A Lesson Learned
Robin walked into the same large room that he had dropped the file off in. It was their "base" room, or so they called it. It was where Robin came to receive missions, plan tactical moves, report things, etc. It was basically their work room, where most of their operations were planned, except for on a few rare occasions. He spent most of his time there and had become very familiar with it; it was practically his second bedroom.
The room was rectangular and very long. Most of the walls were lined with work benches that held various objects, most of them broken weapons or prototypes that Slade was working on. In the center of the room was a large square table with two chairs, one on each end. In front of each chair was a small screen that they could use as a computer. This was where they sat to discuss missions and plans. At the far end of the room was Slade's desk/work table. There were several large filing cabinets that lined the wall next to it, each filled with documents and blueprints. Slade had another "private" office somewhere else in the building, but Robin had never seen it. He learned not to go snooping around Slade's stuff, something that he had gotten punished for a lot at the beginning of his apprenticeship.
Above the desk were three large screens that showed mostly security camera footage, but occasionally showed digital blueprints or footage of their targets. On the far right end of the room was a large metal door with no handle. A keypad and face recognition scanner was the only way to open the door and it only opened for Slade. Through the door was a large room filled with weapons of every kind, from manual weapons such as staffs and blades, to automatic weapons such as guns and explosives. Whenever Robin would go on a mission, Slade would open the room and let him choose his weapons, provided that he approved of his choices.
Robin was supposed to meet Slade in the base room after his training; he trained alone on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. After a year, Slade no longer saw a need to train Robin every day; he could train by himself sufficiently. Of course, Slade still trained him twice a week, just to make sure he was keeping up with his technique. Slade was standing at the head of the table, waiting for Robin's arrival so that they could start the meeting. He needed to debrief Robin on some important plans. Upon seeing Robin, he sat down and placed his hands on the desk. Robin's face was flushed and sweat dripped down his cheek; he must have just come from training. He sat down, his expression passive, and looked at Slade.
"I assume that you were running late and could not shower?" Slade asked, noting Robin's less than presentable appearance. Robin did not reply, but turned his attention to the screen in front of him. Most of the files and documents that Slade showed him were on the computer, he rarely had paper records handed to him. "Let us get started then," Slade said as he began to type on his screen.
"Our first order of business: the assassin. The file that you retrieved for me from Mark Tollera proved useful in the search." Robin thought back to the poor man that he had had the fortune of meeting… and killing… two days ago. "In fact, his bodyguard," he looked down at the screen, searching for the name, "…Bryan Jervaise… was who led me to the answer." Slade scrolled across several documents. "You see, Bryan, like the idiot he was, decided it best to suggest hiring his own sibling to his boss, thus making them easier to track." He sent a file to Robin which appeared on his screen moments later. "Yvette Bouyan," Slade said. Robin looked at the profile for a moment before looking up at Slade.
"A woman?" Robin asked, looking back down at the picture. The woman had a very thin face and thick, long black hair; she was actually quite beautiful.
"A high profile assassin; one who took out our target and one who needs to be taken care of," Slade stated. Robin looked over her stats; she seemed to be very highly trained with weaponry, specifically blades. He looked over the list of her jobs performed and recognized the names of several world leaders who had been assassinated over the past few years. This would not be an easy target. "She is of high priority right now and we cannot move on with our plans with her out there. I am sure that she received word that her brother was murdered and I am certain that she will not be happy." Robin finished reading her profile and looked to Slade.
"So, she and Jervaise are siblings? How is that so?" he asked. They did not share a last name; did she change her name when she became an assassin? Slade looked over at him, his face in amazement from the stupidity of the question.
"Half-brother, they have different fathers and thus different last names. Any more intelligent questions before we continue?" Slade asked, his voice practically dripping with sarcasm. Robin just passed it off, he was used to being spoken down to, it was normal for him. He actually would feel out of place if someone spoke to him kindly.
"Am I going to be taking her out on my own? I see that she is extremely skilled," Robin pointed out. He was good, but so was she. He wasn't certain how long it would take him to kill her.
"We will discuss plans about her assassination tomorrow; right now we need to move on." Slade sent Robin a new document and Robin started reading through it. "As for Victor Wyatte, I have acquired a list of his men. Along with that is the location and blueprints of his hideout. As you should know, it is heavily guarded, but it is nothing that we haven't done before." Robin continued to look over his profile; they had been studying this man for months now.
Victor Wyatte was the major crime boss in the city. He ran all organized crime throughout the city and the state of New York. The drug cartels reported to him, the mafia reported to him, even the city government reported to him. He owned everything and everyone, and that was why Slade wanted him dead. Over the past two years, Robin and Slade had been secretly taking over major cities in every important country across the world. They would start by taking down the drug cartels and picking away at the mafia until they found the leader that controlled it all. Then, they would take him down and take his place.
After replacing the dominate crime boss, they would then run the organized crime quietly from the next city. And so that was their routine, infiltrate, take down, move on. At the moment, Slade was controlling at least seven cities and their surrounding areas. Some cities were easier to gain control of and only took them a few weeks. Others, like New York, took months to finish. It just depended on the strength of the system that each crime boss had created.
"I intend to finish the mission within the next month; I would like to move on to Paris soon. I have received word that it is very weak over there and thus an easy target for us." Slade began swiping through various files on Victor, calculating his next move.
"Do you think that we will be ready within a month?" Robin asked and Slade looked up at him. It was a perfectly good question. They were not exactly as close as they normally would be to begin a take down. Plus, they had the assassin to take care of.
"At the rate we are going, yes. I do realize however, that Yvette set us back in our plans. Since she took out our target, our message was not sent to Victor. As of now, he has no idea that we have been picking off his men. That is why I would like us to meet here every day at seven p.m. sharp. We will work until eleven every night until we are ready to strike. Even on Sundays," he added. Sundays were Robin's day off, though he was limited to what he could do. Slade had reasoned that letting Robin out would make him feel like less of a prisoner, but it just ended up making him feel more like one. During the beginning of his apprenticeship, he was required to stay in their hideout, but as Slade began to trust him, he was allowed to go out. Of course, Slade didn't let him out until he was certain that he had broken him. The moment that he had walked back to the base on his own was when Slade knew that Robin was truly his. It was a true moment of victory and he relished it with every fiber of his being.
Robin was given a certain range of distance that he was allowed to go; of course the usual rules applied: no contacting anyone, no escaping, etc. He normally just walked around, but sometimes he would watch people at malls. He didn't know exactly why, but something about watching other people be happy interested him. Of course, when there was a mission that happened to fall on a Sunday, he would lose his day off.
"We will begin the new schedule tomorrow; you will have to move your combat practice back to three and cancel your French studies until further notice." Slade was peering at Robin over his screen, making sure that he was taking note of the change. "I am sending you a new schedule right now." Robin looked over his schedule; he was going to be losing his Sundays for the next month. "Any questions?" Slade asked.
"No," Robin replied, his voice as emotionless as ever.
"Then you may leave." Robin shut his screen and stood up. He was ready to eat dinner after working so hard today in the gym. He didn't particularly enjoy food, but it occupied time, which was all he cared about. "Oh and Robin," Slade murmured. Robin turned around and looked at his master. "I have a mission for you," he threw a file across the table, "I expect you to complete itafterour meeting." With that, Robin grabbed the file and walked out of the room.
-Almost two years ago-
It had been one week since Robin had been taken prisoner by Slade and he was already frantically searching for a way to escape. His only problem was whether or not Slade's threat was real. He wasn't quite certain and went back on forth on the issue. He had to be exaggerating. Even if it was real, he wouldn't do it on Robin's first try, would he? Robin was going insane already. All he did was train while Slade criticized his form and technique. Though, one couldn't forget all the beatings he had already gotten from talking back. They were becoming a part of his daily routine. He knew that they would stop if he just submitted without question, but he couldn't let that happen. He would not just accept this as his fate! This was not where he belonged! He belonged with the Titans. With his friends!
Robin had kicked the heavy bag for the last time and Slade told him to go take a five minute break. They had been training for five hours already and Robin was exhausted. He always thought that he was in pretty good shape, but Slade had managed to prove him wrong. It was almost embarrassing, for both parties. Slade watched as Robin walked to the corner to get water. He was drenched in sweat and panting heavily. Was this seriously all that he had? He must have gotten lazy over the past year and it was unacceptable! He was going to have to fix that, and fast, if Robin was going to be of any use. Slade wanted to be in Berlin within two months and Robin was in no condition to begin his work as an assassin. Not only was his body weak, but he had no training with guns whatsoever. Slade had his work cut out for him and was not happy about it.
"Break's over, get back over here and fix your form!" His kicks had been week and his toes were way too turned in, he was going to end up breaking his foot. Robin huffed his way over and stood in front of the bag. "Fix your stance! You can't fix your kicks if you aren't even standing correctly." Robin was becoming extremely sick of being talked down to, especially in that smooth, annoying voice. He missed his friend's encouraging voices; he missed Cyborg's motivational speech and Starfire's enthusiastic encouragement. He missed the sound of her voice in his ears, so sweet and beautiful.
"Kick higher," Slade commanded. Robin was becoming frustrated beyond all belief and just started to kick the bag with all of his strength. "You are hopeless. You are becoming flustered and your form is suffering because of it." Slade grabbed Robin's leg on the next kick and turned his foot out. "How do you expect to defeat an opponent when you fall apart under pressure? Do you think that this is how professionals behave? You are going to get murdered if you don't start concentrating!" Robin pulled his leg out of Slade's grip and fell to the floor.
"So what?! At least then I wouldn't have to live with you anymore!" At this, Slade became furious. He walked towards Robin, who started to crawl backwards before kicking himself up onto his feet. Slade sideswiped Robin's legs, but Robin jumped at the last minute. He retaliated with a punch, which Slade caught.
"See? Poor form," Slade pointed out. Robin tried to pull his arm away, but Slade flipped him around and twisted his arm until he fell to the floor. Robin's arm felt like it was going to split in two any moment and Slade tightened his grip. "All of your complaining is just harming you, so I would suggest shutting your mouth before you regret it." He threw Robin to the ground and walked back to the bag. Robin sat on the floor, staring furiously at Slade. "Get up and kick the bag," he demanded.
"NO!" Robin yelled. He was done! He wasn't going to do this anymore. He didn't care what happened; Slade was just going to have to deal with it. Slade took a step forward and stared Robin down.
"Get up and kick the bag," he said, his voice low and dangerous. Robin stood up and crossed his arms.
"NO." That was it, Slade was done. He thought that Robin would have heeded his warning, but it looked like he was going to have to teach him a lesson. He didn't expect it to happen so soon though. He threw Robin to the floor and kicked him in the stomach, knocking the air out of his lungs. As Robin laid there heaving and desperately trying to breathe, Slade grabbed his arms and dragged him down the hall. Robin began to kick and fight against him, but he had too firm of a grip on his wrists.
"LET ME GO! Let me go, you lunatic!" Robin yelled as Slade dragged him down the hall. They arrived at a door and Slade opened it with one hand while holding both of Robin's wrists in the other. He threw him against the back wall and walked out of the room, locking the door behind him. Robin looked around at the room; it was completely white from the walls to the tile and there were no windows. He felt like he should be in a strait jacket. Was this Slade's punishment? Solitary confinement? Robin could handle that; he could even come up with an escape plan while he sat there.
Robin had been sitting in that room for what seemed like a day. He was going insane! He was starving and his stomach was making very loud grumbling noises. He was also desperate to use a bathroom; he was seriously debating about peeing in the corner across the room. There was no sound in the room and he couldn't tell time. For all he knew, he could have been in there for only a few hours. He felt like he was in the void of space, just filled with light instead of darkness. He had assumed that Slade would be back reasonably soon, but he was sorely mistaken. This really was punishment and Robin was now regretting his actions. Why did he not just get up and kick the damn bag?!
He heard a click and the door swung open. Robin stood up, preparing to bolt out of the door to find a bathroom, when he saw that Slade wasn't alone. Standing next to him was a young boy, most likely no older than ten. He was sniffling and his face was covered in tear tracks. His eyes were light blue, despite being bloodshot from crying. He had very untidy, scruffy brown hair and his clothes looked to be a size too large. He was very pale and brown freckles lined his nose and forehead. They were so light that they almost looked like he had specs of dirt on his face. The young boy looked so tiny and frail next to Slade. His head reached Slade's midsection and his waist was about the size of Slade's arm.
Slade walked him further into the room after shutting the door behind him. The boy was whimpering and Slade tightened his grip on his arm; he would certainly have bruises later on. Robin's mind immediately jumped to one conclusion and he looked at the boy with fear, praying that his assumption was wrong. The boy was so young; he looked to be around the same age that Robin was when he had lost his parents. He honestly reminded Robin a lot of himself when he was that age: scared, alone, weak. Slade wouldn't, the boy was too young, he couldn't!
"You see this young man?" Slade asked the little boy, indicating towards Robin. "He is the reason that you are going to die." The boy started to cry profusely and Robin looked at him in shock. Slade wouldn't! He couldn't! The boy was so innocent! And all because Robin wouldn't kick a heavy bag? Slade pulled out a large handgun from his back holster and pointed it at the boy's head, the whole time looking at Robin.
"NO! STOP!" Robin shouted. He had to stop him, he had to. "I'm sorry! I'll listen from now on! I promise! Just, please stop!" Robin pleaded. He could not witness this. This was just plain evil! Slade pressed the gun against the boy's head, causing him to start screaming in fear. "SLADE! STOP! I will do whatever you say! Please, just STOP!" Robin was getting desperate, he had no weapons on him and he knew that if he made a move towards Slade, it would be the last thing that the child ever saw.
"It is too late Robin; I told you that there would be no warnings. Maybe next time you will think before you act," Slade said, his voice eerily calm. Slade cocked the gun and Robin began to run towards him.
"NOOOOO!" –BANG- Robin stopped in his tracks, his body going into shock. Everything felt like it was in slow motion. The boy fell to the floor and Robin watched as blood began to pour out of his head. That didn't just happen, he didn't just see that.
"Perhaps now, you will heed my warning," Slade said. He turned around and walked out of the room, locking the door behind him. He figured that he would let Robin sit in the room for a while to really let it sink in. This should make him more obedient. Slade didn't normally kill children, but he figured that it would be best for the lesson that he was teaching. Now, Robin would have innocent blood on his hands and Slade knew that he would do anything to prevent it from happening again. Slade was quite pleased with himself; he was certain that he was a large step closer to breaking Robin. After all, everyone has a breaking point, including the boy wonder.
Robin fell to his knees, staring in shock at the horror across from him. It was his fault, all his fault! That child died because of him, because he couldn't just do what Slade asked… No! He would not take the blame! It was Slade who killed the kid, not Robin! He is the psychopath! …But he did warn Robin, and Robin ignored it. Why couldn't he have just listened?! That boy did not deserve to die because of him. He may not have pulled the trigger, but he was the reason that the child was dead. It really was all his fault; there was no denying it…
A pool of blood was forming around the body and making its way towards him. He began to crawl backwards, not wanting the blood to reach him. The child really did remind him of himself as a young boy. Did Slade do that on purpose? Did he pick a young child so remnant of Robin for some kind of poetic justice thing? Except that it wasn't justice, it was the exact opposite. Robin was now curled up in a ball in the corner of the room, his body going numb and his face blank from disbelief.
Slade came to retrieve him several hours later and was forced to carry him out of the room. Robin was too much in shock from what he had witnessed to even respond to Slade. After that, Robin wasn't the same. He wasn't broken yet, not by a long shot, but he had definitely lost the fight in him. He no longer fought against his training, against Slade. He had learned his lesson.