Chapter Eighteen: Hello, Good Morning.
"But why does your suit have nipples?"
"They are called pec-caps! And aside from the fact that I like the look, they function as one of my more ingenious defence mechanisms." The Dark Knight replied staring proudly down at the small rubber projections adorning the chest piece of his armour.
"Really? Those teats are weapons?" Beastboy asked in disbelief as he pointed with his bright pink tail from atop the T-car.
Batman's face darkened as he brandished the candy canes in his hands with anger. "They are not nipples!" He shouted animatedly, "And seeing as you are showing such an interest in them, why don't I show you how they work?!"
Beastboy crouched lower on the roof of the titan's car and watched in sudden anxiety as Batman brought one of his legs up unnaturally and touched one 'weapon' with the tip of his boot.
Suddenly, several blinding explosions of white light detonated in front of Beastboy's eyes immediately followed by numerous loud noises like whizzing gunshots that penetrated his sensitive ears.
"ARRRGGHHH, EXPLODING BAT-NIPPLES!" He screamed leaping upwards, only to hit a very solid ceiling with the top of his head, adding to his disorientation. He barely noticed the collision however through the blinding of his senses. Everything was chaos and confusion as blasts of light and sound pummelled his head. Clenching his eyes shut and clamping his hands over his ears, Beastboy did his best to ride out the last ten seconds of the sensory assault on his skull.
When the harsh vibrations finally stopped, Beastboy tentatively lowered his hands and cracked open his eyes. He blinked as he tried to regain his vision, made difficult by the high pitched ringing in his ears. Eventually forms started to swim into shapes before his eyes and the resounding buzz in his ears started to decrease in pitch and intensity.
A room came into view, a silvery metal room. A messy bed and toilet being the only features to the box. Eyes still watering Beastboy squinted around the box he vaguely recognized and caught sight of a smoking object on the floor. It was then he noticed movement and sluggishly moved his head to the side to see a teenage girl with arms crossed and face barely containing laughter looking at him in amusement from an open door.
Memories flooded Beastboy's head as the girl's face registered. His terror quickly turned to anger and in a moment he was up on his feet and in her face, gesticulating wildly.
"What the hell was that? You scared the-"
A hand on his chest and a foot behind his knees later Beastboy suddenly wound up on his back with a very dangerous girl crouched over his chest, one foot pinning each wrist to the ground beside him and a finger digging into the bottom of his chin.
There was silence for a moment as the two remained motionless, the only movement in the room the soft twirling of light grey smoke around the ceiling.
"That was beginning of training. Need lots of work. Will show respect and address as 'Sensei' through teaching. Understand?"
Beastboy stared up at the hard and strong face of the girl above him; raven colored hair falling around her face and eyes glinting. Emotion welled deep within him. Discomfort and anger at his vulnerability and the desire to retaliate, to fight, to win.
Fighting down the impulses, Beastboy responded meekly. "Yes, Sensei. Sorry."
Batgirl nodded in approval and suddenly smiled, face transforming from stone cold tigress to teenage girl. Pulling herself off of him, she reached down and offered a hand that Beastboy accepted somewhat shakily. Without any discernible effort, she pulled the green hero to his feet.
"It alright. Shocked me first too."
"What was that?" Beastboy asked looking around at the smoldering object on the ground.
"Flashbang." Batgirl replied simply, "Now dress and meet in gym in one minute."
Beastboy stared at the door she had just vanished out of, trying to take in what had happened in the past thirty seconds. Giving up, he reached down to pick up the workout clothes Batgirl had left off. 'What was I dreaming about? It was something really weird, but then that's not new for me. Damn, I'll be wondering about this all day-'
"By way…" A voice came from behind and Beastboy turned to find Batgirl with a grin on her face and one eyebrow raised high.
Again, memories rushed back, as Batgirl chuckled merrily again and disappeared.
"Ugggghhhhh." Beastboy groaned.
54 second later Beastboy arrived at the gym dressed in tracksuit bottoms and a loose running shirt, both of which felt supremely uncomfortable, especially in the cold chill of the batcave. He stifled a jaw breaking yawn as he entered. 'Uhh, what the heck time is it? I feel like a zombie.'
