Why Did It Have to Be Texas?

July 01, 2018:

Harley and Taskmaster finally catch up for the first time since The Side Job that put her back on her Ex's radar.

The 6th Floor of the Gotham Arms

Quite unlike the rest of the Gotham Arms apartment building, the sixth floor has been entirely remodeled and redecorated.

Where the rest of the floors are divided into individual apartments, this floor has an open, modular design. A single communal living space takes up the majority of the square footage of the floor. Half-walls and purposefully arranged furniture mark off a living room of sorts, complete with various and sundry forms of entertainment from a television, to video game consoles, to a collection of computers and other media, a communal dining area, a kitchen; all of the amenities one might find use for. Other areas have been left to be put to whatever use the current residents might have for them, from an area to work out, to a something of an indoor range.

A series of doors lead off from the main area in two distinct groups. Along the main floor, a series of doors lead into the private rooms appointed for the team's members. A short flight of stairs winds up from the main living space upward to a sort of loft, where a balcony/walkway of sorts leads to a smaller selection of rooms. The balcony provides, as well as access to the rooms, access to the patio and the stairwell that leads both to the roof, and to the fire escape.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: The Joker, Owen Mercer

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

It’s not been a good couple of months to be Harley Quinn.

From the bar incident where her ex-sweetie showed up, invited her back, and then promptly tried to kill her when she was just trying to explain about Amanda Waller and why she couldn’t easily come back… To her following month-long ‘blue period’ where she moved into Owen Mercer’s empty apartment downstairs away from the rest of the Suicide Squad to contemplate Boomerang’s murder and Ivy’s unfortunately timed absence in peace (or wallowing pit of lunacy, whatever)… To being at ground level when Hell’s Kitchen went sky high (or hellaciously low, depending on your preferred viewpoint)…

She’s a woman who has felt beleaguered at every single turn.

So when a few members of Amanda Waller’s team comes to Manhattan to collect the wayward clown princess away from her unauthorized vacation for a new job, Harley tries not to be shocked and horrified. (She is, though.) But she chalks it up to the string of bad luck that has followed her ever since she decided she was going to get back her fur babies without Waller’s knowledge or permission, and she hopes that there won’t be consequences for her wandering outside the proverbial back yard.

It’s not a hard job, the one she’s sent on. Which is for the best, really. Her lungs are still unhappy from the reintroduced trauma of inhaling the soot and ash of Hell’s Kitchen after the close encounter with a fiery death weeks before. She gets winded easier than she should. And her hands are still terribly tender, wrapped in gauze and gloves.

But the job gets done, and a somebody gets taken out for the powerful woman’s benefit. Then home again, home again, jiggity jig.

When Quinn hauls herself in through the front doors of the Skwad’s shared living quarters and drops her work bag by the door, she doesn’t say a word. Instead the woman in her cropped up black jean shorts, scuffed up army boots, and dirty leather jacket makes her way straight for the fridge to start ransacking it for whatever sweet thing that she can find.

Sugar restoreth the soul.

Taskmaster cannot say he’s been inactive while appearing in the Suicide Squad rosters as 'inactive' South America has had it's fun share of chaos with him there. Though to come back and find out Hell's Kitchen was more or less nuked is a shocker, part of him envious and imagining what the pay is on that, another part of him sick to the stomach over it all. He'll get over that soon. There is no place for a conscience in his line of work.

It's the SKWAD living quarters that’s been hosting him, sitting in the dark with a near empty beer in one gloved hand, his mask seated up high on his forehead, the teeth of it low over his nose so only his lower jaw is visible. A final slug at the bottle and he flicks it across the room wih a clatter-crash in to the waste bin near Harley. Announcement he is present.

"Bring me one while you're at it, dollface." His hoarse voice manages, no voice distortion or masked sound. He's just worn out and not bothering with obscuring himself. Not around Harley. She is part of the short list after all. Very short list.

He is light geared for him, this means a hooded sweater, light armored LBV and combat fatigues of deep blues, blacks, whites with highlights of orange. Got a theme and ‘grr’ image to sell after all. Marketing is a big deal for supervillains/top tier mercenaries.


Pale, wide eyes suddenly turn in Taskmaster’s direction as Quinn straightens from her lock-kneed, bent over posture at the fridge as the bottle strikes its target and shatters inside the can with his unnatural accuracy. She poorly hides the startlement in them, but she masks it as best she can with a blasé shrug of her shoulders once she manages to get her pounding heart out of her throat. It may be hard to tell in the monosyllabic response that she gives, but it has its own pack-a-day-gal sort of roughness and weariness to it. Bad sleep and a healing throat. “‘Kay.”

