Hello, and to those of you who don't know me, welcome. To those who have been reading, please, take a moment to read this author's note.
I have been rereading all my old stories, deciding which to continue and which to abandon. This one made the final cut, and I will be continuing it. However, I must start with edits. I was a freshman in high school when I first wrote chapter one of this story, and I am rather displeased with it now. I will be revamping chapters one through four, hopefully making them a bit easier to read and understand. I will also be REMOVING the character Ricochet. I just don't like her anymore. I didn't introduce her at all, and she is just a random character as far as the readers are concerned.
I will be updating on a regular basis from here until the time the story is finished, hopefully once a week. Keep me motivated! If I don't update, bug me until I do, PM me, or review, or something, but I need your support!
With that in mind, please take the time to reread the first few chapters and then enjoy the new ones!
Thank you so much for your time and patience.
Now on with the show!
Summary: Life is full of choices… and usually they don't matter much, but as a superhero, every move you make matters, and everyone knows about it. Make a mistake, and the world as you know it, will shatter.
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters.
'Who is Slade?' always the question whirls through my mind, making me think, driving me mad. There is a bizarre balance to it, however, that makes me sometimes believe it is keeping me sane… I don't know how to explain it, I don't even know quite when it began, but I suppose it was when we learned his name. I immediately set out to discover who he was, but even with my computer hacking skills, all that I found were more questions. People wonder why I care so much, why it bothers me so much, and I always answer the same 'I don't know… I just want him stopped.' In a way that is true, but there is more to it than that. At this point, it's personal. I have a score to settle with Slade. I feel like I am the only one who can stop him… and yet I always fail when the time comes. I know I am only human, but I know that I can do better… I will defeat him, no matter what.
"Robin! Come on, we're going for pizza!" Cyborg's voice pulled me out of focus with a jolt.
"Ok." I shakily answer. I take a final glance at the article… "Who are you?" I say to the unmoving eye, forever frozen in place in this photograph… 'I am the thing that keeps you awake in the night, the thing that haunts every dark corner of your mind!' I shake my head remembering that night. "No…" I whisper rethinking myself. "What are you?"
"I'm tellin' ya'all, PE-PPE-RO-NI!" Cyborg said. Raven rolled her eyes. "Just get half and half," she said as she lowered her hood. "Everyone eats pepperoni except Beast Boy." They were all seated at a table at the local pizza place arguing about what to order, or moreover Beast Boy and Cyborg were arguing, and everyone else was watching in annoyance. Almost everyone. Robin's attention seemed to be somewhere else. He looked almost sad, and he was far too quiet.
"Robin." He looked up, raising an eyebrow in question. "Are you alright?"
"Yeah… just thinking." It was somewhat true, he supposed. Thinking of the last time they had encountered Slade made him think of his memories, thinking of his memories made him think...it was this day. "It's fine." Robin finally said. "Just memories."
With the attention of all four Titans now on him, Robin fidgeted a bit. After a moment of hesitation, the conversation resumed, and he relaxed a bit.
"Robin… are you sure you're ok?" Raven asked him mentally. Their bond was strong and had been increasing with practice. Never the less, it was discomforting when a foreighn voice suddenly entered his mind, and Robin jumped slightly before making eye contact with the empathy.
"I will be." Flashes of his parents flew through his thoughts.
"I'm sure you will… can I help at all?" her eyes were filled with sympathy.
"No… I'm fine." He gave her a weak smile.
"Hey guys, I'm going to… go for a walk or something… I'm not really in the mood for pizza right now." He said rising from the folding metal chair.
"Alright man…call us if you need us?" Cyborg asked, bumping fists with the smaller teen. Robin smirked in return.
"Sure… see you later." He walked to the door leading down the stairs to the exit. As he reached the stairs, he paused only to open the door, and close it behind him. Leaning against the door for a few minuts, he took a few breaths and began to run… he didn't know to where exactly he ran, he just knew he had to run. The adrenaline increase made his veins pulse with life, and it thrilled him. He felt so free. He loved the feeling of freedom; when he ran, when he flew, he was free. So he ran; he kept running until he came to a quieter part of town. Stopping, and breathing heavily, he rested his hands on knees and focused on regaining his breath.
He was not, however, expecting something to grab him and yank him around the corner into a dark alleyway.
"Hey, what do you think you're-" he began, looking indignantly at the hand holding his arm in a death grip. Upon seeing what held him, however, he widening behind the mask, he watched in horror as the shadows continued to take form until he could see at least 15 sladebots surrounding him. That could only mean one thing: Slade was alive. Slade was alive…and he was alone… it was then that he knew… he had just made his first mistake.
