Jul. 11th, 2015 03:01 pm
daringyoungman: ([Dick] his reflection)
There are two kinds of criminals in Gotham – the Rubes and the Sideshows. One suspicious, cowardly lot, and one set of freakshows. One set wear masks to hide their faces, the other wear masks for the attention they get.

After all his training, Dick can mop the floor with either of them.

And even when the gimmicks get a little too creepy, when it’s mind control and kidnapping and fear gas and creepy plants, Dick can’t help but have fun. With Jenny back at school, and apparently unharmed by her experience, he’s really glad to be out there, doing the work.

Of course, there are degrees even among the freakshows. On one end, there’s Blockbuster and Condiment King and on the other there’s the Jokers and the Poison Ivys.

And Two-Face.

In terms of his relationship with Bruce, Two-Face is… complicated. Harvey Dent had been friends with Batman before the incident with Maroni and the acid, and now he’s gone… well, he’s totally off the deep end.

But – complicated or not, he’s still just a freak show and he’s still got to have his butt  kicked, so when Gordon tells the dynamic duo that Harvey’s kidnapped Judge Watkins, Dick doesn’t see any reason not to start turning over rocks straight away and start with the ass whuping. But Bruce reacts slightly differently to the news.

“I’m thinking of having you sit this one out.”

“No! You can’t! I heard you tell Gordon we’re partners!”

“We are. So I’m asking you to stand down. I’ll let you think about it.”

 

 

Dick sits on the stairs to the cave and watches Bruce work at the computer. He gets it, really. Well, he thinks he gets it. This is big: Judge Watkins was the judge presiding over the Maroni case when Dent went over the edge. It’s not just any ol’ wackjob crime – this is personal. This is a shout out to the people involved. To Batman. He’s calling him out, to settle a score that pre-dates Robin, pre-dates Dick.

This isn’t about him, it’s about the two of them.

Dent’s ‘thing’ – the duality, the obsession with twos, isn’t just a gimmick like Killer Moth wearing wings or Condiment King and his pepper guns. It’s a deep rooted psychosis – something he’s likely to fall back on to get Batman where he wants him to be. So Bruce looks for possibilities for crimes involving ‘two’ and hits upon Eileen Damascus, the rich socialite, who has just given birth to twins. Not willing to risk the lives of children, Bruce hurries out of the cave to check that lead first.

Dick sits on the stair for less than a minute before realising he can’t stay still either. He has to be there. He rushes after Bruce.

 


On the roof of the Damascus building, Dick finds Bruce standing off against Dent, who is standing on the very edge of the building carrying two wrapped bundles, holding one dangerously over the edge. Dick lands lightly on the corner of the building, with a good angle just in case he has to leap off again.

“Ho ho!” Two-Face doesn’t do a convincing laugh. “I was hoping the two of you would show. Hardly original. Barely convincing. Let’s see how far a bouncing baby boy can bounce.”

He drops the child as casually as if he was throwing away trash. Dick cries out, and dives after him, letting his line spill out behind him, thanking the gods of criminal Gotham that Two-Face chose the penthouse, do he has the distance and time to manoeuvre, catching the baby and swinging to a fifth storey window ledge with the bundle in his arms.

“Don’t worry you’re safe now…”

The baby hadn’t cried at all. The only noise it makes now is a mechanical Mama! And Dick finds himself staring into the eyes of a child’s baby doll. That suddenly puffs out a smokey gas right into Dick’s face, filling his nose and mouth and hitting the back of his throat like a punch from Blockbuster.

He just about manages the thought to force himself to fall forward, rather than backwards off the edge of the building, as coughing wracks his body, is nose and mouth burning, eyes streaming. The smoke forces his eyes closed, and then he finds he can’t open them, except to feel them rolling back into his body as he falls further forward.

And then everything goes black.

 

 

 

 

 

“Wakey wakey. Robin. You’re holding up the show.”

Nothing can hold up the show. The show must...

Dick fights his way to consciousness, only to find himself with his hands tied behind his back, a silent henchman standing either side of him. He blinks furiously, relieved to find his mask still on.

Maybe Two-Face doesn’t care. Batman and Robin. That’s the two he cares about, not Dick and Robin.

Or maybe that’s not the two. In front of Dick, apparently built just to torture him: a gallows, built, according to Harvey’s twisted mind, for two. Batman on his left, Judge Watkins on his right. Tied, a bag over each head, a noose over each neck, ready to be hanged.

He feels it again, that all too familiar hit of nausea in his stomach, bile in his throat that comes from utter helplessness. Two lives on the line, and somehow it’s up to Dick to get them out and he doesn’t know what to do.

“Don’t play his game, Robin,” Bruce mutters, but Two-Face hits him hard around the head and he’s silent, his head slumping forward.

Then Two-Face turns his attention to Dick, pulling out the coin Dick’s heard so much about  - Dent’s lucky coin, one side clean, one side scarred.

“The odds are fifty-fifty. What’re the stakes, kid?”

Dick can feel himself panicking. He racks his brain but cannot come up with a way out of this that doesn’t involve huge gambles.

But maybe – maybe. The trapeze is all about taking risks, keeping calm and thinking quickly in a changing situation. Maybe Dick can use Two-Face’s coin and his obsession against him?

