How Many Ways Can A Robin Die?
Chapter 6: How to Poison a Robin (Part 3)
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.
"Batman drove into the batcave and with him was Dr. Leslie Thompkins. He gave her the bat sleep so she would not discover the location of the batcave, even though she knew some things about Batman that no one else did. He also called Alfred instructing him to take Dick in his Robin costume back down to the batcave to the medical bay.
"Put on his mask and his shirt and vest. You can leave the rest off. But make certain he is comfortable."
The gurney doubled as a hospital bed, and the medical bay over the years had the latest medical equipment to take care for a patient, including for performing surgery. Bruce realized when he was younger from his mid teens to his early twenties, his butler Alfred had finished up a medical degree. And even did a residency in his native England. Alfred's knowledge was extensive, but he chose to use what he knew in other ways, and allowed other medical professionals deal with the rest.
After using the batwake, Batman and Dr. Leslie Thompkins moved into the medical bay, despite her wide-eyed gazing at what the batcave contained. Once they approached the prone Robin, she was all business.
"What's his condition?" Dr. Leslie asked.
Alfred described the symptoms.
"Sounds like Avarian Flu, but that can't be. That strain is so dangerous it has to be contained. How did he contract it?"
Batman was reluctant to explain, but said instead, "From a madman, bent on tormenting me. I do not know how he got a sample of the flu virus. What's important now, is saving Robin's life."
"Did you take a blood sample?"
Batman nodded as if giving Alfred permission to speak.
"Yes, and Master . . . Batman viewed the slide."
"Did you save the rest of Robin's blood?" Dr. Leslie asked.
Alfred pulled the sample rack out of the small refrigerator. "It is kept at the proper temperature to preserve it, unless you wish to draw your own sample."
Leslie could not help but notice there was also a couple of pint-size plastic containers of whole blood. She noticed the date on the label. It was given recently. It was also then she noticed the quality of the equipment in the medical bay of the batcave.
Batman could not help but notice her curiosity. "This is a fully equipped medical clinic. We are able to store whole blood as well as plasma. Alfred made certain of that."
"Including for doing surgery?"
"When necessary, yes," Alfred stated. Alfred then handed Leslie a small card.
Leslie's eyes became wide at what she read. "Doctor Alfred Pennyworth?"
"Among my other professions," he stated.
"Why show me this?"
"To show you that Alfred is quite capable of taking care of both Robin and I, but he is a trained surgeon for battle, wounds, broken bones, and other injuries," Batman said. "This is a little bit beyond his expertise."
"Master Batman is correct. Identifying disease is not my expertise," Alfred said. He led Dr. Leslie over to the microscope and assisted her in checking Robin's blood.
Batman (Bruce Wayne) went over and checked on his ward. He removed one of his gloves to brush his check with his hand.
"Don't touch him," Dr. Leslie stated. "He could be highly contagious. He has Avarian Flu, but there is something odd about it."
"Some of the markers are missing. They've been replaced with . . . oh no . . . it can't be."
"What is it?" Batman asked.
"This flu has been engineered. Quickly, we must synthesize a serum. We don't have much time."
"What about the poison?" Batman questioned.
"The poison is what was used to change the flu virus to turn it into a fast acting weapon. The virus itself can be deadly, but this doubles it's capacity to kill swiftly. That poor boy, why would someone do this?"
"To destroy me," Batman said, his voice becoming rough with emotion. "Only the man responsible did not realize that it would only galvanize me even more. If Robin dies, nothing will stop me from rending the man limb from limb despite the fact that the man is back in prison."
The cold harshness in Batman's voice was terrifying. Never had Alfred or Leslie heard such rage.
"Alfred, please help me get the serum ready," Dr. Leslie said. "We may also need an anti-toxin from the poison."
Three hours passed as two very tired but determined beings were finally able to synthesize the serum necessary to save Robin's life. Dr. Leslie filled a syringe and injected the contents into Robin's arm. "He may need another injection if his fever hasn't come down far enough for him to recover on his own. We need to check that the poison has also been removed from his system."
Now came the hard part, the waiting.
A gloved hand moved to touch the shoulders of the sleeping figure whose cowled head rested on the bed. The cowled head lifted to meet the eyes of his young partner.
"Robin," his emotion filled voice came out as a whisper, and he reached out with a bare hand to touch his partner's face. The fever was gone. "Let's check your temperature, Old Chum," and he placed a thermometer in Robin's mouth. Three minutes later, Batman took the thermometer and a smile formed on his face as he read the results. "How's your chest feel?"
Robin took a deep breath and let out a cough. "A little heavy still, but better."
"Why don't you rest some more while I take Dr, Leslie Thompkins home."
"Dr. Leslie?" Dick's eyes became wide then a frown formed on his face. "Does she know . . ."
"No," Batman said. "Don't worry Old Chum. I'll be back soon."
Robin gave out a large yawn and as he fell back into a deep and natural sleep, Batman pulled a blanket over him to keep him warm. Within moments, Robin could hear the muffled roar of the batmobile's engine as it drove back to Gotham City.
By the time Batman returned, Robin was in a deep and dreamless sleep.
"We should move him to his room," Alfred said.
"I'll take care of it," Batman said. He removed the rest or Robin's costume and pulled out a pair of pajamas that he put on the sleeping Dick Grayson. It was odd after all this time, changing a fully-grown man. Robin after all was nearly 20 years old. Leslie may have called him a boy, but she was much older than Dick, even older than Bruce. It wasn't surprising from the difference of their ages. Batman then changed out of his costume and back into the clothes of Bruce Wayne. Adjusting his weight, Bruce Wayne lifted his ward into his arms. Dick's head rested on his shoulder and Bruce held him close, feeling Dick's strong heart beat against his chest. Rather than take the Gurney up to Dick's room, Bruce knew why he wanted to carry Dick himself. It was to feel the presence of this young man's life in his hands.
"I nearly lost you twice," he said softly. "You're my son in all but name. And I love you Dick Grayson. Without you . . . my world, even as Batman, would become so much darker. Rest well my son."
With those words, Bruce Wayne carried his only son up the steps and back home to Wayne Manor.
(My stories can also be found at my Yahoo Group, batcomputer archives site.)