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Fic: Purple Arrow Chapter 16

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


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 Chapter Fifteen

Lian startles awake at the cacophony of sound around her and the frantic voices coming from the other side of the cave, only to see various concerned faces. She can’t watch what they’re doing to Dick, so she turns her attention to Roy -- who clearly isn’t dealing well with the sight of his best friend gasping for breath -- so she turns him away from it. She doesn’t really know how to help him, but Lian figures that a distraction technique is always a worthwhile plan. She can see him visibly calming down, but before Roy really gets a chance to handle everything, Robin storms over to them, and Lian swears she could just hit him for the way that he’s acting. She honestly can’t understand how Robin gets away with being this way. After all, her Grandpa Bruce would never accept such attitude…not without the punishment of extra training and a lecture.

However, once she learns that this Bruce didn’t raise this Robin, it becomes a lot easier to digest, but she still has a lot of questions. For starters, she wants to know if he’s new enough to still be so abrasive, then why is he Robin. Her Grandpa Bruce would never let anyone take that title, who didn’t earn it and show the proper amount of respect for it, but then, she guesses that’s just one more way this world is different from her own. She’s so lost in her own thoughts that she almost misses the way Tim looks over at Robin while updating them on Dick’s condition. She knows that look well enough from her own Uncle Tim, and it occurs to Lian that maybe Robin is acting the way that he is due to how worried he is. She resolves to try to be nicer to him in the future, though she’s not sure it’ll mean much…not with everything she has and hasn’t heard about him thus far.

Lian is actually relieved when Tim orders her to find anything pertaining to her Harley and the Checkered Dolls. It gives her something to do, and gives her a chance to take her mind off of everything. She’s secretly been dying to use this bat computer since she first laid eyes on it anyway. The set up is close enough to her own that it doesn’t take her very long at all to find the relevant feeds, but she still has to wonder why this computer doesn’t seem to have certain upgrades that the one back home does. Her Uncle Tim is the reason for those updates, and she can easily see signs of similar work on this one, so it doesn’t make any sense that certain basic upgrades are nonexistence. She’s about to ask about it when Lian sees the feed of the two Harley’s beating each other senseless, and she’s not really sure how to feel about that.

Fortunately or unfortunately -- she doesn’t know which -- the fight isn’t very long, and before Lian can think better of it, she’s fighting for her right to go along with them. She doesn’t explain that she has to go…that she knows Harley being here is somehow her fault…that if anything else happens to the people of this world while she’s just sitting by idly she’ll blame herself for the rest of her life. However, she doesn’t have to, because the last person she ever expected to be on her side insists that Lian go along with them. She has no idea what this Batman’s motivations are, but she can’t help but feel a little comforted by his presence. Even if it is abundantly clear that there’s some kind of rift between this Tim and Bruce. It seems that every time she meets someone new here she learns of a different fissure between the various members of this family, and it makes her ache for all of them. She’s never seen a Bat family so fractured, even with the loss of Uncle Dick creating a giant chasm between her Uncle Tim, Grandpa Bruce, and Aunt Barbara, they’re still a family and they’re still close. Lian can’t understand what has driven this family so far apart…not when there are so many of them.

She’s happy to have a few moments to herself while changing, so she can get her head on straight. As much as Lian knows that going after her Harley is going to be dangerous, she can’t help but be excited about going out to fight. She’s even a little thrilled at the prospect of fighting alongside this Roy again. Lian just can’t help the feeling of serenity she gets when she’s fighting beside him, even if it does cause her to miss her father that much more. Once she’s fully dressed, her hair pulled back into a tight ponytail, and Lian is sure she’s ready to take on whatever comes her way, she meets up with both Tim and Roy, who are still having a nonverbal conversation with Batman.

Tim looks stiff as a board and uncomfortable, but she can visibly tell that he’s slowly easing into the mindset her Uncle Tim enters before a mission. It’s a strange sort of calm that seems almost cold, but enables him to be as efficient as possible. Roy seems as though he just wants to leave immediately, but he doesn’t appear to be nearly as grievous as Tim. Lian can see the underlining weariness in Bruce’s posture. He’s exhausted, and she’s sure that the state of his oldest son isn’t helping with that fatigue. She can understand why Tim ordered him to stay behind, though they all know he won’t. Still, seeing this Tim give this Bruce an order like that was unnerving, even her Uncle Tim doesn’t order her Grandpa Bruce around in such a way, and her Uncle Tim is in charge of nearly everything back home. He has been since her Grandpa Bruce’s ‘accident’.

