I OWN ZIP!
Newly 9-year-old Richard Grayson, or, how he was dressed at the moment, Robin, was looking thoroughly depressed. Flash (Barry Allen) and Green Arrow (Oliver Queen) took notice of this as they passed by the boy, who was sitting in the meeting room with the door wide open. Several blank sheets of notebook paper and two perfectly sharpened #2 pencils were in front of the young vigilante as he sat on Batman's chair, his feet reaching only halfway down as he swung them in the air. The boy sighed heavily, putting his chin on his tiny, gloved fist and his elbow on the table. He huffed, blowing black bangs out of his face. They only fell right back down.
Oliver and Barry stooped at the doorway. The boy had his back to them, but they knew he knew they were there.
The boy picked up a pencil, bit on the eraser for a few moments, then sighed again before putting it back down.
Oliver and Barry eyed each other. Then, Oliver stepped forward and put his hands on the back of the chair. Robin looked up at him and gave a big smile. "Hi, Mr. Queen!"
Oliver grinned and ruffled the boy's hair. "Hey, Dick. How 'ya doin'?"
The boy only groaned and thumped his head on the table. Barry zoomed forward and sat next to him, leaning forward eagerly, his chin on his open hands and elbows on his knees, trying to get a glimpse of the boy's face under the table. "That bad, huh?"
Robin gave a muffled groan. Oliver looked to the ceiling and pulled the boy into an up-right position. He turned the boy around his his chair and crouched down, pulling up a tiny chin so that he could see the boy's masked face. Gently, he pulled off the fabric, revealing two bright sapphires. "C'mon, kid, tell Uncle Ollie what's wrong."
Robin- now Dick- sighed heavily before looking to his papers. "I have to..." his last few words were mumbled, groaned under his breath.
Barry cocked an eyebrow and pulled down his hood. "C'mon, Dickie! You've gotta speak up! Is it homework? Maybe we can help- between me, Ollie, and a genius junior like you, we can figure it out! What is it? Math? Science? You know, I'm a scientist. That's actually how I got my powers! See, I was in my lab one night when-"
"What's wrong, kid?" Oliver cut off Barry. Dick seemed genuinely upset, and Oliver hated to see such a cute kid upset.
Giving a heavy sigh, Dick spoke. "I- I have to write a story about my family. My mom and dad and brothers and sisters and pets- but- but I don't have any... Not really..."
Barry and Oliver eyed each other again, much more nervously this time. Dick spoke up again. "I mean, I love Bruce 'an all, and I love Alfred, too, and I have family here, but I can't really talk about you guys. Bruce would whip me so hard, I wouldn't be able to sit for weeks!"
Barry grinned at the boy's dramatics. Oliver sat down opposite of Barry and next to Dick. "Well... why don't you write about your family before- ah, your biological family? You know- the... circus?" He looked to Barry, who nodded, mouthing, 'Haley's Circus'.
"Haley's Circus!" Oliver's voice boomed. "Haley's Circus- why don't you write about them?"
Dick smiled. "Yeah- yeah, I guess that would be a good idea..."
Oliver grinned and Barry ruffled Dick's hair. The boy, feeling fresh and renewed, pulled on his mask before pounding his tiny fists on the table. "Okay! Let's do this!"
As they walked out, Oliver frowned at Barry. "What?" the Flash asked, eyes wide as he pulled up his cowl.
"Seriously? 'Let's do this!'? The boy spends way too much time with you..."
The next day, Dick was standing in front of his 3rd grade English class with Mrs. Summers, an old lady that smelt like cats. He sighed heavily, trying to ignore the shakiness in his knees. Okay- so he could face Two-face and the Penguin and not have butterflies, and he used to do quadruple-flips and he didn't have butterflies, but now he did?
Taking in a deep breath, the boy began.
"I didn't really know what to write about, since I don't have any brothers or sisters or a mom or a- a dad..." his voice grew quiet. "So- so I wrote about my life before I moved to Gothom."
The tiny boy cleared his throat. "'I was born on June 1st, in 1997. My parents' names-" his voice cracked on the 'were' "Mary Grayson and John Grayson. The name Grayson deferred from my grandpa's surname- Grasoni, which in Romanian, means knight, with a 'k', not an 'n'.'
