Gary “Alpha” First was taken into custody and sentenced for his crimes. Tabitha learned that he had indeed escaped from stockade; he had promised a guard to transform him: unfortunately, the serum and the procedure had deadly side effects. His journey to New York was similar to hers; while she went to find a cure, he was searching for a better antidote. Before trial, he had been ruled incompetent to stand trial and was pleaded guilty by way of insanity. It wasn’t the justice she had in mind for him but she was relieved that he would no longer be on the streets to cause any more damage to someone else.
The children that did survive the massive attack had luck on their side; Peter knew of a geneticist who was able to come up with a cure for them. Tabitha wanted to slap herself; all she had to do was confess to him in the beginning about what she was and he could’ve introduced the two earlier! Dr. Castillo secretly dealt with superheroes and had no problem performing the procedure to cure Tabitha as well.
She was excited yet nervous; she had only been fighting crime for a little over a year but it already came second nature to her. It was because of her mutant powers that she was even able to create the masterpieces in her art classes; she was going to miss that ability. On the other hand, she was getting exactly what she wanted: she was going to be normal again. She had so many options to look into after going back to normal; going back home was one of them.
Jamila knocked on the room door and let herself in. Tabitha was sitting up in the hospital bed, talking to Peter and Mary Jane. She smiled at the professor.
“Doc!” she received a huge hug from her friend, “What you doing here?”
“You actually thought I would miss this? No way!” she smiled. She switched glances from Tabitha to Peter and slightly blushed. Tabitha sighed a little and laughed.
“P, Dr. Lindsey; doc, P…” she introduced. The two shook hands.
“I hope you don’t mind that I know…” Jamila started but Peter shook his head.
“If Tabby Cat trusts you, then I trust you!” he smiled.
“I want to thank you… for looking after her like this…”
“Not my doing; I’m just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man…”
“I’m not a child, doc!” Tabitha said with exasperation but laughed along with the three, “Is it okay if I talk to P for a minute?” she looked at the two women. The two nodded and left the room. She looked at Peter and grabbed his hand, “I actually never got a chance to thank you, myself.”
“It was nothing; that’s what friends do, right?”
“P… you shouldn’t have been dragged into all this. I… fucked up, big time. I should’ve stopped and listened…” she tried to apologize. He hugged her tightly.
“How many times do I have to tell you that it’s my job?” he lightly smiled, “You know… we actually make one hell of a team. Castillo said that she could evaluate you more extensively; find out what’s really behind the rage. Are you sure you want to go through with this?” he asked her sincerely. She looked down at the bed for a moment and then back up at him.
“I really had fun; I did. But… I’m kinda tired. I wanna be normal, again. I wanna see my family. I don’t wanna have to always be careful not to shock someone whenever I touch ’em…” she told him. While it did become second nature to her, it was still a lot of work to go through the methods that Dr. Lindsey taught her in the beginning, “Maybe one day… I’ll get bit by a radioactive bug; get my powers legitimately…” she winked at him. He laughed and lightly pushed her.
“You… never thought about being normal again?” she wondered. He shrugged the idea away.
“I kind of like being Spider-Man. I enjoy being a hero and helping people. I’m stronger than what I used to be. If I wasn’t Spider-Man… I would just be Peter Parker. Boring, average… weak Peter Parker.”
“Well… some of us actually like that boring, average… smart and practical Peter Parker.”
“If I remembered correctly… someone liked how Spider-Man looked in his suit…” he eyed her. She blushed but pushed him away as he laughed. A light knock on the door had both looking up. Dr. Castillo walked in and smiled at Tabitha.
“Miss Lyght, are we ready?” she asked. Tabitha sighed but gave her a smile.
“Cocked, locked and ready to rock!”
A week had passed since she went through the procedure however she knew that something wasn’t right. Dr. Castillo insisted that she stayed in the hospital for almost around the clock observation. The pins and needles feeling was gone, which made her very hopeful. Unfortunately, it was the only thing that had left.
Dr. Castillo walked into her room with her all familiar smile. No matter the situation, she always tried to look optimistic about things.
“Miss Lyght, can you charge up for me?” she simply asked, closing the door. She wasn’t surprised to see the flow of currents form around her hands. Tabitha sighed and looked at the doctor.
“I don’t get it. You cured those kids, how come I’m not cured? Or… is this a slow-going process?”
