Chapter 1


The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family. ~Thomas Jefferson

A family is a unit composed not only of children but of men, women, an occasional animal, and the common cold. ~Ogden Nash


Three pairs of socked feet footsied on the top edge of the sectional. Clark lowered his briefcase carefully on the kitchen counter, trying to decide between clearing his throat and waiting for them to realize that they were no longer alone. In the end, Lois decided for him

"Good afternoon, Conner!" Lois slid her briefcase on the dining table.

Two pairs of feet-- one black with polka-dots and another pink with an embroidered athletic logo-- slid away with a duet of high-pitched squeals. The remaining grungy pair of blue-striped socks stayed right where they were as a blonde and a brunette righted themselves. "Hi, Ms. Lane, Mr. Kent." The two teenaged girls beamed in twin masks of innocence.

Clark coughed. "Hello, Tana, Roxy. Hello, Conner."

"Hi, Pops!" Conner finally deigned to sit upright. His hair, rebellious at the best of times, was a spiky nest undoubtedly the result of a lot of hair-fondling.

"So this is what a finals review group is like. Are you going over biology or health today?" Lois crossed her arms and smirked.

"Physics," said Conner. "Y'know, gravity and... stuff."

"I see. Gravity being the phenomenon that results in smaller bodies orbiting a much larger one?" Clark asked, his eyebrows arching over his thick-rimmed glasses.

"Much larger," the blonde, Roxy, murmured so softly that only Clark heard. The tips of his ears went hot.

"Riiight. Girls, are you staying for dinner? We're having Vietnamese tonight." Lois lifted two plastic bags of take-out.

Tana, the brunette, jumped to her feet. "It's dinner time already? Omigosh, my parents are going to kill me!"

"Let me help you get your stuff," Conner said, getting up to follow her.

"Thanks, hoku." Tana bussed his cheek.

Roxy stayed right where she was, looking as pleased as the cat that had a canary fly straight into her mouth. Whatever lecherous plans she had, however, were dashed when her cell phone rang. From the pleading and the snarling, it was obvious that her dad wanted her home as well. She left with a pout the size of Rhode Island.

Clark rummaged through the cupboards to keep from overtly spying on their good-byes. There was nothing like teenage hormones to make you feel your age. "Conner, dishes," he said as soon as the door clicked shut.

His son scratched at the painted sleeve tattoos on his arms. Unlike Superman, Superboy wore the hooded jacket and shades customary in the Justice League uniform. Even then, Clark wanted an extra layer of disguise, something subtle, like his glasses which Conner flatly refused. Bart suggested tattoos. In t-shirts and other short sleeved tops, Conner's inked up arms garnered the most attention, not his face. Superboy wore long sleeves and couldn't get tattoos anyway. Twice a month, Grace painted touch-ups at the Watchtower and no one in Metropolis commented on the appearance of one vaguely British Conner Kent coinciding with one Kon-el, unverified but obvious son of Superman.

Lois shed her office look for an untucked, loose-haired version while Conner zipped to the cabinetry and set to doing his chores. Plates, glasses and eating utensils clattered on the placemats in under five seconds. He slowed down with the drinks, setting a quart of milk each on two of the settings. "Smoothie, Aunt Lo?"

"Yes please," said Lois. "I really wish you'd stick to one girlfriend. It's unfair to play them off against each other."

"They're not my girlfriends," Conner said as he poured yogurt, juice and frozen fruits into a small blender. "We're just testing waters. They go out with other guys too. We're not, like, exclusive. Going exclusive is too serious for high school."

"This is where I stop myself from starting a sentence with 'when I was your age,'" said Clark.

"You were born forty," teased Lois.

Clark stuck his tongue out at her.


Grimacing, Conner poured the smoothie into a beer stein. "Uh, guys, no foreplay until after I go to bed, put in my earplugs and smack myself with kryptonite so I can go into a nice, restful coma."

"By the look of things, if we hadn't come home when we did, you'd've outstripped us in that department."

