Theme: Holly Herndon - 'Eternal'
Vicki Vale was officially on her way to a Pulitzer Prize. It wasn't locked in yet, but her reporting on the Gotham riots propelled her to the front of the pack. Her deep background and anonymous sourcing was described as "powerful" (Newsweek) "groundbreaking" (Vanity Fair), and "illuminating to the very character of Gotham City" (The Daily Planet).
The big scoop had always been Roman Sionis' dual identity as Black Mask, but that wasn't a story Vicki was willing to tell. Sionis was in Arkham, declared criminally insane, and charged with the murder of Samantha Pierce. That was good enough for Vicki, and there was far too much potential for accidentally stepping on Harley's toes by wading in publicly.
Instead, Vicki reported on the facts in front of her, ruthlessly painting an accurate picture of Gotham for all the world to see.
Harley never did show up on her doorstep, but Vicki received a 'Thank You' card in the mail. It was an actual Hallmark card bordered with pink flowers, a smear of red greasepaint in the impression of a kiss just below the words 'Thank You' drawn in curling lilac script.
Vicki immediately set the card on fire, letting it turn to ash in her kitchen sink.
She didn't know what that card was supposed to mean, except that Harley was pleased with how things had panned out for everyone on her 'side.' Sionis was in Arkham, the Riddler roamed free (though Harley and the Joker had leaked his real name to the media, kicking off a war between them), and Vicki was keeping her mouth shut. Who knew how many more stories were connected to Harley Quinn's clash with Black Mask or how those people were doing now.
Bruce tried to get in touch, but Vicki ignored his calls. His identity as the Batman was one secret she would be taking to the grave, right alongside Knox's murder. As far as the world was concerned, Knox was the tragic victim of a mugging gone wrong. The guilt still plagued Vicki, just as her role in the 'Reign of Terror' did, keeping her awake at night or jumping to the forefront of her mind at inopportune times. She resigned herself to the fact that she'd made choices she couldn't take back, and there was nowhere to go but forward.
Going forward included leaving Gotham and getting out of Bruce and Harley's sphere of influence for the sake of her sanity.
That was what brought Vicki to Metropolis, where the rent was steep, but at least there weren't masked freaks running around terrorizing people, and she could have something resembling a normal life.
A month after the night of the Janus Plant fire, Vicki stood on a bustling Metropolis street, squinting up at the colossal bronze globe rotating on top of the Daily Planet's headquarters. A few zoom calls with Lois Lane had turned into a job offer once Lois convinced her editor they desperately needed Vicki as a senior staff reporter. It was precisely the kind of change Vicki was hoping for.
She took a deep breath and stepped into the Daily Planet's lobby, a smile spreading across her face when she spotted Lois waiting for her at reception.
"Vicki Vale," Lois greeted her with a grin.
"Lois Lane," Vicki beamed back at her.
"Welcome to the Daily Planet," Lois waggled her eyebrows. "Hope you're ready to take down some corrupt assholes."
"God, yes," Vicki laughed. "I'm so ready, Lois."
Princeton wasn't exactly what Dinah had expected. Not everyone was the son or daughter of a billionaire, and she even made a few friends in the first week, gravitating toward the students there on scholarships like she supposedly was. She was Dinah Lance now, an orphan who grew up in a Wayne Foundation orphanage, a brilliant student with a full-ride scholarship to Princeton.
It was a head-spinning change of pace, and it happened within weeks. For the first time in her life, Dinah was surrounded by 'normal' people her age—people she could identify with even if their life experiences were vastly different from her own. Like Dinah, they were trying to figure out who they were and where they fit into the world, and they were hopeful about the future, something Dinah was never very good at.
Being hopeful made it easier not to dwell on Harley Quinn, to give up on feeling personally responsible for her, as Dinah had for so, so long.
Now she was focusing on herself for a change.
It wasn't easy, but she was determined to try, slowly chipping away at the self-loathing she rationally knew she didn't deserve to feel.
It was late October, and all the houses on Greek Row were decked out for Halloween. Dinah donned a tool belt and yellow hard hat in a half-assed attempt at a costume, and joined her small group of friends for a night out of Halloween themed fun.
