(Takes place during 'A Matter of Family)
"I think it's time for practice!"
"That must mean you finished everything on your plate, Dick?"
Richard Grayson looked at the two vegetables on his plate before popping them into his mouth and looked at his father with pleading eyes. Next to the boy was his younger sister, Valiant Grayson who was waiting impatiently for her father to say it was okay to go to practice. John Grayson finally gave in with a soft smile.
"Okay, okay. Let's go." He chuckled at his two children. Dick slipped under the table and spat the vegetables he had in his mouth into a trashcan and Valiant cartwheeled her way out the door with her brother. Dick whooped as he jumped from the railing towards the circus tent and Valiant performed a quadruple flip in midair. John and Mary Grayson watched as their children ran into the tent.
"I'm telling you, Mary. A leash is the only answer for those two." He muttered to his wife before calling out to his son and daughter. "Wait for us, kids!"
John and Mary entered the tent after their children.
"Dick, Val, your father said to wait…*Gasp*" Mary gasped at the sight of a tall man standing over her son with an evil smile on his face.
"Looks like the circus is in town." He said as a matter of factly.
"Tony Zucco. Welcome to Gotham city." He greeted. John put a protective hand on Dick's shoulder and looked at Tony with grave eyes.
"John Grayson, the circus manager." He introduced. "Can I help you?"
"I'd like to think I'm here to help you, John." Tony said, smirking. "For a small fee. My brothers and I will provide your circus with…protection."
Val, who had been watching from the ceiling, gritted her teeth. She may have been only six years old but she immediately didn't like this Tony Zucco. His name ran a chill down her spine. Val watched as Tony's brothers emerged from the shadows with the same creepy smiles on their faces. Her warm brown eyes that resembled her father darkened as she watched the scene below her.
"Protection? I'm not sure I understand why we would need your protection." John said and Dick crossed his arms, looking like he was copying his father's stance. Val scoffed and tucked her smooth blonde hair behind her ears. She watched as Tony Zucco smirked.
"I come from circus folk myself so let me put this in terms you will understand. You don't pay us and you'll have to deal with a strongman, a lion tamer, and a juggler." Zucco stated. Val watched in horror as the Zucco brothers started damaging circus property until Dick ran out and flipped in front of the pint sized juggler.
"Stop!" He shouted.
"Dick!" Mary cried out, concerned for her son's safety. Val slapped her forehead. Typical big brother.
"You've got quite a family here, John." Zucco complemented, grabbing Dick by the shoulder. "My Pop's always said family is the most important thing. I know my brothers mean the world to me and I'm not sure what I'd do if anything happened to them."
Val gasped when Zucco gripped Dick's shoulder tight enough to leave a bruise but what scared her even more was when her father lunged forward and tackled the man to the ground. John was soon sent to the ground by Zucco's strongman brother. Val gripped the closest rope to her and swung towards the strongman. She sent a kick to his head and back flipped in front of her mother.
"Lăsaţi-ne în pace!" Val growled. (Leave us alone!)
"So you have a little girl. She's quite a cutie." Zucco reached a hand towards her but she smacked it away.
"Mr. Zucco, I think you should leave." Val said, firmly. Obviously, Zucco wasn't listening to the little girl and walked over to her father.
"You know I don't think your circus or your family can live without our protection." Zucco snickered.
"Funny, because I think we can." Dick said, putting a hand on his sister's shoulder.
"And what makes you so sure about that, sonny?" Zucco asked, tauntingly.
"I called the police five minutes ago." Dick said, holding up his cellphone.
"And guess who intercepted that call."
All heads turned towards the dark voice only meet a large figure in a black cape. Tony Zucco was soon on the ground and the Dark Knight was standing above him. Dick gasped in amazement at the incredible sight of the Batman. Val watched as Batman took down the 'lion tamer ' and her awe turned into hatred as she watched Zucco and his two brothers ran out of the tent. Cowards. She thought. She kept her eyes on the Dark Knight until he disappeared. She could have sworn she saw him smile at her in the corner of her eye.
(Later that night)
"Okay kids, come on out now." Mary called out to her children.
"No. I look like a loser." Dick replied from behind the curtains.
"Okay, just a second." Val replied, cheerily.
"Your mother put a lot of work into the new costumes." John said to his son. "Well, are going to just stand there?"
Dick finally stepped out in his new costume, tugging at his neck.
"Is there a reason why this costume has to be so colorful?" He asked just as Val walked out and did a back flip. Her costume had a bright green top with a golden S on it, long blue sleeves, a blue skirt, and knee length green leggings. His mother knelt down to his height with a smile never leaving her face.
"Because when I see you and Valiant up there, Richard, you make me think of a little robin flying with a baby sparrow." She said, putting a hand on both her children's shoulders.
"Ugh, a robin? Like the bird?" Dick asked in disbelief. "You know, kids my age get beat up for nicknames like that."
