Here I am again, guys!
No, I'm not dead. I've been at a four-week camp having an awesome time. But since they have no internet access, I haven't been able to update chapters of Emergency. More are on the way, I promise. I'll also be doing this story for when I can't seem to find muse for Emergency. And I'll update Emergency when I can't seem to find muse for this.
August 15th, 2006
The day everything came crashing down. Including his parents.
He tried to reach for them. He did. They swung towards him, and he got down on his belly and reached out as far as he could. So close. His fingertips brushed his mother's. He lurched slightly to try and grab more of her hand. In the process, he nearly fell himself. But it was no use. Her hand slipped past. They started falling and falling…the audience was gasping and screaming. By that time they'd realized this wasn't part of the show. Yet many mothers didn't have the time to cover their children's eyes before the two acrobats hit the hard ground below. The younger ones didn't know what they were looking at. The older ones cringed and looked away. Some cried, some screamed.
But not Richard John Grayson.
He was old enough to know what he'd just seen. The gravity of the situation slammed into him as hard as his parents had slammed into the ground. But he didn't look away. He stayed frozen on his platform, lying on his stomach with his arms hanging off. The crowd was in a frenzy. People were streaming out of the tent in a massive, rushing river of panicked bodies. But his eyes stayed locked on the two broken bodies down on the ground. Finally he looked away towards the quickly emptying stands.
That man was sitting there still. Smirking at the bodies. And clapping.
Little Richard had almost forgotten him. That man that came to their circus manager demanding money for 'protection.' He hadn't gotten it. And now…
Oh, he would get his. Even if the boy had to take it into his own hands. That man would get just what was coming to him.
The circus gave him up to the foster care system without much of a fight. Of course, he'd fought. He ran and hid from the social worker when she came. Climbed up in the highest places he could find so that no one could reach him. (His parents used to be able to. But they were gone, so no one was left to drag him back down.) Eventually, though, he was lured down a few hours later when hunger and his bladder got the best of him. After he ate and took a whizz, they tried to make him get into the social worker's car again. He tried to climb back up to another high place, but two of the circus folk took him by the arms and made him get in.
"Don't make me go!" he begged. "I want to stay here! With you guys!"
They looked sad. "It's for your own good, lil guy. Besides; we got no legal rights to ya. We'd keep ya here if we stood a chance in court." They closed the car door.
The sight of the social worker made him sick. She was a fairly young woman with pretty brown hair that she kept pulled back into a bun. She kept trying to tell him how great his new foster home would be, and that he'd get to school with actual kids. She kept prattling on and on about how great Gotham was. But all he could do was stare out the window at a gray sky over a gray city and long for the colorful trailers and tents and people that were all he'd ever known.
The foster home they arrived at wasn't really a foster home. It was a freaking orphanage. It was a large, old, creepy-looking house in what might have been a nice part of Gotham at one time. Maybe they just called it a 'foster home' so that kids wouldn't try to run away when the social workers came for them. But he ran from the social worker anyway. So did it really matter?
She walked him up the pathway that led on to the porch. The lawn wasn't really a lawn. It was a large patch of weeds and mud that surrounded the house. The wooden porch steps creaked under his weight, even though he'd taught himself how to walk without being heard. It was good fun to sneak up on the other circus people and scare them out of their wits. That seemed like such a long time ago. When his world was comprised of big-top tents, clowns, lion tamers, and smiling faces. Now it was comprised of an old house with peeling paint and a city that seemed to have long-ago given up hope. Hope for what, he didn't know. But he got the feeling Gotham was a city made up of hopeless people who went around fooling themselves into thinking that there was anything good about their shithole of a town.
The door was opened by a gangly teenager. Maybe sixteen years old and twice the size of him.
"YO, MARTHA! WE GOT A NEWBIE!" he yelled. How he could be heard over the other kids screaming all over the house was a mystery. The boy leaned on the doorframe and looked over the fresh meat. "What's your name, kid?"
"…my parents called me Dick…" he said.
"Dick? HA! No shit? That cuz you're a little fag-"
The boy was shoved aside by a short, but very wide woman. Her face reminded Dick of a frog's. Her hair was gray, frizzy, and all over the place. Her brown eyes were narrowed at him. "Figures they'd send me another little one. What the fuck happened to his parents? Overdose? Shooting?"
"They were acrobats. Their ropes failed them, and they didn't have a safety net-" The social worker seemed very used to this woman. Too used to her.
"Their ropes didn't fail them!" Dick snapped. "I told you, and I told the police: it was sabotage! Why does no one believe me?"
The woman, Martha, rolled her us. She grabbed Dick by the shoulder and tugged him in. Before the social worker could get a word in edgewise, the door was slammed in her face.
"Follow me." Martha grunted. She led Dick up two rickety old staircases and into a narrow, crowded hallway. Kids of all ages were running around. Screaming, crying, fighting. She led him into a small, box-like room with two sets of bunk beds shoved up against two of the walls. "The top bunk is empty. Take it or leave it." With that she walked out. No, wait. Waddled out. Dick watched her go before climbed on to the top bunk, heaving his suit case along with him.
And, for the first time, he cried.
The tears ran down his cheeks. The world blurred before him. This wasn't a bad dream. This was real life. This was his life now. No more parents. No more circus. Just Gotham city, an orphanage, and screaming kids. After he finished crying, Dick wiped at his eyes and opened his suitcase. There wasn't much in it. Some changes of clothes, his old costume, (He refused to give it up.) a picture of him and his parents, and a folded up poster advertising their act in the circus. Dick stared at the picture, holding it delicately in his hands. It was only last week that his mother was there, kissing him good morning and berating him into eating her awful cooking. And his father would laugh and tease the both of them.
How do things change so much in just a few days? Dick wondered.
Somewhere down the hall, something smashed loudly against a wall. This brought on more yelling from the other kids and from their caretaker Martha. Dick cringed and hopped off his bed. He landed lightly on the floor. He went over to the small, dusty window and forced it open. A gust of unusually cool August wind came in and tousled his black hair. He leaned out of the window slightly. In their act, his mother had based all their costumes off of birds. His father had been a raven. She'd been a dove. And he'd been a robin. Whenever they saw one on their travels, he always took it as a symbol of good luck. Dick would have given anything to see a robin fly past at that moment.
But he didn't see so much as a pigeon.
The time for good luck was over, apparently.
To be clear, I'm just assuming the events in Young Justice happen in 2011. Whether I'm correct in it or not remains to be seen. But yeah.