One bad word. Long drabble.
It's messed up, but Tyler's still surviving.
She's the girl with the pink hair. In the dimly lit room, it's the first thing that Tyler notices before Oliver's guards crowd her out of his view.
"Lady, this is a private joint."
Tyler knows that he could call out to them. Tell them of what she's capable of. The lady, though, can speak for herself.
Tossed against opposite walls, the two body guards at the front give grunts in unison. This is when the guns are pulled, Oliver shoving Tyler further back into his seat as the elder man draws the cross-bow from it's special spot on the wall. It doesn't matter that Oliver knows that Tyler can watch his own back, now.
"It's fine," he argues, speaking in a level tone that will be mostly ignored. This is the problem with being in Oliver's company. "She's here to see me."
Queen's old eyes pass over Tyler, the boy shielded under the mob boss. "Over my dead body."
"No," the pink lips smile, holding off their incantations. "But I promise I can make it hurt."
With a little more spirit, Tyler reaches up and puts his weight into the top of Oliver's weapon. It's difficult, for the man's experienced enough to keep the thing close to himself.
"I said, it's fine."
"He's a smart kid," the Witch says. "And I'm only here to talk."
"Not smart enough," Tyler mutters, coming to his feet. "And Queen's clever enough to know that it's your words that do the most harm."
She gives him a twisted grin that almost seems to belong someplace else. A different world entirely. "If I could have your attention in private?" she asks.
"She's with the League," Oliver warns, maintaining a strong and solid presence at Tyler's back.
"I know who she is," Tyler answers, moving around the table and indicating that she should lead him out of this room. The remaining few of Oliver's men, including Connor, carefully put away their weapons.
Oliver doesn't bother to tell him to be careful. The man had always been willing to let fools rush off, waiting for them to crawl back having learned something. Tyler swears he'll be like Roy, though. The one who never comes back.
As he closes the door behind him, returning to the warmth, the sounds and the smells of the Oriental kitchen, he listens to Jinx laugh. "He's so protective of you."
Tyler gives her a shrug. "Guess I'm family." His words hint at something deeper. Something that one shouldn't touch, even with elegant and painted fingers.
"You're also obliterating his competition."
This makes Tyler stop, framed in the shadows of the doorway leading into the dining wing of the restaurant. "You know about that?"
"There's not much we don't know," Jinx states, crossing her arms. There are thin tassels hanging down from her sleeves, deep purple and highlighting the pink of her hair. Tyler can pick out individual strands in the strange lighting.
"Is that why you're here?" Tyler mutters. "That your precious little League needs to keep tabs on the vigilantes out there? Or is it just that I'm getting my sources from Oliver's market?"
"Not here," Jinx raises a finger. "Bear with me, Mr. Hardy."
"Mister?" he starts to say, sounding the strange designation out. He's interrupted by the oddest feeling of the hair on his neck dancing, while his insides melt and reform.
And suddenly...suddenly it's bright. Tyler raises a hand to his eyes, not sure of what's exactly happened and too confused to think in desperation. Blinking, he finds Jinx staring at him with those indigo eyes. Behind her, beyond the artificial brightness stands a field of stars.
Oh God, Tyler thinks. He's looking at space.
And then, the math aligns.
"YOU BROUGHT ME TO YOUR WATCHTOWER?!"
He has her collar bunched in his fist, nose to nose with the Witch. He can't even remember moving, but now he's got her (despite how he knows how to get out of this very attack, the folly of clinging hands and the dangers of blind rage).
She pulls back her neck, laughing through closed lips. "Yes. Did you think you were in trouble?"
Tyler drops the shawl she's wearing and stares around. They are alone in this vast auditorium of...of the heroes of the world.
"I'm not in trouble?" he asks, voice feeling very small. Immediately, he understands the power of territory. He shouldn't be here. He really shouldn't be here. This is...this is Slade's.
She frowns. "No. You're not in trouble. We've been...no, I've been watching. And since you've taken up the costume, you've done more for your city than...well, anybody could expect anyone to do. You're fantastic at it. Didn't you know?"
His brown eyes lock on hers, brow furrowed. "What the fuck, exactly, am I doing here?"
And Jinx turns a shade deeper, crossing her arms tightly as she says, "offering you a job."
"The last person who offered me a job died," Tyler nearly screams.
Jinx throws her hands up, tangling them in the shawl and looking impossibly human. "Tyler, please. You work for the Queens. It can't just be for the money. You could do so much more with us."
