The First and the Last
When Dick opened his eyes, he knew something bad was coming. Of course, he had mostly healed, but hurt, and knew that the training was in what? Four hours? But still, he just had a bad feeling. Premonition. It was never a good feeling for Dick. His bad feeling was usually right, meaning that something horrible was going to, or already happening.
He slowly sat up, flinching as his ribs became inflamed.
What are you doing! Shouted Stephanie, successfully alerting his other personalities. You should be laying down, not getting up!
Grayson, lay back down! Damian spoke up. Despite his usual persona, this time Dick was sure he could hear the fear and raw worry behind the words.
Trainings only in a few hours. I've got to-
At that moment, he stood and everything went wrong. A sudden burning seemed to fill his side, causing him to double over and collapse on the ground, despite his injured ribs and the many cuts and bruises that burned and protested his sudden movement. Despite all he had gone through, he let out a single yell at that moment, unable to hold it in.
Dick! He heard Jason yell far away in his mind. However, Dick couldn't focus on the worried voices of his siblings, but on the overwhelming desire to just die. He forced himself to take shallow breaths and block out his other personalities, not letting them feel the pain he felt.
"What is going on in there!" Dick heard a familiar voice yell as none other than Slade rammed the door open, to see Dick biting his lip, collapsed on his side in a protective ball.
Please! Dick! Another voice, Tim as Dick had recognized halfheartedly, yelled for it's older brother in fear. But Dick couldn't focus at all. Not even a little.
Oh, it burned! Dick could only feel the rough, immense pain in his stomach that seemed to only give him extreme agony and reason to die. But it also gave him reason to keep going. He had to get through it. But it hurt so much! Even more than anything he had ever felt before. More than those lovely torture devices he had been hurt with, the bat that Two-Face had beat him with, the purplish bruises he got from the Joker's favorite crowbar, and even more than every beating that Slade gave him.
Slade picked up the boy gingerly and sat him back in the bed. Said boy didn't blink, probably not even realizing how he had been picked up. Of course, his eyes were squeezed tight in such extreme pain. Not even pain at the point that it was. Agony.
"Diane!" Slade called, turning away from the boy in his weak moment as he let out a small, barely noticeable whimper. "Get a cloth, water, and blankets! Bring them to Dick's room!"
"Yes, uncle!" She shouted back, voice echoing dramatically as the sound of her metal feet could be heard as she retrieved the needed items.
Slade turned back to look at the boy before he sighed and pushed his hair back from his sweaty forehead. There should have been no reason for such extreme pain from the beating that Slade had given him. None. And he learned torture from the military base, meaning that after it was done, it was done.
A frown made it's way to his face as he sighed. This was going to be a long day.
. . .
Slowly, Barbara's eyes opened. Her eyes darted around the room for a moment, taking in the light coloring of the fancy room and the many people in the room before her memory returned and she bolted upright.
"Barbara!" Exclaimed a familiar voice. Bruce stood to her left, eyes betraying a bit of worry, but almost nothing more. His arms were tense as he leaned on the side of the bed, eyes trained on her.
Her eyes were wide, though, as if mad thoughts had overcome her and controlled her. She ignored the other concerned people at the other side of her bed and grasped Bruce's arms. "I know where he is!"
After many shocked and startled replies that were cut off by the widely known batglare, Bruce stared at the girl in front of him who seemed to be almost ready to hyperventilate. "Bruce, I know where he is!"
"Barbara, are you sure?" He asked. His worry seemed to hit him hard. After all, she had fainted at the batcomputer. And she was like a daughter. Just like Dick was like a son.
"Yes." She breathed, and she knew she probably didn't look all that sane. Her hair messy and slightly falling in her eyes, big, brown orbs fixed on Bruce with just enough insanity, pale as death, and breathing as if she had just been hit by a car. She was crazed with the possibility of saving her brother in war and life.
"Then let's save him."
Her eyes lit up with the sentence.
After all, she may have been his daughter in mind, but Dick was his first and last son.
. . .
As the zetabeam lit up, the many heroes in the room looked up, their minds momentarily leaving their young family member, the boy that they all knew was completely amazing. Out of the bright light walked out two smiling green lanterns.
"We did it!" Said one, Hal Jordan, as he walked forward toward the group. "We saved the universe again!" His arrogance and happiness left the room quiet with sadness and realization that they hadn't heard what had happened to Robin.
John looked around, catching the fact that something was desperately wrong. But he knew that Hal didn't. Hal wasn't one who liked to think about the possibility of something going so wrong right after a great victory for all life forms everywhere.
"Everything is alright now!" He repeated, a little strain to his voice, as if he could suddenly make it true just by saying it.
"Hal-" John tried to interrupt, but Hal tried again.
