This is a Horrible Idea

November 01, 2018:

The darkness of the night sky above Gotham is once again pierced by a beacon, calling not for justice but a second chance.

East End - Gotham

A mostly abandoned apartment building in a seedy part of Gotham, well an even more seedy part.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: The Joker, Poison Ivy

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

It's been a few days since the anniversary of their breakup. Days that Owen has spent steadfastly not slipping back down one slippery slope, only to find himself entirely falling down another. The tape she made him has been on near non-stop repeat. It turns out that walkman's can hold up pretty well through jogging, drinking, fighting demons, manly crying, and quite a few other activities. All of that to say that Owen hasn't been able to get Harley off his mind.

Which brings us to tonight. A cold, rainy, miserable night in Gotham. The sky is dark by the early hour of seven these days and as soon as dusk falls something illuminates the night sky. The clouds light up, not with a call for justice. Oh no. That's no bat symbol lighting the night over the rotting city. No, that is a face of sorts, with red diamonds for eyes, red lips and red and blue pigtails.

Because holding a stereo above your head outside her window is too eighties.

And Owen is of course the one operating said signal. Dressed in his usual fall gears of thermal shirt and tattered quilted vest, his knit hat soaked on his head. He stands in the rain on the building, smoking and occasionally taking a gulp from an insulated thermos of coffee and whiskey.

"C'mon Harl, please don't tell me I did all this for nothing…"

Two hours in… no sign of her yet.

*

Harley, for what it's worth, is not used to being summoned by spotlights. To keep herself busy, she's alternated roller skating down the streets under hyena power (because, seriously, that doesn't get old) and sewing new things to wear from pieces that she's salvaged from thrift shops.

She's been downright abhorrent to everyone in the Skwad's common space—dominating the television and threatening to slice open anyone that interrupts her gaming time on the Atari she found. She's been doing art projects in the living room. She's MADE the common room an art project. The whole place smells of paint, rubber cement, fixative, and cleaning supplies.

But eventually, she does go to stare out the window and… And there it is. Quinn narrows her eyes, tilts her head, and tries to remember if they added hallucinations to her list of symptoms the last time they dragged her into a psychiatrist. She's pretty sure they didn't. She's also pretty sure that means it's really there. And she's fascinated by that.

So she pulls on a pair of shiny red rain boots, her thick wool peacoat, and grabs her red ruffled umbrella to go investigate.

She eventually makes it to the source. And then she stares at it for a bit more from the ground. "Whoever's up there better be ready to get his ass kicked! Or her ass! 'Cuz I don't care about punching a girl. Because I am a girl. So really, that just means that if I punch a girl, I got a fifty fifty shot of bein' arrested again or a YouTube video hero. Not ta mention, it's kinda sexist, doncha think, if I say a girl can't take a hit? I mean, I know. Yer not really supposed to say girl anymore. But it just sounds weird when you say that you don't care about punchin' a gal, yanno? Like, there's an expected turn of phrase, and that ain't it. Anywho, let's turn off the light, because I think yer infringin' on my copyright. I worked hard for this killer image! Can't have ya' stealin' it to advertise fer… whatever it is that yer advertising' for." A pause. "Are you advertisin' fer somethin'?"

*

An umbrella. How did he manage to drag all this gear here and not remember an umbrella. Owen considers taking a break to go find one of those guys selling them on the street for a few bucks. But then he hears a sweet, soft voice … well, he hears a loud, cloying one anyway but somehow it sounds sweet. The dope.

*THUNK*

The light is shut off and Owen's voice calls down to the street, "Yer gonna have to come up here if you want to kick my ass Quinn. Or at least try."

It really would have been easier if he just had her cell phone number. But somehow that prank war got out of hand and then phones were lost, numbers changed. But she's here now. Owen tries to relax, play it casual. As if he didn't just spend a ton of time designing and building a Harley-Signal.

*

There's a long, long pause.

Below, perhaps unseen under the ruffled edge of her rain gear, Harley's face screws up in confusion. "B?! Is that you? Because I definitely know that you know that I can kick yer ass." Not that she actually knows that she can. But she believes that it's possible, even against a cheating speedster, and that's worth a whole lot!

"And if that ain't you, B, then you're in for a world of hurt if I get up there before yer gone. Ya just had to go and make it a rep thing, and I've been itchin' to make someone need stitchin'." Her tongue curls around one of her canine and she sucks loudly as she thinks.

Closing her umbrella, she considers its hooked handle and then the base of the fire escape. She probably can't use it to support her weight, but she can probably use it to pull the ladders down. And so it is that Harleen Quinzel moves forward to start making what is possibly one of the slowest and most cautious climbs up the slippery fire escape in the history of ever.

