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Earning your keep

Chapter Text

Dick pressed his sleeve against his brow, wiping away a day's worth of sweat and dirt as he paused to take a drink of lukewarm, ionised water. He tried to ignore the taste as a flicker of movement near the south wall caught his attention. He frowned, his eyes straining as he attempted to figure out what it was.

“Stop fucking daydreaming and rake the goddamn soil already.”

Dick had just enough time to tense before a solid slap to the back of his head sent him stumbling into a dense patch of crops. He heard a deafening crunch and felt a lead ball settle in his stomach. “No,” he whispered, closing his eyes as he waited for the inevitable blowout.

Didn’t have to wait long, he thought numbly as he felt a big hand grab his shirt and drag him to his feet. He instinctively turned his face away and felt hot rancid breath against his cheek. “You idiot. You just crushed the fucking crop, didn’t you?” He was shook so hard his teeth rattled. “Well answer me. Did you or didn’t you?”

“I’m sorry,” he said, but the words caught in his throat and sounded more like a gasp than actual words. Every part of him wanted to lash out, but the consequences of laying his hands on one of the landowners would get him immediately thrown out of the steading. He had the boys to think of. None of them would survive on their own.

“What was that, huh Grayson? Got something to say?” The hand not hanging on to Dick’s collar grasped his chin and forced his head up. “Jesus, you can’t even look at me, you little coward. Come on, look at me.”

Dick’s eyes shot open as blunt fingers dug into his jaw. He reached up and grasped Taylor’s wrist.

“Ah, there they are,” Taylor said, grinning manically as he pulled Dick flush against his chest. “I’d almost forgotten you had eyeballs. They’re usually pointed at the ground. Except when you think no one's looking. Eh, queer?”

A dozen different responses popped into Dick’s head. He swallowed all of them. “I’m sorry about the greens, but I’m sure I can salvage -”

He broke off with a gasp as he was hoisted onto his tiptoes. Taylor’s lips were getting dangerously close to his. The closeted prick. “That’s not the point though, is it Dick. You’re supposed to look after the garden. That’s your job. But instead of doing your job you were daydreaming again, and as a direct consequence you went and trampled one of the patches. We all rely on that food. You know that.”

“I’m really sorry.” Dick said, forcing the words to come out, if not strong, then hopefully a little less weedy. “I really am Taylor. It won’t happen again.” He wasn’t letting go. What the hell else did he want?

But Taylor wasn’t paying attention to him anymore. He was staring at something behind Dick and frowning. He reached down and grabbed his gun. “Do you hear that -” He asked moments before there was a deafening boom behind them. The prick finally let him go and Dick turned around just in time to see a bullet pierce Taylor’s chest.

“Oh god,” Dick gasped, stumbling backwards as he saw at least thirty figures rise over the broken wall and rush towards the town. His first thought was for his brothers. They were both still young enough to spend the majority of their days in lessons. The school stood a little way from the main square but it wouldn’t take long for the invaders to reach them.

He felt a hand grasp his ankle and flinched violently before he realised it was Tyler. The brute was reaching out for him, eyes wide and desperate. He tried to speak and blood bubbled out of his mouth. He looked terrified.

Dick thought about all of the misery and abuse the other man had caused him and his family over the last five years. He thought of his brothers. They needed his help. They were his responsibility.

For one fleeting moment he almost told Taylor he got what he deserved.He was about to abandon him when the other man’s grip tightened. He looked terrified and he was definitely bleeding out. If Dick left him he would die.

He dropped to his stomach and grabbed the landowners straining hand. “It’s OK, you’re going to be alright,” he said a little hysterically, scooting closer. He wondered if he should press down on the wound, but before he could make a decision another bullet appeared out of nowhere and snapped into Taylor’s head.

Dick tried to scream but all that escaped was a strangled sob. He rose unsteadily to his knees and flinched when a bullet hit the dirt less than a foot from where he was kneeling. He felt like a deer caught in the headlights. He realised that whoever had their sights set on him obviously had a very clear view. He had nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. The nearest house was at least a minutes sprint away. He was going to die. He was going to die and his brothers -

He heard screaming and turned slowly to the compound. A small group of people were running into the fields. He heard shots ring out and a few of them went down. He couldn’t see who they were. Was it possible his brothers were among them.

He heard a deep chuckle and felt his head whip round so fast he he nearly gave himself whiplash. Two men he had never seen before stood less than twenty feet behind him. They were both behemoth’s. The younger, slightly shorter one was holding a machete. His eyes widened when he saw Dick. He took a small step forward before a flash of fury covered his features, there and gone in an instant before shifting into an amused smirk.

Dick tried to back away and another shot rang out, hitting the ground in front of him. He jumped backwards and collided with Taylor, falling to the floor with a complete lack of his usual grace. He blatantly realised he was lying in a pool of sticky wetness and almost gagged when he saw bright red blood coating his fingers. His panicked gaze jumped to the approaching men and then settled on Taylor’s gun.

“I really wouldn’t kid,” The older one said. The one with the gun that was now directed at Dick’s chest.

Dick’s hand twitched. He was fast, but was he fast enough to dodge a bullet? They had excellent aim. There was two of them.

“Seriously, pretty,” the younger one said, pulling a gun from his holster and pointing it at Dick’s face. “Don’t.”

“Stay away,” he said instead as he sidled around Taylor and continued to edge backwards. He could feel his eyes start to sting and realised that for the first time since he could remember he was close to actually crying. The boys. Where in the hell were the boys!

“You got anything on you kiddo?” The older one asked, his eyes shaded by a pair of dark sunglasses.

“You mean, like valuable?” Dick asked, gesturing wildly at himself. “A pack of tomato seeds?”

The older guy chuckled and turned to his younger companion. “Kid’s got one hell of a face on him. People will pay top dollar,” he said with a grin before turning back to Dick. “Cute kid. Real funny. I meant any weapons.”

