“Ladies and gentlemen! The Flying Graysons!“ Mr. Haly announced, causing the crowd to cheer and holler at the introduction of the Circus’ magnificent leading act.
Everything after that seemed like a happy blur until the moment that he heard a loud twang. Dick’s head snapped up just in time to catch sight of the wires snapping, the same wires holding up the trapezes his parents were on. He reached out desperately to his mother who did the same as they swung towards one another; however, they missed each other by an inch and Dick could only watch in horror as his parents fell, his mother calling out his name and then-
“Richard,” a familiar voice called out his real name, snapping Robin out of his memories. He spun around and almost had a heart attack because what the?!
“D-Damian?!” he stuttered slightly taking in the pissed off form of his oldest brother, Damian Wayne, “What are you doing here?”
This wasn’t good. Not only was his brother here , but he was dressed in his civies and not as Nightwing, which meant, for multiple reasons, that he was going to be in so much trouble.
“I should be the one asking you that,” Damian replied, folding his arms across his chest, looking unimpressed.
“How did you even know I was here?” Dick questioned, his head a mixture of emotions, mainly from the panic that Damian would blow his cover and that he’d lose his chance to help save the Circus.
However, another part is thrilled at seeing his big brother because at this moment in time, he could really use a hug - not that Damian was particularly known for his hugging tendencies, the award for best hugs would surprisingly go to Tim! He could hug the older rogue Robin for hours on end and the older boy would let him, petting his head soothingly and telling him humorous stories about his family and friends to cheer him up. Being back here was dragging up memories he’d rather forget, and even the ones that didn’t still left a bittersweet taste in his mouth that he couldn’t seem to get rid of.
He was tired and stressed. Running a team was exhausting work and he hadn’t slept right since he arrived. His nights were filled with performances and then with recon, as they tried desperately to find the thief and save the circus. Hell, even when the team wasn’t doing that, his nights were filled with horrific nightmares where he would wake up in a silent scream with sweat dripping down his face.
Long story short, he just really wanted a hug.
“Believe it or not, Richard, I am a detective,” Damian stated, once again bringing Robin out of his morbid thoughts.
Dick tensed at the use of his real name, hoping that no one had overheard. “Dan. My name is Dan ,” he corrected quickly, hoping that his brother would catch on while simultaneously trying to think of a backup plan in case anyone had heard them. It was unlikely, but still, you can never be too sure. There were many things Dick had learned from his days with the Haly’s Circus, and one of them was that there almost always no privacy. Someone was always listening, and there were supposedly no secrets within the group.
Damian scoffed, taking a step closer. “Stop this foolishness and come home.”
“No,” Dick said defiantly as he took a step backward, once again putting some space between them. Dick had no intention of fighting Damian and hoped it wouldn’t come to that. But if Damian was really here to bring him home then Dick wasn’t leaving without a fight.
“Richar-” Damian started again but was cut off by the arrival of someone else. Roy Harper, also known as Red Arrow (the former Speedy), and his current ally Dan Danger walked around the corner.
“Hey, Dan, are you okay? You’ve been out here for a while…” The redhead's sentence trailed off when he realized the situation.
Damian turned. His frown deepened at the disturbance, and he sent a glare at the archer. “Harper. So you are in on this as well?”
“Damian?!” Roy gaped in shock, confused at what the oldest of the batboys was doing here of all places. Honestly, of all the former Robins that he wanted to appear, Damian wasn’t top of Roy’s list. They had never gotten along. “What the hell is going on?”
“Does Todd know?” Damian interrupted, ignoring Roy’s bewildered questions.
“Does Jason know what?” Roy parroted back, getting slightly defensive after Damian had accused his best friend of something. Jason wasn’t even involved!
“No! Damian! Stop it!” Dick cut in with an anguished shout. Both older boys turned to look at Robin, who was shaking with a mix of rage and panic.
This wasn’t supposed to happen!
“Jason doesn’t know anything, neither does Roy!”
“Richard?” Damian called out, a hint of worry lacing his voice at the sight of his distressed little brother. He reached out only to pull back quickly when Robin flinched away.
“Dan! My name’s Dan! Dan Danger!” Dick shouted again, glaring at his brother, his fists clenched. “Why do you have to ruin everything ?!” Then, before the other two vigilantes could say or do anything in response, Dick took off, quickly disappearing into the snowy scenery.
“Well done,” Roy hissed venomously at the oldest Wayne before taking off in the direction that the boy had gone, “Dan, wait!”
Damian let out a sigh. Apparently, this was going to be harder than he originally thought. However, as he left, his eye caught sight of the Flying Graysons poster, where his little brother had previously been standing...
Damian gave it about an hour for the younger boy to calm down before he went to confront him. Harper must have found out where Richard was, because the archer stormed up to him with a glare, spat out a location, told him to go fix whatever he did to upset Robin and then stomped off again. Damian scoffed. He didn’t need to be told where to find his little brother, nor was he going to follow orders from a Justice League wannabe like Red Arrow.
He found his brother sitting in the middle of a bench in the upper level, staring down at the middle of the ring. Damian sat down next to him.
“Richar-um, Dan .” Damian corrected himself, not wanting to rile the boy up as his name had earlier.
“ Go away, ” Dick spat, not removing his eyes from the spot his gaze was locked on.
“I just want to talk,” Damian replied carefully.
