Chapter Three - Death
My name is Thomas Blake. My friend is about to die, and there is nothing I can do about it.
My heart is racing faster than my feet can run. What seems to be an infinite number of doors rush across either side of me as I clash Scandal’s bed down the halls, shrieking sirens and screaming babies echoing around me, clouding my focus. I need to get her help.
“Damn it, where’s the Emergency Room?!” Catman screamed out desperately, tattered cape flowing out behind him as he ran through the hallways, blood dripping down off of the bed and staining that pristine whiteness of Gotham Hospital.
Scandal Savage’s face was getting paler by the second, her short dark hair hanging limp against the blood-drenched sheets. They were losing her.
"We'll take it from here, son." A doctor rushed up to Thomas Blake’s side, placing one hand on the man’s shoulder, the other on the speeding bed as he began to steer it to a proper room. “Please, sir, be patient… we’ll take care of her.”
A bright red light flickered on over the door the doctor had led her into, reading “WARNING: Operation in Progress”. Despite how ominous it was, Blake felt a weight lift off of him – she was out of his hands now, not his responsibility. If she died, he knew who to kill. It had been a long day, though….
“I see you’ve made it, Scandal Savage. I’ve been awaiting your coming for some time now,” came a soft, low voice.
Scandal squeezed her eyes shut until they stopped stinging, sitting up on the bed and holding one hand to her forehead. “Hangover… I have really got to lay off drinking for a couple days,” she groaned to herself, a headache throbbing throughout her body from her temples to her chest. “Or at least give that tequila a rest.”
“You don’t have a hangover, Scandal Savage,” came that voice again, a hint of amusement in it. “You haven’t even had a drink in the past few days. You’re dying.”
“Ragdoll, if that’s you, go take five and come see me after I’ve had a shower,” the woman said, awkwardly pulling herself off of the bed and fumbling for a lightswitch. Finding none, she grumbled and opened her eyes, letting them adjust to the darkness. “’Doll, do you mind…?”
“I’m not your friend. This is not the House of Secrets. I am Death, and you are soon to die.”
Catman fell back against the little black hospital bench, slouching and holding his hands over his face. “Oof,” he growled. “So this is how it feels to sit down?”
“Lucky I let you go ahead… seems I wasn’t quite as fast after all,” Bane said quietly, giving Blake a stern, yet comforting, nod as he sat down beside him. “You did well.”
Catman quickly picked himself up into a proper sitting position, wiping his eyes and looking towards the bigger man. “Bane?”
“Si.” Bane turned back to the red, glaring light above the emergency room. "We've been running around for so long, you tend to forget how important the little things are. More importantly, we’ve started to forget that Scandal Savage is mortal."
Thomas sighed quietly. “Yeah.”
Bane finally looked down from that red sign, looking to his hands for a moment before turning to the man beside him, at Catman’s drooping, bloodshot eyes. "Te ves como una mierda, amigo.”
Bane pauses for a moment, stroking his chin. “You… look unwell.” The born-convict began to chuckle softly, a knowing look in his eyes, something he was holding back. Blake, however, looked away and back to the gleaming, checkered white floor.
“What is on your mind, then, Mr. Blake?” the big man said softly, letting out a concerned huff.
Just then, a quiet humming of “Nananananananana, nananananananana Batdoll! Batdoll,” broke the awkward silence left between the two men. Somewhere among the hospital, Peter Merkel had found a small black plastic bag and was holding it over his head, swaying happily from side to side. Following close behind was a man in a loose red mask and matching red trenchcoat – Cole Cash, Grifter. And behind him, a strutting, hammer-hefting clowngirl by the name of Harleen Quinzel. Harley Quinn.
“I’m pretty sure that’s a choking hazard, ‘Doll,” Blake attempted with a weak smile.
“Nopenopenope, that’s only for babies. Pretty sure.”
“You are a baby, Pete,” Grifter deadpanned.
“Hey. I resemble that remark.”
