An Unending Promise

I dedicate this to all of my Running From Sin City readers. Have patience guys! The update's coming soon!

Eight-year-old Richard Grayson stood beside the large truck that contained many props and costumes belonging to Halley's Circus. He shivered, not from the cold winds of Gotham City, but from excitement and anticipation. Tonight was opening night here in Gotham and Richard, along with his family were performing the finale, a trapeze act.

Richard rocked back and forth on his sneakered feet. He was filled with adrenaline and had absolutely nothing to do. Usually Richard would be assisting the animal tamers at this point, but the plane which was carrying the lions, elephants and tigers had not yet arrived. Out of the corner of his eye, Richard spotted a girl who looked to be about his age if not younger. The girl had flaming red hair and was wearing a turquoise leotard with green tights.

Frowning slightly, he ran over to his parents who were unloading a costume case and tugged on his mother's sleeve. Mary Grayson looked down at her little boy.

"Yes, Richard?" She asked, tucking a piece of blonde hair behind her ear.

He pointed at the girl. "Mommy, who is she?" He asked. "Is she a new performer?"

Mary followed his finger, her blue eyes resting on the girl. She smiled. "That little girl I believe is a gymnast. Her family owns and performs in this arena."

Richard's eyes widened in comprehension. "Ohhh." Then, "is that the reason why Mr. Halley asked to not have the tents unpacked?"

"Exactly," Mary confirmed with a nod. "Why don't you see what the girl and her family do when they perform?" Without even saying good-bye, Richard bounded in through the glass doors the little red-headed girl had disappeared through.

Richard stepped onto the performing area of the expansive arena. He quickly found the red-headed girl standing by an unusual looking set of bars. What was so strange about the bars was that one set was higher than the other. Just what was the girl trying to do?

Richard got his answer. The girl took a few steps back, ran forward, leaped onto a small trampoline, sprung herself into the air and caught onto the smaller bar. She stretched her body into a one-armed handstand using her free arm for balance. The girl then swung down and repeated the position with her other hand. Pushing herself further this time, the girl made her legs go higher into the air and balanced her weight with using just three fingers. When it seemed that she could go no farther, the girl used both hands to swing herself a few times

before making her whole body go once over the bar then flipped onto the higher bar. There she did a few more swings and tricks before going back to the lower bar. The routine went on like this for a few minutes.

"Her movements are so fluid." Richard thought in awe.

Then the red-headed girl did something Richard hadn't thought possible. She did a somersault above the high bar before catching it then swung herself around a few times. Finally she landed doing a backwards flip.

"That was awesome!!!" The girl whirled around. Richard's eyes widened. "Please tell me thatwas somebody else," he thought desperately.

But the girl wasn't mad. Instead she had a brilliant smile on her face as she ran over to him. "Was that okay?" She asked.

"Was that okay?" Richard asked incredulously. "That was more than okay that was so cool!"

The girl's smile grew. Then she spotted the Halley's Circus logo on Richard's jacket. "Ooh!" She said excitedly. "You're one of the performers tonight, aren't you?"

Richard grinned proudly. "Yeah, my parent's and I do the trapeze act." He took in the girl's amazed expression. "My name's Richard Grayson by the way, what's yours?"

The girl looked at him and Richard noticed her green eyes for the first time. "My name is Kori Anders. It's so cool that you do the trapeze."

"You probably could do it too," Richard pointed out. Kori frowned and shook her head.

"I'm afraid of heights."

Richard looked at Kori dumbfounded. "B-but y-you must have been at least twenty feet in the air!" Richard spluttered. "What were those things you were practicing on?"

Kori smiled turning toward the bars. "They are called uneven parallel bars. There's an event in the Summer Olympics using those bars. It's my dream to go to the Olympics and bring home a gold medal." She turned back to Richard and said, "But you must be at least thirty to forty feet in the air when you perform and the trapeze isn't stable."

Richard smirked allowing a bit of smugness to appear on his features. "Only thirty-five feet, but we have no net."

Kori returned the smirk. "I told you your act is much better than mine."

"Yeah, but I can't take a gold medal home with it."

Kori was about to reply when she noticed a blonde woman step into the performing area. She appeared to be looking for something. Kori nudged Richard. "Do you know who that lady is?"

Richard turned around. "That's my mom." He answered before shouting. "Mom! I'm over here!"

Mrs. Grayson went over to the two. "There you are Richard." She noticed Kori. "I see you've made a new friend."

"Mom, this is Kori," Richard gestured toward the gymnast. "Kori, this is my mom."

