Disclaimer: I don't own any rights to the Teen Titans or any characters in the DC Universe.
I know, I'm a liar. I already started a new story, when I said I was going to take a break.
But I will go slower this time. Will probably only update on weekends.
It was already late in the morning and a beam of sunlight escaped between the drawn curtains, highlighting the dust that was floating in the air, as the specks performed their aerial ballet. The air in the room was stuffy and the digital alarm clock's LED display showed that it was almost 10 in the morning. The room was quiet, as was the entire tower.
The Titans had a late mission the night before and didn't get back until well past 2:00 AM, after a wild goose chase that involved Dr. Light and the not so Great Mumbo. It had been an irritating mission for the team as the villains eluded capture for over three hours. The Titans had gone into the mission overconfident, expecting to easily defeat the two lightweights and had been caught off guard.
Beast Boy slowly stirred awake as the stray beam of sunlight fell on his face. Under normal circumstances he would have just rolled over and gone back to sleep, especially since he had only 7 hours of sleep on his meter, which for him was a major sleep deficit. But for some reason he felt restless this morning, which surprised him. He wondered about this as he slowly got up. He usually only slept poorly after a mission where things didn't go his way, like when he made mistakes or just plain screwed up.
But last night had been his night to shine. Mumbo and Dr. Light had collaborated on their cavalcade of mischief, working to divide the Titans to make them less effective. Robin had to divide the team and sent Raven, Starfire and Beast Boy to deal with Mumbo while he and Cyborg gave chase to Dr. Light.
After playing cat and mouse for almost 3 hours they finally cornered Mumbo in financial district, where he was robbing a jewelry store. Raven took charge of her group and led them in a direct attack against the blue trickster, determined to not let him escape again.
"Let's make this quick." She deadpanned. "If there's anything I can't stand, it's a fraud."
Mumbo laughed as he waved his wand.
"Now, now Raven. Would you have called the Great Houdini a fraud?" Mumbo taunted her as he used his arsenal of parlor tricks to fend off her dark energy attacks. He then counterattacked and Raven was enveloped in a cloud of smoke and began to cough. When it cleared she was trapped in a straightjacket and was gagged. After squirming for a few moments she broke free as a burst of dark energy inflated like a balloon, shredding the flimsy trap.
"Is that the best you can do?" She challenged him as Starfire began to pelt him with her star bolts while Beast Boy helped Raven out of the tattered remains of the straight jacket.
"I hate this clown." Beast Boy moaned. "He never gives up easily."
"We just need to take away his wand." She hissed. "I'll take him head on and when he's distracted you snatch it from him."
Mumbo threw a handful of streamers at Starfire, which expanded and wrapped themselves around her, covering her from head to toe. She fell to the ground squealing and squirming, unable to free herself. Raven lunged at the magician who twirled his wand and shouted his signature magic phrase.
Raven felt a strange sensation come over her as he began to tumble in the air. She then felt trapped in another straight jacket and fell into some liquid. When the smoke had once again cleared she saw that she was hanging upside down inside a glass walled box, submerged in water. At first she rolled her eyes but then her expression quickly changed to one of panic.
My powers! They're gone!
Mumbo laughed hysterically. "What's the matter Raven? The Great Houdini was able to escape from the water trap without any powers! Can't you?"
As he laughed even louder Beast Boy swooped down from the sky in the form of a silent owl and snatched the wand out of Mumbo's hand. He reverted to his human form and snapped it in half. Mumbo's blue persona vanished and he resumed his regular middle aged human form.
"Fun times over Mumbo, let Raven out of the box!" He ordered the magician.
"The box is sealed." the old man whimpered. "You have to get her out on your own."
It was clear from the expression on Raven's face that she was terrified at the prospect of drowning. Beast Boy morphed into a gorilla and began to pound on the box's walls, which resisted his assault. He morphed back into his human form, rubbing his sore fists and confronted Mumbo.
