Let a minute unravel
by Te
December 2005

Disclaimers: Not even remotely mine.

Spoilers/Timeline: Vague ones for various earlier issues
of OUTSIDERS. Takes place sometime after BIRDS OF
PREY #68.

Summary: And this probably isn't the way other people do

Ratings Note: Sexual content which dovetails neatly with
the content some readers may find disturbing.

Author's Note: Written for Derry for the [info]jbbs

Acknowledgments: With love to Betty, LC and various
others for hand-holding and encouragement.


It took kind of an embarrassingly long time for Dinah to seem
real, to Roy. To be more than just Ollie's on-again, off-again.

He's got a few excuses for it -- she wasn't really a part of his
life as Speedy until he really wasn't anything close to Speedy
anymore, until he wasn't close to anything at all, and at that
point no one was real.

Not him, not anyone else -- and sometimes when he looks
at Lian, the fear and gratitude are so incredible that he
doesn't know how he keeps breathing, because...

Because they *are* just excuses, and he has about half as
much patience for them as Ollie does, and, in the end, he
wouldn't have a life -- not Lian and not anything else -- if
he hadn't had Dinah.


These are the things he knows about Dinah, to the bone:

One on one, no weapons, she can kick his ass.

She never would.

She's nobody's mother.

It would've been cool if she'd been his.

The last one is more about him than her, of course, but it's
still true. She's got about seven-eight years on him --
physically, thanks to the Lazarus pit, she's about his age --
and so of course she's not *old* enough to be his mom,

That doesn't matter, really. Not in this life.



She's not -- really not -- like the rest of them. She's actually
more like a *Bat* than any of them, just not in any of the
ways which make you want to perforate them in non-fatal
but definitely painful ways, sometimes.

She's Black Canary right up to the bleached-out roots of her
hair, and while Roy's pretty sure that fucks her up a little --
like maybe she'd either stolen something from her mother
or was just too much *like* her mother -- she's Dinah,
which means she'd already finished coping with it by the
time anyone else noticed -- certainly by the time he did.

There's no real disconnect there, and there never could be,
and there's nothing in her life which would -- or could --
fuck with Black Canary.

Roy's pretty sure he's supposed to think that's fucked-up,
and it's not like he'd give up being Lian's father or anything
else which doesn't -- strictly -- belong to Arsenal, but...

Hell, maybe it's just about her being from Gotham, and,
anyway, it's both a little scary and perfectly right.


*Perfectly* right, because he can tell with a look -- a look
that gets him an eyebrow-raise, because of course she
caught it -- that she's got her bodysuit on under that
perfectly simple t-shirt and jeans, whether or not the
fishnets are there, too.

"Checking the merchandise, Harper?"

Roy grins. "Always. Mostly checking the merchandise's...
prep, though."

She snorts and -- oh so casually -- arches back a little,
stretching her arms over her head, improving the view,
and, yeah, if you're looking and you know what you're
looking for -- and he is, and does -- the armored points of
the corset portion of the bodysuit are right there.

"Expecting this to be an *exciting* lunch date, Dinah?"

That gets him another kind of eyebrow, because...

Because she's from Gotham, and so kind of always expects
'excitement.' He waves off his own question and makes sure
she can see his look change from curious to just a look.

When Dinah relaxes, she does it with her face first -- the
smile gets softer, the eyes get lazier.

The body comes after, if it does at all.


When Dinah visits, it pretty much always goes a certain

Lian spends a good ten minutes attached to her calf,
smearing fruit juice and peanut butter and god only knows
what else on Dinah's knee, after which Roy sends her off to

They do an ass-terrible job of not talking shop for another
few minutes -- without the food or the people-watching of
a good restaurant, that stuff is *hard* -- and then she tells
him about fifty percent true things about the Birds, and he
tells her about seventy percent true things about the

After about twenty minutes of that -- longer if there's a DVD
to distract Lian with, shorter if he and Dinah make each
other laugh too much or too loud -- Lian's right there, and
they play Lian vs. the supervillains (who are always, always

Then, assuming they don't have to go out and save the
world, it's dinnertime. And after that...

Well, as far as he's concerned, one of the best things about
being an honest-to-God superhero is the fact that he's still
hard enough to tire Lian out by seven-thirty, if he puts some
work into it.

And if he has help.

Dinah takes visitor-right to tuck Lian in, and Roy finds some
beers in the back of the fridge, and --


He thinks, maybe, if 'Dinah Lance' was more than the name
on a couple of leases which wouldn't take 'Black Canary' as
a signature, this would be different.

It probably wouldn't happen at all. People -- real people,
other people -- don't really do this, as near as he can tell.

Because there's no blood, but that doesn't matter -- it can't
matter -- because family is family, and --

"Where," she says, when she's done biting his lip and giving
a fraction of her focus to opening the beers with the knife
she keeps sheathed up her sleeve -- any sleeve.

And this probably -- definitely -- isn't the way other people
do things. But it's the way they do, and so, after he takes a
good, long swallow of his beer, he nods toward the

It makes her snort and shake her head. "Your ideas of
parenting --"

"Hey, Lian's *got* her own room, and the walls are pretty
thick --"

She doesn't say anything to that, but the eyebrow is loud,
high, and all about Diana Lance and the JSA.

Roy winces a little, internally, but... "Lian's not you."

It makes her smile in that soft way, that (adult) Dinah way
which hits him the way it always does -- it makes him want
to rewrite a few things in his life. Just enough to have Ollie
bring her home, as opposed to going (everywhere else) to
see her.

