Jonathan slunk down into the seat and glared at Jervis across the table.
"This is the worst idea –" he broke off as a coughing fit overtook him. It'd been a week since the incident with Falcone but his throat still felt dry and scratchy. Jervis paid his companion's choking cough no mind as he looked round happily.
"Fiddlesticks," he announced. "How else was I to get a decent cup of tea?"
Jonathan was about to retort when a pretty young girl approached their table.
"Good evening gentlemen. What can I get you?" She smiled brightly, apparently not noticing Jonathan's glare. Jervis however leant forward with his sunniest smile.
"And a good evening to you too my dear. My companion and I should like a pot of tea for two please. English Breakfast."
The girl frowned. "You mean you want a full English breakfast with your tea?"
Jonathan sunk back further and rolled his eyes. He noted Jervis' subtle twitch and wondered if the girl would survive the conversation. The Mad Hatter got rather… irate when he didn't have his tea. Jonathan suspected it was a caffeine addiction of sorts.
"No," Jervis was patiently explaining. "I mean I want a pot of English Breakfast tea. Not Earl Grey or Camomile. English Breakfast."
At this point the girl should have simply noted it down and gone to fetch their order. Unfortunately she appeared to lack a necessary survival instinct for life in Gotham.
"It's a bit late for tea. Are you sure I can't get you gentlemen some wine? We have a particularly fine –"
Jervis stood up suddenly and slammed a hand onto the tabletop. "No! It's always tea-time!" The waitress stepped back nervously but Jonathan realised with faint amusement that she probably still didn't have any idea who she was serving. After all, she hadn't actually fled.
"Ah, I believe I should handle this," a suave voice interrupted them. From behind the slim waitress the more rotund form of Oswald Cobblepot appeared. "Go and tell the kitchen to prepare a pot of tea and scones for my guests."
As the girl hurried away, Jonathan cautiously eyed their new companion. He wasn't overly surprised to see him even if he hadn't really wanted Penguin's company. However in coming to the Iceberg Lounge it was always a risk that they'd run into the owner.
Jervis' mood changed abruptly again as he greeted the tuxedoed Rogue.
"Mr Cobblepot! How kind of you to join us. Won't you sit down?" Jervis slid back onto his own seat and gestured at the chair next to him.
"Thank you, no," Penguin declined with an inclination of his head. "Regrettably I am too busy this evening…"
Jonathan stopped listening as Penguin prattled about his various important guests. The puffed up old bird always liked to flaunt his superior position in society to the other Rogues since apparently going legit but Scarecrow never cared for it. In some ways he felt Cobblepot lived more in fear than ever before now he was trying to maintain such a high position in society. Clearly he'd been concerned as soon as he recognised his two notorious guests. The last thing he wanted was a scene. It gave Scarecrow a momentary pleasure to realise the power they now held over their host but in truth Jonathan wasn't in the mood for any dramatics. Though he would never admit it, he was currently very grateful to be able to pass unnoticed and enjoy a quiet evening.
"Jonathan?" Jervis' voice interrupted his thoughts and he started as he realised the other man must have been watching him some while. Penguin had disappeared and a waiter was approaching with an array of tea things. "Are you sure you're alright?" Jervis enquired, not for the first time.
"I told you," Jonathan cleared his throat briefly as he sat himself upright, "I'm fine."
"Good," Jervis grinned widely and quickly turned his attention to the tea pot. Jonathan stared at him. Jervis had an amazing ability to switch between two extremes, which actually suited Jonathan very well. He hated to be ignored… it was a form of childhood cruelty that Jervis referred to as being 'sent to Coventry' for some reason… yet he also hated to be pandered to. Jervis would show concern but as soon as he was reassured everything was alright, he'd quite happily leave Jonathan alone. Unless he was bored of course.
Thankfully, at the Iceberg, boredom was hardly ever a problem.
The sound of glass smashing drew everyone's attention.
"Righty-ho, ladies and gargoyles, this is a standard break and make… which is like make 'n' break only you'll get broke as we get made."
Jonathan slunk back down in his seat with a sigh as he recognized the Joker's voice. Even the screams of the patrons didn't lift his spirits. He simply wasn't in the mood for violence.
"Jewels, cash, valuables, pretty trinkets, collectable memorabilia –" Harley was interrupted in her list by the Penguin frantically trying to restore order.
"No, no, no! I simply won't have this in my establishment -"
Jonathan closed his eyes and resigned himself to the noise and disruption. Harley was arguing with Penguin… Joker was cackling happily… posh clientele were screaming with the sort of shocked scream that only came from the very privileged when they realised they weren't as immune from life as they thought…
And from across the table Jervis had started calling. "Cooey! Harley!"
Jonathan opened his eyes to see his companion was stood up and waving with a huge grin on his face. Seconds later Harley Quinn bounced up to the table.
"Hiya, Mr Tetch, Professor Crane." She turned and yelled across the room. "Hey puddin'! Guess who's here?"
Joker paused in his assault on a young couple and appeared to consider the question.
"Ash," he replied confidently. Harley frowned.
"Ash? I don't know anybody called Ash. Ash who?" she yelled back.
"Gesundheit!" He cracked up laughing. Harley raised a smile while Jonathan and Jervis shared a look. Joker was clearly scraping the barrel. Hitting the Iceberg, resorting to lame knock, knock jokes…
"Huh, that's real funny Mistah J. But look, Crow and Hat are here!"
Joker stopped laughing and glared across at the three of them. "Swell. I suppose you're robbing the joint too are you?" he growled venomously.
"Actually we were just having tea," Jervis replied somewhat nervously. "Would you- ouch!" He cried out as Jonathan kicked him firmly on the shin. Joker however wasn't listening.
"Time to scram Harley girl. It's been a blast folks." Jonathan saw the huge grin cross the alabaster face and swiftly ducked under the table. "And I mean," Joker continued gleefully while Jonathan yanked Jervis down, "a real blast."
Seconds later the building shook as whatever explosive Joker was using went off. Clouds of debris and smoke filled the lounge and Jonathan felt his throat constrict.
"Come on," he coughed, pulling on Jervis' arm to indicate they should leave too. He covered his mouth with his sleeve as they hurried out the nearest door, which turned out to be the kitchen, and tried to clear his sore throat as soon as they stepped into the back alley outside.
"Damn clown," he muttered as he tried unsuccessfully cough up the dust from his lungs.
The sound of sirens made then both scramble hastily down the alley and they didn't speak again until they were within a safe distance of their hideout.
As they slowed into a more relaxed walk, and as Jonathan concentrated on breathing normally, Jervis glanced cautiously up at him.
"I'm sorry our evening was curtailed so dramatically." Jonathan merely shrugged and Jervis licked his lips cautiously before continuing. "Still it wasn't a complete waste."
The taller man glanced down at him sceptically with a look that more than emphasised his point thus saving him the bother of talking. Jervis grinned and produced his surprise from his exceptionally deep coat pocket.
"I saved the tea pot!"
Then he laughed.
I'd really like to thank everyone who's taken the time to read this, especially those who've been with me from the beginning and haven't failed in their support. However, after very nearly two years, I think we've now reached the end.
In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:
Ever drifting down the stream -
Lingering in the golden gleam -
Life, what is it but a dream?