Disclaimer: I don't own the canon characters, of course (useless to have a disclaimer on a fan fiction site, but still) and the title to this story also happens to be the title of the fifth novel in the Young Bond series, by Charlie Higson. I very much enjoy his writing so this is a bit of an tribute to him, but at the same time it fits this story so perfectly. There is no further relationship between his book and this story, though!
A/N: welcome to my new chaptered story! This is actually based on a prompt by Bacontheft
who was reviewer number 3000 for Delightful Drabbles… but I felt this prompt deserved to be chaptered.
This is an very AU story, like Precious Gift was, and in that light, I'd like to ask you to read it as an original story, really, just as I asked of you with Precious Gift. It is set in about the same type of fake historical setting, but that's where the likeness ends. You SHOULD be prepared that that makes the characters OOC, though, as they don't share the same history as the canon ones… there will also be character development (because of reasons… and time passing) so the Slade and Robin you meet in this first chapter might seem different in the last…;)
It's is also a Master/Slave story. The darkness-level, however, is not that 'bad' I'd say ABOUT 2060-ish, maybe, at the most. Or more Black Sheep. You'll be FINE!
So, in short: "warning" for AU, OOC-ness, Master/Slave and maybe some murky parts in the story line. Oh, and of course it's slash.
More notes on this world will follow… and feel free to ask!
By Royal Command
Chapter 1: Don't Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth
The prince and heir to the kingdom of Gotham was reclining in his seat in his own throne room, looking bored. Very few issues came his way, most of it was taken care of in the official throne room by his adoptive father, the King. Robin usually didn't mind, official business was serious and boring anyway.
Ignoring the person standing in front of him talking, the Prince's blue eyes wandered over the walls of the room. After resting briefly on the beautiful tapestries in warm colors, highlighted with gold thread, depicting hunting scenes and old wars. Then his gaze moved on to his own coat of arms and then across to the other wall with the row of high, narrow windows looking out over the city which surrounded the castle on three sides. His eyes lifted slightly to the countryside beyond. On really clear days you could see the snow glistening on the peaks of the northern mountains from this room.
"Your highness, your answer?" the Prince's valet, Alfred Pennyworth, asked him quietly with a small cough. The valet had served the King, Bruce the First, until his advancing age had gotten him demoted to tend to the Prince. The old man didn't mind too much, however, and Robin himself liked him, although he could be quite annoying when it came to things like duties and rules.
The prince's eyes landed on the man in front of him again, who, apparently, had finished talking.
"I will think it over. Come back for your answer tomorrow," Robin said with a dismissive wave. He had no idea what the subject had even been about.
"But, Your Highness-"
"You are dismissed!" The prince's eyes had hardened and gotten colder, and the man took the hint and grudgingly left, although the look on his face was that of a dark scowl.
Robin just snorted quietly at the retreating back.
"Your Highness has already sent him away two times," Alfred told him quietly.
"Yes, My Lord. If I may say so, treating your tasks with this amount of indifference will not gain you any favors with the King."
"Yeah, well, he can take his favors and-"
"Yes, yes, Alfred. I know. It's just so boring. So what's the next point on the agenda, then?"
"A tradesman from the north wants to offer you a gift."
"Oh, well, things just became a lot more interesting," Robin grinned and sat up straighter. "Bring him in."
The man who entered was a wiry, elderly gentleman with a neat moustache, but Robin wasn't watching him for more than a second. On a leash fastened to a simple iron ring collar, the trader led a huge, half naked man, who moved with a confidence the young prince had never seen before. The collared man's muscles gleamed, his skin most likely oiled to get that effect, but he scarcely needed it; Robin hadn't seen perfection like that among any of the country's soldiers or athletes. Not even the King, who was known for his skill in the region's fighting games, had muscles like that. The man's face sported the only blemish; he must have lost an eye at some point as it was covered by a black leather patch. His hair and short, trimmed beard, was stunningly white, and, even though the angled features by no means belonged to a youngster, the prince didn't think that the color came from age and, in fact, was natural. He was a man of the mountains, after all, as was his master, and Robin had heard stories of those people's exotic looks, even though he had rarely met any. The truce between the countries had been tense as many wars between the nations littered the history books. The peace had been kept for almost eighty years now, however, but the countries barely traded with each other, at least caravans seldom came this far south.
