Author: Yami no Kaiba
Fandom: Animated Teen Titans
darkest of hatred is never directed where one thinks it should be.
Disclaimers: I do not own the characters. I don't know who owns the animated versions of the characters. DC owns the original comic characters.
He hates himself.
He hates himself when Slade's heavy, cold gloved hands clamp down on his shoulders, bringing bruises to his easily marred skin. Hates it when he's forced to his knees, ordered silently to do what's expected.
He remembers a time when he'd fight, snarling threats of biting Slade if the man tried to force him further.
The scar from that incident trails across his back, all jagged edges for maximum pain and uneasy healing. The scar is still an angry red from the countless times the healing scabs had stretched and broken during training, leaking flowing trails of his blood down his back and making the cloth of his shirt adhere to his skin.
So he raises his shaking, similarly gloved hands to unbutton Slade's pants, and silently hates himself as his mind whispers about Pavlovian Conditioning.
It's frighteningly easy to get a neglected child to depend on a person.
He knows this in his head, knows the psychological manipulation Slade's doing like he knows his multiplication tables.
He knows, in his head, that he's protecting his back by sitting in the corner, the water cup Slade left for him five days ago laying empty beside him for almost two days now. He knows, in his head, that it's a tactical advantage to be positioned this way, empty cup a weapon at his fingertips.
It's not fair that it makes him feel weak and trapped. Feel shaky from malnutrition, dehydration, and lack of human interaction.
He knows in his head that this is all a psychological attack.
When Slade opens the door and kneels beside him, he never manages to throw the cup at Slade, too busy with clinging to the man's chest.
Just because he knows, knowledge doesn't stop it from being effective.
Thus, he hates himself.
Slade takes particular pains not to hurt him in ways to make him bleed, not after finding him half-dead in a pool of his own blood during the aftermath of reprimanding him the first time he'd refused the man's orders.
He wishes sometimes that Slade hadn't found him at all. That the man had taken just another hour to come back and check on him, because by then the blood loss would have been too severe and the coagulant Slade had injected into his system wouldn't have worked in time even coupled with a blood transfusion.
His mind knows the reason Slade doesn't intentionally make him bleed is because the man believes it to be too easy to trace the medical shipment's increased order of blood clotting agents. He knows this, but that doesn't stop him from feeling the teeniest bit warmer.
It's because of that that he hates himself.
Slade doesn't punish him in the conventional sense anymore, with a metal edged fist and sharp glinting objects.
No, nothing like that. Instead, Slade forces him to his knees beside the man's chair, and with fingers curled tight in his hair to keep him from looking away from the monitors, Slade makes him watch and listen.
Hours of edited, looping video. Even if he closes his eyes, he can still hear it, still remember the exact scenes from the sounds and words that the speakers play out.
Dying screams of friends and partners mixed with the sound of his strained begging asking for release and Slade's purred promises.
This, too, makes him hate himself. For not being able to aid the people he loved, for giving in to the cravings Slade manages to induce in him.
He's learned it's useless to ask Slade for mercy from this, from being reminded that there's nothing to escape to even if he did manage to outmaneuver Slade. Reminded of all the little reasons, however basic they are, on why he should stay.
By the time the video ends, Slade's pulled him into the man's lap, facemask discarded on the chair's armrest and licking the tears off of his cheeks.
This, too, makes him feel the teeniest bit warmer. Safer. More secure and grounded.
Two hours later, when he's finally alone in the barren room Slade's given him, he remembers to hate himself once more.
When he's finally, finally broken, he knows it.
He's come to the point that, no matter what Slade does to him, he can't bring himself to hate himself.
It is then, and only then, that he is actually broken.