Beast’s improvement skyrocketed after that night. As he tested his boundaries more and more he began to realize just how lax these Masters were, how much they liked it when he went against his old training. Of course, it helped that was let out of his room more and more often. He was with at least one of the Titans almost the entire day, training or not, and was mostly in his cell only to sleep or when the Titans left to fight.
Robin said that maybe someday Beast would be allowed to fight with them. It made him excited and he worked much harder in training because of it. Every other day they found themselves in the gym, practicing, training, and testing their strength. Specifically Beast’s. Just like any other Master, the Titans were curious about the extent of his strength and just what he could do. However, while the training was strenuous it wasn’t as grueling or torturous as it had been before the Titans. In fact, as he grew more and more comfortable with the Titans he sometimes even had fun. It was in training, about five days after he decided to take risks, that he went out on a limb and finally made a joke with someone other than Cyborg.
Master Robin had told him that they were testing his avian forms that day and Beast was flying around the training area, the machines creating a makeshift obstacle course and he shifted to avoid them. Robin would continually call out bird names, making Beast shift and have to alter his course to account for his different size and wingspan. Every once in a while Raven, who was practicing levitating several small objects at a time, would place obstacles in his path. It wasn’t until Robin called for a small break that the joke occurred to him.
Taking a deep breath Beast turned into a parrot and called out a bird of his own. “Raven!” He cawed, turning into the dark bird for a second as the purple-haired Titan looked to him. He cawed once and turned back into the parrot, calling out the title of another avian. “Duck!” And he swooped low towards the empath, diving down so low in his mallard form that Raven had to crouch down to avoid his swooping wings.
When the girl was standing straight again Beast stood beside her, human once more. A huge grin was upon his lips, the boy seemed exceedingly proud of his pun, but Raven could sense the wary and nervous tension tumbling in his mind as he waited for the girl’s reaction. Cyborg was snickering by the weights as Starfire asked a surprised Robin to explain why Beast had seemingly tried to attack Raven, but the green boy only had eyes for her.
The dark girl rolled her eyes. “You aren’t funny.” She deadpanned, and Beast cringed slightly before noticing the content not-smile on the girl’s lips, telling him it was okay. The boy brightened slightly.
“Yeah, sorry. That was a fowl one.” He said, his grin strengthening as he moved his eyes-brows up and down in an excited manner. Raven only scowled in response before moving away.
“I repeat, not funny.”
But Beast’s grin only broadened.
On the days they didn’t train the Titans would almost always watch a movie during or after dinner, depending on whether or not a villain had kept them out late. Beast had gradually grown more and more comfortable as he sat surrounded by all of his Masters. Slowly relaxing and allowing his emotions to flow more freely. Finally, about a week into the movie nights, he reached for a piece of popcorn without having been offered the bowl. He made sure that Cyborg was watching as he grabbed the snack, showing that he wasn’t trying to get away with anything or steal food, but after he had grabbed the corn Cyborg simply smiled again and after Beast tentatively returned the look the two resumed watching the movie.
When they were neither training nor watching movies, Beast usually followed whichever Master had released him from his room that day. Sometimes he chatted in the kitchen with Starfire or relaxed as a cat beside a meditating Raven. He was happy with the Titans in his- his home, so relieved to be there that he cared not what he was doing. However, his favorite thing to do was play video games with Cyborg or Robin. It was fun and it was challenging, but it was also completely novel. He had never done anything similar to playing video games before and therefore the game playing brought up no frightening or painful memories.
In fact, the memories and mental scars previously consuming him were continually being shoved farther and farther back into his mind, overshadowed by his new and comfortable life. Oh, they were still there, festering and plaguing his dreams, but they no longer frequented his waking moments. The Titans noticed it as well. Where in the beginning he would revert back to a prone and trembling mess a few times a day, the frequencies lessoned until it was only once a day, then every other day, then every once in a blue moon.
Certain things still set him off, but not so many as before. To the Titan’s confusion he seemed to stiffen whenever Robin mention the call he’d made to his mentor, flinching outright whenever the leader mentioned calling him back or wondering aloud why he had yet to get a reply. However, when asked Beast would day nothing, either changing the subject or simply remaining silent.
