A one-shot I did a little bit ago but never posted. Also, for whatever reason, I always pick Robin's dad and uncle as being twins.
Artemis slammed on to the floor, back-first. Her bow was a good ten feet away from her. In their sparring session, Robin had successfully disarmed her and then sent her flying with a well-placed kick. The floor had the courtesy to put a nice red ring around her and the word FAIL. Robin walked over and offered her his hand. She took it, and her teammate helped her to her feet.
"Good match." He told her with a grin. "I can help you with hand-to-hand if you want. I think K.F. and Aqualad want their turn." The two were waiting at the edge of the sparring circle.
"Way to get owned by a thirteen-year-old, Artemis!" Kid Flash said with a smirk.
"Oh shut up." Artemis put her hands on her hips. "There is no shame in losing to Robin. Besides, we're all on the same team. We're trying to help each other get better. Which is why Robin is going to help me out with hand-to-hand combat. Right Robin?"
"Totally." Robin replied with a grin. "Hey, anyone got the time?"
"It is two forty-three o'clock PM." The computer answered automatically.
Robin slapped his forehead. "Dang it! I lost track of time. I need a rain check on that training. Sorry Artemis!" The boy dashed between Kid Flash and Aqualad, heading for the exit. As he was going out, the computer recognized Batman. His mentor entered and almost walked right into his sidekick as he dashed for the entrance. Robin side-stepped him and kept going.
"Where are you going?" Batman asked calmly as his sidekick ran into the tunnel.
"It's Tuesday!" Robin yelled over his shoulder, as if this answered things. His mentor nodded. The computer recognized the sidekick and transported him in a brief flash of light.
"…it's Tuesday?" Artemis repeated. She looked at her teammates, who seemed just as perplexed as she was.
Kid Flash shrugged. "Huh. Weird. Feels like a Friday."
Once the tube let him out into the usual spot inside the phone booth, Robin grabbed a black garbage bag lying directly beside the booth. When he reached inside it wasn't trash he found, but his civie clothes. Robin changed quickly in the alley and traded his mask for his favorite pair of shades. He kept his utility belt under his hoodie just in case. The rest of his uniform went into his backpack, which had also been placed in the trash bag before he went to Mount Justice.
He was too late to catch the bus, and he didn't have a chance in hell of waving down a taxi in this part of Gotham. So his only option was walking. Or really, sprinting.
By the time he reached the retirement home, it was ten minutes past three. He went up to the desk and leaned against it, sweat rolling down his forehead. "I'm here to see Rick Grayson."
The nurse nodded, unaffected by his appearance. Dick Grayson showed up every Tuesday and Saturday. Usually right at three, when visiting hours started. She gave him the all-clear to head back. Dick headed down the hall to the west wing. The home, called the Duxbury House, was the best in the state. Bruce had made sure of that. It catered to the old and sickly. But its west wing was devoted to people-not necessarily old people-who needed special living conditions that their loved ones could not provide. Personally, Dick hated the place. He hated the cream-colored walls and the brown tiled floors. He hated the way it smelled (Like old people and sick people.) and the stupid decorations they put up at holidays. And he hated the fact his Uncle Rick had to live there.
Dick reached room number 304 and knocked on the door. Without waiting for an answer, he walked in.
His uncle's bed was propped up so he could easily watch the TV mounted on the wall. The room had been decorated to his liking. There were pictures of their family mounted on the red walls (He'd had them change the wallpaper. Said he got sick at looking at beige all day.) and a poster for their family's act. There were also paintings done by his Aunt Karla and drawings his cousin John had made him when he was a kid. In fact, almost every single square inch of wall space was used. It made the place seem smaller. But cozier.
"Dick!" Uncle Rick said happily as his nephew set his backpack down next to his uncle's burgundy chair. He'd had it in his trailer when they were on the road, and kept it since then. Occasionally his uncle would still sit in it. But mostly it was for Dick. He was the only one who came to visit, after all.
"Hey Uncle Rick." Dick said with a smile. He took off his sunglasses, since the room was dim enough as it was. The only light was from the TV screen and a lamp beside his uncle's bed. His uncle's room didn't have any windows. Which Dick thought was kind of depressing. He went over and hugged his uncle. He thought he felt his uncle's shoulder muscles twitch in an attempt to do the same. But his arms didn't move an inch.
The boy took his usual spot in the chair. "What are you watching?"
"Oh, just the news." Uncle Rick replied. "I haven't called the nurse in to change it yet. Could you?"
Dick grabbed the remote and turned it to National Geographic. They had some documentary about King Tut on, so he left it. For whatever reason his uncle had a fascination with Egyptian history. Once when they did a show in Cairo, his uncle had dragged them all to a bunch of different museums. It had been interesting. Though the walks to the museums had been hot and unbearable for seven-year-old Dick, who'd only just started to perform. He remembered his cousin John had to carry him on his shoulders for a while because he'd been too tired to keep up.
"So, how are you my boy?" Uncle Rick asked cheerily. "School going alright?"
"Yeah. Straight A's. Though I swear my Chemistry teacher is out to get me. You create a one minor explosion and she gives you the death glare for the rest of the year." Dick replied with a shrug. "Though she worships the ground my lab partner walks on. Rodney Chambers could beat me black and blue right in front of her, and she'd just think I fell down the stairs."
His uncle grinned. He looked a lot younger when he grinned. In truth, he was only in his early forties. Rick's black hair only had a few streaks of gray in it and he didn't have very many wrinkles on his face. But his eyes, the same bright blue eyes that Dick had, always looked so sad. It made him look so much older. But whenever Dick visited, he lit up like Christmas.