She'd just finished beating the pants off a frat boy at beer pong, laughing and shrugging helplessly with her friends, when a girl across the room caught her eye.
She was tall and waifish, graceful like a ballerina, her eyes large and doe-like, like a Disney princess, her hair a dark mop brushed back from her beautiful face.
Realizing the brunette was watching her, Dinah quickly looked down into her red plastic cup, uncertain what she was supposed to do. Girls were not something she'd quite worked her way up to figuring out yet. Dinah didn't hide who she was, but there had never been anyone for her to come out to. Not until she met Harley and Pam, and they'd more or less shrugged it off as an insignificant detail, while Bruce had been awkward, treating it similarly.
Trying to be brave, Dinah looked up to find the brunette's eye again. She was talking to someone out of the corner of her mouth, not really paying attention to them. Her eyes were on Dinah, and when Dinah offered her a small smile, the brunette immediately smiled back and strode across the room.
"Hi," she grinned, full of confidence. "I like your costume."
"Oh, uh, thanks," Dinah laughed and adjusted her yellow hard hat, uncertain how to find out if the brunette was being friendly or… interested. "What are you supposed to be?"
"Myself," the brunette shrugged down at her ripped jeans and combat boots, then lifted her Disney princess eyes to Dinah's, almost shyly. "But I love a woman in uniform."
Definitely interested, Dinah realized, her heart leaping excitedly in her throat.
"I'm Dinah," she smiled, offering her hand.
"That's a Gotham accent," the brunette observed. "I'm from there originally, but not for a long time."
She took Dinah's hand, holding her gaze steadily, and for a brief, overwhelming moment, Dinah felt like everything around the two of them vanished. Like nothing else mattered—like there was no one but them.
"I'm Helena," the brunette said, a little coy. "Helena Bertinelli."
Growing up, Lucy wasn't the sort of girl who dreamt about a big wedding. She certainly wouldn't have expected her wedding to take place at St Margaret's Cathedral Uptown, with hundreds of guests, a designer dress that cost more than the crummy Eastside apartment she grew up in, and a reception at the Ritz Gotham.
Rushing the wedding planning because she was three-months pregnant?
Now that was a little more Lucy's style.
Lucy released a slow breath, trying to stay calm as she smoothed her hand over her stomach, not yet rounded beneath the white silk of her Sofia Falcone wedding dress.
"You look beautiful, darling," Sofia purred, her red lips curving into a smile as she adjusted the sleeve of Lucy's gown.
"Thanks, Sofie," Lucy offered her a grin. "You look really pretty too."
"Pink is not usually my color," Sofia chuckled, looking down at her bridesmaid gown, baby-pink satin with a high ruffled neck. Lucy's choice.
"Mrs Gigante, it's your turn," the wedding planner beamed, gesturing for Sofia to come forward.
"I'll see you out there," Sofia drawled, sweeping away like she was getting ready to stride down a catwalk instead of the aisle as Lucy's maid of honor.
Lucy took another deep breath and bounced her shoulders, giddy energy racing through her.
The wedding planner hurried up to her, smiling and cooing as she fixed Lucy's lipstick and straightened her veil. Out in the cathedral, a wedding march started up, a sprightly string of staccato bursts from an organ announcing Lucy's imminent arrival.
"You look beautiful," the wedding planner reassured Lucy, handing her a massive bouquet of pale pink roses.
Lucy plastered on a smile and stood in front of the doors leading into the cathedral, rolling her shoulders back and lifting her chin. She didn't feel nervous so much as... ready. Not just ready to marry Mario, who she loved with all her heart—baby or no baby—but for once in her life, everything seemed to be falling into place. It wasn't fate or luck; it was because of the choices Lucy made. She was following her instincts, believing in herself instead of propping someone else up. She knew exactly what she wanted, and she knew exactly what she had to do to get it.
It felt like freedom.
It had been a whirlwind three months since Roman was institutionalized at Arkham. Sofia temporarily returned to Gotham to help Lucy put the finishing touches on the wedding and offer some business advice. With Roman in Arkham, a vacuum had formed in Gotham's underworld. One that needed to be filled.
Mario Falcone wasn't up to the challenge of running Gotham City.
