4923/It's A Hard Knock Life

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It's A Hard Knock Life
Date of Scene: 28 January 2021
Location: Themysciran Embassy
Synopsis: The inimitable culinary wisdom of Harleen Quinzell is dispensed upon Terry O'Neil. If he is a good student, he might be able to learn how to serve some of her specialty knuckle sandwiches and the legendary Hertz Donut.
Cast of Characters: Terry O'Neil, Kian, Harley Quinn

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    <<Harley, can you come to the Embassy?  I can't really come out.  Some stuff has happened, but I need to talk to you.>>
    For a few seconds, Terry pondered whether to tell Harley about Diana over texts, but decided such things were better relayed in person.  Also, because nobody needs Harl driving more recklessly than usual.  <<I'm with Kian in the courtyard.  He loved your hooch, by the way.>>
    Then, it was just a matter of waiting.  The redhead sits on the bench, out in the relatively sunny (for winter) New York morning.  The atmosphere at the Embassy was understandably tense, and Terry hadn't seen head nor tail of Donna since she zoomed away.  He hadn't asked questions, either, because one of the heirs to the Themysciran throne had been so badly injured as to raise a commotion. He wasn't going to be that nosy outsider asking questions in the middle of an internal crisis.
    Then it dawned on him that his obligations at the Planet might mean that, if the worst were to pass, that he'd be on ground zero of a major international breaking news event.
    And he also knows that, if the worst indeed came to pass, he'd be the one to let Donna and the Embassy announce the news to the world in their own time.  And he wasn't quite sure if Lois would respect him for that or throw him out the window.
    "I really wish I knew what's going on," Terry says quietly to Kian, going through his phone to see if any messages have come through, and through the comms.  Nothing.  "Raven must know what's going on by now… don't you think?"
    If she didn't, and he had no idea how she could not, he might have to tell her.  The idea of walking into her room terrified him.
    Kian might get a kick out of that, though.

Kian has posed:
    This is all getting a bit much, but Kían is somehow maintaining at least an outward veneer of calm.  "They will let us know what they mus'," he says without much conviction, "but I do not like the not knowin' any more than you.  Raven prob-ly knows… but I will not be the one to ask her."  He shivers, and feathers fuff out; Rae still scares him.
    He spreads and re-folds his wings, pacing, looking like he wants to kick into the air.  Ultimately, he doesn't.  "I do not under-stan'.  I haf been tol' that Diana iss one of the mos' powerful of those wit' a rhy'thar.  How coul' somethin' hurt her?"
    He paces another small circle.  "An' if somethin' could, what can we do about it?"

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    "I don't know…" Terry admits, glumly.  "She helped put Doomsday down, but just because she's one of the most powerful, it doesn't mean she's immune to being ambushed.  Diana's enemies aren't just your standard villains, Kian… some of them are gods.  The Amazons are not fans of Ares, the bloodthirsty god of war and slaughter, they worship Athena Parthenos, who is the goddess of wisdom and tactical warfare.  And then you have Apate, the goddess of deception.  Eris, the goddess of discord…."
    Yes.  Terry is a fanboy, but even Kian would have known that by now.  "If any of them caught her by surprise, they would have had the upper hand.  And that's just what I can think off the top of my head.  What can we do? I don't know."  The redhead spreads his arms and shrugs, helplessly.  "You can do more than I can.  Right now I am absolutely incapable of doing much of anything."

Kian has posed:
    Kían looks sharply at Terry.  "Do not say that, tavárik'h.  You know this worl', I do not.  You know how to combine the infor-mation we get, you are a j-jour… whatever it iss you do wit' the news.  You know where to get infor-mation, an' what it means when you haf it.  You still haf everythin' you learn before you became Vorpal; if I los' my rhy'thar, I woul' still be a resear-cher."
    He sighs, and curls a wing around Terry's shoulders, and though he does not make mental contact, there is a radiation of affection and support… and worry, too.  "I do not under-stan' how you can haf gods who are bad.  If they are gods, they cannot be bad, and if they are bad they cannot be gods."
    Someone hasn't had comparative theology added to his Earth studies yet.

