Author's Note: I am so sorry for the slow update. I have been going through quite a bit of drama recently, but it's begun to quiet down, so I should be posting more often. I haven't quite decided the fate of this story yet, but if you see a chapter 12 sometime in the future, you can rest assured that I decided to finish this sucker.
Disclaimer: Do you have the time to listen to me whine about not owning them?
Beast Boy rolled over onto his side, clenching his stomach. The stitches weren't supposed to be taken out for awhile. After all, he had only been in this illusion for nine days. Two, if you didn't count how long Cyborg had said he had been unconscious.
After Raven had left when he first woke up, he had sat alone for a few hours, thinking to himself. He had tried to decide whether he should just go on and live the life he had been temporarily given, or fear what was to come. To live in the moment, or to save for the future.
He still wasn't sure what he was going to do. There would always be that chance that everything that was going on was real. That he truly had been saved by his friends, and everything was right with the world. Or maybe he had been saved by his friends, and yet was trapped in this hallucination, while the real Titans watched on, worrying over him. Or maybe Galtry and Register were sitting in their fold-up chairs, drinking beer and charging up their next experiments.
Anything could be possible now. Hell, for all he cared, he could be in some alternate dimension filled with food that eats people. Who knew? With Raven around as well as those two goons, there was no telling what was real and what was fake. He would just have to choose what he believed to be real, and he would have to choose soon. Otherwise, it would drive his friends, and himself, insane. If he wasn't insane already.
The door to the infirmary hissed open, startling Beast Boy from his thoughts. His back was to the hallway, and though he couldn't see who had entered, he knew exactly who it was. Cyborg's tromping steps were unmistakable, and the sound of metal hitting metal made his identity even more obvious. With a sigh of surrender, the changeling rolled over, facing his friend.
"Hey." The black Titan nodded.
Beast Boy returned the motion. He watched curiously as his friend shuffled about, taking blood, glancing at the heart monitor, looking warily at the crash cart nearby, and tossing out a sheet of paper from the clipboard that never seemed to leave his hand.
"Well, you're all clear of toxins, though there's some damage to your organs I'll have to fix." His voice, though more perky than usual, didn't sound like his normal, eager self.
The green teenager lay on the bed quietly, contemplating whether to say anything. Could he really hold out for two weeks? Did he even want to?
"How much damage?"
"He speaks!" Cyborg cried to the heavens. The clipboard went flying as the metal teen rushed to his bedside.
Beast Boy shrank back, no longer sure if he made the right decision. If this wasn't Cyborg, it was a very good copy…almost to the point of being scary. His gloved hand ran over his stomach habitually, feeling every stitch, wondering what the scar would look like. Would it be a twisted coil of flesh, or a neat line? Would it be bold against his skin, or would it blend in a bit? And worst of all, would everyone stare at him when he went swimming without a shirt? Pity was the last thing he wanted, but the one thing he seemed to get the most.
"Um…yeah…" The youngest Titan's voice was hoarse. But not speaking for Lord knows how long will do that to a person.
"Let me get you some water buddy."
Not giving Beast Boy time to answer, Cyborg rushed to a sink and filled a paper cup with the cool liquid. The bedridden teen drank it gratefully, rolling his eyes at his friend's eagerness to help.
"Where's Raven?" He asked once he was finished.
"She's meditating I think…or maybe reading a book. It's about time. She doesn't seem to ever leave this place." The metal teenager joked.
"And what about Galtry and Register?" His words were hesitant, fearful. He had never wanted to hear or say those names again, yet here he was, asking about them.
"Are you sure you want to know?" Cyborg's voice was quiet and unsure, as though he were hiding something. And Beast Boy had a feeling he knew exactly what.
"They escaped, didn't they?"
"The cops never found them. We told them where to look, and when they got there, everyone was gone, along with a lot of their equipment."
There it was. The fact he had feared. That they would escape, no matter what the Titans tried to do. They had eluded the law for nearly a decade, what would stop them now? Certainly not a bunch of teenagers.
"Oh." He whispered.
"You gonna be alright little buddy?" Cyborg glanced at him, truly worried.
"Yeah. Raven said I was safe now."
