Fearful Symmetry: Character Notes
Dick Grayson

by 'rith

Blathery Dick meta for Fearful Symmetry: How this version of Dick came to be, chronicled for my own amusement and the possible edification of others.

Typically, I had just made a comment elsewhere [http://www.livejournal.com/users/evadne_/334455.html] about not being inspired to write Dick for the Fearful Symmetry 'verse because he's *not* Our Dick Grayson, the one raised by the Bat and who had the formative relationships with the Titans and Kory and so forth, when the idea for "Blue-Eyed Boy" hit me. Go figure.

But it didn't come out of nowhere. There was a lot (" ") of chat about Dick in the FS'verse between me and anyone I could shanghai into talking about it. Also typically, I write nothing without it having been discussed nearly into irrelevance.

Establishing facts: Bruce wasn't at the circus the night Dick's parents were killed. Batman tracked down Tony Zucco and Harvey Dent prosecuted the case. Bruce Wayne wrote a big check to the orphan (into a trust fund administered by the Wayne Foundation) and that was the end of that as far as they were concerned.

As for Dick himself...

The first rule was, this is a Bruce/Harvey story above all and everyone else is secondary. There were many, many ways that Dick could have entered the story (some noted below), but right off I knew I wanted this to be a World Without Dick, at least as far as the main storyline went. He'd inevitably show up, but not as a primary character.

That also means that this is not going to suddenly evolve into a Bruce/Dick 'verse, if anyone was curious. Dick is straight. Really. Yes, really.

(Does it follow then that this is a Dick/Babs 'verse? TBD. I'm still working out Barbara's history. It's possible, but on some level I'm not sure I care; they're not *Our Dick* and *Our Babs* and a romance between virtual OCs doesn't really appeal to me. But nothing's decided. [The girlfriend mentioned in "Blue-Eyed Boy" is not Babs; they haven't met yet.])

So what became of Dick after the circus? What would he grow up to be?

The first thought, and the one that stuck around for a while, was that he'd become a Gotham cop. There's a bit of Two Men's Land fic that needs to be rewritten now, because it was based off that idea and I've jossed myself. But it seemed solid; we all like Dick as an agent of justice, and there was no reason he *couldn't* become a cop. Possibly after either Jim or Barbara Gordon got hold of him in his juvenile-delinquent phase and smacked sense into him. In essence, Babs found Dick hanging out at the library because it was a warm quiet place and dragged him home. I had a "what if Jim adopted him" note in there, too.

*glances over old chat* Oh, man, there was a bit about him possibly becoming a vigilante under Helena's tutelage, too. And Babs and Helena working together.

But...in any AU, there's a balance between wanting to see all the characters you know in similar roles with similar relationships, and the need to make it *different* enough to really be AU. Would it really be organic for Dick to end up in a place so close to canon? How small *is* the world?

More to the point, would Dick still come to the idea of being a cop, much less a vigilante, without Bruce's influence? The vigilante bits in particular became less plausible once it was established how aggressively Batman "dissuaded" other heroes from working in his town.

Other briefly random ideas: He could have turned to petty crime via his juvie background, but that's really more Jason's story. I was really amused by the idea of a Dick Grayson who admires Harvey Dent for his prosecution of his parents' killer, and who would think--if he ever met Batman--that the man was a dangerous psycho. Ironical, see. So there was brief flirting with the idea of Dick as a junior prosecutor in Harvey's office.

Here's the thing, though. Dick is plenty intelligent, no one has any doubts about that. But without Bruce's teaching, I don't necessarily see Dick driven to *apply* his intelligence unless pushed. He's not like Babs and Tim; he's smart, but not innately motivated to use his brain. Sort of the same way that he can be "yay, justice" without automatically being destined to become a cop or a masked hero.

(*refrains from launching into rambling treatise about Dick's inherent nature vs. Dick-as-shaped-by-Batman*)

But he's got these intrinsic mad physical skill(z). When the Olympics idea first came up, my initial reaction was "cliché!" because it's almost the classic AU track. Dannell wrote that story [http://www.offpanel.net/dannell/NoBruce.htm], as have others. But sometimes clichés are clichés *because* they're so logical.

So with all THAT in mind, here's how Dick's FS backstory plays out. As noted, most of this came out of chat with Domenika.

Dick Grayson, orphan. He gets thrown into the long process of foster care and is very, very lucky; he's taken in by an older woman who's already raised a horde of kids and always has a couple more underfoot. Think "Jo's Boys," maybe. Still, he's too wild to settle down easily and school is *boring*; he's alternately the performing class clown (looking for the applause of the crowd) and the delinquent loner. The school counselor, tired of reports of his restlessness and absences, suggests that perhaps Dick has ADHD and recommends medicating him.

