He is impressed when he asks, "You took down all three?"
Robin laughs unsteadily, hysteria edging into the wavering timbre of his voice. The laugh says so clearly no that Batman cannot help but to hear the word whispering under Robin's hitching breath.
Batman moves away from Bane, turning to give Robin a second look. Then a third. Robin is in disarray under his cape. His costume is torn, the cream colored body armor glaring against the outer black and red layers. The armor is whole, though, so Robin cannot be too injured. It's very good body armor.
The edges of Robin's cape flare out the slightest bit as he pulls it tighter around himself, closing the gap in the front.
"Robin?" he asks, because Robin's reactions are off. Not right.
Robin rubs at his mask and sways slowly. He doesn't respond.
"Robin?" Batman tries again, and Robin jerks, twitching to life. Robin's face is… there's blood smeared on it, tiny droplets that look like arterial spatter, smeared where something had rubbed against it. A wet trail of liquid had leaked from his lips, leaving a glossy line of moisture across the side of his face. Potentially one of Ivy's toxins.
"Yeah." Robin says. "Are we done here?" he asks quietly. Too quietly. It's barely more than a breath across his lips.
They aren't done. Two-Face is on the loose, and Batman has not yet captured Scarecrow. But blood stains the legs of Robin's body armor, the synthetic weave forcing it to bead up on the surface. "The police can finish up," Batman decides.
Robin doesn't respond. Batman reaches out, trying to lay his hand on Robin's shoulder because he seems so unsteady—Robin knocks his hand away.
The thick Kevlar around Batman's neck protests as he tilts his head. Robin is breathing too fast, panting. "Let's go," Batman orders, turning, trusting Robin to follow.
The guard at the door stares as they walk by. Robin stumbles over his feet, shaking. Minor tremors are associated with dozens of Ivy's toxins. The limp Robin has acquired is more worrying.
Batman leads Robin into the shadows and away from the guard before he asks, "Do you require immediate medical attention?"
Robin doesn't respond. He's staring at the ground, shoulders slumped. He scratches at his mask.
Batman waits. He can't see Robin's eyes, but he strongly suspects that he is staring at the ground. Robin's lack of responsiveness is beginning to worry him. "I'll take that as a yes," he says, trying to provoke a reaction.
Robin shakes his head. "I'm fine," he says, and his voice is as blank as his body language, as blank as his face. Robin is not fine.
"There's a Batcave hidden under the island. We can go there or go home." Batman waits for Robin to respond, but he seems frozen, uncomprehending of the question he's being asked. "If your injuries are serious enough that they cannot be taken care of at home, then I'll take you to a hospital."
"You have a Batcave under Arkham?" Robin asks unsteadily, avoiding answering. Perhaps not realizing that he needs to answer.
"Yes. It is equipped to deal with anything short of internal bleeding," Batman offers, hoping that if he just gives him enough hints—
"I'm probably not bleeding internally," Robin replies. Batman raises an eyebrow at the 'probably,' but lets it go. Robin is able to walk, which does suggest that he is not grievously injured. Tremors, chills (Robin still has his cape pulled tight around himself), and a general lack of awareness of his surroundings indicates that he may have been drugged. The limp could be explained by a leg injury.
He heads toward the secret entrance, leading Robin through the tangled weeds. He goes first, showing Robin where the hidden cave is, and then turns to watch (and spot) Robin's ascent.
Robin wobbles on the edge for a precarious few seconds, one arm flailing while the other holds his cape closed. Batman reaches out to help, but Robin slithers away from his hand, dodging around him and heading deeper into the cave, leaving his grappling hook swinging slowly from the roof.
Batman jerks the hook free, rock and dirt crumbling down onto his arm, and follows Robin. He calls his name, but Robin doesn't respond, doesn't seem to hear his voice. Batman grabs his shoulder, already knowing—Robin twists away, sliding free from his grasp.
He holds up the grappling hook, showing it to Robin. "You forgot your grappling hook," Batman says, watching the slight curl of Robin's lip, the instinctive recoil that's he's never shown before. Ivy's poisons don't—
Robin nods. He doesn't take it, just keeps walking toward the back wall. Either he's signaling that he's not able make the jump himself—perhaps his arm is injured—or he simply is not thinking—emotional shock?
Bru—Batman follows Robin, telling him, "I'm going to take you up with me on this one."
Robin shakes his head. It's not an answer, though. It's not… anything.
Batman signals his movement well ahead of time as he reaches out, wrapping his arm around Robin's waist, over the thick fabric of his cape.
