Quailing in Questioning
Robin growled at the police commissioner before him. Usually the man was very helpful to the Titans¸ but today he was determined not to let them leave with Beast.
“Robin, I think we should just put him in jail. I know you say that he was just following orders, but so are a lot of henchmen. With the battle it looks like he gave you, I don’t want to risk letting a violent criminal go because of a simple mistake.”
“I understand, but trust me. When we were fighting he stopped immediate after I got the remote. I don’t we should consider him a villain any more than when we catch a trained guard dog, but I won’t know until I can question him properly.”
“And why can’t you do it at the station?”
“Because if I’m right then I want to keep him at the tower for observation and to see if we can get him to work for us.”
“But you can’t just-“
An officer ran up with a large file in his hand. “Sir, we have found the warehouse’s file room and I found a file on the green boy.”
“Good.” The commissioner nodded, taking the folder from the other man.
“But sir, it’s strange. He wasn’t in the files about accomplices or security or even anything to do with customers. He was listed as… a weapon. An asset for sale. Actually, according to the shipping book a potential buyer was coming in tomorrow to look at him.”
Robin grinned and the commissioner half gaped, half glared at the man. “See? Just like a weapon, he’s only dangerous if a villain has him. Even if he is hostile, we have plenty of cells at the tower. Does the jail even have precautions set in place that can hold a shape shifter?”
The commissioner and the officer shared a glance, and that was the end of that discussion. Robin took the file from the officer’s hand. “I’ll send you a copy of this later.”
He turned, his cape billowing out behind him as left the room, leaving the commissioner staring blankly after him. Robin’s cycle tore through the streets of Jump as the Titan raced to his tower home. He, ever the law abiding citizen, stopped at the red lights, pulling out the file any time he was forced to stop. When he finally reached the tower he pulled out the papers again and read as much as he could as he walked to the commons room, skipping to any information that seemed immediately relevant. The more he read, the less he liked.
He made it to the common room to see Cyborg pacing nervously. “Finally man! Where were ya?”
“Sorry, it took me a minute. Where are the girls?”
“I think they’re both waiting in the observation room, Raven might be meditating there.”
Robin nodded and flipped through the papers, “Is the shape shifter already there?”
“Yeah, he’s in the chair and everything. And we better hurry up and get this started before Starfire succumbs to the urge to hug the poor kid. He looks terrified.”
Robin ‘hmm’-ed discontentedly as he glanced across a rather nasty looking picture of a scar in the file. He began walking to the interrogation room. “Did you and Raven take care of his wounds?”
“Yeah, she didn’t touch the one on his side though, so that could take a while to heal. I found him something to eat and Star ran to the store to get some clothes. He looks a lot better but...”
Robin nodded silently as they stopped in front of the room. He glanced at the door and sighed. He didn’t want to treat the boy like a common criminal, but he knew that it was probably the best way to get information. Though if the files were right then it wasn’t likely that the boy would hide anything from him, no matter how he conducted the questioning. He shared a glance with Cyborg.
“You’ve been taking care of him for a while, what do you think? Should I go in alone or would he respond better with you in the room?”
Cyborg glanced at the door, concern in his human eye. “I dunno… I think I’ll come in with ya, but I won’t say anything unless the kid starts to freak out.”
Robin nodded and, taking a deep breath, straightened his shoulders as he strode confidently through the door.
Beast had straightened in his seat when his sensitive ears had first heard the footsteps walking to the room he was in. He sat ramrod straight with his eyes locked onto the flat tabletop, exactly as he had been trained. Somehow he managed to straighten even more when Master Rob strode through the door. He glanced up at the teen, peering though still damp hair as Master Rob stalked commandingly in.
Beast’s terrified heart began to slow to a more comfortable rate. This teen walked like a master. This Master was confident and controlling, used to giving out commands and having them followed without question or hesitation. This was more like Beast was used to. He knew how to appease this type of person. This was his life, his comfort zone, and even if it was not a usually pleasant life it was familiar.
