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Fic: Purple Arrow Chapter 4

Title: Purple Arrow
Author: Brokaw22
Rating: T
Characters: Roy Harper, Lian Harper, Dick Grayson, Tim Drake
Summary: Roy encounters a 15-year-old Lian from a different Earth.
Spoiler Alert for Cry for Justice 7
Thanks to Kathy for the beta work.

Previous Chapters: Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three 

Next Chapter: Chapter Five

This cave is different from her own--she can tell because so many more people are in this cave on a regular basis. It's clean--well, as clean as a cave can be, but there are still subtle differences that just scream people. Family is here often enough to make an impact. Lian still finds being in this cave comfortable and refreshing--even if it is different--and she knows that her Uncle Tim would laugh and tell her that that's just the Bat in her. She thinks that maybe this Tim can tell that just being around him makes her relax; she isn't sure, but she thinks he's relaxed too.

 

It's not like Lian actually saw him before Tim decided how he was going to play this, but at least he seems willing to be--polite isn't the word and neither is less Bat; she knows that he's measuring every reaction she has to each part of the cave that he shows her, just like she knows that there are parts that he's not showing her. Lian doesn't actually know if her Tim would allow a strange person from another world any further into the cave than the entrance, but she does know that if he did, and if he decided to show that person around, her Tim would definitely keep from showing her certain parts of the cave, just like this Tim is doing now. She saw those cases, even if he didn't actually point them out to her. She would know cases like that anywhere. After all, her cave back home has a lot more of them.

 

Lian doesn't think about that--or at least she tries not to--because it doesn't matter how long ago all of those deaths happened. They still hurt, and it hurts to look at a case like that, even if there isn't one for Red Arrow down here. Lian isn't sure if her Grandpa Bruce decided to put a Red Arrow case in the cave or if Uncle Tim made him do so. She hasn't had the nerve to ask, and she doubts that she ever will, but she's grateful for it all the same.

 

She sees movement out of the corner of her eye, and she realizes that they're on the mats now. Tim has moved into a ready position. She raises an eyebrow at him, because she's pretty sure that there are a lot of things that her Uncle Tim would do with an alternate Lian, but she doesn't think sparring would come until after there were DNA tests and an interrogation. She's not extremely surprised that they skipped the DNA test, though. After all, they have no reason to believe she isn't who she says she is, and well…she saw all of their faces. It's not like Lian didn't believe Roy when he said that she looked just like his Lian, but seeing Dick's and Tim's faces pretty much confirmed that it wasn't just Roy. As far as an interrogation goes…well, she's not naïve. She knows that a spar is its own form of interrogation--at least it is if this Tim wants it to be.

 

She gives him a cocky grin as she moves into her own fighting stance. "Are you sure you're ready for this?"

 

This Tim simply rolls his neck on his shoulders before signaling her to move. "Keep it light. I still have to patrol tonight."

 

Lian wants to ask if she can go with him, because at least that would maintain some semblance of normal for her, but she knows that now isn't the time to ask, so she nods and moves in. They dance around each other for a moment. He's clearly studying her, and Lian just wants to catalog all of the ways that he moves differently from her Tim. So far, she's only noticed that he seems to have even more of an aversion to touch than her Uncle Tim--and she's pretty sure that if she had enough time she could work most of that out of him. After all, she managed to do a decent job of that with her own Tim. She's never asked her Tim why he hates touch so much, and she's not sure she can ask this Tim that question either, but she really wants to, because… She's not stupid; she knows that her Tim puts up with all of the physical contact from her because he thinks that she needs it, which isn't exactly false; but she's pretty confident that he needs it too, whether he wants to admit it or not.

 

Tim pins her for a moment, but she's up before he can even pretend to make it more than just playful, and she likes playful sparring. She hasn't gotten to do that in a really long time, because her Uncle Tim is usually trying to teach her something to keep her alive, or just can't bring himself to move the way that he used to with her Uncle Dick. She remembers watching her Uncle Tim and Uncle Dick play-sparring. It was fun, and she misses it, albeit probably not as much as her Uncle Tim does. Her Tim doesn't do a lot of things that he used to with her Uncle Dick, and that makes Lian sad more often than not; but she learned a long time ago that there's nothing that she can do about that, especially since she's the same way when it comes to things that remind her of her father…like, for instance, spending time with a Roy who isn't her dad.

