Tabitha found herself standing in front of the six founding members, trying her best not to show any emotion. She was told that there were actually seven members however she wasn’t going to question why she never met the phantom member. J’onn stood up from his seat and looked at her.
“Tabitha Lyght; a month ago, you were brought here because of a problem with controlling your anger and rage. In response for going through your treatment successfully…” she almost cringed as the Martian put emphasis on that word, “… You were given a choice to be a part of the Justice League.” he looked at her. She wanted to cry; she knew that she could see the disappointment in his red eyes: she didn’t pass the final part of her treatment.
However, J’onn slowly smiled at the white-haired woman, the others following his lead, “Congratulations, Tabitha.” he announced. She couldn’t help it; she covered her mouth and let out a squeal, causing the others to slightly laugh. The rest of the members stood and gave her a round of applause.
“Seriously?!” for nearly two days, all she could do was worry about how her actions in New York was going to affect their decision. She had goofed, she knew she did; she had exposed her powers in front of the guards, was willing to kill with no remorse. When she returned to Watchtower, no one said a word to her, not even Bruce. She already packed her bags before she was summoned to the conference room.
J’onn had to admit that he was shocked at how close she had come to losing it; he was sure that they would have to intercept her attack. However, he couldn’t have been any prouder when she pulled herself out of the start of her rage, even doing the breathing techniques she was taught. It was a shaky situation but it was enough to convince J’onn J’onzz that Tabitha Lyght was now in full control of her emotions. The next step was to inform her of their findings about her mutant DNA strand. However, after last speaking with Dr. Lindsey, she had assured J’onn that she would tell her.
“Will you accept membership into the Justice League?” Superman asked. She gathered her composure long enough to answer, a huge smile on her face.
“Yes!” she nodded. It was exciting for her. Her take on superheroes had changed drastically in the past two years. She didn’t have anything against them; she just left the overexcitement of them to the younger children. Now that she willingly accepted to be a part of one of the major factions of superheroes out there, she wondered if they would still accept her when she found the antidote to make her normal. Thinking about it, she also wondered if she now could get the help that she needed.
“Give me a moment to log your access code in the system; it’ll give you access to any authorized room on Watchtower. Here is your communicator; you’ll always be able to get in contact with myself and anyone else. As a new member, you have mandatory training to go through. You can stay aboard if you like. If not, just make sure that you’re on time for your training.” J’onn explained, giving her a piece of equipment that looked like a small Bluetooth device.
“Thanks for putting up with me this past month. I do have a request, though.” she smiled but looked dead at The Flash.
“A race with The Flash…” she announced. He smiled and approached her as the other members showed their interest in her request.
“You can call me Wally, now that you’re a member. Are you sure?”
“I ain’t deaf; I’ve been hearing people wondering who’s faster!” she said but looked at Green Lantern. He gave her a smirk, “One lap around Watchtower?”
“This will be fun! Ready?”
“Always!” the words didn’t come out of her mouth fully before the two disappeared from the room, one leaving a blur of red, the other a streak of white. Twenty seconds later, Tabitha appeared back where they had started, with Wally appearing immediately after her.
“Wow…” Diana blinked.
“She beat him…” Green Lantern mused. Wally looked at Tabitha and smirked.
“Best two out of three?”
“Let’s go!” she agreed and the two took off again. Bruce shook his head.
“We may have to watch out for those two, now…”
Abrupt knocking made her pop out of her sleep and grumble; maybe it was a bad idea to have stayed on Watchtower, she groggily thought. To make things easier on herself (as well as not go through the nausea every time she teleported), Tabitha had made the decision to stay aboard Watchtower throughout her mandatory training. She told Ethan that she had to stay longer than expected in Tennessee and he understood completely; it hurt her heart that he was let down by the fact.
She stretched and slowly got out of bed; her latest training session with Diana had been grueling: she learned the hard way that she was really holding back the last time they sparred. Before she could even think about going towards the door, more knocking was heard.
“Oh… my, God; keep your shirt on: I’m coming!” she half yelled; for all she knew, it could’ve been J’onn: she didn’t want to seem too rude to him! She let the door slide open and rubbed her eyes at the sudden invasion of light, “… Bruce. What’s up?” she yawned; she had refrained from telling him how she really felt about having her nap interrupted. Not saying a word, he walked inside her room and gently grabbed her arm before she headed back to bed.
“… Ethan may be in trouble…” he decided to get straight to the point. She was fully awake, now.
“Wait… what? What happened?”
“A few days ago… he was taken hostage by Joker…”
“I managed to get to him but… he really messed with his mind when he had him.”
“You’re just now telling me all this?! Bruce…”
“I thought that everything was fine with him… until now. I didn’t want to worry you if everything had ended up fine.”
“That freak kidnapped my boyfriend and you didn’t want to tell me?!” she hunted down a t-shirt to wrap around her hair; she was going to Gotham to see him whether Bruce liked it or not.
“I knew how you were going to react; I couldn’t. You’re going to go see him, aren’t you?” he asked. She stopped and gave him a look.
“You gonna stop me…?”