Robin eyed the harsh restraints around the boy’s wrist, his mask-clothed eyes traveling from the tabletop and over the small green teen’s form. His gaze lingered slightly on the old and ratty gloves before noting approvingly of the new clothes. A scar could be seen behind the t-shirts neckline and a small fang stuck out from the bottom of the boy’s lip. His face had been washed, as had his hair so both were now free of blood. Robin couldn’t see the boy’s expression, his head was respectfully bowed. Robin felt an uncomfortable stirring in the pit of his stomach. He forced the feeling away and twisted his face into a serious, strict countenance, just as he would a common criminal. He hit his hands on the counter, slightly surprised when the boy didn’t give the expected jump.
“Look up at me.” He commanded, “I want you to look into my eyes when I’m questioning you.”
Beast hastily obeyed. When he raised his eyes to meet the white fabric of Master Rob’s mask he felt a stirring of humor in his stomach as a thought flashed through his mind. ‘Don’t you mean look into your mask?’ He would never dare to say it aloud though, and had great practice at hiding this humor from masters.
“What is your name?” Master Rob asked.
“My title is Beast.”
Robin frowned, looking back in the files. The files started when the boy was about eight years old, and the first accounts mentioned a ‘capture’ several times. In all likelihood “Beast” used to be an average child with strange powers and was kidnapped by the original villains. Robin felt a chill run through him. Or, he’d been a normal child kidnapped and experimented on. “Come on, you must have another name.”
“My Master may give me any name they wish to call me. My title is Beast, but I have many names.”
“I mean your name before becoming Beast.”
The boy began to shake slightly and his voice became the toneless speak of someone repeating a lesson that had been drilled into their mind. “I am Beast, and nothing but Beast. There is no before, should be no memories other than Beast. I must forget my time before Beast, because I will never return to that time. There will be no after, for I will always be Beast. I must forget any dreams I had before Beast and never long to be anything but Beast, for Beast is the only thing I will ever be. The only dreams I shall have will be dreams to be faster, stronger, and of more use to my masters.”
Robin didn’t move, his eyes slowly widening behind his mask as Cyborg stood behind with his mouth wide open in shock. The Titan leader felt a dread stirring in his stomach. He swallowed.
“Did one of your past… masters tell you that?”
“Yes Master,” Best replied, praying that Master wouldn’t question him on it any more. The green boy remembered his name, remembered his past, no matter how many times masters told him to forget it. He didn’t want to share those memories with anyone, and certainly not a Master, but if Master Rob asked him he would be forced to answer.
“H-how long have you been with masters? How long ago was… before Beast?”
Beast hesitated. He wasn’t sure how long he had been with masters. The time bled together, days acting as years and years acting as days. He dropped his gaze for a moment before remembering Master’s commands and meeting the teen’s mask. “I don’t know, Master. I apologize. M-my papers will say.” He stammered at the second part. He wasn’t supposed to say anything more than a direct answer to the question. He was never to speak out, never to make suggestions or correct a master. He waited with bated breath for Master Rob to speak. To his surprise the young master simply nodded, turning his gaze to flip a page in the files.
“There aren’t any names in here. What are the names of your old masters?”
Beast shifted in his seat uncomfortable. “I… I do not know, Master. I am rarely told my owner’s name. I have no need for it for I am called only to obey, never to speak to the master unless questioned.”
“What about the ones that did tell you their names?”
“I am commanded to forget the names of my masters, and if I know their location I am to forget that as well.” He paused before once again adding not strictly necessary information, just seeing what Master Rob would do. “It was to make me more buyer friendly, security for the clients.”
Anger fired in Master Rob’s eyes and Beast curled up slightly, only to open up when he realized that the anger was not directed at him.
“Could you recognize them if you saw a picture?” The teen asked tersely, and Beast hunched his shoulders, knowing that his Master wouldn’t like his answer. He had been captured when he was still young, bought, sold, and stolen by dozens of masters. He couldn’t remember several of the first ones.
“Not all, Master.” He said quietly, looking up slightly as his nose instinctively twitched and took in the scent of Master. “B-but I could recognize their scent if I smelled one.”
