Disclaimer: Don't own

Summary: See first chapter. There's some moral discussion and a bit of slash this chapter

Chapter 4

Soft movement stopped his thoughts. Richard was awaking, looking at the alarm clock with glowing sticks that read 2:25am, which gave him enough time to get up and shower. Slade smirked. Such a pretty, hygienic bird he was. Even at sixteen, he was becoming more and more tempting, yet he remained sexually inactive, preferring to work the extra energy off with more training. Well, being in Gotham, it made for an easy segue into a conversational topic of heroes. It was time Robin learned some fundamental truths.

Richard awoke to the feeling of being watched; a common occurrence since he got his own trailer. At first, it was a bit strange, but he didn't dare to question his master and, nowadays, he considered it normal. Yawing softly, he looked at the alarm clock to his right. To his relief, he hadn't overslept.

"Master," he half stated, half asked the older man.

"May I?" Slade asked, gesturing to the bed.

Instead of answering, Richard simply scooted over to the right side, giving Slade room on the left. But instead of sitting down, as he expected, he laid down. On the "small for one person"-intended bed, Richard had no choice but to be pressed against him. Shifting to get into a more comfortable position, he cushioned his head on Slade's broad shoulder, awaiting for him to continue. The older man's hand settled lightly on his hip, which should be a warning sign, but Richard believed it was just another quirk of his master; the almost constant touching. Be it during training or a conversation, somehow Slade would always be close and touch him. In a way, it was reassuring. Robin's circus acts were based on the trust that his parents would catch him in the right moment, so having a hand hold him made his body interpret the gesture as safety.

"Do you know what Gotham is famous for?" Slade asked softly.

"Well, the billionaire, Bruce Wayne, and the city's hero Batman, who now has a sidekick Named Hawk," Richard answered, unsure on what the conversation was about. Normally they would talk about some technical development or other plain facts.

"Very good little bird, as always." Richard grinned at the praise. "We first met in Gotham, didn't we?" This was more of a rhetorical question. Robin remained unmoving, so Slade continued. "If you had relied on that hero to save you, your parents would be dead by now."

Robin looked confused. "How do you mean, master?"

"Heroes never truly stop crime. They have to see something to act. Batman would have never been able to save your parents. Do you understand that, apprentice?" Richard closed his eyes for a moment as the words sunk in. His master was always right, wasn't he? If he hadn't made the deal with him, his parents would be dead by now. Wouldn't they? He nodded softly, so Slade continued. "Do you know why you and your family are still safe?(Because you sold yourself for their protection.) The answer is respect born from fear. I am a dangerous man. Humans know better than to anger me, so they respect my word as law. And you, my student, my heir, will one day command even more respect. It is necessary to be feared to keep those precious to you safe." Robin swallowed, his throat suddenly feeling dry. His whole world was like a little protected bubble with the only thing to worry about was getting up on time. This conversation was getting far too serious for his taste. "And why aren't heroes feared? (Because they are heroes, heroes who act more like circus performers with their costumes and making others happy.) Because they aren't willing to kill. The most they do is anger their enemy and provoke them to do desperate acts."

His master couldn't imply what he just said, did he? No, surly not. Richard's sleep deprived brain must be playing tricks on him.

"So one has to kill to keep their loved ones safe?"

If that was what his master meant, then it would be true. For the last eight years, Robin had lived with the serenity that his master was always right. Still, the thought of killing anyone made him nauseous.

"Yes, its how the world works, my little bird. If you don't make yourself as strong and as feared as possible, then everyone will walk all over you and destroy everything you care about." Slade leaned his head towards Richard and let his lips brush tenderly against his forehead. "Sleep a little more, my boy. I will stay with you."

Yawing, Robin nodded off.

Slade allowed himself to enjoy the peaceful moment for a few seconds. He had given Richard a very sheltered life with seeing nothing worse than some minor injuries during training. Getting him to steal would be easy, but killing? On an abstract level, Richard knew that he killed, yet it wasn't the same as seeing the blood spill out of a body. Admittedly, he was afraid his boy would lose the trust in him once he finally realized what kind of man he was. The army had taught him that good men crumbled if they weren't prepared for a tough situation, no matter how noble their motives might be. What he needed to do was to introduce Richard to the dirtier side of the world. And what better place to start than Gotham?

Okay, did I get my point across? Richard is loyal to Slade but isn't a criminal, so Slade has to guide him without Robin losing faith in him