Heart Rate = fear/outcome
Body Temperature = task/environment
Blood Pressure = expectations/independence
Respiratory Rate = obstacle/resolution
The heat in the manor was absolutely unacceptable. Dick didn’t know what Alfred was thinking. It was spring, why was his fireplace lit? Was the heat on too? Dick mumbled pushing his sheet off his face. His bed was oddly uncomfortable. He must have fallen asleep on his books again. Sophomore year was going to be the death of him. ACTs and SATs and Midterms were all so inconveniently close together. He had honestly considered arresting the organizers of the exams several times. They must have broken some law, had an unpaid traffic ticket, something.
He was going to roll over and go back to sleep. He was going to never get up. At least that was his plan until his bed moved.
Dick’s eyes snapped open, only to see fire dancing above him. The flames he had thought were safely burning in his fireplace were coming from a wooden beam suspended five feet above him. Dick sat up and scrambled out from under it. His hand caught on his cape as he moved. Not his sheet, not his bed, not the manor at all. Dick’s eyes took in the destruction around him, in pure confusion. Where the actual--
His eyes landed on a black mass of limbs and fabric. Bruce. Bruce lay in a heap mear feet from where Dick had once been lying. Bruce was under the beam. Well Batman was technically lying under the still blazing beam. Dick’s eyes flicked up to it. The wood was groaning and splitting.
“B! Move!” Dick leapt forward to grab Batman's legs and pull him out from under the flaming wood.
Bruce groaned slightly as Dick pulled.
Once they were both clear from the danger of being crushed, Dick dropped Bruce’s legs. His mind was battling between wanting to examine Batman for injuries, and the room for further danger. Dick could almost hear Bruce telling him, “It’s better to know all the moving pieces than to turn your back on a possible threat. Know everything before you move.”
Dick tore his eyes away from Bruce and looked around again. The room they were in was half burning. The plaster and door jambs were ablaze along with several wooden support beams that had once held the ceiling. Dick wondered how hot it would have to be before the concrete itself caught on fire. Too hot for humans he was sure. Dick fumbled for his comm unit. It didn’t even admit static. He sighed and yanked the worthless equipment out of his ear. The wires had either fused in the heat or the bomb had been connected to some sort of EMF admission. It was impossible to tell without taking it apart. Dick pulled out his computer unit. It wouldn’t even turn on. After assessing that they were not in imminent danger of being crushed to death by any hostile construction materials, Dick turned to Bruce.
“Batman?” Dick yanked off his glove and pushed his fingers inside the folded fabric that allowed the Cowl to slide on and off. Three inches from his Adam's apple Bruce’s pulse beat against Dick’s fingers. Dick let out a huff of air in relief. Assured that Bruce was still alive he began inspecting him for damage. Black really was an inconvenient color when you wanted to see where someone was bleeding.
Dick glanced at Bruce’s face and continued to press bandages on his torso.
“Yeah. How you feeling, B?”
“Hrn. I’ve been better. You?” Bruce’s eyes raked over him slowly.
Dick had to keep himself from bristling. The relief he felt at Bruce’s waking evaporated, and the irritation he had been feeling all night replaced it. Even when Bruce was injured he didn’t trust him to take care of them both. “I’m fine. You on the other hand...”
“Did you call Agent A?” Bruce pulled himself up and replaced Dick’s hand on his wound with his own.
Dick shook his head and began pulling out wound packing powder. Bruce had already bleed through the first set of gauze.
Batman sighed and lifted his still free hand to his comm unit.
“I didn’t call because the bomb knocked out my gear and you broke your comm on Friday. You grabbed the wrong one...Remember? ” They had been in such a rush. Dick didn’t really blame Bruce for the oversight. But it still was kinda nice to be able to point out that it was actually Bruce who had messed up.
Bruce dropped his hand and frowned. “Right.”
“I’m not incompetent, Bruce.”
“Robin,” Batman looked at him with a frown. “I didn’t say you were.”
“Whatever.” Dick pushed the hand covering Bruce’s wound aside and began inserting the highly absorbent packing powder inside it. Bruce had been treating him like a child all night. His mollycoddling had ended with them here.
Bruce’s jaw clenched, but he gave no other sign of discomfort, as Dick moved to redress the injury now clotting with Wayne tech military grade packing powder.
