He studied the still frame photo, his eyes more on the white-haired woman in the scene than on the others.
“Hmm… this is someone new…” Lex Luthor stated as he put more focus on the woman. Who was she and why was this the first time he had took notice of her? He, of course, recognized in condescension the rest of the superheroes: Batman, Martian Manhunter, Flash and Superman. A new member, he pondered to himself. He had a sudden urge to know more about the new member; the only place that he knew where to start would be Cadmus headquarters.
It was an actual government project starting off; Cadmus was created as a safety measure just in case the Justice League ever decided to go rogue. When Superman had become brainwashed by Darkseid, a god monarch of the planet Apokolips, to invade Earth, quite a few civilians supported the reason for the project’s existence. Initially, the project was to come into effect if the Man of Steel was to go rogue once more however it was extended to the rest of the Justice League, mainly the founding members. The project turned establishment was founded and heavily funded by Lex Luthor, himself however none of the superheroes had any reason to believe that Cadmus existed outside of light rumors.
To avoid any speculations and criticism, Luthor appointed Amanda Waller director of the project; she was mainly responsible for obtaining any and all information about anyone with mutant powers. As he simply showed her the photo, pointing to the woman with the snow white hair, she went to one of the computers in the research lab.
“Why don’t I know who she is…” he asked with a hint of anger brewing on the tip of his tongue.
“We don’t have much information on her. She’s one of the newest members. What we’ve seen so far is that her ability is lightning-based…”
“Tell me this isn’t the first time she’s been seen out and about.” he was curious still as to why it was the first time she was brought to his attention.
“She doesn’t come out often. Looks like whenever she does, the Martian puts her with a few of the main seven.”
“So… either he doesn’t trust her or he’s being overly protective of her…”
“And, if he didn’t trust her, she wouldn’t be there.”
“Hmm… either way, there must be something about her. Do you at least have a name?”
“Some witnesses have heard them call her Tabitha…”
He knew that his research using only the name Tabitha would lead him nowhere. Instead, he narrowed his search to super heroines with lightning powers and white hair. He came up with two possible leads but nixed the one about the mutant who could control all of the weather elements. That left him with an interesting story based out of New York; a group of white-haired teenagers were terrorizing the city with their lightning abilities. Their leader, Alpha was apprehended by Spider-Man and sentenced to serve time in Bellevue. There were quite a few pictures of the webbed crusader, however, only one sparked Luther’s interest: the one with him posing with the white-haired woman. Her outfit was different but he knew she was the “Tabitha” he was searching for. On a whim, he immediately booked the next flight out to New York.
As Gary was escorted to the visiting room, he couldn’t help but to wonder who would want to visit him. He shook the idea that it may be the former Sgt. Lyght; the last time they had come face-to-face, she nearly electrocuted him. He was slightly amused to see a sharply dressed, bald man waiting patiently for him. The guards handcuffed Gary to the chair despite the strange look he was giving his visitor.
“I… don’t know this guy…”
“Of course you don’t, Mr. First.” Lex slightly smiled at him.
“Who are you?”
“Let’s just call this a government visit. I would like to talk to you… privately.” he steadily looked at the guards. They glanced at each other and then looked back at Lex, slowly shaking their heads, “He’s handcuffed in his spot; what harm could he do…?” he flashed his Cadmus badge. They sighed, reluctantly leaving the two men alone, “I feel that you’d talk more freely with them gone. Tell me about her…” he placed the photo of Tabitha in front of Gary. His initial reaction was that of fear but as he studied the picture more, he slowly smiled.
“Staff Sergeant Tabitha Lyght…”
“Hmm… a fitting name for her. Did you create her like you created those teens?”
“No… not purposely, anyway. She was… a mistake. A glorious one, though…” he remembered fondly. No one wanted to hear about his achievements ever since he became incarcerated; Gary started to warm up to the stranger. It was then that he realized that the man hadn’t asked about anything he did; he was more interested in Tabitha, “Why do you want to know about her…?”
“Call me curious. My agency needs to keep information on these… superheroes…” he slightly cringed at the word, “She’s fairly new and no one knows anything about her… except for you.”
“I… don’t feel comfortable talking to you about her…”
“Really? You were more than comfortable creating an antiserum to ward off her attacks…”
“… That was done as a safety measure. There were teenagers who had her powers under my care.”
“You don’t have to justify anything to me, Mr. First. I just want to know more about her.”
“… What’s in it for me?” Gary continued to look at the picture. Lex laughed heartedly.
“I was wondering when the subject would come up! I came here prepared, Mr. First; how about an early release for improved mental stability?” he tried. He had done his homework; he knew that the once ionized man was going to be locked up in Bellevue for a long time. He needed him, but not at the moment; he wanted to make sure that Gary First was in the right state of mind.
“You start taking your meds, start improving on your health… and we’ll talk how early. Now… can you tell me more about Miss Lyght?”
His next stop was across the two bridges towards Gotham. The institutionalized man couldn’t tell him much as far as her whereabouts but he found more pictures of her roaming the dark streets of Gotham; he figured that he would find more information there. After some risky probing, he finally started to get something from the locals.
“Her? Yeah… she scares me. Anyone who can hit you with lightning like that and don’t blink? Almost wanna make an honest man outta ya! Ain’t it enough we got that bat freak around?!”
