Disclaimers: Nothing here is mine.
Spoilers: Vague and not for Mark Waid's "Brave and
the Bold" mini-series, Zero Hour, Martin Pasko's
short in DC Comics Presents: Green Lantern #1,
Identity Crisis #4, and Green Lantern Rebirth #1.
Does *not* reference Rebirth #2-3.
Summary: Hal is his brother, and he's coming home.
Ratings Note: R.
Author's Note: Written for yuletide. Happy merry,
Acknowledgments: To LC, Prop, and Livia for
audiencing. *Major* props to Livia for whipping this
"So are you going to talk about it?"
There are a few ways to answer, even with Connor --
and even with Connor giving him the look that's
pretty much *all* about the fact that he knows
precisely what Ollie is thinking. He settles for "Wasn't
planning on it," and tests the edge on one of his
Connor has the grace for many things, including for
allowing him the privacy and quiet to perform
But Ollie can still feel Connor's eyes on him.
They -- his allies, his families, his friends -- are all
different. A mass of opinions and arguments and
decade-long feuds which tend to make Ollie have to
work to pretend irritation.
They wouldn't *be* in his life without such things,
after all, and Ollie's always been just fine with that.
He has no time for the bloodless -- and little
enough for the people who get off on *pretending*
He'd never lived in Gotham, and never wanted to.
Still, there's something he's pretty sure all of them
agree on, and it's pretty simple: why he deals so
well with Hal, considering... considering everything.
They look at him, and the ones who were around
back in the day are thinking of that truck, and the
way he and Hal had managed to find ways to get
into trouble pretty much everywhere they'd went,
and how they'd chosen it.
Each other and the life and the *road*.
Some of the ones who are closer to the heart of
things -- and some of the ones further away, for
that matter -- are probably doing a little speculation.
Some amateur cape-psych about the paths their
lives -- and deaths -- had taken when all was said
and done. When they'd split up again, and...
He doesn't think about Dinah much. He's got a
few ideas about what some members of his nasty,
beautiful, incestuous little community would have
to say about *that* if he was ever dumb enough
to say the words aloud.
Maybe even Connor.
Silent now, as he works. Ollie's been assured,
through one grapevine and another, that when
the boy works alone, there's occasionally a little
chatter. A little taunting, here and there, for the
people stupid enough to think that the kid's
*only* weapon is the bow.
As opposed to his entire body.
The kick is too fast to see beyond the way the
druggie's head jerks to the side, the way Connor
shifts before he spins. Ollie uses his own bow as
a club, on the bright spark trying to creep up on
him, and makes a note to himself to clean it later.
He doesn't get enough chances just to *see* this,
to wonder what on earth he'd done to deserve a
boy who could make a gun into something other
than an idiot's tool and another like this.
And when Connor is done with the druggie, he
doesn't look at Ollie. He doesn't have to.
The thing is... the others would be as wrong and
short-sighted about Dinah as they are about Hal,
and that's frustrating, but it's also just fine.
It's not as though he's ever really likely to find the
words to explain himself about Dinah -- much less
to her -- and Hal...
Well, the thing is, there was *always* something
off about Hal. It just used to be easier -- in a lot of
ways, for a lot of reasons -- to blame it on the
stick-painfully-far-up-his-ass thing, as opposed to...
As opposed to everything else.
He'd done his best to kill the man, for the sake of
everything else (he can't call it 'good,' not even
now), and, in return, Hal had done his best to
bring *him* back. He doesn't actually know
anyone stupid enough to think the scales are
uneven, and he's fine with that, too.
There are memories he can't quite call on, and others
he can't quite dismiss, for that. There's a conversation
he never wants to have with Bruce and another he's
afraid to have with Connor -- if only for the look in
the kid's eyes, the *question*.
The kid had been raised in a monastery -- the *last*
thing Ollie wants to do is step all over his faith,
whether or not it *should* be stepped all over.
Faith is just one of those things Connor will lose or
keep as the life he'd chosen continues, and he'll
never be surprised by the ones among them who
want to die young.
A part of him knows Jason Todd better than Bruce is
ever like to. Another wishes he could do a better job
"You're usually better at this game, Dad."
There are a few ways to respond to that, too, and
silence is a perfectly valid one, considering the fact
that they're technically on stake-out.
"Just as an example, usually when you *don't* want
to talk about anything, I'm the one watching *you*."
The kid's tone is cool as water, and maybe half as
solid. Half as *trustworthy*, even though he has the
nerve to actually *be* focused on their target. Ollie
settles for a grunt.
Connor doesn't sigh, or glare at him. He certainly
doesn't yell or stomp off. It's just one of the things
that's a little strange about him.
And the thing is...
He can't say he was surprised -- not really.
Not by Hal's staggering arrogance and not by the way
it just picked him up and sent him flying. It was
what they did, after all.