"That mental image makes me want a nice restful coma," said Clark. "I mean it, Conn, cool it down with those girls. Don't make us suffer through another sex talk. To this day, I can't eat bananas plain."

Conner went green. "Dude. I still can't stand grape juice. Why'd you have to get the flavoured condoms to use as props, Aunt Lo? That was so much not-want to slam into a poor, innocent freshman."

Shrugging, Lois said, "Hey, I just took whatever samples they had in the youth clinic. How was I supposed to know they advocated fellatio? Not to mention cavities."


"Aunt Lo!"

As Conner made retching sounds, Clark opened his quart of milk and took a healthy swig to clean out his mouth.

Lois laughed. "Too easy. Are you telling me that despite going through the entire female population of Ellsworth High in the past year and a half, this kind of conversation makes you uncomfortable?"

"There's a difference between talking to you about it and talking to my peers and please can we just eat dinner? I'm losing my appetite." Conner jabbed morosely at his pho.

"Alert the presses," said Clark.

"By the way, Dad, what happened to the bucket of cantaloupe sorbet that Aunt Lo was saving up for movie night?"

"That was you?" Lois squawked.

"Traitor." Clark glared at his smugly grinning spawn. "He had some, too."

Conner held his hands up to protest his innocence. "Two scoops, I had two tiny scoops! I had to hold up a boulder to help divert a mudslide. That requires energy."

Lois turned to her partner. "And what's your excuse, Smallville?"

"I actually diverted the mudslide."

"And Perry wonders why I need the pay-grade for my new editor position."

Conner paused in the middle of scooping broth. "You got the job?" Seeing their matched smiles, he leapt out of his chair and whooped. "You got the job! Way to go, Aunt Lo! It's about time you accepted Perry's offer!"

Lois gladly accepted his hug and another from Clark, her tenth one today.

"As if she didn't abuse me enough at home, now her job description is to abuse me at work." Clark sighed forlornly.

Conner paid no attention to his melodramatics. "What are we doing eating take-out? We should go to Grandma's for celebratory pie!"

"Most people go out to dinner to celebrate," said Lois.

"Most people don't have Grandma making pie."


"Speaking of celebrations, what's this I hear about Superboy making an appearance at the grand re-opening of the Urban Styling store in exchange for wearing their custom shades?" asked Lois.

Clark instantly frowned. "Conner, we've talked about endorsements."

"It's not an endorsement, it's just---" Conner gesticulated, searching for proper terminology-- "a community outreach."

"I'd love to hear the explanation for this one."

Conner chewed his noodles thoughtfully before speaking. "Well, the creator of Urban Styling is from the Slums who did good and so by being there for the re-opening of the flagship store, I'm encouraging the pursuit for the American Dream and adding to business in Metropolis."

His father shook his head. "You're too smart. Chloe should have limited your exposure to sophism."

"Also the shades are totally awesome."

"And there goes your argument." Clark wagged his finger. "No attending the re-opening as Superboy and definitely no wearing their summer line-up."


"No, Conn. We don't use our image for monetary gain."

"It's not even my monetary gain; it's Urban Styling's!" Conner argued. "You make appearances at hospitals."

"A hospital is different."


"Because a hospital is for the community. Lois, help me out," Clark said, his frown deepening.

Lois put her hands up. "Hooo, no. You two aren't going to pull me into this argument again. I still have scars from the last time."

"The precedent is too problematic," Clark said. "Next thing you know, work will become affiliated with one industry or another. Then, if that industry is tied to a particular country's economy, we'll be financially obliged to prioritise that country's care."

Conner threw his hands up in frustration. "It's one appearance at one store that only teenagers shop at! It's not like we can start wars."

"You've never tried to buy new model sneakers the week before Christmas," Lois muttered.

"If you want, I can just be in and out."

"With a new pair of shades," said Clark.

"With a-- no! I can skip the shades. I'll just get socks. You can't see socks with the uniform."

"No, Conner."

