Feedback: Please be gentle.
Distribution: Gimme credit and a link.
Rating: Maybe a little harsh language, certainly some violence, but nothing worse than on BtVS.
Spoilers: Diverges wildly after Halloween for BtVS with possible spoilers up to the season eight comic and pretty much up to current DCU.
Disclaimer: The characters depicted herein belong to other people. I'm just borrowing them for a while.
Summary: YAHF. When a young man comes back from the dead, how will his friends react?
Author's Note: Yeppers. Another bunny that wouldn't leave me alone. I guess I'm about due another barrage of new WIPs.
Conner dropped to his knees and tried to sort through the haze. Where was he? A... street? In a suburb somewhere? He frowned. The last thing he remembered was fighting that crazy other Superboy... and smashing into that big tower... and then... and then...
His eyes snapped wide open.
In a flash, he took to the sky, not noticing the incorporeal redhead he left in his wake.
Wonder Girl hovered in front of the statue and wept silently. What she'd found in Robin's hidden laboratory had brought the pain and loss back. The wound was still raw and fresh, even after a year.
She gasped. The voice came from behind her, but she didn't turn around. She shook her head. "Shut up," she whispered. "You're not real. You can't be real. I have to accept that."
"Cassie, what happened?" the voice came again. "Please, tell me. The last thing I remember was... was fighting that... other Superboy. I remember smashing into that big tower, and then... what happened, Cassie? Please."
"You died," she said, resigned to playing along with the hallucination.
"Oh." She almost laughed. It sounded so... dumb. It sounded just like him when he realized he was being an idiot. "I guess... I guess that explains the statue, huh? Explains a lot, actually."
She couldn't control herself anymore. She turned, expecting to find herself talking to thin air. Instead... she gasped. She flew toward him uncertainly. He stayed where he was, letting her control the situation.
She collapsed into his arms and sobbed. She could feel his arms around her, strong and powerful. This was real. This was really happening.
"You're really here," she murmured.
"Yeah," Conner Kent replied. "I am."
She blinked her tears away and looked up at his face. She reached up and stroked his cheek, "You look... different."
He reached up and took hold of her hand, "Yeah. I kinda noticed that on my way here. I'm not sure what's going on, but... I'm here, now, and that's all that matters."
"You're right," she agreed quietly, leaning into him. "I missed you."
"I'm just glad you're all right," he said. He looked up at the statue and shook his head, "I can't believe they built a statue."
"You should see the one in Metropolis," she teased, glad for the distraction. "It's even bigger."
"Nope. It's huge."
A million different questions ran through her mind -- chief among them being "Is it really him?" and "If it is, how?" -- and she doubted she would get the answers from him.
But they could wait. Even if he wasn't real, she could at least enjoy the illusion for a little while.
He was kissing someone when the spell broke.
It wasn't his first kiss, not really. But he doubted that time he and Willow had kissed when they were five or that time when he was possessed by a hyena really counted for much. They certainly had nothing on this kiss.
He could feel her need as she kissed him fiercely, holding him tight, even as his own arms encircled her gently. It would be so easy to lose himself in the sensations...
He pulled away. She resisted. He persisted until she relented... and then pulled himself free of the hug until he hovered a few feet away from her, both of them high over San Francisco Bay.
The blonde blinked at him, confusion on her face, "Conner? What's wrong?"
Alexander Lavelle Harris looked up at her, sorrow and regret in his eyes. "I'm sorry," he choked out in a ragged voice. "I'm not Conner."
He turned... and fled.
"We've all been under a lot of stress lately, Cassie," Robin said gently. "New team, new members -- and I'm sure Ravager hasn't been making it easy on you -- Cyborg waking up, and then that mess with the Brotherhood..."
"I'm not crazy, Tim," she glowered. "It was him." She looked down, shaking her head, and said quietly, "And then, suddenly, it wasn't."
"Look, Cassie," he sighed, "I wish he'd come back too. You know that. But right now, Raven needs our help, wherever she is, and we'll be leaving for Russia tomorrow."
Cyborg had found the recording. Raven had been incredibly cryptic, only speaking obliquely of why she left, of how something she had could wreck morale even further, of how she wished Cyborg were awake to help. The last place Raven had been heard from was Russia, just last week.
"I'm not going," she said.
Robin looked at her, "What?"
She looked up, meeting his gaze, and repeated, "I'm not going. Even if that wasn't Conner last night, I... I have to find out who it was. And why. And how he knew all those things he knew about Conner. I'm sorry, Tim. But I have to know."
She turned and walked away.
A part of Robin wanted to stop her, but it was a small part, one that remembered that impulsive kiss they'd shared in his hidden cloning facility where he was trying to reclone Conner. It was a part of him that was shoved to the darkest corner of his mind where it wouldn't distract him.
