Ah don't own any of the characters heah, neither Mon-El/Valor, nor any of the other members of the Legion of Super-Heroes! DC Comics does. No money is being made and no copyright violation is intended! So pleese don't sue moi! *eeeeppp*
Rated PG -13 Just because Ah'm paranoid. A little futuristic bad language, some undepicted lovin', and some psychological unpleasantness going on heah:):) But nothing major! As usual, moi's continuity is problematical. So forgive moi in advance any Legion scholars who might be reading this:):) Ah cannot, for instance, remember if'n Shadow Lass had an SW6 counterpart or not:(:( Moose pooh!
Thanks to Tigerm1019, Carmen (who orignally got moi to thinking about the Legion and their SW6 Batch counterparts!) and, of course, 'rith for help and encouragement above and beyond!
Okay! This one needs a bit of setup, so check the META at the end of the story now or when ya'll're done. Ya'll's preference:)
Me, Myself ... But No I
A Mon-EL/Valor Tale by Dannell Lites
"You must be Tasmia," Valor smiled at me.
"Yes," I replied, dry as the desert winds of my homeworld Talok VIII, "I must be." Instantly when his smile faltered I felt foolish and petty. Oh Ancestor's Blessings ... must he be so much like Lar? So easily wounded? So reluctant to show it? Now I had hurt him. And I never meant to.
Valor looked around cautiously as we trod into the sitting room of my quarters. The quarters I shared with Lar. I didn't blame him. I can't tell you how many times I have counted myself lucky that there is only one of me. The idea of confronting someone else with my face everyday was not a pleasant one. Like many people I have frequently found the idea of being a twin very appealing. But this was somehow different. Certainly Brainy found no trouble in the idea. He and his counterpart got on splendidly in and out of the lab.
"I like to think of it as the sincerest form of flattery," he had deadpanned when I broached the subject. He didn't smile, of course, but I did.
In fact, all the Legionnaires seemed to be accepting of their younger selves. Jan and his clone (if that is indeed the word for them ... or us ... ) seemed particulairly close. They were, after all, the last of their kind. The only Trommites in existence.
"Be welcome," I said. Mechanically, I tried to make amends by smiling at him. I doubt that it worked.
"Is he here?" Valor asked just as we reached the entrance to the parlor. I nodded.
"In the next room," I informed him in low tones, anxious lest my sharp eared lover should hear us. Foolish, of course. His ears can hear the winds speak when he wishes it or the birth and death of an atomic particle. I put a hand on Valor's chest calling a halt to his quiet, determined advance. But once it was accomplished and he was waiting patiently for what I had to say, I realized that I had no idea what that would be. How do you prepare someone for something like this? For someone like Lar? It was impossible. But I had to try.
"Valor," I began, "I know you've seen one anothers from a distance and even spoken once, and Jan tells me he explained to you about Lar, but ... " My inane words trailed off.
"Hey," he said softly, smiling, "I'm not as delicate as you two think. Whoever he is, I know Mon-El isn't me. Kind of like meeting a twin you never knew you had, I guess. I'll admit, I'm a little anxious but it's nothing I can't handle, okay?" He looked fiercely determined. "Ma'am, I came here to meet him and for him to met me. We can't keep avoiding each other like this. It's time, don't you think?"
"Valor, I promise you he hasn't been avoiding you ... it's just ...." I tried to assure him.
As you may see, I am as capable of lies and deception as anyone else, Legionnaire or not. I'm just seldom very good at it, is all.
"Yes, he has," Valor said, simply. I saw something pass briefly through his eyes then that I thought Lar might understand: quiet detrermination to suceed and to do the right thing. Perhaps this inexperienced, refreshingly innocent youth had something in common with my lover, after all.
For a moment I thought I saw the pain of rejection pass through his eyes, flickering brief as a candle flame. The frown it left in its wake was devastating. Valor studied his boots for many moments unable to meet my eyes.
"I don't understand," his sincere voice was quiet, very quiet like an abandoned room with no one, no joy, to fill it. "All the others get along just great. Like brothers or sisters. Why won't he talk to me? Did - did I do something wrong?" When he gazed up at me, hoping to see the answer in my face, hear it from my lips, his eyes were earnest, pleading ... And so very, very blue ...
My heart pounded against my ribs so hard that I thought surely one of them would break.
I thought most likely it would be my heart.
"Ancestral Shadows, but you are in trouble, woman!" I warned myself, stern voiced. "Tread carefully here. Very carefully. If you do anything foolish you're not the only one who'll suffer for it. Remember that."
