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Fic: Purple Arrow Chapter 5

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 Chapter Four 

Next Chapter: Chapter Six

Roy knows that he's not in the right headspace to be out here tonight. The fact that she isn't actually his daughter is apparently irrelevant to his brain. He's driving as fast as he is simply so that he'll be forced to actually focus on the road. The fact that Roy actually sees the purse snatcher in enough time to stop is more luck than anything else, which he knows is a problem. Roy motions for Lian to go deal with the guy, in the hopes that it'll give him some time to get his head on straight, but the moment that she kicks the guy in the face that thought goes out the window.


Roy stands at the mouth of the alley watching her. There's no reason that he can't give her pointers if she needs them, although he's not surprised that she doesn't need them. It is, however, messing with his head how good she is at taking the perp out, because knowing that she fights like an Arrow/Bat hybrid means nothing when he sees her take the guy down with a smile on her face that reminds him of his Lian's fifth birthday party, and yet so efficiently that he's reminded of the first time that Tim disarmed him.


It was Tim's way of a greeting after Roy had insulted his height, and Roy is pretty sure that it's just impossible to get used to seeing Lian move like Tim. When they get back on the bike, Roy isn't really sure what he's supposed to say. He doesn't think that he has the right to tell her good job, because it was just a purse snatcher. It's not like taking the guy out was a taxing experience, but he still feels like he should say something. The comment about her boots is just proof that Roy should have stayed in tonight, talked to Alfred, and had some cookies; but he isn't actually surprised that that plan fell through.


Roy moves on before their conversation can get even more awkward--not that he thinks that that's actually possible. When the two of them make it to their designated part of the city, Roy couldn't be happier to get off the bike and just move. When they come across a minor gang fight, Roy is ecstatic that he finally gets a chance to release some of his frustration on the idiots. They split the group right in half, and they move like two people who have been fighting together all of their lives. It's a little surreal, and Roy is finding it hard to focus on the fight…especially when she ducks in enough time for him to spin around and hit a guy in the jugular. They both watch the guy crumble to the ground with the same self-satisfied smirk on their faces.


It makes Roy think that his head is about to burst. He can't stop wanting this to last for more than just tonight. He wants to always be able to fight along side this girl…his girl. Roy doesn't get enough time to reprimand himself for that one, because there's a guy with a chain coming towards him. It's a nuisance, but nothing he can't handle. The chain hits his robotic arm, wraps around it, and now the guy is pulling Roy towards him; which just angers Roy more because now he has to…dodge the purple arrow flying past his head. The guy drops the chain, and before he can even get out another curse, Roy knocks his head off the alley wall. It doesn't take long before everyone's down with the exception of one guy. Roy sees Lian hit the guy a little too hard, but he doesn't say anything. Roy doesn't think that there's anything to say. She isn't his daughter, he didn't train her, and certainly she knows what she's doing. He watches Lian check the guy over before binding him.


Roy doesn't know if she's normally that rough with people in her Gotham, and he's fairly certain that it doesn't really matter if she is. Clearly, her Uncle Tim knows how she works and hasn't seen a problem with it, and it's not like she suddenly went Jason on anyone's ass tonight, so it's not like he has any right to be unnerved by it. The problem is, he is unnerved by it. Roy is reasonably sure that anyone who was trained by any Tim should have more control than that. He's also pretty certain that it was a slipup due to the way that she looked up at him. It was almost as though she was expecting a reprimand, which just makes Roy even more uncomfortable with the situation.


When the two of them take to the rooftops, Roy makes sure to put some distance between them. He needs to get far enough away that he can clear his head a little.  He knows that he shouldn't be having another breakdown over this. After all, it isn't like Roy wasn't hoping for a good fight tonight in order to work through a few things, and it wasn't even like she really hit that guy that hard. He knows, however, the real problem that he's having with the situation is the fact that she didn't seem very sorry for that slipup in general, and she seemed really damn grateful that he didn't say anything. It's making him question if he should have said something, and it's making him wish that she had gone out with Tim tonight.


