Disclaimer: Young Justice © DC / Warner Bros. - Full disclaimer on my profile.
Summary: "You keep saying that like it's a bad thing. I'm proud to be a circus freak." Oneshot; set during "Homefront"; Artemis' POV. Requested by anon on Livejournal. Minor DickBabs.
A/N: Another old fill for the YJ Anon Meme that's been sitting unfinished for ages. Again, I don't think it's all that good (especially compared to the other fill) but I'm just glad it's finished. I tweaked the prompt a li'l to include Babs and Artemis. I'm not happy with the title, but I can't think of a better one.
I guess it...sort of ties in with my DickBabs oneshot? I used Remy again, an OC mentioned in passing in it. But anyway. That's irrelevant.
(Why am I working on this when I should be continuing my Dick/everyone fic...? Damn my fickle writing muse.)
As far as first days go, Artemis's one wasn't the worst. It was at least better than her first day at Gotham North - which had started off with a slightly crumpled outfit (all of her good shirts were in the wash) and her first late of the year; it had ended with a black eye, ripped jeans (accompanied by a couple of spots of blood that may been hers and may have been the boy who'd assaulted her) and a detention. A new start, she'd thought bitterly. That's what mom wanted, a new start. And I let her down. Again.
That day had been hell. This day? Sure, she'd had to endure being practically invisible to most students except the three times that someone decided to prove their superiority over the scholarship kid by counting the ways in which she was poor (Isn't that the scholarship kid? What, can she not afford a haircut? That bag is practically falling apart. Ugh. And her shoes. Does she scuff them on purpose?). But the teachers liked her, Bette was nice, and she hadn't fought anyone.
(So far. She hadn't left the school grounds just yet.)
That didn't change the fact that she was exhausted. The Gotham Academy grounds were immense, and she's just had to traipse from one end to the other and back again for her lessons. More than that, though, was that it had taken an inordinate amount of effort to not slug that boy that had insulted her mother right in his stuck-up nose (she knew exactly how to angle the heel of her palm and the force needed in order to knock someone's brain against the back of their skull, and the victim into unconsciousness). Her nails had forced tiny, curved indents into her arm, she'd been gripping it so hard.
Artemis laid her forehead on her locker door, trying to block out the cacophony of noise from students milling back and forth across the corridor. Her neighbour was, unabashedly, taking the time before leaving to admire her drawing of Superman, pinned up on the inside of her locker; to her left, several lockers down, the Grayson kid - the playboy's ward, the one who took her photo earlier - was chatting amiably to a blue-eyed redhead; to her right -
Artemis stiffened and glanced over her shoulder.
Remy. Oh hell no. One of the biggest caricatures of the privileged and snobbish you could ever hope to avoid - whom many people seemed to dislike, but no-one seemed able to ignore. The boy who, in Artemis's opinion, would look so much better with a black eye. The boy who was currently lounging against the wall, surrounded by a gaggle of ass-kissers (her new Literature teacher would call them lickspittles), and speaking in such a way to ensure that his voice carried all the way down the corridor. Hell, at the volumes he spoke at, his voice probably carried through the entire Academy.
And right now, his hawk-like eyes were focused in Artemis's direction. Gritting her teeth, she yanked her locker open with unnecessary force and stuffed her books inside - maybe if she were fast enough, she could leave before he roped her into a verbal humiliation session -
"How cute," Remy drawled snidely, drawing the attention of everyone in the hall. So much for that idea. "The charity cases are exchanging love letters."
Wait. Charity cases?
Almost dumbly, Artemis blinked and glanced about her immediate area for another person, before following Remy's gaze properly - to Grayson and the redhead. Oh. Of course - Barbara Gordon. Bette had pointed her out, hadn't she? She had a scholarship too. And Grayson...who could forget his story? The orphan who rose from travelling performer to richest boy in the city overnight.
Grayson's back was facing Artemis and Remy's gaggle, face hidden, but his shoulders seemed to tense beneath his blue Gotham Academy blazer. In his hand was...maths notes? Some kind of schoolwork was being handed over to Gordon and she'd been reaching for it, but their hands and papers now hung frozen between them. Gordon's expression was one of faint indignation as she stared at Remy, but he merely curled his lip.
Artemis gripped her locker handle so tightly that it almost snapped off. No fights. Not today. Think about mom.
"I, for one, think you two make a cute couple," he continued, obviously revelling in the attention. "Who knows? Maybe you'll run away together and stop leeching off of all of our parent's hard-earned fortunes. The circus freak and the daughter of the failed commissioner. My father told me that he doesn't even try to keep Batman on a leash," Remy added to his posse with an almost conspiratorial tone, despite the volume of his voice. "He told me that they're planning on sacking him, replacing him with someone who can do the job right..."
Something dangerous flickered in Gordon's eyes - she shoved the papers back at Grayson, looking ready to strangle Remy, but Grayson placed a warning hand on her forearm.
