Actions

Work Header

A Hero's Work

Chapter Text

Sleep hadn’t crossed his mind in days.

Staring at his comm unit, his eyes burned, blood throbbing through his head.  Bruce was somewhere in the south of Gotham, rounding up the last of the members from the newest upstart mafia that had dared to settle in his territory.  It left a bitter taste in his mouth, that he had had to call in the Bat for help on this.  He would have called Jason, but Hood had been out of country on an undercover mission for some time, and Tim was laid up with a broken tibia.

So, he’d had to resort to Batman. 

Dick couldn’t remember what their last fight had been about, but it hadn’t been pretty.  It’d ended with Dick storming out of the Batcave, wishing he’d never set foot in Wayne Manor.  But this last operation—Nightwing couldn’t handle it himself.  Not after he’d nearly gotten himself killed interfering on a gun shipment raid that had gone horribly wrong.  Since that night, he’d gotten maybe a grand total of three hours of sleep over the past five days trying to wrap up this case.

And now it left him with a throbbing head and blurred eyes and the bitter taste of Bruce’s smugness on his tongue.

When the rooftop he was perched on swayed beneath him as he watched the lights of the police cars below, taking in the thugs he’d hogtied for them, Dick thought it best to find the closest safehouse.  Though the problem with that was the closest one, not even his, was three miles away.  As soon as he took an unsteady step towards the roof’s edge, he knew he might not make it safely.

Especially not after the more brutal than usual fight he’d had with the men now being perp walked past the news media that had arrived ten minutes ago.  This particular gang had gained some questionable notoriety among the press during their rapid rise to power.  It led Dick to suspect some behind the scenes involvement.  Possibly of the Black Mask persuasion.

Jason was not going to be happy about that particular suspicion.

He needed to call Jason as soon as possible in order to set up counter strikes with Hood’s best nemesis.

His body at the moment had other plans.  Groaning, he leaned against the brick wall of the roof access stairwell of the old industrial building he’d staked himself on.  Dick scrubbed a rough hand down his face, scraping over his domino.  He could barely see through it, could barely see anything and if he was going to make the trek to a safehouse, he’d need to see.

It was nearly two in the morning, the city as close to quiet as it got, so Dick ripped off the domino, hissing at the sting of pulled skin.  Maybe if he closed his eyes for a few minutes, he’d be able to make it.  But no; the second he closed his eyes, sleep tugged dangerously at him.  He’d collapse right here on this roof.

Sighing, he tucked his domino away and grabbed his grapple.  At best, his footing was shoddy on the roof’s edge, but he aimed as well as he could, and took off.  A few times, he nearly plummeted to the streets, barely catching himself but he managed to make it a mile and a half before he had to pause, panting, on another rooftop.

Bent double, his hands grasped around his knees, he blinked desperately, trying to clear the blur.

“It’s unwise to swing around Gotham with a bare face, little bird.  Someone might see you.”

The deep rumble of a voice could have been a hallucination—a few of the buildings had been laughing at him for the past few hours—but the warmth that manifested beside him was all real.

“Slade?” he groaned, “How long have you been tracking me?”

“I was going to ask you the same question, seeing as you’re on the roof of my safehouse,” Slade replied, voice easy.

Dick, half-conscious, blinked again, struggling to focus on the two Slade’s prowling around him.  Tingles sparked up his spine as he tried to stumble back.  “What?” he rasped, barely catching himself as his own feet betrayed him.

The two Slade’s stopped just a foot before him, scowling.  “Did you hit you head or something, kid?”  A large, gloved hand waved itself in front of his face.  “Or did you have a run-in with some unfortunate narcotics?”

Dick, amazingly, managed to shake his head, though it made a headache flare to dull life behind his eyes.  “’m fine.  Go away, Slade.  Not in the mood.”

Where was Slade’s helmet?

“I can’t very well leave a naked little bird alone in big bad Gotham when he can barely stand,” Slade rumbled, closing the space between them.  Trying to compensate, Dick took a step back, only to miss.  Knee buckling.  Before Dick could make his unfortunate impact with the ground, Slade’s thick, well-muscled arm caught his waist.

“Slade,” Dick warned, barely able to clear his vision long enough to meet the assassin’s eye.  The entire line of Dick’s body was pressed flush against Slade’s unforgiving armor—but Dick knew very well what laid underneath.  And it was very dangerous.  In more ways than one.

“Little bird,” Slade returned.  “I think I’ll be taking you.  Just for tonight.”  His single eyes glittered.  “Unless you’d like to stay longer.”

Dick pushed lightly as his chest, but the iron around his waist wasn’t letting him go, and he was in no shape to take on Deathstroke.  “Slade,” Dick whined.

“Come on, kid.  You know nothing will happen if you don’t want it to, but we need to treat—whatever is making the Boy Wonder lose his footing.”  With a finality that made Dick’s stomach flutter, he was hoisted over Slade’s shoulder without preamble.

A chuckle slipped past Dick’s lips as he swung from the assassin’s shoulder, barely paying attention to the walls darkening around him.  The firm grip on his ass didn’t help anything as his headache throbbed.  He knew this probably wasn’t the best idea, but the times in the past he’d encountered the Terminator, nothing—bad had befallen him.  It was more the opposite of bad.

A door clicked shut quietly, startling him back to the present.  Around him, a very high-end condo surrounded him, drapes heavy and thick on every single window.  He was flopped onto a deep sofa that smelled of… Slade.  But that thought wasn’t allowed to come to fruition when sharp pain needled his side.  Dick touched a hand against the source, pressing to test the pain and it flared cruelly.

“Ow,” he croaked, palm smeared with red.

“That’s a nasty wound, kid,” Slade said, crouching beside the couch to examine the apparent knife wound in his side.  That probably wasn’t helping his state of awareness.  Blood loss never did.  Somehow, the older man had already retrieved a med kit, laid on the coffee table behind him.  “Your suit is going to have to come off.”

“Your suit has to come off,” Dick slurred but didn’t protest.  The suit was too tight against his skin anyway.  Laid out on his back wasn’t the best position to remove his skin tight suit from, but that didn’t stop him from trying.  Slade’s low chuckle shivered through his bones and then his hands were all over him, finding where Dick had started his hidden zipper.  Dick’s breath was labored as Slade managed to peel his suit off his arms, down his chest to settle around his waist.

Slade’s callused fingers framed the wound in his side.  When had Slade removed his own gloves?

“You’ll live,” he deemed, reaching behind him for antiseptic and bandages.

“Great,” he muttered, tossing an arm over his eyes.  Something in the back of his mind wouldn’t let him relax though.  Dick barely registered the sting of the antiseptic.  What was he forgetting?  Grabbing his comm unit, he brought it to his face, only to have it snatched away, tossed into some dark corner of the even darker room.  Dick didn’t know how Slade cold see what he was doing.  “Hey!”

“I don’t need you giving away the location of my safehouse,” Slade said plainly, working on taping down the bandage against Dick’s wound, just above his hip.

“I aldedy—already know where your safehouse is,” he garbled, blinking some haze from his eyes.  “That piece of tech is exce—excemsive; you can’t just throw it.”

“I’m sure it’s seen worse,” Slade replied, taping down the final piece.  “And I want you to know where my safehouse is, that doesn’t mean I want the Bat knowing.”

Heat gathered in Dick’s cheeks before he could help it.  Even though he’d turned his blurry gaze to the ceiling, it didn’t stop strong fingers grazing over his cheekbone.

“That’s a pretty blush, little bird.  I wonder how far down I can get it.”

Slade’s low comment was no help with his reddened face, so he just turned towards the back of the couch.  “Didn’t you want to figus—figshur—fig—” Dick couldn’t even finish with the lead in his bones, pressing his headache tighter.

“Figure out what’s making you act like you had a run in with Ivy?” Slade finished for him, which only made Dick huff in annoyance, hand drifting for his newly bandaged wound but only encountered Slade’s large palm.  Ready and waiting to snatch his hand up.  “Do you remember if you sustained a head injury?”

Dick was very aware of Slade drawing his hand towards his mouth, breath warm over his fingers.  A shiver crawled from his palm through his chest, all the way down his spine. 

“If I did, wouldn’t I not remember?” Dick teased, refusing to look as Slade’s lips drifted gently over his uncovered wrist. 

“Funny,” Slade murmured, “So not a head injury.  Your pupils looked fine as well,” he mused, almost to himself, even as Dick felt the touch of teeth against his inner arm. “When was the last time you slept, pretty bird?”

Dick turned, mouth parted to respond just as Slade cut him off.  “More than four hours.”

“I don’t know,” he sighed, eyes trained on the trail Slade’s mouth was tracking up his bicep, almost touching his shoulder.  “Maybe…four.  Days ago.”

“Now I know why you’re so loose,” Slade growled against his skin, mouthing at the junction of his shoulder.  It was too easy to just let Slade’s teeth nip at his skin, no doubt leaving rosy bruises in their wake.  Dick had to curl his hand in Slade’s hair, longer than his usual buzz cut.  Working his way down his pec, Slade took his sweet time, a giant hand sliding around Dick’s nape.  A possessive vice that held him in place, arching him up into Slade’s mouth.

Dick groaned, eyes fluttering shut as the heat of Slade’s tongue overtook his nipple. The hand that wasn’t cupping his neck was grazing delicately over his ribs.  A sharp flash of pain had Dick jerking, eyes cracking open, his moan strangled.  Slade’s tongue released his nipple, only for a moment.

“Cracked ribs too,” Slade chided, wet lips brushing up to the corner of Dick’s jaw.  Shuddering was a bone-deep reaction, Slade’s mouth so close to his ear.  “What am I going to do with you, pretty bird.”  It sounded more of a threat than a question, a threat that had sparks tingling down his skin.

Slade’s mouth drifted to the corner of his mouth, dropping a gentle kiss to his parted lips.  Sweat beaded along his forehead as he watched Slade through lidded eyes, breath hitched and uneven from the sudden jolt to his ribs.  When had he cracked his ribs?  Maybe it was one of his rough landings on the way over here.

“I’ll be right back.”  But before Slade moved to leave, he planted a firm, all consuming kiss on Dick’s parted mouth.  He moaned, arching into Slade’s firm grip, sinking into the harsh grip on the back of his neck.

Dick probably wouldn’t admit this fully rested or without Slade’s tongue down his throat, but—he loved the possession.  Loved having his control ripped away from him by Slade’s domineering.  It made him feel safe.  Not that the manor or Bruce or Alfred never made him feel safe, though now all those things were tinged with bitterness thanks to his and Bruce’s latest argument.  With Slade, it was just—different.  With Slade, he didn’t have to be the golden boy or Boy Wonder.  With Slade, there was no back and forth as they wrestled for control of a mission or a team.  He could just be Dick, just as Slade took him apart piece by piece without judgement and wrecked him.

Dick probably wouldn’t admit this fully rested or without Slade’s tongue down his throat, but—Dick loved getting fucked stupid.

Fucked so hard and long and deep he couldn’t even think straight.  It was honestly a relief to give up control, if only for a few hours.

As soon as Slade pulled away, he hated the cold that took its place, panting harder for entirely different reasons.  But Dick let him leave all the same, running his tongue over his lips to taste the reminiscent Slade and watch the assassin stride into the kitchen.  Eyelids heavy, once Slade was gone from easy view, Dick let them slide closed, hand drifting to the warm, throbbing nipple Slade had been teasing.

If his bones weren’t so heavy, Dick would have let Slade jump them.

He heard some clinking in the kitchen, then soft footfalls coming back towards him, them passing him entirely.  There’s no real focus left in him to follow the sound across the apartment.  His breathing evened out, mind drifting with static for a little while, but not fully letting go.  There was something—

There it was again, that tickling in the back of his mind.  He’d forgotten something.  He’d remembered it only a few minutes ago.  What was it?

Jason.

He needed to send a message to Jason.  If Dick’s suspicions about Black Mask’s involvement were correct, then Mask was not going to be happy about having his front gang dismantled and imprisoned.  And…Bruce.  He grimaced, he still had to contact Bruce.  The notion left his stomach roiling.

As soon as Dick moved to sit up though, a rock-hard hand pinned him on the shoulder.

“I leave for five minutes, and you’re all tense again,” Slade mused, setting down a glass of water, next to a cup of pills and an ice pack.

Dick shoved at the immovable hand.  “Slade,” his voice was more exhausted than he’d meant for it to sound.  “I have to go.”

There were a dozen moves Dick knew that could easily release him from Slade’s grip, but his body wouldn’t let him shift to even start them.

