Hey dudes and dudettes! Here's another one-shot that troubled my mind for a while now. You remember how Beast Boy states after their first encounter with Mad Mod "I have a brain, I just don't use it much!"? Well, that's the reason I thought up why he doesen't. Oh, and sorry if I get the U.S. school system wrong. Tried to figure it out right but I guess I failed at it... Anyways, enjoy and SMILE!
Forcing him to use his brain
"Why the hell do we have to take those exams? Aren't we heroes?" the green teen whined loudly.
"Apparently this doesn't count. We just have to prove them that we already have the knowledge of a high school graduate and we'll be off of the hook" Robin stated.
Only minutes ago the leader of the Teen Titans had had a phone conversation with the government. They insisted that the Titans would all make the SAT/ATC exams, to be good role models for the youth. They couldn't have school drop outs as the town heroes…
"But why?" Beast Boy got on, sounding deeply desperate.
"I already told you: because we are heroes and children are looking up to us!"
"This is pointless. I won't sit in a room and write an exam just to proof that I am clever enough to be a hero. I t takes more than simple knowledge to be a hero" Raven objected.
He noticed her side glance at Beast Boy with what seemed to be a worried expression. But with Raven you could never tell what her expression really meant, so he frowned: "Well, as long as you won't spend your whole summer getting tutored, you'll have to pass. If we do neither they'll cut of the salary. No food, no books, no technical devices, no video games, no shopping…"
"All right, we'll do that stupid exam. Come on, Star, I'll teach you what you'll need to know…" Cyborg grumbled in defeat and put a hand brotherly around the alien princess' shoulder.
"I'll join you two, even if it's unreasonable. I'll do the stupid test if they insist…" Raven sighed and the three of them left the room, the empath strangely glanced once more at the green teen.
Robin turned towards the pouting Beast Boy, who sat there with crossed arms over his chest.
"What about you? You don't want to be the only one who won't pass, do you?"
"I hate when people force me to use my brain!" the changeling still grumbled.
"Listen, it can't be helped. Just this once, do your best. For the sake of the team" Robin almost pleaded. He hadn't mentioned to the others what other consequences their disobeying could bring and he would only tell them if absolutely necessary.
But the youngest of the team didn't move a bit, only his ear twitched at the last sentence. The indifference drove his leader angry.
"Garfield, if you won't pass the test I'll have to kick you out of the team because you will have to go to high school instead of fighting crime! Is that what you want?"
Now Beast Boy finally looked at him, hurt and defiance in his look.
"Okay, I'll pass the test. But it will be me, a pencil, the sheet, a chair and a table in the room. Nothing else. If there has to be a supervisor he can sit in front of me, but he can't wear anything white. Those are my conditions. And it will be the only test I'll go through and the only time I'll let them force me to use my brain" he stated before he left the room, a stunned boy wonder looked after him.
One week later they had only two days left to study, what most members of the team did, except for the one everyone thought would need it most. Beast Boy spent his time as always, playing video games, watching TV or when he really got bored he exercised in the gym, but he never looked into a book once.
As the time got by they discussed their concern, but quickly dropped the matter, not knowing the real consequences, except for Robin. This afternoon, as Beast Boy was playing Mega Monkey 6, he couldn't help but meddle.
"Beast Boy, you agreed that you will pass the test. Remember?" he asked as he sat down beside him, one of the math books in his hands.
The green teen didn't interrupt his game, he simply asked: "So what? The test is in two days, right?"
"Yes, but maybe you should consider studying until then. It's pretty hard stuff, you know?" Robin hissed through gritted teeth. He was under some tension, having a hard time of learning the matters he hadn't yet for the test and helping Cyborg tutoring Star and Raven about the earthly matters as well. He couldn't afford to worry about Beast Boy too, and his probable dropping out of the team…
Beast Boy put his game on pause and turned towards the leader.
"I already told you that the only time I will let them force me to use my brain will be at the test in two days" he said calmly. The lack of emotion in his voice slightly troubled Robin.