“Tabitha… the procedure that I used on those children… it’s pretty much useless on you. Your strand is far more advanced which means a different procedure needs to be done. Which means…”
“More research…” she huffed out. Dr. Castillo slowly nodded.
“I’ll admit, the original procedure was not easy. So, this won’t be a walk in the park. You’ll have to stay here longer, let us run even more tests…” she explained further. Tabitha thought about her words. She knew not to ask how much longer; it had taken them a week to come up with the original antidote. She started debating if it would be worth staying in the hospital. It wouldn’t; she really needed to be home.
“Well… I guess that’s that, then.”
“Okay. I wasn’t sure if you would’ve been willing to…”
“I’m… not staying…” she decided. Dr. Castillo looked at her.
“You changed your mind about being cured?”
“No. I wanna get cured but… I need to see my family. I miss ‘em and… I gotta be with ‘em. They’ll just have to see me like this. They gotta know the truth about what happened to me. I got about a little under a year to get cured; I can put it on hold for a little bit.” she explained. Dr. Castillo sighed but nodded.
“If that’s how you really feel, Tabitha; I have no right to stop you. I’m pretty sure that Peter’s going to miss you.”
“Yeah. Do me a favor, doc: don’t tell him that the procedure didn’t work. Just… tell him that everything went fine and I just left early. I don’t need him worrying about things; I’ve done enough…”
She looked around the bus depot and sighed a little. She turned down Dr. Lindsey’s offer to drive her to Chattanooga; it made no sense for her to do so. Although she didn’t like the last time she traveled by bus, she had no other choice. She looked at the board, noting the arrival and departure times for Chattanooga. Maybe she wanted to go back to Memphis; she knew that Jamila would have cursed her for talking her out of coming to get her but the children would be elated to have her back.
As she searched for Memphis, she ran across an unfamiliar town: Gotham City. Something tugged at her as she stared at the name, tried to sound it out in her mind. Something was there for her, she could feel it.
“Buying a ticket, miss?” the guy behind the counter asked, not bothering to look up from his newspaper. She kept her eyes on the board.
“Yeah. A one-way ticket to Gotham City in the morning.” she finally decided. It was enough to make the man look up from his newspaper and study her in more detail.
“Hmm. You don’t look like someone from Gotham City…”
“And… that means I can’t get a ticket…?” it made her decision even more intriguing; people from Gotham City had a certain look? She was definitely interested in going to the city, then!
She had arrived in Gotham City the next afternoon. It was actually a large island, and while both New York and New Jersey fought for the rights to the island, it was technically located in New Jersey. There were two bridges that connected the city to the “outside world”; she had arrived via the northern New Trigate Bridge that connected Gotham City to New York. She didn’t know if it was a good or a bad thing that the first thing the bus passed by was a place called Arkham Asylum; she tried to put her attention elsewhere, telling herself that she would avoid the area as much as possible.
When she thought about it, the city really stayed true to its name; when Tabitha first heard of Gotham City, the one word that went through her head was “gothic”. As she got off the bus, she noticed that there was a slight haze that lingered in the area; she actually noticed it when they were within the city limits. The overall atmosphere seemed grim and dark, even though the sun was out. Gothic-like buildings reigned in Gotham City, some looking more than a hundred years old. She didn’t like the vibe coming from the downtown area so she kept a close tab on her bags.
Something had been bothering her the entire trip to Gotham City. She knew that she had to call Jamila and let her know of her change of plans… but there was someone else she needed to speak to…
“Lyght residence.” the way her mother answered the phone hadn’t changed, not even in tone. It was as if she was answering her office phone; polite and professional. Tabitha wiped at her eyes and cleared her throat.
“… Mom…” she smiled.
“… T-Tabitha…? Oh, dear Lord; Tabby, is this really you?!”
“Yeah; hi, mom…”
“CURTIS!!” it was the first time she ever heard emotion in her mother’s voice, “Curtis, pick up the phone; it’s our daughter!!” she yelled. Tabitha heard the other phone being picked up.
“I hope this isn’t some trick…” her father’s voice was strong and stern, as always. She couldn’t help it; the tears fell down her cheeks.
“H-hey, daddy…” she was almost choked up.
“Oh… it is her! I know my sweetheart’s voice! Baby, where are you? Are you okay? Are you hurt? Are you in jail? Are you even in the states…” the questions sprayed out of her mother’s mouth. She laughed a bit.
