Hey guys. I've finally returned to writing on fanfiction after a kind of unannounced hiatus…I had some personal issues that I needed to work through, to tell you the truth. But…I guess I'm back now! (and with a vengeance! Lol…) Thanks for all your patience and support, guys. And, as a present, there will be more new stories and updates! Ha! Yes, it's actually happening! I hope you enjoy this new chapter (sure took me long enough!)
Dlsky: If you're reading, thank you.
Robin was circling the small basement, eyes narrowed to slits as he eyed the walls dangerously—it was as if he was a bomb, ready to go off at any second now. Slade was brooding, taking advantage of the silence to contemplate their possible routes when Robin's voice suddenly jolted him out of his reverie.
"What is that?"
Slade paused, and tilted his head slightly to one side, concentrating.
Robin paused for a moment longer, and then winced, and smacked his forehead with the palm of his hand.
"Shoot!" He turned towards Slade, who was watching him with slight amusement and interest.
"They've called in a SWAT team!"
"More attention than I'd been hoping for, then," the masked man grumbled underneath his breath. Robin made a noise of incredulous disgust, but his adversary ignored him as he got to his feet.
"There's only one way to deal with this," Slade said simply, and reaching over, pulled over the bag of weapons from their piles of supplies, and unzipped it.
Robin was by his side in an instant, face dark.
"No?" Slade asked vaguely, not even bothering to look in the boy's direction, or stop his current task of pulling out assorted weapons and examining them.
"I won't let you do this."
"I'd certainly like to see you try," was the dull response. Robin face registered anger and shock at the apathetic standpoint his nemesis was taking.
"Did you even listen to me? Robin snarled determinedly, yanking on Slade's free arm. "You can't kill them! It's not right! These men are only doing their jobs—"
"And I'm only doing mine," the masked man replied calmly, wrenching his arm out of the boy's grip and quickly loading a gun.
"—and they're completely innocent!" Robin retorted, cutting back in. "These are people with families, who are only trying to do the right thing. Besides, they have nothing to do with us! Just leave them alone!"
Up until this point, his partner in crime hadn't paid him the slightest bit of attention, too intent on preparing weapons, but at the raise in the younger man's voice, Slade turned slowly, staring down contemptuously at the Boy Wonder, who returned the look with concerned, but still fierce tenacity.
"There is only one rule for people like me—like you, even. You either kill, or be killed."
Slade cocked another gun, to emphasize his point, and Robin's expression flickered in what could almost have been a cringe.
"The restrictions of the world don't apply to people like us; they never have, they never will. The last thing I'm concerned about at the moment is death."
The masked man finished loading weapons, and, picking up a machine gun with disturbing nonchalance, turned towards the entrance of the basement. The Boy Wonder stared at him for a moment in confusion, before snorting bitterly.
"You know, I always thought you were insane," Robin spat, eyes narrowing, "but I didn't think you were stupid enough to be suicidal."
Slade tilted his head to one side in a questioning manner.
"What do you mean?"
Robin's mouth opened and closed wordlessly, and he gestured wildly for several minutes, trying to grasp enough self-control to speak again; Slade looked on, waiting.
Eventually, Robin inhaled shakily and spoke again.
"You really are out of your mind. There are at least thirty-five men out there, all armed to the teeth, and you're planning to just charge out and kill them! You'll be dead within minutes!"
Slade paused again, in the middle of shouldering an extra gun, and turned slowly on his heel to lock gazes with Robin. The Boy Wonder swallowed hard, and took a defiant stance, daring to look the man dead in the eye.
A moment later, the familiar gleam that Robin often associated with Slade smiling appeared in his eye, and he took a step forward, leaning towards the boy.
"As I said before…the restrictions of this world don't apply to me…"
There was something about the way that he spoke those words that sent chills down Robin's spine, though he did his best to keep his expression as impassive as ever.
Slade picked up a gun lying on the floor and tossed it carelessly at Robin, who just barely succeeded in not dropping it the second after he'd caught it.
"You may need this. In case you choose to join me."
Robin chewed on his lower lip, biting back another remark, and instead murmured something under his breath and crossed his arms, continuing to watch Slade's back with mounting apprehension.
"How about there? That looks like enough space."
