Pet and Owner

Festering Fights

Raven entered the tower to a chorus of yelling and fighting. Levitating the groceries to the kitchen she turned a glare on the two quarreling boys but didn’t bother paying attention to them as she collected her books to put them away before taking care of the food. If they wanted to fight like idiots, she would let them. At least until it inconvenienced her of course. She sighed in a mix of irritation and relief as the doors slid closed behind her when she entered the hallway, the metal slabs blocking out the pointless yelling. She wasn’t sure what the argument was, but no doubt it was something stupid that had a lot to do with male ego. With a roll of the eyes she continued down the halls, her mind locked on the books in her bag.

The girl stopped, however, when a whimper sounded. She cast her gaze to other side of the hallway, surprised to see Beast’s emerald orbs looking back to her. Now aware of his presence the girl could sense the waves of terror simply rolling off of the boy. He was scared to death. Beast was curled up beside the wall in what was almost a fetal position, his eyes wide and horrified. The door beside him was crisscrossed with scratches, and most of his nails had been either broken off or bent. The boy was shaking where he sat, curling upon himself as if he wished for nothing more than to disappear.

The dark girl was beside the boy in an instant, caught between worry about his mental state and panic that he’d gotten out from his cell. “What happened?” She demanded, reaching to help him up with one hand and keying the security code to open the door with the other.

The boy shook as he answered, rushing into the room the instant the doors opened enough to give way to his skinny frame. “C-Cyborg l-let me out to show me around the tower, b- but I don’t think he was supposed to cause M- Ma- Robin saw me and started yelling.” Beast winced as he answered, his jumbled and terrified thoughts yelling that he wasn’t supposed to answer a Master like that, while another part argued that Raven wasn’t like other Masters. None of the Titans were. At least that was what he thought but Master Robin was so mad and he just didn’t know anymore.

The girl looked to him with one eyebrow raised, working on keeping in her fury. “Cyborg let you out?” Beast nodded. “And Robin yelled at you about it?” Another nod and the girl sighed angrily. She turned without another word, sparing a backward glance at Beast as she left. The boy looked absolutely miserable. He had resumed fetal position, sitting on a corner of his bed and burying his face in his knees as he shook in terror. This was the first time any of the Titans had yelled at him, had been angry at him for anything, He had no clue what to expect. The girl sighed once more at the pathetic sight, returning to her bags in the hallway and pulling out the small pet store bag she had stowed in the larger one from the bookstore. Making her way back to the boy’s cell he pulled out its contents.

“Beast.” She called, making the boy look up to her. She threw the ball and he caught it in both hands. “I believe that is yours.” She said before turning away and closing the door on the boy’s amazed face. Throwing the books into her room she stormed to confront the boys. Starfire had arrived at one point and was trying vainly to stop the fight, or at least discover what it was about. The argument had by then completely dissolved from its original topic and was currently nothing more than a serious of insults.

“QUIET!” Raven roared, causing all activity to completely stop. After a second of complete silence the yelling started again.

“Cyborg let Beast out and took him to the roof and even left him alone even though I-”

“Robin’s freaking out over nothing and B’ll never be able to-”

“Stop.” The Titan’s resident empath commanded and the room was quiet once more. “I don’t care what Cyborg did or what Robin did. What I want to know is, which idiot sent him back to his room all alone?” There was an awkward silence as Cyborg’s, and consequently everyone else’s, gaze turned to Robin.

The boy wonder gaped like a fish for a moment before speaking. “What happened? Did he escape?”

“Of course not.” Raven snapped. “I thought we determined two weeks ago that even if he did he would have nowhere to go. No, what he did was cower in front of the door because he had no way to open it. You terrified him.” She growled at Robin. “And you made it worse by commanding him to go to his room without bothering to see if he could even get in.”

Starfire floated nervously between the Titans. “Robin, is this true?”

“I-I guess it is.” The boy wonder admitted, scratching the back of his head nervously. Suddenly his embarrassment seemed to vanish, replaced by righteous fury. “But Cyborg snuck around our back to let the kid loose without telling anyone.”

“He was fine!” The robotic teen yelled. “He listened to me the entire time. He can’t stay in that room forever Rob.”

