He never tells anyone why he really started drinking- not even AA ; especially no one in AA- he can live with people thinking him an alcoholic, a young man living, arm in arm, with his own addiction, but he can’t- could never- living with people considering him crazy.
Even if, at the beginning, he honestly thought he was going crazy as well.
He was hearing voices- but neither of the ghost variety or the going crazy, multiple personalities, or whatever, sort of way. It was even more complicated than just voices: it was like one moment he was in his own lab, doing whatever he was doing, and the next one, he was still himself, and yet different, and he was somewhere else and with people he had never met- and yet people he had heard of (who didn’t know of Superman or Batman?) who, in this “dream” (or whatever it was) acted like they knew him.
Like he was their peer.
Like they were friends.
It didn’t take him long to understand he was losing touch with reality: and so, the drinking started. And for a short while, it went all right - until he was so far gone he was on the edge of oblivion, that close to commit suicide by Croc and he just had to stop drinking.
The first few days without alcohol were a nightmare; more than withdrawal, he feared the voices- those sensations- coming back; it wasn’t even the fact that he was “living” them to scare the hell out of Roy- it was how he felt in those scenarios, happy, carefree and all right in his own skin.
And then… then he met Jason, and he had to go through the damn process with his memories in the damn sect Jason had been part of when getting back to life, and memories – if they were memories to begin with (not that it was possible) resurfaced. And it all begin anew. Only… different: he wasn’t “shifting” any longer- it had more to do with sensations, with dreams, things he saw and people he would meet.
He would look at himself in the mirror, and look at his tattoos on his arms, and they would feel wrong- like something else was supposed to be there, something with an actual meaning- or he would mumble words in a language he didn’t know (one he wasn’t even sure it actually existed top begin with until he discovered it was Navajo).
Or he would woke up often in the middle of the night, screaming and kicking, vomiting his own soul, with an excruciating pain in his right arm, like burning flash devouring his very own self and there was no stopping it (sometimes, it would be so bad it was like a ghost limb- like he was missing his arm altogether).
Other times, it was people, or sensations- like seeing young fathers playing at the park with their daughters; he would feel pain and loss- like a ghost that wasn’t there, like something (or rather, someone) who was supposed to be there, wasn’t any longer- people could even see that look in his eyes, and one time, like she could have been able to read his soul, he remembered a woman telling him she was sorry for his loss.
Even if he had never lost anyone to begin with.
And yet… he felt like he did.
And then… then, at her side, he found peace. The day he met Donna- the day they told him he had been a Titan before- suddenly everything started to make sense. It wasn’t just those missing adventure- he knew there was something more to it. The more he stood with the guys- Dick, Donna, Garth and the others- the more those out-of-places experiences happened- and he was so damn scared, he feared that not even Lilith could help him keeping the bottle away any longer.
Until, along came Wally.
Wally who knew him like no one else did. Even if he didn’t know Wally to begin with. Wally who claimed to be his best friend.
Wally, who said that someone had stolen their world. Their lives - almost a decade of their lives.
And suddenly, he remembered- and it all made sense.
The Navajo tribe that had raised him after his father’s death- and the tribal tattoo he had gotten on his arm when out of the Reserve.
Being Green Arrow’s sidekick- Speedy- and getting lost in an addiction- drug, not booze – and Hal (Jordan- Green Lantern, Parallax, Spectre and Green Lantern again), Ollie’s best friend, and Dinah being there to help him out when Ollie kicked him out into the streets.
His daughter, Lian- a child born out of an illicit affair with the criminal Cheshire, a woman Checkmate had sent him to investigate.
Donna Troy- the love of his life, always dancing on the edge between life and death.
Leading the Titans. The Outsiders. And then, being asked by Hal and Dinah to join to Justice League- as Red Arrow. Falling for Kendra. And then the pain- the disappointment- when, despite all her words- despite his love - she got back to Carter.
And then… then, losing his arm to Prometheus -the same man who had caused the death of his daughter, slaughtering thousands in the destruction of Star City. And falling back into old habits.
Lian. He had lost Lian. Again- and this time, it wasn’t his fault. He couldn’t blame himself.
Roy didn’t know who had did it to them- but as Wally was telling them about everything, from the Flashpoint to the new world and The Presence- he swore that he would have found them. And he would have made them pay.
Someone had dared to take away the last thing he had of his daughter- his memories of her- and he wasn’t going to let them live.
They were going to pay. No matter what.
And then, and only then, they would have started thinking about how getting things back in order.