“Glad she’s gone; now all we gotta worry about is Batman…”
“Oh… the lightning chick? She’s hardcore! Watched her go berserk on my boss quite a few times. Just to think; if she was on our side? Ha; Batman wouldn’t stand a chance!” he was glad to have found someone who had more information to give out. Lex slightly smiled at the thug’s words.
“Really? Who is your boss?”
“Can’t say, really. That type of info will cost ya!” the man rubbed his chin and gave him a sly smile. Lex could only return a smirk as he pulled out a few hundred dollar bills. The thug counted the money and whistled, “You’re trying to get yourself shocked! But, hey; it’s your funeral! A select few of us work for Joker. Can’t say that he’s an easy one to get in contact with; you don’t contact them, they contact you!”
“Got his girlfriend doing all the messaging for him; she dishes out the, uh… ‘job details’.”
“I’m hoping that I paid you enough to get the word out that I want to talk to the two…” he slightly narrowed his eyes at the thug. He counted the money yet again and nodded.
“Let’s see what I can do…”
He was glad that he didn’t have to wait much longer; the thug escorted him personally to one of the hideouts of Joker’s: an abandoned toy factory. While he didn’t get to meet the Clown Prince in person, he was greeted by his self-made assistant/girlfriend, Harley Quinn. He was used to provocative women so she didn’t draw his attention as a whole. Lex admitted that her outfit was unique, wearing a modified dark blue and red boyfriend cardigan with four brown straps starting right below her breasts going down to her stomach to hold the shirt in place. The cardigan spanned past her thighs in four slits that each ended in four dull gold jester balls. The only other thing she wore were dark blue panties, blue and red thigh-high leggings and black boots that reached up to her shins. He smirked at her two ponytails, dyed perfectly on each side, red and black, with a green streak on the right side. Her blue eyes sparkled underneath her black mask despite carrying two pistols. It didn’t bother him too much; if she wanted to kill him, she would’ve done so by then.
Their conversation was short and he was glad, to the point; he found out almost everything he wanted to know about the mysterious lightning woman. After hearing about how powerful she could get, Lex came to the conclusion that he needed a way to get in contact with Tabitha Lyght without going through the Justice League; he was pretty sure that the founding members would nullify those plans if they had found out. The one thing that stuck out in his mind was that the thug was on to something: she would probably be better off without the superheroes. Because of the potency of her abilities, he knew that the Justice League, the Martian Manhunter in particular, was keeping her on a short leash in space aboard Watchtower. He hoped that Joker would be able to produce what he really wanted.
He had enough. He had enough of running from everything; he was simply tired. Ethan took it as somewhat of a sign that the word on the street was that Joker was looking for him. He didn’t know what for; he didn’t know if he even wanted to see Joker again. The demented clown had tortured him, injured his psyche so badly that… he understood him. He may not had agreed with the way Joker did things but he knew that there was a reason for it. At first, he wanted to kill him, kill everyone who had hurt him mentally. However not all of his soul had been damaged; Ethan wasn’t that cruel. As he made his way into the abandoned joke toy store, he told himself that he wouldn’t hurt anyone… unless he was provoked.
He was a bit surprised to see the delusional girlfriend; he had heard how Joker treated her and wondered why she stuck up for him. However, Ethan had to admit that the two were actually a well-matched couple; both were insane and deadly. He stood his ground as she smiled and approached him.
“What do you want? Where’s Joker?”
“Mr. J’s busy at the moment…” her overdrawn accent told him that she was from across the bridge rather than Gotham, “I’m here on his behalf! He wanted to extend his deepest apologies.”
“It’s true! You know… you were never the real target. He was after your girlfriend the whole time…”
“She isn’t my girlfriend, anymore…” he tried to put as much emphasis as he could on the entire sentence. Harley cocked her head to the side and made a thoughtful sound.
“You miss her, don’t ya…?” she tried. He quickly looked away and took a deep sigh.
“What is it to you…?”
“I know true love when I see it! Look; I know that Mr. J don’t like the broad; she’s too much of a showboat. He’s glad she’s out of his hair! I… kinda liked her… she kept him on his toes, you know?” she admitted. Ethan could only nod, trying to ignore the pain in his heart. They had agreed to go their separate ways, partly because he had this gnawing feeling that he would turn rogue. It didn’t change the fact that he didn’t want to let her go and missed her with every passing day, “So… I wanted to give her a little farewell present but… I think she would throw it away if I gave them to her. Maybe you could take the credit for it…?” she tried again. He widened his eyes at her.
“What do you take me for, a fool?! Why would I give her anything from either of you?!” he snapped. Harley put a frown on her face, showing him three small bottles.
“We’re letting bygones be bygones, here! Look…” she opened one of the bottles and took a deep whiff of its contents. She did the same to the other two and looked at Ethan, “See? Nothing wrong with ‘em! Want more proof?” before he could agree, she spread a bit of the liquid on her wrist and showed him, “No nasty side effects!”
“What are those?”
“Just a little something that every girl needs; scented oils! I picked them for myself but… my puddin’ doesn’t like the smells. Something about they’re too… domesticated for him…” she slightly frowned. She shook the thoughts out of her head and immediately handed the bottles to Ethan, “An oil warmer and a couple of tea candles and the set’s complete! You can handle that, right?”
“Why… are you doing this…?” he looked at the three bottles.
