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YOU CAN TELL 'EM ALL NOW, I DON'T BACK UP
I don't back down, I don't fold up, and I don't bow, I don't roll over, don't know how.
User Name/Nick: Gwen
User LJ: 1jobonthisship
Other Characters: None.
Character Name: Richard John Grayson
Series: DC Comics
From when?: Post 52/Pre Nightwing: One Year Later
Inmate/Warden: Warden. He's been fighting crime since he was a kid, and since Blüdhaven is kind of out of the picture at this point, he's looking for some direction in his life that doesn't involve crashing on Bruce's couch for forever.
Item: A batarang. He's sentimental.
Abilities/Powers: Although Dick is not a metahuman, he is in peak physical condition and is easily one of the world's greatest martial artists and back home is widely considered to be the world's greatest acrobat. He's been trained in acrobatics basically since birth, and began studying under Bruce Wayne since his parents were murdered, so there isn't much athletically that he can't do. He's also the only person in his universe who can land the incredibly challenging quadruple flip, and although his fighting style favors karate, capoeira and escrima, he's extensively studied just about every martial art in existence and is incredibly knowledgeable about weaponry as well. He briefly trained with the first Shrike and after years of practical knowledge and continued study, he's always a force to be reckoned with, powers or no. He's also had extensive training in criminology, escapology, disguise, stealth, intimidation and a plethora of other skills needed to survive as a vigilante in Gotham. While admittedly not a genius like Tim, Dick is a world class detective, strategist and is a natural leader, having lead the Teen Titans, Outsiders and Justice League, and in general likes to approach tough situations by inspiring people or talking them down, rather then scaring the pants off of them like his mentor. His uniform is fire and bullet proof and his gauntlets have a small armory of useful gadgets and weaponry in them. But at the end of the day, he's still human, and so if he gets killed, he stays dead. In theory.
Personality: Dick is just a nice guy. There's really no way to get around this and it's probably one his most defining (or at least, one of his most easily recognizable) traits. Even after all the crap he's been through, he's always managed to keep that general good nature and optimism that makes him the literal Yang to Batman's Yin. He's friendly, chatty, and really is just a people person. He's always found it easy to make friends, strike up conversation with complete strangers, and 'shy' isn't really a word commonly associated with the former Boy Wonder. Both in and out of costume, he's always willing to reach out to those in need, and while admittedly, he has a hard time trusting someone who's wronged him in the past, he can usually suck it up and make just about any partnership work if he really has to.
That being said, he is quite comfortable being a team player whether in a leadership or more supportive role. Working for years alongside Batman has made it easy for him to adjust to working with people with difficult personalities (although how long he'll want to keep it up entirely depends on who it is), and he's had experience leading groups like the Teen Titans since he was a kid. Because of his generally likable personality and the fact that he's literally grown up in the hero community, most people are more than happy to work with him. It's been openly admitted that most older members of the community either see him as a son or a kid brother, while the younger kids view him and the original Titans as inspiration and/or older sibling figures. He likes working on a team, and generally prefers it to solo work, although when it comes to Blüdhaven, he can be just as bad as his mentor when it comes to the 'I work alone except when I don't' mentality.
He's not Batman. He's always very much been his own person, and while he's certainly matured from the young kid who ran around in scaly green underoos fighting crime aside the world's greatest detective, there are certain things that have stayed the same. For example, although his tendency to lean towards puns might have abated slightly, Dick is still extremely chatty and witty, especially while fighting criminals, although he'll be more then happy to engage in witty banter with just about anyone. He's got a good sense of humor, and sometimes when he's dealing with his opponents, it's almost more like he's having a nice chat with them rather then beating them into a pulp. It keeps his mind loose and keeps them distracted. He's also far more trusting then his mentor, and generally less suspicious of others and their motives then Bruce. This isn't to say he blindly assumes the best from everyone, but he isn't going to refuse to work with someone just because he doesn't know them. In general, he follows his gut feeling and intitution rather than obsessively planning for every single situation, but that doesn't mean he just barrels in without thinking. Dick generally knows what he's doing, and if he doesn't, he's pretty good at making things up as he goes along. He's smart and has prepared for just about anything, so he usually turns out okay.
