Second Chances and Second Careers

February 20, 2018:

Owen comes to see Harley Quinn with a delivery of sugar, booze, and more wonderful bad ideas.

Harley's Apartment at the Gotham Arms

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Poison Ivy, Taskmaster, Amanda Waller, Batman, Red Robin

Plot:

Mood Music: Oh Bondage! Up Yours! - X-Ray Spex


Fade In…

Quinn's been out more often than she's been in lately. God only knows where she's been going, but it sure ain't home.

For now, however, she can be found there. She's got the kitchen table shoved against the counters and all of the rest of the loose furniture - sparse though it is - shoved against the opposite wall, and the small bit of reclaimed open floor covered in a pair of well-abused cheer mat in a drab beige.

Something loud and vaguely pop-rock is screeching out of a little portable speaker as the blonde in her white tank and supremely 80s hot pants walks along an old routine, slowly, where cartwheels and walking headstands abound. Arches and carefully drawn pirouettes.

And she is not caring about the damned neighbors. Fortunately, it's only the music to irritate them; her bare feet are quiet as they go along. With eyes closed for so much of the time and the edges of her mat so crowded, it's a wonder she's not banging into things right and left when she draws near the edge. She manages to not. Luck or practice, one or the other.

It's been another banner week for Owen. Drugged in his sleep, kidnapped in his skivvies, experimented on and then beaten to a pulp by the nefarious Banana Flash, Owen has seen better days. He is on the mend, but still has one arm in a cast, his torso is a patchwork quilt of bruises and he is not walking quite right. Despite his condition he managed to make it to Manhattan over the weekend to have some important conversations, but there is still a big important one that he needs to have here in Gotham.

But Owen isn't coming into the situation unarmed. No, he may be unhinged, but he's not crazy. He is loaded to bear with two travel mugs full of hot chocolate, spiked with the chocolate liquor. A bag of eclairs from a local bakery and a jumbo bag of swedish fish round out his arsenal. This is war and Owen isn't about to face this battle without proper weaponry.

Hearing the blaring rock music above him as he makes his way up the stairs from his place (his place is not on the shared SKWAD floor) a small smile creeps across his face. He knocks loudly on the door.

"Harley! Queen of fun? You in?"

Obviously despite his injuries Owen is in a much better mood than the last time they spoke. He is a little tipsy, but just from a few drinks, he's been trying to heal and so he's staying away from anything other than his pain medication and some light boozing.

The first indication that Harley did, in fact, hear the knock upon her door is that the music a few moments later drops to something more civil.

When the door opens, the be-pigtailed blonde leans against the door frame and she's got a can of La Croix cracked open that she's throwing down her gullet like it was something actually …you know. Interesting.

She looks at the man at her door, and then her gaze drops down to the contents of his hands. …Sugar. He's got sugar.

Her tongue shoves along the inside of her cheek, only to disappear from view as she bites on her lip and drags her eyes back to finally find Owen's. There's assessment there, but she doesn't say anything about it. Instead, she tilts her head sideways as she asks a simple question: "Whatcha got there, Mercer?" But she doesn't politely wait. Instead, her hand moves to try to grab at the bag through the crack in the doorway.

Let it never be said that the Clown Princess wasn't eminently bribable.

Having super speed is such a cheat sometime. Like when Luke randomly tries to grab things out of Owen's hand. Or when Harley thinks she's going to be quicker than him. Owen pulls the bag back and narrows his eyes.

"That depends Quinn. You gonna let me in? Or do I have to eat 6 eclairs myself?"

No one has even said Owen was overly bright. If he didn't want her to know what it was…? But of course that's not the point. The point is that he can't help but smile at her blocking the doorway. But he's patient. He doesn't barge in. It helps that he is 99% sure she's going to crumble, like flaky choux pastry.

There's a long pause on the other side of the door, although Quinn doesn't make a second play for the bag. Because speedsters cheat.

As he pulls back, she narrows her eyes back at him. Sugar. Harley wants it. She wants it very badly, if the way she worries her lower lip with her teeth is any indication.

Ultimately… His prediction holds true. And eventually she just abandons the door, leaving it cracked open. "Wouldn't want ya' to get a bellyache," she calls over her retreating shoulder. "I'm very benevolent that way. Suits a queen of my breedin', yanno."

