The clock ticked on the wall, a hollow, empty sounding tick. At this moment, it was the only audible sound in the room, or at least, the only thing the young blonde woman cared to listen to at the moment. Her ears were tuned into that, ignoring the flurry of talking and footsteps going on around her. Though her eyes were focused on a magazine in her lap, she was not reading it. Her eyes only scanned the page, before she turned it. The expression on her face was blank, and hollow, not interested in the magazine, or any of her surroundings.
Yet there was a slight, nervous glimmer in her eyes. One that would take a second glance to notice.
The sound of a door opening and closing was what caused her to look up. A teenage girl was being led down the hallway by a woman in scrubs, the girl looking almost distraught, and to the point of tears. She was trembling, almost, and her talking almost only sounded like blubbering to the woman in the waiting room.
"I-I-I'm s-sor-sorry." she was saying, as the lady in scrubs continued to lead her down the hall. "I couldn't-I c-I just, saw it, and-"
"It's fine, honey. It's fine. Next time just be sure, okay?" Both individuals disappeared behind a corner. The blonde woman had watched them leave, and looked away, biting at her lip. Her expression morphed into that of an uneasy one, yet she maintained some of the emptiness. She looked back down at her magazine, just long enough to hear another door open. She didn't look up this time, at least, until a voice called out.
Her magazine hit her lap.
Her eyes darted upwards to see an older woman standing at the edge of the hallway, holding a clipboard. Though she smiled, the younger woman did not return the smile. She instead released a shaky breath. She moved to putting the magazine down on the coffee table in front of her, and released another shaky breath as she got up.
"Right this way, Ms. Quinzel."
Her heels clicked against the floor as she followed the woman down the hallway. They passed several doors, paintings, and potted flowers before reaching a room at the end of the hall. The woman opened and allowed Harleen to walk in first.
"If you'll wait right here, I just have some paperwork I need to get. It won't take long." She gave a nod, and wobbly smile back at the nurse. The door clicked shut, leaving her alone in the small, white room. Her eyes scanned it, before landing on the examination table. Walking over, she ran her hand on the sheet covered it before pushing herself up onto it, then clasped her hands in her lap.
Not a second later, however, she had moved her hands to her face, covering it as her body shuddered.
"It's for the best...it's for the best, you have to do this..."
Something within her stirred, and she found herself letting one hand drop, and slowly press against her abdomen. An emotion...she felt, an emotion somewhere...guilt, sorrow...she didn't know what. But she pushed it back, pulling her hand back immediately as the door opened and the nurse with the clipboard was coming back in.
Harley twirled in front of the mirror, holding the red dress she'd pulled from the closet in front of her. Her expression could almost be matched to that of a kid's in a toy store, and the dress was the new toy that she been waiting all week to finally purchase. Only difference in this case, however, was the fact that she wasn't paying for this dress, whereas that kid would probably have their parents buying them the toy.
It wasn't like she couldn't afford stuff like this, it's just buying things were less fun. Plus on top of that, she needed something to occupy herself with. This hadn't been the first dress she'd pulled from the nearby closet, as evidenced by the dozens of hangers and crumpled heaps of fabric on the floor and bed.
Said-reason for occupying herself could be explained by the noises coming from the next room over. Several smacks, followed by a grunt, and a short laugh. Following that short laugh was a raspy, almost purring voice, that could be heard taunting whoever the poor individual grunting was.
Poor individual, so to speak, was just another typical client who had refused to pay up, by the name of Martin Pendergast. He didn't seem like the type who'd be associating with someone like the likes of the Joker, but apparently he'd thought this was only going to be a one time transaction.
How wrong he'd been, maybe he should have thought twice. It didn't help the man was a newcomer to Gotham. Maybe he hadn't gotten the memo that the clown prince wasn't someone you wanted on your Facebook friend's list.
What a shame it was, her and Mr. J basically interrupting that man's date night with his wife. Harley had only guessed it was a date night because of the large bouquet of roses the man had with him when he had come into the bedroom to find his wife tied up and knocked out on the bed. Had he not showed up any sooner, worse things might have happened to her. In the past, Joker had been more than okay with getting his point across by harming loved ones to any specific client.