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    "Your world seems to have the tendency to be reasonable when provoked, you know," the redhead says with a little smile.  "Earth has good and bad gods.  I don't know if this is unique to us, or whether your world is unique.  Heck, most dominant religions on Earth have schools of thought that consider the sexual act inherently sinful, so… make of that what you will."
    He leans back on his bench.  "Trigon, Raven's father, falls under the category of evil god.  You've met two demi-goddesses who are good, Donna and Diana.  And…."  He pauses.  "You know, by some definitions of godhood… the Cheshire cat could be considered a god in Wonderland—"  He glances over at Kian.  "So…. "

Harley Quinn has posed:
    <<More stuff?  More than MAKING OUT WITH YOU KNOW WHO?!>>
    Yes, last time Harley and Terry had been together it had been an adventure.  And an adventure that Harley was making sure to remind Terry of.
    <<Because I hope you got pics, I wanna see 'em!  *winky face emoji*>>
    So nothing like a leisure trip to the embassy on her nice lil Jag.  Such a perfect day for driving too! Snow, drizzle.  Oh, what a time to be alive in New York / Metropolis!  But at least the hyperloop makes it a lot easier.
    So eventually the sound of a fashionably late clownette is heard making her way across the embassy.  With fashionable being the key word, dressed in this dazzling top full of frills and glitter, pants in a diamond-like pattern, purple and black along with those usual sneakers in red and blue.
    "Terry and Kian!" she announces once she is in sight, opening her arms wide, "Ya may now rejoice!  Foh I have not only arrived but I also got ya some wine.  Ta drink oouh worries away."
    Yes, she imagines that a rendezvous with Terry and Kian after bad news is clearly an invitation for them to get drunkenly smashed.

Kian has posed:
    There's the mental equivalent of a wince.  "Rhy'thar'yw are very rare on my worl'," Kían says a little sourly.  "Almos' all have been made rhyták.  That iss… nnh."  Words fail him, and he falls back on mental contact: {Avatar of the Gods.  A physical manifestation of Them, or at least one of Them.  I had so many arguments with the priesthood to try to put off being made one, and it's the one thing I dread most about going home.  After disappearing the way I did, returning will make it inevitable.}
    Returning to spoken communication, he only gets as far as "I—" when Harley arrives, with all the subtlety of a magenta cinderblock.  As is his way, he bows in greeting.  "Kié, Har-lee.  It iss good to see you again.  An' I thank you for your gif'.  I am sorry that I haf nothin' to gif you in return."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    Since the Embassy is, technically, Themysciran soil, Terry doesn't have much to worry about drinking age.  "Hey Harl—" he says with a smile and an offered hug.  There is something decidedly wrong about him, though.  As Gar pointed out last night, he kooks a little bit… faded.  Hair not as red, eyes not as green, and even paler skin.  Even his smile is waner and his movements a little less precise than they usually are.  "Thanks for the booze, because we all need some hooch right now… I'm afraid I've got bad news upon bad news so… why don't you have a seat?"  Hhe pats the bench, and grows very serious.
    "For starters… we don't know much right now, but Diana's been hurt.  Seriously.  Donna took off like a rocket and we haven't been able to learn what has exactly happened, yet."

Harley Quinn has posed:
    "Worry not, worry not.  We can think o' something anotha time…."  Harley grinning towards Kian.  "Maybe when I need an avian escape from jail, eh…?"  She is joking right?  She puts the bottle of wine on a nearby table, giving Terry a li'l hug in return but arching a brow, immediately noticing the changes on her friend.  "Ya look like shit."  Always to the point!  "Like someone had taken a thousand copies o' ya in an ol' printah and the ink started ta fade."  Yep!
    She folds her arms, continuing to stand while Terry prepares himself to go over the bad news and her eyes widen when she hears right before they squint.  "Who hurt Di-Di?"  Icy-tone worthy of Killer Frost herself when she asks that, expression turning to one that would perhaps put to shame the ones she used to have during her reign of terror as the clown princess of Gotham.

