Author's Note: I'm . . . honestly not sure where this one came from. The idea just sort of popped into my head, and I wrote it all in one sitting. (Don't worry, I made sure to edit it.) I love the Huntress and the Question, and I suppose the fact of their own deprived childhoods made me think about what kind of upbringing a child of theirs would have—especially if the saner half of the pair wasn't there to help.

I suppose a premise like this could really have gone to the dark. But me, I'm an optimist, even dealing with character death. And you can't tell me Q wouldn't take good care of the only thing Helena had left him.

I suppose this is an AU of an AU, since it's set in the JLU 'verse but proposes a future twist on it. It may partially be my way of working out my anger at the Question's death in the main DC comics—but like I said, I can't write really dark stuff. I hope you guys enjoy this.

Tomasso calls Q a bad term. Please don't say this term to anybody who actually speaks Italian.

Rating: T

Disclaimer: The Question, the Huntress, and all associated characters and concepts (excepting Isaiah) are property of DC Comics, and I derive no profit from this. Please accept this in the spirit with which it is offered—as a work of respect and love, not an attempt to claim ownership or earn money from this intellectual property.


Well-Adjusted

by Totenkinder Madchen


Isaiah didn't have a lot of memories of his mother. The strongest was just a blur of color—purple and white and black, all sort of mixed together, with the smell of what he would later learn was machine oil and bowstrings. For some reason, Dad didn't keep many photographs of her in the apartment. The few they had didn't show Isaiah at all; just Mom and Dad, sitting on a bench or leaning against a wall somewhere, looking less like a responsible middle-class married couple and more like a pair of buddies out looking for a drink and a good time. One—the one that Dad kept in the kitchen, as if it could watch them making dinner or working on Isaiah's homework—was actually a screenshot from a news broadcast, one that Dad had done about a year before Isaiah was born. He was there, being his usual reporter self, interviewing a tall woman with black hair and a silver cross around her neck. The line of text at the bottom of the picture said "Helena Bertinelli, schoolteacher, 57th ward." Dad's face was in shadow, but Mom had been caught on her good side, and she was smiling at the reporter as if she couldn't quite believe she was lucky enough to have it all happening.

Of course, Isaiah knew that not everything was kosher with his very small family. Just Googling Mom's maiden name brought up a list of hits—mostly sites about the mob. Once, a man named Tomasso had turned up at the apartment, trying to sweet-talk Dad into letting him see Isaiah. "It doesn't matter what you think, family is family and that boy is my great-nephew," he'd been saying. It was the only time Isaiah had ever seen Dad punch someone, and Tomasso didn't come back.

"That's why your mother named you," he'd said afterwards as he rubbed his knuckles. For a reporter, there sure were thick calluses on his hands. "She said she wanted something as un-Italian as possible."

And Isaiah knew too that there were skeletons in both closets. Sage wasn't even his father's birth name. When he was four, he'd been sick—very sick—and the doctors had wanted to do genetic testing. When they'd asked about Dad's family, he'd given them the name Charles Victor Szasz but told them there wasn't really anything to look for. Sure enough, they hadn't turned up anything, and Dad had never been so relieved as when he'd found out that it was just a bacterial infection. Still, he insisted on bringing Isaiah to a specialist, just to make sure that there was no chance of any inherited diseases.

No, if Isaiah had inherited a disease, it was curiosity. He couldn't help it: he wanted to know everything. His dad's job as a reporter took him out of Hub City a lot, sometimes days at a time, but that was a fact of life; all it meant was that Isaiah could badger him for more stories when he came home. (And great stories they were, too. Reporters got to go everywhere.) But when Dad was gone, Isaiah would be looked after by one of Dad's friends, and they all indulged his curiosity too.

Mrs. Jones was probably his favorite. Mister Jones was a guy Dad worked with; he was tall and broad-shouldered, with heavy, too-sharp features and a weird slow deep voice. But Mrs. Jones, whose first name was Ming, was a prematurely gray-haired Chinese woman with a plump figure and the ability to make Isaiah feel that, no matter how crazy the world was, everything was going to be okay. He didn't get to see her much, but every couple of months Dad would be hastily packing for another emergency trip, and he would look over his shoulder and say "Tell Ming I said hello." And Isaiah would know that everything was going to be okay.

Once, he asked her why—if her home was China, and she met Mister Jones in China—she lived in America now. And she'd smiled and said "I don't. I teleport in just to see you, xiǎo Isaiah."

