Chapter 7: The Teen Titans
"I knew there was a reason I really hate the Doom Patrol," Cyborg frowned.
Robin couldn't but to draw similarities between himself and Mento. The heavy guilt in the pit of his stomach only expanded. The others were silent, lost in their own thoughts.
Beast Boy was wandering aimlessly through a forest. The sun was setting, and the trees were growing darker and more eerie. He didn't seem to be aware of anything, though he easily maneuvered through the domain. He spotted something in the leaves ahead and picked it up. It was an abandoned hunting knife.
After a moment of scrutiny, Beast Boy sat down where he was and worked to scratch away the dirt and rust. There was a thoughtful expression on his face all the while, and it remained there as he stared at the cleaned knife in his lap. The sun was lowering quickly below the horizon, and soon it would be total night. Beast Boy raised his eyes to the sky, tilting his head back slightly. His lips moved in silence, though they formed foreign words. Once again, the Titans were reminded of Raven.
Then Beast Boy raised the knife and put the tip to his throat.
All four of his friends looked on in horror, holding their breaths. He wouldn't do it. No way.
The knife sliced easily through his flesh, and he slowly dragged it to the right with a determined wince. Blood squirted from his self-inflicted wound, spilling down the chest of his uniform. A few centimeters more and the blade would pierce his jugular, and he would bleed to death alone.
But then he stopped suddenly, ears perked back. A girl had cried out behind him. Beast Boy pressed a gloveless hand to his open wound to slow the bleeding and peered around the tree.
A very familiar figure was on her knees, arms outstretched toward a black portal. "Arella!" she cried. "Please, don't leave me! I'm scared! Don't leave me!" But the portal shrank and closed, leaving the blue-cloaked girl in the dark forest. She buried her face in her hands and sobbed. "Arella, Arella," she repeated as she rocked herself back and forth. Black magic traveled up several tree trunks but did no damage.
Beast Boy watched her sadly for a moment, then dropped his knife. He started to move forward, but then seemed to think better of it and morphed into a bird. Its feathers were dark enough to be mistaken for black in the night. He flapped his wings and fluttered to the girl.
She gasped and whipped around when she heard him, eyes glowing white as her hand was encased with a similar magic. Then her magic faded as she realized it was just a bird, revealing tear-streaked cheeks and immensely sad amethyst eyes.
"Oh," she said, her voice taking on an undertone of her normal one. "It's a raven. What are you do...You're hurt." She noticed the blood soaking its neck and chest and moved toward the bird slowly. "What happened? Who would hurt such a beautiful bird like you?"
Beast Boy cocked his head as he listened to her, and hesitantly allowed her to touch him. Her gentle hand eased a flow of magic into his wound, sealing it up and cleaning his feathers. He was frozen in surprise.
"Better?" Raven asked, giving him a small smile of kindness.
Beast Boy cawed loudly and spread his wings, then took off. He didn't go far, though. Only a few feet away was an apple tree, which yielded several small fruit. He grabbed one in his talons and then twisted in mid-air to return to the girl. Raven watched him incredulously as he set it before her and then nudged it forward with his beak.
"Thank you," she whispered, taking it gingerly. She bit into it, and a bit of juice ran down her chin. "It's good," she mumbled.
Beast Boy ambled to her side and sat down, folding his wings tightly against himself.
She looked at him out of the corner of her eye as she ate. She seemed a bit confused, but also rather flattered that a bird would come to comfort her. Raven finished the apple and set it on the ground.
"Everyone tells me it's not my fault, you know," Raven said suddenly. She pulled her robe tighter around herself. Beast Boy cocked his head. "It's not like I asked to be born. I just was. But I'm cursed because of my father. He's really terrible. I, I'm scared of him.
"Everyone is afraid of me. They think I'm a monster, or that I'm going to turn into one. I guess that's true. But I always feel lonely. I hate it. It's not fair," she said bitterly.
Beast Boy cawed softly.
"Maybe I can find a city or something," she wondered. She leaned back until she was lying down, looking up at the stars. "Maybe there's someone would be my friend. But probably not. Everyone hates me." Raven thought for a moment. "Except you. But you're a raven." She looked at him, and he looked back. "Good night, raven."