Robin didn’t seem too much happier at that, but once again his anger hadn’t been directed at Beast. He hadn’t seemed to mind how much extra information Beast had given either. Beast gulped, summoning up every bit of bravery he possessed as he dared to speak to Master without being spoken to first.
“M-Master? Do you wish for information on the identities of my old owners?”
Master’s head shot up in surprise and even Cyborg looked shocked. Beast felt his stomach drop as he realized that he must have done something wrong. He shouldn’t have spoken. He lowered his head in sublimation as his thin shoulders shook.
Robin quickly schooled his features. The boy had seemed so timid; Robin had expected him to barely speak, only answer direct answers. The teen could hardly believe that the boy had offered information, especially against his old masters. “Yes I do. What do you have?”
Beast looked up to meet Master Rob’s mask. He didn’t seem mad at least, but the green boy tried to hurry just in case. Beast stretched his hands, attempting to pull at the leather gloves, but his hands stopped as the chains around his wrists grew taunt. Robin and Cyborg exchanged a glance. Cyborg held up the cuff’s key and Robin shrugged. The kid wasn’t going to try to run, he still had the ankle cuffs on, Raven still had the remote, and normal handcuffs wouldn’t hold a shape shifter if he wanted to escape anyways. The larger man walked up to the boy and Beast froze in fear. Did his Master think he was trying to escape? Was he angry? Was he going to punish him? He expected a blow, a stab of pain, but was left staring in dumb shock when the cuffs fell from his hands.
He looked up at his Masters in surprise before standing from the chair, pulling off his warm-amazing-comfortable-purple shirt and the worn leather gloves at the same time. The boy turned his back on the Masters revealing the large brands that shone on each of his shoulder blades, the symbols slightly marred by other crisscrossing scars. Then he turned to face the Masters, holding his hands right under one of his pecks, drawing attention to the symbols burned on the backs of his hand and on his chest.
The two Masters had their gazes locked on him, and Beast could feel the burning stares of those outside the room as well. Again, hidden humor flashed through his mind and he wished to twitch his eyebrows at the female masters. You like what you see? But again he didn’t dare to voice or act upon the thoughts.
Robin swallowed, his eyes tracing the precise burns even as he slowly drug a high resolution camera out of his belt. The type of camera he only used for preserving evidence. He walked up to the boy slowly, as though any movement could spook him. Beast however would never have shied away, never run unless his Master willed it. Robin carefully took a picture of each brand from several angles, Beast never so much as twitching unless Robin told him to move. Finally the pictures were done, and Robin wet his dry mouth. “Is this all?”
Beast nodded, his eyes glancing to the shirt though he made no move towards it. Robin noticed the movement and nodded, prompting Beast to throw it over his head before sitting down, his wrists held in prime position to accept the cuffs. Cyborg and Robin simultaneously shook their heads. He didn’t need them. Beast dropped his hands to the tabletop, his eyes following until he remembered Master Rob’s command to look him in the eyes.
Robin looked uncomfortable. “There isn’t much more I can ask until I’ve read through the file, but first . . .” His serious gaze locked onto Beast’s eyes, and the green boy felt worry stir in his stomach. “I need to know, do you like killing, hurting people, and fighting?”
Beast felt his entire body freeze. What kind of a question was that? Some masters asked him about strategy, but no one, no one, ever asked him if he liked something. And fighting? Killing? Hurting? How was he supposed to answer? Some masters asked questions with answers they wanted to hear, was this one of those questions? Did the Masters have an answer they wanted him to give or not? If they did what was correct? Any other master would want him to say yes, but these… these Masters were weird. He didn’t know what their right answer was.
Robin could sense the boy’s indecision. “And I want the truth.”
Beast silenced a low whimper as it rose up his throat. He didn’t know the truth. He never thought about whether he liked doing something. He just did as he was commanded. He was supposed to just please his Master. Masters didn’t care what he liked, so why should he?
Cyborg leaned over and whispered to Robin. “Try asking one of them at a time.”
The titan leader shared a glance with the robotic teen and nodded, leaning against the table. “Do you like killing?” He asked.