Dick debated lying but he doubted boasting about an imaginary bazooka was any less likely to get him killed. “No, just the seeds.”

“Good. Get up and come here.”

“You’re joking?” Dick said before he could help himself. “You just killed Taylor. I’m not going -”

“You can either come to me pretty, or I can come get you,” the younger one said, letting the implied threat hang heavily between them.

Dick felt like he was swallowing sandpaper. He got unsteadily to his feet but he couldn’t make himself take the necessary steps towards them. He saw the younger man frown and seconds later they were coming at him.

Dick stumbled back, his hands poised as he waited for what would inevitably be a very painful and terrifying end.

The older guy holstered his gun when Dick was within grabbing distance and gestured to his younger companion, who was staring at Dick in a way that was setting off definite alarm bells. “Go ahead,” he said.

Dick wondered what the hell he meant when a meaty hand grabbed the back of his neck. He stumbled, instinctively pulling back and nearly falling flat on his face when the other man wrapped a meaty hand around his arm and he was dragged towards the town.

“We don’t have anything,” Dick said, hissing as the hand around his bicep tightened painfully. He heard screaming. “What’s happening?” he asked, attempting to plant his feet only to be dragged to his knees. He managed to right himself, suciking in a sharp breath when he saw the first group of corpses littering the ground. “No,” he whispered, shaking his head in denial as he saw a group of unfamiliar men and women ransack their home.

“Too easy. The town’s full of farmers and craftsmen,” the older one muttered, sounding displeased.”There isn’t a real fighter among them.”

It didn’t take the attackers long to take control of the steading. Dick was taken to the main hall and pushed among a group of around twenty other men and women. Even as he watched a group of kids were dragged towards them. He saw Tim and Damian and thought he might actually faint with relief. He grabbed both of the boys the moment they came into the huddled circle of town folk.

Tim looked grimly up at him, his big eyes shrewd as they danced over the surrounding invaders. Damian, who at sixteen was already an inch taller than Dick, shook off his hold but pressed his shoulder against Dick’s.

“What’s going on?” he asked, his voice pitched low enough to avoid attention.

Dick shook his head, his eyes fixed on the tall, bald man walking towards them. The crowd of invaders made way for him, clearing a path and even bowing their heads slightly as he passed. Their leader then, Dick mused, his hold on Tim tightening as he pulled the boy closer, and dangerous if he could so easily subdue such a dangerous group of people.

“This is all that’s left. Bit of a pathetic bunch, aren’t they?” he asked, his polished voice sounding decidedly unimpressed. Dick dropped his gaze as the bald man looked over them, hunching over slightly to try and block Tim from sight. “Except that one. He’s just full of spitfire, isn’t he?”

Dick just knew who the bald man was talking about. He looked up in horror, his hand fisting in the back of Damian’s shirt. He shook his head desperately. “Don’t,” he whispered, trying not to shake some sense into his little brother. “They’re killers.”

“And who is this?” the bald man exclaimed, suddenly sounding delighted. Dick felt Damian’s chest puff out, his shoulder slipping in front of Dick’s and literally shouldering him and tim behind him. “Ah, protective are you killer?”

“What is it you want?” Mayor Garcia demanded, stepping forward with his head held high. He was frightened, it was clear, but he was trying to keep it together for his people.

Dick chanced a look at him and noticed the mayor looked pretty beaten up. His arm wasn’t hanging right and blood had soaked a wound at the back of his head. Jesus.

“You’re the man in charge I presume?” the bald man asked, his tone completely losing its playful edge.

“My name is Mayor Anthony Garcia and yes, I run this town.”

“Oh well then, Mayor Anthony Garcia, you may call me Mr Luthor and although I’m loathe to correct a man in his own town, I feel it’s only fair to inform you that you may have used to run this town, but it's recently come under new management,” Luthor gestured with his hand and the older one that originally took Dick raised his gun and shot a bullet into Anthony’s head.

Dick hit the floor, dragging Tim and Damian with him. The rest of the group quickly followed, until they were a huddled, silent mass. Everyone except Lucy, Anthony’s wife. Lucy was screaming, clutching her husband in clear horror.

Somebody needed to calm her down. He had the boys. He should stay with them. Except no one was trying to help Lucy. Dick saw the older one raise his gun again and Dick moved on autopilot, jumping to his feet with his arms held wide. “Don’t,” he said, moving their attention away from Lucy. “No one else needs to die. We aren’t fighting you.”

“That one is hurting my ears,” another man said, his skin a sickly shade of white. He had two hideous scars across both cheeks, giving the impression of an everlasting ghastly smile. “It’s upsetting.”

“She’ll calm down,” Dick said, trying to sound soothing. He gestured sharply with his hand when Damian made to stand up and was silently relieved when he did what he was told for once. “She will, she’s just in shock,” he took a step forward, stiffening when at least ten sets of guns were trained on him. He raised his hands appeasingly, hoping to God they weren’t going to shoot him on principle. “Lucy,” he said, trying to sound soothing. “Please, come here.”

They were friends. He’d known her for years. He couldn’t -

The gun went off. The scarred one grinned at Dick, shrugging as he blew the barrel of the gun with a high pitched giggle.

Dick didn’t get the opportunity to react. He felt a grip around his waist and was yanked down so fast he practically fell in Damian’s lap. He felt Damian’s arm tighten around his waist and briefly squeezed the boy's hand, a silent apology. Dick reached out again until he had an arm wrapped around Tim, pulling him close and breathing in his scent as he tried to slow his thumping heart. Their group was silent. No one was crying anymore.

“So then,” Luthor said, the jovial tone back in his voice. “Let’s see what you wonderful people can do to earn your keep.”

Chapter Text

“Skills?” A tall, beautiful woman enquired, her ruby red lips the same vibrant shade as her waist length hair.

