Four Days 4/4
by JBMcDragon

He thought it was a dream when he woke. Carpet against his cheek, rough and fuzzy, a blanket over him. Wearing a T-shirt and boxers; socks, from what he could feel. There was a nightstand by his head, and a beanbag chair at his feet. To his left was a wall, and to his right was a bed. He frowned. Brendan's room. What was wrong? Something had to be wrong. He wouldn't be awake otherwise.

He sat up, rubbing his eyes with a fist, glaring around the room. No Brendan. Okay. So maybe he'd gone to the bathroom. Or to get a drink.

The bedroom door was closed; light shone beneath. A clock on the nightstand--Garfield, with a great big grin on his face, hands pointing to the time--said it was just past two AM. Superboy brushed hair out of his face, lifting thick black locks from his blue eyes, and tried to figure out what was different.

Muffled voices drifted to him through the wall. Slowly, he got to his feet and padded to the door, listening.

Angry voices. Conel frowned, wondering whether he should go out and see what was going on, or if he should just stay put.

Five days ago, he would have gone. Now, though... well, he would probably be a liability, and--

There was a loud smack, and the crash of something large falling across another large object. Something clattered to the ground--several somethings from the sound of it.

Conel hesitated a moment more, then finally grabbed the knob and turned. He might be a liability for superheroing, but dammit, he could deal with things that other normal humans could deal with.

He stepped into the light, momentarily blinded, and hoped he wasn't dealing with a metahuman.


Conel squinted, trying to figure out if what he thought he was seeing was really what he was seeing. When he realized it was, he wished (not for the first time) that he had his powers back. "Get away from him," he heard himself saying, and realized the words were more surprised than angry. Surprise at how any family member could loom like that, have that look of hate on their face. Wasn't family supposed to be about love, after all? He'd seen television, and Roxy and Rex--though they'd had the occasional argument--had loved each other dearly.

This didn't look like love.

"Back off, fuck-up!"

Conel blinked, eyebrows rising. "Did you just call *me* fuck-up?" he asked incredulously. He couldn't remember ever being treated quite so badly by someone without a costume before.

"Conel, don't--" Brendan interupted himself, trying to get out of the mess littered across the floor. The table had tipped where he'd--apparently--been thrown onto it, dishes shattering across the limoleum.

"God damn *fag,*" Anthony snarled, grabbing a nearby chair.

Conel saw what was about to happen, and lurched forward, blocking the swing of the chair with his arm. It hurt; something seared across his skin, and it felt like it reverberated through his muscles and bones. A dull, throbbing pain started up; not unlike what he'd felt when fighting King Shark and some of the tougher metahumans.

His ploy worked, though. The chair crashed against his arm first, deflecting to land with less power across his shoulders and back, then rolling to the floor. It didn't hit Brendan.

Conel slid forward, grabbing the other teen and helping him out of the plates, lifting the table when he saw that Brendan's foot was obviously stuck. Conel felt warmth on his knees and legs, then his hands, and saw blood smeared across the ground. His skin hurt--an odd piercing, burning sensation. His heart stuttered faster; he stung all over. It wasn't incapacitating, but there was so *much* of the hurting, when this wouldn't have caused any before. An unfamiliar fluttering was in his blood, and he realized after a moment that it was fear--and not the distant, cold fear of the unknown, or of what he would do if someone he loved was hurt--it was a bitter fear, one that burn and lurched uncontrollably; a fear for being *hurt* and *dying.*

He was bleeding.

Conel's breath sped up, hitching in his chest. Somehow he managed to pull Brendan free--there was blood smeared all over Brendan now, too--and then managed to turn around as Anthony gathered the chair up and swung at them again. It crashed onto Conel's back, sending him staggering to his knees, face to face with blood.

His blood.

That was his blood?

It was, it was *his* blood.

The chair lay, broken, to one side--there were tiny red spatters on it, and that was blood, too.

"Con! Dammit, Tony!"

