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Fic: Purple Arrow Chapter 17

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 Chapter Sixteen

Roy’s on the rooftop, following the blood trail and trying to figure out what happened to Harley while he waits for Bruce to say something. He knows that Sir Grumpy Pants is just waiting for him to drop his guard so Bruce can interrogate him. Roy still doesn’t have any good answers for him, but at least he doesn’t have an audience watching him stutter through some kind of explanation. It would be so much easier if Dick were here to distract Bruce. Then again, if Dick was here, a large portion of Roy’s problems would be solved -- like having to deal with Bruce at all. All things considered, he doesn’t have to wait very long before he hears the bark of, “Red Arrow, you’re distracted.”

Roy can’t stop himself from laughing. “For a detective, you sure like to state the obvious.” He probably shouldn’t irritate Bruce any more than normal, especially with everything that’s going on, but Roy can’t help himself. “Of course I’m distracted, but so are you.” One day Roy will learn to keep his mouth shut, but today is not that day.

Bruce grunts, and seemingly goes back to ignoring him, which Roy guesses is for the best. It’s not as though the guy is known for spirited conversation at the best of times, and right now certainly isn’t anywhere near the best of times -- not to mention, Roy is kind of in the midst of his own existential crisis, so the longer he can put off the inevitable grilling and subsequent questions about Lian, the better.

The two of them continue doing circuits around the roof silently until the blood trail seems to end. There isn’t much for them to find other than some scuff marks, torn fabric, and a few blood splatters. The obvious signs of a struggle leave them with very little to help decipher how the fight ended. Roy knows that if they don’t find something soon, then he might just have to do something truly insane and actually talk to Bruce. The very thought of it makes him shudder. Luckily, he’s saved by Tim’s voice through their comms.

Tim informs them that Harley needs medical treatment, but that still doesn’t prepare Roy for the sight of her. The only thing keeping him from gasping at all of her injuries is the need to hear her breathing. Sure, Harley’s a villain, but no one deserves to be thrown into a dumpster. However, his concern for her gets sidetracked by the argument going on between Bruce and Tim. Roy isn’t really sure why the two of them have been speaking to each other as if they’re barely capable of getting along, but he’s relieved that he’s not the one who has to fight against Bruce’s stubborn and irrational decisions.

The four of them head off in the direction of Amusement Mile, with Batman leading the way. When they reach Joker’s old hideout, it’s Red Robin who turns to address everyone. “Red Arrow, you’re with me. We’re going after Harley.” Roy can tell that Lian thinks it’s weird that there’s a Robin calling the shots while Batman is here. He just wishes that he could tell her she’s not alone -- but now really isn’t the time for that. He’s used to seeing Tim just fall in line when either Batman or Nightwing is around. It’s so strange to watch him fight against Bruce’s natural command, but even Roy can see how exhausted Batman really is, so he guesses this is just Tim’s way of keeping his family safe.

Roy nods and gives a thumbs up to Lian before the four of them split up into pairs and head in different directions. He’s perfectly happy with letting Red Robin lead the way. After all, this is his city, and surely Tim knows The Joker’s hideout better than he does. Roy’s suspicions pay off, because they haven’t even made it to the second floor before Tim points out a trip wire attached to some nasty surprises that would have left them both really damn dead.

He continues to meticulously follow Tim's lead around the booby traps, and halts abruptly as they both hear a crash and someone screaming. They take off running towards the noise, while still looking out for anything that might explode. They reach the top of the fourth floor and stop just before a wall explodes into splinters around them as someone goes flying through it. They both shield their faces the best they can from the resulting debris while simultaneously keeping themselves hidden.

The sound of maniacal laughter cuts through the air and they both freeze, because it’s a female voice. They glance around to find a very bloody Joker lying on the ground, coughing, with Harley standing over him. “You really thought I’d join up with someone as pathetic as you? I wasn’t trained by The Demon’s Head so I could work with the weak. Although, to be fair, I was only trained by Ra’s because we were seeing each other, but details…details…” Harley waves her hand in the air in a generally dismissive gesture, before kicking The Joker as hard as she can. “He really should have seen that exploding knife hilt coming, though. I mean, really…” She pauses in her rant, but only to grab Joker by his hair and slam him into the ground once more. “You know, I was really disappointed with the other me. I expected a better fight, but you…you pretty much met my expectations, which really weren’t that high. Is everyone in this world this pitiable?”

