Dick had never had toys before, not when he was growing up.
He'd never needed them.
He had a circus, and what the circus gave him was better than any kind of toy. He could visit elephants and tigers and lions, joke with clowns and maybe even juggle with them. He knew how the sword act worked and he knew the marksman, had played those kinds of games at times.
His favorite games were the ones he'd played with his parents, the ones that let him fly. He had been in the air more than he was on the ground. That was what he knew, the way he wanted it to be. He had never known anything better than flying with his parents. They trusted each other, knew that none of the others would ever let them fall.
He winced, forcing his eyes shut and refusing to think about them falling. He hadn't been a part of the finale. If he had been, he'd have died with them, but that last flip was theirs, and it had taken them away from him.
He sighed, looking across the room. He'd been taken in by Bruce Wayne, and he could have any toy he wanted. He'd been given several already out of someone's misguided idea that he was still a boy who needed toys and playthings.
They sat on the shelves or in the box at the foot of his bed. He didn't need or want them.
The only toys he wanted were the ones he grew up with, and they were gone forever.
“It's not a toy.”
Clint glared at Trickshot again. He was so sick of hearing this. He knew that the bow wasn't a toy. He had known it wasn't one long before he ever had one of his own, before he started training with Trickshot. He knew that his talent wasn't just for some side show in a carnival. As much as Trickshot kept talking about his talent, he was going to make use of it, but Clint wasn't stupid.
He'd been stupid when he trusted Swordsman, when he thought that the man would teach him things he could use to support himself, to be good at something and a part of the circus. He didn't understand that the man was two steps away from the monster and that he'd fallen all the way down when the Graysons intervened. If Swordsman had just been a thief, it would have been different.
He'd become a murderer, and he'd taken everything Clint had from him, everything but Barney.
And Barney, for all that he'd fussed and stalked and kept Clint under watch and key for the first few months after Clint almost died, was now back doing what he'd done before then—disappearing for hours or even days, always for “work.” He claimed they needed the money, and it was true because ever since the Graysons died, they'd struggled to find a place for Trickshot's show, and even though Barney thought Clint didn't know about it, he'd heard them arguing about Trickshot's gambling.
Clint knew he only had a little while longer before he was going to use his bow as the weapon it was, and while he was ready to use it against Swordsman, he knew that wasn't what Trickshot had in mind. He didn't know what the other man was going to want, but he did know it wouldn't be good.
“I got you something.”
Dick didn't look up from his book, even though he wasn't reading it. “I told you and Alfred that I didn't need any toys, and that hasn't changed. I don't need toys. I don't want them.”
“You said there was something worth living for,” Dick interrupted. “I've been here for months now, and you still haven't proved that to me. If you think you can do that with toys, you're wrong. I only ever wanted to fly with my parents. Doing our acts, being on the trapeze—that was my life. I didn't ever need anything more than that.”
Wayne's words were an accusation, and Dick glared at him. “Fine, I did. I needed Clint's friendship. And one time I 'borrowed' some eskrima sticks from Swordsman, but that wasn't a need. I just needed my family.”
Wayne's smile was amused, and it unsettled Dick, making him want to crawl back against the headboard or maybe run out of his room, even if his guardian was between him and the door. Something about Batman smiling was just wrong.
“Here,” Wayne said, holding out a set of sticks to him, and Dick frowned, wondering who had told Batman that he liked them, because he'd never mentioned it before today. “This is the start of the proof.”
Dick crawled over to take the stick from him. He thumbed over the engraving, frowning. “You always call me Dick. Why mark it with the initial for a name only Alfred ever uses?”
Wayne shook his head. “It's not for Richard. It's for Robin.”
Dick pressed his eyes shut, hearing his mother call him by her favorite nickname for him, the teasing smile she wore when she said, the way she ruffled his hair. Come fly with us, Robin. We belong to the sky.
“I don't know how you knew about that, either, but you can stop now. You can't buy me with toys. Even if they're weapons, not toys.”
“You miss the sky.”
Dick stared at him, and then he understood. Batman could give him back the sky. He couldn't bring back his family, but he just might make it so Dick could fly again. It wouldn't ever be the same, but it might still be worth it.
He clutched the sticks to his chest. “Thank you.”
“Got you something, kid.”
Clint looked up at Trickshot when he came into the hotel room. He'd given up on trying to ignore the smell hours ago, and he swore he'd always remember the stink of this place, that it was down in his bones. “I thought we were broke.”
“Not too broke to get you the right equipment. Your old bow wasn't nearly good enough. Just think of what you can do with this one,” Trickshot said, proudly holding it out to Clint.
Yeah, Clint thought. I can kill with it.