Ah don't own Mon-El or any of the Legion of Super-Heroes ... DC comics does! Ah'm not making a red cent off'n this story so don't sue moi! *eeeepppp* No infringement of copyright is intended!

Rated G for absolute purity of content! No sex, no drugs, no rock and roll:):) Mercy! And no! Ah don't quite know how that happened either!

The inspiration for this story comes directly from the character's entry in the "Who's Who in the Legion Of Super-Heroes". It seems that his fellow Legionnaires are worried that on one of his lengthy exploration trips into the galaxy Mon-El might simply keep right on going ... and never come back. The title popped into moi's head and Ah knew Ah had a story.:):) Sorry to all the Shadow Lass lovers out there!:(:( Ah just couldn't see ANY way Lar would leave if'n Tasmia were still with us ... so Ah did her in. Mea culpa! Mea maxima culpa!

As usual, in any of moi's stories continuity is non-existent, so don't ya'll be looking for it! Lar couldn't find it with his microscopic vision ... so don't ya'll even try, heah?? Hee! Ah suppose that this could be considered an AU set just after the Magic Wars in which Tasmia, and not Mon-El, died trying to bring the Time Trapper to justice for the death of Superboy! But Ah make NO promises. Enjoy!

Straight On 'Til Morning

An Mon-El Tale by Dann-El Lites

Second star to the right, and straight on till morning.
J. M. Barrie

"Any word, yet?"

An irritated sigh and a simple, "No," were the only answers he received. With an unpleasant grimace, Jo Nah, Ultra Boy, sat back and rubbed his furrowed brow. Querl Dox, Brainiac 5, watched the worried Legionnaire and shook his head.

"Jo," he began quietly, "it's been more than a week now ... "

"I can count, Brainy!"

The young Coluan scientists' lips thinned and his usually steady green eyes flashed anger, but he said nothing. He turned to the Mission Monitor Board, studying the flashing red legend beneath the holo of their fellow Legionnaire.


From the Board, the strong, pale features of the missing Legionnaire stared back at him, unsmiling.

"Tasmia was the only one who ever got him to smile," the sudden thought was upon Querl before he could safely ward it off. He stopped himself with an effort of will. "Not now, Querl," he punished himself with logic. "Tasmia is dead. She's beyond your help. But the living still need you." Resolute, he turned back to Ultra Boy.

"Jo, I think it's time to face the facts ... "

"He's NOT dead!" Ultra Boy snarled and turned away. Brainiac sighed once more, discouraged. Was he the only one who could see it? Or just the only one willing to admit it?

"I didn't say he was," Brainiac 5 pointed out mildly. Poor Jo. His own worst thoughts betrayed by a too quick, errant tongue. "No, most likely he's not dead," the green skinned youth acknowledged and saw the muscles of Jo Nah's neck and shoulders relax a bit. "He'd not be easy to kill, that's very true ... "

"He's sprocking invulnerable, Brainy!" Jo cried, wanting desperately to believe his own words.

"So was Superboy," Brainiac thought, but held his tongue. "It didn't save him, did it?" But there was little point in belaboring the matter. He refused to acknowledge his own uneasiness at the grim thought.

" ... but this is more than just being overdue, Jo," he said to the uncomfortable young hero from Rimbor. The Legion's resident genius took a deep breath.

"I don't ... " his voice wavered, but with an effort of will he made himself continue. "This time ... I don't think he's coming back, Jo ... "

************************************************************************************** The asteroid Shanghalla

One week previously

"Hello, love."

Reaching out, he stroked the cool, smooth surface of the ornate burial obelisk. But still, despite the best efforts of his imagination, there lay only chill metal beneath his busy questing fingers; not warm yielding azure flesh.

"It's me, Shady. I'm back. Seems as if I just left here, doesn't it? But then, I guess I've never really left at all, did I?"

Floating about six inches above the fresh grave, Mon-El sat crossed legged and lowered his head. "If you promise not to laugh, I'll tell you something really funny."

