It was no surprise that Tabitha Lyght made the decision to move from Watchtower to Metro Tower, taking on the responsibilities of becoming the Monitor for the embassy on Earth. After all the repairs were completed on Watchtower, the lightning woman was formally introduced as the new Monitor. Metro Tower was smaller than the massive space station however it was designed almost the same; there were individual rooms for the members who decided to make their home there, a gym and training area, a cafeteria and even a simulation program room. At first, she looked forward to finding a place out in Metropolis however she changed her mind; she decided to make her home on Metro Tower.
The old Tabitha Lyght would have accepted the promotion with a smug grin on her face, knowing deep down that she had deserved it. It was what the Martian had trained her on for the past three and a half years; it was only fitting that she would be named Monitor sooner or later. However, being a part of the Justice League had humbled her greatly. Almost everyone that she spoke with was more than a colleague… they were a family. She was more willing to stand back and follow rather than lead, unless it pertained to the ones she loved.
She admitted that it was going to be a difficult task being Monitor. Not because of the responsibility that she had… but because it meant to be a close partner to the Monitor of Watchtower. Tabitha knew of three members who knew about their relationship; the others she had deemed clueless: J’onn and herself had to pretend that everything was as normal as could be. Tabitha was secretly let down that it seemed so easy for the Martian; a bit too easy. It was as if it didn’t bother him at all as he had gave her last minute pointers when she was aboard Watchtower; she almost welcomed the move to Metro Tower, just so she wouldn’t be around him as much.
What Tabitha didn’t know was that it was much harder on the Martian than he had led her to believe. It had been centuries since he felt the pain of heartache… and he didn’t like it one bit. He had grown so used to her being by his side, making smart remarks every chance she got! Seeing how her eyes shone whenever they looked at each other. How soft her skin felt whenever he touched her; it had pained him to be near her every day before her big move and he was no longer able to touch her. To keep from going insane, he had to force himself to act as if he was just fine being her friend yet again. No… they were not even that anymore, he realized as he stared out into space; they were simply League members.
“… J’onn…?” Diana’s voice broke his concentration. He looked her way, “Is everything okay?”
“Everything’s fine; why do you ask?”
“You’ve been really… distant lately.” she tried to find the right words. Ever since the intrusion and the departure of the lightning woman, Diana had noticed a slight change in the Martian. It had been almost four years since the young woman had come aboard Watchtower; before, he was always silent, keeping to himself. Diana was actually happy that he had finally became attached to the new member; Tabitha had slowly brought out a more social side of J’onn J’onzz.
Now that she was gone, the Martian had not only reverted back to his old self but it seemed as though he was merely going through the motions of all of his activities. Diana had a feeling on what the real problem was: just like the rest of the League who decided to stay aboard Watchtower, he missed Tabitha. It was no wonder, Diana reasoned; the two had become just as inseparable as Tabitha and Wally were.
He put his attention back out the window, staring at Earth. He wondered what Tabitha was doing at that moment and if she even thought about him as much as he did her. Was she suffering as bad as he was, wanting badly to simply run to him and accept his embrace?
“Just thinking…” he forced himself to respond. Diana slightly sighed and joined him.
“It’s going to be pretty quiet without her here… isn’t it…?” she volunteered. J’onn gave her a slight nod, “I know how close you two are…” she continued. He gave her a quick look; did she know about their relationship as well? Before he could answer, she looked at him and gave him a sympathetic smile, “It’s not like she left the League, altogether. You look as if you just watched your oldest child go off to college!” she said. The metaphor made him smile a little; he was simply glad that Diana had no clue how close the two really were!
“… It certainly feels that way. Maybe I’m more worried if I trained her enough…” he half admitted. It was a true worry of his in the beginning however seeing how well she managed when the founding members turned themselves in had erased all of his doubts.
“She’ll be fine!” Diana laughed, “If she can handle Watchtower, running Metro Tower will be a piece of cake for her! J’onn… I think you’ve been cooped up in here for far too long…”
“… What…? I don’t… understand…”
“When was the last time you left Watchtower… just to leave?” she looked at him seriously. He opened his mouth to answer but thought against it; how would she take the fact that he had spent Christmas with the lightning woman and her family? Maybe nothing, he tried to reason; for all she knew, he treated her like a child and never had any romantic feelings towards her whatsoever.