It just that the smile always comes with a head-tilt, a fall of
heavy hair with no right to be as soft and healthy as it is,
and -- when Lian's asleep and it's just them -- a hand on his

A thumb on his mouth.

"Am I making you feel old and responsible again?"

And the smile is harder just that fast, sharp and clear and
clean as a strike. "Not really the words I was looking for,


He's human and so he can't say he hasn't thought about --
it. What it must've been like for her with Ollie, and how
there couldn't possibly be anything he *could* do that Ollie
already hadn't -- before he was dead or after he wasn't

Grace tends to encourage thoughts like that, because Grace
is both the filthiest-minded person he's ever met who wasn't
a supervillain and the one most likely to have thought
through every nasty, fucked-up possibility to every

("I like you because you're dirty. I can deal with that about
myself. If you can't...")

He could, he can, he does, but it doesn't belong here.

And he's dead fucking sure that's why, nine times out of ten,
she winds up riding him.

"Are you sure you don't want to --"

Dinah's calluses are nothing like his, but not very different
from Connor's, when you get right down to it. Two fingers
on his mouth to shut him up, two fingers pushed right the
hell *in* to make sure he's focusing on the right thing, the
best thing --

Dinah up on her knees over him, bare-ass naked, hair
mussed from his fingers, smiling, and:

"Either way, I'm getting what *I* need..."

And this way, he's getting what *he* needs, too. Roy shakes
his head and laughs a little, cupping her hips and letting her
feel his own calluses, letting her know them a little. "You're
always taking care of me."

"Mm-hmm," she says, kneeling up a little more before
taking him in hand. "I'm so damned altruistic I should have
an 'S' on me somewhere."

And down, and --



It's always slow, it's always so slow and the kind of easy
that hurts, sweet like something which should be poisoned
but never, ever is.

She yanks his hand to her mouth, he bites her fingers, they
moan around each other's fingers and Roy wants music for
this, wants to be good enough to write it himself or smart
enough to pick the right kind.

Her hips are the blues, and he's aching like -- heh -- rock,
and even if Lian ever did wake up at the wrong time, this is
nothing like a bad thing.

This is --

This is one of the few parts of his life Roy doesn't know
how to be ashamed of, because it's Black Canary and she
loves him more than a little, even if he's still only Roy.


And because it's Black Canary, that pretty gold jewelry which
is just sexy and a little beside the point when she's riding
him is telling both of them that Aunt Dinah won't be around
to share pancakes with Lian in the morning.

It's just that it's telling *Dinah* exactly why.

Roy does his bit of forcing himself to doze a little through
the half of the conversation he can hear, Dinah does her bit
by making the way she squeezes his shoulder feel maybe-
a-little regretful, and Oracle does his (her?) bit of
pretending it doesn't know exactly what Dinah had been
doing fifteen minutes before the call.

"Canary out," she says, slipping out of bed and dragging
her nails over his bicep as she goes.

Roy hums and turns over onto his back. "Any room for me
out there?"

"Not tonight," she says, laughing. "I'm playing with

"Hey, I play *well* with Huntress."

The laugh becomes a not-really-shocked-at-all snort. "My
point, Harper," and she gives him a look from over her
scarred and creamy shoulder. "Business is business."

Roy gives a nicely exaggerated sigh, folding his arms over
his chest. "It hurts that you don't have faith in me, Dinah.
I mean, I'm --"

The kiss is actually almost brutal. It's the kind which makes
Roy wonder if Dinah ever *could* be with a civilian for
longer than a fling without going nuts, and it's the kind
which is all about making a point.

He gets his hand out from between them just enough to pet
her hair -- mussing it again is a waste of time -- and goes
with it, trying not to get *too* hard again when she growls
against his teeth, because that --

"I've always had faith in you, Roy, and I always will."

-- is the 'goodbye' growl. Roy smiles at her, trying to soften
the moment, this thing between them, back into good and
mellow, as opposed to good-and-anything-but.

It works enough to make her eyes flash a little less. "I'll call
if I have more time to spend in the area."

Roy nods. "I'll call if I don't."

She nods back, finishes dressing, and leaves from the


Roy's really not sure what he's going to do when Lian gets
sick of pancakes and juice for breakfast, since the only
person he knows who actually knows how to cook -- and
isn't Alfred -- is Kory, and he's pretty sure her ideas about
cuisine are a little too mustard-intensive for a growing girl.

For now, though, the pancakes work fine -- especially when
he throws in the chocolate chips.

Lian focuses on trying to load blanks into the nine millimeter
clips he can't quite bring himself to *not* let her play with
while he cooks, and gives him about six hundred different
perfect Kodak moments to burn into his brain, because
she's got *good* hands for a five year old, but she's
nowhere near strong enough to get more than two of the
shell casings in, yet.

It makes her stick out her tongue and do that thing where
she's almost bouncing off the chair in frustration, and she's
old enough now that Roy *can't* laugh, but he can still
enjoy watching it out of the corner of his eye right up until
she gives up and puts the clips and blanks back in her

She's really good about that, and about knowing her Daddy
and how much he really *would* love a hug -- orange juice
on the knees and all.

He hauls her up until she can balance on his hip and takes
a half-step back away from the stove.

"You smell like Auntie Dinah!"

"I bet I do, sweetheart."

It makes her snuggle in a little closer, which he can't say he
doesn't understand.