The Girlfriend’s Father

May 27, 2017:

Deathstroke manages to find his daughter in one of his old haunts: Mumbasa, Kenya. And has a conversation with Nate. Surprisingly they don't stab each other even once.

An hotel room in Mumbasa

It is just an hotel room in an hotel that is not either rundown or luxurious


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Ravager, Amanda Waller


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

The last few days have been… comparatively relaxing for Nate. Rose and he took a flight in Toronto to Cairo (via London) but absolutely no one remembers to have seen them in the airplane or the airport. They did some sightseeing heading southwards, in the kind of whirlwind vacation thing a couple American college students would do. All the way to Mombasa, where Nate sneaked away to talk with local mutants through the networks of Mutants Sans Frontiers and the X-Corp.
Moving around using a ‘Somebody Else’s Problem’ telepathic field makes him really difficult to track down. One needs really good focus and some training to even see him. And he flies fast from a place to another. But he can still seen by cameras and he leaves a faint electronic record. Rose does too, perhaps a little more.

Deathstroke has been planning this since the moment his daughter disappeared, made it his singular focus, a thing he almost never actually does. Objectively it's been 3 days. Subjectively he's sunk a years worth of planning into this meeting. He's gone though countless scenarios, some of which were filled with global genocide, specieal wars, the birth of new nations and the fall of old ones. Admittedly he may have gotten carried away for a bit there. When he caught himself considering hammering the Westchester school with hellfire missiles until it was nothing more then a very deep hole in the earth he realized he was being emotional. That was forty-two minutes after his daughter was taken.
Three days later he's calmed down, considered different approaches, different consequences, planned attacks large and small, stealthy and not, long range and close, using cats paws that would be immune to anything Summers could do to them… mostly killing plans. But… emotion. Emotion is the enemy. It makes fools of the wise, idiots of the clever, cowards of the brave. So. Here he is. A year of mental acuity poured into his plan and he's come down with… this. Under his mask, he takes a single long calming breath, slowing his heart rate, controlling the hormonal surges in his blood, loosening knotted muscle, all with his mind. Then he turns and walks away, leaving man to walk the streets unmolested. It's okay. He knows where Nate will be going next.
When Nate returns to the room where he and Rose have been holed up, he's walks into a very different scene then he left. Rose is there, sleeping on what passes for the couch here, her head resting on the armored thigh of greatest assassin in the world, her silver white hair spread across his lap. She's resting peacefully, cheek pressed against the Nth metal plate as she breaths deep and even. He lets his fingers, not even touching her, trail over the tresses, feather light, not even disturbing them. His other hand rests on a massive black bladed dagger that's a hairsbreath away from being a short sword, it's tip buried in the arm of the couch, his hand resting on its pommel in a manner that's far more comfortable then the way his other hand almost touches his daughter.
"Sit down." he says as Nate rounds the corner to find the pair there, though Slade's eye is on his daughter, his head bent to look down at her, "We need to talk."

Nate notices there is someone with Rose several hundred yards away. But Rose is calm, so it can’t be too bad. She was sleeping, she is still sleeping. No alarms triggered, which is not necessarily good, but there are some people that could do that and they are not enemies.
He grunts when he sees Slade, though. Of course he recognizes the man. “You are three years late for this conversation,” he point out. “Why is Rose sleeping? She should be awake for this chat. She is not a doll and she is not an animal. And she is not underage either, if you care about that kind of thing.”
Sitting down is not Nate’s kind of thing, so he first conducts a wide telepathic scan around the building. Tips a key in his smartphone and takes a deep breath. Okay, then he sits down. He is not going to start this… chat, being pointlessly petulant. He is not a teenage anymore.

Deathstroke dosen't look up from his daughter, "Boy," he says calmly, and his voice is exactly like one would think it would be, deep, gruff, that gravel in the back of the throat that comes from spending years barking orders at dangerous people and having them listen, "we wouldn't have had this conversation three years ago. I'd have just killed you and never spared you another thought. It is because you have managed to last three years with her that I have bothered to converse with you at all." his fingertips stop their motion and pull away from her hair, this effectively leaves his hand in a loose fist. He lifts his gaze to meet Nate's now, and his singe blue eye is cold and unreadable behind it's lens.
"She is sleeping because she is tired. It is what one does when one has reached the end of their rope and the body requires time to heal. Even I sleep. Occasionally." that might have been an attempt at a joke from anyone else. Not so likely from Slade. "I am not here to talk to her, when I wish to do that she will be awake for it. I am here for you."

