871/Going Back to Gotham, Harley Style

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Going Back to Gotham, Harley Style
Date of Scene: 30 March 2020
Location: Chelsea - Miagani Island
Synopsis: Harley comes to Gotham to confront one of her inner demons.
Cast of Characters: Harley Quinn, Bruce Wayne

Harley Quinn has posed:
Harley hasn't been to Gotham in almost a month now. Since she was released from Arkham by Amanda Waller, really, and she promise't herself she weren't ever comin' back. Nothin' good ever happened to her here. A series of one terrible event aftah anothah, leavin' her in a perpetual downward spiral of misery an' psychotic breaks.

And she would have absolutely held to that too. Except someone very important told her she couldn't keep running away. That one of the few people who would get it, and could probably help her, was there and if she really wanted to get past her own demons... She ad to go talk to the Bat.

Which isn't nearly as easy as it sounds.

"Only time I evah seen B-Man, he was slammin' my head inta stuff.." She murmurs to herself, chatting up an Uber driver who was already real nervous about having her in the backseat /anyways/. Let alone the hour long conversation about how she met the Joker, and every gorey detail of her life since.

By the time he drops her off in Chelsea, his life is changed, but so is Harley's. "Yer a real good listen'a... Imma give you four'n a half... no.. no ya get five stah's..." And a 300 dollar tip.

Standing on the sidewalk in the light drizzle, beneath the omenous glow of signs and flickering street lights, Harley can't help but feel the unwelcomin' oppression of Gotham tryin' to push everything and everyone away. "Alright, now tha hahd paht... Gettin' Batman's attention wit'out brainin' someone.."

Bruce Wayne has posed:
"Had it the second you crossed the river."

The voice comes from directly overhead, where the drizzling rain and the streetlight make it difficult to look upwards. It's indistinct, despite how terribly familiar it is. Like it's coming from some disembodied spectre floating in the void.

Then a subtle flare of two white, sightless eyes, illuminated from within. There's a flicker of light from a nearby apartment building as a TV flashes through a litany of colors from some dynamic scene. It outlines Batman with fuzzy edges around a grey silhouette. Rain sheets erratically off the cloak covering his shoulders and draping atop the upper part of the streetlight.

There's a moment where Batman stares at Harley and then swings smoothly off the light post and slides down the trunk with one glove and one boot gripping to slow his momentum.

The Bat lands without a sound and draws his cloak around him so only those glowing eyes can be seen, over the disembodied twist of his mouth and the water dribbling off day-old stubble on his chin.

"Told Waller you wouldn't be back. Promised her. Can't help but notice that you're doing the opposite of staying away."

The eyeslits narrow at Harley.

Harley Quinn has posed:
"Yeh, tha's about how I figgah't it was gonna go..." Harley hears that voice and braces herself. She's an expert in protecting her head, years of being battered by friend and foe alike has taught her lessons in how to properly defend her face when being pummeled. Sometimes it's because the pummeller is just better and she can't stop the onslaught, but other times?

We don't talk about those.

When no punch lands, and the seconds drag on, Harley opens one eye and looks up at the place where she'd heard that disembodied voice. Catching sight of sudden movement, the twist of a cape fluttering in the sheet of rain, and then there he is.. Well within striking distance.

Her arm lowers down from covering the side of her skull, straightening her back out in a deliberate, but slow fashion, and standing every inch of her five and a half feet.. "Yeah.. I aint evah want't ta come back neithah.. Fuck Gotham.. but you don't make house calls.. an' I don't got ya numbah nohow." She's unarmed, doesn't even have the shoulder bag she usually carries all her trick weapons in...

Not even a baseball bat.

Which doesn't make her harmless, but certainly makes a point of trying to.

Both her hands slip into the pockets of her bright Pink coveralls. "So.. how ya been? Gotham still smells like cheedah cheese an' moldy butthole... tha's nice." Gum pops in her back teeth. Stallin'... Peej said she should come tell him what she'd told her.. How does that even //work//.

