Disclaimer: I do not own either Young Justice or its related characters. Such are the property of CD Comics, Warner Bros. Entertainment and Cartoon Network. I'm just borrowing them for some non-profit entertainment.
Clark was not looking forward to this. Facing his mother. Nope. Not looking forward at all.
He landed in the backyard and stood paralyzed for a moment as he eyed the kitchen door with apprehension. Ma would not be happy. Pa would be disappointed in him. Ma would lecture. Pa would try and advise. They would both give him that look. The look of sad disapproval parents only ever used when their child has let them down so hard that no words, lectures or reprimands would ever be enough. Clark had seen that look only once before. When he was in high school and using his powers to showboat and another kid accidentally got hurt. Thus far, that had been the only time Ma and Pa had ever given him that look.
But he knew he was going to see it again tonight.
Taking a deep sigh in an effort to try and settle his nerves, the Man of Steel took one step towards the house. They were just one frail elderly couple. It wasn't like they could actually harm him. The Man of Tomorrow took a second step. Besides, they would forgive him. They were his parents and they loved him. The World's Biggest Boy Scout took a third step. So, what was the worst that could happen? Clark finally stood on the back porch, his hand unmoving on the doorknob.
Taking one final deep breath, the Superman opened the door and stepped inside.
Ma was bent over the stove, basting the turkey and checking its internal temperature. She wore the 'World's Greatest Cook' apron he'd given her one mothers day back in middle school. It was old, faded, well worn, well washed and well loved. Under the apron she wore a modest flowered dress, with a high neck line and lace on the collar. She usually didn't dress for dinner. She was expecting to meet Conner.
Pa sat on the couch in the living room, yelling at the TV. It sounded like Kansas State was lousing to Gotham U. Those damn Knights! Great. Not only had he messed everything up with Superboy, disappointed his parents, but it also looked like he was going to owe Bruce fifty dollars as per their annual bet.
With a less than polite cuss and a groan, Pa ran a hand over his thinning head of hair and Clark saw that he was waring a new plaid shirt. New from the store, ironed and well starched.
"Jon! Don't cuss. What if Superboy heard you carrying on like that!" Ma reprimanded, turning from her work in the kitchen to give her husband a short disciplinary glare before turning her attention to Clark -still standing in the doorway. She dusted off her apron and brushed a few stray strands of hair out of her face, an expectant smile spread over her lips. "Well now, where is he?"
"He, uh." Clark sputtered under the his mother's eye. "He's... he's not coming."
Ma's smile melted into a frown of puzzlement. "Well, why in the world not?"
"He... I... um, I kinda messed up again, Ma. He hates me. I'm sorry. But... I can tell you his name."
M'gann had half a dozen timers sitting on the counter next to the oven. Each neatly labeled 'turkey', 'casserole', 'yams', 'stuffing 1', stuffing 2', 'apple pie', and 'pumpkin pie'. She hovered over them anxiously, watching the seconds tick down, twisting her fingers anxiously in rhythm with their ticking. She would snap and snarl at any of the boys if they stepped even a toe around the island that separated the kitchen from the common area, regardless of whether they were just getting a glass of water, or trying to snag a sample. She wanted this first Thanksgiving on Earth to be perfect and it was going to be perfect gosh darned it!
Finally, Kaldur suggested to Conner, "Perhaps out time might be better spent elsewhere. I might be able to help you with a new name, since you are no longer satisfied with 'Superboy'."
Conner nodded and the boys, followed by Wolf, vanished to the hangar. They stood by Sphere, leaning most of their weight against the wall.
"Most heroes are named according to their powers or themes. Green Arrow, Batman, Hawkwoman... You could be Strongboy."
"No." Conner replied flatly. That just sounded awful. "I was thinking of going with 'power'. Its like 'super' but not. How does 'Powerboy' sound to you?"
Kaldur paused for thought. "Perhaps 'Powerlad' might sound better. Of course, I might be bias since '-lad' also happens to be my suffix."
"But '-lad' just sounds so... blond."
The atlantian raised one quizzical eyebrow.
"Not that there's anything wrong with being blond!" The demi-kryptonian was quick to assure his friend and leader.
