((Author's note: This was originally written for the Young Justice Commentfic-athon on LJ, and is now reposted here since the story turned out surprisingly well. Please enjoy, and as usual I own nothing.))
It's strange how an alien is his best guide to Earth. Superboy isn't sure when the Martian took on that task, but he starts to realize and get a faint grasp of her role in late summer. It starts around the time he settles onto the den room couch and lets the welcome drone of static fill his ears. Miss Martian shows up just a few minutes later; she pauses in front of the TV and gives it a confused blink, before glancing over at him with a cautious smile.
She seems cautious around him a lot, even though he tries not to raise his voice or bristle too much when the mental link is established for missions. Superboy keeps wanting to ask her why she's like that, and why she keeps spending time around him when the cause and effect seems so clear.
But he doesn't get the chance to ask just then, as she clears her throat.
"Hey, I was just thinking of heading out...Maybe to the mall? And I was wondering if you'd like to come too? I've been there a couple of times, but it's always so new and interesting!" There's also the fact that her voice loses that nervous edge sometimes, getting traded out for something bright and cheerful. And just makes the situation more confusing.
"I've been there before." He replies without thinking, and doesn't coach his words. "It wasn't that exciting...Except for when the Terror Twins attacked. That was interesting." He gets all of one second to not consider his words before seeing her face fall. Then he wants to growl at himself, and thinks that not talking at all is the best course of action after all.
"O-okay." Not that it stops her. "What about going somewhere else, though? Somewhere that's REALLY interesting?" There's an anxious note in her voice now, like she's worried that he'll say no again. Instead, Superboy stands up and looks at her expectantly. It's only after a heartbeat that he reminds himself to nod, as a sign for her to continue.
That's when Miss Martian flat out grins at him, the smile lighting up her face. It's infectious, as his lips quirk up and he smiles back at her, even if Superboy isn't sure why. He follows her to the hanger, just watching and drawing back into his own head.
Cadmus never really bothered to program standards of beauty into his head. He doesn't see the point of the magazines Wally keeps stored under his bed either, even after looking at them. (Wally had sputtered when he realized what Superboy was doing, and made him swear "Not to breathe a word of this to ANYONE" according to something called the 'guy code.' Which also was not part of the Cadmus information upload.) But he thinks that there is something nice about Miss Martian. Not something that he can put in words, which leaves him frustrated and wanting to punch a wall...But at the same time, it won't leave him alone. Superboy isn't sure he wants to ignore it, either.
The ship gives a drone as it touches down, cutting into his thoughts, and Miss Martian somehow manages to skip through the air as she opens the door and steps outside. Superboy follows, already hearing waves before a long expanse of blue fills up his eyes. Blue sky, blue surf, only broken up by a few boats on the horizon.
He scans the area automatically, not picking out any threats or rampaging supervillains. Just surf pounding the sand. A familiar patch of sand, Superboy realizes quick enough.
"Weren't we here just a few days ago?" Superboy finally asks, still not clear on why Miss Martian brought him out here.
"Yes, but Batman called us back to the Cave before we could finish the day! I never got to see the sunset." Miss Martian walks towards the surf, her costume rippling into shorts and shirt so she can walk through the waves in bare feet. She giggles as they wash over her ankles, and even though she's been at this beach already, looks at her surroundings with bright and fresh eyes.
Superboy follows her, not really understanding the big deal when the tide washes over his boots and leaves them soggy. When Miss Martian glances back at him, she makes a weird squeaking and gasping sound, shaking her head. "No, not like that!" She squeaks out as she flies over to him, pointing to his boots and already untangling the laces with invisible hands before she catches herself and Superboy gives a flinch at the sudden use of psychic powers.
Miss Martian stops hovering and drops back into the surf with an embarrassed look, pink already showing up clear on her green skin. "Sorry," her voice drops and loses that giggle from before.
"Not as bad as talking in my head?" He offers, this time measuring his words. It's different from spitting them out like he usually does. "I can take off my own shoes, though." And he does just that, throwing them and his socks well out of the tide line. The bottoms of his jeans get soaked with sea water, but Miss Martian doesn't say anything about that. Instead she leads him on a walk along the shore, quiet as he takes in the sensations. Superboy gets the feeling she's absorbed in their surroundings as well; she's shy for most of their walk, but as the sun starts to dip low she loses some of that self consciousness. When the sky turns from blue to rich pink and orange, she throws out her hands and laughs into the sky, full of life.
"I love this!" She sings out. "There's nothing like this on Mars. It's just so beautiful and vibrant and-" She glances back at him, suddenly unsure. "But I don't know if you like it too? Are you...Okay that I brought you out here to see this?"
