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something like a date night

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Harley showed up around twilight, picking her way through the traps Ivy had surrounded her new lair with. Ivy could have deactivated them when she noticed, but the temptation to stand and watch as Harley avoids certain death with an acrobat's grace is too much. So she waited until she's done a side-skip over the last barrier of tangled vines, and gave her a bit of applause.

Harley bowed dramatically, almost losing her footing. Her cheeks were pink when she straightened up, although Ivy tells herself it's probably from exertion.

"You're a hard cat to find," Harley said, slinging a battered backpack off her shoulders. "I hope the chocolate hasn't melted."

Ivy brushed the crumbs of earth from her hands. "I'll bite. Why are you bringing me chocolate?"

"Mr. J hasn't made it out of Arkham yet, and I'm not supposed to go see if he needs help until Tuesday, and Felix and Spider went off to some stupid pool place for the night, so I didn't have anyone to watch the show with. And then I thought, hey! I have a girlfriend now..." Harley still stumbles on the word, a nervous laugh around the edges of her words. Ivy can understand that; she's not used to it yet either. It was only a few weeks ago Harley turned to her, in a quiet corner of the Iceberg Lounge, and said "Ignore me if this sounds crazy, but do you want to date?". She can recall it, vivid as day, but it feels like a dream.

She realized she lost track of what Harley's saying, but Harley was looking at her hopefully now. "You're assuming I even have a television," she said.

Harley rolled her eyes. "Babe. You've got like, twenty children around? How are you keeping them entertained if you don't have a TV?"

Ivy cracked a smile. "Yeah, I had to jury-rig one. You know, when I was a kid we listened to the radio and liked it."

"I listened to the radio and hated it." Harley sidled closer, grinning hopefully. "There's reruns of Paloma, Warrior Queen on tonight. You would like it." Her expression suddenly turned dismayed. "Ohhh, I just realized I don't know if you can eat chocolate. Can you eat chocolate or is it like, poisonous to you now?"

"I can eat chocolate in moderation."

Harley relaxed. "Thank god." She dug in her backpack and presented the slim green-packaged bar to Ivy. "It's ethically sourced!"

Ivy turned it over in her hands, feeling a weird ripple of warmth. Nobody had given her chocolate before; the closest had been the occasional discount bars issued to all the kids on Christmas back in the home. This looked expensive, which probably meant she'd stolen it, but it was the thought that counted. And she'd tied a little gold ribbon around it.
"OK. We'll watch your show." She turned and headed for the shelter hidden deeper in the trees and moss, smiling again as she heard Harley squeal with joy and then whisper "Sorry!" to the grapevines, which must have curled up in protest at the sudden sound.

They made their way inside, Harley chattering about how she needed to pick up some stuff for her hideout tomorrow and pick 'the babies' up from the zoo because she couldn't stand not having them around the place. She talked a lot when she was nervous, which matched Ivy's tendency to go silent. She quieted a little once they'd found places on the couch one of the kids had repaired (Alya was so good with her hands, Ivy needed to remember to tell her so) and Ivy had convinced the kids already in the room that Paloma, Warrior Queen was not a dumb show. She hoped fervently that would prove true, or she wouldn't hear the end of it for weeks.

As the opening music swelled, Harley edged over and leaned her head against Ivy's shoulder. Ivy held as still as she could. It was like trying not to frighten a butterfly. She snuck a peek down at Harley's bright pale eyes, fixed on the screen. A beautiful, extremely dangerous butterfly.

By the second episode, Harley had gone from butterfly to koala bear. She had yawned theatrically and snuck an arm behind Ivy's shoulders, shifted around and pressed up against her side, and finally obligingly moved her legs out of the way of Alya, who also wanted to watch Paloma, Warrior Queen, and right onto Ivy's lap. Ivy had mostly ignored her movements, not sure what to do about them, but now she ventured to put her arm around her in a one-armed hug. She kept her eyes on the screen while she did it, but was unavoidably distracted from Paloma decapitating a cyclops by the small, happy sound that Harley made.

The credits rolled. "How long is this going to go?" Ivy asked.

"'S a marathon," Harley murmured. "Two seasons. We haven't seen some of the really good ones yet."

She really ought to be getting to bed; there were things to do in the morning, plants to tend and plans to make and more traps to set, at the eastern edge where some police had been too active recently. Ivy looked down at Harley again, cuddled up to her, and around at the kids; some of them mesmerized by the screen, some dozing off already.

"We can watch for a while longer," she said.

Harley raised her head a little. "Hey, this show isn't even sad. Why are you cryin'?"

"I'm not." There were traces of wet on her hand, though, when she wiped her eyes. Her heart felt too full. "There was dust in my eyes. I'm fine."

Harley looked at her for a moment more, then nodded. Understanding. "OK." She paused, then laid her head down on Ivy's shoulder again. In a softer voice, she said, "I never expected anything like this, either."

"What?" one of the kids—Sam—said.

"It's a quote from the show," Harley said. "Shh."