Robin's heart was pounding in his chest. He stared at the man who now owned him. Slade's words were echoing in his mind. Every word the man ever spoke to him always buzzed through his brain.

"For some time now, I have been searching for... an apprentice. Someone to follow in my footsteps. And Robin, I've chosen you. Congratulations."

"I know it seems bad… but trust me, you'll learn to like it…"

Robin felt a shiver run through his body and it shook him to his very core as Slade's one grey eye stared down at him.

"You haven't reached your objective," the older man said coldly.

"I had to leave," Robin said, "If I didn't I'd have been caught."

Robin was staring at the floor, but his eyes snapped upward as he felt strong hands push him harshly against the wall. He unknowingly let out a whimper and could see the mocking look in that one cold eye.

"You're lying," Slade said, "You are unwilling to fight your hardest, and that is why your objective was not met."

Robin again felt shaken to the center of his being. He lowered his gaze slowly.

"I'm sorry…" was all he could think to say.

"I am being lenient with you this one time," Slade whispered dangerously as he leaned in close to Robin's face. Robin tried to back away, pressed flat against the wall. He summoned up his courage and looked Slade in the eye again.

"Why bother being lenient?" he asked, "I won't fight any better the next time."

"Is that so?" Slade asked, "Well, if you can't face the Teen Titans perhaps I should get them out of the way."

Robin's body stiffened.

"No… don't… I'll do what you say…" he said slowly.

"You should be grateful for my lenience," Slade said, cupping Robin's chin with his hand and tilting his head up, "You have a lot to learn, but your first lesson will be gratitude. You have much to be grateful for."

Robin pulled his chin away.

"There's nothing to be grateful for," he growled angrily.

"Nothing, Robin?" Slade grabbed his chin again, "Nothing?"

He leaned in closer, much to close for Robin's liking. The teen was literally trembling now.

"Think of all the things I could have done," Slade whispered, "I could have killed your former friends, but I did not. I could have punished you severely for not meeting your objective, but I have not…"

Slade's fingers ran up over Robin's cheek and brushed over the fabric of his mask. He leaned so close that Robin could feel the breath that came through the grate in the man's mask.

"I could remove this mask…" he whispered and Robin tensed again, pressed flat against the wall, wishing it would swallow him, "But I will not…"

Slade's thumb ran over Robin's cheek. A tear had fallen from the boy wonder's eye and was brushed away.

"Go to bed," the older man ordered, releasing the teen from his grasp. Robin moved away, eager to get away from his "master."