She was grateful as her head hit the pillow, the softness of the sheets drifting her into almost immediate sleep. Tabitha had a rough night; after a slew of small missions, her day ended with a one-on-one with Mr. Freeze. She was confident that she would be able to take care of him herself; she never expected to fall victim to his ice ray. Luckily for her, Tabitha thought quickly and unthawed herself with her lightning. The effect of being trapped in ice remained even after the fight; the only thing she looked forward to was a warm bed.
She was too tired to feel Bruce shift beside her; she knew that he would eventually wrap his arms around her and fall back to sleep himself. Tabitha had to admit that they both slept better whenever they slept together; she dreaded the nights when they weren’t able to. Tabitha had slight thoughts of easing her workload for a while in order to enjoy more nights like that.
“…… I’m hungry…” the whisper was enough to make her open one eye and cringe. She thought against shifting, making her displeasure known. If she pretended not to hear him, maybe he would fall back asleep, she reasoned. Bruce Wayne would have to get up and get the food himself!
“…… Please… I’m hungry…”
“Go to sleep!” she nearly growled.
“I don’t care ‘bout you being hungry right now…” she mumbled. Bruce stretched and gave his fiancée a sleepy look.
“I’m tired; all I wanna do is sleep! I don’t wanna hear about you being hungry!” she told him, pulling the blanket over her head.
“… Are you talking in your sleep…?”
“… Gotta be sleep to do that; you’re pushing your luck, Wayne!”
“But, I didn’t say anything.”
“Ha, ha; very funny! Goodnight, Bruce!”
“Okay… goodnight…” he shrugged and cuddled beside her; Bruce made a mental note to talk about it in the morning. Tabitha huffed out a relieved sigh and began to doze off.
“…… Aren’t you hungry…”
“If you don’t leave me the hell alone, I’m gonna shock you! I mean it!”
“I haven’t done anything! Are you okay?” he halfway sat up. Tabitha snatched the blanket off her head and glared at him.
“I really ain’t got time for games! Five hours, okay? Can you give me five hours of fucking sleep and then I’ll fix you whatever you want?!”
“Tabitha… I haven’t said anything. Seriously; is everything okay with you?”
“You didn’t tell me you were hungry?”
“You ain’t been whispering to me?”
“I was sleep until you yelled at me. I don’t think that I talk in my sleep. Maybe you’re stressed and just… hearing things…” he tried to explain. She softened her look as she studied his face. His facial expression was one of genuine confusion and concern; he may have been right.
“I… I guess so…”
“You didn’t come across Joker tonight, did you?”
“No. Just that Freeze guy. He just… hit me with that ice gun.”
“So no gas or anything like that. Maybe you’re so tired that you’re hearing your own thoughts. It can happen. When was the last time you ate?”
“I dunno; lunchtime?” she shrugged. Bruce gave her a small smile and a caress on her shoulder.
“Go eat. Alfred made chicken gnocchi.”
“Pasta. In a wine sauce. It’s pretty good.” he lightly pushed her out the bed. She rolled her eyes but made her way down to the kitchen. It made sense, she told herself. Now that she was in the quiet of the manor, she realized that her stomach was indeed rumbling. Tabitha would eat whatever chicken gnocchi was and then let her body succumb to sleep; she seriously thought about letting Metro Tower know that she would be on call.
Ramil and Ashley appeared in front of Tabitha, waiting for further instructions.
“Uh… reporting for duty…?” Ramil looked at her. Tabitha turned away from the console to give him a smirk.
“Smart ass! Kal-El needs our help…”
“Seriously? He’s Superman…”
“I don’t wanna take no chances. He actually asked just me for assistance… which is a lot to be said about the situation!” she said to Ramil.
“Yeah… you’re right!” Ashley noted.
“Figured you two needed more time in the field. Plus, the three of us work well with massive attacks.”
“Delivering and receiving!” Ramil smiled.
“So, that’s the plan?”
“Pretty much. Help Supes out as much as we can on top of keeping the civilians safe. Alright; let’s go!” Tabitha ordered and the three left.