“I don’t believe you do.”  The shadows of Slade’s condo cut the assassin’s jaw in a sharp line, crystalizing his single storm grey eye.  “From what I saw on that roof, you’d be a streak on the pavement before you even got a block away."

Dick’s fingers closed around Slade’s thick wrist.  Sometimes he forgot how big Slade was—Dick’s fingers couldn’t even completely circle the man’s wrist.   “I need to get to Batman—”

“Running back to Daddy won’t solve the stab wound or sleep deprivation, kid.  You’re not leaving.”

When Slade’s hand withdrew, Dick moved, making a break for the comm across the room.  But he was caught pathetically fast, pinned face down on the carpeted floor, the assassin layered against his back.  Stab wound screaming.

“You can barely beat me on a good day,” he murmured against his ear, tongue darting out against the shell.  A shiver greeted the action.  “Let me take care of you, pretty bird.”  Dick was already panting again from the short burst of exertion, the burning in his side and ribs renewed.

Maybe Jason and Bruce could wait till tomorrow morning.  The dizziness behind his eyes agreed, so, he let himself go slack beneath Slade’s considerable weight.  God, he’d caved so easily.

And in reward, Slade leaned down to whisper salaciously, “There’s my good boy.”  Dick whimpered.  “Now let me take care of you.”

A short nod from Dick had Slade hauling him off the floor and bridal carrying him to the sparse, open bedroom across the room.  But they bypassed the bed, moving to the bathroom, where Dick slowly registered the sound of running water, head lulling against Slade’s armored chest.

The assassin had removed his katanas and other weaponry already, probably while Dick had been zoning out.

Slade set him on wobbly knees in front of the sandy tiled shower, already steaming.  He let Dick grip his shoulders for balance as he crouched to remove Dick’s boots and peel the rest of his suit off.  Dick could barely keep his eyes open through the whole ordeal.  But when his suit was discarded on the ground, Slade rose, wrapping a heavily muscled arm around his waist and lifting Dick into the shower like he weighed nothing more than a feather.

“The bandage,” Dick murmured, forehead pressed against Slade’s chest, eyes blissfully shut as the warm water hit his back.

“Is waterproof, little bird,” Slade reassured, hands already soapy and sliding over Dick’s sweat sticky body.  Dick contented himself in listening to Slade’s steady heartbeat as the man himself washed away the excess blood and grime, careful of the sensitive cracked ribs.  Slinging his arms around Slade shoulders, Dick rested his eyes—and possibly fell asleep for a few moments because suddenly Slade was flipping the shower off and toweling droplets of water off Dick’s hypersensitive skin.

Dick moaned quietly, a little discomfort, a little pleasure as Slade grazed further south.  But then he was being scooped up again, carted back to the bedroom.  Depositing Dick on the bed, Slade quickly retrieved the ice pack, water, and meds from the living room.  Damp hair curling around his forehead, Dick hissed at the ice pack against his ribs, bare skin to pack, but Slade made up for with a startling, smoldering kiss.  Grip back on his neck, a comforting weight as Slade’s hand pressed the pack against his ribs.

With a parting lick of his lips, Slade drew back, grabbing Dick’s hand to lay it over the ice pack.  “Stay,” he ordered, single eye holding Dick’s gaze without problem.  He only nodded.  And took the pills Slade offered him.

Once Dick had drained the glass, Slade carded thick fingers through Dick’s wild locks.

“Now,” Slade purred, still unabashedly naked in the dark room, and Dick could do nothing but give all his attention.  “You’re going to sleep as long as you can, and then I’m going to fuck you so deep into this mattress you’ll have no choice but to relax.”

Dick’s mouth watered at the thought, and his cock had similar thought, tightening against the scant sheet covering his crotch.

“Understand?”

Frantically Dick nodded, pathetically pulling at Slade’s equally damp hair when Slade’s rough hand grazed over his sensitive half-hearted erection, pleased smirk ghosting the older man’s lips.

“You should get to sleep, pretty bird.  Sooner we can take care of this,” Slade said, pumping Dick once, tearing out a tired whine.  But Slade released him, only to retrieve a pair of his own boxers.  They were comically large on Dick’s narrow hips, but they were enough as Dick slid beneath Slade’s surprisingly luxurious sheets.  It felt nice all the way down in his gut when Slade carded his fingers through Dick’s hair again, leaning down to tease his lips into a languid kiss.

Slowly parting his lips, Slade’s tongue swept into Dick’s mouth as his eyes fluttered shut, a heavy hand reaching up to grip the older man’s shoulder.  Dick’s head spun, making him glad he was laying down even as Slade pulled away, grey eye hazy.

“There’s my good boy,” Slade rumbled, thumb circling his cheekbone.  “Now go to sleep.”

All of Dick’s reluctance drained away as Slade switched to the opposite side of the bed and slid beneath the covers with him.  It seemed Slade still had work to do, as after he’d slipped into his own boxers, he grabbed a tablet from the bedside table and started flicking through it.  Dick wormed his way over to line himself along Slade’s warm thigh. Something settled deep in the pit of Dick’s stomach as Slade’s hand settled in his hair.

Slipping into unconsciousness was surprisingly easy beside this world-renowned assassin.  Especially with the thought of what was to come when he woke, but all the same, he dropped like a stone into sleep, curled around Slade’s leg.

Chapter Text

When Dick cracked open his eyes, it was still dark, but he was warm and most of his pain had faded to dull aches.  Scrubbing the sleep from his eyes, Dick rolled onto his back, stretching the tautness in his shoulders.  The ceiling over him wasn’t familiar, but he wouldn’t have passed out so heavily in a compromised location.  Maybe he’d broken into one of Jason’s safehouses again.

But no, upon second examination he did recognize that ceiling.  And recognized the heavy scent woven into the sheets around him.  Eyes still heavy, Dick smiled to himself. 

Slade.

“Thought you’d never wake up, kid.”  Slade meandered out from the bathroom, towel slung long over his hips, hair damp.

“Did you go somewhere?” Dick mumbled, arching his back against the bank of pillows.

“Just checking on a few things,” Slade replied, striding over to the edge of the bed, knee splitting the towel as he set it on the comforter.

“Do I need to be worried about those things?”

Slade shrugged, slicking back his hair.

Dick frowned.  “Slade, what did you do—”

Slade cut him off with a sudden jerk of his ankle, dragging Dick down the bed, right between the cage of Slade’s bare, muscled arms. The sheets were completely askew, tangled around Dick’s hips.  A sharp smirk split Slade’s lips.  “That’s none of your business, pretty bird.”

“If it was illegal, it is my business.”  Slade’s hand closed around his jaw, tilting up his chin, baring too much of his neck.  Dick tried pulling away but Slade’s grip only tightened.

“What are you going to do about it?”  Slade leaned down, nose mere inches from his.  “I have the advantage.”

Heart pounding, Dick took a swing at him, only to have his wrist caught.  Dick’s eyes could only widen before he was turned quickly onto his belly, arm wrenched up behind him.  Slade’s considerable weight bore down on him through the sudden knee on the small of his back.

“Slade—" Dick started, feeling a familiar warmth pool in his gut.  He tried pushing against the knee in his back, but Slade only pressed harder.

“Hush, pretty bird,” Slade chided, the nightstand drawer rattling as he shifted above Dick.  “You and I still have some unfinished business.”

Light and warm, Slade was back and kissing his bare shoulder blades, the opposite of the firm, harsh grip in which he had Dick’s arm pinned.  Cool fingers, wet fingers slid over line of his thigh, bee-lining for the lose boxers barely clinging to Dick’s hips.  He held back a startled sound when Slade practically ripped those lose boxers, his only protection, off.

Slade rumbled in satisfaction.  “Still the finest ass in Gotham and Bludhaven,” Slade said, mouth returning to Dick’s tensed shoulders.  “Relax.”  Teeth against his skin pushed a shudder through his back, nipping at the junction of his shoulder.  “Or do I need to make you?”

Suddenly, those wet fingers from before were on the curve of his ass, massaging the heavy muscle there.

Breathless, Dick sighed, “Slade.”

His lips were against Dick’s cheek, dropping a soft kiss.  “Save my name for later.  You’ll be hoarse by the time you’re done screaming it.”

Jaw slack, Dick shifted as much as he could beneath the solid block of muscle.  “Big talk,” he teased, canting his hips back minutely.

Slade hummed, fingers slipping between his ass cheeks, finding his hole and circling. Waiting.  The pop of a cap told him Slade still had the lube.  Dick jumped when cold lube dribbled over his hole, massaged in with Slade’s already wet fingers. 

“Don’t worry, I’m good for it.”  And without warning, Slade plunged a slick finger into him, plowing deep with a wet squelch.  Dick’s eyes pinched closed, mouth falling open as he squirmed against the weight.  An experimental pump, slow and drawn out as Dick clenched around the intrusion.  The arch of his back moved on its own, adjusting to try and hit the spot he so desperately wanted.

In response, Slade suddenly twisted, ripping out a startled cry.  “I’m going to make you relax, pretty bird.  Starting with your tight little ass.”

Punctuating his words, without preamble Slade slid in another finger.  Dick whined, hole protesting the invasion as he tried to shimmy away, but Slade’s free hand clenched around his hip, steadying him.  “You’re all right, pretty bird.  You’re all right,” Slade crooned.

Tension drained out of Dick’s shoulders, Slade’s words nipped into the skin of his nape.  The half-hard cock between his own legs teased him, rippling with building heat.  But thoughts of last night were slowly trickling back.  The gang front.  Black Mask was back in Gotham.

Jason.  Jason had missed his scheduled check-in an few days ago.

“Slade,” Dick moaned, hips shifting restlessly as he forced open his eyes, “I—I need to go—”

Slade pushed forward, fingers and body both bearing down on him until the brief thoughts of Jason and Black Mask scattered.  Speared on Slade’s knuckles, Dick could only shiver.  The fingers buried inside him thrust languidly, stretching him out bit by bit.  Slade bit lightly at his chin.

“No. You don’t,” he growled.  A heavy length settled on the back of Dick’s thigh.  When Slade rocked his hips, Dick knew exactly how hard the assassin was—long, thick cock cresting over his ass cheek.  Slade must have dropped his towel, because it was nothing but skin to skin.  “Don’t worry,” Slade leaned close, mouth right against his ear, “Daddy will take good care of you.”

It caught Dick up in a deep moan, shuddering when Slade fully withdrew his fingers from his ass before shoving back in.  Dick’s breath stuttered, hands fisting in the sheets, digging his knees into the bed as he soaked in the delicious heat from Slade’s ripped chest and abdomen, pressed along his back.  Sometimes it was easy to forget just how much more muscle Slade had.  How the man was in an entirely different weight class than Dick, and even Jason or Bruce.

With Slade now sucking hickeys into his shoulder, Dick turned his face into the sheets, feeling the heat of his own strenuous breaths blasting in his face while Slade slowly pumped his fingers now in and out of him.  Slid in another with a whine.  Pushed more blood into his hardening cock.  But the older man stopped, much to Dick’s dismay, to drag his tongue along Dick’s jaw, hot and slow before whispering, “I need to keep you stretched while I work, pretty bird.  What do you think I should use?”

Dick hummed, pushing back against Slade’s palm, cupping his ass while two knuckles deep.   Slade scissored his fingers, jerking a cry from Dick’s wet lips.  His other hand squeezed Dick’s hip.

“I asked a question, boy.”

The stretch of his rim burned with a delicious sting, forcing Dick’s hips forward in an effort to get away, but Slade effectively had him pinned.  There was nowhere to go.  Tears pricked the corners of his eyes before he could muster a choked, “Y-your cock.”

It was Slade’s turn to hum in appreciation as he did indeed roll his hips just beside the cleft of Dick’s ass, teasing with damp heat.  He tucked his nose into Dick’s throat.  “Close, but I need free range.  Try again.”

Dick knew but didn’t want to say it, bit his lip until it stung even as Slade’s fingers brushed against his prostate.  Shot tingles up his spine.  Dick’s own cock was now full and straining, trapped between him and the bed.

“Try again,” Slade repeated, teeth burying themselves in Dick’s sensitive flesh.  Dick whimpered.  That was definitely going to bruise.

“D—d—” Dick started, hazy as the fingers relaxed, resumed lazily fucking him, lube dripping down his thighs.  Hitting his sweet spot every. Single. Time.  It made his toes curl.

“Say it, boy.”

A tight whine.  “A dildo.”  Scissored fingers again, Dick’s back curling up with no release from the ache.  “Daddy.”

“Good boy,” Slade soothed, relaxing his fingers again, free hand sliding down Dick’s abs to just brush the tip of his erection.  Just beginning to leak pre-come.  “And we’ll need to keep this in check too.”