"I guess I can see how I got that nickname. I obviously spent more time above the ground." Val said, putting on a pair of long green shoes that looked like ballet slippers made into long stockings. John came over and knelt down next to his son as Val walked over and laid her head on her mother's shoulder.
"How about if we call you our flying squirrel, better?" He asked Dick who just smirked. Val struggled to keep herself from giggling.
"You know, Dad. I'm not the only one who looks like a loser." He said, sarcastically.
"Loser? I'll teach you." John said, pulling his wife and children into a hug. Val was now giggling with her family until it was about time for their performance.
"Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages! I present to you, the fearless Flying Graysons!" Jack Haly announced to the audience. "Performing their daring feats without the safety of a net!"
John Grayson went first swinging from one trapeze to the next. Mary went next, doing a flip in midair and her husband catching her as she landed.
"And now the youngest members of this amazing family!" Mr. Haly announced as the spotlight landed on Dick and Val. They both waved to the crowd when suddenly they heard the sound of metal above their heads. Val turned back to her parents in horror as they swung in her direction. She couldn't speak; in fact she couldn't move or even breathe. Mary Grayson looked up and gasped in terror and John's eyes widened. Dick could only watch in terror as his parents fell.
"Dick!" Mary Grayson cried before she fell. "VAL!"
"NO!" Dick yelled, collapsing to his knees when John and Mary Grayson hit the ground with a sickening crunch. The whole crowd gasped at the sight of the broken and bloody bodies. Val didn't know she was crying until she let out a wail and almost slid down the ladder as she made her way to her parent's bodies. Tears dripped down her cheeks nonstop and she screamed.
"NU-NU-NU NU NU! Mamica, Tati, te rog nu mor! Vă rog! Nu pot trai fara tine! Vă rog! AM nevoie de tine! NU!" Val screamed.
Tony Zucco smiled down at his handiwork. "I think the Flying Graysons might have to change their name."
Bruce Wayne looked up at the crying eight year old on the platform and the screaming six year old on the ground, clutching her parents in a death grip. He looked up at the boy and saw himself in Richard Grayson.
Richard and Valiant stood before two graves, dressed in black, and listened to the rain around them. Richard wore a black tux and Valiant wore a long black dress and had a black veil over her face with her hair tied back in a braid and held two white lilies in her hand. The young girl laid a lily on each grave before blowing a kiss to her parents and turned to walk away from the cemetery. Her Mary Janes clicked against the cement under her feet as she walked. A sob escaped from her lips before weeping into her white gloved hands. She kept her face hidden in her veil. It was her mother's veil. She knew she and her brother would be sent to Gotham's orphanage very soon. She heard rumors of the children being abused by the owner and lots of the older children were very mean to the others.
Meanwhile, Dick tried to fight back tears as he stood in front of his parent's graves. He heard someone walk up to him and spoke.
"Hello Dick. I'm Bruce Wayne, I'm sorry about your loss." Bruce Wayne said, sympathetically.
"Thanks, Mr. Wayne, for everything. I heard you paid for all of this." He gestured to the funeral.
"So, how are you holding up?" Bruce asked.
"I'll be okay…at least that's what everyone's been telling me." Dick looked up at the headstones and tears rolled down his cheeks.
"I miss them. It's just not fair." He said, shakily. "Anyway, thanks again."
Bruce watched as Dick walked away to comfort his sister. Alfred looked at the two children with great sadness.
"Their parents were all the family those children had." He said, not looking away from Dick and Val.
"That's why I decided to take them in as foster children. I was lucky enough to have you to guide during those dark days, Alfred." Bruce said, turning to look at Val who was clinging to Dick's arm as she wept into his shoulder. "Dick and Val deserve the same."
The black limo parked in front of Wayne Manor and Bruce walked over to help the Grayson children out of the car. Richard and Valiant stared at the beautiful mansion in awe and Bruce lay a hand on each of their shoulders.
"Dick, Val, welcome home." He said, warmly. Val had to smile up at him. He reminded her of her father.
(Later that night)
"Dinner is served." Alfred called to the children. Dick and Val hurried into the dining room as soon as they heard Alfred's voice.
"I think this table might be bigger than my family's entire trailer." Dick said, sitting down with his sister.
"Indeed. It can seat twenty-two and half that number. Now be sure you finish everything on your plate." Alfred told the children.
"So where's Bruce?" Dick asked, looking at the spot where their new mentor should be sitting. Val just moved her potatoes around with her fork and her eyes were red and unfocused.
"He's never around is he?" Dick's voice made it sound more like a statement than a question.
"Unfortunately, his work demands much of his time." Alfred smiled, sympathetically before leaving the two children to eat in silence. What they didn't know was outside, in the rain, stood a man in a brown biker jacket and wearing a red helmet on his head. Under the helmet he was smirking.
"Two kids eh Brucie? Now that was unexpected."
Well, there you have it. If anyone wants to guess what happens next, be my guest. Anyone who gets it right will get another chapter. And yes, Red Hood AKA Jason Todd will be in this story. I enjoy older brother Jason and little brother Dick stories. Read and review.