Chapter 1: Schadenfreude
Definition: schadenfreude: German term roughly translating to "malicious delight at the misfortune of others"
Though secrets are hard to keep amongst the Legion, there are some that are kept closely. There is an unwritten rule to not probe about these, though saving each other's lives on a daily basis does tend to make relationships interesting.
The entire Legion knows about Timber Wolf's past, know in depth about the horrors his own father inflicted on him, and the state of wildness he had been found in. Now they think of him as somewhat tame, somewhat civilized. He wears clothing, reads, tries to learn how to play checkers (and usually fails).
But Brainiac 5 knows something. He should, considering he's complicit.
Some nights, while everyone is dozing, in the midst of a fuzzy place between dreams and reality, they all hear a distant howl. And everyone, even Superman, shivers at that sound.
"I have detected a noticeable pattern with your behavior. It appears that they correspond with moon phases, at least here on Earth. It is difficult to say how you are affected in other planets; I will have to do further data sampling, but I have determined it is reasonable to say that the position of the moon will greatly affect your behavior and your powers. During the waxing phases, your strength will increase, but I am afraid that your grasp on humanity will not. I have yet to discover the physiological basis for this, but I hypothesize that the moon triggers hormonal responses in your system, enhancing physical strength. Unfortunately, those same hormones also have a neurological effect."
Brainiac 5's crisp, mechanical voice was as neutral as always, even when delivering news akin to a death sentence.
No, not a death sentence. An explanation… but one that did not offer much hope. Timber Wolf gazed at his misshapen hands, a cross between human digits and the gruesome claws of a beast. They were more tactile than any other appendage, save for Brainiac's mechanical digits.
"Is there any… solution?" Timber Wolf asked quietly, modulating his tone. Contrary to some opinions, his voice wasn't that much different from when he had been all human, instead of merely half. It was merely raspier, from forcing his voice through modified vocal cords. His body was only half-finished, after all.
Brainiac's robotic face actually held something of sympathy. But his violet eyes glittered with the challenge of a new scientific pursuit. "I will look for one, though it will be difficult, because of the lack of available records."
Timber Wolf finished pulling on his boots. They were actually more like slippers, fitting onto his twisted paws called feet. "By the way… how bad was the damage this time?"
Brainiac's face definitely held an element of chagrin at this point, though he replied, utterly deadpan, "Not bad, considering you managed to cause damage to the foundation and left the cleaning droids an interesting mess."
"I don't know how much longer this lie can hold up."
Timber Wolf found solace in his room, a bare place that held only a bed and a desk. Unlike the others, he didn't make any attempt at personalizing the place. He didn't have the splashy movie posters and ample pantry that Bouncing Boy had, or the strange mobiles and models in Saturn Girl's femininely rose-pink chamber, or even the photographs and checkerboard Superman kept in his rarely visited room.
The only visible personal items in Timber Wolf's room were a few basic toiletries including a brush and a bottle of antiseptic wipes and a stack of books he kept on his desk, a stack that was constantly changed during his occasional trip to the library. None of the girls had seen his room, otherwise, he had a nagging feeling that Phantom Girl would throw a royal fit and Saturn Girl would offer "suggestions" phrased in a delicately imperious manner. Besides, he found it best to maintain strong boundaries between team members.
The books had surprised Lightning Lad, the one time the other boy had crashed in Timber Wolf's room after a particularly stormy encounter with Cosmic Boy. The two lived across the hall from each other; a rather undiplomatic move. That night, Timber Wolf had mutely let in the red-head and pulled out a stack of cards from a desk drawer to start a game of poker. Though Superman was disappointed that checkers had not lasted a thousand years, he was at least mollified to know that poker, blackjack, and yes, even Go Fish, had survived. The females didn't know about it but whatever males in the Legion's headquarters always got together once a month to have a round or two, yes, even Brainiac 5, though he was barred from bets for obvious reasons.
Timber Wolf supposed that he didn't seem like the intellectual sort. In reality, books were his only solace in Raal and still remained something of a comfort. Anything and everything was of interest, from technical manuals to even a few magazines that would make any boy blush to be caught reading.
It was poetry that kept him sane on some nights, as he curled up on a brushed steel floor and silently recited his mother's favorite poem over and over. Even as he felt his teeth lengthen and his entire body deform, he would gasp out the lines, claws screeching over the metal of his prison.
Speaking of which… Timber Wolf didn't know how long he could hide his "getaways" from the rest of the Legion. Most were too polite to mention their suspicions, but he knew that they were questioning his attempts at excuses. Saturn Girl probably had the best guess of all of them; she had read his mind at least twice after all. Of the Legion, he got along most comfortably with her, though he had to be careful not to get too comfortable. Lightning Lad had given them quite a few glares though frankly, he was willing to let the other boy have her. Having a girlfriend with telepathy was not a good thing in his estimation and Timber Wolf felt quite a bit of schadenfreude in the mental image of Lightning Lad having to deal with her.
May the two of them drive each other crazy instead of the rest of the Legion.
A/N: My first Legion of Superheroes fiction! I admit, I have a thing for cartoons, though I've been told I'm way too old for them. Oh well! I also have a fondness for characters who have to fight for their humanity, not to mention are not quite human. That's why Timber Wolf became something of an icon for me. His episode was quite twisted and what can I say, I feel sorry for the guy.
So… I'm just writing this as I go along and I promise there will be angst, adventure, romance, and even a little more schadenfreude.