Ok, so I love Dick Grayson/Robin—he just rocks—and I love the whole gypsy/circus side of him best. I wanted to do a little one shot on him just being his wonderful self and showing off for his very normal classmates... and Artemis, 'cuz I think that's funny.
Gotham Academy was not known for its athleticism, more so it's brains. Sure, they had privileged kids playing privileged, expensive sports, and had quite a few trophies and reputations as being a decent school so far as sports were concerned. Basically, it was good at the sports where the best equipment money could buy really played a factor in who one.
Three guesses why.
Ignoring that, the academy had a pretty competitive gymnastics team and a state champion lacrosse team. Football, in a city without a stadium, was a no go, so was the other common sports like hockey and soccer. There were clubs, but the sports—the ones people paid attention too—consisted of gymnastics, lacrosse, basketball, swimming and wrestling. And other fancy sports like polo and horseback riding (to which Gotham Academy dominated, even nationally) but they had little appeal to the more common population and therefore didn't take off quite as much as the other sports. Mainly lacrosse.
But, that didn't mean the youth of the nation didn't have some spark of athleticism the U.S. Military wanted to exploit/utilize, and therefore fancy as it may be, one late day in May the third period gym class of Gotham Academy found themselves out on a field with a very complicated obstacle course set up in the marshy spring grass.
Artemis was nearly insulted as Coach Bensil explained that every school in Gotham was running this same course set up by the marines, just to test their fitness. It looked impossible, with every kind of obstacle 'normal' kids shouldn't be able to do, and even 'superhero' kids—like Artemis—grew slightly nervous at the prospect of trying to run it in time. Not that she couldn't, just that perhaps the mild girl she pretended to be when at school probably shouldn't be able to.
Not that she didn't want to, just to shut up the prancy girls complaining around her.
They— with their Barbie-girl curls and Van Gough nails and gym uniforms far to slutty to be comfortable— seemed to be under the impression just because they were girls meant they shouldn't have to be expected to run the course.
Now, Artemis understood that not everyone was a trained assassin and black belts in several forms of martial arts, but under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should girls be discredited JUST BECAUSE THEY WERE GIRLS.
It took every ounce of her minimal self-control not to slap the girl standing next to her in their pretty-pink-blush faces as they babble on about how unfair this was.
She wanted to run this thing, and do it well. That would shut them up.
Or just slap them.
Either option worked for her.
"I think it will be interesting." She managed to get out, her voice sounding too tense to be neutral. The girls beside her gave her an 'are you out of your mind?' sort of look, and she had to clench her fists and teeth to keep from reacting badly to that.
"Yeah, right." Courtney, a ditsy blonde, scoffed. Artemis couldn't even think up another way to describe her, she really was just a ditsy blonde. Not at all helpful to the dumb blonde stereotype.
"No, really, perhaps if we try, we can-"
"No way! I just got my nails done, see? Fuchsia, for prom you know? Matches my dress perfectly, with the vintage lace and-"
"You're not even going to try?!" Artemis demanded, and her wide green eyes blinked in confusion.
"Honey, I'm not even running. My daddy will be all over Bensil's case if he makes me, so…no. Sorry." She shrugged, not seeming sorry at all, or not even understanding Artemis's frustration.
"I agree with Artemis, I think it will be very interesting." A voice came brightly from right beside them, making both girls jump a little.
"Grayson…" Artemis growled, recognizing the cheery, over-hyper voice that did not match the dreary, tired atmosphere of high school at all.
"What?" He said innocently, wide sapphire eyes blinking up at her, and a familiar head of flaming red hair not too far behind him. "I couldn't help but over hear your dilemma…"
"More like eavesdrop," Barbra scoffed beside him.
"Not helping Babs," He said without breaking eye contact with Artemis. The archer shifted a bit under the icy blue stare.
"I would squash you like a bug, rich boy." The blonde archer snapped.
The underage freshman just beamed and somehow smirked at the same time. "Really?" He challenged.
"Yes, really." She hissed, clenching her fist to keep form punching him in the face. God this boy was irritating. It didn't help that he already felt horribly familiar and easy to be around, making her hate him all the more.
"Oh great, the charity case and the circus freak are going to kill each other. Two birds, one stone, I say." A drawling voice came and they looked over at Michael, blonde hair still perfectly combed and even his gym uniform somehow looking dapper and put together.
Every school had one of him: the pompous ass that ruled the popular crowd and treated everyone else different from him like trash. He was snobby, full-of himself, Mr. Popular as the gorgeous blonde super-built lacrosse captain, suave and filthy rich. Pretty much everything Artemis had assumed Richard Grayson would be and yet somehow wasn't, even if the short raven haired kid was eternally irritating… he was only annoying—in a child-like, overexcited way— not cruel in an arrogant aloofness like Michael.
Michael smirked at them as he said his insult loud enough to catch everyone's attention and still sound casual. Damn pretentious aristocrat could work a crowd well.
Artemis clenched her fists tighter and sneered at him, but some part of her brain was wondering why he didn't like Dick either. They were from the same social circle: the really rich kids, right? Apparently Grayson had just as much trouble with the snotty captain as she did.
