Hello all! Finally decided to post this here, after holding off for a week or so (stupid nerves!). This fic was written for the Young Justice anonymous fic meme (I suppose this is me 'de-anoning' myself). The prompt was that "Robin is actually a girl, but dresses and acts like a boy because of what happens to little girls in Gotham." Batman and Alfred of course know this, but the rest of the Young Justice team don't.
Yeesh, Young Justice is becoming my new cartoon obsession.
Disclaimer: I don't own Young Justice, don't sue me.
Her fuzzy Tigger slippers shuffled along the stone ground as her wide blue eyes peered all around her at the cave walls. She was a little worried that she might get in trouble for going inside Mr. Wayne's clock, but when she had stumbled along the passageway, well, it was just too much like Narnia for her to pass up. There wasn't a lot of light to see things by, but that just added to the adventure.
She nibbled on the cookie Mr. Alfred had given her earlier, but froze when she heard a very quiet noise from the left of her. Turning towards the noise, her blue eyes grew even wider as a living shadow stepped free from all the rest, towering over her like some kind of demon in black.
Of course she was scared, but she remembered back to how scary some of the people working at the circus had seemed before she had gotten to know them and found out that they were actually nice, and she also remembered Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street and how he really wasn't all that bad either, just kinda grumpy.
And since she couldn't get her legs to move to run away, she did the next best thing.
Holding up her half-eaten cookie, she asked, "Want some of my cookie?"
After all, who didn't like cookies?
She was twelve when she told Wally her first name. It had been a little over a year ago when she and Batman had teamed up with Flash and Kid Flash for one particular assignment, that having been her first meeting with the speedster team. Since then, she'd had a couple other missions alongside the young hero, and had even hung out with him a couple times during some down-time. It hadn't taken very long at all before Wally told her his name. She didn't reciprocate the gesture though.
"Aw, come on, dude," Wally whined. "You already know my name. You gotta give me something."
She sighed, adjusting her sunglasses before leaning back in her chair. They were seated at the food court of one of Gotham's many malls, dining on greasy fast food that she was sure Alfred wouldn't approve of.
"No way, man," she said, lips pulled down into a frown. This wouldn't be the first time they'd had this discussion. "The Boss has strict rules about that sort of thing."
She avoided saying 'Batman' in such a public place.
"Well, he doesn't need to know then, now does he?" Wally said, yet as he spoke, he glanced around as if he expected Batman to emerge from one of the nearby potted plants or something, which kind of made her feel a little paranoid of that possibility too.
At the very least, Bats could have someone watching them. In fact, now that she thought about it, that was a very likely possibility. She subtly glanced around them, but couldn't pick up any signs of someone spying on them.
"And anyway," Wally said, continuing. "We're friends, aren't we? Can't you share this one thing with your bud?"
Pulling the friend card. That was a low blow.
She cast her gaze skyward, as if asking for patience. She shouldn't. She really shouldn't.
"Alright," she said. She paused too look around them once more, but could still see no sign of Bruce or even Alfred. Feeling a little more confident, a little more determined, she pushed forward, "Just don't laugh."
"Yeah, yeah, sure," Wally said with a dismissive wave of his hand. He leaned forward eagerly as she opened her mouth again.
"Richard," she finally said. "My name is Richard."
And it really was Richard. Richard Anne Grayson. 'Richard' because her parents had been free-spirited people and thought it to be a creative name for a girl. When she remembered the sound of their voices saying her name with the utmost fondness – Richard, Ricki, even Dixie – she could never hate the name they had given her.
Wally stared at her for a brief moment before a snort of laugher escaped him. Giving the boy her own version of the Bat Glare – an effect which was kind of ruined by her wearing sunglasses – she grabbed a handful of French fries and chucked them at his head.
"Sorry, I'm sorry," Wally said in between chuckles. "But dude, your name is Dick."
Wally snickered again and she rolled her eyes.
And she was the younger one between the two of them.
