Jack grabbed Harleen's hand, maneuvering her back behind their table while he giggled like a child. He was clearly excited about getting to watch Batman in action. Harleen's eyes widened when she saw the Batman. He stood, looking like a Gothic gargoyle, clad all in black, his cape whipping out behind him, and pointed ears atop his head. She had heard the stories about the Batman, but she had never actually seen him, hadn't even been sure he was real, but there he was right in front of her looking like a creature from a nightmare! She glanced at Jack who was giggling and smiling, enraptured at the spectacle.
“Jack?” She touched his face in concern.
Jack's giggle turned into a laugh. “Gotham is becoming so much more entertaining now that we have a masked vigilante stalking the streets of Gotham, don't you think Harley sweets?”
Harleen frowned. She wasn't sure why he was laughing; maybe it was nervousness, fear? She was scared, but....a giggle bubbled up some her, the tension of the situation mixed with the smile on Jack's face. She really didn't know why she was laughing along with Jack, but there was definitely something frighteningly ridiculous about the costumed villains and hero crashing a masked party and doing battle right in front of them. For the briefest of moment's Harleen thought about how funny it would be just to walk among them and bash a few heads!
One of the few conscious security guards, (who had not been knocked unconscious by the initial explosion) a young man no more than twenty-five, ran up to the group of “cards” with his weapon out. “You are...” He never got to finish his statement before the Jack of Spades pulled out a taser, hitting the young guard in the chest, putting him down quickly. Many of the bodyguards that were present, were too busy watching over their charges to interfere with the gang, especially now that the Batman had shown up.
At that moment, Batman turned yelling to the crowd in a terrifyingly deep voice. “Get down!”
Then he threw out a small black bat-shaped object (which Harleen would later learn was called a batarang) knocking the weapon from the King of Spade's hands. Within the same motion, Batman spun around just in time to bring both his arms up to block a roundhouse kick from the Ten of Spades. Ten hissed as she moved in on Batman, her fists and feet flying quickly. She clearly had some sort of kickboxing training as she came at Batman again and again not giving him room to maneuver and recover. Her fists and feet, lashing out with a surprising amount of speed continued to connect, but each time the Bat blocked her strikes with ease. Batman took several steps back, keeping his arms crossed in front of his face, his armored forearms taking the brunt of her attack, before he managed to grab her ankle in a lightning fast movement. With a quick and powerful twist of his wrist, Batman flipped her over by her ankle. The woman lost her footing and twisted in the air before slamming into the floor hard. Batman released her ankle and the woman lay there unmoving.
The King of Spades yelled. “EVERYONE!!! GO!!”
The other members of the gang turned, taking off the way they have entered the museum, through the hole in the wall their explosion had caused. The Ace of Spades stumbled to his feet just when Batman twisted around and threw something at the man. The Ace stumbled backward something clearly slamming into his back and knocking him to the floor with a jarring hit; he slid and slammed into the stage. The Ace shook his head from the impact, reaching in and grabbed something out of his dufflebag, throwing it Batman.
Whatever it was, the object struck Batman in the chest and exploded with the sharp scent of smoke and burning plastic. People started screaming again at the unexpected explosion.
The explosion was powerful enough to knock the Bat off his feet, sending him flying backwards a few feet, but it didn't put him down permanently. The concussive force wasn't strong enough to kill, but it caused enough of a distraction for Ace to follow his friends out of the museum. The sound of sirens outside could be heard by the people inside of the museum. The loud blare of sirens was accompanied by the colors of red and blue flashes throughout the interior of the museum.
Batman glanced the way the others of the Royal Flush Gang had gone, then back at the unconscious Ten of Spades. He seemed aggravated to Harleen, but he took the time to tie the Ten up before he took off after the rest of the gang.
Jack had watched all of it with an enchanted expression. His attention never wavered from the Batman. Harleen, nestled in Jack's protective embrace, watched in awe.
She whispered to Jack. “You think he'll catch them?”
Jack shrugged. “If he would just kill them, he wouldn't have the issues he has...”
Harleen giggled. Perhaps it's nerves, she thought, but she looked up at Jack.
“You might be right. But I had heard he never kills.”
Jack nodded. “Never...you really have to wonder what makes a man put on a mask and run around Gotham fighting crime trying to bring order to chaos.” He giggled. “I bet you would love to get him on your couch my sweet doctor.”
Harleen smiled. “Well...yeah,” she nodded. “Someone like that...fighting crime in a mask..childhood trauma would be my guess.”
Jack giggled. “Careful Harley, you might have me thinking you like Batman better than me.” He gave her a clearly put on pout before he spoke again. “Maybe I should put on a mask and take up crime fighting? Oh! Or maybe I should bring more chaos into Gotham just to see how the Batman likes it? But how?” He giggled again. “What do you think doctor?”