There is the clinking of glass and soon enough she’s walking towards his perch with the quiet swish of her red glitter tights wrapped legs brushing against each other.

One gloved hand holds out the bottle of his beer. The other a stolen bottle of cream soda. She lands on the couch in a boneless heap beside him. Her pigtailed head falls backwards against the back of the couch.

“When’d ya get back?”

Taskmaster releases a laugh more akin to a chortle at her startlement. He was aiming for that. It is not easy sneaking up on a Gothamite but then, the skully faced merc is no typical run of the mill in the game of things and this is a safe place, home and such. Defenses go down.

"Couple days ago. Had to recoup, situate some things and visit a guy." A bundle is pulled out of his pocket and thrown on the table before the couch, the clothe opening up to reveal a severed finger.

The bottle snared up with a tip towards her, actually clinking off of her cream soda enough to give it incentive to fizz up.

"Why, didja miss me or just expect someone else?" Teasing as is his usual nature. He leans just enough to sling one arm over the backing of the couch while Harley gets comfortable.


The blonde makes a face as the finger hits the table, her tongue sticking out expressively. “Blech! Did the guy ever wash his hands? That should be the new threat. Like when yer mom gets on ya about wearin’ dirty underwear as a kid, yanno?” Not that Harley is an expert by any means in the things good mothers do and do not say. “‘Wear clean underwear. Ya could end up in an accident ‘n have ta go in an ambulance, and then everyone will see yer nasty skid mark underwear!’ Except, ‘Wash under yer nails! A merc could come fer ya, and then everyone’ll see yer nasty grimy black nails when he takes yer finger.’”

“But yeah, mebbe I missed ya a little.” Harley says as she clinks the bottle back and takes a small sip. She shrugs a shoulder, drawing up her knees to set her pale chin on them after she slips her feet out of her loosely tied boots. The shoes fall in a careless pile on the floor with an accompanying pair of thuds.

A second low chuckle escapes Taskmaster as his drink pulls away from his lips. "I suppose I coulda been polite and said, yer dead today buddy, make sure you shower oh and don't crawl through the mud and your buddies corpse piles. We got hygiene to consider here when I put your finger up on display."

"Just some small timer, not even worth the second thought but ya gotta keep up with the times. Gore, violence… Mass murder is the new thing I suppose." Looking sidelong at Harley, watching idly while she gets comfy and the shoes come off. "I prefer the personal approach. I like to see the expression on folks faces when I off them."

"Any news? Waller still too busy playing in politics to deploy us?"


“Yeah, s’been kinda quiet since the sidejob,” Harley offers between sips of soda, her pale gaze lingering on the run that one of her toes started peeking through. She’s hard on the tights when she’s out, but at least they’re still glittery! Dirty, but glittery.

“A couple of folks’ve been snagged fer milk runs. My last one was a friggin’ bully job. She pulled me out of a break in New York fer somethin’ that was barely even a prank.” ….That ended in a dead guy, but that’s neither here nor there.

A pale, soot-smudged eyebrow pricks upwards. “Which reminds me, Tee…” Her head turns sideways, setting her cheek upon her knee. “Bud and Lou.”

"I imagine with the way things are stateside, people dying by the hundreds to thousands she's got her handsful with her own bosses. Hard to imagine she's got those. I guess even the devil answers to the Heavens." Taskmaster's broad shoulders press back in to the sofa, crushing the cushioning under his weight, an ugly couch, puke green and like something out of the 70s show, there may be even duct tape on one arm holding it together. With all the money Regan had, the air June carried one would think they were better with keeping house. Slobs. Spoiled, brat pack of messed up femme fatales…

"Bobo and Loopy? Never heard of them." He says straight and level as expected. No appearance of humor in it. Maybe Taskmaster is suffering one of those onset memory breaks, they legit happen time to time. The bottle hefted to his mouth and taken back, lighter, it makes him wonder where so much of it went so fast.

And Quinn's expression darkens, the flash of her temper as she lifts her head just enough to shake it a little. It's a joke she doesn't feel like following today. "No, Tee. It's time ta pay up. I wanna know where they are." Her hoarse voice quivers a note - a note and little more - as she tells him, "That job cost me extra, and it came outta my hide while you were gone. I want 'em back, Tasky. Ya promised."

A promise. Wasn't it a promise? Even if it was, it's something that typically means so little between their kind. But her focus is of a singular kind. "Where did Satan put 'em?"

"I suppose I did didn't I." Taskmaster cants his head to the right, away from her, jaw lifting up to reveal the smirk he is wearing under the shadow of the skull's teeth rested higher up - oddly visible, but that's about it. Mouth, chin, cheeks, jaw, nothing more. "Fine, fine. The address and information is on my phone. I'll text 'em to you when you're good and ready."