Slade was gone, all of a sudden ripped from him, fingers and all before a tight grip around the nape of his neck squeezed, flattening him to the mattress.  “Stay,” Slade ordered, squeezing once more before drawing away.  Dick all but melted, missing the warmth of Slade’s weight, empty hole twitching.

Dick didn’t have to wait long before Slade returned, appearing from who knew where.  The mattress bounced lightly beside him as Slade dropped whatever he’d retrieved beside Dick.  He tried to go to his elbows, turn his heavy head to see what Slade had gotten, but that forceful hand was back on his neck, squeezing tightly.  Frozen halfway up, Dick hummed, pushing into that grip, eyes fluttering closed.

“No moving, pretty bird.  Not till I say.  Understand?”  A nail scraped down Dick’s exposed spine.  A shaky moan escaped his parted lips but he did manage to nod.  “Good, face down on the bed, ass in the air.”

Sluggishly, Dick moved to obey, watching as his control and presence of mind slipped away.  Slade always did this to him.  With his deep voice and possessive touch, he managed to rip away any and all semblance of agency if he wished.  The scary thing was that Dick was all too eager to let him.

Cold air slid over Dick’s ass, freezing the lube still sliding down his thighs.  An unwanted shiver crawled through his skin as Slade’s impossibly warm hands cupped both his ass cheeks, giving one hardy squeeze before letting go.  Then there was something pushing at his hole, cool and ridged.

“This should keep you nice and full before I’m ready to stuff you with the real thing,” Slade intoned.  A shudder.  And then a thick dildo was being worked into his hole.  He was still too tight for it to slide in easily—Dick’s eyes popped open.  Lips parting with a wet whine, high pitched and long as Slade slid the thing deeper and deeper until the plug end settled over his straining ring of muscle.

Panting, Dick had to bury his face in the sheets once more, fists clenched.  The shaking that overtook him wouldn’t stop.  Every shift of his hips had the dildo just brushing his prostate.

Slade.”  Needy.  Begging.

“Hush, pet.  Turn over, on your back,” he instructed gruffly, breath even and unbothered.

Dick had to be careful rolling over, jolting the dildo with each movement, but carefully he managed to follow Slade’s instruction, legs naturally spread wide to keep the pressure off the intrusion.  Cheeks warm, Dick met Slade’s eye and found intent lust.  He had to bite back a moan at the power there.

Slade reached out, traced a finger up Dick’s shin, shifting to the inside of his thigh and lifting away before he got anywhere fun.  “What a pretty picture you make.  Legs spread wide, like an eager slut.”

Dick moaned quietly, trembling with how tight he was stretched around the dildo, eyes lidded as he watched Slade graze his hands up his abdomen.  Stopping to cup his pecs, fingers digging in gently.  With a flick of his thumbs over pert nipples, Slade leaned down to run his hot tongue up the valley of his abs, up his chest.  He paused to suck a violently purple hickey over his heart, making Dick squirm as he gripped the older man’s wrists.  “Slade,” he whispered, squeezing his thighs around Slade’s waist, eager to have the man crushing him into the mattress.

“Patience,” Slade murmured, licking a trail over Dick’s Adam’s apple, straight to his wet, parted lips.  He hovered there for a moment, single eye flicking between both of Dick’s before his tongue slid out, tracing over Dick’s lips.  Dick followed Slade’s beckon all too willingly, trying to sit up to seal their lips, but Slade stopped him.  A slip of fabric came into Dick’s hazy view—one of Slade’s hands had slipped away to his stash near the head of the bed.  A blindfold.

His breath hitched.  “Slade, no,” he croaked, shifting beneath the encompassing weight above him.

Slade’s teeth flashed.  “Don’t you trust me, pretty bird?  Haven’t I always taken care of you?” he crooned.  Sweaty curls are pushed from his forehead.

Dick bit his lip, eyeing the strip of black fabric.  He wouldn’t be able to see a thing with that one, relying solely on Slade’s word.  His other senses.  He’d let Slade blindfold him before, but only with a lot of coaxing.  Dick didn’t like having his sight robbed from him.  It made him feel unstable.

There wasn’t a chance to come to a solid decision because Slade’s knee nudged the dildo nestled between his ass cheeks.  Dick startled with a moan, neck arching as the dildo just touched his prostate.

“Hmm, that’s what I thought.”  The fabric slid over his shut eyes, deft fingers securing the knot at the back of his skull. But Dick didn’t protest—they both knew he would if he really didn’t want it.  Then large hands were at his cock, leaking at the head and throbbing with every touch of the dildo.  Heat coiled low in Dick’s gut as Slade’s calluses scraped along his sensitive cock, pumping once, twice, thrice.  Teasing until Dick was aching, panting, whining with each pass.

Slade slithered down his body, settling between the frame of his thighs.  Hand stroking methodically.  Dick squeezed his knees around Slade’s ribs, the older man tapping the dildo, teasing.

Slaaaade—”

A hand suddenly squeezed his balls, strangling off his complaint, curling his shoulders off the bed as Dick’s hands scrambled to relieve the pressure.  But Slade let up, caught his hands up and laced their fingers together.  “I think I prefer your other name for me,” Slade rumbled, breath puffing against Dick’s abused cock.  His thumbs swiped over Dick’s knuckles, one releasing to reach for his kink stash again.

“Mm-mm.”  Dick shook his head slowly, careful as it began to spin.  Slade’s mouth was so close to his cock now, could feel the warmth off it.  He bucked his hips but got his cock squeezed roughly for his trouble. 

“Now, now.  Don’t start causing trouble when you’ve been so good,” Slade hummed.  “Good boys get rewards.”

Dick shouted when Slade’s mouth wholly engulfed him in one go.

Daddy,” Dick cried, free hand reaching down to card through Slade’s hair, scrabbling for a grip, any kind of grip as sparks lit behind his eyes.  The wet warmth of Slade’s mouth drove him up the wall.  He could feel how deep the older man was taking him, his tip brushing the back of his throat.  Tears slid out the corners of his eyes, wetting the fabric tied around them.  “Nngh, god, please.”

Slade’s hand squeezed Dick’s, fingers still intertwined to help provide some purchase as he squirmed and bucked.  A stitch in his side prickled, reminding him of the healing stab wound, but most of the pain was mutated into pleasure as Slade’s expert mouth bobbed up and down, blinding any sense Dick had left.  His tongue ran along the vein winding down Dick’s cock, coiling to tease the head, play with the sensitive spot just below.  Slade’s hand came around to cup his balls, fingers massaging as he hollowed his cheeks.  “Mmm, fuck,” Dick panted, urging Slade faster with his own hand.  But the moment Dick felt the heat in his gut tighten, Slade pulled off.

Dick nearly sobbed at the loss, laboring to breathe.  “Please, please, please.”

“Begging already,” Slade growled, “I didn’t even have to ask.  But I don’t think you’ve earned release.”  Then Dick’s painfully hard, leaking erection was pulled through a ring, along with his balls, settling at the base of his cock.

Fuck.

“Keep you at attention while I work you up.”

Dick’s hips bucked uselessly as Slade drew back, flicked his leaking tip.  He tore his hand from Slade’s, reaching down to remove the ring.  But Slade, to Dick’s dismay, was faster.  Snatching his hands before he could even touch himself, Slade was flipping him once more onto his stomach, jostling the dildo still sat inside his ass.

“Daddy, please.  It’s too much, I can’t,” Dick whined helplessly, arm pinned up behind him.  Slade pressed him further into the mattress, shoving the dildo deeper with a harsh pat.

“If you keep making so much noise, I might have to find something to shove down your throat,” Slade rumbled close to his ear.  Dick shivered.  Then his ankles were being yanked back to his thighs, secured in place with sturdy, silken rope.  His newly released arm dropped to the mattress, trying to support himself while Slade bound him. “Let’s see where that famous flexibility gets you.”

Calves secured flush against his thighs; he could only curl his toes against his ass.  A warm stretch in his thighs told him he’d overused them last night.  More rope twisted around his arms, securing him wrist to elbow, tugging his shoulders back.  The aching stretch there told him of their overuse as well.  All the same, Dick moaned, squirming as Slade intermittently pumped the dildo while he secured the knots.

“I know how much you like being trussed up,” Slade whispered.  “How much you enjoy being reduced to a whiny slut.  I know your secret, Dick Grayson.”  He yanked on the rope, arching him up sharply.  Dick’s breath rushed out in a groan.  “You love being mine.”

Dick hissed.  “No, I—”

Slade’s fingers pressed into his mouth, forcing his jaw open.  He tasted salt on his tongue.  “Don’t you dare lie to me, boy,” he breathed, his own hard cock brushing over the small of Dick’s back.  “I’ll have to punish you if you do.”  Fingers withdrew, smearing Dick’s spit along his chin.  “You love being helpless while I fuck that willfulness out of you.  Don’t you?”

Dick whined softly, thighs flexing, trying and pathetically failing to worm his way out from under Slade’s oppressive weight.

“Come on, baby boy.  Admit it,” Slade cajoled, thumbs running up the length of Dick’ back muscles, digging in.  It made him spasm, strain against the bindings.  His hole clenched around the dildo, a weak attempt to close himself off as Slade dragged out what Dick didn’t want to admit.  Hot breath, his own, puffed back into his face as he tried to bury it in the sheets.  But Slade’s hand took his jaw, forcing him to twist almost painfully, exposing his throat.

It was frustrating, being blinded, being stripped of the surety of sight, but even with Slade’s hands manhandling him, they held no malice.  They were—safe.  He felt safe with Slade, even when he stripped him of every defense he had.

“I—I love,” Dick hesitated.  It was dangerous admitting such things to anyone, let alone assassins that he met in the field as much as in the bedroom.  But Slade knew his secret identity, had never revealed or sold it for anything.  Would never.  Slade was safe.  “I love…being yours,” he whispered.

Slade’s hot mouth covered his the instant his words left, dipping his tongue in to run along the roof of his mouth.  Dick could taste himself on Slade’s lips, and it only made his cock throb lustfully, dripping with no shame.  Teeth nipped at Dick’s lips, coaxing out a moan.  He rubbed himself desperately against the sheets, straining against the ropes.  Slade pulled back, leaving Dick breathless and aching.

“Shh, shh, shh, little bird.”  Slade ran a thumb over wet, red lips, dipping into his parted mouth.

“Slade,” he begged, tongue darting out to dote on Slade’s calloused thumb.  “Slade.”

“If you keep struggling, you’re going to tear your wound.”  Slade nipped at Dick’s ear, spare hand drifting down to cover the bandage.  The palm was warm and gentle.  Dick’s hips wouldn’t stop moving. “Settle, boy.  Settle.”   The thumb on his tongue slipped out, large hand wrapping around throat, pressing down ever so slightly.  Dick’s movements stuttered, drool trailing from the corner of his mouth.  Slade squeezed just enough to limit his breathing.  “There’s my good boy.  So good for me.”

Dick shivered with a deep moan, bound hands grasping at nothing.

The hand over his wound, protective, lingered for a few quiet moments as Slade waited for Dick to completely settle.  The palm against his throat was a comforting weight when sight wasn’t an option.  It was…nice like this—Dick’s mind drifting in a haze of pleasure with Slade a barrier between him and everything it meant to be a vigilante.  But then the hand on his wound slid away, caressed his ass.  Slade just touched the rim of the dildo holding him open. 

Dick flinched, groaning as he began to tug at it, inching it out ever so slowly.  A quiet whimper slipped out of his restricted throat as his hole twitched, unable to decide if he wanted the intrusion to stay or go.

“You know,” Slade’s mouth was still hovering over Dick’s, body solidly layered over his sore back.  He hadn’t realized how sore he was.  Every pulled muscle burning, if only a little.  The sensation only added to Slade’s wonderful torment.   “I’ve always wondered if you were this good for your little wing.”

Dick choked on his own breath as Slade shoved the dildo in again, ramming it straight into his prostate.  “J-Jason?”

“Yes, pretty bird.  The second Robin.”  Slade began to slowly remove the dildo again.  “Did you think I don’t know about Jason spreading your thighs for a good fucking?  That he likes being gentle as much as throwing you on the bed and taking you like a needy little slut?”

He shuddered as vivid memories of Jason doing just that shimmered in his mind.  His nights with Jason were few and far between as he didn’t like to stay in the Bat’s city much—or even adjacent, but the nights they did have were sweet and gentle and satiating more than they were rough.  Satiating like this. 

No, Dick hadn’t known.

