Roller Skating Afterparty

June 30, 2018:

Owen sets out to find Harley after getting a ping that her phone at least was in the kitchen during the bombings. They do their usual dance of talking / not talking but this time with rollerskating and junk food.

Roller Bowler

A roller skating rink all setup for Galaxy Night skate.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Emery Papsworth, The Joker

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

So. The bombing happened. That was definitely a thing.

And Harley helped, in what were probably ultimately trivial and meaningless ways. She wasn't the fearless hero, swooping into buildings after the wounded and dying and helpless. She wasn't the stalwart line, fighting flames back under control.

She helped clear a patch of street with a street sign as a shovel for the ambulances whenever they came, until she couldn't help anymore. And then she pushed herself to get out of the neighborhood when the authorities finally made it onto the scene.

She visited a store at some point, and promptly fell on old habits. She needed new clothes, so she took them. She needed something to get her gloves off of her hands; they were bleeding. She snatched some first aid stuff from a corner store. Sure, she didn't hold anyone up at gunpoint, but the end result is the same. She knows how to make it work for herself, even in a city not her own.

Well, not anymore, right? No, that's not right. Because once a girl from Brooklyn, always a girl from Brooklyn. Even if you don't feel safe going to Brooklyn.

And somehow, somehow, she ends up there anyway, away from the cops and other uniformed officials. In a skating rink that has been closed for the night because… Well, because why the heck would you be open when a terrorist attack is underway?

But she's a girl who knows the place. Or did, a few owners back. And so it's had the side door picked open and is presently lit up for galaxy night. Harley herself is in puce-hued tights, a black skirt, and a khaki-hued knit tank. A black cardigan hangs on her with its sleeves low on her hands, mostly hiding them like the black beret she wears to hide her blonde hair. She's a gal who knows how to disguise herself—disguise bruises and scrapes and abuses of living.

And around, and around, and around she goes. Slowly but with the ease and grace of someone who could do more. Popping her bubblegum obnoxiously.

At least no one's around to get annoyed this time.

It's been one of the longest nights of Owen's life, and that's saying something for someone who considers a two day drug binge child's play. But between his two trips to Danny's and hours of work in the kitchen trying to do anything to help with the terrible situation. But after Luke drags him back to Danny's to clean up and ostensibly rest Owen relents. Fresh out of a very long, very needed shower Owen finds his phone has decided to taunt him. He had texted Harley to let him know he was okay, and it finally went through. Owen opens his phone and checks a custom app on his phone to see where Harley is.

"You are shitting me."

Harley is never in Hell's Kitchen. Why? She's never there! Owen can't even think. He grabs whatever clothes he can, scribbles a note to Luke and the others and is out the door.

Before he can even get on the street the app updates though. And she's on the move? Owen sighs and changes directions. Normally it could wait. Normally he'd just text but the cell networks is jacked as it is.

Which eventually brings an exhausted Owen to a nearly deserted roller rink. He's still smoking as he jimmies open the door and lets himself in. He smiles at the choice of hideout, it's on brand, something Owen always appreciates about his fellow Gothamites.

"Harley? You in here…?"

And in that moment he suddenly feels the hairs on the back of his neck lift. What if this is a trap? What if it's someone screwing with him? Taking advantage of the chaos of the night just like he was tasked with doing.

*

In the dark, there's coughing and the sound of skates slowly grind to a halt. Between the laser rays of green, orange, and hot pink (which are way less impressive when the smoke machine's not running)… Beneath the sharp white of the giant disco ball… There's a figure that stands there.

Her ears still aren't quite right after the blast, but she definitely heard her name. If Owen's ears are in better shape, they will hear the very tell-tale sound of a handgun being cocked that is most decidedly not supposed to be in New York with its very strict gun laws.

She has no desire for a run in with authorities who might - against all probabilities - be here, rather than dealing with the crater of Hell's Kitchen. But she's got even less desire to lose such a run-in, should they somehow have figured out who it is in the dark. Figured out where she's been. Her paranoia is running at an all time high, but you'd never know for the smoky voice that calls back with all due bravado as that revolver gets hefted up in the vague direction she thinks the voice is coming from: "Who's askin'?"

*

The click of a gun cocking is one of those things that you just don't miss after you've heard it right before someone tries to kill you. The noise causes Owen to pull his trusty throwing knife, his only weapon currently, and brandish it. He doesn't exhale again until he hears Harley's voice call out.

"It's B."

Because sometimes real names are less real than nicknames. Or something. Owen wants to make sure that Harley knows it's him and doesn't decide not to take chances.

He moves towards the voice and says, "My phone pinged you in the kitchen.. I mean Hell's Kitchen. Are you… are you okay? Were you there when it exploded?"

