School for Fools
Disclaimer: I do not own anything in relation to the Teen Titans.
Musical Inspiration: Liebestoter – Megahertz /It's Been Awhile – Staind/ All I Need – Within Temptation (I love this song, so sue me!)
A/n: So, I finally got inspired to write this properly. I had a few prototypes running but I didn't like how they went. But after finishing off two books (of which are NOT for school) and starting a new TV series, I feel refreshed with ideas and decided to revamp what I had. One of the books I recently finished is called The Genesis Secret and Tom Knox, the author, uses A LOT of exclamation marks, so you might see some in this. I usually hate using them, I find the exclamation marks useless unless the character in question really is screaming, but after reading that book, I've started using them again. Silly me. But yes, I hope you enjoy this chapter! I know some of you are mad at me because of the way it was going, forgive me, but I hope this makes it better. . . Kind of? ENJOY. Xo.
Chapter 11 – Cryptic
And there he was, all of a sudden. Standing right before Robin, a heavy weight appearing to lie on his shoulders. Robin couldn't even bring himself to fear the sight of the man. It had come to him, in the dream. It may be screwed up as ever, but he knew; he loved this man, no matter how much he was attempting to hurt him. And he thought, too, that somewhere deep down, the man did love him in return. He just didn't see it for himself yet. Slade was obsessed with getting what he wanted; fortune, wealth, fame. And he would do anything, even exploiting someone, to get what he wanted.
"You're father won't pay."
The sure lack of rest and sustenance must have been taking a toll on poor Robin's mind. Surly Slade hadn't said those words. Please, God, he didn't say those words.
Slade shifted his shoulders. The glint of the knife in his hand was dull and brassy, just as the blade was. A devilish thing that seemed to inflict as much torture just looking at it, as it would when sunk deep into someone's flesh.
"I am so very disappointed Robin. I thought you were his favourite?"
"What are you going to do with me then?"
"Well, I suppose we'll come to see if your savours are going to show up. Oh, don't look at me like that little Robin. I know they contacted you. You seriously don't think that they could sneak themselves in my establishment and just take you without my noticing?"
"I don't know what you're talking about." In truth, Robin's memory was fading a bit from his grasp; it must have been the sure lack of everything that he was starting to lose his mind. But the voice was real; the voice that echoed across the room, waking him from his dream of reality, talking of his freedom. And the voice had been so familiar.
Slade laughed out loud, a very mad thing, throwing his arms up into the air as If he was in triumph. His hair rolled up around him, twisting as he spun and then he looked at him from over his shoulder, glaring at him with that eye. "They are coming for you. Just as I knew they would. This was never about your father, boy."
"You're insane, you're insane!" Robin was screaming now. "I don't understand you, what the fuck is the matter with you! I thought you loved –"
"SHUT UP!" The knife was pointed towards him, the man's eyes white with rage and hysterics. "If you don't shut up, I swear—"
"You do." A weight felt like it was lifted off his shoulders as he said the words. "You do love me."
"I told you to shut the fuck up."
"But you're scared. You don't want to admit it, do you?" It was Robin's turn to feel victorious. "You won't ever admit that you feel for the target."
Slade went silent, the knife still gleaming in his direction. Their eyes locked and a defying silence fell between them. He knew he was right. The lock between them was undeniable. They both felt it, how couldn't they? Everything had happened so fast but it was that first look they had seen of one another that set everything in motion. They were in love with one another, but the ties that separated them were all too great. It was no longer about a teacher and a student. It was now captive and captor, life and death, cat and mouse, seen and unseen.
"What about Terra?"
"What happened with Terra?"
Slade seemed to hesitate telling Robin the truth for a moment. "She was a target."
"Did you fall for her too?"
"No!" his voice came unexpectedly loud, as if he wasn't ready for it either. "No, she was just a target. But she fell for me. She's dead."
The stare down re-commenced and the two observed each other with similar pain. An unspeakable hurt flashed behind Slade's eye. He didn't want to do this. Why was he putting himself through these lies, this torture?
As if hearing Robin's thoughts he spoke. "It wasn't ever about your father. The Bat Man. It was always about you. It was always about you and the Teen Titans."
"You said that in my dream."
"It wasn't a dream."
"The . . . who?"
Slade stepped forward, the knife glittering in the dense light like a moonstone alive with power. His eye seeping that same strange brightness. "Don't do this again. Don't make me hurt you. I don't want to hurt you Robin."
"Why not? Why won't you just do it?"
"Because I –"
The doors in the background had flung off their hinges with a chime of bells and a blazing green blast. And in flew Star. Flew. Robin's jaw hit the ground as he saw the girl who had whispered the unmistakable truth about this man flew around the room like something from a science fiction movie. Her long red hair was out of its high pony-tail and fluttered around her. It was absurd to see her flying above him dressed in her cheerleader outfit. As she came barrelling into the room her outfit seemed to melt away and in its place was a shiny purple outfit and her eyes began to glow. Green. She made a loud noise of frustration and pushed Slade to the side, knocking him over and over.
