Jason knew how to take care of himself.
In theory at least.
In practise he was one meal away from disaster, because there were so many things more important than his own body.
He could survive on microwave meals and protein bars and that was enough. If it were possible to inject the necessary nutrients directly into his bloodstream he would have done it. Food was something to be forced down while he was stitching up his wounds or checking camera feeds. He didn’t even taste it any more. Clothes were worn until they were destroyed and selected for how easy they were to cut away from a wound. He didn’t own a washing machine; it was easier to discard the damaged and dirtied clothing and buy new ones. He didn’t bother with pyjamas, he slept in what he was wearing on the days when he didn’t sleep naked.
He was, In Slade’s opinion, a hot mess and a stubborn one at that.
Slade had once suggested Jason try and take better care of himself and spent that night sleeping alone. He’d had to remind himself that there were plenty of prostitutes who would be happy for his company that night, and none of them were as troublesome as Jason Todd. For someone whose self-neglect bordered abuse Jason didn’t like the suggestion he wasn’t capable of anything. He was at the same time fiercely independent and utterly incapable of looking after himself.
Damn, if it wasn’t cute though.
If the focus had been on something trivial Slade wouldn’t have put up with it, no matter how hot the boy looked wrapped around his cock. He wasn’t usually one for high maintenance relationships, but there was something about Jason that was powerfully attractive.
He admits he was curious to start with. When a boy he thought was dead showed up at one of his safehouses with a hunted look in his eye and a cool million in cash stuffed in a duffel bag and asked Slade to teach him how to kill, he’d gone along with it out of curiosity. He wondered what play the Bat was making, which allies of his Batman wanted dirt on, or if he was after Deathstroke himself. He’d set a little test, just to see what ‘Jason’ was playing at and the boy had shown him he was ready to kill. Slade saw the steel sparking in his eyes as soon as he put the gun in his hand. He took to killing like a duck to water and damn, it was beautiful to watch.
Jason was starting from the flawed basis of the vigilante, in some ways worse than no training at all, and driving himself to be better. Watching him step into the darkness feels like he’s watching a baby bird learning how to fly. It’s the way he was always supposed to be, and Slade feels privileged he gets to see him take his first faltering steps on the proper path. It sparks a desire in him to protect the boy and watch him grow to his fullest potential. There was brutality in him, and anger, but also a fierce intelligence that went beyond animal cunning. Once he learned how to temper his anger, how to best direct his fury…Slade doesn’t know how high he’ll rise. He wants to see it happen.
How could Slade see the blood splatter on his cheek and not want to wipe it off with his thumb? How could Slade see him panting with exhaustion after beating someone to death and not want to wrap him in his arms? How could Slade see him look up from the corpse, flushed with adrenaline and begging for approval, and not want to claim him and keep him forever?
The first time the boy had grabbed him with his pupils dilated from the rush of the kill and a desperate hunger in his eyes he’d matched that hunger. Jason had fallen into his arms and Slade had calmed him down with teeth and tongue, working out the left-over tension from the hunt. He’d taken the boy right then and there, against the rough concrete of the parking garage with the blood pooling on the ground beside them. He’d destroyed the evidence afterwards, it was the last time Jason was so desperate as to be unable to wait until they were away from the crime scene.
After that the broken bird slipped into his bed more days then not. Especially on days when they killed Jason couldn’t keep his hands off the mercenary, like he had to feel living skin under his fingers to erase the memory of spilled blood. It was something desperate and red and raw, the kind of attraction called magnetic and Slade couldn’t deny him any more than iron could deny a magnet.
He could taste the pain, the hunger behind every kiss. Jason needed his body to be reminded it was still alive.
Revenge has consumed him. Little things like what he was eating and what clothes he wore fell by the wayside. He’s becoming as focused on his mission as the Bat was, though Slade would never tell him that.
They had an agreement. Slade knew Jason couldn’t put him over revenge, the wound was too deep and had been open too long for him to heal now. It was too little too late to be here for him now. What had happened to break this Robin’s wings had been terrible indeed.
The deal was that Slade would teach him everything he needed to know, for deferred payment. Once Jason killed Batman he would belong to Slade, to shape as he wished. Slade wonders if Jason sees it is as much for his own good as it is for Slade’s. He knows killing Batman isn’t easy for a merc like him, let alone for someone like Jason who had a personal connection to him. Slade might never get his payment, but he’s prepared to wait. As long as Jason knows that revenge isn’t the end. As long as he remembers he has something, someone to come back to, it's payment enough.
So he looks after his broken bird. He knows if he doesn’t no-one will, not even Jason himself.
Slade’s sure Jason only washes his hair when Slade’s in the shower with him to do it for him. He’d find it more irritating if Jason’s face wasn’t so kissable titled back to wash the bubbles from his hair. Showers were good for multitasking, Jason said, you could get dirty then get clean.