"And how about you shutting up and letting the man do his job?"
Naomi pulled a frog-face at him, and gave Boris the middle finger, before turning back to Julius.
"Well? Are you ever gonna set this thing down, or are we just going to fly around in circles until we run out of fuel?"
Julius' right eye was twitching dangerously by this point, after nearly twenty full minutes of Naomi's incessant criticism and whining, and Boris himself was finding it difficult to concentrate as well. He took a deep breath, and managed to spit out, in the calmest voice possible:
"Patience is a virtue."
"But I'm bored!" Naomi complained loudly, flopping melodramatically into her seat. "And we've been swooping all over this city looking for those two morons for ages! Face it," she told him. "They're not here anymore. So just pick a place to let us down, and scurry back."
Julius was chewing furiously on his lip, obviously holding back a string of swears, and looked expectantly at Boris for orders. The German sighed mentally, hating to admit that Naomi might have a point, but unable to deny that her idea wasn't entirely impossible. They had been up with DeFarge for awhile; Robin and Slade could have chosen to slip away at any given time, and could be anywhere right now.
"All right," he said, defeated, and Naomi glanced up at him, surprised—although not unpleasantly so. "Julius, we'll continue on foot from here. Find an area, and let us off."
Julius nodded silently, and swerved around the nearest city block.
Naomi sat up straight, eyes widening at the scene before them.
Cops were swarming everywhere around an old, dilapidated building, while SWAT vans were pulling up from every direction, the men from inside pouring out to surround the place.
Naomi and Boris glanced at one another.
"You don't think…" She began uncertainly.
"Patience is a virtue," he replied triumphantly. "Now, why don't you see what supplies we have in back?"
Naomi smirked cruelly.
A minute later, Naomi was positioned at the open door of the helicopter, a machine gun balanced on her shoulder as she surveyed the group of cops below, aiming carefully.
One of the SWAT members heard the sound of the choppers cutting through air as they drew closer, and he glanced back, eyes wide—
And Naomi began to fire.
Bullets thundered down, burying themselves in concrete, and in flesh, tearing up the street below. Men screamed for help as they fled; cars were ripped apart; everything disappeared beneath the fatal shower of ammunition that flowed downward. The blood of the dead pooled in the street.
Naomi felt a bubble of laughter erupt in her throat. And, in her moment of amusement, her hand slipped, ever so slightly, and the gun swung haphazardly, and the bullets shot towards the abandoned building.
Back down in the basement, Slade was still tense with anticipation, waiting for the oncoming attack from outside; Robin, however, had ceased his arguments for the moment, and had froze, head tilted hesitantly to one side.
Slade glanced over his shoulder half-heartedly, as if he were expecting another protest, but turned more fully when he saw the boy's expression.
"Do you…do you hear something?" Robin ventured, taking an uncertain step forward. Slade's eye narrowed and he lowered the gun he was still carrying to listen as well.
"It…it almost sounds like…?" the boy began slowly, like he doubted his own hearing, but Slade immediately set down his weapons down, body tensing dangerously.
"Gunfire," he finished—and bullets came through the dingy panes of glass in the basement, and hammering through the thick concrete walls, flying in every direction.
"Get down!" Slade roared, diving forward; Robin had been thrown off guard, and he landed roughly on the floor. A wave of pain exploded through his elbow, but he held back the cry of pain, allowing Slade to drag him behind a stack of boxes that provided feeble shelter from the attack. His heart was beating wildly in his ears, and Robin scrunched his body tightly, making his body less of a target…although he nearly jumped out of his skin a second later when he felt Slade's arms fold around him, using his body as a shield to protect Robin.
What the hell?
"It's all right, Dick," a man whispered to the dark-haired boy huddled in his arms while thunder and lightening crashed outside, and the wind howled like a ghoul. "There's nothing to be afraid of, I promise. It's just a thunderstorm."
The boy only trembled and even tighter to his father, eyes clenched shut as if he were trying to block out the weather that raged on outside.
"Daddy, please don't leave me," he begged, eyes swimming with the first of tears. "I'm so scared, Daddy…"
"Don't worry, Dick," the man said comfortingly, stroking his son's hair, and shushing him. "I'm not going to go. I'm right here, with you…I'm not going to leave you, I promise…"
Robin stiffened more, if it were even possible, and pulled away slightly from Slade's grip, extremely disturbed.