For the rest of the day away from their mentors, Wally continued to tease her about her name, or rather, her nickname, and it wasn't even one she'd ever gone by for obvious reasons. One head-lock later on though, and she'd managed to convince him to call her Ricki instead, though in Wally's mind, it was Ricky with a 'y'.
Ricki had never really been into a lot of 'girly stuff' as a child. She never tried on her mother's makeup, and even when she got her face painted up at the face-painting station at the circus, it had never been with flowers or butterflies, but rather the scales of a dragon, or a superhero's mask. Though she sometimes wore dresses to appease her mom, she'd much rather be wearing shorts or pants and a t-shirt.
She also kept her hair cut short because she liked it that way and it made the whole unpleasant bath experience a whole lot quicker. There had been plenty of times when people who visited the circus mistook her for a boy, but she'd never really had any problems with that because neither gender held any clear definition in her mind.
What did it matter to her if people thought she was a boy or if people thought she was a girl? After all, she grew up in a circus where there were guys who dressed in drag and a woman with a long, thick beard.
And then later on, moving in with Bruce when she had no family left to go to, that opinion of gender sorta stayed with her, and she'd been far too upset over her parents death to even care in the slightest when the press mistook her for a boy and had it printed in all of the newspapers before Bruce could correct them about the fact that he had 'adopted a son as an heir.'
A simple mistake became a temporary lie to protect her from whoever was responsible for her parents death, and then it turned into a permanent lie to protect her when the whole Robin thing came about – it was a compromise between her and Bruce because she was stubborn and insistent and determined to help Batman fight the good fight. She did a lot of good and helped Bruce and a lot of other people as Robin the Boy Wonder, so it didn't really matter to her that so many people saw her as a boy.
As she grew older though... Well, all that she was saying was that some of those dresses didn't look all that bad...
She'd been ecstatic to be a part of the Justice League's new group of young heroes, especially since she hadn't been sure if Bruce would even let her join in the first place. In his own gruff way that people usually couldn't detect, Bruce could be pretty protective of her, and it didn't take a genius to see that the man wasn't too fond of the idea of her being teamed up with three older boys. It wasn't like she'd never worked with Wally or Kaldur in the past, but all of those times, she'd been under Batman or one of the older League member's supervision.
Plus, Superboy was a complete unknown.
Batman made it work though, there was no surprise there, and with M'gann added to their group, Ricki would no long be the only girl among a bunch of boys, even though none of her teammates were aware of this.
Over a month in and everything had been going great, but when that second month rolled around, things took a sudden downward turn when she woke up one morning and discovered that she had taken her first real step into the so-called joys of womanhood in the form of a monthly visitor who she, quite frankly, didn't want visiting. It wasn't like she didn't know it was going to happen, but knowing that it's eventually going to happen didn't make the entire experience any less unpleasant once it actually did happen.
And so here she was now, sitting on a park bench in the town closest to Mount Justice, the motorbike she had ridden into town parked just a couple feet away from her. It had been easy enough sneaking out of Base without any of her teammates noticing, and it had been even easier hacking into the computers of the local women's clinic and setting up an appointment for herself. It had kind of been like a normal undercover mission, one that she could focus her mind on. Now that her doctor's appointment was all said and done though...
There was an uncomfortable feeling deep in the pit of her stomach, and she wasn't talking about cramps. She fidgeted on the bench, reaching up to lightly prod at the small bruise that was already forming on her upper arm at the injection point.
She remembered the brief look the nurse had given her, she remembered the whisper she had caught being exchanged between two receptionists.
"-isn't she a little young-"
The uncomfortable feeling grew, turning into a feeling of wrongness. She was thirteen and she had just started her period for the first time. She was only thirteen and she had just gotten her first birth control shot.
Ricki suddenly felt angry remembering some of the reactions she had gotten out of some of the people at the doctor's office; those disapproving looks because they thought she was getting the shot so that she could have sex. That wasn't why she had gotten the shot at all though. She'd gotten the shot to stay safe because she frequently deals with dangerous criminals and who knows what might happen, and she had also gotten the shot because along with preventing her from getting pregnant, the chemicals in the shot would completely stop her from getting her period again.
