Beast woke hours later, jumping to attention as footsteps neared his cell, only to slowly slink back to the- wonderful, comfy, warm, oh so soft- bed and doze as the steps continued past. He jumped up again as another set of footsteps sounded, only for the same result. As he slunk back to his bed a shadow passed past his window, though no steps were heard. Beast sniffed deeply, only to find that his sensitive nose still could not pick up the scents from the other side of the door. Still, he assumed that the third master to pass had been Master Starfire, the one who often flew.
He knew that Master Cyborg hadn’t passed; he would have recognized the sound of his metal creaking down the store, so that meant the first two had to be Master Raven and Master Robin. He lay back on his bed, half closing his eyes as he allowed his mind to wander. The first steps had seemed elegant, subdued, and calm; they were probably Master Raven’s. The second steps had been confident, in charge, light and dexterous. That would be Master Rob.
All three had gone to the same place, the big room with the food at the end of the hall. He wondered if Master Cyborg would be joining them. A slight voice in the back of his head wondered if he would join them as well, but he dismissed that thought almost immediately. Whatever it was, it was probably Master business.
His ears perked as he jumped to his feet once more, hearing the heavy clang of Cyborg coming down the hall. Beast doubted that the Master would come to get him, assuming instead that he would follow his friends. Regardless, he made sure to stand at attention, it was in his training. Though, admittedly in his old cage he never had the room to stand, he was called to be ready at attention whenever he heard a Master approach. His actions proved useless as the man simply walked past, following the footsteps of the other Masters.
With a patient smile Beast laid back onto his cot, allowing himself to doze once again, half listening for the arrival of his Masters. It came a half-hour later. Beast heard the familiar heavy footsteps of Master Cyborg accompanied, to his excitement and delight, with the scent of food that even the thick walls of the room couldn’t mask.
Cyborg jumped slightly as the door opened. With how exhausted the kid had been the night before, Cyborg hadn’t expected him to be up yet, much less standing expectantly in the middle of the room. Beast stood straight with impeccable posture for a boy used to a cramped cage and head bowed. He seemed to be waiting for commands, but Cyborg’s quick and analytical eye caught the glances the boy shot at the waffles that sat on the tray held in the larger teen’s hand.
Cyborg chuckled as he entered the room, setting the plate on the bed. “Take off your shirt real quick so I can check on that big burn on your side.” The robotic man said nothing as Beast obeyed, watching as the kid’s eyes continually shifted to the food. He eyed the bandages critically before patting the bed. “Go ahead and sit down. I’m gonna have to redress your wounds while you eat anyways. Dig in.”
Beast wasted no time in following the man’s commands, sitting down and attacking the proffered meal. The breakfast was incredible to the nearly starved boy. The waffles were soft yet crunchy and the syrup was so sweet. He could barely remember the last time he’d had something so sweet.
Cyborg smiled softly at the smaller teen’s gusto before turning back to the wounds. They were healing really well, faster than normal in fact. It would make sense that Beast would heal quickly, he supposed. The largest one on the boy’s side was still fairly nasty, but nothing compared to the night before. At least the pain didn’t seem to be bothering the kid, unless he was really good about hiding it. The robotic teen frowned. He wished the second option wasn’t so likely.
The frown all but disappeared when he looked up from his medical supplies to see that Beast had finished the stack, his tongue working to slurp up the syrup dripping down his face. “Looks like you like waffles. Good, you’ll fit in here just fine.” He chuckled, but Beast’s expression didn’t change. Had Raven been there, she could have told the titan about the trill of surprise and joy that flashed through the child, but she wasn’t so Cyborgs chuckles trailed off awkwardly. Beast liked these Masters, he thought. He liked the food at least, and the rest and the healing at least.
Cyborg handed him back the shirt and Beast quickly pulled it over his head. He liked the clothes too. The boy looked up as Master spoke again.
“So, B, how’d you sleep?”
Beast was tempted to tell his Master what an incredible and deep sleep it had been, but he remembered that he was talking to a Master and his tongue failed him. In the end he simply muttered, “Good”.
