The Zatanna Method


Cold Nostalgia

Disclaimer: DC owns everything.

Timeline: DCU, A/U post Countdown, mentions of others

Summary: A lot had happened in the four months Harley Quinzel had been absent from Gotham.


0. Prologue

A lot had happened in the four months that Harley Quinzel been absent from Gotham.

As it had turned out, all those rumours that had been flying around just before she'd skipped town about government agencies sort of taking a leaf out of The British Empire's old play book and rounding up every costume on the face of the earth and dumping them on another planet far, far away; had turned out to be just that – rumours. No doubt, Harley figured, dreamt up by some dumb henchman who spent way too much time sitting in font of the Sci-Fi Channel.

Nah. Amanda Waller and her bosses were never going to do as something as dumb as that. They had, however, decided it was time to have yet another crack at the costumed criminal population, that part of it hadn't been any rumour. So instead of bankrupting the entire country by rounding them all up and dumping them on a prison colony a few hundred light years from Earth, they'd decided to round them all up, make like Zatanna and wipe their memories.

Harley thought it sounded every bit as stupid as the prison colony rumours.

Apparently, though, from what Harley had heard, Waller's Fresh Start Program had been a stunning success…well, kind of a success at any rate. There'd been a few bad apples that had been immune to the effects of the machine used in the procedure, and Harley didn't think she needed three guesses to work out a couple of the names included on that list. Oh, sure, Waller had apparently prepared for that very eventuality and had ordered a brand new super, duper new prison to built, something that made The Slab seem as easy to break out of as Arkham according to a few people that Harley had spoken to.

Harley wasn't sure that it would make any difference. She had too good of an idea of some of the names on that list and knew enough about them – one in particular, she knew extremely well – to know that they wouldn't take something like this lying down. Somewhere in the back of their shiny new cells, under harsh white lights with bellies full of hate and spite, their heads would be swimming with thoughts of revenge, and they had to be already planning their next move It was, as far as Harley was concerned, simply a matter of time before they broke out and raised all kinds of hell.

Harley sincerely doubted that Amanda Waller had planned for that eventuality…

As for the rest of the ninety-seven percent of the poor saps whose lives had been turned upside down by Fresh Start. Well, as soon as Waller had her wicked way with them, she'd tossed them out onto the street and into the hands of assorted social workers, psychiatrists, and relatives, who despite everything, maybe still gave a crap.

And that's where Harley came into it, or rather, had been dragged into it, kicking and screaming.

Never before had Harley lamented the loss of Holly as much as did right now. Because the way she saw it, if Holly had still been living with her then she wouldn't be in the mess she was in.

Harley blamed Catwoman for that one. She cursed the damned the flea-bitten moggy for her inability to let bygones be bygones and leave the past in the past. Oh, Holly had denied it until she'd been almost blue in the face, but Harley knew with an absolute certainty just as she knew that the sky was blue and the sun came up each morning that the first thing that Catwoman had done as soon as they'd made it back to Gotham City was to set about filling Holly's ears with scandalous, libellous and outright malicious lies about her. In short, Catwoman had turned her newly found best pal against her.

Oh, just before she'd moved out, Holly had talked some crap about Harley being difficult to live with, and how she was worried that Harley was driving her to drink in some misguided effort in trying to stop the bad blood between her and Catwoman from worsening. The way Harley saw it, Holly had failed completely.

There was no doubt in Harley's mind that Catwoman was directly responsible for her current predicament and that one day, when all of this was behind her, Harley was going to serve up the coldest, nastiest dish of revenge that she could come up with. Nothing that would get her thrown back into Arkham, of course. After all, Harley had changed, and she wasn't going to let that nasty pussy cat ruin Harley's life anymore than she already had.

And then there was Batman's part in all of this. Now that one had come as a shock. Sure, in the past there'd been way more antagonism between them than anything she had shared with Catwoman. Harley knew he could be a sadistic bastard at the best of times, that he didn't shy away from taking a heartless pleasure in watching his enemies suffer and squirm. He was no Superman in that regard, but Harley thought that he, of all people, had known how hard it had been for her to turn her life around. He'd seen her stumble, pick herself up and carry on regardless of the fact that no one else had believed in her.

Harley couldn't figure it why he done this. Dump her into an excruciating and possibly very lethal situation from which there was no way out, or at least, not one that Harley could see in the near future.

Catwoman was the only explanation she could think of that made sense. The two of them had a thing that'd been going on for years. It was funny, as Harley had never thought of Batman as the pussy whipped type. It was strange what love could do to a person.

Somewhere, Harley imagined, the pair of them were probably all tucked up in bed; sipping champagne, laughing and congratulating themselves on assisting Lady Fate in once more tapping Harleen Francis Quinzel on the shoulder, punching her in the face, kneeing her in the stomach, and then running off with her lunch money.

Well let 'em, Harley thought to herself bitterly.

Harley rubbed her face in a half-hearted attempt to clear her frazzled, half-panicked mind.

Even her favourite spot on the fire escape had yielded no answers to the thousands of questions twirling like spinning tops in her head. The cool winter air had done little to stop a million worst case scenarios springing up like jack-in-the-boxes behind her eyes.

With a sigh, Harley replayed the events of six hours ago and still couldn't get over the shock of Batman appearing at her doorstep and placing a thirty-eight year old woman, with the mind of a twenty year old botany student, who went by the name of Pamela Isley into her care.

Harley had been too stunned to even speak as he'd barged his way into the apartment and dumped a small suitcase in Holly's old room, Pamela scurrying behind him without so much as a glance in Harley's direction.

He left straight after he'd finished his bellboy impersonation without even saying a word to Harley on his way out. Not that it mattered. At that moment Harley probably wouldn't have heard him if he had.

Pamela never emerged from the bedroom for the remainder of the evening, and Harley hadn't been able to bring herself to knock on the door to ask if she needed anything, or even look at her former best friend for that matter.

Harley didn't think anyone could blame her for that.

Not after the way their friendship was smashed into a thousand little pieces when Poison Ivy tried to kill her all those months ago.

Harley shook her head again and looked up into the night sky, squinting against the pollution in a vain attempt to maybe see a star. She'd always been one to try and see the best of a bad situation even in the worst of times. But in this instance there was a knowledge deep within heart that no good could come from any of this in the coming months and days.