Disclaimer: DC Comics owns all rights to the characters within. They are used without permission and not meant to infringe on copyrights or meant to generate income.
Also, if you have not read my other stories, it would be helpful to do so before reading this one. The chronology goes: Brothers in Arms, Where Do We Go From Here, Tragedies of the Past, Betrayal From Within, Future Sins, Reestablishing Bonds, Parents and Children, New Allies, Rivals or Friends, Public Enemy Number One, Double Date, Mind Games, Solar Complications, Mentors and Pupils, Brother Against Brother, Calm Before the Storm, Opening Moves, Isolation, The Great Father and Son Contest, Fugue State, and Fallout.
Location: the Kent's farm, Conner and Max's room
"Hello, is Cassandra there?" he asked over the phone. "This is Conner."
A moment later, Cassie's voice came over the phone. "Hey, Kon. Is there something wrong? You don't normally call on Monday."
"I wanted to invite you and your mother to the farm for Thanksgiving."
"Are you sure? I don't think she approves of us being together."
"This is a way to get her on our side. I don't think anyone can be angry after one of Max's meals."
"Oh, very clever. There's going to be enough food for everyone if two extra people show up?"
"Yeah. It's just the four of us right now because the Metropolis group is having dinner with the other side of the family."
"I'll convince her. We'll be there."
Location: the Kent's farm, the dining room
That evening over dinner, Martha said, "I took in the truck to be serviced today."
"I could have looked at it," Max reminded her.
"There was another reason," she said, looking at Dan. "I met your father there and invited the two of you over for Thanksgiving dinner."
"What?" Dan exclaimed, paling a bit.
"It turns out that he didn't remember ever getting our other invitations over, but he said that the two of you will be happy to come over for Thanksgiving."
Max thought about it. "I should be fine in preparing food for six."
"Could you make that eight?" Conner asked. "I invited Cassie and her mother."
Max looked less sure of that, but before he could say anything, the phone rang. Jonathan went to get it.
"Hello?" he asked. "Clark! It's good to hear your voice, son. What's the reason for the call?"
Jonathan nodded for a few seconds. "I'll see what we can do. There shouldn't be a problem. She might need a hotel room; our guest room was claimed a little while ago. How are things in Metropolis? How's Lois?"
After a few minutes, he passed the phone to Martha. He then turned to Max.
"It's going to be twelve for Thanksgiving," he said. "Ron and Lucy have to go to Ron's family. So, Lois, Clark, and Lois' mother are coming here instead. Clark also invited Mr. John Jones."
Max wiped his mouth with his napkin. "Would you like to invite Tim and Bruce, as well?"
Conner shook his head. "I don't think they...oh, that was sarcasm."
Max stood up. "The number of people I'm preparing for has tripled within the last ten minutes. I need to go to the store and get another turkey."
"If it's too much, I could always break the news to my dad," Dan said.
"An invitation was issued, and it will be met," Max said. "I'll just have to alter my preparations a bit."
Later that night, Max and Martha returned from the store. Max had an annoyed look on his face.
"I take it that shopping didn't go smoothly?" Conner asked.
"Why do people wait until the last minute to buy turkeys? Why can't they plan ahead of time so everyone can get one the size they want?"
"It's for the sales," Martha explained. "Plus, the size of some of those birds fills up a freezer and people don't want that for too long."
"I take it the outing wasn't a success," Conner said.
"We got a woefully inadequate secondary turkey," Max proclaimed. "I also got elbowed quite sharply by Mrs. Rutherford. In my younger days, I would have blown up her car for that."
"That's not funny."
"I'm not joking. If I did it, there would be no evidence pointing to me; none at all."
"Okay, no more evil Match. I'll get a stern talking to if you go bad over a holiday shopping crowd."
"I'll be less irritable in a moment."
"Conner, why don't you help Max put away the groceries?" Martha suggested. "I rented a new action movie, so we can all watch that together."
"Sure, he said. "Come on, Max. You'd better show me where you want these."
As they put things away, Conner said, "So, the second turkey is small. I don't see what the deal is. With the original, we should be okay."
Max sighed. "It's not the total amount that's the problem. I don't have more than one oven to cook them in. If I want things to turn out, I need to deviate from traditional fare."
"I think this goes beyond cooking. What else is on your mind?"
"I had everything planned out, and now my plans are ruined. It's like I'm working for the Agenda again."
Conner chuckled. "At least your sense of humor's improved."
"I may be a little nervous about meeting Dan's father," he admitted. "Invitations have been issued before, but I suspect that Dan's 'forgotten' to pass them on. He's changed the subject whenever I ask about him."
"You do that all the time when you don't want to talk about something," Conner pointed out.
