Renegade Hearts

"Why are you really doing this?"

Dick sighed; he should have known Slade would see right through him. The man knew him, knew him in ways no one else could. "I just…I don't feel like what I'm doing is important anymore," he admitted, unable to come up with a convincing lie, or even a misleading truth. "It make no different in the grand scheme of things. I feel…I feel dead inside." More like half-dead, but it was the truth.

Slade regarded him for a moment, that one eye more piercing in its gaze than even Batman's two. "You want to feel alive again, kid?" he asked abruptly.

Dick ducked his head to hide the shame in his eyes. "Yeah," he said softly.

Slade tugged his mask off; it took a moment for Dick to realize the mercenary was expecting him to the do the same. He did so, rolling up the Nightwing mask and tucking it into a compartment on his belt. He waited expectantly for what Slade would say or do.

Dick didn't have to wait long. Between one breath and next, Slade was kissing him. And Dick, barely realizing he was doing it, and not knowing why, kissed him back.

Dick didn't know why he followed Slade to the bedroom of his current safehouse, either, but once Slade started undressing him, he figured it out. Maybe this would only make things worse in the long run, but for the moment, he could lose himself, lose the pain in Slade's arms.

Slade's arms, his hands, his tongue and lips and teeth…and that hard, nowhere-near-scarred-enough-for-the-work-he-did body, that pinned him down to the bed and made him forget his own name, let alone why he'd ever tried to leave it behind.

When Dick slept that night, it was the sleep of the dead. When Dick woke the next morning, it was to an empty bed, with a note saying, Live, Kid. It's what you're good at.

The sting of rejection tried to form inside his heart…and dissipated. It couldn't overtake thefledging feeling of peace inside him that causing the depression that had been swamping him for so long to ebb away.

He didn't regret. He didn't plan on repeating it, but he didn't regret having done it.

He felt alive again.