Harley arrived at White's place and cautiously knocked on the door. When no response was given, she forced her way in, only to be quickly tackled by a large man, pinning her to the ground. The man was too heavy for Harley to dispense with so she screamed and kicked helplessly in protest. Recognizing her voice, White abruptly released Harley and stammered out an apology.
"I didn't know it was you," he explained.
"Who'd ya think it was!" Harley snapped irritably.
"I don't know! I heard you knock and freaked out."
"Do ya honestly think Mistah J would knock?" she berated him.
"…Probably not," he admitted while stepping outside the door, darting his head both ways in search.
"I wasn't followed," she assured while pulling him back inside. "Packing, I see." She regarded the duffle bag lying on the floor. "Where ya goin'?"
"I dunno," he replied sadly, staring at the bag with her.
Harley smiled at him. "Well, luckily for you, I know exactly where you're goin': Metropolis."
"But…but I've never been outside of Gotham."
"No time like the present." She knelt down and started refolding his clothes so they better fit inside his bag. White looked very unsure at this new plan as Harley could plainly see. "Listen," she began. "It's my turn to help you out. Metropolis is one place Mistah J tries to stay clear of and, on the occasion he does visit, he doesn't stay very long."
"Superman," White commented knowingly.
Harley laughed loudly. "No, no, no. I've recently learned that there's much more to fear from the Bat than the big blue boyscout."
"Then what scares the boss?" he asked.
"Nothing scares the Joker!" she declared venomously, taking White aback but she quickly reverted to her sweet self. "He just respects some folks more'n others. It's no one that'd pay you any mind," she replied cryptically. "I wish I could get your foot in the door somewhere, but I really don't have any connections. I'm sure a big tough guy like you won't have any problems finding work though," she said with a wink.
White was still nervous about leaving the only place he'd ever known but trusted Harley's judgment on the matter. When they had finished packing they walked outside to say their goodbyes, but instead of goodbye Henshaw blurted out, "It's my fault Henshaw's dead."
"He knew the risks," Harley responded rationally.
"No! You don't understand! I'm the one that told him we should be lookin' after you. I had to really scare him into it too."
"You…That was your idea?"
White nodded slowly.
Harley was shocked. She'd always assumed Mistah J had come up with the idea last minute after he'd kicked her out that night. She fought off tears from this revelation. "He…W-we don't know," she sputtered. "Maybe he's still…"
White stared daggers back at her, daring her to finish that though. She fell silent. They both were quiet until White broke it by saying, "Come with me," in a begging tone.
"Don't be silly!" Harley scoffed. "You'll be fine."
"I'm not worried 'bout me," he admitted. "He'll kill you, y'know."
"Maybe… Probably. One day," Harley agreed with little feeling. Her nonchalant attitude over such a serious matter was making him heated.
"You know he's gonna kill you…but you won't leave him?" he questioned slowly, trying to make each syllable sink into Harley's brain, hoping that she'd realize how insane it sounded.
"People do crazy things for love." She shrugged. That tiny gesture was the final straw for White. How could someone shrug away their own life so easily, forfeit it to another person?
Before Harley could see it coming he had each of her arms in his hands, pinned tightly to her sides, and was vigorously shaking her back and forth. "That doesn't make sense! Why, Laurie? He's gonna kill you! I won't let it happen!"
"White! Stop! Let me go!" Harley demanded.
"I'll make you come with me," White growled, angry at her stubbornness. He easily lifted her off the ground and slung her over his shoulder.
"Put me down, White! You hear me? Put me down this second!" But he didn't hear her anymore. He was deaf to all her protests, as he headed down the street with Harley on one shoulder and his duffle bag on the other. "White, if you don't put me down, I'll scream," she said coolly. "I'll scream and someone will come and we'll both be arrested. And if you think you're safe from him behind bars, White, you're dead wrong. In fact, you're just plain dead."
He heard her that time and halted his step, the word 'dead' hanging over their heads ominously. He finally relinquished his hold and set her gently down before sitting himself on the sidewalk, emotionally exhausted. White realized he was crying. …He couldn't remember the last time he'd cried. He tried to hide his face from Harley, embarrassed.
Harley sat next to her distraught friend and tried to comfort him. "Your sister's named Laurie?" she asked softly.
White nodded. "Her name was Laurie. He killed her. I knew it was gonna happen. Kept tellin' her but she wouldn't listen," he explained.
"You can't make people listen, White."
"I coulda made her leave!" his voice rose. "She wasn't any bigger than you. Woulda been easy."
Harley shook her head. "She would've been miserable and she'd have spent her life hating you. As it is, she lived the way she wanted, being with who made her happy and knowing she had a brother her loved her. I'm sure that was a comfort during those tough times."
"But…that doesn't make sense," White said again in exasperation.
Harley gave him a crooked smile. "No, I don't suppose it does. What happened to her killer?"
"Oh, I took care of him," he said darkly.
Harley laughed. "Tell ya what. If Mistah J ever does me in, you have my permission to teach him a lesson."
White snickered at the ridiculous notion.
"You really don't have to worry about me though," she continued as she picked up a soda can lying in the gutter near them. She threw it in the air and whipped out her gun, blowing a clean hole in its center. "You taught me how to take care of myself. Thank you for that."
White chuckled and stood back up. He was sure there was plenty to worry about where Harley was concerned, but her demonstration made him feel better somehow. "Guess you showed me."
"Goodbye, White. I'll miss ya." She embraced him and he returned it this time.
White had never been one for goodbyes, so he didn't say anything. The best he could muster was to wave back at her when he was about to walk out of sight. He took in Gotham for what very well may have been the last time, realizing he really wasn't going to miss it all that much. He also found that he wasn't too worried about his future. He had survived Gotham; Metropolis would be a snap.
Author's End Notes: And that's all she wrote folks. Hope you enjoyed it though I'm sure you missed having Joker around in the second half. I'm sure he was coming up with something despicable for me to write about later. I walk away from this with a feeling of almost relief as it was so long in the making. Of course, when you're developing a story like this you sometimes surprise even yourself and I did with the character Rumble (who was a character created exclusively to move the plot along). I did not think I'd end up liking him as much as I did and hope I'll be able to play with him again one day.
PS- When I revealed the end of this story to my beta, she said, "You're letting White live?" I responded, "…You did at some point read the title, right?" lol