“Well, are you?” Slade questioned, teasing Dick’s rim with the very tip of the dildo.  He could feel the empty space where it had been, twitching at the absence.

“Am I—am I what?” Dick breathed weakly.

“Are you good,” Dick almost screamed as Slade rammed the dildo all the way back in, to the hilt.  “For your little wing?”

Frantically, Dick nodded.  “Good, I’m so good for him,” he sobbed, remembering all the times Jason had praised him.  Assured him how good he was when he was split wide and bent in half.  “Please.”

Slade’s hand squeezed harder, cutting off his breath for a single second before releasing, palm moving to press flat between his shoulder blades.  Slade pulled the dildo out of his ass with an obscene pop.  It was discarded, flopping wetly on the bed.  And Dick was so close to sobbing and begging Slade to just fuck him as he felt Slade’s hard cock line up with his ass but not penetrate.  Dick even shifted to his knees, shoving his hips back to try and impale himself.  But Slade stopped him with a slap on the ass.

Dick yelped.

“Do you present your wet, dripping hole to your little wing too?” he teased, fingers lubed again and dipping just inside his rim, pulling, stretching deliciously. 

“Fuck, please, please.  Daddy,” Dick whined, hips gyrating wantonly.  His cock wouldn’t stop aching between his legs.  “Daddy, please fuck me.  Oh my god, please.”

“Of course, I will, baby boy,” Slade promised, laying a gently kiss on his shoulder, palm still flattening Dick to the bed, face half buried in the covers.  “But first, you have to answer my question.”

Yes, yes!” he sobbed.  “He likes it when I fuck myself open.  God, please.  He likes to watch me do it.”

Slade groaned at the unprompted admission.  His free hand lined up his cock with Dick’s hole, teasing, circling.  “I didn’t know your replacement liked watching.  Maybe we should invite him next time.  Let him see how you really like to be treated.”

Dick was nodding before he could stop himself, bound muscles flexing, tugging at his restraints.  Have his two lovers, doting on him?  Ruining him at the same time?  If the ring wasn’t keeping him painfully hard, he might have come just from the thought of it.  But he could only strain, “Fuuuck.  Daddy, please.”

Slade didn’t wait any longer to shove his cock deep inside Dick’s waiting hole.  Dick screamed, back arching as Slade slammed all the way to the hilt.  Spittle trailed down his chin, eyes rolled back in his head.  Slade was so much bigger than the dildo, filling him completely, absolutely.  His hole stretched taut around Slade’s throbbing dick.

And he stayed there, taking him time planting loving kisses across Dick’s shoulders, methodically squeezing his throat.  Slade’s free hand caressed his hip, tracing a line along an old katana slice.  A scar Slade had bestowed himself.

“You looked so delicious the night I gave you this,” he whispered against Dick’s shoulder blade, nipping down his bound arm.  “The moonlight made your hair look blue and your suit—” Slade groaned.  “It looked like you’d been poured into it.  I could see everything.”

Dick’s cock twitched, straining against the ring confining him.  Desperately, he wanted to reach down and jerk himself off.  And for a moment, he forgot his arms were tied behind him as he jerked an arm to do so only to find himself woefully trapped. 

Move,” he croaked.  “Please.”

Slade obliged him only an inch, pulling out only to sink back in to the heat of his body.  His mouth was open against Dick’s back as he did it again.  And again.  Only an inch at a time.  Teasing him.  His erection was rock hard—it hurt and he couldn’t even touch himself!

Dick rocked his own hips, trying and failing to get friction.  The sheets below him were completely soaked, his thighs aching.

“If you hadn’t fucked up my contract so badly, I would have thrown you into a back room and fucked you against a wall that night,” Slade growled, finally, finally punctuating his words with a full, deep thrust.

“Fuck me now,” Dick breathed.  “Fuck me now.”

It was a brutal pace that Slade set, hips slapping his ass on every thrust.  Jolting Dick into the bed.  The angle wasn’t quite right, just barely missing or grazing his prostate every time.  But Slade’s hand trickled down to find Dick’s restrained cock, pumping it in rhythm with his thrusts until Dick was nearly crying.

“Please, please, please, please,” Dick begged, thrusting into Slade’s hand, legs straining to get loose.  Brace himself so he could fuck himself onto Slade’s cock.

“You want it so bad, don’t you baby boy,” Slade murmured, shifting his hips and there.  The head of his cock smacked into his prostate with deadly accuracy, curling his toes, fisting his hands against the sharp electricity snapping through his veins with each touch.  “And after last night, you needed this.  Needed someone to break you apart after working yourself too hard.”

Slade’s hand moved from his cock to his balls, gently massaging them between expert fingers.  Dick’s back arched deeply, pressing into Slade’s hands.

“That’s one thing that fucking Bat needs to learn.  How to take break.  How to treat his boys right.”  Slade’s breath was warm against his cheek, the arm not between Dick’s legs moving to band around Dick’s chest, pulling him flush with Slade.  “I bet you, your little wing would break just the same as you.  In desperate need of attention.  Praise.  Care.”

Daddy—”

“Would you like that, little bird?  If I caught your little wing in my net and made him relax?  Just as I’m making you,”  Slade mused, speaking between short breaths.  “He’s tighter wound than you, though.  I’d have to set him on a vibrator for a few hours to get him nice and loose.  Tie him up and make him watch me fuck you until he was begging.  Do you like that idea?”

His voice was thready, “Yes.”

“Hmm, maybe I’ll snatch the both of you up soon and do just that.  But for right now—”

The arm around Dick’s chest slid away, hand coming to ruthlessly grip his jaw as two fingers slipped inside his mouth.  Dick didn’t even need prompting to start sucking greedily.  Tongue lacing in between strong fingers that still tasted like gunmetal. 

“What an obedient little slut.”

Dick shoved his hips back in answer, feeling heat pool low in his gut.  He puffed around Slade’s fingers, “The ring.  Please.”

Slade’s fingers pressed down on his tongue, forcing spit to dribble out the corners of his mouth.  “Please what?”  He let up.

“Off.”  It came out an incoherent moan with Slade’s fingers still in his mouth.  Instead he whimpered, thrusting into Slade’s stroking hand.

“Good boy.”  Slade shoved his fingers back into Dick’s mouth, setting off a full body shiver as his hand worked off the ring, little by little.  The trembling didn’t stop when the ring came off, only worsened as Slade pumped him in time with his strokes.  Every breath came out a moan, a whimper as Slade worked him higher, higher.  With the ring off, Dick didn’t even last five minutes.

With a cry, he was coming apart, white sparks blinding his eyes as his entire body tensed in one long line below Slade.  Slade stroked him through it, relentlessly hitting his prostate as Dick came, splattering his belly and the sheets.  And for a moment, he blacked out from the ruthless assault.

When he came to a moment later, trembling, he found Slade had laid him out flat, still pounding into his twitching hole as he chased his own released.  Dick whined at the overstimulation, every thrust sending a violent aftershock through his skin.  Still blindfolded and bound up, Dick could only pant and drool as Slade used him.  His softening cock rubbed against the sheets, forcing him to cant his hips to avoid the touch on his sensitive member.

As soon as he did, with a clench of his hole, Slade was coming, slamming down to the hilt with a groan.  Dick could feel every throb of Slade’s cock as he emptied himself deep inside.  Then Slade stilled, stretched along Dick’s trussed up form as he twitched with his own aftershocks.

After a moment, Slade withdrew with a loud squelch, sitting up to stretch Dick’s rim with his thumbs, admiring his work.

“What a filthy thing you are,” Slade murmured, leaning down to run his tongue once over Dick’s abused hole.  He whined, trying to squirm away, but Slade’s hands settled on his hips, preventing his escape.  Slade lapped, once, twice, drawing a line from Dick’s sore balls up his perineum.  His muscles flexed, lungs burning as he tried to catch his breath against Slade’s assault but Slade continued, torturing abused flesh.

Dick groaned, weak and useless.  “Please, please.  Daddy, please, I can’t.”  Slade’s tongue delved inside his twitching hole, cleaning out the mess he’d made of Dick.   “Please.”  One last nip of teeth to Dick’s perineum and Slade’s hot breath left his skin.

“You were such a good boy for me,” Slade whispered, finally breathless.  And then the blindfold was drawn away, leaking the light left on in the bathroom into Dick’s sensitive eyes.  Dick’s black curls were stuck to his forehead with sweat and Slade, grey eye sparkling, pushed them back.  His own eyes were glazed, hazy as Slade smirked and drew a thumb over Dick’s swollen bottom lip.  “Did you like that, pretty bird?”

Dick was just barely able to nod.

“Are you relaxed now?”

Again, Dick made a weak nod.  “Good.  Let’s get you out of these ropes.”

Slowly, Slade made deft work of undoing the knots and bindings, taking each ankle and carefully unbending his knees.  Dick groaned at each release of muscle, as Slade layered him out on the bed.  Next Slade released his arms.  Dick had to whimper, the ache in his shoulders rippling down his back.  Then he was turned over onto his back, exposed and bare before Slade’s assessing gaze.

A thumb flicked over a rope mark.  “Going to have some bruises tomorrow morning,” Slade comments, taking one of Dick’s hands and beginning a brutal massage of the muscles there. 

Dick hummed in agreement, eyes sleepy even as Slade dug his skilled fingers into the stiff muscles.

“I bet you’re sore from your escapades over the past few days.  You looked two steps from death last night,” Slade murmured, leaning down to plant a kiss on Dick’s swollen lips.  He brushed his nose against Dick’s.

Dick hummed again, free hand moving to squeeze Slade’s bicep.

“How long did it take you to call in backup?” he asked, all too knowingly for Dick’s liking.  Dick moaned, high-pitched as Slade hit a particularly painful knot in his upper arm.

“Three days,” Dick sighed, tilting his chin for another kiss.  Slade obliged with a smile, soft light from the bathroom throwing him in shadows.  Dick’s hand moved from bicep to nape, pressing him closer, parting his lips to let in Slade’s roving tongue.  They exchanged breaths for a few minutes, massage forgotten.  Dick’s arms looped around Slade’s neck,drawing him fully down over Dick’s body, still trembling slightly.

Slade thought better of laying his full weight on top of Dick and rolled them over so Dick was splayed over Slade’s sweat slick chest.  After biting Dick’s lips to a full swell, Slade pulled back, licking the tip of his nose.  Dick hid the quirk of his lips in Slade’s throat, content to lay there and go back to sleep right there.

“I think for next time,” Slade began, calloused hand drifting down Dick’s spine.  Dick nodded that he was listening, if only barely.  “I want two birds.  Willing or not, you both would need it.”  With finality, Slade’s wandering hand squeezed Dick’s ass, hard enough to leave fingerprints beneath his skin.

“Seems greedy,” Dick mumbled against Slade’s warm pulse, feeling his thighs twitch.  He deepened the dip in his back, working out the lactic acid sitting in overused muscles.

“It’s a necessity,” Slade replied.  “Last time I saw Hood, he was strung tighter than you usually are.”

Jason’s vigilante name made something flutter in the back of Dick’s drowsy mind.  The lazy smile turned sour.

“Slade?”

“Yes, pretty bird.”

“When was the last time you saw Hood?”

“About a month ago.  Why?”

Dick pulled back, propping himself on his elbows.  His frown deepened.   “I just remembered that he missed his check-in a few days ago.  Or maybe I missed it.  And—”

“What?”  Dick was already rolling away, trying to clear the fog from his mind.  “Come on, kid.  You’re undoing all my work.”

“Black Mask is back,” Dick cut in.  Where had his comm gone?  “And I think he might have Jason.”

Chapter Text

Unfortunately, Dick had been all too correct about why Black Mask had returned in full force.  He was tucked in the shadows of an empty building in the industrial district, watching from the roof as a coffin like box, among other crates, was unloaded from a shipping truck.  Heavy lead settled in Dick’s stomach, looking at that long, wooden coffin.  If Dick was right—Black Mask had captured Jason during his undercover mission in Bulgaria, where it had been rumored that Black Mask had taken refuge to run his operations.  And Hood was now locked in a coffin.

He’d be lucky if Mask had decided to sedate Jason for the trip.  But it was much more likely that Mask had bound and gagged him in chains and locked him in that coffin to be tortured by his own nightmares.   The crunch of gravel behind him was of no concern, not as an orange and black boot propped itself on the lip of the roof.

“I thought you had a contract to finish?” Dick said into the wind, grimacing as the coffin disappeared into the warehouse.

“Finished it.”

“How did you find me?”

“Wasn’t hard,” was Slade’s non-answer.  Dick rolled his eyes.