Watching the boy from the rooftops, Slade smirked at the obvious fear on his face. The grey eye slowly slid into a glimmering slit.
"Excellent…" he hissed through the slits of the mask. "It has begun."
"Titans! I have a … situation!" Robin yelled into the communicator as he ducked a punch.
"What kind of situation?" asked Cyborg, worry evident in his voice.
"Just get here fast!" he cut the link. Robin had nearly defeated all of the sladebots; robots were easy. But if sladebots were here, Slade had to be nearby… possibly watching. Robin Robin had learned his lesson where Slade was involved: if it can be avoided, do not fight him alone. He launched himself into the air, preparing to destroy the last bot with a roundhouse kick to the head, when suddenly he felt something on his ankle and he was thrown back down. His body slammed into the pavement. Robin groaned. No! He looked up and saw what he had seen in his nightmares… one cold, gray eye staring down at him with a glint that clearly showed glee and malice.
"Slade," he hissed. He glanced around quickly. The Titans were nowhere in sight. There was no avoiding it now. Steeling himself, Robin roared as he launched himself once again off the pavement at Slade. He yelped in pain as the man grabbed his arm and threw him into the wall. Slade held onto Robin's arm as he fell to the ground, his grip tightening in a vice like grip on the boy's wrist. Robin crouched before Slade, not daring to move for fear of a broken arm. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the T- car pull up next to the alley, and felt a surge of pure relief. Slade saw this too, and turned toward the titans, jerking Robin up with him. Robin grunted angrily and turned with him, not like he had a choice.
"Well, well, well… the Titans. Isn't this a-" he stopped short as Robin's foot flew up and hit him on the side of his face. Robin began to stumble away, rubbing his wrist, but Slade swiftly threw him back down with a backhand to the face. Damnit. He had forgotten how much he hated that. Slade reached out for him again, but found himself stopped by a starbolt to the arm. Robin, not taking any chances, sprang to his feet and moved closer to his friends. All stood ready to fight. Slade merely raised his hands.
"Calm yourselves, Titans. Let's speak for a moment. Peacefully." He received five glares in response. "Very well," he said, placing his hands behind his back, "I just wanted to express my condolences for your leader here." The mask covering the boy's eyes widened slightly on one side, then returned to its original state.
"For what?" he spat, curiosity getting the better of him. Slade's eye narrowed maliciously.
"Why Robin, isn't today… the day?" Robin took a step forward.
"How do you know about that?" he asked. The Titans, now thoroughly confused glanced at each other questioningly. Only Raven remained completely focused on Slade.
"Oh, yes… tragic really… I your poor parents."
"Shut up!" Robin yelled, his hands clenching into fists in fury.
"Please, Robin, why does he speak of your K'norfkas?" Starfire said. "And what does the date have to do with-"
"It's nothing, Starfire," Robin mumbled. "He's just trying to get a rise out of me."
"And it's working, isn't it? Have you not told them, Robin? Are you that ashamed of your past? You haven't even told them the anniversary of their deaths?" Cyborg, Beast Boy and Starfire were now all staring openly at Robin. Starfire's hand flew to her mouth. Beast Boy and Cyborg looked at a loss for words. "Ah, well," Slade continued. "It's probably for the best. If they were to see what a disappointment you are now…how you can't even obey simple orders from your master." Robin growled, his muscles tensing dangerously. He didn't reply. "But perhaps there is still a chance to remedy that. Come here."
"You wish," he spat.
"Robin…" Slade threatened.
"I don't belong to you, imbecile. I don't belong to anyone, and I don't take orders, especially not from you." Robin hissed through his teeth. "And if you ever talk about them again you son of a bitch-"
"Now, Robin," Slade said, no humor left in his voice at all, "that is no way to talk to me. You need to learn some manners." Robin could not take it any longer. He lunged into the air toward Slade, roaring in fury. Just as the Titans were about to attack, Sladebots came from behind. Cyborg was down in an instant, shocked with a device that temporarily rendered his defense systems and strength mechanisms useless. Raven followed shortly after, pulled from the air by her ankle and gagged, leaving her unable to perform spells before being given an injection that deactivated all of her powers. Starfire and Beast Boy received the same treatment. Completely drained of all energy, the four were quickly restrained. Robin fought wildly, punches flying, when Slade caught his wrist again, this time twisting it viciously. Robin screamed. Slade pinned Robin's arms behind his back, slipping his own arm into the space between the boy's elbows and his back. He applied pressure, holding them there. Then he reached into his belt and pulled out a cloth, placing it over Robin's nose and mouth. Immediately, Robin jerked his head away, coughing.
