Chapter 1: In Which Conner Begins the Search for His Mom
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.”
Chapter 2: In Which Conner Gets A Lot of Hugs
I have discovered that Conner, like many teenagers, is a bit of a potty-mouth when stressed. The rating of the story has been upped accordingly.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Conner’s DNA came from his Dad and Lex Luthor. Conner had two dads.
It’s not that Conner isn’t familiar with the concept of having two dads, he’s seen Glee. In fact, between the lonely expression Conner sometimes saw on his Dad’s face, and Conner’s personal theories about his Dad’s sexual leanings, Conner had already started to accustom himself to the idea. He just hadn’t thought it would be so… literal. But apparently Conner literally has two dads.
It was at this point that his brain decided to helpfully remind him that one of his dads – his father? – was Lex Luthor. The guy who all the Titans, except Tim who insisted that the Joker’s insanity shouldn’t count against him, agreed was the most evil supervillain. His Dad wouldn’t even let him get anywhere near Luthor – his Father because his Father’s bodyguard always had kryptonite bullets on hand. Holy shit, his Father had totally tried to kill his Dad last week! And that’s not to mention all the crazy weapons he made or the human experiments – Fuck!
“Grandpa what company owns the place that made me? Alcmene Labs?” Conner asked desperately.
“Alcmene Labs was a subsidiary of Cadmus Labs, which is owned by LexCorp.”
He knew. His Father knew Conner existed, had probably spent millions of dollars to bring Conner into being and he just didn’t care. Conner swiped furiously at his eyes because he wasn’t going to cry. He was fourteen dammit, not a baby, and he wouldn’t cry just because his Father didn’t want him. Millions of dollars and Conner apparently wasn’t worth it, not even a phone call and fuck!
Great heaving sobs wracked his body as Conner collapsed to the ground. He stopped thinking entirely and gave himself over to his emotions. Eventually the tears stopped coming and Conner just lay there, staring at nothing, until he drifted into exhausted sleep.
“Conner! Oh, thank God!”
Blearily, Conner blinked his eyes open to find himself in his Dad’s arms.
“Dad?” he asked, confused.
“Don’t you ever scare me like that again,” his Dad admonished. “What are you even doing up here?” Conner froze as his sleep-fogged brain suddenly remembered exactly where he was and what he had been doing. “Conner, what…?”
“Lex Luthor is my father.” Conner was proud of the way he said that, flat and emotionless and not at all like he had cried himself to sleep because his Father hated him. And then his Dad had to go and ruin it by pulling Conner in close and murmuring about how sorry he was and that everything was going to be okay.
“It’s alright Dad,” Conner said once he had pulled back. “I mean, I understand why you didn’t tell me, I just…” Conner bit his lip before continuing in a very small voice “why doesn’t he want me?”
“Oh Conner,” his Dad breathed before giving Conner another hug and wow, he was getting a lot of those today. “Conner, Luthor doesn’t know about you.” Conner gave that comment the incredulous look it deserved before his Dad elaborated, “Well, obviously he knows you exist, but he doesn’t know that he’s your…”
“Father?” Conner supplied. “But Grandpa said that Alcmene Labs was owned by LexCorp; how could he not know?"
“Well, long story short, Luthor’s father Lionel decided that his son wasn’t a satisfactory heir and so started Alcmene labs in an effort to make one. By the time Lionel died, the head scientist had become obsessed with the idea of creating the perfect human being and continued the project by himself. Luthor was never involved.”
“That’s all well and good, Dad, but I still don’t understand how you could know all this and Lu – Father not,” Conner protested.
“Luthor doesn’t know because, as he is so fond of pointing out, he owns a multi-billion dollar, multi-national company. It’s literally impossible for him to know everything that happens under his company’s jurisdiction.” His Dad explained. “And I know because when the lab started to blow up I took the head researcher’s laptop in case there was important information about you on it.”
“Wait, you actually stole something?”
“Yes, I actually stole something,” his Dad responded, his voice in that place between amused and fond. “God help me Conner, I would do a lot worse things than steal for you.” And wow, that was really cool. Conner knew that parents were supposed to be willing to do anything for their kids, but his Dad was Superman. And he was still willing to steal and do worse things, just for Conner. Wow.
“Thanks Dad,” Conner said, and his voice was not choked up, not at all. “But you’re sure he doesn’t know? He doesn’t secretly hate me, or think I’m a failed experiment, or anything?”
“I’m sure. And if he did know, there’s no way he could hate you.”
“I want to meet him,” Conner blurted out to discover, yeah he really did. Conner had thought his mom was what was missing in his life, but maybe what he was looking for was his Father.
His Dad, predictably, objected. “I really don’t think that’s a good idea, Conner.”
“Why not? He’s my father isn’t he? I should get to meet him if I want too,” Conner protested.
“Yes, he’s your father, but he’s still Lex Luthor.”
“Exactly! He’s Lex Luthor; do you really think you can keep this a secret from him forever? What do you think he’s going to do when he finds out you didn’t tell him?” His Dad looked a little green at the prospect and sensing his advantage, Conner pushed. “I just really want to meet him Dad.”
His Dad sighed and Conner very maturely did not shout out in celebration of his impending victory. “If it really means that much to you, I’ll see what I can do.”
“Thanks, Dad!” Conner exclaimed, going in for his fourth (or was it his fifth?) hug of the day, which his Dad accepted in good humor.
“Alright, let’s head back home. The reception up here is never good enough to get a call through anyways.”
“Okay,” Conner agreed, and then a second later, “Wait, why do you have his phone number?”
Once they got back home his Dad went to the kitchen long enough to pop a couple of frozen pizzas in the oven and give Conner a “stay right there” glare, before heading back to his room to call Conner’s Father. And Conner didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but if his Dad didn’t want to be overheard then he shouldn’t have talked so loud. Or, you know, stayed within range of super-hearing.
“Luthor I need to talk to you… face-to-face… If this was about an interview I would have called your office… No I do not want to lecture you –” And Conner hadn’t realized his Dad could roll his eyes with just his voice, “– Lex this is serious –“ Wow had his Dad just called his arch-nemesis by his first name? That was B.A. “– What so Hope and Mercy can have their guns trained on me from the moment I walk in the door?... Fine if that’s what it takes. Hell, wear your stupid ring if you have to… I am not making fun of your hand cancer!”
Were they…? They were bickering. Superman and Lex Luthor were bickering. That was kind of lame. Kind of really lame. Actually this whole thing was just a bit weird when Conner thought about it. What sort of arch-enemies just call each other up on the phone and refer to each other by first name? Did this happen a lot? Because Conner was pretty sure that weirder than he could really comprehend, and Conner had a pretty high tolerance for weirdness.
Conner was jarred out of his thoughts by his Dad walking back into the kitchen, having apparently finished his phone call.
“We have a meeting with him tomorrow at 3:30,” his Dad informed him, while peering in the oven and pulling out the pizzas. “I want you to come to The Planet after school and then we’ll walk over there together.” And if Conner thought it was strange that his Dad could set a meeting just like that, well he was going to question it. Not out loud anyways.
“Oh, and Conner? You’re ground for the rest of week for going to the Fortress without permission.”
Conner was going to protest, because shouldn’t he be exempt from punishment this time due to his emotional trauma, but when he saw the look on his dad’s face he decided to just shut up and eat his pizza.
For those of you not in the know as far as Greek mythology goes, Alcmene was the mother of Heracles, aka Hercules (you see what I did there?). Incidentally she was also the granddaughter of Perseus, making Zeus both Heracles's father and his great-great-grandfather. This has absolutely no bearing on the story; I just thought it was weird.
Chapter 3: In Which Conner Learns the Meaning of "Emotional Roller Coaster"
Yay, another chapter! This story is like crack to me; Conner Kent is MY anti-drug.
Hey so remember when I said this story was in a vague AU? Yeah you're going to want to keep that in mind for this one. Also if anyone wants more specific details on what I've changed and the consequences thereof, let me know. I've got a whole thing blocked out, but I don't want to clutter up the A/N if nobody cares.
Finally the latter half of this chapter is dedicated to Amber Esme Hermione over on FFN who asked for Chloe as an aunt figure for Conner, which I thought would be ridiculous, but turned out to be ridiculously awesome.
The office, when Conner and his Dad walked in on Monday afternoon, was nothing short of enormous, an impression that was no doubt helped by the solid wall of windows directly across from the doors. Conner didn’t think his and his Dad’s apartment could fit inside the room, but it was a close call. Half the space was taken up by a lounge type area with leather couches, a glass coffee table and, of all things, a small bar, while on the other side of the room there was a long conference table. And behind a desk that was twice as big as anyone could possibly need, looking immaculately polished, sat Conner’s Father.
His Father tracked his Dad’s progress across the room with a hostile glare that turned into a look of condescending amusement when he spotted Conner. “I hadn’t realized it was ‘Bring Your Son to Work Day,’ Kent.”
His Dad winced, actually winced, when his Father said that, and Conner wondered again how he managed to keep anything a secret when he was such a bad liar. “Stop wincing, I know he can’t actually be your son Kal-El, though I am interested as to where exactly he came from. He does look a bit like you, maybe a cousin or brother who was stuck in suspended animation?” Oh, right he managed to keep secrets because people always jumped to ridiculous and completely wrong conclusions.
“He is my son Luthor,” his Dad insisted.
“You know, Kent I think this may be the least believable lie you’ve ever told me. Even if by some miracle of convergent evolution you look completely human, you’re still an alien. So unless you’ve found a female Kryptonian somewhere, you couldn’t possibly have a son.”
“Not unless he was made in a lab,” his Dad returned.
Languidly his Father stood up and walked around the desk to lean on the front of it. “Are you trying to claim that he’s your clone? And you honestly expect me to believe that? I stand corrected, that’s the least believable lie you’ve ever told me. Unless he’s the result of a failed experiment…”
Conner’s body went completely still. He doesn’t know... he doesn’t know… The thought went round and round in his head as he fought off the prickle of needles in his eyes.
“He is not a clone and he is NOT a failed experiment.” His Dad sounded really angry, Conner noted distantly. “He is my son. And he’s your son too.”
His Father threw back his head and laughed. Conner’s Dad had been right this was a bad idea; this was a horrible idea. His Father thought he was a failed experiment, hated him and Conner just wanted to grab his Dad and run, wanted to go back home, to Smallville, to the Fortress, wanted to bury his head under the covers and never come out. His feet wouldn’t move.
“Well this is by far the weirdest paternity case I’ve been involved in,” his Father commented, amused. “Do you have any proof?”
His Dad reached into his laptop bag and pulled out a folder. “Documents from Alcmene Labs, where he was made.”
“And who’s to say those aren’t a forgery?”
“He has your eyes Lex,” His Dad hissed and his Father snapped to attention. Slowly he got up and walked over to Conner, seeming to really see him for the first time. Trembling, Conner stood there as his Father looked him up and down, gaze lingering on Conner’s eyes and hands especially. Wordlessly, his Father reached over and plucked the folder out of his Dad’s hands and began flipping through the papers inside. Then, once he had reached the end, he set the folder down before collapsing on the desk and staring, eyes unfocused, at Conner’s Dad.
“We have a son... I have a son,” he whispered.
“Yes, you do.” His Dad’s voice was still hard, but Conner thought he could hear a bit of relief in it too.
Nodding, his Father reached behind him and groped blindly until he managed to grab the phone. “Charity, cancel the rest of my appointments for the day… Under absolutely no circumstances… I don’t care if the whole Justice League is in my office; Mercy and Hope are not to come in until I say otherwise, is that understood? Good.”