"I know. That's what worries me."
"I don't think Dan's going to be the result of a genetic experiment combining Bruce Wayne and the Martian Manhunter or anything like that."
"I know. I already checked him for that possibility."
Conner gave him a look and, after a moment, a small smile formed on Max's face.
"You're going to give me gray hair before I'm out of high school," Conner declared. "That wasn't funny!"
"I'm sure that someone else would have found that funny."
Location: the Kent's farm, Thanksgiving morning
Conner woke up to unusual smells. He was used to breakfast-type smells in the morning, but these were scents he normally attributed to dinner. He made his way downstairs and saw rolls and juice laid out on the dining room table. The door to the kitchen was closed and had a sign reading "DO NOT ENTER" in Max's handwriting hanging on it.
Conner knew dinner was planned for 3 PM and that everyone would be arriving around 1 PM. He vaguely wondered how long Max had been cooking.
After eating, he asked, "What should we do with the dishes?"
Martha smiled. "Since you're the last one done, Jonathan and I figured we'd let you talk to Max about them."
Conner looked hurt. "You're using me as a coal miner's canary!"
"That's a very artistic comparison. I see why you're doing well in English class."
Conner muttered under his breath as he gathered the dishes. He paused and then knocked on the kitchen door.
"What?" Max's voice called out.
"Um, I've got dirty dishes from breakfast," Conner explained.
Conner stepped into the kitchen and looked around. Max was working on a couple of pies at the same time. The smaller turkey had been cooked and then sliced into strips that were stuffed into puff pastry. The main turkey was baking in the oven. Several bubbling pots were on the stove.
Conner put the dishes in the sink. "Is there anything I can do to help?"
"At 1200 hours, I need to make a stop for twenty minutes," Max said in his mission voice. "Please make sure that no one enters the kitchen at that time."
"I got it. What are you going to do?"
"Celebrate someone's first Thanksgiving."
Location: the JLA Watchtower, 1200 hours Kansas time
Kyle was bored. He had pulled monitor duty for Thanksgiving, which really sucked. Not even scummy supervillains would strike on Thanksgiving. This wasn't out of any sense of holiday spirit; the criminals that had tried in the past had faced the wrath of heroes who had their holidays interrupted and had been seriously injured for doing so.
A plate of food deposited itself in front of him, pulling him out of his daze. The scents emanating from it made his mouth water.
"Let me know if it's any good," Match called out as he walked by.
Thad was confused. Green Lantern had recommended watching this to understand the meaning of Thanksgiving, but this animated program with circular headed characters was not making things any clearer. Furthermore, didn't that girl wearing green realize that she was talking to a dog? There was a knock at the door to his room.
"Come in," he called out.
Match entered the room. "Hello, Thaddeus. Happy Thanksgiving."
"Match! It's good to see you! What are you doing here?"
He held out a plate of food. "I've brought a holiday meal. I hope you like it."
Thad's eyes lit up. "That looks great! Thank you."
"I can't stay for long, but I wanted to make sure to visit you."
"Things are boring in the Watchtower, but I guess boring's okay. It beats the Slab, but that's not saying much."
"How are you adapting to twenty-first century culture?"
"It's a lot more violent that I'm used to. Things are more...antiseptic from when I come from. The culture of this time is rougher but kind of catchy."
"I'll produce a suggested plan of study. I'll also see if I can get permission to supplement it with some excursions."
"You really think they'd let me out of here?"
"If it's for a time and has the proper supervision, I don't see there being any insurmountable objections."
"That would be great! I'd be on my best behavior!"
Match smiled. "I'll see what I can do. Unfortunately, I have to go now. I hope you like the food."
As Match made his way to the teleporter, he stuck his head into the monitor room. "How was it?"
"Delicious," Green Lantern assured him. "How'd you do that thing with the spices?"
"It's easy to figure out what five-star restaurants do when you've got enhanced taste."
Location: the Kent's farm, 1220 hours
Conner sighed in relief as Max returned. He needed to get ready, and all these scents in the kitchen were tempting him. He knew better than to taste anything while Max was gone; he didn't want to get hit with a wooden spoon.
"Thank you," Max said. "Everything looks like it's fine."
"Are there going to be snack foods for when people start to arrive?" Conner asked.
"I've got that planned out. Snacks and drinks will be available."
Conner left the kitchen and got ready for people to arrive. He picked out some of his dress clothes and painstakingly worked on his tie. He hadn't gotten the hang of doing it quickly. He finished by the time the doorbell rang.
"I'll get it!" he called out.
He opened the door and smiled when he saw Cassie and her mother.
"Cassie, Mrs. Sandsmark, happy Thanksgiving," he said.
