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Paths of the Making

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Oliver and Kajsa couldn't help but listen in as the doctor spoke.

"Twenty percent of his body is covered in scar tissue. Second degree burns on his back and arms. X-rays show at least 12 fractures that never properly healed. And then there is his daemon-"

"Kajsa?" His mother's voice was tight with worry, and something else he couldn't quite pinpoint.

"She's... resettled." There it was, the tone Oliver had expected, confusion and maybe even revulsion combined with perhaps a bit of glee. Resettlement was rare; it wasn't everyday a doctor got to examine a case like his.

"Resettled? Has he said anything about what happened?"

"No, he's barely said anything."

Curled in his pocket, Kajsa nudged him lightly with her head. "I'm sorry."

Oliver stroked her head. "None of that now. You changed because I did. What we went through on the island.... We did what we had to do. We became what we had to become in order to survive."

"What will we say when they ask?"

"They won't."

"Dagfinnir might not, but Anskel definitely will."

Sighing, Oliver realized Kajsa was probably right, his mother's regal caracal was never one for prying, but Anskel.... Anskel had always been nosy, flittering about in everyone's business, even before settling as an emperor dragonfly mere months before Oliver had left. "Then we change the subject. Escape and evade, remember?"

"I remember," she replied softly, curling further into his pocket.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Before leaving the hospital Oliver had prised promises out of both his mother and Doctor Lamb- Kajsa would undergo no testing and there would be no mention of her change to anyone. "Please," he'd pleaded, "I'd just like to get back to the way things were. I just want to forget about everything that happened... everything I've been through." It had been easy.

It had all been so easy.

Kajsa's new shape was perfect for his work as the vigilante. Small and agile, she could slip in close and report back information if needed, or stay hidden against the nape of his neck behind the hood. And since no one saw her, there was no worry of anyone identifying her and tying her back to him.

People had questioned Kajsa's desire to stay hidden instead of preening about as she had used to, but their concern was brushed aside with a vague comment about the island changing them. And, thanks to Oliver's research, he was able to quote chapter and verse of the Daemon Protection Act to prevent Detective Lance from recording her details when he was arrested.

Diggle never asked. He'd discovered she'd resettled somehow, but he never brought it up. Once Oliver had earned the man's loyalty it hadn't wavered, no doubt the reason Ayelen settled as a german shepherd. In the end it was Kajsa who made the decision to reveal herself Diggle and Avelen after the disastrous fight with the other archer.

"Hurry, Diggle," she shouted into Oliver's radio. "His breathing isn't right."

"I'm on my way," came Diggle's calm reply. "I'm backtracking the signal now."

Later, in the hospital when Diggle had left on a coffee run, she told Oliver about what happened after he'd been hurt and how Diggle had kept talking to her, giving her sitreps on his route. She explained that hadn't even occurred to her hide when he approached and how he hadn't respond to her form other than to nod before turning his attention to taking care of Oliver.

"I used to like it when everyone looked at me," she said softly as she hid her face in the crook of his elbow.

She had been a sight to behold before the island. Small, but so colorful, with her purple crown, powder blue chest, green tail and crimson wings. "You were a beautiful lorikeet," Oliver told her, truthfully. "And you still beautiful."

"I'm different now. I've changed so much."

"So have I."

"I'm scarred," she shot back

"So am I," he reminded her.

Huffing at him, she crawled out, perched on his shoulder and stretched her wings. After a few moments of silence he spoke again, "You know, maybe I should copy you. The Hood is a stupid name and the Vigilante isn't much better. I could alter my hood a little, make it into a proper cowl, and get a cape...."

"Oh, no," she said, trying but failing to keep the laughter out of her voice, "You are not calling yourself Batman. No way, I forbid it!"

"That's big talk for a little bat."

"I may be little, but you don't want to cross me. I have ways of plotting my revenge. Just wait and see, buster, just wait and see."