“How long was I out?”
Dick glanced up at Bruce’s face. He was watching him with an odd expression. One Dick couldn’t place. “No clue. I came to about a minute and a half before you.”
“Did you hit your head?”
“Hrn. Are you sure you're okay?”
“Yeah. I told you I’m fine.” Dick rolled his eyes, “Okay, that should hold for a bit. Anything else leaking?”
Bruce snorted. “Not at the moment.”
“A couple fractured ribs, and possibly my elbow.”
Dick winced in sympathy. “So you can walk?”
Rather than answer Bruce pushed himself up, swayed slightly for a moment and nodded.
“Great. Well I think we should get out of here before we get heat rash.”
“Yes. I-- This isn’t the room we were in before is it?”
Dick looked around. They had been deep in the factory when they found the bomb, but when it became clear that they weren’t going to disarm it in time, they’d run. Perhaps Bruce had hit his head hard enough that he didn’t remember the running away part.
“I didn’t ask the tour guide what room we were in, B.”
Bruce shot him a look of irritation.
Dick got the hint. Joke later.
“Do you still have the building plans on your computer?”
“Well yes, but you’re forgetting the bomb also--”
“Knock out the tech. Right. Right.” Bruce frowned slightly, likely due to irritation at his own forgetfulness.
“It’s okay though. I remember the layout. I think we're in a storage room off the East hall that leads to the offices.”
Bruce jumped as the beam finally gave way and fell. Dick frowned, concern quickly over taking his anger at the man. Bruce didn’t jump in surprise. If he ever was caught off guard he usually stiffened slightly. Was Bruce really that out of it?
“Right so we need to head…” Bruce turned about trying to get his bearings.
“This way.” Dick started forward climbing over bits of hot rubble and burning furniture. He didn’t turn to see if Batman was following him. He could hear him. Something was definitely wrong. Bruce stumbled his way across the room following Dick. Dick finally came to a stop when he found the door, half blocked by a fallen filing cabinet.
Batman was panting as he reached Robin’s side. Deciding not to ask for help, Robin reached forward to shift the cabinet from the door, careful to only touch the hot metal with his glove covered hands. It took him longer than it would have taken Bruce to move the cabinet on a normal day, but Bruce made no comment on Dick’s slowness. He also didn’t offer to help. Dick set aside his concern along with the too heavy filing cabinet. He didn’t want Bruce hovering over him anyway.
Once in the hallway-- if it could even be called that anymore-- It became clear that Bruce had expended all his energy getting through the first door. After falling more than ten steps behind, Batman slumped against the slightly smoking wall.
Dick whipped around, Batman’s voice was barely above a whisper. He was shocked he could hear it over the cracking of fire. Dick was in front of him before Bruce could blink, inspecting his wound once more.
“I think I need help.”
Dick wondered vaguely how much it hurt for Bruce to admit that. Nodding he pulled Bruce’s unbroken arm over his shoulder.
“Uff.” Dick huffed as Bruce’s weight settled on him. “You need to go on a diet.”
“I’m not fat.”
“Then you need to get a lighter suit.” Dick smirked up at Bruce.
“Yes, let me call Lucius and see how that goes over.”
Dick laughed as he pulled Bruce forward. “I’ll call him myself. Yes, Mr. Fox. I would like to request that we look into producing bullet proof material that weighs less than three pounds per yard.”
Bruce made a sound that was half between a snort and groan.
Their progress was slow, but steady. Dick paused every now and then either to kick a small obstacle away from Bruce’s feet or to walk around it all together. The time seemed to move like molasses. Though it had only been minutes it felt like hours. Bruce slowly became quieter, no longer grunting at Dick’s jokes or jabs. Dick’s smile melted. Bruce seemed to lean heavier on his shoulder as they went. His breath was coming in rattling gasps. Dick eyed the smoldering remnants of the hallway warily.
It was slowly filling with dark grey smoke, making it more difficult to breathe by the second. Robin shuffled, with Batman still half draped over his shoulders, to the wall. He quickly ran his glove over the surface and when it didn’t feel too hot, he leaned Bruce against it.
“Robin?” Bruce sounded like he had just woken up. Perhaps he had.
