Merchendise and Musing
Raven grumbled to herself as Starfire held up another shirt. In all honest, the shirt itself wasn’t really that bad. It was actually fairly fashionable. The problem came when the empath imagined the bright yellow on the light green teen. “Starfire, for the last time we need clothing that won’t clash with his skin.”
“Oh yes, that is right. I had the same difficulties last night.” The alien sighed as she put the shirt back. She frowned as she cast her gaze around at the shirts adorning the walls. Her gaze became contemplative. “Then green is also out, along with the neon and the yellow. Perhaps red?”
“He already looks like an elf with those ears of his, let’s not push it.”
“Hmm. I am afraid I cannot picture blue fitting him well either, and if he wore brown we may easily lose him in a forest.” The girl sighed. “How unfortunate. The only colors that we may purchase are the same ones which I had bought last night.”
The dark girl shifted awkwardly as she attempted to cheer the alien up, but she didn’t exactly do ‘happy’.
“Don’t worry girl, I think B really liked the stuff you picked out yesterday.” Cyborg’s voice rose behind them and the two girls turned to see the large teen laden with grocery bags filled to the brim with food. Starfie’s eyes lit with joy.
“Truly? He enjoyed the clothes?”
“Of course. Now try and hurry up. We gotta get back before all this tofu crap melts.”
Starfie nodded, already searching through the racks of clothing. Raven sighed and rose to join the girl, stopping when she saw a small out-of-place bag upon the cyborg’s arm.
“What’s with the pet store bag?”
“Oh, I just thought that B would be bored for a while when we were out on missions so I got him a toy to play with.”
Before the empath could ask, Starfire was back, completely buried in a pile of purple and black outfits. “Friends, I have found some clothing that our new friend may enjoy.” Starfire’s happy voice sounded from somewhere within the pile. “Do you wish to see?”
“Uh, that’s okay Star. You don’t really need to-“
However, the alien paid him no mind, instead joyously laying out and displaying the many outfits. Cyborg winced and cast a pleading eye at Raven, hoping she would get him out of it, but the empath simply smirked. He sighed internally as he pretended to pay attention as Starfire lay out more and more outfits, internally simply happy that the girl was using Robin’s card to pay for all of this. He frowned as the girl held up the last pair of jeans, one of the only things she picked out that hadn’t been mainly black or purple in color.
“You sure those are going to fit him? The kid’s pretty small.”
The red-head seemed to deflate slightly. “I am aware that they are too large. However, these are the smallest sizes that seemed to be long enough.”
“It’s okay Star. We’ll feed him and he’ll put on some weight in no time.” Cyborg glanced at the waistband of the pants and pictured the kid’s emaciated form. “Until then, he may need a belt.”
This time the two less shopping inclined titans went with the enthusiastic girl, searching the store for the thin strips of fabric. Finally they found one, going into the children’s section to make sure they got one small enough. Numbers flashed red as Cyborg’s robotic eye brought up the information from the files Robin had given him. “Get one that goes down to about 24 inches. Man, we gotta get him some food.”
Starfire barely had time to nod before she began perusing the thin bands. She cast a longing glance at the pink, sparkly, and flowery options before forcing herself to turn to the more boyish designs. She was just reaching for a handsome leather one when Cyborg spoke. “Might not one a leather one. Like I said last night, the kid’s a strict vegetarian. I don’t know his reasons but if it’s something to do with animals then leather won’t be the best choice.”
The girl put her hand down again, her eyes immediately brightening as they alighted upon another belt. Triumphantly she held up the thick, shiny silver band with a large circle at its center. “Oh, it is perfect.”
“Uh…” Began Cyborg, unsure of the metallic belt. An image of the metallic grey collar around the kid’s neck flashed through his mind. However, to his surprise Raven nodded, a half-smile on her lips. Starfire’s eyes lit up at the nod.
“Joyous! Then we may proceed to take our purchase to the register of monetary value.”
Cyborg said nothing, knowing that any argument would be futile if both of the girls agreed. He followed the females to the cash register, taking half of the large pile of clothes out of Starfire’s arms when it became obvious that she couldn’t see. Why the girl hadn’t grabbed a cart, we may never know.
The two Titans dumped the load at the first open register, and Cyborg grinned at the shocked face of the clerk as they eyed the large wardrobe. However, the girl simply sighed and began ringing them up. When only a few items remained, Cyborg caught Raven lay a pair of silver gloves on the counter. The girl caught his eye, silently daring him to say something. The half-robot looked down at the sturdy-looking fabric gloves before wisely deciding to stay silent. However, he couldn’t keep a grin from sneaking on his face.