"Yeah." This time, he's actually happy that comes out without thinking. "I am."
They stay out late, just watching the ocean as Superboy takes in more of it. Not what they're doing on the surf; just that the ocean is there, and he can feel it lapping around his feet along with the texture of the sand. The sun has long since set, leaving the moon and stars out. The waves are barely visibly now, though their sound as the pound the surf is clear in his ears. The same must be true for M'gann, with how her breath is in time to the rhythm of the tide.
Superboy pauses over the name that slips into his head, and tests it again. 'M'gann' instead of Miss Martian. It's not the same as her Earth name she wants to go by...But there's something nice about it, the same way there's that still obscure nice thing about her.
That nice thing isn't as obscure in autumn. It's taken a few months, but he's beginning to get a better idea on what's going on in his head, the same way he's learning more about the world. But that doesn't change there's some new things still waiting for him; he may know all the details on photosynthesis and plant life cycles, but he's never seen the leaves change and fall before. Neither has M'gann.
"Conner?" She asks the day they really notice the change in the trees, after class. Before she speaks, he can already feel the lightest brush of her presence in his head; just a light tug on that link they now keep up between them, so neither feels completely isolated in this strange new territory known as 'high school.' And even though telepathy still sends muscles in his shoulders into knots, Conner finds that it's better then facing new things alone.
His new name takes some getting used to, but he likes the sound of it. And he could grow to accept the name if M'gann keeps saying it, he thinks. When he blinks to clear his thoughts and look over at M'gann, still in her Megan Morse form, she continues. "Do you have any plans?"
She's lost most of that worry in her voice; it seems that saving people from torture and winning mental battles with them is great for trust building. That hopeful note in her voice stays in place, leaving him curious. The fact that she's Caucasian instead of green doesn't change much of her face, either; her eyes still carry that eager spark.
"No, but...Don't you have practice?"
"Not today I don't." She's bright as ever, but gives him a mischievous look. "I asked Wendy and Karen to schedule some extra time in for me this weekend so I could take today off. There's something I've been wanting to see...And I was hoping you'd come with me to watch it?"
'It' is a slope on the side of Mount Justice, covered with more types of deciduous trees then Conner originally thought was possible. Nearly all of them are ablaze with color, shades of red, orange, yellow, all mixed together and arched over Conner and M'gann's heads in a fall-colored roof when they step into the trees. She leads him down a path that weaves between the trees, while her skin ripples from Caucasian to green; the only tint of it he can see, even with all the trees around them. Just like before on the beach, there's no words that pass between them. M'gann's breath flutters out as she looks around and stares at the leaves, and she can't keep her teeth from showing in a grin.
"I can guess," he says as she takes another breath. "Nothing like this on Mars?" She looks like she wants to nudge him in the side for that, but she must see something in his face that leaves her with a shy smile...Which is better then that heaviness lurking in her thoughts as her mind briefly reaches out to him. She tries to keep it hidden and low key, which is a pattern he's noticed whenever she talks about the fourth rock from the sun.
"The colors are actually similar," M'gann admits, blinking as a breeze runs through the canopy and shakes a few of the leaves loose. Her thoughts are guarded, still tense when she thinks about her home planet. But through them he can catch flashes of color that are almost like what surrounds the two, albeit with more rust in them. The mental contact only lasts for a second as she shies away; just a brief touch, the same as her fingers brushing at his arm as she speaks. "But other then that...No, not like Mars. There aren't really plants like this. Or a wind that makes sounds like this-" She cuts out with a startled laugh as a strong gust sends a shower of leaves down on them, and gives his arm a pull so they can walk through the new carpet that's settled on the forest floor.
He knows that M'gann could hover, but much like on the ocean, she clearly loves feeling things under foot. As Conner listens to the leaves rustle under his boots, he decides the same is true for him. This also wasn't something he really thought about, before. He also never imagined what having leaves in his hair or picking them out of M'gann's would be nice...But there's something good about that, too. She smiles when he makes sure her hair is back in place after he picks a large yellow tinted star shape out of it, and leads him further in through the trees.
That evening when they come back dusty and still with a few leaves sticking to their clothing, Batman calls them in for a mission and to report to New Orleans.
Winter evenings find them caked with snow, more often then not. It doesn't help that Conner has ended up as the companion to a canine that demands walks each day. Wolf doesn't seem to realize that it never snows in the Indian jungle, and he shouldn't be used to the weather, as he takes to the winter grounds immediately. M'gann joins them when she can, and this evening they end up appreciating the snow a little more then usual. He's not exactly sure how she talked him into making snow angels, save that it was something people were supposed to do in winter. Which is how Conner finds himself shoulders down in the snow, a Martian next to him chirping in his thoughts, and a nearly full moon large in the sky above them both.
