At around eleven pm, about an hour later, Dr. Thomas Elliot's expensive car pulls up to the abandoned house that Selina and I are situated in. The house is nestled far away from the road, I'm surprised he found it so easily. I step through the front door to meet him, swiftly glancing around. I'm not too worried about the police, considering this house is about fifteen to twenty minutes away from Pam's hideout. Not to mention that it's hidden behind several tree lines and tucked away from the road, relatively out of sight.
"Dr. Quinzel," he greets with a bright, charismatic smile. "It's nice to see you again."
"You too, Dr. Elliot," I return, nervousness still fluttering anxiously through my veins. "You can call me Harley," I add, not feeling like much of a psychiatrist at this point.
"Well, if that's the case, then you can call me Tommy," he tells me. Please let this work, I think to myself worriedly. Please don't let him ruin everything. "So, tell me about our patient. How's she doing?"
"I think I've got the bleeding under control, but she needs fluids. A blood transfusion is what she really needs, but..." I let my sentence trail off with a small sigh. "She hasn't really shown signs of shock, not yet anyway. The blood loss is making her tired and dizzy, though. She finally stopped fighting it and fell asleep about five minutes ago."
"You've been keeping pressure on the wound?"
"Yes, we had a first aid kit with us. I told her to wrap some gauze around the wound and seal it with medical tape, but to still keep pressure on it. I think that's mainly what's helped," I inform him and he nods, thinking it over for a few moments. "The first aid kit was missing any kind of disinfectant, so other than the bandages, I've left the wound alone."
"Hmm, help me grab my stuff and we'll see what to do first," he replies, opening the trunk of his car. He pulls two hefty suitcases out of the back and I grab the two smaller ones. I shut the trunk with my elbow and lead him inside the house. The house is mainly empty, aside from the few things bolted to it, like the cabinets and counters. Other than that, it's bare of any furniture or personal accents.
"Do the lights work?" he asks, trying to make sense of everything in the dark. There's a sliver of moonlight that provides some light through the windows, but I doubt that it will be enough for him to work on Selina with.
"No, all of the bulbs are either smashed or missing. I doubt the power would work anyway," I retort. "By the looks of this place, it seems to have been abandoned for a long time."
"That's alright, I brought a pretty bright desk light with me," he solves. "Is there something we can put your friend on? The floor's going to be hard for me to work on, considering we'll be on the same level, but I'll make do if I have to."
"There's an island in the kitchen." Well, it used to be a kitchen. Food and appliances are vacant from this house. The only way that I was able to tell that it was a kitchen at all was by the cabinets. "It's dusty, dirty, and cracked in places, but it's long enough for her to fit on."
"That will do. I brought a few sterilizers and some hospital sheets to lay down," he informs me as I lead him into the kitchen. He examines the island for a long moment, then sets his bags down. "This will work. You should go get her now, while I'm sterilizing the place," he suggests. "It won't take me long, but I want to be ready to begin as soon as possible."
I nod and enter the empty living room. I shake Selina's sleeping shoulder gently, waking her up, and slowly help her stand. I can't help but notice how badly she looks. Her eyelids are heavy and her eyes are glazed. Her movements are small and weak, each one inducing a cringe out of her. It's unnerving to watch my friend, who is so... strong, be brought down like a hurt animal.
I juggle most of her weight as I help her into the old kitchen. The kitchen has changed pretty drastically in a matter of minutes, thanks to the preparedness of Dr. Elliot. There are several sheets of blue medical paper piled evenly on top of the newly disinfected counter. He set up a relatively small, but bright desk light towards the lower left side of the island. Next to it is a line of sharp, polished medical tools and a glass filled halfway with water. Dr. Elliot is also now wearing a surgical mask, a long pair of latex gloves, and a surgical gown over his clothes.
Dr. Elliot comes over and helps me hoist Selina up onto the island. She lets out several sharp exhales, but refuses to let out any other kind of sound. We fix her position on the island and try to make her body straight for the most part. As Dr. Elliot moves her left leg outward, separating it from the rest of her body, I can see it in her expression that she's trying to squash the pain, but it's just not working.
