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Fic: Purple Arrow Chapter 18

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 Chapter Fifteen Chapter Sixteen Chapter Seventeen

Lian stands ready for whatever orders she’s about to be given, only to raise an eyebrow in confusion when Red Robin starts calling the shots. She guesses she shouldn’t be surprised since Tim has been directing them since the very beginning, but she kind of figured that since Batman was here now, he’d take point. Still, she’s got nothing to complain about. She’s been dying to spend time with this Batman, even if he does glare at her as though she’s an enemy. However, she wishes that her first official meeting with Mister Big, Dark, and Creepy was under better circumstances -- but that’s never how her life goes, and if it changed that much now, she really would worry.

He doesn’t say anything to her as he pulls out a grapple gun and aims for the roof, not that she honestly expects anything different. This silence is odd, however. It’s not necessarily uncomfortable, and yet, it’s nowhere near the type of silence that she’s grown used to from her Grandpa Bruce or Uncle Tim, even when she’s on mission. She feels the urge to fidget and ramble in a way that she hasn’t in years. Lian is fairly certain that her unease has been noticed, and not just because he’s the great and powerful Batman. She’s pretty sure a gnat could pick up on her restlessness. She breathes out a heavy sigh as they continue picking their way through the top floors of the building.

Abruptly, the two of them pause when they hear the sounds of fighting going on at least two floors below them. She gets ready to move to the nearest exit, but before she can take more than a single step, Batman holds up a hand to stop her. She stills completely and listens. Whatever is going on beneath their feet is irrelevant; because she can feel it…she knows why Batman stopped her. There are eyes on them from multiple directions and she can hear the distinct sound of a sword being pulled from a sheath. She waits for the inevitable signal, and hopes to hell that this Batman’s signals are reminiscent of her Uncle Tim’s.

It turns out that they are close enough, because he makes the smallest of gestures with his hand, and she nods. She knows what needs to be done and she knows she can do it. Lian just hopes he remembers to adjust for the size difference, because she’s seen his Robin, and, while the boy may very well be heavier than her, he’s still quite a bit shorter, and she really doesn’t feel like having her head departed from her body today. She waits until Batman makes his move, throwing a batarang at the nearest opponent. It’s meant as a distraction and the Checkered Doll in front of them easily bats it away with her sword, but by then Lian is already moving.

She grabs three arrows in one hand, notches one of them, and runs full force towards Batman. He crouches low as she plants a foot on his shoulder, and then flips into the air, rapidly shooting off all three of her arrows as she lands far enough away from the surrounding enemies to really put her bow to good use. She’ll have to switch tactics soon enough, but at least she can provide him with some level of cover fire.

Lian really hates fighting this many Checkered Dolls in such an enclosed space, but there’s nothing she can do about the venue other than work with what she’s got. Right now, she’s just happy that what she’s got happens to be a Batman, even if she’s not used to working with one who’s this tall. It’s making it a little difficult for some of her better shots, but it’s nothing she doesn’t know how to deal with. She lines up a great shot right between the ears on his cowl and laughs when she sees his shoulders tighten as the arrow soars directly through them and hits her target. Evidently, he’s not as used to that particular trick as her Uncle Tim is. She might apologize later, but probably not.

Lian is about to shoot off another arrow, but instead has to duck as a batarang goes flying towards her face. It connects with the Checkered Doll’s head, who was attempting to creep up behind her. “Thanks, but I knew she was there.”

Batman ignores her as he continues fighting. Lian rolls eyes as she slams her bow into the midsection of another Checkered Doll before smacking her across the face with it. “No, seriously, I knew she was there. I’m not exactly new to this, ya know?”

Batman grunts as he blocks a sword with the wrist guard on his gauntlet. Lian’s eyes widen with recognition as she scoffs indignantly. “Seriously, the shot between the ears thing bothered you that much? I do it with my Batman all of the time.”

Batman growls as he pushes the Checkered Doll in front of him away and follows with a roundhouse kick. Lian finally gets it and smiles sheepishly. There’s an urge to rub the back of her head self-consciously, but both of her hands are a little busy at the moment fending off another sword attack from a different Checkered Doll. “Oh, my bad. You’re not used to working with someone firing arrows that close to you who isn’t trying to kill you. Got it. Won’t happen again.”

