Roy: Dinah’s been like a loving Aunt to Roy, she’s helped him through the worst of his times and saw him soaring on a global stage. They’re history is intertwined and connected in a way that her and Ollie never could. While technically, if Ollie ever got the idea to put a ring on it. Dinah would be his mother. But to him? She’d always be the one who gave it to him the hardest. Even during his personal battle with drugs. Even while training him in some basic martial arts, she never pulled her punches. To this day, He can still feel a long healed bruise on his back after she gave him a hard shoulder throw when Roy made a snippy comment.

Roy learned from then on, not to make snippy comments when Dinah was trying to explain something.

It was natural for Roy to dress up and start making a mess of things around Gotham. After all, Ollie did it in Star City, and if it wasn’t for Dinah (or, at least that’s what she says), Ollie wouldn’t have control over the city, or been elected Mayor. So, Archery runs in the family, and now it seemed super-heroing did now too. Currently, Roy had just put Lian down for a nap when he got a call from Dinah. Not even really having a chance to explain what was going on, she started with ‘How are you?’ like a classic light jab from a boxer who was trying to draw off their opponents before landing with a hard right hook, which is ‘What the hell are you thinking?!’

Not in that upset tone, but more of that angry tone.

From there. She demanded he come see her so he could receive the proper training so he doesn’t get himself killed out there. And to stop being a general menace. Like she helped train Ollie. Just because he can shoot really good doesn’t mean he shouldn’t learn how to protect himself.

Oh, also. Bring Lian. Because she misses her little niece.

It was hard to say no to Dinah.

Very. Very hard.

Even if it meant breaking up a lunch date with that cute brunette he met at the coffee shop the other day. Sigh, a bachelor’s life is never quiet.

Dinah told him to meet her at some old building she called ‘The Roost’. What a goofy name, he thought. But, he would show up as ordered when Major General Dinah Lance commanded.

DInah : Even more correctly, I told him to meet me near what looks to be a garbage chute, down one of Gotham’s many dark and seemingly abandoned alleyways. It shouldn’t be taken as a reference to what I think of the guy. Really. Though maybe my tone of voice on the phone might make that a conclusion to be drawn. I didn’t need to ask him what he’d been doing. I know. I’m just surprised he’s doing it here in Gotham. When you’re a costume clad vigilante, you keep your ears open for talk of other ones. Especially right now. I didn’t need to do much looking into a red clad archer. I just had to place a phone call, get all righteous and huffy like I’m not out doing the same thing.

My motivations weren’t really so simple as they might seem on the surface. I think any one of them singly would have been perfectly good, but I’ve bundled them all together to make this work. Roy, or Arsenal as I guess he’s going by, has had some training at my hands before. The fact that he’s alive still says he’s at least made some good use of it. It might also be good to have a sparring partner for the other foundlings that isn’t having to hold back quite so much to avoid permanently maiming them. I can pull my punches, but fighting someone that’s always doing that can make you sloppy. And then there’s Lian.

I’m not really old enough to be anyone‘s aunty, and I don’t have any siblings of my own. That makes me adopted aunt/den mother/harridan/boss to those that I’ve let into my little circle. I’m twenty-three, but I’ve been training since I was in kindergarten and I’ve got more life lessons and hard knocks than most would at fifty. Gotham does that to a person, and maybe that’s a big part of why I’m not best pleased that he’s here with his daughter in the first place. The grate to the chute slides aside and I step out, not in the full Canary Regalia but that’s mostly because everyone who’s allowed in here so far already knows who I am.

“I feel like hugging, punching, and lecturing. Hugs are for the baby. Why on Earth are you in Gotham, Roy?”

The nice to see you is implied by my not actually opening with punching him.

