Tactile

Words Said

Clark groaned as the golden glow faded around him and he stepped out of the zetta-tube and into the Cave's hangar. He had a splitting headache but tried his best to ignore it for the moment. He was going to have a very strongly worded conversation with his clone when this was all over –provided said clone was still well and able to talk when this was all over. The Superman wasn't quite sure how long he'd been out, but the moment he came-to, he rushed off to Mt. Justice to make sure the Superboy didn't do anything he would do.

The hangar was forebodingly quiet.

The Superman stretched his hearing, scanning the halls and corridors of the Cave for any sound that might indicate a battle of any kind was still going on. There were none. Clark crossed the empty hangar and entered the common area. Mal, the Team's communications tech was seated on the couch sorting and filing reports. He did not seem the least bit distressed, but Clark didn't know if he should take that as a good sign or a bad one given the nature of the issue.

Still, he ventured to ask, "Did Kon-El come by here? Do you know where he is?"

"He's in the infirmary." Mal replied matter-of-factly, not bothering to look up from his task.

Clark zoomed out of the common room with nothing to announce his exit but a rush of air. He burst into the Cave's infirmary, fearing the worst had happened to his little brother, and was pleasantly surprised yet also thoroughly embarrassed to find that the boy was fine. He stood at a bedside, starring at the newly arrived Superman with a mixture of startled confusion, amusement, and ever-so-slight alarm. Robin stood on the opposite side of the bed, also looking at him in slight confusion. He had changed from his winter stealth gear into the normal red and black Robin uniform.

"Aw, Supes, you didn't have to rush all the way down here to see me." Joked the man lying in the bed. "Batman didn't even come."

Clark just gaped at Dick's smiling face, his eyes obscured by dark black-out shades. "Nightwing?"

"You were expecting maybe Flamebird?" Kon-El smirked.

"Oh, be nice." The Robin chastised him. "He's probably still recovering from shock after learning about your new power, on top of that nasty bump you gave him."

At the mention of that, the Superboy flushed apologetically. "Yeah… Sorry 'bout that. Is your head okay?"

Clark reeled for a moment. The last he was aware of was that Nightwing and Black Canary were going to talk to M'gann about her conduct and Kon seemed to behave as if it would turn into a life-or-death situation if he wasn't there. When Clark got to the Cave, he had half-expected to be greeted by a distraught Canary tasked with the unpleasant job of informing him that M'gann had done the worst to Kon-El. Instead, here was Kon standing, joking, apologizing and just generally acting like a normal teenager. On the other hand, Dick was the one that seemed to have been hospitalized.

"What happened?" Asked the Man of Steel. "Where's M'gann?"


Virescent green skin faded and shifted into a fair Caucasian peach. M'gann looked up at Black Canary and her uncle. "Okay. I'm ready."

La'gaan held her hand while they fitted an inhibitor collar around her slender neck. As the collar flared to life, the shape-shifter felt her body go static, it felt as if a phantom limb that she didn't even know she had was suddenly bound and permanently immobilized as it suppressed her telekinetic power, and she had the sudden and irrational sensation of going deaf as her telepathy was shut off. The world had suddenly become such a static, confining and quiet place.

M'gann looked at herself in mirror. The figure of Magen Morse looked back at her, short red-haired, fair-skinned, and naked but for a simple bathrobe that La'gaan had provided for her. This would be her form from this moment onward. From now until Black Canary decided she could return to the Team. Her powers taken from her, suppressed by the inhibitor collar she now wore around her neck. Magen ran one slender human hand over the cool metal band.

"I'll have to go clothing shopping…" She muttered absentmindedly. "Since I can't shape-shift, I can't make my own. I guess turtle-necks are gonna become my signature look now."

"M'gann, this doesn't have to be permanent." Canary reminded her.

"I know." She responded, still studying her reflection. She traced over the auburn eyes framed by pale peach skin, the delicate chin, slender neck… Her eyes skipped over the collar and instead continued onto the narrow shoulders, the slender arm draped in the sleeve of La'gaan's bathrobe, the hand still enclosed in his… He gave her a reassuring squeeze, she did not squeeze back. "I know."