Kian has posed:
    Kían glances at Terry, but this is not the birdman's story to tell.  And he's a little startled by the sudden change that comes over Harley as she receives the first helping of bad news.
    "We do not know yet," he says evenly.  "We only know that somethin' has happen, but we do not know what has happen."  He helps himself to some of the wine.  "Troia barely tol' us anythin', an' then she wen'.  To help, I assume."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    Terry isn't startled at all.  He knows the dangerous side to Harley, just as he has recently been made to recognize his own dangerous side.  "Like Kian said, we don't know… but as soon as it's known, I'll tell you immediately.  But-" he says, raising a hand, "if there's anything we can do to help bring the responsible party to justice, we should all do it together.  Someone capable of hurting Di is potentially capable of wiping our individual butts without effort, so we do what families do… fight together, right?  Because I have found out the problem of going solo by the seat of your pants."
    He leans back on his bench and sighs.  "Which is the reason why I look like shit: I feel like it.  My double kidnapped my mom and I panicked and walked into a trap.  And my double took it all from me, Harl… I've got no powers.  He's got them all.  And I guess… a good chunk of me.  Which is why it looks like I'm fading, I guess?  It makes as much sense as anything does about me.  Which… makes me think about askin' you something."

Harley Quinn has posed:
    Harley takes in a deeeep breath in a show of remarkable constraint.  "Ya know… ya lucky I have been doin' yoga with April, and just not ta show off oouh dazzlin' bodies," she tells Terry, "oh else I would had started ta break SHIT UP!"  She eyes the bottle Kian is drinking from, perhaps pondering on whether to smash it or not.  Instead she just asks him, "Let me see that…."
    She will reach over to take the bottle and take a good swig of it before handing it over to Terry.  "Drink," she tells him.  Not asking.  Demanding!
    "Yea, yea, the powah of friendship and workin' togetha and all that.  Suwah.  If I don't find the culprit first."  Which probably means Harley won't be taking to ganging up without trying her own way of finding whoever is behind it first.
    "That little shit," she says of Terry's double.  "Ya nevah go foh mothahs.  That's part o' the rules of engagement.  And what ya mean no powahs?  Nothin…?"  She eyes Terry from head to toe.  "Well, ya still alive so that counts foh somethin, but ya seem ta have somethin' on yoh mind.  What is it?" she asks, hands now on her hips.

Kian has posed:
    Kían hands the bottle over, and folds his wings tight against his back.  "It has been… a difficul' time recen'ly," he says opaquely, not knowing how far in or out of the loop Harley is.  "His double will be more dangerful now."
    Bird English—still a work in progress.
    "He also has his min', an' a better knowledge of the Che-shire than any-one, includin' his double who iss still new to it."  Although that was addressed to Harley, it seems to have been more for Terry's benefit.  "An' frien's who will stay wit' him."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    "On the plus side, Gar's arm and hand have grown back.  He's still asleep, otherwise he'd have seen you.  He kind of got worn out…" he trails off.  Dot dot dot.  He shoots a glance at Kian, and then back to Harley before continuing, "Just be careful, Harl.  We have no idea who this is, and right now there's safety in numbers.  Everything that's gone wrong lately has happened to one of us being alone."  He exhales a little.
    "So… I'm kind of defenseless against my dupe now.  I still know how to fight, but he's got all the tricks.  Which means I need to get some tricks of my own."  He hastily proceeds to explain, lest Harley's imagination lead her down the completely wrong path and suddenly she starts signing him up for dates on Tinder, or something: "You taught me the basics of how to fight.  Well… I think I'm ready for the next level.  Harl, I need to learn every single trick, dirty or not, that you've got up your arsenal, 'cause he's not going to fight by Queensberry rules, and I need every edge I can get."
    He tilts his head.  "And he was downright terrified of you. I could tell.  So much so that he hasn't come back for you, even though he has powers now."

Harley Quinn has posed:
    "Ya only been losin' cos ya ain't been usin' yoh best weapon," Harley replies in a decided manner, taking a few steps closer to Terry and tapping him on his noggle (That's his head).  "Bein' a dastardly unpredictable chaotic bein' who no one evah knows what will happen next?  And as foh that otha guy?  He's just a freakin' copycat wheah true chaos has been killed by that ZZGU bitch.  And trust me, I know.  Had that tentacular creature on my head a while back.  It's all about servin', or was… and that still lingahs.  Which means he's still shackled, while you awhe not."  Wild gestures done with her hands while she speaks.
    So she comes to stand right in front of Terry, asking him with a deliciously wicked smirk.  "So with that aaaaalllllll said…" and she gives Terry a pause before asking: "Head oh gut?"
    What kinda question is that?!

