Title: Potential

Rating: M (For somewhat graphic sexual content between a very confused fifteen year-old girl/sinister middle-aged man, plus references to violence and manipulation)

Beta: Gladrial and At The Writer's Block

Disclaimer: I own nothing. The owners own. This is for fun, not profit. I've made no money.

Summary: Insecure after an intimate relationship has been established, Terra can't understand what Slade finds attractive about her or what any of it means. So she asks. (Post-"Betrayal" Slade/Terra, Slerra.)

Author's Notes: This isn't the creepiest thing I've ever written, but it's certainly up there on the list. It's a jumble of youth, control, devotion, affection, and confusion. And a boat-load of blurring the line between genuine feelings and coercion. Apologies if it's a bit too awkward or realistic for some, but this ship is a complicated one and I couldn't bring myself to let it be simplified. (Don't read if you find the stuff I wrote up above, to explain the rating, offensive. Seriously.)

Dedicated to the sweetheart Lonnie, my darling boy, and the fantastic Amanda, all of whom suffered through every word as it was typed. I'm so glad to finally get it out of my head! Also to any other Slerra fans out there, desperate for more fanworks and ship love. Go create delicious master/apprentice stuff, guys!

Terra was relieved that the second time hurt less. A lot less, just as he'd said, his breath hot against her neck and her mind muddled because his strong hands were on her naked thighs, inching higher. How could he keep his voice so controlled during, well, that? He didn't say much except little stuff like, "relax", "just like that", and "good girl". It was wrong that she felt a thrill rising up inside of her for that last one, but that was what he'd say when they were training. She would perform a flawless movement or technique, finally, and he would say, "Good girl, Terra. Again!" and she could hear the affection in his voice and it made her want to be perfect, just for him. Just to hear it more.

Slade said her name too, while he was above her, holding himself up with muscled arms and pushing himself into her at just the right angle to make her thrust back, pulling him to her with legs wrapped around his waist. Sometimes he would kiss Terra, closely trimmed goatee tickling her chin, and let her name rumble against her slick skin, while all she could say was "SladeSladeSlade" like a chant. Like a prayer.

But mostly it was quiet. The kind of quiet that is actually noisy, but only if you're paying attention to it. The droning hum of the air conditioning, the soft rustle of the sheets, and Terra's little sighs and squeaks that were occasionally joined by his breathing, heavier than normal. At the end, when Terra's nails were digging into his neck and she was holding on as tightly as she could, Slade was going harder harder harder and her eyes were shut tight, face buried into his scarred shoulder. There was that edge again, the building pressure, and she wondered if it felt the same for him. Slade let out a panting sigh as he slowed to a stop, warmth spreading inside of her. But Terra's sound was a low, loud moan against his chest, one she could never have guessed she would be capable of producing. The strange, wicked, wonderful things he brought out of her...

For a few long moments, they were separate beings again, as the rush of the last hour subsided. Reality set in for Terra once more, strange as it had recently become. She'd done IT. The big S-E-X, with an adult supervillain, twice. She felt small and...empty. Hesitantly, Terra moved her body the few inches over where Slade was on his back, arms behind his head, in silent contemplation. She guessed. It wasn't like she ever knew what he could possibly be thinking. Was this awkward for him too? Biting her lip nervously, the teenager curled up against him, laying her blonde head on his chest and expecting any moment for him to clear his throat and send her off.

But he said nothing, just looked at her with the one blue eye and moved his left arm around her, calloused fingers playing with the long hair that felt plastered to her back. She had no idea that doing that made you so sweaty. Of course, she also had no idea before about half of what the act itself involved. Was she going to feel so sore down there after every time? The mechanics of how they were able to fit together at all was a mystery to her. Not that she was going to ask Slade any of these questions! Oh God, the very thought was mortifying. How could one man make her feel more powerful and in control than ever before, yet so much like a stupid little girl, all at once?

