As Beast Boy stared down at the rodent-cage-esque littering of newspaper cuttings on his floor, only one thought came forth in his mind.
This is so stupid.
Of course, that was what everyone else thought too, it seemed. His eyes flicked over the crumpled up paper in his hand, remembering the words without seeing them.
The first message had been calm. Told him to get it together and get back to base. Raven.
The second was a bit more understanding, but urged him back nonetheless. Messing with time like this could do weird stuff to the future. Beast Boy remembered Cyborg's love for Time and Space tech, and could even detect a hint of enthusiasm in the man's messages.
Of course, the ones that followed got more frantic. There was no way for him to reply- how did they know he wasn't dead? The only person who seemed to support him, oddly, was Starfire.
Starfire had been the only one that he had ever really been able to talk to, absent-minded as she tended to be. She understood far more than she let on when it came to time travel, and more than that when it came to people. Starfire knew what Beast Boy was risking, but she also knew why sitting by and letting everything happen was not an option for him either.
Beast Boy thought of her – of all of them – and ached. He felt more out of his depth in this time than he'd ever imagined…
Besides… He wasn't even sure if the wormhole would work both ways.
Frustrated, Beast Boy exhaled through his nose and checked his watch, mentally translating the Earth hours into his orbital body clock.
If he was stuck here, then he was stuck here.
He could get used to it. He could get used to living anywhere, especially seeing as his power hadn't been affected. As far as he could tell, he was way in the lead. They might not even get caught.
Well, okay. That was unlikely, but would definitely be a huge bonus nonetheless.
Beast Boy stood and the dusty floorboards beneath him creaked as he stretched out his stiff legs.
One message stuck out in his mind, a megaphone against the whispering voices of his concerned teammates.
You're going to get yourself killed. Terra would never just get caught. There's more going on than you can see and you know it.
Yes, he knew it. He also knew that Robin was just concerned, but it still annoyed Beast Boy that years of proving himself had done nothing to change what others saw. More than anything, Robin had inadvertently motivated Beast Boy more than ever.
Unfortunately for him, this motivation quickly changed to despair as he approached Ben's later that evening.
It had been a few days since he'd last seen her – he assured himself it wasn't chickening out if your true intention was to not appear too "available" – and once again he felt himself begin to freak out over details.
Their parting a few days before left Beast Boy with mixed feelings.
On the one hand, he was thrilled at having finally kissed her. Twice. Sort of. He supposed the forehead did count, seeing as he'd never kissed her there either.
On the other, it raised so many more questions than the ones it had answered. She had initiated it, so he wasn't particularly confused on the "does this mean she likes me?" side of things. He had recognised the look in her eyes – the one look in the entire universe that made him feel like he had swallowed his own tongue – right before she leaned up to him, so it definitely hadn't been the first time she had wanted to do such a thing.
So why hadn't she?
Robin's words came to him again.
There's more going on than you can see.
Should he carry on with his mission? Should he make her remember, when it was clearer now more than it ever had been that there was something going on with Terra, something she couldn't remember anymore?
"Earth to Double-B; you in there?"
Beast Boy jumped and gave an embarrassing yelp of surprise.
He needed to stop daydreaming.
Oh well. At least he had managed to get into the diner this time, he conceded mentally as he looked up at Terra's quizzical expression.
Oh. He'd fallen off of his chair.
Beast Boy climbed back onto the bar stool and shot Terra a sheepish grin. She laughed for a second, before stopping and looking away, cheeks reddening slightly.
There was a long, awkward pause, during which Beast Boy's foot wouldn't stop twitching. Something in the room – whether it was the glare of light reflecting into his eyes from the sink or the annoying crackle of the old, tinny jukebox in the corner – was really getting on his nerves.
Terra cleared her throat and made eye contact again.
She looked so determined. It really was endearing…
"Look, about the other night…" she started slowly
What? What about the other night? Oh god please don't take that away from me too
"Yeah?" Beast Boy asked, mainly to urge her on.
"It was just… It was stupid" she continued, wringing her hands.
No, it wasn't.
"I don't know what I was thinking,"
Neither do I, but that doesn't make it a bad thing…
"Maybe it would be better if we just… forgot it happened."
"Uh, s-sure…" Beast Boy murmured, slightly downcast.
"You are like… the most fun I have had in a while!" Terra insisted upon seeing his hesitation, "and it's not that I want to stop hanging out or anything, I just don't want to be the kind of friends that… well…" she seemed to search for the right word, her mouth opening and closing.
"Kiss…?" he finished for her.
"Exactly!" Terra grinned widely and clicked her fingers as she said it, "You understand!"
Beast Boy chuckled humourlessly. "Yeah."
"I'll go get you that veggie burger now," she said, and reached over to ruffle his hair. He hadn't ordered anything, but flashed her a thumbs-up anyway, glad for the chance to rearrange his facial expression.
Way to go, Gar… he thought bitterly. Now what?
Now what? Indeed.
"What's that one?" Terra asked, pointing up into the sky.
"The Plough," Beast Boy informed, only half paying attention. He looked over to Terra in time to see her mouth 'Plough' to herself and start looking around for another constellation.
"Did they not teach you anything at school? That's Taurus."
Terra stuck her tongue out at him, and the grass rustled underneath her as she moved her arms to fold them across her chest.
"I know Orion." She replied defensively, and Beast Boy snickered.
"There are five year olds who know where Orion is, Terra."
