Author's Note: Don't ask where I've been, what's taken me so long or why I've been so silent. They all have the same single word answer: College. Second year's over. Third year's coming up.

IHATEJAPANESECLASSMOVINGON.

Some more Slade in this one. I've become more confident in my understanding and portrayal of him. This is largely thanks to my ever-so-helpful boyfriend who lets me leech Deathstroke comics off of him and tells me when I'm doing something wrong. That's love.

Now then. A little less conversation, a little more action.

Chapter track: " Enter Sandman " – Metallica.


Our walk down the hall has been silent. This is something I'm not used to. I mean, usually the men I escort to the rooms are chatty, trying to flirt and grope me while we wait for the elevator. I don't expect him to do any of that.

I'm not really sure what to expect really.

I mean, I've seen this man in action. If he truly is a man. If ever I thought anyone, other than Blood, could be a demon, Slade is definitely a candidate. I wouldn't be surprised if he started glowing or something. I wonder if he can sense my fear. I am hyper aware of everything at the moment. The second he tenses, even looks like he's about to move, I'm out of here.

The time it takes for the elevator to reach us seems like forever. I'm as taught as my outfit is over my body. I'm sure he can tell. He hasn't made very many moves except to close his eye while waiting himself. He just looks like the type that can smell fear on you, then move to strike.

I don't know how he can just stand there like he's waiting for a bus or a fire truck to pass him on a street. He just killed some powerful men without even exerting himself. I mean, these men had guns. They were trying to kill him. He took them all down like they weren't even worth the effort. And the others, their respect, or at least intelligence to stay quiet, was the only thing that saved them from a similar fate.

Thinking about this, this guy has come to our school. By himself, it seems. No weapons on him to speak of. As tight as his clothing is on himself, I would have noticed if he had a gun or something. Our portable stripper poles, such lovely inventions as they were, he turned into a weapon of murderous intent.

Just what kind of man is this guy anyway?

Could all those rumors be so true? Possibly, underrated?

" Staring at me won't make it come any faster, child. "

Immediately my head turns back to look at the elevator. That was more than creepy. It mercifully arrives finally. I'm really not all that happy about having to share such a small space with someone like him. At least with Blood, I know where and what to watch out for. Hands, looks, my rear, my front. This man, he scares me. Imagine being placed in a confined area with a lion and nothing else.

That's just what he looks like stepping into the elevator. Lazily resting his back against the side of the elevator and folding his arms. His eye observes the numbers on the top of the door, then the number I push.

You ever know someone's watching you and feel like you can't control yourself anymore? I mean, like you could do something stupid, or awkward at any moment? Yeah, not liking that feeling.

Man. I just realized how long it's going to take to get up from where we are to get to the rooms that Blood wants me to take him to. If he moves, or jerks or something, I'll scream. I'll bust through the hatch and get the hell out of here. No one will ever see me again.

From those rumors, that's not too inaccurate a result of what happens to people when they get near him.

" You're bleeding. "

My back plastered to the wall next to me as soon as he spoke. My heart is going to beat out of my chest, it's going so hard it hurts. My God.

He doesn't move anymore than he did to look at me.. Wait, he said I was bleeding. A quick scan of myself proves that to be true. My left arm is bleeding from the shoulder. One of those bullets must have nicked me. I was so scared, I didn't even notice the pain. No one has this effect on me.

I mean, what's with this guy? He doesn't belong here. He knows he doesn't. I know he doesn't. Blood knows he doesn't. Those pervert, I-wanna-be-a-big-shot-when-I-grow-up assholes don't want him here. Especially since he thinks of them as what they are. Not what they pretend to be.

So what is it that he wants here? What is it that he came here for? He saw me already in the lab, honestly, if he wanted me, he could have taken me there.

The lab!

My hand slams into the emergency stop button. It takes immediate effect, both of us jarring slightly from the sudden stop. His eye is on me now, not narrowed, but not blank either. I move again to press another button. I don't want to leave him standing there idle long enough to think I'm about to try and do something to him.