Dimly, he was aware that (there was blood, his blood) Brendan had picked something up and hurled it at Anthony, who stood in the doorway between the kitchen (which was covered in blood, he was bleeding, was he bleeding all over?) and the small entrance. There was a thunk and a shout (and blood, so much) and suddenly a person lurched over him, reaching for Brendan, who was yelling--was yelling--

(too much blood there was too much blood there was never this much blood there shouldn't be this blood it was only porcelain and only a chair)

--yelling for Conel to leave, now, go--

(there was blood all over the floor and boots in front of him and Brendan screaming of course he was screaming look at all the blood)

--before he was hurt. Anthony's voice mingled with Brendan's, hoarse and drunken and hateful. Brendan was still shouting, but his words cut off sharply with a sick thud.

Brendan fell to the floor, moaning softly, laying before Conel with his eyes closed and--


there was blood.

Conel looked down at his own hands, filmed with a light pink liquid, sitting against the linoleum floor that was littered with glass and striped with pink. (there was so much blood and he didn't know what to do he hurt and there was blood there shouldn't be blood)

Brendan moaned, and Anthony muttered above them. Conel looked up, into Brendan's face. There was blood. Little lines of it on his cheekbone, and a bright red splash above his eye. Slowly, it congealed and dripped across his forehead. Drip. Drip. Drip. It was thick and scarlet and more of it in that one spot than all over the floor.

"Fucking fag in my house, eating my food--"

There was blood. On Brendan. There was too much blood; any blood was too much, because it hurt.

Superboy lurched forward, reaching out across Brendan and grabbing Anthony's leg, yanking back as hard as he could. His knees scratched across the linoleum, and fire flared up his legs again. (there would be blood, his blood)

Anthony crashed, cursing and threatening as he hit the floor, landing sharply on one arm.

Underneath him, Superboy felt Brendan move, trying to wiggle free. He let go of Anthony and hauled back, grabbing Brendan by his shirt and pulling him out of the way. Anthony was already crawling back to his feet, his face a snarl. Brendan leaned up against the cupboards, blinking. His glasses were long gone, his eyes squinting as he tried to make sense of what he saw.

Anthony grabbed a chair, and even on his knees prepared to swing it at Brendan's head.

Bleeding. Brendan's head was bleeding. So were his hands and his knees--there was blood.

The fluttering feeling was still in Superboy's chest, telling him to run, run now, there was blood *his* blood and he was hurting and might die--and still he somehow managed to force himself forward, slamming into Anthony and crashing against the front of the stove, the chair tumbling, forgotten, to the floor.

"Asshole!" Anthony screamed, and on some level Superboy realized he smelled booze on the man's breath. Nails scratched across his arm, (blood, they made more blood) and a foot slammed into his thigh. Superboy hit, striking out and slamming his knuckles into Anthony's face.

Anthony shouted and twisted away, only to come back, grabbing Superboy's throat and hauling him over, under, until he was on his back (his back burned, sliced, fire spreading across, he was probably bleeding) with hands around his neck, Anthony on top of him shouting.

"Let go!" Brendan screamed, and a frying pan crashed down onto Anthony's head. It was enough to shake him loose, daze him, and Superboy struck again, his fist connecting solidly with Anthony's jaw. Anthony fell back, crashing once more against the oven, denting the front.

"Run!" Superboy shouted, knowing they had to take this chance and *leave,* before Anthony found a knife or--maybe--a gun. He could feel the blood pounding through his body, screaming at him--he couldn't win, not now, not this time, he had to live and he had to keep Brendan safe.

Brendan was out the door and down the drive before Superboy caught up with him, and they both raced down the street in the dark of the early morning, running until their legs and lungs burned, and neither of them could breathe anymore.

They stopped at a low wall, Brendan sitting and Superboy doubled over, his hands on his knees. For long minutes they stayed like that, gasping for air, adrenaline slowly draining out of their bodies.

"He could have killed you," Conel finally said at last.

Brendan frowned and shook his head, wiping sweat off his forehead with a trembling hand. "He wouldn't."

Conel looked back the way they'd come. They'd traveled at least a mile, if not farther. Down the dark street a dog barked. "Why does he do that?" Conel asked softly, not really expecting an answer. Slowly, he melted down onto the brick wall next to Brendan.

"I don't know," Brendan answered. "I guess it's the only thing he knows."

Conel looked back. His breathing was almost under control. The fluttering in his blood was still there, but no longer as frantic. The pain had subsided to a dull roar, though he felt like he'd gone rounds with Darksied rather than a human. "Can't you tell someone?"

