Conner had never felt nervous when confronting a villain. He had never worried about breaking into a stronghold, going up against guys stronger and smarter and more skilled than he. The only time Conner ever really felt nervous was when he was talking to Superman.
The Boy of Steel was nervous now, though.
A faint buzzer sounded and the reinforced steel door opened automatically. Conner walked inside, rubbing his palms on his cargo pants and followed by two guards that immediately took up unobtrusive positions on the wall—out of Conner's line of sight, but definitely not out of the other teen's.
Icicle, Junior's mouth contorted into a sneer when he saw the visitor, and he crossed his thin arms over his chest. Although they were supposed to use phones to talk, the thick glass partition did nothing to keep Conner's super senses from hearing Junior say, "Well, look who's back."
Conner sat down in the wooden chair and picked up the phone; Icicle, Jr., did the same. "Look," the villainous teen said quickly, his eyes narrowed, "I already told the other cops, I have no idea how Dad got that tech into Belle Reve—"
"I'm not here to ask about that."
For a moment, Junior's eyes widened, something that Conner didn't fail to catch. "What, then?"
"I'm sorry." The words came out a little too quickly, too rehearsed; of course, he had rehearsed this three-sentence speech. "You're a good kid. I wish I hadn't had to manipulate you like that."
Junior stared at him for a moment, then snorted in abrupt laughter. "Oh, sure, Supey. You trick me out of freedom and make me look like an idiot in front of my dad. It's all good. No hard feelings. Heck, when I'm out of here, I might even send you a gift basket."
Conner's hand clenched into a fist and then relaxed. "I mean it."
Junior shook his head. "Sure you do. And even if you're not lying—which I doubt—you know what you did? You lied to me. I thought we were bros, you know? And then it turns out you were just winding me around your finger." He slammed a small fist into the table. "I could've been tried as a minor, gotten six months in some kind of juvie for freaks. Instead I was tried as an adult and I got a year. Plus, now, a couple more for trying to escape. At least I didn't off any guards like Frost and some of the others—they're in it for life, the ones that aren't on death row." Settling back in his chair, he threw another glare Conner's way. "We could have gotten away with it, you know, before you guys had to wreck it. I could've been home free by now, but because of you—my life is over."
"Your life is over because you decided to end it," Conner said simply. He knew it was the wrong thing to say if he was trying to make any amends, but being nice and thinking before speaking had never been the clone's forte. "You didn't have to be a criminal, you know."
"With my dad? I was born a criminal. There's no other way, for me." Junior seemed oddly comfortable with this, saying it nonchalantly and with a slight roll of his eyes.
"The League of Shadows created me. I was brainwashed since I was—" He waved a hand. "Born. Made. Whatever."
Junior's pale eyebrows rose. "What do you mean, created?" he asked after a short pause.
"They cloned me from Superman." Conner tried to keep the bitterness out of his tone.
At this, Junior's lip curled in a mocking grin. "Oh, sure. And I bet Superman just trained you and made you into the perfect little hero—"
"Your dad talks to you more than Superman talks to me. Nicer, too." He knew for sure that he sounded bitter, there, but shrugged anyway as if it were no big deal.
Junior slumped back into his seat and sighed. "Harsh. Why?"
Shrugging again, Conner replied, "I don't know. He didn't know he had a clone until me and the other guys made a building explode. Kind of a shock, I guess. Plus I was supposed to be his replacement if he screwed anything up."
"He could still manage to give me the time of day, though. I swear Batman's nicer than him."
At this, Icicle snorted. "The Batturd? Nice? You've gotta be kidding."
Shaking his head, Conner answered, "I didn't say nice.I said nicer." He grinned, though. "And I wouldn't call him that. He probably watches Belle Reve camera feeds in his spare time."
Icicle grinned back. "Sure. Wouldn't want to get on his bad side or anything." Conner couldn't think of anything to say to that, so there was quiet for a moment. "Is the Martian okay?" Junior said finally.
"She's fine," Conner said shortly. No need to bring up what M'gann had suffered after being frozen, feeling Frost kill that guard. He had thought, later, that was as much why she didn't respond as being frozen in the first place.
"Very," Icicle said a little wistfully. "The real Tuppence isn't as cool. She's actually kind of nice, sometimes."
