No Impulse Control
Roleplaying Log: No Impulse Control
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Bart finds Harley, and he doesn't take the chance to hand her over to authorities. …He'll likely regret that.

Other Characters Referenced: The Joker, Owen Mercer, Poison Ivy
IC Date: January 04, 2020
IC Location: Gotham, NJ
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 10 Jan 2020 21:55
Rating & Warnings: G
Scene Soundtrack: Poor Impulse Control by Jack Off Jill
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

Harley hasn't been sleeping.

In a normal human being, this isn't a great state of affairs. Exhaustion. Confusion. Anxiety.

In an unstable Harleen Quinzel, it just destabilizes her more. Paranoia spikes. Her mood becomes a desperately erratic pendulum swing. And her temper becomes dangerously short.

For now, however, Quinn has slowed down enough to find a place in a rundown corner of a park and sit down for a moment. Perched on the back of a bench, it lets her sit at a slightly higher vantage point as she tears huge bites off of a Snickers bar.

She's dressed down for a moment, in leggings and a bomber jacket with a white man's tanktop underneath. Her hair's pulled up messily into long pigtails and her face still has the traces of her death-white clown makeup in the fine creases of her face and about her eyes.

She's been working. For Him. And there is a uniform required. But, for the moment, she seems to be off-duty.


Tracking someone down is easier when you don't get distracted. And when it doesn't get so late. And when you don't have stuff like a day job. At least having super-speed makes up for the little bit of time you end up left with when all is said and done.

So he's back at it again, he's been in and out of Gotham in hopes of catching up with Harley, wherever she may be. The news that SIRIN's been keeping him updated with from Gotham suggests that at least the woman's still in Jersey, not that he'd be upset if it were otherwise. It just meant more of an area to look around.

The breeze blows past Harley after the fact, but by the time it's trailing off again, the white and red-clad speedster's already backtracked and now stands in front of the bench Harley's perched upon. There's an awkward second or two as he just stands there, happy to have found her finally, but having not thought through what happens after that. Nothing new, in other words. So he goes with the default. That seems easiest.

"…hi."


The breeze passes, abrupt and out-of-place. Harley, who spent far more time with Owen Mercer than most, is immediately suspicious. Of course, to Bart, it will seem like slow-motion. The way she shoves her chocolate into her pocket. The knife that she pulls into her hand instead, the blade pulled free of a little scabbard on the double-loop belt she wears but kept pointing backwards.

"Hi," she replies back, with a note to her voice that betrays that she's more than a little caught off-guard by who's standing in front of her. "Ya missed New York by a few miles."


Despite the wariness, Bart still manages a smile, toned down a few notches, but nothing forced. He ignores the fact that she's armed herself, perhaps because he's confident that he can avoid anything should she decide to use her knife- not that he does! Why would she? They're friends, aren't they? Gotham's just the sort of place to make a person jumpy, especially if they've been on some destructive crime sprees.

"Yeah, maybe," he replies, laughing a little. "My brakes aren't that bad, honest. Actually I was hoping to run into you." Beat. "…no pun intended."


Quinn's foot - wrapped in a beat up surplus combat boot - twists just enough to indicate that, like a spooked adder, she's coiling to attack. It seems to be more subtle warning than full intent, but it's there all the same.

She chuckles when Bart laughs, although it's a ghostly and tense sound. "If ya were lookin' to run into me, ya missed me by a few feet. But close enough fer government work." Her head tilts, and her knife twists in her hand. "What can I do fer ya? I ain't seen Mercer, if that's what ya were hopin' for."


His expression falters at that, just a little as he looks down at his shoes. "Oh. Well, it was one part, yeah," the speedster admits, loose gravel crunching under the zig-zagged soles as he shifts his feet. He lifts his head again.

"I heard you were…busy lately, on the news. I just wanted to see how you were." It's an awfully naive excuse but knowing Bart and just looking at him now, he's perfectly sincere. And who else but a speedster would run to another city just because they figured someone was having a bad day?


And it's that sincerity that gets… Well, it gets somewhere with the clown princess. It cuts through the noise just enough to prick another part of Harley's heart.

It stirs her to mercy, in the only way she knows how to give such a gift.

Her head ducks low between her shoulders, and she looks nervously on either side of her before she offers a harsh stage whisper. "Ya shouldn't be here. If Mistah J catches ya, it ain't gonna go well fer anyone."


It's a relationship Bart can't really understand, and isn't even sure where to start with trying. Behind his goggles his brow furrows as his lips pull into a slight frown, and he can't help but glance back and forth as Harley does, as though expecting the clown to leap out of the bushes on cue.

"Are you in trouble?" he asks, lowering his own voice to just above a whisper. Why are they whispering? "I doubt he'd be able to catch me."


"You'd be wrong," Harley tells Bart with all sincerity and belief, the knife still nervously twisting in circles in her hand by her hip. "He doesn't need to run as fast as you to catch ya."

