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Spoilers: There ain't none y'all
Disclaimer: DC owns all these characters and WB owns DC and Time Warner owns WB and I'm pretty sure the rest of the world.
Gladrial's Notes: After working together on a couple of pieces, and apart on several, I think Sno-Chan and I have come a long way. We're more confident in our work and are very excited to bring you this, our latest collaboration. We plan on presenting this fic with one chapter per week. The story takes place early in the Joker/Harley relationship.
Sno-Chan's Notes: Basically, my editing's gotten tighter and Gladrial's mastered the art of writing chunks of words in-between dialogue. Anyway, this story is quite heavily based on some of our own experiences, both recently and in the past, of traveling long distances through boring stretches of land. This is undoubtedly our finest work to date, so please enjoy.
"Just you wait until I get you home, Harley. Just you wait," Joker vowed threateningly.
The cops were on their tail and he just couldn't seem to shake them tonight. Oh, he had lost some of them without a problem but it seemed no matter what corner he turned or what tricked he tried, there'd be another set of flashing lights waiting to chase him down. It was bad enough hearing those sirens blaring without Harley wailing over top of them. She wasn't just crying either; she was throwing an all out temper tantrum, kicking her feet like a spoiled five-year-old who was just denied a candy bar at the checkout counter. All he wanted to do was kick her out of the car…then maybe back it up over her head, but he didn't have an opportunity with the GCPD barreling down his throat.
"All I wanted was to go out! Just like everybody else!" she managed to get out in the middle of her fit. Harley knew he was too busy to deal with her right now and she was too angry to care about the future ramifications.
"I'm not everybody else!" he argued back. "We're out, aren't we?!"
"You call this a date?!" she screeched in disbelief.
He was about to try and see if he could manage to open the passenger door and shove her out while driving, when yet another set of sirens appeared in the rearview mirror. "GODDAMMIT!" he cursed while banging his hands on the steering wheel in frustration.
If this continued much longer they were going to have the Bat to contend with and he just wasn't prepared for that. What was making them so persistent tonight? Typically, all he'd have to do was drive in a way that clearly put people in danger. Scared of endangering innocent lives, the cops would normally back off and try a different tactic, giving him time to think, and he happened to know for a fact that he'd already caused some injuries if not deaths in this particular chase.
He turned on the radio to hopefully find a clue to this development and was annoyed at how loud he had to turn it up to be heard over both the sirens and Harley. After flipping past several songs, he caught a news bulletin. Citizens needed to clear the roads, blah blah blah. Suspect to be considered armed and extremely dangerous, yadda yadda. Murder of the mayor's daughter…
"WHAT?!" Joker screamed at news woman reporting on the other end of the radio. He knew this must be referring to the teenage girl he had killed earlier that evening, but he hadn't realized she was anyone of any importance. Typically, it would have been very funny, but something like that deserved a much grander scheme, something very thought out. It did explain why the pursuit was so relentless though.
"This is all your fault!" he blamed Harley instantly.
"My fault?!" she shot back incredulously.
"You were the one that crammed that stick of dynamite down her throat," he reminded her.
"YOU told me to! AND you lit it!" she screamed at wit's end.
The sirens were still flashing behind them and clearly up ahead there were more waiting. He was driving into a barricade. "Shit," he said under his breath, looking around for another way out, when he caught one of the many bascule bridges crossing the harbor out of the corner of his eye. The barrier was down indicating that it was on the rise. There weren't any boats in the harbor so he knew it was an order issued by the police to block any escape attempts. Right now the incline was very slight.
"I can make that," he said to himself as he violently switched gears, heading for the bridge.
Realizing what he was about to do, Harley quickly shut off her tantrum as any spoiled five-year-old knows how to do. "Puddin', no! Please don't!" she pleaded. He didn't regard her with so much as a 'shut up' and plowed through the flimsy retractable gate arm blocking the bridge.
They were driving rapidly at an ever increasing incline. Harley was screaming at the top of her lungs as they cleared the end of their side of the bridge, flew through the air, and landed roughly on the other side, rear wheels first, followed by the front.
"I am the most amazing man alive!" he shouted in triumph. "Eat your heart out Bats! C'mon Harl," he was willing to forget his anger at her for the moment. "You've got to admit, that was an astounding getaway. Feel free to thank me."
She glared at him stone-faced and angrily crossed her arms over her chest as she slouched down in her seat, set to full pout mode.
"You want a date?" he asked darkly. "Fine!" Joker abruptly pulled in front of the first establishment he saw. He roughly pulled her over the gear shift and out the driver's door by the arm, dragging her into the store.
Despite the rough treatment, Harley instantly perked up upon viewing their location. "Sno-cones!" she sang cheerily. The other patrons were shocked at the new arrivals and several tried to make an exit. Joker indicated that they should retake their seats by raising his gun and waving them away from the door with it.
