And we are so fragile,
And our cracking bones make noise,
The relief Batman felt when he found the children quickly faded when he saw the state each child was in. The usual loud and obnoxious Kid Flash sat unmoving a blank look on his usually smiling face blood splattered across his yellow uniform. Miss Martian was sobbing uncontrollably; her body seemed broken stuck in mid-change. Beside her Artemis was covered in blood and bent over the ground emptying out the contents of her stomach. Aqualad hung from his restrains with his head down shedding silent tears. A few feet away Superboy's barely breathing form laid an emptying IV of kryptonite laced poison pumping into his veins. Another step closer he saw Robin lying there in a pool of his own blood. Two crowbars lay beside him. Batman raced to Robin's side, the boy was alive but just barely. Batman could only wonder what Joker had done to these kids.
"What happened?" Batman's voice was unyielding. Two of his teammates' lives hung in the balance, two of them won't speak and one can't stop crying. Aqualad was their leader, it was his responsibility. Aqualad opened his mouth to speak but no words came, only a slew of horrifying memories.
It wasn't supposed to have happened that way. Joker wasn't even supposed to be there.
"Just do it KF..." Robin said eyeing Superboy worriedly. "Batman is on his way. I will be okay. He won't. Just do it." Robin's eyes darted from Superboy's unconscious form to Aqualad. "Aqualad tell him! Order him to do it. You know it's the right decision!" Aqualad said nothing to Robin's plea. How could he issue such an order? How could he order Kid Flash to hurt Robin to save Superboy.
"I can't Rob. I can't!" Kid Flash cried throwing the crowbar at the Joker. It missed.
"Very well. I will show you what happens when you don't choose." Joker said turning the IV drip on, and picking up the crowbar at his feet. He walked over to Robin and hit the boy hard across the face with the crowbar. Robin fell.
"You won't choose to save one of your friends so now you will lose both." Joker laughed as he dragged Robin by the hair further away from his friends.
"Greed." Crowbar connected with ribs.
"Is." Crack. Robin's leg bone snapped.
"A sin." The next swing drew blood spraying onto Artemis and Kid Flash who stood in shock.
"At least the little bird here understood. He is being punished because you won't choose." Robin gave a strangled cry as the metal connected with his body again.
"Don't' listen to him…" Robin groaned, but Joker's words were too hard to ignore.
"It is all your fault Fish boy if you were a better leader you'd chose give the order. Now the little bird will die for nothing."
"I failed to make the right decision... I killed them both..." Aqualad cried bowing his head unable to bring himself to recount the event. "I am sorry... I am sorry..."
"Hey, how are you doing?" Barry walked into the room where his nephew was staying in Mount Justice since he has refused to go home. "Bud, eat something." Barry's voice softened as he pushed the plate of food at Wally, but the boy just turned away. Barry sighed. "Do you want to talk about it?" Wally squeezed his eyes shut. The memories were like a nightmare, only this nightmare was real, and he didn't want to talk about it.
"Choose you must choose or I will choose for you!" Joker cackled turning the dial on an IV of kryptonite green liquid.
"Just do it! Hit me!" Robin's begged. "He is dying KF! Artemis!"
"You can't make us choose between our friends!" Wally yelled angrily.
"Oh but I can." The Joker cackled again, reaching for the dial.
"Stop!" Robin cried. "Guys just do it. Hit me. I will heal. If Superboy gets too much of that stuff he will die before Batman and the others could get here."
"Rob you know I can't…" Wally said helplessly wishing he could free his legs that were shackled to the floor. Joker laughed.
"You don't have much time." Joker cackled. "Tick. Tock."
Wally's stomach turned and he pushed the plate away. Wally couldn't stand to remember the rest of what happened. Would it have been better if he had just hit Robin like the boy had asked? Would Joker really just let them go if he had?
Artemis sat in the room she had been given at Mount Justice with the door locked and the lights out. She pushed herself into the corner furthest from the door and drew her knees up against her chest. Artemis felt sick. How could she have let Joker play her like that?
"You know you want to hit the little brat." Joker said looking straight at her. "You are not even really one of them are you?"
"Shut up Joker you don't know anything." Kid Flash yelled.
"The brat is literally begging you to hit him." Joker merrily, "Either way you are going to be responsible for the death of one of your friends."
"Artemis." Robin's voice drew made her look at the younger boy. "Please just hit me. It's the only way to save Superboy."
"But..." Artemis tried to argue.
"Just do it!" Robin yelled cutting her off. Artemis took the swing. It looked painful but Robin didn't make a sound.
"You got to do it right or it doesn't count." The Joker said angrily snatching the crowbar from Artemis. "Let Uncle Joker show you." Joker wound up and hit Robin so hard his little body went flying only to jerk to a crashing halt at the end of the chain his leg was attached to.
"Robin!" Kid Flash cried out helplessly.
"I..m okay..." Robin murmured getting up slowly.
"You heard the boy. He's okay." Joker said pointing at the IV threateningly. The deranged man always stayed out of crowbar range as he tossed the crowbar back at Artemis. "Now. Do it right."
Artemis shivered at the memory. The team was right not to trust her. She was a monster.
J'onn looked sadly down at his niece's troubled feature even in sleep the girl was not peaceful tears still flowed from her eyes. It had taken hours of mediation and coaching before M'gann was able to revert back to her humanoid form. The Joker's twisted serums left the poor girl a horrifying memory that J'onn doesn't know if she will ever recover from.
The only thing on M'gann's mind was to get out of her restraints. She had to help her friends. Joker was killing Superboy and she had to move. M'gann envisioned making her hands and feet smaller so they would slip through the shackles, but as her body began to change everything went wrong.
"Ahh!" M'gann screamed in terror, her body was a jumbled mess and the worst part is she can't will herself to change back
"Hahaha! Now THAT is funny." Joker clapped.
"What the hell did you do?" Robin said his fist suddenly flying towards Joker, but it just fell short, Robin had only managed to get his hands free of the welded together cuffs.
"Oh Boy Blunder I didn't think you would dislocate your wrist just to free yourself. I was sure welding the cuffs shut would have kept you." Joker said grabbing Robin's wrist. The madman bent it until there was a loud crack. Robin screamed in agony as Joker released his now broken wrists.
"Right, now, where were we?" Joker said stepping back to where the Kryptonian clone was bounded with kryptonite cuffs. "Oh. Right. Choose. You can beat your little Robin or your Supey clone here can die."
J'onn held the sleeping girl close hoping to offer more comfort. What the kids had faced was worse than their worst nightmare. How would they ever recover? They were only children after all.
In the infirmary a bleeping tone turned into a solid whine.
And we are just,
Breakable, breakable, breakable girls and boys.