Nate almost corrects Slade by saying 'five years'. But with the reality adjustment caused by Alfie the explanations would be long and boring. Instead he looks at Rose. She has been sleeping quite a bit the last few days, which he expects to be a good thing. Maybe.
"Fine. Come outside," he stands up and walks out to the balcony. Talking man to man, or whatever Slade thinks they are doing. Okay. Talking while Rose is sleeping is just creepy. Doubly so if she is not waking up.
"I am listening," he states, as if making Slade a reluctant concession. The young man is tense, perhaps nervous, although he doesn't seem scared. Girlfriend's father, uh… he expected he would be calm about something -so- normal. Yet there isn't anything normal here. And abnormal is the norm in his life. But Slade is still his girlfriend's father.
Stupid social conventions.

Deathstroke dosen't even move. He just remains where he is, watching as Nate stands and then walks out onto the balcony. He looks down at the girl sleeping in his lap, then remains in his seat. He's comfortable where he is, thank you. His fingertips once more go back to the feather light tracing of her hair, the one where he doesn't actually touch her. He waits there. It would feel like a power play, getting the other guy to do what he wants, but it's hard to think that when he keeps /almost/ petting Rose. Almost.

Still in the balcony Nate smirks faintly at Slade’s affectionate gesture with the sleeping young woman, “actually… very nice to see you act like a father, if only when she is sleeping. Perhaps I should take a few pictures because I doubt she would believe me if I tell her you did that.” He loses his smirk. “Usually she only receives pain and betrayal from you, Mr. Wilson.”

Deathstroke turns his eye to stare at Nate again, "You don't know me, so I'm going to let that go by this once without reprisal." he says in the same soft even tone he's used since he was found here. "First, I have never once, not once, betrayed my family. I have /failed/ my family, but I have never betrayed them." his fingers once more curl away from her hair, "And secondly pain is good. I was part of the group of men who built what you call Delta Force, the premiere fighting force, at the time, on the face of this earth. One of our tenents was this, pain is weakness leaving the body. There is no room for weakness Mr. Summers, because this world is cold, and cruel, and it will destroy what is weak. I do not raise weak children. I raise children the world will fear, for all it's cruelty and it's coldness, they will never be unprepared, never find themselves unable to handle it's weight. My children are warriors."

“Name is Grey,” replies Nate, matter-of-factly. “Summers is the other guy, old as dirt and prone to carry a ton of guns.” As for the rest of his talk about pain and strength, it makes Slade to sound so alike to Apocalypse that Nate’s left eye flares with anger, and he clenches his jaw.
“You let them put a bomb in your daughter’s neck. You allowed them to cage her, to treat her like an animal. ‘Wilsons are killers. I put a leash on them. I am their best hope at ever fitting in to society again and they know it.’ That is what that bitch said. You, her father, allowed all that, and that was betrayal.” He takes a deep breath, pushing his anger down. “Rose is a warrior, an honorable warrior, brave and freedom-loving. She could be anything she chooses, too. She is smart and willful, fair and funny. She knows how to fight and when to fight. She is not weak, but what has happened the past three months turned her into a nervous, terrified wreck that needed massive amounts of alcohol and drugs to go on. She was crying while I held her in her sleep, Wilson. She needed you, and not to cause her more pain.”
Part of Rose’s problem was the clash of memories in her head, but even without that, she would have been going through hell, and Slade did nothing. Nate has some reasons to be angry with him.