"I shouldn't have to explain this to you," he regarded Harley with contempt. "You're an adult. You know who I am but since you choose not to understand, I'm going to illustrate my point as plainly as possible." He then started shouting orders to customers around him. They included things like 'Flip the close sign', 'Shut the blinds', 'Turn off the lights', 'Lock the doors', and 'Don't be stupid; put down your phone'. Clearly, his point was how difficult it was for him to make any kind of normal outing.
"ORDER!" he demanded of Harley while he made a phone call on his cell. Harley asked for a half watermelon, half bubblegum sno-cone.
"Uh…Does he want anything?" the nervous cash register attendant asked her while nodding toward the Joker.
"One with everything," he answered, after overhearing the question in-between delivering instructions to someone on the other end of the phone.
"…Everything?" the attendant asked, in order to clarify such an odd order.
"Do you speak English?" he returned insultingly.
They quickly got to work on both orders, tiny amounts of each syrup being added to Joker's sno-cone. Harley was handed a half red, half pink one, while Joker was handed something that more or less resembled mud. He threw some money at the counter.
"Y-you're paying?" the attendant said in shock.
"Yes, I'm paying! If I don't, she'll say this doesn't count!" he looked at Harley venomously, who was sitting on a tall stool, swinging her dangling feet while enjoying her treat.
So the two clowns settled down to eat their sno-cones infront of their frightened, and quite bewildered, hostages, all of who were well aware of how gruesome these particular criminals could be. After several minutes, the patrons were wondering when or if they'd be allowed to leave when a large man appeared at the door, peering through the glass and knocking. Joker unlocked the door and allowed him in.
"Ya wanted me boss?" the man asked.
Harley tilted her head curiously at the man. "Rocko, what are you doing here?"
"Da boss called me…" he started to explain before being silenced by the Joker.
"Rocko is going to stay behind and keep everyone in here for as long as possible so no one gets any funny ideas until we're safely away all because of your little fit. I hope I've made myself very clear on this matter, Harley, and don't think you aren't going to be punished when we get home." After this speech, Joker looked as though he was trying very hard to recall something that was just on the tip of his tongue, but the thought wasn't cooperating. "Now…what were we doing?" he asked.
"Um…Running from the cops, Puddin'. Remember?" Harley answered timidly now that her anger had subsided.
"Shit! The car!" He did remember now. It's funny how unimportant it was a moment ago, but he still had that car to worry about. Everyone would be looking for it and he was surprised they hadn't been busted yet. Obviously, a switch in vehicles was required.
"Who would like to donate their car to a worthy cause?" he inquired of the store's patrons. …No one answered. "Well, you're a rather stingy lot, aren't you?" He randomly picked a young woman from the crowd. "Keys! Now!" he ordered.
"Do we really need a new car?" Harley asked meekly. "Ours has all the gadgets."
"Harl, the car is PURPLE!" he answered in a raised voice.
The nervous woman fumbled through her purse quickly, trying to find where her keys were buried, while Joker angrily snapped his fingers at her in frustration. "Forget it!" he finally shouted as he grabbed the purse from her and stalked out the door, Harley following closely behind. Joker emerged with the keys, tossed Harley the purse, and headed for the car the woman had hurriedly indicated.
Harley began exploring the car from the passenger seat as Joker shifted out of park, driving away from the store. In the back seat she found a variety of textbooks. "Mistah J, I think we just stole a car belonging to a criminal law student…or somethin'," she commented, deciphering this simply from the books' covers.
"Well, maybe she'll wisely look into another career after her little experience."
Harley picked up one of the books, eying it curiously. "I could be wrong though. They're all written in French."
"French?" Joker asked, confused. "…Are you telling me we stole a fucking frog's car?"
"Looks like it," Harley admitted.
"Kick ASS!" Joker hung his head out of the car window and started shouting, "U.S.A! U.S.A!" while honking the horn in time with each letter, not thinking of how dangerous it was to attract attention to himself right now.
Harley started digging through the purse Joker had taken from the now established French woman and came across her passport. "Puddin', she isn't French. She's Canadian," Harley revealed, sorry to burst his bubble.
"Harley," he began in a tone that suggested he was about to pass on great wisdom. "Don't let them fool you. French Canadians are just as bad as the real thing."
At that moment, a stream of police cars passed by them as they ducked down as low in their seats as possible. Someone must have finally spotted their abandoned car. A grim realization spread across Joker's face and he sped toward the nearest turnoff that merged with the highway running around the city. Harley watched the city disappear behind them before building up the courage to ask where they were going.
Joker responded by snapping, "China, the MOON, I don't fucking know!" Harley wisely shut up and they drove in silence for awhile until he decided to pull over on the side of the road. "You drive," he instructed. "I need to think." They switched places and he started massaging his temples as though he could force an idea to surface.