Then she closed her eyes, and the memory ended.
The shocked Titans turned to Raven, who looked utterly mortified. Her cheeks took on a red tinge, and she pulled her hood down to obscure her face. "I didn't know," she mumbled.
The next memory began with sunlight. The Titans were looking down at a sleeping Raven. After a moment they realized that Beast Boy was crouched in a tree, the thick green foliage concealing him. The past Raven woke and stretched, then seemed to remember where she was as she looked around. For a moment she seemed close to tears, but then saw three apples laid beside her.
She searched her surroundings for the raven who had helped her, but didn't see him. Raven picked up one of the fruits and bit into it. It wasn't until after she had eaten her fill that the girl noticed an arrow made of sticks pointing forward. Her eyes followed the direction and stopped on another similar arrow.
Raven cautiously moved forward and followed them, keeping an eye out for strangers. Beast Boy stayed still and watched her to make sure she would get out of the forest safely. Each arrow pointed ahead to another arrow a short distance. She was guided around trees and steep steps, and the leaves were cleared away in several places to reveal upraised roots that she otherwise might have tripped over. When she didn't come across any danger, Raven relaxed and trusted the arrows.
Beast Boy followed swiftly and silently, occasionally morphing into a green squirrel or bird to move from tree to tree, all the while remaining hidden. An hour of walking later, Raven saw the end of the trees and the last arrow. She took a step out of the forest and looked around. On the horizon was Jump City, and beyond that was the sea.
Raven looked over her shoulder at the forest, her eyes scanning it. Then she looked up at where Beast Boy was perched and grinned broadly. "Thanks, raven," she said. Then she sank into a portal to appear elsewhere in the city.
"This is the day," Raven said, "we all met."
As if on cue, a new memory cut in. A furious Starfire demolished a building and then turned on another, flipping a car in the process. Beast Boy sat up from the wreckage, dazed. He shook his head and then looked to where Starfire had just been, eyebrows raised in surprise.
"Yeesh," he said under his breath.
Suddenly the Titans' eyes snapped open, and they were back in the warehouse. Mistricker sat up and rubbed his eyes underneath his sunshades as though he had just woken from a nap. Beast Boy was still lying in front of Robin, who was still wrapped in the cables. The girls and Cyborg were still stuck to the floor. They were in the present again.
Mistricker looked at his device in his hand. "I suppose I'll have to come back another day," he said as he stood and brushed himself off. "The battery is drained, and my charger is back in my home, the location of which I will not be disclosing. I'm sure once Beastie wakes up, he'll be more than happy to get you out of your predicaments. Later." The villain casually made his way out of the warehouse, device tucked under his arm. He ignored the demands and insults of the Titans, and made a quick getaway.
"Beast Boy," Robin said, trying to rouse his green friend. "Beast Boy!"
Beast Boy moaned softly and stirred to put a hand on his head. "What happened?" he slurred.
"I need your help, Beast Boy," Robin said. "Can you get me out of this?"
Bleary green eyes met his, and then there was a gorilla taking hold of the cables. Like before, they snapped easily under the primate's strain.
"Thank you." Robin pushed himself to his feet and put a hand on Beast Boy's shoulder as he reverted to his human form and swayed. "You should sit down, I'll take care of the rest."
"What happened to the bad guy?" Beast Boy asked. He was obviously disoriented, which worried the rest of the Titans. Had the device's intrusion scrambled his brains?
"You scared him off," Cyborg said from his place across the room.
"He got away?"
Robin hesitated. "Yeah, but that's okay." He finished as he walked over to his sticky teammates, "None of us were able to catch him."
Beast Boy was silent. He looked exhausted and confused.
Robin stopped at the edge of the mess, wondering what to do. "Any ideas?" he asked.
"My sensors analyzed the properties of the substance," Cyborg said seriously. "It seems it can be dissolved in water, but you'll need a heck of a lot of it."
Raven mumbled because her lips were sealed shut, but when she got Robin's attention she moved her eyes upward.
