Hazardous to your Health
Summary: Ollie unwittingly takes the first steps to befriending the Question. Here's hoping his sanity can survive the trip.
Disclaimer: copyright, DC
Notes: I recently got to rewatch some episodes of JLU, and remembered just how much I loved Question. Anywho, I was watching Double Date, and the fight between Question and Green Arrow always bugged me a bit cause comic!Q was this badass kungfu master, and cartoon!Q lost pathetically to Arrow, who was, according to Black Canary, 'not a fighter'. So I thought about it, and changed things up just a bit. Sorry Ollie, Viccy did his hero-ing in Hub City, and they don't play fair there.
More Notes: I may have inadvertently stole the phrase 'self righteous Robin Hood' from Lady Jaye1's story 'Another Typical Night'. This was not done on purpose, and I'm sorry if this offends Lady Jaye in some way.
The Question was the League's data guy. Oliver Queen knew this, and understood that the faceless man's membership wasn't based upon his fighting skills. The Question was the man Leaguers went to get information, no matter how small or obscure, and then exactly what to do with that information to its maximum efficiency. Oliver knew this, and had actually used Question's unique resources on a few occasions in the past. But after the incident with Huntress and Mandragora, a nagging feeling had taken root in the back of Green Arrow's mind, and it took him a full week before he figured out exactly what that feeling was.
Concern. Concern for the Question.
Oliver wouldn't say he was bad at hand-to-hand combat. In fact, he would say he was pretty damn good. But he definitely wouldn't place himself in the top ten brawlers of the Justice League. His talents ran more towards the strategical use and pinpoint accuracy of his many different types of arrows. And he had beaten Question. One on one, in hand-to-hand, without really trying. And that was worrying. Worrying that one day a fellow Leaguer might be on a potentially dangerous mission without sufficient means to protect himself.
And so that was how Oliver found himself standing on a cushioned mat in the Watchtower's large and well equipped gym, across from the Question himself. Oliver was decked out in his typical workout garb – tank top and comfortable blue sweats, with his hands carefully wrapped and feet bare. Question was... well, Question's thin frame was slouched low in his ever present large blue trenchcoat, fedora still firmly on his head and hands still stuffed into deep pockets.
When Oliver had commented on his clothing choice and asked whether or not he would be more comfortable in something a little less... layered, Question had treated the blond to a blank stare and a simple "Fine like this." in a tone of voice that suggested Oliver was the one with a reputation of mental instability and Question was simply humoring the potential madman at his side. Oliver had given up trying after that.
Oliver stretched slightly, hopping from one foot to the other as he loosened his muscles, before squaring his shoulders and facing Question directly. "Alright Question, I'm going to come at you. Nothing too complicated, and I want you to defend yourself as best you can. Let's see what we have to work with."
Oliver hesitated, waiting for an indication of readiness from his sparring partner, and received only a barely audible 'huhm' in response. Knowing this wasn't going to end well if Question wasn't going to bother putting forth the effort, Oliver sighed softly, but went on the offensive without further ado. The blond swiftly crossed the few feet gap that separated him from the suited, faceless man, and threw a series of simple and fairly straightforward punches.
Question dodged left, right, not bothering to even remove his hands from his pockets, and kneed Oliver directly in the groin.
When both coherent thought and the ability to breath returned, Oliver found his face grinding into the sparring mat, shoulder joint screaming from an arm lock, and little finger being pushed just shy of actually breaking. Oliver gasped once, before wheezing out a semi-frantic, "Give!"
Almost instantly, all pressure was released. Oliver curled up on his side, wanting to cough but fearing any biological backlash if he did, and loosely hugged his arms close to his body. A watery, green eyed glared was thrown in Question's direction as the faceless man carefully crouched down near Oliver's head. If Oliver was expecting some gloating, then he was disappointed. Question remained silent, and extended a hand up when Oliver's breathe evened out.
With Oliver back up on now-steady feet, they both returned to their respective sides of the mat. The blond archer was now eying Question's deceptively slouched form with newfound wariness. "Okay. Let's try that again."
Oliver found little of the slightly clumsy fighter he had fought back in the front yard of Mandragora's safehouse. Question fought dirty, and just on the wrong side of vicious. All moves were done with the intent of damage, and subduing a little bit more permanently then Oliver felt comfortable with. Oliver was still stronger then his smaller sparring partner, and his form was noticeably better and more knowledgeable, but these advantages were certainly being pushed to keep him ahead of the strangely silent whirling trenchcoated bundle of potential pain.
Oliver was willing to put up with the split lip and the bloodied nose, the almost crushed kneecap and the almost sprained wrist, but had to draw the line when Question reached into a nearby weight rack and chucked a ten pound weight directly at his head.
"Hey! Wait just a- Woah!" Oliver ducked as another weight sailed by his head. "Time out!"
Question paused in mid throw, letting the third weight clatter to the floor, breathing heavily.