"Happy Thanksgiving, Conner," Cassie said, giving him a peck on the cheek and squeezing his hand.
"Please, come in," he said. "I'll take your bags to the guest room."
The Kents came and took Cassie's mother on a tour of the house.
"This looks very...comfortable and normal," she said, sounding a little relieved. "I'm looking forward to the weekend."
Conner let out a small sigh of relief.
"Is the kitchen normally off-limits?" she asked, pointing to Max's sign.
"My brother's banished everyone while he cooks for today. I'll have him meet you."
Conner knocked on the kitchen door. "Max, we have guests."
Max's voice came through the door. "My hands are full now. I'll be out in five minutes twenty-three seconds."
"It sounds like a military operation's going on in there," Cassie joked.
"Oh, please don't give him any ideas," Jonathan said in mock horror.
They sat down and talked a little before Max entered the room precisely when he said he would.
"Cassandra, Mrs. Sandsmark," he greeted them.
"These are two very well-mannered young men," Helena complimented Martha.
Cassie sighed in relief. It looked like they were winning her mother over.
The doorbell rang again. This time, it was Lois, Clark, and Lois' mother, Ellen. This was the first time that Conner had met any of Lois' family. Mrs. Lane seemed less happy about being in a rural town, but she was very proper and gracious. At least, that's how it appeared to Conner; Martha's smile seemed a little strained around her.
"I've heard so much about you and your brother," Mrs. Lane told Conner. "It's wonderful to finally meet you. Where is Maxwell?"
"He's in the kitchen," Conner told her. "I'll get him."
Conner knocked on the kitchen door. "We have more guests."
"I'm seventeen seconds from being finished with everything," Max said. "I'll be out then."
"He's the one cooking?" Ellen asked in disbelief. "Everything smells so marvelous that I didn't think a teenage boy could be responsible for it!"
Max entered the room. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Lane."
"Where did you learn to cook? These scents are tantalizing!"
Max shook his head. "The woman who raised me had a household chef. I learned from him."
"You look distracted," Lois said. "Is anything wrong?"
"No. I should get ready."
Max went upstairs to get dressed.
"My," her mother said. "That was...odd."
"He's been a little stressed about this dinner," Conner explained.
"I hope our change in plans didn't cause any trouble."
Conner let Martha shake her head and say, "Of course not!" Preparing dinner for three times the people he originally planned for and meeting Dan's father were exactly the reasons Max was out of sorts.
Conner was called away to the door by another knock. It was Detective John Jones. It was the first time Kon had met the Martian Manhunter when he wasn't green.
Conner was temporarily spared the awkwardness of watching Mrs. Lane flirt with John by another knock on the door. He gratefully went to it and wondered how J'onn could be oblivious to what the woman's intentions were. He was, after all, a mind-reader.
He opened the door to see Dan and a man in his mid- to late thirties. He was a bit taller than Dan and looked a lot like him. Conner guessed that it must be his father.
Dan's father's eyes lit up. "Are you Max?"
"No, Dad," Dan said. "This is Conner. Max is on the staircase."
His father sighed. "Always the pretty ones, eh Dan?"
Dan blushed in embarrassment. Conner's expression remained the same, but he internally cringed. Max was barely lighter than him because of the focus of his training, but he somehow managed to convey the inaccurate impression that he was more delicate. Maybe it was the white hair.
Max had a polite smile on his face. "Hello, Mr. Reiner. It's a pleasure to meet you."
Introductions were made, and there was an awkward feeling in the air since it seemed like Dan's father, Edward, didn't approve of Max. Dan was unusually subdued.
Max brought out some appetizers. Helena's eyes lit up since he had prepared a number of Greek dishes. Conner gave him a grateful smile for that; he requested them to help win her over.
"Aren't these sort of fancy for Thanksgiving?" Dan's father asked.
"Dad, try this thing," Dan urged, pointing at the stuffed grape leaves. "They're pretty good."
He ate one and grudgingly said, "Tasty."
Dinner was very awkward with Mrs. Lane alternating between continuing her flirting with an oblivious Martian Manhunter and complimenting Max for his gourmet cooking. Dan was downcast, his father was frowning, Martha and Jonathan were trying to be gracious hosts, and Clark was going back and forth between looking sheepish and disapproving. On the positive side, Helena was giving her support to Conner's relationship with Cassie now.
"That's enough," Max said suddenly, causing everyone to fall silent and look at him. "Dan and I are in a relationship. Your approval is desired but unnecessary. Any objections are irrelevant."
Conner winced at Max's tone of voice. He had gone back to his 'mission' voice. If anybody objected, Conner wouldn't be surprised if his brother used his martial arts on them. He briefly wondered if he should telekinetically secure all of the knives.
