Right, so I have no idea why I wrote this -it seems pretty pointless plot-wise. It began because I wanted to imagine more Robin/BB interaction and this little fic was born. Of course, then I had to add the others in -forgive me if there's too little of either Cyborg or Starfire, I often struggle with words to put in their mouth.
Anywho, hope you guys like the story, and please review! It just got easier on ff. net!
Disclaimer: I do not own Teen Titans. Or Wikipedia. Or the Gamestation console.
Being a Hero
The sound of several electronic devices splintering to pieces in unison has disputed connotations. At times it may produce shock, other times it may cause panic or disorder. It is not often that it causes feelings of triumph. Yet, such was the case at the moment.
"Score!" –an enthusiastic green changeling exclaimed, punching the air with his gloved fist.
His team leader stood about fifty feet away, regarding the broken and sparking pieces of weaponry with something like satisfaction on his face.
"Good, Beast Boy. You're improving," he said, not exactly jubilant, but with a definite note of approval. "You're relying lesser and lesser on bulky animals –and I've never seen you move faster as a gorilla."
Beast Boy grinned. "Thanks, dude."
"You've still got to practise the tiger, though. It's still high on ferocity and strength, but you've got to focus on aiming."
"Yeah, yeah, I know. Now can you please chuck serious-leader mode so we can go out for some pizza, 'cause, man, I'm starving!"
"Not yet. Hand-to-hand's next. Don't tell me you've forgotten."
Beast Boy looked stunned and not very happy. "Dude! This training session took like twenty minutes more than usual!"
"So? Come on. Upstairs, now."
"But I'm tired!"
Robin rolled his eyes. Accurately speaking, his mask twitched a little. But all the Titans were familiar with Robin's various mask-expressions, so Beast Boy knew that he had been indeed treated with a disdainful eye-roll. "Sure, the villains will definitely leave you alone, now that you're tired."
"Har-dee-ha. Let's finish this already," Beast Boy muttered, knowing a lost battle when he saw it.
They walked to the indoor training room in silence. Beast Boy was more than a little peeved at being forced away from his beloved pizza, and Robin was simply his usual quiet self.
When they reached the large, desolate hall, Beast Boy couldn't help feel an involuntary shiver pass through him. This training room was used specifically for hand-to-hand combat, and was really unremarkable in itself, except for the fact that it was so frighteningly bare. The walls weren't even padded, there were no tiles on the floor, and save for an observational glass window high up on the eastern wall, nothing. Just a big, rectangular cement void somewhere inside the giant 'T'. As was normal, Robin unbuckled his belt and hung it on a hook outside.
"Twenty minutes. That's all," Robin said shortly, already getting into fight-mode.
Beast Boy shrugged.
As they entered the room, the door behind them closed with an ominous hiss. Beast Boy hated hand-to-hand training. He hated the concept, the room they had to do it in, everything about it. None of them were allowed to use any of their special powers –or gadgets, wherever applicable –the training was purely for their weakest and most vulnerable states. Granted, Cyborg and Starfire had super strength even without their laser weaponry, but still, even they complied, often sparring with each other for that very purpose. The logic was simple –if there existed something called kryptonite to counter the effects of easily the most powerful man on Earth, who were they to think they were invincible? Even Beast Boy understood this and complied, albeit grudgingly.
"Position," Robin said. Beast Boy could almost see his every nerve standing poised and alert, muscles flexing for action. This meant Robin was especially tense today, which meant one thing for sure.
"I'm gonna get my butt kicked," Beast Boy mumbled to himself, scowling. Nevertheless, he raised his clenched fists in a defensive position, and waited. Robin also had his arms raised, though his fingers were not balled into fists –they stood stiff and straight, as hard and unmoving as a blunt blade. For a moment the two of them simply stood, neither moving nor speaking.
Then Robin attacked so quickly that he simply became a blur, but Beast Boy's senses were faster than anyone else's, and he blocked the powerful strike with his wrists. God, Robin was fast. And strong. Ouch.
"Could you slow down a little there, chief?" –Beast Boy called out sarcastically as Robin immediately reared to give a flying kick, which Beast Boy only just rolled away from. "I'm not Slade's minion or something."