Harleen was about to say something when suddenly the museum was filled with police shouting at patrons to calm down, to not move...the typical police protocols.
Jack and Harleen sat at a table with a few other of the gala guests waiting to told when they could leave. Everyone at this particular table had already given their statements and were simply waiting now. There were plates of desserts on this table that had turned into something mushy and disgusting looking. Jack and Harleen were mostly making designs with the gooey remains, using forks to create weird little pictures that the two of them were laughing about, while they waited. The Gotham police force kept everyone at the museum for several hours, taking statements, trying to organize witness accounts. By the time Jack and Harleen were finally allowed to leave, it was nearly midnight. Jack held Harleen's hand as they stepped outside of the museum into the fresh night air. Harleen took a deep breath. She hadn't realized how much smoke had been in the museum until she was able to step out. She figured the thieves must have deactivated all the smoke alarms and the sprinkler systems. For a moment she wondered how many priceless works of art had been damaged due to the botched robbery. It's such a shame, she thought idly.
There were still several reporters waiting outside the museum. Most of the reporters were herded off in a tiny section of sidewalk, being held at bay by the GCPD. Though a few had called it a night, there was still a little bit of chaos going on outside the museum with everyone who had been inside now allowed to leave, trying to get to their cars.
There were bodyguards, police and security hired for the gala milling around outside trying to get everyone to their vehicles safely.
Jack tugged on Harleen's hand and pulled her back away from the main knot of chaos, the two of them slipping behind some bodyguards and away from the little press circle and the struggle of the rich trying to get to their cars.
“Jack? What about the car?” Harleen glanced back as she stumbled with him. She wasn't exactly tired, and in fact felt energized after the events of this evening.
Jack grinned, seemingly full of energy too. “Why don't we walk? I'm not ready to go home—are you?” While he spoke he pulled out a cigarette case made of silver with an elaborate “J” craved on the front of it. Jack pulled a thin cigarette out of the case and withdrew an exquisitely crafted lighter out of the same inner pocket. The lighter was a rich plum color with another “J” on its surface with gold filigree surrounding the letter. He lit the cigarette and took a long pull with a grin, blowing out a line of smoke. He gave Harley a grin.
Harleen shook her head in answer to his question. “Nope.” Jack gave her a wide grin squeezing her hand gently.
“Then let's go for a walk.” Jack pulled her close putting an arm around her waist. He surprised her by kissing her ear before he laughed and began to walk with a skip in his step. Harleen felt her cheeks burn, the heat from the kiss on her ear traveled down her neck spreading throughout her body.
They walked downtown with no real destination in mind. The night was clear, the stars just barely visible over the glow of the streetlights. Downtown Gotham consisted in a series of restaurants, local art galleries, specialty clothing stores and jewelry stores. There were even a couple of wine shops and a beer garden. Of course, at this time of the night everything was closed.
Jack murmured squeezing her close for a moment as he took his cigarette blowing a stream of smoke. “Someday I would like to meet the Batman.”
“Really?” Harleen asked softly.
Jack nodded. “Hmm...yes...I want to know why he does it. I mean...why put so much effort into saving people—and for what? Everything dies, crime continues, chaos reigns. Is he trying to bring some sort of order to the chaos of living...everything is chaos, there is no way to bring any sort of justice. Is there justice in two little boys watching their parents die? The man who killed them never saw justice. The only sensible way to live in this world is without rules.” Jack spoke serenely, not the least bit disturbed by what he had said. Harleen frowned slightly as Jack moved his arm from around her waist and took her hand once more. He swung her hand gently.
Harleen frowned “You really believe that? No rules?”
Jack smiled sliding his eyes sideways. “Introduce a little change, upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos...what is Batman really? He doesn't work within the law, or the established order—he is a rogue element trying to bring the wrong to justice, but in fact he isn't following the law either. Order needs chaos.”
Jack giggled kicking a can down the sidewalk.
“I myself enjoy not knowing what is going to happen. I like pulling the thread and watching things unravel in surprising ways!”
Jack tugged Harleen's hand a little, his expression playful.
“Will going down this alley get us killed? Or will we simply walk out into someplace new? Everything, all of it, no matter how hard you try, everything is chaos. I really don't think Batman understands that...he wants to bring a kind of order to Gotham...which will never happen.”
Jack laughed, the laughter taking on just a slight hysterical edge. “Robert Musil says that it's not necessarily a matter of good and evil, but what you fight against and what you decide to accept that matters. Batman accepts that there is good in the world and that he is doing his bit to bring order. I, on the other hand, think everything is chaos and Batman...like my brother Bruce, I suppose...just can't accept that.” Jack laughed dropping his cigarette and putting it out with the toe of his shoe.