“I can only ask for you not to… I can’t force you to stay.” he realized, “Yin told me that he’s been locked in his apartment ever since the incident.”
“Wait… his apartment? He’s supposed to be in mine…”
“Yeah; I’m definitely gonna go check on him, now…” she didn’t give him time to argue as she walked out the door. He couldn’t tell her the entire story: The Penguin had told Joker who Nikki Strykher really was; he was the only one around to have heard Bruce call her by her real name. To lure her out, Joker took Ethan hostage… and everything was caught on tape. Bruce was worried that it was too soon to expose Tabitha to that type of situation and decided to handle things himself; he knew that he was doing the right thing.
“I’m coming with you.” he sighed as the two made their way to the teleportation pads.
When they made their way into the City Hall District and saw Ethan’s car parked in front of the apartment building, Tabitha sighed; it looked as if it hadn’t moved in days. They went inside and Bruce knocked on his door.
“Ethan? Hey, buddy; you in there?” he tried. He attempted to turn the knob but found the door locked. He knocked yet again until the two heard a small commotion from the other side, “You okay in there?”
“Bruce? I’m just… not feeling too good…” Ethan’s voice was muffled and harsh. They both wondered why he wouldn’t open the door. Tabitha lightly knocked on the door, resting her head on it to see if she would be able to hear more.
“Detective… could you open the door, please?” she tried.
“Yeah. I missed you, babe.”
“… I missed you, too…”
“What happened with you moving in with me?”
“… I… couldn’t stay there… without you…”
“Well… I’m back, now.” she made the decision that she would move back immediately, “Ethan, open the door; I don’t care about catching no cold…” she was partly worried and frustrated that he hadn’t opened the door.
“… What? Don’t you want to see me…?” she was confused. The last time they had spoken, while he was let down that she would be gone longer, he was all the eager to see her.
“I…. don’t want to… see… anyone. Would you... just leave?!” he actually yelled. She was taken aback at his sudden outburst; not once had he ever raised his voice at her, let alone pushed her away. It was enough to make her eyes misty.
“But, Ethan… I love you…” she managed. She waited for him to respond but when he didn’t, her tears finally fell. Bruce grabbed her shoulders.
“Come on; let’s go. Let’s give him his space…”
When he suggested that the two of them give the detective some space, Tabitha didn’t know that it would mean waiting on him for weeks. Three to be exact; for three weeks, he wouldn’t take anyone’s calls, not even his own girlfriend’s. When she made the decision to try to visit him at the station, it was there where she found out that Ethan hadn’t been there since his incident with Joker; he had been put on suspension for insubordination. Something was really wrong, she sensed. As frustrated as the police chief had made him, Ethan had never mouthed out at him.
When Tabitha told him what she found out, Bruce could only feign a look of surprise. He had already known what had happened between Ethan and Chief Rojas. Seeing that the hostage situation was caught on tape, Bruce had watched it again to see if he had missed something. Unfortunately, he had. When he made the decision to try to de-fuse the situation himself, he accidentally let a bit of Joker’s putty gun gas leak out; it was a new invention of his that had never been used on humans. He watched in slight disbelief as Ethan coughed when the gas went into his nostrils; he was sure that the detective got a lot of the toxins in his lungs. Seeing that the effects of the gas were unknown, Bruce wasn’t sure if Ethan was fine or if the gas did affect him badly. When Ethan didn’t want anyone helping him, he had a feeling that the gas, along with Joker’s taunting, had a neurological effect on him.
Bruce was half right. He didn’t know how much of it was the gas and how much of it was Joker’s words but Ethan’s mental state did change… as well as his physical being. He wouldn’t find that out until he investigated who was harassing and threatening Chief Rojas. At first, himself and Yin thought that it was Joker; the antics were almost identical. It wasn’t until she caved in and asked for Batman’s assistance that they found out that it was Ethan all along; he had transformed into a clay-like creature, capable of shape shifting into anyone… and anything he chose. After a bit of research, Bruce came up with a cryogenic-type solution that froze the man in place; he was captured and was awaiting trial.
He had no idea how to tell Tabitha about everything that had gone down in the mere three weeks since the last time they had spoken to Ethan; he figured that the best way would be the direct way. She was already heartbroken, had already figured that she had lost the man that she loved. It would be painful but he knew that it was something that she had to hear.
He found her in the cafeteria area, eating. She looked up at him and stopped chewing on her French fries; the look on his face said it all. She slowly finished her food and looked down at her plate.
“What happened to him?” she simply asked. He sighed and sat down beside her.
“He’s… transformed…” he looked dead at her. She gave him a weird look but then slightly sighed.
“… That’s why he wouldn’t open the door…” she realized and Bruce nodded; the transformation had been only a couple of hours after he had inhaled the gas, “Into what?” she was actually afraid of the answer. For him not to let his closest friends see him or even help him, she figured that it was something hideous.
“Clay. When I went to save him… I didn’t know that Joker’s putty gun had leaked out some gas. He got a pretty good whiff of it. It did some mental damage as well; it’s why he went after Rojas.”
“… I thought he just mouthed off at him?”
