The Roar Of The Greasepaint

Author's Note: Written for the livejournal batfic_contest prompt "Make Up" in less than 500 words; first posted there on 11 March 2010.

Harley yawned and stretched, unconsciously rubbing her eyes and smearing eyeliner and greasepaint further together into a grey, claggy mess.

Realising this a second too late she wiped her hand on the stained pillowcase with a grimace and cursed herself for not removing her makeup last night, the cosmetics industry for making practically indelible greasepaint that never washed out of very expensive purple silk sheets, and the Batman. She wasn't quite sure what role the Dork Knight had in this, but he doubtless shared the blame somehow – he was always involved.

Since the pillow was already ruined she lay back down with a sigh. Harley liked to doll herself up as much as the next gal, but not for the first time she cursed the chore of it all.

In her former professional life subtlety had been key; a hint of eyeliner, a lick of blusher, tasteful lipstick. Now she coated every inch of bare skin with thick, white greasepaint – not exactly low-key, and not exactly something she could throw on in two minutes while blow-drying her hair.

Greasepaint was hot and it was sweaty. It tasted gross and stung her eyes. Somehow it got absolutely everywhere including under her nails and in her hair, clogging the delicate electrics of explosive detonators and smearing itself across angry hyenas. Not to forget ruining expensive silk sheets.

Her suffocating skin would protest at its greasy covering by breaking out into unpleasant itchy rashes; clogged pores becoming irritated and inflamed. Only during stays at Arkham where no cosmetics were permitted did she regain her formerly rosy complexion after a few greasepaint-free weeks, her gasping skin grateful for the rest.

(Strangely, being committed still hadn't made it into Cosmo's Top 100 Health & Beauty tips but she intended to write to their Beauty Editor with the suggestion.)

But despite the mess and the spots and the countless trips to the dry cleaners, as she turned to snuggle up closer to the sleeping figure next to her she knew it was worth the effort. Her Puddin' might achieve his perfect bone-white complexion without the aid of messy paints, but at least with her costume and makeup she was permitted to reflect a small amount of that perfection.

Even on that first night when she had broken into her own asylum with cheap Halloween paint covering her face, she had seen the spark of approval in his eyes at her choice of complimentary costume. And he didn't always discourage her from getting greasepaint over his expensive purple silk pyjamas…

As she cuddled closer the Joker cracked open one eye and assessed her smeared appearance with a half-awake glance. "You look like a decomposing raccoon."

Harley giggled sleepily, always amazed at how he could be cracking jokes from the second he woke up. "Aww, thanks Puddin' – that's the look I was goin' for."

Author's Note: I think my skin would give up the ghost entirely if I tried wearing a thick layer of greasepaint all day - and I don't know how professionals wear it without scratching and touching their face and smearing it everywhere. Kudos to them and their non-itching willpower!