Mack looked across the counter at Harvey and cocked her head to one side. "So, did you grow up in the city, or were you a farm boy?"
He blinked at the complete and utter randomness of her question and she had the good graces to look slightly sheepish. Harvey snorted ruefully and took a swig of bud light before humoring her, "I'm a city kid, born and bred, but I'd stay at my grandpa's place, out in the country, in the summer."
Mack's lips thinned out as she watched the corners of his eyes tighten. He'd never really talked about his family, but from what she'd gathered from the papers and various exposés... most of his memories weren't all that pleasant. She mentally kicked herself for bringing it up, as he looked off to the side and rubbed the back of his neck with one hand in an attempt to hide his discomfort.
Mack leaned across the bar, "Sorry, Harvey. I didn't mean to dredge up something unpleasant."
Harvey swiveled back around towards her and smiled self-deprecatingly, "Actually, I rather enjoyed visiting the old man. He never ran out of stories, though I imagine towards the end he started to make them up."
There was a note of wistfulness to his voice that had Mack suddenly re-evaluating her opinion of him. It was perhaps the first time she actually saw Harvey without a reminder of Two-Face hanging in the back of her mind. It was also the only reason she had that might explain how one of her hands ended up brushing back a lock of hair that had fallen across his brow.
She pushed the errant strand of hair out of the way and couldn't suppress the urge to run her hand backwards until it brushed the salt and pepper strands on the left side of his head. She was surprised to find that the bleached part of his hair was just as smooth as the rest of it. Secretly, she had suspected it would be much more coarse.
Harvey stilled himself and had to forcibly remind himself to breathe. His eyes darted from side to side desperately searching for something to focus on besides the sensation of her nails skimming his scalp. He snapped his eyes back to the front and then, just as quickly shut them.
Well, this is just dandy. I'm trying to distract myself from the hands running through my hair, and manage to get an eyeful of her ample cleavage for my trouble.
You have less than five seconds to reopen your eyes or I'm gonna mutiny.
Harvey inhaled sharply as her nails grazed the top of his ear, as she pulled her hands away from him. He looked at her seriously; her previous actions reminded him of something he'd been dying to ask her for months, "How is it that seasoned doctors can't bear to look at me without flinching, but a bartender from the lower west side can?"
Mack started. A smart aleck response to her prodding she had expected, but this sudden seriousness was a jolt. She opened her mouth, not quite sure what she was supposed to say. He stared at her expectantly and she shrugged, "It's just a scar Harvey."
She knew from the sudden tensing of his shoulders that she'd said the wrong thing. He stood up abruptly, beer in one hand, and took a step in the direction of the hallway. His jaw clenched as he regarded her with something close to disdain, "This scar ruined my career. It ruined my marriage, my life. You do remember the crazy psychopath who lives in my head, don't you!" He waved one hand wildly in her direction, his tone of voice sarcastic, if not down right scathing.
Mack narrowed her eyes. What the fuck was she supposed to say? It had been a loaded question from the get go. Hell, it was right up there with a woman asking her husband if she looked fat in her new dress. Nothing you said was gonna be the right thing to say.
"Well, since I've already irritated you, let me ask you a question." Mack slid one hand to her hip, her body language displaying her irritation even if her voice did not.
He took a threatening step towards her as if to remind her who she was talking to. She snorted. Like anything she said could have possible defused this situation, anyway. "Was Harv really created that day in the court room or was he old hat by that time?"
Mack could swear that for a few seconds time completely stopped. Then everything came crashing back into motion and she saw the large blur that was Harvey moving towards her. She didn't even have time to consider stepping back when the fingers of one large hand was wrapping painfully around her upper arm.
He dragged her towards him until he was able to stare straight down at her; his nostrils flaring in anger as he spoke, "What the fuck difference does it make to you anyway, Jamie? I'm still a murdering sociopath regardless of how I fucking look, right!"
"It makes a big fucking difference and you know it!" She looked up at him, too upset herself to register the glint of danger in his eyes. "If he was there beforehand than it really is just a bloody scar. Besides! It's not my goddamn fault you naturally assume I'm as shallow as your old, high-faluting society friends were."
"My friends are not shallow! Bruce Wayne has been, and still is one of my best friends."
"Then what the hell's the problem? God fucking forbid if I happen to see past your attitude problem and your facial defects." Mack glared at him furiously, "Has it every occurred to you, Mr. Dent, that it's not the way you look that people find offensive!"
Mack watched his lips tug up into a sneer and his eyes darken and she felt the oddest feeling curling in the pit of her stomach. He loomed over her, and she reached out with her free arm to press one hand against his chest in an effort to keep her distance. Mack dimly registered Harvey tossing his half empty beer bottle aimlessly into the nearest sink with a loud clunk.