Batgirl was standing in the very center of the wide open gym area, intently watching the large digital clock on the far wall. Beastboy approached cautiously, keeping his eyes on her and wary of another surprise. She was barefoot, wearing a simple black compression tank top above white athletic short shorts with black trim. Her inky hair swung free around her concentrated face.
Beastboy couldn't help but stare.
He was still staring when Batgirl turned away from the clock that had just struck 4:30am and faced him. He hurriedly glanced away. Batgirl frowned, trying to figure out what was wrong with him before giving up.
"Start with warmup."
And she was off, jogging quickly around the edge of the expanse. Beastboy took in a deep breath; 'Alright, here we go!' before he took off after her. The clock was showing 4:45 when they stopped before immediately going into a series of star-jumps, static and dynamic stretches, burpees, squats, sit ups and various other warm up exercises.
'This isn't too bad, although I guess Batman will step it up when he arrives,' Beastboy thought to himself as he reached for his toes next to batgirl.
"Hold, twenty seconds." Came the command from his new sensei.
Beastboy glanced at the girl bending almost double on herself next to him and took the opportunity to ask, "When will Batman get here?"
"So will you be training me now?" Beastboy asked, filled with a sudden nervous excitement.
Batgirl removed her head from between her shins to answer. "No, today testing. Touch hands behind back, bring close to head as possible, hold twenty seconds."
Beastboy followed her instructions and example, before querying, "Testing?"
"Yes. Have to know what can do before teaching. Quiet night in Gotham so Batman send me to test you."
Beastboy's stomach felt like it was in freefall as thought about the last time he was tested. He had gone through the same thing when joining the Doom Patrol. 'Damn, should have seen that coming. Come on, Beastboy! You gotta' start seeing stuff like this coming, start thinking like a bat…eh, person…thing…beast? Batbeast? Batboy? Ba-'
"Warm up over. Time to start."
Batgirl turned without another word and trotted off through the sprawling training area. Beastboy shook his head in annoyance before reluctantly following, 'Dammit! Stop with the thinking already!'
They soon can to a very clean and organised workout corner. 'Man, Robin would love this place. Or did love this place I guess.' Beastboy thought as he looked around at the sets of dumbbells, weight plates and barbells, all sitting neatly next to benches, cable machines, leverage systems, pull-up bars, treadmills and every other conceivable device dedicated to improving ones musculature.
Batgirl turned on her heel and addressed Beastboy in a business like tone.
"First, physical capabilities, start with bench press. One max repetition. Watch and copy. No powers."
She walked swiftly over to a flat, padded bench and began sliding a worrying amount of weighted plates onto each end of the horizontal bar above it. After loading up a considerable quantity of weight, she lay flat on her back on the bench, the now weighed down bar hanging above her face.
Beastboy watched, still trying to figure out what she had said as she reached up and grasped the rod, took a moment to adjust her grip and lifted it off of the stand into the air. Beastboy, familiar with the exercise, walked swiftly over to a position above her head where he could catch the bar if she couldn't hold it any longer.
There was no need however, as she successfully brought the weighted bar down to rest on her upper chest for a moment before forcing it into the air while exhaling, struggling slightly. With a clang, she returned the bar to its resting position and quickly stood up, shaking out her arms.
She turned to Beast boy with face dead serious.
The next two hours were spent testing each and every muscle in Beastboy and Batgirl's body to the absolute limit. After asking her why she was doing the exercises with him, Beastboy had found out Batman was using his initiation to evaluate Batgirl's progress.
The two teenage heroes were put through their paces as they tested the bounds of their physical capabilities. Dumbbell curling, pull ups, push ups, sandbag squats, sit ups, dips, single arm hanging, abdominal endurance tests, curl ups challenges, single leg squats, handgrip strength test, isokinetic strength tests. Biceps, triceps, pectorals, quads, abs, calves, deltoids, obliques… The list went on and on as every individual muscle was worked and evaluated.