Her mind was swirling with so many jumbled thoughts and feelings, too many, and Terra tried to concentrate on how his hand felt petting her and how nice he smelled. Like soap and the salty musk of training. But, despite her best efforts, she felt the sting of tears gathering on the edges of her vision and furiously tried to clamp down on her emotions. Rule one of her apprenticeship, the first painful lesson, had been not to cry. Work through the pain, continue fighting, grit your teeth and charge. Use the adrenaline and the fury to your advantage, rather than focusing on a wound.

Even after all of that misery and deception, the long months of blood and rage, she was still a weak fool. And the tears couldn't be stopped, so she just let them fall onto his skin, bracing herself for his biting comment about how he thought she was so much more grown-up than that. How maybe she didn't have what it took to be at his side, in battle or in bed. Right that moment it didn't seem to matter, because she was so confused and her insides hurt and she just wanted it over with. Wanted him to say anything at all.

Slade Wilson felt that he was a man who had made many mistakes in his life. Certainly he had also accomplished a good bit, but the tragedies and disappointments always stung more than the victories. As a husband and father he had failed, a bitter truth that still haunted him in the rare moments he let his mind drift. But, as a villain, he had found a comfortable niche where he could utilize his exceptional skills. This was what he was meant to do. Extortion, blackmail, kidnapping, plotting, matching wits with self-righteous heroes who were all too willing to play the game and dance the dance.

Above all else, Slade was practical. He did not believe in cluttering up his life with any unnecessary trappings or activities, as evidenced by his spartan quarters and full training schedule. Nor was he capable of letting a possible opportunity slip through his fingers. Not if it was within such easy reach. Not if it made more sense than any other option. Not if it meant gaining the upper-hand in every battle from that point on.

He would not hesitate to admit that he made...mistakes with Robin. It was a shame, as he had believed the boy to be the most worthy of successors to his own teachings. And fighting him, both mentally and physically, was always a pleasure. But, in the end, they were far too much alike. Not to mention that Robin was quite clearly too deeply ingrained with his Gotham mentor's "Brooding Vigilante" mentality to accept an allegiance with someone of Slade's status. Even, it seemed, under the threat of death. He had respected that, but it had been merely an intriguing, costly experiment in the end.

The little geokinetic, Terra, was a much more suitable candidate. No connections, trust issues, massively destructive powers, and completely off the grid. And she was young, just shy of fifteen, when she wandered into the outskirts of Jump City. Her head was full of idealistic notions of belonging and Slade knew exactly what to do and say. It was such a simple thing to twirl her around his finger and leave her hanging off his every word. To make her bleed and pout and scream, yet keep coming back for more, determined to benefit from his knowledge. Terra wanted control over her powers and, in exchange, Slade wanted them both. He wanted it all.

Seducing her was, at that point, necessary. The teenager, he knew, would respond poorly to threats and after her reveal to the Titans as a spy she was distraught, desperate for something, someone, to lean on. This someone was her master, just as Slade had planned. The girl had ate up his praise and casual touches from the beginning, so it was only a matter of pushing things merely a tiny. Bit. Further.

It was not a habit of his to have a great deal of sex. In fact, it had been a couple of years at least since he had availed himself of a woman's body. But this was merely because of the impracticality involved in such a connection for a man of his present position, rather than any displeasure at the concept. Still, he didn't find it difficult to get lost in the moment, moving above her thin, breakable form as she clung to him. When she would tense, he would press a kiss to her lips or cheek, whispering what he hoped was soothing encouragement.

Enthusiastically, albeit unrefined, she had returned his advances and Slade was privately relieved that she hadn't reacted in the opposite, becoming horrified and striking out with violence. As it was, he had been unsure whether her new found control over her kinetic powers would remain during climax. Thankfully, it had lasted for all three of the orgasms he'd given her during the time in his bedroom. Though there was a split-second tremor during the first, possibly because she hadn't known what to expect. He really couldn't blame her.

Above all, his goal of the night had been met: He had made Terra want to have an intimate encounter with him. As crude as the main idea was, Slade did not feel it was such a terrible thing to have done. It was not as if he held no affection for her, in fact he had a great deal, and the girl would have lost her virginity at some point, if not to the green shape-shifter then to a streetwise lothario with no regard for her safety.