"That's why I wanted the two of you to meet," I explained, gusting a sigh of resignation. "Mon isn't much for social things. Niether of us are, actually. We're nortorious for it. Shadow Lass and Mon-El keep too much to themselves. Ask anyone. Mon is a private person ... He's ... He's ..." My words deserted me, leaving me bereft and alone..
"It's ... complicated ..." I finished, weakly. Valor lifted my chin and smiled down at me.
"Why don't we just do this and see what happens?" he suggested. He was right, of course. Offering up a silent prayer to the Ancestors, I lead the way into the living room of my quarters. My worst fears seemed to take life when Valor took one step inside and froze in his tracks. For long moments he stared in silence. Two pair of dark blue eyes peered, each into the other. I think that's when Valor first understood why Lar had put him off for so long.
And why it might have been better to leave it at that.
When he saw Lar's eyes.
Oh yes; when he saw all the fear and fury living at the heart of my lover Lar Gand, Mon-El, he understood his mistake perfectly.
"Mother of God ..." he finally whispered.
Lar was reading. Another technical manual, unless I was mistaken. He and Brainy were hard at work on an update to the latest blueprints for the new Legion crusiser they had designed. Few things give Lar as much pleasure as working with his hands, building and designing spacecraft. He takes almost as much joy in the sleek lines of a well designed starship as does in me. And few of his fellow Legionnaires are as welcome in Brainiac 5's lab as Lar. My world, Talok VIII, is not a world of much techical advancement and I have little interest in such things, but I am a patient, indulgent woman.
At the sound of Valor's voice, Lar dropped his manual and spun away from us. I am no telepath such as Imra Ardeen, Saturn Girl, is. Her husband, Garth Ranzz, Lightning Lad, is a braver soul than I to be so willingly known and exposed before his lover. But it wasn't necessary to be a telepath to know Lar's mind, his thoughts, at that moment. He wore them plainly on his face.
Was I ever that young?
And then, like water filling an empty cup, came the painful answer.
Yes, I was. Once.
Like Lar, Valor wore his thoughts plainly for all to see. All his innocence, all his thirst to accomplish wonders with his great powers, his belief that he can do *anything* shone from out of his eyes, accusing Lar of failure and ignominious defeat at the hands of a hard life. I watched the anger in Lar's spirit overwhelm him and my heart sank like a stone.
"Get out!" he growled.
Valor looked at me in shock. "But - I didn't *do* anything -" he choked.
How was I supposed to tell him that merely by existing he had, indeed, 'done something'? Would he understand how difficult it was for Lar to see himself as he once was in his younger counterpart? How punishing it was to know the fate of all that wonder and grand naivete of his youth? To watch again as it died, eaten away, one day at a time over the course of a thousand years of torment? Lar was staring at Valor, his dark, smoky blue eyes wide and blazing with rage. I think I was the only one who could see the fear at the heart of them.
Speechless, Valor could only continue to stare at the man whose face he'd stolen. At his side, large clever hands, seemingly made for the repair of broken things, clentched into fists and I saw the muscles of his jaw tighten into taunt cords. Lar stepped forward and Valor, by instinct it seemed, automatically backed away.
"What's the matter, boy," Lar demanded. "Are you deaf as well as stupid? I said GET OUT!"
Valor loosened the coller of his uniform with a jerk and closed his eyes. "I - I - " he stammered. There were no fitting words, of course, so he gave up the struggle and fled. Faster than the blink of an eye, he was gone leaving behind him pain and silence like a wall as unbreachable as Brainy's inpenetrable forcefield.
"Lar, please," I said, "he's young. He doesn't understand. How can he?" Lar's face began to lose some of the white pallor of anger. Beneath his golden tan he had gone pale as a ghost, pale as a ... phantom ...
"That's my face!" he ground out. There was something lurking beneath all the anger in that deep, harsh voice my ears told me. Something ... I watched him walk away, saw the rock like set of his tense shoulders and inspiration struck. Suddenly, I knew what the faint echoes in that voice were all about; what it was that frightened him.
"He's only here because I wanted you to met him," I said. "I'm not the one who brought him here, Lar, you know that. None of us brought the SW6 Batch here. But we have to live with them. He's not you. You've nothing to fear from him." I circled his waist with my arms and lay my head down upon the broad exspance of his muscular shoulders. Lar's great powers are a gift of Earth's yellow sun and his body is always warm and comforting like sunlight itself. Soft as the wing of a flitterbye, I kissed the back of his neck.
"No one is quite like you," I assured him. "You could never be replaced."
"It's not exactly that," he said, so low voiced I almost missed it. "He's just so - so -"
"Young," I finished for him. "I know. And you wonder what happened to all that youthful joy and enthusiasm." I lay one slender hand on an upswept cheek. The other I rested over his heart. Through the plain blue cloth of his uniform, I could feel it's strong beat against my flesh.
