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So, Harv Walks Into a Bar

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Mack stared across the small space separating her from Harv, then closed the distance, fully aware that Harv hated anything that could even be remotely construed as ‘affection,’ particularly after sex. Given that she’d endured one of the shittiest dinners of her life, she figured he could just get the fuck over it.

She sidled up next to him, close enough to feel his body heat, but not quite touching him either. He tensed as the woman next to him placed a hand on his chest, and then scowled when she left it there.

Mack tilted her head so that she could meet his now narrowed eyes, and then, “I think,” she said slowly, “that we need to renegotiate.”

He said nothing, and she took this as a sign to continue– when it could just as easily have been a refusal to enter into conversation with her.

“We both seem to have gotten things that we wish we hadn’t.”

“Explain,” he growled, staring pointedly at the hand she still refused to move.

“I don’t want to spend all our time together hating you because of the way you disrespect me in public, and you didn’t enjoy my subservience as much as you thought you would.”

The rumble in his chest was clearly a warning, but she refused to retreat. The muscles underneath her hand rippled, and he seemed to uncoil as one arm came to wrap around her. To an outsider it would have seemed a romantic gesture, but the too-tight grip told her otherwise.

“What are you suggesting?” he asked, not bothering to hide the impatience behind his words.

Mack tapped one finger rhythmically on his chest, nerves started to get the better of her. A motion he quickly stopped when he stilled her with his free hand, his other arm coming around her until he was encompassing her in a mockery of a reassuring embrace.

“You once promised not to use your size to intimidate me,” she reminded him shortly.

“I thought we were renegotiating,” he countered snidely.

“Specifically the terms about me being your mistress, “she clarified, “not the ones concerning my general safety.”

His sinister smirk was not reassuring.

“How about I aim for less submissive, while remaining completely respectful of your position and authority within the criminal underworld, and in return you can merely be indulging your newest sex toy.”

She sent him a pointed look. “After all, “she told him. “You’re indulging me right now, aren’t you?”

“Define respectful,” he demanded.

Mack’s face twisted; the idea that she’d still have to swallow some of her pride leaving a sour taste in her mouth. “I suppose,” she told him grudgingly, “that I could stop trying to have the last word, and not go out of my way to goad you constantly”

“Don’t hurt yourself princess,” he ground out.

“Yeah, well let’s see you try to curb all your dominate personality traits, and act like a dancing monkey for a bunch of ass twaddles that you can’t stand. All while wearing painful three inch heels, and trying not to have a live from New York, it’s Saturday night sort of moment.

He snorted, and she gave herself an internal high five for getting the equivalent of a laugh from her mob boss.

“Besides,” she sighed, “no one’s going to believe this act anyway. If I really was one of them, I’d be constantly rubbing it in their faces that my mob boss almost started a mob war for me. Hell, I’d be taking my new found self-importance out for a fucking test drive.”

“Maybe it’s too late for damage control. Maybe we should be trying to turn me into an asset, instead of always trying to minimize my liability and your exposure to it,” she mused, her fingers once again tapping against his chest.

This time he let her, distracted by Harvey’s grating voice between his ears. It’s a good idea.

She’s incapable of restraint, Harv growled back. She’d takes it too far. Every. Fucking. Time.

The amount of restraint she showed at dinner says otherwise. Harvey shot back.

Harv ignored his other half’s protest. They both knew there was no room for error. One mistake on her part and he’d have to make an example of her.

Maybe not, Harvey muttered. All she has to do is let you win.

Let me?! Harv snarled in fury. She’s doesn’t let me do shit. She’d lucky I let her keep breathing.

Fine, Harv capitulated in exasperation. But you ought to remember that you’re both on the same side now!

Fuck you Harvey. Harv swore angrily. You’re the reason we’re in this mess to begin with. You just had to have the once piece of ass in this goddamn city that…

That likes both of us, Harvey cut him off sharply. Who can bend and not break. Who can take your shit and give it back. Who…

Who I should have left to die before your fucking sentiment compromised us! Harv roared, before added an infuriated, And, don’t you dare fucking interrupt me!

Harvey paused, considering the benefits and risks of pointing out that Harv had just included himself in that last statement before deciding that he’d pissed off his other half enough for the moment. She doesn’t have to be a weakness. As she just pointed out, she could be an asset.

She’s my whore, Harv insisted harshly, she’ll never be anything more than the woman I fuck.

Even you aren’t capable of lying to yourself that much. You don’t have to like it, but she has the potential to be your woman in more than just the biblical sense. Harvey pushed aside the despair and disappointment that threatening to overtake him, knowing that what he said next was going to kill any chance of preserving Jamie’s morality.

Roxy is never going to be able to make her into what you want. You’re the only one capable of pulling Mack into the abyss with you. So just do it already. Harvey finished grimly, gritting his teeth against the urge to take his words back.

Jamie was perfect the way she was, for him, but Harv and Jamie would never find equilibrium if she didn’t learn how to step out of the light. Harvey would just have to make sure that she didn’t fall so far that she was out of his reach.

Harv was momentarily stunned at his other half’s admission before then replying with a derisive, I don’t need your fucking blessing to corrupt my own woman.

Harvey turned away with a huff, but they both knew that his suggestion had managed to derail a large part of his counter argument against Mack’s idea. They also both knew that Harvey had just doomed the woman he could easily love to a constant balancing act between Harv’s darkness and his own morality. Their conversation came to an abrupt end as Harv dismissed Harvey with a harsh mental shove, and then released his bed partner to roll into a sitting position on the side of the bed.

A moment later and he was inhaling a lungful of smoke. “An asset,” he sneered, “why don’t you focus on not constantly needing to be rescued first?” He looked over his shoulder at her, completely unsurprised by the offended look on her face.

“I do not need to be constantly saved!” She argued, jaw clenched in anger.

“Prove it,” he shot back belligerently.

“Oh fine,” Mack agreed shortly as she slid to the opposite side of the bed, “I’ll just go and get myself kidnapped so that I can make a fucking point.”

“Good idea,” he said, pulling on his pants. “I’ll find the duct tape,” he added, sending her a sadistic smirk.

“What?!” she sputtered at his retreating back, as she slowly realized she’d walked right into the trap he’d set for her.

He refused to answer her, and moments later she could hear the faint sound of someone rummaging through drawers. A hint of panic slithered down her spine, and Mack hurriedly dug through the closet. A sigh of relief passed her lips as she found her pants and shirt buried behind the plethora of dresses recently delivered. Pulling them on, she hurried after Harv just in time to see him turn towards her, one hand wrapped around the duct tape he’d clearly been looking for.

“Sorry, Harv,” her tone making it clear she wasn’t sorry in the slightest. “I’m not really into bondage.”

Harv ignored her, stalking across the tile and crossing onto the carpet as he followed her now retreating form. “Lesson one.” He pulled a length of tape free enjoying the way her eyes widened at the sudden ripping noise, “evasion and escape.”

“You’re not serious,” she breathed. “I’m not letting you fucking tie me up! Do I look crazy to you,” she exclaimed, actual fear peeking through her brave façade.

