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Fic: Purple Arrow Chapter 12

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

She's dressed and ready to go in a matter of minutes, but it's clearly been too long for Dick's liking. When Lian emerges from the changing area, he's on the other side of the cave doing back flips. Lian can't stop the laugh that bubbles up on seeing the giant smile on his face while he's flipping. He lands perfectly and takes a little bow. “If you think that's something, wait til we hit the rooftops. Ready to go?”

Lian nods and gestures for him to lead the way. She still isn't sure how to react around Dick, which is why she has every intention of letting him do most of the talking, and--from everything that her Uncle Tim has said about the Dick Grayson on her world--that really shouldn't be a problem. “I'm ready whenever you are.”

Dick smiles brightly at her as he cartwheels to his bike. “Well, come on, we've got a Timmy to find.”

Lian laughs again as she jogs over to the bike. “Are you going to be like this the entire time that we're searching for him?”

Dick's grin suddenly turns into a mischievous smirk. “Worse. You just wait until I get into a joking mood.”

Lian slides onto the back of the bike behind him. She doesn't know what to think. He went from suspicious to lighthearted so quickly and easily that she feels like she has whiplash, but that doesn't mean that she can't play along. After all, Lian is good at that--has to be good at that for so many reasons--and most of them don't have anything to do with her family back home. “Your tone says that this is something I should be wary of.”

Dick chuckles lightly as he revs the engine. “Well, depending on who you talk to, most people would tell you that it probably is.”

Her grip tightens around him as they race out of the cave. “Whatever you say.”

It doesn't take long for Lian to come to the conclusion that Dick's driving would be terrifying if she wasn't so used to driving with people who like to push everything and everyone to the limit. Come to think of it, his driving would probably still be petrifying, even with those experiences, if she didn't do what she does at night. Something about getting shot at and going up against the clinically insane on a nightly basis just takes the terror out of driving down the middle of the street between two big rigs going at speed in the middle of the day on a heavily trafficked road.

Dick laughs the entire time as he weaves in and out of traffic, which just makes Lian smile and laugh too. She's wondering how odd this must be for the civilians on the road right now. After all, it's not every day that they get to see Nightwing out during daylight hours, and Lian almost doesn't want to know what they think of her. The first couple of times that she went out in her Purple Arrow costume back home she was called a great many things, but the one that annoyed her the most was when some thug had called her 'Mini Huntress.' She broke all of the fingers on the guy's hand that was wrapped around a meat hook, and she's never felt any remorse for it.

The thought makes her lick her teeth and want to hit something. It's been a long time since she's gone out and had someone not know her name. Lian doesn't look forward to the inane jokes that the lowlifes of Gotham come up with, but she has always enjoyed correcting them. Before she can get too deep into the her mental images of new and creative ways to recondition the scum of Gotham, Dick pulls into an empty alleyway and stashes the bike under some conveniently placed trash bags. At her raised eyebrow, Nightwing shrugs. “I don't normally do this during the day, but I do know that Mrs. Anders who lives on the second floor of this particular brownstone likes to just shove her trash bags out of her side window. No one really uses this alley for anything, thus why no one has said anything about that nasty little habit of hers.”

Lian rolls her eyes behind the mask as she shakes her head. “Of course she does, because carrying the trash down a couple flights of stairs would just be too time consuming.”

Dick dusts his hands off once he's done placing the final bag. “I don't know what her reasoning is, but it works out well for our purposes. So, ready to go?”

Lian nods and gestures for Dick to lead the way. “Where do we start?”

Dick gives her a very Nightwing grin, or at least she assumes it's a Nightwing grin, since she can't really imagine Dick Grayson giving this type of smile to anyone. “We start where all proper searches for a runaway bird start--on the rooftops, heading northeast; and then we'll hit the mid-afternoon southwest train, and the we can...” Dick pauses a moment in his explanation. “Wait, you have actually trained surfed before, right?”

Lian looks at him as though he's an idiot. “You're joking, right? Of course I've train surfed...blindfolded and everything.”

Dick grins even brighter as he grabs his grappling gun, and gestures for her to follow him to the roof. “Oh, I'm liking your Timmy more and more. What other training techniques has he used with you?”

Lian lands on the roof just as silently as she always does, and brushes her ponytail off of her shoulder. “You know, the norm, I guess.”