“I - I teach the children,” Olivia stuttered, her hands visibly shaking as she turned desperately to her husband.

“Go to that group,” she said, pointing to the small huddle that held their doctor and architect.

“Skills?” she asked, looking to Olivia’s husband Mark.

“I herd the cattle, farm the land -”

“Over there,” she said, pointing to another group that consisted of farmhands and manual labourers. Something told Dick he didn’t want to be included in that group.

“Skills?” she asked, looking over Dick with interest when it was his turn.

“Performer,” he said, which was true enough. When he wasn’t gardening during the day he spent the majority of his evenings entertaining the town. It was one of the main reason they had initially agreed that he and his brothers could stay.

He was surprised with Luthor stepped beside the woman. His gaze travelled slowly over Dick before lingering on his face. “Is that a euphemism for whore?”

Dick could feel his face burning. He made himself keep eye contact with the other man, hoping to hell that Damian wasn’t going to try and defend him. He put one hand behind his back, gesturing the word stop just to be safe. “I’m an acrobat and contortionist,” Dick said, pushing down his unease when Luthor just smirked at him. He forced himself not to squirm. “I can play the fiddle and flute,” he continued. “I know how to speak several languages -”

“So a talented whore,” Luthor said, causing the group to break out into laughter.

“He isn’t a whore,” Damian snarled, grabbing Dick’s shoulder and dragging him back behind him. “And if you try to touch him I will -”

“I want that one,” the older invader said, removing his glasses and relieving one single blue eye. He gestured his glasses in Damian’s direction.

“No,” Dick breathed, his grip on his brother tightening as he tried to drag him back.

“Bit young for that sort of thing isn’t he, Slade?” Luthor asked, sounding mildly put-off.

“As a trainee. He’ll make a good solider, given the proper training.”

Luthor shrugged. “Have him then.”

“I want the whore,” the other one, the younger one that had captured him said, his smile cruel as he looked over at Dick, offering a salacious wink.

Damian snapped. He pushed Dick aside and launched himself at the other man with a roar. Dick cried out, about to interfere when Tim wrapped his hands around his waist, shaking his head up at him desperately as he tried to drag Dick back.

It all happened in a matter of seconds. Before Damian had any hope of reaching the younger invader Slade appeared out of nowhere, grabbing the back of Damian’s neck and slamming him into the dirt face first. Dick heard his brother head hit the ground and felt like someone had punched all of the breathe out of him. Damian was deathly still.

Slade’s expression didn’t change as he flipped the boy on his back. Dick could tell he was breathing but Slade pressed two fingers against Damian’s neck before grabbing him around the middle and throwing him easily over one shoulder.

Dick didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t rush them. He still had Tim to think about. But Slade was taking his brother.

“I think a great many of us would like that one Jason,” Luthor said, continuing as if Damian’s outburst never happened. “A contortionist with a face like that is likely to gain quite the pretty penny at market. Why should I let you have him?”

“Because I asked, and I’ve never done that before.”

“It is intriguing,” Luthor said, thoughtful. “Very well, you can have him. But if he has the skills he claims to have I’ll expect him to put them to use for us all. The evenings have become terribly dull of late and it’s been some time since we were last properly entertained.”

The way he spoke made the hair on the back of Dick’s neck rise. He found Jason looking at him. He crooked a finger, gesturing Dick forward. “I-my brother,” he said, gripping Tim so hard that he felt his brother flinch. “I’m his guardian. He doesn’t have anyone -”

“Do you want the whelp?” Jason asked, looking bored as he addressed Luthor.

“I’ve no use for it. If you want to take on the extra burden it makes no difference to me.”

“Bring him,” Jason said, gesturing again.

Dick took a deep breath and forced himself to go to the young invader. He was prepared when the man took a rough hold of his arm but was surprised when he was pulled away from the square. He turned to Slade and Damian and was relieved when he realised they were trailing after them.

“What about the others?” Dick asked, his heart hammering in his chest.

“You’ve got your brothers with you. Surely that’s enough,” Slade said, stepping beside Dick so he and Tim were sandwiched between the two invaders.

“They’re our friends,” Dick insisted, trying not to wince at the way Damian was being jostled around on Slade’s shoulder. “Please, just tell me if they’re going to be harmed.”

“Who can say,” Jason said, the bored tone back in his voice. “They’re be well cared for, providing they behave. But once they’re sold anything could happen to them.”

“You plan to sell them?” Tim asked, his voice small but utterly damning. “They’re human beings.”

“No, little one,” Slade said, his tone not unkind. “They’re slaves, same as you.”

“So you’re slavers?” Dick asked, trying to ignore the urge to start fighting. To escape. He had his brothers with him. Damian was hurt. He couldn’t take the risk.

“Among other things,” Jason said, his hand leaving Dick’s arm only to fist in his hair and drag his head back, forcing him to bare his throat. Dick felt his hand spasm around Tim’s wrist. “The polite term though, pretty one, is soldier.”

“Soldiers don’t kill innocent people,” Dick snarled, trying to pull free. He grabbed Jason’s arm and instinctively twisted, using a move his mentor had taught him in another life. He broke the other man’s hold and for a few incredibly satisfying seconds he was free, but then he was struck a thunderous backhand to the face that sent him crashing to the ground. He heard Tim cry out but before he could try to reassure the boy Jason was in his space, his snarling face less than an inch from Dick’s

“Ah-ah,” he warned, his fingers digging into Dick’s jaw. “The only reason you’ve not received the same treatment as the little dog over there is because you haven’t fought us. Start being a nuisance and I’ll stop being nice,” his grip tightened painfully. “You understand beautiful?”

“Dick,” Tim cried, his voice high and panicked. “Please, don’t hurt him.”

“You’re upsetting the toddler,” Jason whispered, his lips almost brushing against Dick’s throbbing cheek. “Tell me you understand the rules.”

