A/N: Magi-of-Luin drew the most INCREDIBLE sixteen-page (full colour!) YJ comic for the exchange I did with her. Young Justice fans should absolutely check it out. It's on her tumblr page, Moogle-of-the-valley, and I am posting the link in my profile. I'm hoping fans will go over there and encourage her to do more YJ comics! ;D
"The only thing that makes life unfair is the delusion that it should be fair." Steve Maraboli.
The voice penetrating the recesses of Robin's consciousness was loud and made his ears hurt. Really hurt. He wanted to tell it to shut up but he seemed to have temporarily lost that ability. And what the hell was that buzzing?
He groaned. What was this guy's problem?
"Dude, are you…? Aqualad, Aqualad! I think he's waking up!"
Hang on! Robin knew that voice. Images swirled into focus, the closest of which was green eyes hovering directly in front of his face.
"Finally!" the eyes exclaimed.
"Wall-ly?" Robin rasped. And oh dear God, what was that pain?
The eyes blinked. "Uh, yeah. Who else would it be?"
Robin didn't know. Robin didn't care, because something freaking hurt. His body was screaming at him – pain, pain, pain! Until at last his brain seemed to grasp the message his body was sending; something was wrong with his left arm.
Rolling his head to the side – why was he on the ground? – Robin sucked in a breath when he caught sight of his mangled limb. The arm was twisted at a grotesque, unnatural angle and his shoulder was sitting lower than it should have been. Huh. Dislocated and broken. That was a first.
He shifted slightly, causing his arm to spasm excruciatingly, and to his utter mortification he actually whined.
So not cool.
"Mammoth pulled it right out of its socket when he grabbed you," Wally told him, wincing. "I heard it pop."
"Mammoth?" Robin managed. His arm was utter agony, his head ached and something was still buzzing. It kind of made him wish he could pass out.
Wally nodded. "Dude, what were you thinking going after him like that? I mean, that move was awesome and everything, but so dumb."
Robin stared at him. Mammoth? He'd gone after Mammoth? Wally was right, that was dumb. Batman would not be pleased.
The thought of the lecture that lay ahead made him groan, and in an instant Wally was nose to nose with him, babbling loudly. "Dude, what is it? Where else hurts? Why aren't you saying anything? Oh my God! Yourenotbraindamagedareyou?!"
"Kid Flash, perhaps you should give him some breathing room?" a quiet voice interjected, and Aqualad's face swam into view as Wally pulled back.
"Sorry," muttered the speedster sheepishly.
The older teenager knelt on Robin's other side and addressed him calmly. "Do you have any other injuries aside from your arm?"
"M'head hurts. And buzzing."
"My ears." Robin rubbed at his right ear. He had just realized that Aqualad sounded somewhat distant, as if he was talking to him from far away.
"You were caught in the blast radius after you pulled the bomb out of the volcano. The buzzing may be a side effect of that."
Robin gaped at him. He'd pulled a bomb out of a volcano?! Why the heck didn't he remember that?
Aqualad narrowed his eyes. "You do not remember?"
Robin shook his head, trying to remember what had happened. His last clear memory was of breakfast that morning. Or at least, he hoped it was that morning.
Aqualad looked concerned. "We will transport you back to the cave as soon as we are finished rounding up the last of the cultists."
And then Aqualad's concern morphed into a stern expression. "Robin, what you did with Mammoth was extremely reckless. If it were not for Superboy, your injuries would have been far worse."
Robin squirmed under his displeased gaze. Wasn't it a little unfair to lecture him about something he didn't even remember? Okay, maybe taking on Mammoth hadn't been his smartest move, but he must have had a good reason for it. And if he'd pulled a bomb out of a volcano than he'd clearly done something right…right?
"Aqualad," Artemis' voice sounded from somewhere behind Robin's head, "we've got the last of the cultists, but Kobra is gone."
Kobra. A brief image of Batman briefing them on Kobra flashed into his brain, but it was gone before Robin could get anything tangible from it. He scowled. Amnesia was so not fun.
Aqualad sighed. "That is unfortunate. Has Miss Martian called the bio-ship?"
"It's landing now. Should I get the stretcher?"
"I don't need a stretcher!" Robin protested at once. He moved to sit up, only to have the world churn sickeningly. Bright lights flashed before his eyes and fiery agony roared up his arm. When the world tunnelled back to him, Robin was flat on his back gasping while Artemis stood over him.
She smirked from her upside-down angle. "I guess that's a yes on the stretcher then?"
"Yes," said Aqualad, the frown he shot Robin telling him he didn't have a choice in the matter. "But first, we need to immobilize that shoulder and splint his arm for transport."
