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There was nothing truly spectacular about Amara Isely, that much she had learned rather early in life, something her father had informed her several times that had come from her mother, her ordinary human mother.

Amara would have honestly preferred to be ordinary, considering what she could do, then, at least she would have had something in common with her deceased mother other than being female and sharing her green eyes.

But none of that mattered now.

Amara was floating in nothingness, and that blissful nothing was the best she'd felt in a long time, and then she had to go and open her eyes.

The light hit her eyes and made her wince them shut, having been more adjusted to the darkness that had been her dream, but her eyes gradually got used to the brightness. She opened them fuller and blinked a few times.

A good portion of her body was covered with bandages, no doubt hiding the burns beneath. They stung, but they were probably already healing. Amara pressed her head farther back into her pillow, the morphine making it difficult to think straight and making it even harder to place the man sitting at her bedside.

Amara narrowed her eyes suspiciously at the man, looking him up and down. His hair was a cropped blonde and his eyes were shut, making him appear to be sleeping, but Amara wasn't sure whether to trust that (she'd lost count how many times she'd tried to sneak past her father when he'd appeared to be sleeping only to receive a sharp jolt for her troubles). His build was slighter than her father's had been and Amara frowned…he seemed familiar, but she couldn't quite place him.

Then, as if sensing her eyes on him, the man stirred and opened his eyes which were a clear crystal blue.

When he saw that she was awake, he spared her a slight smile. "So you're awake? How do you feel?"

"Kid! Get out of the way!"

She blinked blearily, looking him up and down again. "You're more impressive with the mask," she told him blandly and his eyes widened in surprise. "Is that the point?"

Her head was cloudy from the drugs coursing through her and she couldn't quite think straight.

Barry Allen covered up his surprise and gave the girl a slight smile. "What gave me away?"

Amara screwed her face up as she thought hard, her cheeks puffing out. She wished the doctors hadn't pumped her so full of pain medicine, but in the back of her mind she was also grateful that she couldn't feel the sting of the burns.

"The voice," she decided, scrutinizing him intently.

Barry was good at several things, forensic science being a primary example and his super-speed being another, but hiding his secret identity wasn't something he was very good at; Iris often stated it was a miracle that Central City hadn't figured out who he was yet.

"You've baffled the doctors," Barry said, not quite knowing what to say, nodding back to where Amara could hazily make out the forms of several people in white coats moving past in differing directions and at differing intervals. "They're not quite sure how you survived being electrocuted with such a high voltage of electricity."

Amara looked at him blankly.

"Do…Do you remember how you got here?" he asked, taking note of the expression.

Amara closed her eyes, thinking hard…what had happened the previous day? Or had it not even been a day? Amara couldn't be sure…

She rushed across the rooftops as far as her small legs could take her, leaping from one rooftop to the next and nearly missing it completely.

But she gripped the edge of the roof tightly, her teeth gritting as she pulled herself onto the roof, her heart beating wildly in her chest as she watched the scene unfold.

Amara didn't know where her father had come up with the name Storm Caller, it certainly didn't strike fear into the heart of his enemies, but maybe that wasn't the point. It was more a statement of fact; he could call storms and Amara, little Amara, could only chase them.

Storm Chaser was a more apt description of her abilities, she thought morosely as she looked out to where the storm was amassing around the one she called father. His eyes glowed with electricity and his hair, as grey as clouds during a storm, crackled with static that made it stand on end as he threw off bolt of lightning after bolt of lightning.

Amara ducked as a stray bolt was thrown towards herself, focusing intently on the flash of red that was dodging the strikes of lightning.

The Flash was fast, Amara had lived in Central City long enough to know that, but she also knew how painful her father's lightning could be. One hit from it could render the scarlet superhero unconscious…but Amara had built up a resistance to lightning, owing no doubt to her father's blood.

Amara took hold of a pipe, shimmying down it until her feet were planted on the ground and then she was running along the street whilst others screamed and ran away in fear of being hit by her father's lightning. She couldn't really blame them; it burned more than stung.

But the Flash was fast, until Storm Caller sent out a pulse that floored him and everyone but Amara who only stumbled from the force of the strike.

"Victory is mine!" Storm Caller roared, concentrating the lightning inwards before releasing it towards the Flash with a sadistic laugh.

Before the hero could move, a blur of grey swarmed his vision as a small figure launched themselves between himself and his enemy.

She opened her eyes and looked down at herself, attempting to move the stiff fingers of her left hand only to flinch back when a spasm of pain flared from the tips of her fingers up to her shoulder.

"Don't try to move, you've got some serious burns," Barry warned her.

Amara scowled at him in annoyance, though it more had to do with her inability to move than his presence.

"I'm Barry Allen, by the way," Barry said, suddenly realizing he hadn't given her a name other than his superhero one that she must have already known. "What's your name?"

Amara closed her eyes tiredly. "I'm Amara Isely."

Amara disappeared once it became known of her father's escape from Iron Heights Penitentiary, unfortunately, it didn't take much effort for Barry to track her down.

"The last time you and your father clashed you ended up in a hospital bed with serious burns," he reminded her and she didn't look up from the binoculars she was using.

"I was shielding you," the child said pointedly.

"I could have outrun the lightning," Barry countered, crossing his arms as the grey-haired girl flipped off the branch to land lightly on her feet.

Green eyes narrowed in irritation. "Fine!" She stomped her foot angrily. "I wanted to see if Father cared!"

There was fire in her eyes as she clenched her fists and gritted her teeth. She looked as though she was about to explode into a tantrum that Barry's nephew Wally was well known for when he was younger, but then she released a breath and she calmed slightly.

Amara began walking and Barry slowed his pace to hers. "My mother died the day I was born," Amara said finally, "and my father…he never really liked being saddled with me, I 'didn't have the potential.'" She raised her fingers to quote his words.

"Doesn't sound like a great living environment for an eight year old."

One shoulder lifted and fell as Amara sat down, lowering herself over the small ledge, landing on uneven feet.

"I'm tougher than I look," Amara said sourly.

"Amara, you're eight years old," Flash said, trying to stress the words. "You don't have to be tough, you just have to be yourself."

Coming from a man wearing a mask, that wasn't really comforting, but Amara didn't bother speaking her mind on that matter.

"I don't really know who I am," she admitted after a long moment, coming to a stop, looking up at the sky, seeing where the lightning was lighting it up.

Barry gave her a smile that made her cheeks redden; she'd often imagined her father looking at her in such a kindly way, but she wasn't sure he was even capable of such a thing.

Then he ruffled her hair.

Amara squawked in outrage, reaching up a hand to try to fix the mess with a glower towards Barry that only made him laugh.

"We'll talk once I've got an inhibitor collar on your dad," he said, preparing to speed off.

"I'm coming too!" Amara countered.

"It'll be done by the time you get there!" he called over his shoulder, leaving her in the dust.

Amara wanted to beat her head into something. "So much for crashing the mode," she muttered, using the phrase she'd come up with when she was five.

Though there was no denying that her attempt to take down her father would have been met with failure, Amara didn't really think much about that, being far more angry at her father for his attack on her the last time they'd met.

"She contains the same metagene as her father, Weather Wizard, though it seems he's taken the alias Storm Caller to throw us off his trail."

Batman's eyes were focused on the screen before him with Flash at one side and his sidekick, Robin, positioned on the opposite side in a similar stance, his hands pressed against the table, his eyes hidden behind his domino mask as he looked to the same screen as his mentor.

"So far she's only shown the capability of resisting electric attacks," Barry said, "but only to a certain degree."

Batman scrutinized the image of Amara Isely on the screen. She was a wild card with her abilities and parentage, but she'd shown herself to lean towards good rather than bad in stepping between her father and Flash.

"What do you think of her?" he asked Barry suddenly for his opinion that the speedster had to blink.

"I think she's got a lot of potential," Barry said decisively, "but she's untrained with a lot of anger…there's at least emotional abuse to consider…my wife's taken a shine to her."

Barry's identity was quite well known throughout the Justice League community, mostly because he was so bad at keeping secrets, but those entrusted with his identity he knew would never reveal anything about his personal life to his enemies.

He'd brought her back to his home after he'd collared her father and left him to the authorities and seeing Iris fret over the state of the eight year old metahuman had been something else, especially given how surprised Amara had been by the attention.

But she'd warmed up to Iris in a similar manner to the way she had with Barry. When he and Iris were at work for hours, she vanished, only returning once they were home as well. She kept coming back even though she didn't have to and Barry suspected it had more to do with her enjoying the company than a place to sleep and a warm meal.

"Keep an eye on her," Batman said finally, "she's an anomaly and we need make sure her atmokinesis doesn't get out of control like her father's."

Barry gave a lazy salute before dashing off. Honestly, he could have kept the information about Amara within S.T.A.R Labs, but Batman was thought of very highly in the Justice League and his guidance could often be very beneficial.

With the Weather Wizard (Storm Caller, same difference) behind bars there was only one other loose end, Amara's mother.

A woman who most certainly was not dead and most certainly was a threat.

But the less Amara knew about her the better.

Amara was curled up on the couch when he got home, shrugging off his coat, the snow clinging to his hair.

Iris was throwing a thick blanket over the grey-haired girl's body as she breathed in and out evenly and his red-haired wife spared the slumbering girl a soft smile that she usually reserved for their equally red-haired nephew.

"We could adopt her."

Iris jumped at the sudden words, looking to where her husband was leaning against the wall, looking at the pair of them fondly. A flush adorned her cheeks at the look more than anything else.

"I'm not sure she'd be a fan," Iris quipped. "She's a bit of a lone wolf."

"All wolves know that you need to have a pack to survive," Barry said with a smile, wrapping his arms securely around her waist and giving her a quick kiss to her lips. "Is it a terrible idea?"

"Not terrible," Iris wheedled, looking down at Amara fondly. "She's a great kid, and she deserves to have a family, but…are you doing this because of the League? To keep an eye on her?"

"The League does want to keep an eye on her," Barry had to admit the truth there, Iris could spot him telling a lie a mile away, "but that's not the reason."

The first time he'd seen her smile was when she'd shown up one night completely soaked, her grey hair nearly black with rain. She'd looked more like a drowned rat than anything else, and before she could even speak, Barry had pulled her inside and dropped a towel on her head, ruffling it until she laughed.

From what he'd gathered from the other Leaguers that had caught sight of her during their missions, she seemed quite remote and silent.

The only time she opened up was around the Allens, or maybe it was that she only knew how to open up around the Allens. She was very reserved for an eight year old, something she had probably picked up from living with the Weather Wizard for those first eight years.

She had walls around her on all sides, but walls crumbled and fell and the child within was becoming more clear to see.

"What is the reason?" Iris asked curiously.

"She's got spirit," Barry said as though trying to come up with an appropriate word for what he saw in her.

She didn't remind him of himself or of Iris, in truth, Amara reminded him of Wally, his nephew. She had a good heart and a good soul with a light behind her eyes that refused to go out.

"Is that all?" Iris asked in amusement, her eyes twinkling in the light of the fire flickering in the fireplace.

"Among other things," Barry laughed and the green-eyed girl stirred under the blanket at the noise the pair were making, not quite awake but not quite asleep and Barry grinned as Iris swatted him reproachfully.

Amara was nearly nine when the adoption was finalized and it was the first time in a long time that she'd been good to honest happy, and as such she'd been deeply annoyed when her new foster parents had requested she sit through a session with Black Canary.

Amara didn't like the idea of therapy much and she certainly didn't think she needed any.

But she complied to the request because it was Black Canary and Black Canary was totally kickass (but Amara refused to fangirl in front of the woman, she was cool, she was cool –she was absolutely not cool! This was Black Canary!).

"How are you settling into your new home?" Black Canary asked her and Amara rubbed her wrists together in a nervous gesture that the blonde hero was quick to pick up on.

"It's nice," Amara said at long last, "Iris and Barry are the best."

Black Canary smiled at her and Amara ducked her head. "So your relationship with them is still good?"

"Why wouldn't it be?" Amara asked defensively. She liked Barry and Iris, they were the best! It was almost like they were her real parents and sometimes Amara would pretend that she'd inherited her green eyes from Iris and Barry had gotten her a ruby dangling earring with a glamour charm that made her grey hair the same color as Iris' (Barry had pouted at her not wanting blonde, but Amara had seen more blondes around than red-heads).

Amara looked ordinary now, or as ordinary as an almost-nine-year-old could look with powers over the weather, predominately in electrokinesis.

"You've had to look out for yourself for a long time, Amara," Black Canary said in a sympathetic manner. "It's understandable if you find it hard to get used to having people take care for you instead."

Amara opted to say nothing to that, picking at the arm of her chair instead.

"Do you like Barry and Iris more than your biological father?"

If Black Canary had expected an expression of conflict on Amara's face, she was getting something else coming.

Amara nodded her head feverishly as if being too slow to respond would be a slight towards her adoptive parents.

"Is he still locked up?" Amara asked suddenly.

Black Canary nodded and Amara slumped into her seat, relief pouring from her body. She didn't think they had much to worry about with Amara Allen.

"Enough talk," Black Canary said, "why don't I show you a few moves before Flash shows up to take you home?"

Amara brightened noticeably.

Wally was racing around the house completely brimming with excitement. Even sine his mom and dad had told him that Uncle Barry and Aunt Iris were in the process of adopting a girl around his age. Finally, a cousin! It was the most exciting thing that had happened to him yet, but it had taken months!

But now they were bringing their adoptive daughter with them to dinner.

"Wally, you're going to wear a hole in the carpet," Jay Garrick remarked from the kitchen where he was assisting his wife, Joan, in setting the table.

Jay was the first Flash and as such a sort of surrogate grandfather to Wally, especially after the accident (which still made Wally wince) or not-so-accident in which Wally had recreated the experiment that had given Barry his powers.

"I can't help it!" Wally whined. "Why are they taking so long? It's been forever!"

"Wally," his mother said, mildly amused, "it's been three minutes."

"Exactly! Forever!" Wally launched himself to the couch that was pressed against the window and he looked sourly out into the storming night where he could barely make out a pair of headlights.

Maybe that was them!

No…the car turned into a different driveway and Wally pouted before a familiar car made its way down the street to park in their car in the driveway and three figures exited to hurry inside.

"Didn't feel the need to expand your storm cloud?" Uncle Barry commented from the door.

"If you can outrun a bullet, surely you can outrun a bit of rain, dear," Aunt Iris commented dryly. "Right, Amara?"

Amara was the name of the girl they'd adopted and Wally practically lunged in the direction of the door and ended up skidding on the carpet and falling flat on his face.

Not the greatest first impression to give his new cousin.

"And this is your cousin, Wally," Iris said in amusement. "How are you doing down there, Wally?"

Wally gave a thumbs-up as he lifted his head from the ground to look at Amara Allen with renewed interest.

Her green eyes were slightly wide in surprise as she looked down at his fallen form, her red hair barely restrained in what must have been the shortest ponytail he'd ever seen. And she was completely dry, whereas her adoptive parents were wet from the rain that had hit them on their way in.

Then Wally was on his feet, grinning as brightly as he had before and Amara recoiled slightly in surprise. She was about two years younger than him and it showed in height and appearance.

"Hi, I'm Wally!" he said. "I'm your new cousin!"

"Um…hi?" Amara said awkwardly, glancing to Barry and Iris for help but they offered her none. Wally was like a ray of sunshine to her storm cloud and she was slightly rattled by his enthusiasm. "I'm Amar—whoa!"

He dragged her into the living room faster than Amara had time to blink of breathe –she would later blame the super-speed for that— to introduce her to the four remaining people in the house.

Wally pointed first to a big-bellied man with brown eyes and hair with a thick mustache. "That's Dad –Uncle Rudy to you, I guess." He then pointed to his mother. "That's your aunt Mary, careful she's crazy!" He'd whispered those words audibly and his mother rolled her eyes good-naturedly as Amara giggled.

"And that's Jay and Joan, they're the coolest!"

"H-Hello," Amara stumbled over her words.

It had once just been her and her father, there had been no extended family to concern themselves with, but when Amara had become part of the Allen family she had learned a great deal about how close Barry was with the Garricks and how close Iris was to her brother's family.

It certainly was something else, but it was also a bit overwhelming and Amara tried not to let it show on her face as she glanced around the room to the strangers who would one day be spoken of quite fondly from her.

"I'm Amara," she added helpfully, steeling her nerves, but somehow she thought she'd rather have her father take another shot at her with his lightning than be looked upon with so many eyes.

"Welcome to the family," Joan said and Amara's nerves left her and smiled slightly.

Chapter Text

"You know sometimes I forget we're not really related."

Amara cocked an eyebrow at that from where she was lying on her stomach, propped on her elbows under the fort she and Wally had made with wide and cheery grins. "What about if I do this?"

She unclipped her earring from her ear and the red or her hair faded back to the grey that she had been born with.

Wally scrutinized her intently. "Nah," he decided. "The grey looks better, actually."

"It does?" Amara ran her fingers through the strands in surprise.

"Not that I'd know anything about that," Wally said quickly. "There's just a lot of red-heads in the family."

Amara made a noise of agreement, twisting the earring between her fingers. Maybe a darker color would suit her better…

A head appeared at the flap of their fort. "Are either of you going to come out?" Iris prompted with a grin.

"No adults!" they both yelled, recoiling suddenly at the sight of her face and Iris withdrew with a laugh.

"When's Barry going to make you his sidekick?" Amara asked him once her adoptive mother's footsteps had faded.

Wally groaned into the pillow underneath him. "Not until I'm thirteen! Can you believe that! Its two years away!"

"Do you think he'll let me come along too?" Amara asked curiously.

She was now a part of a family of speedsters and one of the few that didn't have the ability to run fast enough to disappear into speed, but then again, no one could do what she could with the weather.

"Or maybe I should learn how to fly first," she contemplated before he could answer.

Wally's eyes went owlishly wide. "You can fly?"

"Maybe, I've never tried it," Amara said in contemplation, "but I'm not supposed to practice my powers out in the open."

"Me neither!" Wally bemoaned. "Or I'll get grounded for a month!"

Wally had it easy, he could control his powers, but Amara had made a large downpour in Keystone, nearly resulting in Wally being let out of school early because the storm had been so bad…all while she'd been asleep.

Barry had taken her whilst she was unconscious the medical wing in the Hall of Justice since he'd been unable to awaken her and the storm had continued for an hour until she'd woken up startled to find herself not in her bed.

Then she'd been confined to the Cave –which had been the first headquarters for the Justice League before the Hall of Justice had been established– for three days while tests were run on her endlessly. And these weren't three free days for Amara, no, she had school. Amara was homeschooled, taking a supplementary school course online rather than attending school physically like Wally did, which was helpful considering all the schooling she had missed out on when she'd been with her father.

Wally may have gotten grounded but Amara was forced into even more training with Black Canary, which was great and all, apart from being totally exhausting.

Her cousin didn't need to worry about causing intense lightning storms while he was sleeping, compared to atmokinesis, super-speed was much more desirable.

"How do you think this works?" Wally asked, pulling her back to the present as he poked cautiously at her earring where it was lying on the ground.

Amara's eyebrows creased in confusion. "What d'you mean?"

It was a glamour charm, wasn't it?

"There's no such thing as magic," Wally replied with utter surety. "It's just cheap tricks and illusions."

A grin warmed Amara's face. If there was one thing that she had Wally had in common, it was their love of science (Amara blamed Barry entirely for this).

"So what do you think it is, then?" she asked, screwing her face up as she thought about her science class. "Something that makes you see only red?"

Amara wasn't as far along in her science as Wally was, but Wally latched at the idea like it was a lifeline (making it really obvious how much distaste he held for magic).

"Oh, yeah!" Wally nodded furiously. "There are these things in our eyes, you know, that allow you to see either color or black and white! I bet that's it!"

Amara stared at him like she'd never seen anything as odd as him in her whole life, which might've been a little true.


"Did you learn that in class?" Amara asked, canting her head slightly. It sounded a bit advanced for an eleven year old, not that Amara would know much about what one learned at eleven.

"Psh, no," Wally scoffed. "Internet, cuzz, that's where all the good stuff is."

"The internet's weird," Amara disagreed, wrinkling her nose in disagreement. She didn't completely understand it and only dealt with the basics that were needed for her schoolwork; apart from that, she had no idea what she was doing.

Wally opened his mouth to say something when there was the sound of a door opening and shutting.

"Barry's home," Amara offered helpfully as they crawled towards the entrance of their fort to peek their heads out.

Barry arched an eyebrow at the pair, not bothering to comment on Amara's grey hair. "I see you two have been busy."

Both grinned as they pulled themselves out to where they'd been hidden beneath pillows and blankets to eat the heaping dinner Iris had cooked up (feeding two speedsters was no easy feat, but, thankfully, Amara didn't require as much food).

It was only once Wally's parents had come to pick him up that Amara handed over the earring to her adoptive father.

"I think I like black better," she told him at his questioning look. "That's closer to grey."

And there were a lot of black-haired superheroes, one more could be overlooked easily.

Barry ruffled her grey hair with a soft smile. "I'll let Zatara know."

Amara's face was on the screen in the Hall of Justice, directly underneath the images of her mother and father.

"You think she's a clone?" Flash's lips thinned into a line. "If she was a clone her DNA would be genetically identical to whomever she was cloned from, but she has parents."

"I don't believe she's a clone," Batman said, "I think Amara was conceived through In Vitro Fertilization."

Barry glanced to the image beside Amara. The slanted green eyes and sly lips were as much a characteristic of Poison Ivy as her red hair.

"However, I was under the impression that Poison Ivy was infertile."

"Well, miracles don't just happen," Barry commented wryly and Bruce had to agree with him there.

"It's possible she had some of her eggs removed during her time with Floronic Man," Bruce conceded, tapping his chin thoughtfully. "But they would have been too toxic to form into an embryo…unless her immunity to toxins was introduced to neutralize the toxins."

"That seems like a lot of effort to create one child from two villains," Barry said.

Honestly, he should have brought the matter before the entire Justice League, but at the same time, they were likely to keep Storm Chaser at arm's length once they found out her heritage. At least with Batman he knew that he would only reveal such private information if the need ever arose; Batman was the best at keeping secrets out of them all.

"Children are easier to mold," Batman said, more as a statement of fact than anything else. "It's likely she was carried in a surrogate, given how Poison Ivy doesn't seem to be aware that she has a child and Weather Wizard only became aware of her after she was born."

It was lucky that she was more inclined towards atmokinesis than chlorokinesis. Barry wasn't sure how he'd be able to handle two Poison Ivys running around spreading toxic plants around.

"How is she?"

Barry jerked himself out of his thoughts. "She's adjusting," he said, "training with Black Canary helps, especially with how out of control her powers are, but she's working hard to get a handle on them…she and Wally want to come out with me. I'm considering making Wally my sidekick when he's thirteen, but I'm not sure about Amara."

"It's your decision," Batman said.

He really couldn't say anything, after all, Richard Grayson had become his ward and sidekick at the tender age of nine, but he certainly excelled as his partner.

But Dick didn't have a haywire superpower causing him problems.

Barry's thoughts drifted towards Amara as he excused himself. Maybe if Black Canary considered her to be in control by the time she was eleven, then he'd consider taking her on with Wally…though having two apprentices at one time, that might be a bit trying…

Amara was like a very cheerful storm cloud. The black hair suited her more than the red, but the grey made her…her.

However, the grey was more distinctive and she was going to save that for when she operated behind a mask or was around those in the League, like today.

Amara was scowling at her laptop screen as she attempted her math problems with great annoyance (science was her thing, math definitely not).

The zeta-tube fired up, shortly followed by the computerized voice announcing someone's arrival.

"Recognize: Black Canary -13"

"Hey, kiddo, ready for some more training?" There was a smirk on her lips and Amara groaned, scowling over the laptop, something she most definitely wouldn't have been able to do when they first met.

"Because who doesn't love pain?" Amara muttered, sinking further into the couch.

"You know what they say, pain is just weakness leaving the body," Black Canary said, responding with grin at Amara's reaction to the question.

"Whoever came up with that phrase has never met you," Amara grumbled. "It is so not crash."

Black Canary had gotten quite used to Amara's go-to phrase which included anything from "You're crashing my mode!" to "That's so crash!"

"What will be crash is your butt on the floor of the mission room."

"I'm coming, I'm coming!" Amara shut the laptop and vaulted over the couch before the woman could kick her in the direction of the mission room, which doubled as their training area, because what wasn't better than her name being shown holographically always followed by 'failure'?

Absolutely nothing. And this was such a great way to start her Tuesday.

Note the sarcasm.


Amara did as she asked, mostly out of reflex than complying with her demand, blocking Black Canary's strike with her arm before leaping over the swipe that was meant to knock her legs out from under her.

The air seemed to solidify slightly underneath her, giving her a push off as she threw her heels against Black Canary's chest, cart-wheeling back as her teacher did the same, but they didn't stop there.

Black Canary dove towards her and Amara flipped over her shoulders to avoid the hit before aiming one of her own at the woman's back. It collided, but ineffectively.

The hero twisted around to grab the fist that Amara had been too slow to withdraw and threw her over her shoulder so the grey-haired girl fell painfully onto her back.

Amara muffled a groan as the words appeared above her.

Storm Chaser: Status: Failure

"Your blocking and dodging is pretty good," Black Canary said with a smile as she held out a hand to the girl to pull her to her feet and Amara accepted. "But your attacks need work. Hesitation can get you killed."

"I know," Amara sighed, looking down at her hands solemnly as they began to spark slightly with lightning. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply and the sparks faded.

A hand dropped to her shoulder and she opened her eyes to find Black Canary looking upon her with a kindly expression that Amara couldn't quite place.

"Hey, the reason you're here is so that you can learn to control your powers," Black Canary said soothingly, "the progress you've made is amazing."

"You think so?" Amara's green eyes were bright and imploring.

"'Course I do, kiddo." The hand on her shoulder moved to rest on the top of her head, but she didn't ruffle it like her father did. "Now are you ready for class to really start?"

Amara's lips thinned but she nodded, trying to keep her body from letting off electricity like it sometimes did. She caught the bottle of water the hero threw her way, gulping it greedily.

"I want you to make me a storm cloud."

Amara, whose attention had been entirely focused on the bottle in her hands and chugging down as much of it as possible to replenish after the brief workout (and it didn't help that she was thirsty to begin with), choked and it was a small miracle that she had managed to swallow before forcing out a befuddled "Huh?"

Typically Black Canary's requests were bit more…complex. How long could she maintain a bolt of electricity between her hands before she was too exhausted? How long could she manipulate the air around her to levitate her above the ground? (It was sadly not very long)

"A storm cloud, Amara," Black Canary said patiently as though her words made complete sense.

"B-But I've never made a storm cloud before!" she managed to stutter out.

"Yet you could make a storm over Keystone?" Black Canary prompted with an arched eyebrow and Amara flushed darkly at the memory.

"That was unintentional," Amara muttered under her breath. "I was having a nightmare."

"Your powers are tied to your emotions," Black Canary explained, "which is how you were able to create the storm; it was to combat against your nightmare, only with nothing to defend against, it simply settled over your city. That's why we're starting small here, so you don't cause another storm."

"One storm cloud coming up," Amara said, lifting her hands before her eyes, a crease forming on her forehead as lightning sparked between her fingers, the air condensing into a visible soft grey, not quite a storm cloud yet, but it was still a good first attempt.

Amara's eyes narrowed, her fingers tensing as Black Canary watched on in interest.

She doubted that the atmokinetic girl was aware of how spiky her hair had gone from static or how her eyes glowed faintly with electricity similar to the electricity that was visible every so often within the cloud that was slowly darkening from the light grey to a more solid grey, like the color of Amara's hair.

Black Canary smirked.

Amara Allen had potential.

The chair twisted around and around, making herself dizzy, but she didn't seem to care as she waited for her adoptive mother to show up.

"Hey, kid, your mom's going to be down in a few minutes."

Amara stopped swiveling around and her vision spun wildly before focusing on Denny, Iris' cameraman. She'd only met him a few times, but he seemed nice.

She gave him two thumbs-ups and he shook his head with a slight chuckle before continuing on his way out of the building.

Her fingers drummed against her mother's desk, which seemed to be the only one in Galaxy Broadcasting System (which was where Iris worked as a reporter) not completely cluttered with papers.

There was one picture on her desk and it was of Amara, Iris, and Barry. Amara's smile was blinding, her green eyes shining, her dark hair making the green more obvious.

"Hey, Amy, been waiting long?"

Iris' cheerful voice brought Amara's thoughts to the front of her mind as she tilted her head back to look at her red-haired adoptive mother.

"No," Amara promised, "Dinah dropped me off after school…that was about ten minutes ago."

Iris and Amara shared a knowing look. Amara couldn't very well say that Black Canary dropped her off after training her to control her abilities over the atmosphere; secret identities were secret for a reason.

"Barry sent me a text earlier," Iris added, grabbing her jacket and checking her phone as she did so, "he's going to be a little late getting home tonight, so I thought you and I could grab some dinner out, just girls."

"Crash!" Amara grinned and Iris released a short laugh at her words as she wrapped an arm around the girl's shoulders securely, something that had once made Amara tense (physical contact hadn't much been her thing until she'd gotten used to the affection of the Allen family), and it was with great pleasure for Iris that Amara leaned against her arm.

"Did you have fun today?" Iris asked once they'd climbed into her car. "Finish all your schoolwork?"

She and Barry were fine with Amara taking the supplementary online homeschooling course rather than going to school, mostly because Amara had been so apprehensive about going to school when she was so far behind. As long as she did all her work.

"Yeah, but I'm having some problems with math." Amara scowled before brightening. "I made a storm cloud today!"

Her enthusiasm lit up her whole face in the same manner that Wally's did when he saw heaping piles of food and Iris couldn't help but reflexively smile as well.

"That sounds exciting," Iris agreed. "Was Black Canary impressed?"

"I think she was pleased," Amara said, screwing up her face slightly as she thought hard. "She said I did better than expected, so…that means she was impressed, right?"

The imploring look on her daughter's face was adorable and Iris reached to tuck a stray strand of dark hair behind her ear as they came to a stop light.

"Yes, sweetheart, it means she was impressed."

And Iris wouldn't have exchanged Amara's smile for anything in the world.

Amara was curled up under her blankets, trying to fall asleep after being awoken rudely by a loud crack of lightning from the storm outside that was not caused be her as she assured her adoptive parents when it came on suddenly. Sometimes weather just happened.

And it didn't help that Amara was a notoriously light sleeper.

She sat up on her bed at the sound of voices coming from downstairs. Her fingers rubbed the sleep from her eyes as she blinked to clear them, looking around her room.

A flash of lightning illuminated her room, showing her potted fern on her desk that Barry had been uneasy about getting her (why, Amara had no idea), and the papers scattered across the floor with a few pieces of clothing.

Amara was going to clean all that up tomorrow, she'd promised…but right now…

She swung her legs over the side of the bed, pulling her up into a standing position and then feeling her way blindly for the door, opening it as quietly as possible as she made her way slowly towards the stairs.

"I don't like it," Barry was standing beside where Iris was sitting with a contemplative expression on her face. "She's my daughter."

"No one is contesting that, Barry," Black Canary said smoothly and Amara's eyes widened in surprise.

Why were they talking about her while she was sleeping?

"But you taking on two protégés isn't the best course of action," Dinah continued, "especially if only one of them shares your super-speed; you could end up side-lining her simply because she can't keep up with the two of you."

"That won't happen," Barry insisted.

Black Canary cocked an eyebrow. "Why don't you just ask her what she thinks?" And then she turned to meet Amara's eyes from where she'd been crouching at the top stair.

Amara went stock still, as if hoping to simply camouflage into the background by imitating a statue, but it didn't quite have the effect she had intended and Black Canary crooked her fingers towards the girl.

"C'mere, Amara," she said and Amara hoisted herself up, descending the stairs slowly still wondering why it was an issue for her and Wally to both be Barry's protégés.

"Amara, how would you feel about being my protégé?" Dinah asked once she had Amara in her sights, and of all the things that the grey-haired girl could have expected her to ask, that was not even on the list.

"W-What?" she said blankly in incomprehension, looking from her teacher to her parents.

Mostly she was mentally excited at how Black Canary wanted her –Storm Chaser!– as her partner in crime.

"But you live in Star City," she said, forcing her mouth to move after a short silence that felt much too long to her young mind.

Black Canary smirked, resting her hands on her hips. "It wouldn't be the first time a mentor and a student lived in two different cities, besides, I'm just a zeta-tube away."

"I haven't agreed to this," Barry reminded Dinah, sounding a bit vexed to Amara.

"Barry, I get that you're protective of her, but you've got to let her make her own choices, especially if she wants to be a Leaguer one day," Dinah pointed out. "I know her moves and she knows mine. She doesn't need someone with super-speed trying to teach her, she needs someone who moves at her pace and who has some kind of special ability."

Barry's shoulders sagged and Iris reached up to intertwine her fingers with her husband's and he looked down to her.

She smiled. "I think that if that's what Amy wants…" She left the rest unsaid, but it didn't really need saying, if Amara was completely honest.

"What do you say, kid?" Black Canary had twisted back around to face the green-eyed girl. "Want to be a kickass sidekick to a Bird of Prey?"

Iris made a small noise at the use of the swear in front of her adoptive child, but Amara didn't seem to notice, practically bouncing in excitement.

Oh, this was so crash!


A wide grin stretched across Dinah's lips. "I thought so," she said, withdrawing something black to hand to Amara and she saw that it was a simple mask.

Black Canary winked. "I know you're not the flashy type."

("Is that a slight towards me?" Barry muttered towards Iris who nudged him.)

"We'll start when I think you're good enough for field work, alright?" Dinah added, striding towards the door.

Amara looked down at the mask with a smile on her face that didn't fade even when she finally fell asleep.

World, get ready to meet Storm Chaser!

Chapter Text

Roy Harper hadn't been Speedy, the protégé to Green Arrow, for very long, but at least he had a few years on Black Canary's cheerful shadow, Storm Chaser.

Her grey hair was spiky with static and her eyes were green behind her simple black mask. Goggles (night-vision, Roy was almost certain of) were perched on top of her head and she was wearing dark pants and a tight shirt of a similar black with a streak of grey from her throat to her waist where a utility belt rested.

Her boots scuffed the ground as she hopped off Black Canary's motorbike, her fingers twitching in her fingerless gloves.

"Hi!" She waved her hand wildly in a childlike manner befitting of her age (what was she? Ten?) and grinned broadly at Green Arrow and Speedy. "I'm Storm Chaser!"

"Hello," Green Arrow chuckled. "I'm Green Arrow and this is Speedy." He nudged his apprentice forward slightly with his elbow and the vexed archer grunted.

"I don't see why we're being saddled with a kid," Speedy muttered.

"I've got almost as much training as you," Storm Chaser pointed out, and Roy's cheeks reddened at being called out on his words.

"She's my protégé, so you two are probably going to be seeing a bit more of each other," Black Canary said with a smile, dropping a hand to Storm Chaser's shoulder. "Let's head inside so we can explain the situation."

Once all four were situated inside one of Green Arrow's storage lockers –it wasn't much, but at least it was secure from prying ears.

"This is our target," Black Canary said, tapping on the keyboard until an image was displayed on the screen. It was a woman with short crimson hair and green eyes. "Carrie Cutter, Cupid. We caught her a few months ago after she started dropping our enemies like flies."

"And that's not good?" Storm Chaser asked in confusion.

Roy couldn't blame her, it did sound a bit confusing.

"Not when she's doing it out of an obsession with the Green Arrow," Black Canary said, glancing pointedly towards the man in question who rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. "She escaped prison again and is now using Green Arrow's arrows and killing again."

"Not good for business," Roy added, "I haven't had a good mission in weeks."

Storm Chaser giggled as the auburn-haired male quailed under the glare Black Canary gave him.

"Cupid could be working with someone," Green Arrow added, "which is why we're going to be working in two separate teams. Speedy and Storm Chaser, you will be infiltrating what we believe to be Cupid's hideout, Black Canary and I will be scouting for any of her potential targets."

"I'm babysitting?" Speedy demanded.

Black Canary gave him another look. "Storm Chaser's never worked alongside someone of a similar age to her; it'll be good practice for both of you."

Blue eyes sized up the shorter and younger girl from behind his domino mask and his shoulders slumped slightly. "Fine."

Storm Chaser's eye twitched behind her mask at his grated reply, but she surprised him by keeping her mouth shut as new encrypted comm-links were handed out and placed in their ears.

"I guess you're catching a ride with me, then?" Roy prompted after their respective mentors darted away, jerking a thumb towards his motorbike.

Storm Chaser shrugged her shoulders with a sigh. "I suppose a storm cloud would be too obvious," she admitted and the blue-eyed boy stared at her for good measure. It seemed she was well named.

He held out a spare helmet to her and she fixed it to her head, though it didn't seem to quite fit. Roy smirked as she hopped on the back of his bike.

"So, where'd Black Canary dig you up?" he asked through the comm.

"I'm Flash's daughter," Storm Chaser said over the wind rushing past them.

Roy's eyes widened in surprise at that admission. "And you don't have super-speed?"

"I'm adopted," Storm Chaser informed him cheerfully. "My biological father isn't someone you'd want to meet."

"Why's that?"

"He gave me some serious burns when he tried to electrocute Flash and I stepped between them," Storm Chaser said in a rather unconcerned manner.

The flippant way she described her near-death experience made Roy think of Black Canary. No wonder she'd chosen Storm Chaser as her companion; both of them didn't seem to care much about the injuries their body sustained.

"So, what's your skill, then?" Roy asked after a short stretch of silence as he turned the bike carefully around a wide turn as they headed towards the outskirts of Star City. "Electrokinesis?"

"Among other things," Storm Chaser hummed. "Generally anything to do with the weather…mostly just the air and lightning right now, but Black Canary's working with me to make those stronger."

Speedy wondered how badly the Flash would kill him if his daughter was injured on her first mission as a sidekick. Hopefully the metahuman girl would keep her head down, but he knew cuts and bruises came with the job.

"We're nearly there," he said, coming to a stop near a sewage drain and cutting the engine. "This way."

Storm Chaser followed after him and he was surprised to find he didn't really mind her company, especially since she didn't seem to be much of a complainer –and the sewer reeked something terrible, so it was impressive to Roy that she maintained her silence– and she walked in a manner that was nearly silent.

Roy followed the tracker Green Arrow had given him, unaware of how Storm Chaser kept feverishly checking around them to see if they were being followed, but it didn't seem as though that was the case.

She fixed the night vision goggles over her mask and peered around once more before turning back around.

Consequently, she missed the figure that was following the pair at a great enough distance away not to be detected.

"I thought you were against taking on a protégé," Oliver Queen commented as he looked through his binoculars, scrutinizing his enemies closely.

"It depends more on the protégé, I think," Dinah replied in a mild tone, a smirk on her lips. "Storm Chaser's a good kid, a bit raw, but she's got a good head on her shoulders. She must have been begging Flash for weeks to get him to let her come out with me. This is her trial run; if she does well I'll take her out more."

Green Arrow smirked. "Flash not pleased his kid's in the family business?" Word traveled fast in the League when the Flash had adopted an atmokinetic metahuman, it was how Black Canary had become Amara's trainer in the first place.

"I think it was more of a general assumption that she would," Black Canary countered. "I just think he thought it might be another year or two before then."

"This quadrant's clear," Green Arrow added after a moment, stowing his binoculars. "Off to the next one."

And then he and Dinah were rushing along the roofs, jumping and leaping from one to the next.

"Heard her dear old dad is Weather Wizard," Oliver said as they came to a stop. "That true?"

"Well, she did nearly flood Keystone with a terrible storm a couple months back," Dinah replied with a cheeky smile. "What does that tell you?"

"That you sure know how to pick your protégés," Oliver commented.

"I've only had one, so you don't have any to compare her to," Dinah said in a dry tone as Oliver removed the binoculars to survey this city once more for his various enemies. So far he'd caught sight of three, but none of them seemed to have been the target of Cupid's impending attack.

So what was her plan? Or perhaps it was her partner's plan?

"How are things going with Speedy?"

He pulled himself out of his thoughts. "He's got the makings of a great archer…maybe even better than me."

Black Canary smirked. "You're getting soft, old man."

"Old man?" Oliver spluttered.

Dinah laughed. "Dinner tomorrow at the Chinese place you like?"

Green Arrow grinned broadly even with his eyes trained on the street below. "I'll pick you up at six?"

"Will you be going as yourself or am I going to have to bring a mask too?" Dinah asked instead of answering an affirmative.

"Myself…for once." Oliver's eyes flitted to a fleeing shadow. "Hold up, I think I've got something."

Black Canary straightened into a battle stance at his words. "Cutter? Or one of your enemies?"

"I can't be sure…but it's more likely to be her than any of them," he said, following the shadow carefully. "She's moving fast."

Black Canary cracked her knuckles and grinned in a dangerous way that sent a shiver down his spine. "Then what are we waiting for?"

And then she leapt over the building after the woman with Green Arrow hot on her heels.

Speedy removed the storm drain that led up into Cutter's hideout and hoisted himself up before holding a hand out to Storm Chaser, but she'd already made in after him.

"Nice place," she muttered, "really…homey."

Storm Chaser surveyed the widened hole with veiled interest from behind her night vision goggles.

"I'm reading no heat signatures," she said finally, "looks like if she was here, she's long gone now."

"Great," Speedy grumbled; he would kill for some action.

"Keep investigating," Dinah's voice uttered in their ears, "we're on Cutter but we need you to figure out her plan."

Both sidekicks shared a nod and split the search of the hideout.

"It looks like she hasn't been back here in a few days," Speedy muttered before reaching behind the bed to withdraw a bulky laptop. "Jackpot!" But, of course it was encrypted.

"You wouldn't happen to be a hacker, would you?" he asked his companion and Storm Chaser looked up from examining several newspaper clippings that Cutter had pasted to the wall as he set the opened laptop on a rickety desk that had been seriously damaged by termites and possibly a few arrows.

"I'm not great with technology," Storm Chaser said with a shrug before reaching into a small pocket at her utility belt and withdrawing a flash-drive. "But I do have this. Early birthday present."

She connected it to the computer and a green screen of numbers and letters appeared briefly before the computer unlocked.

"A present from your dad?" Speedy asked, impressed.

"He'd probably have a freak out if he knew I had it," Storm Chaser disagreed with a giggle. "Black Canary got it for me."

And then she stepped away to examine the newspaper clippings again. "She's got a lot of stuff on Green Arrow…and she's exed out you and Black Canary every time you're pictured together."

"That's because she's crazy obsessed with my mentor," Speedy drawled with distaste.

"Crazy like crazy or crazy like psycho?"

Roy wasn't sure there was much of a difference, but he was sure there was a difference in Storm Chaser's mind.

"Crazy like she should be locked up," he responded instead, sifting through Cutter's files in search of something that didn't fit. "Found something…Project: Everyman, ever heard of it?"

"Ooh, yeah!" Storm Chaser was at his side in an instant, her green eyes reflecting the bright screen and the various scientific technological terms that just went over Roy's head. "Flash was really annoyed by it –he had to go all the way to Metropolis. Lexcorp came up with this toxic gene therapy called exogene that could give non-metahumans superpowers…a lot of them were killed, I think…Could she be working with a former member of Project: Everyman?"

"Well, if I was mentally unstable, I'd want to work with someone similar," Speedy had to concede, "and if they had superpowers that would be a plus."

Storm Chaser said nothing to that as he lifted a hand to his ear. "Speedy to Green Arrow, we think we've found something."

"Go ahead Speedy."

"We have reason to believe that Cutter may be—"

"Get down!"

Storm Chaser collided violently against his side, sending both of them vaulting to the ground and Speedy was just about to open his mouth to berate her when he saw the arrow lodged in the computer he had just been sitting in front of, the screen black.

She threw up her hands and the dark figure that could have only been the archer was sent reeling back against the wall.

"Black Canary to Storm Chaser –what's going on?"

Storm Chaser gritted her teeth and Speedy, who already had an arrow notched ready to fire, stilled to watch as the air condensed around their attacker, lightning sparking within the storm cloud. "A little busy!"

She clenched her fists and the man gave a yell as the electricity zapped him painfully before he slumped into unconsciousness.

Speedy's eyes widened behind his domino mask and Storm Chaser looked down at her hands, surprise painted across her face.

"I wasn't sure that would work."

Now Speedy's eye twitched in irritation. "You just risked our lives on a maybe?!"

"Well, it's not like I can practice electrocuting people into unconsciousness!" Storm Chaser retorted, clearly vexed by his tone, raising a hand glowing just slightly with lightning. "Would you like me to try it out on you?"

Roy growled under his breath, opening his mouth to return fire when Oliver interrupted him over his comm.

"That's enough from both of you," his mentor commanded. "Status update, Speedy."

Speedy threw a look Storm Chaser's way and she rested her hands on her hips and stuck out her tongue at him.

"Cutter's hideout was abandoned, but we found an encrypted laptop with a file on the Everyman Project in Metropolis, shortly after this discovery we were attacked—"

"Hey, Arrowhead, c'mere and look at this."

Storm Chaser was curling her fingers towards him, interrupting his update as she crouched by their attacker. Getting that close wasn't the best idea, but Roy could tell that from the way she was crouching she was prepared to leap back immediately.

"What?" Speedy demanded, stalking closer before balking. "What the—?"

"What is it?" Black Canary asked in Storm Chaser's ear as she took a quick picture of the man with her phone to show to her mentor when their paths crossed again.

"The man that attacked us looks just like Green Arrow," she said, looking down at the man, visibly startled.

There was silence on the other end of their comms and Speedy imagined Green Arrow and Black Canary were sharing a look.

"Hannibal Bates," Green Arrow said, "but we call him Everyman, after the project that made him into a metahuman."

"And what's his skill?" Speedy asked.

"Replicating the appearance of others after consuming a piece of their DNA," Black Canary said ominously and both Speedy and Storm Chaser gagged at that.

Did that mean the guy had eaten some of Green Arrow's hair? Or something worse…like a toenail clipping?

The mere thought sent a shiver down Storm Chaser's spine as she looked down at the man with his blonde hair and short beard. Imagine if all he had needed was contact to become someone else…that could have truly been disastrous.

"Creepy…but what should we do with him?" Storm Chaser asked, tilting her head curiously as she stood in a fluid movement. She reminded Roy of a cat in the way she moved and for a brief moment he wondered if he tossed her out of tree if she would twist in midair to land on her own two feet.

He had a feeling that she just might.

"Are we supposed to tie him up or something?" she added in befuddlement. "I don't know how long he's going to be ou—"

Before she could finish her words, a pair of blue eyes had shot open and he had leapt to his feet in time for Storm Chaser to somersault backwards and for Speedy to release a foam arrow that had intended on trapping Everyman, but he moved too quick, and the arrow lodged in the wall behind him instead.

Roy grunted as his mentor's copy shot out of the opening they had hoisted themselves up through in order to find the hideout.

Storm Chaser dropped through to land in murky sewage water, glancing around feverishly with her goggles back over her eyes as Speedy came to land beside, sending a wave of water towards the younger girl, who became considerably wetter compared to Speedy, who had his height as an advantage, but the grey-haired girl hadn't had much of a growth spurt yet.

Roy aimed his arrow-notched bow into the darkness. "Did you see which way he went?"

"No," Storm Chaser said sourly, "he must've really bolted…should we split up and attempt to pursue?" The second part was clearly directed towards their mentors listening in on the other end.

"No, we'll regroup," Green Arrow said, "meet us at the coordinates we've sent and we'll come up with our next plan of attack."

"Coordinates received," Speedy said with just a hint of annoyance that made Storm Chaser scowl slightly; was he annoyed at her for not managing to knock Everyman out for an extended amount of time or for not being able to catch him as he made his escape?

She sighed. Her first mission and it wasn't going so well (granted, it wasn't really her fault there, maybe if Cutter had been working alone…).

"An old abandoned warehouse…am I the only one seeing the cliché?"

"It looks like a trap, so, that's what I'm going with."

Oliver and Dinah exchanged a look over the heads of their protégés, an expression of fond exasperation.

"Have you scouted the perimeter?" Black Canary asked.

"Well, yeah," Storm Chaser said in a 'duh!' sort of tone that made her mentor's eyebrow twitch. "Don't worry, everything's totally crash. No booby traps…it seems safe to enter."

"But inside is an unknown," Speedy interjected. "I'm with Storm Warning on this; definitely a trap."

Storm Chaser squawked in indignation at the nickname. "What'd you just call me?!"

She was unfortunately ignored and she crossed her arms and huffed a bit at that, clearly disapproving of her new nickname (but she'd started it by calling Speedy Arrowhead, so just desserts and all).

Black Canary inspected the warehouse with just her eyes, scowling deeply. It had all seemed like a game to Cutter, the way she'd deliberately stayed in their sights all the way out of town. The news that she had been working with Everyman under the guise of Oliver Queen couldn't really have been a surprise, given her obsession with him.

"If she wanted to blow us up, she would have done so already," Dinah decided finally. "Besides, you're too valuable to her for her to kill you."

There was no need to question who she was directing her words to, especially when Green Arrow rubbed the back of his head nervously before hooking his bow over his arm and assisting his companion in sliding the door open.

His bow was back in his hands in an instant, an arrow notched and ready to fire, exactly like Speedy was positioned. Storm Chaser and Black Canary had no physical weapons to arm themselves with; their skills were internalized.

The muscles in Black Canary's neck tightened and Storm Chaser's fingertips sparked with lightning.

"It's too quiet," Storm Chaser whispered out of the corner of her mouth to the one she was closest too, which happened to be Speedy. The boy didn't say anything, but she got the feeling that he thought so as well.

"Aw~! Did you get my little presents~?"

The sudden voice started Storm Chaser and she nearly jumped out of her skin attempting to locate where exactly the speaker was standing before landing on the figure standing on a high railing above them.

Carrie Cutter looked even more insane than her picture had made her seem. Her red hair was wild and ratty, falling into her over-bright eyes and there was a heart-shaped scar over her breast (Storm Chaser had to wonder if she'd carved it herself given her new alias as Cupid, or whether she had gotten it through some accident). The green of her outfit was undoubtedly to do with her obsession's color of clothing, though a much lighter green than what Green Arrow wore and far more exposing (it wasn't something that Iris would wear, that was for sure; Storm Chaser's mother had some serious class that couldn't be ignored).

Beside her stood Everyman, looking as identical to Green Arrow as he had less than an hour ago when Storm Chaser had electrocuted him herself. They could have been identical twin brothers, but where Green Arrow wore green, this man wore much darker colors.

"Dark Arrow and I were starting to get worried~!" Cupid sang, her eyes glinting in the dark.

"Dark Arrow?" Speedy scoffed. "Are you kidding me?"

Storm Chaser couldn't disagree with him there. Cupid couldn't get the original, so she'd settled for the next best thing and given him basically the opposite name to the one the original used.

Cutter seemed not to hear him; rather selective hearing, Storm Chaser gathered.

The woman grinned widely, waving a small trigger in her hand that sent a wave of unease through those gathered and Storm Chaser glanced quickly around the warehouse.

The outside hadn't been wired because the inside was where the bombs had been placed, strewn throughout the structure. There were enough explosives to cause some serious damage.

"Bye, bye, darling~!"

Two arrows were shot towards her, but not fast enough to stop her from hitting the button and the warehouse exploded in fire.

Chapter Text

Fire needs oxygen to burn, Amara had just learned this in science class (so to speak). Without it, the fire would snuff itself out. Unfortunately human beings needed air to breathe, which put them at a disadvantage, but they would have to manage without for a brief period of time.

She spun her hands quickly in front of her as everything exploded around her and the air was forced back so suddenly that she could hear the strangling sounds of Black Canary, Green Arrow, and Speedy struggling to take in air when there was none.

The fire spun around the domed vacuum, hot and fierce. Amara could feel its burn as she kept her hands outstretched and her lungs were beginning to ache. She had a higher tolerance for a lower amount of oxygen than an ordinary human, according to the extensive tests that S.T.A.R. Labs, but even she needed air to breathe.

The fiery orange slowly died down slowly, but enough for Amara to release her shield, breathing in a lungful of smoke along with her companions. Speedy was on all fours rasping and choking, but Green Arrow and Black Canary had recovered quick enough to race off in the direction that Cupid had disappeared in.

"What-the-hell?" Speedy demanded in a strained voice once he'd recovered enough of his breath to speak, though doing so made his throat burn.

Amara pointed at the flames that were beginning to grow once more, now having fuel to burn. "Fire needs air to burn."

She couldn't see his eyes, but she imagined that he was looking at her like he'd never seen anything like her, which was pretty accurate, but she didn't have time to worry about Speedy thinking how utterly insane it was for her to force the air around them back so there would be nothing to burn and consequently nothing to breathe, the growing fire was a more pressing issue.

Speedy was still coughing when Amara pulled one of his arms over her shoulders. He was larger and heavier than her, but Amara could still drag him out through the doors of the warehouse which had been blasted open by the explosion.

"Where're Green Arrow and Black Canary?" Speedy rasped, massaging his throat as he stumbled along side of her.

"They went after Cupid and Everyman," Amara responded in a similarly raw voice. "Do you think this is a weird place for a warehouse?"

Speedy could see what she meant. The warehouse was on the outskirts of town located close to a cliff-face that overlooked Star City's main river.

"I guess," he said, blinking hazily before he jerked Amara to the side suddenly; the arrow that had been aimed at her head flew harmlessly over her shoulder. "Looks like Everyman didn't go with Cupid."

"Lucky us," Storm Chaser said as she released her grip on his arm, permitting him to grab his bow and notch an arrow, firing it with ease. His aim was precise and the arrow created a small explosion.


Her scream jarred him and he followed her gaze to where the ground was crumbling under their feet and Roy nearly swore as the earth gave way just as Storm Chaser reached his side, grasping his arm as they went tumbling downwards only to be tugged to a sudden stop by a grappler Amara had lodged in the side of the cliff-face that nearly resulted in him losing his grip on his bow.

Storm Chaser grunted, her hand tightening over his arm and his over hers as her feet pressed against the side of the cliff. Speedy was heavier than he looked, but the only thing she could think about was Wally saying something ridiculously punny like "How's it hanging?"

But she didn't really have time to think about that right now.

"If I can condense the air under your feet and send you up on a cloud, can you shoot him?"

She was sure his eyes were glowering behind his domino mask at the slight of his abilities that he would miss his target (he sure had a bit of arrogance for a fourteen year old that had only been training from a few months to a year).

"Is it going to drop me on my ass?" he shot back.

"Maybe it will! But you'll get the bad guy won't you?"

Her eyes were glowing with electricity and Roy couldn't help but find it more than a bit unnerving.

"Yeah," Speedy said with certainty, "I'll get him."

"Good," Amara hissed from behind clenched teeth as she focused on the wind blowing around them, thickening it around Roy's feet.

It was strange, like standing on ground that kept shifting underneath him. Speedy preferred to actually have stable ground to stand on, but this would have to do.

Storm Chaser let go of his arm and for a startled moment he thought he was going to going to plummet straight down, that the cloud wasn't going to hold him (because clouds didn't just hold people up), but he steadied his legs, breathing out slowly as he hovered in the air.

Amara raised her arm and he rocketed upwards in time to leap onto the cliff, notch an arrow and fire two off in quick succession. The first released a bright light that temporarily blinded the man using his mentor's face as his own, the second bound him tightly in a lasso (the newest of the trick arrows Oliver had given him).

"Well done," Oliver said once his look-alike had fallen to the ground with a roar of anger, struggling against his bindings and Roy struggled not to look too pleased by his mentor's words.

"Where's Storm Chaser?" Black Canary asked, hauling Cupid forward and dropping her into the dirt beside her accomplice with handcuffs keeping her hands behind her back and a gag over her mouth to keep her from speaking as she glowered at the blonde-haired woman.


"Here," the girl said helpfully from the cliff and Speedy noticed she'd climbed the grapple line up to the edge to grasp the earth, her legs dangling in the free air.

"Can I get a hand?" Amara gasped before Black Canary reached down to hoist her up. "How'd I do?"

Dinah's eyes glittered. "You did alright, kid."

And the beaming smile across her face made her exhaustion not quite so obvious.

"Amy, time to get up!"

Amara groaned loudly as her blinds were lifted, allowing sunlight to filter in through her windows, painting bright light across her face. She buried her face under her pillow.

"Superheroes need sleep!" was declared from under the pillow.

"Metahuman ten-year-olds who just don't want to get out of bed after they've had enough sleep are a different story," Barry commented with a tone of amusement as he lifted the pillow off of his adoptive daughter's head.

Her green eyes squinted up at him and she shaded them with a hand so she wouldn't be blinded. "It's a Saturday, Barry. Don't people sleep in on Saturdays?"

"It's almost ten in morning, Amy," Barry said dryly, nodding towards the digital clock that lay beside Amara's bed on a short table. "You've slept enough and we're going out so take a shower and get dressed."

"Where're we going?" she grumbled as she threw off the covers of her bed and searched her closest for something to wear.

Barry gave her a sheepish look and Amara's face fell. "Not again!" she bemoaned before rushing into the bathroom to drown out his apology with the water.

Not ten minutes later she was dressed in her usual dark colors, wearing loose grey cargo pants that hid her bandaged thigh and a black shirt with the Flash logo in red that hid the bruises over her ribs.

Amara had made it back to Central City with no problem and had climbed the side of Wally's house to his room, where her slightly older cousin had stayed up waiting for her to come back so that he could get the details about the mission. He'd been a bit annoyed that she was the first one to get a mentor, but he couldn't help but be excited to hear how her first mission had gone.

She had been halfway home when the adrenaline had finally worn off, and her injuries had hit her like a car colliding with her abdomen. Her bruises couldn't have been helped, but luckily Black Canary had dumped a number of first aid supplies on her and had spent almost two weeks explaining to her what how each should be used, so Amara had supplies to treat her leg, though, truth be told, it wasn't too terrible.

It hurt to move it too much and Amara couldn't keep a wince off her face when she'd looked at it in the bathroom before redressing it. But she had to admit it looked better than it had when she'd gone to bed.

"Are you alright?" Barry asked her as he pulled out of the garage to back up onto the street (Amara wondered how annoying it was to go at a normal pace rather than super-speed through everything).

"You mean Black Canary didn't tell you how the mission went?" Amara asked, giving him a strange look. It seemed like something he would be dying to know. He'd been very reluctant from the start about letting her into the field to start with; Amara had to beg him for a solid week before he'd said yes.

"What happens on a mission that I'm not involved with generally means I don't get many details about it," Barry told her with a smirk, glancing out of the corner of his eye towards her.

"We were in a warehouse that blew up," Amara offered helpfully and the car swerved dangerously; in retrospect, it probably wasn't as good of an idea for her to admit this fact to her father (and she had been slipping up and calling Barry and Iris 'Dad' and 'Mom' and neither mentioned how pleased it made them) when he was driving.

"W-What?" Barry spluttered, righting the car as the one behind them honked their horn at them.

"And then Speedy and I fell off a cliff," Amara added, blazing through in the hope that if she told him in a rush it wouldn't hit him quite so hard.

This hope was stamped out quite effortlessly as his mouth fell open and he gaped straight ahead (probably too worried that if he gaped at her he'd crash the car).

"Alright, then," he said, his voice a bit strangled and Amara grinned as they pulled into the parking lot at S.T.A.R. Labs. The sight of it was becoming something very familiar to her.

The last time she had come, they had run tests on her for almost four hours, and that had been six months ago. She didn't understand the point of it all; she seemed relatively healthy and fit and had her atmokinesis under control for the most part.

But the worry in Barry's eyes was genuine, like he was expecting her results to be the opposite of what they were and was then increasingly relieved when there was no change in her results from the day versus the ones she'd had half a year ago.

But that was what worried Amara.

What had he been expecting to show up in her results?

She massaged the spot on her arm where the needle had been pressed to remove a vial of blood for analysis, scowling at the spot.

"I'm fine," she said, when Barry asked her if the needle had bothered her once everything had been finished. "Why do you keep bringing me here? I'm not sick."

Her eyes were intent on his and the speedster sighed. "I'll tell you when you're older," he said and Amara slouched in her seat in annoyance.

But what none were aware of was that during the tests, a wilting flower that one of the scientists had on their desk had returned to full bloom.

The doorbell rang loudly and Amara looked up from chewing on her pencil, glaring at the math problem blaring on her computer screen.

"I've got it!" she yelled, racing towards the door before Iris could utter a reply, dropping the pencil from her mouth to race to the door and yank it open.

Beyond was Wally looking appropriately miserable. He had a bag on his back and a pillow squashed to his chest and he was completely soaked by the rain.

Amara blinked, looking him up and down in surprise. "Did you run all the way here, Wally?" she asked her cousin, her eyes drifting to his feet which were clad in obnoxious red and yellow shoes that had been made to withstand Wally's new and impressive speed.

His silence was his answer.

"Can…can I come in?" Wally asked and Amara was thrown by how small his voice was.

"Yeah, sure." Amara threw open the door further and called inside. "Mom! Wally's here!"

"Wally?" Iris peeked her head around the corner that led into the kitchen, concern in the green eyes that she shared with her nephew and daughter. "Sweetie, what's wrong?"

Wally squeezed his pillow tighter against his chest, looking at his feet as Iris came out to take in her nephew's appearance.


"Mom and Dad are fighting again," the young speedster mumbled. "Can I stay here for the night?"

Iris' eyes softened and she brushed his dampened hair away from his face. "Of course you can, sweetie, you're always welcome here, you know that."

"I'll grab some extra blankets," Amara volunteered, lurching towards the stairs and scrambling up them to the closet where the extra blankets were kept folded up.

"Amy, we're having pizza instead," Iris called up the stairs as Amara collected a large pile in her arms. "Do you want to usual?"

"Yes, please!" Amara muffled into the blankets as she tripped down the stairs to throw them onto the couch in front of the television as Iris steered Wally upstairs to change into some of Barry's old clothes, which hung off him but at least were dry.

Barry was working late at the CCPD, so he wouldn't be back for awhile, so it was just going to be Amara, Wally, and Iris.

When Iris had left to pick up the pizza, Amara dug out one of the games Wally had left over at her place from the last time he'd slept over, which had been about two weeks previously.

Amara fiddled with her game controller while Wally clashed with what appeared to be a goblin.

"Why're your mom and dad fighting?" Amara asked suddenly, wincing as her character was killed by a sudden onslaught of attacks and her half of the screen went black temporarily as she waited to be revived at a checkpoint.

"Because of me," Wally said a bit mutinously. "Dad doesn't want me to use my super-speed and Mom thinks it should be my choice."

"Oh," Amara couldn't help but be surprised by that. "Is that because it put you in the hospital when you did that experiment to get your super-speed?"

Wally grimaced at the memory. It had been before Amara was adopted by the Allens, but she had heard an awful lot about it, though, thankfully, Iris didn't have to worry about Amara replicating the experiment that gave both Barry and Wally super-speed (personally Amara thought Barry couldn't really judge, seeing as he did the exact same thing in order to become like Jay Garrick).

"I think some of it is," he had to concede, "but I'm going to be thirteen in a few months, and that's when Uncle B said he'd take me out as his sidekick."

"And Aunt Mary and Uncle Rudy don't like the idea of their thirteen year old son off fighting crime?"

"I guess," Wally said, his character in the game leaping over a small ravine.

"I almost died on my last mission," Amara confided and he paused the screen to look at her.

"Really?" Wally asked, his eyes wide. "Do Uncle B and Aunt I know?"

"I glossed over the main bits," Amara wheedled.

"Nice!" He grinned, bumping his fist with hers. "So, how bad was it?"

"We were in this factory and the guy we were after tripped a wire and these gears went flying everywhere, one almost took off my head before Speedy slammed me to the ground."

"Intense," Wally said.

"What I mean is bad stuff sometimes happens," Amara said with a careless shrug, "your parents should take into account who you're with."

Wally arched an eyebrow and smirked. "Did Black Canary tell you that?" It sounded like something she was repeating rather than speaking from experience.

"Yes," Amara scowled as he sniggered, "but that doesn't mean I don't know what I'm talking about."

"It kinda does."

"I hate you."

"No, you don't," Wally laughed, grinning widely. "Any other secrets to share tonight?"

Amara eyed him in contemplation. "I'm a test tube baby. How's that for a secret?"

Wally stared at her in silence for the longest time. "You're…what?"

"I was grown in an artificial womb in a lab," Amara said, her eye twitching.

Honestly, she'd only been half-surprised by the information when her most recent tests at S.T.A.R. Labs came back (or maybe he had known since the first time he'd taken her and just hadn't told her; the idea of that being the truth annoyed her immensely).

"Well…that's…different," Wally said carefully. "Why?"

Amara threw her hands into the air. "I dunno, science or some other reason. Geneticists trying to play God…maybe…it explains a lot about my biological father's attitude towards me."

The sound of the door opening and the warm smell of the pizzas that Iris was ladened down had both sidekicks (technically, one potential sidekick) running for the door.

Their game was forgotten with Wally's troubles with his parents and Amara's struggles with how she had come into being.

"Admit it, you like me."

Eyes glared at her beyond the domino mask that hid them from view. "You grate on my nerves."

But Amara was grinning too widely at Speedy for it to work properly on her. She poked his side and he had a grimace at the move which had pulled at the three bruised ribs that Oliver had taped up.

She grinned widely as she shrugged one shoulder. "It's a sign of love and affection, Arrowhead."

"Maybe if I shove an arrow through you, you won't be so damn grating," Roy said, giving the impression that he was seriously considering it, even if he wasn't.

That would just be cruel and unusual punishment. Amara had a bandage over her right arm and leg from trying to block an electric burst that would have electrocuted Speedy, and try as he might, he was starting to refer to her as Storm Warning with a fond note.

Storm Chaser had her left arm hooked around his neck and Roy was keeping a steady hand on hers and a gentle one on her side, wary of her burns.

"You sure you're alright?" he asked her as she winced again.

"Fine," she said, "I'll heal up quick, no worries, I mean, not like Dad, obviously, but I am a metahuman so—"

"You know you ramble when you're ignoring your injuries?" Speedy felt the need to point out.

"And you're too stiff, but I don't mention it!"

"You do mention it," Roy said dryly, rolling his eyes behind his mask, "every time Green Arrow and Black Canary stick us together."

Being the mature one, Amara stuck her tongue out at him. "'Nothing wrong with telling the truth."

"So they say," he grunted, pulling her into the alley that held an out of order blue phone box that was in actuality a concealed zeta-tube. "Didn't you say that you had something to tell me?"

Amara leaned against the phone box before raising her hands to her mask, lifting it so that Roy so her face completely for the first time since their paths had originally crossed.

There was a bruise close to her eye that spread across her cheek and it had looked far better when her mask had covered most of it, but the green of her eyes and the grey of her hair was as clear as they had been before.

"My name is Amara Allen, but everyone calls me Amy," she said, extending her good hand towards him.

Roy's eyebrows rose at the declaration. Secret identities weren't just handed out, though it had always been clear that Green Arrow and Black Canary had known who Storm Chaser really was. It showed him that she held a certain level of trust in him, so he peeled the domino mask to expose his own blue eyes before taking her hand. "Roy Harper."

"Roy…" A smirk twisted Amara's lips faintly. "I still like Arrowhead."

"Well, you're still a Storm Warning," he shot back, replacing the mask over his eyes as she did the same.

"Green Arrow said you're going on an extended mission with Green Arrow investigating LexCorps' dealings in North Rhelasia," Amara added. "Let me know when you're back in town so I can whip your butt in a spar."

"Keep dreaming, Storm Warning," Roy said, adjusting his hat and she grinned so wide it threatened to split her face as she opened the doors and stepped inside.

"Recognize: Storm Chaser –B00" was stated clearly, quickly followed by a blinding light that enveloped her, taking her back to Central City and leaving Speedy in the silence of the night.

Amara's comm.-link was making a strange beeping noise when she finally roused herself after a late patrol with Black Canary (which was practically nightly since Green Arrow and Speedy were still investigating LexCorps).

She grumbled under her breath, contemplating whether or not to bury herself further under her blankets before grabbing it and shoving it in her ear and pressing the button that allowed the end sending the signal to receive her.

"What is it?" she asked, yawning widely and stretching out her nearly healed arm and leg as she stood and scowled at her alarm clock, but it wasn't like it was early…

"You need to get to Star City, now."

Amara froze, sensing the urgency in Dinah's voice. "Black Canary, what's going on?"

There was a brief, tense silence. "Speedy's gone missing and we need all hands on deck."

It felt as though a cup of ice water had been dunked down Amara's back and she froze. "W-What?"

"Star City, Storm Chaser, now," Black Canary barked before cancelling the transmission and leaving Amara with a white-hot fear bubbling in her veins.

What had happened to Roy?

Chapter Text

"You'll drive yourself mad if you keep looking at that footage," Dinah commented in a forlorn manner as she strode out of the zeta-tube at Mount Justice towards where Amara was standing in the same tensed position she'd been in when Black Canary had left the previous night (had she moved at all? It was difficult to tell).

But Amara didn't care, she wasn't going to stop looking, not until she found Roy. Even if it had been nearly three months already.

Her focus was entirely on the moving images from the security camera that had caught the last moments of Speedy.

The red-clad sidekick was running through the underground parking lot, flushed and half out of arrows, and then there was nothing. He then appeared in the edge of the frame of the next video before abruptly being pulled back.

"Amara, are you even listening to me?"

Green eyes blinked and the girl raised her eyes from the screen to look at Dinah Lance. Her blonde hair was falling into her tired blue eyes, but she at least looked a great deal better than Amara did.

"I'm listening," Amara said.

Black Canary rested her hands on her protégé's shoulders. "You need rest Amara, your mother and father are worried…and so am I. You're letting this consume you."

But how could she not?

"He's my friend," Amara said, her voice so quiet that it was nearly a whisper, but the level at which she spoke didn't matter, because the Cave was silent at all hours and any noise made by those within was greatly amplified (great acoustics for when Dinah used her Canary Cry on her during spars).

"Would he want you to exhaust yourself looking for him?" Dinah pressed, her face somber as she took in Amara's face.

Her green eyes were a little wild from too little sleep and her cheeks held more color than usual, something which only added to her fevered appearance, her fingers were twitching and she had to keep switching from putting her weight on her left foot to her right.

Amara scowled, her lips drawing into a thin line and a crease appearing between her eyebrows. "I think he'd want to be found, actually," she said shortly, turning back to the screen.

"How can we be sure LexCorps isn't behind this?" Amara added, gesturing towards the floating images of Speedy, but the images only seemed to blur together as she looked at them over and over again. "Speedy and GA were investigating them, right? They had motive."

Especially when LexCorps was headed by Lex Luthor who was well known for his dealings in Metropolis as a wealthy businessman that had always been at odds against Superman, however, it had been suspected that LexCorps' dealings were not all as legitimate as they seemed, which was why Speedy and Green Arrow had been given the task to look into them.

"There is no evidence that LexCorps is involved in Speedy's disappearance," Dinah explained patiently. "Amara, I will call your mother if I have to."

Amara's expression soured at that. "You are a very manipulative mentor, Black Canary."

"Maybe you're just incredibly stubborn, Storm Chaser," Dinah offered instead. "C'mon, Flash is waiting on the other side of the zeta in Central City and if you don't show up there in the next five minutes, he is going to come here and physically haul you back to your room."

Amara's scowl deepened at that and she reached over to grab her jacket, throwing it over her shoulders, turning the hood up so it almost fell it her eyes, giving her the impression of an extremely petulant child, which wasn't entirely inaccurate given her age and how she was currently feeling.

"Fine, but I'll be back in the morning," Amara retorted as the holographic computer faded away and she strode towards the zeta-tube.

"Recognize –Storm Chaser, B00."

She appeared two miles away from where she lived, but two miles didn't really matter if you could fly in a cloud, or if you were in a family of speedsters, and luckily for Amara, both applied to her.

"Hey, kiddo."

Barry was smiling at her, but he rarely wasn't; her father was a very easy-going man, that much had been obvious to Amara to start with.

"Ready to catch some shut-eye?" he asked her, cocking an eyebrow and Amara's cheeks flushed. She had hardly been at home since Roy's disappearance and she knew both her parents worried about her, but she couldn't stop.

"Um, yeah," she said and he offered his arms to her, something he had done since the moment they had met, since Amara had been nervous around him to start with.

And Amara wrapped her arms around her father's neck, his arms sweeping under the crook of her legs and around her back, and then he was running and the wind was whipping her face and she'd left her stomach behind by about three blocks.

She'd almost forgotten how it was to be carried by someone who could run as fast as Barry Allen could, and it was almost as exhilarating as the first time Amara had attempted to fly.

So Amara tried not to think of how upset Barry and Iris were going to be in the morning when they found her bed empty and her gear gone.

"Amy, time to get up!"

Iris rapped on the closed door once before opening it and freezing as she looked within.

Amara's bed was made, looking as though it hadn't been slept in, even though Iris had watched her daughter climb into at nearly midnight when Barry had brought her back. Her closet doors were open and Iris could see a few articles of clothing missing and Iris' heart-rate was elevating at the thought of Amara running around in the middle of nowhere searching for her lost friend.

Iris glanced to her daughter's desk where beside the picture of Amara with her parents was a picture of Amara in her Storm Chaser uniform beside Black Canary and Green Arrow and Speedy, all four were grinning (Speedy a bit reluctantly). Barry had been a bit leery about Amara having the picture out in the open –secret identities and all– but all of Amara's friends (therefore anyone who would be likely to spend time in Amara's room)- were either related to someone in the Justice League, or were the sidekicks of Leaguers.

"Barry!" she called, rushing out of the room and down the stairs.

"Iris?" The worry in her husband's voice jarred her as he brought her to a stop with his eyes alone. "What's wrong?"

"Amy's gone," she gasped. "She must've taken some clothes and left in the night!"

She watched the color drain from her husband's face, and then his Flash uniform was out of the ring that contained it and then she was up in his arms and they were out the door and he didn't set her down until they were in the zeta-tube.

"Recognize: Flash, 04; Iris West-Allen, A14."

Barry's eyes were hidden behind his red cowl, but Iris knew that her husband's eyes were narrowed and darting around the Cave as Black Canary rushed forward, a muscle jumping in her jaw.

"She's gone, Barry," Dinah said, "she must have come in the early morning and grabbed her gear."

But then Barry was gone in a flash of red that darted through Mount Justice, searching for any trace of Amara Allen that could be found, even though there was none.

"I didn't think she would be so foolish to go off on her own, I'm so sorry," Dinah apologized, her words as regretful as her expression.

"It's not your fault," Iris disagreed, giving her a weak smile that broke quickly. "Amara is…an unrelenting force of nature."

Her abilities became her. Amara Allen was a tempestuous storm and the calm clouds after a heavy rain, she was relenting and relentless depending on the situation.

"I guess she got that from you," Black Canary joked and Iris choked on a laugh before falling silent quite suddenly.

"Do you think she'll find him?" she whispered, her voice echoing.

Dinah didn't speak. If she was honest, completely honest, she didn't think Amara had the kind of skill required to discover where Roy was, but she was sure the girl could get into contact with someone who did. Amara was nothing if not resourceful; Dinah gathered that this was a skill she had picked up when she had spent time with the Weather Wizard.

But before she could keep her silence further, Barry had appeared in front of them looking uncharacteristically annoyed.

"She left her phone in her room and her extra comm.-link in her makeshift one here," he said with grudging respect. She was his daughter, and she was going to be grounded as soon as he saw her again, that was for certain, but he had to admire her ability to work off the grid.

But she was still grounded, massively grounded, maybe grounded until she was sixteen…that sounded like a plan.

"She learned from the best," Black Canary sighed.

"Is it possible she could reach out to Ollie?" Iris' eyes implored her and they reminded Dinah startlingly of whenever Amara begged her for a mission, her fingers clasped together and her eyes huge as she said please over and over again. Maybe the only thing that Iris West-Allen shared with her daughter was her green eyes that were a few shades off of Amara's, but Amara was every bit Iris and Barry's child even if she hadn't been born to them.

"She could," Dinah had to concede, "GA is Speedy's mentor, and he's probably the only one working harder than her on finding him…"

"But?" Barry pressed.

"He's also the one she knows we'll look to," Black Canary said. "I'd think she'd try her hand at finding him on her own first before turning to someone else for help; she's stubborn, not prideful, and she'll do whatever it takes to find him."

Iris gripped Barry's hand tightly.

"That's what I'm worried about," he muttered. "She's ten, Dinah, ten years old, all alone in the world…she's our daughter, we have a right to be worried."

"You do," Black Canary said gently, "but she's my protégé, Barry, she's my responsibility as well…we will find her, I promise we will."

Though whether or not it would be before they found Roy remained to be seen. Roy may have tried to seem aloof, especially when they had first met, but the pair of them worked well together and had an easy banter. Dinah and Oliver had been relieved that they hadn't been antagonistic towards each other, since they'd have to work together, as Black Canary and Green Arrow did.

Barry probably could have scoured the whole country looking for Amara, but even if he did, she'd be out of the door before the night was done.

As Jay would say, "Better for her to get it out of her system."

But Amara was ten years old and alone. Barry didn't like the idea of her being without him or Iris or Dinah, especially in a world that she knew so little about, even if she thought different.

She would come back, that much Barry knew, how long it would take was the real question.

She was a darting shadow in Gotham that Robin was trailing after quite intently. Batman had sent him after her after catching sight of her leaping over rooftops. At first, Robin had thought she was Catwoman (she had a nasty habit of showing up in Gotham unannounced), but she was far too small in stature and her hair was a slate grey, very different from Catwoman's black.

There was only one person registered in the Justice League database that had that hair that color –barring the Weather Wizard, of course– and that was Storm Chaser, the protégé to Black Canary who was MIA for two weeks now.

"Stop!" he called when she leapt over another rooftop (how was she doing that so easily with her body seeming weightless on the air? Even he couldn't do that!), but she was too fleet-footed, and that was saying something as Robin was pretty quick on his feet.

Storm Chaser ignored him, sailing through the air to land lightly on her feet, sending a ripple of annoyance through Robin as he followed after her.

He didn't know why Batman had sent him after her in the first place; if it had been his mentor, he would have caught her much sooner (Robin was so going to get reamed for that later), but at the same time he was glad that Batman was trusting him to do things on his own.

And desperate times called for desperate measures.

He released the grappler and it snagged her arm, catching her off guard, though not as much as when Robin used it to drag her back from the edge of the building and she crashed to the ground with a painful grunt.

Green eyes fixed him with a stare that was nearly a glower as he came up beside her.

"You must be the Bat's little bird," she said with a smirk.

"Robin," the Boy Wonder corrected her, getting the feeling that she was going to give him a headache. "You should have stopped."

Storm Chaser blinked at him blankly from behind her mask and then she shook her head, dusting herself off as she stood, loosening the grappling line that had been wrapped around her arm.

Robin had seen her file in the Batcave, he knew all about who her father was, but her mother's information was so encrypted that he hadn't been able to crack it (he'd give it a few months before trying again). He knew she was his age, but it was still annoying that she had a good few inches on him.

"I don't have much time to chat," she remarked coolly and Robin could practically feel the wind picking up around them as much as he could see the tips of Storm Chaser's fingers sparking with electricity.

But then she suddenly tensed, her teeth gritting together and Robin could see a few drops of blood peppering the ground as she remained stationary.

"You're injured," he noticed.

"Really? It slipped my mind," Storm Chaser retorted, pressing a hand to her injured side, gingerly feeling the depth of the wound before coming to the decision that the pain was manageable.

"So," she continued, "going to try to drag me back to your mentor?"

He gave her an odd look behind his domino mask and she released a short laugh that cut off suddenly as she choked, the laugh having aggravated her wound.

"It wouldn't be the first time I've had to dodge a Leaguer," she said with a half-shrug. "Green Lantern almost caught me in Maine, and Flash has been after me from the start."

Her expression –though still mostly hidden– soured at that, owing, undoubtedly to the fact that the Flash was her adoptive father (this Robin knew, as it had been in her file as well).

She gave him a mocking salute that had Robin cocking an eyebrow as she moved to the edge of the building that overlooked Miller Harbor.

"You move very well for a bird with no wings," she added, feeling the need to get one last word in despite the fact that Robin hadn't said much to begin with.

Robin was sure she had winked, but in the layer of darkness and with the mask hiding all but her eyes it was difficult to tell.

And then she startled him by leaping backwards off the building, hovering briefly in midair before flying right into the dark clouds that hung over Gotham City.

Robin blinked his eyes a few times before shaking his head. All those bird references were annoying (it was even more annoying that the metahuman sidekick could actually fly when he could only glide).

Meanwhile, Amara had chosen the lesser of two evils and had taken a zeta-tube (immediately erasing any indication of her using it) to Star City and found the first payphone in sight and then she forked up a few coins, pressing them through the slot and punching in the number that Dinah had had her memorize in case of emergencies.

It was picked up almost immediately. "Who is this?" the voice demanded on the other end.

"It's me," Amara said, glancing around furtively. Normally she would have said her own name, but since she was in such a public place, that wasn't going to happen. "Storm Warning."

She grimaced as she said it, reminding herself of the boy she had been incapable of finding.

There was a sharp intake of breath on the other end. "Amy?" he demanded. "Where are you?"

"Um…" Amara looked around for any indicators of where she was. "I'm close to Hyde Park," she said. "Can I meet you at your storage spaces?"

"Yeah, sure," Green Arrow said immediately. "Adams Heights?"

"I'll be there," Amara promised before hanging up and stepping out of the phone booth to meet the eyes of a teenaged boy who was gaping at her appearance.

"What's the matter?" she snapped. "Never seen a cosplay?"

Amara was settled in one of the chairs, her shirt lifted to expose the wound that had been cleaned and was currently being stitched up by the steady hands of Oliver Queen.

"I thought you were going to call my dad," she commented, her face twisted into a wince.

"Oh, I will," Oliver said, "once we've got everything all sorted out."

Amara's eyebrows drew together in confusion. "What d'you mean?"

He didn't say anything at first, simply finishing with her stitching job which was a much better job than what she would have done.

"Did you find anything out?" he asked her.

"I found an oddity when I was looking through LexCorps finances," Amara said, covering the stitched and bandaged flesh and swiveling the chair to face the computer and sliding a new flash drive into its slot and pulling up the information that Green Arrow and Speedy had gathered before his disappearance. Her fingers darted across the keyboard. "It's called Europa Industries, only it doesn't exist in any of the databases I've searched for, so, red flags obviously."

"Obviously," Oliver agreed, "but I assume you did find something, otherwise you wouldn't reek like the Gotham swamp."

Amara's cheeks pinked with color. "That was an accidental detour." And it was also where she'd clumsily gotten herself injured. "Europa Industries had several addresses connected to its file; one in Gotham City, one in San Francisco, one in Maine, and the last one just outside Star City. I've checked all of them except for the one closest to Star City, and they're all empty plots."

"However, the last one is a sponsored private hospital," Green Arrow interjected, taking control of the keyboard and pulling up an image of a three-story white building with the name Compton General Hospital and the Europa Industries emblem, the white bull, rested beside it. "And that's likely where Roy is."

"You already knew all of that?" Amara asked sourly, looking greatly irritated, her cheeks puffing out as she glowered at him.

"Most of it," Oliver admitted. But then again he was more seasoned at being a hero and investigating things like what Amara had done when looking for Roy.

"Great," she muttered under her breath.

"Are you going to come with me to break him out?" he asked her and she immediately perked up.

Not soon afterwards was she on the back of Oliver's bike and they were racing down the street, heading out of town and into the night.

The time it took to reach the hospital in question lasted far longer than Amara could handle, but at long last they had reached their destination.

But something was off, very off.

"It's a bit quiet, don't you think?" she whispered to Oliver as she pulled herself off the back of the bike, pulling her night-vision goggles over her eyes. Hospitals were open at all hours with differing shifts so that doctors and nurses and any other employees were always available.

Oliver nodded in contemplation, extending a comm.-link to her before putting in his own. "Air duct?"

He nodded towards the duct in question and Amara's eyes gleamed. "On it."

Honestly, it was child's play and a bit concerning how easily she could sneak into a hospital, but as duty called…

She moved carefully and as silently as she could before she came out into an opening that led out into the nurse's station.

"It's deserted," she said.

"Amara Pamela Allen," a third voice seethed that belonged to the one person she had dutifully ignoring for the past two weeks, coming no doubt from the JLA frequency that all Leaguers had (when Oliver said he was going to call her Dad afterwards, this wasn't her idea of 'afterwards').

"Dad!" Amara squeaked, bracing a hand against the nurse's station counter. "What're you—?"

"What do you think you're doing?" he demanded and Amara could hear the wind whistling past him.

"Not now Flash," Green Arrow snapped, "you two can work out your family problems after this. Storm Chaser, do you see anything at the front doors?"

Amara looked to the locked double doors. "Oh, crap."

"What is it?" both men asked.

"Looks like a wired explosive," Amara said, seeing the laser tripwire before twisting to look to the windows. "Same at the windows…overkill."

"Do you see anything that would indicate why it's deserted?" Oliver's voice echoed in her ear.

"Hang on, there's a computer here…" Amara muttered, moving around the counter to insert her hacking flash drive into the slot and a blue screen appeared shortly before it unlocked completely.


Her eyes swept over the words, stopping briefly over the word Cadmus. She frowned; why did that sound so familiar? Then she shook her head, focusing on the task at hand.

"It says it was classified as a hazardous location," she said. "Everyone cleared out in a hurry."

"Do a sweep for Speedy, your goggles have thermal scanning, don't they?" Green Arrow asked.

Amara could practically feel Barry glaring at her from beyond the building (because he had to have made it to their location by now).

"Um…yeah, hang on…" She raised her hands to her goggles, twisting a knob at the side, switching it so she could view heat signatures.

Her heart jumped and then she was rushing up the stairs, breathless with anticipation at the sight of the only heart signature in the building.

"Roy!" she gasped when she finally saw him.

He was unconscious and half-naked with his torso exposed and his feet bare. An IV drip and something to keep him under were set up beside him and he barely stirred as she pressed a hand to his chest, her knees nearly buckling in relief.

"He's there?"

"He's alive?" Oliver choked.

"He's alive," Amara breathed as she pulled the needles out of his arm. "C'mon, Roy, we're getting out of here."

"What are you—"

Two bodies were flung suddenly through the window and the laser went off shortly before the entire building exploded and all four were hit with a wave of heat and thrown back.

"I think I broke my arm," Amara hissed, looking towards Roy's still-slumbering form. "You owe me big time, mister."

And she grimaced as the Flash rested his hands on his hips and gave her his best glare. She was so dead.

Chapter Text

Iris stepped into the hospital room that had been set aside for Amara at the Hall of Justice, just across the hall from the one holding Roy who was still unconscious from whatever had occurred during his time missing in action.


Amara was scowling at the doctor that had finished setting her broken arm and Iris couldn't help but sag in relief at the sight of her daughter looking for the most part uninjured. Her eyes roved over Amara's visible injuries; she could see the broken arm clearly, as well as a few cuts and bruises to the side of her face, and a taped rib under her shirt.

"Amara Pamela Allen," Iris said in exasperation as she strode forward and Amara –understandably– winced as she grinned sheepishly towards her.

"Hey, Mom…long time no see," Amara said in what she clearly thought was a voice to win over her mother.

"Don't take that tone with me," Iris reproached as she came forward to inspect Amara, touching her cheeks lightly where the skin was unbroken and unbruised. "You're in so much trouble."

Amara grimaced again at that. "How big're we talking? Like—?"

"Huge," Iris supplied. "Massive, colossal."

Amara braced herself for the dam to break.

"What were you thinking?" Iris demanded. "Ten years old and running off to find your friend without a word to your father or I! Do you have any idea how worried we were?"

Amara recoiled on the hospital bed in the face of her mother's anger. Iris' eyes held a fire she had hardly seen before, the one that was usually only present when she yelled at her husband when he returned home after a battle, his injuries still healing.

"I understand how much you wanted to find Roy," Iris continued (being one of a number that knew Speedy's true identity). "And I understand why you felt the need to try to find him, but Amara you are only ten years old, you can't just run off into the darkness on your own! What if something terrible had happened to you?"

Her daughter chewed on the corner of her lower lip, undoubtedly trying to come up with a suitable response to Iris' words, but in the end she didn't seem to come up with one.

"Sorry," she muttered out, her eyes shifting awkwardly away from her mother.

Iris deflated slightly, releasing a sigh as she did so. She knew Amara was sorry, she could see it on her face; the green-eyed sidekick wasn't as adept at hiding her feelings as she believed.

The red-haired reporter cupped her daughter's cheeks gingerly and leaned forward to press a kiss to her uninjured forehead.

"I know you're sorry, sweetie, but that doesn't make it any better," she said, her eyes soft. "Don't you ever scare us like that again, alright?"

"I promise," Amara said, and the sincerity in her tone couldn't have been faked.

Iris embraced her gently, keeping a wary eye on where her injuries were so that she wouldn't aggravate them. "You're grounded," she told her once she'd released her grip on the metahuman. "No missions for two and a half months."

Amara opened her mouth, gaping at her mother in horror. No missions for two and a half months? That was the worst sort of punishment she could give Amara! No kicking villains butts with Black Canary or driving Roy's motorbike as he fired arrows at their enemies (Oliver had been the one to teach her to drive one with the promise of buying her her own when she was older, which she assumed to be around the age of fourteen or fifteen, going off of when Roy got his) or throwing off bolts of lightning that shocked their enemies.

But then she drew short at the look her mother was giving her, the one that clearly said that she deserved the punishment she was getting and if she complained, it could only get worse, and Iris was the more lenient of the two; Barry would have probably upped it to six months.

"Can she come home with us?" Iris asked the doctor that had set Amara's broken arm and cleaned her cuts.

The woman lifted her eyes from the clipboard she had been inspecting to give off the impression that she wasn't listening in on the conversation between mother and daughter. "We'd like to keep her overnight, if that's alright with you," the doctor said, "she received a concussion in the explosion and we want to keep an eye on it."

"Can I stay in Roy's room?" Amara asked immediately, her green eyes pleading towards her mother who automatically wanted to say no, because she knew how much rest Amara needed and if she was in the same room as Roy (definitely in very separate beds) she would try to keep herself up just to keep an eye on him than get any rest of her own. But Amara would be even less likely to do so if she was kept in another room.

"We can move another cot into his room," the doctor offered, "as long as his IV drip isn't disturbed…and a doctor can check on them every half hour to make sure everything is alright."

The latter part was directed towards Iris and flew entirely over Amara's head.

She gave them both an odd look. "Roy's not going to do anything to me…he's unconscious…"

Iris gave her a smile and swept a stray strand of Amara's grey hair behind one ear. "Fine," she said at long last and Amara pumped one fist in excitement before abruptly wincing and Iris gave a sigh of exasperation.

The constant beeping of the heart monitor was entirely too irksome on Roy's seemingly heightened senses…he blamed whatever drugs he'd been shot up with.

Roy peeled his eyes open at long last, grateful that the room he was in was dark and he released a sharp sigh of relief at the sight of the Justice League symbol painted onto the wall. He didn't know where he'd been for how long he'd been gone, but he did know he'd missed being home.

He'd missed Green Arrow and Black Canary's shameless flirting and how Amara always cocked an eyebrow but didn't comment on it. He'd missed hearing the jibe of "Arrowhead" that was always followed by "Storm Warning". He'd missed how his adoptive father ruffled his hair and smiled when he did something that impressed him.