Then she'd said that she was kidding, but her smile made Isaiah smile back, and he couldn't resist badgering her for all kinds of details about what it was like to be teleported. She was great at making up things like that. One of his favorite stories was her "How I Married a Martian."

Most of the time, though, it was just him and Dad. He would get dropped off at school every morning, but walk the six blocks back home in the afternoon and let himself in with the key Dad had sewn into the lining of his jacket. If there was no babysitter, he would be on his own until about seven, when Dad got home. He'd learned how to cook fairly early, simply because he sometimes had to feed himself, and he and Dad would trade off dinner and dish duty. Afterwards it would be a toss-up as to what they would do. Isaiah played Scrabble with Ming and some of the other people who babysat him, but Dad seemed to have an instinctive distrust of board games (Isaiah had caught him using the word "brainwashing" once), and if they played anything it would be cards or the kind of games you could use pen and paper for. When he was eleven, one of Isaiah's classmates introduced him to Dungeons and Dragons, and it both thrilled and downright surprised him to see how quickly his father took to the game.

Of course, Dad was a crusading investigative reporter, so it was no surprise that he usually played Paladins. Sometimes, though, he would create a Rogue or a Ninja, and those games were the best.

But once a year, there were no games. Come rain or shine, work or not, Dad would pull Isaiah out of school. The two of them would climb on the A train at nightfall and ride it all the way out to the docks—a place where a red-haired man in a good suit and a little boy with a backpack stuck out like a sore thumb among the dockworkers and less-than-savory characters. Dad would pace back and forth on the concrete pier, looking up at the cargo crates hanging far above in the purple-gray dimness of a Gotham evening, and he would tell Isaiah about Mom.

Mom had been a Bertinelli, all right. When she was young, her parents had been killed in a mob hit by Steven Mandragora, their bodyguard. Despite the fact that Mandragora had tried to kill her too, Mom had grown up strong: "a real fighter," Dad would say. She and Dad had argued on the day they met. She had actually started out trying to manipulate him, getting him to use his press pass to find out more about where Mandragora was. Dad said she had actually contemplated doing something awful to the man, but that he had talked her out of it. "She was better than that."

And it had been Mandragora that finally got her, when Isaiah was only eighteen months old and Mom and Dad had been married for barely longer than that. Mom was just a schoolteacher, but Dad had said that even teachers could catch the attention of the wrong people. He was vague on the details, and Isaiah didn't ask. Here, his natural curiosity made his heart ache.

Finally, when it was completely dark out, they would leave the waterfront and visit Mom's grave. It was in a small cemetery on the outskirts of the city, endowed in the memory of St. Vincent of Saragossa. The grave was the kind that wouldn't make you look twice if you passed it: other graves had elaborate statues of weeping cherubs and sculpted roses, but Mom had a simple marker with a few lines etched in it.

HELENA BERTINELLI SAGE

THE HUNTED BECAME THE HUNTRESS

And above it, a cross. A cross crowned with arrows.

Dad didn't cry. Isaiah thought he didn't know how. But he would stand still, looking at the marker for a long time, before kneeling and crossing himself just once. It was the only time his son knew Victor Sage to pray.

Afterwards, he would stand back, and Isaiah would sit on the grave, making himself comfortable on his folded jacket. (Once, an old lady had been visiting the cemetery at the same time, and she had scolded Dad for letting him sit on the grave. "It's his mother," Dad had said, "and she didn't like ceremony. Go away." There had been steel in his voice, and the old lady had shuffled off, spooked.) Once he was comfortable, he would tell Mom about his year.

"I got moved to a new school," he said one year. "PS 11 got shut down because of that budget thing, so I'm going to Fermin now. Fourth grade is hard, but I wouldn't mind it so much if the counselors didn't keep bugging me. Mrs. Darcy keeps asking all these questions about the family, going 'Are you sure your life is fulfilling?' and 'Do you ever consider anything wrong with your familial situation?'" He imitated the counselor's nasal tone. "I tell her 'well duh, Mom isn't here,' and suddenly she wants me and Dad to talk to Family Services." He pulled his arms around her, and looked down—seeing not at the dirt, but at the image he had in his mind. It was that image that made his heart ache, the blur of purple and white and black that he couldn't find in any of Dad's photographs, but the one that said Mom to him more than anything else. "I bet if you were here, she wouldn't say that. I bet if you were here, you'd punch her out." The thought made him feel better. It was the kind of thing Dad said Mom would do. "If you're not too busy telling God what to do, send somebody down to make Mrs. Darcy back off, would you? I'm cool with it not being an angel or anything. Actually, a demon would probably be better. I'll bet you can tell those guys what to do too." He threw a quick punch at the air, quick and fluid, just like Dad had taught him. "Y'know. When you get the chance."