Beastboy had been uncomfortable starting off, wondering if he should try to talk or converse with his drillmaster, but soon fell into a state of exhausted indifference to the social protocol as his body continued to be punished. This suited Batgirl just fine as a sort of mutual respect started to develop between the two as they watched each other push themselves as far as they could go.
Along with that, a friendly rivalry began to grow throughout the morning as well. Batgirl, her recent defeat at the green changeling's hands still fresh in her mind, was determined to show him just what she was made off and pushed herself hard. Beastboy was also trying to prove his capability as a hero to Batman (and now Batgirl) and worked himself into the ground.
For all he tried, however, Beastboy failed to outdo the teenage girl in a single exercise.
Eventually the two found themselves hanging side by side from a steel pull up bar. Both arms locked above them and legs straight out in front turning their bodies into 'L' shapes. Sweat dripped down Beastboy's throat and arms as he hung on for dear life; his abused shoulders screaming at him, clenching abs spasming and burning for release, and thigh feeling like they were melting. His feet wavered in front of him before his grip finally failed and he collapsed to the padded floor beneath.
17 seconds later, Batgirl crumpled to the ground next to him, gasping for breath and holding her lower stomach in relief. Beastboy laughed, or tried to laugh, at the sight but only managed an odd, uneven wheezing that did nothing but exacerbate his already aching abdominals. Batgirl, however, found the noise and facial expression amusing and tried to laugh as well, eventually resulting in the two painfully laughing away at each other and themselves. Their eyes met in an odd moment of camaraderie through a haze of pain and giddy hilarity.
"d-huh-done." She managed to wheeze out.
"Hallelujah!" Beastboy breathed out as he offered her a water bottle that she gratefully accepted.
Drinking greedily, Batgirl picked up a nearby towel and threw it to Beastboy, before lowering the now empty bottle and getting to her feet.
"Let get breakfast."
Beastboy was halfway through a plate of toast, roasted tomatoes, cream cheese bagels, baked beans and fried mushrooms before he remembered to breathe. The two had exited the gym while toweling their sweat off to find a veritable feast waiting for them on the batcave kitchen table. Beastboy couldn't remember thinking much after that realization had kicked in.
Swallowing a massive mouthful, he opened his mouth to question Batgirl but the sight of her shoveling eggs and hashbrowns into her mouth made him decide to query her later. Ten minutes later, every plate was clean and the two teens were sitting opposite each other, relaxing contently.
Beastboy gestured lazily to the dirty dishes, "Where did all this come from?"
Batgirl answered as she poured freshly squeezed orange juice into a tall glass filled with ice, "Alfred. Asked him to make breakfast for us earlier." She slid the now full glass across the polished metal to stop in front of Beastboy.
"Thanks," he responded, taking a refreshing sip and wondering yet again and her speech impediment, "When do any of you guys sleep?" He asked with a chuckle.
"Afternoon mostly." She answered, pouring herself a glass. "Now, time for questions."
"Yes," Batgirl took out a small device from a drawer under the table and placed it next to her glass. It looked like a small black box of cards with a microphone sticking out of the top. "Batman wants to know things."
Beastboy started to feel nervous, suddenly feeling his very full stomach within him. 'Oh no. Is this what Alfred was talking about last night?' He worriedly thought to himself.
'Shifting in seat, no eye contact, chewing on inside cheek, torso turned sideways, low head, shallower breathing. Nervous.' Batgirl summarized.
"Relax, not big questions." She said, putting him at ease coming slightly more naturally to her.
Beastboy looked up at the clear eyes of the girl in front of him. His body slowly eased into a more relaxed state. "Okay, what do you want to know?"
Batgirl nodded, inwardly pleased at her work, and leaned forward to flick a switch on the device.
"This be recorded so Batman can listen later. How do you control powers?"
Beastboy relaxed further as he answered; happy the questions weren't going to be of a more personal nature.
"Umm, I'm not really sure to be honest," he started. "It's kind of a weird feeling turning into an animal. I guess it starts with me thinking about what animal I want to turn into, but I don't really have to think too much about it. Then I just sort of… twitch and I start to feel my whole body change. Wow, that was really badly explained, wasn't it?" He finished with a weak grin.
"No, it like muscle." Batgirl responded clearly.
