Tomorrow's Problem

March 08, 2018:

Harley Quinn gets a lead on where Waller's put her hyenas… But Taskmaster's information will come at a price.

A Dive Bar in Red Hook

A bar not far from the Gotham Arms.

Characters

NPCs: A bartender.

Mentions: Amanda Waller

Plot:

Mood Music: [*# ]


Fade In…

A simple text message lights up Taskmaster's phone: 'Drink with me!' paired with that obnoxious clown emoji. An address for a dive bar down close to the Gotham Arms, Skwad prime paradise point.

And if he doesn't answer the first time 'round, he's definitely getting it on repeat until he answers. Because that's where Quinn's been hiding for the last hour already, part of the way through a tequila bottle that she may or may not have sweet-talked or threatened out of the bartender.

Both are equally likely.

Taskmaster's jet lag is fierce, Madripoor, a quick stop in Genosha, Bialya, back and then around. A groan noise accompanies him as he reads the message but as if pulled around on strings that are unseen he is in motion. He cannot resist the clown or maybe the drink or maybe the simple fact she is spamming him and he is half-tempted to hurl the phone, its expensive to keep replacing encryptions on these, however.

It is not long before the hooded, skull masked mercenary is shuffling his wa to join the Harley Quinn of Crime. Light geared, easy conceal for street and a mask of clothe, not armored composites or anything special. A social call right?

The dive bars door is nudged open and he escapes the outdoors to squint past the lighting within, seeking his fellow SKWAD mate.

His form dropping in to the seat just beside her, "You rang… a million times."

Quinn turns over a shot glass and slides it in Taskmaster's direction. It's clean and has been —if appearances are to be believed—waiting for his arrival. She pours a glass as she beams brightly in his direction. "It wasn't a million!" Eyes roll as she contemplates the accusation, before finally shrugging. "I thought it was, like, forty-three or somethin’. I stopped counting seriously after the first few."

Once the measure is set down in front of her new drinking buddy, she pours herself a new one and holds it up to wait for him to clink against hers. "Admit it. You missed me." She leans in to put her eyes just behind the little bit of glass. "C'mooooooooooon. Say it!"

"May as well have been." Taskmaster responds, the glass caught in it's slide with two fingers and a thumb, rolling it around while staring at the drink inside, "To-kill-ya… " He mouths out past that mask, great thing about Gotham is no one in most the joints he frequents or visits ever ask him what the skull covering is about. /His face/. That is always his response to his comrades. The motif is his visage.

"I did, every shot so far." The man teases and clinks the glass to her own, his expression sours before it is downed, swallowed harshly and set before him again.

"I hate tequila." He admits, the lean from her has him giving her a once over and a tip upwards of his chin, "Wha’ts the occasion, or are you actually missing me?"

"I KNEW IT," Harley crows about being missed, throwing her own tequila down after. He teases about trying to murder her; he hates her drink of choice when she's looking for trouble. The be-pigtailed blonde in her fishnets, knee high socks, and short-shorts grins widely for all of it and chomps her teeth in amusement. But then the man in his mask puts a question too her, and the clown shrugs helplessly. "Aww, Tee. Can't a gal do both? Y'ain't been around long enough to throw an M-80 at, much less talk to."

"Money calls." Taskmaster remarks, tapping the counter for the tender to indicate he wants another drink, "Not this though, more of it for her but get me some Jack." He orders up.
Turning on his stool so he is facing Harley the merc studies her, the teeth chomp getting a low dee chuckle, no distortion in this mask. It might very well be his real voice. "At least you are easily amused. What sort of mayhem have you been up to, dollface?" Idle chatter, he practices it at times.

It's useful when awaiting a drink, "I am around now, more, we have unfinished business here in Gotham and Waller has been quiet too long, it’s making me anxious."

"Yeah, you 'n me both," Quinn agrees regarding Waller, the smile finally fading from her face. "Been layin' low, mostly. A little vandalism, because… I dunno. Need somethin' to do on a Thursday night."

She turns her pale gaze down to the empty glass she has, pouring more in. She rounds the bottle considering it, too. He practices idle chatter, but Harley knows it's for her benefit and that he really doesn't enjoy it. She doesn't make him linger in it. "Actually had a question 'bout Waller's boys. Although if y'ain't seen much of 'em, it's prolly a moot point."

"All the other nights busy with doodling, rescuing strays and trying to fit in to small cars with the rest of the Juggalos?" Taskmaster heckles her, in good practice, of the SKWAD shes a rare one hes got actual compassion for, as far as he can manage that or remember to.

"Fire away, if I have answers you'll get them." He encourages, the drink now delivered is lifted, sipped at then drank full on, not entirely though. This one he'll savor unlike her death juice.

"Might cost you though."

The latest tease earns Taskmaster a light punch in the side of his arm and a 'tch' of heatless disapproval. When he offers to answer questions for a price, she lets her mouth pull up a little at one side. "How much we talkin' here, skullface?" After all, he's not the only one who can throw a taunt.

"I mean, I'm made of money, yanno. So it ain't like it matters anyway."

