A/N: Ok so note I changed the title. Wanted to stick to the fire theme. Keep up in faithful readers!
Mad Love Series, Part IV: Set Fire to the Rain
Chapter 1: Set Fire to the Rain
But there's a side to you that I never knew, never knew
All the things you'd say, they were never true, never true
And the games you play, you would always win, always win
But I set fire to the rain, watched it pour as I touched your face
Well it burned while I cried 'cause I heard it screaming out your name
"Set Fire to the Rain," Adele
"Are you ready?"
"I was born ready."
"That's really cliché, Harley."
"Stop ruining my fucking moment, Mr. J."
"I give up with you. Let's just go." He rolled his eyes, stepping out of our car.
"What do I do wrong? I don't get it." I whined, following him onto the sidewalk. The leather of my jester costume squished loudly as I strode in front of him, "You're always telling me that I'm such a fuck-up. Every single time we go out together. It's rather annoying."
"Well, maybe if you weren't such a fuck-up, I wouldn't have to tell you that you are one." He retorted snidely, pushing me aside. His eyes were not cruel as he said these things to me, but I knew from experience that if it was between making cracks about me and eating, let's say he'd let himself starve.
At this particular moment, the two of us were outside a seemingly abandoned apartment building in the heart of Gotham. It was 3 AM, dark and pretty frightening to those not used to being out this late in a dangerous city. I never worried much, because the Joker would kick anyone's ass to the curb if they so much as looked at me the wrong way. A small comfort in an otherwise…well, let's be frank, really shitty situation.
It had been 6 months since I had left Bruce at the altar and chosen this life on the run. I can't say I didn't regret it from time to time, but I had no choice in the matter. The Joker and Bruce would still be locked in a battle of the heart if I had chosen to stay with Bruce, or one of them could be dead. Call me sentimental, but I really would prefer if no one else died because of me.
This apartment building that we were steadily approaching was our current hideout. Every couple weeks we had to move the business elsewhere, considering we had the Batman and every single working cop in Gotham on our tail. And the Joker didn't do much to throw them off the scent. We had already successfully endeavored to rob 5 banks, bribe some politicians and mob bosses, and finally, quite a few cases of general debauchery.
I had more than a few times suggested the use of my penthouse suite, but the Joker kept turning it down, calling it a ridiculous idea and a waste of my intelligence to even come up with such a plan. I guess that meant he didn't want to try it.
We entered the building, and I wiped my boots on the rug in the entryway. It had rained earlier today and my boots were all full of mud. The Joker had some sort of strange germ phobic nature, and I was not excluded from complying with his rules.
"You might want to take this off and just wash them." He suggested, eyeing the traces of mud I was leaving on the floor on the way to the elevator.
I resisted the urge to chuck the offending boot at his face, and followed him into the elevator.
It was an old, rickety thing, and scared the mortal living shit out of me every time we used it. I clung to the railing on the side of it. The interior of the elevator had, at one time, been very fine and well-decorated; now the wallpaper was peeling and the floor was covered in grime. It made me cringe that my feet (thankfully swathed in pantyhose) were touching it.
"You are such a spaz, Harley. Calm down." He smiled.
I glared at him, "This thing is going to take my life someday."
"I highly doubt that."
"I will laugh at you when it happens."
"How are you going to laugh when you're dead?"
I mulled over this for a second, "I will haunt you from the grave and laugh in your dreams."
"I could see you doing that." He conceded.
"Ha! I win."
"You never win. That's the point of this relationship."
"I disagree. This is not a relationship."
"Then what is it?" he inquired curiously.
"It is a very, very complicated partnership." I replied.
"And because we sleep in the same bed…"
"Purely a coincidence," I sniffed airily.
The elevator doors opened, and we stepped into the apartment that we shared. I dropped my boots on the floor, and flopped on the couch, "I'm becoming nocturnal."
"I've always been nocturnal." He shrugged, and crossed the room into the kitchen, "What would you like?"
"Wine, please." I groaned, rubbing my feet, "These boots really, REALLY suck."
He poured us 2 glasses and came back into the living room, "I'm sorry." He handed me my glass.
"Eh, it's not a big deal." I sighed, sipping it. My mouth curled up, "Um…did you seriously buy a box of wine again? You know it's not quality."
"What do you expect me to buy on my budget?"
"I expect you to use my bank account like I told you to." I retorted.
"I can't keep asking Jerry to take money out of your bank account. The bank is going to get suspicious."
Jerry was one of the Joker's associates who worked in the bank in which I had my trust fund. He made withdrawals whenever we needed them. We thought this was a good idea at the time, but we didn't take into account the fact that I am a spending machine. I had grown up with the reality that whenever I wanted something, I just bought it. The idea that money was actually a matter of concern was, to put it bluntly, fucking annoying.
