Thursday, November 2, 2017

Chapter Thirty-Two: To Assign Fault

Chapter Thirty-Two: To Assign Fault

Adeline wrapped her hands with tape, something that had become a daily thing. Not that she liked it that way. After tearing off the piece she was working on and flexing her hand, Adeline allowed herself one of the brief opportunities to slump her posture. There are always days where one is full of energy or on the other side of the scale, entirely depleted of energy. This was one of the days where Adeline wished that she could be depleted. The daily routine of fighting Slade, it was starting to almost depress her. And worse yet, she recognized it.

There had been a point in time where she had always been able to beat him. Within a minute or less, too. True, she had taught him to do better, to improve, to actually hold his own to her, but often times, she had still won... unless, she let him win... It would always boost his confidence. Confidence that at one point would make her smile; at one point make her...

The door opened and Slade walked in. Automatically, his confidence made her feel sick. She half wondered if the corners of her mouth were falling off her face due to the frown they were shaped in. He said nothing, but walked over to the closet chest in the room. Adeline leaned against one of the old couches and waited.

"Bo-staffs today?" He asked.

"Whatever," Adeline said, without much of a care.

"You're talkative," He noted.

Adeline glanced over at him as he walked up to her, "Maybe I'd want to talk more if the person I was talking to wasn't wearing some ridiculous mask."

Slade raised his eye, but began to chuckle. He was always in full uniform when he and Adeline fought. She generally favored sports clothes; today's outfit included a light purple tank top with a short sleeved jacket, tennis shoes, and a pair of loose black shorts. But he always wore what had been coined as Deathstroke's uniform. The mask, included.

"Touché," He said, reaching behind his head and releasing the metal mask from its place.

She looked up to see him, but as she did her perceptive eye overtook her. He caught her eye, "What?"

She stopped staring, "Nothing."

He really hadn't changed very much, when she looked at him closely. He still held that young air about him. Just like when she had first met him. Except of course, the eye patch. That was new. She smiled bitterly and laughed as he handed her the bo-staff.

"Forgive me for missing the joke," He said, walking over to his starting position as she did her's.

"Reminiscing, Slade," She told him, truthfully, "That's all."

"I suppose we do have a lot to reminisce about," He said, "Though I would have thought that you would do that at another time."

"Unfortunately," Adeline said, "I only reminisce on the bad things in my life when I'm around you."

"I apologize," Slade said, like a gentleman, but mocking all the same.

"Don't tell me you don't reminisce, Slade," She said, twirling the bo-staff in her hand.

"I never said I didn't," Slade stated, "But then again, I don't suppose you would care."

"Come to think of it, you're right, I probably wouldn't," She stated.

They stood opposite each other, both ready. Adeline had both hands tight on the bo-staff while Slade stood loosely, like this was some form of practice for the real thing. Too bad for her, it was. Her eyes narrowed. It was her move. It always was. Slade had given her that courtesy. A growl escaped her throat and she attacked head on, aiming the bo-staff at the top of his head. Slade side-stepped her and aimed a blow towards the right of her stomach, but she caught it by placing her bo-staff in the way.

She felt her feet slide backwards as they stood facing each other, but she held her ground all the same. She kept her eyes on him while her brain worked with what she remembered of the surroundings. That was one thing that Adeline knew about Slade. He watched the eyes of his opponent to guess what they would do next. But not her. She wouldn't look anywhere but him. Otherwise, he'd figure out her strategy faster than she could actually plan it out.

That's why when she tilted her staff downwards, he almost lost his footing. Almost. He didn't, but that was good enough for her to fight back. She twisted around to kick him in the gut, but she missed as he jumped back and over her. As Adeline turned, Slade used his own staff to attempt to trip her. It worked. But for mere seconds. Upon falling, Adeline rolled over a good ways away from him. Her breathing slowed as she willed it to. They began to circle the room again, this time slower.

Slade sighed and Adeline's eyes narrowed, "What?"

