Welcome back – I couldn't sleep, which is good for you, because now I have another chapter to post. Like I said before, there will be no more horror (sad face, I know). However, there will be grief and remorse, and a little anger as well. In other words, still lots of dark things to write about. Anyway, away we go!
Disclaimer: In what way is "I do not own the Teen Titans" not clear?
Chapter 5 – The Monster
Beast Boy knew the first few weeks back home would be difficult. Nightwing had removed him from active duty and prevented him from joining any of their missions. He wanted to give Beast Boy time to grieve. And so, Beast Boy had mourned, at least at first.
The first night after he left the med bay, he'd gone straight to his room. When he opened the door and entered, he recognized the room, but felt as if he were an outsider, almost like it wasn't his room at all. He had tried to sleep that night but found that neither bunk felt right – they were too comfortable, and he felt too safe. He slowly felt the bitter sadness in his heart fading, replaced now with anger. And slowly the anger began to turn into hatred.
He was enraged at the atrocities that the Brotherhood had committed – that part was at least understandable. But his rage slowly became overshadowed by self loathing. When he was being tortured, at first all he could think about was saving the Doom Patrol. But then he'd thought about what Mento would have done; he'd thought about breaking loose and defeating the Brotherhood. But in the end he'd done neither.
He'd been torn between two completely different actions, two scenarios of equally valid standing (in his mind). On the one hand, he could have saved his adoptive family, the people who raised him and taught him how to be a superhero – this would have been the choice of the Titans; they would have supported this above all else, even if the Brotherhood had escaped. But then again he could have taken the other route and tried to capture the Brotherhood, regardless of the loss to the Doom Patrol. This would have been Mento's choice. But he had been paralyzed with horror, and as a result did neither. Eventually, the fear within him overcame his need to fulfill any mission and in the end, Beast Boy had simply been too scared to act. And now, because of his inaction, the Doom Patrol was dead and the Brotherhood had disappeared again. And for that, he hated himself.
He had been sitting in the darkness of his room for the past few days cursing his complete ineptitude. Beast Boy had never second guessed himself before like this, and in retrospect he might have seen how ridiculous it truly was. The facts of the matter could not be disputed: the Brotherhood's plan had truly been flawless, and in the end there was nothing he could have done. But none of this even occurred to Beast Boy. Bitter hatred was slowly gnawing away at him from the inside out, starting with his rationality.
It was late at night when he was roused from his thoughts. From the edges of his blinds he saw a bright flash, followed shortly by a low rumble. A storm was heading in from the bay. Beast Boy felt his stomach gurgle and decided now was as good a time as any to get some food. He headed out of his room and down the hall towards the common room. When he entered, he found he was the only one awake and proceeded to head to the kitchen, turning the light on as he passed the refrigerator. He looked over to the couch and out the window at the bay. The room was quiet, save for the soft pitter-patter of rain on the large window.
He sat down at the table with a tofu chicken sandwich and a glass of soy milk. He stared off into the distance, lost again in thought. His mind kept returning to the funeral for the Doom Patrol, which was scheduled for the next morning at 10 AM. His throat began to tighten any time he thought about his former team. He constantly blamed himself for their deaths, almost as if he'd been the one that had killed them. He hadn't killed them, and he knew it. But in his bitterness, clarity was not forthcoming.
He hated feeling this way – he truly did. And he knew it was wrong. But he couldn't get over the guilt and anger. Maybe Raven had been right; maybe he needed to talk to someone about it. Maybe he needed to talk to her about it. Or maybe he just needed some way to forget for a while, some way to dull the pain, the hatred, all of it.
In his mind he saw himself apart from his body, a mere state of consciousness looking out from inside a shell. He hated himself so much, and he couldn't really understand why. He felt the anger was a part of him and yet distinctly not him. It was the monster growing inside his heart, fed by his guilt and remorse. It gnawed at his very core, making him relive each moment of torture with increasing self recrimination.
He had looked in the mirror earlier that day and had not recognized himself. Instead, he had seen the monster. That's its true nature – it twists your perception of reality. It makes you see the darker side of things and torments you with them. And worst of all, the whole time, you know it's wrong. But in the end, the monster is all you've got. So you cling to it with all your might.
He stood up from the table, having never touched his food. He turned and headed out the common room, determined to find somewhere to be alone. He couldn't go back to his room – it reminded him too much of the boy he had been. But now that boy was lost, replaced by this faceless monster. And right now, the monster had a thirst that needed to be quenched.