It was a shame, really. They'd been giving the guy at least another five minutes, and if he hadn't showed up, it would have been Harley's job to make sure he had a nice surprise waiting for him when he finally came back. Regardless, the look on his face had still been priceless.
So now the poor man was in the other room getting who knows what done to him, while Harley raided his wife's closet. She would have loved to have been standing in there by her puddin's side, but he'd insisted on settling it privately. Not even her pouting had worked, so she'd decided to find herself an outfit for their own date night in the process.
Probably their first date night since she'd gotten out of Belle Reve, now that she thought about it. She hadn't been counting, and she wasn't sure if she'd count their escapades in the bedroom as an official date night...but it felt good to be walking around freely again, and especially getting to pick her own clothes out. Those prison clothes had been absolutely tacky, though she'd tried to make them work, honestly.
She pursed her lips together, holding the red fabric against her leg. No, no this one wasn't doing it. What was this, the eighteenth dress she'd pulled out? Her gaze went over to the now-conscious woman on the bed, who had been watching in petrified silence.
"Geez, for being rich you sure have a crap taste in clothes, lady." Harley chided her before throwing the dress onto the bed, directly onto the woman to be exact, and moving over to the closet to snoop around some more. A rather loud smack from the next room caused her to look over, but her attention went directly back to the closet, and she gasped in delight, pulling out a cocktail dress with gold sequins.
"So you do have a good taste in clothes, I'm impressed!" she chirped, looking back at the woman on the bed. "Hey, you don't mind if I uh, borrow this one do you?"
At first it looked like the woman protested, but because of her gag she only managed to let out a muffled blubber. Harley took this as her answer and just shrugged, throwing the dress over her shoulder. As she headed across to the bathroom to get changed, she stopped by the bedroom door, hesitating. She almost bit on her lip, but instead reached over and knocked.
A sigh sounded outside and a "one moment please" from Joker, before he'd opened the door and peered in at her, scowling.
"What?" he snapped.
His tone made Harley pout, though this was typical.
"Ya don't have to snap at me, puddin'."
"Well it's kinda hard not to snap when you keep being a nag." The last words carried a bit of bitterness in them, and judging by the blood on his clothes, she had evidently interrupted something important. She crossed her arms, pulling the dress into them in the process.
"I'm only being a nag cuz you're takin' so long, aren't you any closer to bein' done?"
Another annoyed sigh emerged from the Joker and he pinched the bridge of his nose, leaning against the door for support. He played a smile on his face however, an annoyed one albeit, and moved his hand down the door.
"I could be closer to being done if you weren't currently interrupting me!" he said, his grill almost grinding upon the remainder of what was his lower jaw. This only caused Harley's pout to grow wider, and she leaned against the door. She said nothing, only giving off a childish whimper. Joker almost rolled his eyes, but moved his hand from the door, grabbing her chin just slightly, cupping it in his hand.
"Look baby, it's not my fault this guy is being a tightwad. Why don't you make yourself look pretty and give Daddy a little more time, yeah?" he asked, putting a slight pout on his own face, albeit it was probably a fake one to gain sympathy. Harley blew out a sigh, but only to blow back a piece of hair that had fallen into her viewpoint.
"Fine. I wanna raid the jewelry boxes anyways."
Joker grinned back at her and gave her a small pat on the face before shutting the door. Not soon after did his loud voice fill the entire penthouse again as Harley could hear words of panic coming from their friend. She snorted, and spared a teasing glance back at the bound woman on the bed. The woman's gaze was fixated on the door, as she appeared to be nervously listening to what was transpiring.
She jumped at the sound of Joker's loud voice and turned to look at Harley as she pushed open the bathroom door. Had her mouth not been bound, she would have no doubt asked what was going on, though her eyes did most of the asking.
Harley returned the woman's nervous gaze with her own teasing grin, and shrugged. She almost wanted to give a full response, but she figured staying silent might unease the woman even more. And that did seem to be case, as the woman's eyes only became more misty and frightened as she looked back at the door.