"Robin, you have to wrap your arms around my neck. I can't support your weight like this," Batman tells him, pitching his voice low. It still startles him. Robin's arm is clumsy and shaking as it loops around his neck, and he's so far from okay that Batman-Batman needs to take off his mask. But it's not safe here.
The blood dripping onto the metal floor is clouded, too thick, and mixed with something else. There's knowledge clawing its way out from layers of denial that Batman ignores in favor of taking care of more immediate problems. He pulls out the first aid crate from under his work bench. Batman needs to be Bruce right now. Batman doesn't-it's Robin.
"I need you to take off your cape." Batman undoes the catches on his gauntlets, sliding them off. He deactivates the traps on his cowl and removes it, cool air sliding through his damp hair.
Bruce pauses before putting the mask down, the tremulous certainty inside him solidifying. Robin's breath is harsh, echoing through the cave. He's shaking (still bleeding) and too pale, even in the white lights of the cave. He's clutching his cape closed, hiding himself.
"Robin?" Bruce says, drawing closer. He has the solvent for Robin's mask in hand. "I'm going to take your mask off."
Robin isn't meant to make that sound. He turns his face up, expressionless, letting Bruce apply the solvent around the edges of his mask. The plastic slides off, fluid spilling out from underneath. Bruce tilts Tim's head, looking for injuries to his eyes, but there are none.
Bruce uses a scrap of bandage to dry Tim's face.
"Okay, we're going to try this again. Tim, I need you to take off your cape," Bruce catches a very brief moment of eye-contact before Tim looks away. His eyes are glowing venom green, and Bruce's breath catches in his throat. Venom...
The gas mask attached to the cowl reduces his sense of smell significantly. With it removed, Batman can smell sweat, blood, and fear on Tim, underscored by the musky scent of sex. Bruce can't quite deal with that yet. Can't think of how to deal with that, even as Tim releases his grasp on the edges of his cape.
Bruce reaches around Tim's neck, loosening the catches that hold up the heavy fabric. It falls to the ground and-and...
He closes his eyes and swallows, slowing his breathing until his heart rate returns to normal.
"Did you take venom?" Bruce asks, and he is honestly surprised that his voice doesn't break and crack. Tim stares at him. Stares through him.
Bruce undoes the locks that hold Robin's gloves on, and slides them off. "I-no." Tim replies, belatedly. He sounds upset. There's a lot of blood on the gloves, but it looks like it's his own.
"Your eyes are glowing green," Bruce explains. Tim's knuckles are sliced open. They will need stitches. As will the cuts in his sides.
"I didn't..." Tim says. His eyelashes are sticking together, his skin pale and blotchy. Tim is shaking, staring at Bruce with all the intensity he'd possessed when he'd convinced Batman to let him be Robin.
"It's okay. I trust you," Bruce reassures him, guiding Tim toward the workbench before his knees collapse from under him. Tim's limp is much more pronounced without the cape. "I am going to assume you had some kind of incidental contact, though. You will probably start going through withdrawal within twenty-four hours. If you start feeling dizzy or nauseous, let me know immediately."
"I'm dizzy and nauseous."
Bruce pulls off Tim's boots (this is a delaying tactic and he knows it) dodging to the side as Tim kicks out, sending a scrap of plant matter skittering across the floor.
Vines...thorns. Bruce remembers, then forgets. He can-later-Tim needs him.
"It's unlikely that you are going through withdrawal already. Did Poison Ivy use any kind of behavior or perception altering toxins on you?" She did. Bruce knows she did. Robin wouldn't be in this kind of shape unless he'd been unable to fight back.
Tim's eyelids flutter, drawing back until the whites of his eyes threaten to swallow the iris. He looks away.
"Tim it's okay," Bruce does his best to convey how much he means that, how much he wants that to be true. "If Ivy poisoned you, I need to know so I can give you an antidote. Most of her toxins have long term effects." The antidote is also a sedative and a muscle relaxant, to fight the arousal effect of many of her poisons.
"Yes," Tim says. "She-yes."
"Okay." Bruce pushes his anger down, and begins planning security upgrades for Arkham as he hunts down the antidote. It comes in a convenient pill form since he synthesised it, trademarked it, and had it mass produced for Gotham hospitals. "You'll need to take one of these every six hours. I don't think you've lost enough blood to go into shock, which makes things easier."
He keeps his water supply in one of the more hidden caves. Bruce stands, planning to get Tim a glass, then pauses. Tim is holding onto his cape with a white knuckled grip. "I'm just getting a glass of water. I'll be right back."