“Who dies first?” he says quickly. “Scarred face it’s Batman. Clean, it’s the judge.”

That’ll buy him time at least.

Two-Face throws the coin up in the air, where the clean face catches the flickering light in the dust. It spins, once, twice and lands on Harvey’s gloved hand; he tilts it to show Dick: clean face up.

“So the judge is the first.” Keep talking. Harvey Dent was a lawyer, first. “How about best two out of three? Clean side up, the judge doesn’t hang.”

It’s a gamble it’s a gamble it’s a helluva gamble, but if it doesn’t work he’ll think of something, right?

It’s clean.

Dick’s breath leaves his body so hard his shoulders slump. The judge doesn’t hang.

Two-Face honours it – he cuts the rope above the judge’s neck.

And opens the trapdoor beneath him anyway.

The struggling body falls through the hole and Dick can hear a splash as the tied body hits a deep body of water beneath.

There is no other sound, other than Dick’s panicked yell.

“But the coin toss!”

“You gotta be careful of the terms when you place a bet. You gotta be real specific. Otherwise you find yourself in over your head.”

Dick’s learned to swim. He’s read about drowning, and can only imagine the pain and horror of it, lasting so much longer than a neck breaking drop. He thinks of the judge, probably still drowning, and the bile chokes in his throat again. Is the same fate going to meet Bruce?

Does Bruce know that Dick got the judge killed?

Two-Face removes the bag from Bruce’s head, revealing the Batcowl underneath (again, Two-Face doesn't care about the duality of Bruce and Batman. He sees Batman as one person.) “Wake up, Bats. There’s something I want you to see.”

Then he’s coming down off the scaffold, strolling towards Dick, addressing him again.

“No you and your pal are even. You both have blood on your hands. Your pal killed Harvey Dent, and you killed Judge Watkins. And now I’m gonna kill you both.”

The right hook comes fast and hard – Dick is able to anticipate it, but with his hands tied and his head still foggy from the gas, he can only turn partly away from it to soften the impact. And it still sends him flying to the floor. Trying to catch his breath, he finds his nose blocked and blood streaming down his face.

Two-Face is still talking when he kicks Dick in the stomach, lifting him off the floor. He barely has time to register it before his face explodes in pain again – but when he does think, it’s to remember his training. To listen, to stay quiet and calm, and take in all the information. Despite the fear, despite the pain. To focus.

Two-Face is still talking.

“Harvey Dent was one of the good guys. Being good in this town means you need guts. You gotta be tough. You gotta do things that aren’t in the lawbooks. The Bat didn’t have the stomach for this. He punked out on Harvey. The great outlaw protector of Gotham hid behind Lady Justice’s skirts. But she’s blind for a reason, Brat. ‘Cause she doesn’t see what needs to be done in her name. I wanted you to understand that. Before it’s all over, I wanted you to know.”

Dick’s face is wet with blood, his mouth swollen, his nasal passages blocked. But his mask is designed to keep sweat out of his vision at all times, and so, even though there’s throbbing where the his swollen cheek hits the mask, blood and tears are kept clear of his vision, and he can see clearly when one of Two-Face’s henchman passes his boss a baseball bat.

“It wasn’t me that killed you. It was the Bat.”

(The Batman? The baseball bat?)

The first hit lands in Dick’s ribs, and while he can’t hear anything over the impact, he feels the crack as the air explodes out of his chest again. The second hit lands on a hip, the third…

That’s when he loses track, can’t focus long enough to keep recording the location of the hits, stops being able to count them, can’t tell the throbbing of his body from the bat hitting it. Can’t stand up, can’t speak, can’t breathe, can’t hear anything except Two-Face’s words ringing in his ears.

It wasn’t me that killed you. It was the Bat.

(He’s wrong. This is all Dick’s fault. It wasn’t the Bat that killed Robin. Robin killed the Bat.)

It was the Bat…

Dick sinks into the pain, until there is nothing else.

And then there is nothing at all.

Jun. 15th, 2015 06:21 pm
daringyoungman: ([Dick] worried)
There’s a girl. Her name is Jenny. She’s new at Bristol Middle School (Dick had the option of private school. The private schools he was offered were all boys only.) She’s pretty (she’s really pretty). She keeps looking at Dick.

This makes no sense – girls aren’t supposed to look at Dick because at school, Dick’s just Richard Grayson, boring orphan. He’s not Robin, he’s even toned down the Flying Grayson on Bruce’s request. But she’s looking at him, and sometimes, sometimes he really wants to show off. Just a little backflip, a slam-dunk at basketball. That would be okay, right?

Right?

Yeah, Dick knows he can’t. He’s got to be boring Richard Grayson at school. He’s got to be boring Richard Grayson at boring Bruce Wayne’s boring reception for visiting dignitaries from Rheelasia. He’s got to wear ridiculous tailored tuxedos and have his cheeks pinched and put up with Bruce’s ‘playboy’ act. All for the sheer joy, the sheer exhilaration of flying on a line above the city later that night, as he does every night, and is what makes his life worth living.

Worth every single boring daylight second.

It sucks, though, that Dick’s fun has got to be tied into someone else’s misery. For every bad guy he beats up, there’s got to be a victim of the bad guy. And even though patrol is amazing, there’s always a reason for the batsignal.

