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Fic: Purple Arrow Chapter 20
Dragon Princess
brokaw22 wrote in batfic
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 Chapter Eighteen Chapter Nineteen

Lian doesn’t remember ever being this excited before. It’s been two weeks since Roy regained consciousness, and Dick and Roy are both finally allowed to train with her. She’s in the cave, already dressed and waiting, practically bouncing with anticipation when she sees Tim wander in. Lian smiles as she waves to him. He doesn’t exactly seem awake yet, so she figures the least that she can do is give him some time to himself until he perks up a bit. Lian is sure that the large cup of coffee that he’s holding will help with that.

A lot of things have changed since Harley and her Checkered Dolls attacked. Dick and Tim are finally getting along the way they should, Bruce has finally gotten some sleep, and Roy seems like he’s actually happy he rejoined the land of the living. Lian couldn’t be happier.

In fact, the only thing that could possibly improve right now is Damian’s attitude, but she supposes that might actually happen if she stopped pranking him with Tim every chance the two of them got. Although, it’s not likely to happen, given how prissy he gets every time they pull something. After all, there’s just something extremely enjoyable about seeing his ‘angry cat face’ as she’s donned it.

Lian begins stretching as Tim finishes his coffee and joins her. “You seem to be in an exceptionally good mood today.”

Lian smiles as she nods. She’s been in a good mood ever since Roy regained consciousness, but even she can’t deny that today is probably the best that she’s felt since she’s arrived here. “Why wouldn’t I be in a great mood? Today I get to train with both Roy and Dick.”

There’s the sound of laughter from behind her, and Lian spins around to see both Roy and Dick meandering down the stairs into the cave. Dick smiles brightly at her as he makes his way over to Tim, ruffling his hair, before Tim ducks out from underneath the offending hand with a laugh. “Be careful what you wish for, kid.”

Lian grins at their antics before rolling her eyes at Dick’s comment. “Oh please, there’s no way this can be any worse than the gauntlet Grandpa Bruce, Aunt Barbara, and Uncle Tim set up for me last year.”

Roy shakes his head as he tries to ruffle her hair too, but she’s already darting away from the offending hand with a smirk on her face. “Don’t be so sure of that. We can be just as grueling.”

Lian is about to protests, because she’s not entirely sure anyone can be as grueling as her grandpa, aunt, and uncle, but it’s actually Tim who speaks up first. “Need I remind you two of my sixteenth birthday?”

Dick shudders and Roy takes a small step in front of Lian. She’s not entirely sure that she wants to know what Tim’s talking about, and she has the feeling that if she asked about it the good mood would suddenly disappear, so instead she bounces in front of them with an exaggerated huff. “Okay, okay, enough chitchat. Let’s get this show on the road. Who’s doing what first?”

Dick chuckles at her as he gestures for her to follow him. “Well, Purple Arrow, I’m glad that you asked, because we’re starting with the greatest part of training…the trapeze. I think Tim wants to work on your bo staff skills some more, and then Roy is going to do some light sparring with you. He wants to focus on close range defensive techniques with the bow. ”

Lian nods enthusiastically. She’s even more excited for this training session than before, because this is everything that she’s ever wanted and never believed that she could ever have. Both Tim and Roy groan and Tim rolls his eyes, although Lian can tell that Dick’s brother is mostly just bantering for the sake of it.

She’s really enjoying seeing Tim and Dick so at ease with each other, and a part of her wishes that she could see her own Tim this way. She knows he must have been like this with her own Dick back when he was alive. “It’s only the greatest in your mind.”

Dick cackles as he starts climbing to the platform. “Oh, come on, Timmers. You know you enjoy it. Now get your butt up here and be my catcher.”

Tim follows Dick up to the platform with a small grin on his face. “Not as much as I enjoy a computer and a problem to solve.”

Lian watches from the ground as they start an obviously well rehearsed routine. It’s evident from the way that they both just flow from one movement into the next that they have probably done this numerous times. It’s fascinating to watch, and leaves Lian wondering if her Uncle Tim had ever done this routine or something similar with her Uncle Dick. She thinks that he must have, because she recognizes some of the moves her Uncle Tim taught her.

