Arkham High

Chapter 9

"You a natural blonde, Harley?" asked Pamela, as she perused the hair dye at the salon. "Ever thought of changing it?"

"Uh…no," stammered Harley. "That is…I am a natural blonde, and no, I've never thought of changing it."

"You shouldn't be afraid of experimenting with your hair," said Selina. "I used to be a blonde too, y'know."

"I'm not afraid of experimenting – I just don't want to," replied Harley.

Selina sighed. "Ok. I'll guess she'll just have the simple cut and blow-dry, and maybe style it some," she said, turning to the hairdresser.

"Do you like pigtails? I think you'd suit pigtails," said Alice.

"Yes, but curl the ends," said Pamela. "So you don't look twelve."

"Yeah, I guess that'd look…nice," said Harley, nodding at the stylist.

The next few hours were a form of torture for Harley. The "simple cut and blow-dry" took an hour and a half, and while she had to admit that the pigtails looked nice, they kind of gave her a headache. Nevertheless, she had to endure getting her nails done too (Harley had insisted on a nice, traditional color, like red), and what felt like about a pound of makeup being applied to her face, and finally, dress shopping.

"You'll need a red dress to match your nails, maybe with a nice black border," said Alice, hunting through the racks in the store.

"Uh…gee, these things are…kinda pricey, huh?" asked Harley, staring at the tags.

"It's called a credit card, darling," said Selina, pulling hers out. "It buys you anything you want, and it's all on your parents!"

"Oh. I don't…uh…have one of those," said Harley, slowly.

"No sweat, Harley," said Pamela. "Since you're helping my boyfriend out so much, I think it's only fair that I buy you something nice in return. So don't worry about the price tag. C'mon, let's go try some on."

"But I don't even know where I'd ever wear something like this," protested Harley.

"Uh, duh! Prom!" retorted Pamela, rolling her eyes.

"But I ain't…gonna go to prom," said Harley.

They all stared at her in astonishment. "But you have to!" exclaimed Selina. "You just have to! It's only the most important event of the whole school year!"

"Maybe for you, but…I just don't feel like going," said Harley. "And anyway, I'm sure nobody would ask me to…"

"Harley, you gotta go to prom," interrupted Pamela, firmly. "And you gotta have a nice dress when you do, so just try one on!"

"How about this?" asked Alice, holding up a long, red dress with a few black diamond shapes sewn into the skirt.

"Good enough – c'mon, Harley," said Pamela, pulling her into the changing rooms.

Harley felt very uncomfortable in the dress – she didn't normally wear them. But the other three were so insistent about telling her how darling it looked, and pressuring her to buy it, that she found herself reluctantly agreeing. She regretted her weakness in the face of peer pressure as they walked out of the shop, Harley carrying a bag containing a dress she knew she was never going to wear. She felt bad for wasting the money, even if it wasn't hers…

"Well, look who's here!" exclaimed Selina, pointing over at the fountain. Harley looked up to see the Joker fishing around for coins at the bottom of the fountain, and occasionally splashing passersby.

"Shouldn't you be working on your campaign, Mr. Politician?" asked Pamela, sarcastically.

He turned, grinning at her. "It's all taken care of, Pammie, trust me…" he began, but trailed off when he saw Harley, newly made up. "W…wow," he stammered. "You look great!"

"Oh…thanks," said Harley, surprised and pleased by the compliment.

Selina shoved her forward, whispering, "Now's your chance!"

"We're just gonna get dinner at the food court – join us when you're ready, Harley," she said loudly, heading off, with Pamela following her. Alice gave Harley a thumbs up, and raced after them.

"What's all that about?" asked Joker.

"Uh…I dunno," said Harley, awkwardly. She shuffled her feet. "Can I…uh…sit down?"

"Free country," he said, returning his attention to the coins at the bottom of the fountain.

She nodded, taking a seat next to him. "So what's the occasion?" he asked. "The makeover, I mean."

"Oh, the uh…girls just thought I'd enjoy it," replied Harley.

"And did you?" he asked.

"Not really," she admitted.

He nodded. "You could afford a makeover and shopping trip with them, but not prom with me, huh?" he asked, lightly.

"Oh…no, no, it's not like that at all," said Harley, hastily. "Pamela paid for it all on her credit card – I didn't want her to, but she insisted."

"Yeah, she's the type of gal who don't take no for an answer, or so I hear!" chuckled Joker. He picked up a penny. "Wanna make a wish?" he asked, handing it to her.

"Uh…sure," said Harley. She shut her eyes, desperately trying to think of something to wish for. She thought of the scholarship, wished she'd win it, and threw the coin into the fountain.

"What did you wish for?" asked Joker.

"I can't tell you, or it won't come true," replied Harley.

"Right. I forgot there were rules to wishes," said Joker, sarcastically. "Makes a lotta sense."

He picked up another coin, shut his eyes for a moment, and flicked his in. Harley cleared her throat. "Are you…uh…gonna go to the school play this weekend?"

"Is it a comedy?" he asked.

"It's Hamlet," she replied.

"And is that a comedy?" he repeated.

"No…everyone dies at the end," said Harley, slowly.

"Sounds like a comedy to me!" he chuckled. "But thanks for spoiling the ending, toots! Now I don't even know why I should see the stupid play!"

"Because I kinda want you…to come with me," Harley blurted out.

He stared at her. She drew a deep breath and continued. "Look…uh…just because I ain't going to prom with you doesn't mean that we can't…hang out."

"Hang out?" he repeated.

"Do stuff together, y'know…"

"You mean like a date?" he asked.

"Yeah…kinda," she agreed.

"You're asking me if I wanna go on a date to the school play with you," he repeated, thoughtfully.

"Y…yeah," stammered Harley. "Uh…do you?"

He grinned. "This wouldn't all be because I'm suddenly Mr. Popular, running for class president and all!" he chuckled. "You ain't like the queen bitches, who just wanna hang out with a guy 'cause he's important, are ya?"

"N…no," said Harley. "No, I'm not like them at all. I…really wanna hang out with you, just for…you. You're a funny guy. You make me laugh. I…like you."

He smiled. "Yeah?" he asked.

"Yeah," she replied, nodding.

He tilted her chin up. "I like you too, Harley," he murmured.

Harley felt her face turning bright red, and she felt that overwhelming urge to kiss him racing through her again. "So…you wanna come to the play with me?" she asked hastily. "There's a clown in it. I mean, he's not actually in it, he's dead, but they talk about him and all, while holding up his skull in this graveyard scene with this undertaker who's kinda funny, and…uh…"

She felt so nervous with him so close, and she babbled when she was nervous. He seemed to find this funny, because he laughed and released her chin suddenly. "Yeah, sounds like fun," he said. "I'll see you then, Harley."

He strode off, whistling to himself, leaving her shaking in nervousness by the fountain. Nervousness and…something else. She continued to blush bright red as she headed for the food court and found Selina, Pamela, and Alice.

"So, how'd it go?" asked Alice, excitedly.

"We're…going to the play this weekend," said Harley.

"Great job, Harley!" said Pamela. "Wear your hair like that, and that kinda makeup, and something halfway decent, and he'll be putty in your hands! And I know a smart girl like you can get exactly what she wants from him then, no problem!"

"Yeah," agreed Harley, trying to focus on dinner. But her thoughts kept flying completely against her will back to J. "Yeah, I'm sure I can."

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