and away, ashamed. 

 

“So go take your pity fucking out of my mother’s room and stay out of this damn house.” 

 

“C’mon Lucy,” Tommy reaches out and she holds his wrist at an angle to break it. 

 

“I believe my granddaughter told you to leave, Mr. Merlyn.” Walter says from the doorway. “And you, Ms. Lance. Now do so before I have to resort to calling the police.” 

 

Laurel bows her head and obeys. Tommy opens his mouth, smartly closes it, and follows. 

 

Lucy closes her eyes. 

 

“What would he have done?” Her voice cracks. 

 

“Oliver and I weren’t the closest, but knowing him at the time, he would have made a dirty joke about it. Or gotten angry and tossed them out.” 

 

She gives a hollow laugh. 

 

“Come on.” Walter gently tugs her arm. “Let’s go for a drive. There’s something I think you should see.” 

 

~

 

Walter types the code in and Lucy loses her breath at what’s inside. 

 

“Your grandmother had it salvaged. God knows why. But it’s here.” 

 

“Can I-?” 

 

This is the boat that ended Mommy’s normal life. This is the reason she exists. 

 

“Be careful.” 

 

The inside reeks of sea and rust. The wood creaks ominously under her feet. A bottle rolls across the floor, empty. The remains of glass and crystal decanters delicately chime. 

 

Everything is wrecked. Except for one bottle of champagne. 

 

Sealed, labeled with Mommy’s birthday and year. No doubt saved for a special occasion. Why it was on the boat, Lucy isn’t sure. She looks, and has the insane urge to smash it. 

 

“I’m surprised anything survived,” Walter remarks when she presents it to him. “Let’s keep this between us, for now.” 

 

He buys something cheap on the way back and swaps the bottles in the bag. 

 

“Keep this in your room.” 

 

Lucy hides the bottle in the room she spent her rut in. 

 

Later, on one of their drives, when she’s silent, he looks at her. 

 

“Bottles like that are for big occasions. Perhaps, for your birthday, you and I can crack it open and remember.” 

 

Lucy stares out the window, numb and unseeing. “Maybe.” 

 

If she makes it to her next birthday.

 

~

 

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurst. 

 

Lucy isn’t a fan of the classics. Even less so when her teacher is making them listen to her read it aloud in the most boring voice possible.

 

Their minds were on the storm but their eyes were watching God.” The teacher reads and Lucy is struck. 

 

Was that what happened the night of the storm? The night Sarah Lance died. When her Grandfather died. 

 

When they got to the raft, had Mommy huddled with Grandfather Robert, staring at the storm, looking past it to God, asking him for mercy? Had Grandfather asked God to forgive him before burdening Mommy with the list, with the city’s fate? Before Mommy died, had he looked into a storm and asked God for mercy on her? 

 

“Ms. Queen?” 

 

Lucy looks up and sees everyone looking at her. 

 

“May I go to the bathroom?” Her voice cracks. 

 

“You may.” 

 

Lucy nearly runs once she’s in the hall. Stumbling into the bathroom, there’s three girls, one holding a baggie of green pills. 

 

“Out.” She hisses, clutching at a sink. 

 

“Are you ok?” One of them squints at her. 

 

“Out.” 

 

“You’re Thea’s niece-” one of them starts. 

 

“OUT!” Lucy nearly screams. 

 

That gets them scrambling for the door and she’s left clutching a sink, struggling for air between sobs. 

 

“Lucy?” 

 

One of the girls must have gotten ahold of Thea. 

 

“What’s going on?” Lucy stares at how pale her knuckles have gotten from clutching at the sink. “I can’t breathe.” 

 

“Shit.” 

 

A cold and wet paper towel is placed on the back of her neck and Thea is nervously fussing. 

 

“I think this is a panic attack,” she says, frantic. “Did you take something?” 

 

“I’m not a fucking druggie like you!” Lucy snaps, now staring at the drain. “I didn’t take shit!”

 

Thea pauses, hurt. “That’s not - never mind. Come on, you’re going home.” 

 

She drags Lucy out of the restroom to the front office and hassles the receptionist into calling her Daddy. Sitting there, staring at the rain that’s begun, Lucy can only wonder more about the last things her Grandfather may have thought, about what Mommy thought as he huddled on the raft, next to his father’s dead body. 

 

~

 

The car ride home is tense. Even more so once Lucy realizes they aren’t heading back to the manor. 

 

“Where are we going?” 

 

“New place. We’re staying in the city.” 

 

“Can’t stick it out in the manor anymore?” 

 

Slade takes a deep breath, hands tight on the steering wheel as a light turns red. “Lucy, it’s what’s best for us.” 

 

“Says who?” 

 

“Says me. The manor isn’t home.” 

 

“It’s where Mommy is.” 

 

Slade pulls over at that. 

 

“Lucy…” he closes his eyes. “Your mother is where we find him. In things we see, in what we feel.” 

 

“I don’t feel a single fucking thing right now.” 

 

“Don’t swear.” 

 

“I’ll say what I fucking want to say!” Lucy slams the back of her hand on the window. 