“… I spent the holidays with Tabitha and her family…” he took the chance and told her. Diana gave it a thoughtful sound.
“… She forced you… didn’t she…?”
“… How did you know…?” he sighed out and she laughed.
“I think I’ve grown to know her just as much as you have; I’m pretty sure she didn’t want to see you spend it alone! How did you like her family?”
“… They’re a nice family.” he decided not to say more; he still enjoyed the fact that her family eventually treated him as if he was a human along with them.
“Maybe you should… observe more human life. Things have changed since the last time you’ve done so. I know you’re not too keen on humans but… you saw how Tabitha’s family was; there are more people who are like that than you think.”
“Are you saying that I should… leave the Justice League?”
“Not permanently. Just… take a break…” she suggested. There was that word again, he thought. But, maybe she was right. Maybe he needed to get away for a while. Everywhere he went on Watchtower was a constant reminder of Tabitha. He knew that he would always think about her regardless of where he went however… if he took away the factors that reminded him so much of her… maybe it would be less painful and more manageable.
“… That is something to think about…”
“Good. But, my advice? Don’t think… just do…”
“Holy… fucking… shit; I think you’ve finally lost it! Tabs…” the professor stared at her best friend as they sat in her kitchen, “Why in God’s name would you do something like that?!”
“I didn’t come here to get yelled at like a child, doc…” Tabitha looked down at her glass of juice. Jamila finally stopped pacing and sat down.
“Okay; what the hell did he do that was so horrible?! No… this had to be your fault…”
“W-What?! Why would it be my fault?!”
“Because J’onn J’onzz is the epitome of perfection! He wouldn’t do nothing to make anyone break up with him!”
“So… you’re saying I’m the fuck up…?”
“Wait… n-no! All I’m saying is… well, let’s list the main reasons for a breakup! Cheating… yeah, right; who would he cheat on you wi… wait… are there any other women in the League?!”
“Diana, Shayera, Kara, Vixen, Fire, Black Canary, Zatanna…”
“Okay, okay; whatever! I don’t see him cheating on you… do you?”
“… No. Doc…”
“Exactly! Now, back to the list! Hmm… being unemployed. Pfft!! He’s a fucking superhero who founded the League for Christ sakes! And… he can shape shift to whoever he wants to be; a fireman, a police officer…”
“Doc…” Tabitha held her head in her hands.
“Not done! Maybe he lied about… shit, what would he lie about?! Wait… is he gay? Oh, my God… if you tell me he’s gay, my adulthood will be completely ruined…”
“Doc, stop! Just… stop it!!” she was near tears. Jamila looked at her and slightly sighed, taking her hands.
“I’m sorry, hon. B-But… you come in here and tell me that you and J’onn broke up; how else was I supposed to react?”
“I don’t know; like a normal fucking friend?!”
“I was just tryna make sense of it all! Okay… what happened?”
“He… oh… gaddamnit, doc; he erased a fucking memory!” it angered her all over again. The professor could do nothing but look at her distraught friend.
“Oh, Tabs… I’m so sorry…” she apologized, squeezing her hands. She didn’t want to concentrate on how Tabitha knew that he had erased a memory; the point of it all was that he did, “Well… maybe… maybe he had a reason to…” she tried.
“… What?! First you say it’s all my fault and now you’re siding with him, completely?!”
“How would you like it if someone you thought cared for you erased a fucking memory from your mind?! Let’s not even get into the fact that he won’t tell anyone about y’all or that he’s used his powers on you before and God fucking knows how many other times!!” she yelled. Jamila pulled her hands away and waited until her friend stopped trying to hold in her tears; a few dropped before she angrily wiped at them.
“I… I would be just as upset, if not more. But… it depends on what memory they erased that shows how much they truly care for me…” she carefully explained.
“H-How could you say that? One of your memories is gone! A-And… you had no choice in the matter!”
“… There are a few things that have happened to me in the past… that I would give anything in the world to forget. I don’t know what memory he erased… but if he’s got as good of a heart that I think he has… I’m gonna guess that it was a memory that he didn’t want haunting you for the rest of your life. That by itself shows how much he loves you …” she explained.
“If he loves me… then why won’t he tell everyone else…?”
“… I can’t answer that. A lot of reasons pop up. Maybe they did things differently on Mars. Maybe… maybe he don’t want folks to look at you two negatively.”
“They… they wouldn’t do that…”
“How do you know?”