"'My mother- Mary- had met my father in Romania when she was only nineteen. She was there for a school field-trip. (She attended Harvard and was studying Family Relations to be a counciler or a social worker. She told me all of this when I was seven years old.) My dad had been working in an acrobats' act since he was four, the same age I was when I officially started. He was twenty at the time and worked with the Grasoni's Grand Cirqui. My mom and some friends went to see it on their day off, and it was love at first sight.'
"'My parents met up in America some time after, in their mid-twenties. They courted, which is a Romani tradition, and got married three years later. Two years after, they had me.'
"'My mom was also Romani in blood-relation, so my first language is Romani. I can still speak it fluently. I called my mom Mamica, or 'Mommy' in Romanian, and my dad was Taticul, or 'Daddy'. I spoke Romanian all the time with my mom and dad and some of the circus people. Oh, we lived in a circus. Haley's Circus, with Pop Haley. My mom had been doing gymnastics since she was a little girl, so she joined with my dad a couple weeks after they got married.'
"'Anyways, those are my parents, so now I have to do my siblings... Well, I guess Ronny was like a big brother to me- he was (and still is to my knowledge) one of the clowns. He poses as Bogo Brunes, the clown with the pink hair and bright blue suit. He helped me muck the elephant stalls, and he taught me to ride the camels and do all sorts of clown tricks like juggling and that stuff. He was about twenty-one at the time, so- yeah.'
"'My big-sister would be Amanda- yeah, Star-Gazing Samantha. She was a magician and a lion-tamer and an elephant rider. So, she taught me some cool magic tricks like the one where you pull a bouquet of flowers out of you suit jacket or when you pull a bunny from a hat! She also let me help feed Rambo and Diamond, the two Siberian tigers. I also got to help train them, and I played with them a lot, too.'
"'My pets would definitely be Diamond, Rambo, Miguel, and Lana. Diamond and Rambo, like I said before, were two 3-year-old Siberian tigers. They were going to have a litter before I left Pop Haley's... Anyways, Miguel is Mr. Haley's Cappuchian monkey. I fed him peanuts all the time- he really, really liked peanuts, even more than Lana! Oh yeah, Lana's an African elephant, the one that Amanda rode most of the time. She's about fifteen years old, and she's really nice. Her favorite snack was peanut butter. (But don't tell anyone I actually fed it to her.)'
"'Now that I've done my parents and siblings and pets, I have to finish up with my house! Well, actually, it wasn't really a house. We lived in a trailer, almost half the size of this room. There was a bathroom and a bedroom where my mom and dad slept. I slept on the pull-out couch, but I didn't really mind. We had a small fridge where Mom kept her cooking stuff, and we had a portable grill. Dad taught me how to make frankfurters on our way to Metropolis, once. I think I was about five.'
"'So, that's my family. They might not all be blood-related to me, but I love them, just the same.'"
Dick looked around uneasily. A few boys in the back were snickering, and a couple of girls in the front were looking at him funny. A girl in the front row- Patricia, Dick thought her name was- raised her hand.
"Yes?" Dick asked uneasily.
"You didn't talk about how you preformed!"
"Oh..." Dick hadn't really been prepared for questions. "Well, I started when I was two and a half- training, I mean. Right when I could walk, I could do it on a high-wire. And, by the time I was three, I was doing pretty well for a trapeze artist. I started actually preforming when I was four- we were the Flying Graysons, you know- and I stopped using a net at seven."
Everyone was gaping at him. Another girl raised her hand.
"Do you have a girl-friend?"
Dick blushed furiously at the question. He was 9! Of course he didn't have a girlfriend!
He shook his head, and the girl grinned ear-to-ear.
A boy in the very back- Dick scowled- raised his hand. It was Tommy Pierson, a boy who- Dick swore- was out to make his life miserable.
Tommy grinned evily as he said, "Did you see your parents fall, Trailer Trash?"
The room exploded with laughter, and Mrs. Summers pounded on her desk harsly. "Enough! Tommy, that was very rude! Say you are sorry- now."
Her tone was stern, and it scared even Dick.
"Sorry..." Tommy muttered, before saying, "Circus Freak."
