Hello again. It's been a while. Just a quick note on pairings in this fic before you start reading...
Mainly, this is to answer TheDreamChaser, but I thought others might be wondering about this too.
I'm not too sure about pairings in this fic, to be honest with you. I am a Slade fan, so I am happy when Slade is dominating anyone. I don't care who. I know my main readers are Slade/Robin fans, so I try to keep that in mind when I am writing, but I wouldn't mind sticking a Slade/Raven chapter in here somewhere. I mean, Raven is in a vulnerable position and Slade is a man who loves to dominate...
Well, I don't think I will really be permanently pairing up anyone, but I do see Slade taking some time to enjoy his control over Robin and Raven.
Did that help? Ya, I'm confused too...
Slade leaned back in his chair as he watched the images of Robin flash across his screen. His apprentice was searching every corner of the city with an impatient urgency. He even ran right past a man who was stealing a woman's purse without even a glance in their direction. He was so focused on doing whatever he could to protect Raven, that he didn't even realize how much of himself he was losing along the way.
Slade glanced over in Raven's direction. She was sprawled out on the floor on her back, still unconscious. Her face was cut and bruised and her left cheek was puffy and swollen, no doubt from a cracked bone she received during her merciless beating. There were dark bruises that circled around her wrists and arms where Slade had held her to keep her from escaping his brutality when she had finally given up fighting back and had tried to run away.
One corner of Slade's mouth pulled up into half a smile, hidden under his mask. He enjoyed having a healer in his control. It made training her and Robin so much more enjoyable, knowing that she could repair whatever damage he allowed himself to inflict.
Slade turned his attention back to Robin. He watched the boy jumping across the rooftops, heading towards one of Wayne's buildings that was known to store xenothium. Robin had the determination of a murderer, but Slade knew that he was no killer. Not yet, anyway. Slade's eye narrowed as he studied his apprentice. It would be interesting to see how things were going to play out.
Robin was exhausted, but he forced himself to keep running. He knew Slade possessed an immeasurable amount of patience, but he didn't want to keep the man waiting for longer than he had to.
The glowing white letters of the Wayne Enterprises sign came into view and Robin pushed himself to run faster. He prayed that Red hadn't hit this building yet. Red X was smart and hopefully he was still busy doing reconnaissance and had not already robbed the place blind.
"There he is, Robin," Slade's voice echoed from his earpiece.
A dark figure suddenly swooped down in front of the large letter "W" and landed on the rooftop. A huge grin spread across Robin's face as he leapt from the edge of the adjacent building and flew over the alleyway towards the figure.
Robin's boots hit the concrete roof with a loud thud and he quickly sprung into a full run, closing the short distance between himself and the thief.
Hearing the noise behind him, Red X spun around just in time to dodge Robin's fist coming at his face.
"Hey, what are you doing off your leash?" Red asked as he fluidly dodged two more of Robin's punches.
Robin growled through a murderous glare and struck out at Red furiously, forcing Red to stumble back in an attempt to dodge the attack.
"Whoa, what's up kid?" Red asked with a surprised tone, his eyes wide.
"Slade knows, you idiot! He knows you were searching through his compound and you stole his list of codes!" Robin swung his boot around, hoping to kick Red in the chest.
Red leaned back to avoid the kick. "Uh-oh. That's not good."
"Give me the list back and surrender to me!" Robin shouted angrily with his fists clenched.
"What? Look, kid, I'll give you Slade's list back, if it means I'll be forgiven, but I'm not surrendering to anyone, especially you." Red blocked Robin's punch, giving Robin the opportunity to grasp Red's wrist.
"Break his arm, Robin," Slade ordered. Robin ignored the icy voice.
"You don't steal from Slade and get to just walk away, Red. Now hand over the list and give up peacefully."
"What will happen if I say no? What are you going to do about it, kid?" Red tilted his head and then he kicked Robin's knee out, causing the boy to kneel down, but Robin still held Red's wrist in a tight grip.
"Do it now!" the voice in his ear commanded.
"Red, if you don't surrender, if I fail, then Slade is going to take it out on Raven until I get it right."
"And what does that have to do with me? Slade's your problem, not mine."
"Robin, obey me!"
