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even when you’re feeling like it’s going down in flames

Chapter Text


I’m only up when you’re not down

don’t want to fly if you’re still on the ground


Tim felt warm. Not a bad warm, but a good warm. The young boy thinks he could be perfectly happy in this position forever. In the arms of his father, staring at a clown. Silly face, Tim giggles to himself.

“I think you were right, honey—he loves it. Look at him laughing at everything,” Tim’s mom speaks fondly to his dad. She’s happy. Nice, Tim thinks.

“Hey, I said he wasn’t too young,” Tim’s dad responds. 

“Okay, I was wrong,” she admits. “But sometimes circuses can frighten kids. They’re loud and rowdy, and I remember when I was Timothys age I was scared by people wearing costumes. Sue me. I’m a mother. I worry.”

Tim is three. He doesn’t understand. His father chuckles, “You were a girl. Tim’s a boy. That’s the difference.”

“Sexism, dear? And here I thought you were liberated.” She’s not as happy now. Tim feels that she doesn’t like his father. He thinks that makes sense. Her smile always looks less happy after talking to his dad.

“Okay, okay, I’m sorry,” his dad apologizes. Tim doesn’t think he felt bad, though. 

Not bad like Tim felt, a few weeks ago, when he tried to say a word his nanny said and his mom got mad and told him it was a bad word.

His dad goes on, “Look, if you’re so worried, there're a couple of performers. Let’s take him over there. He’ll see they’re people just like him.” His mom and dad walk over to some people. A man, a woman, and a young boy much older than Tim.

Tim stares in wonder. He had never seen people like these before. They looked so...free. Not like Tim’s mom and dad. 

“Umm, excuse us for interrupting, but this is Tim’s first time at the circus...” his father says. Tim looks at the other boy, in between what must be his own mom and dad. Tim didn’t know colors could be that bright. 

“...and we were wondering if you’d let us take your photo with him.” 

The woman smiles.“Of course...we’d be delighted.” She is happy. Tim likes that, but he can’t stop looking at the boy.

Tim wants. He wants to know what the colors are. He wants to feel the colors brightness. He wants to wear them as his own. Tim wants.

He startles as his dad settles him onto the other boy’s knee.

“Tim, say cheese,” the other boy exclaims. Happy, Tim thinks, as he looks at the boy. He feels the older boy shake up his hair. His dad does that too. Tim doesn’t know why they do it, but he likes it.

“Watch me on the trapeze, Tim. I’m gonna do my act—‘specially for you. Be good now.” 

Tim is in his fathers arms now, but he doesn’t want to be. He wants to be with the boy with the colors, but he doesn’t say anything because his dad doesn’t like Tim when he says he doesn’t want to do something. He waves goodbye to the boy.

He’ll see the older boy again, anyway. The thought of seeing him again makes Tim happy. Tim felt warm. Not a bad warm, but a good warm. And it’s not because of his father.


•••

 

Tim could barely sit still. He wants to see the boy with the colors, again. He waits and waits and waits, until...

“Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages-for your entertainment and amusement, doing their death—defying act without benefit of net—The Amazing! The Stupendous! The Incredible Flying Graysons!”

Lights appear, showing the man, the woman, and the boy. Tim cheers along with the crowd. Colors, he remembers.

The ringmaster says loudly, “And tonight, starring the youngest aerial ace in history. That incredible daredevil, the fabulous boy—wonder himself—Dauntless Dick Grayson!” Whispers break out in awe. 

“...absolutely incredible...”

“Whoa! That’s...”

“Bruce, he’s wonderful.”

“Won...wonner...wonnerful,” Tim repeats. He is happy. He is looking at the boy with the colors. His mom looks over and smiles. Her smile is happy again.

“If you practice hon, you could be just like him.”

His father laughs,”Don’t encourage him, dear.” He is happy, too. 

“And now, ladies and gentlemen—quiet, please, as young Dick Grayson attempts the incredible, impossible quadruple flip of doom. Only three performers in history have ever succeeded in this maneuver.”

Tim watches the boy with colors. He doesn’t stop looking, until the older boy stops moving.

The ringmaster goes on, “Let’s hear it, ladies and gentlemen—Dauntless Dick Grayson—the boy wonder of the circus!”

Tim looks for the man and woman with the colors. The woman goes up the ladder. Then, the man. Colors, Tim shakes in excitement.

“And now Mary and John Grayson prove their son still has plenty to learn as they attempt two triple-flips—dangerously passing each other in mid-air fifty feet high!”

 

Snap!

 

Crunch!

 

Silence.

 

Tim’s fathers voice spreads through the quiet. “It’s awful...just awful.” Tim doesn’t understand. Why don’t the man and the woman with the colors move? 

“Timmy, don’t look,” his mother cries. 

“They hurt...they hurt?” Tim doesn’t want to look anymore. He hugs his mom. He is not happy. 

His mom choked out, “Hon, we can’t stay. Let’s get him home.” But Tim doesn’t want to go. He wants to warn the boy with the colors. About the dark shape.

It was going down to the boy. No! Tim knew it had hurt the man and the woman with the colors. He didn’t want it to hurt the boy with the colors. “Look! Look!” But his mom and dad held him back.

“What is that?”

“It’s the Batman!”

“Isn’t he wanted by the police?”

“Who’s he after? Why’s he here?”

“I-I can’t look at him...he’s horrible...horrible!”

The dark shape touches the ground. No! Bad! But the dark shape doesn’t hurt the boy with the colors. He helps. Tim was wrong. The dark shape wasn’t bad. Tim could barely sit still. He wanted to go to the boy with the colors and the dark shape. Hero, Tim thinks.