Disclaimer: I do not own either Young Justice or its related characters. Such are the property of DC Comics, Warner Bros. Entertainment and Cartoon Network. I'm just borrowing them for some non-profit entertainment.
She's my wonderful beloved Angle-fish. M'gann… She sweet-tempered and good-natured. She loves her brother and cares for the Team almost like she's everyone's big sister. But she doesn't kiss like a sister. Oh, no. Not. At. All.
Her kisses the measured, passionate but controlled sort of kisses that leave a man wanting more when she pulls away. …So much more. They're the kind of kisses that almost compel me to beg for more. To get on my knees, press my fins together and plead 'Please, Angel-fish, I need you!' And then when she moans! Neptune's Beard! When she moans… It just makes me want to pick her up, carry her to a room –hers or mine, it doesn't matter- and do all sorts of less-than-honorable things with her.
And yet… I cannot help but notice that she always seems to kiss a bit harder or moan a little bit louder whenever the Superboy is around. –Almost as if she were trying to put on a little show for him.
I asked her about it once, very early in our relationship, in fact. But she denied it. Why would she be exaggerating her feelings for me whenever he was around? She had asked. I was the one she was with. When we are together, it's just about us. Other people are immaterial. This was exactly what I wanted to hear, so I believed her instantly and didn't give it any more thought.
Then I learned that she and the Superboy used to be lovers before I joined the Team.
It was her brother whom told me. –Let it slip was more like it. As if her dating history were supposed to be kept secret.
I wanted to try and get to know the boy better, Garfield Logan, because above all others on the Team (myself included) my Angel-fished cared for him the most. So I endeavored to ingratiate myself to the boy. I admit that I found –and still fined- the overly energetic shape-shifter to be a tad obnoxious. But we both love his sister, and so we both agreed to spend the day together.
It was as we were walking along the beach, the waves lapping at my feet, his zigzagging all over the place changing into crabs, and gulls, and all manner of beach and tide-pool dwelling creatures, that the slip occurred. He was telling old stories about the Team –the first Team. Most of the names were just that, names. I had never met Kid Flash or Artemis and so could not put faces to their names. Kaldu'ram I though I had known very well and still did not believe what Nightwing had told us about him.
I paused in my trail of thought as the boy's last few words sunk into my skull. Lifting my head I did a double take. "What did you say?"
"KF and Arty walked onto the bio-ship and found Conner and sis making out in the captain's chair." Gar repeated in a bit of an irritated huff. Children tended to act that way when they thought the adults around them weren't paying attention.
Then I asked the stupidest question that ever escaped my lips since finishing puberty. "Why was Angel-fish kissing Superboy?"
The little shape-shifter's hands went to his mouth in a near perfect imitation of the 'Speak no Evil' monkey and his eyes went wide. He didn't say it out loud, but I could clearly read it in his face. If M'gann hadn't already told me, then she hadn't wanted me to know and Gar had just let slip something that was supposed to be a secret.
Suddenly, it all made so much more sense. She did kiss harder when he was around. She did moan louder when he was in earshot. She was putting on a show for him. The realization left me with the question of 'Why?' screaming through my mind. Followed closely by, 'Why did she lie when I confronted her about it weeks ago?'
I pondered those two questions the entire rest of the day and when we came back in, I confronted her about it directly. Two simple and pointed questions that summarized my feelings completely.
"Why didn't you tell me you and Superboy dated? Are you just using me to make him jealous?"
There then ensued the first fight we ever had. It was also the longest fight we've had to date.
She called be nosy and over-bearing with no right to pry into her past. I said she was being secretive and that made everything she did suspect. We both said things we regretted. Feelings were hurt. Apologies were made. Things were explained. Some things were understood. Other things I think I will forever be confused about. Most things were forgiven.
But, after much fishing on my part, M'gann finally confessed that –at the onset of our relationship- she had been using be to get back at Superboy. He had been the one to break-up with her and she harbored some resentment towards him because of it. (I did not ask why he broke-up with her.) I told her that she was still my Angel-fish and I loved her, but I refused to be a pawn in her romantic battles with an ex-lover.