 

“Enough, Lucy! All of it. No more of The Archer, no more of the list. Your mother wouldn’t have wanted this for you.” Slade tilts his head back, trying to prevent tears. 

 

“You can’t stop me!” Lucy bristles. “It’s my life!” 

 

“Yes I fucking can! I’m your fucking father!” 

 

“Then maybe do a better job because you’re pretty fucking shit at it!” Lucy throws the door open and storms away. She hears him shouting after her but she ignores it, moving deeper into the Glades. 

 

Her feet take her to the warehouse and she very nearly knocks right past Roy without seeing him. 

 

“Lucy?” 

 

He carefully touches her shoulder, apparently having learnt his lesson last time. 

 

“Inside. Now.” 

 

To Roy’s credit, he obeys. To Lucy’s, she doesn’t leave him hanging again. 

 

“Fuck me,” she says blatantly. She starts tugging at her jacket and shirt. The only extra clothes she has this time is her spare Archer outfit and she refuses to defile that with this. 

 

“Are you sure?” He’s following her lead though, unzipping his hoodie and tossing it to the floor. 

 

No, she’s not fucking sure. But she’s too angry to be unstable in front of him. She can’t slip like that, not with him. 

 

She kisses him instead of actually replying. 

 

This time, she’s on top. She keeps a hand at his throat, for reasons she doesn’t want to fathom. But the tips of her fingers can brush the fading imprint of her teeth still left over from the previous week. Roy seems to like that if his grip on her hips is any indicator. 

 

“Should have known you’d like this,” she mutters, pulling his lower lip between her teeth. “After what I fucking did to you, anyone else would have stayed away.” 

 

“I’m bad at doing what I should.” He tosses his head back and Lucy marks his neck some more. 

 

She knows how to kill him with her grip alone. She could also stop his heart without killing him. She is so dangerous that it’s unreal. And yet, Roy doesn’t see it. Roy looks at her and just sees another alpha that’s looking for someone to fight and fuck. Roy sees Lucy without the bloodiest parts of her. 

 

It would be terrifying if it wasn’t refreshing. 

 

When they’re done, and she’s laying on top of him, he traces her dragon. 

 

“You really like my tattoos,” she mutters. 

 

“What does this one mean?” He rubs the tip of his index over its snout. 

 

She shrugs. “Nothing.” 

 

“Nothing?” She can practically see his brow furrowing. 

 

“Not all of them need a meaning. I got that one because I wanted to.” When she had had one too many shots with Yuri and a few locals. Someone started showing off the work they had gotten and that had inspired her to lean forward and declare she wanted one just like it but in green. The next morning she woke up to greasy street food and a sore shoulder. 

 

“They’re sexy.” 

 

“They’re mine.” They’re not for his pleasure, they’re for her satisfaction. 

 

He goes quiet for a bit after that. 

 

“What time is it?” He doesn’t move except to trace up and down her spine. 

 

“It’s going to be dark soon.” In winter, that doesn’t make it late. Just dark. 

 

“We should move then.” 

 

Lucy shifts to look at his face. “You didn’t say we have to leave.” She kisses him again. 

 

~

 

Lucy eventually goes home, no longer the manor, but the penthouse of a building six blocks from the warehouse. She doesn’t speak to her father unless she has to. Nearly every day after school, she meets up with Roy. 

 

When she isn’t with Roy, she’s doing parkour, training herself with the city instead of the manor grounds. 

 

~

 

Weeks pass. 

 

~

 

Roy doesn’t show up. 

 

Lucy waits until nightfall before going and looking for him. He once mentioned that he could see the Queen Consolidated tower from his house. So she tugs on her gear and walks until she’s in a Glades neighborhood where she can see the tower and starts looking for signs of Roy. 

 

She tilts her head, thinking, perhaps wistfully, that she can almost catch hints of Roy’s scent. Except she can. 

 

Nostrils flaring, she tracks it to where it’s strongest, a house with lights on. 

 

Shrouded in darkness, Lucy nearly explodes with rage. Her scent blockers are pushed to their limits to contain her scent as she takes in the scene. 

 

Roy, on the floor, a hand raised in defense as a man with a belt stands over him. The blood on Roy’s face and arm tells her that the buckle has landed a few blows already. 

 

A woman watches, a hazy smile on her lips. Even at the distance she’s at, Lucy is sure the woman’s eyes are glazed over with drugs. 

 

Every bone in her body, the mirakuru, her instincts. They all scream to kill the man hurting Roy. 

 

She notches an arrow and lets it fly. 

 

Roy’s eyes go wide as the belt is suddenly nailed to the wall. The woman blinks as she notices the broken window. The man begins to shout. 

 

Lucy takes off. 

 

~

 

Roy is at the warehouse the next day. Quivering with excitement, the arrow in his hands. 

 

“Lucy!” He nearly shouts as he holds it up. “Lucy! I saw them! I saw The Archer! They were in my neighborhood last night!” 

 

“Roy.” All it takes is her hand on his wrist for him to calm down. “Slow down, rewind. What happened?” She takes the arrow. 

 

“I was at home and suddenly an arrow came flying through the window. Freaked my parents out.” He summarizes, eyes still on the arrow. 