"She was right. Nothing like this will ever happen again. I know I promised you before that you were going to be alright. Well, I'm going to keep that promise."
He had? Beast Boy tried to think back. Before the duo had kidnapped him, yet after he had been dosed that one night, Cyborg had promised him he would be okay.
The sliding of the door interrupted his thoughts. His eyes focused back on the entrance, praying it was Raven. He wanted so badly to speak to her, to seek comfort in her, to explain everything in her. But he was let down.
"Friend Beast Boy?" Starfire's small voice peeped.
"Hey Star." The green boy smiled a bit.
"You are talking!" She cheered.
Without a moment's hesitation, the alien rushed to his side and reached to grab him in one of her death hugs. But, remembering Cyborg's warning, she stopped herself and cradled his body gently instead.
"How have you been my friend?" She asked, her voice quieter now. "We have been worried for your health. Cyborg said you had been through much. More than anyone should survive."
Though he did his best to smile, it didn't come out quite right. He had been through a lot. More than when he was a kid, anyway. And who knew? Maybe there was more to come.
Stop it. He thought to himself. That won't get you anywhere.
As Starfire set him down, the doors again opened. "Well, there's no end to the visitors today, huh B?" Cyborg joked.
Beast Boy rolled his eyes, focusing on who was entering. Through the tiny space left between Starfire, Cyborg, his IV cart, and the crash cart, he could see a slice of deep indigo felt. Raven, the one and only. A small grin found its way over his face, and he struggled to see more of her. Starfire, seeing his strain to look past her, moved out of the way.
"Friend Raven, Beast Boy is-"
"Speaking." Beast Boy interrupted his alien friend.
"I see." Raven cocked her head a bit. "And when did this start?"
"About five minutes ago." Cyborg smiled sheepishly.
"Hey, Cy, Star, can you guys leave us alone for a minute?" Beast Boy asked.
"Sure thing little buddy." The black teen grinned, giving a slightly-hidden thumbs up.
"Of course, friend." Starfire giggled, racing out of the room.
Once Cyborg had cleared out as well, Beast Boy turned to face Raven. For a moment, their eyes locked in an undeclared staring contest. The changeling gave first. His head turned, his cheeks blushing with shame and embarrassment. Raven kept her focus on him, remaining quiet, waiting for him to speak first.
"I'm sorry I scared you." He whispered, almost inaudibly.
"I'm sure you had a good reason." She insisted, her voice monotone as always.
"I guess. Though, I still have a good reason to not do or say anything." His voice grew softer as he spoke.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean…" He sighed. "I'm not really sure how to explain it without sounding…I don't know…insane or something."
"I won't think you are insane no matter how you word it."
"I just…I can't help but think this is all an illusion."
"I don't think I fully understand." Raven raised an eyebrow.
"When I was down there, they did experiments-"
"I know." The empath cut him off. He nodded, understanding she didn't want to hear about it.
"Well, one of those was a hallucinogen, kind of like what Cyborg apparently found in my blood. I don't know how long that first one lasted. A few hours, maybe more. But nine days ago, or, however long ago it was, they gave me another one. They said it would last a week this time. But, they told me that time moves differently when you are hallucinating, so it would seem like approximately two weeks to me."
He paused, taking a breath. His head turned slowly to face her, to take in her expression. She seemed to be trying her best to keep a placid façade, but her eyes burned with a deep anger. Her mouth creased until it was no more than a thin line. Her fists were in a ball under her cape. And, though Beast Boy couldn't be sure, he thought he saw a tear glisten in her eye. However, she blinked before he could get a good look, eliminating the leak.
"So, I don't know how I can tell if this is real or not. Are you just some hallucination brought on by halothane and Lord knows what else, are you real, or am I really in the Tower, but still trapped in a dream?"
"Only you can answer that." She groped for something better to say, but came up with nothing. "I'm not really sure what to say. This isn't like a nightmare, where pain or the simple fact that it's fake will wake you up. It's something you will need to find out the old fashioned way. Wait."
Beast Boy nodded sullenly, twiddling his thumbs. He had been afraid of that. But at least now he was sure that there was no other way, and at least now they understood his strange behavior.
"Thanks." He said quietly, smiling a bit.
Raven almost smiled back. "It's good to have you home."