They’re out on the rooftops, Tim leading them towards the Harleys last known location, when Lian catches a particularly dark shadow out of the corner of her eye. If how tense the other two become is any indicator, then they’ve sensed Batman’s presence as well. She smirks a little. It’s not surprising that Bruce didn’t wait long before following them, but she still thinks it’s odd. This Bruce actually seems more closed off than her Grandpa, and Lian didn’t think that was possible. Not for the first time, she wonders what happened on this world that made them all so disconnected from each other and why they’ve allowed that distance to grow to this point. She knows her Grandpa Bruce would never allow this kind of barrier to build between him, Uncle Tim, and Aunt Barbara…even if it’s just for Lian’s sake. A part of her wonders if that’s the problem…if this family wouldn’t be better -- be closer -- if they would have had to take her counterpart in, but then, she thinks about this world’s Robin, and it’s clear that it probably wouldn’t have helped.

Tim slows to a stop suddenly, holding up a hand to signal the others to follow suit. “This is the place. Oracle is telling me that the two Harleys were last seen fighting on this rooftop, but the feed cut out before she could see how the fight ended. Evidently the other world’s Harley didn’t appreciate being watched. Spread out and search for anything that could lead us to their current location. Oracle is trying to find anything she can from security cameras around the city, but so far she’s come up empty handed.” He abruptly turns to face the opposite corner of the roof; Lian follows his gaze to where the shadows seem impossibly devoid of light. “Is there anything you’d like to add, Batman?”

Batman merely grunts, and Tim leaps off the building, presumably to check the alley for anything of pertinence. Lian glances around the rooftop, but the tension running through the other two is putting her on edge, so much so that she can’t stand the idea of being trapped up here with both of them. She watches wearily as Batman examines the obvious indications of the Harleys’ struggle and Roy scrutinizes the small blood splatters. She figures that they’ve both got this covered, so she vaults off of the roof to land in the alley below beside Tim. “Need some help? The Brood Master already has an Arrow helper.”

Lian can just barely see the small twitch of an almost smile on his face, and can’t help but feel elation that she can still invoke such a reaction in a Tim Drake. “Does that mean you’re going to be my Arrow helper for the night, Purple Arrow?”

Lian grins impishly. “One badass-Arrow-chick-sidekick at your service.” She gives a small bow, and delights in the huff of a laugh she gets in response. She may not know what caused all of the strain between this Tim and Bruce, but she certainly knows how to alleviate it, even if only marginally.

Tim gestures for her to go inspect the other side of the alley. “Well, then, my badass-Arrow-chick-sidekick go make yourself useful, and see if you can find anything over there.”

She salutes him before turning on her heel and scanning her surroundings for anything of significance. She can’t help but feel as though it’s so much easier to breath down here than back on that rooftop. She ruefully glances back up for a moment before returning to her investigation. Lian wants to spend as much time around this Roy as possible, but sometimes it’s just so hard, especially when he keeps looking at her like she’s the ghost of someone else, and this Bruce isn’t much better. For all that he may not be as physically broken as her Grandpa Bruce, he’s still so much more fractured emotionally, and that’s something Lian never expected to ever encounter.

She knows that she needs to move past it, however. There’s so much she can learn from these people, and Lian refuses to allow her misgivings about their mental states to get in the way of that. Abruptly, there’s a muffled groan from behind her, and Lian has an arrow notched in her bow before she’s even fully turned around. She listens intently for what feels like forever before a sound draws her attention to the dumpster to her left. Lian whistles lowly to get Tim’s attention. “I think there’s something in the dumpster, and you should really give me something to call you.”

She can see the beginnings of an almost abashed expression take over his face. “With everything going on, I kind of forgot you didn’t know that I go by Red Robin.”