“Trust me,” he mocked before crooking a finger at her.

“Fuck you,” Mack responded bluntly.

His sinister laugh echoed through the room, and Mack moved for the door only to find that he’d predicted her movements and beat her there.

“You’re not very good as this,” Harv pointed out, deliberately goading her.

Mack’s eye twitched at the insult, and she forced herself to ignore his taunts focusing instead on trying to get out of this. “What are the rules,” she demanded, shifting her weight from foot to foot impatiently.

“There’s only one rule in survival,” he told her seriously. “Survive.”

“No shit,” she huffed at him, “but what are the rules for right now!?”

“You think my enemies are gonna hand out fucking rules of engagement?” Harv swore. “You want to live, figure it out.” Any remaining tolerance slipped from his face until only Two-Face was looking back at her. “I’d start by running,” he advised with quiet menace.

Mack momentarily froze as she realized he was serious. She snarled at him in response before reverting to the standard go to response of all women when faced with the unwanted attention of a member of the opposite sex.

He was waiting for it. Harv wrapped a hand around her ankle, jerking it to the side before it came anywhere near his thighs. A quick flick of his hand and she was face down on the floor. “Predictable,” he ground out before releasing her.

She scrambled to her feet, and whirled on him, stepping into his space and aiming the heel of her hand towards his nose. He leaned his head to one side to avoid her hand, and then grabbed her wrist, using it to twist her arm behind her back. “Better,” he conceded grudgingly, shoving her away from him.

Mack swore, using the momentum of his shove to run away from him. She bolted behind the couch, slowing down long enough to look behind her before skidding to a stop when she didn’t find him hot on her heels.

Harv’s large framed slammed into her as he barreled over the couch, pulling them both down to the floor. “If you’d paid more attention you could have ducked,” he criticized with a scowl before rolling off her.

A hard kick to his stomach was all the response she gave as she staggered to her feet and made for the front door. He followed after, his longer reach allowing him to catch her before her hand had completely closed around the door handle.

He grabbed her, his arm locking securely around her neck. “Now what,” Harv challenged, his arm tightening enough that taking a deep breath was becoming difficult.

“Harv,” she gurgled, tapping on his arm in an attempt to get him to let go.

“Relax,” he reminded her with a scowl she could hear but not see, “You have a brain, use it.” From the way her nails started to dig into his arm, she was not reassured. Mack tried to fight him and the terror threatening to overwhelm her, but quickly failed as she struggled for every breath. He felt her start to hyperventilate and he huffed in agitation, releasing the pressure on her neck so that she could breathe freely.

“Stop fucking panicking,” he growled, “and think.”

“I am,” she protested in between gulps of air, “I’m thinking about your promise not to hurt me.”

Harv loomed over her, snarling an offended, “I haven’t harmed one hair on your fucking head, even once, in the months I’ve known you so calm the fuck down.”

Mack opened her mouth to protest, when he cut her off. “That does not count,” he ground out. “You threw my best whiskey and a table at me.”

“And what the hell do you call this,” she countered, their familiar bickering bringing a sense of equilibrium back.

“Educating you,” he retorted. “Unless you’d rather wait until it’s a stranger’s arm around your neck?”

“And this is what,” she shot back scathingly, “Harv’s school of hard knocks?

“I offered you the protection of being my mistress,” he reminded her with a sneer. “If you want to change the rules, then you better be willing to except the consequences of being more than the woman I fuck.”

“And I’m willing to,” Mack argued hotly, “I’m just asking that you extended a little common courtesy. Would it have been so hard to tell me what you planned first?”

She stopped his predictable response with a wave of her hand, “and yes,” she said scornfully, “I’m aware that an attack on me would also be without warning, but you could have a least told me how far you’d planned on taking it.”

“You think this is far,” he challenged, voice furious. “This is light-weight shit, compared to what you actually need to know to protect yourself. How many times do I have to remind you that this isn’t a game!”

“Do you know how Black Mask made a name for himself,” he demanded, not bothering to give her a chance to answer. “He disfigures his victim’s faces, tortures them until they’re barely recognizable. He’d think it was hilarious to do to you what was done to me, just to piss me off.”

“And the Russians,” he continued with an ugly laugh, “I hear they like to skin people alive.”

“Jesus Christ,” she exclaimed in horror, fighting the urge to simply cover her ears, “I don’t want to hear this shit!”

“Do you want it done to you?” He shot back pointedly.

“No!” She protested wildly.

“Then pay attention,” he said harshly, “and stop hating me for not letting you be a victim.”

There was a long silence, as Harv’s last pronouncement hung around them, and then Mack capitulated. “Fine.” She said shortly, “but just because I understand the purpose behind all of this,” she said, face flush with anger, “doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it.”

“God forbid,” he grumbled.

“It also doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it,” she admitted grudgingly.

“Your apologies fucking suck,” Harv told her, arm once again obstructing her airway.

“Thanks for the warning,” she hissed sarcastically.

“If you think I won’t choke you out, just to shut you up….” He threatened.

She chose to ignore him, pretending that he was issuing empty threats, and focused on the problem at hand. Mack might still be able to breath, but being able to only take shallow breaths meant that she had to deal with her fear, and figure out how to escape at the same time.

A sharp elbow to his torso made him grunt and loosen his grip long enough to take a deep breath, but wasn’t enough to get him to let go. “Lose the kid gloves,” he ordered.

Mack narrowed her eyes, and then tried to slam her head into his face. Their height difference meant her efforts were nothing more than an annoyance. “You’re not tall enough for that princess,” he mocked with a rusty laugh that infuriated her.

Dimly she recalled Sandra Bullock’s voice reminded her to, “SING,” and she tried to imitate the, solar plexus, instep, nose, groin combo but was only successful in hitting her first two targets before Harv had shoved her face first again the nearest wall.

“Oww,” she protested, voice partial muffled.

“Stop using me as a punching bag,” he hissed through clenched teeth. “And try something that might actually work.”

Her eyes widened as she had a sudden idea. Leaning back into him, she picked up her feet, hoping the additional weight would force him to either hold her up or let her go. He refused to do either, and as a result she managed to choke herself more, but was able to get her feet on the wall in front of her, and then push back hard.

Harv stumbled back, not quite prepared for the full strength of her legs, but managed to wrap both arms around her and tuck her into the line of his body before they hit the floor together. She landed squarely on him, and would have been able to scramble away if she hadn’t paused, staring at him in a mix of shock and awe. “Did you just take a fall…”

He refused to let her finish, sitting up and dragging her back into position, his arm around her neck. “You made two mistakes,” he said with a quiet fury that served as a wordless warning to tread carefully.

“You hesitated and you held back. If you’re not willing to maim or kill, then you’re going to die.”

Mack’s brow furrowed in disbelief. “You want me to deliberately try and maim you?”

Harv snorted, before offering a patronizing, “you can try.”

Instead of continuing to make attempts that she doubted would succeed, she decided to just admit defeat and ask for help. “Then what would you suggest?” she bit back.

“You have nails,” he reminded her, his tone telling her very clearly that he thought she was an idiot. “Aim for the eyes.”

