Chapter One: The Girl in The Mission
‘The Lie in The Truth’
Oliver followed Clark through the double doors of Watchtower yanking down his hood as he made his way into the room. Several heads turned in his direction and he frowned at the tension he felt in the room. His eyes landed on Mia and he shook his head as he pointed at her.
“What were you thinking, going back like that? You were supposed to meet up with Flag, take the com and meet me at the rendezvous point.”
She opened her mouth, but he cut her off, voice hard as he spoke. “How am I supposed to trust you to be part of the team and send you out on a mission if you can’t follow simple directions?” Mia winced, body tensing. Bart frowned straightening up slightly and before he could say anything Chloe spoke up.
“Oliver…maybe now isn’t the time…” He turned to Chloe brows furrowed. “No…now is the time. Don’t defend her Chloe. If it was anyone else you would have reamed them out for not following protocol. Don’t treat her differently; she wants to know what it’s like to be on the team…this is what it’s like.”
He turned back to Mia. “You mess up…you own up to it, take the consequences and don’t make the same mistake next time.” Clark and Victor stood to the side trying to stay out of the awkward situation as they leaned against the desk.
Ian glanced at Mia and he could see the tears in her eyes as she stood there letting the older man yell at her and a part of him felt horrible. She’d gone back for him, broken some kind of protocol so she wouldn’t leave him behind.
Oliver’s voice snapped Ian out of his thoughts as he addressed Mia again. “Well, I’m waiting Mia.” She opened her mouth and Ian stepped forward straitening up and taking her hand in his as he spoke, voice unwavering.
“She came back for me…and I’m not going to let you stand here and yell at her for that. She made a choice…maybe it wasn’t the one you wanted her to make, but we all made it out okay…” Mia’s eyes softened as she gazed at Ian her heart warming.
She’d been afraid that after everything he’d found he wouldn’t want anything to do with her, but Mia was happy she was wrong. She squeezed his hand lightly and he returned the gesture before Oliver turned sharply towards him, eyes boring into Ian, his voice sharp.
“No one asked you. The only reason you’re here right now is because the only way I could get her to leave was by taking you with us.” His worry and anger were officially starting to get the better of him. After two months of training and then five months of her being at Tower Prep they still didn’t know exactly what was going on at that school.
The one thing they had been able to figure out though, was that the school was run by a covert branch of the government called the VRA whose main purpose was attempting to get the members of the JLA and JSA to register as their civilian counter parts.
They wanted to unmask the man behind the hero and had been incessantly trying to do so for months. They had even gone as far as trying to pass a Vigilante Registration Act, but luckily it hadn’t gone over well with the citizens of Metropolis.
Mia’s voice snapped him out of his thoughts and he could hear the hint of irritation there. “Don’t talk to him like that. Ian didn’t do anything wrong Oliver. You’re angry at me, fine I get it. I messed up, but we all take risks for the people we care about. How can you possibly criticize me for something you would have done yourself?”
Oliver scowled, “What are you talking about?” Mia jerked her hand in Chloe’s direction anger clearly written on her face now as she yelled at Oliver. “If it was Chloe would you have left her behind?” The room went completely silent any side conversations that had been happening were officially dead.
Bart pursed his lips his chest aching slightly at Mia’s words as she continued talking. “You can’t have one set of rules for yourself and another for everyone else. I couldn’t leave him behind…I…Oliver…please.” He could see the tears building in the teenagers eyes and he sighed, body deflating slightly.
He nodded and opened his arms slightly. She took a hesitant step forward before letting go of Ian’s hand and moving across the room and into Oliver’s arms. He gave her a tight hug as he spoke softly. “I was worried…if they took you…we don’t know enough about them…I wouldn’t have been able to get you back right away.”
She nodded arms around his neck. “I know…I’m sorry. I never meant to break protocol or mess up the mission…but we’ll figure this out and we’ll bring down the people running Tower Prep Oliver…if anyone can do it we can.”
He pulled back and gave her a small grin. She sounded just like him and it made a hint of pride swell in his chest as he nodded. When Mia turned around to head back towards Ian she paused noticing the look Bart was sending her. She swallowed hard, voice quiet.