"Robin, you are undamaged?"
"Star? What are you-?"
She gasped loudly as Slade came running back up, his eye patch askew, slicing out with the knife at his opponent. And just as the blade threatened to sink into her flesh did a black giant claw come out of the wall, grabbing Slade in its talon's and tossing him aside. Robin watched as Slade was thrown across the room like a ragdoll, and then turned his attention back to the wall where a black portal was opening up and from within it came Raven, dressed in a navy cloak, her eyes ablaze with white and black fire as she controlled the force of which threw Slade.
Star went behind Robin and with a great pull, obliterated his binds and half the chair with it.
"What the . . . Star?"
"Oh, Robin! I am so thrilled that you are not hurt!"
Puzzlement stood out strong on Robin's face as the tall girl took him into a hug.
"I don't understand."
"Its okay, Robin." It was Raven coming up behind him, putting a hand on his shoulder. "We're going to get you out of here."
"YO! I get the whole reunion thing, but we still got a madman on the loose!"
Cyborg stood where the melted door once hung, but he looked different. He looked, well, like a cyborg. Nearly all of him was made of shiny blue bits and his one arm had become a robotic looking cannon, hissing with energy.
"What . . ."
"Robin, do not fear, for all will make the sense to you soon."
"Star, why are you talking like that?"
Slade was getting up, but he was no longer dressed in black with a long stream of white hair, but in a garb made of what looked like complete metal. "Ah, the Teen Titans. At last, you have joined us." He smiled as he clicked something onto his face. A mask made of black and orange metal, with a piercing white eye glowing in Robin's direction. All emotion had left his voice and what remained was bitter, sour loathing. This couldn't be the same man. As he slowly began to walk over to Robin, a green lion sprung up from the darkness, once again knocking Slade aside. The lion swiftly turned back into a very green looking "Beast?"
He turned around, rolled his eyes and finished with ". . . Boy."
"I don't understand, what's going on! Why are you all so different?"
"Robin." Star's voice was calm, not a trace of her bitchy, whinny attitude was left. There was pure empathy in her voice.
"Slade abducted you two months ago and has you plugged into some alternate reality," Cyborg explain.
"No, this is reality!"
"No, it isn't," Raven said. "You're living in a fantasy world, something Slade dreamed up for you. None of this real, not even you are real. We were able to enter this world only through the look-a-likes Slade made of us. It's harder than it sounds."
"This can't be happening. We all go to Titans!"
"Titans?" Beast said, "How lame!"
"I don't understand this, any of this!"
"You don't have to." Cyborg said, holding out his hand. He was holding a mask. There was something incredibly familiar about it.
"We can't say much more, but we're going to unplug you –"
"No! You can't." It was Slade's voice as he rose from the rubble.
"You aren't real, Slade. This can be terminated." Raven's voice hissed through the air as her eyes and hands began to glow with dark energy.
"You can't . . . you can't take him from me." His voice began to crackle, like a line under stress, like a connection beginning to die.
"We can, and we will. Titans, go!" Cyborg shouted, and they took off, flying towards Slade all at once, powers drawn, fangs bared. And then . . .
Everything went white. Robin opened his eyes and blinked a few times to make sure he just wasn't shell shocked. But the world around him went white. The basement, the dripping pipes, the oversized rats, his . . . friends, they were all gone. Just him and the whiteness.
He spun around and Slade, the new Slade he should say, was standing behind him. His metal shone with confidence as he stood with his arms wrapped behind his back with the utmost formality. He suddenly fizzled out and came back in, as if he was a hologram. He changed, from the man in metal to the man Robin knew. A caring in his good eye, his hair shimmering down by his face.
"Are you going to kill me?"
Slade laughed, a new laugh, as his image fizzled back to the man in metal. It was soft, and . . . warm? "No, Robin. I'm not going to kill you. I never was."
"Then what was all this? A computer file? A hidden fortress in the back of some reality? Why am I here? Why can't I remember anything?"
"Because I didn't want you to."
"What do you mean? And nothing cryptic anymore, I'm sick of this bullshit."
"I didn't want you knowing me as you knew me. Because there is something . . . harboured within me, Robin, something deep that I could never figure out. So I created this world, for the two of us. The white you see now, it's nothing but an illusion. The people you met, not real either. You remember the dust I implanted on my artifacts that you had in the basement of Titans Tower? The stuff that made you think you were fighting me but in actuality, you weren't?"
Robin thought back as the man's image crackled before him again. Vaguely he could remember fighting a shadow and torturing himself in the process. "Yes."
"It's similar to that. You know I have the technology, I can command the world with a snap of my fingers if I wanted to."
"But why me, why here, why?"
"Because I love you, Robin."
Happiness, fright and unexpected glory were erupting inside of him all at once.
"They're, the Teen Titans, your team mates, they are trying to unplug you from the system, so to speak. I just wanted you to know."
"But we can be together now, we both feel the same!"