“I… I don’t…” she had to admit that it was a concept she had never thought about. The other League members may had looked up and respected the Martian… but who was to say if they would approve of a Martian being with a human?
“I hope it’s not the case… but it could very well be. But… if no one else caught on by now, then they’re all fucking idiots, anyway!” she was glad that her friend finally laughed even if it was a small one, “Look; who cares if no one knows? He ain’t ashamed of you; I can feel that!”
“What… you think he had reason to be…?”
“Well… like you always say… you ain’t the sharpest knife in the drawer…” Jamila held in her snicker. Tabitha widened her eyes at her best friend and pinched her on her hands.
“Bitch!” she laughed fully, wiping her eyes dry, “So, maybe… maybe I overreacted a bit, then?”
“Maybe a little. He meant well, Tabitha… I just know it…” Jamila explained. Tabitha just huffed and got up from the table. Maybe the professor was right, she thought. The Martian hadn’t had a relationship since leaving his home planet; he had never been with a human before. How much different were things, the question made her forehead wrinkle. Regardless, she had a feeling that what they may have deemed unorthodox could had very well been normal for J’onn. When she thought about it, what he had done really were acts of love. It finally started to make sense to her; it was the same reason why he made her sleep through that alarm: he didn’t want to see her get hurt… or terrified. She also had to be truthful to herself; the only reason why she flew off the handle was because he had absentmindedly reminded her of why she became too afraid to attack Ma’alefa’ak. Jamila was right: that image was something that Tabitha was just fine not remembering for the rest of life.
She wondered why she just didn’t sit there and listen to him; he had tried to explain himself fully. Maybe it was due to all of the stress she was dealing with; the demon possession, the memory loss, the back-to-back invasions: she had even almost lost her cool, going back to her days of letting her rage blind her. It wasn’t just her relationship that she was overthinking… it was almost everything. She foolishly risked her life; although it was to save her dear friend, she realized that the founding members had been saving lives well before she showed up. What haunted her the most was the fact that she ignored an order; had she simply stayed put as J’onn said, there would had been no serious injuries: the group got away with the Annihilator, regardless.
She glanced at her best friend and started to feel silly about her recent actions. This was someone who was on the outside looking in… but she was also someone who had been married for quite a while; she wasn’t talking nonsense. J’onn really did love Tabitha. And, she loved him.
“… I gotta go…”
“You gonna do what I think you’re gonna do?” the professor couldn’t help but to smile. Tabitha returned the smile and nodded.
“I don’t wanna hear ‘I told you so’ though! I’m buying some Oreos… and going to apologize…”
He was glad that Tabitha was nowhere to be found; he didn’t want to break her heart yet again. Diana was right; he needed to see the world and examine humans more. More importantly… he needed time to not dwell on his own heartache. J’onn called for all of the Justice League members so that he could tell them all goodbye. He didn’t know how long he would be gone but he promised that he would return. This time away could do him some good, could do both himself and Tabitha some good; it would give him time to think about what he had to do to regain her trust.
Bruce was confused; what made the Martian decide to take a leave of absence? And, where was Tabitha during all of this? He had figured that she would be by his side, that this would be a two part announcement: J’onn J’onzz would finally confess his love for Tabitha Lyght. However… she was a no-show. Did they plan this, he wondered. No; if she was leaving with him, she would have never accepted Monitor duty. He thought about how the two acted before Tabitha moved back to Earth; neither one was acting normal. As he shook the Martian’s hand, he made the sad realization: they had broken up. This wasn’t some out of the blue decision to leave; J’onn had been broken and wanted to get away from her… possibly as far away as possible. Bruce kept his thoughts to himself as Wally gave the Martian a huge hug; it was pointless now to let him know.
As he received the unexpected hug from Wally, he couldn’t help thinking about it; he would miss the others. For years, Watchtower was his home; the Justice League members were his family. As he made his way down to Earth and shifted into a random human form, he knew that he couldn’t fool himself: as much as he would miss the others, he would most definitely miss the lightning woman. He loved her, just as he had loved his wife; J’onn was going to do whatever it took to get his Tabitha back. The thought made him blush; yes: even if it took him years to return, she would always be his. He wasn’t going to throw in the towel that easily; he was determined to prove himself to her.
“I will be back…” he made the silent vow as he easily slipped into the crowd of people.