"A pipe," Robin said. He pulled a birdarang out of his belt and attached an exploding disk to it. He hit his mark, and the pipe burst open and rained down stale water. Raven used her powers to redirect and concentrate the water onto herself and the others, quickly freeing them.
"Friend Beast Boy!" Starfire cried. She whizzed over to him as soon as she could move and threw her arms around him. Beast Boy tensed, but then looked surprised when he wasn't crushed, and then bewildered when she sobbed into his shoulder.
"Uh, Star?" he uttered, putting a tentative hand on her back. "Did I miss anything?"
"What's the last thing you remember?" Raven asked cautiously.
"Uh, the bad guy was about to get Robin with some freaky metal thing," Beast Boy replied. "So, uh, I moved in the way. You know, 'cause getting in the way is sort of my thing." He laughed nervously.
"Let's go back to the tower," Robin said.
"But what about the bad guy?" Beast Boy questioned.
"He doesn't matter," Robin waved him off. "I'll meet you guys back there."
Raven and Cyborg shared a glance.
"Well," Cyborg said. "Let's get to the T-car, then."
Robin was waiting in the common room when the others arrived back at the tower. It was night already, and Jump City was lit brightly, blotting out most of the stars in the inky sky.
"Dudes," Beast Boy said in an annoyed tone as he was ushered into the room, "why aren't you guys saying anything? What's up, okay?"
"Beast Boy," Robin stood. "Come sit."
He groaned in frustration and jumped over the back of the couch. The green changeling folded his arms and scowled. "Now can we please tell me what's going on?"
"Yes," Robin said, standing in front of him. "I'm sorry."
"Huh?" Beast Boy blinked, then shook his head. "Uh, I don't think I heard you right, dude..."
"You did," he replied. "I'm sorry. That fight earlier, I didn't mean what I said. I was just," he searched for the word as Beast Boy stared at him.
"Frustrated," Beast Boy said. Robin nodded. "Tired, cranky, irritated."
"Yeah," Robin agreed. "I just thought I'd get that out of the way before we tell you this."
Beast Boy frowned in anticipation.
"We have witnessed the memories of your past," Starfire blurted, unable to contain herself. She floated next to Robin and looked at Beast Boy with huge eyes. "We are sorry if we have done the violating of your trust, but we could not get out once we were inside."
"Man," Cyborg said, looking sad, "you could have-I would have-we..." He trailed off, unable to voice his thoughts.
Raven merely looked at Beast Boy. He wasn't surprised, but rather seemed disappointing. She assumed that meant he did remember what happened, but he was hoping that they didn't, or at least wouldn't bring it up.
"I understand if you don't want to talk about it," Robin interjected. "But I do feel that it's important that you know that we're here for you, Beast Boy."
"How much did you see?" Beast Boy asked.
"Uh," Cyborg stammered. "A lot, actually. I think we saw your worst memories. There weren't too many happy ones."
Beast Boy nodded seriously, then his face lit up in a goofy smile. "Well, now I don't have to talk about it, 'cause you guys have already seen it!"
"Another thing," Raven interrupted, and Beast Boy turned his grin towards her. "Are you just pretending?"
"Are you pretending," she elaborated, "to be happy, to not understand things, to love tofu? Things like that?"
Beast Boy smiled. "I'm happy with you guys. I don't know a lot about a lot of things. Tofu is great, Raven, you should try some!"
The other Titans simply looked sadly at him.
"Friend Beast Boy," Starfire said gently, "you do not have to hide from us. We are friends no matter what. Even if you are the unhappy we will stand by you."
"Thanks, Star," Beast Boy laughed and stood. "But I'm totally okay! Who's hungry? I've got tofu waffles."
Robin lashed out and grabbed Beast Boy as he passed, much to everyone's surprise. Before the youngest member could say anything more, he was pulled into Robin's arms in a tight hug. A second later, Starfire wrapped her arms around the two boys. Raven and Cyborg couldn't resist joining in.
