“My brother is dead because of you.”
Dick looked even more guilty than before. Rose was opening her mouth to say something more, but was cut off by a male voice coming from the hallway to the elevator.
“No, he isn’t.”
Everyone turned towards where a man was walking inside. He was dressed casually in jeans and a black hoodie. But they all saw the knife handle slightly sticking out of his boot and the gun strapped to his belt. His brown hair was down to his shoulders and his brown eyes had almost a threatening look in them. He looked around the room, before his stare settled on Rose again.
“He is dead because of Deathstroke. If you want to blame someone, then blame him.”
Then he turned to Hank.
“And you. Lay a hand on him again, and I’ll make sure you lose it.”
Dick opened his mouth to protest, but the man just pointed his finger at him, not even turning in his direction.
To everyone’s surprise, Dick’s mouth snapped shut again. And the man continued, looking at the three original Titans.
“What were you all thinking? If I remember correctly, Deathstroke had killed a bunch of amazons and almost killed you.”
He pointed at Donna.
“How could any of you let Dick go there to face him alone? And how could any of you blame him for not beating Deathstroke? Sure, Dick was trained by the best, but he is an ordinary human. I mean, for fucks sake, he was just 22. Did any of you go there to even check on him? To see if he needed help? To see if he was even alive?! You should all be grateful that you found one body and not two that day. And you.”
He turned towards the younger Titans.
“None of you were here, so don’t judge Dick’s actions based on what everyone else is saying. None of the Titans were in that church. Only Dick can tell you what really happened. Oh, and Rose. Know all the facts before you start pointing fingers. Your brother’s killer is still out there. Dick did all he could to protect him. It was Joey’s choice to jump in front of that sword. He could have stayed where he was. Deathstroke would have killed Dick and then left. It was Dick he wanted to take down.”
Suddenly, Dick’s quiet voice could be heard from behind him.
“You think he would have done it?”
The man turned towards him.
“You think he would have killed me?”
Everyone looked either confused or shocked at that question. The man sighed.
“Honestly? I don’t know. After all that happened, he would have every reason to. And yet, he never did it.”
Dick looked at the floor for a moment, before taking a deep breath and looking up again.
“What are you doing here?”
The man walked over to a couch and sat down, pointing towards the low table. Obediently, Dick sat down on it. Everyone was surprised. Dick was a leader. He was always the one in charge. Why was he suddenly doing whatever this newcomer said?
“I’m here for two reasons. One is bad, the other is worse. I’ll start with the bad. I heard that one…”
He pointed at Jason.
“Say that Titans are back. And then the news about someone falling from a high building and being caught by someone. I realized that it meant Deathstroke was back and he would be coming after you. So I packed up and took the first flight I could get on. Got in contact with some of my old… acquaintances here and they said that Deathstroke is indeed back, and has declared war on the Titans. That’s why I came here. And in the right moment.”
He glared at Hank again and the man huffed out an irritated breath.
“Look. I don’t know who you are but you can’t just waltz in here and…”
He took a few steps towards him and a few of the others noticed Dick’s eyes widening slightly. With one fluid movement, the man stood up from the couch and, in the same move, got Hank on the ground. He smirked down at him and then sat down again. Hank picked himself up and backed away to Dawn and Donna. Meanwhile, the man continued talking, as if he hadn’t been interrupted at all.
“But that’s not the only reason I’m here. I heard rumours that Deathstroke is planning something big. Whatever it is, I’m not going to let you face it alone.”
Once again, Dick looked ready to protest, but was stopped by the man glaring at him.
“Don’t argue. We are in this together. I’m not leaving you.”
“No. Joey wasn’t your fault. We all know that. Even Deathstroke.”
Dick flew up from the table.
“How is it not my fault? Joey would never get dragged into this world if I hadn’t gone to him. If I hadn’t pulled him into this. He would have kept living, thinking that Deathstroke is a wonderful father. He wouldn’t know. And it would be much better for him. I knew what Deathstroke was capable of, and I still risked Joey’s life.”
The man let his head fall forwards for a moment, his hair covering his face. When he looked up again, he had a tired look in his eyes.
“Dick. Sit down.”
The acrobat stared at him for a minute, before he flopped down on the table again. Very slowly, Kory stood up, walked over to the table and sat down behind Dick. As gently as she could, she put her hand on his shoulder. The older man looked at her with a calculating gaze, before turning to Dick again.
“Listen to me. You know what happened to us. We didn’t seek him out. He found us. He made our life a living hell. It was just a matter of time before he got tired of playing a good dad and went after Joey. You tried to stop it.”
Dick shook his head.
“No. I didn’t. Not because of Joey. After we got away and split up, I swore to never go anywhere close to Deathstroke again. Whatever happened, whatever I found out about him and his life. I would never go near him again. And then he killed Garth. And I lost it. I didn’t care what I had to do. Who I had to use. I didn’t know Joey. I didn’t know what he was like. And then, when he told us about Deathstroke. About them being a normal family. I found out about his powers and all I wanted to do was to help him. And look how it ended.”
Donna, who had been watching the scene in silence, suddenly stood up and took a few cautious steps towards them.
“Wait a second now. Who the fuck are you and what are you talking about?”
The man looked at Dick with raised eyebrows.
“You didn’t tell them?”
Dick shook his head again.
“No. I… I couldn’t.”
The man flew up from his seat.
“Oh for fucks sake! Richard John Grayson, what is wrong with you?!”
Dick let his head fall down, refusing to look at the man.
“No wonder you’re all so torn up. None of you know the full story. Alright. Let’s make this right. First of all, Dick. You go clean the blood off your face. Come back after that, and we’ll tell the story together.”
“Richard. Either you tell it with me, or I will tell it myself. Either way, they have to know. Otherwise they will go on blaming you forever. Now go clean up.”
Behind Dick, Kory nodded.
“He’s right, Dick. No more lies and secrets.”
He glanced at her and then stood up.
“Fine. But they won’t be happy.”
The man smirked.
“Well, thankfully for you, I inherited his strength. Could come in handy. Oh, and Dick. Your gun. You, sadly, inherited his intelligence and madness, so I’m not going to take any chances.”
Very slowly, Dick pulled his gun out and stretched it over to the man.
“You know, I found Billy. And he said that he doesn’t know which one of us is crazier.”
“Depends on the day. Now go.”
With a nod, Dick left. The man turned to the others, making sure that he saw everyone except for Kory straight on. Kory was standing a bit to the side and some of the Titans recognized it as a sign that the man had at least a little bit of trust towards her.
“Wintergreen used to say that he is the buffer between Dick and Deathstroke. And he was right. He’s most probably the only one who can talk some reason into Deathstroke. And, since I’m most probably the only one Dick will actually listen to, I will act as a buffer between him and you. I won’t let him lie to you again, but I also won’t let any of you hurt him. You try, and you’ll find yourself with some lead in your body.”
Jason stood up with a frown.
“That’s all good and nice, but who the fuck are you?”
The man looked him up and down, before sighing.
“My name is Grant Wilson. I’m Deathstroke’s oldest child.”