They’d split ways three days ago after Dick had checked his comm unit and found a distress message sent out, only to him, two days after Jason was supposed to send a check-in signal.  All it had given was a location a day outside Gotham with one word “Mask.”  Most likely where Jason had been held after being shipped from overseas.

Dick had been so wrapped up in his own case that he’d discarded the notification, mistaking it for a message from Bruce.  That thought left a sick taste in his mouth.

“He’s going to be in bad shape when we go in.”

“We?”

Slade sighed.  “I said I wanted two birds next time, and you won’t be able to take him by sheer force.”

“I’ve taken him before,” Dick murmured, remembering too many times when Jason had slipped into the Pit madness.  When Dick had needed to incapacitate him before he hurt Dick or himself.

“Help can’t hurt,” Slade admonished.  “What’s the plan?”

“Infiltrate through the sky light on the far east corner.  Mask will be there to receive his… shipment, personally.  He’ll be on edge since the dismantling of his mob front.  Shipments contain military grade explosives and narcotics.  It’s a possibility Hood will be drugged heavily with them once Mask takes him out, if he doesn’t let him stew in the coffin for a while.  Objective is to extract Hood, first and foremost.  Mask has too many goons around to take him out now.  If the opportunity presents itself, take him down.  Don’t kill him, Deathstroke.  Understood?”   

Slade didn’t answer him.

Deathstroke.”

“That all depends on the shape of your little wing,” Slade finally put it.

Dick sighed.  That was as much of a promise as Dick was going to get out of the assassin.  Yeah, Dick’s own opinion on killing was on the fence after looking into Jason’s disappearance.  Learning about the new narcotic compound Mask was funneling into Gotham via multiple shell companies that dealt in children’s toys of all things had left Dick with an unpleasant theory of how Mask had caught Jason.  And seeing the crate that looked all too much like a coffin—Dick’s inherent no kill rule was becoming a little unstable.

He'd gone to the location given in Jason’s distress message, scouting the place only to find it empty.  Almost nothing left behind but cigarette butts and the smell of gunmetal.  He had been able to find some shipping logs, but they were mostly burnt up and ultimately a dead end.

“What about the shipments?” Slade questioned; voice neutral.  “Don’t your morals prevent you from leaving such harmful substances standing?”

Dick scowled up at the man.  “Hood is the priority,” Dick ground out.  “But upon infiltration I’ll be placing a single detonation device on one of the crates as a failsafe.  The shipments, like I said, contain explosives and who knows how flammable to new narcotic compound is.  And based on the three-hundred some odd crates I just saw them haul in, there’s enough in there to take out the entire block. Detonating is an absolute last resort.  The shipments can wait.”

There was no loss in telling Slade that part of his plan.  Dick knew Slade wouldn’t purposely obstruct Dick’s mission, especially not without a contract.

“I’m all yours, kid.”  That was as much reassurance that Dick was going to get.  They tuned their comms to the same frequency before Dick slipped off the roof to make his way around to the east side of the warehouse.  It was the most unfrequented part of the building, given Dick’s twenty-four hours of surveillance.

Slade had very much protested Dick leaving to recon this mission three days ago, arguing that he still owed at least ten hours on his sleep debt for his stint on the last mission.   He’d pinned him to the ground in a quick, dirty fight to prove it—had only agreed to let him up if Dick stayed at least another hour while Slade ran some messages through the dark web and some contacts of his.  Dick had passed out for the time it took for Slade to make the connections he needed.

It was actually Slade’s intel that had led him here tonight, after following whispers of international shipments of great import.  Under a name of one of the three shell companies Dick had flagged as being under Black Mask’s ownership from the burnt up shipping logs.  

Dick hadn’t informed Bruce, hadn’t informed Tim.  Had only contacted him after his night at Slade’s to confirm the case had been closed.  Dick wanted this done as quickly and quietly as possible.  Bruce would turn it into a months long operation, accounting for every slithering branch of Mask’s enterprise until Bruce could pull a pin and it would all come crumbling down.  Then, he would save Jason.

But Jason needed out.  Now.

“Move,” Dick murmured, sensing Slade’s shadow just beside him as he slipped through the sunroof, tumbling gracefully down to the floor of the warehouse.  Quiet, as Dick had expected, the grunts still unloading some crates on the loading dock.  The backup explosive was planted before Slade’s boots even landed.  They split, slipping behind stacks and stacks—too many stacks of crates, scanning for where the coffin had been placed.  But no matter where they slithered, nothing.

Only explosives and narcotics.

Dick even looked in a few crates to confirm the intel, snapped a few pictures for later briefing.  How cliché of Mask.  Always guns this.  Explosives that.  Throw in some drugs.  Why couldn’t villains be original?  Dick hadn’t seen any bio-weapons lately, or political espionage.  Jesus, where was the exciting stuff?

Of course, that was just his restless side talking as he moved between rows of crates, looking, looking, looking.  Where was Jason?

A sudden violent rattle drew Dick’s attention.  The foreman’s office.  Of course.

Dick sighed, stomach tight as he drew his escrima and followed the noise.  A terrible crash rattled the door of the foreman’s office in its frame.  A giant shadow, streaked orange and black, crossed his periphery, trained on the same thing as him.  Dust blew off some of the crates as the warehouse door shuddered closed.  The unloading was finished—and some of these crates had been here long enough to collect the annoying dust blowing into Dick’s nose.  How long has Mask had this operation running?

Dick shook his head.  That wasn’t something to worry about now.  Now, Dick had to worry about the location of the grunts who’d been hauling the cargo.  If what Dick thought was in the foreman’s office was in fact in there, the grunts would avoid the room at all costs.  Didn’t want to risk the boss’s anger.  But Dick signaled to Deathstroke anyway to scout where the grunts had gone.  He didn’t see him leave, but Dick knew Slade had gone.

Which left Dick to creep up to the blinded windows of the foreman’s office, the back corner tucked away from the main purview of the warehouse.  Peeking through the slates of the dilapidated blinds covering the yellowing windows of the office, Dick could only see flashes.  A spark of black and red and another violent thud.  He did a quick scan of the rest of the warehouse to make sure no one was approaching at the commotion, but per Dick’s guess, the grunts were avoiding the office at all costs.

There was a desk within Dick’s range of vision when he turned back, adjusting for a wider view of the office, which wasn’t much.  Another second and flash of brown leather, and suddenly Jason was pinned face first onto the shoddy, unstable looking desk.  Dick held his breath as he saw the colorful mess made of Jason’s face, swollen, bruised, cuts and split lip.  Some of the yellowing green bruises told Dick that they weren’t recent.

But what was more, was the feral, unhinged rage held within Jason’s blue eyes, stripped of helmet and domino.  What he could see of Jason’s leather jacket, it was mostly in tatters, the shirt below not much better.  Chains wrapped around his arms and torso.  No doubt more around his thighs and ankles.  Jason was screaming, thrashing beneath the pin of black gloved hands at his wrists and nape.  Dick’s heart hurt as he watched another man step into view, most likely the muscle Mask had brought in to bring Jason out, crushing his face into the desk, weight settling over Jason’s shoulders.

The blood in Dick’s veins heated.

Jason only screamed more, guttural and—unnatural.  Something inhuman.

It increased in pitch, Jason’s entire body vibrating with wrath before he suddenly went slack, mouth hanging loose, rageful eyes dull and empty. 

That’s when Dick moved.

He kicked in the office door, flinging a stun capsule into the room as he activated the protection in his domino.  The flash went off and Dick took down the muscle first.  At least he tried.  Leaping over the desk and Jason, Dick flipped feet first into the grunt’s chest.  But even stunned and eyes watering, the man barely moved, jolting impact all the way through Dick’s spine as he twisted to land feet on the ground.  Activating his escrima, half an eye on the struggling Mask, Dick lunged, planting five thousand volts straight to the man’s chest.

He seized, hands fisting as he sank to a knee, but that was it.  Even when Dick upped the voltage, the grunt gritted his teeth and wrapped a meaty fist around the body of his right escrima.  Before the grunt could throw Dick off balance by ripping him and escrima both away, Dick abandoned the weapon.  He ducked as, with a shout, the grunt launched to his feet and flung the escrima back at Dick. 

The weapon clattered on the other side of the office and Dick had to duck a punch that surely would have broken a few of his ribs, spinning under and around the man.  Teeth bared, he sent his heel into the grunt’s knees, buckling them.  A heavy thud had the man on his knees again, and Dick jumped to wrap his legs around the guy’s meaty throat.  Unfortunately, the grunt—who Dick was now suspecting was a meta of some sort—had other ideas.  Dick only lasted around the man’s neck for about ten seconds, thick fingers digging into his calves and thighs before he got a good enough grip and ripped Dick from his shoulders, throwing him across the room to impact harshly with the wall like a ragdoll.

“Fuck,” Dick groaned, leaping back to his feet as a fist came sailing right at his face.  He recovered just barely, skirting the punch and climbing onto the desk’s edge, now absent of Jason’s limp form, in time to see the grunt’s fist impact with the wall.  The deep hole left there made Dick thankful it wasn’t his own head.   His heart pounded in his own ears, eyes focused.

In the brief moment of pause, Dick turned, searching out Mask, who was rooting in his jacket for the gun he was no doubt carrying.  Flinging two batarangs at Mask, one impacting his hand, the other burying itself in his thigh, Dick barely dodged another punch from the grunt.  The fist meant for his sternum caught his left shoulder.  A pop in Dick’s ear wasn’t good, but his adrenaline and anger were high and he felt nothing.

Mask was screaming now, lamenting the metal lodged in his leg and it was enough to distract Dick long enough for the grunt to latch onto his ankle.  The grip bruised as Dick was dragged off the desk, first impacting hard enough to snap the wood in two.  He lost his second escrima.  The grunt—Jesus, he needed to train with Superboy more—now had Dick by the shoulder and thigh, lifting him effortlessly high before cracking him down over his knee with a shout.

Luckily, Dick was able to twist enough that he didn’t get his spine snapped, but it still wasn’t fun.  The grunt flung him into the far wall, seemingly fond of tossing people around, and Dick cracked into the concrete floor, coughing as pain flared along his side, something wet pooling in his mouth.  But Dick pushed himself up, rolling away from the interlocked fists barreling down on where he’d been.

Landing a few useless punches, Dick took a few more bruising ones before getting knocked into Mask, who shouted profanities.  In a single moment, Dick landed a solid one-two punch to Mask’s throat and face, sending him cowering onto the floor.  Dick pulled the gun from inside Mask’s coat, flinging it across the office.  Which is when he finally noticed Jason, limp and empty-eyed on the floor by the crushed desk.

“Hood?”  Dick’s throat seized, seeing the lifeless form, the blank eyes.  His parents flashed in front of his vision.  It was enough that the grunt got his thick arms around Dick’s torso, pulling him from Mask and squeezing.  A few things cracked as the pressure tightened like a big idiot of a boa constrictor was wrapped around him.  Dick slammed the back of his head into the grunt’s nose, but it didn’t faze him, not even as Dick heard the satisfying crunch of cartilage.

Arms trapped against his sides, Dick aimed a kick backwards, feet well above the ground, but only managed to make his heel throb.  The grunt tightened his hold, pressing against his sternum and stomach until the breath was crushed from his lungs.  He tried to drag in a breath, priorities narrowing down to drawing air and removing the constrictor hold around his body, but Dick couldn’t move.  Couldn’t breathe.

“Don’t kill him,” came Mask’s gruff, heaving voice.  Catching his own breath.  Black began to edge Dick’s vision.  “We don’t need the Bat on us for a dead bird.”

Fury tinged the edges of black.

Why was it Bruce always saving his ass?  Dick was dangerous on his own merit!

But that anger was slowly squeezed from his along with his breath, consciousness leaking away.  He could only see the ruddy, stained walls of the office.  Static filled his ears, eyelids fluttering. 

A resounding boom and Dick was suddenly dropped to the floor, sucking down as much breath as he could, coughing when the inhale was too much.  A thud to his left and Dick was suddenly staring at the empty eyes of the grunt, small hole leaking blood—right between his eyes.

“Deathstroke,” Dick wheezed, fighting to clear his vision and find the assassin standing in the doorway of the office.

“Looks like I missed some fun,” Slade intoned.

“Deathstroke!” Mask shouted, voice not coming from where Dick had left him nursing a wounded leg and blooming shiner.  On his hands and knees, still trying to restore his breathing, Dick tried to stumble to his feet.  “Five million in cash if you take out Nightwing, right now.”