It was not until M'gann had gone to bed for the evening –earlier than she usually did- that Superboy was cornered in the halls by the Lagoon Boy. He stood in the center of a narrow passage, effectively blocking the demi-kryptonian's path. Arms crossed over his chest, glaring at Kon-El. He said nothing.

"Do you wanna hit me?" Kon offered.

"I am thinking about it." Admitted the atlantian.

"I'll let you. Just this once. One free hit, for the part I played in what happened to M'gann."

"'For the part you played…'" La'gaan echoed. He stood silently a moment, considering, then shook his head in a negative. "I'm not gonna hit you, old chum. But… I do want to know… Is it true? The reason you broke-up with her last year, is that what really happened? M'gann never told me why you left her and… I guess… It bothered me."

The Superboy's expression softened, but the Lagoon Boy couldn't tell if it was sympathy or understanding that he was now looking at. When the demi-kryptonian spoke again, his voice was wistful. "M'gann is a very complicated woman." He explained. "She has deep emotional scars that travel back to her childhood on Mars, because of them it's hard for her to trust people entirely. I'm not surprised she never told you why I left her."

"You didn't answer my question." La'gaan noted. "Is it true? The reason you broke-up with her."

Without infraction, Kon asked flatly, "What reason did you hear?"

"She tried to control your mind."

"Yes, its true."

"Shit." The atlantian breathed.

They stood in silence for a long moment after that, La'gaan contemplating this confirmation and Kon studying him. Finally, after the silence dragged on long enough, the demi-kryptonian asked, "So, now that you know, what are you gonna do with the information?"

The Lagoon Boy was silent a moment longer before finally answering, "Nothing. I know what I've always wondered about. Now, I'll probably spend the rest of tonight digesting the information and freaking out over all the possible implications. But tomorrow, I'm gonna wake-up, go into my girlfriend's room with breakfast for her, put my arms around her and remind her that I'm not you."

The Superboy considered this, a slight scowl darkening his face, before he replied, "La'gaan, you are either a far stronger man than me… Or else, the single dumbest person on the planet. I can't decide."

The atlantian gave him a lopsided grin. "I feel the same way about you." He admitted. "Especially knowing what I know now. It takes a special kind of strength to leave an abusive partner, and I admire you for recognizing what she did and getting out. But, it also takes a special kind of strength to know and understand a partner is abusive and choose to stay with them and support them as they seek help."

"I have a different opinion, but I'll spare you my 'sanctimonious speech'. Its your life, you're free to ruin it as you see fit."

"She can't use her telepathy anymore." La'gaan reminded him. "Thanks to the inhibitor collar."

"That doesn't mean her behavior pattern will instantly change." The Superboy reminded him. "It'll be a long time yet before Canary decides its safe for the collar to come off."

La'gaan heaved a dramatic sigh. "Say what you want. But at the end of the day, I still want to be with her rather than be alone."

"That just shows your own weakness and dependency issues." Kon took a step forward and squeezed past the Lagoon Boy. After a few paces, though, the demi-kryptonian paused, turned, and said in a voice that was commiseration embodied, "La'gaan, in regards to M'gann, if you ever… feel out of your depth, give me a call."

The atlantian hesitated for only the briefest of moments before nodding. "I'll keep that in mind."


The scandal was a hot topic within the Team for several weeks. But as spring transitioned into summer, people lost interest in Miss Martian's conduct and penalty, and talk turned to other things. Vacation plans, those that still attended school would be off for three months. Crime rate statistics, murder rates went up in summer. Just general relative 'normal' life stuff, because that was as close to normal as life got for the Team.

"So, my birthday's also in July." Tim informed the Superboy one day on the beach in the middle of their yoga practice. It had become something of a weekly routine of their's now.

"That's a non-sequitur." Kon commented without the slightest pause between poses.