"Chloroform…?" he said shocked.
"No!" said Raven. Slade forced the cloth back over his lower face. Robin resisted, but a sharp jerk kept him still long enough. His body went limp, and Slade let him fall to the pavement.
"Robin?" said Starfire, not understanding.
"Take them all back to the meeting place… show them their new quarters." He commanded the Sladebots. Then he threw Robin over his shoulder. "I'll meet you there shortly."
The Titans were left with nothing to do but wait. Having been escorted to their current location, they were rendered helpless. It was small. The walls, all but one, were a solid concrete. The remaining wall consisted of bars, as though of a jail cell. On the other side of the bars was another room again, concrete, but with nothing. In contrast, their room held five cots and a door that led to a bathroom in the area they were in. It was not large for five people, but there was room to walk. The other room had only a door which led to what they guessed was a bathroom and a solid stone floor. They had been given a larger dose of the drug that removed their powers, Cyborg as well. It would last up to three days, or so they had been told. The hours dragged on slowly, and little was said between the Titans. Robin and Slade had yet to be seen, and the worry combined with the lack of space was driving them nearly mad.
"Well… where do you think they could be?" Beast Boy finally asked.
"I don't know, but whatever is going on, it isn't good. No one knows where we are, or even that we're missing." Raven replied monotonously.
"Please…" Starfire said quietly, staring at her hands, folded in her lap. "What did the small white cloth do to Robin?"
"It had a chemical on it called chloroform… it's like knock out gas." Cyborg replied solemnly.
"But… where are they?" asked Beast Boy. He received no reply.
Some time later there was the swishing noise of a mechanical door sliding open, and Robin stumbled into the room next to theirs, wearing an all black long-sleeved jumpsuit and gloves. He no longer had a cape, but the mask remained as well as his shoes. He did not see them standing next to him through the bars.
"This will be where you will stay." They heard Slade say from outside the door.
"You really think you can get away with this again, you…" Robin replied, before being interrupted.
"Temper temper, Robin," Slade mocked, stepping into the room. Robin countered, taking a few steps back.
"You can't make me stay here. You know I will find a way out." Slade walked quickly forward, until Robin was left with nowhere to go.
"Perhaps, but what of your friends?" he asked, coming to a halt towering about Robin.
"Where are they?" Robin demanded.
"Right beside you." He turned his head and saw them all sitting there. "One hour, Robin," Slade said, turning his back and taking a step forward. Robin spat at his retreating form. Slade's eye widened before he quickly turned around and had Robin pinned against the wall. Gripping the front of his shirt, he slowly raised the smaller form off of the ground. Robin, eyes wide from surprise, exhaled sharply. "I would not do that again if I were you." Slade hissed, throwing him to the ground. "One hour." He exited the room and the door closed behind him, his echoing footsteps telling them Slade had walked away. Robin picked himself up off the floor. Without looking at any of them, he walked to the wall across from the Titans and slid down to the floor, one knee bending near his chest, the other straight out in front of him.
"Robin, you are alright?" Starfire asked, coming to kneel beside the bars that separated them.
"I'm fine Star… this is just not…" he rubbed his temples with the hand on his forehead, then quieter, he said, "not my day. Are you guys ok?"
"We're fine," Raven said. "Considering the conditions."
"Hey, what did he mean by one hour?" Beast Boy asked.
"I have to meet him in one hour… I don't know what for." Robin growled. He stood up and walked to where the bars were, carefully running his hands all the way up and down each one. When he came to one dead in the center, he lifted it up, and out of its socket in the ground, giving about a foot of space between the two next to the now empty space. He leaned it against the nearest wall, and then began running his hands up and down the walls as well, here, however, he found nothing.
He sat back down, and they talked. No one had much to say, and soon it was silent. An hour was soon up and the door swished open. Robin turned his head, but did not move to get up.
"Robin." The Titans, seeing the anger rising in Slade's eye, nodded for him to go. He rose. "Come along." Robin haltingly followed Slade out and down the hall. The door closed behind them.
"So where are we going?" Robin asked as they walked. Slade's shadow loomed over him.
"I am going to give you some special… equipment that will help with your training."
"What kind of equipment?" Robin was not going to take any chances.
"You shall soon find out, Robin." They entered a room full of various devices. "This, for example." Slade grabbed one of the smallest on the table, and started toward Robin. Robin took a few steps backward. A deep scowl set on his face.
