DISCLAIMER: The Arrow characters are the property of Warner Brothers Television, Berlanti Television, and DC Comics Studios. The story contents are the creation and property of Djinn and are copyright (c) 2014 by Djinn. This story is Rated PG-13.
You've always known your brother wasn't the brightest. Oh, you adored him when you were little, but not because he was smart and serious. You adored him for the sunny smile he wore, for the devil-may-care attitude, for the way he'd chase you around the house and call you "Speedy."
Now you know the sunny smile he used to wear was a vacant one, his attitude wasn't innate but spurred on by your mother's and fake-father's ability to pave over his mistakes with money. But still, he did chase you around the house. That was fun.
It's still fun, to have him chase you without knowing what he's chasing. Fighting with the Arrow in your living room—you knowing who he was, what he was while he held back, unwilling to hurt his innocent little sister—was so much fun.
Almost as fun as meeting Laurel in the cemetery. In letting her spill out the truth of Sara's death. A death you remember well since you dealt it.
And not under Votura. You did it yourself. You did it because she was hunting your father. You probably acted hastily, but then your father turned the whole thing into a way to possibly get rid of Ra's al Ghul once and for all if Oliver kills him—unlikely though that scenario seems from what your father has told you of the man who trained him. Or Ra's will kill Oliver, and at least you'll be off the hook since the matter will have to die with your brother now that he's confessed to the murder.
He confessed to save you. Oliver would do anything to save you.
You won't return the favor.
Your father comes into Verdant, through the back way—a different back way than Oliver uses for his not-so-very-secret lair. You almost laughed out loud when you saw Ray Palmer show up looking for Felicity. She didn't even try to explain why she was in a nightclub—in her work clothes.
You stayed away from them, but the listening devices you have at every table will tell you what they spoke of, if it was important. You're not sure if this Palmer is working with your brother's team or not. You think not, but you've learned not to make assumptions. Who would have picked Roy and your brother as the new dynamic duo?
And that's not a dig against Roy. Him, you can see going all vigilante. But Oliver? Sweet, but dumb as an inbred Golden Retriever, Oliver? How did he become this new man? This strong if still blinded-by-family man?
"Thea?" Your father's watching you, a look of wariness has entered his eyes since he told you Oliver went to fight Ra's on your behalf. It's not because you reacted, because you cried or seemed sad.
It's because you didn't.
For your father, family is everything. And you're his family, so now he's just like Oliver. He has a Thea-sized blind spot. He believes you're equally tied to him, equally blinded by love for him.
For all his brilliance, he's as dumb as your brother. You told him what you wanted in the car that night he took you away from everything you'd known. You wanted to never hurt again. You're smart enough to know that never hurting means you'll never love again. You've turned that part of yourself off.
He thinks you love him. He fails to see that you view him as the instrument to make you what you need to be, to harden you, to make you unbreakable—impossible to hurt.
He's useful to you. He amuses you. You're learning a lot from him. You enjoy the time you spend with him.
But you don't love him.
How could you love him and not love Oliver? He's foolish to see that you can't pick and choose that way. It's always been all or nothing with you, but then he wasn't there when you were driving your mother crazy, after your fake-father disappeared with Oliver. How you acted out. How selfish you became.
How this version of you was born. A weaker version of you back then, still wanting to care and be cared for. Not hurt enough to realize that caring was a losing road.
Your father is the winning road. And you'll stay with him until that's no longer true.
"Have you heard anything?" you ask him, because that's what he'll expect you to do. To show some emotion, even if you're part of this plan of his.
Even though he's part of this plan of yours. You go back to wiping a table down to hide what you're afraid is a smirk. You're still mastering your expressions. It's why Oliver thinks you're different: he can't read you like a book anymore.
Couldn't read you like a book—probably best to start thinking of your brother in the past tense.
"No. Nothing." Your father looks away and you know he's lying to you. That he thinks you need him to lie to you. That you'll care if Oliver's dead.
Oliver lied to you. For two years, Oliver was not only no longer the sunny brother you loved but was a killer. A killer who kept him alive for five years on that island.
You understand how that works. You respect the part of him who was the killer. You think he's weaker now than when he first came home, bound now by love for his ever-expanding team instead of a single, very clear mission.
You have a mission. Protect yourself. Whatever the cost. Whoever the cost.
"Tell me if you hear something?" Your voice is the one your father loves. He thinks you're his and for now, you are.
But someday he'll find out the truth: the only family you have anymore is yourself.