“He did, at first. But, after he transformed… he tried to kill him…”
“I know. We got him… and he’s awaiting trial…”
“He got arrested?” she looked at him and Bruce nodded. As much as she knew that it was wrong, part of her felt that Rojas deserved to have gotten threatened; he had put Ethan and Yin through so much pressure to try to rid the city of Batman and it wasn’t fair to push them the way that he did. She knew what it felt like to have vengeance just sitting there, heating up in the body until it finally toppled over; her heart went out to him, “Can he… have visitors?”
“Yes.” he was glad that she asked; he had made plans on visiting his friend. He knew how much the former detective had gone through and came up with another plan, “I want to tell him that I’m Batman. Maybe… just maybe it would calm down his mentality.”
“You sure?” she eyed him. He had a point; if Ethan found out that his best friend was the vigilante that he had been ordered to hunt down, it could very well put his mind at ease: the man had no problem with the caped crusader helping GCPD out. Then again, Tabitha realized, finding out that Bruce was the reason behind why Rojas had pushed them so much… could very well send his mental state over the edge. Maybe if another piece of the puzzle was revealed, he would take the news as kindly as possible.
“Then… I guess we’re all cleaning out our closets…”
When the two arrived at the Gotham Jail, they were surprised to be greeted by Yin. So much for revealing things, Tabitha almost smirked to herself. Yin gave Bruce a slight look but gave Tabitha a warm smile.
“I knew you’d want to see him. Are you sure you’re ready?” she was genuinely concerned. She knew how close the two were, how much they loved each other; she didn’t know how the technician would take seeing her boyfriend in the state that he was. Tabitha blew out a shaky breath and nodded.
“Cocked, locked and ready to rock…”
Yin led the two towards the back and were greeted by two officers standing guard by a glass door. Inside was a laboratory; it looked as if they had to redesign the forensics lab to house a special cell for Ethan. Tabitha looked in slight horror at the grey glob of clay that paced angrily in the glass cell. She quickly turned to look at Bruce and Yin.
“Is that… Ethan?!”
“Yes.” Yin sighed, “Maybe you’ll be enough to calm him down a little.” it was a subtle way of telling her to approach the glass. Her heart thumped as she did and it grabbed the glob’s attention. He stopped pacing and simply stared at Tabitha. He went through numerous emotions in a matter of seconds: surprise, embarrassment, relief, hurt and finally love; it was a mixture of the last two as he saw her eyes water.
“Ethan…” she half-whispered. She placed her hand on the glass. A part of his clay body did the same, Tabitha assumed that it was his hand. His once whiskey brown eyes were sunken into the clay, forming green orbs but they still showed emotion: he wanted to touch her once again. The desperation in his eyes were enough to make her tears fall; she wanted to touch him as well. She wanted to let him know that everything would be okay and that it wasn’t totally his fault for the things that happened to him. She wanted to let him know that she still loved him… and still wanted to be with him. She turned to Yin, “Let me in.” she demanded through her tears. The guards who were at the door were now inside and immediately showed their dissatisfaction with her request. However, Yin stepped forward.
“He won’t hurt her; go ahead.” she ordered. One of the officers unlocked the glass door and almost shoved Tabitha in, locking the door immediately behind her. She found herself alone with the glob that was once Ethan and found herself slightly afraid. When his clay hand reached out to her, she stiffened a bit.
“Tabitha…” his voice was gargled and hoarse. He saw that she was slightly uncomfortable in his presence and quickly turned around, “I… I didn’t want you to see me like this…”
“Then… let me see you the way you want me to see you.” she told him. He looked at her finally and immediately transformed to his former self. Coming towards her, the two embraced and shared a passionate kiss. She was surprised that he felt the same and marveled at how quickly he learned to adapt to his new form.
“After everything you heard… you came back to me…” he wanted to cry. She slightly smiled.
“That don’t matter. Told you that I’d come back to you; I love you, Ethan.”
“I love you, too. You… didn’t have to cut your trip short for me. I know that your mom…”
“Ethan…… I lied…” she couldn’t take telling him another lie. On their way to visit him, Bruce had told her the entire story… and she felt awful that it was mainly because of her that Ethan had transformed; had she not lost her cool with The Penguin, Joker would not had known who Nikki Strykher really was.
Ethan gave her a puzzled look, wondering what reasons she would have to lie to him.
“You weren’t in Tennessee this whole time…? I don’t understand…”
“… Do you know where Watchtower is?” she took a shaky breath before speaking. He nodded slowly, “I was there.”
“I still don’t understand; why would you tell me…” he was clueless. She felt that the only way to tell him would be to show him. She looked back at Yin and Bruce; the woman’s face was as puzzled as Ethan’s while Bruce just stared at her. She was about to reveal her identity in front of Yin and had hoped that she was willing to deal with the consequences of doing so.
Tabitha stepped away from Ethan, took another deep breath and yanked her t-shirt head wrap off of her head, letting her snow-white hair drop messily around her face. Both Yin and Ethan stared wide-eyed at her.
“The lightning woman! Did you know?” Yin threw an accusing eye towards Bruce. He put on his best surprised look.