Dick wondered for a moment if Batman could walk in his sleep. He probably could. “Just getting you your batbreather, Old Man.”
“‘M not old.” Bruce’s voice came out cracked and gnarled.
“Sure you are. You’re practically ancient. You’ll be needing a cane any day now.”
Bruce accepted the batbreather, without any resistance, and they were off again. He said nothing when Dick didn’t put on his own. Which Dick took to mean that his eyes were indeed closed under the cowl. Dick couldn’t remember what this place had been used for now, something with plastic. At least that was what it smelled like. Burnt plastic was a very pungent scent. He almost wanted to wear his batbreather. But then Bruce might need it if his stopped working, or when the filters were full. Alfred was going to yell at him, Bruce would be horrified but he didn’t really care. Bruce needed it more.
Dick really wasn’t sure how much ground they had covered, it didn’t seem enough. Dick wanted to do a jig when he found the door to the main factory floor. Just a hundred or so yards to freedom. The longer Bruce was quiet the more worried he was becoming. Dick wanted nothing more than to run and get the Batmobile. Wanted nothing more than to push Bruce down on the med bay cot and let Alfred fuss over him. Dick wanted to be home.
Of course it was then that Bruce’s full weight suddenly dropped on him.
“B?” Dick yelped as they were both sent crashing to the floor. Dick took the brunt of the fall, pulling Bruce away from hitting the ground himself.
“Bruce?” Dick didn’t fully understand for a moment what had happened. Had Bruce tripped. Robin reached over and pulled on Bruce’s shoulder to get a better look at his face. “B, are you okay?”
Bruce didn’t answer. There was no grunt telling him not to be silly. Of course he was fine. He was Batman.
“B?” Dick’s voice came out a whisper amongst the smoke and flame. “Bruce!?” He didn’t like the way his voice sounded. Panicked . His hands went to Bruce’s injury. Had he lost too much blood? What was wrong? It was as his fingers sought to check the wound that he realized. Bruce’s chest wasn’t moving. He wasn’t breathing. Not again. Not again. Not another paren-- Partner.
Robin clung to his partner, plagued by a feeling much too close to hopelessness. He tried not to think about how his mother and father had been just as still. Dick had no way to call for help. There was no one else to turn to. No one else he could pass the problem off on. He had to fix it, or Bruce was never going to breathe again. In that moment Dick thought he could feel his heart stop from fear. He ripped the batbreather away from Bruce’s face and put his ear to Batman’s mouth. Dick swore a string of words that would have left Alfred’s swear jar full.
“Focus, Robin. Focus.” Dick mumbled to himself. Work the problem. Act.
Lifting Bruce slightly he swept the ground clear then once more set Bruce flat on his back.
“Lay them on a flat surface.” Check.
“Inspect airway for blockage,” Check, Bruce’s throat was empty.
“Tilt head back,” Check. Dick didn’t know why he said each step aloud. It was almost reassuring. He could almost pretend it wasn’t him talking. It was Batman or Alfred drilling him on what to do.
“Rescue Breath.” Check
“Wait. Listen for breathing.” Dick had never listened so carefully in his life. Nothing.
“Second Rescue Breath.” Dick’s throat felt tight.
“One. Two. Three. Four--” Bruce’s already cracked ribs gave way. Dick kept going.
“Two breaths.” It’s fine, it’s fine . Just like training. This was just that stupid training dummy Bruce kept for him to practice on.
“Breathe. Breathe. Come on. You don’t-- you can’t leave. You promised.” Dick yelled at the man under him on the fifth set of compressions. “You said you wouldn't leave like them. That you’d take care of me and you can’t do that if you're dead. So breathe! You absolutely useless, lying--”
Dick almost missed the sound. The room was still burning and fire was very loud. But he heard it. The smallest of exhales. It wasn’t like a movie, where Bruce shot up gasping for breath. No in reality, life was so much quieter. Smaller.
Dick sat just staring at the man for a moment, unable to comprehend the shallow rise and fall of Bruce’s chest. He wondered if he was imagining it. Gently he lay his gloved hand on his chest, feeling each breath. He didn’t want to look away, but they couldn’t stay. Who knew how long he would stay breathing on his own.
