'Whoever he is...'
At the time it was all he could keep thinking to himself.
'Whatever he is...'
Over and over again like a prayer. The more he said it the more empowered he felt.
'...he is not Garfield Logan.'
The more he said it, the stronger he could feel his armor becoming, the sharper his sword, the sturdier his shield.
'He is not Beast Boy.'
The more he said it, the less fear he held for the snarling, snapping dragon, towering in front of him, the less he could feel the effect of its blows.
With a wave of its mighty claw, the beast tried to crush him flat, but a nimble leap back was all it took to avoid the strike and counter attack with a vertical sword slash, slicing the back of the its hand. The creature roared in agony as white light began pouring out of the open wound, leaping upward, fleeing up into the sky. It again attempted to incinerate him with its flame breath, breathing deep and expunging a raging inferno from deep within its belly, but once again it was a futile effort.
Crouching down the knight held his golden shield in front of him and watched as the fire splashed against its impenetrable surface shooting away to all sides, leaving him completely unharmed.
The beast roared in frustration.
"You could have had anything you wanted," it hissed. "Any woman you wanted. The entire depth of your imagination would have bended to your every will and all would have needed to do was stay where you were and let me live my life."
"It's my life," the knight answered. "And you're not going to run it anymore."
With that said he leapt into the air. Gravity bowed to him as he fled the earth below him and took flight, rising up, up, up, sword raised above his head, gripped tightly in his hands. Giving his own mighty roar he dove towards his foe and struck down upon him a fierce blow across his scaly face. He slashed again and again. With every fresh blow, more and more white light poured out of the creature. Flying skyward, the light began penetrating the dark storm clouds, peeling them back to reveal more and more blue sky. The beast tried in vain to fight back but every snap of its jaw, every swipe of its claws found only air or the firm, hard thud of the knight's shield. Finally with one final blow the dragon was finished. A deep wound was opened up in the dragon's chest stretching the full length of his body down to the beginning of his tail. There was an explosion as a sea of white bathed the battlefield. Then everything was quiet.
All he could see was white.
All he could hear was the tick, tick, ticking sound of a single grandfather clock that stood in the middle of the white, imposing as a monolith, tall as a skyscraper.
Suddenly grabbing at his chest, he looked down. The sword and shield were now gone, the golden armor as well. In its place was now simply his purple and black Doom Patrol uniform. Looking up he fixed his eyes on the clock. With presumably nowhere else to go he began navigating his way across the blank, white landscape, his feet making no sound as he walked.
There was no sound at all save for the the slow tick, tick, tick of the clock.
He continued walking until suddenly there was a clicking sound like that of a door being unlocked and suddenly the entire front of the clock began to slowly open. Like a door way to another world, it opened, wider and wider until it opened completely. And inside was Titan's Tower, standing tall and proud on the rocky beach of the little speck land in the middle of Jump City Bay. Home.
The voice was sudden. Whirling around sharply on his heels he turned and once again faced him, the alternate him, now no longer a dragon just a simple clone, staring down and to the right, almost seeming oblivious to everything around him, however minimal it may have been.
"It's all over," he said.
Beast Boy said nothing, simply stood on guard.
The double looked up. Their eyes met and suddenly his appearance began to change. His skin lightened, changing from green to a pale peach color, and his hair grew dark. His nose sharpened and his eyes changed from green to brown. His cloths changed as well. The black and purple Doom Patrol costume slowly became the black and green and brown of camouflage gear. He became taller and more muscular and he aged several years, becoming a man of about thirty.
But it didn't end there.
No sooner had he finished transforming when suddenly he was changing again. His eyes turned blue, his hair grew long and blonde, his body shrank and became sleeker, developing a feminine shape. The years he had just put on now peeled away until he became a young woman of about 21 wearing a long white gown.
"I've been doing this for far too long. I'm tired," she said.
Transforming again his skin darkened and his hair grayed.
"So many years, so many life times. One after the other, never feeling satisfied," he said now an old African American man. As he spoke he continued to transform. A middle aged man in a grey business suit. A young Latino woman in about her mid thirties. A dark haired man wearing 1920s work attire with an Irish accent. A full bearded Japanese man in a simple collared shirt. His body never dwelled on one form for too long.
"All these years," he said, now a redheaded girl of about 16. "And you were the first person I ever had to trick. I tried and tried, but when you were sleeping was the only time I could get any control. Your will. Your identity. Your sense of self. It was flawed, but it was just so strong. I knew the only way to get total control was for you to give it to me."