"Powerboy it is then." Nodded Aqualad. "Shall I call Robin over to change the security protocols right now?"
"No... It can wait until after the holiday."
Martha Kent glared at her son as he explained to them why their grandson would not be joining them for Thanksgiving dinner. She did not say anything. She was to angry to speak, and frankly, anything she could manage to say would be pointless.
Sitting at the table next to Clark, Jonathan sighed. "You and that boy were dealt a bad hand and both of y'all played it poorly."
Sure. A bad hand. That was it. No! That was not it! Martha was beside herself. She said nothing and -calmly- collected Clark's place setting at the table. Putting the unused china plate, silverware, wineglass and napkin away. She then pulled out a series of Tupperware containers and began portioning out helpings of her Thanksgiving feast into them. Cornbread, tater-tots, corn the cob with honey butter, mac 'n' cheese, turkey and ham, stuffing and mixed vegetables in butter with bacon bits. She carefully sealed each container and set them neatly inside a picnic basket.
"Ma...?" Clark called from the dinning room, sounding slightly scared and very shamed. Not as ashamed as she thought he should feel, though. "Is this you sending me to bed without dinner?"
Martha reentered the dinning room and plunked the picnic basket down in front of him. The only explanation she could manage in her enraged state was, "Conner. Go. Now!"
"But he doesn't want-"
Fire alarms blared through out the Cave as smoke billowed from the kitchen.
Conner worked the fire extinguisher while Kaldur used his water bearers. M'gann sat in a corner and cried. Her perfect Thanksgiving dinner was completely ruined! And she couldn't understand how. She had followed all the directions, set all the timers, taken everything out when it was supposed to be taken out. Put everything in when it was sup[posed to be put in. Why did things like this always seem to happen to her!?
Conner knelt beside her, covered in wet chalk. "Are you okay? The fire didn't get you, did it?"
She just cried. She had been planning this almost all month and now it was ruined. No, she was not alright! "Everything's ruined!"
Wolf came up on her other side and nuzzled her ear affectionately.
"I believe some of the appliances may be saved." Kaldur informed them.
"And we can always order out for food." Conner added. "But, M'gann, are you okay?"
"Order out!?" She snarled as if he'd just suggested they go steal and nuclear weapon and aim it at a small middle eastern nation. "We can't order out! Are you insane!? Its Thanksgiving! You don't order out on Thanksgiving!"
"M'gann, you're not focusing on what's important here." Conner tried to keep his voice even and level. The kitchen was a mess and it was wreaking havoc with his OCD. "There was a fire just now. You're martian. Are you alright?"
"Yes. I'm fine." She huffed as if exasperated.
Conner sighed with relief. "Okay. Now... you can start freaking out over dinner."
"I am sure someplace would be open tonight." Kaldur suggested.
"We're not eating out!" M'gann snapped.
"Now you're just being unreasonable." Conner told her.
"Its Thanksgiving!" She shouted back.
Their argument would have continued. They certainly looked like they were headed to a rather heated lovers' spat. But the moment was interrupted by the Cave's computer announcing, "Recognize: Superman 01."
Everyone turned to look at the door that lead to the hangar, and sure enough, a few moments later none other than the Man of Steel walked through that carrying what looked like an old-fashioned wicker picnic basket. They all stared at him as if suddenly dazed.
"Uh... hi." He said.
The change in atmosphere was almost instant. All three teenagers went very quiet and very still as they regarded them cautiously. M'gann stood, shifting from the distraught 60s homemaker she often tried to be, to the protective and territorial woman she actually was. One viridecent green hand was placed on the demi-kryptonian's shoulder, while the other made a fist that rested sternly on her hip. Kaldur looked from martian girl and Conner to Superman and back again, wondering if she should stand with his friends or excuse himself from the room. He was Team leader, but this was not Team business.
Conner, the newly christened 'Powerboy', just stood and glared at his genetic parent. "What are you doing here?"
"I, uh..." He held up the picnic basket like a shield. "I brought dinner."
Dinner was silent.