"But maybe you should get prepared for the test. It's not that easy!" he growled.
"I'll be fine!" Beast Boy insisted and crossed his arms over his chest again.
"Then prove it! I'll ask you one question out of this book and if you can answer it I'll let you deal with it your way. But if you can't you'll have to study your ass off in the remaining days. Deal?"
"Fine…" the younger teen huffed.
Robin opened the math book and chose a question even Cyborg had had his difficulties to solve so maybe he could prove to the green boy how hard this could be.
"Okay, here is the question: In a bookstore two sorts of books are sold in promotional offer. Raven buys four of the first sort and three books from the second, while Cyborg brings back six of the first sort and buys eight of the second sort. Raven has to pay 17$ and Cyborg 12$. How much is one book of each sort of the book? You have two and a half minute to answer."
"Can you repeat the question?" Beast Boy asked indifferent. The leader of the Titans smirked as he did what he was demanded; already sure he would win their little bet.
After one minute and twelve seconds, the younger boy said: "One book from the first sort is 2$, one of the second is 3$."
Robins jaw dropped. He double checked the solution, looking at the other in disbelieve.
"How… how did you do this?" he stammered.
"Easy, with two equations: for her books it would be 4x plus 3y equals 17 and for his books minus 6x plus 8y equals 12. You multiply her equation with six, then you get 24x plus 18y equals 102, then you multiply his with 4 getting minus 24x plus 32y equals 48. Now you just sum the two equations what will give you 50y equals 150, divided through 50 gives you y equals 3. Now you can redo her equation with this result, which means 4x plus 9 equals 17, minus nine means 4x equals 8, divided through 4 gives you x equals 2. That's how you get the answer: the first sort of books is 2$, the second 3$."
"But usually you even have a hard time with the one-o-one, now you're solving equations faster than Cyborg, as fast as Starfire, our math genius in fact! In your head, on top of it!" Robin exclaimed still shocked.
"Usually I am not forced to use my brain so I don't do it. Because I know someone of you will" the grass stain shrugged. "Can I continue my game now?"
Too stunned from the event Robin just nodded and left, joining the others back at the kitchen table.
"I guess he just proved that he really has a brain…" Cyborg noted awed. They all had followed the event on the couch with growing astonishment.
"…and his brain is working faster than yours, Cy" Raven smirked, apparently not as surprised as the others were.
Star wondered: "Tell me friend Raven, did you know friend Beast Boys true brain capacities?"
She shrugged and said: "We discussed it once…" But an almost invisible pink hue on her face gave away that there must have happened something more interesting than just a discussion.
Sadly, Starfire couldn't question her friend, because Robin interrupted harshly: "It doesn't matter as long as he passes the exam. He probably just was lucky. Let's continue the studying."
As the day of the exams came, they got to the City Hall, like it was settled, more or less nervous. Cyborg and Robin seemed the most composed, but if you would look closer you could see them sweating a bit. Starfire shivered slightly unsure of the upcoming event that was called 'test', while Raven just looked a bit paler than usual. But Beast Boy, who hung at the empaths arm was white as a sheet, trembling and sweating bullets all the time.
"I guess now you wish you would have studied…" Robin scorned at him.
"Nah, just hate tests" the younger teen smiled shakily.
"It will be alright, Gar, we're all in the same building, if there is trouble you can call us. Don't worry!" she soothed him, ignoring the questioning looks of the other three.
Five hours later Starfire and Cyborg stood in front of the building and waited for their leader, the last team member, came out.
"Where are Raven and Beast Boy?" he asked as he finally joined them.
"They already left. The grass stain wasn't in a good condition, so Rae took him home early, she wanted to do some healing on him there" Cyborg stated. Robin gave him a questioning look but didn't pursue the matter. He'd interrogate the missing two members later on his own.
Instead he asked: "So, how did you two do? No problems with the test?"
