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Oh, really? I also prefer colds but my germaphobia still kicks in if they're attractive to me. It's just a bit less of a germaphobic reaction than if they aren't attractive to me. There's a line for me that separates "not too sick -- I almost want to catch it" and "too sick -- I don't care if you're a Disney prince stay away from me I do not want to get that." (Although I've been in situations where I've had both of those reactions lol.)
First off, eyyyy two replies! Two more than I was expecting, you guys rock! Secondly, I did mention this was gonna be a slow boil, right? Sorryyyy sorry sorry I know, I know but I'm really trying to establish character interaction here [on some off-chance I write for different characters in the future]. HahahahaaaaI'm really bad at this.
He wasn’t able to do much of anything to get her to stop screaming and crying. Suffice to say, she was in hysterics and Harvey had no clue how it happened; one moment, they were walking in bitter silence, and then she suddenly crumpled to the ground, hands over her ears as she broke down like a porcelain vase being thrown down onto a tile floor. He turned , initially alarmed if only because he thought the noise wasn’t her, but someone else, someone from a distant memory that he forced himself to forget about. It wasn’t the same and his expression went from a mild, nostalgic concern to annoyance.
“Hey…” He grunted, going over to her and tapping her leg with one of his shoes. No reaction. “We should just leave her and go back downstairs,” He growled to himself, his voice dropping back to the guttural snarl, turning his head sharply. “N… no, we can’t.” He replied in the normal, melancholy voice, Harvey Dent’s voice. “The coin said we would go with her.” “Then let’s drag her back downstairs.” Two-face suggested unhelpfully. The man paused for a moment, temporarily drowning out Harley’s breakdown in introspection. With a shaking hand, he pulled his familiar coin out of its resting pocket. He wasn’t sure but there was a doubt tugging on his mind, almost as if the coin wouldn’t answer his question, decide what he should do, what THEY should do—no, it was just him. “Hurry it UP,” Two-Face growled and Harvey flipped the coin, odd-eyes watching it spin through the air meticulously before catching it. Heads. Two-Face growled but relinquished and Harvey knelt next to the crying woman, carefully maneuvering around her until one arm was in the crook of her knees and the other holding up her back. Harley quieted up slightly though her body still shook with sobbing, whimpering “why, Mister J” now and then.
And with that, Harvey carried Harley back down the stairs, back the way they came, back down the moldy hallways and nipping air and creaking floorboards, taking care not to bang any part of her on any part of the environment, though he wasn’t entirely sure whether that was out of respect for her or more that he didn’t want to deal with any abuse Joker could hurl his way for “daring” to lay a hand on her in one of his misplaced moments of compassion for her. He wasn’t surprised to find that Joker had since slung a leg over one of the arms of the chair, lazily looking over as Harvey entered the room once more with Harley in his arms, having since stopped crying and was now sniffling pathetically. “Well, that was quick. I was wondering both how long that would take and who was doing the screaming,” He raised an eyebrow mischievously.
“…How long what would take?” Oswald asked as Harvey gritted his teeth and set Harley down on the floor in front of the hearth. She sat up and pulled her legs to her chest, hugging them and resting her face in her knees. Joker scoffed and pointed straight up.
“It’s Scarecrow, what do you think?” He asked, a giggle lacing his question. “The guy reeks of ‘fear toxin’. Do you know what that does to people’s complexions?” He whispered loudly, looking at Oswald as he pointed obviously to Harley and Harvey. “No way I’m goin’ up there.”
“Then what was the point of US going up there?” Two-Face growled, crossing his arms as he glared Joker down. Joker shrugged.
“I thought it’d be funny.” He replied simply. “Well, that AND the fact that she’s a wreck means that whatever he’s working on up there will eventually come down HERE then we’ll ALL be in trouble,” He added, gesturing with his hands as he talked. “Sooo we still need to get someone up there to nix that. I don’t wanna; this chair’s comfy.”
Harvey’s hands clenched into fists and he sniffed absently. “That’s your… ONLY reason?” The question was asked through the spaces in his teeth and he felt for a moment as though the enamel would crack from the pressure he was forcing. The clown regarded him for a moment before shrugging again.
Harvey started to make a lunge for Joker to beat the scarred smile off his smug face; he hated him, he hated everything about him from his stupid green hair to the permanent sneer on his face to the garish purple suit to his blasé attitude about everything. Suffice to say, as they stood, he was probably one of the people Harvey wanted to kill most aside from Batman or Bruce or—well, the list was long. However, he stopped himself suddenly as if someone pressed a pause button. Joker, who hadn’t even flinched, raised an eyebrow as he looked over at Harvey, an almost daring look on his thin face. “Don’t forget to flip for it.” Harvey felt a growl from deep inside his chest… and a twinge of an itch on his face. He took a step back, swiping at his nose and glancing down at his familiar pocket, pulling the coin out a fourth time.