"What has it been, almost a month?" He asked.

"What are you talking about?" She demanded.

Slade shook his head, "The number of times we've done this, fighting."

"Oh you..." She seethed, and attacked, but he blocked with his bo-staff.

"I'm just saying," He said, backing off, "I think we know the outcome of this fight already, Adeline. Are you sure you want to do this?"

Her eyes widened and she spun around, hitting him in the back with the staff, but not hard enough to make a real impact. She did though, cause him to drop his staff, "Are you kidding me?"

"Hm?" Slade asked, side stepping another of her attacks.

"I don't want to do this, Slade," Adeline hissed as she pushed herself away from another of his attacks. He still made a hit and Adeline felt the pain run through her upper arm, "I have to do this."

Slade looked Adeline in the eye as she continued, another attack on the way, "I've always had to do this!"

He backed away as she swiped at his shoulder, "Ever since what happened to Joey... I've had to protect them."

She landed a hit at his chest, but he caught hold of her bo-staff, "I could have helped you there, Adeline, if you had let me."

"You were the threat!" Adeline yelled at him as he wrenched the staff from her grasp and she flipped away, "How could you even..."

Slade kicked out under her legs and Adeline jumped to avoid him, "Adeline..."

"No! No! Can it, Slade," Adeline told him, "I don't want to hear your excuses. I've heard them all."

Slade and Adeline fought. In every instance, something crept back into Slade's memories. Her determination, her sense of justice, her loyalty... She almost landed an uppercut to his jaw, but he turned to his left and was able to pick up his staff. Upon noticing this, she ran for her own and barely managed to grab it before he aimed one end at her hand. He missed and she stood up, knocking him back.

"You know, I did leave them be," Slade said, "As you requested."

"Oh, so responsible of you," She remarked sarcastically, wiping some sweat from her forehead, "When was the last time that happened?"

"We're talking about responsible when you're the one who risked losing custody of them by attempting to murder me?" Slade asked.

"Shut it," Adeline snapped, "It's not like it wouldn't have saved us a whole lot of trouble."

"And yet I know where Grant is and you do not," Slade said, a smile creeping onto his face.

It infuriated her, "And it's responsible of you to know and not tell me? You don't even look after them! You don't care about them!"

"You know that's not true," Slade stated slowly.

Adeline ran into the fight again, "You. Never. Cared."

"Adeline..." He dodged her again.

"No, don't tell me lies like that," Adeline yelled, "I can't believe I trusted you like I did..."

Slade shook his head, "I still believe you to be a good judge of character, though."

"Yeah, well, I don't," Adeline stated firmly, running with her staff at him.

His eye never left her's. They kept fighting, dodging, kicking, and attempting to hurt the other in some manner. After a while, Slade noticed Adeline's movements getting slower and less coordinated. She was tired. He backed off once again. Her hair was clinging to her neck and face, though she still looked like she was ready to go another hour. He almost didn't think that he could last that. Watching her, it reminded him, of everything that she was. The brave, fierce woman that had at one point, been his teacher, his friend...

"Addie..." He began.

Something snapped in her head, "And you know, another thing, I wish, you'd quit calling me that!"

"You're still, so egotistical!" She ran forward and their staffs collided.

"So stubborn!" He pushed her back.

"And sly and..." The staffs clashed again and she was pushed back.

She remembered first meeting him; he was standing in a line of soldiers.

"And annoyingly secretive!" She yelled.

Their first date.

"You couldn't be more..." Another clash and she felt herself losing distance even more.

Meeting him at the airport.

"Detached and hurtful!" Adeline felt her ankle hit the old couch and had no choice but to take a step up.

Watching him playing with the boys...

"And... and..." Adeline felt her back hit the old fireplace's counter.

Their eyes locked and for a moment, time wasn't a factor in their minds. Adeline couldn't tear her eyes away. This man. After everything that he had done to her, everything that he had done to Grant and Joey. After all of those painful nights that she had cried away after he ruined her life...