"Your Royal Highness, it is a true honor," the tradesman said, bowing. Robin's eyes snapped to him. He probably should pay attention this time.
"Trader," he nodded stiffly. "I wasn't told your name?"
"It's Wintergreen, My Lord, William Wintergreen."
"And what is your business here, Trader Wintergreen?" the prince asked.
"I'm here simply to present you with a gift… and ask you a favor, Your Highness."
"Of course you are. Very few gifts are free, after all," the prince smirked, and, for the briefest of moments, he thought he could see a small grin pass over the slave's face as well. "Very well, let's start with the favor? What is it?"
"I'm the head of a quite large trade caravan. I would like to ask your permission to camp by the river and present our trade to the people of this beautiful city, My Lord. I was told that I need a royal approval for this."
Robin nodded, the man did, although it was usually the King who took care of foreign traders like these.
"I see, well, that is a favor I might be willing to grant you. I warn you, however, if I should hear of any trouble…"
"There will be none, I assure you. I have a list of cities we have visited, please send word to them if you need reassurance of our conduct. I also have recommendation letters from the dukes of Blackgate and Sprang River, both of which we have visited this past two months," the man said, producing a bunch of papers. Robin gestured for his valet to take them but didn't pay them any more mind, he didn't really like these particular dukes, so he almost wished the traders would misbehave so he had an opportunity to ridicule these men.
"What do you trade in?" he asked, mostly feigning interest.
"Metalwork, My Lord. The mountains are famous for it. We carry everything from household items to the finest blades Blüdhaven, and therefore the world, has ever seen. We also sharpen and polish steel and-"
"Very well." Robin raised a hand as he had heard enough. "I might visit you to see these blades you brag about, I have heard about the sword smiths of the north, after all. And about this gift?"
The man gestured to the collared man like Robin hadn't already seen him, and smiled proudly.
"The best slave I could find, My Lord."
"I didn't know the north traded with slaves," Robin said, arching an eyebrow. He smirked to himself when he saw obvious surprise at his knowledge flash over the trader's face. It was just something he had overheard another nobleman say once, but the man didn't need to know that.
"As a rule, no, My Lord, Blüdhaven does not, at least not as much as some other countries," the man nodded. Gotham was not one of them. Slaves were not uncommon, and it wasn't illegal to buy one, or, in fact, sell yourself or your family into slavery. There were even rules and contracts one could make up for a set numbers of years to serve. Many lower servants and workers were slaves, getting paid only in room and board and whatever their masters might bestow upon them. Further south, however, the prince had heard that the slave business were much crueler and widely spread. But that was what could be expected of savages, after all…
"What is he? A body guard?" the prince asked.
"He can most certainly defend his Master and also teach fighting techniques, but he is skilled in more… personal tasks as well..."
Robin's cheeks tinted just a little. "A bedroom slave?"
"Yes, My Lord. And he can give massages as well. In short, he can protect you and pleasure you, as you wish, and he won't disappoint in either area."
"I see." Robin tried to fight his own embarrassment. He had heard of bedroom slaves, although he had never owned one. The King had not forbidden him from it, but did not keep one himself, so the Prince, even at his peak of curiosity about these matters, had never found an opening to peruse the matter. And now that opportunity was standing before him… and there was quite a lot of it. "Does he have a contract?"
"No, he is yours as long you desire, Your Highness, and then you are free to reassign him, sell him or set him free, as it pleases you."
"Very well, I accept your gift," Robin nodded benevolently. "In spite of his defect and age." This seemed to please the trader, who also looked like he was about to laugh for some reason.
"Your Highness, may I remind you that you have an appointment this afternoon?" his valet then told him.