“Don’t bother.” This voice was new, unheard until the words were spoken right before Harvey was going to flip on whether or not he should strangle Joker. He complied, to as much of his surprise as anyone else who knew him. The three men glanced over at the only doorway, in the direction the voice had slithered its way into the room and through everyone’s heads like water on a stone. Harvey’s shoulders drooped and he glanced down, Joker tilted his head slightly in what could’ve been interpreted as surprise and it was Oswald’s turn to scoff.
“Wasn’t expecting to see you here, Miss Ivy.” Despite his dry tone, he bowed his head slightly as she crept into the room, sticking to the far wall. She kept her unnaturally green eyes on the present company though her attention briefly flitted to Harley’s curled figure on the ground, partially illuminated by the ever-present fire, which she was also keenly aware of. However, she masked whatever uncertainty she held for whatever reason behind her air of aloof superiority and she reached up absently to twist one of her fingers around a vine that hung from her vibrant red hair, the vine licking at her skin and coiling like a spring.
“And I wasn’t expecting to see a bunch of…” She paused before flipping her hair carefully. “Anyway, I heard screaming.” She continued, leaving Oswald to get a look on his face, clearly wondering what she was intending on calling them. “I was told that there’s a little birdy up on the top floor conducting experiments.” She explained. “I don’t care how he got there or why you all are here or how I got here but I can assume that someone—“ She motioned to Harley. “—was sent upstairs but didn’t get too far.” She paused, leaning against the wall casually. “Why do you want him gone?”
They were all quiet for a moment. Oswald, his mind still burning with curiosity at how she got there, didn’t say anything and instead tried to see if he could map out where they were spatially and if there was a place nearby that grew plants. Harvey had since actually gone around Harley to the other side of the hearth, now standing much closer to Oswald than Ivy and still avoiding her gaze though he started to glance up once and she responded with a brief, playful kissing motion. He thrust his hands into his pockets and looked back down at Oswald’s ornate black cane rather nervously… or was it irritation? So Joker decided to answer since now that the question was asked, only he was sure about what the answer was.
“I’m not a big fan of sharing an abandoned building with him,” Joker replied. Ivy raised her own eyebrow this time.
“So leave the building. Problem solved.” Joker laughed.
“Have you seen the weather? I’m not going out in that without a car, nor do I wanna lug her ass around,” He added, lazily pointing to Harley. That reminded Ivy… She approached the other woman and knelt next to her, touching her shoulder lightly. Harley sniffed and her bloodshot eyes found Ivy’s.
“H-hey, Red,” her voice cracked, thick with mucous from crying and raw from her screaming earlier. Ivy reached into her hair and pulled out a small orange flower bud, offering it to Harley.
“I’d say ‘I don’t care’ and leave you all to it,” She addressed Joker as Harley took the orange bud delicately, looking at it and gasping softly when the petals opened up at her touch and a warm, sweet feeling seemed to wash the stitches of anxiety and dread away. Ivy gave her a rather supportive pat on the back in exchange for a teary smile from Harley as the former kept her eyes on Joker. “But if there’s one thing I hate more than… everyone, it’s everyone panicking and losing their minds and burning things down because that’s what humans do when they’re scared.” It was a little bit of a stretch but she had to think ahead with a little bit of a paranoid edge, especially given that the three guys in the room didn’t seem to care either way and that it was a minour inconvenience at most for Joker, not to mention she was irritated at all of them, especially Crane, that no one bothered to make sure Harley was okay; she considered herself on a higher plane, a more advanced individual part of a delicate ecosystem of plants and flourishing life but she couldn’t bring herself to fully hate a woman as broken as Harley.
Joker adjusted his position with an underlying eagerness. “Ooh, so you WILL go talk to him? Good, that works out in my favour!” He cackled. “You’re immune to his whatever-that-is anyway, right?” He asked rhetorically. “It’s perfect!” Ivy rolled her eyes and got to her feet again and Harvey took another step towards Oswald, who finally noticed that Harvey was getting a little close and he, in turn, took a step away from him. Ivy ignored him.
