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Raindrops, They Cling

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Dick doesn’t know why Deathstroke is in Blüdhaven. Midway through his patrol, he caught a flash of steel and orange in his peripheral vision, and he’d leaped across the rooftops to intercept him. Slade initially seemed exasperated by Nightwing’s interference, but they both know he relishes the fight. 

 

It’s a deadly dance—one they’ve been partnered together for since they first met. 

 

It isn’t storming the way it was all afternoon, but the rain hasn’t let up much. They’re both drenched as they battle one another on the roof of an office building, high above the streets below. Slade doesn’t seem too pressed for time, but if he’s here on a job, he’s going to want to wrap this up before too much longer. He has a reputation to uphold. 

 

Deathstroke is a professional if nothing else. 

 

Still, he can’t resist the draw of taking on Nightwing. Their little game of cat and mouse is probably the main reason Slade takes most of the available contracts in Blüdhaven. Slade loves testing him, and, of course, the sex is an added benefit.

 

For his nonlethal jobs, Slade will usually call ahead. He and Dick will fight and fuck, and Slade will carry out whatever business he has in town. But there are some contracts he takes that he knows Dick will try to derail, so he does what he can to mitigate that by foregoing the advance notice. Sometimes it works, and he’s in and out of the city before Dick realizes he was there, but sometimes Dick manages to catch him off guard.   

 

Dick isn’t able to dodge the next hit, and he can’t regain his balance before he falls. He rolls onto his back, readying himself to leap back up and keep fighting, but then Slade is on top of him, straddling his waist. And suddenly, it isn’t Slade anymore. 

 

He’s on another rooftop, on another rainy night. His suit is slick with blood and water, and the concrete digs into his back as the kevlar is peeled away from his skin. The air smells like a mix of gunpowder, the iron tang of blood, and flowery perfume. Her nails are sharp as they graze against his hips, dragging his uniform down with them. 

 

He can’t move. His limbs are frozen and heavy. Blockbuster is dead. She shot him, and Dick let her. He stood aside. He may as well have pulled the trigger himself. This is his fault. This is his punishment. He doesn’t want this. He doesn’t want this. No. Stop. Please. Catalina, please don’t. 

 

There is rain, and there are two bodies—one of which is his own but feels foreign to him. There is concrete and unwanted pleasure, and Dick feels like he’s suffocating, drowning, choking on the raindrops as they stream down the planes of his face. There are lips on his throat and sweet nothings in his ears.  

 

Dick isn’t very aware of himself, too focused on the heat of the orange-and-black-clad body pressing him down, but he thinks he manages to beg Catalina to stop—a broken, pathetic plea.

 

The body above his freezes.

 

“And who, exactly, is Catalina?” A dark voice growls. Dick feels himself slump in relief. The voice is one he recognizes. It’s not high and feminine, accented with a Spanish lilt to the words; no, this voice is rough and furious, unmistakably familiar. 

 

Slade.

 

Between one heartbeat and the next, Slade moves off of him. Dick sits up, still feeling dazed. He blinks, trying to clear the rainwater from his eyes. His vision blurs, and all he can see are the colors of the figure in front of him. Dick averts his gaze, stomach rolling. He scrambles backward until his back collides with one of the HVAC units on the roof. 

 

He tries desperately to ignore the way Slade looms over him, all muscle and armor and fury. 

 

“The hell was that, kid?” Slade demands. He sounds like he’s ready to drive a sword through Dick’s heart. Dick can’t quite suppress the way he shrinks back from the force of Slade’s anger. He knows the mercenary sees it, but the remark on his visible weakness he’s expecting in response doesn’t come.

 

“Slade,” he starts. The words get stuck in his throat. “Can you take your mask off? Please, I—Her colors were orange and black.” He’s dimly aware of his hands trembling. He doesn’t know if he’s ever sounded so small around Slade. “Please,” he says again, voice cracking.

 

“No,” Slade says, tone flat. Dick closes his eyes and takes a deliberate breath. The oxygen feels thin as it rakes through his lungs.

 

It makes sense, of course. Slade doesn’t care, and why would he? They aren’t lovers—definitely not friends, either. It was stupid to ask and even more stupid to get his hopes up that Slade would oblige him. He’s being ridiculous freaking out over nothing. Slade is interested in Dick as a fighter and as a good lay, not as a person. Emotions have no place in their arrangement. 

 

The quiet that settles over them is heavy—like being pinned down by shock and hips against his, like fingers trailing across his chest, like a woman’s voice murmuring in his ear.

 

Dick needs to be out of the Nightwing suit. He can hardly stand the thought of undressing, but he wants to wrap himself up in one of Bruce’s old tee shirts and a hoodie he stole from Jason. He wants nothing more than to stop feeling the rain against his skin.

 

Except…he can’t. Slade is here on a job, and Dick has to stop him. That’s why he confronted the mercenary in the first place. He’s a hero. There are more important things at stake here than Dick’s problems. He has to get up and fight. 

 

“Can you give me a minute?” he asks, fighting to keep his voice level. “You can go back to kicking my ass after I get my shit together.”

