Joker's laughter echoed in Batman's mind, along with the image of Robin beaten and cut and coughing up blood as Harley pummeled him to the ground with her hammer.
Batman yelled with desperation at the computer to track the transmission. J'onn reminded him to stay calm as the computer calculated. The teenage heroes behind Batman were panicking. Robin was their friend and leader and he was in very real danger. Zatanna and Kid Flash were pleading with him to let them go after Robin. Superboy looked as if he was about to explode.
"We can't just do nothing!"
"Let me go I can get to him! I'm fast enough!"
"The bio-ship could-"
"Batman he could be dying!"
"Enough! All of you!" Batman yelled, shocking them at his loss of composure. The Batman they knew was calm, cold, collected at all times, he feared nothing for he was fear itself, but as they looked at him now fear was obvious.
Wally looked at his feet, he was worried for his best friend, but he knew that no one was more worried than the Batman. Robin had had plenty of close calls before, Wally knew, but for some reason seeing his friend so broken made him terrified. He recalled the many injuries, poisonings, and near death experiences they'd both had since they'd become friends, but for some reason none of those times scared him quite as much as now.
"What do you want us to do sir?" Wally practically whispered.
The computer announced it had results and Batman downloaded them into his built in computer.
"Sir! What do we do?" Superboy said repeating Wally's question.
"Go home. Be with your families. Robin is my responsibility." Batman grunted.
"But sir, Robin is our family too." Megan said.
Batman glanced back and then stormed through the Zeta tube.
Robin was fading in and out of consciousness, and all he could register his surroundings were sounds of laughter. His vision was completely black. Everything hurt and something was burning his skin, Christmas lights, he thought.
His chest felt as if it was completely crushed and he felt blood all over his body and in his mouth. Every few minutes someone would hit his head with something really hard or use his back to sharpen their knife. It took everything he had to maintain his grip on reality, but even he knew it wouldn't be long before he lost consciousness completely. The villains were getting impatient and were taking it out on his body.
Robin was having trouble forming any coherent thoughts, but there was one thing that he knew without a doubt, Batman was going to be pissed.
Batman drove recklessly fast as he tried to find his way to the location the computer had marked on his map. Robin was running out of time, that's all he cared about. If Dick died...he wouldn't allow himself to finish that thought. He was furious at the Joker, at Robin, at himself.
Near-death experiences weren't uncommon in this business, Batman knew that. He and his partner stared Death in the face everyday, but this time he felt he was powerless against it. At this moment he didn't know what he would do, he was seriously considering breaking his one rule.
It felt like an eternity before he found the Joker's hiding spot. He entered the burnt out apartment building with caution. He knew the Joker had probably set a trap, but he didn't really care. He slowly started to encounter the Joker's thugs and each were left bloody behind him.
He ran up the rickety stairs and burst into the third floor hallway. At the end of the hall paced the Joker in a Santa hat.
"Oh Bats, finally. We were starting to worry! The turkey was starting to get cold! And Harley worked so hard to prepare it. HAHA!" The Joker cackled. Batman flung a batarang at him, it pierced the wall behind him.
"Enough! I'm not in the mood for your games, Joker. Where is he?!" Batman yelled.
"Temper, temper! Wouldn't want Santa to put you on the naughty list this year!"
Joker pranced into the room on his right singing Jingle Bells. Batman sprinted after him. Joker stood on a platform in the corner of the room twirling his knife.
"Joker, where-" Batman stopped in his advance when his boot encountered a wet spot on the floor. He looked down and saw a huge blood stain on the ground, his heart skipped a beat. He followed the trail to a dark mass in front of the Joker. There was no movement, Batman could barely make out the slight rise and fall that came with breathing.
Harley appeared and stood over Robin. "Oh dear, it seems all of our pretty lights have burnt out! Birdy must have bled on 'em!"
"I hope you don't mind Batman, but you took so long we already started carving the turkey!" Joker laughed at his own joke.
"Ugh, you'll pay for this Joker..." Batman growled. He pulled a compact grenade from his belt and prepared to throw it and grab Robin.
"Uh, uh, uh Batsy this bird needs to be carved just a little more don't you think, Harley?" Joker bent down and grabbed a clump of Robin's hair and lifted the teenager into a standing position although he was obviously unconscious, or at least barely holding on. Joker rared back with his knife.
Batman lept, hoping against hope that he could stop the Joker before his knife pierced Robin, but there was no way. The Joker's knife sunk deep into Robin's back and the boy wonder screamed in agony.
Batman hit the Joker to the ground before he was able to make another stab. Harley was shoved to the side. Batman grabbed the Joker's knife and held it to the psycho's white neck.
"Give me a reason, why shouldn't rip you in half!" Batman yelled.
"Ooh someone is a little miffed! Ah come on Bats it's Christmas! Can you really break your own rule?"
"Why shouldn't I?"
"B-Bat...man...don't." A tiny voice gasped out behind him. Batman turned to see Robin bleeding behind him, his blue eyes were glazed and unseeing as he reached out for his mentor.
With Batman distracted the Joker broke from his grasp and met Harley at the window, he had grabbed the grenade Batman had dropped without activating and tossed it.
Batman's eyes widened and he lunged for Robin. They busted through the other window and glided to the roof of building next door. The apartment building blew apart behind them. Batman looked at the blast cursing himself for letting the Joker get away. A gasp of pain in his arms reminded him of what was important.
