Author's note: This is the rewritten version of chapter 1, other chapters will be rewritten soon.
"We'll be on in 15, Graysons hurry up," The Ringmaster announced, his voice echoing through the tent.
"Will do! Ok Dicky, are you ready to watch tonight's show?"
"Yes Daddy," A small boy with black hair said as he looked up at his acrobatic father.
His dad smiled and knelt down. "I got a front row seat for you little bird,"
"Am I close to Lenny the Lion?"
"Right behind him,"
Dick Grayson gave a little excited bounce.
John Grayson chuckled at his son's excitement, ruffling the boy's hair he stood up. "Stay here while Daddy gets ready ok?"
Dick nodded happily while his father gave one final pat to his head before walking through the curtain of the dressing room. Dick then climbed up on a creaky bench by the wall of the tent, eagerly awaiting his father's return.
"Hi Dicky!" A tall man in a tan uniform with a safari hat walked towards the boy.
Dick gave an excited wave. "Hi Mr. Jackson!"
"Well how are you tonight?"
"Supercalifragilistic!" The little boy giggled, jumping up and down.
The man smiled. "Are you going to watch tonight?"
"Yeah I get to sit right behind you and Lenny!"
"Well Lenny will be very happy to know you're supporting our performance." The lion tamer smirked as Dick gave a little giggle.
"Oh I almost forgot!" The man leaned over and pulled out the leather satchel he was caring. "I got you a little something for when you get to become an acrobat of your own,"
Dick's eyes widened with wonder as the man before him held out a big solid black cape.
The boy shrieked with excitement, "Just like the super heroes!" He carefully took it from the older man's hand and slipped it over his head. Dick held onto the ends and flapped the edges like a pair of wings while he stood on top of the bench.
"Now you really look like a little bird there Dicky," The tamer smiled. "Maybe you're ready to fly off with your parents yet,"
Dick grinned proudly, flapping his cape as he jumped off the bench and ran around the lion tamer.
"Nice cape there Dicky,"
Dick turned around to see his father dressed up in his acrobatic outfit smiling down at the young boy. "Mr. Jackson gave it to me!"
"And what do you say to Mr. Jackson?"
Dick quickly spun around and gave the widest smile he could. "Thank you!"
"Thank you," The older Grayson repeated, nodding to the tamer.
"Not a problem, have fun little bird! I'll make sure to spot you in the audience!"
"Bye!" Dick waved with his cape as the man made his way out.
"10 minutes!" The Ringmaster called again.
John turned back to his son. "How 'bout you go get Mommy little bird?"
"I'm on it!" Dick flapped his cape as he sprinted all the way to his mother's dressing room, running across benches and platforms until he landed at the foot of the door. The 7 year old turned the knob and rushed inside.
"Mommy! Mommy! Look what I got!"
Mary Grayson fixed her earring and turned away from the mirror, giving a smiling at her son's excitement. "A perfect pair of wings for the perfect little bird," She ruffled his hair, "Did Daddy tell you what tickets to get and where to sit?"
"Good, let's go catch up with Daddy then, we don't want to be late for the show!"
Dick's face couldn't contain his excitement. "We better hurry!"
His mother laughed as he skipped ahead, ushering her to go faster.
"Absolutely stunning!" John smiled once his wife came into the room. He pressed a kiss on her cheek before she pushed him off, "Stop it you, we're working."
They both giggled as Dick's face scrunch up and he stuck out his tongue.
"One day you'll understand son." John laughed as the boy shook his head.
Suddenly Mary jumped. "My hat! I forgot my hat!" She cried.
"I'll get it Mommy!"
She shook her head. "That's very kind but-"
The Ringmaster interrupted, "On in 5 people!"
Mary sighed, turning back to her son she said worriedly, "Ok Dicky but come right back do you hear me?"
Dick raced all the way back to his mother's dressing room. When he was inside he smiled up at the images of him and his father hanging on the walls, the binoculars and the pictures of robins he and his mother took when they would go bird watching, and finally he spotted the tall white hat with red marks across it. He picked it up off the model and flew through the door.