Robin growled angrily. "You made the mistake of getting on Slade's bad side. You're a threat to him. That suit is a threat to him. He won't stop until that suit has been destroyed."
"I won't let that happen. The only way this suit is coming off, is when it gets peeled away from my cold, dead, body."
"Break it, or I will break Raven!"
Robin's eyes narrowed. "Fine... if you insist," he said in a dark tone, answering both Slade and Red with the statement.
A slight tremor ran down Red's spine at the look on Robin's face. Suddenly Robin yanked Red's wrist out, straightening the joint, and then he twisted Red's arm while slamming it down across his knee.
A sickening crack reverberated from Red's arm as it snapped like a twig across Robin's leg. Red cried out in pain and stumbled backwards, cradling his broken arm. He looked up at Robin with wide, surprised eyes.
Robin stood up straight, his expression dark and threatening. Red X took a few more steps back as Robin slowly moved his hands behind his back.
Suddenly, Robin's hand flicked out toward Red X, throwing a thin round disc at the thief. Red quickly dodged the disc, jumping to the side as the disc whisked past him to crash into the wall of the building behind him with a small, but noisy explosion.
Robin quickly threw out several more discs as Red X rolled and then took off running in a wide circle, barely avoiding the flying bombs. Robin pivoted where he stood and threw the discs at Red as he ran around the roof, causing debris and smoke to spray out around the thief.
"Good, Robin. Attack to kill," Slade's voice made Robin grit his teeth as he threw a bomb out just in front of Red.
The explosive detonated on the ground right under Red's feet and he quickly jumped into the air and flipped over the blast to land on the other side of it. He glanced in Robin's direction and was surprised to see a disc headed right for him.
Red X shouted in pain when the disc hit him in the chest and exploded with enough force to blast him across the roof. He rolled until he came to a stop on his back. His chest was smoking, but the material of the suit was still intact and had protected him from much of the bombs damage.
Robin swiftly walked towards the groaning thief with his fists clenched. He stepped up beside him and knelt down, gathering Red's shirt in his fists, he lifted his head off the ground.
"Why are you so selfish?!" Robin shouted at Red X's white mask. "You have no idea how much suffering you have caused for me and Raven. You owe me that suit! You owe me your life!"
Red coughed and opened his eyes to glare up at Robin. "I'd like to think my life is worth more than that, kid."
Red X suddenly lifted his good arm up behind Robin and slapped a large explosive X onto his back, then he rolled to the side, breaking out of Robin's grip, and sprung to his feet.
"I'm pretty sure mine is bigger than yours," Red teased, referring to the explosive power of his bomb.
Robin turned his head to smile at Red and then he closed his eyes just as the bomb detonated.
The blast flung Robin across the roof, sending him crashing into the large, glowing "W". Sparks flew out around Robin when he hit the glowing letter and then he fell to the ground. The bottom half of the "W" blinked a few times before going dark.
Red X stared at Robin's body with a curious expression. Was the kid suicidal? Red cautiously walked over to where Robin was laying on his back, unmoving, with his eyes closed. Robin's body was smoking and most of his shirt was burnt and shredded. Red raised a questioning eyebrow as he came to stand next to Robin. He nudged Robin's shoulder with his boot.
Robin groaned as his eyes fluttered open. He rolled onto his side and managed to flip onto his stomach. "Slade?" he questioned as he rose up onto his hands and knees. "Slade?" he called out again, a little louder.
"Uh, nooooo..." Red X dragged out the word as he glanced around the rooftop. "It's just you and me, kid."
"Good," Robin groaned as he tossed his charred communicator to the side and pulled the silent ear piece from his ear. "Took you long enough," he coughed, "to fight back."
Red's eyes narrowed. "You'll have to forgive me for not blowing you up sooner. You know, broken arm and all," his tone was sarcastic and dripping with spite.
Red lifted his boot and swung it forward, kicking Robin in the gut. Robin collapsed onto his stomach again, gasping for breath and then he tried to get back up onto his hands and knees.
Red watched Robin struggling to get up when something caught his eye through the smoking shreds of Robin's uniform. He could make out small patches of burnt flesh caused by the explosion, but there were other marks between the fresh wounds. Red peered down at Robin's back and his eyes widened when he realized that there were lines of scars cris-crossed over his pale flesh.
