Disclaimer: blah de blah don't own anything except the fic blah lawyers blah DC owns the universe blah. Just a little ficlet cooked up during my Freak Like Me downtime.

Selective Hearing



"Listen. If you listen closely enough, you can hear everything.

"You can hear the whisper of smoke rising over the rooftops, black fog disfiguring the face of the sky. You can hear the hum and grind of rusted machinery, huge metal behemoths gasping and choking and wheezing in strangled industrial death-throes.

"You can hear the sick gurgling of the water, thick as oil, in the harbor, and grunts and curses and snatches of sea shanties on the salt-slick air. You can hear the blood pumping through tattooed sailors' veins as their ship slices into the dock, hear the thrumming rhythm of their hearts, chanting drink and drugs and sex.

"You can hear crack babies screaming in filthy hospital wards as the acid rain sluices down and gargles in the open throats of sewers. You can hear the strike of a match, the crackle of burning paper, and if you're really listening hard, you can taste the tobacco in the back of your own throat. You can hear the footsteps as they pound over the steaming pavements. You can hear the click of the gun's greasy metal hammer as it pulls back, and you can hear the shot exploding. You can hear the bullet thudding into flesh, into muscle, into cracking bone.

"If you listen closely enough, oh yes, you can hear everything. Every cry from every starving mouth, every moan, every whimper. You can hear the whole world dying, abattoir beast in pain. If you listen closely enough.

"So you tell me," demands the Question, spinning on his heel, invisible eyes hidden behind his featureless face, "You tell me then, Helena. What exactly should I choose to listen to? How do I decide what to hear, and what to ignore?"

She, the Huntress, black and purple, an aching bruise in the burning cold night. She looks at him through cool, masked eyes, her arms folded over her chest. She shakes her head, black hair whipping in the fetid wind.

"You're getting weirder," she says.

And maybe it's the whisper of the wind as it travels across the harbor, warping her words, picking them to pieces. And maybe it's the muted roar of traffic down below them, golden headlights speeding over the bridge, into the Gotham night. And maybe it's just the smile that skerricks across her lips that turns the words into a declaration, a declaration of something else, a sweet-sounding chime, a quiet note of perfect music.

The Huntress' voice. If you listen closely enough, it could almost be someone saying the word love.

"Thanks," the Question says softly.