 

This Tim definitely has a lot of skills that he's not using right now--which is good, because it's not like she's paying attention on any level that would make her Uncle Tim any degree of pleased. She mentally shakes her head and tries to pay attention. Lian remembers that this is supposed to be a light spar, so she thinks it's okay to twist away when she normally would have blocked. This Tim looks like he wants to laugh at her, which makes her want to see his face, and well…there's really no reason why she can't pull down his cowl. He does laugh after that, and it's the same controlled little whisper of a laugh that her Tim does. The only difference is, this Tim's laugh doesn't sound so forced. It's a good sound overall, and she likes it. It's a far easier sound to listen to than this Roy's laughter.

 

When Tim hits her in the ribs after she pulls down his cowl, she feels it just enough to know that she was hit--even though it looked like it was going to be too light to feel through the armor--which is interesting. He clearly wanted her to know that, even if this isn't a real spar, she isn't actually supposed to leave herself open. Lian adjusts her stance for that, and she thinks that she's ready for him now, but then he pulls a move that she's never seen her Tim do before, and that's even more interesting. She wants this Tim to train her before she leaves. Lian doesn't know if that's because she wants to be ready for anything or because it's easier for her to spend time with this Tim than this Roy, but she doesn't really care either, because that move caught her completely off guard and that can't happen, even if it is a different Tim and a different earth where they have fewer cases and more people and…and she refuses to cry right now, so she ends the spar.

 

Tim walks away, and Lian reminds herself that stretching may not make her feel better, but it helps keep the tears at bay just as well as anything else that she's learned over the years. By the time Roy comes over to talk to her, she's managed to calm herself enough that, when he asks what kind of state her Bruce is in, she doesn't actually fall backwards--but that probably has more to do with the fact that she's in a sitting position than to her state of mind. It doesn't matter that Lian knows that her Uncle Tim, not to mention her Grandpa Bruce, would probably disapprove of what she tells him, because it feels almost right to tell this Roy about it.

 

After all, it isn't as though she's going to discuss Grandpa Bruce's state with her Grandpa Bruce, and her Uncle Tim doesn't like to think about that anymore than he likes to think about Uncle Dick, so it's just easier to talk to this Roy about everything that she can't actually say out loud at home, and maybe that's not a fair assessment. She knows that she could talk to her Uncle Tim about almost anything, and despite how difficult it is for him, he'd willingly discuss it with her, but she doesn't see any reason to hurt her Uncle Tim or force him to hurt himself, so she doesn't bring any of these things up at home. The fact that this Roy actually seems a little horrified at what she tells him isn't supposed to be gratifying in any way, shape, or form, but…well, it's not like she wasn't aware of how difficult her life can be. It's nice to have someone who can at least show emotions and not berate themselves for it afterwards. She misses that, too, even if seeing it makes her want to cry just as much as hugging him does.

 

When Lian convinces this Tim and Dick to allow her to patrol, it's one of the best things that's happened to her since she landed on that rooftop, and the truly happy feeling she gets from their simultaneous nod only last for about 3 nanoseconds before they suggest that she patrol with Roy; although, suggest isn't the right word, because it was unmistakably an order. It isn't as though Lian has anything against this Roy. She's sure he can probably work just as well with his robotic arm as he did before that happened, but she was really hoping to spend more time with this Tim, and see what she could learn from him. But, she knows that isn't all of the truth. The truth is, that what she really wants, in addition to spending more time with this Tim, is to get away from Roy for a while. The last thing that she needs is to compare his fighting style to what she remembers of her father's fighting techniques.

 

The only thing that keeps her from being a petulant child and whining to go with one of the other two is the fact that she can hear extremely soft footfalls coming down the steps. She really doesn't think she can handle seeing this Alfred just yet. So she decides to just bite the inside of her cheek and check her weapons, and her brain can just shut up about the fact that she's checking her weapons the same exact way that Roy does. They get on the very nice bike, which she just wants to spend a few minutes drooling over, just in time to miss Alfred, which is something else that she can be thankful for once she doesn't have to blink back tears, because she's dreamt of going on patrol with her dad, and all of those dreams started with the bike. Her dad always had a special love for motorcycles, and often said that he blamed Dick for that.