"What the hell happened to your back?" Red X asked in surprise. "Wait, let me guess... You fell down the stairs again."
Robin rose to one knee and then shakily pushed himself up to his feet. He bent over, placing a hand on his knee to brace himself as he coughed.
"I didn't... stop you," Robin panted the words out. "He whipped me, because of you. The scars are a permanent reminder."
Red X raised an eyebrow. "Because I stole a piece of paper with a few codes on it? Slade whipped you for that?"
Robin straightened up as much as possible. "The whipping was the easy part," Robin turned his head away to stare out over the city with a distant expression, "I can take a beating, but... What Slade did..." Robin shook his head and met Red's gaze with an angry glare.
"What did he..." Red whispered in wonder as he thought of all the things Slade might have done to Robin, but then he shook his head, clearing his mind of the images. "Damn. No wonder you want to kill me. Hell, I'd want to kill me too. Or at least break both my arms." Red X took a defensive stance, clenching his good fist in preparation for Robin's attack. "But that doesn't mean I will go down without a fight."
"No," Robin shook his head. "I don't want to kill you, Red," he said as he removed his neck plate and started tearing away the remaining shreds of his shirt.
"You must have hit your head pretty hard. Remember trying to blow me up with all those exploding discs a few minutes ago?"
Robin smirked. "How else was I supposed to take out all those cameras?"
Red raised a questioning eyebrow as he glanced around the rooftop at the surrounding destruction. Robin's bombs had left nothing but smoking remnants of the surveillance cameras wherever they had struck.
"Red, I'm sorry about your arm. I had to make it look good. I had to follow orders."
Red nodded his head in understanding of Robin's tactics, but his eyes remained narrowed with an angry glare.. "All right then, kid. You definitely have my attention. Now that it's just you and me, what is this all about?"
Slade sat in his chair at his table in the control room, thinking about the events that had recently passed. He had been standing in front of his giant screen with his hands clasped behind his back, watching as one camera after another was destroyed until the screen went completely black. All he was left with was the audio feed from Robin's communicator, but after a final loud explosion, that link was also lost.
Slade had moved a hand out in front of him to the large button-filled panel that was his computer's keyboard. He had typed in Robin's coordinates and waited for the nearest satellite to transmit a visual feed to his computer. In moments, the giant screen lit up with a crystal clear image of the rooftop where Robin and Red X had been fighting, but to Slade's surprise, no one was there.
"Clever boy," Slade thought out loud.
He leaned back in his chair and folded his arms across his chest. There was nothing to do now but wait for Robin to return. Slade had already carried Raven back to her room and locked her in. He didn't want there to be anything to distract Robin when he confronted him.
Slade sat, unmoving, waiting with an inhuman patience as if he had all the time in the world.
Eventually, a noise caught Slade's attention. The sound of footsteps echoed down the hall and his eye narrowed. Robin was approaching.
Robin stopped in the hall just around the corner of the doorway to the control room. His hands were shaking and his pulse was racing. He clenched his teeth in frustration, trying to calm down before facing Slade. He ran his hand through his hair nervously and mentally scolded himself for letting the madman get to him like this.
He took in a deep breath and then stepped around the corner, into the room. Immediately his gaze fell on Slade sitting behind his table. His eyes met Slade's glare and his heart sank. Even with the mask on, he looked furious.
Robin swallowed as he approached the table, stopping a short distance away. "Master," he said tentatively. "I brought you Red X." Robin gripped the black uniform that was draped across his bare shoulder and tossed it to the floor in front of him.
Slade tilted his head. His eye searched his shirtless apprentice, roaming over his bare chest, and then it dropped down to the floor where the crumpled black material was piled in a heap.
Slade's eye shifted up to lock with Robin's gaze. "This is his suit, Robin."
"Yes, it is. I brought you the very thing that made Red X, Red X. He no longer exists. Now the person inside the suit has to go back to being ordinary and Red X is no longer a threat to you. No more invisible stealth mode, no more weapons, no more Red X. It's the same as killing him."
"But you didn't kill him and that is precisely what I ordered you to do," Slade rose up from his chair and stepped around the table towards Robin.
