Conner was quickly coming to the conclusion that enhanced aging was just about the worst thing ever. He was, as far as anyone could tell, a perfectly normal teenage boy, but sometimes he was sharply reminded of the fact that he was actually only about two years old. He had the body of a teenager, but sometimes he felt like it was too large and too awkward and not really his at all. His Dad said that all fourteen year olds felt like that at some point or other, but Conner didn’t really think that Superman could be considered a good authority on the normal high school experience. Conner’s mind was that of a teenager, and he had extensive brain scans to prove it, but sometimes he had huge gaps in his knowledge that made him keenly feel the lack of all the normal experiences that he should have had. The first time he had seen a cow he had freaked out because he didn’t know what it was. His Dad had had to explain it to him and Conner didn’t think he’d ever be not embarrassed by that memory. He was emotionally the same as a teenager, but sometimes he just wanted to grab a stuffed animal and curl up in his Dad’s bed. And sometimes he just really wanted his mom.
The first time Conner had expressed this wish, two days after he had first woken up, his Dad had gotten a really pained look on his face before explaining to Conner all about what being a` clone meant. And Conner had known all about clones really, apparently the scientists who had been making him considered that information more important than cows, but he hadn’t really applied that knowledge to himself. He didn’t have a mom. But his Dad had gathered him up in his arms when Conner had started crying, and then taken Conner to meet his mom, Conner’s grandma, the next day. And she had been soft and warm and fed him fresh-baked pie and it was, he had decided, almost just as good.
But it had been almost two months since then and Conner was starting to get a little suspicious of the “he didn’t have a mom” story. Of course Conner knew that he couldn’t have a mom in the conventional sense, what with the whole being made in a lab thing, but he didn’t think he was a straight clone of his Dad either. It had all started when he had learned about identical twins. As far as Conner could tell, identical twins were when clones happened in real life and they pretty much always looked exactly the same as each other. Of course Conner wasn’t expecting he and his Dad to look the same now, not when they had a sixteen year age difference between them, but Grandma had shown him some pictures of Dad when he had been Conner’s age and he had barely looked like he could be Conner’s brother, much less his twin.
“Dad,” Conner said one evening while they were half-heartedly watching a movie, “I know I don’t have a mom exactly, but did someone else’s DNA go into making me? It’s only, we don’t look that much alike.”
Conner very nearly regretted asking when he saw the look on his Dad’s face. He looked devastated and a little bit of something else too, maybe lonely? Whatever it was, Conner didn’t have much time to consider it before his Dad swept him up in a hug that probably would have crushed Conner if he had been a normal person.
“Conner, you know I love you, right? That no matter what happens you’re my son and I love you,” his Dad said, arm’s tight around Conner. With what he thought was impressive forbearance, Conner hugged his father back for a full minute before starting to squirm uncomfortably.
Once his Dad had calmed down and stopped trying to squeeze the life out of him, they talked. They talked for a long time about identical twins and nature vs. nurture and the difference between twins and clones and the imperfection of the cloning process and the fragility of DNA and anything else they could think of. Conner knew that everything his Dad was telling him was true; his Dad never lied to him. Conner had asked him about it once and his Dad had told him, in a far-off voice, that he had lost his best friend once because of too many lies, and so he would never tell Conner anything that wasn’t true. Which is why Conner thought it was interesting that, for all that they talked about the ways in which Conner could be a clone, his Dad never actually said he was one.
Conner didn’t actually do anything with this information for a while. In fact, he tried to forget about the whole thing all together. He knew that there had to be a very good reason that his Dad was hiding the fact that Conner had a mother from him, like maybe she was evil, or insane, or both. And that made him think of that girl Tim told him was always hanging around the Joker, Harley Quinn, which gross. Or maybe, a mean little voice in the back of his head supplied, his Dad already told her about Conner and his mom didn’t want him. Probably it was best if Conner didn’t question it anymore; he had a great Dad and his Grandma too, so he didn’t really need a mom.
But despite Conner’s best intentions, he couldn’t help but want to know more. His mom might not want him, but surely it couldn’t hurt for Conner to just know her name, could it? He wouldn’t have to meet her and he didn’t expect her, Dad, and Conner to become a big happy family, he just wanted to know her name and maybe to see a picture. Of course, the question was how Conner was going to do that. While he was pretty sure, if pressed, his Dad would admit that Conner did actually have a mom, he probably wouldn’t tell Conner who she was. But Conner thought that even if his Dad wouldn’t tell him, it wasn’t because he didn’t know who she was. And the only way that Conner could think that his Dad could know who his mom was is if his Dad had managed to get some documents or something out of the lab they had been making Conner in before it blew up. So, Conner reasoned, if he could get his hands on those papers, he’d be able to find out who his mom was.
He started simple. If he came straight home after school, then he got back about two and a half hours before his Dad got back from work. When a thorough search of the apartment didn’t yield results, Conner asked if he could go visit Grandma in Smallville that weekend. He didn’t find anything there either, not even when he x-rayed the back forty, just in case. Conner considered trying to search the JLA satellite, but he couldn’t think of a way to do that without the whole League finding out what he was up to. And all that left was the Fortress of Solitude. So, when his Dad was on the other side of the world helping with a tsunami, Conner took off to the Artic.
“Oh… hi, Grandpa.” Conner felt really weird calling a building Grandpa, but he wasn’t sure what else he could call it. He didn’t think he could use his Grandpa’s first name like his Dad did and “Fortress” just seemed rude.
“What brings you here, Kon-El?” And that’s when the realization of his stupidity hit Conner like a freight train. His Grandpa had access to all the information his Dad put into the Fortress computers, and was pretty much willing to tell Conner anything he wanted to know. Grandpa was cool like that.
“I wanted to know who my mom was. You can tell me, right?”
“You do not have a mother.” And really, Conner should have phrased that better. Conner might think of her as his mom, but Grandpa tended to work in very technical terms; it was one of the side-effects of being a computer.
“What I meant was, I wanted to know the name of the female whose genetic material was mixed with Dad’s to make me,” Conner explained.
“You misunderstand. I said that you did not have a mother because there was no female genetic donor. Your DNA was created from a mix of Kal-El’s and that of Lex Luthor.”