Disclaimer: I don't own the Teen Titans.
Author's Note: This is why I don't make promises about updates.
Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are.
-Dinah Maria Mulock
Of Things to Come
Fortunately for all involved, Starfire's and Cyborg's visits were relatively uneventful, although both visitors were curious as to why Beast Boy seemed so twitchy. It was a week later when once more, the changeling decided to boldly go where everyone else had the good sense not to.
"This is entirely your fault, you realize."
"I prefer to think of this as a team effort, actually."
Beast Boy and Knowledge were sitting together at the top of one of the few trees to be found in Nevermore, this one residing in Affection's realm. The green boy idly thought to himself that this wouldn't be such a bad place to hang out for some downtime, given the generally friendly atmosphere it held.
"Let me at him! I'm going to kill that little twerp!" Rage struggled against the combined efforts of her fellow emotions—minus Rude, who was too busy laughing to be of any help to anyone—and in spite of her complete lack of progress, seemed to be dead set on murdering the changeling.
"That argument isn't going to convince anyone to let you go," chided Wisdom, who stood at the base of the tree Beast Boy had taken refuge in.
"It was not a 'team effort,' Garfield," Knowledge said in response to his claim. "You're the one who pulled her finger."
"Well how was I supposed to know that it would affect Raven out in the real world?!" Beast Boy demanded. "Why would an emotion control an involuntary physical response?"
Down at the bottom of the tree, Rage continued to try and break free to wreak havoc upon the object of her anger by bargaining with Wisdom. "I'm going to murder him!"
"I'm going to mutilate him!"
Rage paused in her struggles and looked thoughtfully at the aspect denying her access to the boy in question ("Besides, by now Raven—and you guys—should know that telling me not to do something all but guarantees that it's going to happen!").
"I'm going to… mostly murder him?"
"After a great deal of thought and deliberation," Starfire shouted to the rest of the Titans, trying to make herself heard over the fans going full blast in the common room, "I have decided that I shall no longer be allowing Silkie to eat the disgusting discarded items of footwear we find on the beach, for the resulting odor is most unpleasant!"
Wisdom nodded. "Okay."
Affection, Bravery, Happy, and Timid looked aghast at Wisdom, who merely shrugged at the four emotions. Rage, who was just as surprised as the others, recovered more quickly and broke free of her restraints while her sisters were distracted. Immediately flying up the tree, she shouted up a triumphant warning to her quarry: "You hear that, grass stain? When I get my hands on you, you're mostly dead!"
A muttered curse was heard from the treetop, followed by a screech as a green falcon darted out of the canopy in an attempt to escape the wrath of Rage. The red-cloaked emotion cackled gleefully as she gave chase. "Come back, Garfield! You know you're not supposed to be by yourself!"
In the aftermath of the "almost murder" incident, the task of guarding—and healing—Beast Boy fell to Knowledge, Rude, and Timid. Rude immediately nodded off, leaving the actual "work" of watching the changeling to the others. Beast Boy, too, was feeling exhausted from the day's events; while Raven had cooled off fairly quickly and rescinded Rage's permission to do considerable violence upon Garfield's person, she hadn't done so quickly enough to keep the emotion from taking out some of her aggression on the changeling.
The four of them had once again retired to Affection's domain, and after a quick drink from a stream that flowed in a circle around the realm, Garfield followed Rude's example and flopped down in the grass for a quick nap, leaving Timid and Knowledge alone.
Several minutes passed in silence before Knowledge broke it. "Something is troubling you," she stated to the grey-cloaked emotion.
Timid had always been more comfortable with Knowledge than any of the rest of Nevermore's inhabitants, with the possible exception of Affection. She understood that the aspect would not try and hide the truth from her, and with that understand came a certain bond of trust. Had anyone else asked, she would have avoided giving an answer, but when Knowledge asked, Timid answered.
"Why does she use me so much with…" she looked meaningfully at the unconscious dog blending in with the grass, kicking his leg as he dreamed.
"There are a number of answers to your question," Knowledge replied. "In many cases, Raven is aware that her reactions to his behavior are disproportionate to the offense, and the guilt associated with that is part of your jurisdiction. In many cases, she is worried about his well-being, such as when he is injured in a fight or when-" she cut herself off. "Wait, do you mean that in the normal course of events Raven uses you to a greater extent in regards to Beast Boy than she does for the other Titans?"
Timid nodded glumly, and Knowledge curled a hand under her chin in thought. She remained in that pose for several moments, looking off into the distance, before letting out a sigh and turning to her companion. "In truth, Timid, I do not know, since until now Raven—and by extension, myself—was not aware of your increased use in regards to Garfield. I can speculate that it is because he is in more serious danger than the others more frequently, lacking ranged offense and frequently using forms more vulnerable to injury than the human body in fights, but I am unable to provide you with a definitive answer at this moment. I will consult with Wisdom when she arrives to stand guard next, and we will see if we can find an answer for you."
