A/N: On one of the tumblrs I run, Twinings and I offered ourselves up for one full week of filling fic prompts for our readers, varying in length from a hundred to a thousand-plus words. The project has been dubbed the Free For All Fic For All—or FFAFFA for short. This is one of those stories—and this is the boilerplate author's note you'll see on all of 'em.
Prompt: Scarecrow comforts Harley after the Joker kicks her out; possible romance. This, like so many things, did not go the way I planned...
Her cardboard box was soggy from the rain, all of her belongings threatening to escape from the rapidly disintegrating bottom with every heavy step she took.
Harley didn't notice.
She and Mistah J. were on the outs again.
Though her head was held high, she was sniffling, and the rain did a fine job of hiding the tears streaming down her face, though little for the supposedly-but-not-really-waterproof mascara.
It always started this way, whenever she and Puddin' broke up. A day or two of sadness and self pity, sometimes much, much less, sometimes much more, a little time with Ivy, some "Ha! I didn't need you anyhow!" and then, the inevitable reunion that once more put the universe back into the order it belonged.
Harley stepped in an inch deep puddle, but barely registered the water soaking through the canvas of her sneakers and into the wool of her mismatched socks.
She probably could have gotten a cab, but there was something appealingly poetic about walking through the rain in her misery, replaying sad song lyrics in her head about broken hearts and melancholy and Blue Valentines. If she had to be unhappy (and she had to be unhappy), she could at least be dramatic about it.
She rounded the corner of one more abandoned, boarded up building, and the cardboard box finally gave up its futile struggle and opened a bit more on the bottom, spilling jacks, playing cards and tiny travel sized greasepaint tubes all over the sidewalk.
Harley stared at them for a second, huffed and stepped over them, stubbornly continuing to carry the box even though it held nothing but clothes and a whoopee cushion now.
Still, she wasn't so stubborn that she didn't start looking for a place to hang her jester's hat.
Luckily, much of this part of Gotham was condemned. Housing projects that had been started as tax dodges for LexCorp and then left to rot, unfinished, dotted the landscape, and the police barely gave this area of town more than a glimpse.
Under other circumstances, her first stop would have been wherever Red was staying, but since Ivy was in Arkham, that was out of the question. The first abandoned building she liked the look of would have to do.
It didn't take long to find one, and after jimmying the lock, she entered, choosing the first empty apartment she found with one on the door (because one is the loneliest number, naturally.)
The place was already somewhat furnished, she noted as she dumped her box on the ground, undoubtedly the leftover stuff of some poor family who'd been forced to vacate when the city condemned the building. The couch was ugly as sin, but soft, and she was tired, so she collapsed on it, face first.
She spent the first few moments just breathing in the smell of the couch cushion, and then the tears started in earnest. She curled up on her side, facing the back of the couch, and cried.
Meanwhile, less than a block away, Jonathan Crane was trying very hard not to die.
He stumbled along, clutching his side where the wound was, hoping to god the little punk hadn't clipped any of the more vital internal organs. The flow of blood was slow, but steady, and Crane cursed his own bad luck for having gassed a street gang without checking to see if they were armed first. Most of them had gone down screaming immediately, but one had lashed out with his blade and caught the Scarecrow unprepared for the white hot agony of being stabbed in the side.
It wasn't far now, he reminded himself; just a few more steps and he would be in his hideout and he could lie down on his couch and properly dress the wound—provided he didn't lose consciousness first.
Crane staggered up the steps, through the front door of the building and down the hallway, collapsing against the door of the apartment he'd claimed as his very own.
The handle jiggled, but the door didn't open. It took him a few foggy seconds to work out why.
It was locked.
He didn't remember locking it.
He slammed his head against the door in defeat, even as his free hand started rummaging through his pockets for the key he was almost certain he didn't have. All his medical supplies were inside and he was in no shape to go get more. He was barely in any shape to use the ones he had, if he could even get to—
The door swung open and he fell forward, right into the waiting arms of Harleen Quinzel.
"Doc!" she exclaimed in shock.
He didn't respond beyond a wheeze, just bled on her some more.
She dragged him inside and very distantly, he found himself surprised by how strong she was while she pulled him over to the couch as though he weighed little more than a beach ball.
(He hadn't lost thatmuch weight, had he?)
What happened next was a blur as she tore his shirt of his costume open with her bare hands and took a better look at his injuries.
"Gee, Doc, if that hole gets any bigger, you'll be a bird house!"
He spared her the glare he wanted to give and drunkenly motioned to one corner of the room where a white briefcase stood. "First aid."
"Stay put and don't wiggle," she said firmly, as though he might be harboring the secret intention of teleporting to Hawaii just to do the Charleston.
Just to show her that he didn't, Jonathan passed out.
When he came to, Harley was cleaning his wounds, far more competently than he would have ever given her credit for—and far more competently than her sobbing should have made possible.
"I just don't get it." She sniffled and dumped some rubbing alcohol on a rag, cleaning the area around the stab wound a little more roughly than he would have liked. "This is gonna hurt, by the way."
He didn't yelp, but only because she stuffed a clean black and red argyle sock in his mouth with her free hand.
"It was a perfectly good rubber chicken!" she cried, tossing the rag aside and grabbing up a tube of antibiotic ointment. "It ain't too deep, Doc—looks worse than it is."
Tears sprang to his eyes as she gently probed his injury with her fingers, smearing a thick coat of the goo on it.
"But no! I go out of my way to get a purple one and everything and what does he do?" Jonathan heard the tearing of gauze and flinched away from her touch as she started binding him up. "Kicks me out on my tuchus in the pouring rain, all because I called him Cookie Puss—hold still now!"
She began winding the bandaging around his torso tightly, still crying, and this time, the sock didn't stop him from crying out.
"I mean, does that make sense to you?"
Around and around the gauze went, and though he got the impression that she was sloppy from the way the cotton was being thrown all over the place, the bindings felt perfectly even and taught, as they should have been.
"I bet you never have relationship problems, huh, Doc?" she asked with a melancholy sign, snatching the sock out of his mouth. Harley's mood shifted suddenly, from sadness to anger. She snatched up a pair of scissors and for a moment, Crane felt panic rising in his chest. "Of course not! You're smart enough not to fall in love!"
Snip, snip! went the gauze as she taped it off.
"Not me, though." Harley ducked forward and kissed his side where the cotton was thickest, leaving a sloppy lipstick print. It took every ounce of his self control not to jerk right off the couch in pain. "All better!"
There was the rattling of a pill bottle and suddenly two tablets of something had been crammed in his mouth.
"I never knew you were such a good listener, Doc," Harley said with a sharp nod, placing a hand over his mouth and pinching Jonathan's nostrils shut. "Now take your Acetaminophen like a big boy."
He shook his head as much as he could with her holding it in place and glared at her. He did not want any unnecessary chemicals in his body, never mind how much he knew he needed them.
"You're gonna have to take it one way or ano-ther," she sing-songed, "it's up to you whether it's from the top or the bot-tom."
"Ya know, you're not so bad at this whole comforting a cryin' woman gig!" She released him and smiled brightly, putting her chin on his chest and peering up at him. "I feel better already. Thanks, Doc."
Not daring to risk anything further, he offered a puzzled but cautious, "You're…welcome?"