"You could –ha! –be." Robin said shortly, blocking Beast Boy's blatant attempt to punch his nose. "You need to be faster."
Beast Boy ignored the comment. "Paranoid much?" –he wheezed as he jumped up to avoid Robin's swift attempt to trip him.
"No." –Robin snapped. "He will be looking for –gnah! –an apprentice. You could be –hyah! –next."
This statement shocked Beast Boy so much that he forgot to defend himself and left him completely open to one of Robin's patented gravity-defying kicks to the chest. Beast Boy rose five feet off the ground and smashed into the opposite wall from the impact.
"You've gotta be kidding me," he said, gasping for air and clutching his painful ribs. The next moment, he swerved aside with a yell; Robin had tried to punch his face with enough force to crack the wall behind him.
"Dude! You gotta loosen up! You nearly crushed my skull back there!"
Robin seemed irked by his laid-back attitude and half-hearted attacks.
"Then fight!" –he roared, running up to add momentum to his next kick.
"I am!" –Beast Boy yelled back, avoiding the kick.
Robin let out a snort of irritation. "Enough defending, you idiot, attack me!"
"You're not letting me!" –Beast Boy replied, getting more and more frustrated. He tried to serve another flying kick of his own, but Robin cartwheeled away effortlessly, jumping up on the smooth opposite wall and rebounding off it to land gracefully behind Beast Boy.
"Circus freak," Beast Boy murmured crossly.
"What was that, green monkey?"
Beast Boy tried another blow. "You're an ass." –he said harshly. Again, Robin avoided the attack easily, and followed with one of his own while he said, grinning, "And you're a sloth." Beast Boy only barely managed to evade the punch –a green gloved fist glanced off his cheek.
"Well, someone's –gah! –talkative," Beast Boy grumbled, defending himself more carefully.
"It's called distracting the op –opponent." –Robin explained mid-strike.
"So that's what –yikes –what the Slade thing was?"
Beast Boy seemed surprised, but offered no comment. For several minutes after that they continued sparring, stopping only when Beast Boy got knocked over, restarting the instant he got to his feet.
Beast Boy knew that he couldn't best Robin at this. Such knowledge was inherent, like we inherently know that fire is hot. Such was the order in this Universe. Guys like Beast Boy did not fare well against martial art geniuses like Robin.
But damn him if he didn't try his best.
Taking a leaf out of Robin's book, Beast Boy said, as casually as possible between grunts of physical exertion. "Speaking of Slade, I found another of his robots the other day. You know, the ones that look just like him?"
This news literally made Robin stop short. Wham! Beast Boy's fist connected hard with Robin's nose and a steady crimson stream of blood covered the lower half of his face. Robin didn't even let out a single murmur of pain; instead, he demanded, "When was this –oof!"
Beast Boy had immediately followed with another punch, this time straight to the gut.
"Ah-ah, Robin. Be alert." –Beast Boy said in a sing-song voice. He tried another punch, but this time, Robin was ready and caught his fist in his hard grip.
"Don't tell me you were joking," Robin snarled.
Beast Boy grinned, "It's called distracting the opponent, and no, I wasn't joking." He twisted his captive arm, twisting Robin's as well, who had to let him go immediately. Beast Boy twirled away to gather force for another attack, but the Boy Wonder had learnt his lesson; he caught the changeling's ankle as he moved, and heaved him over his head, swinging him a full 180 degrees above him before smashing him to the floor.
"Dude! That was… cruel!" –Beast Boy screeched, rubbing his aching head.
Robin grinned through the blood; it was a ghastly sight. "Tit for tat."
Beast Boy wasn't mollified. "It's nothing Raven can't heal," he scowled, getting to his feet unsteadily –pow!
Another blow, and Beast Boy promptly collapsed again.
Robin stood over him, still grinning. "Ah-ah, Beast Boy. Be alert."
He'd barely finished speaking when a foot swung low at his ankles, tripping him. He fell to his knees as Beast Boy leaped up and sat in his usual position: crouched low on his toes with his knees bent and his spine straight, just like a monkey.