"I'm sure you won't feel the same once you wake up from this dream. But I will always continue to love you, little leader."
"But, Slade –"
The man fizzled out for a moment, and then came back into focused, but the image was split between the man he fell in love with and the man in metal, like a carnival mirror, the image was spiced. "Robin. I know that you belong to your team. I just hope that the next time we meet, you remember some trace of what we had in this fucked up reality I made here, before everything went to shit." He smiled. "Goodbye, Robin." And the image fizzled out completely, followed by the world around him, dropping from under his feet.
He suddenly felt life and memories in his body and he sat up, trying to drawn in as much breath as he could. He was in the hospital wing of the Titans Tower, his team mates around him in worried anticipation, but as he sat up the tension dropped from their shoulders.
A celebratory sigh and on slew of words greeted him as he fully regained himself. A soft smile caressing his lips as he hugged Starfire back. He was glad to remember, to be free of the mental excursion he had been put through for . . . 2 months, had Cyborg said? It felt like eons. And where had he been held? How did he get back here? But he didn't even have time to open his mouth as his team chattered excitedly around him and asking him questions.
They spent the next few days force feeding him and inquiring him about his "adventures in wonderland". Robin explained the whole 'dream', as he begun to call it. He discussed everything in full detail (well, aside from his sexual escapades with Slade) with the other four and they were all emotions to hear about their counterparts within the dream. Starfire was particularly distraught about her role as the bitch, and stated that she would never act like that in the real world, and that she was not her sister. Beast Boy was particularly fond to hear of his 'badass' self in this dream world. He must have asked Robin at least 20 times about whether or not he owned a moped.
And when they finally backed off and gave him some breathing room, Robin wished they hadn't. Now he sat and thought about his time with the man. With Slade. He had almost begun to doubt his infatuation with the man, as he had regained all memory of what he had done in the past. Had it just simply been a will of Slade's to have him bend to his own desires? Or had he really been falling for the man? As much as he wanted to hate him, like enemy he was, he began tracking back to every encounter he had had with Slade. How he was now noticing particular things that could explain, not just Slade's but also his own obsessive driven actions. Slade had made him his apprentice, yes, but Robin had also become Red X to get closer to the man. Had there truly been something deeper, rawer between the two of them, even long before this happened?
He'd like to think so.
20 Years Later
"Are you sure you have to go?"
He laughed. The man, who should have long been old, hadn't aged a day. Perhaps he truly was Dorian Grey and had his mortality painted away on an oil canvas. "I'm sure. This city needs me."
The man pulled him back onto the bed. The contrast between his long white hair and his own long black hair was starting but pleasantly mixed, as it had for so long. "Slade," he laughed, "Slade, stop I have to go."
"Not before you kiss me goodbye."
Nightwing smiled and turned around, kissing the man smartly on the lips. It felt good to kiss him softly like this, not that he didn't enjoy kissing Slade to begin with, but sometimes it just felt right to kiss him gently.
"Okay, now I really have to go." He got up quickly, scrambling away before Slade could pull him back. The man groaned in frustration as he watched Nightwing dress, slipping on the body tight uniform then putting on the bird-like mask. He twilled around, a manly twirl, of course, and stuck a pose. "How do you like it?"
Slade observed him for a moment then grinned cheekily. "I'd like it better if it was on the floor."
"Well, maybe later tonight it will be." The both laughed together at Nightwing's horrible attempt to fake sexy. He was good at being real sexy but when it came to fake sexy, he failed miserably.
"And how will you be exiting tonight? Something dramatic, I hope."
"I was thinking window. I have some new gliding technology I was hoping to test out." The words then got caught up in his throat as he watched Slade climb out the bed. His body was still as defined as ever, he really hadn't changed at all since when Nightwing had first seen his form. But that was so long ago, maybe the man had changed and he just didn't notice. He walked slowly up to Nightwing, and then drew him in close by his hips, planting a breath-taking kiss on his lips.
It had been these times that had shown Nightwing that he and Slade did share something deeper, rawer then just the initial fire that burned for the other. And as he broke from the man, saying his goodbye for now, and took off out the window, running amongst the rooftops, his thoughts lingered with the insane man who had shown him just what it was to be loved, no matter the obstacles that stood in the way.
It was, remarkably, the one thing he learned from that school for fools.
A/n: I did it again! Argh, but I like to end things this way. (I ended Fluke this way too..) Ah well, what can I say? I like a good solid ending. And I hope you liked it too! What a rollercoaster ride, eh? Jeez! I really am terrible, I do so apologize. But let me know what you think, I'd love to hear from you and I have another Idea for a Sladin in the works, but I'm not sure if I'll make it a One Shot or Chapter format, what do you guys think? But thank you for sticking with the story and I hope you all loved it, let me know let me know let me know! Jeez I sound like a broken record don't I? I LOVE YOU ALL. THANK YOU FOR ALL THE CRITEQUES AND THE ADVICE AND THE ALWAYS POSITIVE FEEDBACK! Ta Ta For NOWWW. Xo.