He'd…he'd actually compared Slade to one of his few, precious memories of his father…it was so wrong, so awful…
Why had he done that?
How could he have done that…?
The Boy Wonder closed his eyes tightly, just like he had on that stormy night, so many years ago, and tried to block out everything around him like the curious lump in his throat.
Naomi had only just managed to cease fire, and had stumbled backwards from the window of the helicopter, when Boris grabbed her arm and whipped her around to face him, slapping her hard across the face.
"What the hell do you think you're doing, you stupid woman!" He roared, spit flecking his lower lip. "You could've killed the targets, you brainless bitch! And then where would we be? We'd be completely screwed! God, you—"
"ALL RIGHT!" Naomi shrieked, shoving him back before he could hit her again. "Jeez, I've got it already! Calm down! It's not like it's that big of a deal!"
Boris's mouth opened and closed like a fish out of water, but no words emerged. Naomi, in the meanwhile, brushed her hair carelessly over her shoulder and sighed, her breathing returning to normal as she set down the machine gun and flopped back into her seat from before.
Her partner remained speechless.
"What? Something wrong with you? You look like you just got cheated out of a bounty, or something," she remarked, eyeing him oddly. Even Julius had paused to glance over his shoulder, bemused at the expression on his face. Finally, Boris managed to regain his voice, although it was little more than a whisper.
"Do you know how dense you are?" He asked slowly.
Naomi raised an eyebrow.
"Well, seeing as how you were just screaming at me hysterically about it, I think—"
"You could have hit the targets with that pathetic aim just now! And there would we be! We'd be back in DeFarge's office like we were barely an hour or so ago, waiting for him to decide just how he wanted us to be murdered!"
Naomi glared furiously at him, looking like she was on the verge of whipping out her gun and splattering his brains all over the cockpit…which was probably true, given her temperament.
"Okay, let's get something straight here," she snarled, rising to her feet again. Julius bent low over his task of steering the helicopter again, trying to slink out of her notice. Boris, though, stood his ground, eyes as frigid as Naomi's, as he watched her walk right up to him and lean directly into his face.
"One: I only did what you told me to. So if there's anyone here to blame for my 'mistake,' it would be you and your complete, blind incompetence. Got it?" She ended with a dangerous growl. Boris blinked, unfazed.
"And two: Like I said before—it's not as if it's that big of a deal."
Boris inhaled carefully, a tic going in his cheek.
"And like I said before, you could have—"
"Killed them?" Naomi asked incredulously, hands propped on her hips. "Yeah right. Something tells me that Deathstroke and that brat are smarter than you're giving them credit for…well…maybe Deathstroke anyway," she added reflectively. "Besides," Naomi continued lightly, "If half the rumors about Deathstroke are true, it doesn't matter if he was hit or not…now does it?"
Boris chewed on the inside of his cheek, unable to admit that her theory wasn't entirely implausible.
But the thought of a kid as young as Robin getting killed because of their mistake…it made Boris' stomach churn uneasily, and his heart throb heavily.
But, of course, he reassured himself, as the helicopter dipped towards the ground, it was probably just because he was concerned about his well-being, and how many methods of torture DeFarge would inflict upon him if the kid was killed.
Grime coated his lungs as Robin's chest heaved for air, and he began hacking and coughing. The gunfire had ceased for the time being, but he remained crouching, gagging on filth and trying to gather together some semblance of resolve…Slade wasn't moving, but Robin was fairly sure he could hear him breathing, probably waiting as well for a sign that things had calmed down for the moment. Robin exhaled slightly, clearing his throat; at least none of them were injured—or he wasn't, as far as he knew.
The Boy Wonder coughed lightly again, and began to move, trying to shift to the side so that he could stand, and felt something damp and hot sliding over his shirt.
There was blood soaking his arm.
Robin swallowed hard and slipped through Slade's grasp, before struggling to his feet, and watching silently, and fearfully, as the man got to his feet.
"Robin? Are…" Slade hesitated, and swallowed, looking like he was being forced to ingest poison, before continuing.
