Sometimes, Kaldur thinks he can pinpoint the moment he fell in love with Roy. Sometimes, it's harder to tell. But most of the time, there's one moment in particular that comes to mind.
It's four in the morning on a Wednesday. Well, Thursday now. It’s too late for normal people to still be up, but their schedules hardly allow for normal. Kaldur's drunk and Roy is buzzed. Roy's the only one Kaldur drinks with, and only in Roy's apartment. Someone needs to keep the redhead in check when they go out.
Said redhead is staring at a wall, leaning against the armchair with a half-empty beer can in one hand. If Kaldur extends his legs a little, he can touch Roy with his bare feet. He doesn't, but there's comfort in knowing that he could.
Roy is saying something about a fight with Ollie. But this is nothing new. Roy is always fighting with Ollie. As much as Kaldur adores Roy, he can't help but feel sympathetic to Ollie. Roy isn't always an easy person to live with. He's raw and angry and sometimes, Kaldur worries that this anger will swallow him whole. That the anger will chew his friend up and spit him out as someone unrecognisable.
The fear catches him off guard. The fear of Roy becoming someone who isn't Roy. This is the Roy be loves, he does not want this Roy to disappear.
Roy's leg brushes Kaldur’s foot and Kaldur finds himself staring. Bright blue eyes reflect nothing but concern. He says something, something that Kaldur recognizes as Navajo words of, 'Are you okay?' Kaldur doesn't respond for a moment. He isn't okay yet, and Roy always knows when he lies. He breathes deeply, matching the movement of Roy's chest. Then, he smiles and Roy hands him another beer.
"Roy, I believe I have already had enough to drink."
The words are only starting to slur together. Roy grins, a crooked, lopsided grin that Kaldur always loves. There's a flush across his cheeks.
"You have not had have had enough. I wanna' get you nice 'n drunk."
"For what purpose?"
"To get you in bed, obviously."
He says it with such a straight face that Kaldur thinks he might be serious. But then Roy laughs, bright and almost obnoxious, and Kaldur can't help but join in.
"I jus' can't believe him, you know," Roy says as if the past five minutes hadn’t happened. "I mean, what's he think he's gonna' do? Proposing to Dinah like that."
"Marry her, perhaps?"
"Hehe, you're funny."
Roy makes a face, a half-sneer, half-grimace. Kaldur doesn't try to hide his smile.
"Why are you so opposed to this, my friend?" he asks.
Roy lets out an exaggerated sigh, resting his head back against the chair cushion. His eyes close, lips parting. There's something in the way the bright, artificial light catches his eyelashes that leaves Kaldur breathless.
Kaldur feels a deep urge to kiss his way across the sharp planes of Roy's jaw.
He wants to take away all the tension left in his friend's shoulders. To lick the fingers that he is sure would taste like linen and carbon fibers. To feel his way down Roy's chest to the coarse hair below his navel.
Roy opens his eyes, staring out at something Kaldur's eyes aren't strong enough to see. Something Kaldur isn't sure even exists.
"You know how I said my mom died when I was a kid, like my dad? Truth is, I don't know. No-one knows. Far as I know, no-one even knows her name. Just that she's Navajo, ‘n that her family's from the same reserve I grew up on. Hypothetical family."
Kaldur waits for the pause in Roy's words to crack the beer open and take a long sip. He knew that Roy was raised on a reserve by its chief. The man Roy usually referred to as his dad. Ollie was only ‘dad’ when Roy was wasted. Roy rarely talked about his family. Kaldur never questioned it. Not everybody is as open as Wally.
"Never had a mom,” Roy continues, turning his attention to a spot on the ceiling. “Dinah's the closest thing I got. 'f Ollie proposes, he's gonna' mess that all up. I seen girls come and go. Dinah's the first one I wanted to stick around."
"But if they got married, would she not stick around longer?"
He didn't quite understand what the problem was. But then, that was Roy. It took some time to understand him, and most people didn’t bother with it the way Kaldur did. The way he tried to.