Reflexively he looked about to make sure he was alone. Taking a deep breath, then shaking his head in consternation, he said, "I went to see Dev-Em the other day. I should have been back at Legion HQ, back with our friends, two days ago ... But I just couldn't face it. Our empty quarters ... My empty life ... and so what am I doing instead? Trying to talk to a guy who thinks I'm the biggest inertron plated piece of nass to warp down the space ways in a thousand years. Dev-Em. Can you believe that white noise?" He looked away. He worried at his lower lip and if he had not been invulnerable, he might have drawn blood.

"How's that for desperate?" he whispered.

"But since Kal died ... Dev's about the only one ... the only one left who understands ... He torque's me off just by breathing loudly, you know? I don't like him and he doesn't like me. But we understand one another. He knows what it's like to be ... the way we are. So do you. Gods, I miss you."

The voice was hers. He didn't question that, not even once. Nor did he question how it was possible for the dead to speak. *If* that was what was happening. He never even blinked. Perhaps it was only his imagination or his hearts desire speaking. If so . .. he didn't want to know that either.

[maybe he's jealous, lover. did you think about that?]

"Jealous?" His brows knitted themselves into a frown. "Of *me*? Whatever for?" The astonishment in his voice spoke volumes.

[yes, *you*.] The mirth in hers made him smile and study his feet carefully. [and i couldn't possibly imagine why anyone would be jealous of you ... confident ... heroic ... one of the strongest, most powerful beings in the known galaxy ... if nothing else, you *are* a legionnaire. and you were the one to sway the vote against him the first time Dev applied for membership.]

"Dev-Em is hotheaded, impetuous; he never thinks before he uses his fists," he proclaimed sharply in his own defense. "He - " Mon-El could almost see his lovers dark obsidian and jet eyes roll toward Heaven, praying for patience with foolish children.

[oh, and we don't know *anyone* like that, now do we, lover? what did that Daily Planet columnist Baretta West call you? a 'titan in a china shop', wasn't it? an 'unstable boy-in-a-titan's-body'?] His face clouded with anger for a moment and then he began to laugh until he clutched himself around the middle and his eyes streamed tears.

"Right!" he gasped between merriment. "The position of Legion hothead and troublemaker is already taken. That's *my* job, damn it! And I'm not giving it up." He wiped his eyes and quirked his lips in a sardonic half smile.

"This is your subtle way of telling me not to be so hard on Dev-Em, isn't it?"

[quick! i love a man who's quick ...] He tried to smile for her but, after an instant, it faded to go where ever dying things go to spend their last moments.

"Shady ... God's, I'm so lost without you ... "

[Lar ... Lar ... don't do this to yourself, lover. please!]

"Hey, if I don't do it, who will?" he said. "It's a foul job, but you're not around to shoulder the burden anymore. It's a karmic community service. Keep Lar Gand Balanced. Give him miraculous super-powers and the ability to make a difference in the Universe, then send him to the Phantom Zone for a thousand years. Make him a hero and a Legionnaire, like a dream come true, then WHAM! Take away the two people he loves most."

[feeling a little sorry for our self, aren't we?]

"Wouldn't want to lose my reputation for gloom and doom," he said.

His super strong hands rose to his temples and he pounded at them with closed eyes and gritted teeth. But, of course, since he was invulnerable, no damage was done.

Physically, at least..

"I'm trapped in here and I can't get out!" he cried. "It's - it's like being back in the Zone again. Sometimes I don't think I ever really left that hell. I can touch people again and they can touch me, but ... But I never really touch anyone. I don't think I remember how. And I'm afraid. Mon-El isn't afraid of anything ... but me ... Lar Gand ... Lar Gand is afraid of everything. He's terrified of being alone and of being with other people; he's afraid to touch or be touched because it hurts so badly when it stops ... when the other people go away ... and they always go away." He reached out for a hand that wasn't there and when his fingers closed on the empty air they knotted themselves into a fist.

"Gods of space, I am so tired of always being afraid."

[you had help finding your way out of one phantom zone, lover. You can find help escaping this one, too. talk to someone, for the ancestor's sake!] He smiled sadly.

