Scarecrow had no idea why he was doing this. What did he really expect to happen? Was he expecting Joker to reprimand Harley for getting on his nerves? He knew nothing was going to come of it, but still he thought it necessary to bring it up.
"She bothers me at every hour of the day," he grumbled. "She gets far too close to me and she fusses with my clothes all of the time. She doesn't give me a moment's peace. With the way she carries on, I'll never be able to finish my work. Shouldn't you have her on a leash or something?"
"I've considered it," Joker replied, humming and hawwing as he leaned back in the huge, almost novelty office chair. The warehouse they've been working in while waiting for the time to initiate the plan in about as run down as you can get without having the entire thing falling in around your ears and all of the furniture left in it had practically rotted away when they got there, so Joker had wasted little time in decorating the place to his own tastes. Luckily he'd mostly let Scarecrow furnish his own workspace, or else the psychologist and chemist might have thrown himself out of a window long ago. "She's always been a bit of a wild card, that one." He laughed at his own private joke, although everything was a private joke to the Joker.
Scarecrow huffed in annoyance. "If I don't get some peace and quiet, there's no way I'll be able to finish my formula adjustments in time," he pointed out. "Find her a colouring book or a particularly shiny object to relieve her boredom, I don't have the time or the patience to deal with her every day."
Joker let out an overly dramatic sigh. "Well, okay," he said as he spun around in the chair. When he stopped, he leaned across the desk and gave Scarecrow a genuinely intimidating look. "Bet this new formula had better be everything you promised me, Scarecrow."
Jonathan Crane merely tilted his masked head to the side, smiling invisibly behind it. "Everything and more, Joker."
Jonathan Crane had never had a particularly good sense of time. Ever since he was a child, hours would blur into each other with no real end and no real beginning. He operated on his own time, working according to his own rhythm, sleeping when it was convenient and eating when it was necessary. Things were different outside in the real world, where patients and appointments and lectures had always kept him adhered to a strict, meaningless schedule; here he could operate according to a schedule he made and kept, which was more often than not no discernible schedule at all. It was how he liked it- living life fluidly.
But as with all things in his current life, Harley Quinn felt the need to stick her nose into it.
As if Ms Harleen Quinzel hadn't been enough of a bother already, she'd recently taken to calling him exclusively by his first name and refused to stop even after repeatedly being asked, told and threatened. He hated being called by his first name by people he hadn't given his explicit permission to.
"What, Harley," Scarecrow sighed deeply. He'd been working on his formula all day, changing the little things, hoping for either a breakthrough or a miracle; either would do at this point. He hadn't made any progress despite his promises and it was starting to worry him. Then again, Joker apparently hadn't done anything about Harley either; he didn't expect that to make any difference to the clown prince of crime in the long run, but it made him feel a little more self-satisfied over his lack of results.
The blonde woman walked over to him, her every movement practically a skip; yet another thing about her that annoyed him to no end. "I noticed you don't have a way to tell the time," she said, her voice bordering on sing-song. "So I got you a present."
The girl reached into a bag slung over her shoulder and pulled out a gaudy cuckoo clock. From behind his mask, Scarecrow blinked at her, not quite registering what she'd just done. "I.. what?"
"It's a clock! So you can tell the time, silly," she said with a giggle. "You don't have one in here so I thought you might need one. Don't worry about putting it up, I can do it."
Kicking her high heels off, Harley climbed up onto one of the old wooden tables Scarecrow had set up around the room to hold all of his chemistry equipment. He heard and saw equipment rattling as she shifted herself to get to one of the screws sticking out of the wall and jumped towards her, ready to grab anything glass or full of chemicals that fell. He only let out a breath when she managed to get the clock hung and stepped down from the table.
"There! All done," she said, standing back to admire her own work. She then turned to the other villain, who was leaning over the table and trying to get his heart to start again. "Now I expect to see you in bed on time, mister, and eating every couple of hours." She turned to him, hauling him up by his shoulders and straightening out his clothes.
Scarecrow stood there, completely frozen for a moment. He wasn't entirely sure what had just happened, but in the far parts of his numbed brain he knew he should be really angry. After a few moments, the rest of his brain caught up and he crossed his arms, glowering dangerously at the content clown girl.
"What do you think you're doing?" he hissed. "I'm performing very delicate experiments in here! You could have destroyed everything by just- climbing up on things like that!You could have ruined my experiment, or unleashed toxic gas, or blown yourself up!" Scarecrow's voice had a tendency to rise to obnoxious octaves when he was angry, usually resulting in people being unable to take him seriously, but as he yelled at her his hands pulled away from his arms and he raised them in front of his body, extending the needles attached to his latest invention- a glove with hypodermic needles attached to a delivery system absolutely perfect for his new formula, provided he ever finished it. All in all, it gave him that extra boost of intimidation that his small, weak-looking frame needed. He didn't usually wear it when he was working, but he'd been switching between working on the formula and working on the glove throughout the day. Harley visibly shrank for a moment before regaining her composure.