Harleen frowned ever so slightly at his conclusions, but then Jack grinned. “Look! A diner! Come on, I'll buy you a cup of coffee.”
Harleen laughed as Jack pulled her down the street, then across heading for the lights of the diner.
When the two of them stepped in, the few patrons inside, as well as the staff, stared, startled to see two people in expensive evening clothes suddenly appear in their quiet place. They stared for a good long moment, then went back to ignoring them. Jack laughed. “Good old Gothamites!”
The “diner” wasn't your traditional diner, more of a twenty four hour restaurant. The inside of the place was done in warm colors, the floor was hardwood, polished and the booths were dark brown, as were the chairs. The lighting was subdued, the walls painted a warm shade of burnt orange. It reminded Harleen of a little place she used to go to as a kid with her family before everything became so messed up at home.
Jack tugged Harleen with him to a free booth in the corner, just at the edge of the large window that ran the length of the building's front. The waitress came over a few seconds later, pad in hand, to take their drink orders. “What can I get you to drink?”
She was pretty, with dark hair piled up in a messy bun. She had a nice figure, big brown eyes and full lips. The way she kept looking at Jack, it was clear she wanted him to notice her. The waitress, whose name tag read, “April” kept all her attention on Jack, acting as if Harleen wasn't there at all. April wore snug black pants and a navy colored shirt and by the way she was holding herself it was clear to Harleen this was a woman accustomed to using her looks and body to get what she wanted. If Harleen would hazard a guess, she would bet April was a woman looking for a “sugar daddy” to take care of her.
Jack, who didn't seem to notice the way the waitress kept leaning toward him to show off her cleavage or the way she would shift her hip closer to him, had all his attention on the menu or Harleen. Jack didn't react at all to the waitress. Instead he looked down the menu then up at Harleen giving her one of his sexy grins.
“Just coffee please.” He ordered without giving the waitress a look. “ Harley?” He lifted a brow quizzically at Harleen.
Harleen smiled. “The same.”
April frowned and went to get their coffee; by the set of her shoulders, she was clearly annoyed the Jack hadn't noticed her.
April came back just moments later with a pot of coffee and two mugs, setting them down and trying yet again to flirt with Jack. She leaned forward, her cleavage nearly on the table in front of Jack as she asked, “You ready to order sir?” The waitress then did a double take at Jack. “Hey, wait, aren't you Jack Wayne? Bruce Wayne's brother?”
Jack frowned, his eyes finally moving toward the waitress. They were cold eyes, flat and clearly annoyed. The waitress smiled at him, seemingly unaffected by his flat stare. Jack held his eyes on the waitress a heartbeat longer, then looked over the top of his menu at Harleen. His blue-green eyes twinkled. He held the menu so that it continued to cover the lower half of his face as he asked.
“You wanna share a plate of Belgian waffles with me doc?” Jack grinned like a child, his eyes full of expression now that he was gazing at Harleen, in stark contrast to how he had looked at the waitress just moments agao. Harleen blushed. She couldn't help the grin on her face. Here she was in a twenty-four hour diner, wearing expensive clothing with a gorgeous man ordering Belgian waffles.
“I would love to Jack.”
Jack tossed down his menu dramatically. “A large order of Belgian waffles serveuse!”
Harleen giggled. The waitress didn't look happy, but she took their order. Harleen gave Jack a quizzical look as she put sugar and cream in her coffee. “Do you speak French?” Jack smirked. “Fluently, along with a few other languages. Harley, vous êtes la plus belle femme et intéressant aussi. Vous êtes le mien et je suis le vôtre.”
“What did you say?” Harleen leaned her elbows on the table cupping her chin between her hands, but Jack simply smiled. “You will just have to figure it out Harley.” He reached over and bopped her gently on the tip of her nose with one long finger.
Harleen blushed picking up her coffee and took a sip of the hot liquid. Jack took his coffee black, glancing around once. “Too bad I can't smoke in here. Nothing like coffee and a cigarette for relaxing, especially after our little adventure.
Harleen nodded. She was about to say something else, but that was when the annoyed waitress returned with their waffles.
Jack grinned when the plate was set on the table between them.
“I remember my mom making waffles once. Alfred was teaching her how to cook. I'm not sure why she was doing it, but I remember her laughing. She had a wonderful laugh,” he said wistfully. “That's one of the few things about her I remember with any clarity.” Jack frowned at the memory. Harleen could see the dark cloud behind his eyes, but just as quickly it vanished. Jack seemed to shove the memory away. He grinned as he picked up the small pitcher of syrup and poured it over the waffles after he buttered them.