Shaking her head, Harley resumed in opening the bathroom door and entered. Her hand searched the cold ceramic that was the wall before she found the lightswitch, and flipped it on. Soon, the clothes she had been previously wearing hit the floor and she slipped the smooth gold dress over her head. The skirt flounced above her knees, just barely, and she got a glance of herself in the mirror, cracking a smile.
"Oh Harley, you are looking good." she complimented herself. She noticed a tube of lipstick on the sink and picked it up, popping the cap off before applying a shade on her own lips. As she put the lipstick down, her hand shook, and she nearly dropped it into the sink instead of sitting it down. Her head spun for a moment, and she gripped at the white ceramic in a panic so she wouldn't fall over.
Taking deep breaths, she looked back up at herself in the mirror, a concerned look overtaking her previous expression of satisfaction. She could have sworn her vision had blurred for a moment, but thankfully it cleared, and she relaxed. Though she tried to convince herself it had just been a minor random spell, this hadn't been the first time this had happened this week.
She hadn't said anything to Joker, especially since she hadn't been out of Belle Reve that long. They had so much to catch up and so much to do, she couldn't afford to not be feeling well. She needed to be at his side in case her influences were a necessity.
Which tonight was obviously not one of those cases.
In the living room, Joker was circling his unfortunate client as the man continued to make excuse after excuse for not having the money on time. He watched the man with a steel expression, clearly not buying any of what the man was saying. He halted in front of him, but did nothing just yet.
The man coughed blood, spitting it out onto the floor before attempting to speak.
"I-I swear, I swear I had the cash. I still have it!" Desperation was strong in his voice. "Just give me another chance, J, I promise I'll drop it off next week-"
But he was cut off, as Joker leaned forward and pressed a finger against the man's lips, making a shushing noise with his own.
"Ah ah, wrong answer. You're supposed to have that money now." He moved his finger, down to where he'd put a nice bruise on the man's jaw, and pressed it, causing him to shift uneasily and squirm in his seat. He turned his finger, now pressing his fingernail into the man's skin.
"Look, Martin, I like you. You're a nice guy." Blood began trickling out. "But tell me how I'm supposed to trust you, when you can't even do the favor of giving me my damn money on time. I don't accept rainchecks, lest you forget I'm not that lenient."
He stepped back, now leaving a nice trail of blood still trickling down the man's face.
"So, how's about you make this easier on yourself and just hand the dough over now, huh? Like a good boy would." He leaned against the coffee table, but was not planning on spending there long. He knew what Martin's answer would be and he was fully prepared to act.
Martin sputtered on the blood again, perturbed by the trickle on his face, and gulped.
"I-I can't. It's not-I mean-I just can't give it to you right now." He shuffled in his binds. "Just give me til next week, please!"
Though he had to admit the man's pleas were amusing, he wasn't in the mood to make bargains tonight. Tonight was supposed to be a date night for him and his queen, and he hadn't intended on being here so long. He'd hoped this idiot would be a little more cooperable, but that wasn't proving to be the case.
He sighed, pulling out his gun from where it was currently secured on his coat.
"I'm afraid that's not an option, sonny." he growled. His eyes darted about the small penthouse for a moment, before he chuckled and looked back at the nervous man.
"Now, I think your apartment looks a bit tacky. Let's spruce it up a bit, shall we?"
Poor Martin didn't even get a chance to plea again, as the gun then went off. The bullet straight through his head, blood splattering all over the white carpet beneath him. Harley walked out just in time to have a small drop of blood hit her foot, this only emitted a tiny gasp from her. Sure any normal person might have fainted at such a sight, but lest one would forget, this in it's own was perfectly normal for them.
She looked back at up at Joker.
"I'm takin' it he didn't have the money, then?" she inquired.
Joker lowered his gun, huffing a bit.
"Oh he had it, he was just being a selfish little bitch." He put the gun away, back in the confides of his coat. His eyes fixated on Harley, who had taken to adjusting a golding hoop earring on her left ear. Her reflection in the mirror, showing off the face he'd had to live without for several months. While most people would say they didn't mean to stare, he fully meant it.
Intentionally, perhaps, a purr rose up in his throat and he tilted his head back, his eyes scanning his queen in entirety. It'd been about a month since she'd been back, but part of him kept wondering if maybe this was all just a dream, and he'd lost the last bit of solidity that was still intact in his mind.
