July 27, 2018:

The scene where Owen and Harley most certainly should not talk. But do to disastrous end.

"But alas, I was no swimmer, so I lost my Clementine."

The Building Filled with Shiny Apartments of Which One Belongs to Owen


NPCs: None.

Mentions: The Joker, Luke Cage, Emery Papsworth, Taskmaster


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Things have changed very quickly for Owen Mercer over the last few days. Between the attack by the Joker, the subsequent taking a 'break' conversation with Harley and then Surprise Rehab!, he feels a bit out of control. He's had a few days of rehab under his belt though now. He's spent his time outside of rehab making trips to IKEA or other cheap furniture outlets to find enough to furnish his new apartment.

But the nights have been tough. He's supposed to be staying clear of all drugs during the program. Including alcohol. Which means Owen finds himself actually sober, full on, for an extended period of time. It's unnerving to say the least.

He returns back to his apartment frustrated after his fifth walk of the night to smoke a cigarette as he walked around the block. He texted Harley a few hours ago. He wanted to talk. To explain. To apologize. To do anything other than sit by himself watching TV or staring at the walls. Normally he would have just hopped in his car and headed to Gotham, but he's still half mummified from his last trip to his hometown and in no hurry to see what might await his return.

The text from Owen prompts something of an 'oh shit' moment. Harley was fairly certain - given the general timbre of their last conversation, the gravity of the reason behind his departure, and even what happened during the ill-fated vacation to NYC - that she wasn't likely to see him for some time

And so she's not quite where he left her. She's denned down in a shitty apartment in the Narrows, where people are even less likely to talk about her comings and goings. Where she can keep a pair of hyenas without complaining. Or, if they did complain, she could use the appropriate level of threat to get a landlord on board.

For SOME reason, she's managed to get to stay there rent free??? (It's good to have a horrible rep sometimes and be okay with a lackadaisical approach to supering.)

But back to this whole Owen situation.

It's a speed rinse in the dilapidated shower, pulling out the hunks of pork shoulder that she got for the boys, and then a frantic motorcycle ride from the Narrows later that sees her in NY at an address given her in that text series (during which she was unsurprisingly succinct), hair dried in strings from the ride and sporting a white tank and a pair of black jeans with red paint curling all over it in Harley's flowing girly hand in some stream of consciousness ridiculousness that really probably only makes sense to her. She makes it there in that window somewhere, parks the bike, and waits on the stoop of the apartment building for whenever he shows up.

In the bathroom, once again splashing water on his face, Owen takes a good hard look at himself in the mirror. He's just short of giving himself a pep talk outloud. He checks the time and decides it's been long enough to go out for another smoke break.

Coming out the elevator, he can already see out the door and onto the stoop. He stops and checks himself. Not externally, he knows he's a mess of bandaged arm, cut up face and looking very much like someone going through a detox of a million different things. But internally, can he handle this? What if it goes poorly? Is he going to say screw it? How badly?

Steeling himself, he comes out the door and plops down next to her. He looks over at her and gives an awkward half smile and goes for the tried and true.


Uncertainty paints itself plainly on Harley's own pale features, although she's not wearing her alabaster cosmetics. She's that considerate, at least. She turns with a start when the door opens, and the fingertips that dangle near her boots twitch. One of those boots is swollen more than another; she's hidden something in there. It's a tension that relaxes, though, when she recognizes Mercer coming through the doors. A short-lived relief is there.

She's still pale under the light of the brighter street lamps of New York—or do they just seem brighter here after so long in the dark and dank of Gotham?—and she doesn't get up. She reciprocates his half-smile with a little more bravado, slender shoulders shrugging up coyly. "Hey." Then her arms cross over her knees and she rests her chin upon them. "New digs, or just another rich friend?"

Owen realizes almost instantly, looking at her. that he's in trouble. But his smile only brightens as she shrugs a shoulder at him. Goodness how he would love to go back to what they had. No real talk. No bad times. Just fun. Why can't it be like that again?

"New digs! The uh, bar on the first floor is Luke's." He blinks and realizes that probably means nothing to Harley. "It's where I work. At least I will. Luke is a good buddy of mine and I worked at his last place till it got all blown up. This whole building is his now? Or something. Anyway I'm gonna be bartending again when it opens."