Slade makes sure he takes proper showers, not just getting rained on. While he admits he does enjoy lathering soap over Jason’s naked body with his bare hands, he also has to remind Jason to shower when he’s not there. Asking for a picture after every shower has kept the boy on track, as well as provided enough images to compile a very specialized photo album. Jason dislikes the feeling of water against his skin; shower’s he tolerates but baths he outright refuses. There’s some wound there Slade doesn’t care to reopen. More than once he’s found his broken bird dead eyed under water run cold, staring off into the distance. It could be hours before he came back from whatever dark place he’d gotten lost in.
By keeping a standard time between requesting Jason shower and requesting his picture Slade kept him from slipping away.
Other things were easier. Jason would eat whatever was on hand; if Slade wanted to improve his eating habits all he had to do was keep good food closer to hand than the bad. He kept the fridge stocked with ready-portioned meals, knowing Jason would grab whatever was closest to hand. The dishes and utensils were kept disposable, so Jason didn’t have to worry about doing dishes. Jason ate whatever he could get his hands on, Slade made sure he had plenty of food ready before he left.
Clothes was the easiest; he’d simply stripped and replaced Jason’s entire wardrobe overnight. It had taken his broken bird a while to notice, showing how little he cared about his outfit, but when he’d showed up wearing the things Slade bought for him it felt like ownership. He hadn’t gotten much more than a muttered ‘thank you’ while Jason had drawn the hood of his new coat tighter around him but that had been enough. Jason had the cash from a ‘sponsor’ in the League of Assassins, but he didn’t have the contacts to get the things he needed custom made. Slade feels better being able to keep him safe behind a bulletproof weave and Jason never questioned how everything was tailored to fit his measurements.
Admittedly providing arms was probably a step too far, but he enjoyed spoiling his baby boy so much. Too many arms dealers would screw over anyone from Gotham on principle and he wasn’t letting his broken bird go off half-cocked. He’d thought Jason would appreciate a quality weapon for his collection. After all it was an important purpose it was going to be put to.
Jason it seemed wouldn’t draw the line at ammunition or frag grenades but an AK-47 was a step too far. He wasn’t accepting charity, Jason had said as he tried to return the gun. Slade had nearly laughed at that and decided bringing up all the other gifts he’d been happy to accept would be bad form.
The gun in question is laying on the bed side table now. Slade knows Jason is going to accept it, it was too useful not to, but Jason had to prove to himself that he still had a say in his own life. It wasn’t that Jason hadn’t noticed all the things Slade was doing for him. It was that he wouldn’t have done them for himself. Slade was the only one who cared enough to want to make his life better.
He plants a kiss on Jason’s forehead, reassuring him that he was worth the effort. His broken bird makes a sound like a grumpy cat, letting Slade know he’s not letting things go just yet.
“Did you imagine the Gun Fairy was stopping by and leaving you gifts?” Slade asks with a snort.
“Can’t see anyone calling you a fairy and walking away from it.” Jason replies as he nuzzles against Slade’s chest.
Jason’s favorite place to be in the morning was curled thoroughly around Slade, using the mercenary’s bare chest as a pillow, both still naked and fucked out from the night before. The adjective ‘cuddly’ was rarely applied to Slade but enjoyed that his broken bird wanted to stay close. He liked being able to put his skin between Jason’s body and danger; he’d heal, his broken bird would not. The adjective ‘cuddly’ certainly applied to Jason. Jason often complained when missions kept them apart that he had trouble sleeping without Slade’s strong arms wrapped around him and the mercenary’s cum in his ass.
Slade knew his broken bird was using sex as self-medication against the nightmares that still haunted him. The only thing that seemed to keep the darkness away was being thoroughly fucked to exhaustion before he slept. Slade always made sure to give him a happily dreamless sleep. He couldn’t offer the same guarantee, but it was touching that he was the only one Jason trusted to touch him like that.
“Don’t you have a butler to do everything for you?” Jason mutters.
“Maybe I just like spoiling you.” Slade replies, sweeping the hair back from his forehead with one hand.
“Mmmm.” Jason grumbles without opening his eyes.
“Oh hush, you deserve it.” Slade says fondly. “We have an agreement, remember?”
“Mmm.” Jason hums a wordless confirmation.
“Keep the gun. It’ll be useful.” Slade tells him.
“Can’t buy me.” Jason mutters, still nuzzled against Slade.
“Don’t need to.” Slade replies as he combs his fingers through Jason’s hair. “I already have you. I mean to keep you.”
“Mmm.” Jason hums happily and lets the warmth of Slade’s body against his carry him back to sleep.