Tempest: Chapter Ninety-Two: Unwanted Visitor
AN: Kalamy gives me life and they could've had it all, but that'll be an au for another time :) And Ollie is a great dad/uncle that doesn't think he is :(
Amara had snuck off; it was unbelievably easy to do at Queen Manor…if you'd done it before and had no problems with heights. Amara wasn't as acrobatically minded as Dick was, but she did have a certain amount of skill in the area, so sliding her window open and walking across the ledge outside to the end of the wall and then flipping onto the ground wasn't that difficult for her to do.
Though, Roy would've definitely done it faster, Roy had done it faster, but Amara was more careful these days and she wasn't as used to sneaking out as he was.
Ducking into the garage to use the powered down zeta-tube to get to the Watchtower took far more effort.
She didn't even know what she was doing until she was standing before Conner's pod, looking at his pale face.
Amara heaved a heavy sigh pressing a hand to the glass. "If you hadn't come to the house, we wouldn't even be in this situation," she grumbled before conceding, "okay, I might've been dead and you'd probably say it was worth it in the end, because you being there saved me, but…" Her eyes burned and her lower lip trembled. She pressed a hand over her eyes. "I'll make it up to you when you get out of there, I promise, I don't care if I'm some retired twenty-something or thirty-something but I'm gonna make it up to you."
As expected, Conner said nothing to that declaration and Amara sighed again, leaning against the back wall and sliding down, holding her knees to her chest.
She must've been there for a long time, because her butt was starting to lose feeling and soft footsteps approached her side.
"Ollie called looking for you," Clark said lightly, "apparently he thought you'd run away one day into wanting to stay with him…evidently you're worse than Roy was your age."
Amara cracked a faint smile at that. Clark sat down beside her.
He didn't say anything else, so it was up to Amara to break the silence.
"You didn't like him at first," she said, her voice echoing, looking to the side to see the tightness in his jaw and around his eyes. Wolf, who had spent the last few days whining and lying around Conner's pod, trailed forward to rest his head in Clark's lap, likely because he was so like Conner in appearance; Amara was slightly miffed about that. "Why not?"
"Its…complicated," Clark said carefully, petting Wolf's head.
"Uncomplicate it," Amara said flatly.
Clark frowned, trying to form the words, but it took some work. "Lois and I had just gotten married," he explained, "we'd had the talk about children and how we wanted to wait a few years…and then I go to Cadmus and there's this teenager grown by Cadmus claiming to be the Superboy…it was hard for me to deal with, especially since my DNA had been taken without my permission to make him."
Amara could understand that side of things, but she remembered how many times Conner had tried to initiate a conversation with Clark only to be shunned. "It wasn't his fault," the words came out thickly, "we didn't ask to be made."
"I know," Clark said softly, "it just took me a long time to realize that…too long."
Amara could feel the tears coming. "We didn't ask to be made," she repeated, "we didn't deserve any of this." And then she burst into gut-wrenching tears.
At that, a zeta-tube fired up and she could faintly hear the sound of laughter only to be stalled by the faint hum of a low voice, but Amara didn't give it much thought as she bawled into her hands, Clark rubbing her shoulders and murmuring softly.
Then there was the sound of rushing wind and Amara could barely see through her hands to make out her father in his cowl, gaping at Conner in the pod and then at his distraught daughter.
"Um," he said weakly, "I guess I missed a lot while I was off-world."
"Daddy!" Amara clamored to her feet to throw her arms around her father's waist, sobbing into his chest while he wrapped his arms around her shoulders, bending his head forward to kiss the top of her head and rub soothing circles into her shoulders, which didn't really stop her tears.
"What happened?" he demanded of Clark, who grimaced, bringing himself up to a standing position. Barry was well-known for being agreeable and having a level head…that was thrown out the window wherever his family was involved and being faced with his sobbing nearly-fourteen-year-old daughter upon his return home probably wasn't helping things.