 

Lucy narrows her eyes. 

 

“Roy, why weren’t you here yesterday?” 

 

The change of subject throws him off. 

 

“That’s not important,” he tries to brush it off and grab for the arrow. 

 

She holds it back. 

 

“Why did The Archer fire into your house?” She pushes. “It wasn’t random. That’s not their style.” 

 

Roy’s jaw ticks. 

 

Lucy reaches out and runs her thumb over his bottom lip, pressing against the split. He noticeably stills. 

 

“I know I didn’t do that,” she says softly, a hint of danger. “Now tell me the truth.” 

 

Roy meets her eyes, green chips of ice where she could only remember warmth and lust. 

 

“I’m fucking someone else,” he says, words thick. 

 

Lucy’s hand fits around his throat. “Tell me the truth,” she repeats. 

 

Roy closes his eyes. 

 

“My dad was standing over me with a belt. The Archer stopped him.” He unzips his jacket and drops it, then his long sleeve, then the tank underneath. 

 

Lucy has seen these bruises before. Mostly on herself. Sometimes on Daddy and Aunt Shado. But seeing them on Roy makes her want to go and kill his father. 

 

She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. 

 

“Is this why you weren’t here yesterday?” 

 

“Yeah. I skipped school too.” He tried to bend over but she stops him and picks the shirts up herself. 

 

“Come on.” She grabs his hand once he’s dressed. 

 

~

 

“Lucy, what are we doing here?” Roy hisses as they stand in the elevator of her new building. 

 

“My family owns three apartments in this place. I’m supposed to be in the penthouse.” She types in the passcode and pushes Roy first. “But my father and I keep fighting. So I come here when I need to cool off.” 

 

“I’m not fucking staying here.” Roy glares at everything. 

 

“I wasn’t asking.” Lucy slings her backpack to the floor. “Concrete floors aren’t good for bruises.” 

 

She drops her blazer and kicks her shoes off. 

 

Roy catches the hint and takes his jacket off. 

 

Lucy pulls him into a kiss, letting him cage her against the wall. They both lose their shirts in the living room, socks in the hallway, and Lucy pulls her skirt off in the doorway to the bedroom. 

 

Roy still has his pants and tank top. 

 

Lucy slowly peels it off of him. Catching his eye, she sits on the bed and tugs him in by the belt loops. Gently, she kisses his bruises. 

 

It’s still a fuck. But it’s gentler, for the sake of his body. 

 

He leaves once it’s over. 

 

~

 

The Archer doesn’t go out that night. 

 

Instead, Lucy goes shopping. She gets rope, blankets, and sheets, and takes them to the warehouse. There’s a bunch of wooden pallets in one of the back corners. 

 

She constructs a safe space. A place for them to fuck and maybe talk when they feel like it. The rope binds the pallets, keeping them in the box shape she’s made and ensuring the “roof” won’t fall. 

 

The sheets go down, then the blankets. 

 

When it’s done, Lucy is satisfied. 

 

~

 

Roy is sitting in it the next day. 

 

“What is this?” 

 

“Something that isn’t a stone floor.” She’s already unbuttoning her shirt and he’s hard in his pants. “I’m tired of the dry cleaners asking why there’s concrete dust on my clothes.” 

 

~

 

He likes to touch, even when they’re catching their breath. He likes to trace nonsense patterns over her breasts and stomach. Lucy doesn’t mind. Not even when he touches her Bratva star. She likes when he kisses her belly, thighs, breasts, all while looking at her from beneath his lashes. 

 

She doesn’t even mind when he stops in order to grab a cigarette. 

 

“Want one?” He holds it up with the hand that isn’t stroking her breast. 

 

“Never had it before.” She shifts to her side to look at him. 

 

“Three tattoos and yet you’ve never had a cig?” He snorts. 

 

Three tattoos (more if you count each character individually), hard vodka, the mafia, and yet she’s never had a cigarette. Lucy is surprised too. 

 

“Teach me.” 

 

He sits up and lights it, using the lid of a jar as a smoke tray. 

 

“Open your mouth.” His free hand rests on her upper thigh. “Breathe in.” He blows the smoke against her mouth and it follows the stream of air. 

 

She gives a tiny cough and he laughs. “Everyone coughs the first few times.” He takes a drag and taps the ash into the lid before passing it to her. 

 

They lay back down, passing the cigarette between them. Lucy discovers that she can blow smoke rings. 

 

Roy snorts. “Course you can blow rings,” he mutters with another drag. 

 

“It’s all a matter of tongue,” she smirks. “Want me to show you?”

 

By the time they finish, the cigarette has burned itself out. 

 

~

 

Ted Gaynor. Founder of Blackhawk Squad Protection. Military vet. A name on the list. 

 

“Ted Gaynor,” she growls. “You have-”

 

BANG!

 

Pain burns through her shoulder and blood stains her jacket. 

 

John stands behind her, gun in hand, pointing it at her. She recoils and slings an arrow into the computer. Smoke and sparks fly and Lucy flees. 

 

~

 

There’s a sealed off corner of the warehouse, one that Roy never goes near. Most of the time, he’s too busy to notice anything different. Lucy uses this, setting up some generators, a few lights, a computer, and some medical equipment. All of which was provided through Bratva with no questions. After all, Captains run into trouble often. 