“It's nice to replace that memory of waffles with a new one.” Jack cut off a bite, but instead of eating it himself, he leaned over the table to feed her. Harleen grinned and opened her mouth slowly. Jack giggled lightly coating her lips with syrup before sliding the bite into her mouth.
Jack cut off his own bite and put it in his mouth with a grin.
“Are you sure you want to replace a memory like that?” Harleen asked softly after she had swallowed.
Jack shrugged. “Sometimes I think that memory is treacherous. It can so easily lie to you. One moment you're lost in a carnival of delight, childhood aromas...everything is perfect, happy, you have not a care in the world...you're safe with your family, protected by the strong arms of your parents, you're brother will always protect you...then Boom!!! All that's taken away by one person with a bad attitude and a gun.”
He chewed his bite contemplatively, resting his chin in his free hand. Jack cut off another bite and fed it to Harley smiling as he watched syrup dribble on her bottom lip. He reached out with his other hand wiped her lip then licked his finger. His smile faltered as he gazed at Harleen.
“Memory can also be terrible, rebellious, takes you somewhere you don't want to be, someplace dark and cold...vile, bloody...the sound of a child's scream, the snapping of bone, the crack of a gunshot...then everything that you thought was solid, is gone.” Jack's eyes were distant, but then he snapped back to the present giving her a grin again. Harleen frowned slightly. She wanted to ask more, to delve deeper, but this was not the place to do so, so instead she simply let Jack feed her bites of waffles. “Tell me about your childhood Harley?” Jack sipped his coffee smiling at her over the rim of the cup. Jack frowned ever so slightly when he noticed the minute changes in Harleen's expression when he asked the question. “What is it Harley? You can tell me.”
He reached across the table and took her hand, lacing his fingers with hers. The gesture was so sweet, so tender, that Harleen felt her eyes sting. She gently squeezed his fingers.
Harleen took a deep breath. “It was...good when I was younger, but after my father died my mother remarried and my step-father was...frightening. I wasn't his and he made sure everyday of my life that I knew I was not important. Then, after he and my mom started having their own kids, he made sure I knew that I was nothing, that his children were the important ones...I have two younger half-sisters and a younger half- brother, none of who I've spoken with in years. I left on the day I turned eighteen. Worked odd jobs, got myself through college...” her voice trailed off as she realized she had told him more than she intended.
Jack tilted his head gazing at her. “So, no family you care about it?”
Harleen shook her head. “ I did, but not anymore. My mother chose that family over me.”
Jack grinned tugging her hand up and kissing one of her fingers. “Who needs family! “
Harleen smiled. “What about your brother? Alfred.”
Jack wrinkled his nose. For a moment she thought she saw something pass over his face. She couldn't be sure what emotion that was, it seemed both dark and sad then Jack changed the subject.
“How about we go walk the waffles off before I get us a taxi?” Jack stood throwing some bills onto the table. Harleen followed, glancing at the table to see that Jack had thrown down two one hundred dollar bills.
“I know what we should do next.” Jack said, laughing lightly as he did a hopscotch on the sidewalk. Harleen couldn't help but be enamored watching him in his expensive suit, arms out to his sides, playing hopscotch on his own. Her professional opinion was that his behavior might not have been typical for an adult of his age, but she certainly didn't find it to be unhealthy. And again, perhaps the excitement of the night was manifesting itself in his—and her—actions right now. Jack grinned at her when he suddenly stopped.
“We should go get drunk!”
“What? Why?” Harleen frowned, again thinking of the nervous excitement of the night, but Jack grabbed her face with one hand, squeezing her lips gently. She stopped moving, staring into his eyes; they were hypnotic. He smiled, gazing down at her and then he made a pouty face. “Please...pluh-eeze Doctor Quinzel...let's go get drunk, pretty please.” He was holding her cheeks giggling as her pushed her lips together. Harleen was trying not to giggle, but the way he was talking was so cute and funny, his fingers on her cheeks warm. He stepped so close that for a moment she thought he might kiss her. He released her face after a few seconds, his fingers slowly dragging down her throat in a sensual caress. His voice dropped to a whisper.
“We could get drunk, then go home and so skinny-dipping in the pool. Bruce would be livid.”
He chuckled, his lips so close to hers that she could feel his warm breath brush against her mouth. “Whatya say doc?”
That was when a rough voice growled. “Real sweet love birds, now give me all your money.”
Jack and Harleen turned to see a man standing there with a gun on them.
The man motioned. “Wallets and honey, you can give me those earrings.”
