Notes: I also need to thank Dannell ({{{HUGS!}}}) for beta'ing this for me. :)


Four Days 2/4
by JBMcDragon

"Morning, boys," Jenny chirped.

Brendan pulled the loose weave blanket up over his face and closed his eyes tighter, unwilling to get up just yet. Jenny was always awake early. She was one of those disgusting people who liked the mornings.

"Are you both just gonna sleep the day away?" she asked in her best big-sister voice.

Brendan muttered, "Yes," and heard a similar noise from the couch.

Jenny sighed. "Fine. Alicia, Danny, Kelly and I are all going to the fair. We'll meet you two sleepyheads there, okay?"

"Fine," Brendan muttered, hearing a comparable noise from Conel.

Jenny left, and the house dropped into blessed silence.

Brendan dozed, brain fluttering through the knowledge he'd gained that morning. Jenny's parents had already left for the day. Jenny had left. He'd have to lock up. It was probably about nine. He was supposed to take Conel--assuming Conel wanted to go--and head to the fair.

Each thought took long in coming, managing only to barely filter through as Brendan dipped in and out of sleep.

Conel looked an awful lot like someone. Jenny had seen it, too, though none of the others had.

Brendan, between dreams, wondered why that was.

There was a groan from the couch. Brendan stayed resolutely asleep. Or at least, half asleep.

"Bren?" Conel mumbled. "We should get up."

Brendan snorted and buried his head farther under the blanket.

"It's ten thirty. Jenny left an hour ago."

Conel was starting to sound awake, damn him.

Brendan felt a hand on his shoulder, grasping at the blanket and pulling. Brendan grabbed it, stuffed it under his arm and used his weight to keep it in place. Conel pulled harder. Brendan sighed as the blanket slipped. Conel was far more muscular than he was; no way was he winning this tug-of-war.

"You suck," Brendan muttered, opening one eye blearily.

The blurry figure above him shrugged.

Brendan reached blindly for his glasses, pawing at the table. He felt them just as they slipped off the side and fell soundlessly to the carpet.

"Shit," Brendan muttered, and hung over the side of the chair as close as he could get to the ground. He should be able to see them...

A hand inserted itself into Brendan's view, picked up something pale, and retreated.

"You really do have bad eyesight, don't you?" Conel asked.

Brendan felt warm hands pull his shirt, tugging him upward. He followed, then felt Conel grab his hand and slap his glasses into it. "Yeah," he muttered unhappily. He slid his glasses on, blinking as the world pulled into focus. Conel looked rather bemused.

"Can't you get laser surgery or something for that?"

Brendan shrugged. "It's too expensive," he said, kicking off the blanket and sitting all the way up.

Conel responded with a simple yet eloquent, "Oh." He ran his hands through his black hair, mussing it further. The curls tangled gleefully into a giant mess that still, somehow, looked good.

"You wanna go to the fair?" Brendan asked, rolling past Conel and to the floor. He gathered up the blanket and started folding it, watching as Conel did the same with his.

"Sure," Conel said, smiling suddenly.

Brendan grinned back, finished folding, then grabbed his things and headed toward the bathroom to change, closing the door behind him. "Mind if we stop by my house first? I'll need money," Brendan shouted, stripping before pulling on beige khakis and a green shirt. He glanced in the mirror, finger-combed his own curls, and opened the door so that Conel knew he could come in if he wanted. Brendan dug through his backpack for a moment, finally pulling out a toothbrush and toothpaste.

"Sure," Conel said back, and walked into the bathroom already dressed in jeans and a black T-shirt.

Brendan nodded, mouth full of toothpaste, and leaned against the wall, watching Conel brush and gel his hair until the sides were flat.

The day before Conel had been wearing bulky clothes, but now muscles could be seen under that T-shirt, and cording down his arms. He was definitely fit. Brendan spit his toothpaste out and reminded himself that he already *had* a boyfriend.

"'Bout ready?" Brendan asked as he dried off his mouth, then walked from the bathroom.

"Yeah," Conel answered, and followed. He tossed his things into his duffel bag, then pushed it into a corner of the room.

"I don't have a car--we'll have to walk," Brendan said, putting on his watch before grabbing his backpack and heading out the door. Conel followed on his heels, waiting on the porch while Brendan locked the door. Brendan hopped down the two little steps, then picked up his bike and started walking it down the driveway, watching as Conel fell into step on the other side. He had to hurry to match Conel's stride, and the other teen seemed to notice it because it shortened considerably and Conel smiled at him slightly.