"Good one," Robin said approvingly as he stood. Beast Boy simply smirked.
"Of course," the changeling said smugly before leaping away in cartwheels, just as Robin made a lunge at him.
"You're getting –gnh –better. Much better," Robin continued, even as his fist connected once more with Beast Boy's jaw.
"Sure," Beast Boy grunted, stroking his painful chin. "Took you long enough to admit –aaahh!"
For the third time in that session, Beast Boy flew fast and far as a result of Robin's attack. This time, Beast Boy was definite he'd broken a rib. Or dislocated a shoulder. Or both.
"Dude, soften up!" –he yelled through the pain.
"Villains never soften up," Robin said coldly, approaching Beast Boy.
"Man, you've got some major problems! OCD and definitely bipolar." –Beast Boy snarled.
Robin seemed stunned for a moment, then he grinned. "Who taught you all the big words?"
Beast Boy scowled, then winced at the action. His jaw seemed dislocated as well. "I can read."
"Tell that to Raven."
"I can read some stuff."
"Oh yeah? Like what?"
Despite his swollen lip and a black eye, an embarrassed blush was obvious on Beast Boy's cheeks. "Just… stuff."
Robin glanced at him curiously. Then he reached forward and helped Beast Boy up. The movement produced a violent coughing fit in the changeling.
"Aw, man! I'm coughing blood again. Yeugh. Gross." –Beast Boy whined.
"One last spar?"
The glare Beast Boy shot at Robin was something even Raven would be proud of. Robin burst into laughter. "Just kidding. Come on, let's get you patched up."
Beast Boy rolled his eyes. "Definitely bipolar." –he murmured to himself.
They found the medical ward deserted. Robin checked the communicator, then snapped it shut with a frustrated sigh. "No one's home."
Beast Boy heaved himself onto one of the cots. "No kidding. Where is everyone?"
"Starfire's at the mall, Cyborg's at the hardware store, and Raven… is in one of those depressing cafes of hers." –Robin said as he rummaged in a closet.
"With that goth guy, I'll bet."
"Of course." He glanced up then, his arms full of bandages and gauze. There was a look on Beast Boy's face that suddenly made him weary. "If you value your life, and want your ribs to heal, you'll keep from teasing her about it."
Beast Boy snorted. "I know, Robin. I'm not stupid."
Robin grinned as he began to bandage Beast Boy's bruised elbows. "Funny. Could've fooled me."
Beast Boy responded by blowing a loud raspberry.
They were both silent for several minutes after that as they bandaged themselves up and assisted the other. Unsurprisingly, Beast Boy needed a lot more bandages than Robin. Then again, Robin's nose was still shapelessly crooked and horribly painful.
"You sure can pack a punch," Robin muttered darkly. Beast Boy simply smirked.
Robin clambered onto another cot and faced his teammate. "Speaking of which, when were you going to tell me about the Sladebot?"
Beast Boy looked sheepish. "Just about now. Look, I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner, but… I just couldn't talk about it."
"Nothing. He –it attacked and I fought back. Ripped it to shreds." The look on his face as he said 'ripped' was not one he usually had. Robin could guess what had happened.
"What did it say?" –he asked softly.
"What kind of stuff?"
Beast Boy seemed irritated. "I don't know, dude, just some cra – bull –uh, nonsense."
Robin quickly chose another tack. "When was this again?"
"When we, uh… you know when that Chameleon thing was here? Just after Paris? Yeah, then."
"When you found Terra."
There was a moment of silence.
When Beast Boy did not seem very forthcoming, Robin changed the topic again. "So… what do you read?"
"I saw you. You didn't really answer me when I asked you what you read. You've got some guilty secret for sure. Spill it." The grin on Robin's face was obviously meant to assuage.
"Nothing! I mean, it's kinda lame."
"What is it, Beast Boy? I promise I won't tell."
The answer was so unexpected that it took a long moment for Robin to comprehend that.
"You read… Wikipedia."