“That,” she said flatly, “is disgusting.”

“It’s you or them,” Harv countered before grabbing her wrist with his free hand. “If you scratch me,” he warned her, flexing the arm still wrapped around her neck, “I’m not gonna stop squeezing.”

She froze as he positioned her thumb over his good eyelid before demonstrating the best places to place her remaining fingers. He added a brusque, “nail first,” and she shuddered.

It wasn’t until he’d safely removed her hand from his face that he released her, and she rubbed her neck absently as if reassuring herself that she was free and unharmed. Well, she amended, physically unharmed. Psychologically, she felt like she’d just been hit by a large truck.

Scooting back out of the circle of his legs she leaned against the kitchen island and turned to look at him. Harv’s piercing blue eyes stared back at her, and she realized that in his own, incredibly fucked up way, he was actually being supportive. Mack certainly didn’t approve of his teaching methods, but it didn’t change the fact that he was giving her what he had once referred to as his valuable time and attention. Not to mention the way he’d taken the brunt of that last tumble for her, which apparently was not to be spoken of, ever.

That particular behavior; however, was one she wanted to encourage, even if he didn’t seem to want to acknowledge his good deed. “I appreciate the cushioned landing,” she told him, mouth quirking up into a small smile, “even if you don’t. I have enough bruises as it is.”

His eyes hardened, irritated that she’d ignored his not so subtle attempt to drop the subject. “I’m about to tie you to a chair, and you decide to antagonize me.”

She froze at the idea of letting anyone tie her to anything, let alone the man in front of her. Mack knew he’d pulled out the duct tape, but for the life of her she’d thought that he’d been kidding.

Her eyes bored into his, trying to see through him the way he always seemed to see through her. As always, he revealed nothing, and she wondered if he realized that he was asking her to face her biggest fear. The fear of losing her freedom, of relinquishing her control and putting complete trust in someone else. She’d be helpless and at his mercy; a man who freely admitting to torturing and murdering people. He actually expected her to walk willingly into the slaughter house, and never even hesitate; armed with the knowledge that everyone before her had died horribly under his hands.

“Do you even understand the level of trust you’re asking me to place in you?” She asked him seriously, not bothering to hide the fact that she was scared shitless.

“Yes,” he answered, expression grave.

Mack tried to remind herself that he was doing all this to try, in his own way, to help her. That he had saved her life, protected her, and risked a mob war for her. In the end, it simply came down to whether or not she trusted him, and they both knew it.

No, she decided, she didn’t trust him, not enough for this. Hell, she couldn’t think of a single person, alive or dead, she trusted this much. It was simply too much to ask- and it didn’t matter in the slightest. He was right. She needed to know what he was trying to teach her, and this was the only way he was willing to do it.

Walking to that chair was both the hardest and bravest thing she’d ever done. Harv watched her silently, not missing the way her hands shook or the way she clenched them into fists.

Mack took her seat, her hands tense in her lap, and tried not to vomit. Was she actually going to go through with this? The sound of Harv pulling tape free from the roll had her fighting bone-deep panic, and it took every ounce of willpower she possessed to stop herself from running as far away as possible. Her lower lip began to tremble and she shut her eyes tightly, head tilted down as she willed her eyes not to water. She would be damned before she would cry in front of one of them, let alone Harv.

He stood behind her, waiting for her to bring her hands down to hang next to the frame of the chair, refusing to do any more than actually apply the tape itself. He wouldn’t make it any easier on her by forcing her to give him what he wanted her to give freely. As Harv secured her right wrist he couldn’t quite deny the sliver of discomfort that crept through him at the sight of her shoulders shaking. Her left hand quickly followed, and when he was finished she slumped forward, desperately trying to regain her composure.

Jesus, Harvey breathed as he looked through Harv’s eyes to see the small wet spots decorating the upper arm she was leaning into. Did you actually make her cry?! What is wrong with you?

Shut up Harvey, Harv countered, feeling just as disturbed as his other half was but refusing to admit it.

Mack interrupted their continued conversation with a hoarse, “stop fucking staring at me and just get on with it, already.”

“I wasn’t sure you’d willingly do it,” he admitted, pulling over a nearby chair. He took a seat across from her as she lifted her head, still refusing to look at him. Not that it hid the drying streaks that marred her cheeks.

“Yeah, well,” Mack drawled bitterly, “you know me. Constantly blurring the line between bravery and stupidity.”

“I’ve seen you afraid,” he murmured, eyes narrowing, “but you’re terrified. I wouldn’t even have to physically hurt you to break you, would I?” He asked clinically. “I could just imprison you in this apartment. That’s what scares you isn’t it?”

Her breathing went ragged at the picture he was painting, and her responding fuck you, was truly hateful.

“That’s why you always fight me,” he leaned forward, any number of pieces clicking into place. “All this time I’ve been threatening you and the people around you with bodily harm, when all I needed to do was threaten to take away your freedom.”

Mack face was rictus of fury, and she made damn sure her conviction was shining in her eyes. “The second you do, I will stop willingly giving either of you anything; including any chance that I’d ever welcome a touch from you or Harvey. Ever. Again.”

Harv’s eyes narrowed to slits, as Harvey’s ensuing panic forced him to reassure his other half that it was unlikely to come to that.

How reassuring, Harvey snarled, his anger at the entire situation equal to Harv’s own. Harv had finally met a situation he couldn’t force to go his way, and it was fucking enraging. He didn’t want her if she wasn’t willing, but he couldn’t allow her to threaten him. He reached out, grabbing the edge of her chair and pulled her towards him until their knees were touching.

“Just because I wouldn’t touch you if you were unwilling, doesn’t mean I’d let you go,” he clarified with a cruel smile. “I can keep you here forever, and never even step foot in this apartment.” He let that sink in for a moment, “or you can remember that I’ve trying to keep you alive. Maybe you oughta think about the reasons I do things, and not instantly assume it’s because I’m a fucking asshole.”

“Fuck you,” she shot back, “you just pointed out that my greatest fear is losing my control and freedom, and I still let you tie me to a goddamn chair, placing me completely at your mercy. Isn’t that enough of a win for you? Or am I not allowed even a small victory in the shadow of your larger one.”

“Did ever occur to you,” she said snottily, “that maybe we ought to call a truce before we push each other so far that our pride won’t allow us to walk it back? Because I happen to like having the bad boy, and the man you take home to your mother, in the same man. And you know damn well that the reason I’m worth so much to you is because I’m the one person in this entire city who likes both of you. Isn’t that why you put up with my smart mouth?”

When he reached for her, he saw the small flinch she tried to hide, and was unsurprised by it. They both knew she had risked pushing him too far. His hand was surprisingly gentle as he slid his fingers into her hair and tilted her head to the side, “I’m not accustomed to allowing other people victories,” he told her with a dangerous glint in his eyes, “and I put up with your smart mouth because I like to fight. But,” his teeth grazed her ear lobe even as he yanked her hair hard enough to make her hiss in fury, “you’re not getting that truce, Mackenzie. I like you better when you’re angry.”

“Well, congratulations,” she told him with mock sweetness, “I’m fucking pissed.”