M'gann nodded gravely and admitted that I was just supposed to be a fun little fling. She hadn't meant to develop true feelings for me, it just happened. She hadn't tried to use me against the Superboy in several weeks –at least not to her conscious knowledge. That was good enough for me. –At least, for the time being.
Something about the situation still continued to bother me, though.
It wasn't any one thing I could put my finger on. It was just an abstract feeling. A slight chill in the room while we would be cuddling on the couch watching TV. A tingling on the back of my neck or even down my spine when we would sometimes kiss. …And then a punch that landed perhaps a bit harder than was necessary for a simple training exercise. I massaged my throbbing jaw and gazed up at my sparring partner for that session as if seeing him for the first time.
I had come to terms with and made peace with the fact that M'gann had first been trying to use me against him when we stared dating. It had been a conversation spoken between she and I. A peace made between she and I. But there was a third factor that I hadn't considered. A third person I had completely failed to acknowledge.
I waved off the hand Superboy offered to help me up and climbed to my feet myself. Only aster I was once again on an eye level with him did I realize he probably took it as a snub. I should have let him help me, since he knew he had hit harder than he should have (and with his strength, that was not a habit he could allow himself to have). I did not exactly avert my eyes from his, but I did realize for the first time just how unearthly a shade of blue they were and for the first time since joining the Team, I was intimidated.
"Do you know what you did wrong?" He asked.
I looked back up at him startled. Were we really gonna have this confrontation right here?
"You extended your stance to far." Continued the Superboy. "It left your whole left side open. If this had been a real fight, you'd be dead."
I relaxed and rejoined the others on the edge of the ring.
"Cass! Front and center!" He continued with the lesson as if nothing had happened, and perhaps from his end nothing had.
It was entirely possible that that punch had simply been a miscalculation on his part and not a passive-aggressive attempt to bate me into doing or saying something I'd regret. Come to think of it, from the little I knew of him, Superboy wasn't really a subtle guy. He didn't do 'subtext'. If he had a problem with you, he would state it outright. Not throw sucker-punches when he could get away with it and then sit and seethe when he couldn't.
Still, I resolved to confront him all the same.
Not about the punch. I didn't really care about it that much. But about M'gann. I felt there were words that needed to be spoken between us. It felt almost like one of those strange 'Bro Code' things that is often talked about here on the surface. Truth be told, I'm not to familiar with the concept. I just wanted to make sure one of the senior members –a man was could be considered a mentor (by proxy)- didn't hate my guts. Especially not one with Superman-like powers. I enjoy keeping all my internal organs on the inside. Thank you.
It was several more days until I actually worked up the courage to talk to the man, however.
What can I say? Sometimes I'm as cowardly as a catfish.
I found him laying on the beach –sunbathing. It had taken me the longest time after joining the Team to figure out why he did this, he never tanned. His skin was always the same uniform shade of olive. It never darkened, never blemished. Then someone reminded me that kryptonians gained their powers from Earth's yellow sun. Duh! In the words of my beloved Angel-fish, 'Hello, La'gaan!'
It was approaching afternoon, the sun just beginning to dip closer to the land. My shadow fell over him as I approached.
One crystal-blue eyelid cracked open and stared up at me. I froze in my step.
"You're blocking my sun."
"Sorry!" I quickly jumped to the side.
He said nothing more, his eye once again closing. I felt like I should leave him, let him recharge his solar batteries (or whatever) in peace. But I had come out here for a reason. It was just him and me on the beach. Now was the perfect time to have the conversation I felt were had to have.
I sat down in the sand.
It was low-tide, the waves were nowhere near me and I suddenly wished to feel the comforting cool waters of the sea flowing around me.
He did not sit up, did not even open his eyes when he asked, "Did you want something?"
