Would it end up the same way if the roles were reversed?
And of course, there was no possible way she could fight him. And so she hoped, hoped that the alarm would not sound; that he would go unnoticed and that they could just keep living as normally as they could.
The alarm, of course, sounded. She managed to break her gaze from the screen long enough to look at Cyborg and plead to him, "Turn it off." Her voice shook; it was clear that she was fighting back tears. "He's not doing anything wrong. Turn it off. Please." Terra knew it would only be a temporary solution; eventually he would be doing something wrong and they-/she/ would have to face him, but it was still a solution. It would only prolong the inevitable, but she did not care.
Cyborg raised his arm to the level of his chest and pressed the screen on his forearm; the alarm stopped abruptly and the screen flickered off. Terra smiled at him, but her face dropped when Robin burst into the room with Raven and Starfire following.
"Where's the trouble?" Robin asked Cyborg hastily.
"False alarm, Robin," he said. "Just testing the system. It was due for a tune-up." He looked only slightly embarrassed to have brought them all here for nothing, even if there were some possibly legitimate threat out there, closer than he could have thought. "Sorry for bringing y'all he-"
His apology was cut short by a vibration that ran through the tower like an earthquake. Raven looked at Terra, who shook her head and crossed her arms in front of her. The viewscreen turned itself on, as Cyborg had wired it to do were there ever a disturbance, and showed a suspiciously green finned dinosaur recovering from ramming the base of the tower and rearing up to attack it again.
"It's him." Robin said what was in everyone's thoughts.
"But what is he doing?" Starfire asked to nobody in particular.
"He's...attacking us," the Boy Wonder replied incredulously, but quickly regained his composure. "Well? We have to stop him! Titans! Go!"
Starfire protested his decision. "But Beast Boy is our friend; we cannot attack him. It would not be right!"
"He attacked us first," Raven said. "It's self-defense. Besides, he was taken by Slade and likely works for him now. He's not our friend anymore."
Robin looked at Starfire expectantly. "I suppose..." she began, still uncertain but not wanting to displease Robin or defy logic, "if we must fight him, then fight him I shall."
Their leader nodded and motioned for the Titans to move out, all but one of whom did. Robin turned and almost ordered Terra to come, but Cyborg raised a flat hand and silently told him not to get her involved in this yet. Though he did not want to admit it, Robin knew that Cyborg was right; he didn't know what Terra had seen in Beast Boy, but it would only bring trouble if she saw what was in him now. He left her there and trailed Cyborg out of the Tower.
It had been a rough trip down to the base of the tower: Beast Boy had kept a steady rhythm of ramming until the Titans appeared before them. When he saw the four of them, he transformed into a human boy again. Slade had let him keep his purple leotard, but on his chest there was a large circular "S" emblazoned in orange and black.
Wait. Four? He counted again: Robin, Cyborg, Raven, and Starfire. Terra was not there. For the best, he thought; he could not afford to let his feelings for her, such that they once were, get in the way. Besides, the fewer Titans he had to face, the better his chances were of accomplishing what Slade had sent him here for. And how convenient; that was the first thing Robin always wanted to know.
"Beast Boy," Robin asked with a mix of concern and confusion in his voice, "what are you doing?"
"About time you paid attention to me," he spat back. "I'm here for you, Robin. Only you. The rest of you, get out. It's none of your business."
"If you really know us as well as you say," Raven began.
"Then you know it's all for one," Robin finished her sentence for her. "If you came for me, you came for all of us." He noticed that the brave look of someone devoted to a mission did not waver from Beast Boy's face. Beast Boy was actually serious. "I didn't want to do this, but...Titans! Go!" Cyborg and Starfire were reluctant to enter battle, but he and Raven ran forward together as soon as he had shouted.
Robin unlatched three freeze bombs from his utility belt, placed them between his fingers, and threw them at a human Beast Boy with a grunt. All three bombs connected at, respectively, his leg, chest, and arm, and the ice spread to encase his entire body. Robin looked satisfied, but Raven had learned from experience. With the familiar three-word chant, she tore up some rocks from the area around the base of the tower and aimed them at the frozen statue, but waited to fire until, as she had known would happen, Beast Boy broke free of the ice. More quickly than she thought he had time to react, she moved her arms and flung the debris at him. Her prediction was correct; Beast Boy was hit with the brunt of her attack and, after Raven let her control over the rocks go, was buried completely under the resultant pile. Robin looked at her quickly and almost smiled.
It was only almost because he was interrupted by the sound of a rockslide being caused by a mammoth of formidable size. Rather than use his practically prehensile trunk to fling the boulders back at Raven and Robin, Beast Boy simply transformed back into a green boy when he had gotten himself out from underneath the rocks. "Slade said don't fight back," he reminded himself. "'Don't fight back until you get Robin alone'." He knew Slade was right, too; he knew the Titans would not let themselves attack an enemy who would not fight back. They really were too caught up on the whole 'honour' thing. He followed his master's orders and just repeated, "I'm here for Robin."