Roy: Pulling Lian off his back, Roy hands the squirming toddler over to Dinah who excitedly shouts “DiDi! DiDi!” when Dinah takes her, the toddler would hug her tightly, driving her face into Dinah’s neck. It’d been nearly a year and a half since they last saw each other. “It was either here, or Bludhaven. It’s all I can afford. did you know being an Gold Medalist Olympic Archer doesn’t get you paid all that well?” asking with a small grin. Roy had found a job as an archery instructor at the YMCA near downtown.

Least to say, it didn’t pay much and Roy didn’t really have the skills for anything else. And the next tournament wasn’t until next year. But, then there was Lian who made it difficult to travel. Not that he didn’t want her, or didn’t love her. It was hard trying to schedule your life with a toddler. Roy was doing the best he could though. “And I know Ollie would be more than happy to let me live with him. But, ah. I don’t know.” rubbing the back of his neck as they step into the Roost.

“I don’t want to feel like a charity case. And I don’t want to feel like I’m mooching. I’d rather… I don’t know. Make my own way. You know?” asking as he glanced to her. Giving a shrug, he tugs off the backpack that held Lian. “Anyway.” wanting to change the subject. “What are you doing here, Dinah? Secret Hideouts down dark and seedy allyways. I know it’s your old stomping grounds, but Ollie said that you just kinda left and no date on returning.” gesturing around.

“I’m pretty sure this is more than getting together with your girlfriends and going to a high school reunion.”

Dinah: I’m all but making grabby hands at the child, and once I’ve got her in my arms there’s some decidedly non-badass cooing going on as I snuggle her close. I don’t want kids of my own. That would imply relationships and settling down (well, maybe not. See Exhibit Roy.), but most of all some kind of stability. I’ve lost too many people to want to bring a kid into my life. This life. Doesn’t mean I don’t turn into a big wibbly pile of jello when one’s concerned though.

“Well hey pidgeon, Aunt Dinah missed you!”

I’m wrapped up in making silly sounds and faces, but it doesn’t stop me from stepping back into the chute and starting walking. I don’t wave him in, I’d hope the ‘follow me’ would be implied while I take off with his child into the dark tunnel that’s barely wide enough to admit a motorcycle and doesn’t exactly allow for shoulder to shoulder walking. I need to be in the lead anyway.

“It only gets you paid if you’re still doing it, and people want to associate themselves with your name. And your behavior. You could always work at my bar…”

Which is only a couple blocks from the tunnel we’re going through now. Convenient coincidence? I’m not so sure about that, though it would depend when Red Robin had started constructing this thing I suppose. I’d been out of Gotham for years, and I’m not sure keeping an eye on my property was a compelling reason. It was a much faster location to get to the heart of things than the Batcave though. Of course, were Roy to be working at Pretty Bird’s, that would mean he wasn’t out on the street being a vigilante. Maybe not the worst idea, actually. Except that I know better than to try and stop someone with that particular itch. It’s why I don’t work there most of the time either. I just own the place, live above it, and drink the liquor when my straight laced current roommate doesn’t dump it out for me.

“He could probably use the company, but I know what you mean.”

Which is why I’d never even let him finish making the offer when I was in Star. And we were…whatever it was we were. Eventually, the chute opens up into something that doesn’t belong in this part of Gotham. A sub-basement, which wouldn’t be all that strange, but the technology in play is clear. Monitors and computers, a very obvious training area, but there’s costumes lining the wall. Some missing out of cases where there clearly should have been others. Part Batcave (with less memories), part R&D for its owner. Which isn’t me, I just benefit from my partner’s goodies.

“They needed me. So I came back.”

The shrug is telling, as I drop down into a partially pulled out chair that I’d been using when I saw his approach on the monitors, swiveling and pulling another round of silly faces at the toddler I’m bouncing on my knees.

“This is home. I just had to leave before. But yeah, no. No high school reunion. More like Batfamily Business.”

Not that that part should be hard to figure out, since there’s suits that look like Nightwings, Robin’s, and a few others. There was one for me at one point, but it’s currently at home.

