dedication: to everyone else who has ever cried over this ship.
notes: wow I made myself cry my make-up writing this, I'm not even kidding. also it is 2AM, so that might be a contributing factor…
title: the lovers that went wrong
summary: If you're still breathing, you're one of the lucky ones. — Kon/M'gann.
Connor punched a hole in the wall the minute he was out of Nightwing's sight. Not in the hospital, because he had more restraint then that—but out in the street, down an alley, over a chain link fence, he punched a wall so hard his knuckles bled.
He seemed to have to do that a lot, when M'gann was involved.
Or not, in this case; she was gone, lost to their enemies because Nightwing hadn't wanted to share. Because goddamn fucking Dick had thought it was for the best.
He couldn't even be glad that Artemis was still breathing. Because M'gann—
M'gann was gone.
(Fuck La'gann. He didn't have a fucking clue.)
And Conner could only think of her dancing around the kitchen with Raquel a year and a half after the first New Year he'd kissed her. She'd been splattered with pancake batter and making a complete fool of herself, spinning in circles to old crackly old swing from a time long gone by. With her head thrown back and the swish of her dress, she caught his wrists and pulled him into it, laughing easy real.
She was good at it, at dancing. Conner, not so much, but she'd told him to let the music have him, and the steps would come.
She'd been beautiful, then. He'd been so in love with her.
She was beautiful, now, too.
(Was so in love with her. Was never not going to be in love with her. No matter how far she fell—and god, she'd fallen so far from the innocent-eyed Martian-girl he'd met so long ago—he was still going to be in love with her.)
And she was trapped with Kaldur and Artemis somewhere beneath the ocean in a place that Conner couldn't reach.
His heart clenched.
She was gone.
She was gone.
And there was nothing he could do.
So he went back to their base-that-wasn't-a-base, home-that-wasn't-a-home, and slumped face first into the bed where she'd never slept. The sheets were cool beneath him.
They almost had M'gann's gentle lull down, but they didn't smell like her.
It still wasn't right.
Conner thought about her every day.
Sometimes, he thought he was going to die before he saw her again.
Sometimes, he thought he'd prefer it.
And then she'd smile in his dreams, fifteen again with her hair tucked behind her ear, and he'd wake up gasping for breath, clutching at the sheets for the chill of her. They'd slept together so many times, skin to skin, and she always ran colder than anyone else he'd ever met. He ran too hot, so it was good—it was even. She was the cool spot on his pillow, an ice cube in summer.
Conner would search for her with his eyes closed, hands too hot, too hungry.
But she was never there.
He didn't sleep much, these days.
How could he, when his girl was gone?
At least with La'gann, she was safe.
(Sometimes it made him sick that their names rhymed. What even was that?)
Conner paced back and forth, knuckles crackling, trying not to hum the songs she used to sing under his breath. They'd only be off-key, and they'd never be M'gann. He'd never been much good at Martian, anyway.
Dick wouldn't look at him.
It was probably for the better. Conner's temper often simmered just beneath the film of his skin, and he was scared that he was going to lose it and punch his old friend out just once.
No one would even blame him, probably.
Wally certainly wouldn't.
But M'gann would have touched his shoulder, shook her head.
It's not worth it, she would have said.
Conner could almost see her, hair like fire around her face, caught on solar wind or whatever the hell it was that made her look like she belonged on a different planet.
The fact that really she did belong on a different planet didn't register so much.
Conner watched the sky and barely kept himself from picking fights with the others. There was only so much he could take. He had no patience, because what was patience in the face of being related to Superman and having food dumped on his head by the love of his life? What was patience
And so when Dick hissed through the com, "Go, fuckin' go!" Conner went.
Manta's ship was in the bay, and Conner was going to rip it apart. The bay water was cold, too cold. He dove, breathing through a mouthpiece.
Here, he was a shadow in the water.
Here, he didn't exist.
And neither did anyone else.
The others would take the fight to the mainland, while Conner went to pull her out. If Kaldur and Artemis came along, that would only be a bonus. He breathed slow, didn't let the ice into his bones, and kept swimming.
But if M'gann was dead…
If M'gann was dead, Conner was going to destroy the world.
He would have punched his way through the wall, but he wasn't that stupid. The vessel's loading dock would have to do. It would have a hatch, and this, this was what he was trained to do.
