Unplanned

by Lara Wilson

Deathstroke stood just inside the warehouse turned club and slid his eyes quickly around the large space. It was filled with villains, some super-powered, others simple thugs, all ruled over by Lex Luthor who sat a well-placed booth, a lovely woman on each side, the finest champagne on the table.

Frowning, he moved farther into the club and began to notice the others--the prisoners.

The heroes.

Luthor's Society had finally won. The heroes were in disarray, many of them dead or missing, some captives.

The captives weren't being treated well. Most were in chains or other forms of bondage, many looked nearly dead from abuse.

His eye skated quickly over the sight of two women being raped in shadowy corners.

The spoils of war.

Disgusted and disturbed, Slade moved silently towards the dance floor. He felt annoyance at the strobing lights and the loud, clashing music, but he needed to speak to Luthor, tell him he was leaving. He hadn't had much to do with this victory and he wanted nothing to do with whatever became of the world under Luthor's rule.

As he stepped upon the crowded dance floor, the people quickly parted for him and his eye was drawn to a woman being dragged to the grimy cement by a burly thug. Her costume was torn at one shoulder and across a hip, but the symbol on her chest was intact and familiar.

The man holding her struggling body down ripped at the already torn nomex, baring her from the waist to her thighs. As Slade watched, he fumbled with the fastenings of his pants, then fell forward on the woman.

Moving forward without a thought or a plan, he noticed that she was no longer fighting, that her face was turned sideways and her teeth were caught around her lower lip. Even with the mask, she looked young and scared.

No one wearing that symbol should ever look like that.

Reaching down, Slade yanked the rapist to his feet.

"Hey!" As soon as he realized who had grabbed him, the thug yanked up his pants, backpedaling quickly. "Hey, man, she's all yours. No harm, no foul."

Slade didn't even notice him disappearing into the crowd as he crouched and scooped the woman--the girl--into his arms. She didn't even struggle, just lay limp, a soft sob escaping from her bloody lips. As he rose, shielding her with the remnants of her cape, Slade again scanned the room and noticed the calculation in several avaricious eyes, including Luthor's.

To hell with all of them, especially Luthor. He owed him nothing, including an explanation. If they wanted to think he was claiming the girl for himself, fine. None of them seemed willing to challenge him.

Without a second thought or look, Slade left the building and this twisted world behind.

*****

A month later, Slade stepped off the private plane onto the dusty tarmac of a small airfield in Kenya. Turning, he reached back to help his guest down and smirked as she ignored his hand and jumped down next to him, a scowl on her face.

He'd never tell her how pleased her scowl made him feel. She hadn't let what had happened break her.

The Bat always did pick the strong ones.

"I did mention how I never wanted to come back to this continent, right?"

Ignoring her complaint, Slade strode towards the small terminal building, then stopped as the door opened and a familiar young man stepped outside into the heat. Tipping his safari hat back, Slade watched him warily, then smiled slightly as his companion squealed and took off running to launch herself into the other man's arms.

"Dick!"

Slade watched Grayson enfold her squirming body in his arms, bury his face in her shoulder. He heard the soft emotion in his voice as he said her name, then his blue eyes lifted to meet his and he nodded.

Silence fell until Stephanie Brown huffed out a laugh and pulled free from Dick to turn and face her rescuer. "Thank you."

"You're welcome," Slade replied gruffly, then nodded back to Grayson before turning to pick up his duffle bag and head out.

Grayson didn't try to stop him.

End

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