Title: The Zatanna Method Pt 1
Author: Cold Nostalgia
Challenge/Claim: Harley, Ivy
Characters: Harley Quinzel, Pamela Isley, Riddler
Prompt: Memory
Universe: DCU, A/U post Countdown.
Rating: PG
Word Count: 3,851
Summary: A lot had happened in the four months Harley Quinzel had been absent from Gotham.
Previous chapters: Prologue,


1. Questions and Answers


By the time dawn rolled around Harley knew she needed to talk to somebody, which caused a whole new set a problems in itself. Since she’d changed her nefarious ways, Harley had found herself rather lacking  in the friends  department.

Old contacts from her pre-costumed existence were long gone, having severed ties with her as soon she’d slapped the clown makeup on for the first time. Harley doubted the likes of Matches Malone would be all that sympathetic to her plight, and anyone who wouldn’t have cared that she’d reformed probably didn’t know who the hell she was anyway.

There was Holly, but there was still too much awkwardness and hesitancy between the pair of them for Harley to even seriously consider picking up the phone and giving her a call. The abrupt way she’d left still hung over their heads like a dark cloud before a storm and Harley was in no hurry to be hit by lightening anytime soon.

That left Dr. Robertson who was still from recuperating from injuries she’d received at the hands of Zsasz all those months ago…

And Eddie.

Harley bit her lip in indecision. Dr Robertson had been a huge help to the ex-rogue during her last incarnation; she hadn’t judged, hadn’t put pressure on her, hadn’t looked down at her…She’d been great. Just great. Fantastic. And even though Dr Robertson had told Harley at the end of their sessions together she could get in touch with her anytime she needed to talk, Harley didn’t think the psychiatrist and former colleague would be all that thrilled to see the blonde show up on her doorstep at the crack of dawn asking for guidance. Heck, Harley wasn’t sure that the woman would even want to look at anything remotely Arkham related ever again. Harley had never been that much of a fan of What About Bob? And she sure as hell wasn’t about to star in some straight-to-DVD sequel.

That left Eddie who, as it turned out, was a pretty good guy to talk to provided the conversations were kept as inconsequential as possible. Harley liked The Riddler just fine, much more since they’d both reformed. It was always easier to get along with someone when they weren’t hitting the same targets as you were. Problem was that he hated Ivy. Hated her in the same way that Ivy used to hate P-Joker. She couldn’t be sure that Eddie wasn’t going to give some suspect advice, or even show a small measure of sympathy.

Stymied by indecision, Harley decided to take a leaf out of Two Face’s book. She pulled out a coin from her pocket and flipped it.

Tails. She flipped again.

Heads. She flipped again.

Tails. Harley frowned, bit her lip, went to the phone and called Eddie.

***

The Blue Moon Diner on Eighth Avenue wasn’t the classiest of places. The tables were always stained with ketchup, the cutlery was always encrusted with god only knew what, and Harley was sure she’d seen the waitresses spit in peoples’ food in the past. It was, however, the only place that she could think of that was open and not out of either her or Eddie’s way.

Eddie was already seated in one of the booths by the time she arrived. Two cups of coffee in front of him and a decidedly gleeful twinkle in his eye.

“One those for me? Or are ya just extra thirsty today?”

Eddie looked up and smiled. “Definitely for you, I’d like to make it to midday without having a heart attack.” He waved toward the empty seat opposite. “I have to say, this is an unexpected pleasure.”

“I guess,” Harley said sitting herself down, a quick hand already greedily around the coffee cup. “I didn’t know who else ta talk ta.”

“Ah, yes,” Eddie smiled, leaning back into his seat, a decidedly smug expression etched on his face. “Your unexpected houseguest. My, that must have come as quite a shock.”

Harley stared at him appalled. “Eddie, I never said nuthin’ about that over the phone.”

“True,” he looked pleased with himself. “But you forget, my dear, that I am The Riddler. There’s little that goes on in this city that I don’t know about.”