They weren’t prepared for what was in front of their eyes. Metropolis police had a few streets blocked off as they and onlookers watched Kal-El battle Killer Frost and Heat Wave. He was overwhelmed as Killer Frost blasted him with an ice beam while Heat Wave used his flamethrower.
“This is convenient! I got the flame guy, of course…” Ramil rolled his shoulders.
“I’ll run distraction. Oh! Yeah, excuse me officer?” Tabitha tapped one of the police officers on his shoulder, “You might wanna get these people out of here; there’s about to be a lot of fire and ice and lightning… and stuff like that!” she smiled as she charged up. She jumped over the barrier, following Ashley and Ramil. Ramil wasted no time as his hands focused on the stream of flames that hit Superman in the back; he reversed the stream back towards Heat Wave.
“What the…” the flame stream pushed him back a few feet, making him land on his back. Ashley did the same with the ice beam. Killer Frost looked back and gave both women a sneer. She threw an ice blast towards the two, with Tabitha doing a Lightning Cloud out of the way. Ashley took a balanced stance as she maneuvered the wave away from herself and the onlookers.
“You got her?”
“Yeah; piece of cake…” Ashley nodded towards Tabitha.
“Cuz apparently the police can’t do their damn job!” she noticed that no one had bothered to move away from the barriers. A series of screams drew her attention to a small, dispersing crowd, “Shit.” she had a bad feeling and followed the crowd. She tried to pinpoint what they were running away from, wondering if they finally got the point that things were dangerous for them.
“…… Watch out…” the whisper was heard even over the screaming crowd.
“Wha…” she turned just in time to see a ray of ice coming towards her. She pushed a few people out of the way, barely dodging the ray. Tabitha narrowed her eyes in the direction of the ray; she saw that Captain Cold had Lois Lane in one arm, his ice gun in the other. Without warning, she did a Lightning Cloud and was in his face. The slit visor hid his eyes but she was pretty sure that he was shocked!
Tabitha kicked the gun out of his hand, the sting that she delivered made him let go of Lois. Before he could recover, her fist connected with his face; she didn’t hesitate to add her charged up electricity to it. To make sure that he was completely stunned, she gave him a lightning charged uppercut. The hit sent him flying a couple of feet back, landing with a hard thud onto the concrete. Tabitha grabbed him as the police and the other League members showed up.
“Aw, man; you laid him out and I missed it?!” Ramil complained.
“Captain Cold… and Heat Wave… why were Wa… Flash’s enemies causing trouble here?”
“Maybe to get him to come out. It’s why I called you and not him for assistance. Good call to bring Reign and Blaze with you.” Kal-El looked at her. Tabitha shrugged and smiled.
“All in a day’s work! Do I need to call for cleanup?”
“No need. The damage was small. You three didn’t break a sweat…”
“…… I can’t always protect you. Not from here…”
“Are you okay?”
“Y-Yeah. So… right… we’re on cleanup patrol. No problem.” she mumbled.
“Anything else to discuss?” Kal-El looked around the room at the rest of the founding members. Everyone shook their head with the exception of Bruce. He gave out a small sigh before looking up at the man.
“Yes. A reevaluation of Tabitha’s mental state.” he suggested. It caught everyone’s attention.
“Something wrong with Tabby?” Wally asked.
“I haven’t noticed anything strange or off…” John noted.
“She’s… hearing voices.”
“… What?” Diana asked.
“We’ve gone through a lot of tests and it’s nothing chemical. Jamila’s ruled out the strand. I believe it’s mental.”
“What are the voices saying to her?” Diana asked.
“Surprisingly, nothing alarming. They’re almost like… reminders. To eat, get some rest; things like that. But the voices aren’t her own, I don’t believe. The first time it happened, she told me that they said ‘I’m hungry’ and then asked her if she was hungry as well.”
“Maybe… do you think it’s J’onn?” Shayera asked.