The man mugging them was taller than Jack and more clearly muscled. What scared Harleen the most was that he wasn't wearing a mask, nothing to hide his face from them.
He was unshaven, bald, with a nasty scar running from the bottom of his chin through his lips and up his cheek. His clothes were nondescript. He leered at Harleen. “You know what babe, I want the earrings and you too.”
Harleen didn't notice that the only movement Jack had made was the balling of his fists.
Jack hissed. “You are not going to touch her.”
The man laughed. “Oh, I'm not am I?” The mugger moved surprisingly swiftly grabbing Harleen by the front of her dress and yanking her toward him. She stumbled, slamming against the man's chest.
“Ah!!” She let out a startled gasped.
The man let her go just long enough to grab her by her hair and yanked her around while he laughed.
“You just give me your money pretty boy and you can go. The lady and I are going to go have some fun.” He yanked on Harleen's hair causing her to cry out. Jack giggled, but the sound was anything but humorous; there was an edge to it. Harleen was too scared to notice the darkness to the laugh, her eyes wide with fear.
“Let her go and I might consider letting you live, though I doubt it.” Jack smiled. It was a chilling smile that sent ice racing through Harleen's veins.
The mugger laughed. “What are you doing to do pretty boy? Eh?” The big man waved the gun threateningly.
Jack chose that moment to move. He was surprisingly swift as he stepped forward, easily knocking the gun from the mugger's hand with a sharp snap to the man's wrist with the ball of Jack's hand. The man stumbled back away from Jack yanking Harleen with him, determined to maintain at least the advantage of holding onto her. She cried out in pain as some of her hair was ripped from its roots, but the man kept a hold of her. He threw himself to the side yanking Harleen around in front of him as a shield, then pulled a long wicked looking Bowie knife from his belt, pressing it hard to Harleen's throat. She gasped in pain, a long, thick trickle of blood appearing on her pale skin.
“Stay back!! STAY BACK!! I'll cut her throat!! I WILL!” Harleen could feel that the man was suddenly terrified, his arms around her were shaking, she could feel the blade wobble against her neck.
Jack snarled at the sight of Harleen's blood. But Jack was full of even more surprises. He snapped forward, grabbing Harleen in an firm grip and easily—surprisingly—breaking the man's hold on her. Harleen cried out as Jack yanked her free, the man taking several strands of her hair, but his grasp on the mugger's knife hand was like steel, preventing the bigger man from carrying out his threat. Jack's grip on her arm would leave painful bruises, but suddenly she was stumbling away from her assailant, losing her balance. Her knees slammed into the concrete as she fell.
Jack grabbed the man by the throat with both hands. The mugger brought the knife up, slashing at Jack cutting through the fine suit, the shirt, biting deeply into the flesh of Jack's upper right arm forcing Jack to release his throat. If Jack felt any pain he didn't seem to register it or show it. Instead, he slammed the mugger up against the front of the nearby building. Jack's grin never faltered. Jack lashed out, grabbing the wrist of the mugger that held the knife. The two men struggled, the mugger trying to yank his hand away from the iron grip that Jack had on it while Jack, holding his teeth in a vicious grin, yanked the bigger man toward him, twisting the hand holding the knife, struggling to disarm him. The two men stumbled, slamming into the wall. The mugger tried clawing at Jack's face with his free hand, but Jack was too nimble, keeping an iron grip on the wrist holding the knife while avoiding the clawing fingers of the mugger's free hand. Jack gave a quick slam upward with his free hand under the bald man's chin forcing his head back.
The two men stumbled again, but kept their footing. Jack, with a chuckle on his lips, slammed his forehead against their attacker's face, blooding the mugger's lip, leaving a small cut on Jack's forehead, while at the same time squeezing the man's wrist with a wrenching twist, which finally caused him to dropped the blade. Jack released the mugger's wrist the moment he dropped the blade. Jack brought his arm up, pressing his forearm against the mugger's throat and forced the larger man back against the wall. He pulled one hand back and started to punch the man, over and over in the face with brutally quick blows while holding him up by the neck with the other hand.
Harleen struggled to her feet, her dress torn in the front and on her knees. Jack's fist was bloody. The mugger stopped struggling moments ago, but Jack didn't stop; he continued to hit the man though laughter started to bubble up. Jack's laughter turned maniacal until Harleen grabbed him.
“JACK!! JACK!! Stop!! He's down, stop please!!” Harleen grabbed his arm, her fingers slipping for a moment on the blood that stained Jack's jacket from the knife wound.
Jack giggled as he glanced toward Harleen. What she saw in his eyes both frightened her, but oddly that look of madness attracted her, and just as quickly, the look in his eyes was gone. Jack let go opening his hand that had been around the man's throat, letting the man drop to the ground though Jack continued to smile.