Instead, he just directs his line of vision to the symbols above the door. The big white L lit up orange to alert us that we arrived. Then his eye cuts back to me. I've been stared at all my life. Literally. But this is...Just harsh. Open-ended, full on, whole attention staring. I refuse to look up at him, thought I know his eye is still locked onto me.

" It's the Lab. " I say, as the doors open before us. He still doesn't take his gaze off of me. " You're not here for the combs. The girls. Or to get some influence from the other big, powerful and perverted in there. When I...we...You were in the lab, last time. I remember. I don't know if you got what you wanted, but. Well. There it is. "

My hand gestures to the completely empty lab. Finally, his eye slowly moves off of me, and focuses on the area in front of us. His body slinks from it's position up against the wall, his pace unhurried as he entered the lab. He makes a bee-line to the supercomputer. Meanwhile, as I leave him to that, I break out the first aid kit. Wouldn't due for Blood's precious little doll to be bleeding. Might ruin their lovely little image of innocence.

His attention doesn't come to me the whole time he's over there working on whatever he's working on. I think I saw him remove a disc from his belt to transfer data. I'm not sure. I really don't care what it is he wants, so long as he takes it and goes. Peroxide cleanses my wound while I move to wrap my arm with a few rolls of gauze over it. It takes some doing to master this with one of my hands working unnaturally to tie the bandage off.

When I look back up to see what he's doing, I nearly jump right off the table I've hopped upon. He was standing right in front of me with his arms crossed. He was staring again, but not at me directly, at my arm. My uninjured one comes up to hold my heart. " Holy Hell. You scared me. "

After I speak, his gaze locks onto me. He's staring now, like he's waiting for me to do something. I shift uncomfortable, unintentionally stretching the cut that I've just bandaged. The pain makes me hiss and sit still. He glanced it again, then looked back at me.

" It's nothing, " I supply. But that doesn't stop his blank stare. " I uh...was expecting to get more than that before you got in front of me. Heh. And I was trying to protect you. "

Still he stares. What the fuck, man? What do you want from me? What?! What is it?! What do you want to know?! Why?! Is that it?!

That is it, isn't it?

I snort, turning my head from him. Somehow, I'm sure he knows that I've figured out what it is he wants from me. It's a stupid reason really, but it is why I did it. And he won't quit looking at me until I tell him.

" Because you called me 'young lady'. "

He shifts, and releases me from his stare. I don't hide the sigh I've been holding. I'm still nervous having him this close to me. He hasn't shown any hostility towards me yet. That doesn't mean he isn't going to, of course. That could just be what he wants me to think. Maybe he has no interest in me whatsoever now that I've let him into the lab.

That brings up another thought. Blood will no doubt have something to say about me letting him inside. It's not like I could do anything to stop him. It's not like I WOULD do anything to stop him. And it isn't like he could do much better. He fears Slade as much as, if not more than, I do.

This doesn't mean that he still won't find a reason to get mad at me and punish me. But honestly, there's nothing else he can do to me that he hasn't already done. He won't kill me. And he won't beat me. He knows I can fight him back. No, if he really wants to punish me, he'll go after someone else.

There's hardly anything I can do about that other than put myself in their place. Of my own free will, choosing his punishment. He seems to like that, as many times as I've been forced into it.

Like I said, can't do anything he hasn't already done.

I was about to ask Slade something. If he was done, if there was somewhere else he planned on going. But his attention still isn't on me. He was looking around above us. Something on the ceiling perhaps. I made move to ask him if he wanted one of the recording cameras, but his hand came up to silence me before I even opened my mouth.

I tilted my head up to look as well. What I saw scared me perhaps more than Slade scared me. At least for the moment. The ceiling was splintering, cracking and splitting as weight and pressure came through on the other side.

We had a second to react. He went one way, I went the other. Something big had burst through. So big the ground dented in from where it landed. Everything that wasn't bolted to the ground had jumped at least three inches from the impact. I was almost tempted to avoid looking behind myself completely, instead thinking of running straight to the elevator several feet in front of us.

