Lend Me Some Sugar, I Am Your Neighbor

July 25, 2018:

Owen wraps up a shift at a bar in Gotham and meets a friendly neighbor looking to borrow a cup of sugar, or murder him. Either one.

Characters

NPCs: Sock

Mentions: Harley Quinn

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

OOC: I lost the first pose, so please accept this weak substitute.

Owen has been staying in Gotham for a few days, both to let some things in New York cool off and to spend more time with Harley. While there he has picked up a few shifts from a friend, Socrates "Sock" that help give him something productive to do with his time. It's 1 am by the time the bar shuts down and Owen makes his way out to the street. He gets on his bike, pulls on his jacket despite the summer heat and gets ready to head straight home. No stops. No detours. No pulling out your phone and making any stupid decisions.

*

Expertly tied wingtips.

It's never really the greatest thing in Gotham City, seeing something out of the ordinary. But there are some things a little more out of the ordinary than most. Such as when a car pulls up into the way of Owen's motorcycle and stops, engine rattling to a quiet and dull end. This so much isn't the peculiar part. The peculiar part is the flawless make and upkeep of the brand new Buick, the canary yellow finish gleaming like daylight even on a wet midnight. Cars like this don't really make it that long in Gotham without either being defaced or stolen. Oh. One last thing.

It's a 1969 Buick Skylark, the one with the hard top.

Seriously, the car looks like it drove straight out of the middle-class suburbia of Americana herself, and it still rumbles like a puma when it comes right down to it. It's almost a crime just to be driving it around the city. Hmm. About that.

"Oof—!"

It is with the utmost of clumsiness that the car's occupant less climbs out and more stumbles out of the car's cabin, tumbling out of the car and smoothing out his sweater vest. The gentleman — as no other real adjective will do in this case — is dressed to the nines. The nineteen fifties, that is. Appearing for all the world like a Norman Rockwell painting come to life, the man's wingtips are the first thing that catches the eye, without a lace out of place, as it were, brown suede polished and honed to a mirror sheen. Straight slacks hanging in that sort of bunchless way that suggests the timeless fashion cheat of suspenders keeps him looking smart, while his dress shirt is tucked with knife-sharp folds into his belt, and kept in tame with a sweater vest in classic plaid. A tie accents the entire affair, tied tightly with a Bond-era perfect half Windsor.

A small mug hits the hood of the car.

It's marked with Rosie the Riveter, sick in bed with a hot water bag on her head and a comically oversized thermometer. 'Ugh. Mondays!' is printed across the bottom. The man — perfectly normal caucasian, despite looking as if he walked out of the 1950s, seems absolutely the image of an unassuming middle class family dad. He straightens his tie before talking, even!

That, and he smiles warmly.

"Well, a firm how-do-you-do to you this fine day, neighbor!" the man greets, finally.

*

The bright vintage car pulling in front of him causes a frown to cross Owen's face. Bright yellow. Vintage car. Owen mentally runs through a mental rolodex of schtick trying to line up this particular vehicle with any of Gotham's colorful characters' MOs. Nothing really jumps out at him and so he slowly stands up straighter. One hand does reach down and flick open the latch on a saddle bag though, just in case.

His eyes further narrow when a well dressed gentleman gets out. This isn't really the neighborhood for people with money, and between the car and the clothes Owen assumes this is someone of resources.

"You lost? Or crazy?"

There's no tone of pejorative to the question about being crazy. Some of Owen's favorite people are a little nuts. Okay, one of Owen's favorite people. But plenty of other people that Owen gets along with just fine.

*

"Hmm? Excuse me? Oh, no, no, heavens no. Just a little short."

There is a decisive pause. This is definitely not the case, as the sharply-dressed man easily — all too easily — clears six feet at a stance. The moment is only a beat, a second, a breath or a heartbeat. The exact amount of time that a souffle would take to realize you shut the door a little too hard to fall. It's exactly as long as a cat waits to knock your drinking glass off the desk while you watch. Exactly that long.

"I mean, in sugar, that is, haha.."
Timing.

