His parents have the safety net set up this morning, which is odd until his dad turns and says, “So how about it, Dickie? You ready to give it a try?”
The smile on his father’s face is broad the way it is every matinee and evening after he kisses Dick on the forehead before he leaves to climb the same pole Dick’s mother is halfway up right now. She pauses in her ascent and waves, one arm swinging freely enough that Dick swears he can see the pole sway with it. He’d be a little scared, except she’s his mom, and she does this every day, and soon he will, too. Even though he’s never held it, he can already feel the weight of the trapeze bar under his hands, and he can feel the push of the platform under his feet, too, solid and grounding and—
“Whoa, there.” His father is laughing as his hands catch Dick around the waist. He lifts Dick up until it’s the metal climbing rungs, not the wood of the pole, that Dick finds himself gripping, hands and also feet. His father pushes him up a little, says, “Be careful, son. I know you’re excited,” and that’s all Dick hears because he is.
Climbing the pole isn’t scary, not even near the top. His feet don’t slip and his hands hold strong, and when he scrambles onto the platform, it’s with arms and legs that are only shaking a little bit. His father is right behind him, and he looks proud, like he does when Dick does something new and right. It takes him a few minutes to pull the trapeze in, but then he’s guiding it into Dick’s hands, and it’s wonderful. It’s heavier than Dick expected, larger because he’d overestimated the size of his own palms (he always does, in his daydreams; he’s well aware that flying means being older and bigger than he is now, except today he is turning six, and that is suddenly, thrillingly old and big enough). Dick can feel the grain of the wood in the bar when he flexes his fingers on it, the U-shaped warmth of his father reaching around his arms to help him pull it back. It feels right.
His father tilts Dick’s head so he’s focused on his mother and says, “Just swing to her, and don’t be afraid to fall if you need to.”
Dick nods, and then his father steps back and Dick steps forward until they are each on an edge of the platform, only this time, it's Dick who has the trapeze in his grip and his mother in his sights across the open space of the upper circus. He is very high up, so his stomach is in the smallest of knots and he can hear his own breaths like an echo in his head. He counts them, one—two—three, and then he steps off, because he’s a Grayson, and even at just-turned-six-today, there was never any chance he wouldn’t.
It’s not like what his parents do. He’s in the air for maybe twenty seconds, moving more slowly than his parents ever would. He looks across at his mother and never looks down. He holds the bar tight and doesn’t let go, not to jump or fall or anything. He’s never free in the air, never just him and wind and moving space, not like he can barely stand waiting to learn how to be.
But it’s also the closest he’s been to that. He’s tumbled but never climbed, turned cartwheels and handsprings but never significantly jumped, and now he has, earlier than he’d ever hoped to do. When his feet touch wood again, it seems like the whole tent cheers. His mother hugs him close before the trapeze can swing him back out, and all he can do is grin and say, “Thank you,” over and over. All he can think is that this, now that he’s been given it, is something he’ll never, ever give up.
Eppy, your real, new birthday fic should hopefully be finished and up soon; my apologies that it's already so horribly belated. Hope you still enjoy this!
Other things to come later: a real update post, because one of my other resolutions was to start using this like an actual journal.