After Red Tornado leaves them to their own devices, M'gann drifts down to the gym to sort out her thoughts. It would take time to adjust to living on Earth; she'd known that from the start. It just hadn't occurred to her that Earth—that her team—would need time to adjust to her. And that was foolish. She has no reason to believe that they were being cruel—that they would ever be cruel to her; she only took for granted that she'd be awarded the same confidence as they awarded each other, not stopping to think that their faith in each other had to be built once, too. But she could learn to like it here, she's sure.
"Mind if I join you?"
She's so shocked by the intrusion that she nearly drops the weights she'd been levitating on top of Robin's head. She catches it about two seconds before it brains him and winces, even though he only looks up and raises an eyebrow. He's still out of uniform, which shouldn't surprise her as much as it does. His belt is still slung across his shoulder, though, which doesn't surprise her at all.
"Sorry," she blurts. "I mean, yes. If you'd like." He only smiles at her and pulls out a batarang.
They make a game of it: he bounces around the room, hurling projectiles at her, and she deflects them, guides them into the targets lining the walls. After a while he switches from batarangs to explosive pellets, and it gives her a jolt of satisfaction when she's quick enough to hit the targets before they deploy.
Thirty minutes in, Robin holds up his hands in surrender. "I'm all out, Miss M," he says, panting faintly and sitting down cross-legged.
She beams. What she wants is to take his hand and open her mind to him and push, just a little, so he knows exactly what she's feeling—the exhilaration, the slight fatigue, the warm, bubbly nameless thing expanding in her chest—but she really is trying to be respectful so she sinks to the ground and settles on, "This was fun."
"Yeah," he agrees. "Look, I came down here to talk to you. To apologize."
"You've already done that," she says, hoping it comes off as lightly as she intended.
"I know, but." He cuts himself off with a sigh and rubs at his temples. She wonders if he knows he's leaning in a little closer to her, or if it's an unconscious reaction. "When we formed this team, it should have been implicit that all of us—we shouldn't have doubted you, and I definitely shouldn't have blown up at you like that, and—"
"Robin," she says gently, and this time she does take his hand. "It's okay."
He may not have actually meant to kiss her; it's equally likely that he'd been aiming for her cheek and she just moved at the inopportune moment. Nevertheless, there's a dry brush of lips on hers, and she jumps as though from an electric shock. When he pulls away, he's flushing lividly.
"Sorry," he mumbles, laughing nervously. "I guess I just have a thing for redheads?"
I'm not really a redhead, she doesn't say. "Who…?"
"A girl from my school. And, uh." His flush deepens. "Wally."
"Oh." She blinks.
The twist of his mouth is equal parts sly and pleading, and, not for the first time, she wonders what his eyes look like behind his glasses. "Don't tell?"
"Of course." She squeezes his hand. "I promise."
He grins. "I trust you."
Yes, she can learn to like it here.
She hadn't expected to like baking as much as she does. On television, it seemed like it always ended in catastrophe and hijinks, but after a few mishaps she thinks she's gotten pretty good at it. Wally seems to think so, at any rate. She can't walk into the kitchen without him on her heels.
"Babe, you might be the best thing that's ever happened to me," he tells her around a mouthful of cookie.
She smiles and rolls her eyes. "I think you might have said that once or twice already."
"It needs repeating," he says primly, and flashes her a crumbly grin.
"Chew and swallow," she laughs. She leans her elbows on the counter and watches him, amused.
"Oh, sure, now the alien's gonna lecture me on etiquette." He obeys, though, even opens his mouth wide to prove it before going after another three cookies.
"Wally," she says carefully, resting her chin on her hands.
"Are you attracted to me?"
He chokes on his cookies.
"I'm just wondering, because you're always flirting, which I know is a sign of affection, but you never do anything about it. You're—" She pauses, tapping her fingers against her jaw pensively. "Complicating my understanding of relationships on Earth."
"Uh," he coughs, pounding a fist against his chest, "I could. Do something. If you want. You know, for science."