Roy blinked a few times to clear the haze over his eyes and leaned forward slightly before noticing how his body felt like lead and leaning back once more. And this was when he noticed the weight on top of his hand.

He lifted his eyes to look to it in surprise.

A smaller hand rested lightly on it, outstretched from the bed beside his, one finger hooked around his hand so as to keep the hand locked on his while its owner slept on.

Her grey hair was spilling across her face, looking more spiky and less poofy than it had been when they first met ("You look like you've been playing with an electric socket." "Oh, stuff it, Arrowhead."), but her hair couldn't hide the purpling bruises mottling her face in conjunction with a number of cuts, and the blanket that had been thrown over her didn't hide the new cast on her arm.

On the opposite side of the bed was Amara's father still wearing his Flash uniform only with the cowl drawn back to expose his head of blonde hair as he slept with his arms crossed loosely, leaning back slightly in his chair.

Roy turned to his opposite side to discover he too had someone watching over him.

Oliver was slumped against his hospital bed, his face hidden by his arms, but Roy knew that he was far too tense to be sleeping as Barry was.

The red-haired archer released a loud sigh and Oliver raised his head, his exposed face lined with relief as he saw his adoptive son and sidekick awake.

"Roy," he murmured, and Roy knew that was more to keep the Allens from awakening beside him than for the red-head's own benefit. "You're awake."

"I know," Roy said annoyed, but his voice didn't quite make it. It was a croaky rasp from disuse and Roy could practically hear Amara crowing in his head about it ("I know your voice is supposed to crack, but I don't think it's supposed to crack that much!").

Oliver's mustache twitched as he smiled. "At least your attitude is still intact."

Roy would've glared at the man if the act of doing so wouldn't give him a headache and then he looked back to Amara who was still fast asleep. She looked younger than he remembered, but maybe that was because he hadn't seen her with so many injuries at one time.

"What happened to her?" he asked quietly.

For a moment there was a tense silence in which Oliver considered how his sidekick would respond to the truth of the matter.

"She got those breaking you out," he said and Roy's head predictably snapped towards him and he stared at him wide-eyed.

She liked him, sure, he'd known that for awhile, after all, Amara had told him she only had two friends, him and her cousin, but to go off and risk her life to find him…that wasn't the careful and methodical Amara Allen that he remembered.

"And you let her?" Somehow the idea of Oliver just letting a ten year old Metahuman with a tendency to shock people into unconsciousness (whether by accident or on purpose remained to be seen) go off on her own seemed very unlikely, even given how lax Oliver could be.

Oliver snorted at the thought. "Don't be ridiculous," he scoffed, "she was MIA for two weeks before she met up with me, and the only reason she broke you out was because she was the only one small enough to fit through the air duct without detection."

Amara was very flexible, her movements fluid like a cat (Roy wondered if she'd met Catwoman), and her small size was certainly a plus. He'd lost count how many times they'd used her size to their advantage, which usually involved Amara causing a distraction behind their enemies.

"The hospital we found you in was abandoned," Green Arrow told him, causing his thoughts to shift to the present once more, "and wired to explode. Amy tripped the explosion when she grabbed you and threw both of you out the window."

Roy stared at him like he'd only just seen his adoptive father clearly since he'd awakened.

"She…tripped explosives…knowing she was tripping explosives?" Roy asked blankly.

"Well," the corner of Oliver's lips twisted upwards slightly, "Dinah hasn't gotten into defusing bombs yet in her training."

"What a travesty," Roy remarked dryly as Amara shifted in her cot, a crease forming between her eyes as she slept on, though it was difficult to tell if it was from her dream or from the broken arm set in a cast that she was currently sleeping on.

Roy hid a wince; that couldn't feel good.

"She's going to have almost three months to work on it."

"What're you talking about?" Roy gave him a look of confusion at those words.

"She's been grounded for going MIA," Oliver said, leaning back in his seat. "No missions for two and a half months."

That was…disappointing.

Roy scowled as he looked back to his friend still in the throes of sleep. The little idiot.

It was three weeks into Amara's exile and one week since Roy had been released from the Justice League's medical ward declared at full health.

There hadn't been hardly a peep from Amara, which wasn't so uncommon, considering how she was sometimes unnervingly quiet. She'd blubbered over him when she'd awoken that day in the hospital room and Roy had patted her back awkwardly, trying not to aggravate her arm.

"Don't you ever get kidnapped again," she'd warned.

"You're just saying that 'cause you're the one that's grounded," he'd retorted and she'd jabbed him sharply in the ribs with one finger.

So Roy found himself outside the house that he could only assume was the Allens; Dinah had texted it to him without much of an explanation.

He looked at the box in his hands and sighed. Storm Warning was making him soft, he swore. She was like a viral fungus that literally grew on you and you couldn't get rid of…and he had a feeling she'd snigger at that analogy.

He knocked twice on the crimson door, wondering if the Flash had this thing about his signature color, and then the door opened to expose Amara Allen.

The cuts and bruises that had once covered a good portion of her face had faded and healed, but her arm was still in a sling. And her hair was black.

Roy couldn't accept it.

"I don't like the hair," he told her before anything else could be said.

Amara blinked in surprise before bursting out laughing, as if that was the thing she'd least expected from him.

"Well, the grey hair is kind of my trademark," she sniggered, raising a hand to the single earring dangling from her right lobe, a silver chair ending in a swinging small ruby. "Dad got it for me from Zatara; it was red first, but I decided I liked black better."

Roy considered her, trying to imagine her with red hair and he just couldn't.

He must've made a face because Amara giggled as she opened the door wider to let him in, and that was when her eyes caught the box in his arms.

"What'cha got?" Green eyes went wide. "Ooh! Raspberry muffins!"

A kickass Bird of Prey might've mentioned Amara's love of raspberries to Roy as a backhanded way of saying "She's grounded because she went after your sorry ass, so the least you can do is bring her something with her favorite food in it."

She shut the door and grabbed the box from him in an awkward manner that had more to do with the fact that her arm was in a sling than it was broken.

Roy chanced a look around the Allens house with mild interest. It was nothing like Oliver's place, that was for sure, but it was very homey.

There was a fireplace that was alight and flickering to stave off the cold brought on by winter and there were a number of pictures adorning the room, some with Amara's mother and father, some with all three Allens, and some with a red-haired boy with green eyes like Amara's and two people that must have been his parents, and there was one with Amara and the red-haired boy sitting with an older couple, all four all smiling.

"Grandparents?" he guessed, looking back at her in time to catch her removing a muffin and taking a generous bite out of it.

"Nope," Amara said once she'd swallowed, "Henry Allen died in prison and Nora Allen was murdered, and Mom's parents were in a car crash a few years before she and Dad met me."

Roy stared at her. "Wow."

Amara snorted humorlessly. "Wait until you find out who my biological father is," she said, but she didn't elaborate. "Anyways, those are the Garricks, Jay and Joan, they're kinda like me and Wally's grandparents…kinda." She squinted at him for good measure.

Wally…that was her cousin. Roy remembered her mentioning him…actually, she talked about him a lot; he was her closest friend on top of being her cousin after all.

"I'm not very good at making friends," he told her and she tilted her head slightly in a cat-like manner (he swore the day she met Catwoman was the day he called quits on his career as a Leaguer).

"That's 'cause you've got a stick up your butt," she informed him and his mouth gaped at her. "Once you get past that, you're pretty fine."

"Stick up my butt?" he repeated dubiously, shortly followed by, "Pretty fine? What d'you mean pretty fine?"

Amara waved her hand carelessly. "We've all got problems, Arrowhead, some of us just choose to wear ours on the inside."

Roy's eye twitched and the rest of her giggles were hidden as she swallowed a bit more of her muffin, her eyes glancing over him as though searching for something unseen, something that would say he wasn't quite healed from his kidnapping, but she didn't find anything.

"How are you?" she asked, fixing him with a look that he wasn't familiar with.

"Fine," Roy said evasively, but Amara cocked an eyebrow at that, not believing him for a second. "I'm doing better," he then acquiesced and Amara accepted that response better.

"What about you?"

The metahuman blinked as he gestured towards her arm in its sling. "I'll be good as new," she promised with a sheepish grin, "the break's not as bad as it seems, and I'm a metahuman, so I'll heal faster than usual." Faster than a typical human, but definitely not faster than Barry; his ability to heal so fast was one of the most aggravating things Amara had come across in her short life. "Better me than you, right?"

Roy's eyebrows drew together in confusion.

"Well, it'd be hard to fire an arrow with a broken arm," Amara had to admit.

She was grinning widely at him and Roy shook his head; she was entirely too cheerful about her injury (and herself in general). What had he done to deserve a partner with such a sunny disposition for their stormy nature?

Christmas was one of the best times of the year, especially in the Allen family. Wally's family and the Garricks would come over for Christmas dinner and then they'd open presents.

Amara hadn't seen Wally since before she'd gone rogue and had only spoken to him over the phone, since she was grounded, and the first thing he did when he saw her was hug her o tightly that she swore she saw stars.

"W-Wally! Can't breathe!" she gasped before her red-haired cousin released her with a sheepish expression and she massaged her ribs for good measure.

"Sorry," he said apologetically, his green eyes frantically taking her in as if she would still have any of her injuries (aside from the broken arm still in a sling). "It's been so boring without you!"

Amara scratched her cheek sheepishly at that with her one good arm. "Sorry," she said, "I'm grounded for another month and a half."

Wally pouted. "You won't get to see me put on the Kid Flash uniform for the first time!" he complained. Wally's thirteenth birthday had come while she was off trying to find Roy, but the uniform was still in the process of being made at S.T.A.R. Labs, so he wasn't yet patrolling the streets with Barry, much to his disappointment.

"I patrol in Star City, Wally," Amara said with a snort as Wally's parents moved past the pair to greet Barry and Iris. "I probably wouldn't see it anyways."

"Aw, don't rain on my parade!"

Amara rolled her eyes for good measure as another car pulled into the driveway, one that she immediately recognized as Jay's.

"Dad! Jay's here!"

She was out the door before her father could utter a reply with Wally at her heels, throwing his arms around Jay, vibrating in excitement as the first Flash caught him easily with a laugh that sounded much younger than the body it belonged to. Amara, on the other hand, went for Joan who gave her a kindly smile that softened her eyes as she carefully embraced the girl she considered to be a granddaughter.

"Hello, Amara," Joan chuckled lightly, "I hear you've been making waves."

Amara's cheeks flushed a red at that. Jay was not so out of the loop that he wouldn't have heard about Amara upping and disappearing in the night, and if Jay knew, then Joan definitely knew.

"Only a few small ones," Amara wheedled, making the older woman chuckle slightly and ruffle the metahuman's hair with one hand, looking around in interest as the cold-whipping wind seemed to avoid them, as did the swirling flurries.

She looked down to Amara who was grinning widely before Joan allowed her to be tugged inside into the warmth.

Dinner was great, heaping piles of food that made Amara's mouth water. The non-speedsters got first pick of food, obviously, because they didn't have such a heightened metabolism as their companions. Wally pouted a bit at that, but he still ate more food than Iris and Amara combined (though still not as much as Barry).

No one mentioned Amara's disappearance, which was the thing she had been worried most about, the verbal chewing out. She had a feeling Uncle Rudy and Aunt Mary would have been the least understanding, given the fact that they themselves were not in the League, but the only brief mention of it was when Amara had been with Joan.

And Amara was glad, especially glad with how understanding her own parents were, because they'd understood even through their anger towards her for disappearing without telling them. Anyone else would have probably kept her off active duty for anywhere to six months to a year.

"Presents!" Wally cried, distracting Amara from her thoughts as he dragged her into the living room by her free arm, where a tree had been set up some weeks ago (Amara had only been able to decorate the bottom half).

The stockings were filled mostly with chocolate and Wally made a face at Amara's dark chocolate, but she liked dark chocolate, it tasted way better than the mild chocolate he liked so much.

And then there was a small pile around her as Wally went about sorting the gift pile at super-speed, much to the exasperation of his parents and the amusement of the speedsters.

The first gift was from Dinah, Amara could tell from the slanting handwriting and she opened it silently, reading the letter taped to it first.


Knowing you, you can't wait to be back on active duty, and GA, Speedy, and I miss having you around; I think we're coming to rely on you, if you ask me (Amara smiled at that). I know you aren't one to fall behind in training, but I thought this might help as something you can use offensively and defensively.


Amara's hands roved over the items that lay within and she smiled, feeling the sleek metal of the expandable batons that could undoubtedly form a bo-staff.

It was perfect.

Chapter Text

"I can't believe you!" Amara bemoaned, burying her face into her pillow and grumbling for good measure as her cousin stood in front of her, grinning widely in his Kid Flash outfit.

Wally had just gotten back from his first patrol with Barry as the Flash's sidekick and he'd met his first super-criminal, Captain Cold, a thief armed with a cold gun to combat against Flash and Kid Flash's speed, as cold was the stanch opposite of speed.

There was a patch of ice melting on Wally's left shoulder pad and a more significant piece on his right arm, but Wally's eyes were bright and his freckled cheeks were flushed with color.

"I would give anything for a super-criminal!" Amara complained, lifting her head to scowl at the boy in question. "Being grounded is the worst!"

"At least it's almost done," Wally offered easily and Amara threw him a betrayed look.

"You're not supposed to side with them!" She accused. "You're supposed to side with me, you're my best friend!"

Wally gave her a sheepish grin and shrugged his shoulders helplessly before an eager expression flitted across his face. "Hey, did I tell you after we got Captain Cold locked up that we ran over to Gotham?"

That got Amara's attention and she narrowed her eyes suspiciously. "Gotham? Isn't that a bit far for you?"

Wally glowered.

"What? It's an honest question," she said with a bit of a defensive note to her voice. "What if you'd completely exhausted yourself on the way over and completely burned yourself out?"

"Have you ever done that?" Wally countered with a question himself and Amara could tell she'd hit the nail on the head with how he quickly averted his eyes, becoming a bit flustered.

Amara smiled slyly. She would bet anything that the pair had to make a brief pit stop along the way in order for Wally to consume something that would give him energy to burn.

"Three times," Amara admitted, fiddling with the strap of her sling. Her arm was almost completely healed and her grounding period was nearly completed and she couldn't wait to be back out on the streets. On the upside, she was ahead on her studies for the first time in forever (only Iris and Barry could call that an upside; Amara just scowled whenever her schooling was brought up). "Lightning storms was difficult to control and even harder to create from scratch."

One she had been attempting to control had proved far too straining for Amara to contain at the same time as keeping herself hovering in the air, and Amara had passed out midair.

Roy had had to catch her with one of his grappling arrows before she could become nothing more than a splat on the ground (well, maybe not a splat, but something remarkably similar).

"But I only almost killed myself once," she added cheerfully and Wally goggled at her for good measure.

"You are completely insane," he decided with a finality of one who had at long last come to a startling realization, which was incredibly ironic given how many years he had known Amara.

"Sometimes you've just got to crash the mode," Amara said with a careless shrug, seeming not to care about her supposed insanity. "Live a little, Wally, or you might become boring."

"Boring?" Her cousin spluttered, his expression aghast and Amara couldn't help but giggle at the sight of it on his face.

"I won't become boring!" he declared with certainty.

"Mmhm," Amara hummed in a dry tone, deftly ducking under the pillow he aimed at her head. "So you went to Gotham?" They had completely drifted away from the point of the earlier conversation and Amara only just remembered what they'd been speaking of.

"Oh, yeah!" Wally said, grinning widely. "Met Batman! It was so cool!"

"Was he as silent and brooding as Dad says?" Amara asked in curiosity. She had never met the Dark Knight, mostly because most of her time was spent either in Central City or in Star City, but he was one of the founding members of the Justice League and a bit well known for being somber and serious.

"Even more so," Wally agreed, bouncing on her bed by vibrating his limbs a bit too much until Amara shocked him with two fingers. "You've never met him?"

Amara shook her head. "I haven't met too many of the Leaguers." She ticked them off on her fingers. "I've met: Black Canary, Green Arrow, Flash (obviously), Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman, once…she's totally awesome! But not Batman."

"Well, he had his sidekick with him," Wally continued, slightly happy that he had something under his belt that Amara didn't, especially when one considered she'd started much earlier than him.

"Robin?" Amara asked, arching an eyebrow as she lifted her head from where she'd previously flopped down onto her bed.

"You've met him, then?"

"Not technically," Amara wheedled, screwing up her face slightly. "Our paths crossed when I was in Gotham…looking for Speedy. He snagged me with his grappler and dragged me across the ground before I dived off the building."

"You don't sound too upset about it," Wally noticed.

"Well, it's not like he was a bad guy," Amara had to concede. "And GA stitched me up afterwards—"

"He made you need stitches?" Wally asked, startled as he looked at her, his mouth gaping.

"No, I already needed stitches at that point," Amara said, waving a careless hand. "But the point is…we haven't really spoken, but you have, so, do you like him?"

"I suppose he's alright," Wally uttered evasively.

Amara's eyes glinted slightly. "He's already your new best friend, isn't he?"

Wally didn't bother to deny that.

The day Amara got her cast off was the day she ran around the Cave cart-wheeling and doing a number of handstands that ultimately resulted in her crumpling to the ground with the lack of strength in the arm that was now healed. But that didn't stop her from doing it a few dozen times.

Or course, getting back to full strength was another matter entirely, as she hadn't been keeping up with her training in order to focus all of her energy on healing. This led Dinah to pound her into the ground, even the day she had her cast removed.

Then she was dragged by Black Canary to the Queen manor for lunch with Oliver and Roy.

"He's insisting that you at least eat a spoonful of his chili," Dinah told her as they stepped over the threshold, faintly amused and faintly disturbed.

Amara stared at her, not sure if she should take the woman seriously. "Chili? As in…the Chili?"

The Chili is more than a tiny bit famous; it was practically legendary among the Leaguers. The only people known to actually enjoy eating the Chili was Oliver himself and Batman. It was probably most infamous in how it could make grown men cry.

Amara had seen Barry's face go completely bloodless at its merest mention of it; she gathered he was one of the men that cried from consuming it.

"What kind of flowers do you want at your funeral?" Roy asked when he answered the door, ignoring the reproachful glare that Dinah spared him as the two females entered.

Amara blinked and stared at her partner for good measure. "You're being serious, aren't you?"

The Chili had always been a bit of a joke to her.

Roy snapped his fingers. "What flower, Storm Warning?"

Amara gave him a sharp glower. "How about poison ivy instead? That way I can have the last laugh and cause you discomfort from beyond the grave."

A smile broke across Dinah's face and Amara could hear Oliver's booming laugh from within what must have been the kitchen area. Roy's cheeks flushed with color and gave off the impression of an animal cornered by its predators.

"So…what's exactly in the famous Chili?" Amara asked, elbowing Roy in the spleen that made him grunt with slight pain that had more to do with just how bony her elbows were.

When Roy started ticking off each and every ingredient as if he'd seen it made so many times that he could make it himself but chose not to for the safety of others, Amara could feel her mouth gaping more and more.

"Well, you've got sirloin, cumin, paprika, cayenne, minced onion, green pepper, minced garlic—" His blue eyes were screwed up and Amara could almost imagine that he was seeing his adoptive father making the chili in his mind's eye. "—black pepper, salt, dried basil, California chili powder, Gebhardt chili powder, Hot New Mexico chili powder (Amara's eye twitched at how many different chili powders Oliver would be adding to the chili), tomatoes, tomato sauce, red kidney beans, brown sugar, and Tobasco." He glanced towards Dinah. "Did I miss anything?"

The blonde-haired woman smirked. "Water, Roy."

"And water," Roy added, "but that doesn't really help the taste."

"And you can't officially call yourself a Leaguer until you've tasted Oliver's Chili," Dinah added sweetly, but her tongue was far too sharp for Amara to trust it.

Roy's smile was a bit too vindictive for her liking.

"This is going to set me back," Amara sighed, "I just know it."

And she allowed Dinah to steer her into the kitchen where her senses were assaulted by thick spices. Oliver was standing over the stove, stirring a ladle through a very thick and murky liquid. Amara eyed it apprehensively.

Thankfully, the Chili didn't seem to be the only food of value in the kitchen, so thankfully once she'd died from eating the Chili she'd be able to eat something meant to be digested by humans.

"Ah, Amy, there you are!" Oliver's eyes glittered as he smiled at her, looking up from his stirring, seemingly unaware that he looked frankly quite ridiculous with his floral-patterned apron. "Come in, you can help me!"

Dinah gave her boyfriend a half-smile as Amara placed her jacket over a stool and meandered towards the man. He nudged a stool towards her and Amara hoped up onto it in order to be taller than the counter and the pot (she hadn't had much of a growth spurt, but she was sure that was coming up soon for her).

Oliver had always been very kind to Amara, very indulgent. He explained things patiently and corrected her when she did something wrong; Dinah surmised that it was something he had adopted when he began training Roy who was full of snarky comments and fire. He was far more patient than Dinah could be sometimes.

The kindness had stretched into fondness after what was now dubbed the 'Speedy Incident'.

Amara wrinkled her nose as the spices tingled it as she kept the systematic stirring that Oliver had instructed her to continue as he pulled out a spare bowl from a cupboard and a spoon from another before turning it off and ladling chili into the bowl.

"Here you go!" he said cheerfully. "One bowl of chili!"

Amara looked down at the mixture in her hands dubiously. It didn't seem very life-threatening, at least not to the level that Roy considered it to be.

But best get it over with quickly.

She scooped a spoonful and swallowed it quickly, not noticing Roy's wince or Dinah's grimace.

It burned all the way down, but not unlike when she'd tried buffalo chicken for the first time. It was a manageable hot that might force her to take a few gulps of milk before she finished the bowl, but she didn't think it was going to kill her.

"It's good," she said and Dinah actually gaped as Roy fell over his feet to tumble to the ground and Oliver positively beamed. "Could use some more salt, though, for a bit of kick."

Oliver's laugh belled out to fill the whole room as he pushed the salt shaker towards Amara who shook it carefully over her chili before diving back in.

It was more out of convenience when Kid Flash, Storm Chaser, Speedy, and Robin officially met.

Their mentors had dragged them along to a Leaguer's only meeting and set them in a room off from the main one at the Hall of Justice.

Storm Chaser, Robin noted, didn't look all that different in good lighting, and it was clear she was used to operating in a level of darkness.

She wore mostly black, just as she had the night they'd met, with the only varying of color being the thick stripe of grey from her neck to her waist. Her outfit was formfitting, easy for maneuvering in small spaces, but there were two silvery batons strapped to her thighs that hadn't been there before.

Her hair was spiky as though with static and the black mask over her eyes didn't hide their green color that was similar but not quite the color of KF's.

She crossed her arms and smirked at the speedster in question from where she was perched on Speedy's armchair as the archer inspected a few of his arrows.

"So," she said, "what's it like playing catch-up?"

Wally pouted behind his mask. "You're no fun."

Robin arched an eyebrow at the familiarity that was clear in the way they spoke to one another.

"Arrowhead," Storm Chaser implored her partner and Robin could see her fluttering her eyelids in an exaggerated manner that didn't even garner a response from the older boy, "am I any fun?"

"Absolutely not, Storm Warning," Speedy drawled. "You're too much work to be fun."

Kid Flash –Wally West, Robin reminded himself of his friend's name– roared with laughter at Speedy's words whilst Storm Chaser gave the archer an outraged look.

"Speedy!" she complained. "You can't say that about me! I got grounded for almost three months for saving your sorry behind!"

"That has nothing to do with whether or not you're fun," he reminded her as Wally's laughs died down into hiccupping giggles.

"Oh, that's great," Wally said, wiping the tears that had formed from his laughter with his thumb. "Amy, you didn't say he was a riot!"

Storm Chaser rolled her eyes behind her mask and Speedy turned his domino mask on her, jerking a thumb towards the other red-head.

"You told him about me?" he asked, faintly surprised.

"Oh, don't get ahead of yourself, Arrowhead," Storm Chaser scoffed. "I tell everyone I know about you."

"But you don't know that many people," Speedy pointed out for good measure.

For his trouble, Storm Chaser gave him a good pinch to the arm.

Then green eyes swept to where Robin was positioned and she grinned.

"Hello," she said, "we should probably be properly introduced now that you're not trying to tie me up and I'm not trying to ransack a warehouse in Gotham."

Robin couldn't help the short laugh that parted from his lips. "Sure," he said, not bothering to get up, but that seemed to be fine with her, "I'm Robin."

"The Wonder Boy," Storm Chaser hummed.

"Boy Wonder," he corrected, but he got the feeling that she'd garbled that name of his on purpose, given how she waved a hand carelessly.

"Minor details," she said before pointing her hand towards herself. "Obviously, I'm Storm Chaser, or Amara Allen, but people just call me Amy, and this is Speedy, yes, he always acts like he's got a stick up his butt—"

Speedy knocked her right off the arm of his chair without so much as a thought and she fell to the ground gracelessly.

"You already know my cousin," Amara added, nodding towards Wally who gave his friend a cheeky grin and a jaunty wave, "Wally the science nerd."

"Hey! You say that like I'm the only science nerd in the family!"

"Some of us have more class," Amara countered.

"Coming from the girl whose favorite color is black—"

"Wait," Robin interjected, looking between Wally and Amara. Amara with her grey hair and Wally with his red; if Robin hadn't known the identity of Amara's biological father and known she was adoptive he would have found the pair being cousins as highly unlikely. "She's the cousin you mentioned?"

Amara pressed a hand to her heart, smiling at Wally. "Aw, Wally! You told him about me?"


"You're a menace," Speedy said.

"I also have the ability to electrocute you," Amara reminded him quite cheerfully, and Robin was almost certain that the older boy was rolling his eyes behind his domino mask.

"So," she added, leaning forward slightly, eyes glinting as they flickered between Wally and Robin, "how'd you and the little bird meet?"

There was a short silence –you could have heard a cricket chirp, if there had been crickets in the room– and then Wally was positively howling with laughter whilst Robin's lips drew downwards into a frown.

"Nothing?" she asked, slightly exasperated by his response, astutely ignoring her cousin.

That made his lips twitch slightly. "Were you expecting something?"

"A bit more of a reaction," Amara admitted, appearing faintly downtrodden. "But, oh well."

"Little Bird?" Wally crowed, falling completely off the chair he'd been sitting in to slump onto the floor. "Oh, that's golden!"

Robin cast his friend an annoyed glance when both Speedy and Amara raised a hand to the comm.-link still lodged in their ears.

"We're here," Speedy intoned.

A short silence followed that until Amara spoke.

"On our way," she said, grimacing towards Speedy who responded with a similar expression. "We'll let you know when we've got eyes on him."

"Duty calls," she said to the remaining two boys as she took the keys Speedy tossed in her direction as the boy shouldered his bow. "Got to go catch a criminal, later!"

"I should be more worried that my eleven year old cousin is going to be driving a motorcycle, shouldn't I?" Wally commented wryly.

Robin burst into sniggers. "Probably."

The thing Amara really didn't get was what Barry had against her being involved with anything plant related. It wasn't as though she was learning to throw knives (well, actually, she technically was, but that was beside the point), it was flowers and plants, possibly the least threatening things in the world that could possibly be used as a weapon.

Amara's life was pretty simply. She did her online classes and trained with Black Canary during the day and had dinner with her family (on the good nights) and went off to fight crime once night had fallen.

She didn't communicate much with people outside of the League, mostly because she didn't really feel the need and also because she wasn't all that great at speaking with other people.

But, she was great at turning into a ball of fire.

"Definitely something shady going on," Amara muttered around the straw of her raspberry lemonade and Roy looked over his shades at her, swallowing his bite of pizza.

"It's not that much money that's gone missing," he pointed out.

Amara gave him a look. "What's not a lot of money to you could pay for me to attend private school, Roy…rich boys, you've got no idea who life works."

Roy's eyebrow twitched at her words. "Coming from an eleven year old with high pain tolerance?"

"Where do you think I picked up high pain tolerance?" Amara countered just as swiftly. "Besides, Oliver wouldn't have asked us to look into it if it was nothing."

A substantial bit of money had gone missing from Oliver's company, Queen Industries. It was enough to raise questions but not enough to greatly impact the company. He and Dinah had thought it would be a good way to test Roy and Amara's investigative skills.

"If it is someone within the company, and that's pretty likely, then it has to be a recent development," Roy told her after stealing her lemonade, ignoring her glare for him doing so.

"What makes you say that?" she asked curiously.

"Everyone has a criminal background screening before they can work at Queen Industries," Roy said as she dragged the plate of pizza towards her. "None of the employees have any connection with embezzlement, or Oliver would have found them as soon as the money disappeared."

Amara hummed in agreement, glancing up and grimacing. "Maybe we should have done this in Star City."

"Why?" Roy's brow wrinkled. "Your secret identity causes much less of a fuss than mine."

"Yeah, but at least you don't have your father's coworker's son belittling you every chance he gets because he thinks that since you're homeschooled there's something wrong with you and his dad doesn't like your dad so there's also that," Amara muttered under her breath.

"Sounds like you've got loads of problems," Roy said, his eyes sweeping in the direction that she had been looking. He assumed it was the biggest in the group of three. The boy in question looked to be about two years older than Amara and a good bit taller.

"How about we finish this at your place?" he offered when the boy looked up and smirked as though finding a target most desired.

"Sure," Amara said with a bit of relief before grinning widely. "And Mom just bought some ice cream, so that's something to look forward to."

Roy shook his head as they threw away their plates. "You have a one track mind, Amy."

"Ice cream is the food of the gods," Amara declared as she shoved her laptop back in her bag, hoisting it up onto her shoulder. "And anyone that says different is just kidding themselves."

"I'm sure," he drawled as they left the fast food joint that had been their makeshift headquarters while they were eating.

"Well, well, well, if it isn't little Amy."

Amara's hand tightened over Roy's briefly as she glared at the boy in question. "Thomas, I'd say pick on someone your own size, but I don't think even you'd understand what that means."

Roy blinked twice. He'd never actually heard Amara insult someone to incite harm.

"All big and strong for your boyfriend, here," Thomas sneered. "I wonder if he knows what you're like when he's not around."

Amara's eyes glinted darkly, and then she knocked his feet out from under him, gripped Roy's hand tightly and made a mad dash away, cackling crazily. "Still strong enough to knock you on your butt, moron!"

She was completely insane, Roy knew fervently, but he couldn't help but laugh with her.

Chapter Text

"How was your day?" A voice chirped on the other end of the phone Richard Grayson, known affectionately as Dick, had just answered.

"Are you really that bored, Amy?" he asked, smirking and quirking an eyebrow that she couldn't see.

What he didn't know was that the metahuman was sprawled on her bed with her head dangling off one side and her legs off the opposite side, grinning widely.

"Aw, how'd you guess, Rob?"

After their initial meeting, the youngest of the sidekicks hit it off quite well, owing undoubtedly to their similar age. Roy and Wally were great, but they were both a few years older than her, and Robin was fun!

"You do realize how late it is in Gotham, don't you?" Dick asked wryly, glancing to the alarm at his bedside table.

"Oops." Amara uttered regretfully and Dick could imagine the sheepish smile present on her lips. "Sorry, little bird, in need of some sleep?"

Dick's left eyebrow twitched. "You're going to keep calling me that, aren't you?"

"One day you will get used to my annoying nicknames, I promise," Amara replied in a voice contrary to her previous tone, one that clearly said she didn't regret a single thing. "Speedy tends to go with it, these days…but I've annoyed him enough for today, so you're my next target."

Dick rolled his eyes up at the ceiling. "I feel so honored," he told her dryly, causing giggles to ensue on the other end that Amara tried hard to stifle, ending with a sharp hiss that Dick knew a little too well. "Are you alright?"

"A busted rib," Amara admitted, switching the phone to her non-dominant hand and opposite ear as she lifted her head slightly and slid up her shirt to see where her skin was bruised and where she'd taped the rib. The bruise wasn't quite so large as it had been before –thank God for metahuman healing, hm?– and the throbbing had gone done. "Don't worry," she added, "everything's crash, and I don't have training with Black Canary tomorrow, so that's great for my wounded body."

"You are totally milking it."

"Am not!" Amara insisted. "I actually don't have training with Black Canary, but it's not because I got injured…I was probably more wounded a week ago when I got run over…"

"You were run over?" Dick demanded, startled, sitting up in bed, suddenly wide awake. His mouth gaped and mouthed wordlessly; how could she be so blasé about that?

"It wasn't that bad," Amara said in a manner that she thought it was a bit bad but didn't really want to admit it. "I looked better than the week before that when Speedy fell off a building."

Dick shook his head, relaxing in his bed. "You're an adrenaline junky," he told her firmly.

"Probably," Amara agreed, remarkably unconcerned by that assessment. "But I'm a junky with class, little bird, and at the end of the night, that's all that matters…that and keeping up on my math class, because I just know Dad's not going to be impressed with my grade in the class…"

A laugh escaped Dick at that comment. He knew from the many extensive conversations he'd had with Wally and Amara that their favorite subject by far was science, he also knew that Amara had trouble like you wouldn't believe trying to work on her math problems. She was very open about her failures, which was amusing slightly, mostly because how Wally reacted which went from "F for fantastic, Amy, don't you forget it!" to "C for complete amazing, Amy, even better than fantastic!"

He played the role of doting older cousin well that Dick easily mistook them for siblings.

"Anything fun happening in Gotham right now?"

Definitely an adrenaline junky looking for their next fix.

"Don't you have a busted rib?" he prompted.


"You're the craziest person I know," he said with a note of fond exasperation.

Amara winked at her ceiling, but she was sure he could practically feel it. "It's what I'm good for, little bird. A little crazy is good for the soul…what's Catwoman like?"

"Why?" Dick asked, instantly suspicious. That was a jump in topics, even for Amara who was a literal stream of consciousness.

"Speedy doesn't want me to meet her," Amara mused thoughtfully, running a hand through her hair, "maybe I'll pick up some bad habits!"

She sounded entirely cheerful at the prospect.

Dick rubbed at his eyes, feeling the need for him to fall asleep arising once more as his eyes fell shut.

"You still awake, little bird?"

Her voice forced its way through the fog that was infesting his brain, but all Dick wanted was for it to go away so he could sleep.

"Amy," he murmured tiredly, "I have class early in the morning, so I'm going to hang up on you."

"Nighty-night, little bird!" she chirped cheerfully before he shut off the phone.

Amara looked at her phone with a frown. Maybe she shouldn't have bothered Robin, but she needed someone to talk to, and Dinah and Oliver weren't telling her or Roy anything, and they were going to a secret meeting with the League.

She just wanted to talk to someone that wasn't going to bother lying to her, and Barry wasn't at the top of that list (he was, after all, the first to lie to her and also the first to be caught because he was so terrible at it).

What she didn't know was why a League meeting had to be a secret, it wasn't as if the sidekicks didn't know that their mentors attended meetings before, it happened more often than was thought of.

They were up to something, that much Amara knew for sure.

"They're up to something, I just know it!"

The sidekicks were gathered in the Queen Manor, mostly because it was the easiest place for them to be without drawing attention to themselves. The Batcave was out of the question, mostly because Batman was probably the most paranoid of the Leaguers and only a few were actually allowed there, and not everyone had an authorization code for the Cave yet (and by not everyone, she meant Wally), so that left the Arrowcave.

"If they were up to something it would be more obvious," Roy said, effortlessly blocking a strike to the side she'd bruised earlier.

"Says you," Amara grumbled, twisting the batons in her hands, hitting one of his legs with one and knocking the other out from under him by the free one. "Win for me!"

Wally cheered at the sidelines and Amara leapt over the leg swipe Roy aimed at her.

"It's not some conspiracy," Roy grumbled, "sometimes GA doesn't tell me things."

"No, but that's not the point," Amara said with a scowl as she took his arm, pulling him up into a standing position. "It's that they're actively lying to my face…maybe it's about me," she contemplated.

"Not everything's about you, Storm Warning," he drawled.

That earned him an elbow in the side.

"Uncle B is hiding something," Wally agreed with his cousin, his green eyes glinting in the lighting as he swung his legs to and fro under the bench that Robin was perched on top of the bench in a manner distinctly like the bird for which he was named. "He's a terrible liar, that's what Aunt I always says." He threw a bottle of water in Amara's general direction.

"Well, she's not wrong," Amara conceded, grabbing the bottle out of the air. "It's like when Dad takes me to S.T.A.R. Labs for 'routine testing'…I know those tests aren't routine, but does that stop him from taking me, no!"

"What's he expect to find?" Robin asked, tilting his head slightly.

"No idea," Amara groaned, plunking down on the ground, the muscles of her legs strained. "No one tells me anything…I'm the least trustworthy, you know."

"Why's that?" Wally asked, his ginger eyebrows furrowed together in confusion.

"'Cause of your biological father?" Robin questioned and Amara's eyes fastened on his despite them being hidden behind his domino mask.

"How do you know about him?" she asked suspiciously, eyes narrowing and hands unwillingly tightening into fists.

Robin realized more as an afterthought that Amara hadn't told anyone other than her parents about the identity of her biological father, going off the uncomprehending looks on the other twos face and he felt instantly remorseful. "Um, sorry—I might have hacked your file."

"You hacked my file?" Amara's eyebrows stretched high on her forehead, surprise clear as day on her face before she laughed. "Should I be flattered or concerned?"

"A bit of both?" Robin grinned in reply.

"So, who is daddy dearest?" Wally piped up. He had always wanted to know the identity of Amara's real parents, especially since it had been incredibly likely that one or both of them were metahumans, given Amara's status as one, but Amara never spoke about them, so he hadn't bothered to bring it up.

"Take a guess."

"Good or bad?" Roy asked first.

"Bad," Amara said shortly.

The red-heads shared a look.

"What?" she demanded.

"Well, you're probably the goodest person I know," Wally said with a shrug. "It's just really ironic."

"Goodest isn't a word," Roy pointed out with a snort, but Wally merely swatted him away. "Is it the Weather Wizard?"

Amara choked on her gulp of water and spluttered as she attempted to swallow the drink.

Robin gave a light laugh as Amara struggled to right herself.

"So it is Weather Wizard!" Wally jabbed a finger in her direction. "I knew it!"

"You did not!" Robin elbowed his best friend right off the bench. "I'm more curious about how Amy doesn't require a wand like Weather Wizard does."

"You mean…you really aren't bothered by it?" Green eyes flicked from one boy to the next.

"That's what you were worried about?" Roy demanded, waving his hands as he spoke. "I knew about your father months ago, I was just waiting for you to tell me."

"Besides," Robin added, "you aren't your family. No one in the League doubts you because of who your father is, at least, no one that I can see."

Amara gave him a curious glance.

"Hey, detective," the dark-haired boy gestured to himself.

"If you say so," Wally sniggered from the ground, leaning back quickly to avoid being kicked by his younger friend.

"But the League meeting was only between Green Arrow, Black Canary, Flash, and Batman," Robin mused aloud, "which is hardly a League meeting, there's not enough Leaguers present…"

"What're you saying?" Roy asked, crossing his arms, his forehead wrinkling.

"Well, they're all Leaguers who have been in direct contact with Storm Chaser on a frequent basis, Batman's probably just there because he's heading the League right now," Robin pondered before looking towards the only female of their group. "Have you ever been in to visit your father in prison?"

"Of course not," Amara said, severely startled by the question. "The last time I saw him was when he tried to electrocute Dad and got me instead." She winced at the memory; it had been far more painful than anything she had experienced since.

"Belle Reve is nearly impossible to escape out of, though," Wally offered shrewdly. "But if I was Uncle B and my daughter's biological father broke out of prison, I'd want to keep her as unaware as possible."

Amara's lips gaped open at the prospect and Roy watched as her face went entirely bloodless at the thought of Weather Wizard escaping from prison.

"There's an easy way to find out," Robin said suddenly, moving swiftly to the computer, his fingers darting over the keyboard. "Hang on a second…" The light of the monitor flashed as he sifted through information. "Current list of Belle Reve inmates…there's no Mark Mardon listed."

Fear clenched around her heart.

"How could you not tell me he was out?"

Amara had ambushed her father as soon as he came home (she'd been sitting on the second floor landing waiting for his car to pull in for the better part of half of an hour), swinging down a few stairs to land in front of him, a move that would have made her stumble back when she was ten, but now she was a seasoned pro.

"Amy," Barry released a sigh as he shook out the umbrella before leaning it against the wall, "what have I told you about hacking into the League system? The flash drive Dinah got for you is not to be used like that—"

"I didn't hack into the League system," Amara said with a scowl, "that was Robin."

Barry arched an eyebrow at that. "Well," he said with an air of exhaustion as she trailed after him into the living room where he flopped down onto the couch tiredly, "I'll be having a word with Batman about that sidekick of his."

"Dad!" She drew out the word in complaint, not wanting to get her friend in trouble but also wanting her father to tell her if what Robin had found held any truth. "Is Weather Wizard out of prison?"

Blue eyes fastened on green and Amara was unwilling to break under the stare of her adoptive father.

"Yes," he said finally, "earlier today your father broke out of prison."

Amara's breath caught somewhere deep in her throat and her heart throbbed in her chest.

Barry watched her reaction with careful eyes. Amara may now call him father, but he was well aware that that title belonged to someone else, but Mark Mardon had lost that right the day he'd nearly killed his only child. Barry's daughter was a combination of fear, anxiety, and determination and anything in between. It was hard to tell just what exactly she was thinking of, only that the thoughts had to do with her biological father.

"Is he going to come after me?" she asked him suddenly, her voice failing and shaking in a way that made Barry what to hold to his chest, but he restrained himself briefly for the sake of speaking plainly with her.

"I don't know," Barry said honestly. "But we'll all be on our guard in case he does."

Amara said nothing to that, and then she disappeared up the stairs faster than Barry could blink, which was saying something since Barry was, after all, the Flash.

"Amy?" he called after her, taking a step forward when her door slammed shut after her. "Amy—"

"I don't want to talk to anyone!" was called from beyond the door, muffled slightly by the door between her and the hall.

Amara leaned her back against the door, breathing in and out deeply as she brought her knees up to her chest, hiding her face against them.

She didn't miss her father, not by a long shot, and she certainly found Barry and Iris to be far better parents than Mark Mardon had ever been. But it was strange, because he'd wanted to see her for years, since he'd first been thrown into prison. Belle Reve allowed phone calls to the outside, just like any other prison, and just like those calls, they were monitored and recorded. But Amara (or Barry and Iris if the calls came in when Amara wasn't around) never answered the phone, letting it ring continuously.

It was more worrying where he'd gotten her home phone number.

Her own phone gave a buzz and the name 'Arrowhead' appeared.

The phone was at her ear in an instant. "Yeah, what is it? Another mission?"

She knew she sounded entirely too hopeful for chaos in Star City.

"Sorry, no go," Roy said, and he did sound a bit regretfully, no doubt owing to Weather Wizard's breakout and understanding her need to do something. "Ollie and I are joining up with Aquaman and Aqualad –we'll probably be back sometime around Thursday."

"Oh," Amara said in disappointment, rubbing her hand against her eyes. That meant three days of Star City being without its Green Arrow and Speedy, which meant Black Canary and Storm Chaser would have to pick up the slack.

She had never met either Aquaman or Aqualad, but water and lightning weren't a good mix, unless you were trying to amplify the strength of the lightning. However, Aqualad could generate electricity in a similar manner to Amara, so they weren't so different, barring the whole use of hydrokinesis on Aqualad's part.

But if Roy liked him, that was good enough for her.

"Keep an eye on things for us, will you?"

She could hear things rustling in the background and she surmised that the pair were at one of GA's storage spaces, collecting their gear and weapons.

"We'll try," Amara promised. "You try not to get yourself captured again."

"Ha-ha, very funny," Roy drawled out in annoyance, "you are never going to let that slide, are you?"

"Never," she swore, grinning now. "Don't worry about me and Dinah, we're tougher than we look –obviously– we can handle Star City for three days…I mean what's the worst that could possibly happen?"

But she had a feeling that no matter what, someone was going to take advantage of the fact that Green Arrow was gone.

Two motorcycles raced down the street, heading towards the most recent criminal activity, which happened to be a robbery.

"Green Arrow and Speedy are gone one day and everything goes to hell," Amara swore –something her mother wouldn't approve of–, tightening her grip on the bike's handles.

"That goes to show who they think is the more dangerous of the four of us," Dinah's voice echoed in her ear followed swiftly by a snort. "Why don't we change their minds?" Amara could practically hear her smirk.

"Don't mind if we do," Amara replied just as eagerly as the robbers made their way out of the store in time to be shocked into unconsciousness by a stray lightning bolt or have their balance impaired by the damage done to their ears by Dinah's Canary Cry.

The whirring police siren told both female superheroes that they didn't need to stick around, so they went off on their way once more.

"You'd think it was Halloween," Amara mused.

"Why's that?"

"Well, usually all the crazy stuff happens on Halloween," Amara explained, "its like the one day out of the year when the psychos think they can get away with crime…like remember last year when the Clock King attacked and we had seventeen other crimes in the time span of a few hours?"

"Ah, yes, I do remember," Black Canary hummed in agreement. "We're going to have to split up, there's entirely too much ground to cover with us down by two."

"Right," Amara said and they turned in opposite directions, racing off towards the north and south parts of the city.

The streets were far from being deserted, but at the very least they weren't packed, because it was hard to fight crime when there were road blocks (well, it wouldn't be a problem for Barry or Wally, but they were the only exceptions).

She'd gotten hardly one hundred yards when she noticed the car trailing beside her and she twisted her head to look to the side before quickly breaking to avoid the bullet fired from the gun that had been aiming at her.

Clearly there'd been an increase in gang activity since Amara's last patrol.

Too bad.

Amara snapped her fingers and lightning created from the friction of her fingertips, went from her hands to flow under the car and cause a small explosion that made the car flip over.

"Amateurs," Amara snorted as she drove past.

Luckily, for the most part it seemed that those out committing crimes tonight were those of the smaller variety, which was to say minor felonies.

But it was still exhausting, given just how many crimes were being committed. It almost made Amara wish that Oliver and Roy would hurry up with Aquaman and Aqualad and come back to give them a hand, but she and Dinah could definitely handle this on their own.

"Storm Chaser."

"Here," Amara supplied helpfully as she watched the SCPD arrive to take away the most recent culprit to crimes of the night ("Indecent exposure, huh? That ain't something you should be showing people"; Amara found she'd learned more about the male anatomy than she probably ever wanted to know).

"There's been a disturbance at Queen Industries," Black Canary said, "you're closer than I am—"

"Right," Amara said, reasserting the helmet over her head and settling onto the motorcycle as she gave a swift salute to one of the policemen she was familiar with; he waggled his fingers in return before berating the exposed man with a distasteful look on his face. "I'm on my way."

Queen Industries was a large building, and large was quite the understatement, and even as late as it was, light still illuminated the many levels and Amara could see the outlines of a number of people, and that was curious. It made her wonder just what kind of disturbance it had been if there were still people working.

If the employees hadn't felt the need to leave, to get as far away from the building as possible, then it must not have been anything major…maybe a few loud disagreements between each others.

Amara decided to take to the roof first, firing the grappler from her utility belt, just managing to snag on the level below the roof, and then she was being dragged upwards.

But something was off, not with the people within the building, no, it seemed they had no idea there had been a disturbance at all, it more had to do with the fact that there was a few stray black arrows lodged into side of the building, ones that definitely hadn't been there the last time she had visited.

A sickly sense of foreboding settled deep in Amara's stomach, even before she swung up to land on the ledge only to find herself facing a figure cloaked in black and aiming a notched arrow at her from an equally dark bow.

He moved as fast as Oliver, if not faster, so fast in fact that Amara hardly saw it coming before the arrow lodged into one shoulder below her clavicle.

A gasp was ripped from her lips at the white-hot pain of the arrow splitting her flesh, almost going right through her.

The pain made it difficult to focus, but the bolt of lightning she flung towards the hooded figure was more powerful than usual, and barely dodged, giving him a mild shock, but it didn't stop the next shot from lodging in her chest.

Amara stumbled and fell back, falling down, down, down…the ground was getting closer and closer until she forced the air to thicken under her, keeping her from becoming a stain on the pavement by mere seconds before returning her to the ground gently.

Her fingers were tingling and cold, it was getting harder and harder to breathe and Amara could feel the wetness of her own blood soaking through her uniform as the hooded figure used his own grappling arrow to drop down to rest beside her.

"It's a pity the fall didn't kill you, little Storm Chaser," his voice was hard to hear with her ears ringing. "Sends a better message if you're dead…maybe then Weather Wizard will cease to become a hindrance...dead daughters are such tragedies, don't you think?"

Amara hacked a cough, red painting her lips.

And then he was gone, replaced by a worried pair of icy-blue eyes that Amara knew too well, and that was the last thing she saw before her eyes slid shut.

Chapter Text

He was standing over her as Amara struggled to breathe and she choked at the feel of the arrow shoved into her stomach.

"Sadly, it's not my intention to kill you," Merlyn said, speaking over her as he pulled the arrow out of her stomach, the tip a vial filled with her own blood, and pain rolled over her. "It's a pity, but your mother wants proof of relation; it'll be my own head if you're killed, so try not to die."

Her mother? Amara was confused and her mind was going hazy from blood loss. Iris' face swam before her mind, she was the only mother that she had ever known, but she had never known the identity of the woman she shared blood with.

The air was weighted on her and she felt like there was fog before her eyes. It seemed like an age before someone came across her.

"Storm Chaser!"

Dinah's voice pierced the fog and Amara's eyes fluttered shut.

Amara was being jerked back and forth, sending a jolt of pain throughout her whole body. She had long since lost feeling in her extremities and the cold had set in.

Her eyes fluttered open as she was rolled through the Hall of Justice's medical ward, breathing in through the oxygen mask situated over her face.

Her sight wasn't working properly, no doubt because of the decreased blood flow throughout her body, but she still caught a blur of red and yellow to her side…Barry in his Flash uniform with his cowl drawn back, her memory supplied.

"Stay awake, Amy! Stay with me!"

The colors were blending together and the air was getting heavier and heavier…making it more and more difficult to breathe.

"Amy, don't you dare close your eyes!"

But it was too late.

Her eyes rolled and her heart raced in her chest.

The last thing that she heard was the sound of a nurse yelling that she was crashing, and then she knew nothing.

Amara's eyes fluttered open and she grimaced, lifting a hand to her chest where she'd been shot through with arrows, but she felt nothing, as though it never happened.

Then she jumped, her heart stuttering wildly as she looked down at herself, severely startled at the sheen of color her skin, because it had taken on a green color, a leaf-green that couldn't have been mistaken for being a simple hue that one took on when they were sick.

She rubbed furiously at her arm, but the color didn't change.

Exasperation was filling her when she looked around herself, and then she froze.

She was sitting in an area of pure blackness. She would have been drowning in it if she hadn't been so accustomed to it at one point.

And then she wasn't.

Amara was looking on a familiar scene that must have been supplied by her own memories, but it was still strange to experience it outside her body.

She remembered the apartment well, it had been her home until her little accident with her father's lightning.

Amara's younger form was trying to make herself as small as possible against the wall while her father raged about something that she couldn't recall, his words unintelligible in his anger.

Amara had been around the age of seven, she wagered, given the size and age of herself, at the time of the memory in question.

Her grey hair had been choppily cut and was frizzy around her face which was set in a blank mask that had been a default of hers when she was younger and in the presence of her father.

Her fingers were sparking as she drew her knees up to her chest, trying not to showcase her fear, which was there even if it could not be seen.

The Weather Wizard turned on her, anger in his eyes.

"You told them what I was planning!" he cried out, his wand glowing dangerously in his hands.

Young Amara shook her head frantically. "No, no, no!" she insisted. "I-I didn't!"

The lies sprang from her lips before she could stop them.

Amara remembered the day very well.

The Justice League had a hot-line of sorts that citizens of the US could use to report anything that had to do with villains of the Justice League –leaving the usual crimes to the police force– and Amara had used it to call in about a plan her father had concerning blanketing the region with extreme weather that would have required his assistance in order to make the weather dissipate.

"My own blood!" he roared. "A traitor of my own blood!"

Young Amara screamed as he shot lightning at her.

In the surgery room, Amara's heart stopped beating, much to the astonishment to the ones working on her, because, although her wounds were extensive, they were not nearly as life-threatening as they seemed.

Her heart was in no danger, but for some reason, it had suddenly stopped.

It took them three charges of the defibrillation paddles in order to get her heart working again and they all gave a sigh of relief before starting again as though nothing had happened.

But Amara knew nothing of that, trapped in the deep recesses of her own mind, where the thing to truly be afraid of was the presence of her biological father, even if he was a mere memory. There, she knew nothing of the wounds caused by the arrows that had been carefully pulled from her, nor did she know of the steady beeping of the heart monitor beside her, or even the fear of those waiting outside the room for any news.

Amara was blissfully ignorant of all those facts.

This, Wally had to admit, was the worst day ever.

(Technically, it was the next day already, but that was beside the point)

He and Uncle B had been having a rather good day actually until Black Canary came over the comm.-link to say Amara had been shot.

Shot. Several Times. With arrows.

The idea that someone had riddled his baby cousin with arrows made Wally's blood boil and he wanted nothing more than to go off and find Merlyn and show him who he was dealing with, but in the back of his mind, he knew that wouldn't end well.

Wally may have had speed, but Amara had skill, she'd been trained by Black Canary herself, and she'd been taken down as though all that training had been for nothing.

His cowl –like Uncle B's– had long since been drawn back and he knotted his fingers in the bright red locks, screwing up his eyes as he tried not to think of Amara with sightless eyes in a pool of her own blood.

But he couldn't stop himself; he was drowning in the fear already.

Aunt I was wrapped in Uncle B's arms, stifling her sobs into his shoulder as best as she could, but it was clear that her crying was loud and shaking her whole body.

Wally remembered what it had been like when Amara had disappeared in her search of Roy, but that was nothing compared to now.

Now Amara's life was hanging in the balance.

The doors swung open violently and Wally jolted where he was sitting as Roy strode into the waiting area with Oliver hot on his heels. He was still in his uniform, barring his hat and domino mask, so he must have just gotten back. And what a thing to come back to; no one wanted to end a successful mission with the knowledge that their partner was on the table fighting for their life.

Blue fire was blazing in his eyes as they flashed to Uncle B and Aunt I before landing on Wally, demanding answers without saying a word. Though Wally wasn't sure he could manage words with the tightness of his jaw.

Oliver moved to speak quietly with Wally's aunt and uncle and Wally opened his mouth to speak.

"Black Canary found her," he managed to choke out. "I think they said she was shot off the Queen Industries building—"

"Shot off?" Roy's voice was pitched strangely and his hands were clenched into tight vibrating fists.

"With –with arrows," Wally said, stumbling over the words. "Batman's got her goggles and is going over the footage with Robin now."

Amara's goggles, like Wally's, not only functioned for night vision, but also worked to record encounters with villains and criminals.

Batman had looked particularly threatening when he'd arrived and Robin had seemed to be a bit stunned at the prospect of Amara's fate hanging in the balance. He had made Wally swear to tell him if there was any change and Wally had only been so happy to comply.

Roy slumped into the seat beside Wally, bracing his elbows against his knees as he fisted his hair, his knuckles white.

"You could take a nap," Wally suggested, "I can wake you—"

"I'm not sleeping until she's out of surgery," Roy very nearly barked, giving Wally a sharp look and Wally relented, leaving them to sit in silence with a dark cloud weighing over them.

Oliver found Dinah in the observation area that overlooked the surgery room.

She was so pale that the light blue of her eyes stood out like beacons when she looked to him.

"I should've taken it," she said, and her voice did not tremble, "the disturbance at Queen Industries…I should have taken it…I just…I thought she'd like the challenge of doing something herself."

"I know," Oliver said, pulling her into an embrace that allowed Dinah to hide her face against his shoulder as her own shoulders shook with the strain of keeping her tears silent. "This isn't your fault."

A sudden beep from below jerked their attention away from each other and down to the figures moving quickly over Dinah's fallen protégé.

The heart rate monitor beside her was a straight line as Dinah pressed a hand to her mouth, terror rising inside her only to be quenched a moment later when they managed to get her stable once more.

She released a shaking breath, resting a palm against the glass and murmuring an almost silent prayer.

Merlyn was not just a run-of-the-mill villain to the Justice League, he was an assassin and an investigator; his services were for hire to the one who offered him the most money.

In the issue concerning the girl Storm Chaser, the payment was his own life.

Poison Ivy was cruel to her enemies, yes, but even her allies had reason to fear her.

Her presence made his skin tingle, and not in a good way. The poison she had given him with the incentive to do as she demanded was eating away at him internally and if he didn't get an antidote soon, he was done for.

The computer beeped and relayed the information concerning the girl's blood analysis in comparison to Poison Ivy's.

"There, fifty percent match," he said, turning the screen towards her, "the girl's yours, biologically."

A bottle was thrown to him and he took it quickly, gulping its contents down and making a fast escape out the window before she could change her mind about not killing him.

Pamela Isley, otherwise known as Poison Ivy, paid him no heed, sitting in the chair before the computer, eyes fastening on the blinking blood analysis with green eyes the same color and shape as her daughter's before pulling up the pictures Merlyn had taken for her.

Storm Chaser was in her uniform in all of them, mostly in the presence of either a young red-haired archer or a red-haired speedster, and sometimes Gotham's dark-haired Robin.

And there was one of a girl outside a small flower shop with dark hair but the same green eyes that Storm Chaser possessed.

This was her little girl.

Pamela could hardly breathe, looking at all the pictures as her heart raced in her chest.

Her little girl…and she was perfection.

When the surgeon came out of the doors they had all been barred from following through, they were all on him in a matter of seconds, but he waited until the noise had fallen from a dull roar in order to speak audibly.

"There were a few close calls," he told them all, but the words were for the most part directed towards Barry and Iris, "but she pulled through."

Iris moaned quietly into her hand, her legs trembling and Barry's arm around her waist was probably the only think that kept her standing, however, the same could not be said of Wally, who bypassed her completely to collapse onto the ground, relief flowing over him.

"She lost a lot of blood," the surgeon told them, "and her heart stopped twice during the procedure—" Roy made an indecipherable noise at that, clutching his own chest, his eyes wide. "—but she's going to be fine, all she needs is some time to heal and I'm sure she'll be as good as new."

"Thank you," Barry said throatily as he shook the man's hand fervently. "Thank you."

He inclined his head slightly. "I'll come get you when you can see her."

Wally was calling his parents in seconds to assure them their niece was going to be fine. From how quickly his mother answered, he guessed that they'd been staying up too, waiting for any information concerning Amara.

Roy ran a hand through his hair again, making it stick in several directions, but he didn't care.

Wally, Dinah, Oliver, and Roy waited when the surgeon returned to take them to see Amara, letting Barry and Iris go in on their own.

Their daughter was breathing, that was the thing Iris noticed first, and it was more than enough to pull a few tears from her eyes.

Her complexion was so fair that it was almost translucent from the blood loss she had suffered, but a blood transfusion had been set up to make up for the blood that had been lost. Then Iris' eyes fell to the thick bandages wrapped around her torso.

Iris wanted to hit something; Merlyn had used her daughter like she was a pin cushion!

But Iris didn't. She inhaled through her nose and tried to let go of that anger as she pulled a seat up close to Amara's bedside, holding the girl's hand as gently as she could, pressing a kiss to the hand.

Barry had moved around the bed in order to smooth the grey fringe from her forehead and press a soft kiss there and a murmur of "You stay with us, kiddo, alright?"

Amara did not answer, but the steady beat of her heart on the monitor was reassuring.

Dick was looking at a flower shop of all things and he couldn't help but arch an eyebrow at his best friend. "Bouquet Boutique? Is there a reason you brought me to a flower shop, 'cause I'm starting to worry about you, Walls."

Wally's cheeks flushed slightly. "Oh, shut up," he said, "Amy loves this place. She's been begging Uncle B to let her volunteer here –you know, get her a bit more used to interacting with people outside JL– but Uncle B doesn't really like her being around plants."

"Weird," Dick commented, which Wally ignored.

"But she comes here anyways when he and Aunt I are working late," Wally continued as though he hadn't been interrupted. "Trust me, she'll love that we got her some flowers from here."

Dick considered him silently, but he said nothing against it. Amara hadn't awoken since the surgery and it had been two days, something that was making Amara's family a bit anxious, though the doctors seemed to be of the mind that Amara's mind was trying to protect her from the pain her body had endured.

The door dinged as they opened it and strode inside.

There were flowers and plants as far as Dick could see. It was a kind of paradise that Poison Ivy would have appreciated.

Wally walked right up to the woman at the register who was in her late twenties with blue eyes that crinkled when she smiled, a stud in her nose, and blonde hair piled in a multitude of braids.

"Hey, Wally," she called, familiar with Amara's cousin from the several times she'd seen him with her, "how you doin' sweetheart?"

Dick sniggered at his side and Wally elbowed him.

"Hey, Sandra," he replied, "I'm fine, just here for a bouquet of chrysanthemums."

Sandra's eyebrows rose and she grinned. "Aw, did you piss off your cousin something fierce? Those are her favorite, you know."

"I know," Wally grimaced, "she's in the hospital, so I thought they might cheer her up."

The smile which had been present at the beginning of his sentence fell completely once he'd reached the end.

"Hospital?" Sandra repeated. "Is she alright?"

"She was hit by a car when she was crossing the road," Dick said quickly and Sandra's eyes moved to Wally's companion. "She'll be fine, but she has to stay in the hospital for a while."

"Oh, thank God," Sandra sighed, resting a hand against her heart. "That girl's got more spirit than anyone I know, of course a car accident is nothing."

Wally snorted and even Dick couldn't hide his amusement; well, she wasn't wrong in her thinking.

"One chrysanthemum bouquet free of charge," she noted more to herself than to the boys in front of her.

"Wait, you don't have to do that," Wally said quickly, having been ready to pay, but she waved him aside.

"I can do what I want," Sandra said, "it's my shop, so take the free flowers, Wally…I'll let the new girl set you up, hey, Pamela!"

Wally was sure he was staring when the woman came out of the back room, but he didn't really seem to notice. Her hair was a darker red than his and her eyes were as green as Amara's were on a good day.

"Yes, Sandra?"

"I need a bouquet of chrysanthemums for one Amara Allen," Sandra said absently, jotting a few notes into a notepad.

"Right away," Pamela smiled and for a moment Wally swore her fair complexion seemed faintly green, but then the moment had gone and he was left feeling very confused.

The boy with red hair she'd been able to recognize from the photos of her daughter and his proximity to a black-haired boy that fit the general description of Gotham's Boy Wonder only served to further that assumption.

Amara…her child's name was Amara.

It wasn't a name she would have chosen, but that wasn't the thing she focused on, it was the fact that she was in the hospital.

She should have known better than to trust Merlyn to find out the truth, but next time she saw him it would not end well.

Pamela collected the flowers together, turning away from the boys so they wouldn't see the flowers glowing faintly as she imbued them with her own power.

Hopefully Amara had inherited some of her mother's abilities as well, and if she had, then the flowers would help the healing the process. Even if she didn't, they would last longer than the typical flower lifespan after being cut.

"Here you go," she said, extending the flowers to the red-haired Wally with a smile that made him blush (really, it was far too easy), "I hope your friend feels better."

"Cousin," Wally corrected automatically, "but thanks."

And then they were gone, leaving Pamela to her thoughts as she went back to trim a few stalks off a new shipment of flowers that had just come in, and if, over the course of the next few weeks, Sandra noticed that her flowers had longer life expectancies since Pamela started working for her, she didn't mention it.

Roy was the one guarding Amara's body when they came back, mostly because he was the one that Barry and Iris trusted the most with their daughter, given how close the pair were, being partners, and all.

Oliver and Dinah had ducked out to grab a quick bite but Barry and Iris had to return to work, which they would have preferred to skip entirely if it hadn't already been two days since the accident (so to speak). So they relented once Star City heroes agreed to tell them if there was any change.

"Flowers?" he said. "Really? I didn't know your feelings for each other had gotten that far."

Wally squawked and Dick's face flooded with color as he leaped away from his best friend.

"These aren't for Rob, they're for Amy! Don't be a jerk!"

Roy seemed remarkably unconcerned by the twin glares thrown his way as Wally fixed the bouquet in the vase on the bedside table.

His hand, Dick noticed, was holding her limp one, fingers just brushing slightly against her pulse point. Amara, he knew, had what Bruce would call a tactile fixation. It was almost like she needed to touch something, even if it was simply the skin on skin contact from hand holding.

She did it a lot with Roy, because he'd seen them holding hands on more than one occasion, it was almost as though she did it reflexively, but Roy didn't seem to mind, or, if he did, he gave no indication.

"No change?" Dick asked quietly and Roy shook his head morosely as the scent from the flowers filled the room, it was stronger than he'd been expecting.

"No, personally I think the morphine is what's making it take so long for her to wake—"

Roy fell silent suddenly when Amara gave a sharp inhale through her nose, before exhaling smoothly.

The three boys watched her in silence, waiting for any other indication that she might be waking up, but there was nothing.

"Okay, this is just a little bit creepy," Wally muttered. "Watching my cousin while she's unconscious is not in my job description. I'm gonna take a leak."

He was barely out of the room when Roy made a surprised noise, and then he was back. "What? What happened?"

Roy had pulled himself up into a standing position, looking it his and Amara's joined hands oddly. "I-I think she squeezed my hand."

Dick frowned. "Maybe you squeezed hers?"

Roy gave him a quelling glare.

"Flowers," Amara mumbled, finally cracking an eye open slightly, "For…me?"

Her voice was raspy but she was awake, and that was more than enough reason for an explosion of noise from Wally.

"Oh, yeah, all yours, and don't you dare nearly die again, Amy!"

Amara's lips twisted upwards into a smile as her cousin blubbered over her. "I'll try not to," she said through numb lips.

"I gotta go tell Uncle B and Aunt I you're awake!" and then he was gone.

"Leave it to you to shot full of arrows when me and GA are out of town," Roy said, shaking his head, though the grin on his face ruined the effect he was going for.

"It's one of my talents," Amara said as a straw was put between her lips and she slurped up the fluid greedily. "I've got this thing with reckless behavior, you know."

"I'm aware," he informed her dryly before ducking forward to kiss the top of her head that was nothing short of a brotherly gesture.

Amara gave him a smile that could only be described as dopey, brought on from all the drugs she was pumped with. "It only took nearly dying for Speedy to kiss Storm Chaser…wait until the press finds out."

"You are such a dork," Roy sighed before glancing up to Dick. "Can you keep an eye on her while I go and find GA and Black Canary?"

"Sure," Dick said quickly as the archer dashed out before scrutinizing Amara. "You're only saying that to wind him up, aren't you?"

Amara's glinting eyes told him everything.

"Red-haired archers aren't really my type," she said, yawning widely before grimacing in slight pain as she looked down at herself. "Exactly how bad am I?"

"Nowhere near as bad as you were two nights ago," Dick told her, settling in the seat that Roy had vacated. "You're lucky that you're a metahuman, or it would have been a lot worse."

"Thank science, I suppose," Amara muttered, blinking fuzzily up at the ceiling, considering whether or not to just go back asleep or stay awake. "Don't worry, everything'll be crash."

Dick snorted. "You always say that."

"S'my go-to phrase," Amara told him proudly.

Dick didn't say anything to that, his thoughts echoing inside his own skull rather loudly.

"Richard Grayson," he said to her and Amara blinked, turning her heavy head towards him in surprise.

"Hm?" she garbled articulately.

"My name," he said to her, "its Richard Grayson."

She gave him a smile that clearly said she was only half-there. "That's nice, Robin."

And then she closed her eyes, unaware of the significance of what he had told her, but she would remember it much later. She was, after all, the one who had known Robin the longest of the sidekicks, it was only fitting she know his real name first.

Chapter Text

Amara tried not to wince when her mother held her tightly, but the weight pressing down on her wasn't helping her injuries. "Mom…you're hurting me," she mumbled before Iris released her abruptly.

"Oh, I'm so sorry, sweetheart!"

Iris West-Allen had come tearing into the hospital wing like she was on fire, and Amara had been startled to say the least, having just awakened from her drug-induced nap.

Robin had gone by that time, but Wally had taken his place, giving her a sheepish smile as her mother hugged her.

Iris' eyes were red from crying, which she had started up once more, "Oh, thank God, you're awake! You worried your father and I sick!"

Amara's lips drew downwards. "I'm sorry," she apologized.

It wasn't like it was her fault that that she'd been shot off a building.

Iris stroked her cheeks, smoothing her hair away from her face as she looked at her daughter. "I'm just so happy that you're awake and feeling better," the red-haired woman said in relief. "You are feeling better, aren't you?"

"Just a bit," Amara said, wincing when she shifted her shoulders and a flare of pain shot over her wounds. "How long do I have to stay here?"

Amara hated hospitals, especially since the time she had awoken in one after her biological father had nearly electrocuted her.

Iris opened her mouth to speak but was cut off by the sound of rushing air and a few seconds later Barry was standing in the room.

His trainers were smoking slightly, but he didn't seem to care, his eyes bright as they focused on Amara.

"You're awake!" he said before leaning down to feather a light kiss to Amara's brow, which only served to make her roll her eyes and make Wally snigger where he was sitting off to the side. "How do you feel?"

Amara stared at him blankly. "Like I've been shot through with a couple of arrows, obviously."

She earned a reproachful stare at that. "It's not so bad," Amara amended, "if I don't move and they keep me pumped full with morphine."

Of course, then the morphine made her tired and sleeping terrified her. Merlyn's face looming over her with a shadow that would not leave.

"Do you remember if he said anything to you?"

"Barry," Iris said softly, "is this really the best time?"

Their daughter was swathed in bandages with grey circles under her eyes, looking to be the epitome of exhaustion, and Barry was sure that was exactly what she was, but he had heard the recording that Batman had taken from Amara's goggles.

And he needed to know what she had heard.

"I wouldn't ask if it wasn't important," Barry said and Amara couldn't help but frown, thinking back to him leaning over her, speaking words that she would have remembered even if pain hadn't heightened her memory.

"He…said it was a pity I didn't die from the fall," Amara said, swallowing thickly and Iris squeezed her hand in reassurance. "He thought that hurting me would make Weather Wizard 'cease to be a hindrance' , but I don't understand, no one's heard anything from him since he broke out of Belle Reve, right?"

"The League hasn't," Barry concurred, smoothing her hair from her forehead. "Was there anything else?"

"Sadly, it's not my intention to kill you. It's a pity, but your mother wants proof of relation; it'll be my own head if you're killed, so try not to die."

"No," Amara lied, closing her eyes, "that was all he said…that was all I heard."

Amara didn't know what to think about that comment about her mother, but she had a feeling that it would probably be better if she didn't mention it to Barry, because there was something a bit off about his line of questioning, like he was fishing for something in particular.

She didn't see how he relaxed almost imperceptibly at the lack of mention of her mother, grateful that Amara at least still didn't know her identity.

The doctor cleared her throat as she entered, forcing Amara to open her eyes and for all those in the room (Barry, Iris, Wally, and Amara) to look towards her.

"Hello, Amara," she said with a smile, "how are you feeling?"

"Like I've been shot," Amara said dryly and Wally snorted, but her parents didn't smile.

"Yes, well, you wouldn't be wrong," the doctor conceded, walking around to where Amara's feet were, pressing her palms lightly to Amara's soles. "I want you to press down against my palms with your feet, all right?"

"Okay?" Amara looked at her oddly before doing as she asked, but her feet barely moved, no matter how hard she tried. The fear shot through her veins, making the heart monitor beep as her heart rate increased.

"You did great, Amara," the doctor soothed, but it didn't convince her, even as she took her parents out of the room to speak with them privately.

"What is it?" Barry asked, a muscle jumping in his jaw. "What's wrong with her legs?"

"We believe that there was a neurological toxin that Merlyn had laced his arrows with, so that in the event that she survived the attack, she'd be out of commission for awhile," the doctor explained patiently. "Star Labs is still working on the breakdown of the toxin."

"I don't understand," Iris said, her voice trembling slightly as Barry wrapped a tense arm around her shoulders, "are you –are you saying she'll never walk again?"

"I can't ascertain at this point if her inability to use her legs is coming from the toxin or if it's psychosomatic—"


"If it stems from a psychological issue," the doctor explained delicately, "the stress of the attack and her fear about it itself could be physically crippling, but at this point we don't know…but with time she will get better, that I can promise you, but it will take time."

Wally opened the door and peered out to his aunt and uncle. "You're making her nervous…and you're kind of freaking me out too." He looked from one face to the next and the color faded from his cheeks. "What's wrong?"

Barry jerked his head towards the doctor who gave a sharp nod, walking past Wally back into the room to stand close to Amara's bed. "Amara, can you feel your legs?"

The heart monitor spiked once more and Amara swallowed. "A little…what's wrong with them?" She tried to keep her voice from shaking, but it didn't quite work.

"Merlyn's arrows were tipped with a neurological toxin that is effecting the nerves that send signals to your legs to tell them to move," the doctor explained gently, "but it's also possible that its psychosomatic, brought on from your emotions rather than a physical injury…either way it's going to take you awhile before you can get back on your feet."

"No," Amara said, shaking her head so much that it seemed like her head could only move in that direction. "You're wrong, my –my legs are fine! My legs are fine!" Her voice was rising gradually with her denial as Wally's eyes went wide in horror and Iris presses a hand to her mouth while Barry looked down.

"I need my legs!" she insisted, tears streaming down her face. "I need them! I'm a sidekick! I can't be Black Canary's sidekick without my legs!"

Then, before anyone could stop her, she was sitting upright –no matter how much it made her head spin–, pulling at the many wires she was connected to, from the heart monitor to the IV drip, which had her doctor springing forward.

"Amara! You will aggravate your wounds!"

"I need my legs!" Amara repeated, completely white before she leaned over the side of the bed and vomited what little was left in her stomach, which gave the doctor the opportunity to return the IV to her arm, and inserting morphine through the IV push.

Barry moved around the bed, carefully avoiding the pool of sick to coax his daughter back into bed.

"I know," he said gently as the morphine began to work, already making her drowsy and her eyesight blurry. She gave little protest as he laid her back against the mattress. "I know."

And then Amara drowned in nothingness.

All she could hear were echoes and feel nothing but the pain.

"It's a pity the fall didn't kill you, little Storm Chaser. Sends a better message if you're dead…maybe then Weather Wizard will cease to become a hindrance...dead daughters are such tragedies, don't you think?"

"Sadly, it's not my intention to kill you. It's a pity, but your mother wants proof of relation; it'll be my own head if you're killed, so try not to die."

Amara remembered the arrows tearing through her and the stabbing pain, and then nothing once more, and that, she found, was bliss.

When Amara awoke again, it was to see Roy sitting beside her bed, thumbing through what must have been a textbook for school. She blinked hazily, curling her fingers around his where they were wrapped around her wrist and he pulled his gaze from the book to look to her, giving her a smile. "You look like hell."

Amara didn't smile. "I can't use my legs, Roy," she whispered and he gave a sigh.

"Yeah, I heard that," he said, sliding their hands together so that their fingers could interlock.

"I can't be your partner anymore," she said, her eyes brimming with tears, "I can't go out on patrol or watch your backs…I'm useless."

"Hey!" Roy reproached, his blue eyes bright with emotion. "You are not useless! The legs not working right is just a setback. You're going to get better, it just, you know, it might take awhile."

Amara's eyes shifted to stare at the ceiling, ignoring him, and ignoring his words, something that faintly annoyed him, but he tried not to show it.

"Remember when you came after me? You and GA? Everybody else had given up, but you didn't, and it took you some time to find me, didn't it?"

"That was completely different!" Amy snapped, the tears spilling out the corner of her eyes as she glared venomously at him. "You were kidnapped! Look at me, Roy! I can't use my legs! You can!"

"Don't get mad at me, I wasn't the one that shot you!"

She looked away from him bitterly; if she'd been able to move her legs, she would have rolled completely onto her side. She wished in a single miserable moment that Merlyn had killed her then, better to be a dead sidekick than a crippled one.

And if there was one thing that Amara had loved, it was being a sidekick. To be robbed of the ability to do that was nothing short of immensely painful. Amara had had everything in life she wanted –granted, she would have preferred her father back in prison, and would have wanted to know the identity of her birth mother, but you couldn't get everything you wanted– and then everything had gone wrong when she was just a week shy of her twelfth birthday. And Amara hated her birthday.

She blamed the bad karma on her father, of course, the bastard deserved it.

So Amara scowled, pulling the wires and tubes off and out of her skin before sitting up and grabbing at her legs with shaking arms, swinging them over the side of the bed one at time.

"What're you doing?" Roy asked, startled before giving a surprised noise when Amara pushed off the bed, her feet making contact with the ground, holding her for a split second before they buckled under her, sending her crumpling to the ground, and Roy was around the bed in an instant, kneeling beside her. "Hey, what're you thinking—?"

He paused, drawing back slightly when he saw how her whole body was shaking with her teeth clenched and her hands in fists.

The door opened and Amara's eyelevel gave her a perfect view of a very familiar pair of dark combat boots.

"What happened?"

"She tried to walk," Roy attempted to explain and Dinah gave a small sigh.

"Of course she did," she said sadly. "Grab her other arm and leg, will you?"

Dinah and Roy helped her sit up before hooking one arm under the crook of her knee and under her armpit, hoisting her back onto the bed.

"I know this is going to be hard," Dinah said gently, smearing the tears on her cheek, "but you aren't going to be able to do all the things you used to."

Amara looked away, flushed with anger and with embarrassment, the feelings burning inside her like acid eating away at bone.

"I know you're angry," Dinah added, her eyes just as gentle as her voice, and that did nothing for Amara. "And you have every right to be. What Merlyn did to you was awful, but you will get better, Amy, I promise you, you will get better. You just need to work at it."

"I want to go home," Amara told her sullenly with a glower.

"Well, you can't right now," her mentor said apologetically, "your house is being renovated."

Amara's head shot up in surprise. "Renovated? Whatever for?"

There wasn't anything wrong with the house, not that Amara could remember, anyways, besides, she liked it as it was.

"Well, it needs to be wheelchair accessible," Dinah told her delicately and Amara, being very firm in her denial of needing a wheelchair, or anything else for that matter to assist her with walking, gave her a glare, which her mentor ignored. "Batman's footing the bill."

"Why?" Amara asked shortly as Dinah pushed her back gently into the bed so as not to aggravate her still healing wounds before her mostly numb legs up onto the bed with her, pulling the sheet up to her waist, as it hiding them from view would make Amara forget about her current condition; it wasn't something she would be forgetting anytime soon.

"Well, he is the head of the Justice League," Dinah told her lightly as Roy returned to his seat, watching his friend carefully. "Though I'm sure that Robin appealed to him, as well." She gave her protégé a wink, which Amara also ignored. "Either way, you're staying put until your wounds are done healing…you're not going anywhere, Amy."

"Great," Amara said, "because I'm exactly a huge fan of being stuck in hospitals."

The scorn when she said 'hospitals' was evident.

Roy snorted and Dinah cracked a smile before a thick scent of spices filled the air and Amara's stomach gave a pitiful moan as Oliver entered bearing a bowl of what she was almost certain was his famous chili.

"I come bearing gifts!" Oliver proclaimed cheerily, and for the first time since she'd been told the news about her legs, Amara smiled, reaching for the chili eagerly, and for a moment she could forget about her injuries and the assortment of problems that had been brought on by them.

Robin stopped by a few days later to find Amara and Wally in the commons area of the Justice League's hospital ward. Amara was no longer wearing a hospital gown, but a simple pajama shirt and pants that wouldn't have looked amiss during the night, but it was only the afternoon.

She was also nestled in a wheelchair, shuffling cards between her hands as Wally spoke animatedly across from her, no doubt attempting to keep her mind off things (he really was a good cousin to her, Robin kept forgetting that they weren't actually related), but Robin couldn't tell if it was actually working…but at least it looked like her injuries had healed for the most part.

"I really don't think she's into you, Wally," Amara told him dryly. "You're probably just setting yourself up for failure."

"I am not!" Wally insisted. "She's totally into me, I swear, she's just, you know, shy about it."

Amara gave him a dubious stare. "Shy, right, I'm sure that's it. Are you sure that you're not confusing being shy with avoiding you?"

"Of course I'm sure!"

Amara rolled her eyes before looking up to see Robin walking towards them in his casual wear with perpetual shades over his eyes (what was the point of that? They were inside for God's sake!) and her eyes glittered and she smiled. "Hey, Robin, come to join the fun?"

She looked both better and worse than when he'd last seen her. There was color back in her cheeks, yes, and she certainly looked healed, but there were still dark circles under her eyes, and she was much thinner, like she hadn't been eating enough to sustain her Metahuman body.

"Poking fun at Wally's nonexistent love life?" Robin asked with a grin, plopping down into the spare chair. "I'm in."

"It is not nonexistent!" Wally countered, glaring at them both as they laughed. "I'm being serious! She is totally into me!"

"Right…" they drawled as one before sniggering at the outraged expression he tossed towards the both of them.

"Wanna play Go Fish?" Amara asked Robin. "We're beyond bored and the adults are actually blocking the exits after my last escape attempt." She shook her head sadly and Robin snorted.

"Why not?" Robin said with a shrug. "I don't have anywhere to be."

Amara hummed in agreement, dealing the cards. "You have a nice-sounding name," she told Robin whose cheeks warmed slightly at the unexpected compliment.

"Um, thanks," he said, scratching his cheek while Wally gaped at his best friend.

"You told her before me?" he demanded outraged. "Way to throw your best friend under the bus, Rob!"

"To be fair, I've known him longer that you," Amara retorted, continuing to deal the cards ("By, like, a few minutes, how is that fair?"), "besides, you're too fast for a bus to run you over."

Robin sniggered again as Wally swiped up his cards and scowled at them both. "That's an unimportant detail."

"I feel it's a very important detail if you're about to be run over, don't you think?"

And then they laughed at Wally's expense.

Amara felt like her room was supersized, even though it wasn't vastly larger than it had been when she'd last been in the house, but compared to what it used to be, the difference was a bit significant and there was just so much space, leaving Amara a bit at a loss as she sat awkwardly in her wheelchair.

"You didn't have to do this," she told her parents, her fingers wound tightly around the stems of the Chrysanthemum bouquet that Wally and Robin –Richard, she had to remind herself– had given her while she'd been in the hospital, and since they had yet to die, she had brought them with her quite happily. "I would've managed."

"We know, sweetie," Iris said, kneeling beside her wheelchair so that they were more level. Amara felt a pang; she might not have been very tall before, but her mother hadn't had to kneel in order for them to be more level. "But we want to make your life a little easier, if we can. I know…I know none of this is easy, but you're not doing this alone. You've got me, your father, and all your friends to help you out."

Amara gave her a dry stare. "You say that like I've got so many friends, Mom."

And her mother laughed while her father curled a stray lock of hair around her ear as he smiled. "Don't be afraid to ask us for help, all right, we'll always come when you call."

Amara thought that might be a bit difficult if they were working and resolved not to call them when they were at work, no matter what they said, Amara didn't need them taking sick days just to help her move up and down stairs that she could clearly float down to forming a cloud around herself.

"I'll keep it in mind," she promised, lying right through her teeth, but neither parent picked up on it, for which Amara was grateful.

Then she wheeled carefully across the floor that still had the carpeting –she was sure they were debating about ripping it out and replacing it with wooden panels to make it easier for Amara to wheel across it and were only waiting for Amara's decision before doing so– coming close to the bed and pulling on a short lever on each side of the wheelchair in order to lock the wheels into place so she could try her hand at getting into bed by herself.

Barry surged forward to assist, but Iris drew him back as Amara hoisted herself onto the bed with a little bit of effort.

She shrugged off her jacket before pulling herself into the center of the bed, and then pulling the blankets out from under her in order to pull them up her body. "Goodnight," she said, a bit flatly when she realized that her parents were simply staring at her as if waiting for her to do something that required their assistance.

"Goodnight, Amy," Barry and Iris said as one before turning off the light and closing the door quietly behind them.

And Amara just lay in the bed staring up at the ceiling, feeling so completely and utterly alone despite being surrounded by so much love and care.

Chapter Text

Not being able to use her legs was probably the worst thing that could have ever happened to Amara, and that was counting her father attempting to electrocute her when she was younger.

If Amara actually liked her birthdays, then she would have found her twelfth to be the worst birthday ever, but she didn't, so it was just like any other day.

It'd been a week since her release from the League's hospital ward and Amara's physical injuries were fully healed, and Amara was already ahead on her studies, which left her with a lot of spare time. Unfortunately, she'd usually spend her free time training or patrolling with Speedy, but that wasn't really an option for her now. She could train her upper body, obviously, but Amara had been too focused on her moping for that, so Robin had given her a second option.

Hacking was not what Iris considered a good past-time, but Barry seemed to be grateful that she had something to take her mind off her condition, hence why he had had one of the spare rooms in the Cave decked out with computers just for her use. There was the large one in the main area, but Amara preferred something a bit more tangible than holographic.

Thankfully, she'd had some hacking skill before, though she was nowhere near as good as Robin was (and the boy had agreed to drop by on the weekends to help her hone her skill), so it didn't seem nearly as difficult as it would have been if she'd just been starting out.

Her fingers flew across the board, typing out some code before an image from a video camera popped up.

"Are you sure you're not just having me do this to keep busy?" Amara asked, unamused, pursing her lips as the comm.-link in her ear transmitted to Roy's.

"Come on, like you need me to distract you," he responded and Amara could practically hear him rolling his eyes.

Amara ignored him, adjusting the camera's view until it fixed on him where he was crouched on the edge of the building's roof. "Turn around and smile, Speedy."

Roy swiveled until he was looking on the camera with its blinking red light and he flipped it off with a smirk.

"Well, that's not very nice," Amara said with a bit of faux-affront, "and here I thought you liked me."

"It depends on the day, to be perfectly honest," Roy replied, and he wasn't lying. The first few days of adapting to not be able to fully use her legs had probably been the worst, back when she'd been angry at everything.

Amara grabbed a few M&M's, plopping them in her mouth. "I just love it when you say such sweet things to me, Speedy," she said around the chocolate.

"Yeah," he said dryly, "I'm sure you do."

"So, where do you want me?"

"Can you hack all the security cameras on all the floors of the building?" Roy asked and Amara could practically hear the wince in his voice. "I'm not sure how he's going to try to get in."

"'Can I hack all the security cameras on all the floors of the building?'" Amara muttered to herself, glaring as he chuckled. "Screw you buddy! Why don't you try your hand at hacking, which frankly, I know you're quite terrible at—"

"Well, can you?"

"Of course I can!" Amara spluttered. "They're all on the same system, so no problem, honestly, you're asking me these questions like I'm a complete novice."

Now she was pretty sure his eyes were fixed skywards and he was wondering what on earth he had done to deserve such a partner (which was something he did at least two times every time they were in each other's presence), but she focused on coding until several different cameras popped up on the various screens.

"All right, looks like Clock King hasn't shown up yet," she said, eyes glancing over all of them. "He'd be rather easy to spot, in that ridiculous outfit of his…honestly, what was he even thinking?"

Amara supposed she couldn't really be one to judge, given her tendency to favor darker colors, but even that was better than wearing images of clocks all over your body. The Clock King was a fashion disaster.

Speedy chuckled and Amara spun in her chair.

"You know, Kid Flash is fighting with his parents again," she told him after a moment of silence while Amara glanced over the footage.

"He is?" he asked, startled. "Why?"

"Well, it was a bit difficult for him to convince them to let him be Flash's sidekick in the first place, and after they saw what happened to me…well, I guess they're afraid of what'll happen if one day he isn't fast enough."

Amara chewed on the inside of her cheek. "Could you imagine him not as Kid Flash, though? I think that would probably kill him the most."

"Probably," Roy agreed. "Is he staying with you, then?"

"Not yet, but he does drop by a lot to visit, so I guess things are still a bit tense at home," Amara surmised, tapping her fingers against the desk in thought as they settled into silence once more.

"Oh, yeah, happy birthday."

Her expression soured.

"And I know you hate celebrating, but I still got you something; it should be at your house when you get home."

"You really didn't have to do that," she said with a sigh.

"If I want to buy my partner a present for her birthday, then that's what I'm going to do," he sniffed in an arrogant manner than Amara didn't believe for a second. "So you can just suck it up."

"I hate you."

"No you don't."

She shook her head, smiling fondly. No, she didn't.

When she got back to her room that night there was a red box and a small note on her bed. The note was from Oliver and read: There's a pot of my chili in your fridge, for the girl with great taste in chili. –O

Amara couldn't help but smile at that.

Then she opened the red box –clearly Roy's gift, he loved the color red far too much– to reveal a small crossbow that was solid black.

Just in case you need some backup when no one's around, it read in Roy's untidy scrawl.

And no matter how angry Amara was about her situation, she was grateful for the gift.

Then her eyes caught what lay beneath his gift and she lifted it up. It was a framed photograph of the heroes of Star City out of uniform, Dinah with an arm wrapped around Amara's shoulders and Oliver's around Roy's as they all laughed at something out of the frame.

Amara chewed on her lip, swallowing the lump in her throat. Trust Dinah to give her a gift that would choke her up.

Late into that night Amara woke up screaming, terror in her throat and in her eyes, because there was nothing more frightening than trying to run from something you couldn't see only to remember that you couldn't run at all.

Not even the soothing tones her parents spoke in nor the calming circles they rubbed into her back helped calm her racing heart.

Pamela was becoming bored, which she hadn't thought was possible being surrounded by plants and flowers, but it had been over two weeks now and there had still been no trace of her daughter.

Pamela tapped a finger against the counter when the automatic door swung open.

"Welcome to Bouquet Boutique," she said cheerily and automatically before pausing as a wheelchair rolled through the door bearing a young girl with a head of dark messy curls, wet from the rain, and green eyes the color of leaves, the same shape and color of Pamela's own. And her breath caught in her throat; she was more beautiful in the flesh than she was in the images.

Amara, her daughter, blinked at her in surprise.

"Where's Sandra?" she asked, looking at the woman blankly, and Pamela memorized the sound of her voice.

"Oh," Pamela said weakly before clearing her throat, "she's sorting out a new shipment…I'm her new hire, Pamela Quinley, but everyone calls me Ella."

Amara nodded, wheeling forward. "I'm Amara Allen, but everyone calls me Amy."

Pamela gave her a smile. "You're the girl that got the bouquet of Chrysanthemums, right?" she asked, pretending like she didn't know.

Her daughter's eyes glittered. "That's me. My cousin Wally thought they might make me feel better…" Her smile fell and she looked down mournfully at her legs.

Pamela felt a spike of unadulterated rage towards Merlyn for the current condition of her only child.

Instead, she took a calming breath and said, "Sandra says you're her most enthusiastic volunteer."

Amara smiled sheepishly, a pale flush of pleasure adorning her cheeks. "I just really like plants and flowers."

Pamela gave her a wink. "Me too."

Amara gave a short laugh that rang in Pamela's ears even hours after she'd heard it, and it echoed with the sound of the distant thunder as the rain pattered against the windows.

Then the door opened again and a blond-haired man entered, holding it open for Sandra as she thanked him with an easy grin, carrying several bundles of flowers in her arms, and she gave Amara a red-painted smile as she made her way to the counter Pamela was standing behind.

"Hey, Amy, how're you doing?"

It was clear that the reason Amara's father had lingered in the rain was to explain his daughter's condition to Sandra.

"Building up my upper body strength," Amara responded easily, her hands on the wheels of her wheelchair in order to spin it slowly in a careful circle, "what else?"