Bruce Wayne has posed:
"House calls are your realm, Miss Quinzel. Were." A subtle jab at the status of Harleen's medical license? It's hard to stay accredited as a psychiatrist when the State Medical Association declares one 'unfit to perform medical therapy'.

Or when the state convicts you as a multiple-offense felon.

"I am fine. Gotham is fine. It's safer without you and Joker. Was safer," he amends. Batman moves like he's balanced on ball bearings, with no discernable gait or stride. Just a slow half circle that either slips him into shadow or backlights him against the glaring contrast of Gotham's often antique and badly maintained nightime illumination.

"Returns to main point: You said you wouldn't be back. Now you're back. Waller won't like that."

His lip lifts minutely. A sneer? A snarl? There's an overwhelming presence of *danger* from Batman, abrupt and omnipresent. That gut-level reaction the human brain has to the knowledge that a tiger is lurking out in the bushes.

Sizing up its prey.

Harley Quinn has posed:
"Low blow, B-Man... Low blow..." Whether because of the quip about her license or lumping her back in with the Joker, it strikes harder and cuts deeper than any fist he could have thrown. Knocking the wind right out of her sails, head turning down to stare at the sidewalk when the glare of a streetlamp behind the silhoutte of darkness makes tracking the mobile shadow painful to her unadjusted eyes.

Months away may have made her a little soft to Gotham's unique lighting fixtures. Or the often cutting barbs.. But like a glove, she slips it right back on.. Which is precisely why she didn't want to come back. Familiarity is dangerous for a mind like hers. Too much bad blood over too long a history.

Association of guilt.

A crime culture.

Her blue eyes flick up towards the shadow stalking her just beyond the edge of illumination.. "Cus someone tol't me to.. Someone who believes me when I tell'em I'm tryin' ta do bettah.." She's not afraid of a fight, even if she can be startled by how quickly a fight can develop where Batman is involved.. She's never been /afraid/ of it, though. She'll throw hands, that much is well documented. As is her 0-countless record with fist-e-cuffs against the Dark Knight.

"I don't give a crapola about wha' I said ta Wallah.. She don't own me-" Yes she does. "-I told Powah Girl tha' ya wouldn't give me tha benefit of the doubt, cus ya need me ta bad bad.. Well I aint. An' tha's all I came heah to say. Everythin' ya think about me, all them judgements ya got in ya head right now.. ya' /wrong/.. an'.. an'..." She blows out a sigh, rain dripping down the side of her jaw, soaking into her white shirt. "I shoulda brought an umbrella. Freakin' rainin' all tha time heah.. Plants all soak'n, no wondah tha' tourist trade is a dyin' mahket.. Come see Gotham: Get rain't on.. mugged.. beat up by batman.."

Grumbling, "I.. I don't even know wha' she thought was gonna happen. I figgah't she had ta be right, an' tha if she was right, you'd know.. cus ya /always/ know.."

Bruce Wayne has posed:
Batman goes still. It's as unnerving as when he moves; that way that he is suddenly a statue. With that mask one can't even see the subtle flare of nostrils that suggests there's a man behind that cowl. Breathing. Thinking.

It's hard to tell if he's even living.

"Haven't laid a finger on you, Harleen," Batman points out. That omnipresent sense of imminent violence subtly ebbs away. "Not since the last time you tried to bomb the city." The topic is a hard one but there's no venom behind the words. Just a statement of fact.

"You've always defined your life through the lens of other people. Why are you really here?" he inquires, rhetorically. "Am I the one you're mad at? Am I the one this speech is meant for? Your whole career has been defined by just how little someone else needs you around. You haven't forgotten your psychology classes. The knowledge is still there."

He turns, pivots to face Harleen fully. "What's your diagnosis of yourself, Doctor Quinzel? Why are you standing out in the rain under a street light?" The cloak parts enough for a finger to point, extend, direct her attention at a dry patch of sidewalk under an access to a restaurant.

A beat, and then Batman lands his next barb with a deceptively flat voice. "Who was that speech really for?"

