A/N: Okay, I've seen a lot of announcements like this, but I guess I should say it. This is the first story I've ever written about a character that wasn't my own. At the risk of sounding like a fan-girl, I have always loved Dick Grayson as Robin (I don't really know much about him as Nightwing). Anyway, I've been reading a bunch of stories about him on fanfiction and I thought… what the heck? So here it is. Also, I couldn't find a Romani translator. The closest I could get was Romanian.
Disclaimer: I do not own.
No One Said Flying was Easy
Two hours. That's how long it took for him to stop crying. He would have cried longer, he was sure, but he'd run out of tears. Now there was nothing he could do but stare at the ground with puffy red eyes, and cling to his colorful stuffed elephant.
He had been sitting on the single step of their small trailer for what felt like an eternity, waiting for something to happen. The temperature had been dropping steadily for the past thirty minutes. He couldn't feel his fingers or his nose anymore. His legs were starting to fall asleep. His stomach felt hollow. His eyes were still stinging. But he didn't register any of it. He just felt numb, and he knew it didn't have anything to do with the cold night air.
He had just watched his parents fall.
A part of him knew they were dead. That part kept playing their screams over and over again in his head… like it was on a loop. His name. That's what they had screamed on the way down; reaching out as though to touch him one last time.
Another part of him refused to accept it. That part imagined them running back to the trailer, pushing past doctors and policemen that would try to stop them for their own good. Finding him sitting alone in the cold. Wrapping him up in their strong warm arms. Promising everything would be alright in the morning because they'd be right there. Then they would probably scold the social worker for making him sit out there for so long without at least a jacket.
The social worker. He raised his head slightly to see her standing a few feet to his left talking with Pop Haley. She had arrived about an hour after it had happened. She tried to talk to him, but he hadn't heard a word she said. He hadn't answered any of her questions. Hadn't said one word. Which proved in his mind that they really were dead.
His parents teased him often about being a chatterbox. They were always telling him stories about how he would babble away at anyone he saw before he'd even learned his first word. They told him they had been worried that he would walk up to a random stranger one day and they'd never see him again. But they found out soon enough that they didn't have to worry about that. He had an almost unnatural sense of judging a person's character.
According to his parents, when he was eight months old a woman had joined the circus as one of the clowns. Anytime she was around he would get quiet and bury his head into whoever was holding him. No one understood why; she seemed nice enough. But one day, while they were setting up at the fairgrounds, something had upset the elephant. His parents had quickly handed him to the nearest person and hurried to help. They hadn't gone three feet when he started screaming and crying at the top of his lungs. When they turned they saw him thrashing around in the woman's arms, trying to get away. And then her jacket had torn. Apparently she had been stealing from the other performers. Small things that everyone thought they'd lost. She'd been pawning them for money and nobody had had a clue. But he had somehow known there was something wrong with her.
Of course, as soon as his father had told him the story he had taken to following circus goers around until it was time for the show. It had amused everyone in Pop Haley's crew to watch him running around studying everyone one he came across. If he decided they were good he would give them a bright smile and talk to them animatedly, even though he suspected none of them knew Romani. Then he would skip away leaving them looking confused. When he came across a suspicious person he would give them a disappointed frown and innocently tell them that they would be much happier in life if they did good things for others. None of them understood either, but it probably wouldn't have made much of a difference anyway.
He stared at the social worker as she continued to argue with Pop Haley. He couldn't remember what she'd said her name was. Even if he had been paying attention he wouldn't have been able to understand half of what she said. His English was getting better. He had been working hard to use it when he could, and his mother was always there to help him when he struggled with a word. At least… she had been.
He tried to focus on the words as his eyes stung again. He was really too exhausted and dehydrated to cry any more. His parents deserved the tears. But he couldn't give them. His parents deserved to be alive. But unless this was some horrible nightmare, that wasn't going to happen either.
Pop Haley's voice had risen over the past few minutes. Pop was waving his arms in exaggerated motions trying to make a point. The social worker just shook her head. He couldn't hear the whole conversation; just bits and random words. He heard his name a lot. 'Richard' when the lady said it, 'Dick' from Pop Haley. He also heard 'family', 'filthy', 'dead', 'child', and 'home'. But he didn't think they were trying to say that 'the filthy dead child needs a family home' so he still felt lost.