Roy knows that it's a little childish and it's definitely cowardice that he's wishing for that simply because that would mean Roy wasn't dealing with this…dealing with her. He knows that he can barely keep his own life from tipping over the edge and going to the really dark depressing places on regular basis. He doesn't want to responsible for keeping someone else from that edge. There was once a time when that dark place was kept at bay by the light of a little girl with pigtails pulling on his hand and forcing him to play dolls with her, but that was years ago. Now, he's left with his own devices to keep from slipping, and he's pretty sure that he's failing miserably…especially now.


Roy catches Lian stopping in an alley out the corner of his eye, and he's actually really grateful for the distraction. He doubles back to meet up with her, and finds her pummeling a would-be rapist. He stands by and watches her for a few moments. There's only one guy, she is trained, and it's not like they didn't just take down a small gang, so it's not as though she needs any help with this. So, there's no really reason for him to jump in with an assist here. At least that's what he thinks, but after she's got him down on the ground bleeding, she's still not stopping. Suddenly the distraction that he was so grateful for is causing a knot to form in his stomach. No Lian Harper should be that cruel with anyone, especially not when the guy is crying out…no, begging for her to stop. Roy isn't sure if it's a need to stop the guy's blubbering, a need to stop Lian from becoming something that he can't deal with, or a need to just get away that causes him to wrap his robotic arm around her waist, but he's thankful that it happens all the same.


The conversation that takes place on the rooftop leaves him feeling sick afterwards. He understands what it's like to be pushed to do stupid things…to be pushed to hurt the scum that they deal with nightly more than is strictly necessary. He knows what it's like to take all of the pain, anger, and grief out on the criminals, but he never wanted that for his little girl. He knows that this Lian isn't his little girl, but that doesn't mean that he feels any better about what happened…what she was about to do. Roy didn't expect it to hurt so much to watch someone who merely looked like his daughter in pain, but it does, and it doesn't get any better now that she's jumped off the roof and is running away. He could follow her…hell, he probably should follow her, but Roy just can't make his feet move right now.


He needs a moment, or ten, but he's not getting either, because before he can even sink down to his knees, wallow in the pain, and just drown in it for awhile his comm crackles to life. "Why have you separated from Purple Arrow?"


It's Tim and that's not helping the situation at all. "How did you even know that we separated?"


Roy is pretty sure that he can hear the smirk in Tim's voice. "I placed a tracer on her while we were sparring earlier."


"Of course you did." Roy isn't sure what to say after that. He doesn't want to relive what just happened… at least not right now…not so soon. "I…I'm heading back to the cave."


"Are you hurt?" It's Dick's voice that he's hearing over the comm now, which is better than hearing Tim's right now.


"Not physically, no." They're Bats, so Roy is sure that they both picked up on the implications of that.


There's a moment of silence over the comm for a second, which Roy is reasonably sure means that they're deciding on what to do. "Go ahead and head back. Nightwing will meet you there. I'll go after Purple Arrow." The 'we'll discuss what happened when I get back' isn't spoken, but Roy hears it all the same.


The moment that the comm. goes dead Roy wants to crumble to his knees and just fall apart, but he knows that now just isn't the time. He needs to get back to the cave, and preferably before Dick. It'll just be easier to deal if he's already falling apart at the cave before Dick gets even more worried than he probably already is. Roy is off the roof before he can do something truly stupid, like convince himself to go after her.


When he makes it back to the cave Roy silently congratulates himself on making it in one piece. He doesn't even make it past the entrance before he feels a hand on his shoulder. Roy is too emotionally exhausted to be startled, so he just hangs his head, and sighs. "Hey, Dick."


Dick leads him further into the cave and practically pushes him into Bruce's chair. "So, what happened?"


Roy holds up a hand. "Nah uh, Alfred cookies before my pathetic sob story. I know that's how this works." Dick smiles a little and gestures to something behind Roy. Roy turns to see a plate of chocolate chip cookies sitting near the furthest corner of the desk. "I think I love that man."


