Rachael: This isnít going to fool anyone I hope you know.
Rachael frowns as she looks at herself in the bathroom mirror. Her curly red hair is carefully hidden under a dark wig and her sea green eyes have been transformed by blue contact lenses. Rachael picks up a pair of glasses and puts them on and frowns.
Rachael: Glasses, whoís going to be fooled by glasses?
Question: Would be surprised.
Rachael sees the Question standing behind her in the bathroom mirror and offers him a weak smile.
Rachael: If youíre sure.
Question: People think your dead. Have to make sure they donít find out otherwise. Until you can get proper documentation from my contact this is best we can do.
Rachael: Itís weird in a couple of hours I wonít be Rachael Thorn anymore. A stranger will be looking back at me, heck weíre already halfway there.
Question: Documentation just for security in case someone goes digging. There needs to be a paper trail and if we go travelling youíre going to need a passport.
Rachael: Weíre going travelling?
Rachael: Want to hear something funny?
Rachael: Iíd never heard of you and yet I trusted you. I know you have my best interests at heart and that youíd never hurt me. I donít know why I donít know you and yetÖI do. I donít know why I trust you to guide me. Does that sound weird?
Question: Not at all.
Rachael: You got an answer?
Question: Even if I did the pursuit of it yourself to answer the question will be far more rewarding.
Rachael: Yeah, yeah this is just another excuse like you chickening out of you finally spilling the beans about whatever youíre keeping from me.
Question: Why do you think Iím keeping something from you?
Rachael: Isnít that the question?
Rachael turns and winks at the Question as she fiddles with the clothes she found in the closet of the apartment. For a brief moment she was tempted to ask whose clothes they were but she knew she wouldnít get much of an answer from her friend.
Rachael: You donít have a face, thatís a bit of a clue. Iím not stupid you know.
Question: No, your not.
Rachael: Right I best get going but weíre going to have that talk when we get back.
Question: Agreed, as soon as you get back.
Rachael: Why didnít you just tell me earlier? Get it out of the way and all.
Question: Reasons will become clear.
Rachael shrugs and exits the bathroom picking up the handbag she found in the wardrobe and heads towards the apartment door.
Rachael: See you soon.
Question: Iíll be keeping an eye on you.
Rachael: I bet. Iíll keep an eye out for that answer I seek by the way.
Rachael leaves the apartment as The Question sighs and looks at his hands.
Question: I hope I too find the answers I seek Rachael Thorn. I wonder if Iíll ever stop wondering, if I made some horrible mistake so many months ago.
21 and a half months ago
Fate: Mr. Sage.
Question: Dr. Fate.
The Question stands on the ground floor of the Tower Of Fate looking up as Dr. Fate float above him with several old books orbiting him like moons to a planet.
Fate: Can I offer you refreshment?
Question: No, just here on business.
Fate: Very well just a moment.
Fate waves his hands and the books return to their rightful places as he floats down and stands opposite The Question.
Fate: What can I do for you Vic Sage?
Question: Zatanna sent me, mentioned you might be able to help me.
Fate: Are you feeling alright? Your speech seemsÖ.odd.
Question: Iím dying, lung cancer. Doctorís tell me I might have a little over a year if lucky. Some symptoms have developed, speech has become broken, some pain, hasnít been pleasant.
Fate: I amÖsorry to hear this.
Question: Iíve been seeking help. I donít want to die.
Fate: No man does.
Question: Got lots of work to do. Been coming up with back up plans just in case, might even train replacement but still thereís some matters I want to see to myself.
Fate: I see, have you asked some of the heroes for assistance?
Question: Been around the block, they all tell me the same. Seeked out more unconventional medicine in the form of Zatanna and she pointed me in your direction.
Fate: There is not much I can do for you Vic Sage. I can not intervene with the natural order. You are going to die.
The Question turns suddenly and knocks several books off a nearby bookcase.
Question: Not acceptable!
Fate: Destroying my property will not change the facts.
The Question stands in silence for a few moment before bending down and picking up the books he knocked over.
Question: Have lots to do. Things to look into, stuff people arenít even aware of.
Fate: Such as?
Question: If told you then you would think Iím crazy.
Fate: Try me.
After placing the books back the Question sighs and reaches into his trench coat and pulls out a file.
Question: Been working on this for a while. Always keep file close.
Fate: Go on.
Question: Do you know who Stephanie Brown is?
Fate: I do not.
Question: For a brief time she was one of Batmanís. She went by the name Spoiler for a time and took up the mantle of Robin before she was killed by the Black Mask.
Fate: That is mostÖdisturbing.
Question: It gets better. Thereís hardly any record of her. Itís as if someoneís gone to a great length to wipe away her existence. Rumour is that Batman himself doesnít even acknowledge her. Either heís more cold hearted than we all assumed or something more sinister is at work.
Fate: I fail to see what difference wiping away one little girl would do.
