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Fic: Purple Arrow Chapter 11

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 Chapter: Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four Chapter Five Chapter Six Chapter Seven Chapter Eight Chapter Nine  Chapter Ten

Next Chapter: Chapter Twelve

Roy isn't surprised that, when he walks into the kitchen Alfred already has a cup of coffee sitting on the table waiting for him. He sits down in front of it and just breathes in the aroma for a few moments before taking a sip. It's perfect...just like everything else that Alfred makes. “You're the best.”

Alfred doesn't say anything before placing a small plate of shortbread cookies in front of him. Roy knows that this is the carrot before the stick treatment. There's going to be a lecture, and quite frankly, he's pretty sure that he deserves whatever Alfred is about to say. He sighs and braces himself for the impact of a proper English gentleman's tongue lashing, which would be why his eyes widen in surprise when the man just places a hand on his shoulder. “You're doing the best that you can in this peculiar and trying situation, sir.”

Roy smiles slightly to himself. He doesn't really believe it's true, but hearing someone say so is still nice. “Thanks, but I'm pretty sure that you're the only one who thinks so. Tim and I are probably being ridiculous, Dick's most likely right, and for the first time in my entire life, I actually wish Batman was around.” Roy resists the urge to hide his face in his hands, but doesn't stop himself from slouching further into his seat. “I can't help but think that I should have just handed her over to Dick and left. If Bruce would have been here, it wouldn't have even been up for debate, and well...then everything would have been better, right?”

Alfred raises an eyebrow, which clearly implies, 'how could you think that way?'. It's an expression, which only Alfred can truly use to make a grown man reconsider the entire way that he thinks. “Master Bruce has his convictions on how certain matters should be dealt with. That, however, doesn't always mean that he's right, and I believe that this is one particular instance in which his judgment may not have been the best to follow. However, if you really are in anticipation of Master Bruce's return, you'll be happy to know that he should be arriving home tomorrow or the day after.”

Roy visibly pales with that knowledge. “Tomorrow? So soon? Doesn't he still have a bunch of paperwork he has to do after an off-world mission or something?”

Alfred nods, but doesn't say anything as he turns back to his chores. Roy knows that he sounds frantic, but there's nothing that he can do about it. He wasn't all that concerned when Tim left, because he knew that, given enough time, they'd be able find him and bring him home. Roy knew it might take some effort--well, a lot of effort--but it wasn't unreasonable of him to think that they would have the time that they needed. At least, it wasn't until Alfred's revelation that Bruce would be back sooner rather than later. Roy knew that wanting Batman around again was going to be a short-lived desire...he just didn't realize how short. He can't imagine what Bruce will do if he comes back only to find one of his sons ran away...not to mention the whole Lian/Purple Arrow situation.

Roy's first thought is to run back down to the cave, and yell at Dick to hurry up and use all of his Bat training to bring their little runaway bird home, but before he gets a chance, Alfred turns to him. “Master Roy, I would appreciate it if you would tell the young lady that it's time for her to eat. You should find her in the room that she's staying in. I believe she said something about looking through her new wardrobe.”

Roy wants to protest, but he knows better than to argue with Alfred. Besides, he left Dick down in the cave by himself for a reason. The only time Dick really thinks is after a loud verbal altercation followed by time by himself, and Roy won't interrupt that just because he's having another minor meltdown. Sure, Bruce is on his way home, and they have no idea where Tim is, and they didn't bother to try to contact him when a Lian Harper from another Earth showed up, but that doesn't mean that he has any reason to go berserk.

By the time he makes it to Lian's room, Roy manages to calm himself enough that, when he walks inside, his smile is only slightly off. He's not sure how it comes across, but Lian doesn't look as though she wants to bolt out of the room, so he figures it's not that bad. He's not really sure how he manages it. Roy is pleased when he makes it through the conversation. He's not really in the mood to eat, but he doesn't want Lian to worry about this Batman, nor does he really want to consider how Damian is going to react to Lian, but Roy figures that they'll cross that bridge when they get to it. Right now, he's focusing all of his energy on trying to eat at a normal pace, despite the fact that he wants nothing more than to rush down to the cave and see if Dick has even started looking for Tim, which would be why he's caught off-guard when Lian asks if Tim is coming back.

