Disclaimer: Young Justice, Batman, JLA, and any of the other stuff in here don't belong to me.
It's never a good thing when the Big Bads team up.
Joker is bad enough; unpredictable and psychotic with extreme homicidal tendencies. Go up against him and a person was almost guaranteed to go home bleeding. Add in Two-Face to the mix and you've got a hell of a lot higher chance of not going home at all.
Batman was lucky, this time. It seemed that once again 'evil' proved unable to work with 'evil'. Two-Face didn't like Joker's inability to follow through with a plan. Joker got fed up with Harvey's lucky coin. By the time Batman had shown up, they had taken out more than half of the other's goons and thugs in a bloody massacre.
He jumped into the fray and in less than an hour he was securing the cuffs to an unconscious Joker's wrists. He could already hear the sirens approaching and doubted anyone was leaving the hideout without medical attention. Including him.
The body armor had taken most of it, but Joker had managed to slip a knife into the seam of the arm guards, impaling the ice-pick through his upper arm. He had removed the make-shift weapon, and while adrenalin had fueled him he could ignore the wound. Now, however, he was feeling the blood loss and the arm was practically useless at his side.
It didn't help matters that Two-Face had gotten a lucky shot and clipped the side of his cowl. The bullet may not have penetrated the bullet proof head gear but the impact had left him reeling. A concussion, if he was lucky, but he wouldn't be surprised if Alfred's x-rays exposed a skull fracture.
He thanked God for the hundredth time that he had ordered Robin to remain behind – even with the things that had been said and the way they had been left between them.
Robin had not been happy.
"You're benching me?"
"You're not ready."
"Not ready? Then what have we been doing for the last four years if not getting me ready?"
"It's Joker! I've gone with you against him before."
"Not paired up with Two-Face you haven't. You're not ready."
"Are we going to have this argument every time it's Dent? It was three years ago! I'm over it!"
"This has nothing to do with that."
"It has everything to do with that! I'm not some rookie anymore; I know how to do the job!"
"I never said you didn't-"
"Then let me back you up!"
"Goddamn it, Bruce!"
"And this outburst just proves to me you're not ready. You're too emotional and you'd be a liability."
"Emotional? Well, you're pissing me off! Quit treating me like a child!"
"You are a child! You're thirteen years old and when you became Robin you agreed to listen to me and follow my orders!"
"I'm your partner, not your soldier!"
"You are my son! And as long as you wear that cape and mask you will do as you are told! And for tonight, that's getting out of uniform and stay with Alfred! Do I make myself clear?"
The look of sheer rage on his face was chilling. Dick had unclipped the cape from his shoulder and tossed it carelessly to the side; peeled the domino mask from his face and flicked it to land at Batman's feet. But it was the icy loathing in the teens voice that seared Bruce's soul.
"I am not your son."
Batman had stood there and watched the boy disappear into the changing area of the Cave. He had hated leaving it like that between them, but if it kept Dick safe and away from Two-Face… And after some of the things the former DA had taunted him with, he was even more relieved that Dick wasn't there.
Three years ago Harvey had beaten the then ten year old Robin nearly to death. In the years since, Two-Face took too great a pleasure tormenting and torturing the young vigilante. With the number of thugs he had been up against tonight, there was no way Batman could have kept the man from his son.
So if the price he paid for keeping Dick safe was having him angry at him for a few days, so be it.
"Alfred," Batman opened the frequency to the Cave, having retained radio silence since his approach to the hideout. "I'm on my way back to the Cave."
"Very good, Sir," the British Butler responded immediately. "I trust you are relatively whole?"
"I shall prep the med bay then, Master Bruce. And Master Richard?"
The fear that clawed into his gut was overpowering. "Is in his room - where I had ordered him to be before I left."
"Oh dear! I'm afraid that I have not seen the young Master since you first descended into the Cave this evening. The R-Cycle is not in its spot, so I had assumed… He was not with you then, I take it."
"No." Batman held the steering wheel with one hand while his other flew over the computer console in the dashboard "Has he disabled the tracking beacon on the motorcycle?"
"No, Sir. I shall patch the signal through to the Batmobile."
In seconds, a grid of Gotham streets was glowing on the screen and a flickering red dot showed the location of his protégé's vehicle. "He's on the move, looks like he's heading back to the cave. He is coming from the same vicinity, though."