"Anyway, where are my manners? I'm Jack Percent, and me and the missus just moved into the neighborhood, you see, with nothing but our hopes and our dreams! But you see, we were making some pancakes for little Timmy, Johnny, and little Fifty. And, wouldn't you know it, we just so happened to run out the last of the sugar. So the missus won't be able to make her famous pumpkin sauce for the glaze," he explains, continuing in the sort of matter-of-fact fashion that would put Mike Brady to shame. "And as the family provider, I can't abide that kind of hiccup in family operations," he adds, the wink implied.

He finally takes the mug off the hood of the car, and approaches the barkeep, offering a long hand for a stiff, strong, manful handshake. "So as I was on the way to the store, I realized, why not meet a few of the neighbors along the way? Seems like it's the only right thing to do. A strong neighborhood starts with strong neighbors, right?"

*

"You have a kid named Fifty Percent?"

Owen looks at the car and then back at the man. Two Face? Is there like a bizarro version of this guy in the car with a machine gun? Owen leans to the left to see if anyone else is in the car.

When approached for a handshake Owen is thoroughly weirded out. He shakes the hand though and even leans in a little to see if he can tell if the man is on some amazing drugs.

"Well sorry to disappoint, but I don' live round here. Just pickin' up a shift. And who the fuck is makin' pancakes and pumpkin glaze at one in the morning?"

Owen's hand is reaching into the satchel on the bike now. This is a weird situation. And maybe it's just run of the mill whacky Gotham weird, but it might also be murderously terrible everyone dies Gotham weird. It's hard to tell sometimes. Until the dying starts, then it's easier to tell but harder to make it out alive.

*

Jack is wearing white gloves without a speck of dirt of them. It roundly changes, obviously, when he makes handfall with the keep. The shake is brisk and uneventful, though he shakes once, strong, then releases. Underneath closer scrutiny, beyond some seriously green eyes, there's no sign of drugs or anyone else in the car with him. For all intents and purposes, he seems to reflect traditional American values in a place where any values at all are treated like a foreign language. One can almost hear Don McLean playing in the background as Owen makes eye contact.

"Oh, well," Jack replies with a knowing smile. "You know what they say, 'Fifty percent of something is better than one hundred percent of nothing.'" The wink is the seal on the envelope, and he doesn't seem at all dismayed at Owen's rather rough response, grinning. "Well, I have to admit, I'm a little disappointed to hear that, my good man. Sure I can't persuade you to see what the bar has in stock? Surely there's a margarita mixer or something in there we could do a little bit of the old dash on," he jibes knowingly, in an entirely wholesome and friendly manner. He's still smiling.

This close, you can see he's wearing makeup.
It's cracking, because he's still grinning.

"I'm sure they'd pay you overtime.."

That's when the world's friendliest neighbor depresses an unseen catch on his coffee mug, pressurizing the false bottom on it, and firing a grand old jet of orange dust right at Owen's face. "Sounds like a man who hates pancakes, to me!!" Now he can't help himself. Now he's starting to laugh. Ha. Ha ha.

HA HA HA ha Ha HA HA ha HA HA ha ha hA HAah HAH!!!

*

The sense of unease only continues to grow when the man keeps talking about all these bizarre wholesome things. Things that don't really exist in this part of Gotham. He may as well be an alien.

Fifty percent of something..? Owen's confusion at the near riddle and then continued insistence on possibly borrowing a mug full of sugar at one in the morning cause him to take a closer look at the man. What is he looking for though? Is it a robot? Is it a shape-shifter? How could he even tell? Is it … shit.

Makeup.

Cracking makeup.

The realization hits Owen's eyes a fraction of a second before the click. It's enough for Owen to dive off the bike and away from the majority of the cloud of powder, but maybe not escape unscathed. He rolls and comes up with a weapon in each hand. His movements are quick, but nothing above human level just yet. Owen's not exactly unprepared to face the Clown of Psychotic Boyfriends Past. He's thought about it. And he's willing to bet the Joker knows him as just Captain Boomerang, the son and would be successor of the original. The original who in later years was an overweight joke of a villain who couldn't even murder some non-super types without getting killed in the process. No reason to give the Joker any concept that he's anything more than a knockoff of a washed up D list villain.

