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i can hear the sound of violins / long before / it begins

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“Do you really,” said Sionis, every word underscored by amused disbelief, “not know how to dance?”

Wilson’s lone eye flashed. “Must you take everything I say out of context?” He held up a hand. “Don’t answer that. I’m perfectly capable of waltzing when the situation requires it--”

“Yes, and I’m sure you utilize that skill often, what with all those high-class parties you need to infiltrate in order to put a bullet between some baron’s eyes. How very James Bond.”

“Comparing me to an employee of the British government? That may be the most offensive thing you’ve ever said to me.” Wilson paused, considering. “And that includes when you threatened to cut my dick off and feed it to me.”

Sionis laughed. “How was I supposed to know you don’t have one?”

“I hardly keep it a secret.”

“Nor do you advertise it,” retorted Sionis, rising to his feet. “Which you should, by the way; I know of several men who would be willing to pay at least $50,000 for an hour alone with you and some toys--or power tools.”

“Are you counting yourself amongst those men?” Wilson said, deadpan save for a raised eyebrow. 

“Of course,” Sionis purred. “Now, up you get: it’s time for your first ballroom lesson. Oh, don’t give me that look, I’m a wonderful teacher. I offer all sorts of extra-credit opportunities...”



Within a few minutes, the two men had moved enough furniture and rugs aside to create a decently-sized dance floor.

“I would pity your downstairs neighbors if you had them,” said Wilson as he tied his hair back. 

“Anyone who lived under this penthouse would be accustomed to hearing much worse than midnight furniture rearrangement,” Sionis said. With a few taps on his phone screen, Tchaikovsky filled the room. “Soundproofing can only do so much.”

“Especially for the likes of you,” muttered Wilson.

“I heard that,” Sionis said, beckoning him closer. Once the mercenary stood before him, Sionis placed a gloved hand on the small of his back and entwined the other with one of Wilson’s. “I’ll lead, you follow. Do attempt not to step on my shoes.”

Wilson shot him a sly, crooked grin. “Are they Prada?”

It took Sionis a moment to realize that Wilson had made a joke. “Well, aren’t you clever,” he chuckled, pulling Wilson closer. “Never let it be said that Deathstroke doesn’t know popular culture.”

“Only because I tend to associate with Nightwing and his ilk.” Wilson shook his head, the personification of some long-suffering planetoid dragged into orbit around both Bats and Titans. “Now, where do I place my hand for this, seeing as how I’m following?”

Sionis smirked in much the same way a cat that has just caught a canary might. “I thought you said you knew how to dance?”

The look Wilson leveled at him was nothing less than withering. “It’s been a while since I followed while waltzing.”

“Obviously. Have you never paid attention to where your dance partner puts her hand?”

Wilson’s eye narrowed further. “I tend to be a bit preoccupied with whoever I’m there to kill and not getting killed myself.”

“So you don’t dance for pleasure.” Sionis tsked. “We’ll be changing that. Put your hand on my shoulder--there we go, sweetheart--and move with me.”

Ignoring both the pet name and the too-casual way in which Sionis had issued him an order, Wilson stepped after the Rogue. Though the music was slower, Sionis led them in a mid-tempo waltz, straightforward and proper.

Save for one detail.

“You know,” said Wilson, “our fingers aren’t supposed to be woven together like this. At least,” he amended, tapping one of Sionis’ knuckles with his index finger, “I don’t think they are.”

Sionis shook his head disapprovingly. “You’ll have points deducted for that, then.”

“Me? You’re the one who...” Wilson trailed off with a sigh as Sionis laughed. “Sometimes I suspect Red Hood learned how to behave by studying you.” 

“Please,” Sionis dismissed, “Red was like that long before I got my claws in him.”

“If I didn't know him, I wouldn't believe you.”

“Know him? Carnally? Because I’d recommend it. He’s a real--”



“Whenever you smile like that, I’m always surprised by your lack of fangs.”

“I’d make them look charming. A pair of horns, too. Would you go for a forked tongue?”

Wilson’s lip curled. “Only over my dead body would I let you put your mouth between my legs.”

“Necrophilia?” Sionis made a contemplative sound. “I’m not sure if that interests me.”

Wilson stopped mid-step so abruptly that it was Sionis who came near to stepping on his foot. “You’re not sure? If that--?”

Sionis shrugged. “I’ve never seen a corpse that’s appealed to me, but there is that Deadman fellow. With a change of clothes, I think I’d find him quite attractive.”

“...You concern me, Sionis.”

“That’s quite the feat,” Sionis smirked. “Slade Wilson, the epitome of emotional unavailability, made to feel by my hand.” 

“Oh, please,” said Wilson with a roll of his eye. “You act as though mild concern and disgust are equal to histrionics.” Tchaikovsky flowed into Strauss as the two men resumed their waltz. 