She felt the smirk against her neck, “I know.”

He pulled back, and she glared at him, “you don’t have look so pleased with yourself.”

Harv ignored her, his facial expression making it clear he was pleased with himself. Finally, he climbed to his feet, retrieving a package from a nearby closet and depositing a cloth package of various sharp instruments on the table next to her.

“Well that’s reassuring,” she told him shortly, giving him a wide eyed stare.

The wicked smile he sent her just made it worse. Harv gestured at the duct tape around her extremities. “Zip ties and duct tape can be sawed through if you use enough friction. If they use rope, you might be able to fray them enough to pull them apart. Otherwise you’ll have to lose a couple layers of skin, and use the blood to try and slide them off.”

He let his advice hang there between the two of them before standing up. “You have fifteen minutes to break free, or,” he deliberately fingered the handle of a nearby knife, “we might have to find a way to motivate you.”

With his last threat issued he turned and walked down the hallway to his office, closing the door behind him with a soft click. Once she was sure he wasn’t coming back, Mack shuddered and let out the sob she’d been holding back for the last ten minutes. Her sob turned into a short bark of laughter that sounded more like a cackle to her ears than she was comfortable with. “When I said I didn’t want to be a liability, this isn’t quite what I had in mind,” she muttered bitterly.

She allowed herself another moment of self-pity for herself and sheer hatred for Harv before she forced herself to face the problem at hand. She was duct taped to a fucking chair. Mack had officially had enough of this shit, she wanted free and she wanted it now. The last thing she wanted to deal with was Harv and whatever the hell he’d consider proper motivation.

First things first, she tested the bonds around her wrist, completely unsurprised that Harv had made sure they were too tight to wiggle loose. Taking a deep breath, she recalled what he’d had said about friction, and searched the room for something she could use.

It would have to be something she could rub the tape against which meant that everything sharp on the table was out. She’d never be able to get to it, let alone wedge it against something so she could rub the tape against it. The brick on the fireplace might work though, if she could manage to maneuver the chair over there. With a quick look down the hallway, she put all her effort into jerking the chair the few feet towards the fireplace. Despite the force she used, she’d only been able to travel a few inches at a time. By the time she’d crossed the carpet she was winded and her time was almost up.

She felt the fear starting to rise and she pushed it aside, grasping onto an old quote from a Frank Herbert novel that felt particularly appropriate. Fear is the mind killer. Mack took a deep breath and tried to slow her heart rate, while using what small amount of slack she did have to rub her right wrist faster on the brick. A sharp pain shot up the side of her hand as she moved too roughly and the brick bit into her flesh. She bit her lip and ignored it, stopping only when Harv drawled a dry, “you’re bleeding on my carpet,” from above her.

Mack cursed in frustration as she surveyed her handiwork and the inch or so left to cut through. She’d been so close!

Harv said nothing else, merely turning the chair around and dragging her back to her original starting position. “What happened to using your brain,” Harv scoffed.

Oh for fuck’s sake, Harvey exclaimed in frustration, just show her how to do it. It’s hardly her fault she doesn’t know how to get out of her restraints.

He stared at her for a long moment, before grudgingly acknowledging the point. “Watch,” he growled before swiftly duct taping one of his hands to his own chair. Then with a quick tug with his teeth he’d dropped the nearby scalpel onto the floor. Within seconds he’d tipped his chair over, grabbed and reversed the blade with his hand, and then managed to work a sizable cut into the tape. Several tugs later he’d freed his hand, and it had taken him less than two minutes.

Harv removed and re-taped her wrist before then resetting the scalpel on the table. Then he folded his arms and waited. Mack gaped at him before exclaiming an offended, “How the hell was I supposed to know how to do that?! You told me to use friction to get them off!”

“Not because it was the only way to do it,” he sneered at the sheer idiocy being demonstrated in front of him. “What the fuck did you think I put them there for?”

The fact that she thought he’d put them there for nefarious purposes did not need to be verbalized. “Well, excuse me for not instantly acing your impromptu criminal crash course,” she responded furiously.

Judging by his quickly darkening facial expression, his patience was running thin. Mack sent him a dirty look of her own for putting her into this situation in the first place, and then capitulated, issuing several choice expletives. It took her five times as long as it had taken him, and by the time she was done rivulets of blood were dripping from her wrist. Once she’d freed one wrist the rest was easy and if she chucked the fucking scalpel at him afterwards, well, it was justified, wasn’t it?

He easily side stepped the projectile and then quirked an eyebrow, “you’re gonna wish you hadn’t done that.”

Mack straighten, refusing to be cowed by what she had thought was a promise of revenge on his part. She stared at him in disbelief as he ordered her back to the chair with a harsh, “do it again.”

“What?!”

“You’re too slow,” he criticized, “and you need to be able to do it with both hands and multiple tools.”

“Oh, hell no,” she protested, “I am bloody well bleeding.”

“And if this were real you’d probably have several broken fingers by now. Especially the way you run your fucking mouth. A word of advice, Princess,” Harv said, giving her a not so gentle shove back into the chair. “Don’t antagonize the men holding you captive. They won’t be as amused as I am.”

The look she sent him was an eerie copy of his own glare, and she clenched her teeth as he once again taped her to the chair. “I suppose I’m not getting my scalpel back,” she grated out.

“Not a chance in hell,” he told her flatly.

By the time he allowed her to stop, Mack had managed to free herself five different times, with different hands. Harv was still not pleased with her poor time, which remained just under ten minutes, but he finally gave up when the blood running down her wrists made the blades to slippery for her to hold without risking an arterial cut.

Harv dumped medical supplies on the table, directing her gruffly to the kitchen sink to wash her arms. He met her there with a roll of gauze and Mack sent him a dirty look. “I hope you don’t expect me to go out in public with you like this. People are going to think I tried to off myself.”

The corner of his mouth quirked up before adding a humorless, “wouldn’t be the first time.”

“Jesus, Harv,” she breathed.

“Not with me,” he clarified with an offended sneer. “Some men aren’t as considerate as I am.”

Mack was very tempted to contradict his last statement, but decided that now might be a good time to practice being more respectful. In response, she merely nodded, priding herself on her restraint. After all, she still needed him to bandage her dominant hand.

He watched her with narrowed eyes, not believing her submissive act for a second. It might have been convincing to someone else, but he knew her far too well to fall for it.

“You disagree,” he murmured, his dark look a complete contradiction to his tone of voice.

“I would never,” she murmured back softly, adopting the neutral expression Roxy had taught her.

His hand tightened on her wrist as he yanked her closer to him, “don’t do that,” he ground out. “Don’t lie to my fucking face when you’re alone with me.”

“Does that mean I can lie to you when we’re not alone,” she drawled.

“Sure, Mack,” he groused. “If that’s what keeps me from having to knock you into the nearest wall.”

“Ahh…” she responded before sending him a feral grin, “you really are thoughtful, aren’t you?”

“My generosity is astounding,” he muttered snidely. He reached for her other wrist and quickly duplicated his work before wrapping his hands around both of her bandages. Harv tightened his hands over her wounds, applying pressure until he was sure the bleeding had stopped.

