Disclaimer: Teen Titans and all associated with them are property of, who else, DC Comics
Rating: I'll say around pg 13 or 14
Notes: I am aware of another fic of the same title, but as I wrote this some time ago before I stumbled across it, please don't hold the title against me. As mentioned, I wrote this some time back but never posted it anywhere until recently, where it got a rather good response so I decided I would share here too. Enjoy!
Synopsis: Alternate version to the Teen Titans ep "the apprentice." That damned ep had so much potential it drove me nuts!
He watched them searching for him, knowing they would never find him. He was too good at keeping his presence concealed. With his background, he had to be. As he watched them, the now too familiar feeling of resentment began to overtake him. It had been weeks, why hadn't they figured it out yet? Hadn't his detective skills rubbed off on any of them? Or did they think so little of him that they actually believed he would betray them for no good reason?
The soft click in his ear signaled the opening of the communications line and that voice he despised so much crooned, "Time to come home, Robin. Unless you wish to continue engaging your former friends..."
'Fuck you,' Robin thought even as he said out loud, "I'm on my way."
Tossing them one last look, he turned and disappeared into the darkness, basking in the freedom he felt running across the rooftops. The only freedom he had left these days since Slade had so skillfully trapped him.
Batman had been right. All those years he hadn't understood his mentor...his father's paranoia until now. Friends were a dangerous thing to have. More so if you were their leader. That was why the Bat had refused full membership into the League. Why he insisted Superman was the League leader when even the Man of Steel himself knew the real deal. Batman refused to be put in a position where friends could be used against him. And now Robin knew why.
It was an intensely painful lesson and if he was to survive it, he would have to let go of the hope that they would figure it out. He would have to completely immerse himself in Slade's world and find the way out on his own.
As always, Slade was there to greet him when he returned. Always there, always watching...One day, Robin would catch him not watching and then...
"There is something different about you, Robin," Slade purred as Robin handed over the latest high tech gizmo the bastard had expressed desire for. "I wonder what it could be."
Robin stared straight ahead as Slade slowly circled him like a shark circles its prey just before ripping it to shreds. The soft laugh sent chills up his spine and his view of the wall changed to that of Slade's chest.
"You've finally realized your friends are a lost cause. They will never see why you betrayed them, just that you did. You are ready to give yourself to me completely now, are you not?"
He didn't want to answer that question but, if he were to ever free himself... "Yes," he answered quietly.
Robin's hand curled into a fist and he resisted the urge to lash out. "Yes...master," he growled.
He could hear the smile in Slade's voice as the monster breathed, "Good boy," reaching out and putting a hand on Robin's right shoulder.
The Boy Wonder hissed and jumped back, grabbing his right shoulder as pain raced through him. He had forgotten the Star Bolt that had slipped through his defenses and nailed him. The ache in his soul worsened and the ice gathering around his heart hardened a little more as he listened to Slade order another servant to escort him to the infirmary to care for his shoulder.
"I can't have my heir at less than one hundred percent," he said, bringing an image of giant snake into Robin's mind. A snake that would devour him whole if he allowed it. If he allowed it...
One week later:
"Ugh!" Robin hit the wall hard, more pain exploding through his already battered body as he dropped in a heap on the floor.
"They...were waiting for me," he gasped out as he listened to the approaching footsteps. "They knew I'd...I'd be there."
"And still you failed your mission and came back looking like you were hit by a bus!" Slade growled, dragging Robin to his feet and slamming him up against the wall. He leaned in, his face inches from Robin's and hissed, "I am very disappointed, Robin."
Robin was unable to stop the smirk that crossed his lips "Guess I...trained them a little too well, huh?"
The eye that was visible behind Slade's mask narrowed as he stared at him. Robin stared back, some of his defiance having survived the nearly two months he'd been in Slade's possession.
"Very funny," Slade said after a moment. "Perhaps I should solve this little problem now and eliminate them, hmm?"
"Heh," Robin snorted. "Go ahead. In fact, why don't you give the remote to me and I'll do it?"
That comment seemed to surprise Slade much to Robin's private pleasure. Slade studied him silently for a long moment before laughing softly. "I don't think you're ready for that quite yet. But I'll certainly consider it for a later time."
He released Robin and stepped back, allowing the boy to slip down to the floor. "Deal with your injuries. The very second you are able, you will begin a new training program I have been working on. You will not be defeated by them again."