"Are you all right?"
The Boy Wonder blinked, brow furrowed in confusion.
Slade stared at him.
"Are you…sure?" He questioned, sounding completely unconvinced.
"Y-Yeah…I think so. Shouldn't you be…?"
Robin trailed off, staring, before pi
"But…you…weren't you shot, just—"
Slade turned abruptly on his heel, scooping up the bags; he flung one at Robin as he strode towards the door, the Boy Wonder just barely catching it, much less managing to remain standing as he staggered under the force of the throw.
The other man was at the top of the stairs when Robin caught up to him, furious and bewildered by his reaction.
"What was that for?" He snapped at Slade's back. "I was just making sure you weren't injured!"
"Care that much, do you?" Slade asked, voice bored. Robin flushed.
"Like hell! I just wanted to make sure you weren't going to slow me down."
Slade paused in front of the doors, staring at Robin over his shoulder. The teenager waited, arms crossed in defiance.
"Don't worry about things that don't concern you," Slade told him icily. "My well-being's none of your business."
"Is mine yours?" Robin demanded, frustrated that he wasn't getting a clear answer. "Because why else would you have saved me in the first place? I—hey, wait!" He roared, as Slade chose not to answer, and instead strode through the doors. "I'm not finished!"
Robin tore after the criminal, but, upon seeing the streets since the shots had been fired, skidded to a halt and stood stock-still, unable to do anything but stare at the wreckage.
Slade was only a few feet in front of him, glancing carelessly at the corpses that were splayed everywhere, very much in contrast to his partner.
"What happened?" Robin murmured, taking an unsteady step forward, while staring with horror at the body of a cop.
Slade shook his head, still trying to pick his way through the mess as quickly as possible, and irritated that Robin wasn't doing the same.
"They were attacked by something—or someone," Slade said practically.
"Those two bounty hunters from earlier!" Robin exclaimed.
"Good. That's our likeliest possibility. Now; we need to go…" He began to move forward again, but stopped when he saw that Robin wasn't following.
"We don't have time," Slade informed him urgently, noticing Robin's mournful expression with exasperation. "As I said before, we need to move while we still have time."
"But—" Robin began, looking slightly surprised at the pleading note in his voice. Slade waved a hand dismissively, though, preventing any further argument.
"The dead are dead. That won't change. Leave them, already."
He reached forward, grabbing hold of Robin's arm and wrenching it hard.
The Boy Wonder glared up at him, but obeyed regretfully, trying his best not to look around at the carnage surrounding them as they made their way down the street, fading into the distance.
Glass snapped and shattered beneath Boris's heavy footfalls, as he picked his away across the destruction that littered the city block; above his head, the sound of the helicopter's blades faded as it ascended into the sky. The bodies looked like they had been shifted, to make a path through the mess, and there were small heaps of debris that had been shifted by a careless footstep.
"I think they've already gone," Boris concluded, finishing his sweep of the remains. Naomi, who had been standing off to his right, waiting, cursed loudly.
"We were so close too!" She roared, pummeling the side of the building nearest to her. "And we let them slip right under our noses!"
"It happens," Boris said dully, hiding his own aggravation beneath his usual, impassive mask.
"If you hadn't lectured me," Naomi began, but her shoulders slumped a moment later, the fight leaving her in an instant to be replaced by glumness.
"It's not impossible to trace them," Boris told her practically. "It'll be difficult but…"
"I know, I know," Naomi said tiredly, cutting him off. "I was just hoping to make this easy."
"Yeah, I understand. Chasing after Deathstroke and Robin's not my idea of fun either, but we've got a job," Boris said, and, crossed to her, pushing her slightly to get her to snap out of it. "Let's get this over with as soon as possible, eh?"
"Right…" Naomi grumbled underneath her breath, and snatched up the small stash of weapons that they had taken from Julius before his departure, before turning in the direction that indicated which way Robin and Slade had headed.
"Let's get this show on the road."
To be Continued…
Done! Blegh…after all the time it took me to back to I feel more than a little embarrassed. But, like I said, it won't happen again. Thanks for understanding!
So…I'm sitting here in my room, looking over my homework…and it's snowing. And it's October 12th, for crying out loud. This is insane.