A/N: Reason Behind This: I've been watching both YJ and Batman: The Animated Series lately, and so two days ago I started to wonder what would happen if the Joker found out about Robin's new YJ position (away from Batman). Thus, this was born!
When Batman shows up at Mount Justice unexpectedly, the team knows it must be serious. Their mission-dispatcher never comes around unless it's something big, and even with his mask and schooled expression there is a noticeable tightness to his features.
The imposing man stands before them, scanning each face intently. The intensity of his gaze amplifies with each child. Finally, when he pauses on Robin and doesn't let up, there is such a severe glint to his eyes and a tension suggesting clenched teeth that Robin just knows:
Something is very, very wrong.
"What's happened?" he asks quickly, almost breathlessly, stepping forward to grasp his mentor's arm in a tight grip and gaze into Batman's eyes. "Is everyone all right?"
He sounds so serious now, so very much the leader of the team he is meant to be. Though admittedly this is only what the others hear, for this is the wordless plea: Please don't say it… Please don't…
This last his mentor alone is able to decipher. And truly, the fear that someone he loves has been hurt, that someone has died, is not misplaced. Their line of work often conjures such panicked feelings, but it has always been a particularly vital issue for Robin. Ever since…since he lost his parents…this has been his worst fear, and though Batman has done his best to curb its extremity, it chooses its moments to surface.
Like now (though this is mild in comparison to some of the child's early panic attacks).
Batman lays a hand on his shoulder, squeezing reassuringly. Looks like this will prove harder than he'd hoped…
"Everyone's fine, Robin. I promise." The boy nods slowly. Batman offers a ghost of a smile, so much so that he can guarantee the others missed it entirely. He lifts his head now, speaking to the collective group as one. "I'm here to warn you about a new threat, one of the most dangerous criminals I've ever fought."
Robin's breath hitches as he stiffens beneath Batman's arm. The Dark Knight's grip tightens, and his jaw's set is far harsher than as per usual; Robin can only remember a handful of times he's seen the man so on edge.
Batman is well-aware that he is behaving differently, that he is showing more emotion toward Robin and his teammates than he normally does. But he can't help it. Not with this pitfall.
"Whatever it is, we're ready to hear it, sir," Aqualad assures, resting a hand on Superboy and Miss Martian's backs. Each nods in agreement, Kid Flash joining in from beside the alien girl.
"We can handle it, Batman. We've tackled plenty together before!" the resident speedster pipes up, flashing an encouraging smile Robin's way. The younger boy's been staring at his mentor with furrowed brows for a while now.
The child's eyes are glinting behind his glasses, are raging and quaking and absolutely blazing. This is something he needs—deserves—to know. Much as the man hates to admit it, much as he would love to tackle this on his own without his Boy Wonder ever having to know, Batman understands that telling the boy is the best way to protect him.
And that is all he ever wants.
He takes the plunge. Head-first.
"The Joker has escaped from Arkham Asylum."
The room is so devoid of sound now that Superboy is positive he can hear the atoms moving about them.
Robin's eyes are wide as he blanches and clenches his fists. He swears the world has fallen out from underneath him once again.
"What?" he demands, though his voice is so croaky and startled that at first he doesn't recognize it as his own. "Again? But—but we just put him away! How—?"
He cuts himself off, pinching the bridge of his nose to help himself calm down. Batman doesn't blame him in the least for behaving this way. He'd reacted rather the same when Commissioner Gordon had told him the news.
The determined, yet innocent and somewhere-frightened eyes that are so undeniably Robin's peer up at his mentor, and Gotham's Defender must steel himself ever further to keep from sweeping the boy into his arms and hiding him away until all of this is over.
This is the one villain that Robin has had the horrid displeasure of getting to know the best over the years. He's the most dangerous, most ruthless, most insane criminal the Dynamic Duo has ever faced.
Robin has more than enough reason to be frustrated, more than enough reason to be scared.
"Do you…do you know what he wants, Batman?" Miss Martian questions gently, glancing swiftly at Robin's vulnerable form.
"Unfortunately, yes…" the muscled man answers, expression sinking to a new low while his thumb absently rubs the Boy Wonder's shoulder in an effort to soothe the thirteen-year-old. Walking over to the table that sprang up with an earlier push of a button, Robin is the first to follow, the others placing a protective hand on either his back or shoulders. Don't forget, they say. We're here, too.
Batman turns form the table, revealing a thick, heavy-looking slab of concrete, one with words messily written in what looks to be a slick, red ink. Robin pales further, and his friends look increasingly uneasy as well.
"W-what is that?" Kid Flash stutters, while knowing he won't like the answer.
The Dark Knight's knuckles turn white as his strong grip tightens, and Robin can see that it takes all of his strength not to smash the tablet on the floor. The fact that he hesitates at all is telling in and of itself.
"A message from the Joker, found written in blood on the wall of his cell," he growls lowly. "It's the only reason I'm involving the rest of you at all."
"Bat and Bird fly together,
Bat and Bird fly forever.
But Bird without Bat,
Wings clipped and blood drawn,
Leaves just a carcass to find at dawn."
Robin gulps, breath catching in his throat before it leaves him in a great rush, and he has just barely begun to tremble. His teammates' supportive presences calm him somewhat, but not enough to distract him from the terrible truth that's been unearthed.
As for his friends, this new development scares them more than anything they've faced in the span of their superhero careers. They've heard of this madman, even seen footage of his insane escapades, but they've never met him face-to-face. Not only that, but if the wall-writing means what they think it does, then this will undoubtedly be their most dangerous challenge yet.
"This is the real deal, then? This is…really happening?" Superboy inquires softly, closing his eyes and swallowing slowly in preparation to accept what all of them wish to deny.
Batman nods with a slow, sick solemnity.
"The Joker is after Robin."
A/N: I've always liked the father-son roles undertaken by Batman and Robin, as well as the friendships between the YJ characters. These will play a large part in the story.
If Robin seems a little OOC (afraid of the Joker, I mean), it's because even before Batman tells them, he can tell there's something much worse, much bigger, than just the Joker. He's afraid because he doesn't want anyone he loves to get hurt or die (if it's not obvious yet, that's his biggest fear). Furthermore, my main branch of the Batman franchise is the old Animates Series from the nineties, and since Batman expresses so much emotion even in the face of his worst enemies, I used that as my basis for Robin. I figure, if Batman can express emotion even with his emotional stealth training, then why can't Robin, right? *shrugs* Could just be me.
Also, as the Joker is so unpredictable, I'm hoping the poem above (on wall, written in blood) sounds like something he would say. It just came to me...
As this is my first YJ fic I've ever written, please tell me if I'm missing anything important or if you think something's off (especially since I'm exhausted right now...)! Thanks!
Thanks so much for reading, as always!