 

“Not unless you explain to me what just happened,” Slade replies, folding his arms over his broad chest. Sometimes Dick forgets just how much of a stubborn asshole he can be. 

 

“I don’t owe you an explanation.”

 

“And I don’t owe you a break, kid.”

 

The laugh Dick lets out is bitter and sardonic, a twisted, ugly thing.

 

“Fine,” he snaps. He rises to his feet with none of his usual grace. Before he can blink, Slade sweeps his feet out from under him again, knocking him back down. The breath in his lungs escapes him, leaving Dick wheezing as Slade presses a boot against his chest and levels a sword at his throat. 

 

Dick bares his teeth at the mercenary, furious and off-balance in more ways than one. 

 

“I’m here on business,” Slade says. “If this is all you have to offer, then we’re done here.” 

 

“Oh, fuck you,” Dick snarls.

 

“That can be arranged.”

 

Logically, Dick knows he couldn’t do anything to stop Slade if it came down to a serious fight. He’s already down, and he’s painfully distracted. They both know it. If Slade really wanted, he could just…take.

 

Would he?  

 

Dick knew from the first time he fell into bed with Slade that he was playing with fire. Slade is a mercenary. He’s dangerous, and he has little regard for the lives of the people around him. Their relationship—if it could even be called a relationship—is a tenuous one, at best. He and Slade are at odds often enough for Dick to understand how stupid of an idea it is to let himself get tangled up with him, but Dick has never been one to look before he leaps. It’s always been a likely possibility that things would end poorly between them.

 

“I didn’t come here for you, but if that’s how you want to play this, then you need to be put in your place.” Slade hums, considering. Dick can’t breathe around the lump in his throat. “I think I can put that mouth of yours to better use. On your knees, kid.” 

 

Dick can’t move—can hardly think around the panic. Slade isn’t a patient man, but Dick is frozen in place, keeping him waiting. He doesn’t even know if it’s worth it to refuse. But the thought of willingly letting Slade fuck him right now…

 

Would it be worse to tell him no and to endure as Slade takes him anyways? 

 

He can’t stand the thought of doing anything. Equally unappealing is the thought of doing nothing.

 

“Look at me.” It’s an order that leaves no room for argument. Dick reluctantly looks up, throat brushing against the sharp edge of the sword in Slade’s hand. Then, “If you’d prefer to stay where you are now, we can skip ahead to the main event.” 

 

He sheathes the sword and kneels down, hands drifting to Dick’s ass. Slade hauls Dick halfway into his lap, pressing their hips together. Dick can’t see his face, but he can imagine Slade’s leer as his gaze roams over Dick’s body—hungry, ready to devour. Dick feels so small, so caged within Slade’s arms.

 

“Are you feeling shy, little bird?” Slade tuts, mocking and amused. “Do you want to undress yourself, or should I do it for you?” 

 

He doesn’t wait for any reply Dick can’t give—no matter how desperately wants to give one to him. Hands reach for the catches of his suit with intent. Orange and black loom above him. Dick is on his back on a roof, covered in rainwater, and he can’t breathe. His chest is exposed to the rain and the open air, and he whines, high and frightened. The only response he gets is a low chuckle. 


Catalina, Slade, feeling helpless, rain, concrete rough against his back, hips against his. The past and present blur together and make him dizzy. Something in his heart breaks, cracks apart within his chest, and he sobs. 

 

“Please, stop.” The words are strangled, bordering on terrified, as they leave him. They hang in the air between them for a long, tense moment. Dick opens his mouth to apologize, horrified at making everything so much worse for himself. Shame and fear churn together in his stomach. 

 

He’s not sure what he’s expecting, but by the surprise he feels when Slade stops, he doesn’t think he was anticipating actually being listened to.

 

Slade pauses, leaning back. This is their normal game, but Dick just can’t make himself play the role he’s accustomed to. He’s never begged for Slade to stop before now. He feels like a cornered animal under the weight of Slade’s scrutiny. A gloved hand drifts to his jaw, tilting his face up. Tears are streaming down his cheeks, mingling with the rain already wet against his skin. The quiet burns.

 

“I’m sorry,” Dick murmurs. “I’m sorry, not here, please. You can do whatever you want, I promise. I can’t. I can’t.” He struggles through another shallow breath. “Not again.”

 

“You want me to take you somewhere else,” Slade says slowly. Dick nods, and Slade hums. “Want it badly enough to let me do my work without interfering?” 

 

It’s a good question, Dick supposes. He knows he’s more of a thorn in Slade’s side than anything else, and if he’s vulnerable enough to be convinced to stay out of the way, Slade will take the opportunity. It’s his job to protect people, though. He has to defend his city. But at the price of letting himself get fucked right here and now?

 

Dick hates himself for saying yes. 

 

The trip to Dick’s closest safe house is quiet and tense. Dick disarms the security at the window and slips inside, followed closely by Slade. The living room is dark, but Dick doesn’t move to turn on a light. He’d rather not see anything at the moment. 

 

“This won’t take long,” the mercenary says. “I’ll be back.”

 

And then he’s gone. 

 

Dick takes a shuddering breath and moves to his bedroom to finally strip off the Nightwing suit. He changes into his pajamas and sits down on the bed, too exhausted to do anything else. All he has to do now is wait for Slade to get back to take what he wants. Dick can fall apart afterward. 

 

He’s not sure how much time passes before Slade returns, smelling like blood and smoke. Dick doesn’t move to greet him, so he moves toward the bed himself, standing over Dick and studying his expression. He finally takes the mask off, and Dick pretends it isn’t a relief to actually be looking into Slade’s face. 

 

“How do you want me?” The question comes out hushed, reluctant.

 

“You promised anything I want,” Slade reminds him. Dick nods and hopes the mercenary doesn’t notice the way his hands are trembling in his lap. “I want you honest, little bird.” 

 

He removes one glove and uses a warm, calloused hand to tilt Dick’s jaw up until he makes eye contact. There’s a possessive gleam in Slade’s icy blue eye. 

 

“I just have two questions for you. Who is Catalina, and what happened to you out there tonight?” Dick hesitates, and Slade’s eye narrows. “You told me you wouldn’t interfere with my job and that I could do whatever I want with you. If you don’t hold up your end of our bargain, I could always drag you back to that rooftop.” 

 

Dick knows when to concede defeat.

 

“Her name is Catalina Flores. Do you remember Roland Desmond?” 

 

“Blockbuster?”

 

“Yeah, that’s him. It was raining the night he died. Catalina shot him in front of me. Then,” he takes a breath, steeling himself. “Then she followed me outside to one of the rooftops and raped me.” 

 

“Catalina Flores,” Slade says, voice thoughtful, and Dick knows he’s signed her death warrant. He doesn’t really know if he cares all that much, and the guilt of his conflicting emotions swims around in his gut. 

 

“Who do you want with you right now, kid?” Slade asks. Dick raises a brow, and Slade’s eye rolls, like he thinks Dick is some sort of moron. “I know you, Grayson. You need people. So pick someone.” 

 

“I don’t want anyone to worry.” Dick shrugs. “No one else knows, anyways. I’ll be fine on my own once you’re done with me.”

 

“You think that’s still happening?” 

 

He’s as surprised as he is grateful when Slade’s hand falls away from his face and he steps back, so he’s not crowding into Dick’s space anymore. Still, the unexpected move leaves him feeling off-kilter. He can’t let Slade think he’s about to give up on his part of their deal.

 

“I thought you wanted to have sex?” Dick asks, genuinely confused. He grimaces at his own phrasing. What a stupid thing to say.

“Not tonight,” Slade replies. “It’s more fun for me to make you want it. I want you fully present when I fuck you, not stuck in your own head with your demons.” 

 

“Oh,” he says, feeling simultaneously hollowed out and brimming with far too many thoughts and emotions. “Does this mean you’re leaving?” 

 

“Do you not want me to leave?” The question is followed by a disbelieving snort. Dick can see his point. Slade nearly took things too far tonight, but he didn’t. Dick clings to that truth. He decides to push his luck, just a little bit. 

 

“I…don’t want to be alone right now,” he admits, feeling far more vulnerable than he ever has with Slade before. “Not until the rain stops.”

 

The bed dips as Slade sits down next to him, not close enough to touch. He rests his hand, palm up, on the blanket between them, a silent invitation. 

 

“Until the rain stops, then.” 

 

“Why?” Dick doesn’t want Slade to reconsider, but he doesn’t understand what the mercenary is thinking by staying with him. This isn’t how their relationship works.   

 

“Because you’ve never looked so scared of me before tonight, little bird.” 

 

“I’m sorry. Normally, none of this would’ve bothered me.”

 

Of course, he knows that Slade is well aware of that fact from prior experience, but it feels better to speak the words into existence. 

 

“I know now.” 

 

He says it like it’s that simple, and maybe it is that easy for Slade, but everything still feels so overwhelming and awful to Dick. It’s insurmountable—a height too daunting for even the last Flying Grayson. His hands still tremble in his lap. After a long moment of quiet, less stifling now than it was, Dick slowly reaches over and slots his fingers together with Slade’s. 

 

“Thanks,” Dick says, hushed. 

 

“You’re mine,” Slade replies. He manages to sound both fiercely possessive and matter-of-fact at once. It’s familiar territory, an offer to slip back into their usual dynamic. 

 

“Only on clear nights,” Dick says, trying to adopt a lighter tone. The joke is weak, but the corners of Slade’s mouth twitch upward, regardless.

 

“Mine—with a few concessions,” Slade amends. 

 

It’s Dick’s turn to let the banter erode at the awful memories clinging to his skin. He can’t quite offer a smile, but he feels more settled. He’s more Dick Grayson than he is victim. He glances down at their intertwined fingers, feeling the callouses against his knuckles as he admires the way Slade’s hand completely envelopes his own. As contradictory as it seems, Slade feels like security in a way nothing and no one else has for a long time.

 

The hand holding his is dangerous—capable of extreme violence—but it’s also warm and steady, and for now, it’s enough.