"I believe it started a few months ago when Zatanna performed a ritual to gain power from a god…from what Zatara said, she got the wrong god—"
"Zatara's back?" Barry asked in surprise.
"No, it was just a temporary thing," Clark was quick to clarify, "the point was, she wound up with a god of chaos instead…I guess Amy figured out something was wrong and it attacked her in Zatanna's body, injected her with a neurotoxin to render her immobile."
Barry's mouth tightened as he took note of the bandage around Amara's throat.
"I guess Conner was coming by to drop something of hers off at Poison Ivy's place and saw what was happening and tried to stop it…it nearly killed him for his trouble." He couldn't see Barry's eyes behind the white film that covered them, but he could see how his head turned towards Conner. "It looks like it was trying to sacrifice them to gain a corporeal form…Amy called us just in time."
Barry frowned, kissing Amara's head again. "What about Zatanna?"
"In Atlantis, her father's idea," Clark explained when Barry tilted his head in bemusement. "She'll be under the watch of Queen Mera as she continues to study magic, this time with a proper instructor…Amy's been staying with Ollie since it happened…its only been a few days, though."
Barry nodded his thanks before leaning down to hoist his child easily into his arms. "All right, sweetheart, I think you need a break, okay? I'm going to take you back to Ollie's so that you can get some rest."
She just blubbered into his shoulder, clinging to his neck tightly as he sped off to the zeta-tube, which didn't even come close to speaking his authorization code before he was gone.
"Poor kid," Clark sighed, reaching down to pet Wolf again.
Amara awoke later to see the sun had descended below the clouds, casting a low orange glow across the horizon and she sat up quickly, blinking as she realized that she was back in her bed in Queen Manor. She rubbed at her eyes, already raw from crying before pulling herself out of bed to open the door and creep down the stairs.
"—yeah but I didn't think I'd have to worry about something like this with my kid," came her father's voice with a sigh and Amara paused.
"She's having a rough go of it," Ollie admitted. "I think…too much happened at the same time…Amy and Zatanna were already falling apart, if Artemis is to be believed."
"They always seemed happy when I saw them together." She could practically see him shaking his head. "I miss too much."
"Don't be ridiculous," Ollie disagreed. "This was her first relationship, she wanted it to work to the point that she'd explain things away that made her uncomfortable…there's a bit of that on both sides, apparently."
"What're you talking about?"
"Zatanna found out that Amy can use pheromones and told Artemis a few weeks ago that she wasn't sure if she actually liked Amy or if that was her pheromones talking."
Amara's breath hissed out of her lungs and she couldn't catch it again. She walked silently away, still struggling to breathe, pulling out her phone once she'd swallowed a few lungfuls.
"Can I ask you something?" she asked when the other line picked up.
Her breathing eased. It was so much easier to talk to Dick. "You've known about my pheromones as long as Wally and Roy…did you ever think that I used them to make you like me?"
There something like coughing on the other end and she could just imagine the dubious expression, his sunglasses slipping down his nose to reveal his startled eyes. "What, and I can't emphasize this enough, the fuck?" Dick demanded.
Amara sighed. "It's just something Zatanna said."
"Well, Zee's fucking wrong, isn't she?" Dick snapped on the other end, surprising Amara by his vehemence. "I mean…that might've been the god talking, but it's still annoying…you might smell like flowers, Amy, but I met you before you even started using your pheromones, remember?"
Amara did remember, her lips curved slightly. He'd been positively tiny, which was ironic, since he was several months older than her, but that hadn't stopped him from wrapping that grappler around her arm and dragging her across the top of a building. Birds really don't mess around.
"You move very well for a bird with no wings," she'd said to him, which had annoyed him and Amara had been all about that at the time.
"Thanks, Richard," she said finally.
"Does…" Amara paused, trying to form the right phrase. "Does it make you uncomfortable that I don't call you Dick?"
"What? No," Dick was quick to assure her, "Richard's not bad…but, you know, it wouldn't be bad if you called me Dick, I just like it better."