Besides just being a good hearted person, Dick is extremely loyal. He isn't someone to make friends superficially. Once you're close to him, you're stuck with him for the long haul, and he's a good person to have on your side. He's devoted and protective, and will be there for you no matter what. That being said, it's probably not surprising that Dick is extremely family oriented. Although he does have a wide collection of friends and allies, and would take a bullet for just about anybody, there are certain key people in his life that he would sell his soul for without question or regret. Despite all the crap he's put him through over the years, Dick loves Bruce and Alfred unconditionally and he values relationship with his adoptive family above pretty much everything else. Although initially resentful of Jason, seeing him as his replacement, this unconditional love has extended to other members of the 'Batfamily', and he's fallen into the role of older sibling to Tim Drake pretty happily. As such - like most of the heroic type - one of the easiest ways to push his buttons is to endanger the life of someone he loves, and while he sticks to the 'no kill' policy he's been trained to follow since he was a kid, the times he's come closest to crossing that line always center around direct threats to the well being of people he loves. He's loyal almost to the point of being stupid, because no matter how many times he's overlooked/jerked around/pushed aside by Bruce or Babs or whoever else, Dick will always be back for more. Giving up on the people he loves is simply unheard of, and it's pretty safe to say he doesn't even consider it to be an option.
Growing up working with Batman and putting up with Bruce didn't exactly leave him with the greatest self esteem in the world. While he comes off to most people as very self confident, he lives in constant fear of screwing up and disappointing those he cares about, specifically Bruce. He routinely pushes himself to breaking point and when he fails to live up to his incredibly high standards, he's extremely hard on himself. In a lot of ways, Dick has never got over the feeling that Bruce replaced him with Jason and could always decide he's irrelevant, effectively taking away the only family he has left, and this fuels his desire to make sure he doesn't let him down. The adoption has helped smooth over this fear, but it's still there. When feeling particularly anxious about this, Dick can be moody, depressed and is usually even more reckless with his personal safety then usual. Some people drink themselves into a stupor or outright self harm; Dick Grayson pushes himself until breaking point and usually comes out of it with some injuries and a bunch of concerned friends and family members telling him to get his act together. Despite all of this, Dick tries his best to stay optimistic. Even in his darkest hour, he can find something worth fighting for and isn't one to just keel over and let things get the best of him. He bounces back from trauma and manages to keep moving forward, and in general comes off as being a pretty put together young man, even if he doesn't always feel that way.
There is not much of a distinction between Dick Grayson and Nightwing, and there wasn't much between Robin and Dick either. As he's a much more lowkey public figure then someone like Bruce or Clark, he's never really seen the need for having an extreme distinction between his heroic identity and his secret one. Dick just sort of does his own thing, and again, it's worked out pretty well for him so far.
Path to Redemption: -----
History: From the get-go, Richard Grayson did not exactly have a normal life. Born to John and Mary Grayson, Dick was raised in a circus. Literally. His parents were acrobats, and the star act of Haly's Circus, and as a future Flying Grayson, Dick started learning how to work in the family business practically since birth. And although it was perhaps an unusual way to spend the first ten or so years of your life, Dick enjoyed it. The circus was like a huge extended family, and he wouldn't trade the experience for anything.
This all came crashing down - quite literally - when the circus stopped in Gotham City. It was supposed to just be another stop on the tour of the east coast, and so when Dick snuck out of his parent’s trailer the night before a show, he hadn’t expected anything out of the ordinary. Instead, he overheard a man he didn’t know threatening Mr. Haly. But, as he was just a kid, he didn't think too much about it until much later. The following night, his parents were killed when the ropes snapped, sending the two plummeting to the ground while Dick watched. Traumatized by the incident and now a material witness in the case against the person who'd ordered the hit, Dick was lost and terrified until Bruce Wayne intervened. Seeing himself in the boy, he adopted him as his ward and life began to stabilize again.
But Dick wasn't happy. Sure, he had a place to sleep and people who fed him routinely, but that didn't replace what he'd lost. Bruce was busy all the time, and Wayne Manor was huge and kind of scary, and Dick suddenly found himself with a lot of time to think about what had happened. He couldn't help but feel responsible. If he had told his parents, or the police, or anybody about what he had witnessed, the murder could have been prevented. This guilt and anger prompted him to act out a little, wandering all over the manor, talking back to Bruce, and sneaking out when no one was looking. He knew it hadn't been an accident, and he was frustrated with the police for not being able to do more to catch his parent's murderer. The only person who seemed to believe him was Batman, who not only knew he'd been looking around the circus, but implied Dick would get a chance to help out when the time was right. But Dick was getting impatient. He wanted justice now.