"I think I have done quiet pleasingly, I answered all the questions, even if in the language section I wasn't that sure… but I am of the certain that I did the well in the maths" Star chirped.
"I'm sure you did. As for me, I think, I did pretty well. The studying paid off after all" the half-metal teen chuckled, "how 'bout you? What took you so long, Boy Wonder?"
"Those maths weren't my strong point" he huffed at the nickname.
"At least tomorrow we'll know how inappropriate we are as role models" Cyborg joked.
Robin entered the common room the next morning with a large envelope in his hands.
"Morning, guys! I got the results!" he exclaimed more cheerful than usual. An envelope meant they all had passed. If one of them would have messed up, they surely would have called the same morning.
He walked over to the table where the others sat, seeing Raven and Beast Boy for the first time since the start of the exams. While he had allowed the others to rest he had gone on patrol the rest of the day after the tests and completely forgotten that he had wanted to check on Beast Boy. He looked still awfully pale, spiritlessly stirred his cereals inside his bowl. The empath next to him glanced at the youngest team member with unusual concern. Cyborg and Starfire sat across the two, wearing almost the same expression as her. He definitely would have to investigate this later.
He opened the envelop and started to distribute their results, congratulating them: "Star, you have gotten a solid B, that's great! You had some faults at the English test part, but you have done perfect in the math section! This one is mine, B plus… Cyborg, Raven, you both made it to an A minus, good job you two and… Beast Boy has an A plus. Full score. Not a single fault…"
The changeling smiled weakly at him and looked down again, not grasping the angering look of his leader.
Raven even put a hand on Beast Boys shoulder, saying: "See? Nothing bad happened. You did very well, congrats."
"So this is what you are capable of when you use your brain? Not bad, grass stain!" Cyborg grinned, reached over the table and softly ruffled his hair, while Starfire smiled warmly at him and opened her moth to compliment him too. But that was when Robin exploded.
"Not bad? How long were you going to keep up this act of the stupid jokester? Have you any idea how many crimes could have been solved if you weren't too lazy to use your brain?" Robin yelled, "They ask in this letter if they could examine you further and I want to run some more tests over you too to know what else you were hiding…"
"No" the pale boy stated determinate despite his shivering, "no more tests or examinations. I told you."
"I don't care what you told me! There is more you aren't telling and I'll find it out!" their leader shouted banging his fist on the table.
"No more tests" he repeated shaking, got up and left the room.
"Wow, that was sensitive. And people call me cold…" Raven scolded with a frown and followed her team mate.
"Great job, Bird-Brain! Now we can start to patch him up again" Cyborg added huffing, stomping out as well.
Robin looked confused after them before he turned to the remaining Starfire who still sat at the table. But the look on her face – frown on her front, tears starting to form in her eyes and lips compressed into a thin line – didn't please him.
"You know" she started with a slightly trembling voice, "in my home leaders of a group are responsible of the being of the well of every single member too, not only caring for fighting and patrolling…" With this she flew out of the room too, leaving him alone in his confusion.
After what seemed an eternity to him he finally could muster up enough courage to follow his team mates to find out what he had done wrong. But before he could round the corner leading to Beast Boys room, he could hear the voices of the three others discussing.
"-managed to calm him down enough to put him to sleep" Ravens monotone voice could be heard.
"He threw up again… If this goes on I'll have to put him on the IV…" the half-metal boy mumbled.
"Please, friends, we must protect friend Beast Boy from those tests if they are causing him this much harm…" Star begged.
The empath countered: "He said it won't be a problem as long as it would be Cyborg, you or me doing the tests. But you know what it means when the government wants to test him: white coats, syringes, electrodes and everything else that is scaring him out of his mind. Oh and Robin, I know you are there around the corner, he is not letting you run tests over him because you were way too pushy. Just in case you wondered."
Blushing in embarrassment he stepped out of the shadow and joined them.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to eavesdrop…" he started.