That was when he was eleven. When he was twelve, everything turned upside-down.

As a reporter's son, Isaiah got a lot of the news firsthand. He knew there was some kind of organized-crime thing going on, and that Dad had been working later than ever chasing down leads. Some of those leads weren't talking to the press, though, because Dad would come back with bruises and the kind of bone-tired exhaustion that made him fall asleep before he even made it to his bedroom. But it was on another one of those long afternoons, after Isaiah had come home from school and before he would even begin to expect his father home for dinner, that Tomasso turned back up.

Turned back up with five guys, too, all big and strong and decidedly unsympathetic-looking. From the way they busted down the door, they seemed to be expecting trouble, but they didn't find it. Tomasso ordered them to "case the joint. If Sage is here, make sure he don't give no trouble," before going down on one knee and talking nice to Isaiah.

"Hey, buddy. It's been a while. You've gotten big!" A smile. Isaiah automatically noted the number of fillings and catalogued the major facial features to describe to the police later. "That's all the Bertinelli in you. Our boys grow real big."

"Technically speaking," Isaiah said, "the Bertinelli in me is, at most, fifty percent. The exact structure can't be determined without a full DNA profile, and I haven't had one in several years. I also display the characteristic height of Scots-Irish heritage, whereas exclusively Italian families tend towards the stocky rather than the lanky."

That hadn't gone down well with Tomasso, but he'd chuckled indulgently anyway. "That's one of our boys, all right," he'd said, patting Isaiah on the head. "All us Bertinellis got a big mouth on us. Your uncle Tomasso was just like you as a kid."

"What do you want, Mr. Bertinelli?"

"I want to talk to my nephew is all. Your padre is a real figlio di puttana, and he seems to think you don't deserve to have more family than just him."

Isaiah didn't need to speak Italian to know a bad word when he heard one. Probably a really, really bad word, too. Dad had told him how to handle himself in incidents like this: "Reporters make enemies," he'd said, before detailing thirty-seven different ways to incapacitate a grown man from various angles. In a mob situation, though, Isaiah was strictly not allowed to attempt any of them right away. Bertinellis, come for their own, would be unlikely to hurt him unless he tried anything funny. When it came to Mom's family, Plan B was in effect. Isaiah scrunched up his nose, willing the tears to start.

The effect was immediate. Tomasso broke into muttered Italian cursing as he tried to soothe Isaiah, who could really bawl with the best of them when he started working up to it. A confession of fear, a stuttered statement of allergies (couched in the same clinical speech from before, convincing Tomasso that the kid had been putting on a scholarly front to cover his nerves), and Isaiah was allowed to go back into his room to fetch his "medication." Then the boy was summarily bundled into a long black car by Tomasso and the five other goons, the medication—and the tiny emergency tracker embedded inside the bottle—safely in his pocket.

But that was when the plan went wrong. Dad didn't come.

One day, two days, three days, and still Dad didn't turn up. Isaiah's carefully-constructed facade of panic started to turn into the real thing as, hour after hour, he found himself surrounded by hard-eyed men with crucifixes and guns that the tailored jackets couldn't entirely hide—all of them looking at him. Isaiah wasn't good at being in the spotlight, and he definitely wasn't good at being followed everywhere. There was a security camera in his new room, and as he lay awake staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night, he could see its little red eye watching him ceaselessly.

And every day, there would be meals with the Bertinellis. There were more of them than he had thought—few of them carrying the actual name of Bertinelli, but all of them related in some way or another, men with broad shoulders and gold chains and scars that he didn't want to ask about but couldn't help mechanically cataloging the same way he catalogued everything. They would sit him in the center of a row at the long table, every eye on him, and serve him foods whose names he couldn't even pronounce. And while he ate, trying to keep his calm and force the food down despite his roiling stomach and quivering nerves, they would talk to him. Talk at him, more like it.

Mostly, they talked about family. About being there for each other, about how blood was thicker than water, about how a man with no family could never be a man. About his mother, and how strong she had been, and how hard she had taken the loss of her parents. How important family was to her. About his father, and how he came from nobody, and how he disappeared so often and clearly didn't care about Isaiah very much at all. About Isaiah, who despite his red hair was every inch a Bertinelli, and who should be getting the best of everything and not going to some dead-end public school when he was clearly so much better than that.