There's this sound, sniffing, snorting, something like that. Then a low, vicious growl. The ground begins to shake, and I know that it's coming. Whatever 'it' is, is very, very large. Judging by that noise, it is very upset.

I don't think.

I just move.

Scrambling over to where he is in the process of getting up, my arms come around his form and I just want to go up. " Hang onto me!"

I felt that creature's breath on my back, the wind from its movement nearly threw off my balance. Slade was heavy, but I didn't drop him, and I didn't let us fall. What I see in place of where we used to be is some very large bipedal creature. It looks like a caveman, only with red hair, and large extrusive fangs. It's only covered in a black body suit. Might as well be a cover for an 18-wheeler as big as it is. Barefoot, it's feet more like human bear claws than an actual human's. I want to say that it's a male, but I hardly have the other gender of whatever it is to compare it's sexual dimorphism to.

Slade's hand moves from hanging onto me to press to the side of his head. " Report to the coordinates I ordered, Cinderblock. "

His hand drops, still keeping his other one around my shoulders. If I weren't so preoccupied, I might have noticed what he was doing and saying. But, alas. Such is a teenage attention span when SOMETHING IS TRYING TO SMUSH THEM.

I admit, that creature scares me, but my heart isn't just pounding because of it. Having this close, I am intensely aware of every movement. I can feel his body shift under that black material. His voice sounds even more authoritive up close. His body is hard with muscle, but I don't think for a second that he is weighted down. I remember him moving so quickly earlier.

There really is nothing to that body suit, I see.

" Girl, " My eyes snap from beginning to oogle his chest and mid section to his mask, " What do you know of this creature? It would not happen to be one of your teacher's little pet projects, would it? "

" Oh noooooooo. " Blood doesn't like to make monsters from scratch. Slow, metamorphosis through drug-induced coercion. Plus, nothing of mine, no matter what you did to it, could come out looking like that. Not my genes, not my chemicals, not nothing. " That's got shit all to do with me. "

That's when I see it. Right on the creature's head. As he is currently inverted against the wall, his hair is out of the way. A big, red, capital A. I don't know what it means, but it seems important somehow. Standing out so drastically from the creature's skin tone, it has to be there for a reason.

We touch the ground a fair distance from the creature. He ran headfirst into the wall. Good thing I didn't run for that elevator. He would have killed me even if I made it inside. The fact that I could be crushed in that metal mess he seems to be inverted in scares me. It also riles me, but if that creature has that much power, I can't fly off the handle.

We're barely out of the air before Slade breaks away from me. He sprinted towards that...thing just as it was rising; impressive speed leading up to a leap and reflect off the steel wall. His foot then imbedded itself into the temple of the creature. He then flipped off and landed in a crouch in front of it.

I dare say the man looks bored! Drumming his fingers against the steel as he waited for the man-beast to collect itself. " Is this the best challenge your enemies offer, girl? I expected far more from them. "

I sputter for something to say. Caught between trying to warn him that the creature's coming at him again, or trying to respond to a statement like that at a time like this. Yet, Slade did not move; not one inch. A stone hand from God knows where caught the fist. There was a loud sound, like a lot of people walking over a lot of gravel. Another stone hand made into a fist punched the man-beast; sending it reeling.

There, standing protectively above Slade, seemed to be a humanoid form made completely of...rock. Stepping over the now standing man, the humanoid rock advanced on the man-beast. They grappled and wrestled; brute strength against brute strength.

It was the most magnificent thing I had ever seen.

" You, Bumblebee, was it? " His speaking makes me stand stock still. My heart is beating rapidly once again. When did he move behind me? Why is he talking to me? Does he think this is my idea? Is he about to kill me? Will I be next? " Calm yourself, child. If we've hopes to defeat this...less than attractive creature, it would be best that we work together. "

Me? Work together with him? Looking back at the battle now, his rock thing against the man-beast, every hit that rocks off its head just seems to make it even more angry. What exactly is it that he thinks I, let alone both of us can do if that big rock thing can't take it down? That creature keeps trying to advance forward onto us, and it's only his rock thing that's keeping it back.