Beast felt his stomach lurch as he remembered the soulless eyes of people who had been mauled, gorged, poisoned by his venom, strangled by the strong and wiry muscles of his snake form, and torn to shreds by a predator’s cruel teeth. “No, Master.” He said softly but surely. He didn’t like killing. Some of his inner animals gave weak protests, but even most of them saw little use in killing a creature when they would get nothing for it.
“Do you like hurting people?”
Pain flashed through his mind, the pain of a beating from his Masters and the joy on their face with the knowledge that he was in pain. Joy that they were the ones causing the pain. He couldn’t be like that, not ever. “No, Master.”
“Do you like fighting?”
Beast paused for a moment before squeaking out a quiet “Y-yes.”
“Why?” Master Rob said, coming out as a command more than a question.
The boy was quiet for another long moment, and seemed to have to fight to keep his eyes on Robin’s. “I-I like battling and testing my strength. And I like it when I know that I have won and fought off enemies. I… I like using the stuff my masters have trained me to do. I… my… the animals like fighting. They’re used to it, and find it fun. And I like knowing that I was useful when I win. I like fighting.”
He felt exhilaration flow through him. He had never thought about it before, never realized that he actually liked fighting. Now that he said it, it seemed so obvious. His Masters were watching him closely, and a small smile was curling up Cyborg face. Beast’s heart fluttered a little slower. His answer must have been good. Robin nodded slowly.
“Okay, I think that’s enough for now.”
Suddenly Cyborg stepped up, his eyes locked onto Beast even as he spoke to Robin. “Wait a minute Rob, I believe B has something to ask you.”
Beast looked to the cyber teen in utter confusion. Did he order Beast to ask him something and he had forgotten? What could it have been? Cyborg’s eyebrow rose and he prompted the boy once more. “We talked about it when I found him drying off.”
Suddenly Beast remembered and his form began to shake as fear struck his heart. Surely Master Cyborg didn’t want him to ask, not about something like that. He just couldn’t ask if he could shift. It was completely taboo, unheard of. Most masters hated the thought of him shifting without command. He couldn’t ask that. He would be horribly punished, beat, burned, who knew what. Shifting was not something he asked masters about ever. But… his Master had basically commanded him to ask, he had to obey.
Cyborg cringed when he saw the boy’s fear. The kid had been doing such a good job speaking during the interrogation that Cyborg thought it wouldn’t be a big deal to ask Robin. But it seemed that the question had crossed some kind of line, and the kid was absolutely terrified again. Cyborg was just about to tell B to forget about it when the boy began to speak.
“M-Master,” He began timidly, sounding terrified and like he was the lowest of the low, as if he didn’t even have the right to speak. “Do you wish… that I have permission to change forms a-at times other than when you command?”
Robin was surprised by the question and turned back to see Cyborg looking back at the child with an ashamed expression. Beast had seemed so scared… Robin didn’t want to give the boy a change to escape but… the green kid did have the collar on. After all that, Robin felt like he had to reward the kid somehow. He nodded.
“Nothing smaller than a rabbit without permission, unless it is an emergency.”
Beast eyes widened as he nodded in amazement and relief, and the beginning of a smile began to form upon his lips before he forced it off, looking down to the table once more. The boy wonder turned to Cyborg. “Take him back and let him sleep for tonight; we’ll do more tomorrow after I’ve read over the report.”
Cyborg nodded and undid the ankle cuffs before leading the boy back to his cell. He smiled and pat Beast’s back as he closed the door behind him, never noticing that the boy had stopped flinching at the contact. “Great job, B. See you in the morning.”
The lights went dark as the door swished closed behind Master Cyborg and Beast looked around to find himself in the same room as earlier. He eyed the surroundings carefully, his keen eyes able to see in the darkness almost perfectly. The green teen yawned, feeling a bit of hopelessness swirl in his stomach as he looked around. He was so tired and wanted to sleep so badly, and the darkness of the room didn’t help. Master Rob had said something about sleep hadn’t he? Beast must have misunderstood, he must of. After all, where was his cage?