"What is this made out of? I can't break the glass!"
"It's a new polymer, highly flexible and strong. Raven can't escape." Mumbo replied.
"Are you nuts? And why can't Raven get herself out?" Beast Boy howled in frustration as Starfire finally broke free of her bonds.
"Her powers have been temporarily disabled, a little trick I borrowed from the Ding Dong Daddy." Mumbo replied. "They'll be back in 30 minutes."
"She'll be dead in 30 minutes!" Beast Boy howled. "Star! Can you get her out?"
"I shall try!" she replied as Raven was beginning to freak out. The Tamaranian pummeled the box with her fists but it held up.
"We just need a hole to drain the water!" Beast Boy shouted. Starfire nodded and used her eye beams but they merely bounced off the transparent polymer.
Beast Boy grabbed Mumbo by the lapels on his suit.
"Get her out of there. Now!"
"Friend Beast Boy, hurry!"
Beast Boy turned around and saw Raven's unconscious form in the tank. She was beginning to drown.
"NOOOO!" He screamed and then began to convulse as his body began to transform. Mumbo huddled in fear as Beast Boy quickly grew into the Beast, who upon the completion of his transformation grabbed Mumbo with one of his huge clawed hands and threatened to bite his head off.
"Beast Boy!" Starfire shouted. "We must save Raven first!" She begged him.
The Beast turned in Starfire's direction and saw Raven's unconscious form, still dangling in the watery coffin. In a fit of disgust he slammed Mumbo into a wall, knocking him out cold. He leaped high into the air, landing next to the water trap which he struck at from the top repeatedly with his mighty arms as Starfire pummeled the box with her star bolts. At first there was no progress and they continued to pound the box.
"Beast Boy, we're running out of time!" Starfire screamed as she began to panic, pummeling the box with her star bolts, still unsuccessful.
The Beast roared and slammed his right fist into one of the side panels, which finally shattered. He quickly removed Raven's limp body from the box, raising it high like a prize as he let out a deafening triumphant roar.
"Beast Boy! Raven needs the CPR, hurry!"
The Beast roared a second time before gently placing Raven on the ground. Then in a flash Beast Boy shrunk back into his human form, his clothes tattered and he knelt down next to his teammate, placing his no longer gloved hand on her neck.
"She still has a pulse!"
"But she isn't breathing! Please Beast Boy, make haste with the CPR."
Beast Boy silently thanked whoever was listening that he had taken the CPR refresher course just a few weeks ago. He cradled Ravens neck and pinched her nose as he began to blow air into her lungs and after just a few attempts Raven began to cough and rolled over, ejecting copious amounts of water from her lungs.
"Thank X'hal!" Starfire sobbed as she hugged Beast Boy while Raven continued to wretch and cough. Starfire helped her to sit up as she opened her eyes.
"How do you feel Raven?" Beast Boy asked.
"Like shit." She croaked. "Thank's for saving me. Oh Azar, I was so scared."
"So were we!" Beast Boy replied as he rubbed his hand, which still hurt from shattering the supposedly unbreakable polymer panel.
"Take her back to the Tower Star; I'll wait here for the police to arrive."
Starfire giggled. "Maybe it would be best if I waited for the police, friend Beast Boy."
Raven managed to chuckle in her disheveled state.
"Because we can see your butt." She snickered as she stood up, removed her still wet cape and wrapped it around the changeling. "What happened to your clothes?"
"The Beast showed up." He whispered.
"And he broke the box open and saved you!" Starfire added enthusiastically.
Raven shivered, as she was still wet and cold. "Thanks for saving me, again."
"Hey no problem." He replied. "Can we go now? I'm starting to feel a draft."
Beast Boy rested in his lower bunk, staring at the stray beam of sunlight while recounting last night's events. He was still surprised that he had turned into the Beast, as he had not summoned his alter ego into existence. What surprised him even more was that this time he remembered everything when he was the Beast. And not just as a passenger. He had been in control the whole time and yet he wasn't quite himself.