Timid nodded again, accepting the aspects answer. Turning her head to observe the sleeping changeling once more, she felt the stirring of something she had never felt before. The feeling overrode her perpetual terror of the unknown, and connecting it to the green form in the grass, she floated over towards Beast Boy.
Knowledge looked up from her musings—why, indeed, would Timid be used disproportionately in regards to Beast Boy?—to see her nervous companion hovering over the changeling with an odd expression on her face. For a brief moment, the aspect thought that Garfield's fur was blue-tinted, but a blink and a second look confirmed that the canine below Timid was his usual hue. That still did not explain…
"Timid," she whispered sharply, "check him." Timid jumped back as though she had been caught doing something forbidden—and what indeed, she asked herself, had she been doing?—but dutifully followed Knowledge's orders and checked the surface of Beast Boy's mind. Her eyes widened fearfully, and she looked over to the aspect and nodded in confirmation: the Beast was in control of the unconscious changeling at the moment. Knowledge cursed inwardly and alerted Raven to the situation; Beast Boy had gone several days without the Beast reappearing, and there had been some hope—albeit, unfounded hope—that his problems with it were over. Obviously, that was not the case.
Rude was rudely awakened, and her shouts woke up the Beast, who immediately tried to transform and escape. Timid pinned him in the air while Rude forced him into his human shape, and the two of them teleported all four of them to the Center to wait for Raven and the rest of Nevermore's inhabitants. As they waited, Knowledge looked over at the struggling boy's blank eyes and shuddered.
Wisdom listened to Knowledge's question with a frown. A glance behind her confirmed that the changeling wasn't close enough to overhear their discussion, and that Brave and Happy were being suitably distracting even if he had been.
That Timid would be used more in relation to one particular person or thing could be the result of several factors, as Knowledge had pointed out. In addition to being a fear for, though, it could be a fear of, and although Wisdom didn't think that was it, she couldn't completely discount that possibility. "The obvious question is whether Timid is alone in her increased usage, or whether she is being used in conjunction with another emotion. There is little reason to ask Rage or Rude whether they are seeing more expression in regards to-"
"There is even less reason to cut corners," countered Knowledge. Wisdom paused, and nodded.
"You are correct. The obvious starting points are Affection and Brave, then."
"It would be wise to cover all possible bases, and as you know-"
"Yes, Beast Boy is not the standard of human male physical attractiveness, but neither is he unattractive."
Wisdom nodded again. "Very well, I shall remain here and question Brave when the opportunity arises."
"And I shall go discover whether or not Raven finds pointy ears to be… 'cute.'"
"I don't know." Knowledge blinked at Affection.
"Tell me what you do know, then."
"Well," started the purple-clad emotion, "I can tell you that Raven uses me a great deal in reference to him when you wouldn't know it by her outward reaction—usually when he's bothering her to leave the room and spend time with the team. I can tell you that I was seriously overworked towards him after Malchior-"
Thunder crashed in the distance.
"So," Knowledge began after the noise quieted down, "you can't tell me why Raven expresses you, just that you're being expressed."
Affection nodded. "Raven is the one who does the feeling, we just get expressed. We're like sapient batteries: we know where and when we're being used, just not what for." She sighed. "If Raven had bothered to actually listen to us over the past decade, you would already know this."
"You know why she didn't, Affection."
"Because she was afraid of us. Oh, she was afraid of Trigon too," she said, cutting off Knowledge's protest before the aspect could open her mouth, "but she was as afraid of us as she was of him. Feeling is a risk, and instead of listening to her emotions she used you and Wisdom as a crutch. You remember when she joined the Titans, don't you?" Affection gave a slight smirk at Knowledge's shudder: the emotions had practically erupted in revolt when Raven had almost abandoned the concept of having friends because "it wasn't safe." Even Timid had chipped in, with fears of being alone for the rest of her life. The aspects—and Raven—had been caught completely off guard, and Raven had subsequently given in to the request to join before she was completely aware of what she was doing. It was the aftereffects of that brief uprising that had resulted in the (now) infamous comment to Beast Boy that had resulted in years of bad jokes.
Knowledge frowned, reflecting on what she now knew, which wasn't much more than before. Leaving Affection's realm, she decided to stop by Rage and see what she could learn. It was possible that it was merely exposure that was causing the uptick in emotional output for the changeling: he did try and spend more time with Raven than the other Titans, which could explain the increase. It didn't ring true, but it was worth investigating.
Happy giggled as she ran away from the changeling, dodging back and forth as she evaded his attempts to tag her. Behind her, the purple stripe of Beast Boy's uniform flashed a dark blue for a few seconds, and as it did, the pink-clad emotion let out a sigh of contentment. Even as she slowed down—and thereby became 'it,'—she couldn't feel as though things could get any better. A second later, she was eagerly chasing down Brave, who had vanished for a minute, the feeling all but forgotten.
Author's Note: Girls don't fart, not even demon girls, and if they did it would smell like rainbows and sunshine. So no, I did not break a two-year absence with a fart joke. Obviously.