Finally, she slowly stretches one leg down and then the other, still unable to trust that this is what it looks like on paper: a fairly normal conversation. The first she's had, outside of Poison Ivy. And then she continues, her empty hand stretching upwards as she strikes a pose. "And I'm always trouble! That's what I do. Do you know I was gone fer five months and no one gave a rat's patootie?!" Her empty hand comes back down to ball into an angry fist at her other hip. "Five months. This stupid city deserves whatever comes."


The kid looks thoughtful at that, and naturally the first thing that comes to mind regarding the Joker was back when he'd overrun Stark Industries. It had been pretty messy dealing with him and his goons even with others helping clear them out, so he takes Harley's warning to heart as he watches the light glint off of her knife blade with each circuit.

Five months. He winces at that. It's been a busy past few months on his own end of things, so he has no idea what's happened with Harley ever since they'd last spoken. "Sorry to hear that," he says, scratching the back of his neck as he shuffles his feet again in that anxious way a speedster does when having to stand in one place for longer than a few seconds. "So that's why you've been rampaging, huh?" Not that he approves of it, of course.


"Yes!" Quinn blurts out before she can think better of it. "I mean, no!" Well, that doesn't sound quite right either. "I mean, it's none of yer bees' wax, and who asked ya, anyway?"

No longer is the knife in her hand an open secret between them, she pulls it out frustration, shifting her hold to point the blade forward this time. "Ya know what? Nevermind! You don't get ta ask! It's not a rampage; it's a very important lesson about being horrible! Because they are! …horrible, I mean."

With every phrase, Harley gets more and more upset and agitated, the knife definitely whirled around as she talks with her hands and uses it to punctuate her sentences. "Because that's what's the absolute worst! People DON'T UNDERSTAND ANYTHIN’ ABOUT ANYTHIN'. AND YOU CAN TRY AN’ TRY AN’ TRY, AN’ THEY DON'T EVER NOTICE OR CARE UNTIL YA MAKE ‘EM NOTICE. WELL, I DOUBLE DOG DARE ‘EM TO MISS IT WHEN I…"

She stops, and then looks thoughtful for a minute. "Hahaha. Ya nearly had me there. Nice try."


The outburst makes him jump, his eyes fixing on the knife as she jabs it and moves it about as though entranced. As Harley's volume increases, Bart cringes, and he brings his hands up as though gesturing would do anything. Harley manages to catch herself, but even when she stops her rant cold, the young speedster just looks confused.

"I…don't follow," he ventures. What did she think he was trying to do? His gaze drifts back to that knife of hers again, but he relaxes again now that she's not yelling.

"Look. I just wanted to check up on you. Lots of stuff's happened, and I get super distracted, I know. But it just reminds me that I should be better at keeping track of the people I care about. …because it hurts not knowing where people have gone, or what happened to them until it's too late."

Like when Warren and Alison were reported as dead. Or when Owen Mercer vanished without a trace. No big deal, the latter, right? Owen pulled that stunt a lot, but…it doesn't make Bart any less upset about it. At least in the end he'd been able to help out Warren with the others, but it's made him think a lot more.


“Why d’ya care?” Harley asks, and there’s more confusion and hurt in the question than she really means to betray. The pendulum of her mood swings erratically again, and now she’s seeming nearly to tears. “I ain’t with B, I screwed all of ya’ over, and I bet he told ya ta steer clear.”

They’ll forget you. Toxic words, offered as prophecy and warning not that long ago but also forever past, ring back in Harley’s ears in vivid memory. She clamps her hands over her ears and squeezes her eyes tightly shut for a moment as though they were being offered freshly and she should shut the words out. It sets the knife at her temple, and she nearly slices herself in the process.

She tries to regain her equilibrium, but it’s not coming.

“I mean, he did, didn’t he?” she asks, accusing Bart.

He should have, she accuses herself.


When that knife moves so dangerously close to her own head, Bart flails before moving to try grabbing it away. The last thing he wants to deal with is someone who's accidentally stabbed her face.

"Not really, no," he says, not taking long to figure out who 'he' is, and there are only so many Bs they know, and Batman was out of the question. Owen hadn't even told him anything more than that he was dating someone until after the fact. He'd said she was dangerous but even then, Bart could tell it was said with fondness.


It’s been months since she’s heard anything out of Mercer’s mouth other than the sounds of betrayal and contempt, and so whatever fondness Bart recalls…? It’s surely evaporated by now.

As Bart grabs her knife, Harley looks vaguely agitated. But that melts away for a certain confusion. “He didn’t?”

Her whole face screws up, deeply expressive. Deeply disbelieving. Really?

She’s not certain she believes that's true. Not after the things he said. Not after what he did. Not that he really had a choice about some of it, but. Still.

Really?

Maybe it’s because Owen figured Bart would figure it out on his own. Maybe it’s because…. Harley’s thoughts again twist treacherously, but her words come with an innocuous delivery.

“Then I don’t get it.”


That's one less concern at least, although now that he has it, Bart hasn't the slightest as to what to do with the knife now. After some brief consideration, he sets it there on the bench in front of her before flopping down to sit in the unoccupied space beside it.