Dick pouts at her as they start moving across the rooftops. “Oh, come on, I know you were trained by a Tim, but that doesn't mean that you need to act like him. Talk, I know that you can. After all, I refuse to believe a daughter of any Roy Harper isn't just as chatty as he is.”

Lian blushes brightly at the comment. It's not often that she's told to talk more. If anything her Grandpa Bruce, Aunt Barbara, and Uncle Tim would love it if she could stop cluttering the airways with useless banter while on patrol. Although, they have given up on trying to make her into the silent brooding type, for the most part. “The only thing I can think of from my training that made my Grandpa Bruce raise an eyebrow was when my Uncle Tim had me make and use a batarang slingshot.”

Dick bursts out into a gale of chuckles at that. “Wait, what? Why did he have you do that?”

Lian can't help but grin at the memory as she leaps to another rooftop. “Well, it was pretty early on in my training, and I was having real problems throwing the batarangs without nicking myself, and after one particularly frustrating night I had complained that there had to be a better and more efficient way of deploying the damn things. So, Tim told me that he would think about it. The next night he came down to the cave with blueprints for a batarang slingshot. He told me that if I could build it and make it work, then he'd try to come up with something a little more compact for our belts, but I still had to learn to throw them correctly.”

“So, did it work?” Nightwing looks as though he really is considering making his own batarang slingshot, and it makes Lian want to giggle.

“Yeah, it worked, but not well, and Tim did design something for our belts. It was the basic design of an air gun of sorts, but the amount of pressure he needed to release the batarangs was too great, and they ended up coming out at the speed of a bullet, which didn't really work well.”

Nightwing hums to himself for a second before taking off in the direction of another rooftop. “Hmm, I wonder if this Tim could work on improving that design. It may not be practical, but having a batarang slingshot could prove to be fun.”

Lian does giggle at that. “You are aware that the batarang slingshot came with rules. Although, Grandpa Bruce will never know that it was actually Tim who used it with the dog.” At Dick's clearly shocked expression, Lian continues. “It wasn't anything bad. It's just that Tim was trying to get some work done and needed to distract the dog for awhile. Ace really did enjoy chasing and catching the batarangs.”

Nightwing shakes his head at her. “No, no, not that. I'm just surprised that Bruce let you have a dog.”

Lian barks out an indignant laugh at that. “Let me? What on earth are you talking about? Ace is Grandpa Bruce's dog. The mutt barely listens to anyone else. I mean, even Alfred had problems getting that dog to do anything. Grandpa Bruce got him after his 'accident.' Aunt Barbara told me that he needed something to fill his time, since he couldn't patrol anymore, and decided a dog was the right kind of needy. At least, that's how she put it. I, on the other hand, believe he was just lonely while Tim and I were on patrol and needed some company.”

Dick nods and thinks about it for a moment. “I have absolutely no idea how this Bruce would deal with a dog.”

Lian shrugs. “If he's anything like my Bruce, he'll act as though it's a great burden, but then treats it just like any other member of the family...except, you know, more love and attention.”

Dick smiles wickedly as he stares down at her. “You're dangerous, you know that?

Lian shakes her head at him, because she doesn't know. “What do you mean?” She knows that she's dangerous in the traditional sense of the term. After all, she was raised by The Batman, but Lian gets the impression that isn't what Dick means.

“I mean, you now have me wanting to get Bruce a dog just to see his reaction. Heck, the look on Damian's face alone would be worth it.”

Lian laughs slightly. She isn't really sure how a Bruce with so many family members could handle a dog. “Um, maybe you should wait until his house isn't so...um...busy.” Lian still isn't sure about this Damian character that she keeps hearing about, but it sounds like he's more than one handful, and she knows from experience that a dog and a cave is one giant handful on their own.

Dick nods again, and gestures for them to continue. “Well, I guess we should get a move on. It doesn't look like we're going to find Tim around here.”

Lian gives him a curt nod, and follows him to the next portion of their search grid. She's a little thrown by how much this Dick Grayson babbles. It's not as though she wasn't aware that her own Dick was a very talkative person, but this one never seems to need to take a breath. He doesn't stop even when he's tumbling in midair, twisting his body in impossible ways, and it just makes her grin widen, because she's never been around someone who talks this much and enjoys flying as much as he so obviously does. They land on a roof, scan the surrounding area, and then keep moving, and the whole time Dick is asking questions, making jokes, prompting for more information, and just generally never shutting up. Lian loves every second of it.