Harley smiled begrudging, cocked a quizzical eyebrow and looked at him through the steam of her coffee. “Is that right?”

“Why yes, yes it is.” Eddie replied easily.

“So, how’ve ya been since I saw you last?” she asked, stalling for time.

“About the same,” he said, taking a sip from his cup. “There’s no end to the demand for my services, I’m still completely rushed off my feet and my secretary is thinking about quitting unless I hire more staff.” Eddie raised a eyebrow at her,” Harley, time is at a premium right now.”

Harley leaned back in her chair. “Gotcha.”

“Good.”

Harley sipped her coffee, wincing as the hot, bitter liquid burnt her tongue. She wasn’t sure where to begin. The questions and anxieties that had driven around her head in circles during the night no longer had any linear form. It was impossible to determine which one scared her more, or which one posed the greatest challenge.

“I dunno what ta do, Eddie.” Harley said helplessly. In a fluid movement she stretched out her hand and began ticking off fingers as she spoke. “First of all, I can’t afford ta keep her, I ain’t got enough money. Secondly, she’s gonna ask questions, a lotta questions that I ain’t sure I’ll feel all too comfortable answerin’. Thirdly, I’m in no position ta help her through her impendin’ nervous breakdown when she discovers the extent of her dark past, I don’t have my license ta practice psychiatry no more. Fourthly, I don’t feel up ta being her bodyguard when all her old enemies come around knockin’. Lastly,” Harley paused and looked Eddie straight in the eye. “Lastly, she’s gonna kick my ass ta Seattle n’ back when the whole thing goes pear shaped n’ she remembers who she is.”

Eddie regarded her for a moment. “Throw her out.”

Harley choked on her coffee. “I can’t do that!”

“Why not?” Eddie replied smoothly. “You obviously don’t want her anywhere near you, which is completely understandable given it is Poison Ivy we’re talking about here.” Eddie looked thoughtful, “Harley,” he began. “Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest ones.”

Harley shook her head, “Eddie, I can’t throw her out onta the streets.”

“And again, why not?”

“’Cause it wouldn’t be right,” Harley replied, almost to herself. “She’s vulnerable, n’ she, like, comes from a time where The Simpsons are still a hoot n’ a half, MTV still plays music, n’ Microsoft are a cool brand.” Harley shook her head sadly, “Eddie, I can’t kick her out. She’s a twentieth gal stuck in a distant, unimaginable future. What’s she gonna do if she comes across an iPhone, or bumps inta Lady Gaga in the street?” Harley fixed him with her best glare. “Eddie, she’s gonna think she’s bein’ robbed.”

Eddie looked unimpressed. “And how is that your problem?”

“It ain’t.” Harley answered easily, “but I guess I still feel like I owe her. Things may have gone ta hell between us, but I guess I never really stopped carin’ about her, y’know?”

“No,” he said simply. “I don’t, and neither should you for that matter.”

“You’re all heart, Ed.”

“It’s hard to have one when Ivy’s involved.” Eddie muttered with a hint of bitterness.

“But she ain’t really Ivy no more,” Harley pointed out.

“For the moment,” Eddie supplied darkly. “But it’s just like you said, Harley. It’s only a matter of time before her memory does return, through either organic or artificial means.” The Riddler smiled nastily, a spiteful expression spread across his face. “Any misfortune Miss Isley endures in the meantime is simply another humiliating memory for Ivy to bear when she returns.”

“Ya don’t mean that.”

“Don’t I?” Eddie chuckled mirthlessly. “It’s about Ivy, of course I do.”

“Look,” Harley said firmly, her a patience finally at an end. “I get that you hate her ‘n all, but this ain’t helpin’ me, Eddie.”

“You asked my advice,” he said quietly. “I gave it.”

“But I can’t do that!” she exclaimed.

“Well then,” Eddie said impatiently. “I can’t help you – and if it’s money you’re after, then I’m afraid I’m clean out.”

