Tim groaned as the crowbar came down on him again. Nightwing was chained to the wall with a gag and was being forced to watch his little brother's beating, which Joker claimed was "An initiation"
Robin did his best to hide the pain and refused to allow Joker what he wanted. He absolutely, stubbornly refused to let out anything more than a started yelp. Joker was at a loss of how to make the kid sing for him.
"You're not as much fun as that other Robin, now what was his name again? Jason or something, right?" Joker turned toward the even angrier, chained up vigilante "Too bad I didn't get to play with him very long, he was quite amusing"
Nightwing growled into the gag and Joker laughed wildly. It had been twenty minutes, by Tim's count and he was bleeding profusely from where Joker had pierced him (namely the torso) He was shaking both from the cold and pain. He finally understood why Jason hated the damn clown so much, being hit with a crowbar was definitely not a fun activity.
Nightwing's wrists were bleeding from the shackles keeping him in place, but he didn't let up trying to wriggle them free, he knew there was zero chance of it working, but when had that ever stopped him before? Maybe the blood would even help slip his wrists free.
Robin just continued shaking and trying to forgot about the pain, which was especially hard to do when the crowbar was constantly finding a new bone to break or more skin to bruise.
"I wonder what good ol' Bats'll think about this when he gets back from his fun adventure out in space. Always wanted to go there, myself. To look out at all the dark cold stillness and the new planets to wreak havoc upon. Oh how much fun that would be, even better if Harley came along too!" Joker prattled on as if making casual conversation with a close friend as he continued to brutally beat Tim to a bloodied pulp.
The best part of that speech was the fact that it was wrong. Batman had come back three days ago, he just hadn't been working in the field, he was busy trying to find out something about alien blood from a planet or something.
When the crowbar came down upon Robin for the umpteenth time, it crashed down onto his hip bone and he let out a terrified, pain filled scream.
Nightwing struggled even more, yelling out muffled protests that were ignored.
Joker crouched down next to his face "Now was that really so hard? Your Uncle J just wanted to listen to you sing! In fact your voice is so nice, I think I want to hear it again"
Tim looked up at the grinning clown of death and the crowbar coated with his blood before looking over to a desperate Nightwing with blood running down his wrists. He closed his eyes and waited for the next bone breaking hit to strike him, as he started to black out, but it never came.
The door was blown in and barely missed Joker's head, too bad he ducked in time. A very angry man walked in, wielding two guns in his hands and wearing a red helmet with his new suit that had the red bat symbol on it, and the leather jacket he blatantly refused to let go.
An enraged Red Hood charged at the heartless madman. It didn't take long to knock the insane clown out and it took all of Jason's will to refrain from beating him within an inch of his life, maybe a bit further. Shaking slightly from his anger Jason quickly released Dick and they both rushed to Tim's side. He was deathly pale and Dick felt like crying at the sight of his young brother.
"Tim?" Dick gently touched his face, hoping to get a response at the contact, his blood dripping down onto Tim's shoulder and neck.
Tim wasn't breathing and Dick quickly felt for a pulse. His breathing became heavy when he realized that there was none. He was too shocked to do anything other than stare. Jason knew that Dick would be no help, he had just lost a close friend last week and wasn't prepared for the trauma of losing his little brother. Dick had already lost so many people in his life and Jason was the only one that he got a second chance with, he couldn't lose anyone else, he wouldn't be able to handle any more deaths. Dick sat back against the wall, tears falling down beneath the mask and to the floor, he screwed his eyes shut and tried to block everything out, he didn't want to think anymore, he couldn't.
Jason took charge of the situation and started CPR on Tim. He tried to manoeuvre around the broken ribs as he pushed down on Tim's chest. With each pump against Tim's heart, there was a small cracking noise that made Jason feel sick.
"Come on Tim, you are not allowed to die"
He removed his helmet and reluctantly started the mouth to mouth. He was nearing the point of giving up and feared having to explain the situation to Bruce, especially about how the event affected Dick's mental state, when a small gasp reached his ears. He looked back at Tim and noticed his chest rising a tiny bit and falling, it was slow and Tim's breathing was still very far off from a healthy amount, but he was still alive and that was all that really mattered.
He quickly called Batman through the comm link.
"Jason, what is it?"
"Trace my coordinates, fast and bring some medical supplies and definitely bring a breathing machine"
"What, why? What's happened!?"
"Just get your ass over here! You're wasting precious time!" Jason disconnected and draped his jacket over the little bird when he noticed his shivering body.
Tim stopped shaking as much and Jason knelt by Dick's side.
"Dickie?" He gently shook the man out of his isolated state.
Dick slowly looked up.
