|a conversation (4/15/18): part one • part two|
He wasn't sure how long this was going to last. He had played with this before, taking drugs to curb the beast inside him, but there were things you couldn't push off for forever. He was a murderer. He was a thief. He was an abuser. He was a lot of things that Jack just wasn't okay with. There really was no real way to try to reconcile with that, even if he tried his hardest; how could you ask for forgiveness when you didn't have enough time around to do so? He had managed to try to apologize to those he cared about about what Joker had done, but understandably some just told him to shove his words up his ass. Which, he couldn't blame them in the slightest. He was too nervous to talk to anyone that he knew, and with the latest shipment of anti-psychotics running out and not being set to get anymore for a few months, he wasn't sure if this would last longer than a day. He could feel Joker stirring underneath, begging him to lose. Begging him to step to the side so he could take over.
All Jack Napier wanted for at least a day, was just peace. And a drink.
So he went to the place he knew he could drink for free and on the house, the Morgue, the bar attached to the Asylum. He hadn't been here since he had been 'sane', avoiding it at all costs after what Joker had done (and had not done). Avoiding it because it was possible that Roxy would be there. That Harleen would be there. Jack wasn't prepared to face her, because somewhere, the part of him that was Jack, loved her still. But he wasn't an idiot and he knew that she was far better off with the husband she had now, and he'd never ruin that for her. She deserved to be happy. She deserved to be loved. Those were all things he would never be able to give her, because he was always more Joker than anything else.
He took a seat at the bar, after reaching over and grabbing a bottle, and he poured himself a glass. Whiskey and these pills didn't mix, but he knew it wouldn't be long until it wore off, and it wasn't as if he could get drunk anyway; but sometimes it was the old habits that were the most comfortable. So he took a long drink and ran his hand through his hair, brown but the green roots were growing back in,
and his hand shook a bit as he moved them. Side effects. But at least he was alone here. At least no one else was set to come in on a Sunday. Right?
No one was set to come in on a Sunday. At least not in the early afternoon. A place like this was expensive to run and keep open 7 days a week, so she had worked out a schedule that benefited mostly everyone, and kept the books in the black. But that didn't stop her from coming in to make sure that things were running smoothly, things placed where they were supposed to be, machinery and animatronics running normally with no adverse side effects. Though this would be the only place that a head popping off of an animatronic sociopath would add to the effects of scaring the shit out of people and not hinder it. Plus, it got her out of the house and kept her busy while everyone else around her had their black out moments and played super hero, or villain, depending on the person. She and Harley had always been so active around this time, the only time Harley was really allowed to stretch her legs without Roxy's interference, but both of them now had a large responsibility to keep safe and unharmed and that definitely put a damper on a usually peppy psychopath. It would be worth it though, they both knew it, but boy was it hell sometimes knowing you couldn't do what you once were capable of because you weren't allowed to be your reckless self anymore.
Which was why she was here before the place opened. To busy herself with menial task to pass the hours until she was too tired to do much of anything. When you're round and exhausted, you're more than willing to crawl into bed and binge watch TV than to do backflips down the street, killing someone for "funsies." The only problem was at this point, she wasn't sure if Roxy was more upset by this, or Harley, but that was a realization for another day. Today was signing off on payroll, and making sure her taxes were in order. She was already bored at the thought of it.
She usually did her work in her back office, but she was finding the desk and space and everything about it too confining for her growing body and opted to work out in the much larger space of the restaurant where she could pop on a movie on one of the TVs and, the actual reason, be close to the large jar of maraschino cherries that she knew was stashed under the bar. She had come from the back offices, pushing the door open with her foot into the main dining area and stopped, arms full, staring at the man sitting at the opposite end of the bar. Someone who she hadn't expected to see and immediately made her feel suspicious, knowing what week it was.
Her eyes narrowed and she held the contents in her arms a little tighter as she continued to look at him, waiting to see if he made the first move.
"I didn't expect you to be here," she started, eyebrows raised. "No one's here but me."