As it turns out, train surfing is a little different here. The basic principle is the same. She still has to brace herself and pay attention to where the curves are, but this particular train makes more stops than she's used to, and Dick still never pauses in his chatter. He prattles on about absolutely everything, and yet she can tell that he's putting most of his focus on her to make sure that she doesn't fall or miss when she's supposed to duck. He's good at warning her when there's going to be a stop ahead, and letting her know when she's going to have to brace for a curve, but he still just keeps rattling on about the uses of extra flips in combat situations.

Lian can't help but want to learn everything he could possibly have to teach her. She knows that her flexibility could use some work, and she also knows that there's no one better to help with that than Dick Grayson. She watches him twist and turn in midair, and knows that he could help make her better. Lian is starting to wonder if there isn't a single person on this earth who could make her better. The thought hurts so much--because she doesn't want to think of her family back home as being inferior--but she can't help it. She can't help but wonder if the people on her earth were a little more open and a lot more versatile, then maybe--just maybe--her father and the others would still be alive. Lian hates herself for thinking it, and wishes she could get the thought out of her head; but being here--being around all of these people--forces her to face the things that she's always secretly speculated.

She's pulled from her thoughts by a hand on her shoulder. She nearly overbalances because of it, but Lian hopes that she covers it well enough. If Dick's expression is anything to go by, then she probably failed miserably. “You okay?”

Lian sighs, mostly to herself. Clearly, she needs to work on paying more attention. After all, it's not as though she's completely unaccustomed to touch...even if she isn't completely used to the amount of physical contact Dick likes to shower upon people. Lian shakes her head and smiles again for him. “Of course, what's up?”

Dick is staring at her as though he's well acquainted with that kind of lie, and really doesn't like it. It takes her a moment to realize exactly why that is, but before she can do anything about it he's gesturing for her to follow him. “Our stop is coming up.” He gives another hand gesture before leaping into the air, twisting and turning, and free falling for a few seconds, before pulling out his grapple gun.

Lian follows him, albeit in a less flamboyant fashion. She lands silently on the rooftop next to him. She's about to apologize for lying earlier, and reassure him that her minor daze wasn't about train surfing or even anything remotely problematic when they suddenly get the signal that Roy found Tim. Dick breathes an obvious sigh of relief before turning back towards her. “Well, I guess we can head back now that Tim has been found.”

Lian bites her lip uncertainly. This has been fun, and she really doesn't want to return just so Dick and Tim can resume fighting, but she knows that she doesn't really have a say in the matter. After all, it's not as though it's the middle of the night and they're on patrol or anything. Truthfully, they probably shouldn't be out in costume at all, but Dick had insisted, and Lian feels far more comfortable running around as Purple Arrow than Lian Harper, at least in this world anyway.

They make their way back towards the bike that Dick stashed, and then start the adrenaline rush that is Dick's driving. If Dick is apprehensive about whatever might happen between him and Tim once they get back, he sure as heck doesn't show it. He's still laughing and smiling as brightly as before. He's even continued talking a mile a minute, and Lian isn't exactly sure how he manages that. Sure, she's the talkative one of her family--but that really isn't saying much, given who she lives with. She certainly isn't used to so much chatter, but she thinks it wouldn't be such a bad thing if she was.

She can't keep the grin off of her face, not even when they get to the cave and Tim is nowhere to be found. Lian is in such a good mood that she doesn't bother to put up a fight when Dick tells her to go do her cool down exercises, even though she knows that it's just a distraction technique. Roy's own smile does put her at ease, at least a little, so she doesn't really pay much attention to his conversation with Dick. Lian bends to stretch her legs, and, even if she wanted to hear what they're saying, she couldn't over the blood rushing in her ears. She loses herself for a few moments in the feel of the stretch before moving to focus on her arms.

