Would it end up the same way if the roles were reversed?
The boy was lying down on the semicircular couch in the room he was just borrowing for the moment. Just lying there and going over the events of the day - not even a day - so far. Two minor attacks and now they wanted him to go up against the main villain of the city? Sure, he had some experience from Steel City, but the biggest threat he had had to face there was a time-traveling weirdo in a gold suit.
But this Slade guy? All he had was the "weirdo in a suit" part. And Warp had never been a terrorist. Control Freak had never threatened Beast Boy directly. The Game Master had never attacked the entire city. This Slade guy really was a nutcase.
"Yeah, he's crazy," Beast Boy thought, "but he's not wrong." Robin and Raven didn't seem to like him. Cyborg hadn't said a word to him. Starfire liked him, but Starfire liked everybody. The only one in his mind who actually liked him was Terra. If there were anyone he would stay for, it would be her. But with the leader of the Titans against him, it wouldn't take long.
He would have to leave the Titans one way or another. He would rather it be by his choice.
"But where'll I go from there?" That was a big problem. "I can't go back home; my parents'll make me stop doing this. And if I go somewhere else, what if the same thing happens?" He moaned and put his hands on the sides of his head. "What am I gonna do?"
At that point, the door slid open, which broke Beast Boy's pensive state and got him to sit up. Without even looking, he asked, "Is the scan done?"
"Not yet." Blonde hair came into Beast Boy's sight as Terra walked from the door to sit on the other end of the couch. "That's not why I came here," she said with noticeable concern. "You've been acting weird since the bank. Is there something you're not telling us?"
"Yeah. For a reason." "No, nothing. I told you everything. I saw Slade at the bank and he seriously creeped me out." He smiled nervously, the way someone does when a subject comes up that they want to avoid as much as possible.
"Beast Boy," Terra said again with the same tone. She recognised the face; she had had to use it herself a few times. "If you're going to be part of the Titans, we can't keep secrets from each other." It was unclear whether by "we" she meant the entirety of the Titans or just they two; in truth, even she was unsure. She left it ambiguous.
Now she had the entirety of his attention. "What did you just say?"
"I said that you're a part of the Titans." She grinned. "I know it's only been a couple of hours, but you helped more than you think. Robin didn't tell you the whole truth about the bank thing."
Beast Boy perked without immediately knowing why. "He didn't? What did he leave out?"
"That accident distracted Jinx enough for us to get a handle on her. She wasn't expecting something like that to happen, and that broke her concentration on the fight." She laughed a little, remembering the event. "It's funny. She was in the middle of another one of her bad luck attacks when she lost focus. It backfired on her and she actually launched herself backwards into the wall. She stunned herself long enough for Robin to bind her.
"Without you, we might not have stopped her." She was still wearing that smile that said that she meant every last word. "I don't care what Robin thinks. Only a true Teen Titan could have done something like that."
"Really?" The conversation was getting familiar. "Thanks. Uhm, a lot." But something was still troubling him. If it was such a big deal that he got knocked into that vault, why did it still feel like he was unwanted?
"Any time. Now, with that out of the way," and her caring smile fell to an inquisitive look, "maybe you could tell me why you've been acting weird lately."
"Huh? Oh, right," he remembered. That was what they had been talking about. "I can't tell you that, but I know why I can't this time."
"'Cause it's not true any more." He returned the smile she had had, and Terra was glad to bring it back to her face, as well.
"I'm going to ask Cy about the scan. I'll be right back." She got up slowly, still a little worried about Beast Boy even though he did seem to be better. The door opened for her even as she walked to it backwards, not wanting to take her eyes from him, and slid closed again.
Beast Boy slumped back down again. He was good at faking that smile; he had had to use it on his parents several times when he was out fighting crime against their wishes. "What am I gonna do?" he moaned again. "I can't do this. I can't desert her." His voice had grown more miserable than he thought was possible. "But Robin doesn't like me, and he'll get everyone else to not like me, too..." Time was short for him. "What am I gonna do?" He knew the options he had; deciding on one would be the difficult part.
He could stay with the Titans and hope that Robin would wind up not hating him. He could also stay with them and not care about what Robin says or does. Or he could run. He could run with no idea of where to turn and no idea of what to do. Follow the police reports for a while and foil some small-time villains; yeah, he could do that. But how long would that keep him busy? More importantly, how long would that keep him fed?
"I can't leave." If for no other reason than the free meals - oh, he had seen the fridge - he had to stay for a little while longer, at least. Of course, the food was not the only reason. "I'll do this for her." For the only one who seemed to genuinely like him.
He heard the door open again, but this time he looked before asking anything. All he saw was the heel of a brown sneaker disappear off into the hallway before the door closed.
"We got 'em!" Cyborg announced. The scan was complete. Two minutes prior, Terra had returned to her room to get Beast Boy; now all six Titans were assembled in the main room again.