Bartending. It's so weird to talk about a normal, everyday job with her. Between the awkwardness of what should be a very straight forward conversation and the pain in his bandaged arm, it slowly starts to sink into his thick skull why he can't just go back to all fun and games.

He pulls out a lighter and checks that he is appropriately far enough from the building that it will work before lighting up a cigarette.

"Oh." Why did she drive all this way? "That's…" a concept so alien and strange to her that Harley doesn't even know what to do with it. Although, she supposes, that a server gig asks fewer questions than one that requires a board certification. "…good," she slowly and cautiously decides. Although, she's already deciding that it probably means nothing good for her. Or for this strange delicate edge that they've been dancing on for months.

She can't even look at the bandages. Can't begin to start. So she doesn't try.

Quinn laughs instead, because what else do you do? He won't want to talk about it, he invited her here when he asked for space first, and all that is left is the humor of some unspoken joke. Because life is funny.

She stops abruptly, and then turns her wide and vapid eyes to blink in his direction. For all the world, she looks like where a bad dumb blonde joke starts. "Who's Luke?" A pause is followed by a roll of her eyes and shake of her head so she doesn't have to look at the bandages for more than the split-second that they court her peripheral vision. "I mean, other than a guy who owns a bar and can give you a job. I got that part."

He watches her try to process it. He knows that this banal, normal life he's building here has nothing to do with the madcap life he's presented in Gotham. It's totally at odds. He only offers a tight lipped smile as she tries to come up with something to say.

That's her question? Out of all the things he expected her to ask. Who Luke is, was not super high on the list. It's at once too trite and too within the flow of the conversation for her. He was expecting some hypothetical about if seals had legs do you think you could teach them to ride a bike or some such.

"Luke? He's a big, bald black dude that's …" He trails off, unsure how to finish that exactly. Not just put it in words for Harley, but even for himself. He starts again.

"I got issues. You know that. I need to sort this drug shit out. And not just cause it's gonna kill me." He swallows. It's hard to talk about with anyone, but he's never so much as even acknowledged it to Harley. Which is not to say that she isn't well aware. It's just been another unspoken between them. "I almost hurt some people, killed some people that didn't deserve it, because of it. I got played. Because of it. And I know that this might not make sense to you, Harl…"

"But Luke is just a good dude. That's who he is. And he's giving me a shot at something. And I can't fuck that up." He looks away and adds, "Like I've fucked up everything else."

He's got issues? One of Harley's eyebrows arches so high as to nearly court forming its own country at that, but she doesn't counter him. Doesn't give voice to the hundreds of excuses and exceptions that spring to her mind, that she could put to him in an attempt to trivialize the gravity of what he's telling her. Her heel starts tapping, the thinner boot clapping against the grey of the step beneath it.

She tries to figure out what to say. 'The man in the moon sizes up his competition at midnight.' No, too vague. Declaring a need for less beating around the bush, and more direct consequences for her in this moment is not what Normal People do.

He really wants to be a normal boy, doesn't he? And normal boys don't have fucked up girlfriends with fucked up exes who will fuck you up when they find out there's a whole lot more fucking going on than said fucked up ex particularly cares to know about.

Normal boys walk away.

"Don't gotta make sense to me," she says quietly, her head drooping down just a little more and her chin starting to sink below the horizon of her slender arms. Ruby lips above her forearms, blowing bubbles soft and fine… Wait. That's not how the song goes. It seems to fit where she's estimating the trajectory of this conversation to land.

Her grating accent, which for a brief and shining moment had thinned to something tolerable to the normal human perception, returns with a thick vengeance. "But okay. That mean yer stayin' here?"

Oh don't worry, he's getting to the other issues at hand. But it's the rehab talking that he's starting with his own issues before he opens up on anyone else's.

Owen scootches closer to her. He starts to put his bandaged arm around her but decides better of it and places it back down on his lap. He sighs.

"Yea. I'm stayin' here."

He looks at her, up and down and then back to looking at her face.

"It's good to see you." Which is kind of weird since they just saw each other a few days ago? And he asked her to come? But he clarifies. "I mean … no gimmick. Not, Harley Quinn! Just.. you." Because for a part of him that schtick that they bonded over initially has been forever tainted. Someone made it very clear what the origin of that was and now it's all tied up in that in Owen's head.

