Terra wove her way through the aisles of tables and chairs to her customer, producing a menu and handing it to him with a smile.
"My name's Terra and I'm your waitress for this afternoon, can I take your order?" she reeled off, keeping her tone upbeat as she could. "Soup of the day is Leek and Potato," she informed before the customer could ask, "All of our meals come with a side of fries and free coffee refills."
The customer said something that went directly to the order pad - bypassing her brain entirely - and she smiled mechanically, finishing the rest of the bullshit transaction, trying to not glance at the clock. Or at least to not glance at the clock too often.
Ben's - the little diner she worked at - wasn't much. The wallpaper, once a happy yellow, had long been bleached off-white in the sun. The tables wobbled, the chairs with their ripped upholstery creaked and grease hung thick in the air. Terra was a waitress, but most of her time was spent mopping the floors and cleaning the grime from the windows in an effort to draw more people in. There were only two other waitresses and a pair of cooks, but they always outnumbered the custom .
The shifts were long, hard and boring and the routine of her day would have been enough to wear her teeth down to the gums, but she supposed she shouldn't complain. As young as she had been on first coming to Jump City, she had been extremely lucky to get the position.
"I'm going on my break, Pam," she said when she was inside the kitchen, tossing her apron down on the side, fishing her pack of cigarettes from her pocket. Not waiting for a reply from her senior waitress, Terra opened the back door and sat outside on the step, lighting the end of the cigarette and letting it hang loosely in her fingers.
The weather outside wasn't exactly cheerful, but the chill and damp of the drizzle were a blessing compared to the thick muggy air inside. A shiver wracked her for a moment and she wrapped her bare arms around herself, careful not to touch the cigarette to her equally bare legs.
Feeling a headache come on, Terra closed her eyes and bowed her head, letting the sounds of downtown Jump wash over her. Barely nineteen and smoking? What would her parents say...
"You know that's bad for you, right?" came a light voice from the alley. She opened her eyes.
"Sorry, your order's not ready yet," she told the cute guy with a smile, flicking her fingers to expel the cigarette ash. The clouds above threatened rain.
"Actually," he scratched the back of his head, "I was kinda hoping you might have a vacancy."
"You looking for work?" she asked, quickly losing interest, watching the cigarette tip flare red with the breeze, fighting another shudder, shifting closer to the open doorway. Already so cold... Autumn must be coming on fast this year.
He laughed suddenly and she felt the soft brush of his hoodie as he sat in the space next to her, far away enough to not be invasive. "You got me; this is how I pick up girls. Is it working?"
Terra grinned and looked up at him, though her retort stuck in her throat and she froze.
"Y-.. you're green," she said, eyes wide.
He just watched her reaction, and smiled after a few moments, only serving to unnerve her further.
Why wasn't this scaring him? Who just randomly turns green in the middle of a conversation?
Unless... Had he always been green? Was she only noticing now?
"This would be the part where I remind you that smoking is bad for your health," he shrugged, "But I suppose I don't have anything to worry about. Passive smoking won't hurt you too bad."
Terra frowned, even more confused. "I'm not passive smoking," she raised her hand up to show him, "why would I have a cigarette in my hand if I was passive smoking?"
The green guy shrugged and met her gaze steadily. "You tell me."
Unable to think of a comeback, Terra huffed and looked away, flicking the cigarette again. They sat in silence, and a few fat raindrops landed on the pavement.
"What's your name?" he asked suddenly, and Terra gave him a look.
"You know what my name is," she said, glancing pointedly at her name tag. He grinned infectiously at her, and she found she had to consciously stop herself from grinning in return.
"I know. I was just hoping it would lead you to ask my name too."
Terra laughed a little despite herself, "I guess I foiled your plans then."
He smiled widely at her, and she averted her gaze.
"I'm Beast Boy," he pointed towards himself with a thumb, "but I guess that's a little conspicuous, so you should call me ‘BB'." he finished, ignoring the look Terra was giving him.
There was a tense pause during which Beast Boy's 100-watt grin didn't dim even slightly, serving to piss Terra off even more.
Finally, Terra stood up and adjusted her canary yellow uniform (it was obviously designed with curvier women in mind) and looked down at him with barely concealed annoyance.
"You're funny," she remarked sarcastically, putting her cigarette out with the heel of her shoe, "We don't have any vacancies."
With that, she turned and re-entered the kitchen, closing the door behind her.
It wasn't long after her break that the skies opened, showering the streets in a heavy downpour of rain that continued right to the end of her shift.
By the time she'd made it to the bus shelter a few roads away, she was soaked through to the bone. She stood shivering, arms wrapped tight around herself, long blonde hair plastered to her face and neck. The streets were deserted, which wasn't odd in this part of town, and the rain hammered on the roof of the shelter so loud that she couldn't even hear her teeth chattering. She danced on the spot, hoping the movement would warm her up but instead it just made her shiver ever more violently.
"Come on, bus.." she muttered to herself, looking both ways as if the bus would come from the other direction to confuse her.
