"Do you have a first aid kit or something like that?" I ask, following the Joker towards his office. He scratches his head for a moment, then turns, opening a door in the hallway that I hadn't noticed before. He enters what reveals to be a bathroom and flings the medicine cabinet door open. He begins picking objects up at random, studying them before ultimately throwing them over his shoulder.
"No," he mutters, flinging a pill bottle over his shoulder. The pills inside rattle loudly and the bottle clatters to the floor. "No, no, no," he mutters to himself, picking through the items. "Ah," he murmurs, throwing a small can of antiseptic spray at me. I barely catch it before he throws another item at me. This one turns out to be some kind of medical wrap.
"Thanks," I tell him gratefully.
"Hurry up," he snaps in response. "We've got a, uh, big day ahead of us." Before I can ask him what he means by that, he strides past me and out the door. I watch the bathroom door close with a sigh, then turn my attention to the medical items that he gave me. I set the items down on the sink and search the tiny bathroom for something I can use to clean off the blood.
I find some old wash clothes under the sink and although they're not the most ideal, sanitary way of cleaning off the blood, they'll have to do. I run the washcloth under the sink, surprised that it even works, and begin to lightly wipe at my arms. I wince with each tedious stroke until I can make out each of the individual claw and bite marks. From what I can tell, they aren't deep enough to need stitches.
I let out a sharp exhale as I spray the antiseptic over both of my forearms, cringing at the burning in my cuts. I puff out a breath of relief when that's over and begin wrapping one arm with the white medical wrap. I tear the wrap in half with my teeth, then begin patching up my other arm. I leave my bloodstained sleeves rolled up, not wanting to get blood all over the clean bandages.
I exit the bathroom and peek into the study, which is scattered with sheets of large paper and crumbled up papers, all of them coated with the Joker's messy, scrawling handwriting. It's in just as much disarray as I had originally imagined. Unfortunately, I don't find the Joker's looming figure in there, so I move onto the bedroom. I spot him pocketing several of the knives off of the mantle, his hands recently adjourned with purple leather gloves.
"Hey," I greet casually. "Do you have a shirt I can borrow? Mine's kind of tattered now." I doubt that he has any women's clothing lying around, but maybe some of the henchmen had girls over or something. If not, I guess I'll just have to deal with a ripped and bloodied sweater.
"Uh, here," he tells me, scooping up a stray shirt off of the floor. He throws it at me and I catch the black button up easily. It's one of his shirts, I'm sure, but I'm surprised he's letting me wear it. Then again, it is black after all, not a color he typically wears. I wonder why he even has it in the first place, then I start to wonder how he would look in black. Not bad, I decide, but I'm also fairly certain he could make any color look threatening.
I glance around awkwardly for a moment, then turn towards the corner and shrug my shirt over my head. I feel a blush creep across my cheeks as I silently hope that no henchmen come in. I slide my arms though the sleeves of the shirt and button it up quickly. It's quite large on me, hanging down to my mid thighs, but it's better than my old sweater I suppose. I ball up my sweater and set it on the floor, doubting that there's a washing machine around.
"Come on," the Joker growls once I'm finished changing, grabbing me by the wrist. In the hand not entangled around my wrist, he's holding several blueprints. I can't make out what they're for just yet, but I can tell that they aren't hand drawn. They must be blueprints of somewhere in the city. How he acquired city blueprints, I don't want to know.
The Joker leads me downstairs where most of his men are gathered. He roughly shoves aside one of the henchmen standing near the guns and then gestures at the pile. "Pick one," he tells me.
"For what?" The Joker lets out a sigh. "Alright, alright," I surrender, not asking anymore questions. I pick up some sort of black machine gun, testing the weight in my hands. It isn't too heavy. I glance up at the Joker to see if he has any quarrel, but he seems impatient if anything. I'm not so sure that I plan on actually using the weapon, but I'm surprised that he trusts me with it all the same.
"Is this alright?" I question.
"Mm-hmm," he drawls. He takes the weapon from me and throws it at a nearby henchman, who just barely catches it. "Put that in the car," he snaps, then turns to me. "We'll be, uh, leaving soon. Wait here." I watch in silence as goes up to one of the groups of henchmen, speaking to them about what I know nothing about.
I glance around, feeling somewhat out of place. I'll feel more at home once I talk to some of the Joker's men, I'm sure, but at least I'm not worried about them. The Joker had made it perfectly clear that I'm his toy to play with and that there would be certain... repercussions if they chose to disobey that rule. Unless the Joker someday decides to throw me away (which I doubt and hope that won't happen), then I'm practically untouchable. The thought's reassuring at least, considering there's no telling what these men would do to me if I was just some other broad.