Like eight girls being kidnapped. And in the newspaper the next day:

NINE GIRLS MISSING

… and a picture of Jenny.

For a second, Dick feels the world opening out underneath him again. Watches someone else falling. His stomach drops, his face flushes cold, he feels so helpless.

Just for a second.

Until Bruce reminds him of the mission. That he can DO something.

He goes to school – boring Richard Grayson. He offers to help the Vice Principal track some devious spitball miscreants. This leaves him sitting outside Mr Rooney’s office while Jenny’s best friend Claire tells a policeman about how they left school together yesterday, and how they passed a Zony electronics giveaway stall, with a man in an oversized baseball cap giving away free radio headsets. Claire tells the cop that hers didn’t do anything, but how Jen just… wandered off listening to hers.

And then she didn’t see her again.

Dick catches Claire up after school.

He tracks the last walk she made with Jenny. He watches another girl put on the radio headset and just… wander off dreamlike into a van.

The van drives off, and Dick tries to follow, but there’s only so far you can chase a vehicle on foot.

He needs Robin.

He needs Bruce, but when he phones the Manor, Alfred tells him that Bruce is on a dinner cruise with the president of Rheelasia. He could call him on the boat…

…but this guy in the hat has just abducted TEN girls of Dick’s age and he has a lead.

They were radios, not tape players. That means a broadcast. That means that if he gets Alfred to drive him around while he uses his own radio to try and find the right signal, to figure out what the girls were listening to.

It’s music. “Awaken and Obey,” say the lyrics. (Like THAT’s not creepy.)

They track it to a warehouse in the docks. Fully Robin’ed up, Dick leaves Alfred in the car and heads to check it out.

He finds the radio equipment. He finds a table set for… a freaking tea party with chine cups and everything, and he finds a generic bad guy goon with a machine gun. (Whups)

“The Hatter don’t like snoops!”

(Dick’s read that book. Now the tea party makes sense.)

It takes no time at all to dance around until the idiot’s out of bullets, to draw him up onto a girder above the warehouse floor, to catch him in a batarang and hang him by his ankles.

“Where do I find this Hatter guy?”

There’s a boat sailing out of Gotham Harbor, a party on the boat. Dick ‘borrows’ a jet ski and invites himself to the party – or at least the store rooms under the party. There, he finds creepy radio seller, wearing a giant hat and muttering something about not being invited to the party. Elsewhere in the hold, is a sealed room in which Dick finds all ten missing girls, dressed up like…

(His stomach lurches)

…like Alice. They’re in blonde wigs and blue dresses like freaking Alice, and they’re listening to their radios and they won’t wake up. Jenny won’t wake up. He takes off her headset, he shines a light in her eyes, all she can say is “Is it tea-time, Mr. Tetch?” and Dick wants to throw up.

He wants to run.

He wants to hit something.

Fortunately, Gotham has great timing, as the crate behind him shatters with a gunshot, and the little man in the big hat – the Hatter, appears at the doorway. Dick moves twice – once to batarang the gun out of his hand, and again to dive at him, throwing him off his feet and knock the hat to the ground, pinning him to the floor.

“Tell me how to wake them up!”

“SiLly bOy. I’lL roUse tHem iF yoU likE…” He presses something on the microphone in his hand and the entire room changes – the girls stand up, all in unison.

“We hear and obey…”

They reach out for Dick, round on him. “Girls! GIRLS! Wake up!”

RemEmbEr, soN, it’S noT niCe tO hIt a lAdy.” Tetch is putting his hat back on - prioritising that rather than the microphone, or his escape.

“I’m not going…” the only way is up, to a pipe just above Dick’s head, where the girls can’t reach him. “…to hit them!” He whips a batarang out and sends it flying at the hat, knocking it off Tetch’s head.

The quiet is instantaneous, and heavy as the whir of the radio and the obedient muttering disappears. And then the girls are suddenly shaking themselves, speaking all at once.

“Huh…?”

“What’s going on?”

It’s not over yet, though. The door opens, and Tetch’s employer bursts in, only to get a pair of pixie boots to the chest. Dick runs, drawing the fire of both men out and away from the girls, right towards another pip, which when hit by bullets releases steam right over them. Dick takes advantage of the visibility, and with two well placed strikes, knocks them both out.

He leaves them.

It sounds like the police have arrived on deck, and Dick creeps up through a pipe, to where the well dressed party guests are standing around, watching the kidnapped girls being questioned by police. At the back of the crowd, standing a little way back from the others, is…

“Bruce! Pssst! Bruce!”

“Robin?”

“Is Jenny all right?”

“All the girls are safe.”

“I’m sorry that I had to…”

“This isn’t the time.” Bruce’s face hardens a touch, shows more Batman than Bruce Wayne usually shows, “but we will talk about this at home You can count on it.”

Dick’s heart sinks as he returns to the cave.

He was stupid, he knows. He was crazy, and reckless, and put himself in danger, he knows. But Bruce was away, and he had to follow those girls. He had to. If he’d waited, they’d have been shipped out.

But he should have waited.

He curls up in a blanket in front of the batcomputer, and consoles himself with watching the news coverage of the girls being returned to their families. Braces himself against the coming storm of Bruce’s disapproval.