 

But Lucy can’t call them for this. And she can’t dig the bullet out herself. 

 

“Roy,” she whispers into the phone. “Please.” 

 

~

 

When Roy gave Lucy his phone number, he had been hoping for nudes. Not a call at two in the morning. 

 

“Lucy?” 

 

Roy.” Something in her voice wakes him up instantly. “Please.” 

 

“Lucy, where are you?” He throws his covers back and starts looking for his jeans. 

 

The warehouse.” She gags and he hears something wet hit the floor. “Hurry.” 

 

“Lucy, stay on the line,” he urges her, shoving his socks and shoes on. 

 

Back corner,” she wheezes. “Diagonal. Code is 2-0-1-0.”

 

Roy pauses long enough to pull his red zip up on before sneaking out the back door and hopping the fence. 

 

“Lucy?” He whispers as he cuts down an alley. “Lucy!” 

 

Something clatters and Roy hangs up with a curse. 

 

~

 

“Holy shit.” 

 

Lucy squints up at Roy, sweat dripping into her eyes. 

 

“Roy,” she rasps. “Please.” 

 

Roy’s eyes are wide and his hands are shaking. 

 

“Lucy, what-” his eyes catch on the bloody gauze and he swallows hard. “What do you need me to do?” 

 

She gurgles out instructions one by one and Roy follows them with shaking hands. He looks at her face when he can, eyes wide. 

 

When it’s all over and done with, she’s messily stitched up, her hair is soaked with sweat, and Roy’s hands are wet with her blood. 

 

“Lucy.” He kneels next to her head, peeling her mask off with trembling fingers. “Lucy,” he repeats. “You’re The Archer.” 

 

Tears well up as she looks at him. 

 

“Please don’t hate me,” she begs, voice cracking. 

 

“Shh,” he soothes. “No, no no no no. I could never.” 

 

She looks at him, the most vulnerable he’s ever seen her. “Kiss me?” 

 

He kisses her, a simple press of lips. When he pulls back, she looks a little less terrified. 

 

“Roy,” she whispers. “I need you to call someone.” 

 

~

 

Barry is used to getting calls at weird hours. But it’s been almost a month since he last heard from Lucy. When her name pops up on his screen, he’s instantly worried. 

 

“Lucy?” 

 

No.” The voice on the other end is nervous. “My name is Roy. Lucy asked me to call you. Said you can help. We’re at 1125 Steel Way, Starling City. Lucy got hurt.” 

 

Barry is in Starling before either of them can say anything more. 

 

“Woah.” The boy’s eyes are wide. “You’re the Central City guy!” 

 

“Lucy?” He completely ignores the words and instead hurries to her side. 

 

“Barry.” She smiles up at him. 

 

“Oh baby,” he breathes out, grabbing unused gauze to wipe some sweat from her face. “What happened?”

 

“Went after a name. Got shot.” She tries to shift only to moan in pain. 

 

“Lucy.” Roy quickly darts up to her other side, kneeling. “Lucy.” 

 

“Need you to finish the job,” she continues, still staring at Barry. “Ted Gaynor. He failed this city. There’s a raid tonight. Armored truck heading for Starling Mulctuary. Ted’s crew is going to rob it.” 

 

Barry’s instincts scream that he can’t leave her. That his baby is hurt. But he looks at Roy and sees the way he looks at Lucy. She’ll be in good hands while he’s gone. 

 

“I’ll take care of it,” he promises, kissing her damp forehead. “I promise.” 

 

~

 

He he doesn’t hurt them, no matter how much he wants to for hurting his baby. Instead he ties them all up, leaves them and the evidence in the road by the armored truck, and races back to Lucy. It only takes him ten minutes. 

 

Zipping back to the warehouse, he takes a moment outside the little section Lucy’s set up. Pulling his cowl off, he takes a breath. The still silence is broken by a soft whisper of a song. 

 

I am a wanderer

I never needed anyone
But you've stopped me in my trackS

I like the way you scare me…”

 

Poking his head around the corner, Barry sees Roy in a chair next to Lucy. She’s been cleaned up a little, her jacket and shirt removed, blood wiped away from the shoulder wound. Roy’s hands are cleaner too, pink from how hard he scrubbed. Roy is carefully stroking her hair, gaze tender as he watches her sleep. 

 

You touch me and I

Fall apart…

Let the world melt away

Blur all the lines between love and the pain

Cause tonight is when I come alive...”

 

This boy is head over heels for Lucy. Barry would be worried if he wasn’t so struck by it. 

 

Alphas mating other alphas is something of a stigma. Omega/omega porn is at an all time high, but two alphas without a beta or omega between them is hard to find unless it’s amateur and blurry to keep identities safe. And what professionally done stuff there is is always violent and usually a hardcore BDSM scene. In media, two alphas in a relationship are always framed as needing an omega, or are soldiers of some kind, strictly using each other to alleviate stress until they can get an omega or have one at home. 