"I just thought you should know." The Robin explained. "'Cause I figured you didn't."

"Is this Robin-speak for 'I expect a gift'?"

"Is that Kon-speak for 'I'm not getting you anything'?" Tim shot back, a lighthearted grin on his face. It was nice bantering with the demi-kryptonian, it was as lighthearted and easy as bantering with Dick, but not nearly as cheesy. "I'll be turning fourteen, by the way."

"I'll be turning six."

The Boy Wonder winced at being reminded that while he may look older, the Superboy was actually eight years younger than him. It sometimes slipped his mind because Kon acted the age he looked –sixteen. Sometimes he even acted a bit older. They were both old for their ages. Perhaps that was why they got along so well?

"I'll get you the latest action figure that all the six-year-olds are wetting themselves over." Tim promised.

"Fine. Then I'll get you the latest monster-collector game that all the fourteen-year-olds are cumming themselves over." Kon vowed.

"Alright, then."

"Okay, then."

…And it was then, as the two boys were exchanging knowing smiles because they both knew they had just created something that would turn into an inside-joke for years to come, that M'gann walked up to them. She was barefoot in the sand, wearing a pair of Daisy Duke cut-off shorts, and a cheerfully bright yellow top, sleeveless but with a high neck that just managed to cover the inhibitor collar she still wore.

"Hi." She said, that one word causing both boys to stop mid-pose and turn their attention toward her. "Can I… speak to you?"

Tim disappeared before Kon could even give his reply.

The Superboy fidgeted in the sand awkwardly. "Listen, M'gann…"

"I'm sorry." She cut him off before he could go into full 'sanctimonious speech' mode.

Kon froze, not sure what to say to that.

The crash of the surf on the sand sounded loud to his ears. Gulls cawed overhead, scavenging for something tasty on the beach. A crab scuttled under a rock. All around them, the world went on turning, but for Conner and M'gann, standing on the beach, staring at one another… time seemed to freeze.

Finally, after the waves churned seven times and the gulls rested on the rocks, seeking the crabs that lurked there, the Superboy spoke again.

"I've had this dream." He began. "Ever since I was liberated from Cadmus, the same dream. I'm sitting at the head of this table, and all around the table are people who tried to manipulate me. At first it was just Desmond and a couple of G-gnomes. Then Lex joined the table, then Queen Bee, Psimon, Doctor Destiny… I could go on. But one person that I never expected to see at that table, M'gann, was you."

There was a beat of silence.

And then… "Is this the dream where they open your skull and carve your brain like Thanksgiving turkey?"

"You know it!?" He was alarmed.

Her fair skin colored a very human shade of pink. "Sometimes… when we slept together, you would… project."

He nodded his understanding. "Last year, M'gann, you joined in that dream. You have your own place of honor at the table, at my right hand, just opposite Lex. You're one of them now. At least, that's what you are to me. So… when Canary decides you're ready, when that collar comes off and you rejoin the Team, I've still got your back. I'll still protect you on missions; I'll cover your ass, and keep you from dying, or getting left behind. But that is all I'll do. I will not speak with you outside of Team business. I will not hang out with you. We are not friends. You're one of them. So… thank you for the apology. But I can't accept it, because I can't forgive you. Because I can't trust you."

She was silent one… two… three beast.

Then, "I see." She pursed her lips. "So that's it then? That's all that needs to be said, or will be said between us?"

Now it was Kon's turn to pause before saying, "There is one thing. Last year, on the night that… on that night, I asked if that was the only time you ever tried to control me with your powers, before and you said that it was. Is that true? Was that night really the only time, or were you re-writing my memories throughout our whole relationship?"

This time the silence that dragged on following his question was almost unbearably long. The waves grew softer as the tide reseeded, the gulls roosted. Kon could feel the sun traveling low in the sky.

"I…" She finally said. "I'm… not ready to answer that."

He only stared at her.

She lowered her eyes. "Guess I just did."

And those were all the words said between them.


END


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