This time being the Beast wasn't the scary experience it had been in the past; in fact he had actually enjoyed being the Beast. The primal power and emotions were thrilling, and he recalled Mumbo's petrified face. The loser had actually wet himself from fear. But what disconcerted Beast Boy was how the transformation was different from when he morphed into other creatures. He didn't morph into the Beast, he realized. Rather, he became the Beast. When he morphed into an animal he was still Beast Boy, still Garfield Logan. A man in an animal's body. But not when he became the Beast. His mind transformed just as his body did. Yesterday's transformation had been different, because he was fully aware of whom he was this time. Sort of. It was confusing to say the least.
He still felt uneasy about the transformation. It still felt like a Jekyll and Hyde experience, and he wondered if he really was in control of his Mr. Hyde. In a way he resented that he had to become the Beast to save Raven the night before. He closed his eyes, recalling Raven's motionless body floating in the tank, devoid of life. He had never been that scared, not even when Terra threatened to kill him.
He shook his head, trying to scatter the frightful memory when he felt his stomach rumble. He leaped out of his bunk and prepared to head to the kitchen, hoping that a maybe a good breakfast would change the way he was feeling. He fished through his clean laundry basket for a change of clothes and slipped them on before heading out the door, still feeling troubled about what had happened the night before. As he reached the common room he punched the open button on double door's control panel.
As he walked in he saw that everyone was already in the common room. Starfire was the first to see him.
"Greetings, hero friend Beast Boy!"
"Hello to you, hero friend Starfire!" he cheered back to her, as Robin glanced up.
"Well done Beast Boy. You really outdid yourself last night!" The Boy Wonder congratulated him.
"Awe, it was nothing." He replied modestly as he made his way to the kitchen.
"Yeah right grass stain!" The tin man teased him. "Get your butt over here so Raven can give you a thank you kiss." Raven was sitting next to Cyborg, reading a book. She offered no acknowledgement that she had heard his incendiary remark.
"Very funny Cy." Beast Boy mumbled as he opened the fridge, which was laden with raw steaks for that night's dinner. He found the smell of the fresh, raw meat to be strangely alluring. He pushed the meat aside and pulled out his carton of soymilk which had been wedged behind the pile of raw, bloody beef. He knew Cyborg had done that on purpose to annoy him and wondered why it didn't bother him this time. He dismissed the thought as he grabbed a spoon, a bowl and a box of cereal, and headed for the circular couch.
"Hey Raven, how're you feeling?" He asked her as he sat down, placing his breakfast on the coffee table.
Without looking up from her book she answered in her signature deadpan. "I'm fine. And while I won't kiss you, thanks again for saving me."
"Don't mention it. You mind if I watch a nature show on TV?"
"Not at all, since it's educational. Just keep the volume down and it won't interfere with my reading."
"You got it." He replied as he turned on the TV. After flipping through the channels with the remote he found the nature channel. It was a documentary about wolves, which he began to watch while he munched on his cold cereal.
The program was chronicling the life of a wolf pack in northern Canada. At first it explored the social interactions between the members of the pack, which Beast Boy found fascinating. He rarely had interaction with other animals when he was morphed and was captivated with all of the social mores and protocols that were the building blocks of the pack's social structure. Raven noticed this, put down her book, and began watching the documentary with him, and to tell the truth she was also watching him as he watched the documentary, as she had never seen him so immersed with a TV program.
Soon the documentary switched to covering how the pack hunted, and culminated with a hunt filmed from a helicopter. It showed the pack chasing down a stray caribou calf across the tundra. Raven knew from past experience that Beast Boy didn't like watching hunt scenes, but this time he remained captivated and watched the pack slowly chase down its doomed prey and was mesmerized as the calf was taken down by the pack and met its violent end.