Roy: It was obvious that Dinah thought the world of Lian, and vice versa. There’s a low whistle though as he enters the sub-basement. “Nice digs and I don’t know if working in a bar would be the greatest idea.” grinning as she sits in her chair, Lian happily giggling as Dinah bounces her on her knee. Roy avoids her mentioning that he gets paid if he does it, and if people want to see him do it. Or, attach his name to products. “Batfamily business, huh?” asking as he walked around, sliding the backpack off and setting it down next to one of the terminals.

“So, Who’s your partner?”

Roy knew she didn’t have the capital for this. “It’s almost like Ollie’s Arrowcave.” God, what a stupid name. Obviously Ollie didn’t have the imagination for something more creative. Which led to some incessant teasing from Roy and Dinah over the years. “You should call him, at least. Give him a hard time. I’m sure he misses that.” smirking over his shoulder at her as she continues giving Lian all the attention the little girl wants. Roy continues walking around, examining everything “I’ve seen some of these before.” pointing out Nightwing’s and Robin’s costumes. “Where’s yours?” asking as he notices one that’s empty, his thumb pointing to it as he looked back over his shoulder at her in question. “Wait, You and this partner aren’t…?” gesturing, not really saying. Would that be why her costume wasn’t here? She had a walk of shame to this place?

Shaking his head, he pushes a hand through his short hair and turned to face her. “So, what do you want me to do?” asking. Roy didn’t really know much about her past in Gotham, it wasn’t something she spoke about often, and he never really prodded much into it. “Other than for you two to get some serious cuddling time in.” grinning at the two. “You know, if you ever want to babysit….” trailing off. “My last babysitter had to cut me loose. Apparently showing up with a black eye and a few cuts is out of her pay grade.” shrugging.

Boy, he could use a place like this to test and play with arrow ideas. Right now, all his R&D is taken on the streets with poor bad guys who have no idea what’s in store for them. A closet was hardly an adequate place to test arrows. None-the-less make them.

Dinah : “…God, what a stupid name.”

It’s almost like I’ve said those words more than a dozen times before. Usually it was to Oliver Queen’s face, though. Right now, I have to settle for muttering it under my breath, before I go back to tickling Lian anytime she looks like she might be about to go wandering off my knees and go get into something. Because there’s definitely things to be gotten into down here that I don’t want her to get into. And that’s only counting the things that I know are present. I’m sure there’s traps and alarms, and I don’t like computers enough to even have a clue how to turn one off even if it started.

“Everyone loves it when I give them a hard time. That’s why everyone loves me. Maybe I will. And maaaaaybe I won’t.”

The last part comes out far sillier than it ought to have, owing to it being another moment I’ve taken to falling into a sing song-y voice, mid playing peekaboo with his daughter. Who’s going to judge me, Roy? He’s a big softy for her as well, and I can hit harder than he can hit me. But as far as the phone calls go, it’s probably closer to the ‘maybe I won’t.’ No slight to Oliver Queen. His heart’s in the right place, and that place is Star City. While mine is here and nowhere all at the same time. When I’d left Gotham, I guess I’d become far more ‘no strings’ than I’d ever been here, because all of mine were cut. At least, until the moment my called idea had popped up Helena Bertinelli.

“Red Robin. The partner. This is his, I get to benefit. Well. Not that. That’s for Nightwing. One of the Robinses… don’t ask which, even I can’t keep them straight sometimes.”

The look Roy gets is withering, as I cluck my tongue. As if I ever walk anywhere with any degree of shame. You have to be embarrassed in order to feel shame and I can’t say that’s an emotion that I’ve experienced in a long time.

“Cute. Mine’s at my apartment. I prefer to operate out of there, it’s usually where I park my bike. What do I want you to do?”

What kind of question is that? Like right now? What I’d really wanted him here for is going to be more difficult with Lian present, so maybe it’ll be more warning or what’s coming than anything else.