Catman took a deep breath, clenching one fist and starting to stand. “I suppose it’s time for us to go, then,” he growled. “That Funhouse won’t destroy itself.”
"Woah," Grifter interrupted. "I'll take it from here, Cat. You stay here with the girl… if she wakes up, she’s gonna want more than just Dirty Sanchez over there waiting for her, eh? Come on guys, let’s get out of here."
Grifter scoured his way down the halls, a smirk slowly spreading across his face. He leaned down slightly, whispering to Harley as they exited hospital "Hey leggy cupcake... wanna go kill a circus?"
“Ooh, I know this one!” Harley squealed excitedly. “We goin’ for the juggler?”
“You know it.”
“I have always found the jugular to be quite overrated,” Ragdoll commented. “The femoral artery is much more fun… dear me, the spurts!”
“I’m… I’m not going to die, though, right?” Scandal attempted. “I mean… I haven’t exactly died yet.”
“You’ve come close, a few times,” the figure said. As the Secret Six’s leader’s eyes adjusted to the darkness, they were finally able to make out a distinct silhouette, though that was all – a tall, thin, bald man wearing a business suit, with inhumanly long arms and legs. He was standing near her bed, still, but she could feel his gaze, knew he was looking at her. His voice was rumbling, yet calm, as it continued. “And we’ve met here a few times before, as well. I’m not surprised that you don’t remember. All that alcohol may have fuddled your memory, a bit.”
“…I don’t drink that much,” she said, folding her arms under her breasts now and leaning back against the wall where she had failed to find the light. The figure just chuckled softly. “Alright, so what happens now, then? A series of trials? Do I have to prove I’m worthy to live, or something?”
“Darling, if worth equated to our lifespan, there would be a lot less people in the world. You among them. A lot of good men and women would still be alive, as well. No, my dear… worth has nothing to do with death.”
“So what, then? Are you just going to stand there and keep being spooky and cryptic? Because I really have better things to do with my time.” Scandal Savage snarled, still keeping her firm position.
“Exactly that, actually. I can’t take you until you die, and you may yet live. So we wait. It may be a good time for you to consider your life a bit more objectively – here, on the cusp of it all. What do you have worth living for, Scandal Savage?”
“Can't we just break the glass?” Harley asked innocently.
“No,” Grifter mumbled, a slim screwdriver withdrawn from his sleeve. He persisted in his attempt to pick open the locks on the ambulance van, his eyes narrowed in focus.
“Perhaps we should offer candy? My sister used to tell me if I didn’t behave, I’d get dragged into a van filled with candy – I always wondered what she meant, but made sure I never, ever behaved,” Ragdoll chattered to himself. “Perhaps if we filled the van with delicious treats, it would feel more comfortable with us… ooh! Or perhaps we should simply misbehave?”
“’Doll, if we were gonna get into this van by misbehaving, we’d already be inside.” Grifter grunted, still fidgeting with the lock. “Just shush, please… dealing with children….”
“Oh oh oh!” Harley suddenly exclaims, tapping her temple lightly with the end of her hammer. “I could find Ivy, maybe? We could definitely do it.”
Grifter sighed heavily, finally throwing the screwdriver down and tossing his arms up. “Ugh, fine. Harley? Whack.”
“Squeee! Comin’ right up, Grifty!” Harley bounces up and down on her tiptoes for a moment, her pigtails bobbing like excited little dustbunnies on the sides of her head. She reared back, the powerful, enhanced muscles of her back contracting with the force of the oncoming blow before she paused. “Hey, wait a sec. What’s your name, anyway?”
“Harley,” she giggled wickedly as she slammed the metal head of her “mallet” against the car window. It shattered completely, alarms beginning to ring out through the hospital.
“What in the world have I gotten myself into….” Grifter shook his head slightly. “And they said I was the class clown back with the Wildcats.” He hopped unceremoniously into the driver’s seat and quickly hotwired it, Harley riding shotgun and Ragdoll curling up ominously in the back.