For a minute no one spoke or moved. Finally his Father stood up and, uncertainty written in every line of his body, approached Conner. His hand came up and hesitated in midair between the two of them, before coming to rest, light as a butterfly, on Conner’s shoulder.
With that, whatever it was that had been holding Conner in place broke with the force of a rubber band, and he launched himself at his Father, wrapping his arms around him with a furious intensity. After a moment or two his Father’s reached up to return the hug. His grip was loose and awkward, as though he wasn’t really sure what he was supposed to be doing, which only made Conner hold on all the tighter.
Conner could have stayed there indefinitely, and probably would have if his Dad hadn’t cleared his throat, causing Conner to pull back, embarrassed. His Father let him go and, eyes suspiciously bright, turned away to walk over to the mini-bar.
“Can I get anyone something to drink?” he asked.
“Water,” Conner’s Dad replied quickly. “We’ll ALL have water, Lex.” And oh, his Father looked positively mutinous at that, but, with a quick glance at Conner, he obediently pulled three blue bottles out of the little fridge, tossing two over to the Kents. The third he cracked open for himself, and threw back a gulp of it like he was taking a shot.
“So… Conner Kent…” he began.
“Conner Julian Kent,” corrected Conner. He liked his middle name, he thought it made him sound… distinguished.
His Father paled visibly at the comment and nearly choked on his water. “Julian?” he questioned, looking at Conner’s Dad.
“He’s your son too,” his Dad muttered. “Besides, it’s not like I was going to name him Alexander.”
“Ke– Clark I need to talk to you,” his Father said. Then he literally grabbed Conner’s Dad by the arm and dragged him over to the conference table, thus cementing them as the weirdest arch-nemeses ever in Conner’s mind.
Conner tried to listen in on them, but something, something associated with kryptonite if the pained look on his Dad’s face was anything to go by, prevented him. Straining his hardest Conner only got scattered words here and there, most of them meaningless, though he did hear his own name, as well as the names Julian and Lucas a number of times. Then he heard his Father say something about a “bad influence,” to which his Dad replied “I’m not going to let you corrupt him.” And that probably should have been a threat, but it sounded softer than that, more like a promise or reassurance. Whatever it was, after he heard that, Conner’s Father – he didn’t slump exactly, Conner was pretty sure that Luthors didn’t slump, but he looked decidedly more relaxed. After that they talked a little longer, something about Wednesdays and alternate weekends, before walking back over to Conner.
Conner’s Dad, looking satisfied, if not happy exactly, said “Your… Father and I talked it over and decided that you’re going to stay with him at his penthouse this weekend. We’ll see how that goes and then decide where to go from there, alright? Now we need to head home so we can let Lex get back to work.”
“But earlier he said–“
“Conner,” his Dad said, voice firm “We’re going now; you’ll see your Father this weekend.” And Conner was going to protest, but suddenly he remembered the way his Father had gone after that water bottle. That really hadn’t been the reaction Conner was hoping for. But, Conner supposed, finding out you had a teenaged superhero for a son couldn’t be easy. Besides he had totally hugged Conner back, so he probably just needed time to adjust, right?
Right, Conner decided, fiercely optimistic. His Father would take the week to get used to the idea and then when Conner saw him this weekend it would be great. And then everything would be perfect.
Unfortunately, by Thursday afternoon Conner was feeling markedly less optimistic, lying on his bed staring at the ceiling and debating which was going to kill him first, the nerve-wracked nausea or the mind-numbing boredom. His Dad had seriously chosen the worst time ever to ground him, because now Conner had no one to talk to about his new-found Father. Technically, Conner still had his phone and could have called one of his friends, but it’s not like he could talk to any of his friends from school about this in the first place, and he felt like the Titans deserved to learn that his Father was actually a supervillain in person. He flipped through his phone contacts and considered calling his Grandma, he was seriously that desperate, when he stumbled across his salvation: Chloe Sullivan.
Chloe was by far Conner’s favorite non-superhero friend of his Dad’s. This might have something to do with the fact that Lois’s intensity scared Conner a little, and definitely had a lot to do with Chloe’s epically embarrassing rendition of “The Tale of Clana: A Teenaged Clark Kent Love Story.” At four o’clock in the afternoon, Chloe would still be at work at The Topeka Capital-Journal, but Conner was reasonably sure that she’d be willing to talk to him anyway, something that really wasn’t hurting her standing either.
He clicked on her number and, after two rings, she answered.
“Hey Conner, what’s up?” Conner could hear the clicking of a keyboard in the background and he could just picture her working away with her cell phone cradled between her ear and shoulder.
“Did you know?” he blurted out without thinking.
“Did I know what?”
“You know,” he hedged, “about the fact that I’m not actually a clone exactly.”
“Oh that. Yeah, of course I did,” she replied absent-mindedly.
“What?” Conner yelped, catapulting up into a sitting position. “You mean Dad told you?”
“I don’t think Clark’s ever actually told anyone a secret if he didn’t already know that they knew.” And yeah, that was probably a pretty accurate assessment of his Dad from what Conner seen. But that still didn’t explain how Chloe knew.
“So who told you then?”
“No one told me. Clark’s been one of my best friends since eighth grade; I think I’d remember if he had blue eyes.”
“Yeah, well apparently I have my Father’s eyes.” Conner muttered sullenly. Seriously, had everyone known he wasn’t a clone but him?
“Wait, Clark actually told you who your other parent is? And it’s a guy?!”
“Yeah, it’s… my Father is Lex Luthor.”
Conner had expected her to burst out in disbelief, or maybe go into a rant about how evil Lex Luthor was. He hadn’t expected her to laugh. And laugh. And laugh some more. And–
“Chloe! It’s not that funny!”
“Actually Conner, it really is,” she said and he could hear her wiping the tears out of her eyes. Fine, see if he ever told her anything personal ever again. “So is Clark going to let you meet Lex, or did he decide it was too dangerous?”
“Well, I already got to meet him last Monday and I’m supposed to go over and stay with him this weekend.”
“That’s great, Conner; I’m really happy for you,” Chloe said and she sounded so genuine that Conner thought he might forgive her for laughing after all.
“So you’re not going to lecture me about how evil he is?” Conner had been fruitlessly waiting for a lecture from his Dad about how evil “Luthor” was all week, and was a little surprised that now Chloe was going to pass up the opportunity too.
“Look, I’m not going to try to pretend like Lex hasn’t done some pretty bad stuff because we all know he has. But I don’t think he’s really as evil as everyone makes him out to be either.”
“What makes you say that?” Conner asked, honestly curious. He’d never heard anyone defend his Father before, even half-heartedly.
“I guess after a guy saves you from being blown up twice, you start to give him the benefit of the doubt,” she said casually, like she wasn’t talking about his Father saving her life, twice.
“He did? How?”
“Why don’t you let Lex tell you himself? It’ll give you something to ask him if things get awkward this weekend.” Which Conner had to admit was a pretty good idea, even if he really wanted to know now.
“Alright,” he sighed. “Thanks Chloe.”
“Any time. So was there something else, or is that it, because my editor needs this article by five.”
“No, that’s it.”
“Okay. Well good luck this weekend. Call me on Monday and let me know how it goes.”
“Okay, talk to you later,” Conner said before hanging up. He laid back down and stared at the ceiling again, feeling strangely more confident about the up-coming weekend.
Chapter 4: In Which Conner Uncovers Another Mystery
So I was totally going to get this chapter up earlier, but I thought I'd take a quick break from writing first by trying a few episodes of Lois & Clark. Big mistake. It was kind of cheesy, really dumb, and I COULD NOT STOP WATCHING. I blame Dean Cain and all his shirtless scenes. So it's a little late, but here it is, chapter 4.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Conner knows that, as a teenager, he’s prone to exaggeration. This does not change the fact that that Friday was the most uncomfortable and awkward he ever has or ever will feel, ever.
He arrived at the penthouse at six o’clock on the dot. His Father let him in and showed him to the kitchen, where he was apparently just finishing making dinner.
“I didn’t know you cooked.”
“It’s easier than trying to have someone do it for me with my odd hours.”
Neither of them said anything else for another ten minutes, until his Father finally though to ask about school. Of course Conner, being fourteen, was pretty much physically incapable of saying anything about school that was longer than a sentence at most, at least not without severe prodding. Even after they moved on from school to other subjects, the conversation remained stilted and full of long pauses. After they finished eating, they went into the den, which had the largest TV Conner had ever seen. His Father began flipping through channels and ended up settling on a comedy movie that Conner didn’t think either of them really enjoyed. By the time the movie ended it was nine at night and Conner excused himself to his room, citing his tendency to go to bed early, which was true, and a desire to “get settled in,” which was slightly less true.
Once he had gotten to the bedroom, which his Father had assured him would be his new permanent room in the penthouse for as long as he wanted it, Conner collapsed on the floor and just focused on breathing. This wasn’t going at all like he had planned. They were supposed to hit it off, and this was supposed to be natural and easy and right. Instead Conner was sitting with his back up against the wall in his room wishing he could just go home. And the worst part was he had no idea what had gone wrong.
He briefly entertained the idea that both he and his Father were just trying too hard and missing each other somewhere in the middle, before summarily dismissing it as stupid. If anything, he probably wasn’t trying hard enough. Well, he’d just have to try harder tomorrow. He’d try as hard as he had to to make this work, because as much as he loved his Dad, Conner really wanted to have his Father too.
It wasn’t even 9:30 yet, but Conner was really ready for this day to be over, so he climbed into bed anyway. And since he was technically two years old, he didn’t even let himself feel bad about reaching into his duffel bag and pulling out his stuffed brown bear. Sandy wasn’t quite as good as that one (or two or three) time he had crawled into his Dad’s bed, but it was at least enough to calm his racing thoughts and let him drift off to sleep.
The next morning Conner woke up at 6:43, which, oddly enough, was normal for him. His Grandma had been surprised to no end by this, probably because she was used to his Dad, who couldn’t be roused before eight unless the fate of the world was literally at stake (and man, had that been a bad day for Brainiac).
Stretching, Conner went to the bathroom to take care of his morning business before padding out to the living room to start his daily routine.
This routine usually only took a half an hour, forty-five minutes if he was feeling ambitious, and occasionally up to an hour on the weekends. The point was Conner was usually done by the time his Dad got up. Not that his Dad didn’t know what he did in the mornings, it was just that Conner wasn’t used to having anyone else around while he was doing it.
That’s probably why, when his Father walked in at around 7:15, Conner froze mid-Warrior Pose. His Father froze too, and for a moment the two just stared at each other.
His Father recovered first. “Yoga?”
The sound of his voice snapped Conner out of his deer-in-the-headlights state, and he hastened to stand up normally. “Um, yeah. It was my Dad’s idea.”
Conner was pretty sure that if his Father actually had a hairline, his eyebrow would have just reached it. “Clark Kent suggested you do yoga?”
Conner thought that maybe he should be offend on his Dad’s behalf, but honestly Conner had a hard time picturing it too, and he had been there when it happened. “He thought it might help with my physical stuff and help me gain ‘inner peace’ or something.”
“Your ‘physical stuff?’” his Father asked.
“The seven times accelerated rate of aging from initial creation to approximately fourteen years of age has led to a number of complications, including poor coordination at times, unpredictable gaps in knowledge base, and occasionyl volatile emotional outbursts,” Conner responded by route. Then, at the confused look on his Father’s face, he added “Ti-Robin and I snuck a look at Batman’s files on us.”
“Batman has a file on you?”
“Batman has a file on everything,” corrected Conner.