Harleen crouched down checking the pulse at the man's neck.
She let out a sigh of relief. “He's alive.”
She stood up looking down at the mugger. His face was a mess, nose clearly broken, some teeth were shattered, his lip split and one eye swelling shut, and maybe even broken cheek bones, but he was alive.
Harleen turned to look at Jack who was smiling, his hand bloody and cut up, the slice across his arm seemed to have stopped bleeding, but it was hard to tell with the blood matted material.
For a moment she thought about calling the police, but she didn't want Jack to get in trouble. He might not get jail time with his family's money, ties...and this was self-defense, but part of her worried about what his brother might do. She was Jack's doctor, this was part of what she was supposed to be helping him with. So, no police. Besides, her rotation in a hospital entailed hands-on medical work. She could handle stitches.
“Jack, we should go.” Harleen grabbed his shoulders, turning him to look at her. She was shaking like a leaf. With one hand she caressed Jack's cheek. “Jack?”
He blinked as if seeing her for the first time before he nodded. “You're right. Let's go home.”
Jack called Alfred to come pick them up. The older man arrived in a timely matter, Jack and Harleen waiting for him near a small convenience store that was open twenty-four hours. Harleen had gone in and purchased some gauze and a couple of sodas. The man checking her out kept staring at the bloody wound on her neck, the torn dress, but other than that, he said nothing and didn't bother calling anyone either since she didn't ask for help.
Harleen carefully wrapped Jack's arm while he sipped the drink. He was going to need stitches, as she had suspected, but this was the best she could do for right now. “How is your neck?” he asked gently reaching out to caress the side of her throat. Harleen reached up, touching it gingerly. “It looks worse than it is.”
Jack frowned reaching out with his undamaged hand to cup her cheek.
“If anything had happened to you...”
Harleen opened her mouth to say something in reply when they heard a car horn. They both turned to see Alfred leaning across the car seat looking at them both with concern.
He was driving a four-door Chevy Nova, in good condition, but clearly old and not as pristine as one of the Wayne brothers' cars. If Harleen had to hazard a guess she would say this was Alfred's private vehicle. The butler rolled the window down frowning as he looked at the both of them. If Alfred was shocked by their appearance, however, he gave no indication.
“Come along,” Alfred said as he popped the passenger door open. Harleen started to get in the back, but Jack gave her a playful shove. “I'm sure Alfred would rather sit next to a beautiful woman than me any old day.”
Alfred smiled. “Quite right, Master Jack.”
Jack started laughing as he slipped into the back seat. Alfred glanced in the rear view at Jack, a slight frown on his face then he glanced at Harleen seeing the drying blood on her neck.
“Are you both alright?”
Jack nodded. “Nothing a few pain pills and some drinks wouldn't cure.”
Alfred frowned. “Not amusing, Master Jack.”
Harleen set her hand on Alfred's arm. “Jack needs stitches, but overall we're fine. It would have ended much worse if not for Jack.”
Harleen turned around. Jack looked pale in the back seat, his face illuminated only by the streetlights and the dash lights, but he gave her a wink. As Alfred drove them home she related most of what had happened. She didn't tell him about Jack losing control though, that was to be her and Jack's secret.
Alfred made no comment on the way home about what had happened. Once they were back at the manor, Alfred led Harleen, who had her arm around around Jack's waist, his less injured arm around her shoulders, to a small room located near the kitchens.
The room Alfred took them into was a fully stocked medical room. Harleen's mouth dropped open in surprise. There was even an examination bed where Harleen helped Jack to sit down on the edge of the bed.
“Why do you have a room like this?” Harleen looked around astounded by how well stocked the room seemed to be with all manner of medical equipment and a locked refrigeration unit, probably holding medicines that needed to be cooled.
Alfred smiled. “Raising two boys, I thought it would be...wise to be prepared for any...emergency.” Alfred washed his hands and wrists and removed some plastic gloves before opening a drawer that held sterile bandages. He unlocked another drawer that had a keypad lock and took out some vials of medicine, a syringe, needle and thread before he turned around to face Harleen and Jack
“Alright, Master Jack, let's get that shirt and jacket off. Do you mind assisting Miss Harleen?”
Harleen nodded. “Yes of course.”
Jack grinned at her. “My very own Nurse Nightingale.”