"Well, if it's for science," M'gann hums, and leans across the table to meet him halfway.
It's not the way M'gann thinks it's supposed to go, based off her knowledge of romance novels. Their noses bump at first, and their teeth clack uncomfortably, and when Wally's mouth opens under hers she can still taste chocolate sweetness in his mouth. She doesn't think it's bad by any account, but when she opens her eyes Wally's head is buried in his hands.
"So can this be one of those things we never talk about to anybody?"
M'gann has never had one of those things and is curiously excited about it, but she restrains herself so that she doesn't make light of Wally's apparent humiliation.
"It'll never leave this room. Just something that we shared, okay?" The words send a secret buzzing down her spine, because sharing means team, means friends, means home.
"I think I'm going to make cupcakes tomorrow," she continues nonchalantly. "Could you run to the store and get some milk for me?"
Wally lifts his head and nods with a smile, even if it isn't at its usual wattage.
"Oh, and Wally?"
"You should go talk to Artemis," she adds helpfully. "Or maybe Robin."
Artemis is holding up a lot better than M'gann is, which is odd because she's the one that died.
Except she didn't die, because hello, Megan, it was a training exercise, and nobody got hurt except for all the emotional damage that was entirely her fault for messing everything up.
But Artemis doesn't seem to be fazed by any of it, just opens the door when M'gann knocks, and says, "What's up?" like nothing ever happened.
"Hi," M'gann starts, and her voice sounds embarrassingly high, "I just wanted to see how you were, and to say, um."
"To say?" Artemis prompts, tilting her head.
"I'm sorry I let you die," M'gann says quickly, "and I know it wasn't real and I messed that part up, too, and I guess I'm even more sorry about that, but I just wanted you to know that I was really sorry that you were dead, even though you weren't dead, and."
Artemis blinks underneath her tirade, and when M'gann pauses for air she gives up, since she's failing spectacularly with words right now, leans in and kisses her. It's not a soft kiss—it's hard and desperate and it only gets rougher once Artemis starts to kiss her back, and M'gann reaches out for her mind and pushes everything at her: her fear, her guilt, the wrenching sadness in her belly, and her love. Yes, love, even though she hadn't been sure that's what she was trying to tell her, she knows that everything else she's feeling sprang from love; her love for her teammates, her love for her friends, and her love for Artemis, as her singular, imperfect self. Artemis's mouth falls into gasp at that and M'gann pulls away to give her space.
"I'm sorry," she says quietly. "That was inappropriate—I know that's not the right way to do things on Earth, I couldn't figure out how to say—"
"It's alright, I'm alright," Artemis says. She looks like she's about to cry and M'gann feels a hundred times worse. "Just—wow, M'gann, that's kind of a lot—wow."
"I know," she mumbles. "I won't do it again, I promise."
"I didn't say it was bad." Artemis wraps warm fingers around her wrist. "Just a lot to take in." She chews on her bottom lip and studies M'gann's face for a few hard moments. "Do you want to come in?" she says finally. "We can talk."
"I can't—Artemis, I don't have the words."
Artemis's grin is feral, white-hot against the corner of her mouth. "So we don't need words for everything."
Barring missions, death, or dismemberment, Saturday is movie night and they cling to it with a stringent tenacity. M'gann wonders if it's reminiscent of some sort of normalcy for Artemis and Wally and Robin. She knows Kaldur is mostly humoring them, holding in his criticisms for the happiness of his team. And M'gann, well, she's always liked television. Watching the way a culture chooses to present itself has proven nearly as informative as living amongst its inhabitants.
She spends a lot more time than she's comfortable with ruminating on what goes on in Superboy's head on those nights.
Wally does, too, apparently. "Like, for real," he snips, gulping down soda, "what is your fetish for talking animals, Supes? Do you have to pick a cartoon every time it's your turn?"
"I like the songs," Superboy says, stony-faced.
