Slade had been drawn to the rooftop by the fading scent of sex and sounds of quiet sobbing but the latter cut off the second he set foot on the building. A quick scan of the terrain showed only the shadows of the tower as an adequate hiding space.
“I know you’re there.” He rumbled, annoyed. He wasn’t in the mood to play any games, “Come out.”
There was a pause before some hasty shuffling. After a moment, the traffic light costume of the batbrat came into view.
“Deathstroke.” His voice shook but his tone was light; forced. “I didn’t know you were in town.” Obviously trying for levity.
“Just passing through.” He gave the boy a once over. Took in the disheveled clothing, mussed hair. Was that a bite mark on his neck? “You look fucked out.” He smirked. “Have a good time?”
The boy flinched. “Something like that,” came the quiet answer. Slade remembered the crying and took a second, more thorough assessment. Noticed the drying moisture of hastily wiped away tears.
“You alright, kid?” He asked, slowly.
“I’m always alright.” The boy flashed him a brittle, cocky grin.
“Yeah, I'm calling bullshit.” He stalked over and Robin backed up hastily until he was pressed against the wall. “I’m not gonna hurt you.” He growled as he inspected the boy. The kid didn’t look injured but was holding himself like he was in pain.
“What do you want?” Robin spit out, brazen insolence covering unmistakable anxiety.
“I can tell you’re in pain but as far as I can see you’re not injured.” Slade stated flatly. “So what hurts?”
“Why do you care?” He shot venomously.
Kid had a point. Normally, he wouldn’t. But there was something about the boy - something about the situation - that rang all kinds of alarm bells in his head. He didn’t like it. Needed to figure it out. Needed to make sure the runt was safe.
Slade grunted, “You’re just a kid. I don’t beat up on kids. Should I send a message to Bats? Get him out here?”
“No!” The shout surprised him. Look like it surprised the boy too but he settled himself, “No, I’m fine. Just… leave me alone.” The last was said hollowly, like he was used to being left alone. Like he expected it but didn’t like it.
He was almost insulted. If the kid actually knew him, he would have been.
“I’m not going to leave a hurt kid alone on a rooftop in Gotham.” Slade informed him, bluntly, “I don’t care how trained you are. Now, I can call Bats or you can tell me what hurts and we can fix it up so you can get home.”
A bitter smile stretched across Robin’s face as he looked at the ground. “You said it yourself.” He stated. “I looked ‘fucked out’. What do you think hurts?” He wiped his nose on his sleeve, avoiding eye contact.
Slade took a step back. Christ, the kid couldn’t be more than fourteen and he certainly didn’t look like he was happy with the situation. He wiped a hand over his face and prepared himself to ask the next question, knowing that doing so meant he was getting involved. Fuck, he hated getting involved.
“Did you… agree to it?”
The boy was still for a moment before shrugging and giving a hesitant nod.
That… that was not enthusiastic consent. That was - Fuck, did he need to have a consent talk with the kid? He didn’t sign up for this shit.
“Yeah, I’m calling Bats.”
There was no way he could, even in his minuscule good conscious, leave this kid that had just obviously been sexually assaulted alone on a roof. In fucking Gotham City. The boy needed his dad. He grabbed his phone out of his pocket but an arm reached out lightning-fast and snatched it.
Flabbergasted, he just gaped at the boy a moment. The balls on this kid… He was goddamn Deathstroke! Shaking his head, he darted after him.
“You can’t call B!” Robin ducked under his arm as he made a grab for his phone.
“He needs to know you’re hurt and I’m obviously not the one to deal with this shit.” Slade growled. He couldn’t believe he was even playing this game right now. He had more dignity than this.
“He doesn’t care.” The kid ducked another swipe but finally fell to a feint.
“Of course he does. You’re his Robin.” The mercenary dragged the kid against his chest and plucked the phone from his fingers. “He’ll probably hunt the bastard down, too.” He started to key through his contacts, easily holding the struggling boy with one arm.
“It was him!” The boy’s voice cracked and he slumped in the mercenary’s grip.
Slade stopped dialing. Shock suffusing every inch of his body.
“What?” There’s no way that -
“It was Batman.” The boy said quietly.
Was he going to have to kill a Batman tonight?
“Batman raped a thirteen-year-old? His thirteen-year-old?”
The boy flinched. Then, red-faced, he defended, “I’m fifteen, not thirteen. I’m not his! And it wasn’t… it wasn’t!”
“Sure kid. It wasn’t. Want to tell me what it was?” Slade asked, voice bland.
The boy was silent for a few moments but his breath never slowed. “Not… not that.”