"I'm one of the most expensive life adjustment specialists in the world, I don't want you chump change." Taskmaster remarks, the drink now finished off. "Smilex." He says flatly, "I have my intern hunting some down but its all fake shit, diluted, worthless or knock off. I want some of the real stuff." A tap at his belt, as if he would indicate a utility belt.
"It's lethal and entertaining, I hear it can even take down metahumans. I want some and I want to be able to test it. Got any idiots you don't care for just lying around?"

The light punch ignored, he’s aware she is far stronger than she looks. Most robust and fit men couldn't match her physical strength.

Smilex.

Harley drinks straight from the bottle at the sound of the name. Her lips purse in exaggerated show as she exhales after she gets the mouthful down. Her tennis shoes dance over the bar of her stool, a sign of her thinking. Of nerves. "How much we talkin'? I mean, good luck to yer intern and all, but ya' know the manufacturer ain't exactly the sharin' type. At least, not in the ways that ya'd like."


"Yeah, Smilex. We're talkin' surplus levels, enough that I don't got to come begging you for more again." Taskmaster grunts, "Not that I don't mind trying to appeal to your saner and cooperative sides, especially if you wanna be extra sharing but the reliance, its a real hinderance and buzzkill long term."

Taskmaster flexes one gloved hand, "I'm always collecting. I need this stuff for.. reasons."
"I'll add in extra of your choice if you know the antidote too. If not, I might have to try and work with Red." He sighs at that one. He and Ivy always clash.

"But I like it when you beg, Tee!" The quip is sharp and bright, although the the corners of Harley's eyes are tight and would betray her lack of amusement. Her grin turns feral sharp when it returns. "Tell ya' what. If yer able to answer me this, I'll see how much I can get fer ya. Even if ya' need a little bit to look into it."

Pulling out her phone, the blonde scrolls through her camera phone until she finds a picture of a picture. She slides it down the bar, and then slides an arm over Taskmaster's shoulders so she can lean her head against one and look at the picture. Of two snarling hyenas in a cage. "Satan took Bud and Lou when I went on my last sabbatical. And I didn't get 'em back when I came back. So. The Babies. Do ya know which one Waller's boys took 'em? Or do I need to do somethin' else to find the right page in yer scrapbook?"

"I bet you do." Taskmaster rumbles, the offered picture on the phone gets a tip down of the man's head so he can see it while she drapes over him, hes used to this. The SKWAD have all treated him like some living piece of furniture for some time, it's like a reflex to just not respond and be a tree when it transpires.

"I have an idea of where they are. She give you a reason why she didn't return them or is she just being a bitch and punishing you?" The phone is pushed aside and he lets one forearm dangle limply off her hip while sipping at his drink with the other hand, "I know what they mean to you, the smilex is good, I want that antidote too though so you give that to me unless you got other cards to play, tough one to top. I can find them, like I said, I think I have an idea who has 'em."

"I heard some talk of someone losing a hand, got fired, things circulated, its all spun now but I got a path here."

"Naw, no reason. Jes' won't give 'em back. I've even been behavin'." A pause, and then Harley truthfully—if begrudgingly—amends, "Mostly."

Her pale fingers stretch over the screen, pretending to pet the two creatures' noses until her device goes dark under her hand.

She bites her lower lip, shiny with lip gloss, and Taskmaster will feel the tremor as she continues to bounce her heel. And she hesitates. The quantity is a genuine problem. A problem her brain is already working, because it's the Babies. The Babies.

She chuckles, nervously. "Doncha want, like, an antique rail gun or a real Jell-o Shooter, bang bang jiggle jiggle? Does it gotta be Smilex?"

"It has to be Smilex. Why the hell would I want a Jell-o shooter?" Taskmaster cants his head to the side, his hands both forming back to the front of him on the bartop.

"Rail guns are not worth it and I got a direct line on those anyways. You are my line on the one thing I been wanting for a while, Miss Clownpants." He informs. Another drink ordered with a fingerlift, same thing, round three.

"Smilex for me, vicious critters for you. I got the name of the guy who lost his hand, he's got the location they drifted your pets. Shit, I may have to charge for a retainer the way this is laying out." Dark eyes under that mask leer at her, he knows he's being cruel right now but somewhere inside that wacky noodle noggin is an extra brilliant insightful individual who reads people like a book. The man is a sucker for friends even when he puts up a fight.

"Uh, because a Jell-o shooter would be hilarious? I mean, the pun! It's pure gold!" Harley continues to drape, even as her Skwad buddy withdraws, a hand extending in front of him as though to paint the beautiful future of his custom weapon of ridiculousness. "I mean, imagine with me here, Tee. Ya walk into some hot spot, right? And there ya are, you and twenty of the folks ya dislike a lot. They're expecting ta die. Because,” she pats his pec, “It’s you and yer a glorious death machine." Her hand flies back out as she continues spreading her hand across the imagined scene as she exclaims the punchline: "BUT INSTEAD, THEY GET A FACE FULL OF HOT JELL-O."

Pulling her face out so she can try to get a good line to Taskmaster's sight, her eyes are wide with back expecation. "HILARIOUS, RIGHT? I mean, I'm givin' ya some of my best material right here!"