Other than these slight and infrequent lapses, the boy was making tremendous progress towards shaking off the fetters of his old Masters and becoming… well, he would never be normal, but the closest to it he could be. Robin was the most shocked at the speed of Beast’s success, especially after how worried he’d been at first, when it seemed to be taking so long. In fact, to the other Titans’ surprise he was the one to suggest the next step to giving the boy freedoms. It was a training day, after the work was over but before dinner and Cyborg had just been laying down a big slab of beef for dinner when Beast had timidly walked up to him and sniffed at the meat before saying, ever so softly.
“Meat is bad.”
Cyborg was so taken aback that he looked like he’d been knocked off of his feet. “What did you say?”
“Meat is bad.” But that time the boy smiled timidly and Cyborg began to grin.
“Nah, you just don’t have any taste buds kid.” He teased.
“How can you eat that? I turn into cows, it’s like you’re eating me.”
Cyborg took a humongous bite of the now cooked steak. “Then you’re delicious!”
Beast, as well as many of the other Titans, scrunched his nose in disgust. “You’re gross.” He stated before tucking into his own salad. Cyborg cast the room a grin before digging in himself.
When he had taken the boy back to his room he emerged into the main room complaining loudly.
“I don’t like it.”
“What is it that grieves you?” Starfire asked, gazing at her friend worriedly.
“B. I know he’s making good progress and all- I mean, he was even teasing me and joking around at dinner- but I still feel like we’re forcing him too much, like he doesn’t have the freedom to choose what he wants to do, or at least doesn’t know he has it.”
Robin nodded with the air of someone whose thoughts had been in the same place. “I’ve been thinking about that too. We’re either making him stay in his room or forcing him to do what we’re doing. I think he’s progressed enough that if we gave him the chance he would be able to choose for himself.”
“What are you proposing we do?” Raven intoned, setting down her book and nearing the group. Robin turned to Cyborg.
“Tomorrow, after you give him his breakfast, don’t wait for him to finish like normal. Instead, leave after giving it to him, and leave the door open. We’ll see what he does from there.”
“I don’t know Rob, wouldn’t it be easier just to tell him he has free reign of the place?”
Raven spoke, cutting off whatever the Boy wonder’s answer may have been. “No, Robin is right. If we tell him to come and go as he pleases he’ll see it as an order and nothing will have been gained. He must discover the freedom for himself in order for it to truly be freedom.”
Cyborg had no reply to that, so he said nothing and the next morning the robotic teen left a large plate, heaped high with waffles, butter, and syrup, in the green Boy’s room and left with barely a parting word. The door stood open behind him.
Beast was half-way through breakfast before he noticed, but when he did he froze. Completely and utterly froze, a full fork an inch away from his open and food-filled mouth as a trail of syrup slowly drizzled down his chin. He remained that way for a long time before slowly and nervously finishing his meal, his gaze never turning from the open door. Had Cyborg expected him to follow? But he hadn’t said anything. He must have just forgotten to close it; that was all.
Finally the boy finished the meal, gently laying the plate in the sink and returning his gaze to the door. Every once in a while a Titan would pass his cage, going to and from the main room, but none looked his way. No one seemed to notice the open door.
It took a long while for him to relax enough to get out a ball, even longer for him to start tossing it to himself, and longer still to turn his eyes from the entrance and start playing fetch with himself as he usually did when alone. That being said it was almost lunchtime before he began to truly relax and play like normal. The ball was flying and bouncing around the room, ricocheting off walls as he caught it in various animal forms. It was only a matter of time before the green boy missed and it went flying out the open door.
Beast crouched in front of the door in horror, watching the ball as it began to slowly roll back. His heart nearly beating out of his chest as he prayed it would make its way back into the room. He groaned in despair and frustration when the ball stopped halfway in the hall. Still the boy didn’t move, frozen in horror. He couldn’t just go get it, couldn’t just leave his cell without a Masters order. It simply wasn’t done. Except in an emergency of course. But…. But his ball was right there! It was feet away, he wouldn’t even have to actually leave the room, just reach out an arm. The Titans weren’t there, no one would no. His gaze turned back to the security camera. But he was sure that they’d stopped watching that weeks ago.