"…no, you just couldn't help it" Raven interrupted him sarcastically, "so just to let you know, he allowed me to inform you about the circumstances. We wanted to tell all you guys yesterday, but you were busy, Robin. I suggest we'll go back into the common room to discuss the matters. He really needs some sleep."
Cyborg and Starfire, who sat next to him on the couch, shot him angry glares, while Raven in her usual composed manners stood in front of them, currently with her back turned on them and watched out of the window. After she took a deep breath in, she faced the Boy Wonder and started to explain in her indifferent monotone:
"You remember how about two months ago we were captured by Slade in this small cubic trap we thought we wouldn't be able to get out. It was that hermetic cage which had some sort of power suppressor system, air was running out, we all were already thinking we would die and you three passed out."
Robin nodded with a frown. Raven and Beast Boy had saved them from out there, but they never had told him afterwards, how exactly they had managed to. He felt a pang of guilt as he realized how rarely he currently spoke to most of his team mates… Raven continued in her tale.
"That was when he spoke up to me. He said he could get us out but he needed my help afterwards and that he would explain it to me as long as I would keep it a secret. He turned pale and trembled, but he got us out. I don't know how exactly he did it, there were some calculations of applied physics which seemed rater complicated, still he managed to make out the weak point of the cell and we managed to break thorough. He still trembled, got into a corner, threw up and then we left. I was… stunned. By his behavior as well as by his abilities. We brought you three back into the tower, did what we could to get you better and waited until you woke up. In the meantime he recounted me what he could. Ever since I started to help him over the trauma he has and he did rather well. Maybe you noticed how he improved; how he started to behave more adult, how he began to, well, use his brain more often. And then you and those exams had to show up and had taken him aback again, resulting in his current dire condition."
Robin could detect her hidden anger at him and her concern for their young friend; the later astonishing him of the extent she displayed it. She had to be very worried if it shone through her usual indifference that much…
"But what kind of trauma Beast Boy got through?" he pondered half loud.
"I was coming to this" the empath stated, "we all know he lost his parents at the age of five and that afterwards he was abused for thievery for two years. And we know that he joined the doom patrol at the age of eleven, quit it with fourteen and almost immediately became a Titan afterwards."
He followed her explanation, trying hard to understand what this all meant. He was the detective talented one in the team but he suddenly realized an important thing that never disturbed him before, even after they had all been telling each other their background stories: "There are three years missing in his story… How come I never noticed?"
"None of us did, mate. But it's the key to the current situation" Cyborg said evenly.
Raven sighed before she continued: "Yes, it is. In those three years, after he escaped the crime abuse and before he managed to become a hero, he went through a very dire experience: he was abused as test object in an illegal experimental laboratory."
Robin stared at her in shock, asking slack-jawed: "He… a test object?"
"You know he is a scientists' dream test object. Animal testing, experimental surgery, pharmaceutical studies… He went through almost every thinkable science experiment you could imagine for an animal, a human or a meta-human. This includes of course intelligent tests, though they were configured much crueler that they may sound. If he wouldn't answer the questions they brought up right in the required time, he got punished."
"What do you mean by punished?" the black haired teen asked shaken.
"Most of the time electro shocks, sometimes other introductions of pain, sometimes, when he completely refused to follow their orders, deprivation of needs, as food, water, sleep and so on. In other terms he got tortured the whole time" Raven told, not able to hide a slight tremble in her voice.
"Three years…" the team leader whispered, lowering his head in his hands in the useless attempt to keep it from spinning in the inside. All the pain their youngest team member had gone through…
The empath interrupted his trail of thoughts: "Yes, three years, then the Doom Patrol brought the staff of this lab to justice for animal abuse. They didn't notice Beast Boy among the animals that were freed; he told me he was most of the time transformed into some small animal to have more space in the tiny cage he was held in. Still, he noticed them and joined them later. Rita did a great job helping him over most of his pain, but Steve tried to help him overcome his fears the same way you tried to get him to study: he put him under pressure. It's a miracle how he managed to become as mentally stable as we usually know him. Most people wouldn't be able to endure the same he did without going insane." It was strange hearing Raven of all people declaring Beast Boy mentally stable and sane.