"But it's not as if anyone else would have either of you, is it? Actually," he tacked on almost as an afterthought, "I'll admit, that's rather unfair. Perhaps the new Scholarship Girl would, if she's as low as to be with an inbred gypsy boy..."
Artemis could feel the weight of dozens of eyes settling on her. Cheeks flushing, she bore into the metal wall at the back of her locker with her gunmetal-grey eyes, instincts yelling at her to move onto the offensive.
Think of mom.
God, where the hell were the teachers in this place?!
The atmosphere was tense. No one seemed sure what to say, unsure of who's side to take, too uncomfortable to leave. If only the tiles would crack open, swallow Artemis whole -
A student shrieked.
Artemis looked up just in time to see a streak of black-and-dark-blue somersault over her head - hands snapped out to hook around a light fixture hanging from the ceiling, swinging from it as if from a trapeze, launching, heading straight for -
A number of Remy's posse squealed and they scrambled away from Dick Grayson, who'd landed in the centre of their little circle - not a hair out of place, not a wrinkle in his uniform, hands on his cocked hips, grinning a cocky, unabashed grin - directly before an alarmed Remy. With the arrogance replaced with surprise, he suddenly seemed ten times smaller, and Grayson (at least a head shorter, if not more) somehow seemed to tower over him.
Every jaw in the hallway hung open.
"Perfect reentry, don't you think?" he said with unnerving cheeriness, then shrugged, smirking. "Well, should be. I've been doing that since I was five. Can you do that? Perks of being a circus freak, I guess."
Finally, Remy gathered the presence of mind to sneer again. "That's all you are. A freak."
"You keep saying that like it's a bad thing. I'm proud to be a circus freak. My family were the only people in the world who could do a quadruple somersault, you know that? All you parents can balance is a paycheck."
Remy was becoming increasingly red-faced, and without the attention shifted away from her, Artemis found herself beginning to grin as he attempted to gather some superiority. "Does it matter?" he spat. "My family are of good stock. Your family -"
"Could speak about twenty different languages - comes from travelling -" Grayson began to tick off on his fingers. "- could cook a mean ravioli dish, knew exactly what to say to one of the other kids to stop them crying - and that's just my parents. The rest of my family - Pop Haly is one of the best businessmen I've known, but he cared more about the people in the circus than making money, loyal to a fault, would jump in front of a bullet if it meant keeping us all safe - Ringo, the clown, he told the best jokes I've heard in any country - Raya could backflip lip off of a skyscraper and come out unmarked, and Jones could hit a bullseye with a knife at fifty paces. And every single one of these circus freaks, individually, had more character than ten of you, Remington."
Artemis barely held back a snort. Remington?!
A vein popped in Remy's temple. He said nothing and simply glared. Grayson laughed, and it tickled something in Artemis' memory, but she was too busy watching the show to dwell on it.
"And by the way -" Dick Grayson jerked a thumb back at Barbara Gordon. "- preeeetty sure that Barbara's dad does more good for this city than all your moms and dads combined with less than an eighth of the money. And Artemis Crock could kick all your asses in a fight. Jussayin'."
With that, Grayson leapt into the air again, twisting and landing in a handstand.
"Think about that next time you take a jab at a Scholarship kid. Or, you know, a circus freak."
He winked at Artemis before twisting around and striding confidently towards the door.
On his hands.
"Later, Babs," he called back, shooting the redhead a dazzling grin (bringing an almost imperceptible flush to her cheeks), then kicking the door closed behind him with his heel.
It took a full minute of stunned silence before Artemis starts laughing - a full-blown belly laugh, raucous and hearty. The students started, but Artemis didn't care, being too busy basking in Remy's incredulous expression.
Scholarship kid. Now that she thought about it, it had a nice ring to it. Scholarship kid.
I think I'm gonna like this Grayson kid, Artemis thought, slamming her locker closed and sauntering out after Grayson with lifted spirits - flipping the bird at Remy as she left for good measure.
Prompt: So let's say either when Dick first gets adopted by Bruce or when he's a freshman, some rich brat wants to be a big shot and says something along the lines of, "Of course, Bruce Wayne would adopt a circus freak" nice and loud and pointed and within ear-shot. And Dick, because he's just as much of a brat thankyouverymuch, does a few consecutive back handsprings down the hall (maybe with an airborne sommersalt thrown in somewhere), lands next to him/her all nonchalant and tells him/her, "I'm not ashamed of where I came from" and then walks away... on his hands.
A/N: Apart from Raya existing, Haly existing, Dick's parents existing (obviously) and the quadruple somersault thing, the details about the circus were made up by me. (IDK how well his parents could cook ravioli or if Raya would really survive that or a clown called Ringo exists.)
Side note: I went to a circus myself for the first time recently. The clown (who didn't look that much older than me) was pretty cute IMO. And he wore a Superman shirt, which was a bonus.
(I was so tempted to throw in some Dicktionary words. If only that wouldn't have tipped Artemis off...)
Constructive criticism welcome!