"Has anyone seen Beast Boy yet?" asked Nightwing as he straightened his tie. He looked up at the others and they shook their heads.
"Well," began Cyborg. "I know he's left his room at least once this week cause' he left a tofu chicken sandwich and some soy milk out on the table." He made a face at the mention of the soy and tofu.
Starfire looked from Cyborg to Nightwing and back.
"Should we not go get friend Beast Boy?" she said innocently and her face saddened a little. "The Doom Patrol meant a lot to him. They were his family. Should he not be present as we lay them to rest?"
The others nodded, and just then the doors to the common room swished open to reveal a heavily disheveled Beast Boy. He was dressed appropriately, but only just. His hair was a disaster and his eyelids drooped. In fact, he looked downright terrible, like he hadn't slept in a week.
The Titans said nothing as he trudged into the room. This wasn't unusual for Beast Boy; he always was a little late to the party. But today was understandable. It was day of mourning, and at least he was dressed the part.
Nightwing finished primping himself and looked around. The rest of the Titans stood waiting, all eyes on Beast Boy. He had a somber expression, and the harsh reality of the situation had drained the life out of him, making him look ten years older than he was.
Raven walked over to Beast Boy to adjust his tie. She'd half expected him to object, but he didn't move at all. She didn't need to be close to Beast Boy to sense his feelings. His body radiated with sorrow, and beneath the sorrow, she sensed anger and guilt. But she could also sense that he was hiding something, and she couldn't quite tell what it was. His mind seemed clouded, and for some reason something felt a little off about him. She decided to put it out of her mind, for now.
"We should get going," Nightwing said at last.
They all looked to Nightwing and then back to Beast Boy. He looked up and paused, a blank expression on his face, as if he hadn't heard the question. Finally he nodded and turned to exit the common room. The rest of the Titans shared a sad glance and followed.
It was raining, just like the day before. The fog had rolled in from the bay, bringing with it layer of gloom. The early morning sun had been blocked by the mist, so the air was damp and cold. It was light out by now, but because of the low cloud cover and fog, the cemetery was showered with an ethereal glow that seemed to take the warmth out of every breath.
The funeral itself was a small affair; there wasn't a big reception, and there was very little activity before the actual ceremony. Beast Boy had chosen for them to rest in Jump City because he could think of nowhere else to place them. The Doom Patrol had been on the move for so long that they never actually had a place to call home. So Beast Boy had chosen it for them.
He had been asked a few days back whether they should be cremated or buried. As Negative Man had already been burned alive, the choice for him was quite simple. But rather than bury the rest of them, Beast Boy had felt that a mausoleum would be more appropriate, a landmark honoring their service to the people. It stood on the side of a large hill on the out skirts of Jump City, providing a great view of the city, though today there wasn't much to see with all the fog.
The mausoleum was actually rather simple, made completely out of white marble, and it sat snuggly up against the hill. A single willow tree stood further up the hill above it, providing cool afternoon shade. The doors were made of ebony and aspen (since Beast Boy would never allow ivory), interwoven together into a giant collage. He had wanted it that way, so that whenever anyone passed by the temple, they could get a glimpse of the Doom Patrol as they had been. He had wanted them to be remembered for the heroes they were.
The ceremony began with the pastor speaking a few kind words for each of the members therein interred. At the end he motioned to Beast Boy, who had prepared a closing speech. The young man nodded as the pastor stepped down and then took his place behind the podium. He looked sadly out over the crowd. He saw many Honorary Titans, all of his fellow Titans, some of the Justice League, and others. He even caught a glimpse of the Dark Knight, who stood leaning against a large oak tree at the far end of the cemetery.
He took in a deep breath. He steadied himself and began to speak, looking out blankly into the crowd.
"Thank you all for coming. The Doom Patrol would be very happy to see that such an illustrious group of individuals have come to pay their respects. When I first met the Doom Patrol, I was just a wayward young boy, lost and alone. But they took me in and cared for me when no one else would.
Before long they had become my new family. Rita was my mother … and Steve was my father… and Larry and Cliff were my uncles. We were a family of superheroes, and we all knew the risk that went with that. We always put the mission before the team and strived for excellence in whatever we did. When I left the Doom Patrol, it was over a difference of opinions, but they never left my heart, and they never will. What was done to them …and to me… was horrible, but I don't think that's how they would want us to remember them.