“Good, you seemed exhausted last night.” He rose to his feet. “Alright then. I’m heading to town with the girls, I’ll be back in a few hours.” Beast wondered slightly why his Master was telling him any of this, but didn’t dare to question him as the teen continued. “We’ll take care of some other things then. I’m sure Rob’s going to wanna talk to you again, but I’m gonna try to convince him we don’t have to go through the trouble of dragging you to the interrogation room. Not like you’re gonna hide anything from us after all.”
That was right; he wouldn’t hide information from his Masters. He felt a pang of guilt about hiding his memories about before Beast the night before but squished them down. He never told any Masters about before Beast, why would he feel bad about not telling these ones?
Beast, shaking off the thoughts and still unsure why Mater Cyborg was telling him all of this, nodded once. The robotic teen smiled at him kindly before grabbing the medical supplies and empty plate and leaving the room, leaving Beast alone once more. The boy remained on the bed, staring at the closed door mutely. What was he supposed to do now? With most masters he barely had enough time to rest to keep him from complete exhaustion, forget about relaxing, but Master Cyborg said he wouldn’t be back for a few hours. What was he supposed to do until then?
Beast idly shifted into the form of a cat, stretching his tight muscles. Suddenly he froze, his heart thudding fearfully in his chest until he remembered that Master Rob had given him permission to shift. He sighed in sweet relief, slowly allowing his body to change back to his human form. As he changed a thought struck him, a child of his trained and ingrained paranoia. What if this was just a test? What if they were just seeing what he would do if left alone for a few hours?
Jumping up to his feet the boy shifted into a fox and began sprinting around the room, stretching the limits of his lithe form. He wouldn’t fail this test; he would show that he was a hard worker, dedicated only to his training and to his Masters. The Masters would like that. Part of his mind argued with him, insisting that if this wasn’t a test then he was exhausting himself for nothing. Even worse his Masters would expect this of him whenever they did give him time to rest. He wouldn’t like that. However he continued to run, knowing that if this was a test and he failed then the punishment would be so much worse.
The fox thundered in circles around the small room, part of him wishing he was a cheetah. Now that was a run, exhilaration running through his veins and wind whipped through his fur, his legs thundering into the ground. Unfortunately, the room was too small for that. Even as a fox he was getting dizzy. He knew that the running would be better in a smaller form, but even though Master Rob told him he could go as small as a rabbit he would make sure to show his obedience by not only staying larger than a rabbit, but also by not even getting close to the size of the rodent. Still, he was dizzy, time for something new.
With a leap he became a large eagle, only to find that he could barely fly at all. He shifted back into human form, glaring critically at the restricting walls before smiling slightly. As small as it seemed when attempting to exercise, it was worlds bigger than his old cage. He began slowly shifting through animals, speeding up until he was wearing and shedding forms at a lightning fast rate. He ran through his entire arsenal of medium to large animals twice before going back to his human form and sitting down on the bed, panting slightly from exertion. Shifting didn’t really bother him, but doing so much so fast was strenuous.
He glanced at the sink for a moment, plugging it up and letting water pool at the bottom. He turned into a large Great Dane, lapping at the sweet liquid. It was nice getting water whenever he wanted, not waiting until Master called for a break. As he had his full he reassumed human form and turned off the faucet. The changeling shifting back to dog to lick up what remained in the sink, loath to let such precious liquid drip own the drain.
Beast dropped to the ground, human once more, swinging his legs up onto the low bed and placing one hand on the floor at the center of his chest. His eyes clouded as he settled into the well-known position, remembering hours of torturous exhaustion at the hand of Masters. His arm began to shake at the thought, but he pushed the memories out of his mind, resuming the regiment he still wasn’t sure he had to be doing. He began to do pushups, quickly at first than slower as he tired. At one point in time he brought his other hand down, resuming top speed as both arms worked to propel him. When that slowed as well he dropped his feet off the bed, going back to one hand. He finally ended with normal pushups, breathing deeply as sweat pooled down his green skin.