Eventually Bruce returns from the party and…

“Well done,” he says. “I couldn’t have done it better myself. You did the spade work. You put the clues together. And when the crunch was on and I was unavailable, you acted on your own.

“I’m proud of you, Robin.”

It’s the best thing Dick’s heard all night.

Camping

Jun. 2nd, 2015 08:22 am
daringyoungman: ([Dick] gargoyle in training)
Dick and Cat wanted to go camping. Dick asked Bonnie. Dick asked around, then somehow the word got out and it was a CAMPING TRIP.

Which he's okay with, really. He doesn't get much chance to hang around with other kids.

They pick a spot a good distance from the bar, near enough to the lake that washing and swimming can happen, not so close to the forest that demon bunnies are a severe threat, and set about pitching a camp for the weekend, or whenever they all get bored...

Oct. 31st, 2013 09:31 pm
daringyoungman: ([Dick] vow)
 "I can't change your mind."
 
Not a question. Dick appreciates that.

"No way."
 
"You might want to rethink the yellow cape." Again, a statement, not a real suggestion.
 
"Nope. Those were the colors my parents wore in the circus."
 
(Because it's not about Bruce. And while he knows Bruce knows it, Dick wants it obvious. Doing it WITH him, not doing it FOR him.)
 
"And what is it you want to call yourself?"
 
(When the Red Red...)
 
"'Robin.'"
 
("My little Robin, always bobbin' along.")
 
For her, and for his father.
 
With the artficial lights off, the cave is completely pitch black until Bruce strikes a match, casting a light over his gauntlets, and then the candle set on a rock between the two of them. They are both silent as he lights the candle, then Bruce offers his hand to Dick.
 
"Batman and Robin," Bruce says, trying it out. He seems to like the sound of it.
 
Bruce raises his hand, and he makes a vow.

To work with Dick, to train him, to guide him in his new life, and to make sure that the boy is never alone again.
 
Dick never gave Gotham a second thought until Mothers' Day this year. Then the city took his parents away from him and his whole life changed. Now, he stands in a cave deep beneath the city and he makes a vow.
 
To rid the city of that evil. To fight the poison and the corruption that leaves children orphans. To clear the darkness of Gotham.
 
Together.

Oct. 26th, 2013 02:46 pm
daringyoungman: ([Dick] stealthy stealthy)
Since Columbus Day Bruce has been as broody and as snappish and as often out on patrol as anytime Dick's known him. Not just out after Two-Face and the other crazies, but closing in fast on the Hang Man.

He's out tonight. Dick, looking out of the window in one of the highest, never used rooms in Wayne Manor, saw the Batsignal shine then disappear from the sky above the city. That was hours ago, and he's been in the Batcave ever since, waiting for Bruce's return. Sitting on one of the highest banks of computers, he stares down at his costume hidden behind it.

Tonight. Tonight he will tell him. Or maybe Alfred. He tells him himself that tonight is the night, definitely.

Just like he told himself that yesterday.

He's learned of a number of entrances to the cave in the past few months, and he knows that sometimes it's hard to predict how Bruce will return. From Dick's vantage point he can see most of these entrances, and he can be seen from many of them, as well. What he isn't expecting is the sound of an electrical explosion from a tunnel deeper below him, from a tunnel that is NOT on the list of known entrances.

He certainly isn't expecting a deep throated scream and the sound of people arguing, one of which is a woman, and none of which is Bruce, with or without his Batvoice.

Dick went climbing down there last month. He knows for a fact that while there's a tunnel down there, it's sealed off with an electrified grating. He threw a baseball at it and earned himself double chores for a week. That must have been the scream, and now intruders are enterring the cave. Dick slips into the darkness, easy when there's so much of it, and watches the intruders step into the artificial light.

He recognizes each and every one.
Two-Face
Mr Freeze
Poison Ivy
The Joker.

It's a very serious situation, breaking into the Batcave, Bruce's great secret potentially hanging in the balance. Any one of the four of them would kill a boy like Dick without a second thought.

He grins to himself and drops down to his folded clothes.

"Showtime."

First things first - he throws a grappling hook hard and watches it circle and wrap around a stalagtite that he noticed two weeks ago was weak and about to fall. One hard tug and the heap of rock falls right on Freeze's helmet.

He's been trained, sort of, by X and by Bruce, but not for this. At least, no one out loud has admitted it's for this. Dick would probably not last a second against any of these psychos in any other situation, but they're in his home. (And how weird is it that Dick has a home? When did that happen?) He's spent the entire summer with nothing to do but explore these caves and the manor above it, and he knows it better than anyone, except perhaps Bruce himself.

He doesn't need to look to scoop up a rock and catapult it into the side of Ivy's weird green face, knocking her out as well. The upside of that is it detracts Joker and Two-Face's attention away from the sewer tunnel, and they don't see the swish of the cape that Dick sees.

The down side is that they look up at the upper level, and the yellow of Dick's own cape is unmissable. A second later and they're firing.

The sound of the gunshots fill the cave, leaving Dick's ears ringing. As he leaps through the air above them, clutching the bowstaff Bruce has been training him with, he can feel the whip of the bullets' slipstreams as they miss him by inches. He should be scared.n He should be terrified. He should, at the very least, be angry.

He feels great. He feels the lightest, and the happiest he's felt since his parents have died.

He's flying.

