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Fic: Purple Arrow Chapter 6

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 Chapter Five 

Next Chapter: Chapter Seven

 

Lian doesn't know where she's going. It's not like she had a plan beyond getting away...getting far away. All she knows is that she's in some other Gotham letting people down--people she didn't even know existed 16 hours ago. She's in an alley curled in on herself trying to find some way to deal with the mess that she's made, when she hears the sound of a cape behind her. She doesn't respond to it, though. This isn't her world. That isn't her Tim standing at the mouth of alley, and it doesn't matter if she knows that he's concerned or not, because she just wants to go home.

 

He steps closer to her, but she doesn't uncurl herself any. “Purple Arrow, are you hurt?”

 

She wants to scream at how much he sounds like her Tim, but all she does is shake her head. “No, I'm fine.”

 

He laughs, but there's no humor in it. “I really don't think that you're fine, and I've got a funny feeling that that trick doesn't work back home anymore than it does here.”

 

Lian sighs as she gets to her feet. “I just...I miss my Gotham.”

 

Tim stares at her, but she can't tell what expression he's wearing underneath his cowl. “Somehow, I don't actually believe that that's the reason that you look so miserable, nor do I believe it's the reason you're in this alley.”

 

She lets her shoulders slump. She's pretty sure Roy told him everything anyway, so she might as well just get it over with. “So, what do you intend to do with me?”

 

“What do you mean?” Tim definitely sounds confused, and Lian's got a feeling that he's raising an eyebrow at her from underneath his cowl...even if it's only because that's what her Tim would be doing right now.

 

She sighs again, and she really wants to hug herself, but she won't. Lian was well trained, and she doesn't have to act like a child just because this Tim acts so much like her own. “I'm sure he told you everything, so...” She trails off. Lian doesn't really want to find out what he has in store for her, but she knows that prolonging the inevitable doesn't really solve anything.

 

Tim shakes his head at her--and that irks her, because Lian knows that he's seeing a child right now. She wants to scream at him that she's not a child, which Lian knows wouldn't actually help in any case. “He didn't tell me anything. All Red Arrow said was that he needed to head back to the cave; so why don't you tell me what happened?”

 

Lian bites her lip for a moment. She's surprised that he didn't say anything, but she figures it makes sense. After all, he looked just as upset as she still feels. Lian doesn't understand why he looked that way. She thinks it's rather clear that she's the only one who keeps screwing up. She lost control, and she knows exactly how her Uncle Tim would respond to that. The thought alone makes her stomach drop, and she really doesn't want to answer this Tim's question. She doesn't want to see his reaction; and if he's anything like her Tim...well, she's not exactly sure how her Tim would respond to the rest of what happened tonight, but that seems to be even more of a reason to weasel her way out of this conversation. “I don't know what you're talking about.”

 

He folds his arms over his chest. Eventually she'll get over how similar he is to her Tim...or so she hopes. “I've got a feeling that you learned that trick from your Tim. I also have news for you--the only time you should use someone else's trick against them is if you think that you can get them to show you a way to defend against it, and I can guarantee you that isn't going to happen here.”

 

She bites the inside of her cheek and tries to remember to breathe. She knows from experience with her own Tim that once a Tim is onto something he isn't going to let it go unless he gets the truth, or at least something that he can reasonably tell himself is the truth. Lian doesn't want to see the look of disappoint...the look of...hate. She doesn't know if there's anything she could ever do to make her Tim hate her, but this isn't her Tim, and if what Roy says is true...well, she can't bank on the fact that some Lian was close to this Tim, because there wasn't.

 

She lets her thoughts stop there, because she doesn't want to imagine a world where she isn't close to her Tim. Some days it feels like he's all she has left, and she really needs to focus--because she's visibly shaking, and she needs to get that under control exactly 2.7 seconds ago. He moves lightning fast, and he's got his hands on her shoulders, looking Lian over like she's a victim in shock or something. She knows that she needs to pull herself together, but she's just not sure if she can handle that right now.