Dr. Elliot removes the bandages from her leg and drops them beside the island, having no other way to dispose of them. I watch nervously as he grabs a pair of scissors and begins to cut at her pants. The material comes off jagged and haphazard, but it doesn't seem to faze Dr. Elliot. He dips a small piece of cloth in what appears to be a surgical bottle of antiseptic liquid and dabs at the wound, wiping away the dried blood.
"Ahh," Selina cries, taking a sharp inhale of breath. "That hurts," she snaps. I'm tempted to smile in relief that her old, defiant self hasn't disappeared into the pain.
"I'm cleaning the wound," he informs her. "It's going to sting each time I do it and I don't want to put you under just yet. Not until I know what I'm dealing with." He dabs at the wound a few more times, each time causing Selina to hiss in pain. He examines the wound for a moment and then, much to Selina's obvious relief, sets the cloth down.
"There, we're all done with the antiseptic," he tells her, adjusting the light to directly focus on her bullet wound. He studies the wound for a long moment, moving her leg a few times to get a better view. "I doubt that there will be many fragments here, probably only just one," he states, more to me than to Selina, who's already beginning to fade in and out of consciousness again.
"How do you know?" I question.
"Each type of bullet makes a certain... uh, entry point, you could say. I don't know for sure what kind of bullet this is, but the entry wound isn't as bad as some of the other ones I've seen," he muses. "There should only be a crushed bullet to extract. It's fairly clean cut." He notices my expression, then adds, "Clean cut is a good thing in this situation."
"I'm going to need your help to remove the fragment. I can do it by myself if you don't think you can handle the blood, but I'm used to having a team around to help me."
"I work in a hospital full of murderous patients," I tell him flatly. I don't feel the need to mention the fact that someone had their throat slit open in front of me, I had to stop my boss from bleeding out after I watched him get shot, or that I have even gunned someone down. Blood isn't exactly new to me. "What do you need me to help with?"
"Handing me tools, moving the light, things of that nature," he replies, scrounging around in one of the smaller bags for something. "I might need you to wipe away blood or hold part of the wound open for me. Do you think you can handle that?"
"I can manage," I assure him, although my stomach churns a little bit at the thought of holding my friend's gaping wound open. "What do you need me to do first?"
"Sanitation is key here, considering this place is a mecca for germs. There's a sort of makeshift sterilizing scrub in that bag over there. Take off your coat, roll your sleeves up, and rub it into your hands and forearms well. There should be some gloves and surgical masks in that bag too. After you're done sterilizing, put them both on."
I nod and dig through the small bag that he's talking about. I yank my jacket off and set it in the floor, then roll the sleeves of my black long sleeve up. I pull a thick bottle with a nozzle similar to that of hand sanitizer out of the bag and begin to generously apply it all over my hands and arms. I snap a pair of gloves on, situate a surgical mask on the lower half of my face, then rejoin Dr. Elliot.
"Do you have anything to tie your hair back with?" he asks, setting three very long syringes on the table. Next to them, he has already laid out a large bag of saline solution, which is more than likely for an IV drip. I'm not worried about the potential IV drip, she really needs it. What I am worried about are the syringes filled with questionable substances.
"No," I reply, eyeing the medicine filled instruments carefully. I watch nervously as he begins to inject the contents of the first one into Selina's arm. "What are those for?"
"Two of them are numbing agents, we wouldn't want her to wake up and feel her skin being sliced and picked at. The one I just gave her is a shot form of general anesthesia. It'll keep her sedated and out of pain. She won't move as much either, making our job a lot easier."
"If you have anesthesia, why do you need numbing agents?"
"This is a relatively low dose of anesthesia and I don't have more of it either. It'll keep her still long enough for me to remove the fragment, but after that it won't last long at all. The numbing agents will help with the pain, as well as movement too. I'll give her one before the procedure, just in case she wakes up during it, and one after the procedure, to minimize the pain."
"The two medicines won't react with each other?" I inquire.
"Harley," he begins, turning to me with a calm expression, "your friend is going to be just fine. Trust me, I'm the best surgeon Gotham has ever seen."
I let out a long exhale, shaking off the nervousness. "I trust you."
"Good, then let's begin." He picks up a sharp, menacing looking scalpel, then turns to me with a bemused expression, but a serious tone. "I hope your hands are steady."