One of the joys that the new and improved types of birth control offered in this day and age, along with not having all sorts of harmful side effects from staying on it for a long time. It wasn't like this was a sudden decision of hers. She'd done the research and she'd had this plan in mind for a while now. After all, mother-nature's visitor of the month was not something Robin should have to worry about, neither was pregnancy.
Despite being able to think logically and reasonably about all of this though, she still couldn't completely make that feeling of wrongness go away, nor could she help but feel sad over the fact that she was thirteen years old and she had already seen enough horrors in Gotham to know that she wanted to be protected against an unwanted pregnancy.
She could feel the faint prickle of the beginning of tears in her eyes and she blinked rapidly to keep them away.
And then the very last thing she expected at this point happened.
A rather fancy looking car pulled up in front of her and Bruce stepped out of the driver's side door.
"Um... hi," she said rather lamely as she stared up at the man who stood before her with a curious look on his face. "What are you doing here?"
If he had needed her back at Mount Justice for League business, he would have contacted her as Batman.
"A doctor's appointment at a women's clinic for one Riley Pennyworth came up on my computers," Bruce said, his thumbs hooked into his pants pockets.
Riley Pennyworth. Her alias as Alfred's niece for whenever she actually needed to do something as a girl. Figures that Mr. Paranoia would have that name tracked by his computers.
"You could have just called," she said. "You didn't have to drive all the way out here."
"Maybe I wanted to see for myself that you're alright," he said. "And maybe I figured you could use someone to talk to."
She had wanted to call up Bruce, had been filled with an inexplicable need to go running back home, but she was Robin for crying-out-loud. She'd dealt with much worse things than this. So she hadn't called – she wasn't a wuss – and she had instead slipped out of the Base and had dealt with it on her own.
"It wasn't like I was dying or anything," she eventually grumbled. "I just..."
It wasn't exactly something she wanted to talk to Bruce about, which was another reason she hadn't called. What teenage girl did want to talk to her father-figure about this sort of thing? She was sure Bruce didn't really want to talk about it either. She still remembered how he had dealt with giving her 'the talk' about both sex and puberty, how a stack of pamphlets on the subject had mysteriously appeared on her bed, and then how later on a female doctor had stopped by to further discuss the matter with Riley Pennyworth and answer any questions she had.
Following that had been a long, awkward week of not really looking each other in the eye, and she had a feeling that right now wouldn't be any less unpleasant.
"I just," she continued. "I just started my... female... monthly thing for the first time... And I also got my first birth control shot, but I'd already told you before that I'd be doing that once this happened, so..."
She expected an awkward silence, she expected the same sort of evasive reaction Bruce had had when it came to her getting the 'sex talk' for the first time, but it would seem that that wasn't the case this time. Rather than clam-up, Bruce gave her a gentle smile and asked, "Do you want to want to go out for some ice cream?"
Okay, it was a little bit evasive, but it wasn't like she was dying to talk about the subject with him either and ice cream sounded pretty good at the moment, or it would if she wasn't having a bit of an underwear crisis.
"Actually," she began hesitantly, all the while swearing in her mind not to blush. "I need to go to a store and pick up some... feminine products."
Yeah, there was the awkwardness she was expecting.
Leaving the motorbike where she parked it with the simple explanation that he'd call someone to pick it up for them, Bruce drove her to the nearest pharmacy that would likely be carrying what she needed. Parked in front of the pharmacy – feeling ridiculous because, again, she was Robin and this was nothing compared to what she'd dealt with in the past – Ricki stared up at Bruce with wide, blue doe-eyes and asked in a quiet voice just one thing:
"Will you go inside with me?"
Hell knew that neither of them wanted to go venturing down the feminine products aisle.
Bruce couldn't resist the 'doe-eyes' though.
End of chapter one. So that's all I have for now. There's more to come in the future though.
Review please and let me know what you think. :)