“…Fine, I’ll go talk to him.” Ivy sighed, rubbing one of her temples and getting a feeling similar to talking to small children who had no concept of common sense. “And Harvey? You can’t avoid me forever.” With those things said, she turned and sauntered out of the room, the vines that had since wormed their way into the doorway retracting to follow her, leaving dead leaves behind. Joker and Oswald’s gazes followed her before Oswald’s went back and he bit his lower lip, looking over at Harvey.
“You can’t avoid her forever.” He repeated, nudging Harvey in the side with a pointy elbow. In a fluid motion, Harvey pulled his coin out, flipped it, checked the result and gave Oswald a solid slug in the shoulder, the entire action taking less than five seconds. Oswald squawked and recoiled so sharply he almost fell over, rubbing his shoulder. “You bloody sunova—“ He cursed, his accent suddenly dipping from refined to informal and loose. He glared at Harvey. “You got a history with ‘er then, ey?” He asked dryly. Harvey rubbed his nose again, looking down at his coin in mock-examination.
“…We don’t wanna talk about it.” He murmured rather thickly. Joker glanced over his shoulder at the two of them, then down at Harley who was still looking the orange flower over gently.
“You guys are the best company,” He said sarcastically, lifting his leg over the arm of the chair again and he sulked down, resting his head on a hand as he looked back at the fire.
Greetings everybody! I want to apologize to you guys for going on a bit of a hiatus again. This summer has been crazy hectic, and although I've actually had this chapter finished for a while, I never got around to posting it. Part of me is glad I didn't, because I did go back at one point and rewrite it because it wasn't sitting right with me. I feel much better about it now and hope you all enjoy it! Regarding what comes next, its just been hard lately to find the right inspiration to continue writing this story. I write when I feel like I've been hit by a stroke of genius, and I just got hit with a little bit of one the other night. I am working on the next part, and so far I'm feeling good about it, but I have absolutely NO IDEA when I will actually get it all set and up on here. I'm hoping it won't take me as long as this one did right here, but please bear with me. I promise I will get around to it, and I once again thank you all for your kind words and patience! Now, without further ado, the next chapter!
~ Part 9: Seeking Warmth~
Evelyn woke up late into the night, freezing cold. Not recognizing where she was for a brief moment, because it was darker than when she had fallen asleep, she was quite confused. After her eyes became better adjusted, she realized that the candle in the lantern had burnt out, causing her lack of warmth and light. She could, however, make out the moonlit shape of Lars still next to her. He had fallen asleep while sitting with his back against the side of the boat, his arms folded across his torso and his chin tucked to his chest as he snored softly.
Evelyn got up and paced for a few moments, rubbing her arms in an attempt to warm herself as she thought of what to do. She didn’t want to wake Lars, but she wasn’t sure that she had many other options to choose from in terms of finding a way to stay warm. ‘I hardly doubt he’ll be angry with me if I wake him. Besides, his neck will be awfully sore in the morning if he continues to sleep like that.’ She reasoned to herself as she walked over to where his shoulder met the bench.
She called out his name multiple times, trying to be a bit louder each time, but he didn’t budge. When that failed to work, she tried hitting his shoulder repeatedly as well as shouting. Other than him shifting for a brief moment to scratch at it in his sleep, prompting her to quickly move out of the way, he had no reaction. She sighed with frustration, remembering now how he had said he was a heavy sleeper. Suddenly, she had an idea. ‘If I can just get close enough to his ear, he’ll most definitely hear me and wake up!’ she thought to herself. With renewed determination, she started to carefully climb up onto his shoulder.
Just as she had made it to the top, his snoring abruptly stopped. She felt him shift beneath her and looked down to see him bring his hand up. Fearing he would swat her off in his sleep, she clung to his shirt as tightly as she could. Thankfully, he just rubbed at his nose briefly before relaxing again. Taking this as her queue to resume moving, she continued crawling on her hands and knees towards his head.
With how things had been going lately, she should’ve known better and waited to make sure he was sound asleep again. She had nearly made it to his ear when she felt him start to tense up beneath her. Glancing down, she gulped as she saw his chest spasm ever so slightly as his breath became more erratic. When his head slowly tilted back, she could tell that his sinuses had been draining in his sleep from the way the moonlight reflected off the mucus trailing from his flaring nostrils down to his upper lip. She was him blink awake momentarily, looking more than a little disoriented by the situation, before his eyes fluttered shut once more.
After some quick thinking, Evelyn scrambled to her feet and lunged forward, grabbing onto a lock of his hair. She gripped it tightly as she heard the telltale “Hahhh…” as his chest heaved in one last breath. A brief second passed, and then “HAH’SCHOOU!”