"What the Hell is this?!" Joker sounds like he can't tell his he should be annoyed or laughing his ugly head off.

"Some kid all by himself." Two-Face definitely sounds angry.

"Okay, Batman!" Dick screams to the shadow below. "Let's take them!" He somersaults in the air and throws himself down, feet first. "Not alone, mister! A dynamic duo!"

He feet hit the side of Joker's grin just as Batman rises up from beneath them and throws a mother of a punch into the good side of Harvey's face. Dick knows a punch like that should make a sound, but either his ears are still ringing too much from the gunshots, or Bruce fist and feet land on their targets at the same time.

With the Joker down, Dick turns to Batman, to see him throwing punch after punch at Two-Face. They have history, Dick knows. Harvey Dent was a friend of Batman's until a year ago. Dick's heard it from Alfred. He's read it on the file. He's seen the way Bruce tenses when thinking about Two-Face. His face can't be seen, but as he watches, Dick is worried that Bruce might lose control.

Until suddenly Two-Face pulls out a gun.

"Batman," Dick says, "I can..."

"Stay back, you!" Bruce doesn't use Dick's name, and he appreciates that.

"Gotham City is mine, now," Two-Face says, less gloating and more relieved. "Everyone else is dead."

The single gunshot sounds louder than all the shots fired at Dick earlier. As Two-Face falls off the ledge of the cave, Dick realises that's because it came from right by his own ear - the Joker, who wasn't as down as Dick thought he was.

"Not everyone, Harv. HA!"

Then the clown turns the gun on Batman, and starts ranting himself, and Dick can see it - the way the lunatic's world narrows to just him and Batman, on each end of the gun. He doesn't even notice the kid who just kicked him in the teeth.

So he doesn't notice at all when Dick swings hs staff around and whacks him right in the centre of that ridiculous grin.

"Screwball in the corner pocket!" This time as the clown falls, Dick takes a good look to make sure he's going to stay down, resting a foot on his chest so he'd feel him move. Then he swings his staff onto his shoulder and looks over the other at Batman.

He grins.

"Pretty cool, huh?"

...


"What is that you're wearing?"

Oct. 13th, 2013 09:20 pm
daringyoungman: ([Dick] stealthy stealthy)
 Alfred told Dick that Bruce would never ask.

So Dick thought about this. And Dick decided to go ahead without Bruce's asking. So when Bruce has been out of the house (and Bruce is out of the cave a lot) Dick has been sewing. His parents taught him; on the road costumes had to be made and repaired as you go, and everyone did it. Your costume was your own responsibility. So Dick made it his.

But he's going to have to tell Bruce one of these days, he knows. In fact, he comes down to the cave tonight, clutching his newly swwn yellow cape in hand, to find Bruce. But Bruce is out, patrolling the city, trying to catch the Hang Man.

He won't succeed.

Tomorrow it will be in the papers.

COLUMBUS DAY MASSACRE

The Maroni Brothers.
Lucia Viti
Edward Skeevers
Bobby Gazzo

Not the Hang Man, though. Two Face. Poison Ivy. Mr Freeze. The Joker. Themed villains, a new crop in Gotham City, setting out to make the City theirs my getting rid of the mob bosses - Six of the nine are now only 'safe' in a certain sense of the word.

Dick reads the paper over breakfast while Bruce sleeps off the night. He decides not to mention the costume yet.



Sep. 2nd, 2013 08:00 pm
daringyoungman: ([Dick] hanging)
Had Dick the choice, Tony Zucco would still be alive. Arrested and facing justice for his parents' murder, but alive. And he definitely wouldn't have died in front of Dick, and it wouldn't be something Dick blamed himself for.

But even though that happened, thingns are better for Dick now. A weight has been lifted since Zucco's death, and he's now free to have his own run of the Manor and the Batcave.

(Bruce keeps telling Dick not to call it that. Dick loves the name and is sticking with it.)

He's been training, sometimes with Bruce, sometimes on his own. Even thouhg he doesn't have a murderer to track down, he's training because he needs something to do. And the more he sees of Batman, the more he obsesses with that mission.

He can help, he knows it.

Bruce has been tracking a killers for nearly a year. A series of murders coinciding with major holidays, and each time a note left at the scene - some sort of sick play on the game of Hangman.

"Maybe I could help," Dick says.

"Master Dick," Alfred cuts in on Bruce's request, "perhaps your time would be better spent with your studies or..."

"I'm serious. Look, we used to play games like this on the road all the time. Dots. Tic-Tac-toe. Hangman."

Bruce leans down to Dick's level, looming large and close. "This isn't a game."

"Sor-ry."

N-NE -F Y-- -RE S-FE
TW- C-- PL-Y T--S G-M-
KN--S -F Y--'VE BEEN B-- -OR G---
AN- J-ST-CE -OR A--
-UILT- -S SI-


None of you are safe. Two can play that game. Knows if you've been bad or good. And Justice for All. Guilty as sin.

There was another lot of killings last year, also tied to holidays. But Batman caught that guy. Alberto Falcone, a member of a mob family in Gotham. There's a projection of the powerful players in that empire on a large screen in the cave. Sofia Falcone, Mario Falcone, Alberto Falcone, Lucia Viti, Umberto Maroni, Pino Maroni, Tony Zucco, Edward Skeevers, Bobby Gazzo.