“I don’t want yer money, Eddie.” Harley said softly, hurt that he would even think such a thing. “I just don’t know what ta do,” she waved her hands for emphasis. “I need help.”

“But you’ve already made up your mind, Harley,” he interjected. “You’re keeping her.”

“I guess,” she sighed miserably. “I just dunno how.”

“Well that’s something I can’t help you with,” he said calmly. “It’s just like ‘The Webster’s Thesaurus Incident’ all over again. You wouldn’t listen to reason then and you won’t listen to reason now.”

“Eddie, it’s nuthin’ like ‘The Webster’s Thesaurus Incident’,” she mumbled.

“Oh, I beg to differ,” he said, stabbing the table for emphasis. “Twice the danger, thrice the idiocy.” He leaned forward, “Harley, if you had a lick of sense then you would stay as far away from this mess as humanly possible.”

“Well, I guess I don’t,” Harley murmured thoughtfully.

“I can’t disagree with that,” Eddie sighed. “I’m starting to think that you were misdiagnosed back at Arkham. It’s quite clear to me that your obsession with Joker was never the problem, your suicidal tendencies, however, are.”

Harley grinned in spite of herself. “Is that your professional opinion Dr. Nigma?”

“Why, yes, yes it is,” he stated, folding his arms crossly. “And anyway, I don’t see what makes Pamela Isley so vulnerable. By all accounts, even before her ‘accident’ she was meant to have been a genius. I’m sure she’ll get up to speed on all technological and cultural changes soon enough. And as for any hypothetical enemies showing up at her door, well, I’m certain once she gets the hang of her powers—.”

“Nuh-uh.”

“What do you mean?”

“She ain’t got her powers no more, Ed.” Harley said, finishing off her coffee as if it were a shot of whisky. “Batsy said as much last night, n’ she looked human enough when she scuttled past me n’ dived inta Holly’s old room.”

“That,” Eddie said quietly. “I did not know.”

“Oh my god,” she stated in mock horror. “The Prince of Puzzlers doesn’t have all the answers, quick somebody call The Gazette.” She leaned forward, “Eddie, right now she’s about as badass as a piece of wet tissue paper.”

Eddie smiled and gulped down the rest of his coffee. “So, let me get this straight,” he said. “Amanda Waller and her cohorts can erase Ivy’s memories of her costumed existence, return her to human form, but they can’t give her an new identity and put her under some kind of protection program?”

“I’ve been askin’ the same question all night.” Harley shrugged helplessly,” Eddie, it’s the government, what ya expectin’? Competence? Logic? A shred of common sense?”

“True enough,” he said, glancing at his watch and frowning.

“Ya got somewhere better ta be?” she asked, slightly offended.

“Always, my dear,” he said simply.” In this instance, however, it’s just as I said: time is at a premium right now. I’ve got a missing persons case to solve by noon, and I’ve helped you all that I can—.”

“Ya haven’t helped me at all!”

“Yes I have,” he corrected her. “You’re just not listening to me.” He stood, putting on his coat and hat. “Still, I may not have to update my written eulogy to you just yet, there’s a good chance she’ll move out of her own accord before the worst comes to the worst. I hear you’re rather difficult to live with.”

Harley glared at him, unsure of which part of his statement to take issue with first. “Catwoman tell ya that did she?”

“Holly Robinson,” he said brightly. “She likened living with you to living with a Tasmanian Devil. She said that you practically drove her to drink.”

“Right.”

His smile widened and he fastened his coat. “Maybe Ms. Isley will be even less tolerant of your antics than Holly was.”

“Right.”

“Well, I’m off.” He paused and looked at her sincerely. “I hope the next time I see you, you’re still in one piece.”

“Thanks, Eddie,” she deadpanned. “ I’ll do my best.”

Harley watched him as he went, vaguely suspicious that the only reason he’d shown up in the first place was to glean some extra information from her. It wouldn’t be the first time he’d done something like that to her and probably wouldn’t be the last either.

