Author's note: This idea for a fanfic had been floating around in my head for a while, so I was glad I finally found the time to turn that idea into a story. I was inspired to write this story after reading Beast Boy's bio and learning that he uses humor as a defense mechanism to hide his inner pain. I took that piece of info and decided to expand on it. The whole story is told in first person from Beast Boy's point of view. Hope you all enjoy it!
Why I Laugh
I sat there watching the family of three as they cruised through the ocean waters in their boat. I mean, I wasn't really there; it was more like I was watching a movie of the family. The two parents were laughing as their son told them jokes he had memorized from the Sunday comics; they were aware of this, but treated the jokes as if they were the kid's original creations. The kid wore a pair of khaki shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, along with some flip flops and a visor. However, all that clothing couldn't hide the fact that he had green skin.
"Everything's going fine so far," I commentated. I turned to the right and saw there was a big cruise ship up ahead. They were still a good distance away from it, and they had plenty of time to avoid it. I turned my attention back to the kid, who was really going all out with his joke telling. He was jumping around, making faces, changing his voice, and doing all he could to bring the comic strip to life. I couldn't help but smile and laugh along with them; the kid was trying so hard.
I turned back to the right, and realized they were starting to get uncomfortably close to the ship. Why hadn't they changed course yet? Didn't they see they were heading straight for it? I got my answer as I turned back to the boat; both parents were too focused on their son to notice the cruise ship in front of them.
"Stop it," I said, raising my voice. "Can't you see you're distracting them? Cut it out!" I knew these people couldn't hear my cries, but that didn't matter to me. I felt like if I screamed loud enough, the father would eventually turn around and steer clear of the looming obstacle.
"Turn around!" I was now standing up and pointing to the ship. "You're gonna crash into that ship if you don't turn around." I started to take a step forward but found that my feet were embedded in the floor. I felt my arms getting pulled back, and felt a surface push up against me from behind. I looked around and realized I was now chained to the wall and unable to move. I couldn't go help the family, but even worse, I had to stay and watch.
Finally, the mother noticed they were quickly approaching the ship and alerted the father. Why hadn't they stopped yet? He should've been pounding on the break as hard as possible. Then I realized he was, but the brake wasn't working. "Daddy, do something!" the panicked boy shouted at his father.
This last comment drove me mad; that boy had the ability to save them all. He should be the one doing something. "Use your powers!" I shouted as loud as I could. "Change into a bird and fly them out of there. Do something!" But the kid sat there terrified, too scared to think of anything but the impending crash.
As a last option, the father turned the steering wheel hard to the right, just narrowly missing the bow of the ship. However, the relief was only momentary; I tried to shut my eyes for the next part but found they were being held open. The sharp turn had redirected the boat towards a group of sharp rocks, with barely a second for anyone to react. I screamed at the top of my lungs as the boat crashed full-speed into the rocks, killing all the passengers. All that remained was a green seagull awkwardly flapping its wings a few feet from where the remains of the boat lay.
I felt the chains binding me to the wall release as I collapsed to the floor, crying. "You fool, why didn't you save them? You had every opportunity to prevent it," I looked up and glared at the seagull, "but all you could think about was saving yourself!"
The floor I was weeping on gave way as I plunged into a dark abyss, watching as a plethora of familiar images sped past me: a witch doctor, a crumbling temple, a botched bank robbery. All the while this was happening the faces of the mother and father who had died in the boating accident were swirling around me, repeatedly chanting the same phrase: "Why didn't you save us, Gar?" The voices echoed in my brain continuously, bouncing around the confines of my mind like a pinball table. I couldn't take it anymore; I grabbed my head in pain and let out a hellacious cry.
My cry continued as I lunged forward in my bed, stopping as soon as I recognized the friendly surroundings of my bedroom. My breathing was still very heavy from my nightmare, and I could feel the sweat trickling down the back of my neck.
I looked over at the calendar and let out a wry chuckle; no wonder I had dreamt about the day my parents died. Today was a special day for me. Not special in the way that it celebrated anything, or was a memorial of a proud moment in my life. It was special because it was the one day of the year that I allowed myself to think about my life. Not about my present life as Beast Boy, a member of the Teen Titans, but my past life; the life of Garfield Logan.
I was glad to see I hadn't slept in too much; it was only half past ten. I immediately took advantage of my special day by running down the hall and jumping in the shower. This would allow me five or ten minutes to ponder my forbidden thoughts.