Harleen blushed as she helped him with the buttons on his shirt after Alfred had helped with removing the jacket by taking some scissors and cutting up the sleeves to make it easier to remove. Harleen did her best not to stare at Jack's bare chest or to caress him when she removed his shirt. She had seen his chest once already, but she found herself staring anyway, especially when she pushed the fabric of the shirt off his shoulders and her fingers brushed his bare skin. Jack's eyes stayed on hers, a smile gracing his features. Once they had his clothing removed and the makeshift bandage Harleen had put on cut off, Alfred carefully examined the wound
“Yes Master Jack,” Alfred said with his experienced eyes. “You are going to require stitches and your knuckles are going to need cleaning and bandaging. This is going to hurt. I could give you a numbing agent?” Alfred lifted an brow in inquiry, but Jack waved him off. “Nah, I'll be fine. You should check Harl...Harleen first.” Jack frowned glancing at her cut throat and torn knees.
“Jack! No! You need stitches! I'm fine.” Harleen pleaded with him.
Alfred sighed. “Both of you sit and be quiet and I will take care you both.” His tone was firmer than what Harleen had heard the butler use before.
Jack pulled Harleen next to him on the bed pressing his lips together, but his eyes danced with humor.
“I think we both just got into trouble.”
Harleen had to laugh. Despite everything, Jack could make her laugh.
Alfred stitched up the wound on Jack's arm, requiring at least thirty stitches. Jack's knuckles were badly cut and bruised, but Alfred cleaned and bandaged them with the care of an expert. He then examined Harleen's throat, cleaning and placing a bandage across it.
“It should heal without a scar Miss Harleen or at least if it does scar, since your skin is so fair, it should be light. Once it has scabbed over I shall give you some cream that will help with preventing any scars.”
He cleaned and bandaged her knees before he stepped back looking at the two of them with the slight air of a disapproving father.
Harleen had so many questions to ask regarding Alfred's medical skills and the fact that he didn't question them too much beyond what Harleen had told him about the incident—why he didn't suggest they call the police. But she chose to let all her questions go—perhaps it would be best if she didn't know.
“I want you both to go shower then come down to the kitchen where you will both be served some hot tea and scones before bed. Now scoot, both of you. We will say nothing of this to Master Bruce.”
Jack and Harleen glanced at each other then with humor in their voices they both said at the same time. “Yes sir.”
Alfred smiled then shooed them off while he cleaned up in the medical room.
Jack and Harleen walked up the stairs together. “Let me walk you to your room,” Jack said softly.
“You don't have to Jack.” Harleen smiled shyly.
“I insist.” Jack gave her one of his smiles that made her heart race. It felt strange walking with him in her now torn dress and him without a shirt. Harleen was thankful that Bruce Wayne wasn't home yet. This would have been...embarrassing seemed too mild a word, but that was exactly what it would have been like for him to catch the two of them like this...
They turned down the hall, stopping outside Harleen 's bedroom door. Jack smiled taking her hand with his—relatively--uninjured left hand, lacing his fingers with hers. He stepped closer to her.
“Despite the part with you getting hurt, I enjoyed our evening Harley.” Jack smiled moving her hand up to kiss her knuckles at the same time backing her against the wall. Harleen blushed, smiling with a shy downward turn of her eyes. “Yes, despite both of us getting hurt, I enjoyed myself...even with the gala being...cut short.”
Jack pressed closer, his bare chest up against her. He brushed the tip of her nose with his, smiling as his eyes moved to gaze at her lips then back up to her eyes, which she turned up to meet his. He grin was contagious; she smiled back at him though her heart was beating a million miles a minute. Heat rushed through her body and breathing became difficult. Jack caught his bottom lip between his teeth as he smiled at her, his eyes moving once again over her face.
“Would you mind if I kissed you Harley...” His eyes met her once more, burning, melting into her. For a moment Harleen was sure he could see the dark parts of her soul, that he knew her inside and out.
Her voice came out in a whisper. “Yes Jack.”
Jack smiled wider just before he brushed his lips against hers. He dropped her hand so that his fingers could lightly caress her cheek, the very tips of his fingers, soft, like a breeze across her jaw. The back of his fingers lightly caressed the slope of her neck, resting for a brief moment against her collar. His lips stroked over hers once, then twice, the pressure never more than a breath across her mouth. Harleen's eyes fluttered shut. The kiss was sweet, innocent, a tease of what could be...but there was a burning passion behind it that was more erotic than if he had slipped his tongue into her mouth.
Then just as swiftly, Jack stepped back from her.
“See you downstairs, Harley.” Jack's voice was a whisper, accompanied by a smile. He winked at her before strolling away to his room. Harleen felt her knees turn to jelly, wanting to slide down the wall. It took a great deal of effort fro her to turn and open her bedroom door.