But Lucy Falcone would be.
And right now, at that moment, Lucy felt like the world was hers if she wanted it.
The doors swung open, revealing the massive cathedral with its stained glass windows and carved stone gargoyles, wreaths and bouquets of pale pink and magenta flowers hanging from every available surface. The organ spewed a series of long, dramatic notes as three-hundred guests got to their feet and turned to watch Lucy walk down the aisle.
Her heart pounded happily when she spotted Mario waiting for her at the altar. Alberto stood to his left, acting as his best man with ten Falcone cousins lined up as groomsmen behind him. To his right was Sofia, Lucy's maid of honor, with a litany of female Falcone cousins dressed head-to-toe in baby pink in tow.
When Mario saw Lucy, he promptly burst into tears, his weak chin wobbling.
Alberto rolled his eyes and passed his brother a handkerchief.
Lucy didn't have any family of her own, but the Falcone clan had more than enough relatives and associates to pack out St Margaret's. Cousins from Italy and weathered crime lords from Chicago sat beside Sofia's fashionista friends. As per usual, Gotham's Cosa Nostra members were scattered amongst members of Gotham's high society, including Mayor Hamilton Hill, a new associate of Lucy's.
There was only one person on Lucy's side of the aisle that she could genuinely call hers. She caught Victor Zsasz's eye as she passed him, his bald head stark against his black-on-black suiting. Victor offered her a dopey grin and a thumbs-up, and Lucy grinned back at him.
Victor had become far more agreeable since he had a little chat with the mysterious Poison Ivy.
Sofia provided some insight on that matter, suggesting Lucy accept the gift of Victor's obedience but otherwise maintain a wide berth from Poison Ivy.
That was Lucy's instinct too.
Lucy beamed at the faces she knew and those she didn't, her veil streaming behind her as she walked down the aisle. There were more people than pews to sit in, guests spilling into the wings and crowded together in the enclaves above.
Lucy was almost to the altar when she saw them.
Two people wearing dark sunglasses and wedding attire watched from the wall on the Bride's side, just a few pews from the front. A man with sandy hair raked back from his face, and a woman wearing a pretty pink dress, her platinum hair wavy around her shoulders. They blended in well enough, and no one else seemed to notice, but Lucy immediately recognized Harley Quinn and the Joker.
Her eyes widened, her nostrils flaring in outrage as she continued down the aisle, staring at them openly.
Harley and the Joker smirked and waggled their fingers at her slyly, Harley lowering her sunglasses to offer Lucy a wink.
Lucy pivoted back to face the altar, her jaw tense, blood rushing in her ears as she tried to decide why they were there. Was it an attack? Were they going to blow the cathedral sky-high? Were they there to kidnap a guest? Assassinate Alberto? Was this the beginning of another reign of terror?
Or could it just be that Harley wanted to fuck with her?
Lucy's instincts told her that was the one.
Her teeth grinding together, Lucy stepped up onto the altar, offering Mario and the priest a tight smile as she handed her bouquet to Sofia, using the gesture to look over her shoulder.
Harley whispered in the Joker's ear, making him smirk as he watched Lucy react to their presence.
Lucy fought back a scowl and spun back around to face Mario, forcing herself to ignore the clowns. She only got one wedding day.
The priest opened with a prayer, which Lucy used to close her eyes and center herself, telling herself Harley was there to make a point, not to ruin the day with death and destruction. Lucy wouldn't count Harley as an ally, but she knew Harley wanted to see her succeed. She didn't know why or what it meant that a psychopath had such a high opinion of her, but Lucy didn't intend to sit down and ask her about it over cocktails any time soon.
One thing was sure. There was no getting around the fact that Harley and the Joker were a pervasive presence in Gotham, and figuring out how to work around them was a necessity.
A necessity Lucy's predecessors had not understood.
Feeling tense and sick, Lucy went through the motions of the wedding service, kneeling for the nuptial blessings and taking communion, doing her best to be present as she and Mario exchanged their vows. She was almost… almost able to forget the clowns when Mario slid the wedding band on her finger. She met his big puppy dog eyes, full of happy tears, and that sense of knowing what she was doing came roaring back, puffing her up with confidence.