I shake the thought from my mind and sit down on the cold concrete floor. The Joker had told me to stay here and I have no intention of breaking the command. Instead, I set my sights on watching the henchmen in front of me. As I glance around, I spot two sets of familiar paws padding towards me. The two German Shepard's sit down in front of me and I have to admit that they're kind of cute now that they aren't attacking me.
The lighter of the two nudges my right arm with a whine. A grin stretches across my face, but I can't help it. "I know you didn't mean to," I tell them absentmindedly. "You were just doing your job, that's all. Hmm, now which one of you is which?" I question aloud, noticing their lack of collars. "Bud?" I question, hoping I remembered correctly.
The darker of the two nudges my knee, so I turn to the lighter one. "Lou?" The lighter one nudges my other knee in response. "You two are smart," I tell them knowingly, although they probably have no idea what I'm saying. "I'm Harley. Harrrrleeeeeey," I pronounce, pointing to myself.
You sound insane, I think to myself. No, you must be insane. Instead of trying to talk to anyone here, you're making friends with dogs. I laugh at the thought, holding my hand out towards the dogs cautiously, seeing if they'll let me pet them. Lou hunkers down first, allowing me to pet the top of his head. Seeing his pal do it, Bud follows in suit, allowing me to fondly scratch his head as well. These dogs are nicer and will probably last longer than anyone here anyway.
I toy with the dogs for a while, absentmindedly talking to them and petting them. They turned out to be real softies on the inside, or maybe they just took a liking to me. I don't know, but either way I'm glad that I'm not their enemy anymore. I have to admit that the dogs have started to grow on me as well and I make a mental note to pick up some dog food at the store when I get a chance. I doubt that the men here properly feed themselves, let alone two big dogs.
"Having fun?" the Joker asks, stepping in front of me.
"Lots," I reply, standing up with a grin. "This is Bud and Lou."
"Mm, so I've heard," he mutters. He doesn't seem to necessarily hate the dogs, but I doubt that he likes them either. I never took him for a pet person anyway. "It's show time," he tells me with a grin, his pitch rising in excitement. "Come with me."
"If you want to live," I add jokingly, refraining from adding the Schwarzenegger accent, not sure why that line popped into my head. The Joker chuckles as he grabs me by the wrist again and I glance up at him, surprised that he caught the reference at all. He leads me into one of the large white vans parked outside of the factory and I sit down on one of the benches that replace the seating. The Joker slides in beside me and slams the door shut behind him, making it clear that the van is full, even if there are still some seats left.
Excluding myself and the Joker, there's only five other people in the van with us, including the driver. As the car drifts forward, I glance through the back windshield to see that there isn't another car following us. Huh, I had expected more backup, but I don't doubt the Joker's ability with less men. I'm sure he can dominate a room with five armed men just as easily as he could with twenty.
One of the goons tosses me the gun I had picked out earlier and a clown mask. I set the gun carefully in my lap and look down at the clown mask. I glance up at the Joker, one eyebrow raised. I said that I wanted to help him in his crimes, not dress up like his henchmen.
"It's not time for your, uh, unveiling," he informs me. I'm not quite sure how I expected to help him without hiding behind a mask. Perhaps it's more convenient if I'm not known just yet. Although, I think that maybe part of me had thought that I would take on my own criminal persona once I joined him. He had taken to the nickname Harley Quinn after all. I guess I'll just have to wait and see what's in store for my "unveiling," assuming he has some sort of plan.
"Where are we going?" I finally ask after a few moments of silence. The four goons sitting in the back with us look at me sharply, worry and surprise fleeting through their faces. They soon wipe their faces clean of any expression and avert their eyes, avoiding the Joker's gaze. I don't blame them, though. I'd probably be worried too if I were in their position. However, from my current predicament at the moment, I'm not too worried. I'm confident that the Joker knows what he's doing, for the most part at least.
"To the First National Bank of Gotham," he replies casually, pocketing several clips of ammo. "I need to make a, uh, withdrawal."
Ah, so we're robbing a bank then. "What's my job?"
"You're going to, uh, supervise." Supervise? What is there to supervise? They're robbing a bank, not managing a supermarket. The Joker himself is going to be there, what does that leave me to look over?
"What do you mean by supervise?" I question.
"You get to make sure that these gentlemen," he gestures to the men around us, "do their job. And if they don't, make sure it isn't, uh, pretty." The Joker pulls a black duffel bag out from beneath the bench and hands it to me. "Put the gun in there and put the mask on. You won't need it until later."