The 'beautiful picture' she's painting in her imagination doesn't translate to Taskmaster. He's got a decent imagination some days, but this, this is just not working for him."Seriously not seeing it. I'd rather just watch them all burn." Conviction in his voice there. He is not lying one iota.

"Why would I want to shoot my enemies with snacks? The hot ones are always bonkers."

"I no, not so hilarious, I just am not getting it in the least. Even a potato launcher is more dangerous than this…Smilex, Harley. I want Smilex."

Taskmaster's drink is being shuffled around to avoid it getting knocked free of his hand.

Defeated, Harley's head just falls forward as her body slumps demonstratively in her chair, landing her forehead squarely on Taskmaster's shoulder. "They ain't jes' pets," Harley challenges with a snap, although her agitation isn't enough to motivate her to lift her head. As though Taskmaster didn't already know how much they matter. "I need 'em back, Tee. The apartment is jes' so lonely without 'em. Sometimes, I think I hear one of 'em gigglin' at the window, or chewin' on the butcher bones. And Waller has no right to keep 'em from me. They need their mama."

It goes without saying that she needs them more.

Taskmaster's left hand rises up and bends enough at the wrist to pat and tousle Harley's hair between the pig-tails. "We're gonna get your babies. This ain't a pay me up front sort of thing, we can work a credit kinda thing, pay as you go. Whatever, just you're gonna owe me."

He lifts his drink again pushing it under the mask to drink more down, "Spend a night somewhere else, invite company, get some fish, I dunno. This ain't going to happen right now, you got some time to suffer, we need to find 'em, make a plan and execute. Could be easy shit, could be horribad. I dunno. We're dealing with Satan fall out here."

That tequila is expertly poured in one hand and he sets his own glass aside to tip a shot up under her mouth, even pinching her nose with that last petting hand. Artful. Also nose plugged,! open up! "Cures what ails you, drink up sexy crazy."

"Just be aware, not bending on this batch of Smilex."

As she's tousled, a piteous whine escapes those rosy shiny lips. But otherwise, she doesn't really move. But then there is the promise of liquor to keep her going.

What Taskmaster offers, Harley drinks. It's not until it's down that the clown peers in his direction with a half-squint of suspicion. "What do you need it so bad for, anyway, Taskybear? I mean, really."

"Why superdorks, of course. I like to even the odds, plus, I'm a collector. I'm not shitting you, I have been after this stuff for a damned year."

The alcohol is shoved aside and Taskmaster gives Harley an analyzing glance, "How you holding up? Gettin' that depressed about this?" There’s a grumble under his voice, "Pep up, we'll get Bob and Larry back."

"Just know the price. We all got them, if a Hyena is gonna bite my ass off for trying to rescue it, I get my new toys." A nudge of his shoulder in a lift to teeter her about, "Wanna hit the road? I'll keep you some company if you want. We can terrorize your neighbors or play strip darts like old times." What is that? Why you violently hurl sharp projectiles at one another’s worn clothes. If it hits, it comes off! Oodles of fun.

"That was you I played that with, right? Seems like your kinda crazy. Damn memory hiccups."

Harley’s expression flattens as she just looks at Taskmaster and melts off of him into her own chair. “Bud and Lou. And it would bother ya, too, if some psycho control-freak fat lady made off with yer kids.”

There’s something in that turn of phrase that sours her expression further, and she does her very best impression of Mister Yuck. “Blech!”

“But I’m peachy keen, jellybean!” She chirrups in a sudden forceful, willful perking up. There’s a shrug offered with an unsettled, anxious sort of laugh. “I’m down fer whatever you are!”

Except maybe the Smilex. Still not really sold on the Smilex, especially in the quantity that Taskmaster’s after. It means probably going places she’d really rather not.

But that’s a problem for tomorrow. Quinn intentionally sets her blinders on so she can focus on the here and now. On the proffered investment of time that she'll not leave on the table. Leaning on the bar counter and pouring out more of her tequila as she prepares for departure, like it matters, she quaffs it down and then lifts one tenny-clad foot to nudge at his ankle.

“Ya ready to blow this popsicle stand? …Maybe go get popsicles?” Because that’s what you do on a blustery March evening, right?

Taskmaster visibly cringes at more tequila being ingested, the man had figured what extra he helped her to was more than plenty.

"Bud and Lou, yeah, them. Who says she hasn't?" The man jabs back, hes never told anyone if this is true or not. He honestly doesn't have a clue so it doesn't exactly matter if that was a thing.

"I'm feelin' it." He says in regards to the drinking, "I want some chips, beers to keep me coasting and a secure location I can get further shitfaced without worrying about a nutjob in a bird suit or a vampire bat wanting to get randy on me just because they don't share my same zest for life."

"Lesgo and if popsicles are on the way? Why not. If it makes ya smile again, sad clowns are depressing as fuck." She cannot see it but the man's grinning over at her, not just the toothy draw of his mask, it shows in dark eyes at least.

Clambering to his feet and hiking his hoody tighter he walk-leans on out the door with her, a drunken skeleton and a boozed up jester.

Grim storybook tale in the making, Gotham is a perfect canvas.

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