“That’s a good policy,” his Father replied nodding. “So did the yoga help?”
“Some,” Conner replied, shrugging. “It’s really good for balance and flexibility, but it’s not as helpful for hand-eye coordination. Plus the faster I have to do something the less the yoga helps.”
“And did it help with the emotional outbursts?”
Conner froze as he realized what he had just admitted to. Holy shit, he had as good as told his Father that he threw tantrums sometimes. His Dad tried to pretend like it was no big deal, like it wasn’t Conner’s fault because those scientists had messed with his aging, but he knew that a fourteen year old throwing tantrums wasn’t normal. Fuck.
“Completely cured. I mean I still get a little emotional sometimes, but it’s totally within normal limits. No volatile outbursts. Definitely not.” God Conner, shut up; you’re panicking.
Amazingly his Father wasn’t looking like he wanted to kick Conner out of the penthouse right then there. Actually, thorough what Conner could only assume was the actions of a merciful god, he was smiling. And it wasn’t even a mocking smirk taunting Conner for acting like an idiot, it was a genuine smile that looked… fond almost.
“Good to know,” his Father said. “I let you get back to your yoga, then. After you’re done, grab yourself a quick snack if you like, then come down the hall and meet me in the second room on the right.”
Conner wanted to ask why, but his Father looked really excited all the sudden, and he didn’t want to mess this up. So he just agreed before slipping back into Warrior Pose.
Ten minutes later, Conner had inhaled a couple pieces of toast after finishing his yoga routine, and was now ready to find out what had his Father so excited. Opening the door, Conner found himself in a mostly empty room. His Father was sitting on a bench on the other side of the room, dressed all in white, sipping coffee and looking at something on his phone. When Conner opened the door he looked up and smiled.
“Good, Conner you’re here. Go ahead and put that on,” his Father said, gesturing at a white bundle sitting on the bench next to him. Then he turned around to pick up something behind him and – holy crap, was that a sword? “I’m going to teach you how to fence.”
After their fencing lesson, things all the sudden got easier. Conner found himself revisiting his theory that they were both trying too hard, because now Conner didn’t feel like he was trying at all. It wasn’t quite the easy relationship that he had with his Dad, but it felt like it could get to be something like that. Over lunch his Father told him all sorts of stories about Alexander the Great which, honestly, were kind of boring, but they were still much better than his Dad’s stories about life back on the farm. Then after they ate, he showed Conner his collection of Warrior Angel comics. Conner didn’t even like comics that much, and he had to admit his Father’s collection was downright impressive. Seeing his Father geek out over comic books gave Conner an idea, and so he ran down to the movie store and came back with the Firefly DVD set. They sat down and marathoned the show together over the next day and a half, and comments about the severe shortage of lasers aside, Conner thought his Father really enjoyed it.
By Sunday evening, while they were eating ice cream before Conner had to go back to his Dad’s apartment, Conner was finally feeling comfortable enough to ask the question that had been bugging since forever (well really since last Thursday, but it felt like forever).
“So I talked to Chloe Sullivan about you,” Conner began, and his Father didn’t tense up exactly, but he did look really alert all the sudden. “And she said you saved her from being blown up, twice,” he finished.
“Oh,” his Father replied, sounding surprised.
“That really did happen, didn’t it?” Conner didn’t think Chloe would make up something like that, but if you had asked him just over a week ago, he wouldn’t have thought he had two dads either, so just shows what he knew.
“If she said it did, then I’m sure it happened. I just can’t remember it happening twice.”
“You saved someone from getting blown up, and you can’t remember it?” Conner asked, incredulous.
“I don’t know how much time you’ve spent in Smallville Conner, but you find that after a while all the near-death experiences start to blend together,” was his Father’s dry reply.
Conner very nearly choked on his ice cream. “Wait, you used to live in Smallville?” His Father didn’t answer, just raised an eyebrow and Conner flushed. “I mean I know you used to live in Smallville,” he amended, “I just thought…”
“That I spent all my time holed up in the castle or the factory, and went up to party in Metropolis every weekend?” his Father supplied and Conner nodded in agreement. “Well, to be honest, that was my plan originally.”
“So what changed?”
His Father’s expression softened a bit and suddenly he looked a million miles away. “I thought I found something I was looking for there.” He was quiet for a minute or so and Conner wondered if he should say something. But then his Father seemed to come back from wherever it was he had gone and he looked Conner in the eyes. “I was wrong though. Castles in the air are nice while they last, but remember that someday they’ll come crashing back down to Earth.” And wow, Conner was pretty sure it was illegal to look that devastated while you were smiling. Not that that would bother his Father, but still. Conner was sure he was supposed to say something this time, but before he could figure out what exactly that was, his Father changed the subject.
“I’m sorry; we were talking about how Chloe nearly exploded right?”
“Uh, yeah,” Conner agreed.
“Well, that story only makes sense if you know about my father, Lionel Luthor. Has your Dad mentioned him to you before?”
“Lionel Luthor, the ultimate bastion of all evil? Yeah, once or twice,” replied Conner with a smirk.
“Ah, I would have thought the honor of that title would go to me. I’m not sure whether I should be flattered or insulted.”
“Well I’m sure Dad thinks you’re really evil too,” Conner reassured. When that failed to get the reaction he was looking for he continued, “…or maybe he doesn’t really think you’re evil at all?”
“Which is it then?” his Father asked, sounding amused.
Conner shrugged. “Whichever makes you feel better?” His Father quirked a smile at that, and a real smile too, not one that made Conner want to break out the Linkin Park and the razors.
“Yes, well the thought is appreciated, even if that’s not quite the way the world works.”
“Yet,” Conner quipped
“Yet,” his Father agreed with a wolfish grin. “But as I was saying, my father was a horrible, controlling, and manipulative person. Somehow Chloe managed to catch his eye and got tangled up in his web. She wanted out, but couldn’t manage it by herself, so I offered my help. Together we were able to uncover evidence that he had his parents killed for the insurance money. With some help from Clark we were able to get him put in jail without the possibility of bail while he was waiting for a trial.”
Conner’s brain stroked off for a few seconds there as he tried to process that. His Dad and his Father had worked together to get Lionel behind bars? Just how evil was this guy?
“… so they arranged for a safe house for her and her father,” his Father was saying when Conner tuned back in. “Unfortunately, not even that was enough to deter my father. I found out he had discovered where the Sullivans were going to be hiding and planted a bomb in the house. I managed to get them out of there in time, then helped them fake their deaths for a couple months, until it was time for Lionel’s trial.”
“Did he end up getting convicted?” Conner asked.
“Yes, though it didn’t stick. To be honest I’m still not sure how he managed to get himself out.”
“Cool,” enthused Conner. “Not the part where he got out, but the way you and Chloe and Dad all worked together to get him put in jail.”
“Well, he was a danger to society and needed to be put away,” his Father said, and his tone absolutely screamed of “this topic is closed.”
Not wanting to push too hard yet, Conner obediently went back to his food and let his Father change the subject.
That’s not to say he was just going to let it alone forever. If there’s one thing Conner learned from Lois and Chloe, it’s that the best stories are the ones people don’t want to tell you.
For the curious, the other time Chloe was referring to when she said she nearly got blown up was episode 01/08, "Jitters." Admittedly nothing actually blew up in that episode, but that factory was filling up with gas and very well could have blown up without Lex's interference, so it totally counts.
Also Sandy, I'm sorry it wasn't giant, but I hope you liked Conner's plushie.
Chapter 5: In Which Conner Finds Out the Truth
It is my understanding that, in Season 8 of Smallville, the Jimmy Olsen that we have gotten to know dies and is reveled to be Henry James Olsen, not the James Bartholomew Olsen from the comics. The latter then turns out to be the former's little brother. I find this weird, but since it did happen, I feel the need to clarify that the Jimmy Olsen referenced in this story is the Henry James version.
The problem with the best stories that people don’t want to tell you, Conner was discovering, was that no one wanted to tell you them. Obvious maybe, but Conner still thought it’d be easier than this. Mostly he had been banking on the assumption that anything his Father didn’t want him to know, his Dad would be chomping at the bit to tell him; an assumption that turned out to be completely and horribly wrong. Conner spent the next week making increasingly blunt hints which his Dad dodged in a way that was admirable for its single-minded determination, if not for its skill or grace. Conner even tried to get his Father to tell him about it again that following Wednesday, when they got together for dinner. It wasn’t until he was going to sleep that night that Conner realized that his Father had managed to completely change the subject.
When it was clear that subtle hints weren’t going to work, Conner decided to take a more direct approach. Of course, in this case “more direct” meant asking everyone except his dads about it. Admittedly, this plan might have gone better if Conner had more than the vaguest clue what “it” was. Then again, maybe not, since everyone that was able to figure out what it was Conner wanted to know politely declined to share, and urged him to go talk to his parents. Well, most of them were polite; Lois had said something along the lines of “I got a taste of that crazy when me and Clark were dating and there’s no way I’m going within ten feet of it.” Even his Grandpa was unable to help, since he was now apparently under strict instruction not to give Conner any information that his Dad hadn’t pre-approved of, except in emergencies.
Of course, Conner wasn’t going to let the fact that no one wanted to help him with get in his way. He would just have to find evidence of… whatever it was, and then confront his Dad with it. If his Dad couldn’t avoid the topic, he’d have no choice but to tell Conner the truth. And once his Dad had told him the full story, Conner was reasonably certain his Father would insist on telling his side. All he had to do now was get the evidence. He started with old copies of The Smallville Ledger, but found that most of the articles had a tendency to gloss over or outright ignore the weirder things that supposedly happened in Smallville back then. So he sent an e-mail to Chloe, asking if she had any old copies of the Torch. She replied with an admonishment to talk to his dads, a winky face, and what Conner could only assume was a copy of every article the Torch had ever published that involved one of his dads.
Conner quickly came to three conclusions. The first was that Chloe clearly had no concept of the jurisdiction of a school newspaper. The second was that his Father got himself in mortal danger a lot and his Dad was almost always around when he was saved. The last was that his Father had an amazing tendency to donate a lot of money to things that his Dad was involved in. All of which were interesting, but not, Conner was afraid, enough to force his Dad to come clean about whatever it was. Conner needed something big, something that his Dad couldn’t possibly ignore. Desperate, Conner began surfing the web for old tabloid articles about his Father. Thursday, late afternoon, he was working his way through a bunch about his Father’s disappearance after his second wedding, when he stumbled across an article about the wedding itself. Conner skimmed through descriptions of the floral arrangements, the cake, the bride’s dress, the bridesmaids, the surprising non-appearance of the best man Clark Kent…
That didn’t even…
In a furious burst of activity Conner pulled up all the information he could about each of his Father’s six weddings and confirmed that Clark Kent was, or at least was supposed to be, the best man for both the first two weddings. Wow. Well that was definitely proof of… something. Now all he had to do was wait for his Dad to get home from work.
“Hey, Conner, I’m back! What do you want for dinner?” Speak of the devil.
“Whatever’s fine,” Conner called back, coming out of his room and into the kitchen, sitting down on one of the stools at the counter.
“Spaghetti it is then,” replied his Dad, pulling out a pot and filling it with water.
“Chloe sent me a bunch of old Torch articles earlier this week; I read some of your old stuff,” Conner said casually, or at least he hoped it sounded casual.
“Mmm,” his Dad hummed in response, using heat vision to bring the water to a boil before setting it on the stovetop.
“You wrote this one editorial about the importance of preserving local landmarks and about how the old Talon Theater was going to be sold.”