“Mom, mom, mom; I’m fine! I’m fine…” she tried to reassure. She took a deep breath; she just wanted to let them know that she was at least still alive, “There’s a lot I gotta tell you guys… but I can’t right now…”
“Are you on the run? Is the line tapped? Is that why you can’t say anything?” her dad’s deep southern twang made her laugh a little.
“Daddy! No! I’m not on the run and I’m not in any trouble. It’s just… it’s just that what I have to tell you is too much to tell you over the phone.”
“Oh, honey; come home, then…” her mother pleaded. She shook her head and realized that they couldn’t see her doing so.
“I can’t. Not right now. I got some… things to take care of before I do.” she lied. She had no idea what she would find in Gotham City; all she knew was that she had a nagging feeling to be there instead of back in Tennessee.
“Liv, she’s pregnant. Our baby girl’s pregnant…”
“… you’re not thinking about getting rid of the baby, are you?! Tabitha Nicole Lyght, if you take away my grandbaby…”
“MOM! I’m not pregnant; geez!” she sighed and slightly laughed; it was like them to be overdramatic and automatically assume things, “I’ll come home soon; I promise. And then I can explain everything…”
It took her thirty minutes to persuade her parents not to call any of her brothers but she still walked out of the bus depot with a smile on her face; at least they knew that she was fine. However, now she had a bigger problem at hand: where to go in this dank city. She had to admit that she hadn’t thought this all the way through: she didn’t have a place to stay or even a job. She knew that the professor would give her a few bucks here and there but she didn’t want to depend on her for that.
She had quickly studied the map inside of the bus depot; she didn’t want to look like a tourist. Coming out of the station, she opted to go left instead of towards the Gotham City Police Department.; she figured that nothing good would be in that area as it was (she had noticed a trend in every city that the zones surrounding police stations weren’t always the best of neighborhoods). She walked until she saw a massive building, one that actually looked modern. “Wayne Enterprises” the sign read; she had noticed that quite a few areas had “Wayne” in them and deducted that they either were early settlers of the city or the ones who ran the city currently, money-wise.
She slightly shrugged as she walked inside the building; it would be the perfect place to look for a job. She looked around and soon felt extremely out of place; everyone there was in business attire. She, on the other hand, was wearing a long sleeved shirt, blue jeans and her signature head wrap. Her book bag was idly flung across one shoulder and her army green duffle bag over the other; she felt like a bum.
Tabitha received an immediate scoff from a security guard after she passed through the double panel security tower; she found it odd that it didn’t go off.
“Do you have any business here?” he wasted no time being rude with her. Tabitha slightly raised an eyebrow and put the thought of giving him a quick shock to the back of her mind; it would only provoke the other guard sitting at the adjacent desk.
“Not really. I was just wondering if you knew of any jobs…”
“You can go to the library; post an application and résumé there.” he all but physically pushed her away. She held her tongue as she turned away; maybe she didn’t want to work there, after all, she thought to herself. She was too busy fuming in her head about how he treated her that she bumped into someone.
“Oh! Sorry…” she apologized and looked at the man. He was actually what she had expected of a typical Hollywood movie star: tall, somewhat tanned, lean and very handsome. He was dressed somewhat business casual, wearing dark slacks with a matching jacket that was open. His cream dress shirt was unbuttoned at the top, the collar laying perfectly against the jacket’s collar. He gave her a warm smile, his blue eyes gleaming.
“No problem. You’re… not from here, are you?”
“… No…” she gave him a look. Was he trying to hit on her, she wondered. If he was, she had to give him one thing; he was not wasting any time! Not that she was getting offended about a handsome stranger flirting with her; it was a far cry from how she was treated a few seconds ago, “Why you ask?”
“Well, two things actually give it away. Your accent, for one. Southern?”
“Born and raised! Tennessee.”
“Ah; great mountains…” it looked as if he was remembering a specific time. Tabitha shrugged. She knew that Chattanooga was surrounded by mountains; the main expressway actually cut through the Appalachian Mountains.
“I’m a city girl so… only connection I have with ‘em is driving through ‘em!” she confessed. It made the man lightly chuckle, “What’s the other thing?”
“Everyone knows me here. Bruce Wayne…” he introduced himself with a smile. She gave him another look, one that showed that while she was appreciative that he introduced himself, she had no idea why he felt that he was so important. She shook his hand regardless but then realized his name.
