Author's Note: Unfortunately this can't take priority over making a living, so two chapters in one day won't be the norm, though I will try to maintain a more regular posting schedule. Hopefully I can make enough time to write two chapters a month, especially now that I actually have an idea where this is all going.
To FF8cerberus: I absolutely agree, I love stories where Gar shows his more badass side. In fact, quite possibly my favorite scene out of the entire original Teen Titans was when all the others got captured and Beast Boy is shown owning his pursuers before heading into the jungle alone. Topped only by him joining Robin in the final confrontation with the Brotherhood.
To lunar silver: I was wrestling with how I would handle that. You might notice that I change identifiers based on what is spoken and what is thought, and by who about whom. This won't be the only time lapse, so over time they will become more accustom to refering to him in different ways. Also, I rather like the idea of them using real names in confidence, so that will become more commonplace as we go on.
To Soulfulbard: I like the way you think^^ Yes, things will turn sour on our favorite changeling. And not without making him realize that everyone has their own set of problems, some we need help with and others that can only be settled on our own. Knowing which is which is the tricky part.
There's no money exchanging hands, so technically there's nothing illegal going on here.
Chapter Seven: Contemplation Condemnation
"WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THIK YOU'RE TRYING TO PULL!" Unfortunately for Garfield, his leader didn't seem to be taking the news very well, as he wasted no time calling bull on the youngest Titan's most recent little stunt.
"I got to thinking about how we're growing up, and it might be time to leave behind my more childish persona." Replied the one in question calmly. He knew there would be hell to pay, he just hoped it wouldn't be too bad.
"You know, he's got a point Rob." Cyborg pipped in from the sidelines. "I mean, he was known as Beast Boy when he was with the Doom Patrol, maybe having a new identity would be a good way to give himself room to grow." This made Richard pause, carefully considering his next choice of words.
"Well I would have liked to know about it." He turned back to look Changeling dead in the eye. "As you are still part of this team, I expect that in the future you will stick to your own declaration of responsibility and inform me of any little 'changes' you're contemplating." Still feeling his leader could do with being knocked down a peg or two, Changeling examined his situation and his actions in the past year before seeing for himself that he had been a bit too withdrawn with his activities.
"Don't worry sir, there won't be any more surprises on my account." Despite trying his best, Dick couldn't perceive any deception nor sarcasm in his teammate's voice, and thus accepted his statement. 'Besides,' Gar thought to himself, 'I do miss spending quality time with my friends.' This caused a small spark, one that felt oddly refreshing.
"But Friend Beast Boy, does this mean you wish us to also now call you the Changeling?" Starfire asked with slight disappointment, settling her feet firmly on the ground with concern at such an impersonal designation.
"No way." Answered Garfield in his normal, optimistic tone. "You guys are my family, you can call me whatever you want. Though, I wouldn't mind if you guys decided to call me by my real name while we're here at the tower. It's not like not using it in public would protect my identity, but staying formal here at the tower just seems silly." There was a general sense of agreement as Starfire began floating in the air again, obviously elated. Though Changeling couldn't help but feel Rae's mocking gaze from behind him.
"Anyway, I want a debriefing on the new techniques you've developed." This warranted a firm nod from the green guy, as Batman's former protege continued. "If you could, fill out a report and get it to me whenever it's ready. I've got some things to go over and I need some time to think." With that he vacated the room, eager to seek guidance he hadn't needed in a long time.
Richard sat down with his communicator in hand, prepared to access a line he had been told was for emergencies. He steeled his reserve and opened the link. Before long, there was a response.
"Never thought you'd actually use this line, son." Bruce said on the other side, using an ambiguous address.
"Well, I didn't know where else to turn." Due to the line being a listed one, the former duo were forced to use terms that could be seen in the context of both their sets of lives.
"Glad to hear you aren't taking action without thinking so often anymore." A somewhat spiteful jab, but a small price to pay for requesting advice.
"About that," Dick decided to springboard off the comment, "one of my friends recently decided to start going by a new version of his name because he figures it's time for him to grow up." Not knowing how to continue, he paused. Picking up on the hesitation, his surrogate father thought to intervene.