His Dad paused a minute, as if thinking about it, before shaking his head. “No, don’t remember that one. Was it any good?”
“I liked it alright,” Conner replied honestly. “It’s funny though, because a few days after that Father revealed that he planned on renovating the theater into a coffee shop, rather than turning it into a parking structure like everyone thought he would.”
“Lana pushed him pretty hard to restore the place once she found out he had bought it. Come to think of it, that’s probably why I wrote the article in the first place,” his Dad said with a self-depreciating grin. “Besides I’m sure renovating the old theater was better PR than building a parking structure.”
That was all perfectly true and probably not the full explanation at all. Luckily, Conner had a lot more up his sleeve. “Do you think that’s why he donated all that money to Smallville High, like when he bought the football team new jerseys? For the good PR?”
“I gave up trying to understand why he does the things he does a long time ago,” his Dad replied starting to sound a bit wary.
“I guess I just thought it was weird that he donated them right after you joined the football team.”
“Conner,” said his Dad, turning to look at him. He didn’t cross his arms, but Conner could tell it was a near thing. “Are you trying to get at something here?”
“Mostly I wanted to know why you were Father’s best man for his first two weddings.” His Dad froze, and no one could freeze like Conner’s Dad. Conner suspected all the years holding back his strength and speed had given him some kind of super-muscle control.
“How long have you known about that?” his Dad asked after he had shaken off his temporary paralysis.
“I’ve only known about the best man thing since a few minutes before you got home, but I’ve been looking at tabloids and newspaper article since Monday, and I’ve known there was something weird going on pretty much since I found out who my Father was.”
Conner could have sworn he heard his Dad mutter something about “at least it wasn’t a creepy stalker room” in response to that, but when Conner asked his Dad told him not to worry about it. “You take after your Father is all.” Conner considered that for a minute before deciding that, the whole “evil” thing aside, his Father was actually pretty cool, so that was probably a good thing.
His Dad sighed heavily. “Conner, I think we need to have a talk.” Conner got a brief horrifying flashback and was going to protest that he totally had his heat vision under control, before he recognized the voice his Dad was using. It was his “divorced parent” voice, which meant someone was finally going to explain to Conner what all this insanity was about.
His Dad went and sat down at the kitchen table and motioned that Conner should come join him. “I guess it all started with the first time your Father and I met. Well,” his Dad said, forehead wrinkling in thought, “I guess technically it would be the second time we met, but the first time I was three and Lex was unconscious, so I’m not sure that that counts anyways.” It was statements like that that made Conner immensely glad his Dad hadn’t tried to raise him in Smallville. “I was fourteen at the time, standing out on bridge looking at the water and extremely upset about something or other-“
“I bet you were pining after your One True Love, Lana Lang,” Conner cut in.
His Dad groaned. “Remind me why I let you hang out with Chloe again.” Conner just grinned and motioned for his Dad to continue the story, which he did with a roll of his eyes. “So I was upset about something that may or may not have had anything to do with Lana, while standing on a bridge. Meanwhile Lex was coming down the road at about sixty miles an hour in his Porsche. He was probably on the phone too. The point is he didn’t notice the roll of bailing wire that had fallen into the road until too late. He drove over it and his tires blew out, spinning the car out of control. He ran right into me and threw us both off the bridge and into the water. I didn’t even know I was invulnerable at that point and I was terrified. I don’t think I even realized until much later that I hadn’t been hurt at all, at that point all I knew was there was a guy trapped in his car and unconscious. So I ripped open the roof of the car and pulled him out and onto the bank. He wasn’t breathing at that point, so I gave him CPR and managed to bring him back.”
Conner, who had found himself caught up in the story, was completely thrown out of it by that particular bit of information. “Wait; was that your first kiss? No wonder you two are so messed up.”
“CPR is not the same thing as a kiss,” his Dad protested, but he was blushing a little when he said it, which meant yeah, it totally was his first kiss.
“That’s not what TV says,” countered Conner.
“Really? And who here is always complaining about the scientific inaccuracies on TV shows?”
And really there was no way to respond to that, but by glaring slightly. It’s not like it was Conner’s fault he understood relativity and the average script writer didn’t.
“Ok fine, so you gave him CPR, brought him back to life, and he what, asked you to be his best man out of gratitude?” It seemed like a really weird way to pick a best man to Conner, but it did kind of sound like something his Father would do. And, judging from his surprised laughter, his Dad agreed with him.
“No, that came later. He thanked me for saving his life by giving me a truck.”
“He thanked you for saving him from a car accident by giving you a car?” Conner asked, incredulous. “That’s… weird.”
“That is a little morbid, isn’t it?” his Dad said in a way that made it clear that he had never thought of it that way before. “It wouldn’t have mattered either way though. Dad made me give it right back.”
“He didn’t let you keep it? Lame. So you saved Father’s life, he gives you a car, you give it back, then what?”
His Dad shrugged, “Then we became best friends.”
Conner was pretty sure he felt his brain stop when he tried to process that. It just made no sense. Sure, there was an Occam’s Razor type appeal to it, but he had been expecting something more convoluted and complicated. Something involving evil robots or clones and kryptonite that was purple or something and possibly lasers some of sort; that would have made much more sense. (His life was not, Conner reflected in a sudden burst of clarity, anything like normal.)
“Why?” Conner asked. It was the only thing he seemed capable of saying at the moment.
“Why what? Why were we best friends?” Which was as good a question as any, so Conner nodded in agreement.
“Well,” his Dad began, “you’d have to ask your Father why he wanted to be friends with me, but I was friends with him because… there’s no one quite like Lex. He was this cool rich guy come down from Metropolis to backwater Smallville and for some reason saw fit to hang out with an awkward loser farm boy, not to mention his determination to shower me with all sorts of expensive gifts and luxuries. Not that it was all about his money; Lex just had a way of making everything seem better when he was around… I guess I’m not explaining this very well,” he concluded sheepishly.
And Conner knew that tone of voice; it was the same one Jimmy Olsen used to talk about Chloe, or David from his math class used to talk about Mary. His Dad had a crush on his Father. Superman had a crush on Lex Luthor. Or had had one. Conner still hadn’t finished adjusting his world-view from the last bomb his Dad had dropped on him and now this? Was it really too much to ask for at least a five minute break between earth-shattering revelations?
“So if the two of you were such good friends,” Conner said, careful to put absolutely no emphasis on that word since he didn’t think his Dad actually knew he was gay yet, “then what happened?”
“You just can’t ask an easy question, can you?” His Dad was quiet for a minute like he was trying to figure out how to answer that. “I don’t know how much Lex has told you about what it was like for him growing up, but things were… pretty bad for him. If you want to know any more than that you’ll have to ask him yourself.” Conner had heard a couple of stories from his Father about what growing up with Lionel Luthor was like, at least enough to know that he didn’t really want to know more than he already did. “When he got to Smallville, Lex desperately needed someone. I don’t think it would have really mattered if it was a friend or a girlfriend or a parent-type figure, he just needed someone he could trust. Someone who he could be completely honest with and would be completely honest with him, who could remind him that life doesn’t have to be all about lies and manipulation and power and who would like him for himself. And for some reason he decided I could be that person for him.
“I lied to him; I lied a lot. I had really good reasons for it, but that doesn’t change the fact that I never trusted him enough to tell him the truth. And Lex has this insatiable curiosity; he just needs to know everything. So he knew I was lying and knew I had a secret and he wouldn’t – couldn’t – let it go. So he pushed and pushed and every time he did I’d push back. I’d get angry at him and yell and lie some more. And each time that happened, each time I lied to him, he pulled away more. He lost his faith in the goodness in people and let himself become more and more like his Father. Eventually we both stopped trying.”
The more his Dad said, the more it sounded like he was saying it was his fault that his Father was evil. Conner knew that sometimes superheroes kind of made their enemies, but those were always freak accidents. His Dad was making it sound like he had just been a really horrible person. And his Dad was Superman; he was supposed to be the good guy, the best guy. He wasn’t supposed to be making people turn evil, not even on accident. Everything kept changing all it once. It was just too much and his eyes itched.
“You made Father evil?” Conner asked, and he didn’t rub his eyes because he was not crying.
“God, Conner,” his Dad said, seeming to really see Conner for the first time since he had asked his question. Suddenly Conner found himself completely wrapped up in his dad’s arms and was a bit gratified to find that this, at least, was the same as ever. “I just keep messing up, don’t I?”
After a few more seconds, his Dad pulled back, but only far enough that he could look Conner in the eye, and he kept his hands on Conner’s shoulders. “I did not turn your Father evil. We were friends but we couldn’t trust each other, so we grew apart. That’s all there is to it, okay?”
And really Conner didn’t think that was all there was to it, and it was not okay, but his Dad looked so insistent that Conner found himself nodding and agreeing. “Okay.”
His Dad didn’t appear to believe him though, because he closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead before letting out the heaviest sigh Conner had ever heard. “Look Conner, I’m pretty sure I’ve completely burnt the noodles at this point, so I’m going to go order us some take-out. But after that I’m going to come back and we’re going to talk about this for as long as you need to, alright?”
Conner sniffed. “Alright.”
They talked for a long time after that, until Conner’s throat was dry. But by the time he went to his room to go to bed Conner thought he understood how two people, both with the best of intentions and good reasons for what they did, could try to do something and end up with a complete disaster.
At least he had thought he understood right up until a horrible nightmare woke him up, pulse racing and heart pounding. Without thinking about it, Conner grabbed his phone and punched out a call. It wasn’t until the phone started ringing that he realized that this maybe wasn’t the best idea at… 3:18 in the morning.
“Conner? What’s wrong? Are you hurt?” His Father’s voice started out confused, and more than a bit sleepy, but had turned sharp with worry by the end.
“Did Dad turn you evil?” Conner blurted out.
“So now I’m evil and I lack agency? Wonderful,” his Father said far more sarcastically than Conner thought anyone could really be right after being woken up in the middle of the night. “Did Clark tell you that?”
“No,” Conner admitted. “He said that the two of you used to be best friends, but then he lied to you a lot until you didn’t trust him anymore and then you turned evil.” Which really wasn’t exactly what his Dad had said, but it was the best he could manage right now.
“I see. Clark was right about the part where we used to be close friends, until all the lies and secrets made it impossible to trust him. And yes, it did hurt and things would probably be different now if he had just been honest. But I’m also a full grown man who is capable of making his own decisions and taking responsibility for his own actions. Now it is very late and I will see you tomorrow – or rather this – evening. If you want to discuss this more we can do it then, but for now you need to go back to sleep.”
“Okay. Night Father,” Conner agreed. If he had been thinking clearly, then he wouldn’t have said what he did next. Not because it wasn’t true, but because he was still a bit wary of doing something that would scare his Father off. But, perhaps fortunately for all involved, it was very late, Conner was very tired, plus still a bit addled from his nightmare, and he was altogether not thinking very clearly at all. “I love you.”
There was a pause after he said that, but before Conner’s sleep-deprived brain could think to worry, his Father’s voice, light and hesitant, responded, “Good-night Conner. I love you too.”
Chapter 6: In Which Conner Gets the Best Idea Ever
It only took Conner about a day and a half to completely realign his perception of reality to fit with this new information. This was either a testament to his innate adaptability or just how incredibly surreal his life actually was. Either way, Saturday morning found him lounging on a couch in his Father’s penthouse, watching cartoons on what might humbly be called the most giant TV Conner had ever seen in his life.
His Father, who insisted on the two of them spending time together, even when they weren’t doing the same thing, was sitting on the adjacent love seat, reading the newspaper. Conner suspected that the noise from the TV would make it hard to read, but if his Father wanted to spend more time with him, then Conner wasn’t going to complain.