Sandra laughed and Amara's father gave a small sigh. "Your dad is finally letting you volunteer, huh? Officially."

Amara grinned. "It's a birthday present. I conned him into it…besides, who can resist a face like mine?"

Pamela supposed that being in the wheelchair might've helped in her favor, but she certainly wasn't one to complain. Instead, she cast her eyes to her daughter's adoptive father. The only reason she could think of him being reluctant in allowing his child to be around plants was if he knew about Amara's birth mother.

"I'm sure that's it," her father said, leaning down to press a kiss to her brow that made her pout.

"And I see you've met our new hire," Sandra continued, gesticulating towards Pamela and his eyes flashed to hers, allowing her to see a flash of surprise and a bit of befuddlement; he might have known that the biological mother to Amara Allen was Poison Ivy, but he had never seen her in her civilian form. "This is Pamela Quinley."

"Just Ella will do," Pamela said kindly.

"I think Pamela's a pretty name," Amara told her, turning to look at Pamela once more. "It's my middle name."

Pamela gave her another wink as Barry checked his watch.

"Well, I'll leave you ladies to it," he said, sweeping a stray curl behind Amara's ear. "Sweetie, I'll be back for you around four, all right?"

Amara made a shooing motion with her hands. "Get back to work, Dad, I've got roses to de-thorn."

He gave her a small laugh in return before bidding her farewell and leaving her with Pamela and Sandra and Amara sighed.

"He's worried about me," she lamented, "last night I woke up screaming and just about gave him and Mom a heart-attack."

Her calling someone else 'Mom' was like a knife in the heart, but Pamela couldn't blame her for that, she was sure that from how Amara had reacted around her father, it was clear that they were good to her, and for now, that would have to do.

And for the next few hours Pamela was in a prolonged moment of bliss, merely being in her daughter's presence, listening to her speak, hearing her laugh, seeing her smile…for now, it was enough.

A small box tumbled out of the backpack looped over the wheelchair's handles when Amara was getting ready for bed, pulling herself from the wheelchair into the bed, her hair wild and wet from the shower. She ran a hand through her hair, tangling her fingers into the grey locks before reaching over the edge of the bed to grasp the box and pull it back up with her –in an impressive display of balance despite the lack of use in her legs.

She examined it with a frown, scrutinizing it intently. It couldn't have been a gift from her parents, because they'd already given her her birthday present, a brand new laptop, and Amara certainly didn't recognize it from anywhere.

Amara couldn't help but be suspicious. Getting random gifts didn't usually end well for the recipient –Amara had once seen a well placed grenade take out a man the second the lid to the box he was holding had been lifted…it had been startling and horrifying and gave Amara a steep suspicion of unmarked boxes.

But she still had a boundless curiosity that couldn't stop her from opening it. She tilted the box's lid open, pulling out a folded piece of paper on which were scrawled the words: Happy Birthday, Daughter.

Amara's breath caught in her throat as she read the words in a curly, unfamiliar scrawl. She knew her mother's handwriting, and it was nowhere close to the handwriting on the paper.

She swallowed, closing her eyes. Her mother, her real mother, she had left this for her. And Amara thought about all the times Barry had said that he didn't have any idea who her mother was…but now she knew who Amara was.

The thought got Amara unexpectedly choked up; a biological parent of hers that didn't actually blame her for existing…how strange it was to her.

Her fingers traced over the word 'daughter' before she passed the paper over beside her to lift a delicate silver chain from the box that bore a single charm, a green ivy leaf.

And Amara spun it around her wrist twice over before clipping it in place and examining the charm that glittered in the light.

"We'll meet someday," she murmured despite knowing that whoever her mother was couldn't hear her. "I hope you'll be proud of me."

And then she pulled her laptop towards her, opening to her profile on the JL Database. The image of a sidekick with green eyes peering through a black mask dominated the page, but under Status, Amara changed it from Active to Retired/Inactive before saving the details and shutting it off with a sigh.

Storm Chaser wouldn't be out on the streets anymore, so might as well make it official.

It still hurt, though, shutting away what had been a part of so much of her life…but Amara would have to adapt, good thing she was so good at that.

Wally and Amara were propped up on her bed with her laptop between them as they watched Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope, which was Wally's favorite of the Star Wars movies, even though Amara was sold on the one that followed.

It was a Friday night and Wally had zipped over to his aunt and uncle's place with a bag readily packed, eager to be out of his house, where the tension was so heavy that Wally was practically choking on it.

Amara had been unsurprised to see him, greeting him with a lily tangled artfully in her hair ("Like it?" she asked with a grin, "Ella helped me with it.") which clashed with her tom-boy-esque fashion sense, but Wally knew better than to comment on it.

"I heard you retired," he mentioned over the sound of lasers firing.

"News spreads fast, I guess," Amara grumbled, pulling her bowl of raspberries towards her (seriously, she had some kind of addiction with the fruit). "Yeah, I retired. It's not like a Storm Chaser without use of her legs is much use at all."

Wally could practically taste the bitterness on her words.

"Dad wants me to see Dinah as a therapist," Amara added, wrinkling her nose with distaste. "Well, that didn't really go over well."

Wally could imagine.

"Have you ever heard of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross?" she asked him instead.

"Not really," Wally admitted, scratching his head thoughtfully. "Who is she?"

"This lady that came up with the five stages of grief," Amara said before ticking them off on her fingers, "denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance…I keep going from depression to anger and I don't think Mom and Dad really know quite what to do with me."

She had been even-tempered before, but now…her mood swings were sudden and generally violent. Ironically like a storm.

Wally paused the video to twist his head to look at her. "Don't say that, they're probably just learning to deal with their daughter being in a wheelchair."

Amara bit her tongue to keep from mentioning that that was better than actually being the one in the wheelchair.

Then Wally scratched his cheek. "That may have come out a little wrong."

And she gave him a rather wry smile. "It came out fine, Wally."

"Hm," Wally said in reply before his eyes brightened and he grinned at her, "what about this? I read a study about how when you lose one sense your other senses try to compensate for the loss."

Amara arched an eyebrow as if to say 'And?'

"Well, think about it like this…you can't use your legs hardly at all, but your upper body strength is the same as ever and you've still got that big brain of yours that Rob says you've been using for hacking—"

"I'm not all that great at it," Amara discounted.

"But you're practicing at it, aren't you?" Wally asked her and Amara gave a small huff. "Why don't you do something for the League while you heal, behind a computer screen?"

"And what would they call me?" Amara asked dryly.

Wally thought for a moment.

"Oracle," he decided and Amara blinked, "you know like those Ancient Greek prophets of Apollo? They were pretty all-knowing, and you can be too, you know, once you get a bit better at it."

Amara, who had been smiling thoughtfully at the idea sudden elbowed him in the side once he finished speaking.

"Hey," she warned, "I'll hack into your school and change all your As to Cs."

And Wally went positively white, recoiling away from her in a manner that made her release a short laugh before starting up the movie again as her cousin looked on her with grudging respect.

"So, what's she like?"

Pamela's partner Harleen Quinzel's –otherwise known by the persona she'd taken on, Harley Quinn– blared through the speaker of her cell as she unpacked boxes in her apartment.

The eco-terrorist had always come from money, old money, but it certainly didn't show in the apartment, which was rather modest, but it would probably have looked a bit strange if a floral assistant could afford a larger apartment than her salary could cover.

"She's perfect," Pamela sighed, "she's beautiful and wonderful and snarky and…and she's mine, Harl, I never would have thought her possible, but here she is!"

Her girlfriend was sure to hear the emotion clogging her throat. "Did you send her that bracelet?"

"Yes," Pamela said, a wide smile gracing her face as she did so, "she was wearing it the very next day."

She had had to contain her enthusiasm when she'd seen the silver chain around her daughter's wrist, especially since she'd worried over the gift for the whole day (and slipping the box into her bag when she wasn't looking had certainly been a trial), but it seemed that she'd worried over nothing.

"So, she does know you exist," Harley said on the other end, following the sound of a shotgun, but Pamela wasn't concerned; Harley could take care of herself, "she just doesn't have any idea who you are."

"No, she doesn't," Pamela said, sounding as though those words alone had brought the wind out of her sails. "But I think it would be better for her to know me first as a person before springing the whole 'Hey, Amy, I'm your biological mother, Poison Ivy!' on her…besides, she's not in a good way…"

Harley growled. "Want me to swing by Star City and shoot up Merlyn for you?"

Pamela honestly considered it. Merlyn certainly deserved it for putting her baby in a wheelchair for perhaps months, but… "No, at least, not yet…people might get suspicious about things like that."

And Pamela couldn't really afford heroes being suspicious about her assumed identity right now.

"Just say the word, Girlfriend, and I'll stick him with so many bullets he'll only be identified by his uniform," Harley responded flirtatiously and Pamela gave a small giggle.

"I'll keep that in mind," she promised, hoisting a thick fern from a box to the ledge by her window. "I was thinking about coming back for the weekend, what do you think about that?"

"I think I've got a bit of an opening," Harley responded and Pamela imagined her winking at her for good measure and it made her smile. "Bearing the week alone for an angel on the weekend…who wouldn't want that?"

And Pamela fell in love with her all over again. Their current situation was complicated especially with how Pamela had left Gotham City so suddenly when she'd heard the rumors only to discover that they were true. And in order for Pamela to familiarize herself with her daughter, she had to remain in Central City, even though her home was in Gotham City.

Anyone other than Harley would have called quits on a long distance relationship like that, but not Harley, she was determined to make it work, and so was Pamela.

"Harl…I know this isn't easy for you," Pamela added, switching off the speaker to replace the phone at her ear, "and just…thanks for being so understanding."

"Well, she is one half of you, so she can't be all bad," Harley reasoned though there was a bit of gentleness to her voice. "Besides, you've always wanted a child of your own and what kind of person would I be if I denied you that."

Pamela swallowed before she spoke thickly blinking rapidly. "I love you, Harl."

"Same, Red! Oops, looks like the police are on their way, gotta go!"

Her girlfriend's mad cackle was cut short as the phone shut off and Pamela gave a small sigh, sitting down on her small bed and looking around the blank room.

"Here's to starting fresh," the woman murmured.

But, being Pamela Quinley couldn't be so bad, there were worse things to be by far, and not everyone could say that they got a chance to meet the daughter they'd never known that they'd had.

So, things were looking up for Pamela Quinley.

Chapter Text

Robin had never been inside Mount Justice before, but he knew it was the first place to look for Amara if she wasn't at home and wasn't at work (if Robin hacked the video cameras, he'd never tell). He could have stayed home for the day –school was out for that day– but he'd had nothing but radio silence from Amara since she'd gotten out of the hospital, and it had been a month since then. Robin talked quite a bit with Wally (they were best friends, after all) and he'd said that Amara was cycling from good days to bad days.

"Recognize: Robin –B01" came the disembodied artificial voice, announcing his arrival and he blinked as the light from the zeta-tube faded.

The Cave, as it was commonly called, was larger than he'd expected, despite the fact that he knew it was hidden inside the mountain…it wasn't quite what he had expected, but he didn't have much time to marvel, opting to search the Cave's computer for Amara's location and then moving in the direction it indicated.

Then he found himself in what must have been the workout area of the Cave. There was an assortment equipment around, even a set of trapezes on the ceiling, but Amara was on the bars, her wheelchair close at hand while she had her own hands wrapped around a bar, pulling her chin up over the bar before loosening slightly and starting again.

Sweat beaded her brow and her breathing was short; Robin couldn't imagine how long she had been training, but it looked like a long time. But the most surprising thing had to be that Amara had hacked off her wild curls that had been growing out so that her curls seemed even wilder from their shortness. Robin didn't think he'd ever seen her with such short hair before and it was difficult wrap his head around.

But, before he could even take a step forward, Amara's grip had slipped and she yelped as she fell to the floor.

"Hey, are you all right?" Robin moved to her side, and if Amara was surprised by his presence, she didn't show it, though that might have had more to do with her pain masking it.

"I'm –fine," Amara hisses through gritted teeth and a contorted face that made it plain that she wasn't but wouldn't admit it. She pushed herself off her back to lean forward in a sitting position, her legs resting limply in front of her, before propping her back against one of the bar's poles as she scrutinized him. "What're you doing here? Don't you have school?"

"Not today," Robin said with a shrug. "I thought you could use some company."

Amara glared, but it lacked the usual fire. "I wish everyone would stop treating me like I'm freaking porcelain!"

Sparks of electricity came off her hands and Robin stepped back briefly before plopping down opposite her, noting the bruising on her thighs that he imagined had come from her own fists, angry at the lack of use in her legs.

"We're not treating you like you're porcelain," Robin couldn't stop a snort, "you're not nearly that breakable."

"Thanks," Amara said dryly, rolling her eyes before she pressed a hand over them, hiding them from view.

"Does it hurt?" he asked her quietly, pretending not to notice how she scrubbed at her eyes, wiping away the vestiges of her tears.

"Normally? A little. Now? A lot." Amara winced, reaching a hand behind her rub at the skin over her spine, but it did little to ease her pain. "I feel like my nerve endings are on fire."

"Didn't the League doctors give you some pain meds?"

"I lost them," Amara lamented, looking so pitiful that Robin couldn't help but feel sorry for her as she tugged the wheelchair towards her with one hand before condensing the air around her into her own personal cloud and levitating herself into the seat.

Robin wasn't sure he'd ever seen her quite so miserable.

"Hey, you know it's okay to us for help, right?" he asked her, standing to drop a hand to her arm.

"I'm overwhelmed by your concern, but I'll manage fine," Amara said, wheeling away from him.

"Overwhelmed," Robin muttered, "why isn't everyone ever just whelmed?"

"Um, 'cause it's not a word, Rob!" Amara called from the workout room entrance and Robin jogged to meet her.

"It's a great word!"

"You're a dork," Amara retorted, giving a light laugh, wheeling into the resting area.

"So, how're things being Oracle?" Robin asked her when she rolled up the couch. If she'd still been Storm Chaser, she would have shot him a grin and a wink with a jaunty "Way better than being Robin, little bird" but she didn't. Instead, she braked the wheels and pulled herself up onto the couch on limbs that were probably sore from her workout. She probably only used her powers sparingly with her current disability.

"My brain bleeds from the effort," she said, sighing heavily as she pulled her laptop out of her bag where she'd left it. "But it's still better than sitting around and doing nothing…how're things in Gotham?"

"The usual," Robin said with a shrug, pulling out his own laptop that he'd brought along to help her with her hacking skills.

"Dude," Amara said suddenly, turning towards him, "is Batman your dad?"

It was the most animated Robin had seen her in a long time in a manner that didn't have anything to do with anger.

"Um," Robin said, choking on his tongue, "well…"

"I knew it!" Amara pumped her fist. "Who would have thought that Bruce Wayne was behind that mask? No wonder your dad doesn't complain about you running off in the night, chasing down criminals; he's with you the whole time!"

And Robin could only rub the back of his neck sheepishly.

Amara's enthusiasm distracted him from noticing just how exhausted she was. Her pain medication had probably just rolled under her bed, but she had been slowly weaned off her sleeping pills and there was hardly a day that went by when she didn't wake up breaking hard, feeling like Merlyn was standing over her, arrows stabbing into her skin.

But the human body could only take so much, and not sleeping wasn't very good for her health…but she'd still take no sleep over nightmares any day.

Later that night, after the Allens finished dinner, Amara keeled suddenly out of her wheelchair and onto the floor, unmoving. It was enough to startle her parents into rushing her back to the League's hospital ward, worried about wounds reopening, the paralysis spreading to her arms as well, but all Amara was diagnosed with was a serious case of insomnia, and all while Amara was fast asleep, caught in a web of terrifying dreams.

This was the most ridiculous situation that Amara had ever found herself in to date, and that was saying something, because Amara had been in a number of strange situations. But never before had she been forced into mandatory counseling.

So, Amara kept her arms crossed and a scowl present on her lips as she fervently ignored her mentor in favor of glowering at the light fracture pattern against the stone wall.

"Amy, you're going to have to talk sometime," Black Canary said gently.

"I don't feel like it," Amara responded in a burst of childishness.

"Amara," Dinah pressed, her eyes hard diamonds, "you went without sleep for four days, collapsed from exhaustion, and had to be hospitalized again…it would be concerning even without your present condition." Dinah leaned forward in her chair, her eyes imploring. "You may not be in the field right now, but you're still my sidekick, Amy, and your well-being matters to me as well as your parents."

Amara breathed out sharply, tilting her head back to look up at the ceiling…the color reminded her of the roof of Queen Industries…her feet had barely touched it before—

She squeezed her eyes shut, pressing a hand to her forehead, willing the memories away –the fear that choked her, the pain that left her crying in agony– but they didn't part from her willingly.

"Amy." Dinah's cool fingers against her protégé's made Amara jump, jolting back when she saw her mentor had come to sit against the small coffee table that had separated them. "You have some serious PTSD…what happened to you was incredibly traumatic, but keeping your feelings locked up inside you isn't good for your health…you need to let someone in."

But Amara didn't want to let anyone in, she didn't want to tell anyone how afraid she was…she didn't want anyone to see the cracks in her façade, so she stifled her screams when she awoke and blinked away the tears.

"This will eat you up, and I think you've already felt that," Black Canary said.

And Amara had.

She ripped her hand from Dinah's, leaning her head forward, towards her knees, her fingers digging into her head, knotting into her short locks.

"I can't," she whispered, "If I—" Her words were momentarily choked in her throat and she couldn't manage to get them out. "You'll think I'm weak." The words were spoken so low that Dinah almost didn't catch them.

"No," she denied, pulling Amara's hands gently away from her head, "I could never think of you as weak, Amara…you are so strong and so stubborn, and I think that's the only thing keeping you together right now."

Amara leaned back to rest her head against the armchair's back cushions and Dinah could see just how miserable her protégé was. Her eyes were haunted and frightened, her tears clinging desperately to her eyelashes before they trickled slowly down her cheeks.

"I –I can't sleep," Amara admitted, swallowing thickly, "every time I close my eyes, I see him standing over me –I feel those arrows– the pills help for a little while, but then it's harder and harder to wake up and then I'm just stuck there, reliving it over and over again, and it doesn't stop!" The horror saturated her words.

"It will get better."

"When?" Amara asked brokenly.

"When you don't let him win," Dinah said simply.

"He's already won," Amara spat angrily, swiping the tears from her cheeks as she gestured down at herself. "Look at me! He took my legs from me! I can't be Storm Chaser anymore! I'm no one!"

"No," Dinah corrected, "you are someone, someone very important, to the League, to Star City, to your family…Amara Allen isn't no one, Amara Allen is someone extraordinary."

Amara scoffed, looking away from her.

"It's true that you have a long road ahead of you for the healing process to come full circle, but look at what you've accomplished already. You can hardly use your legs, so you've enhanced your mind in response…you're well on your way to becoming better at hacking than Robin…Oracle is just as important as Storm Chaser, if you ask me…so, what are you really afraid of?"

Amara's head snapped back towards her, her outrage at the insinuation dying in her throat before she could come up with a biting retort.

"Storm Chaser is who I am," she said finally, "do you think it's easy for me, shutting that part of my life away? Officially retiring Storm Chaser? Its hard and it hurts when I see you and Ollie and Roy go off on patrol and I know I should be joining you but I just –can't!"

Her bitter words caused one hand to form into a fist and punch against her thigh.

"But is being Oracle quite so bad?"

"No, it's not bad," Amara decided after a moment of contemplation, "but if I had to choose between Storm Chaser and Oracle, I know who I'd pick."

And Dinah did too.

"Sleeping better?"

Amara looked up from the register, cataloguing shipments while Sandra was out for the hour, where she was perched on the high stool –where she had pulled herself up with only a small amount of help via aero-kinesis when Pamela wasn't looking– to where Pamela was putting together a bouquet for a wedding.

And Amara had to grimace. "It's not that obvious, is it?"

Pamela gave her a light smile. "Not if you don't want it to be."

A grateful look was shot in Pamela's direction. Amara really liked Pamela, she was patient and always listened to what she had to say and she was very kind. She reminded her a bit of Iris, but she'd never say that; no one could replace her mother in her mind.

"My parents sent me to a therapist," Amara admitted, spinning her pen between her fingers, "after I collapsed from sleep deprivation…apparently I have a lot of unresolved issues."

Amara rolled her eyes, but Pamela gave a small laugh.

"Don't we all?" she asked, arching an eyebrow for good measure and Amara smiled with her, before eyeing her in contemplation.

"Why does Sandra think you're overqualified for the job?" she asked her curiously and Pamela paused, looking up in surprise.

"I imagine it might have something to do with my doctorate," Pamela said, de-thorning a white rose.

"In what?" Amara asked with interest.

"Botany and toxicology," Pamela said, watching her reaction.

"Cool," Amara grinned. "Doctor Pamela Quinley…" She cast a wink towards her co-worker who gave another short trilling laugh. "So what's an accomplished woman like yourself doing working in a flower shop?"

"Oh, I just wanted a bit of a change of pace," Pamela said with a shrug, "things were…intense…at my last job, so I wanted a place where I could relax a bit, but still enjoy it."

Amara had to concede that it sounded a bit nice, though she herself missed the intense atmosphere that was always there when you were a sidekick; now she was doing what Pamela was, sitting back in the Cave or in her room, relaying information and looking up information that Roy, Ollie, and Dinah didn't have access to.

"Got any plans for your future?" Pamela inquired, artfully tying a bow around the collection of flowers' stalks, binding them tightly together.

"Something in science, obviously," Amara said, tapping her pen to her lip thoughtfully, "science is my best subject…but not really sure what I want to do, maybe I'll do something forensic, like Dad, but being a doctor would be pretty cool too." Amara's eyes glittered. "Doctor Amara Allen."

Then she laughed. "Probably not, but who knows, I don't really need to know what I want to do with my life yet. Ask me again when I'm sixteen."

"I'll make a note of it," Pamela promised and Amara didn't have any reason to doubt her.

The first time Amara met the assassin Cheshire she had been eleven, eager to prove her worth, battering her bo-staff against the assassin's sais to little avail.

She had seen how her enemy's eyes gleamed behind that mask of hers; she honestly enjoyed their spar, even though Cheshire was the one who had come out on top.

Cheshire had hopped up into the trees, calling to her in a voice as smooth as silk and as venomous as a Death Adder, "Maybe we can help each other out."

"I don't think so," Amara had replied, lunging forward only to find herself in a cloud of smoke, and once it had cleared, the assassin was gone.

But it had been an age since Amara had seen her, so it came as a surprise when the assassin stepped into her way as she was wheeling her way home –it was only a short distance from the zeta-tube to her house, and though she was sure it was rather late and Barry and Iris would have felt more comfortable about their daughter staying at the Cave after hours than wheeling her way home in the dark, Amara would much rather sleep in her own bed.

"Well, well, I had heard some rumors about Storm Chaser giving up the whole heroing gig," Cheshire purred and Amara pulled her wheels to a stop, her eyes narrowed, her charm from Zatara swinging from her ear lobe.

"How did you know it was me?" Amara asked finally, crossing her arms at the assassin, feeling remarkably at ease in her presence, despite that the woman had the skill to take her head off if she felt like it.

"Research, Storm, good old fashioned research." Amara could practically hear her smirk.

"Sorry to hear about your legs," she added, and there was something in her voice that made Amara think she'd dealt with someone in a similar situation. "You were kickass."

"If by 'kickass' you mean you kicked my ass, then yes, I was totally 'kickass'," Amara said dryly, and that made the elder of the two actually laugh and Amara wasn't sure that she'd ever heard such a sound from the assassin before.

"I'm liking you, Storm!"

Amara ignored that comment, making a small gesture with her hand. "I know you didn't come here to make small talk…what is it that you want?" Amara probed.

"How about a location of a certain someone?"

Amara wasn't even sure why she was considering helping the assassin; they were on very opposite sides of the ally spectrum for good and evil. But the assassin had saved her life once and Amara hated being in others' debts.

"Hero or villain?" she queried.

"Villain," Cheshire said shortly, tilting her head slightly so that she was eerily reminiscent of the cat from Alice in Wonderland, from whom she had taken the name Cheshire.

Amara sighed, tugging on a stray curl of her short hair. "Pull my backpack off the bars, would you?"

Cheshire did as she asked, her body carefully tensed, ready for an attack that didn't come as Amara pulled her laptop from within its depths, turning it on, her fingers leaping across the keyboard.

"Name?" Amara prompted.

"Sportsmaster," Cheshire said and Amara looked up in surprise, but she didn't comment, "also known as Lawrence Crock…I have reason to believe he might be heading for Star City."

"I think it would be better of me not to ask why," Amara muttered, shrinking the parameters for her search to Star City."

"Probably wise," Cheshire said, the words curling off her tongue, watching Amara intently as she focused on the laptop.

"You could have gone to anyone to help you get information," Amara said, waiting for the search of the various cameras in Star City –and there were a lot, but Amara couldn't help that– as she lifted her gaze to fix Cheshire with a pointed stare, "why come to me?"

"Worried?" Cheshire leaned forward, her words a low purr and Amara leaned back in her wheelchair's seat.

"How about confused?" she offered instead, arching an eyebrow. "I do work in collaboration with the Justice League and you've always made it clear that you're not a fan of them."

Cheshire straightened once more. "My last contact tried to double-cross me and you clearly have no interest in that, especially since you owe me one," Amara scowled at the mention of her debt to the assassin, but she didn't speak of it, "besides, we have something in common."

"A villain father?" Amara snorted.

"Exactly." Cheshire scrutinized her from behind her mask. "But look how you turned out; the sidekick to a hero."

"I think I'll take that as a compliment," Amara said, her eyes scanning over the result that cropped up. "It looks like he's disembarked a plane that landed one hour ago. Facial recognition nabbed him, but it didn't set off any League alarms…which I will worry about tomorrow…" She swiveled the laptop around for Cheshire to observe herself and then the assassin reeled back with a swear.

"I wasn't expecting him to be there already," she said bitterly, "I'll never be able to catch up with him now."

"Not on foot, or a plane, or a helicopter," Amara agreed, shutting her laptop and shoving it back into her bag, "but I'm willing to give you an alternative."

"An alternative?" Amara could hear the sharp humor in her voice. "What'll it cost me?"

One good turn deserved another, but Amara knew it would be good to have an assassin owing her a favor; what was the worst that could happen?

"Silence –you don't tell anyone it was me or how I got you there– and a favor for me, obviously," Amara said, rolling her eyes for good measure as she pulled her bag over her shoulders. "Deal?"

Cheshire considered her options –she wouldn't have been Cheshire if she didn't– before she said, "Deal." And then she knelt so that Amara could wrap her arms around her shoulders, the assassin locking her arms around her unresponsive legs. "Someone's going to notice that wheelchair in the middle of the sidewalk."

Amara seemed remarkably unconcerned. "My parents won't be pleased…but I'll just say you kidnapped me at blade-point, that should work."

Cheshire snorted. "You are a conniving little sidekick, I'll give you that."

"I do aim to please," Amara said dryly before directing her forward in the direction of the nearest zeta-tube. After this, they'd likely have to move it, but Amara didn't really care; she was an adrenaline junkie after all, and for the first time since her accident, she was doing something slightly dangerous.

"Through there," she said, nodding to the abandoned photo booth that was just big enough for the two of them.

"Oracle –B00, Authorized Guest," Amara told the dark screen flatly, giving the override code to allow Cheshire to accompany her. "Destination: Star City."

A scanning light appeared, running the length of the pair.

"Destination confirmed," the computer responded. "Recognize: Oracle –B00, Authorized Guest."

And then they vanished into the zeta-beam.

"Oracle, huh?" Cheshire snorted as they arrived in a slightly more cramped space than before. "That's catchy."

"Oh, shut up," Amara muttered, "if I don't make fun of your name, you can't make fun of mine…now find the nearest bench to drop me on."

Cheshire maneuvered them carefully out of the small closet and into a dark alley. "And leave you there?" she asked dubiously, making Amara wonder if she'd ever had to take care of anyone like Amara before.

"I've got a cell," Amara said, rolling her eyes, "I can call Speedy to pick me up."

"The red-haired archer, right?" Cheshire's voice had taken on an almost sultry tone as she helped Amara off her back, easing her onto the nearest bench under a flickering light. "Give him a message for me, would you?"

She lifted her mask slightly and Amara felt a pair of lips against her cheek. "Tell him I'm looking forward to our next meeting," she purred before disappearing in a cloud of smoke like the last time they'd met and Amara was left sitting on that bench, gaping slightly.

Then she pulled out her cell, selecting her speed-dial for Arrowhead.

A tired voice answered, "Yeah?"

"Um, hey, this is probably a bad time, but could you come pick me up?" Amara asked, picking at a stray thread on her shirt.

"Amy?" he asked blearily. "What're you talking about?"

"I'm in Star City…no wheelchair…stuck outside the zeta-tube, so can you come get me?"

She could hear the faint sound of rustling on his end. "All right, I'm on my way, don't move."

It would probably be in poor taste for Amara to point out she wasn't really going anywhere with her legs. But, either way, he was going to have some questions for her, and she had one for him: How in the name of sanity had he managed to attract an assassin?

Roy Harper had some explaining to do.

Chapter Text


"Yeah?" Oliver rolled over to face his girlfriend, who had just awoken from her slumber at the sound of a revving engine.

"I think your adoptive son is leaving the mansion," Dinah said dryly and Oliver sat up in bed, startled, tripping out of bed to stumble to the window.

"Roy!" he yelled out of it as he saw a familiar red motorbike make its way out of the courtyard and into the street. "Where're you going?!"

But the figure was too far away to have heard him anyways.

Oliver swore, shrugging on a robe as Dinah sat up in bed, yawning for good measure. "You're going to go after him?"

"No, I'm going to wait for him to come back and give him a lecture," Oliver grumbled to himself, rubbing at his face. "What am I going to do with that boy?"

Things had always been a bit tense between the two archers; sometimes Oliver was too easy on Roy, sometimes too hard, sometimes Roy found his adoptive father grating to his nerves, sometimes not. Dinah thought a bit of his anger at Oliver revolved around Amara's attack at Queen Industries. It probably didn't help that she had been shot off that building in particular, but if he and Oliver hadn't been away that weekend… Dinah supposed Roy blamed himself for his partner losing most of her ability to function below the waist.

"He's a teenager, Ollie," she said, pulling herself out of his bed to come to his side, carding her hand through his hair. "Give him some space, you're practically strangling the boy."

Oliver's jaw tensed, his memory bringing the image of Amara in that hospital bed, too pale and too still…what if that had been Roy?

Dinah leaned up to press a kiss at the edge of his jaw, close to his ear, and his skin tingled from the contact. "I'll be in the kitchen, brewing some coffee."

She cast him a significant look, looking him up and down before giving him a smirk and murmuring in his ear. "Come down when you've actually got some pants on."

Oliver looked down, flushing faintly before he searched the room in the dark for said boxers while his girlfriend laughed –already dressed in the sleepwear she left at his place–, making her way to the door and disappearing through it before he could offer any kind of reply (though he doubted it would be a good one, Dinah had a habit of tongue-tying him).

And Oliver could only grumble in complaint, following her swiftly once he'd done as requested.

Amara realized too late that her earring had fallen out in the zeta-tube and her grey hair was clear as day…but that still didn't explain how he'd managed to find her so fast.

The arrow flew through the air to lodge in the bench directly beside her, flashing briefly before it exploded and Amara only had enough time to throw her arms protectively over her head before it detonated, the explosion sending her flying.

It was as jolting as being hit with a car, with enough force to leave bruises on her skin as well as a few burns. And Amara could feel the burns as she groaned, trying to pull herself upright where she'd landed in the middle of the street.

But her efforts were stalled by a sharp fist to her face, sending her reeling before she was yanked upright.

The hand on her neck held her above the ground and Amara couldn't help but glower from where she was, her hands tugging at the grip on her neck that wasn't yet tight enough to strangle the breath from her lungs.

"You," Merlyn seethed, "nearly got me killed!"

Amara's head was spinning enough from his explosion arrow and the punch without his fingers squeezing tightly around her throat –experimenting, it seemed, on whether or not she could handle the loss of oxygen–

"I could say the same thing," she snarled in return, her nails digging into his skin as she glared venomously at him. "But you've forgotten one important thing."

"What's that?"

Her lips curled into a smirk. "Did you really think I needed my legs to use my powers?" Amara's eyes glowed white with electricity that made her hair frizz and with that smirk on her lips, Merlyn wasn't quite sure he'd seen someone so terrifying, and that was including the girl's mother.

"Think again."

Electricity sparked off her skin, making it seem like she was surrounded by a shield of electric charge, sparking faintly before it rippled off her, shooting towards him in a sudden burst of blinding, arching lightning.

He screamed as it burned through him, shooting him back, far away from Amara, who was released so suddenly from his grip that she fell to the ground with a small yelp, her legs –per the usual– failing to hold her up.

Amara had the absolute worst king of luck, that was to be certain.

Thankfully, the purring of an approaching engine distracted her and she raised a hand to shield her eyes from the headlights as the motorbike pulled up next to her, the figure astride it pulling their helmet off to reveal startled blue eyes.

"What the hell, Storm Warning?" he demanded, looking from her to the fallen form of Merlyn that was still unmoving.

"This," Amara said, pointing off in the direction of Merlyn, stabbing her finger aggressively towards the archer-assassin, "is not my fault."

"Is he even alive?" From the sound of his voice, he wasn't quite sure if he cared if Merlyn was alive or dead, and Amara was with him in that sentiment.

"Dunno." Amara didn't look all too concerned either, but Roy still shut off his motorbike, making his way over to Merlyn's side. "Is he alive?"

"Yeah," Roy sighed, leaning back with a wince. "He's going to have a hell of a scar…were you trying to kill him?"

"Well," Amara wheedled as he made his way back towards her, "I wasn't not trying to kill him."

Roy knelt beside her, grimacing as he took in her injuries, lightly touching the bruising on her cheek. "Well," he said finally, "he should have known better than to try to take on our Storm Chaser."

A flush of pleasure spread across her cheeks at how he said 'our' reminding Amara how she had found a home amongst the Star City heroes. Then she grimaced. "I'm not Storm Chaser anymore, you know."

"Your retirement is only temporary," Roy reminded her, heaving her body off the ground with an exaggerated groan that made Amara tug sharply at his ear, unimpressed. "Besides, Storm Chaser is more impressive than Oracle."

"Thanks, Arrowhead," Amara said dryly, "now I've got buckets of self-confidence."

"It's what I'm here for."

Amara could only sigh as he helped situate her on the back of the bike, hooking her unresponsive legs against the side.

"Thanks for coming to get me," she added, "I know it's a little late—"

Roy snorted, handing her a helmet. "You do know that Central City is three hours ahead of Star City, right? I mean, I know you've been out of the game for a bit, but I can't imagine that you've forgotten that already, it's not that hard to remember…ow!" He rubbed at his arm where she had punched him while Amara gave him a glare that disappeared under his helmet.

"Don't be a jerk, Arrowhead," she muttered before quickly adding, "your girlfriend says hi, by the way."

Roy gaped at her. "Cheshire was here?"

"I knew it!" Amara pointed at him eagerly. "You do have a thing for her!"

And the red-head couldn't manage to stop the splash of crimson across his cheeks, embarrassment and denial flooding his face as he knelt down to grab up his helmet.

"I do not! And she is not my girlfriend!" he hissed.

"But you like her," Amara sang, "and I think she's got a thing for you too! Talk about a pair of star-crossed lov—"

Roy shoved the helmet on her head in an attempt to silence her, forgetting, of course, that the helmets had microphones installed within them.

"Well, I think it's cute," she said shortly.

"You would," Roy snorted, revving the engine. "Go find a boy to make your googly eyes at."

"Maybe I would if I'd decided if I liked girls or boys."

Roy arched an eyebrow. He was no stranger to same-sex relationships; there was a lot of diversity in sexual orientation both for heroes and for villains. Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn had something going on that Dinah swore was romantic but Ollie was set on platonic, and he was sure that at least two of the Green Lanterns he'd met before were gay. And Wonder Woman was from a society of women where same-sex relationships and marriages were the norm.

"I'll worry about it later," Amara decided.

"You'll worry about it later?" Roy repeated dubiously.

"I'm twelve, Roy, you really think I care all that much about that kind of stuff when there are villains running around?"

Only Amara would procrastinate what sexuality she identified with…though Roy wasn't too surprised. She made a habit of ignoring things until she couldn't ignore them anymore (for example, refusing to admit she needed a wheelchair until she had to haul herself around by her arms).

"But there is this one where it's you have to have an emotional attachment to a person before you become a thing," Amara pondered behind him, "what was that called? Demo –Demisexual! That was it! I think that's what I might be!"

"Isn't that normal?" Roy asked, arching an eyebrow that she couldn't see.

"Depends on the person, I think," Amara hummed thoughtfully, the motorbike's wheels quickening over the road, "but I always felt that it wasn't very particular on gender…don't worry about it, Roy, one day the demisexuals will rule the world."

"Something to look forward to," Roy said with a snort.

Oliver was in 'disappointed father mode' when he heard the sound the garage shutting behind his adoptive son's motorcycle.

"You could have just called your dad to come pick you up," he heard Roy's voice faintly through the door, but he couldn't make out the grumbled response before the door opened and he opened his mouth to berate him, only to pause and stare.

Nestled in his arms was Amara looking more than a little bruised up with an arm wrapped securely around her partner's neck as she yawned widely.

Then the pair became uncomfortably aware that Oliver and Dinah were staring at them and Amara gave a discreet cough.

"Weren't you two asleep?" Roy asked, staring at them blankly.

"A motorcycle makes a lot of noise, Roy," Dinah mentioned lightly and Roy flushed slightly in embarrassment. "I want an explanation, and I'm not too particular who gives it to me." But her eyes fixed on Amara, who couldn't help but shrink into the safety of Roy's arms.

In a short amount of time, Amara was situated in one of the high chairs in the kitchen with a reheated bowl of Oliver's famous chili in front of her ("I don't even know why we keep so much of it," Roy complained, the steam making his eyes water, "you and Ollie are the only ones that even like this stuff!" "What about Batman?" "Batman is an outlier and shouldn't be counted." Amara snorted.) while Oliver dabbed at her burns and cuts, earning him a wince every so often.

"I was on my way home from the Cave –yes, I know it was late it probably would have been better just to stay there, but consider this, my bad is way more comfortable–"

Oliver snorted, Roy rolled his eyes, and Dinah smiled.

"So, I was rolling down the sidewalk when Cheshire shows up out of nowhere, demanding my assistance for my life, nice assassin, so I find Sportsmaster for her before she makes me use the zeta-tube to get from Central City to Star City, drops me on the nearest bench and disappears."

Oliver was faintly amused by the animated way in which she had spoken; it had been awhile since any of them had seen her anything more than snarky.

"I'm guessing Cheshire wasn't the result of your injuries," Dinah said with just a hint of dryness.

"Nah, Cheshire was too in a hurry to beat me up," Amara gave a careless gave of her hand. "Merlyn showed up, pissed off at me."

"Merlyn?" Oliver choked on the name, goggling at the ex-sidekick. "How did he find you so fast?"

It was startling, Amara couldn't have been in Star City very long…how could Merlyn have managed to track her down so fast? Not even Oliver or Dinah had known she was in Star City!

"Dunno," Amara shrugged with a frown, "but I wasn't waiting around for Roy very long when he showed up." Then she gave a devilish grin as she sniggered. "Guess who's in worse shape?"

"Justice, Amy, not revenge," Dinah reminded her protégé with a sigh, covering her eyes with her hand. It was too early in the morning to be dealing with Amara's chaos.

"Well, he's still alive, isn't he?" Amara said, swallowing the last of her chili, arching an eyebrow, "I could've blown him up with a lightning bolt, but he'll live…with a healthy fear of tempestuous girls who can shoot lightning bolts out of their eyes!" She waggled her fingers for emphasis, her eyes blown wide.

"You cannot shoot lightning bolts out of your eyes," Roy snorted.

"I so can!"


"Can too!"

Really, it was like they were two squabbling siblings and Oliver wasn't quite sure how his life had devolved to this.

"Can it, you two!"

They both paused, looking in Oliver's direction and he stifled a snort at the two of them, Amara with a finger hooked in Roy's mouth, dragging his cheek to the side, while he was pinching at her face; none of it looked very pleasant.

Roy seemed faintly surprised that Oliver had raised his voice, as he was more mellow than anything else.

"Roy, take Amy upstairs to her room," Dinah suggested, yawning so wide that everyone in the room automatically threw their hands over their ears. There had been a time that she'd once yawned so wide that she'd released a sharp sonic cry in doing so, and it wasn't an experience that Amara would like to repeat.

"I need a wheelchair," Amara complained as Roy hefted her without difficulty towards the room that she stayed in when her patrols proved too tiresome to zeta her way back to Central City. "And I can float up the damn stairs on my own!" she called over her shoulder.

"Your daughter has a habit of getting into trouble."

There was a sigh from the other end and Oliver could just imagine Barry pinching the bridge of his nose, trying to fight off the headache his child was giving him. "She was an adrenaline junkie before the accident, and nothing's changed, so I can't really say I'm surprised…she is all right, though, isn't she?"

"I think it's all superficial," Oliver said, padding lightly through the dimly light hallway, careful to keep his voice down –voices tended to carry in his home. "A couple of burns and cuts and bruises…I'm sure most of it will be healed in the morning."

"How did Merlyn find her so fast?" Barry asked aggrieved.

"Does she have a tracer on her?" Oliver knew that her goggles that went with her Storm Chaser uniform had a tracer after the debacle when she'd gone AWOL for two weeks searching for Roy. "Something he could have used to find her location?"

"No," Barry sighed. "I didn't really think there was a need given…her current condition. I didn't think it would be likely that she'd need a tracer if she wasn't really going anywhere…though now that I think about it, it's probably a good idea."

"I wonder how Amy'll feel about that," Oliver chuckled.

"Well, she'd never been a fan of having a tracer in the first place," Barry grumbled, "she compared it to be tagged like a dog."

"There are certain similarities," Oliver couldn't deny. "But what do you think led Merlyn to her?"

"It's possible that when he attacked her, his arrows left some kind of residual way to track her down inside her body…that's something we'd never be able to pick up on…" Barry considered in a thoughtful manner. "I'm going to take her to S.T.A.R. Labs first thing and have them run some tests."

Oliver couldn't help but grimace, glancing towards Amara's room. She'd always been rather vocal about hating being dragged to the laboratory to have tests done on her, one time she'd been so irritated about it that she stayed in Star City with Oliver, Dinah, and Roy for a weekend until Barry promised to limit the number of times they ran tests on her, so instead of every month, she only went twice a year.

Oliver wasn't quite sure what he was hoping to find with all those tests he was having them do, but he wasn't quite sure if it was in his place to ask.

"Thanks, Ollie, for keeping an eye on my girl," Barry added and Oliver could hear the relief in his voice.

"It's no problem, I mean, she's practically my niece—"

Barry chuckled. "She's practically Roy's sister."

"That too," Oliver agreed, clearing his throat. "So, I'll expect you to show up for her around lunchtime?"

"Yeah," Barry said, expelling a sharp breath, "something like that. See you in a few hours, Ollie, and, by the way, did SCPD manage to collar Merlyn?"

"No, he was long gone by the time the police showed up," Oliver said with a small groan. Merlyn had always been a bit more than a thorn in his side, just as much as Oliver had been a thorn in Merlyn's. "We'll get him next time," he promised.

Barry said nothing to that, and a moment later the connection cut out and Oliver was left standing there with a crease between his eyebrows. He didn't even want to think what would happen if Merlyn ever crossed paths with the Flash.

Oliver wasn't entirely sure that his old friend had the same kind of restraint as his daughter.

"I hate S.T.A.R. Labs."

"No, you don't, you just hate having to come here for all those tests," Barry said without looking up from his phone, messaging his wife –who had to work into the weekend– who hadn't had a chance to see Amara after the little incident in Star City and was constantly texting him for updates.

Amara looked rather well, considering how she'd been the last time she'd had a run in with Merlyn. Her burns were nonexistent though a residual soreness remained, and she still had a blooming bruise on her cheek that was much smaller than it had been earlier.

The atmokinetic glowered at her father, who she knew was well aware of her aggravation and still chose to ignore it.

Amara released a sharp breath, relaxing in the tilted patient seat, staring blankly at the ceiling. Normally, she'd be pitching more of a fit –she'd already had her checkup for the first six months of the year!– but even she knew how dangerous it was for an assassin to know how to find her anywhere in the world.

Merlyn could have been able to find out where she lived, where Mount Justice was…in fact, he probably already knew that…so why had he waited so long to attack her? It had been more than a month since he'd partially paralyzed her, surely he'd had more than enough opportunity to strike, and Amara certainly had been more vulnerable when she'd just come out of the hospital.

"Must be location-specific," Amara muttered to herself, frowning in thought.

"What was that, Amy?"

Amara tilted her head up to look at her father, who's attention was now focused on her, his brow furrowed.

"The tracer must be location-specific," she said sitting up and grabbing her phone and hitting the speed dial.

"I didn't think that was possible," Barry uttered, leaning back in surprise.

"Well, the only ones capable of making it work for Wayne Tech," she told him shortly before the call was answered, "Hey, Richard, I need to talk to your dad."

There was a long-suffering sigh heard on the other end. "How many times do I have to say it, Amy? Everybody calls me 'Dick'!"

"I can't imagine why you'd want to be called a penis," Amara retorted and Barry suffered from an acute coughing fit.

There was silence on the other end and Amara imagined that Robin had smacked a hand to his face, over his eyes, as he shook his head in exasperation.

"One day you're going to call me it, I swear," he grumbled under his breath.

"That's likely," Amara said with a smirk, "now, can I talk to your dad?"

There was a pause and Amara was sure he was looking to see where he was. "He's in a meeting right now, is it important?"

"Would you consider Merlyn having the ability to track me down important?" Amara asked him wryly. "I'm looking for information on a piece of tech that Wayne Tech is currently developing."

Barry gave her a look. "Are you really interrogating Robin?" he hissed in a low voice towards her and Amara held a finger to her lips, her eyes glittering.

"I can probably help with that, I know about as much about Wayne Tech as Bruce," Amara imagined that Robin was rolling his eyes. "What piece of tech in particular are you looking for?"

"A location-specific subcutaneous micro-tracker," Amara said, pursing her lips.

There was silence on the other end and Amara wasn't sure if he was looking up the information or if he was gaping at his phone.

"Okay, first of all, how did you even know we were developing those?" he demanded, "they've only been in development for the past three months!"

"Hi," Amara said in a sickeningly sweet tone that had Barry snorting, "I'm not sure we've met, I'm Oracle, hacker extraordinaire."

"I would reach through this phone and smack you if I could."

"My talents are whelming, I'm sure, but can you just tell me if you've lost any?" Amara asked, her eyes drifting to the door that she was sure the doctor would walk through sooner or later to say that there wasn't anything in the X-rays.

"There was a small shipment sent to S.T.A.R. Labs for testing," Robin said after a few moments, "but the shipment never arrived…its designed to remain in the system for six months, Amy."

"I'm not wandering around with transmitters inside me for six months," Amara squawked in indignation. "Wayne Tech has a way to cause the transmitters to cease functioning, right?"

"Yes, but we're still working out the kinks…most likely you'll get a fever from taking it—"

"I'll take a fever over an assassin being able to track me," Amara promised.

"Gimme a few hours and I'll drop by your place with it."

Amara turned off the phone. "Good news," she said brightly, "there's a way to counteract the transmitters on the micro-trackers inside me, and I didn't even need a doctor to tell me that."

Barry could only give her a look of fond exasperation.

Chapter Text

Amara's next assignment for class was a massive project that counted for fifty percent of her grade in Science and it involved focusing on a specific field in the broad spectrum of science and Amara, being what she was, an artificially conceived child carried to term in an artificial womb, had chosen genetics. The project itself was complete, but it had given Amara an idea about testing blood for DNA markers that could possibly show if a person had the potential to develop into a meta-human and attain powers outside the norm.

It was safe to say that Amara was getting a little obsessed with genetics and it was all her project's fault.

Roy didn't mind teaming up with Aquaman or Aqualad, Aqualad was pretty fun to be around and he hadn't met many sidekicks closer to his age (Amy, Robin, and Wally didn't count).

He was currently perched on the building opposite of his mentor.

"All I'm saying is that it's been four months," he said into his comm, "and she hasn't even tried to use her legs! It's like she doesn't want to use them!"

"Speedy," Green Arrow was caught somewhere between exasperated and startled at the assumption, "of course she wants to use her legs! You've seen her, you've seen how much she misses being out in the field!"

"I do not follow," came Aqualad's confused voice over the comm and Roy very nearly swore, forgetting that their set of comms were connected to Aquaman and Aqualad's.

"I believe that Speedy is upset with his partner Storm Chaser," Aquaman commented. "She was the one severely wounded four months ago, yes?"

Roy gritted his teeth together. "Yes, that was her."

"I am sorry—"

"Its fine," Roy cut across Aqualad brusquely.

"There's no activity over here from what I can see," Oliver mused, raising a hand to his ear, "Oracle, are you reading me?"

Aqualad was stunned by the young voice that responded, echoing in his ear, "Here, GA, where d'you need me?"

"Would I be correct in assuming you have eyes on us?"

"I have eyes and ears everywhere," came the ominous response and Roy couldn't help but wince.

"On a scale of one to ten, how pissed are you?" he asked.

"Fifteen," Amara responded shortly, followed by the sound of aggressive typing –she only typed that hard on the keyboard when she was annoyed– "it looks like your perp is on the fifth floor making a run for the roof."

And even before she had finished speaking, Green Arrow and Speedy had fired off on arrow that created a zip-line for Aquaman and Aqualad to zip across with their companions following suit, and Oracle had forcibly broken the connection.

Roy grimaced.

"Recognize: Green Arrow –08, Speedy –A04, Aquaman –06, Aqualad –A05."

The light from the zeta-tube faded as the four came out into the monitor womb of Mount Justice with a small vial of blood for Amara to analyze with the equipment in the MedLab. Ordinarily, it would have been done at Justice League HQ, but the speed was about the same at either location and there was at least a chance of there not being any backup at the Cave.

Aqualad had never been to Mount Justice and he couldn't help but look around in interest, though it seemed like some of it was still under construction.

"Black Canary is going to hold this over you, you know," a young voice commented over the intercom, "the record currently stands with Green Arrow escapes 1-0."

Green Arrow laughed as the figure wheeled into view on a wheelchair and for a moment Aqualad was baffled; this was the 'Oracle' who had assisted them.

She was so…young.

She had grey hair in wild curls and her green eyes were sharp as her head tilted back to look at them all, scrutinizing him and his liege for a moment before smiling.

"Hello," she said, "I'm Oracle."

Aquaman, King Orin, gave her a polite bow. "A pleasure to meet you, Oracle, I am Aquaman, and this is my protégé, Aqualad."

He gestured to the young Atlantian beside him and Aqualad gave his own bow.

"It is a pleasure to meet you, Oracle," he said, his voice ringing with respect.

"Um, thanks," Oracle said, scratching her cheek awkwardly for a few moments, "I think you've got some blood for me to test?"

She studiously ignored Speedy, steering her wheelchair towards Green Arrow who pulled out a vial to hand it over to her. "I'm not sure if it will be enough for you to do a DNA analysis."

Oracle lifted it in the air, examining it in the lighting, her eyes narrowing slightly. "I've worked with less, it should be fine…but it'll still take an hour to analyze."

She stuffed the capped vial between her legs, moving far swifter than Aqualad would have thought possible in her current condition, pulling a condensed bo-staff from under the wheelchair, extending it with a flick of her wrist and rapping it painfully against the side of Speedy's skull.

"Hey! Ow!" he complained.

"Next time, you can take the neurological toxin that limits your ability to function below the waist, Speedy," Oracle growled before returning her bo-staff to its position on the underside of her seat, turning away and wheeling in the direction of the MedLab, it could only be assumed.

"Unbelievable," she hissed under her breath as she vanished into the hallway.

"She's dealing with a few things right now," Green Arrow told Aquaman as his protégé massaged the side of his head with a scowl on his lips, though, he was the one that had said it over the open comm, it shouldn't have come as a surprise that she'd been listening.

Roy gave a small sigh.

Amara pressed a button on the wall and it parted to reveal a mannequin garbed in the Storm Chaser uniform. A black mask with goggles over the eyes, black combat boots into which dark pants had been tucked, accompanied by a dark shirt with a stripe of grey from her throat to her waist where a grey utility belt rested.

Since she wasn't needed back in the field, there had been no need to send it in for repairs and Amara could see all the places where Merlyn's arrows had ripped into her.

She sighed.

"You were once the sidekick known as Storm Chaser," a voice commented in realization behind her and Amara swiveled the wheelchair to regard Aqualad.

"Yes," she said finally, "I was Storm Chaser, sidekick to Black Canary…before Merlyn nearly killed me and injected me with a neurological toxin designed to make its way slowly out of my system."

"That is why you must use a wheelchair to move around, yes?" Aqualad asked, his tone caught between curious and kind.

"For now," Amara agreed, looking down at her wheelchair. After the incident with Cheshire, Oliver had given her a new wheelchair that didn't have as stiff of a back as her last one, and this one could drop the back so that Amara could still train with her bo-staff in the chair. "Speedy…he's used to me having his back, and I think it bothers him that I'm not actively attempting to walk on my own."

She huffed in annoyance, looking at the costume one last time before pressing the button that hid it behind the wall once more.

"I am sorry your relationship has suffered," Aqualad said in that strangely formal manner.

"Well, it's not the only one," Amara said with a sigh, pressing a hand to her forehead. "But one day I'll have full function in my legs and things can go back to normal."

A sad light came to her eyes. But who knew just how long that would take? It was likely that she had another eight months before she'd be able to walk again, to run again…to do everything she'd been able to do before the accident.

"So you're from Atlantis, hm?" Amara queried, tilting her head back to look at him intently.

Aqualad had darker skin than his mentor with a shaved head and pale eyes, and Amara could see hints of the gills on either side of his neck as well as webbing between his fingers. At first glance he could pass as a normal person, a normal human, it was only after the second glance that one would have realized he was better suited underwater.

"I am," Aqualad said, drawing himself up proudly, giving Amara ample opportunity to trail her eyes over the black eel-like tattoos that curled down his arms.

"Do you have similar skills to Aquaman or different?" Amara asked him curiously; she had never seen Aqualad in battle.

"There are some similarities, I will agree," Aqualad said, "but I was trained in the mystical arts by Queen Mera, I can manipulate water and generate electricity, among other things…what is your skill-set?"

"When I was Storm Chaser I was famous for throwing around bolts of lightning," Amara said with a shrug, "but I'm atmo-kinetic and Black Canary thinks I only know about a fraction of what I'm capable of…but as Oracle I am just the hacker extraordinaire."

An eyebrow rose as Aqualad looked on her in amusement. "I do not think Green Arrow would have brought the blood here if he thought you were only that."

Amara gave a small chuckle. "He knows I have an interest in genetics; I've already collected a blood sample from him, Speedy, and Black Canary."

"What for?" he asked with a furrowed brow.

"I'm looking for any indication of the differences between ordinary heroes –you know, the ones without any powers– and meta-humans, looking for any link between those who can use powers and how their DNA is different from those without powers," Amara said with an excitement that made her eyes positively light up, a stark contrast with the dark emotion that had clouded her eyes before.

"I don't suppose you'd be willing to part with a vial of blood for me to test?" she wheedled and Aqualad smiled.

It was clear that she had a deep fascination with her current study; Aqualad could remember a time when he had been the same.

"I do not mind," Aqualad assured her, "I would be fascinated to see what you discover."

Amara grinned widely. "All right, follow me, the equipment is back in the MedLab."

She knew her way around fairly well, Aqualad noticed, it was clear that she spent a great deal of her time in Mount Justice.

"Do you miss your time as Storm Chaser?" he asked her after a few moments of silence as he followed her slowly as she rolled her wheels down the hallway.

"Yes," Amara said slowly, "but it's not as though I've stopped using my powers all-together…it's not the same being stuck behind a computer and knowing I should be out there helping my friends, my mentor, but…" she bit her lip, rolling to a stop. "But one day I'll be back on my feet, then I'll be out there with Speedy, shocking people, kicking ass, and taking names."

All that was left was for her to wait for that day to come, and maybe that was why she hadn't tried her hand at walking yet, because she thought if she prolonged her wait then her ability to use her legs would increase…maybe it would, maybe it wouldn't, but Amara was too cowardly to try it for fear of failure.

"Here we are," she said, entering into the MedLab, the lights flicking on automatically, being tied to the motion sensors. Aqualad had to wince in the sudden brightness as Amara pulled out an odd contraption with needle and connected to an empty vial. "Arm please."

"This may sting just a little," she added, once she'd cleaned a spot on his arm, "but I'm sure you've dealt with worse."

"I have," Aqualad assured her before she pressed the needle into his skin, causing red liquid to fill the vial until it could hold no more.

"Thank you," Amara said brightly once she was done and Aqualad rather thought she was exactly like Speedy had described her to be; a bright storm cloud.

"I'm not sure if Speedy's told you," she added, "but I give all the sidekicks nicknames, well, the sidekicks I come across."

"It might have come up at one point," Aqualad conceded, "I presume you will be coming up with one for me?"

"Yes," Amara smirked widely, "how do you feel about Kelpie?"

Aqualad thought a shape-shifting water spirit was an odd name to give him, but he had a feeling that the question was rhetorical.

It wasn't often that Amara got to see the Garricks, but they were practically family and if Amara could have picked any more loving grandparents in the world, it would still end up being the Garricks.

Amara stirred at the batter in the large bowl she had balanced on her lap while Wally rushed around the kitchen trying to assist Joan and causing general chaos while the others sat outside, talking and laughing.

Jay and Joan had been largely horrified to learn what had happened to Amara –several of the Leaguers who worked closely with Barry had reacted in a similar manner, especially the Green Lantern, Hal Jordan– and had wanted to see her immediately after the incident, but it was only about two months afterwards that Barry had finally relented (Amara thought it had more to do with her not dealing with her handicap well than anything else).

"How are those muffins coming along, Amy?" Joan asked, taking a peek at the pork cooking in the oven. Since it was a family of speedsters, there was more food than typical to be cooked, but none of them seemed to mind.

"Wally hasn't eaten all the batter yet," Amara mentioned as an upside, casting a smirk to her cousin who pressed a hand to his heart, looking betrayed.

"Amy! I thought we were family!" he cried in outrage.

Amara arched an eyebrow with a smirk. "What's that on the corner of your mouth? Could it be some raspberry muffin batter?"

"No!" Wally insisted, though he rubbed quickly at his mouth to hide the evidence as Joan laughed, taking the bowl Amara handed over.

"Don't you have some blood samples to take?" Joan asked her kindly.

"Well, I already got Jay, Uncle Rudy and Aunt Mary's, so all I've got left is to get Wally's before I start my analysis and comparison," Amara said thoughtfully and Wally had to remind himself that his cousin was only twelve years old. But her interest in genetics had been profound enough that the last time Wally had gone over to visit he'd spotted a few thick books on her desk on the very subject.

"I dunno why you had to get my parents, they don't have any powers," Wally said as they moved into the living room so that Amara could get her sample from him.

"The experiment that gave you super-speed undoubtedly altered your DNA," Amara said in a no-nonsense manner. "I need a template of what your DNA would have looked like before the experiment in order to see what changed."

"You're getting a little obsessed, I think," Wally said, giving a small wince as she stuck him with the needle.

"Just a little?" Amara snorted. "Everything else I'm learning right now in class is boring, so I figured why not do a project on something that actually interests me?"

The easy thing about Amara being homeschooled and taking classes via computer as opposed to sitting in a classroom was that she could get farther ahead in class than Wally could, and during the time after she'd gotten out of the hospital and couldn't do hardly anything but laze around in bed, miserable about her condition, doing schoolwork just to not be bored seemed like the best option.

Somehow she'd ended up a few months ahead of where Dick –and Wally could call Robin that now that his best friend had finally revealed his name– was currently, even though the pair was the same age and in the same year, or, were meant to be in the same year. Uncle Barry joked that Amara was going to be out of high school a year early.

Wally had initially laughed at the idea, but now…Amara didn't fit anyone's ideal as a genius, even she knew it, but she thought very differently from Wally and it was always possible that something had been introduced to her during her fetal development that made her that way…either way, Wally didn't mind, plus it was always cool to have someone around who loved science as much as he did.

"Wally…West…" Amara capped the vial, labeling it with a sharpie. "Your sacrifice will not be in vain," she assured him in a would-be-bland voice that made him laugh.

"I was so worried," he snorted as she returned the vial into a cylinder container, securing it tightly before rolling her way out of the house and onto the patio outside.

"Did my blood-sucking leech of a daughter get you, Wally?" Iris laughed, waving Amara over to the empty space beside her with perfect dimensions for her wheelchair to roll up to.

"Oh, it was so painful, Aunt I, I don't think I can go on!" Wally fell dramatically, clutching at his arm in pain that was so clearly faked that everyone at the table couldn't help but join in laughing.

"Psh," Amara scoffed, "he's got super-healing. You could probably run him through with a pole and he'd bounce back."

"It would depend on where the pole is, I think," Aunt Mary said wryly.

"Mom!" Wally complained loudly.

Amara had considered her options.

She had once told Pamela to ask her again when she was sixteen about what she wanted to be when she was older, but since she'd come across genetics, it plagued her mind. What would she like to be?

Having a doctorate in genetics was definitely something she was considering, but getting a doctorate was an expensive endeavor and her parents made good money, but not that good…

So Amara had asked Sandra if she would hire her –as opposed to her simple volunteering–, in order to start saving up money for college –even though her parents told her not to worry about it ("Amy, college is years away," Iris had insisted, "you don't need to worry about saving up for it yet, you're only twelve!"). Sandra had required a parent's permission, since she was only twelve, in order to officially hire Amara and Barry had signed for her. (He'd given her a conspirator-like wink. "No matter what your mother says, I think it's good that you're thinking ahead.")

She didn't want her parents to have to pay her way through college, no matter what choice she ended up making about it.

"How's the genetics project going?" Pamela asked her, placing some flowers on the shelves while Amara cut some too long stalks off of some orchids.

"It's going," Amara said, giving the red-head a smile, "there's a lot of data to go over…my cousin looks over some of it with me when he stops by. But…did you know that there's this thing called genome variation that are differences in the sequence of DNA from one person to the next?"

"I wasn't aware," Pamela said, pausing to give Amara her full attention; Amara liked when she did that, treating her like she wanted to do nothing more than listen to her with rapt attention.

"Well, it's what makes the DNA sequence between Wally and me so completely different, because we're not related at all…of course there's a few other things too…" And Amara's attention drifted off, giving her a slightly vacant expression that made Pamela's eyes crinkle around the edges.

"Ella, do you think I could walk?" she asked her suddenly and Pamela blinked in surprise.

"That's sudden," she said. "What brought that on?"

Amara wrinkled her nose, thinking about Roy and how they hadn't spoken in nearly a week. "Just something one of my friends said…but do you think I could walk?"

"Have you tried to walk before?"

Amara liked how Pamela didn't dance around the subject, since that was practically the norm.

"No," she admitted with a grimace, looking down at her legs, the muscles atrophying from lack of use…and Amara was going to be so behind on her training when she finally got back on her feet. "I've been…afraid to." She tilted her head back to look at Pamela. "Do you think I could walk?" she pressed her.

Pamela gave her a kindly smile in return. "Why don't we find out?" she asked.

Iris had a long lunch today, so she was cutting through Granite Peak Park to reach Bouquet Boutique, thinking of surprising her daughter by taking her out to lunch, and there were parts of the park completely hidden in foliage that made it easy to be unseen.

"You can't say that her interest in genetics is bad," Barry's voice came through her phone where she had it pressed to her ear. "And she is right, it's one of the more expensive degrees."

"Yes, but who's to say that she's not going to change her mind by the time she graduates high school, Barry," Iris sighed, running a hand through her hair as she did so. "She's working herself too hard."

"I think it's more that she doesn't want to not be doing anything," Barry returned dryly. "And earning some money at the shop will make it easier to pay for college—"

"She doesn't need to worry about college," Iris pressed, "she's in seventh grade –almost eighth grade– she's –oh, she's here!"

Iris ducked around the thickest tree she could find.

"I thought you were taking a shortcut through the park?" Barry said blankly on the other end.

"I am," Iris said, peeking around the tree to see not too far away that Amara had been pushed to where she was completely hidden by thick branches from the rest of the park. Iris recognized her co-worker Ella helped her apply the brakes before moving around in front of her and Iris' eyes went impossibly wide.

"Ohmigod!" she whispered. "I think she's going to try to walk!"

"I'm coming!"

"No, you're not," Iris said quickly, speaking over his rebuttal, "If she's asked Ella to help her, then she doesn't want us to see it." Maybe she was afraid of doing it in front of them, that they would see her failure.


"I'll call you back, Barry," Iris said, canceling the call before he could say anything more and watching the scene intently but, at the same time, trying to keep herself hidden from view.

Amara moved her legs manually so that they were lightly resting against the ground before Ella helped pull her upright by grasping her elbows.

And then Amara was standing, not very well, teetering dangerously, but she was standing. Iris raised a hand to her mouth, choked with emotion.

"Want to take a step?" Ella asked Amara and her daughter gave an uneasy nod as Ella moved her left foot back and Amara gripped her arms tightly, moving her leg –trembling violently from the effort– slowly but surely to accompany Ella's, even though the movement had been rather small.

Ella moved her right leg back and Amara struggled to follow before her knees gave out and she crumpled, but Ella caught her before she fell and Iris' breath caught in her throat as Amara released a euphoric laugh, despite barely making two steps, and Iris couldn't quite remember the last time she had laughed like that.

And she was glad that she had gotten to hear it once more and that her daughter was healing, slowly but surely.

Chapter Text

"Master Richard, you must get up if you want to get to school on time," Alfred said, knocking lightly on the door before entering to find Dick swathed in his blankets, giving no indication that he had moved. "Master Richard?"

"I'm not feeling well, Alfred," Dick croaked from the bed and he didn't see the flicker of indecision in his eyes.

"Of course, Master Richard," he said quietly, shutting the door behind him to look to Bruce Wayne.

"Call the school," Bruce said, "let them know he won't be coming in. Then call Amara Allen and ask if she'd keep him company."

Alfred's eyes rose on his forehead but he only said "Of course, Master Bruce."

Amara Allen, famous to the Justice League now under the name Oracle, was the same age as Dick. Alfred wasn't sure who Dick talked to more, Amara or Wally West, and he was glad that he had found friends in the League whereas things at school only made things difficult for him (even if he'd be the last one to admit it). Dick called them the "adrenaline junkie" and the "run-a-holic" but with a note of fondness.

Amara was struggling, but she would be the last one to admit it. Her arms were sore and her legs were shaking, but she was determined to walk the length of the Cave's monitor womb –from which a pair of bars had been brought up from the floor, the bars ending where her wheelchair was and her phone– and she was only halfway across and exhausted.

Dinah thought it was a good idea to push herself a little more every day.

"Don't go overboard, though," she'd warned, "I know you want to get back on your feet, but there's a right way to do this and we want to make your healing gradual, not push it back, all right?"

And Amara had grudgingly agreed.

So here she was, using her arms to balance her legs above the ground while she recovered a little (she could use her powers, of course, but that would defeat the point of the exercise).

Then she took a deep breath and lowered her feet to the floor once more, which was fine until she had to put her weight on her feet, and then she almost fell to the floor again, and only remained standing by her vice-like grip on the bars.

"I don't think so!" Amara snarled to herself, swinging a leg forward forcefully, even though it didn't move nearly as far as she'd been going for.

One foot and then the other.

Amara had thrown out her fear of failure weeks ago when she had consented to allow Pamela to help her with her first steps; Barry and Iris had been ecstatic that she could stand on her own and take even one step, so it had been worth it.

One foot and then the other.

One foot and then the other.

She was three-quarters through now.

"I am never taking Roy's patrol ever again," Amara proclaimed fervently into the silence. Re-training was hellish and she blamed the atrophied muscles in her legs and groaned loudly; it was going to take her forever to get back into shape once she could fully use her legs.

Of course, she'd cut off her leg to be on patrol with Roy right now, but here she was.

She gave a despondent sigh, the melancholic atmosphere broken by the sharp ring of her phone, the screen lighting up blue.

And Amara said a word she never would in Barry or Iris' presence. "Fuck!"

It could have been Barry or Iris calling to check in, or the Star City Heroes needing a run-down on something or it could have been Wally or Dick calling just to talk, but Amara wasn't even sure which of those it was, but she was going to reach it before the last ring.




Step. Step.


Amara grabbed the phone before she crumpled to the ground, her head whacking against the footplate as she hit answer on the phone without so much as glancing to see who had called her in the first place, though, if she had, she wouldn't have recognized the number.

"Yeah?" she said, rubbing at the sore spot on her head from the fall.

"Miss Amara Allen?" came an unfamiliar voice on the other end –older, posh, British.

"Um, yes?" She said, it coming out more like a question as she winced with the throbs of her bump.

"My name is Alfred Pennyworth," the man said and Amara sat up so suddenly that her head banged into the bar.

"Alf–ah, shit!"

Amara clapped a hand over her forehead, where she was sure a bruise would be forming sooner rather than later.

"Um, you're Richard's butler, right? You work for the Waynes, right?" Amara questioned, deciding that remaining on the ground was probably better for her health in her current situation.

"Yes, I am," he replied easily.

"Is something wrong with Richard?" Amara asked in surprise. "I don't usually get these kind of calls…"

"Master Richard is feeling a bit under the weather—"

"He's feeling a bit under the weather?" Amara repeated doubtfully. She could count on one hand the number of times Dick had felt under the weather and still have fingers left over, and that kind of 'under the weather' usually resulted from cold rain and not getting out of his wet uniform fast enough, giving him a cold (Amara had suffered the same fate before, since using her powers to keep rain off her was draining at worst).

"He could use some company," Alfred acquiesced and Amara's brow wrinkled in confusion, but she didn't question it.

"Mint chocolate chip is still his favorite ice cream, right?" she asked and she received a small, answering chuckle.

"It is."

"I'll see if Wally wants to come along," Amara assured him before ending the call and hitting the speed dial to her dad.

"Hey, sweetheart, still at the Cave?"

"For now," Amara said, glaring at the bars above her briefly before grinning in spite of herself. "Hey, I managed to walk the length of the bars today!"

"That's great!" the excitement in her father's voice couldn't have been faked and it made her grin widen.

"And I'm thinking of kidnapping Wally and going to Gotham," she added.

"Gotham?" Barry said in surprise.

"Alfred called and thought it might be a good idea if we kept Robin company…do you mind if I go see him?"

There was silence on the other end and Amara could just imagine her father mulling over the idea. She knew he had nothing against Robin, he'd certainly seen him enough to like him, and he'd ate dinner at her house a few times when he stayed over late to help her with coding. The only boys Barry actually trusted to leave her alone with were Roy, Wally, and Robin.

"You'll call me when you get there?"

"Yes, Dad," Amara said with a loud sigh, rolling her eyes at the ceiling.

"All right," he said, sounding a little reluctant (Amara got the feeling he didn't like his partially disabled daughter wheeling around in a place she didn't know all too well). "Have fun."

"Looks like you won't be going on patrol with me today," Barry commented, turning to Wally who was leaning against the desk of Barry's in his office at the CCPD.

"Aw, what?" complained Wally, who had been waiting the better part of fifteen minutes for his uncle to tell him if he could go on patrol or not, and Wally had all the time in the world, seeing as he didn't have any school that day. "Come on, Uncle B!"

"Your cousin is going to Gotham City to see Robin," Barry said, arching an eyebrow at how his nephew perked up at the mention of the best friend he hadn't seen in a few weeks. "She wants to know if you're coming with."

Wally scoffed, waving a hand carelessly. "Of course I'm coming with, why is that even a question?" Then he'd shot off before Barry could offer a reply, the younger speedster careful so as not to use his super-speed on his way out, leaving his uncle blinking in surprise.

Then he smiled, shaking his head slightly before returning to his work.

"You're going to see Rob?"

Amara didn't even bother looking surprised at her cousin came to a stop in front of her, skidding just slightly before stopping an inch from hitting her wheelchair, which was greatly appreciated.

"Alfred called and said he was 'feeling under the weather'," Amara said, taking the swinging plastic bag from him and inspecting the tub of ice cream that she had texted Wally to go grab.

"Rob doesn't feel under the weather," Wally said suspiciously, sharing a significant look with his cousin.

"Exactly," Amara agreed. "So are you coming or not?"

"Of course I'm coming!" Wally said, slightly insulted that she'd say anything different, grabbing the handles of Amara's wheelchair and wheeling her towards the door. "Come on, I'll run us over!"

It took Barry considerably less time to run to Gotham City than it did Wally, for obvious reasons, and those reasons being Wally was considerably slower than his uncle (and Barry didn't mind lapping him with his speed, even if it annoyed Wally more than a little). And Amara generally didn't mind, but she actually liked the wheels on her wheelchair to function.

"Maybe we should just take the zeta-tube, Wally?" Amara sniggered and Wally looked down at her in surprise.

"Or we could do that," he muttered sheepishly before rushing out of the door with Amara at a disconcerting speed.

"Recognize: Oracle –B00, Kid Flash –A06."

The Gotham City zeta-tube was much smaller in size than the one in Central City, which meant Wally had to maneuver a bit in order to pull himself out of the cramped back alley phone booth that had long since been pasted with an out of order sign on the outside of it to deter others from using it.

"Um…maybe we should pull you out first and then the wheelchair," Wally decided after a moment of contemplation and watching Amara struggle turning the wheelchair.

"Probably," she grumbled under her breath, reaching out for Wally to assist her and locking her arms around his neck as he pulled her out through the dingy door. Amara propped herself against the wall, still clutching the bag that held Dick's ice cream.

A moment later Wally had managed to pull the wheelchair free, giving it a regal gesture, "My queen!"

Amara rolled her eyes at her cousin's antics, but she pulled herself into the chair once more as the clouds darkened overhead to open up into a downpour.

Wally gave her a look.

"Hey!" she complained. "It wasn't me this time!"

She supposed she deserved that look, though, Keystone and Central City had certainly gotten a number of showers this year, courtesy of one temperamental atmo-kinetic meta-human. Honestly, Amara didn't know her own strength, which was part of the problem.

"Do we even know the way to Wayne Manor?" Wally asked, looking up at the sky as the rain pattered down on them.

Amara leaned over to pull out a sheet of paper with directions. "I don't think it's very far, think you can make it before we get soaked?"

Wally's answering grin was impossibly wide. "Oh, come on, Amy, this is me we're talking about! I can get us there in no time!"

And Amara barely had the chance to yelp in surprise as he gave a sudden burst of speed, wheeling her out of the alley and onto the street, careful so as not to hit anyone at his super-speed.

Amara really hated when he did that without any warning.

Alfred Pennyworth answered the door swiftly and found staring at the two figures beyond it.

Amara Allen was green in the face, a hand pressed to her forehead and looking quite ill, but Wally West was grinning brightly at Alfred, not seeming to notice how the wheels on Amara's wheelchair were slightly smoking.

"Hi, Alfred!" Wally said brightly and Amara gave a tired wave.

"Mr. West, Miss Allen," Alfred said politely, "please come in."

He moved back, opening the door wider to allow Amara to be pushed in by her cousin.

"I am never letting you push me around again," Amara swore as the sickly green color of her cheeks faded. "Next time I'm flying us."

"You're joking, right?" Wally gave a small gag. "And not have anything under my feet, no thanks."

They squabbled like siblings, Alfred was amused to note, something Dick had mentioned as well.

Meanwhile, Dick had begun to come down the main staircase at the sound of voices, only to pause when he saw his friends in the foyer with Alfred.

"Hey, Dick!" Wally waved and Amara arched an eyebrow, taking note of the lack of color on his face.

Dick turned right around and headed back up the stairs.

"Hey!" Wally complained.

"Richard John Grayson!"

Amara's use of his full name stopped him cold. Had he even told her his middle name? He couldn't remember.

He turned back slightly as Amara rolled towards the foot of the stairs, a dark scowl on her lips. "I will climb these stairs if I have to!"

Alfred blinked, Dick froze, and Wally positively gawped.

Dick had heard, of course, that Amara had started walking again, since Amara had called him right after she had told Roy and Wally, but he also knew that it was slow work and he wasn't entirely sure that Amara would be able to make it up to where he was, but that didn't stop Amara from rolling up the staircase's edge, pulling herself upright and dragging her feet up to the first step.

It looked like she was moving with lead strapped to her feet and it was clear that it caused her a great discomfort, but she didn't stop.

"H-Hey! Don't—" he forced the words out of the throat that was croaky, taking a few steps down as Amara stumbled up them until she could grasp his shirt, breathless from the exertion.

The green of her eyes was the precise color of leaves, a few shades off from Wally's, and they were intent on his own.

"You, Wally, and me," she managed before sucking in a breath, "you're going to tell us what's wrong. Then we're going to eat ice cream and watch Harry Potter and Wally promises not to interrupt with science-y things."

Dick's lips drew into a thin line and he ground his teeth together, looking from one cousin to the other. Wally was resolute with his arms crossed and a look in his eyes that said it was best not to argue.

And Dick couldn't help but cave, and a split second later, Amara's legs crumpled under her, sending her falling back, but before Dick could reach out a hand, Wally had caught her and returned her to the wheelchair.

Dick looked to Alfred wordlessly.

"The multimedia room is yours, Master Richard," he said simply and Dick sighed, leading them in the direction of the room with the large television.

"Richard Grayson is just the adoptive son of Bruce Wayne."

"Uh, yeah, dude, we kind of got that back when you told us who you were," Wally said, a bit befuddled with his words as Amara cocked her head to the side in confusion.

"No," Dick sighed, running a hand through his hair, making it wilder than usual, "you don't understand—"

"Are people at your school bullying you because you're adopted?" Amara asked, sounding startled and Wally's head whipped with speed, looking from his best friend to his cousin.


Dick chewed on the inside of his cheek. "I'm not Bruce's real kid—"

"Does he look real to you, Wally?" Amara asked the red-haired speedster.

Wally cupped his chin thoughtfully. "He does look like he's flesh and blood, but let's be sure." And he reached forward to poke Dick harshly on the forehead.

"Ow!" Dick complained, rubbing at the spot on his head. "What was that for?"

"You are real, Rob," Wally insisted, "just because Bruce adopted you doesn't change the fact that you're his kid, 'cause you know who else is adopted, this girl!"

He jabbed a thumb in his cousin's direction and Amara snorted, knocking the thumb away.

"And Uncle B and Aunt I treat her like she's their flesh and blood!"

"And you have no idea how many times I've had to point out that I don't look like Barry because I'm adopted," Amara added, rolling her eyes for good measure. It was easy to argue that she looked a little like Iris because they both had green eyes, but Amara wasn't blonde like Barry.

"You could easily be mistaken as Bruce's kid," she added, "besides, Bruce chose to adopt you. You know his opinion of you, what those bullies think doesn't matter."

It was easier for her, Dick thought to himself, Amy didn't have to go out to official functions as Bruce Wayne's ward. She was just the adoptive daughter of a reporter and forensic scientist. But she was also homeschooled, a complete science nerd, and had been confined to a wheelchair for almost half a year, and that was more than enough ammunition for bullies.

"We actually like Dick Grayson," Wally added, before grinning widely, "even if he's a little crazy!"

Dick shoved a pillow in his best friend's face amidst laughter from Amara.

He hated his friends.

(He loved them.)

Amara fell asleep barely half an hour into the Philosopher's Stone and Dick and Wally didn't bother to remove her arms from where she'd looped them through theirs.

"It's okay to admit that you need me, Speedy," was the first sound Bruce Wayne was greeted with as he entered the multimedia room of his home, as that was where Alfred said Dick and his guests were.

Dick was curled up at the edge of the couch, while Wally was sprawled, his limbs haphazard as he slept on, the pair oblivious of their quietly speaking friend at the opposite end of the couch.

Her laptop was open on her lap and Bruce could hear the tell-tale sound of a comlink's buzzing from her ear.

Amara snorted. "Yeah, that'll be the day, you let me know how that goes…goodbye, Roy, try not to kill Ollie, would you? I actually like him."

She lifted a hand to her ear, shutting off the feed with a small smile at his answering snippy reply that she cut off swiftly.


Amara jolted in surprise, twisting to see Bruce Wayne –the Batman himself!– stepping into the half-light of the room.

"Um," she swallowed, "Mr. Wayne, hi, uh, Richard's sleeping and Wally's totally out of it."

He found it faintly amusing that she called Dick 'Richard' when most people called him 'Dick', but if it annoyed Dick, he didn't show it.

"Yes, I can see that," Bruce commented lightly, moving to sit in the armchair close to her. "Is he feeling better?"

"Nothing some ice cream and a few meta-humans can't cure," Amara assured him with a smile.

Bruce could see so much of Poison Ivy in her daughter, in the way she smiled and in the shape and precise shade of green that her eyes were.

"Richard's tough," she added, "we just had to remind him that he is your son, biological or not."

Bruce started in surprise, glancing over to where Dick was still curled. He hadn't thought that Dick still had those insecurities about being the son of Bruce Wayne.

He breathed out slowly. "Thank you and Wally for coming and keeping him company."

"It's no problem," Amara promised, "today was my day off anyways." She glanced back to her laptop, scowling at the results the popped up.

"Sorry," she added, when she noticed she'd kind of cut him off, "Robin and I are trying to develop a new facial recognition software for the League and it's not really going the way we hoped…"

She'd put aside her studies on genetics briefly since Robin had come to her, his blue eyes gleaming.

"I have an idea," he had said, "wanna help upgrade the League's facial recognition software?"

"Hell yeah," Amara had said, grinning brightly.

Bruce gave her a prompting glance and Amara elaborated.

"Well, the current facial recognition software requires a full face for an ID," Amara explained, glancing to where her cousin and friend were still slumbering, "we're trying to come up with one that requires less but can make…" She screwed up her face. What had Robin called it? "…facial approximations. That way less villains slip through the cracks."

It was an idea of merit, that much Bruce was sure.

"Of course," she muttered under her breath, "I need a skull to compare against to see if it really will work and what points of the face are required to make the best approximation…"

A week later Amara got a polished skull in the mail, clearly fake, but also clearly modeled in the likeness of a human.

"Do I want to know why you got a skull in the mail?" Iris asked her daughter ominously.

"Maybe," Amara said cheerfully drawing out the word as she examined the skull. "Don't worry, Mom, it's for the League."

"That doesn't make me feel any better."

"Batman approves," Amara said in a manner that made it clear she thought that should have cleared up everything.


"What? It's not like I'm involved in any illegal activities!" Amara complained loudly, making her father –in the kitchen, reading the paper– chuckle.

"Don't worry, babe," he said in that soothing voice of his, "it's just a little project she and Robin are working on, facial recognition, and what kind of trouble do you think Amy can get up to with that?"

Iris had to concede to that; the amount of trouble Amara got into with her laptop was negligible.

Amara sniggered quietly to herself.

Chapter Text

Amara was breathing hard, the muscles in her legs burning as her heart raced in her chest, her feet pattering against the ground as she ran.

Re-training was by far the worst thing she had ever experienced, especially with how out of shape she had gotten being Oracle (not that she had anything against being Oracle, being Oracle was fine, she would just rather be Storm Chaser, that's all). The only thing that had stayed pretty much constant was her upper body strength since Amara had still been able to train anything above the waist.

"And stop!"

Amara's shoes skidded as she came to a stop, bracing her hands to her knees, choking on her breath before looking up to Black Canary, whose smile was impossibly wide.

"You're doing great, Amy," she said, tossing her a bottle of water to chug on the way back into the Cave. "We'll have you back to full-strength in no time."

"You mean –I'm not –at full-strength –now?" Amara managed to gasp.

Dinah gave her an indulgent smile. "Nearly, but not quite, so, yes, you are still benched."

"BC, you are crashing my mode!"

Dinah snorted. It had been a while since she'd heard Amara's signature phrase, she had all but forgotten that Amara used to say it all of the time when Amara started it up again when they began her re-conditioning.

"I tend to do that," she said dryly. "Give it a few weeks, Amy, and then you can officially retire as Oracle and activate Storm Chaser once more."

"But a few weeks is forever!" Amara whined. "I've been out of the game for eight and a half months, Dinah! I need to kick some ass for my health!"

"Wow, for your health, really?" her mentor said with a bit of sarcasm that made Amara stick out her tongue.

"I'm dying!" Amara proclaimed with an air of drama that was just a touch too much. "You and the whole Justice League are killing me! That's what's going to happen if you keep me out of the field!"

"You'll be fine, just as long as you don't get into anymore trouble before you're officially cleared for field work."

"What kind of trouble could I possibly get into?" Amara grumbled mutinously to herself. "I'm living vicariously through my friends' exploits."

A dark cloud settled over Amara at the thought, something that had Dinah grimacing, because dark cloud wasn't just an expression for Amara, dark cloud meant there was a physical dark cloud formed subconsciously above Amara's head because her powers were fuelled by her emotions and were still difficult to control.

"I think I know something that might cheer you up," she added as the Cave's entrance shut behind them.

"Doubt it," Amara countered.

"You'll like this, I promise," Black Canary laughed, gesturing her towards the empty hall where Amara's old Storm Chaser uniform had been stored, but when Dinah pressed the button, there was a very different uniform that slid out into view.

And it was stunning, which was a strange way to describe an article of clothing, but to Amara, who hadn't been Storm Chaser in months, it was a thing of beauty. The outfit was mostly black –just as it had been before– but where there had been grey there was now blue. The blue wasn't very noticeable and Amara was almost certain the design was in such a way that if she stood a certain way it would seem reminiscent to a cloud; Amara liked it, it was subtle and God knew that a lightning bolt would have been far too ridiculous. The upper chest was stiff under her fingers as she roved her fingers over it.

"Reinforced," Dinah said, noticing her interest, "its light weight but it might throw you a little off when you first put it on, but it'll at least protect your chest when it comes down to it."

"Thanks," Amara said quietly, drawing her hand back to rub at one of the scars she had on her chest from Merlyn's arrows.

"She had to refit everything since you've grown in the past few months," Black Canary added, "and we completely replaced your utility belt." She raised a hand to tap at the dark grey colored belt with various pouches, not unlike Robin's –though Amara's at least wasn't as bright and obvious as Robin's golden one. "It's got your usual: rebreather, grappler, gas pellets, flash grenades, bolas…but S.T.A.R. Labs came up with something that might interest you."

Interest piqued, Amara's eyebrows rose. "What is it?" she asked curiously.

And a few seconds later she was holding what appeared to be a flimsy whip of flexible steel.

"It's not a very durable substance, but its only designed to briefly stall and its conductive, which means you can send a shock through it."

"Cool!" Amara flicked it for good measure, to test out how well it worked, sending a ripple of electricity down it from grip to tip and the material glowed and sparked from the effort, starling her slightly. "Whoa!"

"There's no assurance that it'll hold up against the power of your voltages," Dinah added before her protégé could get too swept away with her new toy. "What I'm saying is don't rely on it too much."

"I've got my bo-staff, no worries, and I still kick ass with my batons," Amara added, inspecting the material of the whip with intensity. She'd kept up with her bo-staff and baton training despite her previous lack of use in her legs, though it had been easier to train with her batons than expanding them into the bo-staff. "What are my chances of getting to put this on in a week?"

Her green eyes were large and imploring, but Dinah was largely immune.

"Very slim, Amy."

Amara pouted, turning away so Dinah couldn't see the smile on her lips or the ideas springing forth in her mind.

Cheshire was running through the shadows, darting about unseen, which was remarkably easy when you were an assassin, and she spotted her destination quite easily –it wasn't as though she'd never been there before– so she climbed her way up the winding branches until she was perched outside the window.

Cracking the window took very little effort, but creeping inside took a bit more, but in a matter of moments she was standing lightly on the floor, moving silently towards the bed.

Amara was slumbering peacefully despite the fact that there was a deadly assassin not too far away. Her laptop was in reach, resting precariously at the end of her bed, and her comlink and phone were on her bedside table in case she needed to grab them in a hurry.

Cheshire flicked the sleeping girl's cheek, making her jerk awake suddenly with a swear: "Dammit, Jade!"

Cheshire snorted as the meta-human reached over to turn on the lamp at her bedside, wincing as she looked up at the assassin before starting in surprise. "Whoa, you look like hell."

"Aw, Storm, you know how to woo a girl~!" Cheshire purred, making Amara flush a faint pink, scoffing.

"Let me guess, you're here for my first aid kit and sleeping bag?" Amara asked her dryly, leaning back against her bed with a low groan.

Amara wasn't quite sure how her life had devolved to this. Cheshire –or Jade Nguyen as that was her real name– had a common habit of coming to Amara for getting her information. She said it was because Amara was the least likely to double-cross her, but Amara thought she liked her just a little bit.

So Amara kicked off her covers, stretching before moving towards the bathroom, rubbing at her eyes as she leaned up on her tip-toes to pull the first aid kit from the shelf above the sink. Her first-aid kit was a bit more extensive, owing to it belonging to the sidekick to a hero, no doubt. Oliver and Dinah had given it to her after the first mission during which she had sustained some serious injuries.

"Want me to suture?" Amara asked her, sitting down on the edge of her tub. "You always leave too much space…"

She wasn't wrong, Cheshire knew. She had learned the hard way to suture her wounds the hard way and Amara was more skilled in the art.

Cheshire shrugged off the left sleeve of her kimono while Amara stood briefly to shut the bathroom's door before pulling out some spare suture thread and threading it through the needle before examining the slice on Jade's arm.

"Sword?" she queried, swabbing the skin around the gash with rubbing alcohol, cleaning it before she could begin the suturing process.

"Something like that," Cheshire said with a wide smirk that only made Amara roll her eyes, not even wincing as Amara began to thread the thread and needle through her flesh, drawing the broken skin together.

"I suppose your assassination went well, then?" Amara asked wryly.

They were an odd pair, that much couldn't have been denied. Being pseudo-friends with a member of the League of Assassins probably went against at least three unofficial rules of the Justice League but Amara had always thought she was in a bit of a grey area, being the daughter of a villain, yet training under a hero as their protégé. But with Cheshire it was different. Cheshire knew what it was like being the daughter of a villain; her parents were Sportsmaster and Huntress, Amara knew, she'd checked.

Really, she shouldn't condone Jade's assassinations, but Jade was an assassin and a majority of the people she killed were rather bad. In that respect the two had agreed to disagree on their stances on heroes and villains.

"Dead as a doornail," Jade said with a hint of pride in her voice that Amara chose to ignore in favor of jabbing her needle and thread through her skin once more.

The term had never meant very much to Amara; how could something be as dead as a doornail? A doornail wasn't alive!

"How's that archer partner of yours?" Jade asked instead.

Amara snorted. "It can't be good for business, flirting with a sidekick."

Cheshire shrugged her good shoulder, faintly amused. "A girl's allowed to have a little fun every now and then."

But Amara had to wonder if that was really all it was, fun. Of course, Jade didn't seem the type to fall for anyone, let alone someone who was willing to lock her up for her crimes. Yet Roy had gotten slightly embarrassed when she'd mentioned her before.

Amara continued her work in silence until she could knot the thread's end and clean the wound again from the blood that had seeped through while she had worked before pasting a bandage over the wound.

