“Oh, him? Isn’t he some kind of urban legend?”
Yeah, like Killer Croc is, Dick wants to say but he just shrugs. “I think he’s cool, you know? He gives the criminals what they deserve.”
“Oh, yeah, sounds like fun,” Tony says, rolling his eyes. “More like a nutjob who pops pills and pretends beating people up is fun. Assuming that he even exists, of course.”
“Yeah, okay, Stark,” Dick grins, punching Tony’s shoulder. “Guess this means your Captain America dolls are up for fair game—“
“They are not dolls, they are fully articulated—“
“Action figures designed to give a scaled blah blah blah, yeah I got it.” Dick shrugs and leans back in his chair, balancing effortlessly on the back two legs. “It’s all you ever talk about, new kid.”
“At least he’s real,” Tony says, his words sharp and pointed but his smile softens the blow. Dick smiles back; he doesn’t need Tony’s approval for Batman to be real.
“How long d’you think Goldberg’s gonna keep up here?” Dick wonders, tipping back and forth on his chair.
“As long as it takes for her to call Howard, get her ass fired and stomp her way back here.” Tony pulls out a collapsible wrench and starts fiddling with its joints. “How do you think old shit-for-brains left the school?”
“Uh,” Dick says.
“Yeah. Early retirement my ass.” Toy tries leaning back on his chair too and almost falls on his ass. “Jesus, how do you even do that?” he demands, waving his wrench in Dick’s face. “Did you mod the chair or something?”
“What?” Dick lets the chair fall back on four legs. “Mod what?”
“The chair, stupid,” Tony says, exasperated. “No way you can just do that by yourself. It’s like inhuman.”
“Just cause you can’t do it, doesn’t mean it’s impossible,” Dick points out smugly.
“Blah blah blah,” Tony mocks, expertly flipping his wrench closed and tucking it into his chair. “That’s the kind of crap I hear coming from your mouth right now.”
“Watch it, new kid,” Dick says, but his smile takes the edge off. “So, what’re you doing here anyway? Aren’t you Starks New York royalty or something like that?”
Tony’s face instantly shuts down and Dick knows that it was the wrong question to ask. His shoulders hunch, avoids eye contact, and he starts worrying his bottom lip. Too many tells— Dick kicks the back of his brain that’s thinking, calculating, acting too much like Bruce. He doesn’t need that, not here.
“Hey. You okay?”
“What? Of course I’m okay, why the hell wouldn’t be I okay?” And Tony looks up at him, smiling wolfishly, all teeth and edges and fear coiled up into an angry ball of fourteen.
“Yeah, whatever,” Dick says, dubious. “Anyway, what’s the deal with you being here? Gotham isn’t exactly the nicest place for some rich guy’s kid.”
“Uh, Exhibit A.” Tony points at Dick. “Aren’t you some rich guy’s kid too?”
Dick freezes for a second and lets the comment pass. He forgets, sometimes, that he’s not some regular old circus freak anymore. “No,” he says shortly. “I’m just his ward.”
“What’s the difference?” Tony snorts. “Ward, kid, whatever.”
“Yeah, but Bruce Wayne kind of lives here. Didn’t your Dad move here or something?”
“Not really,” Tony says, practically radiating resentment. “Dad’s still partying it up in fucking New York. Just me, Mom and Jarvis in Gotham."
“Oh,” Dick says and he doesn’t know quite what to say after that.
“Yeah. I know. He’s a shitty Dad, but he has a fuck ton of money so what does it matter?” Tony leans forward and rests his chin on the desk.
“Yeah,” Dick echoes thoughtfully. “I kind of know what you mean.”
“Oh—there she comes.” Tony brightens and he straightens, folding his hands in his lap; the act doesn’t fool anyone. “Hello, Mrs. Goldberg? How are you? Isn’t the weather absolutely lovely? Oh, did you get a new hairdo—I love the highlights in your hair, it brings out the color in your—“
“Get out, Stark,” Mrs. Goldberg says from the doorway, hands on her hips. Her chalky red lips are pursed over her yellow teeth and she gives the two of them a beady glare. “You too, Grayson. And I don’t want to see you here for the rest of the year, you understand me?”
“Of course, Mrs. Goldberg, it’s really lovely of you—“
Dick rolls his eyes and kicks Tony’s shin. “Seriously, cut that out. It’s creepy.”
Tony bats his eyes innocently at him. “Oh whatever do you mean, Dickie-poo?”
Dick looks up at Mrs. Goldberg apologetically and hauls Tony up to his feet. “Sorry, ma’am. I think he was dropped on his head a few too many times when he was young.”
“You’re just jealous you don’t have my feminine wiles—“ Dick steps on Tony’s foot and drags him out the door.
“It was so nice to meet you, Goldberg darling,” Tony shouts down the hallway and Dick grins. New kid wasn’t so bad. Mouthy, a little too fond of his collapsible wrench, but not a bad kid altogether.
"Hey, you wanna go shoot some hoops after class?"
"Cool," Tony says casually, but his bright eyes betray his voice. "I'd like that."