Deathstroke files that bit of information away. Interesting. That guy that he's been mistaken for in the past, had DNA similar to this boy's. Very similar. Hard to tell for certain though, ravaged as it was by his illness. He'll have to have Peabody do more tests in the future. "Have a lot of children of your own to raise, do you?" he asks curiously. "Interesting." his tone is laden with sarcasm… or more accurately it's lightly sprinkled on the words, which has the same effect when you speak as flat and emotionless as Deathstroke tends to.
They're in the room in Mombasa that Nate has procured for them, a room like most in that city that is anything but resort like. Rose is currently slumbering, her head laid across her father's thigh, her hair spread over his lap. He almost touches her hair with one hand while the other rests atop a large knife thrust deep into the arm of the couch. He and Nate speak quietly as she slumbers the deep sleep of someone needing to heal.
"I let her think they put a bomb in her neck." he says calmly, "She allowed them to cage her, to treat her like an animal. Wilsons /are/ killers, and no one leashes us unless we allow them to. We have no need to fit into society, instead society molds itself to accomidate who we are." he keeps his calm even keeled through his speech, "I already told you, the world is cold, and cruel, and it means to break us all. I allowed them to push her, beyond her limits, beyond what she thought she could endure so that she could learn that what she thought were the depths of her being were only the ripples at the surface of a deep ocean of reserves. You can fuck her Mr. Gray, even read her mind, but you will never know my daughter as well as I do. You took her from that place, and in doing so you robbed her of victory. /You/ decided that /she/ needed saving. You removed her agency, you took her power to overcome, you stole strength from her and replaced it with… what?" he asks curiously, "Cuddles and a life on the run from the largest most powerful government in the world and her father, one of the deadliest men breathing?"
He tilts his head to the side, eyeing Nate, "While you were stealing her choices from her, I was /there/. At her side. When she was in battle, I was there, leading the charge. When she was caged, I was there, watching. When they hurt her, I was there too. I'm /always/ there Mr. Gray. But my job as a parent isn't to see that she's loved, that she's cuddled, that she's happy. My job, my first and only job, is to make sure that no matter how bad things get, my Rose will /always/ be prepared to face it, strong enough to see it through to the end." he shakes his head slightly side to side in an emotion that's unreable thanks to his helm.

“We pulled a bomb from her neck,” states Nate, frowning. “Check her nape, she still has gauze covering the surgery.” Slade thought she wasn’t in danger. That is… oddly comforting. His further words, however, ruin that small moment of humanity.
“You fool. You… it was not just the bomb,” Nate is speaking louder, forgetting he could wake up Rose. “It was friendship. It was family. And love. That is what kept her there. Not just the fear to lose her life, because she is brave enough not to fear that. What you call ‘cuddles’ is what kept her in the leash more than the brutality and the pain. The fear her friends would be punished and murdered. Because Rose is not trying to become the greatest killer in the world. She wants a place to belong. A real family that loves her. Which is what you have failed to give her. You. You don’t know her at all.”

Deathstroke continues to eye Nate while the young man speaks, letting him finish his tirade, "She doesn't need a place to belong." he says simply, "I am her father, my job is to give her what she needs, not what she wants. I could, of course, give her anything she wants. But then she'd be dead inside a month. What she 'wants' doesn't matter. You can have whatever you can take, but you can only keep what you can hold Mr. Gray. Rose's grip isn't tight enough yet. A telepath got in her head and showed her bad dreams. Boo hoo. Someone put a bomb in her neck. Cry me a river. No body loves her. Says who?" he won't say it of course. He can't. Literally. It's just not in him. "By the time I was her age I had killed more men in worse places then she's ever seen. Those years laid the foundation for what I would become, and now? Now no one is stupid enough to wage a war on me and my family. Amanda Waller, one of the most terrifying women in the world, with unlimited resources and all the agency of the US government won't double cross me. Do you know why?" he doesn't wait for an answer, "Because she fears my response."
"My Rose will one day have a child of her own, a little boy, a little girl, and her enemies will hunt for them. Do you think she'll have the time to cuddle the babe? To show it the world is soft and loving and kind? Teach it all about fair play and charity? Or do you think she'll realize the truth, the danger, that exsists for that child in every shadow? She will do as I have done, she will grow stronger, more dangerous, and be a living warning to the world of the wrath she will unleash on those who would /dare/ to harm a hair on her head. And then she will train that child. Discipline. Suffering. Pain. She will teach the child the truth of the world, and then she'll teach that child a greater truth, that they are stronger then it."
His fingers, armored as they are, gently rest on her head, "You took this from her, set her back years. You've lied to my daughter Mr. Gray, by pretending that someone will always be there to save her, you've let her wallow in her own weakness. Next time, should something like this happen for real, and you're dead, and I'm dead, who will she have to lean on? What hardship will have taught her that in truth, she need lean on no one because whatever is out there, /she/ is greather then /it/?"