Robin felt nauseous due to the news he had learned about one of his friends. They were team mates, family, even if they weren't as close as with others, he had always thought of Beast Boy as an annoying younger brother. True, they were rather different personalities, but apparently he had misjudged the green boy constantly... Underestimated him in more than one way… Maybe even worsened his trauma…
"So, now you know why he hates doctors, white coats, syringes, tests and, as he stated it several times, being forced to use his brain. It brings up some of his worst memories and makes him suffer more than you all know…" Raven finished, her voice trailing off at the last words, her gaze distantly directed at the window.
"This damn test was almost killing him from fear… According to Raven he wasn't able to keep down any nutrition since he learned about those stupid exams… Heck, he still isn't, and you already almost could count his ribs before this whole thing" Cyborg said worried.
Now the alien princess spoke up fiercely: "We can not allow the government to harm our friend any further! We must protect him from any more of the testing!"
"You are right" Robin stated determined. The information he had gotten in the past moments still troubled him, but he had a job to do know, he had to protect his surrogate younger brother. "I'll go and have a call to shake them off. Cyborg, maybe in the meantime you can come up with some medical help for Beast boy. Star, you can try to make him something to eat, nothing extraterrestrial, just some vegetables and tofu." The two he had spoken to nodded and ran off to fulfill their tasks and the leader, back in his element, turned to the silent empath.
"Raven, I need to talk to him. I have to apologize. And we need to figure out how we will proceed. I don't want him to suffer like this again. Can you help me with this?"
She finally looked up again and nodded slightly, but the determination in her eyes reassured him that she would forgive him his faults.
An hour later, Robin stood in front of Beast Boys door, the empath on the lead. As she raised her hand to knock, she suddenly stopped in the motion and turned towards him.
"Remember, don't push him to anything. He can't deal with it right now. And don't do anything stupid or I'll scatter your remains in twelve different dimensions" she threatened.
He gulped heavily and nodded, trying to remember when Raven had become so… protective of the annoying changeling.
She turned again and softly knocked. As there was no response after three times, she cautiously opened the door and floated over to the bunk bed, where the green boy lay still asleep.
Raven kneeled down beside him, affectionately ran her hand over his hair and whispered softly with a tiny smile: "Gar, wake up. Robin needs to talk to you."
Beast Boy stirred and opened his eyes. "I don't want to do more tests, Rae…" he mumbled sleepily as he sat up, still huddled in his blankets but visibly trembling.
The purple haired girl sat next to him on the bed, comfortingly holding his hand.
"It's fine. I explained him and he called the government. You won't have to run more tests" she soothed.
"What if they'll come after me anyways?" he whispered shakily. He obviously was at his limits.
"I doubt they will get past Star and Cyborg, you heard them yesterday and today. Robin won't let you get harmed either, you know how he can get when he is in protection mode. And as a last resort they still will have to deal with me, and you are the one knowing best how I can be once I'm really angry…" she smiled.
The tiniest smile showed up on his pale features as he said: "Lucky they don't know how nice and caring you are in reality…"
"Idiot…" she smirked lovingly.
Robin blushed at the scene he had witnessed. He never had seen them so intimate and never had pictured those two as… well… those two. As he noticed how their gazes locked and how Beast Boy seemed to calm down under the empaths' smile, he coughed slightly to remind them of his presence.
Both their heads turned and the changelings smile seemed to fade a notch while her smile disappeared completely. Don't screw this up, the look on her face told him, augmenting his nervousness.
"Um, hey, Beast Boy. I… um… I came to… apologize. I'm sorry I pushed you so hard without considering how you feel. Um, forgive me? Please?" he asked unsure, still standing at the door and fidgeting with his fingers.
There was a long moment filled with silence, in which Beast Boy simply looked into Robins eyes, then he finally gave him a small smile as he said: "Sure thing, Rob. You just didn't know better, so I guess it's okay; I forgive you."