*

Leaning back against the door that leads down into the building, Owen smiles as she threatens to kicks his ass. Boy has he missed that. He finishes off his latest cigarette and grinds it out as he hears the ladder slide down on the fire escape. He listens, confused by the slow speed of the approach. It's not like Harley to not rush into anything, so it throws him off. Is she hurt?

He makes his way over to the roof and peers over the side quickly, just in case anything gets flung at his head.

"You takin' the long way round?"

*

It's a good thing he knows to dodge, because a terra cotta pot with a dead dwarf sunflower in it shatters against the railing as she hook swings it up. "My bad! Didn't know ya were in such a hurry ta die!" She does pick up the pace a little bit, however, her rubber boots squeaking audibly against the painted steel.

By the time she gets to the roof, however, she's soaked to the bone except for under that dense coat of hers. Her mascara, still on her lashes from yesterday, smears down her cheeks and makes her look like a raccoon. Her eyeshadow's smearing, too.

But gone are the pink and blue tips of her hair. She got it trimmed, and now there's nothing but immaculate honey blonde to hang about her features. She hugs herself awkwardly, and then remembers the umbrella. She reopens it, and then lifts it up. "What d'ya want? Ya can't have the boxing glove gun back. I licked it. It's mine now."

*

The shards of pot and dirt rain over Owen as he ducks back down. He laughs and brushes it off his shoulders and hat. He makes sure to back off from the edge of the roof in case Harley is serious about kicking his ass.

Taking her in, soaking wet, makeup smeared and running. Owen smiles and can't help but say, "Drowned rat really ain't yer best look is it?" Which is not what he imagined starting with. Though he tries to rally with, "But damn if you don't make it work."

"I don't want the boxing glove gun, Harley. I don't want the tape." He knows that doesn't sound great, but he still hesitates just long enough before confessing. "I want you, Harley. I tried comin' round the Arms a few weeks ago, Ivy ran me off. I started that whole prank war- which was awesome by the way, because I wanted to talk to you."

Cautiously he takes a step towards her, his hands out as if feeling the need to show her he's unarmed.

"I miss you."

*

There are several things that Harley was expecting to hear, and none of them are coming out of Owen Mercer's mouth. He tells her she looks like a drowned rat.

She probably does, so she won't kill him for that. Not today, anyway. Especially after he tries to make a comeback from the failure. Her eyes narrow suspiciously. But she doesn't, more suspiciously, interrupt.

He tells her that Ivy tried to protect her from him. She knows without a doubt, that's what happened, upon hearing the retelling of what was behind probably a month of silence. Explains, perhaps, some of the conversation with her.

He tells her that he… actually got a kick out of the prank war? The one that she was so sure he hated her for and remembered why it was that he broke up her in the first place.

What he says doesn't fit the narrative she's told herself over the harrowing past three months, and the harlequin isn't sure what to do with it. Her smile is gone by the time he takes his step forward, when he shows there's nothing in his hands that she should be fearing. While she stands her ground, her head cocks very deeply to one side. Then her eyes squeeze tight and her right hand comes up to grab a fist of her own blonde locks at the crown to pull it forward and force her own face down a degree. "I… "

The words stop there, but her heel starts bobbing. She bites at her lower lip, licks at the upper one in her anxiety. "Ya don't gotta say those things," she tells him at last. "I ain't really gonna kill ya."

*

Well she's not yelling. That's good. Or smashing him in the face with something. That also is good. Owen takes these small details as a positive that maybe he doesn't have to see how fast he can run down a fire escape in the rain. He takes another step closer to her, leaving just a foot or two between them now.

"I know I ain't gotta say it. Harley, I'm here. I built that- also awesome signal, because I miss you. And I can't stop thinkin' about how I fucked it up." He finally reaches out to touch her. Slowly reaching to put a finger under her chin so he can try to look in her eyes as he says it.

"You ain't gonna tell me you made that tape cause you don't think about me?"

Please don't tell me that. Owen has a mild bit of panic that this stupid big gesture was a terrible idea, and that he totally misread the gesture.

*

When Harley sees that finger from the corner of her eye, she flinches before it makes contact. But she ultimately drops her hand out of her hair and allows the touch, and there is no small amount of shame, uncertainty, and other dark thoughts that hide in her expression under that umbrella.

"No, I ain't gonna tell ya that."

The fingers of her empty hand come up to curl and twitch at shoulder height before she gingerly sets their cool pads upon Owen's breast, and then she presses a little closer so she can reach her lips near Owen's ear. "We could… We could sneak inside if ya want. No one'll ever know ya were here."

*

The uncertainty of his movements and his words is definitely out of place for Owen. He's usually all swagger and obnoxious words but finds himself here treading carefully, like he might spook her off or trip some wire and cause something to explode.