 

Barry had always thought that was stupid. Two people of the same dynamic could be happy, without a third to “balance things out”. Seeing Roy, an alpha, quietly sing to Lucy, another alpha, lovingly gaze at her, run his fingers through hair wet with blood and sweat, only solidifies this thought. She picked right with him, even if she did break some of his bones first. 

 

As he watches, Roy takes off the red zip up he wears and carefully places it around Lucy. He then sits back, just watching her and Barry supposes now is a good enough time to properly return. 

 

He zooms in and Roy jumps, eyes wide. 

 

“That’s so cool,” he whispers before shaking it off. “All done?” 

 

“Done.” He nods. “Lucy?” 

 

“She’s sleeping.” Roy fiddles with the zipper. “Sh-should I call her dad?” 

 

Barry hesitates. “I’ll do it. You should go home.” 

 

Roy hesitates too, looking at Lucy. 

 

“I’ll take care of her,” Barry promises, exuding soft omega pheromones. “She’ll be safe with me.” 

 

Roy gives in and Barry takes him home. Then he calls Slade. 

 

~

 

The alpha is intimidating in size alone. But the feral rage he exudes when he sees his daughter lying on the metal table makes Barry flinch out of pure instinct. But it’s sweet how delicately he handles her, how he zips Roy’s hoodie up to keep her warm and cradles her in a bridal carry out to the car. 

 

“She’s a tough girl,” Barry says, standing by the car. “She’ll be fine.” 

 

“We fought.” Slade looks exhausted. “The last time we truly spoke. Fighting about this,” he waves a hand. “I want her to stop. But she’s so hell bent on doing this because Oliver can’t. Says that it’s her inheritance.” 

 

Barry cuts off the snort fighting its way out. Of course Lucy would pick the vigilante vengeance over a trust fund. 

 

“Her heart is in the right place,” he says instead. “Maybe you should try and look at how everything has been going from her point of view.” 

 

Slade makes a noise that Barry takes as agreement. 

 

“Thanks for looking after her,” the alpha finally says. 

 

“Any time.” 

 

~

 

Lucy’s shoulder feels like it’s dislocated. But she can wiggle her fingers and pop her wrist, so it isn’t. Opening her eyes, she’s confronted by the white string and red hood of Roy’s favorite red zip up. Sitting up, she grimaces at feeling the pull of dried blood and bandages. 

 

She pulls the jacket off and strips off the pajama bottoms Daddy must have put her in before stumbling to the bathroom. She knows to keep the bandages on while she showers and change them after, but it’s always a pain to deal with soggy gauze. 

 

With a shower, she feels more awake. With changed gauze, she feels cleaner. Roy did a terrible job of stitching her up, but he was under duress. It’s no better than her own first few times. 

 

When it comes to dressing, putting his hoodie back on is tempting. But she forgoes it in favor of a t-shirt and shorts. 

 

Silently slipping out to the living, she’s confronted by her father’s back, sitting on the couch, her mother’s picture in hand. 

 

“It’s been awhile since we last talked,” Slade whispers, head bowed. “It’s been a hell of a year. I could use a few suggestions on what to do, or how to brush our daughter’s hair. She’s a hellion, you’d be so proud. I’m trying my best Oliver, but I still hear your voice in the echoes. All I’m left with is the question, where did you go?”

 

“He didn’t go anywhere.” Lucy tucks away the flash of pride she gets at seeing her father jump. “He’s just not where you’re looking.” She pads over and curls up with her head on his shoulder. “I think you both had very different ideas of what would happen when you left,” she says quietly. “Mommy was never going to give up the list.” 

 

“I know.” His voice is heavy with grief. “But I can’t help but wish that you will.” 

 

“I can’t.” It’s hers now. Her duty. Passed from Grandfather to mother and now to her. A silent legacy. 

 

Slade chokes out a laugh as he strokes her hair. “Your mother would be so proud of you.” 

 

~

 

He helps her set up a work out corner in the warehouse that day. A salmon ladder, a melee dummy, and a small sparring mat, to start. More will come later. But for now, Lucy is starving and exhausted. 

 

And she wants to call Roy. 

 

~

 

(Slade has just enough restraint to not ask why Roy’s scent is obviously so entwined with Lucy’s in the warehouse. That’s a conversation he isn’t ready for.) 

 

~

 

Roy’s zip-up smells like him. It’s comforting and a warm weight. She doesn’t bother putting anything else on, instead just pulling it around her after her second shower. 

 

Wearing it, she remembers that Roy hasn’t heard from her all day. 

 

You awake?

 

The response is almost instant, her phone lighting up with a call. 

 

“Lucy? Are you ok? Is your shoulder ok?” Roy seems to have a thousand more questions ready if the intake of breath is any indication. 

 

“I’m ok,” she promises, cutting him off. “My shoulder will be fine. I’m ok.” She wants to ask him to come over. She wants him to curl up next to her, to slide a hand beneath the red zip up and cup her breast, rub the delicate skin with the dry pad of his thumb. 

 

“Thank god,” he mutters. There’s a sound like sheets rubbing on blankets. 

 

“You’re in bed?” It’s only half past ten. 

 

“Yeah. Haven’t really left my room today,” he half laughs. 