Turning, Slade melted away into the darkness and two of his androids came forward, helping Robin to his feet and supporting him the infirmary where they began to work on his injuries. As they cared for him, he could help but thing about the encounter with his former friends earlier that night. How had they known he would be at that particular location? Slade had been leaking rumors of a number of intended targets but the one tonight had not been on the list. Perhaps Slade had set him up to test him. The bastard was fond of his damn tests.
He hissed as one of the droids was a little too rough on one of his injuries and, grabbing a pipe, smashed its head. "Watch it ya can opener!" he snapped.
Once the droids had finished patching him up, Robin was escorted back to his room where he found a glass of water and two top of the line pain killer waiting for him. Nothing but the best for Slade's little puppet...
He had only been at the new training program a few days when Slade surprised him with another mission. He hadn't expected to be sent out again so soon and curiosity forced him to voice his surprise.
"I've decided to give you an early chance to redeem yourself," Slade answered.
"You'll recall a few months ago you and the Titans managed to foil an attempt to claim a disk with vital technological information on it? The one that, I later learned, you were asked to keep safe in your Tower?"
Recognition passed over Robin's face and he nodded, a terrible feeling gripping his heart. He knew Slade was smiling under that mask...
"I want you to go to Titan Tower and retrieve it for me."
Robin's heart freed itself from that icy grip and jumped to his throat. "I..."
"Don't think you can handle the challenge?" Slade purred and, for some reason, a desire to please the man overtook Robin. Before he even realized it, he said, "I'll make you, proud, my master."
Slade leaned down and breathed in Robin's ear, "I certainly hope so. Now go. As always, I will monitor your progress from here."
Robin bowed his head, turned and ran off to get his supplies.
Starfire could not remember a time when things seemed so dark and hopeless. Robin's betrayal had been a worse blow than anything their enemies could possibly come up with. His loss would be something they would never get over. One that she would never get over.
Not for the first time and certainly not for the last, tears slipped down her cheeks as she wandered the silent Tower, unable to sleep, thinking of their last encounter with their former leader. How they had been forced to hurt him so badly in their efforts to stop him from steeling Slade's newest target. It killed her to see the pain he was in and know that she helped cause it.
A soft noise caught her attention and she stopped, glancing around to get her bearings and determine the source of the noise. She was near the evidence vault and the noise seemed to be coming from that direction. Cautiously, Starfire moved down the hallway, hovering so she would not make a sound and could listen easier. Another soft sound and she was able to determine that the evidence vault was, indeed, where it was coming from.
She hovered outside the door, staring at it and wondering if one of the others had been unable to sleep as well. Perhaps they were looking at memories and maybe whoever it was would like some company. Silently, she put in her codes and the door slid open, revealing the dimly lit vault filled with trophies and important things from past cases.
Not seeing anyone, she called out a soft, "Hello?" as she entered the room, the door sliding closed behind her. "Beast Boy? Raven? Cyborg? Who is...mmmph!"
Her questions were interrupted as someone grabbed her from behind, a gloved hand pressing firmly over her mouth. Before she could struggle, an all too familiar voice whispered in her ear, causing her to freeze, her eyes widening.
"It's me, Starfire."
Robin! Again, before she could start to struggle, his voice stopped her. "I need you to listen to me very carefully, Star. I don't want to hurt Cyborg if I don't have to."
Her eyes widened even more and darted about the room, searching for her large friend. "I'm going to let you go now," Robin whispered, bringing her focus back to him. "You're not going to do scream or do anything to alert attention, right?"
With the threat to Cyborg echoing in her mind, Starfire nodded quickly and just as quickly, she was released. She spun around, backing up a couple of feet as she came face to face with Robin. Robin held a finger to his lips and produced what looked like a tiny remote. "This is connected to a virus inside Cyborg," he whispered. "If I press the button, the virus will be released and will kill him in seconds."
Starfire gasped and paled, her heart pounding, her legs feeling like they were going to collapse any second now. As if knowing exactly what she was feeling, Robin gestured to a corner of the room, indicating he wanted her to go it. She did as she was told, sitting at Robin's instruction. He knelt down in front of her, his expression somehow managing to be deadly serious and comforting at the same time.
"I'm just here to collect something," he whispered. "I'll be gone in just a couple of minutes. Cyborg won't be hurt just as long as you stay very, very quiet for me, okay?"