While she waits for Owen to decide whether or not he's going to brave coming in through the open door, she goes back to her mats and sits tailor-style in the middle of one so she can go about watching him and drinking her frou from water. "Yer gonna have ta' forgive the mess. Wasn't expectin' company."

Owen comes in, but only after enjoying the view of watching Harley in her tiny shorts walk away. He raises the sugar loaded treats in the air and declares. "I come bearing gifts. So please don't smash me with a giant mallet… at least until I heal from my latest beatdown."

He is dressed casually in a tee shirt, pair of jeans and barefeet. When he raises his hands, it's easy to see the bandages still wrapped around his midsection. He places the eclairs on the table against the wall and sets Harley's mug of cocoa down there as well. He takes a drink of his before saying anything else.

"Me forgive the mess? I thought that's what I was coming here to ask you to do."

He then takes a seat, with the bag of swedish fish in between the two of them on the mat. He grimaces, attempting to bend his legs into sitting the same way. Eventually he gives up and sticks one leg out and the other bent at the knee.

"Am I going to ruin everything if I try to have a serious talk?"

The question is earnest and the tone is a far cry from the usual whacky, fun loving one between the two.

With the flexibility that so starkly contrasts Owen's own stiff movements, Quinn leans forward over her lap and plants her elbows on the mat, spilling the dyed ends of her low pigtails forward over her shoulders and pooling onto the boring beige beneath her. From this new position, she can lean her chin into her upturned hands and watch as the sacrifice of cocoa and eclairs are laid out.

She'll have to be sure that both are gone before Ivy sees either.

She continues to watch as he settles down in front of her. "I dunno," she tells him, raising an eyebrow. "I guess that depends on what you feel needs sayin'." But before he can change his mind about the artificially flavored glory between them, one hand releases its place under her chin to snake out and grab one moulded fish. Or three.

Well, she hasn't tried to blow him up yet, so that's good. Let's see if Owen can keep that streak going. He snags a couple of the fish from the bag as well, munching on them. He should have put coffee in his mug or at least something that wasn't also ridiculously sweet. He loves sugar as much as the next person, unless that person's Harley, but this is a bit much. He takes a sip of the cocoa anyway and then sets it down on the mat.

"Us. I wanted to talk about us. And I get it. We had the whole fun thing of just pretending we were old friends and then fuck buddies and it was all casual. But I'm an idiot."

Why exactly is he an idiot? Well there are many things that he might mean by that statement, and his face, twisted into an apologetic grimace isn't giving much direction on which way he's leaning. Finally it comes out though.

"I can't stop thinking about you. I get that it's probably one of my worst ideas, but, I don't care. I want to be with you."

Huh? So.. he's going to skip over the last time they talked? This is an interesting tactic. Probably an ill advised one.

One of Harley's eyes narrows more than the other, overtly suspicious. Then her mouth quirks up soon afterwards, as though the three fish she'd shoved in there were more the rotting and rolled in old newspaper for seven days variety.

"Uh… huh."

She snakes her arm out again to grab more fish, shoving them into her mouth and then chewing them with probably even less couth than a cow and her cud.

For someone typically so verbose and high on the verbal vomit scale, it seems very strange that she would leave her response at the duo-syllabic point. But that's probably because she doesn't, for long.

"Look, Owen," she says, dropping her gaze and the distance that comes of using his last name. "If this is 'cause ya' don't want me t'break yer arm or let someone take a cheap shot the next time we're out… That's not how I…" She rolls her eyes and then begrudgingly confesses as though it had been pulled from her under duress, "Alright, fine, I thought about it! But just like… like a graze, y'know?"

She looks at him with a narrowed gaze, exasperated. "I was really mad, and you really deserved it, okay? But I'm over it." Mostly.

"It's not, Harley."

And he means it! He wouldn't exactly trust Harley in the field but only because she's unpredictable by nature. But his own personal safety isn't where this is coming from.

"I have had a really shitty time lately. And you have been an absolute rock star in helping me get outta my own head."

His face tightens into a wince here when it comes to saying the next part. This is literally something he has never talked about with anyone. Ever.

"I've tried all sorts of terrible shit. Any drug I could get my hands on. And I don't want to be that guy. Ya gotta believe I feel awful about shoving you. I just.. I've never let anyone in on that? And I'm not used to anyone caring."