They were more than heroes; they were superheroes, all of them, and they fought every day for the freedoms that we all enjoy. They never questioned their duty, never complained when things were tough, and they …sniff… they never, ever gave up. That's how they'd want to be remembered. Let us now continue on that legacy – let us strive to be the best heroes we can be, and maybe one day we can also earn the right to be called superheroes."
Tears were streaming down his face as he stepped down from the podium, but he didn't care. He didn't look up as he returned to his seat. The ceremony came to an end as they closed the mausoleum doors. The guard was called to attention and began firing a few rounds in the air for each of their fallen comrades.
Everyone jumped as the shots were fired, including Raven. She was sitting next to Beast Boy and had placed a comforting hand on his back, rubbing it gently. She noticed that he was the only person not to flinch during the firing. In fact, he just sat there, his back stooped forward and his elbows on his knees, his face as cold as stone. He was crying, but it seemed as though he was unaware of it, as if he was disconnected from reality altogether. He just sat there and Raven realized the sad truth: this was his funeral as well. He had witnessed all of their deaths and mourned for them, but now he was crying for himself. Today, a small part of Beast Boy had died.
She had always enjoyed the rain. The sound of the rain dripping against her window echoed throughout her room and gave it a soothing, calming essence. She especially liked to meditate when it rained. It was easier for her then, with the atmosphere so calm.
She lowered herself down softly on the floor, having just completed another session. Her stomach felt a little empty from all the concentration, so she decided to go grab a cup of tea. She exited her room and began to walk down the corridor to the common room. As she passed Beast Boy's room she stopped.
Something felt … strange. She moved a little closer and stood in front of his door. She could sense that he was in the room, but she also felt that his mind was very clouded and unfocused. She placed a hand on his door and sighed. Things being what they were, she half expected that he'd never leave his room. It was never easy to bury friends, and it was even harder to bury family. And he'd lost two families in one lifetime. She understood his pain – she really did. He'd given so much to the world, to being a hero, only to have so much more taken away.
He'd said nothing after the funeral and had merely gone to his room. The rest of the Titans hadn't seen him in weeks, though they all knew his was there. He never left the room, and when Raven had passed by earlier a few times, she'd heard him crying.
She'd felt the guilt and anger emanating from his room daily. He needed his time to grieve – that at least was true. But at some point he had to let it go, to move on. The Titans had allowed him some space, but he'd been grieving for weeks, and it was time to put it to an end. But as much as Raven wanted it to end, she couldn't just make him stop. A couple of times she'd stopped by his door, trying to decide whether or not to go in. But she'd always stayed away. This was his burden to bear. He had to move past his pain on his own. If he wanted her help, he only had to ask.
She removed her hand from the door and proceeded down the corridor and into the common room. As she entered the kitchen, she collected her teapot and filled it with water, finally placing it on the warming oven top. The pot of water would take a while to heat, so she had some time to think.
She sat down silently and placed her elbows on the table.
I wonder if Gar will ever be the same, she thought, placing her head on her hands and staring blankly at the wall.
He's been through so much. And if it were me, I know I wouldn't want to see anyone for weeks. But Beast Boy loves attention, and it isn't like him to shy away from it. Maybe it's time for me to give him that 'talk' I promised. Or maybe I should just wait for him to come to me. Either way, he can't go on like this forever.
She found herself lost in thought a lot these days, and increasingly more about him. They were friends, yes, but in her heart she began to question whether or not there was something more to it than that. Was there something more between them? She didn't know – how could she? They'd never been more than hot and cold on even the best of days. And more often than not, he irritated the hell out of her. In the past, things never would have worked out.
But then again, the only constant in the universe is change. And between the two of them, things had changed. She cared for him, more than just a friend. And Beast Boy cared for her – this she knew as well. But in the end, she kept coming back to the same question: what if it didn't work out? What if they just weren't meant to be? Sure, there was chemistry, but some compounds are only stable until you shake them. And a relationship would surely shake things up.
And yet, in all the confusion and all the drama, the simple fact remained that he'd been there for her when she'd needed him the most. When Malchior had betrayed her and broken her heart, he was there to comfort her. When Trigon had used her as a portal, he was there to support her. And when Adonis had kidnapped her, he was there to save her.
Now, when he needed her the most, where was she? Rather than support him in his greatest time of need, she'd left him on his own. She knew no other way – she had to deal with her problems alone, and so did everyone else. Or so she thought.
