Author's Note:

First of all, I owe this little plot bunny of an idea to Amanda, because we were roleplaying (yes, I'm a geek, moving on) and the Joker escapes to come after Robin because he needs him for Bat bait and makes a deal with Slade. So her post was really cool because of the formatting and what it said. It's the quote at the beginning of this, so you'll see it once I'm doing talking. xD

Which would be right about now, I suppose.

Disclaimer: Own Teen Titans or Batman? Psht. Not until I get a job. Don't own Wine Red or The Hush Sound, though I would love to get a copy of Like Vines. 3 CDs are my guilty pleasure… I think. C:


"Why does he keep escaping Bruce?"

He wanted to throw himself on Batman,
Ask him that question,
Scream at him for letting Joker and Slade talk about him,
Like he was a piece of property,
A slave,
Live bait,
Apprentice,
Theirs.

'Why Bruce?'


It was his worst nightmare.

Gotham City was no more than burning rubble, the sky filled with choking black smoke. The fiery red glow of the blazes eating up crooks and citizens alike as they lay dead all over the sidewalks reflected off the heavy clouds. Around him, skyscrapers crumbled and the few remaining survivors of the cataclysmic attack of Arkham's inmates rushed past him.

He paid them no attention.

Somewhere behind him, he could hear the rest of the team fighting insane convicts and protecting his back as he gave chase into one of the collapsing building. The interior of the smoky building he was running through lit up in an eerie blue-green flash of a arm cannon and starbolt barrage, the screech of a raven and T-rex disappearing as the distance between the remaining team and him widened.

"HeheheheheHAHAHAHAHahAHahahaHAhAhee…"

Stop

"What was it you always told me, Bruce?"

Stop it

"He was loose, but he wouldn't get me, right?"

Stop now

"Well, look at me now Bruce."

Stop it right NOW

"Look at me."

No

"Yes."

I don't want to

"Do it."

It's not my–

"Yes, it is."

The running footsteps stopped.

Murky blue eyes leering at him through the smog floating through the room. White gloved hands, the fingertips frayed and missing, streaked with dirt, grime, and most detestably blood. A torn purple jacket, matching purple pants with patches missing. Worn spats, now completely covered with dust from running over rubble.

A low, helpless giggle cut through the silence.

A grin, blood red and messy, stretched over Dick's pale face.

"See what happens when you fail, Bruce?"

I know, I see, I hate it

"I know you do. That's what makes this so funny!"

Sick, murky chuckles reached his ears, making him cringe.

"Oh, that's right Bruce. You just hate fun in general, don't you? No wonder Joker is more fun to be with. I never knew how much fun it could be to watch someone die."

Shut up

"No, really. The death throes are kind of funny. I laughed the first time I saw it."

hehehHEhEhahHAhaha

"Just like that." Dick smiled again, exposing a twisted version of his old smile.

"Anyways, I have to kill you now," he said, shrugging and pulling a small knife out of his pocket. "Sorry Bruce, you know how it is."

Even as Dick approached him, he couldn't move, feet rooted to the ground. Even as the knife dug into the arm of his suit and wedged itself down to his skin, he still didn't do anything, because this wasn't just some horribly altered creature, this was Dick, this was his son, he couldn't hurt him.

Even as blood sprang to the surface, he didn't fight back, because somewhere in there the real Robin had to be still alive and fighting-

"You know what the best part about this is, though? At least when I'm done, I can go back to Joker knowing at least he'll show pride in what I've done."

The stabbing continued, all over his torso now in staccato bursts of pain. He shook his head back and forth, eyes shut tightly and hands knocking away Dick's arms to press his hands to his ears to block out the noise.

"That's right Bruce, deny it, like you always do to everything."

I don't

"Stop lying to yourself. It's getting annoying," he ordered, frowning.

"You denied yourself any feelings, you denied Selina and any other women who were willing to deal with your issues, you denied me…" His eyes narrowed and the knife paused. "…you denied me praise when I needed it most."