And here he realizes that he's making an assumption. But he saw it. Didn't he? She cared! There was concern. Right?

"At least.. I thought… "

This is why he's never tried to have these conversations before. Flirting? Easy. Sexy quips and hot rando sex? He has that down pat. Talking about feelings and trying to navigate emotions? He's a bull in a china shop.

"I need you."

Harley is psychiatrist. She can probably see exactly what is happening here from a mile away. Owen's not looking for a girlfriend. He's looking for a new drug.

She can see it. The problem isn't that she can't. The problem is in the broken circles and curlicues of thought that fray her apart at the seams.

The problem is that she is desperate to be someone else's fix. To be needed, in desperately unhealthy doses. …Because isn't any dose of her just that?

"I cared. Care." There's a curse and a snarl as Quinn gives up her current position, keeping her legs tucked and folded up as she lets herself fall backwards with an unceremonious 'fwump', like some enormous rag doll. "You know what I mean."

When she falls back he laughs, maybe just to break the tension of things being so serious. He doesn't want them to be serious. Owen wants them to be fun! To be light! To be the distraction from his cluster of a life thus far.

And so he doesn't let her recover. He moves, slowly for him, but still plenty fast for most people to be overtop of her. His weight supported only by his knees and his one good arm.

"You do?"

Owen brushes her hair out of her face with the thumb on his busted arm. He lowers himself down to kiss her. For once not an in the moment, desperate kind of kiss. But a gentle, tender one.

He moves and she stays still, staring at the ceiling with its aging beige paint until Owen's face in the way, obscuring the view. Then, for a brief moment in that kiss, Harley's undone. She barely breathes, lest the moment break apart. Doesn't move, save to tentatively return the affection and quietly drink him in.

Unfortunately, she doesn't need to move for thoughts to intrude. The second-guessing. The over-thinking—she's down three rabbit trails of 'what if' and 'and then', backwards into memories, and then too far into the future like some psychopathic yo-yo—and then furiously trying to dial it down and tether herself in the present because… because that's what normal people do, right? And he wants normal things, didn't he? …Didn't he? But then why her? Because he doesn't want normal.

Thoughts collide and she speaks to interrupt them.

"Well, yeah," she says, breaking into the strident chorus of some obscure and softly screaming X-Ray Spex song - something off their solitary album - with her uncertain half-giggling tone. "I just…" She'd pull her head back to give herself space, but there's the foam-filled mat behind her. There's something she nearly says. It's there, hiding behind her pearly teeth. "Nevermind," she says in a rush with a throaty laugh. "Jes' remember: yer the one who signed up to spend time with the team loudmouth. You have been forewarned." Her warning comes with a very over-articulated pronunciation, her adopted drawl and comically exaggerated facial expressions laid liberally over it. She deflects. It's an art.

"That's exactly what I'm doing. I'm signing up for this."

In some ways it's the most honest he's ever been. He's taking an intentional step into a relationship. It's not just sleeping with someone and maybe occasionally spending time with them as whatever.

"You showed up the other night and I got pissed. Not because you were there.. but because you tried to get me to talk about something. And I don't do that. With anyone. But…"

He still hasn't moved from on top of her, and is mirroring her move from the other day, not giving her any personal space even when she tries to move her head back. He also seems far more intent on a serious conversation than normal.

"I want to try, Harl. T'not push you away."

The feeling of how alone he felt shackled up Zoom's lab is still with him. The thought that there was no one he was really close with hit home when he assumed he was going to actually die. So he mentally has to push back not just his own hangups on trusting people or opening up. He has to fight through the thoughts about how Harley is probably the least logical person to try and get close to. She knows some of his secrets sure, that helps, but there are others that make this literally one of his worst, bad ideas.

Meanwhile, Harley has her own reservations. Of what a momentary setback in whatever this is did to her brain space. Quinn is probably the absolutely last person that Mercer should give his thoughts to for safekeeping. She knows it. She knows that he probably knows it. She should absolutely put a stop to all of this. Her therapist would never approve.

"Okay." There's a wide-eyed pause, paired with a doe-eyed look of vulnerability that in no way matches any of the descriptions on her rap sheet. There's an intensity there that makes her supremely uncomfortable. That's saying something.