“Yeah well, I don’t care,” Dick snarled, “We have no need for an assassin here.”
Damian didn’t take any offense because he knew what his little brother was up to. Robin tended to get defensive and a little vicious when he was upset.
It wasn't common knowledge, but everyone in the Batfamily knew that Dick Grayson, regardless of how sweet and loving he could be, had a foul and explosive temper when pushed, a temper that beat even Jason’s or Damian’s.
“You know better than to try to deter me with words. I was raised to be above such things,” the older boy replied, vaguely remembering his youth, living with his mother and Grandfather before he left to live with his father. There, he had been introduced to a whole new world - a better one.
“Well, this was where I was raised, Damian!” Dick shouted letting more emotion slip into his voice then he’d wanted. Fortunately, he didn’t cry, but damn he wanted to. “And now there is a threat that could force it to be closed down!”
Damian nodded, “Yes, I have read the files.”
Dick finally looked up at his brother and sent him a glare that is usually revered for Gotham’s finest. “And you still want me to just give up and come home?”
Damian sighed, resisting the urge to roll his eyes because the young boy didn’t seem to understand, but doing so when Richard was already so agitated and distressed would only rile the boy up more.
“I didn’t say to abandon anything. I am simply here to collect you. Come home and stop this foolishness.”
“It’s not foolish!” Robin argued.
“So what part of running away with part of the team, - one which I neither approve or rate - to try and take down an unknown enemy without consulting me, or even Batman, is not foolish? Especially when you have a family at home who will be more than happy to help with the situation, with a plan , and several backup plans, tech, skill, and knowledge which trump this little team of yours.”
Dick paused. He hadn’t thought about it like that. He knew all of this but hadn’t really considered it before now. “Makes sense, I guess.”
“I understand why you did this, but it wasn’t the best way to go about it,” Damian did his best to sound passive, “But I went to the Manor, and no one had seen you in days. Father was nowhere to be found. Pennyworth was none the wiser, and Todd was about as informative as he always is.” There was a small pause. “I was worried.”
“Sorry, Dami,” the younger boy apologized with a sad sigh, “It’s just, this place... it means so means so much to me.”
“I know,” Damian turned and placed his arms across his little brother’s shoulders, pulling him into his side. Dick promptly tucked himself into Damian’s embrace, snuggling contently.
“I went into the old trailer we lived in in the other day,” Robin mumbled sadly, trying hard not to let any tears fall as he remembered the moment, “They’ve redecorated. It was as if we were never there.”
“Richard,” Damian responded lowly, his grip on the boy tightened.
“My name is Dan ,” Dick corrected, shaking his head to cast away the sad and morbid thoughts, stubbornly crossing his arms over his chest, “And I’m not going home.”
“But-” the older vigilante started to protest but was cut off by his brother.
“I understand why you did this,” Dick said, playfully mimicking Damian’s earlier comment. The latter couldn’t contain his eye roll. Dick’s lips twitch upwards into a small smile, “However, I can’t stop now! Mr. Haly will lose the circus if I leave. Interpol is also involved, but they don’t get it - get what this place means to not only me but others as well! It’s home. It’s family/ It’s fun and joy and life .” The acrobat clenched his fist tightly, “I know there is something fishy going on around here. I just don’t know what yet.”
Damian glanced down at his brother, taking in the determined and passionate look on his face, and sighed again. Had he been such a pain when he was Robin? He was still tempted to just snatch Robin up and abandon the mission. Leave it to the League to sort out the rest, taking his brother back home safe - not running off across the world unsupervised with a team of lackluster and unreliable young heroes.
However, he knew if he did so that the boy would never forgive him. Although Richard hadn’t consulted or informed anyone of importance before this ‘mission,’ they did seem to be doing considerably well (at least they were now, anyway). But no one there had a clue about what could be going on, and if Richard’s theory that something besides the usual thievery was going on was true, then the children could get into something bigger than they were ready for.
There was only one thing to do then.
“I guess if you refuse to come home, then the only other option is for me to stay here and supervise,” Damian concluded. He hoped that his brother would see that was the middle ground, a compromise that Damian was going to give. If Richard denied that, then there was no choice but to take the boy back with him. He wasn’t about to let his little brother go off and get himself hurt, or worse, because of his own stubbornness, Damian would not allow it.
Plus this place was obviously having an adverse effect on Richard. He was twitchy, emotionally unstable, and visibly exhausted, which was a total one-eighty from the typical demeanor of the youngest in their ever-growing brood He was usually full of life, joy, and energy.
Richard, however, surprised him when the boy blinked up at him in a mixture of shock and hopefulness, only steeling Damian’s resolve to stay and help catch the thief as soon as possible. The sooner this was over, the sooner they could return to the Manor, where Richard could be happy again.
“Really?” Dick asked, a tad skeptical, but then again when had ever Damian been one to lie? His older brother has avoided questions and been vague as hell, but he’s never outright lied to Dick before. Robin doubted he’d start now.
“Yes,” Damian nodded, “But you’ve got to listen to what I say and follow my orders.”
“Sweet!” Dick exclaimed pumping his fist into the air in celebration, a grin spreading across his face, “I sure Roy- um, Dean is going to absolutely love this.”
Damian smirked, happy to see at least a small part of his brother’s typical joy had returned even more-so knowing that he was the cause. “Harper will have to learn to deal with it.”