 

Lian opens her mouth to tell him that she's fine, but instead what comes out is a string of words that sound a lot like what she did on patrol tonight. She can't shut herself up, and Lian isn't sure if she wants to. Certainly, she doesn't want to deal with the fallout once this Tim realizes exactly how much she's failed, but Lian can't help but think that maybe it would be a relief. On one hand, it would mean that someone finally saw her for who she is instead of the girl that she tries to be for her Grandpa Bruce and her Uncle Tim. On the other hand, it could very well mean being locked up for the duration of her stay in this world. She shudders again at that thought, because there's nothing worse than being held captive in a place that you can't get out of. Except this time would be worse, because this time her Uncle Tim won't be coming to rescue her. Mainly because her Uncle Tim would be the reason that she's a captive to begin with, and no, that's not accurate because he isn't actually her uncle...even if he does smell just like him.

 

Tim tightens his hold on her shoulders, and tries to calm her down. “It's okay. Really, it's okay. We all slip up. We all make mistakes. It's fine.”

 

She can't believe what he's saying, especially since it's not even true. Lian pushes him away from her. “How the hell can you call this okay? How the hell is this fine? You weren't there. You didn't...you didn't see his face. My dad...I mean, Roy was so disappointed in me. I don't think I can ever look him in the eye again.”

 

Tim nods at her, and she really wants to punch him in the face, because that's the 'you're about to figure it out and when you do I may just snicker at you for awhile' nod that she's used to getting from her Uncle Tim all the time. “See, and this is why it's okay. If you weren't screwed up in the head over this...if you didn't feel bad about it...if disappointing the people around you didn't matter to you, then I would worry; but you know what you did was wrong. You know that you lost control, and you know that that isn't okay...not here and certainly not back in your own Gotham. As for everything else that's upsetting you right now...well, Roy's not your father, but I can tell you that he probably does want what's best for you. I'm not your uncle, but I will train you as much as possible before you go back. And Dick? Well, he will shower you with affection. No matter how you feel about it, so I suggest you deal with that now.”

 

Lian smiles at him awkwardly. He's right, of course, on all counts. It's just that she wasn't actually expecting him to just lay it all out like that. In fact, the impression that she got from the other two was that he didn't do stuff like this all that often. She knows from experience, and from everything that her Aunt Barbara and Grandpa Bruce have said, that her Uncle Tim never really acts like this either, so it's a little weird to see this Tim act so...open. She can tell just from the way that he's standing that it's not something that he's used to, and, for some reason, she feels as though it's up to her to lighten the conversation slightly. “So, is this your speech to get me to go back to the cave?”

 

Tim smirks at her. “Well, where else are you going to go?”

 

Lian folds her arms over her chest. “You may have a point, but I still don't know if I can handle seeing your Alfred yet.”

 

Tim inclines his head slightly, and she knows that he's about to say something that she's going to want to laugh at. “I'm sure Nightwing would say something about how his cooking should make it worth it, but I'm simply going to say that Alfred and chocolate are two words that make even Bruce stop brooding...sometimes.”

 

Lian does laugh, because how could she possibly forget something so simply universal. An Alfred who can't cook is like a Harper who can't shoot. It just isn't feasible. She takes a moment to calm herself before she turns back to Tim. “So, you really aren't mad at me?”

 

Tim shakes his head at her. “I doubt it would surprise you to know that I, myself, have slipped a time or two, and I don't think there's anyone in this life who hasn't. I can't speak for the others, of course, but I'm sure that if all of us think calmly and rationally we can get over this incident and focus on the more important issue at hand, such as getting you home.”

 

She smiles at him shyly. Lian had never expected this conversation to go so easily, and part of her is still waiting for the other shoe to drop, but she thinks that she can manage to focus on her relief for, at least, a little while longer. “I know that after everything that I just told you, you probably want to get me back to the cave as quickly as possible, but...”

 

Tim holds up a hand to stop her. “But you really want to finish your patrol.”

 

She gives him a very small, very curt nod. “I promise to stick with you, and to follow every order you give me, and because I was trained by a Tim, you know that I mean even the unspoken orders. It's just that...I don't think I can go back there still feeling like this. I don't think I can be okay with that moment being the last thing I did out here tonight. I...I need this.” She doesn't think that he's going to go for it...not even a little bit. Especially since, if the roles were reversed, she sure as hell wouldn't let someone who had done what she did out on the street again, and certainly not on the same night.

