The Housecall

August 01, 2018:

In the wake of the run-in with the Red Hood, Harley calls one of all of two people she is probably still allowed to call.

Harley's Hideyhole

An even crappier apartment than the one that she has in the Gotham Arms, located in the Narrows of Gotham.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Boomerang, The Joker, Red Hood

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

In the wee hours of the morning, Taskmaster will hear the vibration of his phone. It's a text message from Harley's new burner - having destroyed the one before it - and the message doesn't have much to it. An address to a dive in the Narrows where Taskmaster hasn't been, and a very brief message after.

Need a hand.

And when he arrives, he'll find the door cracked open and an apartment in chaos. One of two small windows has been shattered and the glass is spread all across the floor. Something came in, but whatever it is seems to be gone. There's blood splattered across the floor, and Harley is sitting on her bed in little more than her tee shirt with her legs crossed and that shirt half-soaked in blood. Surrounding her are a few piles of cash, dyed red. On the floor, her two pets sprawled out and utterly unconscious beside herself a scant few feet from the foot of her bed. Her mallet's not far. The revolver on her nightstand.

The clown herself has a small travel sewing kit in front of her, along with a handful of tranq darts and a Zippo lighter, although her attention seems to be wholly upon trying to keep a checkered dishcloth against the deep wound in her shoulder. She's had better nights.

Need a Hand? Usually a 'how much are you paying?' is fired back. Some sucker aspect of Taskmaster regrets not firing off his usual response but instead he just sends back a skullemoji and a thumbs up.

Nothing asked the man shows up in his tactical attire, a combat vest under a hoodie, his skull mask that looks partial cloth, deep navy combat fatigues, boots, a long knife strapped across his lower back and a couple hidden firearms.

A peer in through the door crack and he lancs around, letting his eyes adapt before he steps in to see Harley looking like she was just in one of his favorite music videos, just less dancing and loud noises.

"You look like a tragedy." The growling voice of Taskmaster teases, despite it's hoarse sound it's got a timber of humor she'll know, or expect. A constant patronizing and quick to be an ass typical for the mercenary.

"Yer one to talk, Skullface," comes the weary reply as Quinn turns her face towards the door, her pained expression contorting to allow a tight smile. "At least I got the excuse of some maniac wakin' me up in the middle of the night."

Then, after a pause, she rolls her eyes behind her scraggly curtain of blonde hair - also matted in places with blood - and chuckles. "Alright, fair point," she allows, even though he didn't counter back. "I guess we got even circumstances." What with her being a maniac, and also with waking him up in the middle of the night.

"How's yer home ec skills, Tee? I need a stitch or two, and I think this got through to the other side."

"I look beautiful today." He responds curtly, the mouth of his skull mask ever mocking with it's rictus filled with white teeth.

"Whose blood?" He inquires, stepping around the pets to drop himself on the edge of the bed, hands finding his knees.

"You should be used to maniacs waking you up in the middle of the night by now. If it ain't me drunk dialing you… "

A look down at the ground, at some of the damage around it and the story of implied violence that may have went down.

"Scootch closer, I gotcha. Field stitchings are a speciality. Like everything else. Who is the idiot and do we wanna go find 'em and blow their kneecaps out? No fee on this. Looks bad on us if we can get rolled up on like this. Unless uh… " He nods at her boys, "They up an' made a meal of it already?"

Quinn looks to the floor and then grimaces as she gets her attention drawn to it. "I think it's all mine," she admits slowly, the feel of the words in her mouth altogether unpleasant. "Asshole got the drop on me and the Babies when we were sleepin'. Don't know who it was. Some bozo lookin' for the Ex."

Obediently, she edges towards the mercenary and then winces as she pulls the towel down. "It just won't stop bleedin'," she confesses as she looks down at the gaping hole in her shirt. There's another wince as she stretches the collar of her shirt out to bare her shoulder.

