Bruce was glad that he found her in one of her usual spots watching TV in the main recreation room. He knew that when she wasn’t doing any upgrades, she was watching a movie of some sort. There wasn’t a genre that she avoided when it came to movies and television; she enjoyed anything from comedy to horror.
She didn’t see him walk in, she was too engulfed into the movie, curled up slightly with a bag of popcorn in her lap. Even as she giggled and nearly choked on a piece of kernel, he still found her attractive. The thought only made him frown, as he remembered that she was taken. She finally noticed him, turned and smiled up at him.
“Hey; haven’t seen you in a while. Gotham got you busy?” she causally asked. He shrugged.
“You could say that.” he didn’t lie. The villains took notice that Nikki was no longer around and started to come out stronger than ever. He knew that it would be as simple as enlisting her help every now and then however he knew that the Martian probably didn’t like her out of his sight now that the two was dating. Bruce wanted to make it known that he had knew, that he had seen the two share a kiss but thought against it, “Glad I found you here. I need to know if you’re planning on keeping the apartment in town.” he wanted to know sincerely.
“Oh! Damn; completely forgot about it! My bad… renting it out to someone else?”
“A few people are interested so the landlord has told me. Think you have time to clean it out soon?”
“Yeah, I can clean it out now, actually.” she said, getting up.
“Only if you’re not going to keep it; I don’t want to pressure you or…”
“It’s okay; this is my home, now. I have to go to Gotham to clean out my old apartment; is that okay?” she sent her boyfriend the message.
“That is fine. You don’t need my permission to go to Earth. If you need any help, however, just let me know…”
“Need any help?” she had to laugh aloud that both thought she would need help, “What?”
“You forgot who you’re talking to; I ain’t no regular woman!”
“I know this!” Bruce said, almost dejectedly but eventually laughed along with her.
“Seriously; thanks but I got it. That goes to you, too. It shouldn’t take me but half the day to clean it and be done.” she kept her smile.
Her plan was to indeed get as much done before dark. She figured that it wouldn’t be a problem with the size of the apartment and how much little stuff she had in it as it was. All of the furniture came with the place so she was grateful that she didn’t have to deal with hauling it out. The only thing she really needed to do was get her belongings and clean.
Walking inside the apartment brought back a few memories, mainly those that involved Ethan Bennett. She tried to concentrate on all of the good memories which she admitted that there was really only one bad one. She sighed and looked around the apartment, making mental notes of what she needed to do. She decided to start in the simplest room first: the bedroom. She took her communicator out of her ear and clipped it to the side of her jeans pocket, replacing it with the earphones attached to her iPod; if J’onn wanted to reach her, he would have to use his telepathy.
It only took her thirty minutes to pack the rest of her clothes and belongings, clean up the bedroom and the bathroom before she danced out and into the living room. Seeing J’onn simply standing in the middle of the room startled her but made her smile. She took her earphones off and approached him.
“Holy shit, you scared me! Thought I told you that I’d let you know if I needed…” she was cut off when he embraced her and gave her a kiss. She was a bit surprised at his forwardness… as well as his roughness but figured that was due to how seldom they had moments like that. She smiled at first, about to kiss him back but suddenly knew that something was wrong. What they were doing… didn’t feel right. For one, she knew that he would have told her if he was coming down to help; he was not the one for spontaneity. Another thing that was bothering her was that… he was being rough with her. She immediately pulled away from the kiss and pushed him away, “… you’re not J’onn…” she realized. The accused imposter just smiled at her and transformed. His once humanoid head became elongated and sharp, his whole body became slender. His smile revealed sharp, almost monstrous teeth.
“Not bad for a human. I knew that you were pretty close to my brother; his stench is on you…” he growled. She was taken aback by numerous things, his words being one.
“… Brother…?” she mused. She knew that she didn’t know much about the Martian but she would have figured that he having a sibling would’ve been the first thing she would’ve found out. He grabbed her by the back of her head and yanked her towards him.
“Where is he? Take me to him!” he snarled at her. She had no time to dwell on J’onn not telling her a few things as she slightly smiled at his brother.
“You’re out your damn mind if you think I’m a tell you anything!” she thought. However, she saw that something wasn’t right. He continued to glare at her with his menacing red eyes and eventually jerked her towards him.