"Really?" Dick's voice was surprised on the other end.
"Really," Amara returned faintly amused. "Talk to you later, Dick."
Dick knew his cheeks were red but it wasn't really his fault, it was the way she'd said it. He knew she didn't mean anything by it -come on, it was Amy-, but it still tongue-tied him.
And he really wasn't enjoying the faint amusement in Bruce's eyes.
"Shut up, Bruce," he scowled into his drink.
"At least you've got better taste in women than me," was all he said and Dick pressed his face into the table to hide how red it was.
Whatever Barry was expecting, he'd admit that painting wasn't at the top of his list when he'd found his daughter had abandoned the bed he'd tucked her into several hours before to set up an easel in the gym, splashing paint on a canvas with her hands because, evidently, she hadn't found any paintbrushes and had decided her fingers were good enough.
For a moment, Barry didn't say anything, just watched as she slapped a crimson against the canvas, before patterning fingers of blue almost like flowers. She layered white thickly on a finger -the middle one he was amused to note- before fracturing it across the swirls of colors. It was a bolt of lightning, cracking across the colors. It was easily the most definite image on the canvas, but she had a lot of scars to look off of for that.
There was something almost manic about the way she painted, like when she threw herself into research for Oracle or for any genetics project that was her fancy. Barry frowned thoughtfully. Actually, he hadn't heard her talk about genetics recently and it used to be something she talked about constantly…
He didn't want to mess her up, so he waited until she stepped back slightly before clearing his throat loudly.
Apparently, he overestimated how much a sudden noise would startle her, because she yelped in surprise, falling onto her back and knocking the easel so the canvas teetered dangerously. Barry steadied it quickly before bending to scoop his daughter from the ground and set her back on her feet.
"Thought you didn't like painting or art therapy?" Barry asked with an arched eyebrow. He handed her a wet rag to wipe her hands.
Amara grumbled under her breath. "I lied," she said.
"Yeah, you do that."
Amara tensed her shoulders like she was rearing for a slap and Barry kicked himself.
"I'm sorry," he apologized quickly, "that was harsh and I didn't mean it that way."
She said nothing for a moment, continuing to wipe her hands. "Mardon liked to destroy things I liked," she said finally, "I didn't have the best track record with…people not doing that, so I lied."
Barry's eyes softened and he knelt to give her a hug and Amara wound her arms around him. "It's beautiful," he told her.
"Thanks," Amara said thickly.
"C'mon sweetheart, there's some stuff I want to talk to you about," he hummed, leading her over to a bench that she'd once sprayed Roy with water on after training, laughing as he'd proceeded to chase her around the entire gym before grabbing her and upending his water bottle on her head.
"I'm spoken with all your mothers," he said and Amara stilled, "and we've agreed you can stay with Ollie for the week…but once it's done, you're going back to Pamela's."
"I know you're worried it'll come back, that it'll hurt you or Ariel or Pamela and Harley, but it won't, I promise." He squeezed her hands. "I asked Doctor Fate about it and he assured me that it would take years for Apep to be able to reform enough to possess anyone again."
Amara was sure that the doubt was clear on her face. If there was one thing she was doing, it was not trusting Nabu until she figured out how he and Savage tied together. He knew something, that was for sure, and Amara was determined to find out what it was.
"You'll be safe, I promise," he emphasized.
"Mardon promised that time would be the last time he hit me," Amara said sourly. "Promises break."
Barry looked so pained and he took her hands and squeezed.
"She kept calling him my father," Amara said bitterly. "I thought she'd get a clue but then I didn't want to bring it up so I asked everyone not to mention it, even though Dick said he wouldn't have an issue doing it…but it was like she was saying you weren't my dad, which is ridiculous because you are and you're the best and you're not like Mardon at all and—"
He enveloped her in a hug suddenly and Amara blinked into his shoulder with a bit of confusion, feeling how it shook. "Dad? Are you okay?"
"I love you," he said thickly, "I love you so much, sweetheart."