"I didn't think they *made* stormtrooper gear in
green spandex," he says, bristling and ready, and Hal,
for once and always, manages to scowl at him with
his mouth and laugh with his eyes, and then there's
a flare of precisely the *wrong* kind of green
flooding the world around him.
"Ready to go oppress the masses, pal?"
The lantern on Ollie's chest has a hand inside it,
making a gesture... When Ollie looks in the mirror,
he realizes it is, in fact, a perfect representation of
his own hand. At which point the whole jury-rigged
thing ripples and winks out of existence, leaving
him in his own clothes while Hal laughs so hard
tears come to his eyes.
It was what they were used to.
And it never seemed strange that Hal and Barry
were tight -- Barry had been a good enough sort,
and entirely non-threatening to the worldview of a
man like Hal, besides. A *crewcut*, yet.
Well, surprise was never the word for it.
Not when it was so good between them that they
never had to say a word, and not when it was so
bad that Ollie wanted to take that ring and smash
it -- for the *good* of everything else, and for
Ollie's own soul.
When it was bad, he still wasn't surprised so much
as sick, and more than a little scared.
It should be a stupid question. It really should. It's
four a.m., and both of them reek in *that* way.
He thinks he can smell every bullet that didn't hit
them tonight, and Connor's face is darker than
usual -- fatigue and spent adrenaline. The scar
looping crazily into his hairline is livid under the
moonlight, and, yes, sickening.
But it isn't a stupid question at all, because no
matter how much good they've done tonight, it's all
just putting off the inevitable. "Tower," he says,
and feels every water break he hasn't taken tonight.
Every year in his bones -- even the ones he didn't
"Should I come with --"
"No," he says, harder than he wants to, and probably
just as hard as he needs.
No, as he *would* need to, if it was anyone but
Connor. His eyes are narrow behind the mask, and
about the only thing gentle about it is the *time*
Connor gives him. Every word deliberate, every
moment long enough to give an old cheat like him
the time to reach for his comm.
"Go home, Connor," he says, and settles in for having
his guts switch places with his skin.
He'd met Hal when he was young in pretty much
every way, and full of the belief -- mostly unspoken,
even within his own head -- that if he was going to
change the world he couldn't get a *much* better
start than changing one of the most (no, 'one of the
most' was always a joke, and a bad one, wasn't it?)
powerful men in it.
And the thing was -- the *hell* of it was -- he'd done
a fair job of it. He'd taught Hal to see things he
never had before, things he never *could* have.
Maybe, just maybe, the Guardians wouldn't have
been so complacent about raising Hal so damned
*high* if they'd known from the start just how
*much* a man like Ollie could change him. And
really, considering the Guardians he'd met?
That was as much of a victory as any man could
hope for in this life.
But he'd been short-sighted, too, if he's honest with
himself -- and in a world where the word "Parallax"
is being spoken as much as it is now, he doesn't
really have room for anything else. Because there
was *always* something a little off about Hal, a
little wrong and a little dark.
Generals don't choose soldiers for their
well-adjusted open-mindedness, and Guardians...
Guardians didn't choose Lanterns for anything short
of their *wills*.
He's just about back to being just nauseated -- as
opposed to this close to puking -- when he sees
the others. Waiting for this, waiting for him.
Because it's Hal, and because these parties never
really start without him.
Up against the truck, under the stars.
The wind takes the stink of burning motor oil and
leaves nothing but the sweat, the anger, and that
energy. Always there, always lurking.
Always making it real fucking tempting to be a
different color arrow altogether.
But not like this and not tonight. Because there
was always something else lurking, too, and he's
got his fists clenched around that ridiculous
bomber jacket, the original cloak of patriarchal
oppression, and didn't it *have* to be literal for
Didn't it --
Fuck -- fuck --
But this. This isn't about any of that. This is the
mouth working on his throat, lips and teeth and
tongue, and it's different from how it's ever been,
even with the chicks who could've given Dracula a
run for their money.
Even for the ones who could beat him bloody, and
maybe -- just maybe -- even for Dinah.
Because every sound Hal's making is desperate
and muffled by Ollie's own skin, and both of his
hands are shaking -- even the one that's always
warm -- and Ollie thinks he's maybe being learned.
Maybe being *taken* --
"Fearless," he says, and he means it to be a goad,
a joke, but it comes out growled. It comes out an
*order*, and the part of him which could say no,
which wants to *scream* it when Hal drops to his
knees is weak and crumbling.
Useless against Hal's hunger, and his own
That new kid Kyle -- he'll *always* be new -- has
an impressive imagination and a pair to go with it.
John had always been pretty much fine in his book.
Well, Guy has been mostly harmless, as these things
go. Certainly he hopes whatever the hell it is that
has the sonofabitch dissolving over there (wasn't
*Hal*) is curable. It looks painful as hell. It looks...