She guesses she should have realized that sooner, but really, that particular shot has been one that she’s been utilizing since she was tiny. It’s actually a little annoying that she has to shelve the technique here, but Lian understands and doesn’t see any reason not to oblige. Batman is taking on three Checkered Dolls at once, and Lian is honestly starting to wonder how many of them Harley brought here with her. She’s not surprised to find a small horde of them. After all, Harley rarely travels with less than five of them, but every single time they take out one of them more seemingly pop out of nowhere.

There’s a Doll heading towards Batman, but he’s a little busy dealing with the three surrounding him, so Lian reaches for an arrow, only to discover that she doesn’t have any more. There’s no time to really consider what she’s doing, and Lian isn’t much for planning things out anyway. She changes her grip on her bow, and throws it like a javelin. It connects with the Doll’s head, distracting the Doll enough to give Lian enough time to flip her way over to the Checkered Doll and take her out with a well placed kick.

Lian picks up her bow and winces as she waits for the inevitable lecture about not throwing away her weapon. It takes her a moment to realize that said lecture is never going to come, because her Uncle Tim isn't here. It startles her for a moment to realize how much she misses him and the rest of her family. After all, an absent lecture shouldn’t make her miss home more than everything else that’s been going on, and yet, here she is, braced for something that will never come, and aching for it all the same.

She loops her bow onto her back and reaches down to her thigh holster to retrieve her plum colored esrcima sticks. She can tell that he’s raising an eyebrow behind his cowl, and she just shrugs in response. “What? Purple is definitely my color.”

Batman grunts as he sweeps a Checkered Doll’s feet out from underneath her, and Lian nods in understanding. “Oh, my uncle…erm Batman kind of insisted that I have an in close combat weapon or two. He seemed mighty pleased when I chose the previous Nightwing’s weapon of choice.”

He gives her an almost unperceivable nod, but Lian catches it all the same. She can’t keep the smirk off of her face as the two of them work together to take down the remaining Dolls. The fight is long and arduous, but when they’re done fifteen Checkered Dolls are all lying on the floor, unconscious.

Any elation she might feel from a battle well fought is ripped away when she hears Harley’s frustrated scream from somewhere below them. She glances over to Batman, unsure of how exactly to convey her worry for the other two, as well as the need to move quickly to help them. This Batman isn’t like her Uncle Tim. He can’t possibly understand how dangerous her Harley really is; especially since she never really got a chance to fully debrief any of them on her Harley’s infatuation with her family. There is no doubt in Lian’s mind that her Harley will destroy each and every one of this Batman’s family just for the sheer fun of it.

Apparently, that simple glance is all it takes, however, because the two of them take off running in the direction of Harley’s sickening laughter. When they get down to the fight, Lian can’t help but scream as she sees Roy lying on the ground with a sword sticking out of his chest and Red Robin facing off against Harley mere feet away from him. Batman immediately heads straight for Harley, kicking her away from Red Robin, and Lian takes the opportunity to focus on Roy. She doesn’t think twice about what she’s doing as she vaults over piles of debris and rushes to his side.

It’s evident with a single glimpse that he’s in a tremendous amount of pain – more than a stab wound, even one this bad, really warrants. Lian knows just from his perspiring brow, dilated eyes, and the way he’s writhing in agony that the blade is poisoned. She’s seen this more times than she cares to recall, but, luckily for her, that just she means that she’s actually prepared. Lian digs into her utility belt for the antidote. She thanks the multiverse that her Uncle Tim and Aunt Barbara managed to synthesize this after Harley poisoned her Grandpa Bruce last year. Now she just hopes that Harley hasn’t changed poisons on her.

Lian won’t know if the antidote is actually working for at least twenty minutes, and they still need to get him out of here before he bleeds to death. Lian has nowhere to go with the battle between Batman, Red Robin, and Harley in full swing mere feet behind her. She also knows she can’t pull the sword out without killing him, so Lian is left with very little that she can do at the moment. She latches onto Roy’s flesh arm and desperately calls to him, trying to get him to focus on something beyond the pain and hopefully keeping him conscious. “Roy, Roy, come on. You can’t give up. You can’t die!” She’s not really paying attention to the words coming out of her mouth, and she could care less about using his name right now. She would say anything if it would keep him fighting. “Don’t leave me. Dad, you have to keep going. Come on, daddy. Look at me! Dad, I need you. I need you to focus on me. Don’t give up!”