Her hand on his chest and her voice in his ear causes him to smile. He leans his forehead down to touch against her before he answers back, "I'd like that."

And the conflict in him of knowing that this isn't what could be considered a good idea alongside his desire for someone in his life to choose him continue their battle. But he pushes those thoughts away again and moves to the door. It's locked of course but speed picking a lock is just one of the many skills Owen has acquired in his life. He does it as quickly as possible, glancing back as if expecting Harley to run for it if it takes more than a few seconds.

*

This is a horrible idea. This is a legitimately terrible, horrible idea.

Which, of course, is why Owen Mercer is right on it. But Harley isn't thinking about that. She's only thinking about the fact that he agreed and that he's pulling away to start picking the lock.

She should send him packing. If Harley Quinn was a decent human being, that's what she'd do.

But she's not.

So she just laughs instead, the surprisingly quiet sound at once anxious and giddy as she moves to close the distance without hurrying. To cover him with the umbrella as he works if she gets there while he's still working.

*

The lock clicks and Owen shoves it open and then pulls Harley to him to usher her inside. The Harley-Signal, his coffee, the umbrella that gets jammed in the door on the way in? Doesn't matter. What matters is that she's laughing and know he's pulling her close and kissing her, almost toppling down the stairs.

"You were right. I shoulda told you 'bout the drugs. About all of it."

He breaks from the embrace long enough to make another confession, though with each moment, he's getting less tenuous and more sure of himself. It's a familiar excitement. That thought gets pushed back down. This isn't the same thing! It's not like that. He's not using. The coke the other day was just a slipup. He's back on track. And this? This is totally different.

In his excitement he jumps down the next few steps to the landing and glances up at her with a smile before vaulting over the railing to the landing the floor below.

"C'mon, Quinn. Keep up!"

*

As Owen goes through the door, Harley hesitates. She should tell him. She should tell him.

No, she should just send him away. Stick to the plan to keep him far away.

Except that he's pulling her close. And he's kissing her. The clown has felt like such a pariah for the last three months, and Owen feels like the first touch of solid ground that her feet have found since. He's kissing her and not a beat later, she's reaching her hand to cup his cheek. Except that he's out of reach again in the next breath, and she almost falls forward trying to follow him.

Of course, she must play to the gag now, and she leans hard onto the rail so that she can balance the length of her body upon it at a downward tilt. She slides down the rail, nearly until the point that she'll spill herself onto the landing behind him and then stopping just short as she grips the metal with rubber-wrapped ankles. And she forgets herself in the joy of it. Her mouth cracks wide open in a grin as she cackles, and that dangerously mischievous spark grows stronger in her gaze.

"Oh, the things I'm gonna do to you, once I get my hands on you, Mercer…" she promises, her laughter growing low and dark.

Once is alright. This is just once. No one will know but them.

*

How long has it been since he's just felt good? It's almost like he just accepted that his life would be a constant stream of gray, constantly about not giving in and getting high. But now he realizes just how little happiness he's actually seen in the last few months. Sure the demon invasion of New York isn't exactly doing wonders for his social life but hard to complain considering he's still alive.

But this? This is something else altogether.

He laughs in turn as she slides down the railing. And as much as he looks foward to being caught, the sheer joy of just enjoying the flirting floods through him. Tonight won't be another sorry night in. Tonight he won't find himself throwing all the blankets on the floor and sleeping on them, or worse resorting to sleeping in the closet again. Weird old sleeping habits of childhood created to cope with the shitty situations. He's never talked about it to anyone, barely recognizes it as abnormal, but tonight? Tonight he doesn't have to think about those things.

And so Owen tries doors now. Most of this place is abandoned, some have people squatting, though those are usually easy to tell because they have thick extension cords running into them.

He finds a door unlocked and swings it open, turning and backing his way inside making a 'come here' motion with his finger. He's pulling at the soaking wet hat on his head, flinging that aside.

*

Harley's tongue again snakes out, this time to visibly curl around her front teeth. She rolls off the railing dramatically, not really ever at any risk until her still-troublesome shoulder - the one that has slowly progressed from braces to simply being checked out on missions together in the six months since Quinn got herself perforated - stretches a bit too far and it sends pins and needles racing down her arm.

And still, all she has is laughter. In fact, it makes her laugh harder as she gets her feet under her on the stairs and then launches herself headlong in his direction.

He's here tonight, and tomorrow will be something else. She doesn't have to wonder whether she's going to just wake up alone in her bed or die alone in it, in a pool of her own blood for what she messed up in New York. She won't have to be up at 2am pondering which is actually worse.

She isn't patient now, and she wants to be lost in Owen. And so she breathlessly moves to kiss him, to shove him against the wall.

The world can burn tonight for all Harley Quinn cares.

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