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Fic: Purple Arrow Chapter 15

 Title: Purple Arrow
Author: Brokaw22
Rating: T
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 Chapter Eleven Chapter Twelve Chapter Thirteen Chapter Fourteen

Roy doesn’t know what else to do, but standing here doing nothing isn’t helping Dick. He knows that, but he doesn’t have a lot of options right now. It’s stupid for him to go out looking for Harley Quinn on his own, and he can’t take Lian with him. He won’t be the reason she ends up injured or worse, and he can’t pull Tim away from his work trying to save Dick. So, he’s left simply pacing around the cave worrying that his best friend won’t make it through. Lian is curled up on Bruce’s chair, sleeping. She passed out hours ago, and Roy has spent the entire time transitioning between staring blankly at Alfred and Tim and aimlessly wandering around the cave.

The only reason Roy even recognizes the sound of the JL transporter is because he happens to be standing right in the center of the cave when Batman and Robin materialize in front of him. He just stares at them both, gaping, while he tries to find his voice. Of course, they would choose now to come back, because Roy’s life is anything but simple. Bruce clearly isn’t pleased to see Roy just standing in the middle of his cave, but before either one of them can get out a word out, Robin is pushing his way past both of them. “What are you doing here?” The kid’s sneer almost immediately falls off his face when he sees Dick lying on the medical table.

However, it isn’t Damian’s voice that barks out, “What happened here?” And Roy just doesn’t have the fortitude to deal with the Bat right now. Not while he’s fairly sure that the rasping sound he’s hearing is Dick struggling to breathe.

Roy is sure that he can hear voices around him, but he doesn’t recognize any of the words; and it isn’t until he feels a hand in his tugging him away from the scene of Alfred shoving a tube down Dick’s throat that Roy realizes he’s just been gazing vacantly, transfixed to the spot, watching helplessly as Bruce, Alfred, and Tim frantically try to stabilize Dick. He glances down to see Lian pushing him into Bruce’s chair. He knows that he shouldn’t be surprised that the commotion woke her, and yet, Roy finds that he is. She turns the chair away from everything that’s going on in the med bay and just holds onto his hand tightly. “He’s gonna be fine. You said he’s gonna be fine. You said to focus on that, so focus.”

Roy squeezes her hand for a moment and tries to calm down. However, before he gets a chance to even try to process everything, Robin is suddenly beside him glaring at the two of them. “Who is this girl and why is she in my father’s cave?”

Roy sighs as he rubs his temples trying to ease his growing migraine. Lian, however, buts in before he can say anything. “I think a better question is how in the world this version of Batman raised such a rude child.”

Roy blinks rapidly at her response. He wasn’t really expecting these two to get along and be friends, but he also wasn’t expecting…well, this. “Purple Arrow, that was uncalled for. Robin is just…”

“Purple Arrow,” Damian scoffs at the name and grimaces. “As though there aren’t enough of you Arrows plaguing the earth.” He then turns to face Roy, who is holding his head in his hands and hoping that Bruce will deal with his little princeling. “And I don’t need you to speak for me.” Damian’s signature sneer is firmly back in place, and Roy’s headache is getting increasingly more intense every second. He knows the kid is just trying to distract himself from the fear of losing Dick, but Roy really doesn’t appreciate how Damian is going about it. Damian spins around to face Lian once again. “And my father didn’t raise me.”

Lian smirks and crosses her arms over her chest. “Well, that explains everything.”

Roy sighs heavily at the two of them. He’s pretty sure that, since the other occupants of the cave are a little busy saving Dick’s life, it’s up to him to make sure the two junior members don’t kill each other. “Okay, that’s enough, you two. Damian, why don’t you go see if Alfred needs anything, and Lian, why don’t you…”

“Check and see if there have been any reports of anyone matching the description of your Harley or her Checkered Dolls.”

Roy turns the chair around to find Tim standing behind him, and he can see how exhausted Tim is, but that’s only because he knows him well enough to distinguish the signs. “Someone has got to put a bell on you Bats. How’s Dick doing?”

“He’s stable for right now, at least, but…” Tim glances down at both Damian and Lian, who are both staring up at him with very obvious hopeful expressions, and Tim merely shakes his head, clearly deciding not to finish that sentence. Instead, he gives Damian a hard look, as though commanding him not to argue with whatever he’s about to say next. “Damian, go get some more blankets for Dick. We can’t move him, and it’s too cold down here.”