Slowly, with a heavily shaking arm he broke the pane of the room, reaching for his ball. Everything was silent; no alarms sounded when he reached out, no Titans stormed the room. However, that did nothing to calm the boy’s nerves and by the time he’d leaned out enough to reach the ball his hand was shaking so much that rather than grabbing the ball, he accidentally knocked it farther away.
Beast whined deep in the back of his throat as the ball rolled towards the door separating the hall from the main room. He watched in horror as it slipped farther away. Once again he froze in a crouched position, his eyes locked on the small bit of blue rubber. Finally he began to slowly creep out of the room, horror consuming his stomach as he made his way past testing the boundaries and bending what’s right or wrong, it was going straight into what had always been forbidden. Finally he made it, grasping the ball as he prepared to dart back into his room, only to freeze in horror as the door to the main room slid open, revealing Cyborg in his robotic glory. Beast whimpered and curled upon himself, terrified in ways he hadn’t been in weeks.
In the main room there had been a constant stream of Beast’s cell, each Titan alternating between watching Beast’s reaction and their own everyday activities. It wasn’t looking good. The kid wasn’t responding as well as they’d hoped. Finally, about half an hour after they normally would have had lunch Cyborg couldn’t take watching the kid crouch in the doorway looking for his ball anymore. He grabbed a tray, heaped it high with food and making his way to the kid. He didn’t care what Robin and Raven said about ‘figuring out freedoms’ or whatever. All he knew that B was terrified. Again. And he had to stop it.
He paused in shock when the door slid open to reveal Beast in the center of the hallway, crouched around his ball. B took one glance at the Titan before whimpering and curling into a ball. Cyborg sighed mentally but decided to go with Robin and Raven’s plan. For now. He smiled and knelt down beside the boy, moving to ruffle the kid’s hair only to stop as the kid flinched away from the movement. The robotic man shook his head; if Robin made this kid worse he would have to answer to one angry semi-robot.
“Hey B,” He said softly, kindly. “What are you doing down there? It’s almost lunchtime. Your plate from breakfast is still in your room, right?”
Beast glanced up timidly at the kind tone, accepting Cyborg’s hand when the Titan offered it. He was silent as the larger teen led him to his room and picked up the plate, leaving Beast to eat his lunch. However, as Cyborg acted as though nothing was wrong, Beast followed the example, going with the Titan as he left the room that time and the night proceeded as normal. Until bedtime that is, when Cyborg once again left the door wide open.
The next day started out much like the one before, with Cyborg leaving Beast alone in the room after handing over his breakfast. However, this time when a Titan walked past the room, Robin as it happened to be, Beast left the room of his own violation and watched the Titan carefully for any anger, any surprise. There was none. No one seemed to notice that he’d left the room on his own, and if anything their smiles were even larger.
At first it was little different than before. He still latched on a certain Titan and followed them around, and always retreated to his room at night or during an attack when the Titans weren’t home. Then one day they came back and he came out to greet them. The next night he’d been curled up on the couch waiting for them to return. One night Starfire had woken for a glass of water and had glanced inside his cell, only to find that he wasn’t there. He was sleeping in the bottom bunk of the room with his clothes.
Sometimes rather than following one Titan for most of the day he inexplicably switched to a different one. Eventually he started playing video games or watching television by himself and at times he would ask one of the other Titans to play a game with him. Soon he and Cyborg were playing catch (honestly more like fetch) in the halls per the boy’s request. Sometimes he wouldn’t be following or playing with any of the Titans, just relaxing by himself. Often these times found him leaning against a window pane, looking out to the sunny ocean and wide open skies with longing in his eyes. He never said anything about it though. He was content, happy even, with his life. Happier than he had ever been before, he wouldn’t dream of asking for anything to change. The Titans still noticed.
Starfire was the first to act upon it though, floating up to Robin on a particularly nice evening. “Shall we perhaps go out to the roof and play the ball of volley?” she turned back to look at Beast, once again leaning against the glass pane. “All of us?”
Robin glanced at the boy, following Starfire’s gaze. It was about time they let him out in the sun for a while. The kid was part animal for crying out loud, it was probably killing him to be cooped up inside all of the time. He hadn’t left the tower since his brief escapade with Cyborg weeks ago, and who knew how long they’d been out that day. Cyborg refused to tell them what they’d done, convinced that Robin would be upset.