- J-RY -F Y--R -EERS
M-RDER IN T-E FIR-T DE-REE
ORD-R I- TH- -O-RT
-U-TICE I- B-IND
AN -Y- FO- AN -Y-


A Jury of your peers. Murder in the first degree. Order in the court. Justice is blind. An eye for an eye.

None of you are...


"Um," Dick says after a minute of silent thinking. "Hey. Just listen for two seconds, okay? You see this first note? 'None of you are safe?' What if it's supposed to read 'Nine of you are safe.' Y'know, like a message -not a clue."

Bruce looks at the nine faces on the screen. Alfred looks at Bruce.

"Huh? Huh?" Dick insists. "What do you think?"

"I have to go."

Bruce leaves the cave almost immediately, which Dick assumes means he thinks he was on to something. He helped. Dick helped him.

He lets Alfred hurry him off to bed, but he grabs only a few hours before he's back in the cave again before dawn, practising his acrobatics, and thinking about how he can continue to be useful.

Maybe he could have a costume too, and fight alongside Batman? Like 'Bat-boy,' 'Bat-Mite.' 'Batty.' 'Spooky.'

Because he's up before dawn, he's in the cave when Bruce returns, head down, not a word to either Dick nor Alfred except to have the costume cleaned by tonight. It looks like it was a long night for Batman."

"I could help him," Dick complains to Alfred, "if he'd just ask me."

"Yes, I imagine you could. But I am quite certain he never will ask, Dick."

Aug. 2nd, 2013 12:30 am
daringyoungman: ([Dick] running)
He's trained.

The month of July in Gotham has been one of sweltering, unbearable heat, breaking only for loud and violent thunderstorms, and Dick has spent nearly all of it down in the cave. Training. Learning forensics and psychology and the history and geography of Gotham. Training in Tae Kwon Do and Judo and Bojutsu. Transforming himself from a broken, orphaned aerialist into a fighter, a detective. Someone who can face down the killer of his parents.

Someone who can help the Batman.

Bruce is spending a lot of time training Dick, but he's spending just as much time out, like he always has. The difference this time is twofold: firstly that Dick has suddenly a whole lot to do and work on: reading, calesthenics, or hammering a pell down in the batcave. The second difference is that now Dick knows why Bruce is out. It's not 'business trips,' it's being the Batman.

Without him.

There have been a series of murders in Gotham over the last year. There are a lot of murders in Gotham, but these, Dick knows, are similar to another set of murders that took place last year, one a month. Bruce - Batman - caught the guy responsible for those, but now there's another spate. One a month, on holidays. Batman's been trying to find this murderer, but he's also been out looking for Tony Zucco, who killed Dick's parents.

Dick is at home, in the Batcave, beating a dummy with his stick.

It's not fair.

He's ready.

But Batman doesn't think so. He thinks Dick will get hurt again. He doesn't trust him.

When Dick hits the dummy so hard the head goes rolling across the floor, Alfred remarks dryly that it'll be coming out of his allowance. And he goes on to explain that Batman is just training Dick to seek justice when he finds Zucco. And nothing else.

But then, when they find him, then what will happen?

What is the point of all this?

Before Dick can ask, the door to the cave opens and Batman's silhouette appears against the light. "It's time."

It is late at night. Past midnight, even. But Dick's always worked late with the circus and since the Fourth he's spent more and more time waiting up as long as possible to when Batman gets home, fighting Alfred for a later and later bedtime. As he and Batman make their way to a place called the Ox Club, he isn't even tired. He's so pumped up, he can hardly keep still as he waits outside on Batman's order. He makes himself be still, though. Still and focused as he's been trained.

Dick waits on the roof, above the door to the building. Inside the club he hears gunshots, but he knows that Batman wears bulletproof armor. Bullets can't hurt him. Gunshots fired means that Zucco is running scared. Gunshots that grow progressively louder mean that he's running up towards Dick. And then he can hear his footsteps on the stairs mean he's running up to the roof, just as Bruce said he would.

And then the door flies open, spilling light over the roof, pooling around the shadow of a fat man: the man who killed Dick's parents. He smells of sweat and wine and gunsmoke, and he's panting heavily, out of breath from the run. He is, in that moment, the most disgusting thing Dick has ever encountered.

The murderer has a gun in his hand, and as taught, Dick goes for that first, using his staff to send it flying across the roof. then he throws himself off the ledge he's been squatting on, putting his weight onto the staff as it connects with Zucco's balding head.

"You can't run away, fat man."

But then the guy's breath catches sharply and he falls, clutching his chest.

"Can't breathe..."

Dick towers over him, holding his staff threateningly. "You're fakin' it. Get up!"

But then Batman is behind him, pushing him gently aside as he takes his place over the killer. "There's an ambulance coming."

He's not faking it. He's lying on the ground, spilling his guts out to Batman in a hoarse whisper, scared and pathetic and begging - begging for them to save him.

Dick listens as he tells Batman that he and the Maroni brothers pulled last years Arkham break, grasping on to the info as Batman has told him to, but not processing any of it yet. He watches as Batman pulls away from the man to give him space, but ends up giving Dick a better view of the man.

Dick watches him die.

He thought he wanted this.

It turns out he didn't.

