How Many Ways Can A Robin Die?

Chapter 6: How to Poison a Robin (Part 1)

Author's Note: "How Many Ways Can a Robin Die?" (Batman #246-Dec. 1972) is one of my favorite Batman stories. I got to thinking and I decided what if there was just ONE more chapter to be told, and this is what came forth.

'Son?' he thought. 'Did he really call me son.' That small but significant little word said so much. 'He never called me son before. I wonder what went on to have him . . .' Robin looked over toward his mentor and partner as they drove back to the batcave. He could see darkness around Batman's eyes, even though his cowl covered most of what he could not see. "How long have you been looking for me?"

"Four days and nights," Batman replied.

Robin saw Batman's grip on the wheel tighten. 'What had Ravek put him through?'

"You're going to need to check in at the University and catch up on your missed classes," Batman said, "Plus, check in with your landlord," trying to change the subject.

'He's trying to hide his . . . what . . . fear? Fear of what?'

They arrived at the batcave and Robin watched as Batman moved over to the communications center, updated since he had been there.

"I though you would have dropped me off at the University."

After updating Ravek's criminal record, Batman turned toward Robin. "You were sedated for four days and nights. I want to make certain there isn't any side effects."

"Master Richard, good to see you," Alfred said as he came into the batcave carrying a tray. He placed it on a nearby table. There were sandwiches as well as a pitcher of juice and two glasses.

'How did he know I'd be here?' Robin questioned in his mind. The sandwiches had no appeal for him at that moment.

"Alfred, could you check Dick over, please," Batman said as he removed his cowl. "I want to make sure there isn't any lasting effects from that sedative Ravek kept giving him. I'm going to take a shower."

"Come Master Richard, let me take a sample of your blood."

Dick Grayson kept a wary eye on his mentor, aware that something nearly tore Bruce apart, but he wasn't admitting to what it was. Yes, he nearly died tonight . . . The realization hit him like that ton of sedative had done the first time he had been out patrolling Hudson University. It had been a long time since either of them truly expressed how they felt about each other. In trying to hide what they felt, it made it that much harder to say what it was that truly mattered. Maybe there was another way for him to know. Bruce was out of site in the showers while Alfred was helping him.

"Alfred, what happened the last four days?" Dick asked. "I remember patrolling Hudson University and then I woke up and found out that I nearly had my head chopped off by a madman. And Bruce . . ."

"When you were missing . . ." Alfred turned to see that Bruce wasn't presently in hearing range. "Master Bruce suffered greatly at your loss. He would not sleep. I had not seen that look since the loss of his parents."

"But now . . ."

Bruce came back from his shower and stood next to Alfred. "The blood sample?"

"I placed it in the rack, Master Bruce."

Bruce took the sample then took a pipe syringe and placed a smaller sample on a slide. He placed the slide under the microscope and viewed the sample. "Dick, can you tell me how you are feeling?"

'I . . . I'm not sure . . ." Dick got up from the gurney and suddenly felt very dizzy. "I . . . I feel . . ." His knees buckled and he barely felt the strong arms of his mentor catching him before he hit the floor.

Bruce lifted him up and carried him over to the gurney. "Damn." He looked into Dick's glassy stare then felt his forehead. It was already warmer than it should be.

"What is it, Master Bruce?"

'His temperature is rising."

"What is happening to Master Richard?"

"It would seem Ravek found another way to kill a Robin, by giving him a poison I do not recognize. It must have been in the sedative."

"What?" Alfred was beside himself.

"Dick had been sedated for four days. Ravek must have kept him sedated to keep him from escaping. The sedative would have had to be given several times in a day, maybe even 6 to 8 hours apart. Somewhere along that timeline, he also gave Dick a poison. Apparently the poison was designed to go off as soon as the sedative lost its hold. I don't know how long Dick has or what antidote he's going to need."

"What about the universal bat antidote?"

"That works on most common drugs," Bruce said. "On this I do not know. I have not seen this poison before. I will need a vial of the exact poison to understand its properties to know what was given to Dick."

"Can you not make an anti-toxin from his blood?" Alfred asked.

"I might, but having the actual poison would help."

'I take it, you will be leaving to find that poison?"

"I must," Bruce said, as he moved back to where he kept his extra Batman uniforms. "Do what you can with whatever antidote we have. I'll try to return as quickly as possible."

Continues with: How to Poison a Robin Part 2