Lian makes a face at the name. It’s not a persona that her Uncle Tim has ever gone by; at least she’s fairly certain it’s not. “What? There are so many of you that you started color coding yourselves? Is that the only way you guys can distinguish between each other?”

She can tell that he’s raising an eyebrow at her from under his cowl, and it makes her want to smirk in response. “You’re one to talk, Purple Arrow.” He emphasizes her name as he gives her a pointed look.

Lian shrugs, still holding her bow at the ready. “Hey, where I come from I’m the only Arrow, and purple clearly suits me.” She gestures to her violet colored bow and arrows and then at her outfit. “What’s your excuse, Red Robin?” She repeats his name in the exact tone that he used for hers.

His cowl does nothing to hide the fact that he’s rolling his eyes at her. “It’s a long story, and, judging by your reaction, I assume that your uncle never went by that particular name.”

Lian shakes her head. She’s not really comfortable discussing this out in the open, but she feels the need to answer him all the same, so she refrains from using names. “He was Robin when the others died. After a few years, he decided Robin no longer fit the person he became and he took up the name of Nightwing to honor the previous one. After Batman’s ‘accident’ my uncle took over that persona too.”

She can almost see his eyes widen beneath his mask, and Lian knows there’s something about what she just said that’s bothering him, but before she can ask him about it Tim continues with his inquiry. “And what about your aunt?”

Lian honestly wasn’t expecting that question, but she figures that he’s just as curious about her world as she is about his. “My aunt? She was really good friends with my uncle. They went to school together, and hung out a lot. She eventually became really close with Batman and Nightwing through her friendship with Robin. Anyway, thanks to a few too many absences that coincided with a few too many incidents, she figured out that my uncle was Robin. She didn’t really want to be a part of the whole rooftop gang, but she wanted to help, so she became their tech support, in a way. When my uncle decided to become Nightwing, I was already training to be Purple Arrow, and my aunt couldn’t stand just sitting on the sidelines anymore. Batman had been training her for years, despite the fact that she didn’t want to put on a suit, so there wasn’t any reason to deny her. She took up the name Robin, and fought alongside Batman and Nightwing for a couple of years, until I was officially allowed out as Purple Arrow, and then the four of us teamed up and patrolled the city like an awesome crime fighting family. At least that was until a particularly vicious fight with Harley ended with a piece of rebar going through my aunt’s midsection. She barely survived, and when she recovered…well, let’s just say, she wasn’t exactly able to do the things that she use to. She took up the name Oracle and has been our Mistress of Information ever since.”

Tim merely stares at her for a long moment, visibly trying to process everything that she’s just told him, and Lian can tell it’s not sitting well with him. “Wait, so your aunt is close in age with your younger uncle? And she was Robin? Never Batgirl?”

Lian nods, openly perplexed by the fact that, out of everything she’s just told him, that’s what he’s having issues reconciling with. “Yeah, is that not the case here?”

He shakes his head. “Our Oracle is older than our Nightwing and she was the first Batgirl.”

Lian can’t believe her ears. She can’t even fathom how their Barbara became a part of the family if she wasn’t brought in by her association with Tim. She’s heard so many stories over the years of all of the trouble her Aunt Barbara and Uncle Tim got into when they were younger, and it just seems so utterly wrong that those things never happened here. She thinks that she’s finally starting to understand why this family just isn’t as close as her own. They aren’t even the right ages and don’t even have the same ties as her family back home. “Wait, so you and Oracle aren’t the same age? You guys weren’t friends growing up?” At his head shake, she continues. “No wonder you’re so alone.”

He doesn’t get a chance to respond before they’re both interrupted by another loud, but muffled groan coming from the dumpster they’re standing in front of. Lian tightens her grip on her bow, as they edge closer to the dumpster. Tim quickly moves to the side to give her an unobstructed view. He gestures for her to keep her arrow trained on the top of the dumpster as he slowly lifts the lid. Once the lid is fully open, and they’re both sure nothing is going to jump out at them, they both inch forward to peer inside.