Roy is certain that Damian is going to tell Tim to go do it himself, but the kid glances back to where Dick is lying motionless and heads out of the cave without a single word. Roy is too grateful for the reprieve to realize how bad the situation must be if the kid isn’t even arguing. He slumps back farther in the chair while Lian stands next to him, surfing through various news feeds. It occurs to Roy that he should probably cede the chair to the person actually doing research, but he also can’t force himself to move… not yet.

The world feels like it’s crashing in on him, and Roy knows that it’s only a matter of time before Dick’s condition is no longer enough of a distraction to keep Bruce from noticing the girl wearing jeans and a t-shirt, who’s using his bat computer like she owns it. Not to mention, Roy knows that it won’t be long before Bruce demands answers that Roy, quite frankly, doesn’t know how to give -- because none of them have really been doing anything by the book since Lian literally appeared out of thin air. Roy watches silently as Lian scans over numerous news feeds at once, and transitions from watching various videos to reading over a variety of headlines seamlessly, as though it’s the most natural thing in the world. It suddenly occurs to Roy that it’s actually a little wrong for her to be so well adept at this type of research on a machine such as this, and before he can stop himself, Roy blurts out, “So, how different is this bat computer’s set up from the one you have back home?”

If she’s startled by his abrupt question, Lian doesn’t show it. In fact, she doesn’t even turn away from what she’s doing. “Um, it looks like ours has a few more upgrades than yours and you seem to have some files that we don’t, but, all in all, it’s rather similar.”

Roy hums, not really sure what to say to that. He’s about to attempt more bad small talk to divert his attention from everything else going on right now, when they both pause to watch a particular video feed. Roy honestly can’t believe his eyes for a moment, and then he taps Lian on her shoulder. “Make that bigger. I want to see where they are.”

The camera is panning too quickly for Roy to make out anything in the background. He doesn’t really blame the camera guy, because the two women on screen are fighting so viciously, and moving almost impossibly fast over various rooftops, that Roy is having problems following. Lian’s Harley is on screen punching this world’s Harley in the face and throwing her around like a ragdoll. The newscaster just sounds completely confused as he tries to keep track of the two women during their altercation. Roy definitely feels for the man, given how lost he’s been throughout this entire ordeal. This world’s Harley is putting up a good fight, but she’s obviously outmatched by Lian’s Harley, which makes Roy wonder who trained Lian’s Harley. He doesn’t bother asking, however, knowing that Lian probably doesn’t know and that it doesn’t really matter, in the grand scheme of things.

Instead, he’s too fixated with watching Lian’s Harley kick this world’s Harley in the stomach before grabbing her by the dangling tails of her jester hat and slamming her into the ground. This world’s Harley rolls out of the way of the follow-up elbow and flips to her feet in a way that painfully reminds him of Dick. Roy ignores the pang in his chest at that thought, and instead, focuses on the woman in her normal red and black attire trying and failing to evade the other Harley. This world’s Harley’s outfit is torn in various places, and red seeps down from the numerous wounds underneath the rips. There’s clearly blood gushing down her white painted face, both from her mouth and the various lacerations all over her, but Harley doesn’t seem too bothered by it. Roy can’t help but think that if this world’s Harley was smart, then she’d run away from, as opposed to towards Lian’s Harley. But then again, he guesses the crazed look in the other woman’s eyes is probably something this Harley is used to seeing. After all, she does willingly spend the majority of her time with The Joker.

The flying kick attempted by the red and black clad woman doesn’t land. Instead, Lian’s Harley grabs her counterpart by the ankle midflight and throws her to the other side of the roof. As this world’s Harley struggles to her feet once again, her red and blue clad copy somersaults her way over to the other woman and kicks her back to the ground before Harley can get all the way back onto her feet. It’s then that Tim maneuvers himself so that he’s leaning around Lian enough to type. From what little of the screen that Roy can still see, he can tell that Tim is contacting Oracle and asking her to use her available resources to find any cameras in that part of Gotham that she can hijack for their purposes. Lian and Roy are both still watching this world’s Harley’s vicious beating when Tim leans back from the console. Roy doesn’t know what Harley could have possibly done to garner the attention of her doppelganger, but he certainly doesn’t envy her.

This world’s Harley throws a punch at her red and blue-wearing double, only to have the other woman grab and twist her arm behind her back and rip off the other woman’s jester’s hat. Lian’s Harley tosses her head back and laughs, clearly enjoying this encounter, as she grabs a handful of this world’s Harley’s hair and smashes the woman’s face into the ground. Roy’s eyes are suddenly drawn from the footage of the combat to a dialog box in the corner of the screen at the same time that Tim moves back to reply. He can clearly see Tim typing to Oracle and telling her to keep monitoring the situation before he abruptly turns to face Roy. “I’ve got their location. Let’s go.”

