boy wonder

part one

For Richard Grayson, dreams weren't always pleasant. It didn't always mean nightmares, though those did make a fair amount of appearances as well. Living in Gotham and having his experiences, it was difficult for Dick to not be haunted by certain things, but he'd gotten to be known for his upbeat attitude and cheerful spirit; someone who could take situations as seriously as possible when needed, but knew how to not only flip that switch on and off, but remain a friend as well as a leader. But his dreams were a tangled mess of memories that he didn't often think about in his daily life and was forced to confront in his sleep. But he managed.

After witnessing the death of both of his parents and being taken in by Bruce, he lived in fought in Gotham and Bludhaven, witnessing and experiencing things that could break a person with less resolve. Fighting Gotham's villain's, fuck, he had his own personal nemesis and having done that from childhood was a lot to handle. It was difficult for Dick to imagine any other life and that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. He'd approached his job and duties from different angles, he'd taken on numerous roles and aliases, but it all came back to his parents' murder and having a little too much in common with Bruce Wayne.

A key factor for him, however, was that he didn't let those dreams, memories, or experiences slow down his waking life. He handled everything and properly dealt with it (somehow managing to escape Bruce's tendency to suppress, repress, and altogether handle emotions poorly, throughout the years of Bruce raising him), so it certainly made a huge part of him, but Dick didn't let it define him. Tragedy seemed to follow him since he was a child, but there was also endless amounts of good in his life. He had family that came in multiple forms; his family at Wayne Manor, various teams he'd been on over the years, and his own birth family, of course, not to be forgotten. Found family had quickly become the theme in a young Dick Grayson's life and he was certainly more than okay with that. There wasn't much about life that Dick could, or would, complain about; he was lucky on so many fronts, in so many ways, that there really was no reason to complain.

(Or, really, very few or little reasons, but it wasn't in his nature to dwell or complain. Handle things. Deal with them. Move forward. Do his best to do any and all of these things, even if it meant messing up. He messed up a fair amount.)

Dick Grayson appeared to have everything and Nightwing was a hero in his own right. It worked. But all of that came with its own set of sacrifices and complications and problems and, no, he was nowhere near perfect, nor did he want or pretend to be. He'd spent his youth and young adulthood training, growing, and adapting to whatever challenges he'd encountered and handled them with ease, with a family that loved and cared for him, and a life that he enjoyed. He was born to be a hero and a series of circumstances had set into motion the ability to actually become one. The image the world had of him -- of him being the perfect hero, the golden boy, the one who was born into this role and lifestyle. People relied on him for that, so he often pushed his own pain aside to focus on that.

It wasn't ignoring it, it was refocusing it and using it for motivation to do and be better.

part two

He was Bruce's son until he wasn't.

He was a ladies' man, nobody could deny that, but if -- when, actually -- Dick settled, he could be a hopeless romantic. Really, he was a hopeless romantic all of the time, but that, it seemed, was entirely different from being a devoted partner. But at the end of the day, he had, what he could consider, two great loves. He'd been with other women, he'd loved other women, his entire relationship history was a mess... for a lot of reasons, some he could justify, some he couldn't. As level-headed as Dick could be, it was what made him a good leader, he often followed his heart and was willing to deal with the consequences and the rebuilding himself. His willingness to have his heart on his sleeve and be open with his emotions, thoughts, and feelings were some of the thing that separated him from Bruce.

Dick was the oldest of the Batboys and the people of Gotham had spent years watching him grow up. He played his roles, just as Bruce taught him, and developed a reputation throughout Gotham, in and out of the costume. He played the part -- brilliant, charming, likable -- more down-to-earth than his foster father, and he played it well. He wooed the ladies' similiarly to Bruce and it was easy enough of an act to convey. While he wasn't... well, Bruce, it was easy enough to portray the image of being Bruce's son to the rest of the world. It was part of the act, part of keeping some sense of normalcy, and it was difficult for most people to imagine that the Waynes were anything other than disgustingly rich, a little arrogant, and living proof of something of Gotham's past that didn't quite fit in with the present. They were gifted for humans beyond what was really believable and pushed themselves to their limits.

But, Dick wasn't Bruce.

For every quality and piece of history Dick and Bruce shared -- witnesses to their parents deaths, heroes born out of tragedy, natural born charmers, founders of their own teams-- Dick had worked to set himself apart from Bruce. Bruce's darkness made Dick embrace life and happinesss. While Bruce fell into his past and couldn't escape it, Dick always pressed foreward and used it as a reason to hold on so tightly and deeply to the good in their world, reminded him that it was always worth fighting to protect. Bruce drowned in his sadness and frustrations, chasing demons he'd never fully allow himself to escape. Dick mourned and grieved and allowed himself to find some peace. Bruce was a loner by nature, where Dick thrived around people.

For all of the things he'd taught Dick, Dick had taken it to heart and learned to do it a little differently.

part three

It had taken Dick some time to know and accept that the dreams -- the nightmares -- could be worked through, they didn't have to haunt him. That his physical and mental suffering didn't define him or decide who he was going to be; where he was going to go. The villains that defined his waking life often crept into his sleeping one, sometimes leaving him with restless nights for days on end. These had been a part of him for as long as he could remember and, really, they'd never fully go away even if he hung up the cowl for good. They did define him, in some ways, but they didn't have to dictate the directions his life went in.

So, he learned to work with them and through them as best as he could, pushing himself forward so he didn't fall into the same place Bruce did, angry at the world and distant from others due to the things that haunted him. Bruce had family and friends, sure, but Dick sometimes wondered how much Bruce could have if he let himself move forward even more.

So Dick pushed through with a genuine smile and optimistic approach to life, embrace everything and everyone around him as much as he could. There were some parts of fate he certainly couldn't escape, but he refused to believe that fate couldn't, sometimes, be redefined.