Robin heard Cyborg and Starfire sigh in relief from behind him, presumably because they did not have to fight, but paid them little attention. "We already told you. If you want me, you'll have to take on all of us."
"I'm not fighting until I get what I came for," Beast Boy returned in a voice that sounded all too similar to someone else's. "And I'm not leaving until I fight."
"Then what threat are you to us?" Raven asked in a monotone. Robin nodded once in agreement before turning to face Beast Boy again.
"I can make your lives miserable without fighting," he said. Just what Slade had told him to say. "Ramming the tower? Just the beginning. Do you know what I can do with these powers? Gnaw security wires. Break open cell doors. Knock out guards." He smiled darkly. "I could release every last criminal in the city. Everyone you've ever put away, back immediately. Mumbo. Jinx. Plasmus. Cinderblock. Overload. I could go on, but you get my point." He had no intent of actually doing any of those things, but he had to agree to say that he would, at the very least. "What'll it be, Robin? Do we talk mano-a-mano, or...?" He let the end of the sentence hang in the air.
The choice was obvious and almost immediate for Robin. What was one criminal compared to twenty-five, fifty, one hundred? If he conceded to Beast Boy now, it would more likely than not be better for the city later, and the safety of the city was his first priority. He turned around completely to face the other three Titans and told them his rationalization. "Go inside. Watch me from the screen. If I'm in real danger, you can come back down; otherwise, stay in the tower until I'm finished." He paused and, as an afterthought, added, "And see what you can do for Terra, too."
Cyborg and Raven acknowledged his decision, though neither thought it was the absolute smartest thing to do, and left the scene of the impending battle. Only Starfire stayed behind. "You are sure you will be all right?" she asked him.
He fully smiled at her, a comforting grin to allay her fears. "I'm sure, Star. I'll be okay." Appearing satisfied with his confirmation, she too finally left. When she was gone, he muttered, "I wasn't in the same position for nothing," and turned back to Beast Boy again. "I'm all alone," he said in a louder voice. "Now, let's talk."
The green youth did not respond with words, but rather changed form into a green-and-black cheetah and, claws and teeth bared and gleaming in the mid-afternoon sun, sprinted towards Robin who, at the last second, jumped over Beast Boy's figure and landed behind him. He snarled, whipped around, and transformed again into something he knew Robin could not leap: /Tyrannosaurus rex/. Robin, still recovering from the leap, could not get out of the way quickly enough; the enormous Tyrannosaur jaws clamped down on his cape and had him trapped. Beast Boy lifted his adversary up by the incredibly strong material in his jaws and tilted back his head. He was about to open his jaws and swallow Robin whole when his captive unlatched a metal pole from his belt and extended it into Beast Boy's beady reptilian eye, which caused him to roar in pain and release his prey.
Propelled by his staff, Robin landed safely several feet away while Beast Boy had to return to his original form to rub his sore eye, which was just beginning to turn red. The former took advantage of the opportunity. "Beast Boy, listen to me. I was Slade's apprentice once. I've been where you are. You don't have to do this. Whatever he gave you, we can give you the same thing. We don't have to be fighting."
He threw his hand down from his eye as an idle threat. "You know what Slade gave me? He gave me acceptance. He made me feel like I was worth something to somebody. You never gave me that, Robin!"
"What? Beast Boy, we let you join us. We made you feel like you were worth it. We accepted you." It was a bit presumptuous of him to say that, he knew, but it was what he felt was the truth. Being a part of the Teen Titans should have made anybody feel their own worth.
Again, Beast Boy did not respond with words, opting instead to change into a bull, angry and snorting. "He's no bullfighter, but he's still got the cape," he thought just before charging. Robin again tried to employ his bo staff, but Beast Boy had become very aware of the threat; as the metal came towards him, he tilted his horns so that the staff would collide and bounce off harmlessly which, much to Robin's dismay, was what happened. By the time the impact of the situation had hit him, the impact of the bull was about to; he had no other choice but to drop and roll out of the way of the rampaging animal coming his way. When he did so, Beast Boy did manage to miss his target, but as he passed two of his hooves trampled Robin's staff and broke it into several pieces, leaving it out of the fight permanently.
Robin had not had time to properly protect himself from the terrain when he had rolled out of the way and had managed to slam his foot against a rock and kick it out of the way, which had left him injured only enough to prevent him from immediately springing back to his feet. Beast Boy skidded to a halt and once again changed to his normal form, then in Robin's moment of incapacitation walked over to his face-up body and stood at his head. He looked down and finally said something.
"You always said I was a weapon, Robin." He fully intended to prove how right Robin had been. Still standing over his former leader's head, he turned into a crocodile and opened his jaws to the width of Robin's head. The pain in Robin's foot prevented him from leaping away, the position he was in made it difficult to lift from his waist, and if he rolled to either side he would impale himself on the crocodile's teeth.