 

She can tell that he's looking her over, and probably giving her a hard glare under that cowl. Lian doesn't know what he's looking for, nor is she sure what he's actually seeing, but after a moment or two, he takes a step closer, looming over her. “Every order?” She nods once, and holds her breath. He inclines his head slightly. “Then let's go.”

 

The two of them jump off the roof together, and she allows him to take the lead. This feels just as good as swinging with Roy had at first, and it feels just as right as patrolling with her own Tim does. She isn't sure what she said that had convinced Tim to allow her to continue to patrol, but Lian is grateful for it all the same. She follows behind him as close as possible, and when he shifts his route to stop in an alley she stays on the roof and allows him to handle it. Lian doesn't want to make one wrong move, so she's not going to make any until he signals her to. She's never liked just standing by and taking orders, but she's well aware of how necessary it can be, and she's certainly use to it.

 

Tim zip strips the guy, and motions for her to meet him on the ground. She leaps from the roof, and lands behind him and to his left. Lian waits for Tim to move or speak, but he doesn't do anything for a long moment. She's itching to move, but she knows this part. This is to test if she can actually just stand quietly beside him without questioning what happens next. Her Tim did this with her a lot when she was younger. Her Tim also spent a lot of time comparing her to her Uncle Dick back then. She spent a lot of time with her Dick when she was younger, and her father more than once complained about her picking up his bad habits...like not being able to sit still for very long. She often still sees the pain in her Uncle Tim's eyes every time that she does something that reminds him of Dick, which is actually a great motivator for her to remain still, but sometimes even that doesn't help her restlessness.

 

After what feels like forever Tim nods and they move back to the rooftops. He's following a different route than Red Arrow had, and she's not really sure why, but she doesn't question it. After all, Gotham isn't Red Arrow's home...no matter how comfortable he may have looked on these rooftops. They stop on a rooftop about a mile away from where they last stopped, and Tim (he still has yet to give her his code name, although she doesn't know why) crouches on the ledge, and watches the building across the street. He motions for her to crouch beside him. “I've been doing surveillance on this building for the past week.”

 

She nods, and doesn't ask why this building in particular. This is another type of test. He's trying to see how long she can go without breaking the silence, or her promise to follow every order. She knows this just as well as everything else that goes along with this type of life. Lian wants to smile, because this feels just like the first time that she went out with her Tim. She was almost ten, and her costume, back then, was more gray than purple. Grandpa Bruce wanted to put a bat symbol on it, but her Uncle Tim wouldn't let him. Lian remembers the long and loud fight they had about that one, and she's not really sure how Tim managed to win, but she's always been silently grateful that he had. Lian will always love the Bat side of her family, but she knows that her father would never...hell, could never approve of a bat symbol on her chest.

 

Tim shifts beside her, and she's well aware that he just caught her not paying attention, still that doesn't mean that she has to admit to it. “I'm paying attention. I swear.”

 

He gives her a look from under his cowl, but she can't tell if it's a wry expression, or if he's just glaring a little. The set of his mouth isn't very telling right now, and she knows that he's doing it on purpose, but it's still frustrating. “I'm sure that it's difficult for you to focus when you're still trying to deal with what happened tonight while comparing everything to your home.”

 

His voice is blank, which isn't helping her decide if that was supposed to be a snide comment, just an observation, or a guess at what she's thinking that she's supposed to correct as need be. “It's...I'm dealing, really. It's just...well everything's so much alike, and yet so very different here.”

 

He nods once, and she really wants to suggest that he switch to just an eye mask, because she didn't realize how much she needs to see what little emotion her Tim allows himself to show until she didn't have it anymore. It might cut down on confusion, and she's sure that there are probably plenty of misunderstandings due to the lack of being able to see his expressions. After all, the amount of tension in one's jaw can only tell an outside observer so much. Besides, they are Bats, which means that there are probably a lot of misunderstandings just from a lack of communication. Lian wonders how the hell they all manage to get along and work together. She has enough problems getting along with and working with Uncle Tim and Aunt Barbara when she isn't necessarily at her best at reading them. Certainly, it has to be harder with more people, less talking, and less obvious facial expressions. “You should all talk more.” And she didn't actually mean to say that out loud, but well...it's not even on the list of top ten things that she shouldn't have said tonight.