"What took you so long? I woulda thought you'd come a callin' for a heart to heart sooner than this Chuckles."

With the back of his hand he wipes at his face and is dismayed to see the back of his hand in light orange dusting. That doesn't bode well.

*

The makeup begins to break. With earsplitting laughter vivid enough to curdle the blood of degenerates well over a block away, the Joker's hysterias are more than enough to break the thin veneer of paints and foundations making up the basis of a mild manner almost plastic in its artifice. Somewhat apropos, the cracking starts along his smile lines and spiderwebs quickly across one half of his face. Crazed white begins to show itself in harlequin lines beneath the pattern, gaps that only grow phobically wider as he approaches Owen, dignified and collecting himself well even as he begins to flake, badly.

"Aht!" He tuts the young boomerang, holding up a finger in instruction as he starts to talk to him.

"Never contradict the premise. You're supposed to call me Jack.. Heh heh…"

He twirls the mug around by the handle in his free hand. His approach is slow, inexorable, even as the rough criminal shows himself quite quickly to be armed. Only just now does the pressured lid, shot far into the sky, land on the ground somewhere behind Owen, the twang of tin on the street unmistakable. Exactly how much force was that stuff shot with?

"You see, I thought you would have thanked me. I was just trying to be a good neighbor, after all. A good neighbor is someone who's there for his neighbors. A good neighbor always listens to his fellow man, and never lets his business get out of hand. A good neighbor is a /neighbor who shares./ Mister Rogers said it best, didn't he? Let's make the most of this beautiful day.."

The orange dust, somewhat amazingly, does in fact taste a bit like pumpkin pie latte, once you get right down to it. Given that it's composed mostly of toxins, that is an impressive feat. If Owen is anything like the four or five people he killed trying to get the mix just right, the world should be tilting just a little bit off its axis right now. Fine motor control is going to tank like the crow's nest missed the ice berg, too. Which is probably for the best, because as the Joker notices Owen brandishing some off brand weapons at him, he grins.

And smashes the mug on the wall nearby, shattering it and leaving him with just the crescented handle. This he brandishes at Owen, about as menacingly as if it were a batarang. "Since we're together, might as well say.."

His blood red lips appear as waxlike appliances flake out of scarring and twisted skin.
"Would you be mine. Could you be mine. Won't you please be my neighbor? Heh heh heh heh…"

*

The cracking of the makeup, the laugh, the drop of the tin lid, the smashing of the mug. Each of these makes Owen flinch just a little. He grits his teeth, wishing he could calm his nerves which are normally okay, well at least better than this. But now he's completely on edge. Especially since he didn't fully dodge the powder attack. But, thankfully for Owen, he does have an ace up his sleeve there.

"Catch. Jack."

The boomerang is thrown… behind Owen? He tosses it over his shoulder without looking. And the next instant, he's not there. He moves with a speed that is completely beyond human ability, creating a sucking sound as the air rushes in to fill the space he left. The speed helps move him away from the Joker, which is good. But more importantly it helps burn off whatever creeping effect was coming on from the powder. The speed burst is not terribly long though. Just enough to move him now to the top of the car. Which means it's also not long enough to completely remove the effect. Maybe stave it off for a little though.

The knife is then thrown at the Joker's back. Which should leave the boomerang coming in from the front and the knife coming in from the back aimed roughly at opposing shoulders.

"And how fuckin' dare you besmirch Fred Rogers good name? Have the decency to quote someone awful. Give me a one of those patented sad Joker puns that make middle aged housewife smirk in mild discomfort. A whacky Riddler puzzle. A Batman threat. Leave Mr. Goddamn Rogers out of this."

*

All of this serves to raise the Joker's eyebrow.