"He's gonna' break her heart. That's what he does. Then she's gonna' fuck off 'n I'm gonna' lose the only mom I ever had."
Kaldur rubs his foot against Roy's. He can’t imagine what it must be like for Roy. No stable parent figure. A mother who, for all intent and purpose, never existed. A father who died when Roy was only two. A foster father who died of liver cancer and never so much as told Roy he was sick, who let him find out through a letter from someone else from the reserve. Another foster father who didn't want to be a father.
And now, a mother figure who could disappear with a single action.
Kaldur tries to imagine a world without his parents. He barely manages to suppress the shudder.
"Dinah would not leave you."
For Roy's sake, Kaldur hopes that it's true. And he can see in Roy's eyes that he feels the same.
"Hey. Hey, Kal?"
"You ever been in love?"
Kaldur's taken back by the question. At first, he isn't sure he heard right. And any other time, he'd gloss over the question. But he's drunker than he should be and he can't find it in him to lie.
"Yes. Her name is Tula."
Oh, Tula. The one thing he misses most of his home - besides his parents, of course. Would his parents like Roy? Would Roy like them? He was nothing like an Atlantean.
Despite the matching hair color, there's nothing alike between Tula and Roy. And yet, there's everything alike between them. Stubborn and strong and powerful in their own ways. Heaven help anyone who would tell either they couldn't do something. But Tula was soft sweetness where Roy was hard edges and sharp corners and covered in barbs that would prick anyone who got close.
But when Kaldur got close, the edges softened. And Roy could be so soft. Soft lips, soft hair, soft voice, soft hands despite callouses on his palms and fingers.
He closes his eyes and licks his lips. His thoughts are going somewhere they shouldn't go.
"She cute?" Roy asks.
"Beautiful. She is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen."
Behind Kaldur's eyelids, he imagines that head of red hair between his legs. It's filthy and obscene. But he opens his eyes just in time to see Roy swallow the rest of his beer, Adam's apple bobbing. The sight is a gift from Poseidon Himself. He feels so warm and he isn't sure which redhead he wants to be on top of more.
"She love you back?"
"She does not."
"Shitty. Hey, I know exactly what you can do to make her fall right in love with you. Works on every girl I ever been with."
Kadur raises an eyebrow. This, he has to hear.
"Gotta' tell her how much you want her. Tell her how beautiful she is. Not hot or sexy or anything. Tease her a little. Skim your fingers on her skin. Take it slow."
So far, this isn't half bad advice. For Roy, at least. His advice usually ends in, ‘And then you set it on fire.’ Somehow, Kaldur doesn’t think this is going there. Who knows, though? Roy's never really held down a relationship, only had brief flings. That isn’t what Kaldur wants. Then again, even Roy’s experience is more than what he’s had.
"You got such a pretty mouth. Use it. Kiss her ears, her neck. You gotta' be careful not to be too rough with her tits. Unless she's into that. You gotta' make her know how hot you are for her. Gotta' make it about her, what she wants. Get her nice and horny. Kiss her hips. That spot right here."
Roy spreads his legs, tracing the line where thigh meets waist. Kaldur's breath feels heavy. He should tell Roy to shut up. Roy is a fucking idiot. Of course this is where his relationship advice goes. Kaldur doesn't want to hear this, doesn't want to think of Tula this way.
But the problem is, he isn't thinking of himself and Tula. He's thinking of Roy and Tula. Roy's tanned hands on her thighs, nudging them apart, the teasing smirk he would shoot her. The way she'd shudder and arch, cheeks and neck and chest flushed. Tight nipples hard and peaked.
"Just use your mouth at first. Girls get so wet when you go down on them. Gets 'em all relaxed and loose. Makes everything better for both of you. Lick her pussy, trace your tongue over her. Lick up and down between her lips all the way to her clit. Once she starts moaning, work your tongue into her. Fuck her with your tongue like she's the best thing you ever tasted."
Kadur shifts a little in his spot. He closes his eyes, watching Roy and Tula behind them. At the back of his mind, Roy's mouth works her over while she lets out breathy moans. He presses kisses to her clit, murmuring how good she tastes. Her blush deepens and covers her freckles.