"Tim is still alive, and Bruce is on his way, okay?"
Dick looked back at the little bird and nodded.
"How exactly did this happen? You don't have to tell me if you don't want to" Sometimes Jason felt like he was the older brother.
Knowing that Tim wasn't dead seemed to bring Dick a little closer to normal "We were just casually swinging across the streets, like usual and on one of the rooftops, there was Joker. He said he'd been waiting ages for us and before we could do anything a gas bomb blew up. All I heard was Joker laughing before blacking out. I woke up chained to the wall and Tim was already getting beaten"
Jason grimaced beneath his emotionless helmet. He obviously understood what Tim had gone through, having experienced it before, but then again, Dick had gotten it first.
"How did you find us?" Dick looked directly into Jason's hidden eyes.
It felt like Dick was staring straight into his soul "I was just wandering around when I heard Tim" He cleared his throat "Ya know"
"Yeah, I know" Dick involuntarily shuddered as the sound of Tim's scream ran through his mind.
Jason hugged Dick, he had never been much of a hugger himself, but it was what Dick needed. He leaned into Jason's embrace as they waited for Batman while watching Robin, to make sure they didn't lose him.
Neither of the two kept track of the time or when they fell asleep and were startled when they woke to the mask of the Dark Knight. Dick's mental state had definitely improved, whether the sleep helped, the sight of his father or just the fact that Tim was still breathing, it was clearly better. Batman handed a bandage roll to Red Hood and left him to help the bleeding wrists of Nightwing.
He stroked Tim's face gently and whispered "Sorry" before carefully picking him up and lying him in the back of the batmobile.
It didn't take long for Nightwing and Red Hood to join him. Dick taking shotgun and Jason sitting next to Tim's small and damaged body. He placed his hand on Tim's head and his glove contracted some of the blood matted in it. Taking in the actual extent of his visible injuries, tears prickled Jason's eyes and he didn't completely understand why. He had always hated the brat for replacing him (even if he only did it to keep Bruce in check) but seeing him the way he was now and because of the Joker, Jason's hatred for his replacement melted away and was replaced with a protective impulse.
"Sir, what-" Alfred's eyes widened when he noticed Tim cradled in Bruce's arms and Dick's blood covered bandages wrapped around his wrists.
After Bruce, Alfred and Tim disappeared behind the door of the cave's medical room, Dick practically collapsed, but Jason managed to catch him and eased them both down onto the cave's cold ground. Dick used Jason's shoulder like a pillow and hot tears flowed from his eyes. It didn't take long for Jason's own tears to follow.
Some time later, an uncowled Bat emerged and approached his two, crying sons. He had expected the reaction for Dick, but from Jason? He had only seen him cry two times before and he definitely wouldn't have thought he'd ever cry over Tim.
Dick opened his eyes and glanced up at his dad, Jason's line of vision shifted to Bruce's face, both just sat against the cave's wall and waited.
"Severe" Bruce answered the silent question floating around the tense air.
"How severe?" Jason catechized.
"Twelve broken ribs, four on the left side and eight on the right"
Both boys visibly winced and Batman continued listing the injuries Tim sustained.
"A fractured left leg, broken arm and broken collarbone, hip bone, all on the right side"
Dick coughed when he took in too much air from his surprise.
"He managed to hold back a scream when his collarbone broke? They hurt" A sheepish look passed over Dick's face "Uh you can continue now"
Bruce didn't want to continue but he did, just the same "Collapsed lung, internal bleeding and a heart contusion"
Dick had turned two shades paler by the end of the explanation, Jason had only paled one. Bruce was really confused now.
'Jason comes back all vengeful and tries to kill Tim, now he actually cares about him? I expected him to be happy about this'
"He's stable though?" The slightly discoloured Jason asked.
"For now" Bruce gruffed and went back to Tim's side, without another word.
Dick had taken Jason's shoulder back and silently stared ahead at nothing in particular.
"He'll be fine" Jason voiced bluntly.
"Yeah? How do you know?"
"If he held back from screaming at a broken collarbone, he can get through this"
Dick smiled "Yesterday you were planning the perfect way to kill him without any suspicions toward you and now you're crying over him"
"Well I know what he's going through"
"So do I"
"Yeah, I know"
"'Cept you had it worse, you died"
"Yeah, well I'm here now"
"I'm glad you came back, even if you were a little crazy at first"
Dick didn't reply because he was asleep. Jason looked down and sighed.
'Guess I won't be moving for a while'
Jason let his mind wonder, which proved to be a bad idea when he got caught up in a flashback of his final encounter with Joker.
《 I was suddenly at the mercy of the Joker.
