Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters (I may be smart--debatable--but I'm no genius). No infringement is intended and I am making no money off of this (although that doesn't sound half bad...). Seriously, though, I'm just borrowing these characters for a while. Thanks to Bob Kane and Bill Finger for inventing these characters so Bat-obsessed lunatics like me could play around with them some 65 years later. Wink. ;-)
WARNING: I can guarantee that there is going to be one major detail in this fic that's going to get you thinking 'what the--?!' If you want to know what's going on with that, review. If you ask nicely and remember your manners, I just might put a reviewer reply in the next chapter and explain where that's coming from. Thank you!
FEEDBACK AND CONSTRUCTIVE CRITISISM ARE VERY WELCOME
Once a Trapeze Artist, Always a Trapeze Artist
Dick sat quietly against the brick building that was his new school, watching the other kids play, like he had for the past week. He wished he could join them, and he probably would have since he wasn't totally shy, but a couple of the other kids had made it perfectly clear that they didn't want Dick around. He hadn't even had the nerve to say anything to or around them the whole week he had been there.
So I'm reduced from being friends with an entire circus troupe to being a nine-year-old nobody from the Big Top, Dick thought sadly, pushing the round, awkward-looking glasses higher up the bridge of his nose. Why had Zucco killed his parents, anyway? They hadn't done anything wrong! They'd never hurt anybody in their entire lives, by accident or on purpose!
At least they don't know I was in the circus—yet. If they did, I have the feeling they'd be teasing me about more than just wearing glasses and being short... but what's wrong with being short?! When you're an aerialist, it's BEST to be short! Trouble is, I'm not an aerialist anymore...
The bell rang. While the other kids groaned at the sound, Dick sighed in relief. He felt like such a misfit sitting against the wall while everybody else enjoyed themselves.
Dick picked up his backpack, slung it over his shoulder and followed everyone inside.
By the time Dick reached his classroom, most of the other kids were already there, shoving their textbooks carelessly into their desks and placing their homework on the corner of their desks. Dick sat down discreetly at his own seat and began doing the same. He was a fast learner, and knew pretty much all the rules, even though he had only been at this school for a week.
At that moment, three very tall boys with somewhat-scowling faces walked into the room. Dick shuddered a little. He had a bad feeling about them, especially the 'ring-leader' who had introduced himself as Billy that first day when the teacher had asked everyone to stand up and tell their newest classmate their names.
Ms. Whitman walked into the room. She was a medium-sized woman with graying hair who always wore a pair of glasses attached to a beaded string, making her look older than she really was. Most of the other kids thought the funny-looking spectacles didn't even have glass in them.
"Good morning, class," said the teacher.
"Good morning, Ms. Whitman," the class chorused...
The morning went smoothly enough, except that Billy had seen fit to tug on Nichelle Applegate's pigtail. He was now going to spend the recess period in detention, thanks to the fact that Grace Winslow had told Ms. Whitman exactly what had made Nichelle yelp. Of course, Billy's cronies had spent the rest of history class whispering 'tattle-tale' in Grace's ear. Dick had shot them some warning glances, but they had only silenced for about five seconds before taunting poor Grace again.
Maybe they'd take me more seriously if I did like I'd do during performances in the circus and wear contact lens, Dick thought after another unsuccessful attempt to stop the bigger boys from teasing Grace. Scrunching up his nose in disgust, he quickly added, Ugh, no way!
During recess, as Dick was heading for his usual spot by the wall, he saw Dylan and Peter—Billy's 'friends'—laughing at something. There were a few other kids there, too, and they were all laughing. Instantly suspicious, Dick went over and finally caught sight of what they thought so amusing.
It was Grace Winslow, and they were yelling at her and laughing. Dick thought that he had heard 'savage' or 'Indian girl' pass the lips of several students, but that was soon replaced by 'tattle-tale'. Dylan was even threatening her:
"...you get Billy—or us—into any more trouble and I'll rearrange your teeth...!"
A boy threatening to beat up a girl?! Was Dylan really that unorthodox?
Dick couldn't control himself any longer. He shoved his way to the middle and glared at everybody while Grace cowered behind in shock.
"Why don't you just leave her alone? She didn't do anything wrong!" Dick said. Those were the first words he had spoken to anybody since arriving.
The kids merely laughed.
"Well, well, well," taunted Dylan. "Four-Eyes can talk, after all."
"Why don't you go jump in the lake?" Dick suggested, only half joking. The others instantly stopped laughing, and everyone except Dylan and Peter backed up hurriedly. Nobody had ever told Dylan Anderson to 'jump in the lake'.