Robin fought the urge to back away. He had to stand his ground. "He doesn't have to die."
Slade stepped up to stand before Robin, towering over him. He met Robin's worried gaze with a narrowed eye. "I don't recall giving you the option to decide for yourself, Robin. You were given an order to kill him."
Robin pointed a finger at Slade. "You said you wanted Red X gone. I did what you asked," he pointed at himself. "I got rid of him for you!"
"You disobeyed," Slade tilted his head.
"I followed your rules."
"You changed my rules."
"He doesn't need to die!" Robin glared up at Slade.
"You are just too scared to do it, Robin," Slade bent down to get in the teen's face. "It frightens you, doesn't it?"
"I'm not scared! Killing him is wrong!" Robin shouted at Slade's masked face.
Slade reached a hand out for Robin, gripping him by his throat in a firm but unrestrictive hold. He glared angrily down at his apprentice. "Incompetent child. You are more afraid of taking a life than you are of disobeying me. Admit it."
"No! That has nothing to do with it! I'm not afraid!" Robin struggled in Slade's grip, fighting to pry the man's thick fingers from his throat.
"Clearly you're not nearly as afraid of me as you should be." Slade gathered Robin's wrists in his other hand to keep him still. Fear flashed across Robin's face for a moment and Slade couldn't help the smile that touched his lips. Oh how Robin hated being trapped in his grip, immobilized and powerless.
Slade regained his composure. "What happened out there, boy?" his head tilted with the question. "You broke Red X's arm so easily, why not his neck? Was he too much of a challenge for you? Did you lose your nerve? Or perhaps the thought of another's blood on your hands terrified you."
Robin pulled on his wrists, testing Slade's resolve to keep him restrained. "I could have killed him if I wanted to, but taking his suit worked just as well!" He glared up at the larger male towering over him.
"You agreed to kill Red X with such conviction when I was threatening you with Raven. Must I constantly dangle her safety in front of your face to keep you in line?"
"Leave her out of this!"
"Mmm, but she's the best part of this," Slade grinned behind his mask. "She will eventually drive you to murder, Robin."
Robin growled. "When the time comes to kill for Raven's safety, I will gladly murder for her sake! But not Red X! Not now!" he seethed.
"Gladly?" Slade raised an eyebrow. "I'm pleased that you think so pleasantly of murder, my boy. But honestly, Robin... how would you know what to think of it? You've never tried it."
"I know because I want to kill! It's all I think about! I want blood all over my hands! Just not Red's blood!" Robin shouted, losing his temper.
Slade's eye narrowed, "Then whose?" he asked, already knowing the answer.
Robin locked his murderous glare on the single steel-blue eye glaring down at him. "Yours." he hissed through his clenched teeth.
Slade chuckled, "That's precious, Robin. You want me to be your first. I'm touched."
"Shut up! You'll be the first and only life I take!" Robin pulled back, trying to twist his wrists out of Slade's grip. Hell, he was already in deep shit, why not pile on a little more?
Slade suddenly opened his hands, releasing Robin, causing him to fall backwards to the floor. Slade moved his hands behind his back and stared down at the half naked teen.
Robin cautiously stood up from the floor. He kept his gaze locked on Slade, expecting the punishment of his life at any moment. He was ready for it. He was too angry to care what Slade was going to do to him and he was glad that he said what he did. He meant every word.
Slade stared at him in silence for a moment before he took in a deep breath through his nose and then let the air out in a heavy sigh through the slits in his mask.
"All right, apprentice. Since you seem hell-bent on the idea. I'll make you a deal... I will allow you to freely and openly try to kill me. You may attack me whenever you wish. Someday, if you manage to actually kill me, then you and Raven will be free to go."
"What?" Robin was confused. "Seriously? You're not going to punish me or Raven if I attack you? This isn't some trick?"
"It is as I said. You and Raven will not be punished. I am giving you permission to come at me with everything you have. Revel in your blood lust, Robin. Think of ways to kill me. Look for opportunities. Wait for the right moments. Plan out your attacks. Try to kill me whenever you please without fear of repercussions. I will defend myself, but I will not attack you back."
Robin looked scared. "Training... This is some method of training. You want me to focus on killing. You want me to practice and learn."