"How far do you live?" Conel asked after a moment of silence.

Brendan glanced at him, and noticed that he didn't seem as shy as he had the day before. "About a forty-five minute walk," he said, smiling. "I'll grab another bike from my neighbor, and we'll ride to the fair--if you're willing to ride."

Conel hesitated, then nodded. "I--I'm not very good at biking, though," he said haltingly.

"Oh." Brendan frowned. "How about roller blading?"

Conel smiled and nodded, obviously relieved.

"Okay, you can borrow mine. Your feet look about my size."

Conel glanced down, curious, from his own feet to Brendan's, eyeing both. Brendan wondered what he thought, because the teen didn't say anything in response.

That lock of hair fell back into Conel's face, and the teen ignored it. An irritating nagging started in the back of Brendan's mind, the idea that he should *know* this face from somewhere... but he couldn't place it. "You're sure you've never been around here before?" he asked at last.

Conel looked surprised out of his thoughts, then shook his head. "Never been here before. Why?"

Brendan shrugged. "You just look really familiar, is all."

Conel smiled uncomfortably and shrugged. "Don't know why," he murmured quietly.

Brendan nodded.

The rest of the trip passed in relative silence. Conel was easy to be around, though preoccupied with his thoughts. Brendan sighed and glanced at Conel as they walked from Jenny's home to his, which wasn't in nearly so nice a neighborhood despite being only a few miles away.

Jenny's house was so pretty, with its white-picket-fence neighborhood. Far nicer than his, with the mobile homes stacked on blocks and utter lack of plants. Brendan sighed again--Conel hadn't seemed to notice the change in scenery--and stopped at last in front of his house, dropping his bike at the front mat before walking in.

He was never as aware of what a crummy neighborhood he lived in as when he brought someone new over.

"Anthony!" he shouted through the tiny house, more out of courtesy than wanting to know where the man was.

"Brendan, izzat you?" a low, hang-over roughened voice called.

Brendan poked his head around the wall that separated the kitchen from the family/living room. "Yeah. Hi, Anthony. I'm just gonna get my roller blades for a friend, and then we're going to meet Jenny at the fair."

The man's gaze sharpened, and Brendan realized Conel had come in and was standing to one side, where he could see.

"Who are you?" Anthony growled.

Conel smiled, a dazzling grin. "Conel."

"What, you have no last name?" Anthony responded sarcastically, then continued without waiting, "I'm Anthony. Don't even think of getting Brendan into trouble. Clear?"

Brendan rolled his eyes and turned away, embarrassed for himself and for Conel, though Conel was smiling as if it were perfectly normal.

"Sure thing, Anthony," he said happily.

Brendan squeezed past Conel and the wall, heading back to his closet of a bedroom. "Conel's Jenny's friend, Tony," he shouted. "You know her friends are all nice." Dimly, he could hear grumbling and Conel answering in that clear voice of his. Brendan hurried up and dug out his roller blades before Anthony could do anything that would offend Conel, then--glancing to be sure no one was looking--pulled ten dollars out from inside a picture frame and stuffed it in his pocket.

"We gotta go," Brendan said, interrupting whatever threat Anthony was about to deliver. "Here, Conel. You can borrow these," he said, shoving the roller blades at Conel and hurrying out of the house.

"Who's paying for you to get into the fair?" Anthony roared behind them.

"Jenny!" Brendan shouted back, picking up his bike as Conel sat down and took off his shoes, strapping on the 'blades.

Conel stood up, tying his shoelaces together and slinging them over one shoulder before hitting the street with a thud of rubber wheels. "Ready?"

Brendan nodded and jumped on his bike, pedaling quickly before Anthony could fire any more questions at him.

He had to admit that Conel was fast on those 'blades. Within minutes they were out of the neighborhood, racing down more populated streets. Brendan breathed a sigh of relief and slowed his pace.

"Your dad's... um," Conel said, obviously searching for the right words.

Brendan's jaw tightened. He didn't want to hear platitudes. "My *half-brother,*" he corrected, "is someone very few people like, so don't worry about it."

Conel glanced at him, searching. "But he loves you, and that's a good thing," the teen said at last.