“Hide it with diamonds if your vanity matters so much to you,” he told her before releasing her.

“Harv,” she called after him, waiting until he’d turned back to her with a huff. “Thanks,”

she nodded at the living room and the mess that remained. “I think…” Mack added a few seconds later.

He snorted in response before disappearing back down the hallway to his office.

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After deciding that her vanity was in fact important her, Mack made a quick phone call to Roxy to arrange another large cuff to decorate her other wrist. Besides, knowing Harv this wouldn’t be the first time she’d need it. Checking the time, she realized that if she hurried she could make it to her bar before midnight. Mack could check in on her newest employee and catch up on her bookkeeping as well.

She finished dressing in the bedroom, and then stopped at Harv’s office. Mack knocked softly on the door before peeking in to find him on the phone. He issued an annoyed, “hold on,” into the phone before fixing her with a pointed stare. “I’m going to work,” she announced.

“Fine,” he told her shortly, before adding a curt, “let them in when you leave.” Dismissing her, he returned to his phone call and Mack walked away, unsure of whom it was she was supposed to let in.

Her question was quickly answered when she answered the knock on the door and found Harv’s usual entourage standing in the hallway. Mack stepped aside to allow them to enter the apartment, but was just a little too slow to make a clean get away. From behind her, John and Mark exchanged looks across the blood stained carpet, and then Mark was issuing a short, “Kevin, the door.”

To say that Mack was displeased to find Kevin closing and then leaning a shoulder against the door, effectively making her their captive, was an understatement.

“Mack,” Mark began, “maybe you oughta stop antagonizing the boss so often.” He crossed his arms and frowned at her, “this is getting a little out of hand. Don’t you think?”

She gaped at him, confused at his sudden concern, and then he sent a pointed look at the carpet around them and she understood. “Oh for…” Mack started, clearly exasperated, “it’s not what you think. I don’t actually have a death wish.”

“Then why is part of a portable interrogation kit lying on the table?” John tossed in, taking up a spot to her right, leaning one hip on the kitchen island.

A quick look around the room made it clear that with Brian on her far left, and Kevin right next to her she was very clearly boxed in. “Why does it matter?”

That remark earned her more than a few dirty looks, “Because despite your obviously poor opinion of us, we’re almost fond of you,” Mark explained with a wry smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes.

Mack made a ‘hmph’ noise in response, not entirely buying the bullshit they were trying to sell her. “And…” she prompted.

“And nothing,” John told her. “You’re one of us now,” he paused and then, “aren’t you?”

She was both flabbergasted at this announcement, and slightly overcome with guilt for thinking the worst of them. “Uh… no?” she said, not entirely sure if she was or not. “You have authority. You run his organization. I sleep with him. It’s a little different.”

“Yeah, it is. You actually sleep next to him,” John pointed out, just before Mark’s gruff, “I’m not sure whether I should be concerned or reassured by your ignorance.”

“Concerned,” Brian finally added, all evidence of his usual playful act gone. “If you’re not aware of every weapon in your arsenal, you’re handicapping yourself.”

Brian was unaffected by her glare, “I don’t want an arsenal.”

“Then what was this,” Kevin asked, already suspecting the answer. Years ago, he’d been put through a sort of mob boot camp by his cousin, and he recognized the signs.

Mack sighed, realizing that she wasn’t going to get out of an explanation. “I told Harv that making me an asset might be a better plan than trying to minimize the risk I represent to him.”

Around her the four of them exchanged looks, not sure why they were surprised by anything she did at this point. “His teaching methods were,” Mack grimaced, “unorthodox to say the least.”

“He called it escape and evasion,” she continued with a tight smile. “And I let him tie me to a goddamn chair,” Mack ground out harshly, ignoring the mix of shocked and impressed sounds coming from the men around her. “Because apparently knowing how to escape restraints is a priority lesson. Especially since he made me do it five fucking times.”

Mack scowled, “apparently my aim sucks,” she finished with a gesture towards her wrists.

“You willingly let him tie you to a chair,” Mark clarified, waiting for her affirmation before continuing. “And in return he taught you how to escape said restraints.”

“Yes,” she agreed flatly, “and that was after the disturbing crash course on how to escape a head lock.”

The look John sent Mark could almost be called concerned. “That’s a first,” he said softly.

Mark jerked his head, and the four of them huddled together. Though if the pointed look Kevin sent her before joining them was any indication, she wasn’t going to be leaving yet. Their voices were too soft to catch more than the occasional word, but what she did hear didn’t instill her with confidence.

“I don’t think he’s ever actually liked one of them before, let alone invested time in any of them,” Kevin hissed.

“He hasn’t,” John told him flatly. “This is a security nightmare. People are going to realize that she’s different. Hell, it looks to me like he’s already planning for it.”

“We can’t double her security,” Kevin countered. “We’d be daring people to try and kidnap her.”

“Which is probably why he decided to go right to the source of the problem, and try to correct it there. Which,” Mark admitted with a growl, “is what we’re going to have to do.”

“You’re serious,” Brian asked him incredulously. “You want to turn her into an ‘asset?!” Brian questioned, using her own word.

“No,” he corrected, “and she doesn’t really want to be one either- not the way we’d define it. What she wants is to not be a weakness. That,” he clarified, “we can correct.”

Dismissing them with a sharp nod, Mark looked to Mack and fixed her with a steely gaze. “What I’m about to say does not leave this room, unless it’s to the boss himself.”

Mack considered this, then nodded reluctantly. “You will meet with me three days a week for at least an hour, and I will teach you how to not be a liability. Your bodyguards will be given an address and nothing else. You will insure that no one outside of the six of us ever know what happens during those hours.”

“Really,” she said skeptically, completely unprepared for this offer. “Are you gonna be nicer to me that he was?” Mack nodded towards the hallway assuming that Harv was still in his office only to find that he had joined them sometime in the last few minutes.

“No,” Mark denied with a sharp grin. “I’m not trying to make sure you still want to sleep with me afterwards.”

“And why does it matter who knows? Is it really that odd?”

Mark sighed, “do you always ask this many questions?”

“Yes,” Harv growled, striding towards them. “I thought you were going to work,” he said, looking deliberately at the door.

“Well I was, but I was suddenly waylaid by this criminal element,” she said archly, waving a hand at his employees.

He looked at them, and then nodded at Mark. “Her killer instinct is seriously lacking, but,” Harv looked her over with a critical eye, “she absorbs damage like a pro.” His gaze turned hard as he added an unforgiving, “don’t hold back.”

Mark raised an eyebrow in surprise, but shrugged in acquiescence. “Whatever you want, boss.” Turning to Mack, he told her when and where, and the five men watched as she beat a hasty retreat before they found something else to dump on her.

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Bruce Wayne sat in front of the massive computer adorning one wall of the Batcave, staring intently at the screen in front of him. He’d pulled up a large map of Gotham City, and was systematically discarding possible targets for Black Mask to exploit. Black Mask could be guaranteed to move against Two-Face; if Bruce could just discern where the most likely attacks would happen, then he would know where to focus his attention.