Kian has posed:
    "An' do not forget what we talk about, Terry," Kían adds.  "You may not haf to face him at all, other than to take your rhy'thar back."  He looks uncomfortable, but he told Terry he could do it, he could use his powers against the other Terry.  There were caveats, but it was permissible.
    He listens to Harley; following her speech is always a challenge, but he manages.  Barely.  He did not know she'd faced the creature that controlled the other Earth, and came out of it… well, 'sane' seems too strong a word.  Came out of it still herself.  He's never made mental contact with her.  Now is not the time, but he's curious.
    "Head or gut?" he repeats quietly, to himself, not at all following her logic.  The Alice books from Terry, those made more sense….

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    "We don't know what's going to happen, Kian.  I may have to fight.  And I'd better be ready.  In fact…."  He glances at his phone, and says, "I need to get all the tricks I can.  And that includes magic."
    He sends a quick text to Amanda Sefton: <<I'm in big trouble.  Can you meet me at the Themysciran Embassy?  Whenever you're avail?>>
    He might be bereft of his own magic, but nobody said he couldn't potentially borrow someone else's.  He glances up at Harley and says, "Gut.  If you think, you blink, and you're too slow.  If you train so everything's automatic, you react and anticipate."

Harley Quinn has posed:
    Well, the answer comes swiftly.  Good.  Not that it saves Terry from getting a GUT punch right after he says the word 'gut'.  Not exactly applying her whole strength, but enough to be felt.  She steps back gingerly, "And yoh awhe lucky ya wean't close oh woulda seen what happened ta ya."  This she says for Kian's benefit.  Clearly his answer wouldn't had been a good one!
    "Still, the point remains!" she tells Terry, gesturing and pacing about while waiting for him to recover, "Question him, absurdly oh not, keeping on the backfoot all times.  Strike first too, OBVIOUSLY!"  She wrapping her arms together after.  "It's all a question o' gettin' into his mind.  If all else fails make smoochy lips at him!  Heck, he will find yoh defenseless anyway so ya may just get an in ta get close and personal.  And then…" she nods towards Terry's crotch, "ya go foh the prize."  No mercy!

Kian has posed:
    "Kya!"  Kían leaps to his feet, shocked when Harley punches Terry.  "Ash kat'tái?"  Yes, too shocked to bother speaking English.
    One beat of his wings brings him over.  "What are you doin`? he snaps, remembering they couldn't understand him before, "leaf him alone!  He iss—"
    And this is the moment Kían grabs Harley's arm to stop her from hitting Terry again, and in his agitation also makes mental contact.
    It's a little startled noise in the back of his throat.  His eyes go wide… and then he jerks his hand away and stumbles back a step, breathing hard, staring at the ground.  One hand goes to his temple.  "c'Rhys'yw…."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    Terry doubles over.  OOF.  As he struggles to recover his air from getting Harleypunched in the gut, he tries to say something.  He's totally getting what Harley is saying, but he can't quite articulate due to his air having left him for another man, momentarily.
    When Kian reacts, he's almost got his breath back, enough to say, "No—Kian it's all right, she's expla—"
    But it's too late.  The bird has glanced into the abyss, and the abyss has blown a raspberry right back at him.  He has no idea what it is that he's seen, but he's not really surprised.  He and Harley are similar vortices of chaos, the main difference was that Harley's descent was shaped by the malevolent chaos of the Joker, whereas Terry's came from a more benevolent source.  In everything he's done, he's always tried to play a better angel to his harlequin friend, enticing her to the nicer side of chaos because the cookies are frankly better, and the dress code is more forgiving, but he never for a moment forgets that there's darkness there, too.
    As Diana could very well attest, there's frightening darkness in Terry, too.  That's why it's so important for both of them to be grounded.
    "I think we broke him, Harl," Terry says, standing up to put an arm around Kian.  "Hey… why don't you sit down and take… a swig of the wine?" he asks, patting the bird-man's head and trying to look at him in the eye to make sure he's okay.