He steadied himself.
And then he went for it.
The light inside the ship was red and grey. Conner couldn't see—he wasn't built for this kind of light; but there was no kryptonite, and he wasn't about to stop now.
He broke down every door he came across, screaming her name.
But there was no reply.
Until he tore the door to the brig off its hinges, and flung it behind him.
And there she was, splayed out with a collar around her neck and bruises mottled across her skin. She was shaking, and Conner—Conner saw red.
For a moment, she didn't react at all.
"You came," she murmured. Her eyes were glazed over, and she tried to sit up only once before she crumpled back to the bed. "Conner, you came."
"Oh, fuck, fuck, of course I—fuck, M'gann, look at me, look at me," Conner got out through his teeth. He very nearly dove at her, gathered her up, held her close. She hung limply in his grip, and she was so weak that she could barely turn her head.
"Hi," she whispered into his ear.
"Hi," he said.
"Didn't think you would."
"Come to—get me," she said.
Conner's throat constricted. He tucked her up, trying to swallow the lump in his larynx, trying to keep control of the strange sloshy feeling behind his eyes.
"Always," he said. "God, where have you been?"
"Fixing Kaldur. I… I messed up… with him…"
"You didn't, god, M'gann, you didn't, keep your eyes open, look at me, god, look at me!"
"Tired," she said. Her voice was fading, but she reached up and touched the sides of his face. The green was leaching out of her skin; it left her that hated bone-white, and Conner rocked her, rocked her.
"Keep breathing," he near begged. "Keep breathing, we'll get out of here, you're gonna—gonna be okay—"
She shook her head, slow. The red was leaving her hair. "Sleepy, now. Please, Conner… I… I'm so… tired…"
"Don't die on me, M'gann," he said into her throat.
"Please… don't cry, Conner. Please?"
"Not," he said.
The hot wet spots on her shoulder told a different story.
M'gann tipped her head back just enough to look at him, pressed into him as she was. "You're not hurt… right?"
"Fine," he muttered. The words were stuck in his chest, and he couldn't—couldn't get them out, holding her like this was killing her, he needed to get her out before she stopped breathing.
"Hey," she whispered. Her voice scratched in an out. "Thanks."
"I love you," Conner said. It was desperate, last-ditch. "I love you so much."
And there is was: that smile.
"Me, too," M'gann said, so soft it felt like nothing more than a brush of butterfly wings against his skin. She was still smiling, and her features changed just a little—she was younger, suddenly, and looked the same as she did the first day he'd met her.
But she was so pale.
"Me, too," she said again.
"Don't die. Don't die. Don't die," Conner repeated over and over again, frantic. She was fading in his arms. "Don't die, M'gann. Don't die."
"We did it wrong, you know," she said. "We should have… been together…"
"Stay awake, and we will." Anything, Conner thought. He would promise her anything to keep her, now. Anything to keep her alive.
M'gann's breath turned ragged, tiny little puffs of air in and out of her ruined lungs. "Apologize to La'gann for me… please? I didn't… he… deserved better—better than this."
"Tell him yourself," Conner said, shaking.
"I'm glad," M'gann whispered. She was still smiling, cheeks pulled up, happier than he'd ever seen her. The tears in the pits of her eyes were bright diamonds against her skin. "You're okay. I'm glad. Love you. So much. So much, Conner, so much."
And she closed her eyes, hands falling away from his face.
Conner counted her breaths, and prayed with every single one.
He counted them until they stopped.
Conner kissed her. He kissed her and kissed her, breathing everything he had inside him into her chest. He breathed every hope and dream and thought from the months behind them into her—all the times he'd ached to hold her, to press his face into the coolness of her neck, and breathe her in when no one was looking. All the times when he'd laid in bed searching for her, because she'd belonged to someone else even though really she ought to have belonged there next to him. All the times when he'd looked at her and thought beloved, beloved, beloved.
They were slipping away, just like the tide.
"M'gann?" Conner tried again.
She felt like ice.
She wasn't waking up.
She wasn't waking up at all.
Conner sat there and held her to him for a long time. He cradled her like a child, because she was so small. She was so small, and she was so breakable, and he held her because he had no idea what else he could do. What else he was ever going to die.
He pressed his face into her hair, and breathed in deep.
It would be the last chance he got.
notes2: NOPE NOPE NOPE