Conner finds himself staring up at it, losing himself in his thoughts again. It's been months since he first looked at the moon. Months that have been spent in almost equal doses of fast paced fighting where he can't think of anything but putting his fists into a target, or slow quiet introspection. Looking at the world and actually learning about it first hand, instead of being told everything.
And falling in love with the girl that showed him the world, he thinks when the snow crunches around M'gann as she shifts to look at him. He knows that Mars does have snow, though limited to ice caps on either end of the planet and glaciers. He's not sure if M'gann has ever seen them, but from the way she hums in contentment as she lays back in the snow, this is probably another thing unique to Earth.
Again, it's strange that another alien has helped him learn so much about the world. But he can't imagine it any other way. She has the same awe he does, most of the time...She's just a little more open about it, and always seems ready to take the first plunge into something new. Either way, it gives him a similar perspective to this place they've found themselves in. Conner finds himself reaching out to squeeze her wrist as he thinks that, in silent thanks. And while M'gann isn't in his thoughts right now, she must understand some of what he's thinking, from the way she rubs at his fingers.
Eventually the late hour catches up to them, along with the temperature, and herds all three back inside. Conner and M'gann are both used to the cold, but they still shiver from the wet clothes. Wolf just shakes all the snow free from his coat, and bounds into the den room to his usual spot on one of the couches.
"If we had a fire place, we could settle in front of that." M'gann sounds wistful as her clothing ripples and covers her neck to toe in her black body suit. She doesn't shake quite as much when it wraps over her skin, while Conner reaches for the nearest towel to wipe the rest of the snow off him.
"I thought you didn't like fires?" He reminds her.
"Not a lot, but...It's something people on Earth do." He just shakes his head, and doesn't hesitate with wrapping his arms around her.
"There's other things people on Earth do." Conner points out as he pulls her onto the couch with him. The warmth of their bodies is a contrast to the bits of cold and snow still stuck to him. And M'gann's laugh warms even that.
Lessons from picking Quraci Poison Sumac make Conner cautious once spring rolls around. Different types of flowers weren't something scientists found important, and a part of him gains some pleasure in doing something he was never programmed to do. Even if he has to double check and make sure he's picking daisies and mountain flowers instead of some obscure type of poison ivy.
He's never seen wild flowers before, or at least not the type that grow around Happy Harbor. This is his first spring, and for once he doesn't need a Martian around to help him appreciate it. He's learned enough from her to understand how to take in the changes in the seasons. The way grass feels under his fingers, the wet smell from the soil mixed with the new plants. Conner absorbs it all, glad that he can manage this on his own.
"Hey you," Which doesn't mean he won't enjoy her presence. Conner glances up as M'gann drops out of the sky. Her cloak ripples in the air as she watches him, while she opens the link up a little more between them. Her thoughts are left open for him, and he can easily feel a few white spots in them. Something about that makes Conner feel strangely honored, that she doesn't hide that part of her from him any longer...And also guilty as he stands up to meet her, and keeps his hands behind his back.
It's all worth it when her eyes widen as he brings out the flowers. She makes one of those surprised peeps, and darts towards him. Her hands weave around his as she stares at those flowers, and he's confident he actually did things right.
"I thought they looked nice?" He can sound a little pleased with himself, Conner decides.
"They look beautiful, Conner...Roots and all." She laughs a little when her eyes pick out the tangle of roots and soil at the ends of those flowers, and Conner fights to keep a growl down; figures he'd forget something. But M'gann doesn't give him a chance to dwell on it, as she buries her face in his shoulder and her thoughts practically glow in their link. He has to manage with just one hand when it comes to hugging her back, while he tries not to crush the flowers with his other.
"I love this." M'gann whispers in his head, in that same beautiful open voice he heard so many months ago on the beach. He feels her smile into his neck before tugging on his shoulder to sit down in the grass with her. Both their hands end up wrapped together and around the flowers, as they both look up at the sky. She freely adds on "Love you," to that thought as she snuggles up against his side.
"Long way off until sundown and the moon." Conner remarks, taking in all the blue.
"Yeah, but I wouldn't mind coming back outside for that. Would you-?" He kisses her on the lips in response, and M'gann doesn't even need to finish the question to know what his answer is. He hasn't really taken the time out to appreciate a spring evening, and experiencing it with his alien girlfriend and guide sounds like the perfect way to see it.