Finally, one night, he decided to take matters into his own hands. This encounter didn’t exactly go well, ending in him getting concussed before Batman dropped in and disabled the criminals. When Dick next woke up, he was in a sort of bunker, filled with Batman’s equipment, and after snarking at the vigilante, he unmasked and suddenly everything made sense. Bruce offered to train him, and after a few weeks of this, Dick hoped to get the chance to confront the man responsible for his parents death. When he did, Zucco seemed to die of a heart attack while confessing to various crimes, and Dick was lead away from the scene by Batman.
Afterwards, Dick knew he wanted to help Bruce in his war on crime, but the man was reluctant to let the child put himself in danger, even if he was skilled. Despite that, Dick continued training, and occasionally tried to offer his assistance to an ever more frustrated Batman, who was busy trying to sort out the systematic killings done by ‘The Hangman.’ Initially reluctant and put off by the child’s enthusiasm, Bruce came to realize Dick was clever as well as athletically gifted, especially after the boy discovered a key piece of information to the case that Bruce himself had overlooked. The case ended in a spectacular showdown in the Batcave itself with Batman and the newly christened Robin versus the Joker, Two-Face and other villains. After that moment, there was no going back, and so once again his life found routine. Being a vigilante was hard work, dangerous, and Batman wasn’t someone who would accept anything but his best effort. But Dick loved the work, and took to it like a fish to water. Batman and Robin made a good team, and Dick began to view Bruce and Alfred as a surrogate family.
Within the first year though, Dick had his first encounter with the dark side of crime fighting. Two-Face kidnapped Batman, Robin and the new District Attorney and made the pre-adolescent choose which man would die first. After trying to outsmart him, the D.A. was murdered and Dick was beaten to within an inch of his life by Two-Face. He was rescued by Batman, but seeing the child nearly killed in the name of his cause made Bruce realize maybe he'd made a huge mistake. He fired Dick in the interest of keeping him safe, and once again the child suddenly felt like the floor was being ripped out from under him. After his injuries healed, he ran away from Wayne Manor and fell in with a group of child assassins in training lead by a man called Shrike. He realized he was in over his head, but stuck with the case until he and Batman took down the man together. Mentor and protégé reconciled, and Dick once again became Robin.
For a while, the partnership worked well. Dick and Bruce had complementary skills, and while again, Batman was not an easy person to live and work with, Dick enjoyed the work. Bruce and Alfred were his only family, and Robin made him feel like he was making a difference in the world. He had friends in the Teen Titans and the newer addition to the Gotham night life Batgirl, and he quickly grew to be one of the most well respected heroes on the scene.
But as he got older, it started getting clearer to Bruce that maybe this really had been a bad idea, and he'd been right to fire Dick all those years ago. Villains routinely targeted the teenager, knowing that Batman cared about his sidekick like a son, and this just made Bruce's normal desire to control everything get worse. Dick felt smothered, as any teenager would, and as such, tensions began to grow.
Finally, a lucky shot from the Joker caught Dick in the shoulder, sending the young man over the edge of a building. Batman was able to catch him in time, but that was the last straw. Dick had almost died, and Bruce wasn't willing to watch the young man get himself killed in the line of duty. He terminated their partnership, and a hurt Grayson left the manor, once again not sure what to do with himself. After doing some soul searching, and inspired by his old friend and surrogate uncle Superman, Dick adopted the identity of Nightwing and once again returned to hero work, spending most of his time with the Titans.
In the interim, Bruce took in another boy, Jason Todd, this time adopting him rather than just making him his 'ward' and to add insult to injury, seemingly immediately handed over the Robin costume. Dick was hurt, feeling betrayed and replaced, and relations between him and his not technically official surrogate parent were strained for quite some time. Dick's relationship with Jason was similarly not fantastic if only because they didn't spend a lot of time together and Dick was still a little too hurt to make much of an effort to connect with the kid, but when they did cross paths, he grew to like the kid. After all, it wasn't Jason's fault Bruce was kind of an ass.
Any further time to get closer to the would be younger sibling was cruelly cut short when Jason was murdered by the Joker. Bruce blamed himself and immediately fell into an incredibly destructive spiral of depression and rage. Dick kept his distance until he was approached by Tim Drake, who tried to convince him to go back to being Robin in an attempt to stop Bruce's rage. Dick refused to put on the pixie boots again, but agreed to try and help out as Nightwing. Things went south quickly when the two fell into a trap placed by Two Face, but with the timely interference of Tim in the Robin suit, the heroes came out mostly unscathed. After convincing Bruce, Tim began training to be Robin officially, and Dick - although initially a little reluctant - resolved to help out the kid as best he could rather then distancing himself like he'd done with Jason and Tim quickly became the younger brother he'd never had.