Dick laughs lightly. "We all do. Now, are you going to tell me what happened?"


Roy takes a deep breath before letting it out slowly. Before he can stop himself his mouth opens, and he's not even sure what he's saying, but it feels good, and right, and…there's nothing but relief. "It's my fault. I should have stayed in tonight. She should have been out with Tim, and I should have had a chat with Alfred the moment that I got here…probably while she was in the middle of sparring Tim. I also should have said something the moment that she hit that one guy a little too hard, but really it's not like there's a single one of us who hasn't made that mistake once or a thousand times."


Dick just stares at him for a moment. "Okay, that didn't actually clear up anything."


Roy sighs and tries again. "Okay, so I'm pretty sure that I'm still fucked up in the head from…well, everything. I don't think I even realized how fucked up in the head I was/am until she dropped out of that portal, but I'm pretty sure that no man should have to see a girl who looks a hell of a lot like his dead daughter almost maim a guy."


Dick's eyes widen as his brain registers what Roy just said. "She did WHAT?"


Roy slumps further into the chair as he grabs a cookie off the plate in front of him. "Yeah, I'm not really sure how far she would have gone if I hadn't pulled her off the guy."


Dick grabs a cookie as well before he sinks down to the floor and sits in front Roy. "She was trained by a Tim, so I'm sure that she would have stopped before it got serious, right?"


Roy shakes his head. He'd say that he hopes so, but Roy knows better than to hope…has for quite some time…probably since the day that Lian died.  "I don't know, Dick. The guy was down, bleeding, and begging. Not to mention that this Tim scares me a little. I don't even want to think about a Tim who's basically lost everything, from what she's said."


Dick raises an eyebrow at him. "You think that her Tim taught her that it's okay to maim because he's… What? …out of his fucking mind due to grief?"


Roy shrugs. "I don't know. I mean she said that she doesn’t usually let him see that type of behavior, but it was…scary really doesn't cover it, and I really didn't like seeing a Lian Harper that way, Dick. And it really doesn't matter that she's not my Lian. We can't let her go back thinking that that's okay."


Dick looks really conflicted at that, and Roy wants to tell him that he doesn't care if Dick has objections--he's not letting her go back if she's going to fight like that. There are too many parts of his brain that want to say something right now about not letting her go back at all, but Roy knows that that's not an option. He doesn't precisely remember all of his well thought-out reasons for that, but he thinks that he should probably hold off on any more mental breakdowns…at least for a little while. Dick chews on another cookie for a moment before swallowing and replying to Roy's previous statement. "Roy, we can't just keep her here until she's thinking in a way that we deem appropriate. Hell, for all we know it's completely acceptable and necessary in her Gotham to…"


Roy can't believe what he's hearing. He especially can't believe that he's hearing this from Dick. This is the type of argument that Roy would have expected from Tim, or someone who is equally as emotionally inept. "To what, Dick? Maim a guy? I don't think that's acceptable in any Gotham."


Dick sighs. "Look, the point is, Roy, she isn't from our world, and it's not our place. If her Tim has a problem with it, then it's up to him to have that talk with her. Besides, if her Tim is anything like this Tim, then he taught her the less savory stuff, and left it up to her to decide when and how to use it, if at all."


Roy rolls his eyes as he viciously takes another bite out of his cookie. "Yeah, well clearly she's using it."


Dick stands up and places a hand on Roy's shoulder. "Yeah, but we don't know the whole story, Roy, and I feel almost certain that if you were having this conversation with Tim or Bruce they'd say something here about how our only responsibility to this girl is to make sure that she doesn't hurt anyone in this Gotham that badly, and get her home and out of our hair."


Roy sighs again. "Yeah, I guess you're right, but it all still seems so very wrong."