Amara could feel her eyes welling up. "Even when I don't stay out of trouble?"
"Even when I accidentally fake my death?"
"Even when I end up stuck in a wheelchair?" Her heart was racing in her chest, knowing that it was very possible that that was the eventual reality for her.
She thought of Conner barely breathing under her, his blood soaking her clothes. "Even when I'm the reason people end up in comas for years?"
She could feel how Barry sighed. "Oh, sweetheart, that's not your fault, that's Apep's doing…I know its easier to blame yourself, but it's not your fault."
They parted and now Amara was the one that was shaking, tears flowing down her cheeks.
"But -but it feels -feels like—" She hiccupped and faded into sobs again and one day soon she was going to straight up run out of tears. "I couldn't save Conner! I-I couldn't help Roy! I can't even be a good sidekick to Black Canary!"
"What?" Barry was thrown off. "Amy, sweetheart, no one's saying any of that! Why would you think that?"
"Everything's falling apart," Amara sobbed into her hands. "We-we did so much good as the Team, you know? And now this!" She sniffled loudly. "M'gann's leaving the country and the rest of us are going back to what we were doing before like nothing happened! Like Conner—" She choked on her words.
Barry tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear. "Sweetheart, of course the Team mattered and it does make sense to split up for a little while when something…when something like this happens. It doesn't mean that Conner didn't manner, it just means you all need a break to deal with what happened…we've all lost people before."
Amara remembered the story about the Elongated Man, Ralph Dibny, and his wife Sue. Their deaths had shattered Barry and Iris had talked about how Barry had stopped being the Flash for exactly three months during that time. She didn't know the exact details about it, but apparently the Atom's ex-wife was the one that caused Sue's death, which explained why the Atom was always a little awkward around her and Barry.
"He-he—" Amara voice caught in her throat. "Conner was the most like me."
Barry's eyes were painfully soft. "I know."
He hugged her again, tight. "One more thing, we want you to go back to seeing Dinah."
"I'm fine," Amara said quickly, "I can handle this."
"Amy, sweetheart." Her father took her hands. "All the Team is going to be seeing Dinah for the near future. Orders from above."
"Batman," Amara surmised with a sigh, surprising Barry by not being irritated when she said the name…a lot of things had changed since he'd been off-world. "Fine."
"Fine?" Barry was surprised by the sudden acquiescence.
Amara shrugged. "Maybe Dick's dad isn't as bad as I thought he was."
Barry snorted. "Are you calling him Dick now?"
She shrugged again. "He said he didn't mind Richard but Dick's what he prefers…I didn't want him to feel uncomfortable because of what I was calling him."
He squeezed her hand. Of course, she'd worry about that…he knew Zatanna wasn't to blame, but he couldn't help the vein of annoyance towards his daughter's new ex-girlfriend.
"Is this how it felt when you and Cold broke up?" Amara asked, resting her head on his shoulder.
Barry had a brief coughing fit at the mention of his ex, which was immensely amusing, or it would've been if the atmosphere wasn't so bleak. "Well, uh, I guess there're some similarities," he admitted awkwardly. It was kinda hard to break up with someone who just vanished from your life... "But it'll get better. You have friends to depend on, you can all help each other. It'll be rough for a while…I almost want to ask you and Wally to…hang back for awhile."
Amara rolled her eyes. "Good luck trying to convince Wally." He was the one that had engineered an accident to give himself superspeed to be Barry's partner…sometimes Amara could see the scars that spread across his back from it if she walked in on him pulling on a shirt. Barry didn't have scars like those, but Wally had been younger when he'd gotten his speed and his healing factor worked at a slower rate (it was getting fast enough that he didn't really scar at all). "Me…I haven't really been on the roster for months."
Barry knew that with everything that happened, it was a good reason to not get out on the streets, but he also knew that there had been a different reason she'd taken a step back. "You want to tell me why?"