He sucks his teeth, loudly. What he is faced immediately is with a physics dilemma, and the Joker's eyes split wide as the little tomcat explodes into a bunch of different vectors, immediately eluding his vision. "Fiddlesticks!" he spits, with all of the vitriol of any profanity uttered by any sailor ever, before he finally just angrily throws his coffee cup handle off in the direction of the boomerang. Though the Joker has no particular ability with hand-eye coordination that would let him keep up with anything approaching that kind of speed, he doesn't have to when explosives are involved.

An air burst of that poison snaps from the handle, which is more likely to knock the boomerang off of its particular course, while shattering the handle into a hundred pieces. That said, the Joker's baseball-style throw is nowhere near as graceful as Owen's, and so when he gets hit in the back with a mean knife, the Joker almost collapses all over himself, comically pinwheeling as his blood spritzes lightly over the pavement and his sweater.

"My boy," the Joker breathes, slowly rising. He's laughing lightly, even with the knife still embedded painfully in his back. "Fred Rogers besmirched the concept of canvas sneakers."

As he does, he detaches his tie, slipping it out of his vest. At this point, Owen will note that the length is semi-rigid. Even as the man burns through the toxin, he will note that it is something vastly stronger than one would expect from a drug, and that accelerating its effects is the fastest way to get rid of it. But it is also the fastest way to burn through the end of it. At one point, it was probably intended for something close to total paralysis. It is probably also not entirely nonlethal, judging from the body count amassed in testing it. By the time Owen burns through half or more of it, he might start imagining the Joker's face literally melting off.

His voice is much deeper than usual. And not entirely human-sounding.
"And DO mind the paint, dear. I just had her washed."

Well, you know what they say. If you can't poison them… he lifts up the small gun concealed in his tie. And then shoots a pair of somethings on the order of a military-grade taser sticky round at Owen. His aim is not the greatest, of course — knife be damned — but then again, that's why there are multiple shots in a clip. Besides, he's already accounted for poor aim. The shots that tumble through the air are shaped like very, very tiny apples.

Why apples?
For the PIE, of course.

*

The stiffening of the muscles is concerning. The Joker's face melting and voice changing into a demonic growl however aren't quite as terrible for Owen as it might be for others. It's a bad trip. A bad trip that might kill him sure, but well that's not really new either. Owen tries to blink, to see where his opponent actually is, and what he might be doing. It's getting hard to concentrate. Or move.

His own voice sounds distorted to his ear as he asks, "What? No monologue? No opening up and telling me the deep meaning behind our little meet cute? I'm hurt."

Owen exhales sharply as he tries to move his right gloved hand. He doesn't need much. He doesn't have to produce a new weapon. He doesn't have to throw anything. No, all he needs is to make a certain gesture. Normally a trivial thing, that was the thought when he designed it. But now, it takes all his effort to place his palm up and point all five fingers to the sky. It's almost like a hand signal for fire.

And the knife reacts. Spraying itself in accelerant and bursting into flames.

Owen doesn't really have time, or the muscle control to smile over this achievement though. Not when there are tiny apple taser buds suddenly sticking out of his chest. He can only move his eyes down to look at them. His voice, now sounding like he's mimicking a Ricola commercial comes softly.

"Weeeelll. Shiiiiiit"

*

"Come on, old chap. Let's have a show of it!!" His cackle is uncomfortable, to say the least, as he half walks, half-jumps a step towards Mercer, his long legs seeming all too like a Slinky stretched a few inches too far before snapping loose. There is no rhythm or reason to the motion, save some half-remembered glee that snaps the clown prince to attention like gas set alight. Speaking of, he's just about to start laughing again when he seems to spontaneously combust.

It doesn't actually stop him.

"What's that smell?" the man in the cardigan wonders, sniffling at the air as smoke and a warm inviting light curls from his back. "Ah, the acrid, yet heady and gentle aroma of blackening chemical-infused flesh," he remarks fondly, placing a hand over his heart. "Just like mom used to make… say. Wait a minute. THAT'S ME!" he squawks, suddenly dropping to the ground, while reaching behind himself for the knife. In the sudden and chaotic interlude to what was for a minute, a really good show, all kinds of things start bouncing out of the Joker's pockets and vest. Little springs, his tie, a set of Z-Ray Specs, a few spare marbles, a microfiche copy of Highlights magazine circa 1982, all and sundry, really. The marbles are sort of the important point to make here. You see, they're explosive. You will notice this just as they start to roll away. Marbles bounce across the street and roll across, only to detonate with very little rhyme or reason to their landing. They shear through the corner of the Buick and send the wheel rolling away, the entire chassis leaping off one axle from the blast. Another blast sends a fire hydrant flying into the air, and a jetstream of water into the sky.