Roy launches into an abridged version of the conversation that he had with Lian on the roof, and waits for Dick to say something in response. The two of them are quiet for a time before Dick turns back to him. "I don't know what to say to any of that, but I do hope that our world never turns into the hell pit that her world so obviously is."


Roy nods, because that's exactly what he's been thinking ever since the moment that she started talking about her world. "Yeah, me too." It doesn't matter that Roy used to hate this world, and once upon a time thought that it was the cruelest of them all for how it treated children. He knows now that, while this world has its own problems, it could be far worse and far lonelier. That doesn't change the fact that he still misses his daughter, he still thinks that it's unfair that she was taken from him, and he still wishes that it had been him who died that day.


Dick grips Roy's shoulder tighter for a moment. "So, do you still want to have a chat with Alfred? Because, I'm pretty sure that'll have to wait until tomorrow, but we could spar until Tim drags Purple Arrow back here by her hair."


Roy laughs, because the mental image of that is just too damn funny, and he knows that Dick chose to use the name Purple Arrow as opposed to Lian to make it easier on him. Roy wants Dick to know that he's extremely grateful for that. "Yeah, and thanks for not using her other name."


Dick waves a hand at him. "Not a problem. Besides, you're not the only one having a problem saying that name. It's been a long time, but damn if it doesn't still hurt."


Roy nods as he starts to walk over toward the mats. He loses his weapons and gestures for Dick to do the same. The last thing that Roy needs is for this spar to turn into an ugly struggle for a knife, and he's really not in the mood to deal with the bruises that Dick's escrima sticks usually leave. The two of them stretch out before moving into ready positions. Dick is being nice enough to allow Roy to drive this spar. He's letting Roy set the boundaries…at least at first, and Roy knows that the moment that he even so much as looks like he's ready for more than just feints, this spar is going to turn into the type of fight that all of their spars eventually do.


Roy kicks out halfheartedly at Dick's ribs. Dick flips over him, and goes for a sweep. Roy jumps away and smiles. This feels good. He'd prefer to be hitting a bag with his face right now, but this works, too, and almost certainly won't lead to missing teeth…probably, anyway. Dick's flexibility always makes hand-to-hand combat interesting, and almost all spars with him push Roy to his limits, which right now is something that Roy needs. There's a certain kind of vertigo one gets when he's far more emotionally exhausted than physically exhausted, and sparring with Dick is always physically exhausting. It makes for a certain type of equilibrium that Roy hasn't had in what feels like forever.


Dick is spending the majority of this spar dodging, flipping, spinning, and blocking. Roy is reasonably sure that Dick's not going to actually attack until Roy makes it abundantly clear that he's actually able to do more than just take the hits. No one knows Roy's destructive tendencies better than Dick. Roy thinks that he deserves the pain, deserves to have a few bruises to make up for his stunning lack of focus tonight…for all of the mistakes that he made tonight, and there's no doubt in Roy's mind that he made a lot of them. The expression that Lian had when she jumped off that roof was enough to confirm that for him. She looked like…well, the same way he looked when he first failed everyone in his life. She looked like she was dying on the inside, and Roy is almost certain that no one knows that expression, that pain, that self-loathing more than he does.


He's brought out of his thoughts when he hears Dick's voice. "I know what you're doing, so stop it."


Roy raises an eyebrow as he ducks a kick from Dick. "What are you talking about?"


Dick spins around, and goes for a punch to the kidneys, which Roy barely manages to move away from. "You think you screwed up tonight. You didn't. Admittedly we probably should have found out more about her before we let her out tonight, and we definitely should have interrogated her more, but that was more Tim's and my own screw-up."


Roy rolls his eyes as he fakes a kick to Dick's knee, and throws a punch that would have broken Dick's jaw had it connected. "There's something wrong with every single one of you Bats. The girl goes crazy on some guy, and you blame yourself and Tim for not interrogating her more. If anything, I should have kept closer to her, and I should have been ready to rein her in at any time, but I was too busy focusing on my cracked psyche."


