Six weeks at the most, she thought as she and Alfred watched Bruce ease himself in front of the Batcomputer. Both had offered their assistance however both were adamantly refused. She sighed a little as she leaned on the control panel.
“I’ll bring you some lunch, Master Bruce…”
“Oh!” Tabitha perked up and looked at the butler, “I can help you…” she tried. Alfred kindly shook his head.
“No need; I have a feeling that Master Bruce would enjoy your company more.” he smiled and immediately left. She could do nothing but glance at her feet, thinking of what she could do to make her friend feel better.
“… When did you find out about… us...?” she couldn’t think of anything else to talk about, Besides, it was something that had been on her mind since he confessed that he knew about the relationship. Tabitha also realized that the two hadn’t spoken to each other as much as they used to. She knew that dealing with the recent freak occurrences could be to blame, as well as her permanently staying in space. However, now that she was back in Gotham, she had looked forward to going back to that homey diner they used to frequent.
It slightly pained him to remember the exact day for more than one reason. Everyone was summoned for a huge, emergency mission with the exception of Tabitha; J’onn had used one of his abilities to make her sleep through the alarm. He didn’t like the fact that the Martian resorted to doing something like that to a Justice League member, especially to someone who had great potential in the field. Another reason it pained him was because he was about to confess how he felt about her… that was until he witnessed their possible first kiss.
He gave her a slight smile, regardless and waited for her to look at him.
“Do you remember the big mission that everyone went on?” he simply asked. She huffed at first, rolling her eyes. Of course she remembered it; “upset” was an understatement as far as how she had felt once she realized what J’onn had done.
Bruce’s smile turned into a light laugh as he watched her expression quickly go from annoyed to embarrassed.
“O-Oh… you knew from the very beginning. You… saw…”
“I did…” he didn’t know whether he was relieved or hurt to know that it was their first kiss he witnessed.
“… How did you feel about us…?” she wanted to know. Tabitha knew that Shayera thought nothing of it; she felt that it was “cute” that the two were together. Although they hadn’t spoken in a while, she still considered Bruce her good friend; she wanted to know his intake on the whole situation.
The question shocked him as he tried to find the words to say. Did he want to tell her the truth; that he didn’t like the two being with each other? Telling her that would mean he would have to tell her why he didn’t like it; he would had rather it been him and her, not her and the Martian!
Bruce was glad that someone entering the Batcave stopped him from answering. The two watched as a boy and a girl approached them, both looking no older than eighteen. Tabitha smiled at the fact that both had the same shade of blue eyes, almost as if they were related. However, the boy had jet black short cropped hair while the girl had fiery red, long hair. The two smiled at Tabitha as Bruce looked at them.
“Huh; either you’re giving free tours of the Batcave or they must be the two sidekicks!” she smirked back at the two. The girl’s smile widened as the boy stuck his hand out.
“Dick Grayson but… between me and you… I prefer Robin…” the boy introduced himself. She shook his hand and looked at the girl.
“You’re Tabitha Lyght…” the girl introduced for Tabitha, “Supply clerk in the Army, Justice League member for the past four years, current Monitor of Metro Tower.” It seemed as though she was excited to meet the lightning woman. Tabitha gave her a surprised look as Bruce looked at the two women.
“She’s an information specialist. Plus… one of the best hackers you’ll ever run into…”
“Barbara Gordon.” she finally introduced herself. Tabitha reluctantly shook her hand.
“A good thing you’re on our side, then…”
The four talked mainly about the reason why Tabitha was there. It was intriguing to her that Barbara not only knew a lot about her but she was an actual fan; she had become very excited to learn that they would be partnering up with a “real live super heroine”. Tabitha on the other hand, was surprised to not only find out that the two were just as skilled as Bruce but they both were barely seventeen.
A lot of things had changed since Tabitha lived in Gotham. There was a new police commissioner for one; James Gordon… Barbara’s father (she wondered if her father knew that she was a vigilante… and how that conversation would go when he would find out…). The new commissioner had stopped the Batman hunt immediately, encouraging the city to embrace him with open arms as a key factor of the police force. He even had a “Bat Light” installed, a signal that shone bright in the sky, indicating that the city needed his help.
