Words: 1,441 (w/o lyrics!)
Notes: For the complete effect, listen to "The Way I Am" by Ingrid Michaelson. Trust me on this.
If you were falling, then I would catch you
You need a light? I'd find a match
She looked out the window just in time to catch the last hue of orange before the sun dropped below the horizon. And that was that – the night fell. Barely a minute passed before someone hit the gym lights where the spring formal would be taking place. All of a sudden, drops of neon blue, green, purple and pink were strewn all over the floor, lights that twinkled and turned in a merry dance. M'gann turned from the wide windows to scan the spacious venue. The Bumblebees were already dispersed around the gym, adding some last-minute decorations, rearranging tables and chairs, and blowing balloons. In one corner stood Marvin, smacking a yellow balloon around in a poor imitation of volleyball before Mal reached over his head to snatch it from the air and offer it to Karen, who smirked amusedly.
'Cause I love the way you say good morning
And you take me the way I am
M'gann looked all the way across the gym to the bleachers, where Conner stood with the other guys who'd volunteered to lug in the tables and rafters. He had this unimpressed look on his face while a slim, dark-skinned kid with a wild afro gestured and chattered animatedly to him. Conner rolled his eyes at his companion and turned his head to the side, unintentionally turning to face M'gann. She blushed a bright red and squeaked quietly, turning away from his gaze as quickly as possible.
If you are chilly, here, take my sweater
Your head is aching, I'll make it better
"Megan! There you are! Do you have the music?" a chirpy voice called from the side. The martian (disguised as a Caucasian, of course) turned her attention to Wendy, grateful for the distraction.
"I do! It's right here," she said, reaching into her purse and pulling out the iPod that held the spring formal playlist Zatanna and Artemis (and Wally) had helped her put together over the past week.
"Oh, thank God, I thought for sure we'd have to use Marvin's or Mal's iPod, and there is no way I'm letting them play Macklemore - again!" Wendy exclaimed exasperatedly, clapping a hand to her face in relief. M'gann giggled.
"Well, they like their thrift shopping," she said, shrugging. Wendy gave her a look.
"Those two are the only ones who go around crooning about having only twenty dollars in their po-cket and I'm sick of it! The whole school's sick of it!" Wendy cried, throwing her hands up in the hair dramatically. M'gann resisted the urge to laugh at her friend.
"Wendy, it's alright! The playlist is right there and spring formal is going to be perfect," she reassured her friend, who had planned the majority of the dance, taking her hands and giving her a sweet smile. The dark haired cheerleader took a deep breath and let it out as patiently as she could before plastering a sincere smile on her face and beaming at M'gann.
"You're right. You're always right. I'm going mad over this but you're absolutely right. Tonight is going to be perfect," Wendy said excitedly. She squeezed M'gann's hands and pulled away to head over to the DJ's booth, "Thanks for the music, Megan, I'll see you around!" M'gann waved a short goodbye and turned around – only to walk right into a sturdy and familiar chest.
"Conner!" Either Robin had been giving him lessons on Sneakiness 101 or she was losing her touch already, but M'gann's hands flew up in surprise. When she realised he'd grabbed hold of her arms to steady her from falling, she dropped them immediately to her sides and grasped one arm self consciously. She started to stammer nervously.
"How did - where'd – "
"Are you avoiding me?" he asked very frankly. M'gann blanched but Conner maintained a simply curious, if not concerned exterior.
'Cause I love the way you call me baby
And you take me the way I am
"What! N-no, of course n – why would I?" M'gann stuttered, her face flushing warmly again. Conner gave her this lazy look.
"You tell me." He tilted his head to the side a little, the disco lights reflecting off his eyes and making them glow a bright azure. It reminded her of the end of last summer, when she didn't yet know the extent of her powers.
I'd buy you rogaine when you start losing all your hair
Sew on patches to all you tear
"Why are you avoiding me, M'gann?" Conner asked blatantly, scratching the back of his neck, a new habit M'gann had noticed was an altered version of Wally's tick of rubbing the back of his neck whenever he was nervous. They seemed to be hanging out a lot lately. M'gann cringed to herself.
"Did I do something I'm not aware of?" Conner continued, "I mean, Wally told me to be more observant when it comes to you and I've been trying, but maybe I missed something?"
M'gann didn't say anything for a moment. Conner trying to fill in a palpitating silence by talking was rare and in the back of her mind, she wanted to see how far he'd go. Quietly, she thanked the heavens that it was Wally who had taken to mentoring Conner and who had become something of a brother to him. The changes were already showing.
"M'gann, if I did something, you can tell me. I'm kind of losing it here," he mumbled finally. She chuckled lightly at that because, as always, he looked far from losing it; instead he showed next to no emotion, except maybe that sliver of worry in the crease in his eyebrows.
"It isn't you, Conner," M'gann said placatingly. He raised an eyebrow curiously.
"Oh," he muttered, scratching his neck again.
"Then, why have you been so distant from everyone?" he pressed. M'gann took a deep breath and let it out, studying the strobe of lights flickering across the room.
"It's just… that man at Los Angeles. I don't … know if what I did was right," she explained, choosing her words carefully.
Conner turned away to stare at the west wall of the gym for a good thirty seconds before he turned back to M'gann.
"You shouldn't have hurt him to get the intel," he agreed. M'gann flinched.
"He was a bad guy, Conner, both of us knew that from the beginning," she countered weakly.
"And that makes it alright to fry his brain?" he shot back calmly. M'gann looked at the floor in shame.
"I didn't mean to do what I did. It just happened. And I'm sorry," she added quickly, looking back up at him.
"I hurt that man. I don't know what the others are thinking about me - what they're saying about me. And there is no way I'm ever delving into their minds just to find out," M'gann whispered self-consciously. Conner frowned. He stepped in a little closer and took hold of her hand.
"If they are talking about you, they're only saying good things," he assured her.
'Cause I love you more than I could ever promise
And you take me the way I am
"Conner, I don't want to become a… a monster who hurts others for the sake of a mission," she confessed.
"You're not a monster," he said, lacing his fingers with hers, "It was a mistake. We're all still learning. It hasn't even been a year yet. And right now, you're fine the way you are." She couldn't help it. Her heart, Martian it may be, melted a little. She gave him a small smile – the first genuine smile he'd seen the whole week – and leaned up to kiss his cheek.
You take me the way I am
"Thank you," she whispered against his skin. Before she knew it, he was leading her onto the dance floor, passively ignoring the curious looks the other students were giving them.
"Conner, what - " M'gann shut her mouth with a squeak when Conner pulled her flush against him and started dancing to the sounds of - well, nothing.
"Conner, what are you - there's no music playing," she whispered fiercely into his ear, blushing when she made eye contact with an ecstatic Wendy and a chortling Karen.
"Wally told me that when it counts, you don't need music to dance," Conner told her, content to hold her in the middle of the dance floor, swaying to a silent ballad.
"He did, did he?" M'gann muttered under her breath, completely at a loss for what to do. Everyone was watching them and no one was doing or saying anything. Wendy didn't even bother starting any music. Conner nodded against the side of her head.
"It works with Artemis, apparently," he added. M'gann sighed.
"Conner, Wally and Artemis are hopelessly, romantically in love," she explained matter-of-factly.
"And we're not?" Conner challenged. And he sounded really innocent, but as they always were when focused on her, his eyes were glimmering with something more than just happiness. M'gann could feel herself melting again – how did she become the luckiest girl in the universe? – and realised she was being stupid. So she laughed quietly and pulled herself in closer.
You take me the way I am