"Beast Boy. Are you OK?" she asked in a worried tone.
The changeling jolted, realizing what had just happened.
"Yeah, sure." He replied. "It must be some leftover hormones from yesterday, I guess."
He stood up nervously. "I'll be in my room."
Raven gave him a strange look.
"Are you wearing one of your old costumes?"
"What? No. I threw them away, they were too small. Why?"
Raven stood up and walked up to the changeling.
"You've grown. You're taller than me now!"
Beast Boy noticed that his pants were now too short and had become puddle jumpers.
"I don't get it. They fit when I put them on."
Cyborg also noticed that the boy had suddenly grown, "Let's go to the infirmary Green Bean. I want to run some tests."
Cyborg frowned as he waited for the results of the blood work on the analysis computer. The infirmary was as quiet as a graveyard even though all 5 Titans were present. Robin paced around, glancing periodically at the console, as if that would expedite the analysis. Starfire sat with Beast Boy, her friendly arm draped around his shoulders while Raven skulked in the darkest corner in the infirmart, her gaze focused on the changeling.
The silence was finally broken by the sound of the laser printer warming up and printing the test results. Cyborg picked up the multi-sheet printout and worked his way through it, grunting as he read it. Once he was done he dropped it on the workstation desk.
"Did you find anything Cy?" Beast Boy asked.
Cyborg shook his head. "Nothing. Everything looks normal."
"So what's happening to me? Why did I grow 4 inches while eating breakfast?"
"I don't know man. Maybe this is normal for you. Is there anything else unusual that happened?"
"I dunno." The changeling replied, as Raven stepped out of the shadows.
"Tell us about the wolves." She deadpanned.
"What are you talking about?" Robin interjected.
Beast Boy and Raven's eyes locked with each other, until he turned away and nodded.
"I was watching a nature show about wolves."
"Yeah, we noticed that." Robin commented. "So what happened?"
Beast Boy looked nervous, but carried on.
"There was a hunting scene. I never watch the hunting scenes."
"But this time you did. Didn't you?" Starfire added.
"Why?" Cyborg asked.
"I'm not sure, but for a moment I felt like I was a member of the pack and had a stake in the kill."
Cyborg shrugged, grasping at straws. "Maybe this is some kind of maturity thing."
"Well, just let us know if anything else pops up, OK?" Robin replied. "And order yourself some new costumes, expedited. We can't have you fighting bad guys in those puddle jumpers." The boy wonder grinned.
Beast Boy extended one of his legs and laughed after looking at his woefully short pant legs.
"Thanks guys. I'll be in my room."
As the Titans left the infirmary Raven approached Beast Boy, placing a hand on his arm.
"I'll swing by with my sewing kit. Maybe I can let out the hems on your pants so you have something to wear until your new costumes are ready."
Beast Boy smiled at the sorceress. "Thanks Raven, I'll clean up my room first. 'K?"
"That would be a good idea. I'll be there in an hour."
Beast Boy surveyed his room as he wound the power cord back on the vacuum cleaner and felt moderately pleased with the results. The beds were made, the trash had been tossed down the garbage chute, his clean clothes were put away and the dirty clothes were in the hamper. He was about to clear his desk when Raven arrived.
She walked in carrying a portable sewing machine and small wooden box that folded open like a fishing tackle box, full of small compartments.
"Wow, that's some sewing kit. I figured you'd just show up with a needle and a spool of thread."
Raven sat down on his lower bunk and picked up the first pair of pants from a pile he had stacked on his bed. She turned them inside out and examined them.
"You're in luck, there's some material to work with here." She said as she grabbed a small pair of scissors from her kit and started cutting the hem stitches. "I'll need a place to set up my sewing machine."
Beast Boy began to clear his desktop, throwing most of the loose papers into his dust bin.
"So tell me about the wolves." She asked without looking up.
"Will you tell the others?"