Eddie, as she suspected, hadn’t been much help at all. Heck, the first thought that had crossed Harley’s mind when Batsy had appeared at her door with Pamela in tow was to slam the damn thing in both their faces. Hell, she’d toyed with the idea of kicking Pamela out all evening, but in the end she couldn’t bring herself to do it.

In a way, she was envious of the way Eddie regarded Ivy, the simplicity of his hatred toward her. Harley almost wished she could feel the same way, certainly, she of all people would have cause to given the way things had turned out between the pair of them. But that had always been Harley’s problem, hadn’t it? Too damn soft.

She sighed. She’d just given away the fact that Ivy was, for all intents and purposes, pretty much a sitting duck to anyone that wanted to take a pop at her. And that hadn’t been a smart move on her part. The blonde didn’t think Eddie hated Ivy enough to put Harley in jeopardy by letting that little titbit of information become public knowledge. But even though he’d reformed, The Riddler still loved his money, for the right price nothing was too sacred. Harley just had to hope that he wouldn’t sink so low as to spill the beans or at least, wait a few days so she could prepare herself for any incoming threats.

Harley picked up the bill for the coffees and grunted. It was just like Eddie to leave her hanging with the bill. Jackass that he was. The coffee had tasted like dirt boiled in grimy water and hadn’t been worth ten cents let alone two dollars fifty. Harley grunted again, here she was none the wiser about how to deal with Pamela, five bucks down and she felt like she going to throw up.

Not the most productive start to a morning she’d ever had.

Without a word to the apathetic waitress in the next booth, Harley paid the bill and left the diner, praying that the day would improve.

***


Not nearly ready to go home and have to deal with her unwanted roommate, Harley decided to wander about town and pick up some extra groceries. Unless Pamela liked Pringles for breakfast, lunch and dinner, she was going to be sorely disappointed by the otherwise empty cupboards in the apartment. Harley figured that things were probably going to be awkward enough between the two of them without the blonde doing something that would annoy her. In this case, not having any food in the apartment would most definitely do that.

And besides, Harley was getting kind of bored eating pizza flavoured Pringles all the time anyway.

A quick stop at the ATM did little to lift Harley’s spirits. The money that had been given to her by Queen Hippolyta as a reward for helping the Amazons out with their little Furies problem was steadily whittling away without any end in sight. If things didn’t turn around soon, Harley was going to have to start looking for a job, and that wasn’t a pleasant thought at all. Especially since the last place that had actually taken her on had turned out to be nothing but a front for Granny Goodness and her crazy Female Furies.

It’d been quite a shock finding that out…well, maybe Holly had been the one who’d pointed it out. But it’d still been a hell of a shock discovering that all the new friends that she’d made during those months had been nothing but a bunch of demented gods hell bent on taking over Earth.

She’d been a little disappointed too. Harley had genuinely enjoyed her time with the Amazons even if they hadn’t been real. Sure, the early mornings might have sucked, they might have talked funny and the forced marches might have been a chore, but the camaraderie and sense of purpose she’d gotten from them had gone a long way in filling the void that had appeared when she’d realised there was only so far you could take a joke before it stopped being funny.

Maybe when the situation with Pamela was over and the money ran out, Harley would write to Queen Hippolyta or one of her underlings and ask to be taken on as a new recruit. Heck, Wondy’s team could use a little more colour, a little more agility – and who better to provide that than none other than Harley Quinn, The Mistress of Mischief? Plus she’d looked hot in Amazon armour – a feat that very few people could pull off.

But that was all ahead of her, first she needed to think about getting food and that was a little bit tricky in itself. In the past, Ivy had been spectacularly easy to food shop for – she’d always just grown her own. Harley suspected Pamela’s favourite foods weren’t all that different from Ivy’s, but it wouldn’t hurt to maybe expand into something else other than just fruit and vegetables. Harley was damned if she could remember from Ivy’s files back at Arkham whether she’d been a vegetarian before the whole Woodrue mess, but given how often Ivy had gone on about how ‘normal’ she’d been before the date from hell, Harley suspected Pamela wouldn’t say no to a steak dinner with all the trimmings.