Roy keeps talking. The details are explicit. He doubles back on his words, making sure Kaldur knows exactly how to use his tongue, exactly what kind of strokes to use. What to do to get certain reactions. His voice gets huskier and huskier as he goes on.
"Keep sucking and licking her clit, and rub your fingers on her sweet spot. Keep it even, and steady. Just- fuck, make her cum."
Kaldur opens his eyes again. Roy is shuddering a little. His hand on his crotch.
"Fuck, I'm so horny now," he laughs.
"I have no sympathy for you," Kaldur says dryly.
His own pants feel too tight right now and it’s all Roy’s fault. Roy laughs again. It bounces off the walls, coloring the apartment. Kaldur wants to keep that sound with him.
"You know what? Mouth like yours, you can't go wrong."
"You," Kaldur says, "are absolutely obscene."
"Nah, I just know that some good oral'll make anyone love you."
"Oh? You think so?"
Roy leans forward, eyes half lidded.
"I can prove it. Let me suck you off. I bet it's as pretty as your mouth."
Kaldur's entire body heats up. It's tempting, so tempting. He wants to slide his cock down Roy's throat and grip his hair and fuck his mouth.
"Must be nice," Roy says after a silence, "being in love."
The sudden change in pace feels like whiplash. Kaldur suddenly wonders. Tula doesn't - may not - return his feelings. It hurts. There’s nothing nice about it.
"It can be. I suppose it is nicer if that love is returned."
"Yeah. Think anyone'd be in love with me, Kal?"
Kaldur doesn't say anything a moment. Roy is a desert fire that burns with a demand to be noticed. He's nothing as sweet or sentimental as a rose, nothing near as lovely, but just as dangerous if not handled with care. Roy is a crown of thorns with sharps spikes, surviving in heat and needing little care.
Roy is full of walls and barricades and getting past them is a siege. Kaldur barely managed to tear them down, with soft words and sweet understanding instead of brute force. It's why Roy will still hold Ollie at arm's length sometimes.
Kaldur has seen Roy riding wild horses like they were the same entity. He’s seen Roy wild and free. Unhindered by the restrictions of Ollie and of the League. Sometimes, he thought he caught glimpses of the Roy he'd been before being taken in by Ollie. Before being kidnapped and held, beaten and who knew what else.
He heard the laughs no-one else heard. Seen a softness reserved for stray animals. Kaldur knows who Roy is beneath the shell he wears around even Dick and Wally.
And yet, there are things about him even Kaldur has never seen.
"Roy. My friend, you will find someone who will be so in love with you."
And suddenly, Kaldur is jealous of his own words. Who else could possibly understand Roy the way he does? Understand his Navajo when he doesn't even speak a word of it. Who will let Roy be furious with Ollie and with himself, and let him be full of rage and hatred? Everyone else tries to smother Roy's anger. To smother that part of him, the wild part of his soul.
Roy smiles. It's a grateful smile. Lips closed, eyes a little glassy from something other than alcohol.
"You know, I bet Tula's nuts about you. I mean, how can anyone resist your stupid cheekbones?"
The archer laughs at his own statement. It’s a running joke to him that never stops amusing him. Screw you and your stupid cheekbones, Roy once shouted during a disagreement. Later, he apologized to Kaldur and his stupid cheekbones.
"Can you?" Kaldur asks.
Roy looks him over like he thinks there's something else in the question. His tongue flicks out over his lips.
"Nah. You know I'd do anything for you, fishcakes. Hey. Thinks Ollie's in love with Dinah?"
"I... I cannot say. You know their relationship better than me."
"I guess... I just had shit luck with parents, y’know. What if Ollie forgets about me? He doesn't take me on patrol as much anymore since they started dating..."
"Roy... Oh, Roy. He could never forget about you. He loves you like a son, even though he may not always know how to show it. And Dinah, she is so fond of you as well. They are your family."
There's a sad look in Roy's eyes. Kaldur wants to do everything to make it go away.