“Ooh, it’s nice back here… once, when I was very young, I found myself in a—“
“Y’know, I’m startin’ to think that kid with the bandages may have some mental problems,” Harley said casually. “Thinkin’ maybe a rough childhood? Am I gettin’ warm? Used t’ be a psychiatrist, y’know, so you can trust me n’ whatever.”
“You know…” Peter said softly, grabbing a length of tourniquet cord from the backseat and gradually wrapping the ends around his bandaged hands. “You may be right… I grew up with extensive beatings and torture growing up, if any of our readers didn’t read the source material.”
“Ah, I thought so. Why doncha tell me about it?” Harley attempted, still looking at the road ahead as Grifter steered the van towards the funhouse not too far away.
“Oh, but it’s such a terribly long story, it would be so rude of me to prattle on about myself…” Ragdoll crooned, reaching forward to slowly loop the makeshift garrote around the clowngirl’s head. Suddenly, Cole tilted the van in a sharp turn, sending Peter rocketing towards the back of the vehicle with a squishy-sounding thud.
“We’re here, kids. Playtime’s over for now.”
“Aw, is it? Or has it just begun?” Harley said with a wicked grin.
Grifter, Harley Quinn, and Ragdoll poked their respective heads up from the bushes they were hiding in, their eyes narrowed intently. Harley stifled a giggle.
The door was guarded by two burly men dressed in dirty coats and clown masks, and armed with AK-47’s. One of them looked mildly aware, but the other was slouched against the building, a PSP in his hands and his gun leaning against his leg. Easy as cake.
“Okay,” Grifter whispered. "Harl, you go and persuade the guards to let you through, hopefully they haven’t gotten the news that you and the clown aren’t on good terms. Once you're in, open the back door. Ragdoll.”
“Yes?” Ragdoll responds, idly flopping his lopsided pile of raggedy “hair” back and forth.
“Be quiet and don’t do anything.”
“Sir, you are no fun at all.”
Harley dusted herself off and casually stood, trotting her way towards the two clown guards with a less than impressed look. “Hey you mooks!” she barked. “Lennyyyy, Viiic, miss me?” Harley waved as she made her way towards the door, as if they weren’t going to stop her.
"Sorry, Ms. Quinn, but da Joker ain't ready for ya right now"
“What the hell do you mean?” Harley said warningly, a stern look coming over her pale features. "Mistah J asked me to be here... he’ll be mad if I ain’t there on time, and I’ll make sure he knows who stopped me."
Lenny chewed the inside of his cheek and glanced back at Harley awkwardly before leaning into his radio. “Uh, hey boss, Harley's here. We let her in?”
"Certainly not," a feint sound of a woman buzzed out of the radio.
“Rabbit? The guard said curiously.
"Tell that… whorish ex of his, the clown prince has found a proper princess."
A low, furious growl builds in Harley’s throat as she takes a few steps back towards the bushes where Grifter and Ragdoll were still hiding. “Can you believe this $#@%ing %$#@?! Who does this bitch think she is?! Did you hear that? $#@%ing PRINCESS?!” she roared at the two hiding villains.
“Um… hey Vic, is it jus’ me or is Harley over there screamin’ at da bushes?”
Victor looked up from his game. “Yeah, I guess she is. She always was a little screwloose.”
Grifter held up his hands and slipped out of the bushes. “Harley, Harley, shh, it’s fine, I’ll take care of it.” He stepped up to the gate of the funhouse, still a little astounded that the guards were so excessively non-hostile. “Hola, party people. I believe I’m on the fun list?”
“Name?” Lenny asked boredly, digging a little list of out of pocket and glancing down at it.
“Franco Umbelele Cruz Kevcgenko.”
“Hey, dat even a really name?” The guard tilted his clown mask up, revealing his scruffy, unkempt face as he scanned the list over. “Don’t see nothin’ like it.”
“Ahhh, worry not, it’s commonly misspelled. Allow me.” Cole grabbed the list swiftly and began to scribble at the bottom of it.