"There's a lot of things I don't get," he says, sighing as he drops his chin into his hands. "But I guess sometimes it's better not worrying about what the answers are 'cuz they can get in the way." Or he assumes they would. There are a lot of questions he'd never asked Owen but he wasn't sure how simple the answers would have been, and he'd simply been happy to have family in this century.

Not that it seems like he'll get the chance for answers now. He'd ask his mom but she's the one that'd come to this time, not the other way around. And although it isn't the first time Owen had pulled a disappearing act, it's been much longer than before, and Bart can't think of any reasons for this particular one.


“But…”

Does. Not. Compute.

Harley’s brain visibly breaks, and she stares at Bart dumbly with her nose scrunched up on one side. Eventually, the infamously blabby blonde finds words.

“So… yer.. not… here… to.. a…rrest.. me?”

Each syllable, delivered painfully slow, seems to be a trial. Her brow furrows next.

“I-I’m not gonna stop,” she tells him frankly, but she then makes a lunge for her knife to reclaim it.


Bart remains where he slumps, the only movement in reaction to Harley's own being a glance out of the corner of his eye. He sits up slightly, letting his hands fall from propping his head up, his arms resting over his knees as he turns his head towards her. A faint half of a smile quirks at one end of his lips as he shakes his head.

"That hadn't even really crossed my mind," he admits, although the arch of his brow poses the unspoken question of 'Should I be?' "I wanted to see what was wrong, that's all. And…if there was anything I could do to help." He supposes he can't be really disappointed about what she says though, about not stopping, although it does make him frown a little.

"Why not?"


“Why should I?”

The knife in Quinn’s hand fits comfortably. It twists again as she settles its pommel back into the familiar place in her palm. So much is about the comfort of familiarity, snatched in small handfuls. Unfortunately, those small handfuls have a very nasty habit of slipping through fingers.

There’s something decidedly petulant in the way she puts the question to Bart. She crosses her arms. She kicks out a leg. What Bart likely doesn’t realize is how defensive and self-protective the question really is—how fragile her position.

Save that there is, of course, the lean shadow that looms so large in her world, ever prodding her down her self-destructive course.


Her response receives a blink. He hadn't really expected a question to be turned back to him, much less is he prepared to give an answer. Usually he's the one asking questions, after all.

"Uh…" It's obvious, right? Or is this a trick question? Or is she actually expecting a real explanation? For a split-second he debates on texting Red Robin for advice before deciding to go with the first response that came to mind after "Uh."

"…because it's not good?"


“It is for me,” Quinn says with a shrug, her knife tucked safely under an armpit. “Soooo… I guess that means I’m cool.”

Her eyes roll upwards. “I mean, and that’s even before ya get ta the part where ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are really jes’ arbitrary social constructs that have been mostly mutually agreed upon or otherwise enforced by human societies fer thousands of years, so it’s really more a matter of habits than any actual hard and fast rules. I mean, jes’ cuz some Bozo with a pen says yer a coconut, ya gonna let someone poke a straw in ya? Of course not! Because man was born ta be a free thinker.

Ah, irony.


"But if everyone messed up everyone else's stuff then who'd be happy with that?" Bart asks, sounding like he's really giving this some thought. The news reports had said Harley'd caused property damage but no one had been hurt at least.

"Anyway, if you don't wanna get arrested, why do all the stuff that will make people want you to get arrested?" It doesn't make much sense to him. He used to figure bad guys did bad things because they were bad, until Max Mercury had explained that things weren't really all that black and white. That just makes things super complicated, but it's never been this much so, now that he's tried making friends with someone who more or less identified with a villain.


Harley again shrugs.

That’s all she’s got. A shrug.

“I have a well-documented problem with impulsivity.”

A beat. And then her empty hands spread like a showman towards Impulse, as her grin explodes, gigawatt bright.

“HA!”

Her features hang there, frozen, as she waits for a reaction. The knife? Securely tucked under her arm.

Because when you can’t deal, you deflect.

That’s the magic.


"…hah! I see what you did there."

So sometimes he's a little slow for a speedster. His response could go for both the pun and the knife she's so neatly put away, his grin not nearly so big as Harley's, but unforced. The answer is fair, Bart supposes. It brought them in a neat circle back to when they'd first met. Or was it a square?

"Can't really say anything against that one," he concedes, his grin softening into something just a touch sheepish. That leaves him at a loss as to where to go from there. He sits back a little, stretching his legs out, his heels digging lightly into the sparse grass as he wiggles his shoes back and forth.

"…take care of yourself. Okay, Harley?"


“I always do!” Harley chirps, seemingly oblivious. It’s a lie in every way.

She’s not. Not oblivious. Not good about self-care.

But she’s a damn good liar. Or she’s good at lying to herself at the very least.

“You, too, yeah? An’ jes’… remember to stay clear of Gotham fer a few days?”

She doesn’t wait after that, not willing to court it descending into an altercation by tempting Impulse’s conscience any further. Instead, she just looks around her, and then starts jogging deeper into the park.

…she should have brought her skates.

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