FDC presents "Ollie and Mia" by David TIllinger
Mia Dearden didn’t believe in gymnastics in combat. She knew it could be effective, but it wasn’t her thing. They’d tried to teach her a few tricks, Ollie & Dinah had, even recruiting Nightwing to help, figuring that she’d learn best from someone so handsome, but it never took. Cissie King, who Mia adored despite what everyone presumed was a natural rivalry between the two blonde teen archers, had tried to show her how she could fire arrows while flipping and such, but Mia simply preferred to keep her feet on the ground.
All of this made the fact that she was doing a triple somersault while firing arrows at a strangely dressed young man more than a little odd. She’s not doing it willingly, but finds herself unable to control her own movements, almost as if she’s some kind of action figure being played with by a deranged child.
Even odder to her is how she came to be involved in the fight in the first place. One minute, she’s helping Ollie & Dinah round up some crooks * and the next, she’s in what seems to be a parking garage in Vegas fighting some weird looking moron who thinks she’s an alien robot or something
* See Dangerous Toys #1
“Shot through the heart and I’m to blame,” Mia is shocked to hear herself singing as she fires. “You give crime a bad name!” It takes all of Mia’s will power and skills not to punctuate this verse by literally shooting the strangely dressed man in the heart. Her arrow hits him in the shoulder and drives him back against a wall.
“Arrow Babe wins again!” Mia says as she lands and strikes a gymnast’s pose, breathing very heavily, not from exertion, but from some uncontrollable need to puff her chest out.
After a moment, she finally regains control of herself. She gets up and checks the young man quickly to see if he’s OK. He’s not really conscious, but mumbles something about fighting robots. She hears the sounds of sirens and decides discretion may be the better part of valor until she figures out what is going on.
“Gymnastics, Bon Jovi and guys fighting robots. Mind control sucks.” She thinks as she slips away from the scene of the battle.
“Is there something you aren’t telling me, Ollie?”
The question hangs there for a moment. I have no idea what Rebecca is talking about and frankly her tone makes me less than curious to find out. She seems genuinely angry about something. Having had quite a bit of experience with angry women, I keep my mouth shut, waiting for her to explain.
She reaches down to her desk and pulls up an arrow. An arrow painted yellow. She holds it with one hand over the head of the arrow and I sense it’s intentional.
“Yellow isn’t your color, is it? Or are you doing something behind my back you’re trying to hide?”
It’s not mine, of course. I’ve always used green colored arrows, not only for the symmetry with my code name, but for tactical purposes. When Roy and I started working together, we found out pretty quickly that it would be tough to tell the difference between our arrows in the middle of a firefight. Which could be fatal in our line of work, especially for two guys without powers who relied on archery to fight crime. So I went to green arrows and Roy to red ones. Even my rival, Meryln adjusted, using all black arrows to mock us.
I’d never shared that tidbit with Rebecca, so her reaction is not surprising. Rebecca would take it personally if I was engaged in some manner of operation in Vegas without her knowledge. She views Vegas as her city, the same way the Bat looks at Gotham or I used to look at Star City. Although she refuses to look at herself as a hero, per se, she views it as her job to keep Vegas as sort of a neutral zone, free from the super hero/super villain drama that infects most other big cities. She’s been pretty successful at it, which I’ve always found it surprising. Given how much money passes through Vegas, I’ve always been a little shocked that it isn’t being attacked and robbed every day.
It’s what makes Vegas work actually, since it would really kill tourism if there were super fights on the strip every week that weren’t booked by the UFC. Rebecca has never come out and admitted it, but I’ve always suspected that there was more to her role than just being the security boss at the Olympian.
“It’s not mine, Rebecca, and I think you know it.”
“Then we need to find out who it does belong to.” She removes her hand from the tip of the arrow and shows me the arrowhead. It’s the same sort of pointed arrow head I used to prefer, during my vigilante days, even down to the unique shape of the head itself. It was my own design, more aerodynamic than the normal arrow head.
What makes it more shocking is that there is dried blood on the head. Rebecca notices me looking at it.
“Metro pulled this out of some goofball’s shoulder on the fourth floor of the parking garage at the Mirage. Found him pinned to a wall by it.” She continues. “Vegas doesn’t need some copycat vigilante running around impaling people on walls. We need to stop this fast.”
