By Portrait of a Scribe
"Kagome, kagome, the bird in the cage,
when, when will you come out?
In the evening of the dawn,
the crane and turtle slipped.
Who stands right behind you now?"
That's the first thing you notice. Darkness, the damp smell of wet earth, the sound of your own breathing, loud and heavy and wet in your ears. You feel, more than see, something a few inches in front of your nose. There are walls on both sides, and when you shift, you feel that there's solidity above your head and below your feet, as well. Trying not to panic, you raise your arms (they feel sluggish, like you've been drugged or something) and push against the surface above you.
Nothing. It doesn't budge an inch. There's no air flow, and the oxygen in your tom- no, no, it's not that, you're just locked in one of Batman's training apparatuses again. Yeah, that's it. Treat it like that for the moment, don't panic, you can get out of this. Trying to calm yourself, you close your eyes against the blackness, and try to think back to how you ended up in this mess in the first place.
The mission was a simple one: Take the team to Gotham, scope out the warehouse down by the graveyard, gather information on what was rumored to be a major arms deal going down next Monday. You headed to Gotham with your team. You scoped out the warehouse down by the graveyard. You gathered information. Too much information.
The next thing you knew, your team was laughing, laughing, laughing, and the Joker was there, and he was laughing, laughing, laughing, and you couldn't help but laugh, laugh, and sob, because you'd been caught, your team was already disabled, and the Joker had brought friends, and you couldn't handle all of them on your own, not without your team or Batman. Still, you did your best, even in what was as hopeless a situation as you'd ever been in.
The first of the Joker's henchmen fell to a roundhouse kick, and the air you tasted through your rebreather was humid from your breath. The second was strung up with a grappling line while your team collapsed on the floor, choking and gasping and still laughing, laughing, laughing. The third, you sent spinning away with a powerful side-kick, the karate kind, because you were a hero in your own right, not a sidekick, not living in Batman's shadow anymore. Your fourth opponent took a little more punishment, absorbing your right hook into his ribs, dodging a feint, and then stepping right into the leg you swept upwards from the floor into his groin. He went down like a sack of bricks.
The fifth and sixth enemies were what got you, though, because one managed to get a heavy hit in to your temple, dazing you, and then the other socked you in the gut. They dragged you out of the smog while you were still dazed. The Joker's insane cackling and the gasping of your friends echoed in your ringing ears, a crude soundtrack to your suffering. His footsteps followed you, too. The world whirled around you as you were thrown to the ground. Somewhere in the chaos, you managed to activate the silent emergency alarm on your wristband. Help would, hopefully, be there soon.
Hope. Then pain.
Your heart's racing. You know that your current situation was caused by the Joker. You just aren't sure how. As you take a deep breath, you suddenly gasp as pain erupts all along your ribcage. It's a wonder you didn't feel it earlier. You're having a lot of trouble breathing, too. Feels like you've got a collapsed lung. Maybe.
In the back of your mind, a cruel voice mocks you with the words, "That always impedes the oratory."
The panic rises in your chest. Surely, you can't be hearing things, not now. You know you aren't. You've never been schizophrenic, or had auditory hallucinations, and your family (God rest their souls) never had a history of psychoses, either. Your heart is pounding. Your breath is coming short. All you can think of is the fact that it's dark, and it's close, and it feels like the world could come crashing down on you at any second.
You close your eyes again and try to calm yourself.
It was a crowbar. The psycho was hitting you. With a crowbar. Of all the sick things to do to a kid, it just had to be that.
A year ago, you were not the only Robin on the same team with Batman. You had another partner, a little brother, who was never as good as you were but who was just as beloved. He had skills in other areas, too. He understood criminals better than you did, could get into their minds, figure out how they thought and formulate plans based on that. He knew all the rat-holes, all the best criminal hideouts in the East Side; he grew up there, after all. He was ruthless, efficient where you were showy. It was simply the difference in your personalities, in your backgrounds. He was a couple years younger than you, had been living on the streets when your adoptive father found him and took him in. He had been seven, then. When you started on the Young Justice League, you were thirteen, and he was eleven.
He was eleven when he died.
It had been a situation like the one you found yourself in, restrained, helpless, no deus ex machina to come save your hide. The Joker had beaten your brother (the brother you loved) with a crowbar. The Joker had taunted your brother (the brother who looked up to you, idolized you) as he struggled to stay conscious while you were chained to a pipe in the ceiling, every bone in your hands and both arms broken and pulled out of their sockets. The Joker had pummeled your brother (who you would spend hours of your time with helping work through literature essays because English Lit had never been his strong suit) to within an inch of his life before going back to you.
