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we can light a match and burn it down

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He gets high with Harley in the alley between the club and the dumpsters before the show, her mascara smearing her cheeks as she laughs into his shoulder and tells him they should run away together – “Harley and Harvey, it’d be a riot, baby. A riot!” – and he takes another drag and lets his hand linger on the small of her back.

“Your boyfriend’d kill me, baby girl,” he says, and she laughs harder at that.

“He would,” she breathes, giddy with it. “He would.

He doesn’t have a death wish tonight, so he pushes away from the wall and passes Harley the joint, opening the side door with his foot and lighting a cigarette instead.

“Those things aren’t good for you,” Ivy says from where she’s pinning her red curls back and watching him knowingly. Harvey gives her a smoke filled salute and goes to make sure no one’s fucked with his guitar.


They play three sets in a night, his back damp with sweat and fingers bleeding into guitar strings, and afterwards he flips a coin and takes two girls back to their shitty motel, letting all his excess adrenaline drain into lips and teeth and skin.

He can hear Joker and Harley through paper thin walls, mad laughter and the scrape of cheap furniture against cheaper flooring, and he’s glad he’s too tired now to be tempted to join them. He still doesn’t have a death wish, which means it’s been a better night than most.

He leaves the girls spread across used sheets and goes searching for whatever passes as fresh air in this all-consuming hellhole of a town, regretting it almost as soon as the door shuts behind him, barricade of heat hitting him like a four-wheeler.

“Fucking desert,” he groans, digging in the pockets of his ripped-and-ripped-again jeans for a cigarette.

He looks up just in time to catch the pack thrown at him, and finds Ivy stretched out gracefully on one of the plastic deckchairs by the parking lot pool.

“I thought these things weren’t good for me,” he says, just to be facetious, and she rolls her eyes and inspects her nails.

“Better to kill yourself that way then any other,” she says, and he grins.

“Y’know, Ivy, it almost sounds like you care.”

“I care about the band,” she says, and he shrugs because yeah, that’s about the gist of it.

He finds the deckchair that looks least likely to collapse under him and pulls it as close to Ivy’s as he dare, watching the shapes the dim streetlights make on the water and hoping no one’s going to take issue with him sleeping out here, then remembering that he doesn’t really give a fuck either way.


“What’s up?” he asks, borderline drunk from a series of other people’s shitty sets, and Ivy sighs dramatically and digs sharp nails into his arm to drag him into an alcove where the noise level goes from oh Christ, my eardrums to good luck hearing yourself think. At least it helps with the headache that’s been forming behind Harvey’s right temple, anyway.

“They’re at it again,” Ivy says eventually, and he tenses up, eyes automatically scanning the room for Harley’s blonde pigtails and Joker’s too-green hair.

“Perfect timing,” he says sarcastically, and she nods and doesn’t say this is the beginning of the end because they both know it.

It’s happened before and it’ll happen again, Joker and Harley getting into the sort of all out war that unfolds slowly – a well-chosen word here, a hand on the wrong person’s leg there – and soon Joker’s saying all sorts of things that outdo cruel and slide straight into downright fucking evil, and Harley’s smashing all his vintage guitars and taking off in his car across state lines. After a couple of months, a year tops, they’ll find their way back to each other, pretending they’re not the most destructive thing this side of a warzone, but in the meantime the band will lay by the wayside and Harvey and Ivy will get caught in the crossfire.

“Fuck,” Ivy says, eventually, and, yeah.

That about sums it up.


Harvey manages to waste two weeks drinking cheap whiskey and carefully ignoring the world before Joker and Harley find him, eyes glittering and fingers twisting into the clothes he’s been wearing for five days straight, and he knows what it means and that this is it.

He flips a coin and goes with them anyway, because fuck it, if they’re allowed to instigate their own destruction then so is he.

He can’t say he regrets it because he never does, but everything about it tastes bittersweet all the same.


“Dumb move,” she says, and he doesn’t know how she got here before him – doesn’t know how she knew where he was going to be in the first place – but he isn’t surprised.

“Darlin’, half of everything I do is a dumb move,” he says, then goes to order three espressos and a green tea.

“Thank you,” she says when he hands it over, and he grunts and downs his coffee until his tongue feels burnt and swollen and his own again.

Ivy sips at her drink and crosses her legs, tormenting the middle-aged man at the next table with the way her shorts ride up her never-ending thighs, and Harvey grins when she follows it up by grinding her stiletto into the floor pointedly.

“I’m leaving,” she says, after a while, and that’s not what he was expecting.

“Okay,” he says, because her mind’s made up, and she’s the only one among them with a working one of those.

“Come with me?” she says, and her eyes glitter in a way that doesn’t half-scare him and means all the more for it.

“Okay,” he says, without flipping a coin, and that’s that.


They take the van, the one they’d all chipped in for, and Harvey leans against the side and works his way through half a pack of cigarettes as Harley cries into Ivy’s shoulder across the parking lot.

“Shh,” Ivy says, running her fingers through Harley’s hair and holding her close. “It’ll be okay, baby girl. I’m not leaving you, I’m just leaving.”

“It’s the same thing!” Harley screams, because there’s drama where her blood used to be, and Ivy laughs quietly and doesn’t rise to the bait.

“You know you just have to call,” she says instead, “any day, any night.”

Harley sniffs and wipes at her eyes until her make up’s smeared every which way, and Ivy reaches out and fixes it with the careful pads of her thumbs.

“It was never about the music anyway,” Harley pouts, and Ivy sighs and shakes her head, looking truly sad for the first time in as long as Harvey can remember.

“It was for me.”

They hug until dusk begins to fall and Harley takes off, hunting down the vestiges of her relationship, conspicuous in his absence.

Ivy tilts her head back to bask in the last rays of the setting sun and looks like poetry in motion.


They share a room outside Tucson, and end up sat by the pool after the air-con packs in, Harvey cursing out the heat and motels and Arizona in general, and Ivy flicking bored nails against his side until he hisses and shuts up.

“I’m glad you came,” she says, when the hour’s gone from late to early, and she’s always been brutally honest but this isn’t the same.

“Me too,” he says, and means it more than he’s maybe meant a lot of things in a long time.

He can feel the coin weighing heavy in his pocket; thinks fuck it and kisses her anyway.

“This might just be your dumbest move yet,” she says against his lips, but she kisses him back all the same.

When they pull apart for breath, Harvey grins into the space between them, says “Let’s make some great fucking music,” and when she laughs it’s the best sound he’s heard in years.