"Sound like muscle. When move leg up, don't think 'contract hamstring and calf, relax quad.' Just 'move leg.' And do."
Beastboy smiled as he deciphered and thought about what she said, "Yeah, I'd never thought about it like that before. Yeah, it's just like another muscle I guess."
Batgirl nodded and moved on, "What feel like when changing?"
Beastboy took a drink as he thought about it. No one had ever asked him that before and he wasn't sure how to put it into words.
"It hurt?" Batgirl prompted.
"No, it doesn't hurt. It was kinda' uncomfortable when I was a kid, but I've gotten used to it since then and almost enjoy it now. It sort of feels like my body becomes water almost. And the water starts flowing around into different shapes before turning back solid again. But at the same time, I can feel my entire body. I can't really describe it any better than that."
'Then why pain when transforming other night?' Batgirl wondered to herself. She debated whether or not to ask but decided against it. She moved down her mental checklist of questions.
"What happens to clothes when change?"
Beastboy chuckled before answering. "Well, if I'm wearing normal clothes like now then they would rip into pieces or just sort of fall off when I changed into something small. I spent a lot of time naked before Mento finally came up with a solution," he finished with a cheeky grin.
Batgirl blinked, disappointing Beastboy with her lack of reaction. "Uniform?" she simply asked.
"Uh, yeah, emm… When I joined the Doom Patrol, Mento figured out a way I could morph back from an animal and keep my clothes on. I never really paid much attention, but apparently it had something to do with teleportation." Beastboy frowned at his orange juice as he tried to remember.
"If I remember right, the technology was based off of the teleportation system used by the Justice League. Just on a smaller scale. My uniform jumpsuit was fitted with a small transponder that teleported it to the Doom Patrol base when it sensed I was about to change shape. Then it would teleport back when I morphed back to human form. It took a while to figure out the body position I needed to get into when transforming. I ended up with my head in the sleeves a lot before I worked it out. It just comes naturally now.
Batgirl nodded to herself before asking a follow up question, "What about during time with Titans? No Doom Patrol base to teleport to?"
Beastboy's eyes shifted down, something not unnoticed by Batgirl. "They told me I could still use the system when I…left."
There was silence. Awkward for the green teen, not so much for the ink haired one, who was using the time debating whether or not to continue the line of questioning.
"What is hardest shape to take?"
Beastboy breathed a sigh of relief at the change of topic and answered confidently. "An amoeba."
Batgirl's brow furrowed. Her education hadn't exactly been varied as a child and while it had featured biology, it had focused on human anatomy and kill points more than anything. "Amoeba?" She said slowly, as if tasting the word for the first time.
"Yes, a single celled organism. The smallest possible animal on the planet. I've only taken the form a few times and in dire situations."
"Why small form difficult? Big animal like dinosaur not harder?"
"No, actually. Turning into something big was more of a mental thing than a physical thing. I first turned into a T-Rex in a life-or-death situation and after that it became much easier, although it was still really tiring. I was exhausted the first time I did it, now it's not that bad."
"So smaller animals harder?"
"Well not really, just really small stuff. I can go down to maybe a flea size without too much strain, anything more than that becomes harder. Not really sure why, just leaves me physically exhausted after I change back." He said with a smile, while Batgirl nodded thoughtfully, not sure what to make of her new knowledge.
Beastboy was enjoying the conversation with the mysterious girl. It was nice to have someone show so much interest in him. Really nice to have an attractive member of the opposite sex show an interest in him. 'It's just because Batman told her to.' He told himself, 'but still…'
The talk went on for another few minutes, covering a broad range of smaller topics from sleeping habits to favourite animals to interactions with other animals. The conversation soon slid from a question and answer session to a friendly and relaxed conversation.
"-So I would rarely go a day without flying. It's definitely my favourite thing to do. The world laid out beneath you. The sun on your back and the wind in your tail feathers. I guess it's also the sense of freedom it brings. I get the feeling I could go anywhere, do anything. The world is my oyster."
"World is oyster?" Batgirl interrupted, looking like him like he had two heads, "What that mean?"