"Ah, yes." The young noble didn't really have an appointment as such, he was just going riding, and now he almost wanted to cancel. However, he couldn't let the trader, or the slave for that sake, know how much this gift thrilled him. "Alfred, would you get Trader Wintergreen the permits he needs? Good." The prince rose from his throne and descended the few steps to inspect his gift closer. The man seemed even bigger from this angle, looming over him. His nakedness was a bit distracting; the young man was used to be surrounded by fully dressed, often extravagantly dressed, people after all. Today he himself was wearing a white shirt with short ruffles at the wrists, and a silk stock tie. Over the shirt he wore a black waistcoat and over that a long red coat, embroidered with a gold trim. It was narrow at the waist and flared out slightly below it, reaching the middle of his thighs. As he had planned to go riding he had chosen one that had a long slit at the back, so it fell on either side of him as he straddled the horse. His off-white breeches, which reached his knees, were tailored to perfection, and fitted snugly around his legs. Knee high silk stockings covered the rest of his feet and he wore flat, black leather shoes adorned with large silver buckles. His boots, which he would change into for the ride, were kept at the stables.
Other men, like the trader and Alfred, were dressed in similar, but much simpler attire, often in coarser materials and duller colors, without much embellishment, so the slave stood out quite badly.
"He can speak, I assume?" Robin asked the trader. "He understands the language?"
"Of course, My Lord, but he would never do so out of turn. He's very well trained."
"Good. I expect nothing but obedience. Slave, what is your name?" the Prince asked, bright blue eyes meeting a single slate grey one.
"Slade, Master," the man answered, his voice so deep that it felt like it made Robin's chest vibrate.
"Slade? I see. Mountain name?"
"Yes, Master," the man answered again. His voice didn't seem hostile at all, which was good, but Robin wasn't sure he liked the hint of amusement in it.
"You are healthy, I assume? Turn around for me. Are your teeth in good condition?" As he had never inspected a slave before, the prince had decided to go about things like he was looking to buy a horse. Without the test ride, of course. The man's hair was short, which was not the style of the time. Robin's own black locks reached a bit below his shoulders and was tied back with a black satin bow at the nape of his neck. After not finding any more faults, he nodded. "Good. Alfred, have servants take him to my rooms, bring him food and water should he ask for it, and prepare a bath for him as well… he passed my inspection, but he could do with a wash."
"You don't want me to remove my loincloth for the inspection as well, Master?" the slave asked, still with that half amused tone in his voice.
"No, why in the world would I be interested in your genitals?" the prince snorted, looking astonished at the very thought. "You will behave yourself. I will be back in two hours."
"Forgive me, My Lord, the slave has a small trunk with a few belongings; a change of clothes and grooming products, which we left outside, could that be picked up as well?"
"Of course," Robin said, already walking towards the doors. "Alfred's your man, he'll make all the arrangements."
"I'll get the documents, if you would please wait here, Sir?" Alfred said and, after a nod, left as well.
"Why wouldn't he be interested in my genitals?" the slave asked as soon as the door closed.
"Slade, you know I'm glad that you are my king, but sometimes I want to slap your head," the so called trader sighed.
"You had the perfect opportunity when they were still in the room," the muscular man smirked. "Well? Why wasn't he even curious?"
"Well…" the wiry man almost squirmed. "You know when we came up with this plan, and I suggested you'd be a bedroom slave, and you refused?"
"Yes, I'm here to take over the country, not getting fucked."
"Exactly, but then I told you about the custom here which says that a male member of a royal, or high ranking, family shouldn't spill his seed inside anyone but his wife, apart from during the act of fellatio, which is completely acceptable. Women are likewise forbidden to let anything inside them below the waist."
"Yes, I know, and I had you double-check so it applied to male concubines as well," the slave grunted.
"Yes, well… I might have forgotten to tell you that you're not to come inside him either. Any such act is deemed too intimate to be acceptable amongst unmarried nobility."
"He wasn't interested in your… in your manhood, simply because you won't be using it around him."
"And all I was thinking about for the last ten minutes was that I'd like to fuck him. Hard. Preferably tied down and gagged."
"I can imagine, Sir."
"Well, did you see his ass peeking out under that riding jacket?"
"What would your late wife, Queen Adeline, say if she heard you now?" the northern King's closest man sighed, shaking his head.
"She would have asked if I'd share him."
"And would you?"