"It's still there," I whispered in his ear. "Stronger and brighter than ever. It's just more closely guarded, is all. *I* can see it plainly."
"You always could," he murmured and swept me up in his strong arms in a tight embrace.
I clung to him, entwining my hands in the midnight darkness of his hair. How many times have I taken joy in that beautiful body? How often have I drank deep at the well of that strong spirit? Not often enough to grow weary of it, I can assure you. Each time is like the first.
After our lovemaking, I took the opportunity to slip away. I covered the sleeping Mon with a warm blanket, kissed him gently and went in search of his youth.
I found Valor in the Legion garage deeply engrossed in the spatial drive of one our damaged Legion cruisers.
"Valor?" I said softly. For a moment, I thought he was going to ignore me. He tightened one final bolt and blew the dust off the cover of an antimatter containment pod before he began reattaching it.
"The thermocouple wasn't set right on this thing," he began with out preamble, "but I realigned the magnetic fields and it should work fine now. It looks like I'm going to have my job cut out for me here. This place is falling apart. How you people have survived this long without a good mechanic or engineer I don't understand." He patted the cold metal of the Crusiser; a thing he had no trouble understanding, unlike the man from whose presence he had just fled. "I think I can have this baby humming in no time."
"Valor," I called a halt to his studied ramblings, "we have to talk about this."
His shoulders slumped in acknowledement and defeat; he leaned his forehead against the Cruiser's outer hull.
"He's ... he's ..." the SW 6'er stammered.
"Yes, he is." I said. He turned to face me, his eyes cold, his voice flat. "He's a sprocking *bastard*!"
"He *can* be. You had that right the first time." I bit back anger. "But may I ask who it was that died and made *you* a diety? You have no right to judge him. None."
"I am him," he pointed out, bitterly.
My eyes narrowed with understanding and I drew in deep breath. Of course. Fear was at the core of it. My heart ached a little more.
So like Lar ... so much like Lar ...
But was there a way out for him? For the both of them?
"Not yet, you're not." I told him.
He stiffened and looked defensive. I rubbed my tired eyes.
"How does someone get like that?" he wanted to know, genuinly baffled. "What happens to make a man so - so - ?" I chuckled, low in my throat, almost like Mon.
"Oh Ancestors, that's easy," I informed him. "First of all, it helps if you can arrange to be born about 1,000 years ago when no one gave much of a nass for their fellow beings. Then you have to manage to get yourself a father's who's never home, who hasn't time for his family, least of all you, but who manages to kill himself saving the people of some little backwater planet called Earth from an Invasion that should, by all sane measures, have suceeded. A world full of total strangers who meant more to him than you did.
Then you need to find out that you're, suddenly, one of the strongest beings in the galaxy; that you're practically invulnerable and that there's sprocking little that can even hurt you for long.
But the real clincher is when, through no fault of your own, you end up spending a tousand years as an immaterial phantom in the Phantom Zone rather than die of accidentally induced lead poisoning. A thousand years watching the world go on without you, unable to touch or be touched, a thousand years alone.
Meanwhile, you get to watch everyone and everything you've ever known or loved wither and die. After that, all you need is about ten years of practice at pretending to be the quietest, calmest guy around when what you'd really like to do is scream until something shatters. Most likely you. But you can't ..." My smile was not a pleasant sight.
"That's all true?" he asked, his throat working hard. I waved my hands in wordless adffirmation.
Valor sucked in a sharp breath at my tirade. "So where does that leave me?" he demanded. With a sigh, I gave him the only answer I had.
"I don't know," I said honestly.
He seemed to loose his balance, just then. Wordless, the wrench he was holding slipped from his nerveless fingers and clattered noisily to the floor, leaving eerie echoes of itself in the vastness of the huge room. He sat down heavily in the clutter and grime as if the weight of his body were, quite suddenly, too great a burden for his legs to bear.
"I don't want to become him .. " he whispered. "All the bitterness and rage ... gods ... Is that all that's in store for me? All I have to look forward to?" At his side his hands spasmed involuntarily and the thick metal of the fallen wrench he was trying to retrieve twisted itself out of shape between one heartbeat and another. Quick steps took me to his side. Kneeling beside him, I lifted his chin.
"Lar, listen to me," I directed, calling him by his name almost by instinct, quite against my will or better judgement. His eyes pleaded with me. "No one wants you to be Mon-El. You are Valor." Beneath my sensitive fingers, I felt the muscles of his jaw relax and I smiled a familiar smile. This would hardly be the first time I had comforted Lar Gand, would it?