"And you're worried about the fact that he thought of it before you did." Being unable to surpress it, Richard sighed audiably. "Look Dick, just because your friends look to you for guidance most of the time, doesn't mean you'll be able to help them with everything." He stopped for a moment to let the words sink in before going on. "Truth is, you are growing up. And it's time for all of you to start becoming the people you will be for the rest of your lives. Best to get off on the right foot. That, is something I cannot help you with."
"What do you mean?" The boy wonder couldn't help himself from interrupting, not expecting this sort of development.
"I can be here to lend you a listening ear, as I have always done, but your course of action can't come from anyone but yourself." Bruce proceeded, quick to quell the confusion. "It's time for you to start seeing yourself through your own eyes."
"Thanks, Bruce." Came his grateful acceptance once it all settled in his mind.
"You're just lucky you didn't catch me in the middle of work." Sharing a short laugh, they exchanged farewells and went back to their daily lives. For once, this meant doing something out of the ordinary for Robin.
"So Garfield," Raven took care to really drag out his name from across the room as she stood in the kitchen. "you must be pretty tired from working so hard, and on a Monday no less! Want me to make you some lasanga?"
"Ha, ha, very funny Raven." Garfield called back from the couch, attempting to pay Victor back for his narrow win the other night, and not doing too bad a job either. Having been sure he would decline her offer she continued to prepare her tea as she had intended, but couldn't help feeling a bit disappointed that he'd used her full name. She would never admit it, most times not even to herself, but her knees always got weak when he called her Rae. Not enough to compromise her composure, but just barely noticeable if she were to be without her cloak...on exceptionally cold nights.
"Don't take your mind off the game, Gar." Vic boasted from his side, nimbly maneuvering his controller. "You don't wanna fall behind!" As he said this, his car zipped around Garfield's and crossed the finish line, ending their race. "Woo, and to the Victor go the spoils!"
"Eh, I'll chalk that one up to the peanut gallery." Gar offered as he stood from the couch and started cracking limbs. "Anyway, I wanna get some reading done before I hit the hay, not to mention I gotta get to work on that report for Robin."
"Speaking of my beloved, I too think that I will retire for the night after having a word with him." Koriand'r commented, getting started on cleaning up the residue from her most recent culinary concoction.
"Tell him I said 'good night', would you?" Garfield asked as he made his way into the hall. Raven took her boiling water and finished fixing her tea as Kori was moving around gathering dirty cooking implements. She went and sat next to Cyborg on the couch and teleported one of her books to her hand from the depths of her room. Cyborg continued to hone his skills on-screen until Star also bid them farewell for the night and went to spend some alone time with Robin. Cyborg finished the race he had been in the middle of and proceeded to cut the gaming system's power. Sensing her tentative sentiments, Victor decided to make the first move.
"So, how are you taking all this, little sis?" Victor only really had a habit of referring to her as his sister in private.
"I don't know, Victor." Rae admitted, closing her book and placing it in her lap. He had given her express permission to call him by his real name in similar situations. "I never really had a childhood, so it's hard for me to grasp what Beast Boy-" upon noticing the look he gave her, Raven corrected herself, "Changeling, is going through." There was a moment of silence before Raven could almost see the spark behind Victor's eyes.
"You're a very unique person, Rae. As such, it's logical to assume that you will go through unique life experiences that no one else has ever gone through. That said, I think the most important thing for you to wrap your head around is the fact that you won't always know how to help people."
"I'm an empath, Victor." Raven replied in a flat tone, conveying a matter that should be known as fact. "Helping people is supposed to be one of the things I'm best at."
"I didn't say you couldn't help him." Seeing that she had her attention on him and not her own thoughts, he continued. "Just because you don't know how to help doesn't mean you won't be able to." When her gaze fell and the contemplation began, the mechanical man drove his point home. "Sometimes, just being there for someone is more than enough." Her gaze returned to him as he stood, more pleading than he'd seen it in a long time. "Look, we all need some rest after a day like today, so just go relax in your room and I promise things will be better in the morning."
"Thank you, Vic." She called from her spot on the couch, watching him wave to her as his back disappeared behind the automatic doors. Not yet feeling ready for the confinement of her abode, Raven sat herself back down on the couch and found herself eying the lifeless television.
"Boyfriend Robin," Starfire called through the door after knocking lightly, for her at least, "are you still awake?"
"I told you Kori, you can call me Richard when it's just us." Was his answer as the barrier separating them receded.