I oblige, although I don't see why I wouldn't need the gun right away. I snap the rubber mask on my face, which smells of smoke and something metallic. Probably blood. I try my best not to think about it. The rest of the car ride is mostly quiet, aside from the Joker's occasional muttering and the goons grumbling. It takes about fifteen more minutes for us to reach the bank, but once we do, the car rolls past it. I turn to the Joker in worry, but he seems calm about the ordeal. What isn't he telling me?
The van parks in the empty parking lot of the building beside the bank, which appears to be some kind of tall office building. Two goons get out of the car, bags slung over their shoulders. I sit uncertainly and the Joker impatiently and roughly shoves me out of the van. I stumble a bit, holding onto the frame of the door for support, then set my feet firmly down on the asphalt.
"Aren't you coming?" I ask, noticing that the Joker and the other goons are still sitting.
"No, no, no. We've got the bank to take care of," he informs me.
"The bank?" I repeat in confusion. "Isn't that where we're all going?"
"Harley, Harley, Harley," he says with a sigh. "Robbing a bank isn't so, uh, simple. You'll see." He grabs me by the collar of my borrowed shirt and pulls me towards him. His lips brush up against the side of my head and I can feel his hot breath in my ear. "Make sure they slaughter each other, would ya?" With that last comment lingering in my ear, he slams the van door shut and it quickly speeds off towards the bank.
"What'd he say?" the first goon asks.
"Uh, nothing. He just told me to be careful," I lie.
"The Joker told you to be careful?" he repeats incredulously. "You're joking."
"Me, never," I divert, shrugging my jacket on. I pull my gloves out of my pocket and snap them on my hands. "What are we doing here?"
"We need to get to the roof of the bank," the second one informs me. "So, we're going to go up to one of these offices and zip line across. Come on, we don't have all day." While I'm stuck nervously on the idea of zip lining from building to building, the two goons lead me up to the seventh floor of the building, where they hastily break into one of the locked offices facing the bank.
They all shove into the room somewhat violently and the second goon quickly opens his bag. He pulls out a thick shotgun of sorts and aims it at the window. The gun fires and the large glass window shatters, falling to the ground seven stories below. Next, the goon pulls what looks like a grappling hook out of his bag and fires it at the roof of the bank, which is a good twenty feet away. They attach the end of the grappling hook to the roof of the room we're in and the first goon pulls several belt like objects out of his bag.
"Give me your bag," he demands and I hand it to him silently. He wraps the strap around the black zip line and gives it a hard shove. The bag spirals down the slope of the line and lands safely on top of the bank. He does the same with the one other bag they brought, then turns to me. "That is how we get across. You need to put one of these on."
He hands me a zip line belt that I snuggly loop around my thighs and waist before snapping it firmly into place. The harness is uncomfortable, but it makes me feel somewhat safer about the drop down to the building below. I've never been afraid of heights, but I've had some not-so-pleasant occurrences with them in the past. Thoughts of nearly falling to my death on Christmas Eve don't help.
"Ladies first," the second goon announces, gesturing to the line.
"You're out of your mind if you think I'm going first," I reply flatly. There's absolutely no way that I'm willingly testing the line out. For all I know, it could be rigged to kill me. I don't think that the Joker would do that to me, but I'm certainly not taking the chance. "I'll go second, but I'm sure as hell not testing the line out first."
"Pain in the ass," the first goon grumbles. "Fine, I'll go first," he surrenders, attaching the clip on his belt to the top of the zip line. I watch him, trying to figure out how I should go about getting across now that I'm sure it isn't a trap. The goon lands safely on the roof, stumbling a bit, then waves me over. I hook my belt to the line and grip it tightly, my hands shaking slightly. I push off and I do the worst possible thing for my nerves. I look down.
Traffic races down below on a busy street and there's nothing but concrete seven stories down. If I fall, I'm done for. There are no caped crusaders around during the day and Catwoman has a hole in her leg. If I fell, no one would be around to save me.
What have you gotten yourself into, Harley? I think to myself as I slide increasingly faster towards the bank.
My feet skid on the graveled rooftop of the bank and I stumble a bit, trying to firmly set myself on my feet. Once I'm somewhat upright, I unclip my belt from the zip line and unhook it from around me. I take a deep breath, gathering myself as a course of adrenaline runs through me. The trip over here wasn't exactly fun per say, but it certainly was exciting.