Slade shrugged. "Does it really matter? You want me dead and I am offering you the chance. So what if a few of your skills are enhanced along the way."
Robin growled, his glare returning. "Fine!" he snapped. "If it means getting Raven out of here, then I'll play along."
"Speaking of Raven, she is not to help you in any way. You will not tell her about our agreement. She is not to see you make an attempt on my life. If she guesses at what you are up to even one time, then the deal is off. And she will pay for your slip up. Is that understood?"
Robin gave a quick nod of his head. "Yes, I understand."
"Good. Now, head to the training room for your punishment," Robin winced as Slade spoke. "You will run five hundred laps, or until your legs give out, whichever comes first."
Robin groaned. He was already physically exhausted from his fight with Red and now his confrontation with Slade had left him mentally exhausted as well. His shoulders slumped.
"Would you rather I punish Raven instead?" Slade moved his arms to cross them over his chest.
Robin's eyes widened. "No, please, you know I would choose to take her place no matter how severe the penalty. I didn't mean to seem disappointed." Was Slade really only going to make him run? Was that the worst of this? Robin was more than happy with that punishment.
Slade's eye narrowed. "Do you think I'm being too lenient?"
"I... Well... You..." Robin stammered, trying to think of how to answer Slade without provoking him. He certainly didn't want Slade to come up with something worse. "It's just that... I was expecting you to be more angry with me for not killing Red."
"Red X is of no concern to me." Slade smirked at the look of confusion Robin gave him. "Are you surprised? You honestly didn't believe that Red X was actually a threat to me, did you?" Slade shook his head. "You children and your egos."
"Why threaten me? Why order me to kill him? Why the hell did you make me go through all of this if you didn't even care about Red X in the first place? Is everything a game to you?"
"Everything is a lesson, Robin. A test. Even though you bent my rules, you still passed. It was a good idea, taking X's suit to get rid of him. Sometimes crippling the enemy is more rewarding than eliminating them. You came up with the plan under a tremendous amount of pressure, you calculated Red X's every move, you manipulated his actions to benefit you, and you finally came to terms with the murderous rage that has been building inside of you. I couldn't have been more pleased with the end results than if you had actually brought me Red X's dead body."
Robin frowned and dropped his eyes to the floor. He clenched his teeth together to keep from saying anything that might get him into more trouble.
"Have you nothing to say to that?" Slade provoked.
"No. I think I've said enough already. I'd like to go run now before I do something to piss you off. If that's all right with you, Master."
"Hm, you can be taught." Slade gave a small nod of approval. "You may go."
Robin turned away from Slade and walked toward the doorway. He could almost feel Slade's gaze boring into his back. He couldn't wait to be free of the man's presence. A few more controlled steps and he would be passing through the doorway.
"Oh Robin, there is one more thing," Slade's voice called out to him and he froze where he stood.
"Yes?" Robin questioned, turning his head to glance at Slade over his shoulder.
"Tell me, boy, how did you manage to get Red X's suit from him?"
Robin swallowed. "It was easy. He didn't put up much of a fight after I broke his arm. I had the advantage. I just held him down and stripped him."
"Interesting... And what did he look like?"
"Um," Robin turned to the side to better face Slade. "He was older than me, maybe twenty-one. He had short hair, spiky like mine, but red. And green eyes."
"Is that so?" Slade's eye narrowed. "You may go."
Robin's heart leapt into his throat. He turned away from Slade once again and stepped toward the doorway. Robin turned the corner into the hallway and released the breath he was holding. He hurried down the hall, anxious to put some distance between him and Slade.
Did Slade know what really happened? Did he suspect that Robin was up to something? Could he tell that Robin was lying? This was Slade he was dealing with, after all.
"Shit," Robin whispered to himself. "Of course he knows."
Next chapter: What exactly happened between Robin and Red X? And what exactly does Slade know? Find out in the next chapter...
Woo, I am so excited I finally got this chapter up. The next couple chapters are almost done, so hopefully they won't take me as long to post. Be patient with me. I've got a lot of shit on my plate right now.
Please leave a review or a comment. I'm sorry I don't always reply, but your reviews help keep me motivated. I read them and appreciate them all. Also, let me know if anything sounds weird, or needs fixing.
Thanks for reading.