“I understand,” Dick said, trying not to push away the other man’s hold. “I’m sorry. Please -”

“Good enough sweetheart, but only because you asked so nicely,” Jason said, grabbing Dick’s arm and hauling him back to his feet. “So where do you and the brats live?”

“It’s a one room shanty,” Dick said, resisting the urge to rub his aching cheek. “You won’t fit.”

Slade stopped abruptly before walking up to one of the landowners houses. It belonged to David, Nina and their three kids. It had three bedrooms, a bathroom and kitchen. It was practically a mansion compared to how he and the boys lived.

“This will do,” Slade said, before kicking the door open with enough force that it was left hanging off it’s hinges. He walked into the lounge and dropped Damian unceremoniously on the couch.

“Sit,” Jason said, pushing him a little in Damian’s direction.

Dick didn’t argue. He went to his brothers side, pulling Damian’s head in his lap as he gently stroked his hair. The boy had a huge, egg sized lump on his head. He would undoubtedly have a concussion. Although their captors didn’t seem concerned Dick was desperate for him to wake up.

“Do you think he’s OK?” Tim asked, perching next to Dick on the couch.

“I think he’s going to have a pretty sore head,” Dick said, trying to smile as Tim hovered nervously over his shoulder. “We just need to wake him up and then keep his calm when he is awake,” he lifted his arm, wrapping it around Tim’s waist. “You OK?” He asked, keeping his tone low as he pressed the kid firmer against his side.

Tim breathed heavily into his neck. He sounded wrecked. “What happens now?”

“We keep our heads down and wait,” Dick answered, feeling a shiver of unease when he heard their captors speaking in the next room. “They can’t watch us all the time. We’re going to be OK. I promise. Just keep doing what you’re doing. Stay calm and quiet, OK?”

Tim nodded, looking a little broken as he rested his head against Dick’s shoulder. “I want to go home Dick.”

“I know,” Dick said, spreading his fingers through Damian’s hair. “Just try to stay calm kiddo. We’ll be OK. I promise.”

Chapter Text

“Go on then,” Jason said, gesturing with his knife. “Entertain us.”

“Excuse me?” Dick asked, looking up from the floor where he was huddled with Damian and Tim. They had quickly been moved from the only available couch the moment their captors reentered the room. They had passed around water and for a time the room was quiet as the slavers seemingly relaxed.

Damian, thankfully, was still too dazed to do more than glare at Jason as the other man leant forward from his sprawled position on the couch. “You heard me. I want to see these so called skills of yours. Check what it is I’ve paid for.”

Dick looked pointedly around the small space. “There isn’t room,” he said, feeling a flutter of irritation.

Damian’s grin only widened. “Don’t need much space for a few tricks, do you. Come on beautiful, don’t be shy. Up you get.”

Dick took a deep breath before getting smoothly to his feet. He tried to convey calm to both of the boys before moving forward into a handstand. The motions were grounding in their familiarity and Dick simply allowed his body to flow through the movements. He lifted one arm, balancing easily as he opened his legs into a side split. He held the pose for a short while before straightening his legs and moving down onto his forearms. He brought his legs forward, holding the pose as the tips of his feet hovered just above his face. He straightened his arms, rolling forward into a bridge before lifting one leg up above us his head and holding the pose. He wondered if they had seen enough, lowering his leg and using his core muscles to straighten until he was standing upright.

Jason was staring at him, his eyes trained on Dick with a frightening intensity that made Dick want to grab the boys and bolt.

“That was very impressive,” Slade said, breaking the uncomfortable pause. “Very impressive.”

“Too bad,” Jason said, smirking at the older man. “This one's mine.”

“I am aware,” Slade said, frowning very slightly. He turned back to Dick, his expression shrewd. “Do you have any fighting skills, or are the movements purely ornamental?”

“I’m not a fighter,” Dick said, resisting the urge to wrap his arms around his waist as he met the other man’s single eye. “None of us are,” he said, pointedly looking down at Damian.

“A waste,” the mercenary said, his tone mocking. “But only as far as you’re concerned.”

“What do you mean,” Dick asked. He really, really didn’t like the way the man was looking at him. He knew what lust looked like, but there was something much more calculating in Slade’s single eye. He didn’t know how to interpret it, which meant it would be much too easy to make a mistake and trigger the man's very obvious temper.

“You are too old to learn, but not them. They have great potential. Have you trained them as you are?”

“I’m not nearly as talented as Dick,” Tim said, piping up before Dick could find the words. “And Damian is even worse than I am. We help out though, however we can.”

“Dick and Tim,” Slade said, emphasising DIck’s name in a way he would have considered childish from anyone else. “And what is your name, little dog?”

Damian snarled, his eyes glazed but no less fierce because of it. “None of your fucking business. And I’m no one’s goddamn dog you ancient fuck.”

Dick immediately jumped into Slade’s path as the other man surged to his feet. “Wait,” he said desperately, holding his hands out in appeasement. “He didn’t mean anything by it. He’s concussed. He doesn’t know -”

Slade hit him. A cuff to the head that sent Dick stumbling into a doorway. He turned as Slade caught Damian’s shirtfront and dragged him onto his tiptoes. He lifted his hand, preparing to strike -

Dick reacted without thinking, rushing the merchant. He barely made it more than two steps when Jason tackled him around the waist and quite literally pull him off his feet. The bigger man fell down laughing on the couch, dragging Dick with him, who thrashed wildly in a desperate attempt to break free. Jasn wrapped one burly arm around both of Dick’s and fisted a hand through his hair, dragging his head back until it was resting on the mercenaries shoulder.

