Her garbage was interesting. Extremely interesting. That was the first thing that he noticed about Huntress. Long before he met her. Not Batman interesting, who kept an incinerator in his room and was therefore was an eternal paranoid enigma. Or Wonder Woman interesting in that her trashcan was a Greek urn of unknown manufacture circa 405 BC. Superman’s garbage was somewhat comfortingly boring.
But the Huntress, no, her garbage was extremely interesting. In that way, Huntress was interesting. The sort of person who was made up of thirty-two and not thirty-one flavors. Her garbage spoke of deep seated rage, simmering frustration and powerful control issues. Then there was the note. On the back of a twisted Culinary Institute of America receipt for a chocolate cupcake (for which he got the recipe), she’d written, “If you’re not being watched, then you’re not doing anything interesting. Hello.” Below the message, she’d drawn an unsmiling face. A round circle with a single slash line of a mouth and two “x”s for eyes.
He thought that he might be in love.
But he wasn’t the sort to make that kind of decision without further homework. Her family history was the typical hero unintriguing story. He could write a simple algorithmic program that put together common background elements and come up with her story. Her story type came up 12%.
He asked around the Watchtower where everyone was always watching.
J’onn said, “Huntress does not follow orders and is out of control.” The shape shifter’s shoulders were rigid when he said that. His cloak, which was a part of him, hung still and straight to the floor.
Wildcat said, “She’s a nutjob.” Wildcat looked at the Question long and hard when he said it.
The Creeper said, “She’s like jazz hands hot,” here the Creeper made jazz hands, which since he was standing on his hands caused him to fall to the floor. He flipped back up to his feet and said, “She’s drum-roll capable of terrible revenge.” He leaned forward and dramatically whispered, “I drank her apple juice from the fridge, you know, the jug that she marked ‘Huntress urine - don’t drink’ and when she saw me, she hit me. On the head.” The Creeper waggled his eyebrows.
The Question’s findings were therefore inconclusive.
Then she came into his room and touched his strings. He sat there and thought, ask about the Girl Scouts. She didn’t ask. She let the connection between the Girl Scouts and crop circles hang in the air between them like a statement of intent. She walked up to him and blatantly lied to him about knowing anything about Cadmus in a transparent attempt to manipulate him. Given what he already knew, he took her on a date and slid over so she could drive his car. Which she drove like a maniac.
The question was, when she kissed him, why did she do it? He ascertained that in fact Thirty-One flavors did in fact have thirty-two flavors in a futile attempt to ascertain why she held his tie in the palm of her hand. Why she dragged him in a steady pull behind an aluminum sided shed. Why she said, “If we’re going to date, we’ve got to get one thing out of the way right now. In a fight, I could break you like a twig.”
He said, “Why are we bothering to have this conversation? In a fight, I’d start by gassing until you lost consciousness during the discussion of boy bands. What do you think of Boyz to Men?’
She held his tie taunt in her hand and she kissed him. Although, apparently that did not mean that she liked bands with spelling disorders. It did mean that she hooked her foot around his legs and toppled him to the ground and he lost his hat behind some barrels. She pinned him to the ground and said, “Sure you would.” She breathed in his ear. “If you ever knock me out, I will hang you from a tree with your shoe strings.”
He whispered up to her, “The things on the ends of shoe strings are called aglets and their purpose is sinister!”
She whispered back, “Not a problem. I’m ambidextrous and an excellent multi-tasker.” She demonstrated both. It was very illuminating and it took him three days to remember to go back for his hat.
She left him a note in her garbage on the back of an almond joy wrapper. She’d chewed on the edges of the paper. The note read, “Sometimes I feel like a nut.” There was an unsmiling face. One of it’s “x” eyes was a “y”. The slash of a mouth had a upward curve at one end.
Somewhat uncertain, and not sure how she would break into the Watchtower now that she was no longer a member of the league, but decided to have faith that she was capable of anything, he left her a mix CD in his trash can. The first song was Boyz to Men. After that was the best of his collection of villain’s monologues and rants. Lex Luthor running for president on a morality platform. Gorilla Grod mispronouncing onomatopoeia. An excellent lecture from the Ultra-Humanite on the sounding of the monstrous yawp and his collection of the body electric. There were sixty-eight tracks. The number was significant.
The next day, she left him an 8-track recording of monster truck rallies in her garbage. When played backwards and on triple speed, it played the Carol of the Bells. It seemed that he had an invitation over to her apartment for Christmas Eve dinner. He brought a fruit cake and a brightly wrapped gift. She looked at the fruit cake and said, “You shouldn’t have. Really. You should. Not. Have.” Then she opened his present, which was a box inside a box inside a box. There was a note inside the final box to look under her bed. Where there was a metal trebuchet. He said, “Properly weighted it can throw objects up to 5000 feet.”
She smiled wide at him and put her hands on her hips. She said, “I’ve got some fruit cake.”
“I know.” He didn’t smile at her. He was still wearing his mask. She was still wearing hers. Also, she had a cross bow at her hip cocked with a very pointed arrow.
Her gift to him was an enigma machine. After he manipulated the keys, he was able to open the machine. Inside a compartment on the bottom was a box covered in theorem related to the big bang. Inside the box was a small statue of a sphinx that spoke in randomized riddles. After he turned the sphinx’s paws in a six part sequence, the head came off. Inside the compartment in its torso was a key at the end of which was a tag that that read, “Russian national interest.”
He said, “Damn.”
She smirked. “My gift was better.”
He nodded and resolved that on her birthday there would something extremely interesting in her attic, basement and in a locker under the pier.
He still didn’t know why she kissed him. He asked the question, but she answered by sliding his mask up further for another kiss. He leaned into it.
He liked research.