"You may now kiss the bride!" the priest announced, prompting Mario to sweep Lucy up in his bulky arms, the organ picking up another long-winded, warbling tune.
Lucy melted into the kiss, feeling whole for the first time in her life. This was her family now, and she would do whatever she had to to keep Mario and the baby growing inside her safe.
"Ladies and gentleman, Mr and Mrs Mario Falcone!" the priest beamed.
Mario and Lucy turned to face their cheering guests, holding hands and grinning, Mario still wiping tears from his cheeks.
Lucy's eyes immediately darted to the third pew, and she had to fight back a scowl when she saw Harley and the Joker twined around one another, making out like a pair of teenagers, ignoring the bewildered looks from the people around them.
Then Harley broke away, throwing her head back and laughing before she looked up at Lucy again. She shot Lucy a knowing look and winked again.
Almost like she knew something Lucy didn't.
Shanghai was full of assholes. Or at least that was Pam's estimation of the city. She'd been there twice before, once for a biochemistry conference she slipped into unnoticed, just to listen, and then again to have a word with the CFO of China's biggest electricity company. That was when inception still took weeks before she'd upgraded the perfume to its full potential. Two weeks in Shanghai was enough to get to know the city, its cleanly exterior belying the sickness of greed pulsing away within.
She was there to make a deal for the blue poppy. Importing them was a dead-end—Pam wanted to see them grow. She was meeting Strange's contact from the League of Shadows to negotiate access to the hilltop where the poppy bloomed, where she could collect the data she needed to cultivate them herself.
Grabbing a cab from the airport, Pam gazed out the window at the city's financial district, taking in the skyscrapers and shiny banks, populated by businessmen and tycoons and corrupt, greedy people. The kind of people it was her purpose to change—to make them productive for her. For the world.
Pam saw the Wall Street oligarchs in the newspapers, and she thought, if I was only close enough to touch you…
She watched the pundits on Fox News, lying to people. All it would take is a fingertip, and you would be gone.
She read about politicians refusing to do what was necessary—sacrificing the planet for their beloved economies. I just need to get close enough…
Strange had organized this meeting—drinks at the thirty-sixth-floor bar of the Four Seasons Shanghai. The dress code called for semi-formal, so once Pam was shown to her suite, she shimmied into a floor-length gown, its sage green silk flowing against her pale skin. Her dark red hair was cut a blunt Egyptian-style bob, her ears decorated with small gold hoops, and as always, she wore a long necklace with a delicate green-glass bottle dangling from the end of its chain.
The hotel bar was a blur of the usual things people thought of as luxurious—mahogany paneling and Art Deco details, well-heeled waiters and a tuxedoed pianist at a baby grand, crystal cut glasses brimming with top-shelf liquor. Almost immediately, Pam spotted the woman waiting for her at the bar, prompting her to finger the perfume bottle thoughtfully. There was a lucrative deal waiting back in Gotham once they could grow the poppies at home. One that would finance Pam's research without resorting to stealing or conning men out of their money.
She tucked the pendant beneath her dress as she approached the woman, taking note of her backless satin gown, her auburn hair knotted in a twist at the side of her neck, held there with a sparkling clip. She looked like a wealthy woman, privileged, a costume to hide who she was.
Pam sidled up to her, catching the bartender's attention, and ordering a tequila straight up. She could feel the woman watching as the bartender set the drink in front of her, and Pam took a quick sip before turning to face her.
"Dr Isley, I presume," the woman purred, her voice slightly accented. "Hugo has told me many things about you."
"He's told me many things about you too," Pam replied, finding the woman a little arrogant and annoying already. Nothing a little perfume wouldn't fix so this business relationship could take shape, and Pam could get to work.
"He tells me you two are studying your abilities," the woman continued slyly. "Perhaps I may be of help to you."
"I'm not here for whatever dogmatic ninja-assassin bullshit you're selling," Pam drawled. "I'm here to make a deal."
"What is dogma but philosophy?" the woman countered gently. "And what is an assassin, but a tool?"
"A philosophy geared toward destroying Gotham," Pam scoffed.