“N-no; this is all new to me! No wonder she was good at what she did…”
“Bat’s sidekick…” at least he got the answer finally to why she always wore that head wrap. Tabitha didn’t want to look at him but did and saw that he was frozen in place. He didn’t attack her or even yell at her; she wanted to take that as a good thing, “Why didn’t you tell me before…?”
“I… I wanted to but… I didn’t know how. I’m sorry…”
“Why…” he approached her slowly. He didn’t know how he felt about it; all he knew was that for some reason, he wasn’t upset. He also finally put two and two together; why Joker was so adamant about her coming to save him. He didn’t understand at first; he didn’t know what she would be able to do to save him. As he stared at her hair, remembering the first night he had seen her, he understood completely. What made him shake his head and almost smile was that… he should’ve went with his first instinct that the lightning woman was indeed his Tabitha.
“I wanted to make your life easier. I thought that… if I could catch Batman or at least show that he wasn’t bad then maybe… maybe Rojas would’ve cut you some slack.” it was the first time Bruce had heard the reason behind her playing super heroine in Gotham. Even Yin had to lightly smile at her reasoning, “So… you ain’t mad at me…?” Tabitha tried. He responded by cupping her face and giving her a light kiss on the lips.
“No! Baby… you did all of that for me. I’m a bit upset that you didn’t tell me earlier…”
“You would’ve talked me outta it…”
“I would’ve!” he laughed and hugged her. Ethan had to admit that it was thrilling to know that his girlfriend was the lightning woman; the very one who tried her best not to hit himself and his former partner with her ability the first time they seen her. The very one… who was always with Batman. It made him slightly smile, leaning as close to her ear as possible, “Do you know who Batman is?” he whispered. It made her think about the conversation in the cafeteria as well as the ride to the jail. Bruce had made up his mind and was going to tell his good friend. However, she knew that with Yin and the other officers in the room, Bruce couldn’t confess. She didn’t see a problem with it being her instead of him telling Ethan; he took her news pretty well.
“Yeah. It’s… Bruce…” she whispered back. He stopped hugging her and looked dead into her eyes with a hint of a smile. Was she joking, he wondered. Although he was a former detective, he could still tell when someone was lying; her eyes didn’t flinch as he studied her. Ethan’s expression changed to a confused one.
Yin may not have caught it but Bruce did; the two were whispering to each other. He had a feeling about what; it started to burn into his stomach as Ethan slowly glanced at him. He was studying him, he knew for a fact. Tabitha had taken the liberty in telling him herself who Batman was. He didn’t know if he was grateful for it; he didn’t like how Ethan stared at him. Bruce swallowed hard and started to approach the glass cell.
Before anyone could blink, Ethan transformed back to his clay form. She had opened her mouth but an appendage wrapped around her neck before a sound came out. He had forgotten that she was in the room with him as she was slammed hard into the glass wall; he simply glared at Bruce.
“You! You were supposed to be my friend! How could you?!” he raged; all the while the appendage wrapped around Tabitha’s neck started to harden, making her gag for air.
“Open the door!!” Yin yelled at the fear-frozen officers. One finally rushed to do so while Yin and the other officer raised their weapons, “Tabitha, shock him!!” she had hoped that the woman was conscious enough to do so. However she didn’t move except to try to claw the appendage away from her throat. She had made a promise… and no matter what was happening to her, she wasn’t going to break it.
As Ethan emerged from the door, the officers and Yin fired on him; Bruce was glad that the guards had been equipped with special weapons that would stop him in his tracks. As the bullets entered his clay form, they began to freeze him. He had to act fast; Bruce ran into the glass cell and pried Tabitha out of his grasp: with the bullets quickly freezing Ethan, he had become distracted long enough to loosen his grip on his girlfriend. Bruce had her out of the cell and her head wrap back around her head just as other officers flooded the room. He looked at her as she tried to get her breathing back to normal.
“What were you thinking; why didn’t you shock him? He could’ve killed you…” he half whispered. Tears welled up in her eyes as she shook her head.
“I… I wasn’t going to hurt him… ever again…”
Bruce had informed J’onn of everything that had happened. The Martian just looked straight ahead as the two made their way to her room.
“That’s why she hasn’t been able to concentrate.” he finally had the answer. He had known that something drastic had happened two weeks ago; something that distracted her from her training. She had barely completed the mandatory training sessions however because her thoughts were jumping all over the place, making her unable to fully focus, he wanted to put her through more training.
“I was wondering… maybe she should be kept off a few missions. Just until she’s able to fully concentrate.”
“Who is to say how long that will be? What if she never recovers from her heartache?”
“I know Tabitha; she’ll recover. She just needs a little time to collect her thoughts.”
“I guess we could assign her to minor missions. Maybe put her on crowd control and cleanup…” J’onn thought. Bruce slightly smiled.
“She’s also an outstanding electrical technician…” he pointed out.
“Let’s talk to her about it. It would be nice; having another one of our own taking care of Watchtower…”
“Maybe you should start trusting humans more…”
“Once you do the same, I will follow in your footsteps…” he smirked at Bruce.