"And there is nothing wrong with that," Robin assures him, elbowing Wally in the ribs hard enough that he sputters and chokes.
"I do not think whales speak that way," Kaldur murmurs into her ear, and M'gann giggles softly. He is a warm weight on her side, pressed against her from knee to shoulder. Artemis's legs are thrown over her lap, and her feet graze Kaldur's thigh every time M'gann shifts. She likes it very much, the circuitous nature of their touch. It grounds her; she is not as frightened of being dismissed as she was once, but it's nice to be reminded through the tactile, in which her team has an eloquence that doesn't lend itself to translation.
"Have you ever spoken to a whale?" she starts to ask, but Wally cuts her off by jumping up and yelling, "Spin the Bottle!"
Superboy looks disgruntled and presses pause.
"No," Robin says emphatically just as Artemis launches a pillow at Wally's head. He ducks and tosses his empty soda bottle in the air, catching it with a flourish.
"C'mon, Boy Buzzkill, it'll be fun!"
Robin flushes, and Artemis says, "Anything that involves the possibility of your lips coming in contact with my face? Not fun." Wally sticks his tongue out at her.
"What's Spin the Bottle?" M'gann asks. Kaldur and Superboy make noises of assent, and Wally draws himself up to his full height, which he only does when he feels like he has something important to say.
Artemis throws an arm around M'gann's shoulders before he can get a word out. "It's an idiotic game where you spin a bottle on the floor and whoever it points at, you have to kiss. It's only fun when you play with a lot of people, and even then only when two morons like them," she jerks her chin at Wally and Robin, "end up having to suck face."
"I," Robin says seriously, "am not an moron."
"Solidarity, bro!" Wally whines; Robin just shrugs.
"It—sounds like it could be fun?" M'gann offers.
"We could take a short break from the movie," says Kaldur evenly. Superboy scowls at him with vigor. "How do we play?"
Wally arranges them all in a circle on the floor, Superboy grumbling all the while about how they never interrupted anybody else's movie for something as dumb as this. They don't pay him any mind, although M'gann lays a comforting hand on his shoulder.
The general consensus is that Robin, being the youngest ("—and the most innocent and corruptible—ow, dude, not cool."), should go first. He takes his spin and Wally takes off around the circle, presumably dodging the incriminating mouth of the bottle.
"Super-speed is super-cheating, dork!" Artemis gripes, her ponytail flying manically around her head. She sticks an arm out and a whole second doesn't pass before Wally's flat on the ground, rubbing the back of his head and glaring. The bottle is pointing to his empty spot in the circle.
"That still counts as my turn," Robin announces. "Your go, Miss M."
M'gann spins the bottle as Wally scoots back into his place, shooting her a goofy grin. She smiles sweetly back at him, then follows the line of the bottle to Kaldur's calm visage.
"Tough break," Robin tells Wally, punching him affectionately in the shoulder, and Artemis lets out an obscenely loud catcall, but Kaldur's hand is smooth and strong over hers and M'gann doesn't think this is such a bad game, not really.
"We just kiss?" she asks, hoping that she's not blushing a deep shade of emerald.
"Sometime this century, please," Wally grouses. Kaldur smiles and leans into her.
It's—nice is really the only word she can think of. It doesn't last long enough for any further evaluation, just the soft, cool pass of Kaldur's lips on hers, as simple and uncomplicated as breathing.
(Breathing is different for them, but they don't talk about it.)
Kaldur is staring at her curiously when she opens her eyes; there should be some sort of protocol for this, some sort of ingrained reaction that M'gann hasn't studied hard enough to fake.
"You have very soft lips," she tries. Someone groans behind her. She turns to see who it was but stops when she sees Superboy, utterly silent and eyes trained on her.
"You as well, M'gann," Kaldur tells her, as level and solid as the sea is not.
"Well, that's done. My turn!" Wally already has his hands on the bottle, winking lecherously.
"…I could always just manipulate it with my telekinesis, you know." He blanches.