"Oh, fine." I pouted, "You could still buy better wine."
"You're an alcoholic."
"Bitch," I downed my glass of wine, and set it down on the table.
The next day, I had to go into the city. The Joker was not interested in the outside world at all; I actually pointed out that if he didn't wear his make-up, people wouldn't probably have a clue who he was, but he didn't seem to think that I was being logical.
Whatever. I needed human contact other than him anyway.
I got off the bus (ugh, I know, the bus) right in the heart of the business district. I always enjoyed looking up at the skyscrapers and feeling like I was a little kid again, walking with my parents during Christmastime, the snowflakes lightly twirling around our heads. I felt so small next to the buildings. I looked at my reflection in the glass of the doors, realizing that those days were long over. I wondered if that 5-year-old version of me would have ever imagined the life she was going to lead. Hell, I don't think even me 2 years ago would have ever imagined it.
I passed a very familiar building on the corner, and also saw a very familiar person pushing through the crowd to get the building. Bruce Wayne.
I had to stop and watch him for just a moment. I was disguised, of course; I was wearing a large, floppy beret-style hat and big, dark-tinted sunglasses. Since it was rather cold (being late November), I had my Burberry scarf wrapped around my face. To everyone around me, I just looked like an Upper East Side woman. I figured Bruce wouldn't recognize me.
As he began to open the door, he glanced behind him, and looked straight at me. Ok, so a hat and sunglasses was a rather thinly veiled disguise. His eyes were so sad, it nearly broke my heart.
I raised my arm, boldly giving him a wave. He just turned around and quickly went inside. Was it really going to be like this forever? I suppose I didn't blame him. I was the one who left him at the altar.
I took out my phone, and went into my contacts. I clicked on Bruce's number and texted him, 'I miss you, Bruce.'
I began to walk away, remembering what I was doing in this part of town in the first place. I went into a pharmacy, buying a few grocery items and some beauty supplies for myself. I approached the counter, and paid for the items with cash. That's all I could do these days, considering I was a wanted felon and they were tracking my bank account and credit cards. Thankfully, the clerk seemed too preoccupied by the fact that he was being paid minimum-wage in a dead-end job to bother identifying me.
The clerk handed me my bag; I thanked him and left. As I got onto the public bus going in the direction of our hideout, my phone vibrated in my purse. I pulled it out. It was a text from Bruce.
'I miss you, too.'
I immediately felt a pang of guilt for even instigating this conversation in the first place, and consequently decided not to text him back. But at least I knew that he wasn't completely shutting me out of his life.
I got off the bus a block from our apartment building, and once again, stepped into the unsteady elevator, clinging to the metal railing for dear life and fervently wondering over and over again why we had chosen this building.
The doors opened on our floor, and I took out my key. I turned the key in the lock, struggling a little with all my bags. He was in the living room, reading the Gotham Times. He looked up as I walked in, "Oh, good, you're back. Did you buy Cheeto's?"
"Yeah, I bought your god damn Cheeto's." I rolled my eyes, throwing the bag to him.
He ripped it open, throwing a few in his mouth, "Oh, sweet salvation. I was craving."
He wasn't wearing his make-up today, which meant that he wasn't planning on leaving the apartment anytime soon. I had to smile at his enthusiasm for junk food.
I sat down next to him, "What's on TV?"
He glanced up at the blank television set; we couldn't buy cable because we couldn't have anything registered to our names, "I like to pretend its Grey's Anatomy."
"You're such a woman." I laughed, grabbing a Cheeto from the bag.
"It's a legitimate medical show."
"Yeah, and so is Scrubs." I rolled my eyes.
"That show isn't even that funny." He remarked.
"How do you even have the time to watch television? I would have never pegged you for the TV-junkie type." I settled back into the couch, getting comfortable.
"I had a computer." He said matter-of-factly.
"That works too, I guess." I shrugged. I stood up, heading to the bathroom. My iPhone buzzed in my pocket, and I quickly took it out, not wanting the Joker to hear that I was receiving any calls or texts. The text was from Bruce again.
'Are you free tonight?'
I closed the bathroom door, locking it. I stared at my phone for what felt like a long time, contemplating my answer. I bit my lip. I ran through the scenarios in my head. No doubt the Joker had me followed; it was just a little less now than when I wasn't with him. I couldn't exactly sneak out; he was the lightest sleeper alive. I could tell him I was meeting Pamela…she and I had sort of forgotten any of the drama that we had before. I hung out with her once in a while, pretty late at night, and went to places that were really crowded, like clubs, because people wouldn't bother to stop and recognize us.
Did I want to betray the Joker's somewhat regained trust in me by going out with Bruce? Did I really want to ruin everything I worked so hard for?
'Yes. What did you have in mind?'
I guess I'm a sucker for punishment.