The second and final goon slides down the zip line with ease as I toss my harness type belt on top of the first goon's. The second goon lands with more grace than me and quickly undoes his harness, unaffected by the sail over the city. He goes to stand behind the first goon, who's messing with some sort of electrical box.
"What are you doing?" I ask.
"Stopping the phone and alarm signals," he mumbles, intent on his chore. "That way no one can dial out from their office phone. Here comes the silent alarm," he mutters, touching two wires together with ease.
"Don't you guys want the cops to show up?" I question, confused. "Isn't that the point, for everyone to find out about it?"
"Yeah, but not while we're here," the second one snaps. "We want to get away first, not get barricaded in by the cops." He sighs impatiently and I raise an eyebrow. Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed today. "Are you almost done?" he snaps at the first goon.
"Yeah," he replies, at ease. He pulls down one of the small levers. "There I'm done. Calm down-"
The first goon slumps against the electrical box, a single bullet wound to the back of his head. The second goon shoves his handgun back into his waistband and covers it with his jacket, which is where it's probably been hiding this entire time. He wastes no time in grabbing the first goon's duffel bag and hastily tosses me mine.
So, this is what the Joker meant when he told me to make sure they slaughter each other.
"You coming or what?" the second goon demands, holding the stairwell door open. I hurry into the stairwell and follow him down to the first floor. He opens a steel door that's surprisingly unlocked and leads me into what appears to be the actual money holding area of the bank. There's a shrill drilling sound that echoes loudly off of the walls. We keep walking until we reach a large vault that's being drilled into by one of the goons that went in with the Joker.
"Didn't think you'd ever show up," he announces, controlling the drill like machine with ease. "I've almost got this baby cracked open. It should only take a few more seconds, a minute at the most." There's a loud sound of falling metal and a click somewhere in the mechanics of the vault lock. "Ah, there we go. All finished." He moves the drill away and turns the round wheel of the vault, swinging it forward to reveal a room full of cash. I've never seen this much money in my entire life.
I watch the newest goon fall dead in the middle of the hallway. That's the third person I've seen die today and I hardly even reacted. I should be screaming and disgusted at all of the dead bodies, but I see the logic behind the Joker's actions. No helping henchmen means no money shares. And while that logic should disgust me, I'm only a little bit affected by the waste of manpower. These men might've been useful later on, but then again, the Joker could always hire new men. I guess he doesn't see the point in keeping around people who might potentially cause problems when he can easily replace them. It would be horrible in society's eyes, but it makes sense.
"Take your gun out of your bag," the goon instructs. I take the weapon out and wrap the strap around my shoulder. He begins scooping money into his duffel bag and I follow in suit, messily dragging bunches of it into my bag. I glance behind me to see that the goon's already filled up his bag and has moved on to the three spares bags that the dead goon brought.
"Make yourself useful," he tells me, throwing me one of the empty bags. I zip my own bag up and move on to the one he gave me, filling it up until it practically bursts. I drop the now heavy bag beside my other one on the floor as he drops his third and final one. That's five bags full of money. It's probably ten times the amount I make in a full year at Arkham.
"What now?" I ask. He turns to me and raises his gun. "What are you doing?" I demand, nervousness quickly spreading through me. I'm not some disposable henchman, that's not why the Joker let me join him. He and I are... partners, in a sense. He wouldn't send me in here to die, right?
"The boss told you to kill me, didn't he?" the goon demands. "Didn't he?"
"No, he didn't," I quickly reply. "He didn't say anything like that."
"You don't have to lie to me. He'll kill you too if you go in that bank lobby," he tells me. "I know a back way out of this place. We can split the money sixty forty, I'll get three bags since I did the killing and you'll get two bags for helping. I'll take you wherever you need to go and that will be the end of it. We won't ever see each other again. Sound fair enough?"
"You want to rip off the Joker?" I deduce incredulously. Even though I haven't been in this type of business very long, I know that ripping off the Joker is a very bad idea. There's no telling what the Joker would do if he found out, but none of the possibilities that I can think of are ideal and I doubt that he would just let this kind of thing slide either.
"All he did was waltz in there and fire a gun at the ceiling," the goon replies disdainfully. "We did all the hard work."
"The people who did the hard work are dead," I tell him pointedly.
He lets out a sharp, irritated sigh. "We gathered up all the money and killed the spares. That's more work than the boss has done all day. If we go in there, he's just going to kill us. Let's take the money and go."
"That's a bad idea," I reply flatly. "That is a very bad idea. You're out of your mind if you think you can steal from the Joker and get away with it."
