Red Ring of Death

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A Room of Bad Habits [Jonathan Crane.Scarecrow] - [2/?]

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So a few things beforehand, one of which being that I've actually been working on this for a couple of months now but I haven't uploaded any of it yet because until recently, I was concerned that it'd be something that I start but never really get around to finishing so I made sure to have an endgame before I uploaded any of it. I admit I'm a fan of when sections of stories that I write are similar in length so I wanted to make sure there was that consistency, as well.
Another note is that I was hesitant about uploading this altogether because I struggled with the concept of uploading something that I like purely because *I* like it; I was almost obsessed with the ideas concerning "what if's" - what if no one likes it? What if I spent a lot of time and effort into something only for it to not be acknowledged? What if it's well-meaning but executed poorly to the point of being borderline unreadable? Eventually, the questions devolved into "so what?" So that being said, and I say this from a perspective of self-satisfaction without the intention of sounding pretentious, I'm writing this fic because, as many have said, *I* like it and I hope that others might enjoy it as well. I'll admit while I'm at it that I prefer stories that emphasize the "story" part; yes, it's for the Forum BUT I like having character and plot. "A slow burn", I've heard some call it.
[Also apologies in advance if there's not really a consistent tone - I often have ideas that fall apart halfway through and it causes a tonal shift... or a rubber-band phenomenon].

"...WOW you sound like one of those teenagers that tries way too hard to sound smart." YEAH WELL I like to sound smart, sue me xD

OH I have one other thing to add: While this is sufficiently a Batman fanfic (specifically one that involves his Rogue's Gallery), these iterations of the characters are ones I've thought of, and I don't mean that in the "these are MY ideas and they're COMPLETELY ORIGINAL" way. What I DO mean is that this is not "Cillian Murphy's Scarecrow" or "The Penguin from Gotham" or "Arkhamverse Ivy". While I do have specific models and ideas envisioned, I also sort of hope that doesn't turn anyone away BUT if it does, then it does.

I'll upload the "chapters" once a week with the parts I got then just upload the rest of 'em as I finish them.

Okay, I think that's everything. -clears throat- This fic is rated PG-13 with mentions of a little bit of everything that might make some more sensitive types uncomfortable.
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The air was biting, twisting around the dark spires and cracking foundations of the gothic architecture that dotted the scenery here and there between cramped skyscrapers and dilapidated, abandoned warehouses. There weren’t snowflakes in the air so much as snow clumps, as if the snowflakes themselves huddled together for warmth as they were whipped through the air before finally settling onto broken shingles or the cracked pavement. The sounds of blaring horns and yelling crowds was all but drowned in the whistling wind that burrowed through the channels of the streets, like worms with sharpened noses.

How redundant. However, no matter how angry the wind bit or the weather threatened to drown the area in a flurry of white and garbage, people were still adapting, managing their way to where they needed to go only to be yelled at by their superiors for being late. “Yuck, glad I’m not out there.” With a close of the curtain(not that it helped as the pane was busted out some odd years ago), the pale-faced figure with the twisted grimace waved the weather off nonchalantly as he sauntered back over to the roaring fire, its warmth welcoming on his skin despite only being in front of the window for a few brief moments. He held out an arm and his… “lover”(she liked to call herself that) approached him with just a hint of timidity though it melted soon enough as she melted into his arm in a snuggle. The duo sat down in a worn red armchair that sat a little too conveniently in front of the fire and his green eyes appeared almost acidic as they absorbed the light from the fire, absently swinging Harley’s legs up onto his lap – she was warm, he couldn’t deny that.

“Yeahhh we are, too,” Came a drawl not bothering to hide its sarcasm from the far side of the fireplace. Joker’s attention was snapped from the fire and almost rolled into the back of his head with a groan that wasn’t audible to anyone but himself and maybe Harley. “Can’t imagine you being anywhere else instead of here.” Though the sarcasm was still prevalent, the voice itself changed from reasonable and, dare say, normal, to guttural and with an undertone of snarling, the vitriol gurgling in the back of his throat. Joker’s eyes found Harvey’s and the two stared each other down for a brief moment, Harley glancing between them with a raise of her eyebrows and a bite of the lower lip; all that was missing was the accusatory ‘ooooh, you’re in trouuuuble’ comment.

There was a sigh followed by a brief sticking out of the tongue indicating almost a jeering nature. “We can argue until you’re red in the other half of your face but first of all, we already have and second of all, if you don’t like it, get outta my abandoned building,” Joker pointed towards the barricaded door dismissively, leaning back in his chair once more and turned his gaze back to the fire, free hand messing with one of Harley’s blond curls. “Or will your coin chicken out again and you’ll have to stay though you don’t wanna?” He added with a scoff. After a long pause, Harvey relinquished and draw back into himself, crossing his arms and also deciding to the look at the fire at such an angle that it appeared to light half his face ablaze itself, red and yellow dancing on a watered, melted canvas that once held so much promise.