It didn't make her like him any more though.
"Hey, pipe down." Coach Bensil scolded the blonde boy, though not too fiercely, more to make him quiet than anything. The down side to teaching kids with overly important parents willing to give their kids any and everything just to keep them quiet. "We're starting the test in five minutes, any volunteers?"
No one moved except Richard.
"Artemis and I do!" He said brightly waving his hand in the air with too much energy for the sluggish high school class.
"What? No we don't!" Artemis cried.
"You're the one who said you could cream me, so prove it!" Dick quipped back defiantly and Artemis flushed with anger.
"Why you little-"
"Please kill him, it would make our lives easier." Michael smirked and Artemis turned and directed her anger at him.
"Enough now!" Coach snapped, intervening before she drew blood. Oh, and boy would there have been blood. "You're acting like children-"
"Dick is only thirteen," Barbra said out of nowhere, but they ignored her—except for Dick's brief glare.
"The brat acts like it as well," Michael said softly without missing a beat, expecting anger from Dick, but the dark haired boy responded just as quickly.
"Actually, Michael and I volunteer first!"
"Oh no you don't you circus freak-"
"Yes! I am a circus freak! Wanna see how bad this circus freak can kick your butt?" The boy said cockily, bouncing forward and standing next to Coach, hands on his hips and smirking superiorly at his bully. The confident boy had everyone's attention, and he didn't seem too perturbed by it.
Artemis frowned: something about his stance made him seem really familiar. She shook it off.
"I'm twice your height and four years older than you, not to mention I actually do a sport and exercise regularly, as opposed to you, twerp, who plays with his gadgets on the mathlete team. What makes you think you have a prayer?" Michael snapped, and Coach pretended to look down at his clipboard, obviously wanting to hear the answer to this.
"Easy. As you've pointed out, I'm the circus freak. What, are you afraid?" The tiny boy sneered.
Barbra coughed, but the chicken noises she was making for Michael were still evident.
Michael blushed a bit, looking angry but still trying to maintain his dignified, composed expression. "Fine then. Say goodbye, freak." He stalked forward and stood by the coach too, and Dick grinned like a child who'd learned Christmas had come early.
Coach seemed to have resigned himself to this bickering and sighed slightly, pulling out his stop watch.
"Right then, up at the starting line, both of you." He commanded, and Dick all but skipped over to the white line sprayed on the grass, while Michael walked forcibly calm beside him, stretching his arms as he went and shaking out his shoulders to prepare. The rest of the class tittered excitedly at the battle, lining up to watch their progress.
"Artemis, are you gonna cheer for me or the dumb blonde?" Dick called to the archer, whose eyebrows shot up in surprise at being addressed.
"I hope both of you get caught in the army crawl!" She shot back and heard a few people snicker.
Dick just grinned, like he was overjoyed at her answer, and then turned to the coach. "We can do anything to get past this, right? Like, any tactic we want?"
Coach glanced down at his clipboard. "Rules say you can do anything you want to get pass the obstacle, save avoiding it or running around it. All techniques are fair game seeing as they would be in a real life situation." He confirmed and Dick nodded thoughtfully. "You have ten minutes to get through the course; every ten seconds over is minus two points, every ten seconds under it plus one. Got it?" Both boys nodded, Michael slipping into an aggressive stance, prepared to run, and Dick bounced lightly on the balls of his feet in excitement.
"Michael's built, and I've seen him play lacrosse: he's been the best captain we've ever had these past three years, what makes the kid think he stands a chance?" A girl muttered to anyone in general, and Artemis frowned.
"Looks can be deceiving." She allowed. "Not that I'm cheering for him, I just hate Michael more." She sniffed and got several glares but a few nods of agreement.
"On my mark," The coach bellowed. "Get set… GO!" The whistle blasted loudly and both boys took off.
It seemed like Dick was keeping up with Michael pretty good for the first half second, but that all went to hell as he pulled ahead and was twenty feet ahead by the third second.
"Crap he's fast!" Someone gasped, and in that time, Dick had crossed the open stretch of grass and arrived at the first obstacle: a rope swing across a ten foot moat. Two ropes hung from an arch over the moat, easily twelve feet high.
Then he did the unexpected, twenty feet from the start of the moat, he pitched forward in his running and did three back hand springs, launching himself into the air when he got to the water's edge, flipping and twisting gracefully in the sky until one of his feet hit the top of the beam and he landed, catching himself with his arms spread wide for balance, though it didn't look like he needed it.
He was facing back to Michael— whose brown eyes had blown wide in shock— and grinned so evilly it sent a shiver up Artemis' spine. He let out a sharp bark of laughter before launching himself into the air again, doing a triple back flip before righting himself mid air and hitting the ground, instantly running, looking like he hadn't even broken stride.
The observers were gaping in amazement and the coach seemed to be having some sort of aneurism. Michael only stumbled a bit in shock, but kept right after him. But no one was paying attention to the lacrosse captain as he jumped for the rope the traditional way, focusing completely on the small boy running ahead.