He heard footsteps on the stairs above, and listened carefully for a moment. Recognizing the sound of Alfred’s evenly paced gait and the nimble steps of his eldest son, he dismissed the distraction, returning to the problem at hand.

“Dinner, Master Bruce,” Alfred offered, sitting a burnished tray next to him on the desk.

“Later, Alfred,” Bruce said, offering him the same empty promise he’d been making for years.

“Yeah, Alfred,” Dick replied, voice partially muffled by the bite of sandwich he was trying to talk around. “Can’t you see you’re interrupting valuable brooding time?”

Bruce refused to acknowledge the comment from the dark haired man now leaning on the back of his chair.

“Master Dick, while I can only speculate as to the numerous bad habits you have picked up from Master Bruce,” Alfred gave his oldest charge a sly look from the corner of his eye. “speaking with one’s mouth full did not need to be one of them.”

“Nor,” Alfred continued before Bruce could respond, “did working yourself into an early grave. Surely Master Bruce,” Alfred challenged with a glint in his eye, “you would not do your impressionable young ward a disservice by setting such a poor example?”

“Impressionable!” Dick squawked.

“Disservice,” came the growl from Bruce.

Alfred merely slid the tray of sandwiches towards a glowering Bruce, immune to the scowls being sent his way.

There was a short battle of wills, before Bruce capitulated, grabbing a sandwich from the nearby tray. “Don’t the two of you have work to do,” Bruce suggested, his expression making it clear that it was more order than suggestion.

Alfred and Dick shared a conspiratorial look, ignoring Bruce’s churlish behavior altogether.

“That’s Two-Face territory.” Dick nodded at the map, turning his attention to the screen now that his requisite teasing of Bruce had been fulfilled. “Are you looking for him, or for the next likely target?”

“Both,” Bruce clarified. “I expect Black Mask to retaliate by Sunday, at the latest.”

“Which gives us roughly forty-eight hours to stop them both,” Dick grimaced. “Oh well, who needs sleep anyway?” he added flippantly.

Alfred’s raised brow was more than enough to make his feelings on the matter known. “Shall I fold out the cots, Master Bruce,” he drawled.

“No need Alfred.” Bruce pulled his cowl back on and headed towards the Batmobile, not needing to see Alfred’s face to know there was a disapproving frown decorating it. “Go back to Bludhaven,” he ordered Dick. “Get me something I can use.”

“If that’s your idea of asking for help you suck at it,” Dick yelled over the roar of the Batmobile’s engine. Bruce sent him a flat stare in response before the vehicle exited the Batcave, but the gruff, “watch yourself,” that later echoed through Nightwing’s communicator was thanks enough.

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When Mack finally entered the back door of her bar, she could have cried from the feeling of home that it brought. She could already hear the raucous laughter of Jerome and his friends just above the rock and roll playing on the jukebox. Approaching the edge of the bar, she stopped to appreciate the familiar site of Andy and Ty playing a game of pool, and the groupies clustered around Jerome’s still handsome self. Even Carl sitting along the far wall was such a welcome site that she wanted to give the man a hug. But it was Jerome who noticed her first.

“Well, look who finally came home,” he called with a grin.

Mack couldn’t help the answering grin crossing her face as she headed towards them. “Gotta say, I’m a little disappointed Jerome. I half expected the place to be in pieces by the time I got back.”

He grabbed his chest dramatically, “I’m crushed that you don’t have more faith in us.”

She laughed, and when she told him, “I knew I missed you for a reason,” she meant it.

Andy called her name, and she was thrilled to see that his wife Marge was with him tonight. With a polite nod to Jerome, she headed towards the pool table to exchange hugs with Andy, his wife, and Ty.

“Honey,” Marge drawled, “we’re so glad to see you! We were starting to worry.” Marge sent her a concerned but stern look, eyes darting behind her to where Troy and Jason had taken up nearby positions.

Mack sighed, and for once let herself look as tired as she felt. “Yeah, it’s been a long few days,” she admitted.

“Wanna talk about it,” Marge offered, waving Andy and Ty away. The two men shrugged and went back to their game, leaving the women to gossip amongst themselves. Besides Marge would tell Andy, and then Andy would tell Ty, so really it just saved them the trouble of digging up the dirt themselves.

“Can you talk about it?” Marge clarified, seeing Mack’s hesitation.

“Not all of it,” she admitted. “But it’d be nice to talk to someone who isn’t directly employed by my…” Mack trailed off. She wasn’t sure what she could call her relationship that wouldn’t reveal too much, but wouldn’t make her look like the whore either.

“Lover,” she settled on, with a wry smile.

“Ohhh…” cooed, a sultry voice on her left. “Lover, huh?” Peggy elbowed her lightly as her and Barb each gave her a light squeeze hello.

Mack couldn’t help it, she blushed and smirked at the same time. “Wow. That good, huh?!” Barb interpreted.

“I wouldn’t kick him out of bed for eating crackers,” Mack drawled, smirk turning into a wicked grin.

Around her the three women whooped and hollered, following her as they made their way to sit at the bar. Julie eyed the four of them before offering a smile and an amused, “hey boss. Want a beer?”

“Actually,” Mack corrected, “just bring me a bowl of limes and a bottle of tequila. It’s been a week,” she explained with a brittle smile.

There were a few raised eyebrows at that statement, particularly when she skipped the shot glass and just drank from the bottle. “So,” she asked Juile, after a long swig. “How are you doing? Anything I can help with?”

“Nothing that won’t keep,” she assured her, sharing a glance with Marge. “Why don’t you catch up with the girls?”

“Yeah, Mack,” Peggy prodded, “tell us all about this lover of yours.”

She rolled her eyes at the three of them, but relished the opportunity to talk to her friends. Mack started her tale, editing out the parts that were outright incriminating, and avoided using his name. At this point, everyone in the bar knew who she was sleeping with, anyway.

By the time she was done, she’d realized she’d edited out practically all of her interactions with him. Being unable to admit that she mouthed off to him meant that they received only the cliff notes version of events. Even so they seemed suitably awed by the action-packed days she’d had, and Mack felt lighter for having shared her story with them.

Eventually Mack made her excuses, and headed behind the bar to help Julie with the things she’d been unable to go over with her. The demolished bowl of limes and half empty bottle of tequila were put to the side as Mack threw herself into her work.

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Saturday afternoon dawned earlier than Mack wanted, and she forced herself to get out of bed and stumble into the shower. After she was dressed and caffeinated, she at least felt coherent, and set down to finish paying her bills. She had started to last night but between showing Julie the ropes and the tequila, she hadn’t been able to finish.

Now, in the clear light of day and sobriety, she crunched the numbers and considered the many things John and Roxy had said to her about Harv and Harvey’s money. A big part of her still resisted the idea. She took a lot of pride in her independence, and a part of her felt like she’d be selling out if she took their monetary aid. Hell, her inner feminist cringed just thinking about it. Besides, surely the IRS would notice if she suddenly paid off her bar, but filed a tax return that showed an income that was incapable of doing so.