"I loved my wife!" Slade proclaimed. "… I would at least have considered it…"
"Not surprising… Didn't you find the prince a bit… arrogant?"
"Of course, but this is Gotham, after all, the place is crawling with useless, snooty nobility, but that's why it will be easy to take. All we need is more inside information, and being this close to the Prince will get me that. Besides, he's a cute little thing. Will you bet me that I get to fuck him despite those rules?"
"No! Slade, My Lord, please hold to the plan and forget about your balls for once, will you?"
"It's my plan, trust me, I'll stick to it, but it's hardly challenging enough. So no bet, then? Pity. Well, I will have to do it for amusement, then."
"As you wish, Sir, just be careful and don't get too attached to him… you know that he can't be allowed to live, once this is over."
"I won't. He might be cute, but thankfully he's as charming as a small yipping dog. I'll enjoy fucking him and cutting his throat equally, I suspect."
"That would be like you," the other man smirked. "Now, if you should get recognized-"
"Don't be such a mother hen. I always wear my helmet and visor in Blüdhaven, even in court. Very few have seen me without it, and not one of them has been foreigners… No one apart from the closest circle even know my birth name."
"Well, that was handy. I think a slave called 'Deathstroke' would have been suspicious," the other man chuckled.
"Somewhat, yes," Slade smirked.
"I'll have a runner posted right outside the castle at all times if you need to send a message."
"Good. Other than that, I'll contact you when it is time," Slade said and placed a hand on the man's shoulder. "The men are in your hands. Keep them well trained and ready, but don't forget to keep the trade rouse up. If this goes well, Gotham will be ours within three months at the most."
Wintergreen nodded and then the door opened, making the men fall back in their respective roles once more.
Robin loved riding. He had picked one of his newer horses, a palomino colored stallion who was still young enough to have that slightly long-legged, awkward look.
On the back of a horse he could just be… him. And the animal didn't obey him because he was a prince; he'd better know what he was doing or he was going to be thrown face first into the dust. The horse wasn't impressed with titles and power, and, on one level, Robin liked that. He was spoiled, he knew he was, pampered since Bruce had adopted him as a baby, but not, however, spoiled when it came to human contact; just things. Sometimes he bitterly wondered why Bruce had taken him in, because the King paid very little attention to him. Robin's earliest days were actually shrouded in mystery; no one had ever told him anything about how he came to the castle, not even when he had asked Bruce had he gotten any answers except that he was 'found'. Still, everything melted away when he was on horseback.
He left the castle courtyard by the back gate. The city hadn't stretched here, and the land was kept as pasture for sheep and goats, as the ground was quite stony and the grazing too lean for bigger animals. It had served as a place to ride for generations, however, and was crisscrossed with cleared, smooth paths leading all the way up into the slowly rising hills behind the capital city. Robin let the fidgety horse stretch out in a smooth gallop, giving it leeway to set the pace while still being in control.
As the ride came to an end and the castle and city came into view again, however, the troublesome thoughts returned. Robin wanted desperately to please his 'father', so the man would be proud of him, but how, as Bruce never saw him? He was deep into his thoughts, and didn't realize that he was gripping the reins too tightly before the horse suddenly stopped dead and then bolted.
There was nothing the prince could do as he flew off his steed in a wide arch and crashed onto the ground, shoulder first. He lay still for a moment, getting his breath back, but was then able to, while grimacing a bit, climb to his feet on his own. He was bruised, but nothing more. Luckily he hadn't flown head first into a rock. The horse hadn't made a run for it, but it looked quite displeased when Robin walked up and grabbed the reins again.
"I'm sorry, Dax, I forgot myself. I know you have a sensitive mouth," he told the stallion and stroked the horse's muzzle and neck until a huff of warm air told him he was forgiven. For now. Robin grinned as he sat up again. Why couldn't people be like animals? Why couldn't he act like this around the court? But he couldn't. He was a prince. Royalty. And if Bruce had taught him anything, it was to never forget that, never let others get too close, always be on guard. The young prince sighed and motioned for the horse to move, taking it slower now. Apart from the fact that he would have a slave waiting for him, he was in no hurry to go back.