"That should do it," she said, replacing the first aid kit above the sink once more, making to go and wash her hands when Jade grasped her wrist suddenly, just this side of painful and Amara jerked back to look at her.

Jade's eyes were impossibly dark. "Someone's looking for you, Storm, someone with connections."

"Looking for me?" Amara repeated, her heart falling right into her stomach. "What are you talking about?"

"I didn't get this from my mark," Cheshire said wryly, gesturing down at her bandaged arm, a grim tightness in her jaw. "Whoever it was, they've got resources; I had to double-back three times getting here to avoid being tailed."

Amara swallowed thickly. It couldn't have been Merlyn, he'd probably been scared off since the last time their paths had crossed, and a majority of the Star City villains were under the impression that she was dead since Storm Chaser hadn't been seen out with Black Canary in months, that only left…

"My father's been out of prison for more than a year now," Amara said, breathing out sharply and shutting her eyes briefly. He had called the house more than twenty times to speak with her, all of which Amara had never picked up, though she thought it was a little odd, him calling her, since he'd always been at the least antagonistic and at the most abusive towards her.

"I'm leaving you some things."

She opened her eyes startled. "You don't have to do that."

Jade stared at her flatly. "I always cover my assets," she said shortly, but Amara rather thought she was going a bit out of her way, but she didn't mention it to the assassin.

When Amara awoke the next morning, her sleeping bag was rolled up tightly in the closet and there was a duffle bag under Amara's bed that the girl knew for certain wasn't hers.

She pulled it out, hefting it up onto her bed with a bemused expression.

Inside were several outfits that she knew came from her own closet, along with a loaded gun and a burner cell with a single set of coordinates programmed into it that Amara didn't recognize.

We're even –C said the slip of paper on the gun that Amara wasn't entirely certain she knew how to shoot (she barely knew how to shoot with the small crossbow that Roy had given her for her birthday).

A line formed between her eyebrows as she frowned.

Cheshire wasn't the type to get involved in her affairs…unless they could actually be considered 'friends' now…it was the type of thing Roy would have done for her.

And then she gave a fond smile, before stuffing the bag back under her bed hastily as her mother's voice came from downstairs.

"Coming!" Amara called, grabbing her combat boots and making her way downstairs, forgetting briefly of the possible threat of her father.

It was a good day to wrangle some lowlifes if you asked Artemis Crock. Or just Artemis, she supposed, given that she wasn't dressed in her usual attire.

Being the daughter of Sportsmaster had forged her into a well-oiled machine, but, sadly for her father, she didn't have any interest to follow in his or Jade's footsteps.

She leapt over the rooftops, following her target, a thief who had just stolen several hundred dollars from a shop owner just getting by. Her bow was drawn, her arrow notched, when the thief convulsed suddenly from a sudden electric shock.

"Hey!" she complained. "I had him!"

"Clearly," uttered a voice in faint amusement and the figure stepped into the light and Artemis had to stare. It looked like she wasn't the only kid under eighteen donning a costume in wake of the moon.

The newcomer wore all black, a contrast to her green, and it seemed that the only skin visible were her fingers and her upper neck and face, barring the mask around her eyes. And if Artemis shifted just slightly, she could swear the girl was wearing a blue cloud outline on her clothes. Talk about trippy.

"Who're you supposed to be?" she demanded, bow still at the ready.

"Storm Chaser," the girl said in such a manner that she might as well have added 'obviously' to the end of it.

"I've seen Storm Chaser on TV, she doesn't look like that," Artemis insisted, "besides, she's dead."

Isn't she? Artemis didn't really know; no one really knew about what had happened to the sidekick to Star City hero Black Canary. The Justice League certainly wasn't saying anything. Besides, Storm Chaser's home was Star City, not Gotham City, so it wasn't like she was in the loop or anything.

"The rumors about my death were greatly exaggerated," she could just barely see those green eyes rolling. "I was out of commission for a few months, though, and I got a new uniform for my trouble." She jabbed a thumb unnecessarily at her current garb.

"Coma?" Artemis presumed.

"Wheelchair," Storm Chaser corrected, leaning down over the thief as Artemis started in surprise, her mind drifting unwillingly to her own mother, stuck in a wheelchair since that misshap… then Storm Chaser straightened, hefting the bag of money Artemis had been chasing down. "This is what you were after, right? Gonna give it back to the owners?"

"Of course," Artemis said a little stung by the calculating glint in her eyes.

"Need a friend for patrol?" Storm Chaser asked, ignoring the tone as she tossed the money towards Artemis, who barely managed to catch it in her surprise.

"Um, well, I'm not official—" Artemis started to say, a little uncomfortable as Storm Chaser walked towards her. Up close Artemis could see her grey hair spiky from static and the delicate slant of her green eyes; just how old was she? Twelve? Thirteen?

"Oh, I know," Storm Chaser laughed. "I would have heard if there was another female sidekick around…as it is there's far too many boys in the gig. That's a little too much testosterone, if you get what I mean."

Artemis couldn't help but snort.

"Besides, I haven't technically been cleared for active duty," Storm Chaser sniggered. "Might as well do as many illegal things as possible while I still can."

"You're kinda crazy…"

"Robin says I'm an adrenaline junkie," she affirmed, grinning widely. "So, what do I call you? Green Arrow wannabe? Speedy'll get a kick out of that."

"I'm Artemis," Artemis told her shortly.

Goddess of the hunt, nice," Storm Chaser nodded approvingly, shooting a small bolt of lightning over her shoulder to where the thief had awakened and tried to make a getaway while the pair was distracted, and Artemis marveled how she didn't have to even look and she didn't miss!

"I'll call you Goddess," Storm Chaser decided and Artemis balked.


"Oh, I give everyone nicknames," Storm Chaser explained in an offhand manner. "See, Speedy's Arrowhead, Robin's Little Bird, Kid Flash is Roadrunner, and Aqualad is Kelpie."

Storm Chaser winked. "Come on, Goddess, you've got to keep up."

Then she leapt off the building, leaving Artemis to follow after hastily.

An hour later Artemis' opinion of the small meta-human had improved greatly after seeing her take down several criminals with some sharp shocks and a few gadgets from her utility belt.

Then the pair had ordered some pizza at a local shop that didn't even blink at the sight of a pair of vigilantes. (And Artemis was secretly surprised that Storm Chaser actually had the foreknowledge to bring some money in one of her pouches)

"Do you go out in uniform?" Artemis asked, drumming her fingers against the table as her companion pulled out her phone to text someone with a small smirk. "I mean to eat?"

"There's this pasta place in Star City that's absolutely to die for," Storm Chaser said, her eyes lifting from the screen, "I don't think they're ever really surprised by us anymore."

"Same here," Artemis noted.

"Gotham's pretty chill about heroes," Storm Chaser said with a shrug, an eyebrow arching behind her mask. "Huh, looks like Batman's gone for the weekend, which explains why we haven't seen him…"

"How do you know?" Artemis asked in surprise. She too had noted a lacking in the appearance of the caped crusader.

"Robin," Storm Chaser said, gesturing with her phone, before laughing, "and now he wants to know what I'm doing gallivanting around when I haven't been cleared. Aw, its sweet how everyone worries about me, makes me want to ram my bo-staff into their skulls."

The sickly sweet voice she spoke in when she voiced her desire for violence made Artemis laugh.

"You've got spunk, kid."

"I can only take so much of it before I snap, which is a reasonable response, if you ask me," Storm Chaser replied, shrugging her shoulders. "Speedy's learned to accept my quirks."

Artemis dug a bite into her pizza, chewing slowly as she contemplated the girl across from her.

"You and Cheshire don't look all that alike," Storm Chaser said and Artemis nearly choked on her gulp of pizza.

"How do you know about that?" she demanded once she'd managed to swallow the bite.

"Your sister and I do each other favors," Storm Chaser said with a lack of concern.

"The League deals with an assassin?" Artemis asked sarcastically.

"Not the League," Storm Chaser shook her head, "just me."

Artemis' eyebrows arched in surprise at that. "That's ballsy," she said, unable to hide how impressed she was that the meta-human went behind the League's back to cultivate a relationship with a known assassin.

"It's what I'm good for," Storm Chaser said with a wide grin, "besides, we have something to bond over! Villainous dead-beat dads!"

"Who's your dad?"

"Oh, Goddess," Storm Chaser's eyes glittered behind her mask, "you've got to buy me dinner first before you get to ask me questions about my family relations."

And Artemis couldn't help but laugh at that.

Storm Chaser, Artemis decided when the night was done, was an interesting character, and it was certainly refreshing to see a girl out on the streets kicking ass in costume.

Now if only she could show her how she'd done that complicated flip…

"I said I was going to meet you for lunch and I'm going to do it, I promise," Amara said, laughing as she used her shoulder to keep the phone to her ear whilst doing up the ties on her combat boots.

"You said that last week, Amy," came her mother's amused tone from the other end as Amara almost tripped over her feet as she worked on the ties on the other shoe. "And then you got distracted by that computer program you and Robin have been working on."

"I was not!" Amara insisted. "Roy called me to do some information-seeking from him on that criminal they ran into. Duty calls, you know how it is."

"Yes, I do," Iris said wryly, "but I also know when something comes up, I cancel my plans."

Amara could practically see the direct look her mother would be casting towards her if she was there and she winced. "Okay, so maybe I was a little distracted…but this time I'm free, I promise, and I'm off work for the next hour, so—"

The doorbell rang as Amara pulled a light jacket over her shirt.

"Hang on it looks like there's someone at the door," she said, "I'll grab the bus and be over there soon, okay, Mom? Love you, bye!" And she shut the phone before her mother could say anything, stuffing the electronic into her pocket before opening the door to see a man standing there with dark eyes and slicked back blond hair, holding a manila envelope in his hands.

"Can I help you?" she said slowly, brow wrinkling in confusion.

"Amara Allen?" the man asked.


"I have an envelope here for you," he said in a rather flat tone, "to be read immediately."

Now that was odd statement at best and a suspicious one at worst and Amara found herself caught somewhere between the two.

But she took the envelope from him, ripping it open and pulling out a multitude of printed photographs. Amara looked at the first one, her eyes widening and her heart beating impossibly fast in her chest.

It was from a few months back when she was still in her wheelchair, sitting across from Barry and Iris in the café outside of CCPD; Barry and Iris' faces bore red Xs.

She moved to the next one; it was of all the sidekicks together –save Aqualad– on a rare occasion at it had happened, and Roy, Wally, and Dick all had Xs over their faces.

"Someone's looking for you, Storm, someone with connections."

Cheshire's words echoed in her mind, clearer now than they had ever been.

Amara chose to not make it obvious as she sized up the man in front of her; clearly he was trained and she had a feeling he was here to subdue, not kill, but Amara was trained as well.

She threw the photos in his face, kicking him harshly in the gut before vaulting her way up the stairs, racing for her bedroom. The number one rule about having a secret identity was not to show who you were where you lived, which greatly limited her options, but not completely.

Amara locked the door behind her, digging under her bed for the bag Cheshire gave her, but he burst through the door faster than she could move, only managing to snag the strap with her fingers before he grabbed her, yanking her back.

"Let –me –go!"

"No can do, princess, you're worth a fortune to me," he said, injecting a needle into her neck before she had time to slam her heel down onto his foot, making his hold on her loosen, giving Amara just enough time to yank the unregistered gun Cheshire had left her free from the bag.

There was a sharp bang and then silence.

Chapter Text

The world spun and both bodies hit the ground and Amara's room swam before her eyes, her fingers groping at her neck around the injection site. But she was barely drowsy…what had he injected her with?

She pulled herself upright, rubbing at her neck and swallowing thickly as she looked down at the body crumpled on her bedroom floor. Amara was no stranger to dead bodies, but she had never been forced to actually kill a person before.

His eyes were wide and sightless, gazing fixedly at her bedposts as the blood pooled around him from where she'd shot him through in the chest.

Amara swallowed thickly, grabbing her rucksack and hopping up onto the bed to avoid the spreading of the blood, grabbing up the syringe that the mysterious man had used on her.

"The fear will kill you first," Cheshire had once said, "rely only on your instincts."

And Amara was more than ready to vault through the window and take off, but now until she knew what she'd been injected with.

She pulled her laptop, clicking open an analysis cartridge that she'd managed to add four months previously by completely dismantling her laptop and putting it back together. Amara squirted the last of the liquid within the syringe onto the scanner.

For a moment, all that was read on the computer was: Scanning in progress.

Then it gave a sharp ding.

Positive: Subcutaneous microtransmitter

Amara swore. What was it people with liking this kind of tech to track her down? Of course, there was nothing really bad with the tech, in fact it was really great tech; subtle and operational, just the way Amara liked it. But she was getting a little annoyed with people using it on her, though it was just a little gratifying that she forced them to go to that level to find her.

"Shit, shit, shit!" Amara hissed, moving to her desk, pulling out the case Robin had given her that contained the cure to the location-specific subcutaneous microtransmitter that Merlyn had left her with. He had given her two things, the first had been the cure that had given her the flu for eighteen hours, and the other was a thick inhibitor bracelet.

Amara was pressed for time and she had no way to deactivate the microtransmitters without the solution Wayne Tech had…and Amara couldn't go there, she didn't have that kind of time.

So she pulled out the bracelet, jabbing a finger and adding a drop to the small compartment before binding it tightly to her wrist, wincing as it gave her a small shock.

Then she took the small crossbow Roy had given her for her birthday and added it to her rucksack, pausing as she looked at her image in the mirror.

Her dark curls were in wild disarray and her green eyes were slightly dilated and wide. Amara hardly recognized herself, but it wouldn't take anyone affiliated with the Justice League.

She pulled a small box out the jewelry box that she knew, if she opened it, would hold the very first hair-color-change earring that Barry had given her with a ruby gem as reference to the crimson color.

Amara pocketed it and opened her window, making her way down the tree planted outside it without a second glance back.

"Recognize: Oracle –B00," came the disembodied voice as Amara entered the Cave, taking off running down the hall until she found the compartment where her Storm Chaser uniform was kept.

This was not how she'd anticipated her day was going to go.

She had planned on going to lunch with her mother, eat dinner with her parents and sneak out in the middle of the night to Gotham to kick some ass with Artemis.

Yet here she was, packing up her things, ready to leave at any minute.

Amara shoved her utility belt into her bag, zipping it up over the bulge before looking around the Cave sadly.

She'd left a jacket over the edge of the couch that was perched in front of the large television, the bowl of nearly empty long-stale popcorn from when she had managed to convince Roy to watch the Mummy with her (Iris had banned her from watching it when she'd first watched it with her and Barry, only to freak out halfway through because of the scarabs).

Amara loved this place and now it was feeling like every time she took one step forward, someone was forcing her back. Merlyn had crippled her for months and it had taken her so long to get back on her feet (and Amara meant that in the physical and mental sense) and Amara had gotten so close to being allowed back out on Star City's streets as Storm Chaser, the sidekick to Black Canary.

But she couldn't let her family get involved in this crusade that Weather Wizard clearly had for her. She didn't know how she'd be able to forgive herself if they'd gotten hurt because of her…

Amara flinched, thinking of the photographs her would-be kidnapper had possessed. He knew what they looked like, her family, her friends…he had photographs of Wally and Roy and Dick and Barry and Iris…the fear settled like a lump of coal in her stomach.

"I'm doing this to keep you safe," she promised to the silence, raising her eyes to stare steadily to one of the visible cameras, her jaw clenching tightly. "I'm sorry."

She swallowed and hardly dared to whisper, "Goodbye," before yanking on the strap of her rucksack and rushing off in the direction of the main door that led outside.

"Recognize: Oracle –B00," came the voice once more as the side-wall scanners traced over her and Amara had one last glimpse of the inside of the Cave before the door of grass shut once more.

"So long," Amara murmured, clipping her gem to her ear, turning her hair red before she leapt up into the sky, spinning the air around her to carry her upwards.

"You know this would be faster if we had Oracle on it," Roy complained, swiveling in the chair beside his mentor as he tried his hand at hacking, though, admittedly, his skill in it wasn't nearly so developed as Amara was.

Dinah was off on assignment with Wonder Woman ("Try to keep your heads on straight without me, boys," she said, squeezing Roy's shoulder and blowing Oliver a kiss), which left Speedy and Green Arrow to hold down the fort in her absence.

"I think she's still sulking that Dinah isn't allowing her out in the field yet," Oliver replied, his mustache twitching slightly as he gave a small smirk.

"Well, she's been waiting to get back out on the streets for weeks," Roy had to concede.

Watching Amara sink into a deep depression when she'd first come out of the hospital had been remarkably difficult, especially since hardly nothing anyone ever said seemed to snap her out of it. Then she'd been trapped in that wheelchair of hers for months before she'd finally decided to try her hand at walking.

Roy could sympathize with her frustration; if he felt he was completely healed, he'd be pretty annoyed that no one was letting him take up his bow and domino mask.

"Besides, I would have asked her for some help, but Amy's not picking up," Oliver added, hitting a few keys on the keyboard, before fiddling with something on the screen, but Roy was too caught on his words to focus on just what his adoptive father was doing with his negligible hacking skills.

"Wait," he said, his brow furrowing, "what do you mean she wasn't picking up; Amy always picks up her phone."

And that was true; you'd be hard pressed to find Amara without her phone, she had it on her person at all times. Roy could count on one hand and still have fingers left over of the times he'd actually heard her phone go to voicemail.

"I know," Oliver said, "but she could be busy with Barry, so I didn't push."

"That's not like her," Roy murmured to himself, ignoring Oliver briefly as he pulled out his own phone, checking to see if she'd called him at one point before hitting the speed dial for Storm Warning.

The phone rang piercingly for a few moments before ending in the typical: "Hi, you've reached Amara Allen, sorry I can't pick up the phone, I'm probably doing something vastly important. If I don't call you later, hit me back and I'll probably pick up. BEEP!"

"Hey, it's me," Roy said into the speaker, "call me back when you get this, okay? GA's trying his hand at hacking and it's not really going so well. We could use some help."

Then he ended the call with an odd look on his face.

The phone resting on Amara's bedside table buzzed and buzzed, but there was no one to pick it up, not even the corpse on the floor, already stiff from rigor mortis.

Missed call, it read, Arrowhead.

Dick Grayson sat impatiently in his classroom, drumming his fingers against the table as he pretended to be interested in what the teacher was saying. They were almost done with class for the term; he didn't see what was the point of trying to shove as much information down their throats before they could be let go for summer.

It was times like these that Dick couldn't help but be envious of Amara being able to take all her classes online.

His friend, Barbara Gordon, who was called by Babs by everyone who knew her including Dick, elbowed him suddenly, just in time for Dick to raise his head, focusing on the board his teacher had scrawled a math problem that he was now being asked to solve.

Dick stifled his groan and moved to the front of the classroom to take the marker from him and write it out.

"It's always good to hang out with just some girls," Diana Prince told Dinah with a smile as they walked through the Justice League's Hall of Justice. "There aren't enough in the League."

"Amen," Dinah concurred with a laugh. The men in the Justice League were far more numerous than the women, of the most notable were Wonder Woman, Black Canary, and Hawkwoman. "We don't get to hang out nearly enough, Diana."

Wonder Woman gave a small shrug. "Well, Washington DC is on the opposite side of the US compared to Star City."

And she wasn't wrong there. Star City was located in California, but Dinah wasn't entirely sure that Diana could handle California's heat, as the woman tended to avoid making any appearances in Star City unless it was absolutely necessary (say what you will, but Dinah was positive it was the heat that was getting her down and absolutely nothing else).

"Come on, Diana," Dinah snorted, "we both know you could take a zeta-tube and be there in seconds."

Diana smirked widely as she made her way towards the doors, branching off from her old friend. "As it so happens, I'm rather busy this week, sorry, maybe next time."

"I'll get you to swing by sooner or later," Dinah called after her, laughing at Wonder Woman's attempts to elude her.

Then she pulled out her phone.

"Hi, you've reached Amara Allen, sorry I can't pick up the phone, I'm probably doing something vastly important. If I don't call you later, hit me back and I'll probably pick up. BEEP!"

"Hey, I guess you're a little busy," Dinah said into the phone, "but its official, next week you can start back on patrol with me and the archers. Call me back when you get this, okay? We've got some things to go over before you can start up again…"

Lunch time came and went but Iris' daughter was nowhere to be seen. She shouldn't be really worried about it, though, Amara did have a habit of time getting away from her when she got distracted…but Amara had been on her way out of the house…what could have come up that suddenly?

So Iris made a call before she went back on the air.

"Yeah, babe?"

"Hey, Barry, could you do me a favor and run home and check on Amy for me?" Iris asked her husband in a single breath.

"Why?" Barry asked in surprise. "Did she not make it to your lunch? Because she does get sidetracked—"

"Yeah, I know," Iris sighed, knowing how she sounded, "but can you check on her anyways?"

She could just imagine the confusion taking over his face before he said, "All right, I'll run home and I'll call you when I find her, all right?"

"Thanks, babe," Iris said in relief. "I've got to go, I love you."

Barry took the car rather than running speedily back to the house, no matter how he felt it would be better to run, he knew the rules; no use of powers near where you could be recognized.

As soon as he pulled up into the driveway and pulled the key out of the ignition and pulled himself out of the car he had the eerie sensation that something was wrong, and all because the door into the house was open.

There was no way that he or Iris would have left it open when they left for work that morning, and even Amara knew to lock the door after her when she went out; there was no reason for it to be open.

He approached the door cautiously. "Amy?" he called lightly. "You here?"

Barry pushed against the door, opening it further to allow him to gain a better sight of the site within. The small table that held a bowl that the Allens left their keys in when they returned home for the night had been knocked to the ground with Amara's tell-tale keys resting on the floor –her keychain held a Flash lightning bolt with two keys that went with the house locks, one key with a rose pattern that went to Bouquet Boutique's main door, and one to Roy's motorcycle back when Amara used it to drive around while Speedy shot off arrows behind her.

And with the keys on the floor were scattered an assortment of pictures that Barry had to kneel to examine, his throat clogging as he took in the images…there was him with Iris and Amara during a night out back when Amara still needed her wheelchair, she was laughing and their faces were crossed out with red.

All the pictures were like that, Barry noticed, and there were a lot of them. All of Amara with her friends and family and her co-worker and boss, and in all of them, Amara was the only one untouched.

And Amara…where was she?

"Amy?" Barry called again, standing again and peering up the silent staircase, but there was no answer. "Amy, are you still here?"

He felt a little apprehensive about going up the stairs, his own eyes playing tricks on him, forcing him to draw up a horrifying image of his daughter with her eyes wide and vacant, clouded from death. Barry had seen dead bodies before; he was a forensic scientist, of course, but he knew he wouldn't be able to handle it if his daughter's body was in her room.

That door was open to, though it had been opened forcibly as opposed to the front door…like it had been locked, like Amara had run to the room to get away from whoever had given her the photos, but he'd followed.

And then Barry stepped inside his daughter's room. There was a mess beside her bed, dominated by the corpse of a man who had long since bled out onto Amara's carpeting. The items on Amara's bedside table had for the most part been swept to the floor with her alarm clock and comlink and lamp that she used late in the night, the only thing left on it was her phone. They were clearly knocked over in a struggle.

There was a syringe on the floor that Barry was certain would be found to be the man's…but he had died from a gunshot wound, and there were no guns in the house, neither Barry nor Iris believed in them; if there was one thing Iris believed in, it was tasers.

But Amara wasn't there.

There was clothes missing from the closet and her laptop was gone, and Amara never went anywhere without her laptop.

Barry pulled out his phone, releasing a sharp breath as he dialed Bruce Wayne's number.

"Bats, we've got a problem," he said, "and I need your help."

All in all, Dinah really shouldn't have been surprised; it wasn't as though Amara hadn't gone missing before. But last time Amara had performed her disappearing act, it had been in an effort to find her missing friend, this time it was for self-preservation.

If she'd found out that someone was spying on her, she would have done the same thing as Amara; just up and left. She probably thought it was the best option, a way to keep the people she loved safe, and she wasn't wrong, but Dinah worried about where Amara was planning on hiding out; her protégé's safety was her priority.

"I'm going after her," Roy said stonily as Barry spoke with Batman, leaving his wife sitting beside Dinah, leaning forward and pressing her hands into her eyes while Dinah rubbed soothing circles into her shoulders.

"No, you're not," she nearly barked, quieting briefly when Iris jolted at the noise. "You don't know where to start looking, none of us do! We've searched her typical hideouts, Speedy! She isn't there!"

"I can't just sit here and do nothing!" Roy insisted.

Iris gave a short laugh that was inappropriate, given the circumstances, but she couldn't help it. "You sound like her," she said with a small smile towards the young archer, "back when you went missing…she said almost the same thing."

Silence descended on them as the image of Amara collecting her Storm Chaser costume replayed on the screen before she ran off with barely a look back. The look on her face…the kind of determination she'd had…it was just a little frightening.

"We'll get her back, Iris, don't worry," Black Canary tried to console her friend with a kindly smile that Iris saw past easily; Roy didn't blame her, Amara was better at pulling the wool over others eyes and she still was bad at fooling Iris.

"You don't know that," Iris denied, pulling herself a little away from the meta-human. "She left because someone knew where she lived and worked, who her family and friends were! My –my daughter won't come back until she knows it's safe for us…" Her shoulders gave a small sag. "That's just the way she functions."

And it was true. If there was one thing Amara prized above everything else, it was her family and her friends. She wouldn't risk their safety for her own.

It proved difficult to keep the authorities from finding out the identities of the Flash and the one former known as Storm Chaser, but they couldn't very well keep a dead body rotting in their house.

So, the Allen house was cleaned out in the dead on night with the body taken away to be examined and the blood cleaned up without any trace that there had been anything unsightly there before.

But then there was the matter that Amara had a job and disappearing had put them in a precarious position of explaining her disappearance…but that was a problem to be tackled the very next day.

Amara had nothing against traveling on foot, but flying was certainly faster, though it did have its downsides, most of them were because Amara could only last so long up in the air. Her control of air, of the clouds, wasn't as good as she would like it to be, so she'd ended up having to buy an expandable raft (purchased with cash and far from Central City).

The destination that Jade had given her was far from the shores of the United States, which did very little to help her with her little problem of prolonged flying.

By now she was sure that the Justice League had been made aware of her disappearance and had at least made some attempts at finding her. She was beyond certain that they would have tried to find her location from her laptop, but Amara had long-since disabled that feature.

For know Amara gave in to rest, slumped in the small raft, her bag resting across from her as she guzzled down some water –careful to conserve but also needing enough in order to survive.

Her whole body was sore from the effort of her air-manipulation, but she knew she could only rest for so long, it may have been the middle of the night, but she didn't feel very comfortable in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean (or was she in the Indian Ocean now? She didn't even know), especially since she was so out in the open, capable of being attacked from all sides.

"How much farther?" she moaned to herself, pulling out the burner phone Jade had left her with containing the single set of coordinates. Where it led Amara could only hazard a guess, and the guess at the top of that list was a safe house, but it seemed pretty out of the way for a safe house.

Amara would just have to find out when she got there, she supposed.

So she removed the air from the raft for probably more than the twelfth time that day (though, honestly, she had stopped counting after seven), hovering in the air as she compressed it back into her bag, before she threw the straps over her shoulders and vaulted up into the sky with only the phone to guide her to her coordinates.

The night passed quietly into day, marked only by the sun creeping over the horizon, painting it pink and orange. Amara had never quite been able to appreciate just how beautiful the view was when you were so high up, but, then again, Amara had never had a need to be up so high in the sky that she disappeared into the clouds.

And it was nearly midday when Amara reached her destination, descending slowly from her great height to the land lightly on the sandy beach that was hidden by sharp, craggy rocks and a veil of fog…

"Oh, you've got to be kidding me," Amara said, looking into the jungle as a stunned realization overtook her.

She knew this island, Oliver had told her about it one time…it was one of the Fiji islands, the one that he had been shipwrecked on for five years. Oliver hadn't said much about it, but he'd given a very rough description that made it clear where she was.

This was Starfish Island, where Oliver Queen became Green Arrow.

Chapter Text

"What was it like there?" Amara asked once to Oliver when she stayed over at the Queen Manor after a particularly long patrol.

"Cold some days, warm others," Oliver said simply. "And very lonely."

The waves swept over the shore, soaking through Amara's shoes as she landed lightly on the rocky sand.

The island was more impressive that Oliver had ever described it to be, with high-reaching mountains and thick trees as far as the eye could see.

"You took your time," came a familiar coquettish tone and Amara scowled, jabbing a finger in the direction of the assassin.

Jade wasn't dressed in her usual, her green kimono and skintight black jumpsuit were gone, instead she wore a simple black shirt and loose dark green trousers.

"Do you have any idea how long it takes to get to Fiji from the US, Jade?" Amara demanded, exhausted from exerting herself to fly the last bit of the way to Starfish Island. "It's a damn long way!Why don't you try it manipulating the air the whole way with only small breaks?"

Cheshire sniggered at her response, clearly unfazed by the younger girl's fire. "At least you're smart enough to not take a commercial flight."

She swept forward to grasp Amara's bag, ignoring her outraged expression (did she know how exhausting it was to manipulate the air around her for hours on end? Of course not!) that Amara tossed in her direction. "C'mon, I'll drop your stuff off and we can get started."

"No rest?" Amara asked weakly; she was so close to being dead on her feet that it wasn't even funny.

Jade's eyes narrowed. "We'll exchange information and then we'll get to work."

"Get to work?" Amara's eyebrows rose. "What are you talking about?" Amara hadn't even known the exact coordinates to Starfish Island until she'd reached it…she had just thought the coordinates led to a safe house of Jade's where she could cool her heels and contemplate her next move.

But Jade gave no answer and Amara supposed that that was about as good as she was going to get, so she sighed and accepted her fate.

"It's a bit of a hike," Jade added over her shoulder with a vicious laugh at Amara's answering moan of complaint, but she still followed after her like an overexerted puppy.

The walk passed for the most part in silence while Amara took in her surroundings, tripping over her feet a few times during her distraction, but it was easy to find yourself distracted by the beauty of the island, even knowing how it had forged Oliver into the Green Arrow.

"How did you even come across Starfish Island?" Amara asked curiously, ducking under a branch.

"It was an old League of Assassins stronghold decades ago," Jade told her, "before Oliver Queen was shipwrecked here…I came across it completely by accident but it had the kinds of things I needed…solitude and safety."

Amara's gaze focused on the dark of Jade's wild dark hair.

"Isn't it lonely?" she asked quietly.

"Sometimes," Cheshire responded, unconcerned, "but it's my choice and there were times in my life where that wasn't the option."

Amara thought about Cheshire's father, Sportsmaster. She knew from the file on him that the League had that he was a rather uncaring individual who cared very little for weakness.

"I've been running around with your sister," Amara informed her, "she's got a good aim."

That drew Jade up short and the assassin turned to face Amara and she could detect a faint glimmer of pride in her grey eyes. "Does she?"

"When was the last time you spoke with your sister?" Amara asked her curiously, tilting her head to the side, and just like that, it was as though a switch had been flipped and emotion had been effortlessly blanked.

"A long time ago," she said forcefully, "come on, we've still got a way to go."

The meta-human half-expected them to hike up a mountain, but they didn't, instead they moved deeper and deeper into the thick forest until they came to…nothing.

"You can't see it, can you?" Jade asked her, just a little too smug for Amara's liking.

"Exactly what am I supposed to be seeing?" Amara asked dryly, crossing her arms before Jade gripped one, jerking her lightly to the side.

"See it now?"

Amara blinked, taking in the area that Jade was referring to. She couldn't believe she'd missed it, but there was gaping opening into a cave that was clear against the base of the mountain.

"Don't worry," Jade sniggered, "most people miss it if they're not looking for it."

"Probably makes it pretty ideal for an assassin," Amara conceded grudgingly as she watched Cheshire toss her bag into the cave. "Hey! My stuff's in there!"

Cheshire gave her a look that clearly said that that was rather clear to her (and she didn't care). "That's only where we sleep, we've still got some walking to do."

"I swear this is some kind of punishment," Amara declared in exasperation. She just wished that she had enough cowardice in her to give up right then, but she didn't and Amara couldn't take on Weather Wizard the way she was now, barely considered completely healed from Merlyn's attack all the previous months ago. And she could only assume that Jade had chosen herself to beat Amara into shape.

"Aw, Storm, wanna give up already?" Cheshire purred, her eyes glittering as she leaned forward. "And the fun hasn't even begun!"

"Your fun and my fun are two very different things," Amara felt the need to point out, turning faintly pink at the flirtatious wink that was thrown in her direction. "Besides, I think it's probably safe to say that you're going to run me into the ground."

Cheshire, after all, had the strength enough to last against super-powered individuals; she was cunning and ruthless and right now cunning and ruthless were probably the best Amara was going to get. Cunning and ruthless was going to be the thing that kept her alive.

The assassin took her to what appeared to be the remnants of a crashed plane, which was possibly the strangest thing she'd seen since she landed. There were leaves and vines curling up the remnants of the plane's hull.

There were a few boxes piled up towards the front of the broken hull, along with a piece of exercise equipment that Amara recognized from when she beat her batons against her own back in the Cave, as well as a salmon ladder that she knew she didn't had the strength to pull herself up (the only person she'd seen do it was Oliver and only for a bet with Dinah).

"Did you use the gun?" Jade asked, tossing her a canteen of water from within one of the crates and Amara gulped at it greedily.

"Unfortunately," Amara said, a cold shudder running down her spine as she recalled her would-be kidnapper's cold dead eyes. "I got myself injected with some subcutaneous microtrackers, but I'm jamming the transmitters with this." She held up her wrist where the thick black bracelet was bound. "Then I left a decaying corpse in my room and left Central City. You could say that I'm having afabulous day."

The dry sarcasm couldn't have been missed.

"Guess darling Daddy really wants to find you," Jade snorted, and Amara chose to ignore her in favor of taking a few more swigs of water.

"A first time for everything," Amara muttered.

"There's a story behind that," Cheshire probed but Amara didn't bother to answer. "You hate him, don't you?"

"Of course." The scowl on her lips brooked no argument of that fact. "It isn't like he hasn't tried to kill me before."

"He also needs a wand to use his powers." Jade arched an eyebrow. "You don't…but you still ran away."

Amara swallowed the last of her water, screwing the cap back on the canteen. "Maybe I'm just a coward."

Cheshire snorted. "You're a lot of things, Storm, but I'm pretty sure that cowardly doesn't even make the list."

"So what am I, then?"

"I think you were scared, sure," Cheshire said with a shrug, "but you've also seen me fight." She leaned forward against her crate, her eyes glittering and Amara eyed her oddly.

"And?" she asked.

"I know you're not that dim, Storm." Cheshire's lip curled slightly in disdain. "We both know you're in need of some serious training."

Amara flopped onto her back, gazing up towards the top of the hull. "Because I hadn't already been getting any training from Black Canary."

"Black Canary is your mentor, she is only willing to push you so far as she thinks you can handle…I can push you past your breaking point."

Amara sat up in order to look on her companion.

She wasn't wrong about Dinah; Amara knew she'd been holding back, ever since she'd been able to stand on her own feet for any length of time after the accident. Maybe it was because she felt a bit guilty, seeing as it had been her decision to send Amara to Queen Industries that fateful night, maybe it was because she worried if she pushed Amara too far she would break.

But Amara wasn't delicate, and she never had been.

"Why?" Amara asked her. "Why help me? Why train me? What do you get out of it?"

Jade's smile was just this side of coy. "You know me, Storm, I'm all about protecting my assets."

Amara gave her a dubious stare in return, clearly not believing her for two seconds. "And just how many favors am I going to owe you for this?"


"Jade! Now you're just full of crap!" Amara snapped, green eyes blazing.

"I am not," Jade insisted with a smirk, "your debt's already been paid in full."

The meta-human's eye twitched at the mention of her so-called 'debt', though she didn't really see how she could have possibly considered Amara to owe her a debt, especially since Amara hadn't really asked her to do anything for her.

"Paid in full?" Amara repeated, spluttering just slightly. "By who?"

"Your mother was very generous," Cheshire said simply.

"My mother?" the meta-human positively gaped at her. "What are you talking about? Iris paid you?"

"Not that mother," Jade said slyly, watching her reaction with interest.

Startled surprise overtook Amara's face, coloring her eyes and for a moment Jade could swear that fair complexion of her skin had taken on a greenish tint, reminding her of the day she had first been approached by Poison Ivy herself…

"You can come out of the shadows," Cheshire spoke silkily, her sais clenched tightly in her hands, her eyes narrowed behind her mask, "I know you're there."

"I suppose it would be a bit difficult to sneak up on an assassin," a musing voice responded and Cheshire had to stare as the speaker came into the light.

The soft green of her skin gave her away first, but the red of her hair and the green of her eyes only added to the image; there was no one else the woman could possibly be than Poison Ivy, the famed eco-terrorist from Gotham City…but what was she doing in Central City?

Stranger still, Poison Ivy was dressed in normal clothes; a jacket patterned with tulips and comfortable jeans.

Poison Ivy had gone nearly completely silent for the past few months, only making herself known a few times, and never making enough noise to draw the attention of the Justice League; it was as though she was going through painstaking effort to avoid them.

"Yes, it is," Cheshire said, not relaxing her grip on her sais.

"I believe you are an associate of my daughter's," the woman added and behind her mask, Cheshire arched an eyebrow.

"Your daughter?" she parroted. She was sure that she would have heard if Poison Ivy had a kid.

"Oracle," Poison Ivy said shortly and that made Cheshire's eyes widen…but it also made a bit of sense. She could see Storm had inherited the shape and color of her eyes from her mother, as well as her smile.

"W-o-w," Cheshire said, "who would've thought Flash's little girl had two big bads for parents."

Poison Ivy ignored that comment. "I'm sure you're aware her father is out of prison and—"

"And is looking for her? Yeah, I might've been made aware of it," Cheshire replaced her sais in the straps across her back. "Why?"

Poison Ivy's eyes narrowed slightly and she looked a little like Storm when she was regarding Cheshire suspiciously. "You know where she lives," the woman pointed out, "you could have told him how to find her."

Cheshire's lips thinned into a line, even though the expression could not be seen. "That's not really my style."

"Thank you," Poison Ivy said sincerely.

"I'm guessing she doesn't have any idea about you," Cheshire surmised. Storm certainly hadn't mentioned her birth-mother before to Cheshire.

"No," Poison Ivy said, a small grimace forming on her lips before she blanked her expression. "But I am not here to make small talk…I have a business proposition for you."

"Oh?" Cheshire's interest couldn't help but be piqued at that. A request from Poison Ivy? Storm had to be involved.

"As I'm sure you're aware," Poison Ivy said smoothly, drawing her hands into her pockets, "one day Weather Wizard might send someone after my daughter."

"I've already covered that front," Cheshire said, crossing her arms and leaning on her left leg.

"You also know that she was benched from active duty after the…accident." Cheshire noticed how the word hissed through her teeth as though rolling off a serpent's tongue.

"Yes." Cheshire's brow furrowed slightly. "Are you saying that you want me to train Oracle if and when she finds herself on the run from Weather Wizard and his associates? That's a high demand and I'm not cheap."

But there was no denying that Storm could benefit from hand-to-hand combat with a trained assassin; the girl needed some serious instruction in using all that she could and pushing her limits.

"I know," Poison Ivy said, and out of her pocket she drew an envelope, extending it to her and Cheshire moved forward to take it, whistling lowly at the amount listed. "I presume this is enough."

"Quite," Cheshire responded with a bit of interest, "it's an awful lot of money to train someone."

"I take my daughter's safety very seriously," Poison Ivy intoned. "There is no price too high for that."

"Why did you ask me, then?"

Poison Ivy arched an eyebrow. "She trusts you well enough and you know a thing or two about using your strength wisely."

And then she strode past Cheshire, disappearing out of the darkened alley, leaving Cheshire to contemplate what she was getting herself into.

"My…my biological mother?" Amara asked weakly, hardly daring to believe the words passing from her lips. She had known that her mother knew who she was, obviously, how could she not? Amara still had the bracelet that she'd been given for her twelfth birthday from the elusive mother. "She asked you to do this for me?"

Amara wouldn't lie; she'd often wondered about her biological mother's true feelings about her existence. Weather Wizard certainly had found her to be an irritation and an aggravation, but one that must be controlled…but if her mother had gone to Cheshire with a request to train her…then it was clear that she must have at least cared about Amara's safety, right?

"More like paid me, but semantics," Jade said with a shrug. "So, ready to sweat and bleed, Storm?"

Amara eyed the hand Cheshire had extended to her, considering her options briefly –they weren't all that great given her situation– and, knowing how much Jade was going to kick her ass, Amara couldn't help but grasp the hand and pull herself upright before tumbling back down with a pained thump that came on from Jade tossing a pair of lead pipes at her.

"What the f—" Amara swore loudly. "What was that for? I've got my own batons!"

"I know," Jade said in an unimpressed voice, "they may have cut it before, but you're training with me, Storm Chaser."

"And lead pipes are supposed to help me…how?" Amara asked, flummoxed as she hefted them in her hands. They were much heavier than the batons, weighing her down.

Cheshire gave a loud put-upon sigh. "C'mon, Storm, get it together, if you practice with something that's heavier it'll make your movements faster with a weapon that's lighter."

Amara could feel a flush of embarrassment creeping up her neck at that comment. "Oh, right."

Then Cheshire grabbed her arm, jerking her out of the old plane's broken hull and into the bright sunlight, before releasing her grip and twisting her own sais in her hands, a lethal smirk on her lips. "I believe in training that risks your life, let's see how well you do!"

And then she lunged forward and Amara barely had time to block, and she didn't apply nearly enough strength to keep Jade back, and the assassin overpowered her with ease, forcing her onto her back before making a downwards slice with her sai that Amara just barely missed by rolling away, kicking out one of Jade's legs before leaping to her feet, heart beating wildly in her chest.

"You're really trying to kill me, aren't you?" she gasped.

"That's the idea!"

Metal collided with metal and Amara swiped at Jade's face only to end up bruising her own. "Goddammit!"

Cheshire gave a laugh, aiming for her heart this time.

Amara's bout with Jade lasted more than three hours before Jade called it quits, allowing Amara to collapse into an exhaustive puddle of bruises and cuts that barely managed to drag itself to the cave to flop down onto the sleeping bag.

"I hate you," Amara proclaimed into the darkness only to hear a dark chuckle from the opposite side of the cavern.

"We'll see," Jade said.

Pamela Isley hummed a soft tune as she cut the stalks on some blue irises before binding them in a tight bouquet.

Amara had been gone hardly a day and Pamela couldn't help but marvel how the girl's father managed to explain away her disappearance (on a trip abroad for a school project? Unlikely but highly plausible, given the nature of Amara's education) but she could see the worry lines on Barry's face when he'd arrived at the shop to postpone Amara's job there until she returned from the trip.

Most employers wouldn't be nearly as understanding or considerate as Sandra, but the woman did have a soft spot for Amara, for which Pamela was grateful.

But she was also grateful that the Justice League cared enough about her daughter's secret identity to keep the attack on her at the house quiet (yes, Pamela knew about that, she did have her own way of gathering information). It wasn't as though they could very well say that an agent of the Weather Wizard had tried to kidnap his biological daughter, who was once the sidekick known as Storm Chaser and under the current name of Oracle, who was also the adoptive daughter of the Flash…

Pamela smiled to herself, pleased that her daughter was at least, for the time, out of danger and training to combat against it.

"You're going to run around the island until I say stop."

Amara knew that Cheshire was sadistic, the past two days had taught her that much, but she would have thought that the assassin had an off switch, but as time went on, Cheshire seemed to get more and more sadistic with ways in which to train Amara and Amara wasn't sure if she was even going to last a week at this rate (very doubtful, Amara thought).

"You're joking," Amara said, the blood draining from her face as she gaped at Jade who was drinking her damn tea like Amara wasn't having a heart attack right in front of her, and make no mistake, that was most certainly happening. "Please tell me you're joking."

"Aw, Storm~," Jade purred, "you know me better than that."

"I hate you," Amara managed through gritted teeth, her hands balling at her sides.

"We'll see," Jade replied as she always did when Amara informed her of her hatred of her before shooing her towards the beach.

The problem was Starfish Island's beach all the way around the island was quite a trek; Amara had never made it the whole way before and there was so much of the island that she hadn't seen yet.

So Amara started off at a light jog until Jade called behind her: "Book it, Storm! I don't have time for your half-assed jogging!"

Amara growled, just feeling a vein throbbing on her forehead at the words, but she still picked up speed, per Cheshire's request (demand), her shoes lodging in the wet sand, kicking it up as she launched herself forward, her legs beating furiously.

It didn't take long at all for Amara to start to feel the burn under her skin, in her muscles, from the rapid action, burning through her energy at a startlingly fast rate.

Amara opted to swear rapidly under her breath, using curses that she was sure her mother would disapprove of and her father would find himself laughing over, but it was better to distract herself with the curses than to focus on the wrenching pain in her legs as she moved them furiously.

She almost tripped over her feet twice, but Amara didn't stop running, she couldn't, not with Cheshire's words reverberating in her skull: "Black Canary is your mentor, she is only willing to push you so far as she thinks you can handle…I can push you past your breaking point."

Amara was going to hit her breaking point and then she was going to fire right past it.

Black Canary was definitely going to kill her.

Chapter Text

Roy didn't understand how Black Canary could give up so easily; Amara was her sidekick! Flash still scoured the country every day looking for his daughter, even if he came up with nothing. Roy watched the video-feed every day trying to find miniscule details that might give any indication of where his partner was hiding out.

"You're angry."

"Of course I'm angry!" Roy snarled. "She's my partner!"

Dinah's calm expression didn't alter even with the fire blazing in his eyes now being directed at her; she was far too used to his anger about the situation.

"No," Dinah disagreed, "you're angry with her."

Roy reeled back, startled. "Of course I'm not!" he refuted. How could he be angry with Amara? It wasn't like she wanted to have someone watching her or making a kidnapping attempt. It wasn't like she wanted to have Weather Wizard for a father.

"You're angry with her because she didn't leave any clues of how to find her," Dinah corrected, swirling her spoon in her cup of tea without much interest.

Roy gritted his teeth together in annoyance, turning his back on her to continue sharpening his arrows.

"Roy, do you know how worried Amy was when you disappeared?" Black Canary asked him gently, her eyes soft even if he didn't see it with his back facing her. "She would have scoured the country –the world– if she could have, but there was next to nothing in a way to track you down and with her there's even less information…there's nothing on the security tapes, there's nothing in the forensics…Barry doesn't even know how Amy got her hands on a gun."

Roy frowned thoughtfully.

As Oracle, Amara had become a bit famous in the electronic underworld, something she had called the BlackNet. Finding your way into the BlackNet was one thing but actually knowing your way around was another. Fortunately, Amara had been able to do both, which had been a great help to the League, particularly Batman, who had used her skills in navigating the BlackNet to take down a few weapons manufacturers in Gotham.

"BlackNet," he murmured.

"What was that?" Dinah asked, furrowing her brow as she missed his words, too soft to be heard.

"Nothing," Roy said, replacing the arrow and his sharpening tools as he took the stairs up to his room two at a time, calling over his shoulder, "I've got to make a call!"

Dinah watched him until her disappeared, the crease on her brow deepening as she raised her cup to her lips to sip her tea as the main door opened and Oliver came through it, shrugging off his suit's coat as he did so.

"How was work, babe?" Dinah asked as he bent to kiss her cheek before riffling through the kitchen cupboards for a glass to pour some whiskey into. "Rough day, then?"

"Like you wouldn't believe," he grumbled, taking the alcohol in one gulp. "How are things here?"

Dinah knew well enough that he meant: How is Roy?


Before she could say anything more, Roy had raced down the stairs, pulling a light jacket over his shoulders and shoving his phone into his pocket before pulling his key ring off the hook on the wall that held the respective keys for: his motorcycle, the manor's main keys, and Amara's house key (from when she'd been stuck in her wheelchair and took an age to answer the door).

"Where's the fire?" Oliver asked with a quirked eyebrow and Roy had to do a double-take, since the last time he had checked, Oliver had still been at work.

"I'm meeting Robin and Kid Flash," Roy said after a moment of shaking his head to clear his thoughts.

"Dinner's going to be soon," Dinah mentioned.

"Have it without me," Roy said distractedly. "Go out on a date, or something."

Then he grabbed his helmet and darted out of the kitchen to the garage and the last thing the pair heard was the revving of the engine of Roy's motorcycle and the last thing they saw was the red motorcycle tearing out of the manor's main gates.

"It's really eating at him," Oliver sighed, slumping down into the seat opposite Dinah.

"Amy was the same back when he went missing, remember?" Dinah sighed. "Actually, I think that Amy might have been a bit worse; I think she was running on only caffeine at one point." The amount of time she had dedicated towards finding Roy had been great and Dinah wasn't even sure how many hours of sleep she had gotten at night, if she had even gotten any.

"We'll find her," Oliver promised, reaching a hand over the table to squeeze her fingers comfortingly, "or she'll find us…when she's ready."

Though Dinah had to wonder when Amara would be ready; she'd left because she knew she was putting her friends and family in danger.

"I think the odds would be a bit more in our favor if we were close to catching Weather Wizard, but he's as hard to find as she is," Dinah sighed, "I suppose she inherited that from him."

"That and the grey hair and her stormy powers," Oliver mused thoughtfully and Dinah rolled her eyes for good measure.

"She'll be all right," Oliver added, "Amy's a tough kid, and it isn't like she hasn't done this before."

"Last time she was gone for two weeks," Dinah pointed out. "Ollie, it's been a month…how long is she expecting to stay gone?"

Oliver didn't say anything to that, only repeating: "She's a tough kid."

"I'm going to fucking kill you!" Amara swore loudly from where she was swinging, feet chained to a branch high above the ground, giving Amara a perfect line of sight to view Jade's self-confident smirk.

"You're the one who said you can get out of cuffs without using picks," Jade responded easily. "I'm just testing that."

"That happened one time!" Amara yelled angrily, making her swing a bit more precariously from her branch. "Do you have any idea how difficult it is to condense air in a confined space to open a lock? It's pretty damn hard, Jade!"

Amara was sure that her face was red from the blood rushing from her feet to her head, but she was beyond the point of caring.

"Well, then I guess you are going to be up there a very long time," Jade said, remarkably uncaring as she strode off, leaving Amara hanging in the tree, grumbling viciously under her breath.

Four weeks of hell and this was where it had gotten her? Up a tree with chains cutting into her ankles. In what life had trusting an assassin ever ended up good for anyone involved?

Amara had honestly lost count of the downright painful training methods that Jade had subjected her to. She could still feel the bruises from when Jade had made her hover high above the island for over five hours; Amara had barely made it, crumpling into a heap when she'd finished it. Then there was training with the metal pipes everyday…and then there was that time she had dislocated Amara's arm, forcing her to put it back into place herself… there was a fine line between training and torture, but Jade had made good on her promise to push Amara past her breaking point.

Her fingers curled inwards and Amara closed her eyes briefly, taking a deep breath and preparing herself to move. Then her eyes snapped open and she used her own flexibility –rather than taking the easy way out and manipulating the air around her– to swing her torso towards her legs, grasping the chain to pull herself upright and get a good look at the keyhole.

"God, I hate picking locks," she complained, focusing a hand over the hole, thickening the air inside of it, but it wasn't easy work. Getting out of handcuffs was one thing, but getting out of shackles was entirely different, especially these kind of shackles, designed to be next to impossible to pick. "I hate Jade too," she muttered a few moments later, her brow still creased from focus when the shackles gave a click and opened.

Amara sighed, releasing her grip on the chains to flip down to land heavily on her feet on the ground below. She allowed herself a brief moment to revel in her accomplishment, right before a harsh blow connected with her leg and Amara felt it snap under the pressure.

A sharp yell left her lips as she fell, clutching at the leg while Jade stepped into view, holding a pipe over her shoulder.

"What the fuck, Jade?!" Amara raged.

"I hear you heal fast," Jade said, unperturbed as Amara swore angrily.

Wally didn't have access to the Cave yet like Dick and Roy, Dick lived with the Batman, and Roy lived with Green Arrow (and Black Canary most days), there wasn't a long list of places they could meet where they couldn't be overheard, but Wally's house had to be at the top of the list.

"I'm guessing you still can't find Amy anywhere," Roy mentioned to Dick who was sitting backwards in Wally's desk chair.

"No dice," Dick agreed with a sigh, running his hand through his hair, "wherever she is, she's staying out of range from any kind of camera."

"Great," Wally drawled out, flopping back on his bed, "so we're back to square one."

"I don't think so," Roy said, a small smirk forming on his lips. "There's one place no one's looked yet…BlackNet."

Dick's sunglasses –why he insisted on wearing them inside when the two red-heads knew his secret identity, Wally didn't even want to know– slid down on his nose, giving Roy full view of the blue eyes that widened in shock.

"You're joking," he said stunned, "the BlackNet? Are you crazy? Their encryption is next level! It would take me weeks, maybe even months to get in!"

"All right, the Wallman is confused," Wally said, looking from archer to acrobat. "What exactly is the BlackNet?"

"You can think of it like an online criminal underworld," Roy said with a shrug, "drugs, weapons, assassinations, you name it, they've got it."

"But what does Amy have to do with BlackNet?"

"Oracle is a fixture in BlackNet," Dick said instead. "The BlackNet doesn't specifically cater to the criminal sort, but it is the best way to get information, and that's how Amy got involved in it back when she first started out as Oracle. The League's tried to infiltrate it before, but they've never gotten close to getting an invite to join; you have to request to get into the site."

"If the League couldn't get in then how did Amy?" Wally asked, his eyebrows drawing together.

Roy shrugged. "Amy sees the world differently; she's the biological daughter of a villain and the adoptive one of a hero, I'd say it's given her a unique perspective…either way, she got in by offering her services. There's a part of the BlackNet that deals exclusively with people stuck in impossible situations where they can't reach out to anyone, those are the people she helps; if you mention you're a friend of Oracle, then those people will give you whatever you want."

Wally blinked. "So she's some kind of knight in shining armor to…abuse victims?"

Well, she would certainly identify with them the most.

"Sometimes," Dick agreed. "Other times its people seeking justice when the courts fail them, you know, actual proof that crimes have been committed even after they're swept under the rug, the occasional blackmailed person trying get out from under their blackmailer's thumb, getting people what they need, like expensive medications for next to nothing…"

Wally whistled lowly. "I had no idea Amy was such a badass."

Roy snorted. "She's always been a badass, only now she's a badass with wifi."

"It sounds like a lucrative business."

"It is," Dick agreed. "Sometimes her clients pay her in money, but Amy only asks for what they can afford –I think she once had someone give her five dollars– and if they can't give money, then they give out favors."

He could remember one time in particular when the sister of a leader of a drug cartel had been trapped in an abusive relationship that Amara had helped her get out of and the head of the drug cartel had told Amara she could have anything she wanted (Dick was sure he meant the drugs, but drugs weren't really Amy's thing) and Amara had asked for the child rapist in his crew to be handed over to the police.

He was there in an hour with his face bloody and two limbs broken.

"But BlackNet…I probably couldn't get in; that was always her thing," Dick mused thoughtfully.

Wally cleared his throat uncomfortably. "Would it help if you had her laptop?"

Two pairs of blue eyes fixed on his green and Wally swallowed.

"What're you talking about?" Roy asked. "Amy took her laptop with her, didn't she?"

There was a flush rising up Wally's neck to his suffuse across his cheeks and Dick watched the color change with fascination.

"Well, um, she actually had two," Wally stumbled over his words and Dick's eyes widened his friend got up to open his closet door, reaching for the top shelf, something hidden in the darkness, but a moment later he pulled out a small, sleek, black laptop.

He handed it over to Dick immediately and he took it, opening it quickly. "She left it with me a few weeks before she disappeared."

"Why?" Roy asked, flummoxed.

Wally shrugged his shoulders. "She didn't say."

"And you didn't ask?" he demanded, and then Wally glared at him.

"She's my cousin, she doesn't need to tell me everything, she just needs to know that I've got her back."

Wally had known her the longest of the three of them; if there was anyone who had her complete trust, it was him.

"It's got a four-digit code," Dick mentioned, "It's not her birthday and I can't hack it."

Roy screwed up his face slightly as he thought hard. "Try 0824…Amy's sentimental, that's the day she became Oracle."

A moment later there was a sharp beep. "All right, I'm in…it looks like this is where she saved all her BlackNet stuff…the level of encryption on here is incredible…" His eyes roved over the documents before he drew up short. "Hang on, there's a video she streamed to this laptop a day after she disappeared."


Both red-heads found themselves quickly perched at their friend's shoulder as he clicked on the attachment.

The screen went fuzzy.

"Ugh, is this thing even working?" came a familiar voice, followed by a rough smack to the side of the screen, giving off the impression that she had hit the laptop, making the fuzz clear and revealing Amara with a thick blossoming bruise on the side of her face.

"I had to re-task a satellite in order to get this connection," Amara complained, running a few fingers through her short curls. "But I guess this is as good as I'm going to get…I'm streaming this only my laptop and by now I'm sure that you've realized he has it and you figured out how to get into it, Robin isn't that bad at hacking…"

Dick grumbled under his breath.

Amara breathed out sharply, rubbing at her eyes tiredly. "I wish I had a better explanation for you, but I don't. A few weeks back –or was it a month?– one of my contacts in the BlackNet told me they heard rumors about someone trying to find me…I knew it had to be my father, but I'll admit I wasn't too concerned about it." She sounded a bit annoyed with herself at that, jutting out her lower lip just slightly. "But my contact left me with a gun just in case…I didn't really think anything of it until that man showed up at the door with a package for me."

Her lips thinned into a line. "Those pictures set off all kinds of warning signs and I wasn't about to let any of you get hurt because Weather Wizard wants me…I tried to run up stairs and grab the gun, but he grabbed me and injected me with some subcutaneous micro-trackers." Amara raised a hand to her neck, rubbing at the injection spot, no doubt. "It was all kind of a blur, but somehow I managed to shoot him and get that transmission-jamming bracelet that Robin left me with…what you need to know is that I'm safe and I'm working hard to get him, I'm going to get him. Tell my folks I love them and miss them, all right?"

The image on the screen froze as she cut the feed.

The rain was drenching and pouring down on Jade and Amara as they sparred together. Jade's sais collided fiercely against Amara's metal pipes, but Amara wasn't willing to give against her.

Amara flipped over the assassin's shoulder, aiming a strike at her companion's shoulder, more surprised than anything else that the hit actually connected..but Jade recovered fairly swiftly, flipping back onto her feet and striking against Amara more furiously than before.

Iris was struggling to focus on her daughter's image on the large monitor in the Hall of Justice while Barry kept an arm wrapped securely around his wife's shoulders.

"…what you need to know is that I'm safe and I'm working hard to get him, I'm going to get him. Tell my folks I love them and miss them, all right?" Amara said into the camera, her voice static-y before the video cut off.

"You—" Barry cleared his throat when his voice cracked. "You can't track her down?"

"Robin tried but Amara only streamed the video to that laptop and she bounced the signal across a multitude of satellites," Batman explained. "Oracle was the best; we won't find her through that laptop."

"Do you think she's all right?" Iris pressed the Caped Crusader, thinking about her daughter's massive bruise and asking for his personal opinion in a voice that shook and for a moment he didn't say anything.

"I think Oracle is very good at what she does, Mrs. Allen," Batman said finally. "Robin's trying to navigate through the BlackNet to find any details about what Oracle's been up to…"

The BlackNet, it should be known, was incredibly difficult to navigate and Robin didn't know how Amara did it.

There were nine different circles based on the services you required (basically it was like the nine circles of hell from Dante's Inferno); Amara mostly dealt in the first circle.

He was tapping out a code when a chat popped up on his screen bearing the name Masq: Welcome to Limbo, Robin.

Dick narrowed his eyes suspiciously. Do you know me?

I know lots of things, Masq typed out. It's an upside to being so skilled in hacking. You're good but you're not that good.

Dick felt an eyebrow twitch in irritation. And just how much do you know about me?

Not much, just that you're looking for Oracle and she's not a fan of people trying to find her. Look at the last guy.

There was a certain dryness to the words but the words themselves were what caught his interest. How do you know about that?

Oracle isn't the only one that has resources, Masq responded. Most of us are a lot less honorable than her, but that's the way the business works.

And what's your business? Dick asked.

I'm a modest thief, obviously.

In my experience, thieves aren't modest, Dick countered.

Touché, Masq responded, but I believe it depends on the day…I have a taste for old artifacts ;) See you around, Robin.

And then the connection failed and Dick was left with a frown on his face. There was something familiar about the way Masq had written their words…it was impossible to tell if they were a man or a woman but if Dick was a betting sidekick, he'd go with woman. (That was probably Catwoman's influence)

He tried to follow Masq's electronic trail, but it only locked him into what he and Amy liked to call a 'black hole', turning his screen dark with the exception of the large masquerade mask that dominated the screen, golden with delicate designs.

Dick cursed himself for getting himself stuck in the black hole that was going to take him an hour, at least, to get out of it.

Jade had left sometime in the morning before Amara had come around and it was that day that Amara decided she was going to try her hand at the salmon ladder that was sitting in the remnants of the plane's broken hull, taunting her.

Amara grabbed the pole, lodging it on the highest rung she could reach on her own two feet before tightening her grip on it, swinging slightly forward and back a few times before managing to attempt to swing the pole up onto the next rung; Amara barely got it out of the rung it was locked in.

It was harder than it looked, Amara decided five minutes later, but she wasn't willing to quit, not yet.

She swung her body forward and then back before pulling the pole –at long last– up to the next rung on the ladder.

It was more exhausting than she'd thought; no wonder Oliver could do it so easily like those muscles of his.

She was on the sixth rung up from where she'd started when Jade returned, arching an eyebrow at her for good measure, but she didn't tell her to come down, which probably meant that she didn't really care that Amara was using the salmon ladder –which was great, because Amara didn't really care if she did.

"How do you feel about helping me on a job in Star City?" she asked as Amara took the pole up another rung, gritting her teeth in exertion.

"I don't kill people," she hissed between clenched teeth.

"Which is a huge handicap, if you ask me, but that's not what I was talking about," Jade snorted, leaning forward with glittering eyes. "How about you help me steal a priceless artifact?"

Amara released her grip on the pole to land on her feet, rubbing at her sore hands from gripping the pole so tightly.

"Sounds like fun," she said, grinning widely. "What will I be going as?"

Being Storm Chaser was completely out of the question.

"Yourself, I presume," Jade said, withdrawing something from her bag and holding it out to Amara. "I hear Masquerade is teaming up with Cheshire."

In her hands was a golden masquerade ball mask.

Chapter Text

There was an abundance of plant-life on Starfish Island. Amara remembered Oliver mentioning how he had to find out about which plants were poisonous and which weren't the hard way, but Amara had always had a way with plants and flowers (and she still had no idea why Barry had been so against her being involved with anything plant-related).

Jade was busy picking up some information on their planned heist later that week so Amara had the whole island to herself, for a time, at least.

The sun was shining brightly above her, dappling shadows through the branches of the trees as she picked her way through the wild grass to come out into a field clear of wild-flowers. The view was stunning, like most of the island (Amara had seen it from an aerial view and it made her want to bring a camera up with her the next time she was hovering that high up). There was something distinctly wild and untamed about it that resonated with Amara, but she was here for a reason, not just the view.

Amara's gaze focused on the plant-life, searching for something she could use during their heist…which basically meant she was searching for anything that could be ground into a fine powder and was capable of knocking someone out. Given the plants on the island, Amara didn't have a whole lot of choice in the matter, unless she wanted to fly to Fiji and try her luck here –seeing as it was the closest civilization to where they were– but that didn't seem like a very good idea. So Amara opted to deal with what she had on hand.

She knelt down in the earth, pulling her mortar and pestle out of her backpack to grind some of the flowers. Valerian root was said to have sedative-like effects, as did poppies and passion flowers…but apart from that, it didn't look like she'd find anything else of use in the field, so Amara got to work, pulling a few poppy clusters around her and beginning the grinding process, when she heard the sound of careful steps over grass and broken branches.

It wasn't Jade, that much she knew, Jade didn't waste her time in being silent and her steps were much lighter.

Then Amara heard the click of the hammer being pulled back on the gun (Jade had spent a day teaching her the parts of a gun and how to accurately fire one even though Amara still really didn't like them).

"Don't move," came the warning, low and dark and Amara froze carefully, suddenly grateful that she'd decided to wear her spelled earring from Zatara in an effort to get used to wearing it while she and Jade were on the job.

"Stand slowly and turn around," he ordered and Amara did as he said, standing slowly, raising her hands in surrender but knowing full well the position of her bo-staff in her bag, ready to be grabbed.

The man pointing the gun at her was very large with a thick, reddened burn across a good portion of his face. Anyone who hadn't had Amara's training might have found him a bit fearsome, but at this point she just looked mildly interested.

"Who're you?" he demanded.

Amara thickened her voice with a heavy Russian accent (Russian being the only foreign language that Amara knew and could replicate adequately). "Elisa Jäger," she said, using the name of the alias she was currently using, before diving to the side as the gun went off, grazing so close that it ripped a small hole in the side of her shirt.

She dropped to the ground, grabbing up her bo-staff in a single instant, giving a sharp flick of the wrist in order to extend the bo-staff to its full length.

"Not League of Assassins, yes?" Amara asked thickly, arching an eyebrow and smirking widely. "Assassins kill smarter."

He raised his gun a second time and Amara shot out her bo-staff, knocking the gun out of his grip, but that only gained her one advantage; her enemy now didn't have the ability to shoot her. Unfortunately, that didn't really even the odds stacked against her. If this was Jade's idea of a test, Amara was going to kill her when she got back.

She twirled the bo-staff, swiping it towards his midsection, a movement that he easily blocked, but Amara had been expecting that and she brought her staff up to block the strike far faster than she would have been able to before Jade had started training her with using pipes instead of batons.

Her opponent, unfortunately, seemed to be well versed in defense, which came as no surprise, given the size of his massive muscles. His arms could take every strike of her batons which, frankly, was a bit irritating, especially when Amara got a punch to the face, earning her a bruise and a split lip for her effort.

"I don't like it ven my enemies see me bleed," Amara remarked coolly, spitting into the grass before grinning as she dropped the batons. "This vill hurt."

Amara leapt forward, using his knee to vault upwards before twisting around, locking her arms around his neck and generating electricity through her hands. It was difficult to do it where it was hardly visible, but Amara had worked at it (Masquerade didn't have any atmo-kinetic abilities, obviously).

His body went rigid, shaking from the voltage before he collapsed on the ground, knocked out.

"Nicely done."

Amara glared. "Was this you?"

"No," Jade said, though there was a considering tone in her voice that said she clearly wasn't above it. "Probably a treasure hunter…we get them sometimes; they think pirates stored treasure on these uninhabited islands…fortunately the League never leaves anything of particular value here."

"Great," Amara drawled out, pulling herself upright. "Well you clean the mess up, I've got sedative powder to make."

She started walking away when Jade called after her: "The accent was a nice touch!"

"Fuck you, Jade!" Amara retorted without even pausing.

"Masq? What the heck kind of name is that?" Wally asked, slurping up his soda as they sat outside Big Belly Burger, perched in chairs that were just this side of uncomfortable, snagging a few of Roy's fries when he wasn't looking; Dick wasn't even eating his burger, instead tapping his fingers across Amara's laptop's keyboard.

"A username, obviously," Roy said, rolling his eyes. "I think we should be more concerned with whoever it was finding out that it was Robin who was using Oracle's laptop."

"Our electronic signatures are nearly identical," Dick had to concede, drawing back for a few moments to grab a bite of his burger and swallow thickly. "She did learn hacking from me…but our signatures are very different once you get deep into the code."

"What does hers look like?" Wally asked curiously.

"It looks like this." Dick turned the screen around so the other two could see the code on it. It was incredibly detailed and intricate with numbers and letters and symbols –too many to count– completing an image of an ivy leaf.

"Ivy…" Roy murmured furrowing his brow before chuckling. "Of course."

The younger sidekicks shared a confused glance.

"It was this thing she said after her parents decided to un-ground her back when she went AWOL for a week," Roy explained, "I asked her what kind of flowers she wanted on her grave after she ate some of Ollie's chili, and she said poison ivy so that she could cause me discomfort from beyond the grave."

Wally snorted and Dick laughed; it did seem like something that Amara would say.

"Anyways…who exactly is this Masq?"

"If they're a thief like they say they are, I haven't picked up any trail on the BlackNet," Dick had to concede. "Whoever they are, they're staying out of sight and out of mind and I still have no way to connect them to Amy…if they met on BlackNet, I can't find any proof."

And Dick had spent a lot of time on BlackNet since Wally had handed off the laptop to him in an effort to find out just where Amara had gone, but Dick hadn't found any trace of Amara on BlackNet since she'd gone missing.

"I can tell you who Amy was 'favor-friends' with, though," Dick added when both his friends deflated.

"Favor-friends?" Wally repeated dubiously.

"I mean like they did each other favors all the time," Dick said, clicking on a string of old data. "Amy did her a favor and she did one in return…Oracle and Cheshire working together, who would have known?"

Roy choked on his swallow of soda, flushing in his embarrassment. "She was working with Cheshire?" he demanded.

"Yeah," Dick said, faintly amused by Roy's response while Wally had to stick his hand in his mouth to keep from laughing too much. "She and Cheshire had a lot of correspondences over her time as Oracle, put until she vanished."

"She's friends with Cheshire?" Roy squawked in incomprehension.

"If they're not friends, then they're pretty close to it," Dick said with a frown before taking another bite of his burger, swallowing quickly to continue talking. "But the only thing they seem to talk about is business, things both of them need, that sort of thing."

"But that doesn't make any sense," Roy insisted. "Amy got nabbed by Cheshire back when she still needed her wheelchair. She kidnapped her and made her track down Sportsmaster for her! Why would she work with her after that?"

"Unless she wasn't kidnapped," Wally corrected, swiping a few fries from Roy with just a small amount of super-speed that made the red-haired archer throw him a glare. "Maybe she just said she was because she knew how it would look…it's easier to say that you were kidnapped and coerced by an assassin rather than saying that you're exchanging favors with an assassin."

It did look rather bad, Dick knew that much. He wondered just how Batman would react if he found out about Amara's extracurriculars on BlackNet.

The sedative effects of the flowers Amara had picked were rather potent, forcing Amara to wear a cloth over her mouth and nose to keep from breathing it in. (Amara may have accidentally knocked out Jade an hour ago, but she'd never admit it and neither would Jade).

She ground the passion flowers and poppies into powder before pulling the bag of powder she'd already ground up.

"I hope you're not going to be doing that all day," came Jade's annoyed voice outside the plane's broken hull, clearly choosing the safest option of remaining far away from Amara while worked on the flowers.

"Probably not," Amara said with a snort, "but it's not like you've got anywhere to be."

"Perhaps I should remind you that I am an accomplished assassin who can easily kill you with a pair of sais."

"Maybe…but I think my birth mother wouldn't be too pleased about it," Amara said slyly.

She had been trying for the better part of a month and a half to get Jade talking about her mother's identity, but so far she'd been unsuccessful and now was no different.

"Nice try."

Running errands for Oliver and Dinah wasn't something that Roy exactly liked to do, but as it was, his investigation into Amara's disappearance with Dick and Wally had gone cold, so right now it was the only thing capturing his interest.

Next week there was going to be a masquerade ball at Star City's famous Museum of Art and Antiquities and Oliver, Dinah, and Roy would be attending –Oliver being a rather prominent figure in Star City and Roy being his ward and Dinah being his girlfriend– since the Queen family had given some money to sponsor the event, the proceeds going towards a charitable cause. But the other reason they would be attending was because the Star City heroes were currently investigating the museum's director for fraud, among other things.

And if there was anything that Roy really hated, it was dressing up for black tie occasions; Oliver might be used to them by now, but he wasn't. And being surrounded by a sea of people in masks didn't exactly sit well with him, which was ironic since he spent most of his time with people who concealed their own identities, but it was different when it was people you didn't know and didn't trust.

He was shoving the tux –and Roy wasn't entirely sure that it counted as a tux with how…decorated it was– into his bag to better lock it behind his motorcycle when he accidentally jostled someone on the street. He opened his mouth to say something, but she beat him to it.

"My apologies," the girl said with a thick Russian accent that made Roy pause even as she turned away, allowing him to only catch a glimpse of the green that was her eyes.

Roy had memorized the exact shade of his partner's eyes, but he knew he was seeing things where there was nothing. Amara was a little shorter than the girl he'd knocked into and her hair grey –or black–, certainly not red, and she'd never looked like she'd spent some time on the beach (if anything, Amara had always seemed to be permanently, perpetually pale). And Amara definitely didn't sound like that; there had always been a throaty quality to her voice but it had never been thick.

He chanced a glance back to the girl, but the last glimpse he got was of a leather jacket and crimson hair whipped by the wind before she took a right off the main road. Roy frowned; there was something about that girl that was off…

Amara breathed a sigh of relief, leaning heavily against the alley's wall, trying to control her breathing. She had passed so close to Roy; she could have reached out, grabbed his hand, told him everything that happened, spilled her heart to her best friend. But Amara didn't do any of those things. Amara stuck to the plan and kept her accent and didn't even try to make eye contact with her partner.

She raked a hand through her hair before leveling her breathing and making her way out of the alley and walking calmly to the hotel she and Jade were staying at.

"You took your time," Jade commented, examining several blueprints on Amara's laptop ("That's mine," Amara said with annoyance one day when she'd awakened to find the assassin on it. "I know," Jade replied without a single care in the world.) while Amara pulled her jacket off with ease, tossing it onto a bad before making her way to where Jade was sitting.

"I had to double-back just to be sure I wasn't followed," Amara said, arching an eyebrow at Jade. "Your crippling paranoia is rubbing off on me, I think."

"All right, first of all, it is not crippling, and secondly, that paranoia could save your life one day."

Amara rolled her eyes. "Are you going to give me the run-down or am I just going to have to take the laptop?"

Jade turned in the chair, smiling slyly at the green-eyed now-thief. "All right, six months ago a precious artifact was stolen from England and later appeared on the black market before it wound up here in Star City. It's a necklace known as the Diamond Riviere that once belonged to Queen Mary. It's worth well over one million dollars."

Amara's eyes widened.

"Now, the monarchy never admitted to the theft and they can't just go and accuse the United States for stealing a precious artifact, especially with how the black market works," Jade explained. "However, they are willing to pay what the necklace is worth to have it returned without a scratch on it."

"They'd resort to illegal means to get it back?" Amara asked dubiously.

"You underestimate how much they want it back." Jade smirked. "And it looks like you'll be doing all the leg-work."

The meta-human's brow wrinkled in confusion. "What're you talking about?" she asked.

"I've got outstanding warrants on me," Jade pointed out, "and the museum's software is surprisingly sophisticated, but, luckily, Elisa Jäger has nothing against her and can pass through a camera's line of sight and not set off alarms."

"And what if the League's set up an alert on me?" Amara asked wryly.

"They haven't," Jade said, "I checked. Besides, before you leave, you'll look nothing like Amara Allen, so it won't even be an issue."

"Great," Amara drawled, that single word spoken heavy with sarcasm. "And just where is this highly expensive and stolen necklace that I'm supposed to steal?"

She had a feeling that she was going to regret taking this job on, just by the wide grin that the assassin threw in her direction.

Really, Amara didn't know what she was supposed to expect when Jade showed her Masquerade's outfit. There was the skintight black jumpsuit that could only not be considered odd at a masquerade ball event, and then there was the material thrown on top of it. It was red like blood giving off the appearance of high quality but Amara could feel its durable quality, sleeveless and falling down her legs, to the untrained eye it would seem like a lovely dress, but Amara couldn't work in a dress, in fact it ended in rather loose pant-legs.

But the heels Amara could have lived without.

So a week later Amara found herself standing in line with the other guests, her invitation in hand and her sedative powder hidden in the cloth bag around her wrist that anyone else would assume was holding her phone or other valuables inside. She got through the crowd without any trouble.

The problem arose when she caught sight of Roy, Oliver, and Dinah not too far away from her position. She swallowed thickly before turning away and Roy looked up, only catching a glance of a golden mask and a head of red hair as she vanished into the crowd; his eyes narrowed suspiciously.

Of course, Amara couldn't just search for the necklace, she needed to steal someone's security badge first…but that was proving to be a bit difficult, especially since the director of the museum was rather paranoid, reaching back to check that there was a badge still hooked to his elaborate jacket –clearly he'd been taking some cues from the French– which meant Amara was going to have to switch it with another badge to give her enough time to grab the necklace.

Amara brushed against one of the security guards with a muttered apology, sliding away with their badge hidden in the palm of her hand.

"I give you ten minutes before he notices that badge is gone," came Jade's voice in her ear.

"Just ten?" she murmured thickly.

"If you're lucky. Knowing you, you won't be."

Amara's red-painted lips smirked as she swept past the director, swiping his badge with the one she had just filched, and then she disappeared through the crowd before he could turn to see the person who had just jostled him, allowing Amara to duck past the main room's corner, taking her down a darkened hallway.

She blinked and the darkened lenses of her mask activated their night-vision, allowing Amara to see where she was going.

"You shouldn't run into any guards, they've already done their rounds and should be preoccupied with the party and the cameras are all running on a continuous loop, you should be in the clear…take your next left."

Amara's heels clicked loudly in the silence as she complied to Jade's command. In all honesty, she would much rather be wearing her trusty combat boots and her tough leather, but she had to make do with what she had. There were a lot of things she'd rather be doing than robbing a museum of a stolen artifact, yet here she was. Barry and Iris' faces flashed in her mind and regret flooded through her system before she ruthlessly squashed it.

She had a job to do, and she couldn't afford to let her feelings get in the way, especially not now.

"All right, take the stairs to your left all the way down to the bottom and the door should be the first thing you see when you get there."

Amara peered down the stairs and scowled and the number of them.

"You just luff to make life miserable," she said quietly, her accent as thick as the day she had first used it.

Jade's laughter was static in her ear.

So Amara pulled one of the golden bangles off her wrist to extend it to full length, locking it around the rail before throwing herself over the edge in what could have been considered a very dangerous move if Amara didn't have complete control over her weight distribution. Instead, Amara merely swung to the basement floor, landing lightly on her feet and smirking when she saw the simple security-badge lock on the door.

"They make this far too easy," she said, sliding the key into the door, unlocking it with ease, but when she saw what was inside, she gave a loud groan.

"What is it?"

"I owe you twenty dollars," Amara grumbled, "there are lasers."

And there were, a startling number of them, but that was to be expected, after all, the necklace was worth a great deal.

"This vill take time," Amara said thickly, stepping out of her heeled shoes, her eyes focusing on the lasers as they moved carefully around the pedestal in the center onto which the diamond necklace had been mounted.

It was going to take some serious acrobatics to maneuver around the lasers, but Amara was up to the challenge.

Roy never went anywhere without his collapsible bow, a habit that Oliver should have gotten into, but right now Roy was the only one with a weapon as he notched the arrow and pointed it at the girl who was carefully pulling straps to criss-cross over her front, holding two batons over her shoulders that were similar to the ones Roy had seen Amy use, and kept one gun in position on her left side.

"I thought I saw that mask somewhere," he said, making the girl turn to face him and she gave him a crimson smile.

"Did Robin like his little present?" she asked as lightly as she could manage.

"No…Masq, the thief who never stole a thing until now," Roy continued, "what changed your mind?"

"Masquerade needs a little excitement in her life. Besides, stealing something that vas already stolen doesn't really count."

And then she dipped her hand into her pouch and blew a cloud of powder at Roy, making him cough in an attempt to clear his mouth and nose, but the powder was easily absorbed and fast-acting, making his vision blur and the room sway; not enough to knock him out, but enough to knock him off his game.

Masquerade was fast, he'd give her that, but he'd seen faster. And Roy wasn't about to let her get away with what he was sure was a priceless item wrapped around her throat.

He took aim and fired.

An arrow was released and a bullet fired and then there was silence that deafened.

Chapter Text

Amara may have pitched a silent fit about the lasers, but, in all reality, it wasn't that big of a deal. Amara had been flexible before her accident, she'd been flexible after, and it was something that Jade had helped her adapt into her style of fighting.

Getting through the lasers wouldn't nearly be as difficult for her as it would have been for someone with more height on them, but as it was, Amara hadn't had much of a growth spurt yet (though she still had a good few inches on Dick, let that be known).

And luckily for Amara, these were stationary lasers, so that took a bit of a load off, lasers that moved around the object they were protecting where much more difficult to manage.

Amara considered her options of how to approach the situation at hand…there were at least three obvious ways for her to make her way towards the center.

"Clock is ticking," blared Jade's voice in her ear and Amara couldn't help but roll her eyes.

"Yes, I had no idea," she drawled out thickly before drawing her hands towards the hem of the loose material fluttering around her legs, tying the fabric against her legs so that it wouldn't trip any alarms before resting her hands over the first laser, balancing her weight carefully on her hands as she kept her chest from colliding with the next laser.

Amara breathed in and out slowly as she drew her legs over the laser above her by executing a perfect split and then bringing her legs around the front until her feet made contact with the floor over the laser and Amara's body followed suit, drawing herself straight and almost making contact with the laser in front of her nose.

A sharp breath of relief was released from her lips, ducking in order to avoid the laser.

Amara should have gotten some kind of award for her ability to contort her body and perform a series of acrobatic moves without hitting any of the lasers, really, it wasn't exactly the most easy thing to do.

And it seemed like an age had passed before she reached the center of the room.

"All right," she said, "I'm here. Are zere any sensors on ze necklace?"

"Deactivated," came Jade's amused tone in her ear. "It took you that long?"

"Vould you like to be stealing zis?" Amara hissed in annoyance, lifting the glass case, retrieve the item and leave one of her own in its place before replacing the glass once more and clipping the diamond necklace delicately around her neck before making her way slowly but surely back through the web of lasers until she could perform a few flips, landing lightly on her feet in the safe zone, slipping back into the heels she had forgone for the theft.

"If you can do that with the heels on, I'll be more impressed," Jade said with a laugh, and Amara ignored her in favor of using the stolen ID card to make her way out of the room. It was a good thing that her gloves left no trace of fingerprints, or she might be in a bit of trouble (though, the only people who had her fingerprints on file were the Justice League, and they weren't likely to look for her as a virtually unknown thief).

She shut the door behind her, locking it and tossing the ID card onto the ground before gripping the golden coil and hoisting her back up the way she had come, untying her pants' hem as she pulled herself over the rail before wrapping the golden bangle tight around her wrist and making her way out into the empty hallway.

"Exit strategy?" she murmured.

"Take your first left, there should be a ventilation shaft that leads right up to the roof. You're welcome for the grappler."

Amara rolled her eyes, pulling the ventilation cover off the wall only to stare at the bag that was hanging suspended on the cord. She pulled the bag off the cord, ripping it open only to sigh.

"Really, Cheshire?" she muttered before pulling the crisscrossing straps over her shoulders, where her batons settled with the unregistered gun Jade had given her resting at her left side.

She heard the footsteps first, and then the sound of an arrow being notched on a bow; it was a familiar sound for Amara, being the partner to an archer for several years.

"I thought I saw that mask somewhere," came an all too familiar voice and Amara grimaced briefly, gritting her teeth together before putting on a smile as she turned to face him.

He looked well, she supposed, given he was unknowingly pointing an arrow at his partner. His eyes were hidden behind a mask, but that wasn't anything new to Amara, besides, hers obscured half her face.

"Did Robin like his little present?" she asked as lightly as she could manage.

"No," Roy said, and her smile widened just slightly. "Masq, the thief who never stole a thing…until now. What changed your mind?"

Amara gave a small shrug, giving off the appearance that she was unconcerned about the whole predicament. "Masquerade needs a little excitement in her life. Besides, stealing somezing that vas already stolen doesn't really count."

It was a weak excuse, even she knew that, but Amara didn't really care about the excuse, she cared that Roy was blocking her escape route.

And desperate times called for desperate measures. So, she dipped her hand into the pouch swaying at her waist and blew a cloud of powder at Roy, making him cough in an attempt to clear his mouth and nose, but the powder was easily absorbed and fast-acting, making his vision blur and the room sway; not enough to knock him out, but enough to knock him off his game.

She watched the powder take effect rather quickly, seeing how his stance loosened and how his grip on the bow slackened.

Her smile faded completely. Roy was good and she was going to find herself doing something she regretted, she just knew it.

She drew the gun and fired as he released his arrow.

Roy yelled as the bullet ripped through his dominant arm and Amara had to grit her teeth together to keep from crying out as the arrow lodged in her midsection, spreading a fiery sensation across her skin.

She threw herself into the ventilation shaft, gasping as the movement jarred her as she swung precariously from the grappler before pulling herself up bit by bit.

But nothing could stop the feeling of regret spilling out inside her.

"Went pretty well, I guess."

Amara glared at Jade from where she was sitting on the hotel toilet with Jade examining the arrow through her side. "Oh, yes, because it's not every day that I find myself shot by my partner or have to shoot my partner. Yeah, I guess it went pretty well."

She gave a sharp intake of breath as Jade broke off the arrow's shaft behind her.

"Here, take some of this."

Amara examined the flask in her hand, eyeing it suspiciously. "Is this alcohol?"

Jade's grin widened so that it looked to be better suited than the one on the mask she wore. "You know it."

A red eyebrow was arched in her direction. "You know I'm twelve, right, Jade?"

"It's a great time to live a little, Storm, trust me," Jade snorted as Amara took a swig from the flask only to splutter and cough at the burn that went down her throat.

"God! What is this?" she demanded, her words a little croaky from the liquor.

"Vodka, obviously," Jade said, arching an eyebrow in amusement. "You're probably going to want to take another swig; this is going to hurt."

Amara looked down at the arrow's end sticking through her abdomen. "All right," she said, reaching for the flask once more. "Give it here."

She took a large gulp and swallowed thickly, but it hardly dulled the pain, and it seared when Jade poured some of it over her wounded area.

Amara bit down on his lip, a pained cry strangled by her mouth, and then Jade yanked the arrow out in a swift movement. Then she gave a muffled cry of pain.

"The worst part's over."

Amara laughed for one second before forcing herself to stop when the movement jarred her wound. "You say that like I've never been stitched up before."

No ordinary twelve year old would have scars like she did, but, then again, no ordinary twelve year old would spend their nights chasing villains across the street and doling out vigilante justice as they saw fit.

Amara missed those days more than anything, but not as much as she missed being able to see her mother and her father, to see her friends and her cousin.

"Want another drink?" Jade asked, taking her own gulp from the flask before offering it to Amara and the red-haired girl took it as the elder of the two pulled the suture kit towards her, ripping the packaging open with her teeth.

Amara took another drink as Jade threaded the needle before stabbing it into Amara's skin, making Amara wince as she slowly sewed the gaping hole into a stitched line before having her turn around so she could do the same to the hole in her back.

"The hotel room is paid for until the day after tomorrow," Jade said, clearing her throat and Amara chewed on the inside of her cheek.

"Got some assassinations to get to?" Amara asked, staring flatly at the wall in front of her nose.

"Something like that."

Amara gave a short nod. She had been expecting it, after all, Jade was the one who had had her pack up her things before they'd left and Amara wasn't so foolish to believe that this partnership would be long term.

"I guess this will be the last time I see you, then? For awhile?" Amara asked, swallowing thickly. She hadn't realized how much she was going to miss the assassin until it smacked her in the face.

She wondered if it was that way for Artemis, back when her Jade had first left her alone with only Sportsmaster.

"Maybe," Jade said evasively. "But you'll see me again; you and me make a good team."

"Oracle and Cheshire, Storm Chaser and Cheshire, or Masquerade and Cheshire?" Amara couldn't help asking; it was just so hard to keep all of her aliases straight these days.

"Depends on the day, I've found," responded Jade, faintly amused by her response as she tied the stitching off before pasting a bandage over the threaded-together skin. "Masquerade's a bit morefun, if you ask me."

Amara snorted and then winced. "You're only saying that because she's a thief, not being on anyone's side."

Amara was toeing the grey line between dark and light, but she'd put in that situation by the geneticists that had cooked her up as the child of a villain raised by a hero.

"Maybe," Jade said, helping her stand and move to the bed. "But Masquerade's taste in antiques and clothes is pretty sweet, you can't deny that."

"Obnoxious and red, that'll be my legacy," Amara muttered, closing her eyes and sinking deeper into the mattress.

Jade might've said something further, but the alcohol had dulled Amara's senses, allowing her to slip into an easy slumber, blissful of anything further.

"She shot you? I can't believe she shot you!"

Roy was scowling at his two friends. Wally was the one that was positively goggling at his fellow red-head, while Dick was examining the x-ray of his arm with interest.

"What's a thief doing with a gun, anyways?" Dick muttered, replacing the x-ray on the viewing screen to see the discoloration better.

"Exactly!" Roy said, jabbing a finger towards Dick, a movement that jarred his arm slightly, which made him hiss in pain. He'd barely been out of surgery for a few hours when the two sidekicks had popped up to keep him company. "There was something off about her…she had that mask that your BlackNet friend left you," he added to Dick and Dick's sunglasses slipped down his nose so his eyes could meet Roy's.

"What? Masq's? That was her?" he asked, flummoxed.

"I don't see how it could have been anyone else," Roy said with a single-shoulder shrug. "I guess Masq is short for Masquerade, 'cause that's what she was going as."

"What was she even there to steal?" Wally asked curiously, leaning his elbows on the end of Roy's bed, accidentally making the bed rise and Wally gave a sheepish grimace when Roy glared at him.

"One million dollars via the Diamond Riviere," Dick said, examining the paper that Oliver had left for Roy while he was at work.

Wally gave a low whistle before throwing an incredulous glance towards him. "One million dollars? That's some serious dough."

"That's not the worst of it," Roy snorted.

"You mean apart from her shooting you when she made her getaway?" Dick arched an eyebrow.

Roy cleared his throat, making a clear effort to ignore everything that left Dick's mouth, but the youngest of the three was amused to notice a flush of pink creeping up his neck. "The necklace, apparently, was already stolen."

"You mean the museum got a stolen artifact and they didn't know it?" Wally had crossed his arms, an amused twist to his lips. "Dude, that's gotta suck."

"I'm pretty sure they knew," Dick retorted, rolling his eyes for good measure. "That's what the Black Market is for."


The whole matter had made the front page of Star City's papers –all of them– and it documented the theft and the subsequent arrest of the director of the museum. Queen Mary's Diamond Riviere was a precious British artifact, and he got the feeling that the people that had hired Masquerade to steal the necklace back were the ones that had lost it in the first place.

"What did she look like?"

"Who?" Roy asked blankly, making Wally poke his good shoulder.

"You know, Masquerade," the speedster pressed, "the girl that got the drop on you."

Dick snorted as Roy gave Wally another glare before giving a mournful sigh. "She had red hair," he said finally, "she was short, I guess, she was Russian –her accent was really thick–, she used some kind of powder on me to slow me down…and she had batons like Amy, but she didn't use them." His eyes grew faintly distant at that. Amara always handed him on his ass when she used her batons against him.

Wally started. "She had batons?"

"Yeah," Roy said with a frown, "but it couldn't have been her."

"Why not?"

Roy narrowed his eyes at Dick. "My partner wouldn't have shot me."

"It was non-fatal and it'll heal in a few weeks," Dick pointed out, "she probably aimed at your dominant arm to put you out of commission for awhile."

"But Amy's not a thief," Wally said. "I'm with Roy; he's her best friend, there's no way she would've shot him."