"Oh please," he spits. "He's got better things to do than spending his time hunting us down. He'll forget about the whole thing in a week. Besides, there are plenty of other banks to rob and he's got the resources to do it. Five bags of stolen money will hardly make a difference to him."
"You have no idea what you're talking about," I tell him in disbelief. How stupid do you have to be to think that stealing from one of Gotham's most dangerous criminals is a good idea? I'm pretty sure that even over half of the patients at Arkham know that. "I'm not stealing from the Joker," I tell him flatly.
He aims the gun in his hands at my head and my hands automatically reach for my own weapon. "If you aren't going to join me, then you're going to join his dead playthings, one way or another. Might as well end it now if you ask me."
"Put the gun down," I tell him firmly, raising my own. "Come take the money in there with me and then leave. When we get back to the hideout, just walk out. Just leave. You don't have to do this, you don't have to make an either or choice."
"Yes, I do," he replies flatly. "It's always an either or choice with the boss. You'll see soon enough if you go back in there. He'll ask you to do something you don't want to do, something meaningless that puts your life at risk, and you aren't going to want to do it. He's a madman and no one wants to die for some insane plan that has no purpose."
"He does have a purpose," I reply, surprised to find myself angry. "Just because your mind is too narrow to see it doesn't mean that it isn't there."
"You're going to be so devastated when you realize that all of those thoughts are wrong, that he's really batshit crazy," he tells me sympathetically. "I think that I ought to end your suffering right now, before you end up just as insane as him." His hand goes to the trigger, but mine beats him to it.
BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!
Several bullets fly out of my gun, impaling him all over the chest. The gun falls from his hands, an expression of shock plastered across his face. He falls to his knees first, then slumps onto the ground, blood pouring out of the open wounds. With shaking hands, I lower my gun as his blood begins to stain the vault floor.
"He isn't crazy. I should know, I treated him," I murmur quietly. I turn away from the dead body of the goon, trying to shove any and all thoughts of what I just did out of my mind. I focus my attention on the task at hand, which involves me singlehandedly carrying five bags of money into the main room of the bank. I grab each bag one at a time and throw them roughly into the hallway, giving myself at least something to start with. Faintly, I hear a series of gunshots ring from further down the hallway.
Once all of the bags are about halfway down the hallway, I grab all five straps and drag them painstakingly down the hallway. I huff and take a few breaks along the way, but eventually I make it to the archway that leads behind the bank teller counter. I let the bags fall quietly and peer around the arch, gun raised just in case.
The first thing I notice are the people on the floor, who each have grenades in their hands. I raise an eyebrow at the sight, but I don't question the Joker's motives. I spot a dead goon on the floor with several bullet holes in his back, but I don't think the Joker's the one who killed him, considering he's lying directly across from one of the bank's offices. I scan the room worriedly for the Joker and the other goon who was with him, but I don't see them.
"You're dead!" someone from further down the room yells. "You hear me? You're dead." An unfamiliar head pops up from behind one of the writing counters and fires a shotgun towards the other writing desks. The other goon follows in suit, his head popping up from behind one of the opposite counters. Soon after, the Joker's head pops up as well, a large grin on his face and a shooting machine gun in his hands.
The Joker successfully hits the unknown man and he slumps behind the counter. The Joker stands up, along with the goon, and runs a hand jokingly across his forehead, smearing his greasepaint even more. He licks his lips and steps out from behind the counter, eyeing the room watchfully.
"That, ladies and gentlemen, is why you don't try to play the hero," he announces, pointing to the counters. "Leave the, uh, saving to the people who know what they're doing. Ya might, uh, kick the, uh. What was that expression again?"
I'm about to tell him what it is and announce my presence, when I notice movement from behind the furthest writing desk. The man who had been shooting pokes his out from behind it, an expression of pain on his face. Wherever the Joker had shot him must've hurt, but it hadn't killed him. The man raises his gun at the unsuspecting Joker, finger poised above the trigger.
I fire off a round of very loud, cringing inducing bullets towards the man's head, several of which successfully hit their target. He slumps over, his head now grotesquely punctured and bleeding and I stare at the sight in shock. I hadn't even thought about killing him, it had been an impulse, a reaction. The only thing that had run through my head at all was that he was going to kill the Joker.
The Joker turns sharply at the sound of gunfire and his gaze lands on the dead man whose upper body has slumped beside the counter, allowing him full view. He scowls at the sight, then turns to the archway with a raised eyebrow. When he finds me standing there, a slow smile inches its way across his face.
"Bucket, that's the word you're looking for," I tell the Joker, as if we're the only two people in the room. "You might kick the bucket."