Amara stiffened, uneasiness shifting across her face. She rubbed her thumb across her first finger, a nervous tick that Barry was becoming familiar with. "No," she said finally after a bit of an internal struggle. "Not yet…I'm still trying to figure some stuff out."
"Will you talk to someone about it?" Barry asked cautiously.
Amara thought about it for the longest time. Dinah should've come to her mind first, but she wasn't the one that Amara needed. It was Katya.
Katya with her slate grey hair and stormy blue eyes whose control of the atmosphere was so absolute that she could appear to simply be hovering in the air, not needing to stand on a cloud like Amara always had. She was like if Jade was an atmokinetic mountain-living priestess with slightly less sadism, though not by much, if Amara was being perfectly honest.
She couldn't even tell her friends that she'd lost her powers, but maybe Katya would have a clue why.
Finally, she nodded.
"Will you tell me someday?" Barry asked, somehow knowing he was pressing his luck.
Amara's lips twisted. "Maybe."
Barry would take that. He looked back to the drying painting and the smudges on her hands. "You liked painting before, you said." She nodded. "What made you get back into it?"
Amara interlocked her stained fingers together. "Dick said I should do more things I enjoy." That had been pretty much the gist of it, really.
Barry reached over to ruffled her hair and Amara didn't even complain this time around. "Dick's a smart guy."
"I'm not telling him you said that, it'll give him an ego."
"I'm thinking about dying my hair," Amara added suddenly, the topic change so sudden that Barry got whiplash.
"Uh, okay?" he said.
"Great! Thanks for the permission!"
"Hey, Amy!" Barry sighed in aggravation at his daughter high-tailed away. "You know I can tell when you're avoiding a subject!"
He received no answer to that and all he could do was sigh.
Amara hadn't touched Roy's expandable bow in a while, but now was a good reason to, if only to vent her frustrations.
She was taking too long to aim, her arm trembling with strain, when the air beside her ear whistled and she blinked as a green fettered arrow lodged in the target. Amara relaxed her arm to twist around to see Artemis striding forward with a faint smirk, her bow and arrows in hand.
"I had that," Amara complained.
"You really didn't." Artemis rolled her eyes, watching at Amara shook her head, drawing the arrow back a second time, letting it fly. It was nowhere close to Artemis' at the center of the target. "Did RA teach you to shoot? Or Ollie?"
She figured it was the former. They'd always been so close…Artemis had never really liked him, but she knew it must've felt very out of sync to be without her first partner, the person she regarded as a brother.
"Roy first," Amara admitted, firing another arrow, "then Ollie…aren't you supposed to be at school?" Dick was at school.
Artemis gave an exaggerated cough. "I'm sick," she said, sniggering when Amara snorted. "You're not bad, not like me or Ollie, but, you know, if the need ever arose."
Amara rolled her eyes, stringing another arrow.
"What was it like when you two first met?" Artemis asked curiously, throwing Amara off so much that she completely missed her target.
"I was this ten year old brat that had zero combat experience…he hated me immediately…but he trusted me, and it took a few weeks before he decided he liked me enough to tell me his name."
"And then you were inseparable?" Artemis presumed.
"Well, it helped that I blew up a building to save him after he got kidnapped," Amara shrugged and Artemis stared. She'd never heard that part of the story. "I guess he figured if I was 'ride or die' for him, he better be the same."
They both started at the sound of the front door bell ringing and Artemis followed her out until she pulled the door open to immediately sneer at the person beyond it. "What the hell do you want?"
It was a Japanese woman with straight black hair tied tightly away from her face. She seemed to find Amara's fire amusing. "I'm looking for Oliver Queen."
"I'll bet you are." Amara was absolutely furious. "And his son told me if you ever showed your face to deck you and never let you near my uncle!"
Artemis had seen Amara furious, and her skin was beginning to tinge green in a way that told her she was about two steps short of starting a brawl.
This wasn't going to be pretty.
AN: God, I miss Roy, but its gonna be a very long time before he shows up again. Barry is the best dad :)
As always: Please review!