What was she supposed to do, claim it was an anonymous donation?! Mack snorted at that idea. Maybe if she just continued making her monthly payments with cash advance from the credit care he’d given her, as well as withdrawing all the money from her back account, she could hide the money. Supposedly cash was very hard to trace.

Supposedly… Mack snorted; like she knew anything at all about finance beyond the basics of making money to pay bills, and how to run a simple 401k or IRA account. She was seriously out of her depth here. What she needed was information so she could make an informed choice. Digging around she found her phone, and prayed like hell that Harvey was in charge today.

{Don’t suppose you know how much money I can be gifted before I have to claim it on taxes?} Mack stared at the text for several long moments, then pressed send.

Seconds turned to minutes, and Mack shrugged, taking the lack of response as a sign that she should just forget the whole thing. Really, her inner feminist scoffed, what the hell had she been thinking in the first place?! Then her phone chirped at her, and her inner monologue came to a screeching halt.

{None, unless the donor has given away >5.43million in a lifetime, and then fails to pay the gift tax.}

Mack considered this, and then blinked as her phone chirped again. {I think you’re safe. J}

She stared at the smiley face for a moment before grinning. That was definitely Harvey. {Thanks, you’re the best!}

{I know. Want to have lunch?}

{It’s two in the afternoon.}

{I know. Lunch?}

{As if I could say no to you!}

A few minute later and Larry was leaning around the corner of the kitchen. “Ms. Mackenzie, the car is ready when you are.” Mack frowned slightly as she realized Harvey had told them, and not her, where he was. She made a mental note to address that when she saw him. You’d think by this point she’d have earned a little reciprocal trust.

“Give me a minute,” she told him, heading to her room to finish getting ready for work. She’d have to leave straight from lunch, but it’d be worth a little rushing around if it meant seeing Harvey.

To her surprise, they pulled into the parking lot of her bar twenty minutes later. “Are you sure we’re in the right place?” Mack sent a suspicious look at her guards.

Todd nodded and started to usher her inside as another black car with tinted windows pulled into next to them. She stopped, a wide smile spreading across her face as Harvey climbed out. The fact that he was wearing that blue and gray suit she loved so much and carrying her lunch was really just a bonus. He directed Todd and Larry to wait outside and then pulled her inside the bar with him.

“So what’s in the bag,” she asked him curiously, trying to pry it away from him.

He ignored her, holding the bag out of her reach, “patience is a virtue, Jamie.”

“Not one of mine,” she corrected absently, making a little hop upwards as she reached again. He laughed outright at her ridiculousness, “go get me a beverage, wench.”

“Wench?!” she protested.

“Yeah,” he agreed, “I think beverage wench has a nice ring to it.” He tossed a smirk over one shoulder as he stepped around her to enter his back room. “Coke’s fine,” he told her with a shameless grin.

“That had better be the world’s greatest lunch, Mr. Dent,” she warned him, pointing a not-so-threatening finger at him.

“I’m shaking in my baby seal-leather boots,” he mocked. (Mad props to Megamind)

She blinked and burst out laughing. “And you say I’m ridiculous,” she muttered, before going up front to grab them both something to drink.

Joining him at the table, she looked expectantly at the bag. He finally relented, removing the truly excellent deli sandwiches Roxy had secured for him.

Mack glanced at the turkey and swiss he pushed in front of her, and then stared covetously at his potato salad. Distracted by the task of unpacking lunch, Harvey failed to notice her grabbing his side dish until she’d already stolen a bite.

“Hey,” he protested. “Get your own.”

She made a noise of appreciation as she chewed. “Did you bring me some?”

“No, but I have dessert. And if you think I won’t hold it hostage, you’re delusional.”

“I could be talked into a trade,” she murmured before demanding to see the bribe in question.

He set down the largest piece of chocolate cake she’d ever seen, and she was momentarily mesmerized by the many layers of different chocolates contained within. “You are forgiven, my child,” she told him with fake piety.

Harvey made a ‘hmpfh’ noise before reclaiming his food, and shoving the remaining contents of the bag at her. Mack dug out her potato chips and couldn’t help but feel pleased with herself.

“So, you decided to take my money,” he said innocently, the glint in his eye betraying his need for a little revenge.

Mack paused mid-bite, and sent him a disgruntled look. Using her sandwich as a stall tactic, she took her sweet time eating her bite of food before offering a surly and noncommittal, “maybe.”

His innocent expression threatened to turn into a smirk. “Riigghht,” he drawled in a deliberately disbelieving tone. “Maybe,” he agreed with a conspiratorial wink.

She sputtered at him and then protested loudly, “I’m just collecting information so I can make an informed decision. That’s it!”

“Okay,” he agreed easily. Shrugging his shoulders he turned back to his beverage, knowing full well that it would drive her nuts to think that he didn’t believe her.

“I’m serious!” Mack gestured wildly.

The look he sent her over the top of his glass was downright wicked, and she narrowed her eyes in irritation. “And you,” she accused, “are deliberately trying to wind me up.”

“Trying?” he countered dryly.

“Bite me, Dent,” she said with a scowl.

His wicked look turned feral as he slowly gave her the once-over. “Guess I’d better save room for dessert then.”

She managed to not blush at the heat in his eyes, but it was a close thing. He leaned one elbow on the table, and she couldn’t help but enjoy the way his rolled up sleeves clung to his biceps. Shaking her head, she fixed him with a firm stare, “No,” Mack said, more for her benefit that his. “I refuse to let you and that ridiculously perfect suit distract me,” Mack swore. “At least until you’ve answered my questions,” she amended.

“My suit, huh?” he asked.

“Do not pretend,” Mack ordered, “that you don’t realize how perfect your look in…” she paused trying to pick one particular element and she failed. Instead she finished with a wave of her hand, and a firm, “that.”

“You just gestured to all of me,” he drawled, enjoying the flustered state he’d worked her into. (More props to How To Train Your Dragon)

“I’m aware,” she bit out. “Now tell me about this tax thing. If I use your credit card to pay my bills is the IRS going to come after me? Because I’d really rather not explain where I got the money.”

He quirked an eyebrow, but allowed her abrupt change in conversation with grace. “No, the IRS wouldn’t care as long as they got their taxes from somebody. That somebody being me in that case.” he clarified. “However, you’re not receiving a gift from me. You’re merely transferring you debt from one debtor to another. They have no reason to check to see if it was paid off all at once because it shouldn’t make a difference in your income.”

She nodded, not sure if she was relieved or not. Part of her had hoped that she’d have a good excuse to not take his money. At least then she wouldn’t actually have to choose. Of course, Mack really should have known better. He never would have offered her anything that would risk their exposure.

“I was also curious why you told my bodyguards where you were going, but not me?” Mack asked, forcing her face and voice into a neutral expression. The last thing she wanted was to come off as demanding or needy, but she’d be lying if she said she wasn’t a little upset by the implied lack of trust.

Harvey leaned back to rest against his chair, able to read her hurt feelings in the tense set of her shoulders and slightly too pleasant smile. “Because being caught with that information on you would make it harder to defend against aiding and abetting a felon.”