"Can't you just relocate my shoulder?" asked Robin in a small voice. The pain was getting worse and performing a reduction might alleviate some of it.
Aqualad shook his head. "I am sorry, Robin, but given the break to your arm it would be unwise to do so without x-rays."
"Great." Robin sighed. The ride back to Mount Justice would be hell, and he'd have Batman's lecture to look forward to at the end of it.
"Here's M'gann with the first aid kit," Artemis interjected, looking over her shoulder.
Wally and Aqualad immediately followed her gaze, but Robin didn't even try: he'd already learned his lesson about not moving.
"Is Robin alright?" he heard M'gann ask anxiously.
"He will be fine once we get him back to the cave," Aqualad replied. "Where is Superboy?"
"Securing Mammoth. The League are on their way to bring him in." Miss Martian appeared in Robin's line of sight and handed Aqualad the first aid kit, then smiled comfortingly at Robin.
He tried to smile back, but it came out as more of a grimace. His arm was going into spasm again and…ow! Ow! OW! The fingers of his good arm scrabbled reflexively in the dirt as he tried not to arch his back against the pain.
"Robin, are you ready?" asked Aqualad, pulling splints and bandages from the first aid kit.
"Give it…a minute," he ground out.
Eventually, the paroxysms stopped and Robin unclenched his teeth. Head aching and feeling more than a little sick, he nodded at Aqualad. "Okay, I'm ready."
"I'll be careful," Aqualad tried to reassure him.
It didn't help. Robin knew that no matter how careful Aqualad was, immobilizing his shoulder was going to hurt. Balling his right hand into a fist, he looked away as Aqualad started to splint his arm. Wally, who was still kneeling on his other side, patted his good shoulder comfortingly.
Robin gave him a weak smile and then cried out as the nerves in his shoulder twanged. Scrunching his eyes shut, he tried to access some of the meditation techniques that Batman had taught him to deal with pain, but he was too wound up to focus.
Something soft was placed in the gap between his injured arm and side; Aqualad was getting ready to immobilize his shoulder. Robin tried to remain limp as strapping was slid into place beneath him.
Just breathe, he reminded himself, as the first strap came up around his chest to hold his shoulder in place and pain shivered through him. He had to force himself not to instinctively lash out at Aqualad.
"I am almost finished, Robin," said their leader gently. "Just another minute."
"Uh-huh," he managed. Crap, this hurt!
Robin kept his eyes closed and his teeth gritted as the older boy finished securing the other straps. When at last he heard Aqualad's voice telling him they were done, he exhaled and opened his eyes.
So never doing that again.
Aqualad was hovering over him, his face pulled tight in anxiety. "I am sorry if that hurt you."
"S'okay," Robin mumbled. It wasn't like Aqualad had had a choice.
"I am going to have Miss Martian levitate you onto the stretcher, Robin. It may be less painful for you."
Robin grimaced. When had they fetched the stupid stretcher? But he supposed that at this point, whatever hurt less was a bonus. He braced himself as M'gann raised her hand and his body was raised onto the stretcher. The motion made him feel like he might throw up.
And then M'gann was levitating the stretcher into the air, but not even the gentle movement of her telekinesis was enough to prevent the world from listing crazily. Robin's stomach lurched as nausea roared through him, and he only just turned his head to the side in time to avoid vomiting on himself. As he retched over the edge of the stretcher, the movement caused long spikes of pain to splinter horribly in his shoulder before reverberating down his arm. His head was throbbing and he could barely hear what Wally was yelling over the buzzing in his ears.
Agony sharpened its teeth on his shoulder, biting down hard and sending waves of raw pain across the ravaged nerves of his arm. White light exploded across his vision before the pain died down, leaving nothing but darkness behind.
Robin opened his eyes to stark white and utter silence. After several seconds of blinking confusedly, he realized what he was staring at; the ceiling in the medical bay at Mount Justice.
Uh, why was he in the med bay?
Disjointed images flickered through his brain; he'd been lying on the ground, something about Mammoth…
"Robin," said a deep, familiar voice to his left, and he turned his head to find Batman sitting in a chair by his bed.
Pain flooded his arm and it all came rushing back to him. "You're not going to yell at me, are you?" Robin didn't think he could take a lecture right now.
"Do you deserve to be yelled at?"
His mentor stared at him with a focus only Batman could give. "You don't sound very certain."
"That's because I'm not really sure what happened," Robin admitted, trying to ignore the deep pain vibrating through his arm.
Batman frowned. "Aqualad mentioned that you appeared to be having some memory problems. How much do you remember?"
"I remember waking up on the ground and everything that happened right up to when I passed out again, but I don't remember much after–" Robin paused as fragmented memories of being wracked with pain and Wally's panicked speech wafted through his head. "Uh…actually, I think I might remember the bio-ship."