She didn’t know what she would’ve done with herself if Bruce didn’t take the time to check up on her after the ordeal with Ethan. Despite what happened that day, Bruce still stood up for Ethan during his trial and the former detective was put on probation.
Tabitha couldn’t help but to replay the incident over and over in her head; it painfully reminded her of how she would lose it. She finally saw firsthand how rage affected others; he had no idea that he was hurting her… and he wasn’t stopping. It scared her enough to make the decision that she was not coming back to Gotham… or Ethan Bennett. It was painful; many days, she just wanted to pack her clothes and go back to him: he sure did need the support at the moment. However, how was she to live with the fact that although his probation included that he not transform into anything, he could still lose it and snap? She couldn’t; neither could he: they both made the mutual agreement to break up.
She got up from her bed to open her door. When she saw that Bruce was being accompanied by J’onn, she automatically tried to make her mind go blank. It was a hard task seeing that she loved to think to herself. However, she knew that the Martian had enough on his hands; he didn’t need to worry about some heartbroken newbie.
She put on a faint smile as she let the two in. She slightly warmed up as Bruce sat down beside her on the bed.
“How are you?” he asked. She shrugged; while it was a slow and painful process, she was learning to try to move on.
“A bit better, I guess. Wait…” she looked over at J’onn who stood by the wall and back at Bruce, “You told him…?”
“He needed to know why you couldn’t concentrate.” he explained. Tabitha could do nothing but nod.
“Guess you’re not here to give me some advice…” she hadn’t meant for it to be cruel. However, she had a feeling that although he had human features, there were just some situations that he would have no answer for.
Her unintentional snide remark only made him think of his past. He had to admit that she was right; he wouldn’t be able to give her any good advice. The Martian had indeed been married before with a child until the destruction of his race. He had only fallen in love once after that but had chalked that experience up to a mixture of being slightly brainwashed and lonely. The experience made him think more about his decisions as well as his trust in humans. He had concluded that he would never find anyone for him and was fine with that.
Bruce smirked at her words but knew that he would be even less helpful than J’onn. His track record in the love department was not any better. If anything, he tried to avoid falling in love. As he had seen with Tabitha and Ethan, it proved quite a distraction; she loved him so much that she was willing to die so that she wouldn’t hurt him.
“I wish I could…” J’onn actually tried to think of something to tell her.
“You know that none of this was your fault, Tabitha…”
“That don’t make it less painful…” she fought tears. Deep down, she knew that Bruce was just being nice. It was her fault; had she had better control of her rage, The Penguin would had never found out her true identity. Ethan would have not been kidnapped and they probably would have been engaged.
“It’ll leave; trust me. And then maybe… well, I know someone else will come along! Who knows; he could be right underneath your nose…” it made him smile. He immediately thought about how Wally had quickly grown attached to Tabitha. He knew that the man was quick to befriend people but she was different. Everyone saw that their bond was fast and special… as well as childish! The two raced each other whenever they had the chance (which was very, very often), even ignoring the warning glares J’onn would give them! The Martian was very reluctant in letting Wally train her in fear of the two not getting any training done. However, he did see that he was helping her with her speed. Both Bruce and J’onn saw that Wally had not been so genuinely happy before Tabitha arrived.
She thought nothing of his words at first, about to excuse it as Bruce trying to make her feel better. However, as the words sank in, she had to give him a slight look. Right underneath her nose; was he hinting at himself? The thought made her wonder how Bruce truly felt about her; she knew that they were friends and that they were willing to protect each other. As far as any romantic link between the two, she had never thought about it. Maybe it was because she was too wrapped up in Ethan to make some type of realization. It made her laugh a bit at the idea.
“Guess I’ll take your word for it! Thanks, Bruce…” she said. His words also made her think back to everything he had done for her: the on-the-spot job offer, getting the apartment, always inviting her to eat at the diner with him; even assigning her as his personal electrician. She was a complete stranger, a potentially dangerous one given her powers, and he didn’t hesitate in hiring her or even befriending her. She knew that she was pretty; she got enough compliments throughout her life to know this; however she knew and saw that it went beyond that with Bruce. What he just said had to be an obvious hint: Bruce Wayne really was in love with her! It made her blush and hug him.
“Anytime.” he returned the hug.
“In the meanwhile, I wanted to give you a slight rest. I don’t want to assign you to any major missions just yet, not until you’re comfortable enough to go on them. Would you mind looking at some of the electrical components around Watchtower?”
“You putting me on house arrest…?” it actually bothered her that it felt as if he was trying to babysit her. However, the Martian shook his head.
“I don’t want to exclude you from all missions; only the large ones. It’s only temporary.” he tried. She thought about what he said. She had to admit that she was distracted by her heartbreak. J’onn was only looking out for her well-being and she figured that it was the only way he knew to show that he actually cared about her. She gave him a slight nod and a smile.
“Actually… that sounds good…”
She was glad that she was recommended to look over some of the electrical and electronic units on Watchtower; it kept her mind off of Ethan and on the jobs that she was assigned. As she finished yet another system configuration for one of the many computer systems, she mentally went over her checklist: she promised Diana that she would take a look at the woman’s gauntlet that she had scratched. When she finished with that, she realized that it was Thursday: that meant it was her and Wally’s game night!