"M'gann's right," Robin shrugs. "You just can't expect a fair game of chance when half the players have superpowers."
"Perhaps we should return to Nemo," Kaldur says, and it's only when he starts to lean away that she notices his closeness. The sentence hasn't fully left his mouth before Superboy's in his armchair, hand on the remote.
"You could have controlled the bottle," he whispers to her as they take their seats. She settles in next to him, curling close into the heat of his body.
"How do you know I didn't?"
Weirdly, M'gann never thought she'd be the one this happened to. "Whoa," she breathes, rubbing at her eyes.
"I know, right?" says M'gann. Her voice is lower, older, and whatever laughter hides within it is subtle and muted. "I forgot how long I used to wear my hair." She reaches out to touch a strand of it.
M'gann shivers, because the other M'gann's hands, her hands are cool and smooth when they brush her face. "I like it short, though. When did you—we—"
"Not for a while," Other-M'gann says, smiling faintly. "Not to sidetrack you, but I think we really need to figure out where we are and how to get back before we fall out of the time-stream or something."
M'gann glances around. "Pocket dimension? Before I got here, Zatanna was—Fate's helmet was giving off some kind of feedback."
"And Impulse was messing with his time machine, so maybe some kind of chrono-radiation interfered with the magical residue somehow?"
"Um, am I supposed to know what you're talking about?"
She slaps her forehead. "Hello, Megan! Spoilers. Sorry, pretend you didn't hear that."
"Noted. So, if this is some kind of anomalous temporal zone, how do we get out?"
Other-M'gann bites her lip in thought. "Well, Wally used to always go on about how the first thing he'd do if he found a parallel version of himself—"
"Right!" M'gann exclaims, then blushes. "But wouldn't that break the universe? Or would it only affect this universe?"
The other her shrugs. "Only one way to find out."
She giggles and places her hands on her own shoulders, slightly broader with age but still familiar enough to count. "You know, I'd never even thought about this until I heard Wally and Robin talk about it."
"Well, he's certainly—Wally," says her older self, and kisses her soundly.
It doesn't feel like kissing herself, which M'gann thinks would be vaguely incestuous and masturbatory, but rather like kissing someone who knows exactly how she likes to be kissed, with small, sharp nips to her bottom lip and the barest hint of tongue. Then a loud cracking noise echoes around them, not unlike thunder, and they jump apart with a nervous scream.
"I think we just broke space-time!"
"That is so cool," M'gann squeals, and closes her eyes as the world falls apart around her.
"You know," she begins, sitting primly on Conner's bed while he squirrels away dirty clothes that she generously pretends not to see. "We never really talk about, um."
"About what?" he says, looking at her over his shoulder. M'gann blushes.
"My shapeshifting," she answers quietly, and it's probably only due to a combination of superhearing and their telepathic link that he understood anything out of the jumbled up syllables that just came out of her mouth.
"What about it?" he says, sitting down beside her. His arm goes around her waist automatically and she leans into his shoulder, humming contentedly.
"On Mars, we have—well, you know I could look any way you wanted me to, right? If you wanted me to change my hair, or my eyes, or my freckles, even just for a little while, I could do that." She cranes her neck to meet his eyes. Conner's brow is scrunched up the way it does when he's confused, and his mouth twists like a wound and M'gann wants to be smaller, suddenly, and curls slightly away from his chest.
"Forget it," she mumbles, "it's so not a big deal."
"No, M'gann, it's just," he starts, grabbing her hand, and M'gann has seen this movie before, and this is the part where he says you're perfect the way you are and she shouldn't judge; maybe it doesn't sound utterly inane to girls on Earth, but to her—
"I want you to look however you want to look."
Conner shifts under her stare. "I like you however you like you."
She doesn't actually mean to tackle him to the bed, but these things happen, sometimes. When he pulls back, red-mouthed and slightly breathless, his fingers are tangled in long, blonde hair. He looks at her curiously.
"Just for fun," she assures him, and grins. "I always thought the fishnets looked interesting."