And suddenly she knew. She had been, and still was, wrong. You can't deal with your problems alone. That only makes them worse. The weaker man is not the man who asks for help, but the man who does not offer it. You can't expect someone to ask for help – since when does anyone know when the need help? She'd offered to 'talk' with him when he'd wanted to, but not when he needed to. And now he needed it, even if he didn't want it.
Raven's thoughts were cut short by the whistling of the teapot. She grabbed her teacup and filled it with hot water, adding the green tea bag as the water level rose. She'd made up her mind – now she just needed to calm her nerves.
As she walked back down the corridor, she kept thinking about Beast Boy and how she could help him, or if she could him help at all. As Raven passed his door, she heard the distinct sound of glass clinking, followed by a pronounced thud. Then there was silence.
Raven lowered her teacup from her lips and slowly pressed her ear to the door. She heard nothing, not even the sound of his breathing. Something was definitely wrong. She could feel in her gut that something wasn't right. Moreover, she couldn't sense him at all, which meant he was either unconscious or dead. Circumstances notwithstanding, she decided that his privacy was the least of her worries.
She placed her teacup down by his door and phased into his room. The room was dark and had a musty, earthy smell she wasn't familiar with. She couldn't see very well, and rather than make a fool of herself, she thought it best to go the easy route. Leaning over to the side of the room, she flipped the light switch and looked around.
There were glass bottles everywhere. On the floor, in the bathroom, under his bed, on his bed, in his bed – everywhere. And all of them were whiskey bottles. That earthy musty smell – it was bourbon whiskey. There had to be at least thirty bottles scattered throughout his room.
At first, she was livid. She understood that Beast Boy was grieving, but this was unacceptable. He was a Titan, for Christ's sake – Titans weren't supposed to drink alcohol because it set a bad example. They were heroes, and because they were heroes, they were constantly in the spotlight. That meant they had to be responsible in everything they did. It didn't matter that he was over twenty one; he was supposed to be a role model, not a drunkard.
She walked over to the bed and noticed that his sheets were pulled away towards the window. She looked around the front of the bed and noticed two green feet sticking out from around the corner.
On the floor on the other side of the bed lay Beast Boy, sheets clenched in one hand and an empty bottle in the other. He was out cold and his breathing was shallow. She went to go clean him up and as she reached down she noticed just how pale he really was. His usual evergreen glow had been replaced by a somber lime hue, and his eyes had dark circles under them. He also looked extremely thin, like he hadn't eaten in a week.
Although his breathing was low, she could sense that he was conscious, but only just. His mind was on 'autopilot', which had made it very hard for Raven to sense his aura beyond the room. Moisture dripped down from his forehead and he shivered involuntarily as a single drop made its way across his cheek.
Slowly, her anger began to fade and was replaced with Sadness. She realized now just how bad things really were. He'd turned to alcohol to deal with his pain, and in the process had become an addicted to it. She was immediately overcome with guilt. If she had been there for him like he was with her, he wouldn't have turned to alcohol for comfort. Beast Boy had needed help and she wasn't there. And now it might be too late.
Raven frowned and knelt down next to him, running her hand through his soft green hair. As her hand passed his forehead he shuddered and she could feel the heat from his skin. He was drunk and he had a fever. She sighed, her face set in a small frown. She pulled out her communicator and dialed up the other three Titans.
"What's up, Raven?" replied a very tired Nightwing. She could just make out the figure of Starfire lying next to him. He had a very dazed expression on his face, as he wasn't privy to late night phone calls.
The screen immediately split and the second half revealed an equally confused Cyborg.
"Yo, Raven, what's with the late night conference call?" he added, scrubbing his eyes and yawning.
"We've got a serious problem," she deadpanned, her tone serious and sad.
Nightwing was instantly awake, ever ready for action. Cyborg was also immediately onboard.
"What is it?" Nightwing asked. "What's going on?"
"It's Beast Boy," she said looking back over her shoulder at the unconscious Titan. "He needs help."
And there it is – Chapter 5. This one took me a little longer to write because I couldn't quite figure out how to piece all the specific elements together without going over the top (which I still might have anyway). As for future chapters, things are going to slow down for a little bit for me as work has gotten more intense and therefore takes more out of me each day. Stay tuned, though. Chapter 6 should be up sometime next week.
Until next time, this is Lavender and Jade, signing off!