"I don't work for them. I do what...what you've seen me do. And they've offered to help on the condition that I keep mostly out of their affairs. And you know what? Oliver would probably stop most of his work if I asked because..."
He can't say it.
She does. "Roy."
"Shut up. Send me home. Take your damn League and shove it out an airlock, for all I care."
Jinx sighs and shakes her head. "Just think about it, okay? It's a standing offer and I know that you do care."
"Does he know?" Tyler asks, partly expecting the weird sensations to hit him again. Waiting for the violating transport or for Slade to just walk up from behind him. "Is he part of the offer?"
Oh God, has Slade been watching?
"No," Jinx says.
Tyler blinks, and then blinks a second time. His eyes feel heavy. He wants to choke on something, because the freedom to breathe hasn't left him. It is his right and his duty to freak the hell out.
"Are you guys even looking for Redwing?" he hisses.
Jinx stares down. "No."
"I'll think about it."
He doesn't know why he's said it. Somewhere inside, he's always known that Redwing had walked off their radar. That they probably let him and...Tyler's gone through life all the more powerless, because of it.
Nodding, she says, "thank you."
He should say the same back, but before he can agonize over it, he finds himself on earth again. Alone.
She's kind enough to drop him into the restaurant's washroom, and Tyler doesn't care which gender is labeled on the door. He drops to his knees in the nearest stall and tries to be sick.
Three weeks later, he's slamming a formal paper onto Oliver's desk.
The man looks up, noting that Tyler's in costume but without the mask. Both of their mouths are thin, strict lines.
"What is this?" Oliver demands, not caring to look.
"My certification," Tyler states. "I'm in the League now. Reserve member."
"And you're telling me...why?"
There's a warning there. Tyler ignores it. "I want your drugs off my streets."
The sharp brow goes up. "Oh?"
"And do you really expect me to roll over on that," Oliver leans forward. He looks green from the light filtering through the tinged window tiles. "I'm a business man, and you understand that."
"I do," Tyler nods. "So that's my starting offer. I will walk out of this room with a promise, though. No drugs to kids."
Oliver shakes his head, rolling his eyes. "It doesn't work that way. I don't control where the stuff goes. I just supply it."
"Then you better learn how to control the job," Tyler growls, bracing both arms onto the shining oak desk. "You're not a good boss if you can't control your people."
Oliver's teeth are a muffled white. "And what do you define as 'kids', or should I ask my lawyers to look that up?"
"You hate lawyers," Tyler prods. "But let's do it this way: how old was Roy when he left you?"
Dangerous ground, but Tyler's aware that he's the only one allowed to tread it in Oliver's presence.
"Consider it done," concedes the man behind the desk. He rises to his feet. "I expect you to obliterate the competition."
"You can know that they're not getting a warning from me," Tyler reaches across, shaking Oliver Queen's hand.
"So you're really going through with this?"
The question makes the vigilante duck his head in recognition of the other. Despite business, there's always been something more between them. After Roy...
Oliver sighs. "And your connections to me must be being observed."
"No," Tyler corrects. "Or if they are, they're getting a blind eye. You know that Jinx is aware. But some other members have far more...penetrating shadows. It's a flawed group, to be sure."
"And you'll make it better?" muses Queen.
"No. But it'll give me access to things that will help, in the long run."
Oliver moves around the desk, stopping at his shelf and pulling out a bottle. He doesn't bother to offer any to his guest, already aware of the answer. Instead, he asks a more obvious question that needs no reply. "This is about revenge?"
"This is about justice," Tyler states, streaking a glove through his hair. "I haven't felt right since..." he takes a deep breath and watches Oliver watch him.
"Kid," the man says, pouring amber liquid into a glass. "Know that if you ever get to the point where you have that bastard, and if you can't go through with it, I'd like to be there. I won't hold back."
And as their eyes meet, Tyler feels himself possessing a little laugh. "Oliver, I promise that this won't be my problem," he says. "It's him or it's me."
Oliver screws back the cap for his bottle, turning to offer the boy a toast. The room is empty, though.
Returning to his original seat, Oliver Queen contemplates over his drink. How he needs the kid to succeed, and whether or not it would be disrespectful to offer a warning about some of the enemies the League faces in Gotham. Ones Oliver knows too well.
"He'll land on his feet," sighs the mob boss, downing his first glass. "Like it or not, some of us just can't help it."