"We won." His bright smile was beginning to corrode away, leaving behind a slight panic to his dark brown eyes. "We-"
"Hal." Interrupted Wonder Woman. This time, Hal shut up, eyes snapping to her. His mask wasn't on, showing off the slight worry and panic that his moment of happiness and just the plain ability to gloat and describe the great, spectacular battle where not even one intergalactic officer died slowly began to fade away.
"What's happened?" Asked John Stewart, eyes moving around the room to only find one of the important heroes missing.
The heroes looked at one another as Diana felt a lump form in her throat. Her nephew was missing. Her nephew was missing. Her nephew was missing!
"John, Hal," Spoke Shayera spoke softly, removing her mask so that it was easier for them to take it in. "Something happened while you were gone."
"What?" Hal's mind was too caught up in the lack of celebration to really realize that it was he who spoke.
"Robin was kidnapped." Shayera stated simply, but softly. Before they could sigh in relief of no one being dead, she continued. "By Slade Wilson, Deathstroke the Terminator. He wants Robin to be his apprentice. He's had him for nearly-"
"No." Hal spoke, realization finally setting in and hitting him hard. He had heard that name before. He had heard it-His eyes widened in horror. "No way! Dick did not get kidnapped by that psycho!"
"Yes, he did." Finally spoke Superman, voice unnaturally grave.
"We have to-to get him!" Hal wouldn't deny that he felt a protective panic come over him. With Dick, no matter what the age, one would get extremely worried and overprotective. It was the cost of knowing him. And Hal knew exactly how that felt. Not even Stewart had the lack of protectiveness when it came to the kid.
. . .
Hal had shook his head in disbelief. He had heard from the majority of the superhero populace that Batman-the Batman-had taken a sidekick. A kid. A nine year old kid! He knew the bat had problems, but really? A kid?
So, that's why Hal had begun the long journey to Gotham city. He wanted to see this extraordinary boy in tights that apparently had the whole of the Justice League tied around his pinky. He didn't miss the overprotective stance that Diana took when describing the kid. He didn't miss the clenching of Clark's fists when talked about the irresponsibility of Bats for bringing in the kid to the superhero world.
But things had turned out, well, not nice.
For one, when he opened his eyes he flinched. The back of his head hurt as if some clown had knocked him over the head with a ginormous mallet!
He hung upside-down with his hands bound behind him and Batman tied right against his back. Both vigilantes hung above a pit of steaming pink acid. Hal could hardly imagine what it must have felt like and done to the bat's sanity dealing with this freaky clown on a regular basis.
"So," Began Jordan in an inconspicuous voice. "I don't suppose that you have a plan or an awesome toy to get us out of this mess."
Batman growled. That was answer enough.
A deep, yet lighthearted laugh followed. "Batman without a plan? HA! I never thought I'd see the day!"
Batman growled again, his growl deeper this time. He sounded more scary. Hal could respect that. Dealing with mister-I-like-makeup over there must have been something. Too demanding for Hal's taste.
"You know," The Joker began after he whipped away tears of laughter from his eyes, "I was kinda hoping you would bring along the kid. I love him. You know, I've always been a kid person!" The Joker started laughing again, clutching his sides.
Once again, Batman growled. But this growl was different. This was different than the I-really-hate-you-Jordan-leave-now growl or the I'm-about-to-stuff-kryptonite-down-your-throat growl reserved for Clark. No, this wasn't even the I'm-so-tempted-to-kill-you-right-here-and-now-you-dirty-rotten-scum. No, this was different. This was a protective growl that he had only seen once before in his entire life!
This was the growl of a father. And instantly, Hal knew that the kid had Batman under his spell, too. He was starting to get scared to meet the kid.
The Joker picked up Batman's belt. Although not being able to see the other vigilante's face, Hal had a suspicious feeling that he had a look of pure murder etched on his face.
"You know, Batsie, you think he would come here if you called him on your communicator? Because I think he would!" The Joker exclaimed. "And he might have some fun with us!"
"I won't call him." Stated Batman very simply.
The Joker pouted, red lips looking completely horrifying. "Party pooper. No cake for you." Hal would deny it later, but he was partially sure that he had shivered from that look of malice in the Joker's dark eyes. "I was hoping that you would help me out getting my favorite nephew here, bats, but," The Joker sighed dramatically, "I suppose I'll have to do it myself."
The Joker picked up a device and wrapped it around his throat. When he spoke, it was eerily in Batman's voice. "Well, this certainly is interesting." He laughed and Bruce's voice echoed off the walls. "Hm. So that's what your laugh sounds like." Noted the Joker. "No wonder you don't smile much!" He laughed again.