Tellingly the knife is still held, just in case.

*

There's silence for a long moment, as Harley just takes that moment to slowly exhale. The hammer is uncocked; the pistol lowered back to her side and tucked back away. And then she stoops down into a squat, knees hugged, only for her to push hard back up into a stand and begin the slow swaying strides across the hardwood floor that'll take her to the walled edge of the rink.

She can't see the knife. It's hard to guess whether she'd care. "Yeah. Yeah, I was there." Is she okay? She doesn't say. She crosses her arms defensively, though. Tucks her hands up against her side under her upper arms. "Good to know I still got that great lucky streak goin', huh? Ha!" Her cackling laughter lasts for a moment, only to end in the return of that barking cough and a half-whine, half-wheeze after that. "Y'okay?" she manages once that's calmed down, too.

*

The sound of the gun uncocking causes Owen to relax. He spins the knife and slides it back into the ankle holder on his boot. He sighs a long sigh of relief and starts moving towards her again.

He's strangely relieved to hear that she was there and that this wasn't some weird glitch or setup to make him think that. While she might be paranoid, he's on his way there too.

And when she cracks a joke about a luck streak, he laughs along. And for once between them maybe it's him that's laughing a bit too hard, almost unhinged. Unlucky streak. Yea you could call this part of an unlucky streak that's lasted oh, about all of his twenty seven years.

Y'okay?

It's casual. He could give his same reply of 'Of course' that he's given to every single inquiry of it's kind for almost his entire adult life. But not tonight. Not now.

"No. Harley. I ain't."

And maybe it's smoke inhalation, or the fact that he's so ridiculously over tired but his voice almost cracks at the admission.

*

"Get some skates on, then," Harley tells him back, voice eerily bright considering what came just a moment before. "It's probably the one night this year that we ain't gotta worry about company."

Yeah, he laughs wrong now. But he's laughing in the way of a secret password—a secret handshake that she knows every slap and snap to. He laughs the way she does, if for just a note or two, and she makes room under the proverbial big top for him.

And with that, she pushes off from the wall with both hands, skates easily finding their way as she glides backwards. She's already yards away when she defends herself, "I didn't do it if that's what yer worried about."

*

Get some skates on

Owen can only smile a very tired and slow smile at the response. But he nods in obedience and goes to find a pair that fits him. He slides them on and laces them up carefully not really sure the last time he wore rollerskates. And it shows when he stands. He's unsteady and awkward as he makes his way out.

At her protestation of innocence he just laughs again, and again letting it just flow out in that up too late punch drunk kind of way.

"Well good. Because I don't know if I mentioned this but if you blow up eight thousand people I'm breaking up with you. My limit is like four. Okay maybe five cause of that thing you do with your tongue."

Boy does it feel good to laugh about something. Especially something so horrific that no one should be laughing about it. It's too soon to even say 'Too soon?'. But a dark sense of humor is one of Owen's trademarks so here we are.

"But no. I know exactly who did this. … He told me he was going to."

*

Quinn, even on a bad day like today, knows her way on the floor. This floor. She closes her eyes and lets her feet go through the familiar ritual of crosses and wheel tricks. She only opens them occasionally to glance behind her, over her shoulder, without any appreciation for how much it mirrors what she's been doing metaphorically for so very long. She sticks out her tongue playfully to let it curl upwards and to one side out of her mouth as she laughs along with him quietly. And even when Owen tells her his horrible truth… That he knew. He knew… She just keeps skating, and coughing when her lungs protest the extra work she's making them do.

She'll lap, easily, until she's around to Owen again. She slows down and maneuvers in front of him, her wrapped up hands gingerly moving to seize Mercer's elbows and help him along. "Jes' keep movin' forward, toots. I gotcha."

*

Owen's not a complete mess on skates, he was just better on ice skates than on wheels. He starts to find his groove but she's still easily skating circles around him. His body is exhausted and the last thing he needs is to strain to balance and push at all but it still feels better to think about things like that.

And when he says that he knew.. there's no reaction. Is that what he wanted? It's hard to tell. He's conflicted about that along with many, many other things.

But then she's there wrapping her hands around him and helping propel him forward. And the obvious double meaning isn't lost on Owen. And his mouth twitches ever so slightly up into a smile as she helps steady him.

"I think I'm getting it."

Which is of course the cue for him to totally bite it. Thankfully not too badly but he goes down, and if she's not careful, he'll take her down too.

*

You don't skate for years in a public rink without dodging some near hits. He nearly wipes her out as she holds on until the point of no return, and Harley has to hop a few awkward steps, squat low, and turn forward to get herself some speed and back to rights. She tried, failed, and abandoned him. But it's not a long abandonment, at least, because she's turning right back around and braking abruptly in front of him with a sharp squeak of rubber against the shiny, polyurethaned floor.

