She gagged for air as he held her tightly around her throat, her feet dangling nearly a foot off the floor. The only thing she could do is look at him, confusion running amok in her eyes. What was happening; why was he attacking her? His red eyes glared at her, angry at her feeble attempt to escape. For the first time since meeting one another, she was truly terrified of him.
“I am not the Martian Manhunter you have grown accustomed to… and for your defiance, you will pay with your life!” he growled at her. Before Tabitha could register what he meant, she felt a sharp, excruciating pain go through her abdomen. As she went through shock from the pain, she willed herself to look down; the Martian slowly retracted his hand away from her stomach, blood dripping to the floor and seeping down his arm. It was… her own blood. She felt her body trying to shut everything down as her vision slowly blurred; the last thing she saw was a cruel smile painted on the Martian’s face. As darkness formed around her, the only thing she could hear was her faint, shallow breathing.
She popped up and gasped, trying desperately to catch her breath. She blinked until her vision adjusted to the dark, her body trembling and her limbs burning. A dream, she tried to calm herself down. She turned and saw that she was alone in her bed, a familiar charred smell entering her nostrils. Panicked, her shaky hands reached for the lamp and she saw what had burned; her sheets.
“Shit…” she held her head in her hands. She needed to calm down before she could think of anything else. Once her breathing went back to normal, she took a deep breath and willed herself to gather the tattered sheets.
Walking to the laundry room, she recalled her dream: she knew that she was in Watchtower but something was eerie about it. She had been approached by J’onn… or so she thought it was J’onn; he was dressed differently in an all-black suit garnished with a thin blue belt with two blue bands across his forearms and shins. His massive blue cape draped across the width of his shoulders and was held in place by a red orb (she figured it represented Mars). She was about to ask why he had changed his outfit until he roughly grabbed her and put her inside a containment cell. There, she met a man who offered to help her escape from who he called the “Justice Lords”. It was his demeanor that made her trust him; his green eyes showed sympathy for her confusion.
She threw the charred sheets away and looked for a new set, still thinking about the green-eyed, bald stranger that was more than willing to help her in her dreams. She blushed slightly as she remembered his touch as well as his willingness to put himself in danger so that she was able to escape. A chill traveled throughout her spine as she remembered what happened when the Justice Lord J’onn caught her. It all felt so real to her; the terror returned as she tried to close her eyes and forget about the dream.
He wondered what she was doing up so late and why she had found her way inside the laundry room. It wasn’t off limits to any of the League members; however, it was the civilians’ job to launder, not theirs. The Martian didn’t think that he would startle her so he was taken by surprise when she jumped and gasped as he touched her. She quickly turned and tried to back away from him, running into the folding table. Her eyes were overwhelmed with terror, her body began to quiver and her breathing became ragged; the sight was enough for J’onn to back away from her.
“Tabitha…” he tried and was completely taken off guard as a sob suddenly escaped her mouth. Tears ran down to her cheeks as she covered her mouth and collapsed into a ball on the floor. He didn’t care if anyone saw; she needed to be comforted. J’onn gathered her up and held her as tight as he could, “What’s wrong; what happened?” he didn’t like that she sobbed uncontrollably… and was stiff in his arms. The terror slowly left her and she realized who was holding her, waiting patiently as she calmed down. Tears still streaked down to her chin as she looked into his confused eyes.
“J-J’onn…” her voice quivered. He slightly sighed for relief as her body finally relaxed and she held on tightly to his arms, “I’m… I’m so sorry. I had… a bad dream…”
“There’s nothing to worry about. I’m right here. Was it that terrifying?” he half whispered, attempting to wipe the tears from her eyes. She gave him a weak nod.
“Y-You… killed me…” she started to tremble yet again.
“What…? I would never hurt you…”
“I know, I know. It just… felt so real. I felt everything! The way you… looked at me… like I was… disgusting…” she trailed off.
“Tabitha… it was only a nightmare… trust me; I would never look at you in that way…”
“It scared me to death…” her voice finally became normal, “You had joined this… ‘Justice Lords’ group and…”
“The Justice Lords? You had a dream about the Justice Lord version of myself?” the urgency in his voice was very noticeable to her.
“Black attire… blue bands…”
“You… h-he’s real?!”
“In a manner of speaking. Come.” he tried to pull her up with him however she was frozen with fear, “It’s okay. There’s something I want to show you.” he reassured. Still tense, Tabitha followed him back to the control room. With a few keystrokes, an image appeared on one of the monitors. She swallowed hard as the image from her dream was glaring at her from the screen; she didn’t take notice of the others, “The Justice Lords. A cruel version of the founding members from another dimension, an alternate universe. They trapped us in their world in order to take over ours. They’ve long become incarcerated… although in their dimension…” he pulled up an article that was published in The Daily Planet newspaper for Tabitha to read.
“What does he want from me…?” she whispered as she read. The Martian shook his head.
“It may be too early to jump to conclusions… even though I wouldn’t put it past them to do something like that.”
“Wait… who is that…?” she pointed to another picture on the page, “The bald man. He was there, in my dream…”
“… Lex Luthor was there as well?”
“That’s Lex Luthor?!”
“Yes. Was he helping out the Justice Lords?”
“No. He was helping… me.” the thought made her slightly blush, “He was… really nice.”
“He’s a master manipulator.”
“So I’ve heard…” she mumbled. She studied the picture of him; he didn’t appear to look like the bad guy that Clark and the others painted him out to be. However, she knew all too well that looks could be deceiving, “What does this all mean…” she couldn’t help but to wonder. J’onn put a loving arm around her shoulder.
“It could mean nothing. Just a simple… bad dream…” he had really hoped. The chances were slight that any of the Justice Lords would tamper with someone’s mind, especially one who had no connection to them or the incident. He couldn’t explain why Luthor was there, posing as a “good guy”; it was something that he would do, J’onn reasoned. However, Tabitha had met neither the Justice Lords nor Lex Luthor; he had doubts that her nightmare meant anything, “If it will make you feel better, I’ll sleep with you…”
“No… I don’t think I’m gonna go back to sleep any time soon…” she made the decision. She knew that she couldn’t; the dream was still too fresh in her mind.
“You’re on light duty until you get some decent sleep.”
“Tabitha… I will do all that it takes to keep you safe. There is no way that I will allow the Justice Lords or Lex Luthor… or anyone hurt you… not if I can control it.” he declared. She could only look at him, more tears threatening to cloud her vision. Without warning, she gave him a loving kiss.