Which is why she has to explode it, right? In a whisper, there's a single assertion for herself. "But the last time, that was yer free pass. Y'won't get two, Mercer."

"Harley, if you don't think I realize that you will mallet the shit outta me if I get handsy, or if you just feel like it, then your underestimating me."

With that Owen rocks back on to his knees and then stands up. Her unpredictability should make him nervous, but of course it's Owen, so it just makes her that much more irresistible. He hobbles over to the bag of forgotten eclairs and pulls one out. He takes a hearty bite into it, chocolate and some cream getting on his hand and face.

"Okay, enough serious talk!" It's like he's announcing this to a crowd of people. "It's time to get serious, serious." What? That doesn't make any sense. "Have you even take Zook out for a test run? I keep waitin' to hear about the hilarity of exploding pastry munitions."

He punctuates this with another chomp of the eclair.

Harley doesn't move from her place on the mats. Instead, one foot snakes out from its place folded beneath her to tug at the edge of the bag of Swedish fish so she can drag it alongside her. A couple fish escape the bag. For now.

Her arm sweeps down like she's working on half of a snow angel to get the bit of plastic. All so she can begin pulling out candies and dropping them into her mouth from as high a height as she can reach. They even get a dramatic chomp of her teeth.

"Y'were nearly the first target!" she says of Zook. "Since I wasn't gonna be asking ya' fer laughs, but… it didn't feel right to not have you there…" She shrugs on the floor. "Compromise, right? It's all about the compromise. Meetin' two ends, halfway."

The woman sighs forlornly. "I guess I'm back to waitin' for Batsy to piss me off. If someone comes along in the meanwhile… Eh. I mean… Y'don't get a first time back, yanno? I want it to mean something. Zook's real special."

Switching hands with the eclair to lick chocolate off his other hand, Owen is making a pretty solid mess. Totally worth it.

"Yea, you want his first time to be mean something. Not just go blowin' his load on any old thing." Obviously Owen is once again making it dirty, but come on, it was right there!

At the talk of Bats though Owen half frowns. For some reason Red Robin wasn't the giant prick he expected when he actually met him the other night. Maybe it was the painkillers but he was surprisingly decent to Owen. Which kind of makes him more of a dick somehow? Grrr.

"Hell I was thinkin' Tasky should get a taste of pie. Only because his grousing about it would crack me up to no end."

Realizing it's hopeless to try and eat this thing without making more of a mess, Owen just shoves the rest of the eclair in his face.

"Aww, naw. Not Tee. I don't want him gettin' explodinated." Quinn's gaze slides sideways, followed by her head as her entire cheek lays against the cool fabric beneath her, and her mouth pulls at an uneven angle. "There's gotta be someone who's really got it comin'. If there ain't, I ain't been doin' it right. Gawd, what I'd do t'get one of Satan's assistants in my crosshairs."

Musing on the point, Harley bares her teeth in a grin. "There's always whoever got ya' lookin' like Lucky the Three-Legged Setter." Flaxen eyebrows waggle, a light tease there. A little teasing, and the start of a whole lot of fixating on revenge. "Or we just go find a GCPD squad car. Geez, I ain' found one of 'em who is any good at takin' a joke."

"Aww, just a little exploded. Not like dead exploded. It ain't funny if we kill T-bone."

Owen is not hunting and licking chocolate and cream off his hands, in a very classy way. He lets out a low dark chuckle at the thought of getting Waller. "Oh it would be a dream come true to nail her big beautiful face." Yes, Owen might literally the only person on the planet that describes Waller as beautiful. Most people prefer Satan, horrifying, twisted, evil incarnate, but not Owen.

"Oh Banana Flash? Yea.. I tried. He attacked the lab and I used 'Zook … just as a test run." He is quick to clarify, it doesn't count as his first outing. "Didn't do any good. I hate speedsters." Yea, inadvertent self-loathing is fun. He also hates time travelers.

"GCPD is only fun if there's a reason. Just a random pie attack is … eh. Kind of funny?" With the amount of corrupt cops in the city Owen can easily justify it. Especially if it's non-lethal which all the ammo he's provided should be.