When have you ever needed it? he managed to pant out, slumping to his knees in exhaustion. Being able to survive this long without it, you must not have craved it as badly as you say.

His tormentor squatted to his level, resting one arm on a dirty knee. Using the knife to tilt up his hanging head, Dick locked gazes with him, blue eyes searching gunmetal gray ones.

"You just don't get it, do you?" he asked in an abnormally lucid voice, frowning softly and shaking his head. "I needed it when I was trying to readjust to a new life. I needed it on my first night out with you. I needed it when I finally made it on my own; I needed it then!"

Dick's voice had been rising gradually throughout his little monologue, and when he'd tried to look away from Dick's eyes the boy had grabbed his chin and roughly redirected his gaze.

"But I don't need it now." Dick used the grip on his chin to throw him to the ground, face first. "So tough luck. Not even seven years of praise is gonna save you now," he stated matter-of-factly, standing to look down on the man sprawled in the dirt and ashes.

no

"You know, from this angle, you look pretty pathetic," Dick observed. "I'd feel bad for you if it wasn't so funny."

stop

Dick bent down to him one last time, voice fading gradually with every prick of pain. "Oh, how the mighty have fallen, eh Bruce?"

"no no no no nO NO NO

--

"Master Bruce!?"

Bruce shot up, shaking and cold all over. Panting, he turned to look for the owner of the voice. "What happened? Where am I?"

"Master Bruce, please, calm down!"

Turning to his left, Bruce finally located the speaker, the familiar sight of Alfred Pennyworth calming his racing heart a bit.

The butler looked startled and slightly alarmed. "What in the world is wrong?"

The vigilante put a hand to his head, then using it to push his damp black bangs out of his eyes. "What… what happened?"

Alfred blinked in surprise, white eyebrows furrowing in concentration as he recalled the past events.

"The Joker succeeded in escaping Arkham Asylum, for what I believe would be the twelfth time now, and you captured him once again. And just in time, I might add," he said, picking up the cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol he had dropped when Bruce had shot up and applying it in gentle daubs.

A quiet hiss of pain escaped from between Bruce's teeth and he winced slightly. Opening his eyes, he looked down to where the faithful butler was working.

Cuts decorated his skin, running over his forearms like spider webs and tapering off near his upper biceps. Multiple bruises had bloomed over his skin, the color indicating they'd been inflicted quite a few hours prior to this moment.

"Alfred, what… happened to me?" he asked softly, still dazed from the horribly real dream.

"Well, as I was trying to explain, the Joker escaped, as he often does. You were prevented from going directly after him, as he had set free Arkham's entire population in his getaway and you were occupied in rounding them up," he elucidated, swapping the cotton ball for a soft square of cotton and medical tape.

"By the time you had gotten around to locating Joker, he had been spotted near Jump City. You had me send a message to Master Dick to not pursue him…" Alfred snipped off the end of the tape, both of Bruce's forearms covered in white bandages and no doubt confined to long-sleeved garments until further notice, eyebrows furrowing in concern.

"You really don't remember, do you…?"

Bruce put a hand to his head and closed his eyes, willing any memories to come back.

Colors and sounds began to seep through the black of his mind's eye, and slowly formed into coherent shapes, conversations, and events that had taken place over the past two days.

"No, I… it's starting to come back."

Rushing to Jump City.

Robin arguing with him, ending with Robin hanging up to go after Joker himself.

Rushing even faster to get there.

Joker taking Robin hostage.

The insane clown holding a knife to the Boy Wonder's throat as Batman rushed in, the two exchanging verbal barbs while Robin's life teetered on the blade's edge.

A haze that began to form around what happened next, only that the Dark Knight had made a foolishly rash move, Joker's hand whipped across Robin's neck, and suddenly the clown was underneath two-hundred and fifty pounds of enraged vigilante.

Joker had put up a fight; he remembered that much. The knife that was slick with Robin's blood had slashed against Batman's arms and chest and face (Bruce could only assume his face looked just as bad as the rest of him). In the end, Batman finally wrestled the Joker into the dirt and cuffed him, veins standing out on his arms and neck as he fought to keep from snapping the criminal's neck.