"He probably wanted to be close on hand, Master Bruce. In the event you required assistance, he would not have been far off."
"Far off is where I wanted him, Alfred."
"Do remember, Sir, that you are the only family he has remaining. He would want your well being in jeopardy no more than you would want his"
Bruce sighed. "So you're saying I shouldn't ground him for disobeying me?"
"I would presume no such thing, Master Bruce."
"Of course not."
By the time Batman made it back to the Cave, his anger had faded to disappointment and his body was aching in more places than he would have imagined. The Batmobile coasted into its spot after he cut the engine and he was pushing back the cowl as he climbed out of the vehicle. Alfred was already waiting for him, and behind the devoted butler Bruce could see the medical bay prepped and waiting.
Bypassing the well equipped room, Bruce slumped into the chair in front of the Bat-computer and started removing his cape. "Robin not back yet, I see," he nodded his head to the still empty parking spot for Robin's R-Cycle.
"I do not wish to alarm you, Sir, but I have been unable to raise Master Richard on the radio."
"I followed his signal most of the way back," Bruce told the father-like man as he accepted help to remove the torso pieces of his armor. He reached behind him with his good arm and typed in a series of codes. A moment later the same street grid was showing on the large monitor. The crimson marker showed the wayward teen just entering the hidden cave system that served as the vehicle entrance to the cave. "Here he is. Probably wanted to make sure you'd gotten your hands on me before he made it back."
"A pragmatic course of action," Alfred deadpanned as he began cleaning the dried blood from the hole on Bruce's upper arm.
The roar of the motorcycle echoed into the chamber a few seconds before the customized ride was visible on the lower ramps. The rider was low over the handlebars, head hung down as the bike was meticulously steered up the center of the winding ramp and into place.
Bruce hated the feeling that was gnawing at the fear once against settling in his stomach. He placed a halting hand on Alfred's arm as the two men watched their young charge turn off the machine with slow and purposeful movement. Bruce was on his feet as Robin climbed off the bike, his back to them, and lifted the red and black helmet off his head.
The protective gear was placed on the seat of the bike and the boy started to turn.
He took a single step before he was collapsing to his knees and Bruce and Alfred were both running.
The cape had flared out at the sudden drop, revealing a ragged and bloody uniform beneath it. The face was a mess of bruises and bloody trails from his nose and mouth. Blood was dropping steadily from his left arm into a rapidly growing pool on the cavern floor. High right hand was pressed against his hip just below his utility belt, blood saturating the entire right side of his uniform.
Through the missing lens on his mask, a pained and panicked sapphire eye watched his guardians racing across the cave toward him. He coughed once, a splatter of blood flecking his lips and the floor below him. "S-shit-!"
Seeing his son failing, Bruce slid across the remaining distance, his body catching the boy. With a fluid grace born of years of training, the father was scooping the unconscious teen into his arms and was on his feet again in an instant. Frightfully aware of the bloody trail he was leaving behind, Bruce bolted for the med bay.
"Get Leslie here, now!" He ordered Alfred needlessly, as the butler was already making a beeline for the phone.
Inside the sterilized room, Bruce laid Dick on the padded table and was moving in a flurry of activity. He removed Robin's armored boots, gloves, mask and utility belt. With a specially designed pair of scissors he slit the Kevlar uniform into pieces for easy removal. The body he found beneath was a bloody mess and he choked back his fear for his son.
Alfred joined him just as Batman was placing a heart monitor node on Dick's chest. The machine came alive with alarms to notify them of plunging blood pressure and bradycardia arrhythmia. Bruce was running a scanner over the bloody form as Alfred read the heart machine.
"Blood pressure 75/55 and dropping!"
"There's a slug from a .480 Ruger lodged in his hip bone and is pressing against the femoral artery. His spleen's been ruptured, his left lung has collapsed and his right has been punctured by a rib. Stab wounds, contusions, broken bones… god, how did he make it back to the cave?"
"We're losing him," Bruce pulled the node from the boy's chest and lifted him into his arms again.
"Batman to Watchtower!" He shouted into the cavern, racing for the Zeta tube, knowing the computer would connect automatically.
"Watchtower here," J'onn's voice echoed over the speakers.
"I'm coming in with wounded," he snapped as he paused at the transporter controls.