Mia liked to think of herself as pretty worldly wise and jaded. She liked to think of herself as impossible to shock. She’d felt that way before she’d met Ollie, back when she was still on the street and continued to feel that way, even with the craziness that had entered her life when she became a costumed hero.
Even the mind control episode didn’t phase her too much. This sort of thing happened sometimes in the hero game. She’d heard enough stories from Ollie and his JLA pals or from her friends in the Teen Titans. She figured she’d ride things out until she got the lay of the land and figured out what was going on.
She maintained her blasé attitude until she began to investigate where she was. She was prepared for most things, but not for what she found out. After all, how does one prepare for finding a world where she apparently didn’t exist?
Investigating the Mirage gives me almost nothing. I talk to the security guys who found the thug and the Metro cops on the case, but they don’t really know anything more than I do. Although I can tell they’re not happy with me digging, especially in costume, I don’t think they’re hiding anything.
I decide that trying to catch up is the wrong way to go about things. The Bat’s a detective. He can piece things together from clues and such. Me, I’m a hunter, so I decide to change from investigating what’s already happened to trying to figure out what my prey (for lack of a better word) is going to do next.
When I used to do the vigilante thing, I was always on the prowl, a much more proactive stance. I figure my mysterious archer has the same philosophy, so I go out looking for trouble. Although Vegas has a glitzy façade, it’s a big city just like any other and has a criminal underside that’s easy to find if you know where to look. And unfortunately, I know exactly where to look.
A Google search for Green Arrow had produced millions of results, which she had expected. Most superhero names would. Even her own codename did, and she continually teased Roy that the first ten pages of links were all about her and not his career as Speedy. But a big name like Ollie was guaranteed to have a lot of sites.
From the very first link, it was clear to Mia that something was seriously amiss. None of the links she found mentioned Ollie being married, even the more underground, inside superhero news sites. Searches for Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance yielded the same result. And none of them mentioned Speedy as Green Arrow’s partner. In fact, she couldn’t find references to herself at all, either as Speedy or even Mia Dearden.
And this was clearly not the Oliver Queen she knew. She watched a few videos of him, TV news interviews and such. She got the impression that he was almost on vacation in Vegas. He wasn’t out on the streets as a hero. He was just hanging out, pulling out the arrows when they were needed, but not living the hero life the way her Ollie did.
As a result, this was a different Ollie, a little more relaxed and less angry than the one she knew. But at the same time, he seemed somewhat incomplete, his humor seemed more forced and his eyes looked sad. To Mia, the reason was obvious, this Ollie didn’t have Dinah in his life or a family around him. He was a guy on a Vegas vacation, removed from the things he really needed.
Part of her wanted to avoid him. If he wasn’t entirely happy, he was at least somewhat at peace. She wasn’t sure she wanted to ruin that by interjecting herself into his life. Then again, there was another part of her, the part of her that lived with Ollie & Dinah on her world and who viewed them as surrogate parents that wanted to go over to the Olympian, kick his ass and make him go beg his Dinah to take him back.
The whole night ends up being a waste of time for me. But what bothers me even more is my reactions during my tour through Vegas’ underside. Since I’ve come back from the dead, I’ve been keeping a close reign on my anger and aggression. I’d wanted to leave those things behind, since they’d been such a big part of the vigilante approach that had lead to my life going into such a spiral. But there were moments during the night, shots I’d taken when I didn’t need to, when I’d felt the urges coming back. And even worse, it felt natural when I did.
To be honest, I need to talk this out with someone, but everyone I’d trust to talk about it is unavailable. I don’t have a lot of friends, I’d burned a lot of bridges during my vigilante days. The few friends I have kept are all busy at the moment. Guy & Hal are off dealing with some space disaster, Dinah was on an undercover mission and Bruce, Roy and most of my other hero friends were handling a League matter. Rebecca’s a friend, but on a Saturday night during the summer she’s going to be tied up dealing with casino business until dawn.
I guess my big conversation will be have to be with my old pal Jack Daniels. I slip my room key into the door and enter into my room. The fact that there are lights on brings me immediately to alert.
“Hello, Ollie.” I don’t know the pretty blonde girl in one of my Olympian t-shirts and sweats sitting on my couch. But the fact that she’s aiming what is clearly a yellow bow at me complicates things. I should probably draw my own bow or take some sort of aggressive action, but something stops me.
“This is yours, I presume.” I respond, flipping the yellow arrow at her. She catches it deftly without dropping the arrow already knocked in her bow. In the same motion, she quickly knocks the second arrow along with the first. She’s good.