“Ey! No writin’ yer own name, pal!” Lenny shouted, snatching the list back roughly and glancing down at it. “Bang bang? Man, dat ain’t a name—“
Grifter tilted his head and smirked, two pistols pointed at the guard’s face. “Bang bang.”
“Here, my friend. Have a drink.” Bane produced a small flask from his side pocket, offering it to Catman.
Blake hesitated only for a moment before grumbling “Thanks,” and taking a long swig from the little steel container. After it touched his lips, he tilted his head back slightly and began to drain the flask of its contents, starting to cough immediately afterward. “Aghhhh,” he groaned, leaning over in the bench and trying to get his breath. A little chuckle rippled throughout Bane’s massive body, causing his muscles to seemingly bulge.
“Is this vodka?” Blake spluttered. “How did you manage to get vodka into a hospital?”
“Heh,” Bane retorted quietly. “I didn’t. They found it on Scandal. But besides, if I had, who would have taken it from me?”
“Good point, I guess,” Catman agreed, before his body suddenly leapt slightly, a small, strangled sound escaping his throat. “…Did I just hiccup?”
Bane’s stoic attitude nearly breaks as barely-restrained laughter makes his body starts to shake. “Trouble holding your poison, Mr. Blake?”
“This isn't funny Bane! I can’t drink, I never drink! It… doesn’t agree with me. I start to… bad things happen.”
Bane’s mirth comes to a quick end as he turns his masked face to the smaller man. “You do what you hate doing... now, honesty. You are not the only one who feels pain, my friend. Talk.”
There was a bit of a silence as Blake stared at his feet, taking another begrudging swig from the flask. “You want to know why I wear this cape? Because for some stupid reason, I thought as soon as I put it on I could be a hero. Just like Batman, just like Superman. But I'm not. They save the innocent citizens, they put the bad guys in jail, and they go home and have a great big party. And those guys they throw in jail are us. What did we do wrong? What are we all doing wrong? Who wants to be the bad guy?
Bane remains silent for a moment, gathering his thoughts and taking a deep breath, his chest puffing out before releasing it. “...I grew up in Santa Prisca, serving a sentence for a man I never knew. They kept my mother alive until I was two years of age, so that I would not die of malnutrition. I still remember, in glimpses, of what she was like. Her dazzling, bright blue eyes, her warm smile as she rocked me to sleep, her screaming out my name as the guards pulled her by her hair. The blood rolling down her face as she whispered, over and over, “It will be alright, it will be alright.” I tried to run, but all they did was crack the bones in my knees, mocking me. I will never forget them, the face of evil... we are not the villains, Blake. What happens to us may make us animals at times, but you need to realize you are not just a cat. You are also a man.”
Blake began to chuckle as his eyes reddened, obviously resisting the urge to release his tears. “That was the worst line ever… undid everything you said before it.” He continues to snicker softly, but finally turns his head away from Bane, a long tear streaming from one eye. “Why is it that the more good we try to do, the more bad things happen to us? My friend is dying on that operating table while that lunatic is laughing his ass off. We are trying to do the right thing, something the “heroes” like Batman have been failing to do for years out of their so-called morality. Hundreds die every year at the Joker’s hands, and yet the good guys are content to do nothing.”
“Consider my life, huh? You are so cheesy. Can we at least get out of this spooky room and observe all my past misdeeds, or maybe see a future without me, like “It’s a Wonderful Life”? That would make this whole event a bit more exciting.”
“I’m afraid I don’t make the rules, Miss Savage. I merely execute them. Believe me, I’m less excited about this than you are – I often relish the trip from here to whichever afterlife the recently deceased is destined for. The waiting room has always been a bit of a boring place.” The tall, spindly silhouette sat down on the bed casually, leaning back on arms so long and spindly they made Ragdoll’s look normal.
“Well, you can probably go home if you want, because I’m not going to die.”
“Oh, I assume you probably won’t… but this is an exciting one, I must admit. Your heartbeat has stopped a few times, and your father’s damnable blood keeps jump-starting you. It’s getting to be… I don’t know, is annoying the right word?”