Blinking back the tears still streaming down his face, he replaced the batbreather over Bruce’s mouth. His chest was burning. His arms and shoulders were aching in away they never had before. Dick looked around at the chaos. Burning wood, twisted metal, and crumbling concrete. A hundred yards might as well be a hundred miles. What if the exit he remembered didn’t even exist anymore? What if it was buried under too much rubble for him to move? What if he couldn’t get out before the roof finally fell in? What if he couldn’t save him?
Dick inhaled the burning air. The smoke felt like it was clawing at his throat. Just take it one problem at a time, he supposed. It was all he could do. He quickly checked Bruce’s wound. He’d bleed through the gauze again. Dick didn’t have anymore packing powder, he didn’t have anymore bandages. Bruce of course had only a couple tucked away in his utility belt, but it would have to do. After a few moments redressing the gaping hole in Bruce’s side, Dick hooked his arms under Bruce’s armpits and began pulling him across the factory floor.
His shoulders began to shake after five yards. He slipped the first time after six. Bruce luckily didn’t have far to fall as Dick dropped him. Though Dick didn’t like how his head smacked the ground. Dick unfortunately landed on a jagged piece of sheet metal. It burned as it sliced against his back. He really hoped it would only need stitches. Not pausing to inspect it, he instead focused on Bruce’s chest. It still was moving. He was still breathing.
Slowly Dick moved to his feet again. His eyes were burning, his lungs were protesting, and his body felt like jello. He picked up Bruce again and pulled.
Dick was done. Absolutely and positively done. He was going to sit down and quit. He was tired, angry, ached all over and generally put out with the whole situation. They had only covered two thirds of the room. Though merciful he continued to breath on his own, Bruce had remained stubbornly silent the whole way. Even when Dick had yelled and shouted at him. He was tired and stressed and angry. Angry at Bruce, for doing his very best to die on him every five minutes. Angry at Bruce for not letting him just cut the wire. Dick knew he had had the right one, but Bruce hadn’t believed him. He hadn’t believed in him the whole day. He was all “No, you can’t go by yourself. No, we’re not splitting up.”
Well it had cost them. It had cost Bruce. They hadn’t found the bomb with enough time for Bruce to be sure how to defuse it. This whole thing was Bruce’s fault. If the man had just listened to him for once in his life, they wouldn’t be here. They could have been on the other side of Gotham stopping muggers and thieves. They could be laughing at the stupidity of some random idiot setting up a pathetic bomb in their factory. They could be back at the cave drinking hot chocolate, miles away from this burning mess. But no Batman had been insistent, they needed to stay together. Robin couldn’t handle splitting up. As if Dick had never worked on his own before. As if he had never defused a bomb by himself. Batman had been an unreasonable, controlling chicken. And he hadn’t particularly enjoyed it when Dick voiced exactly what he felt his so called partner was being either.
But had he listened would they be here? No. They most definitely-- well it was probable that they wouldn’t be anyway. At least not both of them. And if Bruce wasn’t here then Dick would have had a much easier time trying to get out. But then again if Dick wasn’t here--
Dick shook his head to rid the thought from his mind.
Bruce grunted slightly as Dick dragged him over a particularly uneven stretch of rubble. The sound was quiet but it was all Dick could hear. It was the most beautiful noise in the world and the most terrible all at once. Dick would give anything to hear it again for it meant that Bruce was alive. But he knew that grunt. It was one the Batman made when he was in pain. Bad pain. Dick chose to ignore the pang in his chest, as he continued to heft and pull the man through the half collapsed factory. For the seventh time Dick slipped and dropped Bruce from where he was gripping him under his arms. Lucky Bruce’s head didn’t hit the ground this time. Instead he landed on Robin’s shin. Dick bit back a yelp as he sat hard on his backside sending a jolt up his spine. He felt the cut on his back reopen, and fresh blood mix with sweat. His back was going to be killing him tomorrow.
“Come on, B. This is getting ridiculous. Pull your own weight huh?” Dick mumbled as he slowly stood again and hefted Bruce back into a dragging position.
Bruce gave no reply.
Dick was determined not to find this concerning. No, it was annoying and honestly just rude. It wasn’t concerning that the man hadn’t replied to any of his questioning, shouting or prodding. But he had at least listened to Dick’s pleaded request to keep breathing.