Then, suddenly, the transformations stopped. Now there stood a young boy of only about thirteen. His clothes were simple and clean, remnants of an era long since passed. He was scrawny, sickly thin, his skin was pale and his eyes were dark and his cheeks were sunken in. His hair was dirty and greasy. He looked like death.
"I was going to be great," he said. "So many things to do, so many things to see. There wasn't nothing in the whole world that woulda stopped me. But sometimes things don't turn out the way you want them to." The boy then looked down, his face sad and ashamed. "It don't excuse what I done, but I was just so mad ya know? I just wanted my chance. The one I never got." He looked up and once again he and Beast Boy made contact. Tears were forming at the corners of the young boy's eyes and he was quick to wipe them away. "It was only going to be one, I swear. But then I did it again. And again. And again. And I just kept doing it." Tears were now cascading down his cheeks staining them red. "It was wrong what I done. Just because I lost my chance, doesn't mean it was right to do the same to alla them. Or to you."
Beast Boy was speechless. If there was anything to say he couldn't think of it.
"But I'm done now," continued the boy. "Fightin' with you. It made me realize some things." There was notable fear in his voice mixed with a kind of confidence. Afraid of what would come next but ready to face it all the same. "I'm leaving. And this time I'm not coming back. But just promise me one thing." The boy's eyes became sincere and pleading. "Promise me you'll enjoy yourself while you can. Because you never know when it'll all be over."
Beast Boy smiled slightly, the bottom right corner of his mouth pulling up as he nodded in understanding. "No problem," he said. He hesitated for a moment and then offered his hand to the boy.
Looking at him straight, the boys dark circled eyes shimmered, his thin lips pulled back into his sunken cheeks and he smiled. He outstretched his own thin, boney hand and grasped Beast Boy's hand, shaking it. A gentlemen's hand shake between two individuals. No hard feelings between them.
Slowly his eyes cracked open. He blinked several times at the dark, blurry figures all around him and for a second he wondered if he were in yet another place conjured up in his mind. Then he heard someone call his name.
That voice calling out to him, like music to his ears.
His vision began to focus and soon he saw the familiar faces of his teammates hovering above him, looking just as concerned and worried as ever. Robin leaned in close to him and said, "Beast Boy, are you okay?" He turned back to the team. "He still looks out of it."
"How will we know that this is truly our Beast Boy?" asked Starfire.
Cyborg leaned in close to him. "Yo, B," he said, louder than necessary. "If you're really B then say something only Beast Boy would say."
He smiled weakly. It was the perfect setup. The lines were leaving his lips before he even realized he was speaking. "Something only Beast Boy would say," he said groggily.
The team's faces lit up and they all turned to one another.
"It's him," they all said.
He was nervous again, though he had to admit it wasn't nearly as bad as it had once been. Still having Raven standing over him as he lay in his hospital bed with her hands gently placed on his temples almost massaging them was enough to make his pulse quicken at least a little. After several minutes of keeping perfectly still she removed her hands and took a step back.
"Nope," she said aloud. "I can't find anything out of the ordinary. Your mind is completely clean. Relatively speaking."
He blushed embarrassed. "Thanks," he choked out. He then expected her to leave the room. Instead he was surprised to see her pull up a chair and take a seat beside him. Things were tense for a moment, but then he finally managed to ask the question that had been nagging him.
"So, what was it anyway?"
She looked at him deep in the eyes. She then broke contact for a moment before turning back and saying, "Well..."
Whenever someone dies in anger or frustration or regret, if ever someone in death feels cheated or betrayed, their soul will sometimes linger in this world, refusing to move on to the next. For some it's just a matter of coming to terms with what's happened. But still others try and do something about it. And sometimes they become what is known as a Possessor, a life taker. They steal bodies, assume identities. Sometimes it's to fulfill a purpose. Sometimes it's because they simply want another chance at life.
"From what I squeezed out of that snake, Slaven, he managed to trap one of these Possessor spirits in a mirror in his shop."
"What was he going to do with it?" asked Beast Boy.
Raven half smiled and arched an eyebrow expressing her disbelief at what she was going to say next. "He wanted to see if he could sell it."
Raven nodded. "That's Slaven for you."
"Anyway when you went exploring that day in his shop, all it must have took for the spirit to escape into your mind was one look into the mirror." She then looked at him and smirked. "And honestly when are you going to learn your lesson about mirrors?"
Beast Boy blushed remembering back to the time he and Cyborg stumbled upon Raven's meditation mirror and were both sucked into her mind. He chuckled nervously. "I'm sure it'll sink in someday."
Things became quiet.
