Author's note: Inspiration is fickle, unfortunately. While I've been busy trying to complete my second, hopefully decent GI Joe story, I wound up composing this on the side.

Please don't take this too seriously, guys; I'm not trying to lay down the law re canon here. This is a little bit of a character study, but it's mostly for humorous purposes.

Disclaimer: Query, Echo, the Riddler, and all associated characters and concepts belong to DC Comics. This is merely an exercise in humor, and is not intended to divert revenue from the owners of these intellectual properties.

Echoing the Riddler

by Totenkinder Madchen

So people take a look at us, and then they take a look at Riddler, and then they go "Whoooaa, he's banging two hot chicks! And I thought he was a nerd!" And Riddler gets it that much easier 'cause they think he's a stud. Me and Deedee, well, we usually think it's just funny.

Deedee and me. Query and Echo. The blonde and the brunette. The Riddler's henchwenches, and two of the baddest bitches in Gotham, thankyouverymuch. Sure, we're not on the level of, say, Poison Ivy or whatever. But we've got it where it counts. When Gotham sees us drapin' ourselves all over Riddler, everybody's cred goes up just a little bit more.

Thing is, the Riddler—Ed—well, he IS a nerd. He's the nerdiest nerd that ever nerded his way down the nerdwalk. But he's a scary-smart psychotic nerd. If we look like we're giving him sugar, he gets man points, and Deedee and I get that much higher on the Gotham Respect Scale. 'Cause who's gonna try and whack the girlfriends of a guy who designs death traps for fun? A little public groping does everybody a lot of good.

Honestly, though, if you asked me to sex up Ed to save my life, I don't think I could do it. He's . . . well . . . he's Ed. Kind of a cross between your little brother, that chess club guy who was always bragging about his grades, and the adorable little flop-eared puppy you saw get run over when you were in second grade. Deedee feels the same—hell, we usually do on this kinda stuff—and sorry, Ed, no dice.

Ed doesn't really mind, I think. He certainly never noticed that all the innuendos never actually get followed up on.

Granted, I don't think he'd notice even if every henchgirl in Gotham put their heads together and passed a No Sexing the Riddler ordinance. For a while, there was a rumor going around that he drove stick, if-you-know-what-I-mean-and-I-think-you-do, but really? I can't see that either. Catwoman incident aside (god, he's such a juvenile dingus) I think he just prefers puzzles to people.

And really, who can blame him? I mean, Deedee and I like riddles too. Okay, we don't like 'em better than a good fight or a hard fuck, but riddles are simple. Sorta. Once you figure a riddle out, it stays figured out.

Ed, well . . . nobody really knows where he comes from. For a guy who's all about the data, he's pretty quiet about who Momma and Papa Nygma were. But when he's off the clock, he can sometimes come off as more of a stupid high school kid than a scary genius guy . . . especially when it comes to dealing with people. Deedee and I kinda get the feeling that he uses the puzzle thing to help him figure out how the world works. Like, if he sees it as a puzzle, it becomes something he can solve?

People are confusing as hell. Riddles aren't. Sure, they can be tough, but riddles don't change their minds, or bitch at you about not spending time with them. And he's so stuck on them—using 'em to see the whole world—then maybe solving a riddle can be just as good as a fight or a fuck.

(Not that I'm saying he gets a woody off puzzles. In the kind of outfits we run around in, it's usually pretty easy to tell. Deedee swears she saw it happen once, but I can tell ya that my blonde buddy was seeing double after getting clocked a good one by Batman, and that she tried to make toast in the coffee pot the next morning. Sue me if I ain't taking her word for it.)

Wanna know a secret? Supervillains are some of the worst gossips you'll ever meet. And Ed, well, he's Mister Information in Gotham, and it's him that ties all the threads together. Thanks to him, we always know who's drinking, who's screwing, and who looks about ready to turn antihero. Poor Ed, though; him and us are some pretty hot topics sometimes. It kind of annoys him when someone in the Stacked Deck gets overheard going "So, with the cane, is he compensating or what?"

Okay, me and Deedee score him man points, and he scores us a little extra oomph on the Gotham scene. But I'll be the first to admit that we really do make it easy for all the salacious-type rumors to get started. To us, Ed's like a . . . well, a pet. Okay, a pet that pays our salaries and, y'know, could probably arrange to have us killed very, very dead. But occasionally, when he's hunched over his laptop with his hair sticking out around his ears and that look on his face that says "what's a good rhyme for 'mutilate'?" . . . Well, it's weird, but you kind of want to pat him on the head.