After all, maybe it really was Conner.
Cassandra Elizabeth Sandsmark waited in front of the school. It had taken her several days to narrow it down. Conner had told her where he'd woken up, in the middle of the street in some small town. Coupled with the direction he -- or whoever it was -- had flown off in, she had an idea where to look.
There was definitely something strange in this town, though. Once she got within about a mile of it, she could feel something reaching into her head, trying to cloud her mind. It wasn't invasive, and it seemed to be some kind of localized effect, rather than a direct attack, so she filed it away. The Titans could investigate later.
Assuming they actually got a proper mystic in the group, that is.
She ignored the looks and stares she received from the passing students and teachers, as well as the whispers from the crowd that formed. She wasn't surprised. She was wearing her Wonder Girl outfit -- a red sleeveless shirt with gold trim and an eagle design on the front, blue jeans, and her lasso -- so a little attention was to be expected.
There he was. She felt her knees go weak at the visual reminder. He was wearing jeans, a flannel shirt, and a huge, goofy grin. He was walking down the front steps and talking with a pretty, if mousy, redhead. She stamped out a flare of jealousy and started walking. He had turned around and was walking backwards by the time she reached them.
"...and- hey, Will, what's wrong? You look like you've seen a- huh?" he blinked as he backed into her, then turned and blinked at her, first in confusion, then recognition... then regret.
She ground her teeth and declared, "We. Need. To. Talk."
"Yeah," he nodded, closing his eyes. He looked up and met her gaze again, "I guess we do."
She could feel her heart constrict. It was his voice. The face was different, yes, but the voice wasn't... and his eyes held the same mix of strength and caring she had seen in the eyes of everyone who wore the S shield.
He turned and looked at the redhead, who was opening and closing her mouth wordlessly, and said, "Go on ahead, Will. I'll call you tonight."
"A-a-all right," the redhead blinked, still half-stunned.
Cassie picked him up from under his shoulders and took off.
"Did Wonder Girl just fly off with Xander?"
"'Kay, just checking."
They were above cloud level when she finally broke the silence, "Can you fly?
She let him go, and he hovered in place, then turned around to face her. Xander licked his lips uncertainly, "I guess you want some sort of explanation."
She crossed her arms and glared at him, "That would be a good start."
He sighed and closed his eyes. How should he explain this? He barely understood what had happened himself. And he still remembered.
Certainly enough to understand how badly this was affecting Cassie.
After a moment, he opened his eyes and met her gaze, "It was Halloween, Ca- Wonder Girl. I wanted... I wanted to be a real hero, even if it was just pretend. So I dressed as Superboy. Our Superboy, not that psycho who killed m- him. But something happened, someone cast a spell. Everyone who bought any part of their costume from a certain store, including me, turned into whoever or whatever they dressed as."
He looked away. He couldn't face her, not about this. He continued, "I don't know why I kept the powers -- no one else did -- or why the memories I got didn't fade like everyone else's did, but I did, and they didn't. I'm sorry, Ca- Wonder Girl. I know how much you miss him. But I'm not him."
"But you were," she countered, almost accusingly. "For one night, you were."
"Yes," he agreed gently, "for one night, but that night's gone, Cassie. I'm just me again. Just Xander. Sure, I've got his powers, and yeah, I have his memories... but I'm not him." He looked up at the sky, "Superboy was a better man than I could ever be."
"Don't say that."
"Hmm?" he looked back at her.
She looked him in the eyes and said, "Don't say that. Don't put yourself down like that. Come with me. Back to the Tower. You're not him, but maybe... maybe, some day, you can be."
"I don't think he would have wanted that," Xander said quietly. "I won't be him. I might honor him by taking the name, but... I will be Xander Harris, not Connor Kent. I know that much about him."
She looked thoughtful for a long moment, then floated toward him, extending a hand, "Nice to meet you, Xander Harris. I'm Cassandra Sandsmark. Call me Cassie."
He shook her hand, "Nice to meet you, Cassie."
"So, will you be coming back to the Tower?" she asked.
"What?" he blinked. "Now?"
She nodded, biting her lip nervously, "I told Tim about that night. He thinks I've gone nuts."
"Ah," he nodded. "Well, can't have the world's second greatest detective thinking you're crazy. People would actually listen. There'd be talk."
He grinned, "Race ya."
Without waiting for an answer, he took off with a sonic boom.
Cassie followed, speeding to catch up to him, a grin growing on her face.
It was real. He was back. A little different, perhaps, and maybe he didn't agree, but...
And maybe some day, he'd come back completely.
Yow. How's that for interesting, huh?
And yeah, Cassie has issues.