Every time it tries to rush forward, the rockman shoves it, or beats it back. The man-beast growls, though it backs up. Every once and a while, it lifts its head to sniff the air, then tries to charge forward again. Whatever he's smelling, it just makes him even more enraged. Every time he sniffs, his eyes lock on me, and it wants to get past again.

" Just what is it you expect me to be able to do against... " My words trail. It's not trying to kill -us-. It's trying to kill -me-. That creature is tracking my scent and becoming further enraged. That big red A...

ANTHILL Academy.


" A.N.T.H.I.L.L. Academy? " When I first heard the name, I wondered if there was a person like myself for every insect in the world.

Blood, for once, was not preoccupied with me, scowling at the name. " That's right, my child. "

God, I hate that so much. " What does A.N.T.H.I.L.L. stand for? "

" Advanced Neural Teachings for Humans Ingrained with Lethal Latency. "

...What?

" What? What the hell does that mean? ANTHILL's a research facility? "

He snorts, and to my surprise, looks even more annoyed. Though, of course, not at me. " ANTHILL is a bunch of bullshit. They just use really big words to spread it all. There's nothing taught there. They are simply a mass army of super-powered thugs that nobody wants. Not their parents, not other schools, not the state. "

" ...And we would fight them why? "

" Because -I- want those super-powered thugs. And before we're all done, they will want you too."

Lovely.


Sometimes assholes are informative.

Great. I look to Slade again, this time, not in fear. This time, in worry. Another person I've gotten tangled up in the mess of my life. Another person who didn't have a choice. Here because of me, in danger because of me.

My fear is beginning to fade fast. Guilt rises in its' place. " This is your chance to get out of here with whatever you came for. I can handle myself against that thing long enough. You shouldn't even be involved. " My fist clenches as I catch the man-beast's eyes again. " That this huge, extremely violent, and for some reason, very angry with me. "

Slade doesn't even humor me. He simply snorts and folds his arms over his chest. " That's hardly an aspect of this situation that I wish to expand on, child. " He moves up next to me, continuing to go past me. " Come. It's time that you show precisely why your teacher shows so much pride in your skills. "

Once again, he was in the air. Only this time, at an angle, to press off the wall and crash his fist into the beast's chest. It finally had enough force to tumble over. The rumble produced from its' impact shook the whole establishment.

" Unless...you're frightened, child. "

" Frightened?! CHILD?! " I've had just about enough of that as it was. But to outright call me on my fear. And in such disrespect, such mocking. What once was fear turned guilt, now burns into rage.

I'm moving before I fully know what I'm planning on doing. My hands have caught his shoulders, using them as a base to push myself off of and into the air. The head of his rock creature is my next push off, to reach one of the hanging light fixtures above their heads. Gripping onto one, my legs are extended with vicious force; cracking my heels into the thick skull of the man-beast. It roars as the heels break his skin. But I'm not done yet. The light fixture in my hands is yanked down, out of it's protective covering to show raw wires. The bottom of it is smashed into the creature's cranium. The lightbulb burst against his head, but I think he was more occupied with the volts of electricity bouncing off his nerve endings.

As the man-beast jerks and convulses with the power going through him, I leap off before I'm thrown off. My arms and legs spread to slow my decent, but I'm sure that I'll hit the ground rather awkwardly.

To my surprise, muscular arms had caught me. He actually caught me. Slade caught me. Me. He caught me in his arms. Slade, the Big Bad, caught me, the little Honey girl, in his arms. He's holding me, my God, he's holding me. I can't stop the redness on my face, I can't calm my heart down. I think I might be trembling, but if I am and he notices, Slade hasn't given any indication.