"Well!" she yelled, putting her hands on her hips and leaning towards him. "You try to do somethin' nice for someone and this is how they repay ya. I don't know why I even bother!" She dramatically turned on her heel, storming out of the room with a loud 'hmph'.
He flinched at the sound of the heavy metal door to his makeshift lab slamming shut, then breathed a sigh of relief. If he'd known getting rid of her would be that easy, he wouldn't have gone to see Joker at all. Looking up at the wall, he sighed at the sight of the cuckoo clock mounted on the old screws that once presumably held whatever equipment was necessary for use in the warehouse. He knew he'd have to take it down eventually, but he really just didn't have the patience or desire to do so at the moment. Besides, how much harm could it do?
His work had always been incredibly delicate; that was why he wore a gas mask most of the time. If something went horribly wrong, he wanted to make sure he was protected from the potential noxious fumes, or the gas emitted from a working formula. He'd build up something of an immunity to his original fear gas formula, but this new formula was much more potent and he could hardly risk inhaling a dose of that under uncontrolled circumstances. Under controlled circumstances was another story entirely.
He was just about to start the very delicate mixing procedure when the cuckoo clock mounted on the wall chimed loudly. Fumbling to avoid dropping any flasks, he eventually managed to get everything sitting on the table while he tried to restart his heart. Looking up at the cursed little time telling device, he noticed that it was seven o'clock PM.
"God damnit," he cursed when he realized that the knowledge of the time of day made him feel hungry. And he was at such a delicate part of his work, too. Grumbling the entire time, he pulled grabbed his glove and walked out of his lab.
The warehouse they'd moved into was quite old and had been abandoned for quite a long time, but it was still quite obvious what the various areas used to be. The employee lounge and eating area was still fairly intact, with chairs and tables and even a refrigerator although none of them were in working condition when they'd arrived. Joker had brought in a fridge and chairs for comfort's sake, although it was still expected of anyone besides him and Harley to provide their own food.
Scarecrow was an incredibly picky eater, both in terms of the foods he would eat and the conditions under which he would eat it. He refused to eat food that had been touched by other people, wouldn't eat anything that was too greasy or too dry and was particularly sensitive about the way his food smelled. His grandmother had always called him a picky bastard, but that had just further fuelled how picky he was, if only out of spite. Thus, he had a large number of hand-made frozen foods stored in the freezer that everyone else knew not to touch under penalty of becoming a test subject for his various formulas. That particular evening, as he rooted through the immaculately labelled tupperware containers and foil-wrapped slabs of food, he decided on heating up some turkey for a hot turkey sandwich. Some of Joker's lackeys were sitting around, stuffing microwaveable TV dinners and greasy fast food into their mouths; they all determinedly avoided eye contact with Scarecrow as he prepared his food. Looking into the microwave, he cursed when he saw the mess that had been left. He walked over to the sink, grabbing some of the (mostly unused) wet wipes he'd left there in order to clean it out; he refused to put his food anywhere near anyone else's mess.
"Did you see Harley earlier?" whispered one of the goons, clearly thinking he was talking to his friend too quietly for Scarecrow to hear.
"Naw, what happened?" his friend asked, leaning across the table. They looked very much like teenage girls sharing the day's gossip.
"I dunno, but she was awfully mad a while ago," he replied. "She just about broke Frankie's neck."
Serves her right, Scarecrow thought as he opened the microwave and started wiping down the remnants of exploded TV dinners. If she hadn't bothered me I wouldn't have had to-
"-and her mascara was runnin' like she'd been crying."
"I wonder what got her all worked up?"
Scarecrow froze. Harley had been crying? Harley Quinn never cried over anything anyone said, unless that person was Joker. That couldn't have possibly been his doing, could it? He shook his head. No, there was no way. She probably went to Joker to vent her frustrations and he'd said something insulting or demeaning to her; that was the most logical explanation. He tried to ignore the goons' gossip as he finished cleaning the inside of the microwave and set his turkey in to warm up for a few minutes. As he did so, he searched for the bouillon cubes he had to make gravy to go with his sandwich; although there was no stove, there was a portable hotplate plugged into the wall that could be used in lieu of one, and a few basic cooking utensils.
As he started his cooking adventure, he heard the door to the lounge area open and slam shut. He was scared at first that it was Harley, come to smack him for being rude to her, but it was just Joker. The clown prince of crime grumbled as he sat himself at one of the tables. All of the goons looked very nervous, presumably because Joker had a habit of shooting or maiming people when he was unhappy.
