When those men had first attacked Garfield at Rita's home and he had fallen out the window, he had transformed on instinct. Senses overwhelmed with panic and fear, he had flown desperately through the city, heedless of where he was going. He didn't even remember much of his first night in the city, all he knows is he had somehow managed to evade the bad guys and land on a strange rooftop somewhere where he fell asleep and woke up in his human form just as the sun was rising. He had been scared, confused, and had literally shivered on that rooftop from the morning dew crying at the vague impressions of what had happened the night before, hoping his mom would miraculously appear and comfort him, letting him know that everything was alright, that he was alright. He felt sick thinking of the screams he had heard from Rita and Stan, those horrible sounds echoing as the last real memory before the adrenaline flight for his life and collapse from exhaustion.
But no one came for him under that concrete overhang on the five story building. And once his tears ran out, he knew he had to find help. What happened wasn't supposed to happen. Those people weren't supposed to hurt Rita and her fiancée, and they weren't supposed to be after him. He needed to find someone who could help, but who? Still feeling exhausted despite just waking up, Garfield focused until he transformed into a bird again and flew down to the street level. The city was just waking up, and he hurriedly transformed to normal and ran out in search of someone who could help.
Hurrying down the sidewalk, he saw an older boy on the other side riding his bike in the opposite direction. He can help! "Hey!" Garfield jumped into the middle of the street, waving frantically. "Hey, wait! Stop!"
The boy saw him and his jaw immediately dropped, his hands swerving unthinkingly until he steered himself straight into a pile of trash cans. Garfield cried out in shock at the boy's fall and went to hurry over, but the sound of a blaring horn made him turn and stop in his tracks. A car that was rushing down the street skidded to a stop inches from him, the person inside the car having the same gobsmacked expression as the boy had had. They can help! They can help Rita! "Sir! Please, I need your help!" Garfield rushed to the driver's side of the car, trying to open the door. "Please, help! Someone tried to hurt-"
"Get away!" The man ripped the opening door out of the boy's hands and slammed the door shut, hitting the accelerator and careening off down the road. Garfield moved to chase after it. Rita needed help! He had to find someone who could help!
Hearing a gasp from the other side of the road he saw a woman walking her two children, staring at him with wide eyed horror. A mom! She'll help me! "Ma'am, please," he hurried over to her, "You need to call the police! Last night, there were these men-"
"S-stay back, kid." The woman clutched her children more tightly, pushing them slightly behind her. "Don't come closer! Christ- what in God's name are you sick with?!"
Sick? Garfield didn't understand. What was she talking about? He wasn't sick, he was scared! Those men could be anywhere! And he still didn't know if Rita was okay!
The little girl who was hidden with her brother behind the woman peeped out. "Mommy, why's he green?"
Gar froze at her words. She said green the way his mom would say gross! Or ew!. As if recalling how he really looked, he glanced down to his fully exposed arms. He had left his hoodie in Rita's guest bedroom, and had only one sock on. He hadn't even noticed in his frantic efforts to get someone's help.
What's so weird about my skin? Why do they get scared? With a jolt he looked up and realized that the woman was rapidly backing away from him. "Wait! Don't go!" Garfield moved towards her, his hands spread out in the way his mom showed him to approach weary animals in the sanctuary. "It's not what you think, there's nothing wrong with me!"
The little boy jumped forward slightly, still held in his mom's crushing grip. "Stay away from my mommy you, you freak!"
Garfield looked into the angry eyes of the little boy and felt like someone had punched his gut. Freak?
"Lucas, don't go near him!" The woman tugged viciously until the boy was forced behind her again. She turned a cold glare at him. "I don't care what you say, something's not right with you, don't touch my family!"
The foreign boy took a step back, shocked at the anger in her tone. "But- Rita needs help-"
"Then call the police!"
"I-I don't have a phone!" But the woman was hurrying her children away again, casting threatening glances over her shoulder to make sure he wasn't following.
Why? Garfield tuned in the whispers around him and realized he had gathered an audience of gawkers, all of them looking shocked and unhappy about him being there. The boy who fell in the trash cans had his phone out and was taking pictures. Why is it bad that I'm green?
"Get out of here, brat!" An old man yelled from behind his fence at the gathered crowd. "Stop causing a ruckus or I'll call the police and have you sent straight to juvie, ya weirdo!"
Garfield didn't stay after that comment. He bolted away down an ally, swerving through the maze of the city to get away. The people's expressions told him everything he needed to know. He wasn't going to find help, they didn't care what happened.
They couldn't see past his green skin.
