Warning: WARNING! WARNING! This isn't a fiction that is going to be totally clean. I don't intend to write anything into detail (anything bad), but it will be obvious what happens. Please don't read if you don't think you can, please.
Author's Note: Yeah, I shouldn't be starting a new fanfiction – you can all shot me for my bad habit of biting off more than I can chew. I do plan to finish the ones I have out, believe it or not! I've just been getting a strong urge to write this one. I apologize for my bad behavior. My fictions have been harboring on boring and repetitive lately, and this is something fresh, and somewhat pre-thought out. I need that.
"And I'm as brave as you. And I'm as afraid as you. And I'm as brave as you. And I'm as afraid as you are too."
Carbon Leaf Lonesome Pine
By: The BatThing
Chapter One: Mr. Henry Ganthers
"No." Dick sobbed, standing atop his bed, trembling, seemingly without end. His fists were clenched tightly together, but he didn't notice – a reflex. All he could do was stand there and be seen, and he wanted to. He wanted Bruce to know, to admit it. "I'm not going to talk to anyone! I have an idea! Why don't you talk to her! You can tell her how much you hate me! A-and how you wish I was like everyone else! You can tell her that I cry l-like a baby."
Bruce simply stared, gapping in utter shock at the results of just a simple request. Deep down he felt he should have been prepared for something like this – but he wasn't. He wasn't ready to see something like this. It scared him.
"You can tell her I'm dumb! That my teacher wanted me, because I'm dumb enough to not see through their intentions! I go with them, and I let them touch me! I hardly pu-put up a fight. And if I do, you can jus-just hit me and make me stop. STOP IT!"
The billionaire didn't realize he was moving, but he found himself before the boy, looking up at him and simply listening to what was being said. There was nothing more he could do, as worthless as he was, than just listen. "Dick."
"You can tell h-h-her that you're ashamed! That I'm DIRTY! That he did things TO ME! I didn't want him to though." A sob as his head dropped down to his chest. "I didn't want him to!"
Two Months Earlier:
Dick Grayson let out a shrill laugh, fumbling across the gym floor of his school. Even if it had been an awkward catch, he had gotten the ball – and that meant his team won. Sporting a confident smile, Dick couldn't help but feel a bit on the proud side. He was the reason his team won. He was always the reason. After all, when you're trained by the Batman, you tend to be good at this sort of thing. Dropping the ball Dick accepted the high fives a few classmates offered, he gave a stunning smile to the girls, and maybe flashed a little one at the losing side.
After all, it wasn't there fault he hadn't been on their team.
"Great one, Dick!" A blonde girl gasped, clenching her hands together and swaying a bit. It was an eleven-year-old crush, and she wasn't sure what to do about it other then make sure to complement her classmate at every moment possible. "You're the best!"
"Anyone coulda' done it!" Dick brushed past as the whistle blew, and followed the mass of boys to the locker room, laughing about nothing, just happy in general. Life was good, they had won the dodge ball game – and when you're eleven, not much else matters.
"I wish we could just stay in gym all day." Greg Ruthan whined as he pulled off his shoes and tossed them in the small gym locker. He gave Dick a look that harbored on serious. "We've got math next – and I didn't do the homework."
The eleven-year-old knew where this was going, and he didn't let it bother him. Still in good spirits from his win, he shrugged his shoulders. "You can copy mine. Just don't get caught – ok?"
A rare treat to copy Dick Grayson's homework, Greg nodded with great vigor, smiling all the more. "You were awesome at the game, like usual."
"Nah, it wasn't anything big."
"I guess when you're from a circus, well, then you're naturally good at that sort of stuff, huh? I wish my parents were acrobats. Then I'd win all the games."
Haden Johnson, pulling his shirt over his head, scoffed at the wish spoken aloud. Never one to think before speaking, he said what was on his mind. "Even if your parents were acrobats, you'd still suck. You can't do anything right."
"He's good at eating!" Another boy called out, causing a few boys to laugh.
"At least I'm good at something." Greg answered, smiling despite the fact. He looked at Dick and nodded, as if in secret. "I'll get the homework before class, and copy it while he answers questions. I'll be fast, and don't worry, he won't catch me."
"Did you guys get the answers?" Haden questioned, turning around and looking at the other two boys. He took in a deep breath and glanced around the room. "Mr. Ganthers has a pop quiz today. Darcy went in early for a help session, and Mr. Ganthers left for a few minutes. While he was gone, Darc saw the answers on his desk and stuff. He copied them down and everything! … I have them."
Dick groaned – why was it that Mr. Ganthers always gave pop quizzes over the hardest section? It was impossible to get a good grade in that class! A definite downside to going to a private school was the fact that it seemed twice as hard as a normal one at times. The eleven year old bowed his head, knowing perfectly well that he had trouble enough with the homework – there was no way he'd do well on any quiz today. "Mr. Ganthers' so mean."
