It took her a long while before she realized that Harley’s animated and over-eager reactions to whomever they were fighting had come from something deep down inside of her. Some primal fear that had been yanked out of her, an impulse to maim bashed out of her until she was searching for her own way to shatter everyone who stood in her way into a thousand itty bitty shards through which she could further cut herself and define herself.
There had always been something off about Harley Quinn.
Horror plucked at her weary limbs as she thought about Harley’s beloved mallet, as much an extension of the blonde trickster as Diana’s golden lasso was to the Amazon warrior princess. There were other weapons, or rather, ridiculous gag items that Harley would often have at her disposal as well, but in some ways that mallet was the most vicious and most defining weapon, even more so than Katana’s blade. What did that say about Harley’s character and about her motivations for fighting alongside them?
Was it wrong for Diana to read so much into this, or was she showing Harley a necessary respect that the person in question didn’t need to know about for fear of Diana pushing her away?
And what did it say about Diana that she loved her? Loved her once reluctant roommate and oddball best friend with her blonde, colorfully dyed pigtails and her exuberant, obnoxious personality and her wicked acrobatic skills that marveled her and broke down her previous assumption that there was little left in the world that could serve to amaze her.
Harley was that though: skilled, amazing, and all too human.
Diana was so used to everyone keeping up with her that she had never before stopped to realize what it was doing to humans like Harley, humans without her god-given abilities, humans who lacked her speed and her strength and her years of carefully built-up endurance.
Proof of it was in Harley’s swing, in her inability to let anyone else have too much glory, in the way she clung to others as if there were nothing else beyond these walls, no one else but the girls… and especially Diana.
So ashamedly it takes Diana far longer than it should have. And yet… she’s the only one who realizes it at all.
Before Harley Quinn came to Super Hero High something had happened. Principal Waller didn’t choose her students foolishly, after all. Wonder Woman and Supergirl had been chosen because of their gods given abilities, Kara’s far outweighing her own if only she could learn to wield them without being controlled by them. Batgirl had been chosen due to her super savvy tech skills, plus her father could throw his weight around with the influence he held, not that Barbara wasn’t perfectly capable of holding her own here and proving herself.
Harley was a loner though, as much as she craved attention. She could talk and talk but she could just as easily shift into the background, quietly observing. She fit securely into every environment and any conceived scenario, exuding a confidence and optimism Diana would never be able to lay claim to. Diana was never completely sure, usually went with her instincts as her mother taught her, but Harley always looked and acted sure.
Yet there were horrors boiling underneath her friend’s skin, injuries ever-shifting and only releasing when she was thrown into battle, ‘ready to play’, with all her fury and all her overkill happiness.
Diana had watched her maniacal glee - she didn’t know quite what else to call it - when they were outnumbered. Harley had been calm and collected one moment when they were surrounded, her quiet nervousness having caught Diana’s surprised attention, but then she had morphed into something else entirely. It was like she had carefully weighed the situation and decided outright that she didn’t like it, and then she had doused the world around the girls in piercing screams and vigorous splashes of red.
It had scared her how beautiful Harley had looked in that moment as she bashed heads in, cackling and keeping up a running commentary all the while, not moving on as she normally did but taking her time with them, mashing their fingers and splintering their teeth until the next moment Diana returned to herself she realized there simply were no bodies anymore.
The scene of carnage had startled her friends somewhat, but like Diana they had brushed the incident aside, fortunate to still breathe and most importantly: to fight another day. They all had to take out their frustrations somehow, all of them had their own pasts and their own special brand of hatred. If they dwelt too much on anyone they fought and everyone that got caught in the crossfire and killed… then they’d never be able to get out of bed in the morning.
Right now, though, Harley’s particular brand of warrior was all Diana could think about.
She didn’t blame Harley, or think any less of her, but she wanted to understand her.
The realization of Harley’s form of madness had come to her somehow as she clasped her golden lasso, fingernails digging into the familiar material, wondering where her roommate had sneaked off to and then remembering that day almost a month ago. That, and her beloved mallet was nowhere to be found, even though she had noticed it tucked in beside her lasso in Diana’s closet last night. It was odd how Harley’s lack of personal space brought it all up to the forefront of Diana’s concerns, the knowledge that Wonder Woman herself appeared to know so little about Harley save for what was on the surface, and that being what she allowed others to see.