"But, Dad--"



"Conner!" Both Lois and Clark admonished.

Conner turtlenecked. "Whoops, sorry. I'm sorry. I just... Fine, I won't go, okay?"

"Thank you for being mature about it," said Clark. In a deliberately light tone, he changed the subject. "I received a call from Dr. Swann today,"

After the fight against Luthor at the White House, Clark's first instinct had been to destroy all the information about Conner's beginnings. Lois had pointed out the importance of the files; if Conner fell ill or suffered unknown growing pains, the research could help. So, with reluctance, Clark handed copies of the information to Patricia Swann's S.T.A.R. Labs.

"So, what's our genderbent Mulder up to?" asked Lois.

Clark mumbled to his soup.

Lois and Conner leaned closer. "Say again?"

"They, uh... think they can fertilise a human egg with a kryptonian spermatozoon. So we can have children."

Conner clutched at his throat, his soup having gone down the wrong tube. Clark sprang behind him shouting, "Cough! Cough!" while Lois remained frozen. Vermicelli noodles slithered off her chopsticks and on the table.

"I'm fine," wheezed Conner. He coughed again for good measure; his colour returned to normal. "Crap. Just... never talk about your sperm or eggs again. Ever. Please. I can take on tornadoes and the Intergang but not that."

Clark now shifted his attention to Lois. "Sweetheart?"

She finally blinked.

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I was just... y'know, the whole thing with... and then there's the stuff with, um... whoa, soy sauce--" She wiggled her fingers towards her belly.

With the same expression he used on hysterical rescues, Clark said, "Lois, Swann just told me and I thought you should both know about it. It's a wonderful breakthrough but if you don't want--"

"Hey, no, I'm totally for transparency. It just took me by surprise."

"You've been feeding the table," Conner pointed out.

Lois stopped. Indeed, a slippery pile of noodles sat at near her right elbow. "Okay, okay, Sherlockes, so it was a huge shock. After years of not wanting kids and not thinking we could have kids, can you really blame me? Not that we don't want you, Junior--" she patted Conner's hand-- "but you're you and babies are little and poopy and their heads flop around like bobbleheads."

"Excess conjunctions," said Clark and Conner.

Lois threw her chopsticks at them. Conner stuffed his up one nostril.

"You're right, same arguments apply. I just wanted you both to know," Clark said. "Having a baby would be wonderful but I'm happy with the child we already have despite the fact that he has half a chopstick up his nose. Um, probably because the one we do have has a chopstick up his nose."

"But if it was in my ear, you'd have another?" Conner asked.

Clark picked up his own utensils then, for the sake of aesthetics, yanked out the one in Conner's nose. "Are you sure you're actually fifteen?"

"Only until December. No, but for serious. What argument? Why don't you two guys have kids? You've been together for, like, decades."

"Just one decade together," Lois muttered.

"But we've known each other for two," said Clark.

"Ugh, don't remind me! I'm seriously considering lightening my hair again with the rate that it's going grey. All your fault, by the way, Junior. I never had greys until you started dating half the teenage population in Metropolis. With Kansas barely toeing the sexual revolution even in the twenty-first century, I expect gay-bashings and shotgun weddings every other day."

"I'm not gay, I'm exploring my options," said Conner. "Besides, that's a conversational tangent. Avoidance of the subject at hand, id est, why don't you guys have kids?"

"I guess it's too difficult," Clark said slowly. His eyes flickered to Lois. "We both work too hard-- with me up half the night finishing manuscripts on top of articles while Lois..."

"Is dedicated?" she chirped up.

"…is recklessly obsessed with owning the journalistic world. Then there's the second job." Clark poked his soup.

"We never really thought it would be possible to conceive considering your dad's background," said Lois.

"And even if it was, it's too dangerous for Lois to carry a child to term."

"Lana did," Conner said.

"What can't Lana do?" Lois muttered but she squeezed Clark's hand to show that she didn't really mean it.