Roy doesn't honestly want to think about the consequences if they can't convince him to come home. All he can hope for is that Tim's abnormally fast learning curve applies to the amount of time it takes him to calm down after a fight as well. He's so busy trying to find the best way to break the news to Dick that Bruce is on his way home, and their time scale just got blown up, to the point that he honestly doesn't notice it, at first, when she calls him dad. Roy is too tired and emotionally exhausted to even pretend to be upset over it, so he just waits a few moments before pressing on in the conversation.

He can tell that she's upset and hurting, though, especially when she excuses herself. Unfortunately, Roy is only capable of dealing with one crisis at a time, so instead of chasing after her and reassuring her that it's fine, Roy runs down to the cave to find Dick hovering over the computer. “Did you know where he's heading?” Roy doesn't bother with greetings. After all, it's not as though they have the time for them.

Dick glances over his shoulder and nods. “If he didn't hack into the systems and plant fake tracers, then he should be fairly easy to find. Unless of course, he purposefully left the tracers on to throw us off, but even if that's the case it should only take a couple of days...maybe a week tops to find him. Of course, that's assuming that he hasn't gone completely underground, but he'd have to be pretty angry to take it that far.”

Roy holds his head in his hands. He doesn't know why nothing ever works out for him, but it's starting to get old, and the tension headache he's starting to get isn't helping matters. “Dick, I hate to break this to you, but we don't have a couple of days...let alone a week.”

Dick stops what he's doing and turns completely around at that. “What? Why? What did I miss?”

Roy sighs as he rubs his temples. “Bruce is on his way home. He should be here tomorrow or the day after. And how do you think he's going to react if he gets here only to discover you drove Tim away?”

Dick glares at that. “I didn't mean to...”

Roy slices his hand through the air to stop him. “Look, it doesn't matter. We have to find him and fast, and we both know convincing him to come back so soon isn't going to be easy. So give me a set of tracers to follow, and let's get out of here.”

Dick hands him a locator, and points to a portion of the map. “You take this section. It's the most likely place to find him out of uniform. I'll meet up with you later. There's something I need to do first.”

Roy raises an eyebrow as he tucks away the locator. “Oh really, and what's that?”

Dick gives him a sheepish smile as he heads toward the stairs. “I've gotta talk to Lian.”

“Okay, fine, but don't tell her about Bruce or why we have to find Tim sooner rather than later. I don't want her worrying about the big bad bat and his angry brat of a sidekick.”

Dick looks as though he wants to protest, or defend Damian, or do something equally unproductive right now, but Roy just glares at him, and instead he leaves with a wave. Roy rolls his eyes. He doesn't think that Dick is ever going to grow up. Hell, he's not even sure that it's something Dick is capable of. He borrows another one of Dick's sweet, and yet nondescript bikes and heads out of the cave. He doesn't understand why the Bats feel it's necessary to use so many tracking devices for one of their own, but he figures it doesn't really matter. He has a job to do--which is almost a relief. For the first time in days, the only real threat is the threat of the Bat. It's a feeling Roy is well acquainted with, and one he knows how to deal with well, so he allows himself to smile as he races through traffic towards his first point of interest.

He tries to contact Tim twice on his way to the closest tracer's signal, but he doesn't get an answer either time. Roy isn't surprised by that fact, nor is he concerned when the tracer turns out to be a dummy. In fact, Roy would actually be disappointed if Tim was that easy to find, even with the impending doom of Batman coming home early. It would mean that the kid isn't even trying, which, for a Bat, is never a good sign. Roy shakes his head as he gets back on the bike, but before he can start it up again, there's a scream and a guy running past him, down an alley, holding a woman's purse. Roy isn't even slightly startled. This is Gotham, after all, and it never matters that it's broad daylight here.