A commercial came on, and Conner glanced over at his Father to see a faintly disgusted expression on his face.
“What is it?” Conner asked.
“Nothing,” his Father said, but then relented at Conner’s skeptical expression. “Just another Lane & Kent LexCorp exposé.”
“Oh,” Conner replied not really sure what he was supposed to say in this situation.
“Don’t worry about it, I’m used to it.” Then, with a slightly mischievous expression, his Father added, “I just wish those two would go ahead and get married and put us all out of our misery.”
“No!” Conner yelped. “Then Lois would be my stepmother.” It’s not that he didn’t like Lois, even if she was a little scary at times; it was just that he really didn’t want her to be his mom.
His Father blanched in horror at that thought. “You’re right, I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine,” Conner assured him. “It isn’t like it’s ever going to happen anyways.”
“Why not? They dated before, didn’t they?” his Father inquired, like Conner didn’t know that his Father totally stalked his Dad.
“Two years ago, and they broke up. Believe it or not Father, not all relationships end with a wedding and an attempt of the husband’s life. And they aren’t going to get back together either,” Conner stated with authority.
“How do you know that?” asked his Father, sounding equal parts curious and amused.
“Mostly because I asked Lois and she said that she doesn’t date gay guys.”
Coffee. Everywhere. Conner really wished he had a camera because a picture of Lex Luthor doing a spit take? That would be priceless.
“Clark’s not gay,” his Father protested, seemingly deciding that the best way to deal with whole coffee incident would be by pretending it hadn’t just happened.
“That’s what Dad said,” Conner responded, and his Father relaxed, apparently content in his world-view once more. And Conner knew how much it sucked to have your world-view shaken so he really regretted having to follow his comment up with, “Not that he’s right.”
“I think Clark would know if he was gay. And even if he didn’t, I definitely would know if he was gay.” Which seemed like a weird distinction to Conner since, stalking aside, his Father and his Dad didn’t even talk to each other outside their superhero and villain roles, but Conner wasn’t going to question it. Every time Conner started questioning the weird things that went on in his life, he just ended up with a headache.
Instead Conner just shook his head. “He’s definitely, probably gay.”
“And you know this because…?” his Father prompted.
“Reasons,” Conner replied cagily. It was one thing to out his Dad to his arch-nemesis, but Conner was pretty sure revealing that as a teenager his Dad had a crush on said arch-nemesis was probably crossing a line. “I just do, okay.”
“Okay, say I believe you. Does his supposed homosexuality bother you at all?” asked his Father. Then he took a sip of coffee that was so desperately causal that Conner wondered how exactly his Father had gotten such a reputation for his poker face in the first place.
“Why should it?” Conner asked, equally, though hopefully not so obviously, causal. “He just likes guys instead of girls. It’s not like it bothers me that you’re bi after all.”
His Father didn’t spit out his coffee this time, but he did choke on it. Conner started to wonder if maybe he shouldn’t talk when his Father was drinking anymore.
“I never told you I was bi,” his Father protested, and Conner was starting to sense a pattern developing.
“You never told me you were a bald billionaire either, but I figured that one out okay,” Conner retorted. “No gay guy gets married to six different women, and no straight guy checks out Nathan Fillion’s ass out that much when they watch Firefly.”
“Fair enough,” his Father conceded. Then, apparently taking in his coffee stained appearance for the first time, he stood up. “I’m going to go put on some clean clothes.”
“Alright,” Conner agreed amiably, suspecting his Father’s sudden departure had more to do with the revelations Conner had made than dirty clothing.
“Oh, and Conner?” his Father asked, pausing in the doorway. “Exactly how sure are you that Clark is gay?”
Conner mulled that over for a second before answering, “Well, Jimmy disagrees, but I think he is and Lois thinks he is, and I think Chloe and Grandma do too, even though they won’t say anything, so… about 98.”
His Father considered that information for a long minute as though it were really important. Then he said, “Good to know,” and left to change.
That’s when Conner got the best idea ever.
“That is the worst idea ever.”
Conner and Tim were playing Halo on the entertainment system in Wayne Manor, which was just as good as the one in the penthouse, even if the TV was a bit smaller. Conner was attempting to recruit Tim’s help with his new idea and things were going not quite as well as Conner could have hoped, but still better than he had expected. Tim hadn’t outright laughed at least.
“How is it the worst idea ever?” Conner objected.
“Well first of all, Clark’s not gay,” said Tim.
“Why do people keep saying that?”
“Maybe because it’s true. And even if it wasn’t true, hooking up Superman and Lex Luthor? How is that a good idea?”
“Bruce and Selina manage it… sort of,” Conner countered.
“Do you really want your Dads to have a relationship like Bruce and Selina’s?” asked Tim, which Conner had to admit was a good point. “And besides, Luthor’s the second most-“
“-second most evil villain around. Selina is just a cat burglar.” Conner snickered a little at that and Tim gave him a look that quite clearly said puns were not amusing.
“I guess. But I don’t think my Father is actually evil though.”
Tim didn’t say anything in response to that, he just paused the game and looked at Conner. “I’m not saying he hasn’t done evil things,” Conner clarified, “I just don’t think that he, as a person, is evil.”
“I’m not seeing the difference,” Tim said.
“It’s like… immoral and amoral. He doesn’t do bad things because he’s evil, he does them because he doesn’t prioritize being ethical the same way most people do. Well that, and I think he just like annoying my Dad. Oh, and he probably wants to rule the world.”
“Are you even listening to yourself talk right now?” Tim asked incredulously.
“Okay, so the ruling the world thing is kind of not good, but I think he’d probably be happy with being elected President or something. And if he and my Dad were together then he wouldn’t have to do evil things to annoy him and he’d have other reasons to prioritize ethics over power or making money,” said Conner.
“So you’re going to stop Lex Luthor from being evil by getting him laid?” Tim said, doing the eyebrow thing that Conner just knew Bruce gave all his protégées secret lessons in.
“Gross, Tim! That’s my Father. And my Dad,” Conner protested. Just because he wanted his dads to get together, it didn’t mean he wanted to think about them together. “Do you want me to start talking about Bruce having sex?” Tim shuddered and, satisfied that they were both traumatized for life, Conner continued. “Besides it’s not like I think that they’re just going to… do it and suddenly my Father’s going to have a moral compass. Father just needs a reason to stop doing bad things and I thought that the possibility of the three of us together, like as a family, might be a good one. That’s all.”
With a judicious use of superspeed, Conner hit the start button on Tim’s controller and focused all his attention on the TV.
“Oh,” said Tim after a short pause. “Well, there’s still the problem of them not being gay. Didn’t Luthor get married like five times?”
“Six times,” Conner corrected. “And Father isn’t gay, he’s bi. He told me so.”
“Okay fine. But Clark’s still not gay though.”
“Dude, my Dad is totally gay. Even Lois thinks so, and she used to date him, so she would know.”
“No way,” Tim disagreed. “And I bet if we called Bart right now he would say the same thing.”
“Yeah, well I bet if we called Cassie, she would agree with me,” Conner countered.
“Yeah she would, but it doesn’t matter because Cassie doesn’t count,” declared Tim.
“What? Why not?” Conner liked Cassie; she was cool. It was completely unfair for Tim to decide she just didn’t count.
“Because Cassie has a huge crush on you,” Tim said with the air of someone stating the obvious.
“She has a huge crush on me?” Conner repeated, surprised. “Do you think I should… I don’t know, ask her out or something?”
“She’s super hot, kicks ass, and she likes you. What do you think?”
“Good point,” Conner replied.
“Just don’t forget get all caught up in couple-land and forget about your best friend, alright?” asked Tim, giving Conner a good natured shove.
“Of course not,” Conner answered easily. “We’re going to be the stuff of legends Tim.”
Tim burst out in to laughter. “The stuff of legends? What the hell is that?”
Conner shrugged. “My Dad mentioned it. Apparently it was an inside joke or something between him and my Father when they used to be friends.”
“Conner?” Tim said smirking.
“Yeah?” Conner responded.
“I changed my mind. Clark is really gay.”
“Ha!” Conner shouted triumphantly. “I told you.”
“I still think this is a really bad idea though.”
Chapter 7: In Which Conner Sets His Plan in Motion
So I feel I need to clarify some things about this vague AU. That whole weird Evil Witch!Lana thing and the Kryptonian Stones of Power? Never happened. The Crystal of Knowledge was probably stashed in the caves somewhere with the rest of Jor-El's junk, and Lana didn't come back from Paris until about half a year or so before this story starts. Which of course also means the whole Clark/Lana/Lex love triangle didn't happen either.
Conner soon hit a snag in his brilliant plan, namely that he didn’t have one. He had a really good idea, but no plan to put it into motion. That was what Tim was supposed to be helping him with, but the other boy was steadfastly refusing to do any plotting. Conner was fairly certain he’d be able to get Tim to help him if he did come up with some sort of zany scheme, but until then he was stuck.
It wasn’t that Conner was dumb. He was actually pretty good at thinking on his feet, but he just hadn’t inherited his Father’s gift for coming up with elaborate and fool-proof plans. Well, fool-proof until Superman got involved, so maybe that particular gift wouldn’t have been much help anyways. Conner tried drawing from all sorts of different sources for help – he even watched The Parent Trap, both versions – and still nothing.
The problem, aside from the fact that he didn’t have a long lost twin, was that his dads spent next to no time together. Conner was more or less trusted to get around the city by himself, so neither of them felt the need to ferry him from one house to the other. His Dad continued to write the occasional story about LexCorp, but they never really required any direct contact between the two of them, and Conner was of the firm opinion that press conferences didn’t count. They had even stopped interacting very much as Superman and Luthor. Superman still made a point of stopping any of LexCorp’s morally corrupt projects, but he rarely tried to lecture Conner’s Father about it afterward any more, and when they did talk it was kept brief and civil. Conner rather suspected they were trying to save him from the trauma of having publically feuding parents, which Conner did appreciate in the abstract, but made his job a lot more difficult.
Eventually Conner decided that his best option would be to just wait for a good opportunity to present itself, and then jump on it. And in the meantime he could keep bugging Tim.
Conner was munching on a bowl of cereal one Saturday afternoon when his dad came in the door, rifling through the mail. The various and assorted letters and catalogues got set down on the counter in favor of a thick ivory envelope.
“Fancy,” Conner commented. “Who’s it from?”
“Lana,” his Dad answered sounding pleased and slightly intrigued. “I wonder what it could be; I haven’t talked to her in ages.”
His Dad unfolded the letter and read it, eyes widening slightly in surprise. “Oh wow.”
“What is it?” Conner asked, craning over to try and see the paper in his Dad’s hands.
His Dad offered it over to Conner while replying. “Lana’s getting married… to Pete.”
“Pete?” Conner repeated, scanning the letter for himself. “Pete Ross, your old friend from Smallville? Your best friend is marrying your One True Love? Harsh.”
“Conner,” his Dad said, bemused, “you do know that Lana isn’t actually my One True Love, right?”
“Oh, believe me I know,” Conner replied with a sly grin. “It’s just funnier if she is.”
“Funnier for who?”
“For me mostly,” Conner said. “Well, me and Chloe. And Father.”
“You talked to Lex about my ex-girlfriend?” his Dad asked, startled.
“Your love life in general,” Conner corrected, seizing on the opportunity. “He finds it interesting.” It wasn’t, strictly speaking, a lie; his Father did seem interested whenever Conner brought the subject up. And if the way Conner phrased it made it sound like his Father was the one bringing it up, well…
“He does? That’s –”
The ringing of a cell phone cut through the air and his Dad pulled it out with an apparent sense of relief.