Life continued. Drama with the Titans almost tore the team apart, Dick impulsively proposed to his girlfriend only to have the wedding crashed by their demon possessed friend (which effectively destroyed the relationship) and Bruce's back was broken in a fight against Bane. To Dick's immense frustration, Bruce left Gotham to recover and left the mantle of Batman to Jean Paul Valley, once again leaving the former Boy Wonder hurt and angry that Bruce had seemingly overlooked him, even despite his mentor's insistence that he'd done it because he didn't want to interfere in Dick's life too much. Not longer after, the Titans fell apart again, Valley became increasingly unstable and violent and was eventually taken down by a healed Bruce, who then gave the title to Dick while he continued his recovery. The two slowly began to repair their relationship, and Bruce made it clear that he was proud of the boy he'd raised.
A while later, he would find purpose again as the sole protector of Gotham's sister city, Blüdhaven. He would eventually sign on to the city's police force and worked to clean up the incredibly corrupt city while remaining close enough to home to help out in Gotham if needed. Not long afterwards, the Titans reformed again and he once again stepped up to lead the team, even after Gotham was hit by a massive earthquake and Blüdhaven continued to keep him incredibly busy. He somehow managed to hold on to his sanity, even after leading the Justice League for a while and continuing to mend his relationship with Bruce. This would be mostly sorted out when Bruce adopted him as his son, an action that was long overdue, but put off because when Dick had first come to the Manor, he had promised the orphan that he wouldn't try and replace John Grayson. The gesture, while really not changing anything, since the two had clearly considered each other to be family for far longer then the adoption indicated, helped Dick feel like he really had a place in their strange family unit and had something tangible to prove that Bruce cared about him.
But apparently the universe decided that wasn't enough for the vigilante and decided to shake his life up once more. Although the Titans had had their issues over the years, Dick considered the team an extended family of sorts. They had always been there for him, even when Bruce had kicked him out, and some of his teammates he'd been working with since he was a kid. So when an encounter with a confused andriod, followed by a rogue Superman robot landed most of the members of the Titans and Young Justice in the hospital, some seriously injured, and killed Omen and Donna Troy, Dick decided he'd had enough. Donna was like a sister to him, and her death hit him hard. He couldn't justify being in charge of a team where he'd watch his friends get themselves killed anymore. Disillusioned and angry for not being able to do more, he lashed out at Roy and declared that the Titans were finished. For good.
Of course, that seemed to last for all of ten minutes before Roy formed his own team of Outsiders, and Cyborg restarted the Teen Titans to try and give the former members of Young Justice proper mentorship. Dick was eventually talked into joining the Outsiders, but this time he approached the whole 'working on a team thing' as more of a business relationship then a family. He kept his distance and let Roy have his fun playing leader. It wasn't like he wasn't busy enough back home or anything without leading a team of heroes.
And that was pretty much when shit really started to hit the fan. One horrible thing after another started falling on both Dick and Nightwing: Blockbuster started turning his life into a living hell, destroying his apartment building, burning down Haly's Circus, and threatening to murder anyone he was close to. Dick didn't interfere when Tarantula murdered him and subsequently suffered a mental breakdown, during which he was raped by the other vigilante. A gang war called him back to Gotham while still struggling with his guilt about what had happened, and his reckless, self destructive behavior got him shot in the thigh. Jason Todd came back from the dead as a new quasi super villain, Dick took a short break from being a vigilante, quit the Outsiders, adopted the new identity 'Renegade' to infiltrate the Secret Society of Super Villains, and Deathstroke nuked Blüdhaven in revenge for Dick convincing his daughter to fight on the side of good. Devastated, Dick tried to find survivors only to be rescued himself by Batman. He finally owned up about his involvement in Blockbuster's death and was slightly surprised that Bruce wasn't angry with him. Before heading off to try and stop the universe as they knew it getting destroyed, he proposed to Barbara Gordon, who accepted. Although they succeeded in the whole 'saving the universe' thing, Superboy and dozens of others were killed, and Dick himself narrowly survived a near fatal injury during the Battle of Metropolis.
Needless to say, a break sounded like a good idea.
As soon as he was well enough to make the journey, he accompanied Bruce and Tim on a trip around the world to rediscover themselves. He put his engagement with Barbara on permanent hiatus in order to focus on getting back to what was really important. Months of taking it relatively easy and spending time with his family helped pull everything back into order, smoothing out some of his anxieties and in general, he's a little healthier then he was when he left. So now he's back and ready for whatever else the universe (or multiverse, as it were) is ready to dish out at him.