He whimpered lightly as he stood, his wounds protesting each movement. His hands glanced across the large burn on his side, the bandages hidden behind his new and sweat drenched clothes. Slowly he lowered himself back to the ground, lying on his back and beginning to do a set of crunches, working hard to ignore the burn of his side wound. Suddenly he stopped, hearing light footsteps coming his way. Beast rose to his feet and stood at attention, recognizing the footsteps of Master Rob. Now he would know if he had passed the test. His heat beat wildly, hoping and praying that his master would be pleased.
The boy stopped his frantic thoughts as the scent of delicious food flooded his senses. Food? But he’d already had a meal today. His heart floored with happiness. This was a reward. He had passed, it was okay. The boy allowed himself a grin before hiding it once more as his Master entered, looking to the ground as the door to his cell slid open.
Robin hadn’t gone shopping with the others. He had too much work to do. He had to go over the videos, search for clues, have all of the informants he knew poke around and see if they could find anything, not to mention the paperwork the chief of police faxed him for taking custody of the kid. He sighed softly. He hadn’t been expecting it to be this troublesome. His mind flashed back to the scars tracing the kid’s back and chest and his absolute terror when approached. Robin decided that no matter how difficult it was, he was immensely happy that they had gotten the kid out of that situation.
At breakfast he’d held an informal meeting, telling the girls what he had told Cyborg the night before, though without the visual aids. Starfire had seemed excited at the prospect of helping out their “new green friend”, her eyes lighting cheerily with the confidence that they would surely be able to help him, the alternative never occurring to her. Raven never changed expressions, saying little during the meeting. However, she met eyes with Cyborg and the eldest Titan knew that she was just as hopeful.
The girls and Cyborg had left almost immediately after Cy had brought the kid his breakfast. Starfire had been shimmering with anticipation while Raven simply looked like a death row patient, muttering that she was just going to stop the Tamaranian from dressing the kid like a clown. When the group had left Robin immediately locked himself in his room, going over anything and everything that seemed useful and filling out the mounds of paperwork. A few hours later and he had made little progress.
Robin glanced at the clock, wincing when he saw that it was already past noon. Usually he would have pressed right on with his work, never even giving a second though to lunch. But… with a glance at a picture of a particularly emaciated Beast he knew that the kid needed plenty of food if he was ever going to get to anything resembling normal weight. For the first time he looked at the security feed, starting when he saw that Beast was working on pushups as if his life depended on it.
What the heck was the kid doing? Robin thought the kid would take any chance that he could to relax. Though, looking back at the training his past masters had put him through Robin could understand if the kid wasn’t exactly used to down time, maybe even suspicious of it. But the kid wasn’t healthy. He was half-starved, stressed to no end, and littered with wounds. He needed time to recover, not work himself to death before he even made it to the training room. The Titan leader would have to tell the green boy to take it easy. Beast wouldn’t ignore a direct command. Once again doubt wedged into the boy wonder’s mind. Could they really make this kid normal? Or at least as normal as a green shape-shifter could get.
The teen opened the same window on the main screen, rewinding it to the time when Cyborg came in and vowing to watch it after he fed the green teen. Maybe he would see if something triggered the work out session. Robin grumbled to himself as he saw the green boy wince slightly and begin to favor his injured side. Without wasting a moment more he went down into the kitchen, thanking his lucky stars that they had some leftover pizza from when the alarm had interrupted their dinner the night before. It was only a day old so the blue mold shouldn't have overcome it yet, right? He hoped so.
Beast was standing in the center of the room at attention when Robin arrived with the microwaved pizza and a string of bandages in hand. The boy wonder sighed slightly and nodded to the bed. “Sit down and let me look at your side.” He said gruffly, plopping the pizza in Beast’s lap as the teen obeyed.