He then remembered rushing to Robin, the boy's uniform too red and his skin much too pale…

Seeing the shallow cuts on the ashy cheeks that made it look like he was smiling.

Bruce's massive frame shuddered once and he opened his eyes to Alfred's sympathetic face. Images from his nightmare finally began to make sense, but he still had to ask.

"Dick isn't…"

"No, thank Heaven," Alfred assured him. "According to Miss Raven, you staggered out of the Joker's hideout barely conscious, dragging him out after you with one arms while carrying Robin with the other. I must say, she paints quite the heroic picture," he mused to himself, remembering the Titan's awe when Alfred had come to make the emergency pick up of Batman.

This speedy recovery of the unconscious Bruce was due to the fact that he had sent a transmission to the butler shortly before he'd passed out that he would need Alfred's assistance getting back to the Batcave.

Tidying up the medical supplies, Alfred turned and began up the steps to the Manor. "You've been unconscious for quite a while Master Bruce; I suggest you get some proper sleep."

Nodding, Bruce carefully stood up, ignoring the initial dizziness and flare of pain in his legs. "I'll be right up."

"Very good, Master Bruce." Alfred nodded slightly and left him to his business.

The billionaire strode across the Batcave to the large computer, disregarding the protests his antagonized muscles made. Upon reaching the large keyboard used for the Batcomputer, he typed in a code he'd learned long ago, though its owner was still unaware of it.

The Titan's Tower mainframe appeared on the screen, and Bruce tapped into the security cameras.

Tenth floor… Main hallway… Robin's room…

He pulled up the video feed to the forefront of the screens, studying the sleeping boy.

White strips peeked out from under his unruly black hair, and a white rectangle was covering his throat. A square bandage was applied to his cheekbone, the faint colorings of a bruise sneaking out past the edges. His chest moved up and down rhythmically, and his cheeks showed a healthy flush that deeply contrasted with Bruce's last memory of him.

Dick was safe.

The tongue-lashing he would expect could wait until both members of the Dynamic Duo were back in fighting condition.

Letting his eyes linger on the scene a moment longer, the man closed the screen with the knowledge that Robin had lived to fight another day.

However, as far as Bruce was concerned, he himself had failed.

His footsteps echoed as he padded across the Batcave once more and booted up the training system.

--

"Who shot that arrow in your throat?
Who missed the crimson apple?
It hung heavy on the tree above your head

This chaos, this calamity, this garden once was perfect
Give your immortality to me; I'll set you up against the stars."

Wine Red, by The Hush Sound


wow, i actally finished this... a long time ago. i could've posted it like, three or four months ago but i kinda had a mini crisis and i wasn't feeling too good mentally, so i went through some stuff and eventually got diagnosed, so apparently i have clinical depression (which isn't a huge surprise, cause my mom kinda died from it and my little brother had it for a while). ANYWAYS. not to bore or disturb with my personal life, but i just wanted to explain why i've been gone why i might seem a little different... or not. xD;

bascially, i'm on medication now, not to sound crazy, made a couple personal changes, and now here's the story. c:

MERRY CHRISTMAS HERE'S YOUR PRESENT, not to offend any of those who don't celebrate christmas. i'ma go to my grand'rents (new abbreviation lol?) to celebrate the birth of my Savoir and whatnot, but i'll still reply to reviews and pms and stuff. at least that was i can be somewhat active. xD;

soyeah, if you have any ideas for this, i'd love to hear them. my own next idea was something humorus...ish, but if you suggest something i'll be sure to credit you. c; hopefully stuff comes to me over the holidays. hope you enjoyed this! :D

merry christmas x 3!
-christine
(p.s. - ignore the no-caps thing; i'm typing like that in author's notes because my friend mandy's typing has rubbed off on me, haha. i'll still type properly in actual writings though, so don't like get mad or annoyed or anything. -sheepish smile- that's all!)