Shades of Dark
Disclaimer: I don't own anything from the television series Arrow and I'm not making any money from this fic
Warning(s): References to drug abuse and addiction; flashbacks to torture
There was a strange look on Oliver's face. Slade wasn't sure how to read it, but that wasn't unusual. It was harder to read the kid now. Oliver had a poker face to rival a master at cards.
"Should I leave?" Oliver asked.
"There isn't anything else to do. There's nowhere to go... and nothing I can do that wouldn't be foolish and dangerous." If he didn't need to be alert for when one of his contacts finally responded, he would have been headed to the nearest bar and downing as much alcohol as he could handle.
"Maybe I should rephrase that question. Do you want me to leave?"
Slade closed his one good eye. The truth? No. He was selfish enough to want to cling to the other man. But for as much of him that wanted to take comfort from Oliver, there was a larger part that knew his darkness would smother... would suffocate... anything good inside the younger man. "No. I don't want you to stay. You should... go to your friends. Go back to cleaning up the city. I don't need you."
For a second... the briefest instant... Slade thought Oliver would call him on his lies; that he could see how much forcing himself to say that had hurt. But then he nodded, closing his eyes for a second. "You'll probably want this back." He put something down on the table and then walked out.
Slade had done the right thing. He was certain of that; never mind the sharp, jagged pain piercing through him. He took several deep breaths, but although his eye was dry, he couldn't make it stop hurting.
It felt like a knife to his heart when he saw the bottle of mirakuru left on the table.
"What did you do to me?"
Slade moved behind the bound Oliver, tracing the mark on his back with a finger and feeling nothing as Oliver jerked beneath his touch. When he spoke, his voice sounded almost conversational. "In Ancient Rome, a criminal was branded with the sign of their crime, so they would always be reminded of what they'd done." Looking at the brand, he continued, "Shado had this tattoo on her back. Now you will never forget what you've done."
Slade's teeth clenched, angered that the first word out of Oliver's mouth was an excuse. He pressed hard on the brand, but only heard a stifled gasp.
He didn't want Oliver to be strong enough to ignore the pain. He wanted him crying... screaming... broken. Maybe then he would be able to feel something other than cold numbness or anger.
There'd been a time Slade would have listened; a time he would have been the one to bind the kid's wounds, not cause them. But he wanted Oliver to suffer. He wanted the other man to pay for what he'd done to Shado... to pay...
To be Slade's scapegoat for his guilt.
The word swirled over and over inside Slade's mind, drowning out every other sound. He had to stop it... he had to cover the word with something else.
And then the volts of electricity were going through Oliver... and Slade could hear him crying out... and it pushed his own horror and guilt down... back... all the way out...
Slade hadn't realised he'd fallen asleep... not until he woke with the word monster in his head... along with the image of Oliver's tortured body.
Somehow, since whatever this was had developed between them, Slade hadn't thought about how he'd hurt the kid. It had always been there, at the back of his mind, but those memories had never taken hold when he and Oliver had been lovers.
Slade raised his head from the crook of his arm, closing his eye when he glimpsed the bottle of mirakuru. He'd fallen asleep staring at it... wondering if the payoff would be worth the cost to himself; to his soul.
But, of course, if he became the monster... even to save his son... it wouldn't just be him who suffered.
And yet he wasn't strong enough to toss the bottle in the trash.
Pushing the vial behind his laptop, where he didn't have to look at it, Slade opened his e-mails.
Closing his eye, Slade cursed quietly. He hadn't really expected any of his contacts to get back to him. Someone who knew his reputation and kidnapped his son anyway was either fearless... or stupid.
Sleeping hadn't helped, even without the reminder of the monster he'd been. Slade took out his phone and stared at it, willing himself to call Oliver. Because even if he thought breaking up was the right thing to do, he needed to talk to the kid. He needed to make sure Oliver was still safe.
The phone was to his ear and ringing before Slade made a conscious decision to make the call. After two rings, it was answered. "Oliver here."
"I wanted to check on you." Slade winced, able to hear how emotionally needy he sounded. Oliver didn't respond, but he imagined what must be going through the kid's mind. Clearing his throat, he forced himself to sound more normal... more like himself. "Has anyone threatened you? Made contact?"
"Don't worry about me."
"You can't tell me not to worry." Slade stopped himself from pointing out he'd always cared about Oliver. Giving the kid mixed signals was just going to end in pain, no matter how emotionally strong Oliver purpoted to be. "I just need to be sure you're safe."
"If anything happens, I'll make sure you know."
As Slade was left listening to the silence, he wondered why he felt Oliver was lying.