“Hey Chloe… Yeah, I just got it.”
Conner strained his super-hearing to try and listen to Chloe’s side of the conversation. His Dad, who somehow knew what he was doing, rolled his eyes and put the phone on speaker.
“–s and Lana Lang? Who saw that one coming?”
“It’s Dad’s Best Friend and his One True Love!” Conner chimed in.
Chloe burst out laughing. “Oh poor Clark! Do you need some time to brood?”
“No, I do not need time to brood,” his Dad said, glaring alternatively at his phone and Conner. “I’m not a teenaged boy anymore.”
“You’ll always be that doofy teenaged boy to me Clark,” she assured him.
“Thanks, Chloe,” his Dad replied drily. “But my teenaged romantic woes aside, isn’t this a little fast? I mean, Lana’s only been back in the States for about a year. When did they even start dating?”
“When I heard Lana was moving to New York City I gave her Pete’s email address, because I thought she might like to see a familiar face.” Chloe answered. “I guess she must have contacted him right away, and things would have just gone from there. And you know how Lana is; when she’s in a relationship she always just throws all of herself into it.”
“True,” his Dad agreed. “Well, hopefully it works out from them. So are you planning on going?”
“You think this city girl is going to miss out on an opportunity to go to New York? I might drop off an application at the New York Times while I’m there,” Chloe joked. Well, she was probably joking. Maybe. “What about you, Clarkbar? Going to go to the wedding of your best friend and your One True Love?” Conner snickered and his Dad gave him a look.
“I was planning on it. With any luck, this time will turn out better than the last wedding I was supposed to go to.”
“Was that Lex and Helen’s wedding?” Chloe asked. “You did kind of leave him high and dry from what I hear. Probably a good thing Pete didn’t make you his best man.”
From there Chloe and his Dad got into a debate about how good of a best man he would make, but Conner tuned them out. He had just realized that his Father was probably invited to this wedding too. He and Lana had been friends, plus he had bought her a coffee shop; she pretty much had to invite him to her wedding after that. And wedding were supposed to be super romantic, not to mention his dads would actually be in the same room together. This was Conner’s chance.
“Hey Dad,” Conner said, interrupting Chloe claiming his Dad made a horrible best man because Conner’s Father’s first wife had tried to seduce his Dad, which Conner was definitely asking about later. “Can I go to the wedding too?”
“You want to go Conner?” his Dad asked, surprised.
“I have to meet your One True Love Dad!” Conner told him, which was true, even if it wasn't exactly the reason he had decided he wanted to go.
His Dad looked a little chagrined at Conner’s response, but replied good-naturedly enough. “Sure, if you really want. If I don’t bring you, I’ll probably have to bring Lois as my plus one and something tells me you’ll be better behaved.”
Chloe laughed. “That’s for sure.”
“Hey Chlo, you don’t mind watching Conner for me if I have to, you know, ‘go take care of something,’ do you?” requested his Dad.
“Sure thing. Conner and I can even go see the sights of the city together,” Chloe confirmed.
“Well,” Conner said standing up, “I’ve got to go tell the Titans I’m going to be busy that weekend. Talk to you later Chloe.”
“Bye Conner,” Chloe called, and his Dad nodded at him before picking up his cell phone and turning it off speaker.
Conner walked off to his room and closed the door. He did send out a quick text to let his teammates know what was up, but when he made an actual phone call it wasn’t to any of the Titans.
“Hello Conner,” said his Father. “Hold on just a second, will you?”
“Sure,” Conner agreed, listening to the sounds of fingers taping on the keyboard in the background.
“Alright,” his Father said with one final click. “What’s up?”
“Sorry, were you busy?” Conner asked.
“Just some work, nothing I can’t do later.”
Conner frowned. “I thought you weren’t working on weekends anymore.”
“I don’t work on weekends when I have you,” his Father corrected. “Other weekends are fair game.”
Conner’s frown deepened. His Dad was always telling him how essential it was to balance responsibilities with personal enjoyment, and the importance of not over-working yourself. Of course, his Dad was talking about superhero stuff, but the principle was likely the same. Still, right now was probably not the time to bring that up.
“Did you get an invitation to Lana’s wedding?” Conner asked instead. “Are you planning on going?”
“Yes and no,” his Father answered.
“No,” Conner protested, “you have to come.”
“Because Dad is taking me with him and I wanted you to go too,” replied Conner. “We can go explore New York City together,” he added temptingly. He wouldn’t have even thought about it if Chloe hadn’t made the offer earlier, but it did sound like fun.
“I see,” his Father said drily. “Are you sure that’s why you want me to come?”
“I really want to go see New York with you.” The statement was true, even if it wasn’t exactly the answer to the question.
“Alright then, I guess I’ll go after all,” his Father conceded in a tone that said ‘I know you’re up to something, but I’m going to go along with it anyway.’ “I’m going to have to find myself a date now.”
“Bring Hope,” Conner interjected.
“Well, you could ask Mercy, but she’ll probably say no because I don’t really think weddings are her thing. Then you’ll have to ask Hope anyway, so might as well save yourself the time,” Conner explained.
“And why am I bringing one of my bodyguards as my date?”
“Because then you can bring a bodyguard, which you know you’re going to want to do anyway, without it being really awkward. More importantly, you won’t have some random lady hanging all over you and keeping us from hanging out.” If it also meant that neither of his dads would be at the wedding with a real date, well that was just a coincidence.
“I suppose having to spend the whole time with some woman would defeat the purpose of going,” his Father agreed. “But I think I’ll ask Mercy and Hope, and then let the two of them duke it out for the honor of taking me.”
Conner laughed. “My money’s still on Mercy throwing the match.”
“Duly noted,” his Father responded. “Is there anything else you needed?”
“Nope,” Conner said. “I’ll see you on Wednesday, Father. Love you.”
“I love you too. Bye,” his Father said before hanging up.
Conner grinned. Phase One was a success. Now he just had to figure out Phase Two… Time to bug Tim some more.
Chapter 8: In Which Conner Attends a Wedding
I’m super excited about this chapter guys! It’s got Conner plotting (poorly)! Clexinesss (that’s definitely a word)! Rational adult discourse (Yes, this totally deserves its own exclamation point)! Dancing (of both the swing and normal variety)!
By the time the wedding rolled around Tim was still being a dick – metaphorically that is, since Conner was pretty sure that if Dick was his best friend then he’d be all over the zany scheming thing – and Phase Two ended up being pretty much the same thing as Phase One, wait for an opportunity and jump on it. Unfortunately coincidences that make for the perfect opportunity don’t just fall out of the sky, not twice in a row anyways. They had already had been to the ceremony and were now part of the way through the reception and Conner had nothing. Stupid Tim.
Conner was currently wandering around the room looking for someone interesting to talk to. He had been hanging out with his Dad, but then he and Pete had started reminiscing. And not even the interesting kind of reminiscing, like “Hey remember that time that meteor mutant cow went rampaging through downtown Smallville and almost ate all those people?” Not that that had ever happened as far as Conner was aware, but it would have been cool if it had. Instead they were talking about boring stuff they had done in high school and Conner had wandered off, disinterested. Then he had run into Chloe and Jimmy and talked with them a while, but Pete, apparently finished reminiscing with Conner’s Dad, had come over and started reminiscing with Chloe. And Jimmy had somehow found their stories interesting, despite the fact that there still wasn’t a single mutant cow. Conner had also met the bride and Lana seemed nice, if too sweet for his Dad in Conner’s opinion. It had been a bit awkward too, since she kept wanting to bond over the fact that both their mothers had died when they were little and they had both found their dads when they were in their teens. Except that had only ever happened to Conner in his cover story, and he wasn’t sure it was something he would want to bond over even if it really had happened.
Conner finally spotted his Father, who was currently sitting at a table by himself. Well, except for Hope (Conner had so totally called that one!), but she was in full body-guard mode at the moment and so didn’t really count. Sliding into a chair next to his Father, Conner got a brilliant idea.
“I think you should ask him to dance,” Conner announced.
“Ask who to dance?” his Father drawled and Conner scowled. His Father totally knew who he was talking about.
“You should ask Dad to dance,” Conner clarified.
“You know Conner, despite the fact that one of your parents was a red-head, you are not Lindsay Lohan.”
“I liked the other version better anyway,” Conner replied grumpily.
“Yes, well you aren’t Hayley Mills either,” his Father said. Conner thought he should probably be weirded out by the fact that his Father knew that actress’s name off the top of his head, but he had pretty much resigned himself to the fact that his Father knew everything, One time Conner had deliberately looked up really obscure bits of trivia to try and trip him up, but his Father had still known the answer to every question Conner had asked.
“I know that. I still think you should ask him to dance.”
His Father shifted in his seat to better give Conner one of his inscrutable looks. “I really don’t think that’s a good idea,” he said.
“Why not?” Conner asked.
“Aside from the fact that you know Clark and I aren’t friends anymore?” Well, duh. Why did he think Conner was trying to get the two of them to dance together in the first place? “I’m not going to ask another guy to dance at a wedding.”
“That’s stupid,” Conner informed him. “I would totally ask another guy to dance if I was into that.” And he would too. The fact that he hadn’t gotten up the courage to ask Cassie out yet meant nothing.
“Somehow I find that hard to believe,” his Father said.
“If I did ask another guy to dance would you ask Dad?” Because Conner was willing to make that sacrifice in the name of getting his dads together.
“Depends,” his Father told him. “Are you going to let this go if I don’t?”
Conner pretended to consider that for a minute before brightly responding “Nope!”
“Okay,” his Father agreed with a sigh. “You get another guy to dance with you and I’ll ask Clark. But I can’t guarantee he’ll say yes.”
Conner eyed his Father suspiciously. “But you’ll ask him like a normal person, right? Because if you do something crazy like threaten to blow the Statue of Liberty if he doesn’t dance with you so he’ll have to say no out of principle, then it doesn’t count.”
“I am capable of asking someone to dance,” his Father responded drily.
Conner watched his Father for another minute before nodding, convinced that wasn’t going to deliberately sabotage Conner’s epic plan. “I’m going to find someone to dance with then,” Conner announced, hopping up and running off.
Conner so had this one in the bag. He already knew who he was going to get to dance with him, if he could just find him… there!
“Hey Jimmy,” Conner said, sidling up to the photographer. Jimmy was standing with Chloe, and the two of them were talking to a couple of people Conner didn’t recognize. Or rather, Chloe was talking to them and Jimmy was looking incredibly bored. Perfect.
“Hey!” Jimmy exclaimed, looking relieved. “It’s CK the second.”
“Hi Conner,” Chloe said, smiling at Conner absently before turning back to her conversation.
“So what can I do for you?” Jimmy asked. “Hopefully, something that doesn’t have to do with computer programming languages I don’t understand?”
“I have a bet for you,” Conner told him. “If you help me do one thing, then I’ll bet I can get Dad and Fa– Lex to dance together.”
“CK and Lex Luthor?” Jimmy said disbelievingly. “There’s no way. You were so on little man.”
“Good,” Conner said. “Then I need you to come dance with me.”
“Dance with you?” Jimmy echoed.
“Yup,” Conner assured him with a nod. “I told you you’d have to help me do something, now let’s go.”
“Okay,” Jimmy said hesitantly, “just a second.”
He turned and tapped Chloe on the shoulder. “Chloe?” he said, and once she was looking at him, “I’ll be right back. I’m just going to… dance with Conner.”