"Took down the Boys before they could even get a bite in. I think they'll be okay. There's a vial the douchebag left that he said would wake 'em up, but I don't trust it."

"Slackin', clowny." Taskmaster chides and reaches down to his side, opening a forward portion of his LBV, the fingerless tips of his gloves make it easy to fish out gauze, wire a needle. One leg drawn up so she can get in closer, his spare hand rising up to grasp his mask pushing it up his head so he can actually see, the hood of his sweater keeping low over his features.
"Leave a name or calling card?" He inquires while something lights up behind her, a quick burn applied to metal, a familiar scent. "Cleaned this yet?" He asks first, out of order. Maybe distracted or just that forgetful.

"Throw it the fuck out. We can wake 'em."

"Just take the shirt off, I seen the goods before." He remarks standing up from behind her to rummage for a bottle of alcohol OR actual medical suggested fluids, that’s an idea too.
"He was after your ex, not Boomerang?"

"Well, I suppose that's both of 'em now," Quinn bitterly admits, voice low as her head drops, "But, yeah. Was definitely the Ex. Mistah J." After another wince, she carefully works the shirt free. And, even though he may have seen everything before, she still drapes the rag over herself protectively as she hunches forward.

"I ain't cleaned it yet, no. There may be some rubbin' alcohol under the sink." Harley rubs at her eyes with her clean arm, and then she sighs. "An' all I got on the guy was that he's got a hell of a grudge, and he left the impression that I ain't completely off his list before he went divin’ back out the window. Some stupid red helmet kinda killed the idea of me makin' an ID on him."

"Both what? Stick flinger is an ex, now? Shit, where have I been?" Taskmaster remarks returning to settle in behind her, clinical in his approach about this he doesn't grief her about her covering herself. Even a sassy demented clown gets to be bashful when she wants to be.

"Lean forward an… " The rubbing alcohol is poured over the wound, then dabbed around with a clean cloth, anywhere else around it as well before he sits back, waiting a moment for some of it to dry and clear so he can begin with the needle and stitching.

"Nothing stand out about him we can trail up on? Cause, dollface, no one does this to SKWAD. They'll think we're weak and can pick at us individually, whether they know we're crew or not."
"Red helmet, that it? Not much to go offa. Lotsa bozos wear red helmets."

"New development," Harley offers as her only additional commentary about Boomerang. And, leaning forward, there's an audible, forceful, and altogether pained exhale as the alcohol starts pouring over the open wound that seems to go through. Smaller on the back at least.

Once she trusts her voice enough, she continues. "Nothin'. Red helmet with a faceplate. Came in with smoke bombs and swung out like a Bat. But gun and knife, so… not a Bat? Other than that? Nothin'. I mean, I guess at least it's not a Skwad thing? Just the past life bein' a pain. I don't think it reflects on you. S'all me."

A pause, and then a sharp sniff through one of the stitches. "Not that I don't appreciate the sentiment."

"At least it didn't hit anything important." Taskmaster remarks before he begins the more painful part of this, heated metal piercing tender already wounded flesh and drawing together, at least he's deft, steady handed and apparently knows well what he's doing. He’s watched enough to be more than just a bit competent.

"We'll look in to it. Grapnel gun, maybe? Not common and not as easy to use as people pretend and to get jump on you, maybe some skill. I will run a wire out, see what I can dredge up."

"Nah, that's a plus, no skwaddie shit this time around, just your old baggage." Taskmaster’s other hand braces lower on her back to keep her in place and himself as he focuses down his handiwork.

"Take it where you can. I'll forget later." He advises with a half-grin.

"If I'm lucky," Harley says quietly, although she doesn't really mean it. She's not about to wish someone's handicap any worse than it already is, and she appreciates the team mentality more than she really has words for. "But thanks," she says, knowing that it's not really sufficient. But that's all she's got in the reservoir to offer him.