'After all that effort to find my birth mother, she turns me over to an insane clown with Bat issues'
The crowbar fell down upon me, one of Joker's favourite torture methods, according to Dick and no wonder, it hurts. It just kept crashing against me, I heard and felt my bones breaking. The hits came so fast, I could barely comprehend what was happening, aside from the pain. After Joker finally stopped, thinking I was dead, he turned to talk with my mother.
"My! But that was fun! Kind of messy though" Joker stated, covered in my blood.
"But what's Batman going to do when he finds out what you've done to his, little friend?" My mother questioned.
"Hadn't thought of that" Joker whispered to himself "He's a vengeful one, that Batman. This could get a bit sticky. Maybe it would be best if I didn't leave behind any evidence of my presence. What the Batman doesn't know, can't hurt me! Too bad you had to witness this little display of my temper, Sheila"
"It won't work Joker! They'll know it's you from the slaughtered refugees!"
"Perhaps the authorities will figure their deaths were caused by something disagreeable that they ate, doesn't matter , there won't be any direct evidence connecting me to the birdboy's death"
My hearing zoned out and I almost lost consciousness but I fought to hold on and when I managed to beat the sleep I heard my mum.
"It can't end like this"
I forced myself up.
"JASON! You're still alive! The bomb Jason, deactivate it!"
"In..no shape... to handle.. that. Gotta.. get you... outta.. here. I'll.. save you... mum"
Why did I try to save the woman that almost had me killed? I have no freaking idea, but I did, nevertheless. Maybe I just didn't want to lose another mother, evil or not.
57 seconds left, I finished untying the rope wrapped around my mother, attaching her to the pole.
"You're... free.. run.. for it.. go" My body gave up and I fell to the ground.
33 seconds, I could see the hesitation in her eyes but she came and helped me up.
"Come on let me help you. We'll both get out of here, together. We're almost there"
She set me against a box "Stay here while I get the door" She ordered.
'Where could I go in this state?'
"It's locked! The Joker locked us in here!"
My instinct to protect my mum kicked in again and I threw myself in front of her. The bomb exploded and rocked the warehouse, the heat was overwhelming.
"JASON!" Is the last thing I recall hearing before the darkness enveloped me, I knew it was Bruce 》
Jason woke up and his shoulder felt cold without Dick's head resting against it. He was left to wonder when he fell to sleep and when Dick had left, then he realized he was in his room at the manor, not the cave.
'Bruce or Dick must've gotten me up here'
He forced himself up and out of the bed, changing out of his hero outfit that had been left on and into normal clothes, still wearing the jacket though. He trudged down the stairs and looked around for the rest of the household members.
'Where could they be? The cave, wow I'm slow, where else would they be?' Jason entered the staircase behind the clock and walked down, his steps echoing quietly in the monstrous cavern.
He pushed the door concealing Tim and stepped inside, silently sauntered to the bed he had been laid on and stood beside Bruce.
"Any idea when he'll wake up?"
"No, but hopefully soon" Bruce answered quietly.
"Still asleep, probably"
"So, it was you that took me up two flights of stairs to lay me on a bed"
"Before or after Dick?"
"I was supposed to take you up first, but then Dick would've fallen to the ground and woke up"
"You're talkative today"
Bruce remained silent.
"His dad died just a few weeks ago"
Jason had no idea what to say to that or why Bruce even said it in the first place.
"And now this happens to him"
Jason got what was happening now.
"Why do bad things always happen to people I love? My parent's death, your death, all the things that happened to Dick, Barbara being paralyzed and now this"
"It has nothing to do with you"
"Sure seems like it"
"Well what're you gonna do about it? What can you do? Nothing, that's what. Even if you fire us, which none of us would stand for anyway, we're still a target for criminals, just by being under your guardianship. Well I should be safe, since I'm supposed to be dead, but Dick, Tim and even Alfred wouldn't be, as skilled as each of them are"
Bruce didn't dignify that with an answer and Jason walked out, after glancing over at Tim. He went up to Dick's room and didn't bother knocking before barging in. Dick was laying horizontally, on his stomach, across his bed, most of the blankets were strewn over the floor along with three out of five pillows, the other two were still at the bedhead, where everything else should've been. He was wearing a black singlet and gray sweatpants.
Jason took note of the many scars on his older brother. Most were just from knives and bullets, didn't have any meaning. Then there was the 'R' on his back shoulder and the long scar from his other shoulder right down to the end of his middle finger, both from Joker. The scar near his elbow was created from when Two-Face broke his arm, which was the last cicatrix Jason could identify.
Dick started to wake up and Jason patiently waited, just standing three meters from the bed, arms folded. When Dick actually got up and turned toward the door, he jumped and fell off the bed. Jason couldn't have held back his laugh if he wanted to. Dick growled in annoyance and used the bed to help him stand up.