“Hey, why d’you get to kill everyone? I’ve had my eye on those bozos for years.” Harley sulked, dragging her hammer behind her as she walked back towards the funhouse, smacking the door down easily with the massive slab of metal. Behind it was another massive steel portcullis, eliciting a bored sigh.
“Because I’m the goddamn Grifter, didn’t you know?”
“…That’s actually pretty funny,” Harley snorted wickedly, waiting for Grifter to take the lead and then following behind.
“Oh, come now, you two. Get a room… and then use it to do nothing at all. Your mushy flirty grossness is giving me the creeps,” Ragdoll said drily, crawling nimbly along the grate-walls of the entrance to the funhouse, his long, gangly arms reaching out casually to strangle Harley each time nobody was looking.
“Flirtin’? Pff. Ain’t seen me flirtin’, I guess, Dolly.” The clowngirl said with an evil smirk.
“Last I heard it involved a lot of throwing yourself in front of bombs to protect lunatics. You’ll get plenty of chances to do that with us… if you survive.” He reached out again with both hands, barely snagging the backside of Quinn’s top before she took a sudden step backward. The massive, imposingly un-circus-like iron gate to the funhouse began to rise, and a long white drawbridge dropped down.
“If you want to get something done right…” came a disdainful female voice. “…You have to do it yourself, it seems.”
“…Well, doesn’t she look to be quite the hussy,” Ragdoll said immediately when the White Rabbit strode down along that bridge, stepping into the dark entrance to the funhouse and posing like some sort of porn star. Her outfit was little more than a white-and-pink bikini supported by leather bondage straps. “To be perfectly honest, you should really be ashamed of yourself.”
“You’re one to talk, peasant.” The Rabbit scowled, reaching behind her and pulling a small silver sphere from… somewhere… and casually chucking it towards Peter. The tiny man bent himself to the side, his entire torso seeming to fluidly evade whatever the sphere was. One tentacle-like appendage slithered out and swatted it to the side, causing it to soar forcefully towards an unprepared Grifter.
Cole’s eyes widened and he lifted his arms to bat the sphere away, but it was considerably too late. The sphere knocked into his chest and seemed to… unfold, the metal plating separating into sections and soaring around the man, carrying gleaming beams of silvery rope behind each section. The little platelets connected to various parts of Grifter’s body, his shoulders, waist, knees, elbows, head, and the cords entangled him completely, binding him in the little strings of light.
“Gnah!” Cole grunted, stumbling as his legs were suddenly drawn and locked together, falling forward onto the beaten dirt ground. Ragdoll raised a brow and let out a soft giggle.
“Hm. Charming. These are the simpletons that have been sent to kill the Joker? Pitiful,” White Rabbit said with an imperious grin, stroking her thin jaw between her fingertips. “Maybe one of you two can do better?”
While Peter casually plucked at the glimmering strings that had effectively trussed Grifter, casually noting that they made little “ting” sounds when they slapped against flesh, Harley Quinn stepped forward with her game face on and her hammer slung around her shoulder. “Whaddya say, Playboy Bunny? No gadgets, no weapons, no pinchin’. Hair pulling allowed. Girl on girl.”
“I… like… that idea…” Cole said with a weak chuckle as he continued to struggle against his bindings while simultaneously trying to kick Ragdoll off of him.
“Ugh, I meant – gah, whatever,” Harley huffed and turned back to White Rabbit. “Whaddya say, skank-hoe or whatever your name is?”
“Ooh, normally I would prefer to just cheat… but thrashing an idiot like you will be far too much fun.” Jaina Hudson, the White Rabbit, stretched her arms out casually, bending her torso to both sides before smiling slightly. “The little gymnast henchgirl. Joker’s first great squeeze… this should be so very, very fun.”
“Ooh, I just can’t lose with this fight,” Ragdoll said, smiling brightly beneath the bandages wrapping his face. “Should be fun to watch too, don’t you think, my bound friend?”