 

He turns to her, and she knows when a Timmy is raising his eyebrow...mostly full face mask or not. “I thought you said you were focusing.”

 

She smirks at him. Mainly because it's the only thing that she can think to do at this precise moment. “I am...I just didn't tell you what I was focusing on.”

 

Tim lets out a breathy laugh, and she can't tell, but she's pretty sure it's a pained one. Her Tim sounds like that when she does something to remind him of Uncle Dick. “What did I...no, who did I just remind you of?”

 

He stares straight at her, not saying anything for a long moment. Just when Lian is about to turn her attention back to the building they're supposed to be doing surveillance on Tim whispers so quietly that she has to strain to hear him. “A little girl who never really got to reach her full potential.”

 

Lian nods once, but doesn't respond. That should have been obvious. It's all she's been hearing since she stepped out of that portal. She sets her jaw, and wipes all emotion from her face. She thinks that she should probably work more on trying to keep her eyes blank too--if only because she knows that her Uncle Tim always sees right through her mask--but she just can't muster up the effort right now. Lian is about to call this a mistake and make some excuse to go back to the cave, but before she can even start her half-baked evasion tactic, Tim interrupts with what she thinks is his version of a nervous laugh. “You know, it's really weird to see one of my own expressions on your face.”

 

Lian can't help it. She has to smile at that, because this isn't the first time that someone has commented on her picking up certain things beyond fighting techniques from her Uncle Tim. Her Aunt Barbara and Grandpa Bruce often 'suggest' she spend more time with kids her own age when she does something distinctly Tim-ish. “Thank you. I'll take that as a compliment, and smile with pride at every gray hair I'm personally responsible for causing Grandpa Bruce and Aunt Barbara.”

 

The corner of Tim's mouth twitches. She doesn't know about this Tim, but for her's, that expression is the equivalent of laughing oneself to tears. The fact that she managed to induce such a thing while on patrol is really just an added bonus. Lian takes a small bow, and this time Tim's smile is actually big enough that a normal person might even actually see it. Lian grins in return. He stands up out of his crouch, and visibly tries to wipe the smile from his face. “You're a lot like Roy, too, you know?”

 

Lian raises an eyebrow at him out of skepticism. “Really? Because I would think that, after tonight, I've kind of proven that if I am anything like him it's clearly not enough to matter.”

 

Tim folds his arms over his chest, and clearly glares down at her, and she has to bite her tongue to keep from giggling, because she knows...just knows that he uses that particular glare on the less threatening criminals, and kids who just need a little more reassurance to stay in doors at night, eat all of their vegetables, and do their homework. It really is kind of funny. “Did you ever think that his biggest problem was that he knows all too well how slippery the slope you were going down tonight can be?”

 

That catches Lian off-guard, because...well, she knows enough about her own father's 'slip-ups' to keep her from following certain paths--and she has both her Aunt Barbara and her Grandpa Bruce to thank for that one--but she never pegged this Roy as going through those same things. It's actually starting to really irk her how much she just doesn't know, and not just about this world and it's heroes, but about her own. Back home, Lian knows what she needs to know, or at least what her Uncle Tim, Aunt Barbara, and Grandpa Bruce think she needs to know, and the lack of information has never frustrated her quite the way it does now. She knows their reasons, or at least she thinks that she does, but that isn't making any of this any easier, and Tim did actually pose a question to her, and she is actually supposed to respond to it sometime this century. “So you're saying I'm too much like him?”

 

Tim shrugs. “Maybe it's something that you should discuss with him.”

 

Lian throws back her head and laughs, which seems to startle Tim slightly, but she can't help it. She takes a moment to herself to just soak up the irony of that statement, and then lets it out in a loud whole-hearted laugh. After a few moments she manages to compose herself again. “Sorry, it's just...you've gotta think that's funny.”