Dick leapt up as he reached the rock wall—getting him halfway up already— pushed one foot against a hold, then the other on another to balance him out, repeated the pattern twice more, then holding out his hands that were suddenly at the top of the thirty foot wall, and he caught the edge and pulled himself up like he only weighed two pounds. He curled upwards into a neat hand stand, held it for the briefest moment then let himself fall backwards down the other side. He twisted in the air into a nose dive, before quickly curling up into a ball and rolling forward as he hit the ground, coming up out of his tumble with ease and breaking into his fast-pace sprint again.
The class was suddenly over their shock when one girl started cheering. Everyone was jumping up and down excitedly, watching with rapt eyes at the boy apparently breezing his way through the supposedly impossible course.
One after another, all the obstacles proved to be child's play for Dick, which was appropriate seeing how he, for all intensive purposes, was a child.
He cart wheeled and back hand-spring-ed over the army crawl, his hands and feet finding places to land as easily as if he were on solid ground instead of the tangled knots of ropes. The beam maze going over a pit of mud was laughable, and he ran across it without breaking stride, his legs somehow making it over the seven foot gap between each plank. The rope jungle was incredible to watch, and he flipped twisted through the air, ducking and weaving and contorting like a ninja going through a hall of laser sensors in the movies, and it only slowed him down a couple seconds. He didn't even bother trying to use his hands on the finger-cling climb, where you were supposed to grip a metal beam with two inch ledges on either side to get across a thirty foot moat, he just flipped up and easily landed on top of it (which Artemis doubted even Robin could do at that height) and ran across the top easily, starting to laugh as the course came to a close.
He jumped atop the barrel on the barrel-roll, abruptly running backwards and the contraption rolled rapidly beneath his feet as it shot to the other side. It ended its path with a deafening crash, popping out of its track and crashing into the ground, starting to roll on forward that way. Dick didn't even get off it, merely jumping a bit as it crashed, landing on it again, and continuing to run like that for a few feet before leaping over into a neat tumble and running forward again. He leapt over the hurdles like they weren't even there, sometimes obviously showing off as he flipped or cart wheeled over them, before breaking into an all-out sprint at the final stretch.
The last obstacle was a bar, hanging from two chains supported by and arch—much taller than the rope swing, and over a much bigger pond—nearly three times as big.
Dick let out a carefree laugh as he hurled himself at the bar, and suddenly, they saw exactly why they had called his family the "Flying Graysons".
Artemis has seen guys do some pretty fancy stuff on the gymnastic bars when the Olympics were on TV, even some neat tricks on the bars at the gym where she trained when not at the cave, but none of them compared to seeing a Grayson on anything that resembled a trapeze.
He spun and held himself up with one hand over top the bar, swinging back down and making the bar swing forward with his momentum. He curved around it and spun again as it swung backwards, then did another handstand as it swooped downward, curling back and spinning around it as it reach the peak of its swing forward, and let go.
One flip… then two… three, four, five…
Artemis was sure she'd only ever seen the best professionals do three or four.
He tucked into a ball and hit the ground at an angle, rolling forward and coming out of it standing, arms flung above his head with a flourish in triumph. He let out a sharp laugh, letting his arms drop, and casually stepped over the finish line.
Michael was still on the beam maze.
The coach gaped at the stopwatch as he pushed stop. "Three minutes, eighteen seconds…" He gasped, completely shell-shocked.
"That puts me 41 points up, on top of whatever scores I got for each obstacle." Dick did the math in his head as he jogged easily over, and no one missed the fact that apart from a slight hitch in his breathing, he wasn't out of breath.
"And… well, I'd say perfect marks for each obstacle unless I'd gone blind in the last five minutes," The coach allowed, "Which puts you at 141. By my records… the best ever done was 103." The coach blinked. "I've got to call the Marines…" He muttered dazed.
"No thanks, I'm not the solider type," Dick brushed off casually, beaming as he watched Michael struggle through the army crawl. "I'm a circus freak!" He shouted, loud enough for Michael to hear, and several people started snickering as he yelled in frustration and simply collapsed, limbs all stuck in the webbing of the army crawl.
"Well, what do ya know, my wish came half true." Artemis snickered.
She had to talk to Robin.
"And then the trapeze was just incredible! You would have been SO jealous- Robin, are you even listening to me?"
"Oh, I'm enjoying this immensely." He assured her, flashing her a grin.
"Then what are you doing?" She demanded as he looked back at his wrist computer.
"Oh, recording your reaction to this kid."
"Why?!" She huffed angrily.
"Because it's hilarious." He quipped back easily and she gave a muffled yell of frustration and stalked away.
Wally snickered from the couch across from them. "That was amazing!" He laughed as soon as Artemis was out of ear shot.
"And I got it on tape! I still can't believe she hasn't figured it out yet." Robin chuckled.
"Are you going to tell her? That'd be the icing on the cake for this day!" Wally sighed in longing.
"Na… you finding out was an accident, and you know my reasons for keeping it under wraps. I think I'll go on enjoying this a little longer…"
They both exploded into fits of laughter as Robin hit replay on his recorder.