“Bart--” He shook his head, hurt covering his features as he spoke. “Don’t...I’m an idiot…I’ve been doing whatever I could to help you with this stupid mission, expecting everything to go back to normal when you got home…it was unrealistic. Five months is a long time…”
His voice trailed off and she took a step in his direction and paused. “It’s complicated.” He looked up and glared at her. “Complicated? You could have said something instead of stringing me along.” Ian tensed and glanced between them as he crossed his arms over his chest.
Oliver notice the action and frowned getting ready to step in to mediate if necessary. Mia let out a short breath, voice low as she addressed Bart. “Can we talk about this later in private? There are more important things going on right now.”
Bart let out a biter chuckle and motioned towards Ian. “Of course there are…your new boyfriends in trouble…let’s put everything else on hold, jeopardize the mission and save him…oh wait you already did that.” She winced and Ian automatically came to her defense.
“I don’t know what’s going on between you two, but I think C…Mia already feels bad enough without you rubbing her nose in what happened…so back off.” Bart turned to the blonde beside Mia, his eyes narrowing.
“That’s rich…you can’t even remember her real name…you must care about her a lot…Look Ken doll…you’re right you don’t know what’s going on here so stay out of it.” Mia shook her head and stood between them as they moved towards each other.
“Guys stop it! Now’s not the time for this…Seriously after everything that’s gone down we need to figure out how we’re going to salvage this mission.” Bart shook his head before glancing at Mia. “I’m not figuring out anything…I’m done for the night.”
She opened her mouth, but before she could say anything there was a rush of wind and he was gone. She turned toward the door and sighed. She gazed back at Ian and he glanced around at the four adults watching them before looking back at her.
“I want to know what’s going on…who you are…who these people are…now. I’ve never been anything but honest with you Mia…one chance or I’m leaving.”
She swallowed hard and nodded before turning towards Chloe and Oliver. Chloe cleared her throat drawing their attention to her. She smiled and moved forward, heels clicking against the ground as she held out a hand to Ian.
“Hi Ian, it’s nice to meet you. I’m Chloe.” He hesitated before taking the blondes hand and shaking it as he sized her up. “Hi…are you Mia’s…Mom?” His voice came out unsure because the woman in front of him didn’t look much older than they did.
Chloe arched an eyebrow. “If you’re trying to say I look old, I might have to let Oliver drag you out of here after all…” Mia chuckled and Ian’s lip twitched slightly as Chloe continued to speak. “To answer your question…no I’m not Mia’s Mom…I’m her friend.”
She motioned around them. “And what you see here is our base of operations. It’s called Watchtower. Tell me, have you ever heard of The Justice League?” Ian’s brow creased slightly as he thought back to a few articles he’d read in the paper before he was taken to Tower Prep about a group of vigilante superheroes fighting crime in certain cities.
He nodded tone cautious. “I think so…I sort of always thought it was a hoax. I mean real superheroes?” Chloe grinned and shrugged. “Why not…you have special abilities…I believe they call it Preflex don’t they?” Ian’s body tensed and Mia placed a hand on his arm.
“Don’t worry…we’re safe here. Chloe and Victor,” she lifted her arm pointing in the direction of the desk, and he turned watching as one of the younger guys leaning against the desk raised a hand and nodded in his direction, before Mia continued speaking, “have been hacking into Whisper 119.”
Ian arched an eyebrow, a hint of awe as he spoke glancing between the blonde woman and black man. “You guys can do that?” Victor nodded. “How do you think the computer got a conscience just in time for your arrival?”
Ian frowned. “Wait you guys knew I was gonna be taken and you didn’t stop it?” Mia bit her lip lightly and this time it was Oliver who spoke. “No, because honestly we weren’t a hundred percent sure you weren’t involved. Apparently they’ve been trying to recruit you for a year or two, but the time just never fit.”
He glanced at Chloe and motioned towards the screen. She moved back over to the computer, hands flying over the keyboard as she brought up several files on Ian, Cornelius Tower, and some of the members of the VRA.
Ian watched as documents on his life filled the screen, his eyes widening not sure what to make of everything that was going on. After being tossed into a school like Tower Prep he had thought he’d seen everything. Apparently he’d been wrong.
