Chapter One

"Nightwing! Get him out of there." Batman clamoured, kicking one of the many thugs under the chin and sending him flying.

"Gotcha'" The man somersaulted into the air, his black suit blending into the midnight sky so only his determined eyes glared at the gang of men below. The men had Robin pinned up against the wall, clutching his neck and laughing like a pack of hyenas. The boy was kicking out in vain and trying to pry the large, malicious fingers away from his throat, but spots were covering his eyes and his brain was going a little fuzzy. Nightwing landed to the ground and wrapped an arm round one of the largest guy's shoulders and tossed him at least eighteen feet away. Before the young superhero could get any closer the Joker stepped out of the shadows, laughing hysterically and pointing a gun to the wriggling youth.

"Hold it right there, Shitewing and Fatman. One wrong move and the kid goes pop." Everyone froze. Nightwing swallowed and Batman turned his head slowly.

"What do you want, Joker?"

"What do I want? Excellent question, my old fiend." Then he began chuckling again. Robin began lashing out once more, gasping for air as he punched the man's arm. The thug snorted and grabbed the boy's spiky black hair and rammed his head off the wall he held him too. Robin's arms dropped and his head snapped down to his collarbone as he fell unconscious.

"Noisy boy, you've got there." The Joker remarked and clicked his gun as Nightwing stepped closer to him in a silent rage of fury.

"Now, now. Hold your distance or I will shoot the little brat." He sang and pointed the gun to Robin's barely raising chest.

"Batman, since you are the sensible one of this little hero gang, listen up. Ten days from today the Crown Jewels opening event is being held and of course the world's most prized jewels will be on display for all to see. As you might well know Mr Wayne has been put in charge of security along with some other rather impressive looking men."

"Your point, Joker." Nightwing sneered.

"Tut, tut boy. Where are your manners? I have to say Batman, I am a little disappointed the way you have raised these young imbeciles."

Batman glanced at Robin and at the back of Nightwing's head. The Joker paused as if waiting for him to retaliate and after a moment or so he continued.

"Well, on to your job now. I want you to make sure Bruce Wayne and all his friends are out of the way so to speak at exactly seven pm on the night. My face is quite a lovely sight, but I don't think I would be welcome to attend and so have to remain in the shadows while you get rid of the security and I steal the jewels. Clear?"

Nightwing laughed softly. "Like, we would just let you take the jewels."

"We?" The joker asked. "No, no. You misunderstand. This is a one-man job and since Batman is the only man around here, the job goes to him. If I so much of catch a sniff of any of your little sidekicks Batman, I will blow the place up."

"Why not just blow it up in the first place and take the jewels in the panic?"

"Oh, Batman. Do you think I would like such chaos of panicking people running around like headless chickens? No, I certainly wouldn't. I like things to go much simpler. All you have to do is make sure the security are kept busy somewhere else while me and my boys take what should be ours."

"And if I don't comply?" Batman asked in a voice frosty as winter.

" I will blow the place up and not only that. I will hunt down your little bratty sidekicks and personally kill every single one. Including the boy. I think you'll find it is much better to go along with my plans. Now, I'll leave you to think it over. Now, goodnight." And with that the Joker chucked a playing card in the heroes' direction which blew up releasing thick, smouldering smoke. When it cleared the two men's eyes fell to the crumpled form that was Robin.

They ran over to him and Batman scooped him up over his shoulder as Nightwing started firing questions.

"Is he ok? Batman, he looks paler. What's wrong? And what are we going to do about the Joker? You can't seriously go through with it. Can you? You can't do it alone? Batman?"

"Let's leave it for tonight and we'll talk later. Lets get Robin back."

They reached the Batmobile and Batman lay Robin down in the car. "You drive tonight, Nightwing. I'm going to sit in the back with him."

Nightwing nodded solemnly and slid into the car. Before he pulled onto the road, he glanced behind him where he saw Bruce pulling off his mask and stroking Robin's head and hair.

"He'll be fine you know. He's a fighter." Nightwing smiled and Bruce shook his head.

"I know, but I can't stop thinking. What life am I giving the boy? Tonight he could have been strangled or shot. Two nights ago he fell down a flight of stairs and last week he nearly got run over by that van full of thieves."

"Nobody said it would be easy for him, but he has hero's blood in him now and he has us to look out for him."

"What life have I given you?" Bruce asked, almost glaring at him. Nightwing swallowed and turned back around to the steering wheel.