Tabitha also learned that Bruce had become a father, adopting Robin. While she had been dealing with her own life, Bruce had taken the young boy in when he lost his parents; the Graysons were an acrobatic act and the parents were killed when a mobster ordered the tampering of the safety net. Once she was told the story, Tabitha knew that the two were well matched for each other; Bruce not only took Robin in but started training him vigorously.
Barbara had always been fascinated with the world of super heroism; she was actually proud living in a city that had its own protector, one who was also a prominent member of the Justice League! When she discovered the enigma that was Nikki Strykher, Barbara had to admit that she was a little jealous but even more fascinated; the white-haired woman had some sick moves and even sicker powers… and was Batman’s sidekick! She used her communication and hacking skills to find out everything she could about Ms. Strykher… and was very surprised at her findings! To say that she was thrilled to finally work with Tabitha was quite an understatement!
Tabitha was glad that Batman explained to the commissioner about his absence, slightly; the only explanation given was that Robin, Batgirl and Nikki would be the ones answering the Bat Signal for the next few weeks! The commissioner was fully aware of the three; he had seen that the two teens were under the caped crusader’s tutelage. As far as the lightning woman, he definitely had no problem with someone who even Joker was slightly afraid of!
Bruce looked at the three as they gathered in the Batcave; the Bat Signal was seen yet again. There were two things that he hated to admit; one was that he was actually flattered that Barbara designed her outfit after his: an all-black latex suit with yellow jagged gloves and yellow high heel boots. The bat symbol in between her breasts was yellow and her utility belt was quite smaller. Barbara’s cape was two toned; black on the outside and yellow on the inside: it flowed just as long as Bruce’s. Her mask was exactly like his, covering everything except her mouth and jaw however she left room in the back to let her crimson hair flow freely.
The other thing the he hated to admit: Tabitha looked great in her simple black synthetic outfit. He wondered why he never realized the fact, as well as there wasn’t much detail to her outfit; it simply hugged her curves. The all black also made her snow-white hair stand out even more; the effect in its entirety looked as though it was meant to mesmerize anyone who came across her.
Tabitha slightly cocked her head to the side to examine Robin. The boy was more toned than she realized, wearing a red vest with green short sleeves that stopped a couple of inches above his elbows. A yellow “R” was seen across his left breast and his green gloves had a medium length to them. It was his green tights (and she really hated referring to them as “tights” but they weren’t what she would’ve considered pants, either) that showed off the true tone in his legs. Acrobat, Tabitha silently reminded herself. His black utility belt had a gold buckle and his cape was the same two tone color as Barbara’s but fell slightly above his knees. He had on a simple black mask around his eyes and it amazed Tabitha at how different he looked.
Her attention went to Barbara, who simply gazed at her hair as she approached the lightning woman. Tabitha grabbed a strand and slightly smiled.
“Still kinda shocks me, too…” she smiled. Without warning, Barbara grabbed a strand and caressed it.
“Oh… it’s soft…” she was slightly amused; she had expected for it to be coarse, especially knowing what it went through to become stripped. Tabitha laughed.
“Wha… black folks can’t have soft hair or something?!” she continued to laugh as Barbara blushed. Bruce widened his eyes at Tabitha.
“Wait… you’re black?!” he asked; the comment made her throw her head back in laughter.
“Oh; smart… ass!” she continued to laugh. Bruce joined her in laughter as he approached her.
“Okay; all joking aside… I want to give you something.” he gave her what looked like a black mask. She looked at him.
“A new mask…?”
“I know that you feel that you have nothing to hide anymore. Unfortunately, that can’t be said for here. Things have changed since you’ve been gone.”
“Which is a good thing… right?” she tried. Bruce gave her a smirk and shook his head slowly.
“I just want you to be safe…” he decided to at least admit that. Tabitha studied the black mask and nodded. However, Barbara noticed that she had a confused look on her face and smiled a little.