I felt my muscles relax as the warm water rained down upon me. The reason I chose this day is because it's the anniversary of the day everything changed; that day in Upper Lamumba, when I was bitten by a green monkey and came down with sakutia, a rare tropical disease that was believed only animals could survive. I was saved by my father, Professor Mark Logan, who treated me using an untested machine that he originally developed to isolate the common genetic bond shared between humans and animals. I'm not really sure what that all means; it's just something I faintly remember him saying to me.
Whatever it was, it worked; the only side effect was that it turned my skin green. Well, the only immediate side effect anyway; a few years later I would discover my ability to shape-shift, which has helped make me the Teen Titan I am today. It was probably good to get these happy memories out of the way first; after all, I was free to think about those any other day of the year. This day was reserved for those heart-aching, gut-wrenching, nightmare-inducing memories that I kept shoved in the back corners of my mind, only to be let out once every year.
I finished drying off and looked at myself in the mirror; hard to believe there was a point in my life when my skin wasn't green. Instead of throwing on my usual attire, I decided to go with a more casual look. I slipped on a pair of jeans and a red tee-shirt, and topped it off with a black ball cap.
Heading into the kitchen, I saw everyone was already up and about. I didn't want to delay my thoughts any longer, so I grabbed a banana from the counter and tried to get out as fast as I could.
"Beast Boy, you're up early," commented Robin as I was passing by. "Heading out already?"
I scratched my head, trying to think of something creative to say. I never told my teammates about this yearly event. If they knew, they'd try to help me with it, but that would just make me think about it more. "It's a beautiful day," I said, looking outside at the sunlight reflecting off the windows of the tower. "Just thought I'd head out to the park for some relaxation; you know, BB time."
He looked at me skeptically before shrugging his shoulders. "All right, just make sure-"
"Communicator; got it," I said, flashing my yellow communicator before running through the double doors.
. . . . .
I leaned back on the park bench and gazed up at the blue sky. It was a shame I had to cloud such a beautiful day with my gloomy thoughts, but I had wasted enough time already.
The image from my dream of my parents' boat crashing into the rocks flashed through my mind. I had never been able to shake off the guilt from their death; I mean, how could I not feel guilty when they died while I lived? That was just the tip of the iceberg for me.
After their death, I was taken in by the chief of the local tribe, who happened to be a close friend of my parents. Unfortunately the tribe's witch doctor had never cared for my parents too much. He hated them so much that he wanted to see me dead as well, and decided to hire two Americans to kill me in exchange for showing them a temple containing a fabulous treasure. I was brought to the temple by the witch doctor, but it collapsed on him before he could complete his deal. I would've been crushed as well if it wasn't for the two Americans who rescued me. They didn't do it for me, though.
They saw the value in my shape-shifting powers, and decided to bring me back to the states so they could force me into committing crimes. Luckily for me, these two didn't have a budding relationship, and ended up killing each other after our first bank heist. Then came the worst part of it all: Nicholas Galtry.
Galtry was an attorney for my parents' estate, and the courts decided to appoint him as my legal guardian; what the hell were they thinking? I hated the man with deep passion, and I had plenty of reason to. After the death of my parents I had been reported as "missing," and Galtry took the opportunity to embezzle funds from my inheritance. It scared the hell out of him to learn I was still alive, and he immediately sought to kill me in order to have all the wealth for himself.
I chuckled to myself; it was crazy how many times as a kid I had made an enemy out of someone without ever meeting them. It was unfair, but that's how things worked in this world. I had learned that the hard way after losing my parents in a preventable incident, being turned into a tool for robbing banks, having my inheritance stolen, and being forced to live with a man who was trying to kill me over said inheritance.
It had by no means been an easy life; there were times when I had debated ending it. There wasn't anyone I knew or was close to at the time, so I wouldn't have had to worry about hurting others with my departure. This was around the time when I was hypnotized into performing for a circus. As horrible as the experience was, it caught the attention of the Teen Titans and they came to rescue me. That was when a ray of sunlight finally penetrated my otherwise gloomy past.
The Titans never asked for my background story, and therefore I never gave it to them. It was my golden opportunity to start a new life: the life of Beast Boy. The first thing I had to do was get rid of my past; I didn't want to fall back into depression, which was sure to happen if I had let my memories linger. I concluded the best way to forget history was to bury it in the back of my mind, and cover it up with a whole new state of mind. The gloomy, sad, depressed Garfield went away as soon as I joined the Teen Titans; he was replaced by the enthusiastic, wise-cracking, happy-go-lucky Beast Boy.
My first day with the team I was cracking as many jokes as I could (I admit they were lousy, but I was going for quantity over quality), being overly friendly to everyone, and convincing myself I had been this happy my whole life. The plan worked, and I knew forgetting my past would only get easier with everyone else buying my new attitude.