"I thought I could handle it. Your past with the Joker. Because hey, I've made some terrible choices." He nudges her with his shoulder and laughs a little, "Okay, maybe none as bad as that asshole. But still. Some terrible ones."

He takes a long drag on his cigarette, needing to find a way to finally say this outloud.

"But. I ain't so sure he's in the past. I mean… is he? Honestly. Cause I gotta say, he brought up some shit that made it feel an awful lot like…." he swallows and changes direction.

"I just wanted something good. For me. For you."

He laughs, and she just kinda looks at him surprised at the nudge. But she listens, and her expression darkens deeper still. "Yeah," Quinn says, tone suddenly bitter as she drops her face behind her arms entirely. "Me, too."

Then she shoves up because her bouncing heel and his proximity are some sort of disaster waiting to happen, her need to move just too great. She spreads her arms wide, an expression of her frustration. "I thought we had somethin' good. But I guess I fucked that up before I ever metcha." Leaning forward, she enunciates very clearly: "He ain't in the past. He's right here, right now. He's settin' me on fire one week, He's got you lookin' like Boris Karloff next."

There's a pause, as Harley straightens and clarifies: "The Mummy Karloff. Not the Frankenstein's Monster."

Her hands come up to either side of her head as it shakes violently, "THAT'S NOT THE POINT. I—AUGH. NOW I LOST ALL OF MY GRAVITAS AND—" she points angrily in Owen's direction "I AM BLAMING YOU RIGHT NOW FOR THAT." She circles her face, drawing attention to its angry creases. "THIS IS ME. VERY MUCH BLAMING YOU RIGHT NOW."

Her hands only grow more animated, as she talks. "I am glad you are getting you straightened out. I seem to remember that I tried to say somethin', and ya nearly came at me. So, I'm glad someone else is talkin' some sense atcha in a language you understand." A palm comes up towards him, to speak some benediction. "You do whatever you feel ya gotta do. I ain't gonna stand in the way of that. An' if Mistah J…" She scowls, and then shakes her head once more. "You know what? I'll figure it out. I'll get 'im off yer case, alright? I shouldn't have broughtcha when Tee asked for the Smilex. That was my bad. I get it. I'll fix it."

For a half second it seems like maybe they can talk about this. Like rational adults.

HAAAAAAA. It's Owen and Harley. There is no way in hell that's happening.

She bounces up and his head snaps up in full attention. She then comes at him and his face twists into a dark smile.

"We did." He agrees that they had something good with a sinister tone that doesn't sound too convincing right now. "And bullshit. This isn't about your past. It's the now. Yea, he set you on fire. Why were you with him? You didn't say. I didn't ask. I didn't want the answer." Ugh, it's sad how off base Owen is there, but his own jealousies have gotten the best of him. He didn't say anything, tried to push that thought out of his head, but apparently now is the time for saying those things.

"Yes, I need to kick heroin, Harley. Because it's something from my past that's going to kill me. And fuck up my life and the lives of those I care about. Including you. Gee, does that sound familiar?"

He stands now, pissed that she's bringing up things instead of him. He should be the one who's furious. He's the one who doesn't trust her. "You think this is cause I got burnt? Who cares? I've had worse. I don't give a shit about what what Zippo the failed clown car salesman tries to pull."

He gets real close and nearly whispers with deadly serious tone the root of the issue. "I care that yer still dressed up like yer his girl. That yer still the clown princess of crime. What the hell am I supposed to think? Yer all but calling yerself Mrs. Joker. I need to cut out heroin to get my life back, Harl. Maybe, you should do the same."

If Owen were anyone else. Anyone else, she would crush his jaw. Instead, Harley's fist flies sideways and finds the brick of the walkup leading up to the front doors, and a little bit of it crumbles. Oops. At least it's not much? "Fer yer information. I was there, drinking college boys down fer cash, when he showed up out of nowhere looking for me because I fucking stole his Smilex because Smilex was the only way TEE WAS GOING TO GIVE ME MY GAWDDAMNED BABIES BACK AND—BECAUSE HE'S HIM—HE THOUGHT IT WAS A FUCKING LOVE NOTE!!!"