Her first period was fraught with further stress where Harley was concerned, who wasn’t there at all being her usual distracting self. It wasn’t unlike Harley to skip a class, but usually she told Diana what she was doing and where she was going, eager to gloat.
Apparently, one period of stress was enough, for her worry strayed to Kara despite her attempts otherwise. “What do you think Harley’s home life is like, Kara?”
Diana didn’t blame her either when she shrugged; Harley was too much of an enigma for any of them to understand. Funny… sad how none of them seemed to realize that. “We’ll just have to wait until she tells us, Diana. I’m sure her life here is so much more exciting, I wouldn’t worry about anything.” She would have pressed further if Barbara hadn’t chosen that moment to burst out of a classroom and make her way over to Kara, who smiled over at her and gave her a small peck on the lips. Kara’s subsequent blush demonstrated all too well how that peck was one of restraint due to Diana’s presence.
She didn’t know why they bothered; she was happy for them, after all.
And now it was her turn to play catch-up.
Diana made her way to Harley’s usual training ground. When her roommate wasn’t in their room performing dazzling acrobatic feats or sprawled out on Diana’s bed reading trashy celebrity or just as trashy fashion magazines, cookie crumbs scattered everywhere, she was practicing practicing practicing.
“Come to play, Di?” Harley screeched, landing another blow on a dummy with her trusted mallet. Diana didn’t think she’d ever seen Harley separated from her beloved weapon of choice. They were here to train, but Diana reminded herself that they were also here to learn about the world and each other too. It wasn’t just a love for Harley that she didn’t quite understand that drove her.
Harley was in her element as she careened around the room, smacking down target after target, occasionally taking her time with one of the poorly painted dummies until there was nothing left but stray pieces of cardboard floating about the gymnasium-esque room. It was like a dance, if Diana tuned out the room around her, a sort of instinctual dance of glory and of carnage and of victory. Revenge too, the way Harley swung; it was amazing and quite selfish of her to have not noticed it before.
None of the others had, to the extent of her knowledge, but Diana had mistakenly chalked up Harley’s brash and invasive humor as a sign of her immaturity and childishness, when it was clear that not all the pieces had been snapped into place yet, that some of the colors were missing from Harley’s own distinct canvas.
There was a fire in her eyes that Diana had only seen once before: in her own mother. Hippolyta had many secrets from her past that hadn’t been disclosed to her own daughter, but Diana knew there were traces of abuse and betrayal, that it was truly a wonder revenge had not consumed her mother until there was nothing left.
Her mother always told her: ‘There is a reason for everything we do, daughter. There is a story behind every tear, beneath every long-healed scar, below every gaze whether hate-filled or unreadable.’ Hippolyta would also tell her to leave things be unless, and only if, one acted solely out of love, that people were not meant to understand the pain of others unless they exuded strength and certainty and not pity.
If she wouldn’t push her own mother to talk about her past, then she couldn’t pressure Harley to do the same.
There were some things perhaps Diana had no right to know about. Nonetheless, Diana wished Harley would talk to her sometimes, but no, they had pretend kissing instead.
As if on cue, Harley blew a kiss to her from across the room and Diana blew one back with a smile. She hung back, slinging off her backpack and sitting down on the bleachers patiently. It wouldn’t do to interrupt Harley when she was engrossed in her ‘battle.’ Besides, she’d rather have the blonde come to her when she was finished.
Which wasn’t more than another few minutes at most.
“I missed you in first period,” Diana scolded, carefully masking her worry as Harley bounced over to her.
Harley took the towel Diana offered her, wiping herself off hurriedly before sitting so close to the Amazon she practically was in her lap. “Ya know me. I’m too busy for all that homework stuff. Leads to headaches and all that, that’s what I keep telling ya.”
Diana rolled her eyes. “Which is why I have better grades than you, Harls,” and promptly shot her friend a glare when she stuck her tongue out at her. Disregarding her own mock outrage, Diana laughed in relief at Harley’s good mood as she started to babble about anything and everything that was on her mind. It seemed more natural than forced, and so did Diana’s subsequent dissipation of stress. Second period pressed in on her, but spending time with Harley doing what she wanted to do suddenly seemed even more important than convincing Harley to come with her or sitting in class and wondering what the hell she was doing.
“You seen Kara and Barbara lately?” Harley’s squeal of joy was infectious. “I caught them sneakin’ into the janitorial closet the other day. Just wait, Di! One of these days I’m gonna scare the bejeesus out of them while they’re makin’ out. It’s what they get for tryin’ to keep secrets from us!”
