Pam's phone rings, and rings, and rings, but she never answers.
Jackie's considering stopping, at this point, because she always lets it ring, never answers when he calls - but he's stubborn and sad and misses Harley, so he keeps calling, sat against the cold plaster wall of Harvey's apartment, phone trembling in his grip. He calls and calls and calls, over and over, until Harvey comes home with pity in his eyes and makes them both some tea.
Harvey's apartment is wide and spatious, with cleanly-painted walls and pristine furniture, and would look like a page of a furniture magazine if it weren't for the patches on the walls where pictures had been torn down, or the clutter of letters on the coffee table, or the small trails of dirt he leaves when he forgets to wipe his boots on the doormat. He's lived in it for years on his own, ever since his engagement with Gilda went south, and still isn't quite used to someone else being there when he comes home - but Jackie needed somewhere new to stay, unwilling to face the emptiness of his and Harl's over-club apartment now that she was gone, and Harvey isn't a monster, so he let his friend in with open arms.
Jackie sits cross-legged on Harvey's floor, feet tucked under his knees, warm tea in his hands; Harvey sits across from him on the couch and turns the TV on to some old cartoon they'd both watched as kids, and doesn't look at the other man, not even for a moment. Jackie's skin is tight where the acid hit him and, though the patches of roughness are hidden mainly under his clothes, some of them peak out through his collar and cut sleeves, and Harvey can't help but feel a pang of empathy at the sight, having known that pain before. But the pain in Jackie's eyes - the sharp, deep, terrifying pain that brings tears to Harvey's eyes when he looks properly - is something unfamiliar to him.
He'd lost people before, but never people like Harl. He'd never had to watch them die and be the one who survived.
So he lets him cry, and turns the volume up so neither of them can hear the neighbours, and stays curled into the couch long into the night.
Harvey first met Jackie at Harl's club, a few years back. It'd been before his accident, before his disorder was as prominent in his life, and he'd been out with Gilda after work, when she still loved him. She'd been talking about something or other and he'd zoned out, tired from a long day - and when he zoned back in there was a sharp elbow in his side, and a charming grin to match it.
Jackie was handsome in the way that vampires were handsome, in those old silly YA novels that Harvey's friends had read in high school. His features were sharp and pale, nearly white; his face was long and pointed, and his eyes an electric green against the snow-white of his skin. His hair - dyed grape purple, as always - curled atop his head and fell in strands across his forehead and in his eyes.
He was beautiful, to put it bluntly. Beautiful, and looking at Harvey as if he'd said something.
The lawyer shook himself out of his stupor and, in a moment of genius, stuttered a quiet "P-Pardon, sir?", sounding every bit like a timid little servant under his master's gaze. The handsome stranger snickered, a joyous sound, and nudged him again, gentler this time.
"I said, my name's Jackie," he beamed, voice bright, "and you're cute, so I thought I'd say hi."
Harvey spluttered, nearly choking on his drink - which brought another tinkling laugh from the other man - and straightened up, beet-red. "Thank you, uh, sir." He cleared his throat, hoping to sound a little less like he was dying. "I'm Harvey and, uh, so are you, I think."
Jackie's eyes narrowed, smile widening. "Well, I'd hope so, pretty-boy, cos you stared at me for a good minute, there. If it wasn't admiration, I'd be worrying."
The broader man turned even redder, ears burning, and turned to look for Gilda in the crowd. "I should probably be back with, uh, my fiancee," he watched the other man deflate slightly, though his smile stayed genuine, "but, erm, it was nice to meet you, Jackie."
"Oh, please," Jackie patted him on the shoulder and gently took the untouched glass from his hand, taking a small sip as he backed away, "the pleasure's all mine."
Harleen Quinzel had been a wonderful woman - beautiful and smart, with a tongue sharp enough to cut. It was no surprise to anyone that she and Jackie got along like a house on fire, running their mouths at the same speed.
She'd been in school to be a psychiatrist, hoping to get some job at Arkham, and had taken over her dad's old club for the cash. Under her care it flourished, bustling and free, and that's where Jackie had met her, performing one of his shows on her stage.
His comedy style was the kind that cut and prodded where people didn't want it to, harsh enough to shock and gentle enough to get a few laughs. He quipped at the mayor, the strangers he met on the street, the handsome lawyer he'd stunned into silence last time he visited - and Harley had laughed the hardest out of anyone, damn near falling out of her seat a few times. She greeted him on his way down from the stage, smile broad on her pretty painted face, and introduced herself as "Harleen Quinzel, but most folks call me Harley".
They'd sat down for a few drinks together and, sure enough, meshed as well as friends can hope to - a few visits later and they were best friends, a few more and Jackie was a staple performer at the club. They were inseperable - a multipack of pretty clowns, as one customer put it - and it'd torn Jackie apart to see her die, when the time came.
But that's the wrong way to word it, because it wasn't anywhere near Harl's time to die.
Jackie'd gotten a bit too brave with his jokes, roping the city's terrors into it too, and somewhere along the line they must've caught wind - because one second the crowd was full of laughter, and the next it was full of screams, and Jackie barely caught sight of Owlman's cape as he ducked down from the gap in the ceiling.
It was acid, and it was everywhere, on everything - and whilst the casualties had been minor, Jackie's terrible luck prevailed, and Harleen Quinzel was amongst them, burnt beyond recognition, buried in a quiet little cemetary a few streets down from the club, as close to Arkham as one could be buried without being an inmate there. It's what she would have wanted, after all.
Pamela Isley was Harley's girlfriend, and Jackie met her at the funeral.
She was tall and intimidating, tan with long red hair, vines tattooed up her arms. Her eyes glinted green with inhuman power, she walked with her chin up, and the flowers she left on her girlfriend's grave twitched and coiled around her fingers, as if called to her like a siren.
(Harley had told him once, drunk, that Pam could control the flowers, and he'd laughed and said she was madder than him - but now, seeing the bouquet on Harley's grave, he was beginning to believe it.)
Pam looked through everyone as if they were barely there, shocked beyond repair - until her eyes focused on Jackie's face, and she breathed deeply, somewhere between relieved and distraught.
"Jackie?" she questioned lightly, voice thick with emotion - and, upon seeing him nod, wrapped him in her arms and breathed.
"She loved you, Jack. She really did." Her grip tightened around him. "You're all that she kept that damn club open for. She died for that place, Jack. Don't let it die with her."
He nodded against her neck, and promised he'd save it.
But Jackie has never had the best of luck, and never learnt how to run things the way Harley did, and never lives up to what people expect of him - so the club shut down about a month after her funeral, bankrupt, the usual crowd scared away by the acid incident. Jackie was still sore from where the acid had hit him, adrenaline long, long gone, and couldn't bare to look at the burn mark in the carpet where Harley had one stood - so he shut it down.
Pam stopped answering his calls, after that, and Harvey collected him in his arms and drove him home, just as eager to fill the space in his heart.