Tabitha started to pack up her toolbox but became distracted as she saw a red blur out the corner of her eye. She smirked.
“Wally…” she playfully warned. He appeared in front of her and smiled.
“With the upgrades for the day; yeah. Gotta go see Diana and…”
“She’ll have to wait until tomorrow. I got the greatest idea… ever! Instead of game night, how ‘bout we go out?”
“Go out? Like out, out? Club-type shit?”
“I don’t know; are we allowed…?” she tried but he started laughing.
“What are we, teens?! Yes, we’re allowed! Maybe your friend would want to come out, too…”
“Doc? She can’t go; she has kids…”
“We’ll just get J’onn to babysit; he likes kids…” he waved it off. The image was enough to make her go into stitches.
“Do you know how much shit the trips gave me for my white hair? You know what they’d do when they see a fucking seven foot tall Martian?!”
“He’s only what, six-seven; six-eight? Nowhere near seven foot…”
“Whatever; you still setting him up for failure!” it made her laugh still. Tabitha shook her head as she tried to calm down, “I’ll give her a call.”
“Does that mean…”
“Yeah; she’s gotta help me pick something out to wear!”
She was glad that her best friend was able to go out with the two; the three were in a club in Metropolis and were having the time of their lives. It was something that she hadn’t done… ever; ever since entering adulthood, Tabitha had no real interest in the club scene. She only started drinking socially when she met the professor and it was rare to see her with any type of drink. When she noticed that Bruce didn’t drink at all (although he made sure that the paparazzi always caught him with a drink in his hand, he never even put his lips to the glass), it curbed her drinking even more.
So, she was surprised that she found herself slightly tipsy as she made her way off the dance floor and back to their table. She knew that the pitcher of beer the three were sharing was low; however, as she sat down, Wally pushed a full glass of it towards her: the pitcher was filled to the brim. She looked around and back at Wally.
“… Why do you always call her that? Doesn’t she have a name?” his question made her giggle.
“That’s how she introduced herself to me!”
“Oh. She’s in the restroom. Something about beer going right through her…”
“Hmm…” she looked at the full pitcher. How many had they gone through already? She knew that she had a few glasses but she knew that the professor and Wally had almost double what she had! It was no wonder the woman was running back and forth to the restrooms.
“Tabby?” Wally saw that her attention went elsewhere. She slightly raised her eyebrows at him, “You don’t need to be so down, you know? There’s plenty of fish in the sea! And… you got a shark after you right now!” he continued. She gave him a look.
“What you getting at?”
“Really! You mean to tell me that you haven’t noticed?! Well… if it’s gone over your head, I won’t say anything else!”
“That ain’t fair! How you gonna bring it up and drop it?!” she stared at him. He ignored her, looking away and sipping on his beer. She smirked, “It’s you, ain’t it?!” it was enough to make him choke on his beer.
“What?! No! I mean, don’t get me wrong; you’re really pretty and all that! But, I think of you as a sister! We have way too much fun together to be… together, you know?” he reassured. She leaned back in the chair and shrugged.
“You’re right. So… this shark… how big we talking?”
“I told you I wasn’t going to say anything else…”
“Not even a hint?!”
“Fine! Think great white!” he motioned dramatically. Although she laughed, it made her think about Bruce. It has to be him, she thought to herself.
“I think I know who you’re talking about. So… what do I do, then?”
“You like him, right?” he asked. She took a huge sip from her glass and thought about it. Of course, she did but she had never thought of him in that way. He was her boss and her friend; she respected both aspects. She would’ve been blind not to see how handsome he was. It was no wonder women threw themselves at him; being extremely rich helped out as well! She never took into consideration just how much so until she found out that he funded the building of Watchtower; it was no wonder Wally thought of him as a “shark”!
“I guess I do…”
“Well, that solves that! Go after him! Let him know how you feel.”
“I don’t think I’m ready to just jump into another relationship like that…” she had to be honest with herself.
“At least tell him that you’re interested. I’d think he would understand! Besides, just think about the benefits you’ll have as his main squeeze when the time comes!” he smiled and winked at her. She blushed, pushing him slightly but couldn’t help thinking about those benefits.
She would’ve thought that she would’ve been hung over from all the drinking the three did. She found out that it was not the case as she made her way to Diana’s room the following early afternoon. She smiled at Tabitha as her door opened.
“Weren’t you supposed to be here yesterday?”
“Shit! Forgot to tell you! Me and Wally went out…” she started but Diana laughed a little and shook her head.
“Should’ve known! Come on in.” she let the young woman in. Tabitha couldn’t help but to look around the room, which was garnished with items that she had only read about during mythology lessons in school; all that time, she thought that they were just that: myths, “I see that you’re looking better.” Diana continued. Tabitha turned around and smiled.
“Not one hundred percent but I’m getting there. It’s all thanks to Wally… and Bruce.” it made her smile thinking about him, “He’s been there for me from the start of the whole thing. And then last night, Wally pointed out how he really felt about me…”
“Oh! So, Wally finally confessed!” Diana’s words surprised Tabitha. She thought about what she had just said and laughed slightly.