Diana thought about chastising Harley, since Barbara and Kara were shy enough as it was, but…
Speaking of hooking up …
She clasped Harley’s hand quickly, before she thought better of it as she always did. “Let’s say we don’t think about them for a while, huh? Just keep it me and you?”
A devious grin spread across Harley’s face. “‘Cause I’m impossible to resist, right?” She always seemed to know just where Diana was trying to lead her, even though nothing had come of it yet. Diana didn’t know if that meant Harley was resistant to the idea of them as anything more than friends, or that Harley believed Diana knew so little about the human world not to know just what the hell she was doing, thank you very much. And of just how much she wanted Harley.
“Am I mad for loving you?” The question blurted out before she could stop it. She’d told Harley she loved her on occasion but never this seriously. Harley seemed to take everything as a joke anyway, but the startled look on her face suggested otherwise.
Until her grin reappeared again. “Extra crazy!” Diana swatted her hand away when it started pulling on one of her pigtails; she knew all of Harley’s nervous ticks. Apparently, this seemed to give her the extra boost of confidence she needed. “And you know who else can make out in that janitorial closet?”
Yeah, like I’m able to wait that long. Her hand grasped a silky pigtail and she yanked Harley closer to her, pulling the blonde down to rest on top of her as her own body demandingly pressed her down into the uncomfortable bleachers, which were already digging into her back and she had only just gotten started. Harley followed her lead, head swooping down to attack Diana’s mouth so she wouldn’t have to tug so hard on her pigtails. And attack was the most fitting word she could find. As cute as Harley looked with her pigtails, the red and blue streaks she meticulously dyed in them suggesting a fashion statement or something else… all the Amazon wanted to do was mess them up and have Harley kill her for it.
The thought of it made her so warm and full inside she never wanted to let go.
So she didn’t.
She grasped Harley’s pale arms, scratching them with her nails because of her need to hang on. Harley pressed her down hard, yanking Diana’s hand out of her pigtail but only huffing when Diana replaced it immediately just to tease Harley with her defiance. She released it moments later, eager to push Harley’s trademark black mask up and into her hair, and beyond amazed and honored to be the only one who could see Harley’s distinctive ice blue eyes outside their cage.
They were almost the same shade of blue the sky had been that day when Harley lost control and paid no mind to it. The way she swung as if she were hammering Diana’s own heart, as if she could make the entire world come down around them.
“You okay, Diana?” She jerked, a fresh coat of heat painted over the memory. But there was always that nagging feeling… something must have happened to Harley, I’ve never seen someone so angry and so perfectly okay with it. Not even okay but happy. Not even happy but so ecstatic that it sets my teeth on edge. Harley clawed at her chest, and she honed in on her glowing face once more, was turned on considerably when she noticed Harley had undone the top three buttons of her skimpy top.
If it’s the last thing I do, Q. I am going to figure you out.
She licked her lips, catching a breath just in case Harley decided to kiss her again and she was still breathless. “You know I’m always going to be here, right, Harley?” The blonde shrugged, content to let the question go unanswered. Diana, however, wasn’t so willing. “We’re always going to be friends, no matter what happens. I am never going to do anything to forfeit our friendship, which is why I’ve thought so long and so hard about this.”
“You worry too much, your highness.”
Wrong, I spent so little time worrying about you I can ’t believe I didn’t notice it until now.
But Harley wasn’t having it. “Just shut up and kiss me already, will ya?” Before Diana could respond, Harley secured a chunk of her dark hair in her pale hand, clenched her fingers and pulled until Diana’s mouth practically fell into hers. She tasted happiness, dripping like honey, but that wasn’t all she tasted. There was hatred and fury mixed too quickly with joy and lust, providing an unstable combination, and there was a pain so deep it was bitter but so recent it was sour and not yet faded, as she had hoped for Harley’s sake it had been.
Harley was so alive though, she had never seen someone more alive.
And there was blood if Diana dug deep enough. It was Harley’s essence more than anything else and it tasted so good, so much like a promise that it was everything Diana could do not to beg for more. She didn’t need Harley to be innocent or good, she needed her biting wit and her masked pain and her unquenchable fury, because maybe then she would learn a thing or two.
Mad for you mad for you mad for you made for you.
And I ’m mad for loving her, right?