I dedicate this, my final chapter, to everyone who even had the fancy to glance over this work of fiction. I may well continue it in a sequel or as little pieces scattered about in singular figures, but for now, I believe thirty-five is the proper number to end this on.


-:-
And sometimes you have to take your "I love you" whichever way it comes.
-2 Broke Girls.


Lighting and Thunder and the Moon-:-

He seemed far more awkward than Joan thought he had ever had the ability to be. She had accidentally seen him half naked in his cell the other night while he was changing into a fresh set of prison clothing and quite relaxed in what he thought was his solitude. When he'd seen her eyeing him on her rounds with the gaggle of interns she was watching over (Harley's day off and they were all Leland's; it was Jeremiah's ruling for it to be so) he had stiffened as much as he did sitting in front of her with eyes downcast and his hands fiddling with the cuffs of his clothing. It seemed he was trying to pluck up the courage to say something.

"Edward?" Joan asked, setting down her cup of tea (fresh from the teapot newly fixed and with cracks barely visible to the naked eye that Harley had started letting her use when the blonde was on a day off, or just in general because that horrid stuff Jervis insisted Harley drink—for her health—was becoming a fixture in the asylum that Joan felt inclined to drink, despite the way it made her face squinch at all the right angles) so she could get Eddie to look up at her own curiosity.

"I've been thinking lately," Eddie finally spoke, his usual pompousness being put away for later as he did look up at Dr. Leland, one finger tapping twice on the coffee table before him as he went on, "Maybe…maybe I should really start trying to get better."

Happy as the words made Joan, her facial features didn't move and she just nodded her head, "Oh. I'm glad to hear that. Would it be too personal to ask your reasons why?"

"No reason," Edward shrugged, that false smile turning up enough that Joan could make out the answer in his eyes as they moved from her own figure to the two newest additions of art Joan had added to her office walls (Harley's rescued erotica, only not; the visage in one piece showcasing a young nymph with sapphire eyes and crabs used as hair fixtures for her yellow locks as she laid flat against an iceberg, one nipple black against the colors of the water at her toes and the other nipple occupied with feeding a baby otter held in both hands like the most precious thing in the world. In the frame just an inch below it, it's upper left corner almost touching the frame of the sea creatures, was the figure of a naked Minotaur; his figure lean as it sat in the center of his labyrinth in a sort of shadow of light, one horn cracked right down to the base of his skull, his shins and arms bloody from a fight and eyes glancing up towards the nymph in the frame above—as if the two pieces were meant to be together rather than by themselves).


{"You shouldn't be staring."}

"Oh, hush. I'm not so much of a Philistine to simply stare at a woman. I am admiring, Jackie."

The connection between personalities of the Creeper and Jack Ryder were not known among their fellow vigilantes or even the people in the Justice League that bothered to get anywhere near the yellow skinned loon. True, the Question had his suspicions, but he never actually asked or pointed them out.

But that didn't matter for the moment. What mattered was that after that horrible fight with second rate mobsters and henchmen that thought they might be able to sweeten a deal with employers with a little favor (well, horrible for them and a little bad for their intended victim, but nothing Creeper couldn't just shrug off with a laugh, a caper and a kick like a donkey), the Creeper was finally getting a proper look from his own perspective at the lady he had both dragged away from a rather nasty chance of a fight that could've landed her in a hospital (for the second time that month) and had quite the crush on since his zaniness had come into being through a rather violent birth.

Her coat was held in his arms and quite damaged, and she huffed and hissed like a cat while she walked around the apartment he had dragged her to (Jack had screamed and given Creeper a bit of a headache when he realized it was Ryder's own home and Creeper had simply tuned him out by humming "I kissed a girl and I liked it…") so she could put on a T-shirt to replace the blouse a stupid-foolish-wretched thug had torn off of her (buttons gone and littering the ground in a back alley like a simple collection of rocks and broken glass, threads and the blouse itself also left on the ground with a little blood on the tatters) in a scuffle she'd wanted no part of from what he could tell when he'd wandered across a building and then launched himself in to help her get away.

Despite Jack's opinion, Creeper thought Harley was quite pretty. True, she was only clothed in torn pants and her shoes now, but that wasn't what he meant.