It was always difficult for him to focus on one thought. Everything in his brain always seemed to be scrambling for his immediate attention. Tonight the prominent thought that was pushing anything productive out the way was how angry he was to be forced out of his city. Sure, Batman tried to claim it as his own, but everyone knew better. Batman tried to control Gotham. Tame it. Joker allowed it to exist as it naturally wished: in chaos. He knew that the city embraced him while it tried valiantly to expel the Bat. Sometimes, he wondered if Gotham didn't create him for just that purpose. And now, he was the one being forced away, leaving both him and Gotham City not feeling quite complete.
Harley drove aimlessly as she waited for further instructions. Joker was eventually able to come to terms with the reality of situation and finally spoke up, "Y'know, Lex still owes me a favor."
"Who's that?" Harley asked innocently.
Joker looked at her as though he was sitting next to an idiot. "Luthor. Lex Luthor. The multi-billionaire. You might have heard of him," he explained in an insulting tone.
Harley's jaw dropped. It never occurred to her that was who he was referring to. Of course, there had been rumors that the two of them had been involved in the past, but she, like the rest of the world, had assumed that they were started mostly by Joker just trying to mess with the successful tycoon.
"Ya…ya know him?" she asked in awe.
Joker perked up a bit at the sound in her voice indicating that she was impressed. "Oh, sure. Me and Lexie go way back. Hates Superman, y'know."
"Really?" Harley responded, thoroughly engaged.
"You have no idea. Why I remember this one time we were screwing with the Justice League from this satellite he had built. It was cloaked of course. Not nearly as fun as you'd think, floating around in space, but I was willing to go with the flow-"
"You were in space?! Outer space?!" she interrupted.
He shrugged. "We were barely out of Earth's atmosphere really, but anyway we had blown up Superman and that…green alien guy…whatever idiotic name he came up for himself…"
"You fought Superman?!" Harley interrupted again, and it was beginning to get on his nerves. She had seen some minor run-ins they'd had through the media of course, but the thought had never really sunk in until now.
"Well of course I have! Honestly, who hasn't these days?"
"But he's so big and strong and he flies and he has the ray eye…thingies," she continued, beyond thrilled at this revelation.
"Yes, the word 'super' kind of implies all that," he replied, irritated.
"Wow!" Her voice suddenly dropped to a whisper as she admitted with a giggle, "I used to have a poster of him on my wall." Joker looked disgusted, but Harley didn't notice as she continued to prattle on. "And I used to worship Wonder Woman. I dressed up as her for Halloween when I was six. Have you met her? Do you think I will?! That'd be incredible! Do you think I'm ever gonna have to rumble with Superman? I don't think I could deal with that. I mean, Batman's one thing, but Superman?..."
Joker angrily raised his foot, quickly bringing it to her side of the car and slammed the brakes. Cars behind them honked and swerved out of the way. "Now you listen to me and you listen good," he began dangerously. "You think I'm in the minor leagues? Is that what you think?! Batman can piss on Superman any day of the week. Do you understand? Despite the fact that you and the rest of the world thinks that Superman is the shit means nothing. The entire League, Superman included, look to Bats constantly with fear in their eyes. I've seen it. I hope and pray, Harley, that you meet him one day just so you can see what a lightweight he is in comparison. Superman, with his 'can't bend the rules' and flying you off to the nearest hospital as soon as he gives you bruise… Does that sound like anything Bats would do?!"
"N-no sir," Harley stammered nervously. Joker glared at her briefly before lifting his foot and letting her continue on down the highway.
Joker sighed. "I don't suppose you can be blamed. It's the media's fault. And it's Bat's nature to stay out from the public eye after all. He should consider getting a publicist."
Harley avoided the topic and moved on to their destination. "So…Metropolis?" she asked.
"Metropolis," Joker confirmed. A vacation wouldn't be so bad. At least he'd get to see the look on Lex's face when he showed up.
Gladrial's End Notes: I'd like to point out that this chapter in no way is my attempt to join the hoards of Superman bashers claiming that Batman could take him down blindfolded. (Actually, I think the winner in such a match would really depend on the situation.) I think Supes is spifferiffic but I think we can all agree that this would be Joker's point of view.
Also, we have nothing against the French or Canadians. That was simply a dig at our dear friend TheMadPuppy who brought us all together in JHQ love. We're sure she's big enough to take the joke. We love you, Marianne!
Finally, as Metropolis's placement in the country has never been truly established (it seems to be ever changing depending on the medium and the writer), we feel it important to give you some sense of geography. So, for this story's purpose, Gotham is located around New Jersey and Metropolis has been given a Chicagoish placement.
Longest. End Notes. Ever.
Sno-Chan's End Notes: They certainly were. A lotta apologizing in there too. Anyway, while the main idea for the story was originally mine (more on that in later author's notes) the large majority of this chapter was sprung completely from Gladrial's pretty little head. Everything was going great until one day she came home from work with the most awful tale of how "The Survivor" canon was screwing with this plot and she was all dramatic there for a bit until she figured out how she was gonna do it. She so crazy.