This seemed to actually grab her attention, and she looked the two of them up and down. Jimmy was shuffling a little, nervously, and Conner flashed her his best grin. “Alright,” she agreed slowly. “You boys have fun.”
“Thanks Chloe,” Conner exclaimed as he grabbed Jimmy by the arm and began dragging him toward the band. On the way there Conner caught his Father’s eye and raised his eyebrows at him. Conner was pretty sure his Father groaned, but he did get up and walk off in the direction of Conner’s Dad.
“So,” Jimmy said once they had reached the dance floor, “Do we have to do any kind of dance in particular or…?”
“I don’t think it matters,” Conner told him. “We just have to dance together.”
“Oh, well then why don’t I teach you some swing dancing moves?” Jimmy suggested. “Chicks totally dig that.”
“Really?” Conner asked doubtfully.
“Not really,” Jimmy admitted. “I just always thought they should.”
Conner shrugged. “Sure.” Jimmy was doing him a huge favor after all; they might as well do whatever kind of dancing Jimmy wanted to. Plus, Conner discovered as Jimmy started teaching him the steps, this swing dancing thing was kind of fun.
“Do I want to know why Conner is dancing with Jimmy?” Conner perked up at the sound of his name. He glanced over toward the source of the sound and, sure enough, his Dad and his Father were standing right next to each other, talking. Conner was tempted to try to watch them, but as good as he was at dividing his attention, he didn’t think he could manage learning swing dancing from Jimmy and spying on his dads and eavesdropping on their conversation all at the same time. Not to mention it’d be pretty obvious that he was staring.
“He wants to try and hook us up,” his Father said in answer to his Dad’s question.
“And how is swing dancing with Jimmy going to accomplish that?”
“He made me agree that, if he could find a guy to dance with him, then I would come and ask you to dance too,” his Father said. “I forgot that that push-over Olsen was here.”
“I see,” his Dad replied, sounding amused and not the slightest bit disturbed or disgusted or anything. Score.
“It doesn’t bother you?”
“Conner’s a kid. And, even though he is starting to catch up to himself, he’s still a lot younger than he looks in a lot of ways. I think I’d be more worried if he wasn’t trying to get his parents together.”
“Actually what I meant was, does it bother you that he’s trying to set you up with another guy?” his Father clarified, completely unsubtly, ruining Conner’s plans to try to lead his Dad into the whole “liking guys” thing slowly.
“Lex, I’m gay.” Or his Dad could already know. That – made Conner’s job a lot easier, actually. But his Dad could have said something!
“You’re gay,” his Father repeated, which Conner took as proof of just how surprised he was.
“Yeah, but could you do me a favor and not tell Lois I said that? She figured it out before I did, and I really don’t need to give her another reason to be smug. Though I guess I’ll have to tell her if I ever start dating someone seriously,” his Dad finished with a sigh.
“You could always just tell her that you’re not really gay, ‘it’s just him,’” his Father suggested.
“Does that work?” his Dad said skeptically.
“You’d be surprised,” his Father replied. “You might want to say something to Conner though. He’s under the impression that you’re gay and in denial about it. I think he mentioned Martha and Chloe think so too.”
“Really? I could have sworn I told Mom and Chloe. I guess it just never came up,” his Dad said and Conner thought he heard him shrug. “I’m surprised Conner didn’t say anything to me however. He’s usually pretty straight-forward about things like that.”
“He was fairly blunt with me,” his Father agreed.
“Conner asked you if you were bi?” his Dad said, voice brimming with mirth.
“More like he told me I was,” his Father corrected. “And how did you know I was bi anyway? Was this one of those things everyone knew and just never mentioned?”
“No, I’m pretty sure it was just me and Conner. And as to how I knew, let’s just say some things are more obvious in retrospect, and leave it at that,” his Dad said. Conner could tell from the quality of the silence that followed that his Father wasn’t really happy with that answer. But he didn’t push it either, which was a good thing Conner decided.
“So,” his Father said after the quiet had stretched on for a few moments, “does this mean we aren’t avoiding each other anymore?” Ha! Conner knew they had been doing it on purpose.
“I don’t know Lex, you tell me,” his Dad responded.
“This was your idea Clark,” his Father shot back.
“No, what I said was that we had to stop having larger than life fights all over the place,” his Dad corrected, the calm in his voice strained. “You were the one that decided that meant we had to spend as little time in each other’s presence as possible.”
“And how else were we supposed to stop fighting? When have we ever been able to disagree on anything without letting it get out of hand?”
“When was the last time we really tried?” his Dad countered. “Not since I was a teenager and prone to throwing fits anytime I didn’t like something someone was doing.”
“And you’re not now?” his Father snapped. “Because I seem to remember a lab that got smashed to pieces just last week.”
What were they doing? They weren’t supposed to be fighting. They were supposed to talk and then dance together and remember that they really did like each other. Then they could be friends again and then realize they loved each other and then the three of them could all be a family together. That was what was supposed to happen, but they had been barely talking for five minutes and they were already fighting.
“Hey Conner, are you alright?” Jimmy asked, snapping Conner’s attention back to the dance lesson.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Conner said with a weak smile. “Just some dust, you know.”
“If you’re sure,” Jimmy said, and Conner nodded. “Okay, well this next move…”
Tuning back into his parent’s conversation he heard his Dad saying “– and you know that’s illegal. I –“ Then he just stopped. His Dad took in a deep breath and then slowly let it out. “No, you know what Lex? You’re right. I had legitimate reasons to be concerned, but I handled the situation poorly and I’m sorry.”
“You’re sorry,” his Father repeated, voice hollow with shock.
“I’m sorry,” his Dad confirmed. “And while I’m at it I apologize for all the other times I over-reacted too.”
“Clark, are you on some new kind of Kryptonite?"
“What?” his Dad said. “No I’m not ‘on’ anything. I’m just trying out this crazy thing called ‘Rational Adult Discourse.’ It’s where, when we have problems, we talk about them like grown-ups and nobody gets everything they want, but at the end of the day no labs have gotten destroyed and no one has gotten shot with Kryptonite bullets and everyone is reasonably happy.”
“Yes, I’m familiar with the concept,” his Father said and Conner could hear the eye-roll in his voice. But it was the indulgent sort of eye-roll that he sometimes directed at Conner, so maybe things were going to be alright. “I’m just not sure we’re capable of it.”
“You never know if you don’t try,” commented his Dad.
“You really think this is a good idea?” his Father asked.
“No, I think it’s a horrible idea.” Conner tripped. They had been getting along! What was his Dad saying? “But neither of us would have gotten anywhere without taking risks, Lex” his Dad continued and Conner heaved an internal sigh of relief. “Besides I think this cold war we had going on might have been upsetting Conner nearly as bad as the knock-down drag-out fights would have.”
“So your plan is for us to sort through our mountains of issues and discuss them rationally, overcoming years of habit, and somehow not traumatize our son in the process?” said his Father skeptically.
“I never claimed to be a master strategist,” his Dad responded lightly. “I think I’ll leave the evil geniusing to the guy who got a model of the siege of Troy for his ninth birthday.”
“I guess I can’t expect too much from someone whose idea of a plan is ‘punch the other guy really hard,’” his Father mused.
“That’s not fair; I also use ‘move really fast’ and ‘be invulnerable,’” his Dad objected wryly.
“You intelligence astounds,” said his Father, and his Dad laughed.
“Hey,“ his Dad said, “weren’t we supposed to have a dance together?”
“Should we really be encouraging Conner like that?” his Father asked. Yes, yes they should.
“It’s just a dance Lex, Conner knows that. Right Conner?”
Shit, how did his Dad do that? It’s like sensing superhearing was one of his superpowers.
“Yes sir,” Conner said.
“What was that?” asked Jimmy, who Conner had kind of forgotten was teaching him swing dancing. Again.
“Umm,” Conner stalled, casting about. “I said look at that over there.” Which sounded absolutely nothing like “yes sir” but Jimmy was so distracted by the sight of Conner’s dads walking out to the dance floor together that he didn’t notice.
“I don’t believe it,” said Jimmy. “How in the world did you manage to pull that one off Conner?”
Conner smirked. “I’m an evil genius.”
Across the floor his Dad laughed.
Chapter 9: In Which Conner Recruits Some Help
So funny story about why this chapter took so long. It turns out, that while I knew where the story was going next, I was completely wrong about how it was going to get there. Twice in a row...
Also when I refer to Cat Grant I'm talking about the more standard characterization, not the Smallville one,
"My plan isn't working," Conner announced, banging the door to Tim's room open, and then shutting it carefully behind him. Dramatic entrances were well and good, but that didn't mean Conner wanted to risk anyone overhearing them.
"Conner," Tim hissed, "what are you doing here?"
"I came to hang out," Conner said. "What's the problem?" Sure, they usually hung out at Titan's Tower or at Wayne Manor, mostly because it was a lot easier for Conner to fly to wherever Tim was than for Tim to come to Metropolis, but it's not like those were the only places they could hang out.
"What am I supposed to tell my Dad? Wait, was that you at the door a minute ago?"
“Oh, that,” Conner said dismissively. It must really suck having your parents, or parent in Tim's case, not know that you were a superhero. "He thinks that I'm in your English class and you're going to help me because I'm having trouble."
Tim exhaled. “I guess that’s fine. Just call me first next time okay?”
“Sure thing,” Conner agreed.
“Now, what plan were you talking about?” asked Tim.
“The plan,” said Conner. He only had the one going. He wasn’t really much of a planner.
Tim looked at him. “Weren’t you just going on about how well they were getting along last month?”
“Yeah, but that was a month ago. A month ago them actually talking to each other was progress. Now it’s just that same thing they were doing last month,” explained Conner.
“Conner, we’re talking about Superman and Lex Luthor. That they’re even talking to each other is probably a enough progress for a year or two at least. I mean, doesn’t Luthor have bodyguards with Kryptonite bullets?”
“No, he doesn’t have those anymore,” Conner told him.
Tim blinked in surprise. “Luthor got rid of his Kryptonite bullets?”
“No, he just doesn’t let his bodyguards have them. He just keeps them altogether with a gun in a lead lined safe in his office.”
“Yeah,” Tim agreed. “That makes more sense. But Luthor still has the Kryptonite, which was really my point anyway.”
“So?” Conner said. “Bruce has Kryptonite and he and Clark are still friends. And there’s a flour jar at Grandma’s that’s lead lined and I’m not allowed to touch, so I’m pretty sure she has some Kryptonite too. I don’t think Dad really has a problem with Father having the Kryptonite, as long as he’s not using it.”
Tim looked at Conner skeptically for a few moments and then he shrugged. “He’s your dad, so I guess you would know.”
“Great,” Conner enthused. “So how are we going to get them together?”
“I don’t know what you’re going to do, but we aren’t doing anything,” Tim replied.
“But you just said-”
“And I’ve been saying that I’m not going to get involved in your crazy schemes to hook your dads up. I get why you're doing it, and I won’t try to stop you, but I still think it’s a really bad idea and I’m not going to let you drag me into it,” Tim said, giving Conner an “and that’s final” look.
“Fine,” said Conner, pouting a little bit. Objective A was a bust then. Onto Objective B. “Hey, I’ve you guys done Hamlet yet at your school, because my class is doing it now, and I don’t get it at all.”
Tim looked at Conner, exasperated. “You didn’t actually have any sort of plan for what you were going to say to my dad when you got here, did you?”
Conner grinned sheepishly. Truthfully, when Tim’s dad opened the door Conner had panicked and said the first non-incriminating thing that came to mind, that he was here to get help on his English. From there Mr. Drake had filled all the holes in Conner’s story by himself. “Not exactly?” Conner said hesitantly.