He sneered down at the small woman in front of him, trying his damnedest to keep a snarling Two-Face firmly in his cage. Her small hand pressed against his chest and a feeling of predatory glee came over him at the slight hint of what he assumed was fear in her eyes. Two-Face's demands for her blood were ringing in his ears when he noticed the oddest expression cross her face.
Mack met his gaze head-on, trying desperately to explain away the feeling of heat curling through her abdomen. She was pressed against a large male who had a history of brutality and he was currently looking as thought he was within inches of beating the shit out of her- despite their agreement. Mack should have been terrified, but she wasn't. Scared- definitely, but the majority of her feelings were becoming a source of great concern.
His other hand hung ominously in the air, and she felt his chest heave under her fingers. Mack blinked and chanced a quick look at the spot where her hand met his chest. Christ he's warm. Her fingers splayed out across the expanse of his abs of their own accord and she noted absently that his stomach was surprisingly firm.
Mack jerked her head up to look at him and her eyes widened in horror. I did not just think that. Not now of all times! You are not allowed to lust after men who threaten you, despite how nice you think their ass is!
Harvey blinked, momentarily distracted as he saw the faintest hint of heat flash across her face. He paused in disbelief, Had that really been...
Mack stood there helplessly, as she was forced to admit that the feeling in the pit of her stomach had nothing to do with fear and everything to do with the thrill of being pressed this close to a man she found oddly attractive. That fact that he was minutes away from smiting her with a fist as large as her head, was apparently irrelevant to her hormones. Or worse... the danger factor had its own morbid appeal.
Two-Face slowly stopped his ranting as the two of them watched Mack's slow fall from grace. Her eyes registered a certain helplessness and he took the opportunity to move his free hand upward until it was wrapped snugly around the back of her neck. Still fuming at her lack of tact concerning his painful past, he was rougher than he intended to be as he applied pressure to the back of her neck, and tilted her head upwards. Anger was still etched across her face, but a slow flush had creeped into her cheeks that he suspected had nothing to do with her increasing ire.
He released the death grip he had on her arm and slid his other arm slowly around to the small of her back, smoothed his hand out and tucked her into the curve of his body. Any doubts he might have had about her reluctance were firmly quelled when her breath hitched in her throat and her hand curled slowly into the front of his shirt.
Mack opened her mouth to say something, but no sound was forthcoming. The small voice of reason in her head was screaming all sorts of suggestions at her, but she couldn't find the will power to act on any of them. What are you doing! Say something... do something. You are not just going to stand here and let him do this, are you? What part of total catastrophe don't you understand!
Mack couldn't help but agree that, yes, this was most assuredly not a good idea, but the voice of recklessness was currently erasing any desire to make the 'smart choice'. She'd spent too much time flirting with him, not to mention enjoying the thrill of excitement he brought into her otherwise dull life, to be able to resist.
He leaned down towards her, face inches from hers, and she slid her own arm up until her fingers were wrapped around one broad shoulder. Despite the insistent thought that she 'stop this foolishness at once', she couldn't deny that being pressed against him felt damn good. Mack felt his five o'clock shadow graze her cheek seconds before he bypassed her lips and stopped just next to her ear, in the crook of her neck.
Her eyes flew open and hand she had laid on his shoulder moved to cling at the nape of his neck, as his warm breath teased the sensitive area just behind her ear. "Jamie..."
Mack blinked and tried to focus, though he wasn't making it easy when every single breath he took was drifting conveniently across the very space that sent shivers down her spine. "Harvey..." she stopped and mental kicked herself.
Tell me my voice didn't really sound that bloody throaty. The feeling of his smug smile stretching across the expanse of her neck told her otherwise. "You are such a bastard."
He chuckled darkly and his arms tightened slightly. "Yes, Jamie," he spoke softly into her ear, "Two-Face was around a long time before Maroni decided he wanted revenge." Harvey inhaled sharply and resisted the urge to slide his hand down past her waist. He hadn't meant for it to go this far, but things always seemed to get out of hand where she was concerned. He simply couldn't bring himself to let her go without indulging himself. Harvey nudged her head to the side with his, exposed a long line of pale flesh, and sunk his teeth softly into the spot just below her ear. He heard the small sound she was trying so desperately to quiet and relished the way her head lolled ever so slightly to the side.
Mack swallowed the soft whimper forming in the back of her throat, and decidedly quite suddenly that this really had been a bad idea and she needed to get as far away from him as human possible before she did something irreparable... like encourage him.
Harvey lifted his head from her neck, before he lost his head completely. Untangling himself from her, he pulled back and looked down at her, his face inscrutable.