“I told you why! I’m a sucker for true love; everyone deserves their happy ending…” she gave him a more serious look. He couldn’t help but to think that there was a hint of sadness in her blue eyes; she really was sort of normal: all she wanted was to be loved… normally. The look quickly left as she slightly giggled and turned to leave.
He sighed as he looked at the massive door in front of him; it was now or never. As he waited for someone to open the door, he repeatedly told himself that this was the right thing to do. He had to get his life back on track and stop running away. He was surprised that it was Bruce and not Alfred who opened the door. His eyes widened at the sight of his old friend.
“Ethan!” he actually had a sense of panic boil over. However, the look on his friend’s face wasn’t of vengeance but… weariness. He sighed and just looked at him.
“I’m… turning myself in…”
Ethan was glad that the two sat and talked before being taken into custody. Bruce noticed the gift bag and slightly smirked.
“Trying to butter me up with a gift?” he asked, making him lowly chuckle.
“I have a favor to ask; could you… give this to Tabby? How is she, by the way?”
“She’s… happy…” he had to admit. While he still didn’t like the fact that she had all but stopped going on missions altogether… or the fact of who she was dating, he noticed that she was indeed happy, overall. Ethan nodded.
“That’s good to hear; really, it is. Just… tell her that I’m sorry and happy birthday.”
“What… her birthday’s coming up?”
“Wow… what kind of friend are you?” a hint of a smile played on his lips. Bruce let out a small laugh.
“Kind of been busy, if you haven’t noticed! I’ll make sure she gets it…”
Why had it been so long, she wondered as she walked inside the training area. With everything that happened to her, Tabitha made the decision to relieve some stress and workout, finally. She knew that training was a vital part of being a Justice League member however she never found the time to do so. She knew that she needed to start making the time before the Martian tried to lecture her about it!
She had her hopes set on finding either Diana or Shayera working out; she was in the mood to torture herself! However, she slightly frowned that there were no women in sight. There were a few members on the treadmills towards the back of the area and two taking turns spotting each other on the bench press machines towards her right. To her left was the training boxing ring and a few punching bags, one being occupied by Wildcat.
Known as Ted Grant outside of the Justice League, he was a prized fighter in his prime. After he was framed for the murder of his mentor, he was forced to step down as a fighter and became a vigilante. She had heard good things about him, especially how he trained several Justice League members in boxing and martial arts, including Bruce and Clark.
He felt someone watching him as he sparred with the punching bag and looked over his shoulder. He gave Tabitha a quick look over before returning his attention back to the bag. He didn’t look as old as she had thought he was; there were random yet small streaks of grey interrupting his curly jet black locks.
“So, you’re the new member…” he almost startled her; she thought that he was ignoring her and was about to leave. She smiled at him.
“Not that new; been here for two and a half years, now!” she answered him. He finally stopped attacking the bag, wiping the sweat from his forehead and gave her a thoughtful look.
“You’re the newest member that we have. Let me guess; you want me to train you…”
“Actually… that didn’t cross my mind until now. Not gonna meddle, though; looks like you’re busy…” she started to not like his attitude and wanted to join the others on the treadmills.
“Hold on… you didn’t come over for me to train you?”
“No; just wanted to watch a bit and then workout…”
“Hmm… let me see your fighting stance…” he surprised her. She gave him a look before she shrugged and did what she was asked, “Ah… military, eh?”
“Let’s see what you got, then…” he smiled and approached her. She returned the smile and shrugged.
“Been a minute since I’ve done hand-to-hand. Ever since I became a mutant, I’ve…”
“For God’s sake, woman; don’t use that word!” his tone made her blink at him.
“‘Mutant’; it’s degrading…”
“Oh… well… what else am I supposed to call myself? It’s what I am…”
“No; it’s not. You’re a Metahuman.”
“A meta… human?”
“Someone who was born human but gained superpowers. Doesn’t matter if it was by accident or on purpose.” he explained to her. She nodded.
“A Metahuman, then; gotcha!”
“Before we start; what are your abilities?”
“Lightning, really. Super strength, speed and stamina.”
“Don’t use them…” he told her. She gave him a blank stare.
“You heard me; don’t use them.”
“… None of ‘em?”
“You might can’t help the strength or the stamina. But try not to use your enhanced strength. And definitely nix the lightning and speed!”
“But… it’s all I got…”
“I don’t believe that. Besides; it wouldn’t be fair to me: I don’t have any true Metahuman abilities.”
She found it a true challenge at first not being able to use her abilities. However, with Ted stopping to correct her ever so often, she found that relying on her somewhat natural strength relieved her stress and made her concentrate more. The two were so caught up in their training, they hadn’t noticed that others were watching them.
“She’s not bad…” John commented. The thought made J’onn simply nod. He had seen her fight three times; twice against the simulation program and when she sparred with Diana. All three times had been set up to provoke her enraged state and she had held back against Diana. He was proud to see that although she was learning from Ted, she was giving it as much as she could without using her enhanced abilities.
“She isn’t using any of her abilities, is she?” Diana wondered. Bruce shook his head, a smile playing on his lips as well.
“Maybe a little of her super strength but it’s small. That’s all of her Army training. Not bad at all…” he continued to watch along with the others. Their training session ended when Tabitha forced Ted down to one knee, extending his arm behind his back, painfully stretching his shoulder blade. He let out a low but sharp scowl.