 

She imagines that his room has clutter. Signs of a life. Knick knacks and clothes scattered about, shoes lopsided and separated. Then she feels guilty for no doubt sending him into a tailspin of worry and fear. 

 

“I’ll give your hoodie back,” she promises. “Monday.” 

 

“It’s my favorite. Don’t go stealing it,” he says lightly, teasingly. 

 

“Girlfriend’s rights,” she says without thinking. 

 

There’s a stammering, heart stopping pause. 

 

“Oh come on,” he eventually complains. “It’s a good look on me.” 

 

“Looks better on me,” she shoots back. 

 

“Prove it.”

 

Never let it be said that Lucy doesn’t take challenges to their most interesting end. She opens the camera and flips it around, takes her hair out of its near constant braid, and shifts to her knees, slightly spread. Her overhead light is off, but the string of mini paper lanterns strung above her provides halfway decent lighting. At the very least, it gives enough to show that the hoodie is all she’s wearing even if her hair is long enough to cover her breasts. 

 

Before she can consider her actions, she sends it to him. 

 

Listening to the groan he emits, she smirks. 

 

“Told you it looks better.” 

 

“Fuck you, Queen,” he groans. 

 

“Monday is only two days away.” 

 

There’s a muffled curse and she hears him moan as bed springs creak. 

 

“What are you doing?” She has an idea, but she wants to hear him say it. 

 

“The fuck do you think I’m doing?” He growls. “You’ve got me humping the damn bed like I’m in fucking rut.” 

 

Lucy smiles wickedly. “You say that like you haven’t ever touched a cunt.” 

 

Another growl reaches her ears and she lets out a laugh. 

 

“You’re a fucking tease, Lucy Queen.” He moans and it’s enough to make her slip a hand between her thighs. 

 

“You love it,” she points out, finding that exploring herself in this fashion is very different than the rough grind of her rut. 

 

“Fuck. Yeah, I do.” 

 

“Fuck waiting until Monday,” she suddenly decides. “Tomorrow. The apartment from last time.” 

 

There’s a strangled moan and the call disconnects. 

 

A text pops across her screen a moment later. 

 

It’s a picture of Roy’s hand, come puddled in his palm. 

 

See what you do to me?

 

Lucy sends him a picture of her inner thighs, and the wet streaks that track over the skin. 

 

All is fair in sex and war

 

~

 

She wakes up to her Daddy yelling at Grandmother Moira over the phone, something about her birthday. 

 

Lucy has to wonder why. Her birthday is still a mystery. Month and date. It’s only tracked when they realize how much time has passed. She tries to ignore the shouting and snuggles further down beneath the covers, the zipper of Roy’s hoodie pressing into her stomach, its metal warmed by her body. 

 

Between blinks of her eyelids, the sunlight changes and the yelling grows quieter. 

 

When she rolls over to look at her clock, it reads 11:26

 

This is the latest she’s ever slept, or even drowsed. 

 

A gentle knock sends the thought away and she lifts her head, grunting to let her father know she’s awake. 

 

There’s circles under his eyes and he looks haggard, his scruff untrimmed. 

 

“I have to go talk to your grandmother,” he murmurs, petting her hair. “I might be gone awhile.”

 

“My birthday,” she mutters. “When is it?”

 

“We compromised on after Christmas. There was snow on the ground when you were born,” he recalls. “I’m trying to convince her to put it off until January.”

 

Lucy rests her head on his thigh for a brief moment, closing her eyes as his hand smoothes over her wild black strands. “And Christmas?”

 

“She wants to throw a party.”

 

“Attendance mandatory.”

 

Slade snorts and presses a kiss to her head. “I’ll see you when I get back.”

 

~

 

Her phone has no alerts, so she messages Roy.

 

My place, 12:30?

 

Why not 12?

 

Just get here.

 

Wow, pushy.

 

Do you want the hoodie back or not?

 

I’ll be there soon.

 

Lucy rolls her eyes and tells him to head to the penthouse when he asks for the apartment number.

 

~

 

The stitches are nearly healed. 

 

Lucy frowns as she prods the area. It’s not unusual. She’s always healed extraordinarily fast. 

 

But Roy will see. He’ll have questions. 

 

A knock on the front door tells her that her time is up. 

 

Because she’s not stupid, she checks the eyelet to make sure it’s him. 

 

It is. 

 

Clad in his hoodie, a pair of pajama shorts, and a sports bra, her hair loose for once, Lucy opens the door. 

 

~

 

God, she is so fucking beautiful, is all Roy can think. She’s wearing his hoodie and hardly anything else. And her hair isn’t braided back!

 

The only time before the picture that he saw it loose was…

 

Was when she got shot.

 

Oh god

 

Roy swallows hard and steps inside, using his foot to close the door. 

 

Lucy just looks at him, breathing, scared, alive. He can tell by the way she curls her hands into fists and pressing her lips together that she’s biting something back. 

 

There’s a few things Roy could do right now. 

 

One, hug her. A good option. Not his favorite. 

 

Two, kiss her. A terrible option, he’ll start crying and he knows it. 

 

Three, kneel. 