Dick merely pursed his lips in thought, looking over the article, reading about what Masquerade had left behind, a golden masquerade mask with words on it: Better luck next time.

The sunlight awoke Amara the next day rather than Jade and Amara grimaced, trying not to roll around too much. She might heal fast, but she didn't heal that fast. But what she wouldn't give for Wally or Barry's healing factor.

Her eyes squinted tightly shut as she tried to will herself back to sleep, but it didn't work, so Amara merely settled for lying in the bed with her eyes closed, for as long as she could manage it. But then, after a very short amount of time, she peeled her eyes open and winced at the light before blinking her eyes a few times to get used to it.

The hotel room was empty, but Amara had been expecting that; Jade had told that she was leaving, so it didn't really come as any surprise to find that she'd left in the night.

She focused on the bright numbers on the electronic clock at her bedside which read: 10:37.

Amara nearly groaned. She couldn't remember a time since she'd left home when she'd slept so long, usually Jade had her up and training at the crack of dawn.

It took a bit of careful maneuvering in order for Amara to pull herself into a sitting position, but she managed it all the same, with a number of careful movements.

She expelled a sharp sigh and it echoed in the silence of the room before she turned her head towards the bedside table once more to frown at the items on the bedside table.

Her fingers plucked up the crisp envelope with a bit of interest, pulling out a check from within that bore the British royal family crest and was made out for five hundred thousand dollars. Given the pain Amara was currently in, she didn't much care about the obscene amount of money that Jade had left her with.

Instead she found herself focusing on a small pill bottle that what held what she was sure were pain pills, and Amara really needed some pain pills.

She popped the top off, shaking one off into her palm before dry swallowing it and lying back against the pillows, waiting for it to take effect.

(The ceiling was as boring as the wall)

Jade had left her the flask she had given her the night before and this time it was completely full and Amara couldn't help but sigh; Jade should not be providing a minor with alcohol. But the vodka wasn't so bad, strong, but not bad…but Amara didn't feel like becoming an alcoholic at the tender age of twelve.

Beside the flask were a set of keys with a card that had Jade's slanting script: Courtesy of the mysterious mother.

Amara's brow wrinkled in confusion.

You shot Speedy.

Dick had been a bit nonchalant about his friend's injuries when he and Wally had gone to see him (really, he should have been a bit more chalant), but he couldn't help but be annoyed –and angry– on his friend's behalf as he typed out harshly on Amara's laptop.

Masq responded quickly, clearly already being on the site: He got in my way.

There was a cold way in which those words were typed out, very matter of fact.

You didn't need to shoot him, Dick pointed out in irritation.

Anything less and he would've climbed up the ventilation shaft after me, Masq replied, now her words held a slight tone of amusement. I couldn't let him cut off my escape, a thief's got to prioritize.

What'd you do with the money? $1 mill is a lot of dough.

Only kept half, the thief responded, the partner got the other half.

Dick rolled his eyes. Still. $500K is a lot of money.

Maybe college, maybe I'll buy a cottage out in the middle of nowhere where I can go to hideout with the loot I don't want to give up ;)

Dick couldn't tell if she was flirting with him or not; Masq was a bit puzzling. A cottage?

Or maybe a condo…I'm changeable at the moment. See you around, Robin, I'm a girl with an insatiable appetite.

And then she logged off, leaving him to puzzle over her words.

The keys were to a motorcycle, Amara was pleased to note once she'd gotten around to making her way to the hotel parking lot.

Amara had never owned a motorcycle before. She'd driven Roy's before, of course, but she'd never owned one, probably because a twelve year old didn't have much of a need of a motorcycle.

And the motorcycle was beautiful and a dark blue with a pattern of a Chrysanthemum with branching lightning. It was perfect.

Who are you? came the question in Amara's mind, but there was no answer; even she didn't know.

Amara found herself making her way home almost subconsciously and the process was sped up by Amara riding aloft on the motorcycle on a cloud (not to be tried at home unless you actually had some skill in cloud-manipulation) and she couldn't quite bring herself to turn around.

She knew there were something wrong when she examined the stitches in a small bathroom stall at Big Belly Burger in Central City while the rain poured outside. The skin around the stitches was red and inflamed and Amara was sure that if she checked, she'd find that she had a fever.

Amara half-wanted to crawl home and ask for some help, she wanted to go back to Iris and Barry, but she couldn't. Her father could still have people watching them, and she wouldn't put them in danger because of her.

There had to be at least one person in Central City that she trusted but wasn't included in her friend or family circles…

Yet only one person came to mind, Pamela Quinley.

Amara bit her lip, but there was no denying that she trusted Pamela. Pamela was the one who had helped her when she had first started trying to walk again. Pamela listened patiently and she never judged, and it couldn't be denied that Amara needed help.

She pasted the bandage back over the stitches before making her way out of the fast food joint, pulling the helmet over her head and starting up the motorcycle's engine.

Pamela hummed softly to herself as she watered the many plants that her apartment held. She was planning to take a few days off to go over to Gotham City to surprise Harley, but she wasn't quite sure when that would be…maybe she'd do it next week in the middle of the week when her girlfriend would least expect it.

The soft hum that had left her lips stopped abruptly at a sudden knock at the door made her pause, setting her watering can down, making her way to the door, opening it slowly only to stare in surprise.

Outside stood Amara, leaning heavily against the door frame, cheeks flushed with something that Pamela was sure wasn't embarrassment, her hair red instead of her trademark black.

With the red hair she looked more like Pamela, but Pamela couldn't think about that.

"Amy?" she said, clearly startled by her daughter's appearance.

Amara's green eyes rolled back in her head as she fell forward, slumping against Pamela who caught her easily, lowering her to the ground carefully with a spike of fear.

What had happened to her little girl?

Chapter Text

"Amy? Amy, can you hear me?" Pamela gave a light slap to her daughter's flushed cheek, but the girl only stirred faintly, her eyelashes fluttering slightly at the call of her name, but she did not open her eyes, giving Pamela an unsettling feeling deep in her stomach.

She hooked one arm under the crook of Amara's knees, cradling her head in the other as she lifted her off the floor, carefully shutting the door behind her as she laid Amara gently down on her couch, pressing a palm to Amara's brow, feeling the heat scorching along her skin.

Pamela frowned, narrowing her eyes as she caught a glimpse of something white under where her shirt had ridden up slightly and Pamela tucked the shirt up in order to see the bandage that had been pasted to her skin.

Amara didn't so much as flinch as she peeled the bandage back in order to see what lay beneath. Pamela gritted her teeth together as she took in the sight of the stitches with the reddened skin from inflammation.

But the inflammation was manageable, and Pamela had some Aloe Vera on hand after she'd gotten burned a few weeks back (curse her fair complexion).

"Hang on, Amy, I've got something that might help," she murmured, pressing a kiss to her burning forehead.

That made Amara stir briefly. "Mom," she slurred the word, tilting her head more towards Pamela and Pamela's heart swelled. She knew, of course, that Amara probably thought it was Iris, but she couldn't stop herself from imagining what it would be like for Amara to call her 'Mom' and not 'Ella'.

"Yeah, baby, I'm here," she murmured, smoothing the girl's now-red hair away from her face. "I'm not going anywhere, I promise, I'm just going to get you something for your stitches, okay?"

Amara didn't give a response to that, leading Pamela to suspect that she was caught in the throes of sleep and her calling out for her mother had been more or less sleep-talking, but she appreciated it all the same.

"What have you gotten yourself into?" Pamela murmured, leaving her briefly in order to return to the bathroom to grab the jar of gel from the cabinet and grab some fresh bandages. The wounds hadn't looked like they'd been caused by a bullet, so what had it been? An arrow? Like that red-haired archer friend of hers? Pamela winced. She really hoped it wasn't him; she'd seen the boy and Amara together a lot and the idea of him shooting her daughter annoyed her –at the least, annoyance, at the most anger, but it was likely the boy didn't know who he was shooting at, so she'd give him the benefit of the doubt.

Pamela returned to the side of the couch, pulling the old bandage off carefully so as to see the wound more clearly. The inflammation must have been recent, but the wound appeared to be a few days old, but Pamela had a feeling that Amara had a hell of a healing a factor. She might not have the same level as Flash, but it was still pretty damn impressive.

"Well, at least you got something other than those pretty greens from me," Pamela murmured, a soft smile curling her lips as she squeezed out a little of the gel onto her fingers. "Now, this might sting a little but it should help with the inflammation."

It was likely that Amara couldn't hear a thing she was saying, but Pamela thought it was better to treat her like she could.

And then she smoothed it gently into Amara's skin, watching her face carefully as it pinched in pain and she flinched.

"Yeah, baby, I know," Pamela said, "it hurts, but it'll get better, I promise."

And it was likely that it was only stinging close to wound where the skin was still healing.

Pamela drew back after a few more moments in order to rip the first bandage out of its packaging and paste it onto her abdomen. "All right, now onto the one on your back." Because Pamela had felt the bandage when she'd lifted her daughter from the ground, and she wasn't about to only soothe the inflamed skin on her front.

But it was also a bit more difficult for Pamela to get to the wound on her back where the projectile –most likely an arrow at this point– had exited her body, and it involved Pamela moving Amara onto her side, trying to move her as little as possible, but there was only so much she could do in order to reach the stitches on her back.

Still, after a few minutes, Pamela had smoothed Aloe Vera over the stitches, replaced the bandages and returned her to her back.

"I'm going to get you a pillow, some blankets, and cool cloth for your forehead," Pamela said, half to Amara and half to herself. She moved to the closet, pulling out a blanket that she tucked securely around Amara as she slept on, oblivious of what was going on, even as Pamela lifted her head to place a soft pillow behind her.

Then she went into the kitchen wet a cloth in cold water before returning to the living room to place it on Amara's forehead and a moment after she'd done so, Amara expelled a small sigh, relaxing into the couch a bit more, her face relaxing as time went on.

And Pamela curled herself against the couch, propping her head on her arms before closing her eyes and allowing herself to fall asleep as well.

She didn't see how Amara's hand that was closest to her curled around her hand, as if unconsciously seeking her touch.

The sunlight warming across her face was the thing that awoke Amara the next morning as she slowly peeled her eyes open, wincing slightly at the brightness of it.

Her arm felt stiff, but her side at least wasn't bothering her quite so much as it had before. She blinked a few times, looking down to where her arm was only to blink in surprise.

The last thing she remembered from the previous night was stumbling her way up to Pamela's place before collapsing into her arms once she'd opened the door…and there sleeping beside her was the woman herself.

"Ella?" Amara murmured and the woman roused herself, pulling herself back from where she was slumped against the couch with an audible groan –that couldn't have been a good position to sleep in– blinking green eyes open that were so similar in shape and color to Amara's own, and when she saw that Amara was awake, she gave her a bright smile.

"Good, you're awake," she said, "I was a little worried when you were so out of it when you showed up last night."

A flush spread across Amara's cheeks that had nothing to do with her previous fever. "Sorry," she muttered. "I didn't know where else to go—"

"Don't worry about it, its fine," Pamela assured her with a smile, running a hand through her own red hair. "I just wasn't expecting you…your dad said you were doing an abroad trip for that online school of yours."

Amara looked to her sharply and Pamela smiled. "He didn't fool me. Want to tell me why I had to soothe some inflamed skin last night that looks like it could have come from anything from a bullet to an arrow?"

Amara winced.

"So it was an arrow," Pamela surmised.

Amara chewed on her lip aggressively for a few moments. "It's because of my father."

"Barry?" Pamela asked in confusion and it was so effortless that Amara didn't even catch on how she was faking.

"My biological father," Amara corrected, giving a sigh as she raised a hand to rub at her face. "His name is Mark Mardon, but I'm sure you've heard of Weather Wizard."

Pamela's eyebrows rose high on her forehead. "Your father is a villain?"

Amara's smile was grim and stiff, like the very idea of her father was something she hated to even think about. "Yeah, great family legacy. He had a thing about shocking me whenever I did something wrong, which was a lot."

A closed off expression warped Pamela's face for a few moments, like she was trying to come to grips with what Amara had said.

"Is he why you showed up here with a serious case of inflammation?" Pamela asked and Amara appreciated how she didn't say anything like how sorry she was that Amara had to go through, Amara really didn't care much for those.

"No, that was…I ran into Speedy and we had a difference of opinion…" Amara was trying to put it mildly, but she wasn't sure it was working entirely the way she wanted it to. Saying she'd had an unfortunate run-in worked better than saying her best friend shot her because he thought she was a thief –which she was– and oh, by the way, she was the former sidekick of Black Canary and currently was using the name Oracle.

There was toeing the line, and then there ignoring it entirely, and Amara knew the difference between the two.

"Weather Wizard hired someone to track me down," Amara explained (there was no getting around not telling her co-worker anything, especially since she'd helped look after her when she was so out of it). "I…I couldn't let my parents get involved, I didn't want him to hurt them."

"Amy," Pamela said with a sigh, "it's a parent's prerogative to look after their child, not the other way around."

But Amara didn't so much as blink. "My biological father is very dangerous man, I just…I don't want him to hurt them to get to me."

Pamela gave her a sad smile that she missed with her eyes focused downwards on the hands she had clenched into a fist over the blanket.

"I'm sure they'd like to know that you're safe," Pamela mentioned and Amara's eyes shot up to meet hers.

"You aren't going to tell them, are you?"

Pamela chewed on the inside of her cheek, contemplating the girl in front of her. "Not if you don't want me," she said finally, "but you should know that they miss you very much."

She had passed by Iris in the street a few days ago and the woman hadn't looked up from her phone, but there was a line of tension in her jaw and worried creases in her brow, like she was waiting for Amara to call but she never did.

Amara's face fell slightly. "I miss them too," she murmured, moving her hand to circle around the thick bracelet she wore to jam the transmitters on the microtrackers still filtering through her blood.

Pamela didn't comment on that as she pulled herself up into a standing position, dusting off anything that might have accumulated during the night. "Well," she said, "I'm going to take a quick shower and then make some breakfast…how do you feel about some bacon and eggs?"

"Its fine," Amara said, blinking at her a few times in confusion. "You don't have to keep helping me, you know."

"I know," Pamela assured her with a smile, "but I'm not really one to toss someone out –particularly one who's only twelve years old– when they're still healing from some inflammation…what did you do, pour alcohol on the wound?"

"Um, vodka," Amara admitted, embarrassment flooding her face before she could stop it.

"Not the best choice, if you ask me," Pamela said with a light smile as she pulled the bandage back in order to see where Jade had stitched Amara back together. "Alcohol sears the skin, it's probably the thing that made your inflammation so bad…next time use a proper disinfectant."

Amara bobbed her head. "I'll remember it next time."

And Pamela laughed.

There were a lot of flowers in Pamela's apartment, and Amara had only been there a few times before, and it hadn't quite dawned on her just how many plants Pamela had. She really liked bringing her work home with her.

The bathroom was positively floral, but the smell of the flowers wasn't as overpowering as she would have thought as she turned on the water in the shower before peeling her clothes off carefully, before examining the stitching in her side.

The redness had faded for the most part, but there was still some that could be seen close to the stitches, but that might have had more to do with the fact that it was so close to the stitches. It looked to be almost healed, so maybe in the next day she could take the stitches out.

Amara sighed, testing the water on her hand before stepping into the shower, letting the water flow over her, plastering her hair to her face and neck even as Amara ran her fingers through the loose locks.

The last shower had been a bit colder and Amara found she actually preferred when the water was warm, even if it tugged slightly at her stitches.

Amara lost track of how long she was in the shower, but she forced herself to get out eventually, pulling on the spare clothes that had been in her rucksack when she arrived in Central City.

When she left the bathroom to enter into the cramped kitchen, Pamela was humming brightly with her back to her, focusing on the eggs and the bacon that Amara could hear sizzling in the pan as she pulled out a chair against the counter to sit.

Pamela gave no hint that she had noticed that Amara had arrived, so Amara waited for her to turn around and see Amara, but she didn't, so Amara turned her attention towards the potted flower that was drooping on the counter, a red aster (a symbol of patience). Being someone who worked in a flower shop, Amara frowned, reaching out a hand to the flower, but before she could even touch it, the flower curled upright once more.

Amara leaned back, eyes wide, missing how Pamela's lips twisted upwards into a smile as she saw the reflection in the steel, and when she turned around with the eggs it was gone, and she blinked in surprise at the sight of the flower.

"Wow," she said, "you must have one hell of a green thumb."

Amara appeared vaguely startled, and then confused, even as Pamela set out plates and scraped some eggs and bacon out between the two of them.

She'd never had any skill in manipulating plant-life, at least, not that she could remember. Unless it was a latent skill…unless it was something she had inherited from her mother that was only now manifesting.

Amara was grateful that Pamela was willing to let her stay the night again, she'd assured the woman that she'd be out of her hair by the next day but Pamela had waved her off, assuring her that it wasn't a problem and she didn't mind.

And she might have liked her coworker, but there were some aspects of her life that she liked to keep to herself, which was why she waited well into the night before she opened her laptop to check a few things.

She'd already had saved files on every member of the Justice League and the villains they faced (call her a bit extensive in her efforts as Oracle, but that was the way Amara worked) with the files double-triple-quadruple encrypted so the only way you'd be able to get into them was if you had the exact password, and luckily, only Amara had that code.

Amara made her way through the listings of persons with Chloro-kinetic abilities. She wasn't all that surprised to discover that there weren't all that many skilled in it…and the one listed as the most powerful was Poison Ivy.

Her fingers shot across the keyboard, pulling up the image of the woman herself. The green of her skin was the first thing that Amara noticed, but there was something familiar in the shape and color of the eyes and the wild red hair, and the high cheekbones, as well as the curve of the jaw…but Amara couldn't quite place it.

Maybe she'd seen those features somewhere before…

Before she could contemplate further, a message had popped up on her BlackNet account from Cheshire: Find anyone to rob?

Not yet, Amara responded, my stitches got infected. I'm waiting until tomorrow at least before I take them out.

Tough luck, Jade replied, even though she was the one that had dumped vodka on the injury in the first place. Gotten a safe house yet?

No, Amara replied, blinking in surprise. The thought hadn't really occurred to her, but now that she thought about it, it wouldn't be a terrible idea…Oliver had several safe houses around the country (three of which were in Star City itself). Why?

Might want to consider getting yourself one, Jade mentioned lightly. I'd imagine flying back and forth from Fiji all the time could get a bit exhausting.

Not that you'd even know anything about that, Amara fired back. Besides, what's the point of getting a safe house if I'm not going to go back to it once I've sorted out the issue with WW?

Because then you'll at least have a place to go back to if you need time to yourself or a place to hide your stash of whatever you don't want to keep at your house…I'm sure Oracle's got enough money and enough favors to find some place to hole up in between heists…

I'm sure I don't know what you mean, Amara replied, though it was clear that she did.

Sure, you don't, Masq, sure you don't…

Amara rolled her eyes for good measure, signing off from the messaging system in order to peruse the BlackNet, searching for another job to occupy her time.

"You're sure it's all right that I leave the motorcycle with you?" Amara asked the next day at the bus-stop, waiting for the next bus to arrive. "It's just I don't think it will be all that helpful where I'm going."

She was going to get off at the first stop, once she was out of sight from Pamela, but she thought she might as well make it look like she was doing something other than flying right up into the sky, hidden by the clouds as she made her way east.

"Oh, it'll be fine," Pamela assured her, giving her one last hug. "But you are going to be safe, aren't you? Wherever you're going, that is."

"As safe as I can get," Amara admitted, even though she'd long since given up on safety; safety was a thing of the past. "I'll be back before you know it, cutting stems and making bouquets with you at the shop, just you wait."

"I'm looking forward to it," Pamela laughed. "It gets so boring when it's just Sandra and I, you make things exciting."

Amara smiled, but she wasn't sure that exciting was the correct choice of words to describe herself. But she'd give anything to be back at Bouquet Boutique, de-thorning roses, she'd give anything to sleep in her room at night, and she'd give anything to be back in her parents' arms…but Amara couldn't really get what she wanted, at least, not right now.

"You look after yourself, all right?" Pamela asked as the bus rolled into the station, slowing in front of them and the few others that would be boarding.

"I promise," Amara said, before hiking her bag high on her shoulder and mounting the steps into the bus.

Pamela waved from outside the bus and Amara waved back until it pulled out of the station, leaving her behind, watching her daughter slip through her grasp once more, but Pamela couldn't be annoyed about it. Amara had a complex about keeping others safe, even if it meant staying far away from the people she loved.

And Pamela had seen the gears turning in her mind when she had mentioned the possibility that Amara might have a green thumb…

So Pamela headed back off to work with a noticeable skip in her step.

Amara dropped out of the sky to land in Sea Isle City, NJ, a few cities away from Gotham, which was more than enough space, thank you very much.

Owning a house was a bit difficult in some areas, especially since in most places you needed to be eighteen years old, and Amara's measly twelve just didn't cut it.

Fortunately, emancipated individuals could purchase homes from their current owners, if they could prove they were emancipated and that the current owner freely gave their signature, at least, they could in the state of New Jersey. It was a fairly new law but Amara was determined to use it to her full advantage, because Amara Allen might not be emancipated, but Elisa Jäger was.

It just so happened that Amara had helped a woman out of an abusive marriage with a man who was interested in both taking her money and beating her and her young daughter before she had turned to Oracle for help.

Oracle had managed to get them a safe place to stay while providing proof of the systematic abuse to the police, allowing them to arrest the husband. Unfortunately –or fortunately, depending on your viewpoint– the husband was killed in prison, thus leaving the wife with an impressive pay-out that went right into the charity of her daughter's choice. She had paid Oracle handsomely and still promised her that if she needed anything, she only needed to ask.

It was a bit much, but Oracle knew the family possessed a few real estates and wanted to know if the ex-wife knew anything about a good safe house location (the woman may not have known Amara's true identity but she wasn't foolish enough to not know that Oracle might need a place to hide out once in awhile), and the woman had offered her a beach house she owned with her ex-husband.

"A beach house might be a bit much, Melanie," Amara had said into the phone, her voice artfully garbled.

"Nonsense," Melanie Archer had countered swiftly, "I was planning on selling it anyways, now at least I won't have to. I'll scan you the documents, just sign them, send them back and I'll have the deed waiting for you when you get here."

So Amara had given up and accepted her gracious gift, which had led her to look over a map of the city by flashlight as she made her way down the path along the beach to where the house was located.

Amara's flashlight bounced off it and she had to stare a little. "Whoa."

It wasn't big but it certainly wasn't small, so there was that. It had two floors –with the second being significantly smaller than the first– and was piled on pillars with a staircase leading up to the porch and thus the door.

"Melanie, you are completely insane giving me this for hardly anything at all," Amara muttered to herself, stooping to grasp the key where it was hidden before making her way up the staircase to the front door to grab the deed, where Melanie had tucked it under the floor mat with a post-it that read: Enjoy the house!

Amara shook her head in exasperation, but she took the key and took the deed and opened the house, collapsing onto the first couch she saw, sound asleep in moments. She'd deal with Melanie's outrageous gifts another time.

Chapter Text

Dick Grayson was eighty-five percent certain that Masquerade was actually Storm Chaser, now all he had to do was prove the other fifteen percent. Of course, that was going to be hard because she wasn't exactly known for being seen on camera, but her heists were growing steadily as time wore on.

She wasn't a major thief, though, that was probably the thing that got him thinking the most that she was Amara, because if there was one thing he knew about Catwoman, it was that she had expensive taste. The biggest thing she'd stolen had to be the necklace she'd made away with right under Speedy's nose, but apart from that, her thefts were rather small.

Dick was following her as much as he could in the BlackNet but it was difficult work; she was very wily and every time he seemed to get close to finding out anything she didn't want him to know, she slipped right through his fingers like a slippery eel.

Only Oracle was that good, so his suspicions had grown steadily over the course of the past few weeks, probably starting when Masquerade had first contacted him on the BlackNet. There were some days where she dropped completely off the grid and they were almost always followed by reports of thefts.

It was like Masquerade couldn't resist being good and it showed in the kind of heists she pulled off. She only stole things that others wanted stolen for good reasons.

There was a painting that was worth a fortune and that the true owners had petitioned the current owner to relinquish only to be warded off with potential charges brought against them. Masquerade had stolen it in the dead of night with proof that it had been stolen and bought illegally on the black market. Then there was a little girl living in an abusive environment so Masquerade had stolen her too, leaving only a mask and a note behind.

But if it was Amara, then Dick had to wonder what was the point of being a thief when she'd been a sidekick once…or was it that she didn't think her biological father would think to consider her rebellious daughter with her hero-like leanings as a thief?

And why was she hiding in the first place? It wasn't like she hadn't faced Weather Wizard before…in fact, if he remembered correctly, she had run after him when she was eight trying to get him locked up…but what was stopping her now?

"Thank you."

James Corbin had been repeating those two words fervently for the better part of an hour and Masquerade was very close to sighing as she kept an arm on the boy so he didn't walk out into the street in his delirium.

"James," Masquerade said, her thick voice very put upon, "you do not need to keep zanking us."

"I don't know, I like it when people thank me," purred her companion.

Masquerade rolled her eyes, though it couldn't really be seen with her eyes hidden behind the masquerade mask secured to her face.

Catwoman wasn't quite what she'd expected. The woman was a master thief, that much she had known before and Masquerade had always liked her. She had a way of moving that was a fluid and grace, it was something she'd admired when she'd been shunted around with her father, her growing limbs making her movements clumsy.

Catwoman wore all black –similar to how Storm Chaser had once dressed– and the material was so tight that to see how her muscles tensed with every move was a simple task. The green eyes behind her own goggles were green and distinctly cat like.

"I had it sorted," Masquerade said with a bit of annoyance. Cheshire had left her to her own devices some time ago and Masquerade had functioned very well on her own thank you very much, and she had been succeeding well in removing a witness to a crime from some gangsters trying to do him in before the trial he would be testifying in.

"Clearly," Catwoman smirked. "And where were you planning to hide him?"

Masquerade glared and Catwoman laughed, even though she couldn't see Masquerade's eyes, because her red-painted lips turned downwards.

"My plans fell zrough," Masquerade said finally as they rounded an abandoned street with illuminating signs over all the doors lining the streets except one that had a plaque with no name on it.

"Lucky for you that I came along, then," Catwoman responded easily as the three came to a stop in front of the door.

Masquerade eyed the door dubiously and James Corbin blinked blearily, exhaustion nearly bringing him to his knees.

"He'll be safe here," Catwoman assured her, seeing her unease. "This is a half-way house that I set up a few years ago. The patron is an old friend, she'll make sure he's well looked after."

Masquerade pursed her lips, but Catwoman appeared to be sincere and she knew that Robin had mentioned a few times about how Catwoman had a soft spot.

"Look after yourself, James," Masquerade said, turning away from her to look to the boy. He was taller than her even in her heels and gangly.

The boy bobbed his head in agreement, wrapping a hand around the doorknob before Catwoman mentioned. "Tell her Selina sent you and she'll set you up."

He gave another grateful nod before disappearing inside, leaving Catwoman to scrutinize Masquerade.

"What?" Masquerade demanded in irritation.

"You smell like flowers," Catwoman mentioned in amusement, tilting her head in a vaguely cat-like manner. "It must be the pheromones."

"Excuse me?" Masquerade slipped and almost completely lost her accent and Catwoman noticed, if the reappearance of her smirk was any indication.

"Pheromones…I know a friend with a certain skill for using them to get what she wants…but yours aren't quite so powerful. I guess you can make people like you and trust you…but sometimes it has an extreme reaction, makes people hate you."

Masquerade's eyes widened in surprise. It wasn't something she typically noticed. It wasn't like she spent all that much time around anyone who wasn't her family or in the Justice League. She remembered there'd been a boy in the flower shop getting some flowers for his mother and he'd been a bit overly nice and it was only when he'd gone that Pamela had laughed and said he was flirting with her. And then there'd been the time she first met Thomas, the son of a man who worked with her father, and he always treated her with glowers and sneers.

She took a step back, her heel clicking on the concrete. "I should head back; I have zings zat need to be done."

"It makes me wonder if you've got her green eyes," Catwoman added.

"Vat're you talking about?" Masquerade demanded, turning around to face her only to find her gone and she was speaking to the air. "And I thought zat vas just a Batman thing."

She shook her head with a small chuckle, the puzzle of the woman's words in the back of her mind as she walked away.

Amara had a United States map taped to her safe house room with various tacks and thread and blurry pictures pasted against it.

To anyone else, it would have seemed a bit like a bundle of confusion, but to Amara it made perfect sense. The tacks represented locations where Mark Mardon (aka Weather Wizard) had been sighted with thread leading from one tack to the next in chronological order, from the first time he showed up to the most recent with any pictures of him that she could catch on camera, but there weren't very many, her father was nothing if not clever.

"Where're you hiding?" she murmured to herself, twisting her sharpie between her fingers as her eyes roved over the information on the wall.

She'd been keeping a steady eye on her family friends, particularly the ones that Amara had received surveillance images of, but there had been no attack against them, and if he really wanted to get her attention, he would have attacked her friends or at least the city she patrolled in, Star City.

But there had been nothing. It was like the images had been sent just to scare her into disappearing…like he was trying to punish her for finding her own family outside of him.

He had never liked it when she was outside of his control.

But Amara had always been a storm personified in human form, unable to be contained and unyielding to those that tried. And she was growing tired of his games.

She wanted to go home, she wanted to be with her mother and father again, her real mother and father, because as far as she was concerned, Mark Mardon had lost the right to call her his child when he used her as his personal lightning rod. Being on her own had been fine for the first few weeks, but it had been almost two months now and Amara was homesick, terribly.

She missed Barry's corny jokes about his speed, she missed Iris singing and dancing to the radio while she cooked dinner, she missed Roy's dry snark, she missed speaking science with Wally –getting blatantly more technical so as to annoy those they were with– and staying up late watching movies with him, she missed Dick and his un-words, she missed racing across rooftops with Dinah and Oliver.

She missed everything that made her Amara Allen.

Amara sighed, leaning back and away from the map, shaking her head and raking a hand through her hair, tugging roughly at the strands, but it changed nothing, she still had no idea where Weather Wizard was or where he was.

One problem at a time.

Amara muttered a few complaints under her breath before making her way out of the room on the small second floor, taking the stairs down to the first floor and entering the kitchen.

The canteen of vodka Jade had left her was locked in a cupboard because Amara didn't really like how alcohol affected brain chemistry, and she was actually going to need it if she wanted to be a doctor. Tea was more of Amara's thing, or, as Wally and Barry liked to call it, leaf juice.

"There's just not enough taste!" Wally had bemoaned once, after drinking some only to gag, while Amara laughed.

Amara dipped the tea bag up and down in the hot water, her eyes absent, not really focusing on what she was doing as she kept her eyes on the other mass of paper she'd pasted to the living room wall.

Unlike the one upstairs, this one was not dedicated to her father, he only occupied half of the information, the other half was dedicated to her unknown mother, hence why she had a large question mark drawn on a piece of paper.

Under it were disjointed thoughts:

-Chloro-kenetic (Powerful?)

-Pheromones (smell like flowers, less powerful?)

-Green eyes

-Villain? Neutral? (Not hero)

-Knows who I am but won't reveal her identity (Fear? Rejection?)

-Ivy bracelet gift

-Is it Poison Ivy?

Three question marks were a bit excessive, but Amara felt it was proper given how she felt about the whole matter with her birth mother. There weren't all that many that were in the Justice League's database that had a certain power over making plants grow and Poison Ivy was at the top of the list.

But Amara's brain vainly held to the belief that if Poison Ivy was her mother, Barry would have told her, he wouldn't hide something like that from her, not if he knew the truth about who her mother was.

The Phalaenopsis Orchid on the counter bloomed brighter.

Chasing thieves across rooftops wasn't exactly in Robin's job description, but Batman was away on League business, which meant Robin was the one holding down the fort, and it didn't help that the thief in particular he was chasing down was Masquerade.

How the hell was she running faster than him in heels?

Robin shot out his grappler, snagging her around the midsection and jerking her back before she could make the leap to the next rooftop. Fortunately, he managed to stop her just in time. Unfortunately, the momentum was on Masquerade's side, bringing her back to crash back against him.

Robin grunted and Masquerade groaned, finding herself pinning his body to the roof. If she really was Amara, she was going to hold this over him forever.

But Masquerade pulled herself upright quickly, the thick emerald on its silver chain around her neck bouncing from the movement, no matter how fluid it was.

She reached back to bring the batons strapped to her back to her hands, twirling them up in the air and catching them again without so much as a blink. Amara couldn't have done it…unless she'd been practicing hard at it.

"Little birds without wings should stay out of matters zat don't concern zem," Masquerade said throatily and Robin extended his own eskrima sticks to match hers.

"Well, I've never been one to play by the rules." He grinned widely and Masquerade smirked before bringing her batons forward to clash furiously against his.

She was good, scary good, like she'd dedicated a lot of time and effort into mastering the use of batons in a fight. She was better than Amara had been, and Amara had been a little out of practice at the time she'd disappeared, given how she'd been more focused on regaining the use of her legs.

Masquerade crouched, sweeping a leg out under him in an effort to unsteady him on his feet, but Robin merely leapt over the leg, performing a twirl in the air only to land lightly on his feet.

"Did ze Bat teach you zat?" Masquerade asked and Robin was sure that her eyes were glittering and green behind that golden mask of hers. "Or ze circus?"

Now that was enough to unsteady him, because only his closest friends knew about the circus –Haly's Circus–, the circus he'd been raised in, the circus where his family had died.

Amara would have known.

His grip on the sticks slackened just briefly and it was shameful how quickly she managed to disarm him (Batman was definitely going to have his head for that).

She held the baton to his throat, which would have been more impressive if it was sharp rather than smooth, but it wasn't the thing that was capturing his interest.

Masquerade smelled floral and the scent was flowing into his nostrils and making his brain fuzzy and his knees weak.

"Goodbye, Robin," she said, and it was only after she'd gone that he realized that she hadn't been speaking in a Russian accent.

Amy, what're you thinking?

Roy's arm was almost completely healed, but not quite, which was better than saying he was benched, so he was going to stick with it, it was better than listening to Wally howl with laughter.

But it still meant that he wasn't allowed to go out as Speedy until the doctor gave the go ahead to take off the sling and begin using his arm fully, but until then, using his bow was a no-go.

And Roy felt so naked without his bow. It was easier for Dinah or even Amara, they were meta-humans, their powers were inside them, Roy and Oliver just used their arrows to get the job done.

Roy glanced up at the sky, wincing in the sunlight even with the sunglasses he was wearing over his eyes that did little to dull the effect.

The good weather was a bit ironic, given the reason that the Star City Heroes were on high alert, and it was all Cupid's fault. Roy couldn't really say that he was surprised that she'd managed to break out of Iron Heights, it wasn't very well known for its ability to keep its prisoners within its walls, not like Belle Reve (but that hadn't stopped Amara's biological father from breaking out without much difficulty).

Rather soon after her escape a letter had been sent to the SCPD –on pink stationary with blood red lettering on the words, and if that didn't scream Cupid, Roy didn't know what did– warning of a bomb that had been placed in a highly populated area that they would be detonating sometime in the next two days.

Of course, the SCPD took that seriously, since the last bomb threat that they hadn't had resulted in the death of five civilians, and they weren't looking forward to adding more to that number.

But finding the location of a bomb was harder than it looked and Roy was sure his adoptive father and Dinah were feeling fairly useless as they scoured the nearby area for any trace of the bomb.

So Roy narrowed his eyes, watching the people pass him on the populated street with no idea of the possibility of a bombing that could be occurring soon.

His eyes caught a flash of red and he turned to catch sight of a girl with crimson curls walking past, a leather jacket over her shoulders.

It made him think about Masquerade and it made him bitter, flexing the fingers of his arm still stuck in a sling from her attack against him.

The girl paused, looking at her phone before yelling: "BOMB!" And vaulting away from where she was standing to crack her shoulder painfully against Roy's and a moment later the air exploded.

The next thing that Roy remembered was being dragged to safety, to the nearest alley by thin arms that belied their strength. And then he saw a blaze of green and he couldn't stop of the nickname parting his lips: "Storm Warning."

The girl knelt and his eyes swam but it was definitely her, Amara Allen, Storm Chaser, Oracle, or whatever the hell she was going by now. It was really her. Those green eyes couldn't have been faked, even if he'd grown so used to seeing them paired with grey or black hair.

She smiled blindingly. "I'm still saving your life, Arrowhead, I guess we've both got problems."

Her cheeks weren't as round as he remembered, as though the last of her baby fat had left her in the time since she'd disappeared off the face of the planet.

"If my head wouldn't spin, I'd punch you in the face," Roy decided, and that made Amara laugh, bright and clear.

"I look forward to it," she said, her fingers probing his head for injuries and he winced as she made contact with the base of his skull. "Tenderness there, I don't know if you've got a concussion or not, but you should be fine to walk."

"Walk?" Roy asked blankly.

Amara was glancing away from him with a frown on her lips, clearly not listening to him in favor of listening hard or thinking, at this point Roy couldn't be sure which one it was.

"Ollie's got an equipment cache close to here, right?" Amara asked, even though she didn't really need to; she could map out where Oliver and Roy's equipment caches in her sleep.

"Yeah," Roy said needlessly, rubbing at his head with a wince. His ears were still ringing, but now he was starting to hear the sound of dulled screams. "Is anyone dead?"

"Not sure," Amara said, a muscle jumping in her jaw. "Come on, I need to get you out of here so I can get a better look at you."

The adrenaline was starting wear off as Roy looked down at himself. There were bits of shrapnel embedded in his skin, in his shoulder, in his abdomen, in his arm that he was sure had come from the metallic awning from the shop across the street.

"You might be right," he decided, grimacing in pain before taking the hand Amara extended to him in order to pull himself upright.

"This might be a little jolting," Amara said, and, before he could say anything, she had carefully wrapped her arms around his midsection before condensing the air around them and shooting up into the sky.

Roy had forgotten how much he hated flying via a hyperactive adrenaline junkie atmo-kinetic meta-human.

"I could give you something for the pain," Amara mentioned, pulling a piece of shrapnel from his thigh that Roy had previously missed in his cursory look-over.

He hissed through his teeth as it was removed. "My anger's dulling the pain."

Amara pulled back to offer him one of Oliver's liquor bottles that he had stored in the cache, not as strong as the vodka that Jade had given her, but it would have to do. "This'll dull it better."

He took it from her and choked on his swallow of alcohol as Amara ripped a rather large piece out of his shoulder. "Sorry," Amara apologized, pressing gauze down on the wound, "I figured I should take it out in one go."

"I hate you," Roy grated.

"You love me," Amara snorted, curling her fingers around his hand as she smiled.

Roy thought he'd seen that same smile somewhere else, in a Justice League file, but he couldn't place it.

"What're you doing here, Amy?" he asked her. "Why'd you come back? Weather Wizard hasn't been caught yet."

Amara's smile stiffened and she glanced to the cameras that showed anyone entering the equipment cache, but Oliver and Dinah were probably still helping sort out what happened in the explosion.

"I'm running out of time," she said with a sigh, holding up her arm so he could see it, so he could see the simple black bracelet tight about her wrist, bearing the Wayne Tech logo and with a thick crack forming on it. "This is the only thing that blocks him from being able to track me down and its breaking."

"I'll get you a new one."

Amara's eyes softened. "Don't bother, I can't keep running from him, I don't want him to have that kind of power over me." She chewed on the inside of her cheek, frowning slightly as she looked away, her whole body tensing.

"But he scares you." Roy had always known it, he had seen it in her eyes whenever her biological father had been brought up.

Amara's shoulders sagged. "You wouldn't understand, you've never been raised in an environment like that. He nearly killed me…I should be running in the opposite direction, maybe I'm just too stubborn not to."

"Or maybe it's because you're strong enough," Roy countered, squeezing the fingers of the hand still holding tightly to his, like a life line.

"You think too much of me."

"You don't think enough."

Amara's lips twisted into a smile. "Thank you," she said and the words meant more with the amount of feeling they were said with.

And then she was gone, leaving Roy with bandages covering his body and a feeling like he'd tried to catch smoke with his bare hands and failed.

Chapter Text

The shrapnel was starting to sting when Amara left Oliver's bunker, almost running into Green Arrow himself and Black Canary on her way out, and it was only through employing some very swift maneuvers that she managed to make her getaway unseen.

But was she really trying to run away from her mentor and GA?

Amara passed under a lamppost as the sun began to set slowly in the sky, her jacket shielding her injuries from sight, which was a good thing, because Amara didn't really want to have to explain why someone would be walking around with shrapnel in them so far from where the bombing had been.

She took another right, practically feeling the last of her adrenaline wearing off and the pain of her injuries taking its place.

Why hadn't she just dropped Roy off at the equipment cache and left? But Amara would never have done that, it wasn't in her nature to leave Roy behind without making sure he was safe (and the irony wasn't lost on her being the one who had disappeared without a trace and subsequently shot her own partner).

Amara punched the correct code to enter a small apartment complex, making her way inside, taking the stairs rather than the elevator, and action she later regretted with just how many stairs she found herself climbing in order to avoid being seen by others in the elevator. It was exhausting and the apartment complex wasn't exactly in the best working condition, but that was probably why Roy had chosen it to house his own equipment cache.

She tapped the second code into the door, entering and hastily shutting the door behind her, a move that jarred her injuries and made her grit her teeth as she stumbled towards the metal table and chair against the wall where the medical supplies were located. It was a good thing that Roy had a tendency to over-prepare.

Amara shrugged the jacket off with difficulty, looking down at herself to assess her injuries. It was safe to say that between her and Roy, she had taken the brunt of the blast and it was probably going to be easier to dress the wounds if she took the shirt off completed rather than just holding it up.

The wounds burned as she pulled off the loose shirt in order to see the extent of her injuries more fully. The largest piece was embedded in her abdomen by a good inch, everything else appeared to be rather small in comparison, but the bruises had been given enough time to form in the time it had taken her to get Roy to Oliver's equipment cache and dress his wounds.

Bombs…Amara was going to give Cupid a serious shock when she saw her again, –if she ever did see her again– she was going to deliver a sharp shock to her central nervous system. If Amara had to deal with another bomb anytime soon, it would be too soon.

She grabbed up the medical tweezers and wrenched out the first piece of shrapnel, biting down harshly on her lip to keep from crying out.

Roy's message had been very cryptic, so Wally had been almost completely certain that it had to do with Amara (when didn't it? Roy was going half out of his mind looking for his partner) so he had taken a Zeta-tube to Star City, arriving rather soon after Dick who had his shades over his eyes and there was a distinct frown on his lips.

"What's wrong?" Wally couldn't help but ask as they rounded the sidewalk together to come to the apartment complex address that Roy had left them with, but before Dick could respond, they'd caught sight of Roy leaning against the elevator's side, clearly waiting for them to show up and both of the younger sidekicks had to stop and stare.

Roy was still wearing his arm in a sling, though he was due to get it off rather soon, but it didn't account for the new bruising and the way he was careful about moving too much.

"Dude! What happened?" Wally demanded as they all made their way into the elevator.

"You look terrible," Dick added, eyebrows raising over his shades. And he did.

"Painkillers would be nice," Roy grunted in agreement, "but too busy for that."

"Too busy?" Wally repeated flummoxed. "What're you talking about?"

"There was a bomb on South Street," Roy informed them both, "Amy knocked me down about the time it went off and then dragged me off to one of Ollie's equipment caches."

"You saw her?!"

Dick wasn't sure he'd ever heard Wally's voice go quite so high, but an eagerness had lit those green eyes of his and it dawned on Dick that this was the first time he'd had a legitimate lead on his cousin's whereabouts since her abrupt disappearance.

"She's Masquerade," Dick added, "it's not like he didn't have a run-in with her before."

Roy scowled. "There's no way that was her! She shot me!"

"It was definitely her," Dick snorted, "I ran into her literally yesterday, she dropped the accent for a second."

"Tell me she kicked your butt."

Dick gave his best friend a glower that nearly had him cackling and Roy rolled his eyes. "I managed to put a tracker on her when she wasn't looking, but I don't think she really cared about that."

"Why not?" Dick asked, his brow furrowed as the elevator dinged and they stepped off to make their way down the hallway before punching the code into the door and swinging it open, allowing three pairs of eyes to stare at what lay within.

"Admit it," Amara said, holding medical tweezers in one hand, the end of which was clutched a bloody piece of metal, "this is not the worst position you've caught me in."

Wally immediately slammed his hand over his eyes and Dick coughed uncomfortably. "God, Amy! Why aren't you wearing a shirt?!" To his credit, Roy didn't seem all that surprised; he had sewed up some of Andy's wounds before just like she had for him. ("It'll be good practice," Dinah had assured them both.)

Amara, on the other hand, looked rather unperturbed, despite wearing only a bra to cover her modesty. "And make it more difficult to stitch up myself? No thanks."

The red gem dangling from her ear swung with every movement of her head and Dick couldn't quite accept her with red hair. The black suited her better, but not as much as the grey. And he could see a circular scar in her side which must have come from Roy's arrow, as well as a few similar ones in her chest that were from Merlyn's violent attack, but those marks were faint discolorations against her skin. The thing that captured Dick's interest the most was the dark pink branching scar over her chest almost in a fern-like formation.

"What is that?" he asked, startled at the sight of it.

Amara looked down at her chest, a bit flummoxed. "Oh, it's a Lichtenberg Figure," she said in a manner that said she clearly thought that explained everything, "you know, fractal scarring? Or I guess you could also call it 'lightning flowers' I think it's prettier that way."

But Amara had never been one for pretty, so Dick settled for staring at her dubiously.

"They're caused by the rupture of capillaries under the skin due to the passage of the lightning current or the shock wave from the lightning discharge as it flashes over the skin," Wally added, his explanation carefully recalled from his memory and Dick got the feeling he had looked it up back when Amara had first been adopted by his uncle. "They're not usually permanent but it's not like the human body can sustain the amount of voltage Amy took from Weather Wizard when she was eight."

Amara gave him a blinding smile. "Oh, I missed you, Walls. No one understands my sciency talk like you."

"Where've you been?" Wally demanded of her, surging forward a few steps only to draw short before he came close enough to touch her, typical in the usual big brother fashion.

Amara shrugged, only to wince at the jarring movement, dropping the piece of metal she had carefully pulled out of her skin, placing the medical tweezers on the table to reach for the needle and suture thread to suture her open wound shut. "Here, there, everywhere. Trained with an assassin for awhile, stole from people for awhile, got myself a safe house, you know, normal girl stuff."

Dick smacked himself in the forehead at the nonchalance her words held, but he couldn't say he'd really been surprised.

"You are Masquerade, aren't you?" Roy asked, a distinctly annoyed frown on his lips at the mere thought.

She gave him a sheepish smile. "A girl's got to make a living."

Roy mouthed wordlessly for a moment before his tongue managed to work correctly. "You shot me!" he snapped, incensed.

"It was a through and through," Amara said, arching an eyebrow as she looked from his arm in its sling to his face. "It's practically healed, anyways."

And Dick couldn't help but think of when Roy had been absolutely certain that Masquerade wasn't Amy because his partner wouldn't shoot him. And here his partner was, admitting to it rather shamelessly. He sniggered with Wally.

"You shot me!"

Amara slid back slightly in her seat, both of her eyebrows rising on her forehead in her surprise at his response. "Chill, Arrowhead," she said, "it's not that big of a deal."

"Not the big of a—?" Roy spluttered and Dick couldn't help but be impressed how quickly Amara had made him lose his cool, but it was hardly surprising; she was the one that knew him best.

Amara ignored him in favor of threading the needle and sewing the broken flesh back together and she hardly winced; Dick wondered how many times she'd had to do it herself.

"Let me do it," he suggested, watching her fumble with tying the thread off so it didn't unravel and Amara relinquished her materials to him and he dragged a chair over to sit beside her. "You're probably going to end up breaking something."

"Aw, that's so sweet, Robin," Amara said in a simpering voice, fluttering her eyelashes towards him, which made the other two snort for good measure. "Offering to stitch me up, so romantic!"

"I'm going to stick you with this needle," Dick promised, "painfully."

She grinned feral-like. "Bring it. Remember who was the one that kicked your ass with my batons—ow, ow! What're you doing? Sticking me on purpose, you sadist?"

Dick pulled the next piece of metal out. "Don't whine."

"Next time you get shrapnel in your chest I'm gonna tell you not to whine, little bird, and see how you like it," Amara muttered, wrinkling her nose and Dick could smell the flowers filtering through his nostrils.

"Can you not do that?"

"Do what?" Amara asked flummoxed as Roy leaned against the wall and Wally perched on the edge of the table.

"That flower thing you do now," Dick said vaguely and Amara grinned widely.

"Oh, you mean the pheromones," she corrected, "pretty cool, right?"

"Pheromones?" Wally and Roy said as one.

"It's distracting," Dick admitted wryly and Amara's grin grew impossibly wide and Wally leaned forward with an interested glint in his eye.

"Oh, yeah?" he waggled his eyebrows and Roy groaned.

Amara appeared bemused and Dick wished he could feel the same.

Explaining everything took more time than Amara would care to admit, perhaps it would be better to say explaining everything that she felt safe enough to. She didn't tell them everything she stole, she didn't tell them that she'd partnered with Cheshire, she didn't tell them where she and Cheshire had trained together, she didn't tell them about the safe house at Sea Isle City, she didn't tell them.

She didn't tell them a lot, and it sat in her stomach like a lump of lead.

She didn't even tell them about her skill in chloro-kinesis –barring the bit about pheromones, she couldn't get out of explaining that–, even though it was rather negligible at this point. Amara trusted her friends so much, there was no denying that, but there were some things she didn't even know how they would react to. What would they say if she told them that Poison Ivy was at the top of her list for possible chloro-kinetic individuals that her mother could be? Having a villain for a father was bad enough, but having two? Maybe it was Amara's own insecurity keeping her from opening her mouth and spilling out her soul, but either way, she kept those thoughts to herself once all her injuries were sewed shut and healing slowly but still faster than the average human being.

"Well, I'm glad you're back," Wally told her shortly once she'd finished with her abridged explanation (and managed to get the shirt back on so as not to make her friends uncomfortable), throwing an arm over her shoulders where she didn't have any small stitches. As it was, she had six set of stitches compared to Roy's nine, but his weren't as deep since she'd bodily thrown him out of the way of most of the blast. "Uncle B and Aunt I miss you a lot."

Amara's smile faltered. "I miss them too."

Dick had her wrist in his hand, fiddling with the bracelet that kept her from being tracked by the micro-trackers still filtering through her blood.

"I miss everyone," she sighed, "being on the run isn't nearly as glamorous as it sounds."

She leaned head against his shoulder tiredly and with the red hair they looked more like brother sister.

"I'll buy you a ton of raspberry muffins," Wally promised and Amara allowed a smile to grace her lips, even as her eyes remained closed.

"All right, I'm done," Dick said, letting go of the arm he'd been holding as he investigated the bracelet.

"Any luck?" Roy asked and Dick was sure he wasn't the only one that noticed he'd positioned himself to be able to see them all clearly and any possible attacks.

"No dice," Dick said with a sigh, "the internal workings are almost completely eroded, I give it maybe a couple of hours before it stops working all together, and then…"

"Face-off with daddy-dearest," Amara said, opening her eyes to stare blankly at the floor. "Well, something to look forward to."

But was that a flicker of doubt in her eyes?

It was relatively easy to sneak out of the equipment cache, especially since Roy had had to run back to Queen Manor before Oliver and Dinah started questioning a bit too much and Dick had to return to Gotham because Bruce would notice if he was gone too long, and that left Wally to linger as long as he possibly could before promising to be back as soon as he could, but he had a curfew.

Amara hadn't realized just how much she missed her friends' presences until they'd gone. She'd missed Wally the most, Wally with his green eyes bright and his splash of freckles across his nose (when they were younger Amara had once connected them with a red marker while he slept and he retaliated by drawing lightning bolts all over hers), with his love for science, with his tendency to drop anything to spend time with her.

She pulled her jacket carefully over her shirt and the stitches didn't pull too much, so they must have been healing pretty well, but Amara didn't have time to really worry about that, the time until the bracelet broke was getting shorter and shorter and Amara was getting a feeling like there was a loud ticking of a clock echoing inside her skull and it did nothing to soothe her nerves.

The sun was just barely peeking over the horizon when Amara made her way to the hidden Zeta-tube. She was certain that her designation had a trigger on it so that if she used it the Justice League would know in seconds, and while Amara was all about the Justice League, she knew that they'd rather lock her in a box than let her settle her differences with her biological father.

Justice or vengeance?

She shook her head and ripped out the wiring in order to hotwire the Zeta-tube, tapping her fingers lightly against the keyboard until the scanner activated, authorizing her as a guest.

"Recognize: Elisa Jäger, A04," the computerized voice said before Amara disappeared, only to reappear in the center of Gotham.

New Jersey was three hours ahead of California, so Amara was rather unsurprised to find the sun a bit higher in the sky than she'd seen it in Star City. But still, it was rather early, so the chances of being seen by anyone were rather slim.

Amara closed her eyes, moving her hands slowly in a circular manner that wouldn't have looked amiss with turning cogs. A crease formed between her brows as the air around her condensed, thickening and forming into clouds with a bit of effort and Amara's legs balanced on them easily before directing her body upwards, disappearing into the clouds above as she made her way towards Sea Isle City.

It was a good hour away from Gotham –and for good reason– by car, less by motorcycle, and even more so by air, so Amara was making good time when she found herself hovering high in the air above the spot where the safe house was located.

Cloud control had never been the easiest thing for her, and she'd been the first to admit that. Her specialty had been more of utilizing her lightning in offense, and sometimes in defense (but those tended to backfire with Amara going flying via a minor explosion caused by using the lightning as a shield, which usually ended with Roy laughing at her and telling her she should have just gotten out of the way), creating clouds was one thing but managing to remain atop them for extended amounts of time wasn't something she had really been very good at until Jade had forced her to remain in the air for hours upon hours, sometimes with only fear of serious injury keeping her on her wavering cloud.

For that, Amara was glad that Jade was so harsh. Dinah was a great mentor but she was also protective and Jade hadn't been afraid to break Amara's boundaries and push her to her limits.

But Amara really missed Dinah, she was far easier to be around than Jade and Amara really would rather wear the dark new Storm Chaser outfit than the red one that Masquerade preferred.

Amara dropped out of the sky, her descent rather sharp and fast, only slowing a few times to keep her from impacting against the sand with a speed great enough to fracture bones.

The sand curled around her shoes as her feet sand slightly into it by landing in the sand just as a wave crashed against the shore, but Amara didn't mind, breathing in the scent of the sea water in the air.

She liked the safe house well enough, but she still missed the grass and the flowers and the climbing tree outside the window of her room back in Central City. It was cool in New Jersey right now but she was sure that it was warm in Central City and Amara missed the warmth.

She missed her parents more, though. She missed Barry's laughter and Iris' cozy hugs. She missed going to work with Pamela and Sandra. She missed patrol with Roy and late night calls to her friends.

She missed a lot of things.

Amara sighed, traipsing up the stairs, stopping before taking them up to stoop and pull open a trap door and disappear inside.

The beach house wasn't much suited for her needs, she'd be the first to admit it, though it was very nice, that didn't stop it from being very open. Dinah's idea of a good safe house was one without windows, and, sadly, the beach house had those.

Luckily for Amara, Melanie Archer's ex-husband had been something of a fanatic and had actually had a sort of bomb shelter built, which Amara used to her advantage (though there was no denying the trap door might've been better suited directly under the house, there was no changing its location).

Amara slid down the ladder to land on light feet.

The only glow from the room came from a precariously swinging lamp hooked to the ceiling and the screen of her laptop that she had hooked up.

It was rather bare, but it wasn't as though Amara had much equipment to start with. Amara strode over to the desk to pull the rucksack out from under it, drawing out the dark uniform that she hadn't dared to don since her abrupt disappearance from Central City.

More like she'd been too afraid to.

Another crack appeared on the bracelet and Amara stiffened glowering down at it before taking a deep breath and calming her nerves. Masquerade was all nerve, unafraid to challenge any security measures that kept her from her prize, but Storm Chaser was fraught with nerves and uncertainty. It was true that the patrol she'd gone on with Artemis had nothing go wrong, but Amara still worried.

Her father was a very powerful man, even if his powers came –for the most part– from that wand of his, and Amara certainly didn't like to be on the receiving end of his attacks.

She rubbed her chest self-consciously. Amara wished she'd had the same gall and arrogance that she'd had as a child, racing after her father and believing herself strong enough to stop him, but she knew better know, and she doubted.

But Mark Mardon hadn't seen her in years and he knew less about her strengths and weaknesses, being out of her life for so long (for which Amara was glad). She could hold on her own and she was sure with the other Star City heroes she could manage it. She didn't need to fight this battle on her own.

In a matter of seconds, Amara was dressed in the dark outfit, strapping her batons securely against her thighs before removing the earring from her lobe, returning her locks to their wild grey.

Storm Chaser drew the dark mask over her eyes. "Time to get to work," she said.

Storm Chaser would show Weather Wizard what an atmo-kinetic meta-human with a distrust of villains was capable of.

Chapter Text

Green Arrow didn't really believe in bad luck but today he'd take it into consideration. Cupid had been one thing, but Weather Wizard was something entirely different.

Mark Mardon had a tendency to go between attacking Central City and Star City, though, now that Green Arrow thought about it, that might have had something to do with Amara living in Central City and patrolling in Star City. Attacking his daughter's home turf was to elicit some kind of reaction, probably one from the girl in particular.

Whatever it was, Amara was at the center of it.

A lightning bolt came down and Speedy –who'd suited up against Green Arrow's wishes– missed electrocution by a foot only by leaping sharply back, and unfortunately into Weather Wizard's area of control.

Speedy gave a surprised hiss –from jarring his stitches, probably– as he was hoisted into the air, his feet dangling in the free air as the villain hovered in the air on his own makeshift cloud that Green Arrow had seen Amara use far too many times.

"Where is she?" Weather Wizard growled, static coming off the hand wrapped around his Weather Wand.

"No idea," Speedy said shortly before grinning widely, "probably thought you were weak enough—"

Green Arrow had strung his bow in seconds before letting an arrow go flying, its speed amplified by a short scream from Black Canary, nailing him in the chest, releasing a high-density polyurethane foam to engulf Weather Wizard, and thus causing him to release his grip on Speedy who was quick to roll away.

Static came over his comlink as someone outside the Star City heroes tried to speak over the secured line, but they were too out of range for it to come through (they were using location-centralized comlinks, after all).

Green Arrow shot a glance towards Black Canary, but she looked as confused as he felt as the foam began to tremble with the electric force from his lightning.

Then, a single voice rang out as clear as day: "Incoming!"

Green Arrow had lost count how many times he'd heard Amara Allen's voice come over the comm, and there was no way to fake that.

But then the foam was blown apart and none of the three had any time to think about Amara's impending arrival –but Green Arrow could have sworn that Speedy wasn't surprised by the knowledge and he got the feeling he was going to have a serious conversation with his ward after the battle was sorted– choosing to scatter instead.

"Wow, he's gotten a bit more psychotic since I last saw him."

Green Arrow's eyes shot to the girl that had dropped out of the sky to land beside him, her descent hidden in the chaos. He hadn't gotten the chance to see her in the new and improved Storm Chaser uniform before she left, but it did suit her rather well, and she had grown a little so he didn't have to look down nearly so much.

"I see where you get it," Speedy fired back over the comlink and Storm Chaser's grin widened as she tossed a wink towards Green Arrow who couldn't help but feel exasperated.

"Aw, Arrowhead! You're too sweet!" she simpered.

"Children," Black Canary warned and both fell silent but Green Arrow could see that though Amara's lips were pressed together, they still formed into a smile. "We do have a bit of situation here, please save your bickering for later."

"That's no fun!" and then Storm Chaser had dashed out into the street before Green Arrow could wrench her back by the neck of her uniform.

"At last," Weather Wizard breathed, his grip tightening over the wand as Storm Chaser stepped out into the open, her hands resting at her sides, close enough to her batons to grab them in an instant. "The wayward daughter returns."

"Wayward? Well, that does explain a lot about my childhood," Storm Chaser said, raising a hand to examine her nails with interest.

"I'm going to kill you!" Speedy hissed over the comlink, but Amara ignored him.

"Two months, little girl," Weather Wizard said, his voice positively frigid and Black Canary could see how her spine stiffened and the muscle in her jaw jumped. "You know how I am about being keptwaiting."

"What can I say? I'm a perpetual disappointment," Storm Chaser said before bracing her legs as Black Canary raced out, using Storm Chaser back to vault over, a shrill scream leaving her lips as Speedy and Green Arrow darted out to provide cover with a spray of arrows.

"You took your time, Storm Warning," Speedy drawled as the girl in question leapt over a bolt of lightning, landing lightly on her own feet to release one of her own. Storm Chaser may have had one up on her father merely for having her powers ingrained in her genes rather than focused from a weapon, but there was a reason she had taken the name Storm Chaser. Weather Wizard could call down storms but she could only chase them.

It would take Amara years to reach his level, and as it was, she was remarkably weaker than him, but, luckily, the battle was four on one, so that helped.

"Babe, I'll have you know that my safe house isn't even remotely close to here," came Storm Chaser's short reply and Green Arrow couldn't help but snort as Speedy gave an indignant squawk of"Babe?"

"Babe, Arrowhead, there's not much of a difference is there?" Storm Chaser appeared to weigh the options in her hands.

"There's a hell of a lot of difference!"

Storm Chaser grinned widely, throwing an arm around his shoulders, dragging him into a crouch to avoid a sharp gust of wind intended to knock them back just as the skies opened in a downpour, pressing a kiss against his cheek before he could stop her. "It's okay to admit you love me, Arrowhead, we all know it's true."

"I'm really going to punch you this time," Speedy promised as Black Canary leapt forward, moving quickly in her attempt to snatch the wand out of his hand, but she wasn't fast enough and was knocked back, colliding heavily with Speedy that they both ended up sprawled on the ground.

Storm Chaser wasted no time, even as Green Arrow fired a few explosive arrows, but he was hardly deterred; if there was one thing that Weather Wizard was, it was determined. So Storm Chaser leapt onto his back when it was turned, winding her limbs around him and hanging on tightly like an eel.

"SC, move!" Black Canary yelled as two bows trained on the father-daughter pair and the meta-human prepared to unleash another killer scream.

But it was impossible to take aim without running the risk of hitting Storm Chaser as well. And Storm Chaser had her arms locked around his eyes to prevent him from seeing, and he was doing his best to throw her off, but she had a steel-clad grip on him, her teeth gritting together to keep from crying out as his eyes gained an electric charge.

"You'll never be one of them," he hissed, for her ears only and Storm Chaser knew it. "Who could trust the child of villain?"

"Oh, am I your child now?" Storm Chaser spat angrily back, his words incensing her. "Thought I was just a bastard, the daughter you never wanted."

Maybe there was a small part of her that wished his view on her would change. She was half of his blood, after all, he was part of who she was, the dormant half of her DNA, and whether she liked it or not, he was her father.

"You are," he sneered and those wishes faded in less than a second and Storm Chaser felt rather like he'd stuck her in the stomach with a rusty knife and twisted, well, that would probably hurt less, she conceded after a moment. "But you could have been greater."

"Villainy was never my strong suit." Storm Chaser could feel her flesh burning now, "I guess I take after my real father."

And she allowed herself a brief moment of vindictive pleasure as she felt him tense in anger before throwing her off him bodily, sending her right into the nearest wall.

Storm Chaser's eyes swam and the base of her skull throbbed.

Iris' heart was in her throat racing faster than Flash could run, and that was saying something.

The GBS broadcasted over the whole country, and Iris only worked in the Central City headquarters, but there were several headquarters over the US and the GBS showed other headquarters live recordings and the ones from Star City had stopped her in her place.

"Breaking news," the reporter said from somewhere off screen, "after an almost year long hiatus, Storm Chaser has reappeared in Star City to fight alongside fellow Star City heroes Green Arrow, Black Canary and Speedy as they face off against Weather Wizard who hasn't been seen from since his break out from Belle Reve more than a year ago."

And there she was, her baby, clad in her dark uniform, her grey hair the thing that identified her more than anything in the cloudy downpour. She could make out her form beside Roy's as Speedy –of course, where else would Amy be than by her best friend's side?–, the pair crouching to avoid an attack that Iris couldn't make out and then she had leapt onto Weather Wizard's back, an action that she could recall Amy using on Wally when they were much younger, latching onto her cousin and not letting go until he tripped and they both fell to the grass, their laughter belling out around them.

But this was so very different. This left Iris terrified watching her daughter cling to her biological father, covering his eyes with her arm, cling to the man that had forced her sudden departure from her home and her family.

She hit her speed-dial to call Barry, who was no doubt still busy at the CCPD and unaware of what was transpiring in Star City.


"Barry, you need to turn on the news," Iris said, her eyes not even leaving the screen. "Right now."

There was a moment of silence on the end as Barry set down whatever he was working on to fumble with his computer to show him the news.

"Oh my God," he breathed on the other end just as Amara was wrenched off Weather Wizard's back and thrown against a nearby wall, pulling herself up and diving out of the way of a blast of lightning. "I'm heading over."

"You can't!" Iris said, hating the words even as they left her lips. "Remember? Central City heroes just can't go running off to Star City! People will notice."

Amara had gotten in several fights with her parents over the matter, particularly after her first patrol in Star City. She'd only been ten years old when she'd first started, all raw and untempered, clumsy in executing her attacks and slow in defending herself. Seeing the cuts and bruises she came home with had been difficult, especially since she didn't have same kind of increased healing factor that Barry –and Wally, to a lesser extent– had. But Barry couldn't very well run over to Star City every time his little girl got a little scraped up; Central City needed him.

Iris could hear an annoyed huff on the other end and she had the distinct feeling that Barry was regretting making that agreement, but he knew what would happen if went to Star City. Hero team-ups were common, but those were usually the big missions or ones where villains moved from one state to another with a different hero in charge.

Storm Chaser pulled herself upright, a hand at the back of her head, to rejoin the fray once more and Iris watched on bated breath.

It was going badly, and by badly, Amara meant really really badly. She wasn't sure how Mardon had managed it, but he'd increased the power on the wand since she'd last seen him use it, which only increased the difference between their atmo-kinetic strengths.

"Did I mention I hate your dad?" Speedy muttered beside her.

"It's hard not to," Amara retorted as the pair dived out from behind the wall alley corner that had been providing them with cover only to freeze.

They must have looked rather humorous, Storm Chaser with her batons in her hands and Speedy with an arrow ready to fire, both staring at what lay before them.

Speedy was openly gaping as Black Canary tried a loud cry and Green Arrow tried another one of his powerful explosive arrows, but it had little effect on the matter. "What the hell is that?"

"That," Amara decided grudgingly, "is a problem."

Despite the gravity of the situation, Speedy turned to glower at her, which Amara could make out plain as day despite the domino mask barring her from seeing his eyes. "It's not a lie," she said wryly before he punched her in the arm. "Ow!"

He jabbed his bow at her and then at their most recent problem. This problem just so happened to be a twister in the center of Star City, which was troubling to start with, but the most it had done to the surrounding structures was create a few cracks in their foundation. The issue would be if the twister picked up in strength; that was a devastation that Amara didn't want to see.

She slipped the goggles over her eyes, focusing on the figure within the twister. She could make out Mardon easily with his body heat. "I would call it a raging tempest," she said rather frankly.

"And if it keeps going Star City is going to be in trouble!" called Oliver's voice over the comm and both Roy and Amara had to wince at the loudness of the voice in their ears. "SC, can you control it?"

"Control it?" Amara positively balked as she twisted to look at him. "Are you insane? The wand's power has increased since we last saw each other and if he was stronger than me then, he's definitely stronger than me now!"

"We don't need long," came Dinah's reproaching voice and Amara got the feeling she didn't much like the lack of faith in her protégé's voice. "A small window of opportunity in order to use the Canary Cry to imbalance him."

Exasperated didn't even begin to cover how Amara was currently feeling.

"You've got to be fucking kidding me," she muttered –and if the others were surprised by her swearing, they didn't mention it– before jabbing her finger towards the twister. "Even if I could remotely stall something like that, you wouldn't have a very big window."

"Because we aren't used to that," Green Arrow said with a snort.

Amara's eyes went from one face to the next before deciding. "I hate all of you."

"Duly noted," Black Canary said before Amara conjured up her own cloud and shot up into the air to brace herself close to the twister, but far enough not to be sucked into its vortex.

She took a deep breath and centered herself before extending her hands outwards towards the tempest, drawing on every bit of her strength that she had left, trying to decrease the speed of the wind as it wrapped around and around.

It was like thrusting your hands into boiling water without any protection against the heat; it was like a burn that rubbed you raw and left you exposed. Despite not moving an inch, Amara could already feel the familiar burn in her muscles. That was the problem with being a meta-human whose powers came from the elements themselves; you didn't need to move to over-exhaust yourself.

The twister slowed, but not by much.

"More," Amara whispered to herself, not knowing or even caring if Black Canary, Green Arrow, and Speedy could hear her –though that was unlikely over the roar of the wind– as she gave a roar of her own and the pressure on her arms increased tenfold.

The wind quieted and slowed some more, like there was something sluggish about its speed, but it was still enough that Black Canary could unleash her Canary Cry, causing the twister to weaken before dissipating entirely, and Green Arrow and Speedy each shot out a bola arrow of their own in order to incapacitate Weather Wizard, who teetered over onto his back, his Weather Wand clattering uselessly to the ground beside him.

"Seems a bit anticlimactic, doesn't it?" Amara mused, floating down on her cloud so she was hovering beside Roy (wary about resting her legs on the ground, not knowing if they could bear her weight) as the rain lightened before fading away completely, her arms crossed and breathless from exertion. "I thought he'd put up more of a fight."

He cast her an exasperated glance. "And what? Send along a hurricane?"

Amara shrugged as she watched Dinah and Oliver lock an inhibitor collar around Mardon's throat, because the years of using the Weather Wand had caused him to have slight atmo-kinetic manipulation without the wand. His eyes were on her, a dark smirk on his lips. It was unsettling.

"I'm glad you got away from that guy," Roy added gruffly, glaring when he saw the looks his partner had garnered.

Amara gave a conceding nod, feeling a chill wash over her that had nothing to do with her soaking uniform.

Iris was holding tightly to Barry's hand as they made their way through the Hall of Justice, walking quickly –and Iris had to move just a bit faster to keep up with Barry's long strides. They had waited rather anxiously to get the call to come to the Hall of Justice, and then, after what had felt like an age, the phone had rung and Barry had swept Iris into his arms and raced to the nearest Zeta-tube (it might have been easier for him to just run there, but since he had Iris, it was safer to just take the Zeta-tube).

"How's the head?"

"It's just a small bump, it'll be fine in a few hours," came the voice that she had never realized she would miss so much.

Roy snorted. "Lucky you."

"Ah, yes, being a meta-human who can heal just a bit faster than the average human being, what a great thing it is," Amara remarked with a vein of amusement just as her parents rounded the corner.

And there she was, sitting side by side with Roy, their hands interlocked –Iris had almost forgotten about that tactile fixation of hers– as Roy looked over his phone with vague interest. Amara was a stark contrast to her partner, though they were both a good bit wet. Her grey curls were plastered to her neck and cheeks from the rain, an unfamiliar leather jacket over her shoulders –like she didn't know how warm it was, or maybe it was simply because the material was black– and her face brown from the sun.

Her eyes glowed and a beaming smile overtook her face as she caught sight of them, releasing her loose hold on Roy in order to stand and race towards them with an exuberant cry of "Mom! Dad!"

Iris reached her first, wrapping her in an embrace as tight and as warm as possible. "Oh, Amy! We missed you so much!"

"Missed you more," Amara smothered into her shoulder before Iris drew back to look her in the face, suddenly taking note of the bruising along her jaw as well as a few cuts. "I'm fine," she promised with an easy grin, "I mean, my arm got a little torched, but you know me, Mom, I bounce back."

And then she set her sights on Barry and threw her arms around his neck, hugging him fiercely, and he responded in kind with so much enthusiasm that he lifted her briefly off her feet and Amara released a short laugh.

"You worried you mother and I," he told her, kneeling so their difference in height wasn't nearly so pronounced.

Amara chewed on the inside on her cheek. "I'm sorry," she said, and she meant it, "after that guy came to the house, I–I panicked a little."

Barry's eyebrow twitched at 'a little'.

"I was afraid if I came back then Mardon would find you and hurt you to get to me," Amara muttered, averting her eyes, keeping them low and to the floor. "I…I just didn't want anything to happen to you."

Her eyes fixed on them, big, green, and imploring.

"Oh, sweetie," Iris sighed and Barry tucked one of Amara's loose wet curls behind her ear and pressed a kiss to her brow.

"It's a parent's job to worry about their child," he told her, "not the other way around."

"I'm sure it goes both ways," Amara retorted with just a hint of vexation that made her parents laugh. "What? I'm being serious, you know!"

But they still laughed and Amara crossed her arms, a pink flush rising up her throat to suffuse across her cheeks.

"Why are you laughing? It's not that funny!"

Barry curled an arm around her neck and ruffled her hair as she tried to bat his hand away while Iris watched on wistfully; it was like she had never left.

"We just missed you," Barry laughed, pressing another kiss to her head, before ducking away with a laugh as she tried to swat him again, "but when we get home we're going to have a serious talk."

"Oh," Amara said with false enthusiasm, "just what I was looking forward to. Yay!" The false cheer made Barry roll his eyes and Iris giggle behind her hand.

"Roy, if I don't come back, you know what happened," she called ominously over her shoulder to the archer in question.

"Then I can have all your stuff…maybe I'll sell it, it's got to be worth something, right?"

Amara's eyes narrowed as she scowled. "Who was it that saved your sorry behind from a bomb yesterday? Oh, yeah, that was me!"

"Oh, yeah?" Roy retorted. "Who was it who—"

But then Barry and Iris dragged Amara away before the conversation devolved into an all-out shouting match of who had saved who's life more than the other.

Yes, nothing had really changed, and that, was a relief.

Chapter Text

Being home was different and not entirely what Amara had expected it to be. Coming home was melancholic, like coming out of a dream. But none of it had been a dream, it had all been so very real and now that Amara was home, she couldn't quite stop the memories from flooding through her when Barry opened the door to the house to usher Amara and Iris inside.

And Amara didn't know why, but she froze up on the doorstep, her eyes fixing on the floor, where she'd dropped the pictures her would-be-kidnapper had given her, throwing them at his face in an effort to blind him before rushing up the stairs, trying to get away.

"What, um—" Amara's throat clogged as she tugged on her father's fingers, her eyes fixed on her room on the second floor. "Is there any—?"

She couldn't manage to ask if there was any blood still remaining from when she had shot him.

"Your room is the way it's always been," Barry promised and Iris' fingers smoothed over Amara's tense shoulders, pressing a kiss to the back of her head.

"There's no…blood?" Her green eyes were wide as she tilted her head back to look at Barry and it was a look that made him think of a much younger Amara, her eyes wide and fearful as she asked if her father would be able to find her in the Allens' house.

"No blood," Iris promised behind Amara. "You can go and see…it looks just the same, I promise."

So Amara swallowed her fears and she took to the stairs, climbing them slowly, remembering how fast she'd moved the last time she was on them, but then she was standing before the door, feeling a light shock when she finally managed to grasp the door handle and swing it open.

Her room looked the same as it ever had. The leaf-patterned blanket thrown over her bed that made it look half-neat and half-haphazard (Iris had insisted on it before she joined her for lunch that day), her closet doors were open, the vast array of dark colors with a few lighter ones thrown in hurt Amara's eyes a little (probably because she'd spent far too much time wearing red for the past two months).

Then her eyes fell to the spot where she remembered he had once lain. But there was no mark on the carpeting, like it had just been wiped clean…like it had never happened.

But it had happened and Amara could still remember it like it had just occurred moments previously. She had tried to sink it down in the depths of her subconscious for the past two months, so focused on getting stronger and hiding from Weather Wizard, but now it came bubbling to the surface.

"I think—" her voice caught and she swallowed again, willing the emotion not to betray her and knowing that wish would be ignored. "I think I need to see Dinah."

"Okay, sweetie," Iris said quietly behind her. "I'll call her."

Amara shook like a leaf, and then the movements stilled as she gained control over herself, pulling herself over to sit on the edge of the bed with a closed off expression that Barry had never seen her wear and he couldn't help but share a glance with Iris.

Amara was in Mount Justice in less than an hour. Maybe it was because of just how worried her parents were, or maybe it was because of how she'd reacted to seeing her room, or perhaps even a mixture of the two.

Dinah surveyed her carefully from the seat opposite her. It had felt like an age had passed since she'd last seen her sidekick and the time spent wrangling her biological father had moved entirely too fast that it hardly counted.

But there was something different about Amara, now that she had the meta-human sitting opposite her. Amara had always sat with her legs looped over the armchair's arm, her gaze almost determinedly fixed to the ceiling, making it abundantly clear that she didn't want to be there. But this time it had been as Amara's own request. And Amara was sitting in a perfect lounging position that was artfully tense; it was usually how Dinah sat in public, ready to move in a moment's notice.

"Where do you want to start?" Dinah asked her finally.

"At the beginning, suppose," Amara said, twisting a few strands of her grey hair around her fingers.

"Whatever you like," Dinah responded easily, "we're a bit in the dark about what you were up to for those past two months."

That turned a pair of green eyes on her in surprise. "Wait…you don't know anything about what I was up to?"

"Not particularly," Dinah arched an eyebrow as Amara pursed her lips, her eyes narrowing briefly.

"One moment," the girl said finally, whipping out her phone and making her way out of the room to shut the door behind her, leaving Dinah to stare after her in a bit of confusion.

There was muffled talking from the outside hall, swiftly followed by a loud: "What d'you mean you didn't tell Batman?!"

A moment later Amara reappeared, noticeably more flustered than when she'd left and Dinah arched an eyebrow.

"Friends don't rat out each other to their super-dads," had been Dick's reasoning and while endearing, Amara couldn't help but feel like that was only going to worsen her situation. What a completedork.

"Sorry," she said to Dinah, "I had to, um, sort some things out."

"Evidently," Dinah said dryly as Amara found her way back to the seat once more. "Would you like to start now, or do you have another call to make?"

This time Amara's cheeks flushed crimson. "No, I'm good," she said, the words almost coming out as a squeak, clearing her throat to make it less obvious. The color from her cheeks fading quickly and her eyes grew distant in thought and memory.

"Oracle is an active presence on BlackNet," she explained, "and I've gotten a few allies by helping people out…one of my contacts had dropped me a warning that someone was trying to find me, and by me, I mean Amara Allen, not Oracle."

"And this contact knew your secret identity?"

Amara winced.

"Amara," Dinah said with a voice full of warning, "there is a reason that those identities are secret."

"I trust her," Amara said stiffly and she did. Jade might have had a lot of flaws, but if there was one thing she knew, it was that Jade didn't have the slightest bit of interest in revealing her identity. Oracle was too valuable an asset to lose (or was it that Amara was too valuable an asset to lose?). "She mentioned to me that she'd heard some rumors about someone looking for me and that was when she left me with the gun." Amara ground her teeth together slightly. "I told her I was a better shot with a crossbow, but she still left it with me."

Dinah leaned forward with interest. Using guns had never been something that she or Oliver had taught their sidekicks to use. Roy preferred arrows to bullets and Amara could throw lightning bolts; they hadn't thought they might need to know any gun safety.

"I was running late," Amara continued, her legs fidgeting until she crossed them. "I was supposed to meet Mom for lunch, but I'd gotten side-tracked, but I was on my way out of the man at the door told me he had something for me that I needed to look at immediately."

"The pictures," Dinah surmised and Amara nodded, running a hand through her hair and knotting at the base of her skull.

"I didn't really have a lot of time to think," Amara acquiesced with a grimace. "He was a lot bigger than me and I wasn't allowed to use my powers at home so I distracted him by throwing the pictures in his face and running upstairs to my room, locking the door behind me. I had the gun in the duffle under my bed –I didn't even think about the crossbow Roy gave me– but before I could grab it, he'd broken through and grabbed me."

Amara rubbed her finger against her thumb with enough friction to make small static sparks appear.

"He got me with a needle—" Amara's fingers probed the spot on the side of her neck where the syringe had penetrated her flesh. "—I managed to get him to drop me for a moment and that was when grabbed the gun."

Amara swallowed thickly and her fingers ceased their friction as she clenched her hand into a tight fist.

"Do you think killing someone makes you a bad person?" she asked Dinah, her eyes large and imploring.

So that was the source of her inner turmoil, and it was certainly understandable. It had never been the Justice League's policy to kill their enemies; capture had always been their goal. And Amara had never killed anyone, not until her hand had been forced and her safety had been threatened.

Dinah couldn't imagine how jarring it was for a twelve year old child to look down to the floor and see a man who had, moments previously, been alive suddenly dead and by her own hand as well.

"If someone was attacking…Wally, and the only way to stop them would be to shoot them, would you do it?"

Amara's eyebrows drew together, showcasing what she thought about the matter, and it was clear that if anyone tried to have a go at her cousin in front of her she would physically pummel them with her fists.

"Yes," she said finally.

"Would you have shot him if you'd had any other choice?" Dinah pressed.

"No," Amara said, propping her head on her hand and rubbing in a circle over her forehead. "I wasn't really aiming," she said, and it almost sounded like she was trying to convince herself rather than Dinah. "I pulled the trigger and then he went down and everything was spinning…"

The hand covered her eyes, so Dinah couldn't quite tell what she was thinking, but she could see her tightness in her jaw and a tension in her legs where they were crossed.

"There is a difference, Amy," she said, "between self-defense and murder. Your attacker might have ended up dead, but you were scared and only reacting."

"I thought you said to only act, never react," Amara said without lifting her hand.

A faint smile adorned Dinah's lips and she allowed herself a small chuckle at her sidekick's words. "That's also true, but that applies to combat on equal ground. You were caught off guard and without your powers. Sometimes reacting is your only option."

Amara sighed and drew her hand back. "He wouldn't be dead if Mardon didn't want me so badly."

Dinah was quick to notice how Amara called the Weather Wizard. Before, she had still called him her father –thus making it confusing about which father she was talking about– but something had changed since then, since the previous battle in Central City. Perhaps Mark Mardon had said something to her whilst she had clung to his back, her arm blinding him.

"That is Mark Mardon's fault, not yours," Dinah promised her, "he has always hated things he can't control, and you were always one of those things."

It wasn't exactly a very cheerful thought.

"Tell me what happened next," Dinah suggested as a way to distract her, but it didn't really help.

"I thought maybe he'd gotten me with something to knock me out, but I was fine, so I tried to get the last of the substance analyzed, and that was when I found out about it being a subcutaneous microtransmitter, but I didn't have any of that counteracting solution that Robin had given me before, so I had to settle for the next best thing."

"Which was?"

"A jamming cuff around my wrist," Amara said, her tone just short of sounding a bit obvious. "Then I packed up my things and headed off for Mount Olympus…"

This was going to be such a long story.

"How screwed are you?"

Amara glared at her laptop's screen as Dick's voice filtered out of the phone's speaker as she perused the BlackNet. Iris was downstairs making dinner and Barry had left to speak with Batman after having a short conversation with Dinah, which didn't bode well at all for her, if you asked Amara, and, unfortunately, Dick wasn't willing to eavesdrop on Bruce for her.

"I've been grounded for a week for becoming a thief," she said with a bit of annoyance, her fingers pausing briefly over the keyboard, "which isn't all that surprising, and given that I've been gone for two months, I think it's probably the lesser of two evils."

"Probably," Dick agreed, "it could have been a disaster, heavy on the dis."

Amara's lips curled into a smile. She had forgotten his use of what the other sidekicks liked to call 'unwords'. "It probably would have been easier to swallow if some people had already known that I was Masquerade."

There was an embarrassed cough on the other end of the phone that came out more like static, but Amara knew what it was. "But thanks, anyways," she added, feeling a warmth in her stomach.

"No problem," Dick said, clearing his throat for a moment. "So, are they keeping you locked in the house, or are you allowed to venture out into the unknown?"

Amara couldn't help but snort. "I'm not confined to the house, if that's what you mean. I've got a job to get back to and I need to check that I still have a job after being gone for two months, and I've fallen behind on my studies again…"

"I'm pretty sure that you're ahead, actually," Dick laughed. "You've spent way too much time doing schoolwork."

"What can I say?" Amara replied with a shrug. "Who's going to complain if I graduate from high school early?"

"Probably your parents, since they'll be the ones paying for college."

"No way! I'm paying for college!" Amara had earned more than enough money to pay for her tuition, especially if she wanted to be a doctor, and it was a high consideration on her list; being a geneticist proved to be the most interesting occupation she had come up with as of yet. Of course, she'd only told Pamela that she was considering ending up as a doctor. There had been a glitter of pride in her eyes that had filled Amara with a warmth she couldn't explain. "Though, they'll probably want me to get rid of the money, since I got it from thieving."

"Probably," Dick agreed.

Her phone gave a beep and she looked to it. "Ah, looks like Roy's calling. Want me to call you back afterwards?"

"Better not," Dick said, "I'm on patrol tonight and tomorrow's the last day of classes."

"Oh, are those still going on?" Amara wouldn't have known, her classes were conducted via laptop and she tended to do them year round at odd hours (she wasn't very organized with her time).

"Just barely," Dick chortled. "Wally got out a week ago so he's been rubbing it in my face."

"Of course he has," Amara muttered to herself before speaking at a proper level, "so, I'll see you around."

"Probably. See you, Amy." Then the connection cut off and Amara had just barely enough time to hit the button to answer Roy's call.

"Hey, Arrowhead," she said cheerfully, "miss me, yet?"

"I literally just saw you this morning," the older boy responded, his tone dry, even over the phone.

"Aw, Arrowhead, you hurt my feelings!" Amara gave a small pout, despite knowing that he couldn't see it. "By the way, I'm grounded for the next week."

"Wow, I'm just so surprised."

Amara glowered at the heavy sarcasm. "You're still mad about me shooting you, aren't you?" she asked after a short silence, which only earned her an even longer silence.

"I'm choosing to pretend that didn't happen," Roy decided.

"We've both got the scars to prove it," Amara pointed out, "so that doesn't really work."

All that could be heard on the other side was a string of swears that made Amara laugh.

Bruce Wayne had met with Barry Allen entirely too many times concerning his daughter, that much could be said for certain. But, at the same time, it was undoubtedly safer to have these discussions away from prying ears, particularly Amara's.

"You don't look all that surprised," Barry noticed, after the current head of the Justice League listened to him list the important details that Amara had told to Dinah, particularly the ones concerning what the thief Masquerade had been up to.

"Robin ran into her recently on patrol and I've been suspicious of her for awhile," Bruce conceded as he pulled up Amara's file on the JL database, adding into her known aliases –which had previously only held a single name, Storm Chaser, while she'd been retired, but it had been switched to Oracle in the past day– the name: Masquerade. "She and Storm Chaser had far too many similarities."

Well, Amara may have gotten good at fooling her friends, but she could only have done it for so long before she'd slipped, which she had.

"But Robin mentioned something to me today about when he and Amara collided on the rooftop," Bruce added (Barry had long since given up on wondering why he was so secretive about Dick's name, even in the Batcave and when they both knew his name). "Amara is capable of using pheromones."

Barry's blood turned to ice in his veins. All those tests that he'd had S.T.A.R. Labs do on her over the years, and she'd never shown any aptitude towards chloro-kinesis. It had been all but decided that her mother's powers were dormant and more likely recessive than anything else. He'd never seen any of the plants that Amara had been around over the years grow faster, they'd only had an increased life expectancy. He'd certainly never seen her use pheromones before, but pheromones weren't typically something that was seen.

"Pheromones," he repeated, the word falling dubiously from his lips.

"Pheromones," Bruce concurred, "perhaps she's inherited something from Poison Ivy, after all."

And that didn't bode well.

"We should get a house together, Daffedoll."

"Oh, yeah?" Pamela asked, her lips curling as she sautéed some mushrooms in a skillet for her dinner (she had gotten surprisingly good at cooking since she'd come to Central City, probably because one day she'd be cooking with Amara and it might be good to have some skill in that area). "In Gotham?"

"Well, of course in Gotham!" Harley whined. "You promised you were gonna come back for good in the next few months, remember?"

Pamela grimaced. She remembered the promise, but the thing that she was dragging her heels on the most was the second part of her promise to Harley, which involved her telling Amara that she was her biological mother. And Pamela wasn't quite sure how she was going to break that detail to the twelve-year-old meta-human; kidnapping her and telling her in a remote location was surprisingly high on the list.

"I did," Pamela said, "and I will, I promise, I've got until the end of October…but you think we should get a house?"

That was oddly domestic of Harley. Pamela couldn't remember her living anywhere but that old, cramped apartment of hers.

"Well, if there's you, and me, and the little Petal, then we're going to need some space," Harley said in a considering sort of manner.

Pamela stifled her amusement at Harley's nickname of Amara, despite the two having never met. She was sure that when they did, it would be pure chaos. And Pamela wanted Harley and Amara to meet, but as her girlfriend and her daughter.

"Good thing we're so successful doctors," Harley joked on the opposite end, and she wasn't wrong. Pamela had her doctorate in botany and toxicology and Harley had hers in psychiatry, and they both had made a bit of money in their esteemed professions before they had made themselves into villains (or perhaps it was the circumstances that had them into Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy), even without factoring in Pamela's large inheritance from her now-dead parents.

"Why don't you come up with a list of places and when I come over for the weekend, we'll look through it together?" Pamela suggested, twirling a lock of her red hair around her finger.

"Whatever you want, Girlfriend," Harley replied slyly and Pamela knew that if she'd been in the room, Harley would have been giving her a seductive wink.

"I love you," Pamela told her with certainty.

"Oh, I know," Harley laughed.

Sandra was sweeping a few stray petals and leaves from the floor when the bell at the door jingled as it opened.

"Welcome to Bouquet Bouti—" Sandra had started to say the typical greeting when she turned around to see that the person who had entered was none other than Amara Allen.

Amara's dark curls were just a bit longer and her face was tanned a bit from the sun, several shades off of her typical fairness, but it was definitely her. And Sandra was definitely not going to comment on the thick bandage wrapped around her arm, where it could be seen under her jacket's sleeve.

"Hey, stranger, haven't seen you around in awhile," Sandra said, resting her hip against the shaft of the broom as she gave Amara a wink.

"Yeah, sorry about that," Amara said a bit sheepishly, rubbing at the back of her neck as she did so, "I forgot to tell you that there was this two month exchange program…and I was wondering if I still had a job."

Sandra scoffed, giving a careless flick of her wrist. "Still have a job? Of course you've still got a job! Get behind that counter and get to work!"

Amara laughed, loosening her light jacket from her shoulders to hook it onto one of the coat-hangers behind the counter.

"Where was it that you were abroad?" Sandra asked her once the stray petals and leaves had been cleaned up.

"Fiji," Amara said after a moment, giving her boss a bright grin, "you wouldn't believe how many plants I collected for science class." The lies came off her tongue effortlessly when they contained a sprinkle of truth, and particularly when they were told to her boss, who she needed to keep in the dark about her being in the heroing business.

"Ugh," Sandra groaned, throwing her head back, making her braids swing around from the movement, "that is so unfair. I haven't been on a vacation in years!"