“Let me help you.” she immediately volunteered. She slowly smoothed the jagged mask onto Tabitha’s face, stood back and admired how it put more emphasis on her hair. The mask formed on her face in a shape of a large bat, a somewhat modified outline of Bruce’s bat symbol; the bottom of the wings dipped down parallel to her bottom lip. Tabitha put her hands on her hips, posed and winked at Barbara.
“Not bad, eh?”
“Hmm… just missing a cape…” Bruce mentioned. Tabitha shook her head.
“Nuh uh! By the way you two looking at me, I’m guessing this is a bat mask so ain’t that bad enough?" she laughed, “What’s up with superheroes and capes?!”
“Are you kidding me? Capes are bad assed!” Robin contributed.
“Maybe you could do a short one…?” Barbara tried.
“I don’t do capes!”
“Alright, you three; get going!” Bruce shook his head and laughed. Tabitha and Robin headed out as Bruce quickly grabbed Barbara’s arm, “Oh, just to warn you… she doesn’t swing that way…” he half whispered, leaving the young woman blushing a slight red as she went to join the others.
She took in the night air and was almost surprised at the difference in it from deep in the city to the almost isolated manor. She had cried too many times for her to keep count and it still didn’t make her feel any better. She missed him, terribly. It didn’t matter how much time had passed since he left, she still missed him and wondered how long the feeling would last. She was also still frustrated that he left without telling her; she was upset about him leaving, period! If anything, she realized what she yearned was for some sort of explanation. Maybe that would make her feel better. Even if he didn’t want to get back together, knowing why he left would be something that weighed less on her mind and possibly her heart.
Being invisible, J’onn simply watched her and read her thoughts. Why didn’t he just show himself, let her know that he did love her and was hurting just as much as she was? He knew how she felt about everything; she wanted him back. Or… did she? The only thing he knew for certain was that she missed him a lot. That she was sorry for how she reacted. That she was upset that he left the way that he did. However, there were no clear thoughts saying that she wanted him back. He knew that there wouldn’t be; he still needed to prove that Tabitha could trust him, again.
When he made the decision to leave, the Martian at first explored and lived in Asia. The culture there was something that relaxed him and it would definitely try to keep his mind off of his heartache. However, it was no good. As he looked at the various, beautiful lands, the one thought that stayed with him: Tabitha would love this. When he saw that no matter where he went, he would still think about her, the Manhunter from Mars made the decision (and he had a feeling in the back of his mind that it may have been a poor one) to become some sort of guardian over his ex-girlfriend.
Another thing that was bothering him: he was jealous. He felt a hint of it when the two went to confront Luthor and the criminal mastermind made it obvious that he enjoyed whatever intimacy he had with the white-haired woman; J’onn knew that he had every right to be jealous. This was different. He knew that the main reason why Tabitha was staying with Bruce was to help out the Dark Knight persona out. However, the Martian wasn’t dumb; even without using his mind reading ability, he knew that Bruce was attracted to her: he had known for quite some time, even when they were dating. What made him narrow his eyes at the man as he approached the balcony was the idea that Bruce would be so bold to move in so quickly on his Tabitha. His Tabitha; that thought made him suddenly sad: she technically wasn’t “his” any longer. As much as it pained him, as many times as he had promised himself that he would be back… she was free to move on in the meantime. He sighed as he turned away, venturing back to where he had made his home.
Bruce was careful not to startle the white-haired woman; the last thing he needed was to either be shocked or suffer through another broken bone! He studied her for a moment, admiring how her hair gently moved in the light wind. He noticed that she was almost always on the balcony, especially at night and hoped that she wasn’t using that time to cry in peace. When he felt that he was close enough, he decided to make his presence known.
“… Tabitha…?” he was glad that she only turned his way… as well as seeing that there was no evidence that she was crying. She gave him a weak smile before turning back to look at the stars.
“You should be resting…”
“I’ll be fine. I just wanted to check on you.”
