Disclaimer: Copyright, DC
Notes: Whereupon which Ollie almost thinks the 'f' word in reference to Q, and Q is mildly surprised to have the 'f' word associated with his person. Also: only one more chapter left, people. Let's hope it doesn't take me another fifty-million years.
"Thanks, by the way."
"For the whole... Dinah thing."
The Question grunted.
There was no animosity coming from the faceless vigilante sitting in Oliver Queen's car passenger seat, as Oliver had been half-dreading. The other half of him, the half that remembered big toes and strange, off-color jokes during the month-long period since Oliver had done everything to completely severe the burgeoning ties between them except have the decency to come right out and say it. The half that had twinged with something like regret fueled by confusion when he had read the note attached to the small package left at his home address (discrepancies in her bank account) filled with papers (unidentified man with unhealthy obsession) and photographs
that had burned a protective rage into him that hadn't been quelled until the disgusting man had been securely behind bars and away from Black Canary. His Pretty Bird...
The half of him that had instantly known who the anonymously supplied package had come from, where the Question had gotten his information, why he had done the things he had done to Dinah. The half of him that wasn't simply angry at the Question for not just coming to them and telling them, but was instead worried about the man's lack of psychological and social connection.
That half of him hoped for animosity, perhaps even a stilted tirade on assumptions and inattentiveness. Anything but weary resignation. The expectancy of Oliver's reactions to Question's own actions (you're insane, he had said, and had meant it) and the quiet acceptances that had followed.
That- that had been so much worse.
Oliver raised his thermos to his lips, then abruptly halted the half-formed motion when he remembered the coffee within it had gone cold quite a while ago. He set the thing down on the small patch of seat between his legs, wrapping his hands around its smooth, metallic surface, and continued not staring at the Question. Green Arrow was on a stakeout, after all, one that involved catching a nasty group of drug suppliers selling their wares to an equally nasty group of drug pushers that liked to give cocaine to school children, which was much more important then trying to discern the emotional state of the faceless and mostly still man he almost considered a fr-
"I specifically asked for you to be assigned on this mission with me." Oliver watched the distant and poorly lit warehouse through the windshield of his deliberately nondescript sedan, trying to ignore the vague reflection on the glass cast by Question from the passenger seat.
"I want to say thank you."
"Huhm. Already did, Green Arrow."
"I know. I know I did."
Oliver tried to take another drink of coffee, scowled, set it back down, tapping out a quiet rhythm on its plastic cap. The reflection of the Question tilted its head minutely to the side. Oliver dragged his eyes away from the movement, feeling the presence beside him like a train wreck beacon. "Look. I just figured you should know I mean it. That I'm-"
Oliver stilled his fingers and silence reigned within the confines of the car. Across the night washed Star City street and down a ways, the warehouse stood, lifeless and stagnant under yellow streetlamps. The green-clad archer nodded once, slowly. "...Yes."
"Ah." Question's voice was pleasantly bland. "Self gratification?"
"What?" Oliver snapped his head to the side, green eyes narrowed under his mask. The Question continued to watch the warehouse ahead. "No-"
"Perhaps apologizing to alleviate guilt?"
At the far end of the street, lights appeared, twin beams that cut across the drab scenery. The car did not slow as it past the warehouse, past them and the row of abandoned vehicles they were parked amongst, past the distant traffic light that flashed red in a distant intersection, and swallowed up by the city beyond.
The car was gone. The hollowed indents where Question's eyes should have been were observing Oliver with the same infinite patience he had previously been observing their warehouse, asking his question again with his silent stare. Seeking and settling for nothing less then the truth.
Oliver met that invisible stare with his own sense of pride. "...Yes."
There is was again. That acceptance. Oliver hated it. No one should have to- "And no."
The dark head cocked to the side, an inquisitive gesture Oliver had grown familiar with during the time since he had started to let such familiarities happen. "Don't enjoy being lied to, Green Arrow."
"I'm not lying. I'm not. I'll admit that some part of me is doing this to make myself feel better, so that I can tell myself that I did my part. But... Look, you're crazy, but you're not crazy. Not really. You just think differently than most people. And, and, that's not really so bad." Oliver took a deep breath. The Question seemed frozen in his stillness. "What I think I'm saying is, ultimately the pluses outweigh the minuses."
Oliver waited. Finally-
"...I appreciate your vote of confidence in my mental stability."
The blonde smiled slightly under the curl of his goatee, hesitant and weak. "Yeah, but I'm not sure you'd pass in this democratic society."
A snort was torn from the Question's throat, half-strangled and fueled by unexpected mirth. The sound seemed to startle both the car's occupants. After a moment, Oliver smile softened, strengthened, shoulders molding back into the cloth of the driver's seat with the lose of tension he hadn't realized existed until it was gone.. The mouth of his thermos touched his lips.
"Damnit!" Oliver spat out the cold sludge that use to be coffee, glaring at the traitorous thermos in his hand.
The Question shifted with the rustle of layered fabrics, twisting his trenchcoated form between the two front seats towards the back one, gloved hand latching onto the handle of the insulated cooler on the back passenger floorboard. Inside the cooler, nestle between two heated packs, was a matching thermos to the one that was on the receiving end of Green Arrow's death glare. Question presented the cooler, and the prize inside, with the air of someone who thought someone else was simply being ridiculous.
Oliver regarded the new thermos, a touch sheepish. "I... was trying to save that for later. I only brought two, you know!"
"Yes, I can see how much use the first one is currently providing you."
"Ha ha. How cute. Sarcasm." Despite the flippancy, the archer still plucked the new thermos from its warm confines without further complaint, discarding the old with a careless toss over his seat's headrest. "And another thing! I really would prefer if you didn't argue against your own self worth."
Question released a noise that might have been an 'urk', hands curling about the side of the now closed cooler, shoulders curling inward as he settled down in his own seat. "...Huntress has told me similar things."
"Huntress is a smart lady."
"Also something she has told me, and quite frequently."
Oliver laughed then, full and proper, eyes drifting back to the yellow lights and broken windows and signs of human corruption. At his side, the Question began to hum.