Author's Comment: A few people were hoping to see the father daughter chat, so voila!
"All right, Sport," Ann heard her father through the door. "Open up."
Ann sighed. "It's unlocked."
The door opened and in walked the man otherwise known as the Green Arrow. Ann couldn't hide a small smile at the thought. Her dad: the Green Arrow. The day she'd found out had more or less confirmed for her that he was the greatest dad in the world. This was better than being Superman's kid. Superman had powers. He had an obligation to be a hero. Her dad...Oliver Queen, he was just human. He'd chosen to rise above that. There were days when she wondered how she could ever live up to that.
He walked over and made her scoot over on her bed, resting his back against the headboard beside her.
"Mom send you up?" Ann smirked, knowing the drill.
He nodded. "Yep."
She looked at him expectantly, trying not to laugh at him. Her dad hated 'the talks.' She'd never tell him that growing up, these father-daughter talks were probably some of her favorite memories of him.
Finally he looked at her with a rueful expression. "You want to start?" he asked with a chuckle.
"Taking your motorcycle was pretty stupid," she conceded, knowing that he wasn't going to yell at her over it.
He glowered. "Damn straight."
"Don't let mom catch you swearing with me in the room," she joked.
"Yeah, yeah," he rolled his eyes. "Anyway, I was more concerned about these friends of yours."
She smiled, by 'friends,' she knew he meant 'this boyfriend of yours whose run away from home.' "Yes?"
He glared. "You're not going to make this easy for me are you?"
She laughed. "Nope."
"Fine. I'm worried about you because you were dating some punk who just took off with a potential death wish."
She raised an eyebrow. That was probably his least tactful phrasing of all time.
"You asked for it," he said, knowing what she was thinking. "Anyway, I thought you should know I know where this kid's coming from. You can ask your mother. I had more than a few 'phases'--as she calls them--in which I fell off the map and tried to drink myself into oblivion."
Ann stared at him in surprise and he smirked.
"What? Think your dad was perfect or something?"
She leaned her head on his shoulder and looked at the wall across from them. "Kinda," she said with a smile.
His arm wrapped around her shoulder affectionately and he gave her a gruff squeeze. "Don't know where you get these ridiculous ideas from," he joked. "Anyway, the thing is, a lot of people go through these phases growing up, especially guys. Your mother was the one who dragged me out of the gutter for the final time and pretty much pulled my head out of my butt for me."
Ann laughed. The story didn't sound like much of a stretch.
"And I'm not the only one, either. Uncle Clark went through one, too."
She started. Craning her neck to look up at him she said in surprise. "No way!"
He smirked, eyes dancing, and nodded. "I wasn't around for it, but I've heard stories. You remember what he was like that one New Year's when you were twelve? The time your mom made the mistake of buying confetti with those weird red rocks in it?"
Ann struggled to remember and then it came back to her. She giggled madly. "Yeah?"
"Well, those rocks sometimes have a less-than-amusing effect on him. When he was in high school he got really scared and took off--on a motorcycle--to Metropolis, wearing a ring with one of those rocks in it. Your mother says he was scared and lonely and really...what's that phrase she uses?"
"Tortured on the inside?" Ann supplied.
He nodded. "Yeah. He made it impossible to find him. Robbed banks, stole things, partied a lot. He was trying to forget his troubles. It was a long time before your mother found him and even she couldn't convince him to come back until he was ready."
Ann didn't respond, just mulled the information over in her brain.
"Anyway," he went on, "the thing is, this...friend of yours, well he's not going to come back until he's ready--or until your mother suddenly decides to threaten his life, but that's a long story--and right now, you've just got to be patient and support him. Be there when he needs you. God knows if I pulled through, anyone can."
"You had mom," she pointed out, grinning slyly.
He chuckled. "Yeah, well, you'd better hope he doesn't need her kind of help. But anyway, things will turn out all right."
She was quiet for a long time, her eyes closed so she could smell him. Her dad smelled good, like shaving cream and men's cologne and something more rugged, too. Worn leather and sweat. It was the most comforting smell in the world. She remembered the first time that had occurred to her was when her father started teaching archery to her. Another good memory.
"What happens if he doesn't come back?"
He squeezed her again.
"Then you pick yourself up and keep going."
"I don't want to."
"I know. Your mother didn't either."
"What did she do?"
She could feel his eyes on her. "Which time?"
"How many were there?"
"All of them then."
He sighed. "With Clark, she got pretty angry. She ended up getting very lost and confused. With her first husband--"
Ann tried not to open her eyes in shock. It was a rare thing that either of her parents spoke of her mother's deceased husband.
"--she joined a league of superheroes and became Watchtower." He chuckled. "With me...well by then she was so fed up she went into the gutter after me and dragged my sorry ass back. Very brutally I might add."
He grimaced at something and Ann laughed. "What did she do?"
"She's forbidden me to tell you."
Ann stared at him.
"Just trust me on this one, Sport."
She shrugged. "If you say so."
They were quiet again.
"So..." her dad started up again. "Would we say this father-daughter talk can officially be logged in the books?"
She nodded, giggling. "Uh huh. Thanks, dad." She snuggled in a little closer.
"Great. Ice cream then?"
"Duh," she smirked. They always ended the talks with ice cream.
"Sweet. We'll take the bike, which, by the way," he added, glaring at her as he got up, "if you ever take again without my permission I doubt you will live to talk about it. And I'm taking over any lessons on how to ride."
Ann stifled a grin. It was what she'd been hoping for long before she met Jason Todd.