“Practice. Don’t give me that look. If you’re getting beat on half as much as I hear that Arsenal has been lately? Then it means you’re getting sloppy and need more work. I’ve got a kid that I’m training besides, and she’s even greener than Ollie, so sometimes you’ll work together, sometimes it’ll be more one on one. We’ve kind of got a code here in the Roost about not letting people get themselves dead. Especially not people with adorable, helpless baby girls who need their Dads. Questionable as said Dad’s character and judgement might be at times..”

Said with all fondness. No really.

“I’d love to sometimes. Mostly during the day when I’m not sleeping off… you know. This. But I can put you in touch with good folks that I trust, that would probably be happy to do it.”

Ted Grant. Babysitter to the..yeah, no I’m joking. I do know people that don’t beat others for a living.

Roy: “What is it with you super heroes and color names? Red Robin? Black Canary? Green Arrow? Also. Naming yourself after a burger chain in the Northwest isn’t any better than the Arrowcave. Is he endorsed by them? Or does he fight crime in a giant red bird costume?” Wouldn’t that be fantastic to see? Roy grinned as he listens to her. “And, not getting sloppy, just not fighting smart. It’s more than being able to throw a punch.” at least he did listen to her at some point. “Besides. I think I’m doing a good job.” to which he really shouldn’t be proud of. Using his body as a punching bag for bad guys wasn’t the way to go, obviously.

“You’re training someone new? Greener than Ollie? Wow. Impressive. Who is it? Do I know them?” asking, being a little nosy. “So. This Red Robin must be loaded if he can do this.” gesturing “Is this you inviting me to come here and do my training and making of things? Don’t suppose this Red Robin can put in a playpen so Lian can’t get into anything while we’re busy getting our collective asses handed to you in spar sessions?” asking, because…well, it was true. He’s seen some of the spar sessions between her and Ollie, and while Ollie wasn’t exactly a push over… Dinah was Bruce Lee, Rocky, Jason Statham, and Jet Li all rolled into one beautiful blonde woman.

“Wait. Who’s been telling you that I’ve been getting beat on. I’ve only…” pausing, he thinks about it for a minute. “You’re training that girl. Uh, Spoiler. Right?” If Stephanie was here, he’d ‘forget’ her name again. Which probably would earn him a punch. But it’d be totally worth it. “She’s good. Just don’t give her a body suit and fishnets.” grinning as he walks out to the mat and starts stretching like he would for his archery routine. Roy’s never met Ted Grant, he’s heard stories about him from Ollie and Dinah. The man was a legend. He’d be the best qualified baby sitter on this planet.

“So, what am I practicing today? How if I can dodge a wrench, I can dodge a ball?”

Dinah: “Says the guy that used to call himself Red Arrow. Some people like the literal. I inherited mine. You’re also not the first person to make that joke.”

I mean, I may have a time or two. I haven’t heard it out of Spoiler’s mouth yet but boy… you can practically hear the yuuuuuuuuuum broadcasted out of her blonde head anytime one of us uses Tim’s full codename. Or in her case, the only name she knows to call him by. The look of mild displeasure on my face isn’t for the joking, I mean. In this place you gotta be able to banter or at least make the effort or it gets awful gloomy and serious. I just wouldn’t call what he’s been doing a ‘good job.’ I’ve actually been watching, though I’m not going to tell him that. Red Robin’s drones are good for more than being annoying with after all. Plus they led to him saving my ass once. I might not be a fan of tech anything, but those I can accept.

“Girl who calls herself Spoiler. Way too much purple. No color naming convention, not sure if that means she’s doomed or there’s some hope for her yet. She’s rough, but I think I can beat something out of her. And no, she hasn’t been tattling on you. Hasn’t mentioned you at all. Ouch, Roy. Either you didn’t leave much an impression or she was too busy trying to catch her breath. The nets are my shtick, I don’t intend to share. Besides, she clearly likes her cover everything that can possibly be covered routine. Maybe she’s a green skinned alien under all that.”