Twice more in the day he tried approaching someone, each time with a worse result. Garfield ended up wandering the streets for days. He learned quickly that the more people saw him as a green human, the meaner they were. Staying safely hidden as an animal meant less grief and chances of people hurting him. When it became clear he couldn't find anyone to help him, he tried to find his way back on his own. Maybe he could still find Rita, maybe! But Gar was hopelessly lost in a city he had no recollection of. Even when he soared in the air, the panic of that night completely blurred any memory he had of familiar safety, even finding the airport proved impossible for him.
The changling had raided some garbage cans when he was desperate enough and drank from the occasional fountain at night, but other than that had eaten very little. He had also learned to adapt his image to what the city dogs looked like, and was currently wandering quietly through the alley ways. It hurt Gar that the animals reacted to him much the same way the humans did. They yowled and barked at him, furious that his smell didn't match his appearance, that he didn't understand their territory or food rights. He had tried asking for their help as well, and had gotten several nips and scratches for his efforts. Now he slunk through the alley, not even thinking of finding Rita's home anymore as much as finding something to eat. He didn't like this anymore. He didn't want to be green, he didn't want to be in America, he didn't want to have cool powers. He wanted his dad, and his mom, he wanted them to hug him and tell him it wasn't real.
He wanted to go home.
"Holy crap! Digger, do you see that? It's green!"
Beast Boy turned slightly at the exclamation to see three rough looking teens at the far end of the ally, gawking at him. He stared at them, feeling his gut sink and wondering if he should run or hide.
"What the eff is it?" The boy with red dreadlocks roughly elbowed his friend. "Think it's natural?"
"Don't be a retard, Spike." The boy who had spoken first had a slight slurring to his voice, like he was sleepy or dizzy and Garfield didn't understand why. He took a large swig of something in a bottle and then threw it to the ground, causing Gar to yelp fearfully as the glass shattered. The liquid had a strong smell he couldn't really place, it didn't smell too good either. "Y'know, even if the stupid mutt is dyed, I can think of a few suckers who'd pay money for it thinking it's the real deal."
The other two looked at one another before grinning and turning back to Gar. "You got a point there, Digger. Dumb mutt could be worth something; maybe even some of the guys at the university would want a new lab-rat to experiment on."
Gar's animal instincts were kicking in, telling him danger, danger. Whining quietly, he unconsciously tucked his tail between his legs, ears drooping more as he tried to look smaller.
The dreadlocks boy looked over Gar. "Dumb thing looks on the skinny side. Hey- give me the rest of that chicken bone." He grabbed a picked clean chicken bone from the capped boy's hand, waving it dramatically in front of him and whistling. "Hey! Hey dog! Here boy! Wanna bone? Doggy wanna bone?"
Garfield whimpered and backed up further. Yes, he did want a bone, but he didn't trust them. They looked like some hyeanas he had once seen on the Savannah; gleefully ready to send the killing blow.
The boy waved the bone in a more jerking manner as he watched the dog step back, frustrated. "No, you stupid mutt! Come get the bone, don't go away from it." He took some steps further, but Garfield quickly retreated. The boy paused, growling under his breath. "The hell? The tiny moron's half dead and he won't take a bone? No wonder its dying."
"We'll have to catch it the old fashioned way." The capped boy said with a cynical smile.
Garfield, not willing to see what would happen next and thoroughly terrified, bolted. The boys shouted behind him in surprise and then anger, and he could hear their long strides slowly start to catch his short sprinting ones. "Help!" He yelled out without thinking, letting out a pitiful bark. "Go away! Help! Please!"
He heard the boys yelling and cursing behind him, and getting louder, but he couldn't bring himself to look back. He was absolutely petrified, the memories of Rita getting attacked flashing in his mind. This was happening because he was green, all because he was green. "Mom!" He yapped out brokenly, "Mommy! Help!"
There was a flash of lightning from nearby, and the darkening alleyway before him was suddenly illuminated. It threw crazy shadows of the boys- boys that were only a few feet behind and gaining- but it was because of that lighting he saw it. An old wooden fence blocking off one section of the back road, tall and sturdy save for the cracked and jagged hole at the bottom. A hole he could fit through! Please, he shouted mentally, please let me make it, please! He felt the graze of one of their hands on his tail, just barely missing. It was getting so hard to breathe, so hard to run, but he was close- so close-
He ignored the cries of outrage from his pursuers, relieved he made it through. But the relief was short-lived. It was a dead end. "No…" He whined out, if he was in human form he would have been sobbing, "No, no, no…" He gasped and turned as a loud bang echoed from one of the teens slamming into the fence.
"It won't budge! Little mongrel gave us the slip!" Garfield whimpered as the one with dreadlocks peaked through the opening. "Hehey! Stupid animal cornered itself!"
"Man, I'm gonna beat that thing when we get a hold of it. Spike, climb the freaking fence and force it out!"
