Summary: Based on an AU version of "How Long is Forever?" When Starfire never returned after entering Warp's time vortext the remaining Titans went their separate ways. Slade saw the weakened team as his opportunity to finally claim his Apprentice once and for all.

Disclaimer: I don't own the Teen Titans cartoon show. It belongs to DC comics and Time Warner and I make no monentary compensation when posting this fic.

Warning: This is slash.


Slade blocked the quick, sloppy punch and took a step back as he waited for the next one. It came as quickly as the before it and he dodged it with almost pathetic ease. Two years without the Titans to hinder him might have made Dick a better fighter but he was still not good enough.

The nineteen year old deserved credit though, he was not one who gave up easily. Slade ducked under the roundhouse kick and smiled a small smile behind his mask. They had been in the gym for hours and Dick was clearly exhausted. It showed in the increasing sloppiness of his movements and in the sweat soaked black hair. A second kick followed the first and Slade caught the kid's ankle and used Dick's momentum to launch him across the gym. The boy landed on his side and Slade crossed his arms over his chest as he waited.

"Get up." Dick continued to lay there and Slade could see the kid's chest heaving as he tried to suck in as much air as possible. "Get up Grayson!" The young man tried to push himself up off the mat only to have his shaking limbs refuse to support him. He collapsed again and Slade frowned as he walked across the room to stand in front of the fallen youth. "Don't try my patience kid."

Dick rolled onto his stomach and managed to push himself to his knees even though his arms continued to shake. A small smirk formed behind his mask. The boy kneeling at his feet was quickly growing into a beautiful young man. Dick's last growth spurt had done his too small frame some much needed justice and the addition of lean wiry muscle had filled out his slim frame. he looked more like adult now, especially since he had started to let his hair grow out. The gelled spikes of his early Titans days were gone and Dick had let it grow into a soft silky curtain that fell to his chin.

"Pathetic."

The kid's head shot up as he spoke and Slade smirked as he found himself staring into wide cerulean blue eyes. Dick dropped his gaze back to his hands and those expressive eyes were lost as strands of damp raven hair fell forward to shadow his face. A drop of moisture, most likely sweat, but quite possibly a tear, raced down the bridge of Dick's nose and dropped onto the training mat.

Curiosity as to which it was made Slade drop to one knee. Dick refused to look at him and Slade reached out to grab the young man's chin. He tilted his face upward and dug his nomex clad fingers deep into the skin below Dick's jaw when he tried to pull away. Dick shuddered and the kid's eyes were filled with a mix of conflicting emotions, fear and shame chief among them, but they were not wet with tears as he had hoped. Slade released him and stood in one fluid motion. When he was standing he removed a key from the pocket of his belt and dropped it at his feet.

"Your room is open. Get cleaned up and do so quickly. I will come to collect the key within the hour." He watched impassively as Dick nodded once and then reached out to wrap long slim fingers around the small brass key. Slade took a few steps back and watched without speaking as Dick struggled to his feet. The young man's hands still shook slightly and Slade noticed that he seemed to be favoring his ankle. He limped to the door and was pushing it open when Slade spoke.

"The sooner you accept that no one will come for you the easier this will be. There are no more Titans."

Dick's hand tightened into a fist and anger stirred in those deep cerulean eyes.

"You're wrong Slade. They'll come for me. They are still my friends."

Slade crossed his arms over his chest and smiled.

"You left them first Grayson. Remember that when you finally accept the truth." The elder man paused for a moment to gauge the younger one's reaction and when he received no immediate response he continued. "You are wasting your hour kid. Get moving." He watched as Dick limped out of the gym and waited until the boy was out of earshot before letting out a soft chuckle of laughter.

Dick had been here over a month and yet he still clung to a false hope. The young man was convinced that his friends would come save him just as they had in the past, even though Dick had decided to leave them first. His departure had split apart the remaining Titans. That parting had made them pathetically easy to track down and destroy. Dick had not realized the truth yet but he would soon enough. There would be no rescue coming.

UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

The door to his room was open when he reached it but as soon as he had stepped inside it swung shut with a loud metallic clang which was followed by the clicks of the locks as they slid home. There was no escape from the room and even if he tried to run the metal band around his ankle would keep him within the walls of the compound.

He placed the small key on the metal table beside the bed and dropped down onto the mattress. A ragged and pained sigh escaped his throat as he rested his elbows on his knees and cupped his face in his hands. Limp black hair fanned down around his face and his body shook as he forced himself to hold back on the sob that threatened to escape him. He could not afford weakness, Slade would see it and know that he was starting to break.

Dick dropped his hands down between his knees and glanced around the room. It was barely large enough to hold the furniture that occupied it. A door on the back wall led to a bathroom and Dick glanced back at the small brass key. He really needed to shower before the hour was up but he found himself unable to move from the bed.

His ankle ached and he shifted further back onto the mattress so he could elevate the limb. Removing the boot and sock hurt and he grit his teeth as he examined the bruising that he found. It was slightly swollen but thankfully not broken. Dick sighed again and removed his other boot before standing to collect clothes from the dresser. Before heading into the bathroom he made sure to grab the little key.

The bathroom was smaller than the bedroom and Dick dumped his clothes onto the stainless steel counter-top before stripping out of the workout pants and tank-top he had been sparring in. He missed the sense of safety that his masks had provided and would have given anything to be able to keep his eyes hidden from Slade. It was like the man could read to the very bottom of his soul when their gazes met and the feeling was only made worse by the fact that he had never seen Slade in anything but his armor. That single masked eye could see straight through him.

The nineteen year wrapped a nearby towel around his waist and took the key from the counter-top before moving to the four sided glass box that stood in the center of the room. Slade did not allow him to use the shower on a daily basis so to get one was a treat. He fit the brass key into the lock and let the towel fall to the floor before stepping inside.

The water came on by itself and Dick pressed his hands against the glass pane in front of him as he ducked his head under the warm spray. Water slicked hair fell into his eyes as the spray pounded over him and Dick had to force himself not to shiver as he squeezed his eyes shut. With a sigh he brushed his hair from his face and reached for the shampoo bottle..

When he had finished rinsing his hair he rubbed his body down with soap and tried to ignore the variety of fresh and fading bruises that littered his skin and the dark metal band that hung around his left ankle. A deeper shiver wracked down his spine and he placed the soap back on its narrow ledge before pressing his hands back to the glass.

Dick missed his privacy, his dignity, and his freedom. Most of all he missed his friends, especially Star. The Titans would probably still be a team if she had never disappeared into Warp's time-vortex. The young man shook his head and sighed. He had not realized how badly he truly missed all of them until Slade had showed in the middle of his last patrol. He did not remember the details of their fight, only that in the morning he had woken up to an unfamiliar ceiling and a cold metal restraining band.

He shuddered again and he let one hand slide down the glass. The tips of his fingers created little trails in the condensation and Dick brushed his hair from his face as he stared at them. When they started to fill again he dropped his gaze to his feet. He would not feel so vulnerable without his mask.

The water stopped and Dick was shocked out of his musings. With a sigh he stepped out of the shower and quickly grabbed up the towel from the floor. He wrapped it around his waist and moved to the sink where he wiped away a streak of condensation with the palm of his hand. The face that stared back at him was one that he almost did not recognize.

He could not help but wonder why they had not found him already. A month should have been more than enough time to do so. Maybe Slade was right, maybe his abandonment of the team had been enough to make them not care about him anymore.

Dick buried that thought deep. Slade was not right. His friends were coming for him. His hands shook as he reached for a second towel to use on his hair and body. When he was as dry as he was getting he pulled the dark gray sweats over his legs and the black tank top over his head, the whole while wishing that the clothes were the black and blue Kevlar and Nomex weave of of his Nightwing costume or even the vibrant red and green of his original Robin uniform.