Terra huffed beside him and her arm brushed his briefly.
Beast Boy's heart jolted.
He turned his head toward her in time to see her do the same.
He was frozen in place and was suddenly hyper aware of everything – the smell of night dew, the tickle of the grass at the base of his neck, the flush on his cheeks – and cleared his throat. All at once, it was awkward again, and Terra shifted, moving to sit upright.
"I should get going," she murmured, and from where he was lying he couldn't see the expression on her face. After his lack of reply, she started to get up.
Beast Boy put a hand on her shoulder; not forceful, but enough to make her pause.
"Stay," he said softly.
"That kiss meant something to you," he accused lowly, and felt her shoulder tense in his hand, "Stop run—"
"I told you to forget about it," she growled, cutting him off. She shrugged his hand away and stood quickly.
Beast Boy's hands clenched into fists.
"What if I don't want to?" he retorted. At this, Terra whirled around. Her cheeks were flushed with anger, and bits of grass were stuck in her hair and on her clothes, and Beast Boy suddenly thought her beautiful.
"What is your PROBLEM?" ("MY problem?" Beast Boy exclaimed, but she ignored him and carried on,) "I said I just wanted to be friends and hang out and you were fine with it!"
"You think I was fine with that?" Beast Boy was standing now too, and he threw his arms out, "Terra, do you know how long I've wanted to kiss you?"
"Just—STOP IT!" she screeched, hands also fisted but shaking at her sides, "Stop acting like you know me; you know NOTHING about me!"
"I know EVERYTHING about you!" Beast Boy snarled, frustrated beyond normal limits.
Terra flinched as if struck, and Beast Boy fought hard to curb the rest of his outburst.
"You…" Terra started, after a moment of agonised tension, "You what?"
A cold, heavy weight ballooned in Beast Boy's insides.
She was afraid.
Terra was afraid of him, and he couldn't explain it all to her. Not like this.
At his silence (and, presumably, his guilty expression), Terra started backing away.
"Terra," he said, cautiously, and she turned and started to sprint away.
Beast Boy gave chase, calling after her.
"It's not what it sounds like!"
Terra disappeared into the trees that edged the meadow they had been lounging in and Beast Boy cursed. He had forgotten how quick she was. He paused, and the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end.
Senses wired, he stood stock still and surveyed his surroundings.
Something was setting off alarm bells in his head.
For a minute, he could hear nothing but the rustle of leaves in the light breeze and the insects in the undergrowth. He felt clammy under his hoodie, and his heart hammered in his chest.
He had been getting better at resisting the urge to transform, but the insistence in his head was pressing, and distracted him so much that he almost didn't hear the scream that sounded from somewhere on his right.
Urge suppressed, he took off toward the source of the sound. It was dark under the canopy of the trees, but his eyesight was better than most. Just like he could apply his human knowledge as an animal, he could apply his animal knowledge as a human, and as such he successfully dodged every obstacle with lightning fast reflex.
Without even a slight pause, he carried on running upon finding Terra and tackled her aggressor at full speed, and even though the man was a full head taller than Beast Boy, he was bowled severely off-course and into a tall shrub.
Beast Boy, not thrown off by surprise, had enough time to turn and order Terra to stay put before his opponent recovered. He didn't know if there were others out there, poised to strike after the first, and wouldn't take any chances. His stomach twisted - it was bad that she was being watched and followed, but he had thought that they would give up if she left the city limits. Well, he had hoped.
At least he knew for definite now.
A thick hand closed around Beast Boy's wrist and yanked him backwards. He lost his footing on a tree root and fell heavily to the forest floor, getting thoroughly winded in the process.
Beast Boy rolled to avoid the other fist as it was swung down toward him in an arc, aiming a kick for the enemy's groin. It connected, and was painful enough that Beast Boy's arm was released but not nearly as incapacitating as he had hoped it would be.
He scrambled around to where Terra was standing and stood in front of her in a protective stance. There was a moment spare that he used to fish around in his back pocket, before his opponent lunged again.
Beast Boy dodged nimbly and slammed into the other man's side, effectively using the other's weight against him. There was a thud as he fell to the floor and, before he could get up, Beast Boy struck him in the temple and he was knocked out cold.
After a moment, Beast Boy leaned down and pressed his forefingers to the attacker's neck, counting the pulses. Satisfied, he straightened up and started to hurriedly take his hoodie off.
"Wear this," he said to Terra, not looking at her but instead working hard to try and detect any other unwanted surprises, "hood up."
When she failed to do so, Beast Boy growled wordlessly and turned to look at her.
"I'm not a crazy stalker, so put the damn hoodie on already!" he hissed. Terra eyed him suspiciously.
"If you're not a crazy stalker then how come you 'know everything about me'?" she retorted, folding her arms.
"You remember that first week in August when I asked you to just … trust me?" he groaned in exasperation and thrust the hoodie at Terra again. Her eyes widened a fraction and she reached up for the garment, taking it from him slowly.
"I… knew you before?" she asked, tentatively, and Beast Boy felt that jolt again. He didn't answer, but thrust the hoodie at her another time. She huffed and snatched it, muttering 'Fine!' under her breath before yanking it over her head.
"I will explain," He conceded, "but not here and not now. And not at your place either. You're staying with me."
She looked prepared to argue, but closed her mouth after Beast Boy shot her a warning stare. They really had to get going, and they didn't have time for her to get on her high horse.
Beast Boy offered her his hand.