Brendan looked at him, then nodded slowly. "Yeah," he said. "I guess."

Conel was quiet. Then, "Why do you live with your brother?"

Brendan sat back, holding the handlebars with one hand. "My mom's in California, and my dad... well, he was a drunk and stuff So when he got arrested I had to move in with Anthony--I haven't seen my mom since I was five, and I don't even know how to get in touch with her. Who needs her, right? When my dad got out on parole... well, we're not even sure where he is. I just kept living with Tony."

"Oh," Conel said softly. "Do you like living with Tony?"

Brendan shrugged. "It's a roof over my head, I guess."

They got to the fair in record time, and Brendan paid their way in. He sighed, putting his change--a whopping two dollars--back into his pocket.

"I thought Jenny was paying for our tickets?" Conel asked curiously.

"Nah. It's just that if Tony finds out I have money he takes it." Brendan made a face, as if he'd eaten something particularly sour.

Conel looked appalled, and scowled, then seemed to purposefully move on to something else. "Where's Jenny?"

Brendan glanced at his watch, then looked up. "They'll be at the clock tower--there--in twenty minutes."

Conel grinned and started off through the crowd, elbowing people out of the way. It was all Brendan could do to keep up.

"When will they be here?"

Brendan bent double, trying to catch his breath as air wheezed in and out of his lungs. "Not," he panted, "for fifteen more minutes."

"Huh," Conel said, not even winded.

Brendan looked at him with disgust born of jealousy, and collapsed back onto a bench.

Conel paced, looking at nearby vendors and jumping up on an empty bench. After a moment he came and flopped down next to Brendan, looking at him out of bored blue eyes. "How soon will they be here?"

Brendan gave a short bark of laughter. He glanced at his watch, then up at the expectant Conel. "Congratulations. You've wasted a whole five minutes. They'll be here in ten."

Conel sighed and slouched down, sprawled across half the seat.

"How long are you going to stay in this area?" Brendan asked after a moment.

"I dunno. I guess I could go... well, I mean, I could stay with my friends. Bart and Rob and the girls. I'm just not sure I want to."

Brendan cocked his head, watching Conel pick at splinters on the bench. "Why not?"

Conel bounced his shoulders in what passed for a shrug. "They act different around me. I stayed for a bit... got hounded by Bart, who kept trying to fix me."

Brendan frowned.

"I'm a liability," Conel muttered, bitterness heavy in his voice. "Even if they don't say that."

"They wouldn't think that," Brendan said softly. "I mean, they're you're friends. And, hey, how dangerous a liability could you be? 'S not like you're saving the world."

A strange look crossed Conel's features, something Brendan couldn't quite identify, and then he smiled in a pained sort of way. "Right." He sighed and stood, pacing again. "I don't really want to keep buggin' Jenny and her parents though, either. I dunno what I'm gonna do."

"You could stay with me and my brother," Brendan offered, smiling. "We'll have a giant sleep-over until you figure out where to go from here."

Conel hesitated, then smiled sheepishly. "Really?"

"Yeah. We have couches at least as comfy as Jenny's. And when we're tired of my place, we can do what I always do and go crash at other peoples places!"

Conel laughed, a bright, cheerful sound. "Okay!"

Brendan settled back against the bench, watching the crowds of people as they passed by. After a time Conel got up again and started socializing, talking to a nearby group of teens. Brendan knew them--they went to his school--and watched with mild curiosity. They seemed to like Conel, who smiled brightly and oozed charm when the girls started flirting with him.

Brendan chuckled silently, looking on as Conel seemed to brighten and loosen up.

"Hey, Brendan," Jenny said, smiling as she walked up. "Where's Conel?"

Brendan nodded toward the black haired teenager, who was showing off for the girls.

Jenny rolled her brown eyes. "He's not exactly shy and retiring, is he?"

Brendan laughed and shook his head, glancing up to see the rest of the group there. "He's going to stay at my place, okay?"

Jenny's eyebrows rose, and she looked up at Conel again--this time far more consideringly. "What about Chris?"

Brendan shook his head. "I'm still dating Chris. Conel's just a friend--he likes girls too much."

Jenny laughed. "Well, Chris will be happy."

Brendan smiled, but didn't continue on that subject. Alicia was shifting from foot to foot uncomfortably--he knew that the fact that he was gay unnerved her.