The two of them move to suit up before two very different voices yell at them to stop. Bruce’s commanding Bat-tone almost drowns out Lian’s indignant proclamation, but Roy hears both loud and clear. Bruce is the first to speak up, as always. “Someone explain what is going on. Now!”

Roy doesn’t get a chance to say anything before Lian interjects. “Forget that, there’s no way you two are going without me. I know her better than either of you. I’m a valuable asset and I won’t be benched because of some stupid protocol, or worse, some ridiculous fear that I’ll get hurt.”

Roy sighs heavily and gestures for Tim to deal with Bruce while he handles Lian. He still doesn’t think he has it in him to cope with the Bat right now, and facing Lian is just so much easier -- even if Roy is still absolutely certain that he’s doing everything wrong, at least he doesn’t get a disapproving glare from her. “Look, this isn’t about protocol. We aren’t used to fighting alongside you, and that can very easily be used against us in a situation like this. Not to mention, I’m pretty sure we can all agree that every last one of us is emotionally compromised here. I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to come along, but you can certainly monitor us from here and feel free to give us any tips over the comm.”

He can tell that she’s going to protest. Hell, he would too if the situation were reversed, but they really don’t have time for this. Before he can talk himself out of it, Roy gives her an apologetic smile as he quickly hugs her tightly, and then spins around to capture Tim’s attention, only to see him glaring daggers at Bruce. “It’s a long story. We’ll explain later.” Tim pivots away, but Bruce grabs his arm before he can leave. Roy can’t ever remember Bruce doing that. In fact, now that Roy thinks about it, he’s never witnessed Bruce not begrudgingly accepting Tim’s decisions. He doesn’t ever remember Bruce not trusting his third Robin’s judgment, and it really makes him question what’s changed between them, and when.

“No, the two of you are not going alone. I can only assume this all has something to do with Dick’s current condition, and I won’t risk the safety of another one of my sons.” It’s then that Roy realizes how much Dick’s condition is really affecting Bruce. He doesn’t know why he didn’t see it sooner. After all, Dick is his precious, and most loyal, eldest, and Roy has known for years the lengths those two are willing to go for each other.

Tim stills and is completely frozen for exactly 30 seconds, looking as though he’s never heard Bruce call him that before -- and Roy honestly wonders if Bruce ever has…at least not when someone was dead or dying -- and then Tim seems to hunch over and sink into himself for a fraction of a second before pushing his shoulders back and standing even straighter than before. “Debriefing you would take too long and you’ve been awake for too many hours dealing with the League crisis. You and Robin are both a liability right now. Stay here and take care of Dick.”

Roy feels like he’s just been punched in the gut. He doesn’t think he’s ever heard any of the Robins give Batman an order before, and he sure as hell doesn’t appreciate the glare they both garner for it. “Then take the girl with you.”

Tim’s eyes widen, and Roy is fairly certain that his own expression mirrors Tim’s. “What? But you don’t even know who she is, and…”

“She’s clearly a version of Lian Harper and familiar with the doppelganger. That’s all I need to know.” Bruce cuts Tim off before he can even finish.

The ‘right now’ isn’t spoken, but Roy is positive everyone heard it anyway. After several moments, Tim and Bruce are still just staring at each other, and no one has moved an inch, so Roy takes it upon himself to break the tension. He throws an arm over Lian’s shoulders and starts leading her toward the changing area. “It looks like you’re coming with us, after all, kiddo. So, let’s go suit up.”

Despite everything, Lian manages one of the widest smiles Roy has seen from her since he’s met her, and he can’t help but smile back. She leans into his side as she glances up at him. “If that was my Grandpa Bruce, he’d follow us mere moments after we left.”

Roy can’t stop himself from laughing, and he’s actually a little surprised by how good it feels. He still feels like his world is falling apart, but somehow, right now, in this instance, it doesn’t seem so bad. “Oh, make no mistake, sweetheart. He has every intention of following us, and Tim knows it. That little argument was just Tim’s way of getting out of having to debrief B before we leave.”

Lian shakes her head and chuckles to herself for a moment. “Now that is something my Uncle Tim would do in a heartbeat.” Lian grabs her suit out of the locker next to Tim’s -- which he had probably placed there after upgrading it -- and then goes to get changed while Roy heads in the opposite direction for his own suit. Roy suddenly realizes that, for once, he’s not dreading the possibility of fighting alongside someone who reminds him so much of his little girl -- and all it took was his best friend being stabbed in the chest. It figures his life is just that screwed up all of the time.

The End (for now)