She paused before answering. "Not without your permission."
The changeling stared at his feet before answering.
"I guess there's no hiding anything from you, right?"
She nodded. "I felt some unusual emotions coming out of you when you watched the wolves kill the calf."
He stared at the floor, unwilling to meet her gaze. "Believe or not, I was rooting for the wolves."
Raven picked up the second pair of trousers and continued cutting the hem stitches.
"I don't get it Raven; it was like I was feeling the blood lust. And the raw meat in the fridge, it smelled good."
Raven put down the pants and closed her eyes, pondering what he had just said.
"Cyborg couldn't find anything different about you, at least not physically."
"So it's all in my head? But I grew more than 4 inches in just a few minutes!"
"Changing size and mass has never been an issue for you. Maybe your subconscious mind tapped into your powers and you grew?"
He pondered her plausible explanation. "I'm still freaked out."
"I thought you hated being the shortest member of the team. That honor belongs to me now."
He shook his head, clearly troubled. "Why am I such a wimp Raven?"
"What do you mean? I've never thought of you as a wimp. Maybe nervous and a bit jumpy, but not a wimp."
"I scare so easily Raven. When you were stuck in that tank, I thought you were gonna die and there was nothing I could do to save you. When I saw you floating unconscious, I thought I had lost you, forever." He began to sniffle.
"But you did save me. You always do."
He wiped away his tears. "And I'm crybaby too."
"You're not a coward Beast Boy. Far from it. In fact, I think you're the bravest of the Titans."
Raven continued undoing his hems.
"Remember when Terra was going to impale you with that rock?"
"How could I forget? I almost crapped in my pants."
"But you didn't. And you rose to the occasion and helped Terra remember who she really was. I never told you, but I was very proud of you that day. Most people would have begged for their lives. Instead you helped her remember that she had a life of her own, that Slade didn't own her."
He smiled sheepishly. "I guess you're right."
Raven picked up the pile of unhemmed pants and the sewing machine, walked over to his desk and began to set it up.
"Of course I am. And you weren't the only one who almost soiled his pants that day." She confessed as she began to sew new hems on his trousers.
"You? I remember you looked angry, not scared."
"I didn't do scared back then, remember?" She held up the first finished pair up to him. "They're still a little short, but not as bad as before."
Beast Boy walked back to his bunk and sat down on it. "What about the meat?"
"Does it appeal to you?"
"Yeah, but it goes against everything I believe in Raven!"
"I know, but maybe you need to come to terms with your desires, even if you don't give in to them."
"But why am I craving meat Raven? What's happening to me?"
Raven didn't answer him while she continued sewing the rest of the hems and was soon done. It wasn't until she started packing her sewing machine away that she answered him.
"Maybe nothing is happening and it's just your subconscious dealing with your last encounter with the Beast."
Beast Boy leaped off his bed. "It wasn't an encounter Raven, this time I was the Beast. I was fully aware and even in control. Why was it different this time?"
"Maybe it wasn't different. The Beast is part of you Garfield, just as Rage is part of me. I wouldn't worry about it, especially since you seem to have the Beast under control."
She handed the adjusted trousers to him.
"I need to leave. I have to meditate before lunchtime."
She picked up her sewing machine and kit before heading for the door.
"Raven." He called out. "Thanks for fixing my pants."
The sorceress stopped and turned around. After a brief pause she walked up to Beast Boy and gave him a quick peck on the cheek.
"Dude! What was that for?"
"For saving my life. And if you tell anyone, I'll kill you."
Beast Boy grinned. "My lips are sealed."
After changing into a longer pair of trousers Beast Boy ran outside to sit by the shoreline. He found himself at the rock where he and Raven had talked about the first time he became the Beast. The rhythmic sound of the waves lapping against the rocks below failed to soothe his agitated nerves. As he paced around he came upon a tide pool in the rocks and watched a small crab scurry along the bottom until it was underneath his reflection. He stared critically at his own face, unhappy with what he saw.