“We all know he wouldn’t do something like that. She would’ve known if it was him. At least the voices aren’t telling her to do anything bad. But, still; it’s odd that she’s hearing them. J’onn would’ve been the best one to reevaluate her. Maybe Dr. Fate could…” Kal-El thought aloud.
“Maybe she needs a shrink.”
“Wally!” Diana glared at him. He shrugged.
“I think Wally’s right. None of us are qualified but… I know a psychologist.” Bruce offered. Kal-El looked at him before finally nodding.
“Let’s get it arranged. That makes me think: we’re all always under a lot of stress because of what we do. It may not be a bad idea if everyone could get an evaluation every now and then.”
“That’s not a bad idea. We had annual mental evaluations in the Corps and then some whenever you were up for promotion. It was to make sure that you were fit for whatever job you had.” John agreed.
“Do you think your psychologist would agree to that?” Kal-El asked Bruce. He smirked.
“I’ll see what I can do…”
It was the last place she wanted to be and she continued to curse in her head. She had a feeling that Clark was trying to tell her something; she didn’t buy the “mandatory for all members” clause he threw in her face. She had really hoped that Bruce hadn’t opened his mouth about the voice she was hearing. However, if she wanted to stay with the Justice League, she would have to comply.
She sighed before opening the door where a small office setting greeted her. Nothing out of the ordinary; just a room with cream walls. There were a few certificates hanging up, along with a few drab paintings but no windows. In the middle of the room was a beige desk where a woman looked up at her and smiled. Her strawberry blond hair brushed past her shoulders in curls and her blue eyes sparkled as she smiled; the woman was actually beautiful.
In front of her desk was a similar colored chaise lounge. Typical, Tabitha thought. She was caught off guard as the woman got up from the desk and shook her hand.
“Tabitha? It’s good to finally meet you. Dr. Chase Meridian.”
“… Oh… I take it some folks been talking about me?”
“The founding members do speak highly of you. I’ve recently taken on the task of evaluating the Justice League periodically. Have a seat.” she waved towards the chaise lounge as she made her way back to her desk. Tabitha simply looked at it.
“Uh… do I have to?”
“Well… whatever makes you more comfortable? You can lay down, you can stand up… you can sit on the floor! You’re nervous…”
“Big understatement!” Tabitha huffed out.
“This session isn’t meant to be intimidating.”
“But… you’re gonna be analyzing my every move. So… if I lay down, you’re gonna jot down that I’m troubled. If I sit on the floor, you might tell ‘em that I’m wacko!”
“It sounds like you watch too much TV! There’s no way for me to psychoanalyze you just by how you choose to relax!” the woman nearly laughed. Tabitha sighed a bit as she finally sat down.
“So… I gotta tell you all my deepest, darkest secrets?”
“You tell me whatever you feel like telling me. How about we start off with how long you’ve been with the Justice League.”
“Oh… um… about five years now? It’s been… well, adventurous!”
“Do you enjoy it?”
“Yeah. I mean, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t still be there! Ain’t like it’s something you literally signed up for! I could leave if I wanted to.”
“Do you participate in a lot of the fighting?”
“Well… no. I pretty much assign who I want to do that. I do more of it now though but… I’m pretty comfortable being Monitor.”
“Something changed? Was it that you weren’t allowed before you became Monitor?” she asked. Tabitha’s eyes widened a bit before she looked away.
“Uh… well… I had a… slightly possessive boyfriend… ex-boyfriend. But, he actually meant well…”
“He was a superhero. Was he abusive?”
“W-What?! No! He was… the opposite. He didn’t want me out in the field cuz he didn’t want me to get hurt.”
“I see. So… he had the authority to prevent you from fighting. Which means… he’s a founding member. Interesting.”
“Wait… you ain’t gonna put that down where someone can see that… right? I don’t need folks knowing…”
“Unless it’s detrimental to your health or to the well-being of the other superheroes, everything stays here. Tabitha… why is he your ex-boyfriend?”
“If… if I told you… you’d definitely know who he is!”
“Be general, then. Nothing specific.” Chase explained. Tabitha thought about how she should word it.