"Do not do this." Commanded Batman sternly.
"What?" The Joker asked innocently. He picked up the communicator. "This? Batman to Robin. Come in."
They waited for a moment in absolute silence and horror. "Hey, Bats. What's up?"
"Green Lantern showed up at a warehouse on Central Road. He wants to meet you." Stated the Joker, smirking at Hal who was horrified. Oh, man, he prayed that the kid got through this. Wait, the communicator. It was on . . . .
"Oh, okay! I'll be there in just a minute." The kid chirped over the communicator. Before the Joker could turn off the communicator, Hal crazily started yelling.
"HEY! THAT'S NOT BATMAN! IT'S THE JOKER! HE JUST SOUNDS LIKE BATMAN!" Hal shouted, gaining an annoyed look from the Joker.
"Wait, who was that?" Asked the kid again.
"Oh, uh, just the Green Lantern. He's excited to meet you." The Joker replied, stumbling in the stolen voice.
"I got it! I'll come as fast as I can, Batman! Oh, and make sure that the Green Lantern doesn't die of excitement by time I get there!" The nine year old chirped before the communicator was shut off.
While the Joker was sighing in relief, Jordan just heard the whisper of Batman. "We'll be out in about two minutes."
"You have a plan?" Hal asked hopefully.
"No." Replied the amazing Batman who was prepared for EVERYTHING!
"How do you know?" The Green Lantern asked, his hope slowly fading.
"I know Robin." Batman replied. It took the Green Lantern a moment (as he had just been calling Robin "the kid" in his mind) to reply and, before he could even respond, the Joker interrupted.
"What is wrong with you?" He exclaimed. "I barely ever get to see my beloved nephew and you try to ruin it for me? Why would you do that?" The Joker glared at him, completely serious.
"Uh . . . ." Hal honestly had no reply. How could he respond to a murderous clown who was the reason that he was hanging over a vat of acid with an earsplitting headache who was glaring at him for yelling to warn a nine year old of what was coming? Nope. There was absolutely no answer to that.
Thankfully, the Joker decided to rant to himself instead of receiving the answer, pacing back and forth as he yelled to himself about Hal. It must have been halfway through that torture that he felt something tighten with the rope. He looked up, even though his pounding head so was not happy about being upside-down, only to see the nine year old.
Man, the kid looked more like he was seven! His costume was bright, too, making it hard for Hal to wonder how he could have not seen or heard the kid get over to their rope to-
The nine year old was cutting the rope. He could feel the tension in Batman's back. He had seen the brightly colored kid as well. Why didn't he use the batlanguage to tell him to stop? Batman could have been doing it.
Jordan took a hard look for a moment. Nope. The kid was entirely focused on cutting the rope. Which meant that he and Batman were about to fall to their deaths!
He must have somehow tensed or something that made Batman realize what he was about to do. "Don't speak. Robin has a plan." Batman whispered.
"That includes us falling to our deaths?" He hissed angrily back.
The cutting froze for a moment before it began again. He glanced up to see Robin working even harder, tears almost springing to his eyes. Batman tensed against him as he whispered too low for even Robin to hear them. "Never say anything like that again."
With that sentence, Hal knew that Batman was glaring that glare again. He was not going to stand by while his kid was-
No. Hal interrupted himself. His son. Not his kid, his son.
It was then that they fell right into the pit of acid. It was then that Hal realized that it wasn't acid. He looked at it on his costume for a moment. "Paint?"
As if on cue, Robin flew at the Joker from his point on the ropes and Batman quickly joined him. Joker was too busy laughing and not defending that when Hal went to join them, the Joker was already on the ground with a pair of handcuffs around his wrists.
Looking at Batman, Hal could understand why the mad man was laughing. The pink man glared at him, daring Hal to laugh.
Hal decided that, for the greater good of not getting beat up by Batman, to look at the kid. "Hey, sport." He greeted. "Nice to meet you. Robin, right?"
"Yep! And you're Green Lantern-" He cut himself off, looking at the Joker. "So, you're, like, a space cop?"
The way that the kid's eyes lit up at the possibility made Hal get a feeling that he was going to like the kid. And he found that statement to be very true.
. . .
"We have to get him back!" Exclaimed John from beside him, bringing Hal back to the land of the living. "Now! Who knows what kind of torture that he's going through! He-"
"We have tried." Interrupted the Martian. "I have not been able to track his mind and at the same time, Batman himself has found-"
He was suddenly cut off when the monitor flashed on with a very . . . grim looking Batman. However, Batman had this different look to his sternness. A very different look. "Zeta to Gotham. Now."
The Flash, ever so curious, looked at Batman cautiously. "Why?"
"We've found Robin. And it's time to bring him home."
And so it began.