Harley distracted him.

First mistake.

"Aw, has the wittle bird strayed too far from the nest?"

He grit his teeth. She had pulled him away from where the Joker and Batman were meeting each other blow-for-blow-a long, draining chase through a mess of doors and corridors he really didn't want to remember.

So even after he finally managed to truss her up, head lolling in unconsciousness - courtesy of a well-placed kick to the head - he has an entirely new challenge: finding Batman.

"Great."

He didn't want to radio the Dark Knight, of course-distracting him would only end in disaster. Not exactly a desirable outcome. Which left retracing his steps as his only option. He started pulling up a floor plan on his computer, but then he remembered Bruce telling him that it was no good - outdated.

"Just great," he repeated, starting to make his way through the warehouse's dank corridors.

It was barely a minute later when Robin heard the yell. Not a split-second later, he realized it wasn't the Joker making the noise.

Bruce.

Breaking out into a run, he pulled a number of disks from his belt, ready to throw if necessary.

Please don't be necessary.

Finally, finally, Robin heard the horribly familiar voice of the Joker.

"I imagine once I've got you all bled out," he was saying, his words matched by Batman's pained breathing, "I'll finally be able to carve up that little birdie of yours."

"Don't - touch - "

"What's that, Batsy? I can't quite hear you." There was the sound of a knife cutting through fabric, and another grunt of pain.

Bruce.

Robin didn't waste another minute. In one deft motion, he kicked the door open and ducked into a roll, releasing his disks immediately afterward.

They met their mark - one landed in Joker's leg, another in his outstretched hand and the last two in his side. Robin took advantage of the madman's surprise and leaped up, easily knocking aside the barely-there block before delivering a knee to the abdomen and a punch to the jaw.

Normally, the Joker might give him more trouble. But normally, Batman wasn't bleeding out on the ground just yards away.

The Joker's knife came in swinging, but Robin - focused by the adrenaline pumping through his system - stopped the motion cold. He took the time to twist the Joker's wrist, the knife falling from his grasp, then finished the fairly one-sided fight with a blow to the head, squeezing a pressure point for good measure.

Robin stood panting over the Joker's crumpled form for a moment before a cough brought him back to earth.

"Batman!" he exclaimed, whirling to see his mentor on the ground, propped up against crates. Eyes wide with concern, he bent next to him, hands hovering over the tattered and bloodied uniform.

"Robin - " Batman was trying to say something, but right now Robin couldn't afford to let him waste energy.

"I need you to shut up for two seconds while I radio for help."

Either because he couldn't answer or because he was actually obeying Robin, Batman fell silent as his ward reached for his comm. Robin may have been trained by the Bat, but that didn't mean he could carry him out of the warehouse before the Joker woke up. He pressed a hand to his ear and spoke. "Robin to Watchtower. I need - Batman needs help now."

There was a pause, and he can feel his stomach start the plunge to his feet. "Robin?"

He could punch the air, he was so relieved - Green Arrow was quite possibly one of the few Robin was comfortable asking for help when it came to Batman. "GA, Bats is down for the count and I can't get him out myself - "

"Say no more."

His sigh of relief cut short when he returned his attention to his mentor. Even with a few cursory looks, he could tell that this was bad and getting worse.

"Hang in there, Bruce," he whispered.

As though fate was spiting him, Bruce's breathing began to falter the moment the words left his mouth.

Dammit, Ollie, where are you?

"No - no, no, c'mon, Bruce- " Robin pulled a knife from his belt and tore off pieces of Bruce's cape (why didn't he do this sooner), pressing them down on the wounds to try and staunch the flow of blood. "Stay with me."

What brought on the next few words that come from his mouth is still unknown to him, but it felt so natural that he didn't bother to question them.

"C'mon, Bruce - Dad, c'mon!"

And then light was flooding Robin's vision. A blink, then another, and then he recognized the Watchtower's transport bay. Green Arrow and Black Canary were suddenly there.

"What took you?" he exclaimed, already trying to get Batman off the ground.

They didn't waste time getting offended with his impatience - later, he would be grateful for it. Minutes later, a long series of stitches and needles later, and Bruce has stabilized.

He'll recover - the fear should be gone.

Should be.

It didn't keep Robin from rooting himself to the spot next to Bruce's bed, eyes flickering between the monitors displaying his vitals and his mentor's face.

There was a touch on his shoulder. He took a split-second to subdue the urge to jump a foot from his skin. With a deep breath, he turned to find Canary behind him, offering a box of tissues.

He frowned, his hand automatically rising to touch his cheek. Pulling it away, he found tears on his glove. After a moment, he looked back up at Canary, who still had the box extended.

The question was there, unspoken and wordless - but there.

You really care about him, don't you?

Of course everyone knew that Robin and Batman, the Dynamic Duo, had a bond very few could challenge. But the true extent - how deep the connection went - was a little harder to define.

For a moment, Robin was tempted to reject her offer - deny her question, tell her it was just an apprentice worried about his master. But then he remembered the man behind him, and decided Bruce had enough stoicism for them both. With a smile he hoped was somewhat reassuring, he took a few tissues - answered her question.

I really do.

After turning back to Bruce, he heard the click of her heels and the door sliding shut as she left him to be alone. With a sigh, he leaned forward so his arms crossed on the bed in front of him. Unbidden, he felt his eyes begin to slide shut of their own accord. Sure enough, he was asleep moments later.

He woke up in that same position - head resting on his arms, leaning forward in that chair. But someone else had shifted while he slept. Blinking awake, Robin was suddenly aware that Bruce was looking at him.

There was a long silence.

For once, Bruce was the one to break it - albeit in a characteristic, one-word-sentence kind of way.

"'Dad?'"

Eyes going wide, Robin almost apologized before he noticed the barely-perceptible lift in the corners of Bruce's mouth. Robin blinked, trying to figure out to respond. After a moment, the pause stretching on as he scrambled to find something - anything - to say, he finally conjured a response. He mirrored Bruce's expression, his lips just slightly tilted upward.

"Yeah. Unless that makes you feel too old?"