So I do. I'll be sitting on the table, trying to get his hair into something resembling order ('cause biker chick fashion is one thing, but if our hair is messed up, buster, you better bet it's messed up with style) and Deedee will be making sandwiches, because she's way more artistic at it than I am and always draws little question marks with the mayonnaise. Then one of the henchmen comes in, or Harley drops by with a message from the Joker, and before you know it, the gossip hotline is lighting up all across town with more rumors and stupid "Three's Company" cracks.

'Course, anybody who can read the newspaper these days knows we're not the only ones on the Riddler's arm. After we joined up, Ed had some kind of brainwave and decided "Hey! Two hot chicks are boosting my reputation. How about SIX?" So now there's me, Deedee, Quelle, Que, Quiz, Conundrum, and a few others kicking around the place.

Get this: it sounds stupid, but there was sort of a tiny turf war when the other girls started getting involved. Deedee and I had a pretty good thing going, and we'd been with Ed for a while at that point; we didn't want Amateur Hour sweeties with brand-new Spandex messing it up for us. There was some fighting, and a few asses got kicked. (The gossip hotline LOVED that. Somebody had the bright idea of dubbing us the 'Clue-by-Whores,' and it was all over the Rogue scene inside a week.) But wouldn't you know it? We're still number one, baby!

The rest are pretty good girls (except for Quelle. Bitch can fuck right off) but they've got lives and stuff. Some of them can't hack it full time, a couple others are too busy riding the crazy train to do more than pop in occasionally and help us shoot stuff. Deedee and me—we're committed. (Literally, sometimes. But we're usually only in medium-security, so it's pretty easy to bust out.) And we like riddles. Hell, we're not so bad at making 'em up, either. Plus, we work well with each other, when a lot of the other gals are busy squabbling.

No surprise there, though. Deedee and me, we've been tight, ever since we were in juvie together. And I guess we'll keep on being tight 'til we're old farts, or until the Batman gives us one concussion too many or something. We hang together, and we watch out for Ed too. He's one of us. We've spent a lot of time swatting superheroes off his back, lemme tell ya!

Naturally, that attitude makes us A1 nutballs to some. Ed's squirrely, he's kind of a coward, and he's spent so much time on his OCD that it's practically an art form. People who can look past the pimp cane and the hot girls get a bit of an idea of what he's really like, and those people have decided that Deedee and I must be as crazy as he is to spend so much time with him.

And they've tried to cure us. Cure us. Weird as hell, lemme tell ya.

Once, I actually spent three whole months in Arkham, and I wound up getting my head shrunk real bad. The docs there had me convinced that I was in a "codependent abusive relationship" and sharing a "folie à trois" with Ed and Deedee. (They made it sound dirty, like we were sharing toothbrushes or something.) They got me to stay at a halfway house and start doing charity work. And it was okay, I guess. But it wasn't the same, you know? I missed that life. I missed Deedee, and our pet Ed. I missed rooftop chases and riddles and the certainty of knowing that, no matter where I was bunking down for the night, I wasn't going to be alone.

Does that make sense? I've had some rough times, especially after hooking up with the Riddler's gang. I've been shot, stabbed, poisoned, clubbed, and been hung upside-down over a shark tank. I've been in and out of half a dozen jails and nuthouses. One judge declared me a menace to society, another said I was a victim of an uncaring system. Two months ago, I was caught in the backlash when a stray round set off a C02 explosion in the sewers. But since I got Deedee, I've never been alone. And since we started in with Ed, we've never been bored or at loose ends.

That's what the Gotham hotline doesn't seem to get. And you know—occasionally, that really starts to bug me. Sometimes . . . well, not everything is about sex.

This is a pretty crazy world, isn't it? It's got bat men and Men of Steel and guys who can make giant robots out of green light but die if you throw a banana at 'em. And Gotham, well, it's a looney bin with a couple of statues and a stamp. I never had anything or anybody 'til I had Deedee, and we were pretty much adrift until we washed up with Ed. I've got a tiny, incredibly fucked-up family, and we're hanging on. Deedee's my wife. The Riddler usually the boss, but sometimes he's the little brother, the puppy, or our whiny kid, depending on the mood. Why the hell would I want to "rehabilitate" out of that?

And that, incidentally, is why I ain't fucking Ed.