When Charlie finally stumbled out of the bathroom and over to where Sonny was sitting, she had managed to calm herself down. She had cried a little hysterically in the stall for a few minutes, before reminding herself that she was in a public restaurant and at any moment someone might come in and hear her, or maybe Sonny would get worried and ask a waitress to go check on her. Needless to say, he did look a little concerned and was drinking an amber glass of whiskey.
"You okay?" He asked, worried.
"Yeah, sorry. I was on the phone with my dad." Charlie smiled cheerfully. She was pleased when the waiter made a beeline for them.
"Anything to drink, miss?" He asked grandly.
"Yes..." She wasn't sure. She needed alcohol, though. Badly. "Vodka martini please, with lot's of olives... please."
"Of course." He left, after producing a menu. She opened it and smiled at Sonny from over the edge of it.
"So. Your dad doesn't mind if you're out all by yourself?"
"No, he doesn't."
"Should I have met him first?" Right. Charlie hadn't told the Joker he was going out on a date. She shrugged, trying to save time to think up an excuse.
"Meh, he's pretty much a free spirit. You know what I mean?" She had to get the conversation away from her dad. "So... what do you do?"
"Well," They were momentarily interrupted by Charlie's martini arriving. She was momentarily worried they would ID her but no such luck. She figured she looked older anyways, coming to eat at a posh restaurant like this. She knocked back the martini like it was nothing, although it burned her throat. Sonny stared at her in astonishment. Charlie handed the glass back to the waiter.
"Another one, please."
"Right away." The waiter trotted off.
"Go on." Sonny regained his composure.
Sonny had graduated community college last year in Detroit, and had moved to Gotham to take care of his ailing mother. He was working at a sheet metal factory. He was 20 years old. He ate pork back ribs, Charlie got a shrimp skewer and kept those martinis coming, trying to dull the pain and fear that Two-Face had caused her. She found herself laughing and talking away with Sonny, but at the same time felt like she was walking on eggshells. She could, under no circumstances, allow him to know who she really was. So, she built a house of lies for him, recreating a grand life that was really a big, fat steaming pile of bullshit. Instead of the typical, preppy girl she wanted to pass off for she was really street kid Sin City, protege of the most dangerous man alive.
After about an hour, she was drunk.
"Haha, I love vodka." She said cheerfully, sipping from her fifth martini. "Jeez, Sonny, you're so cute." He blushed and looked pleased with himself. "Why don't you have another drink? I'm buying."
"Hell no, I'm paying!" He responded, laughing. "But you should slow down, Charlie, you're going to get sick."
"Nah!" She was about to say You should see how much me and my dad can drink! But that would lead to questions, and who knows what her loose tongue would reveal tonight if she didn't stay off topics Sonny had no business knowing about. "Thanks, though." She hiccupped. "Dis my last drink. Anyways. Promise." She laughed again.
"I should probably take you home." He replied, waving the waiter over for the bill. Momentary panic flashed through her mind. She hadn't even thought about this- how was she supposed to convince him to drop her off at the Clarion when she didn't even stay there?
"Nah, I'll walk."
"No way, are you crazy?" Her good mood suddenly dissipated and she looked at him with a look that was freakishly like her father's.
"No, I'm not." She retorted.
"Oh. Jesus, sorry."
And then she was back again, and smiling.
"Sorry! I didn't mean to sound so rude. You're right, it would be crazy if I walked home. Maybe I'll just call a cab."
"No, I can drive you. It's no problem on my part. I should probably meet your dad anyways." Charlie almost choked on her drink.
"Yeah, no," She said, coughing. "He's probably...working."
"He works late." She whipped back the rest of her martini. "Really, I can get a cab." She started to collect her coat.
"No, seriously. Please, Charlie, let me drive you." He touched her hand and she stopped, looking at him. His huge brown eyes made her feel like jelly. "I had a great time tonight and I want to drive you home. Do it for me." She thought about it. She remembered Two-Face's threat. Maybe getting a ride home with Sonny wouldn't be such a bad idea. She could just explain that her dad helped clean up the docks. Aha! Brilliant! She knocked back the rest of her martini, got on her jacket, and stumbled outside for a smoke while Sonny paid for their meal.
She found herself passing out. She had barely managed to give out directions, spilling out some half-assed story she had quickly formulated in her mind about her dad cleaning up the docks. Late at night. Charlie prayed he would buy it. He did, although a little unsuredly. She instructed him to leave her by the phone booth she had changed from earlier.