"Nothing is inevitable," I told him. "My people believe in fate, what you Daxamites call 'mahai' and Earthlings know as 'karma'. But nothing is forever. Jan Arrah, our present Legion Leader, would be the first to tell you that. With a single thought Element Lad can transform one element into another. Change, he would tell you, is the only constant in the Universe. But in order to change a thing ... you must understand it. To change yourself, you must know yourself." He gulped.
"That's a tall order," came his answer.
"You're a tall man," I said. His smile seemed to light the spacious room, banishing the shadows in the far corners.
"Six feet two," he laughed and I hugged him.
"So - umm - you like tall guys, by any chance?" he muttered. I reguarded him with a playfully juandiced eye.
"No," I informed with a sadonically lifted eyebrow to emphsize my point. "I like short, ugly, cowardly men. Scrawy 98 pound weaklings who can barely lift their own feet."
"I'll lose weight," he promised, "I'll slump ... I'll ... I'll ... "
"Put a paper bag over your head?" I suggested. He brightened guilessly and I had to laugh. "Not much you can do about the rest is there?" I pointed out.
"I could let Jan turn me into a fungus or something ... "
"Okay! Okay! Nix the fingus. Bad idea." His eyes danced with merriment for a monment. But then, he grew more serious and I held my breath. Oh Ancestors, please don't let him ask me -
"Tasmia? If ... if you weren't ... I mean, if it weren't for ... Would you ... Do you think you could ... someone like me?" His face blazed scarlet and he looked away. I sighed.
Well, the Ancestors never were much for listening to prayers unless it pleased them, were they? I was very careful not to touch him this time. I'm not that big a fool.
But yes, I am that big a coward.
"Yes," I replied. He needed to hear this and it was only right that I admit it. "If. Probably the most poignant and defintely the largest word in any language, for all that it only has two small letters. But it can't be. You know that." He lowered his head.
"I know. It's just ... nice to know is all." He looked so forlorn for a moment that I felt like hugging him again. I restrained myself. "I'm just getting a little tired of waiting, I guess." he admitted.
"It's worth the wait," I assured him with a broad smile. "Don't worry. Your time will come."
"When?" A bit of desperation crept into his voice and he looked away again. "I haven't had much luck with girls. I mean look at Inferno. Everytime I turn around he has a date with another beautiful woman. I'd settle for just one."
"Is that really what you want?" I asked. He smiled softly.
"Neither does Dirk. But it's what he's willing to settle for. Are you?" He didn't even really have to answer that, he knew, so he didn't trouble himself. I nodded sagely.
"I didn't think so."
I swiftly decided that, since discretion is the better part of Valor, that a quick, you might even say ... *valorious* ... retreat was in order.
By this, you may easily see to what circumstances I had been reduced. Making puns to myself.
"Valor," I said, "if you'll come back with me, I apromise you this time he'll talk to you. Once he's had time to calm down, he'll feel quite badly about his anger. He usually does. It's not something he's proud of. Please ... come back with me. I know Lar." With a sigh, he straightened the now mishapen wrench in his hand back to it's original form and lay it carefully aside.
I was sure Lar would be awake by now. He never sleeps for long. When he sleeps, he dreams and Lar doesn't like to dream. Since his body does not tire he requires no sleep to refresh it, so he rarely does it. We found Lar sitting in the middle of the living room floor, engrossed in a memory crystal. When he is tense, at his moodiest, heading for a deep depression, Mon sometimes spends hours revisiting the beauty he has discovered in the nooks and crannies of the vast galaxy he has explored. Sometimes it helps. At my side, Valor gasped at the beauty unleashed, shining there in our humble quarters.
Blazing in brightest tones of red and gold, the Fire Rings of Beta Carinae flamed and burned around Lar, the icy depths of space sparkling in the background. From the corona of Beta Carinae itself a tendril of red-gold fire leapt and played Lar's face was aglow like that distant sun, shining with happiness at the memory of this wonderous place.
"Gods of space!" Valor cried. "Where is that? How can I - how can I get there ... ?" Lar looked up and he was smiling. I sighed with relief. This was going to be one of the good times.
"The Beta Carinae System," Lar said. "There are lots of other places even more beautiful out there. Not too many more spectacular, though." He pointed at Beta Carinae. "Beta Carinae is a double sun system. Orbiting inside the cronosphere of the star itself is a white dwarf star. Querl needed it as a power source for one of his experiments, once. So I fetched it here to Earth for him." Valor's jaw fell floorward.
Lar simply looked smug and Valor's jaw fell a trifle further.