Jul. 4th, 2013 08:44 pm
daringyoungman: ([Dick] aggressive)
Wayne Manor remains big, and it remains empty, and Mr Pennyworth setting off fireworks in the garden doesn't make it seem any bigger. A private firework display for one is not what the 4th of July is for, but Mr. Wayne doesn't seem to understand that. Anything that can't be bought, he doesn't understand. He's got plans tonight, like he has plans every night, and he leaves Dick alone in the house.

He doesn't understand, and he doesn't care.

After the saddest most expensive firework display ever, after being sent to bed, Dick slips out of the manor again to get to the circus. Slipping onto the roof of the wagon Haly uses as an office, he finds a man in a bright shirt and a cowboy hat delivering a sucker punch right into Haly's stomach.

"If Mr. Zucco has to come out here again, Haly, it's gonna be bad. It's gonna make what happened to the Graysons look like a funhouse."

Dick doesn't need to know anymore. He drops to the ground and picks up a rock, which he slips into the slingshot he brought with him. Sending it flying through Haly's window, he brings out the slime and hits him with his second stone. Then Dick just stands o the balls of his feet, facing him down as scarily as he can, when that's a grown man and he's a kid with a slingshot.

"What do you know about what happened to the Graysons?" he asks, as menacingly as he can.

What happens next is confusing. There's a sudden hard pain right in the back of his head and Dick falls, smashing his face into the ground. He hears a man's voice above him - someone hit him with something from behind, and as Dick rolls over to see, that figure's shadow is taken over by the huge shape of a wide black cape and the guy is knocked away from him, a shapeless black mass crouching over him, hard to make out in the nighttime darkness.


"Bat..." Dick mutters, hearing that familiar growl, but not any words, "...man?"

And then the night rushes in and everything goes black.





Dick wakes in a bed, in a place he's never even seen before. He isn't even sure if he's inside or outside: there's no natural light, no visible sky or roof, but a huge sense of space. As he wakes up more, his head aching, he realizes he's in a massive cave, lying in a bed by machines that make it look like a hospital bed, a huge computer bank just beside him. And standing in front of that computer, his back to the bed - the Batman.

"What..." Dick manages, "what is this place?"

There's a floor that runs around the edge of the cave with a railing around the middle, where Dick can see another floor below, and another below, circles on top of circles. Across that center chasm he sees what looks like a life-size model dinosaur. Turning around, he can make out a giant sized penny against another wall.

"I never thought to give it a name," says Batman. And without really stopping he adds: "You want to find out who killed your mother and father."

"Yes."

"I can't let you go out there. Untrained. All you'll do is get hurt or worse."

Dick pushes himself up in the bed. There're bandages on his face, and his head hurts, and his resentment towards every adult in Gotham isn't going away.

"Why do you care what happens to me? I mean, I see more of you than that guy Wayne who's supposed to look out for me!"

Slowly, Batman peels back the cowl from his head, and turns to look at Dick with his face uncovered.

Bruce Wayne's face.

"Dick. I know we have a lot to talk about..."

Yeah, they do.

Jun. 16th, 2013 11:24 pm
daringyoungman: ([Dick] his reflection)
Every Father's Day, the flying Graysons would take the day, wherever they happened to be, and go into the nearest town. They would have lunch at a cheap, family friendly restaurant that served burgers and milkshakes and more fries than any of them could eat. They'd go see a movie. Mary would help Dick pick out a present for John.

They would spend time as a family, for ten Father's Days in a row.




Today, Dick is in a house bigger than the Big Top, with only a stuffy English man for company. Mr. Wayne, as usual, is away 'keeping unusual hours.'

It's the first Father's Day Dick has spent by himself.

He wants to go to the bar, to get away from it all, but he knows he'd just come back to Father's Day in Wayne Manor. Keep coming back to the fall. To the cut rope.

To his father. To the accident.

“Always check the ropes,” he'd say, over and over and over again. Dick watched him. Every day, every performance, check the ropes. The Graysons had never had an accident, in all the years they'd been flying.

They always checked the ropes.

It couldn't be an accident.




Desperately fighting the 'go to the bar' urge, he wanders the house aimlessly until he finds a big, stuffy bedroom that looks like it once belonged to a lady. A lady and a man, he realizes: a couple. Mr. Wayne isn't married so it can't be his.

He picks up a silver hairbrush and looks at the hairs still stuck in the bristles. They could be his mother's, although she never owned anything this fancy. He's still staring at it when Mr. Pennyworth comes in to usher him out. This isn't a place for little boys, Dick is told. It belonged to Mr. Wayne's parents.

They died, when he was a boy.

“So, we're both orphans.”



He slips out after dinner, taking advantage of Mr. Pennyworth's distraction in cleaning up, and heads out to the circus, still in Gotham but soon to head out. He intends at first to go there and say goodbye to everyone, to see King Richard the lion and the elephants and the tigers, but he can't bring himself to approach anyone from his former life. Not now, not when he knows he can't have that life back.

Instead he keeps out of sight, and scoots around to his parents' equipment, now packed up and ready to store. The trailer, he supposes, will be driven by a volunteer until someone new moves in. It hurts, but not too much; it's only a trailer.

But even when he unpacks and searches, he can't find the broken rope. Maybe the police took it away? Frustrated, he returns home.




