disclaimer: disclaimed.
dedication: to Annie, because HERE HAVE SOME PAIN.
notes: see above.

title: run 'til your legs break
summary: This wasn't the first time one of them had ended up in the other's room after a mission went badly. — M'gann/Kon.

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"Conner, Conner, Conner," she babbled.

The lights were out, and all the colours in the world were dim. He'd stopped trying to sleep when she went on missions on her own. He wasn't supposed to care anymore, but he did, and now here she was, babbling and shaking and crying in his arms. Saying his name over and over and over again was all she could do.

"M'gann," he muttered, drowsy.

This wasn't the first time one of them had ended up in the other's room after a mission went badly. It wasn't even the first time it had happened after they'd broken up.

But it was the first time she'd come to him, and that sort of counted for something.

And Conner had never seen her like this.

She'd never been this bad. M'gann curled up on top of him, fragile as glass and smaller than usual. It was like she'd shrunk into herself and he didn't have it in him to be angry at her. Once upon a time, he would have kissed her until she came back to herself, but that was a long time ago.

The only times he'd seen her like this, someone had nearly died. She pressed herself close as she could get, flattered herself against his chest and ducked her head to the crook of his neck. It sounded like she was trying not to cry.

"I thought you said we weren't doing this anymore," he said, voice gentle.

"You said that," M'gann whispered into the side of this throat. "Not me."

"You were the one who insisted on the boyfriend," Conner replied, and stared at the ceiling to keep himself from curling his arms around her. It was just that she was M'gann, and she was all he'd ever known.

"Not tonight, Conner," she whispered. "Please, not tonight."

He didn't even want to know what had happened.

It couldn't have been good, not if it left her in this state—god, he hoped no one was dead—and what was another burned bridge, anyway? They didn't love each other anymore (or at least, she didn't love him anymore), and this Angelfish had no business in his bedroom.

Conner wasn't going to ask why she came to him when things happened. Even when her boyfriend was three rooms down, and it would have taken no effort at all on her part, she still found him.

Conner wasn't going to ask, because then she might leave.

It was better to have her here than not at all.

(Some things Conner could not forgive himself for: letting Artemis die, eating Canary's jalapeno peppers, breaking up with M'gann—though that last one came with conditions that he didn't want to think about. He could still see that little alien, drool down its chin as she pulled information out of its mind. But regardless, he still could not forgive himself for it.)

There was no need to bring up the past, after all.

"I'm sorry," he said, and he was. He just didn't know what he was apologizing for.

They stayed like that until M'gann rose. She looked down at him, and there was an eon of sadness in her eyes. She didn't ask what had happened to them; she knew what had happened to them. But she didn't like, no, she rolled to his side, and listened to the beat of his heart.

Conner supposed he should have been angry at her, for this.

M'gann closed her eyes, and kissed his shoulder. "Me, too," she whispered.

He could never be angry at her. Not when she was small and precious and whispered lullabies like she used to, and god, Conner loved her so much. He wanted to pull her inside himself, inside his lungs, and breathe with her 'til it was impossible to live out one another.

As it was, it was nearly impossible to live without one another.

And when she reached for the zipper on his pants, he didn't protest. She was already in his blood; what was the point in trying to deny her something she already owned?

It was gentle, this time; the first time it had been gentle in a long, long time. Gentility had suited them only when they'd been bright-edged and young and beautiful, still in love with the world and themselves and each other. Mostly each other.

Five years had made them brutal.

And now, after one failed mission—because that was all it could have been, Conner knew, all that could have brought her here—they were back to soft and sweet, worried like they were going to break one another.

He dropped butterfly kisses across her shoulder-blade and pinned her beneath him just to prove a point. And she murmured, again, in that strange, beautiful tongue that she always used when they were together. It wasn't one that Conner understood, but she said the same thing over and over again, so it must have been a prayer.

Please, Lord, forgive us our sins.

Or maybe not.

Conner didn't pray. Conner didn't believe in God.

Conner believed in this alien girl-woman who keened high-pitched and sharp when he kissed a spot high on her ribs, arched up high against him and he loved her, he loved her, he loved her. The repetition of it made it real.

She was as close to a God as he had, and he wasn't ready to let her go just yet.

He swallowed her moaning like water to a man dying of thirst, and she left him delirious, drunk on it, drunk on her. Conner let her cling to him, and she rode the emotion out.

It was the best thing.

It was the worst thing.

Both ways, Conner knew he was going to die of it.

The only thing either of them had left was exhaustion. He cradled her like a newborn, back against the headboard. Conner knew that if either of them smoked, they would be doing so. But the Justice League didn't have places for people with too many vices, and M'gann's was already Conner's only vice.

He didn't need another.

"Are you okay?" he asked the darkness.

"No," M'gann said. It was raw and honest. "But I'm… better than I was."

Conner didn't need to ask to know that that was why she came. It was why he found her, too, when the rage got to be too much to control. She took it and relieved it and set the raging storms in the seas of his mind at ease.

"What is it you say?"

"Hm?"

"When you… it's Martian, isn't it?" he asked.

In the dark, Conner could only barely see the flush that rose in her cheeks. It travelled all the way down her breasts, and it made her chuckle to know that when she blushed, she blushed everywhere.

"It's—it's—" she paused, trying to find the right words. "It's hard to explain."

"Try," he said.

But she didn't say anything at all. Conner pulled her closer, close enough that he could feel her breath on his ear and her breasts against the side of his chest.

"It's a prayer," she said, at last.

"Oh," Conner mumbled. "I thought so."

"No, it's—Conner, did I ever tell you that Martians don't have… we don't have gods. Not the way humans do. We don't have some… all-powerful being that lives up in the sky. We have… we have…"

"What?" he prompted.

"We have love," she said. "We pray to love."

"And that works… how?"

M'gann laughed, a soft swell of amusement, and Conner found that his throat was tight. Did she laugh like that for Lagoon Idiot? Or was this something that she'd kept silent, that laugh, kept all of her and him? Because there were so many, many things that Conner wished she'd kept for him alone.

He was selfish like that.

"I don't know. It just does. I was just… praying, I guess."

"Why?"

She looked at him and smiled with the corners of her mouth only. "Because I don't get to keep you, and I want to. I was saying that I love you, Conner, even if you don't love me."

They were both deadly silent.

"I should go, shouldn't I," M'gann said. She'd turned her face down, turned away, and Conner thought don't cry, please M'gann, please don't cry.

She slipped out of bed and gathered her things.

And then she was gone.

But she loved him, she loved him, she loved him still. After everything. She loved despite everything, despite Lagoon Idiot and despite his hatred of her power. She loved him. She loved him. She loved him.

The door closed.

Conner didn't call after her.

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fin.