They now held an even deeper connection than merely master and pupil. Something private and primal that could not be casually disregarded in her young mind and he was eager to test the boundaries of it. Mold her into a fine warrior, ready to do his bidding and worship his teachings.

When Terra cautiously curled up beside him, Slade didn't think of it as something undesirable. On the contrary, it was an excellent sign that he was succeeding in his emotional capture of the girl; denying her physical comfort at such a vulnerable time would be incredibly counter-productive. However, she almost immediately began to cry and this was not so much in line with his desired outcome. At first he assumed it had to do with the vigorous intercourse they had just engaged in. Terra was extremely petite in comparison to his own hulking frame and, though he had attempted to ease the pain through digital manipulation beforehand, there was still a certain amount of discomfort for her.

Concerned at the appearance of tears, he asked, "Does it still hurt, Terra?" She didn't respond. He brushed her hair back from her face and added, "It will stop soon."

"It's not just that. I...I- I don't understand," she finally choked out, cheek still resting on his skin, crying in earnest now and not bothering to be quiet about it. "I don't get why you did that with me. What does it mean, because," she sniffed pitifully before continuing, "it was weird and you're not being weird about it! How can you not be?"

"Terra," he said softly, though she buried her face further into his chest. He repeated himself more firmly. "Terra, look at me." She sat up to face him, running the back of her hand along her wet eyes and nose. Still such a child. "I don't feel it's at all strange for us to share this increased intimacy," Slade stated in a gentle voice, sitting up and placing a hand on her cheek. "It's about trust. And clearly trust is not something I throw around carelessly."

"But...I mean, I'm not smart and- and my chest is flat and I'm not pretty and I don't know what to do..." She trailed off as he pressed his lips to her forehead. They sat like that for a moment, until he moved the hand on her cheek to tilt her chin up.

"You are quite exceptional," Slade began, gazing down at her with sincerity that he didn't have to falsify. "Though you are not book-smart, you are clever and willing to absorb the information or skills needed to excel. Do you know how rare that is, my dear?" She shook her head and he placed a small kiss to her lips. "I could not ask for a better student," he said, pleased by her watery smile and embarrassed flush. He graced her with a small smile of his own. "Come here, child."

Settling back against the pillows, Slade saw her gaze flick to his naked lap with a brief look of apprehension and the familiar lip bite. "Um, I don't think I can do it again yet-" He interrupted her with a genuine chuckle, shaking his head.

"No," he said. "No, dear, just come sit with me." Skinny legs, still holding a lingering tan, on either side of his thighs as she straddled him, making herself comfortable. Understandably, she seemed nervous about behaving so casually while with him, completely bare, but it was important to get his apprentice used to scenes such as this. The happy afterglow of lovers.

One day soon she would kill in his name.

"Is, um, is this okay...?" She asked tentatively, peeking at him from underneath her fallen bangs. "I can move if I'm too heavy."

"You weigh nothing," he replied dryly. "I'd be shocked if you suddenly topped eighty-five." This earned him a giggle and he moved the blonde strands from her face, dragging his thumb idly across the corner of her lips. "I'm going to tell you something else, Terra, and you are under no circumstances allowed to argue the point. Understand?"

"Yes, sir." Oh, he did love to hear that come from her mouth so automatically. She was also trying desperately not to look worried. Cute.

Making certain that he had her full attention, his hands moving to her bony hips, Slade told her, "You are a lovely young woman, still growing into your body. Though at times you are ungraceful and impulsive, this does not remove from your unique charm. Only enhances it." Terra was blushing quite a bit for what had been some very simple statements, but then again he knew there was no challenge to this. He had her heart now.

His thumbs were making easy circles on her abdomen; the tips of his fingers almost meeting at her lower back, resting just above her bottom. Terra's eyes were slightly unfocused. "But your true beauty lies within that tiny frame. The power you possess, commanding the earth and bending it to your will. Whether with ease or with strain, you glow radiantly as you perform, and you have no idea how absolutely stunning it is."