"I dunno." Conner speared the last egg roll, stuffed it in one cheek and chewed. "I can just totally imagine it, y'know? Aunt Lo, coming home with the bacon. Dad in a lacy, purple apron, making bread. Six flying babies."

"An obedient son taking care of them all before he graduates high school and enters a monastery," Clark ended.

"You two are very mean to me."

"The verbal abuse is indirectly proportional to how much we love you, kiddo." Clark ruffled his son's hair.

Fridays were glorious. Fridays found Conner suited up in red and blue under his dad's old biker jacket as he ran to San Diego (managing an occasional rescue) then revved his surfrider all the way to the Watchtower. There he would stay all weekend with the rest of the freaks and geeks, fighting for truth, justice, and the freedom to wear ass-hugging clothing.

Superman often offered to fly him to the Watchtower, the metahuman equivalent of your dad dropping you off in front of the school in a minivan. Bad enough everyone called him Kon-el, thanks to his dad's paranoia. Only his dad's friends from high school, the first ones to came up with the whole idea for the Justice League, knew their real names. The rest believed Clark's real name was Kal-el and, thus, Conner's was Kon-el.

Besides, just because he couldn't fly yet, didn't mean he couldn't enjoy going to work. He liked driving the surfrider. Something about the salt-water waves in his face, even in mid-ocean swells, appealed to him. Watchtower's mods on his 'rider helped, too, allowing long-distance travel, a GPS to avoid the really bad storms and short-distance submarine function.

In the distance, a speedboat of bikini-clad co-eds called for his attention. "Is that Superboy?"

"Ohmigod, Superboy!"

"Quick, where's my lipstick?"

"I love you, Superboy!"

Conner waved and swung the surfrider around, cresting a decent sized wave against the speedboat before pulling in next to them. The girls shrieked with delight. "Hello, ladies. I trust you're all licensed to drive a marine vehicle?"

The driver coquettishly leaned over. "And what if we don't?"

Pulling on a stern face, he said, "Then I'm afraid I'm going to have to insist on a thorough search of the premises."

They giggled. By the time he left, Conner had five emails beamed into his cellphone. Being a superhero rocked.

Watchtower, the Justice League's island base, wasn't so much a building on an island as it was an island reconstructed into a building. Using money donated by governments and private companies such as Wayne Enterprises and Queen Industries, the builders hollowed out certain rock formations and constructed around others, utilising as much of the island as possible. The design also provided some camouflage and security. Only three entrances existed-- the grand entrance at the south leading to the great hall, an aerial hangar for the fliers or the three Javelin jets, and a northern underwater port for the swimmers and underwater vehicles.

Conner manoeuvred around to the port, thumbing on the submarine option. An acrylic dome slid over his head as the handlebars lowered until he practically lay on his belly.

"Superboy here, Watchtower. You all ready for the party to start?"

Beastboy answered. "This is the Watchtower. Please sign in as per protocol or we will shoot."

Conner made a face. "Ha, ha, very funny. Open up the port."

"That is a negative on the proper protocol. Initiating hostile manoeuvres in T-minus three minutes."

"Give me a frickin'-- Fine! Watchtower, this is Superboy. Requesting permission for in to Whisky-Echo-Two, over." Conner felt very, very stupid.

"Acknowledged, Superboy. Vocal patterns check, visuals check; you are go for the in, over."

"Roger that, Watchtower. Thanks so much for being a hard-ass. Is someone looking over your shoulder or something?"

"No!" Beastboy's denial was so vehement he had to be lying. "But, y'know, they're going to announce the field leader for Young Justice today. There's no harm in polishing up on protocol."

"Suck up."

"Slut. Watchtower out."

Conner surfaced inside the island, parked his surfrider beside two others and lashed it to the deck. His boots clanged on the grate-like steel flooring and up the stairs to the dock exit. He liked to run up stairs instead of using the elevators; there was absolutely nothing to do in an elevator and it wasn't like he got tired even after five flights of stairs.