Finally they left the store and headed back to the car, Raven slipping into shotgun and silently forcing Starfire to sit back with the many bags. As Cyborg fell into the driver’s seat he glanced at the clock and winced. It was well past lunch. He’d been hoping that the girl’s wouldn’t take so long. Though knowing Star he should have known better. He sighed as his baby started, silently hoping that Robin had come out of ‘investigator mode’ long enough to feed the kid. For a moment he considered calling the spikey-haired teen, but thought better of it. He was going to be back at the tower soon anyway, he would ask Rob then.
“Where exactly are we going to keep these?” Raven’s voice broke him out of his thoughts as he caught the girl giving the bags a dubious look. Starfire was frowning, giving the bags a calculating glance as though discovering the problem as well.
Cyborg frowned, following the girl’s thought process. The containment cell they had B in wasn’t exactly well furbished. It didn’t have drawers or a closet or anything, really. And they couldn’t just leave the clothing in a pile on the floor. They could get something from another room, but the cell was far from large. There would hardly be any room left if they brought in any extra furniture. Not to mention that everything currently in the room was made to ensure that no villain could get an advantage out of it and bringing in a set of draws would leave the kid open to getting nails, long boards, and metal or plastic strips. Cyborg trusted the kid, kinda, but he could never be sure.
“I suppose we could simply have the clothes remain in one of the extra rooms and allow him to choose an outfit before he bathes,” Starfire began. “However it seems strange that he would be separated from his belongings.”
“It’s okay Star. From the look of him he isn’t really used to having more than one outfit. I don’t think he’d know what to do with himself if we just dumped a bunch of clothes in his room.” Cyborg frowned as he realized how true the statement was. A cold hand seemed to grip his heart. Poor kid probably hadn’t had adequate clothing in ages. The feeling remained throughout the rest of the ride, dissipating only as they pulled into the garage.
The three Titans grabbed the bags and began lugging them into the tower, Raven dropping her load of groceries in the kitchen. Cyborg looked up as the bags landed on the counter before glancing around the room. To his surprise, Robin was watching the big screen. It was paused at the moment, stuck in the middle of a fighting scene.
“How was shopping?” The boy wonder asked distractedly.
“Oh, it was most joyous! First we-“
“So Rob, how were things here?” Cyborg interrupted, saving the Titan leader a play-by-play that would doubtless have been longer than the entire shopping experience. To his surprise, Robin scowled. There was a light pitter-patter of keys as Robin brought up a new window on his screen. The teens were silent as they saw the shape-shifters self-inflicted training. Robin’s scowl deepened as he paused the film.
“I caught him at it at lunch and made him stop. He’d reopened some of his wounds, I had to redress them.”
Cyborg grumbled audibly, making his way across the room. “You talked to him about it, right?”
“Yeah. Last time I checked up on him he was taking a nap.” The boy wonder brought up another screen, showing a live feed of Beast’s cell. The green teen was in human form and sitting on his bed against the wall. The boy looked deep in contemplation, his eyes unfocused as he huddled against the wall.
Cyborg nodded, turning to the two girls. “Wanna come with me to give him the clothes?”
“Of course!” Starfire trilled.
“Pass.” Raven intoned, beginning to put away the tofu with a slightly disgusted look on her face. Cyborg chucked. At least he wouldn’t have to put the crap away.
Beast woke from his nap in less than an hour, feeling better rested than he had in years. He’s stretched his limber cat muscles, his mouth gaping in a waking yawn. Slowly he had shifted back to human, looking around the room at a loss about what to do. He almost felt… bored. Suddenly his face spit into a grin and he laughed out loud in the empty room. He couldn’t remember the last time he was bored. He’d missed it.
The laughter faded at he looked to the security corner in the far corner, reminding himself that his masters could be watching. With a sigh he sat on the bed and fell against the wall, closing his eyes as he thought. Then again, who knew what these strange masters would do if they caught him laughing. Everything else was opposite after all. Who knows, they may even like it.
His eyes slit open and he bit his lip softly as his brows furrowed in thought. These strange masters. They were… odd. They didn’t act anything like Masters, didn’t do anything the way that they were supposed to… the way he was used to. Beast’s eyes lit up. He had time. These backwards Masters had given him time to rest, and relax, and think. Maybe he could use it to try and figure out what their motive was in acting so different, what they gained from all of this. After all, with Masters there was always something to be gained.