He followed her into his own living room and watched her go through the laundry basket full of shirts Jack had cleaned just that morning; Creeper privately memorizing how her breasts were smaller than they had been in her jester's suit because they had been slashed at with knives a long time ago and then had healed with layers of scar tissue, turning them from C-cups to just big enough to hold in the hand. He counted the scars along her back as well as the fresh wounds as old as four months or young as three days that seemed to dance along patches of skin that took on the colors of shadow and old fruit in convenience stores, losing count around twenty. Creeper noticed that she didn't appear to care when he looked at her front; Harley's ribs easy to count in tandem to the multitudes of lined white and pink tiny scars that seemed to try and make the one big sign of trauma that was her abdomen seem less horrible than it was (which didn't work; her belly-button was still there, but was offset and twisted wide and horrible by the engorged purple and sucking red of where numerous surgeries had taken place to contain the damage made by the hands of the madman that had, in a way, created both of the two in the living room).

When Harley finally picked out a shirt and pulled it easily over her head (little chunks of hair getting caught underneath and flying free when her head emerged from the opening in the top), Creeper was a little disappointed that it was one of Jack's extra-large black jerseys with the bottom fraying and the added memory of it being a leave-behind of one of Jack's girlfriends (that always dumped him for his personality or for talking to himself; one or the other). He just continued to smile, dreamy and completely happy in her presence.

"Were you saying something?"

"No beautiful, I was singing something," Creeper stated pleasantly, tossing her coat onto the hook drilled into the front door, it's tag catching on the metal and the rest of its black bulk sagging towards the floor and allowing the unsightly tears to become even more obvious along the arms where she'd defended herself and along the area that covered her left leg; one whole pocket flopped down and open and torn from a dulled pocket knife, "I was trying to think of a song that would forever allow me to remember getting to fight beside you."

{"Oh my God, please stop talking…"} Jack moaned from inside Creeper, Harley making a face to echo that train of thought.

"Your flirtation tactics suck, you know that?" Harley stated, getting up from sitting in an armchair that was a strange custard yellow Jack had felt obliged to purchase after Creeper had accidentally broken its predecessor, dusting off her knees and moving for the door. She really had no intention of staying in a painfully normal apartment with a guy that had stalked her every chance he got when she still wore facepaint and carried around a hammer. She raised a sleek brow when he capered around her (danced in a way, like a male ballerina and that ridiculous red boa following him as well as a tail) but didn't try to stop her as she grabbed her coat—oh, and that would be just a bitch to fix in time for work in a couple days—and hid herself inside of it like a caterpillar inside its cocoon.

Creeper resented the thought (no doubt Jack's, even if he was being a little quiet for the moment) of her being a caterpillar when he—much to the chagrin of Batman and Robin and every other hero who knew about his personalities and his intentions—knew she had already escaped that form to become something else entirely. She was a rather torn and bloodied butterfly and as such she was a lady and he opened the door for her when she made to turn the knob with the hand that had a single, deep slash from a broken bottle used as a weapon.

She stepped out first and when he followed (she knew he would; it was too much to hope otherwise), he locked the door from the inside, bounded forward and walked along the railing of the staircase she descended, one step at a time and slowly in the two-inch heels she'd borrowed from Joan that still made her rather uncomfortable when she intended to go to the Iceberg Lounge for a drink by herself (not looking for trouble, but it did find her when she was leaving that night after a couple shots of Black Maria and Fire Yang that left her warm, but never drunk).

They were on the fourteenth floor of the building, so he had a little time until she walked off into the night with the hope of (he believed she had) never seeing him again.

"Well, what flirtations would you like me to use, pretty girl?"

When he caterwauled over to the next banister and she continued mostly just trying not to fall down the stairs and break her neck, Harley sighed and reached down to remove her shoes. Chances were the stairs of the particular building they were in would not hold little dangers of glass or syringe needles, so she could carry them down the rest of the way and give her (perfect, Creeper thought, eyeing nail polish indigo and not bad at all) feet some breathing room.

Creeper surprised her again when both her shoes were off and he took them away, stuffing them into his boa and apparently not going to give them back until she reached the end of the building or answered his question.

She resisted sticking her tongue out at him and answered, stern and point blank, but not unkind, "Anything without words. Just existing works fine for most people and I'm jot horribly picky these days."

"I'm not a choice of fries or salad, honey; I'm your knight in brilliant green and red!" Creeper laughed, spinning in the air once before hanging off of another level of the stairs by his feet so he was looking down at her as she rolled her eyes and kept going; her toes never turning red with collected blood when she pressed both feet hard to the concrete, remaining white against the color of her nails.

"And I'm not a dessert," Harley responded evenly, blue eyes watching his grip when he set onto another level and sat to wait for her, catlike on the railing and doglike in patience that she really just didn't get, "So you can stop calling me honey, or cookie, or sweet-heart or whatever else I'm sure you call me in your dreams."

Creeper gasped theatrically at her, hands wringing before him and eyes bright, "You know about the dreams!"

That got a little smile out of her. It was fleeting, but it existed.