"Uh.. is somethin' the matter, boss?" asked one of the two lackeys, who hadn't touched their food since Scarecrow had walked into the room. Joker sighed dramatically.
"Oh, not really, Harley is just being a massive crybaby," he said with annoyance. The lackeys looked at each other, then back to their boss.
"Yeah, we heard she was pretty upset about somethin," one of them commented. Joker leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms behind his head. "And Harley never gets upset."
"Yeah, you sure she's okay, boss?"
Joker waved his hand in dismissal. "Oh, she's fine, I'm sure," he said. "But she's not going to be if she keeps bothering me with her trivial problems."
Scarecrow inhaled and exhaled deeply as he went about making his sandwich, feeling something stirring in the pit of his stomach. Guilt? No, it couldn't be guilt, he didn't have any reason to feel guilty; Harley had been bothering him endlessly and fully deserved to get told off for it.
Eventually Joker got bored of venting to the two very attentive goons and wandered off, humming to 'Entry of the Gladiators' as he went. Scarecrow piled warmed-up turkey onto a slice of whole-wheat bread, ladled his promptly made gravy on top of it and did the same for a second piece. As he sat down, far away from anyone else in the little lunchroom, the two goons breathed a sigh of relief.
"Man, the whole place is going to shit," whispered one, still convinced that no one could hear them if they whispered just slightly quieter than normal talking volume. "What if Harley snaps?"
"To hell with Harley, what if Joker snaps? Then we're all fucked."
"You know I can hear you, right?" Scarecrow snapped, tired of the inane chatter that continued to stir the strange feeling in the bottom of his stomach. The two grunts snapped up, backs going rod straight, and fell immediately silent; nobody wanted to piss Scarecrow off anymore than they wanted to piss Joker off.
As soon as he'd picked his plate clean, he washed down his dishes and tossed them into the cleanest area he could find. He just wanted to retreat into the safety and security of his lab and be completely alone.
The cuckoo clock sounded again on the wall, startling Scarecrow significantly less the second time around. He inhaled deeply as he saw the cuckoo extend and retreat back into the old-fashioned wooden clock.
He felt guilty. There was no denying that. He kept telling himself that he had no reason to feel guilty, but for some reason he did, and it made him completely unable to concentrate. He hadn't even been able to bring himself to take the clock down off of the wall. He'd been pacing endlessly since his late dinner.
Eventually he realized he couldn't just keep walking around like he had been. He knew exactly what he had to do. He left the lab, making sure to lock the door so no curious lackeys would poke their noses into his work and end up ruining it.
Despite being an acclaimed couple, Joker and Harley didn't share a room; everyone had their own theories as to why this was, ranging from the idea that Harley kicked in her sleep to the idea that Joker was secretly gay and Harley was just his beard, but Scarecrow tended to go with the more logical assumption that Harley was just too annoying to sleep next to.
He knocked at the door to Harley's bedroom and was met with an annoyed sounding 'Who is it?'
"Hey, Harley? It's Sc- Jonathan," he replied. Everything was deadly silent for a few moments before the door swung open, and because it swung outwardly the door smacked him in the face and sent him sprawling to the floor. While he was recovering, he saw Harley looking over him.
"What are you doing here?" she hissed. "You wanted me to leave you alone, so I'm leaving you alone! Now go away!"
She was just about to slam the door in his face when he got to his feet and held his hands out in front of him in a peaceful gesture.
"Harley, I just wanted to.. apologize," he said, trying to explain himself before she completely disregarded him. "I'm sorry for upsetting you earlier. I've just been.. extremely overworked. Joker has me working constantly on my project, you see."
Harley gave him an indignant look. "Well, thank you for apologizing, but I'd still appreciate it if you-"
"I never got a chance to thank you for the gift," he interrupted. "For the clock. It's been a big help. Thank you."
It was a total lie, of course, but despite how little he usually cared about the happiness of others, it was very gratifying to see Harley's indignant look fade to a little smile.
"Well, you're very welcome, Jonathan," she said. She then paused for a moment before poking her head out the door and looking up and down the hallway. "..do you wanna come in for a minute? I was just watchin' a movie.."
Scarecrow swallowed heavily. Had there always been some deeper meaning behind the way Harley fussed over him? No, there was no way, she was absolutely infatuated with Joker.
Then again, her smile was telling him something completely different.
He knew it was a bad idea, but.. well, did he really have anything to fear anymore?
"I.. think I would, actually."
Harley smiled at him again and stepped back into her room, moving aside to let Scarecrow through. The chemist/psychologist followed her inside.
After all, the master of fear didn't really fear anything anymore.