He watches the kid collapse to his stomach, his arms no longer able to support him, and an involuntary wince crosses his face. Through the shreds of his shirt he can see the red, oozing stripes of the whip. His own back aches in sympathy and remembrance, but he heals quickly, and his wounds are gone.
It will be a long time before Dick's back is healed, and long after they're rescued or escape, the scars will remain.
The kid shivers and Slade reaches over to toss another log on the fire, watching a burst of sparks as the flames catch the dry wood, then turning back as Dick carefully turns his head.
Pain-filled eyes sink into his and Slade reaches out, carefully lifting, turning and tucking the younger man against his side, his arm around his shoulders just above the first lash mark.
"We'll get out of here." His voice is gruff but he tries to be reassuring, and the pained smile that cracks Dick's face lets him know he succeeded and the kid hasn't broken.
"Tell me again why I thought following you into a Siberian gulag was a good idea?"
Slade tries to smile back, but, can't, instead, hiding his face by brushing his lips over Dick's clammy forehead. "Gulags no longer exist."
Dick snorts. "Sure looks like one."
"And you came here because..." Slade's voice fades, because he's not really sure why, when he asked for help, Dick, for the first time in years, said 'yes'. Glancing down, he sees the former Boy Wonder's eyes are closed, his long lashes matted with dried tears, and softly sighs, then turns his attention back to the fire. Even with the high flames and glowing red embers, the room is cold, and it doesn't help that they're alone. More bodies would produce more heat, but even Deathstroke wouldn't wish this place on anyone.
Their mission to rescue the son of a former senator went balls up when they not only discovered the boy was dead but that it was all a trap for Deathstroke. The left-over KGB agents holding them are torturing them just for fun--his death has always been their goal; it's just a matter of time, and they'll execute Dick, too.
Slade knows they can get out of here before that happens, but they have to catch their guards at just the right moment of relaxation--when they think their prisoners are too beaten to try anything.
And that means the stripes on Dick's back aren't the last he'll receive.
He hopes the kid can handle it.
Slade no longer enjoys breaking Robins and he needs this one to remain strong enough so he can make up for this mess.
Closing his own eyes, he lets his thoughts drift in that direction--Dick cradled against him in front of a cheery fire in his Swiss chalet, both of them drinking wine and laughing....
And sharing something both have been avoiding for too many years.
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