This much, at the very least, mercifully puts 'Jack' out.

The man lays there, spread-eagled on the ground as water sprays across the area, drenching him and the car. He laughs, just a little, 'heh heh' style. His eyes are dim and distant, his limbs all scattered about. "Well, how about that," he remarks. "Someone who wants to have a few well-placed laughs? Who would have thought Harley would have had that kind of taste."

"But then again.." he grins. "I DID teach her well."

"Ohhh, don't worry, Immobile Dundee," the Joker breathes, evenly and calm, looking like a soaked washrag by now. He painfully sits up, checking the wound at his back. It's seared. "I'll get around to business soon enough. You'll have to forgive me. When my girl goes out of her way to bring me someone just so gosh-darn good-natured, I can't help but have a little fun, you know?" He grins. "It always takes awhile for someone to figure out when they've been played, after all…"

Heh. heh. heh.

An explosion goes off in the background, from a forgotten marble.
A lamppost flickers and leans at a catastrophic angle, slowly tearing off its moorings to come down and flatten a mailbox. The mailbox shoots letters into the air. Which promptly get wet. Sticky letters to Santa Claus rain from the sky. And the Joker's eyes widen, before he takes the opportunity to point at them, looking at Owen. "Get the message???" He is clearly delighted.

*

The Joker might think it's a laugh to be set aflame, but Owen finds nothing humorous about the shock being sent through his system. His teeth clamp shut and his body convulses in pain, ironically moving his limbs in a flailing motion impossible for him to do under his own power at the moment. He falls off the car to the ground behind, which thankfully shields him from most of the marble blasts. The taser also seems to kick his speed bursts in, which doesn't help with the shocking but does help his body fight through the paralyzing agent.

He flops around on the ground for a while longer, forced to listen to the taunts of the unhinged lunatic clown. As Owen catches his breath, the Joker goes for head trip. In fairness Owen did ask for it. He grunts and then laughs, lying on the ground still.

"Really? That's yer play here? That Harley set me up? Oh honey. I've seen Harley attempt undercover. She may be fun as hell, and great in bed, but an actrice? Nah. She ain't got it in her."

Right? Dammit. No. She couldn't be pulling a con on him. She wouldn't have been able to… Focus Mercer.

He rolls his head to the side to look under the car and try and figure out where his assailant is now. He rolls up to sitting, still trying to catch his breath. With a burst of speed, he manages to get up and hold out his hand in a gesture that recalls the knife to his hand. It comes back. Like a boomerang. Get it?

"Yer just pissed cause you put down your toy and someone else wanted to play with it. Well, fuck you. She ain't a toy. She ain't yours. And she sure as shit wouldn't sell me out." Now why did he add that last bit? Who's he trying to convince here? And why is he so concerned with yelling instead of attacking or running away like a smart person might.

*

The Joker lets the moment sit while Owen struggles to regain control of his faculties, and is clearly crestfallen when he is not impressed by the superior level of comedic timing the Joker is able to muster on a near instinctual level. Boy, tough crowd. Even when Owen objects to his little revelation of key interest, the Joker is still sulking. Even the little jab at exactly how fun his woman is doesn't bother him, at least it doesn't appear to, not as much as his joke not going over as planned. He's getting up now, straightening, dusting the grime off of his Baby Boomer's Best Vest. Ah well. The show must go on…

'She ain't a toy. She ain't yours. And she sure as shit wouldn't sell me out.'
That's when he smiles. The creeping, bloodstained ivory appears like a crawling centipede.