"I'll meet you in medical-"
"In the transport room!" Bruce cradled his son carefully against his chest as the Zeta beam flared to life. "Robin won't make it to medical!"
"I forget how small he is."
Bruce looked to the Man of Steel as the figure head of the League came to stand beside him. The father nodded and turned back to the view window, and the frantic chaos of the medical personnel beyond, the closest he could come to his son. "It's because he's never this still."
It had been pandemonium, his arrival to the Watchtower. Not many could ever say they'd seen the Batman so… human. Maskless, topless, wounded, and frantically shouting out orders as he laid a bloodied teenager on the floor. The Manhunter's immediate appearance, phasing up through the floor, only added to the surrealness of the moment. Together the pair fought to save the obviously dying boy, and less than a minute later the emergency medical team was lifting the crashing child onto an anti-grav gurney and out of the transporter room.
The news has swept the station and out to the League members out on assignment.
"Have you been checked out?" Clark asked quietly after a moment, motioning to the bloodied gauze wrapped around the still bare-chested man.
He shook his head. "It's nothing. They're needed with him."
"You're no good to him injured," Superman gently took him by the arm. "Let me take a look. They'll find you if anything changes."
Bruce allowed himself to be pulled away from the view window and to the infirmary room next door. Clark went to work, removing the stained bandages and sterilizing the stab wound. Neither spoke for several minutes and, a few stitches on the front and back of his upper arm later, clean wraps were covering the wound.
Clark stared at the silent father for a moment before pulling a chair next to the examining table. "No skull fracture, no broken bones, only some deep tissue bruising and a minor concussion."
The other man nodded and silence hung heavy around them.
"Do you know what happened, yet?" Clark asked after another long moment had passed.
The man that was Batman nodded. "Alfred intercepted a police transmission. Apparently, Two-Face didn't trust Joker completely and had a second force of men a block over. When things started going south at their main hideout, Harvey called them in. They never arrived. All of them were found beaten, unconscious, and tied up in various places over the entire block."
"Robin," Superman shook his head in amazement. "How many?"
"Close to thirty."
"Damn," Clark leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees and looking up at his friend. "Why wasn't he with you?"
"He wasn't supposed to be there at all," Batman growled at the insinuation. "Robin disregarded my orders to remain behind."
The reporter gave an undignified snort. "And that surprises you?"
A faint, wry smirk touched the Dark Knights lips. "It shouldn't. His presence there more than likely saved my life. I had my hands full with Two-Face, Joker, and their goons combined. There's no way I could have handled another thirty. I just…"
"Wish it didn't come at such a cost?"
"You didn't see him, Kal," Bruce said with a shaky sigh. "There was so much blood… Alfred checked the R-Cycle. It was covered in Dick's blood. How he managed to hold on while it drove on auto back to the cave I'll never know. So much blood…"
"He's a fighter, Bruce," the man Dick thought of as an uncle reassured him.
The quiet fell over them again, but it was Batman that broke it after a few minutes.
"I had called him a liability," he stared down at the fists in his lap. "We fought – he didn't want to be left behind – and I told him he was too emotional, a liability. Then he goes and takes on thirty of Two-Face's gang solo."
"He knows you didn't-"
"He was furious, Clark, madder than I'd ever seen before." Bruce swallowed the thumb that threatened to choke his words. "In five years we've fought before, but never… He said he wasn't my son."
The father shook his head. "Do you know what blood type Dick is?"
Surprised at the sudden shift in conversation, Superman couldn't remember and shook his head.
"AB negative; it's the rarest in the country and normally the AB type allows transfusions of the other three. But the negative Rh factor eliminates most donated blood. Now, of all the heroes, of the hundreds of people employed by the League, how many of them do you think share that blood type?"
Clark saw the intensity in his friend's eyes and understood. "Yours."
"Mine. Less than 0.3% of the population has that blood type, but by some miracle he and I are an exact match."
Bruce released the tension in his hands, opening his fists to look at the blood that was drying on his skin. His son's blood.
"Eleven times Dick has had to have a transfusion of blood, three of them requiring more than six units before he would stabilize. There is more of my blood running through his veins than that of John and Mary Grayson.
"He is my son, Kal-El, on paper, in my heart, and by my blood. I can't lose him."