Harley was putting on the other earring now, taking a minute to pull her hair back out of the way. His hands gripped into fists, his nails digging into his palms deep enough to draw blood. Mild pain seared in his palms, blood dripping out between his fingers.
Pain was the only way he could tell this wasn't a dream, aside from other things. But he had to reassure himself.
Her voice brought him back from the trance he had suddenly found himself in. Harley had caught his gaze in the mirror, and was now looking back at him with an inquisitive expression. She gave a small smirk, raising an eyebrow.
"What? See somethin' ya like?" Her voice came off as teasing, but he gave no response. His gaze seemed so fixated, she almost became alarmed. The smirk disappeared and she walked over to him, her heels clicking against the floor. She stopped in front of him, reaching out tentatively to touch his face.
"What's eatin' ya, puddin'?"
Their eyes met, and he could see the concern in hers. His face remained sullen, as he reached up and placed his hand on her face, back towards her neck. Pulling her closer to him, until he could smell her scent. He was almost tempted to bury his face in her hair, to just savor the moment as it was, but found as he thought this, that he was already doing so. Despite the dead body behind them, it was almost textbook romantic scene what with the two of them with their heads pressed together.
"Don't leave me..." Harley moved her head back from where she'd leaned it against his, looking surprised at the words he'd just moaned. She searched his face, though his eyes were closed, and he leaned forward again, grabbing her by the waist. He gripped, tightly, and Harley bit her lip, reaching up now with both her hands to grab his face, and turn it to look up at her. His eyelids slowly opened, and looked down at her face.
"Don't let yourself get caught again, Harls...don't leave me. I just couldn't..." His voice was so low it was almost weird, even for him. He ducked his head. "I couldn't bear it."
Harley felt a pang of sorrow in her chest. The fourth time...the fourth time, he'd done that today. How many times he'd done that since she'd gotten back. He hadn't dared show this kind of emotion in front of the henchman, let alone Frost of all people, at least, to her knowledge. It was only when they were alone...or semi alone, counting the dead body of Martin Pendergast.
Squeezing his face with both her hands, which still cupped it despite his head being lowered, she leaned in and moved her arms across his shoulders. Tentatively, she whispered in his ear.
"I'm here, Mistah J. It's okay. I'm not going anywhere."
His hand moved to her back, up from the sequin-covered fabric of her dress to the bare skin of her back. He massaged it briefly before moving his hand back down, Harley jumping as she realized he was attempting to unzip her dress from the back. At this rate, he was all but nuzzling her like a baby cub, and though she had to admit it was cute, now was hardly the time to be partaking in these antics.
"Puddin'-" She giggled, pushing him back to her best ability. His hands almost pawed her like a cat but she managed to pry him off her, before readjusting her dress. He stepped back, blinking wildly like he'd once again gotten out of a trance, then pouted.
"Damnit, Harley. Damn you for coming in here like that." he grunted, smoothing his hair back into place. Not that it had been out of place, but it was an action out of paranoia. Harley gave a fake gasp of hurt as she looked back at him, having turned around briefly. But she didn't say anything, and only giggled at him. A high pitched little giggle, that she knew for a fact would always make him smile.
And it worked. Despite Joker rolling his eyes at her, she could see a smile twitching at his lips. He proceeded to walk over to where Martin's corpse was slumped, and knelt down, sifling through the man's pockets before standing up and clucking his tongue.
"Looks like his little spat about having the money on him was a fib, hm." He placed both hands on his knees, groaning a bit as he stood back up. He observed the man's corpse a moment more, tapping his chin in contemplation. His eyes moved to the bedroom door, then back the corpse. He grinned.
"Yeah?" She'd moved back to the mirror to apply more lipstick.
"I don't wanna leave this place empty handed, how about you?" Joker reached back into his coat, pulling his gun out. He twirled it about in his hand momentarily before speaking again. "How's about you pay this gentleman's grieving widow a visit and see if you can't...bargain with her?"
The grin on his face was soon matched by Harley's as she turned to face him.
The noise of the gunshot had filled the entire penthouse.