“What are you smiling about, human?! Tell me where he is!” he demanded. It was enough to make her come to her senses; she was going to have to defend herself. She charged up and shocked him, making him let go of her abruptly. She released enough energy to just startle him; she knew that she would have to release a higher voltage to keep him away from her. Just as she was about to do so, he grabbed her and flung her across the room. She crashed into the wall hard, nearly going through it and landing in the bedroom. As the Martian stalked her, she shook off her pain and did an immediate Lightning Cloud, appearing right behind him. She tried for a lightning-charged punch but he became transparent, sending her stumbling forward. She quickly looked around and realized in anger that he was invisible.
“Son-of-a-bitch…” she mumbled. Was this some sort of test, she asked herself. She quickly shook her head and tried to think of how to lure him back to visibility. No; J’onn wouldn’t do something this extreme to test her out, she answered herself. The only thing she came up with was to fill the entire room with lightning, scarring the walls and everything else in the living room. It made her growl out her frustrations when she saw that the move was in vain. The brother of J’onn proved that he had the same abilities… minus one, “What the hell do you want from me? Show yourself, you fucking coward!” she yelled and tried her attack once more.
“Such language and useless threats from a human woman…” he teased. A hard blow to the back of her head made her fall to the ground. She was suddenly lifted up by her throat and the Martian came into view in front of her, “For him to have fallen for you just shows his stupidity… or his sympathy for daft pests…” he emphasized the last word, squeezing around her neck harder, “Give me J’onn J’onzz, human! Make him come to you; I want to prove to him who is indeed the better Martian!”
“C-Call me… what you want… but… J’onn ain’t stupid…” she tried, “B-Better? You ain’t… better. Y-You can’t… even… read… minds…” she had no idea what possessed her to taunt the Martian; all she knew was that he had to hear it from her mouth. Her words made him snarl and slam her into another wall. His appearance changed yet again and it made her widen her eyes in terror. His facial features turned ghoulish, his red eyes glowing. He bared his teeth at her, which became even more sharp and elongated. She would’ve gasped had the monstrous Martian not had a tight grip around her throat. He laughed at the fear in her eyes.
“What happen to your words, human? Has J’onn never showed you his true form?!” he relished in the fact that she was too terrified to even produce her lightning, let alone speak once more. He knew that it didn’t matter if she told him where his brother was; killing her was definitely a sure way to bring J’onn out.
“Tabitha…” J’onn’s voice seemed to echo throughout the room. When his brother’s attention went towards her jeans pocket, she knew that it wasn’t just in her head. He located the communicator, snatching it from her side. His gruesome smile widened and a vile cackle erupted from his throat as he pressed the communicator.
“Why, hello brother…”
Bruce noticed that the Martian was frozen in place; had he been human, he would’ve been pale.
“What? What is it?”
“… Ma’alefa’ak…” was the only word he could mutter. It was enough to make Bruce’s eyes widen. The Martian had told the founding members the story of how his race was destroyed; his twin brother produced a virus that spread whenever anyone used their telepathy, engulfing the user in flames. When J’onn was transported accidently to Earth, he had figured that his brother had moved on to another planet, thinking that he was dead as well.
“Your brother? He’s alive? He… has Tabitha…” it angered and panicked Bruce at the same time.
“What have you done to…”
“Don’t worry; your pathetic human bug is alive… for now. It’s been far too long, my brother. I have a gift for you.” Ma’alefa’ak actually laughed as he pulled out a vial. He glared at Tabitha, holding the container inches away from her face, “Although… maybe she would appreciate it more than yourself! Tell me… have you wondered how the H’ronmeer’s Curse would affect a human…?”
“N-No! This doesn’t concern her! It’s me you want… not her!” his panicked voice only made his twin laugh.
“Then, find the human and come to me before it’s too late!” Ma’alefa’ak responded and ended transmission.
The two looked up at the apartment building and then slightly at each other.
“You sure this is it?” Ashley asked her husband. He took a map out, switching glances between it and the building.