Dick was biting back tears by now. Why were they being so mean? Dick was just like any of them... Well, besides the fact that he galavanted around the city at night with a man dressed like a bat, and besides the fact that he was friends with a century-old Martian, and besides the fact that he was raised in a circus... Okay, maybe he wasn't like them, but that didn't give them any right to be so mean!
The bell rang, and Dick was the first one out.
He thought his day would get better.
During gym class, another boy, a friend of Tommy, asked the gym teacher if they had any trapeze bars or elephants in the back room. After a confused look, the gym coach asked, "Why?"
The boy shrugged, sneering at Dick. "I just thought it'd make Circue-de-so-Freak feel more at home, or should I say, at trailer!"
Dick knew that the taunts were stupid, but they hurt, just the same.
By the time he got into the Buggy, he had been called 'Circus Freak', 'Trailer Trash', 'Pooper-Scooper', 'Trapeze Monkey', and 'Cousin-of-an-Elephant'. He was biting back tears as Alfred asked how his day had been. "Good," was all he had said. He didn't mention how bad his ribs and hand were hurting, but he knew that Bruce would know by the time he got home, seeing as how the principle had stepped in and everything.
The name-calling had been enough to make the boy sad, but then, Tommy had to take it up to the next level...
It had been at lunch. Dick was sitting alone- like usual- eating his left-over Salmon from the night before. He eyed the broccoli before bregrudgingly eating it. Somehow, Alfred always knew if he had or hadn't.
Then, a tall shadow loomed over the boy. Rolling his eyes, he looked up. "Tommy. What do you want?"
Tommy, Luis, Lincoln, and Douglas- all part of the 'Meanie' club that everyone hated but couldn't stand up to- had their fast arms crossed across their chubby chests as they watched Dick eat his lunch. Tommy laughed and threw it off the table, drawing some eyes. "Your butler didn't make anything fresh for the Young Master, did he?" (Dick really had to make a mental note to tell Alfred to stop calling him that when he picked him up from school.)
"Bug off, Tommy," Dick snapped, using a term he had only so recently learned from Barry.
Tommy scowled at him. "I don't think so, Trailer-Trash. Besides, I have a few questions..."
Dick looked up at Tommy. The sooner they got over with this, the better. "What?" he snapped.
A grin tugged at the corners of Tommy's lips. "Well, for one- did your mommy and daddy- oops! I mean, did your Mamica and Taticul scream when they crunched on the ground?"
Dick had it right then.
It was one thing to make fun of him.
It was another thing to make fun of his parents.
But, it was something different entirely to bring up the incident.
Dick screamed as he punched Tommy. The boy hadn't had time to react, so he got a busted lip and bloody nose. Luis and Lincoln pinned Dick to the ground while Douglas and Tommy kicked him and punched him in the stomach and chest. Dick squirmed to get out, but the wind had been knocked out of him. He couldn't hardly move!
It had taken almost five minutes for the teachers to show up, and another two for them to pry the Meanie club off of Dick.
When they got home, Dick was surprised to see that Bruce wasn't there. Had Alfred gotten the call?
"Master Bruce is at the Watchtower, I do believe. He said that you could join him, once you finished all of your school work, that is."
Dick beamed. He loved visiting the Watchtower. He loved to spar with Black Canary and Hawkgirl, even though they went a little easy on him. He loved to play 'Roc-Em-Sock-Em' Robots with Barry and J'onn, too. For a Martian, J'onn was pretty good! And John had even showed Dick how to use his power ring. Of course, after he promised not to tell either Bruce or the odd little blue-people that 'reigned supreme over all Green Lanterns'.
Dick rushed through his Math and Science, trying to ignore the throbbing in his ribs.
He was also trying not to cry as he thought about how rude Tommy had been.
Ever since lunch, he had that picture- them being all bloody with their bones sticking out- stuck in his head. Sniffling, wiping away a tear before Alfred could see, Dick finished up his History and showed it to the grandfatherly man before Alfred smiled and nodded. "Alright. Go on and suit up, Master Dick, and I shall boost up the telepad, how about that?"
Dick dashed off- more like limped- to the Batcave. He pulled off his uniform and winced heavily when he saw the already purple bruises on his stomach and ribcage. He shook it off. Batman had shaken off broken ribs all the time, so Dick could ignore a couple of bruises.
Alfred showed up just as Dick was pulling on his mask.