"The League of Shadows exists to bring order to the world, balance," the woman insisted. "Our warriors' purpose is to cut out the cancers of corruption, decadence, injustice. Greed. Tell me, Pamela, are we so different?"
The woman cocked her head to the side, her brown eyes searching Pam's face, and Pam stared back at her, feeling a familiar warmth grow beneath her palms like it found the woman's words… interesting.
"I sense a great power in you, Pamela," the woman continued, making Pam blink hard, taken aback. "One that can change the world."
Pam looked away, knocking back the rest of the tequila as the warmth in her hands grew hotter, more intense. It whispered to her, reminded her of her purpose. Pam felt like the woman was speaking directly to that purpose now. The purpose she'd felt at every turn.
"But you fear it," the woman breathed, her gaze intent. "I can help you unlock it, Pamela. I can be the key."
Pam fingered the perfume around her neck, the warmth growing like a crackling fire. The urge, the temptation deepening alongside it. She wasn't naive; she knew this wasn't an offer in good faith. That like Harley before her, this woman had her own agenda and wanted to use Pam as a tool. A weapon.
But Pam had long ago decided she was no one's weapon but her own.
She thought about what Strange said about the woman and how serious he'd been.
She is no ordinary woman. She is the daughter of mercenaries, the daughter of mystical arts. She is powerful, and her men love her like a mother.
Pam let the pendant swing back beneath her dress, giving into the power as she looked the woman in the eye.
The warmth, the power, spread from her palms to her cheeks, the soles of her feet and under her arms; it told her this was the right way.
"So," the woman smirked faintly, arrogant. "Do we have a deal?"
Pam's hand snaked up to close over the back of the woman's hand, and her eyes immediately widened, surprised when she felt the tendrils of Pam's power sneak inside her, searching out what some might call a soul. Pam could feel her strength, her drive, her belief, her purpose. They were barriers, strong and supple.
But Pam was stronger.
"Talia al Ghul," Pam said, her voice low and calm as she held the woman's gaze. "What you think you know, and what you think you believe… those things are about to change."
A lovesick smile spread over Talia's face, and Pam was fascinated by the unusual sensation of crystals crackling behind her eyes as she connected to this daughter of mercenaries.
She removed her hand, but she didn't let Talia go.
Talia sighed dreamily, peaceful and obedient now that Pam was there to guide her.
"Yes, Ivy," she breathed.
A/N: SO! I've obviously laid out some breadcrumbs for a third (and final!) story, which would take place five years in the future. I would love to say I will start posting late next year, but these things are a massive undertaking, and right now I'm at like 10% motivation when I need to find my way to at least 60%, and I've hardly written anything yet. So the "when" of this next fic is very much up for debate.
Trilogy closers tend to either be bad or meh, but hopefully, I can develop unique takes on Helena Bertinelli and Poison Ivy (and a few other characters, too) like I did for Roman & Ed. I've recently learned that *no one* ships Helena & Dinah, lol, so I have no idea how them being in a long term relationship will go down.
Also, that is the end of Vicki's Harlequin-verse story. She's in Metropolis hanging out with Lois Lane and getting on with her life. Her closer just fit better in the epilogue, though. That's all, folks.
Make an account and subscribe for author updates, follow me on Tumblr (knit-wear-it) & turn on notifications—I will only be updating it with news about this next story, possible one shots, maybe some hints/inspo, and any new fan art that comes in. I might take Asks over the next few days, but please review on here first.
The next story will be as different from the Pantomime as the Pantomime is from the Harlequin, and as the title suggests, things will get wild….
Here's a little taste.
The Rabbit Hole
"The shape of power is always the same; it is the shape of a tree. Root to tip, central trunk branching and re-branching, spreading wider in ever-thinning, searching fingers. The shape of power is the outline of a living thing straining outward, sending it's fine tendrils a little further, and a little further yet…
"Like the rivers to the ocean, like the lightning strike, the power is obscene and uncontainable."
—Naomi Alderman, 'The Power'
Sometimes the lines between friends and enemies blur, and the ones you love the most turn on you, even Gotham's two most notorious psychopaths.
It's been fab writing for you guys, I hope I'll be back one day. Please comment & review if you haven't yet - I love to hear what you think, and it means a lot.