Tim is holding on tight enough that Bruce has to use a nerve strike to numb Tim's hand. Tim doesn't seem to notice that he can't feel anything below his wrist anymore.
He keeps a change of civilian clothes in this cave on the off chance that he'll have to sleep here. They will be too big for Tim, but Robin's uniform is in bloody shreds, splattered with various organic and potentially biohazardous fluids.
He has to direct Tim to hold the glass with the hand Bruce didn't nerve strike.
"There is a shower here," Bruce says, "your costume is mostly ruined, at least a few of those cuts will need stitches, and all of the ones from Croc's claws will need to be cleaned. The bleeding is slow enough that you can have a shower first, if you want," Bruce offers. It would work better with Tim taking a shower before Bruce stitches him up, but it's up to Tim.
Tim nods. "I can shower by myself," he says, "I don't need help."
Bruce shrugs, because he'd been just about to offer. "I doubt that, but I welcome you to try." He's certain that Tim will need help, at least once the muscle relaxants in the antidote kick in. He offers Tim a hand, pulling him to his feet. Tim sways, biting his lip, and moves his hand to Bruce's forearm to stabilize himself.
"Yeah," Tim mumbles. He's limping, his movements clumsy and stuttering. There's a dark purple bruise shading the side of Tim's face. He bled under his skin. It's not strange. It happens all the time. It's breaking his heart.
Bruce leans Tim against the guardrail and hooks the car battery up to the string of resisters he'd wrapped around a diverted water pipe. He regrets not taking Tim home. The showers there are much warmer. Much safer, too.
He lets the pipe start heating. "Can you undress yourself?" Bruce asks, gathering clean towels from the messy pile in the crate beside the shower. The shampoo/conditioner/bodywash (efficiency is important) is kept in neat rows beside the crate.
Tim shivers, and nods, pulling down the hidden zipper on his tunic and sliding it off. The body armour underneath is covered in blood. Bruce moves forward and helps Tim unzip the sleeves, then pushes it off his shoulders.
The cuts on Tim's torso aren't too bad. Deep enough to need stitches for at least two of them, but the bleeding has mostly slowed to a trickle. Tim turns away to pull off the remains of the body armor on his legs. Without it, Tim looks even thinner, looks far too young to have the insides of his thighs sticky with blood and semen.
Bruce blinks, his vision wavering, and scrubs at his face with the back of his wrist. His eyes itch.
He's only seventeen.
Tim turns back, and Bruce turns away, steadying Tim with a hand on his shoulder. "Just one second," he warns Tim, letting go and turning the release valve on the pipe. A torrent of steaming water falls, sluicing through the metal grate beneath it, echoing as it hits the distant ground.
"I haven't added a shower head yet," Bruce apologetically explains, guiding Tim into the stream of water. It slicks down his hair, and the water pressure washes most of the blood off. Tim grabs Bruce's hand as he turns away.
Bruce snaps open the lid on the soap and hands it to Tim without looking back. Tim doesn't seem inclined to let go, so Bruce shifts his grip to wrap around Tim's wrist, pressing two fingers against the radial artery.
Tim's heart rate is high. Not dangerously so, but high enough.
He counts to two hundred, then asks, "Are you done?"
"Yeah, I'm good."
Bruce turns off the water and hands Tim a towel. "Can you get dried off without falling over?" He's already taking his hand away, going to unhook the battery when Tim replies with a murmured affirmative, his teeth chattering.
"...the cuts are still bleeding," Tim whispers, a trace of anxiety in his voice, holding the towel away from himself.
"There are lots of towels. If blood gets on one, we'll throw it out," Bruce answers, giving Tim an encouraging look and putting the bloody remains of Robin's costume in the garbage. He can examine them later, when Tim is asleep.
"Do those pills make you loopy?" Tim asks. He sounds faintly bemused. He's wrapped himself in towels until Bruce can only see his feet and head, and he's still shivering.
"Tranquilizers to neutralize the more violent side-effects are packaged with the antidote," Bruce confirms.
Bruce is fairly certain that Tim is sleeping. He wrapped his hand in Batman's cape again, clutching it to his chest as Bruce puts unsteady stitches into his skin.
Tim sighs when Bruce pulls his hand free of the cape. He spills the disinfectant when he tries to apply it, and winds up with more than strictly necessary. It makes stitching the jagged cut across Tim's knuckles difficult.