Kori stepped forward and held out her right hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Grayson."

Mary shook Kori's hand, a warm smile upon her face. "It's a pleasure to meet you as well."

"Mom," Richard began. "Kori does the uneven parallel bars and wants to go to the Olympics."

Mary gave a nod. "I believe that's a possible dream." She then turned to her son. "Richard, sweetie, we must get back to Dad and begin warming up." Richard made a whining sound indicating that he didn't particularly want to leave his newfound friend.

Kori smiled. "I have to help take down my equipment anyway." She began to walk away. "It was nice talking to you Richard! It was also nice meeting you Mrs. Grayson!"

As she neared the uneven parallel bars Richard shouted, "Kori!" She turned around. "Will I see you tonight?"

"Of course!" Kori called back.

Richard's heart drummed against his ribcage. He stood tall on the platform, watching his mother flip off her trapeze catching her husband's outstretched hands with ease. He could hear the oohs and ahhs of the crowd as they became dazzled by his parents' death-defying act. After a few more tricks performed by the couple, a third bar swung toward Richard. He caught it, ready to fly.

Richard had always found the trapeze to be a most exhilarating experience. It was if he could leave reality, along with boring responsibilities behind. Richard grabbed his mother's hands and together they soared onto her trapeze. From there, Richard separated, doing a somersault on the way back to his own trapeze.

With the thunderous applause still ringing in his ears, Richard searched the crowd for Kori.

"Richard, Richard!" A girl's voice cried.

Richard spun around to see Kori racing toward him. In tow was a group of people Richard believed to be her family.

"That was amazing!" Kori gushed. "It was truly wonderful!" Richard felt his cheeks beginning to heat up as he grinned.

"Thanks." Then he asked, "Is this your family?"

Kori gasped. "Oh how terribly rude of me! Yes, Richard, this is my mother…" She gestured toward a woman with hair as brilliant as Kori's and with deep blue eyes. Richard shyly said hello. "This is my father." A muscular man with wavy black hair and green eyes smiled at the young trapeze artist. "My sister Koma," a teenage girl with jet black hair and simpering indigo eyes nodded at him. "And my little brother Ryan." A boy about the age of three who had red hair and turquoise eyes hid his face in the crook of his mother's neck.

"I-it's nice to meet you all," Richard said. Inwardly he frowned. Why was he so nervous? It wasn't as if he was marrying Kori and needed her parents' permission! And besides, he still thought that mushy things such as marriage and kissing were just plain gross!

The voice of Mary Grayson interrupted his thoughts. "Richard!" She called. "You need to say good night Sweetie. It's nearing eleven o'clock!" In the background, he could hear his father ranting to Mr. Halley about how it was unacceptable for him to allow performances to run so late, especially when children were a part of the show, not to mention the audience.

"Bye Kori," Richard said. "Will I see you again?"

Kori giggled. "I practically live here!"

Richard smiled and walked away with his parents.

"…and the baby elephant sprayed Mr. Jones with his bath water!" Richard laughed. He looked over at Kori who was absentmindedly licking her strawberry and orange snow cone.

"Kori?" She looked at him. "Are you okay?"

Kori sighed. "My family and I are leaving for a few months."

"What?!" Richard cried. "When, where and why?!"

"We leave this coming Monday." Kori answered. "We're going to Jump City because my aunt just had a baby so we're going to help the new family get adjusted."

"But you're only eight! And Ryan's what, three?" Richard protested. "What could you possibly do?"

Kori shrugged. "Mama didn't want to leave us with a babysitter and our grandparents passed away a little bit after Ryan was born."

"You could stay with me!" Richard exclaimed. "I've always wanted siblings!"

Kori gave a small smile and shook her head. "Mama will say no because I haven't known you for a long time."


"Rich-ard…" Kori rolled her eyes.

"Okay, okay," Richard relented. "You win. But I'm going to miss you."

Kori just smiled and pretended to dump flavored ice shavings onto his black locks.

Richard was about to object when he heard a familiar shout. Peering around the corner he saw Mr. Halley arguing with a strange man. From the pieces he could hear, it sounded as if they were arguing about money and insurance. Grown-up stuff.

"Richard, let's go," Kori whispered from his side. "We shouldn't be eavesdropping."

Richard nodded and pulled her away from the argument figuring it was nothing they would understand anyway.