Who am I? What am I?
Beast Boy was feeling scared. He wasn't buying into Raven's conjecture that it was all in his head and the implication that in a few days it would blow over and just be a memory. He would like that to be true, but in his heart he didn't believe it.
He looked out over the ocean, feeling its vastness. He heard seagulls flying nearby and saw fish swimming in the clear waters of the bay. Everyone had their place in the grand circle of life, but his own place eluded him. He was a changeling who could take the form of any animal, but without actually becoming one of them. He had never shared in their instincts or their rituals. He saw a seal swim nearby. He had been a seal before, but had he really been a seal? He had never eaten a fish or mated with a female seal (or any female for that matter). Was it even possible for him to permanently become a seal, or any other animal? There was only one way to find out.
His communicator trilled and snapped him back to reality. He flipped it opened it and saw Starfire's happy face on the screen.
"Friend! It is now the lunchtime. Will you be joining us?"
"I'm on my way Star!" He beamed back at the Princess.
He morphed into a green seagull and flew up to the common room. He always loved the free feeling he enjoyed when morphed into an avian. Surfing the thermals using nothing more than his own body was an experience none of others knew, not even Raven or Starfire who used other methods to achieve flight. Flying always put him in a good mood and he was feeling happy as he landed in the common room. That is until he morphed back into his human form and smelled what was on the menu.
Cyborg was in the kitchen, donning a chef's hat as he often did, standing in front of the new indoor gas grill he had installed in the kitchen. He was grilling burgers right in the kitchen, a task he used to perform on the rooftop. The common room was permeated with the aroma of freshly cooked ground beef patties.
"So BB, ready for some all beef goodness?" the bionic boy taunted his friend. "They're almost ready!"
"Would you please not do that Cyborg?" Raven deadpanned. "You know very well he wants a veggie burger."
"I'm just yanking his chain Raven." Cyborg replied apologetically. "So, how many burgers do you want?"
"Just one, as always." She replied as read her book. "With fries and an orange soda."
"One Raven deluxe coming right up."
Beast Boy shouted "I'll have two veggie burgers, Cy."
"I know, you always do. They're ready, come and get them."
Beast Boy retrieved the food and returned to the table with his plate and Raven's, setting them and two cans of soda on the table.
"Thanks Beast Boy." The sorceress closed her book and began to condiment her burger. Beast Boy watched her decorate her beef patty out of the corner of his eye before doing the same with his veggie burgers.
"Are you OK?" she whispered.
"I'll live." He replied, shoving his sandwich into his mouth. He found the veggie burger to be oddly unsatisfying.
"Good. We have an appointment with the District Attorney. He wants to charge Mumbo with attempted murder."
"Whoa. If they convict him he would be gone for a long time."
Raven nodded. "At least 20 years in a maximum security prison."
Beast Boy dropped his half eaten soy burger on his plate.
"I don't get it Raven. He's just a clown who does parlor tricks to rob banks. Even when he trapped us that time in his hat it wasn't real, it was just an illusion."
Raven shrugged. "I don't know. I just don't ever want to see him again. He can rot in jail for all I care."
"Don't worry Raven. No one will ever hurt you again. And that's a promise."
"That's very chivalrous of you Beast Boy. But it's a promise you might not be able to keep."
"Maybe, but I'll still try." He said while eyeing Raven's unfinished burger.
"You want my burger, don't you?" she whispered.
He closed his eyes. "I do." His voice trembled. "It's gross, and yet I crave it."
"I can move."
"No, don't, I have to be able to deal with this. I can't run away from it."
In an act that was that uncharacteristic for her, Raven shoved the entire remnant of her burger into her mouth, quickly chewed it up and swallowed it. Beast Boy threw away the remainder of his meal.
"I'm ready. Let's go see the District Attorney." He said as the trash can lid slammed shut.