Title: Puberty
Author: Jordanna Morgan (librarie@jordanna.net)
Archive Rights: Please request the author’s consent.
Rating/Warnings: G.
Characters: Beast Boy.
Setting: Sometime after “The Beast Within”.
Summary: Adolescence is complicated when you have a zoo inside you. Fortunately, Beast Boy has found a compromise.
Disclaimer: They belong to DC Comics and Cartoon Network. I’m just playing with them.
Notes: Just a random one-shot. In part, this is probably a way of working out my perceptions and ideas about Beast Boy’s powers.

 

Puberty

 

It was late.

Beast Boy rolled over in bed, dangling one leg over the side and draping an arm across his eyes. The air in his bedroom seemed warm, although he knew it wasn’t. He couldn’t sleep, and his skin felt tight, constricting the unsettled urges that were crawling through his veins. The desire to run, to fly, to swim… to chase things.

After a little more blank contemplation, he slid off the bed and crept into the hall, making his way toward the nearest exit from Titans Tower.

These occasional bouts of prickling insomnia had never been a thing when he was younger. Oh yes, the animal instincts were there when he was actually in an animal’s form, a helpful tool to guide his use of each unique ability those forms gave him; but when he was himself, he didn’t feel them. They never bled over into his human behavior.

Well, okay, maybe just a little. But only in cute, harmless, puppy-like ways. The instincts had not manifested as something more until after the chemical spill that unleashed a very different, more primal part of his inhuman side.

…No. That was a lie. The truth was, his animal instincts were growing more insistent before that. Not for very long, but long enough for him to know these were two entirely separate events—and the restlessness came first. It hadn’t been triggered by the emergence of his primal form at all.

If anything, it was much closer to the other way around.

On the ground floor of the Tower, Beast Boy quietly let himself out through a rear exit. He crossed the bare ground of the obstacle course, and continued on to the edge of the island’s rocky shore.

Across the bay, the lights of Jump City glittered. A breeze ruffled Beast Boy’s hair, and he tilted his head up, breathing it in with eyes closed. The scents on the wind made his urges clamor a little more strongly, as a dozen animals simultaneously tugged at their inner leashes inside him. If he assumed each form in turn, the jumble of conflicting desires would take him all night to satisfy.

Fortunately, he had an alternative now. He centered himself, reached inward, and transformed—bulking into a massive, savage shape that was at once an amalgam of many animals, yet unlike anything else in the world. Shaggy striped fur, hulking gorilla shoulders, a wolfen muzzle armed with fangs that competed with long razor claws for sharpness.

A werebeast, for lack of a better name.

The beast grunted and stretched, back arching and hackles bristling. It sniffed the air, swiveled its ears, taking in a world of new information that even Beast Boy’s ordinarily keen senses could not detect. Then, with a deep whuff, it launched itself across the rocks and began to run.

Beast Boy did not really think in this form, as most people would define it. Not that he really did much more thinking than he could help under any circumstances—but the werebeast’s instincts were more potent than any of those that came from his usual animal forms. They quieted and repressed his human mind, like wrapping it in a warm soft blanket that induced a hazy forgetfulness.

It hadn’t always seemed warm. Not at first, when he had fought it. Not until he learned to trust and embrace it.

The first emergence of this form had been as terrifying to him as it was to his friends. He thought he was becoming a monster, losing control of his powers. He even thought that perhaps he was coming apart at the seams altogether, his changeable DNA finally tearing itself apart. But the worst fear of all was that he might have hurt someone else, and might do it again—all while his human self was unable to stop it, or even fully realize it.

In the end, he and the other Titans had discovered otherwise. Equipped though it was for savagery, his werebeast manifestation had only acted with violence to protect Raven from danger. Its wildness was not an absolute lack of restraint. The core of his feelings and intentions was still a part of it, guiding its behavior.

And as frightening as the experience was, he later realized something else: for some time afterward, his other animal impulses were unexpectedly subdued. The instincts that had recently been pulling harder at him were once more in their place, no longer a distraction to his human side.

After cautious experimentation, and a bit more of that thinking business than he cared for, Beast Boy thought he had a handle on exactly what was going on.

It was some sort of puberty thing.

After being so calm and easily managed during his childhood, the instincts must have started behaving more noisily because he was beginning to mature. They were acting like—and perhaps even interacting with—the pesky hormones that made adolescence such a pain even for normal people. Most teenaged boys merely got zits, and hair in new places, and funny feelings; he got a whole Noah’s Ark of animal urges tugging his mind and body in many different directions at once. It really wasn’t a wonder that he had already been under some stress when he was doused with those chemicals.

While it was the chemical exposure that first triggered his werebeast form, Beast Boy became convinced that his system had taken advantage of it. When the beast submerged his human mind, the instincts of his more commonplace animals also found a greater release than he was usually inclined to give them. It was a catharsis, a therapeutic purging of those built-up primal tensions.

Before long, he began permitting himself to indulge in that release on a regular basis. When the restless skittering of impulses in his brain kept him awake at night, when misplaced urges started creeping into his conscious actions, he would venture out alone in the darkness and relieve the instincts all at once. He would let them vent themselves through the beast, harmlessly, on the empty grounds of the Titans’ island.

He still had to be careful. Although he used it privately as this strange sort of coping mechanism, he was reluctant to take his werebeast form in battle, except as a last resort. He could call upon it only when his anger was directed at foes he very much intended to inflict damage on—and when he was sure the friends he meant to protect were not in his path. Once let out, the beast’s aggression would never be easy to rein in, and it would always carry the risk of getting a little too far out of control.

But he had come to be glad it was a part of him, all the same. It kept his conflicted being in balance.

Having had its fill of bounding freely around the beach and the obstacle course, it loped back to the water’s edge. Ripples glittered beneath the moonlight as a school of small fish darted just under the surface. The beast plunged into the water and swam, snapping knife-like teeth in the midst of flashing silver bodies, gulping down several fish whole. In the part of Beast Boy’s mind that was still vaguely aware of his actions, he did not enjoy the feeling of slippery scales sliding down his throat—but he didn’t resist it. Far better that it be fish than warm-blooded animals, at least… and something inside him, in the animal part that was now outgrowing the age of mere play, needed this. It needed to hunt in earnest, to claim the triumph of consuming prey. This was simply a part of the compromise he was learning to live with, as he and the menagerie within him felt their way through the process of maturing together.

He just really hoped his friends never learned about this occasional, grudging exception to his dietary habits, because he would never hear the end of it.

Its belly full, the beast paddled back to shore and clambered out of the water. Droplets sprayed as it shook itself dry. After briefly snuffling around the rocks, it flopped down on its side in the shelter of an overhanging ledge, sated and content as no human could ever imagine being.

For a brief moment, Beast Boy hazily considered reasserting his higher will now, and reverting to his human form; but he decided against it. Not just yet.

He would let a nap come first.


© 2014 Jordanna Morgan