Sionis’ hold on his partner tightened before he replied. His voice had become torrid, a sudden sulfurous midnight in the midst of spring. “Tell me, Deathstroke, how much do I concern you?” His eyes burned into Wilson’s. “Would you go to war for me if I asked? Kill all the Falcones and Maronis, just to make me happy?”

Wilson stepped in time, following Sionis’ lead, keeping their rhythm. “I would.” Without his armor, he stood at the perfect height for Sionis to catch his mouth in a none-too-gentle kiss. When they separated, Wilson was almost surprised by the lack of crimson: their embraces were often rough, bloody affairs.

“Why haven’t you, than?” Sionis murmured against the shell of Wilson’s ear. It was the hint of teeth and tongue, more than the question itself, that brought the mercenary back to the present. 

“I’d rather not disrupt the mess that is the ecosystem of Gotham’s underworld.” The flutes seemed to echo this sentiment, trilling a brief staccato. “And massacring both of the city’s mob families would have...repercussions.”

“Repercussions,” repeated Sionis, appearing more amused than museful. “Sweetheart, you don’t need to worry about what happens after you send their heads rolling.” As if playing a piano, Sionis pressed the tips of his fingers into the valleys of Slade’s spine, making the man arch fully against Sionis’ white suit. “All you have to do is come pay me a visit once you’ve done it.” Those gloved fingers dug in harder. “I’ll give you your favorite reward.”

Much as he would have liked to, Wilson couldn’t deny how much the offer appealed to him: Sionis was one of the few who knew how to truly hurt the mercenary, drawing a melody of pleasure-pain from his always-willing instrument. He was a joyful, terrifying conductor, creative in his sadism and absolute in his enjoyment of the agony he produced. With almost every session he found new ways to push Wilson’s healing factor to its limit.

And though Black Mask may have been a dangerous psychopath who would be better off could not waltz alone.

Dropping his forehead onto Sionis’ shoulder, Wilson spoke, his words scarcely audible above the music. “You can’t reward me if you’re killed in the fallout, Sionis.” He felt more than heard Sionis’ answering laugh.

“I’m sure you’d keep me safe, sweetheart. I’ve been meaning to get a guard dog, anyway…”

Wilson lifted his head to make a scathing remark, only to be stalled by Sionis’ hand on his jaw.

“Down, boy. Or else I’ll get a muzzle to go with your collar and leash.”

Well, thought Wilson, several (not-entirely) unwelcome images crowding his mind, at least we’re no longer on the subject of familicide. Out loud he said,

“Every so often, Sionis, you make me wish I was being thrown through a wall by Superman rather than spending time in your company.”

To Wilson’s surprise, Sionis dipped him; the suddenness of the act left the mercenary breathless for a moment as he met Sionis’ obsidian gaze.

“Oh, but it’s no fun if someone other than me breaks your bones, is it?”

A scowl was Wilson’s only response while Sionis pulled him back upright.

“Honestly, sweetheart, I’ve been wondering how that works,” Sionis continued, undeterred. “Are you getting off while fighting the hero of the week? Is that why you wear all the armor? So it doesn’t feel as good when--”

“Again,” interrupted Wilson, “context is important. Being struck during a fight is different than being struck in the bedroom.”

“Or in the privacy of my office, bent over my desk.”

“I wouldn’t define anywhere in your penthouse as 'private.’ Not with this amount of hidden cameras around.”

Sionis tucked a loose strand of hair behind Wilson’s ear. “Nothing wrong with a few home movies, is there?”

“I think they would be better described as snuff films.”

“Maybe,” said Sionis, palm pressed insistently against Wilson’s back to guide him in a spin. “Although there’s nothing wrong with those, either. Especially with you in the starring role.”

“Flattery will get you nowhere. I may have to find and dispose of all that footage.”

“Mm, you could…But I’d make you regret it.”

An involuntary shudder ran through Wilson. “Now you’re just trying to tempt me.”

Sionis’ hand slid lower, like a rosined bow upon strings. So too did the pitch of his voice. “Don’t tease. I’ll fuck you right here on the floor.”

“Oh?” Wilson breathed. “Is that one of those extra-credit opportunities you mentioned?”

“Only if I get to choke you while I make your holes bleed.”

“Repulsive,” Wilson said, turning his face away.

But Sionis had caught the way Wilson’s cheeks flushed. He was quick to grasp the mercenary’s chin and force their lips together before whispering, 

“Says the man who enjoys it.”

“Mn. Guilty as charged,” Wilson admitted, resistance falling dead on the marble tiles. He parted his lips for Sionis’ next kiss and tasted corruption as the violins crescendoed.

Next to be discarded on the floor was Wilson’s suit jacket; his belt followed soon after. “Careful with those,” he murmured against Sionis’ neck, the scent of cologne on every breath. “They were expensive.”

“I know,” said Sionis, wrapping a hand around Wilson’s warm throat. “I’m the one who bought them.” 

On they danced, swaying in immoral 4/4 time.