Dick started running towards his parents when he noticed the Ringmaster a few feet ahead of him. The man walked through the tarp of the circus tent and outside. The boy stared curiously after the man. Maybe he forgot the show is coming on, I better remind him before it starts! Dick thought. He quickly dashed to where the man had disappeared. The closer he got the more voices he heard. Strangers' voices arguing with the Ringmaster on the other side. Dick stopped and peeked around to the tarp. He could make out the Ringmaster in his flashing performance coat along with two dark figures in front of him. Both men wore black caps that shielded their eyes and their voices were dark and rough, not at all like the friendly Ringmaster Mr. Haly.
"What! I payed you yesterday!"
"Do you want protection or not?" One of the strangers spoke while crossing his arms.
"This is outrageous! You should be paying me for protection! I could tell the police about you!"
"But you know better then that don't you Mr. Haly?"
The Ringmaster looked caught off guard by that last threat but the man quickly regained balance. In a very strong stern tone he answered blatantly, "I'm still not paying."
Both men paused and looked at each other for a moment before the other replied, "Bad move circus freak, you're going to wish you hadn't done that."
Before Dick could see what happened next a hand touched his shoulder. He jumped and spun around to see his mother's worried face.
"What are you doing back here little bird?"
"Nothing! I got your hat, see?" Dick held it out proudly to his mother.
"Thank you Dicky, let's get you outside so you can get your ticket; then maybe afterwards we can go get some ice cream."
"Really!" Dick had completely forgotten about the two dark figures and Mr. Haly, all the excitement of the show rushed back to the little boy as he jumped up and down.
His mother smiled. "Of course."
"Wait wait wait, where are you going?" Flash said, his face wide with smiling.
Batman glared at him as he walked towards the transporter.
"You heard him," Superman gave him a stern look.
"I know it's just, well, he's the LAST person I would think of to go to the CIRCUS!" Flash bursted out into laughter.
"Why is that so funny?" Batman replied in a very serious tone.
"It's not like he's going there to have fun, it's an undercover mission to find Zucco." Wonder Woman added.
The Flash leaned back in his chair. "But why him? Doesn't he HATE clowns?"
Batman walked up and crossed his arms in front of the speedster. "Why not me? It's my town, my villain, and my damn mission so if you have any more comments then please, I'm all ears."
The dark knight squinted his eyes shooting his icy glare directly at the Flash till he had to look away. Once satisfied, Batman turned to the others and nodded before going into the teleporter and vanishing.
"Wow," Flash gulped, "For a guy who doesn't have super powers he has better laser vision then you ever will." He said gesturing to Superman.
John Grayson scooped up his son and hugged him before placing him back down. "Ok Dicky, your seat is number 46, you know what that looks like?"
"Daddy!" Dick laughed, "It's a 4 and a 6 duh!"
"I know I know I just want to make sure," He ruffled Dick's hair once more. "You be good now, I'll be watching you from right up there!" He pointed up at the trapezes high up off the stage floor.
"I promise!" He bounced.
"Good, now run along!"
"Be good little bird!" His mother called after him.
"Bye Mommy! Bye Daddy!" The boy waved at his parents as he raced to the ticket booth line.
Batman had transformed back into Bruce Wayne once he pulled up next to the circus tent. The vigilante/billionaire stepped out of the car, trading in his mask for a black collared shirt and dark jacket. Bruce ran a hand through his dark hair as he put on his final touch for his undercover outfit; an earpiece with a direct line to the Watchtower. He dug in his pocket for his wallet and took out a couple of dollars as he made his way into the empty ticket line.
"Excuse me sir!"
Bruce turned around to see a small boy wearing a cape tugging on his pants.
"Can I run ahead of you? It will only take a second! Please it's super important!"
I have a job kid, trust me THAT's more important. Bruce thought but he looked down into the big blue eyes of this little boy and let out a sigh. I can't do that...I mean just look at him.