Another wince, another clench of her teeth, and then the blonde falls quiet so that she can make a fabulous show of not being impacted by the stitchwork ahead. I mean, it's bad enough to hear a clown cry. Only a few want to hear her scream.

Taskmaster is rather merciless throughout the stitch job, no kindness in his intent upon sewing her up and making sure he's done a nice job. Once finished he's cleaning his hands, tossing the remnants aside and moving back over to study how well or horribly he has managed.
A different bottle in his grasp, it is uncapped and extended, "Good for what ails you, just be mindful of more blood loss, just a few slugs." As a precaution he checks to make sure her boys still breath, they do, likely they'll stir eventually.

"Lucky, right."

Harley does her best to stay still during the process, although the front work sees her pointedly turning her head towards the other shoulder and away from the gruesome task of setting the edges of flesh back to a place of meeting.

Considering the horrible lighting available in the rathole apartment, anything remotely professional-looking should be considered a damned impressive job.

She kicks the money, probably thousands of dollars worth and entirely ruined by the explosion of the bank-placed dye packs, out of her way as best she can. She then takes up the bottle, lifts it in a grateful and silent toast, and then sips a few pulls from the bottle before recapping it with her better side. Easing herself back down onto the mattress to lie there in a ball, she pulls the ruined sheets up and tosses the ruined shirt down.

As Taskmaster then checks on Bud and Lou where they still slumber on the floor, he’ll find tongues lolling out of their mouths and pools of drool under their snouts. Chests rising and falling as they still are breathing without labor.

But Quinn just looks anxiously towards him, head at the foot and feet near her pillow, on her good side. "They're gonna be alright, yeah?"

Taskmaster kicks the shirt and crispy bills away from her bed off to the side while the hyenas slumber. He could use a ammonia inhalant tablet on them but their sleep, it's some measure of peace for him. That bottle is hefted up, cradled in his own arm.

"They're fine." He says, though, his certainty is limited. "Still beastly and loaded with halitosis."

The springs bounce and creak as he sits back down, his legs beside her rumpled up pillow and ball curled form. A gloved hand nudging ruined blanket higher upon her shoulders. The other used to have himself a swig of that booze.

"Your usual mess of a self is one of my happy places. This makes some part of me… angry." He admits but leaves it at that mask pulled back down after his draw.

As he pulls the blanket up higher, Quinn drinks in the rare tenderness of the gesture. She closes her eyes and then looses a slow exhale.

But what he says draws those blue eyes back open, and she shoves a smile back up onto her lips for his benefit. “Aww, it’s gonna be alright, Tasky!” The brightness in her tone is lackluster, but the attempt is there.

“Ya got me all closed up, me an’ the Babies are gonna jes’ take a little nap, and—by the time the sun’s up—we’re gonna be shinier ‘n a new squeaky nose.” Her knee moves, nudging against Taskmaster’s hip. “But if that’s gonna make punching a hole in this guy feel better? Heeey, I ain’t gonna stop ya. The freak show wrecked my stuff. But… But ya don’t gotta. Yanno?”

There’s a pause, and then Harley lets her gaze fall to the small expanse of comforter between them. “So, um.” A longer pause comes, awkward, as her mouth pulls up into a pucker to one side. “I… I got somethin’ else I should prolly letcha know.”

"Probably should wrap something clean around those." Taskmaster advises. "Should be all right for time being."

The mercenary and part-time supervillain didn't realize nor consider he had been showing anyone kindness right now, autopilot sort of thing and likely some remnant of his once upon a time self, supergoody SHIELD Agent 'redacted'.

"I'll schedule a visit in with this red helmet jobber. Pro bono."

The nudge to his hip distracts from thoughts of what is likely his schedule, "Shoot." He encourages dropping back on to his elbows so his legs are off the bed but the rest of him is reclined - propped at the torso beside her.

"I got nothing better to be doing right now then shootin' the shit and making sure you're all stapled together all pretty like again. Maybe I should run a back to school special. Get some classes back in session."