Roy and Tim crouch low as they move to a better position. They need to separate Harley from The Joker, but Roy doesn’t need to be a genius to know that this won’t be easy. Lian hasn’t told him anything about The Demon’s Head from her world, but Roy can tell from the way that Harley moves and his previous fight with her that Lian’s Ra’s is -- or well, was from what Harley suggests -- just as formidable as their own. That means that those who had trained under him are definitely just as imposing as any member of the League of Assassins. They still haven’t seen any evidence of Harley’s Checkered Dolls, but Roy would bet his flesh arm that they’re somewhere nearby.

Tim gestures for Roy to go around to the other side, so that the two of them can flank her. It’s a decent plan, but there’s a lot of debris between him and where he needs to be. Roy just hopes that The Joker can keep Harley’s attention long enough for him to get there. Fortunately, Joker likes to talk. He also doesn’t seem to mind taunting the person who is standing over him with a blade to his throat. “Ah, you’re my kind of Harley. Bigger fan of long pointy objects directed specifically at me than I’d prefer, but whatcha gonna do? Still, we could make a great team. I know this world…know the Bat and all of his yuppie sidekicks. We could kill them all.”

Harley throws her head back and laughs for a long moment. “You really think that I need you for that? I’ve crippled the Bat from my world and killed more of his little friends and family than you have. Still, another one always pops up.”

The Joker shrugs and grins maliciously. “Yeah, they do that. Flying vermin…they’re like jack-in-the-box without the fun surprise at the end. The least they could do is explode, like all good boxes should.”

Harley laughs as she moves her sword closer toward The Joker’s throat. “There are so many of them here. Don’t any of you worthless villains know how to kill?”

The Joker’s smile falls away as he glares at her. “Lady, I’ve killed more people than the first bird has bad quips.”

Roy tries to ignore the two crazies as he creeps past them, and then waits for Red Robin’s signal. It only takes a moment for Tim to get into position, and then, with a wave of his hand, the two of them make their move. Roy pulls a knife and throws it directly at Harley’s right shoulder. She spins, knocking the knife away with her sword, giving Roy her undivided attention, just as he planned. He knows that even though The Joker is down, he’s still a threat, but Roy trusts Tim to have his back. So, instead, he begins taunting Harley, leading her away from Joker and Red Robin. “You know, you don’t seem like much. Our Harley has her giant hammer and hyenas. It makes her a bit more impressive. You…what do ya got besides a big sword?”

Harley smiles evilly as she starts to move forward towards him, licking her lips. Roy realizes his heckling may have worked a little too well. Still, Harley and Joker made enough noise that he’s sure Batman and Purple Arrow should, at the very least, be aware of their approximate location. That’s, of course, assuming they aren’t already lurking somewhere nearby. “Oh, look, another fool just waiting to be carved up.”

Roy ducks under a swipe of her sword. The Joker is quiet behind her, so Roy assumes Tim knocked him out and is getting ready for the next part of their little plan, which just means that Roy needs to keep her attention on him. “Eh, I’m not one for carving. Heck, I don’t even like carving the turkey at Thanksgiving…too much work and what not.” He dances away from her as she lunges for him, and just barely catches the movement of something black and red out of the corner of his eye.

Tim moves to sweep Harley’s legs out from under her, but she back flips away from him. She seemingly focuses all of her attention on Tim and smiles in a way that sends chills down Roy’s spine. “You’re sneaky. I like that. I might just keep you as a pet.”

Roy slowly begins to circle her, hoping that he can somehow get her to focus on him again, because he really doesn’t like the way that Harley is looking at Tim. Roy knows that if anything happens to Red Robin, then both Batman and Nightwing are going to hold him personally responsible. That’s, of course, assuming Dick doesn’t die from his injuries, but Roy can’t really think about that right now, because Harley’s sword just came dangerously close to Tim’s face. He’s glad that Tim has his bo staff, because that’s really the only thing that saved him.

Roy lunges forward, but Harley spins away from him, while still mostly attacking Tim. She glares at him as though his interference in her fight with Red Robin is nothing more than an irritation, which is a problem. He knows that Tim can take care of himself, but since neither of them has actually managed to land a hit on Harley yet, Roy would rather not take any chances. He needs to find a way to garner her full attention, if for no other reason than, to give Tim an opportunity to take her down. However, Roy’s in too close range for any of his normal tricks to work, especially with how much debris was created by Harley’s fight with The Joker. Anything that would actually make him a real threat to Harley would also put Tim in danger, given the enclosed space.