“Wow…wait a minute those are all about me…they go back to when I was a little kid…how did you get all this information?” Oliver smiled. “It’s what we do. Now as I was saying…two months before they actually brought you to the school they started watching you…studying you. We sent Mia undercover one week before they grabbed you because we knew you were coming.”
His gaze shifted to Mia, eyes searching hers. “So you knew who I was when you met me…” She swallowed heavily. “Yea…but Ian you need to understand, what we do…it’s to protect people. You weren’t the first person that’s been taken, obviously, and we knew you wouldn’t be the last, but you seemed to be the most important at the time.”
He pursed his lips and nodded before turning his eyes back to Oliver. “So why me?” The older man shrugged. “That’s what we’ve been trying to figure out. The only thing that seems different about you so far is that you’re Cornelius Tower’s grandson. Other than that…we’re at a loss as to why you’re so important to the people calling the shots.”
A startled noise left Ian’s throat and Mia glared at Oliver. He paused giving Mia a strained look and pursing his lips. “He didn’t know that did he?” She shook her head. “No, he didn’t.” He gave them a sheepish look. “Sorry…” Ian’s head was spinning.
So that’s why he was in a picture with Cornelius Tower…the older man was his grandfather…did that mean that his parents new about Tower Prep? Were they working with the people who took him and all the other kids?
Ian let out a sigh, “What else do you know?” Oliver studied the teenager before glancing at Victor. He pushed away from the desk and walked over to Chloe and the computers. Ian watched as he worked quickly pressing a few buttons before plugging something into his arm.
He opened his mouth in awe as information started to fill the screen. When the computer chirped, Victor pulled the USB out of his arm and caught the teenage boy’s eyes, a grin pulling at his lips. “Here's the cliff notes version of what we know.”
He turned resting his arms over his chest as he leaned against the computer console. “Tower Prep was created by Cornelius Tower. It was a place for people with abilities to go, develop their own specific talents and be with other people like themselves. The actual concept wasn’t evil nor was the way he ran the school.”
Victor turned back towards the screen and motioned to a file. “That changed around the time Cornelius was murdered…or so we thought. Now we’re convinced that he’s underground somewhere so his murderers don’t find out he’s still alive. Anyway after his supposed death the school changed, the methods they used were no longer in the student’s best interest, but the institutions best interest.”
Victor paused and Ian nodded taking everything in as he moved towards the couch and plopped down, eyes still on the screens in front of him. His voice was quiet when he spoke. “What then?” Oliver moved over and plopped down in the chair next to where Chloe was standing.
Her hand immediately fell to his arm, caressing it lightly as Victor continued speaking. “Well the school became what you see now. Our current theory is that somehow the VRA found out about the school and they are using it to train kids who have special abilities so that they can use them for their own purposes. We aren’t sure why, but we’re pretty sure that’s what the school is being used for now…sort of a special ability boot camp so to speak.”
Ian swallowed hard. If that was true that would mean that his parents just shipped him off to some place that could be using him to hurt other people and he wouldn’t even know it until it was too late. He turned his gaze on Oliver, voice hesitant as he spoke. “My parents…did they know when they let them take me?”
Oliver noticed the vulnerability in the teenager’s expression and his face immediately softened. “No. We’re pretty sure that they mislead all the parents and told them that the school was to help their kids…” Ian nodded. He supposed that made sense.
As much as he got in to trouble in school he couldn’t see his parents just shipping him off to some government run school. He looked around the quiet room and spoke. “So what now? You guys keep me here watch my every move? It’s like the school all over again.”
Mia walked over and sat beside him, placing a hand on his arm, voice soft. “No one’s forcing you to stay here…if you want to go home…we’ll take you. I just…you know Tower Prep as well as I do. We could work together to help the team get the rest of the students out, to get Gabe and Suki out.”
She glanced down at her hands, “I’ll answer whatever questions you have about us, but if you want to go…I won’t stop you…I’d understand if you want nothing to do with me.” Her voice trailed off and Ian studied her for a minute. Everyone deserved a second chance.