Dick wasn’t worried about the sluggish stream of blood that was now pooling over the bandages he had tightly wrapped around Bruce’s waist earlier. The fact he was leaving a trail of crimson on the ground was more inconvenient than anything. Transfusions were a pain.
After over half an hour of dragging the 200 plus pound man over rubble, and across beams and broken columns, Dick was exhausted. He wanted nothing more than to lay down and take a week-long nap. So when he found his way blocked by yet another section of wall that he would have to clear, he closed his eyes.
“Bruce, we are never doing this again,” His voice cracked over the words. “You hear me. Next time, you better be pulling me out of a fire, because this is the last time.”
Bruce gave no reply.
Dick sucked in air filled with smoke and fumes and exhaled slowly relishing the feeling of air hissing out between his teeth, and opened his eyes again. Very carefully he lay Bruce down amongst broken chunks of concrete and rebar. He double checked that B was still breathing. Dick didn’t think he had it in him to revive the man again. And that thought was more upsetting than anything else. No. He would force himself to have the energy if he needed. He would make his arms work, his chest work. Because Bruce wasn’t dying here. Not unless Dick died first. Dick would breathe for the both of them until the fire had sucked all of the oxygen out of the factory if he had to. But for now he was breathing on his own, so Dick went to examine the wall of rubble. The collapsed wall would have to be cleared. It looked like it had once been load bearing so that would make it much slower going then the last two he had worked through.
Bruce’s batbreather blinked, marking the Co2 filters as full. Dick’s heart thudded against his chest in momentary panic before he remembered. He hadn’t been using his own batbreather for the exact reason. So that Bruce could breathe clean air for longer. Dick pulled his from his belt, and placed it firmly over the man’s face. Though it hurt to, he turned away from the man’s moving chest.
Pieces of a machine were entangled in the plaster and concrete. Dick began shifting small pieces away from the pile of rubble. He didn’t want to have the whole thing fall down and crush him. Dick shook off the thought of the night getting worse. Nope. When they got home, he was going to smugly inform Bruce that he was right and obviously could handle working by himself. Perhaps it was B, who needed back up.
Dick glanced back over at Bruce. His chest was rising and falling at a steady rate. So he turned back to the wall. This would be like reverse Tetris, just heavier and more deadly if he got a piece wrong. He examined and pushed and pulled, wiggled and hefted piece after piece until he worked a small gap clear. He hesitated for a moment and wriggled himself through. The bubbling in his gut he felt the second Bruce was out of sight had nothing to do with fear. It was irritation. Yeah. He was irritated that Batman was not there to see how impressive he was being right now. Once on the other side of the wall Dick looked around. It was much clearer here. Less flaming bricks and cinder blocks, less beams to crawl over and under. And there was a door. The door was what interested him most. It had a shattered exit sign still clinging to the wall above it.
Rather impressive really. Dick would have to tell Bruce to buy whatever company made that brand of exit sign just so he could increase their pay. Decided that it was indeed the best route forward to get out of this Hot Tamale of a box, Dick turned back to the opening he had made his way though. Bruce was much bigger than him, but he thought if maybe he pulled him through at an angle he would just make it. It would be uncomfortable, and maybe pull a muscle or two, but at this rate Batman was going to be benched for a month anyway. He would just have to make sure he didn’t have any extra pressure on his chest. Dick didn’t even want to imagine what he would do if Bruce stopped breathing again while stuck in the hole.
“Okay, B. We’re just going to have to fit in the really small hole in the wall.” Dick called to Bruce as he once again wormed his way through the space.
He tried not to be disappointed when Bruce still gave no grunt of acknowledgement.
Bruce did indeed just squeeze through the gap. It took pushing and pulling and a few moments of praying, but he was on the other side. Dick wanted to sleep for a year. He was seven yards from the door. Seven yards to fresh air.
“Home stretch, B.”
Dick blinked away black spots and swallowed bile as he stood. Bruce somehow felt heavier. Dick all but collapsed against the exit. He pushed the bar to open the door with his back. If he let Bruce down now he didn’t think he could lift him again. His whole body was shaking with effort. The door only moved a few inches.