“Yeah. We should be in the Financial District. The address is right…”
“No offense to her but… this looks too high priced for her…”
“Guess that’s why she’s moving…” Ramil said and the two snorted. They wanted to pay a visit with Tabitha but was told that she was in Gotham at the moment. The married couple never showed their gratitude for reuniting them with the professor and wanted to do so. As they approached her door, they thought nothing of it being slightly open; they knew that she was packing. However as Ashley pushed the door open wider, the two was caught by surprise at the sight in front of them; a green monster had the lightning woman pinned to the wall by her throat. Its grip was so tight, she could barely cough. A mix of relief and panic swept on her face when she put her eyes on the two. Ma’alefa’ak noticed and turned to see what had grabbed her attention but it was too late. Ashley saw a bucket on the floor and hoped that it was filled with water when she quickly raised her hands. She smiled as the water appeared and immediately threw it at the beast, turning it into a thin stinging whip. He dropped Tabitha and drew his attention towards the couple but before he could make a move, Ashley drew more water from the bucket and made it form a bubble around the Martian. Focusing hard, she made the water bubble form to ice, freezing the beast. Ramil immediately went to Tabitha’s aide as she coughed to catch her breath. She looked up wearily at the two.
“Ramil… Ashley…” she smiled.
“What the fuck was that?!”
“You okay?” Ashley asked the woman. She slowly nodded. As she started to glare at the Martian in the ice bubble, she saw J’onn appear at the door.
“J’onn…” she smiled out of relief. The cracking sound from the bubble made everyone stand still in their spots. Before they could blink, the bubble exploded, sending ice shards flying throughout the apartment. Transformed back to his first form, Ma’alefa’ak smiled at J’onn.
“Just as weak-hearted like the rest of your kind; did you come to save your human, J’onn? You should’ve died a long time ago however… I will enjoy watching you die in person…” he snarled and reached for something. The vial, Tabitha realized. She had no idea what it was but she knew that if it came into contact with J’onn, the effects would probably be deadly. She was glad that she saw it on the ground by Ma’alefa’ak’s feet and immediately picked it up, backing away from him.
“Looks like someone dropped something…” she taunted, drawing both Martians’ attention. Ma’alefa’ak growled at her and started towards her.
“You incompetent human insect…” Ma’alefa’ak took a step towards her. However, she noticed that he simply stood in place, as if he was frozen. The only thing that moved were his gleaming, confused red eyes, “What’s… happening to me…” he wondered aloud. Tabitha shot a look over at J’onn but he shook his head. It was then that she noticed Ashley behind Ma’alefa’ak, a hand out as if she was controlling a force field between the Martian and Tabitha. When she extended her left arm out, Tabitha was amused that Ma’alefa’ak did the same.
“What… the fuck…” she couldn’t help it; her reaction only made Ashley smile.
“Who’s incompetent now? Give him the bottle, Tabitha.” she kept her smile and opened her hand. Tabitha continued to look as Ma’alefa’ak copied the move and a smile finally crept on her own face. She did as she was told and Ashley closed her hand slightly. With a quick clench of her fist, the vial burst in the Martian’s hand, blue liquid oozing out.
“No!!” he yelled out in anger. A streak of lightning hit his arm, making him yell out again as Tabitha glared at him.
“Told you… you ain’t better…” she said. Before J’onn could move, Ramil produced a large fireball. Tabitha noticed that J’onn did everything but physically run away from the young man as he threw the fireball at Ma’alefa’ak, turning it into a spiraling wave of fire. As it engulfed the Martian and his body started to melt into a large puddle of bubbling green liquid, Tabitha realized what J’onn’s other weakness was. As the fire and the green ooze that was once a Martian dissipated, J’onn immediately went to Tabitha’s side, hugging her tight and looking her over.
“Are you okay?” he asked sincerely. She was about to nod but took everything in perspective as to what happened.
“No; you got a lot of explaining to do!” she put her attention towards Ashley, “You, too; how the hell did you do what you did?!” she asked. Ashley smiled slightly.
“I call it blood bending. I can control anything liquid, not just water; blood is liquid.” she explained. J’onn looked at her.
“That is a very powerful ability…”
“I know… and I try not to use it unless it’s necessary… but seeing that Miss ‘Smart Ass’ was taunting him…”
“He called me daft! I don’t even know what the hell that means but I know it wasn’t a compliment!”
“Uh… you know what; never mind…” Ashley tried to keep her laughter in.