Conner took a quick look at everyone's reactions: Clark was ashamed; Lois was grinning; Ellen looked surprised; Dan looked relieved; and Mr. Reiner was stony-faced for a moment before he broke into a grin.
"This one's tougher than he looks," he commented to his son. "You've finally found someone willing to stand up to me. I approve."
Max looked confused. "What do you mean?"
"I can't have my son dating someone who won't stand up for him," he explained. "If they won't stand up to me, then how can I be sure they'll stand up to a stranger? Dan knows I won't approve of anyone who can't do that."
"You've scared off a lot of people," Dan groused. "You even drove some to tears!"
"Eh, they were wimps."
Max turned to Dan. "Why didn't you tell me about this?"
"It's part of the deal I made with Dad," Dan explained. "The one time I gave it away, he started giving Dad crap immediately and got torn to shreds."
"That guy was a jerk," his father told him.
"Did you ever think that people didn't stand up to you because they were afraid of making Dan choose between you and them?" Max asked.
Dan's father blinked in surprise. "That never occurred to me."
Conner laughed. "That's exactly what Dan would say."
"Now that's been settled, how is the food?" Max asked, settling back into his regular, unflappable voice.
"Very elegant and delicious," Mrs. Lane answered.
"A bit fancy looking, but it tastes good," Dan said.
"I thought things would be more traditional," Clark admitted.
"Don't listen to Clark," Lois said. "This is great."
"What's in this puff pastry?" Helena asked. "I don't think I've tasted anything like it; especially not with turkey."
"It's great," Cassie said.
"I'm on my third helping," Conner offered.
"Very good," J'onn said.
Max sighed. "None of you noticed the rosemary. There's too much."
"Perfectionist," Dan accused.
"I changed my mind, it's horrible," Conner deadpanned.
"Where's my water glass?" joked Lois.
"Why didn't you go with a traditional turkey?" Clark asked. "What you've made is delicious, but I'm curious."
"The original turkey was bought with four people in mind," Martha explained. "We weren't able to find one large enough, so we bought a second turkey but only had one oven."
"I heard about people deep fat frying turkeys," Jonathan said. "We could have tried that; it would free up the oven."
Martha and Clark gave him a look. A deep fat fried turkey was not on the list of things they were going to let a heart attack survivor eat.
Location: the Kent's farm, the living room
After the early dinner, the Kents and their guests went to watch football. Jonathan, Clark, Dan's father, and Lois were the most into it, while Martha, Helena, and Ellen talked about various things. J'onn watched the game silently, not having picked up a taste for the game in his time on Earth. Cassie snuggled up to Conner, which drew a quick glance from her mother. Dan and Max arranged themselves in a similar fashion.
"Not a big football fan?" Cassie asked Dan.
"It's okay, but I'm really looking forward to winter and the lake freezing over," he replied. "I want to get on the ice again."
"Figure skating?" Conner asked, figuring he'd get a rise out of Dan.
He was right, and Dan made a disgusted face. "Hockey."
Conner thought about it. "I don't think we have a hockey team."
Dan made another face. "Smallville doesn't, but I want to keep in practice on the ice. Movement's always been important for me."
"Somebody get a camera," Cassie said quietly. "This is too cute to pass up."
They looked, and Max had apparently fallen asleep with his head lying on Dan's shoulder. He looked unusually relaxed.
"I'll get it," Lois said, searching her bag.
Lois crept up with her camera ready.
"Don't even think of taking that picture," Max said without opening his eyes.
"So, you're awake after all," Lois said, disappointed.
"Even if it is after a big meal, isn't a little early for a nap?" Clark asked.
"Max wakes up early regularly," Martha explained. "He woke up even earlier for today."
"Technically, that's incorrect," Max noted. "It would be more accurate to say that I'm up late than I woke early."
"Why'd you do that?" asked Conner. "You don't need to push yourself."
"It was the only way I could keep things on schedule," Max explained. "I'm still at about eighty-two percent of my regular ability."
"It's off to bed with you," Martha declared. "Conner, can you help your brother to your room?"
"I'll help too," Dan offered.
Max seemed to be dragging his feet, so the help was welcome even if he protested that he didn't need it. Conner and Dan helped undress him and put him in bed.
"Sorry I'm so sleepy," Max apologized. "I wanted to spend more time with you."
"It's okay," Dan said. "There's always tomorrow. And, today was great."
Conner and Dan made their way back to the living room where a vicious Scrabble game had broken out between Marta, Lois, Ellen, and Helena. Conner settled back onto the couch with Cassie, and Dan took more of an interest in the football game.
"This went well," Cassie told him.
"Yeah, it did," Conner said, smiling.
Any and all comments welcome!