His foster mother, who may not be a rocket scientist but still knows better, enrolls him in a local gymnastics program. And that's when everything changes. Energy properly channeled, Dick's schoolwork improves; he's never an outstanding student, but gets solid grades. And he can *fly* when he needs to.

His talent ensures him entrance to Penn State via full gymnastics scholarship; Bruce's money just allows him to have his choice of schools, and he prefers to stick close to home. He's on an Olympic track from virtually the moment the coach at the local club saw him in motion. At the time of "Blue-Eyed Boy," he really is what he looks like: a 20-year-old Olympic shoo-in looking for a career that'll give him security once the roar of the crowd fades. I know what he's going to be doing in Two Men's Land, courtesy of a brilliant brainstorm by Chicago.

Beyond that? TBD.

One more thing: Chicago gave me the line, "There *is* no younger model," which I adore because it works on a multitude of levels.

Not the least of which is, of course, that Bruce is completely wrong.


Addendum: August 2008 livejournal commentary. Dick and the Olympics:

In Fearful Symmetry: Blue-Eyed Boy, I wrote:

"You *do* watch television, don't you?" Harvey puts in, the teasing in his voice directed as much at Dick as at Bruce. His hand is still on Dick's back. "This young man helped the USA win the silver at the World Championship and is going to bring home the gold next Olympics. Rings, that's your specialty, right?"

Before Dick can answer, Bruce snaps his fingers as memory clicks into place. "Gymnastics, that's right. Very impressive performance." Of course. That explains the toned body beneath the casual suit--off the rack and not really of the same caliber as the rest of the crowd's attire. But then, he supposes, Olympic athletes compete for the love of the game, not money. At least in theory.

"Thanks," Dick says to Bruce, and shifts slightly to face them both so that Harvey's hand has to fall away as he answers. "Rings, yeah. I'm not too bad on the parallel bars, either."

...man, I was off. Now having watched a good part of this year's Olympics, I must revise.

Dick is 20 years old at the time of that AU fic; was I way underestimating his achievements at that point? I'm looking at the ages of the Olympic gymnasts and it's a striking contrast: the women are 16 and older (...barring questions of legitimate passports); the youngest of the men is 23. Judging by their histories, it's not unreasonable for Dick's first Olympics to be at 22-23, but he certainly would have won numerous Championship and World Cup medals before then.

So maybe the age is all right. But the events aren't.

In all events Dick gets the best results out of his dismounts. Perhaps his greatest strength is that he's utterly immune to the effects of pressure, and the more crowded the exhibition is, the more he loves it.

His greatest flaw is that he's a performer above all, and that sometimes gets in the way of technical precision. The crowd loves it, but when he chooses flair over perfection, he gets dinged for it by the judges. In fact, if he's starting "later" than he should, it's because the coaches and teams didn't quite trust him to stick to the rules when he was younger.

I think early on, his coaches nearly despaired of Dick ever really getting to the Olympics. Pure amazing talent, but very little interest in following the rules. The key was a coach finally pinpointing what was important to *Dick*: "You want to entertain the crowd? You know what entertains them the most? HIGH SCORES." And you can't get those scores without discipline.

He also got in a lot of trouble during his teenage years because of his attitude; he was dismissed because he didn't take it "seriously," goofing off during practices and warm-ups and doing outrageous moves to play to the crowd. He's gotten better since, mostly controls himself at meets and saves the off-routine moves for his own time and non-meet exhibitions.

He competes in all events, and does so under the name Richard Grayson.

Floor: His least favorite exercise, because seriously, who wants to be on the ground that long? He compensates by throwing himself into the air as hard and as often as possible, which ironically nets him great scores. He's *graceful* as well as athletic, and does a better job than the usual perfunctory hops and brief awkward transition moves. It sort of drives him nuts that he scores so well here, because it means he can't drop the event! :D

Pommel Horse: He's not afraid of it, so that puts him ahead of a lot of other male gymnasts. He's very fast, too. OTOH, he thinks it's completely boring--round and round on the hands, yawn.

Rings: All about strength. He's got plenty, but his upper body strength isn't his greatest strength. And he'd rather leave it to those who *like* holding one position for entire seconds on end.

Vault: He's awesome at it...when he's concentrating. Too quick to really be fun as far as he's concerned, but it involves launching him into the air, doing showy turns, and making dramatic landings, so he's a star here.

Parallel Bars: Parallel is weird: the bars aren't high enough to do great jumps off of, and they're too close together to do interesting swings between them. But within the limitations he flies around the bars.

The truth is, he secretly casts a lot of envious glances over at the women's uneven bars, because that's where he really wants to play.

High Bar: His premiere event, where his inner daredevil comes out. HUGE routines, death-defying relases, and as near to flight as he can get.

There's really no reason to write fic about it any more than this*, but I'm amused. :)

* I mean, for me. Y'all should feel encouraged to do so!

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