Then Batman had come, and beaten up the Joker, broken both arms and both legs (and a few ribs for good measure) and chained him up so that he could not get away. Then, he called the police and cut you loose, and he put you and your brother (your little brother who you loved to play games with when given the chance) into the passenger seat of the Batmobile together (which he never did because riding Hillbilly-style was against the law and against his rules and dangerous, dangerous, dangerous).
You held your little brother in your lap on the way home, and you were the only one who felt it when he stopped breathing.
It's becoming harder to fight it off. The fear rises again, trying to overtake you, and you push it down, down, deep down where it can't suffocate you, can't suffocate you like the all-enclosing blackness is threatening to. You wish, in that moment, that you're a metahuman. That you could vibrate your molecules through matter like the Flash, or density-shift like the Martian Manhunter, or just punch your way out like Superman could. Then, you wouldn't have to feel this damning fear, this horrible terror that won't let you go.
You wish Jason were here. Not because you'd wish your situation on him, but because his presence could make everything better. And because you miss him.
You were the one who felt it when your little brother (the little brother who you loved as your own even though you two were not even remotely related by blood) died, died, died, died, died.
And now, when you were separated from your team (your disabled, helpless, useless team) the Joker was hitting you with the same weapon he used to kill your brother.
The ache welled up inside you yet again, so raw, so angry, so fresh that it felt as though it had just happened all over again. You felt as though you had just watched your brother's beating all over again, heard it as his rasping breath ceased to come, felt it as his pulse stuttered and slowed to nothing. And you wanted to die. You wanted to die just like he had, so that you could share his pain, maybe take it away, join him in whatever afterlife came after you departed the mortal coil.
You gave up.
You're giving up, now, too. Tears are stinging your eyes, and your breath is coming short as you lose the battle with your panic. Your fingers scrabble for purchase against wood, ripping your nails from their beds and embedding splinters into your skin. You pound fruitlessly against the paneling, your wheezing breath coming in gasping sobs. You wish someone could hear you.
But nobody does, and you're using up what little air there is left.
And you're alone. Completely, utterly, totally, terrifyingly alone.
Blackness took you sooner than you would care to admit. It was more due to the fact that you were dazed, and the pounding in your head did not allow for much in the way of coherency. You were dimly aware of the Joker having his thugs drag you away from the warehouse, towards the Gotham City Cemetery. It was a creepy place on a good day, but you had been there a few times, mostly to visit your parents' graves. It was not a peaceful, beautiful place like the family plot back on the Wayne Estate, where Jason was buried alongside Bruce's parents. You had been there more times in the past year than you could count, usually once a day when you were home.
You missed your brother.
But your brother (the brother of your heart, the brother who was so much more than a brother it hurt bitterly to think about him) was not buried in the Gotham City Cemetery. Why were they taking you there? You would be buried with the rest of your adopted family when you died, on the grounds of the Wayne Estate with the people you loved the most.
You caught a hazy glimpse of a pine box. Then the crowbar screamed in toward your head one more time, and everything went black.
They buried you, you realize slowly. You're six feet under, and you're not even dead, yet.
That's the Joker's sense of humor, for you.
You've given up, now. You've even stopped trying to scratch your way out of your tomb (because let's face it: That's what it is), and you've resigned yourself to a slow, terrifying death, buried alive (like Jason because he was too alive, too vibrant, too ready to kick fate in the face and say "to hell with you" and he couldn't be dead, he just couldn't couldn't couldn't). You're sobbing, and laughing, and screaming as loud as you can, because you're scared, and you want out, and it's all just so ironic that you can't help but find some sort of black, masochistic humor in the situation. Words occasionally break through, words like "Bruce" and "Jason" and "Wally" and "Clark" and "Mom" and "Dad". And all you want is someone to comfort you, someone to hold you close and tell you everything's going to be okay. You want to curl up into a little ball and go somewhere else, somewhere far away from the pain and the terror.
You vaguely wonder if your friends are okay.
You don't know how long you lay there, in the dark, slowly suffocating. It's getting harder and harder to think. Your air is almost gone. Your sobs and screams and laughter have silenced themselves, and now only the hot tears stream over your face from under your soaked mask. And all you can think about is Jason.
You miss him so much it hurts, right now. You want your brother more than anything. You want to hug him again, tell him it's okay, that you know exactly how he felt, and that you're sorry for not being able to save him.
You just want your brother back.
And then you start to think that it's time, that this is it, and you close your eyes and prepare to see Jason again. You withdraw into yourself.
You miss the sound of scratching on the wood above you. You miss the feeling of being lifted.
"Jason," you mutter, over and over and over again. It becomes your mantra, your method of keeping sane in this hell. And you start crying again, because you remember that your greatest regret is that you never got the chance to tell him how much you loved him, and teach him that one acrobatic move he'd been begging you to show him.