Brendan smiled humorlessly, leaning his head back and looking up at the stars. He was still breathing heavily. "And then what, Con? Go to someone else who can hit me?"

Conel frowned, looking down at his stockinged feet. They hurt, from where they'd been slapping against the hard concrete. It was a new sensation, that was for sure. "There must be something--"

"Don't," Brendan said quietly, standing. "I've already considered it. Looked at the options. In another year and a half I'll be eighteen, and I'll move out. Until then..." he shrugged, and started moving down the sidewalk.

"Until then--you'll what?" asked Conel, standing and striding after Brendan. "Let him hit you? There must be *something*--"

"Con," Brendan said, turning and fixing him with a steady look, "this isn't that uncommon. Let it go."

Conel stopped, hurting--that cold hurt for his friends that was deep in his bones--and looked at Brendan. "I've fought villains in weird costumes, and superpowered aliens from outer space. I've dealt with bad guys that normally only Superman or Batman would deal with. There must be something I can do."

Brendan smiled weakly. "Nope," he murmured. "Some things you can't fix with superpowers or fancy labs." He stopped, smiled slightly and without any laughter. "Come on. You look like shit. We'll go to Jenny's and get patched up. It won't be the first time I've gone there this late. And it won't be the last." He turned, walking slowly away, as if every step hurt him.

"Jenny's parents--"

"Offered to help. And I told them the same thing I just told you." Brendan smiled slightly. "Minus the bit about superpowers. Just leave it alone, Con. You and your super-friends can't help. Let me live my life."

He hadn't been able to sleep. There were a few band-aids on him now, though he didn't have any major cuts or scrapes. Amazingly enough, he'd even escaped with few bruises. There was one around his neck, easily hidden by high-collar shirts, and several across his back. Damn chairs.

Brendan had two bruises on his face; one above and one below his eye. He insisted that the worst part was that his glasses were broken. He'd also said they got into a fight, and when asked who with he looked straight at Con and answered, "Some local boys. No one you know."

Conel had kept silent.

Jenny and her parents had gone back to bed, eventually. Brendan laid down on the couch, and if he wasn't asleep he was faking it well.

And there Con lay, staring at the ceiling and mulling over the events. He didn't know what he could do. Nothing he could think of seemed to be something that would work; not without Brendan's help, and Brendan had already made it clear that he didn't want to help. Afraid. He was afraid of the unknown.

Conel could understand that.

His skin throbbed. His back, hands, legs, feet and neck all ached, all in different ways. He couldn't even begin to describe them all. It was a constant hurt. He couldn't even think of how Brendan must feel, and he couldn't imagine feeling this way very often. He'd never felt like this with his powers. At least, not this easily.

He looked down at his scratched hands, and his heartbeat picked up. His blood tickled again. But he swallowed, examined the scratches, assured himself that they weren't important, and calmly put his hands down again. He could live like this.

He could.

He could give up his strength and his telekinesis. He could give up fighting supervillains. Maybe he could fight everyday villains, like Anthony. Maybe he could do that. Make a difference in people's lives, even if it wasn't saving the world, or a city, or even a town. He could save people, one at a time. He could still be a hero.

But flight--he didn't know if he could give that up. He needed a flight rin--

Conel stopped, and sat up. The easy chair thunked into its upright position, and Brendan muttered something, looking over his shoulder toward Conel.

"What are you doing awake?"

"Nothing," Conel said absently, mind racing. "I just had an idea. Go back to sleep."

Brendan muttered something, turned over, and did precisely that.

Conel's eyes were sparkling. He bit his lower lip, then grinned.

A flight ring. Of course.

Brendan sat at the breakfast table with Jenny and her parents, deftly avoiding telling them what had really happened the night before. The skin around his eye had swelled enough to look distinctly ugly, but he reminded himself that at least it wasn't the eye itself.

Conel had been gone that morning, a note saying he'd be back soon left in his place. Brendan was wondering sourly how true that note was when the backdoor crashed open, and Conel marched in, all smiles and holding several duffle bags.

"Got a change of clothes for you," he said, setting one bag down by Brendan's feet, "and my stuff."