"Are you crazy?" Oliver remained poised at the ready despite the call for a 'time out'. "I'm pretty sure there's a law written down somewhere that says no throwing bludgeoning objects at your opponent's head during a sparring match!"
Question inhaled deeply through what sounded like his nose. "Wouldn't know. Never sparred before."
Oliver hesitated, dropping out of his fight or flight stance in his confusion. "What? Then how did you, I mean- Where'd you learn how to fight if you've never sparred before?"
Wry amusement colored Question's soft voice. "Trial and error."
Oliver tried to think of what exactly that was suppose to mean, and didn't like any of the answers his brain was taking him to. "Okay. Just- okay. I think we're done here."
The tension drained between them as Oliver took a step towards the middle of the mat, Question meeting him about halfway. The stiffness left the faceless man's shoulders, returning back to the familiar slouch that Oliver was use to, his suit even more rumpled then its usual state of disarray.
Oliver took a swipe at the blood staining his pale goatee, getting rid of the annoying tickle as the thick liquid slowly trickled down through the short strands of hair. He glanced down at the blood now covering his fingertips, remembering the rather savage right hook that had caused him to bleed in the first place. The archer then glanced at the Question, who had removed one of his gloves (The first bit of actual skin Oliver had ever seen of the other man, absently noting the pale coloring and thin fingers.) and was inspecting the damage done to his knuckles.
"You know how to fight." The tone was accusing and meant to be. "Why didn't you do... this," A wave towards Oliver's slightly beaten face indicated what 'this' was. "...when you fought me at Mandragora's?"
Question shrugged. "Didn't want you or Canary out of the picture. Might have needed you if I had underestimated Huntress' desire to ultimately kill Mandragora."
Oliver grunted, grimace both parts irritation and amusement. "Then why did you take me up on my offer for lessons?"
Question stilled abruptly, shoulders stiffening as if he had remembered something unpleasant. "Condescending." Question growled, and it was the first time Oliver had ever heard actual anger from the faceless man.
"Condescending. Didn't ask, just assumed. Pity." The last word was a near snarl, and Oliver almost physically flinched at the sheer annoyance conveyed. "Just because I may be paranoid doesn't mean I'm stupid. Don't need your pity, Green Arrow."
Oliver opened his mouth to protest, that there hadn't been any pity involved, that he didn't think less of the faceless detective simply because of the rumors and his strange habits and that he wasn't like the others, that he didn't think he was any better then him simply because he could actually fit into normal society without the strange looks...
Oliver opened his mouth, but nothing came out, because he thought back to when he had approached Question with his offer, in the middle of a crowded hallway in the middle of the busiest part of the day and he hadn't asked, he had assumed. Assumed that anything he was offering Question would surely accept, because he was Oliver Queen and he was sane and didn't believe in things like Girl Scouts and crop circles, and the Question... was the Question.
There had been pity. The intent had been pure, but... there had been pity.
And the long empty silence easily conveyed all of that.
Question nodded sharply, tugging his glove back on with rough, jerky motions.
"Wait, no, Question- I just wanted to help."
"Don't need help. I like you, Oliver Jonas Queen, with your left-wing socialist tendencies and your rather humorous and naïve crusade to protect the 'little guy'. But I. Don't. Need. Help."
"Question!" Oliver reached out and grabbed a hold of the other man's arm as he turned to leave, holding steady even as Question jerked back as if burned. "No. You're right. No, you don't need help. I'm sorry if I insulted you by dealing with you in anything less then a respectful manner. I shouldn't have- I shouldn't- Look, I was just doing what I thought I could to help keep a fellow Leaguer safe! Is that so wrong?"
There was silence for an unbearable five seconds. "...Robin Hood."
"What?" Oliver was still wary, but could feel the tense muscles underneath his hand loosening.
"Self righteous Robin Hood." A shake of the faceless head. "Can't be helped."
Oliver furrowed his brow. "Did you just insult me and forgive me at the same time?"
A blank stare was all he got in return.
"...Riiight." Oliver took a step back while simultaneously releasing his hold of Question's arm, strangely pleased when Question didn't immediately make a break for the exit. "Look, Question..."
"It's fine. We're fine."
"If..." A sigh. "Alright. That easy, huh? Maybe we can, I don't know, spar again sometime? Only without you trying to give me a concussion. You're a hard little bastard to get a hold of, and I admit it was good practice."
"Perhaps." Question took a step backwards, before turning and heading for the exit without a word of goodbye. Oliver watched on, bemused, but before the Question could disappear complete through the door, he paused, cocking his head back towards the stationary blond. "You're a good man, Oliver Queen, even if you refuse to step out of the shell provided by the common man's ignorance and see the danger of fluoridated toothpaste." And then he was gone in one final sweep of trenchcoat tail.
"...What's wrong with fluorinated toothpaste?" Oliver asked the now empty air, feeling confused, and wondering if maybe this was a common side effect of prolonged exposer to the strange experience known as the Question.