A hitch, a pause and he studies her, smile fading away, "What you mean it came outta yer hide?" As quickly as he asks he changes hits back to topic, "This is gonna be horrible though, she sent them off to one of the worst places I ever been. You sure you wanna know where?"

How horrible is horrible? Quinn looks appalled by whatever she's already set to conjuring to mind, and terrified on behalf of her precious little carnivores. And what comes next, vitriol and umbrage cascading past of Harley’s cracked-paint lips like Niagara Falls, provides an excellent opportunity to not explain the details of what happened when he was gone. "What did she do to 'em? They're not coats, are they? I always loved Lou's spots, and Bud's coat always kinda sparkled in the sun. But more in a king of the savannah way, and less a stupid vampire novel way." Then, spiraling quickly out of control, the waterworks start gearing up. "Ohmigawd, did she send 'em to a vegetarian camp?! She's not trying to make vegans out of 'em, is she?! THAT'S AWFUL." Horror upon horror.

Then, rapidly, she shifts to a righteous fury. "I'll kill Satan fer this! No one makes my babies eat carrots like a fuckin' hippy! Gimme that fuckin' address, Tee. I'll destroy everything from here to where they are," A gloved finger stabs in Taskmaster's direction, as Quinn drops her feet to the floor and closes in on him manically wide. "YOU MARK MY WORDS. I'm gonna shove so many peas into Satan's ears fer this, her brain's gonna leak out her nose."

"Worse." Taskmaster adds, he cannot hide his amusement at this point. Not when she starts to promise such mayhem.

Ominous pause.

"Texas."

He lifts his hand up and flicks lobbing the bottle at the trashcan where it lands with a clash inside the bin.

"Some sanctuary refuge thing. Legit business. I doubt they're being terrorized or turned in to coats. Though, got me curious now. What's a Hyena coat go for, huh?" An arm redrapes over the back of the couch once again watching her as she squares off on him crazy eyed.

There's a pause, and a twitch as Harley has her indignation promptly drained from her. "Texas?" she croaks weakly, and then back she slowly comes full circle as she takes the full seconds needed to actually process that information, then oscillate her mood back to tears. "How the hell am I s'posed to get to Texas without her noticin'?"

She melts in a dejected lump back to her place on the beat up couch, her half drunk bottle of sugary goodness nestled in the crook of her legs as she brings her knees back up. This time she buries her face up to her nose behind them. Her voice mumbles, lips close against her own thighs. "She doesn't think I c'n take care of anythin', does she?"

The limb over the back of the couch shifts enough his hand can rest upon Harley's mop of hair, ruffling it teasingly. The closest bit of affection most people get out of the man.

"Easy. You ain't stuck in Gotham if you play your shit right. Just don't get caught or do nothin' too batshit." Who is he talking to though… "I mean, she's more what, like a probation officer for ya? Folks screw that up all the time. You're an asset, even I can see that. You don't toss your assets in a hole and not make use of them."

"We wanna go to Texas and get your furballs, we'll go to Texas an' get 'em. Deal’s a deal. Worse than fuckin' Gotham though… "

"Yanno they prolly won't even know me by now?" It was easier when Harley was going to be their savior. When she was going to swoop in and deliver them from a fate worse than death. (Like vegetarianism.) It would have justified easily the tranq darts and reacquainting period.

It would have justified the limitless amount of energy that she was willing to expend in order to bring them safely home to her regimen of stolen steaks and human-shaped playtoys.

The clown in her pale makeup slumps over against Taskmaster's side, contemplative and a more than a touch gloomy.

"Do ya think they're happy?"

"I dunno. I ain't the dog whisperer and can't exactly just call and ask them." Taskmaster heckles further, the hand on her head drops to her shoulder and rests, letting her mold against his side as they sit there in that musty dim light room on an equally shit couch. A ghost of its former life this place. At times he likes it.

"They might be if they haven't killed everything else in a ten mile radius around them. We can probably take a trip I imagine. Just… ugh, fuckin' Texas. You know how hot it is right now, too?" A low murmur and thirst at the idea sets, though, his initial desire is more beer. Not exactly a cure.

Harley's red lips curl upwards in a pale smile at the thought. "They're so assertive when they feel they've been ignored," she murmurs fondly. Then she turns her eyes up and starts to perk up, but only really sees the edge of Taskmaster's mask when she does. "I mean, they're very efficient killing machines, the two of 'em teamed up! It's why Mis—"

She stops short, and then Quinn sullenly turns her attention once more to the severed finger on the table and deflates. "They'd totally have eaten yer trophy by now."