"Yeah fine...go ahead."
"Thank you so much!"
The kid raced up to the booth, got his ticket from the man then ran though. Bruce shook his head, quickly paid for his ticket and went inside.
Bruce watched the boy excitedly skip down the aisle and jump into a front row seat. The man couldn't help but crack a smile at the happy kid who waited eagerly for the show to begin. He watched him for a little while longer until a voice started buzzing in his ear.
"Clark to Bruce, are you in?"
Bruce shook his head. "Wa- Yeah yes I'm in,"
"Ok, make sure you look out for anything suspicious,"
"I know what I'm looking for Clark,"
"Ok I won't bother you again just make sure you-"
"I got this,"
"But what about-"
Bruce muted the earpiece and quickly took his seat before the show started.
Dick Grayson clapped as loud as he could when Mr. Jackson bowed and walked out with the lions. Hooting and hollering echoed all around him as Lenny let out one last roar and the man tipped his hat to Dick. The boy pretended to tip one back before waving him offstage.
"Now, what you've all been waiting for! The best acrobats of this time! Performing without a net is…" Drum rolls echoed around the room. "The Flying Graysons!"
"WHOO!" Dick yelled as the spotlights flew up to his parents on their platform. Everyone in the audience moved to their feet and Dick climbed up on his seat to reach out up at them. His parents stood there waving, but Dick knew they were waving at him.
They grabbed their ropes and swung across. Gracefully swinging from side to side; flip after flip the audience responded with 'ooos' and 'ahhhs' Dick couldn't have been more proud.
Suddenly Dick noticed his parents let go early, he saw them try to grab and reach at the other rope but they didn't make it. They started to fall.
Time stood still.
Dick's eyes changed from pride to horror as he watched them fall...fall...fall…
His hand instinctively reached out into the air but he was only met by gasps and shrieks. The room went silent as the echo of the thud of their bodies hitting the ground rang around the air.
Bruce froze in place, his face pure white as he stood trapped within his seat. He had just witnessed the death of the Graysons and he didn't stop it.
He quickly snapped back into place once he registered the sight that was all too familiar to him; a child without a mother or father.
Bruce watched the boy run across the stage towards two bodies laying in the middle.
"HELP! Someone help!" The Ringmaster's voice yelled behind him.
Two circus performers ran up and grabbed the boy before he could reach his parents. "NO! LET ME GO!" The little kid cried and kicked and screamed as they begin to take him away.
Bruce felt his chest break as he saw that this was the boy who he talked to earlier. The kid who must have been so happy to see his mother and father preform that he asked if he could cut in line.
"NOOO!" Suddenly boy broke away from the performers but then the Ringmaster grabbed him.
"It's over Dick, they're gone." The Mr. Haly said, trying to hold the child down.
"NOOO! MOMMY! DADDY!" He broke down in the man's arms, tears streaming down his face as he was picked up again and taken inside,
Why...why this kid...why this night...It isn't fair... Bruce jumped when he saw the boy break away again and started running out of the tent.
"Someone STOP HIM!" The Ringmaster called, chasing after the boy.
Bruce quickly rushed out of the tent. He tore off his shirt and pants and tossing them into a nearby dumpster. A few seconds later Bruce had now transformed back into his vigilante self and raced after the boy.
The moon shone high in the clouded dark sky. The faint outline of the Batman's cape glided across the city as Bruce jumped from building to building searching for the kid. Worry and panic held tight onto him while his eyes darted from ally to ally.
Suddenly his ear piece began to beep wildly, "Calling Bruce to Clark do you copy?"
"This isn't the best time Clark,"
"But you've been out there for three hours, the circus is only two!"
"Well maybe I've found something," Bruce replied in his normal irritated voice.
"Got to go Kent,"
When he turned off the speaker once again the masked hero could make out the faint sound of someone crying. Bruce followed the sobbing around the building to a dumpster. Batman looked down to see a black cape sticking out from the otherwise.