"That's what I said." At Robin's look, Beast Boy explained –"Look, it's not like I read everything in there, I mean, I don't think it's even physically possible, you know? I just start out with one particular subject that I want to know about, and then I find some related link and I just keep reading on. Like the other day, I was trying to find out when the Mega Monkeys XLR LE came out and I somehow ended up reading all about the Romanovs."
"You do mean the Russian royal family?"
"Ex-royal, Robin." Beast Boy grinned. And then, like he was reading from a prompter, he narrated, "The House of Romanov was the second and last imperial dynasty to rule over Russia, reigning from 1613 until the February Revolution abolished the crown in 1917."
After a moment's shock, Robin was able to say, "You remember everything you read?"
Beast Boy shrugged. "Most of it. I'm not sure how… They say elephants have long memories, right? And I can turn into one, so maybe my memory's enhanced, too."
"They also say fishes have five-second memories, and you can turn into one of them, too."
Beast Boy grinned. "Which is why I have what they call 'selective memory'."
"Is it just me, or has your sense of humour improved?"
"Nah, it's just you." –Beast Boy said easily.
Robin chuckled. "So… now when we're all talking about… you know, big 'things'… you'll know what we're talking about."
"Don't depend on it," Beast Boy said, leaning back into the pillow. "I still can't understand a word of Cyborg's techno-lingo."
"I guess some things never change." –Robin grinned.
Beast Boy seemed struck by the statement. "Yeah," he said absently. After a moment or two of silence, he rewarded Robin's patience and said –"Hey Robin, can I ask you something?"
"You know how I said Terra doesn't remember anything –or doesn't want to, or whatever –and she's in this school and stuff, right?"
"Yeah," Robin said warily.
Beast Boy seemed to struggle with his words. "So if we had to, I mean, if we could –I… would you talk to her? You know, make her understand that we don't hate her anymore and she doesn't have to be scared that we do? You know, that she's always a Titan, and stuff?"
Several long moments passed. Beast Boy was trying, and failing, to not look too hopeful.
"I'm sorry, Beast Boy, but I'm never letting her on this team again." –Robin said finally.
There was a stunned moment of silence, after which Beast Boy snapped –"What?"
"You heard me."
Robin turned his concerned gaze towards Beast Boy as he tried to find a way to explain. "I… look at it this way. I think she is too much like Red X."
Beast Boy jumped off the cot. "Red X?! Dude, you have got to be kidding me! Red X is a thief –a villain!"
"He's a liar and he always looks out for himself."
Beast Boy stared at him in horror. "So that's what you think of her? After all she did for us?"
"For us? Beast Boy, you need to get that out of your head. Everything she did, she did for herself!"
Beast Boy's expression hardened. "I'm outta here." And he turned away.
Robin leapt off his bed and whipped his grappling hook at the double-doors, tying the handles together and keeping the exit closed. With a growl of anger, Beast Boy morphed into a gorilla and turned back to face Robin.
"Look, just listen, just hear me out, and then you can pummel me all you want," Robin said hurriedly. For a split second, it seemed like the gorilla was bent on killing him, but then Beast Boy shifted back to human form. It was his only sign of agreement.
Robin heaved a sigh of relief. "Look," he began slowly, palms upturned, "I'm not saying that she's a bad person. She's good, we all know that. It's just that… she puts herself before anyone or anything else."
"You're still saying the same thing."
"No, I'm not. I'm not saying she's bad. She's like all the people we save in the city, every day. We know they're not bad people –they're good, innocent people. But we can't trust our lives with them."
"But this is Terra! Not some random 'innocent person' –it's Terra!"
"I know, but Beast Boy, look what she did. Because she thought you betrayed her, she joined Slade. Slade. She knew he was evil, we told her that he was, and still she went to him."
"That's because he offered to help her!"
"So did we, Beast Boy. Even before she wore that suit she knew what Slade had planned. She knew he meant to destroy a whole city and still she remained silent."
"She tried to save me."
"Exactly. She tried to save you, and didn't care about the rest of us."