Harley Quinn has posed:
Harley has rare, and short, glimpse of lucidity that have grown progressively more frequent since she's left Gotham. Pictures rolling infront of a camera lines like the silent movies of old, showing her what she had been or seeing things through eyes she hasn't used in almost three years. Not that Harleen had really been all that stable... she just hid it better.

The muscles in her jaw tighten, standing out against the pale skin bleached near white when Joker convinced her to jump. She thinks about that moment sometime, the way the story gently changes the more she focuses on it. How she'll say she was thrown, but the truth eventually comes into focus, and she sees herself falling backwards away from that horrible smiling face.

Blue eyes look upwards at the Statue looming over her, rain pelting against the back of her head, soaking into her pigtails, into her shirt.. freezing rain that's colder because Gotham has no heart. It's always cold here. The whole time her hands are in her pockets, balled up gripping the inner-lining of clothe in two tight fists trying to physically ground herself and not let the omenous presence standing there shake her resolve to come what she come to do..

Then he does it anyways.

"Ha'lee.." She can't bring herself to say me, diagnosing her own failures like it's someone else laying on her couch. "She throws hu'self away foah attention tha nevah lasts.. Usin' traumatic events in hu' past ta justify tha' horrible things she does... an' not jus' to othah people, but to hu'self too.." A checkered tattooed arm drags across her face, wiping away rain from her eyes.

"I don't want hu' to be like tha' no moah.. an' I thought she wasn't.. then she hurt someone..." Looking down at the sidewalk, "/I/ hurt someone.. an' even if they deserve't it.. an' they /did/.. it brought all them feelin's back. So I come heah, an' I don't really know wha' Peej tha' was heah foah me.. but .. I guess if anyone'll get it? Wheah I am an' wheah I'm tryin' ta go... it'll be you? Cus if /Batman/-" Not Batsy, Not B-Man, "-says he can see I'm tryin'... Maybe I'll believe it too."

Bruce Wayne has posed:
Rainfall fills the silence. Gotham's weather is a complex song. The steady drizzle against the pavement. Splashes in the puddles. In the distance a rhythmic *ting ting ting* of the rain pattering against some rusty metal plate or tube. A rustle of fabric from a passer-by shaking out his jacket, collar turned up against the rain and oblivious to the conversation happening between the shadows and the streetlight.

"Differential diagnosis, Doctor Quinzel," Batman says. That language, so precise; never 'Harley', never 'Harley Quinn'.

Doctor Harleen Quinzel. Appealing to the sanity in the woman before she cracked.

"Not attention. You've had good attention. Bad attention. You don't throw yourself off buildings for the people in your life who want to help you."

"Joker has a unique brand of insanity. He's so insane that he's lucid. Life is a joke to him. A sane person can't grasp that truth. A disturbed one sees the edges of it but you'll never see the world the way he does. Chaos appeals to childish psychological states. Where there are no rules and no responsibilities and no consequences. You're a rational thinker, Harleen. You understand the surface of it. You'll never understand the depths of that level of insanity. And it will break you to try. It broke you to try."

Batman's lips thin. "If you are here because you want absolution, you won't find it. Kindness engender weakness," he says. "'Your best' is often not, and therefore your best is rarely good enough. Do not just 'try', Doctor."

"There is accomplishing a task, or failing at a task. Nothing in-between. If you learn from your mis-steps, you are on the road to accomplishment. Me telling you it is 'okay to try' is implying that it is acceptable to fail. That will not help you."

Harley Quinn has posed:
Harley glances off at the quiet lulliby of an all too familiar song sang in Gotham's streets like a harsh mother who offers rare, and short lived, comfort to her children. Even one who swears away that affection by leaving... Gotham will strike you across the mouth with the realities of how hard life can be, then embrace you and promise everything can be alright if you just stop working so hard at being better than the darkness.

New York lacks that.. Oh, it's plenty dark there too, mind. It just doesn't offer contrasts and it rarely breeds the kind of soul shaking weight of unattainablity that is a permanency here in the Crime Mecca. New York spits people out, Gotham turns them into something else entirely.

Blue eyes close against the song, listening to it form lyrics in the multi-tiered mirror of her shattered mind. Different faces, all her reflections, smiling or frowning, but singing the same song. Like the intro to the Brady Bunch where every part is being played by Harley, or Ha'lee, or Harley Quinn, or Harleen.