“You’re a little spitfire, aren’t you?” he said, laughing into the side of Dick’s neck. “I’m not going to lie, seeing how flexible you are is a massive fucking turn on. I mean I know you said you were an acrobat but Jesus-fuck. That was something else. I feel like I’ve won the fucking lottery”

Immobilized and panicking, Dick got desperate. He tried to bite the other man, snapping at his ear. Jason stopped laughing, the hand in Dick’s hair suddenly a lot tighter as flipped them over and practically smothered Dick with his bulk. “First and last warning,” he hissed as his free hand seized Dick’s jaw in a bruising hold. “It would be a shame to lose those pretty teeth of yours, but if you ever try to bite me again I will pull them out one at a time. You fucking hear me?”

“Get off me,” Dick said, crying out as he desperately tried to buck the other man off. He couldn’t breathe -

“Enough,” Slade said, grabbing Jason and dragging him off Dick with seemingly little effort, despite the fact he was holding a thrashing Damian in his other hand. “It’s late and I’m fucking exhausted. Do you have any binding?”

“What the hell do you think?” Jason snarled, pulling his arm free with a pointed look. “Not like we expected to suddenly own a goddamn creche.”

A distant part of Dick felt a flare of irritation. He was pretty sure he was older than Jason, at least by a few years. He quickly pushed the annoyance down, figuring there were far more important things he should be concentrating on than name calling.

“I have one set of handcuffs,” Slade looked down at Damian, over at Dick and then Tim. “We appear to be outnumbered,” he said, sounding amused.

Jason huffed out a breath before striding towards Tim, hooking an arm around the boys waist and throwing him over his shoulder like he weighed nothing. He grinned as he approached Dick and it took him about two seconds to realise what he was planning to do when he abruptly found himself thrown over the man's other shoulder. He locked gazes with Tim, who looked about as impressed as Dick felt about their positions. “I’m feeling generous, so I’ll take these two tonight. You going to be able to handle the little dog?”

“No,” Dick said, kicking out at the same instant that Tim started thrashing. “No please, don’t separate us. Stop,” he shouted as he and Tim were hauled to one of the bedrooms.

Slade paused in the doorway, his hand wrapped around Damian's scruff. “Mighty generous of you, Todd, all things considered.”

“That’s me alright. A generous sort of guy.”

“Not tempted by your new trinket then?”

Dick felt Jason shrug a moment before he was dumped on the bed. Tim landed on top of him, momentarily knocking the breath out of both of them. “If you really want to know, I’m tired. Not like he’s going anywhere.”

“Please,” Dick said, his arm outstretched towards Damian. “Please, don’t take him. Please.”

Jason looked back at Dick, shrugging slightly. “Sorry beautiful, but I don’t own the little dog. Don’t worry though. Slade’s taste don’t run to kids. He won’t touch him.”

“He’s already beat the crap out of him,” Dick said incredulously as Slade shut the door with a mocking wave. “He’ll kill him.”

“He’ll tie him to a chair with the handcuffs and he’ll go to sleep,”Jason said before looking over Tim and Dick with a thoughtful frown. He stepped towards the bed, his gaze accessing. “Tim,” he said, surprisingly gentle.

“What?” the boy asked, pressing closer against Dick as their abductor loomed over them.

“You love your brother right?”

A slight nod.

“Good, that’s good,” he got onto the bed, hooking his arm around Dick’s waist and pulling him away from Tim and into his embrace. “That means I can trust you not to do anything stupid. Right?”

Another, weaker nod.

“You’re a smart kid. I can tell. So here is the deal Tim. I’m going to be holding onto Dick tonight, to make sure he doesn’t try anything stupid like kill me in my sleep. And you, you’re going to stay right here next to him. I’m not going to hold onto you or tie you down. You’re just going to stay right here next to Dick, all night. And you’re not going to cause any trouble. Got it?”

“Yes,” Tim breathed, his eyes huge as he looked up at Jason.

“And if, for any reason, you decide you can’t follow my very simple rules and I wake up in the night to find you doing something stupid, or if you try to run away, I’m going to hurt Dick. I’ll start by breaking all of his fingers and then I’ll shred his feet so he can’t walk. And it will be all your fault. You understand, right?”

Dick’s elbow seemed to move of its own violation and, to his surprise, he managed to land a blow. He felt Jason’s snarl against his neck a moment before he was flipped face first onto the bed, Jason’s bulk pinning him flat.

“You don’t like it when you’re pinned down like this, do you beautiful?” He asked, practically spitting in Dick’s face. “Bad memories perhaps?”

“Leave my brother alone,” he snarled, bucking and hating the other man for his obscene strength. It wasn’t fair.

“It works both ways you know. From now on, whenever you lash out or disobey I hurt the kid.”

Dick felt like someone had thrown a bucket of cold water over him. “Don’t -”

“You don’t get to decide the rules beautiful,” Jason breathed, maneuvering them both until they were in a goddamn spooning position. “I mean it, and believe me when I say I’m not above hurting kids. So behave or I make him pay.”

“I’m sorry,” Dick said and he could feel himself shake. “I won’t fight. I won’t -”

“We’ll see,” Jason said, yawning in his ear. “For now, just let me get a decent night sleep, OK beautiful?”

Dick nodded his head, looking to his brother with what he hoped was a calming expression. Tim was sat on the bed, his back ramrod straight. The kid was clearly at breaking point. Dick held out his hand, keeping his voice as gentle as possible. “Come here kiddo,” he said, beckoning until Tim lay down on the bed, his head only inches from Dick’s.

He threaded their fingers together, smiling gently as Tim stared hopelessly back at him. “It’s going to be ok,” he said, running soothing circles over Tim’s knuckles. “I promise. Just go to sleep Tim. Everything’s OK.”

Except their lives were officially in tatters. Except his other brother was alone in a room with a murderer. Except Dick was in bed with a man who had brought him for the sole purpose of raping him.

We need to get out.

Chapter Text

Jason woke up to the pleasant sensation of a warm, pliable body pressed against his front. He raised his head a little, his eyes taking in the way Tim and Dick were facing one another, their fingers entwined in sleep. The sight made some indescribable lodge in Jason’s throat.