"Are you sure you don't want me to come up with you?" He asked. "There are some real freaks around here." She almost laughed.
"Nah, I'm all good. Thanks, though." She turned to look at him, and he leaned over and kissed her cheek. Blood spread through her face and made it hot.
"Can I see you again?" He asked, hovering near her face. He smelled like whiskey. She touched the collar of his shirt and felt him shudder lightly.
"Okay." She smiled shyly. "I'll call you."
Charlie got out of the car and started walking up the wooden dock.
"Hey!" She turned. Sonny was standing outside of the car. "What's your number?"
"Bye, Sonny!" She said, and giggled a little, and practically floated home. Sonny watched her walk away, and scratched his head. Weird kid. But a sweetheart. He smiled, got back in his car, and drove away, praying that she would call him again.
Charlie hadn't even thought about what she would do if her father was up- which he was. Harley was nowhere to be seen. Sitting on one of the ratty chairs in the kitchen, the only light coming from the bare bulb that flickered every now and then, the Joker sat in all his glory, smoking a cigarillo. It had been a long time since Charlie had seen him smoke. She leaned against the doorway. He looked at her. He looked her up and down.
"Weeelll, what do I have here? You look mighty fancy, Charlie-baby. Where were ya, all night?" He punctuated each word. Charlie swayed.
"I went out." She replied. "You?"
"I stayed home, what does it look like- uh?" He replied, crushing his cigarillo out on the recycle bin. "Ah, uhh, ahem, c'mere, let me take a look at ya, gotta say, you got a looovellly taste in dress, my lovely giiirl." She walked over to him and he stood up. Charlie was about a foot shorter then him, so she had to look up. His face paint needed redoing, and so did his hair. She suddenly missed doing it for him, even through all the shit he had put her through. Even though she sometimes hated, loathed and feared him, she still needed him. He was all she had, and all she ever will have. She had hated herself in Metropolis for abandoning him in Arkham, but she couldn't see anyway out and couldn't bring herself to stay at Bruce Wayne's any longer. Sure, the lodging was much nicer then this, but there was something missing from Wayne's that could never be replaced, and he was standing right in front of her now.
The Joker took her hand and spun her delicately. She smiled a little. "Jeez, do you ever look like your mother. Spittin' image." He put his arm around Charlie's waist and held her other hand. "I remember takin' your mother out dancin', God did she ever love to dance. Uh, ahem, she could definately two-step, never seen anyone look as damn good as she did, aha." He laughed a little. Charlie smiled and rested her head on her father's chest as they gently swayed together. She thought about the future as he contemplated the past, feeling his child against him and although he could barely even realize it himself, he had missed his daughter more then anything in the world.
Charlie suddenly felt like she was going to cry. She wanted to tell the Joker about Two-Face but for just one damn minute she wished everything would be okay, that everything would be normal and maybe in ten years from now she could dance like this with him at her wedding. But that would never happen, now.
He twirled his little girl gently and brought her back to him. Charlie had never felt his hand so gentle. It made her feel anxious, for some reason. She moved with him, and she was happy. Happy to be back in her less-then-ordinary lifestyle, happy to be ball rooming dancing with no music in an old warehouse with the clown prince. He pushed her away after a moment. "Ya grew up while you were gone, uh, ahem, uhm. You're not a little girl anymore, I guess." He suddenly gripped her shoulders hard, almost violently, and he dragged her up to his face. She squealed a little, in pain and surprise at his sudden turn in mood. "I just hope you don't turn out to be, uh, ah, a - a fuckin' cunt like your mother." And he pushed her away, that soft, paternal look in his eyes long gone, a savage rage now sparking. He suddenly laughed. He laughed for a really long time, until Charlie got concerned.
"Dad, are you alright?" She asked nervously, wanting to approach him but not wanting to be the object of his rage. His laughter dwindled. She didn't get the joke, if there had ever been one.
"I'm sweet as piiie, Charlie-baby. Now get the fuck to bed, ah, uhhm, you've been drinkin'. And if you were out with some asshole tonight who thinks he can fuck around with muh- my baby girl, he's got another thing comin'." He waved her off, sitting back down and fishing for his cigarettes. His face went catatonic. It was times like these where you better get the hell out of his way; he was thinking about family and when the Joker thought about family it was never pretty. Charlie prayed Harley wasn't home or she would be crippled, and went to bed herself.