A contract could definitely turn Slade’s allegiance.  Dick turned to Slade, reaching for his bo staff as he wobbled to his feet.  He clicked it open, glancing between Mask—now far too close to Jason—and Slade, who stepped into the office and closed the unhinged door behind him as if it wasn’t barley hanging onto its boltings. 

Dick couldn’t gauge Slade’s expression behind the helmet.  Blood splattered across the bisection of orange and black.

The assassin stood, motionless, assessing the two of them.  Dick with his bo staff drawn and extended.  Mask staring at the contract killer behind his own ugly leather disguise.

Slade shrugged. 

“I make more gambling for the weekend.”

Dick shifted at the declaration, half-way into lunging for Mask.  But Mask made the realization Slade wasn’t going to be helping him at the same time Dick did.  Mask grabbed Jason’s limp form—just within arm’s length from where he’d managed to crawl—by the throat, gun in hand and now held it to Jason’s temple.

It halted Dick in his tracks, white knuckling his bo staff.  He bared his teeth.

“One hundred million and I’ll make sure the Bat doesn’t know you were involved.  With any of this.”

It was too fast for Dick to adjust, not with a bullet aimed at Jason’s head and the aches of a brutal fight and residual, unhealed injuries seeping in.  Slade had him in a head lock before Dick could snap back, hand gun pulled and aimed at his right kidney.  The space between them was close, shoulders to chest, barely enough room for the gun between them.

“Deathstroke,” Dick growled, bo staff in hand.

“Relax, kid.  This’ll be painless,” Slade replied, digging the barrel of his gun into Dick’s back.  “Drop the staff.”

The staff clattered metallically to the ground.  “Fuck you,” Dick spat.

“Maybe later.  Hands on your head where I can see them.”  Dick obeyed, breathing through clenched teeth as the injuries the now dead and bleeding grunt had given him leeched away his strength.

Across the room, Mask released Jason, letting his body thud to the floor.  He used what was left of the broken desk to pull himself up.  He brushed off his suit jacket, imperious and confident, toeing Jason’s cheek.  Dick thrashed against Slade’s grip, not caring of the gun in his back.

“Don’t fucking touch him,” Dick hissed.

Dick could hear the smirk in Mask’s voice.  “I’ll do as I please with your replacement,” he scoffed, grinding a heel down into a particularly nasty bruise.  Dick’s knees nearly buckled as he saw Jason’s fingers twitch, either from the pain or the voices.  “And what I please is to use Red Hood like the street rat whore he is.”

Dick shouted, lashing out again, but the arm around his throat stopped him.  The barrel of the gun trailed up his spine.  “I’ll kill you,” Dick seethed, settling once more.

“Not before Red Hood gets what he deserves.  After ruining so many of my plans.  He almost ruined my operation in Bulgaria.  Nearly, but his pretty face gave him away.”  The toe of Mask’s shoe tilted Jason’s chin up.  “Too pretty to not be used.  He’ll make a fine addition to my toys.  Doped up on my new product of course.”

Dick could barely see through the red in his vision.

Mask took a limping step forward.

“Now, Dea—”

The gunshot shook through Dick’s body, fully expecting to feel a bullet tearing through his stomach.  Dick could only blink as Black Mask collapsed to the floor, blood leaking from a new wound.  He pulled out of the head lock, now almost nonexistent, and turned on Deathstroke, throwing a violent kick into the man’s stomach.

Fuck you, Deathstroke,” Dick seethed.  His blow had barely affected the man, sending him back only a few steps.

“Oh, relax, little bird.  I didn’t kill him,” Slade admonished as Dick moved towards Jason, frantically checking his pulse before attempting to drag him off the floor.  But Dick was injured, and could only press Jason’s full weight on good days.

Not what I meant,” Dick retorted, struggling to get on his feet with Jason slung around his shoulders.  But the assassin was beside him, taking Jason’s dead weight onto his own shoulders in a fireman’s carry.

Dick glared.

“We have about a minute before Black Mask’s lackeys come running for that gunshot,” Slade said, Jason over his shoulders like he was a sack of potatoes.  “Can you make it?”

“Yeah,” Dick replied, grabbing his escrima and bo staff.

Dick was the one to fling open the door, leading the way, painfully putting one foot in front of the other, for the rear exit of the warehouse.  There was already shouting and the cocking of guns on the other side of the warehouse.  On the way, Dick smacked into a few crates, balance off kilter as he wheezed and fought for every breath and step.  Weapons away, Dick had to brace his side, even as they finally reached the back door and slipped away into the lightening dawn.        

Chapter Text

This time, it was Dick’s safehouse. 

Modeled after one of Jason’s actually, tucked into a seemingly abandoned shipping warehouse twenty miles into Gotham’s red-light district.  Dick’s scope of vision was slowly narrowing as he stumbled up to the warehouse door, fumbling for the hidden keypad.  The heavy grime in Gotham’s air was burning his lungs.

“You still with me, kid?”  That was Slade, sidled up behind him with Jason still slung limp across his shoulders.  All that orange and black armor was very close, nearly flush with his entire back.  A protection from any possible lackeys on their tail.

It was painful, but grimly Dick nodded, finally releasing the catch to reveal the keypad.  All he had to do now was input the code to disable the security and open the sealed door.  Easier said than done. 

His breath wheezed between his teeth, hand not scraping at the keypad as he struggled to put in—let alone remember the code—holding up an uncomfortable stinging sensation in his ribs.  After a full minute of staring at the backlit numbers, Dick finally managed to put in the code, the mechanical door sliding open with a hydraulic hiss.  Slade quietly passed him, leaving Dick to re-enable the security, engaging lockdown just in case anyone had followed them.  They shouldn’t have, Dick and Slade both made sure of it, but just in case.

He had a feeling he was going to be unconscious is a few minutes and didn’t want to leave Slade to defend the safehouse from invaders without at least automated help.

The metal stairwell was a task as his body began shutting off functions to prevent pain overload.  But he made it to the bottom to find that Slade had in fact found the med bay, tucked under the loft containing his bedroom.  Dick had specifically pointed them to a safehouse with a med bay.   He had the suspicion that at least three of his ribs were cracked if not broken, and possibly a punctured lung.  And how knew what condition Jason was in.

Slade had placed Jason on one of the beds, which was now where Dick found himself, desperately tugging at the chains binding Jason’s arms and legs.  He could barely tell if Jason was breathing, even as he checked his pulse.  Lifted his eyelids to test his pupils’ responsiveness.

“Slade,” Dick coughed, leaning heavily on the elevated bed.  “There’s—there’s bolt cutters in the tool bench.”  He gestured vaguely across the open, furnished warehouse floor.  With the rummaging of tools in the background, Dick still tried to shift the chains aside, trying to assess what condition in which the skin beneath was.  Heavy boots announced Slade’s movements before he was by the bedside, a tower of shadow in the dark warehouse.

“Back off, kid,” he said, wielding the largest set of bolt cutters Dick had stored in this place.  The farthest Dick could make it was propping himself against the bed, feet braced on the floor.  Beneath the cutters and Slade’s enhanced strength, the chains fell away like butter and Dick crammed himself beside Jason, removing jacket, shirt, pants—down to Jason’s boxers, stained and tattered.

Blood froze in his veins.  Heat settled in his gut, flushing out the molten lava from his torso with something worse.  Roman had—

No, he couldn’t think about that now.  He needed to flush the drug out first.

He grabbed the blood pressure cuff, flipping on the monitor.  While the machine worked, he assessed what injuries Jason had sustained.

There was a messily patched up bullet hole on the right side of Jason’s chest, surrounded by splotches of green and blue.  But he was breathing, shallow but steady breaths.  His pulse was elevated, but not to dangerous levels.  Same with his blood pressure.  He deftly unstrapped the blood pressure cuff.

A stitch in his side forced a cough up his throat.  Dick covered it with the back of his hand, stained it red.  Jason needed help first, Dick had no idea what Roman Sionis had injected him with—it could be the compound Mask had been shipping to the U.S., an enhanced version, or something else entirely.  Dick was glad he’d snuck a sample of the compound into his belt. 

So, he wiped away the blood and reached for a needle and vacutainer in the stack of drawers beside the bed.  But Slade snatched them out of his hands.

“I don’t think so, little bird.  You don’t get to hide coughing up blood.  Your brother will survive until I get you patched up,” he said, placing the needle and tube back on the stack of drawers.

“But we don’t know if the—” Dick coughed again, wincing as heat flared through his ribs.  “The compound will react negatively—”

“Dick.” Slade was gruff.  “If the boy hasn’t reacted badly by now, he’ll be fine.  At least until I’m done with you.”

Slade’s helmet unsealed with a click and a hiss, revealing his stern, immovable expression.  Dick grimaced.  “Don’t pull a dad on me, Slade.  I’m fi—”

Slade picked him straight off the bed, feet dangling as he held him as though he were a child, helmet discarded on a nearby stool.  “I will pull a dad if I have to.”  He smirked.  “I saw the tail end of that fight.  If that meta didn’t puncture a lung, you’ve at least got a few broken ribs.”  Dick scowled.  “And possibly a concussion based on how many times he threw you into a wall.”

“How long were you fucking watching?”  Dick snapped, squirming as his own weight pulled at his ribs.

“Long enough.”  Slade spun on his heel and deposited Dick on the bed beside Jason’s.  “Do you need help getting the suit off?”  The touch of softness had Dick’s bones melting further, body deciding for itself that he did not need to fight any longer, leaving him with trembling muscles and aching tissue.  But he still had enough left in him to smack away Slade’s gloved hand.

“No.”

An eye on Jason, still shallowly breathing with cheeks burning red, Dick began to disengage the defenses on his suit, removing his gloves first.  He set those near the foot of the bed, going for his belt next.  But his gaze kept drifting back to Jason, seeing his blank eyes, the few seconds when Dick couldn’t tell if he was breathing.  The few second his heart seized and it felt like he couldn’t’ breathe.  Limp and lifeless.  He fumbled with the buckle on his belt, fingers shaking.

Every breath was turning sharp, painful with the sting radiating through his ribs.  But now his chest was getting tighter, glancing between Jason and his hands that just wouldn’t work.  He’d look dead.  Gone.  And Dick would have been too late.  Dick was too late.  He’d discarded Jason’s distress message.  Had let him stew in Roman’s possession for five days.  Maybe even longer.  And when Dick had burst into that foreman’s office—Roman had been bent over Jason’s slack form, hand tight around his jaw, manipulating him as he pleased.  After Jason had spent God knew how long in a coffin.  And the flash of Dick’s parents, plummeting to the floor of the circus, twisted and broken and lifeless on the ground. 

Just as Jason had been.

A sob rattled through his shuddering chest, fingers failing entirely.  A tortured cry on his lips.  He could have prevented this.  Could have stopped Jason going Pit mad.  Could have stopped him getting beaten within an inch of his life.  Could have prevented Jason from being locked in a coffin for who knew how long.  Could have prevented what had stained Jason’s boxers.

 Heaving sobs brought on heaving coughs, thrashing pain through his torso.

But then Slade’s large, bare hands were cupped over his cheeks, single eye watching him with something close to worry.  It didn’t stop Dick’s crying, the leaking of tears through his domino.  Delicate fingers touched his chin, beckoning Dick to tilt his chin, bare his face to the man treating him with such kindness.  That did nothing to help the aching in his heart.

“Do your injuries really hurt that much?” Slade murmured, fingers light against the skin of his cheeks.  Dick shook his head, hiccupping lightning through his damaged bones.  “Then what’s wrong, little bird?  What can I do?”

Dick couldn’t get more than a few garbled words out, hands reaching out to latch onto Slade’s wrists.  Those fingers inched up Dick’s face, slow.  Dick still flinched.  Slade’s nails carefully pried under his domino, peeling it away to reveal Dick’s red, tearing eyes.  A hand ran through Dick’s hair, the other stroking his cheek, his jaw, smearing the trails of furious, terrified tears.

“I—I thought,” Dick stuttered, hands tightening to a bruising grip on one of Slade’s forearms.  “I—I—”

“Take you time, kid,” Slade reassured, fitting himself between Dick’s spread knees, leaving only half a foot’s space between them. 

“Dead,” he croaked through a throat full of tears and blood.  “Jason was—” He was cut off by his own coughing, every jolt like a fresh stab wound in his sides.  He had to press a hand against his ribs to steady himself.

“You thought your little wing was dead,” Slade deduced, the hand in Dick’s hair sliding back around to Dick’s bare cheek.  Dick nodded.  Slade sighed.  A thumb stroked over Dick’s lip, came away bloody.  “Let’s take care of your wounds first.”