He lay back down, allowing himself a moment of indulgence as he ran his frigid hands under Dick’s shirt, absorbing his heat and making the other man frown prettily in his sleep. Dick started squirming, clearly coming awake.

“Shush beautiful,” Jason whispered in his ear, enjoying the way it made the other man flinch. “You don’t want to wake up Tim, do you?“

Dick briefly looked over his shoulder at Jason, their eyes locking before he turned away. He shuddered once and then stilled. “What now?”

“Now? Now we just relax, maybe get some breakfast.”

“And after?”

“Why don’t you try living a little more in the present, beautiful. No point worrying about things you can’t control.”

“I want to see Damian.”

Jason allowed the fingers on Dick’s ribs to dig in, just a little. “What you want doesn’t matter anymore.”

“Please,” Dick whispered and he sounded wrecked. “He’s just a kid. He’s going to be scared. He -”

“Slade picked him for a reason,” Jason interrupted, pressing his face against DIck’s hair and breathing in his scent. “Kid’s going to be fine.”

“Don’t touch me,” he suddenly snarled, showing a bit of temper for the first time since he’d been picked up.

“But I want to touch you. I mean seriously, have you looked at you? You’re beautiful.”

“You’re disgusting,” Dick hissed, twisting just a little. He obviously didn’t want to disturb Tim. “Get that thing away from me.”

It took his a few seconds but Jason finally felt the penny drop. Hell, he was a young guy, he had someone pressed against him in bed. So he had a little wood and it was pressed up against Dick’s back. Who the hell could blame him?

Jesus, he was barely touching Dick and the other man was practically hyperventilating. “I need some space,” he gasped.

“Tough.”

Dick buried his face in the pillow, clearly attempting to get his breathing under control. Jason felt movement and peered over Dick’s shoulder. Tim was awake. His eyes were large but calm as he locked eyes with Jason before resting a gentle hand on Dick’s shoulder.

“You’re OK,” he said, sounding surprisingly strong. “Come on Dick. You’re OK.”

“What’s wrong with him?” Jason asked, amused by Tim though he couldn’t say why. The kid was a beanpole, all sharp edges and gangly limbs. His hands and feet were too big for his body. But his eyes were determined as he stared back at Jason.

“He doesn’t like being touched by strangers,” Tim said, his gaze dancing over Jason’s hand tucked under Dick’s shirt. “And he’s worried about Damian. I am too.”

Jason felt his eyes roll as he moved out from behind Dick, immediately missing his warmth as he stretched his arms above his head. “Fine,” he grumbled, striding out of the room and knocking on Slade's door.

“Fuck off,” came the immediate response.

“I want the kid.”

“Why?”

“Breakfast.”

There was a pause, the sound of a scuffle before Slade pulled open the door and practically threw Damian at him. “Here,” he said. “Keep an eye on him. Our little friend here tried to strangle me in my sleep last night,” his single eye passed over Jason.” Did yours cause any issues?”

“Nope,” Jason said, tightening his hold as the kid started to squirm. “If they misbehave the other one gets punished. Seems to have calmed them both down.”

Slade growled once before stepping back and slamming the door in Jason’s face. “So,” he said brightly, looking down at the little dog. “You sleep well?”

“What the hell do you think?” the kid spat at him, actively twisting to get free. “Where is Grayson?”

“You call you brother Grayson?” Jason asked, surprised.

“Fine, Dick then. Where is he?”

“Through here,” Jason said, releasing the kid with a small shove. Dick jumped to his feet the moment Damian entered. His hands hovered above the kid's face before pulling him into a hug.

“You OK?”

A sharp nod against Dick’s chest. Kid was clearly resigned to having the hell huged out of him. “And you?”

“We’re fine,” Tim said, his eyes still on Jason.

All three of them turned to look at him. Two pairs of blue eyes and one pair of green. Jason felt a lurch in his stomach. “So, breakfast?” he asked.

They continued to stare at him. Despite himself Jason felt a smile tug up the corner of his lips. “I know you guys are new at the whole slavery thing, but it’s traditional for the slave to make breakfast.”

Dick put his hand on Damian’s arm, practically dragging him back when he went for Jason. “Why do you want?” he asked between gritted teeth.

Jason shrugged. “Whatever’s etable. Go check the kitchen.” Jason grabbed Tim as he passed, dragging his back. “Not you. You stay with me. Make sure big brother behaves.”

Dick hesitated for a moment before reaching out and grabbing Damian’s arm, pulling the young man after him as he quietly but persistently grilled him for information.

Not a bad idea.

“So, your big brothers fucking gorgeous. Don’t you think?”

Tim did not look impressed.

“He must get a lot of attention looking like that. Maybe not all of it’s good. That why he doesn’t like being touched?”

“I imagine his aversion to being molested by you has more to do with the fact that your advances are most definitely unwelcome and that you have in fact enslaved us.”

Jason shrugged. “Maybe he’s just picky.”

Tim averted his gaze for a moment before a shrewd expression passed his features. “You’re testing him aren’t you. That’s why you keep leaving him unsupervised. To see if he’ll leave without one of us.”

“It’s not a test,” Jason said, snagging the kids skinny wrist and dragging him into the kitchen. “It’s the begining of your training. Stay sharp though kiddo. It might mean you don’t just end up a bed slave like big brother when you grow up.”

Dick was on his tiptoes, his hand outstretched for something when Jason’s words clearly registered. His only response was a slight tightening of his lips before he turned back to the cupboard.

“Need help there beautiful?” He asked, immeasurably pleased with himself when he reached over Dick’s shoulder and snagged a bag of oats. He placed them in Dick’s hand, smiling at the annoyed look on his face when he turned around to the sight of the little dog rushing towards him with a butcher knife in hand.