"I can take it from here, Harley," Dr. Elliot tells me, dropping the crushed metal bullet fragment into the half empty glass of water. I watch as the layer of blood around the bullet dissolves into the water, first tinging the area around it pink. There's a quiet, almost inaudible clink as it hits the bottom of the glass. "The hard part's out of the way. Now all that's left is to close the wound."
"You don't need my help for that?" I question.
"No, no. I'll be fine. Why don't you go take a walk," he suggests. "You've had a long night, I bet some fresh air will do you some good."
"Are you sure? Because I can-"
"Really, it's fine," he assures me. "I'm just going to do a few stitches and disinfect the wound further. I'll bandage it up nicely and your friend will be as good as new. Just don't wander off too far, because I'm not lugging your friend back into the city," he tells me with a joking smile. Behind that smile, there's a seriousness, though. He probably wouldn't be too happy if I ran off without paying him or at least promising him some form of future payment. And it probably wouldn't do me any good not to hold up my end of our unspoken bargain either.
"I'll just take a walk around back then," I inform him, unhooking the medical mask from around my face. I slide my blood stained gloves off and drop them in the pile with the other used surgical supplies. I grab my jacket off of the floor, roll my sleeves down, and then shrug the jacket on. I set my mask down on one of the counters before glancing back at Selina. She'll be fine, I tell myself, forcing myself to put my trust in Dr. Elliot. I tear my eyes away from the makeshift operation and step outside through the backdoor, which is conveniently located in the kitchen.
Cold, sharp air meets my face and it's oddly soothing. It was cold in the abandoned house, but the rush inside of it somehow turned the chill into stuffiness. I take one swooping glance around before heading straight through what was once the backyard. I break through the relatively thin brush of trees and hedges, before finding myself faced with a road.
I follow it straight ahead, glancing at the buildings beside me. This road seems to lead to some sort of abandoned, old timey marketplace. There aren't that many shops, only three or four that I can tell. The shops seem to blend in with the neighborhood houses. In fact, if it weren't for the broken signs above the doors, I wouldn't even know that they were shops.
I walk absentmindedly down the street, lost in my thoughts. "What have you gotten yourself into this time, Harley?" I mutter to myself. I'm not quite sure that exciting is the word I would use to describe tonight, nerve wracking and anxious seems more fitting. Although, I can't deny that parts of tonight were fun. Not any of the parts where the police showed up or when I had helped operate on my shot friend in an abandoned house, but something about the rush of it all is exhilarating.
Maybe that kind of rush is what the Joker was talking about, I think to myself. He was right, in a way. Although, I didn't rob a bank to achieve that kind of state.
I kick my boots along the ground, sighing as I do so. The experience overall might've been fun, but right now it's just plain stressful. Well, I suppose it's not the experience that's stressing me out, I think it's the aftermath, the unknowing. Will the cops somehow figure out who burned down one house, set fire to another, shot one cop in the arm, and poisoned both cops? Will Selina's leg be alright? Will she contract some horrible infection?
Thoughts and questions of that nature are all turning into the dull ache of a beginning of a migraine.
Just let it go, I tell myself. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. You've done all you can do for one night.
I attempt to clear my mind, then glance around me, taking place of my new surroundings. The old marketplace neighborhood has surprisingly disappeared and I find myself in front of a large, factory type building. Huh, it looks like I've been wandering around aimlessly for longer than I had thought. I glance around, making sure that I'm not too lost, but despite being lost in my thoughts the entire way here, my legs had continued to carry me in a straight forward path.
I study the building in front of me, which appears to have been abandoned for even longer than any of the other buildings I've seen tonight. A faded and crumbing sign is painted largely above the door, the letters expanding out onto the second floor of the building. It's hard to read, but I'm pretty sure that the sign says "Gotham Wool Industry." No wonder it has been abandoned for so long, I've never even heard of a wool spinning or distributing place in Gotham and I've lived here for a little over ten years.
Then, something in me clicks. You wouldn't want them to see you without the, uh, sheep's clothing.
No, that's impossible. The Joker couldn't be residing here, that would be too coincidental. He had referred to the wolf in sheep's clothing to mess with my head, not to clue me in on where his hideout is. Besides, there's no possible way I could've known about this place without happening upon it. So why would he clue me in on somewhere that I didn't even know existed?