“Not forever, I just need to make sure he-“

“How’s he gonna gain any trust being locked in a room. He-“

“ENOUGH!” Surprisingly it was Starfire who yelled, flying between the two quarreling boys with her eyes shining in fury. “Fighting such as this is foolishness. Friends, there is truth in both your words. Cyborg should not have done the deceiving nor let B out before Robin deemed him ready. But Friend Robin, you cannot deny Friend Cyborg’s truth. If B is to gain our trust we must give him opportunities to do so and that includes allowing him to be free of his cell.”

The boys took a moment to digest Starfire’s words before both turned, pouting slightly. “I guess I’ll agree with that if you do.” Robin muttered.

Cyborg nodded. “Fine.”

Raven nodded, feeling like the mother of two quibbling siblings. “Now, I believe there is someone else you both must apologize to.”

With a final sigh both boys trailed up to the door, making their way to Beast’s room. Raven rolled her eyes as they left. “Boys,” she mumbled. Starfire made a noise of agreement and both girls made their way to the kitchen to put away the groceries.

Beast jerked to standing position as he heard the familiar sound of footsteps nearing his room. The boy winced when he recognized the steps as those of Masters Cyborg and Robin. He began to shake in fear but stopped himself. He resolved to take his punishment silently and obediently, like these masters deserved. He would do better, he promised himself. He would abide all of his training; never give them another reason to be mad. He would be the perfect Beast.

He hoped they would tell him what he did wrong though; he didn’t want to do it again. Beast would do everything possible to be the best and most obedient he’d ever been for these Masters. They were kind and gave him food and a bed and talked to him and liked it when he responded. He didn’t want to leave these Masters, didn’t want to be sold.

What if he made them so mad that they decided that he wasn’t worth it? What if they didn’t want him anymore? He didn’t think whatever he had done today could have made them that upset, but what about the next time he did something wrong? Or the next? How far could their patience bend before they got tired of him and sold him like everyone else did? How would he be able to face a new, probably cruel and harsh, Master after feeling the grace of these ones? That one thought scared him more than any punishment could: the thought of leaving. So he squared his shoulders and stilled his trembling, facing the door ready to accept anything they could dish out.

He really wished they would tell him what he had done wrong though. He thought he had been doing so well too. He’d listened to Master Cyborg the whole time, done whatever he was told to do even if it seemed against his nature. Maybe he hadn’t been good enough at that game. Maybe he hadn’t heard Master Cyborg the first time he called for him to stop being a bird. Maybe… Maybe… He didn’t know. He really hoped they would tell him.

The door swished open and Robin and Cyborg entered seeming a lot less angry than they had been. In fact, they seemed almost contrite. Cyborg was rubbing the back of his head apologetically. “Hey B. You can, uh, sit down if you want.”

Beast hastened to obey. He didn’t want to upset his Masters even more. The robotic Titan sighed. “Look B, we’re sorry.” Beast’s head shot up, his mouth openly gaping as surprise overwhelmed his training. No Master had ever apologized to him before. And certainly not right after yelling. Not after he’d done something wrong. His amazement multiplied when Robin followed suit.

“Yeah, sorry I jumped on you like that and sent you back here without telling you how to get in.”

Cyborg nodded. “I shoulda told ya I hadn’t told Robin about any of this. I didn’t think he’d get back so early.”

Beast hadn’t moved. He’d frozen in space, his mouth still wide and gaping and still looking like the world had turned upside down. Which it had. He’d expected to be yelled at and punished only for, yet again, the rug to be pulled out from under him as the Masters did something completely different. They were looking at him expectantly, as though waiting for him to say something. What did you say when someone apologized? Whenever he apologized for doing something wrong his Masters would just say ‘not good enough’ and start beating him. Somehow, he didn’t think that would be the right response in this situation.

He was spared having to come up with a response when the alarm sounded. Robin and Cyborg jumped to their feet, running out and nearly forgetting to close the door behind them. As they left Beast curled upon himself, pressing his hands to his ears until the noise stopped. He hated that alarm. Hated it, hated it. His masters always left when it sounded, leaving him all alone. Were he with any other Masters he would consider it a mercy, but just like with everything else, these were different.

Sometimes they would come back smelling of explosives, or oil, or muck, or blood. Sometimes the sounds of their walking would give evidence of injury. Always the injuries were cared for by Master Raven and the limps gone in a day, but he still didn’t like it. He loved the stories he was told the next day, the excitement of victories and triumphs, but that was the thing. When he was being told the stories the Titans were home. Safe and victorious and usually only a little worse for wear. When the alarm rang he had no promise of their safe return, and even when he was most terrified, he found the thought of losing one of these kind Masters scared him even more. He could almost completely forget about the day’s earlier terror.