And Isaiah just sat still, and nodded whenever they expected him to, and nibbled on his pastrami while wishing it was the half-cold leftover takeout he should be eating with his father.

It was on the fourth day that he was roused out of bed with a shout. The room was still dark: only the red eye of the security camera could be seen, and Isaiah fell hard when he stumbled out of bed. Something had smashed downstairs, and the hard-eyed men were shouting. Then there were gunshots, and Isaiah's blood ran cold. A half-muffled shout.

"Where is my son?"

Another gunshot, and something heavy thudded to the floor. Isaiah couldn't breathe. He knelt on the carpet in the dark room, knitting his fingers into the expensive Egyptian-cotton pajamas that the Bertinellis had given him, trying not to listen. He prayed.

Then, after what seemed like an eternity, there was a scream from one of the hard-eyed men. Not a shout, a scream—blood-curdling, the kind that ran down your spine without stopping at your brain first, accompanied by the sick wet crack of bone breaking. More gunshots, but the ruckus was growing louder, and the men's voices were growing more frantic. They couldn't stop the intruder. They couldn't stop Dad. Isaiah's fingers were bloodless where they clutched the expensive pajamas, paralyzed by the sound of the commotion and by the silent echo of his own prayers.

The door slammed open. Light flooded into the room, almost blinding Isaiah. A familiar silhouette—wearing that long coat he always wore in bad weather, and the hat and the slightly hunched shoulders—loomed in the doorway. Isaiah gave a strangled yelp and clambered to his feet, but Dad was already in the room. He picked up Isaiah as if he were a rag doll and clutched him, pressing the boy's face against the lapel of his coat as he hugged him. "You're alive," came the hoarse whisper, and Isaiah blinked away tears that had nothing to do with the bright light.

They were halfway down the hall, Dad still carrying him, when Isaiah realized the color of the lapel under his cheek. Blue? Dad didn't own any blue coats, as far as he knew. Maybe it was something he'd gotten for one of his undercover sting reports, the ones that had made him so unpopular with people like the Bertinellis. Isaiah glanced up, automatically checking his father's face for fresh bruises, when the notion of the coat's color was firmly wrenched from his thoughts by the fact that his dad didn't have a face.

It was at that point that the boy, emotionally wrung out from the past three days and absolutely terrified by what seemed like a horrible fever dream, passed out.


He swam back to consciousness slowly. He was lying on something soft, much softer than his mattress at home or even the deluxe thing at the Bertinellis' mansion. Everything seemed to be a blur of soft grays and whites, but there was something black at the very edge of his vision. Isaiah tried to focus, but his head hurt, and for some reason he felt very dreamy and comfortable. He could hear a soft murmur of voices, but none of them belonged to the hard-eyed men. One, the deep sonorous voice of Mr. Jones, was unmistakable. Relaxing slightly, Isaiah let himself drift back to sleep. Mr. Jones was creepy, but if he was there, then everything was okay.

When he woke up again, the world was much clearer. He was lying in a clean white bed, one in a row of identical beds, in a long ward with a white ceiling and soft dove-gray walls. His was the only bed that was occupied. And sitting beside him, slumped like a man carrying the weight of the world, was Dad.

Isaiah's heart leapt. He tried to shout, but it only game out as a garbled squeak: his throat felt dry, and it seemed as if he hadn't used his voice for a million years. But that was enough. Dad's head shot up.

It was the first time Isaiah saw his father cry.

"What happened, Dad?" He said finally, after Dad reluctantly let him go. "Did something go wrong? Where were you?"

Dad just shook his head. "That's the question," he mumbled to himself, as if he was still in shock himself. "Are you all right? They didn't hurt you?"

"I'm fine. What happened? Where are we?"

For some reason, that made his father smile. It was small, and Dad could never make a smile look entirely normal, but it was still a good sign. "You keep answering me with questions."

"You always say that we need to question everything . . ." Isaiah rubbed his eyes, trying to work the sleep out of them. "This doesn't look like a hospital."

"Why not?"

"No machines. No nurses. No other patients."

Dad stood up. For a moment, his head was bowed, and his face was in deep shadow. Isaiah twitched, remembering the bizarre vision he had had during the fight at the Bertinellis'. (He told himself he must have been imagining it, though: Dad's coat was the same old dark brown it had always been.) "Isaiah . . . what have I told you about the truth?"