If they were playing a game it would be easy to keep an eye on the kid, make sure he didn’t do anything stupid. And the boy wonder couldn’t say no to Star, not when she was giving him those eyes. The brightly-colored teen smiled. “Sure Star, go on and set up the net, I’ll get everyone to meet on the roof.”
The girl squealed and clasped her hands, rushing up the stairs. Beast had looked over at the word roof, though he turned away the instant Robin looked at him, trying not to seem like he’d been eavesdropping. Robin smiled, calling out to the room at large that they were having a volleyball game on the roof. Cyborg jumped up immediately, Beast mirroring him, and began trash talking. Raven rolled her eyes.
“C’mon Raven!” Cyborg implored. “At least come up and referee or something.” The girl sighed but closed her book and followed the rest of the Titans made their way outside. Beast paused as the cool wind brushed against his face, relishing in the sunlight on his skin and fresh air in his lungs. Cyborg smiled grimly at the boy and shared a look with the frowning Robin, their thoughts identical as they saw the kid’s joy. They should have done this a long time ago. The moment was broken as Starfire yelled.
“Friends! The net is set and we may begin our recreation!”
Robin chuckled slightly. “Alright, since Raven doesn’t want to play I guess we’ll play doubles.” He saw Beast’s brow furrow in confusion, counting off the Titans before realizing that the boy wonder was including him, after which an enormous smile erupted across his face as he moved over to stand on the court besides Starfire. He looked both ways along the perimeter and the net.
“How do you play?” He asked, cocking his head to Robin. Cyborg smiled as the boy wonder began to explain the rules. A few weeks ago Beast wouldn’t have dared to ask a question outright, and even if he would he certainly wouldn’t have asked Robin, who intimidated him. It was the little things that helped him realize just how far the kid had come. That realization strengthened when Beast asked if powers were allowed in the game, when previously the subject was treated as an absolute taboo.
That night was a vicious and long battle of a white ball sailing across the net. The games went slowly at first, as Beast struggled to learn, but by the end of the night each Titan was at wit’s end trying to outplay the other teams, teams that changed each game.
After that night a new tradition was added, and Beast was taken to the roof at least once a week to play something. Raven, who often went to the rocks at the island’s edge to meditate, found herself allowing the green boy to lay beside her as a cat and soak in the rays as she relaxed. Starfire would invite the boy to go flying with her, under the supervision of at least one other Titan, something that Cyborg found inexplicably hilarious.
Soon they had found almost all of his mental triggers and snuffed them out, until nothing of the old seemed to affect the boy. All of them, it seemed, but one. But the Titans would discover that only a week after playing the first Volley ball match, once Robin finally got a reply from his mentor. Batman had several suspects about who may be Beast’s old masters, from free criminals, to jailbirds, to bodies in cemeteries. All he needed was the kid to confirm their identities. He didn’t have a complete list at the moment, but at least this way he could know that he’d gotten some of them right. Beast had just strolled into the main room as Robin was about to end the call, headed for the kitchen.
“B!” Robin called, for none of them called him Beast anymore. The boy turned at his voice.
“What’s up?” He asked, the novelty of speaking to the Titan so casually still causing a shiver to run down his spine.
Robin gestured to the imposing figure on the screen. “This is Batman, my mentor. I called him a few weeks ago-“ Beast shuddered, an action missed by neither of the detectives- “and he’s been trying to find your old, uh, owners to arrest them but he needs help identifying them. I’ve been planning on sending you to him so that you can help.”
Beast looked like he’d been hit by a truck. He was completely tense and frozen, his eyes widening in horror and for a long moment everything was still. “B?” Robin asked in concern, taking a step near the terrified boy even as Batman leaned forward in his chair.
Slowly one of Beast’s hands rose to brush the unused collar that still hung around his neck, his voice coming out as a scant whisper when he finally spoke. “You’re selling me?” He breathed, horror dripping off of every word and Robin stepped back, dread pooling in his stomach.
“O- of course not!” He cried, suddenly understanding why the boy was always so jumpy when they talked about the phone call. “No no no! W-we aren’t selling you! I promise! There was absolutely no money or anything!”