“Nice!” he grunted out. She smiled and let go of his arm, helping him up, “You’re not as rusty as you thought, you know. See how it felt without using any of your super abilities? Most villains will be prepared to deal with that so you have to have the element of surprise! Are you ready for your next lesson?”
“Sorry, Ted; her lesson is over with…” J’onn startled the two, “Someone wants their turn to train with her.” he continued. She looked at the group and slowly smiled.
“Oh, yeah? Who?” she had refrained from sounding cocky; she felt pretty confident after taking Ted down without using much of her abilities. Her sly smile disappeared as she noticed that the Martian removed his cape and approached the two.
“Me.” he answered.
“Wait… what?! Uh, no!”
“No? You have no choice in the matter…”
“That ain’t fair and you know it…” she tried.
“How is it not fair? We’re both Justice League members…”
“One, you’re a Martian. Two… you’re Martian Manhunter!”
“You are wasting precious time. Trust in your instincts…” was the last thing she heard from him before he had charged after her. She was caught off guard and couldn’t respond quickly enough; before she knew it, he had tackled her hard to the ground. She struggled under his weight as he pinned her wrists to the mat.
“See; this is what I’m talking about! What you tryna prove?!”
“That you’re as strong as anyone else in the room… including myself…” he plainly looked at her, “Why aren’t you fighting back?”
“Seriously?!” she grunted.
“Stop panicking. Calm down and use your instincts…” he instructed. He was right, she finally thought. While Ted had no abilities, the Martian did… and he was fair game for her to use her abilities. Another thing that she realized; he was highly intelligent: she had to stop worrying about out powering him… and start trying to outsmart him.
She gave him a small smile as she stopped struggling against his strength, quickly charged up and immediately let her lightning loose; the force behind her attack made the Martian let go and fall backwards a couple of feet. He gave her a surprised yet satisfied look.
“Using our powers, are we?”
“I gotta even the odds, right?” she quickly got up.
“She’s right; she has to use her abilities against him. Without them, she’s no match to J’onn…” Bruce thought aloud.
“What if he doesn’t use his…?” Wally looked at him. Bruce smirked.
“Even if he held back at 50%... he would be ten times stronger than her… and that’s a far understatement!”
“I was hoping that we would refrain from using our abilities…” the Martian took to the air. She slightly smirked at him.
“Just using my instincts…” she couldn’t afford to think about her next action; she immediately did a Lightning Cloud towards him. She knew that thinking about what she needed to do would put her at a high disadvantage. When she felt him block her lightning strike, her body nearly bouncing off of him, she quickly formulated a plan. It was more for her benefit than anything; she wanted to see how long she would be able to perform her signature move in the air at a more constant rate.
She had surprised herself at the timing and quickness of her attacks; when she saw that he would block one hit, she delivered another one almost instantly. From where the others were looking on in almost complete shock, there was a constant show of sparks surrounding the Martian, who could only block her attacks. She wasn’t a complete blur as if she was Wally however even he had to admit that she was incredibly quick.
While he was impressed at her quickness, he was more overwhelmed by the fact that her hits, even blocked, were stinging him. He wondered if she was putting all of her energy and strength into the punches and tried to go through her mind. The Martian had to admit that it was cheating; he would also probably get a glimpse into her strategy. However, he was surprised when the only thing she was thinking of was one word: faster. Other than that, her mind was completely blank; he couldn’t have been any prouder. He kept his smile to himself as he thought of a way to stop her attacks; they really were starting to hurt him a bit.
“Is that all you gonna do is block?” she taunted between her lightning quick hits. He should’ve been used to her urge to taunt however it slightly saddened him that she showed her overconfidence even towards him; her cockiness knew no limits. It was something that he wanted her to seriously work on; taunting the wrong person could end up deadly.
He knew that it was risky; he immediately found out as he reached out and grabbed her wrist, a surge of electricity traveling up his arm when he did so. However, he knew that he had to do something to stop the all-out assault… as well as teach her a lesson about her cockiness. With ease, his other hand grabbed her ankle and he flung her across the room as hard as he could… forgetting to take into account that although she was a Metahuman, she was still human and he was more powerful than her. He flinched along with the others as she crashed into the wall, wishing that the material was more common rather than reinforced; going completely through it would had been less painful for her. Instead, the impact created a large dent and her body fell to the floor with a flesh-crawling thud.
“Whoa! Way too much vigor, green guy!” Wally widened his eyes at the Martian. When she didn’t move from her spot, the group rushed over to her. J’onn silently sighed for relief as she finally started to move slowly.
“Oh… my fucking… GOD; did you forget that I was human?!” even her voice inside his head sounded battered. He didn’t care who was there; he made sure that he was the one to attempt to help her up.
“I’m sorry; I’m so sorry! I… I actually did for a moment. I didn’t mean to hurt you; are you alright…”
“NO!” she hissed and winced as the Martian placed his hands on her side, “You tried to put me through a fucking wall!” he sadly noticed that it took a lot for her to speak, let alone breathe, “… Think you… broke a few ribs…” when she had to take breaths between her words and winced, he knew that her assumption was correct, “Like… fifteen of ‘em…”
“Wait… Tabitha… that’s all women have!” Bruce couldn’t help but to smirk; only she would find some way to make the situation humorous! He tried to help J’onn however retracted his hand when she winced yet again and let out an agonizing moan.