Lian can’t help but notice how relaxed and happy, and yet how focused both Tim and Dick are. She’s left questioning if this is the first time that they’ve done this since whatever fallout had evidently occurred between them. Lian follows their every movement, knowing that she’ll be expected to perform something similar with Dick once he’s finished with Tim. She can tell just from their expressions that Dick is obviously enjoying every flip and tumble far more than Tim is, but she can still see the small upturn of Tim’s lips every time Dick lets out a whoop of delight.

She can clearly see how every catch is strong and firm, in a way that suggests that they’re both familiar and comfortable up on the trapeze and it makes her grin. This is exactly how it should be. She doesn’t need any superpowers to know that simplistic truth.

Lian just wishes there were some way that she could give this to her Uncle Tim, if only for a day. She’s not sure if her Uncle Tim would necessarily have the same expression as this Tim. After all, her Tim is a bit older than this one, and a lot more melancholy around the entire subject of Dick Grayson…not that she can really blame him for that.

Dick and Tim finish their routine, both smiling brightly and laughing. “Alright, Purple Arrow, let’s see what you can do.”

Lian races up to the platform, and then takes a deep breath. Her Uncle Tim did actually work with her on the trapeze, but she never really pushed him to teach her the more extravagant moves, since it was noticeably so painful for him. Standing here now, Lian really wishes that she had pushed him, because she desperately wants to feel more comfortable up here than she does. However, she’s sure that if anyone could help her with that it would be a Dick Grayson.

They start off slow, taking it easy. They both spend the first few minutes just getting used to each other. It’s awkward and a little weird at first. After all, while Lian certainly doesn’t expect Dick to drop her or anything, this is the first time that she’s ever done anything like this with anyone other than her Uncle Tim. However, it only takes a few moments before the two of them seem to get a feel for each other, and then she really does feel like she’s flying.

Lian’s face hurts from smiling this wide for this long, but she doesn’t care. Every tumble and catch feels like a victory and a part of her never wants to touch the ground again. She laughs as she lands on the platform across from Dick. “This is amazing!”

Dick laughs outright. “I told you, didn’t I?”

The two of them stay up there for what feels like hours and Lian is almost a little disappointed when it’s time to move on to the next portion of her training session. When Dick meets her on the ground, Lian doesn’t hesitate to hop over towards him. “So, how far do you think we can push my flexibility? I’ve always felt like I could be more flexible.”

Dick gives her a once over, seemingly thinking it over. “Yeah, you probably can push it a bit more. I don’t know by how much, but I’ve got some stretches and exercises you can do to help.”

He immediately starts to show her a few things, and Lian watches every move, carefully memorizing each step. He gestures for her to repeat them, positioning her when she needs it, but overall simply nodding in approval. In some ways, being here with these people and having them train her feels like her first few weeks of training all over again, but, as far as Lian is concerned, that’s only more proof that she needs this…needs them.

After she’s done, and Dick has made sure she has every stretch and move perfect, Tim comes over and taps her on the shoulder. “You ready for some more bo staff training?”

Lian huffs out a breath as she follows him over to the mats. “Shouldn’t I be working with my escrima sticks some more?”

Tim hums in thought as he grabs his bo staff. “You’ve been working with Dick for a week with your escrima sticks. Still, I guess you could use those and get more pointers from Dick. However, I was planning to show you how to perform that move I took you down with last week, but it’s up to you, really.” Tim smirks at her as he spins his bo staff in front of him.

Lian bites her bottom lip as she thinks it over. After all, there is no Dick Grayson back home to give her pointers, but she knows for a fact that the move Tim is referring to is one that her Uncle Tim doesn’t know. “Okay, fine, have it your way. We’ll work with the bo.”

Tim grins as he tosses her a practice bo staff. “Yeah, I thought so. Okay, so remember to plant your feet and keep the staff’s weight balanced the whole time.” He moves into the aforementioned position, and then starts to move slowly in order for her to see every detail of the movement. “You can use your other movements to mask the trajectory of the staff, wait until you have an opening, and then…”

He doesn’t finish speaking as he fakes a kick and spins the staff around his shoulders. Lian ducks underneath the swinging staff, and then leaps away from a jab to her midsection, while simultaneously bringing her own staff in front of her to block the next attack. Unfortunately, the next thing she knows Tim’s got the bottom of his staff wedged between her legs. He pulls the staff towards himself and Lian’s on the ground before she can even hope to get her limbs under control. Tim doesn’t hesitate to knock her staff out of her hands as he stands over her.