"She cared for all of you-"
"I'm not saying she didn't. She just cared for you more than any of us. And there again she acted for herself. She could have warned all of us, made sure that all of us were out that night. But she didn't care that the Teen Titans would be destroyed. That a whole city would be left defenceless as a result. She simply wanted to save her best friend. Just her best friend."
Beast Boy's head sagged. Robin approached him cautiously. "She was a good person, Beast Boy. But as much as she tried, she just could not be a hero." Beast Boy opened his mouth, but Robin continued, "No, she wasn't a villain, either. She's just –normal. Like the rest of the world. She shouldn't be allowed to make the choices we have to make. Not everyone can do what we have to, Beast Boy –and that's both a good and bad thing. Her powers didn't help, they only made her choices more difficult. She belongs in that school –you said so yourself, she's happy there. She wouldn't be, otherwise."
Beast Boy sniffed. "Being a hero sucks."
"Yeah. Sometimes. But it does have its perks," Robin grinned. At that moment, loud banging noises were heard against the door.
"Friends! Why does this door not open? You are harmed?" The alarm in the Tamaranean's voice was evident.
"We're okay, Star," Robin called out, but before he could go unwind the string of his grappling hook, a slice of black energy appeared between the door and slit through the wire. The double-doors burst open, and the remaining three Titans tumbled into the medical ward.
Starfire let out a shocked gasp. "My friends! You are hurt!"
Robin and Beast Boy glanced at each other; they had completely forgotten about their wounds.
"What in the name of bacon happened to you two?" –Cyborg asked, shocked.
"We… got a little carried away in hand-to-hand," Beast Boy said sheepishly.
"And you had to lock yourself in –why?" –Raven asked: only the four of them could filter out the concern from her monotone.
"Robin decided he wanted to give me a lecturing session." –Beast Boy said quickly.
Robin was amused to note the shudder that passed through the other three, even Raven.
"Why, what did you do?" –the suspicion was evident in Raven's voice.
"Do I have to list it out, Raven?" –Robin said.
"Don't expect me to heal that for you," Raven snapped over her shoulder as she bent over Beast Boy. "I'll be resetting enough bones in this idiot as it is." She thwacked the changeling lightly on the head.
"Hey, watch it! I may have concussion."
"I'm surprised you even know what concussion is."
"Wait, you're going to let my nose reset by itself? It'll be crooked!" –Robin cried. Starfire looked worried while Cyborg had a huge grin plastered on his face.
"Big deal. Your mask covers your eyes anyway. Cover your nose as well."
Both Beast Boy and Cyborg burst into laughter. Starfire remained worried. "Please, friend Raven, if you could-"
"I'm kidding, Starfire. I'm going to heal his nose."
"Of course she is," Robin said smoothly, as Starfire giggled and clapped her hands.
"You should know that I'm only doing it for Starfire," Raven shot at him as black energy surrounded Beast Boy's torso.
"Dude! It tickles!"
"Would you have it tickle, or would you rather let it bruise you from the inside and puncture your lungs?"
"… the tickling's good, thanks."
"That's what I thought."
"So, Raven, how was the date?"
There was a moment of silence as everyone thought the exact same thing –'Did Beast Boy actually say that?' Then Robin slapped his forehead, Starfire covered her mouth and Cyborg rolled both his eyes –a rattle in his mechanical eye gave proof to that.
None of them were prepared for Raven's answer. "It went well, actually. We spoke a lot and connected on so many different levels." If Raven's monotone wasn't inbuilt, she would've been gushing like a cheerleader.
"… Really?" –Beast Boy was the first to regain his voice.
"NO, you idiot, what do you think? That I've come from some stereotypical, hormone-driven, commercialised romantic event?"
"Good choice. A punctured lung is very uncomfortable."
Beast Boy giggled nervously. "Heh. I knew that."
"Sure you did."
As their bickering continued and Starfire watched them, entertained, Cyborg walked Robin to another bed.
"So… why did you lock that door?" –Cyborg asked as Robin stretched himself on the bed with a sigh.
"I sort of spoke against Terra," Robin muttered quietly, after making sure that Beast Boy was still focused on answering Raven's quick sarcasm.
"Right." Cyborg watched the changeling. "I worry about the kid."
