What if someone had become a silent observer from the very beginning?
Secrets (Can't Be Kept Forever)
One day ago, a rooftop somewhere in Gotham-
"Richard John Grayson. Pleasure to finally meet you."
"I wish I could say the same, Wilson."
The older man laughed, although nothing was about their current situation was anywhere near funny. "Y'know, I've been...observing you. For a long while really."
Robin said nothing, and Wilson took the silence as his cue to continue.
"And, I have to say: you confuse me, kid. You really do." He continued, shifting his stance into one that feigned complete and utter nonchalance.
Robin knew better. "Stop."
"Stop? Stop what?" The corners of the face mask moved, and Dick could tell the man in front of him was smirking. "Listen. You've been trained; trained by some damn good people, Richard. But, I think you can be better."
For the first time since the pair's conversation had started, Robin was confused. What does his training have to do with anything? What all does he know? "What do you want, Wilson?" His tone was still dry and flat, which, for some reason, made Slade's smirk grow wider.
"Train with me. Become my apprentice, become my heir. Together, we can-"
Slade's mask shifted again, and this time the boy could tell he was frowning, no, calculating. Figuring out what he could say next that would bug Robin the most. "No? And why not?"
"Don't kill," Not anymore, a familiar voice added silently (and happily) into his head(1). But Dick was sure Wilson didn't need to know that. "and I already have a partner."
"Right. The Big Bad Bat." Slade's hand moved behind his back, and Robin tensed. "Let's see just what he has taught you."
Slade ran at Robin with a nearly inhuman speed, and, had the situation been different (read: if he were at the cave), he would have sighed. Side-stepping the first attack, Robin molded his body into an offensive stance. As Slade rushed past him, he kicked his leg out- aiming for the mercenary's middle back area. Slade moved at the last second, twisting around so fast that he was able to catch Robin's leg mid-air. As soon as his hands were firmly secure on Dick's calf, Slade threw it above his head, and Robin's body followed suit through the air.
Grabbing onto a nearby clothesline on the roof, Robin managed to catch himself and gain enough momentum to swiftly swing back, aiming both of his feet for Slade's head. His soles barely managed to scuff Slade's nose before the mercenary was off again, harshly shoving Dick's feet out of his vision and using a simple dive-and-roll to get out of the way. Once Robin's feet touched the asphalt he was moving, already spinning himself out into a cartwheel to break his fall.
"Come now, Richard," Slade drawled from somewhere behind Robin, "I know you can do better than this. Oh, and honestly? Do you really think that Batman views you as his partner?" There was a brash laugh. "His equal? Child, I know what you've done," His voice was abruptly everywhere and nowhere all at once and Robin had to take a step forward. "and I know what you're capable of. That billionaire didn't rescue you out of the sheer goodness of his heart…"
Suddenly, there was a hard punch to Robin's lower back and he stumbled forwards. Whirling around, he saw Slade smirking. Again.
"He took you in under a watchful eye to make sure you didn't become Gotham's newest Joker."
The passive aura surrounding Robin faltered, and before he so desperately regained his composure the boy allowed a feral snarl to grace his masked face. Wilson was spouting lies. He had to have been. Batman, Bruce...cared for him, he did! Dick wouldn't have stuck around if that wasn't the case. (And he wasn't going to even touch upon the apparent nod to the true identity of the Bat.)
Quickly, Robin sprinted at the mercenary, fist raised and begging to make contact. Just before he got too close, however, Dick flipped himself over Slade- allowing himself to launch a surprise attack from behind. He landed on Slade's shoulders expertly and wrenched his mask off before pushing off with a kick flip to the back of the now unguarded head.
Robin stopped himself from reaching a hand towards his belt. If Slade wasn't going to use any weapons, then neither was he. Wilson was testing him...most likely even going easy on him. Seeing if Robin was worthy of his selected title like the mercenary believed. Fighting dirty was something he liked to stray away from, now that he was on the side of the angels. (Despite the fact that Wilson was playing mind games with him. And that was the one thing he hated in all of existence, trying to gain the upper hand through emotional warfare.)
Stumbling as professionally as he could from the unanticipated attack, Slade brought himself to turn around and smile at the young boy. He definitely has stellar potential, Slade thought while reaching a hand into a pocket, I'll give him that. But he'll need to start playing dirty again if he wants to stay on top, especially with what's about to happen. He nearly grinned with happiness as the plan he'd been delicately weaving since day one came to the front of his mind.
"I'll be seeing you soon, Richard. Enjoy your present."
And in a puff of smoke, Slade Wilson, also known as Deathstroke the Terminator, the mass-murdering-sociopath-mercenary, was gone.
The events you just read happened before chapters 3 and 4. It was essential to read it now, and you'll find out why next chapter. ;)
(1). Yeah, this was a nod to Broken Antler in Winter's Can't Hear Myself Think. Go read it if you haven't already, it's awesome!