" Talented, I admit. " I'm set upon the ground, and he sprints back into battle. I'm partially disgusted with myself for acting so...girly. Honestly. He's just a man. I think. It must just be a shock to my system. No one like him, has ever touched me. No one without interest in hurting me or using me. He just...caught me. Set me down. And ran off to fight again.

Slade's drawn the metal pole he used earlier. In one hand, he spun it as he approached the creature's flailing body. He jumped, landing on the creature's foot, and moved up its leg to ram the blunt end of the staff into its chin. I could have heard him grunt from where I had previously been standing.

I say previously, because I had started moving a few seconds after Slade had started. When he had crashed his staff into the chin of the creature, I had vaulted off his shoulders. Truth be told, I had no idea what I was going to do chasing after him like that. I just knew I couldn't let him go after it like that.

I mean.

Not that I'm worried about him.

This is just my mess to clean up! He's got nothing to do with this. One good swipe of that thing's paws and he's going to break something. Possibly in half. He may not be a good person up there, above ground. But in here, he is. Compared to the others, he is. The way he treated me, he is.

And I won't drag another person down!

As the creature is topping from his move, and Slade moves to withdraw. My hands, and a knee, meet his shoulders, my pushing off further into the air this time. I correct my trajectory with a flip. My legs extended to press my heels into the eye sockets of the creature. The feeling of those heels sinking in was indescribable. And mildly disgusting. " Light's out. "

It was on the ground now. And I went to stand beside Slade as the man-beast writhed and roared. Everything we did just seem to make it even more angry. It was bleeding, bruised from where Slade had hit it. Its' eyes were ruined. Yet that creature was more angry now than it had been when it got here. For a moment, it had stopped writhing, then sniffed. When he caught scent of me again, that started his rage all over.

I started to come forward, seeking to attack again. But Slade's hand on my shoulder stopped me. " We aren't finished quite yet, child. " He said that, yet he retracted the staff and tucked it into the back of his belt. " Crush its' skull Cinderblock. We must make sure it doesn't return for an encore performance. "

The rock behemoth stalked the fallen man-beast. Without so much as a warning or slowing down its movements, both massive hands gripped the beast by the face. Its hands flailed, grabbing onto stone shoulders in an attempt to be what looked like pushing or trying to hit. There was that gravel sound again.

I could hear my heart beating in my ears. Was he really going to do it? Was this Cinderblock truly going to carry on with this gorey display right before us? Such violence...So freely. Could this creature, Slade, be more like me than a demon? Are there others out there with instincts, violent desires just as mine?

The red spray erupted from his hands. Brain, blood and bone splashed and dripped around the stone behemoth. I was standing under the mess before I knew it. I must have moved without paying attentio-Ooh! Look! A puddle!

As I moved about in the blood shower and puddles, my costume was stained, probably permanently, deep red. My hands are covered in it, my face, my hair. My mind is completely on the display in front of me. I didn't know that we had been watched. I didn't know Blood and the investors were in the observation room above the lab the whole time.

I would remain ignorant to the fact that I had been set up. Blood knew that assassin was coming. He knew it was coming for me. He may not have known that Slade was going to fight with me, that he was going to get into the lab. But he knew I was going to have to fight. Not only was my body on display for those facsimiles of men, but also my ability. Surely, to comfort any fears they had about the upcoming war.

All I did know, was that it was over and I was quite tired. That big puddle right there looked good. It would still be warm. I hadn't had a nice warm hug in a long time. Not proper bait for rich powerful men who like little girls. But I was sleepy now, and automated response to such large amounts of blood wasn't letting up on me. I wanted to go to sleep.

That big puddle would only be warm for a few more minutes. I wanted to warm up to that before it got cold. Numbly, my body made its way over to the puddle. I had prepared to drop down and curl up in it. I didn't care about this costume, my hair. Let the investors see, let them all see just what it is their precious doll finds precious herself.