"You were always the one I talked to, m'love. You and Kal. There's no one left."

[nonsense! what about Jo?]

He drew a deep breath at the mention of the name of Jo Nah, Ultra Boy.

"Oh gods ... " he breathed. "Poor Jo. He's been so busy trying to console Tinya and then me since you've been ... gone .... that he hasn't had time to mourn himself." He ran ragged fingers through his dark hair. "He's the best friend a man could ever ask for. I don't deserve him, do I?" He worried at his lower lip. "I've never been fair to Jo." The silence was seprucal and eternal. Shanghalla was a graveyard, after all. A final resting place reserved for the greatest heroes and heroines of the galaxy.


["yes, lover?"]

"Did you ever wonder ... I mean, did you ever think about how you got to be the way you are?"

["what are you saying, lover?"]

His shoulders slumped and, for an instant, he wished for something to lean against. But then he thought better of it and straightened his back. Too many things like that; too many things to lean on.

And most of them were gone now, weren't they?

"I don't know ... I just ... I think too much, I guess. I just wonder how I got to be the way I am, is all. I look back ... and I can't for the life of me see how I got here from where I started, you know? It's easy to see it with other people. You. Over a thousand years of family tradition and heroism made you the planetary champion of Talok VIII and then a Legionnaire. But me? I started out just like my father. And I hate that part of me."

["don't say that!"]

"It's about time I said it!" he snarled. "Kel Gand was a total failure as a person. A waste of skin. Oh yeah. He was a great explorer and a grand hero who saved Earth and even Daxam from being taken in by the Khunds and the Alliance during the Invasion of Earth. But the best thing he ever did was get himself killed. He was never home! When Del was sick with Rytellinian fever he was off exploring the Procyon system. The kid almost died. My little brother nearly lost his life and I was the one who sat by his bed, night after night and held him when he cried with the pain. It was a good thing I'd already had the fever, huh? Or Del wouldn't have had anybody. My father was nowhere to be seen. It was Proxima Cenaurii he was exploring the first time I won the District Engineering competition. I was eleven years old and I took that SL-87 star cruiser apart and put it back together in less than half the time it took other guys twice my age. But he wasn't there to see it. I don't even remember where he was on my Naming Day, the day when I, according to Daxamite custom, became a man. And then one day of days ... he just didn't come back. Period. I waited for more than six months before I finally believed the Space Authority when they told us he was dead."

["Lar ... lover ... none of that was your fault ... "]

"Then whose fault was it, Shady? Whose? He loved my mother; I know that. I watched them. Every time he left her it was like tearing his heart out. It wasn't her fault. Or Del's fault, either. He was actually there when Del was born and I've never seen him happier. So who does that leave? We're running out of options here, love."

[ ... Lar ... ]

"It leaves me, that's who. Somehow I - I never quite measured up. I was never as good at anything as he needed me to be. So he died an 'heroic' death ... running away from me. He spocking sacrificed himself for a whole world full of total strangers. When I went to see Earth for myself, to see what he died for, I told myself that he must have found something grand there; something he loved. Something he loved more than me."

She waited. It wasn't long in coming, at that. Sooner than even she expected.

"And I'm just like him. I - I love the vastness, the openness of space. The stars shining around me like jewels. I ache to know what's just past the horizon; waiting over the next hill. Somehow, I know .. I feel ... that it'll be more exciting and better than what's here, now. No matter how good what I have here is. My mother understood. So did you didn't you?" The smile in her voce did as much to protect him from the cold of space around him as his invulnerability ever had.

["oh , yes."]

"Well, I never will. What in the name of the gods am I looking for?"

["why do you have to be looking for anything, lover?"> she wanted to know, humor in her dulcet tones. ["i think you just love the freedom of it. racing from world to world ... star to star .. free and happy. you always disliked to tied down. even by me. there were times when you simply had to burst out, to break free and go your own way. remember all those vacations we spent apart? you'd be off exploring the depths of space and i'd go home to talok viii? not all that was simply because my parents and my government disapproved, you know."]

"I know."