You remember that, the day he died, you promised to show him how to do the flipping twist that the Graysons were so famous for.
When Superboy rips the lid off of the coffin, you're practically catatonic. The scent of the new air doesn't register to you. You've got your eyes clenched shut, whispering your mantra through the pain and the collapsed lung. In your shaking hands, you clutch a hard plastic photo keychain. On one side is a photo of you and Jason when you were nine and he was seven (you remember that you were hanging off of Bruce like a monkey, and Jason was swearing under his breath as he tried unsuccessfully to wrestle a Mickey Mouse hat onto your adoptive father's head while Alfred just smiled benignly in the background, his own Mickey Mouse hat borne proudly). On the other side of the keychain is a newer photo, of when you were thirteen and Jason was eleven. It was taken two days before he died, in a rare moment that Alfred actually managed to sneak a camera into the Batcave for the secret archives.
In the picture, Batman is hugging you to his right side and Jason to his left, and the both of you have your arms around your adoptive father (as you recall, one of the criminals somehow managed to dose Batman with a gas whose effects simulated drunkenness, and you had to drive home because Batman couldn't walk straight) in a rare display of affection between the three of you. Batman has a tiny, tiny smile on his face, and you and Jason are grinning in victory over a job well done. You remember that the two of you sat down and wrote an English essay that night, over a plate of cookies and a couple tall glasses of milk, while Bruce slept off the effects of the Drunk-drug, as you both jokingly nicknamed it.
Lost in your memories and longing for your brother, you don't feel it when strong arms encased in black Kevlar lift you out of the coffin and cradle you to a chest. You don't feel it when you're handed off to even stronger arms, arms that can bend steel but are as gentle as a parent's touch. You don't hear the murmurs of your team's confusion and concern over your well-being, you don't hear it when Batman actually consents to be carried in his worry over you, you don't hear it when he absently tells your teammates to go back to the mountain and that they can see you later.
All you know is that you can't breathe, and you want to die, and you want your brother, your best friend in the whole world.
"Jason," you whisper again.
The picture is solid in your hands, the only solid thing you know at the moment. It's all you really have left of your brother, so you cling to it. You usually keep it in your utility belt, in a compartment on the left side. You don't remember when you got it out, this time, but it helps anchor you to the little consciousness you can bear to endure.
It's hours later that you at last dare to open your eyes.
There's an oxygen mask over your face, and you're lying in your bed at home. Someone is curled up on the bed beside you. For a long second, you hover between delusion and reality, and you think that your brother has come back to you.
But no, your brother is not there, and you focus fully in time to realize that Bruce is lying beside you, his arms wrapped around you and your head tucked under his chin. His blue, blue, blue eyes glitter at you through the darkness.
"You're awake," he says, and the relief in his voice makes you cry again, because it's real and he's real and you're safe, but Jason isn't there.
And you can only cling to your adoptive father and wish that your family was still whole.
Disclaimer: If I owned Young Justice, I wouldn't be a fanfiction writer, now would I?
Yes, I am a shit-ass. And yes, I did leave you hanging there. What happens after this is up to interpretation, but I may do a follow-up featuring the long-term effects of this incident on Robin's mind, and how that affects the team's... well, effectiveness. Wow, I need a thesaurus. In my defense, I'm slightly drunk, and it was 4 in the morning when I wrote this, not to mention I was watching my way through the first season of Batman Beyond at the same time. (That show is good, but depressing as hell.)
This was done as a fill for a prompt on LiveJournal's YJ anon meme. Here's the prompt at http:/ yj-anon-meme. livejournal. com/ 4423. html? thread= 10387271#t10387271 - take out the spaces.
Robin Gets Locked in a Coffin
Submitted by Anonymous
Because I wish there were more fics talking about this happening to Jason
During a mission Robin is knocked out by one of the henchmen/other baddies. They manage to separate him away from his team while he's still unconscious and his team doesn't notice he's missing until the battle is over. The baddies throw Robin in a coffin and lock him in to hold him (idk why a coffin is just there maybe they're at a funeral home lol)
They decide to be sadistic, and bury him. Robin wakes up inside the coffin.
Who finds him is up to anon (or if he's found at all because seeing him dig his way out like Jason did would be awesome)
Pairings: Gen, OT6, KF/Rob
Bonus: He develops near crippling claustrophobia because of it.
As you can tell, this is my take on that prompt. Hope y'all liked it, and I hope it didn't scar you too badly.
Thanks for reading, and please review. I always welcome any comments or criticism, even flames... though those may later be fed to the dragon under my bed. Hope you don't mind.
Have a good one!
-Portrait of a Scribe