He’s trained with me before. He knows fully well that means sometimes a literal beating. Motivation in the purest physical form. Chuckling, as I nuzzle my nose against the toddlers, the gesture doubles as shaking my head.

“I kind of doubt it. We’ll see. You’re going to have to find a permanent solution anyway, Roy. Who’s watching her while you’re out using your body for a mobster’s punching bag? Who’s going to watch her if you don’t come back?”

I don’t approve. Clearly. If I knew Lian was here in Gotham with him? I would probably have descended on him a whole lot more decisively than an accusatory phone call. I recognize the irony in busting someone’s chops for doing the exact same thing I’m doing. The difference is I don’t have any family. None that aren’t also in the same line of work, anyway.

“Today you get a stay of execution, on account of adorable snuggly baby. Or I’d be showing you all the ways I’ve seen you be sloppy, and making you remember them with a new bruise for each. Basics, Roy. Form. Footwork drills.”

Roy: “Ouch. Way to cut to the soul, by the way. Green skinned alien? Wouldn’t surprise me.” grinning “She’s cute though. Smart. I think once she passes your training course, and gets some mileage. She’s going to be a force to reckon with.”

Roy knew the perils of the life of a superhero. He knew full well what it was. “You don’t think I haven’t thought about that, Dinah?” asking “What happens to Lian if something happens to me?” glancing down “I want to make this place a better place for her. And there’s only one way I know how. I realize that I’ve been sloppy, and I’m kind of glad you called. I want to learn how to become better. I want Lian to be with you more. To be around this family we’ve built.” not just her and Dinah, but the super hero family.

“I’ve … drawn up a living will, so that if something happens to me. Lian goes to you, or Ollie. I know it’s not the right thing to do, but I don’t exactly have any relatives that I know. You and Ollie are the closest that I have to a brother or sister.” shrugging, not to burden her. But it was the truth. “And I’d rather not have Cheshire have her. I’m pretty sure she’d approve.” he didn’t like thinking about it. “But, at the end of the day. I’m doing all this for her. So that she can live in a world in peace, hopefully.”

Smiling as he watched his daughter. Roy was too young to have children when Lian came into his life. And he couldn’t imagine his life without her. Slowly, he lowers himself down to the mat. “Snuggle away on her. She adores you. I’m glad we’re together again, Dinah. I think Lian needs a good female role model that’s not a fourteen year old baby sitter.” grinning “Maybe when she gets older, I can push the birds and the bees talk off onto you.”

Dinah: “What can I say? Half measures just aren’t my thing.”

In anything. Good or bad. It’s a problem, or an asset depending upon the situation and your viewpoint on it I guess. It also had made me more than a little bit of a terror between the ages of twelve and eighteen. The vigilantes of Star City were actually probably pretty fortunate that they hadn’t gotten to meet me until I’d mostly settled down. Which. You know. Is what that looks like right here. Squeezing Lian close lets me look over the top of her head to shoot Roy something of a deathglare that says, after he points out Spoiler’s ‘cute’, if he knocks up another girl let alone one that I’m working with? Lord help him, but that won’t be enough to save his ass.

“She hasn’t taken her mask off. Could still be a green alien with some makeup on. Also way too young for you, buster.”

He probably doesn’t have any reason to know that, though. Unless she’s been far more giving of personal details with Roy than she has been with us here. Which I doubt. Even in the ‘safety’ of the Roost she’d kept full gear on, even once Red Robin had made it very clear that he knew who she was under it. I wasn’t going to make her take it off, either. You don’t do that to someone who’s not ready for it. Designating me for looking after his child though? I’m flattered he trusts me enough, though I’m not entirely sure I’m the best candidate. That said.. given my own history which he has no way of really knowing, I don’t think I could ever, ever allow a child to go to a family that didn’t love them.

“…I think we need to go over some textbook definitions of ‘good’ and ‘role model.’ But if she needs to be taught how to kick a boy’s ass? I’m your lady.”