"Robin! Robin! Can you here me?"
"S-sorry about-" He suddenly went limp.
"No...no, no, no! Robin answer me!" Blood covered the Batman's hands.
Batman raced for all he was worth back to the Batmobile. Thoughts raced through his head as he forced the car into Drive. Where could he take him? Robin's injuries were too extensive for Alfred or even Leslie. He needed a real hospital, but that would mean giving up both of their identities, which wasn't an option either. He took him to the Batcave so that Alfred could at least get treatment started while Batman figured out what to do.
Alfred raced into action when Batman stumbled out of the car carrying Robin's limp body. The boys heartbeat was starting to fade.
There was only one place that was safe to take Robin that would have what was needed to give him a fighting chance, the Watchtower, but only official JLA members were allowed. Batman brought Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Martian Manhunter up on his communication screen. He started to explain the desperation of the situation, but Superman cut him off.
"Bruce, get him to Watchtower, now."
Superman met Batman at the Watchtower's Zeta platform and taken Robin from him. He sped away towards the hospital wing at top speed. Wonder Woman arrived only moments later, immediately embracing Batman. They ran after Superman together.
Christmas decorations still donned every hallway, to Batman's surprise, who couldn't believe that it had only been a few hours since he had been at the party.
When they arrived J'onn and Superman were hooking Robin up to heart monitors and placing a breathing mask over his face as fast as they could manage. They also inserted an IV into his arm. Before long Robin was so covered in tubes and wires they almost made a blanket for him.
Superman X-rayed his body and confirmed that his rib cage was almost completely shattered, as were his right arm and shoulder. It looked like he had been shot there, and pieces of the bullet remained in his arm. Also his skull was cracked. He had lost more than 40% of his blood and was still bleeding. The four heroes and Watchtower's doctors worked to stop the bleeding and get his heart rate back up, it was dangerously low. Finally the heroes were ushered out so that the doctor's could prepare Robin for emergency surgery.
Batman leaned silently against the wall holding Robin's costume. They had had to cut it off of him to find the sources of the bleeding.
"Batman I think you should go to the cave and inform the other kids about Robin." J'onn said softly.
"Just pull them up on the communication channel." Batman said quietly.
"No, he's right Batman, it'll be better if they here it from you personally." Superman offered.
Batman sighed, "I can't leave now."
"It will take them a little while before they can start the surgery, we will contact you as soon as they are ready." Wonder Woman said putting her hand on Batman's shoulder.
Batman nodded and headed back to the Zeta tube.
He hardly realized he was in the cave until he was in the living room in the middle of everyone.
The other mentors of the teenagers were all there, except for J'onn and Clark of course. Flash and Kid Flash were the first to reach him.
"Where is he? He's ok right?" Wally spouted. Flash looked at his friend with concern. Artemis walked up behind KF and grabbed Wally's hand.
"He didn't...?" Superboy said grasping Megan's hand. Megan and Zatanna were both in tears, Artemis and Wally looked like they were only just holding it together. Everyone else looked at Batman with disbelief.
Batman sighed, "He's still alive, but...only just. I have to get back."
"Batman...he's a strong kid he'll be ok." Green Arrow stated.
Batman slightly nodded before turning to leave.
It was 9:00 pm Christmas day. Batman stood vigil over his ward's still body. The machine told him Robin was still alive but it was hard to tell, a few occasional bumps was all that registered. The surgery had been successful, and most of the immediate danger from internal bleeding had passed. Robin had had a hemorrhaging fit during the surgery and they had almost lost him, but they thought his chances of survival had improved after the surgery was finished.
If they could get more blood in him and get his heart pumping how it was supposed to they hoped he would be out of the woods. He had fallen into a coma and didn't show any signs of waking up, and with the injuries sustained to the head there was no guaranteeing he would ever wake up.
11:00 pm, Christmas Day...still.
Doctors were running around like crazy. Batman was standing against the wall feeling helpless as his partner's body thrashed on the bed. They had decided to try using a stimulant to get his heart pumping faster, but something had gone wrong and a heart attack had been triggered. Superman helped hold the boy down as the Doctor's worked to get it under control.
1:00 am December 26th
Everything was still again. Robin's heart had stopped due to the heart attack and it had taken three shocks to revive him. He had died for almost five minutes. But, somehow he was still alive and now his heart was pumping much faster, it was almost at a normal level.
Robin was covered in bandages and casts. Batman marveled once again at the stillness of his lively friend. It had been almost a week since he had been brought to Watchtower, but Robin still had not awakened. His cuts were starting to heal and his bruises almost all were starting to look green, but he still lay still.
The doctors were starting to question whether it would be safe now to move the boy back home. He would be much more comfortable in his own room. Plus, as far as his heart and his blood both were almost normal.
Within a few days Superman helped Batman get Robin home. Alfred would take care of the boy and Batman would hunt down the cause of his son's pain.
Soon Joker and Harley were back in Arkham, but not before being beaten near to death.
Bruce rarely left Dick's side, and was starting to worry he may never wake up again.
Then about two weeks after the incident, "Br-uce?" it was almost a whisper but it was there.
Dick's sparkling blue eyes gazed at Bruce above the breathing mask. He pulled the mask off and a joyful tear rolled down Bruce Wayne's Boy Wonder would live.
"Bruce, M-merry Christmas...I-I'm so sorry..."