"M'gann's nice," Conner said hurriedly. "Really nice. She makes cookies." The last thing the Kryptonian clone needed was more people liking M'gann. He had a hard enough time trying not to break Wally's face as it was.
"Oh. The nice ones are boring."
"Nah." Boring definitely didn't describe M'gann, or the hours spent in a room, alone, "working on Sphere"—though he knew by now everyone had caught on to what that meant. It probably didn't help that every time M'gann suggested going to the garage, she blushed bright pink.
A wide, leery grin spread across Junior's face. "Oh, really?"
"Really." Oh, crap—he wasn't going to discuss this. Not with Kaldur, not with Robin, definitely not with Wally—and not with Junior, either. Especially with the two guards behind him.
"Must be nice, dating a shapeshifter." The leery grin widened. Conner heard a muffled snicker from one of the guards behind him. Do not turn around and glare at them. Do not turn around and glare at them.
Conner turned around and glared at the guard he heard snicker.
"You're no fun." Icicle's grin shrunk, but still teased.
"You're kind of a pervert."
Shrugging, Junior said, "Guilty."
Conner wasn't sure how to respond to that and he was uncomfortable anyway, so he changed the subject. "How are things going with your dad?"
The grin vanished, replaced by a scowl. "Not good. He blames me for not seeing through you guys."
"It's not your fault. We're good." He said it confidently, like an unchangeable fact.
A shrug. "That's not how daddy sees it. He likes to blame people, anyway. Anyone but himself." His tone was bitter and resigned. "I'm a pretty good target, most of the time."
Junior sighed heavily and leaned on the two back legs of his chair, skinny gray arms coming up behind his head in a makeshift pillow. "You said that before."
"Yeah. I mean it."
"I took up for you, at the trial," Conner reminded him.
"Well," Junior said, "yeah. Thanks for giving me an alibi with those murders." He considered. "Least you could do, really."
Conner's opinion differed on that. "After you punched me in the face—"
"Which was after you broke my arm—"
"That was an accident, you didn't have to resist arrest—"
"Oh, sure." Junior rolled his eyes. "I could have surrendered and let the kid who just backstabbed me cart me off in cuffs. Besides, the punch hurt my fist more than your face."
Conner couldn't argue with the last bit; he had barely felt the punch. It was the principle of the thing that bothered him. "I didn't mean to break your arm, though." Junior snorted. "Uh, how's it doing?"
Junior waved the arm around. "Fine, now. You crushed the bone." He gave the Boy of Steel an accusing glare. "Took forever to heal. And hurt a lot."
Conner definitely didn't, in any way, look abashed. "I was just trying to grab your arm."
"You grabbed it, all right. I guess you didn't realize it was made of ice?"
"I thought the skin and bone was under that!"
"Yeah. Ice-infused skin and bone. Brittle. Very crushable." Icicle, Jr., shot Conner a sour look. "I'm just lucky you didn't break the whole arm off, from what the doctor said."
Conner snorted. "Next time, I'll just let you get away."
"That would be nice."
The Boy of Steel shifted uncomfortably. "But you know I can't do that."
Rolling his eyes, Icicle replied, "Yeah, yeah. I know."
Conner really couldn't think of what to say that. "I should probably go," he said after an uncomfortable silence; apparently, Junior couldn't think of anything to say, either.
"Mmhmm. Don't let the door hit you on the way out," Icicle said, no real malice in his tone.
Conner stood up. "I guess I'll see you later, then."
The gray-skinned teen grinned at him and stood up, too. "Sure you will. In a couple of years when I'm out and kicking your butt."
Conner grinned back. "Good luck with that. Bye, Junior." He began to hang up the phone, but the other teen's voice rang out of it.
"My name's Cam, Superbrat."
He hesitated briefly before putting the phone back up to his face.
"My name's Conner." Batman would probably be irritated that he told the kid his first name, but it wasn't like he had said, My name's Conner Kent; I'm a junior at Happy Harbor High, and I live in Mount Justice. Want some blueprints to the Watchtower? He looked up and caught the other teen's startled expression before Cam nodded at him. Conner nodded back, hung up the phone, and turned toward the door.
Fixed some formatting errors today; sorry about you guys who read it before. x33 Thanks to all those who reviewed/favorited! And this is a one-shot; while I may write more Conner/Cam friendship (no slash!) fics, this isn't going to be continued.