“It is.” Having proved her point, she slowly releases her drawn bow and places the two arrows in a quiver next to her chair. “I’m Mia.”
“Do I know you? You obviously know me.”
“I know an Oliver Queen, anyway. I’m not from around here, so to speak.”
“A world similar to this one, but with some important differences? That seems to usually be how this sort of thing works.” Alternate dimensions give me a headache, but I know what she means. I’ve done the occasional dimension hop myself.
“Something like that. On my world, I’m Green Arrow’s partner.” She pauses, obviously for dramatic effect. “My Ollie is better than you.”
“He’s sharper. Still fighting the real fight on the streets and not fooling around in Vegas as a rent a hero for a casino. I could never have spent the whole night shadowing him without him seeing me.”
I hadn’t even noticed her. The fact that I spent a whole night hunting her and never realized she was hunting me shocks me. The realization hits me like a blow to the stomach.
“I saw you.” I lie blandly.
“You are an even worse liar than my Ollie. I did everything short of scream at you and you didn’t even blink.”
I don’t respond. To be honest, I’m not sure I even know what to say. I walk over to the fridge and pull out a beer.
“Do you want anything?”
“Have any green tea?” She asks, the mild question seeming to have a hidden meaning.
“No.” I tell her, knowing it’s the answer she’s expecting.
“I’m not surprised. My Ollie never drank it until after he married Dinah.” She says this with a neutral tone, but her intent is clear.
“He really is better than me then.” I reply, not meaning it as a joke. I can’t help but admire a version of myself who managed that. “How’d he do it?”
“Well, he didn’t do it by hiding out in Vegas.” A tinge of bitterness creeps into her voice there. But then she stops, as if unsure. When she starts talking again, there’s an element of doubt.
“Are you happy, Ollie?”
“I’m not unhappy.” A safe response, but she’s not buying it. “I died, Mia. I don’t know how your mentor took it, but dying changed me. Have you ever spoken to your version of me about why he died?”
“He told me the story. How Superman wanted to save him, but he couldn’t accept losing his hands in exchange.”
“Accurate enough, but there was more than that. I chose to die because I was tired of living the way I was living. I was never meant to be a vigilante, not like Bruce. I became one, because of what happened to Dinah and other things. But a part of me died every time I raised my bow to kill or maim someone. By the time I was on that plane, I think I was ready to end it.”
“My Ollie never said it that way.”
“Like I said before, there are some important differences between different worlds.”
She accepts the rebuke with a nod. “Even so, can you honestly say this is the right life for you?”
I can’t really answer that question either. I’ve enjoyed Vegas. I really have. And despite Mia’s description of a more aggressive version of myself, I can’t see myself as the man I once was. But I can’t say with any certainty that this is where I’m supposed to be. And my reactions tonight made it clear to me that this may not be the person or Green Arrow that I’m meant to be.
“Are they happy?” I ask finally.
“They fight a lot and then they make up even more. But I think they’re happy.”
We talk for a while more. She tells me about her world and I help her figure out how things are different here. I offer to let her have my bed and take the couch, but she insists on the couch. As a result, I’m not surprised to wake up to find her gone. She clearly said what she needed to say and left me to figure the rest out on my own.
I’ve already started packing when I get a knock on my door. It’s Rebecca and Mac.
“I took care of the yellow arrow issue,” I tell them after we exchange greetings.
“I know.” Rebecca responds. “I spoke to Ms. Dearden this morning.”
“Not even going to give two weeks notice?” Mac asks, noting my half packed bags.
“Did you expect it?”
“No, I never did.” Mac responds in a much more serious tone than I had used or expected from him. “I always knew this was a short term deal. Remember the first time we talked about this job? I meant it when I said I wanted to help you, even if it was only by giving you a place to stay while you got yourself together.”
“So where are you going to go?” Rebecca asks.
“I’m not sure yet. Eventually, I’ll look to fix things with Dinah, but for now I’m just going to see where the road takes me.”
They leave after a few more minutes. I finish my packing and take one last look at the room. I’ll miss it, I know, but it’s time to move on. With the future in front of me, I close the door to the room and this chapter of my life.
This is the end of my run on Green Arrow. I love Ollie as a character, but I found myself almost turning this into a team up title with Hazard as much the star as Ollie is. But I think Ollie deserves more and I hope someone picks up his adventures from here. Thank you for reading,