Harley didn't remember the exact time she got out of bed, nor did she remember when she went to the kitchen to grab a Cherry Coke from the fridge. However, the one thing she DID remember was when she opened the fridge, spotted Arthur all curled up on the bottom shelf, and felt her heart drop a little. He looked destroyed; body as frail as always and somewhat visible tears running down his face. She knelt beside him, meeting his eye for only a second before he glared at the wall of the fridge again.
"Hey, Artie..." Harley greeted softly, reaching out to take his hand, but stopping once he flinched back. "Honey, what's the matter? Do I need to bash a few heads in?" She tried to give him a smile.
"Artie, honey, do you wanna talk about it?" She remained patient, knowing that trying to press the matter would only cause trouble. She never wanted to hurt her best friend.
A soft mutter of 'no' was the reply she got, and Harley let out a little sigh of disappointment.
"Alrighty, sweetie." She stood up, reaching to the top shelf and grabbing the last bottle of Cherry Cola from it. She glanced back down at Arthur, giving him a sad smile before saying, "If you do wanna talk about it, you know where to find me." Then, gently, she shut the door and started to walk away, opening the cap of her soda on her way out.
"Wait...!" A call came from the fridge, making Harley stop and turn towards it again. Taking a sip from her soda, she replied,
She heard a few knocks from the inside of the fridge and took that as a definite 'okay' to get Arthur out of there. Carefully, she closed her soda bottle, set it aside, and opened the fridge again, moving out of the way to make room for him. Once he got out of the fridge, Arthur glanced at Harley and gave her a faint, thankful smile. She returned it with a wide grin.
"Okay, honey, lemme get you a blanket, yeah?" Without letting him reply, Harley hurried off, got the thin man a blanket, hurried back and gave it to him. He took it carefully and wrapped it around himself with another thankful smile.
"Thank you, Harley..."
"Oh, of course, sugar. You don't gotta thank me!" She held out her hand and, once he took it, led him to the main room to sit down. "Now, tell me what's goin' on."
Arthur fidgeted beside her, shifting the blanket around and tugging at any loose strands he might have found. He seemed to be thinking about where to begin, his eyes hardly ever meeting hers as he looked around the room. Harley, however, still remained patient and, giving him a reassuring smile, placed a hand over one of his own.
She opened her mouth, about to tell him to 'take his time'; to 'take it easy', but he interrupted her, turning his head quickly to meet her eyes and taking her hand in both of his own before he asked:
"Have you ever had a moment where... you're unsure what's real and what isn't?" His grip on her hand tightened, his hands visibly trembling. "You want the moment to be real; you sincerely hope it is, but you're no-not sure and you just w-want to-" he trailed off, a strained sound slipping from his throat as one of his hands moved to his throat in a way Harley knew all too well. She gently started to rub Arthur's back, his choked-back laughter forcing itself out and making Arthur cringe and cover his mouth in any way he could.
Harley gently pulled him to her, allowing him to rest his head on her shoulder as his laughter continued to get worse. As she held him, Harley felt herself tear up and she looked at the ceiling to try to get the tears to back down, but to no avail. They fell down her cheeks and Harley let out a soft sob which was drowned out by Arthur's loud fit.
He didn't think any of this was real.
He didn't think she was real.
It felt like hours before Arthur's laughter finally died down, his arms wrapped tightly around Harley's waist and his face buried in the fabric of her jacket. Harley didn't care if it was stained now, her thoughts trying to give her an idea on how to help Arthur know that this was real - She was real - but nothing good came.
That was until she felt Arthur playing with the beaded bracelets on her wrist - a possible way to soothe his nerves or to apologize for the outburst. Harley really hoped it was the former. Arthur had nothing to apologize for.
She gently ran a hand through his hair, softly whispering to him: "Artie, honey, can you sit up for me? Can you look at me?" And, when he did, she wiped the tears from both of their eyes and gave him another reassuring smile, gently patting his cheek before looking down at the bracelets he had been picking at and taking one off. Placing it in the palm of her hand and showing it to him, she asked: "You know what this is?"
"A.. bracelet?" Arthur tilted his head a little, his gaze moving from the bracelet to Harley repeatedly before it decided to stay on Harley, who grinned once their eyes met again.
"Yeah, but not just any bracelet." She clicked her tongue, her smile growing and her heart warming as she saw a glint of interest spark in Arthur's eyes.
"What do you mean?"