Chapter Text

Jason tensed as he prepared to disarm the boy by any means necessary. He took a second to consider how pissed Slade was going to be when he broke the little dog's neck when Grayson appeared out of nowhere and literally knocked the kid off his feet. They both fell in a heap on the floor, Dick’s hand around the boy’s wrist in a clear attempt to stop him from stabbing either of them.

Fucker could move.

Grumbling, Jason grabbed Dick by his scruff and shoved him aside. He ignored the pained grunt the smaller man released when his head slammed into a wall and turned back to the monster. Jason didn’t hesitate, slamming his heel down on the boys wrist. The kid grunted, his hand releasing the knife before Jason kicked it aside.

“That,” he said, grabbing Damian by his shirt and dragging him to his feet. “Was really fucking stupid.”

“He didn’t mean anything,” Dick gasped, his voice verging on hysterical. “Please, you don’t have to hurt him.”

Jason turned to the other man, almost dragging the boy off his feet as he shook him. “Unless I’m mistaken beautiful, the little monster here was about to fucking stab me.”

“But he didn’t. I handled it.”

Which was true, but it didn’t excuse the kids actions. “You’re not mine,” Jason said, turning to the kid and grabbing his chin in a bruising hold. “So I can’t punish you. That’s Slade’s job,” he dragged the boy to the sofa, pushing him down hard. “But I can hurt Dick and Tim when you misbehave. And believe me you little psychopath, coming at me with a knife definitely counts as misbehaving.”

He turned, gesturing at Dick and then Tim. “So dealer's choice. Which one is it going to be?”

If looks could kill Jason was be the deadest mother fucker that ever died. Damian’s eyes slitted before he turned away. Prim little fucker. “I refuse to chose.”

“Yeah?” Jason asked, steeling himself before turning to Dick. The other man’s eyes widened, his body twitching as he clearly fought the urge to run. “Well then I guess i’ll just have to pick on your behalf,” he grabbed Dick’s bicep and pointed his finger at Tim and then Damian. “You two, stay here until I’m done. Make breakfast or something.”

Both boys rushed forward. Damian looked ready to kill and Tim had a pleading expression on his face. Jason took Dick’s wrist and twisted in behind his back, high enough to make the older man gasp. “Take another step and I’ll break his fucking wrist.”

Tim caught Damian’s arm, dragging him back a step despite his slighter frame. Damian looked ready to explode.

When he was sure they were going to stay put he smiled brightly. “Good boys,” he said, forcing a smile as Dick started to squirm. He tightened his grip, causing the acrobat to gasp in pain. “You, come with me.”

He didn’t give Dick much of a choice as he marched him back to their bedroom. Slade appeared just as they passed his room. His shrewd gaze passed over Dick with interest. “Everything OK?”

“Fucking peachy. Except your little monster tried to stab me.”

He wasn’t surprised when Slade laughed. “He appears to have missed?”

“Pretty here stopped him before I had to disarm the little fucker.”

“You seem to be holding onto him rather roughly for someone who may have saved your life.”

Jason snorted. They both knew there was no way the kids blade would have touched him. “House rules. One of them misbehaves, the other’s get punished.”

“Is that so? And does the same apply to Damian if one of yours misbehave?”

Jason shrugged. “Yeah, sure. Whatever,” he opened the door and pushed Dick inside. “Just don’t lay your hands on one of mine and I’ll do the same. If you’ll excuse me.”

He slammed the door close and rounded on Dick. The smaller man was backing away slowly.

“So,” Jason said, going for causal. “What would you consider an appropriate punishment for a slave that just tried to stab his owners travelling companion?”

“A ten minute timeout?” Dick said, looking surprised at his own sass.

“Nice try,” Jason said a second before he pounced.

He didn’t expect Dick to resist and was a little surprised with the ease in which he danced out of Jason’s grasp. “impressive,” Jason said, trying not to show his irritation. “But you’re really just pissing me off more.”

“What are you going to do to me?” Dick asked, his expression intense. He was obviously afraid but he was doing an impressive job of holding it in.

Jason went for him again and the other man almost bent himself backwards as he ducked beneath Jason’s grasp. Dick backflipped out of the soldiers path and made his way to the opposite side of the room. It was extraordinary. Nobody moved like that. No one.

“Seriously Dick. You’re not doing yourself any favours.”

“You expect me to just let you hurt me. I’m not going to -”

Jason moved again, but this time he pulled free a knife and threw it at Dick’s head. The older man predictely ducked and Jason took the opportunity to slam into him. He had a good four inches of Dick and about fifty pounds of muscles. He took him clean off his feet and slammed them both into the nearest wall. He heard the soft sound of Dick’s grunt of pain as they hit and felt a small slither of satisfaction when he realised just how much bigger he was. He remembered a time when -

“Get off me,” Dick grunted, his tone clearly distressed as he started to squirm and attempt to wriggle free.

Jason grabbed Dick by his shoulders and threw him onto the bed. He jumped on top of the older man, forcing his weight into Dick as he caught both of his wrists in one hand and pinned him flat. “I have to say, you really are incredibly fucking beautiful,” Dick’s chest was heaving, his sapphire blue eyes widening prettily as he felt the clear proof of Jason’s very real interest. “You already knew that though, didn’t you?” He leaned into the smaller man, pressing his nose into the junction between his neck and shoulder. “You don’t manage to survive in this new world with a face like that and two boys in toe without realising how to work it to your advantage, do you Dicky-bird?”

“I’m not what you think I am,” Dick said, his voice surprisingly strong considering the way his entire body was trembling. “I’ve never -”

“You’ve never fucked for protection, for food or shelter?” He bit the side of Dick’s neck, causing the other man to flinch violently. “Oh sweetheart, you’re not lying to me are you?”

“I’m not lying,” Dick said, his hands flexing in Jason’s grasp. “I’m not a whore. I’m part of a family that was lucky enough to find a community that were willing to accept us, providing we worked for our keep. That included farming and parlour tricks,” he shifted, shying away when Jason pressed into him. “I’m not a whore.”

