Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Ivy/Harley, past Joker/Harley
Challenge/Prompt: fffc r17.17: Painkiller
Word Count: 1,297
Date Written: 4 August 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to DC Comics, not the author, and are used without permission.
She watches her every move as she reclines in a giant rosebud. Her dearest friend is very seldom serious, but today she isn’t bouncing. She’s very carefully unpacking, and Ivy can feel her heart racing harder and faster with every new item Harley brings out of her duffel bag. “Are you sure I can have this whole dresser, Red?”
Ivy inclines her head in an elegant nod. A smile hovers on her lips. She’d let it form, but while she’s happy that Harley is so excited to be moving in with her and touched at the way the girl reacts to such a simple kindness as having her own dresser and wardrobe, both completely made of vines and live bark, she’s also reminded of the reason why such simple generosity wows her. Her previous lover gave her an inch. He was always demanding and taking, never giving. Ivy won’t make the same mistake that bastard did with this cherished jewel.
She watches as Harley unloads her items. There’s everything from squeaky toys for her hyenas, who are off playing with Ivy’s walking ghghjghj, to rubber chickens and even a rare book or two, all filled with jokes, of course. It isn’t until she sees Harley gently lift something wrapped in red cloth and lay it in the top drawer that Ivy descends from her makeshift throne and crosses over the cool, green grass to stand beside her. “What’s that?” she asks, peering in at the concealed objects.
Harley looks away, but Ivy catches the troubled expression in her usually bright, blue eyes. “My painkillers,” she says.
Ivy frowns, then gasps with sudden, fearful understanding. Her mind flashes back to some of the smaller scars she’s seen on Harley’s body, scars she wasn’t sure the Joker had made and which Harley didn’t want to discuss. She’d always told her she’d tell her those stories one day, and Ivy had always let it go. Hoping she’s wrong, Ivy reaches into the drawer, her vines moving it open for her, and touches the red cloth. Through the thin cloth, she can feel the cool steel of blades.
Quickly, she removes her hand and turns back to Harley. The beautiful, cheerful woman who has finally agreed to be her constant companion stands before her with her blonde head tucked in shame and her top teeth biting her bottom lip. She flinches when Ivy grasps her shoulders. Ivy almost pulls away, feeling the fear flash through Harley, but she holds her steadfastly instead. She has to know that things are going to be different now.
“Look at me, Harl,” Ivy whispers. She could force her to raise her head. She could lift it easily with her hands or her vines, but she won’t do it. She’ll never force Harley to do something she doesn’t want to, rather it’s big or small. The girl has her freedom now, at last. She finally has someone who truly loves her and will never simply use her as the Joker had.
“Look at me,” Ivy pleads again softly. Harley finally raises her big, blue eyes to meet her gaze, and Ivy’s heart wrenches at the tears she witnesses about to spill over Harley’s careful control. Her bottom lip trembles as she lets it go. Ivy had had a whole speech prepared in her head, but now she just pulls her into her arms and holds her head against her breast.
She keeps her there in that gentle but strong and reassuring hold for a long time before she finally whispers one word, “Never.” She turns her head and kisses the top of Harley’s tender head. “Never again,” she vows softly, “will you have need of painkillers like that.”
Harley raises her head to again meet Ivy’s gaze. “You didn’t look,” she says. “How can you be so sure what they are?”
Ivy cups her face and caresses her smooth flesh. There are no scars on Harley’s face not because the Joker had never hit her there, but he’d always been careful not to live lasting marks where they could be seen on his “living doll” of whom he’d taken such pride in ruling over. Anger burns deep within Ivy’s belly. She’d love nothing more than to hunt that bastard down and kill him, after making him suffer thoroughly, but she’d promised Harley long ago that she’d never go after him. She will keep every promise she makes this woman, no matter how hard they are to keep or how many good reasons she has not to keep them. She’ll never break her word to her. She’ll never hurt her, not emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and especially not physically.
“I know,” she says softly, answering Harley’s question, “because I’ve always expected. I didn’t want to believe it, but now I know. Those small cuts on your wrists, your arms, your calves, your stomach . . . He didn’t do them, did he? That’s why you wouldn’t tell me about them. You cut yourself, because it was easier to focus on the physical pain,” her voice almost trembles but she manages to keep it steady, “than how you were truly feeling, than how badly you were hurting in your heart . . . “ She strokes her hair, much like a mother might do to her child though they are so much more. “ . . . and in your soul.”
Harley nods. Her lips are trembling. She looks like she’s about to cry again, but she catches her bottom lip once more with her teeth, quieting the sobs aching to rise up within her. She nods again.
Ivy shakes her head, remembering a life long ago, a life she’d thought she’d put behind her. “You’re not the first woman to hurt herself because of a man, Harley, or even the first to realize it’s easier sometimes to deal with physical pain than it is the greater pains in our lives.” She cups her face again and keeps her eyes positioned directly toward hers. “But I promise you,” she vows with deep conviction, “as long as you stay with me, you will never have reason to use those sorts of painkillers ever again.”
Harley nods. Ivy can feel her trembling in her arms. She pulls her into another hug and once more kisses her head. “You’re safe here, Harls, safe with me for as long as you’ll have me.” She holds her tight. She’ll never let anything come between them, unless Harley wants it to.
“Always, Red,” Harley whispers, “always.” She squeezes her hard. “Thank you for having me.”
Thank you for loving me. The words are on the tip of Ivy’s tongue, but she doesn’t manage to allow herself to say them. She doesn’t want to frighten Harley. She doesn’t want her to know, not yet at least, that she carries almost as much personal baggage as she herself does. She needs a wall right now, a stone wall to protect her from the Joker and the world, and Ivy will be that wall, that rock she so dearly needs. She’ll be there to protect her from everything from here on out, but she’ll also never forget how lucky she is that Harley managed to break through her ex-boyfriend’s hold on her and came to love her instead. She’ll never forget how lucky she is to have this woman in her life, in her arms, and in her heart.
“You bet, sweetheart,” she whispers instead. She pulls out of their hug just enough that she’s able to crook a finger underneath Harley’s pale chin and lift her head just a little. She lowers her mouth onto hers and shows her with her lips and her tongue all that she cannot yet say aloud on this momentous occasion, the very first day of the rest of their lives.