"No." The word is out of my mouth so quickly I'm unable to stop it. Then I quickly amend, "Yes."
Then I shut up because I'm sounding like an idiot.
Now he does sit up. More of a lean actually. Propping himself up on his elbows, his almost luminous blue eyes fixed me with a sidelong glance, silently asking, 'What do you want?'
There is a beat of silence between us as I realize I have no idea what I wanted to say. Words needed to be spoken between us, this I knew. But what those words actually were was really just an abstract idea in my head. Finally, I decided to just be honest and speak from the heart. It's what my King would have told me to do –had he still been on the planet at the time.
"Superboy, I- I feel as if I should apologize to you." I begin, feeling every bit the fool as it is possible to feel.
"For blocking my sun?" He asks. "You already did."
"No, I…" I'm stuttering like newly spawned guppy and clamp my jaw shut quickly. A moment later I've gathered my thoughts more coherently and begin again. "About M'gann. I want to apologize if my behavior ever offended you. I only recently found out you two had dated."
"I know." He laid back down in the sand. "Gar told me."
"You're not mad?" I ask, skeptical of his calm exterior. I know he is not the subtle type, but I've also been told that he can hold grudges and brood quietly for almost immeasurable expanses of time. I'd rather not have a powerful demi-kryptonian secretly loathing my existence if I can help it.
He once again cracked one eye open at me. "You are not the one who tried to manipulate me into making a scene –several times."
He smiled up at the sky. "Well, I did kinda date her for four years. It's a little hard to sleep with someone for one thousand and sixty-one days and not get to know them."
"You slept together?"
Stupid question. I knew my Angel-fish was no virgin. We may not have made it that far just yet, but she was far to good a kisser to have never gone farther. Her tongue was to experienced. Her moans to practiced. Superboy young and fit, perpetually in the onset of his prime… of course they had slept together.
That smile changed to a knowing smirk, but he did not look at me when he said, "That's a loaded question."
He was right. And, I quickly realized that, while I might already have guessed the answer, I did not want to hear it. Instead, I returned to the original reason for my coming here. "Will you accept my apology?"
The Superboy missed one… two… three beats before –still not looking at me- he said, "No."
I would be lying if I said this answer did not shock me. He said it with such a calm serenity to his voice, I almost didn't register it as a negative. When my brain finally did process it, all I could say in response was, "Why?"
Now he did look at me once again. The Superboy sat up properly, not propped up on his elbows, but cross-legged –lotus position- in the sand. His crystal gaze was leveled with mine when he asked, "Do you know what it is you're apologizing for?"
My answer was right on the edge of my lips, but I found myself hesitant to answer. Finally, I said, "When we started dating, I was just a rebound. M'gann wanted to make you jealous and she was using me to further that goal. I guess… I'm apologizing for the part that I played in that."
Superboy nodded, not in acceptance but in understanding. Then he continued, "And did you know that's what she was doing before hand? Did you agree to participate in her scheme knowing her intentions?"
"No!" I'm quick to assure him.
"Then you are not the one who needs to apologize." He laid back down in the sand. "It's hot out here, go take a dip in the water so you don't dry out."
It made me feel like a child when he said this and I admit, I was reluctant to comply. But he was right. Sitting in the hot sun on the dry part of the beach isn't exactly the best thing for Atlantian physiology.
I sprint into he waves and splash around for a bit before sitting under the surface and just breathing in the wonderful salty water. I don't really like the waters close to populated centers; it always has a very… unnatural scent to it. But Happy Harbor isn't quite s bad as other places like, say, Los Angeles or New York, and breathing water always comes easier than breathing air.
I take the opportunity to swim a few short laps around the bay. When I come back to the beach behind Mount Justice the sun had dipped low behind the ridge and Superboy is nowhere to be found. That was fine, I supposed. He said I had nothing to apologize for, so I assume that meant that he held no animosity towards me.
It didn't occur to me until I reentered the base that I never got the chance to ask him why he broke-up with her in the first place…