“No; me and Wally are just friends. What I meant was that he pointed out how Bruce really felt about me.”
“He said that Bruce is in love with you?” she was shocked. Tabitha picked up on the change of tone and looked at her.
“… Not in those exact words. Is he… not supposed to feel that way towards me?” she wondered if they had a sort of fraternization code like the military. However, if that was the case, why would Wally point it out, telling her to pursue the idea?
“It’s just a little hard to believe… especially seeing that I’ve been after his heart for the longest. I figured that I would’ve known if he had feelings for someone else; Bruce isn’t the type of person to lead someone on.” Diana explained. Tabitha hid her slight disappointment and had to agree with her; Bruce was not the type of person to mislead someone. If he had feelings for Diana, she wouldn’t want to be in the way. It was a longshot anyway, she told herself as she shrugged.
“Guess he was seeing something that wasn’t there. I told him that Bruce was just being friendly…”
“He likes to look out for those he cares for. So… I will like to see how you can fix this!” Diana gave her the golden bracelet. Tabitha studied it and slightly smiled.
She had to find out for herself. It still haunted her that Wally would point her in Bruce’s direction; there had to be a specific reason for it. For all she knew, he didn’t know about everything that Bruce had done for her. She had found him in one of the recreation rooms, watching TV; he had just come back from a mission and was winding down a bit, still in his Batman outfit without the mask. He looked up and smiled at Tabitha.
“Can I talk to you… alone?” she saw that there were a few Justice League members roaming about. He shrugged, nodded and followed her out into the hallway.
“Is everything okay?” he was worried about the way she approached him; she had this look of unsureness.
“… Do you like me?” she bluntly asked. He found it a bit weird that she needed to have this confirmed but smiled anyway.
“Of course I…”
“No; like me, like me…”
“… Oh.” part of him wanted to laugh at the way she asked, as if she was still a teenager. Maybe the subject embarrassed her; she was turning slightly red as she waited for his answer, “I’m sorry if I misled you in any way but I consider you my good friend; that’s it.”
“So… you and Diana are…”
“What? No. Diana and I are just friends as well. I… have this thing about dating Justice League members; I don’t do it. There’s too much at risk for me to do it. I…” Bruce thought carefully about his words. She was a close friend of his now; he shouldn’t be ashamed of telling her everything, “I don’t know how I would take it if a villain used my love for someone else as leverage.”
“I get it.” she actually did. It was better for him to stay friends with someone, especially a member of the Justice League.
“Did someone tell you that I had feelings for you?”
“… Kinda. That damn Wally…”
“Wait; Wally put that idea in your head? That’s who I was hinting at the other day!” it made him laugh. She widened her eyes at him.
“Why would you think that?!”
“Admit it; you two have a lot in common.”
“He’s like a brother to me…”
“So, nothing going on between you two?”
“Ew; no!” her reaction made him laugh fully. He could imagine Wally reacting the same way; the two were definitely teenagers at heart.
She couldn’t stop thinking about it. Who was Wally hinting towards? Every time she tried to ask, he would either immediately change the subject or simply tell her that he wasn’t saying another word. “Think great white”. It only made her think about the founding members; she knew that it had to be one of them. Bruce and Wally were out of the equation; they both told her how they really felt about her. That left Superman (he told her that she was allowed to call him Clark or Kal-El, whichever one made her feel more comfortable), Diana, Green Lantern (who preferred for her to call him John) and J’onn (she wasn’t worried about the last member; seeing that she didn’t know who it was, they were a non-factor).
Diana was out because she was obviously in love with Bruce (plus Tabitha didn’t think that she was bisexual). Clark was in love with Lois Lane, a fellow reporter at The Daily Planet; she wasn’t even around him much for him to grow some sort of infatuation towards her. She and John had a couple of things in common; both were in the military. However, he was dating Vixen, another Justice League member. The only one left… was J’onn.
Tabitha shook her head at the thought. No way; J’onn J’onzz was not in love with her! There was absolutely no way, she tried to reason. They were the total opposite of each other; they were two different species (that thought only made her slightly giggle, thinking about what the professor had to say on that matter)! He was super intelligent; he always helped her with any problem she had with a computer system (she found out that most of the technology onboard was Martian technology as it was): she had to have a lot of things broken down to layman’s terms for her to understand it! She had never seen him get mad or even confused whereas before her rehabilitation, she was quick to lose her temper, not caring who was in her path. She was pretty sure that she had changed drastically since her treatment but the fact still remained that she was capable of losing her temper.
She thought about the other qualities the Martian had and couldn’t help but to blush. He was indeed very handsome; that was obvious from her earlier bouts of blushing whenever he looked at her! He was always calm, even when she felt that she worked his last nerves; that was a quality that she admired. While there had been no indications on who was the clear leader of the Justice League, everyone respected J’onn and took his word as gold, no matter what. If she thought about it, even his voice could send shivers up and down her spine! She didn’t know if she was actually in love with him but Tabitha had to be fair and not shoot down the idea. It made her realize what Wally meant when he mentioned the benefits she would have; being the girlfriend of the Monitor of Watchtower was nothing to shake a stick at!