"It's good for the soul," Amara agreed with another laugh before asking, "where's Ella? Is she out today?"

"It's her day off," Sandra agreed, jabbing a thumb towards the shift schedule pasted to the wall behind the counter. "She'll be back tomorrow, though."

Amara was surprised about how disappointed she was, not being able to see Pamela, but maybe that she because she'd helped her out back when her arrow wound had been infected, without too many questions asked.

"I've got some Chrysanthemums that need to be trimmed. You up for it?"

Amara positively beamed.

It was dark and the house was quiet but Amara was sitting at the desk staring down at the small pot in front of her that had been recently seeded with a pansy seed.

Amara frowned, looking at it in suspicion before pressing her fingers to the moist dirt, feeling a warmth wash over her as she drew her hand up, and with it, a sprouting flower followed until, a few moments, later, there was a pansy in full bloom.

And it didn't help one bit.

Chapter Text

"I'm not giving it back, I earned all that fair and square."

Amara was too agitated to sit down, and it was much easier to get her point across when she was standing and waving her arms for good measure.

There weren't a lot of things that she fought with her parents about, but this definitely had taken the cake. Of course, she'd been expecting it; Masquerade had made a lot of money on stealing from others, and it wasn't exactly an honest way of living.

"Amy, thievery is not fair and square!" Iris reproached.

Amara's green eyes flashed. "Some of those items were incredibly difficult to procure, I will have you know! Besides, most of them were already stolen, so really what I was doing was reacquisition! And that's about as fair and square as it gets!"

"Amara!" Barry warned and Amara positively bristled.

It was times like these that Amara really missed being on her own with no one to depend on herself. Of course, she loved her parents and she loved being home, but between the three of them, Amara had a very different view on right and wrong compared to them.

"I want to be a doctor!" she burst out finally and both of them stared at her, with Barry a bit more stunned than his wife, for reasons Amara couldn't even begin to fathom. And Amara was sure she looked a picture; cheeks pink with frustration, fists balled and shoulders tensed.

None of them could see the trail of vines creeping up the side of the house to where her room was, curling around the edges of the window and the thick branches of the tree perched outside it.

"I want to be a doctor and being a doctor costs a lot!" Amara continued, emboldened by their surprise. "College is expensive and I want to pay my way through it; I don't want you guys to pay for me."

"College is still years away, though," Iris mentioned, surprised at Amara's response, surprised at her thinking so far ahead, but why else would Amara had convinced her father to let her actually work at the flower shop as opposed to just volunteering.

Barry, on the other hand, had known he was treading a very thin by allowing her to work at that flower shop, knowing he was putting her so close to her mother's chosen skill. There had always been the chance that one day she was going to come home and show him a potted plant that she'd made grow all on her own. Pamela Isley had been a doctor of botany and toxicology, but he hadn't expected Amara to want to follow a similar path.

"And you want to pay for it with money you've obtained illegally?" he demanded and Amara's teeth snapped together, grinding as she clenched her hands into tight fists.

It was like screaming underwater; no one could hear a thing you were saying. Amara's frustration was leaping to new heights and that wasn't helping anything.

"It's my money," she insisted, her worlds hissing out from her clenched teeth, "I can do whatever I want with it."

And with that she grabbed her keys and left the house before they could call her back, the door slamming behind her on the way out as she gave an aggravated huff, storming towards the edge of the sidewalk, feeling the tips of her fingers charged with electricity and wanting nothing more than to zap something, but she couldn't very well do that in full view of the neighborhood.

Amara growled under her breath, leaning against the mailbox, making the door fly open and expel the contents onto the grass and the road and that only made her agitation grow, despite it probably coming about because of her agitation.

She rubbed at her forehead with a sigh before stooping to collect the mail, her eyes lingering on a postcard with her name on it.

Now that was odd.

Amara didn't exactly get a lot of mail. The kind she tended to get were records of completed year grades from the program that she submitted her school assignments through. Apart from that, getting mail was a rarity, unless it was from the Garricks or the Wests.

Amara pulled herself upright, frowning as held up the postcard. It had no return address, nor any markings to prove it had gone through the postal system, it was like it had just been dropped off in her mailbox a few moments ago.

Her name was written in a curly script that Amara was sure she'd seen somewhere before, but she couldn't quite recall.

The postcard itself was shaped in the likeness of a rose and when Amara turned it over, she could read the few words there: If I was looking for answers, I'd start with Cadmus.

Amara's brow furrowed. Cadmus? The genetics lab in DC?

She chewed on her lip thoughtfully. She had always focused a bit more on the people than the place, but she supposed that in order to make someone like her would take substantial resources and the Cadmus labs were rather good, not as good as STAR Labs, obviously, but still rather good and not affiliated with the Justice League. If she was planning on growing a baby from others DNA that would be the place she'd start with.

The other mail was shoved back into the mailbox, but Amara kept the postcard, turning back around to head into the house and grab her laptop in her room when she froze.

Going back inside when she'd just had a rather loud fight with her parents would not end well…it was better to climb the tree back into her room than go through the front door any day.

So Amara circled around the house, keeping out of sight from the windows –because she knew that Iris would drag her back inside the first chance she got– before finding the winding oak tree. Personally, Amara would have liked the tree better if it had a bit more footholds or forking branches, but it would have to do for now.

She grasped the branches, using a subtle manipulation of the air around her to make pulling herself up into the branches a bit easier, weaving up through the leaves until she was balancing just outside her window.

It would have been much easier, in retrospect, to simply walk through the front door and traipse up the stairs to grab her laptop, but Amara was far too stubborn a creature to resort to that.

And, luckily for her, she'd left the window open after her mother had locked her in her room the day before as a way to force her to clean out all the things that she didn't have any use for (Amara hadn't bothered to point out she could easily pick her way out of the room, and the window wasn't exactly hard to leave out of) so getting in was rather simple, but moving quiet enough that her parents wouldn't be able to hear her downstairs was far more tricky.

Well, it would be trickier if Amara hadn't perfected the art of standing on clouds, which she had.

So Amara hovered in the air, shutting her laptop where it was open on her desk, the screen black from not being used for several minutes, before shoving it in her bag and looping it over her shoulder, pausing at her window when she heard her name mentioned downstairs.

She floated as close to the balcony that overlooked the first floor as she dared, close to hear the muffled conversation but far enough not to be seen.

"Amy's not going to budge, Barry, maybe we should let it go, besides its better for her to spend that money on education rather than something else, wouldn't you agree?"

"That's not the point, Iris," her father sighed, "it's how she got the money in the first place that bothers me."

"I know," Iris placated, "but Amy doesn't have the money on her and it's not in her bank account, so I really think you're out of luck trying to get her to return it…what is it that's really bothering you? I know it's not the money."

But he said nothing and Amara ducked out of sight when came into view of the second landing, moving back to the window with a deeper frown than before. If it wasn't the money that bothered Barry, then what was it?

Cadmus… Now there was something of interest.

Amara had found herself in the Cave in a matter of minutes, and it took her even less time to plug her laptop into the Cave's supercomputer and begin researching Project Cadmus, or, as some called it, Cadmus Labs.

Their research was top notch, Amara found as she surfed her way through their online records. The type of genetics research they were doing was astounding, definitely on par with STAR Labs, but there was also something about it that seemed a bit off to her, like there was something those in charge of Project Cadmus were trying very hard to hide, and that was more than enough to pique Amara's interest.

But there wasn't a hint of what it was online so it was likely that she'd actually have to break into the building in order to get some answers, because there was something very familiar about the genetics lab's logo that had her looking through her old things late into that night.

She hadn't kept her old things from before she was a part of Barry and Iris' family out of sentiment, more of she wasn't really sure what to do with it, so she'd packed her things into a box and shoved it into the darkest corner of her closet, not intending to open it again, yet here she was, pulling the box free and looking through it for one thing in particular.

It didn't take her long to find what she looking for, the identification bracelet might have been small, but it would have easily fit a child.

Amara Isley was printed on the side next to a barcode and on the opposite side read Project Amara.

She frowned at that. Project Amara? She must not have noticed it before. But there was definitely something fishy about it, because next to that was a simple 'c' with an outline of a bull behind it that was the logo of Project Cadmus.

Yeah, Storm Chaser was definitely going to pay them a visit.

The fourth of July was a menace with red, white, and blue in every direction possible, it hurt Amara's eyes more than anything, which was why she'd settled on wearing more muted greens while children ran around dressed like the American flag. She stood out like a sore thumb, but she didn't really care as she made her way up a familiar driveway in Keystone City to stand on the porch and rap sharply on the door with her knuckles.

It only took a moment for the door to be opened, and framed in the doorway stood a woman with a kindly smile.

"Hi, Aunt Mary," Amara said with an unnecessary wave, "is Wally around?"

"Amy! We weren't expecting you!" Mary's eyebrows furrowed briefly. "Were we expecting you?"

"No," Amara laughed, "I just wanted to see Wally. Is he in his room?"

She didn't even wait for her aunt to agree before darting past her and up the stairs to where Wally's bedroom was, opening the door without even knocking.

"Hey, nerd," she said with a grin, "want pasta for lunch?"

Wally dropped his AP Chemistry book ("You have schoolwork in the summer?" Dick laughed while Wally scowled. "It's just an essay, all the AP classes have those, besides, when isn't Amy doing schoolwork?" They both looked to Amara, sipping her cup of cider. "Who's graduating a year early? Oh yeah, that's me." They both rolled their eyes.) and beamed at her. "Amy!"

"Pasta?" Amara prompted, and Wally was on his feet less than the time it took Amara to blink, and that was undoubtedly due to his super-speed than Amara blinking very slowly.

"Yes! Let's go!"

And then he was tugging her out of the room and the house entirely to the first pasta-house, and it was only once they'd ordered that Wally had turned a bit serious.

"All right, spill," he said.

Amara's face twisted in surprise.

"It's not like you to show up out of the blue," Wally said, drumming his fingers against the table as he considered her. "You look…bothered."

Amara shook her head, running a hand through her dark curls. Wally knew her far too well. "Do you remember," she said after a moment, "when we were younger and I told you that I was grown in an artificial womb?"

A red eyebrow was arched. Whatever he'd been expecting, it wasn't that. "I remember you saying something like that, yeah."

She crossed her arms, leaning them against the table. "I've always known who my father was, biologically speaking, but I've never known who my mother is, or why I was created, but I've always wanted to…but maybe I've been a bit afraid."

Wally was far more understanding and kind than many gave him credit for, but Amara had known him the longest of their friends and he was her family.

"You've never met her," he said matter-of-factly, "of course you're scared, I'd be scared about meeting my mom if I'd never known her."

Amara took a long sip of her water.

"What do you remember from when you were younger?" he asked her. "Before you met Uncle Barry, I mean."

Her green eyes grew distant with thought. "The rooms all looked the same," she said finally, "the same color, the same equipment…there were always tests, kind of like what STAR Labs has me do, nothing really invasive, except for that time they broke my arm to test my healing and pain tolerance…"

Wally winced at that.

"Mostly it was really boring and the doctors considered me to be a sort of experiment, so most of it was watching to see how I responded to different types of stimuli, how I dealt with stress, you know, the usual."

"Your usual and my usual are two very different things," Wally decided when their pasts was slid in front of them, the pair thanking the waitress before she left to take another customer's order.

"There was one doctor who was always really nice to me," Amara said, ignoring that brief mutter from Wally, "I can't remember her name, but she was the one that actually took me out of wherever I being held, she's the one who gave me to Mardon."

"Talk about a big mistake," Wally uttered around a mouthful of spaghetti.

Amara shrugged, but she couldn't disagree. "I think she thought I'd be better off with my family than studied in a laboratory…it's too bad that he never was much of the fathering type." Her expression grew morose as she chewed her chicken fettuccini before swallowing thickly.

"Anyways, so here I have been looking for my mother for awhile now, and someone drops me a hint to look into the place that actually created me," Amara continued with a bit more enthusiasm than she'd previously possessed.

"I thought you didn't know what that place was," Wally remarked, chewing aggressively on a meatball.

"I didn't," Amara said cheerfully, "but Project Cadmus is the best choice, it's got the best equipment apart from STAR Labs and it isn't affiliated with the Justice League, so it's actually pretty brilliant, and its logo was on my ID bracelet, so that's got to be it."

To someone else, it would have been a bit difficult to follow, but this was Wally who knew from experience just how much she had researched genetics when it had first garnered her interest.

"Don't tell me you hacked them," he said narrowing his eyes suddenly.

There was a knowing glint in Amara's eyes that he didn't like in the slightest. "You know me far too well."

Wally rolled his eyes. "Maybe that's the problem."

"Of course, I didn't come up with anything, so I might have to sneak into the building to get some answers…"

One of these days Amara was going to get caught doing something illegal, and then she was going to be screwed, but he knew from experience how foolhardy her stubbornness made her.

"This is highly irregular," the current warden of Belle Reve, Amanda Waller, spoke with clear disdain as Storm Chaser walked beside her, step for step. It wasn't like she didn't paint an impressive picture; many had seen Storm Chaser's sudden reappearance in the attack against Weather Wizard. Several inmates had veered away as they'd walked past, once they'd caught a glance of some static electricity rolling off her.

"I'm aware," Amara said, keeping any inflection out of her tone.

Amanda gave a huff of annoyance. "Still, you're the only one that he'd asked for, so you are well within your rights to speak with your father."

Amara's eyes narrowed for good measure at the mention of her relation, but she didn't comment, instead grasping the door's handle and wrenching it open to step inside.

Mark Mardon looked half the man he used to be, and she supposed Belle Reve did that to you. His grey hair –so like her own– hung around his face, contrasting with the orange of his prison uniform and the red glow from the inhibitor collar locked around his throat.

"I must say, Weather Wizard," she spoke coolly, "the orange doesn't do you justice."

He sneered at her. "Well, well, well, if it isn't my little bastard, come to see your father, have you?"

Storm Chaser didn't even blink. She'd grown far too used to him referring to her as such (which was a whole different set of problems). "I'm here to speak with Mark Mardon aka Weather Wizard," she countered, "my father isn't even in this room."

There was a malevolent glint in his eye as he gave her an open-palmed gesture as if to say "get on with it."

"I want to know who my mother is," Storm Chaser said shortly, "I don't suppose you were given that information, were you?"

She could see something in him that wanted to lie to her; he loathed telling her the truth, that much she could remember quite clearly.

But then he surprised her. "It was never of interest to me, I don't believe the woman who handed you to me actually knew who your mother was, barring that she was a villain."

The winding tension inside of her broke suddenly and Amara had to force herself not to sigh, but while she had been expecting as much, she had hoped for some scrap of information. But Amara was never that lucky.

So she stood and made her way out of the room without even a thank you or a farewell, he had never been deserving of such things from her.

Really, Amara couldn't understand why so many ice-based villains decided to attack on a day like the fourth of July, maybe they had a problem with the color scheme. Aquaman and Aqualad were dealing with Killer Frost, Flash and Kid Flash had Captain Cold, and Batman and Robin had Mr. Freeze.

"Are you sure you don't need any help?" Amara asked Roy as she took to the stairs, rushing up them speedily, making for the rooftop.

"GA and I've got it handled," he assured her before she could hear the distinct sounds of arrows firing.

Amara had been ungrounded for some time now, and usually she would have joined Speedy by now, but Black Canary was out of town helping Wonder Woman with something, and she'd given Amara the option of taking the night off.

"Are you meeting us at the Hall of Justice later?" he asked her and Amara scowled. All the sidekicks were being recognized at the Hall of Justice rather soon but Amara couldn't understand the appeal; people already knew who the sidekicks were (what they were known as, not their secret identities, obviously), the further recognition had just sounded like a bit of an ego boost.

"No thanks," she said, fixing the goggles over her eyes and twisting the lenses to look into the next building, "Mom has me helping her out, we're having a big potluck tonight so we've got to bring a lot of food with three speedsters in the family."

"Lucky you." There was a hiss on the other end that sounded an awful lot like Roy had just missed getting nabbed with some ice. "Talk later?"

"Later," Amara agreed, clicking off her comlink as she looked for an entry point to allow her inside Project Cadmus. Their security appeared to be top-notch, which didn't come as much of a surprise, but Amara had broken into more secured facilities before, so she wasn't too concerned.

It was more of an issue finding the best way to make her way in…she couldn't very well investigate when there were researchers and doctors around, and security was upped at night…unless she wanted to start a fire and force the building to be evacuated…

Her eyes lit up, now that was definitely a solid plan, but she would have to make it look a bit more like an accident than the manner of which she was concocting in her mind. She couldn't very well throw a lit cigarette inside and how it would catch fire, that was just poor planning.

Then she focused her goggles on a Bunsen burner on which a flask full of some kind of blue solution had been placed by a man in a white lab coat before he moved away to focus on other things.

Now wouldn't it just be terrible if the gas was turned up and the flame caught on the items around it? But manipulating the air from farther away was a bit more difficult, so it was going to take just a bit more time than she'd anticipated, but, luckily, there was no one looking for her; Barry thought she was with Roy, Roy thought she was with Iris, and Wally thought she was with Dinah.

So Amara extended her hand and focused hard.

Chapter Text

Wally couldn't help but be steamed as he watched Flash, Batman, Aquaman, Red Tornado, Green Arrow, and Martian Manhunter left the lounge in the Hall of Justice to assist Zatara with the sorcerer Wotan who was using the Amulet of Wotan to block out the sun.

"When we're ready?" Kid Flash said in annoyance, throwing up his arms into the air. "How are we ever supposed to be ready when they treat us like…sidekicks?"

"My mentor, my king," Aqualad said, his expression dropping somewhat. "I thought he trusted me."

"Trust?" Kid Flash demanded, pointing his thumb aggressively towards himself. "They don't even trust us with the basics! They've got a secret HQ in space!"

"What else aren't they telling us?"

"I have a better question," Robin grumbled, "why didn't we leave with Speedy?"

"Or," Kid Flash piped up, his annoyance clear, "why didn't we skive off with SC? Do you think she knew they wouldn't take us seriously?"

Robin shrugged. "I thought she just wasn't a fan of the publicity."

There was a moment of silence that was felt mostly awkward on Aqualad's part, being the one that knew Storm Chaser –formerly Oracle– the least.

"What is Project Cadmus?" he asked once a silent moment had passed.

"Don't know," Robin said before grinning slyly, "but I can find out." And then he strode towards the room's main computer, his fingers moving across the keys until a voice blared: "Access denied."

Robin sniggered. "Wanna bet?" His fingers tapped out a different sequence of keys, causing the screen to fade into green symbols.

"Whoa," Kid Flash uttered impressed, "dude, are you hacking the Justice League?"

Robin's lopsided grin was answer enough. "Well, it is the same system as the Batcave, so it can't really be considered hacking."

Aqualad's lips twisted upwards in amusement while Kid Flash snorted.

"Access Granted," the computer blared a moment later, a video file popping up on the screen.

"All right, Project Cadmus –also known as Cadmus Labs–, genetics lab here in DC…" He frowned. "That's all there is, but if Batman's suspicious, maybe we should investigate."

"Solve their case before they do," Aqualad said, intrigued. "It would be poetic justice."

"Hey," Robin grinned, leaning eagerly, "they're all about justice."

Aqualad gave a small sigh. "But they said to stay put."

"For the blotting out the sun mission, not this," Robin countered, resting his hands on his hips as he grinned.

"Wait," Kid Flash said suddenly, dropping his hand to Robin's shoulder, jerking his best friend's attention towards the red-head. "Are you going to Cadmus? Because if you're going, I'm going."

And then they were both looking towards Aqualad with wide grins on their lips.

"Just like that we're a team on a mission?" Aqualad queried.

"We didn't come for a play date," Robin pointed out and Aqualad smiled.

"Come on, let's go!" Kid Flash said, tugging his friends towards the exit with a newfound exuberance.

When Robin leapt through the window with a loud cackle after dragging Kid Flash up from where he was hanging, and it was safe to say that one was not more surprised than the other when they took in the vacant room, barring the figure tapping away at the company computer.

"What're you doing here?" Kid Flash demanded in surprise.

Storm Chaser gave him a flat stare from behind her mask before dropping her eyes to the screen once more. "Researching. What're you doing here?"

"There was a fire," Robin said. "It set off a League alert."

"I started the fire," Storm Chaser said before her eyes narrowed, "it set off a League alert?"

"What d'you mean you set the fire?" Kid Flash spluttered as Aqualad made it in through the open window on a funnel of water.

"I thought that was pretty clear," Storm Chaser snorted as Robin came alongside her to look over the screen with her.

"I appreciate the help," Aqualad said and Robin grinned widely.

"You handled it, besides, we're here to investigate, poetic justice, remember?"

"But she's the one that started the fire!" Kid Flash said, jabbing his finger at his cousin.

"For what reason?" Aqualad asked curiously.

"It's hard to conduct research when people are around," Storm Chaser mentioned, lifting her eyes to look at him. "The fire wasn't that serious, just enough to evacuate the last of the employees…of course, I haven't been able to find anything too out of place in the company computer, which is disappointing and now I'm probably back to square one."

"On what?" Robin asked, but she offered no explanation as Aqualad rounded the corner to see a strange creature within the elevator just as the doors shut, a creature that was definitely not human.

"There was something in the—" he started to say as Kid Flash rounded the corner with a frown on his mouth.

"Elevators should be locked down," Kid Flash said and Robin darted around them towards the elevator, Storm Chaser following after at a more leisure pace, suspicion clear in her eyes.

"This is wrong," Robin said, his gauntlets activating a holographic computer, scanning the elevator into the database. "Thought so…this is a high-speed express elevator, it doesn't belong in a two-story building."

"Neither does what I saw," Aqualad pointed out.

"They must have several floors hidden beneath the foundation," Storm Chaser said, snapping her fingers and grinning, "the blueprints must have been forged."

"Why were you researching them, again?" Kid Flash asked her and Storm Chaser rested a hand on her hip, jerking a thumb back towards herself.

"Product of genetics, remember? I told you I was looking into Cadmus at lunch, or did you forget about that?"

A dawning realization lit his eyes. "Oh, I totally did."

Robin snorted while Storm Chaser rolled her eyes and Aqualad stifled his amusement.

"What? I was helping Flash with Captain Cold! What were you doing?"

"I was casing the building looking for the perfect entry point!"

"They could have been brother and sister," Robin sniggered towards Aqualad who smiled until two pairs of green eyes were glaring at the pair of them. Robin reeled back sharply, but Aqualad moved forward to force the elevator doors open.

Storm Chaser peered down, her eyebrows raising behind her mask. "I wasn't expecting that many levels," she admitted, before leaping into the elevator shaft, whipping the air around her so that she was standing on a cloud within the shaft.

To Aqualad, who had never seen her use her powers, it was impressive to say the least.

She grinned at the three boys. "See you at the bottom!"

And then the girl on the cloud dropped down and out of sight faster than Robin could latch his grappler cable and swing down with Kid Flash and Aqualad sliding down on his line as it came to its end at sub-level twenty-six.

"What happened to SC?" Kid Flash asked, frowning.

"She must have gone right to the bottom," Robin said, hacking into the security system in order to allow the doors to open. He tapped his comlink in his ear. "SC, you there?"

"Sub-level fifty-two, how about you?" came her voice in his ear.

"Sub-level twenty-six," he returned with a snort. "Going to turn around and head up to us?"

"I'll meet up with you," Storm Chaser promised.

Amara shut off the comlink as she ripped off the covering at the side of the elevator doors, short-circuiting the controls on the doors to cause them to open.

She would probably join up with them at some point, but Amara had broken into Cadmus for a reason, and it wasn't to be a hero, it was to gather information.

However, she hadn't quite realized how curious Cadmus was until the doors opened and she looked inside with a pair of wide eyes. The long hallway was by far the strangest thing she'd ever seen. It looked like it was quite similar to a throat or a stomach with odd bulbs scattered around. Amara could safely say she'd never seen anything quite like it.

"You're not supposed to be here—"

The voice cut off sharply as Amara turned towards the speaker and they drew up short.

This woman was wearing a lab coat with the Cadmus symbol clear, emblazoned on her breast pocket. Her eyes were dark behind her glasses and her hair, as was her skin, and her kindly face was so very familiar to Amara.

"I know you," she said and the woman clutched her clipboard to her chest.

"Amara," she whispered, and it was a voice that Amara remembered very well from her childhood.

"Come on, Amara! Give me a jump, as high as you can!"

"Oh, sweetie, I know it hurts, but I promise it won't hurt so bad in a few minutes."

"One more minute of running, Amara! Yes! Good job!"

She wasn't sure how the woman had recognized her, but it could have been anything from the hair to the eyes, that was for sure.

"You gave me to Weather Wizard," Amara accused, her eyes flashing behind the mask.

The doctor grimaced, raising a hand to run her hand through her hair. "I did," she admitted with a regretful sigh. "I'd heard how Dr. Desmond was planning on upping the tests on you, putting you under more stress…but you were just a little girl…I thought at the very least your family could keep you safe. Then I heard what happened in Central City, what he did to you…I'm sorry."

Amara had gone through a period of thinking that the woman before her was mother. She was the only one in the facility that had spoken to her kindly, the only one that had truly treated her like the child she was. Of course, once she'd gotten a bit older, it was clear that the young doctor couldn't possibly be her mother; they shared no common characteristics or traits.

"Could've given me to my mother," Amara said shortly, looking around the hallway for a computer to hack her way into their files. "She actually seems to give a damn about me."

That caused confusion to warp across her face. "Your mother?" she said. "We never had that information."

"We'll see about that," Amara said slyly, moving past her towards where the computer was, and the doctor didn't even try to stop her as she tapped her fingers across the keyboard, watching as theAccess Denied transformed into Access Granted in a matter of seconds.

She did her best to ignore the woman standing beside her, clearly watching her hack into the database of the company she worked for.

Amara flicked through the various projects Cadmus had listed: Project Kr, Project Match, Project Replacement, Project Amara.

She clicked on Project Amara, completely disregarding the other projects as she pulled out her flash drive to start the download process.

"Shouldn't you be calling security on me, or something?" Amara asked her, arching an eyebrow towards the woman, glancing towards the name on her ID: Dr. Amanda Spence. "I am stealing company secrets, after all."

"Oh!" Dr. Spence appeared startled at the very idea of reporting her to security. "Well, no, I'm not, but you really should leave, Amara, Dr. Desmond would like nothing more than to have you back under his monitoring…you were his favorite project."

Amara's teeth gritted behind her lips. Of course she was. Who wouldn't love to find out what a child of a villain was capable of? To see if evil was in her blood or if it was a learned habit. That whole nature versus nurture idea.

The screen gave a sharp ding, reading: Download complete.

Amara pocketed the flash drive in one of the pockets on her tool belt. "Well, you should still probably get some distance from me before anyone sees you with me."

The elevator gave a small noise in response, signaling an approaching elevator, and with it, Dr. Spence lurched away from Amara and the meta-human pulled her batons out of their holsters, twisting them in her hands as she positioned herself in front of the doors, waiting for them to open.

Kid Flash could count on one hand the number of times he liked to see his cousin in full-blown atmo-kinetic mode, and this definitely wasn't one of those times.

Seeing Storm Chaser with her teeth bared, eyes glowing with electricity, and her batons throwing off sparks from the very same electricity was enough to make him reel backwards.

"Whoa! We're friendlies!"

The electricity faded and Storm Chaser relaxed her stance in surprise. "Oh, it's you," she said before looking a bit bemused, "weren't you three up on sub-level twenty-six?"

"Yup," Robin said, darting out of the elevator and into the hallway with the other two following after. "I don't suppose you've had a good look around?"

"Not really," Storm Chaser said, and she would have said more, but she was interrupted by a call of "Halt!"

And four head's swiveled towards what could easily be categorized as an alien with odd horns that glowed red as two barrels close to it floated into the air, flying towards the sidekicks who had to dive to avoid being hit. Robin was faster, managing to throw one of his batarangs forward as a distraction before all the sidekicks ran down the second hallway, devoid of anything trying to kill them.

Kid Flash rounded the corner first and by the time Storm Chaser had, Dr. Spence had been tripped onto the ground and Kid Flash was propping the door open with a nearby heavy cylinder.

"Come on!" Kid Flash called and Storm Chaser and Robin leapt through the opening first, being the smallest of the grouping before Kid Flash followed with Aqualad kicking out the cylinder, effectively shutting the doors, leaving them inside and the others outside.

"I disabled the door," Robin said a moment later, "we're safe."

"I think that might be a bit relative," Storm Chaser said looking over her cousin's shoulder as he pressed a button to illuminate the room and suddenly they were all staring at a slumbering body in what appeared to be a capsule of some kind. "That," she said, pointing at the body, "is kind of freaky, admit it."

The likeness between the boy in the tube and Superman could hardly be denied. They could have been father and son and Storm Chaser would have believed it. He was even wearing the same 'S' on his chest.

"Big K, little R! Of course!" Kid Flash smacked his forehead. "It's the atomic symbol for Krypton."

"I think it's safe to say that Project Kr is definitely really not legal," Storm Chaser muttered as Robin hacked into the computer for information.

"Weapon designation: Superboy, a clone force-grown in sixteen weeks? From DNA acquired from Superman."

"Stolen from Superman," Aqualad corrected.

And Storm Chaser couldn't deny that there were certain similarities between how she had come into existence and how 'Superboy' had been created.

"The solar suit allows him to absorb yellow sun radiation twenty-four-seven. And the creatures on his shoulders? Genomorph gnomes, telepathic, force-feeding him an education."

"And we can guess what else," Kid Flash said solemnly, "they're making a slave out of, well, Superman's son."

Storm Chaser's eyes shifted towards the creatures. "I think they did the same for me," she mused thoughtfully.


All three turned towards her in surprise and Storm Chaser realized she'd said that out loud and a faint pink brushed across her cheeks. "Well, I mean, I vaguely remember having something strange like that teaching me things without opening its mouth…but it was only day to day, nothing like this."

The horns of the genomorphs on Superboy's shoulder glowed red, but none of them seemed to notice.

"This is wrong," Kid Flash said.

"Caging someone has never been what anyone would consider right," Storm Chaser pointed out.

"We can't leave him like this," Robin agreed.

"Set him free," Aqualad said, nodding to Robin who drew his fingers over the holographic lever which caused the glass panels surrounding the boy to drop into the floor, causing steam to arise, making Storm Chaser think it might be the first time someone had opened the pod, since he'd been placed inside it.

For a moment nothing happened, but then he drew his hands into fists, his blue eyes snapping open just one second before he lurched forward to collide with Aqualad, knocking him to floor.

"Hey!" Storm Chaser snarled and a bolt of lightning struck Superboy in the back that knocked him off Aqualad, but it only served to make him angry and he lunged at her with a roar.

"He's crazy!" Kid Flash yelled, running between Storm Chaser and Superboy to grab his cousin out of the way, before a hit collided them painfully into the wall. Kid Flash took the brunt of the hit, his head knocking painfully enough to send him into unconsciousness.

Storm Chaser groaned as Robin leapt forward with an "I don't want to do this" as he tried a bomb of knockout gas, which hardly seemed to effect him, but then Aqualad moved forward, his water-bearer formed into a giant club, throwing Superboy back into the pod.

He was like a manic machine, Storm Chaser thought as she pulled herself out from under Kid Flash to pull herself to her feet to assist Aqualad –it looked as though they were the last two standing at this point.

She remembered Kid Flash mentioning something about how Aqualad could generate electricity, not to the same level as Storm Chaser, but enough for it to be shocking, so it wasn't a surprise when Aqualad grabbed Superboy from behind, lightning rippling off his body as Superboy yelled, and it only grew worse when Storm Chaser lurched forward to press her electrically charged hands against his chest, her teeth gritted together from the effort.

Based on his strength level, the best thing for them would have to be overload his system and knock him out, but neither of them correctly estimated his rage level, and the next thing Storm Chaser knew she was on her back, pain blooming at her side, her sight fading, barely catching how Aqualad was thrown into the ceiling before everything went black.

"I must say your return is most fortunate, it gives us the opportunity to start up Project Amara once more."

"Because that's what I'm here for, making your life easier."

When Amara had come to the boys were gone –it was likely that they were being held in a separate area of the facility– and her wrists were locked above her head, leaving her feet dangling in the air, and she found she was trapped in a pod not unlike the one that Superboy had been held in, and Amara was not pleased. And the fact that the metal her wrists were locked into was the least conductive of electricity only made that worse.

Amara was rage bubbling just under the surface of her skin, with eyes dark and every visible electronic short-circuiting in some way. Personally, Amara thought it would be a wiser course of action to run for the hills, especially considering she'd once caused a torrential downpour in the midst of a nightmare with very little training.

Dr. Spence had vanished, she'd probably been forced out after citing several valid protests against whatever reason Dr. Desmond had for locking her in her own separate and personal cage.

"I hope you know," Amara continued mildly, "my partner is a highly skilled archer, my friends consist of a hyperactive speedster that can easily run circles around you and an acrobat that likes blowing shit up, …and then, obviously, there's me, trained by Black Canary and an assassin…let's just say it's a very long list of why I'm going to make you regret stuffing me in this tube."

He ignored her and Amara's eyebrow twitched. If you asked her, that was a pretty impressive line-up, but, then again, Amara was hardly friends with anyone who wasn't trained in some kind of art or had a superpower of some kind.

"If I recall correctly, when you were younger, you had a rather debilitating fear of water," he continued and Amara froze, her heart beginning to beat frantically in her chest.

Amara wasn't afraid of many things, but Weather Wizard and drowning were definitely at the top of her list. It was a great source of irony for Amara, seeing as she loved swimming and owned a beach house, but electricity was killer underwater, and that was where she was the most helpless, the most useless. And without the rebreathers in her utility belt (where the fuck had he put it?), she was quite literally dead in the water.

"I'm going to kick your ass so hard when I get out of here," Amara said, struggling now to maintain her mildness, "that I'll damage your nervous system."

He should have taken her a bit more seriously, but instead, he grasped the lever and pulled it down.

Water flooded the bottom of Amara's tube and her fear jumped to new heights. She clenched her hands into fists where they were trapped in the metal, a small ripple of electricity coming off her as she drew her legs up to her chest before shooting them forward to batter against the glass.

It held against her assault, even as she dug her heels in, her panic mounting as the water rose and rose. In seconds it was up to her legs, making it harder for her to press her feet violently against the glass with the water slowing her down so much.

By the time it had reached her neck, Dr. Desmond had disappeared –no doubt because the boys were causing some trouble–, and by the time it'd overtaken her head, Amara had barely managed to gulp the last of her air, not even bothering to stop her attempts to shatter the glass, to no avail.

Her lungs were starting to burn with the desire for oxygen when the answer came from outside the pod. All Amara could see was a blur of dark skin and black hair, making a motion not unlike batting a ball, and then the glass trembled from the hit.

The second contact made small cracks appear, and the third causes the contained water to shoot out of the hole that was made.

Amara coughed up some water, looking at Dr. Spence in unabashed surprise, because in her hand was one of Amara's batons.

"I think we can both agree that there is something very different between murder and stress testing," Dr. Spence informed her dryly while Amara gaped. "Besides, you looked like you could use some help."

Amara wasn't one above asking for help when she clearly needed it. "That happens," she said dryly, taking in deep lungfuls of air like there was no tomorrow while Dr. Spence tapped a code into the computer to lower the glass and to unlock the binders at her wrists.

Oh, she was definitely going to kick Desmond's ass so hard!

The next time Robin saw Storm Chaser, she was puking her guts up and bracing her hands on her knees, breathing heavily.

"What happened to you?" he asked her, remembering what Dr. Desmond had said: "There will be no need to clone the girl when she was created by us, but the stress tests will be extensive." Robin didn't think he'd ever seen Kid Flash so angry.

Storm Chaser was completely soaked, with her grey hair plastered to her face and neck, looking far more ill than he had perhaps ever seen her.

"Drowning," Storm Chaser said, wiping her mouth on her arm, "ten out of ten would not recommend."

The next second Superboy, Kid Flash, and Aqualad were rushing forward with Kid Flash yanking Storm Chaser's arm to drag her along. "No time for explaining," he told her as she looked at Superboy with a bit of bemusement, "we've got a bazillion genomorphs on our tail!"

"What the fuck have you guys been doing?" was out of her mouth before she could stop it as they ran forward only to find their way blocked by genomorph trolls.

"Oh, you know," Kid Flash muttered, "causing chaos, what about you?"

"Crashing the mode, you know, the usual."

Superboy looked at them oddly, clearly not following the odd phrase that Storm Chaser used, but then he was punching his way through the trolls while the others maneuvered around them. He was very violent, slamming the trolls into the wall and ceiling.

"Superboy!" Aqualad called. "The goal is escape, not to bury ourselves here!"

A moment later there was an answering yell: "YOU WANT ESCAPE?!"

Then he threw one troll into the others, stopping them from coming after them.

"I think he might have a bit of an anger-management problem," Storm Chaser mentioned to Aqualad before they were all rushing towards the elevator shaft, Aqualad ripping the metal doors open and Storm Chaser ducking through first to stand on her cloud. She held a hand out to her cousin. "Need a lift?"

Kid Flash took her up on it, but Robin passed, much to the girl's amusement, opting for his own grappler, which Storm Chaser could understand, but personally she found a cloud was much better in that it didn't have a limited amount of cord.

Superboy, on the other hand, grabbed Aqualad's shoulders and leapt up into the elevator shaft, however his momentum failed and although he leapt high in a single leap and Robin was forced to throw up a batarang for Aqualad to grasp.

"Superman can fly," Storm Chaser heard the audible disappointment as she floated her personal cloud holding herself and Kid Flash up. "Why can't I fly?"

"Don't know," Kid Flash said, giving Superboy an easy smile, "but it looks like you can leap tall buildings in a single bound. Still cool."

"As much as this bromance is very sweet, we'll be bro-pancakes in five seconds!"

All the heads tilted upwards as the elevator made its down to where they were. "This'll have to be our exit," Robin agreed as Superboy punched out the doors of sub-level fifteen, just missing the elevator, but then genomorph-elves started popping up and they were forced to take a sharp left.

"Bro-pancakes, really?" Kid Flash sniggered beside Storm Chaser as she huffed, rolling her eyes.

"Maybe it has escaped your attention that I'm the only girl sidekick around, so the bromance will have to do," Storm Chaser retorted before they were led to a dead end and were forced to make their escape through the vent.

Kid Flash muttered something, before following her inside with muffled complaints.

"It must be a pity for you three," Storm Chaser sniggered behind Robin as she looked towards their larger companions (of course, Kid Flash wasn't much bigger than Robin, as speed was his skill, not strength), "fitting into vents."

She bumped her fist with Robin's while he re-routed the motion sensors, keeping the genomorph-elves from locking onto them, his program working its way through Cadmus' system when Robin kicked out the covering of the vent they came out of.

"All right," he said a moment later, grinning widely up at them as Aqualad finally removed himself from the vent, "the motion sensors have officially been hacked."

"Sweet!" Kid Flash cheered.

"Still plenty of them between us and out…"

"But I've finally got room to move," Kid Flash said with a grin, situating his goggles over his eyes and dashing off in a blur of yellow up the stairwell.

Storm Chaser had the easy task of following upwards on her cloud, but the others weren't so lucky.

"I'm Storm Chaser, by the way," she added to Superboy, "resident atmo-kinetic in the group, and Speedy's better half."

"Speedy?" Superboy repeated, not even breathless as he ran, his eyes flicking up to Kid Flash.

"He's Green Arrow's sidekick," she informed him, "archer, bad attitude, has a thing for an assassin, you know good stuff."

"He so does not," Robin piped up, startled into speaking and Storm Chaser grinned widely.

"He'd never tell."

"Are all the sidekicks friends?" Superboy asked instead.

"Well, there aren't exactly a lot of us," Storm Chaser admitted, pulling a genomorph-elf over the railing when it tried to follow them. "Kid Flash is my cousin, Robin's like my second best friend after Speedy, but Aqualad and I had only met once before today…water and lightning just don't mix."

She shuddered and Aqualad gave her a smile as Superboy derailed the stairs behind them as genomorph-elves attempted to follow after them.

And alarm sounded beyond them.

"Shit," Storm Chaser muttered when they'd finally caught up with Kid Flash, who'd evidently run headlong into the now-locked doors.

"We're cut off from the street," Aqualad remarked in irritation.

"Thanks," Kid Flash said dryly, still rubbing his head, "my head hadn't noticed."

The combined strength of Superboy and Aqualad had no effect, neither did a sharp bolt of electricity or Robin's hacking skills. They were forced to duck into the nearby room, which unfortunately was full of genomorph-elves and genomorph-trolls and genomorph-gnomes whose horns glowed red.

A loud buzzing rang in Storm Chaser's ears, and that was the last thing she remembered before she fainted.

Storm Chaser decided she really hated Dr. Desmond, apart from claiming her as Cadmus property and nearly killing her with a drowning stress test, he'd gone and downed some clearly untested experimental fluid that had altered his human biology, drastically. He appeared more like monster than man now, which was debatably what he'd looked like on the inside all along, which provided a bit of an issue for four sidekicks and one Superboy.

Storm Chaser growled as Superboy crashed into the wall as Robin tried exploding some batarangs, but they didn't quite do the trick, so she drew out the flexible silver whip that Black Canary had gifted to her but that she'd never been able to use.

She flicked her wrist and it shot out to wrap around Desmond-monster's arm and he gave a roar as she sent an painful electric charge along metallic tendrils, which was a great idea until the monster realized that grabbing the whip and swinging the smaller body that was holding it into the wall stopped the sensation.

Storm Chaser groaned, pulling her throbbing body out of the rubble in time to see at least three out of the four colliding with large pillars, leaving sizable cracks in them from the force of it, making the level above them shake, and that didn't bode well.

But Robin wasn't moving, his holographic computer open, which looked as good of a plan as any, especially when he called her and Kid Flash over to his side.

"This is a terrible idea," Storm Chaser said a moment later.

"I love it!" Kid Flash said, grinning widely, then he was dashing off with a yell of "Come and get me you incredible bulk!" and Storm Chaser could only sigh in exasperation before lifting her hands and aiming towards the closest pillar, firing off a bolt of lightning that ripped through it without much effort with Superboy and Aqualad doing the same to the ones Robin pointed out to them while Kid Flash kept up the distraction, leaving time for Aqualad to spray water from his water-bearers over the spot that Robin had indicated, only a second before Kid Flash skidded through it, leading Desmond-monster to that very spot.

It was only then that Storm Chaser was allowed to give in to her wish to electrocute him into unconsciousness, like she'd so wanted to previously.

Then everything exploded and Aqualad threw himself over Storm Chaser to cover her from falling debris and the only thought in her mind was: Oh, fuck, Dad's really gonna kill me for helping blow up a building.

Chapter Text

The first words out of Amara's mouth when Aqualad managed to push the debris off them were: "Fuck, Dad's going to kill me."

"Nah," Wally laughed, grinning and grimacing after high-fiving Robin. "I mean what's the worst that could happen?"

The crumbling remains of the building behind them seemed to beg to differ, but a moment later it didn't quite seem to matter because the Justice League arrived a moment later. The ones that could fly floated down from the sky, the Green Lanterns carrying a few more, and Amara could make out Dinah's frown from where she stood beside Aquaman. And then Flash zipped forward and Amara could see her father's lips drawn in a frown.

Amara's shoulders sagged as she grudgingly took the hand that Aqualad offered her.

"Oh, look," she said dryly, "my father's here to kill me."

Flash crossed his arms and Amara gave a regretful sigh, grimacing as Superboy stepped forward to show the S on his chest that was identical to the one on Superman's, and it only went downhill from there.

"Do you think they like making us sit and wait?"

"It's probably some kind of League thing, making people stew in their juices."

Several eyes turned towards Amara.

"What?" she demanded at the attention. "That is a phrase, you know."

"Like crash the mode?" Dick snorted.

Amara glowered, jabbing a finger in his direction. "Don't even get me started on you and your unwords."

Aqualad's lips formed into a smile briefly and Superboy's mouth twitched while Wally rolled his eyes up at the sky, the tension was shattered by a sharp ringtone piercing the night.

Amara pulled out her phone, scrutinizing the caller ID before realizing that the noise had jerked the attention of the contemplating members of the Justice League towards her.

"Chill," she said unperturbed, "it's just my girlfriend."

It was amusing to watch her father choke and listen to her cousin try to silence his laughter as she answered the phone.

"Hey, babe," she said, "no, I'm not doing anything, but I hear something crazy's going down on Pier 31 tonight, you in?"

Jade and Amara had created a series of key phrases that to anyone else wouldn't have seemed like a code, but to them meant something else entirely. The codes were simple, things that could be said in polite conversation and not be mistaken for anything else.

Any mention of a date at Pier 31 meant that a Kryptonian was close by and to monitor phrases accordingly.

"That would be amazing, but I've already got plans," Jade laughed from the other end and Amara couldn't but smile.

"Aw, you really know how to disappoint a girl," she said before shoving Wally away as he leaned close to her phone to listen in.

"But maybe we can meet up sometime this week," Jade offers slyly. "I'll even bring poppies."

Bringing poppies meant that there was something that Jade wanted Amara to look into.

"Sure," Amara said easily. "Can I call you tomorrow? It's kind of early and I've had a hell of a day."

"Sure," Jade said, slightly surprised by the exhaustion in her voice. "No rush, I've got my own life to get back to."

More like an assassination to complete.

"It's a date," Amara laughed, "see ya, babe!"

Then she glared at Dick and Wally in less than a second since hanging up on her call. "You two need a lesson in subtlety."

Dick had a listening device in his ear with Wally leaning close, and the sheepish grin on both of their faces was aggravating.

Aqualad and Superboy, wisely, chose to stay off to the side.

"Didn't know you were dating," Wally said innocently, leaning on one leg against his best friend, most of his weight bearing down in the Boy Wonder.

Amara smirked. "Oh, I'm not."

Then Dick swept Wally's feet out from under him and the red-head tumbled to the ground with a muffled complaint of "Why do you do this to me?"

Amara gave a simple shrug. "Kitty's great, but she's not really my type, besides, she's a little bit too old for me and has a thing for Speedy."

"Speedy?" Aqualad repeated a bit dubiously.

"I know, right? He's got a massive stick up his ass!"

Dick snorted and Wally clamored to his feet while Aqualad graced her with an amused glance, leaving Superboy in a bit of befuddlement; he was rather unfamiliar with half the things Amara was saying, so she couldn't blame him for his confusion.

But then he was distracted by Superman stepping forward awkwardly.

"We'll uh, we'll figure something out for you, the League will, I mean." Amara didn't think she'd ever seen the Kryptonian stumble over his words before. "For now…I'd better make sure they get that Blockbuster creature squared away."

And then he flew off, leaving them to the mercies of Batman and the other Leaguers, who appeared to have come to some kind of decision.

"Cadmus will be investigated, all fifty-two levels, but let's make one thing clear—" Batman said, only to be interrupted by a vexed Flash.

"You should have called," he said, and Amara got the feeling that it was mostly aimed towards her and a muscle jumped in her jaw.

"End results aside, we are not happy."

"Wow, what a surprise," Amara muttered and Dick elbowed her sharply in the side.

"You hacked Justice League systems, disobeyed direct orders, and endangered lives. You will not be doing this again," Batman finished swiftly.

"I am sorry," Aqualad said, taking a step forward, "but we will."

"Aqualad," Aquaman warned, "stand down."

"Apologies, my king," Aqualad said, raising a hand to brush against his chest, "but no. We did good work here tonight, the work you trained us to do. Together on our own we forged something powerful, important."

"If this is about your treatment at the Hall, the four of you—" Flash started to say.

"The five of us," Wally corrected with a vein of annoyance in his voice, "and it's not."

"What happened at the Hall?" Amara asked, her brow furrowed as she tugged lightly on Wally's wrist.

"I'll tell you later," he promised.

"Batman, we're ready to use what you taught us," Dick implored, "or why teach us at all?"

An unsettling silence settled over them.

Roy was speeding down the road without looking back, but he didn't need to, he'd passed beyond Gotham more than an hour ago and Batman and Robin were probably still in DC. His GPS gave a harsh beep, directing him to take the next left.

As far as he knew, Amara hadn't told anyone but him the location of her safe house, which was great because Roy needed a place to hide out for awhile and cool his head and all the other places were ones that Oliver knew how to find. But Amara had been very cautious since she'd returned from what Wally liked to call her 'Thievery Interlude', she hadn't spoken much about what had gone on during her time on the run, apart from what could have been ascertained via articles printed on Masquerade's thefts.

Sea Isle City wasn't quite what he'd been expecting; it was more out in the open and Roy had been expecting her to find some kind of storage container to call a safe house, but, then again, she did make a habit of surprising people.

Sea Isle City was the epitome of a sea-side city, you could smell it on the air, see it in the designs on the buildings.

Roy slowed his motorcycle just enough to allow him to gaze around without a fear of hitting something, of course the chances of that were rather slim, Sea Isle City wasn't very busy.

He took a right, moving steadily farther out of town, taking a winding road until he came to where the beach houses were located, then he had to arch an eyebrow as he came to a stop at the coordinates that Amara had given him.

It was…not at all what he was expecting.

Roy shook his head, parking his motorcycle under the stilts that the beach house was balanced on top of before taking the steps two at a time until he rested on the porch, pulling out his phone as he took in the hanging flower basket close to the door holding flowers that were red and blue and violet.

I keep the extra key in the flower pot, Amara's text had told him, but now that Roy could see the flower pot, it was like she loved to make him suffer, which was rather likely.

Curled around the pot was poison ivy, ensuring that the person who tried to dig around inside it for the key would get a bad case of itching.

But Roy was prepared (really, he'd been Amara's partner for far too long), and he'd brought a strong magnet with him, moving the cylinder carefully over the flower basket, carefully avoiding the poison ivy until the key burrowed out of the soil to spring up to the magnet.

Roy shook his head, flicking the dirt off as he thumbed Amara's speed-dial on his phone.

"You're a sadist," he told her one there was a click on the other end from her picking up.

Amara only laughed, the sound turning into a bit of static on the other end. "I guess you got the key, then," she said, clearly amused.

"You need counseling," he replied shortly, twisting the key in the door.

"Your future step-mom is my counselor," Amara pointed out and he could just imagine her grinning widely as he gagged.

"I try not to think about that," he said as he flicked on the light, allowing him to look upon the first level of the safe house. "And you call this a safe house, Amy? It's way too open."

Her voice was entirely too smug when she responded. "Only the part that you can see."

Roy rolled his eyes at the ceiling.

"Um, Roy, I know I said that you could use the safe house whenever you wanted but the others said that you stormed off after that whole initiation thing with the League…"

Her hesitance was rather clear and she probably didn't want to press him too much, but if there was one thing Amara was known for, it was searching for the truth.

"I should've just blown them off like you," he said with a long sigh, "it was a complete waste of time. Is that why you didn't want to go?"

"Well, I've never been one of those kinds of people that likes to be in front of a camera," Amara acquiesced. "I guess I've gotten too used to being in the shadows…I'd never really cared about public opinion."

Roy's lips thinned. As Oracle she had operated unseen in the background and Masquerade had a talent for disappearing without a trace, but Storm Chaser's uniform had been modeled slightly after Black Canary's, it wouldn't look amiss in the darkness of Star City.

"Roy, are you all right?" she asked, concern coloring her voice.

"I'm fine," he said, "Ollie and I just had another fight, but, you know, that's not all that surprising."

Amara said nothing to that, but there wasn't really all that much that she could say; she was rather familiar with his fights with his adoptive father.

"Want any company?" she asked him after a moment. "I've got tomorrow off and Dad and Mom have to go to work early tomorrow."

He arched an eyebrow. "Your dad would let you come to stay at your safe house with me being the only other one present?" That was dubious at best. Flash was extremely protective of his daughter.

"You and Wally are the only ones," Amara informed him cheerfully. "I mean, he likes Richard and all, but I don't think he'd trust him to sleep in the same house as me, I'm so impressionable, you know."

There was a noise in the background as they both laughed and Roy could hear Amara say: "You know I love you, babe."

"He's bright red, it's pretty impressive," Amara told him a moment later, "Ow, ow! Chill!"

Roy got the feeling that Dick was elbowing her in the side; that kid did have sharp elbows.

"Dad says he's fine with me staying at the safe house, but he really wants to know where it is, and that's not happening."

Roy smirked.

"Your dad wants to know how you're doing, too," Amara added, and the smirk fell.

"Well, you tell him that he can—" he snapped angrily before Amara cut him off.

"Whoa, calm down," Amara said, "I told him you weren't really feeling like talking."

That was putting it mildly.

"I'll be over soon," Amara promised. "You had dinner yet because I haven't and I've been tied up, and I mean that literally."

Roy's brow furrowed. "Um, no, I haven't really eaten –tied up? What d'you mean tied up?"

"I'll, um, tell you when I get there," Amara said, sounding flustered, which was a first; Roy couldn't remember a time when Amara was flustered.

Amara shifted on her feet awkwardly as she stood before her father and he didn't look pleased, which was saying something because his cowl was mostly covering his face.

"Your mother was under the impression that you were with me and I was under the impression that you were with Speedy," he said with a layer in his voice that commanded an answer.

Amara's insides tied into knots, but she couldn't bring herself to tell him the truth, to tell him how she'd set the first fire to sneak into Cadmus to find out more about her mother, and the weight of the flash drive in her pocket was like lead.

"I doing some research for a client," she said, the lie falling easily from her lips.

"A client," Barry repeated, the cowl rippling in his confusion.

"I know that you and Mom don't like me being involved in the BlackNet—"

"Amara," her father muttered tiredly, drawing a hand up pinch the bridge of his nose, "we've talked about this."

"I know that you think BlackNet is just all bad, but it's not," Amara said stubbornly, crossing her arms, "I help people, and that's no different than dressing up and running around firing lightning bolts out of my eyes." Her eyes glowed briefly with lightning for emphasis, which would be a bit more terrifying if Barry wasn't so used to it.

"And who were you helping this time?" he asked with strained patience.

Amara's green eyes narrowed like she was trying to ascertain if he honestly wanted to know, giving her only a split second to defeat onto one of the 'cases' she had solved that had been requested to Oracle through Limbo.

"There was a corrupt cop who'd shot an innocent by-stander and then had him convicted of murder while he was strapped to a hospital bed in recovery."

The innocent by-stander was a Nigerian exchange student who had plans of being a doctor. The request had come from his sister who was crippling under the hospital bills and the ones the lawyer had heaped on top.

Sadly, it wasn't that difficult to find proof that the cop was guilty. Amara had found far too many cases on BlackNet concerning cop corruption or brutality and it was giving her a rather morbid view on the entire establishment.

"Can I go hang out with Roy now?" Amara asked, teetering back and forth on her feet, eager to leave.

They were the last ones left. Batman and Robin had departed rather soon after it was decided that the League would come to a decision about the five of them in three days, which seemed like it was just a way to draw out the time and make them suffer, and Aqualad had left with Aquaman, leaving Wally to take Superboy home with him (Wally looked particularly ecstatic).

"I'm not happy about this," Barry told her and Amara shrugged helplessly.

"I got my stubbornness from you," she pointed out with a grin before leaping onto a cloud and vaulting up towards the sky.

"You'll keep an eye on her?" Barry asked Dinah as she stepped forward, clearly waiting until they were the last ones left to speak; she had sunk into the shadows, blending in so well that Barry had almost forgotten she was there.

Dinah gave a light chuckle that echoed. "To be perfectly honest, I'm not entirely sure that your daughter really needs any eyes on her," she said plainly, "but she does make a habit of trying to be everywhere at once."

He gave an exasperated shake of his head. "It wouldn't kill her to slow down."

"Says the speedster," Dinah smirked. "Don't worry about it, it's probably just something she got used to doing when she was on her own, keeping busy and helping people in the best way she knows, maybe you just need to let her ease back into her old life slowly."

"She wants to keep the money she stole," Barry confided.

"Stole or was paid?" Dinah questioned instead and he looked to her, making her draw her hands up in the typical surrender sign. "Hey, I'm not saying I agree, but the kid's got a safe house that no one –save Speedy– knows the location of, she has at least one alias with a passport to go with, and enough money to set her for a few years at least…I'm saying she's got a unique way of viewing the world and in her mind that's her money, rightfully, and if she says she wants to put it towards college, is that really so bad?"

"It bothers me where the money came from," Barry admitted.

"Then ask her," Dinah suggested. "Maybe she'll tell you, maybe she won't, but you've got to open that line of communication yourself, Barry."

And then she took off, running to meet Oliver who was waiting for her at the street corner, leaving Barry to his thoughts.

Roy couldn't say he was really surprised when Amara showed up almost half an hour after the call had ended sporting a head of red curls.

"I liked the black better," he called from the living room as Amara dropped her bag over a chair in the kitchen before opening the cupboard doors to look for something to eat.

"Fuck you, Harper," Amara retorted. "Okay, there's a lot of ramen noodles, you up for that?"

"I honestly don't care," Roy groaned, turning off the TV as Amara grabbed two packages out and filled a pot with water to boil before flipping over the couch to sit beside him. "You look like shit," he mentioned, taking note of how utterly exhausted she looked.

"Oh, you know, it's an off day when someone doesn't try to kill me via drowning," Amara said giving a wide yawn and flopping back against the cushions.

"Hey." Roy poked her in the knee. "Spill."

"You've got to promise you won't tell anyone this first bit, okay?" Amara asked, sitting up to look him seriously in the eye and Roy looked at her oddly.

"You're not mixed up in something illegal again, are you?" he asked her dubiously.

"No," Amara retorted quickly before faltering, "well, maybe, I'm not really sure."

The great thing about Roy was that he didn't question it too much, only making a vague gesture with his hand clearly, meaning for her to continue.

"I've been doing some research into my mother," Amara told him, curling herself against the cushions to tilt her head back to look at the ceiling. "The genetics lab at the top of my list was Project Cadmus, so I decided to have a look around, see if I could find anything about Project Amara." Her mouth said 'Project Amara' like the words themselves were bitter and Roy twisted to arch an eyebrow towards her.

"Project Amara?" he repeated. "Was that what your development was called?"

"Like I was some sort of lab rat," Amara agreed, her shoulders slumping just slightly. "I still had my ID bracelet from back then, you know, before Weather Wizard had me foisted onto him, and the bracelet had Cadmus' symbol so they had to be involved in some way…so I decided to start a small fire."

"A small fire?" Roy repeated blankly. "You started a small fire?"

"Well, I started one, and then this genomorph-goblin started another one, and that's when it got the League's attention, but the League had to help on a blotting out the sun mission, apparently, so Aqualad, KF, and Robin rushed over to Cadmus to help where they found me trying to hack them—"

"I ditch for a few hours and I swear I miss out on so much," Roy complained under his breath, but Amara ignored him.

"But there was a file on me there," she told him. "Project Amara. I barely had time to download it before the others showed up, and then we were all distracted by Superboy—"

"Superboy?" Roy asked in confusion. "Who's Superboy?"

"He's the clone of Superman, weird, huh?"

Roy was staring at her like he'd never quite seen anything like her, and Amara couldn't blame him; it was a hard thought to wrap your head around.

"I got separated from the others by Doctor Desmond," Amara continued, "I woke up in a pod and he decided to try a stress test out on me, which involved slowly filling that pod with water."

Amara grimaced and gave a shudder. "I'm not entirely sure that he wasn't trying to kill me, but I guess I'll never know now."

"He's dead?"

"Monster-ified," Amara corrected, frowning thoughtfully, "some kind of solution they were synthesizing underneath Cadmus, I'm not entirely sure what it's all about, but I did manage to snag a sample to test."

"Does Bats know about that?" Roy smirked.

"What Bats doesn't know won't hurt him," Amara grinned, "besides, if it amounts to nothing, then I won't have wasted his time, so it's a win-win."

But Amara couldn't deny that it felt nice to hold the cards for once. She had nothing against the League, not really, but she always had the feeling that Batman always hid far more than he told.

"I will never understand your logic," Roy sighed and the water in the pan in the kitchen began to boil and Amara beamed.

"That's the beauty of it all," she laughed before pulling herself upright to add the noodles to the water.
"It doesn't have to be logical."

And Roy could only cast her a vaguely amused glance in return.

Chapter Text

Amara stirred the pancake mix absently with one hand, the other keeping her phone secured to her ear. A glance back to the living room told her that Roy was still fast asleep, his limbs splayed and his mouth gaping unattractively (Amara had photographic evidence if she ever needed blackmail material).

"Don't worry, no one thinks we're dating," Amara said with a light snigger, "the look on my dad's face was hilarious, but it was funnier when Robin tripped my cousin and he face-planted."

"Maybe you should have just said you're dating an assassin," Jade snorted from the end.

Amara rolled her eyes. "Because that would have gone over so well."

If nothing else, Jade was at least good for a laugh.

"Besides, I'm not really the dating type," Amara added, pouring a choice amount of the mixture into the pan on the stove. "You said you had a job for me yesterday, what is it?"

Jade made a sound on the other end that sounded distinctly like an agreeable hum. "I have apparently made myself your middle man, as amusing as that is."

"Apparently?" Amara chuckled, flipping the pancake before depositing it on the growing pile.

"It's not exactly good business for an assassin to be working with a thief."

"Are you kidding? Its great business," Amara smirked. "We should call ourselves Kill n' Snatch."

"You're a menace to society," Jade informed her wryly, but Amara knew that she was smiling, but she was briefly distracted by the sound of feet padding over tile and the scrape of the bar chair against the floor as Roy pulled a seat out to collapse into.

"Funnily enough, you're not the first person who's thought that about me," Amara said before pressing the phone against her chest to muffle the sound from her end as she turned towards Roy.

He was yawning widely and his bright hair was sticking up in several directions.

"Want some pancakes, babe?" she asked and Roy's eyebrow twitched only slightly at the bland endearment.

"Chocolate chip?" he surmised as Amara moved the plate over to the counter for him to see it a bit better, still waiting on the last pancake to cook.

"Is there any other?" she snorted before lifting the phone back to her ear as Roy took the three warmest ones with a grateful glance towards her that made her smile.

"Yeah, I'm still here," she said. "What kind of case is it?"


Amara rolled her eyes. "That was a bit obvious, Jade, I was talking about the kind of thievery you needed me for."

Roy arched an eyebrow towards her before lifting and biting into his pancake, the barbarian. He snorted at the scandalized expression Amara threw towards him (everyone knew that chocolate chip pancakes were best served with chocolate syrup and powdered sugar).

"An ancient Egyptian artifact that belongs to my employer," Jade said simply, perhaps a bit too simply.

Amara narrowed her eyes suspiciously. "Send me the files and I'll look into it."

"You're a menace that I love."

"I'm sure that's how your sister feels," Amara said, rolling her eyes for good measure. "Goodbye, Jade."

And then she turned back to Roy, scowling at him. "Come on, Roy," she griped, "chocolate syrup! Use it!"

"You would overdose on chocolate syrup if you could," Roy snorted and ignored her complaints, forcing the girl to rifle through the fridge for some before dumping its contents onto her pancakes.

"How long have you been up?" he asked her, scrutinizing the window that allowed them to see the rolling waves and the clear blue sky past the shoreline.

"Long enough to make breakfast," Amara said, "you're welcome, by the way."

A flush crept up his neck as he swallowed thickly. "Um, thank you," he said to appease her, and it worked. "I thought you hung up that mask?"

"Not really," Amara muttered around her piece of pancake, chewing viciously before swallowing. "I haven't really stopped being Oracle, at least, not on BlackNet, and Masquerade is technically the one who does all the heavy lifting for Oracle, so no, I haven't really hung up that mask."

The truth was, she didn't even know if she wanted to. Masquerade presented different opportunities than Storm Chaser, most predominantly, freedom. Masquerade wasn't anyone's partner –barring the rare occasions that she found herself working with Cheshire–, she didn't answer to anyone but herself. It had been…nice.

"Is Jade a contact of yours?" Roy asked, quirking an eyebrow. "I didn't realize you and Cheshire were so close…you know, since she kidnapped you."

Amara froze, a grimace forming on her lips at how he recognized the name. "Um, well, things kind of happened…"

It was impressive how unimpressed Roy could look without hardly moving and Amara dearly wished she could replicate it (oh well, another day).

"I lied about the kidnapping thing," she finally admitted, a bit embarrassed.

"We kind of figured that out back when you ran off," Roy mentioned blandly.

"Oh," Amara said intelligently, her brow furrowing. "Well, I knew how it would look, besides, it wasn't an outright lie, I mean, technically she did bully me for information…maybe not quite bully, but you get my drift."

"Sure," Roy snorted, "let's go with that."

Amara ignored him. "I want to tell you something," she said seriously.

Roy stood briefly pour himself a cup of milk from where the jug was sitting on the counter. "Tell me what?" he asked, only really half-listening because there was a twittering bird close to the window that he really wanted to shoot.

"I want to tell you about what I was up to while I was gone."

Roy performed a glorious spit take, splattering the counter with milk that made Amara glare as her phone buzzed.

"You're cleaning that up," she said in a voice that wasn't to be argued with before answering the phone. "Hi, Mom."

"Amy," her mother gave a breathy laugh that said she wasn't entirely that Amara would pick up the phone, "I thought you might still be asleep."

"Nah," Amara said, glancing towards the clock. It was early, sure, but not too early. "I've been up for about an hour. Roy and I're having pancakes."

"That sounds exciting," her mother said, but Amara could tell she didn't really care about that.

"I'm sorry I didn't tell you where I was," Amara said, stepping out of the kitchen and away from Roy, who allowed her the privacy of her phone call while busily cleaning up the mess he'd made.

Iris gave a sigh on the other end. "Sweetheart, you know you don't have to lie to us, don't you?"

"Sorry," Amara repeated, this time with a grimace. "Old habits, I guess."

Lying and speaking in code was practically a second language to her now, and she knew better than most that lies were better when you wanted to keep others off your tail. There was a reason Masquerade was thought to be a Russian immigrant, and that was no accident.

"I know you and Dad don't like it when I'm involved with BlackNet," she added for good measure.

"We don't," Iris admitted, "but Amy, honey, we do want to understand, you know that don't you? And we love you no matter what."

The admission was so heartfelt that Amara had to raise a hand to her eyes, rubbing at them.

"I know," she said, her voice wobbly, and for a single moment she considered telling her mother, she considered telling her she hadn't actually been meeting with a BlackNet client, she considered telling her about the first fire at Project Cadmus that she'd started, she considered telling her about the information she'd downloaded from the lab. But Amara did none of those things. "BlackNet is difficult and confusing and I know that Dad thinks it's all bad, but it's not. Limbo is the only online circle I stay in, Mom, and it's about helping people."

"I know," Iris said, but Amara had to wonder if she really did, or if she was just saying that to appease her daughter. "But maybe tonight you can explain to your father and I what it really is to you."

Amara blinked in surprise. "You really want to know?" she asked in blank surprise.

"Yes," her mother's single word came across as a laugh. "Is that really so surprising?"

"Well, the internet's underground isn't exactly easy to wrap your head around," Amara said, scratching her own.

"If you want to tell us, though, we're here to listen," Iris said and Amara swallowed.

"Okay," she said before bidding her mother goodbye and hanging up and looking at Roy. "I hope you don't have anywhere to be, because this is going to take awhile."

"It's a bit small."

Amara shrugged in a careless manner as she dropped the last few rungs on the ladder to rest her feet on the floor of what she called 'the lair'. "I'm having some guys come in in a few weeks to make it bigger, don't ask me how, that's not my expertise."

The set-up she had included several computer screens around a desk with a mannequin holding her outfit as Masquerade in the far corner.

"I think that make who you are a bit obvious," he said after a short pause.

Amara rolled her eyes, clearly amused. "All that'll be in storage by then, don't worry."

Roy glanced at her out of the corner of his eye and tried to remember the girl he'd first met when she was only ten, the girl he had shamelessly considered to be a bright storm cloud. It was so hard to consider her to be that girl when she'd come so far and changed so much.

"You didn't have to tell me all that," he said when she caught him looking at her, her own brow furrowing just slightly.

"I know," she said.

"You could have told Wally, or Dick—"

"You're the one I trust the most," Amara said, her hip bumping against his, jostling him just slightly. "Wally and Richard aren't my partner, you are."

The sincerity in her eyes was almost painful to look at, but it still filled him with warmth, the idea that she trusted him the most out of everyone she knew, more than Black Canary and more than Flash.

"Besides," Amara said, running a hand through her hair, "the Justice League has encrypted files on me that I can't hack and…"

She bit her lip, falling silent, but Roy could guess her line of thinking. She thought it was likely that the League knew the identity of her mother and were just keeping that information to themselves, and, if that was true, it was very troubling, because if that was true then it was likely that her mother was incredibly dangerous.

"I'd like to do my own investigating for a change," Amara said instead, "besides, I've still got all those blood vials to process for that genetics project I'm doing."

"Didn't you already turn that in?" Roy asked, briefly thrown.

"I got an A on that bad boy," Amara scoffed, waving a hand carelessly, "this is that other project, the one I'm doing on the differences between meta-human heroes and normal ones, remember?"

Roy blinked. He'd almost completely forgotten about that one. "I thought you got bored of that," he said, both eyebrows raising, especially when she glared, stabbing her finger against his side angrily.

"Bored? With genetics?" she demanded, her eyes a blazing green fire. "Are you insane? Who could possibly be bored with genetics, Roy?"

Exasperated didn't even begin to cover Roy's feelings on the subject.

"Sit down, my uninformed students, Dr. Amara Allen is going to fill you in on some things that have clearly gone over your heads."

Amara had a pointer in her hand and a whiteboard behind her and Iris found that she couldn't even come close to keeping a straight face for her daughter, Barry was faring better, but his lips were twitching.

He was trying Dinah's way, an open communication, and it was true that he knew very little apart from the basics of the network Amara was involved in.

"Mom," Amara whined, stamping her foot lightly, looking very put upon, "I'm trying to be serious!"

She wasn't trying very hard, that much was obvious.

"Where did you even get that whiteboard?" her father asked and Amara gave him a look that clearly said she thought that was the stupidest question she'd ever heard.

"Richard, obviously," she said, unperturbed, "it's only a borrow, though, I've got to give it back in a few days."

Iris wiped tears from her eyes, apparently recovered, apologizing when Amara glowered at her, smacking her pointer stick into her palm like some old fashioned teacher.

"Now, back to the class!" Amara declared dramatically and Iris tried not to break out into laughter once again at the absurdity of the role reversal, but then Amara turned away to scrawl in black marker across the board: BlackNet.

"The BlackNet!" Amara declared with an aggressive underline. "Also known as the internet's underground cesspool of chaos and criminals wrapping into a complicated ball."

Barry arched an eyebrow. "I thought you were going with the opposite, Amy."

"Shh!" Amara hissed suddenly, the pointer stick shooting out to rap against his knees, which wasn't nearly as painful as it looked, but Barry was good at exaggerating. "I'm teaching here, and it's some very serious business!"

Amara gave a cough to clear her throat that she didn't really need. "All right, BlackNet, so there are different 'circles' of the BlackNet, and since it's based on Dante's Inferno –which I will never again read, thank you English class–"

Iris couldn't help but snort at that.

"Circles two through nine are the ones to generally stay away from, they're the ones more related to committing serious crimes, starting with the worst at level nine and the least worst at level two. Yours truly works in level one, Limbo." Amara made a gesture towards herself that wasn't really necessary as she wrote out Limbo in clear letters under BlackNet.

"Limbo is where people go if they have problems that they need fixing that aren't quite so criminal in nature, like men, women, and children trying to escape an abusive home, items that have been taken illegally from their owners even though the ones taking them claim not to have them and the owners wanting their items back, proof that crimes were committed even after they're swept under the rug, and that's where Oracle works."

Amara circled Oracle no less than three times. "You don't ask Oracle to help you, but I flag certain key phrases and look over potential clients needs and their stories, so I'm used to dealing with a certain type of people."

"And they pay you a lot? Is that where all that money came from?" Barry asked, trying to be open-minded but knowing he was coming off slightly judgmental if the glower she threw towards him was any indication.

"Generally, it depends on the type of job and what the person wants to barter," Amara said, running a hand through her hair, the shoulder of her loose arm rising and falling in a shrug. "Sometimes I just get a few dollars and a favor or two –once I got some really amazing cookies, no lie—"

Iris snorted.

"Some of the money did come from Masquerade's conquests," Amara admitted, "but Oracle's business on BlackNet is quite lucrative, I won't lie, and some of my clients are very wealthy, but they're the ones that pick the price, I stay away from that. I just make sure I can help them." Amara gave a helpless shrug. "It doesn't sound all that bad, does it?"

The idea of Amara dealing with the BlackNet wasn't nearly so terrible as Barry had originally thought, that much was rather clear, but it still made him so uncomfortable.

But he said: "No, it doesn't."

The lie made Amara smile and made his insides coil and churn.

Jade had been very odd about the request to recover an Ancient Egyptian artifact, but Amara still looked over the files when Jade sent them to her.

"What do you think?" Jade asked her without preamble when Amara called her back about it.

"Difficult but manageable," Amara conceded, looking around the med-lab of the Cave where Batman had outfitted several computers for Oracle's use back when Amara was wheel-chair-bound. "I'm leaving in an hour to swipe it."

Her phone gave a sharp beep and she pulled it back to look at the message Roy had sent her with a frown. "Sorry," she mentioned to Jade, "Speedy sent me a text."

"Is he still hanging 'round your safe-house?" Jade asked and it almost impressive how her tone had become so sultry at the mention of Roy (and Amara would be relaying that to the red-head).

"Well, he and GA are fighting again," Amara muttered, "so it's kind of the only place he can really hide out without his mentor finding him, so yeah…where do you want to meet when I've got it?"

"I'll send you the coordinates," Jade said, and that was that, and an hour later Masquerade's heels were clicking on the tiled floor as she swung the bank's master key ring around on her finger, humming a soft tune.

There was no one left in Gotham National Bank and it had been closed up for the night, but the twenty-four hour surveillance had proved difficult to get around. Luckily, Amara had some skill in hacking, so it wasn't too hard to make it look like all was well when she snuck in. It was harder to get the bank's master key and Amara resolved to only break into people's houses if it was necessary.

The darkened building might have proven difficult to walk through on heels without proper night-vision, but Amara's golden mask was specially made, just like her goggles on her Storm Chaser mask were.

Amara twisted one key into the lock that kept a descending door of long rails protecting the long row of safety deposit boxes, before ducking under it to search the numbered boxes for one safety deposit box in particular.

She pursed her lips before taking the master key to the appropriate safety deposit box and twisting it before extending her hand to focus the air inside the second lock that was made to fit the owner of the box's key. Safety deposit box locks were harder, they were designed to keep valuables safe.

It took a full minute for the pins to click correctly for Amara to open the door and pull out the box, ripping over the box's lid to examine the single item within in a bit of surprise.

It was a scarab made of lapis lazuli, more well preserved than anything Amara had seen in the Central City museum when she'd gone with Wally, and it was heavy in her hand when she lifted it.

It was an odd thing to have her steal, though.

It took some time to return the keys to the bank manager's house and then she waited on a rooftop for Jade to show up.

It was almost two in the morning and Amara was getting a little anxious, because it took time for her to get from Gotham to Sea Isle City to replace her Masquerade outfit with normal clothes and then fly back to Gotham to take a zeta-tube to Central City, and Amara knew something was off when several figures appeared out of the darkness but still hidden in the shadows.

Her batons were out in seconds, dropping into a lethal crouch, when a smooth voice cut through the silence. "Please, there is no need for weapons."

Then the speaker stepped forward and Amara almost dropped them, her red-painted lips parting in surprise as she stared at him. His hair was dark and streaked with grey, his moustache much the same, and he was tall, holding himself in a regal manner.

But Amara had seen the image of Ra's al Ghul far too many times to not recognize him on sight.

"Ra's al Ghul, ze Demon's Head," she hardly dared to breathe, slipping back into the accent she had taken when she'd first donned the crimson. The head of the League of Shadows, of which Jade was a part of.

She was going to kill Jade.

"It's an old name," Ra's al Ghul said.

"You are old," Amara pointed out blandly, forcing herself not to move, not to even take a step back. "I presume you vant ze scarab, yes?"

His eyes were cold and calculating when she returned the batons to her side to place the scarab in his waiting palm.

He examined it for a moment and then his eyes returned to her. "You know, Masquerade," he said, her name curling off his tongue in a way that Amara didn't like, "some of my assassins first started as thieves."

Shock jolted through her body and for a moment Amara thought she'd maybe heard wrong or maybe made a wrong assumption.

It took a moment for her get her tongue functioning and then she said: "No zank you, once vas more zan enough."

And it was.

Then Amara turned to make a jump from one roof to the next only to freeze at his next words.

"We will see."

Amara swallowed, wavering faintly before making the jump and disappearing from view, her heart hammering in her chest.

"You look terrible," was the first thing out of Wally's mouth when he saw his cousin before they were to take the zeta-tube in Central City to the Cave to meet with the other sidekicks and a few select Justice League members. Superboy was tagging along, having been staying with Wally while the JL was coming to a decision about them.

"Never steal anything for Ra's al Ghul," Amara said tiredly, rubbing at her eyes. "Never, Wally."

"Ooh! You stole something for Ra's? How'd it go?" Wally's eyes were bright and gleaming.

"Easy," Amara moaned, "and difficult, I think he's trying to recruit me into his ranks."

Wally balked at her and Amara hummed in agreement to the look. "He what?"

"He said something about some of his assassins starting as thieves and killing is not my thing, Wally, killing is so far from my thing."

Wally took her hand, squeezing it and swinging it for good measure. He didn't say anything, but Amara felt she liked it better that way.

"Anyways," she said, "I heard you and Superboy had a small run-in."

She turned to look at Superboy who gave her a small shrug. "It wasn't too difficult," he said.

Amara smirked. "Just you wait." And then she stepped into the zeta-tube.

"Recognize: Storm Chaser –B00, Kid Flash –B03, Superboy –B04."

They stepped out into the Cave and Amara had to gape a little. The Cave had always been slightly in disrepair through the whole time that Amara had been using it, but now it looked to be in pristine condition with a few Green Lanterns flying around working out a few last minute touches.

"Holy shit," Amara said before she could stop herself, "Wally, look!"

She was tugging so strongly on his arm while bouncing on the balls of her feet that Wally was half-sure she was going to yank his arm out of its socket.

"Ow, ow, Amy!" he complained as Aqualad and Dick stepped forward to join them. "Calm down!"

But Amara ignored him, looking around in wonder. "But it's so perfect! I could have used this back when I was ten, you know!"

Dinah gave a soft chuckle and Flash gave a wry smile.

"This cave was the original secret sanctuary of the Justice League," Batman explained in all business to the ones that had never been inside, or had only been inside briefly (which was basically everyone but Amara). "We're calling it into service again, since you five are determined to stay together and fight the good fight, you'll do it on League terms."

Amara arched an eyebrow and she could have sworn the pupil-less lenses of Batman's cowl lingered on her.

"Red Tornado volunteered to live here and be your supervisor, Black Canary's in charge of training—"

"All right!" Amara grinned, raising her fist to bump Dinah's and her mentor gave her a soft chuckle before complying.

"I will deploy you on missions," Batman finished, ignoring the interruption.

"Real missions?" Dick asked doubtfully, his sunglasses slipping down his nose.

"Yes," Batman said, "but covert."

"The League will still handle the obvious stuff," Flash said from where he was standing to Wally and Amara's backs (Amara was sure that was intentional), tapping a finger against the lightning bolt symbol on his chest. "There's a reason we have these big targets on our chests."

Amara was dubious. "I thought it was because you couldn't come up with a good symbol for speed."

Sniggers erupted between Dick and Wally, and even Aqualad and Superboy appeared amused before Flash grabbed his daughter and gave her a noogie so fast she couldn't get away.

"Ow, ow, ow, Dad!" Amara complained as she dislodged herself, trying to straighten her hair to little avail, scowling at the speedster.

Aquaman cleared his throat for good measure and the noise from the Allens subsided. "But Cadmus proves that the bad guys are getting smarter. Batman needs a team that can operate on the sly."

"The six of you will be that team," Batman said.

"Cool!" Dick said, grinning widely before faltering in confusion. "Wait, six?"

Batman was looking over their shoulders and they all whipped around to see Martian Manhunter moving towards them with a much shorter shadow in a similar outfit, green skin, brown eyes, and auburn hair. Amara's eyebrows rose high on her forehead.

"This is the Martian Manhunter's niece, Miss Martian," Batman said.

"Hi," Miss Martian said, only slightly awkward.


"Calm down, Amy," Dick said, reeling back as Amara punched her hands into the air.

"You know what, no!" Amara said, jabbing a finger towards the Boy Wonder. "I've been the only girl sidekick for almost three years! Oh, this is great!"

Miss Martian beamed.

Chapter Text

Everything was signed, Pamela and Harley had bought the house. It was a really nice house, all things considered, nothing but wildlife in any direction.

It was in Gotham, of course, as the city was still Harley's home and would be Pamela's again once she moved back with her, but it was on the outskirts of the city where it seemed to be untouched by the corruption that seeped into Gotham's underbelly.

But Pamela needed area for her plants to grow, where the sunlight was clear and beamed down on them from the sky.

Pamela was always in a better mood when it was sunny, but that had to do with, in part, her weakness to darkness from her chloro-kinesis.

But there was also something almost humorous about the whole situation, because while Harley and Pamela had gotten a bit domestic as their relationship had progressed, neither had ever thought they'd be the type to actually get a house together, but here they were. So much had changed since Pamela had left to go to Central City, since she'd found out that she had a daughter.

Most of the pictures on Pamela's phone were taken with Amara, with both green-eyed females grinning widely at the camera. Harley doubted that Pamela had told Amara the truth yet, but she knew that she would, after all, there was a room being set up in the house meant for the tempestuous meta-human. It was large and spacious, probably bigger than the room at her house, perfect for an almost teen-aged girl.

"Are you going to tell her you're moving before you drop the bomb or after?" Harley asked her girlfriend breathlessly once they'd situated a rather expensive –but totally worth it because wow, you could sink right into that thing– couch in the living room.

"Before," Pamela groaned, flopping down on the couch opposite Harley, propping her feet on top of Harley's legs, making her laugh. "We're not on the same shift at work until Wednesday, so I'm going to spring it on her then."

"That's so mean! I love it!" Harley gave a cackling laugh that Pamela loved so much. "Her birthday's coming up soon, isn't it? Going to get her something?"

"August tenth," Pamela said, a smile softening her lips. "I was thinking of getting her a ring with her birthstone."

That way it was something that told Amara that her birth-mother cared about the day she had been born, whether or not it had been by synthetic means or not. That she thought the world of Amara even though she'd never revealed her identity to the girl.

And Pamela truly did want to, but she couldn't seem to come up with the best way to reveal that information to her daughter. She doubted it would go over well if she just told her that she was Poison Ivy and her mother. That would be more likely to cause a few explosions, and Pamela wanted to keep that kind of response from happening, if she could help it.

"I'm not even surprised," Amara said, her eyes narrowed as she sat cross-legged on her bed, his fingers tapping over her laptop's keyboard, sifting through the records of Project Amara. "You and Ollie are like magnets with the same charge, you repel each other."

"Your nerd talk isn't helping," Roy complained on the other end.

After the Fourth of July, Roy had made up with Oliver, but, true to his nature of inevitably clashing with his adoptive father, they were at each other's throats again, though more of the animosity was coming from Roy than Oliver, seeing as the Green Arrow was well known for being easy going.

"Maybe you and him just need to talk it out, supervised by Dinah, because I'm pretty sure it'd be chaos if you two were locked in a room for an extended amount of time," she said, clicking on a video link and watching a child-like version of herself undergoing what looked to be a serious stress test that involved dropping her from a great height.

It was horrifying to watch, especially since Amara didn't remember anything to do with stress tests from that young. The video-Amara dropped like stone, curling into a ball in fright, just barely managing to spare herself a far broken bones by spinning the air around her at a few inches off the ground.

"He's stifling me," Roy said shortly and she could just imagine him huffing in annoyance and crossing his arms. "I don't know why I bother coming back here when he keeps pulling this on me."

That had Amara pushing her laptop back and sitting up more fully, focusing her undivided attention on Roy's voice in her ear.

"Tell me you're not serious," she said weakly. "Roy, Star City is your home!"

"You wouldn't understand," he said, "you're still a kid, but I'm an adult now and they still won't let me into the Justice League."

Amara swallowed her words, not really knowing that to say to him to soothe the sting of the words of the Leaguers. Honestly, she didn't understand their reluctance, it was more understandable concerning the younger sidekicks, particularly her and Robin who were the youngest of them, to want them to wait, no matter if they had more experience, but Roy was fully grown and had proved himself on more than one occasion.


He severed the connection before Amara could come up with something to say that would make him feel less like the League had stomped on him and threw him away, not that she could have actually come up with anything that could have helped the situation.

Amara sighed, pocketing the phone and pulling the flash drive out of her laptop to clip it to her key chain, turning the laptop off and letting it charge on her desk before making her way downstairs.

Both Barry and Iris were at work, so she wasn't going to run into them, and Amara needed to get to her own work soon. She was the only one on shift today and Sandra really couldn't afford for her to be late.

Amara made sure that the black gem was swinging from her lobe before she made her way out of the house, hopping onto the first bus that stopped close to her house.

She made it to the flower shop within five minutes of having to be there, and Sandra took being on time seriously.

"Right on time, Amy," Sandra called from where she was standing behind the counter, putting a few last touches on a bouquet that looked like it belonged in a wedding. Amara had lost count how many time she or Pamela or Sandra had made wedding bouquets, most of which had included white roses.

"If you got married to your girlfriend," Amara had said to Pamela once, "what kind of flowers would you have in your bouquet?"

Pamela had paused. "I never really thought about marriage," she'd admitted. "But probably something exotic…maybe some flowers that no one's heard of."

Her green eyes had glittered and Amara had laughed.

"I'm heading out to drop this lot off at a chapel," Sandra continued and Amara jerked herself out of her thoughts. "How do you feel about manning the store while I'm gone?"

"It's no problem," Amara assured her, grabbing an apron from behind the counter, shoving her bag in a cubby hidden beneath the counter, out of sight of customers. "You're not expecting anymore deliveries, are you?"

Amara couldn't technically sign for anything, being twelve and all.

"Don't worry," Sandra called over her shoulder, "it'll just be you, think you can handle it?"

Amara thought about the last time she'd been alone, which had resulted in a few gang members ending up with a few broken ribs. "I think I'll be fine," she said before the door slid shut behind Sandra, leaving Amara in silence.

Flower shops weren't really known for being busy, apart from on holidays –particularly on Valentine's Day, and Amara really hated Valentine's Day, purely because of the chaos it caused by people waiting until the last minute–, but there was always someone that liked to get flowers and someone that liked to by that person flowers.

The last time Amara had gotten flowers was when Wally and Dick had brought her a bouquet of Chrysanthemums back when she was still in the hospital ward of the Hall of Justice after being shot by Merlyn, but it was always the thought behind the flowers that Amara liked the most.

The bell on the door to the shop rattled as it opened and Amara was already speaking: "Welcome to Bouquet Boutique, how can I help you?"

"You're late."

Amara rolled her eyes behind her mask. "I was debating about not coming."

Roy lifted his eyes from the binoculars he was using to focus on Brick's operation on the docks stare at her blankly, but it was hard to tell with how his domino mask covered his eyes. "Why? We always patrol together when we're not with GA or BC."

"Really, Speedy?" Amara said dryly as the cloudy darkened above them, the stars shining brightly in the night sky and Roy couldn't tell if she was the one causing it or it was simply a night of bad weather. "You hung up on me earlier and you've been nothing but annoyed every time we talk, it's so not crash."

Roy wasn't sure he'd seen her quite so aggravated with him, barring the first few weeks of their partnership and he bowed his head slightly. "I'm sorry," he apologized, "I'm just so angry with the League, I didn't mean to take it out on you."

"I know," she said, dropping to perch on the edge of the rooftop, nudging him with her knee as she tilted her head even as he pulled the binoculars back up to his eyes. "Brick causing mischief again?"

"You take a look," Roy invited and Amara turned around, fixing the goggles over her eyes, twisting the lenses in order to zoom in. ("Why do you always get the good tech?" Roy complained. "Oh, people are still guilty about my little accident with Merlyn, besides, the goggles look way better on me, babe.")

"He seems to be running low on men, but I guess you'd get tired of working for a criminal if you kept ending up getting shot with trick arrows," she muttered. "But I suppose it's better than being shot with a real arrow, so who could complain?"

Roy snorted. "You would know."

The smile she gave him was rather wry. "Yes, I would." She never skirted around the topic of her 'accident' even if her parents still did, and she was grateful that Roy didn't either. "Want to kick some ass?"

"Absolutely," Roy gave her a grin, and they split up, Roy taking the high ground, shooting a grappling arrow to the opposite side of the pier, landing lightly on the metal framework of a warehouse that was never finished, while Amara darted into the darkness of the shadows, fading from view, as it was easier to surprise attack someone with jarring shocks to their central nervous system when you were hidden from view.

Two of Brick's henchmen were gathering a shipment of guns when an arrow containing a compressed canister of knockout gas at its tip, and within seconds they were out, the guns clattering to the ground.

Brick had grabbed up one of the fallen guns, aiming it high to where Roy was perched in the rafters like a bird ready to take flight.

"You again!" Brick seethed. "I'm startin' to get insulted Green Arrow's not messin' up my operations personally!"

Roy's eyes narrowed at the slight before leaping out of the way of several of his shots, flipping through the air before firing off an arrow that lodged in the gun's barrel, causing the gun to explode in his hand, ripping through his shirt as he yelled.

He hoped Amy was having more fun.

Amara left Brick to Roy in favor of darting after a shipment of guns already leaving the pier. She snapped her fingers, causing sparks to roll off her hand as the truck rolled past her as she gave a flick of her hand, an arch of lightning to rupture the back wheels on the truck's back end before using a quickly formed cloud to leap onto the back of the truck as it tried to wheel out towards the pier's entrance but with only two tires fully functional, it was a bit difficult.

Holes were bored through the top of the truck as someone fired off several rounds up at her and Amara had to dance around a bit to avoid the shots, balancing in the air when the shooting stopped, fooling them into believing they'd managed to get her.

The next second she'd blown out their windshield and a few seconds later had them all tied up.

Grinning to herself, Amara jogged back towards where Roy was, only slightly surprised to see that he had been joined by Kid Flash, Robin, and Aqualad.

"Tell Arrow he shouldn't send boys to do a man's job," Brick was calling in a sneer, and Amara was always ready to get one last word in.

"How about a woman's job, asshole?" she asked, a kick colliding with Brick's head, sending him pitching him forward, ducking out of the way as Roy fired off another arrow, this time meeting his chest and releasing a powerful foam that rendered Brick immobile.

Amara leapt up to join her partner and the other sidekicks as Wally said: "High-density polyurethane foam? Nice!"

Roy ignored him.

"So, Speedy, you in?" Robin asked and Amara looked to Wally.

"We're trying to get Speedy to join us at the Cave," Wally informed her, as she'd been missing out on some things while she'd been stopping a shipment of guns from getting out of the pier.

"Pass," Roy said coolly, and Amara wasn't surprised. "I'm done letting Arrow and the League tell me what to do. I don't need a babysitter or a clubhouse to hang out with the other kids. Your Junior Justice League is a joke. Something to keep you busy and in your place. I don't want any part of it."