Evelyn Pendergast, the wife of the corpse now bleeding out in the living room, laid on the queen-sized bed that she and her husband once shared. Only, she knew, after hearing that gunshot ring out, that they wouldn't be sharing it anymore.
The bedroom door opened, slowly, and she looked over to see Harley entering. A devious smile was on her painted lips, as she slipped in, looking as if she were hiding something behind her back. Tauntingly, she walked over, looking over the woman's terrified form scrunching back on the bed. Upon approaching, she pulled out the object from behind her.
Instantly, Evelyn's eyes widened and she shrieked underneath her gag, scooting back even further. To further perturb her, Harley jumped onto the bed, sitting up on her knees, and aiming the gun right at the woman's head. Same spot as her husband.
"You heard that gunshot out there?" Evelyn nodded, though fearfully. Harley tipped her head.
"Well, now you just found out what happens when Mistah J doesn't get what he wants. " She pulled her finger against the trigger. "And he's gonna be veerryyy mad if he doesn't get what he wants tonight. So, if you don't wanna have your brains blasted against the wall like a Jackson Pollack painting-"
Harley slid down on the bed, onto her stomach, but before doing this, had pressed the barrel of the gun to the woman's forehead, who by now had closed her eyes and had tears streaming down her face.
"I suggest you cooperate. Would you be willin' to do that for me?"
Evelyn's eyes popped open, suddenly full of desperation, and she nodded quickly, her entire body almost trembling at this rate. Harley's smile moved to one side of her face, and she lowered the gun. Sitting up, she reached and pulled the gag out of the woman's mouth. She gave a long gasp of air, almost choking in the process. She looked at Harley with a shaky expression, but this stirred no sympathy within her.
"Please...I didn't know about the money, if I had-" Almost instantly, the woman had started to beg, but Harley only groaned and shook the gun in her face, causing her to shut up and fall back.
"Save it, bitch. Do I have to go get Mistah J or are you gonna tell me what I wanna hear?" she snarled. Evelyn only nodded. Almost instantly, Harley's smile was back and she slid off the bed, though kept the gun pointed at her.
"Atta girl! That wasn't so hard, was it?" she chirped. "Now...the money. You know that's what we're here for, where is it?"
But Evelyn didn't answer right away, she bit her lip and looked down, as if thinking on the manner. Harley waited, keeping the gun aimed at her just in case she needed to do anything drastic. Hopefully it wouldn't come to that, and she only said that because she didn't want any blood getting on her new dress.
"Well? I don't have all night, I'm supposed to be on a date right now!" she snapped.
"I know, I'm sorry-just-" Evelyn lowered her head, her voice breaking as she choked on tears. "I'm sorry, please, I need a moment..."
"You can have your moment after you tell me, now spill the beans." Harley put a hand on her hip, impatiently. "What, you're cryin' over your husband? Oh boohoo, if he wanted to live that badly he wouldn't have been so stingy. If ya ask me, it was his own fault."
After that remark, Evelyn looked like she all but wanted to pounce on Harley, but the restraints were either fortunately or unfortunately keeping her from doing so. She looked down, taking a deep breath, probably to calm herself. She looked back up.
"The money-it's um, it's in a safe, behind a family portrait on the wall." she said shakily. "The combination is 5693."
At this, Harley put her gun down, but quickly put it back up.
"And if you're lyin'?"
"You're just gonna have to trust me. Please." Evelyn looked at Harley with sad, desperate eyes. "That's where I saw him putting it, h-he said-said it was for emergencies. I didn't know what it was really for."
Honesty. Harley could detect honesty in her voice. Maybe it was because she'd been a psychiatrist in her previous years, but she was able to tell if someone was lying or not. Being around Mistah J had helped that ability to an extent, and it worked. It especially worked when a crooked businessman was trying to sell phony weapons, and in turn ended up getting his head blown off.
So this time, Harley lowered her gun for real. She gave a satisfied smirk and stuffed the gun in the purse she had snatched up from the small table underneath the mirror in the living room.
"Well, we're just gonna have to wait and see, aren't we?" she chirped merrily.
Assuming the deal was done, Harley turned on her heel and began to walk back to the living room where her puddin' was still waiting. He'd be happy that she got the job done, he always was. Not once...well, maybe at least once, she'd messed up, but at least she wouldn't end up like the any of the henchman...hopefully.
