Entering the diner with every sense alert, Tim immediately spotted the man waiting for him in the last booth, back to the wall. Even in civilian garb, he was out of place and imposing, but the waitress was flirting with him and he seemed at ease as he thanked her for his coffee. All the while, his eye was locked on Tim.
Trying to act as nonchalant as possible, Tim walked the length of the diner and slipped into the seat across from Slade Wilson. The waitress had waited for him and he ordered coffee, then carefully placed both hands on the table.
Slade sipped his coffee, relaxing in his seat, showing none of the tension that was eating at Tim. "Drake."
"I'm here. Tell me why I'm not here with every Titan on the Eastern seaboard."
The older man smiled and set down his cup. "You remind me a lot of him, bluster, bravado, and pure truth. It'll be interesting to see if you take similar paths as he has into darkness."
"He clawed his way out of that darkness, no thanks to you." Tim fought to keep the anger from his voice and his hands unclenched.
He laughed at that, a low chuckle that grated on the younger man's nerves. "Have you spoken to him lately?"
"Not since we kicked your ass two weeks ago. Why am I here, Wilson?" He wanted this over with. Sitting in a diner with Deathstroke was incredibly disconcerting.
The waitress delivering his coffee delayed Slade's answer and Tim, not wanting to take his eyes off his companion, forewent sugar and creamer to drink it black and bitter. It went with his mood.
"I have seen Dick. He found me within forty eight hours of our battle. We had a long talk. I'm actually surprised he didn't contact you."
"We're both busy people."
That smile on Wilson's face took on a smirk that made Tim very uncomfortable. "He certainly has been."
A ball of ice landed in the young man's stomach. "What are you implying?"
"That your brother and I have reached an understanding, Drake, and part of that understanding is that I give you an explanation." He took a sip of his coffee and locked his eye on Tim's. "About Cassandra."
"You're an evil bastard who took advantage of her, drugged her, did god knows what else to her, and turned her into a killer."
"I had nothing to do with making her a killer," Slade said with a dismissive snort. "She found me, not the other way around, and when she did she was already broken by the League and her bitch of a mother. She was already a killer and so lost, she begged me to help her. She asked for the serum, Drake, in order to make her strong enough to fight off the League's influence. She said she wanted to kill her mother. What she really wanted to do was kill herself, but didn't know how to do it."
"I don't believe you," Tim ground out, his fingers tightening around the handle of his cup and the edge of the table.
"She can't face you, any of you. I've been through this with Dick. The Bat has you all so scared of screwing up, you screw up even more and dig yourself into pits so deep you may never claw your way out. Cassandra killed. She believes he'll never forgive her, so she won't forgive herself. I drugged her because it was the only way to control her and keep her from killing innocents or killing herself."
"That's the most twisted explanation.." Tim shook his head in disgusted disbelief.
"I never claimed to be a psychiatrist, Drake. She'd already tried to kill you once."
"That was the serum."
"That was before the serum," he stressed, ignoring Tim shaking his head again. "Next time she might have succeeded and thus fallen even deeper into that pit she was in. I gave her time, time to climb out."
"You made her kill," Tim hissed, wanting to scream his denial at the other man.
"No. She never killed while on the serum, at least not on my orders."
Digesting what Slade was telling him was difficult, but Tim forced himself to try. He wanted to simply deny it all and arrest the son-of-a-bitch, but there was something about the way the assassin was talking that rang true. Plus, why would he even be here if it was a lie? What would be the point? "Okay, let's say I believe you. Why are you telling me this?"
"Because you need to find her. She should be weaned off the serum by now and I would hate to see her fall back into her previous self-destructive pattern."
"You'll never get me to believe you care. Even if you kept her from killing, you used her to fight the Titans. You tried to kill us all."
That smirk returned. "Did I really try all that hard, Drake? I thought you were the smarter of the two of you, but maybe Grayson just knows me better."
Tim frowned in confusion. "Then...why?"
"I'll let you think about that..or you can ask your brother." Slade rose, taking out his wallet and dropping a ten dollar bill on the table. Not liking being seated when this killer was standing, Tim quickly joined him and was confronted with a truly wicked grin and a softly spoken insinuation. "I left him an hour ago, sleeping peacefully in my safe house on Long Island."
The chuckle that broke from Slade told Tim he'd failed to keep the shock off his face. As fury reddened his skin and his hands finally formed those fists, Wilson strolled past him and out into the night. Tim watched him go and after two minutes, followed him, tapping his comm device as soon as passed through the doors.
"'Wing, come in, NOW," he growled, stomping towards his bike. He and his brother were going to have a long talk. He'd deal with finding Cassandra in the morning.
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