“Oh… I’m good. Just… it’s comforting here. You’re away from that… haze; I can see the stars from here.” she told him. He stood beside her, looking at the stars with her and nodded, “You know… Barb and Robin ain’t bad at all. They could take care of things by themselves…”
“They’re just kids. Besides, you strike just as much fear as Batman does! Plus… I needed someone to protect them…” he smiled at her.
“Sure I’m the right one for the job?” she smirked and shook her head at the idea. Bruce laughed a little.
“Still trying to talk out of this whole ordeal, I see! Am I that bad of a person?” he tried to hide more of his laughter. She swung her head towards him with a shocked look on her face.
“W-What?! No!!” she felt her cheeks ache when he finally laughed fully, “I should shock your ass for that!”
“Go ahead, Miss Lyght; it’ll only prolong your stay here!” he liked the fact that she gave him a playful smile and shove. Her brown eyes switched to a more serious tone.
“I just… don’t feel comfortable invading your home like this…” she admitted.
“Invading my… Tabitha… I asked you to come here; it’s not like you invited yourself!” he said. She stopped looking at him and simply nodded. He couldn’t help but to continue to look at her, wondering if he should tell her about his feelings for her. It would be sudden for her, he knew but Bruce felt that he had stood in the background long enough. She now at least had a right to know, he tried to convince himself. Bruce cleared his throat, “There’s… another reason why I asked you to come back…” he tried. She slowly looked at him, her brown eyes gleaming.
“What; you missed me or something?” the idea made her smile widely. It had been a long time ago but she remembered when she had faint feelings for the man. She admitted that he had very attractive qualities, both Bruce Wayne and Batman. However, his confirmation that she would only be his friend and colleague made those feelings turn elsewhere.
“W-Well… of course. But… more than you realized.”
“… Wait… what?” her eyes slightly widened. She couldn’t believe what came out of his mouth; he had missed her… more than she knew. Her eyes widened even more as he gently took her into his arms. While she was shocked at the move, she also found herself oddly melting as he brushed strands of her hair away from her forehead; she realized that it had been months since anyone embraced her the way that Bruce was doing. A part of her welcomed the embrace; it was something that she may have needed all along. Her heartbeat quickened as he leaned in closer to her, finally putting his lips on hers. She couldn’t explain it; she felt as if… it was wrong. She shouldn’t be kissing anyone else so soon after her breakup; wasn’t she still devastated over losing J’onn? So soon? How long had it been since she told J’onn that they should take a break from their relationship, she asked herself. How long ago was it that he decided to leave, basically dropping off from the face of the earth? It wasn’t like they were married and it wasn’t as if he had died suddenly, she tried to reason with herself.
She was also trying to figure out another thing; of all people… why was Bruce Wayne kissing her? Wasn’t this the same man who, a few years back was very strict on his “no dating colleagues” policy? She wondered what made him change his mind, suddenly. Maybe Bruce Wayne and Batman were indeed two totally different people; while Bruce may have constantly thought about pursuing her or even Diana, maybe even welcoming and yearning for it, Batman wanted nothing to do with that and love, period.
He finally let go of the kiss and looked into her confused and shocked brown eyes. He really didn’t know what to say to her; he hadn’t planned that far ahead! All he knew was that he was glad that he had finally kissed her… and that she finally knew how he really felt about her.
“I… I know that you’re… you’re still trying to get over J’onn. But…” he ran into a brick wall. What was he trying to tell her? He had been in love with her for quite some time but he suddenly felt bad about kissing her. Maybe he was too quick to try to make her forget about her broken heart, “I… jumped the gun. Maybe I shouldn’t have kissed you…” he realized. He let go of the embrace and turned to leave but she immediately grabbed his hand. The look of shock still registered on her face but was slowly leaving. He left; J’onn was gone, she told herself. This affection from Bruce… there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. She pulled him closer to her as a look of appreciation flashed across her face.
“No… that was what I needed.” she told him and returned the kiss. She tried not to think of what this would lead up to; the only thing she wanted to do was relish in the kiss and melt in his arms.