Chapter 1

For the moment, he was alone. He concentrated on his breathing: in, out, in, out, in, out. Hopefully he would be able to calm himself enough to sleep some. When was the last time that he had been this tired? Still concentrating, he cast his mind back and tried to figure it out, but his past memories were all jumbled with his present ones. Abandoning that activity, he focused once more on his breathing and shut his eyes, willing one muscle group to relax after the other, easing tension that could keep him awake.

It had been three weeks since he had woken to see Slade staring down at him. During those three weeks, he felt that a field trip to hell would have been much easier to bear than being in Slade's company. The man battered away at him constantly, lashing out physically when his constant chatter failed to break him mentally. Randall used every technique he knew to resist brainwashing and mental games, but everyone had his or her breaking point, and he could feel that he was reaching his. One thought bolstered his flagging spirit: Robin.

Randall felt the spirit of a smile form on his lips as he thought about the gutsy teenager that had been Slade's prisoner; just as he had been a long time ago. Now, Robin was safe again with family and friends, and since some organization was onto Slade and was hunting him relentlessly, all of Slade's plans were effectively paralyzed. It was only a matter of time before Slade was rendered completely helpless. When that day came, Randall knew that there would be no reason for him to hide any longer. He would be free of Slade's shadow.


"I know who you are now."

Randall's eyes opened, regretting that he'd been woken up. After all that work to get to sleep, and the bastard had to wake him up. He snarled silently and sat up, glaring at Slade.

"What?" he demanded, willing to let Slade know how ticked he was.

"I said, I know who you are now," Slade said again, smiling.

"Congratulations," Randall muttered, pulling the blanket over his head, wishing Slade would go away and let him get back to the serious work of sleeping.

Slade didn't take the hint.

"I can't believe I was so dense for so long. At first, I couldn't understand why a young man with no connection to Robin or anyone else who has a connection with me would be involved, but I knew that you were familiar. When I sat down to think about it, I understood. Who else could you be?"

Randall wished he would either say what he had to say, shut up, or even better; go away altogether.

"How stupid of me," Slade said, gloating. "Of course you're him."

Randall sat up and looked at him; allowing his annoyance to show, but he didn't say anything.

Slade looked back; waiting for Randall to say something, but when he didn't Slade became angry. "I don't see what you're so calm about," he snarled. "I don't know why you chose to get involved, Randall, or where you've been hiding all these years, but you're going to regret leaving me and interfering with my plans."

"Am I really?" Randall asked. "Well, Slade, I can't say that I haven't expected you to figure it out sooner or later, but I have to warn you: I'm not a little boy anymore. There's very little you can do to me. I've taken steps to assure that my death or capture by you or anyone will have very little bearing on all of the things I've been working on. No matter what happens to me, the plans I've set in motion will continue. It doesn't matter, and it will not matter if you kill me. I'm not afraid to die."

Slade's eye narrowed. "Brave words, Randall. Are you absolutely certain?"

"After having a childhood with you," Randall said coldly, "Death will be a release."

Slade glared at him, but he left. Once he could no longer hear the villain's footsteps, Randall settled back into bed, ready to rest again. He'd stymied Slade for now: the bastard would try to think of something that he could do to bring him to heel, and until he thought up a plan, Randall would be left in peace. For the moment, peace was all he wanted.

Author's Note: Short chappie, I know, but I've got a lot to do. I'll write again soon.