Weirdly, this is something I put together on *Tuesday*.

It's a DCU/Sandman crossover ("crossover"?), which by this point will surprise no one! I should note that regarding directly relevant canon, I've only read the 1988 Martian Manhunter miniseries. But you will still have a hard time convincing me I am *wrong*.

 
Prayers for the Living

When J'onn met her again she appeared to be human - but then, so did he. She stopped on the sidewalk in front of him, blocking his view across the street. It wasn't raining, but she spun a large black umbrella over her shoulder.

"Hello, J’onn," H'ronmeer said.

J’onn shaped his features into a frown, but she only smiled softly. She closed her umbrella and sat down on the stair beside him, crossing one pale ankle under the other. "It’s nice to see you again," she said. "How have you been?"

"You aren’t here for me," J’onn said.

"Well, not in any official capacity, if it makes you feel better," she said. "You just seemed lonely."

"Even if that were true," J’onn said, "you wouldn't be my first choice in companions."

H'ronmeer leaned back on her hands. "But here you are and here I am, and there’s no point for either of us to be *unsociable*." She shrugged slightly, light glittering silver over her necklace. "I’ll leave if you like."

J’onn didn’t answer. He stared ahead, watching the humans mill like confused insects. He let their minds rush over him as a muffled buzzing, moved through their curiosity and excitement and horror. A few impressions rose to the surface, brief waves of urgency and exhaustion, and everywhere the stench of soot and burned things, muted through human senses.

He lingered a moment near an ambulance loaded with blackened human shells, smoothing the desperation from the echoes of their last thoughts the way one of their species might close the eyes of a deceased friend. Then he tore away, opening himself to a wider radius of thought. Individual patterns melted into the shallow, alien sea of human experience. In the psychscape round him, H'ronmeer was an unreadable shadow, much larger than her physical area would suggest. J'onn didn't ask to be invited into her thoughts - it would take one stronger than he to withstand the inner life of a god - but the shape of her mind was quiet and familiar, like the gentle, eternal shifting of the sands on Mars.

J'onn pulled back. A dog howled a few streets over, and someone in the building behind had a cell phone commercial turned up too loudly on their television. H'ronmeer looked thoughtfully at the sky and tapped a drum beat with the tip of her umbrella against the cement.

"I was going to save them," J'onn finally said.

She nodded. "Yeah."

"I wasn’t fast enough."

"No."

"Three children," J’onn said. "But I have seen a whole planet of children die. It should be easier."

"Then you *have* been on this world too long." H'ronmeer said. She turned towards him, and J'onn saw a flash of dark and fire within her human-shaped eyes. "One life is no less important than fifty billion. That’s *old* knowledge, J'onn J'onzz. Anything else is just math."

J’onn paused. He said slowly, "I remember."

Across the street, uniformed police officers herded a group of people away from the ruined apartment building. The ambulance moved out, no lights flashing.

"Listen," said H'ronmeer, resting a hand on J'onn's arm. "There's a great little ice-cream place a couple blocks over. About 57 different flavours, and you can get plastic cherries and Oreo cookie bits on the top. Why don't we stop by?"

"No," J'onn said, and she took her hand away. She pushed herself to her feet and dusted off her pants. J'onn picked up her umbrella when she moved to reach it; it felt cool and real under his skin. He met her eyes as he handed it over. "But thank you."

She smiled back at him. "Another time, maybe."

H'ronmeer moved away on the sidewalk, humming an off-key version of an old Martian waking song. She paused a moment, scratching the head of a dog passing by and complimenting the hat of its owner, before vanishing around a corner. The shadow in his psychscape faded back into the noise of the city.

J'onn stood and walked across the street. For a minute the police and rescue teams moved about him, oblivious to his presence, and then J'onn reached around them and allowed their awareness to *shift*. Beside him, an ashen faced young officer jumped at his sudden appearence. "Detective Jones! I didn't think you were going to make it."

"I didn't," J'onn told him. "But I'm here now." He walked towards the investigative unit, ready to help.
 
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