The kitchen was a mess and the common area was all smoky, the ventilation working double-time to get the noxious vapor out of the Cave. So, they had set up a collapsable table in the hangar. M'gann distributed the food to those that were eating, herself, Conner, Superman and Kaldur, which Red Tornado sat and observed from his seat at the head of the table. Sphere, in her ball form, rolled over to be a part of the gathering and Wolf trotted about the table asking for scraps. One woudl think it would have been a merry little party.
But it wasn't.
In fact it was rather stoic. No one said anything. Aside from the occasional "Please pass the -whatever-." it was the most quiet meal any of them had ever taken part in.
Awkward glances and furtive looks were shot at either Conner or Superman periodically and any time any one of them got up -for whatever reason- someone else would offer to do whatever it was they were getting up to do for them. The most amusing of which was when Conner replied, "Thanks, M'gann, but I don't think you have a power that would let you pee for me." This got a bright blush from the martian girl, a politely amused smile from Kaldur, a light chuckle from the Superman and the comment of "Interesting." from Red Tornado.
When all the food was gone, they continued to sit in awkward silence for a moment longer before M'gann finally asked, "So... what are we supposed to do now?"
"As I understand it," began Red Tornado, "this holiday is for giving gratitude for the things that you have in life. I believe we now would go around the table and share something we are grateful for. If it might help, I would like to begin."
No one seemed to object.
So, the android continued, "I wish to express gratitude to you all for allowing me to observe and take part in this event. It has been a very illuminating experience of a concept I have failed to understand until now. I now fully comprehend what 'social tension' is. Thank you."
This was met with awkward or apologetic smiles.
"I guess I'll go next." M'gann said. "I'm grateful all of my friends on the Team, even if they're not all here. Earth is a really difficult place to come to, especially for a telepath like me. But you all make me feel so welcomed and loved. Really, you are my family. And, Uncle J'onn, of course. He didn't have to take me on as a protégée and mentor me, but he did and through him I met all of you. I'm grateful for Uncle J'onn too."
"I, too, am grateful for the Team." Nodded Kaldur. "The surface world is so vastly different from the seas where I grew up. The Team makes me feel at home. I'm also grateful for my King who was kind enough to mentor me and bring me here in the first place. I would be nowhere without him."
The table fell silent.
Everyone glanced between Superman and Powerboy.
Neither said anyhting.
Sphere rolled up and made a series of beeps and trills that was understood by none, but comprehended by all. M'gann gave the sentient alien vehicle an affectionate pat. "I think Sphere is grateful to have been rescued in Bialya and be surrounded by friends."
Wolf gave an enthusiastic "Arff" of agreement to that.
"I guess..." Conner began slowly, "I guess I'm grateful to you, Robin and Wally for rescuing me from Cadmus." He glanced pointedly at Kaldur. "If it wasn't for you guys, who knows what would have happened to me. And, the Justice League for figuring something out for me. And Batman. And, of course, I'm grateful to have M'gann..."
Finally, Superman was the only one who hadn't spoken. All eyes focused on his as he sat which his eyes fixed on his plate, as if in deep thought. Finally, when they were just about to give up and decide he wasn't gonna say anything, they heard, "I'm ungrateful." There was a pause in which the Man of Steel looked up from his plate, but still did not meet anyone's eyes. "I've very ungrateful. Four months ago, I was given an impossible gift -to not be the last of my kind anymore. To mentor this really incredible kid and help him become all that he could be. But I turned that gift away and pushed it onto others, others who could actually see him for the amazing person he was. I... I'm very ungrateful." He finally made eye-contact with the Powerboy. "And I'm sorry."
Conner was silent a moment longer, not sure how to respond.
Finally, he asked, "What do you want me to say?"
"It would be nice if you forgave me." Admitted the Superman. "It took me a long time, but... I'm ready. If you're still willing."
This time the silence dragged on longer.
Then, "I'm still mad at you." Conner began. "I don't want to be your sidekick. But... but it would be nice to have someone help me better understand my powers."
Clark looked hopeful. "I think I can do that."
Conner extended his hand across the table, offering it in a true. "My new name's Powerboy."
"Powerboy, I'm Superman. Pleased to make your acquaintance." And he shook the offered hand.