“I do hate to interrupt your lovers quarrel,” Oswald, who had remained silent for the better portion of the group’s interaction, at least for now, and stood in front of another of the grimy windows to gaze almost longingly at the snow, finally spoke up himself as he turned to regard the others. “But aren’t we supposed to be laying low to avoid the police?”

“What? We’re being plenty quiet!” Joker snorted. “I don’t suppose anyone else here thinks this is just a… big coincidence? Like it was luck that brought us here?” He asked rhetorically. There was a long pause and his hand, which had been raised to show his vote, lowered slowly to wrap around Harley’s shoulders again. “Sheesh, tough crowd.” This incited a small giggle from Harley, almost out of obligation but still sounding genuine.

“Well, ya know at least one’a ‘em don’t believe in no luck,” She nodded in Harvey’s direction before resting her head on Joker’s chest once more. Instinctually, as if simply hearing the word ‘luck’ triggered a reaction, Harvey pulled the scarred coin from his pocket and started fiddling with it in his hand, making it dance on his fingers with practised movement. “And chances are bird-beak don’t believe in it, neither.” She cackled. “Wait…" There was a pause from the blond ?”  She sat up and looked around the dimmed room expectantly, as if Jonathan Crane were to burst through any of the doors or even the floor at any given moment and exclaim ‘here I am!’

“If I know Johnny boy – and I have no idea - he’s probably up top. Nothing like a Crane in a crow’s nest,” He joked with a chuckle. “Speaking of the skinny scientist, go check on him; make sure he isn’t plotting something that could ruin our good time,” he added, giving Harley a sharp, unexpected smack on the back of her head. She flinched with a small grimace and untangled her legs from his, standing up shakily after sitting still for so long. However, instead of immediately complying, she turned and tucked her knees together slightly, hugging her torso and resting her hands on her elbows.

“I don’t wanna go up there by myself!” She whimpered. “Crane gives me the creepy crawlies!” She gave a mock pout, wasted on Joker who simply replied with a blank stare.

“Go beg from one of these guys, then,” He waved boredly. Harley turned on her heel, hair bobbing behind her until her bright blue eyes found Harvey, who almost shrank back as if trying to disappear. Sensing his innate refusal, Harley batted her long eyelashes and sidled up to Harvey rather fearlessly, the latter scooting away from her until he almost slid off the hearth. He was compelled to flip to see whether he’d slap her or not but with Joker RIGHT in front of them, he opted not to bother and simply growled as some sort of warning for her not to touch him. She either didn’t notice or didn’t care and kept advancing, leaning sideways until her face was inches from his.

“Soooo Harvey,” She started with the fakest smile she could muster. “How’s about you come with me?” She stared at him expectantly, watching a snarl unfurl on his half-torn face. He drew the coin close to his chest.

“’How’s about’ we throw you into the fire?” He growled in a half-baked retort. Both of them knew better, though.

“Better flip for it, then,” She taunted lightly, starting to reach forward as if to take the coin from him, to which he drew back quickly.

“DON’T touch it.” The low rumble that was usually in half of his speech was gone, replaced with a sense of fear and almost uncertainty. He glanced down at the shining piece of metal in his palm and he sighed, setting it up but not before shooting Joker a venomous glare. The clown shrugged.

“She’s your problem now,” He replied casually. “Though you’re laying it on a bit thick there, dearie,” He added to Harley, who gave him a sheepish grin. Harvey flared his nostril and brandished the coin for her to see clearly, though positioned to turn quickly if she decided to reach for it. “Heads, I go with you,” He explained, flipping it over. “Tails, you find someone else and don’t talk to me the rest of this… engagement.” Wondering to himself why she didn’t ask Oswald, he got to his feet and flipped the coin with enough power that the sound of the flip rang through the room. He caught it expertly, slapping it on a fleshy, burned, charred arm and lifted just enough of his hand to see for himself before Harley even had a chance to try to catch a peek. The snarl that rested on his face turned into an open grunt of exasperation followed by a bodily sigh.

Harley clapped her hands with a small jump and Harvey wordlessly lowered his head, pointing to the stairs as he put the coin back in his pocket. “Don’t worry, Harv; you’n me will have fun on the way up!” She bubbled, latching herself onto one of his arms. “Lead the way, half-handsome,” She soothed, gravitating towards him though he kept trying to pull away. With one last, quick glare to everyone else in the room, he started muttering to himself under his breath and let himself get dragged away by Harley while Joker loosed a humorless, mocking laugh in the background.

