Disclaimer: I can't claim a thing.

Author's Notes: This was going to be a drabble, but ended up being rather longer. Partly inspired by Batsy beating up Dr. Crane in The Long Halloween. Dunno if it's perfect, but I had fun. Also, 'Reprieve' is one of several oneshots branching off the premise that Dr. Quinzel worked with another theme criminal before Joker. This scene would be after Harl's gone rogue.

Reprieve

When nobody hears from him in three days, Harley starts looking. The Scarecrow's most recent clash with Batman has been all over the news, his escape a source of mild hysteria. She'd feel proud once he was griping over losses in front of her, bemoaning stolen notes and ruined experiments.

There are several spots Jon might go if his base isn't accessible (i.e. cops), and she checks them one by one. Nothing by the docks or Narrows, leaving a lab in Lower East. Harley stares at the door briefly, noting rust and dents before pounding out Maple Leaf Rag.

As has been the case every time previous, no answer equals permission. Hoisting her sledge she takes aim at the hinges—tongue sticking between her teeth—and lets fly.

BAM.

BAM.

BAM.

BAM.

Her obstacle snaps, slides, and falls forward. Jonathan might be upset by the trail of damage, but she knows how to bribe him. Harley advances into darkness.

Bare walls and dusty concrete mark a place of transition only. There are cobwebs in the corners and splotches on the floor. Part of her hopes he's been working. Most of her pretends the worst is impossible.

"Jonathan?" She treads lightly, listens carefully, ignores stairs for a room on this story. When she finds one the way is open. There are white tiles beneath her and a steel table ahead. On it lies Jonathan Crane, pointing a gun at her.

"Don't move."

"Jonny?" His torso is bandaged, his face slick with sweat. He blinks but doesn't focus, right arm trembling where it props him up. The shudder doesn't reach his expression. The barrel dips but doesn't drop. Harley Quinn stays where she stands. "You don't look so hot."

Another blink. His lips open soundlessly, and he takes a moment. "No?" He wears black and purple just above one shoulder, and she's not sure whether to be furious or terrified. A step forward, another, and it's easy to snatch his weapon from him. Jonathan's fingers hang limp and empty in the air afterwards. She pushes them down, shifting his weight against her body. Naturally he stiffens, starts to protest. Naturally she interrupts.

"Shut up and relax. Got broken ribs?"

Sinking into her stomach, his skin burns while a wan smile crawls across his face. "Two. The modified toxin was very effective."

"I'm sure it was pumpkin, but you can't self-treat that. Anyone help ya?"

He snorts derisively, closing his eyes. "Of course. I pay my doctor regul…regularly, in case situations like this come up. He's gone."

"Guy gotcha on morphine?"

"I don't need any."

"That's bullshit Jon. You have it stored here?"

"I don't need—"

"Why's that?"

Jonathan glares up at her blearily, and there's no reason not to stroke his hair. There's also no reason to feel guilty at how much this unnerves him. "I'm not thinking clearly. I'd prefer not to ex…what are you doing?"

"Getting revenge." He's damp under her hands. "Are you on anything?"

He stares a while before relenting—shoulders drawn loose with an exhale. "I'm alright, Harleen. I do try to take care of myself."

Carefully, as if he might explode, she kisses the back of his head. "Liar."

"Mm."

They continue in silence for some time. "Is there anything I can do?"

Lids slipping half-shut, Jonathan's next words are not quite a whisper. "I'll tell you if something occurs to me. Just…wait for now."

So she remains.