She wonders what other stretches Dick uses, and how she could be more efficient. She wants to know if it's even possible for her to gain a greater range of motion. Lian sighs to herself. She has a million questions, and no way of expressing any of them without causing at least some concern. She knows that she has to find a way to make everyone...not just Dick...see that all she really wants is to be something more than what she is. Because what she is...who she is...isn't going to be enough to survive on her own back home. Lian understands that now...more than she ever has, and it scares her. She never wants to lose her Grandpa Bruce, Uncle Tim, or Aunt Barbara, but she knows now that if she did, she wouldn't last very long at all--and it doesn't really have anything to do with grief. Lian knows that she just isn't good enough...at least not yet.

Before Lian can really work out a plan of action, however, Roy startles her with an offer of ice cream. She's pretty sure that she recovers quickly enough that he doesn't notice exactly how out of it she was, but even so, ice cream is a much better way to spend the afternoon than finding out exactly what a Tim and Dick conversation sounds like. She wishes that the two of them can work out whatever is wrong between them, but she knows better than to hope for such. After all, they are both Bats, and everyone knows that there are few people who are as stubborn as Bats.

Lian changes quickly and follows Roy over to one of the less obvious vehicles in the other garage. He drives like a particularly worried father, which makes Lian want to both laugh and cry. She settles on laughter when Roy is passed by a man twice his age, who is clearly very displeased with Roy's speed. “You do intend to get to this ice cream parlor sometime this century, right Roy?”

Roy glances over at her, before cracking a small smile. “If you think that I'm risking ruining one of Bruce Wayne's cars, you've got another thing coming, kid.”

Lian can't help it, she laughs harder at that. “Oh, okay, so you have no problem taking The Bats' bikes--with the high probability of destroying them--but taking a Bruce Wayne car is scary to you?”

“Of course. I mean, they expect those bikes to get destroyed. This baby?” Roy gestures to the car in general. “Not so much.”

Lian shakes her head at that. “I think I'd like to meet a Bruce Wayne who cares more about his Bruce toys than his Batman ones.”

Roy scoffs at that. “Whoa, I said it was expected that it would get destroyed. I didn't say that he didn't care about them. Trust me, every time a Bat toy gets destroyed by someone other than him, there's a long glare-filled lecture.”

Lain giggles at that. “Sounds like my Grandpa Bruce. Even when it's explicitly stated that there was no other option--heck, even when he agrees that there was no other option--there's still a long lecture following any destruction of Bat tech.”

They both laugh before falling into a comfortable silence. Lian notes everything that they pass along the way. She enjoys being able to spot the differences as well as the similarities between this Gotham and her own. When they get to the ice cream parlor, Roy orders for both of them. It makes Lian smile in an almost painful way when she sees that he orders the exact same thing that her father used to, but she's sure it hurts him just as much that she clearly loves the same thing his daughter used to eat. It's strange that, while their worlds are so different, the people in them are still so similar. It makes her miss her home in an entirely different way than normal.

Halfway through their ice cream, which Lian is pretty certain is, in fact, the best ice cream ever, Roy stares at her nervously...clearly wanting to tell her something unpleasant. The mere sight of Roy looking this anxious over ice cream makes Lian think that she's going to break out into a cold sweat at any moment. It's no different than when she was seven and her own father had sat her down in front a bowl of chocolate fudge swirl ice cream to tell her that she was never going to see her Aunt Dinah again.

Lian's about to just ask him what the bad news is, and demand to know what's going to happen to her if for some reason they can't return her to her own world when Roy lays his hand down on one of hers. “Stop looking like I'm going to tell you that I ran over your dog. It's not that bad.”

Lian breathes out a sigh and tries to control her facial expression. She wasn't aware that her visage was that sour. “So, what's going on?”

Roy takes a deep breath before plowing on in the conversation. He stares at her as though this is one of the most difficult things that he's ever had to do, which confuses Lian, because surely burying his daughter beat whatever it is he has to tell her. “Bruce is on his way home. He'll be here tomorrow or the day after.”

Lian can't help it, she throws her head back and laughs long and hard. She tries to keep it to herself, but she can't, and within a few moments, she gasping for breath. When she finally manages to compose herself, Roy is just staring at her blankly. “Sorry, it's just that I thought you were going to tell me that there was no way to send me home, or that my entire world was destroyed, or something equally terrible. I wasn't ready for the 'Batman is coming, so everyone run for your lives' line.”

Roy shakes his head at her. “I don't think you appreciate exactly how bad this is.”

