Bruce Wayne had agreed to fund a charity event in a Hallie's Circus. Of course, that was before he realized he would be given a free ticket to the show. Why not go? It should have been fun.
It was true he did enjoy the first half of the show. Seeing a circus was a rather nice contrast to his usual nighttime activities. Bruce was straining his neck staring up at the acrobats flipping and dancing high above the audience. One of them was a kid, around 12 or so, doing a fantastic job.
Bruce smiled seeing how much fun the boy was having. So young and full of joy and energy. The child was careful, sure. But with his loving family he flipped and swung not a care in the world.
When's the last time I was that carefree? That happy? wondered Bruce. Was I ever? Definitely not since my parents died all those years ago…
Someone's voice came over the loudspeaker. "Famous for performing acrobatics without the aid of a safety net, may I introduce, The Flying Graysons!"
Bruce clapped and tried to ignore the poor grammar. All the acrobats except the two parents and child left as the safety net below was untied and moved away. Bruce wondered if it was legal for the boy to perform without a safety net, until their performance started and Bruce saw the youngest Grayson was not in the dangerous tricks.
Bruce smiled and continued to enjoy their show. It was quite a nice night in Gotham for Bruce.
That's when the unthinkable happened. The ropes on the trapeze came loose while the mother and father were mid swing. Bruce saw the scene unfold in slow motion. Two Graysons falling through the air until they finally hit the hard ground, while the son's soul splitting scream filled the air.
Bruce sat stunned, unable to move, or really think. Horrible flashbacks came back to him, but he forced them out. He wasn't the important one at that moment. Two acrobats lay dead on the ground. In the center of a circus.
"Noooooo!" screamed their son. Bruce's heart ripped in two. This couldn't be happening. It shouldn't be happening. But it was happening. Bruce was watching another kid in the same position as he was, so many years ago.
The difference was Bruce had been alone with his parents on a cold dark night. They walked through an empty alley to catch a cab. The only witness had been a random street kid hidden on a fire escape. She had grown up to be Catwoman/his on-off lover, but that was beside the point.
The Graysons had been killed in front of an entire circus audience. And their son was on display for the entire horrified crowd.
Bruce Wayne had been a witness! How was he supposed to live with himself having watched it happen? Part of the reason he'd become Batman was so he could prevent a tragedy like the one that happened to him from happening to anyone else. Yet here he was looking at another orphan who'd watched his parents die when he was a child.
Someone pulled the boy away while others ushered people out of the seats. Bruce knew it wasn't his fault, but he couldn't do nothing. He had to be the hero Gotham deserved all the time. That night he knew he had to be whatever the boy needed.
He ran through his head everything that happened that night after his parents were killed. He'd called 911, the cops showed up, he sat in the corner crying and then...
He stopped when he got to the part where Jim had shown up.
Bruce wasn't leaving. He quietly and quickly slipped out of the crowd and waited in a dark corner. The chaotic crowd continued to empty out. Bruce scanned the circus for the boy. He knew someone needed to talk to the young Grayson.
A/N So this story is going to be a series of little snippets of Bruce raising Dick Grayson in the Gotham universe. I'm tempted to use the term "oneshot" but they are connected to eachother and supposedly happened in A Visit To Tomorrow but don't think you need to read that story to understand any of these.
Also, only half the chapter copy and pasted the first time so this is re-uploaded. That's why you might've seen a similar story with the same description but a different title, which has now been deleted.