Slade looked around the large, luscious bedroom. As a king he was used to prosperity and luxury, however, so he was hardly impressed. The servants who had prepared his bath for him, in a large copper tub which they had filled surprisingly quickly using an invention they told him the king himself had come up with, had been courteous enough, and Slade had pulled out all his charms. It was not the noblemen that he would need in this quest as much as the servants and fellow slaves. He had taken a bath and redressed in his loincloth, which was clean, after all, as he had only put it on for the first time this morning. He remembered having to wait for Wintergreen to stop laughing at him. He had also studied the bath-invention, which, as far as he had understood it, was made up by several very large metal containers on every floor which the servants kept full of water from the well, and then kept a fire burning under. The fire was not hot enough for the water to boil, apparently that was very bad, Slade had understood, which they had figured out on the experimental stage. Now it seemed to work though, and gave the household hot water in an instant. In the Prince's case, pipes even led directly to the bath from the container, so the servants didn't have to carry it in buckets.
After that discovery, which Slade had every intention on copying in his own castle, he had found himself with nothing to do. He had wandered the prince's private rooms, which consisted of a large and airy reception room, one room that seemed to be designated for councils and other meetings, a study and then the bedroom. The colors were mostly crème and light blues, a change from the dark woods and murky shades he had seen throughout the rest of the castle. The furniture was also less dumpty, and the decorations were not cluttering the space, although those that were there were delicately displayed and seemed to be of the highest quality. All in all, the rooms gave the impression that they belonged to someone young, though they were in no way juvenile, and Slade wondered if this was the prince's own taste or that of a decorator.
He had been provided with a small cot in a corner of the bedroom for now, as the servants seemed to be unsure of where he was supposed to sleep, and he had to stay in the rooms, according to his 'master's' orders. Fortunately he didn't have to wait long. Suddenly the door opened and the prince came in, walking a bit stiffly and his side was covered in dust. He even had a grass straw in his hair.
"Master, did something happen?" Slade found himself forced to ask, making sure there was concern in his voice. He didn't expect the grin he got back. It was short and cut off, like the young man suddenly remembered himself, and it ended with a little sniff.
"The horse threw me, slave. It was my fault."
"I'll draw you a bath, if you wish, My Lord?" the man nodded, somewhat thrown. That smile was something he had never expected from a Gotham nobleman and not the admission of responsibility either. It was told, in his country, that the reason that the wars lasted for so long was that the Gotham royalty simply refused to admit that they had been beaten. In the end there had been a settlement, mostly because the Blüdhaven king at that time, Slade's great grandfather, had been old. His sons had bickered for the crown, and a country couldn't both focus on a war and internal strife at the same time. Now, however, it was time to finish what they had started. For a second, though, the prince had almost looked like he had a heart, and maybe, a brain as well. Ah, well, it might have been a coincidence, or a trick of the light.
At the slave's offer of a bath, Robin looked around at him in surprise.
"You've learned how? Very well then, I do need one." He went to a wall where several tassels hung and pulled one. These summoned different servants, through an intricate system of strings and bells, for whatever he could possibly need, like food, a bath or new wood on the fire for example. He had just called for Alfred, making the bell marked with his name, ring. Most bells, apart from the kitchen's, were located in the servant's hall, where they all were gathered between duties, unless they had free time. There was always a runner, one of the younger lads, present to make sure the message got received, in case the summoned party wasn't nearby.
In this case Alfred must have been in the hall, however, because he appeared at the door before the slave had finished with the bath.
"Your Highness?" he said as he entered. "What happened?" he added when he saw the dirty coat.
"Oh, Dax threw me," the prince shrugged, wincing slightly as he did so, as he was reminded of the pain in his shoulder. There would be a big bruise there by tomorrow. "But no matter, I wanted to talk to you about clothes for the slave. He needs something more appropriate."
"Very good, My Lord, would you like to see him in a tunic, perhaps, with breeches? Or something more… elaborate?"