Amara found herself starting in surprise and moving forward, trying to catch him before he disappeared into the shadows. "Speedy, hey, wait—"

But he was gone and Amara was stung. She'd known that Roy's anger that he'd been pushed aside instead of being considered a full Leaguer had set badly with him, but still, it wasn't like him to disappear in the middle of patrol.

Amara gave a sharp sigh, twisting around. "I have a patrol to finish," she remarked stiffly, before launching into the sky atop a cloud.

Roy had his things packed, he'd be out of Amara's safe house in a matter of minutes and he really didn't want her to find him still packing the last of his things, then she'd probably find a way to convince him to stay. She had a way of using her big green eyes to convince others and they had worked on Roy on more than one occasion.

He had barely shut the door behind him, dropping the key back in the hanging pot, when he was interrupted.

"You know, she's not going to like you disappearing without a word."

He twisted around in surprise at the eerily familiar voice. It belonged to a young woman with a head of dark and wild hair, grey eyes, and smirking lips. The oddest thing about her, though, was that her arms were wrapped around an open crate, holding a pot with few flowers that were pale pink with pointed petals jutting outwards.

"Cheshire," Roy realized.

Her eyes glittered. "Right in one, and you're the partner with a wicked aim."

Tension stiffened his body as she stepped forward with a definite sway to her hips that was clearly meant to draw eyes. Roy had never seen Cheshire without her mask on, but her attractiveness wasn't all that surprising. But it was very distracting.

She walked past him to rest the crate on the small wooden table next to the door and Roy caught a glimpse of a folder full of notes tucked into the crevice between the crate and the pot and his brow furrowed.

"Amaryllis belladonna," she added when she noticed his befuddled look. "A flower that's beautiful but deadly, and ironically sounds a bit like her name. She gets a kick out of things like that."

"I guess you know her pretty well, then," Roy said, slightly annoyed by the fact.

Jade shrugged. "Good assets are hard to come by."

Roy knew she was lying, though, there was no way she'd come up with jobs for Amy simply because she was a good asset.

She curled her fingers around the edge of the petal briefly and Roy rather thought that the flowers' description could easily suit her, being both beautiful and dangerous.

Then she turned to look at him and there was something in her gave that made him swallow thickly.

"What d'you know," she smirked, "you're cuter without the mask, Harper."

Against his will, Roy flushed a deep and bright red that went from his cheeks down his neck and its appearance made her laugh lightly before leaning up to press a sultry kiss against his cheek as he stood there trying to regain the ability to move his body.

"See you around, Harper," she said before making her way back to her motorcycle leaving Roy trying to find out how she'd discovered his identity.

And God was she hot.

Amara had her eyes glued to her phone as she followed the others through the Cave, she could have probably helped Miss Martian with showing them around, but she was far too focused on if Roy was going to text her back. She hadn't heard anything from him since the previous night and she thought he might have been in a mood, so she'd given him some space, but he still hadn't responded to her.

She frowned, ignoring the smell of smoke in the air and Miss Martian's despondent apologies that were quickly waved aside.

"Call me Kaldur'ahm," Aqualad said with a smile before correcting, "actually, my friends call me Kaldur."

Maybe she should text Oliver and see if he'd heard from him? Amara grimaced. That probably wasn't the best choice; he and Roy still weren't really talking.

"I'm Wally," the red head told Miss Martian with a lovesick stare that made Dick snigger behind his hand. "See? I already trust you with my secret ID…unlike Dark Glasses over here."

Dick frowned, resting his hands on his hips.

"Batman's forbidden Boy Wonder from telling anyone his real name."

Dick rolled his eyes at the ceiling, the movement obvious enough that the others could tell what it was. "And that's Amara," he said, nodding to the girl who was so enraptured with her phone, "but we all call her Amy, there's always Storm Warning, too, but I think Speedy's the only one who calls her that."

"Is she always like that?" Miss Martian asked, looking to Amara, who was remarkably unaware of the conversation threading around her.

"Nah," Wally said, biting into another charred cookie, "her partner isn't speaking to her and she's getting annoyed."

"She's also this nerd's cousin," Dick added, elbowing his best friend while Kaldur smiled and Superboy huffed in a bit of amusement.

Miss Martian looked from Wally to Amara, comparing Wally with his green eyes, bright red hair, spattering of freckles across his cheeks, and the squareness of his jaw, to Amara with her green eyes, wild grey hair, and the heart-shaped face. The only thing relatively similar between the two of them was the eyes.

Her confusion must have shown because Wally laughed. "We're adopted. Flash is her dad and my uncle."

"Oh," Miss Martian said in surprise before brightening, "well, my name is M'gann M'orzz. Like, you can call me Megan. It's an Earth name, and I'm on Earth now." There was an awkward note in her voice that everyone was wise enough not to comment on.

Superboy, who had been mostly leaning back and removed from the conversation, now moved towards the hall away from the kitchen, when something stopped him.

Don't worry, Superboy, we'll find you an Earth name, too.

He reeled back violently, cold fury washing over him. "Get out of my head!" he snarled.

What's wrong? I don't understand, came M'gann's voice blearing so suddenly into Amara's head that she actually dropped her phone and grabbed her head. Everyone on Mars communicates telepathically.

"M'gann, stop!" Kaldur ordered, causing the Martian to start. "Things are different on Earth, here your powers are an extreme invasion of privacy."

Amara stooped to pick up her fallen phone as it gave a buzz, Ella's name showing up on the caller ID.

"Hi, Ella," Amara said with a sigh.

"Ooh, what did I do?"

"Sorry, I've just been waiting on a call from a friend of mine, that's all," Amara assured her, smiling lightly. "What'd you need?"

"Well, shift starts in about ten minutes, so—"

Amara did a double take, checking the digital clock on the oven. "Oh, shit," she said, "I didn't even realize."

Ella laughed on the other end. "I figured I might as well call you just in case."

"Thanks," Amara said, moving to grab her bag from one of the living room couches before making her way back towards the kitchen. "Give me a few minutes, I'll meet you there."

"What'd Roy say?" Wally asked her.

"I wouldn't know," Amara said shortly, "he's not speaking to me. That was Ella; it's almost time for my shift, so I gotta run."

Dick's eyebrow arched above his sunglasses. "You work at a flower shop, Amy, they're not going to kill you if you're late."

"Babe," Amara said in a deadpan that had Dick smacking his face with his hand, and amusing the others, "I'm not sure if you're aware, but punctuality is very important to Sandra. See you guys later!"

Then she made her way towards the zeta-tube, disappearing in a blaze of blue.

"If she called you 'babe'," M'gann said carefully, befuddlement clear on her face. "Does that mean you're dating?"

Dick's face burned hot.

"Nah, Amy doesn't care enough about romance to want to date, too busy," Wally said around another charred cookie, "she calls everyone babe, just you wait, she'll probably use it on you too."

"What d'you mean you're moving?!"

Amara was gaping at her and Pamela was almost tempted into whipping out her phone and snapping a picture of the look.

"Just that," she laughed. "I'm moving back to Gotham in October to live with my girlfriend."

"Aw, man," Amara complained, "but you're so much fun to be around! It's going to be so boring without you here, Ella, I'm going to have to start bringing my laptop to work on slow days."

"I'm sure you'll survive," Pamela said, though secretly delighting in how Amara freely admitted how much she'd miss her.

She almost told her then, she almost told her the truth, but the words got tangled in Pamela's throat and she knew it probably wasn't the best time.

"My girlfriend misses having me around," Pamela continued, her eyes growing fond as she thought about Harley, "and I miss having her around…and this job was only supposed to be temporary, anyways."

Amara gave a sad hum as she rang up the customer who approached the cash register with a bouquet of lilies.

"I'll miss seeing your face," Pamela added, "who knows, maybe the next person will be as fun as me."

Amara doubted it.

Chapter Text

"We could've totally used some storm-conjuring meta-humans, is all I'm saying," Wally was saying mildly while his aunt and cousin danced around the kitchen, cooking up some pies for a party at Iris' work that she had completely forgotten about and had conscripted her daughter into helping when she'd arrived back from her shift at the flower shop, and Wally had arrived soon after they'd started with eyes bright and a wide grin, saying "Guess what happened today?!"

The story came out rather quickly and Iris had to slow her nephew when his words blurred with super-speed, and Amara couldn't help but be surprised at the story he told, of how the robotic suit Mister Twister had attacked and how he, Robin, Miss Martian, Superboy, and Aqualad had managed to outsmart him by playing the part of Red Tornado.

"Wally," Amara snorted, stirring the sugar and the butter together in her bowl, "I don't know how to tell you this, but I'm not strong enough to do much less than stall storms, I can't conjure them." The yet went unsaid. Dinah was of the mind that Amara a core of untapped power inside her and that she was just limiting herself to basic atmo-kinetic abilities, such as her flying via storm cloud under her feet and lightning bolts out of her hands and eyes; Amara thought limiting was a poor choice of words.

Mark Mardon was the one that called storms, not her. There was a reason why her sidekick name was Storm Chaser, after all.

"What about that time you almost flooded Keystone?" Wally asked, licking the spoon Iris gave him while Amara dumped a can of cherries into the bottom of a dish before spreading her finished dough over the top to make what would soon be cherry cobbler.

Amara paused. "When was that?" Her brow furrowed as she tried to remember.

"Um, a while ago?" Wally scratched his head, his eyes squinting as he tried to remember. "You were spending the day at the Garricks, I think…you had a nightmare or something when you were konked out on Jay's couch and the next thing I knew, we were getting severe weather warnings."

Amara's face enflamed, the memory returning to her. That was during the time when she wasn't sleeping well. She and Barry were going to go to a zoo with Jay and Joan but he'd been called back to work and Amara had looked so tired that Joan had suggested she get some sleep in the guest room. The next thing Amara remembered was waking up in the medical ward at the Hall of Justice with Barry's concerned face looming over her.

"That doesn't count," Amara decided dismissively. "I have to be fully conscious for it to count."

"Who came up with these rules?" her mother asked with a laugh as Wally snorted around his swallow of batter.

"Me, obviously," Amara said, her nose in the air, but the look was ruined by her laugh. "Seriously, though, I've never really tried to make a storm before."

"Why not?" Wally asked curiously and she wrinkled her nose at him.

It was easy for Wally to train, his skills were in speed and incorporating gymnastics into his speed and it was easy for him to practice both of those skills. But for Amara, if she wanted to try her hand at creating a storm, she'd have to remove herself very far from society just so she wouldn't cause damage, because storms were volatile and unruly and very difficult to control.

"Making storms isn't as easy as making a mini-tornado from running fast in a circle," Amara said in annoyance as she slid the container into the over next to the apple pie her mother had mixed together. "It takes a lot of effort and I don't have a wand like Weather Wizard to conduct my atmo-kinesis, I just have my body for that."

Amara sighed, moving to wash her hands in the sink as Iris shot a befuddled look towards Wally behind her back that Amara pretended not to see in the reflection of the kitchen's window.

Of course, her body was excellent for conducting electricity, or she wouldn't have been able to do all of those electrical attacks that she was famous for.

Amara rubbed her chest where the fractal scarring was hidden under the fabric of her shirt, only to jump at the sudden sound of her phone buzzing in her pocket.

She pulled it out quickly, arching an eyebrow at the caller ID before hitting the accept button and holding it to her ear. "Ollie? Did something come up about patrol later?"

"No, no," came Oliver's easy tone over the phone, but there was clearly a subtle vexation present, "I was just, it's that—"

"Something to do with Roy?" Amara presumed, resting a hand on her hip as she turned around to spot Wally making good use of the leftover batter. She swatted him along the side of his head, but that didn't really serve as a great way to stop him. He gave her a grin and she rolled her eyes. "Is he still not talking to you, because that's not really all that surprising."

She could imagine him grimacing on the other end. "No, he's not," he grumbled, "but his clothes are gone from his room, so I was wondering if you would swing by your safe house before patrol and just check on him for me?"

Amara frowned. She didn't like playing the go-between, and neither did Dinah, but Oliver and Roy sorely needed a mediator.

"Sure, Ollie, I'll check on him," she said, "but if he gets mad at me, I'm blaming you."

There was a rusty chuckle on the other end before she cut off the connection.

"It looks like I'm dropping by my safe house before patrol," she sighed, "Ollie's worried about Roy."

Wally snorted while Iris gave a bemused smile. "Ollie's always worried about Roy," Wally said, waving a hand carelessly. "Just you wait, you'll show up and he'll be sharpening his arrows and the next thing you know, there's an arrow in the wall."

Amara arched an eyebrow. "You'd've thought you'd learned to duck by now."

Wally glared in outrage and his aunt laughed at the antics of the two meta-humans.

Popping over to Sea Isle City was rather simple business, especially with how much better Amara had gotten at flying since her first time over to the safe house.

She made her way up the stairs that led to the deck, calling Roy's name only to stop short when she caught sight of the potted plant on the porch that had definitely not been there the last time she was.

She was familiar with the flower, of course, having been working in a flower shop for awhile now. Amaryllis belladonna was a bit rarer, though, and slightly poisonous, and Sandra didn't make a habit of keeping one in the shop unless a customer made a request.

Amara touched the pink petals lightly, a frown twisting her lips downwards. It definitely wasn't the sort of gift Roy would have left her with, he'd always found the idea of her working in a flower shop to be amusing. But the pot in the crate was a light shade of green…like jade. And it would've been the thing that Jade would've done, Amaryllis belladonna, after all, was similar in name to Amara, and Jade would've found that hilarious.

Amara's frown deepened when she caught sight of a folder hidden in the crevice between the crate and the pot. She bent swiftly to remove it, eyeing the post it pasted carefully onto the folder that read: For getting you cornered by Ra's.

The atmo-kinetic meta-human was still annoyed about that.

But she flipped the folder open with interest. The papers within were old and worn down, the ink faded in some places, and it wasn't in English, which didn't help things. Amara spoke better Russian than she did reading it, but the drawing helped, images of lightning storms and clouds. Amara was momentarily distracted from her problem with Roy by the folder and she took a few minutes trying to decipher the words before tucking it under her arm and pulling out her key.

"Roy?" she called again as she opened the door, but the safe house was dark and empty. "Roy, are you here?"

She shut the door behind her, placing the keys and the folder on the small table by the door as she flicked the lights on. "Ollie asked me to drop by," she said cautiously, looking around for any indication of his presence, but finding nothing. "Roy?"

She moved the almost the length of the house to find the door to the guest room open and wide for her to see that there wasn't a single thing out of place. The bag he'd brought was gone and the bed was made. All that remained in the room that hadn't been there to begin with was a picture so worn down that Amara was sure it had been in Roy's wallet since it was taken. It was taken from the time Oliver and Dinah had taken them out to this archery range. Roy was grinning widely, holding a bow nowhere near as equipped as the one he used as Speedy and Amara was leaning against his side, hefting a crossbow in one hand as using a bow had never been something she'd been particularly skilled at.

Amara picked up the picture, a feeling of unease washing over her.

She took the few steps up to the smaller floor above the first, pulling her spare laptop out from under her bed, ignoring the chaos around her as she'd had to take everything out of what Roy called her 'Lair' while it was being expanded.

Security cameras were a must for Amara, which might have mostly been her paranoia talking, but she was in Central City or Star City most days and Sea Isle City was a bit farther away, so she liked to know that nothing out of the ordinary was happening at her safe house while she was away.

The cameras were well hidden and still transmitting, so all that Amara had to do was back it up to the time from the previous day until she found when Roy last appeared with Jade making an appearance when she'd left the plant on her porch.

Amara pulled out her phone and hit Roy's speed dial before shoving the laptop back under the bed, but it went straight to voicemail.

"Roy, it's me," Amara said, knotting her fingers in her hair. "Ollie asked me to drop by the safe house to check up on you, but you're already gone…I'm getting worried. Can you call me back?"

By the time patrol started Amara still hadn't gotten a call back and she was jittery on a stakeout with Dinah.

"I'm sure he's fine," Black Canary said, even after Green Arrow missed his target, so distracted by their current state of affairs.

"He didn't say goodbye," Amara said in annoyance, her fingers sparking with electricity. "He's been in a bad mood lately, but I didn't think he'd actually leave."

He would have at least told her what he was doing rather than just up and disappearing…wouldn't he?

Amara took off running and leapt from one roof to the next, spinning the air around her, flying off on a cloud, joining Green Arrow and leaving her mentor to sigh and follow after her.

It was two days later when Amara was in the midst of her lesson on the Russian language, as she needed another year in a foreign language to hit the three year requirement for her internet home school requirement that her school program required of her.

The folder Jade had left her with was open on the bed, the words on the first page barely half translated, but she'd been sidetracked by trying to get her schoolwork done. Of course, it wasn't like her schoolwork was done immediately, and she hadn't fallen too behind during her time away from Central City, but she did like to get things done when she had the time to.

The Russian on the pages was old and difficult to read in some places, but from what Amara could tell, it was a sort of guide to people who had certain skills in controlling the weather. There was a reference to a group called the Priests of Perun that Amara didn't understand, apart from knowing through an internet search that Perun was the Slavic god of storms.

Amara was tripping through a spelling quiz when her phone buzzed and she grabbed it up. A day ago she might have been excited about the possibility of Roy calling her, but Amara had given up now. The longer she thought about Roy leaving the more angry about it she got.

"Hey, Wally," she said, leaning back against her pillows with a sigh, "what's up?"

"How do you feel about camping?"

Amara arched an eyebrow. "Camping?" she repeated. "Camping where?"

"Amy, get your butt over to the Cave!" came Dick's voice over the phone. "You're missing out on all the fun and Wally's eating all the smores!"

"Tragic," Amara drawled a laugh. "Is everyone else there?"

She could hear the sounds of a scuffle, most likely resulting from Wally pushing his best friend away from the phone. "Yup," Wally said, "everyone but you, so get your sulky butt over here, Amy!"

Amara sighed, raking a hand through her hair, but she wouldn't deny being sulky. Robin's partner was Batman and Kid Flash's was Flash, and while Storm Chaser did partner a lot with Black Canary, she spent most of her time with Speedy, and now she didn't have Speedy.

"I'll be over," she said finally, cutting off the connection as she shut the laptop, returning her translations with the originals back to its folder and placing it in the lowest drawer of her desk, the one that was made to host files and the only one with a lock on it; there were at least three things in that drawer that Amara didn't want her father to know about.

And then she left the house with a quick explanation to her parents who were watching a movie in the living room.

It was a short jog to where the zeta-tube was hidden, but once she'd made it to the Cave, all she had to do was head outside, walking around until she heard the sound of voices and saw flicking fire around which several people were gathered.

"You're about as subtle as a train wreck, you know that?" Dick was saying to Wally as Amara made her way forward.

"You're not going to catch any fish unless you go fishing, dude," Wally said around a mouthful of smores before jerking his head back to where Kaldur was sitting, looking rather ill at the mention of fishing. "Sorry, no offense."

"Hi, Amy!" M'gann said brightly, waving when Amy got close enough to be seen, moving slow enough that she wouldn't startle them too badly. "You came!"

"Well, Russian has turned my brain to mush so I figured this might be a bit more fun," Amara said with a careless shrug.

She got a few laughs before she swiped the marshmallow roasting stick from Wally, grabbing up her own supplies as he gave an outraged "Hey!" before moving towards the opposite side of the fire where Superboy was sitting, seeming to her to be a bit confused about the whole thing.

"Do you mind?" she asked, nodding to the space next to him and he gave her a gesture that said he didn't care and Amara plopped herself down beside him. "So, Superboy, ever had smores before?"

"No," he said honestly and Amara grinned, putting two marshmallows onto her stick.

"Well, you're going to, Gene Pool."

He choked. "Gene Pool?"

Amara smirked as she thrust the stick into the fire, roasting the marshmallows in the open flame, because Amara Allen did not do lightly browned, she did charred.

"Nicknames, Superboy," Amara snorted, "I give them to everyone…I haven't got one for M'gann yet, though."

She pulled one of the marshmallows off onto graham crackers with chocolate, handing it to Superboy who took it a bit dubiously, eyeing it a few moments before taking a cautious bite.

Amara laughed when his eyes shot wide. "Good, yeah?"

He didn't answer her, but he did eat the last of it as M'gann spoke. "Oh! I would love to hear your story, Kaldur! Could you tell us how you became Aqualad?"

"I was thinking more of a ghost story type of thing, but I guess…whatever," Dick said with a shrug, the flames reflecting off his sunglasses that he was still wearing despite the fact it was dark out.

It didn't take much effort to convince Kaldur to tell his story.

"Well, I grew up in the city of Shayeris, which is a city in Atlantis," he began. "Surface dwellers think all Atlanteans are the same, but our kingdom has many cities, many people, many cultures. So, when I was twelve, I completed my education and began my mandatory service in the Atlantean military, which is standard for all at that age. After awhile I was transferred to the prestigious Conservatory of Sorcery in the Atlantean capitol of Poseidonis."

Amara had always been more inclined to trust science over magic and Wally remained dubious about the idea of magic, which showed in his face the longer Kaldur talked.

"Queen Mera is the headmistress of the Conservatory and the wife of King Orin, Aquaman," Kaldur continued, a small smile gracing his lips, even as he corrected himself in case they didn't know Aquaman's true name, "it was a very different time for me. It was difficult, as it would be for anyone at age fourteen, I suppose, but also a time in my life where I met friends that I know will be with me for a lifetime... Then came a day, a horrible day when Poseidonis was attacked by the Ocean Master…it was the day Aquaman nearly met his end."

Amara's marshmallow fell off her stick and into the fire and she didn't even notice.

"Aquaman and Ocean Master fought for what seemed like hours. When Aquaman and Ocean Master clashed, it seemed to shake the foundations of the city." Kaldur gave a dramatic pause but Amara was almost certain that it was unintentional, though he did have a skill in story-telling, she wouldn't lie. "Ocean Master had gained the upper hand and nearly defeated Aquaman when Garth, a fellow student, and I intervened on the king's behalf. It was the only thing we could think of doing. The danger did not occur to us, the only thing that mattered to us at the time was that our king was in trouble."

Amara leaned forward with interest and she wasn't the only one.

"It may have been one of the most foolish things Garth and I had ever done, as we nearly met our own ends," Kaldur conceded with a small grimace. "We had no hope of defeating him whatsoever, but the time we spent engaged in battle against the Ocean Master was time enough for our king to recover, and that was all he needed as Aquaman finally triumphed over Ocean Master! He was able to drive him from the city and save us all!"

Amara searched for another marshmallow while the others remained enraptured.

"Realizing that on the surface world Batman and Green Arrow and Black Canary had all taken on apprentices that could one day take over their respective mantles, King Orin had been contemplating the same idea, with this in mind he approached both Garth and myself about the possibility of becoming his protégés, and we both considered his offer seriously, but Garth ultimately chose to continue his studies with Queen Mera at the Conservatory of Sorcery. For me, however, the chance to visit the surface world was a dream come true, so at the age of fourteen I became Aqualad."

"Wow!" M'gann smiled brightly. "So you wanted to be Aqualad?"

"Yes," Kaldur agreed, "the opportunity arose. I could think of no other path."

"Yeah?" Wally snorted loudly. "If you think he wanted to be Aqualad so bad? Let me tell you about how I got started!"

"Oh God, Wally, don't make this complicated!" Amara laughed, removing her marshmallow from the fire.

"Sh!" Wally said with a grin, making an elaborate gesture towards Amara that made the others laugh. "All right, so it literally goes back a couple of generations, and each generation of Flash started with a bang, literally!"

Amara rolled her eyes for good measure.

"Jay Garrick was in a freak lab accident, and then boom! There is was! During the forties and fifties he was everywhere! The fastest man alive! Jay Garrick was the world's first Flash! Then one day this guy comes along, a huge fan of the Flash, wanting to know all about this Jay Garrick, back in those days Jay didn't really hide his identity—"

"Probably because he didn't care," Amara muttered before taking a bite out of her smores, ducking under the pebble Wally threw at her head and ignoring the smirk on Dick's lips.

"He contacts Jay," Wally said over his cousin, "and the two spend hours and hours talking about his adventures and about the accident that turned him into the Flash. This guy even goes so far as to recreate the accident that created the original. But where Jay Garrick's accident was a total freak thing, this guy recreated the accident under laboratory conditions. He set the whole thing up in a lab and tried to make it happen."

"Which doesn't sound like anyone else we know," Dick mentioned before Wally got him in a headlock.

"Result? Still a big explosion, but lo and behold he becomes Speedy McSpeed-Speed himself!"

Superboy huffed a small laugh.

"Now he's the Flash! Well, not the original Flash but the new Flash…the Flash we all know! I mean, there's the Jay Garrick Flash and now there's the new Flash. You know, it just occurred to me that they could probably use different names…" Wally admitted in consideration and Amara had to stuff her fist in her mouth to silence her laughter. "Anyways, this time he's even faster than the Flash, well the old Flash…it gave him even more speed!"

"Wally, Wally, you're going way too in-depth," Amara sniggered, "you're probably just confusing them all. Basically, the apple didn't fall too far from the tree and Wally was a ridiculous Flash fanboy and he found out Dad was the Flash by reading through his experiment journals."

"Hey, this is my story!" Wally pouted.

"You were taking too long," Amara shrugged. "Anyways, Wally here decides that Flash could use a sidekick, which Flash is totally against, by the way so—"

"I recreated the experiment with my own chemistry set," Wally said proudly. "And I was able to do it!"

"The experiment actually worked?" Kaldur asked in surprise.


"He blew up his room and ended up in the hospital," Amara snorted.

"Dude! You weren't even there yet!"

"Dude," Amara repeated, "that story's flown around the family for years, it's why I'm not allowed to practice atmo-kinesis at home."

"So, a few weeks later I found out it'd actually worked, and I couldn't wait to tell Flash, and when he saw that I had powers, how could he not want me for a partner?"

"He's a bit confident, isn't he?" Superboy muttered to Amara who smiled.

"The word you're looking for is arrogant," she informed him.

"You are welcome," Wally said once he'd finished, crossing his arms and smirking.

Amara glanced to Superboy, how he was carefully sitting away from everyone, not unlike M'gann and Kaldur, though they had the excuse of having a weakness to fire to keep them sitting behind where Dick and Wally were. "Don't worry," she said to him and his eyes drifted to her, "Wally'll grow on you…like a fungus."

He smiled as Wally made a few jokes about Dick not being allowed to tell anyone his secret identity or how he got started and attention drifted to M'gann.

"All Martians live in underground tunnels because the surface is inhabitable," M'gann explained with a bright smile (Amara wasn't entirely sure it was possible for her not to smile), "our lives are very intertwined, as you already know, we mostly communicate telepathically. The form of communication we use helps large Martian families maintain a sense of community and stay together."

"How large is your family?" Amara asked with interest.

"I have twelve sisters and seventeen brothers and I have over three hundred cousins in my extended family," M'gann informed her and them all, clearly missing how Wally flirted blatantly with her about her cousins being as hot as her before continuing on. "Most Martians look rather similar, mostly green like myself and Uncle J'onn. But there are other's with…differences."

Her shoulders sagged just slightly, her face falling before she smoothed her features once more and Amara frowned. "There are also Martians that are white and some on my planet do not see the whites as equal. My parents were both green Martians and I was raised in what you could call a 'liberal' type of environment. My family…I…had no issue with white Martians."

"And how did you happen to come to Earth?" Kaldur asked, putting a marshmallow on his stick, wanting to change the subject for M'gann's sake.

"Well, my uncle J'onn having learned about all of you –Robin, Storm Chaser, Aqualad, Kid Flash, and Speedy– decided it was time to introduce a younger Martian hero to Earth, so he held a competition to see who would return with him to Earth, so I entered the competition with what seemed to be half the Martian population."

"Whoa," Dick and Wally said.

"The competition was fierce and dangerous and at first Uncle J'onn seemed like he didn't want me to compete, but I changed his mind when I showed him all that I was capable of. And how I'm here with all of you and I'm part of a team!" M'gann said, smiling as she spread her arms, looking up to the sky.

"We are happy you're with us as well," Kaldur said to her enthusiasm.

"You could say that again," Wally gave an exaggerated sigh.

Amara was sure that M'gann was truly happy to be on Earth, but there was something a bit off in how she'd come to Earth in the first place, she was sure of it.

"What about you?"

Amara started, looking at Superboy. "What about me?"

The clone gave a grunt. "Everyone knows my story, so what's yours?"

Amara chewed on the inside of her cheek, noticing the interest on M'gann and Kaldur's faces and giving a small sigh. "Well, I'm a bit like Superboy, I was made in a lab, a genetically created offspring to Weather Wizard."

Kaldur's eyes widened slightly. "Your skills are similar to his."

"Yeah, only he's got to use a wand most of the time and I don't," Amara drawled, fingers twitching over her knee. "Anyways, I was raised in a lab for awhile, I don't remember how long, but at some point I was removed and foisted off on Weather Wizard…and he didn't really like the idea of carting a kid around." She gave a vicious frown.

"We ended up in Central City when I was eight and he was facing off against Flash, he probably would have killed him, too, if I hadn't thrown myself between them and took most of the shock of the lightning, scarred my chest permanently, not fun, let me say."

She rubbed at her chest as if she could still feel the strike of lightning that had sent her flying.

"Flash took a shine to me but I was nine before he and his wife adopted me officially and ten before I was allowed to be Black Canary's sidekick."

She didn't see the point of weaving a story like what the others had done; hers was very matter of fact.

"Weren't you the one that disappeared for almost a year?" M'gann mused thoughtfully and Amara graced her with a stiff smile.

"Yes, that'd be me," she said and Dick and Wally looked distinctly uncomfortable. "Merlyn put me in a wheelchair for eight months."

"Oh," M'gann said delicately, a sudden awkwardness overtaking her features.

"Don't forget the time you ran away," Wally added.

"Which time?" Amara asked dryly. "It seems to happen a lot."

They all laughed as smoke curled into the air, their laughter echoing around them in the silence.

Chapter Text

Storm Chaser's right arm was throbbing where the stitches had been sewn, hidden under the bandages that were in turn hidden beneath her uniform, and her ribs were aching. She probably could have done with some painkillers, but they had a tendency to make her sleepy and Storm Chaser needed to be fully awake, especially since this was her first mission with the Team, and the first official one of them all together.

She played with the straps of her seat on Miss Martian's Bioship, her legs bouncing with a bit of anxiety. She wasn't used to working on a team of so many people, especially when most of their fighting styles weren't ones she was used to. Kid Flash and Robin's were easier to adapt to, but she'd seen them fight before and had trained with them before, and the same couldn't be said for the others.

There was a nudge at her ankle and Storm Chaser turned around to look to see Robin giving her a reassuring smile and the tension in her shoulders eased a little.

Of the six of them, the ones with the most experience in heroing were Robin and Storm Chaser, and of the two of them, Robin definitely had more, besides, Storm Chaser wasn't really sure about being the leader of the group.

Their mission was taking them to Isla Santa Prisca, and island nation well-known for being the source of a dangerous neosteroid known as Venom. The drug had dangerous effects, from what Storm Chaser had gleaned of the documented cases, but the problem was that shipments of the drugs had stopped abruptly, despite that production hadn't halted, which meant they needed to find out what exactly was going on.

All in all, it relied on being very covert and there was at least one person that could hardly be considered covert, but Storm Chaser wasn't naming names.

"Drop zone A in thirty," Miss Martian said and Aqualad stood, pressing the symbol at his waist to darken the color of his uniform in an effort to better camouflage (Storm Chaser didn't have that problem, wearing black most of the time). "Putting Bioship in camouflage mode."

A hole formed in the bottom of the now invisible Bioship, or, at least nearly invisible, and Aqualad darted out, disappearing into the turbulent sea while they continued slowly overhead.

A moment later his voice came through the comlink. "Heat and motion sensors are patched. Data is now on a continuous loop. Move in."

Miss Martian pulled the Bioship to a stop over a parted space between the thick trees. "Drop zone B," she said, opening a hole through the floor once more and Storm Chaser disappeared through it, rolling her eyes at her cousin's attempt to flirt with Miss Martian, conjuring a storm cloud under her feet as she did so, floating around the Bioship before shooting up into the sky to hide amongst the storm clouds already gathering.

Storm Chaser fixed her goggles over her eyes, twisting them to zoom in and focus on the heat signatures on the island when her teammates voices blared in her ear.

"Knew I didn't need a line," came Superboy's smug tone.

"And yet," Robin said with a bit of annoyance, "creating a seismic event may not have helped us much with the covert."

"Aqualad," Miss Martian said, clearly ignoring the other two, "drop B is go…but I think we've misplaced Storm Chaser."

"That's likely," Storm Chaser sniggered.

"Storm Chaser, where are you?" Aqualad asked, sounding vaguely out of breath and Storm Chaser fixed her goggles towards where he was, evidently climbing his way up a cliff. Her eyebrows arched; he must have had a tight grip.

"Up a cloud, obviously," Storm Chaser drawled. "It's a good view of the factory up here…unless you want to regroup?"

There was a considering silence that she knew a bit too well as Robin weighed his options.

"You've got the location of the factory?" Robin asked.

Storm Chaser twisted the knobs around her goggles. "Noted."

"Rendezvous with Aqualad, you guys should be able to track us down."

"On it," Storm Chaser muttered, still hiding amongst the storm clouds until she was almost on top of Aqualad before dropping out of the sky to land on the cliff just as Aqualad managed to climb it.

"Do you make a habit of going off on your own?" he asked her wryly as he straightened up.

"C'mon, Kelpie," Storm Chaser smiled, "it's what I'm good at."

She couldn't tell if he was exasperated or feeling something else entirely, but Aqualad sighed all the same.

"Besides, I'm used to being the one staying back and monitoring everyone as Oracle, and I guess some habits are hard to kick."

Aqualad arched an eyebrow. It wasn't as though she hadn't been active since she'd come back home, and even when she'd been away, but she had been Oracle for months, she'd had to adapt to sitting at the sidelines.

"Did you hear that?" came Superboy's voice suddenly and they both paused.

"Uh, no," Kid Flash said, and Storm Chaser could almost see him rolling his eyes. "Wait, is this a super-hearing thing?"

"You do have great ears," Miss Martian sighed and Aqualad and Storm Chaser forced their eyes not to meet because they both knew they would crack a grin at the very least or full-on laugh at the most at how positively lovesick the Martian sounded in that moment.

"Okay, Rob, now what?"

There was a stilted silence following Kid Flash's words which were followed by the grumble of: "Man, I hate it when he does that!"

Undoubtedly Robin had pulled one of his vanishing acts, all in all, Storm Chaser wasn't terribly surprised.

"Superboy, Kid, switch to infrared," Aqualad said as he and Storm Chaser picked up their pace slightly, but still moving cautiously and silently. "See if you're being tracked."

Storm Chaser breathed out shortly to tug him behind a thick trunk of a tree, keeping them out of sight of a patrol. They both held their breath as the hooded figures moved past, their uniforms definitely not what the Santa Prisca workers would wear, with robes so long that they brushed against the ground.

"Got a squad of armed bozos incoming," Kid Flash mentioned a moment later.

"Two squads," Superboy corrected. "But they'll meet each other before they find us."

The squad had passed them by, leaving them room to breathe, but Aqualad did little more than murmur: "Swing wide, steer clear."

"Yeah, yeah," Kid Flash assured him, "as soon as I find Rob."

"This is going to end badly," Storm Chaser decided with a sigh as the sound of gunfire filled the coms. She ran a hand through her hair before glancing to Aqualad. "Want to take a shortcut?"

He considered her; Speedy had mentioned on more than one occasion of his great distaste towards flying around with his partner, though, Aqualad supposed that the grin she was currently sporting wasn't helping matters. But he put that aside, considering how fast they needed to make it to their teammates sides.

"Yes," he said and he was sure she could see his reluctance, but, thankfully, she didn't comment on it, pulling his arm securely over her shoulders before tightening her spare one around his waist as she gathered the air around them to form a storm cloud which then shot into the air. Aqualad could barely make out where they were going, but Storm Chaser clearly followed the GPS to the location of the others.

Aqualad hit the ground running, but Storm Chaser's knees buckled when she hit the ground after she'd pulled to a stop too sharply, falling through her cloud rather than jumping off like Aqualad had, but it took her less than a few seconds to pull herself upright and dart after him, leaping onto the back of the nearest man, shocking him into unconsciousness.

Kid Flash was doing a series of impressive gymnastics in order to avoid the spray of bullets while Superboy faced off against one of the enemies that was easily the largest. Robin dropped from the trees to strike a pair who fell like rocks and Miss Martian sent one colliding with a tree while Aqualad used his tattoos to shock one into unconsciousness.

Storm Chaser arched an eyebrow that couldn't be seen before smirking at him over the complaints of Robin and Kid Flash. "We should hang out more, Kelpie."

His smile was rather wry as he helped her drag the last of the stunned assailants to the clearing to tie them up.

"I recognize those uniforms," Robin was saying when Storm Chaser tied the last knot. "They belong to the cult of the Kobra."

Aqualad crossed his arms and frowned. "I am certain Batman would have mentioned it if he knew a dangerous extremist was running Santa Prisca's Venom operation."

"Unless he didn't know," Storm Chaser pointed out, standing to move over to where the group had coalesced. "Batman didn't have a lot of information about the mission to begin with, remember?"

Robin bobbed his head in agreement. "And since there's clearly no love lost between the cultist and those goons—" He nodded to where they were all trussed up. "—I'm betting Kobra came in and tossed them out. That's why normal supply lines have been cut off."

"We get it," Kid Flash said shortly, "Kobra wanted super-cultists, mystery solved. Radio Bats, and we'll be home in time—"

"These cultists aren't on Venom, Kobra's hoarding the stuff!" Robin interrupted. "We don't leave! Not until I know why."

"Until you know why?"

Storm Chaser's eyes flitted towards Kid Flash and Robin as they argued before shifting towards the others, and she could detect a level of exasperation from them.

"That one's up to something," Superboy murmured as she came to stand on his other side, nodding towards the man with large muscles and a black and white Lucha Libre mask. He was easily the most impressive of the bunch, speaking in Spanish under his breath to another.

"Such clever ninos," the man said chuckling at how Robin and Kid Flash doled out sass at one another, which was amusing to watch, if Storm Chaser was to give it a word. "But you only know half the story. Let me show you the rest, get you into the factory via my secret entrance."

Storm Chaser crossed her arms doubtfully. That sounded like a trap if she'd ever heard one, and she had, and that man was definitely a shifty one.

Miss Martian moved to kneel before him, raising a hand to her temple, frowning in concentration, her eyes glowing white as she used her telepathy. "There is a secret entrance," she admitted to them after a moment, "but he's also hiding something."

"Big surprise," Storm Chaser muttered to Kid Flash, who stifled a chuckle with difficulty.

"Ah, ah, ah, chica, Bane is not that easy," the man –Bane– taunted her and Miss Martian groaned in complaint.

"He's mentally reciting futbol scores en enspanol, this could take a while."

"It's not complicated," Bane said with an all too knowing smirk, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

This will not end well, Storm Chaser thought, though she kept her mouth shut, inclining her head as the others nodded in agreement.

"Storm Chaser, wait a moment."

Amara paused before following after her teammates and Wally and Dick both shot her curious glances over before she agreed to meet them at the Bioship.

"Dad didn't want to put me on probation, did he?" she asked shrewdly, crossing her arms and Batman's lips twitched slightly.

"He had considered it," Batman conceded and Amara rolled her eyes. "This is about the mission."

Then she quirked an eyebrow in interest. It was curious that he'd separated her from the others to speak about the mission they'd all been assigned.

"I'm well aware of the many tests you've run for Black Canary and Green Arrow, many leading to arrests," Batman continued and Amara ran a hand through her hair.

"Anyone can work a machine," she said rather modestly, her heel digging into ground. "I'm guessing there's something you want me to test on the island…maybe some enhanced Venom?"

There was a slight tilt of his head as an indication of his surprise, but for the most part he remained impassive. "Your contacts in the BlackNet are well-informed."

Amara crossed her arms, a frown darkening her face. "You want their product tested? You could've said that in front of the Team, though."

Batman said nothing.

"Is this a test?" she asked.

"That'll be all, Storm Chaser," he said, "I'm sure your teammates will want to leave as soon as possible."

Amara was flummoxed even as she rejoined her companions.

"Why is your dad so cryptic?" she muttered to Dick and he snorted.

The problem seemed to be that Storm Chaser and Robin were so accustomed to working with their partners than working on a team and they both disappeared rather soon into using the secret entrance. Storm Chaser ducked behind several large containers, her eyes darting towards the various figures clothed in the robes that identified them as members of the Cult of the Kobra.

Why did Batman even ask her to get a sample? Did he know that Kobra had been the ones to take over the island? Was this a test? The Justice League had always been a bit leery of her connection with BlackNet, even if that connection had resulted in the capture of several criminals and villains during her time on it.

Storm Chaser shrank from view as one of the cultists came close to where she was crouching, her eyes darting towards a closed off room that most of the new product appeared to be coming out of.

Her eyes narrowed. There was a lot of Venom here, but the cultists weren't touching the older product, only the newer stuff, making her think that the older product didn't have whatever advancements that the newer shipments had.

She checked to make sure that no one was coming or going from the room before quickly making her way inside.

There were rows upon rows of vials full of a deep blue liquid, and thankfully with only minimal guards, but she still had to hide upon her entry. But that didn't stop one Kobra member from catching sight of her and very nearly raising the alarm.

Storm Chaser moved swiftly forward, slamming her hand over his mouth to silence him, but an unconscious Kobra member not checking in wouldn't really help their operation. Unfortunately, that really only left Storm Chaser with one option, as dubious as it was, though she had proven to have some skill in it, judging how easily she'd managed to disarm Robin back when she was still playing the part of Masquerade.

Pheromones, she knew from her research –because she'd done some extensive research on the subject when she'd discovered she might had an aptitude towards it– could cause the subject to become highly suggestible, hence how she'd managed to convince Robin to drop his eskrima sticks so easily.

Storm Chaser breathed in and out deeply and gave him her biggest and most flirtatious smile (and that was saying something, because Storm Chaser was definitely not a flirtatious person), feeling a light ripple on the air. For the most part her pheromone control was one she didn't notice most of the time, being rather subconscious, but she had proven that she had at least some conscious control of it.

She focused hard on the man on front of her.

"You didn't see anything unusual," she said, "and you're going to go about your business."

His eyes slid out of focus as the suggestion took root and he drifted away from her, though not enough to warrant attention, allowing Storm Chaser a small sigh of relief as she turned back to her work again.

She pilfered a vial from one of the boxes on the shelf, pulling a black cylinder from her pocket in order to lock the substance safely inside, before returning it to her pocket and searching for a nearby vacant computer. It was a sad testament of the security that she found one with very little effort.

Storm Chaser's fingers tapped out against the keyboard, clipping her flash drive into the slot as she waded through the information on the server before finding the information she was looking for.

Then there was a sound like metal banging and distant yelling. Storm Chaser grimaced; her teammates were not known for their subtlety.

There was an odd twinge in the back of her head and then Miss Martian's voice rang clear as day in her mind: Is everyone online?

Yeah, came Superboy's grumble.

You know it, beautiful, Kid Flash said and Storm Chaser couldn't resist rolling her eyes, scanning her eyes over a mutated chemical formula.

Good, Aqualad said, we need to regroup.

Busy now, Robin countered.

Seconded, Storm Chaser concurred and Kid Flash made his complaints loud and clear.

You two were the ones that vanished without a word!

Storm Chaser ignored him, and she was certain that Robin had done so as well, her attention was better suited on the screen before her eyes. It looked to her as though the chemical formula she was seeing recorded was a combination of the usual Venom and the Blockbuster formula from Project Cadmus…but how had Kobra managed to get that formula?

Robin, Storm Chaser, now! Storm Chaser grimaced at Aqualad's voice echoing in her skull, but she couldn't very well leave.

I'll meet you on the outside, she said instead, and she was sure if they weren't so pressed for time that Aqualad would have argued more.

Strategic retreat, he said instead, Kid clear a path!

But then Storm Chaser paid no heed to the noises beyond the enclosed room, nor the sounds of loud gunfire, she had a job to do, and they would get out without much trouble.

She zoomed in on the chemical formula…how had they managed to bond the separate formulas together? They'd seen the effects of the Blockbuster formula back at Project Cadmus, and it was overwhelmingly negative, though she would concede that the increase in strength was quite something and maybe some scientists under the employ of Kobra had found a way to combine the two to create an additive reaction.

Her fingers tapped the down key and she frowned, pursing her lips, hardly noticing how the sounds had faded out. The new Kobra-Venom's effects were permanent and in many ways disfiguring.

Storm Chaser's eyes scanned over the documents in the files.

The blocked off tunnel was where the change in leadership was transferred from Robin to Aqualad, less than ideal conditions, but they all knew who was better at getting their point across, and it definitely wasn't Robin, at least, not right now.

"Okay, but, elephant in the room," Kid Flash said sharply with his arms crossed, "has anyone seen my cousin?"

"She's still linked," Miss Martian informed him.

Sorry, came Storm Chaser's voice, but Kelpie was giving such a rousing speech, I figured silence was the way to go.

Aqualad sighed at the nickname, which made Superboy snort and Miss Martian smile, but the other two weren't surprised.

Amy, where are you? Kid Flash demanded.

Back at the warehouse, where did you think I was? Storm Chaser snorted.

Thought you were going to meet up with us, Robin prompted with an arched eyebrow.

I will, Storm Chaser said, but I was kind of busy with what Batman told me to do.

Which was? Miss Martian asked inquisitively.

That would be telling.

Kid Flash rolled his eyes at the ceiling.

Don't worry, I only got caught by one guy, and he's not talking, Storm Chaser sounded positively gleeful, which was a good reason to be suspicious.

Why's that? Superboy asked.

Do we want to know? Robin corrected.

Well…I might have suggested he not tell anyone about it, Storm Chaser wheedled.

There was silence as the others tried to make sense of it, confusion being the clearest feeling present on their faces.

Tell me you didn't, Kid Flashed muttered in exasperation.

C'mon, Wally, it's like you don't know me…besides, it's a subconscious thing, Storm Chaser defended.

You flirted with a Kobra member? Robin finally managed.

Flirted is such a strong word and he definitely wasn't my type, Storm Chaser countered sourly. By the way, they're fixing whatever Robin broke in the helicopter, so we could use a plan, a really good fool-proof one.

They all looked to Aqualad. We'll need to regroup first, Storm Chaser, keep an eye on Sportsmaster until you can meet us.

Will do, Storm Chaser's disembodied voice came.

"Cause a distraction, he says," Storm Chaser muttered to herself from where she was hiding within a cloud above the amassed people outside the operational helicopter. "Like I don't know how to cause a distraction."

You know we can hear you, right? Miss Martian asked with a vein of amusement, but Storm Chaser ignored her, dropping out of the sky to land on the ground a good couple of feet from Sportsmaster –and he was a lot bigger than she'd originally thought, it was like he was pure muscle– and surrounded by Kobra members who took note of her sudden appearance by jolting wildly.

"Hi!" Storm Chaser said, grinning as she twirled her batons in her hands. "Who wants to play a game of 'catch the meta-human'?"

Then the guns were trained on her and fired, but while Storm Chaser's speed was nowhere near the level of Kid Flash's, she'd learned that being quick and clever was always better than using brute strength. Storm Chaser vaulted out of the way, colliding her batons against the nearest Kobra members, knocking them out cold with a short burst of electricity. She'd managed to get ten before Kid Flash joined the fray.

He knocked his way through the cultists, grabbing Storm Chaser up so fast that the ones nearest her had to leap back in surprise, but Kid Flash only held her as long as it took to drop her off as Aqualad's side as the other members of the Team made their appearance, before heading off to take out some more cultists.

Aqualad had formed a thick stream of water that was controlled by his water-bearers, sending the water against the permanently mutated human that was called Mammoth. Storm Chaser extended a hand to cause a spark of electricity to form in the air around her hand before she pressed it against the stream of water.

The next thing either of them knew, Mammoth's body was contorting from the shock of the lightning being delivered to his system.

"Remind me never to anger you," Aqualad said once the man-beast was out cold.

Storm Chaser cast him a smile that was a bit too close to a smirk before rushing off to assist her cousin who'd gained an impressive number of Kobra members on his tail.

She socked one painfully in the face before pulling a bola from her utility belt and throwing it in order to trap another.

The pair lost track of their teammates in seconds, but it didn't matter; they all knew the plan.

The helicopter took flight with Sportsmaster on board, but that had been part of the plan as well, followed by a few moments of victory on his part until the strategically placed bomb on the merchandise blew, causing the helicopter to fall back towards the warehouse, alight with fire.

Storm Chaser focused her goggles over her eyes and scowled. That had definitely been Sportsmaster who had leapt out of the burning helicopter to freedom in the jungle, but it would be foolish to go after him now.

In the chaos Kobra had vanished too, but Storm Chaser wasn't surprised.

"Wow, great covert mission, guys," Storm Chaser voiced, locking an arm around Robin's neck. "I can see we've got the makings of greatness here."

Kid Flash flicked her cheek and Robin tried to throw off her arm which she then examined with a wince.

"Aw, man," she complained, "I ripped out my stitches!"

"That's what you care about?" Superboy asked dubiously.

"Girl's got enough scars, Gene Pool, that's all I'm saying."

And deep in her pocket the Kobra-Venom sloshed in it's container, ready to be analyzed upon their arrival back at the Cave.

Storm Chaser got the feeling it was going to be a long night.


"A simple recon mission, observe and report," Batman said sharply and Amara shifted uncomfortably in the line-up that was her and her teammates, of course, she thought she did a better job at observing and reporting, but she wasn't going to admit that now. "You'll each receive a written evaluation detailing your many mistakes. Until then…good job."

Amara was sure her neck had cracked when she whipped her head around to stare at Batman, and she wasn't the only one.

"No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy," Batman said, "how you adjust to the unforeseen is what determines success, and how you choose who leads determines character."

Batman was about to make his way towards the zeta-tube when Amara cleared her throat loudly, waving her hand obnoxiously. "Hey, how soon do you want the results to the Kobra-Venom I swiped from the cultists?"

"That's what you were doing for Batman?" Robin demanded, eyebrows raising above his sun glasses and Amara winked.

"How long do you need?" Batman asked instead.

Amara considered it for a moment. "Give me…ten hours, that should give you the most in-depth. I'll send you the results when I get them."

Batman inclined his head before making his way to the exit, leaving the Team together.

"Sneaking around in the warehouse, Amy, really?"

Amara crossed her arms. "Coming from the guy who skid and landed in front of Kobra and Bane's men?"

Wally flushed to the tips of his ears. "Oh, shut up," he muttered as Dick cackled.

"Why wouldn't Batman have been up front about you gathering a sample of the product to be tested?" Kaldur wondered aloud.

She shrugged her shoulders. "I always figured it was a test, you know, to see how trustworthy I am after coming back. You know what they say: once you go grey, you never go back." She grinned widely at them before pulling her phone out of her pocket and pressing it to her ear.

"Hey, babe," she said, rubbing at her eyes. "No, I just got back and I'm ready to hit the hay…the fuck, Jade? It's too early in the morning for this…all right, fine, I'll be there as long as there's coffee, lots of coffee."

Amara shoved her phone back in her pocket. "Sorry," she said, "gotta run, meeting the girlfriend for breakfast."

"Is this the girlfriend that's not really your girlfriend or have you actually started dating?" Wally called after her and Amara laughed before gave no answer.

"She is very confusing," M'gann said once she'd gone.

"Just wait," Dick snorted. "It's only going to get worse."

Chapter Text

It'd been a long time since Jade had had any friends, much less ones that were still alive despite their friendship with her, and she hadn't initially considered Amy to be her friend, but the meta-human had grown on her, a bit like a fungus –which was incredibly ironic, given who her mother was– and it was refreshing to have a hero that actively dealt in thievery.

But here she was with a twelve year old –nearly thirteen, Amy never let her forget that– being the person who seemed to know the most about her. It was strange how it had come to that, but they both had their share of oddities.

The problem with being friends with Amy, though, was that she had a tendency to stick her nose where it didn't belong, and that didn't sit well with the Light. She could distinctly recall her father's voice edged with cold warning: "Find a way to keep her out, or I will, permanently."

Jade's legs twitched uncomfortably under the table as she tapped her fingers against it in aggravation. She remembered how it had been when Amy had lost the use of her legs, with fury boiling just under the surface of her skin, only kept at bay by determination, –she'd been able to ascertain that even with their limited involvement– but she wouldn't let her father do that to her again, or worse.

The door to the pancake house opened and she looked up to see the door shutting behind Amy and the younger girl smiled when she saw her before making her way towards the booth she was situated in.

"Assassinated anyone important since I last saw you?" Amy asked her lightly before ordering some chocolate chip pancakes.

"Nothing that I'd admit to," Jade smirked, watching her with interest as she downed the steaming cup of black coffee that Jade had ordered for Amy shortly before she'd arrived without even blinking. "Late night?" she asked mildly.

"I wouldn't know," Amy snorted once she'd swallowed the last of the drink, "I haven't been to sleep yet."

Jade arched an eyebrow. "You'll work yourself to death one day, Storm."

Amy rolled her eyes, thanking the waitress when the pancakes were slid in front of her. Jade didn't see the point of her getting a lot of food since she wouldn't be there long, but she did snag a bit of one of Amy's pancakes, much to Amy's outrage.

"So, what've you got for me?" Amy asked once she'd gotten about halfway through the pancakes and Jade withdrew a small box and slid it across the table.

Amy took it, weighing it in her hands before arching an eyebrow. The box was shaped like it held a necklace of some kind, being long and black. It was the color of the box that mattered the most, because, like many things that involved Cheshire and Masquerade, it was a code.

Black boxes always contained flash-drives.

"I'm going to be out of the country for awhile," Jade said and the expression on Amy's face warped into confusion.

"How long?" she asked.

"Couple of months, maybe," Jade gave a shrug, trying to play it off as then less than it was, and it was only because she was so good at lying in her line of work that Amy didn't catch it. "My master has me on several high profile assassinations that will keep me out of the states for awhile."

There was a slight twitch in Amy's jaw that no one but someone who knew her exceedingly well would have caught, and Jade knew how Amy felt about Ra's al Ghul, but Jade's loyalty to him wasn't something she could really understand.

"Those should keep you busy while I'm gone," she added, gesturing towards the box she'd given Amy.

"You know I can find my own jobs to do," Amy said with a sigh, her shoulders sagging just a little, just enough to make Jade smirk. "I was Oracle long before I started working with Cheshire, you know."

Jade's smirk drew into a grin. "Well, if you don't think you can handle the challenge…" She extended her hand and was amused to see how Amy's grip tightened over the box.

"I didn't say I was completely against it," she said sourly. "Besides, I'm ahead on my studies anyways."

"And who doesn't love a rebellious teenager," Jade snorted while Amy stabbed at the remnants of her pancakes.

"Not a teenager until August 10th," Amy muttered, "and my dad, probably. He's tried to get me to give up what I've earned as Oracle and Masquerade before." She gulped down some more of the coffee from her recently refilled cup.

"How'd that go?"

"Well, it could have gone better," Amy conceded, "but it's not like anyone knows my current aliases, but he doesn't like the idea of me being on BlackNet."

They settled into a stilted silence while Amy finished the last of her pancakes and Jade toyed with her cup of tea that she'd barely taken a sip from. The only thing that broke the silence was the buzzing from Jade's phone.

"I need to head out," Jade said, barely glancing at the words on the screen.

"Make sure you don't die," Amy said, lifting her eyes to follow Jade as she slid out of the booth to stand, dropping enough change to cover Amy's breakfast and her tea. "You keep my life from being utterly boring."

"Ah, Storm, keep talking like that and you're going to make me swoon!" Jade fanned herself and Amy rolled her eyes before giving her a little wave as Jade stepped out the door into the bright sunlight, content in that the contents of the flash drive would at least keep her attention away from the Light and thus away from her father.

Barry could hear the soft thrum of music coming from Amara's room –some new rock band whose name he couldn't have recalled– which wasn't necessarily unusual, but Amara had a tendency to stay at the Cave when he and Iris were working, but maybe the Cave had too many people now with M'gann and Superboy living there.

He gave a light knock on the door, calling his daughter's name gently, only pushing the door open when she didn't answer, and it was only then that he was greeted with a surprising sight.

There were papers strewn throughout the room, which wasn't like her; Amara was generally very organized with her things.

The genetics book he'd gotten her back before her temporary leave of absence, as they liked to call it in the Allen family, was open to a random page and Barry could see signs of her tell-tale green high-lighter on the pages open. She'd pasted two enlarged and very different DNA strands on the walls with red marks and notes over them.

She'd clearly spent the day throwing herself back into her genetics research, but the girl herself was much less chaotic.

Barry had to smile softly at the sight of his daughter curled up on the part of her bed that wasn't covered with paper or books or even her laptop. Her face was relaxed and her breathing was even and deep and Barry couldn't quite remember a time that he'd seen her so peaceful.

He shut off her iPod where it was still playing music from the speakers it was plugged into, before shutting her laptop and clearing the books and papers away from the bed. He piled them neatly on her desk and she was still so deeply asleep that she didn't so much as twitch as he pulled the light blanket up over her.

Barry smiled softly as he bent down to press a kiss to her brow, leaving her to slumber in the silence.

"I found something amazing!" Amara declared the next day when she was fully conscious once more. It was a Saturday, so her parents could indulge her manic excitement.

"Given the state of your room, I would hope so," Iris said wryly and Amara waved her off, her excitement too great to be abated as she spread papers across the table, which wasn't necessarily a good thing, considering they were eating a late breakfast.

"This is a strand of your DNA," Amara said, jabbing her finger at her father before tapping it against the paper only to draw out another long paper with a similar strand of DNA. "And this is what a normal human's looks like. It's actually Mom's."

"Aw, babe, did you hear that?" Iris grinned towards her husband. "Our daughter things I'm a normal human!"

"That's terrible!"

"You're both terrible," Amara grated. "Look at my research, I found something huge!" She scowled for emphasis, and then they both paid attention, because this project of hers was very important to her and she'd been working on it (and putting it off from time to time) for awhile.

"The outer-part of the DNA strand is the sugar-phosphate backbone –I know, I looked it up–"

Barry stifled his snort.

"Anyways," Amara continued, pointing at Iris' DNA strand. "On Mom's, everything's normal, just the usual sugar and phosphate, but over here—" She switched quickly, leaning over the table to where Barry's data was strewn, pointing out the outer shell of his DNA which both Barry and Iris noted in surprise was very different from Iris'. It looked almost like a foreign substance had integrated with the sugar-phosphate, changing it entirely. "—it's completely different. I think this is what you get when a meta-human is man-made, like how Dad was completely normal before his little accident. But the nitrogenous bases with their hydrogen bonds inside the sugar-phosphate are fine, they haven't been changed at all."

Iris was certain she wouldn't have been able to follow as well if Amara hadn't brought a key to label the parts of the DNA, because science had always been more of Barry's things than hers.

"But then you look at mine, being a meta-human that was born, not made…" Amara continued, pulling a new DNA strand on paper, this one, undoubtedly hers. "And there's nothing wrong with my sugar-phosphate backbone, that's completely normal, like Mom's, but the nitrogenous bases are out of whack."

"I'm lost," Iris sighed, looking from Barry's to Amara's and not really seeing much of a difference, which made Barry laugh and Amara turn just a bit exasperated.

"Nitrogenous bases only pair to certain other nitrogenous bases," Barry explained for Amara, "Adenine only pairs with Thymine, and Guanine only pairs with Cytosine, but Amy's got several that don't match up." His finger smoothed over the several areas on her DNA strand where something didn't belong was.

"Missense mutation," Amara said proudly, her eyes glittering, "I looked it up myself."

She hefted her book from where it had been resting on her seat, reading from a passage that she had clearly high-lighted.

"A missense mutation is a mutation in which a single nucleotide change results in a codon that codes for a different amino acid," she recited from the book. "Only, these nucleotides weren't recognized by the genetic marker database that S.T.A.R. Labs has, get it?"

Iris had no idea, but Barry leaned forward in interest. "Because their database has never seen it before," he considered, "no one really thought about isolating the sequence that causes meta-humans to be born the way they are."

"Why not?" Iris and Amara asked as one.

"Well, heroes aren't really into giving their blood to other people since it can be used to identify them," Barry informed them.

"I got several heroes blood," Amara said a bit miffed.

"You're also a hero and this was technically for a science project," Barry said dryly, "though I still think you should have a geneticist look over your research, they probably know more."

Amara's shoulders fell slightly. "Oh."

"But this is real great stuff," he assured her, "you really went all out and you know Mom and I are really proud of you."

Amara's face glowed as she smiled and Iris was glad that she had something to fascinate her as much as genetics did, even if she could barely understand it.


Amara positively sang her name when she came tearing in through the door during her shift the next day and Pamela couldn't help but grin in response. Even if Amara had no idea who she was –yet, she would be telling her before she left Central City, even if it was the day of, because Pamela was good at nothing if not putting things off to the last possible second– it still warmed her heart to see her daughter so happy to see her.

"Having a good day?" Pamela laughed, leaning against her broom and arching an eyebrow. Amara's birthday was coming up, but it was still a bit more than two weeks away, so that couldn't be why she was excited.

"I made a breakthrough in my genetics project!" If she was smiling any wider she would have split her face and it almost made Pamela want to take out her phone and snap a picture of the expression, but she held herself back.

"That's great!" Of course, Amara hadn't really mentioned what in particular she was researching, so Pamela had to assume that it had something to do with her extracurriculars, by which she meant when Amara was running around with a bo-staff and wearing an outfit that was almost entirely black.

"Dad wants a geneticist to look over my research to see if I'm actually onto anything serious, though," Amara hummed as she hopped up onto the chair behind the counter which only caused her to swing around in her exuberance in jumping up onto it.

"Which is a good idea," Pamela agreed and Amara wrinkled her nose, making the woman laugh. "That's how you know if you're going in the right direction."

"I suppose," Amara gave a very put-upon sigh, greeting the customer that entered the doors with a smile and a welcoming tone.

"How's the math going?" Pamela asked once the harried customer had paid for a bouquet for a wedding she was evidently very late to, and Amara's face drew into a grimace.

"I mean, it's not going terrible," she acquiesced, "I'd probably be doing worse if my friend Richard hadn't given me some pointers."

"A math whiz?" Pamela presumed.

"Worse," Amara drawled out with a shudder, "a mathlete."

And they both couldn't help but laugh.

Storm Chaser's shoulder was aching as she leapt from one building's rooftop to next one, using air manipulation to lighten her weight so she didn't crumple when she landed, but Storm Chaser didn't stop moving.

It was nothing short of aggravating that Speedy wasn't around, she'd gotten far too used to having him at her back that going to not having a partner was actually a bit debilitating.

Of course, she still had Green Arrow and Black Canary, so it wasn't like she was running around by herself, because that would have been rather terrible.

A bullet just missed the back of her leg, lodging into the brick roof and Storm Chaser bit down a swear.

"Tell me I don't have to keep running around like a chicken with its head cut off," Storm Chaser seethed through gritted teeth. Her exhaustion was starting to get to her and she hadn't really mastered the ability to stop projectiles moving at high velocity through manipulation of the air, which was something Black Canary was trying to test her skill in (needless to say, it wasn't going very well).

"Almost there," her mentor's voice rang in her ear, and Storm Chaser was forced to duck behind a brick wall to avoid the next spray of bullets. The sniper was good, that was for sure, but those bullets weren't fast enough to hit her.

"You know," she said breathlessly, "when you asked me what I was doing tonight, being used as target practice wasn't exactly what I had in mind."

There was a distinct chuckle that Storm Chaser knew from memory belonged to Green Arrow.

"We'll keep it in mind for next time," he promised and Storm Chaser couldn't help but groan, pausing at the sound of a scream piercing the night that had often made Storm Chaser wonder how she hadn't lost her hearing by now.

"We got him," came Black Canary's voice over the com, "you can take a breather, SC."

"Good," Storm Chaser groaned, leaning heavily against the wall. She was starting to regret all those times that she'd turned down her father to go jogging (of course, it was a stupid idea to go jogging with him to begin with because he was the Flash and he was going to be faster than her anyways).

She allowed herself a brief moment to catch her breath before Black Canary came over the com: "Looks like you and I are on downtown duty, SC, want to swing by and pick me up?"

Black Canary meant by cloud, obviously, because Storm Chaser had hardly touched Speedy's motorcycle since he'd taken off, and her mentor, at least, wasn't all that squeamish about traveling via cloud.

"On my way!" Storm Chaser took a running leap off the building, gathering the air around her into a visible cloud, swinging around the high-reaching abandoned building that the sniper had once been nestled in.

There'd been a few lucky shots, but it was almost a good thing that he'd only been aiming at the three of them, and Storm Chaser counted her lucky stars that she hadn't ended up was a bullet through part of her body like Green Arrow had (his upper arm, and he was very miffed about it, if the grumbling complaints were any indication) because there'd be no way to explain that away from her dad.

Storm Chaser hovered outside of one of the cleared windows, allowing her mentor to jump out onto her back before shooting off towards downtown.

"You did good work today, Amy," Dinah smiled when they were back within one of Oliver's equipment caches, but Amara didn't really feel that way.

After the whole mess with the sniper was dealt with there'd been no less than five criminals trying to make good use of the Star City Heroes distraction, and that was in downtown alone. She'd managed to fall on her face and scratch up her cheek and she was definitely going to have bruises down the side of her left leg, but at least she didn't need to be stitched up like Oliver.

"I was almost shot four times," Amara said flatly, "I fell on my face and down some stairs."

Oliver coughed to silence his chuckles and Dinah's lips curled up into a smirk.

"That falling on your face was pretty funny," she conceded and Amara rolled her eyes, ignoring her mentor just in spite, "but considering everything today, I still think you did pretty good."

Good without Roy, she meant, and Amara was glad that those words hadn't been spoken.

"Ollie," she said instead, "want me to stitch you up?"

Dinah had been working hard the past few days and Amara knew she wasn't the only one that thought the meta-human looked dead on her feet. Amara wasn't even trying to be subtle and Dinah narrowed her eyes shrewdly.

"That's a roundabout way to kick me out, isn't it?" she asked wryly.

"Yes," Amara and Oliver said as one and she rolled her eyes before striding forward to give her boyfriend a swift kiss.

"I'll see you at home, then, babe," she said before making her way out of the cache and leaving Amara to pull the rolling stool towards the chair where Oliver was sitting in, before grabbing the tray of utensils that the Star City Heroes used to stitch themselves back together.

Amara threaded the needle with the suture thread before examining the wound and pulling the skin together which wasn't an exactly pleasant feeling, but Amara was sure that Oliver had been stitched up too many times to feel that uncomfortable with what she was doing.

"So what've you been up to?" the man who she rather considered to be a surrogate uncle asked, eyes fixing on her even when she didn't look up from her task.

"I'm no longer failing math," Amara informed him, "because I think Dad was about to pull me from hero duty if my grade dropped." She had a mid-C right now, but she was sure she could bump it up before the semester was done.

"Well, that's good," Oliver said blandly and Amara couldn't help but smirk.

"I've pretty much finished that project on meta-human genetics and Dad thinks I should have a geneticist look over the results to make sure I didn't make any mistakes."

Oliver arched an eyebrow, impressed. "Really? What did you find out?"

"Its, um, very science-y, you might not like it," Amara muttered as she threaded the needle through his skin, pulling the suture thread taut.

"I don't mind," Oliver almost laughed but aborted the action at the last moment and Amara bit the inside of her cheek, considering him.

"I may have found what makes someone a meta-human when they're born with it instead of man-made, like Dad."

Oliver found himself staring at her. "Really?" he repeated.

"Maybe," Amara acquiesced, "if I can find some geneticist to look at it and give me a serious opinion, but it's not like it's something that's really important, I mean I don't need it looked at immediately."

Oliver gave a one-armed shrug. "Either way, you found something, which means you get credit for the discovery, what are you calling it? The bit that makes someone a meta-human?"

Amara hadn't really thought about it and paused her work to screw up her face slightly.

"Meta-gene," she decided before opening her mouth to say something when her phone buzzed and she shrugged it out of her pocket, using her shoulder to keep it in place on her ear. "Hey, and here I thought you weren't going to be in contact for awhile," she said and Oliver feigned not listening in on the one-sided conversation.

"Your sister lives in Gotham, it's not exactly close by, babe," Amara continued with a vein of annoyance, sticking the needle through his skin again, "Goddess isn't stupid and she's got a bow, I'm sure she doesn't need someone checking up on her, much less someone doing it at her sister's request…fine, but you owe me."

She grumbled as she dropped the phone onto the tray. "Sorry about that," she added to Oliver, "one of my BlackNet contacts has a pretty shoddy father and she's worried about her sister."

More like Jade was worried about how Sportsmaster would react if he found out his daughter was out in costume and firing off arrows at criminals. Amara could understand that, but it wasn't as though Artemis couldn't handle herself, Amara had gathered that much from spending one night with her, besides, Sportsmaster struck her as being the type to be more absent than present.

"I'm apparently a very ditchable prom date," she grumbled.

Oliver gave her an odd look. "First Roy, now her, my partners keep up and vanishing."

He probably would've said something on the subject of his adoptive son or even Amara's involvement with BlackNet, but by then she'd finished suturing and had pasted gauze over the wound and the look on her face showed that her thoughts were clearly elsewhere so Oliver thought it was best to keep his mouth shut.

The next day a man in Gotham found himself lacking several rather expensive first edition books with a golden masquerade mask resting inside the relatively undisturbed case where the books had once been with the words Better luck next time on it.

And he couldn't help but wonder how a thief had managed to get past his extensive security to take the books of all things.

Chapter Text

It wasn't everyday that Artemis found herself waking to the sound of someone jimmying open the window and sliding it up all the way, and it was startling, if nothing else. Artemis had barely managed to grab an arrow when an all-too-familiar voice had broke through the silence.

"Oh, good, you're awake, I need to hide some stolen stuff at your place for awhile."

Artemis froze staring at the girl maneuvering into her room, a gold mask hiding her eyes, but not the red painted lips. She was wearing what Artemis almost mistook as a loose red dress over skintight black material, but it wasn't.

"Storm Chaser?" she asked dubiously, recognizing that voice paired with that grin.

"My day job," the girl agreed, bringing her leg into the room and shutting the window behind her as she heaved a rucksack onto the bed that Jade had once occupied.

"Hero by day and notorious thief by night?" Artemis asked, flicking on the lamp by her bed. "That's a bit of a jump."

"A girl's got to make a living," the girl said, shrugging. "I hope you don't mind but it's too far for me to make it to my safe house and back before my dad notices I'm not in my bed. And he'snever happy when I steal other people's property."

"You're unbelievable," Artemis groaned, flopping back onto her bed in exasperation while Masquerade hefted the rucksack to tuck it into a corner in her closet where it couldn't be seen.

"Aw, that's so flattering." Artemis could swear she was fluttering her eyelashes at her, even if she couldn't see her eyes behind that mask of hers. "You sure do know how to make a girl feel welcome."

Artemis rolled her eyes and Masquerade sat down on Jade's bed, massaging one of her heels where it was strapped into red high heels. The heels made her look taller than she was, but even then Artemis was sure she'd grown a little since their paths last crossed.

"Why do you rob people in heels?" Artemis asked the first question that came to mind.

"I have a common theme," Masquerade said, grinning as she gestured towards the mask covering a good portion of her face, then to the almost-dress, before ending at the heels. "First gig I had was at a masquerade ball and combat boots kind of stick out."

Artemis doubted she'd ever understand the girl that hid behind the mask, whether it was Masquerade's or Storm Chaser's; she was remarkably odd.

"See you around, Goddess." Masquerade gave her a red-painted smile before disappearing out of the window once more.

Being called onto Storm Chaser duty in the middle of the day wasn't all together rare, but they weren't nearly as common either. And yet Storm Chaser still found her caught off guard when she arrived in Star City by cloud to see some kind of android at odds against Black Canary and Green Arrow and they weren't faring too well.

"What the hell?" Storm Chaser demanded before leaping to action, only to have said android turn on her and say "Access Black Canary."

And a resonating scream identical to her mentor's was fired from the android's mouth, throwing Storm Chaser back and into the wall with a sharp groan.

"SC, you all right?" came Black Canary's voice over the comms.

"Only my pride, only my pride," Storm Chaser muttered, ducking with a yelp as the android's arm shot through the wall where her head had once been.

An arrow shot through the air to hit the android's shoulder, causing foam to erupt around it just long enough to give Storm Chaser the opportunity to race away, vaulting behind a stray car and ducking for cover.

"What the hell is that thing?" she demanded over the comms.

"An android," Green Arrow retorted and Storm Chaser couldn't help rolling her eyes at how blunt he'd been.

"Who sent it?"

"Right now we're more focused on shutting it down," Black Canary added and Storm Chaser peered around the car she was using as a shield in time to see Black Canary run out and release a scream that was negated by the android's.

"How'd it get BC's Canary Cry?" she asked out loud.

"It seems to have the ability to duplicate its opponents' abilities," Green Arrow remarked with annoyance. But he was more long distance with his arrows, so there wasn't much the android could take from him. Black Canary and Storm Chaser, on the other hand had superpowers that were a bit more troublesome to their enemies.

"SC, run!"

Storm Chaser yelped as the scream directed towards the car she was hiding behind, and then she gathered the air around her, shooting up into the air on a conjured cloud.

It was a serious problem if it could replicate abilities, mostly because Storm Chaser knew just how destructive hers could be.

But maybe her lightning could be shocking enough to its circuits.

"That sounds like a bad idea waiting to happen," Green Arrow's voice disagreed and Storm Chaser blinked in surprise, not realizing she had spoken out loud.

"Do you have a better idea?" she asked, just this side of aggravated.

"Not particularly," Green Arrow had to concede before firing off an explosive arrow and collided with the android's metallic chest with a hulled bang. "But if it doesn't work, then he's got your powers too."

"Maybe I don't count because I'm just a sidekick? You know, not enough juice." But it wasn't like atmo-kinetics were common in the Justice League; Storm Chaser was the first.

She could hear the sigh coming from Black Canary before Green Arrow radioed for help, just as she leapt onto the android's back, not unlike how she had when Weather Wizard had when he'd attacked Star City.

Storm Chaser clung to its back, her eyes glowing with electricity as she channeled it over her body and against the android with a shocking burst. The amount would've been particularly shocking to a human, and it should've at the very least short-circuited the android, but unfortunately, it appeared to have no effect on the android, who instead remarked, "Access Black Canary" and reached back to rip her off its back and fling her in a manner that Black Canary was famous for using.

She yelped as she went flying, stopping just short of colliding painfully with the window of a shop by a blur of red.

"Having a good day, Storm Chaser?" Flash asked dryly and Storm Chaser's cheeks burned with color.

"To be fair," she said as her darted towards where Black Canary was standing with Green Arrow while Martian Manhunter tried his hand against the android, being the closest hero to Star City to answer their distress call, "I'm not the only one getting my ass kicked."

"Language," Flash mentioned mildly as he set his daughter on her feet once more.

"You might not be able to tell, but this is me rolling my eyes."

"You didn't inherit that sharp tongue from me, which is all that I'm glad for right now," Flash responded with a grin.

"I'm adopted," Storm Chaser mentioned archly, "I didn't inherit anything from you."

Exasperation bubbled from Black Canary and Green Arrow as they watched father and daughter bicker back and forth; this was probably the reason why they didn't patrol together, more than the fact that Storm Chaser couldn't really keep up with her father.

"Be back in a flash," Flash said with a wide grin, before darting away as Storm Chaser yelled after him "That's not really funny anymore!"

Storm Chaser sulked slightly before turning back towards her mentor as Green Arrow lurched forward to assist when Martian Manhunter collided with a building. "Who else is coming? Or is it just Martian Manhunter and Flash?"

"I doubt they'll be enough," Black Canary admitted doubtfully, favoring her arm where Storm Chaser could see a rip through her jacket that was stained red. "Superman, Batman, Red Tornado, and Captain Atom are coming to assist."

It sounded a bit like over-kill to Storm Chaser, but then she saw the android using Martian Manhunter's shape-shifting abilities to elongate his arms and knock Green Arrow a few meters back while Flash quickened into a red blur, racing around the android even as the android intoned "Access Black Canary" and released another sonic scream in a circle so that at least some of it would hit the speedster.

It slowed him enough that the android could use Martain Manhunter's shape-shifting again to knock him back and disorient him before opening its mouth and uttering "Access Storm Chaser."

Storm Chaser was already rushing forward, placing herself between the android and her father before Black Canary could stop her. Her upraised arms took the brunt of the voltage before she could try to redirect it.

Four hours later when the android had finally been subdued, Amara was walking through the zeta-tube to the monitor womb with Black Canary and Martian Manhunter, exhausted and in pain. Unfortunately, the android had managed to knock her out somewhere around hour two, but it had still taken eight Leaguers two more hours to dismantle the android, so it wasn't like Amara was the only one who had gotten kicked around. Dinah had ended up dragging her over to an empty alley while she was out of it, only rousing once the fighting was done to her father hovering over her in concern.

She peeled off her mask and rolled her shoulders as they came across Wally, Superboy, Kaldur, M'gann, and Dick.

"Are you all right?" Dick asked in concern, his eyebrows rising above his sunglasses but Wally was already on her, green eyes close as he took in her bruises and the blood down the side of her face.

"Someone used you like a punching bag," he noticed, his brow furrowing with worry. "Anyone we know?"

"I doubt it," Amara said, only managing a half-smirk with how her jaw ached. "I'll be fine," she added, catching the look on his face, "but what I do need is a shower and a med-kit."

"Come back when you're done," Dinah mentioned and Amara saluted with an arm that burned from the movement, getting the feeling that Dinah wanted her to hurry.

Amara ran a hand through her hair making her way towards the showers and locking the door behind her as she pulled a stall out of the wall to circle around a showerhead before yanking her uniform off with a wince and the skin tight clothes she wore underneath it.

The skin on her arm was reddened where she'd been shocked with her own lightning, but it was much better than how it had been more than two hours ago. Now the pain was a bit more manageable, though it was still uncomfortable.

Amara stepped under the warm spray of water, wincing at the feel of the water raining down on her burns, but after a few moments, she hardly felt it at all. She rinsed the dried blood that had caked the side of her face from a cut to her temple that had bled profusely, feeling the bruises along her jaw. She gritted her teeth in aggravation, compared to the other Leaguers, she was the most beat up, but she was also the youngest and the most inexperienced.

But it was still a sore point.

She stepped out of the shower and redressed, leaving the top half of her uniform loose around her waist to expose her arms as she made her way towards the medical bay, pausing when her phone buzzed.

Ella blinked on the screen, and Amara brought it to her ear, holding it there with a grimace. "Yeah?"

"All right, I have a theoretical for you," was the first thing Amara heard and she arched an eyebrow, still rifling for some burn paste and bandages.

"What kind of theoretical?" she asked in amusement.

"Say you had a girlfriend who wasn't really a flower type of girl, what would you get her?" Ella asked her bluntly.

"Did your girl say she doesn't like flowers?" Amara asked instead. She'd never met Ella's girlfriend, but she did know that Ella spent her weekends with her, so Amara worked by herself or with Sandra on Saturday or Sunday.

"Well, no," Ella conceded and Amara bit her lip as she rubbed the burn paste gently over her skin, binding a bandage over it before working on the second. "But she'd probably like a new mallet better…"

Amara paused, a bit dubious. "What?"

"Never mind!" Ella said quickly. "See you at work on Monday!"

Then the call ended and Amara was left feeling a bit befuddled, but she shook her head, carefully placing her arms through the sleeves and making her way back to the monitor womb.

All things considered, Amara would've liked to put the whole android business behind her, but here she was with the Team, set to follow one of two trucks carrying its parts to STAR Labs for analysis. And given that it was believed that Professor Ivo, a criminal scientist who once worked against his rival T.O. Morrow, was involved, the chances there'd be an attempt to regain the android was likely.

The mission was undercover, but Amara hadn't changed into the uniform that the others had, all of which had color schemes similar to their sidekick uniforms so Amara didn't really see the point, after all, hers was largely black to begin with, so there wasn't all that much difference.

She revved her motorcycle's engine, following after the truck heading for the STAR Labs facility in New York with Dick and Superboy, while Kaldur, M'gann, and Wally took to the one heading for Boston.

Amara would have been fine passing the mission in silence, mostly because she was still a bit annoyed with herself, but Dick liked to break silences with his un-words as Amara liked to call them. Though, retrospectively, it might have been to distract Superboy who was a bit pissed for reasons Amara couldn't have guessed.

"If dislike is the opposite of like, is disaster the opposite of aster? See, instead of things going wrong, they go right."

Amara couldn't help smirking and rolling her eyes as Dick glanced towards Superboy. "Uh," he coughed, "clearly you're not feeling the aster. What's wrong?"

"Canary," Superboy snapped and Amara's spine grew tense. "I mean, what business does she have teaching combat skills to a guy with super strength?"

"Here's a thought," Amara said frostily. "You have a month of experience under your belt, she's got years."

He turned to glare at Amara through his helmet, and Amara returned its intensity. "And I really wouldn't insult Black Canary in front of her protégé, seeing as I can deliver enough shock to your central nervous system that can easily put you in a coma."

She sped ahead of them, annoyance bubbling within her. Dinah had trained her and they both had very different super-powered abilities, but they both made it work.

"Besides," Dick added, glancing to Amara's back ahead of them, "taking down stronger guys is part of the gig. Canary learned that the hard way. Same with Batman, and, well, me."

There was a moment of calm silence and then the rows of corn rustled before sleek, monkey-like robots made their way out of the corn, cackling metallically with glowing green eyes from a hidden power source.

"Robin, Storm Chaser, Superboy, our truck has been attacked!" came Kaldur's voice over their comms.

"Kind of figured," Dick uttered dryly.

"You've got to be kidding me," Amara complained, speeding up her motorcycle before leaping off of it, forcing Superboy and Dick to veer to avoid her crashing motorcycle.

"Hey!" Dick complained, while Superboy grumbled about the monkeys in distaste.

Amara latched onto the edge of the truck, kicking her legs up and knocking two monkey robots loose.

"Robot monkeys!" Dick laughed. "Totally Ivo's tweaked style."

"Maybe you shouldn't be gushing over the guy who invented them when we've got monkey robots on our ass, babe," Amara pointed out before twisting up into the air and whipping out her batons to beat on the monkey robots. Dick switched his motorcycle to battle mode before Superboy leapt up to join Amara, forcing Dick to lock his grappler onto the back of the truck.

The number of monkey robots was overwhelming and Superboy was getting gradually more and angrier. Fighting angry was never a good idea; Amara had learned that the hard way. The monkey robots were swarming on Superboy faster than he could fight them off, and Amara was having her own difficulties.

Lasers shot from the monkey robot's eyes and Amara yelped as it hit her arm where she was burned and she almost dropped her baton while another one shot at Superboy's eyes, temporarily blinding him before lifting him into the air and dropping him, and Dick tried to knock several off the back of the truck before swinging up to join Amara.

"Where're all these things coming from?" Amara demanded, kicking one back.

"I think you mean when did Ivo have the time to make these?" Dick cheeked, grinning at her behind his helmet as he pulled out Eskrima sticks

Amara rolled her eyes. "You're just asking to be thrown off a moving truck, aren't you?"

"I'm sure I'd survive."

Amara laughed briefly. "Duck!" she advised, and he only had a split second to comply as she twisted her batons into a single bo-staff and swung it horizontally, taking out five with a slight electric charge before Superboy leapt back on the truck to join them.

The monkey robots swarmed on him before the truck swayed dangerously, lurching to the side to see the robots blowing out the tires.

"Tires are out!" she yelled over the metallic cackling and Dick grabbed the driver, jerking him out and into the fields of corn while she formed a cloud under her feet, flying up into the air while the truck, and Superboy, flipped several times before crashing, the monkey robots causing a minor explosion in order to drag the container with the android parts out.

Amara drew her hands close, gritting her teeth as a lightning bolt formed into existence and she flung it towards the escaping container.

It shot through one of the monkey robots and the other was being dragged down by the weight of what it was carrying, only to be assisted a moment later.

"Damn," Amara muttered before Dick yelled Superboy's name and she turned to see the tempermental Kryptonian taking a huge leap after the monkey robots. "Well, that's not good."

"We've lost our cargo," came Kaldur's voice in her ear as she came back down to land lightly beside Dick. "Did you—"

"It's gone," Dick sighed, "and so's our partner."

"Superboy took off after it," Amara supplied.

"Aqualad to Superboy. Radio your position, we'll help you."

Superboy's voice was fuzzy, but the anger was evident. "I don't need help, don't want any!"

"Superboy?" Kaldur questioned, but there was only silence.

"He probably tossed his comm," Amara sighed a moment later and Dick hummed in agreement, pulling off his helmet, a movement that Amara replicated, running a hand through her hair, rubbing at her jaw which was still aching from her earlier collision with the android's fist.

"Su-per," Wally complained, "now we can't even track him."

"He's out of my telepathic range," M'gann admitted a moment later. "This Professor Ivo, if he is alive, seems to be two steps ahead of us…maybe we should contact Red Tornado?"

"That'll go over well," Amara snorted.

"Storm Chaser's right," Kaldur agreed. "Tornado always tells us to handle things ourselves, and the mission can still succeed if we recover the parts before they're reassembled."

"Well, that's a great plan," Wally agreed, just a bit sarcastic, "except for the part about us not knowing where to look!"

Amara snapped her fingers, grinning at Dick. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"

He looked at her blankly, but then his eyes widened behind his shades. "Oh, of course!"

"What?" came three dubious voices over the comms while Dick grabbed a robotic monkey that wasn't working but not as damaged as the ones littered around them.

"We would've heard some alert if the decoy trucks had been hit," Amara theorized while Dick played around with the robot. "There's no way only the trucks with the parts were hit by coincidence."

"Got it!" Dick said, bringing up his holographic computer and Amara leaned over his shoulder as his fingers tapped over the keys. "The parts have GPS, so the monkeys can track the signal, which means I can track them with one that we've got over here…It looks like both sets of parts are converging on Gotham City!"

He shared a startled look with Amara.

"That far south? M'gann and I won't get there anytime soon, I'm sending Kid on ahead to meet you," Kaldur said instead. "Aqualad out."

Dick looped the robot over his shoulder, pressing a button on his gauntlet to bring his motorbike –now one wheeled from him activating the battle mode– to him. "Definitely a disaster, heavy on the dis."

Amara hummed in agreement, pulling out her phone. "Send me those tracking coordinates, would you?"

Dick furrowed his brow at her.

"Babe," she said dryly, pulling out her mask to place it over her eyes, fixing the goggles in place over her eye holes, not noticing how his cheeks pinked –for which he was grateful–, "you're not wearing your uniform. Between the two of us, you're the only one that needs to change. You'll need to take a detour, but I can go on ahead."

Dick grumbled under his breath before mounting the motorcycle. "Don't have too much fun before Wally and I catch you."

"I'll keep it in mind," she said with a laugh, waving as he sped off.

Artemis was not having a very good day and that was saying something, because life with her father usually led to some very bad days. Today was the day that her mother had gotten out of prison, which was great, because she loved her mother, but it was also a reminder of what happened to people around her father; her mother being confined in a wheelchair was a case in point.

Then her father had shown up and those horrible words he'd said had set her off: "She's one of us."

Artemis had grabbed her bow and dressed in her uniform and taken off through the window, spending the night beating her way through crooks, stopping criminals in their tracks, now that was the life.

She was sitting on the roof of a building when she saw a boy in dark clothing go flying through the air and through one of the main windows of Gotham Academy, and that, more than anything else she had seen that night, piqued her interest.

So Artemis crept after the mysterious crashing boy, taking up refuge in a tree, climbing to its topmost branch to look within the gymnasium through a small handheld telescope, her eyebrows rising where they were hidden behind her high-reaching mask.

Within was some kind of battle between some kind of metal man and several kids. She could easily recognize Gotham's Boy Wonder, Robin, who was dragged out of the way of a lightning strike by Storm Chaser –who was easy to make out with her shock of grey hair–, while Kid Flash rushed forward only to be thrown back, colliding painfully with the dark-haired boy that Artemis had seen go flying through the window.

Storm Chaser whipped out a bo-staff, electricity sparking off her weapon before she swung it at the metallic man, but it wasn't enough and she was sent flying into the wall, inciting a furious response from Kid Flash, who rushed forward in retaliation only to be caught in the man's arms and painfully squeezed.

Artemis could hear his yell from where she was and it only took her a moment to nock an arrow and release it through the window, forcing the man to shift his density and drop the speedster in order to allow it to pass through his body.

There was a minor distraction caused by several robotic monkeys attacking her that diverted her attention away briefly, but she managed to dispatch them without too much effort, and when she looked back, the unknown boy had somehow caused the metallic man's head to explode.

"Help me disassemble him," Robin ordered, rushing forward as a voice agreed, "Don't take any chances!"

It was from Aqualad –Artemis had seen him on TV a few times– but she wasn't familiar with the girl he arrived with, though the resemblance to Martian Manhunter was undeniable, as she flew to the boy's side with a worried call of "Superboy!"

"Oh, I need to die," Storm Chaser was moaning as Kid Flash lifted her up and there was something about the way he held her that was distinctly soft, but Artemis wasn't sure why.

Kid Flash laughed. "You can't do that, you've got work tomorrow, remember?"

Artemis couldn't hear what she said, but she was pretty sure it was a drawn out "Fuck!"

But she knew better than to overstay her welcome, it was better to leave before anyone noticed she'd been there in the first place, and so, Artemis disappeared into the night.

It was late when Artemis crept back into her room through her open window, just in time to hear her mother call: "Artemis, could you come out here, please?"

Artemis murmured a swear under her breath, quickly peeling off her mask and fingerless gloves. "Um, sure, Mom," she called back, "just a sec."

There was no way she could change her clothes that fast. She was so busted! Artemis grabbed her robe, pulling it tight around her and hoping it would be enough to hide what she was wearing as she opened her door into the apartment's cramped living room, pausing at the sight of Batman standing and Green Arrow leaning against the couch across from her mother.

Ice filled her veins.

"Artemis," Batman said diplomatically, "we have to talk."

Chapter Text

Artemis thought she'd been in awkward situations before, but she couldn't have been more wrong. Her hand dropped from where it had been attempting to hold her robe together, keeping her mother from seeing her uniform, but the sides parted now to reveal her midriff-bearing sleeveless green top with an arrow tip over her chest and pants a similar green with black kneepads and combat boots.

She crossed her arms, trying not to look as though she hadn't just snuck in through the window, but it was difficult to pull off.

"What're you doing here?" she asked with a bit of vexation, which was probably a bit braver than she felt and elicited a sharp look from her mother, which was largely ignored.

Green Arrow looked to Batman, but Gotham's Dark Knight remained silent, leaving the archer to clear his throat, bringing his hands up to lock his knuckles while his elbows rested on his knees. "Artemis, we know what you've been up to."

Anger flared deep inside her and her dark eyes blazed. "And you came here to stop me?!" she demanded. "Well, you can just forget—"

"No," Batman said sharply and Artemis huffed, still steamed as she crossed her arms, shifting her eyes to the side. "The Justice League has formed a covert team of young heroes…as I'm sure you already know."

She could feel the weight of his stare without even seeing his eyes or even looking at him. I'm so busted.

"We'd like you to join the team."

Artemis scoffed. "If you expect an apology for saving Kid Flash's—" Then what he said finally caught up with what he'd said. "Wait, what?"