Bruce froze. What am I thinking, I don't know how to talk to kids! Why don't I just take him back and leave this to the cops or a therapist? He paused for a moment before letting out a sigh, Cause he's a kid who just saw his parents died right in front of him and l know a thing or two about that.
He took a few steps forward, "Kid...you back there?"
The little boy held his breath and stopped crying. "No."
Batman sighed and took a few more step further. "I know you are, you don't have to be scared."
He walked around to the other side and stopped a few feet away from the broken child. The boy sat with his knees tucked to his chest while his arms stayed tightly wrapped around himself. His dark drooped over his watery blue eyes that turned up to the vigilante once he made himself seen.
"Batman?" The boy croaked.
Bruce nodded, kneeling down in front of him. "Yeah, I came out here just to make sure you were ok." He tried to give him a little smile but the kid only stared back at him, more tears streaming down his face.
"It's all my FAULT!" The kid wailed, burying his head back in his arms.
Bruce jumped forwards putting a hand on the little shoulder. "No no no it's not your fault, I promise whatever happened it wasn't-"
"B-but I should have told them...I should have told someone about them..."
Batman narrowed his eyes. "About who?"
"I don't know!" The kid broke out into sobbing once again.
"Shh, it's ok," Bruce said instinctively.
For the first time in his life the dark knight felt completely and utterly useless. He shook his head praying for the words to come to him. What would Alfred do? He sighed and sat up against the wall next to the orphan. No, what did Alfred do?
"I know what it's like, I lost my parents too."
At that the boy fell silent, his chest heaving as he tried to catch his breath. "T-they did?"
"Yeah…." Bruce sighed. "It wasn't your fault kid, I know what it's like when it really really is your fault. You, you had nothing to do with it."
The boy wiped his nose on his sleeve. "What happened?"
I don't really like to talk about it; is what he wanted to say, but Bruce shook his head and continued.
"A long time ago my parents took me to this opera, I had a big phobia of bats-"
The masked man looked down at him. "Means I was scarred,"
The boy looked confused and tilted his head. "But you're Batman?"
He cracked a smile. "Just because you're scared of something doesn't mean you let it control you. I used it as a weapon to fight the bad guys." Bruce looked down at the boy and whispered. "But even Batman can get a little scared of bats every once in awhile."
The kid gave a slight hint at a smile. "I'm scared of bats too," He scooted closer to the vigilante and wiped his eyes.
Bruce grinned for a moment before continuing his story. "So there was bats in this play. I got scared and ask my dad if we could leave, me and my parents left early when a man came out of the ally with a gun." He paused and looked down at the kid to make sure the story wasn't scaring him. The boy just stared back up at him and nodded as if to tell him to go on. "He wanted our money, we had tried to give it to him but…" He took in a deep breath and leaned back against the wall. "My dad got shot trying to protect my mom but then she was shot. I could've done something, I was right there that's why it was my fault."
There was a long moment of silence. The two orphans lost in their memories side by side.
"B-but you didn't know," The kid piped up. "You didn't know that they would be killed, It's not your fault."
Bruce's soft gaze locked with the boy's comforting one. He turned his head to the night sky to think for a moment before he asked, "Did you know your parents were going to be killed?"
He frown and hugged his arms around himself tighter. "No."
"Then it wasn't your fault ether,"
Bruce watched the boy tense up and then relax. He wiped his tears and let out a sigh. The boy then leaned against the dark knight and closed his eyes.
The Batman smiled down at the boy. He was sweet and kind and deserved so much better than being shoved off into an orphanage. Bruce carefully brushed the hair out from the kid's eyes as he slowly fell asleep.
Just then the earpiece began to buzz.
"Clark to Bruce, Clark to Bruce are you there?"
"Yes yes I'm here," he whispered.
"Are you heading back to the WatchTower soon?"
"I'm on my way now," He glanced down at the child leaned up against him.
"Can I bring a friend?"
TO BE CONTINUED