"If will do for now, but I want to see the tailor tomorrow. He might have some ideas. He's mine, after all, I can't have him look like a farmer, but on the other hand, he's a slave… I'm not sure what the protocol is here…"
"For bedroom slaves? I dare to say they seldom wear much…" the old man said wryly, dropping the honorary titles, as he tended to do in private, to a certain extent, of course. Robin quite liked that, it almost made him relax. Even though Alfred had been the king's valet, he had been the one to oversee the prince's upbringing and education, and of everyone in the castle, Robin knew and trusted him the most.
"Alfred!" he half gasped, half chuckled. "I'm not sure I want people to… know…"
"A bit late for that, I'm afraid," the valet said as he began helping the young man undress. This was usually one of his duties to the prince. Robin had been dressed and undressed by people all his life, either fully or at least partially, and he didn't feel embarrassed. It was just a routine that happened practically every day; men and women of noble birth weren't expected to tend to their clothes and hair by themselves. He glanced into the bathroom, though, and felt a bit self conscious, as the man in there was supposed to… well.. pleasure him. He then shrugged that feeling off and turned his attention back to what Alfred was saying. "The gossip is already running through the castle like wildfire. However, you can dress and treat him as a body guard in public. After all, your eighteenth birthday is coming up, and that might mean that the amount of threats against your person rises."
"Yes, I suppose you're right."
"And about the celebrations…"
"Alfred, that's two months away!"
"Still there is a lot of preparation underway. We'll go through some details tomorrow. Also, you have received some more offers of marriage, some of them might even be worth considering."
"Wonderful, more misleading portraits."
"Your highness," the valet warned him.
"Well, I have actually met the Baroness of Arkham, but they seemed to have forgotten that when they had that picture painted. With much less paint than an accurate portrait would have acquired, I might add," the prince snorted, as Alfred removed the last of his clothes.
Slade, who had overheard the conversation, and actually enjoyed it, had finished the bath and went to the door to let the prince know.
"Master, the bath is… ready." The war-hardened king couldn't quite help losing his train of thought, and thus stumbling somewhat on his words, as he saw the vision in front of him. Milk pale but healthy skin, long limbs which had enough muscle tone to show that the prince didn't spend all his days on his throne, and the hair, now free of its satin bow, cascaded down his shoulders, with a slight curl to it, giving it even more life than the stunning black color. The breeches hadn't lied either; below a trim waist was, may his late wife forgive him, the most perfect bottom he had ever seen. He started to worry that his loincloth might not be able to hide his interest for long. Happily, in a way, the prince took care of his libido by hurting his pride.
"Ah, there you are, slave. Say, what was your name again?"
To Be Continued….
A/N: If you're not fond of certain personality traits when it comes to Slade and Robin, please stick around and have a bit of patience. They might not seem like people you would want to hang around, but trust me in this, okay? ;)
Special thank you to Tinclay who helped me decide on a name for Slade's kingdom: Blüdhaven, and also other places which will be mentioned later.
About the names of the countries, cities, locations, and so on, yes, they are taken from the canon universe, but should be seen more like a wink to the canon-verse than taken seriously at all. It's just a detail which I find 'fun' in a way, because I possess no sense of humor, probably… All the main characters were presented/mentioned in this chapter, so don't expect the Titans to show up; I'm not fond of cramming characters into a story just because they appear in the canon universe, unless they have a clear role to play. That feels forced to me, so you will have to deal with 'back ground OC's" instead. One or two might have some resemblance to real characters, but again, it's only for my own amusement. Actually, this whole story is very much "Wynja enjoys herself" and I HOPE that will mean that it will be a good story. Now, I know not all of you will accept the AU-ness, because that's not your cup of tea, which I respect, but I hope the rest of you will give it a try…
If you are very interested in history, you might have noticed that the fashion is from the 1750-1775 era BUT that doesn't mean everything will be compatible to that era; it's a FAKE historical setting in an alternative universe to ours, after all. Simply put: I make stuff up, and you have no right to yell at me for it… ;)
If you have any questions about this world at all, let me know! If I haven't already written an explanation in a future chapter, I'll include one.
This story will be updated once a week, most likely on Sundays.
EDIT: thank you to Monster of Cookies who helped me edit this chapter!