"The telepad is ready when you are, Master Dick. I called Master Bruce, and he said that he will meet you on the other side."
Nodding, Dick took a deep breath and stepped into the blue light.
Teleporting took a breath out of you, especially at Dick's age and with his tiny frame. It took your lungs out of you when you were injured.
Dick- or rather, Robin- fell on his knees when he got out. He immedeately felt two pairs of arms on him- two hands on his back, and one on either of his arms. Looking up, he saw Batman and Green Lantern looking at him worridly.
"You alright, chum?" Batman asked him as he set him up-right.
Robin ignored his throbbing, burning lungs and ribs and managed to say, "Yeah. Fine."
He coughed, and pain racked his tiny body. He winced and grabbed his chest, and Green Lantern grunted. "I don't think that qualifies as fine, kid," he scolded in his thick city accent.
Batman picked Robin up into his arms and looked at John. "I'll take him to the Medical Bay."
Green Lantern nodded. "Right. I'll man the telepad."
It was a silent trip to the Med Bay. Every step Batman took jostled Robin's ribs, and he tried not to whimper, but Batman heard the strangled cry. He scowled and growled deep in his throat. Whoever had touched his Little Bird would pay- dearly.
He reached the Med Bay and took Robin inside, setting him down on the first white-covered bed he saw. "Off with it," he grunted, "now."
His voice and glare were so stern that Robin made no move to object. He pulled off his gloves and Batman unclipped his cape, laying it over a nearby chair. As he tried to lift his arms, though, Robin let a whimper escape his lips. Tears wet his mask as the burning pain ripped through his chest.
Batman saw it, and his face melted.
He helped Robin get off his tunic. The Dark Knight's fury grew when he saw the purple and blue bruises. "Dick..." he said. "Who did this to you?"
Robin didn't answer.
Sighing, Batman removed his cowl, letting it fall down between his shoulder blades as he crouched down to look at Robin's face. He took off the boy's mask. "Dick..."
Dick's eyes were full of tears, but he didn't answer. He only shook his head.
Biting back a heavy sigh, the Dark Knight gave Dick a quick X-ray. "Nothing broken or cracked," he affirmed as he taped Robin's ribs. (They had both put back on their masks.) "Just bruised."
Robin nodded and slouched as he slid off the bed. Batman put a hand on the lad's shoulder, turning him around gently. He got down on one knee to see into the boy's eyes- or rather, where his eyes should be. "Dickie, if someone is hurting you, you need to tell me, you got it?"
Robin nodded, blinking away tears.
Batman sighed and stood. "Okay. I've got moniter duty, but Flash said he wanted to see you. He should be in the entertainment room with Arrow."
Nodding, Robin gave a false grin and dashed off as fast as his injured ribs would allow.
When he got to the entertainment room, he saw Flash and Arrow having a 'Battle of the Bands', with Hawkgirl (Shayera Hol) on the drums and Wonder Woman (Diana) on the mircophone. The princess was a beauty (but not to Dick, girls still had cooties), but she could also hold a tune.
J'onn was watching curiously as Flash swayed to the music. Green Arrow fist-pumped the air and cried out, "Guitar Solo!"
Flash was on his knees next, strumming out to the tune. Robin couldn't help but giggle at the looks he got.
Only then did anyone notice the boy.
"Cheese and Rice!" Oliver exclaimed, jumping back. "You really are trained by the Bat!"
Robin giggled again as he sat down on the couch next to Shayera. "No, you're just too focused on the TV. Batman teaches me to have all seven of my senses going at once so that I can understand what's going on all around me. Like now, Flash's trying to steal J'onn's oreos."
J'onn looked up from his book and scowled at Flash, who had three of the coveted oreos in his mouth. He smiled pitifully, crumbs falling out of his mouth, and J'onn grabbed the package from him with a Martian-glare that said, 'Touch-my-cookies-again-and-I-will-send-you-into-a-time-paradox.'
Everyone laughed, even Robin. He groaned and clutched his ribs as he did, and the laughter died down. Diana sat down on the boy's other side and put a hand on his shoulder. "Robin, are you hurt?"
Shayera wiped hair from the boy's face lovingly as Robin smirked. "Naw, not really... I just..." He bit his lip. "Don't tell Bruce, okay?" He took a deep breath. "I got into a fight at school today..."