As soon as he releases Tim's hand, Tim grabs his cape again. Bruce leaves it while he pulls Tim into a sitting position, wrapping the stitches-Alfred's going to have to redo most of them.
Tim watches placidly (distinctly tranqued) as Bruce dresses him in the joke boxers Superman had given him for Christmas. The bats and robins are silly, but the boxers are flannel, and probably the most comfortable thing he'd ever worn. The sweats are equally soft, saved from the garbage when Alfred had decided that they were too ratty to exist in any form but rags. (They only have three holes. They're fine)
Bruce has to pull the drawstring as tight as it can go, and tie it in place to keep the pants from sliding off of Tim's hips. The Robin costume is thick enough that he often forgets just how skinny Tim is.
The faded grey tee-shirt threatens to fall off Tim's shoulder.
"There's a bed over there," Bruce tells Tim. "I need to put sheets on it though." There's a faint tug at his neck, and Bruce looks down. Tim's still holding onto his cape.
Bruce uses the quick release catch on his cape and drapes it over Tim like a blanket, remembering, oddly, putting Dick to bed a long time ago, before there was a Robin. "I'll be right back," he promises, pulling the cape down until it covers Tim's toes.
The sheets are a crumpled mess-Alfred has never been in this cave-but they're clean. Bruce wrestles them onto the bed and dumps the blankets on top. It's easier to adjust them afterward.
Tim is asleep when Bruce gets back to the bench. The tranquilizers must be affecting him strongly, and Bruce would leave him there, but the bench is cold and hard, and not particularly comfortable. It had been well worth the risk to smuggle a mattress in.
"Bruce?" Tim mumbles, blinking slowly. Bruce lifts him to his feet, guiding him toward the bed, silently grateful that he had bothered with safety rails in this cave. Tim is wobbling slowly from side to side, drifting toward the edges of the suspended equipment and the sixty foot drop below.
Tim trips over the edge of the mattress, then curls up on top of the blankets, grabbing a pillow and curling up around it. His tee-shirt is ridding up, exposing the bandages around his waist. Bruce tugs it down so Tim won't get cold, and considers moving him under the covers. He decides not to once he realizes that it could wake Tim.
His cape is beside the bench, and it only takes a second to grab it. Tim's breathing is even and deep, his body relaxed into sleep. Bruce can almost pretend that everything is all right. He drapes his cape across Tim. It's thermally insulated. Tim should be warm enough.
Bruce runs his hand over Tim's damp hair, his own breathing suddenly unsteady. Nothing is alright. He needs to... He needs the cowl.
Robin's costume is stained with semen from at least three different donors. The fabric crumples under Batman's hand as he blinks, too fast, his eyelashes rasping against the inside of his mask.
He's destroyed the video files from the room's security feed. Batman had been unable to review the footage fully, finding himself too compromised by his emotions to continue watching. Even as he berated himself for the failure, he wondered if it would be best to leave Robin his privacy, if he really needs to know the details.
Batman throws the costume back into the trash and slumps in his chair. Above them, the sun is rising. He only ever sees it on this side of the night, hasn't woken up to a sunrise since he was twenty-four.
There's a hand clamped around his heart, squeezing. Batman should have been able to prevent this. Been able to save him. Robin's not supposed to have shit like this happen to him (somewhere Jason is laughing, cold, bitter, and still dead, despite any evidence to the contrary).
The machine in the corner whirls and beeps, signalling that it has finished its task. The printout confirms that both Bane and Croc's DNA was present. So was Timothy Drake Wayne's.
"I'm sorry Robin," the words are pulled out of him by the sinking feeling of failure, from knowing that his Robin (his son, his child) was injured (raped). He should have been there.
"It's not your fault," Tim replies, his voice slurred by sleep.
Everything in Batman cries out liar. It's his fault, it has to be. What he cannot predict, he cannot change.
"What time is it?" Tim whispers, stretching carefully.
Batman stirs, rising out of the meditation he'd entered around noon. "Five."
"We leaving soon?"
Tim sighs and sits up. "How soon?" he asks, pressing his hand against his forehead. He's pale. Shivering a little.
"When it's dark." Batman hands Tim a glass of water and another pill, keeping a hand under the glass in case he drops it. "Any nausea? Dizziness?"
"Killer headache," Tim replies, "Withdrawal?"
"It should be setting in. Your eyes stopped glowing three hours ago."
"Oh good," Tim clamps his eyes shut, swaying. "Oh man, nausea. Nausea now."