"You did ... " he marveled, awestruck. "How did you deal with the gravity?" Valor demanded. Lar's smile broadened.
"Tucked the whole thing nice and safely away in a dimensional tesseract for transport. I did have to return it when Querl was done with it, though," Lar informed him with virtual child-like glee.
"You have tesseract technology? Wow. I - I guess I've got some catching up to do on my engineering skills, huh?"
"About a thousand years worth," Lar reminded him. Lar reached for another memory crystal.
"Would you like to see a triple sun system?" he asked. Valor's eyes sparkled.
"Show me," he said and sat down beside Lar on the floor.
Smiling I moved off and left them to their chat. They talked for a good long time, of stars and starships, stargates and galactic menaces and whether Durlans have a true shape. I insisted they pause to eat luch and they obeyed me, reluctantly. But eventually, as all good things must, the day drew to it's end.
Valor smiled and headed for the door. Typically, Lar waited until the youth had his back completely turned and one hand on the doornode before he acted.
"You! Boy!" he shot at Valor. "What do you do in your spare time?" Valor turned to face him squarely and two pair of like blue eyes met across the distance between them.
"I fix things," he said.
Lar frowned and lowered his eyes.
"I break things," Mon-El admitted in a soft voice.
Valor considered, watching Lar closely and I held my breath waiting for his decision. Would he make peace with his older self or at least accept him?
"Fine," he said after a moment, then smiled. "You break them, I'll fix them."
I watched the birth of an answering smile at the corrner of Lar's full mouth, rarer and more lovely to my eyes than a Spring day on Starhaven. I took Mon's hand and lead him away.
Behind me, I heard the the door close softly and Valor was gone, but I didn't let that worry me.
He'd be back.
Mon-El (Lar Gand) - is a member of that august group. Hopefully when Ah tell ya'll that he is a slightly older, gloomier version of the Pre-Crisis Superboy that will mean something:):) Mon-El was a space explorer from the planet Daxam (a planet that has much in common with vanished Kryton!). Like Superman/Superboy he gains an awesomne array of superpowers when under the influence of a yellow sun. Super strength, flight, superspeed, invulnerability, laservision and a number of other vision and sensory related powers. But Mon-El has a deadly vulnerability, much akin to Superboy's vulnerability to kryptonite. For Mon-El kryptonite is spelled L-E-A-D. Yeppers, the common substance lead is as deadly to Mon-El as kryptonite is to Superboy. Well, as ya'll might imagine, it didn't take Lar Gand of Daxam (don't ask how he got the superhero codename Mon-El; just don't! Look, Clark was a teenager when he did that, okay?? GOD, Ah love the Silver Age of Comics!) long to run into some lead. Once exposed to lead a Daxamite is doomed to a lingering, painful death (much like radiation poisoning for a human). To prevent this Superboy projected Mon-El into the Phantom Zone where he languished for a thousand years alone, as an immaterial phantom, unable to touch anyone or be touched. He was finally released from his torment by the Legion Of Super-Heroes and joined them as a hero.
Shadow Lass (Tasmia Mallor of Talok VIII) - Shady is likewise a member
of the LSH! She is also Mon-El's long time lover and significant other. The two
of them, Shady and Mon-El, were the most loyal and consistent Legion couple
going. Other pairs of Legion lovers argued and broke up, got back together
again, had affairs (ala "Days of Our Legion Lives" or "As The Legion Churns"!),
but not Shady and Mon-El. In fact, when he died (he got better! The Sitch: During the course of a plethora of adventures one of the
many, many things that happened to the Legion was that they discovered that they
had been cloned (or were they the clones?? No one was ever really
sure!) OR they might have been victims of a rather bizarre method of time theft:
younger versions of themselves were plucked from various points in the time
stream and turned loose on the galaxy. These younger Legionnaires were
collectively known as the SW6 Batch. Whatever their origin, for awhile several
Legionnaires had two of themselves running about. One of them was Mon-El. The
younger version of Mon-El was known as Valor. It occured to moi that they might
not get along a'tall:):) Thus ... this story!
The Sitch: During the course of a plethora of adventures one of the many, many things that happened to the Legion was that they discovered that they had been cloned (or were they the clones?? No one was ever really sure!) OR they might have been victims of a rather bizarre method of time theft: younger versions of themselves were plucked from various points in the time stream and turned loose on the galaxy. These younger Legionnaires were collectively known as the SW6 Batch. Whatever their origin, for awhile several Legionnaires had two of themselves running about. One of them was Mon-El. The younger version of Mon-El was known as Valor. It occured to moi that they might not get along a'tall:):) Thus ... this story!