 

She can tell that this Roy has a love for bikes too just by the way that he's maneuvering, because--while the driving itself could be considered, at the least, reckless--it's also the most comfortable that she's felt since landing in this strange world with too many heroes, or maybe just enough heroes. They stop to deal with a purse snatcher on their way to the part of the city that Dick and Tim assigned them to patrol tonight. Roy lets her take the guy, and there's something deeply satisfying about kicking the guy's face in, because that's something that will never be awkward, off, or strange--no matter who's watching her do it. Roy doesn't comment until they're back on the bike, and when he does comment all he says is, "So, the boots are weighted."

 

Lian isn't sure why that observation makes her cringe inside, but she's pretty sure it has more to do with the tone. It's like he wanted to say good job, but couldn't bring himself to do so or something. "Yeah, they are. My Uncle Tim said that he always liked having more to work with when it came to the boots, and he figured the weight would be useful for me."

 

Roy doesn't say anything else before starting up the bike again. They get to their designated part of the city, and this is something that she can work with. This Gotham isn't too different from her own. Sure, some of the buildings are wrong or aren't crumbling nearly as much as they are in her world, but it's Gotham, all the same, and Gotham will never stop being home to her. They move well together. Her Uncle Tim taught her how to anticipate people's movements. Of course, that was more for her protection than working with someone who isn't him, but the training works the same in this instance, and it's nice to be out with someone besides her uncle who she isn't expecting a hit from.

 

It feels good to be working with him…better than good, and Lian wants to have this feeling all of the time. She wants what she's always wanted…to patrol with her dad, and she knows…just knows that it would feel exactly like this. Right now, it doesn't matter that he's a different Roy. It doesn't matter that he has one robotic arm, because he does move exactly the way her dad did. It doesn't matter that they are quite literally from two different worlds. It doesn't matter that she absolutely just hit that gang runner a little too hard, because he's there and this is good…really good. Lian bends down to make sure that the idiot who used to have a knife is still breathing. Uncle Tim would look down upon that little slip, but Uncle Tim also wouldn't say much, if anything, because he knows that sometimes the guy with the knife needs a little more encouragement to stay the hell off the streets. Roy doesn't say anything either, and she's not really sure why, but she's grateful for it all the same.

 

They move on, and he seems to be purposefully distancing himself from her, which she thinks she understands. He's a little too far ahead, so Roy has to double back when Lian stops in an alley to take care of a would-be rapist. There's only one, and she knows that she's shown him enough of her skills not to warrant concern here. She can surely take down one asshole with a broken bottle and an impressive vocabulary for curses. Lian has always been tougher on rapists, just like she's tougher on people with explosives…especially the explosives. She didn't appreciate not being able to have an open casket funeral for her father. She's got the guy down on the ground bleeding and begging for his mommy, and a part of her thinks that maybe she shouldn't be enjoying this so much, and another part of her knows that if she was with her Uncle Tim right now, she definitely would have stopped at the begging. He doesn't like seeing her more violent fits of rage, after all, but none of that warrants the robotic arm wrapped around her waist. Lian's about to use one of her less Uncle Tim-approved moves when she feels her feet leave the ground.

 

The wind gets knocked out of her by the sheer force of Roy dumping her on the rooftop. Lian recovers quickly and scrambles to her feet. "Hey, I wasn't done with him."

 

She can't tell what expression he's giving her from behind that mask, but it makes her think of her father all the same, and she has to force herself not to recoil. "Yes, you definitely were. He was begging you to stop. I don't know what type of things your Tim taught you…okay, well I do now…but that type of violence isn’t allowed in this Gotham. You were going to kill him."

 

Lian wants to laugh at that, but settles for rolling her eyes. "Oh please…maim him at best."

 

He stares at her with that horrified expression that she saw back at the cave after she told him about Grandpa Bruce, and it makes her want to vomit, because she's never wanted to see that look on her father's face. It doesn't matter that he isn't her father, because…because no Roy Harper should ever look at a Lian Harper that way. "Are you honestly telling me that your Bruce and Tim are okay with that type of behavior?"