Moving towards Haden, Greg put a hand to his mouth, whispering. "Will you give us the answers? His quizzes are multiple choice! We could memorize them real quick! Please, Haden – please?!"
At this, Dick lifted his head, realizing that he might have a way out of a poor score. He had never been huge on cheating, but when it came to Mr. Ganthers' class, it was almost a necessity. He turned his blue eyes on Haden, waiting to see what the answer would be. To Dick's surprise, the boy was staring at him with a smirk.
"I'll give them to you, only if you're on my team next time, ok Dick?"
"A, E, C, G, A, A, D, C, A, F, A, C, G, E, B, B, B, B, F." Dick quoted under his breath, reading off the letters on a small, torn of edge of paper. He took in a deep breath and closed his eyes, tuning out Mr. Ganthers, and trying his best to memorize the order before the quiz was distributed. It was question time, and that meant that he'd have at least ten minutes to memorize the order. It wasn't that hard.
Beside him, Greg was furiously copying down his homework as clandestinely as possible. His arm covered half of the sheet, blocking it from anyone's view. Though, it was as obvious as day that he was working on something. Mr. Ganthers seemed to notice himself, and occasionally glanced in the boy's direction. "Mr. Ruthan, if you didn't finish your homework at home, then don't finish it here. You had ample time to work on it. I gave you a whole day."
Dick's head shot up in worry, wondering if the teacher would come over to Greg's desk. Please, oh please, oh please. He glanced over at his overweight friend, expecting to see Greg attempting to hide the evidence.
"Yes, sir." Greg said, offering a small, shy smile and putting his pencil down. He waited until the teacher returned to answering a question to look at Dick. Giving an exasperated look he sighed, and turned his attention back up front, showing that he was no longer working on the homework.
"Alright, turn in your assignments, complete or not, and put away everything but your pencil. Today we have a pop quiz." A small, scattered groan went through the room – smaller than usual, a sign that more than just Dick, Darcy, Haden, and Greg had gotten the answers.
Greg passed his and Dick's paper up towards the front of the class, sparing obviously handing Dick back the homework. Once done, he frowned at his friend and began to whisper. "I didn't get half of it done!"
"Half is better than nothing, right?"
The boy shrugged.
"Didja' at least learn the answers?" Haden leaned forward, sitting behind Dick, and peered at Greg. "That should make up for something."
"I think I did."
"ENOUGH talking, Mr. Grayson, Mr. Ruthan, and Mr. Johnson." And the teacher began to pass out the quizzes, eyeing the three carefully. It was clear he didn't enjoy his job, and it was clear he didn't have a way with children – but for some reason he worked at the school – probably because it was one of the better paying positions he could get with his degree. "No cheating, or your tests gets thrown away and you will receive a zero and a one-way ticket to the office. Is that understood?"
A mummer went up.
"Good, you may begin."
Dick stared down at the problems on the paper and gave a groan. There was no way he'd be able to get an A on this without cheating, he just knew it. Putting his good intentions aside, he scribbled down the code of letters on the side of his paper in light penciling. There. Now he could try the problem and then put the right answer – that way he wouldn't be completely and totally cheating. That way he wouldn't feel too bad.
As the quiz wore on the boy began to realize just how much he didn't know. The first problem he had thought he had at least gotten right, but he hadn't. The rest were the same – and he didn't get any single answer to match up. Admitting defeat, he filled in the circles in the order he had been told and snorted, erasing the original list he had made to start out with. Well, he'd have to study this over tonight. After all, it wasn't like he'd get the answers handed to him on a silver platter every time.
Even though it was nice.
When Dick got home that afternoon, studying was put aside, homework was put aside – everything was put on hold as he raced outside to have time for himself. Bruce would be home around six or so, meaning that Dick would have only an hour before he had to go back in to finish school work and work in a little bit of time training.
Oh well, an hour was better than nothing.
He spent his hour wisely, lulling about for a few minutes at the old playground he had found a few years back in Wayne Manor's small clutter of woods. It consisted of only a swing set, a slide, and a jungle gym – and it was rusted with time, but that didn't stop Dick from finding enjoyment there. It wasn't that he could do anything special, but it was his secret place. For all he knew, Bruce and Alfred didn't know of it, and by the looks of it, nobody ever came out there. He ate the apple the old butler had provided him atop the monkey bars and thought about his day.
He thought about the dodge ball game, and how Haden had wanted him to be on his team next time. Everyone wanted Dick to be on their team. It was a good feeling, and perhaps the boy was a bit full of himself, but he couldn't help it. He enjoyed everyone thinking he was something special. Complements were more than nice to receive, especially considering Bruce wasn't very quick to hand them out himself, not without Dick fishing for them.
Well, he'd win the next game. Dick didn't think on the possibility of not winning it. That wasn't a possibility.
