Title: Ere/After

Genre: Cartoons

Series: Justice League Unlimited

Characters: The Question, Huntress

Spoilers: Question Authority

Rating: PG

Summary: Before and after Question Authority, a glimpse into Huntress' thoughts.

Author's Note: This is my 100th fic on the site, and I couldn't resist returning to one of my favorite fandoms to write it. I hope you all enjoy it.


Her cutting observation that to hide himself so completely must make him the ugliest man in the Justice League revealed more of Huntress than it ever could of the Question. The faceless detective didn't even bother to reply to the hurtful comment, instead inclining his head and she imagined that if she could see his eyes (brown, blue, gray, or green) they'd be full of amusement at her expense. He'd always seen far too deeply into her psyche; from the very first he could tell her motives from the smallest body movement, imagine her thoughts accurately with the slightest quirk.

Huntress didn't see herself as beautiful, not after years of fighting crime and being surrounded by women with the faces of Botticelli angels. She didn't doubt her face was attractive enough, but her body showed the real wear and tear of courage. Scars of all sorts and sizes covered her tanned skin, brilliantly pink before fading to matted white. Knife cuts so thin and smooth, bullet holes round and puckered, cuts rough and jagged; her bones and muscles ached from old strains and breaks and though Huntress wore her badges of honor proudly, Helena hid them behind long-sleeves and slacks. You can't explain those sorts of things on a primary school teacher; children wouldn't understand them and civilian adults wouldn't feel comfortable with her. Despite her secret life, Helena needed the comfort her children brought her. They were innocent, untainted by the ways of the world that dragged her down.

She thinks that might be what attracted her to the Question. Behind his mask, there was a sense of innocence that she'd never seen in an adult. It was almost like he wasn't all there, a piece of him was missing, and it made him vulnerable. His particular brand of courage was foolish and unthinking, like a child he ran into situations without grasping the likely outcome sometimes. Huntress' protective instincts in regard to him were impossible to ignore. Just as her attraction to him was impossible to ignore.

She didn't know when it started, perhaps when he stood by her side knowing what she was and intended to do. When others found out just how far she was willing to go in the pursuit of justice they didn't often stick around. Blood tends to spray in a wide arc and cover anyone too close; among the outcasts she was outcast. The Question had trusted her to meet the line and not cross it; dangerously close to smudging that line, but never crossing. There was a faith he had in the goodness of humanity, a hope that everyone had a line they wouldn't cross, and it was that which drew Huntress to him. Before that night, their hunt for Mandragora, she hadn't known she had a line. Maybe she hadn't; maybe the Question had drawn that line for her.

He was smarter than she was, the brains to her brawn. She was a force to be reckoned with, pushing, always pushing people and things and morals and the line. He was quiet to her loud, ambiguous to her bold. They didn't fit, they weren't the same in any way. He wasn't covered in scars like she was, he didn't know what it was to feel guilt or doubt; she couldn't grasp the patterns of his theories or keep secrets like he could. He was introverted to her extrovert.

They didn't fit.


She couldn't control herself and didn't want to try. He was bruised and he was bloody and she couldn't see his eyes but they weren't the same. He didn't feel the same and she wasn't an empath or telepath but she knew him. She knew the way his presence felt on the back of her tongue and she could taste the pain that clung to him in the aftermath. The doctors wanted her to leave so they could fix him but there was no fixing him. His hand was clenched tightly around hers so she couldn't leave even if she wanted to. They wanted him to remove his mask, to see the damage that lurked beneath and his hand tightened almost imperceptibly around hers. She glared at the doctors for their suggestion and without words made it clear that it wasn't happening.

If Superman hadn't been with her, she didn't know what might've happened. It was likely she'd have died, rushing headlong into overwhelming odds for the sake of a man she couldn't even classify in her life. He wasn't her boyfriend, wasn't just a friend, they weren't partners; could you love a man whose face you'd never seen, whose lips you'd never kissed? She knew the taste of his breath, the weight of his care, they didn't have room in their lives for labels.

If she'd gone down, fighting to the last, she'd have taken some of them with her. She'd have taken a lot of the Cadmus bastards down with her.

He only released her hand when the sedative took effect and she missed the hard feel of his hand immediately. His crushing hold was the only one that didn't chafe her around the edges; he could hold her to him with chains if so inclined and she'd let him.

That said more about how she felt for him than any foolish rescue attempt. It didn't take courage to tempt death, it took courage to come back from the edge when it seemed so easy to slip over.

She didn't leave his side while he was bandaged and put into a private room to rest. He now had scars to match hers, almost neon against his pale skin they glowed maliciously. She noted the placement and severity of each in her mind, she'd remember them when she helped hunt down those responsible and she'd make sure to mirror them on her prey. Her hands seemed darkly heavy against his skin as she cleaned the blood and dirt away and though he didn't move she knew he was awake from the stiffness of his body. She couldn't seem to make herself stop touching him, though; he was her line in the sand and the waves had crashed against him hard and left him blurred.

For the first time she wanted labels. She wanted to be able to mark him in a distinct box and file that box away because this strange sense of unease he brought to her chest wasn't pleasant in the slightest.

Then he asked her to remove his mask, the last barrier between them in this turbulent time and she knew.

His eyes were green.

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