He hops off the bike and follows the guy down the alley. Roy's not in his Red Arrow uniform, but it's not a big deal, or at least that's what he tells himself. The guy must think that he's safe, because halfway through the alley, he stops running, and slows down to a nice calm pace that Roy can easily match. He gets within two feet of the guy, and he's just about to make his move when the guy spins around with a gun in his hand. Roy throws up his hands (the robotic one shines oddly in the daylight), and says, “Easy, fella,” in a placid tone that he would normally use with a small child...all the while berating himself for not noticing the gun earlier. Roy can't help but think that Dick would have seen it immediately.

The guy hesitates and looks torn between wanting to shoot him and wanting to pistol whip him, which is all the time that Roy needs to knock the gun clear and pin the guy against the brick wall of one of the buildings lining the alley. “Taking things that don't belong to you and pointing guns at people. You're just making all kinds of wrong choices today.” The guy doesn't get a chance to respond before Roy headbutts him, knees him in the gut, and leaves him unconscious at the mouth of the alley.

Roy returns the purse the guy snatched to it's owner, and then gets back on his borrowed bike. He's got a lot more tracers to track down, and he figures that if every one of them is going to yield this much excitement, then it should be a fun day. The next three tracers he finds are complete busts, and worse there isn't even anything for him to do in the surrounding areas. Roy sighs to himself as he continues searching for Tim.

Two hours after he's left the cave, Roy gets a call from Dick, and it's just more bad news. Purple Arrow and Nightwing haven't found anything, either. Although, Roy would love to see the look on the Gothamites' faces who are wondering what the hell is going on that Nightwing is out in the daylight--with a partner, no less. He honestly finds it funny that they're going to all of this trouble just because Batman is on his way home, but then again they've done crazier things to avoid far less scary people. Roy stops at his next location, and is stunned for a moment when he sees Tim's bike. He knows it doesn't really mean anything. Tim could have easily ditched his bike here, but it at least means that, at some point today, Tim was in the vicinity, which is something. He doesn't call Dick right away, though. After all, if Tim is still angry, which he most likely is, calling Dick will only make convincing Tim to come back harder.

Roy gets off his own bike, and starts systematically looking for Tim. He starts with the most obvious places Tim would go in the area, and works from there. He's still a little dazed when he finds Tim in the seventh book store he checks out, six blocks away from where he found Tim's bike. “Hey, kid. We gotta talk.” Tim looks around as though he expects someone else to be with Roy, and it makes Roy smile a little, because he was right not to call Dick. “He's not here. You don't have to worry about having a big public argument.”

Tim nods once at him and goes back to reading the jacket of the book that he's holding. “So, what are you doing here, then?”

Roy heaves a large sigh as he runs his hand through his hair. He was hoping that Tim wouldn't want to just jump right into this, because Roy still hasn't figured out how to phrase everything that he wants to say. But, Roy knows that it's foolish to expect any less from Tim. “Look, I know you're still mad, and you have valid reasons for leaving, but Bruce is on his way home, and I think it'd be easier to explain the whole Lian situation if we didn't also have to explain that you left and why.”

Tim glares at him. “So, I get to go back and deal with Dick, Damian, and Bruce. This is great.”

Roy smirks a little in the hopes of lightening the mood. “Hey, I'm sure you and Lian can gang up on the kid. It'd be nice to see what kind of evil pranks she's learned from her Tim.”

Tim smiles slightly at that. “It is in her best interest to learn how to deal with a monster like Damian now while she's still able to play innocent.”

Roy grins brightly at that. “And we all know that there are few people as devious as you when it comes to pranking evil little demon children.”

Tim smirks as he wanders toward the checkout. “Fine, after all, Purple Arrow does have a lot to learn. Although, I'm leaving it to you or Dick to tell Bruce about her.”

Roy nods. He knew that was coming. “We'll leave it up to Dick. I think a nice chat with Bruce might remind him of why he doesn't want to turn into big, dark, and brooding.”

Tim laughs. “You think?”