Exhaling a breath she had evidently been holding in, Terra mused in a flat tone, "Geez, you make it sound so...important and romantic. I always just called it 'making dirt move'."

Softly, Slade smiled. "As for your worries about breasts, would you like to know a secret?" She nodded eagerly and he lowered his voice, as if relating a piece of exciting gossip. "They are nothing but a liability and hindrance in combat."


"Oh yes. Warrior women have used linen and bandages to bind their breasts throughout history, you know." Of course, he was leaving out that mostly this was done in order for the women to pass as males or period fashion trends, but it didn't really matter. As long as she felt better about the situation. "Besides," Slade continued, sliding his hands up from her waist to cup the small, rosy-tipped mounds of pale flesh, "They're rather perky."

"Perky's good?" His little geokinetic asked, valiantly trying to hide a yawn beneath the question. Which meant that Slade was at another crossroads. He could be gallant and allow her to sleep with him or he could suggest she go to her room and get some shuteye. Either way, it was setting a precedent for all future encounters. By allowing her to begin sleeping with him, he would be sacrificing a significant amount of privacy, something he valued above nearly all things. It would have to be stressed to her that they still had very separate rooms and that she was by no means going to be waking up with him beside her. This was troublesome.

...However, sending her away would just end with Terra sobbing in her bed. Becoming resentful and feeling inadequate. His best option, as unappealing as it may be, was clear. "Perky is wonderful," Slade responded smoothly, reaching for the sheet that had been so perfectly tucked in before their carnal activities. He intended this to be a cue for the teenager to move off of him, but instead she was staring at him in a dazed manner. Little fingers making an idle, repetitive movement on his abdomen. Catching him watching, her blue eyes darted down to some vague portion of his chest. "Are you okay, child?"

It took her a moment to answer. "Yeah. It...it doesn't hurt so much anymore. I was just thinking about that."

Her master had accepted the reply she had given, but didn't ask for anything else. It seemed like he could read her face most of the time anyway. All he said was "good" and when he gave her another smile, she thought she might completely melt into a puddle. It was still...kinda crazy, but maybe it would be okay after all. She liked being privy to this secret side of him, the one that gave her smiles and casual kisses and told her she was beautiful. Worthy.

Even if she wasn't entirely comfortable with the whole body parts thing yet. It was hard trying to pretend she wasn't constantly trying NOT to look at his...pieces. Was she supposed to? Was he offended that she wasn't? Sitting there was overwhelming in itself, not to mention his touches that made her want to completely forget the painful twinges and her worries and just open herself up for him again. Urges that were strong and scary and so very too much into the deep end.

He turned out the light and pulled the crisp, white sheet over both of them. Terra wasn't surprised when he told her that he would already be awake and tending to business when she got up in the morning. It made sense that he wouldn't want to be defenseless and unproductive for long. To be honest, before tonight, she hadn't even known for sure that Slade actually slept. A small thrill bubbled up inside of her when she thought of Robin's frequent rage when met with a Robot replica of Slade rather than the real deal. This was the real deal. Flesh and blood, white hair and eyepatch, toned muscles and scars that spoke of previous battles. He was a real guy that laughed, breathed, and sweat.

Yet he was anything but vulnerable. A criminal mastermind, a genius, a skilled warrior. She felt...what was that word? Honored. She felt honored right that moment and it was almost good enough to take the sting and stickiness from her thighs; the uncomfortable and heavy nature of the surrounding events. Almost.

A final kiss pressed to her lips, a soft rustle as he settled down on his back. How could he sleep like that? Terra automatically turned onto her left side, the way she always slept, and shut her eyes. She was trying not to think of the distance that separated them, inches that were both way too close and so oh my God far away all at once. Did he really expect her to sleep when her heart was racing like this and her brain was going eighty miles an hour? But her body was exhausted and eventually she slipped off, the gentle feel of Slade's fingertips playing with the ends of her long hair being the last thing she noticed.

That and the deafening sounds of quiet.