A few hours later, Dick has left the manor to get some air, by crouching on the Manor's roof. That's where Batman finds him, and somehow manages to startle him.

“I keep thinking about what happened. My father always checked the lines. It couldn't be an accident.”

“It wasn't. The trapeze rope that snapped. It was made to look like it was worn out. But I found traces of an acid on the rope. And I've seen what that acid can do to people...”

“I want to help.”

“You will. When the time is right. I promise.”

“I remember seein' a guy talk to Mister Haly at the circus,” Dick says, quickly and urgently as the memory hits him. “He said something about how it's be a shame if anything happened to my...”

He can't complete the sentence.

“He was a big fat guy,” he adds weakly.

The cops haven't done anything, but that's expected because cops hate Dick's people. But maybe the Bat-Man can? It's worth a try, and he at least seems to want to help.

And Dick needs help right now. Help he's not getting from Mister Wayne of Pennyworth, no matter how they think otherwise.

Dick needs Batman.

May. 24th, 2013 06:35 pm
daringyoungman: ([Dick] gargoyle in training)
Dick has found himself wondering on a few occasions over the past week or so, if he would ever get used to it.

Or if it would ever stop hurting.

Smiles happen, but only in Milliways. Crying happens, but only in Milliways. But the longer he goes in Milliways without coming back, the longer it takes for him to find a door again. Every minute spent in the bar, with his friends, has to be spent in the dining hall, or the classroom, or the dorms, surrounded by nuns and stupid rube children who laugh at him for climbing on the furniture and scream at him when he climbs on the roof. People who don't understand him and want him to be someone they do understand.

He lives here now. He tries telling it to himself once, but it doesn't seem real. Can't seem possible.

He misses his Mom and Dad.



And then, one morning, a large black car pulls up outside the orphanage. From a window on the stairwell, Dick watches a tall, bald man step out of the driver's side and move around to open the back door. Out of that steps another tall man, but this one much broader in the shoulders, and with a full head of hair, wearing a fancy looking suit.

He watches them walk to the door and hears the doorbell, and then hears nothing until, twenty minutes late her hears his name being called from downstairs.

"Richard! Richard Grayson, where have you got to? Come here child. Clean your face, be quick! You're a very lucky boy, today."

(He doesn't feel lucky.)

He's shown into the front parlor, where the Mother Superior is sitting on a chair by a coffee table. The bald man is standing behind the couch, his back to the door, and he turns around when Dick comes in. The other man is sitting on the couch, in a way that seems to take up the whole seat, arm slung around the back. He watches Dick approach, and the grin on his face vanishes. Dick ends up standing self consciously in the middle of the floor, looking from one face to the other.

"Richard," the Mother Superior explains. "This is Bruce Wayne. The Bruce Wayne, you understand?"

The name means nothing to Dick, but he expects that he's not supposed to say that, so he nods.

"You're very lucky," she says, and shoots him a cold smile. "Mr. Wayne has decided that you're to go home with him."

"What?"

Dick looks at the nun, trying to find the joke, and at Mr. Wayne, who is still looking at him with an expression he can't work out, and at the bald man, who at least looks like he really cares about him.

Mister Wayne leans forward.

"I would like you to come and live with me. I would have come earlier, but I had to go through social services. Would that be okay? To live at Wayne Manor instead of here?"

Dick looks at him, and at the bald man, and at the Mother Superior, who nods at him while staring, as if to say 'you should be nodding, now.'

Dick looks back at Mister Wayne.

"Alright," he agrees.

It can't be worse than here.

May. 12th, 2013 10:50 am
daringyoungman: ([Dick] distant handstand)
Evening on Mothers Day, and Haly’s circus is set up and ready to open for Gotham City tomorrow. Dick’s done the flowers thing - he ran into town earlier for it - and now he’s just horsing around, jumping long the trailer roofs, walking bunting like a high wire, enjoying the heights in the evening.

There are people below him talking, but they don’t look up to notice him.

Well, ‘people.’ All Haly is really saying is ‘but’ in between every sentence churned out by the fat guy - Dick doesn’t recognize him.

“C’mon, Haly It’s not like I’m askin’ you to change the name to Zucco Circus. You got some nice trucks. I got a lot of nice trucks. You get to cross state lines every which way, ‘cause like I said, everybody loves the circus. Me, I got stuff that’s gotta get across state lines.”

They stop by the edge of the site, by the huge billboard just put in today. Neither look up to see Dick perch on the top.

“The Flyin’ Graysons. So that’s your star attraction, huh? Be a shame if somethin’ happened to them, y’know? I mean, with them being way up there, and the ground bein’ way down here.”

Dick doesn’t really understand a word. So he forgets about it.
daringyoungman: ([Dick] Haly's Circus)
 It's a quick stop between Metropolis and Gotham City. New York is what John Grayson calls a Red Pin town - big shows, and dangerous tricks, but it's smaller than Metropolis and is a warm up for the big shows in Gotham.

Dick waited until the punters were beginning to show up then grabbed a moment between rehearsals to run into the bar and collect his friends. So many people had said they hadn't been to a circus in too long, and that had to be fixed.

Also, he feels that if having access to a magic bar is going to do something, it might as well bring an audience to the circus.

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Dick Grayson

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