He reached forward lifting her chin with his finger eyes meeting hers as a small smile broke out on his face. “I don’t think I could ever not want anything to do with you…but from here on out nothing but honesty. No half truths…you want my help? Fine, but we’re in this together…we’re partners okay?”
Mia’s face warmed, “Okay.” He nodded and suddenly realized there were four sets of eyes on them. He retracted his hand and coughed lightly. Oliver arched an eyebrow. “So you’re with us then?” Ian paused for a second before nodding. “Yeah, I’m with you.”
Oliver nodded and stood turning towards Clark and Victor. “Thanks again guys for dropping everything last minute.” Clark smiled and shrugged. “Not a big deal, though I should probably get home to Lois.” Oliver smiled. “Ah yes the almost ball and chain. We’ll probably debrief in a couple of days. Dinah, AC and J’onn are still in Coast City helping Hal out with a few issues. They should be back in a day or two though.”
Clark nodded, “Just let me know when.” He glanced at Victor and motioned to the door. “Need a lift?” He gave his costume clad friend a thoughtful look before shrugging. “Sure, what the hell. It’ll get me home faster. Have a good night guys…Mia girl, it’s good to have you back.”
She smiled at Victor and tilted her head to the side. “It’s good to be back.” They said their goodbyes and took off a couple of minutes later. Chloe walked over to where Oliver was standing and slid her hands up his chest. He groaned slightly wrapping his arms around her, his face softening as he met her eyes.
She grinned, “Hey. How you holding up?” He shrugged. “I could be better, but I guess I could be worse.” He brushed a kiss against the side of her head, eyes on Mia and Ian across the room as he spoke, voice low. “What’s your take on this Ian kid? I’m not sure I like him.”
Chloe chuckled lightly. “You don’t like him, because he likes Mia and you know it. I think it’s safe to say by now that he isn’t working for the other side. But we’re just going to have to wait and see as far as everything else goes.”
Oliver frowned, but nodded as he glanced down at his girlfriend, hand caressing her back lightly. “It’s been a long day…feel like coming back to the penthouse with us?” The hopeful tone of his voice made her face soften and she nodded.
“Sure…I guess Ian is going to stay with you?” Oliver rolled his eyes but nodded. “Yeah…we’ll send an email out to the team and let them know that we’re gonna debrief in two days. We’ll get to know this kid a little better, and then introduce him to everyone else in at the debriefing.”
He sighed. “Hopefully Bart will have calmed down a bit by then. And we still need to tell them about the leak…” She frowned and pressed her body slightly closer to his. “I know…everything during the debriefing.” Oliver once again glanced over Chloe’s shoulder towards the teenagers on the couch and cleared his throat.
They turned their heads in his direction and he motioned to the door. “I’m gonna change out of my suit and then we’ll head home…okay?” Mia nodded and watched as Oliver leaned down capturing Chloe’s lips in a soft kiss before moving towards the back room.
Chloe moved towards the monitors shutting things down, forwarding the computers to mobile mode and Mia let out a long breath. She glanced back at Ian nodded towards Chloe. “I know you don’t know them well but Oliver and Chloe are good people.”
He nodded. “You probably wouldn’t be with them if they weren’t. Are you related to Oliver?” She shook her head. “No, he found me on the streets when I was sixteen…took me in. Gave me a place to live, enrolled me in school…gave me a purpose.”
She gave him a warm smile. “I don’t think that there’s a better person out there than Oliver. He can help you too if you let him.” She yawned and Ian grinned slightly. “Tired?” She nodded. “It’s been a long day.” Their eyes met as he inclined his head.
“Yeah…it has.” They were so caught up in gazing at each that Oliver’s voice startled them when he spoke. “Hey you two come on…that’s the second time I called you. We’re heading out.” Mia shook herself out of her thoughts and stood flushing slightly.
Ian stood walking with Mia as they followed the couple in front of them his hand reaching out and clasping hers in his larger palm. He was stepping into unknown territory and he had a feeling he’d be learning many truths in the next few days. Lies or no lies he knew Mia had been honest with him about her personality and right now that was all that mattered.
Chapter Three: The New Kid on The Block