“You are insane,” replies Nate. “Why are you even here if you have no feelings for her, if family and love is weaknesses?” He sighs, looking at Rose sorrowfully. “What you are saying is that Rose is better by losing everything that makes her a human being, all that makes her wonderful. You would prefer to see her broken and destroyed and then rebuilt as a perfect killing machine that everyone fears. A perfect killer that can’t ever be hurt because she is already dead inside. Is that he ideal you aspire? What you want for your daughter? To be just a machine? And then she wouldn’t be your daughter anymore.”
He steps closer now, walking and kneeling before the sleeping woman, speaking more quietly. “As her father you were responsible to raise her, to make sure she had a chance. All fathers should be able to do… that.” Nate’s didn’t get that basic right, of course. But Forge was a good mentor/father. “Now she is grown up, you do not have the right to decide what she is now, or what she is in the future. Only she can decide that. Not you, and not me. At most we can advise. And help her stand up if she falters.”
He looks up at Slade again. “You think being a great killer makes you a better man? It doesn’t. It just makes you a better killer. And I can kill this whole city with my mind, in mere minutes, it is absurd to think that makes be more worthy, or manly, or… whatever. It just makes one feared… by those who fear monsters.”

Deathstroke keeps his gaze locked on Nate, "I don't want her to be a killer. I want her to be strong enough she never has to fear the likes of you." he says simply. "As good as I am, and I am the best, it would take my consentrated effort of nearly two weeks to kill the entire population of this city. I would have to call in favors, use vast resources, work without sleeping. But I could do that. You can do it in a moment. And you think /I/ am the one that she's afraid of? I have never been inside her mind. I have never forced her to go anywhere she did not wish to go. Ever. In the last three days you have taken more choices from her then I have in her entire life. Do not talk to me about allowing her choices, only one of us in this room can make someone else do something against their will."
He moves with a grace that is starteling for a man of his size wearing that much armor. He slips out from beneath Rose's head, using his fingertips he doesn't allow her head to drop or rise at all, and he slides a pillow in place of his thigh. He slooooowly lets her head rest back down, so careful that none of the motions make so much as a whisper of sound. He stands and leaves the knife in the couch where it was, and moves across the room to a duffle bag that was in the shadow of a table. He pulls it out and unzips the canvas military cloth, revealing scaled armor, swords, a few guns, some ammunition, grenades, a kit. Fresh, polished, sharpened, oiled, updated. A Wilson family care package. He leaves that at the foot of the couch, along with the knife embedded in the armrest. He stares down at her for a long moment and then turns once more, this time he heads for the balcony, "Three days." he says simply, "I'm giving you three more days. Do whatever you want, cuddle, fuck, talk about your feelings, but know that all you do makes her more vulnerable, not less. At the end of the three days you disappear for a week, give her the space to make her own choices, completely. Do that, and I'll do the same. Don't, and I'll be back." he steps up on the railing and turns to look at Nate as if he weren't just balancing all his bulk on a thin tube of steel, "And I'll make her make an entirely different kind of choice. Fair warning, it won't go the way you want it to, boy." and then he's gone, just dropping from the railing and out of sight. There isn't even a sound of his landing.

“There are fates worse than death. And there is more in life than just surviving,” replies Nate. “What Waller and you did would have turned her into…” okay, Slade can leave the conversation. See if Nate cares. (Actually, he does!).
“I will never cage you,” he promises the sleeping girl. “And I will die before I allow anyone cage you again.” Slade’s speech about leaving her alone is completely ignored. He will never abandon Rose unless she sends him away. If Slade wants to make a fight of it, Nate will fight.

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