Unless he wanted you to stumble upon it, my mind chimes. That thought is reason enough for me to step up and nervously knock on the front door. I want to laugh at the fact that I'm knocking on the door to a potential criminal hideout, but I'm too afraid that one of his goons is going to open the door and shoot me before I can get the chance to explain. I have a feeling that his men aren't the type to ask questions before shooting.
I wait for a few long moments, but no one comes to the door. I rest my ear against it, but on the other side of the door all is quiet. I don't hear any voices or movement or anything at all. It sounds truly abandoned. Maybe it really was too much of a coincidence, I think to myself dismally, surprised at how disappointed I am.
If he's not there, then what's the harm in checking it out? Several legal reasons not to do this come to mind, but they're not enough to stop me from opening the surprisingly unlocked door. The door creaks loudly and I'm faced with an ill lit building. I step inside, propping the door open with a rock to allow some kind of light in. My footsteps echo loudly on the concrete floor, making my presence easily known.
I wait, standing still for a long moment, but no one rushes at me or tries to shoot me from some hidden vantage point. Taking this as a good sign, I move further into the house, allowing my eyes to adjust to the dark. From what I can tell, the first floor has a pretty much open, and now pretty much empty, layout. I'm guessing that several large looms once took up the main floor of the building, but they're long gone by now.
There are several back rooms along the far wall and to the left of them is a set of stairs. I ignore the stairs for now and investigate the backrooms first, cursing myself for not bringing a flashlight. I open the door closest to the stairs first, finding nothing but a few bugs and a large round table, complete with chairs that look close to breaking. The room beside it contains some kind of kitchen area. Several counters, a fridge, a stove, and a coffee maker (which I'm surprised hasn't been stolen) take up most of the room, but I doubt that any of the major appliances are still in working condition.
The third and final room appears to be some kind of lounge area. Inside, there are two old sofas that are cracked and missing stuffing in some parts and a TV that looks surprisingly new. I don't doubt that the TV was stolen, but it being new means that someone has been here recently. They didn't take the TV with them either, which means that they’re probably coming back. I know that it could be any squatter or thief, but my heart skips a beat at the prospect of the Joker potentially being here.
I exit the third room and make my way up the creaking stairs. The second floor is much smaller, probably only half the size of the first. It's made up mainly of offices, or what used to be offices. From the front most rooms that I've investigated so far, the offices have been turned into bedrooms. Well, something close to bedrooms, considering none of them contain an actual bed. Instead, the beds are replaced by several bundles of sheets and blankets.
I make my way over to the far most offices, which are secluded from the rest. My guess is that they were once the manager's or the boss's offices. I open the left door first, quickly examining the room. This room is the first so far that vaguely resembles an office. A wooden desk sits in the center of the room, facing the door, but aside from a chair and a trashcan near the door, the rooms empty.
I move onto the last room to the right of it, which reveals to be another bedroom. This one is the only one that actually contains a mattress, though. I step inside, glancing closely at the purple linens that are haphazardly placed on the mattress. They're the only blankets that show even a bit of character out of all of the bedrooms. The mattress is thin, close to the ground, old, and only a full size, but it clearly belongs to the most important person who has been living here. I sit down on the makeshift bed, although I'm not sure why. I run my hand along the covers, smoothing them out absentmindedly. In doing so, my hand comes across something smooth and thin. I pick the weightless object up, holding it up to the moonlight streaming through one window.
It's a joker card.
The Joker had been here, in this very room. And from the looks of things, he isn't finished with this place. Not yet.
I reenter the house where Selina resides around fifteen minutes later, the Joker's card weighing heavily in my pocket. My thoughts are whizzing with possibilities and questions, but now isn't the time for any of those. As much as I desperately want to agonize over when he'll return to the abandoned factory or if it's a coincidence that I found the card, I can't. Not right now at least. I have to focus my attention on Selina and helping her get better.
I walk through the kitchen and up to Selina, examining her closely, shoving all thoughts of the Joker aside. Her leg has been freshly and thickly bandaged with gauze and medical cloth and the generous bandaging is held in place by several long, secure strands of medical tape. Attached to her arm is an IV connected to a fluid drip that has been haphazardly taped to the nearest cabinet. She has regained some of her color, not a lot of it, but some.