The words came easily. "That there's the truth that people tell you, and the truth that you have to discover for yourself. And that if they won't tell you the truth, you should never stop digging until you find it."

"I haven't been telling you the truth, Isaiah." Dad's voice was strange—hoarse, and oddly toneless, as if he was pulling every word out under extreme protest. "I . . . I have a second job."

From an early age, Dad had been teaching Isaiah to ferret out the truth. How a person spoke, how a person moved, could tell more than what they actually said or did. And while Isaiah was getting that Dad was telling the truth, it wasn't the whole truth. So he sat quietly, waiting for his father to find a way to explain to him why Isaiah had been left alone with his mother's mobster family.

Finally, though, it seemed like Dad couldn't find the words. Instead, he stood up and moved to one of the long walls. It was just the same as the others, that same smooth gray, but Dad touched a small panel on the wall . . . And Isaiah found himself staring at the universe.

(Years later, when asked about that moment, he would just shake his head and say "It was the truth." And he might smile, just a little, but it was hard to tell behind that faceless mask.)

His father was in the Justice League. His father, investigative reporter Vic Sage of Hub City, USA, was a masked vigilante who was considered second only to Batman as a detective. Isaiah learned all this while he sat on that clean white bed, looking out the long window at the black expanse of space. Below, the great blue-and-white curve of the earth seemed to glow, its oceans sparkling in the reflected light of the sun. Above, the darkness of infinity, sprinkled with tiny stars and the red-and-pink gleams that Isaiah automatically recognized as distant planets. The moon passed below, utterly unconcerned with one twelve-year-old boy's shock: Don't mind me, it seemed to say. Just a billion-year-old icon of mankind's shared history, passing through on my usual orbit. Does this dark side make my mass look big?

Over the next few days, Isaiah met people. Or rather, he met them again. Mr. Jones explained things in his slow deep voice, even while his skin rippled and recolored itself into a shade of green that Isaiah had only ever seen on the news. A parade of people traipsed through the infirmary, each more colorful than the last, all seemingly unable to wait to catch a glimpse of him. "The Question has a kid?" seemed to be the most popular comment from the youngest members of the League, while the older ones tried their best to assure the boy that his life hadn't been a complete fabrication. And Mrs. Jones sat by his bed and held his hand while Dad told him the real story of how Mom had died.

His mother had been a superhero. That, of all the pieces of information flying at him on that crazy day, helped Isaiah focus. Dad had always seemed to idolize her, and a few times, Isaiah had caught himself thinking traitorously that she really couldn't have been as tough and smart as he'd said . . . But the Justice League gathered around and shared their stories of Helena Bertinelli, the Huntress, and he held Mrs. Jones' hand and let himself cry a little in fright and relief.


Epilogue

It was another cold night on the rooftops—cold even for the depths of a Gotham winter. The tall faceless figure wrapped his long coat around himself, shivering a little despite his legendary self-control. Breath from the unseen mouth and nose clouded in the foggy air.

A shadow flickered overhead. In a big city, the night was never really a hundred percent dark, and he could see the shape outlined in the dim glow of an old streetlight. It was just a person with wings. He relaxed, tucking his hands deeper into his coat pockets and trying to think warm thoughts.

With one sweep of his wings, Rex Stewart landed on the rooftop beside him. He was carrying two steaming coffees. "Thirsty, Inquisitor?"

"Freezing, Warhawk." The tall man accepted his coffee and fished in his pocket for an aerosol can, releasing just enough gas to let him peel up the lower half of the mask. "Thanks."

"You're not in Gotham much. I thought you could use some company." Warhawk perched on the edge of the rooftop, sipping his own coffee. Inquisitor noted with relief that Rex had gotten him exactly what he always ordered—double mocha with six sugars. (There were some disadvantages to taking coffee breaks with Wally West during your formative years.)

"I can't get used to it," Inquisitor admitted after a few moments. "It's bigger than Hub City, but there's less crime. My dynamics are thrown off."

"Picky, picky, picky. You'd think a Hubber would want to celebrate being someplace a little quieter." Warhawk neatly dodged the icicle that Inquisitor pried off the gutter and flung at him. "I see you used the opportunity to debut the new costume, though."

"No time like the present."