Brendan looked at the bag, then up at Conel. Conel was shifting from foot to foot, looking at the table, his smile suddenly gone. Brendan was almost afraid to ask what was going on. As it ended up, he didn't have to; Conel blurted it out suddenly.

"I'm leaving. I have to go home. Bren--Anthony's not there, though the mess still is. I--I have to go home."

Brendan nodded; Conel had already said that. "Why?" he asked softly.

Conel tugged on his earring, then ran his fingers through his hair. It was looking shaggy; he hadn't bothered to style it this morning. "Stuff. I have stuff I need to do. I think I figured out a solution to my... problem." He pinned Brendan with a look, as if willing him to understand.

Brendan did, suddenly. Superboy was going back to Cadmus, where it was safe, and maybe he could get his powers back. "Okay," Brendan said softly, dropping his gaze to look at his bowl. "Yeah. Okay."

"Here," Conel said, shoving a piece of paper at him. "It's my phone number, extension, and e-mail address. Use the top one if you need to--it's my fan mail, and I check it, but it'll take me a while to wade through all of them and see yours--or you can use the bottom one, too. It's my private account."

Brendan held the paper closer to his eyes, squinting. The top address was The bottom, He looked up at Conel, arching an eyebrow and pointing to the bottom one.

Conel grinned. "'Kon-El at hotmail' was taken," he explained, a twinkle in his eye. "Someone was using my damn name..."

Brendan chuckled, then grabbed a pen and scribbled his own e-mail address on a napkin. "I don't check it very often," he said, handing it to Conel. "But I'll try to remember if you write to me."

Conel nodded, then glanced at the back door over his shoulder. "I think I hear my ride. I've got to go."

Brendan nodded, and watched as Conel hurried out of the house, waving and thanking Jenny and her parents. The door banged closed behind him, and all eyes turned to Brendan. He continued eating calmly.

"'Fan mail'?" Jenny finally asked, leaning closer.

Brendan shrugged. "He's ego-centric. What can I say?"

The thupping of helicopter blades drew closer, and a wind picked up, blowing through the screen door and into the kitchen. The curtains at the window went crazy, twisting and tangling. Outside, the machine landed and Conel jumped in. Jenny raced to the window and watched as it took off, Con shrugging into a leather jacket, an S emblem emblazoned across the back.

She turned when the helicopter was high in the air, and glared at Brendan. "Ego-centric?" she said, her eyes wide. "*Ego-centric?!* You brat! That was Superboy, and you didn't even tell me! You made me think it *wasn't*!"

"Jenny--" Brendan started, but she screeched and threw the pillow from her kitchen chair at him.

"You twerp!"

"Jenny," Brendan laughed, getting quickly out of his seat and running from the room, "I have a good reason!"

"Good reason my foot! You KNOW I LOVE him!"

"And that's my good reason!" Brendan cackled, taking the stairs two at a time as Jenny raced after him, shouting.

Superboy floated gently down in front of the little house, obvious in his red and blue, his styled black hair tossing in the light breeze. His jaw was locked, his arms folded across his chest. He was the picture of an angry hero.

Anthony came out slowly, bruises across his face. "Fuck," he muttered. He squinted, looking at Superboy against the setting sun. "You're not Conel."

"Kon-El, actually," Superboy corrected quietly. "The Kid. Or Superboy. Whichever you prefer. Or, how about, your brother's friend? Or maybe, the guy you beat up before the sun rose this morning? Or, better yet, the friend of the kid you beat the crap out of on a regular basis."

Anthony looked at Superboy for a moment, where he was hovering just high enough to make the older man squint, then spat absently into the sand. "Fuck. I don't know what that brat's been telling you--"

Superboy lashed out, spinning in the air, his heel colliding with Anthony's jaw. Anthony went sprawling across the ground with a yelp, and Superboy landed, reaching down to pick the other man up off the ground by his collar. "Listen, creep," he growled in his best soon-to-be-Superman voice, "here's the deal. You hit me, I hit back. You hit Brendan again--*ever*--and I'll hit you so hard your spine is launched into outer space. What the hell are you thinking? Don't touch him!" He shoved the other man back, letting him slam against the wall and then fall, legs still on the porch steps as his upper body fell off, into the dirt by the house.