Scaling down the bars, Dick landed on his feet with a huff. And then, presenting his best smile, he raced off, hoping to find something interesting in the many acres of the Wayne Estate. There was always something to uncover.
The young, raven-haired gypsy spent a bit more then his allotted hour, but soon enough worked up the self discipline to force himself back towards the house. He knew that his homework was all but waiting, as was Alfred. And the last thing he wanted was to get scolded. Making his way up the hill, out of the woods and towards the house, Dick saw Bruce's car pulling down the lane. He offered a confused look and quickened his pace, curious as to the reason for his guardian's early arrival. Coming towards the garage a few moments later, Dick found Bruce walking up towards the house.
"You're home early, d'ja get bored of work or something?"
The wealthy bachelor spared a glance and gave a fake and almost sarcastic smile. "Or something – interesting I run into you out here."
"How's that interesting? I live here, don't I?" Dick fell into step with Bruce, as they ascended the stairs towards the huge house.
Bruce ignored his words, and switched his briefcase into his other hand, looking up towards the building. "Alfred called me, said a teacher of yours isn't very pleased with you concerning a series of bad judgment today, and possibly before today."
There wasn't any way Mr. Ganther's could have found out about Dick cheating! The boy felt his stomach flip flop as he ran through any mistakes he might have made to give himself away. He had erased the answers – he had torn up the paper Haden had given him – that meant someone had to have ratted him out! That was the only way. "Wh-what teacher?"
"Take a guess, Dick. I think you might have an idea."
Dick knew better than to fall into any traps. He kept his mouth shut, not willing to give himself away.
"Fine, seeing as you've gone mute, I'll tell you. Your math, teacher, Mr. Ganthers – ring any bells?" The two had come to the front door, but neither entered. They stood, facing each other.
Once more, Dick opted silence as the best route.
"Well, I dunno." He lied.
"You let a classmate copy your homework and you cheated on a quiz. How does that help to jog your memory?"
Swaying casually, Dick lifted his shoulders. He was a bit stunned that he had been caught in the wrong. How did Mr. Ganther's find him out?! That's what he'd like to know. Still a bit uncertain, Dick kept his gaze away from Bruce's. "I don't know."
Now it was Bruce's turn to be silent, but not in the same way. His silence was on the verge of trouble – meaning Dick had better start talking soon.
"I was only trying to help Greg out s'all. He didn't get the homework done. I just wanted to help him." The eleven-year-old lifted his head and offered an innocent look. "He didn't even copy it all, just half."
"I didn't realize you liked taking the easy way out of your troubles. I was under the impression that you worked hard." Bruce still wasn't moving, even if it sounded like he was making a final statement. It was simply a question.
"I do work hard! I … Mr. Ganthers give really hard quizzes, Bruce. He's a really bad teacher, he hates his job, he hates us – it's not fair that he can be so hard. I do all the homework and I ask questions, but I still get only a B! That's not fair."
"Oh, but cheating to get a grade you didn't earn – that's fair?"
Bruce sighed, running a hand across his face and turning to look down the lane. The sky was grey, it's usual color. Spring was right around the corner – and it was pleasant to know warm weather was coming, but the grey sky did little to support the theory. "Alfred says Mr. Ganthers gives help sessions half an hour before school starts, and then he has an after school session for an hour. I don't remember you ever going to one of those."
"…" Dick would rather die then go to more school with Mr. Ganthers. The man seemed so ill tempered, so bitter all the time so … sad. He looked at his guardian with a pained expression, but knew better then to voice his opinion on the matter.
"I bet your wondering how you got caught, aren't you?"
"Umm." YES. Slowly zipping and unzipping his jacket, Dick shrugged casually, not wanting to seem over eager.
"You and your friends got the wrong answers for the quiz. Whoever told you those were right - lied to you. So, when your teacher saw that four of five of you put down the same wrong answers, he figured it out. They were the answers to his other classes quiz. Then, after seeing you had cheated on your quiz, he went through all five of your homeworks, and saw that you and another boy had the same answers and work." Bruce pushed open the doors and started to go inside. He paused and gave his head a simple shake. "I can't say I'm pleased with this, Dick – I know you can do better. And I know you don't have to cheat to get good grades."
"I'd like you to start going to the before and after-school help sessions, seeing as you admit that the class is a bit on the tough side. I know you're a bright kid, I know you can conquer this one without cheating."
Dick nodded ever so slightly, not really agreeing, and nowhere near happy with the result, but dealing with it all the same. "Ok."
"I've asked Mr. Ganthes and your other teachers to keep an eye on you, and your assignments. I like to think that this was a one time thing, but we can't be sure, can we? I just hope you can prove that you are a hard worker, and not a slacker."
Slacker. The boy felt his face turn a bit red at the accusation, but bit his tongue. "Yes."
To Be Continued …