My plan was almost perfect except for one thing: I needed an outlet. I knew if I bottled up the pain and frustration of my past it would eventually explode, causing me to regress back to my previous state. So I decided to dedicate one day of the year, the anniversary of when I came down with sakutia, to unlocking the vault and allowing my memories to flood my mind. Like today, I would usually head out to the park to avoid arousing any suspicion from the team.
"Why are you so happy all the time?" I remember Raven asking me. She was the only one who didn't seem to completely buy my routine at first. "No matter what happens, you're always laughing and sporting that goofy grin." The laugh was even nauseating for me initially, but I got used to it along with the rest of my new personality. I remember forcing myself to chuckle at anything that seemed remotely funny. After a while, it became instinct. I didn't have to think about laughing; I just did it.
The debate once again arose in my head over whether I should tell the team the truth about my past. It was a given that this conflict would come up every year on this day. Before I could think about it further, though, my communicator started ringing. "What's up?" I cheerfully greeted Cyborg.
"Hey, man, we decided to order some pizza," he started, sounding guilty about something. "And, well, since you're out and about already, we were wondering if you wouldn't mind picking up the order and bringin' it back to the tower."
I gave him a skeptical look in return. "Did you remember to order a half-veggie?" I wasn't planning on picking up a pizza I wasn't going to eat.
"Yes, BB, you have an entire six slices of vegetables to enjoy. Plus, we ordered a whole cheese pizza, so you can have some of that too."
I smiled; Cyborg and I got along so well except when it came to food. "Alright, then I'll be back at the tower in about fifteen minutes."
. . . . .
It was late by the time I headed up to my room. I didn't want to act antisocial and race through dinner without talking; that would have left the others worried and suspicious. So I decided to enjoy the break from my dark thoughts and put on my usual act of trying to get all the attention at the table. But despite all the fun I had with the team there was still a good chunk of time left before midnight, and I intended to use every last minute.
I brought back to the front of my mind the idea of letting everyone know about my past. Was it fair to hide it from them? They were my closest friends, my family; didn't they deserve to know the truth about me? I mean, wasn't all this the opposite of what I should be doing? Shouldn't I try to face my fears, instead of running away from them? Was this whole charade really necessary?
I sat on the top bunk while staring back at my door that read "Beast Boy." I shook my head, once again choosing to dismiss the ridiculous notion. Yes, it was necessary. I knew how close I had once come to losing it all. I couldn't afford to let my dark history take over my mind. If I allowed my consciousness to become fully aware of my past, my whole world would come crashing down. I would no longer be in control of my life, something I had fought so hard for. Blocking out my past with this new persona was the only way to keep myself from the brink of insanity.
If I told the rest of the team about this, I would only be putting myself between a rock and a hard place. Too distraught and devastated by my own thoughts to keep on living, but too unwilling to say goodbye to my friends. I had no intention of causing them pain. No intention of having them endure the same agony I had suffered. This was my battle to fight, and I was going to do it on my own.
Why are you so happy all the time? Raven's words came back to me once again. Because being happy was the only way I knew how to hide my inner pain. Every time I smiled, every time I laughed, I was fooling everyone, including myself, into believing that was my personality. A goofy, upbeat kid who was never seen without a smile on; I could live with that tag. More importantly, I could live. I could be free to do the things I wanted to do; live life to the fullest. That's what my parents would've wanted. If that meant having to forget who I really was, who I used to be; it was worth it. That was why this façade was necessary; that's why I would continue to laugh.
I looked at my alarm clock and saw it was five till midnight. As soon as the clock struck twelve, I would close the door on my past memories and lock it tight until this day next year. I would ponder the same thoughts, and once again entertain the idea of telling the others. One day, maybe I'll really do it. But that day wasn't going to be soon. The plan was working, and I saw no point in fixing something that wasn't broken.
I watched as the digital clock flashed 12:00. "Maybe Cyborg will feel like playing some video games tomorrow," I said, tucking myself into bed. "It's been a while since I've kicked his butt at 'Speed Demons 4.' And maybe the whole team will be down for a barbecue at the park, and maybe the mall afterwards." I buried my face in my pillow as I continued to fill my mind with fun activities to do the next day. Tomorrow was gonna be awesome.
Well, I made a couple changes to the story as I went through it (the ending is much different than I first imagined), but I'm really happy with the final product. The more I write in first person, the more I realize I love it. Doesn't mean I'm going to completely abandon third person, but I'll probably write a few more stories like this that explore the mind and psyche of a certain character. Hope you all enjoyed it; please R&R!