"Addie?" He asked, and she felt all of her anger subside.

Instantly, Adeline pushed her head passed the two staffs and their lips met. She dropped the staff and her hands fell to his chest, then around his neck. He dropped his own and very gently, brought his hands up to her waist. She paused momentarily, her lips still mere millimeters away from him.

"And vexing..."

Their lips met again. She leaned into him from her spot on the small couch and he carefully pulled them both back until he held her in mid-air. Her fingers toyed with his blond hair. As she needed to breathe, she felt him letting out his own as it ran down her neck.

"And smart..." She whispered.

The third kiss occurred. Almost as a way to politely excuse himself from holding her up, Slade had carefully made his way with her back to the couch in the middle of the room and fell back onto it. She landed on his chest, her brown hair covering most of his face. Just like she had before...

"And patient..."

She gave herself a minute to actually get air and collapsed her head onto his chest, taking in his scent. The same as it had always been. It was like the world and it's problems had melted away and had left them behind...

"What else?" He whispered, a hint of ironic amusement at their current situation hidden in those two words.

Adeline remembered wearing white and what had been the happiest day of her life...

"And..." Her eyes locked with his, "Too... persistent..."

Their lips met for the final time and they hugged each other. She clung like she had been forbidden to her entire life, while he held her like he would a fragile object. He pushed some of her hair out of the way, so that he could have some light when they opened their eyes. But that was when the sound of a door opening found its way to his ear. Slade opened his eye, but could only see Adeline as the door was to the right of him. He ended the kiss and Adeline opened her eyes. He turned his head to the door and so did she, only to see Robin standing in the door way, his masked eyes and mouth, wide open.

Instantly, the look on Adeline's face turned into one of panic as she realized what she was doing. But she didn't get a chance to say anything before Robin turned tail and ran off. Getting up and running without looking back, Adeline chased after him.

"Dick! Dick wait!" She yelled.

Up ahead, Robin could hear her, but he wasn't about to stop. What had... He thought that... How... It was like his brain wasn't working. Like it had been hit out of the ballpark and hadn't been found yet... Slade and... Ms. Kane?

"Dick wait!" Adeline caught up with him and reached out for his wrist.

"No!" Robin turned around and backed away from her.

"Dick, let me explain..." Addie said, though she wasn't sure if she could.

"No! Stop! Don't..." Robin stuttered, "You... you were with him all along! You never cared about what happens to me! You lied and I believed you!"

Adeline shook her head, "No, no, Dick, that's not... Slade and I were..."

"What Ms. Kane and I were doing is none of your concern."

Adeline spun around to see Slade standing behind her. But instead of hesitancy, she saw instead only anger in Robin's face.

"Shut up! Just, shut it! I don't have to listen to you Slade!" Robin yelled, "Why should I? It's not like anyone actually cares about my well-being! It's not like I'm not surrounded by liars!"

"Watch your tongue," Slade warned.

"Make me," Robin said simply, fury seething from his tone.

That's when Adeline saw Slade move forward, but before she could do anything, Slade had caught hold of Robin's arm and a good portion of the boy's hair. The teen screamed.

"Slade, don't!" She yelled, but he shoved her off.

"Let go!" Robin yelled.

"He deserves an explanation!" Adeline yelled.

"He'll get what he deserves," Slade told her, their eyes met and he read everything, saw everything.

But then he turned, dragging a struggling Robin with him. She shook her head and while a hand reached out, hoping to stop them, it did nothing but hang in the air as she heard another boy's cries fade away. At some point, she fell to her knees, shaking. What had she... What had she done?

Down the hall, Robin made every effort to free himself, "Let go of me!"

He thrashed about, but he could feel Slade's grip begin to bruise his arm while a headache seeped through to his skull. Slade said nothing as he dragged the boy wonder down the hall. He could tell that the boy was visibly shaken from seeing him and Adeline... well, from finding out about the nature of their relationship. At some point, Robin quit struggling in favor of yelling.