Tim threw a pillow at his head.
Conner let the pillow hit his face, and then batted it aside. “Well, have you?”
Tim sighed. “Yeah, last semester. What don’t you get?”
Conner smiled. Alright, English homework down. Now he just has to find someone to help him come up with a plan to hook his dads up.
So... who does he know that’s smart and has no compunctions about meddling in other people’s lives?
“Hey Lois,” Conner said, plopping down on the corner of her desk.
Lois glanced up from her work and smiled at him quickly before turning back to whatever she was doing. “Hey kiddo, your Dad isn’t in right now. My cousin called him up just a minute ago for some favor or other.”
“I know,” agreed Conner. He should, he’s the one who asked Chloe to distract his Dad so he could talk to Lois without him catching onto Conner’s plan. Well, any more than he already was anyways. Conner had tried asking for Chloe’s help with the plan directly, but she had apparently sworn off meddling in his Dad’s life after “the last time,” whatever that meant. She was willing to support Conner’s meddling indirectly though, and Lois, if Conner could get her to agree, would probably be an even better help than Chloe would. Lois, after all, had the advantage of actually being in Metropolis, instead of Topeka like Chloe, and her scary intensity would probably be extremely helpful when channeled toward the greater good of hooking his dads up. “I actually wanted to talk to you.”
Lois looked at him with a sharp-toothed smile. ”Ten minutes. Five because I like you, and five for that trick you pulled with Smallville and Chloe.”
Conner took a deep breath. Here goes. “I want you to help me get my Dad and Lex together.” Lois actually knew the truth about them both being his dads, because apparently once you knew the whole alien thing, you were in on all of Dad’s secrets for life, but Conner wasn’t stupid enough to refer to them as “his dads” in the middle of the newsroom.
“Conner, do you remember the last time you came in here and asked about the two of them and I told you I wasn’t going near that crazy with a ten foot pole? That’s still true.”
“But Lois,” Conner said, pouting a bit. The expression didn’t work nearly as well on her as it did on his Father, but better than it did on his Dad. “It’s totally what Dad wants, and I bet it would make him really happy, he just needs our help making him see that.”
Lois sighed. “I would like to see Smallville with someone who makes him happy - and that’s not me agreeing to help you - and I won’t deny that he wouldn’t mind grabbing a piece of Luthor tail-”
Conner winced at that - why must people talk about his dads having sex; sure that’s what he wanted, but that didn’t mean he wanted to think about it - and Lois rolled her eyes. “Your parents have sex. Not with each other necessarily, but they still have it, ” she told him flatly. “Accept it and move on. Now back to my point, Clark might be as straight as a rainbow, but Luthor likes women. He likes them a lot and a lot of them. Which means this plan is already dead in the water, even if I wanted to help you.”
“Well, of course he like women” - he had married six of them after all - “but Fa-Lex likes men too. He told me so.”
“Lex Luthor told you he’s bi?” Lois asked in one of those shouting whispers, her eyebrows having disappeared somewhere up in her hairline.
“He didn’t tell me exactly,” Conner replied. “I figured it out and he confirmed it.”
“Holy crap,” Lois said. Then she seemed to shake off her disbelief. “Well, just because he likes men in general, that doesn’t mean he’s into Clark - okay you know what, forget I said that. I’m not sure who I was trying to fool.”
“So you’ll help?” Conner asked.
“Ten foot pole,” Lois repeated. “No, I’m not going to help.”
“But why not?” Conner objected.
“Mostly because whatever the hell it is going on between them would take a genius to sort out,” Lois told him.
“I know,” agreed Conner. “That’s why I’m asking you for help.” It wasn’t a lie, he was asking Lois partially because she was smart, even if it wasn’t the entire truth either.
Lois smiled. “Flattery is appreciated, but it’s not going to get you anywhere.”
“But it will give you a chance to meddle in Dad’s life.”
“Bribery, on the other hand...” Lois said, trailing off suggestively. “Keep going.”
“If Lex was together with Dad he’d probably stop doing a lot of the bad stuff that he does,” Conner added.
Lois shook her head. “That’s good, but no. What else you got?”
“Um... you’ll know about Lex’s latest hook-up” - not that Conner’s Dad was just going to be a hook-up for his Father, no sir - “before Cat Grant does and you can totally rub her face in it?” guessed Conner.
“That’s the one,” Lois agreed, snapping her fingers decisively. “I’m in.
“Great!” exclaimed Conner. “So what’s the plan?”
“I don’t know yet, I just started working on this,” Lois chided. “But you don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of phase one, you just be ready for your cue.”
“My cue?” he echoed.
“Oh, you’ll know it when you see it,” she assured him. And then Lois grinned in a way that was positively evil.
Chapter 10: In Which Conner Makes a Lot of Phone Calls
When Conner got home from school the next Tuesday, there was a notice on the door of his Dad’s apartment. Conner pulled it off and absently began reading it as he walked inside and took a seat at the kitchen table.
“Blah, blah, blah, termites.., blah, blah, blah, fumigation… blah, blah, blah, find alternative accommodations. Huh.” That was weird. Conner hadn’t noticed any termites around or termite damage or anything, and he didn’t think his Dad had either. You’d think one of them would have seen something if it was bad enough that everyone was being made to leave so they could fumigate the place.
Wait a second…
Conner whipped out his phone and scrolled through his contacts.
“Is this my cue?” Conner asked.
“Why yes Conner, your dad is away from his desk right now, so feel free to blatantly discuss our plan to manipulate him into hooking up with the guy he supposedly couldn’t stand less than a year ago.”
“Well, it’s not like he would have known that’s what we were talking about if you hadn’t of said that,” Conner pointed out. Or that it was Conner on the phone with Lois at all. His Dad didn’t like to eavesdrop on people unless he had to, usually because he thought they were in danger or something. “But since, he isn’t there, is this my cue?”
“That depends,” Lois replied. “Are you referring to the sudden infestation of termites that your building is suffering from? Because in that case, yes it is your cue.”
“You infested our building with termites?” Conner asked, not a little impressed. “How did you even do that?”
“Uh-uh-uh,” she chastised. “A good reporter never reveals her secrets.”
“I thought that was a good magician. Or her sources.”
“Details,” Lois said dismissively. “I trust you know what to do from here.”
“Yes,” said Conner promptly. Then, “Maybe. No, not really.” Given some time he could probably figure it out, but it would be faster if Lois just told him what she wanted him to do. Besides, if he had to come up with it himself, he might guess wrong and accidently mess her plan up. The key to a properly executed plan was clear communication between all its co-conspirators, or at least that’s what Batman said. And Batman was basically the king of plan-making, so Conner trusted his judgment.
Lois sighed. “Your place is going to be fumigated, right?”
“Right,” Conner agreed.
“And you guys are going to have to find someplace else to stay for a while, right?”
“Yeah,” said Conner, glancing at the notice again. “For a week.”
“A whole week? Good,” Lois said, practically purring. “Now, where are you guys going to stay while you’ve been kicked out?”
“Oh!” Conner said, his eyes going wide with comprehension and excitement. “I’m going to call him right now.”
“You do that” Lois said. “And call me when he agrees to it; I need to stay on top of this story if I’m going to beat Cat to the punch.”
Conner agreed, and then hung up so he could call his Father.
“Hey Father, you busy?” Conner asked. Not that his Father would ever admit to being too busy to talk to Conner, but he had learned to translate his Father’s answers and knew that if he said something about ‘I always have time for you’ then that meant he’d walked out in the middle of another board meeting to explain what a joke Conner had seen on a sitcom meant because the people at Alcmene Labs didn’t understand the value of getting history references.
“Nothing important,” his Father replied and Conner nodded. That meant he was working on something important, but not time-sensitive, so he was free to talk for a bit.
“Good, because I kind of needed to ask you for a favor,” Conner said.
“Whatever you need,” replied his Father and the really amazing, but also kind of scary thing was, he totally meant that. Like, anything Conner wanted, his Father would do, no questions asked. Well, maybe some questions asked if he wanted his Father to do something really over-the-top or crazy, like killing a bunch of people or blowing up the moon, but he’d still do it, even if it was only because the moon offended Conner’s delicate sensibilities –which Conner totally didn’t have because he wasn’t a complete pansy, but if he did have delicate sensibilities, and the moon did offend them, his Father would totally blow it up and wow, had this train of thought got him totally off topic.
“Dad’s apartment building is being fumigated for a week starting next Monday, so they’re kicking us out,” Conner explained.
“Conner,” his Father said, sounding a bit distressed, “that’s not a favor. You’re always welcome here; it’s your home as much as Clark’s place is.”
“I know that,” Conner said, “but Dad needs a place to stay too.”
“Oh. I’m not sure that’s a good idea…” said his Father.
“Why not? That’s what friends do for each other, and you guys are friends, now. Right?” Conner asked, suddenly struck with the paralyzing certainty that they had only play-acting at being for his benefit, and they still hated each other, and they’d never get together, and then Conner would never have a real family, and-
“We’re trying to be,” his Father said, and okay, Conner could deal with that. “It’s just.” His Father sighed. “Honestly, I wouldn’t have a problem with it if both of you wanted to stay, but I don’t think that Clark’s going to agree to it.”
“But if he does, then it’s okay, right?”
“Right,” his Father confirmed.
“Good, then I call you back to let you know when we’ll be coming over,” Conner said, hanging up over the sound of his Father’s protests. One down, one to go.
“Hey Dad,” Conner said into the phone a few seconds later, unwilling to wait until his Dad got home to finish setting this thing in motion. “So I’ve got some bad news.”
“What’s up?” his Dad asked.
“The apartment’s being fumigated next week.”
“So we need to find someplace to stay,” his Dad concluded. In the background Conner could hear Lois protesting loudly in background and he smiled to himself. “Wait,” his Dad said, his voice faint as though he were holding the phone away from his face, “what happened last time?... No, I don’t know what I did… Okay, fine Lois, whatever. Sorry about that, Conner."
“Not a problem,” said Conner. “Plus I already know where we can stay. Father’s penthouse.”
“Oh. I’m not sure that’s a good idea…” his Dad said, and seriously, why did people always doubt all of Conner’s great ideas?
“Yes it is,” Conner argued. “Father’s got plenty of space and I even have my own room over there already.”
“And you’re welcome to stay there if that’s what you want; I just think it’d be better if I found somewhere else.”
“But you guys are friends,” Conner said petulantly, “I don’t understand what the problem is.”
“The problem is, that’s really big favor to ask of someone, and Lex and I are only just starting to work through things again. I don’t want to push him,” his Dad explained.
“But I already asked, and he’s fine with it,” said Conner.
“Conner,” his Dad sighed. “I really wish you would talk these things over with me first.”
“Sorry,” Conner said, though really he wasn’t that sorry at all, since there was no way his Dad would have let him ask if he hadn’t talked to his Father first. Conner wasn’t stupid.
“What’s done is done, just, in the future, talk to me first, alright? Now, is Lex really okay with me staying at the penthouse, or did you guilt him into it?” his Dad asked.
“I asked him and he said he thought it was a bad idea and I asked why and he said that he was fine with it, but he didn’t think you’d want to stay with him,” Conner reported dutifully.
“Dammit Lex,” his Dad said, sort of under his breath like Conner wasn’t supposed to hear, but superhearing, duh. “Fine, I’ll talk to him, but I guess that’s what we’re doing.”
“Great!” Conner said grinning so wide that if his face could hurt, it totally would right now. This was going to be awesome.