Lian shrugs. She's willing to admit that she probably doesn't understand why this is such a dire thing, but then again, she's never seemed to have the same problem with Batman as her father had, so the fact that this Roy Harper seems to view this Bruce Wayne in the same light isn't exactly shocking. “So, what am I missing? Does this Bruce kick puppies and eat small children?”

“What? No.” Roy stares at her for a moment before sighing to himself. “Look, Bruce isn't going to be happy with any of this. I mean, the other two haven't exactly followed protocol as far as you're concerned, and well...truthfully, I'm more worried about Damian and his reaction than Bruce's.”

Lian raises an eyebrow at that. Nothing is stranger to her than people being more worried about Robin than Batman, but, with everything that she's heard about this kid so far, it isn't that surprising. “Why is everyone so concerned with this Damian? Tell me about him.”

Roy sighs heavily. “Damian is...special. He's...well, Dick likes to say that he's abrasive, and that's true, but it's so much more than that. Don't get me wrong, I would rather cuddle a giant Brillo pad than get anywhere near that kid, but there's really no way to accurately describe Damian. The kid is...defensive...really defensive, and he's very protective of his place beside Bruce. He's also grown quite a bit since he first showed up, but...well, he's still kind of unpredictable.”

Lian nods once, as she continues to eat her now mostly melted ice cream. “He sounds like someone I should steer clear of.”

Roy scoffs at that as he scoops a large amount of his own ice cream into his mouth. “You and Tim both.”

Lian's brows furrow at that. If she understands this family's dynamics, then Tim and Damian are some definition of brothers, so the fact that they don't even pretend to get along like Tim and Dick is perplexing to her. “What's Damian's problem with Tim?”

Roy smiles at her slightly. “Ah, that's the big question. It's been some time since Damian took on the role as Robin. Everyone thought that he would eventually find his own place within the family, and the fighting between him and Tim would die down, but that never really seemed to happen. Damian seems to just hate Tim on a primal level. He gets along with Dick, though, so that's something.”

“So, how do Tim and Damian interact when they are both home?” Lian can't imagine that Bruce would allow the two to fight under his roof...at least, not the way Roy is implying they argue.

Roy shrugs slightly as he moves to throw away the remnants of his ice cream. “I don't know, but from what Dick's said, they pretty much just ignore each other. Tim spends most of his time in his room or in the cave or library when he knows that Damian is somewhere else.”

“That's weird. I don't know what it's like to live with someone I basically hate.” And she can't imagine it, either. She's never been around someone she didn't at least like a little...not for an extended period of time anyway. Lian has no idea how any of them could deal with such animosity, and she certainly doesn't envy any of them for it.

Roy just shrugs again. “I don't know, but they make it work.”

Lian shakes her head. “They may deal with it, but I doubt any of them would say that it actually works. I mean, that can't be good for any of them, right?”

Roy leans over and ruffles her hair. “Look, I know what you're thinking, and it's sweet--really, but you can't fix everything, and some things aren't your job to fix. The Batboys are always going to be at least a little messed up. There's nothing anyone--not even Arrows--can do about that, but it's nice that you want to try.”

Lian doesn't know what to say to that, because she hadn't honestly been thinking about fixing it. Sure, she thinks it's wrong that they all live together and none of them really get along, but that doesn't mean that Lian thinks that she's capable of repairing any of it. Although, she can certainly see herself trying. After all, she knows exactly what it's like to live with people who have far too many regrets, and she doesn't want to see anyone here have to live like that...not if it can be stopped.

She shakes her head, and combs her fingers through her hair. “Maybe I can't fix it, but is that really a reason not to try?”

Roy smiles at her as though he's in pain. “No, kiddo, of course not, just don't be disappointed if you don't succeed.”

Lian tries to reassure him with her own smile. She's not sure if it works or not. “Of course not. I'll just try again, because that's what Harpers do, right?”

She's pretty sure that Roy has tears in his eyes when he nods and says, “Damn right. Now let's get back before the other two kill each other.”

Lian follows him back to the car with tears in her own eyes, but she won't cry. All in all, it's been a good day. She had fun swinging between rooftops with Dick, and eating ice cream with Roy, and she's not going to ruin it with thoughts of how much she wishes her own dad were here right now.

The End (for now)