"You woke up on the bio-ship, but Aqualad had to sedate you. You were disoriented and kept trying to get up. He was concerned about nerve damage to your shoulder."
"There isn't any, is there?" asked Robin anxiously. Long-term damage could put an end to Robin, and to acrobatics in general.
Batman shook his head. "Thanks to Aqualad's first aid, you were spared any lasting effects – although you still needed surgery to repair the rotator cuff and some torn ligaments. And you suffered a mid-shaft, spiral fracture of the humerus which also required surgery to insert pins. Your cast will have to come off in two weeks to remove the stitches, and a new cast will be applied."
"How long will I be out of commission?"
"Sixteen weeks minimum."
Batman scowled. "Be thankful it isn't worse. Mammoth nearly pulled your arm off."
Robin winced. Attacking Mammoth had been a really dumb idea. "I'm sorry I screwed up."
His guardian's expression softened. "You didn't screw up."
"But Aqualad said–"
"Aqualad lectured you before he had spoken to Superboy and was unaware of what actually transpired. It seems that Kobra was prepared for unexpected visitors and Mammoth was wearing kryptonite around his neck."
Robin blinked. "Kryptonite? Seriously?"
Batman nodded. "From what Superboy has said, you were the only one who realized what was happening and went to his aid. You rushed Mammoth from behind and grabbed the kryptonite. You tossed it into the volcano just as Mammoth grabbed you. According to Kid Flash, the force he used was what caused the injuries to your arm."
"Huh," said Robin, as he was struck by a sudden flash of scaling Mammoth from behind and snatching at his neck before spring-boarding off of his head. "What about the bomb in the volcano? What was that about?"
Batman's frown was back. "You don't remember the mission briefing?"
Robin shook his head. "The last thing I remember before waking up on the ground is breakfast…and you complaining about the fundraiser tomorrow night."
"Tonight," Batman corrected him. "That was yesterday morning and the mission briefing was yesterday afternoon. You were sedated for most of last night to give your body a chance to rest."
Robin was relieved to discover that his memory didn't have too many holes. He could cope with a few hours of memory loss. The pain in his arm, not so much. "What was the mission about?"
"I sent the team to the island of Paramushir where Cult of the Kobra followers had been spotted gathering around the base of the Chikurachki volcano. The team were only supposed to observe what the cultists were doing, but they discovered the cultists had built some sort of pulley system on the mouth of the volcano and were planning on lowering a bomb into it. For what purpose, I haven't yet determined."
"When did I pull the bomb out of the volcano?" Robin tried, and failed, to hide how excited he sounded because come on, pulling a bomb out of a volcano sounded so freaking cool!
Batman gave him a small smile. "With the kryptonite gone, Superboy was able to challenge Mammoth, enabling you to escape. Kobra had activated the bomb and was lowering it into the volcano using the pulley. Aqualad distracted him so you could get the bomb back up, but there was only seconds left on the clock so you–"
"Tossed it off the side of the mountain," Robin finished. Vague memories were starting to filter back to him.
Batman nodded. "You were caught in the shockwaves from the blast, that's how you were knocked out."
"Is that why my ears were buzzing afterwards?"
"Possibly. You have a concussion so it could have been a side effect of that too."
Concussion? Yeowch. Robin grimaced. He had really gotten the smack-down on this mission. Speaking of which, shouldn't he be on the good drugs to take the edge off his pain? "Um, not to sound like I'm complaining or anything, but can I get something for my arm?"
"You're already on medication. The break to your arm is severe and unfortunately, pain is likely to be an issue for a few weeks."
Robin sighed. Wonderful.
Batman leaned forward in his chair. "I'm taking you home this evening. You'll be more comfortable there. I won't be attending the fundraiser tonight either, it wouldn't look good after you've been injured."
"You're totally just using this as an excuse because you don't want to go." Robin couldn't help rolling his eyes.
Batman looked serious. "I'm not. This isn't an injury we can hide and you have school tomorrow… Although I may consider letting you rest," he added with a hint of a smile when Robin pouted at him. "But we need to come up with a believable excuse for your arm."
Robin wilted. He hated this bit. The lies he had to tell so that people wouldn't pry too deeply into why Dick Grayson had been injured. Anytime Robin suffered an injury that couldn't be hidden, he and Bruce would concoct a story as to why. But it was hard to remember all the lies sometimes.
As if guessing his thoughts, Batman placed a gloved hand on his. "Don't worry, we'll keep it simple."
Robin nodded dejectedly. No patrol, no team, no acrobatics, and trying to keep track of his lies for the next sixteen weeks? Oh, joy. He could hardly wait.