Beastboy looked at her, thinking. "I have absolutely no idea. Makes no sense at all when I think about it." He said laughingly.
"No sense at all." She said with a half smirk. "Flying sound nice. Like freedom part."
"I'll take you one day." Beastboy said assuredly, "Of course, it will cost you." He added with a mischievous grin.
Batgirl studied him and his body language carefully. Not sensing any ill-intent, she asked, "What cost?"
Beastboy leaned forward over the table and rested his chin on his hands. "Well I've spent a while answering your questions. How about you answer some of mine?"
Batgirl stared at the green boy gazing at her for a moment, trying to work out what she was feeling inside. "Maybe later," she said evasively, "Now back to work." She announced, clapping her hands once and jumping up from the table.
"What?! We're not done for the day?" Beastboy exclaimed, flopping dramatically onto the metal table with a clang.
Batgirl smirked at his over-the-top groan. "Just had breakfast." Beastboy looked up at the edge in her voice to see her drillmaster face back. "Only just begun," she announced flicking off the recorder and turning back to gym, beckoning him to follow.
So I am back. I can only apologise for the long delay on this. I have two excuses, Wimbledon (So close Federer !) and World Cup (So close Holland!). So now I am back and hoping to get back to my loose schedule of chapter a week but don't hold your breath.
So Beastboy starts his training with some testing. Seems like what Batman would do, right?
There was mixed reviews on the last chapter with regards to Robin. As I've said before, he is definitely the character I'm having the most trouble with so all feedback is appreciated.
Tsk91 – I agree with you that Robin's biggest threat is himself, yes. And I am sort of going for him projecting his problems onto a scapegoat – that being Beastboy. Glad you kinda picked up on that. Cheers.
N9tjhl – I'm not sure if Beastboy's Sakutia is mentioned at all in the show. In this version he doesn't anyway. Yeah, it's going to be a long road for Robin! I will gladly smell the roses and I offer my condolences for such a childhood experience robbing you of the joy of small dogs!
LiumD – Hopefully all three :)
EX3451 – No I don't think the Robin I've painted is anything like the Robin from the show. I've certainly exaggerated some of the worse parts of his character and his flaws as a leader. I'm trying to keep this grounded in the show like you say but it can't all be rainbows and sunshine.
Excellent, glad you approve :)
newboy – Yeah, the team finding Terra's grave empty will be a difficult one to write but I'm looking forward to seeing where it will go. You make good points about his fight with Slade though, hadn't considered that.
Good points with Batman and BB's past as well. I've already sorta decided how much Bats will find out and how. When the rest will be revealed remains to be seen :)
And I'm afraid I'm not going to ignore the other reviews. They are entitled to their opinion as much as you are.
And yeah, BB's past is pretty messed up. No wonder he turns into giant rage monsters :)
Thanks for the input!
Annatheavidreader – I agree with you in many regards as you should hopefully see next chapter about BB's immaturity on the team and to some degree with Robin.
I don't plan on BB and Bats being best friends either, Batgirl is there instead. Maybe Bats isn't the ideal person to help Beastboy but he did offer and Beastboy does have a problem he needs help with. Who knows how successful Batman will be? Will he help at all?
Oh, I've definitely villainized Robin to an extent. Made him paranoid and insecure. But I do love exploring team dynamics and Robin is convenient catalyst for that for team conflict, plus I don't particularly like him that much. 'Power hungry douchebag' is me overstepping the mark a bit though. I'm going to hopefully be peeling back the layers of Robin to simply reveal a very insecure person whose entire identity is tied up with his success as leader of the titans, while viewing them as his only family and trying to walk the tightrope between leader and family member. Difficult to do, no? Bound to make some mistakes. And he's made one in this story.
I hope I've made my position a bit clearer and eased some of your concerns. Feel free to message again if you've more questions. In any case, thank you for your interest and opinions sharing. I welcome it.
FF8cerberus – Quite the Dick indeed :) With Robin, I think once the reason for why the way he is will make him more redeemable. After he gets punched in the face of course :) Thanks for stopping by!
Well, off we go again. Hope you guys are having a good summer so far, or winter if you're on the other side of the world.