Lian huffs out a breath and just lies on the mat for a few moments. She hasn’t hit the mat this quickly since her first few days of training, and she doesn’t miss it. “Okay, okay, I think I get it.”

Tim helps her to her feet, and then hands her the practice staff again. “If you think you’ve got it, then show me.”

She moves instantaneously, knocking his bo staff out of the way with her own. She flips, and spins the bo staff around herself, and then goes for a sweep, but Tim merely back flips away from her. “Hide your movements more. You’re too eager when going for the sweep.”

Lian shakes her head as if to clear it, and then focuses more intently on being flashier and less obvious. After all, that’s the entire point of the move. It’s hard at first, since the entire point of the move goes against the majority of her training. Still, Lian knows that if she adds a bit more flare she can definitely get this. She takes a deep breath, continually spinning the staff the whole time as she goes for a different approach.

Lian decides that the best way to get the drop on a Tim is to be patient, which isn’t exactly her strong suit. She knows that, if he’s anything like her Uncle Tim, then he can outwait her any day, but that’s just the point. He’ll expect her impatience, especially after her previous attempts, so Lian dances around him, jabbing and flipping over him when she can, and feigning sweeps when he obviously anticipates one. It takes time, but it pays off. She can see the moment when he steps away from the feigned sweep instead of blocking it, and then she makes her move.

Lian spins with the staff, making it look as though she’s going to attack high, and then right at the last second she jams the staff down in between Tim’s feet. She pulls the staff towards herself with all of her strength, knocking him down, and before he even hits the mat, Lian is on top of Tim with her bo staff pressed against his throat. “Told ya, I got it.”

Tim laughs as he gets to his feet. “Nice work. Now go drink some water before your spar with Roy.”

She nods, but before she can take more than a step forward Dick grabs them both from behind and drags them into a hug. Tim huffs out a breath as he shakes his head and Lian can’t help but laugh. “That was great, you two, but I’m thinking Timmy owes me a spar.”

Tim rolls his eyes as he nudges Lian. She catches his eyes and knows exactly what he’s planning. She smirks as she inclines her head. “I don’t remember owing you a spar, but, come to think of it, there is something else I do owe you.”

Dick raises an eyebrow and Lian gets ready to move. “Oh, what’s that?”

They both spin and tackle Dick at the same exact time. Lian holds down his arms as Tim starts tickling him. Dick howls in laughter as he squirms. “Hey, hey, that’s my move. No fair!”

Tim merely cackles as he presses his attack. “I’m simply repaying you for that tickle attack two days ago.”

“Man, you do hold grudges.” Dick giggles between every word and Lian can’t help but laugh, too. She catches Roy out of the corner of her eye chortling at their antics.

It’s not long before Dick convinces Tim to let him up, and all four of them decide to take a water break together. Lian doesn’t remember ever smiling or laughing this much. She’s almost afraid to go back home, even though she knows that’s where she belongs, because she doesn’t want to give this up. Everything is so much calmer here and a hell of a lot more fun, especially now. Still, the thought of abandoning Grandpa Bruce, Uncle Tim, and Aunt Barbara breaks her heart. She knows that she has to go back…no matter what.

When they finish their water, Lian meets Roy on the mats. They both have their practice bows in hand as they circle around each other. Lian knows that she has to go easy on Roy. After all, he’s only just recovered and she can tell that his wounded chest is still causing him some pain. Still, he seems just as delighted to be sparring with her as she is to be working with him, so she’s not too worried about it. After all, if he wasn’t ready for this, Alfred would already be here stopping him.

Roy tightens his grip on the bow, jabbing it in the air and getting a feel for the practice bow. Lian follows suit. She’s never really been a fan of practice bows…not since she got used to the feel of her own, anyway. “I’m sure you already know a few tricks with the bow for in close fighting, but I haven’t really seen you do too much with it. However, I did noticed that you enjoy going for the legs with the bo staff…well, you can do the same thing with the bow, but you have to angle it correctly, otherwise you’ll just end up snapping the bow and doing more harm to yourself than your opponent. Still, if you get it right, it’s a pretty useful trick, so I’m gonna show you two ways to knock your opponent down with it.”