Question: Exactly, in the grand scheme of things she was a pawn at best. She knew something or someone thought she did.
Fate: Why have you taken special interest in this?
Question: I have my reasons.
Fate: Which are?
Question: Donít like the thought of kids being mistreated or killed then wiped off the face of the earth.
Fate: Perhaps you should discuss this with Batman.
Question: Canít draw attention to self, too risky. If information about Stephanie Brown is being wiped away then Iíll be target number one if someone found out about my investigation.
Fate: Iím flattered you trust me.
Question: Your business is mystical, your hardly going to be having dinner with gangsters soon.
Fate: Thereís something else isnít there?
Question: your good. Rumours of a new face in Gotham underworld also brewing. Someone operating out of Arkham perhaps, need to nip it in the bud.
Fate: You tell the truth Vic Sage when you say you have much left to do.
Question: So youíll help me?
Fate: I cannot help you escape death.
The Question lowers his head and opens his coat and places the file back inside.
Question: Sorry to waste your time then.
Fate: There is howeverÖ.alternative. It is however risky.
Question: Iím listening.
Hush: I said Iím listening.
Hush holds up a small ratty looking man by his collar up against a wall as he glares into the manís small eyes.
Man: I donít know I swear!
Hush: You are Billy Tate are you not?
Billy: YeaÖyeah thatís me.
Hush: You are Gothamís best kept secret I hear. You do work for both sides regarding aliases, some weapon work and other matters. Rumour is no matter what youíve never given up a client. Perhaps we can change that.
Billy: Look MrÖ
Billy: Mr. Hush sir. Iím just trying to earn a living and keeping all my clients happy helps me do thatÖ.
Hush: ĎA friend to all is a friend to none.í
Billy: I donít know! Whoever impersonated you a while back dropped off the radar! Rumour has it he tried to take on The Joker and paid the price!
Hush: I have just recovered from many, many months in a bed and I have a lot of rage issues to deal with. Me and my associates are taking over this town and when we do if I find out you do know something your existence will be meaningless.
Hush drops Billy who hits his head on the hard floor and groans.
Hush: ĎAll men by nature desire to know.í
Billy blacks out and doesnít come too until he feels someone shaking him.
Rachael: Excuse meÖ.are you alright?
Billy grunts and opens his eyes to see Rachael frowning as she leans over and shakes him.
Billy: Who are you?
Rachael: Iím here on behalf ofÖoh god what was it.
Rachael riffles through her purse and takes out a small piece of paper with a number on.
Rachael: Client 223
Billy: Ah right the ID papersÖ..
Billy climbs to his feet and stumbles and leans against the wall for support.
Rachael: What happened here?
Billy: Sorry toots I donít go spreading your secrets so donít expect me to spread other peoples cause of a few bruises.
Rachael: Do you need a doctor?
Billy: Iíll live.
Billy disappears into the back of his small store as Rachael glances at the phone.
Rachael jumps and turns as the Question stands beside her.
Rachael: Donít do that! I didnít even hear you come in!
Question: Not many do.
Rachael: He needs help.
Question: If you phone police, heíll deny attack and we wonít be able to use him again.
Rachael: This town is rotten.
Question: Well observed.
Billy appears from the back carrying a brown paper bag.
Billy: Thatíll be 7 big ones doll face.
Rachael reaches into her bag and hands over a pile of money.
Billy: Just doing my job.
Rachael: Question can you pick up that stuff?
The Question doesnít move as Billy looks up from counting his money.
Billy: You talking to me?
Question: We should leave.
Billy: Why what?
Rachael: Sorry about my friend here. Heís a bitÖodd.
Billy: What friend?
Rachael laughs slightly and looks from Billy to The Question.
Question: Please leave now Rachael.
Rachael: What is this a joke?
Billy: If it is I donít get it.
Rachael: Youíve worked with him before though right? The Question?
Billy: Oh right the no face guy.
Rachael arches her eyebrow as The Question shifts uncomfortably.
Question: This will not end well.
Billy: Nice guy we all miss him.
Billy: Yeah heís been dead like 10 months now.
Rachael nervously laughs and looks at the Question who tries to avoid her gaze.
Rachael: Thatís stupid heís standing right here. I can even touchÖ.
Rachael reaches out to touch the Question and gasps as her hand goes right through him.
Billy: Sweetheart I donít know what youíve been smoking but thereís only you and me here.
Rachael stands in utter horror with her hand going right through the very real form of The Question.
Question: Donít worry Rachael. I can explain everything.
Rachael pulls her hand away and soon the shock starts to be replaced by rage.
Rachael: You liar! Your nothing but scum! I thought you were my friend! I hate you! I HATE YOU!
Tears forming in her eyes Rachael leaves the small store in a hurry as The Question stands with his head held low.
Billy: Was it something I said?
Her name is Rachael, sheís only 21, her worlds just gotten bigger.