He opened the door from the stairwell to the huge great hall, the largest room on the island. Carved out of a dome-shaped granite monolith three hundred feet high, the great hall was the showiest part of Watchtower. Aside from the geometric edging around the perimeter, the floor was the base of the monolith smoothed and polished. Whoever built the place also carved floor to ceiling windows glazed in thick, bullet-resistant polymers. Trophies, gifts presented to Justice League members and memorials to retired or fallen heroes hung from the walls and in artfully clustered acrylic cases. Conner passed a life-sized statue from Themyscira-- the goddess Hestia in marble humbly kneeling in front of a hearth with flames carved out of amber. Here and there, small groups sat in couches arranged around coffee tables. A few napped. He wove through them, waving to the few he knew well, avoiding Arsenal who still hated his guts after he accidentally called him the J-word. Junkie. He hadn't meant it in a bad way but he often had trouble stopping his mouth from running off. Yet another reason he probably wouldn't be field leader. Not that he wanted to.

Misty tendrils curled down from the ceiling, rapidly gathering into a more solid female form. Conner saluted. "Hi, Secret."

"Hi, Kon-el. You're unusually late."

"Beastboy was a pain at the monitors and made me do the whole professional calling in thing." He rolled his eyes.

Secret fell in step-- or in float-- with him, hands clasped behind her back. "Who do you think the new team leader will be?"

"Robbie, of course."

"Robin? But he just registered last year."

"And totally kicks ass. I love Wondergirl, you know that, but she's not leader material."

Secret frothed. "What does that mean?"

Conner held his hands up, a sign of peace. "We're exactly alike, me and Wondy. We're action people, not planning people."

"That doesn't mean she wouldn't be good at it!"

"'Course not, she totally kicks ass, too. But Robin's idea of fun is being Robin and his idea of work is being Robin. He's, like, a heroing geek."

"I prefer the term 'covert extra-legal police enforcement enthusiast.'" As always, Robin appeared silently. Conner couldn't wait for his super-hearing to kick in.

"Hey, Robin. Is that a new utility belt?" Secret's misty tendrils curled around Robin's shins.

"Uh, no. I just had to disassemble, clean, restock and repack it last night. Proper care of a utility belt maximises efficiency and decreases mistakes on the field."

Secret giggled. "What's in this pocket?" She poked at his hip.


"What about this one?"

"Smoke bombs."

"This one?"


"This one?"

Robin flushed. "Uh… that's, uh, not a pocket. Superboy, can I have a private word with you in one of the meeting rooms? See you in a few minutes, Secret."

Conner snickered as he followed his teammate to the east wing. "Dude, you totally missed your chance."

"Fraternizing during duty isn't professional."

"You're so frickin' red, your face matches your shirt."

Robin continued to stalk down the hall.

"Are we actually going somewhere to talk or are you just hiding from Secret?"

"I'm not hiding, I'm being diplomatic."

"She's cute," said Conner. "I mean, there's the whole ghost thing which may or may not be necrophilia not to mention hella inconvenient for making out but it's not like you flirt with anyone else around here. She digs you hard like a backhoe."

"Contrary to popular belief, the Watchtower isn't a dating pool for superheroes."

"It's not? Kidding, Robbie. Hey, knock-knock."

Robin sighed. "No, Superboy. I will not enable your poor sense of humour."

"It's a good joke, I swear."

"It's a knock-knock joke."

"It's a good knock-knock joke."

"That's an oxymoron."

Conner clutched his chest. "Hey, no need for name-calling, Baby-Bat. Come on: knock-knock."

"Fine." They turned a corner, nodding to Black Canary. "Who's there?"


"Daisy who?"

"Daisy sleep; nights, he fights crime." Conner chuckled and slapped his leg. "Okay, how about this one: knock-knock."

"Kon, please stop. Your jokes suck."

"Just one more before we have to be all serious and Young Justice-y. Knock-knock."

"Who's there?"


"Pyjama who?"

"Pyjamas around me and hold me tight."

Robin stopped and slapped his face with his hand. "There is no superlative in the English language to describe how much that one sucked."