Instead of just simply attacking her, the way Tim did, Roy makes a show of slowly swinging the bow around towards her knees. He taps her with the bow gently a few times in a very specific spot. “You feel that?” At her nod, Roy continues. “That’s the sweet spot. You hit right here with the thickest part of the bow, with just the right amount of force, and your opponent will crumble. It’ll take some practice to be able to hit it precisely, but once you have it down, it’ll never fail you…no matter how big your opponent is.”

Lian wonders if Roy’s way of teaching is so different from Tim’s because of his recent injury or if this is just how he always intended to train his daughter. The thought both stings and warms her heart all at the same time. She can only imagine what training with her own father would have been like, but she thinks it definitely would have been something like this. After all, Lian can still remember the way he would gently correct her misuse of words or misspellings when she was making cards for all of her aunts and uncles. Simply having a Roy in front of her, gently leading her through training, makes her miss her father so much -- but her morose state doesn’t last long as she refocuses on her training.

Lian watches him go through the movement a few more times, and then she does a few practice motions of her own. Roy adjusts the placement of her hands as well as where the bow connects a few times, but overall he seems pleased with how quickly she picks it up. His proud little smile helps her push everything else away as she tries to just enjoy training with him. “Okay, now we need to work on the force. Remember if you use too little, nothing will happen, but if you use too much with the wrong hand placement, you’ll splinter the bow.”

Lian doesn’t mention how many times she’s done exactly that when throwing a bow at an opponent. After all, it’s one of the moves that her Uncle Tim hates her using the most. Still, sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. However, that doesn’t mean that she wants to splinter her bow on the first try, so she practices the move a few times gradually building up to the necessary force she needs to bring Roy down. After a handful of tries, Lian finds the perfect amount of force to knock Roy’s knees out from underneath him, but she can’t imagine that letting him hit the mat will feel too great so soon after being stabbed, so she plants herself behind him to take his full weight.

He steadies himself before shaking his head at her. “I appreciate the effort, kiddo, but I’m fine. There really is no need to worry, and I can handle eating the mat or we wouldn’t be doing this right now.”

Lian gives him a once over, not entirely sure that she should believe him. After all, if previous experience is anything to go on, she’s well aware that Arrows are just as adept at downplaying injuries as Bats. “There’s no reason for you to strain yourself just to prove a point.”

He rolls his eyes, but doesn’t seem like he’s willing to argue with her too much about it, which means he’s probably in more pain than he’s letting on. “Fine, tell you what, if it makes you feel better Dick can stand in for me, and I’ll just instruct you.”

Lian beams at the prospect of getting to knock down Dick with her bow. “I think it’s for the best, really.”

“Don’t I get a say in this?” Dick groans, but he doesn’t hesitate to take Roy’s place on the mat.

Lian snickers as she immediately successfully repeats the move on Dick. “Oh, come on, it’s all part of the fun.”

Dick huffs out a breath as he gets to his feet again. “For you maybe.”

Lian smirks as she does it again. “Always.”

Lian catches both Tim and Roy chuckling at them from where they’re both standing on the side of the mat. She really doesn’t think today could get any better. The joy radiating off of everyone is so rare and wonderful that a part of her honestly wishes that it’d never end, which, of course, means it doesn’t last for long at all.

In fact, right as Lian pulls Dick back up onto his feet for another round, a sudden flash of eerily familiar green light nearly blinds her from over Dick’s shoulder. Before any of them have time to react, Lian hears the distinct sound of a compact bo staff extending, and the next thing she knows Dick’s pinned by an extremely familiar set of black ganutlet clad hands wrapped around a gun metal grey staff. Lian is so shocked that all she can do is watch as Dick grabs the bo staff and flips over his opponent, reversing the hold.