 

She’s shown him her most dangerous secret, baring a weakness that’s akin to an exposed nerve. To kneel, to accept her as the more dominant alpha, would be to show weakness in kind. To grant her power over him, near unwavering obedience, is a weakness no alpha gives without considering all options. 

 

He has a fourth option. He can talk, break some of the tension. But what can he say? Is there anything to say? Do words even belong here? 

 

Roy looks at her and kneels. 

 

~

 

Lucy inhales as Roy’s knees hit the hardwood. He’s kneeling to her, placing power in her hands. It’s heady and terrifying. 

 

His forehead touches her left thigh, his hands cup the back of her knees. His lips brush against her skin. 

 

Her hands shake as she touches his hair and she’s nearly struck down by the trust she can see when he looks up at her. 

 

She can’t

 

Lucy chokes when she realizes it. 

 

She can’t do this on top of it all. Roy deserves an alpha that will not bend under all of what he is giving. And she is ready to break just from the offer. 

 

Trembling fingers touch his jaw in the only warning he receives before she hits the floor in front of him. 

 

“I can’t,” she whispers, fingers digging into his shoulders. “I’m sorry, please don’t leave me. I just can’t.”

 

Instantly, his arms wrap around her shoulders, pulling her closer. 

 

“I shouldn’t have asked,” Roy murmurs, practically cradling her. “I’m sorry. That was too much to ask of you. I wasn’t thinking straight.” 

 

God, were either of them ever? 

 

Lucy can’t focus on that right now. All she can think about is Roy’s scent, rain and smoke, and how his arms are strong enough to help lift some weight from her thin shoulders. 

 

If she is Atlas, then who is Roy? Does it really matter?

 

She buries her head in his shoulder and shudders through a sob. Roy pulls her onto his lap and cradles her. And god, he’s never realized just how fragile she truly is. Tiny, barely 5’2. But her walk, her eyes, they make her seem taller. When she enters a room, everyone looks. Nobody sees beyond her stance, her alpha presence. 

 

His hands are warm against her, even through the hoodie. Her hands are cold, clutching at his shirt. 

 

Roy closes his eyes and holds her tighter. 

 

~

 

When she finally finishes crying - has she ever cried for her loss? For her self? Crying out of physical pain was normal, but had Lucy ever cried for her own self? - she looks at him, lips trembling. 

 

“You would hate me if you knew everything,” she whispers, nails digging into his shoulders.

 

“I could never,” he promises, moving hair from her face. 

 

Lucy just looks at him, tired blue eyes haunted by more grief than Roy could fathom. Releasing her grip on him, she pushes the hoodie off her left shoulder, baring the wound to him. 

 

Roy looks at it. 

 

The skin is pink, messy black thread stark against it. Roy is no expert, but it doesn’t look two days old, it looks ready to come out. He doesn’t touch it, instead hovering his palm over it. 

 

“I’m not actually fourteen,” Lucy says. “I wasn’t born in Central City, and I’ve always known who my mother is.”

 

Sitting on the wooden floor, limbs tangled with Roy’s, barely dressed, her hair a mess, Lucy spills her secrets. She tells him everything, start to finish. From the mirakuru to the mafia to the list. Roy sits there and listens, hands on her thighs, eyes never leaving her face. 

 

When she’s done, her voice is hoarse. 

 

Roy looks at her silently, moments stretching into minutes. 

 

“Do you hate me?” She asks tiredly, leaning back against the wall. 

 

He hasn’t pushed her away, hasn’t gotten up and left. He just keeps looking at her, with those green eyes that she has only just now let herself admit that she loves. Gently, he squeezes her thighs.

 

Then he kisses her. 

 

It isn’t a goodbye kiss. Lucy isn’t sure what kind of kiss it is. But it’s gentle. 

 

“Thank you,” he whispers against her mouth. 

 

“For what?”

 

“For trusting me.”

 

He kisses her again, this time with more force, more drive. It’s a kiss Lucy knows. 

 

~

 

He’s gentle, like she was when his ribs were broken. But this isn’t like when that happened. His hands are gentle too, pushing the hoodie off, carefully tugging her shorts down. She takes off her sports bra as Roy kisses her legs, starting from her ankle and moving up.

 

He kisses like he’s worshipping her. Lucy doesn’t know what to do except clutch at the sheets when his mouth presses against her. 

 

This is new. 

 

~

 

When they’re done, mouths bruised, skin mottled red with bites and scratches, they lay there. 

 

Lucy is still shaking a little, tears drying in her hair. Roy’s cheeks are wet too, his face pressed against her stomach. She can feel faint tremors running through him. 

 

The sun is setting, turning her bedroom orange and red. Roy looks good in red. Whether it’s his hoodie, the lighting, or the marks she leaves. 

 

“What happens now?” She strokes his hair.

 

“That can wait until Monday,” he mumbles into her belly. “Let’s just exist for a little while.”

 

It’s a nice idea. 

 

Until the door opens. 

 

~

 

Lucy is never going to get over the utter terror and embarrassment of her entire family catching her and Roy in bed.Truly, she is going to die of it as she sits on the couch with Roy, her father pacing in front of them, ranting. 