"This puppy," Harley picked up the bracelet with her forefinger and thumb, motioning to the many rocky-like beads that made the bracelet, "came from a volcano, they say. Rocks, cooled-down lava, all that shit." To be honest, she didn't exactly know what she was talking about. She stole the bracelet from a small store on the corner, it probably was just made out of plastic and metal.
But was she gonna tell Arthur that?
"But, do ya see this part?" Harley pointed toward a smoother, shinier set of beads on the bracelet - 4 to be exact - that were separated from the rocky ones by small, plastic, silver thingies (Harley had no idea what to call them). "These little guys are made out of a special sorta rock. Now, I don't remember what that rock is called, but I do know that it's believed to hold an aura-type deal of happiness." Harley gently moved the beads in between her fingers, smiling as she saw Arthur's expression.
He had a small smile on his face, his head still a bit tilted as he gazed at the bracelet with intrigue. His hands were fiddling with the blanket that was still wrapped around his thin frame, his hair in his face a little. To Harley, he looked innocent, which was kinda funny 'cause Arthur actually had been innocent a long time ago. Before the whole 'we live in a society' ordeal, before he found out the truth about his mother, before that one guy gave him that gun, before-
Harley shoved those thoughts aside, relaxing her tensing muscles before Arthur could notice any change in her behavior. He was still looking at the bracelet, however, and looked as though he wanted to hold it.
"Here," Harley said, shifting her position a little and motioning to Arthur's wrist which he held out to her after a short moment. Carefully, she put the bracelet on his wrist and almost giggled at how big it was on him. However, she knew exactly why he was so thin, and kept her mouth shut, replacing any snicker with a soft smile. "How does it feel?"
"It's a little cold..." Arthur said, moving the bracelet around on his arm to get used to the feel of it. Harley giggled, moving her feet onto the sofa and crossing her legs to get more comfortable - being careful not to kick the frail man.
"That's good! Means you can feel it!" Harley reassured, placing her hand over Arthur's once again and giving him a bright smile. "Now you got somethin' to remember me by!"
Arthur seemed to like that; his smile growing as he continued to look at the bracelet. Harley began to wonder if he could feel any of that 'happiness aura' stuff from the 4 shinier beads. At times, when she had the bracelet on, it really felt like she could.
"Thank you, Harley," Arthur said with a genuine smile, "this means a lot... I've never had a bracelet before."
Dramatically, Harley gasped, gently clutching onto his arm and blurting out: " Never?! " When Arthur began to laugh, - a real, seemingly happy laugh - Harley continued with bright eyes.
"Honey, I am going to get you so many bracelets! You won't know what to do with all of 'em!" She began to scan her arms, acting as if she was picking out another bracelet (or five) for her friend. Quickly, Arthur shook his head and told her that she didn't need to do that, genuine laughter slipping out of him and making him slightly shake.
Harley couldn't remember the last time she'd seen him so happy.
"Why not? Don't you know how awesome all those bracelets would look on you?" She continued to joke, patting Arthur's back a little when he began to cough. "You okay there, Artie?"
Arthur let out one more laugh. "Yeah, I'm fine." He gave her a reassuring smile. "Thanks again, Harley... I haven't laughed like that in a while."
"Aww, you're welcome, buddy!" She playfully kissed his cheek with a loud 'mwah!' and Arthur laughed again. "At least now you know for sure that you're stuck with me!"
"I-I wouldn't say 'stuck with you'..." Arthur replied, picking at the black-beaded bracelet again. After a moment, he looked her in the eye again. "You're my friend, Harley. I like being around you."
"You are too damn sweet, Artie," Harley replied after giving his words a bit of thought. Friend. She liked that. Sure, she had had some friends in her day, but it'd been a long time since she saw any of them. She missed them a lot. Especially Deadshot. He was so cool-
"You're my friend too, honey!" She told Arthur, giving him another bright smile and scooting a bit to give him a tight hug. He returned it a few seconds later, and Harley felt him bury his face into her neck.
After breaking the hug, the two of them began to talk about whatever else was on their minds - Jack, Ivy, Batsy, etc. In Harley's opinion, it felt great to have such a genuine conversation with her friend. Arthur seemed to enjoy it, too, which just made it all the better.
As time ticked on, and as the two friends laughed and chatted on, Harley got a funny thought.
Thank God I started cravin' Cherry Cola.
I would like to thank my friend Selmiiiart for drawing this for me! We're working on a project together, and this is the start of it! She is incredibly talented! You can check out her Tumblr page here: Selmiiiart