 

She adjusts her posture to something very similar to her Uncle Tim's when he wants to drop a subject. "I don't usually respond in such a way around my Uncle Tim, and well…what Grandpa Bruce doesn't know won't…upset him."

 

Roy clenches his fists, and she's pretty sure that she's just imagining the sounds of strain from the robotic one. "I know that tone on a Bat, just like I know that you were about to use the word disappoint instead of upset. You know what you did is wrong."

 

Lian shrugs. She's made a habit of not getting caught in her world just so she wouldn't be forced into having this conversation. She'd laugh if she didn't want to cry so much. It just fit with everything else that she ended up having this conversation with Roy. "I don't think wrong is the right word here. I know that my Grandpa Bruce wouldn't approve, and Uncle Tim probably wouldn't be comfortable with my approach sometimes, but sometimes just knocking them out isn't good enough."

 

She can tell that he wants to throw his hands in the air by the way that his body shifts, and she's a little impressed that Roy just unclenches his fists and clenches them again without even so much as a shake. "You sound just like Jason, which let me tell you, the other two will not be at all pleased about."

 

Lian shrugs again, because the last thing that she can even think to care about is disappointing a different Tim and Dick, because it already hurts too much that she's clearly disappointed Roy. She isn't sure if that's because this is certainly going to make her plan to make him see that she needs him harder or if it's due to something else entirely. "I don't know any Jason, but if he's lost his father, most of his family, and a good portion of his friends, too, then I'm going to say that maybe it's okay for him to take a less Bruce-approved approach to this life."

 

Roy's jaw tenses, and she's fairly certain that whatever he's about to say is either going to make her cry or want to put an arrow through him. "And what about your father? Do you think he'd be pleased with your approach? Because I don't think I could ever be okay if my baby girl became a killer."

 

The tears are welling in her eyes before he even finishes his sentence, because it's not as though she hasn't thought about it. Sure, she does a lot of things to keep from thinking about it, but it's not like the thought hasn't weaseled its way through all of her mental blocks. "I don't kill." It's all she can do to keep her voice flat.

 

"Maiming isn't much better."

 

It doesn't matter that Lian had expected as much from him. It still feels like a blow to the chest all the same, and she can't keep the tears from falling now…no matter how hard she bites the inside of her cheek. "I can't afford to lose anyone else. I don't have many more people to lose."

 

Roy steps closer to her, and she steps away automatically. "I know, but this isn't the way."

 

That strikes something in her, because…because this isn't her world. "You don't know that. You have more people here. You have fewer chances to lose here. You…you don't know my world. You don't know what needs to be done there."

 

Roy shakes his head at her. "You're right, I don't know your world, but I do know that your Grandpa Bruce and Uncle Tim don't deserve to see you turn into something that you'll regret."

 

That makes her sneer. "You don't know me or what I'll regret."

 

He steps closer to her again, but this time she stands her ground. "Maybe not, but can you really stand to have them disappointed in you? I'll give you a hint if you aren't ready to fess up just yet. You wouldn't hide your approach, as you call it, if you actually thought you could stand the thought of not matching up…not deserving that suit in their eyes."

 

She doesn't tell him that she can't stand the thought of disappointing him either. He moves to wrap his arms around her again, and that's something else that she can't take right now. Lian is still berating herself for the first time that she allowed him to hug her…the first time that she truly failed since coming here. She backs away from him, and doesn't apologize even though she really wants to. He's looking at her like maybe he did something wrong, which is just ridiculous, because it's pretty obvious to her that she's the only one who screwed up tonight. Lian knows now that she should have just stayed at the cave…should have stayed somewhere where she wasn't going to end up…end up hurting in a way that she doesn't know how to deal with. Roy is still staring at her with a hurt expression as well, and he looks like he wants to hug her and make it better, and she wants that…wants to let him at least try, which is how she knows that it's time to leave. She doesn't say anything before she jumps off the roof.

 

She needs to get away. She needs to find a way home. She needs…a hug from her dad.

 

The end (for now)

Comments

brokaw22
Jun. 13th, 2011 03:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I'm glad that you're liking it.