Roy didn't expect it to be so easy to get Tim to come back with him, but as the two of them walk back towards their bikes, Roy is damn grateful that it didn't take more effort. He's not looking forward to Bruce's and, more importantly, Damian's return. There's no telling what kind of fights lie ahead for all of them, and quite frankly Roy doesn't trust Lian to not just maim the little assassin-trained brat when he gets out of hand. He's honestly starting to wonder if it might just be better to take her to the Watchtower or something. After all, no one deserves to have Damian inflicted upon them.

On their way back to the cave, Roy contacts Dick to let him know that he found Tim. Tim doesn't seem thrilled with the prospect of seeing Dick again so soon after their last fight, but he's already doing that cold politeness thing that he does when he doesn't want to upset anyone. Roy thinks that he should probably do something about that, but he doesn't have a clue as to what. Besides, he's pretty Tim and Lian can bond over how Dick never stops talking, because if there's one thing Roy knows for sure, it's that Dick probably spent the entire time they were searching for Tim talking to Lian--nonstop.

When they get there, Roy busies himself with taking care of Dick's bike. He's known for years that Dick takes few things as serious as his bikes. Tim does the same with his own. The two of them work in silence until they hear the sound of another bike roaring into the cave. Tim drops the rag he was using to clean his hands on the work bench behind him, and starts heading toward the stairs. The moment the bike stops, Purple Arrow takes off her helmet and shakes out her pony tail. She's smiling as wide as Roy has ever seen her. “Okay, train surfing here is a little different from back home, but that's because I don't usually have someone chatting in my ear nonstop the whole time.”

Dick's smiling too, which Roy thinks is a good sign. “You get used to it, or so I'm told. Anyway, why don't you go do some cool down exercises, and then get cleaned up?”

She nods, and then runs off in the direction of the mats. Roy can't help but grin at how happy she seems yet, it's just making him more apprehensive about Bruce's and Damian's return. He knows that her happiness is most certainly going to be short-lived, and worse, he knows that there's nothing that he can do about it. Roy shakes his head, and he's just about to finish cleaning up Dick's bike when he spots Dick searching the cave. “So, where is he?”

If there was more time before the big bad bat came home, Roy would just shrug and tell Dick to leave it. As things are; however, he simply gestures toward the stairs. “He didn't seem like he wanted to talk to you.”

Dick sighs to himself. “Yeah, well, I want to talk to him.”

Roy wants to tell Dick not to. He wants to fight with him, and force him to let Tim be for a while. He wants to warn him that Dick will probably just make Tim run away again, but unfortunately, they don't have the luxury of time on their hands right now, and Roy knows Dick. If he doesn't do what he wants to now, then he'll just choose a far less opportune moment to have it out with Tim. Roy really doesn't want himself or Lian to be stuck in all Bat battle, so, instead of doing what he wants, he simply gestures for Dick to get going. “I'm sure that you'll find him in his room.” Dick nods, and heads for the stairs, but is halted by Roy. “And Dick?”

Dick stops midway up the steps, and twists around to face him. “Yeah?”

“Good luck.”

Dick flashes a smile at him as he races the rest of the way up the stairs. Roy can't imagine that his conversation with Tim is going to end well, but he guesses it's good to hold out hope. Roy sighs to himself as he heads over toward the mats where Lian is just finishing her cool down routine. “Hey, how about after you're done changing, I'll take you out to one of the best ice cream parlors in Gotham?”

She grins at him and nods her head. “That sounds great.”

He smiles back, and gestures for her to go get changed. She practically skips toward the changing area, and that makes Roy's chest hurt. It's good to know that this Lian never lost the ability to just be a child sometimes, but it still makes him miss his own Lian more and more. He goes to sit down while he waits for Lian to come back.

Roy knows that he's being a coward, but he figures it's best to break the news of Batman's impending return over comfort food, and well...no one said that he or Lian had to be here for the fallout of whatever talk Dick and Tim are having, so when Lian is finally done changing, Roy feels absolutely no sorrow about taking the bike he just finished refueling and cleaning once again and racing out of the cave with Lian's arms wrapped around him tightly.

The End (for now)