“Yeah… feels about… right, then…” she breathed, “Think I’m officially… scared of… walls, now…” she tried. The Martian finally got her on her feet, helping her walk.
“I… am so sorry, Tabitha. I believe… training is over with…”
“Yeah……. for you…” her smile finally crept on her face. Before he could give her a confused look, she gripped the Martian’s shoulder tighter, placed her right leg behind him and gave him a quick sweep to the ground. She immediately got up, placed her knee in his shoulder and prepared to strike, raising her fist and charging it with lightning. His red eyes, full of bewilderment, widened at how quick the turn of events happened.
“You! You were… feigning…”
“Element of surprise…” Ted couldn’t help but to grin at the sight. Her grin widened as she pinned him down with more force.
“Yep! Now… do I really gotta hit you…?”
“Hmm… that won’t be necessary…” she thought he was waving the proverbial white flag; his body was no longer tense underneath her. However, she was taken by complete surprise as he made himself invisible.
“Oh; you cheater!!” she immediately slammed her fist down. Waves of lightning flowed out however not hitting their intended mark. She scrambled to her feet and looked around; he had indeed became invisible. For a quick moment, she thought back to the fight between herself and Ma’alefa’ak; he had become invisible as well and there wasn’t anything she could do about it.
“Cheater? I wasn’t the one who faked an injury…” his chuckle filled the room. She tried to turn to it, tried to think of some type of strategy. No; she shook her head: if he was willing to become invisible, he would be willing to go through her mind…
A quick sweep of the feet had her face nearly connecting to the matted floor. She braced her fall and quickly threw lightning in any direction that she could; the group who had been worried about her safety only moments prior all ducked, trying not to get hit.
“I don’t think this is safe, anymore…” Wally slowly looked where his friend was now standing.
“Careful…” she couldn’t help that it slightly irritated her that he still chuckled. She narrowed her eyes and continued to look around the room.
“Okay, this time, this really ain’t fair…”
“Says the one with the phantom broken ribs…” he slightly laughed yet again. She grumbled out her frustrations.
“Seriously; you know you can’t be touched when you’re invisible! What am I supposed to do?!”
“Are you sure about that notion…?” he left it at that as he tripped her yet again. She jumped to her feet but thought against attacking; she finally realized that it was pointless. She had no choice but to think of how she would be able to make him visible yet again. She quickly scanned the matted floor; maybe she would get a glimpse of his feet imprints? She shook her head slightly; the Manhunter from Mars was too smart for that: he was definitely airborne. That thought only made her grumble more in her mind; now she not only had to worry about his invisibility but his flight as well. One idea was for her to fill the air with her lightning; however she suddenly remembered that she had done the same with his twin brother and it proved to be in vain: she had filled that apartment twice with voltage and it did nothing. Damn; if only Ashley was here to blood bend him, she thought. Or if Ramil was…
She immediately stopped thinking as a slow, wicked smile appeared on her face. The only thing that she had hoped was that he wouldn’t be too upset with her. She glanced towards the treadmills and did a Lightning Cloud towards them, grabbing two towels from the rack on the wall. She placed them in the middle of the room and stood a foot away from them.
“Um…” John furrowed his brow.
“Don’t ask, don’t tell…” Clark shrugged. The group continued to watch as she let all of the tension leave her body, closing her eyes and relaxing. She had a small theory and hoped that it worked; regardless of if he was invisible, he had to make some type of sound before he attacked: she slowed her breathing and tried to concentrate on that.
She knew that her timing would have to be impeccable for her concept to work; she didn’t think that she would have any room for a slipup. She had really hoped that she would be able to hear him if he tried to sweep at her feet once more; she never imagined that she would actually feel him! It was very minute however as she was deep in concentration, she couldn’t shake the feeling; he was coming towards her from her left. No sooner had she felt the slight waft against her shoulder, her eyes popped open and she did a Lightning Cloud towards the towels. Charging up with all of her might and releasing set the towels ablaze, just as she figured it would; J’onn immediately became visible and backed away from the small flames. A wide grin appeared on her face as she charged up yet again and sent waves of electricity his way, bringing him to his knees. Currents of lightning flowed over her arms as she slowly approached him. He looked at her with a slight weariness in his eyes.
“You are two for two today…” the sound of defeat in his voice.
“You ain’t letting me win again… are you…?” she eyed him. The Martian lightly laughed, glaring slightly at the fire in the middle of the room.
“Trust me… I’m not…” he assured. Clark extinguished the flames as Tabitha helped her boyfriend up.
She walked out of her bathroom, drying her hair and slightly jumped at the sight of the Martian standing in her room. She gave him a smirk.
“Boyfriend…” he quickly narrowed his eyes at her, a glint of laughter in them. She finally laughed as she approached him, giving him a light kiss.
“I see you ain’t mad at me…”
“Should I be? Your mouth always carries a sardonic tone to it…” he looked down at her. She gave him a slight look.
“You know… if ya gonna insult me, could you at least use words I know the meaning of?!” she didn’t know whether to laugh or truly be upset with him. He laughed and moved a few strands of wet hair away from her brow.
“You are very sarcastic with me…”
“I’m sarcastic to everyone… I think…”
“That is true… although I was hoping that I was a special case…”
“I think that considering you’re my Martian boyfriend, you’re more than a special case… way more!” she laughed. He smiled and nodded.