"Criminals don't remember her so well outside the mob circuit, you know." The winged man's tone was friendly but cautious, as if aware that he was treading on sensitive territory. "You won't be able to trade on an established reputation, the way the Batclan or-"

"Or you?" Inquisitor suggested laconically, sliding just a tiny bit of bite into his words. Dad had always been good at that, and the Inquisitor was his father's son. "The Batclan should know better than anybody that criminals are 'a superstitious and cowardly lot.'" The sharpness slipped, and he smiled a little as he sipped at his teaming coffee. "Besides, that's half the fun of it. You've got the wings, 'Hawk, but I'm just a guy in a trenchcoat with a white stripe. They always think they can take me."

"Yeah, I've got the wings all right." Warhawk sat silently for a moment, his own coffee forgotten. "Hey, Inquis—Izzy? Can I ask you a question?"

The Inquisitor smiled again. "Questions asked and answered. Fortunes told. Mysteries of the cosmos explored. The Inquisitor is in. Ask, feeble mortal."

"Why'd you do it? Go into the . . . family business?"

"Having second thoughts, 'Hawk?"

"Not me. Too much Thanagarian in me to turn down a fight." Rex grinned wryly. "But you're normal, man. You may be the Question's kid, but I'd swear you're the most well-adjusted of the whole second generation. You didn't even know about it until you were double digits. Why'd you do it?"

"Deep philosophical conundrums cost extra." The Inquisitor made himself comfortable on the edge of the roof, wadding his coat up under his thighs to give extra protection from the icy-cold concrete while he thought. "But if I had to boil it down to something simple . . . I guess it's because I'm well-adjusted."

Warhawk took a long drink from his rapidly cooling cup. "Bullshit. Nobody like that chooses to freeze their butt off on a grimy rooftop at three AM."

"So you're not, huh?"

"Nu-uh. No changing the subject. And remember—Thanagarian." Warhawk drained off the last of his coffee, and chucked the empty cup off the edge of the roof.

"Of course. No such thing as a well-adjusted Thanagarian."

"Thin ice, buddy."

"Sorry. You just make it so easy." The Inquisitor smoothed his mask down, but crumpled his own empty cup and tucked it neatly into his pocket. "And yes, I am well-adjusted. Despite the fact that my mother was murdered when I was a baby, and that my father raised me with babysitting help from a Martian's wife while maintaining a double identity as an investigative reporter and a crime-fighting vigilante, forcibly suppressing his OCD and apophenia and fear of the Illuminati and Freemasons so he could give me something approaching a normal childhood despite interference from a mob family which wanted to claim me as one of the last offshoots of a sadly decrepit crime dynasty. . . how did this eloquent sentence begin? I forget." Rex was silent, and the Inquisitor raised an eyebrow at the other man's expression, despite the fact that the half-Thanagarian would never see it.

"That's what being a hero is about. The rest of the stuff? The costumes and the beating people up?" The Inquisitor gestured to himself, at his long coat which was a shade between deep blue and dark purple, at the white stripe around the hem and his hatless, faceless head. "That's just window dressing. It's the inevitable side-effect of a program which is intended to, ultimately, promote virtue among the human populace." He shrugged. "I know who heroes are. I want to see more of them in the world. That's why I'm doing this."

Warhawk was silent for a moment. He sat with his head cocked, an oddly birdlike gesture. Then, finally, he shrugged too and stood up. "You know, for a guy who's supposed to an aggressive questioner, you sure do tell a lot."

"If you don't want some questions answered, then you shouldn't ask them." The Inquisitor stood up, smoothing down his coat and checking to make sure his mask was smoothly in place. "So did you just drop by to bring me coffee, or did you have something else in mind?"

"Jokerz meeting on 53rd and Carlisle, in about . . ." Warhawk checked his communicator. "Half an hour. Care to sit in?"

"Sure." The Inquisitor flexed his shoulders. "You're not going to carry me, are you?"

"Unless you want to walk?"

He sighed. "Great. Just don't drop me, okay?"

"Oh, ye of little faith." Warhawk flexed his wings. "Hey, speaking of dropping things—have you heard about the currency conversion?"

"The universal currency? Switching the dollar to the 'credit'?" The Inquisitor snorted as Warhawk lifted him off the roof, the half-Thanagarian's strength and wings easily supporting both of them. "Never happen. Dad's sure it's a conspiracy, of course."

"Your old man's really a one-note fiddle."

The city was dropping away rapidly underneath them, and the Inquisitor tried to ignore the sinking feeling in his stomach. He had never been good with heights. Still, he managed to look up at Warhawk, and the grin was in his voice if not on his face. "Hey—if it's not broken, don't fix it."