 

Tim is definitely raising his eyebrow again. “Oh, do I?”

 

Lian wants to giggle at his obvious confusion, but she pushes the laughter down this time. “Come on, you're a Bat...you don't communicate...you see a problem that can be solved with a discussion and you run in the other direction, and yet you're telling me that I should have a discussion with a guy whose past--whose obviously painful past--is none of my business. That's...that's just funny. Bats have no problem telling other people to talk out their issues, but have you ever seen a Bat try the same thing. I highly doubt it.”

 

Tim's eyebrows clearly furrow under the cowl, which at least is a good sign that Lian hasn't completely lost her ability to read people in this life. “Okay, is this reaction due to something you've noticed between myself and the others, or did I just remind you of something back home?”

 

Lian shakes her head as if to clear it, and then blows the few strands of dark hair that have fallen out of her ponytail out of her face. “Aunt Barbara, Uncle Tim, and Grandpa Bruce...they never talk...not about anything that isn't mission related...if they can help it, and if, for some reason, they can't avoid a certain touchy subject anymore, they usually do their talking through me, and they sure as hell never talk about Uncle Dick without some type of horrible breakdown. It's the same way here, you know? I watched you and Dick in the cave. You're a hell of a lot more civil, but you still don't actually talk...not really, you know? I mean, there's clearly something wrong. Clearly, something happened between the two of you, and you just keep avoiding it. It was obvious when you two were talking in the cave. You're just dancing around each other, and whatever the subject is that's made you two...the way that you are.”

 

Tim hums for a moment. “And this bothers you?”

 

Lian shrugs as she runs a hand through her hair...messing it up even further. “Only if you're going to tell me that I should be talking to a guy I don't even know...a guy that I'm fairly certain doesn't want to know me.”

 

Tim sighs. “It might be good for you...that's all, and by the way...he might surprise you.”

 

Lian raises an eyebrow at him. “What's that supposed to mean?”

 

Tim gives her a small smile. “Just that I think you both want to get to know each other more than either of you want to allow yourselves, and that's mainly for fear of...something.”

 

Lian folds her arms over her chest. “Something? I know that tone on my Tim it means that he's pretty sure that he knows the answer already, but he wants me to figure it out on my own.”

 

Tim's smile only grows more mischievous at that. “Then figure it out. Now come on, we've got a patrol to finish.”

 

She knows that the conversation is over. It's time to work, and she has to follow him...and not just because she promised that she would. It still irks her, but she has to follow if she's going to figure it all out. Lian wants to know what he sees...what he thinks is going on with both of them, because she sure as hell doesn't know. She finds it hilarious that she needs Tim to tell her what Roy is thinking, because she can't figure it out for herself. Lian isn't sure if that makes her too Bat or not Bat enough, but she can't even care right now, because if what Tim alluded to is true, then she still has hope. There's still a chance for her to get what she wants...what she needs.

 

If Roy wants to get to know her...if he wants to teach her, then that can only work in her favor. If he already thinks that she needs to learn from him, then it can't be that hard for her to convince him that she doesn't just need to learn from him, but that she needs him...needs a father, because...well, she's fairly certain that it's all obvious and true anyway. She can certainly work with that, but...but she doesn't get to finish that thought because Tim is waiting for her on the next rooftop over, and she has to find out what he knows about the situation--because if he, even for one moment, thinks that she's going to try to convince Roy to come back with her, then he's most likely going to convince Roy that she's just a different type of evil, and that's not true at all. She's just a girl, who needs a dad...her dad's been dead for far too long. But that's okay, because the universe wouldn't be offering her such a stunning replacement if it didn't think that she didn't need it or deserve it, right?

 

The End (for now)

 



Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
spastasmagoria
Aug. 31st, 2010 06:30 am (UTC)
Thanks for writing this. The arsenal storyline totally bummed me out but this makes it a little better in my brainmeats.
brokaw22
Aug. 31st, 2010 06:29 pm (UTC)
I'm glad. I just can't believe how well received this story is. I mean, you were there when I came up with the idea.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )