Mens rea

Going against the flow

The next time Robin woke up, his eyes were greeted to a serious Egyed. The doctor had his semi-clammy hand on his forehead while the other was checking his pulse on his wrist. Shifting slightly underneath the blanket, Robin fought back a yawn.

Egyed noticed the small movement and flicked his green eyes to Robin. "Well, good evening. It's about time you woke up."

Blinking to clear away the grit, Robin licked his lips to notice that they were chapped. "H-how long?"

"You've been asleep for a couple days, which did wonders for you." Pulling back his hands, Egyed picked up his clipboard on Maura's desk. The woman, Robin noticed immediately, was nowhere to be found. The boy felt his eyes widen, his breath picking up at the disappearance of his tormentor.

The doctor must have caught the brief flicker of panic and grinned. "Let's try not developing Stockholm syndrome, Robin."

Robin sent a dark glare and growled softly. Egyed chuckled; glad to see that some of Robin's pride was somewhat intact. From the few brief exchanges he had with Maura, it sounded like the hero was a broken, tamed bird.

"You'd be glad to know that with the rest plus whatever Maura did for you, you've broken through the withdrawal. The fever, cramps and sweats pretty much are non-existent. Mind you, you're still a bit weak. But nothing but a few meals won't handle." Seeming to be satisfied, Eyged stared down at his patient. "You might still experience some yearnings, but that is normal. Either way, the worst is over with."

A dry laugh escaped Robin's throat. Blue eyes fell closed before staring up at the ceiling. Pale lips formed themselves into a smirk.

"What's funny?" taunted Egyed, folding his arms across his chest.

Those eyes locked on his face. The doctor realized the sight was something he was not going to get used to anytime soon. Robin's face seemed to fade into pondering mask, eyes scrunched up in thought.

"The worst is not over," whispered Robin. "There's still a bunch of large glass pieces still remaining. Not to mention…"

Pushing himself up, Robin slid his feet under the blanket so he sat Indian-style on the bed. The raven locks were rumpled up, the bed-hair a wild mess conveying the rough past days. Eyes fell down to the dip in the blanket, his hands playing with each other underneath.

Egyed smirked, "Ah yes, Slade. Well, the first thing you can do is work on your talk with him."

The cocking of the boy's head signaled to Egyed that he had the boy's attention. "I don't mind if you talk to Slade out loud here, but other people will start to think you are insane. And I don't know if you still want to keep up the appearance of remaining sane." Pausing, the doctor sniffed and shrugged his shoulders. "That's the first step we usually taught our subjects on how to handle the dust."

With nothing more to say, Egyed let the silence fall upon them. Fidgeting, the doctor frowned. He could never handle the silence or the tiny pauses in life. He was a workaholic. Out in the world, no one ever took him seriously due to his smiling, crazy nature. But here, Egyed couldn't help but feel that he belonged, that this was his home.

Gazing down at Robin, the doctor flashed his teeth behind his widest smile. "Good to see we haven't lost you-"

"Is it only love?"

Egyed raised an eyebrow, dropping his pen on the ground at the surprise. "What?"

A frown marred the boy's features, "The dust…does it only make you see ones you love?"

"Ah," smirking the doc, "You're afraid you," chuckled, "love Slade?"

Robin shot a glare that Batman would have been proud of. Egyed tugged at his red-hair, "Well, the mind ain't my field, that's Fumio. But what I have to say is, maybe it's what the man represents that you…like."

The walkie-talkie beeped on the man's belt. Peering down, Egyed sighed. "Another time. Better enjoy your stay here, Maura will probably kick you out when I give her the go ahead."

With a long stride, Egyed left the boy alone in the room. Robin snarled and returned his stare back at his lap. "Love Slade? Please, I hate the man like no-Argh!"

Robin felt his body being slammed back into the bed, a strong arm wrapped around his throat. Kicking widely, Robin clawed at the arm that was chocking him. But it was to no avail as Slade stared down at his captured bird.

"Now, that I have your attention," squeezing harder, Slade heard a battered cough escape Robin's mouth. His eyes focused on Slade's single eye, trying to hide the lack of oxygen. The kicked eased and Robin's hands rested on Slade's arm. Slade smirked behind his mask. "Good boy. It seems that since you are well enough to kick and claw, you are well enough to aid in my plan."

The chattering of teeth and the locking of knees was starting to annoy Raven. Reaching up to massage her temple, the gothic superhero slumped her shoulders. Gathering all the calmness she could muster, Raven turned and eyed the troublemaker.

Beastboy was shivering next to her, his whole body on pure alert. The purple outfit against the green skin did nothing to hide the scruffs, cuts and the metal pair of handcuffs around his wrist. Drooping his ears, the changeling eyed his companion. Raven was actually not in her customary velvet cloak. Instead she wore all black jeans, shirt and jacket. Her violet hair was hidden beneath a wig of blond, bronze spikes dangled from her ears. Even her face was slightly colored with blush and red lipstick while black mascara accented her eyes.

Raising her gloved hand, which held a baton, Raven snarled at Beastboy, "Quiet your whimpering!"

The rough, street-accented voice was nothing compared to deadpanned voice of his friend. Beastboy nodded quickly, before smirking, "Are you sure?"

The dark glare made the changeling raise his cuffed hands in self-defense, "Alright already!"

Raven lowered her arm and took in the abandoned warehouse. Her contractor was ten minutes late. Fidgeting, she rolled her head to try and ward off an itch from underneath her wig. Dressing up was not part of the plan, but Starfire was too bright to play a bounty hunter and Cyborg was needed in monitoring the videos.

Folding her arms across her chest, Raven began to tap her foot impatiently. Since arriving back home, the Titans had been busy trying to track down Slade. Calling upon the Titans East to manage their city in order for no one to realize Robin's disappearance, Cyborg contacted every Titan in the US.

It took a couple days but Flash was the first to call in and told them that there was some rumors of Slade traveling to Gotham. Starfire was almost out the door to fly to Gotham and have a talk with the criminal when Cyborg grabbed her arm.

"We can't go to him, Star," whispered Cyborg.

"Why not?" questioned the alien, her eyes losing the bright light of determination.

Cyborg sighed, "Gotham is where Robin is from."


"It's Batman's city. Do you feel like explaining to him why we're in his city?"

Starfire realized the train of thought Cyborg was following and landed softly on her feet. "Then what do you propose we do?"

Cyborg grinned, brown eyes glinting in the light, "Let's have him come to us."

Raven raised an eye at her friend as Beastboy gawked. "Have Slade come to us? Are you crazy?"

"Desperate times call for desperate measures," Cyborg locked eyes with Raven. "Blond will suit you I think."

And so Raven found herself here with Beastboy. After dressing up, Raven and Cyborg sent out an inconspicuous message to Slade in Gotham about her persona Veral catching one of the Titans. Days passed by when a mysterious note was received at the apartment where Raven was currently staying in. It merely told her to meet this contractor for a hefty award in a warehouse near the docks. The location already screamed Slade. So, roughing up Beastboy a bit, which was a wonderful stress reliever, Raven made her way to the docks.

Glancing down at her watch, Raven let out a groan. She knew she had to keep up the appearance of Veral just in case Slade was watching her. Twisting her back as if to stretch, Raven flicked her gaze to a wooden crate from Florida. Above, hidden in the shadows, Starfire was waiting quietly underneath a tarp to lunge out when the contractor came. Sliding her gaze to the corner near a mouse hole was a small camera where Cyborg was keeping surveillance from both the inside and outside.

Turning back to face forward, Raven cracked her knuckles.

Beastboy eased his shivers of fright away. Grinning up at Raven, he flopped down on the ground. "Guess he ain't comin' huh?"

"Patient Rae, you know how Slade operates. We only get one shot at this you guys," confided Cyborg through her earpiece.

Raven huffed and kicked Beastboy in the side, "Patience is a virtue, brat."

"Yes indeed it is," purred a dark voice from the far side of the warehouse.

Raven shot her head towards the sound. Stepping out into the pale light from the moon, the black and orange figure of Slade emerged from the shadows. Placing her hands on her hips, Raven smirked, "Bout time you came. Where's my money?"

Slade narrowed his one eye, taking in the rising form of Beastboy. "I was surprised by your message. Capturing one of the Titans alive, particularly the shape shifter, is a display of true gifts."

Raven turned and flicked a finger on the metal handcuffs, "It ain't got nothin' to do with talent. Technology at its' best with preventin' him from shifting. And he's a baby."

Beastboy shot a hurt look at Raven. "You just don't want to admit that you like my good looks and wanted to keep me around for yourself."

Raven slapped Beastboy hard on the back of his head, "Shut up. I hate green."

The dark chuckle drew the two Titans away from their bickering. Slade raised his hands and clapped three times. "I congratulate you, Raven. Out of all the Titans, I must say you are the best…underneath Robin that is."

Beastboy couldn't help but let his jaw drop in shock. Cyborg cursed loudly, the heavy footsteps marking his quick departure to help his friends. Starfire tossed the tarp to the side and flew straight down at Slade. "You will give us-"

Raven raised her hand, enveloping the alien in her black magic. Struggling, Star sent her blazing green eyes down at Raven. "Raven, you will let me go!"

"No," responded Raven, keeping her gaze on Slade.

Slade nodded, "Always the calm one. Now tell me, why are the Titans so eager to catch my attention at the risk of catching Batman's?"

The heavy foots from behind her marked Cyborg's arrival. With a flicker of her fingers, Raven removed Beastboy's handcuffs and released Starfire.

"Sheesh, I was wondering when you let up," joked the changeling dryly as he spared a glance towards Raven.

"Hn," was her only response.

"It seems you are short one."

The factual tone of Slade sent Starfire to power up her hands and aim the green energy bolts at Slade, "Now tell us where you have Robin?"

Slade tilted his head towards Starfire, his gray eye not betraying anything of the accusation. "Be careful whom you accused, girl," hissed Slade. The group fell into deathly silence as a small wave of evil washed off Slade, reminding them of what this criminal was capable of. Breaking the silence, Slade drew back onto himself and gave off the indifferent attitude that Robin cared for so much. "I dare you to repeat that accusation."

Cyborg took a couple steps forward so he was almost face to face with Slade. "You heard her, give us Robin back."

The criminal heard the stern voice of Cyborg and narrowed his gaze on what he assumed as the appointed leader. Cyborg fought to maintain eye contact with Slade, yet as the second trickled by he felt fear rise in him trying to break the gaze.

"How did Robin do this?" puzzled Cyborg as he felt his gaze shift only slightly downwards.

Yet Slade had caught the movement and pounced on it. "I do not have Robin. If your leader is missing, then you should consider that it was your fault than his."

"And how in the world did you come up that explanation?" yelled Beastboy as he threw his hands in the air.

Starfire sent a blast flying near his feet, but Slade didn't even budge. "Robin would never leave us!"

"I am merely stating that Robin has outgrown you and it is your fault that you tied him back," stated Slade. Truly, it was like talking to children when addressing the other Titans. With Robin, he might have had to repeat himself but at least the boy knew what and where he was heading in their discussions.

"Well that's not the case here!" spat Cyborg as he tucked his hand into a fist.

Raven coughed silencing any more outbursts from her teammates. "Slade, we have information that you were seen taking Robin out of the Japan or somewhere in Indonesia."

"I have not traveled in that area in over a year," noted Slade. "Do you trust this source?"

"Yes," replied Raven. Closing her eyes, she whispered, "But I can sense that you are telling the truth that you do not hold Robin in custody."

The Titans stared dumbstruck at Raven. "Wh-what?" stuttered Cyborg.

Raven opened her eyes and allowed for a frown to appear on her face. Reaching up she tug off the wig, letting her purple hair to fall gracefully around her face. "Robin is not with Slade. The informant on the island lied, or at least his companion did. Or they were given the wrong information."

Slade shifted and folded his arms behind his back. The false accusation angered him and it seemed that in order to clear his name, the man would have to open talks with the Titans."When was the last time you saw Robin?"

Cyborg, Starfire and Beastboy moved their wide eyes back on the villain. Raven replied, realizing that her companions were useless at the moment. They still were trying to get over the fact that Slade did not have Robin. Which was a surprise, even for her, since Slade had an unhealthy obsession with the boy. "In Japan, he was with the police."

Slade tilted his head towards her; his eye gleaming in what one could say was humor. "You mean escorted. The news of Robin's…killing was-"

"Robin did not kill anyone!" shouted Starfire, her green eyes shimmering with tears. "It was an accident!"

"My dear, if only you knew how violent your leader can become."

"We saw how violent he could get Slade," snapped Cyborg.

"Taking out my robots is one thing, Cyborg," reprimanded Slade, "Now, let me see if I get this straight. Your Indonesian informant-"

"His girlfriend actual," whispered Beastboy.

Slade shot an annoyed look at the changeling, "Girlfriend. So the information that I have Robin did not come from your informant's mouth, yet you believed her."

"Yes," answered Raven. "She was working for him."

The criminal shook his head and walked towards a box. The Titans tensed behind him, but it only made him smirked. They truly had grown up; their wariness around him was proof. Pivoting on his foot, Slade sat down on the box. Leaning forward, he rested his arms on his legs and folded his hands. "It is clear that you children still have things to learn."

The dark, angry looks aimed at him with the intention to burn him failed. Slade merely chuckled at the attempt; "The woman gave you false information to lead you on a false trail. For once I am innocent of a crime. You should have known better, than to believe an informant right away."

"Innocent my butt," muttered Beastboy as he crossed his arms and stared angrily at the door.

Cyborg couldn't help but puff his chest in indignation, "Well excuse us for not knowing that the trail was false."

"You should have known when number one: someone else gave you the information. Secondly, you didn't back up the information with other resources. And thirdly, you didn't do surveillance."

"How the hell where we suppose to know all that?" shouted the robot.

"Robin would have known," shot back Slade in his emotionless tone. Yet, the Titans could sense the underlying message. Robin was better than them, would always be and Slade would always see them as children no matter what they did.

Raven placed a soothing hand on Cyborg's shoulder to calm him down, "Why are you telling us this, Slade?"

Slade closed his eye briefly before sliding his gaze onto Starfire. The alien was quiet for once, considering her love was missing. Oh, Slade could tell that the girl had feelings for Robin. He was grateful though the boy was blind in that area, allowing Robin to focus his attention on the criminal. "A lesson is always needed, Raven. That and it is a good way to start an alliance." Pausing to let his words sink in, Slade soaked in the shocked expressions on the Titans. "I will help you find the wayward leader."

"Pinch me," spoke Beastboy numbly.

"H-help?" stuttered Cyborg, not sure if he heard right. "Di-did you s-say?"

"Yes, I did," sighed Slade.

Raven blinked, her eyes narrowing in on the words. She ran situations on why Slade of all people would help them. It made no sense. It wasn't like the last time when the world was coming to an end. There was nothing at stake for the man. And it didn't help that Robin never talked about what had transpired between the master and the ex-apprentice.

"Why?" questioned Starfire, her innocent tone making Slade cringe inside.

Ignoring her question, Slade zoomed in on the true question.

"What do you want in return?" Raven's quiet voice made Slade nod in approval. It seemed not all was lost with the Titans.

"The box containing all information on me," replied Slade.

"What box?" said Cyborg, his tone making it seem like he didn't know what Slade was talking about.

"The box Robin has…the one containing my cracked mask to be precise."

Not knowing the significance behind the strange request, Beastboy blurted out, "Deal, but if you betrayal us in anyway-"

"Beastboy!" snapped Cyborg.

Beastboy squawked sending an apologetic gaze at the older boy, "Sorry."

Cyborg nodded and looked at the two females of the team.

Starfire sighed, "As much as I do not like this, I see no other way to track down Robin."

Raven fought to keep her face neutral from the rising disgust of having an alliance with Slade. "Starfire's right. If anyone knows how Robin thinks, it is Slade."

Cyborg nodded and walked up to Slade. Jutting out his hand, the temporary leader of the Titans spoke in a stern but calm voice. "You got yourself a deal Slade, but if you make any moves in trying to get Robin yourself-"

"I know," replied Slade as he reached out and shook Cyborg's metal hand. "Well, then." Standing up, the cold metal gauntlet left Cyborg's warm human hand. "Shall we start with a trip back to this informant of yours?"

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