Dick burst into tears. Why couldn’t this one thing work? He pulled away from the door, still clinging to Bruce, and threw himself back against it. With a bang like a gunshot, the door burst open and Batman and Robin spilt onto the dirty ground of an alley. Dick lay face pressed to the grimy gravel and asphalt drinking in the stench of Gotham air.
Home. Robin. Get him home. Then you can rest. Dick, though he didn’t want to, sat up. Once more he grabbed Batman under the arms and pulled him. Dick could feel adrenaline failing him. He moved him to the far side of the alley. He really should have moved him farther from the burning building, but he was spent. Another inch was impossible.
Now he just had to get the car. “I’m coming back. Just-- I’ll be right back, B.”
Bruce likely neither needed nor heard Dick’s reassurances that he wasn’t actually leaving him. Dick gave them anyway before he dragged his feet to jog out of the alley and down the block. Maybe they should start parking closer. Dick had to stop himself from climbing in the passenger seat when he reached the Batmobile. Shaking the strangeness of driving off, he raced back to where he left Bruce propped against a trash can. Bruce would have had a heart attack if he saw the speed at which he took the corners.
Getting Bruce in the car was a whole ‘nother battle in itself. In the end Dick had dragged him to the backseat and climbed in pulling Bruce with him.
They were five blocks away from the factory when he remembered Alfred didn’t know they were coming.
“Batmobile call Batcave.” Dick swerved around another car and accelerated further.
“Agent A receiving.”
“Alf. B’s down. I don’t know how bad. He has a hole in the left side of his mid-abdomen, broken ribs, a broken arm--” Dick broke down into a fit of coughing.
“Sorry. I’m fine. Smoke. I had to give him CPR, approximately for four and a half minutes, he’s been breathing on his own since, but he might have a collapsed lung or something. I don’t know.”
“I’m prepping now. I will call Dr. Thompson as well. How are you?”
“I’m--” Dick began coughing again. “--Fine. Smoke inhalation and some cuts, but nothing major.”
“Please drive safe, sir. It won’t do any good if you crash on the way here.”
“Yeah. Yeah.” Dick glanced back at Bruce again. Like hell was he going to mess up now, not when they were so close.
The journey to the Batcave was a blur. Dick would only recall the feeling of panic finally gripping him. The way his chest was feeling increasingly tight as he thought about how bad the night had been, and how it was far from over. His eyes seemed to stop working every few minutes and he had to blink away images of Bruce laying dead. He’s not dead. He’s still breathing. He’s not going to leave. He’s right here.
Alfred was opening the back door before the Batmobile came to a complete stop. Leslie was already there, both her and Alfred moved in a kinda of quickened fervor that Dick had only seen from speedsters. He watched as they moved Bruce to the medical bay.
Dick didn’t move for a long moment . His body seemed to be finally overcome with exhaustion. Dick wanted nothing more than to follow them. He felt ill not able to see the shallow rise and fall of Bruce’s chest. It had been the only thing to keep him going, knowing that he was still breathing. Dick wanted to run after them but he didn’t know if his legs would support him. Dick knew both Alfred and Leslie would be far too busy with Bruce to come help him. So focusing on just seeing Bruce, Dick dragged himself to his feet and made his way after them. Black spots danced across his vision as he reached the bright medical suit. Alfred and Leslie were dancing around Bruce, connecting tubes and wires, pouring iodine over Bruce’s wound and connecting him to IVs of blood and saline.
As he approached the three clustered together in the medical bay. He felt a heavy weight lift off him. Alfred and Leslie would take care of it. It wasn’t on him anymore. Bruce was home, and Dick had gotten him here. Suddenly the clawing feeling in his throat that he had been ignoring for so long seemed to scream for attention.
Dick slowly made his way over to one of the oxygen tanks, turned the knob to open and slipped the connected mask over his face. He sucked in deep breaths of cool oxygen. He could feel the final remnants of adrenaline and panic leave him. Pulling the tank with him he made his way to the unused cot, and pushed it to face Bruce’s. Alfred and Leslie were less panicked now. They were nodding and shot him small smiles. Bruce was going to be fine. Dick leaned back into the cot, his eyes trained on Bruce’s chest watching the rhythmic rise and fall until he was asleep.