“Well, maybe not yet,” Jason said, sitting up and pulling the older man into his lap. Dick predictably started to struggle so Jason grabbed the back of his hair and dragged his head back to what must have been a painful angle. “But we’ll see about that, hmmm? For now we need to deal with the matter of your little brothers behaviour. So, let’s see,” he took Dick’s wrist in both of his hands, his grip gentle before tightening, twisting and -

God,” Dick cried, muffling his cry as he pressed his face into the younger mans shoulder. Jason released his arm and he immediately drew it protectively against his chest.

“It’s a clean break,” Jason said, petting Dick’s soft hair soothingly as the other man tried to reign in his erratic breathing. “I’ll take you to the healer after breakfast,” he stood up, wrapping his arm around Dick’s slender waist. “Now let’s go show baby brother the consequences of his actions.”

Chapter Text

“I didn’t think he would hurt Grayson,” Damian mumbled, looking for all the world like an overgrown five year old as he picked at his sleeve. “I didn’t -”

“That’s the problem,” Tim snapped, poking Damian hard in the chest. “You didn’t think. You’re always so sure your way is the right way. But it isn’t. Not always.”

“What should I do then?” Damian demanded, knocking Tim’s hand away with a growl when the smaller boy tried to pass him a spatula. “They’re enslaving us Drake. And you’re making them breakfast.”

“Have you seen those two?” Tim demanded, trying to keep his voice down. “They’re fighters. Killers. We don’t stand a chance if we try to use brute force against people like that. We need to be smart and bide our time. They can’t watch us all the time.”

“And what happens if we do manage to slip away? Should we live in the wastelands? Two boys and an acrobat. Do you think we’d last very long?”

“No,” Tim admitted, resisting the urge to wrap his arms tightly around his waist. He remembered their time in the badlands, much more clearly than Damian. They had nearly died so many times. He never wanted to experience those horrors again. But what choice did they have. Remain slaves? Never.

“We need to find some bleach and poison them. See how much they enjoy their eggs when they’re choking on them,”Damian snarled furiously.

“Bleach is a poor choice for poison,” a deep voice rumbled behind them, causing both boys to spin around in alarm. Slade’s huge frame blocked the doorway. He wore a cruel, eerie smile. “The scent is too strong. You need to find something undetectable.” Slade looked hugely out of place as he sat down at Nina’s little table. It was covered with a bright blue and yellow tablecloth. There was still a vase of freshly cut flowers in its centre. “There any coffee?” He asked.

Tim jumped, caught out staring. “Yes, yes I’ll get you a cup,” he moved swiftly to the cupboard, brushing past Damian who was just stood glaring at the big man. “Help with the eggs,” he hissed, pushing his little brother towards the frying pan with a warning look.

He was just setting the mug in front of Slade when Jason and Dick entered the room. Dick looked dreadful. He was deathly pale and his hair was slick with sweat. Jason pushed the smaller man into the seat beside Slade and stepped into the kitchen.

The room was deathly silent for a few seconds, until Tim couldn’t take the silence any longer. “Dick,” he said, taking a hesitant step forward. “Are you OK?”

“He doesn’t look OK,” Slade said, his single eye roaming thoughtfully over the acrobat.

“I’m fine,” Dick said, his voice small as his eyes remained locked on the tabletop.

“Did you have to break his arm?” Slade asked, his tone disapproving. “His purpose is to perform. Luthor won’t be pleased.”

Tim felt his heart stutter in his chest. Christ, they broke his arm? He turned to Damian, silently willing him not to react. It seemed Damian had learned his lesson though. He looked painfully guilty as he stared worriedly at Dick. Their gazes crossed and Tim tried to smile reassuringly at the boy.

“Luthor can go fuck himself,” Jason said, before he took a seat opposite Dick and thrust a glass of water towards him. “Drink that and take these.”

Tim watched him push two little pills across the table. After a moment of hesitation Dick snatched up the pills and dry swallowed them. He immediately curled back into himself, his shoulders periodically trembling.

“The food children,” Slade growled, causing Tim to start violently. He turned around in a rush, serving up the eggs and bread before placing them down on the table with a slight thud. Jason looked up at him, smirking slightly as though daring Tim to say something.

The younger man hesitated a moment, before finding the courage to speak. “And the rest of us?”

“What about you?” Jason asked, shoving the food into his mouth without bothering with utensils.

“Do we get to eat?”

He paused for a moment before shrugging. “Yeah, sure. Knock yourselves out.”

Tim plated up what remained and felt a spike of unease. They wouldn’t last very long if they were expected to survive on such a meagre diet. Damian alone usually managed to eat three times as much every morning.

He placed a plate in front of Dick first before pressing his hand on his brother’s shoulder, quietly hating how he shuddered before looking up. When he realised it was Tim he offered a pained smile. Tim tried to spy the state of his brother’s wrist but he was clutching it too tightly against his chest for the boy to see anything.

Dick eyes moved to the plate before he shook his head slightly. “I’m not hungry -”

“More for me then,” Jason said, snagging the plate and pulling it towards him before Dick even finished what he was saying.

Tim looked longingly at the food before turning back to his own plate. “Eat,” he hissed at Damian, who was still staring at Dick.

“They broke his arm,” he whispered back, his eyes stricken. Despite being the youngest Damian was actually incredibly protective over his brothers. Tim knew the idea that he had caused Dick harm would resonate deeply with the other boy.

“Eat,” Tim insisted, pushing the food towards him. He didn’t know when they would get the opportunity to eat again and if he had learned anything in the new world it was that you didn’t waste food.

Jason stood up abruptly, his hand settling on Dick’s arm as he dragged the smaller man out of his chair. “Watch Tim for me,” he said to Slade. “I’m going to get Dick’s arm looked at.”

Slade waved his hand in acknowledgement and Tim watched Jason drag away his brother.