Off Duty

He flipped through the pages of his magazine for the tenth time, only to toss it down on top of the duffel bag at his feet with a dissatisfied sigh. Patience, he told himself. Patience was his greatest downfall, or rather his lack of it was. He'd heard it from friend and enemy alike, but for whatever reason it never really stuck with him. Patience was one virtue that he had not been endowed with much of. Not as Robin, and certainly not as Dick Grayson either.

Dick looked up and down the street again, eyeing approaching cars hopefully, but finding disappointment each time. Alfred was supposed to have picked him up an hour ago to take him back to Gotham for the weekend. Bruce made a point of wanting to see his ward on occasion, to see firsthand how he was progressing and to make certain he was still focused on the mission. Dick hated leaving the team behind for these weekend getaways, but all four of the others went to great lengths to assure him they could hold the fort down in his absence.

He kicked his duffel bag back over by the nearby public bench and sat down with another audible sigh. If he was going to be forced to wait, he might as well be somewhat comfortable for it. He looked down at himself and smirked. These weekends did have one perk to them. Wearing normal clothing wasn't a luxury he was afforded while on the job. He found the black t-shirt, jeans and sneakers he wore to be a comfortable change from his regular uniform, though at times even he had to admit it was getting hard to distinguish what was the disguise and what was the real him.

"Excuse me, is this seat available?" a voice asked, breaking his reverie. Dick looked up to see an older gentleman standing nearby. He was grizzled and white-haired, but although he was old he nonetheless looked like he was still an extremely capable man. He was neatly dressed and ran his hand over his white goatee as he looked down at Dick, his expression neutral.

"Uh, sure. Go right ahead." Dick said, moving over a bit.

"Thank you. Sometimes these bones and joints of mine just decide they don't want to work like they used to." The man said, taking a seat next to Dick.

Dick did his best not to look too suspicious of the man, but found himself unable to draw himself away from one particular feature on him: an eye patch covering his right eye. He cursed himself inwardly for staring at it and forced himself to look away.

"You can ask about it, you know." The man said, as if reading Dick's mind. "I've long since become accustomed to drawing attention because of it."

"Sorry." Dick said apologetically. "But…how'd it happen?"

"Oh I lost it in a battle a long time ago."

"You're a war veteran, then?"

"Ha ha, no. I've never been a soldier."

"But you just said you lost it in battle?"

"Not all battles are waged with armies, young man."

"I know that all too well."

"Now that sounds like a response from someone who's used to getting themselves in trouble. Tell me young man, are you a troublemaker?"

"No! Well…that's not entirely true at least."

The white-haired man laughed heartily at Dick's response. "Care to expound on that?"

"Believe me, I don't go looking for trouble most of the time. Trouble just…has a way of finding me. And I learned when I was younger that when trouble finds you, it won't just leave you alone."

"Mmm, too true."

Silence hung between the two of them for a few moments, until Dick decided to press the conversation. It wasn't like Alfred was showing up yet, after all.

"So you live here in Jump City?"

"For a couple of years now. I was something of a wanderer for much of my life, until I decided I wanted to make a place that was right for me."

"Well you've picked a good place for that. Jump City is really modern and lively. Aside from the incidents, it's a pretty safe place to live."

"I'm very familiar with those incidents you speak of. Don't you ever worry that they could get too far out of hand?"

"Sometimes, yeah. But that's why the Titans are here after all, right? They seem perfectly able to handle things along with the local police."

"And yet it's a daily, or even hourly struggle. Seems like for as much good as the Titans do it's never enough."

"Not a fan of heroes, are you?"

"I've lived long enough to have had my fill of heroes, my friend. Personally, I'd rather there were some more absolute control over these sort of things."

"What, like a dictatorship? I don't know how much I like the sound of that."

"The average person has no idea what they want out of life, let alone know what's best for how things should be run. Wouldn't it be better to leave those decisions to someone who did?"

"No one person can make decisions like that. They'll always have their own agenda and desires fueling them. They can say it's for everyone's best interests, but in the end it's just one person trying to force their will on everyone else."

"So you'd leave things to the whims of those less capable of making such important decisions?"

"I'd let them have a choice in how they wanted to live. The system isn't perfect by far, I admit that. But considering the alternatives, it's at least the most attractive one."

"Well, that's the sort of idealistic response I'd expect from a youth. Though put a bit more eloquently than I'm used to hearing. You are a sharp one mister…"

"Grayson. Dick Grayson. And you are?"

"Oh just call me Wilson. A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Mr. Grayson."

"Likewise, Mr. Wilson. I might not agree with your ideas, but it's nice to just be able to discuss these things with someone instead of figh- er, I mean, instead of having it feel like I'm fighting about it."

"I would heartily agree with you there. Though like you, I am certainly not averse to fighting for what I believe in."

"Can I ask you something?"

"I can hardly say no to someone I am now so acquainted with, now can I?"

"Heh, I guess not. Well, uh…since you've seen so many battles I was wondering…have you ever killed someone?"

"…yes. I have." The man's voice was laced with regret at he gave his answer.

"I'm sorry. I know it must be hard to deal with."

"It's one of the things no one ever considers. It's easy to kill a man. It's impossible to live it down. But I carry on all the same. You have to after all. Still, it was always against my personal code to kill unless it's absolutely necessary in order for me to succeed."

"Some kind of warrior's code you live by?"

"Call it my own sense of honor. It's not as simple as saying that I follow any given principle such as Bushido or Chivalry. I simply do what I believe is most right, and I follow that path as far as I can, until it is either futile to continue or I succeed."

"You sound like a very passionate person, Mr. Wilson."

"And what about you, Mr. Grayson? What of your own honor?"

"I guess I was taught much the same as what you believe. My…master raised me according to his own beliefs very strictly. I can't say as they've led me wrong yet."

"It would seem we are rather alike, the two of us. I only wish I'd known you earlier in my life Mr. Grayson. We might have made quite a team."

Dick smiled at Wilson. "Sounds like it would've been cool."

Just then, two car horns beeped and the two looked to the street. Two limousines awaited them, their drivers stone-faced as they awaited their respective passengers.

"Ah, my man is here." Wilson said, standing slowly. "And yours too, I see."

"Yeah. Hey, I enjoyed talking to you Mr. Wilson. Maybe we'll meet again sometime."

Wilson smiled faintly back at him. "Mr. Grayson, something tells me that our paths will inevitably cross again someday. Until then, farewell."

Both men bowed to each other, and then headed to their cars. Once in his car, Dick smiled at Alfred who nodded to him as he saw him in the rear view mirror.

"My apologies for my lateness, Master Grayson. Master Bruce had a late engagement and I had to wait for him at home before I could depart to pick you up."

"No sweat Al. I just had a great talk while I waited for you."

Dick continued to banter with Alfred as their car drove away, while Wilson took his seat in the back of his car.

"You were three minutes late." Wilson told his driver.

"I must beg your forgiveness, Master Wilson. Traffic was most unforgiving." The driver told him.

"Quite alright, Wintergreen. I had a fascinating chat with a young man that I may look into a bit more."

"Another potential apprentice, my Master?"

A smile curled at the edges of his mouth, and Slade Wilson contemplated the possibilities if young Dick Grayson were indeed to become his apprentice.

"Perhaps. Just perhaps."