“… Wayne? As in… the name of this building and the fifty million other things around here, Wayne?” she asked. His chuckle turned into a full laugh.
“In the flesh! Don’t feel bad; I enjoyed the fact that you didn’t know me.” he saw that she had a look of embarrassment on her face, “What brings you here, Miss…”
“Lyght; Tabitha Lyght.” she felt that it was safe for her to reveal her actual identity, “Well… I was looking for a job…” she stopped herself; she didn’t want to seem that she was stooping so low to ask him, the owner of the building for a job.
It made Bruce think for a moment.
“I think I can find something for you, depending on if you have any skills. I have a quick meeting to tend to but… if you want to wait around, I can take you to my office.”
The two were walking down the hallway that led to his office on the top floor. After studying and making art for a while, she marveled at the work on this floor. The paintings depicted different scenes from around the world; Tabitha knew that she would have to ask Bruce about them once she was more comfortable around him. In the meantime, she thought about exactly what skills she possessed that wouldn’t hint to the fact that she was mutant. The thought made her stop in her tracks.
“Mr. Wayne… I really hate to criticize…” she started. He turned and looked at her.
“By all means; I like constructive criticism.”
“Your security tower could go for an upgrade.” she almost mumbled. He slightly ran his hand through his jet black shortly styled hair.
“Oh? That’s odd; I have the top security system known to man…”
“Then why didn’t it go off when I walked through the door?” she calmly asked. It wasn’t until then that he noticed that she was carrying two bags; he had been so intrigued that the southern stranger had no idea who he was to take notice of anything else.
She saw that his attention went straight to her bags and smiled, “I ain’t carrying a bomb or weapon or anything like that! It’s just my laptop and my tools in here…” she patted her book bag, “And my clothes in this one.” she continued. He was curious as to what “tools” she had in her small bag.
“Hmm; a glitch in the system… I’ll have to get someone to look at that. Thank you for pointing it out, Tabitha.”
“If you don’t mind, Mr. Wayne… I could look for you…”
“You specialize in security systems?”
“A bit of electronic engineering, actually.” she stretched the truth. While Jamila had suggested that she hold off on engineering, Tabitha took the time to look up electronic engineering on her own. She figured that since she was manipulating metals and fabrics, how hard was it to fiddle with wires, “It could just be a loose wire or something.”
“You may be right. I take it that you have your tools in that bag of yours?” he asked. She answered with a nod and a smile, “Handy. Okay; I’ll let you take a look at it.”
“… Right now?”
“Of course. The sooner, the better.”
She had enjoyed the fact that the rude guard, Simon had to idly stand by, biting his tongue as he watched her dismantle a portion of the security tower. She studied the wires and smiled.
“Thought so! Loose wire, Mr. Wayne; quite a few of ‘em…”
“Like someone’s tampered with them?”
“Nah. If someone would’ve messed with ‘em, they would’ve been fried or missing altogether. Whoever made these, made ‘em poorly. I can… fuse ‘em to where it won’t happen again… ever.” she continued to study the maze of circuits and wires. Bruce raised his eyebrows.
“Sir, do you really think that’s safe; we don’t know her…” Simon quickly added. Bruce glanced at her and then back at his security guard. It was a bold statement; was she really that good?
“I want to see her at least try. Wouldn’t do any harm; they’re not working properly, anyway. Go ahead.” he nodded towards her. She smiled, tried not to squeal for joy and went through her bag for her tools. She put on her safety goggles and gloves.
“It’ll only take a minute…” she almost didn’t finish her sentence; she was already placing the fake mini soldering gun on individual wires, actually applying her lightning to them. Bruce was curious and watched in amazement as the wires were fused finely and precisely. He wondered what type of soldering gun she had; it was producing small sparks that he felt were too close to her hands, even with the gloves on. When he saw that she wasn’t complaining or even flinching, he tried to calm his mind and continue watching. He thought about talking her into letting him manufacture her gun; it was clear that it was homemade.
Before he could ask about it, Tabitha was inspecting her work, putting everything back into its compressed compartment, “There ya go, Mr. Wayne.” she tugged her goggles off. She looked around and grabbed a paper clip off the guards’ desk. Bruce looked at her; something as small as a paper clip would have no problem slipping through, he thought. He wanted to eat his words as she walked through the tower and it immediately went off. Both guards let out a whistle of amusement.
“… Tabitha, is it?”
“You’re hired, Tabitha.”