Lian gasps and replaces her bow and arrow when she sees a very broken and bloody Harley lying motionless amidst the trash. She’s never seen her own Harley appear this weak and bedraggled. There are clumps of hair missing and the woman is covered in molten bruises. Her right arm is jutting out in an unnatural position, and her outfit is ragged and torn, coated in a layer of grime and blood. Lian can’t see much of the other woman’s lower body from her position, but she can’t imagine that the rest of her faired much better. The stark contrast between this shattered woman and the Harley she knows is so jarring that Lian is honestly finding it hard to believe that they are different versions of the same person.

Tim gestures for her to help him move some of the garbage away from Harley’s crumbled form, so he can better assess the damage. The two of them wordlessly look her over as Tim reaches for the side of his cowl where his comm is hidden. “B, we found our Harley. She’s going to need some serious medical care.”

The two of them are in the middle of carefully lifting Harley out of the trash when Lian hears the sound of two very distinctive and separate footfalls. She doesn’t need to turn to know that both Batman and Red Arrow are standing right behind her. Tim and Lian cautiously lay Harley on the ground, and Lian nearly startles as the woman lets out a pained whimper. She honestly thought that the other woman was out cold, but between the swelling and bruising Lian can’t tell if Harley’s eyes are open or not. Lian and Tim try to step away from the broken woman, but before Tim can even get to his feet Harley grabs a hold of his arm with her good hand. Lian tenses, but halts in her action of going for her weapon when Tim motions for her to relax. “You have ta help. She’s goin’ after Mistah J.” Harley’s voice is frail and wrecked. It sounds painful and choked off. Lian is sure that this isn’t the woman’s normal octave either.

Batman abruptly pushes past Lian and kneels down beside Harley. “Where is he, Harley? Where’s The Joker?” Lian’s not sure she’s ever heard that particular tone out of her Grandpa Bruce, but she’s certain that she never wants to. It sounds like he swallowed gravel while getting stabbed in the chest.

Harley sucks in a breath and visibly tightens her grip on Tim’s arm. “Amusement Mile…old hideout…hurry.” She falls unconscious, before they can ask for any specifics, but, from Batman’s expression, he knows exactly where to go.

Batman swiftly gets to his feet and stares down at Tim blankly. “Red Robin, call an ambulance. The three of you head back to base. I’m going after The Joker.”

Lian’s eyes widen at the man’s utter stupidity, but before she can say a word Tim is standing two inches away from Batman glaring at him like he’s insane. “No, you’re not! In case you haven’t noticed, this isn’t just about The Joker. The other Harley is just as dangerous as him, if not more so. We haven’t seen any signs of her Checkered Dolls, which means they could be anywhere, and you’re running on fumes. There’s no way you are going alone. Oracle can call for an ambulance while the four of us go after the other Harley and Joker.”

“Ambulance is already on its way.” A female voice that sounds disturbingly familiar suddenly chimes in her ear, evidently speaking to all of them at once, and Lian can almost hear the age difference between this Barbara and her own.

Batman glowers at all of them, but Tim shuts down any protest before it starts. “You can either accept our help or go back to the cave due to your unmistakably impaired judgment. It’s your choice, B.”

Lian honestly can’t believe her ears. It doesn’t matter how often she sees it, she’s sure she will never get used to any Tim talking to a Batman that way, especially when Tim looks as though he’s about to punch the other man squarely in the jaw. She’s not really sure what kind of response she’s expecting from Bruce, but it certainly isn’t a proud little twitch of his lips, a sharp nod, and a far less severe glare directed at her and Roy before Batman produces a grapple gun. “Get moving.”

There isn’t anything else to say as all three of them move as one to follow Batman’s orders, and Lian doesn’t think twice about the fact that it’s the wrong Batman entirely, or even the fact that it’s a different Bruce, because she was trained for years to follow that particular tone…no matter who’s using it. She can’t stop herself from thinking, however, that this is how it was always meant to be.

The End (for now)

Comments

lilyoftheval5
Apr. 19th, 2014 07:39 pm (UTC)
Riveting chapter.
It's fascinating how Lian sees them all...
brokaw22
Apr. 20th, 2014 02:26 am (UTC)
Thank you. I try to really show that Lian's world is different and how that effects the way she views everything.