In the fifteen days he had stayed with these Masters he had come to dread these alarms more than anything else. Perhaps if he could help, could be there fighting with them as he had been trained to do, he wouldn’t worry so much. But he wasn’t there. He was here. Waiting.

Shaking his head he reached under his bed to pull out the new ball. He felt much more comfortable playing with it knowing that none of his Masters were angry at him anymore. He shifted into bobcat, his tufted ears pointed and primed for the most minute sound, and softly padded the ball back and forth like a cat playing with yarn. Even as he played he kept each and every sense keenly attuned to the door, waiting for a sound, any sound. For hours there was nothing, the afternoon faded into night in complete silence. When he finally heard a door open, the one to the main room he guessed, he jumped to his feet, glad to know that his Masters were back. However, when his tense and hypersensitive ears distinguished the sounds his heart dropped in horror. Only three people had entered the tower. When the sounds got more distinctive still it dropped even farther. Those weren’t his Masters.

When the alarm rang and the Titan boys ran for the main room, the girls were halfway out the door, ready for action. “Hurry friends,” Starfire called as she flew out a window. “The three from the Hive have nearly emptied the local bank of its monetary value.”

With that the boys were on the way to the garage to grab their respected vehicles. Fights with the Hive kids were always interesting. They were never truly in it for the money, instead they seemed to have some sort of personal vendetta against the Titans because their defeat at their first meeting had made them lose out on some big opportunity with psychopathic super villain Slade. If you asked Robin, the Titans had did the three a favor by keeping them away, but villains rarely listened to heroes.

As it was, in battles against the Hive the original clash was almost always an ambush, taking out one of the Titans and making it an even three on three. Even in numbers at least. When it came to skill the Titans had the Hive beat 75% of the time. However, that other 25% was killer.

And so, when Cyborg, that night’s unfortunate ambush victim, awoke he woke to a crumbling street and three other Titans who looked just as down for the count as he had been. His limbs had been strewed all over the ground, his arm cannon lying completely empty of fuel. No doubt that little punk Gizmo had hotwired it to make himself a weapon. Robin was struggling to escape a steel construction cage Jinx had cursed to trap him. Starfire was looking woozy, as though she had taken a Mammoth blow to the head, and Raven was currently working on using her powers to dig herself out of a huge pile of rubble, aware that if she worked too quickly and moved the wrong piece half of a building would crumble on top of her.

Cyborg grimaced at the sight of the carnage, but it wasn’t anything that hadn’t happened before. Later they would challenge the Hive again, win, and kick them out of the tower they had likely commandeered. As his thoughts glanced over the word tower he faltered, turning to where the giant T had already been altered to form an H. Maybe there was something new about the situation after all. He turned a terrified gaze to his fellow trapped Titans, jerking his head to the giant H in the distance. “B’s still in there.”

Inside the tower’s main room there was a very different atmosphere than on the street below. The Hive Three (Man, we gotta get two more members or something, the Hive Five would sound so much cooler.) were celebrating their victory. Mammoth had already emptied the cabinets of all the groceries Raven had spent the morning buying and was working his way through the blue colored junk in the fridge. He was slightly put out by the random inclusion of several tofu dishes but paid them little mind as he shoveled everything into his maw. It all ends up in the same place after all.

Jinx, who had long since given up finding anything fashionable in the Titan’s tower, had just found a closet and dresser full of black and purple and was giving it a thorough rampage. Gizmo was entertaining himself by going through the Titan’s computer, deleting high scores and trying to decode all the firewalls that Robin and Cyborg had put up. It was then that he noticed something of interest.

“Woah!” The tiny boy exclaimed, his eyes locked on the computer.

Mammoth grunted what may have been a question had his mouth not been full of the blue creature that attacked whenever someone opened the fridge. Couple of bites and it was gone, Mammoth back in the fridge to see if there had been another.

“What?” Jinx asked, holding up a pair of black jeans. “Do you think these are a guys?”

The short tech-prodigy ignored the girl’s question, instead pointing to the computer screen showing the Tower schematics. One of the rooms was lit, underneath read the words: Containment cell 1-A. In use. Gizmo grinned.

“They’ve got a prisoner.”

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