Grifter wiggled uncomfortably and groaned, “Are you serious? You’re just going to sit here and leave me tied up? I could be helping!”
“Well, I do believe that would be cheating. That hateful clown seems quite content to fight this battle herself.”
“Damn straight,” Harley said grimly, tossing her hammer onto the ground as if it were a children’s plastic mallet. She wasn’t laughing right now – this was the bitch that the Joker had replaced her with. He seduced her and had her shot, left her bleeding while he escaped scot free. Then he had found this skank and pretended Harley didn’t even exist. That would change soon. He’d remember what he’d done to Harley Quinn. “Gonna make a move, slut? Or are ya afraid one of your boobs are gonna pop out? I’ve had a couple outfits over the years that gave me some scares but yours looks downright criminal.”
“Ugh, you act like you aren’t displaying more cleavage than Power Girl,” Jaina said, narrowing her eyes before dashing forward with a roundhouse kick, her white-booted leg making a wide, horizontal arc, its destination, Harley’s midsection. A slow, grim smile spread across the clowngirl’s blood-red lips as she casually caught the incoming leg with one hand.
“That’s all ya got? I thought Mistah J woulda made sure his new henchbitch could actually hold her own. Then again, he didn’t do nothin’ for me – I got my powers from a friend that ain’t mutual for us. Looks like ya shoulda cheated after all. Not too late.” Harley’s smile widened and she pushed that leg up sharply, causing Jaina to stumble and do a quick flip backwards, catching herself on her hands before rolling back to her feet. She stood back up to meet a metahuman fist meeting her face, bloodying her nose and sending her staggering backwards.
“This ain’t even fun, girlygirl,” Harley taunted. “I’m kinda ashamed at Joker, his standards must really be lowerin’.” She coiled up her body quickly, crouching and then spinning her body upwards in an arc that nearly defied gravity before bringing one leg rocketing downwards, blasting between Jaina’s white, floppy bunny ears in a vicious axe-kick.
White Rabbit squealed quietly and rolled backwards again, this time raising herself only to a crouch, keeping her eyes on the clowngirl. Blood trickled from her nose and skull, matting her fluffy white hair. “I may not be as strong as you – damn, didn’t know you were this strong – but I’ll always be better than you, Quinn. Joker says so himself.” She grinned wickedly (not a flattering look, considering the blood in her teeth) and reached back behind her, withdrawing a compact little automatic pistol, her smile widening to match Harley’s. “I guess it’s time to start cheating then.”
“Ooh, I’m scared, Janie’s got a gu—hnngh!” a blast ripped through the air mid-taunt as a bullet launched forward, hitting Harley’s collarbone and tearing through her chest. She immediately dropped to one knee, gritting her own teeth this time and closing her eyes for a moment. “Oh, you’re bad.”
“This is getting pretty hot,” Ragdoll commented idly.
“Yeah? I was expecting a little more hair-pulling. Nobody’s even lost any clothes yet,” Grifter replied, no longer really resisting his restraints, though they did sting his skin a little. “Ragdoll, are you sure you don’t feel like helping her?”
If Harley Quinn had actually possessed some form of energy-based powers, her eyes would now be glowing some form of signature color. However, her baby blues still managed to glare daggers as she pressed one gloved hand to her bulletwound. “Nice shot, hag,” she growled, before crouching and pushing herself forward with a snarl. She sent one knee rocketing into the Rabbit’s midsection, knocking her back in a lying position before reaching forward, her steely fingers closing around one fluffy ear and ripping backwards. Jaina screamed bloody murder as a few stringy roots of muscle tore from her head, leaving a bleeding patch.
The Joker’s former henchgirl tossed the ear aside and gritted her teeth, trying to ignore the pain that was coursing through her body, the blood leaking down her back. She drilled her free hand down in hammerfist after hammerfist, pummeling the White Rabbit’s face ruthlessly, her pained growl slowly building into a frenzied scream. “HE WAS MINE!” she finally roared out, bringing her fist down again until Jaina stopped struggling before raising herself up onto her knees.