" Come, Bumblebee. You belong elsewhere. You deserve far better... "

If I wasn't so tired, I would have heard Slade's voice. I would have heard the gravel sound again. But I was just so exhausted. I just wanted to close my eyes. So tired, I hadn't noticed I had been scooped up and was moving until a few minutes after I had curled up myself.

Was Slade...taking me...? Can he do that?! I haven't been outside of the Hive since I got here. My thoughts try to be rushed, but fail miserably. It's just not happening. My body is ready to sleep and not so willing to be un-ready to sleep so soon.

As such, the uncomfortable feeling of this hard, rough, and cold hands carrying me somewhere is unwelcoming. Without actively doing it, my body shrinks down. Size reduced to slip through the stone fingers. Slipping past him, I lowered myself not in the same puddle, but one big enough to curl up in.

" It seems our passenger has fallen asleep prior to the ride. " I was on the edge of sleep and awake. Yet, I could still hear Slade. His voice, him approaching, I was aware of too. But it was mostly his voice that I clung to. He was speaking to me again. I didn't want to know what he would do if I blatantly ignored him in favor of sleeping. " Perhaps she cares to explain the reason behind this..."

He wasn't...disgusted? He was still coming closer. I knew because his oppressive presence was hovering above me. Not to be ignored even under the influence of sedation. " Mmn..." I shifted, opening my eyes to look up at him. My words didn't come out the way I intended, but it was all that came out in response. " Warm hugs make me feel good...Sleepy..."

Slade was silent for a time after that, his eye had closed in what I assumed was him thinking. When it opened, his hand came forward towards me. I did tense, but I did not have it in me to try and run away. To my surprise, however, he didn't harm me, grab me, or anything like that. In fact, I was rather partial to hat he was doing instead. His fingers combed through my hair; willingly making himself just as dirty as I was. " Rest well, child..."

My eyes fell shut another time. It felt good. No one had touched me like this for as long as I can remember. Blood forever likes my hair in those blasted ponytails. I've never had it down for any significant amount of time, and someone do this. It doesn't impact me now that it is Slade who is doing this, making me feel this way. This noise I'm making, a buzzing sound in my throat; a product of his comforting me.

" Before you bed down to rest, girl...What is your name? I must know what to call you..." His words trailed off. I think he might have said something else, but I could just be falling in and out of consciousness. He spoke against my ear. I could feel the coldness of his mask without it touching me directly.

" Don't have one...Bumblebee is just what they call me... " Slade smelled like blood now. He felt good, smelled good, sounded good. I could feel his hand slowing down. He was getting ready to withdraw and go. I didn't want that. I didn't want him to leave. To go away and never come back. To forget about me entirely and never speak to me again. Sleepily, I moved closer to him, curling against his form. " Don't leave. "

If I had been more awake, I would have made a shocked sound. As I was, I simply murmured. His arms collected me; sweeping me up from the floor. Blood had carried me like this once or twice. And I had been absolutely repulsed. Being that close to him with his hands on my body, I hated it as much as I hated sharing a bed with him.

This was different. Slade's body was different. His hands didn't tremble with my weight, or because of where they were placed. His breathing wasn't labored. One of my hands was pressed to his chest; there I could feel his heart beating. It was slow, almost as slow as mine was, and I was sleepy.

I should have been concerned where I was going. Where he was taking me and if I was ever going to be seen again. I just could not bring myself to care though. Wherever I was going, was better than where I had been staying. Slade was dangerous, I knew that. And if he really wanted to kill me, he would do it no matter what I did myself. Not that I feared death. Many times I had thought of it here.

There was another feeling though, something I couldn't put a name to. Death was the furthest thought from my mind. Blood wasn't a worry, the Hive wasn't a worry, those investors, the war. Not even that assassin. None of it bothered me in the least. All I could think about was sleeping, just as I was.

This was big for me. I would never sleep so easily in the presence of a stranger. Especially not one I had feared nearly thirty minutes ago. But I did not fear Slade now. I did not know who he was, but I knew who he wasn't.

And the enemy of my enemy is my friend.