Rolling onto her stomach, the clown on the floor kicks her feet up into the air and lazily kicks them as she continues pulling fish out of the bag and shoving them in. "The cops're still on my list for wreckin' the light show when those two freaks came through at the Winter Parade to mess up the politicians. I mean, really. Politicians! We couldn't all agree for once that those scumbags are the bottom of the barrel and just let the out-of-towners get their kicks? I mean, seriously! Is it any wonder that Gotham tourism is such a bad investment? More terrorists, more tourists! That's what I say!"

Harley gasps suddenly, eyes wide as she stares at Owen. "…I should totally put that on a sign."

Then she's back to considering her bag of artificial colors and flavoring. Her visage explodes into an expression of despair as she turns it upside down. Empty. "Oh, boohoo!"

"Yea, if we can toss Waller in with the politicians, let's blow 'em all up. Or at least hit 'em with pies." He may be working with Waller voluntarily, but it doesn't mean he approves of her methods or her actions.

Crossing back to the mat to retrieve his hot cocoa, and at the same time he brings Harley her cup. He sits back down, wiping at his face still trying to get all the sugary goods off.

"I don't know that more terrorists is going to be a strong tourism selling point. But we should definitely help Gotham out by writing billboard slogans. Like, Go Gotham: Go Crazy! or Gotham: Nuckin' Futs with a giant squirrel humping Wayne tower."

Owen is full of great ideas, well great according to him.

Harley takes this under consideration as she takes her cup and sips pensively. Then, with all of the grace that would should come to expect of her, she rolls again back onto her butt to sit up, refold her legs, and sit more primly all without putting her cup down or spilling a precious drop.

"We could go get a few cans of paint and a…. sprayer? Is that what they call the paint thingy with the hose. Or just a few cans of spray paint. Launch our own tourism campaign." Leaning in with duck lips on display, Harley happily womansplains to him: "I think we would all benefit from a little more truth in our advertising. Poor newbies, they come to Gotham expecting shine and what they get is spit. Maybe we'd get more repeat visitors. And! If it takes off, we could look at a second career, you and me."

"I'm thinkin' we get some drop cloths, some glitter spray paint and we go fixin' some billboards. Oh and while we're at it? We should work in that game of tequilla shot rooftop hopscotch." Owen may have mentally added the tequilla and rooftop part to their hopscotch plan.

"Seriously, the mayor's office should be payin' us for these ideas."

Standing back up, to stretch out. Owen twists his back and reaches over head with his good arm. "So then that's our next date. And of course we bring 'Zook just in case anyone tries to disagree with our marketing plan."

Harley sips demurely from her cup of cocoa before nestling it between her hands and the crook of her legs. Is she so predictable that she's made herself so easy to bribe?

That is to say: it's good cocoa and her sugar high is helping her mood.

"Why do we need drop cloths? That seems like extra care and concern that Gotham doesn't really seem to appreciate. And… if there's glitter? A bigger party sounds fine by me. All we need are some disco balls, and…" A hand stretches out beside her, wavering in the air. "We have the best ideas." Biting her lip, the maskless clown gazes up with a certain adoration for the man in front of her. "It'll be great. Hopscotch death match and all. And Zook'll appreciate gettin' out."

"To cover the old the bilboards. The boring ones for like teeth whiteners and strip clubs."

Did Owen just call strip clubs boring? Maybe he's more injured than he previously thought. But no just the billboards. He picks up his mug again and walks over to plant a kiss on the top of Harley's head.

"We do. But I'm outta here. Now don't forget to hide the planet destroying waste before Ivy catches it and wants to whip you with vines. But. If she does, you are always welcome to come hide out at my place. Even if she turns you into a crazy bird plant thing."

"Red wouldn't do that to me." …Probably. How quickly she moves on from what sent her down to Owen last time, ready to settle back into an optimistic and ignorant bliss. The kiss atop her head earns Owen the sight of a glowing contentment as Harley closes her eyes in appreciation of the gesture.

And then there's a glance to the empty plastic beside her. "Um."

She reaches out to snag it, and then holds it up as a silent request - sun-starved features full of apology - to Owen for him to dispose of the contraband. "Just in case? She really hates it when I eat the artificial stuff."

Wordlessly, Owen takes the bag, and shoves it in his mouth. He then places his finger to his lips in the 'Shh' motion, chewing the yellow plastic.

He then does his best fake sneaking out of her apartment, pretty satisfied with both himself and how that went.

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