Roy needs to move this fight out into a larger area to give both of them more room to work, but he has no good way to get that point across to Tim without just shoving Red Robin through a window or something. The thought actually gives Roy an idea. It won’t be easy and it’s most likely going to result in injury, but if it gets Harley to focus on something other than trying to gut Red Robin, he’ll take it. He picks up one of the lose bricks lying near his feet, whistles loudly, drawing Harley’s attention toward him, and then throws the brick at her head. The brick only temporarily blocks her vision of him for a split second before she knocks it away with her sword, but it’s just enough time for Roy to charge at her and slam Harley into a less-than-structurally-sound wall.

He can feel the wall crumble as they crash through it, and Harley shrieks in surprise. Roy is having trouble keeping track of where her sword is, which is a problem if he doesn’t want to end up finding it skewering something important like his spleen. The room they crash into isn’t that much larger than the previous fighting arena, but he’s put some distance between Harley and Tim, so one of his goals is accomplished, at least. Now, he just needs to get the hell away from Harley, because he’s found her sword, and from the trajectory of it, if he doesn’t move, he’s going to be missing his head.

Roy flips away, and immediately throws a handful of shuriken at her, knowing that there’s actually very little chance that any of them will hit their mark, but at least the mild distraction will gain him some breathing room and give him a second to get his bearings. He’s lost sight of Red Robin, but that doesn’t really matter right now, because if he doesn’t keep moving, Roy will be impaled with his own shuriken. Apparently, Harley didn’t appreciate being thrown through a wall. In her incensed state, she doesn’t seem to notice or care that the original fighter she was intent on is nowhere to be found.

Roy ducks under a barrage of sword strikes, and only manages to keep all of his limbs because his robotic arm works surprising well to block said strikes. Just when he thinks he might actually be able to use that to his advantage, Harley kicks him in the gut, knocking him backwards. Before he can even attempt to get to his feet, Harley has her sword poised for a lethal blow. Roy is fairly certain that there’s no getting out of this one. At least, that is until, out of seemingly nowhere, a red and black blur crashes into Harley from above, knocking her sword away from her in the process. Red Robin back flips away from Harley, keeping himself between her and her weapon.

It’s times like these that Roy appreciates all of the Bats and their affinity for rafters. “You could have made that move a little sooner, you know?”

Tim shrugs while subtlety bracing himself for whatever Harley intends to throw at them next. “Hey, you’re the one who was blocking the only good entrance.”

Harley gets back to her feet and snarls at both of them. “I’ve had enough of this.” She moves in a flurry of motion, and the next thing Roy knows, there are throwing knives sailing through the air from all directions. He dives on top of Tim, knowing that no matter how talented the kid is with his bo staff there are far too many of them for both of them to dodge. They slam into the ground, but apparently the throwing knives were just a distraction, because Harley is standing over them with her sword pressing against Roy’s chest. “You die first.”

Roy feels the sword pierce his chest, and, if previous experience is anything to go by, the burning sensation definitely means the blade is poisoned. He guesses he should have seen that coming. After all, this Harley is an assassin-trained psychotic, who apparently killed Ra’s al Ghul with an exploding knife hilt. There’s no reason her blade wouldn’t be coated in poison. His entire body feels like its on fire, and everything hurts like hell, but oddly enough it doesn’t hurt nearly as much as losing Lian. He doesn’t know why he’s thinking about that right now, but it’s not like Roy is able to focus on anything beyond the searing pain.

He doesn’t really know what’s going on around him, but Roy can hear fighting, although he can barely remember why. There’s a part of him screaming for him to get back up…to keep going, but that part is miniscule compared to the rest of him that doesn’t see any reason to continue fighting...not anymore. After all, Roy’s been fighting for years, and it’s done nothing for him. It certainly hasn’t won him anything. Hell, he lost everything when he lost Lian, and if the last few years have taught him anything, it’s that there really is no coming back from that -- so what’s the point?

Roy lets his eyes fall shut and tries to relax despite the blazing agony he feels all over. He knows that if he just gives in, the pain will subside soon enough, but there’s something or someone tugging on his flesh arm, and he swears that he can hear Lian screaming for him…repeatedly calling for her dad, but that doesn’t make any sense. His daughter has been dead for years. She can’t scream…not anymore, and he doesn’t have any reason to open his eyes. He hasn’t had a reason since the day that he lost his baby girl. He’s tried for so long to pretend like that isn’t the case, but he can’t run from the truth anymore, and Roy is so damn relieved that he no longer has to. He lets out a deep breath, relieved that it’s finally going to be over…that he can finally be free from the pain of losing her, and he can’t help but smile.

The End (for now)