"I'm sure she'll come 'round. No woman can resist the Grayson charm." Uncle Rick winked at him. "You're at the age where it starts to kick in. Soon you'll be beating off girls with a stick."
Dick turned slightly red. "Right, sure. My only friend is Barbara. Everyone else either ignores me or shoves me into a locker."
"That's because the Grayson charm hasn't kicked in yet." Uncle Rick reassured him with a smile. "I know it's hard for you in school. You weren't around kids your own age a lot to begin with, since we had to homeschool you and John. And you started high school early…but you've done well. And I'm very proud of you, Dick."
The teenager smiled a bit. Bruce was a good guardian in his own way. He punished often and praised little. But that made the praise all the more sweeter when Dick finally earned it. Though it felt good to hear 'I'm very proud of you, Dick' coming from anyone. It wasn't something he heard often. "Thanks, Uncle Rick." A silence fell, and Dick tried to jumpstart the conversation once more. "So why were you watching the news? Anything interesting happen?"
His uncle shook his head. "Nope. But they caught some footage of the Bat and his sidekick stopping a robbery. News reporter was in the right place at the right time. She even got a few words out of the Robin kid before Batman dragged him off."
Oh yeah. Dick remembered that. They had been out at one the night before. Batman was preparing to send him home for the night. But they'd gotten a tip about a bank robbery in progress. It just so happened that a news crew was out on the streets in hoping of catching a glimpse of Gotham's Dark Knight and his colorful apprentice. It was a common occurrence. Though they'd had to save news crews every now and again. In their quest for getting their shots, they usually ended up in trouble. After Robin and Batman had successfully disarmed and subdued the men, the news crew had rushed over to get a few words out of them.
"Robin! How does it feel to be one half of the Dynamic Duo?" The news lady thrust a microphone in his face. News people had learned long ago that Batman didn't talk to the media unless it was on his terms. Robin, however, was much more likely to give them an answer.
"It's alright. Batman is really strict though."
"Would you say you have a father-son relationship?"
"More like a bat-bird relationship…though I have no idea what that relationship would be like, in all honesty." Robin laughed, and that was about the time that Batman had grabbed his shoulder and pulled him away. He'd gotten a lecture in the Batmobile, but otherwise he'd gotten away from the issue scot-free.
He was going to leave the topic at that. As far as his uncle knew, Dick Grayson was just your average (if a bit smarter) thirteen-year-old in an odd living situation. What would he say if he knew his nephew hadn't let the 'incident' go? That he risked his life day after day, night after night, all in the name of justice? Dick could take a guess. Uncle Rick wouldn't be happy. At all. But Uncle Rick said something else that chilled Dick to the bone.
"You know, in a way, that Robin kid reminds me of you." Uncle Rick told him. The smile faded from his face. "I remember he popped up a little while after the incident…and I would watch him on TV and see a strong, gifted kid. Fond of showing off. Just like you were back then…" The smile returned, but only briefly. Dick curled his hands into fists and dug his nails into the palm of his hand. His uncle continued, "Your dad had always been your hero. When you were little, you would watch him perform with this look in your eyes. And you went on and on about how you wanted to be just like him when you grew up. Once when you were five, your mother asked 'So, Dick, what super hero do you want to be for Halloween this year? Superman? Batman? Or maybe Green Lantern?' And you said, 'I want to be Papa!'" Uncle Rick grinned at that and looked over at his nephew. But, as before, the grin faded. "But your dad was gone then, and you were living with some strange billionaire who went out and partied all night. So when Robin popped up I said, 'Thank God. Someone he can look up to. Someone who can show him that there are good people in this world, and they can make a difference. No matter how young or old they are.' And I sincerely hope he's been just that to you, Richard. A hero."
This sent Dick into a stunned silence. Uncle Rick was never a very serious man. At least, not before the incident. He was the family joker and prankster. Dick and his cousin John had been mere apprentices in the art of being the family clown. (Or so to speak. The circus already had plenty of clowns, as their Aunt Karla would remind them whenever the three of them did something stupid.) But the incident had changed him, just like it had changed Dick. Yet he'd never expected his uncle to say anything quite like that. Finally, Dick stumbled out a response. "He has, kind of. In a way. After the accident he was an outlet for whenever I felt angry or upset. I would just imagine I was Robin the Boy Wonder, who was able to kick butt and take names."
Not necessarily a lie. For a while, Robin had been an outlet for him. By day, he was Dick Grayson. Struggling to adjust in his new life. When things got sour, he just pretended he was out with Batman. Then when night came, he would actually go out and be Robin. All the frustrations of the day went out the window as he solved mysteries and helped haul criminals off to prison. Being Robin had helped him fight off darker emotions in the months after the incident.
"That's good." Uncle Rick told him.
There was a silence. Neither of them knew what to say after a conversation like that. Eventually Uncle Rick directed the attention to the program on TV. He commented about how fascinating the tombs of the pharaohs were, and Dick jumped on the subject. The young boy told him about how Bruce had taken a business trip to Egypt once and took a tour of a pharaoh's tomb. The story led to some reminiscing on their family's trip to Egypt, and then to another story about a prank his uncle and father had pulled as boys. Before Dick knew it, the nurse was knocking on the door and telling him visiting hours were over.
"You better get on, then." Uncle Rick told him. "Bruce will be expecting you back. And you better hurry. I don't want you on those streets after dark. It's dangerous for a kid like you."
Dick barely suppressed a smirk. "Yes, uncle."