With a sigh Dick raked his long fingers through his slick black hair and moved towards the bathroom door. He opened it, took a couple of steps into the room and froze when he realized that Slade was already waiting for him. His heart pounded in his chest and a light sweat seemed to rise to his hands. It was the first time he had ever seen Slade without the armor. An overwhelming sense of despair seemed to crash down around him and the knowledge that he could not look his enemy in the eye without fear made him sick inside.

UUUUUUUUUUUUUU

Slade smiled as he watched the young man step from the shower room. His chin length hair was plastered against his skull and for a moment Dick was completely unaware of his presence. All too quickly that changed and he saw the kid's body tense before his eyes darted to the floor. A soft laugh escaped his throat as he realized that Dick was truly afraid of him.

The elder man slid off the desk chair he had been sitting on and crossed the room in a couple of long strides. As he moved closer Dick tried to retreat into the bathroom but Slade caught his wrist and pressed the younger man against the wall by the door. Dick squirmed against his heavier bulk and Slade pressed closer to the young man so that there bodies were flush against one another.

"Look at me kid." Slade commanded softly. "You finally get to see my face and all you can do is stare at the floor" Dick stubbornly kept his head down and his wet hair did an effective job of hiding his face. That problem was easily solved. Slade released the younger man's wrist and brushed the soft curtain of wet hair back. Dick still refused to look at him and Slade momentarily marveled at how hard the young man seemed to be trembling before reminding himself that he had gone out of his way to make sure that he had not touched Dick with anything more than his gloved hands during the entire that Dick had been here.

The renewed sensory contact, for someone who thrived on human touch, was producing a stronger reaction than he had anticipated. Almost experimentally he brushed the bare pad of his thumb over a light bruise that had formed under Dick's eye. The kid jerked his face to the side and Slade brushed the tips of his fingers down the side of the nineteen year old's face before settling his hand over Dick's chin and roughly pulling his gaze upward.

"I said look at me!" Those cerulean blue eyes that he had come to love so much were wide with fear and Slade brushed his thumb over Dick's bottom lip. "We have some things to discuss kid." Dick tried to duck his head but Slade held his gaze upward. "Your friends are not coming after you." Dick blinked and a hint of defiant anger flickered beyond his fear. Seeing it a small smile creep across Slade's face. "There are no more Titans Grayson. The last useless remnants of your former team are gone." Before Dick could respond Slade cocked the kid's chin up and bent down to press their lips together.

Dick made a small sound of denial and tried to twist out from under his heavier frame. To stop him Slade laced the hand that was not gripping Dick's chin into the kid's hair. A soft whimper escaped his young captive and Slade tightened the hand that curved around Dick's jaw. When he had forced the boy's mouth open he plunged his tongue into the hot wet space and tightened his hand in Dick's hair.

He broke the kiss a moment later and took a step back as Dick sagged against the wall. The kid's chest heaved as he tried to catch his breath and he ducked his head to avoid Slade's piercing gaze. As he did his hair once again fell into his eyes and Slade was left to guess the young man's reaction to his words on body language alone. To his surprise the kid's gaze shot up and he saw denial swirling in Grayson's bright blue depths.

"Your lying." He whispered desperately. Slade stepped back into Dick's space and tipped the younger man's chin upward until their gazes met.

"You belong to me now kid and the only way you are ever going to be free of me is if you can kill me." Dick squeezed his eyes shut and Slade leaned down to press a much more gentle kiss to Dick's lips. The kid seemed to be in shock so the mercenary settled one hand against the back of the younger man's neck and pressed the other against the small of Dick's back.

As he continued to gently explore the younger man's mouth he realized that he had finally broken the boy's spirit. The mercenary smiled to himself and brought the hand not pressed against Dick's back to brush away the first salty tears that were running down Dick's cheeks. He had finally won.


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