"God damn it, I'll kill the little sonofabi--"

Superboy hit him as he stood, sending him reeling back once more. "Eenh! Wrong answer! Try again!"

"You little creep--"

"Is that your final answer?"

"I'm going to--"

Superboy spun in the air, feet kicking out, sending Anthony sprawling into the dirt. Anthony got up slowly, spitting blood out of his mouth.

"Shall we try again?" Superboy asked pleasantly, though a cold edge had entered his tone. "Now. You hit Brendan and I--what's the answer?"

"Fuck you."

"Close," Superboy sighed. Anthony was standing, and he lurched toward the teen, hands outstretched. Superboy back flipped, neither feet nor hands touching the ground as both boots slammed into Anthony's jaw and sent him flying backwards, twisting in the air before landing painfully on the ground.

Superboy landed near him, glaring down. "Now--"


Conel looked up as Brendan rounded the corner, coming up the drive with his duffle bag over his shoulder. Blue eyes squinted, trying to decipher the scene without his glasses. Then they widened, and Brendan dropped his bag, racing over.

"Oh, God, what happened?" Brendan asked, coming to a hesitant stop by the two men. He paused, then looked up at Conel. "You're flying."

"Yeah," Superboy agreed. "I got some powers back." He grinned. "He won't hit you again. *Right,* Tony?"

Anthony coughed, and said nothing.

Brendan looked from Superboy to Tony and back again. "Wait," he said at last, puzzled, "you did this?"

Conel nodded, glaring down at Anthony.

"You..." Brendan looked again from one man to the other. "Why?"

"He hit you!" Superboy said, surprised that Brendan would have to ask. "He hit *me.* You won't leave, so I told him that if he hit you again--"

"You'd come back and beat the shit out of him?" Brendan snapped.

Superboy looked uncertainly at Brendan. Slowly, he uncrossed his arms and shoved his hands in his pockets. "Well... yeah. Because he hit you--"

"This morning. You came here and--he didn't hit you, did he?"

Superboy shook his head, completely confused. "No--I mean, this morning but--"

"He didn't hit you, he didn't fight with you, and you came out here and beat the shit out of him? What the hell is wrong with you?" Brendan's jaw was clenched, his body tense.

Superboy stepped back. After a heartbeat Brendan knelt, examining Anthony's face. "I hit him this morning," Superboy said at last, shaking his head. "You did too. What makes this so--"

"This morning we hit him to get him off of us," Brendan snapped. "Hitting someone to protect yourself is different than hitting them because you're angry."

"That's not why--"

"It's not? It's not. No, of course not. You came out here and hit him--why? Because you were afraid he'd hurt you again? Bull."

"I was afraid he'd hurt *you* again!" Superboy snapped, frustrated and confused as to where he'd gone wrong. He was trying to *protect* Brendan.

"So you *threaten* him?" Brendan looked up at Conel, anger playing across his face. "You came out here, full of your powers, and you threaten and beat him. How the hell does that make what you just did to him any different than what he does to me?"

Superboy stepped back, appalled. "No, it's not *anything* like that!" he said quickly.

"Why? He deserved it? How do you know I didn't? Maybe I killed someone last year. I would deserve it."

"But you wouldn't--"

"You came out here, and you beat him up because you were angry and stronger and you could." Brendan looked back down at his brother, feeling for broken bones. "That doesn't make you any different than him. Get off my property." The words were quietly spoken, full of leashed anger.

"I'm not like--"

"Get off!" Brendan snapped, looking up again.

Conel stepped back once more; Brendan was crying. He'd made his friend cry. "But--"

"Get the *fuck* off my property!" Brendan shouted, and he stood, hands balled into fists at his sides. "Go! Get away! Get the hell away from me!"

Conel stared, horrified, then flinched back when Brendan stepped toward him, though the slighter teen didn't make any move to hit Superboy. "I--I'm sorry," Conel said, and leapt into the air before Brendan could say anything else.

He flew. One hand clenched, above him, the ring around his finger pulling him, pulling at every little blood vessel in his body to make him fly, and fly faster and faster and faster.

He wasn't like that. He hadn't meant to hurt anyone. He'd meant to make it better.

The wind chilled him, and and he shivered with a bone-deep cold.

But it was just the wind.

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