“He… he invaded my privacy… and I freaked out. But, by the time I calmed down and wanted to talk things over… it was too late. He left…”
“Do you want to talk more about that or…”
“No; it’s in the past. Let’s talk about something else.” she rushed. Chase nodded as she wrote.
“Would you rather be out in the field more?”
“… Yes and no. Look… it ain’t all about that. I just do what it takes to make things right. If that means that I gotta stay behind and instruct folks then… that’s what I’m doing. I… every time I tried to be the hero… things got fucked up. So I’d rather be helping others than doing it alone.”
“So, you had a superhero complex but now you don’t.”
“A… superhero complex…?”
“It’s a term that evolved once superheroes and Metahumans became known. There are people out there, your regular people, who develop this hero complex. They feel the need to be some sort of savior. They see someone getting mugged, they immediately interfere, not worrying about the risk. It gets more complicated when a super human gets this complex. A lot of times, they’re physically able to be at so many places at any given time.”
“So… they get the need to save everyone… because they can.”
“Right. The problem is this: most superheroes may be able to do this without fail. So, what happens when there’s that one time where they can’t save someone?”
“…… It’ll be enough to make ‘em give up.”
“It was a good thing that your ex-boyfriend hindered you. Not to say that it made you used to failure but… failure didn’t affect you as badly as it could have. I see that you’re afraid to fail and that’s maybe the reason why you’re fine being behind the scenes.” she stopped and looked at Tabitha. The lightning woman sighed.
“Alright… I don’t like failing but who does, ya know? It fucking sucks. But… I used to have this problem with rage. They said that it’s something to do with my new DNA.”
“What would happen?”
“… I dunno. I mean, I know that I killed but that’s what people told me. I’d get I guess over emotional and then I’d black out. I’ve learned how to control it but… there’s been times where I’d get to that one point. Right before I black out.”
“You don’t like getting to that point. So, you want to avoid anything that will provoke that feeling. If you now recognize the feeling, you’re more than capable of stopping it. What are you afraid of?”
“… One day… I’ll just say ‘fuck it’ and let it ride through. That the one day I do that, I end up killing innocent folks. It was one thing when I couldn’t control it; everyone was so willing to forgive and help me out. But… if I just let it happen… that makes me a villain. I don’t wanna be a villain…” she mumbled.
“How would you feel if… it couldn’t be helped?”
“What if you had to choose to let a few innocent people die in order to save millions?”
“That’s a fucked up scenario to ask about!”
“Let’s face it, Tabitha; it’s bound to happen. It may have already happened numerous times. So… would you sacrifice those few lives to save the world?”
“Damn… I’d rather talk about my ex than this!” Tabitha shook her head and laughed a little. She had never thought about situations like that before. Those decisions were left up to the founding members, she felt. She would always voice her opinion, try to come up with a better plan however it was ultimately their final say, “I don’t think that decision would be left up to me…”
“I think that as Monitor, it very well could be. You’re taking a risk with other people’s lives…”
“Wait… is that why I’m here? Superman don’t think I can handle being Monitor?”
“He thinks that you’re doing a great job… he just doesn’t think that you see it.”
“So, he wanted you to get in my head to find out why? All you gotta do is straight up ask!”
“Okay, Tabitha. Why do you feel that you’re not good enough to be Monitor? Weren’t you trained by the previous…” Chase stared at Tabitha. A slow smile appeared on her face as she nodded, “The previous Monitor was your ex. The problem isn’t your confidence. Maybe we shouldn’t avoid talking about your ex…”
“I really don’t…”
“He seems to be the root of your problem, Tabitha.”
“I don’t have a problem; I’m over it!”
“Are you really? Do you find yourself getting angry or upset at the mere mention of his name? It’s what I’m sensing.”
“No; you’re wrong! He ain’t got nothing to do with anything! A few months ago? Maybe… yeah. But, not now! I’ve moved on; I’m getting married!”
“Do you really think that becoming Mrs. Wayne will solve all of your problems?” she slightly surprised Tabitha. She finally took the opportunity to lay back on the chaise, shaking her head.
“You know all of our aliases… don’t you?”