Suddenly, the slab of earth underneath Beast Boy rose up, threw him into the air, then came to his side and bludgeoned him, sending him flying into the river. It was another thing she had not wanted to do, but she could not bear to see Beast Boy like that, so easily one to take another's life. It was not the Beast Boy she knew. She had had to step in, and so she had. Ignoring Robin, she ran over to where she had seen the crocodile land.
Beast Boy was rubbing his head, preemptively nursing a nasty bruise he knew would develop, when he saw out of his good eye the blond hair of a girl he once knew very well; a girl he once thought he loved. But no more. "Why did you do that?" He had been interrupted in the middle of a mission that he knew he was going to win. He had had Robin right there!
She looked at him sadly. "What happened to you, Beast Boy? Why did you join Slade?" Terra knew that some part of him would still have the old Beast Boy she knew and wanted.
"He accepted me! He treated me like a person!"
"I treated you like a person!" she argued.
"You didn't even bother to look for me!" Even Robin could hear his voice now, his pitch had escalated so much. "You call that treating me like a person? I thought we were friends, Terra!"
"We are friends, Beast Boy!"
"Friends look for other friends when they go missing!"
"I did look for you!"
"For how long?!"
He had her there. She could not think of any retaliation; she had, admittedly, not searched for Beast Boy for very long at all. Not as long as she could have, at least.
"That's what I thought," he said when she gave no response. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have business to take care of that doesn't invol-"
"I cried for you!" she shouted at him out of nowhere. He stopped mid-sentence. Now he was the one struck dumb. "I cried for you, Beast Boy. From the day you left until last night, I cried for you. For two weeks, I cried for you." Tears were welling up in her eyes even as she said it. "Now tell me we're not friends, Beast Boy."
He stood there for a few moments, thinking of something to say. Nobody had ever cried for him and let him know about it. In fact, he was sure nobody had ever cried for him at all. His parents? No. His parents probably could not be any happier right now, now that their freak of a son was out of their lives. And that was all he had. He had his parents, and he had the Titans.
No. No, he did not have the Titans. He had Terra. The other Titans showed nothing like that to him. He could be friends with Terra, yes, but he still had to fight Robin, and he still could serve Slade. He was in the middle of explaining that to Terra when he took a third blow to his head from a green-gloved fist and fell down, knocked out cold.
"Thanks for running interference, Terra," Robin said to her. "I never would have gotten him otherwise."
But Terra was anything but gracious for Robin's thanks. "Robin, what did you just do? I wasn't running interference! I was talking to him!" The tears that she had been holding back started trailing down her face, but she would not let Robin see them. She turned away from him and ran back into the tower and did not look back.
After the sun had set, Robin went to Terra's room and knocked on her door. Her eyes were still red when she answered, and the only reason she let him in in the first place was because Starfire, who had joined Terra earlier in the evening in an attempt to comfort her without knowing why she had been crying, requested that she let him in.
"Terra, I'm sorry," he began. She did not even try to stop him. "Beast Boy turned into a criminal. He was working for Slade, he attacked our tower, and he tried to kill me. I had to do what I did; I just wish I hadn't had to do it in front of you. And I really had no idea that you and he were just talking. If I had known that, you know I wouldn't have done that.
"But he isn't dead, for whatever that's worth." He tried to smile at that, but seeing that neither Terra nor Starfire were in any condition to do so, he returned to a straight face and continued. "He's in prison for an indefinite amount of time, in a special cell where Slade can't get to him. And since he's in prison now, Slade won't have any more use for him. You only get one chance to fail Slade." And now he spoke from experience. "So when his sentence is over, the next time you see him, he won't be Slade's apprentice any more. And when that happens," and there he paused. Would it be a good idea to let Beast Boy back in, after what he, Robin, had done to him? He looked at Terra, and at Starfire, and then down at the threshold of Terra's room, then back to Terra.
"When that happens, we'll let him in again. And this time, it'll be permanent."
She looked at him with a strange mix of sadness, anger, relief, and happiness in her red eyes. "You know I'm not going to be able to forgive you that easily, right?" He nodded. "Starfire, you can leave now. I'm going to bed." The Tamaranean complied, and she and Robin left the room together to the sound of Terra's door sliding closed. She did not even intend to change into her pajamas; the sooner she got to sleep, the better, and that would involve doing the fewest other things possible. Instead of taking her bed as she was accustomed to, she curled herself along the curve of the couch and slept there, in the black shirt and denim shorts she had been wearing only a few hours ago.
The sun shone bright on Terra's face the next morning; too bright for her tastes. She got up off her couch and walked to the open window across from her that she could have sworn she had remembered to close the previous night. She pulled the window closed and drew the curtains to block the sun, and was about to move back to her couch when she noticed a small piece of paper that had fluttered from the curtains to the floor. Turning it over from the blank side on which it had landed, she discovered it was a note. She read.
We are friends, and we always will be. And now, I'll be the one looking for you.
For the first time in fifteen days, the blonde girl smiled.