"How long have you been there?" He asked irritatedly.
"Probably only a few minutes, I'm not sure, wasn't keeping track"
"Of course you weren't" Dick looked over at Jason "Shut up, it's not funny"
"I didn't say anything" Jason smirked and his vibrant green eyes glittered with amusement.
"Your eyes did"
Jason let out another short laugh.
The two stood in silence with no idea what to do, until Alfred opened the door.
"Master Tim is awake"
They raced past the British elder and into the cave. Jason was by Tim's bedside just seconds before Dick.
"Who said it was a race?" Dick defended.
"Aren't you supposed to be paying attention to me?" Tim cut in innocently.
He was sitting up against the headboard, covered in bandages and obviously not breathing properly.
"Don't have to" Jason replied like he was suddenly annoyed by his presence "But I will anyway, just to annoy you"
Tim smiled playfully "Back to hating me?"
"When did I ever stop hating you, replacement?"
"Well, according to Bruce, you were crying over your little 'replacement'"
Jason scoffed "Yeah right, you're not worth crying over"
"Then why was water falling from your eyes?"
"Looked at the ceiling lights too long"
"Don't make me laugh, seriously it'll be too painful"
"Hey Dick, got any good jokes?"
"Or better yet, any way to shut Jay up?"
"I've got a solution to both your problems, but I'm not going to help" Dick replied "You alright?" He directed at Tim (obviously)
"As alright as possible I guess, the only improvement would be Jason, out of sight"
"Yeah, well I ain't goin' anywhere babybird"
"He's like an itch that you just can't scratch away, isn't he?" Tim asked Dick.
Dick almost burst out into laughter at the mixed look on Jason's face. Anger, astonishment, confusion and a few other emotions portraying through Jason's usual smug or blank expression.
"Yeah, he really is" Dick's signature smile spread across his face.
"Don't take his side Dick!"
"I always go for the winning side, sorry"
"Y-" Dick's phone suddenly interrupted Jason's remark.
"Sorry, gotta take this" Dick left the room, phone pressed to his ear.
"You sure you're alright?" Jason decided to break the sudden silence.
"Only hurts to do, well, everything, but yeah, I'm fine, I guess"
"I'm... glad, that you're still... alive"
"There's a surprise, crybaby"
"Dick was crying more" Jason defended.
"Well, that's to be expected, isn't It? He actuallyshows emotions, on a regular basis"
"Have absolutely no idea what to say?"
"Something like that" Jason admitted.
"I know what you're trying to say and I forgive you, for all the times you tried to kill me"
"What if I'm not sorry about those incidents?"
"Then I would be highly disappointed and annoyed that you were just jealous because it was Joker that did this to me and not you"
"I'm not jealous! I honestly don't think I could hurt you, at least not this much"
"It should be, now you don't have to sleep with one eye open whenever I'm around"
Tim smirked, amusingly and raised his eyebrow "I think I still will, just in case"
"An unnecessary precaution but if it makes you feel better"
"Right now, the only thing that would make me feel better, besides not being in such pain, would be a hug"
Jason didn't know what made him do it, the way Tim innocently implied that he wanted a hug, how lonely, sad and in pain he looked or just something else that Jason couldn't understand, but he pulled his younger brother into a hug. Tim seemed genuinely surprised, but he hugged back, with his good arm. Dick walked back in and smiled.
"I see you two are getting along"
"Don't. Make a big deal" Jason warned.
Dick quickly took a photo "Wasn't going to littlewing. You're not actually crushing his bones and pretending to hug him, are you?"
"If I were trying to do that, he wouldn't be breathing any more"
"Fair point" Dick quickly took another photo before putting his phone away "I'm just gonna go do something quickly" He hurried out, smiling in a way Jason would describe as 'evil'
"I'm glad you're not dead"
"And I'm glad you came back, Jay"
Dick ran up the stairs and through the clock into Bruce study, where he was sitting at his desk, doing absolutely nothing. Dick pulled out his phone and went into the gallery.
"What do you want, Dick?"
"To show you something interesting that you'll probably never see again"
"What?" Bruce asked in an agitated tone.
Dick handed the phone to Bruce and waited for his reaction. Confusion then surprise and after overcoming the shock, a smile crept across his face.
"What're you planning to do with this photo?"
"Well, I wanted to post it on Facebook, but since it's in the cave and Tim's injuries would be questioned, it's best to stay away from that idea. Maybe I'll just print it and hang it on Jason's wall so when he wakes up-"
"He'll get really angry and try to kill you?"
Bruce chuckled "Sounds good"