“I do… but I also know how to read. Tabitha… how long have you’ve been hearing voices?” she caught her off guard yet again. Tabitha sighed and looked away; her initial instinct was right: Bruce had told Kal-El.
“… It’s just one voice… I think.”
“Cuz they whisper. So, it’s the same tone. It ain’t like I hear voices all at once, jumbled up. It’s clear… like if I’m in a quiet room and someone whispers.”
“Are they telling you to harm yourself or others?”
“No. Which… is weird. Well, not that I’m depressed. But… I always thought that ‘those’ voices always told you to do bad things. This one… it’s like… daily reminders to do stuff. I get so busy that I forget to eat. So by the time I get home, I ain’t thinking about that; I just wanna sleep. But that voice… it will either tell me that it’s hungry or that I need to eat. About two weeks ago: I’m out helping Superman and the crowd just goes ape shit. I got this feeling that it wasn’t right, ya know? So, I follow ‘em, tryna figure out what’s wrong. That voice told me to watch out. I turn and there’s this beam of ice coming towards me! Wally, he knows all about these guys. He told me that had I not moved, I woulda been frozen to death… literally!”
“It sounds like it’s your voice of reasoning. For some reason, it’s become magnified to where you can literally hear it. That’s an underlying effect from stress, Tabitha.”
“So, what; I should meditate or something like that?”
“You need to take away the element that stresses you out. How you go about that… is up to you. I can only provide suggestions.”
“Are you telling me to quit the Justice League? That ain’t happening! Cuz if I don’t fight with ‘em, I got other people I could fight with. I can’t just sit on my ass and be Mrs. Wayne!”
“I never said that the Justice League was that element. Is that what you feel? That the Justice League brings you the most stress?” Chase asked. Tabitha rested her forearm over her eyes and sighed. They couldn’t be; she was in a comfortable position within the League. No one pressured her; no one hindered her. The only one she truly answered to was Kal-El and he pretty much left a lot of the decisions to her.
“No. They don’t. I’ll… figure it out…”
“There you go, Miss Lyght! And please: remove your ring before work next time! We don’t want that happening again!”
“Y-Yeah… thanks…” Tabitha mumbled as she examined the ring. She placed it back into the box and dropped it in the small shopping bag. As the two leave, Barbara gave Tabitha a smile.
“Maybe you shouldn’t wear it until you retire from the Justice League…”
“Shut up!” she lightly pushed the redhead, “Since you’re skipping and all, might as well make it a day. Wanna get something to eat?”
“Yes! I’m starving! Oh…” Barbara stopped dead in her tracks. Tabitha followed her gaze and narrowed her eyes at the sight of Selina in front of the two. She saw the beginning of lightning forming around the woman’s hands and immediately backed away.
“Look, I don’t want any trouble, Tabitha!”
“Then, what you doing here?”
“I want to bury the hatchet… and not literally.”
“You… calling a truce? Yeah, right!” Barbara spoke up for Tabitha. Selina sighed.
“Neither of us are in costume; why would I start something in broad daylight? My fight is with Bruce, not with you. It’s never been with you.”
“Oh, yeah? The museum…?” she narrowed her eyes at her. Selina sighed.
“That was business. It’s what I do. You were interrupting my job.”
“Well, as long as you make it your business to rob, then it’ll always be personal. What we supposed to do; turn a blind eye?”
“Most of the time, Bruce does. But, I have to admit: although I don’t like that you’re about to be Mrs. Wayne… you coming after me makes things exciting…”
“You’re a very exciting… and beautiful woman, Tabitha. You actually think that I nabbed that crystal for Bruce?” Selina closed the gap between the two, tracing the outline of the crystal around Tabitha’s neck, “I know you won’t believe me but I felt bad about what happened. Wasn’t it very convenient how you ran into me at Arkham?”
“W-Wait… w-what?” Tabitha’s eyes widened. Selina leaned in closer to her ear, smiling as she spoke.
“I’m the one who started the riot. I knew you would show up…” her words made Tabitha drop everything in her hands as a blush crept onto her cheeks.