As her hand grabbed the doorknob to leave, she halted at hearing a short sentence being uttered behind her.
"Fuck you, bitch..."
Almost immediately she whirled around, facing Evelyn with a shocked expression.
"What did you just say to me?"
Now Evelyn was looking up at her with a stone expression, an emotionless one. She held her head up, staring back at the queen of Gotham in defiance.
"You heard me, I don't think I have to repeat myself." she said in a low voice. "Go, get your damn money. Go makeout with your boyfriend, I don't care. I just hope you two know you're responsible for ruining my life."
"Wouldn't be the first time someone's said that to us." Harley nonchalantly shrugged, but was taken aback as Evelyn's expression and tone shifted from blank to furious. Her eyebrows bent and her nostrils seemed to be flaring.
"No, fuck you! You literally ruined my life!" she yelled. "My husband is dead because of your boyfriend, and that's probably our life savings in that safe. You don't get to-to..."
Her voice broke down, and sobs began to escape her throat.
Harley could only stand in silence. She wanted to say something, to defend Joker and yell back, but somehow she didn't feel the strongest urge to. She only watched as Evelyn began to bitterly cry, her face now stained with tears. Another loud sob escaped her throat, as she threw her head back. Harley watched her, then her eyes darted to the alarm clock to see the time. 9:50.
With this situation going nowhere, she decided to make an attempt to leave again, but it was the next words that made her freeze once again.
"Go...d...my baby's never gonna know her father...she's never g-gonna know him, thanks to you." The words came out as muffled sobs, but she could still make it out. Her mood completely shifting, she slowly turned around, looking seriously at the grieving woman.
"You're...you're pregnant?" she half-whispered.
Evelyn looked, and nodded. Had her hand been free, she would have had moved it to her stomach by now.
"I was gonna tell him the moment he got him. This was supposed to be a special night..." she sobbed. "If it turns out that the money's not in the safe...just go ahead and shoot me. Please. At least then we'll be reunited."
Harley stared, blinking. Her mind flashed back to earlier when they'd first showed up, and the desperation Mrs. Pendergast had shown off when they confronted her. She'd grabbed at her stomach then...it made sense, now.
In the depths of her mind, somewhere, she suddenly found an old, buried memory resurfacing. One that she'd tried so hard to etch out of her mind, and one that she had not dared speak about to anyone. Her mind swam, and suddenly, she was nineteen years old again...
"Are you sure you want to go through with this, Ms. Quinzel?" The doctor spoke with a tone of seriousness which made one wonder if this wasn't the first time he'd given this speech. He stood across from her, as she sat across from him on the examination table, her head bowed, her eyes fixated on the cold floor. She said nothing, allowing the doctor to sigh and continue speaking.
"You know...I've had girls, in the past who-who uh, have backed last minute...I just wanna make sure."
She looked up, her expression blank.
"I'm sure." she said, in a voice so hollow she wasn't sure it was her own. Her hands remained folded in her lap, despite the fact she was shaking violently. The doctor noticed this, but didn't remark on it. He only sighed again, then nodded.
"Alright, well, if you're very sure...I'll go have a room prepped. I'll have a nurse show you back when it's time, okay?"
She only nodded.
In a second, the doctor had left the room, leaving young Harleen alone in the cold, white room. The clock ticked on the wall, making the silence even more unbearable and painful. She lifted a shaking hand to her abdomen, releasing a shaky breath of air as she pressed against it.
"It's for the best."
Joker's voice shook her from her thoughts. She shook herself, before, for the third time, attempting to leave the room. The previous memory still floated in her head, still wavered. But she had to push it back now...push it back...get rid of it. She didn't want it there, it couldn't be there anymore.
Her feet halted. She stopped. Deep breath...in and out...in and out...flush the mind...
In seconds, she felt calmed. The memory, and any bit of it, had transided for now.
"You didn't run into any...trouble in there, did you?" J's voice cracked through the door as she opened it, and she managed a feeble smile.
"No, puddin'. Everything went just fine." Her heels clicked as she exited the room, not even sparing Evelyn Pendergast another glance.