She tried to push her thoughts to the side as she took a long awaited break from upgrading one of the recreation rooms. She had a lot on her plate that day and didn’t see the harm in kicking her feet up on the loveseat. As she stretched and decided to turn the TV on, she saw that she wasn’t alone; looking into the eyes of J’onn made her immediately straighten up.
“Oh! J’onn! I… I was just taking a small break…” her stumbling made him smile.
“You’re not a part of the civilian staff; there’s no need to be on a set schedule. You’re allowed to take breaks!” he smiled down at her, “Which, I’m glad that you’re doing; I have a small training session for you.”
“Oh… okay…” she slightly shrugged, following him to one of the tables. It was then that she noticed he had a box with him. As he sat down and opened it, she slightly smirked, “Oh… I don’t know how to play chess…”
“I know. This is why I’m going to teach you.” he announced as he started to set the pieces up. She gave him a look but sat down across from him, anyway.
“It’s good to exercise your brain as well as your body.”
“Oh.” she had to admit that it made sense. Her eyes suddenly widened and then narrowed at the Martian, “It won’t be fair…” she realized. He stopped setting up the pieces and returned the look which made her laugh and point to her head, “Mind reader, remember?” she pointed out. It was enough to make him laugh.
“It’s not fun if I have to cheat.”
“Oh? So, this ain’t fully business…”
“Hmm… I guess not…” he gave her a small smirk. It made her blush heavily but she returned the smirk, being warmed at the fact that the two were spending time together, “First things first: let me explain the pieces…”
An hour later, the two were engaged in a practice game. Tabitha stared at her knight, trying to remember how it moved. She tried to pay as much attention as possible while he explained the moves of each piece however she knew that she wouldn’t grasp everything in one sitting. She slightly bit her lip as she attempted to move the piece but became flustered as J’onn laid a gentle hand over hers.
“No. Remember; the knight moves two paces up and one pace to the left or right.” he corrected. She frowned up at her blunder but nodded.
“Right, right! See; I told you I was a rock!” she mentioned and he laughed.
“It takes some getting used to; I never expected for you to master chess in an hour! You’re not a rock!” he reassured and she smiled. She tried to figure out the consequences of her move as well as thought of something else that had been on her mind since meeting him.
“Can I… ask you something?”
“… Why are you called a ‘Manhunter’?”
“It’s what detectives were called on Mars.”
“You were a detective?”
“… Cool…” she wondered how ironic that was; it didn’t guarantee that the two would be together but Tabitha couldn’t shake the coincidence. She finally made her move and put her head in her hands, hoping that it was a right one, “Can I ask you something else?”
“Of course. Whatever you want to know.” it slightly surprised him that she was interested in learning more about him.
“H-How do you feel about… Justice League members dating?” she made the decision to semi beat around the bush; she couldn’t bring herself to asking him outright if he found her attractive or even if he liked her in the way that Wally thought that he did. J’onn analyzed her move and question at the same time; he could feel that the question made her nervous and wondered why.
“I don’t have anything against it. This isn’t the military so there’s no need to worry about fraternization here. I’ve seen that it’s a personal preference; some feel that being in love complicates things while others don’t.” he explained. She nodded and finally looked at him.
“G-Given the chance… w-would you…” she felt her cheeks ache as she asked. The question took his attention away from the game completely; no one ever wanted to know these things about him. He looked dead at her.
“Do you know if someone is attracted to me, Tabitha?” he usually didn’t let curiosity get the best of him. However, this was a special circumstance; this was a matter of love. When he saw that she turned a slight shade of red from his question, even attempting to shy away from him, J’onn didn’t have to use his ability to figure out the answer, “I see. I’m quite flattered that you’re attracted to me. To say that this is unexpected may be an understatement; I assumed that you were attracted to Wally…”
“Why does everyone think that?! Me and Wally are just friends!” she sighed out heavily, “Don’t get me wrong; I… do find you attractive. But… Wally was the one who kinda pointed it out that… you’re attracted to me.”
“Wally told you that I was attracted to you?” it surprised him.
“Not in so many words…”
“I should apologize; he was under the wrong impression. Maybe he looked too much into the two of us being around each other so much. I would like to be considered your friend. It never dawned on me to attempt a relationship with you…”
“You don’t have to explain anymore; I get it. I knew it was a silly thought…” she couldn’t look at him. He didn’t know what it was; was it sympathy that he felt for her? J’onn gave her a warm smile and made her look at him, gently tipping her head up by her chin.
“It was not silly at all. You have a warm personality and you’re very attractive; it was highly possible for anyone here to be attracted to you, including myself. You shouldn’t be so hard on yourself. I believe that Wally was only trying to cheer you up.” he tried to reassure. She thought about it and nodded.
“I guess so.”
“So, you’re fine with the two of us being friends?” he really wanted to know. She slowly smiled and nodded.
“I’ll accept that. Now… you gonna make a move or what?” her brashness took him off guard. He narrowed his eyes at her but couldn’t help finally smiling at her.