"He's in for it now!" a girl named Tina Kelley whispered anxiously. Dick ignored her. He instantly clenched his fists, ready to defend himself and Grace if he had to.
Peter and Dylan both looked as shocked as Tina.
Not long afterward, Dylan found his voice and said menacingly, "So, the shrimp wants to fight, does he? Well, we'll give him a fight..."
Both of Billy's cronies pounced. Dick saw them and instantly did a back handspring out of the way. Dylan and Peter collapsed on top of each other.
What do you know? Acrobatics comes in handy for more than just the trapeze after all!
The two boys got up quickly, both angrier than ever.
Alright, guys. Go ahead and pound me—if you can catch me!
"You're gonna regret that, small-fry," Peter growled.
"Hey, look!" Dylan suddenly laughed. "Shorty wears jewelry!"
Dick looked down. During his flip to safety, the chain with his parents' wedding rings that was usually tucked neatly under his shirt had been exposed. He turned a little red, although he was not ashamed of wearing the special necklace. After all, not only did it have his parents' rings on it, but it had also been a gift from Pop Haly, the circus owner.
"And look what's on it—wedding rings!" Peter crowed. He stood up and gave it a tug. The hooks that held the chain together fell apart and Peter took the chain.
"Hey! Give it back!" Dick yelled. He made a grab for the chain, but Peter stuck his arm out and prevented Dick from taking back what was rightfully his.
Before Dick could stop him, Peter began reading the inscriptions on the inside of the rings out loud so everyone could hear:
"For my Mary, the love of my life."
For John, who taught me to fly."
"Awwwww, I'm gettin' all misty-eyed," Dylan said, wiping away an imaginary tear. "Ain't the just so romantic...?"
Well, that did it! Dick could tolerate people teasing him, but nobody insulted his parents and got away with it! Dick lunged for Peter and tackled him to the ground. While Peter was still dazed, Dick took the chain back and quickly put it back around his neck. Peter noticed that Dick wasn't paying much attention to him and threw the smaller boy off his stomach. Dick landed hard on his back, but was up by the time Peter was ready to attack again. And when he lunged, Dick easily launched himself into the air and executed several somersaults over the larger boy's back, landing neatly on the other side. Once he was there, Dick decided to take advantage of the situation and kicked Peter's bottom. The kids who had stuck around to watch found themselves laughing, despite several warning glances from Peter. They knew that Dick was keeping him busy enough so that he wouldn't have time to punch out anybody else.
Unfortunately, while trying to avoid Peter, Dick had lost sight of Dylan, who had snuck up from behind and grabbed the much smaller Dick around the waist. He struggled valiantly, but Peter had already gotten in a few painfully good blows before he had freed himself.
"STOP! STOP THAT FIGHTING THIS INSTANT!"
Everybody froze and the crowd dispersed. Principal Emma McNeilson was storming towards them with an outraged look on her face. And Dick didn't blame her for being angry one bit.
"What's the meaning of this?" Principal McNeilson demanded. "Fighting in the school yard as if it were a boxing ring! Really! Who started this?"
Nobody answered, afraid to tell on Dylan and Peter.
"I want an answer, and I want it now," the Principal said in her 'no-nonsense' tone of voice.
Finally, Grace whispered, "I did."
Dick couldn't believe his ears. Grace didn't have anything to do with the fight! Well, except that she was the one being teased because she had told on Billy...
Principal McNeilson looked stunned. "You, Grace Winslow?"
Grace nodded, tears gathering in her hazel eyes. "Yes. It's my fault they were fighting."
Dick glanced at Peter and Dylan. They were smirking and snickering quietly among themselves.
"That's not exactly true, Miss McNeilson," Dick said quietly.
The two bullies stopped laughing. The principal looked as if she were about to have a heart attack. It couldn't be Dick Grayson actually talking, now could it? Up until this point, half the school was convinced he couldn't talk!
"Did you say something, Dick?" she asked.
Dick nodded, prodding at the glasses again. "It was Dylan and Peter who started the fight. Not Grace... and, I guess I had a little bit to do with it too..."
"No!" Grace fairly yelled. "You didn't have anything to do with it except that Dylan and Peter decided to beat you up in front of the whole fourth grade."
"Will someone please tell me the truth?" McNeilson asked in a tired voice.
"It was Dylan and Peter!" a few boys and girls cried, pointing accusatory fingers at them.
"Alright, then. Dick, Grace, you'd better come, too," said the Principal. She took Dylan and Peter by the collars and steered them towards her office. Dick and Grace followed silently.
And if THAT didn't get your attention, tell me what will! O.o Please don't flame too meanly--this is my first shot at drama and it took a lot of courage for me to post this crud!!