Okay, maybe she didn't have him as well as she thought she did. Maybe he was worse off than she thought. Either of these possibilities should likely make her feel bad. Should, but don't.

She snaps her gum loudly as she looks down at Owen, her hands planted on her hips. Her head tilts to one side as she considers the mess. After a cough into her elbow, the order comes casually and between calloused snaps. But casually is not the same thing as weakly. There's steel beneath it, from a woman that expects to get her way. "C'mon. Get up," the sage of the roller rink directs.

*

The bone tiredness almost convinces Owen that sleeping on the floor of a roller rink, fully clothed with roller skates on is a good idea. He is well past the point of exhaustion and having found Harley alive the adrenaline isn't quite rushing as it was before.

But she commands him, and he obeys. He pushes himself up and says, "Yea yea, I'm coming. Don't you worry." He gets back up to his feet and with some effort pushes forward. He makes his way towards her slowly, somewhat on a collision course but at least a slow paced one.

"Harley. Can we stop a minute..?"

Can we?

*

Harley's face screws up, contorting into an arrangement of uncertainty.

Stopping defeats the plan, however much of a plan she'd come up with, and she's not sure what comes after. He comes up slowly, and she fights the very real and present urge to taunt and tease and skate away. The clown also tries to scry his expression in the spinning dots and laser beams, but Galaxy Night is good for party time, not so much for heart to hearts. And the twist at the bottom of her gut - the one that hasn't gone away in weeks - is not helping. The race of thoughts that just won't stop… They make it hard, too.

Ultimately, however, she acquiesces. "Okay, Mercer. But jes' fer a minute." An elbow juts out in a very gentlemanly invitation to loop with his and get him back to the side of the rink if that's what he wants. "If ya' want, I can totally nab somethin' fer ya behind the concession bar."

*

He doesn't miss the expressions on her face, even with the flashing disco lights and spinning dots. In fact somehow they only highlight the contortions crossing her visage.

His own expression is difficult to read even in normal lighting. He's first and foremost exhausted but there's obvious traces of sadness. It's been a rough night. He slows down enough to link arms. Now that they're closer his weak, off-kilter smile is easier to see.

"I think I need the largest bucket of nachos we can make."

Partially because he knows she doesn't want to talk, he let's her off the hook just a little bit. He knows that she's avoiding talking. It's something they have done pretty much their entire relationship. And the last time he tried actually talking he was an ass and brought up her psychopathic ex without realizing he had just shown back up and tried to kill her.

"And an equally large bucket of fountain soda. With ice. Cherry coke if that have it."

She can probably easily skate and do cartwheels while holding both, but Owen has decided he's had enough rolling for the night. He stops to hop on the wall and unlace his skates. Normally he'd be careful to keep up the 'fun' for her, but he's too tired now and too serious for that.

*

He wants to talk. She thinks. This isn't how they've worked, and so she's not really sure. But she thinks he does. For Owen, Harley wishes she could easily access the parts of herself that make it easier.

But that isn't how they've been.

So, when he asks for an order of nachos and cherry coke, she just nods. "Yeah, okay. On it." And she it.

Without taking her skates off, she's up onto the 90s throwback carpet and towards the sales counters. She's slower, of course, but she trudges over and starts ransacking the concessions.

She curses outwardly when it's Pepsi products, but pours a large cup of the Wild Cherry anyway. She chomps loudly on her gum, smacking and snapping it, until finally she pulls it out and sticks it to the side of the garbage can. There's a tray, and she loads it up with three premade nachos trays that she warmed up the cheese for in the microwave all at once. It zaps the sides, but at least she's trying. There's the soda, and then one of every candy bar she can find. Then, like some made up, dirty angel of the carhop era, she brings it over to wherever Owen ends up perching himself.

"So," she says, altogether awkwardly, "Ya knew."

*

He watches her go and busy herself ransacking the place for him and Owen smiles sadly. It could be this easy. Just them doing whatever they wanted. Breaking in and taking because they can. Why can't it be this easy?

He hops down from the side of the rink back into the area with tables, now in just his socks. He tries to stifle a yawn as she makes her way over to him. When she comes he pulls her down to his lap once the food is set down.

"Maybe we don't have to talk tonight? But no more skating. And I'm gonna need to find a real bed… but." He stops to eat some of the nachos, which considering Owen is willing to eat just about anything they're great by his very low standards. He leans his forehead against her and breathes in.