She nodded quickly and he reached out, causing her to flinch but he did nothing more than gently touch her cheek before moving away and disappearing among the rows of things they had collected.
She couldn't believe this was happening. She couldn't believe she was actually terrified of Robin! Of what he had actually threatened to do! And it was because of that threat that she could do nothing but sit in the corner as she had been told to do, shaking uncontrollably, hoping this was just some horrible nightmare that she would wake up from any second now.
In fact...she squeezed her eyes shut tightly and silently willed herself to wake up, repeating the mantra over and over in her mind, knowing that any second now, she would wake up in her bed and confirm that this wasn't happening...
"Starfire." Her eyes flew open and tears sprang to them when she found she was still in the evidence vault and Robin was once more kneeling in front of her. "I have what I came for," he whispered. "I'm leaving now. You're doing really well. Just stay here and don't make a sound, all right?"
She nodded, the tears slipping down her cheeks unnoticed. Robin started to reach out, stopped, then sighed and stood. "Goodbye Star," he whispered and then he was gone. Starfire never moved or made a sound for the rest of the night.
That was how Beast Boy found her the next morning. When she hadn't turned up at breakfast and didn't answer communications, he and Cyborg had gone looking for her, concerned. Out of the four of them, she had taken the Robin thing the hardest and neither felt the normally overly cheerful girl should be alone.
Beast Boy had been surprised when he'd entered the vault and found his friend sitting on the floor in the corner, dried tear stains on her cheeks. "Star?" he questioned, kneeling down in front of her. When she didn't answer, he reached out and touched her, questioning a little louder, "Starfire?"
She jumped, large green eyes focusing on him and it seemed to take her a minute to realize who he was. In that time, Beast Boy questioned, "You okay, Star? What are you doing in here? Have you been here all night?"
That seemed to be the wrong thing to say for she suddenly burst into hysterics, threw herself into his arms and began babbling in Tamaranian. Beast Boy, while trying to calm his friend down, quickly summoned Cyborg and when he arrived, Starfire's hysterics worsened.
Taking her in his arms, Cyborg carried her to the kitchen where Raven met them and, together, the trio managed to calm Starfire down enough that she was able to tell them what had happened that had happened. Cyborg immediately ran a self diagnostic and a variety of other tests and, after a good four hours, announced that he was completely clean.
"He bluffed you, Star," he explained. "He preyed on your fears...knew that you wouldn't do anything to jeopardize me."
"How did he get in?" Beast Boy asked. "I thought you changed all the security?"
"I did," Cyborg replied, an angry gleam in his eye. "I don't know how he managed to do it, but he got past it. What the hell was he looking for anyway?"
"You remember that disk we kept out of Slade's hands a few months ago?" Raven replied and Cyborg crushed the tool he was holding. "Aww dammit!" Getting up, he stormed from the lab, leaving the remaining three to deal with their shock.
"I am...very confused," Starfire said after a couple of minutes.
"What's there to be confused about?" Raven replied, coldness in her voice. "Robin switched sides, pure and simple."
"Then why did he not hurt me?" Starfire questioned. "He had ample opportunity to hurt or kill me last night and yet..."
"Hey," Beast Boy answered, "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth." He started to say more but was interrupted by Cyborg's voice over the comm link. "Titans! Conference room, now!"
The trio exchanged glances, then quickly moved to obey the snapped order. Cyborg sat at the head of the table, a determined look on his face. "All right, guys," he said as they took their seats, "Last night's stunt...that was the last straw. The way I see it, we have only one resort left that doesn't involve someone getting killed."
One of his hands had been on the table, covering something. Now, he removed it, revealing what looked like a signal device. "Robin once told me, " he continued before any of them could ask what the device was for, "That if he ever got into trouble he couldn't get out of that there was one person on this Earth that he could trust to help him out of it. He also said that if anything were to ever happen to him, we should use this to contact that person. I think this situation warrants contacting him."
"So...who is this guy?" Beast Boy asked hesitantly.
"Batman. His father," Raven answered and Cyborg nodded.
"I think the Bat needs to know what's happened to his son." Gazing around the table, Cyborg found nothing but agreement in the faces of his friends. Nodding, he reached out and pushed the button.
"Dude," Beast Boy whispered, "He is going to be so pissed."