It’s a long moment before she even realizes that she’s gone back to calling him dad, but she can’t care right now. She can’t deal with seeing her father die, even if he’s not really her dad. She watches in utter hopelessness as his expression changes from one of utter agony to a small relieved smile. He’s giving up. She can see it, and Lian knows there’s nothing she can say or do to stop him. Well, that’s just too damn bad. Lian doesn’t have it in her to just sit back and do nothing, despite the fact that she knows there’s not much she can do. She doesn’t know how to give up. That’s just one more trait that she got from her father, and he damn well better remember it now. She clenches her fist and punches him as hard as she can in the shoulder. “You don’t get to give up. I won’t let you. My father would never give up!”

The fight between Harley, Red Robin, and Batman is still raging on behind her, but Lian pays it no heed. She has more important things to worry about as she gathers an unconscious Roy into her arms and literally drags him out of the room and up a few flight of stairs to the roof. “I don’t know who’s on the other side of this comm, and I don’t care. I need a pick up. NOW!”

“It’s okay.” There’s a soft soothing female voice, deeper and older sounding than her Aunt Barbara’s, trying to ease her panic. Normally, Lian would be grateful that she didn’t get a computerized voice, but right now Lian thinks she would prefer the cold mechanized tones, because, if this Barbara is anything like her Aunt back home, then this just shows how bad it really is. “I’ve already sent someone. Calm down. You’re going to be okay.”

“It’s not me I’m worried about!” Lian practically screams even though she knows the comms would pick up a whisper. She falls down on her knees, cradling Roy’s head in her lap.

“I know, but you’ve done what you can. Just stay with him. Your ride will be there...”

“I’m here, O.” A man -- whom Lian doesn’t recognize -- wearing a red face mask, lands next to her. He bends down and gathers Roy into his arms. “It’s worse than you said it was. Also, who’s the kid?”

“Purple Arrow, go with him. Red Hood, hurry.” If this Red Hood is annoyed with Barbara for ignoring his question, he certainly doesn’t show it. Instead, he just heads for the edge of the roof.

Lian gets to her feet, but it feels wrong to just leave now that Roy is in, what she assumes to be, capable hands. “What about Red Robin and Batman?”

“They have it under control.” The words are spoken in a way that leaves no room for protest, and Lian doesn’t feel like she could offer one anyway.

She follows silently behind Red Hood as the two of them race to a nearby vehicle. He places Roy into the backseat as she gets in the front passenger seat. She’d rather be in the back with Roy, but they don’t need to jostle him more than they already have. Red Hood gets in and floors it, a decision that Lian full heartedly agrees with.

He glances over at her for a moment before turning his eyes back towards the road. “So, Purple Arrow, interesting name. Where you from?”

She doesn’t really feel like participating in small talk right now, but she can tell that he’s just trying to distract her from everything that’s going on right now, and she could certainly use a distraction. “Another world entirely.”

He nods in understanding, and Lian almost wants to smile…almost. “Ah, gotta love multiverse travel. Got a Red Hood back where you’re from?”

She shakes her head, wondering if it’s somehow insulting to inform someone that they don’t exist somewhere else. “Nope.”

Red Hood shrugs, as though her answer is neither unexpected, nor bothersome. “Pity, your world is missing out.”

She scoffs at him. If his nonchalant response is anything to go by, then he sure as hell doesn’t actually believe so. “I’m sure.” They sit in silence for a few moments while she gives him a once over. “So, Red Hood, you guys do know there are other colors, right?”

“True, but how could we ever compete with Purple Arrow?” She can just imagine the smirk on his face from the tone of his voice, and, for some indiscernible reason, it makes her want to punch him.

“Hey, mock all you want, but there is only one purple anything in my world. I’ve seen so many red something or others here that I’m starting to wonder if everyone in this world is actually colorblind and the only color you people can perceive is red.”

He laughs as he shakes his head. “Interesting theory there, nugget.”

“Nugget?” She raises an eyebrow at him. Lian has had a lot of weird nicknames over the years, but this has to be the strangest one. “What kind of nickname is nugget?”

He shrugs. “The one I just gave you.”