"There's not a whole lot you can do about Possessors," said Raven suddenly. "You can maybe exorcise them, but you always run the risk of killing the host." Her tone became somber. "In your case, the Posessor was so tightly entwined with your soul there was nothing I could do." She paused for a moment and looked straight into his eyes. "Only a select few have been able to do what you've done, Beast Boy, exercise enough strength and willpower to force the Possessor out of your body."
Beast Boy could feel himself blushing.
"You should be very proud," she then added.
Again things became quiet.
"So what happened to Slaven?" asked Beast Boy after a while.
Raven smirked a devious smirk. "Well doing anything to renegade souls other than exorcising them is considered an act of evil and had I told anyone he would have been pursued by every mystic across dimensions and eventually executed. But I decided to let him off the hook just this once if he promised not to do it again."
Now it was Beast Boy's turn to smirk. He knew Raven well enough to know she was holding something back. "But," he said, implying that she continue.
"But," she continued. "I also decided he should go someplace for a while to think about what he'd done."
"Dimension of pure itching?"
She nodded. "Pure itching." Another silence came over the two and after a moment Raven got up from her chair. "Well," she said. "I'll let you get some rest."
Watching her leave, he realized where he was. Alone with her, laughing and talking. It occured to him that he would not and could not let her walk away from him again. At least not yet.
"Raven," he called out to her. He watched as she stopped and turned. He looked into her eyes and felt himself go numb. She was beautiful. "Do you think maybe you might, I don't know, want to go get some pizza with me next Friday? Maybe see a movie? You can choose."
Looking deep into Beast Boy's emerald eyes she gently probed his emotions. She tasted the salt of his apprehension mixed with something sweet, as a gentle warming sensation spread over her chest, far stronger than it had ever been before. Inwardly she smiled. It was a feeling so very familiar. She thought of her conversation with Cyborg. 'Just give him a chance.'
"Sure. That sounds fun. And you can pick the movie if you want."
He could hardly believe his pointed ears. He felt his whole body tingle with excitement and could already feel the proverbial weight lifting off his shoulders. "Grea-Great!" he babbled, almost shouting. "Ah-Bah- how about Wicked Scary 2: The Scarening?"
She smiled at him, her own small, almost invisible Raven smile. "It's a date."
After she'd gone and he was once again alone, still sitting he reached under the mattress of his bed and gripped the item he had quickly stashed there when he heard her come in. There had probably been no need to hide it, but he'd be lying if he said he still wasn't worried about looking weird in front of her. With his sketchpad once again in his hands he flipped through the pages until he came upon the piece he'd been working on before she'd arrived. The piece that was nearly finished. Running his fingers over the page he studied the picture before him. With little else to do in bed, all his time and energy had gone into it. Certainly it had its flaws, but that failed to bother him anymore.
Smiling at the drawing, the man in the drawing smiled back at him. Beast Boy in full color, reflecting Beast Boy in black and white. A self portrait capturing him, the way he was at this exact moment. Beast Boy as Beast Boy.
Konstantin Stanislavsky, the inventor of Method Acting, taught his students to "live their parts." He also presumably was the one who coined the phrase "There are no small roles, just small actors." Everyone has their place, their role. But whatever that is, can only be what you make of it. Become your role and make it something special. From that day on Beast Boy knew there was only one person he wanted to be.
Cue the rest of his life.
Several years later.
What he felt wasn't nerves. Not exactly. But still, it wasn't like he ever fully stopped concerning himself with what his wife thought of him. As she lay against his chest in their king sized bed, reading her book, he stroked her long violet hair, took a deep breath and asked the question he'd been wanting to ask for a long time.
"Hey Rave," he said.
"Hmm?" she droned, half paying attention.
"Do you remember that guy, what's-his-name?"
"You know. That friend of yours. I met him on that day where you first took me to the mystic marketplace and we had that big fight. The guy with the long white hair."
"Yeah, that's him. I was wondering. At the time I figured he was the kind of guy you'd really go for. And if everything hadn't happened, if I never asked you out, do you think you'd have, I don't know, ended up with him?"
"You're asking me this now?"
"It's just something I've been wondering. If I wasn't in the picture would you have ended up with him instead?"
She was quiet for a moment as she thought. Finally she shook her head. "No, I don't think so."
A great relief washed over him.
"Besides," she continued. "I doubt I could have wrestled him away from his husband."
The thing that is really hard, and really amazing is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming youself. - Anna Quindlen
A/N: And thus we reach the end of another fanfic. I hope you all enjoyed and more importantly I hope this piece, at least in a small way, meant something to you.
Thanks to everyone for reading and thank you for all the kind words.