"Carrie Ay-Zee?"

Harley tilted an eyebrow Bruce's way, and the millionaire glanced over with a sheepish grin. It was astounding, he thought, how quickly the two had become almost comfortable around each other.

"Well, do you have something better in mind?" It was beginning to look a little overcast, but he was used to it. Gotham weather wasn't exactly attractive. In fact, sometimes he thought it rivaled Seattle.

"Well, ya couldn't do somethin' a little more subtle?" He seemed to look over at her every few moments, she realized, like he was trying to assess her, somehow fit her into a puzzle-piece in his jigsaw of a mind. She'd known long before he'd even started doing it, accustomed to the strange little peeks. Bruce Wayne was acting remarkably like a fifth grader with a juvenile crush. Some part of the good doctor was flattered. "Carrie Anne Zelluh."

He paused for a moment, unstuffing his hands from their safe places inside his pockets. To his surprise Harley hooked an arm through his nonchalantly, acting almost as though he wouldn't notice the action. He would've jerked away, too, if it weren't for the fact that for some strange reason he didn't find it all too terrible. In fact, it was something he could, perhaps, get used to—

Why hadn't it kicked in yet? He wondered it silently. Why hadn't his mind rebelled harshly with some defensive she's a criminal tactic?

"Well—that's a little better than mine, I suppose, if you want to get fancy with the names."

"It still makes Ay-Zee, it just makes A to Z without spellin' it out in a last name. See? Anne Zelluh—Ay to Zee." She grinned, then, satisfied with herself, and Bruce saw all the brightness in that expression. In its hopeful little glint, the guy wondered why Harley put up with all the Joker's guff. She was a clever woman. Hell, he might have even called her intelligent.

"We'll need a sidekick name for you. You can always be my temporary Batgirl, since mine is—" He bit his tongue, almost letting the statement tumble out of his mouth. Barbara is in college. And divulge more identities to the Joker's plaything, here? No. "—unavailable, right now."

He would have kicked himself if the risks of putting Barbara in danger were there. He was a totally different story. And then the sudden flood of anxious memories occurred to him—when Dick and Barbara returned from college, what would they have to say to him? Oh, hey, Bruce, how are you and oh, by the way, how's the psychotic clown-crook sleeping in the bed right next door? Oh, she'll be staying for a while? Good. I always wanted to get to know the Joker's kinky habits.

"I guess I could try that, for a change. It's gonna be real weird."

Weird for her? He smirked a little, truth be told, and it very nearly started to widen that continental jaw of his. He was going to be the one running around with her on his arm. How strange it was going to be, getting used to her, thinking of her like—

Like a person. Not like an enemy, maybe even not like a friend, like a person.

That wasn't going to be an easy task, but he found he was managing it quite well, if he said so himself.

"I'll give it a shot, Brucie boy."

Elsewhere, not so far away in a poorly decorated hideout


The table downstairs shook, the one that seated four men in clown masks intently trying to play a rousing game of poker. Blinky, the scrawniest clown working for the Joker in hopes he'd make a big heist, glanced over. He was, in fact, attempting to put himself through college on robbery money. So far he found you couldn't pay tuition with a rubber chicken and a bottle that sprayed seltzer, nor could you threaten your dean into free classes. This didn't work because you had to be around your dean for the entirety of college—a drive-by-threat wouldn't work like he'd thought.

So Blinky (once known as Cooper Anderson before being given over to clown-induced-anonymity) trudged his way upstairs after losing a battle of rock, paper, scissors to Bozo, Ringo and Jax.

"Y-Yes, Boss?"

The man's hysterical green eyes flashed suddenly, hotly, so much that the boy's hazel ones nearly felt as though they shrunk.

"Where's Harley?"

He shrunk, then, though, about three feet in size to his already five-foot-ten height. He wondered if Joker would notice if he just ever so casually slipped into a corner and never unfurled, tucked into fetal position and living off crumbs.

"She left, Boss, right after you kicked the shit out of her and said you never wanted to see her stupid face around here ever a-a-a-again."

"And she isn't back yet?"

Blinky shrunk again, his demeanor helpless to the smoldering green and purple monster before him. The Joker was a master of knife-wielding intimidation and was only swayed by the concept of Batman. They swore he obsessed over the creature in the bat-suit.

"Get Ivy on the phone and ask her where queen chuckles is. If she doesn't know, it's on you, buddy-boy, to look for her."

The henchman swallowed hard, washing away all kinds of tenderized anxiety with the gulp, and slunk out of the room with a heavy gait. Why did he have a feeling this wasn't going to be easy?