Dick stares in wonder at the mildly shorter Batman he has pinned against his chest. He glances over at Lian, clearly questioning if this is the Tim from her world, but she still hasn’t found her voice. Stunned and unsure of why her Uncle Tim attacked first, Lian just nods. This is honestly the last thing that she was expecting today. “Aww, look Timmy, you do get marginally taller…maybe…different worlds and all of that.”

Even with the cowl on, Lian can see the moment her Uncle Tim recognizes that particular voice and it’s utterly heartbreaking to watch. She can tell that his eyes widen in shock and he looks like he’s struggling to stay calm while he’s in such close proximity to a Dick Grayson. She can’t tell if her Uncle Tim wants to hug this Dick or get as far away from him as possible.

Dick, for his part, doesn’t seem to notice how badly his presence is affecting her Uncle Tim. Suddenly, Lian can no longer just stand by and watch her Uncle Tim’s internal struggle. She gestures for Dick to let him go, and then Lian practically jumps on top of her Uncle Tim, hugging him with all of the force that she can muster. “I’ve missed you so much.”

Uncle Tim hugs her back just as fiercely. “I’ve missed you too. We…we thought we lost you.”

Lian can’t stop the tears forming in her eyes as she buries her face in his shoulder. She can’t imagine what that must have been like for all of them. From the moment that weird spiraling green light hit her and sent her here, Lian just assumed her Uncle Tim, Grandpa Bruce, and Aunt Barbara would think that she went missing. She never anticipated that they would think she was dead. “Never! I’ll always find my way home.”

Uncle Tim tightens the embrace, and Lian does her best to keep the tears from falling. She didn’t even realize how much she missed him until she saw him again. “You better. I don’t think we could take losing anyone else.”

Lian doesn’t know what to say to that, because she knows that they can’t, and she doesn’t think that she could handle it either. She takes a second to push back the tears, and then she pushes away from the hug. “How did you find me?”

Uncle Tim holds up a bizarre looking device, slightly smaller than the palm of his hand. “We’ve been having strange anomalies all over the city for some time now. Apparently, Demetrius was using a similar device to this to have a bit of fun by sending random victims to various worlds. In most cases, he brought his victims back shortly after relocating them, but he lost the device for some time after sending you here and once he retrieved the device he forgot that he had ‘misplaced’ you, as he put it. Harley and her Checkered Dolls should have also arrived in this world at some point, though I’ve been unable to track her.”

Lian waves away her Uncle Tim’s obvious concern over Harley and her Checkered Dolls. “Don’t worry about them. We took care of them, and the JLA of this world has them locked up tight.”

Uncle Tim raises an eyebrow at her as he finally collapses his bo staff and tucks it away. She can see him taking in this cave…much the same way that she did when she first arrived here. “We?”

Before Lian can respond, Dick has his arm draped over her Uncle Tim’s shoulders. “Yeah, Timmy. I like the use of Nightwing blue for your bat symbol. It’s a very nice touch.”

Lian does her best not to cringe as she watches her Uncle Tim stiffen under Dick’s arm. She doesn’t think she’s ever seen her Uncle Tim this uncomfortable before. She’s seen enough of this Tim’s and Dick’s interactions to know that Dick is used to a Tim who seemingly doesn’t know how to accept physical contact well, so he probably doesn’t notice her Uncle Tim’s inner anguish. “Um, Dick, perhaps you should give Uncle Tim some breathing room.” She gestures to her uncle, and Dick seems to finally put two and two together.

Dick immediately steps away from her Uncle Tim and moves over to where Roy and his Tim are standing. “Oh, I’m sorry, Timmy. I’ve gotten so used to Lian being here I kinda forgot how jarring this whole experience can be.

Uncle Tim takes a deep breath and visibly steels himself, pushing down all of his pain and longing. “It’s fine.”

Lian really doesn’t think that it is, but she’s happy that he’s trying, though she’s not delusional. She knows a large portion of the reason he’s trying so hard is because he doesn’t want to break down in front of her. She sighs as shakes her head and wonders when he’ll ever learn. Lian takes his hand and squeezes it. “So, I’m done waiting to ask. How are Aunt Barbara and Grandpa Bruce?”

Uncle Tim gives her a very pointed look. “They’ll be better once you’re home.”