Finally they stopped talking. The argument was over. And studying there expressions, he didn't think Pop Haley had won. Pop looked angry, sad, defeated, and nervous all at once. The lady just looked smug. He decided she wasn't a good person.
Pop Haley narrowed his eyes at her and walked over to where he sat, shivering on the step. Pop kneeled in front of him, put a hand on his shoulder, and every expression but the sadness left his face. "Dick," Pop spoke softly, "Am sint astfel incat imi pare rau." (I am so sorry)
Pop Haley paused, but he just stared. He couldn't speak. There was nothing he could say without his voice cracking. He knew. He had tried.
Pop Haley sighed and glanced back at the woman. "Dick, I know-" Pop caught himself speaking English. He could understand that much just fine, but Pop switched back to his native language. "Am stiu tu sunt doare. Va rog Cred ca mine, am incercat…" (I know you are hurting. Please believe me, I tried…) He frowned and tilted his head in confusion. What had Pop Haley tried to do? And why was Pop so upset about it?
Pop Haley looked down and closed his eyes for a moment before looking up into the eyes of the boy he considered a grandson. Brilliant blue eyes haunted by what they'd seen such a short time ago stared back. They were asking questions that no one had answers for. What happened? How is it possible that they were smiling and laughing one minute, and gone the next with the snap of a rope? Why? Why them? Why did they die?
It wasn't just them that died; Pop Haley knew. When they hit the ground a small, eight year old boy with messy raven hair and a smile that could light the dark side of the moon had died with them. A part of him at least; and he hoped that someday, though it would probably be a long way off, the boy would be able to find that part again.
He bit back a growl that would've been directed at the social worker. He didn't see how the boy could hope to find that part if… no when he was about to be ripped away from the only family he'd ever known. Wasn't one enough to lose in a night? It seemed not.
A small hand released its grip on the stuffed elephant called Peanut and found its way to Pop Haley's chest. He stared at it for a moment, looked up, and knew the boy was waiting for him to fix things. He wished that he could. "Tu au pentru a du-te, fiul." (You have to go, son)
The boy blinked and looked without seeing at Pop Haley as he tried to explain. "Ei nu Cred ca tu ar trebui sa sederea in Acest lucru loc. Ei spun Acesta ar fi prea dureros pentru tu." (They don't think you should stay in this place. They say it would be too painful for you.)
He blinks again, multiple times as his eyes sting. Painful? It's already painful. How will taking him away from here change that? It won't bring his parents back. It will only take him from the only other people in the world that ever cared for him. The only life he's ever known. The social worker must hate him for not listening earlier… for not remembering her name. Why else would she be so determined to torture him like this?
He doesn't realize he's hugging Pop Haley until strong arms wrap him in their warmth. He doesn't realize he hadn't run out of tears until he feels them sliding down his face once again. He doesn't realize he won't get to say goodbye to the others until he opens his watery eyes and sees the social worker has somehow slipped past him and packed a small suitcase.
Pop Haley gently rubs a thumb across his cheek to wipe away the tears. "Vom fi acolo pentru lor inmormantare," (We'll be there for their funeral) Pop promises. He sniffs and nods numbly as he stands on shaky legs. He swallows the lump in his throat and clutches Peanut back to his chest. The only part of his family they haven't threatened to tear away. He's determined that he will not let this one go. He follows the lady to her car, she opens the door, and he stares at the waiting seat. He turns one last time to see Pop Haley standing alone in front of their cozy little trailer; now it's dark and cold and empty.
"La revedere," (Goodbye) is barely a whisper as it passes his lips. He climbs inside, shuts the door, the lady starts the car… and just like that he's gone.
Richard John Grayson, the last of the Grayson's, is flying alone now.
Different than any style I've ever written in, but I have to say I'm pretty happy with it. I want to make this a continuing series. I don't really know where or how far I'm going with this, so fingers crossed I keep the motivation. Review if you want, but it's not a requirement… I write for fun. But if other people like it, that's cool too.