*             *             *

The building itself was a mix between a hotel and an apartment, with narrow halls and old doors that blended with the dingy wallpaper, peeling from rotting wood and rusted steel. The floors groaned with age, each step almost feeling like it was ready to give way under the weight of anyone who passed over. Only a couple people would know how high the building reached into the dark grey sky but it didn’t occur to the duo that now made their way up the stairs slowly.

As soon as they left the room, free from Joker’s scrutiny, Harvey pulled his arm out from Harley’s grip, shoving his hand into one of his suit pockets in a skulk and taking a few generous steps ahead of her to the point that she almost had to jog to keep up with him. “You don’t hafta go SO fast, Harv!” She called.

“The sooner we get to the top, the sooner I can not have to be around you anymore.” He replied. What he lacked in proper sentencing and word structure, he made up for with his voice, which had taken a rather melancholy tone to it; sad and lonely, like wondering if there had ever been light after weeks in pitch black darkness. Suffice to say, the tone did strike a chord somewhere within Harley and she softened ever-so-slightly for a brief moment, remaining silent for a moment despite being sure she could come up with some witty comeback at Harvey’s insistence that he didn’t want to be around her.

The two were silent from then on as they ascended the old building that smelled like musty, powdered concrete with hints of stale blood and years of wasted effort, surprisingly humid for how cold it was outside, but then, that might’ve been some snow that had since melted through the cracks and settled into stagnant pools beneath the peeling paper. It didn’t bother either of them, separate thoughts going through their minds. Harley was thinking about how they all got there together in the first place.

It started with a car crash in the snow, if she recalled correctly, which was a toss-up at this point. It was just her and her Puddin’, screeching down the road at illegal speeds because that’s what she loved to do most with her Puddin’, throwing rusted nails behind them as the open air from their makeshift convertible whipped through her blond hair, snowflakes glistening in the strands. They weren’t even eluding anyone at the time, just out for a drive since the roads were sure to be mostly dead… or so they thought, as they veered around a corner and promptly broadsided the expensive-looking (and probably also stolen) limousine of one Oswald Cobblepot. Metal flew into the air as did snow, the car Joker and Harley were in all but doing a neat little flip right over the limo sans the entire front of the car that was smashed into the body.

Smoke mixed with the snow in the air as four figures clambered out of their respective ruined cars, Joker and Harley from the roofless, now frontless convertible and Oswald and Harvey from the halved limousine. Amazingly enough, there were very few physical injuries (at least ones that were new from the crash), but yelling was plentiful as Joker and Oswald immediately started shouting at each other about which one’s fault the crash was, all the while Harvey was cursing under his breath at Oswald for being a terrible driver and Harley just trying to steady herself after being rattled.

The three of them quickly reached an agreement, however, when they realized that Oswald and Harvey were in the middle of a heist and that SOMEONE had to have heard that crash; the police would be there shortly and with no back-up vehicle to evacuate them, they had unanimously agreed to hide out in one of the nearby abandoned apartments. Joker took up the lead, pulling Harley behind him; sure, they COULD’VE had a firefight with the police but it was cold outside and the four of them weren’t in the mood to go to Arkham Asylum or Blackgate that day. Oswald limped after them at a pretty quick pace for a guy with a leg disfigurement. Harvey was hesitant at first – there was a lot of money in the limo – but after standing in the snow, compulsively letting his coin do the deciding for him, it told him to follow the other three in where he brushed the snow from one shoulder.

“Whoo! How exhilerating!” Joker said with a sigh and a wild smile, pulling Harley in close as she giggled coyly. His bright green eyes looked into her own piercing blue ones, so close to her that their noses were almost touching. It was all very exciting, racing through her mind as their car did down the street. They were out of the snow, she was in the arms of the man of her dreams, it was the perfect set-up for something she yearned for. She exhaled softly and started to close her eyes, felt cold metal on her temple and an admitted, venomous whisper of “I lied” from the man she loved followed by a click and a deafening bang.

Edited by Red Ring of Death

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This is super good so far??? I really love this!!! I hope to see more soon, possibly more than this story too! (maybe with my fave riddling rogue :D) Anyways, your writing is incredibly good and you write these characters very well! Thank you and have a great day!

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Omg this is sooo cute! I cant wait to see when scarecrow (and possibly others??? :) ) get sneezy. So glad someone is working on a story for the batman fandom. Reading this makes me want to keep trying at my snz fic.

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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.

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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.

“Pretty much.”

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.

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Nicely written enjoyed reading this. :) 

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