“If you think that I’m upset about our training session, don’t think that. I took it exactly as what it was; training.”
“I will admit that I am still a bit surprised that you deceived me. However, it was very, very clever of you; it was unexpected. You knew that I would drop my guard if I felt that you were injured in any way…”
“Yeah…” she shyly shrugged.
“I will not fall for it, again.”
“I didn’t really hurt you… did I?”
“I was about to ask the same…”
“Eh… I think I was more shocked that you threw me full force! The wall hurt a bit… but I made the landing sound worse than it really was…” she smiled, a sense of pride going through her that she not only tricked the Martian but the others as well.
“You are taking glory in what you accomplished… in which you should. I am very proud of you, Tabitha. Your lightning strikes… did not go unnoticed.” he slightly smiled, still remembering the stings, “Another thing that stunned me was the use of fire…”
“… I’m sorry…”
“Don’t be. If you’re unable to physically get the upper hand, find their weakness… and expose it.” he kept his smile. She returned one and wrapped her arms tightly around his neck.
“Rewarding me with some free time, now?”
“Of course. Actually… I was wondering if… you wanted to go out to dinner…” he completely surprised her. She widened her eyes at him.
“Wait… what do you mean…?”
“You know… consume some human food? I don’t know how to make it any simpler…”
“Smart… ass; I know what having dinner is! Are you asking me out on a date, Martian?!”
“Yes, human; I am. Oh; you are to call me by my species but I can’t do the same…?” he looked at her when she flinched, “Why does the idea shock you?”
“Well, let’s see… for starters, going out on dates are for normal couples…”
“We are not a normal couple?”
“No, J’onn; we are definitely not a normal couple; nowhere even close! Besides; a date is supposed to be relaxing… and fun…”
“I am fully aware of this…”
“You… don’t know how to do that…”
“I don’t know how to relax or have fun?”
“… Neither one…”
“I take offense to that, Tabitha Lyght…” he stared at her. She knew that she was exaggerating; she knew that he considered playing chess fun. However, she hadn’t expected for him to become offended, “You will get dressed, we will go on a date and I will prove to you that I can relax and have fun.”
She could do nothing but blink as the two made their way inside a restaurant in Metropolis. She could’ve imagined Bruce eating in a restaurant of that caliber, not J’onn. The maître d gave her a subtle look; she was wearing her signature head wrap. When his eyes landed on J’onn, he became all smiles, darting his eyes between the reservation book and the couple.
“Ah, Mr. Jones! Table for two; right this way, sir!” he led the two immediately to a table in the middle of the restaurant. She paid special attention to the table as they sat; a pearl white tablecloth graced the small round table along with what she knew was considered the proper, formal setting for a table: she would ask her question later about why they had so many glasses! It was the centerpiece that grabbed her attention; an arrangement of roses, her favorite flower. She kept her eye on J’onn, who only changed his form to exclude the beetle brow, red eyes and green skin.
“What is it?” he asked when the maître d left them alone, “Is it how he looked at you?”
“No… kinda used to that…”
“You shouldn’t be.”
“I know but that ain’t… isn’t the point. You made reservations?”
“So, you had this ‘date’ all planned out in advance…?”
“Yes, I did.” he stared back at her, a gleam in his eyes; without going through her mind, he could tell that she was highly impressed. She tilted her head towards the flower arrangement.
“Of course. Let’s just call this an early birthday present.” he smiled at her when her eyes widened at first but then looked down at her plate.
“Why wouldn’t I remember my girlfriend’s birthday?”
“… I don’t even know yours… or your age for that matter…”
“We don’t celebrate birthdays…” J’onn shook his head slightly. She gave him a slight smirk.
“So… you saying you’re old…” her words made him sigh slightly.
“By your standards, yes. However…”
“How old are you? On what Earth day were you born? What’s your favorite flower?”
“Older than you, I don’t recall and daisies…” his answers made her snort and stifle her laughter.
“And you said I had the sarcastic mouth!” she smiled. She warmed up as he grabbed her hand and gently kissed it.
“A taste of your own medicine…” he smiled, “I am five hundred…”
“… And fifty-three years old, Martians do not take in importance the day of their birth… and I really do like daisies…” he finished lowly, “If it makes you feel better, you can celebrate my birthday at the beginning of the year. Anything else you would like to know?”
“Yeah; when are we gonna tell everyone about us?”
“It’s like… you’re ashamed of me. I know I ain’t the smartest…”
“What? No! I’ve never been ashamed of you, Tabitha… ever. You’re…” he gazed at her. What was stopping him from admitting that he felt that she was perfect? That she was everything that he had hoped to find? That… he loved her, “You mean a lot to me. I’m just not… used to a lot of things…” he tried to explain.
“… You afraid of what everyone else would say…?”
“… Yes. Not that I need their approval; even if they did not agree, it wouldn’t stop how I feel.”
“I think I get it, now. You care what they say but then again… you don’t. It’s like, I care how my mom and dad feel about you; I want ‘em to like you. But, if they can’t or won’t, it don’t matter; as long as I like you!” she said. He could do nothing but smile wider.