Sunday night:

'My turn's coming up,' Richard thought as he scrambled up a large pole's rungs. Once his feet hit the platform, Richard's sapphire eyes scanned the sea of faces trying to find Kori. He couldn't believe that the week had flown by and that he'd have to say good-bye. Richard did know that eventually he would have had to say farewell because the circus was only in Gotham for a month, however, Kori's impending departure would make his time in the city much lonelier.

Richard found Kori amongst the masses, seated in the middle. Kori's large emerald eyes were sparkling and a small smile graced her features. She gave an excited wave.

He grinned and waved back. Kory looked as if she wanted to say something, when the sickening sound of metal snapping tore Richard's attention away. He watched in sheer terror as his parents began to fall to the ground.

Time seemed to stop. It appeared to everyone in the arena that Mary and John Grayson were falling angels. A scream could be heard and Richard wasn't sure if the sound came from him, Kori, or both.

Richard darted down the ladder and over to his parents who lay motionless. Blood was pounding in his ears as his eyes began to water. He fell to his knees and began shaking his father's shoulder in spite of the fact he knew his actions would be futile. Police, paramedics, Mr. Halley and the clowns surrounded Richard. But he didn't want them, or their attempted comfort. There was only one person who could assuage his pain and she was lost amongst the crowd.

Kori broke through the ring of people and knelt in front of Richard. Tears ran unchecked down her cheeks. "Oh Richard!" She sobbed. She flung her arms around him.

"Kori," Richard began in a choked voice returning the embrace. "Please tell me this is some kind of evil prank. Tell me, Kori! Please!"

This caused Kori to cry harder. "I'm so sorry Richard! But I can't!" Richard buried his face in her hair and let the tears come loose. Kori began to rock him, but she remained silent doubting that anything she said would bring comfort.

For ten minutes the two children remained unnoticed. Then a finger tapped Richard on the shoulder. He raised his now red eyes to meet the gaze of kind-looking middle aged policeman. "Richard?" The police officer asked. Richard nodded. "My name is Commissioner Gordon. I need for you to come with me to the station."

"What about Kori?"

"I'm sorry son," Commissioner Gordon said regretfully. "She needs to return to her own family." Richard clung to Kori.

"No!" He cried. "I need her!"

Commissioner Gordon tried to be helpful. "I have a daughter a little older than you who—"

"No!!" Richard screamed. "I want Kori!!"

"Richard, please," Kori began in what she hoped to be a soothing voice even though it was cracking. "Go with the policeman. We may be separated for now, but we will find each other."

Richard took in a deep, shaky breath, holding his best friend once more. "Do you promise?" He asked.

Kori pulled away and reached into her pocket. She removed a tiny silver star hanging on black cord. Kori placed the necklace around Richard's neck. "Keep this to remember me. Promise me you'll never forget. You promise, yes?"

"I promise," Richard said determination in his eyes. "I'll never forget you. I will find you. I promise. Kori smiled and kissed his cheek. Then slowly, she got up and joined her parents.

Once Kori reached her family, Richard took Commissioner Gordon's outstretched hand and walked over to the waiting police cruiser. With his free hand, he grasped the star Kori had given him. Throughout the entire ride to the police station, his hand never left the star.

Six years later

Richard stood in front of his bedroom mirror straightening his tie. Today was the sixth anniversary of his parents' death and he was going to pay his respects at the cemetery. Shortly after their funeral, Richard had been adopted by Gotham's wealthiest man, Bruce Wayne. Not only had he been assimilated into the life of being prosperous, but also into the life of protecting the innocent. However, now is not the time to go into great detail about the second aspect of Richard's new life.

Richard turned to leave his room, but paused when his eyes fell on a small picture frame. Depicted on the photograph was him and Kori, the latter having pounced the former and wore a huge smile and had a fist pumped into the air as her sign of victory for the sneak attack. It was the only picture taken during the week the two had become so close, snapped by Koma.

Richard reached for the necklace casually draped over the frame and placed it around his neck. His hand closed over the tiny silver charm. He looked deeply into Kori's photographed jade eyes which were smiling up at him.

I will find you Kori. I promise.

Soooo…. What did anybody think of this? It honestly came out of nowhere, but I liked it so much that I decided to put it up.

A few things to mention:

I know that Barbara is the gymnast, but since Kori's not Starfire, I wanted to make her fly somehow.

Yeah, I usually spell Starfire's Tamaranian name the other way, but I wanted a change of pace.

This is going to remain a one-shot unless you guys would like to see Richard and Kori reunited. And if anyone has a suggestion as to how I might go about doing that, please feel free to put it in their review.

Read and review please!