Showering felt wonderful, the warm water stung when it hit some of the places where she had gotten little nicks and cuts, too small for bandages, but after the initial discomfort it was nice to wash up and put on some comfy clothes, a pair of yoga pants and a black sweatshirt that read “Pink Freud” on it in pink. It has been a gag gift from a friend at school, but it was a darn comfy shirt even if Freud was a complete nutter.
As she sat in front of the vanity braiding her damp hair before pulling on some thick red socks, Harleen studied herself in the mirror. She smiled softly reaching up and touching her lips, thinking about the warmth of his lips. A blush raced up her neck and over her cheeks.
His lips had been so perfectly soft, the brush of them so sweet it almost tickled. The heat from his fingers where he had stroked her jaw...she shivered blushing a deeper shade of red.
When she came downstairs for the required tea and scones before bed that Alfred had ordered, as she approached the kitchen, Harleen heard Jack and Alfred speaking.
“Jack, you need to be more careful.” It was Alfred speaking. It surprised her because so far Harleen had never heard Alfred refer to Jack as anything but Master Jack. The familiarity with which he was addressing him now reminded Harleen that Alfred had been both Jack's and Bruce's only adult figure growing up, that he raised the boys after their parents' death.
“What was I supposed to do Alfred? Let her be hurt more than she already was?” Jack sounded slightly sullen.
“No, but...Jack, you know how Bruce feels...he worries about you crossing that line again,” Alfred said softly.
Jack hissed. “Bruce is always so worried about right and wrong, black and white...order versus chaos...he just doesn't get it, does he?”
Alfred said something else, quieter, but Harleen couldn't quite hear him. She felt embarrassed having eavesdropped so she pretended to stumble making some noise so that the two men would hear her approach as she stepped into the kitchen.
Jack was sitting in his usual spot, his normally slicked back hair now damp and ruffled, curling slightly over his forehead. He wore a pair of white cashmere sweatpants. Harleen wasn't an expert on clothing or anything, but she knew cashmere when she saw it. He also had on a plain, dark grey v-neck t-shirt that gave her a rather delightful peak at his pecs and a very enticing view of his collarbone which she found to be immensely sexy. She could feel the blush creeping over her cheeks again as the remembered feel of his lips brushing hers immediately came flooding back.
Jack grinned when he saw her then laughed. “Oh, I love the sweatshirt!”
Harleen blushed even more deeply. “Oh it's—it's a joke from a friend.”
Alfred chuckled lightly. “Well I have the tea and scones ready, as well as some pain pills for the both of you.”
Harleen opened her mouth to protest, but Jack reached out and laid his hand across hers. “No point in arguing with him. When Alfred tells you to do something, it's best to just do it.”
Harleen smiled as Alfred looked slightly affronted.
“Master Jack, now I...”
Alfred busied himself pouring tea and placing a plate of scones between Jack and Harleen then gave them each a small cup holding two pills. “I shall clean this up in the morning. I expect you both to go straight to bed.”
“Yes sir,” they both said as before and giggled as Alfred left them alone in the kitchen. They sipped their tea, nibbling on scones when Harleen said quietly, “Tonight made me realize something.”
Jack gave her a quizzical look. “What was that?”
“I need to learn to defend myself.” Harleen frowned taking a sip of her tea.
Jack tilted his head studying her. She looked over at him and nodded.
“I wasn't any help to you tonight. I wasn't any help to myself,” she said with a heavy frown. “I want to learn to fight.”
Jack gazed at her, a smile slowly forming across his lips.
“Then starting tomorrow doctor, I”m going to teach you how to fight.”
It was still dark out when a couple of detectives from the Gotham Police department stood on the dock watching as a body was pulled from the water. They had gotten the call of a body being seen floating in the water about an hour after the incident at the Gotham city art museum gala. Detective Bullock didn't think the two things had any relation to one another, but he wasn't ruling it out.
The team got the body on the dock. It was wrapped in some sort of tarp. Bullock walked over to see what they had, his partner, Renee Montoya walking beside him. Just as they were approaching, one of the assistants to the coroner had walked over to remove the covering from the victim's face. As soon as he did,, the young man gasped and turned away vomiting.
“Well, that is just great,” Bullock muttered.
Montoya frowned. “What's up with him?”
“Man with a weak stomach doesn't need to be in this business,” Bullock grumbled as they stepped closer. That was when he saw what had made the young man lose his lunch. The body of a woman, her skin chalk white, her mouth pulled back in a rictus, sardonic grin. The skin at the edges of her smile was torn and bloody as the skin had struggled to maintain the creepy smile. The victim's eyes were wide open, almost “bugging” out of her skull.
Bullock swallowed hard, the bile in his stomach roiling at the morbid sight. Montoya held the back of her hand over her mouth as she asked of no one in particular,
“What on earth could have done that?”