But it is a kindness, isn't it? To not leave her bleeding and alone. To tuck her in. To offer retribution, free of charge. Not everyone views the world the same way, but for the blonde? That's kindness and she pays it in kind, in the way she knows how.

"Mistah J went after B." The words are quiet, but it's not guilt that keeps them that way. It's something else, percolating in the dark of her. "And that's after He messed with me a bit." To put it lightly. That messing took her the better part of a month to recover.

"He… Well, He's up to somethin'. I don't know if he's just still feelin' bubbly after we shook up his plan fer that school, or what. I jes'… I want ya to watch yer amusement park's back gate, if ya catch me? I didn't wanna say nothin' because… well, because I didn't. But there ya go," she concludes, curling her knees up a little tighter. "Now ya know."

"I assume whenever that clown pops up on the radar he is up to somethin'." Taskmaster looks over at her. A hand reaching out to shove at her knees in an almost playful manner. "I tend to fly under that kook's radar. He's a nut with a taste for bat, not boneheads like myself. This your way of trying to worry about me? Mad adorable."

"I can handle myself and then some." That drift to overconfidence shining forth, what can be expected of someone who calls themself 'The Taskmaster'.

The bottle he has been cradling uncapped and chugged at with a loud noise from the man, half a groan of displeasure while also odd enjoyment. "If he shows up, we deal with him too. I figure he makes for a good distraction though, red flags just pop up when that fuckin' whackadoo starts his games."

A little overconfidence sounds like music right now to Harley's ears, and she relaxes a little when Taskmaster doesn't immediately start packing himself up to go. She's surprised, perhaps, by just how much she was preparing herself for that eventuality. "Okay," she says, closing her eyes and exhaling the bottom of a breath she didn't know she'd been partly holding.

When those blue eyes reopen, there's teasing in the corners of her mouth. "But I'm always adorable," she quips, her grating accent thickening for it. "It's jes' part of my timeless charm, and doncha ferget it."

"I figured your charm was them colorful pigtails and bangin' bod."

"Don'tcha ferget it." The man mimics her voice, not just a mockery of but a complete and perfect copy of it. Eerie coming out of the big man. "Can't promise that fergit thing." Taskmaster replies voice normalized while he rolls the bottle around before him, staring at the contents as they slosh back and forth.

"I'll linger until your boys wake up and you've got some company."

It may be an eerie sound to most, but to Quinn? It's funny, and her laughter bubbles out - hesitant at first, but growing strength as the ridiculousness of it strikes her just so. It dies down, though, before it really starts rolling. Instead, Harley nestles a little deeper into her once colorfully printed comforter, now stained with darkening blood spots and the dye from the cash that she didn't really ask for.

"That sounds perfect," she tells him, her eyes closing again. "'m jes' gonna close my eyes fer a minute. Is that okay?” And then, as though he’d deny her, she repeats herself emphatically without cracking open her gaze. “Jes' a minute. But if they start wakin' up, you can jes' shove me up. They were on the attack when they went down. I don't want 'em unpausin' that track and tryin' to take a bite outta ya."

There's a beat, and then? "Yer the best, Tee."

"You know it." Taskmaster looks over at her, amused and equally unsurprised she found that hilarious, "Unless I gotta remind you again." A swish and a long drink again that bottle is set aside. The rest saved for her.

"They'll be fine. Bud likes me good enough. Lou… well, we gotta have a chat man-to-man one of these days. Hyena piss is a real bitch to get ridda."

"I know, right? Ohhh, the stories I could tell ya about that…"

But then the stories never really come, because Harley does just what she said she would. Now that her eyes are closed, sleep isn’t far behind and she trails off. The light morning will come soon enough, but for right now? She'll take of the dark what she can get.

At least the one broken window lets in the early morning breeze, setting her homemade striped curtains to a soft rippling.

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