"Who?" he asks, innocently. "The trained psychiatrist? The one who always comes when she's called? The one who wears red and black right down to the the fruits of her loom? The one who dressed up for me for years just to prove how devoted she was? The one who took bullets and brutes for me? The one who led so many thugs right into my playhouse? Maybe you ARE your father's son after all… heh!!"

He reaches into his pockets with both hands. When he draws them out, he does so with a gunslinger's flourish—"HA!" Only, nope, not sixguns. A pair of handpuppets. They're just barely visible over the car if you peek. One is a rendition of Harley, wearing a red and black corset-style ensemble, and wielding a comically oversized teapot. "Oh well. Let's say you're right," he explains quietly, while throwing a little magnetic boomerang with the opposite puppet. That's right… somewhere along the line, he found time to hand-knit the world's worst Owen Mercer puppet. At least the little metal bits in the puppet's hands are kind of cool, allowing him to flick a small boomerang — the size of a paperclip and tied to the puppet — with what must be his ring finger and catch it with his thumb. He's apparently been practicing it, because he is able to do so a few times in succession, miming the cool and indifferent rogue while the puppet Harley faux pours him tea.

"Let's say you're right, and maybe she means well. She always does, doesn't she? Maybe not for you, but then maybe for who? And when you are… let's say, getting more than a little neighborly with her," he supposes, bringing the puppets a little closer. Owen places a kiss on the Harley's cheek. Harley seems to prefer this treatment.

Oh god, the miming. He even figured out a way to make a squeaking noise. It can't get worse.
"Who do you think all that fun comes from?"
Then a little Joker pops out of the teapot. It got worse.

All the while, the Joker has been advancing on Owen. His footsteps slowly disappear behind the part of the car that was levelled by a stray marble, making his location hard to discern. At least, until he starts talking again. "At the end of the day, what you think isn't really that important, now is it? All that matters is how kind of a neighbor I'm being. And lending you the missus, well. That's just how good a neighbor I AM!"

If Owen missed the puppetshow, he will be grossly unprepared for when a miniature Joker jumps behind the car, wielding a knife at him. A Joker, the size of a half-hand, wielding a kitchen knife the size of a needle. The little knit Joker giggles mechanically.
And then bursts, as he reaches chemical volatility, and the resulting acid spray forms a cloud, more than capable of taking the paint job off the car. And probably more than a few layers of something that is definitely not Owen's paint job.

*

Owen wields the knife, now back, extinguished in his hand, gripping it tightly. His knuckles whitening as the Joker expertly gives voice to some of his own inner doubts. Harley might be the psychiatrist, but is there anyone better at getting inside people's heads than her erstwhile beau? He tries to brush it off. Owen was trying to verbally poke and prod this dangerous psychopath into not sticking to whatever awful plan he was cooking up, but that didn't work out so well. Surprise.

The taunt about his father draws an obvious snarl on Owen's face. It's not exactly a hard topic to guess for a soft spot, dead parent and all, but it's effective none the less. He growls back a very weak retort of, "Shut it. Clown."

And then: Puppets. Wat? Owen's face contorts into a wary confusion as the little show enacts.

"Aww, see? Even you're routing for us crazy kids. So why don't you fuck off and leave us alone. Don't you got some school kids to poison or granny's to choke you sick fuck?"

Owen follows the Joker with his eyes, keeping the knife pointed in his direction. When he loses him behind the car, Owen takes a step or two back, well aware that he's being advanced on. The pop up mini Joker though is enough of a WTF moment though to distract Owen enough to get sprayed. His jacket immediately starts corroding, the clothes underneath as well. His speed wasn't enough to dodge the blast, but at least he can whip off his clothes faster than an exhibitionist Flash. But he's not free and clear and he can't stay to chat. He hurdles the car and is on his bike, headed for a stash house where he has what he needs to treat acid burns. At least for the acid he uses. Hopefully it is effective for this. Maybe.

He barely looks over his shoulder once on the bike. Only a brief glance, then it's all eyes forward. Treat the wound. Get the hell out of Gotham.

Don't think about what he said.

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