"Hrm?" Taskmaster asks at the end there. Likely she’s slipping into Mistah J talk. He is accustomed to that. Damaged goods as such. Poor crazy thing.

"All that teeth, muscle and hilarious laughter, I'd say it's just meant."

"It's likely just going out the window anyways. I really didn't think it through."

He asks, and Harley just laughs. It's a quieter laugh, for certain, but it's of the unnerving quality that confirms Taskmaster's assessment. Poor crazy thing, indeed… He knows that much of her, at least. The damage isn't a secret between them, even if he doesn’t know the fullness of its depths and breadth. The sound of it sings out clearly in that soft bit of mad laughter, however politely restrained it is at the moment.

"Thinkin's overrated sometimes," she declares hoarsely, moving along into the role of philosopher. "An' sometimes ya can't do it enough. How's anyone s'posed to know when too much is too much, and when it ain't enough? How’re ya s’posed to know when it’s jes’ right?" She's comfortable where she is, nestled against Taskmaster's side but still curled around her soda bottle as though it would give her some answer if she could just scry it from the golden fluid and carbonation. Just a little more fizz, and an answer could come.

Her pale brow creases as she considers the finger anew. "We could shove a popsicle stick in it, stick it in some floral foam, cut out some construction paper petals to dress it up like a flower and leave it on Satan's doorstep." A pause, and then… "Well, her office doorstep. …I bet I could talk that one babysitter from that one job into doin' it. She'd never know it was us." She searches the records of her own memories for a moment, "What was his name again? The sucker."

"Something to do with flowers." Taskmaster adds or guesses. He doesn't recall much about the man, "Maybe Danvers? Nah. I honestly got no clue."

"Let’s steer away from attacks on Waller. Less thinking, more drinking or some nonsense. We got a trip to book to Texas of all damn things."

“It’s not an attack,” Quinn sullenly protests, shrugging a shoulder. “More like a craft project. I mean, you went and got that finger all by yourself, and I’ll even clean out the nasty fingernail if it makes you feel better about it. She should feel honored, really.”

The blonde sips lightly from her bottle, considering options.

“We could have someone deliver it while we’re gone in Texas, and then she wouldn’t even be able to blame us. Or maybe we blame on Captain America. That’ll REALLY get ‘er scratchin’ ‘er head.”

“Maybe just effort for a prank that ain’t energy worthy.” Taskmaster corrects.

“Best just pie her.”

His hand on her shoulder lifts again pushing his mask down fully resealing to his features. “Captain America wouldn't ever. Plus we can find better options. This Waller talk is killin’ the buzz I was working up.”

“Got a travel bag? We can hit Texas tomorrow. Get it over with quick. Rip that bandaid off.”

Mask on and ready looking he doesn't budge contrary to words and actions instead settling arm once more in a sling across the couch backing behind her.

“Alright, alright,” Comes the begrudging release of the planning, Harley grumbling under her breath. “It’s a terrible waste of a finger, but alright.”

“I got a bag. Jes’ tell me when it’s wheels up, and I’ll be there.”

Owen’s not here, and that’s something that both bothers her and is something of a relief. She’s not certain at all how he’d take this plan, and so it’s probably for the best that he’s not here. He’d be happy to not be tagged in, wouldn’t he?

He would. Of course, he would. It’s stealing, and Mercer said he’s not stealing anymore. It’s one more tie to her Ex that she can’t bear to give up, and that probably won’t help things either between them. The last job had already been problematic; there’s no reason to drag him in further. She and Taskmaster can easily handle this. It’s a cakewalk. It’s just breaking into an animal reserve and stealing back what she stole first with her ex-boyfriend like a good fur momma.

While crossing state lines.

And not getting caught by Amanda Waller who put her pets there in the first place.

It’ll be fine.

They’ve got this.

It’ll be just fine.

“‘m just gonna go and prep some extra things to make sure the boys are comfortable on the ride back and catch a few hours of shut eye.” And by ‘are comfortable’, Harley absolutely means ‘incapable of eating anyone’s face off’ and the few hours she means to sleep are all she’s been able to sleep in a row for weeks. She leans over, and plants a grape-flavored-gloss kiss on Taskmaster’s cheek with a loud smooching sound. “No leavin’ without me, ‘kay?”

And with that, Quinn turns and walks her way over to her room, uncharacteristically closing the door behind her.

“Wouldn’t think it, toots.”

A two fingered salute accompanies Harley’s waltz off. The man’s twitch of a smile fades once she is out of sight and he can stand up to fetch himself another drink, quietly observing the ever silent SKWAD ‘pad’ the new stillness of it haunting. He’s getting used to it though.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License