She was elated for the day off as she sat down with her plate; she was surprised that the cafeteria staff had prepared her favorite meal; chicken, shrimp and broccoli Alfredo with a side of fries and a vanilla birthday cupcake. She didn’t think that anyone else would remember her birthday and was prepared to spend the entire day in slight solitude. She didn’t mind it; she was never the one to like huge, blown out birthday celebrations. She did have plans on going down to Earth to spend some time with her family and the Lindseys.
She was about to prepare another forkful of food when her tray disappeared. She blinked a couple of times at the empty spot.
“Uh… what…” she wondered aloud. Two more blinks and there was a cake in front of her; a large white icing sheet cake with the words scribbled in yellow: Happy Birthday Tabitha. She couldn’t describe the feeling that coursed throughout her veins; she was utterly surprised that anyone aboard Watchtower, aside from J’onn and maybe Bruce and Wally, would do something like this for her.
The scene quickly changed, with gifts appearing on the table and candles on the cake. She was shocked to see just how many League members had gathered around her to sing happy birthday to her. Tears threatened at the corners of her eyes as she blushed and blew out the candles.
“I… I can’t believe you guys remembered…” she almost choked out.
“All my doing…” Wally boasted, prompting laughter. Tabitha quickly wiped at her eyes and stared at the cake and presents.
“Are those tears, Tabitha Lyght…?” Clark studied her face with a hint of a smile.
“W-What?! No!” she quickly answered, “My contacts…”
“Contacts? Really?” John smirked at her. She returned the smirk.
“Not everyone can have sparkling eyes like yours!” she batted her eyes quickly at him, causing him to roll his eyes and laugh.
“Alright, enough talk; cut the cake!” Wally rushed, giving her a knife.
“In a hurry? Wait… forgot who I was talking to…” she shook her head and cut into the cake. She lit up as she removed the first piece, “Marble! How’d you know…?”
“That was my doing…” J’onn confirmed. She shot him a look and blushed heavily.
“You two spend so much time together; you would think that he would know everything about you, right?” Vixen, John’s girlfriend pointed out.
“They’re almost as inseparable as herself and Wally…” Shayera chimed in. Tabitha gave her a look as she gave her a wide grin. She continued to slice her cake, handing out pieces to the members. Her eyes finally landed on the numerous gifts that were on the table.
“A-Anyway… you guys didn’t have to do all this… I would’ve been satisfied with a bunch of cards!”
“We really didn’t know what to give you. But, seeing that we were really busy last year, we had to make it up to you.” Diana confirmed. Tabitha gave her a warm smile that widened as she gave her a small box, “Might as well start opening them, now!”
“Oh… okay…” she put her cake down and opened the box. She removed the gift paper and immediately blushed at the gift, quickly covering it up. The Amazon laughed heartily as she received an embarrassed glance.
“This is the reddest I’ve ever seen you get!” Diana continued to laugh.
“What’s wrong? What did she give you?”
“D-Diana!! No… it’s nothing. A female joke…”
“Hey! No covering it up; let’s see it!” Shayera egged on.
“I agree; it couldn’t be that… oh…” J’onn was glad that he was able to keep his composure; with a defeated and definitely embarrassed sigh, Tabitha reopened the gift, revealing a red, lacy lingerie set. The murmurs, laughs and whistles were enough to make Tabitha turn completely red.
“I figured that you would want to wear that for your… ‘someone special’ on your special day!” Diana winked and drew her attention straight to Wally. He gave her a look, raising his eyebrows; Tabitha wanted to hide underneath the table as she even heard J’onn’s chuckle in her head.
“Wait… what?! Um… she’s my sister so… eww!”
“I can’t wait until you try it on…” his words made her flinch.
“Y-Yeah… ain’t nothing going on with me and Wally, pervert! Thanks…” she mumbled, stuffing the see-through garments back into the box. She looked at Bruce, who approached her with two gifts, “Tryna outdo everyone…?”
“No. This one is from Ethan.” he gave her a delicately wrapped box. She looked at it and back at Bruce.
“He would’ve given it to you personally but… he turned himself in. He said that he was sorry and… for you to have a happy birthday.” he explained. She nodded and opened the box, revealing a scented oil gift package. She paid close attention to the three vials of oil: bamboo water, clean linen and rose garden.
“That was… really nice of him…”
After opening the rest of her gifts and finishing some cake, she thanked everyone and put her gifts in her room. She had an overwhelming sense of belonging; the other League members didn’t have to give her anything, not even a card. However, it thrilled her that quite a few went out of their way to get her something. She reddened once more as she put the lingerie set in the drawer however admitted that she, too couldn’t wait until later that night to try it on for her “someone special”. His gift to her, which caused almost as much commotion as the underwear, were a package of Oreo cookies; even the other members knew that J’onn J’onzz did not share his cookies with anyone! He retaliated simply that it was owed to her… for just that one time!
She made her way idly to the control room, where she knew that a certain Martian would be. He turned away from the center console and looked at her, a hint of a smile playing in his eyes.
“Enjoying your day off?”
“Not really; I’m bored! Figured I could do a little bit of work…”
“No. I gave you the day off for a reason. Maybe you should go and spend the rest of the day down on Earth.”
“By myself?” she tried, folding her arms and looking at him. J’onn gave her a smirk.
“I am tempted to go along with you. However, it’s your birthday… and I’m pretty confident that you’ll be safe around Dr. Lindsey and your family.” he answered. She was about to reply until a minor warning alarm sounded from the console. Without hesitation, Tabitha took over the controls, herself.