Sample Journal Entry:
[There is a very brief pause before the recording begins as Dick tries to figure out exactly what to say. Starting a completely new record of something isn't exactly as easy as it might seem.]
I can't even tell you how excited I was about this place actually lets you keep audio recordings rather then a journal or something. I've never been able to get into that kind of thing. I mean, believe me, I get the idea that it's smart to keep a record of everything that's going on, but I'm not really a writer. That's sort of ... Literally everyone else's thing. I mean, Alfred's got a diary, Bruce has his files, Babs keeps everything on file, I'm sure Tim's got his own way of organizing his thoughts and stuff. I've just always been a talker, and when you're in a place like this, it's the small things you really come to appreciate.
Anyway. I'm still not sure if this was a good idea. I mean, I didn't really have a better alternative in mind or anything when I made the deal, but what if people need me back in Gotham or something? And it's not like I've never jumped into something and then realizing I was an idiot for not thinking it through more closely.
But considering everything that's happened, with the crisis and - uh [He stops to clear his throat quietly. That's something that still bothers the hell out of him and probably will for quite some time.] Blüdhaven and everything, this seemed like a viable alternative to tripping over Bruce's cape for the rest of my life.
Besides, I'm sure I'll figure out a way to make it work.
No matter how long he had been away from Gotham City, Dick always found there was something nice about coming back to the place. It wasn't quite homey - since god only knew that would never, ever be a word directly associated with Gotham - and sometimes it was sort of hard to feel nostalgic - generally meaning when he'd had an argument with Bruce or Babs or whoever, because damn was it kind of hard to just think back fondly to the days in the short pants and yellow cape when he was pissed off - but there was just something about the place that felt like home. Which again, considering it was Gotham City, might seem kind of weird to the outside observer. Dick was pretty sure the place didn't exactly score particularly high on anyone's list of vacation destinations, unless you were a crazed psychopath who wanted to take advantage of Arkham's revolving door policy.
Still, for whatever reason, as he made his rounds over the familiar rooftops, he found himself wondering once again what exactly it was that made him always just feel so much more at home here then anywhere else he'd ever stayed. Even the 'haven hadn't really compared, and he'd made some real progress there before everything blew up in his face just like it always seemed to.
Maybe it's just because Blüdhaven was so much worse back before Blockbuster's death. Before he'd really just decided he'd had enough. Before Deathstroke had nuked it out of existence. Before all of that. Back when he'd first started, it had seemed like an impossible task to undertake, but for a while, things had been sort of good. And at times like these, when the night was slow and there wasn't much else to do but think about this sort of thing, he couldn't help but wonder if he could have done something to change what had happened.
This part of the job had always been one of the harder ones for Dick. Being out on patrol by himself on a quiet night meant he had a lot of time to sit and think about these things, which was rarely a good thing. Focusing too much on Blockbuster or Tarantula or any of it made him crazy, and when he touched down on the next rooftop he shook himself, trying to get his mind off the past and back on the future.
Which would be a lot easier if something actually was going on tonight, he thought briefly, crouching comfortably on the edge of the building, his eyes focused on
And just like that, Gotham decided to reward him, because any further thought was thankfully interrupted by movement down below, and the vigilante carefully watched as two groups of (relatively) tough looking guys converged on each other in the alley. After pausing a beat, waiting to make sure these people were actually physically thrashing each other (or at least that something actually criminal was going on, it never hurt to double check), he quickly got himself back down to ground level, finishing his descent with an impressive (and maybe just a little dramatic) touchdown in the center of the action, his familiar Ecrisma sticks in hand and ready to go. The small group of thugs just stared, obviously caught off guard. Dick grinned. Showtime.
“Ooh, a party.” The smile widened. “Am I invited?”
Hopefully this would be enough to get his mind off of things he had no control over.
Special Notes: What with the 9000 different versions of this kid's life history in existence (parents dead when he was 8/10/12, met Batman at the scene, met Bruce Wayne at the scene, dumped in orphanage, immediately taken in by Bruce, fired by Batman because he was reckless, fired by Batman because Bruce is a dick, etc. etc.), I've tried to keep him as close to commonly accepted canon as possible, specifically using Dark Victory and Robin: Year One as basis for his early history because it's nice, coherent and not full of ridic contradictions. (Plus it's canon I've actually read and have full access to, rather then just a couple scans and summaries floating around on the internet and therefore feels like a more legitimate source to use.)