Although Robin understood Cyborg's protectiveness –Beast Boy was the youngest among them, after all –he somehow felt the need to speak for him.
"He can handle it."
Cyborg turned back to Robin, grinning. "I'll say. Looks like he beat you up real nice. Little dude packs a punch."
Robin rolled his eyes slightly, but could not hide his pleased expression. "That's what I told him."
Raven seemed to be done administering Beast Boy at the moment. With another light thwack on Beast Boy's head for something he'd said, she left his side and approached Robin's. Cyborg drifted to the changeling's side, asking loudly, "Yo! BB! When's our next try at Mega Monkeys XLR gonna be if you're all beat up like this?"
Robin only needed his nose fixed by Raven, which took all of five seconds – it took that long because Starfire hovered anxiously at her shoulder, bringing a pleased blush into Robin's face at her concern. "It'll itch for a while. Don't touch it for some time, and refrain from insulting anyone likely to punch you in the face," Raven muttered as she finished. "I need some meditation now or I'll scream."
"May I join you, friend Raven?" –Starfire asked eagerly, and to Robin's surprise, she agreed.
"Thanks," Robin said. Raven simply nodded and drifted away with a vague "I'll see you at dinner" directed to the whole room in general. Starfire followed her and exited in a much more cheerful manner.
"Well, dinner reminds me, my stomach's rumbling. I guess I'll go make myself a light snack," Cyborg announced and turned to leave. Both Robin and Beast Boy exchanged a smirk –they both knew 'light' was a very deceptive word when Cyborg said it. "You two comin'?"
Robin nodded and swung his feet off the bed but Beast Boy shifted uneasily. "Raven said to stay put for tonight."
That made Robin's decision for him. "I'll stay, then." Cyborg nodded and exited the room.
Beast Boy raised an eyebrow. "Don't you have any crimes to obsess over, or something?"
Robin snorted. "Nope. You know, you're picking up way too much sarcasm skills from Raven."
Beast Boy grinned. "Well, I'm growing up, ya know, maturing. My jokes are maturing too."
Robin noticed he looked just a bit uncomfortable and a little more obviously bored. "Hey, how about I get the Gamestation console shifted down here?"
Beast Boy looked surprised. "Why would you do that?"
"Aren't you bored?"
Robin understood. "I guess I feel it's my fault you're going to be stuck down here tonight. I could at least make your confinement more easy on you."
Beast Boy frowned. "Dude, it's all in a day's work."
"I did go too hard on you. I'm sorry."
Beast Boy waved his apology away. "Seriously, when do you get so… like this? I think Tokyo's made you soft," he smirked.
Robin tugged at his collar uncomfortably, an embarrassed smile on his face.
"Someone called for a Gamestation Console?" –Raven had returned, her black energy carrying a screen, a gaming console, and a pair of controllers.
Both the boys seemed surprised. "How did you know?" –Robin asked.
"We do have an empathic link," Raven reminded him as she carefully placed the equipment within reach of Beast Boy's bed.
"Wow. Thanks Raven."
"I couldn't concentrate much with Starfire anyway. Her emotions are on a major high right now. She left me to go watch the sunset." Raven was gazing at him pointedly, as if she was trying to convey something to him.
Beast Boy didn't seem to have been listening, as he was busy caressing the console lovingly. "You know what, Raven, I think you're getting soft, too." A small smirk began to twitch his mouth. "I bet it's 'cos you went out today with that-"
"Finish that sentence, and there won't be a Gamestation to drool over," Raven snapped, as a controller surrounded in black energy clunked Beast Boy on the head. Then, she surprised Robin by adding, "For Azar's sake, Robin, Starfire's waiting for you on the rooftop. Get your spandexed posterior moving." With that, Raven stalked away, distinctly letting out an irritated –"Boys…" at the door. When the doors swung to behind her, the boys in question glanced at each other.
Then Beast Boy grinned. "You know what, Robin? You were right –there are some pretty awesome perks to being a hero. You should go upstairs to yours while I enjoy mine." He took up his game controller in his hand.
Robin grinned, too. "I'm going to do just that."