The black haired boy returned the smile, feeling a heavy load lifted from his chest, and cautiously stepped closer.
"Thanks', Beast Boy" he stated, "that means a lot to me, you know. I… I'm also here to find out how we should go on. You have a lot of potential but you are obviously in much pain, so our first priority is to help you. Um, Raven?"
She nodded and turned to the changeling, explaining: "We discussed the matter and came to a suggestion. You and I will continue our work on your trauma like we did before, because you made good progresses. If you want I'll accompany you to a professional therapist too, but no one will force you. You are free to participate in missions, although as long as you are as weakened as you currently are, we propose you to first recover your body health. Cyborg has prepared a botanical remedy to help you with the nausea and Star prepared you some vegetables and tofu that actually seem to be okay. As for training sessions you can as soon as you feel like it, Robin wants to approach it with as low pressure as possible, you choose the speed. What do you think, Gar?"
Beast Boy looked at both his team members, obviously seriously thinking about the offer before he agreed.
"Sounds like a plan to me. But you'll be with me at the therapy sessions and check upon the therapist you'll choose first, wontcha Rae? You know, no white coat or something…"
"Of course I will. I'll be very considerate who I'll choose and if this person still will try something fishy he'll have to deal with me" she grinned with a visibly vicious trait in her features.
The green boys smile widened as he pushed of the blankets and hugged her, saying: "Thank you" in a soft and sweet way. To Robins' utter astonishment Raven hugged Beast Boy back, stating that there was nothing to thank for, clearly displaying a surprising happiness while her cheeks had gained a slight red tint. Raven – happy – smiling – blushing – hugging Beast Boy? There had been several surprises today, good ones and bad ones, but this one almost caused him a mental meltdown.
"Great… sooo… see you later!" he stuttered stumbling out of the room. It would take him a while to process what he had witnessed; maybe he would need to see a therapist too…
One year had passed since those faithful events, a year full of adjustments for all of them.
After the conversation in Beast Boys bedroom, Raven had taken two weeks to find the right therapist, that not only matched her high expectations but also wasn't afraid of her. Maybe it was because Dr. Brown was blind that he wasn't that intimidated by her, but nonetheless he did a great job. After seven months of weekly therapy sessions he declared that Beast Boy could handle the problem on his own now, giving him his phone number in case of emergency and wishing him a happy life. The changeling kept the number on him, but never had used it once.
He now displayed more often his high abilities, surprising his team mates every time he did, without panic attacks anymore. Somehow he even seemed to start to enjoy his intelligence, like in the current moment.
He sat in the common room on the couch, solving a Rubik's cube for the fiftieth time this afternoon, passing it after the finished task to the dark empath cuddled next to him, who riddled it again with her powers without lifting her gaze from the book she currently read in. Then she gave it back to him and he started again. Such idle moments occurred more often since they had become an item ten months ago. Of course they still fought from time to time, there would be something missing in their relationship otherwise, but the peaceful happy moments overweighed.
Robin had installed himself at the kitchen table, reading the news papers he hadn't been able this morning due to a rampaging Johnny Rancyid, glancing at the pair on the couch from time to time with a content smile. For him the biggest adjustment in this year had been stopping to push the green teen to increase his abilities. But he soon had discovered that as he praised the youngest team member instead of applying pressure, Beast Boy had started to challenge himself on his own to become stronger, faster, better. Sometimes he even had to be slowed down by his leader. Apparently the changelings' former laziness had been a form of self-protection to cope with his phobia of pressure.
In the meantime Cyborg was occupied with teaching Star playing video games. She had lost a bet against him concerning Beast Boys' and Ravens' relationship, Robin ignored what it had been exactly about. His girlfriend had her own secrets after all, and he wasn't one to push his family anymore. Plus maybe he could enjoy a video game with her another day too.
He returned to his news paper, feeling completely content with his little surrogate family safe, sane and happy.