Robin hit the floor of his cell with a grunt. He landed on his side, glaring all the while at the door. The door closed, and he pushed himself up, rubbing his arm and he went to sit in his place by the wall once more.
"Rob, you ok, man?" Cyborg asked. Robin did not respond. He sat fuming.
"Robin?" asked Raven, repeating her friend. He still did not respond. Cyborg, having only his defense systems shut down, turned his shoulder light on Robin. The dim light around them was replaced with a brilliant light. What they could see of his face had bruises and scratches on it, standing out abruptly against his pale skin. His hair hung in his face, damp with sweat, surprising them with its length.
"Robin, why will you not speak to us?" Starfire wondered aloud. He began to move his hands rapidly, his head still hanging, gazing at the floor.
"Sign Language. He taught it to me." Raven said. Robin continued to move his hands, then stopped.
"Robin, are you serious?" Raven asked. Robin lifted his head to look at them. There was no trace of a joke in his face.
"What did he say?" Beast Boy asked.
"He said… Slade did something… something that made is so he can't speak."
"And the bruises?"
"Take a wild guess."
"Man," Cyborg breathed, "Talk about 'resistance is futile.'"
"Oh…" Robin rose and paced for a few moments, before leaning against the wall. He stood in this position for a few more moments before beginning to shake in rage and slamming his fist into the wall. Just as Raven was about to comment, the doors to their rooms opened. All turned to look. Sladebots stood in the Titans' room, while Slade walked into Robin's. Robin bared his teeth and turned away.
"Oh come now, Robin, it isn't all that bad," Slade said. Robin clenched and unclenched his fists. Slade snapped his fingers and a sladebot walked into Robin's room as well. The sladebots laid trays of food in front of each Titan, including Robin. Slade watched Robin fume. "Come now, let's discuss this. Are you unhappy?" Robin glared at him. "Oh, yes. I had almost forgotten. The silence has been so soothing." Slade reached into his belt and removed a device, pressing a button. Robin's jaw fell open slightly, and he began to speak.
"I don't feel much like talking, to be honest," he growled.
"Then eat," Slade said, shoving Robin to the floor. Robin managed to catch himself as he fell, ending up sitting on the floor, rather than sprawled across it, and reached for the tray. Rather than eating, however, he threw it into the air and watched as it came crashing down to the floor. "You want to be difficult? Fine. Let's make this difficult." Slade said, before pulling his hand back and backhanding him across the face. Damnit, he hated that.
"Robin!" Starfire cried. Beast Boy's ears lowered and Raven and Cyborg looked murderous.
Robin fell slightly off balance, putting a hand on the ground to steady himself.
Slade slowly lowered himself to Robin's level. As Robin opened his mouth to speak, Slade pushed the button on the device again, and Robin's jaw was pulled shut once more. Slade slowly lowered himself to Robin's level.
"Look at me." Robin refused. "Look. at. me." his hand caught Robin's chin and he forced the boy to look him in the eye. "This is not like last time, boy. Last time, I was soft on you. Last time, I hoped that the mere threat of your friends in danger would be enough. Last time, I gave you a chance. This time, Robin, there are no chances. Look at your friends, Robin." He turned the boy's head towards them. "They are here. The danger is very real. I can do whatever I like to them. I know more about them, about you, than you could possibly imagine, boy, and you had better listen to me now, and listen carefully. I will not hesitate, boy. I will beat you. I will break you, and you will be mine until the day you die."
Robin's mind raced. What was he talking about? Hundreds of possibilities danced through his mind, each worse than the one before, when suddenly he felt Slade's grip shift to his bicep and he was hauled to his feet.
"Do you understand, boy? Or do we need a more forceful lesson so soon?" Slade snapped.
"What do you mean, you know about us? Know what?" Cyborg asked, both out of curiosity and in the hopes to distract Slade from Robin. Slade's attention turned to the bionic teen.
Glancing over the Titans, his eye narrowed further. He returned his gaze to Robin, released his arm, and left the room.
Robin stood staring at the door for several moments; his teammates could practically see the gears in his mind turning, but only Raven saw the fear.
The slight tremble of his hands, the cold sweat on his brow. After the horrible incident with the hallucinogen, Robin's obsession with Slade had died down, but his fear of the man had only increased. Through their bond, Raven knew this better than the others, and it made her sick to think that Slade once again had Robin, had all of them, under his control.
Robin finally looked away from the door, and nodded to Cyborg in thanks for distracting Slade. Then he slowly leaned on the wall, and sank to the floor.
A/n: I know, lots of author note! But please drop a review and let me know what you think of the new revamped version of the first chapter!