"Conel! Let's go!" Danny shouted, wrapping an arm around Jenny's waist. She smiled up at him happily, as only newly-in-love teenagers would.

Conel twisted around and grinned brightly, then said his goodbyes and hurried toward them. "Those girls are nice," he noted, craning his head to watch them as they walked away.

"Yeah," Danny agreed, then yelped when Jenny put her elbow in his side. "I mean," he clarified swiftly, "they're nice, but not as nice as you."

Jenny laughed and snuggled under Danny's arm.

Brendan wondered if anyone else was as sickened as he was by their oh-so-cute-puppy-love, but Alicia and Kelly hadn't even seemed to notice. When Brendan glanced at Conel, though, Conel was looking rather bemused. Brendan grinned at him, then hurried through the crowd to the exhibitions.

Brendan itched at his nose, then cringed when the flare of sunburn seared across his skin. "Ouch," he muttered.

"Hey! Look! Superboy!" Alicia called, pointing to a billboard as they walked out of the fair.

To one side, Conel jumped and swiveled around.

"God, he's cute," Jenny sighed.

Danny protested, "Hey!" but grinned as he did so.

"I saw Superboy on television once," Jenny said, looking around at Conel. "He was--" she stopped, blinking.

Brendan, standing so that the billboard and Conel were both right before him, watched as Conel's face drained of all color. He looked panicked.

"Superboy!" Jenny squealed.

Brendan's eyes widened even as Conel's did. Conel took a step back, and then his blue eyes flashed up at Brendan.

Brendan looked from the billboard to Conel and back again. It was obviously the same person. And Jenny was about to screech it all over.

"You remind me of Superboy!" Jenny was laughing in triumph.

"Only shorter," Brendan interjected quickly, seeing Conel shift from foot to foot as if he were about to bolt. "And... and look at the poster. The Kid obviously has bluer eyes. And curlier hair."

Jenny's face fell slightly. "Oh. Yeah. Well, you look a lot like him, Conel," she said, and started walking again.

Brendan fell into step beside Conel, slowing his pace so that the others were a little farther away. "Conel?" he asked softly, letting the noise of the crowd hide his words. "Are you...?"

Conel glanced at him--and though those blue eyes held great insecurity, Brendan remembered seeing Conel talking to the girls all bold and cocky like Superboy was rumored to be. "Can we talk about this later?" Conel asked softly, pleading with his expression.

Brendan hesitated, then nodded and hurried forward.

"Hey, Anthony," Brendan called as he ushered Conel into the tiny house. "Conel's spending the night."

Anthony grunted and said nothing else.

"C'mon," Brendan said, nodding toward the back where his bedroom was. Once there he closed the door, listening as Conel dropped his bag on the floor and plopped onto the bed.

Brendan turned and eyed the handsome teenager. "So? Are you... him?"

Conel wouldn't meet his gaze. "Yeah," he muttered finally.

"Why didn't you say something? I mean, Superboy's--your--big thing has always been that you don't have a secret identity."

Conel sighed and shrugged. "It's complicated."

Brendan stayed silent, leaning against the door and watching Conel as he picked at the edge of the blanket.

"There was this fight," Conel said at last, "and--you can't tell *anyone* this--but some stuff happened, and I lost my powers."

He looked utterly forlorn. Brendan moved away from the door, sitting down on his red beanbag after tossing clothing off it. "Aren't you part of Young Justice? Can't they help?" Then Brendan's eyes widened. "Wait--are *they* the friends you went to see? And the one kept trying to 'fix' you?" Then something else occurred to him, and Brendan sat forward. "This thing you lost--like a stroke--that made you slower, losing your powers is it, isn't it?"

Conel nodded miserably. "Cadmus--the people I stay with, and work for and who made me--is working on it. But in the meantime, they think I should see how normal people live." His blue eyes were intent on his shoelaces. "I hate it," he muttered. Black hair fell in his face as he looked up at Brendan, searchingly. "How do you deal with it? I mean, getting hurt all the time, not being able to lift anything..."

Brendan blinked, then smiled wryly. "Well, most people don't feel weak or vulnerable."

Conel scowled. "I am. And what if someone dangerous finds out about this?"

"Conel," Brendan said quietly, frowning himself, "how long will it be before you get your powers back?"