Well, Harley wouldn’t. And besides variety was the spice of life, right?

With that in mind, Harley sped round the Good To Go Mart in record time. Sticking to better known brands and skipping on her usual choices from the ‘Good To Go’ range. Harley didn’t bother picking up any caviar or lobster ‘cause there wasn’t any, and Harley sure as hell wasn’t going to spend that amount of money on her. If Pamela wanted those kind of things she could just get off her hoity-toity ass and get them herself.

Harley might have been trying to do right by the woman, but by god, she wasn’t running a charity for dazed and confused upper-middle class people.

Outside of the shop, the early morning hustle and bustle of the streets did wonders for Harley’s mood. She still didn’t have a clue how to deal with Pamela, or who might come around looking for some kind of revenge, or even how the whole thing was going to play out; but just being amongst and surrounded by workers heading to their jobs, drunks going to their bars, muggers going home after a hard nights work, lifted her spirits to no end.

It made her feel like she wasn’t alone in the world anymore – well, she wasn’t obviously. Hell, she was being squished by a bunch of people all around her, and that hardly qualified her for being all alone in the world. But just looking at the miserable expressions that passed her by underlined the fact that she wasn’t the only person in the world with problems and that helped Harley to no end. It gave her a chance to take stock. To stop being so self-involved.

In the brisk November sunshine she started to think it was possible that she could maybe, just maybe get through this situation and come out on top. All she had to do was think positive and hope for a little luck to shine down on her that didn’t come with a unique Quinzel flavour.

Somewhere between Fifth and Madstone Avenue, Harley started to think about what Eddie had said to her and decided that maybe he had a point. Not the crap about her being difficult to live with. Eddie had just been trying to cause even more friction between Holly and herself because Harley hadn’t taken his stupid advice. The Jackass. But he’d made a point in the conversation, even if he hadn’t realised it. It was entirely plausible that Pamela would want to move out as soon as she got her bearings and adapted to the twenty-first century. And the more Harley thought about it, the more likely it seemed.

There was no way someone like Pamela Isley, with the upbringing she had, would want to stay in a cruddy little apartment in the East End of Gotham. Heck, growing up in that mansion back in Seattle, Pamela’s closet had probably been bigger than the whole apartment itself. She wasn’t going to want stay in a place that was a year away from being condemned. And it wasn’t likely that she was going to have trouble finding any employment. Not with her brains. There were plenty of amoral corporations out there who would just love to have someone with her intellect aboard.

Harley wondered why she’d been so worried in the first place. It was highly unlikely that Pamela was even going to stay a week. She’d get a job, move out of the apartment and move into some swanky place near the Diamond District. Pamela could hire a therapist, make new friends and be somebody else’s problem when a thousand old scorned enemies came to visit, or when the inevitable happened and she got her memories back.

Either way, Harley was well and truly off the hook! Oh, it was just too good.

A fifty ton weight off her shoulders, and safe in the knowledge that the apartment would belong to her again in about a week. Harley practically skipped all the way home, her mood almost euphoric. Her life was her own again – or would be within a week tops, and until then Harley was pretty sure she could manage a week of awkward questions and vigilance.

A quick duck to avoid her landlord and quick dodge to the left to steer clear of Mrs Edwards, the crazy cat lady; Harley took the stairs of her building two at a time, feeling that she could take on the entire Bat Family and whoop their collective asses. A quick turn of her key and…

…And she’d been robbed.

Harley blinked dumbly, her brain trying to process what her eyes were telling her.

Her stuff was missing! All of it!

Mr Snugglepuff was nowhere to be seen, her collection of CDs had disappeared, her underwear and Goucho Marx DVDs had vanished, her—

“Hi.”

Harley looked up.

“I hope you don’t mind,” Pamela said quietly, adjusting her glasses. “But I tidied while you where out.”
.

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