Robin's eyes darted between the six orange "S" marks on the screen. "There's one at the library," he said, "one at the bridge, and the third's at the docks." He knew they should have just checked the popular locations. Beast Boy had wasted their all-too-precious time unnecessarily. Robin grumbled.
Cyborg picked up where Robin left off. "The fourth one's in the abandoned stadium, and the last two are in a warehouse and a run-down construction site. Weird. Why'd he pick such random places?"
"There's no time to worry about that," Robin insisted. "We only have fifteen minutes to get all of them. Raven, you take the one in the library. Starfire, you get the docks; Cyborg, the stadium. Terra and Beast Boy, you two get the ones at the warehouse and construction site. I'll cover the bridge.
"I'm trusting all of you on this. You'll have to work quickly and accurately. We don't know what kind of bombs these are. Hopefully Slade made them easy to defuse, but we can't take that chance. Get there as quickly as you can so you can have the most time for defusing them."
Terra joked about him in her head. "We'd get there a lot more quickly if you'd just say--"
"There it is," Terra finished. She grabbed Beast Boy by the arm to get his attention. "Need a lift?"
He shook his head. "Nah. I can fly there."
"The communicator's also a map. Just so you actually know how to get there."
"Thanks," he said, a little embarrassed that she had to tell him that, since he only thought the communicator was for communicating.
"Well, you heard Robin. We have to get there quickly. Good luck, Beast Boy." With those words, she waved at him and ran out the door of the main room. He watched her jump from an open window at the end of the hallway, tear up a chunk of earth to place beneath her feet, and disappear into the sky.
Beast Boy started walking down the hallway and looked at his communicator to get an idea of the route to take. He reached the window, closed his hand around the device, and paused. "How am I gonna do this?" He would have to carry the communicator with him; he could, after all, get lost. Never having to do something like that before, he only thought of one solution and went on it.
The communicator would leave a very bad taste in his mouth, but it was the only way he could carry it to where he had to go. Holding it between his teeth, he transformed himself into a hawk and departed from the open window, trying to keep the route on his mind.
The flight had taken less time than he had expected; not that he was counting, but he guessed he had about ten, maybe eight minutes left to find the bomb and get rid of it. Of course, he had gotten sidetracked a few times when he had not been thinking about his route but rather what he would do after the mission, so the flight had taken significantly longer than it would have taken had he traveled a straight path.
He landed on the crossbar of a rusted yellow crane and turned back into a human boy again. Wholly surprised that he was able to balance on the narrow metal bar, he opened his mouth and took out the moist metal disc. "Yecch." He wiped it on his clothes before he opened it to locate his target.
"That's weird," he noticed. The orange S on his communicator was moving. Quickly. First it was directly in front of him, where a pile of cinder blocks rested on a platform. Then it jumped to the left, just behind what looked like a part of the sign for whatever was being built. And to the left again, so that he had to physically turn his body to keep up with it. And finally, before he could realise what was going on, it was dead center on his communicator screen - right on top of him.
Something came down hard and set the crossbar at an angle, the shock of which jarred Beast Boy and shook the communicator from his hand, sending it plummeting to the ground by way of the arm, body, and treads of the crane. Every time it hit something, he winced, until it was completely broken when it finally reached earth.
His temporary dismay at losing the communicator was replaced with a far more permanent and far less easily placed combination of emotions when he looked up to see what had knocked him off-balance. There was confusion. There was fear. There was doubt; anger; surprise.
In short, there was /him/.
"Really, Garfield," came the cool voice from behind the mask. "Don't act so surprised. You should have known we were going to meet again."
"Where's the bomb?" Beast Boy knew that failing the Titans was definitely not an option; not where he stood. He could not let Slade get in the way of his mission.
Slade laughed once, a sharp noise that, if it were not so well placed, could have been accidental. "You mean this?" He held up a small circle, glowing orange, between his fingers. "A homing device." It too fell to the ground; Slade had no further use for it. "A distraction. There never were any bombs, Garfield. It's a shame your friends won't be able to tell you that." He looked quickly at the remains of the communicator far below, but his voice implied something different.
"Why?" He knew the obvious answer; it was the rest, the unsaid part that he wanted to know.
The masked man jumped from his end of the crossbar to the base of the arm. Without saying a word, he punched the base and sent vibrations strong enough to completely knock his target off, which he did succeed in doing. Beast Boy quickly changed into a flying squirrel and glided down to stand on the treads of the crane.
"Why won't they be able to tell me?" he repeated, looking up at Slade, once he had a working mouth again.
Slade jumped again and landed just behind Beast Boy. He raised one fist and finally answered, "Because they won't be able to find you." Before Beast Boy could decipher what Slade meant, the fist came down hard. Slade did not even grace Beast Boy with a last look at his face before the blackness overtook the small boy's vision.