But Beast just whimpered, long buried fears suddenly becoming uprooted in his mind. “You’re just giving me away?” How could this happen? He’d done what he was told, obeyed all of the rules, made his Masters happy, he had done everything right but they were still getting rid of him. Not only that but they were so eager to wash their hands of the shapefshifter that they were willing to just give him away, despite his rather substantial value. This was all his fault! He had done something wrong, what was it? They were going to make him leave and he didn’t even know why. Almost immediately his mind was thrown back, far from the boy he was becoming and back into the mind of the beast he once was. “H-have I not pleased you Ma- Robin?” Great, he’d nearly misspoke. Another mistake.
“No no, that not- of course you’ve pleased us, it’s just… It isn’t permanent or anything, he just needs your help in the investigation like he’s borrowing- no, not borrowing cause you aren’t property- he’s just… you’re just going to help him for a little while then-“ Robin sighed. Beast was still looking at him with those large, agonized eyes with that broken expression, so much like that first night. He’d messed up with the ‘master’ thing too, first time in months. Robin looked back to the screen, noticing that Batman had his concerned-scowl on under the mask. The boy wonder sighed once more, praying that he hadn’t just undone months of building the little guy’s trust.
“Never mind B, forget any of this ever happened for now. Just… just go find Cyborg.” The green boy nodded emphatically and practically ran out of the room, making Robin collapse to the chair and press a hand against his mask in exasperation. The mentor and protégé said nothing for a good, long moment. Finally Robin spoke. “I guess he wasn’t as far along as I thought. He’s not going to be ready for this for a while apparently.”
The dark knight grunted in agreement, a full scowl on his face. “I don’t think he’ll really trust an arrangement like this until that collar is off.”
Robin sighed. “I know, but I’m not ready to take it off yet. Not when he can go from normal kid to… to that in less than a minute.”
Once again an agreeing grunt. Suddenly alarms bathed the batcave in flashing colors and without a so much as goodbye, Batman was gone, leaving Robin with nothing to do but deal with the mentally scarred green kid in the garage. When he entered he found a despondent Beast Boy sitting in the passenger seat of the T-car as a worried Cyborg tried to coax him into talking in more than the one to two word answers to his questions. Robin winced, it was just like old times and it was all his fault. Cyborg glared at the boy wonder the moment he entered.
“B, go play with Star for a bit.”
Immediately the boy disappeared, looking back once with terror as he left. Cyborg continued to glare at the Titan leader. “What did you do?”
Robin groaned. “Batman called back. He found some people who might be it, but needed B to make sure. The kid came in during the call so I tried to introduce him and tell him that he was going to go to Gotham to help but he… kinda freaked out.”
“Freaked out how?”
“He thought we were selling him.”
Cyborg growled and began to throttle a nearby crowbar as Robin continued. “When I tried to convince him otherwise I kinda… worded it wrong and he thought we were planning on just giving him away because he didn’t ‘please’ us enough.”
Cyborg began to growl and pace. “No wonder the kid was actin’ so weird. He thinks he’s messed up and is trying to fix it by doing the only thing he knows has worked in the past and going back to- to Beast!”
“He doesn’t realize we’re trying to make him something more than a pet.”
“Of course he doesn’t Robin! I can barely tell he isn’t a pet!”
“What do you mean? We don’t treat him anything like his other masters did.”
“Yeah, we don’t treat him like they did, like a slave or weapon or something, but that doesn’t change that we treat him like he’s our pet!”
“What are you-“
“Think about it Rob! We feed him, give him water, take care of him, make sure he’s clean, we’ll play with him, take him out to the backyard- or roof- and play games with him. If we’re all busy we’ll just ignore him and leave him to his own devises. We teach him new tricks in the training room. He greets us when we come home and is waiting by the door as we leave. If I heard anyone else say that I’d assume they were talking about the family dog! He even has a collar still for crying out loud.”
“Yeah, yeah, you don’t wanna take the collar off. I understand that, but when are we going to make the transition from pet to Titan, cause the longer he’s our pet the harder it’s gonna be.”
“Fine, let’s just throw him out there the next time we face a super villain.”
“That’s not what I meant and you know it!”