The one benefit of being Monitor was the ability to teleport back and forth between the two stations without informing anyone. She had hoped that it wasn’t too late to apologize to the Martian so that they could get back on with their relationship. Maybe she would learn to live with the fact that no one would ever know how they felt about each other; maybe it was a good thing, she tried to reason. One thought that she had was the reaction from everyone; she didn’t want people to assume that the only reason she became Monitor was because she was dating the Monitor of Watchtower.
She shook the thought out of her head as she materialized on the platform, slightly smiling at the white plastic bag; she had filled it with Oreos. She played out the scenario in her head: he would look up from the controls, she would offer the cookies as an apology and they would share a rather passionate kiss, not caring who was there to witness it. When she looked up, her smile immediately left.
“… Mr. Terrific…?” she looked at the dark brown man who was over the console. Outside of the Justice League, he was known as Michael Holt, one of the most intelligent people in the world, if not the universe. After being named Monitor of Metro Tower, Tabitha was told that had J’onn not took the time to train her, the job was more likely going to him, “What… are you doing here…?”
Michael smiled at her although he was taken aback at her question. He had no problem when she was named Monitor; he knew that the Martian was training her specifically to be his successor. What he wanted to know was why she was picked by J’onn from the beginning, although he pretty much knew the answer to that; the Martian had grown too fond of the lightning woman and wanted to protect her at all costs. While being named Monitor didn’t guarantee that, it did guarantee that he would have an even closer connection to her. Because of the apparent fondness the two had actually shown each other, Michael was surprised that he had left without telling her.
“Tabitha…” she quickly corrected him.
“Only if you call me Michael. I was wondering why you weren’t here yesterday.”
“I was visiting my family. What happened yesterday? Where’s J’onn?” she asked, approaching him. She knew that the Martian was upset and confused with her however she knew that he would not leave his post unless he was on a mission. Even knowing that, she was Monitor as well; she would have known about the mission beforehand.
“He’s… gone…” he saw the start of despair in her eyes when he spoke. She blinked a few times to try to hide the emotion.
“Gone? What you mean, gone? Like, on a mission gone or…” fear started to make her stomach ache slightly and slowly climbed into her throat. She swallowed it back down to her stomach.
“He took a leave of absence. I’m really surprised that he didn’t tell you…” he could tell that she was near tears as her brown eyes glistened. She looked away slightly, begging herself not to let him see her cry. What did he mean, a leave of absence; why would J’onn leave without telling her, her own voice screamed inside her head.
She wanted to shake her head; this was a joke, she tried to tell herself. It was a prank, an elaborate one; something to get her to make up with him. As soon as the idea entered her head, she knew that she was wrong: the Martian was not capable of pulling pranks, especially something this extreme. He would’ve done something simpler… like ask for her forgiveness.
“We all said goodbye yesterday…” he continued softly. Her eyes slightly widened at his comment. All of the anger that she had felt when she learned of the memory erase came back. He left… without telling her. He picked the one day that she was not around either station to leave. Not only that but… she was the only Justice League member he didn’t say goodbye to!
“Huh. I guess… I guess I missed out…” she tried to keep all of her emotions at bay; she actually needed to leave.
“Tabitha… is there any particular reason why you’re the only one he didn’t say goodbye to? I thought that the two of you were close…” Michael wanted to know. If they were more than team members, more than friends as he had expected, why was she the only one who didn’t know that J’onn had left?
To his disappointment, Tabitha sighed, laughed a little and shook her head.
“… I don’t know… you’d have to ask him. I, um… I think I left a few personal belongings in my old room…” she hurriedly mumbled and left before Michael could say more.
Tabitha rushed down the hall and instead of going to her room, she headed straight for J’onn’s. One of the things that he had shared with her was his personal security code; she entered it in the keypad and was surprised that it gave her an error beep. As quickly as he left, his code was reset. She tried one more time however heard the same beep from before. Without thinking, she gave the keypad a quick zap, shorting it out. As the door slid open, she went inside… and finally broke down. She tossed the white bag aside, curling up into a tight ball with her knees to her chest and let the sobs take her over. He was really gone; the room was completely empty. As much as she had really wanted it to be, it was no played out prank: the Martian Manhunter had left the Justice League… and Tabitha Lyght.
Thank you to those who took the time to read my story! Stay tuned for book 2 of the Lyght series, Beckoning Lyght! ... Oh... you thought we were done...? Ha; not even close! :D