Slade took the initiative and stripped Dick of his suit for him, all the way down to his skin tight briefs.  Colorful bruises were already blooming all over Dick’s torso, two thick streaks of black—arm marks—were rising to his skin.  Gently, Slade palpated his ribs, searching for broken ones.  Each that he found had Dick groaning, high in his throat.  Slade found four to his dismay.  Strong hands slid along Dick’s thighs, squeezing once, twice, as some remnant tears slipped through, wetting his cheeks and chest.

“He’s right there, little bird,” Slade whispered, reaching for one of the body scanners Oracle had developed, sitting in one of the drawers.  An x-ray machine without the radiation.  “Watch his breathing and lay back for me.  He’s right there.” 

Dick let himself be laid down, eyes trained on the shallow rise and fall of Jason’s bared chest.  The gunshot wound looked on the verge of infection, angry red around the edges of the barely stitched wound.  He had giant splotches of yellowed bruising down his ribs and hip, trickling down into Jason’s boxers.

A nasty pinch in Dick’s chest had him trying to sit up.

“What the fuck, Slade?”  Dick watched a large needle and syringe being pulled from his ribcage.  Cool liquid spread throughout his chest, sucking away sensation with it.

“You have a punctured lung, kid.  Not too bad but enough that I’ll have to draw the air out from between the tissue layers.”

“Shit… all right,” Dick grumbled through a stuffed nose.  Laid back down.  Went back to watching Jason lying practically motionless as the local anesthesia worked its magic.  Jason was alive.  He was alive and out of the coffin.  Once Dick was patched up, he’d run the blood sample, treat accordingly.  And whatever Pit madness was left, he’d deal with it.

“Fuck,” Dick moaned, feeling the pressure of the needle sliding in between his ribs.  Dick’s hand clamped down on Slade’s shoulder.  “Fuck!”  The plunger drew back, creating a vacuous sensation that seemed to suck his lungs through the needle.  The plunger stopped, Slade’s free hand clamping over his mouth.

“You need to not talk while I’m doing this, little bird.  I might end up stabbing your lung instead.  Understand?”  Slade spoke softly, unbothered by the long needle he had between Dick’s ribs.  Tears stung Dick’s eyes once more, for entirely different reasons, but he nodded, muscles trembling.

Slade resumed pulling the plunger, leaving his hand where it covered Dick’s mouth just in case.  Dick dug his nails into Slade’s wrist but it didn’t faze him.  The suction ripped at his lungs but then it was done, the needle withdrawn.  Slade’s hand slid away, but not before he squeezed his jaw.

“Slow breaths.  No heaving.”

Eyes on Slade, Dick brought in a shuddering breath, pleased that the catch was gone.  But now his eyelids were heavy even as Slade brought a pen light over his face, testing his pupils. 

“Do you know where you are?”

“Safehouse 12, red light district, Gotham,” Dick sighed, bringing a hand up to scrape at his face but Slade grabbed it, wrapping it in his iron grip.

“Squeeze my hand.”  Dick did, as hard as his tired muscles would let him.  Slade released him.

“Bend your knee, all the way.”  Dick did.

“Who am I?”

“A fucking asshole is what you are,” Dick grumbled, glancing back at Jason, who hadn’t moved.

“Fair enough but not what I asked.”

Dick huffed.  “Slade Wilson, alias Deathstroke the Terminator.”

That seemed to be enough for Slade to determine he didn’t have a concussion and moved on to dressing the rest of his wounds.  The longer Dick stared at Jason, the more his chest tightened.  He couldn’t get the sight of Roman hunched over him out of his head.

“Slade,” voice reedy, feeling all the energy drain from his bones the longer he lay there.  “I can’t—still need to—”

“I will take care of your little wing.”  Fingers came to caress his jaw.  “But you need to relax right now.  Before you make your wounds worse.”  A pointer finger circled his Adam’s apple, eyelids heavy.  Dick swallowed.  “Your cracked ribs from a few days ago still aren’t healed.  And neither has that stab wound.”  Dick shifted, helping Slade wrap the bandages around his chest.  “I’ll take care of your little wing.  So, just do what your body tells you.  Sleep.”

The dexterous fingers were back at his cheek, turning his gaze away from where Jason was.  Dick’s lidded eyes blearily focused on Slade’s single grey.

“All right?”

With a frown, Dick couldn’t stop his eyes from closing, leaving Slade in charge of two beat up birds.


The next thing Dick knew, he was bolting upright, skin clammy, chest heaving as an already forgotten nightmare left him shaking.  Immediately, he regretted the sharp motions, ribs throbbing in retaliation, his head not too happy either.  He was still bare chested, but the rest of his suit had been stripped away, replaced with a pair of boxers Slade must have looted from his dresser up in the loft.

“I don’t think forty-five minutes counts as sleep, kid.”  Slade’s voice came from the bay of computers on the opposite side of the med bay.

“H—how did you get into the computers?”  Dick’s voice was shakier than he’d like it to be.

“I’m not going to give all my secrets away,” Slade teased, fingers gliding over the keys.

Dick swung his legs around to the side of the bed, apprehensive of how the cold concrete would burn into his feet.

“If you get out of that bed, I will break your tibia myself to make sure you stay still longer than ten seconds.”  Slade hadn’t even turned from the screens.  And Slade didn’t make idle threats.

Rolling his eyes, stitch in his side, Dick inched back into bed, careful of every twitch.  Fuck, he was so sore.  So sore it was painful to even lift his arm.  The shaking wasn’t stopping, destabilizing every bone in his body as the nightmare remnants lingered on his skin.  It shook out every grounding thought while he listened to the tap of keys from across the way.  Shook everything out until Dick felt hollow, tasted ash on his tongue.  Couldn’t bear to look over at his little wing, afraid that he’d passed while Dick had let himself fucking sleep.

His breath skipped a beat, eyes squeezing so tightly shut he thought he might be able to think that what had happened, didn’t.  A deep wrenching in his bones kept his eyes shut, hands fisting in the single sheet of the medical bed.

Dry, warm skin slid over Dick’s forearms, hands shaping his shoulders with a feathery touch.

“Every time I teach you how to relax, I swear it slips in one ear and out the other.”  Slade’s deep baritone settled somewhere in his chest, drawing out the nightmare.  And the large hands so adept at murder settled on his chest with a gentle caress.  A gentle press.  “Slow down, little bird, or your heart’s going to rip out of your chest.”

Dick tried, doing breathing exercises that Alfred had taught him when he’d been kept up too many nights by the image of his parents plummeting to the dusty floor of the circus tent. But he could only get his heart rate down so much, especially with Jason burning the skin of his right side.  Laying there.  Motionless.

Lips sealed over his, stealing away the tightness in his chest as a surprised noise caught in his throat.  His eyelids fluttered, muscle melting at the tenderness in the touch.  Slade might be an asshole, but he seemed to have Dick’s best interest in mind.  At least while they were alone.  And Slade had no contract.

Well, even if Slade had a contract—Dick’s thoughts stumbled as Slade’s large hand cupped around his jaw, fingers pressing hidden spots to make him open for Slade’s tongue.  It was a soft sound that slipped out of his nose as Slade took what he wanted, exchanging light breaths.  At least until Slade pulled off, leaving wet, slightly reddened lips in his wake.

“There.  Now do you want the blood work report or not.  I haven’t a mind for medical jargon.  The Bat made sure you did.  Or maybe that was the youngest bird,” Slade drawled, dropping a file onto Dick’s stomach as the warmth of his hand left his cheek cold on retreat.

Slade pulled a chair up to Dick’s bedside as he creaked upright, paging through the report.  As Dick squinted at the tiny black print, skimming through for any red flags.  The compound was a mixture of a powerful sedative—derived from fucking ketamine, and a hallucinogenic.  Despite the black pit in his gut, he looked over at Jason, still as stone except for the steady movement of his chest.  He quickly went back to the documents.  Allowed to run its course, the drug would wear off within forty-eight hours.  Jesus fucking Christ.

“Antidote?”

Slade produced a vial filled with clear liquid, tinged red.  “Your fancy fucking computer popped this out.  What I’m assuming is your antidote.” 

“Well then fucking give it to him.”  He hated that his voice cracked in the middle.  Dick discarded the file onto the stack of drawers.

Before Slade moved for a needle and syringe, his fingers wormed their way into Dick’s clenched fist, coaxing his palm open.  Dick watched as Slade’s still swollen lips pressed against his knuckles.  “He’ll be fine, kid.”  Heat blew across the back of his hand.  “And when you’re both back on your feet, we’ll talk about relaxing with your little wing.”

Dick scoffed.  Any other time, he would be blushing, but Jason was too entwined in the taste of death in Dick’s mouth.  “Just do it, please.”

A final swipe of Slade’s thumb, and he pulled away, rummaging for a needle and syringe.  A sick throaty heartbeat sat in Dick’s sternum, thumping aches through his broken bones.  But the red liquid sloughed into the syringe and the needle pricked the crook of Jason’s elbow.  Slade pressed the plunger, the antidote funneling into Jason’s veins.  The needle withdrew, disposed in the sharps container on the floor.

There was nothing, for only a few moments.  Then the med bay turned into chaos.

All of Jason’s muscles thrashed at once, jerking him upright with a guttural scream.  Slade was on him the second he moved.  Dick was out of bed in the next, ignoring the raging pain slicing between his ribs.  Slade had him pinned face down on the bed, knee firmly planted in the small of his back as he jolted, fighting to get free.  The screams echoed in the cavernous warehouse, deafening Dick’s ears while shoving guilt and fear into his heart.  Just beside the burning of his broken ribs and the heat from his most likely ripped open stab wound.

“Haul him up, Slade,” Dick ordered, standing beside Jason’s bed, watching uselessly as Slade obeyed.  Though he had to quickly readjust his hold as Jason’s legs lashed out at Dick, who narrowly avoided taking one to the stomach.  Slade’s well-muscled thighs managed to lock Jason’s legs together in a kneeling position, eye to eye with Dick.  Gathering all his remaining strength, pushing past the pain in his ribs, he lifted his arms and clamped his hands around Jason’s face.

Stilling him, forcing his wild, wicked, empty eyes on Dick.  His pupils were blown out, barely any of that gorgeous blue Dick loved so much.  Jason was still struggling against Slade’s hold, muscles bulging in desperate effort, ragged pants coming through bared teeth.  He looked nothing more than a feral animal.  Was hissing and growling like one too.  Even tried biting at Dick’s hands, but he remained.  Hands pressed on either side of Jason’s red, seething face, dark brows knit together over colorful bruises and barely healed cuts.  Even a few drops of ruby slid from his split lip.

“Jason,” Dick said firmly, flexing his palms.  “Jason, you’re home.  You’re safe.”

Jason twitched, a sudden disparity in the blind fight.  Dick had done this more times than he would have liked to.  Sometimes, on particularly bleak or anxious days, Jason would slip, let the Pit-madness back in, unwanted.  And sometimes when Dick was around to help, he’d up in a knock-down drag-out fight until he had a few bruises and Jason pinned to the floor.  Or locked up.  He’d always found it useful to remind Jason of where he was.  Who he was with.  The amount of agency he had just beneath that madness was there, Dick just had to help guide it back.

“It’s Dick, Jason.  Look at me,” he said, shaking Jason’s head just a little.  “Roman can’t touch you anymore.  You’re with me.”

Another twitch.

“Jason, please,” Dick’s voice cracked, unwarranted.  But seeing Jason like this after knowing where he’d been.  Not knowing what else Roman—fucking Black Mask had put him through.  “Jason, come back.  I’m right here, little wing.”

That evoked a violent shudder.  The thrashing stopped, though Slade did not release his grip.  Teeth still bared, Jason snarled.

“Come on,” Dick coaxed, grip relaxing ever so slightly.  “Come back to me, Jason.  I’m so sorry I let this happen to you.”  Dick didn’t need to see Slade’s face to feel the disapproval on it.  “But you’re out.  You’re in our safehouse, with me.  With Dick.  I’m right here.”

A shaking gasp and Jason’s pupils shrank, leaving him panting and limp in Slade and Dick’s grip.

“Jason?”

“’m here.  Here,” he muttered, gaze hazy as his strength all but visibly leeched from his body.  “’m with you.”

Dick barked a weak laugh, stepping into Slade’s hold to wrap his arms around Jason.

“Jason,” Dick murmured in his hair.  “Jason, I’m so sorry.  I missed your message.  I’m so sorry I didn’t get you out sooner.”

Slade was deftly extricating himself, letting Jason sink back onto his heels on the bed, Dick following, refusing to relinquish his grip. Jason’s clothes had also been replaced with a pair of Dick’s boxers, just barely large enough for Jason’s hips, his thighs bulging at the seams.