“Then what do you suppose we do? ‘Cause I just saw a months of hard work go right out the window during one stupid video chat!”
Cyborg sighed, shaking his head slowly. “The kid needs to get out more Robin. Actually out of the tower, not just taking him to the roof. How can he fight for the people of Jump if he’s never seen any of them? We were planning on going out for pizza Friday, right? Now, he’s coming with us.”
Robin sighed. “So now we’re taking the dog out for walkies?” He smirked and Cyborg chuckled softly. “I guess taking him to the city would have been the next logical step anyways.”
Robin sighed once more and looked guiltily back to the door where Beast had just disappeared. Cyborg clasped a large hand onto his shoulder. “As for the whole ‘months of work out the window’ thing I wouldn’t worry too much. He was a little freaked, but he’ll be fine. Besides, I’m pretty sure the girls are together. Raven’ll calm him down and Star’ll make him be happy again.”
“I guess you’re right. Come on, let’s go and clear this whole mess up.”
When the finally found the three they were on the roof, flying together. Raven swooped down upon the two the instant the door opened, glaring. “What did you do?”
Cyborg lifted his hands in surrender. “It was Robin’s fault! Not mine!”
The girl turned her glare to the spiky-haired teen. “Then you can explain why he was convinced we were giving him away. I just calmed him down.”
“It was just a misunderstanding, he-“ But the boy stopped when he saw that the other two had finally noticed his and Cyborg’s arrival. Starfire quickly landed on the roof beside Raven, Beast landing as well and dwelling nervously along the back of the group. Robin immediately zeroed in on the shape shifter.
“B. Listen to me.” He hated how the boy’s ears perked to utmost attention at the command. “I wasn’t trying to sell you, or give you away. I’m not going to make you leave. When was the last time any of us made you do something you didn’t want to do?”
“Never.” Beast mumbled after a moment of silence.
“Right. We aren’t going to get rid of you the second it becomes convenient. You aren’t the mindless weapon you were taught to be. I thought we had already proved that we weren’t like your other Masters.”
“You have.” The boy answered once again.
“Then you have to trust me. You’re here with us for the long run.”
A small smile began to steal across Beast’s lips, the grin growing larger and larger as he found no hint of lie or deception in the Titan’s eyes. Finally it strengthened into his broadest grin and the boy nodded excitedly.
“Good.” Robin said, satisfied. “And don’t worry about going to Gotham. You don’t have to go for a while. Also, this Friday-“
Before the Titan could finish the tower erupted into noise and light as the alarm sounded and without another word Beast was heralded into the tower as the Titans scattered, leaving the boy alone in the tower once more as they went to save the people of Jump.
Things were completely back to normal as Friday rolled around, Beast sitting in front of the TV idly watching a vegetarian cooking show and trying to ignore the sounds of the Titans preparing to leave the tower. He only acknowledged it when Cyborg moved in front of the television, grinning broadly for reasons the green boy couldn’t understand. Well, maybe he could. It must be nice to leave the tower every once in a while, go out to the city and see normal people.
Not that Beast would ever complain of course. He’d been granted even more freedoms over the past few days. Two days ago Raven had left him asleep on the rocks alone, and yesterday Robin made Starfire come in while they were playing on the roof but let him stay up, once again alone. Beast had actually dared to go out to the roof alone to sunsoak earlier that day and when Cyborg saw him he didn’t say anything! Oh yeah, speaking of Cyborg he was currently blocking the TV, smiling like a maniac. Beast grinned and leaned back against the couch.
“We’re going out for pizza for dinner.” He said, as if it was the best news in the world. Beast, who was anticipating a night alone with only the TV for company, didn’t share the temperament.
“Sweet. Have fun. Are you bringing me something back or do I have to try out one of these recipes?”
Cyborg’s grin strengthened. “Neither! You’re coming with us.”
Beast gaped for a moment. “I- I’m going with you?” The robotic Titan nodded, Beast still watching him incredulously. “To the Pizza place.” Another nod. “In the city.” Yet another. After another second or two of gaping Beast whooped and jumped to his feet, rushing to his room to change out of his training outfit into something more appropriate for his first city visit.
Cyborg chuckled as he watched the boy run off, especially when Raven sulked it a moment later and sat back on the couch with a groan. “There’s too much happy. I’m getting a headache.”