Dick hums, as he volts over Roy, and lands a kick to Roy's back that would have stung like hell if Dick wasn't pulling it. "Okay, so Tim and I broke protocol, but you don't think we should blame ourselves. Meanwhile, you were thrown into a situation that no one should have to deal with, but you think that you have more reason to brood than us? I think a certain Arrow is forgetting which one of us is the Bat here."


Roy grunts as Dick lands another hit, this one to his shoulder, but before Dick can flip away Roy knocks his feet out from under him, and pounces on top of him. "Okay, so maybe I'm being a little hard on myself, but you weren't there, Dick. You didn't see the expression she had on her face after that talk. I know I hit a sore spot with her, and I didn't want to, but she needed to see that the way that she was fighting just wasn't going to lead anywhere good."


Dick throws him off, gets back to his feet, and leaps toward Roy before Roy can even brace himself for the impact of Dick's body. They're on the ground grappling with each other, but before Dick can pin Roy, Roy manages to slip away from him. Dick gets to his feet again, but doesn't attack. "Alright, I'll give you that. I wasn't there; but don't you think that maybe part of her problem might have been the fact that she clearly angered and disappointed you."


Roy doesn't know what to say to that. He hadn't actually considered that, and he doesn't even know why his opinion would matter in the slightest to her. "I'm not her father. I'm not even from her world. I don't know her, and she doesn't know me. Why the hell would disappointing me matter to her?"


Dick rolls his eyes and looks like he really wants to punch Roy in the face. "Maybe because you made her realize that she probably would be disappointing her own father."


Roy stops mid kick for that one, because, while he had thought of that, it hadn't really sunk in. "Okay, now I really want to punch myself in the face. Mind doing the honors?"


Dick laughs and moves to clasp a hand on Roy's shoulder. "No, but I will race you upstairs. I told Alfred that hot chocolate would probably be in order while I was on my way here."


Roy can't help it. He has to smile at that, because it's just so Dick, and hot chocolate does sound far better than a punch to the face, even if he still thinks that the latter would make him feel less like an ass. "Yeah, let's do that." The two of them change as quickly as possible before dashing up the stairs.


Roy doesn't think that hot chocolate and cookies are going to fix anything. He still feels like he should bash his head against the cave wall until Tim and Lian get back, but he can't deny that hot chocolate and cookies sounds a hell of a lot more appealing. He takes the stairs two at a time, while Dick does his own crazy flips and such. Roy thinks that maybe he should consider a nap, or a tranquilizer, or an electric shock, or…something that will let him just deal with all of this.


Dick's right, after all; they don't have any real responsibility to this girl, which means that he shouldn't actually care about what happens next--but he does, because not caring feels like too much of a cop out. Simply saying that she's not his daughter so it doesn't matter, feels like letting down his own daughter in some way, which he knows is just ridiculous…or maybe just completely accurate. Roy isn't sure about anything…not anymore, and he thinks that maybe that's just one more piece of evidence that this entire situation is going to drive him crazy. Of course, that's assuming that he isn't crazy already. All he knows is that there's too much pain for him to deal with right now, and he knows that the next time that he sees her, their interaction is going to be twice as hard to deal with than it already is. And for some reason, a part of him feels like he's losing his daughter all over again, which makes no sense…except for all of the ways that it does.


The End (for now)


Jul. 18th, 2010 09:28 am (UTC)
I only avoided letting myself fall into my pattern of commenting on everything immediately exactly as happily as I was in response to reading your fics to avoid flooding you with squee. I don't find many fic authors who when I slip into their Lj have a straight run of winning fics with my favourite characters where the story is the important part not whether or not the characters tumble into bed with one another. Your characterization of Lian is excellent because you took the echoes of the child's appearences and bat characteristics and matured them really nicely.

The only reason I could see for lack of response is wherever you are posting too is a low-hit community. It isn't the quality of your writing for certain.
Jul. 18th, 2010 07:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks a lot for saying so. That's certainly encouraging, and you can flood me with squee anytime.