Lian sheepishly glances down at the ground. She doesn’t really want to voice what’s going on inside her head, but at the same rate, she feels like she has to. “Yeah, about that…”

Uncle Tim glares as he folds his arms over his chest. “What about it?”

She huffs out a sigh at his suspicious tone. Lian knows that he’s probably feeling all of the things that she felt when she first arrived here, but she really doesn’t think that this warrants that particular glare. “Look, just here me out, okay?”

Uncle Tim nods tensely, but his glare lessens slightly, so she’ll take it. “I’m listening.”

Lian takes a deep breath as she clenches her fists and prepares for the worst. “You have that device, and since you haven’t just grabbed me and shoved me through another swirling vortex, or even insisted that we should hurry along, I’m guessing we’re not exactly on a time limit here.”

At her Uncle Tim’s nod, she continues. “I’m sure you’ve noticed that this cave has a lot more people in it than our own back home, and this isn’t even all of them. Bruce, Dick, Tim, and Roy have been training me, and I’ve learned so much since I’ve been here, and I really think I’ve got a lot more to learn. In fact, I think that we both do.”

Her Uncle Tim raises an eyebrow at her once more, but he doesn’t interrupt. “I...I think we should stay.” She watches his eyes widen and the look of sheer panic that creeps onto his face has her immediately flailing her arms in an attempt to abate his panic attack. “Not indefinitely, of course. I can’t even tell you how much I miss Grandpa Bruce and Aunt Barbara,  but the people here are different from us…they have so much more knowledge than us, and there are so many of them. They can help us…train us, Uncle Tim. There’s so much for both of us to learn. Their Bruce is…well, he’s not like our Bruce. He’s still Batman, and Dick is Nightwing, and apparently their Barbara is closer in age to him, and they’ve got this annoying kid named Damian who’s an amazing fighter, and their Tim is wicked good with a bo staff…even better than you, and their Alfred is alive and amazing, and…”

Her uncle Tim holds up a hand in the air to stop her rambling, and it’s at that moment that Lian realizes everyone else in the room is just sort of silently staring at her in various degrees of astonishment and wonder. “While we may not be on a time limit, per se, I would rather not leave Bruce and Barbara wondering where we are and what’s happened to us for very long. Besides, we need to get Harley and her Checkered Dolls home before they manage to escape.”

Lian folds her arms over her chest and huffs out an annoyed sighed. “Look, I’m not talking about a couple of weeks or anything here. I’m thinking a couple of hours…maybe a day or so tops. I think Grandpa Bruce and Aunt Barbara can handle waiting just a little longer, don’t you? Especially if it means that we go back even better prepared to fight and survive.”

Her Uncle Tim gives her that look, and Lian knows that she’s already won the argument. It takes all of her self-control not to smirk outright. He breathes out a resigned sigh. “I did tell them that I wouldn’t return with you for a couple of days. I suppose it wouldn’t do any harm to stay a little while longer.”

Lian lets out a whoop of delight as she hugs her Uncle Tim. “Thank you! You won’t regret it.”

Her Uncle Tim groans as he rolls his eyes and pinches the bridge of his nose. “I already am. You know, if Bruce finds out that I agreed to this he’s going to be quite perturbed.”

Lian smirks as she playfully pulls down her uncle’s cowl, revealing his shaggy hair. “Aw, come on, Mr. Grumpy Grumps will get over it.”

Uncle Tim huffs out a laugh, which has Lian smiling even more. “Please, that man never gets over anything. It’s his schtick.”

She snorts out a laugh as she starts pulling him over to the mats. “Yeah, yeah, now let me show you this awesome move I just learned today.”

Uncle Tim indulges her and follows her to the mats. Lian catches the rest of the group following her, too, but she doesn’t pay them much attention. She’s been dying to show her Uncle Tim everything that she’s learned since this world’s Tim started training her, and now she finally has her chance.

Lian is still apprehensive about returning to her own world, especially since she feels like she hasn’t learned nearly enough from them yet, but at least she has a few days to grow accustomed to the idea of returning. She just hopes that, in the meantime, her Uncle Tim can get past enough of his Dick Grayson issues to actually spend some time with this one. After all, she would love to see this Dick Grayson and her Uncle Tim up on the trapeze.

The End (for now)