“You have two seconds to identify yourself; you do not have clearance on this channel…” she instructed with a strict tone. J’onn looked at her, a feeling of pride swelling in his chest; she had taken over without being instructed to. Her tone was firm and confident, as a Monitor’s voice should be.
“Dawling! I didn’t know you were running the show up there!”
“… Tee? What…”
“Didn’t think that it would be this easy… oh; sorry. Tony Stark requesting to speak with Tabitha…”
“What the hell… how did you get access to this channel?!”
“I’m a wealthy, genius engineer; you really had to ask that…? Which reminds me; you might need to update your system: a bit scary how easy it was for me to hack into alien technology…”
“Noted…” J’onn narrowed his eyes.
“John boy! How’s it hanging? Wait; don’t answer that: pretty sure dawling can answer that for you…”
“What do you want?!” Tabitha hissed at him, her cheeks aching.
“Happy birthday, for starters. Now, I will need a list of people who will be joining you in Vegas tonight…”
“Wait… what… Vegas…?”
“… The party was going to be at my place but I didn’t know if all of your super friends would fit. Easier for me to just rent out a casino… or build one for that matter… hmm; Stark Palace…”
“A party?! Hold on…”
“Nope; that’ll have to put on the back burner. Anyway; let me know by seven… no, make that eight-forty-five. Vanilla icing, yellow cake, right? Ah, doesn’t matter; you’ll have your pick of the litter: it’s your birthday, after all! See you tonight, dawling!”
“Wait…” she tried however the transmission ended. She simply stared at the console, “… But… I don’t wanna do nothing big for my birthday…”
Tabitha and Jamila walked inside the casino and was immediately greeted by Tony. He personally escorted the two towards the back to a private area.
“Couldn’t rent out the entire casino but the club and high rollers area is all ours!”
“Dr. Lindsey; nice to finally meet you…”
“Likewise, Mr. Stark!”
“Where’s John boy?”
“… Mission came up…” Tabitha slowly answered, her eyes still affixed on the private club and the setup inside of it.
“Maybe we’ll do something for his birthday. Okay, birthday girl; here’s some chips for the tables, money for the slot machines, unless you want your cake and drinks first?” he asked, giving her a plastic container filled with black, orange and grey casino chips and a bank strap worth ten thousand dollars. Jamila looked at the chips and money and whistled.
“Tell me you’ve been in a casino before!” Tony raised his eyebrows at her. She continued to look at the items in her hands and shook her head.
“Got it covered, Mr. Stark! Let’s blow some money, Tabs!” the professor guided the awestruck woman towards the slot machines, “Don’t worry about the chips for now; let’s start you off with something easy! Put a few bills in this one; I like the ‘Lucky 7s’ ones…” she sat her friend down in front of a slot machine. Tabitha widened her eyes at the cost.
“Doc! This costs twenty bucks! I get to play all night for that much, right?”
“What?! Wow, no! One spin costs twenty bucks!”
“One spin?!?! Holy fucking shit…”
“You sure you’re from Chat Town and not from some farm in the middle of Boon Fuck Egypt?!”
“Look, I ain’t never gambled before! I’ve seen it done in the movies!” she eyed her best friend. Jamila shook her head and sighed heavily.
“Just… match up the images; that’s what you’re looking to get! Damn; knowing your lucky ass, you’d hit after three spins…”
After cashing in her winnings and being treated to cake and champagne, Tabitha joined everyone on the dance floor and finally made her way towards the VIP section. She was surprised at who blocked her way slightly and simply stared at James. He gave her a subtle smile.
“James.” she nodded, “Surprised to see you here…”
“Tony and I made up. I would’ve apologized to you but… well, I don’t have a number to call you…” his flirting only made her roll her eyes.
“Really? You’re going that route when you know I’m still pissed at you and I have a boyfriend?!”
“Wow, you can hold a grudge…” he tried to lighten the mood. She simply glared at him.
“Move, James; don’t make me force you out my way!”
“Wait… I’m sorry, okay? You were right; instead of getting pissed off, I should’ve… acted like an adult about things. If it makes you feel better…”
“You didn’t even know what I was about to say!” he widened his eyes at her. A smile played on her lips and she had to bite them to keep from showing it, “Do I have to kiss you to make it up to you…” he narrowed his eyes at her when he saw the slight gleam in hers. It was enough to make her gasp.
“You wanna get shocked?!”
“I don’t know… it may be worth it…”
“Seriously… I will shock the shit outta you if you try!” her outburst made him laugh and shake his head.
“As much as I would want to… I don’t think it’s worth facing the Martian’s wrath!” he was glad to see her slightly smile, “I’m truly sorry for how things turned out. And… the armor is in safe hands.”
“Oh… no dups…?”
“No dups. However… I am the sole owner of the War Machine armor… and in charge of Homeland Security…” he smiled.
“Oh! So… War Machine, right?”
“War Machine leads the way in the fight against terrorism?”
“You would be correct.”
“Wow. Sweet fucking deal… welcome to the superhero club!”
“Does this mean I’m forgiven?” he asked, sincerely. She huffed slightly.
“Seeing as though you’re doing the right thing with the suit… I guess so.”
“Thank you. Maybe we could team up one day; War Machine and Sgt. Lyght fighting the good fight, keeping America safe…”
*edit* June 4th is J'onn J'onzz's birthdate