Batman hauls Tim to the edge of the cave, holding him still with an arm across his chest as Tim vomits into the pit. Batman makes a note to clean off the Bat-Sub before he leaves.
Tim pushes himself back, pressing against Batman's chest for a second, stone crumbling under his palms and skittering into the pit. "So how are we getting out of here?"
Batman hauls Tim back onto the solid ground. "Batmobile."
"I don't have a costume," Tim replies, rising to his knees and crawling toward the mattress. He's not as graceful as he usually is.
"There's an extra in storage here."
"It's not Dick's, is it?"
It is. Batman panics briefly, because that costume had been inappropriate by 1995 (Dick had always liked the eighties a little too much). He doesn't really want to dress Tim in it now. Actually, he doesn't ever want to dress Tim in it.
"I seriously don't want to wear green panties," Tim tells him, grabbing a pillow and hugging it. He sounds upset. Which is okay. Batman's research indicated that he should be upset, and that being upset is a healthy response.
"You could wear the sweats?" Batman suggests, preferring the idea, now that he thinks about it.
"Can I borrow your cape? And the sweats," he answers, shifting restlessly.
"Yes. Are you sure you don't want your cape?" Batman suggests after a moment. His costume looks strange without the cape.
"No, I want yours."
"I—Tim," Batman paused, uncertain of how to begin the conversation. "I need to ask you a few questions." Prevarication works.
"Bane, Killer Croc, and Poison Ivy. Were there any others?" Could he do this any worse? Batman really doesn't think so.
...Should he hug Tim?
"No." The quality of Tim's 'no' suggests strongly that Batman should not hug him. He's shutting himself down, a bit. Several websites had warned about that, but Batman thinks perhaps it might be a good sign.
"I looked into their medical records." Batman rubs his fingers together, then stops. It's just long enough for Tim to pick up on it and interpret it. Batman hopes it will help show his own nervousness with the subject. He honestly doesn't want to talk about this, but the books had been quite clear that he should.
"What did they have?" Tim demands, twisting to face Batman.
"They're all clean of diseases," Batman reassures Tim hastily, deeply regretting that particular conversational opener.
"Then what—?" Tim's voice trembles and again Batman considers hugging him. But it feels like it might be inappropriate.
"All three have been put on new medications in the last two months. Was their behavior...particularly unusual?" And he turns it into a debriefing. Batman curses himself, tempted to ask for a redo-
"What were they giving Ivy?" Tim asks, sounding much steadier. Perhaps debriefing is the correct tone to take?
"Nitrogen. One of the new psychologists is also a horticulturalist." Batman leaves the, "and too stupid to live," unsaid.
"They should stop giving her that. I don't think it's helping."
"She was the instigator." Batman tells Tim. He'd watch the video that far, at least.
"Yes. I'm fairly certain she was controlling the other two as well." Tim props himself up on his elbow, looking at Batman more directly. "You aren't surprised."
"Why aren't you surprised?"
"Killer Croc and Bane aren't sexual predators. Poison Ivy is." Usually she just doesn't take it as far.
"I never thought of her pheromones like that before," Tim says.
Batman laughs once, sharp and bitter, (vines) and replies, "Neither did I."
"Did she ever—" Tim doesn't finish the question.
"...To me?" Batman asks.
It wasn't the same. It wasn't... but it may make Tim feel better. "Once."
(vines and thorns and liking it...)
He had isolated and developed antidotes for thirteen varieties of Ivy's poisons in a single week. Because she was and is a dangerous predator with no concept of morality.
(vines and pain and begging for more...)
Batman has to pour Robin into the passenger seat. The painkillers were more potent than Robin, strictly speaking, needed. But he isn't in pain.
"He alright?" one of the guards involved in the clean up asks. He's less concerned than he is curious.
"Wanna kitten...black one," Robin slurs, patting Batman on the hand. "Soft." Batman assumes Robin's talking about kittens and not his gauntlet.
And Robin's not upset, or afraid, and didn't Selina say that there was a litter of kittens down in the lower East Side? He can drop Robin off in the Batcave, patrol the East Side, and take the litter to the Wayne Animal Shelter. Batman can be back before Tim wakes up. With a black kitten, if there's one in the litter.
The Arkham guards are staring at them, whispering at each other. Batman ignores them and snaps Robin's seat belts into place.
"He's fine, just tired," he growls at the guard, yanking the door shut. Robin twitches, looking away even as the electronic click of a camera phone goes off. Batman grabs the phone, deletes the photo, and hands it back before the guard realizes that his phone is gone.
Batman slams the door when he gets in.