 

Aunt Thea seems to think it’s hilarious as she stifles giggles from her spot by the fireplace. Walter is his usual placid self, only a vague quirk of his lips to convey his amusement. Aunt Shado seems more bored by the unending rant than anything. 

 

Grandmother Moira is very displeased, switching between rapidly typing on her phone and glaring at them.

 

“Daddy,” Lucy interrupts her father after awhile. “Are you done yet?”

 

“No! What were you thinking?!” He nearly yells, stopping in his pacing. “You are too young for this! And no protection to boot!”

 

“I highly doubt you’re one to talk about that,” Aunt Thea snorts. 

 

“Oh because deserted islands are-” he cuts himself off and Lucy sighs. 

 

“Daddy, he knows. I told him everything.”

 

“You what?!” 

 

Everyone winces from the shrillness of Moira’s screech. 

 

“I told him everything,” Lucy repeats calmly, pointedly holding Roy’s hand. “I owed him that much.”

 

“You owe him nothing!” Moira shrieks, standing up. “He’s just a Glades born-”

 

Oh hell no. Lucy sees red when she feels Roy flinch.

 

“Shut up!” She explodes, shooting up from the couch. “Roy knows me better than you do!” She throws the fact in her grandmother’s face. “He knows that I like red gatorade and non-fiction! He knows my favorite color is green and that I like peanut butter sandwiches and that I hate sleeping by myself and that I like Chinese EDM, he knows about the island and the slums and all of it!”

 

Her thin chest is heaving. 

 

“He might be from the Glades, but have you forgotten, Grandmother, that I was raised in slums too?” She spits. Zhejiang, the slum - well, not really a slum as America knows it, but a close equivalent - had been rough, especially for her, as a non-Chinese. It had been a place of poverty, but it was a place Lucy could recall somewhat fondly even so. With history in every stone and store keepers that knew her name, slipping her extra food when they could spare a little. 

 

“Too skinny,” they would say. “Won’t grow properly if you don’t eat more.”

 

Lucy suddenly craves roujiamo. The vendor nearest their old apartment always gave her a bigger portion of meat if she would deliver a few of them to nearby shops. 

 

Moira recoils at the reminder, having done her best to forget. 

 

“Is this truly about the Glades?” Lucy presses. “Or about his caste?”

 

There. The look in her eyes. Lucy knows she’s right. 

 

“It isn’t just a him thing,” she tells her. “I prefer other alphas.” 

 

~

 

The fight is long and exhausting, lasting well into the night. 

 

Moira keeps insisting that it’s the mirakuru. Lucy says that it isn’t. Everyone has an opinion. Roy says very little. 

 

It’s half past two when Moira, Walter, and Thea leave. 

 

Daddy and Shado retreat to the kitchen to talk more and Lucy stumbles to her bedroom, clutching Roy’s hand. 

 

“I’m sorry,” she murmurs, slumping against her door when it shuts. 

 

“Don’t be.” He sits on the bed. “Better now than later.” He looks as tired as she feels. 

 

“Stay the night?”

 

“Your dad will kill me in the morning.”

 

“He’ll manage.”

 

~

 

Slade spends the entirety of breakfast - ten minutes - glaring at Roy. Father’s rights, Lucy supposes. But it’s still annoying. 

 

~

 

Lucy has never used the salmon ladder much. But with stitches pulled, her shoulder needs a work out, it’s the best option for her. With each jump and exhale, she can feel her tense muscles flexing a little better. Sweat drips and Lucy feels alive. 

 

“Woah.”

 

She drops from the ladder, blinking at Roy. 

 

“What is that?” He looks faintly awed.

 

“Salmon ladder. Pull ups with a jump.” She pats herself a little dryer with a towel. “C’mere.”

 

Roy seems to know what she’s planning as he takes off his shirt and jacket. 

 

“Hands here.” She guides them into place. “Pull up.”

 

He carefully obeys and Lucy can see that, while fit, Roy doesn’t have much experience with this. 

 

“Again but with a jump.”

 

He only succeeds in pushing the bar up against the frame. Lucy shakes her head and makes him get down. 

 

“Feel how I move,” she instructs. He places his hands on her stomach and lower back. It’s oddly disconcerting and part of Lucy’s hindbrain screams that this is dangerous. 

 

She ignores it and moves upwards on the ladder. 

 

“Now you try.”

 

She places her hands on the same spots he did and smiles when he does it properly. 

 

“Keep going.”

 

He makes it all the way up and most of the way back down before his arms give out and he drops. 

 

“Better than I expected,” she praises, helping him stand. 

 

“Teach me,” he breathes, muscles trembling as he looks at her, pupils blown wide. “All of it.”

 

Her heart stutters with what he’s asking. To be apart of it all, of her world as The Archer. 

 

“Roy,” she says softly. “Are you sure?”

 

He kisses her, hard. 

 

“I’ve never been so sure of anything, except you,” he whispers. “I swear, I fell in love when you first punched me that day in the warehouse.”

 

Lucy isn’t sure when she fell in love with him, but she can’t deny him this. Her hands shake as she cups his cheeks. 

 

“Ok,” she whispers. “Everything.”

 

“Everything.”