"It's so bad it's good."

"No, it's just bad."

"If you really hated it, you'd use those badass Bat-ninja moves to knock me out."

"I've thought about it but I have to do more research into kryptonian pressure points."

Conner was pretty sure he was joking. Robin didn't talk to many people. Okay, he talked to Arrowette and ordered everyone else around. Conner had to yank normal conversation out of him; that couldn't be normal.

One of the green doors opened. Wondergirl stuck her head out. "There you two are. We're about to start."

Conner smiled and winked at her. She returned the smile, kind of sheepishly.

Robin slipped in between them, breaking the eye-contact. "Sorry, Kon was telling knock-knock jokes," he said.

The entire group winced except Ted Kord. "I like his jokes."

"You would," said Green Arrow.

Arrowette cleared her throat. Tall, athletic, and fair-haired like her father, Green Arrow, but with a more serious demeanour, she led the team with an even hand. She had few rules but little patience for anyone who broke them. Conner broke formation once resulting in injury to a civilian and she had him drilling in The Kitchen for twenty-four hours straight. The pizza and Zesti she had for him just barely made up for it. He spent half a day napping in the sun to recharge.

Robin sat at Arrowette's right, as always. Those two had always been tight; everyone thought they dated off-duty. Conner flopped on the chair next to Robin. Secret pouted when she saw Wondergirl already at Arrowette's left and Ray, beside Wondergirl. By force, she had to take the seat beside him, two whole seats away from Robin. Beastboy ran in from monitor duty to sit at the foot of the table between Conner and Secret. Today's meeting also included Ted Kord, resident JL engineering genius, and Green Arrow.

Arrowette folded her hands on the table. The entire room quieted. "Thank you," she said then nodded to Green Arrow. "We can start now."

"Let's begin with what's on top of everyone's minds," said Green Arrow. "As you all know, Arrie's retiring at the end of the month to pursue civilian life so you're going to need a new leader. We've watched you all for a month now, on the field and off--"

"Off?" Robin repeated.

"Meaning training and in non-combative uniform," Green Arrow said. "Bat-family secrecy remains intact. Anyway, after a month of observation and Arrie's recommendations, I'm happy to announce that the new Young Justice leader is Robin."

Conner was first to jump up. "Woo-hoo! Way to go, Robbie!" Applause soon followed as Beastboy reached to shake Robin's hand. Secret twirled around him in puffy clouds.

Arrowette clapped her hands. "Green Arrow told me the decision between the two top contenders, Robin and Wondergirl, was very difficult. Congratulations, Robin."

Robin stood. "Thank you for the honour, but I really don't think I can accept."

"Why not?"

"My first priority will always be to Gotham City. And besides, I'm the newest one here. Shouldn't seniority count?"

"I'll be more than happy to explain my decision to you and Wondergirl as soon as possible. First, you have a mission. I'll let Arrie and Ted debrief. Congratulations again, Robin. I hope you accept the position." Green Arrow patted his shoulder as he left the room.

Arrowette prepped the video screen as everyone settled down. "Three sinkholes appeared at 0915 in Krysybestan in Central Asia. They were seven feet in diameter and, from satellite estimates, one mile deep. Now, four hours later, the sink holes are ten feet wide and three miles deep. The area around the holes have been scorched; residents say it smells like brimstone. Flashes of light have also been reported coming from one of the holes. The local military has the entire area, approximately five acres of land, quartered off and have asked for our assistance in case the source of these sinkholes proves to be meta in origin. Ted will come with us to research any machines we may need with the situation. Superboy--"

Conner snapped out of his slump. "Yep?"

"You speak Russian, right?"

"Da, and as an added bonus, I can order any kind of vodka you need."

Robin pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed.

"Unnecessary but thank you." A smile played on her lips. "The jet leaves in thirty minutes. I'll see you all in The Kitchen for warm-up until then."

Secret's dialogue is a tribute to RandomGuy and RandomGal's wonderful work

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