"How, idiot? That thing's topped with razor! I ain't trying that!"
"Are you effing kidding me?"
The boy with dreadlocks stuck his hand in, waving his hand imploringly. "Alright, stupid dog, nice run, now come here. Come here mutt!"
Garfield went and hid behind the only thing available, a trash can. He was shaking uncontrollably now, wanting his mom and dad and wishing he could turn into a human but knowing that wouldn't help and hating that he had ever wanted to be this way in the first place! I wanna go home, he whined pitifully, barely registering the sudden deep voice and exclamations from the teenagers, or of the drunken voices getting farther away. I wanna go home. Mommy, where are you? Why didn't you come on the plane with me? Why did you leave me!
Suddenly, a large bolt of lightly cracked from the sky, landing right outside the fence. Garfield jumped horribly, the flash and crack of thunder momentarily stunning him. Once it cleared, though, he was aware of how quiet it was. Where did the boys go?
A shuffling sound came the fence, and peaking out, Garfield watched in horror as a smaller door he hadn't seen attached to it swung open. Ready to bolt, he was momentarily surprised when a figure he had never seen before passed through, the ice blue eyes scanned the ally until they landed on his shadowed form.
"Hey, are you okay?" The black haired kid raced over to him, and Garfield huddled farther into the shadows, hoping the kid couldn't see him.
"D-Don't come closer! I'm warning you!"
Of course, Garfield was still terrified and in dog form, so this came out as a series of whimpers and yips.
The kid's eyes widened slightly, the shadows hadn't hidden Garfield enough. "Woah, you're green! Just like Miss M!"
Garfield, who had been prepping to change into a rat and make a run for it, paused at the kid's reaction, his shaking subsiding. He's not mad? He's not scared? Whose Miss M?
The boy knelt slowly, cautious of the frightened canine. "Hey, it's alright little guy, those meanies are gone now. I won't hurt you." He held out his hand, not showing any aggression. Gar stared at it for a few moments, then his dog instinct getting the better of him, tentatively moved forward, and sniffing experimentally. His senses told him the boy wasn't giving off any aggressive nature towards him, and he had also recently had a hamburger. The green creature looked back up into blue eyes, realizing for the first time that whoever this boy was he was probably around his own age! It didn't seem like the kid was going to hurt him, and right then that's all that Gar cared about. He wagged his tail weakly in relief, glad the fight was over.
The kid smiled. "See? I don't hurt little guys like you!" He backed up and Garfield timidly stepped out of the shadows into the full light. "Wow, you're really green. You know," the ten-year-old frowned slightly, "you don't look so good." Garfield glanced at his body and noticed the rough patches of fur and scrapes from when he was fleeing the thugs and fighting other animals. Not sure how a dog would respond, he looked back to the human. The boy was now wearing a frown, his lips forming a pout as he thought out loud. "I don't want to leave you out here on your own; someone's bound to pick on you again. And you could use a good bath, and food. But Uncle Dudley…"
Food? Garfield whimpered pitifully, the scent of hamburger still fresh in his nose. When was the last time he had eaten? Dang it, he was so hungry.
The kid paused when he heard the puppy whine, a sympathetic smile coming onto his face. "Aw, what the heck." He leaned down towards the dog, "Fine, Uncle Dudley's coming home late tonight, so if I can sneak you into my room, and you promise to be quiet, we should be alright." He reached to grab Gar, but the canine backed away, his tail falling still. "Oh," The boy tilted his head to the side, unsure what to do, "well, okay, then you can follow me home!" He got up and moved to the end of the ally, holding open the passage way that- now that Garfield was closer- had been hidden by the trash and garbage cans before. "Come on boy! I know we have some left over nachos in the fridge!"
"Nachos!" Garfield yipped excitedly, hurrying after his new friend with puppy trust. The boy didn't care that he was green, and the boy had food! Besides, any wariness he had at trusting the boy was over-ruled by his distinct desire to not stay out where those boys could find him again. And maybe, just maybe after he figured things out, he could finally find his mom.
The black haired boy smiled encouragingly, "Oh boy, it's going to be so fun having a pet dog! I wonder what your name is, do you have a name?"
"Garfield." Garfield barked promptly, then shrunk sheepishly as he realized he was still speaking dog.
"Hmm…" The ten-year-old glanced around, looking for inspiration. "… I like Greenie."
Greenie? Gar shook his muzzle, but the kid didn't notice.
"Yeah! Greenie it is then. By the way," the kid looked down at the dog, his eyes twinkling. "I'm Billy."
Sorry about the wait, Wally's death hit me in the worst way possible, my other stories are suffering because of it too. ;) Now who could this little everyday hero be, hmm?