Cyborg simply laughed, grinning broadly as Beast ran into the room a moment later, Starfire and Robin hot on his heels. The boy’s first visit to the pizza parlor passed without incident, he was so excited that his was practically bouncing on in his seat, and didn’t even comment of Cyborg’s double decker Meat lover’s pizza, despite the pair’s meat/veggie debate that had become usual at meals.
The next few visits went much the same and Beast found that as more time passed the more non-pizza-related trips they took. The day after the fourth trip to the Pizza parlor Starfire ordered him into wearing a blindfold. In all actuality it wasn’t the first time one of his Masters had done that, he’d had many a day set to testing his skills without sight. However, if her grin was anything to go by, this wasn’t some spontaneous training. The alien herded all of the teens into the car, refusing to let Beast know where they were going, though the rest of the Titans seemed to know. When the vehicle finally stopped Beast made a move to remove the blindfold, but a yell from the rest of the Titans stopped him and the green boy remained sightless until he was actually out of the car.
His nose and ears twitched as years of training kicked in and he took stock of his surroundings. Wherever it was there were people everywhere. He could smell sweat, shampoos and soap, and a whole assortment of different foods. Laughter and the sounds of balls and Frisbees hitting the soft flesh of hands intermixed with chattering and… the rustle of leaves? His nose flaring once more the boy noticed a hint of grass and nature under the scents of humans. His mind stuttered in confusion and disbelief until Starfire yanked the blindfold off with a bright “Ta-da!”.
Beast froze, eyeing the scene in shock. In front of him stood a large expanse of green grass, beautiful and meeting with a clear blue sky. People milled all around at wooden tables and grills, children played with balls and Frisbees and dogs. A playground stood in a corner, filled with happily babbling children. Yet Beast’s eyes were not of the food, nor the play equipment, not any of the people, but his gaze was catching every tree, each bush and flower, leading up to the forest as he breathed in deeper and deeper, coveting the clear scent of nature his instincts excelled in which he had been denied so often in life.
He had forgotten of the Titans standing behind him until Starfire spoke. “We thought you would enjoy a day at the park to partake in the out- cooking and playing of games.”
Beast said nothing more for a moment, eyeing the green of the trees and grass and scenting the surrounding nature. Then he whirled, overcome by excitement and threw his arms around Starfire in a hug that would have been bone crushing for any non-tamaranian. Suddenly the boy froze, his heart fluxing in his chest in insecurity. He had never initiated contact with a Master before. He had long since stopped being afraid of the Titans, but he still was unsure of what-
His thoughts stopped abruptly as Starfire returned the hug with double his enthusiasm and all oxygen to his brain stopped. “Oh, joyous!” She cried as she released the boy with a grin. “Come, let us commence in the fun having!”
Beast was deaf to her words, practically vibrating with excitement that so intense that it gave Raven a headache. The girl sighed, a hint of fondness hidden beneath a veil of frustration. “The games can wait. Let him go explore first.”
Not even Robin bothered to protest that Beast would be wandering in his element alone, and the green boy whirled on the girl. Whether it was the positive response he had gotten from hugging Starfire or simply a moment of extreme stupidity, the boy flung his arms around the purple haired empath with a bright grin upon his face. Raven stiffened and each of the Titans gave a sharp intake of breath, warily eyeing the pair, Starfire was barely able to get away with hugging her, and they’d switched brains once. Beast tensed as well, as though sensing something was wrong.
Still, the boy lasted three full seconds longer than anyone would guess before being encased in dark magic and thrown at a tree, and despite Raven’s warning not to touch her again, her eyes remained amused as without pause the child turned into a squirrel and clambered up the tree, flying off into the woods as he reached the higher branches.
Unfortunately the trip was cut short as the Titans were called away to fight some magician robbing a jewelry store. Cyborg ordered B to fly back to the tower and wait for them there while they protected the city, much to the boy’s disappointment. However, the next time an outing was interrupted by the communicators ringing in alarm it was the Hive three looting the museum. Robin glanced at Beast, eager and experienced with fighting these particular foes. And even while the green boy was expecting to hear the command “go” Robin said “come, fight”.