A trimmer runs up her spine at something said from the darkness where Batman lives. The stalwart guardian that stands at the appex of Gotham's violent affection like a cruel taskmaster keeping the worst of what this city churns out properly in its place. Like everyone else here, Batman is a construct... but in Harley's eyes, he's a Gargoyle...

Where Joker is the smiling mask. Oh the things he promised, still promises when she's sleeping, behind an illusionary jovial mask. The gilded lily. "Tha's an impossible state of bein'.. an' unattainable reality. Do or do not? It's hogwash.. literary make believe foah the single poipuse of tellin' people they can be whatevah they wanna be.. an' they can.."

She looks right up at the darkness where Batman's voice originates. "But sometimes ya gonna fail.. I jus' put myself inna cohnah... Cus when I fail, people get hu't.. when I fail, people could die. An' evne if I don't want tha', an' I wanna be right an' nohmal, I /have/ ta accept tha' sometimes Imma backslide.. embrace tha' an' learn from them mistakes.. so when I say it's okay ta try, I don't mean it's okay ta fail, cus it aint.." rolling her shoulders back, standing tall and as proud as she can muster with her make up running like a battered housewife or Bowery whore.

"It jus' means I don't gotta /quit/ when I fuck up... I don't gotta define myself by failuah no moah. I define myself by how I handle failuah."

Bruce Wayne has posed:
Batman emerges fully from the shadows as Harleen speaks. The cowl's still drawn close, revealing only boots and the way the rain scatters off of them. The Bat stops where Harley can see his features clearly, the human eyes instead of that eerie white glare that seems like a robot peering through the night.

"I'll put it more bluntly, Doctor," Batman rephrases. "Every day, do your best. That does not mean a lame effort to justify quitting later. It does not mean chalking failures up as 'random chance'. You have to learn from your mistakes. From your failures. Because you will fail," he tells her. "You will lose your temper. You'll get violent. You'll forget what you need tomorrow in favor of what you want today. You'll do foolish things to get attention you only think you need."

Batman steps closer still, that looming presence seeming to draw shadows closer and drive the light away. "Wake up every day. Plan how you will do better. Execute that plan. If you do not meet those goals, then make them your goals for the next day. That's how you chase perfection, Doctor. Do that, and my validation becomes irrelevant."

He shifts away, backing into the shadows again. Those eyes vanish and subtle flaring white replaces them. "Perfection is about the journey, not the destination."

Harley Quinn has posed:
That's new...

For a second Harley almost wants to flinch away when Batman steps forward, ready for the strike that knocks her unconscious and the morning after laying in a dirty cot in Arkham's maximum security ward... Back amongst the crazies, the Mad Hatters, the Riddlers, and the Joker. She doesn't though... her hand twitches, but she keeps them in her pockets, and her sneaker slides back in the puddle, but she doesn't curl up waiting for it.

Then he's just standing there. A man, which she knew, but not one raining down cruelty as her mind has so often painted him. Someone hurting as much as she has, for reasons different than her own, but so far beyond her grasp that she wouldn't dream of trying to pick them apart right now.. Not when the pearls of wisdom are shed off the top of what he's saying to illuminate his meaning in clearer detail.

She'd been singing the Brady Bunch themesong in dozens of different, but still her voices. So she missed the fine edge of his lesson. Sometimes she's real dense.. and sometimes she's not.

That's the coin in her pocket, the card in her sleeve (when she has sleeves anyways, it's a metaphoah.)

"I can do tha." She says, but she's not saying it to Batman. He just gets to hear it voiced. Then he's pulling back away, desolving into darkness where he belongs. She has no such luck, though.

Standing in the rain, looking around with her head bowed forward, hands in her pockets, and a little ease in her chaotic thoughts. "Foist things foist-" Some final bit of wisdom from the lucid moment that's rapidly slipping out of her grasp as solitude in her own thoughts becomes a returning constant,

"-I need an umbrella.. this rain is unmanagable.."