Everyone was quiet. Then, Shayera growled. (There's a lot of growling amongst heroes.) She gripped her mace, which she always kept at her side. "I swear to Hera," Diana said, her face turning grim, "whoever did this, I will-"
"I started it."
Everyone looked at the Boy Wonder with expressions ranging from disbelief to shock to (from Flash) pride. J'onn stood and crouched in front of the boy, a good two feet away. "Richard, what would make you do that?"
Robin sighed and looked up at Flash and Green Arrow. "Well... Mr. Queen, Mr. Allen, do you remember that paper I had to write for school?"
They both nodded, and Robin continued, recapping for the others' sake. "I had to write a paper on my family life, like my mom and dad and brothers and sisters and pets and my house and stuff- so I wrote about the circus." Everyone nodded. (All of the Seven, and Oliver, knew a good deal about Robin's past.) "Well..." The boy got quiet, and then sniffled. It took everyone a moment to realize that he was crying. "T-They made f-f-fun of me and called me Trailer-Trash a-a-and Circus Freak a-a-and..." His shoulders shook. "T-they l-l-laughed at my p-p-p-parents..."
Diana and Shayera had their arms around the boy instantaneously, being careful not to hurt his ribs. He shook as he cried, his mask getting wet and letting tears spill over onto his nose and lips. "T-t-they a-a-asked if th-they s-screamed when they... when t-t-they..." He couldn't finish the sentence.
Green Arrow was gripping the game controller so tightly that it cracked, and Flash was so ticked that his body had started to vibrate. (He caught the carpet on fire, but stamped it out before anyone noticed.)
"I believe we should speak with Batman about this-" J'onn began.
Robin cried out indignantly as he stood. "No! You- you promised!"
"We did no such thing," Diana confirmed.
Robin was shaking, but not only from his tears. "P-p-please!"
"We can't let this go unnoticed," Shayera said, trying to consol the boy. "Robin, I'm sorry but-"
"It won't go unnoticed," Flash said suddenly.
Everyone cocked their eyebrows at him (well, J'onn cocked an eye-bone). "What?" Green Arrow scoffed. "You suggest that you and I go beat up these kids that were making fun of Robin?"
Flash smirked. "Not us..."
Tommy was shaking, his pants wet, as he looked up at the thirteen-year old, red-headed archer, who stood next to an eleven-year old speedster. "I-I-I'm s-s-s-s-sorry!" he wailed, trying to free his wrists and ankles from their binds.
Wally eyed Roy, who smirked. "Waddaya think, Speedy? You think he knows not to pick on kids who are... different?" He projected the last word towards Tommy.
Roy was snapping pictures of the boy, who was wearing a pink tutu, red lipstick, and had his wrists and ankles tied together with a bright green jump rope. Roy scowled and shook his head. "Nope, Kid Flash. I think that we need to resort to the kicking and punching."
Wally sighed heavily. "I don't want to get arrested! Gosh, Speedy, he's only ten!"
"Yeah, only a year younger than you!"
Wally scowled and tapped his foot on the ground at fifty-miles and hour. "Yeah, but I still think that we'd get in trouble for actually hurting him."
Roy groaned. "Fine. We'll go with plan B."
Tommy's eyes grew wide with fear. "W-w-w-what's p-p-plan B?"
Roy and Wally only grinned.
The next morning, there came on the news a curious case of a gangle of elementary-school bullies that ended up in elephant poop, with rubber noses on their faces, and grass shoved in their mouths to keep them from being too noisy. There was no evidence of assault, and none of the four boys were talking, but there was plenty of You-Tubers watching the movie entitled, "Don't Mess with D, R, O, B, and W."
Of course, no one knew who D, R, O, B, and W were, but, if one were more aquainted with the Justice League, and knew all of their identities, it wouldn't be hard to figure out.
The number-one fan of the video was a certain man who went by the enitials, "B.W."
D- Dick Grayson (Robin)
R- Roy Harper (Speedy)
O- Oliver Queen (Green Arrow)
B- Barry Allen (Flash)
W- Wally West (Kid Flash)
B.W.- Bruce Wayne (Batman)
Yes, of course Batman knew about the bullies! He's BATMAN!