"We'll see you tomorrow, Jamie. Me and the boys have havoc to wreak before dawn." He reached down and absently smoothed the crumpled spot on his shirt where her hand had been, before heading back down the hallway.
Mack stood there staring after him, and tried desperately to get a handle on the moment. He had...
She paused as the voice of reason firmly inserted a loud, No, you ALLOWED...
Tossing her hair behind her shoulders irritably, she was forced to concede the point. Fine! She had allowed him to manhandle her.
She cringed as the same loud voice added, and you didn't protest IN THE SLIGHTEST!
Great... she sighed. Now I'm arguing with myself as well.
Logic dictated that it would be wise of her to make this encounter with him the last one of its kind. They were completely incompatible, so a romantic relationship of any sort was completely out of the question. Assuming that was an option to begin with. She had stopped having one-night stands and casual flings a long, long, time ago (in a galaxy far, far away), and had no intention of pursing one now. Quite obviously she was left with no other option but to maintain a casual yet professional friendship with him.
It was unfortunate that her baser instincts chose that exact moment to relive the moment where he was showering her neck with so much attention. She shivered, and then exclaimed a heart felt, "Well fuck me sideways."
Mack whirled back around at the sound of her name. Mark was standing at the counter; his wallet in hand, "The boss sent me up to settle the tab."
"Oh right." Mack floundered about briefly looking for the sheet of paper she was using for a tally sheet, but she seemed to have misplaced it. "Well, to tell you the truth Mark, I'm not used to you guys cutting out on me so early so I didn't really have it added up. You'll have to give me a second, I'm a little off my game just now."
Mark shrugged and tossed out a couple of hundreds. "To tell you the truth, Mack- I never look at the damn thing anyway." He grinned across the floor at her and started to turn away when he remembered something.
"The boss... that is, Harv, asked me to give you a message." Mack whipped her head around at the mention of Harvey's other half, her eyes slightly wide. With him, there was no telling what kind of message they'd asked him to relay.
Mark quirked a brow, but continued, "He said it wasn't fair of you to play favorites, and that the next time he saw you, he was going to collect what was his."
Mack narrowed her eyes, "Is that a fact."
Mark held up a placating hand, "Hey! Don't shoot the messenger."
"You tell his Royal Highness that when they," Mack made sure to stress the fact that she meant both of them, "play fair. Then I will!"
Mark nodded and managed not to laugh at the indignant look on her face. He sauntered off and shortly thereafter she heard the telltale sound of the back door being open and closed. Rubbing the bridge of her nose with one hand, she went back to the serious business of berating herself.
It really had been foolish to encourage this sort of behavior. Things could get awkward fairly quickly if she wasn't careful, after all, they did happen to supply a large amount of her business. She had been telling the truth earlier when she'd told him it wasn't the way he looked that was offensive. Despite what he might think, she didn't have a problem with his appearance. Hell, it wasn't really his mental status that got to her. The two of them were bearable, and most of the time she enjoyed their company, despites their quirks. Unfortunately they had a tendency to be homicidal when provoked, and she was positive that most times they didn't even need to be provoked to be homicidal. If you added in their criminal tendencies... well, that constituted a problem.
That the fact that he was the only man in the last five years to even remotely interest her was turning out to be irritating, to say the least. Though a large part of his appeal might be a 'forbidden fruit' type of thing.
Mack frowned. As much as she'd like to attribute her current fixation to something as simple as that, she didn't really feel that was the reason. She'd never been a forbidden fruit sort of woman. She didn't lust after other women's husbands, or chase after men who weren't good for her. She paused and then snorted, well... until now at any rate.
If something was bad for her emotional or physical well-being, she didn't waste her energy pursuing it. In fact, after that fiasco with David in her early twenties, she was careful to make sure all her relationships were monitored closely for any sign that things might be starting to sour.
Men did not go through her; she went through them.
Mack chewed her lip thoughtfully, and was forced to admit that the thought of having any sort of relationship with him, past friendship, was scaring the living daylights out of her. Just not for the reasons you might think. He was the exact type of man she found attractive and then avoided. Hell, she'd met plenty of men she'd wanted. Of course none of them were criminally insane, but she'd lusted after plenty rough and ready tough guys. It didn't mean she had to act on her impulses. In fact she couldn't think of a single one she'd pursued. The difference between Harvey and all the rest of the macho men she'd known was that Harvey was too single minded for his own good. He saw what he wanted and tended to do whatever it took to get it. It was the same attitude he'd had as D.A., and god knows Harv was a hundred times worse.
The reason she had fought so hard to avoid men like that was simple. Men like that, tended to go through her. Mack replayed the night's events, for what would be the first time of many, and decided quite firmly that it would have been more merciful if he'd beaten the shit out of her.