“Why not that?” He put the same emphasis on the word that the kid did. Fuck, he was going to have to have that consent talk. He could just feel it.
And the Adults Don’t Fuck Kids talk. But that one he’d be having with Bruce-fucking-Wayne. And there would be very little actual conversation.
“It was…” The boy swallowed. Jason, right? Grayson had told him the kid’s name once. “It was my idea. My deal. My way of paying him back.”
Paying him back? What in the ever-loving fuck had Batman done? If this was going where he thought it was going, Slade was wondering who the villain really was.
“Your deal?” Slade asked flatly. It was getting difficult to contain the rage brewing in his belly but he’d had a lot of practice over the years.
“Deal for what?”
“To stay.” The boy - Jason - whined. “I mean… food and books and school and a bed and-”
“Stop!” Slade quieted him and looked around. This was going to be a conversation. He picked the boy up - ignoring the squawk- and sat them both down by the wall, settling Jason against his chest. He kept his arm around the kid’s chest to keep him from bolting. “Now you can keep going. What about this deal to stay?”
Haltingly at first, then like a flood Slade learned how Jason had come to be Robin at eleven years old. How, scared of the lack of permanency of his placement, he had offered himself to Batman in ‘repayment’ and agreement to keep him. How Batman had seemed hesitant at first to take him up on that but had eventually grown... enthusiastic.
He listened to every word and every horror. Even though Jason didn’t seem to realize that’s what they were. Fury rising with each new revelation. He would be surprised at the ease the information flowed out of the boy if he hadn’t seen it before. Sometimes, all a child needed was someone to ask; someone to notice. It was like a poison - desperate to be expelled.
“He uses it as a punishment, now. If I’ve done something he doesn’t like.” Jason said looking up at the clouds, at the wall, at the concrete beneath them. He hadn’t looked at Slade the entire time he had talked. Ashamed and embarrassed. “He knows what I hate or don’t like and uses it like a weapon.”
“Do you like any of it?”
The boy tensed and nodded slowly.
“No shame in enjoying what you can.” Slade stated calmly and felt Jason relax a little. Sympathy stirred in his chest. Slade wondered how much the boy hated himself for finding pleasure in any of it. How much he blamed himself for. He’d bet it was a lot.
It would be hard to live with that if you were constantly ashamed of yourself. It’s not like you could fight your body’s natural reactions. No matter how much you might want to.
“He’s never going to let me go.” The kid shuddered. “Not like Dick. I know too much.”
“Do you want to leave?” Slade asked evenly. Like he was going to ever let that kid step foot in Wayne Manor again.
It was interesting that the kid seemed to think that he was just going to let him go back. That he seemed to think he was not going to do something about what he’d learned… How many people had failed the boy?
“I didn’t use to.” He admitted quietly. “It didn’t use to be anything awful. A handjob here or there. A blowjob sometimes. Nothing worse than what I’d have to do - what I did - on the streets anyway. And a way better place to stay… and Robin. Even when he started fucking me it was only every once in a while. It was fine. But now… I don’t know what changed but it’s awful and I don’t know how much more I can take and every time I try to get out of it or say no to something he drags up that it was my idea and I can’t do this anymore, I don’t know what to do but I can’t leave he won’t let me leave-” Jason choked and all the tears he’d been trying to hold back broke through. He started sobbing.
Slade shifted them so the boy was leaning against his shoulder and let him cry while he planned.
As much as he wanted to, he couldn’t just kill Bruce-fucking-Wayne. Not without having the whole Justice League on his ass in no time flat. He idly wondered if he could get any evidence of what Jason was saying but knew that the chances were slim to none. Batman was thorough if nothing else. He’d have protected himself against the possibility of something just like this happening.
So death and prosecution were out.
He could, however, ruin the man.
It would have to be done carefully, though.
He idly wondered if he could get Dick to grab some of the kid’s things when Wayne inevitably called him back to Gotham to help search for his missing bird. Perhaps it would be better to start fresh. He’d ask Jason, after getting the boy settled, if there was anything irreplaceable he needed retrieved.
If there wasn’t, there was no need. He had enough money he could supply anything the kid wanted.
Speaking of Dick - Slade thought back to all their interactions. There had been no signs of this kind of abuse on Dick. That didn’t mean there hadn’t been, though. He was going to have to pay the first Robin a visit. For now... He looked at the shaking sobbing boy next to him. Well, he was glad he was prepared for all kinds of situations.
He sedated Jason easily. Getting him to a safe house and the fuck out of Gotham entirely was going to be the challenge. But he was Deathstroke and if anyone was up to the task, he was.