Of course, he should have expected this. He should have expected that Harleen would be here, but of course he didn't. Because he was thinking in selfish terms. It was one of the ways that Jack knew that Joker was on his way back to the surface. This wasn't going to last more than a few days. There was no way that it could, not with his body constantly regenerating and the drug supply way to low. He wouldn't be able to fight him off too long, and with Joseph being so dormant and resigned, he knew it was going to be up to him to fight off Joker, as long as he could.
When he heard her voice, he just kept his eyes on his glass in front of him, thinking of what to say. He felt his shoulders suddenly tighten, getting into a protective stance, but then quickly relaxed given the situation. "Sorry, Joe's not really around so accessing his thoughts is rather difficult right now. I didn't think anyone would be here on a Sunday. Especially you, Harleen." He had to tread carefully. He hadn't seen her last month when he had been sane thanks to Joe's quick thinking, and now he didn't have more than a few days thanks to Joe's downward spiral of depression. Jack found his brain was working overtime, knowing the connections to make to get the anti-psychotics that he'd need, but nothing would get here in time once the drugs wore off.
But that wasn't the biggest concern right now. "I can go, I didn't mean to bother you, I'm sorry. I just wanted somewhere I could be alone." Jack shrugged, as he finished off his glass in one go and moved to stand up, not sure if he wanted to reveal that he wasn't Joker at the moment, or if he just wanted to leave.
There was something different in the way he was holding himself, and speaking to her. She couldn't quite put her finger on it, but there was a buzz of recognition when he referred to her as Harleen instead of the usual Harley, or any other pet name that he tried when he wanted something from her. Or wanted to do something to her. But she was still wary. After all, it could just be a very good trick to lull her into a false sense of security before he lashed out at her and did whatever he had come here to do. She was alone. She was vulnerable. She knew it was a possibility.
But there was something in her that didn't think that that was what was actually happening right now.
The corner of her mouth twitched, her eyebrow still raised curiously. "Well I do own the place, so it's not too strange." She started, putting down the files and the laptop that she had been cradling and dropping her bag on the bar beside them. She was pretty sure there was a gun in there. Or at least a knife. If the worst happened. She hadn't crossed it off completely yet, though she was definitely more calm than she had been at first glance. He did say Joe wasn't around, but this didn't seem like the Joker to her. Not entirely.
"You don't havta go, you technically own a piece of this place too." She reminded him. "It's good ta see ya...um..." she paused, leaning against the bar. "Somehow calling ya Joker doesn't seem fitting. Who are ya? Or, what are ya? It's familiar but it's not."
"It makes sense, I guess, that you wouldn't immediately know who I was right now." He said with a shrug, and a bit of a smirk; but it was more defeatist than anything else. It was weird seeing her like this, though clear eyes and mind, for however long it would be. Harleen Quinzel. Harley Quinn. Roxy. Not that all three had their own sides, but in a way, they did, didn't they? But with his brain capacity opened up, he knew that she had to be taking stock of all the weapons in the room. Of what she could reach first, if she felt he was a threat, if she felt he was just playing her.
So, he took off his jacket and put it on the bar next to him, to prove he wasn't carrying anything. All he had was Joe's wallet, and phone. Nothing else. No weapons. Nothing but those items, the clothes off his back, and a strange feeling of deja vu. He had done this before. Tried to come back from the brink, tried to save Gotham from itself, from Batman and vigilantes, from people like the Joker. She had been there to help him, to save him. It almost felt like a slap in the face that she didn't recognize him now.
But given her situation, the wedding rings on her fingers, how very pregnant she was, he wasn't in Kansas anymore. At least he could acknowledge that.
"It's...Jack," He swallowed hard, "Napier." And suddenly he felt as if there was a bit of a vice on his throat squeezing his windpipe tight, and he grabbed the bottle next to him and poured another drink, downing it fast. Weird the sudden outset of nervousness that he felt. He hadn't been expecting that.