After the initial shock of his emotionally-starved leader embracing him, and the realization that the others had added their own warmth to the circle, tears finally fell from Beast Boy's eyes. "I'm not okay," he whimpered softly, and his friends' arms tightened around him. They stayed like that for a long while, until Beast Boy's tears had run dry.
The older Titans weren't entirely sure how to help him, but they knew that they would find a way. When it came to their own, they would go to the ends of the world to save them, and that was especially true for their little jokester.
"You know," Raven said, "when I was younger, I was raised by the monks of Azarath. I was only allowed to see Arella...I mean, my mother, every once in a while. It was to protect her mental well-being, since I wasn't conceived under the...best of terms. I was lonely, so I buried myself in stories, fairy tales. They also distracted me from my powers. I guess the habit just stuck." She shrugged awkwardly.
Beast Boy nodded in acknowledgement and rubbed his eyes. He kept his head lowered.
"One day I was at S.T.A.R. Labs, where my dad worked," Cyborg said, rubbing the back of his neck. "Well, I mean, you already know he worked there, so...ahem. Well, my mom went in first 'cause I forgot something in the car. When I went in, she...There was..." He took a deep breath. "A weird, freaky blob monster got my mom and...dis-It came after me next. I'd never felt such pain, man. It dissolved whatever it touched, flesh and bone included.
"My old man ran in with some kind of freeze ray and sprayed it all over the blob creature and threw it into some kind of portal. That's the last I remember before I woke up like this."
The Titans looked quite amazed at this new discovery, but didn't comment on it.
"You have met my sister, Blackfire," Starfire began. "But you have not met my younger brother, Wildfire." The Titans stared at her.
"Please tell me he isn't evil, too," Beast Boy sighed, a flicker of his comical personality suddenly showing.
Starfire gave a small smile. "No...At least, I do not believe he is. You see, when the Gordanians invaded Tamaran five years ago, Wildfire was sent away to a safe part of the galaxy to preserve the royal bloodline. He is the crown prince of my world. Even I do not know his whereabouts, or whether he is still alive."
Beast Boy lowered his eyes sadly. "Sorry to hear that...All of you," he added to include Raven and Cyborg.
Robin looked deep in thought. Cyborg gave him a meaningful look, which Robin ignored. "That just leaves me, then," he slowly. "All right. I grew up in a circus."
The Titans stared at him for a moment, waiting for him to laugh. When he didn't they did-even Beast Boy.
"What?" Robin demanded.
"A circus?" Cyborg repeated. "No wonder you half dress as a clown!"
Robin's cheeks flushed red. "My parents and I," he said through slightly gritted teeth, "were the Flying Graysons."
Cyborg immediately sobered up while Raven and Starfire still wore amused smiles. Beast Boy tried to suppress his giggles.
"The trapeze wires were sabotaged," Robin continued. "Halfway through their act, the wires snapped, and my parents fell to their deaths."
Now no one was smiling.
Beast Boy looked at his shoes, then raised his eyes to Robin's mask. "Does that mean you're Richard?"
Robin did a double-take. "How did you...?"
The green boy cracked a grin. "Dude, you were in a traveling circus. You came to Africa once, and my parents took us out to the city to see you guys. It was awesome!"
When his shock wore off, Robin chuckled a bit. Starfire suddenly began to enthuse about several Tamaranean dishes she felt were right for the occasion, and the Titans desperately tried to convince her that they were all tired and should get some rest. She conceded only when she realized she did not have all the necessary ingredients, much to her friends' relief. Beast Boy seemed much more at ease than usual. Finally, they all bid one another good night and left for their own rooms to dream of a better tomorrow.
A/N: GAH. The fluffiest ending I've ever written, I think. It kinda hurt there at the end...
Anywho, thanks to all of my readers! You guys are totally the best. You're amazing. Awesome. Magnificent. I couldn't have done it without your support. Accept these salted roasted peanuts, unless you're allergic to them, in which case you can have these salted roasted almonds.
Perhaps one day I might write another Teen Titans fanfic. But I don't know what I'm going to write now, because I forgot to plan for something after this fic. I never really think past my goals. Bad habit of mine. In any case, this one's finished, and I'll be off. :)