Most of the supplies have disappeared from the island and are probably repackaged in their proper bags by now. The suitcases also seem to be missing. A small bag rests near Selina's feet, but I don't go to investigate it. I'm not so sure that Dr. Elliot would appreciate me going through his things.
"Ah, Harley," Dr. Elliot greets, entering the kitchen. I must've been too wrapped up in my thoughts to hear him come through the front door. "I was worried you weren't coming back."
"I just got a little lost," I lie. "There's a pretty big neighborhood behind us as it turns out. It's a ghost town, though. Not a single person in sight."
"Yeah, it was probably the market crash a few years ago that hit it," he muses. "People tend to forget about the small towns and neighborhoods, but they're the ones that really get hit in the long run."
"That's true," I agree awkwardly in response, not sure how to bring up my next point. "Um, about payment, I don't have any money on me right now. I'll pay you back, I promise. It's too late to go to the bank, but I can go in the morning and-"
"Harley, Harley, Harley," he quickly interrupts, holding his hand up to stop me. "I don't want your money. I've got plenty of that as it is."
"Then what do you want?" I ask nervously. I had thought that money was a pretty standard payment to keep things quiet in Gotham. I had planned on losing a good chunk of money tonight, a chunk that Selina could easily get back once she has recovered. I hadn't bargained on some other form of payment.
"Consider this a friendly favor," he tells me with a smile. "You don't owe me anything."
"Does this mean you'll ask for a favor in return?" I question. If that's the case, I'm not sure how I'll be able to weasel myself out of this unknown, surely bad promise. He can't exactly take back operating on Selina, which leaves me no choice but to hear out his deal. A deal that I stupidly didn't make before he cut my friend open and saved her life.
"No, no," he quickly assures me. "I just want us to be friends. Should something bad ever happen, I'd like to think that you're on my side. You don't have to act on anything, of course, but it's a nice thought to have. Now, if you ever need my help in the future, that's another story. The first favor is always free, well, it is if I like you. Not all people get the first time perks."
"You want me to be your friend?" I repeat slowly. "But I don't have to do anything for you unless I want to?"
"I think allies is a better word," he tells me. "But yes, that's essentially what I'm saying."
"What do you need an ally for?"
"It's always good to have friends in high places," he replies. "It helps business, notoriety, and other certain legality things. Most of those don't really apply to you, unless one day you transform into some worldwide criminal, but still. It's always good to have assets."
"You know that I'm not a criminal," I point out, confused. "So why would you want me as an asset?"
"You may not be a criminal, but you'd be damned near perfect as one," he tells me with a bright smile. "You're friends with high class criminals- and yes, I know that it was you two who burned down Poison Ivy's hideout. You've got a steady hand with a blade, brains, and a pretty face. I heard from some of the Blackgate guards that you're good on your feet too. Those things will get you far in the underground industry."
"But I'm not a criminal," I repeat. "Believe me, I'm not complaining, but why not take the money or demand some outrageous favor from me?"
"It's your potential that makes me want you as an ally," he tells me with a smile. "Everyone can be bought, Harley. You've just got to know what they want, or might want for future purposes." He picks up the bag beside Selina's feet and hands it to me. "Everything she needs for a smooth recovery is in there. Try and keep her off of that leg for at least a month. I've already loaded everything into my car. Call me if you need anything else or if something goes horribly and utterly wrong."
"Wait," I call as he turns to leave. "That's it?"
"I find that business is much simpler when dealing in secrecy," he tells me, one hand resting on the door. "There are no moral complications or legal inaccuracies. It's just business. I hope your friend gets to feeling better, I know that it must be hard on you to see her in that much pain. It's typical for friends of gunshot victims to feel helpless and frustrated, so if you get like that, don't worry, it's normal. Although, you're the shrink here, I don't have to tell you that."
"I don't feel helpless," I say, more to myself than to him. I don't feel helpless, technically I did stop the police officers. I'm not frustrated either. Both of my very best friends are, in a sense, being tortured at the hands of authority figures. Pam's enclosed cell is continuously being pumped full of agonizing mist that burns her from the inside out, containing her powers, and Selina has been in pain for the last two hours and will likely be in pain for many more. No, frustration and helplessness do little to describe my feelings at the moment.
"No?" he questions, sounding faintly surprised. "Then how are you feeling?"