["they always made you so happy, those trips. when you came back you were relaxed, prone to smiling, even. we used to spend our first few days back together hiding in my quarters, making love and laughing. you'd tell me all about everything you'd seen and done. you could hardly get the words out fast enough."]

"Coming home was great," he acknowledged with a blush. "You were always waiting for me when I got back."

["i still am, lover."]



He could almost feel her hand on his cheek in assurance. It was an old and familiar gesture between them He wished that he could kiss her palm as she so loved him to do.

[" ... Lar? have you thought much about that? what's going to happen now, i mean?"] He shook his head.

"I can't think about it. I can't wrap my mind around the idea of life without you. I can't."

["you're going to have to, lover. eventually. *i* was the one who died, not you."] He didn't like the silence that fell then nor the sound of his own voice when he broke it. The words were out of his mouth before he could stop them.

"I could ... "

["damn you, Lar Gand! you do and i swear i'll not be waiting for you when you've done it! i won't!"] It wasn't only shame that made him bow his head and look away at this unexpected evidence of his own cowardice.

["Lar, listen to me. you've lost something very important. and i don't mean me. something more important than me."] He opened his mouth to protest, but she cut him off. ["i mean your peace of mind ... your happiness. i think i helped you find it for a time, but ... well, when you've lost something, lover, you start looking for it in the last place you can remember seeing or having it, right? So where was the last time and place you can remember being happy, content?"]

"Before the Zone," he said. "Before the Legion, even. When I was ... when I was ... "

[" ... when you were exploring the stars."] she finished for him and he winced. ["when you were free an unencumbered. when each new day was a glorious adventure and there wasn't *anything* you couldn't do with those wonderful new powers of yours. am i right?"]

"I - I can't!" he cried. "I - I - "

["of course, you can, lover! don't you think dev would be glad to take your place in the legion? you wou;dn't be leaving them in a lurch. look up there. do you see that bright green star? the one tickling the tail of The Dragon?"] He nodded.

["then let's follow another little boy who never wanted to be unhappy. remember? Never-Never Land. 'second star to the right, then straight on 'til morning.' come on, lover. let's go see what's out there. together."]

With unbounded joy he leapt and followed her smile into the beckoning starlight.

************************************************************************************ It took the small package almost a month to arrive at Legion Head Quarters on Earth. Brainiac couldn't begin to guess all the means by which it had come to it's final destination, here in his hands. There was no way to trace it, to discover it's origin. The gods of space alone knew how far it had traveled and by what means.

"He asked me to give you this," said Dev-Em.

He did not say the name nor did he tarry once his deed was accomplished. Brainiac 5 drew in a deep breath and stared down at the Legion Flight ring cradled in his hand. Politely, he thanked the Kryptonian CIO operative. It wasn't really necessary to turn the ring over and glimpse the large stylized initial M engraved boldly in simple strokes on the underside; but he did so anyway for the sake of surety. It was the practical thing to do.

And, above all, he was a practical man, after all.

"Dox?" Brainiac looked up and tried not to frown.

"When the time is right I'd like to talk to you about joining the Legion. Not now. But when the time is right, okay?"

Brainiac 5 nodded. It was very like Mon-El to provide for his own replacement, wasn't it? At once thoughtful and cruel at the same time.

Yes, quite like Lar Gand himself.

Breaking the news to Jo would be difficult, he knew. But at least Lar Gand was alive. That much they were sure of, now. Silently he closed his hand around the cold metal of the ring, warming it with the heat of his body. Alone, where no one else could see and chastise him for his weakness, he allowed himself to hope that Lar was happy, now, as he had not been for such a very long time. And to hope that, one day, he would find what he was looking for out among the stars.

For long moments he stared into the monitor of the deep space scanner in his multi-lab. It was only an illusion, of course, but for an instant, no more, his eyes brought him the sight of Lar Gand, Mon-El, wheeling and soaring joyously amidst the splendors of the galaxy, free and happy at last. The smile that tippled the corners of Querl's full mouth at the illusion was brief, but quite heartfelt.

"Good journey, my friend," he said softly.

The End