"You look cold,'
Terra jumped, whirling around to where the amused remark had come from.
"Are you following me?" she asked, trembling with chills, noticing with a surge of annoyance that the green guy - she refused to call him Beast Boy - looked warm like it was a sunny day in June.
"Do you not own a coat or something?" he continued as if he hadn't heard her, hands in his pockets, leaning nonchalantly against the bus stop.
Terra stood shivering for a few seconds before she replied, "It's August."
The green guy watched her for a moment and Terra felt slightly ... intimidated by the protective look in his eyes.
"Look, Terra..." he started cautiously, "'Beast Boy' is an alias."
Well, that much was obvious. Terra rolled her eyes and looked away.
"I'm sorry I made you mad but," at this, he trailed off and she looked back up at him. He was frowning, not at her, but as if he could not find the right words, "You aren't gonna believe anything I have to say to you if you can't believe that 'Beast Boy' is the name I go by so I guess..." he reached toward her, resting a tentative hand on her shoulder, "I'm asking you to take a leap of faith."
Terra thought, scepticism obvious in her expression.
"You aren't gonna leave me alone until I hear you out, are you?"
"Nope," he shook his head, sheepishly apologetic.
Terra sighed and shrugged, indicating for him to continue.
"So, I guess the thing is..." he paused dramatically, leaning into her, continuing in a low voice "I'm from the future, and I'm here to save you."
Terra wanted to laugh, but the serious expression on his face made a dead weight settle in her stomach. After a while, he cracked a grin and stuck his tongue out at her, blowing a raspberry.
Terra was laughing until the bus arrived.
Terra stamped her feet against the concrete floor. She let the heavy door swing shut behind her and, fishing around in her pockets for her keys, she climbed the stairs to her tiny, dingy apartment. She shoved the key into the lock, pressing against the door with her side. She knew from experience that it wouldn't open any other way.
The door opened and she shuddered unpleasantly. Her entire flat was freezing. Stepping inside, she moved the water bucket back to its post in the middle of the hall; the ceiling was dripping again. She made a mental note to go for the ground floor flat next time.
She stood in the hall and peeled her sodden uniform off, hanging it on the radiator and hoping that it would dry in time for her shift in the morning. Terra hugged herself and regret prodded at her; she could have done with Beast Boy's hoodie after all.
//Terra turned to the bus and leaned toward it to board. She heard a zipper being undone and then there was a light weight on her shoulders and the feel of warm fleece on her bare arms. Clutching the hoodie together in one hand to keep it from slipping, she looked back in confusion.
"I can't take your hoodie," she told him after a moment, starting to take it off.
Beast Boy shrugged, "You need it more than me, skinny T," he had replied, a slight laugh at the end.
"I just met you. I don't even know your name. Your real name," she amended, peeling the hoodie - now damp from her skin- off and handing it back to him.
He accepted the black and purple garment back without question, as if he expected it to happen.
"My apartment isn't far from the bus stop. I'll be fine," she promised, feeling like this was the kind of person she had to say such things to. It frightened her a little, "and don't call me Skinny T, Green Bean."
His raspy laughter followed her onto the bus and all the way home.//
Terra sighed. Beast Boy - though annoying and invasive and a little creepy - was growing on her.
Fiddling with her necklace, she flicked the hob on and tipped the rest of a can of Baked Beans into a saucepan. Sitting up on the counter, she chewed her necklace chain, staring off in thought.
Beast Boy really was nice... when he wasn't being irritating. Although... she supposed she'd overreacted at the whole name thing, so that just left her with "Beast Boy really was nice"... and she wasn't sure how she felt about that.
She came out of her thoughts with a zing - a literal one - and threw herself away from the hob and thrust her leg under the tap, cursing loudly.
"OW OW OW owwwww fucking OW!" she whined to herself, watching the burn turn white under the cold water.
Well, this was just great.
You look around, and you know you're in a cave. There's a small light in the corner, not enough to see clearly, but you know you're in a cave just like you know you're breathing and just like you know your heart's beating inside your ribs and your eyes blinking inside your head.
"This is fine work, Apprentice." a voice says, and a shiver runs up your spine.
You feel conflict.
A figure comes into view and the last thing you see is a half-orange mask.
Terra gasped. Sitting up hurriedly, she felt her head hit something and she threw herself back down onto her pillow, blinking away stars. Fighting through the pain, she scrambled around on the floor - she must have rolled off of her bed in the night - looking around desperately for something to write on.
She found the pen first, and then an old Chinese takeaway menu with enough of a margin to be useable. Pressing the pen to paper, Terra paused.
It was gone.
She threw the pen across the room and groaned in exasperation, pressing her head to the floor.
She had been so close...
The shrill cry of her alarm summoned her back from her depression. She shut it off and mused over the fact that she didn't feel accomplishment from remembering long enough to know she remembered, but instead she felt anguish that she remembered long enough to know she forgot.
She sighed, and then she let the feeling go completely.
It was time for another day in heaven.