“Whoa; what’s… going on…?” Barbara asked.
“Careful…” Selina bent down to grab the bag, “I just wanted to let you know that. So, no hard feelings?” she asked however she didn’t give Tabitha a chance to answer. Barbara gasped as she watched Selina pull Tabitha close and kiss her. Tabitha quickly pushed her away.
“W-W-What the fuck, Selina?!”
“Hmm… I expected some sort of… spark from you. But, it was still sweet so…”
“D-Don’t you ever do that, again! I don’t… go that way…”
“Too bad. Are we still letting bygones be bygones?”
“Yeah, whatever. Just… if you kiss me again, I’m shocking the shit outta you!” Tabitha glared at her. She gave her a smile as she walked past the two.
“Noted.” she gave her a seductive look before turning back to leave. Tabitha could do nothing but blush heavily as Barbara gawked at the two.
“So… you mean to tell me that it’s that easy? All I had to do was…” Barbara leaned in towards Tabitha. Her eyes widened but she started to swat the teen away, “Ow, ow, ow; it was a joke!”
Selina couldn’t wipe her smile away, especially as she glanced at the ring in her hand.
“Didn’t think it would’ve been that easy…”
Bruce gave his fiancée a smile as she walked into the study. His eyes lit up at the bag in her hand.
“Good; I was hoping that you would stop by there. What’s wrong?”
“What? Nothing.” she quickly answered before giving him a lingering kiss.
“… Okay. Well, hopefully, that will be the last time you take the ring to get repaired…”
“You gonna give me shit, too, Wayne?”
“You’re terrible…” she smirked, pulling the small box out of the bag, “Guess it’s a good thing I love you!”
“Wait… you finally admitted it? Are you running a fever?” Bruce playfully placed his hand on her forehead.
“Such a smart as… what the hell…?” Tabitha opened the box only to find it empty, “It’s… it’s gone…”
“The ring; it’s fucking gone!” she panicked.
“Okay; it’s okay…”
“No, it’s not o-fucking-kay!”
“Did you bump into someone? Did you show it to anyone?”
“I don’t know nobody here to do that!! Wait…” she felt her core temperature rise, “Oh… that bitch. That fucking conniving, thieving ass fucking bitch!!”
“… You ran into Selina… didn’t you…”
“She took my ring, though?! She had the fucking nerve to kiss me…”
“Wait, she kissed you…?”
“...all to cover up that she was taking my gaddamn ring!! Fucking bitch…” she started to storm out of the room.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa; Tabitha… sweetheart… let it go…”
“No, I can’t let that shit go! She took… my fucking… ring!!”
“I can give you another engagement ri…”
“THAT AIN”T THE POINT!!!!” she glared at him, making him immediately back away; he remembered the last time she was that upset. Bruce didn’t want to feel any more jolts!
“Can I at least make a suggestion?”
“If it don’t involve hunting her down, I ain’t listening! Hold up… you got her number. Call her!”
“Where’s your phone…” she went through his pockets and grabbed his phone, “I’m only gonna ask you once: give me your password.”
“That’s… not a question; that’s a demand.”
“If you don’t give me… your gaddamn password to this phone…”
“No! You really think she’s going to answer? Just… calm down and think! Or better yet, calm down!”
“You know what? I don’t need your help! Barb knows how to track her down…”
“Tabitha… don’t make me get Clark to calm you down.” he gave her a hard stare. It was enough to make her finally calm down.
“You’re gonna tell me to wait. That what she did wasn’t important…”
“You don’t think this upsets me? Of course it does! But, I know you. If you go looking for her now, you’re going to kill her. And for what? Over a ring? It’s not worth it; it really isn’t.”
“So… you want me to let her win?”
“Win what? Her taking the ring is going to stop us from getting married? We could go downtown right now to do that!” he smirked. He was glad that he saw a small smirk from her and hugged her, “If you go after her right now, then she won.”
“Fine!” she huffed out, “But, if I see her in the street before I calm down… it ain’t gonna be pretty!”