His head snapped downwards with the uncovered release, and the momentum sent Evelyn swinging. “Lars! LARS PLEASE HELP!!!” she screamed in fright as she felt herself slipping. Just as she was about to lose her grip, she found his hand gently wrapped around her. Letting go of his hair, she gripped his thumb tightly as he moved so that he was holding her in front of his face.
“Are you alright?” He asked in a soft voice. He could just make out her wide eyes staring up at him in the moonlight and feel her trembling in the palm of his hand.
“I-I’m fine, thank you.” she forced herself to reply as she calmed herself.
“That’s a relief, but… but what exactly w-were you doin- HRESH-CHOU!” he abruptly turned his head from her and caught the sneeze in his empty hand. Much to his irritation, the release left warm mucus flowing into his cupped hand.
“Bless you!” Evelyn called out to him.
“Thank you. Would you, um, mind if I set you down for a moment?” he asked tentatively.
“Not at all!” she quickly replied, sensing his discomfort. He lowered his hand down beside him to the floor of the boat and waited for her to step off. As soon as she had done so, he reached into a pocket and pulled out the quilt she had given him earlier. He immediately buried his nose into it and gave a small blow, letting the rest of his congestion seep out. He then wiped the area under his nose and his hand clean before tucking the fabric away again and offering his hand back out to her. “Excuse me, and thank you again for giving that to me.”
“You’re quite welcome!” she replied cheerily as she stepped back onto his hand so he could bring her closer to his face once more. “Oh, and, um… in regards to what you were trying to ask me a moment ago, the candle in the lantern burnt out and I woke up feeling chilled.”
“Ah, so then you tried to wake me?” he asked.
“Y-Yes, although I suppose I wouldn’t have tried had I known you were going to sneeze yourself awake.” she said with a small giggle.
Lars chuckled embarrassedly. “Yeah, I suppose I wasn’t anticipating that either. I’m sorry if I startled you…”
“I accept your apology.” She said, hugging his thumb with a smile. The warmth of his skin felt nice, and she found herself reluctant to let go. Noticing this, Lars had an idea. Carefully dropping her into his chest pocket, he moved so that he was lying down on the floor of the boat. “Is it comfortable enough in there?” he asked.
She poked her head out of the pocket, smiling at the warmth. “Much better, thank you!” she called out before tucking herself back in.
“You’re quite welcome. Please don’t hesitate to wake me again if you need anything eh-…” he stalled, feeling the urge to sneeze creep back up on him again.
Evelyn noticed the difference in his breathing and braced herself for whatever was to come. She curled up and waited… and waited… and after seconds went by and his breath started to even out again, she had assumed his need to sneeze had passed. Thinking it safe to let herself relax again, she did so. As soon as she got comfy, however, she felt his chest rise dramatically underneath her, then sink rapidly as he finally sneezed a breathy “HEHT’CHOO!” It wasn’t particularly large for one of his sneezes, but the suddenness of it left Evelyn feeling like she had just snapped awake from a dream where she had been falling. She floundered about momentarily in disorientation and surprise.
“I-I’m sorry about that. Are you alright?” Lars asked with a sniffle, embarrassed. He had tried to fight the sneeze off, but it had snuck back up on him just as he thought it had passed.
“Yes! You startled me a little, but I’m perfectly fine!” she called back to him as she settled down once more.
“That’s a relief. I’ll try to hold any others back the best I can for the rest of the night.” he replied in a quiet voice.
“There’s no need to do that! If you have to sneeze, then you have to sneeze!” she said, popping her head back out.
“Yes… but I don’t want to disturb your sleep any more than I already have.” he said, uncertainty and guilt evident in his voice.
“Oh…” Evelyn said, mostly to herself. She didn’t realize he was so concerned about her. She couldn’t help but find that endearing. “Um, I really don’t mind it much. You’re still ill, so I know you can’t help it. Besides, even if you do wake me, I’ll likely fall right back asleep. It’s rather cozy in here!” She said, trying to reassure him.
“Are you certain..?” he asked.
“Yes, I’m absolutely positive! Please don’t worry about me too much. I promise I’ll find a way to wake you if I need anything.” she answered.
“Alright, as long as it’s fine by you.” He replied with a yawn, crossing his arms beneath his head. “Goodnight, Evelyn.”
“Goodnight!” she replied, content and cozy. The rhythmic beating of his heart and the gentle rise and fall of his chest as he breathed helped her fall asleep rather quickly. Thankful that the need to sneeze had left him, Lars followed suit not long after.