“Yeah,” Jason heaved.  “You should be.”  Even through the exhaustion, Dick could read the dry sarcasm, but it didn’t hurt any less.  God, he’d dismissed Jason’s distress message, hadn’t even thought about Jason or his check-in for four days.  He’d let Slade fuck him silly while Jason had been locked in a coffin in a shipping container, slowly going mad.  Fuck.

Dick just wound his arms around Jason’s shoulders, crushing the younger man against him.  It didn’t matter that Dick’s broken ribs were probably breaking some more.  He deserved it.  Jason’s fingers wound their way over Dick’s back, nails scraping lightly.  Soothing.  Dick couldn’t bear the sight of what he’d allowed to happen, so he clenched his eyes shut and buried his nose in the crook of Jason’s neck.  He still smelled like Jason. 

Gun metal and his cologne and pine trees.

His breath hitched again, inching closer to the reassuring warmth and leveling weight of Jason’s massively muscled body.  Dick could never pack on as much muscle as Jason could, always kept lithe and lean for his acrobatic twists and maneuvers—and it led to a size difference that always left his cheeks burning.  His hand slipped up the smooth length of Jason’s scarred back, curling in the short, soft hairs at his nape. 

And just sat.  And breathed in Jason.

“Hey Dick.”  The words were just barely there, touching Dick’s skin.  The sound that came out of his throat was more of a whimper than the acknowledgement Dick had wanted.  “Thanks for coming.”

Dick’s laugh was wet, weak and only urged him to tug Jason closer.  “Yeah.”


Slade was sprawled across the armchair in the living area of the warehouse, just out from under the overhang of the loft where the med bay was nestled.  He had his chin propped on the fingers of one hand, pointer stretched up towards his temple.  His gaze hadn’t left the two sleeping men for hours.

He had planned on trying to move the two younger men up into the loft, into the more comfortable bed, but as soon as they’d stopped speaking, Dick had been lulled into a heavy stupor and Jason wasn’t far behind.  So now the two birds were wrapped around each other, squished onto the thin medical bed only meant for one. 

Slade knew Dick’s injuries had drained him, the fight with that damn meta meat-head too soon after the little bird’s week long stint of sleeplessness.  Could see it in the sleek lines of his body crouched on that rooftop only a few hours ago.  Felt it pressed against his armor as he’d held him at gunpoint to fool that salacious prick Roman into a false sense of security.  Get his dirty hands off of Dick’s little wing.

Who was by no means little. 

The boy practically engulfed Dick, chin tucking over the sweaty black curls.  Jason’s hair was buzzed short around the sides, little frills of black and his white streak left loose on top.  His leg was thrown over both of Dick’s, crooked to curl him close.  And Dick was no better, tucked close into Jason’s mass—which probably wasn’t comfortable given his broken ribs.

Slade hadn’t gotten a chance to do more than a simple visual evaluation of the younger bird before he’d gone ballistic and then eventually passed out with Dick in his arms.  It didn’t look like the kid had any broken bones, just superficial bruising.  And the messily healing gunshot wound.  That would definitely need more attention.  Later.

Dick’s body jerked; a nightmare.  But Jason immediately adjusted, nose ducking down to graze Dick’s forehead.  Dick stilled.

Fuck if Dick wasn’t a wreck.

The kid had barely been able to keep himself from collapsing while Slade had patched him up.  Had barely kept himself together on the journey from the warehouse district.  If Slade hadn’t already been carrying two hundred plus pounds of muscle across his shoulders, he would have slung Dick up as well for how very obviously every step, every breath looked like agony.

And that fucking meta had beat him within an inch of his life.  The kid was enormously stupid for charging in there, fueled on little else than rage and adrenaline.  If Slade hadn’t been there, the kid would have been dead.  Or in the same position his little wing had been in.

Drugged and chained.  At the mercy of Roman fucking Sionis.

Fury boiled low in his chest.  He wanted to track down the Bat and rip him to fucking pieces.  Dick would yell at him for it, but eventually forgive him.  Though there was no real reason to tear into the Bat other than being a neglectful parent. Jason had sent his message only to Dick.  Dick kept his physical state to himself.  The Bat couldn’t have known, unless he was more involved with his kids.

Slade sighed, legs splayed out, one propped on the coffee table. 

Jason’s breathing had normalized, and Dick’s were shallow, indicative of how broken his ribs were.  He didn’t want whatever was fluttering in his chest when he looked at the original little bird, but it was there nonetheless.  That feeling of responsibility, obligation—no, those weren’t the right words, but Slade wasn’t going to find the right ones.  Didn’t want to know what the right ones were.  Not right now.

He slid out of the armchair, resolve to leave those thoughts behind hardening.

As soon as his feet, now free of his boots, touched the ground though the younger bird jerked awake.

“What the fuck?”  It was groggy, tired, but Jason’s eyes widened hand shooting to his thigh.  Most likely for a gun that wasn’t there.

Slade raised his hands in deference.  “I’m here at your brother’s request.  No harm intended,” Slade soothed, waiting till the tension bled from Jason’s shoulders before he approached further.

“Oh.”  Jason turned back over to curl around Dick, sparing Slade no second thoughts.

“The bed upstairs would be more comfortable,” Slade offered, moving to Dick’s side of the bed, placing himself in full view of the warier of the two birds.  There was a single dark blue eye watching him from the swath of curls in which he had buried his nose.

“Why are you here?”

The boy was in good enough shape to tighten his grip around Dick without a flinch.

“I was asked.”  It was a lie.  Though his little bird would be dead if he hadn’t interfered, tracked the little nuisance down and made sure he didn’t kill himself.

“That doesn’t answer my question,” Jason growled, quietly, avoiding waking Dick.  “Why are you here?”

“Same reason you’re clutching my little bird like he’s going to disintegrate.”

Jason bared his teeth, blue eye flaring but he didn’t relinquish his grip.  “Yours?”

Slade jutted his chin, smirk on his lips.  “Mine.

The boy looked near ready to leap off the bed and knock him to the ground, but Dick was suddenly shuddering, fists clenching.  Slade released the enticing challenge, at least on his end to settle his gaze on the tense line of Dick’s body. 

“Like I said, both of you would be more comfortable upstairs,” Slade drawled, and despite the sharp points of the boy’s posture, he leaned down and scooped Dick from his grasp.  Without a second look, he turned away from the med bay to the stairs trailing up to the loft.  Thankfully it was a straight shot and not one of those annoying spiral staircases.  He paused at the foot.  “Can you make it up?”  It was only half a tease.

Soft footfalls answered his question, and Slade continued up the stairs with a shivering bird in his arms.  From how ice-cold Dick’s skin was, the shivering was only partially from whatever nightmare was plaguing him.  At the top of the stairs, Slade stopped, making sure the boy was able to make it up the stairs on his own.  It was slow progress, but there he was, panting, three quarters up the stairs.

A grimace flattened his lips but he turned back to the cozy loft area, taken up by a large, low-profile queen-size bed laid in grey and black cotton.  A black nightstand only on one side with a dresser set against the wall opposite the solid railing from which he’d pilfered the boxers both boys wore.  Slade had wanted those stained boxers Jason wore gone, burnt.

Dick’s lips parted against Slade’s throat, a wordless cry as a violent jerk shook his body.  Slade sat on the edge of the bed, cradling the boy in his lap.  Aware of the panting coming from the staircase, Slade brushed his lips against Dick’s cheek.  And began to murmur soft nothings to him.  Letting his deep voice slip inside his consciousness to uncoil the tension limned throughout.

And it worked, Dick’s body all but melting against him.  Slade couldn’t help but smile to himself.

Jason had finally reached the top of the stairs, huffing, but Slade knew, had he offered help, the boy was too proud to take it.  Satisfied that he had both boys in his sight, he stood with Dick to pull down the covers and place him beneath, arranging the few pillows behind him to take pressure off his ribs.

Slade gestured to the door across from the stairs, gaze still trained on Dick.

“Go shower, kid.  Your brother isn’t going anywhere.” It was as subtle as Slade could make it.  He’d seen the bruises, too hand-shaped to be anything but what he knew they were.  Had seen the dried mess still between the kid’s legs.  Slade had to fight every urge to march out of this warehouse and finish what he’d started with Roman.

He turned to see Jason still standing at the top of the stairs, staring at him, white in the face.

“Go on,” was Slade’s gentle prompt.  The kid didn’t move for a long while, staring down Slade like he could televise his threats through his eyes.  But Slade stood, unfazed, patient until he finally cracked and limped into the bathroom, door shut firmly.

Jason would probably be in there for a while.

Sighing, Slade went back down to the medical bay, retrieving morphine, needle and syringe as well as fresh bandages, antiseptic, antibiotic cream, and magnesium-calcium salve.  He found a printed list tucked in the stack of drawers, Dick’s name along with Jason’s and a few other heroes in black ink, beside dosages of specific drugs stored in the bay.  Quite useful; Slade went under Dick’s name, found the proper dosage of morphine for Dick and tucked the sheet back into the drawer.

Then he carted his stash back upstairs to find the shower running, quiet shuffling the only thing telling Slade the kid hadn’t passed out.  The bathroom door was shut, steam rolling out from under the door.  He debated a moment on checking on Jason, but decided it best to leave him alone to process by himself.  Him and Dick would be here to help with the fallout.

So, Slade moved to the nightstand, arranging his trove of medical supplies before perching on the edge of the bed.  Dick’s eyes were pinched, nose scrunched uncomfortably in sleep and Slade used a thumb to smooth the lines.  Instinctually, Dick leaned into his hand, face relaxing with a deep sigh.  That annoying fluttering was back in his gut.

Slade arranged the sheets so he could access the stab wound near the kid’s hip, the one he’d treated three days ago when Slade had watched him practically fall onto the roof of his safehouse.  He went about peeling back the bandage, finding it seeping blood, crusted and angry around the edges.  Cleaning the wound was a delicate business, and Dick was apparently too tired to even twitch at the sting of antiseptic.  If Dick had gone on any longer with that meta, he might have needed stitches.

Dick remained completely motionless as Slade treated the wound with the antibiotics and applied a new bandage.  Distantly, he heard the shower cut off, more rustling as he drew up a heavy dose of morphine before administering it in the crook of Dick’s arm.  As soon as the syringe was emptied, the tension drained from every line of Dick’s body.  Satisfied with his work, Slade cleaned up, returned everything except the antibiotic cream to the med bay.

And when Slade returned to the loft, ice pack pilfered from the freezer in hand, he found Jason with a towel around his waist, hunched on the edge of the bed. Head in his hands.

“Dick didn’t want me killing Roman,” Slade began.  Jason’s head snapped up, blue-green eyes practically glowing.  Slade placed himself against the sturdy railing-wall separating the loft from a ten-foot drop to the warehouse floor.  “Morals and all.  But I have no qualms about going back and finishing the job.”

It was too dark for any normal human to see the red rimming the kid’s eyes, making the blue of his eyes stark, but Slade wasn’t a normal human.  Those puffy eyes narrowed on him.  “Finish?”

“Shot him in the chest,” Slade clarified.  “About where you have a pretty little bullet hole.”  He nodded towards the exposed stitching on Jason’s right pec.  “You either got really lucky, or someone knew what they were doing.”

Jason’s hand—and if he wasn’t looking, he’d have missed it—trembled slightly as it brushed over the amateur patch job.  His puff of exhalation was weak, almost in amusement.  “It was luck.”

“Lucky you.”  Slade’s arms crossed, settling against his chest as he watched Jason almost absently pick at the bullet wound.  His face was still a mottled blue-yellow, most of the swelling gone as was custom with old bruises, but it still looked uncomfortable.

Jason grimaced, for any number of reasons.  “Lucky me.”  He brought his red-rimmed gaze back up to Slade’s single eye.  “Now are you gonna fuck off, or what?”

“You don’t even want my gift?”  The ice pack flew through the space between them, and frankly Slade was surprised the kid caught it.  Confusion scrunched his brow for a moment before he figured out what Slade had tossed.  “I have nothing better to do with my night, so I’m going to be sticking around.  There’s cream for the gunshot wound on the nightstand.  Besides, it’d be rude of me if my little bird woke up and I wasn’t here.”

The fact that Jason didn’t react to Slade’s jab this time told him the kid was utterly exhausted.  His lips pursed.

“Try not to jostle Dick when you’re settling in.  I’ll be downstairs.” 

Slade pushed off the railing and was barely down the first step when he heard a mumbled, “Thanks.”

Slade only smiled to himself.