"We think you'd make a great addition to the team," Green Arrow said, giving her a slight grin as he stood in order to rest a hand on her shoulder, "if it's all right with your mother."

Artemis' eyes latched onto her mother's and she could see with how she sagged just a little bit into the wheelchair, undoubtedly seeing the chances of her daughter not getting involved in crime-fighting as rather low, given her late night excursions (Artemis had to be kidding herself if she thought Paula wasn't going to notice that).

"You have my permission," Paula said and Artemis couldn't help but be startled; it wasn't the answer she'd been expecting.

"Are you going to tell the rest of them about my family?" Artemis asked before she could stop herself and Paula shifted her eyes away bitterly, before she corrected herself. "Well, not Storm Chaser obviously."

Both heroes looked to one another.

"Your private life is your business," Batman said shortly.

"You wouldn't be the first hero with a secret identity," Green Arrow added, vaguely amused. "We'll introduce you as my new protégé and niece. Hey, we're both blond."

Artemis positively beamed. "Then I'm in, I'm so in!"

"What did you mean about Storm Chaser?" Batman probed and Artemis' smile fell into an expression of confusion.

"She didn't tell you?"

Batman remained impassive. "Storm Chaser likes her secrets." Green Arrow released a sudden cough that only made an appearance in order to cover up a laugh.

"She ran into me a few months back, we did a patrol together…she said she was friends with my sister," Artemis said slowly and Paula's eyes widened.

"She knows Jade?" she gasped and the two men were similarly surprised.

"That's what she said," Artemis shrugged and Green Arrow's eyebrows furrowed.

"Well," he conceded, "she has claimed to have a girlfriend, but I'm pretty sure she only said that to get under Kid Flash's skin."

Artemis gave him a dubious stare. Storm Chaser couldn't have been more than twelve or thirteen, and that was much too young to compare to Jade's nineteen years. More likely she said it just to throw off the others, that seemed like something she would do, given that she liked to spend some time stealing from people.

"I will be having words with her about that," Batman said, but Artemis got the feeling that that wouldn't blow over well.

But Green Arrow turned his attention back to Artemis when she asked: "If I'm going to be your new protégé, then what happened to your last one?"

Green Arrow grimaced. "Speedy's…struck out on his own, I guess. I haven't heard from his since early July, neither has Storm Chaser; she's very sore about it, they were partners."

"Oh," Artemis said intelligently.

"And, unfortunately, I'm going to be out of town for the next few days, but I'm sure the ladies wouldn't mind you joining them on patrol," Green Arrow added, giving her a smile. "Storm Chaser has been complaining about the behind-the-scenes work she's been doing lately, but she secretly loves it."

"Won't it be hard with me being in a different city?" Artemis inquired, resting a hand on a cocked hip.

"Not at all," Green Arrow laughed, "you aren't the first protégé to commute to a different city for patrol. Storm Chaser's from Central City. We'll have to get you a passcode for the local Zeta-tube."

Artemis only understood half of what he said when both men moved towards the window to make a quick exit. "Um, are you sure they won't mind me coming on patrol?" she asked quickly before they could make the leap, her voice faltering slightly.

"They won't mind," Green Arrow assured her. "In fact, it might improve Storm Chaser's mood; she always works best with an archer."

And then they both disappeared out of the window, leaving Artemis with excitement bubbling in her stomach.

A flower shop? Really?

Artemis had gotten the Zeta-tube code in her phone earlier that day, but the experience from moving from one city to the next instantaneously wasn't something she was going to used to all of a sudden.

She tightened her grip on her umbrella, the rain splashing around her as she made her way down the street to the shop Green Arrow had named in his text.

Ask for Amara Allen.

Artemis frowned, but she still grabbed the door to the shop, whipping it open and stepping inside, shaking off her umbrella on the mat.

"Welcome to Bouquet Boutique," came a cheery voice and Artemis looked around with interest, taking in the rows upon rows of varying types of flowers, some of which she'd never seen before.

The woman who'd spoken was very pretty with red hair falling past her shoulders and green eyes the color of leaves. She was the one who had spoken, leaning against the counter while someone else had their back to Artemis, sitting on the counter beside the woman, a head of dark hair bent slightly, looking at something that Artemis couldn't see.

"Can I help you with something?" the woman asked her.

"Um, I'm looking for someone named Amara Allen?" Artemis ventured and the head jerked up in surprise while the woman pointed to her and the girl spun around on the counter in surprise.

Her eyes were identical to the woman's, and they were the very shape and size that Artemis remembered seeing behind Storm Chaser's mask.

She grinned. "Goddess! In Central City, who would've thought?"

Artemis rolled her eyes. "Are you going to keep calling me that?" she asked dryly.

"Oh, yeah," Amara grinned, hopping off the counter to make her way around to Artemis. And Artemis couldn't really be surprised with her fashion sense with how Storm Chaser wore mostly black to begin with. "I'm guessing Ollie told you where to find me?"

Artemis gave her an odd look, which made Amara laugh, though she didn't explain it, but they were in front of someone else who probably didn't know how Amara spent her time.

"Well, I'm heading out Ella," Amara called back to the woman who hummed as she went back to chopping the long stalks of some roses to a more manageable size.

"Don't worry," Ella called after her, "I'll figure something out for your birthday."

Amara gave an audible groan that made the woman laugh before gesturing towards Artemis to follow her out into the rain. Artemis had never really minded rain, but compared to Amara, she might as well have hated it, because it seemed to her that Amara loved the rain; she hadn't even bothered to bring an umbrella, soaking her hair in seconds.

Artemis forfeited some of the space under her umbrella, just so the younger girl wouldn't catch pneumonia from being soaked through.

"Was that your mom?" she asked curiously and Amara gave her a strange look.

"No, of course not," Amara said, jerking her thumb back towards the shop as they walked, "that's Ella, she just works with me. My mom, Iris, is a reporter at GBS. Why?"

"You two just look kind of similar around the eyes," Artemis shrugged and Amara's brow furrowed in befuddlement, clearly not thinking so.

"How did you know GA was taking me on as his protégé?" she asked her instead.

"I'm very good at gathering information," Amara said smugly, "also, Batman interrogated me."

Artemis shook her head in exasperation. "I'm sure that was fun."

"I spend half my time on BlackNet, trust me, after that, interrogations from Batman are practically nothing," Amara said dryly, and Artemis found herself staring at the almost-thirteen year old in astonishment.

BlackNet was the closest anyone could possibly get to being a criminal underground while being online. Her father was a fixture in it. It was supposedly impossible to hack into, with extremely high level encryptions that were changed and added to at infrequent intervals. And in order to get onto the site in the first place, you had to be invited.

"BlackNet?" Artemis repeated dubiously.

"I manage a good portion of Limbo," Amara agreed, "I'm the one people call Oracle."

Who would have thought that hacking specialist was just a kid? Artemis had heard her father complain about Oracle more than a few times, mostly because she was very selective about the kind of jobs she took on, none of which were the type that he was involved in, because her hacking skills could've been very helpful on some of his jobs.

"How do you have any time to yourself?" Artemis demanded, making Amara laugh. "I mean, you're Storm Chaser, Masquerade, Oracle, and you have a job?"

"The job's only part time," she assured Artemis. "And Masquerade doesn't do a lot of thievery these days, besides, I do more as Oracle than I do as Storm Chaser, but Oracle has her own people to gather information…and I like to be kept busy."

"I'm sure," Artemis drawled and Amara's eyes glittered as she grinned.

"I've got odd hours, but they're set hours, and I'm home schooled, so that makes my life easier," Amara added, scratching her cheek, "I think Mom and Dad don't think I can function very well if I'm bored…though usually I call up Robin or Kid Flash if I'm bored."

"Not Speedy?" Artemis noticed, and Amara's face abruptly soured.

"We're not talking," she said shortly, crossing her arms. "Personally I think a sharp punch to the face could do him good."

And that actually made Artemis laugh. "You're not bad, Storm Chaser," she decided.

"Just wait until we train together," Amara grinned widely in an almost devilish manner, "I'll kick your ass."

"I'd like to see you try," Artemis returned with much the same expression. She was older and had height and experience over Amara, at the very least.

"Yeah," Amara said, her grin not falling a bit, "you'll fit right in."

Amara pulled her earpiece from where it had been wrapped around her ear, dropping it onto the table, shutting off the several computer set-up that Batman had had connected in the med-lab when Amara had first started as Oracle.

Today was the day that Artemis was joining the Team, and for the most part it had gone pretty well when she had arrived; Amara being familiar with Artemis had probably helped. But they were still short a member, since Wally had started school that day (while everyone else –barring Artemis who hadn't arrived until later– had enjoyed a day on the beach, something Wally had been rather sour about when he'd learned their plans).

"Wall-man, huh?" Amara could hear Artemis' laugh. "I love the uniform. What exactly are your powers?"

"Uh, who's this?" Wally questioned as Amara fixed her mask over her eyes as she entered the monitor womb to take note of the heroes gathered around, stifling her giggles when she saw Wally, dressed for the beach.

"Artemis, your new teammate."

"Kid Flash," Wally returned, "never heard of you."

Amara arched an eyebrow, even though the action couldn't be seen from behind her mask. "Because you honestly pay attention to Star City news," she said dryly and her cousin shot her a glower.

Green Arrow cleared his throat. "She's my new protégé."

"What happened to your old one?" Wally asked, only to be interrupted by the sound of the Zeta-tube firing and the disembodied voice echoing around them: "Recognize: Speedy –B06."

Amara went white under her mask and her mentor shot her a concerned look, seeing how her hands tightened into fists that sparked just slightly with electricity.

The light from the Zeta-tube faded, and standing there was Roy. He'd ditched the Speedy uniform in favor of a red and black uniform, grey straps at his shoulders to hold his quiver and at his waist to hold his holsters.

"Well, for starters, he doesn't go by Speedy anymore," he said shortly, "Call me Red Arrow."

Amara scoffed audibly. How original.

"Roy!" Oliver stepped forward, his surprise evident, but a smile still on his lips. "You look—"

"Replaceable," Roy sneered and Amara couldn't find herself to be surprised at the real anger in his voice. Roy had always had a somewhat rocky relationship with his adoptive father, and nothing was going to change that.

"It's not like that," Oliver countered swiftly, "you told me you were going solo."

"So why waste time finding a sub?" Roy demanded. "Can she even use that bow?"

Amara had to hand it to Artemis for striding forward and looking Roy in the eyes –or, more accurately, where his eyes were hidden behind his domino mask– without backing down. "Yes, shecan."

"Who are you?" Wally asked, flummoxed, spreading his arms.

"I'm his niece."

"She's my niece."

Oliver and Artemis spoke at the same time, their voices intermingling, and Dick chuckled where he was standing at M'gann's side. "Another niece?"

"But she's not your replacement," Kaldur added, giving Roy an easy smile. "We have always wanted you on the Team. And we have no quota on archers."

"And if we did, you know who we'd pick," Wally interjected.

"Whatever, Baywatch." Artemis rolled her eyes. "I'm here to stay."

"Besides," Amara said frostily, "I know who I'd want on my team." The it's not you was rather obvious and Amara hoped it hurt. "Besides, I can vouch for her…unless you've got a problem withmy opinions."

"Oooh," Wally murmured to Dick, "now that's a burn."

Roy opened his mouth to say something as Dinah rested a hand on Amara's shoulder, only for it to be shrugged off, but then Kaldur spoke once more.

"You came to us for a reason," he said.

"Yeah, a reason named Dr. Serling Roquette."

Now, that got Amara's attention.

Dick used the holographic computer in his gauntlet to bring up the screen in the monitor womb. "Nanorobotics genius, claytronics and genetics expert at Royal University in Star City –vanished two weeks ago," he said, bringing up the images on the screen.

Her research on genetics at least in the top ten in the country.

"Abducted two weeks ago," Roy corrected, "by the League of Shadows."

"Whoa!" Dick remarked with interest. "You want us to rescue her from the Shadows?"

"He's already done that," Amara pointed out. There was no way that Roy would be able to pass up something like that, and there was no way that he would've come to them for help on something he could easily handle on his own.

Roy coughed at Amara's steadfast ability to acknowledge his presence, but also ignore him entirely. "I already rescued her," he agreed with Amara's assessment, moving towards the holographic projection to add his own information. "Only one problem. The Shadows had already coerced her into creating a weapon." The image displayed the schematics of a canister of sorts and something that looked vaguely like a beetle. "Doc calls it the Fog, comprised of millions of microscopic robots, nanotech infiltrators capable of disintegrating anything in their path –concrete, steel, flesh, bone. But its true purpose isn't mere destruction, its theft."

Amara crossed her arms, furrowing her brow.

"The infiltrators eat and store raw data from any computer system, and deliver the stolen intel to the Shadows, providing them with access to weapons, strategic defense, cutting-edge science and tech."

"Perfect for extortion, manipulation, power-broking," Artemis interjected, knowing far too much about the Shadows through her father. "Yeah, that sounds like the Shadows." She grimaced slightly.

"Like you know anything about the shadows," Wally scoffed and she spared him a smirk. "Who are you?!"

Roy continued as though the interruption hadn't been made. "Roquette's working on a virus to render the fog inert."

"But if the Shadows know she can do that—" Dick cut in.

"They'll target her," Roy agreed. "Right now, she's off the grid. I stashed her at the local high school's computer lab." The location appeared on the holographic screen.

"You left her alone?" Oliver couldn't appear to help the accusatory tone in his voice, and Roy bristled.

"She's safe enough for now," he bit back. "Besides, I didn't come back here for you, Ollie, I came here for her."

His finger was jabbed in Amara's direction and several eyes looked to her.

"Well, isn't that rich," she sneered. "After you left me high and dry a month ago. No 'sorry, Amy, I've got to get out of town for awhile because the JL is pissing me off again'—" Wally had to shove his entire fist in his mouth it silence his sniggers and Superboy arched an eyebrow, and that was when Amara seamlessly switched to Russian, because there was no one in the room apart from Roy that spoke the language. "I had to find out on the fucking camera, Roy! I came back to an empty safe house and you were gone! I freaked out for a good ten minutes before I thought to check my cameras!"

"And that's my fault?" Roy fired back in rapid Russian, almost too fast for Amara to follow. "That's rich, coming from the runaway!"

They were in front of each other, fully aware they were berating each other in front of their friends and mentors.

Amara reeled back as if slapped. "One of those times was because I was looking for your sorry ass, if you can remember that far back, and the second time was because I was attacked in my home!"

"All right, you two!" Dinah stepped between them, pushing them away from each other with a scowl. "This conversation should be done in private, don't you think?"

Amara glowered and stalked away in a huff.

"Where're you going?" Roy demanded.

"To the library!" Amara raged before she disappeared.

"Dude," Dick gaped at Roy, "she could totally kill you."

Roy ignored that and followed after his ex-partner, leaving the others to stare after the pair.

"Do you think Amy will be all right?" M'gann asked in concern. "She seems a bit…explosive."

Wally chewed his lip before looking to Dick. "Did you understand any of that?"

Dick snorted. "Amy literally asked me what languages I didn't speak when she first started; I don't know any Russian, that's Amy and Roy's thing."

Dinah cleared her throat. "Well, you guys have a mission to get to."

"What about Amy?" Superboy asked shortly.

"She'll be working on a separate mission with Roy, evidently," Dinah remarked dryly as the sidekicks' mentors made their way back to the Zeta-tube, now that things were a bit settled. "It'll give Artemis time to see you in action and for you to see the same."

Artemis smirked.

Wally wasn't the only one looking doubtful.

"Artemis has been running around Star City with Amy and me for the past few days, she's far more used to her fighting style than any of you," Dinah pointed out. "Wally, you're going to need to change."

Wally groaned loudly.

Roy found that Amara's eyes were far more accusatory without her mask present, and it made him wince.

When he found her in the Cave's library, she already had her laptop open and typing away with enough force that Roy knew to be her 'typing-when-pissed' typing.

"I'm sorry," he said, sitting opposite Amara and she didn't even bother looking up from the laptop, but her eyes did narrow, so he knew she was listening. "And I mean that."

Her typing continued.

"Amara Pamela Allen." She looked up, only to scowl deeper at him, but it did afford him the moment to shut her laptop and Amara leaned back, crossing her arms.

"You know, partners are supposed to trust each other," Amara said, most of her anger spent from the previous explosion, though there was still enough to simmer deep inside her.

"I know," he said, moving around the table so he was kneeling at her side, forcing her to keep her eyes on him. "I should've told you…I just wasn't really thinking at the time." He sighed. "I was caught up in my own anger."

Amara ground her teeth together, like Roy knew she did when she was trying to keep her emotions in check, and then she wrapped her arms tightly around his neck, an action that had them both stuck in a position that was either straining or uncomfortable, but Roy still wound his arms around her back.

"I missed you, asshole," Amara muttered into his shoulder, "and I'm still pissed with you."

"That's fair," Roy conceded.

"If you missed my birthday, I'd've killed you," Amara added thickly.

Roy smiled. "You hate your birthday."

"Yeah, I do," Amara agreed as they parted and swiped at her eyes in a way that Roy pretended not to see. "All right, what do you need me for?"

"The League is trying to get some kind of information, I'm not really sure yet, but there've been suspicious destructions at three universities in the past day," Roy said and Amara frowned.

"Universities probably are test runs for whatever they really want, I can't imagine the Shadows being very interested in what colleges are doing," she pointed out.

"But it's still a good idea to destroy whatever information they've gotten, don't you agree?" he countered.

Amara wrinkled her nose. "Probably, but I'd have to be connected to some kind of network that the Shadows had accessed."

"There's a hideout that the League of Shadows kept the doc at, Infinity Island," Roy said and Amara opened her laptop again, typing speedily, "but that's in the Caribbean Sea."

Amara zoomed into the location before giving him a grin. "Oh, no problem."

"Really?" Roy said doubtfully.

"I once flew to Fiji, Roy," Amara said dryly, "and that's way farther. I could get us there by cloud in a few hours, give or take."

"Wonderful," Roy said, and he hoped she heard how unenthused he was about traveling by cloud.

Chapter Text

Flying so high above land with just a cloud keeping him from falling to his death was one of the things that made traveling with Storm Chaser by cloud so disconcerting.

As far as Red Arrow knew, the only one that actually enjoyed it was Storm Chaser.

"How far from Infinity Island are we?" Red Arrow couldn't help but ask, as it was harder to tell so high up.

"Just a few more miles," Storm Chaser remarked with strain. Training with Cheshire had greatly lengthened the amount of time she could spend maintaining herself in the air, but it was still rather draining.

The plan was rather simple, but whether it would end up that way was something completely different. There was a vast fortress on the island with modern security and numerous guards and it was likely that they wouldn't be expecting anyone else to attempt to breach them, especially since they'd lost the only thing of value that had been kept there (otherwise known as Dr. Roquette).

Red Arrow had made quite a bit of noise during his escape with the doctor two days ago, but this time they were meant to enter silently and leave silently, with almost no trace that they'd been there in the first place.

He had a blue print of the fortress and the room that was used to monitor everything within the fortress only held two guards, and as such was their entry point, as well as the only place they needed to be within the fortress.

"How many raspberries should I be getting you?" Red Arrow asked her.

"So many," she said shortly, speeding the cloud along for a short stint of silence, which only made Red Arrow sigh, but he supposed that was expected, until she pulled them up short and Red Arrow almost fell off his cloud. "All right, we're here…the drop's going to be sudden, so try not to puke."

"Wouldn't dream of it," Red Arrow drawled, making Storm Chaser's eyes roll behind her mask, but he still had to stifle a yelp when the cloud faded from underneath him, which was disconcerting at best and terrifying at worst.

The roof of the fortress got closer and closer until they were close enough to face plant on the tiles, but Storm Chaser had caught them in the air before dropping them lightly, both crouching to avoid the eye-line of the guards wandering around below them.

Storm Chaser looked to Red Arrow and he made a movement with his hand to indicate her to follow him, and then they were darting out along the roof as quiet as the two could be so as not to attract attention.

Red Arrow led her along the south side before of them used their grapplers to swing over the edge of the roof to rest their feet against the wall, scaling down to a slightly open window that allowed them a glimpse within the room that they needed to enter. Storm Chaser pulled a suspicious-looking round object out of her utility belt that looking vaguely like a miniature cloth cannonball.

He arched an eyebrow at her and Storm Chaser pressed a finger to her lips, jerking her head towards the window, which was had been opened with enough space that she'd be able to fit the orb through with ease.

Storm Chaser brought the orb close, snapping her fingers, causing friction in the form of electricity, burning at the cloth and making a sweet scent fill the air before Storm Chaser dropped it through the opening. She mimed covering her mouth and nose with her arm and Red Arrow followed suit, both of them waiting on their grappler lines for the smell to fill the room, and slowly the two guards monitoring the various TVs and laptops slumped over at their desks.

She pushed the window open, still holding her breath as she gathered up the remnants of the little smoking ball and tossed it out into the forest, gesturing for Red Arrow to follow her.

"That's a new trick," he said, speaking quietly as she pulled herself over to the nearest laptop –surreptitiously pushing the guard sitting there out of the seat–, typing away furiously, her eyes not leaving the screen.

"It's a bit stronger than what I used on you back when I shot you," Storm Chaser admitted, earning her a scowl from the young man. "They'll be out for an hour or so, so we've got time."

"If you say so," Red Arrow muttered, coming to lean over her shoulder.

"All right," Storm Chaser said, reading over the layers of code faster than Red Arrow could even attempt to decipher, but coding had never been his strongest suit; he left that to Storm Chaser, "so breaching the Shadows' firewall will set off all kinds of alarms."

"Which we don't want," Red Arrow pointed out.

Storm Chaser smirked. "We also don't want to wage a full-on assault on their system, they'll notice something like that, we just want to infiltrate one specific part."

"Is that easier?" Red Arrow asked curiously.

"Not really," Storm Chaser wheedled, her fingers moving with her mouth, "it depends mostly on the hacker's skill and the type of system they've got."

"But you can get into it?" Red Arrow pressed.

Storm Chaser chewed on her lip, scanning over the data. "Give me a few minutes; their firewall isn't something I've seen in awhile."

"Is that bad?"

"Not really, just difficult, now be quiet, Arrowhead, I need to focus." She shot him a sideways look and he gave her a grimace but conceded to her demands.

The next few minutes passed painfully slow and Red Arrow's grip on his bow was still remarkably tense when Storm Chaser grinned suddenly.

"Got it," she said, scrutinizing the information in front of her, "so the three universities the Fog infiltrated were…Miami Beach University, Georgia Tech University, and Husson University... it looks like the information they gathered from those three is just the usual, nothing that wouldn't be kept from the public…but…"

"But?" Red Arrow probed.

"There's still something transmitting new data in, so they must have a new target," Storm Chaser hummed mostly to herself, only to pause in her typing when her comm. Buzzed in her ear.

"SC, I've got some bad news," came Robin's voice in her ear.

"Great, babe, because everything's rainbows and sunshine over here," she drawled, struggling to keep her voice low and Red Arrow gave her an odd look before she tapped a finger against her ear to indicate the comm location.

"It's about the next target of the Fog," Robin said and Storm Chaser could practically hear the grimace.

"Lay it on me," Storm Chaser sighed.

"Philadelphia's STAR Labs."

"Oh," Storm Chaser said blankly, "for a moment I thought you said the Fog got to the STAR Labs in Philadelphia."

"You're joking," Red Arrow said, his mouth dropping open.

"That's what I said," Robin admitted. "It's been completely demolished."

"Fuck," Storm Chaser muttered. "All right, so everything that STAR Labs has is potentially dangerous…I could write a Trojan Horse into the code, that'll introduce several viruses into the data that'll delete it if anyone tries to access it, but it'll only work from this location."

"Why?" Red Arrow probed.

"Well, their system isn't exactly high tech," Storm Chaser admitted with a grimace, "they probably have a different one at each of their hideaways, each just a bit different than the other. I can riddle it with viruses but only on this system, so if they access it from here, they're screwed."

Red Arrow sighed, but it did seem like that was the best option.

"Aqualad to Storm Chaser," Aqualad's voice echoed in her ear now, "we are moving the doctor and she is tracking the Fog as we speak, but we need to know where the next attack will be."

Storm Chaser pursed her lips. "Give me a second, this stuff isn't exactly easy to hack."

"Who was that?" Red Arrow asked.

"Aqualad," Storm Chaser said, scowling at something on the screen, "he wants me to find out where the next attack will be…a list like that's got to be deep in the code…" She mumbled to herself as she skimmed through the information before pausing. "It's a Wayne Tech facility."

"Superboy and I are on it," Robin said quickly before he cut the connection and Storm Chaser pushed back from the table.

"All right, we're done," she said, "any incoming information will be erased with the STAR Labs data…if we're lucky and they try to access it here."

Red Arrow helped her drag the fallen guard back into his seat, making it seem like the pair of them had just fallen asleep at work before slipping out of the window to the grappler lines once more and returning the window to its small crack between the frame and the window, darting up onto the roof again and shooting up into the sky on clouds.

"You haven't lost your touch," Red Arrow mentioned.

"Oh, shut up," Storm Chaser said, knocking her shoulder against his, though her cheeks did pink from the compliment. "You know I'm subtle like a slit throat."

She was sure his eyes were wide behind his mask. "You have got to stop hanging around with Jade."

Storm Chaser laughed.

"It must be weird for you sometimes," Artemis said once the mission was over and done with, her fingers still twitching around the cup of tea Amara had slid her way, the tension at seeing her sister remaining even hours later. "Not to be with them. They're your friends, right?"

Amara didn't have any bruises, but her mission hadn't required contact, only her skill in hacking. She brushed her hair back as she took a sip of her own tea. "That's the job, I guess. Sometimes I'm with them, sometimes I'm not. I don't know Kaldur, Superboy, or M'gann as well as Robin, Wally, and Roy, but we've all got different skill-sets."

Artemis didn't say anything to that.

"Don't worry, I'll probably there for the next one," Amara grinned, before winking.

It reminded her of Cheshire, dark eyes glittering. "Give Storm a kiss for me, would you?"

"Cheshire said to give you a kiss," Artemis blurted out and Amara sniggered into her cup.

"Trust me," she said, "I'm not her type."

But that wasn't really an answer if you asked Artemis, but she only shook her head before making her way towards the Zeta-tube, calling out her good night to Amara, who gave a small wave in reply as the disembodied voice called: "Recognize: Artemis –B07."

She reappeared in Gotham within a small phone booth, and it was only when she stepped outside of the booth, that she realized something was wrong. Artemis tensed and flipped, grasping her bow and nocking an arrow in a single movement.

"Step into the light," she barked. "Now!"

And out of the shadows came the auburn-haired Red Arrow, Roy Harper, Amara's old partner.

"Nice move," he said in a manner that Artemis didn't believe for a second, but she still loosened her grip on her arrow as he approached, though hardly relaxing her body, "almost made me believe you are Green Arrow's niece." His voice sharpened. "But we both know you're not."

Artemis narrowed her eyes and frowned at him, though saying nothing.

"Still, I'm sure GA and Bats have a good reason for lying, so you're cover's safe, but I warn you," His voice dropped dangerously, "do not hurt my friends."

And then he turned to make his way down the alley, even as Artemis called after him: "Storm Chaser trusts me." She couldn't resist getting the last word in.

"SC's been known to make mistakes," Roy retorted, "and she'd be the first to admit it."

Artemis' scowl deepened and she watched him disappear before making her way home herself.

"I think you two should be working on combining your abilities," Dinah said the next day after a training session while all the members of the Team were resting. M'gann appeared to be the most winded, but hand-to-hand combat had never been her strongest suit, as her powers were more of the mental kind, but Dinah had been speaking to Amara and Kaldur. "Water and electricity work very well together."

Kaldur and Amara shared a look and Amara raised her hand quickly. "Um, I have a debilitating fear of drowning, so…"

"Really?" Artemis leaned around where Wally was downing his bottle of water.

"What?" Amara demanded defensively. "I use my powers underwater and I'll end up electrocuting myself, and that's really not fun."

Wally grinned widely. "How would you know?"

"I am denying being related to you," Amara decided, her nose high in the air, and laughter rippled through the group.

"You're adopted," Dick and Wally said together before grinning at one another and bumping their fists together.

"I hate both of you," Amara said, flopping back onto the floor with an air of finality that made Dick snigger.

Dinah rolled her eyes at her protégé's antics as she looked at the young heroes situated around her, all with varying cuts and bruises from their previous mission (Amara had a bandage tied tight around her bicep from a nasty cut she'd gotten on patrol with Dinah when everyone else had headed home).

"You're all still learning to adapt to one another's fighting skills, figuring out who works best with who and what kind of maneuvers you should use when you're together and fighting enemies," Dinah pointed out. "Realistically, you should be a bit flexible, able to work with differing kinds of people, because the League often works with one another, even if they have their own cities and own partners." There was a pointed glance towards Dick who shifted his eyes under his sunglasses away a bit pointedly; Batman was known for being a bit rigid, but partnering with others had never been something that he'd had a problem with. He frequently worked with others on League missions.

"Each week," Dinah continued, "I want you to switch off with a training partner. For instance, this week Wally will be with Artemis—" Both young heroes glowered at each other and Amara snorted; clearly they didn't like each other all that much. "But the week after that he will be with Superboy. This way you can learn how each of your teammates move and you can anticipate them as well as assist them during battle.

"But there are seven of us," M'gann pointed out. "We won't be split evenly."

Dinah smiled. "One week you will be free to practice your skill-set without going against one of your teammates, it won't be a time for you to slack off."

"What happens when we've all cycled through?" Superboy asked.

"Then you get to try your hand at taking on me," Dinah smirked. "Now, Amy, you're with Kaldur, Wally is with Artemis, M'gann is with Robin, and Superboy, you get to train by yourself this week."

If Amara didn't know better, then she'd think that Superboy was actually a tiny bit pleased that he didn't have to work with anyone for the first week.

"Remember, being partners is more than fighting together, it's about knowing one another," Dinah added. "This team is still new and some of you know very little about each other, start there and then build up to the sparring."

Kaldur stood faster than Amara and then he held out a hand to her and Amara gave a sigh, before taking it, permitting him to drag her into an upright position.

"Would you mind us going outside?" he asked her.

"Feel like a fish out of water yet, Kelpie?" Amara quipped, making him smile, but she agreed, nonetheless, because she didn't mind sticking to the shallows, even with her fear (hence why she'd ended up with a beach house as a safe house).

It was a little cool outside, but it was still rather warm when they settled in the sand, well, Amara settled in the sand, Kaldur sat himself in the shallows without much a care.

"Does it bother you?" Amara asked him suddenly. "You know, being above water?"

"Not nearly as much as it once did," Kaldur said, faintly amused by her first question. "Its more like there is a heaviness in the air. Being out of the water for so long helps me adapt."

Amara nodded in understanding and they fell into a silence that mostly had to do with Amara waiting for Kaldur to come up with his own questions for her, and Kaldur trying to come up with a question that wouldn't make Amara uncomfortable.

She arched an eyebrow.

"I'm sorry," he apologized, "I just don't want to make you uncomfortable."

And that made Amara laugh. "Story of my life, Kaldur, trust me, I can handle anything you throw at me."

"I heard your powers are difficult to control," he said finally and for a moment Amara thought of her Chloro-kinesis, how the vines curled up the side of her house where her window was, flowers sprouting along it, how her very thoughts brought plants to life, but Amara hadn't told anyone about that, not even Roy, and Jade only knew about her love for plants.

"You could say that," she said dryly, "Wally likes to tell the story about when I almost flooded Keystone with a torrential downpour when I was nine…maybe? I don't know, I was pretty young. My powers are pretty much subconscious, but I've still to work at them to get what I want."

"Not like Weather Wizard?" Kaldur asked with interest.

"Yeah…" Amara drawled the word out. "That was always a bit of a sore point between him and me; he gets a wand for a conductor and I get my body, really an even trade."

The sarcasm was evident.

"What's it like in Atlantis?" she asked him, eager to move away from the depressing truth of her life.

"I think it's much like it is up here," Kaldur said, "we have different cities, different races and species, we learn, we live, we grow."

"That's such a stereotypical response, Kelpie," Amara complained, digging her fingers into the sand and making him laugh.

"All right," he said, "what specifically would you like to know?"

"Oh, I don't know," Amara sighed, "what was it like for you, growing up down there?"

"I liked it very much," Kaldur answered, his smile making his eyes glow. "My parents were loving, I had friends I trusted with everything."

"Oh," Amara said in surprise, "have you seen them in awhile?"

"Not for some time," he admitted sadly, "but I'm sure when we have some downtime I will go back to visit."

His thoughts strayed to Tula, his old friend who stirred warm feelings in his heart, and some of it must have shown on his face, because Amara gave him an all-knowing look that made him duck his head in embarrassment at being caught.

"How did you come to be Black Canary's protégé?"

"When I was first adopted by my parents I wasn't…very well put together, I guess," Amara frowned distantly, looking for the right words to use. "My control was shot and I had a lot of issues to work out, so my dad set me up with Dinah. After awhile she asked him if it was all right for me to be her protégé. I think he wanted me to stick with him, but Dinah didn't have a student and she had a meta-human ability. We were a match made in heaven," Amara said smugly. If there was one thing she was proud of, it was being the protégé to Black Canary.

Amara considered him silently for a few moments. "You've probably noticed a lot of my attacks are lightning-based," she mentioned and he nodded, "and sometimes it ends up being rather explosive…and I'm worried that combining my techniques with yours won't end well."

She said the words carefully, like she wasn't sure how he'd react.

"It might," Kaldur agreed, "but then we will both have to work hard to balance one another, don't you think?"

He offered her his hand and Amara took it without a thought.

"Well, I'm always here for crashing the mode," she said, only to laugh at the befuddlement on his face.

Amara hated her birthday, it was a rather well-known fact, which was why Wally and Dick hadn't mentioned it to their teammates when they'd been working out the kinks in their fighting styles with their respective teammates –Artemis and Wally had had a rather loud disagreement that Dinah had had to assuage– and the fact that it was the next day had been enough to sour Amara's good mood from her light sparring with Kaldur.

"I know you don't like us celebrating your birthday," her mother had said after dinner and Amara had groaned, dropping her head to the table with an audible clunk.

"Mom!" she complained while Barry hid his snort into his drink.

"But I'm still going to make you chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast," Iris continued, "because I think the day my daughter came into being was rather significant."

"Ditto," Barry added when she shot him a glare when he didn't add it fast enough and Amara's cheeks flushed with heat.

"I'm going to my room before either of you can embarrass me any further," Amara declared to laughter.

She'd spent a few hours looking into a few new jobs on the BlackNet before she gave up for the night and fell into a restless sleep.

Her dream was hazy and mostly in darkness but Amara remembered the feeling of a hand running through her hair and light press of lips to her temple and a whisper of words to were lost in the silence.

It was a particularly odd dream and when Amara awoke, it was to light streaming in through her open window.

She groaned as she sat up, rubbing at her eyes, only to turn to see a small box and an envelope sitting on her bedside table with her name on it in the script that only belonged to the woman who was her birth mother.

Amara grabbed the envelope and ripped it open. This time there was a bit more to it than a simply 'happy birthday'.

Happy birthday, Daughter, it read. I know you want to know who I am, and I want you to know who I am, as well. I promise that by the start of October you'll know the truth, though I can't promise you'll like it. That made Amara frown a bit. I love you.

The note, like her previous one, went unsigned.

Amara set down the short letter in order to pick up the box, sliding the top off in order to lift a black ring box from within. She'd never really been a jewelry kind of person, ironically, most of the only jewelry she wore was from her mysterious mother, in the form of a silver chain around her wrist with an ivy charm.

She opened it and stared. It was a peridot stone –Amara's birthstone– on a simple silver band. There was nothing particularly ornate about it, and it was beautiful, exactly the kind of ring that Amara would willingly wear.

Amara smiled as she slipped it onto her finger and somehow it fit perfectly.

And for a moment Amara didn't mind her birthday one bit.

Chapter Text

Storm Chaser was sour when Artemis saw her on patrol once Green Arrow and Black Canary had lumped them together once more.

"How's your day, SC?" Green Arrow had asked her cheerfully and the grey-haired atmo-kinetic glowered viciously at him.

"I have a knife hidden in my boot and I'm not afraid to use it," she warned him, but that only seemed to brighten his smile.

Artemis rolled her shoulders, still strained from training the previous day with Kid Flash, who had proved to be incredibly difficult to match, mostly because of his speed. "What's got you so mad?" she asked when they branched off.

"I hate today," Storm Chaser grumbled. "August tenth is the worst day of the year."

"Why?" Artemis asked flummoxed before the pair had to dart along the rooftop to leap to the next one.

"Everything special about me was cooked up in a petri dish," Storm Chaser muttered, "who would want to celebrate the day they were pulled out of an artificial womb?"

Artemis paused and looked to her in surprise. "Today's your birthday?"

Storm Chaser grunted and that was about as close as she was going to get to an agreement.

"You hate your birthday?" Artemis repeated dubiously.

"Spoken like someone who wasn't cooked up in a lab," Storm Chaser said, pulling her batons out of the holsters on her thighs and twisting them into a long bo-staff before yelling across the roof, "Hey, idiot, pick on someone else your own size!"

Really, robbing someone in broad daylight? Artemis swore criminals were losing brain cells every day. Both robbers in dark ski masks swore loudly and dropped their loot in order to make a hasty getaway.

"They won't get too far," Storm Chaser decided after considering the pair, "besides, it's not like they got away with anything."

Artemis arched an eyebrow, though it wasn't visible beneath her mask. "Do you even get presents for your birthday?" she asked her younger companion.

"I can't really get out of it," Storm Chaser admitted with a bit of exasperation. "RA, Robin, and Kid Flash are taking me out to lunch and GA and BC are doing dinner, you're invited to my suffering, by the way."

It was slightly uncomfortable how at ease Storm Chaser was with some of the other sidekicks, but she had known them awhile.

"I'm not—" Artemis started to say.

"If you don't come GA will be insufferable, I promise you," Storm Chaser said blandly, making a voice echo in each of their ears.

"I heard that," Green Arrow sulked.

Storm Chaser winked to Artemis, "Don't worry, GA loves me."

Artemis rolled her eyes in return, and Storm Chaser sighed, checking her watch. "I've got my shift at work in a few hours…"

"You're working on your birthday?"

Storm Chaser grimaced, resting her bo-staff against her shoulder. "I told you, I hate my birthday…so, what's new with you? Your mom doing all right?"

"Glad to be out of prison," Artemis said as they settled onto a high perch in order to see a wider area and both girls pulled out their own binoculars and sat with their backs to one another, "but it's kind of hard to find a job, you know."

With her prison history and being wheel-chair-bound, it was hard.

"Maybe I should get a job," Artemis considered. "I've got to find a way to pay for the apartment."

Her dad had always paid for it, but she had no way of knowing if he was going to continue to do so, even if she was his daughter and her mother was his estranged wife. Sometimes she wondered why her mother didn't just get a divorce from him, but in their own twisted way, they loved each other.

"I hear Oracle could use some runners," Storm Chaser said mildly, focusing her binoculars downwards on the streets, looking for any hint of the criminal, Pete Lomax, a criminal with a skill in archery that had once ended with an arrow through Black Canary's shoulder. Neither Black Canary nor Green Arrow were a fan of him, and that had extended into their protégé's, though neither had been present when Pete Lomax had attacked as Storm Chaser had been on the run and Artemis hadn't been Green Arrow's protégé then.

"Runners?" Artemis repeated dubiously.

"Masquerade does a lot of Oracle's legwork, because no one's personally met Oracle, and that's for good reason," Storm Chaser snorted.

That, Artemis could understand. Reputation was everything on BlackNet, it was how you got and kept jobs from being stolen by potential rivals, that much Artemis had learned from her father. Oracle was a fixture in BlackNet and even though she was very skilled, no one knew hardly anything about her other than she was female and Masquerade did her legwork for the most part. The idea that Oracle was only thirteen would probably limit potential clients.

"Runners get paid to do favors for Oracle," Storm Chaser continued, "mostly its dropping off and picking up stuff. Sometimes its new passports and identities for people trying to get away from abusers, or items that were stolen from them, returned."

"It's not legal, is it?" Artemis asked dryly, her long ponytail swishing behind her.

Storm Chaser snorted. "Well, it's not not illegal. Strictly there's nothing wrong with people going around giving packages to specific people if it's what they want and need."

Artemis twisted around to look at her, still surprised that someone like her ended up on BlackNet. "How did you even get into BlackNet in the first place?"

"I had a lot of time on my hand," Storm Chaser said simply before taking the binoculars away from her eyes with contemplation. "Maybe I should quit my job…"

"Thought you liked that flower shop," Artemis mentioned in surprise.

"Oh, I do, but I'm getting really busy, you know, Team stuff, Star City stuff, Oracle stuff, it's getting kind of hard to juggle and Dad thinks I should drop something –personally, he wants me to give up Oracle, but that's not happening– so it'll probably be the job."

Ella was also leaving the shop close to the end of September and the beginning of October, and that might have played a part in it, because the casual banter she had with her coworker was something she was probably going to miss the most from working at Bouquet Boutique.

"There's nothing over here," Artemis way saying into the comm, "do you want us to stick with it, or more to a different location?"

"Stick with where you are," Black Canary said a second later. "He's either going to come through here or where you two are."

"I was never good at waiting," Artemis muttered and Storm Chaser smirked.

"Come on, be a little bit excited," Ella wheedled when Amara showed up for her shift, a bit harried and hiding an arrow graze to her side under her shirt as Ella lifted a subtly colored bag that was green and black checkered.

"I hate you," Amara said, but Ella only grinned wider, especially when Amara raised a hand to run a hand through her curls, the peridot ring catching the light.

"You only turn thirteen once," Ella laughed, "just open it, I promise you'll like it."

Amara gave a very put upon sigh at that, after all, presents had never really been her thing. "Fine," she muttered, leaning against the counter, situated opposite Ella, as though she was a customer, "but I'm doing this under protest."

"Of course." Ella's eyes glittered as Amara pulled the bag towards her, pulling the bag towards her. "My girlfriend helped me pick them out, so they're classy."

Amara turned faintly exasperated. "Them? You didn't even have to buy me one thing, Ella."

"It's only two things," Ella assuaged her fears, "and they were both on sale, I'll have you know."

The first thing Amara pulled from within the bag was a laptop skin with DNA strands on it and she took it with interest. "Wow," she remarked in surprise, "this is really cool!"

"I picked it out," Ella preened when she saw how much Amara liked it. "The next one is something Harley saw and thought you might like."

"You tell your girlfriend about me?" Amara arched an eyebrow and smirked.

"Oh, don't get ahead of yourself, Amy," Ella said, waving a hand carelessly, "I tell my girlfriend just about everything."

"So you're saying I'm nothing special?" Amara was grinning widely even as she goaded the woman who could have easily been her mother.

"Those words were yours, not mine," Ella said pointedly as Amara laughed, pulling out the next item. The second one was significantly smaller than the first.

Amara's brow furrowed as she held it. "Lipstick?" she questioned.

"Not quite."

That made Amara frown and she twisted it until the lipstick was supposed to appear, but in its stead was a hidden knife. "That's handy," she said. "I could kill Roy if I'm annoyed."

"You are absolutely unreal," Ella laughed before heading into the back to grab some new flowers to set out front.

"Aw, come on, Ella, you know you love me," Amara said, sitting on the stool behind the cash register, so she missed the soft look in Ella's eyes. "I'm thinking of quitting," she said a moment later, making Ella pause in her efforts to slice the stalks of some gardenias.

"Why?" she asked in surprise.

Amara shrugged. "Mom and Dad think I should focus more on my grades," she said. That much was true, Barry thought her grade in math was a little low, which was true enough, she still had her C in the subject, and Iris thought she needed to spread her attention over all her subjects, not just Science. Amara was almost a straight B student, barring the A in Science and the C in Math, and her parents knew that was just because she wasn't putting more effort into her schoolwork when it could have been spent superheroing in Star City.

"That's too bad," Ella said. "You make my shift exciting."

"It's what I live for," Amara promised, her eyes glittering.

"Have you told Sandra?" Ella asked her, resuming her work of shortening the gardenia stalks.

"Well, I haven't mentioned it to my parents, so, no," Amara said, rubbing at the back of her neck as she did so. "I'm sure I'll get around to it." But then Sandra would be losing both of her employees, though she had still managed the shop rather well before Amara and Ella had started working there.

"So, how's your birthday been so far?" Ella asked her, making Amara wrinkle her nose at her for good measure.

"Mom made chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, Wally came over and tried to eat them all." Amara rolled her eyes, remembering Wally as he tried to stuff so much of the pancakes into his mouth only for it to backfire. "My room is actually off limits today because Dad and Wally are painting a DNA strand that goes completely around it." That had been a pleasant surprise, but with Amara's love for genetics, it was one to be expected. It was the type of gift that Amara couldn't really mind. "And Mom got me some fingerless gloves and new combat boots that I asked for and some new clothes."

Iris was trying to broaden Amara's horizons on the color spectrum, but she was starting small and going with Amara's interests, so now Amara had two shirts with two different designs of flowers on them and in two different colors: red and purple. Since the colors were so dark, Amara didn't mind wearing them, but she had rolled her eyes at the exclamation of joy that her mother had given.

A package had dropped by for her with no return address and it had turned out to be a voice modulator, courtesy of Jade, which might have been a roundabout way of saying Masquerade's Russian accent was pretty terrible, but Amara would never know.

"Sounds like you're having a good day, regardless," Ella remarked.

"Could be worse," Amara agreed, "my last birthday I was barely out of the hospital and couldn't feel my legs, so, really, I'm having a fantastic day."

Ella's exasperation couldn't have been made clearer.

"I hate every single one of you," Amara declared when she arrived to the pizza parlor with a scowl on her lips when she took in the three boys sitting in the booth.

"How many times have you said that today?" Roy wondered.

"Honestly, I've lost count," Amara drawled, sliding into the empty seat beside Roy, and both Wally and Dick laughed, while Roy merely smirked.

"Why do you guys have to make my life so difficult?" Amara lamented. "You all know how much I hate my birthday and here we are, celebrating it with pizza and gifts."

"Well, you're having pasta for dinner with Ollie and Dinah, so we figured this was the next best thing," Roy said dryly.

"You're an asshole," Amara countered, "and you cornered me, you guys and Ollie and Dinah, you're all a bunch of conniving little—"

"Can't you just admit you like that we went out of the way to do something nice for you?" Dick asked, an eyebrow arching over the top of his sunglasses while Wally laughed into the table.

"One day, Richard Grayson," she growled under her breath, "one day very soon I will destroy you."

"I'm looking forward to it," Dick said without a change in expression.

Amara muttered heated insults under her breath, making her friends snigger until the waiter came over to take their order, and then presents appeared on top of the table and Amara glowered at them all.

"Wally, you're the only one safe from persecution," Amara decided, mostly because her cousin hadn't brought a present, since his had been part of Barry's, as they'd both worked on the DNA strand together, and he gave an exaggerated "Yes!".

Dick, on the other hand had brought a rectangular box in wrapping, while Roy's box was designed simply and easily opened.

"I hate you," she repeated before tugging Dick's towards her.

"We've heard," he said as she ripped the wrapping off the box to look upon the image pictured on the box in surprise.

"A Wayne Tech laptop?" she asked, her eyebrows raising high on her forehead.

The Wayne Tech laptops had longer functioning and a much better system than normal laptops, but they were also more expensive, exactly for that reason.

"Well, you were complaining about your laptop not working all that well anymore," Dick mentioned.

"Yeah, but I can still use it," Amara insisted.

"It has a diagonal crack on the screen from the time you dropped it onto your bathroom floor when you were listening to music while trying to stitch yourself," Roy pointed out.

"You have to hit the 'P' and the 'R' extra hard in order for the letters to come out," Wally added.

"You lost the down button months ago," Dick put in his two cents and Amara wrinkled her nose at them.

"Thanks, Richard," she muttered, cheeks turning pink, moving the box to rest by her feet and Dick smiled.

"All right," she said with a sigh, crooking her fingers towards Roy, "lay it on me."

And he slid the box towards her and she took it without enthusiasm, pulling off the lid and staring at the contents. It was a number of papers bound together, ones that Amara had compiled herself. The Meta-gene by Amara Allen, the front page read.

"This is mine," she said, blinking in surprise as she tapped her finger on the page, looking to Roy with wide eyes. "I finished it while you were away…where'd you get it?"

"I asked your dad about it," Roy said with a shrug, taking a swig of his coke when their drinks arrived. "He mentioned you'd finished your research and he thought it would be a good idea to show it to a geneticist to see if you were on the right track."

"Yeah, he mentioned that," Amara muttered, lifting the paper-clipped papers, flipping through the pages, frowning at the sight of red marks on the pages, circling things, crossing things out. "Whose writing is this?"

"I gave it to Dr. Roquette to look over," Roy said and Amara paled.

"I can't tell if she's happy or upset," Wally murmured to Dick and his friend couldn't help but agree.

"She did it as a favor since I got her out of the Shadows hands, and when I mentioned your research on how some people developed abilities while others didn't, she got a bit interested."

Amara flipped to the back page, her heart hammering in her chest as she read over the red scrawl.

Miss Allen, this research is rather impressive, given your age and inexperience, though I will admit there are several areas where mistakes were made, at the core of it all, your research was rather well done, and I can see you have a steep interest in genetics. A seasoned researcher would have done better, but coming from a girl who expanded upon a class project, it's rather well put together. I would be happy to show you where you went wrong and correct you on what kind of resources to use for your research, as it appears some of yours might be outdated or incorrect.

Serling Roquette

Beneath was a number and Amara's phone was out in seconds and dialing it.

A secretary answered it, so it must have been the secretary. "Hi, my name's Amara Allen, I was wondering if Dr. Roquette was still in?"

"I'm sorry," the woman on the other end apologized, "this is her day off, but I can take a message for her. What was your name again?"

"Amara Allen," Amara said carefully, before rattling off her number, "she looked over some of my research and I'd like to hear her feedback, but it's not an emergency."

"I'll let her know when she's in," the secretary promised and both ended the call.

"Roy Harper," she said, breathless in her excitement, and he looked up, "you are an angel."

Roy blushed and their friends all laughed.

The Med-bay was largely dark, but there were a few lights on in the back where there was a set up of several computers, which was where Superboy found Amara, typing away.

"This is what you do as…Oracle?" he asked, sounding the word out carefully and Amara twisted around in her chair in surprise.

"Hey, Superboy," she said, "what're you doing here?"

"I could hear you talking," Superboy mentioned, jerking his thumb towards the door.

"Damn super-hearing," Amara muttered under her breath, though that was easy to hear as well, "pull up a chair, Gene Pool, you might learn something."

She grinned when he gave her a rather befuddled expression, though he did as she requested, looking at the screens in confusion. "What is it that you do as Oracle?"

"Depends on who wants to know," Amara smirked, giving him a glance out of the corner of her eye. "What I do as Oracle is a bit controversial, Flash definitely doesn't approve, but I find it's worth it in the long run."

"That's not an answer," Superboy pointed out.

She laughed. "It's really isn't. Oracle deals a lot with the BlackNet, you've probably not heard of it, but it's this kind of criminal underworld but online. There are nine circles on BlackNet, each based on a circle of hell from a book called Dante's Inferno, you follow me?"

"Sort of," Superboy conceded, his brow furrowing.

"Oracle only works in the first circle which is called Limbo and its easily the least criminal one there, people go there asking for help with problems like…escaping an abusive relationship, getting evidence for a crime committed against them, wanting to reclaim goods that were stolen from them, that type of thing."

"That doesn't sound so bad," Superboy said, looking at the varying screens with veiled interest, "why doesn't your dad approve?"

"Well, nothing's really free and BlackNet's services are fairly lucrative," Amara said, fixing the head piece into her ear once more, drawing the speaker close to her lips. "Of course, some of the people needing help can't actually pay very much, so there's an exchange of favors."

There was a sudden appearance of a green dot on the screen in front of her and Amara tapped on the enter button.

"You've reached Oracle's supreme highway of knowledge, how may I direct your call?" she asked cheerily, her voice altered by the speaker, while zooming in on a camera that was located in Gotham to rest on a young woman leaning against a bus stop and tugging on wild and untamed dark curls.

"You do this to annoy me, don't you?" the woman asked her, slightly aggravated.

"Oh, Destiny Wilson, I would never dream of annoying you," Amara disagreed, "you're my favorite runner."

The woman, Destiny, turned to see the camera on her and flipped it off and Superboy gave Amara an odd look.

"What've you got for me?" Amara asked instead.

"The package has been delivered."

"Good," Amara said. "Go home, Destiny, I don't have any more jobs for you and you look exhausted."

"Sure," the woman drawled, but she still hung up on her cell and climbed into the bus when it stopped by.

"One of your runners?" Superboy presumed.

"Funnily enough she's the only one that's stuck around," Amara hummed, "she started close to the beginning of July, mostly they're just people that need money fast, people that have landlords that make them pay more than they earn, people with medical bills too far out of range, that kind of thing. Destiny's trying to get her life together and working for Oracle makes good money. She might stick with it for a few months, I'm sure she'll kick the habit sooner or later."

It was like working for Oracle was a drug, but Superboy remembered Robin once calling Amara an adrenaline junkie, so maybe it was something like that.

Amara blew out a breath of air late into the night as she sat at her desk working on some math problems, raking her hand through her hair, the strands catching on the ring until she drew back to twist it around her finger.

She frowned, pushing back the chair to grab the small envelope that held her birth mother's words before pulling upon one of her desk's drawers and pulling out a rectangular wooden box and putting it on the bed.

The key to the box's lock was dangling on her key chain, and they jangled when she twisted it into the lock, popping it open.

Since the attack at her house, Amara had gotten a bit paranoid as evident by the packs of bills and the passports for different aliases that were held inside as well as the gun Cheshire had given her and her birth mother's previous letter. Amara put the second one with the first and locked the box once more and frowning.

Sooner or later her father and mother were going to notice the ring…what would she say then?

Chapter Text

Amara thought training was going rather well, considering. Her week of training with Kaldur had concluded a few days ago and this week Amara was working with M'gann who was remarkably cheerful about it, giving Amara the feeling that she liked the idea of working with the girls more than the boys, though they were still outnumbered by one.

"So, Kaldur's, uh, nice," Artemis mentioned to M'gann and Amara stifled her snort into her hand. She knew M'gann had a soft spot for Superboy, but Artemis wasn't blind; Superboy wasattractive, "don't you think? Handsome. Commanding."

Amara just thought romance was weird and anytime someone asked her when she was with her mother or father if there were any boys she liked, she just looked at them oddly, because she was thirteen years old. She didn't care about boys when there were flowers and genetics and training to occupy her time.

"You should totally ask him out."

Amara winced when Superboy landed a hit against Kaldur, forcing him back, but he retaliated just as fast.

"He's like a big brother to me," M'gann disagreed before gaining a glint in her eye. "But you know who would the cutest couple? You and Wally."

Glances were thrown to where Amara's cousin was standing not too far away, though far enough not to hear their words, eating his way through a bag of chips.

"You're so full of passion, and he's so full of, uh—" M'gann added before drawing a blank on any of Wally's positive qualities. Amara gritted her teeth in aggravation.

"Of it?" Artemis offered and they both laughed until Amara gave a polite cough. "Sorry, that was a bit rude," Artemis apologized.

"My cousin's more than just a glutton and a flirt, you know," Amara said shortly, her hand digging into her side where it rested at her hip. "He needs to eat because of his hyper-metabolism, he'll die if he doesn't."

It was worse with Barry, of course, but she remembered when she was younger and once Wally didn't eat enough food and he'd ended up in the hospital. It wasn't something to joke about.

"Sorry," M'gann added remorsefully before brightening. "What about you, Amy?"

Amara arched an eyebrow. "What about me? My metabolism's fine."

Superboy leapt over a kick that Kaldur sent his way in order to unbalance him, firing a rapid punch at Kaldur's head that just managed to clip him.

"What do you think of Kaldur?" M'gann probed. "He's nice to you, isn't he?"

Amara snorted, running a hand through her hair. "Kaldur's nice to everyone, he's a nice guy."

"All right, who do you think is cute?" Artemis inquired, leaning forward with interest. She would have guessed Roy, with how the two had gotten into a screaming match when he'd shown up in the Cave, but they were more familial, even if they held hands, which was a little odd to Artemis.

"Goddess, I don't know how to tell you this," Amara drawled out, "but Wonder Woman is easily the most beautiful person I've met."

Both girls were faintly surprised by the response, but then they nodded in understanding.

"I can see that," Artemis said, "but you also flirt with everyone."

"It keeps things interesting." Amara gave her a saucy wink for good measure, making M'gann laugh as Superboy caught Kaldur's ankle, flipping him onto training floor.

"Fail –Aqualad," came the disembodied voice overhead.

"Black Canary taught me that," Superboy said, grinning as he swiped his hands together. He'd been putting a lot of hours with Amara's mentor, mostly because he'd mostly fought like a brawler, all instinct and brute strength, and Dinah was teaching him how to be strategic in his fighting, when to duck for cover and when to attack. That meant that Amara sometimes patrolled without Dinah, not always with Artemis, sometimes on her own, which was something that still gave her a bit of anxiety after what happened the last time she'd been on patrol on her own.

They were distracted when the circular door in the ceiling that led to Red Tornado's private quarters opened and Red Tornado came down on his own twister.

When he landed, Wally zipped over to his side eagerly. "Do you have a mission for us?"

"Mission assignments are the Batman's responsibility," Red Tornado said in that unemotional and metallic voice of his, turning his head towards Wally.

Wally wasn't concerned with that, jerking his thumb back behind him. "Yeah, well, the Batman's with the Robin doing the dynamic duo thing in Gotham. But you're headed somewhere, right?" His eyes were positively gleaming as he jerked his two pointer fingers at the robot. "Hot date or a –a miss-ion?"

Amara rolled her eyes, finding it very unlikely that Red Tornado would be going on a date, given that he was a robot.

"If we can be of help," Kaldur offered, leaving the comment open-ended and Red Tornado appeared to consider them for a moment before pulling up the holographic computer to display the image of an old man dressed in a black suit with a cane in one hand.

It was a face that Amara recognized.

"Hey, that's Kent Nelson," she realized.

"This is Kent Nelson," Red Tornado agreed, "a friend. He is one hundred and six years old."

Amara wasn't the only one staring at that. She hadn't really focused much on his personal information, much less his age, it hadn't been important at the time.

"Guy doesn't look a day over ninety," Wally muttered at her side.

"He has been missing for twenty three days," Red Tornado said and Artemis looked to Amara.

"How do you know about him?" she asked.

"Batman came to me when he first disappeared," Amara explained to the room when she realized all the attention of the whole room. "He wanted me to track his movements to find out what happened to him through the cameras but I lost him somewhere in New Orleans…never really knew who he was, though."

Obviously he'd been someone of importance to the Justice League, or Batman wouldn't have bothered with asking her to look into Kent Nelson if he hadn't been important to the League.

"Kent was a charter member of the Justice Society," Red Tornado said, taking that as an invitation to speak as the image on the screen changed to a man in golden armor and cape with blue garb. "The precursor to your mentors' Justice League."

"Of course!" Kaldur breathed in awe. "Nelson was Earth's sorcerer supreme. He was Doctor Fate."

Both Wally and Amara wore fairly dubious expressions at that. Magic had never been something at either one really believed in; science was far more trustworthy.

"Kent may simply be on one of his…walkabouts," Red Tornado said and Amara couldn't help but wonder if he'd done that kind of thing before, "but he is the caretaker to the Helmet of Fate, the source of the Doctor's mystic might, and it is unwise to leave such power unguarded."

"He's like the great sorcerer priests and priestesses of Mars," M'gann said, looking on the picture with wide eyes. "I would be honored to help find him."

Amara didn't even get to count to one second before Wally's arm shot up into the air, ready to volunteer. "Me too! So honored I can barely stand it. Magic rocks!"

Artemis narrowed her eyes before giving Amara a look behind her cousin's back and Amara shrugged. No one was saying that her cousin wasn't girl crazy, but really he was head over heels for M'gann and she didn't even notice.

And this was why Amara didn't go anywhere near romance.

Red Tornado gave them a key that opened the Tower of Fate, which was a rather ominous title for a tower, if you asked Amara, but they still took the Bio-ship to the coordinates of the tower, landing in Salem. And once they'd done so, Wally ran around in search of where in the wide field a tower could be located.

Amara thought that was just asking to run into something and break your nose, but Wally darted away before she could mention it, turning into a blur as he systematically ran over the whole field before returning to their side once more.

"There's nothing," he said breathless, visibly startled. "This isn't a simple camouflage."

"So, what do you think?" Artemis asked, resting her hands on her hips and tilting her head slightly. "Adaptive micro-opto-electronics combined with phase shifting?"

Wally's eyes gleamed. "Absolutely!" Then he looked to M'gann and quickly corrected himself "…not, clearly mystic powers are at work here."

Amara wasn't impressed.

"Perhaps what it is, is a test of faith?" Kaldur considered, pulling out the golden key that Red Tornado had entrusted him, moving past them to move it directly ahead of them and they heard the distinct sound of something slotting into a key hole. "Stand behind me."

He turned the key and the next moment Amara and the rest of the Team were gaping up at the tower that had suddenly appeared out of nothing. It was the kind of tower that wouldn't look amiss with a medieval castle. Then Kaldur stepped inside and they followed quickly after him only to jolt when the door shut behind them and disappeared, leaving them in a bricked room with flickering torches on the walls.

"Eerie," Amara muttered.

"Uh, where'd the door go?" Superboy asked instead, making everyone look around for one, but there hardly appeared to be one.

There was a flickering light before them that abruptly formed into Kent Nelson's image, some kind of interface based off the man himself, no doubt.

"Greetings," the interface said, "you have entered with a key, but the Tower does not recognize you. Please state your purpose and intent."

And that was when Wally opened his mouth and said, undoubtedly in an effort to impress M'gann, "We are true believers, here to find Doctor Fate!"

There was a moment of silence, and then the interface faded entirely as she ground beneath their feet shook before falling away completely with them all falling with it.

The heat was the first thing Amara noticed, as she pulled her legs close to her body, digging out the knife stuffed in her boot that she kept on her at all times, ironically, it was something she'd stolen from Jade, and gathering the air around her to push her in the direction of the side of the wall of stones that was still stable, catching the knife between rocks, letting her dangle one-handedly in the free air.

She was starting to understand why Roy found it so disconcerting. Especially when directly beneath them was a bubbling pool of lava.

Amara swallowed thickly.

Artemis had pulled out her spare crossbow and shot off a line close to where Amara was dangling before swinging to catch Kaldur, M'gann had grabbed Wally, using her own levitation skill, but Superboy had been forced to claw on the rocks in order to come to a stop just above the lava.

"M'gann!" Amara yelled down. "You're too close to the lava!"

Martians had their own specific weaknesses and fire and heat was not good for them and Amara was doubly sure that being that close to lava was detrimental to her.

"Having trouble…maintaining altitude," M'gann admitted, breathless in the heat. "I'm so hot."

"You certainly are," Wally agreed.

"Wally!" Amara and Artemis snapped as one.

"Hey, inches above sizzling death, I'm entitled to speak my mind!"

Amara ignored him, her eyes fluttering shut. She'd never tried to control the air around more than one person at a time, but M'gann wasn't the only one susceptible to weakness from heat, Kaldur was as well.

She breathed out slowly and focused.

Superboy, who had burned his boots off in the lava found himself being lifted up and into the air. "M'gann?" he drew her name out in confusion, looking up to the green-skinned girl, but she wasn't the only one floating in the air rather higher than had been previously, Kaldur and Artemis were close to where Artemis' bolt had lodged.

Amara's arm shook with strain. "No offense, guys," she said through gritted teeth, "but maybe we should be figuring out how to get out of here before I drop us all into lava?"

"Hello, Megan!" M'gann smacked her forehead with a grin. "We never truly answered the question! Red Tornado sent us to see if Mr. Nelson and the Helmet were safe!"

Her voice echoed in the silence, and a moment later agate shut over the lava, and Amara dropped them. Superboy landed on all fours, but Artemis and Kaldur swung down easily and Wally and M'gann levitated down.

Amara could already hear Artemis and Wally arguing, undoubtedly because he was the reason they'd fallen into the trap in the first place. She ripped out her knife and flew down to them.

"Fine! Fine! I lied about believing in magic." Amara rarely saw Wally get so heated. "But magic is the real lie, a major load!"

Wally had never been one to believe in magic, and Amara couldn't really blame him there.

"Wally, I studied for a year at the Conservatory of Sorcery in Atlantis," Kaldur said, examining the gate with interest. "The mystic arts created the skin icons that power my water bearers."

"Dude, you ever hear of bioelectricity?" Wally retorted. "Hey, in primitive cultures, fire was once considered magical, too."

"A gift from the gods," Amara added, thinking of the Greek myth Prometheus and Wally jabbed a finger towards his cousin.

"Exactly!" he said. "Today it's all a bunch of tricks."

Artemis scowled, resting her hands on her hips. "You're pretty close-minded for a guy who can break the sound barrier in his sneakers."

"That's science!" Wally gesticulated wildly. "I recreated Flash's laboratory experiment, and here I am. Everything can be explained by science."

There was a latch on the gate to open a trap door and Amara knew enough from Science class that opening that wouldn't end well.

"Let us test that theory," Kladur said, grabbing the latch and Amara may have shouted while Wally called out rapidly: "Wait! The back-draft from the lava will roast us alive!"

Both cousins had drawn their arms over their heads only to see snow blowing up from the trapdoor.

"Do you ever get tired of being wrong?" Artemis asked and Wally scowled before they all jumped down the trapdoor, somehow coming out the side, which was a rather odd feeling, and the door vanished behind them, leaving them in some kind of snowy mountainous area.

"Well?" Artemis demanded.

"There's always string theory," Amara said, remembering when Wally had explained the concept to her, on Wally's side and he eagerly bumped his fist with hers.

"We're in a pocket dimension," he agreed.

"Ugh!" Artemis complained. "You're both unreal."

"We're meta-humans," Amara pointed.

"That's not what I mean!"

They both sniggered.

"What's that?" M'gann asked suddenly, directing their attention to the side where a cane appeared to be hovering in the air.

"Because that's not strange at all," Amara muttered.

"Ooh, maybe its Nelson's magic wand," Wally mocked before darting forward with Artemis to grasp it.

"I got it," they both said before the cane glowed brightly. "I can't let go!"

And then it was dragging them upwards into the air, causing them both to yell before vanished into the same blinding light.

Amara stared at the spot for a moment. "I really don't want to explain to my aunt that a magic cane disappeared her son," she said as dryly as she could manage.

"We should look for some kind of way out," Kaldur decided instead and the group headed east.

"Has Wally always been like that?" M'gann inquired of Amara.

"Been like what?" Amara frowned.

"Well, it's almost like he needs to believe the impossible can't happen."

Amara shrugged. "We've always been a couple of science nerds, it happens."

"Wally uses his understanding of science to control what he cannot comprehend," Kaldur said for Amara who turned to look at him with interest. "Acknowledging the existence of magic would be to relinquish the last vestige of that control."

"Something like that," Amara muttered. "Science is our language. Magic is…untrustworthy."

"You have an earring that changes the color of your hair," M'gann pointed out. "That's magic."

"Or is it science?" Amara countered with a smirk. "Something that targets the cones in the eyes, affecting the color you see. We've all got our issues. Believing entirely in science in Wally's."

"Not yours?" Superboy presumed as they climbed over a small hill.

"I believe that its possible magic exists," she conceded, "but I've lost count how many people I've seen duped by psychics claiming to speak to the dead."

She'd had at least seven clients that had wanted help getting back the money that had been 'stolen' from them. Personally, Amara thought it was a bit of a grey area, given they'd paid the psychic so much in the first place.

But there wasn't time to speak any more on that because there was a sudden creak and they looked to see a door on another snowy hill.

Amara whipped the wind around her, rushing forward before she could be reeled back by Kaldur's call, passing through the door only for it to shift sides again so she came out the ceiling in an area of endless staircases.

But there was Wally standing with Artemis and Kent Nelson.

Amara grinned as she landed only to be knocked to the ground when Superboy fell on top of her. They both groaned in pain.

"Sorry," he muttered as Kaldur fell through and M'gann floated down.

"Friends of yours?" Kent Nelson presumed before they had to duck at a zapping jolt of electricity that hit the area above their heads. The others dodged but Amara held out a hand, catching the electricity in her hand.

It barely stung.

Abra Kadabra, the one behind the attack glared at her while Wally and Kent Nelson disappeared inside a golden bell with a dark haired boy following after them. "Ow," Amara said blandly to make him feel better.

Unfortunately, Amara was the only one among their group with any skill in electricity manipulation. Superboy raged towards him angrily, forgetting his training, only to be caught under some kind of electric net that appeared to generate constant electricity.

Amara dispersed every attack she could, but Abra Kadabra was fast, very fast, and he was picking them off like flies. And only Artemis and Amara had thought to bring some kind of weapon.

Kaldur fell and Amara blocked the strike of lightning towards M'gann while she tried to telepathically connect to Wally to get help from Doctor Fate.

Then she yelled as she got caught in another net and Amara unwound the flexible whip that Dinah had gotten her so long ago from STAR Labs in order to channel her lightning.

She flicked her wrist and the tendrils rippled in the air, throwing off electricity with each movement.

"Who are you?" he demanded.

Amara's smirk widened. "I'm Flash's daughter, Storm Chaser," she said, watching his face turn furious as she rushed forward, darting over his next zap of electricity from that wand of his –if it could be considered a wand, but Amara wasn't really sure– swinging her whip down, wrapping around his arm and generating electricity from the grip down to him and he yelled as he writhed, dropping his wand and canceling the electric nets around her teammates.

He went limp within a few seconds and Amara pulled the whip loose to find the others staring at her.

"What?" she asked, winding the whip around her waist like it was some kind of belt.

"You just electrocuted him into unconsciousness," Kaldur pointed out.

"That happens sometimes," Amara said, unconcerned as she waggled her fingers towards them, her fingers sparking with electricity.

"Remind me to never piss you off," Artemis said before they all rushed off in search of Wally.

The funeral was a rather solemn affair and it was attended in full uniform. Every member of the Justice League that Amara was familiar with was there, and so was Jay, who hadn't worn his Flash uniform in ages.

Wally was particularly upset –as he had been the one with Kent Nelson when he died, going so far as to put on the Helmet of Fate to protect himself and keep it out of the enemy's hands– even if it barely showed, and Amara doubted he'd seen the looks of concern that Artemis had tossed him, so she just slipped her hand into his and gave it a squeeze.

When it was all said and done, all Amara wanted to do was go home and sleep for three days.

They'd kept the Helmet of Fate out of the hands of the one known as Klarion –who had, apparently, kidnapped Kent Nelson in an effort to find its location– but Kent Nelson had still paid for it with his life.

It didn't really feel like a win.

It was raining in Central City, too, when Amara and Barry made their way home, but they took their time, walking leisurely through the rain with their umbrellas up, Amara's hand catch in her father's.

"Dad, do you think there's always going to be people like Klarion and Abra Kadabra?" she asked him curiously.

"What d'you mean?" Barry asked, his pensive expression shifting to one of confusion.

"People that are against the Justice League," Amara clarified. "Do you think they'll always be around?"

"With the good comes the bad, unfortunately," Barry grimaced, "I guess it's just the truth of the world."

Amara frowned and Barry cleared his throat in an effort to change the subject. "I heard Ella got you something for your birthday?"

"Oh, did I forget to show it to you?" Amara asked him, tilting her head back in surprise. She hadn't touched much of her gifts. Dick's laptop was still in its box and so was the laptop skin that Ella had gotten her. "It's this laptop skin with DNA strands on it, it's pretty cool. Ella said Harley helped her pick it out."

"Harley?" Barry asked, his brow furrowing as his thoughts flashed to Harley Quinn, her blonde hair in pig-tails with the red and black slowly fading from her hair, swinging around her mallet with glee.

"Ella's girlfriend," Amara clarified and Barry suddenly felt cold.

Ella was short for Pamela…Pamela who said her last name was Quinley…as in Isley and Quinn together. And swiftly it all made sense. Why someone so overqualified was working at a flower shop, why her skin sometimes seemed to almost appear green under some lighting, why her eyes were the same shape and color of his daughter's, why the flowers seemed constantly in bloom…it all made sense.

Amara had been working with her biological mother this whole time and he had never even realized it.

"Dad?" Amara probed, tugging on his hand in concern. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," Barry managed to choke out, "it's just been a long day."

Amara nodded, twisting her umbrella where it was resting on her shoulder. "I'm thinking of quitting my job," she confided after a moment and Barry was certain that he'd never been quite so relieved in all his life. "You and Mom want me to focus more on school, and I figured between the shop and BlackNet, I'd rather keep BlackNet."

Barry couldn't hide his exasperation at that. Of course she'd choose the online criminal underworld over the flower shop.

"I think that's a good idea," he said, covering his feelings quickly. "You're doing pretty well, but you could be better."

Amara wrinkled her nose in distaste. "Richard's coming over on Thursday to help me with my Math."

"I'm glad," Barry said dryly, squeezing her hand as she laughed, unaware of the thoughts plaguing his mind.

Chapter Text

It was rather late and the Allens were having a movie night with a movie that had a lot of rather loud explosions when Barry snuck away to meet one person outside during the one time he was sure his daughter's attention would be occupied.

She was already there when he stepped foot outside.

It was eerie how homey Pamela Isley looked in her worn jeans and floral print shirt, but the image was ruined by the green of her skin.

How could he have not seen it in the first place? How could he have not known?

"Poison Ivy," he said coolly.

"Flash," she said in reply a smirk present on her lips that was identical to the one that her daughter wore.

"I guess the reason you haven't been causing as much mayhem in Gotham makes sense now," Barry said, crossing his arms as he glowered.

"It's hard to cause trouble when you aren't spending your time much in the city to begin with," Pamela admitted.

"I don't want you near my daughter," he said quickly, careful to keep his voice low enough not to draw attention from his wife and daughter that were still within the house, still engrossed in the movie.

It was, evidently, the wrong thing to say, because the grass around her feet grew a bit greener and taller. Pamela stepped forward in a manner similar to a predator stalking its prey, all grace and precise movement, her eyes narrowing dangerously as she came to a stop directly in front of him.

The smell of flowers saturated the air.

"Amara is my daughter," Pamela said frostily, "it's my blood that runs through her veins, not yours. It's me that she resembles the most, it's my eyes that she inherited. She is mine and you can't keep her from me forever."

Barry glared. "So you'd rather she know that her mother is a villain? Just like her father?"

"I'm a neutral gray, Allen, as I'm sure you're aware from the file you've got on me in the Justice League's database." There was a dangerous glint in her eye. "Amy told me she doesn't know anything about her birth mother…imagine if she was to find out that you've been lying to her this whole time?"

Personally, Pamela didn't like resorting to blackmail, but this was her daughter, still, she didn't relish in how pale Barry's face became.

She sighed. "Look," she said, "I get that you're not pleased with me being in this city, being near her, but I'm her mother, her biological mother, you can't keep me from her. I have a right to my daughter. I don't care if she didn't come into being the usual way."

It was a rather uncomfortable situation. Barry had always hoped that Poison Ivy had never known that a child had been created from her DNA, because he remembered how Amara had been with Weather Wizard, how when she'd first come to live with them that she'd tensed every so often as if expecting a sharp jolt of electricity, or how her face had sometimes appeared to be etched from stone at the mention of Weather Wizard.

Amara had had a shortage of good parents and Barry wasn't willing to let someone else break her heart like her biological father had; no parent had a right to hurt their own child.

"She's going to find out the truth one day," Pamela pressed, "don't you think it's better for her to hear it from you than from me?"

Barry didn't even want to think about something like that, about her knowing that she was the child of Poison Ivy.

"I'd do it sooner rather than later," Pamela mentioned, nodding to his house. "Did you think it was me that was affecting those flowers of yours?"

He grimaced at the thought. The first time he'd seen the vines crawling up the side of the house towards Amara's window, he'd snipped them with some gardening shears, but the next morning they'd grown back thicker than before and with small flowers blooming along the vines. And Amara had at least two more plants in her room that hardly seemed to need attending to.

But she had never mentioned any ability to manipulate plant-life…or perhaps it was that she didn't know?

Then again, Amara was generally harried and had a tendency not to notice things if her focus was elsewhere, which it usually was.

"I'm leaving for Gotham in the end of September," Pamela said instead, making him start in surprise.

"I thought it was the beginning of October," he said, remembering Amara mentioning the fact once over dinner.

Pamela tilted her head, considering him for a moment. "Things change," she said, casting one last forlorn glance at Barry's house, particularly where Amara's room was located before turning on her heel and making her way down in the street at a leisure pace.

Barry watched her go, the tension leaving his shoulders slowly, and he had never been so relieved that Amara had decided to quit her job at Bouquet Boutique to focus on her school work a bit more, and thus limit her exposure to her biological mother.

Pamela was bubbling with anger. She could understand where Barry was coming from, she really could, and she was grateful that her daughter had been taken in by people like Barry and Iris, but Amara was still her child.

She was still the child that Pamela had always wanted and she'd do anything for her.

Pamela pulled out her phone at long last and punched in the numbers on the card that had been left with her.

"Count Vertigo," she said smoothly, "this is Poison Ivy…I'm in."

The mission had gone particularly terribly and Amara, for one, was annoyed with herself for getting taken out first by the monster known as Clayface, a monster that had appeared to be made out of –as his name had implied– clay or mud with a gaping jaw of sharp teeth that had appeared fairly formidable. He'd been sent to Bruce Wayne in a circular container before wrecking havoc on Batman and Robin respectively until the Team had been called in.

Electricity would've taken him out quickly, as Batman had proved when he'd brought some electricity-generating cables, but Amara had stupidly pushed Robin out of the way of an attack that had knocked her out on impact.

But they'd all gotten their asses kicked, so it wasn't like she was the only one suffering, though the throbbing head wasn't helping her situation.

Amara was still grimacing when the Team made their way through the Zeta-tube in low spirits only to find Batman standing there, waiting for them to arrive.

"I need to talk to Aqualad," he'd said when they'd arrived. "The rest of you, hit the showers and head home."

They were all covered in varying levels of mud and it wasn't an exactly pleasant feeling, and personally, Amara was dying to get out of her uniform and into some loose cargo pants.

"Head home?" Superboy asked sourly, the mission affecting his mood as he walked past Batman. "I am home."

The showers weren't separated by gender, but there was a way to draw a screen from one end to the other in order to make it a bit more private, even with there being the ability to draw private screens out of the wall and around one showerhead, with cubbies in the walls for clothes.

"How's the arm?" Amara asked Artemis through her screen as she washed the mud from her hair. Artemis had gotten grabbed there by the villain and Amara was sure the grip was tight enough that it was going to bruise.

"I'll survive," Artemis grumbled. "I'm pretty sure M'gann got the worst of it."

"I may have to stay off my leg for the next few days," M'gann concurred, "but I'll be fine."

Amara snorted. "That's because you can levitate."

"Yes, it is," M'gann's voice was tinged with humor.

Amara could hear the distant sound of male voices on the other side of the screen and the sound of water turning off; the boys weren't going to waste anymore time in the shower than they had to.

She could barely hear her cousin's voice as he called out to her from the door.

"Amy, I'll be in the monitor womb!" he called.

"Okay," Amara called back before focusing on ridding herself from a particularly stubborn spot of mud.

"Okay, but seriously, how is he so sweet on you? I don't get it," Artemis mentioned a moment later and Amara stared at the wall blankly since she couldn't see Artemis' face due to the screen.

"What're you talking about?"

"I mean, he's all right, I guess," Artemis admitted off-handedly that might have been a bit forced, "as a friend and a teammate, but he's different with you."

"I'm very likable," Amara declared and she could hear M'gann's laughter.

"I'm with Artemis," M'gann said, "he's…softer, it's very sweet."

Amara frowned, thinking of when she'd been in the hospital after Merlyn had shot her off Queen Industries, and how often he'd been there, trying to keep her mind off the lack of feeling in her legs. She remembered how positively white Wally had been when she'd finally come round.

"Well, he's seen how I look when I've been shot off a building that's several stories high," Amara mentioned, sure that Artemis and M'gann were staring in her direction at that. "It'd make anyone be sweet on you, just ask Roy."

It was easier to make light of the whole situation now that she was fully functioning, but it had been rather bad when she was still in the hospital. Amara still had the scars and sometimes the places where his arrows had pierced her still ached and the soles of her feet tingled.

But Amara had a lot of scars, most of which had come from the job.

Amara rubbed a hand over the fractal scarring on her chest where her father had shot her full of lightning. She'd had enough unfortunate occurrences to last her a lifetime.

She shut off the water and dried off before pulling her clothes on and ruffling her hair for good measure, before making it out of the showers in search of the living quarters.

Each member of the Team had their own designated room, though room was putting it lightly, as they were rather small and cramped, generally only for sleeping.

Amara keyed in her room's code on the keypad, the door sliding open so that she could grab her bag full of school things that she hadn't gotten around to finishing before they'd been called out to assist Batman and Robin.

"You take forever," Wally complained when she made her way out to the monitor womb, where he was leaning against the wall, fiddling with his phone which he shoved into his pocket upon her arrival.

"I have more hair than you," Amara pointed out dryly, jabbing a finger in the direction of her head, making her cousin roll his eyes.

She took his hand when he extended it to her before taking the Zeta-tube back to Central City, stepping out of the out of order phone booth.

"Has Dad been…off to you?" Amara asked him suddenly and Wally looked at her oddly.

"Off? He's a guy that can run at the speed of light," Wally snorted before noticing Amara's frown. "Why?"

"I don't know, it's just something." Amara wrinkled her nose. "It's like he keeps expecting something to happen, he's always tense."

He was always distinctly uncomfortable when Amara went to work, but she still had another two weeks left and had only just given her two weeks' notice. Barry had never really liked the idea of Amara working around plants, though, and Amara still didn't know why that was.

"It's probably nothing," Amara decided after a moment. "Do Uncle Rudy and Aunt Mary know you're spending the night with us?"

Wally scoffed, waving his arm carelessly. "Uh, yeah, you know, since we're marathoning Star Wars like the geeks that we are."

Amara laughed.

"Want to race home?" Wally's eyes gleamed.

"Yeah, absolutely, let me race a speedster home, that sounds like great idea," Amara drawled in return which only made him laugh as well.

Jay Garrick's birthday was a rather rambunctious affair, but that had mostly to do with Amara and Wally talking over each other in telling their surrogate grandparents of their heroing escapades while Barry sat back, interjecting every so often on Wally's stories that had Mary and Rudy for the most part exasperated; they heard what their son was up to in the news, of course, but hearing it from the boy himself was something else.

"And then Amy tripped on nothing—"

"I didn't trip on nothing!" Amara was quick to refute. "You ran past me and stuck out your leg when I was trying to triangulate a signal!"

"Oh, yeah," Wally admitted with a bit of realization. "That did happen, didn't it?"

Laughter exploded around them and Amara positively sulked, swallowing the last bit of her potatoes before her father stood with a grin.

"Here, let me get that—" He speeded around the table, picking up plates and silverware as he did so, "and that and this and those and these."

"Thanks, Uncle Barry!" Wally called after his uncle as he disappeared into the kitchen with his heaping piles of dishes.

There was a faint "You're welcome, kid" and Amara rolled her eyes drowning herself in her apple juice.

"You're a lucky lady, Iris," Mary winked before glancing towards her son. "Our Wally certainly isn't that fast, not when it comes to clearing the table."

Wally, who had disappeared into the kitchen after his uncle let out a loud "Mom!"

"Neither is my Jay, believe me," Joan chuckled, patting her husband's hand when he gave her an outraged look. "I know, I know, you're a retired speedster, and since it's your birthday, we won't argue."

"Lucky break, Jay," Amara stage-whispered to the former Flash, making them all laugh for good measure.

"Wally's fast when he wants to be," Barry mentioned with a chuckle, stepping back into the dining room while holding a cake with thick chocolate icing with a single lit candle flickering. "We're suddenly out of ice cream."

Everyone turned to look at the boy in the kitchen with an arm around the ice cream container, a spoon in his mouth, looking every bit as guilty as he was.

"Wally!" his mother reproached.

"Uh…happy birthday," Wally said around the spoon.

"Outrageous!" Amara called over the other's heads. "You didn't save any ice cream for me?"

"I hate algebra," Amara declared with a growl where she and Dick were sitting in the living room, books and papers plastered around them. Tutoring Amara gave him the opportunity to work on his own homework too, because it sometimes took quite some time before she'd admit to having trouble.

"You've said that before," Dick said without looking up from his English homework.

"I hate you," Amara added with emphasis.

"You've said that before too," Dick snorted, his eyes glittering in amusement as he smirked.

"That's 'cause it's true," Amara muttered distastefully under her breath only to be startled by her phone buzzing on the table. "Oh, thank God!"

Dick rolled his eyes as Amara answered her phone. "Hey, Goddess, tell me you need me?"

"What? Why?" Artemis sounded vaguely surprised.

"Math study session with Robin," Amara grumbled and Dick threw a look her way that said he was slightly insulted.

'I love you!' Amara mouthed and he shook his head in exasperation.

"Oh," Artemis said in understanding, "still having math troubles?"

"Like you wouldn't believe," Amara complained, "I keep screwing up my polynomials, its murder. Robin's good company, at least." Amara glanced towards her friend. "Not very talkative, though."

She could see his smile behind the book.

"So, what's up?" Amara asked.

"What do you think about Gotham Academy?" Artemis asked her and Amara set down her pencil, furrowing her brow.

"It's a prestigious school, obviously."

"Yeah, I know that," Artemis grumbled. "But I've been awarded a full Wayne Foundation Scholarship to Gotham Academy."

"A full Wayne Foundation Scholarship?" Amara remarked in surprise, giving a significant look towards Dick, who ducked his head. "That's pretty great. You were complaining about Gotham North's lack of exciting extracurriculars."

"Yeah," Artemis conceded, "but switching schools? Being the new girl has never been exactly fun for me."

"It makes me glad I'm home-schooled," Amara grinned widely. "I never have to worry about being the new girl."

"Or showing up at school with cuts and bruises."

"That too," Amara admitted, twisting her pencil between her fingers. It was one of the reasons she'd liked the idea of being home-schooled in the first place; it made it easier to explain away her League-related injuries. "But I hear Gotham Academy isn't too bad."

"How would you know?" Artemis snorted on the other end.

"I know a guy that goes to school there," Amara said and Dick jerked his head up, shooting a look of warning towards his friend.

"Oh, yeah? And what's he like?" Artemis sounded amused.

"Oh, he's not that bad," Amara smiled, looking him over. "Pretty eyes."

Surprise colored those same eyes and a flush bloomed across his cheeks.

"You're unreal," Artemis said in exasperation.

"You've said that before," Amara said, smirking before saying, without much enthusiasm, "Gotta go, math awaits."

She dropped the phone onto the table before pulling her notebook towards her and scrawling out the next problem on the paper.

Dick cleared his throat. "You think my eyes are pretty?"

"Depends on when you can see them," Amara said slyly.

It made Dick feel just a bit flustered, but Amy liked to flirt, she probably didn't mean anything by it.

Sandra celebrated Ella and Amara quitting with cupcakes.

"Aw, Sandra, it's like you're happy we're leaving," Amara laughed as she took the vanilla cupcake with white icing, taking a generous bite.

"Oh, don't be ridiculous," Sandra scoffed, her braids whipping around as she shook her head before stating in a faux-solemn manner, "There comes a time in all our lives when we reach a crossroads and go our separate ways."

"Sandra, you are far too young to be so melodramatic," Ella laughed.

"This coming from someone that's older than me," Sandra responded dryly, stamping her foot for emphasis, but Ella wasn't that much older than Sandra; Ella had just turned twenty-seven, while Sandra was only twenty-four. "And after I went through all that trouble of making you guys going away cupcakes! Absolutely thankless employees I've got here!"

"I've got another two weeks," Amara pointed out, "and Ella's got two and a half, it's not likely we're going to suddenly up and vanish."

"I'm going to miss having you guys around," Sandra blubbered suddenly, throwing her arms around both of them which made for a slightly uncomfortable embrace, because Amara, though still growing, was rather short (though Ella had been oddly certain that she'd be a bit taller before she was done growing) and Ella rather tall.

"There, there," Ella said, patting Sandra's back in what seemed to be a soothing manner, but Amara was just doing it so that Sandra would let go of her.

"I'm going to go work on a bouquet," Amara said, darting away once Sandra's grip had loosened and she could make her escape.

In all honesty, the idea of leaving Bouquet Boutique was kind of bittersweet, mostly because she really loved her job, she loved working there and being around flowers, she loved all of it, and she loved bantering with Sandra and Ella. But, at the same time, giving up the flower shop would give her more time with her respective duties as Storm Chaser and Oracle, and give her more time with her family.

"So, what're you going to do when you leave here?" Amara asked Ella when she came back to join her.

"Harley and I've got a house in Gotham," Ella smiled fondly, remembering the day they'd bought the house in question, "it's kind of on the outskirts, nothing but forests and greenery as far as the eye can see."

"Sounds nice," Amara said, grinning, "your girlfriend must be pretty psyched about having you back."

"She really is," Ella laughed. Harley's pig-tails had been bouncing in excitement when she'd skyped her the other day to tell her she'd put in her notice.

"Why'd you even come to Central City in the first place?" Amara asked her curiously, tilting her head in order to look at Ella and she could swear for a moment that Ella's eyes had gained this soft glint.

"Personal reasons," Ella said mildly, and Amara had enough mind to drop the issue.

Amara was sitting with her legs crossed on her bed, fingers tapping across her keyboard as she looked through the data that she'd gotten on Project Amara from Cadmus Labs. She'd put it aside for awhile, being focused on other things, but now she could take the time.

There were endless videos of Amara when she was smaller with the doctors testing various kinds of skills, visual-spatial learning, kinesthetic, reaction to stimuli, normal things like that.

Then there were full-body X-rays as she grew, some for monitoring how fast she could heal after bones were broken. There was an entire section on her healing factor.

Compared to normal human's rate of healing, Project Amara has displayed an advanced rate of healing that can be attributed to the meta-human status of both parents, though the father, Donor Y, only has acquired meta-human status. It is because of this, that we believe that the majority of Project Amara's healing factor is gained from her mother, Donor X.

Amara frowned. Her healing ability had always been a bit odd. She still had scars, of course, she wasn't an instantaneous healer like Barry, but she was still faster than Wally, but she was a born meta-human, so maybe that had some kind of effect on her healing?

There was so much missing information, like Cadmus had purposefully blocked out the information concerning Amara's parents. It made her wonder how Doctor Spence had even found out that Mark Mardon aka Weather Wizard was her father in the first place.

Whatever the reason was, her biological mother and father's information had been completely scrubbed from the files.

Amara released a hiss through her clenched teeth with a bit of annoyance. It seemed like the universe was trying its hardest to keep her from finding out the true identity of her mother.

Clearly, her mother knew who she was, or she wouldn't waste her time sending her gifts and telling her she loved her. Her letter had said that by October, Amara would know the truth, but patience wasn't something Amara had when her family was involved.

Chapter Text

Robin had a rather intense headache, and the heat wasn't helping things. He groaned as he stumbled forward to lean against the nearest cliff-face, still rubbing circles into his brow in an attempt to alleviate the throbbing in his skull, though it had little effect.

He peered around a mass of dusty stones, his boots leaving l