Harley Quinn has posed:
    A raspberry with unicorn icing on top!  That's right!  One can only hope Harley's faaaabulous glittery top wasn't all mussed up with those feathery mitts!  She is perhaps surprised that Kian went off to pull her out but there's no response attack coming… she does know he is still learning about human costumes… not that he will learn much from Harley and Terry together but…!
    Though what she can't do is stop Kian from touching her and take a glimpse inside where all the rather loud voices are.  The ones pulling her to a straight path, others to the one where she lets go and just go on a rampage with puddin'-face… yet all that is mixed and mingled with 'connections' that make little sense for the sane, a chaotic jumble that only she can follow.
    "Well, shit," she exclaims about the bird being broken.  She was teaching valuable lessons here too.  "Take two swigs," she offers.  Which is a big thing because there will be barely be enough left for her and Terry!
    "Well Terry, I hope ya learnin' somethin' because this shit is only goin' ta get deepah as we train.  Don't think I am done with ya!" she says, approaching the duo but making sure to not touch either right now.

Kian has posed:
    Kían lets himself be led to a bench, and accepts the bottle, and… just stares at it a moment, as if appreciating its concreteness and physical reality.  His breathing slows back to normal, and despite Harley's suggestion that he take two swigs, he only takes one.  But it's a big one.  "Thank you," he finally says, leaning into Terry and looking at Harley like he can't believe she actually exists.
    "I am sorry, Har-lee… I did not shiel' my mind when I touch you.  Yours iss… iss… I do not haf a word for your min'.  I jus' want you to not hur' Terry tavárik'h.  He has been hurt enough recen'ly."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    Terry rubs his stomach and nods.  "Oh… lesson came loud and clear.  I know that if I'm going to prevail over him, I've got to be more Cheshire than him."  And who better to teach him the way of the mad fist than Harley?  "She's not really hurting me, Kian… it's a training exercise of sorts.  You know, wax on, wax off, polishing the deck—"  He pauses.  Then he takes out his phone.
    "Siri, reminder: Show 'Karate Kid' to Kian."
    His dutiful assistant, the height of voice recognition and modern technology, writes down a reminder to 'Show Car Ace The Kid To Tea Ann.'
    "Question, question, strike first, be unpredictable, boot to the daddybags," he summarizes, and nods to Harl.  "Got it."

Harley Quinn has posed:
    "Screw Daniel-san's lessons…" Harley says, brow shooting up when Terry starts going about the SILLY Miyagi teachings.  She shakes her head.  "We awhe goin' full cobra kai on his ass."  That's right.  And everyone knows the motto, no need to repeat it.
    A glance is given down to Kian afterwards, listening and mmm'ing.  "Not suwah if ta be insulted oh happy with a compliment.  Soooo, I will just say ya get what ya deserve foh touchin' me without buyin' me dinnah first!"  See?  There's rules for these things.
    "But we awhe both heah ta help Terry.  Though we gotta take out the kiddy gloves if we wanna help him.  His doppelgangah has gone too far.  Time to fight fiwah with fiwah."  She hitting one fist on an open palm.
    "I like yoh summary, but ya forgot the follow up to the head.  But it's fine, we will go ovah it again Terry. Till ya learn."  Again, malicious little grin on her expression.

Kian has posed:
    "I jus' wanted you to not hit Terry tavárik'h," Kían repeats, finally looking directly at Harley.  "I will help him too, but I do not see where that means hurtin'…"  And there he sort of trails off, remembering his conversation with Terry in the pendant palace, when he said he could use his powers on Terry's double.
    To help them both.
    "c'Rhys'yw, I am so very confuse."
    He leans into Terry.  "Also, I only under-stan' about a thir' of the thin's you two are sayin'."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    "I know. You were blessed with common sense and sanity, so you can't really understand us that well," Terry says, patting Kian's cheek.  "But nobody is perfect."  A slight hint of his sense of humor is a good thing, right?  "I need to stay engaged or I'm going to start fading back again.  D'ya want to go for some more in depth training?  I think there's rooms around here where you can spar, which beats doing it out here where people can get curious."
    He glances around, frowning.  "Donna's going to be pretty busy with Diana being this hurt.  Gods I hope she…."  No.  Don't think about it.  "She'll be all right.  She's Wonder Woman.  But I've got to be like Stella and get my groove back post haste.  No doubt Raven is probably going to be by Donna's side, so there goes my consultation about this soul magic bullshit… so I've asked another magic expert I know to meet me here.  Once I know my options, I can talk to the rest of the team and we can come up with a plan…"  He glances at Kian.  "Together."
    He stretches and nods, "All right, let's go.  Kian, bring the bottle.  I'm sure I'll need it by the time Harl's done with me."