Beast didn’t move as the plate fell onto his legs, his mouth watering as the scent flooded his senses. He had never eaten pizza before, but it smelled incredible and it was right there, in his lap. Still he restrained himself. After all, if being left alone had been a test, then this probably was too. Master Rob was making sure he wouldn’t eat without permission and testing his self-control. He wouldn’t fail these tests, he hadn’t forgotten how much other stuff his masters could punish him for. He didn’t want to make it worse.
Robin pushed up Beast’s shirt, grimacing when he saw the red of blood beginning to seep through the bandage. He looked up as he began to unravel the cloth strips around the shapeshifter's thin waist, frowning when he saw that the plate sat untouched. What, did the kid not like pizza? Robin didn’t think that he could afford to be too picky considering the circumstances. Maybe he… oh. Robin felt a sure of anger at Beasts old Masters.
“Go ahead and eat.”
Beast tore into the cheese pizza, an ecstatic expression in his eyes. Robin grimaced when he saw the green teen’s gusto. He must have been starving to still be so hungry. Still the teen leader said nothing and simply let the boy eat as he applied the new bandage.
Beast watched the boy wonder out of the corner of his eye as his wound was fixed, humor rushing through his mind though he kept his face neutral. Did the Masters always bring food when they were checking his injuries? He would have to get hurt more often.
Robin waited until the last crumb of pizza was gone before he spoke. “Look uh… Beast, er B was it? I appreciate the… enthusiasm but I don’t want any more spontaneous training sessions any time soon, got it? You’re not healthy enough yet, especially with your side still so bad. I want you to relax.”
Beast nodded once, his eyes locked on the empty plate on his lap. He refused to raise his head to meet Master Rob’s mask, knowing that he couldn’t keep the wonder and relief out of his eyes. He curled his toes to keep himself from shaking, amazed at his master’s words. Master was telling him to relax. It was so… different. It wasn’t a test. It never had been a test. He didn’t have to work and his master was telling him to take a break. That had never happened. It was always work harder, get stronger, run faster, go longer. It was never stop, wait, rest.
Robin stood uncertainly. “Uh, okay then.” He murmured awkwardly before taking the plate and leaving the room, looking back at the dead-still Beast as he left. Once Robin left Beast breathed out a sigh of relief and allowed his trembling to show, a secret smile tearing across his face. He shifted to a comfortable lynx form and curled up on his pillow, a low purr rumbling through his chest as he drifted off to sleep.
Robin fell back into his seat with a huff. Beast had seemed so freaked out when he told him to relax. Poor kid had been completely confused; he probably still didn’t really know what to do. Robin looked back to the live feed, expecting to see the kid sitting in the same spot as earlier. He smiled when he saw a green furry blur on the pillow instead.
Turning back to the main screen to watch the morning’s footage, he frowned as he realized the boy was already standing ready when Cyborg entered. Exactly how much sleep had the kid gotten? He rewound a little more, his frown disappearing when he noticed that the kid had been in bed seconds before the robot entered. However it came back with a vengeance when he saw that the kid had gotten up a few moments earlier. As the tape continued its backward run Robin saw that the kid awoke each time a Titan came past. He would have to talk to Beast about that.
Ignoring the observation for now, the titan fast forwarded back to when Cyborg entered, turning up the previously muted volume. He analyzed the conversation, but could see nothing that could have acted as a trigger. In fact, the green changeling had seemed fine until he’d suddenly started a few moments after turning to a cat then back to human. After that the kid had forced himself through a torturous exercise regiment, stopping only when Robin neared.
Robin began caressing his forehead in stressed irritation. That’s not to say he wasn’t impressed with the kid, actually he was intrigued by the boy’s skill with his power and his strength. However, he didn’t like that exhausting himself was the kid's go to response when left alone. This wasn’t going well so far. He sighed and turned back to the screen as the part he was watching faded into his earlier conversation. He watched idly as the Robin on the screen left the room, eyes turning back to some of the paperwork at his desk. He jumped as the screen began to rumble, his mouth gaping in shock as he recognized the sound as a wildcat’s content purr. He smiled softly. Maybe it wasn’t quite so hopeless