Conel was quiet for so long that Brendan started to think he wasn't going to answer. Then, "Maybe never."

Brendan cringed in response to the naked pain in Conel's voice. "So," he asked softly, "are you going to keep living as a normal person?"

Conel frowned. "I suppose," he answered. "But I don't really know how."

"Well," Brendan said with a smile, "you don't need super-strength or anything like that. Normal people get along all their lives without it--normal problems don't need it."

Conel didn't answer.

The phone rang, and a moment later Anthony shouted, "Brendan!"

Brendan sighed and stood up, walking into the kitchen.

"It's Chris," Anthony said with great disgust.

Brendan smiled and picked up the phone, wrapping the cord around his fingers. "Hi, Chris!" he said brightly.

He listened to his boyfriend while keeping half an eye on Conel, who had wandered out of the bedroom.

"Who's Chris?" Conel asked, hopping up to sit on the Formica countertop.

"Brendan's boyfriend," Anthony answered with a definite sneer.

Brendan's head snapped around, and he registered the surprise on Conel's face. "Tony!" he shouted, suddenly furious and more than a little afraid that Conel would side with Anthony.

"It's true," Anthony snapped back. "Isn't it?"

"Chris, I've gotta go," Brendan said quickly, hanging up the phone almost before Chris even got a chance to say goodbye. "Screw you, Anthony," Brendan snarled.

"You wish," Anthony shot back. Conel had gotten off the counter and stood near the bedroom door, head ducked as though he were trying to pretend like he wasn't there.

"Not if you were the last creature on earth," Brendan shot back. He looked at Conel, searching the teen's face for any sign of revulsion.

Conel disappeared into Brendan's room.

"I know you, queer," Anthony snapped before Brendan could duck out.

Brendan's stomach clenched.

"You're probably watching me all the time."

"Not even if we *weren't* related," Brendan snapped back, blue eyes blazing.

Anthony looked down at him with sharp green eyes, clearly sickened. "Goddamn queers is what's wrong with this world."

"Shitty homophobes is more like it," Brendan barked, then dodged around Anthony and hurried down the hall.

Conel was sitting on the bean bag chair, one leg stretched out and the other curled up. His elbow was propped on the bent knee, his head propped on his hand. He glanced up when Brendan entered the room.

"You're really gay?" he asked bluntly.

Brendan watched the other teen, but didn't see any revulsion. He took a deep breath, bracing himself, and answered. "Yeah."

Conel blinked. "Huh." He chewed on a thumb nail. "Why?"

It was Brendan's turn to stand and blink, and he did so remarkably well. Finally, he plopped down on the bed. "I guess... just because. Why are you straight?"

"Because girls have knockers," Conel answered instantly.

Brendan almost choked on his laughter. "Oh. Well, boys have other portions of their anatomy that's interesting."

Conel looked thoughtful, then finally sighed and shook his head. "Nope. I don't think so. I don't understand why you would think so either, but okay."

Brendan smiled, almost against his will, and watched as his fingers tried to tie themselves into knots. "I guess you want to go back to Jenny's, huh?"

Conel frowned. "Why? You gonna jump me in the middle of the night?" he asked, snickering. Blue eyes traveled up and down Brendan's slender form. "I think I could take you, powers or no."

Brendan grinned mischievously. "Is that a promise?"

Conel actually paused for a moment, thoughtful. Then laughed and shook his head again, making a face. "No, boys just still don't sound interesting. Sorry."

Brendan grinned back. "My boyfriend wouldn't appreciate it, anyway," he answered with a wink. He was silent for a moment, then had to ask, "You really still want to stay?"

Conel shrugged. "Sure. Might as well. You're as good a friend as Jenny--heck, I've talked to you more."

Brendan smiled slowly. "Yeah," he said finally, nodding. "That's right."

Conel grinned brightly. "It's just like camping out co-ed. Only not as fun for me." He sighed mock-pitifully. "Hey," he said suddenly, looking up, "now we're even. I didn't tell you about the Superboy thing, and you didn't tell me about the gay thing."

Brendan grinned back. It was impossible not to, really. "Yeah. I guess so," he answered.

"Good," Conel said. He sat back, every muscle in his body relaxing. They sat in silence for a time, then Conel looked up with an obvious lack of understanding, and asked, "Men? *Why?*"

Continue To Chapter Three

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