"My apologies, Dearest Richard." She replied as she stepped into his room, unable to look him in the eye at first. She truly loved the young man standing before her now, and at times found herself unable to quell her embarrassed emotions. She would oft wake in the dead of night, afraid that she had just finished having the sweetest dream. Seeing her gaze locked on the floor deep in thought, Richard placed a finger under her chin and leveled her eyes with his before rewarding her with a tender kiss.
They broke apart, and Rich sat himself back on the chair situated before his desk. "To what do I owe the honor of your presence, your Highness?" Kori's cheeks burned with his inquiry. She had lived most of her life being called a princess, but something about hearing him say it struck a different chord entirely.
"You left so suddenly, I did not get the chance to bid you the night of goodness. Also," Here the Tamaranian paused, uncertain of how to proceed, "when you departed you seemed...troubled. Is there anything you wish to discuss?" Dick always knew she was an extremely intelligent individual, but sometimes he tended to forget just how perceptive she could be. He swiveled his seat around to take a good look at the paper he'd been brainstorming on for the past few hours and decided that if he ever wanted to confer with anyone in his life before making big decisions, it was Koriand'r. Grabbing the stationary, he turned back to face her.
"Actually, yes there is. Please, sit." He gestured to his bed, and Koriand'r found herself hesitating. Richard never offered her to rest upon his bed, instead sitting there himself and her either floating or taking the desk chair. Cautiously, she placed herself gently on its edge, and watched as he rose to set himself next to her with the paper still in hand. "I've been doing a lot of thinking, and I think it's time to make some changes around here. Beast B-, I mean Changeling, is right, the time has come for us to be adults. So, I'm changing our image." He gestured to the page, upon which was a (loosely) organized chaos explaining his thought process in a way only he could likely ever understand. One thing that was clear, however, was the title at the top. Apparently, he had started with their current team name of 'The Teen Titans' before striking the Teen with a single line.
"I do not understand, Richard." There were a lot of different subjects displayed throughout the surface, from what looked like social events to names of tailor shops. "What does this indicate?"
"We're not kids anymore, therefore I'm going to arrange an event where we can introduce the world to the new, mature Titans." He watched her face carefully as she continued to consider the object he held before her. "I'm going to make it a fund-raiser, since it will be a fairly high-profile event. And I want each of us to bring something meaningful to contribute." This prompted the redhead to meet his masked eyes in confusion. "I know what you're gonna say, Kor, and the answer is that I think this would be a great time to start educating those who are interested in your home world's culture. After all, we are essentially allies and I feel it would be wise to propogate relations between the populace."
"I am unsure if this is a good idea, Richard." Kori admitted slowly. She was ecstatic that he wanted to bring their two worlds together, but knew just how completely different they were. "It is true that the humans could benefit greatly from interaction with the Tamaranians, but I fear my people would not see the opposite to be true."
"It's true that your people are a lot more advanced than mine, but I believe that there is at least one thing that we have to offer them." With this, he set the paper down in order to take her hands into his own. "Kindness. Your people resolve all issues and disagreements with brute force, but wouldn't you agree that diplomacy is a better option if it succeeds?"
This caused the young warrior to pause, her eyes glazing over with intense thought. Her mind ran through numerous events, taking place both within her original home and here at her new one. There were many times when things could not be solved peacefully, but could easily admit to herself that she prefered when they did.
"You are right, Richard." She stated as she came back to herself, squeezing his hands gently as she spoke, "My people only know to resolve issues with violence or, in the case of disadvantage, royal offering. Perhaps they would be willing to learn of another way to approach disputes."
"Exactly." He affirmed as he remained captured by her dazzling green eyes. "And I think a good way to start would be to compile a text for humans to better understand Tamaranians. If you'd like, we can write it together."
"Oh Richard, that is a wonderful idea!" She flung herself at him, throwing her arms around his neck and resulting in their unceremonious landing on his bed, excentuated by a brief bounce. She drew back quickly, her cheeks blazing once more and smiling sheepishly as she looked down upon his face. Just as she opened her mouth to apologize to him, Bruce's words came swimming back, about growing into the man he wanted to one day be. With that sentiment in mind he silenced her unspoken concern with a single finger while the other hand reached up to his face and removed his last line of defense, feeling comfortable in another's presence for the longest time. Koriand'r was left breathless by the sight of his crystal blue irises, unable to move as he leaned up to bring their lips to meet.