He wasn’t good at planning, at thinking things through. That was for Masters, he usually just had to do what they said and react to anything that went wrong. This wasn’t a battle; he didn’t know how to plan. No, facts. Use the facts. What was the first strange thing the Masters did?
Maybe it was back at the warehouse. The boy’s hand brushed against his metallic collar. Yeah, after the battle Master Rob never used the remote. He could have, any other master would have, to show dominance or ownership or even punish him for fighting. In fact, they never did punish him for that. Or for getting blood on the car, or sleeping, or talking too much, or even for shifting. He gulped and curled up on himself. Were they just waiting? Biding their time until there was a lot to punish him for? But, it would have been an opportune time. He was already injured after all and would need time to heal before being at one hundred percent. Why wait until he was recovered? Maybe they didn’t have time. After all, if they defeated his old master then it would be make sense that they would take over his old empire. Then again, the battle was loud. It probably attracted the police, meaning that they would have taken the warehouse. But… but hadn’t he seen the police when Master Cyborg led him to the car? The officers hadn’t said anything, never lifted a finger to stop his Masters. He paused for a moment in wonder. The Masters were so young, yet they were already so powerful that they controlled the police of their town.
But then, didn’t Master Cyborg say he was going shopping with the females? If that were the case then they couldn’t possibly be that busy. Maybe… maybe they hadn’t seen the file yet and didn’t know they were supposed to punish him for those things.
Or maybe, a small voice, a voice of long ago, from the time before Beast, spoke. Maybe they aren’t going to punish you? What if these guys aren’t like the other Masters?
Beast Froze, wanting the voice to be right. However, he knew from experience that it seldom was. He sighed slightly before ignoring it and continuing to think about the oddness of his Masters. His mind went to their gentleness. Master Cyborg had touched his shoulder or his head many times, but never did the touch bring pain. And the red-headed one, she was always smiling at him. None of his Masters were ever that happy, and certainly not because of him.
Master Raven had healed him, though he supposed that wasn’t entirely strange. If his old masters had that power, they might have healed him at times too so that he would be healthy and strong while fighting. He froze. Maybe that was it.
The good food, the rest, the healing and clothes, they were just making sure he was in prime condition when they used him. Master Rob didn’t mind him shifting because it kept his powers fresh and he told him not to train earlier because he wanted to wait for the wounds to heal. He’d asked questions about liking fighting and stuff to know what to expect from him and what he was best at. It all made sense.
No it doesn’t. The voice said again. They don’t act like Masters and you know it. Master Cyborg is too gentle. Master Raven had looked worried about your wounds. Master Rob had actually liked the longer answers. Master Cyborg said you were going to ‘fit in just fine’. That doesn’t sound like a Master talking to Beast.
But this is the only thing that makes sense. The boy argued to himself, feeling desperate. He was just so confused, he just wanted things to make sense and nothing did.
Maybe… maybe they don’t want you to be hurt. People didn’t always just want to hurt you, remember?
But… that was when I wasn’t Beast.
So? They’re so different. You know that they don’t seem to want to hurt you. Masters Rob and Cyborg had seemed angry when you showed them the brands. What if they were mad at the old masters, the ones who gave you the scars? Master Cyborg had been angry when you spoke about the cage. Maybe he was mad because he didn’t like that you had to suffer.
Stop. No, that can’t be true. That isn’t what Masters are like.
Maybe they want you to be comfortable, to not be in pain anymore.
Beast audibly growled at the thought, hiding his longing behind a flash of anger. He commanded the voice to be silent, knowing that if it continued then he would long for what could never be. He couldn’t risk dreaming of a better life only for it to be yanked away when reality broke in. It would crush whatever heart he had left. These were Masters, he couldn’t forget that. They didn’t care for him. He was their pet, guard dog, obedient slave. He wasn’t human; it didn’t matter if he was happy or sad, only that he served his Master and served them well. He was Beast. He couldn’t forget that.
Sufficiently squashing the usurping thoughts, he relaxed once more. After all, even if his master were different than usual and strange, he would just have to get to their new rules and serve them as he would any other master. It couldn’t be that difficult, right? Until then he was just going to have to stick with his first theory about them wanting to keep him healthy and serve them as he would any master, no matter the strangeness of their requests.
A half-smile flickered across his lips. At least if they wanted to keep him healthy, it was more likely that he was a long term investment. Maybe they intended to keep him longer and he wouldn’t be carted off from Master to Master. His mind fell to his full stomach and the two delicious meals he’d had that day as he gazed around his cell, one much more spacious than the cage he was used to. He smiled softly. He wouldn’t mind staying for a while.