"Yeah, I guess. Hey, you going back to Atlantis soon?"
"I may. Why?"
"I dunno. You’ll come back though, right? I mean... you're my best friend, Kal. I dunno' what I'll do if you fuck off for good."
And that's it. Right there. The words that make Kaldur lose his mind for Roy. Tula is still at the back of his thoughts, but now there's Roy. Roy, who works in such harmony with him. They never have to speak on patrol but when they do speak, it’s in words that mean nothing and everything. Lilts of language and vocabulary that no-one else can understand. Silent conversations, entire dialogue carried out with subtle twitches and motions.
"I will always come back to you," Kaldur promises.
Roy sets his beer down and crawls over to him. He curls up around Kaldur with his head on his shoulder. Kaldur's arm wraps around him, holding him in close. They both reek of alcohol, but they’re both intoxicated enough not to care.
"Your parents still together, yeh?"
"Yes, they are. They are very happy."
"I ever tell you your mom looks like Beyoncé?"
"You have. Several times. And once again, I am uncertain how to react."
"'s a compliment. Beyoncé’s hot."
"Well thank you, then."
Their foreheads press together. Roy's hand takes Kaldur's. Fingers lace loosely together, consciously aware of the webbing between Kaldur's fingers. There's a long silence. The sound of their breathing is enough to keep from sending Roy into a panic.
"May I ask you a question, my friend?"
"Can ask me whatever the fuck you want, babe."
A nickname Roy's dropped several times, only now has his stomach fluttering.
"Does the feeling ever go away? Of… not belonging?"
Roy pecks Kaldur's lips. A platonic kiss, something they share only rarely since Kaldur made the mistake of asking his king how common such affection was. Aquaman confronted Green Arrow on his ward's behavior and Green Arrow, unsure of how to talk to Roy about this, asked Black Canary to do it. Roy didn’t appreciate it.
"Nah. We can fake it. But it's not really the same. We never belonged in our homes. I mean, you're too human 'n I'm too white. We don't belong here. You're too Atlantean, 'm too Navajo. We can speak English, push aside what makes us different. What makes us, us. And we can blend in with these assholes." Another nickname that means nothing from the archer's lips. "Guess I shouldn't complain. I got it easy."
"Yes, and I am at such a disadvantage."
"I didn't mean it like that, Kaldur. Y'know I didn't."
Another kiss. Kaldur fists his hands in Roy's shirt.
"Hey. You know, what? Fuck that. Fuck belonging. We belong right here. With each other, you know. We don't need anyone else. Let's run away together. Find our own place where it doesn't matter if people get us."
And oh, it sounds tempting. But it's just a joke. One of Roy's outrageous suggestions to make them feel better, like setting Lexcorp on fire or executing a heist or plain and simple anarchy. It does make Kaldur laugh, pulling Roy in closer.
"We are far too drunk to run anywhere!"
"Speak for yourself, lightweight."
They bat at each other lightly. Laughter echoes through the apartment. They're a little bitter and damaged in their own ways, but fuck if they aren't happy. This, it's everything they need.
And they they’re kissing, curled up in Roy's bed. Fingers roam over skin but go no further. Roy pours out affection onto Kaldur, pure platonic adoration. And it's enough for Kaldur. It's enough to make him drown in the taste of Roy's promises. He wants to drown, and he wants to pull Roy down with him.
Arms intertwined, they fall asleep. When Kaldur awakes, Roy is in the shower singing an off key, a Capella rendition of Master of Puppets. Kaldur buries his face back in the pillow, taking in the archer's scent. Memorizing it - as if he hadn't already - for when he's alone tonight in his own bed, humping the mattress and trying not to imagine his sweet redheads doing filthy things with their bodies, pretending he doesn't want it, pretending it doesn't hurt at the same time.
Whenever someone asks when he fell in love with Roy, Kaldur rolls an answer off his shoulders. It happened over time, my friend. Not suddenly while his mouth dripped filthy words while he was near tears over the actions of his dad. It just happened.
And, really, it isn't strictly untrue.