Quinn's eyes flare wide as she just keeps screaming, hands back up towards her face to frame what she is saying: "ALL I WANTED WAS MY BUD AND LOU. THAT WAS IT. TWO HYENAS WHO WERE SOME FORGOTTEN PUNCHLINE LIKE ME." She backs away, and moves towards her bike, pulling the knife out of her boot and shoving it into a compartment there as she just keeps on screaming. "BUT NO. No. NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!! I CAN NEVER JUST GET MY STUFF BACK. It's always 'first this, Harl!' or 'after you that, Harl!'. WHEN IT WAS MY STUFF TO START WITH! SO, WHAT? Now, you wanna get in on that great action? Threaten that I have to do something to prove that I give a rat's ass about you before you stick around?!" Her brow knits and her eyes narrow dangerously. "Screw. You. Mercer."

Pulling a jacket out of the back, she starts to pull it on. "You wanna stay here, stay here. Be some normal whatever to yer heart's content. Getcherself straight. Be happy with some normal girl who does normal things and loves a normal life. 'll figure out how to make sure my ex ain't near you."

Owen winces just a little when she explains what happened. Except, he's not really in a very believing mood, so who knows if she's being straight with him. That's how tripped up he is. But it also goes to show how little these two have actually talked about things. Even important things. Especially important things.

"Oh really? So stealing from yer ex-boyfriend with yer other ex-boyfriend and yer current boyfriend was the only way to do that? Bullshit. Whatever weird pull he has over you? I don't want anything to do with it."

Owen watches her pull a knife with at first mild concern. But then she's putting it away? That's weird. Now seems like the time where he'd normally get stabbed or hit.

"ME?! You think droppin' this asshole from your whole goddamn identity is about me?! Wake up, Harley! You are still whatever broken fucked up fantasy he built. I wanted you! Not his version of you!"

He throws his hands up. "Oh yea, let's shit on normal. Because fuck normal right? Who the hell wants a happy, stable life where they don't feel like a piece of shit all the time? God, doesn't that just sound terrible."

Taking a step towards her, not menacingly but to make sure she can hear when he again drops his voice. "You think you got me all figured out cause o' yer psychoanalysis shit? How are those skills working out for you? You fuckin' nut bag."

Because if you are going to end a relationship the Owen Mercer way. You go all in. Like a moron. Oh Owen.

It is very rarely that Harley is taken by surprise anymore by the slings and arrows of those outside her circle. She's been called every derogatory name under the sun for the mentally ill. She's been marginalized and abused for it. For just a split second, it's there: a spark of genuine hurt. Because she didn't expect it from Owen. Of all people outside of maybe Poison Ivy, not him. But it's just a spark - a moment of weakness - and then it's gone again.

Quinn smiles. Sweetly so. "And you are precisely why normal people scare me." There's an angry exhale, and then a dramatic change in vector as she slides her leg over the large bike she calls her own. "'m glad yer gettin' help," she mutters darkly. It's not begrudging, but the feel of it in her mouth after everything that came before makes it feel… desperately wrong. She says it anyway. "'n call yer Luke, yeah? Or Bailey's. Yer serious 'bout bein' clean, this whole conversation ain't gonna sit well." A pause, and then an angry twitch of her mouth. "Whatever. Whatever. No one listens to us raging nut bags, anyway."

A kick to start up the bike, and she's ready to pull off.

Harley shouldn't expect it from Owen. He even surprises himself that he went there. But in the moment he doesn't care. All his insecurities about why she was with him and what was real or just a fun distraction while she waited for the Joker to come waltzing back just boiled over. And it feels good to give voice to those things.

For about two seconds.

Because nothing makes you feel worse than saying something really shitty to someone you do care deeply about only to have them suddenly flip a switch and be genuine and kind. And when she tells him to call someone, a thought that was already running through his head, his face just drops. He sadly says her name as she starts up the bike. His voice now lost in the noise.


But then she's gone and Owen makes it back to the steps before flopping down, first to sitting and then to full on lying on the top step. He pulls out his phone to text Emery. He knows she's right. He can't weather this alone right now. He pulls out another cigarette and smokes it, still lying on his back. He mutters aloud for no one else's benefit.

"Well, that went well."

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