She rolls her eyes, but before she can continue with their inane banter, the car stops and she realizes that they’re back in the Batcave. Alfred is standing nearby, ready with medical supplies. That’s when reality comes crashing back down around her, and Lian realizes that she really could lose Roy. It feels like she’s losing her father all over again, and Lian doesn’t know what to do. She’s glad that Red Hood has seemingly taken charge, because she’s not really sure that she can move. She watches as Red Hood moves to remove the sword, and before she can stop herself words are tumbling out of her mouth. “The blade…it’s poisoned. I gave him the antidote. I…I don’t know if it’ll work. I…I think Harley still uses the same poison, but it might not be, and...” She trails off after realizing that she’s been rambling.

Red Hood pulls out the sword in a smooth swift motion, and Alfred immediately covers the gushing wound with gauze to wipe away most of the blood. The moment that he can see what he’s doing he motions for Red Hood to take a step back. “Everything is under control over here, young sir.”

Lian doesn’t miss the small motion Alfred makes towards her and apparently neither does Red Hood, because he places the sword down next to the gurney that Roy is lying on, and then he practically drags Lian away from the scene. “Come on, nugget. Time to get changed and head upstairs. Alfred has everything well in hand down here.”

“He’s gonna die, isn’t he? They’re both going to die, and then your world will be just as empty as mine.” She doesn’t know why, but she can’t seem to control herself. She never meant to say any of that out loud, and yet here she is rambling away again.

Red Hood shakes his head as he grabs her by the arm and leads her towards the lockers. “No one’s gonna die. Now, come on. No suits allowed upstairs.”

Lian doesn’t know when she started shaking, but now that she realizes it she can’t make herself stop. All she can see is Roy lying on the ground with a sword sticking out of his chest and a damn smile on his face as he gives up. She doesn’t understand why this stuff keeps happening around her, but she’s starting to feel like the unluckiest charm there is. Lian feels something warm wrap around her, and she looks up to see Red Hood without his mask on. She quickly glances away to discover that he placed his leather jacket around her shoulders. She glances back up at him uncertainly as he gives her a small smile and nudges her. “Come on, I know there has to be some clothes down here for you somewhere.”

She moves as if on autopilot towards the locker currently housing her street clothes. She changes quickly, and then meets him outside the changing area. She’s not sure when exactly he changed, but that’s not really important. Lian hands him back his jacket without saying anything. He nods as he grabs her by the arm again and drags her upstairs, ditching his jacket on the back of Batman’s chair as they go.

He pushes her into a seat in the kitchen and then starts rummaging around looking for something. She sits quietly while she waits, thinking that maybe this entire world would have been better off if she had never fallen through that portal. Lian sighs heavily as he places a cup of tea in front of her. She gives him a small nod and drinks. She doesn’t see how the tea could possibly help, but it gives her hands something to do and sipping the drink keeps her from having to speak. They sit there in silence, and it occurs to Lian that she never even bothered to find out his name. There’s a part of her that almost expects Aunt Barbara or Uncle Tim to comment on her rudeness, even though she knows that can’t happen here. Still, the reminder of what she doesn’t have makes her stomach drop.

She swallows down the last of her tea and then turns to face him. “So, you got a name, beyond Red Hood that is?”

He nods and takes a swig of his own drink before answering. “Jason Todd, and you?”

She remembers Dick mentioning a Jason Todd, though that conversation seems like a lifetime ago now. She doesn’t really remember what Dick said, but she remembers that whatever it was, it had a bad connotation to it. Lian shakes her head. It’s not like that matters now, especially since Dick is still unconscious and Jason is the only one here right now. She gives him a small handshake as she introduces herself. “Lian Harper.”

He winces as she says her name, and then places a hand on her shoulder. “Well, that explains a lot.”

She doesn’t know what exactly that explains, and really at this point Lian doubts that she wants to know. In fact, at this precise moment all she wants to do is sleep. She feels sluggish and groggy and she glares at him as her vision goes fuzzy. “You…you drugged my tea.” The words come out slurred even to her own ears and she can feel herself listing to the right.

He catches her right before she falls off of her chair. She glances up at him and does her best to intensify her glare, even with her eyes getting heavier and sliding closed. “Sorry, nugget, but sometimes Alfred’s tricks are the best tricks. Sleep, kiddo.”

She doesn’t have the energy to put up a fight, so she doesn’t bother. Instead, Lian sinks into the warm embrace and lets sleep overtake her, hoping that for once there won’t be any dreams of psychotic laughter and people dying.

The End (for now)