"You had Ms. Kane working for you all along!" He yelled, "She left willingly! I'm right, aren't I? That's what really happened! Right!"

Slade twisted Robin's hair, who let out a yelp, "You are quick to assume the worse."

Robin shut his eyes as he stumbled forward, "Why shouldn't I? You both lied! You and her! You, she...!"

"We what?" Slade turned to look Robin in the eye, and suddenly Robin felt his breath caught in his throat. Slade chuckled, "It doesn't even matter to you does it? I told you long ago that you didn't have a say in this. You were never in control and you still are not. I am."

They continued walking. Robin somehow managed. He could feel himself grind his teeth as he tried to make sense of it all. Slade and Ms. Kane were... something, an item, he'd go with that terminology. How had he not seen that? And if they were... didn't that mean that... Slade had been right? Ms. Kane had lied. She had lied to him, to Alfred, to the GCPD, to everyone...

"You both deserve each other!" He finally yelled, "You're both as evil and as putrid and as vial as..."


Robin felt blood trickle down from his nose as his vision blurred in and out of alignment. Slade pulled him back from the wall. If there was something he wouldn't tolerate, it was Robin insulting Adeline.

"I was going to be lenient..." Slade trailed off, "But you've earned yourself a little more than that..."

As the words reached his ears, Robin felt a new anger burn inside of him. They turned to the right and suddenly, they were in a cold room. It almost felt like it was... outside. But it was totally... he didn't get a chance to take in his surroundings before he felt Slade release his hair to open something. That something was what, he assumed, he was then thrown into. He rubbed his head where it had been hit. That was when he realized that he was in a metal cage of some sort. The door slammed shut right as he got to his knees. He shook the door hard and glared at Slade when it wouldn't open.

"Let me out!" Robin yelled.

"I'm not going to do that, Robin," Slade told him, "You brought this upon yourself."

"For what? For seeing you two making out?!" Robin reached for anything he could in his defense, though he didn't really care about skirting around the issue anymore.

Slade shook his head once, "How long are you trying to stay in there for, Robin?"

"Oh yeah, I'm trying to stay in here because I love being in this type of circumstance!" Robin yelled.

Slade let out a small chuckle, "You wouldn't be in such a great situation if it wasn't for me, Robin. Where would you have been? Who would have taken you in? I think I've proved my point before. Adeline didn't care. None of your friends cared, otherwise they would have stuck around."

Robin was about to say something in their defense, when Slade continued, "But then again, you were the one alienated them. They never really wanted to be around you in the first place; you are always so prone to problems. Your current predicament is proof of that."

For a long moment, Robin sat on his feet while on his knees, speechless. Somehow, throughout all of the chaos in his head, what Slade had just said... was true. He had left his team. He was always causing problems. He...

"Honestly, Robin," Slade said, "How can you save a city, when you can't save yourself?"

How could he...? Robin had heard Slade tell him that before, but something about that caused him to panic. All of the truth, all of the revelations kept hitting him and hurting his head.

Robin stopped his trail of thoughts. It all stemmed from... He glared up at Slade, who smiled, "I'll be back to get you when you've learned your lesson for back-talking."

"Hey! Hey!" Robin yelled, but Slade had left the room.

The door slammed shut and Robin immediately felt a draft. He panicked, "SLADE!"

He shook the cage doors when he heard something above him shift and fall back down on top of him. He fell to his back in order to avoid the barred wire that create a roof above him. The Boy Wonder had even shut his eyes in case of contact. Fortunately, it had caught onto something and stopped inches from his face. Slowly, Robin opened his eyes, his head twisted to the side, when something dripped onto his face. He looked up and screamed.

The head, the head of the dead dear from earlier that week was over him, lying on what had been a shelf. Its eyes were still wide open. Robin turned his head around to look around him. It was only then that he realized where he was. Against other walls were other similar cages with other dead animals within them. Worse yet, the walls were only made of one layer of nailed wood. Was this... an old meat house?