"I have had the shittiest of nights Harl.." His voice is actually shaky as he says it, ".. but we ain't gotta talk about it. Or about anything." He breathes in and tries to rally. "Cause we got junk food. And each other and that's all I need right now." Okay something harder than Wild Cherry pepsi wouldn't hurt, but that's it. That's the line now. And he wants to say that outloud. But still feels like he can't.

*

As her hands are emptied and she's pulled onto Owen's lap, Harley doesn't fight it. She just makes certain she doesn't bang against him with her holster on the way down.

The pistol she hasn't been able to be further than five yards from since Mistah J rolled back over her like a steam roller. Lessons are lessons, after all.

But as Mercer tells her what he needs, and she makes a careful inventory. It's a simple list, easy to memorize. He puts his forehead against her, and her fingers tentatively move to stroke over his hair. All he'll need do is breathe like she's doing it wrong and she'll stop. "We got enough junk food to give a blue whale diabetes," Quinn confirms helpfully, voice hoarse and bright. "Although I don't think the whale would appreciate the Reese's Pieces as much as we do, so we probably shouldn't test that theory. I mean, where would we get a blue whale anyway? I don't remember, do they even live around here? Because that would be another problem. Unless we went back to Gotham. I could totally steal you an oil tank—- Er, BORROW an oil tanker with EVERY INTENTION of giving it back once we have a blue whale in tow. But maybe, so we don't have to go as far (if blue whales ain't nearby), we could pick a different whale? Or maybe just a really big fish. Like a mackerel. Mackerels are a very underutilized test subject, I bet. And then we could publish our results and…"

*

The gun is noted. Again. Like she had when he came back and with her the whole time they were staying in the penthouse. It's not something he's asked about. But even Slowen can figure out a thing or two with enough help and he's managed to put 1 and 1 together to come up with the correct 2, that she's completely freaked out since her run in with the Joker.

He gladly rolls his head around as she plays with his hair, though he's half nervous it's going to actually put him to sleep and he doesn't want to fall asleep in a pile of nachos … again.

But then she breaks into her chatter. He starts a low chuckle, particularly at the part about giving back the tanker. He laughs along until she trails off and he picks it right back up "And we could be the people who cure juvenile aquatic mammal diabetes. We'd be famous. All the smart people of the world would want us to help them solve their problems."

He pulls his head back, just enough to actually eat some more of the food. His body has been straining to its limits and desperately needs the calories, regardless of how he comes by them. But mid chip, tilts his head and says "We should get a room at the fanciest hotel we can find tonight… just 'borrow it' for the night, ya know?" Maybe Emery giving them a taste of being spoiled like rich people wasn't a great idea?

*

Or maybe it was the best idea.

"Everybody borrows hotel rooms," Harley is quick to assert, murmuring into Owen's hair. "I mean, who ever heard of keeping one? So we'd be jes' doin' what everyone else is doin'. I mean, I guess. If ya were serious about the real bed. We could get comfy here, too."

*

"That's true." Owen kind of dreamily agrees as his head kind of lolls back to lean against her again. He looks around at the skating rink and considers the effort to break into a hotel room versus passing out on a bench or the floor. He's certainly slept on worse. And while he may have been spoiled by his time in the penthouse or when he crashes at Danny's he's still able to sleep anywhere.

"Or we could crash here."

He raises his head again and munches down more food, this time with a certain amount of determination. He has a wound to heal, and just a general ton of energy that he needs to replace. He picks up one of the candy bars and starts to unwrap it and then offers Harley a bite, like a gentleman.. kind of.

"So long as it's the two of us. I don't care where we crash."

Maybe that's because he's avoiding other people, but otherwise it's a sweet sentiment. For the most part.

*

There's a candy bar in front of her, and… And Harley can't really resist it. For the kind of gentleman, there's a kind of tease as the clown promptly does that thing with her tongue… right down the side of the candy bar. "If I lick it, it's mine, right?" Not that she's really asking questions because she's promptly taking shameless advantage of Owen's fatigue to snatch the candy out of his hand. Pushing herself to her feet, she swings her arm behind her as far as she can to protect her ill-gotten goods.

Then, more sweetly, she bends at the waist to put a dainty kiss on top of his head. "We'll camp out here," she tells him, deciding for both of them. She has her own fair share of things that concern her outside the doors - discovery by her ex-Puddin' who finds a way to be omnipresent in her concerns and paranoia and granted the terrifying ability of an all-seeing eye in her mind, Waller who is afforded the same Godlike quality of omniscience, or any authority really - and she's hesitant to go back out in the open with a city buzzing like an angry hornet's nest. "Let me just flip the lights, huh?"

She doesn't wait. She just skates off to do that. Because the sooner Owen's asleep? The sooner she can stop worrying about what he's going to say.

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