“Mister... are you okay? Is your mommy in the operating room, too?” A young boy, no more than seven, stared innocently up at Catman with big blue eyes, his head tilted.
“I’m fine, kid, I just… not my mommy, just a friend.” Blake sighed quietly, leaning his aching head against an open palm.
The boy leaned in suddenly, wrapping his small arms around the man’s side and hugging him softly. “They’ll be okay. Superheroes’ friends always get better.” He smiled reassuringly, and Blake, out of instinct, hugged him back. He had no clue who the boy was, but this… was what he needed.
“…Definitely not hot at all,” Cole said, his eyes wide in a stunned expression as he watched White Rabbit slowly writhe, her face pounded into oblivion.
“...It’s over… no princess….” Harley growled, blood streaming down from her open wound, streaming between her cleavage and over her corset. Her back had an open hole about six inches in diameter, blackened with gore that was still desperately trying to heal over. She leaned to the side and wrapped both slippery hands around the handle of her hammer, raising herself to her feet.
“Harley,” Grifter said quietly. It didn’t take a psychic to see what was about to happen next, and his inner soldier reeled at it. White Rabbit was down for the count… things didn’t need to get bloodier than they already were.
Harley lifted her heavy steel mallet with both hands, lifting it halfway above her head before turning her head to look at Grifter with a dark stare. She knew what was about to happen as well as he did.
“At least you don’t have me bitching about you not telling me whether I’m going to heaven or hell.”
“I had wondered about that. Not interested?”
“I already know… hellbound all the way, I guess.”
“Don’t worry, tall-dark-and-reaperish. I’m not trying to trick you into spilling anything, I went to hell not long ago. Friend of mine was prince of the place for a while.”
“Ah, we all wondered what happened to Lord Merkel. Pity he’s gone… he was amazing at parties.”
Scandal stepped back over to the bed, glancing down at her own body and observing it distantly. “I’m not going to die today.”
“I know. Your heart rate is climbing, and your wound has all but healed. Shoddy LexCorp technology, those worthless bullets didn’t take down Kal-El either.”
“Sorry, I guess.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
The boy gazed back up at Blake’s dour green eyes. “My mom said, if you're ever having trouble, a hug will wash the pain away. Are you okay now?”
“Yeah. Yeah, I’m okay.” Catman smiled, patting the boy on the head gently.
The boy ran back over to his older sister in the waiting room, leaving the two regretful men alone as they continued to watch the bright red light above the operating door.
“When you are a hero, you tend to see the world in black and white. Everything in between is an inconsequential blur. We do not do good for us, we do it for them. We do it so that little boy doesn't turn into us.”
“…Is she worth it, Harley? We can take her to Blackgate, where she belongs. We don’t have to be like the old team. We can be better – we can be heroes.”
Ragdoll turned to Cole with his head tilted, his wrapped face blank as far as anyone could tell, though he remained silent.
“Harley, is she worth it?”
Harley Quinn turned back to the bleeding, twitching villainess on the ground before her, helpless to defend herself against that hammer. The woman who had stolen Joker away from her, a power-hungry witch that deserved this for taking him away. The woman that was so much like she had been, attached to a man more powerful than she.
“…Yeah,” she whispered, before silently tensing her torn muscles and swinging the warhammer over her head in a long, powerful arc that cleared her own head. The wide, ridged metal head of that heavy weapon made a soft *phoosh* sound as it soared through the night air, burying itself in Jaina Hudson’s skull and sending the rest of her bloodied face splattering outward, creating an almost poetic splatter of gore across the packed earth. Her scantily-clad form twitched one last time before going still.
“Yeah, she was.”
The door to the operating room suddenly swung open, and a bloodied Scandal Savage stood silhouetted in the clinical light in the room behind. “What the hell are you two goons doing sitting here? We have a clown to slaughter, last I checked.”