A drop of blood dripped from the deer's mouth onto his cheek.

It was.

And he screamed. He screamed and held his head, rolling onto his side hoping to shut everything out, but he still felt the metal scratching him and the cold burning the scratches further. If only... He couldn't take it. What had he gotten himself into? Where was he? Why was Slade after him? And why... He opened his eyes and shivered as the wind hit his back. He was worthless. A pathetic excuse for a successor. He couldn't save himself. He never could. Not when it really mattered. A deep sense of shame overwhelmed him. He couldn't even tell who was on his side. He hadn't figured out that Wilson had been Slade and he hadn't been able to tell that Ms. Kane had been helping Slade...

What had he been able to figure out anyway? What was he good for? How could he even still... He hated this. He hated all of it. He hated Slade for capturing him. He hated Ms. Kane for betraying him. But most of all, he hated himself for driving people away and for not being strong enough. It was like everything he ever tried to make himself was always going to be out of his reach. He was always failing everyone. Why couldn't he do anything right?

Another drop fell by his ear and Robin shuddered. When was Slade going to let him out of this place?
Sadly, it would not be for a few long hours.

Slade made his way casually back towards the gym. He found Adeline still on her knees when he rounded the corner of the hallway that he had left her in. Her hands were on her thighs, keeping her up, while her thick brown hair covered her facial expression. But he could see she was biting her lip in the way that told him she was trying to contain herself.

He walked over to her and knelt down next to her, "Addie..."

He brought up a hand to her face, but she slapped him away, wordlessly. He looked at the ground as he heard her stifle a sob or two.

"It's not as bad as you're making it," He said calmly.

That earned him another slap to the face. Her hand landed on the wall and Adeline pushed herself up... barely. She bit her hand, choking on her tears.

"I hate you," She whispered.

Slade stood up, "Addie..."

"I HATE YOU!" She yelled, spinning around to face him, "You ruined my life! You hurt our boys! You lied to me! And you can't just leave me alone! You have to involve me and them and now Dick and even..."

Adeline sobbed. She continued, "And you... You..."

She finally brought her eyes into the light to stare into his lone one. Like she could tell him. As though she could. What kind of woman was she for it... What would... How could she...

He brought his hands up to her arms, offering to support her, hold her while she cried... "Addie, come on..."

She shuffled herself away and turned her back on him, "No, just... leave me alone... please... Please Slade..."

He stood there and didn't move while she brought a hand up to her mouth. Why did he always call her Addie? The way it reminded her of their past. Of all of those happier times when things were simpler. All of the moments that he had ruined for their family, for her, for them... What killed her the most though, the thing that made her despise herself, yes herself, from the very bottom of her heart, was that... that... she knew.

She knew that she was still in love with him.

She couldn't hate him. Even after what he had done to Grant and Joey. Even after what he had done to countless others. Even after what he was doing to Dick... She was still weak and still loved him. Loved the man that had at one point in time captured her heart. Whether or not that same man was who he was now, it didn't really seem to matter. He was the only place she could think to look for him anymore. She choked, a cry escaping, strangled from her throat.

Why was she so weak?

Why was she still so hopelessly in love with a man that had hurt her so much? It just wasn't fair. It wasn't fair…

Slade watched Adeline for a good number of minutes. Strangely, he felt that he should leave, but he wanted to stay. He had not planned on what had happened in the gym and he knew that she hadn't either. But the more important fact of the matter was that she was severely affected by it. And yet, he knew that Adeline wouldn't accept his help, his comfort. That's the way things were. The only way she could cope, would cope. Shutting herself off like that... It was the only way for her...

And he did, as astonishing as it may be to some, regretted it. He regretted that he couldn't help her. He was only doing the best that he could at what he was carrying out. Heartache was not something he knew how to avoid, as evidently, it was something he kept running into and kept seeing often. Slade turned around and walked off.

She would be okay. He knew that much. He knew her. He knew that she could make it through this, even when she wasn't sure she could.

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