*vindictive*, and he isn't sure who they're sparing
by knocking the poor bastard out.
He doesn't want to be sure, and the best of them
was *always* Hal, and those who knew him were
always as quick as they should be to point out that
'best' referred to who he was a person, to his
*self* as much as anything else.
And this is probably the heart of why he'll always be
an archer, above and beyond any of the sentimentality
he can't -- and won't try to -- escape. Because he'd
died once, and that was frankly enough (was it light?
Heat? Both, under that wall of sound?) for him, and
because the first thing a bowman learns is that
there's more than enough honor for all *after* you
take your shot.
And more than enough shots for any quiver if you
just step back enough to see.
"This thing -- it *answers* to every synapse in
my brain --"
Ollie thinks they would ask. Some of them, anyway.
He could see it just as clear as anything if he
concentrated -- wide green eyes to remind you, if
you needed it, that Barry was long gone, and that
nothing ever really ended, even if you couldn't
really imagine it going *on*.
He's pretty sure Wally could take him or leave him,
for the most part, but he's more than sure that the
kid won't actually stop *trying*.
For Barry, and for the memories *he* has of Hal.
But... yeah. He'd ask. Something speedster direct
and Wally-thoughtless along the lines of "why didn't
you say anything?" or "Why aren't you *frightened*?"
And Ollie will say...
"I think there's something -- something *wrong*
about how much I love this. Even when I'm only...
only shocking you."
"Jesus, Hal, just --"
His mouth is only hard until Ollie opens his own, and
then it's hard to decide whether Hal's kissing him or
just shaking. The words are right there -- what do
you need? Why now? Why *this*?
It's easier just to growl them into Hal's skin,
healed perfect again.
Well, he doesn't know what he'll say. After all, there
are bad reasons he hasn't ever talked about this, too.
But if he thinks about it, here, in these moments
where he's just another Leaguer again, when there's
a dead city rising and a live one maybe wishing
they'd never heard of Green Lanterns, when there's
a beast calling himself the vengeance of God -- he
will never, never say any of this to Connor -- tearing
up the shreds of faith he'd always suspected still
lingered in the hearts of a few of his friends, his
If he thinks about it, then it isn't really that hard at
Because there are friends, and allies, and families,
and then there are brothers.
Hal never would have told him any of this, never
would've hinted at any of it, if Ollie hadn't already
known it, and if Hal hadn't *known* he knew it.
There are no secrets between brothers, not really.
Only the things you never say out loud, because
there's a part of everyone that never grows, and
never changes, and never stops *believing*...
"When're you *really* coming back, Hal?"
"I'm working on it," he says, and his smile is the
same as its ever been. Just the same.
A part that always hopes, in the end, that there's
another way for this. That one day the path you take
that's *supposed* to skirt around the crap and the
horror really won't just twist and take you through
Easy endings, not happy ones. As near as Ollie can
tell, there's a happy ending or three for just about
everyone, so long as they're smart enough to know
how to stop.
He's never actually met anyone smart enough to
stop. Not him, and certainly not the soldiers of
soldiers, the green machines of galactic moral
There are speeches for it -- old and new, and they're
all the same. Words for a man who has known how
to find the real truths in Ollie's eyes for quite a while,
Quite a while.
And it's Hal.
"None of this should've happened. This *isn't*
The others -- the League and their allies, just enough
to hold down the fort, just in *case* -- look at him
and see the crow's feet that aren't quite as deep as
they were, and as they will be, again, someday.
They look at him and see him wearing the clothes of
a man who once lit out on the open road with a
brother, with the best of them, with the innocence
of a time that isn't their own.
They look, and they say to themselves, "even if he
falters, even if he fails, it's all right. Because Hal's
his brother, and, in any event, we'd never ask this
And they're right, and he hates them for it, and
they're wrong, and he hates himself for that -- just
Just enough to make him sure they got it right *this*
time, and there isn't some forgotten piece of himself
kicking back Up There with the dead sons of other,
stranger men. Maybe.
Because Hal is his brother, and he's coming home.
For Ollie, for the world, and for whatever pieces of
the universe he can try and fail to hold on to *this*
time around. And maybe it'll all shake down all right,
and there'll be another tangle of highways for them,
another chance to pretend it's just fine that neither
of them got the hang of growing up, and that
everything they'll need is right there in the actions
they'll commit without thinking and the words
they'll never say.
But every optimist Ollie's ever met is either dead
or cured of the affliction (Ah, Connor, just a little
bit longer. Just --), and his quiver is full.
Because every promise from Hal is a warning, too,
and Ollie had heard it the first time -- loud and
clear and echoing, maybe, in the wet, cracking
sounds of Guy Gardner undoing himself.
It's the perquisite of having a brother, and, perhaps,
the responsibility tagged to having this one.