Mack blinked, having not prepared for that answer, which is the only defense she had for the dazed, “oh,” that she responded with.

“You thought I didn’t trust you,” he supplied for her. He saw her start to speak, and sent her a soft smile. “Kindly remember who you’re talking to before you deny it.”

Mack sighed as she recalled how difficult it was to lie to either of them. She’d ask them what it was that gave her away, but knew that there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that they’d tell her and risk losing an advantage. “I suppose,” she told him ruefully, “that I was hoping that you were just paranoid more than anything, but yes,” she admitted, “part of me assumed you just didn’t trust me.”

“It’s for your safety,” he assured her. “That’s my only reason.” It went unsaid that Harv really was paranoid and wouldn’t have trusted Jesus, even if he’d seen him descend from Heaven personally.

“I suppose,” she sighed, “that I owe you an apology. But,” she drawled, “I don’t like being wrong. Don’t suppose you’ll take a rain check?” she asked hopefully.

“Not a chance in hell,” he told her with a smile that showed a little too much teeth to be entirely friendly.

She frowned, but managed to mutter a quick, “I’m sorry, Harvey.”

“What was that,” he asked cheerfully, “I didn’t quite catch that.”

Mack narrowed her eyes at him, not believing for a second that he didn’t hear her. “Bullshit,” she told him. “Your hearing is excellent.”

He chuckled, not denying her accusation, and allowed the matter to drop. Once their banter was put aside it didn’t take long to finish their lunch, and before long Mack was depositing the evidence of their takeout in the nearest trash can. The dessert she saved, waiting until she had the appropriate amount of time and appetite to savor it.

Mack leaned a hip against the table and looked down at Harvey, who was still occupying the chair in front of her. “Thanks for lunch,” she said with a grateful smile. “You know how much I love to see you.”

“You’re welcome,” he told her with a nod before standing up to loom over her. “But you still owe me dessert,” Harvey told her. He lifted her so that she was sitting on the table, and the heated look he gave her sent her nearly took her breath away. She helped him remove her boots, and then his hands were on her, cupping her breasts as his mouth caressed the side of neck. Mack shivered as his teeth grazed the pulse point at her throat, and reached out to pull him closer.

He gently pushed her hands away, and instead pushed her back until she was lying flat on the table. She blinked in confusion and leaned up on her elbows as he undid her jeans. Together they managed to remove her pants and underwear, Harvey’s fingertips ghosting along her skin as he helped undress her.

He tossed her clothes to the side, and this time when she tried to sit up he leaned over, splayed one hand across her chest, and pushed her back just hard enough to make his point. “I said I wanted dessert, and I’m gonna have it,” he promised her, eyes darkening as he slid her shirt up to reveal her breasts.

Mack gasped as his thumbs brushed against her nipples, and he mouthed a hot trail down her stomach to nip at her hip. He lifted his head, and the wicked look he sent her was enough to steal the breath from her lungs. Then he spoke and she stopped breathing all together. “I’m gonna lick your pretty little cunt until you beg me to stop,” he promised her with a dark look.

She let out a soft whimper, as he continued his slow descent, teasing her with every caress of his mouth and whisper soft touches. Harvey hooked a foot around his chair and pulled it towards him, taking his seat before wrapping his hands around her hips and pulling her towards him. Her hips slid off the table and for a second Mack was convinced she was going to fall, and then he was slipping her thighs over his shoulders.

He bent his mouth to her and licked a slow steady path up her slit, listening to the soft groan he drew from her. Then he flicked his tongue across the nub hidden between her thighs and she cried out, hands reaching for him only to find that he wasn’t going to allow her to touch him. “Hands on the table Jamie,” he ordered, and when she hesitated he added a soft but warning, “or do you want me to stop?”

Mack muttered an unflattering, “bossy bastard,” but judging by the sharp bite she received on her inner thigh she hadn’t been as quiet as she’d thought. “I’m gonna remember you said that,” his grin showcasing the sharp canines he’d just abused her thigh with.

“Now, hands on the table,” he reminded her with a flat stare, waiting until she’d complied before rewarding her with a teasing brush of his tongue. His teasing strokes and nibbles continued until he was sure she would comply, and then the searing heat of his mouth began driving her slowly towards ecstasy.

Mack shuddered beneath his ministrations, every swift brush of his tongue against her reducing her to a quivering mess at his hands. Ever so slowly he slid one finger into her wet pussy, and she broke, desperately crying his name.

If he heard her and her pleas he didn’t let it show. His mouth was a hot brand on her even as he licked and sucked her clit until she was moaning his name in need and desperation. A second finger joined the first, curving upward to rub against her, and she flew apart, his name echoing through the room.

Harvey smirked against her, but never even slowed, tasting her on his lips even as he pushed her inexorably towards orgasm once more. Mack dug her nails into the table underneath her, voice wrecked as she pleaded with him.

He tightened an arm around her as her hips tried to twist away, mouth never leaving the center of her. She gasped desperately for air, unable to do more than squirm beneath his hands. Harvey felt her pussy clench, and sucked on her clit listening to her voice edge up an octave as she came for a second time.

Her wetness dripped down his hand and he relished the desperation in her voice as she begged for mercy. He refused her request, his mouth and fingers continuing their assault as she trembled underneath him. Her hips jerked underneath him and he held her in place, tonguing the center of her as her nails scratched out a desperate rhythm against the wooden table. She cried out sharply, back arching off the table as his tongue stabbed at her clit, once, twice, unable to move away from the vice like grip he had on her. It was too much, too intense, and she sobbed desperately for him, begging him to stop even as she begged him for more.

Her legs tensed around him and he groaned against her as she froze, white heat flooding her as she came with a ragged shout. He finally granted her relief, rubbing the sides of his face against her thighs before licking the taste of her from his fingers. Harvey stood up, the hardness between his legs straining against his trousers even as he leaned over leaving a trail of soft kisses down her neck.

He brushed his mouth gently across hers, and she realized for the first time just how much more emotionally invested she was in him. She hadn’t felt anything like this with Harv. Touching Harv was like being consumed by an inferno. He was heat, danger, and intensity personified, but Harvey was slowly drowning her. Everywhere she turned he was there, pulling her under and stealing the breath from her lungs. How she’d ever thought Harvey was the safe one she would never know. She craved him- needed him, and knew then that Harvey could destroy her with only a few words. Harv didn’t have the kind of power he needed to truly her hurt, not like Harvey did, and it was dizzying to realize that Harvey had been the real threat to her all along.

He was just close enough to catch the whispered realization that crossed her lips, “you’re dangerous.”

“I know,” he admitted softly, watching the fear and affection wash over her face, “but no more dangerous than you are.” Mack’s eyes widened at his admission, but their words were quickly forgotten as he freed his cock from his pants and slowly slid inside her.

She gasped at the intrusion, and he took care not to move to soon against her over stimulated skin. Mack refused to let him wait, reaching out to wrap her hands around the straps of his gun holster before murmuring an encouraging, “more.” Harvey rewarded her with a rough thrust of his hips, setting a slow and sensual pace that once more rocked her towards ecstasy. “Look at me,” he ordered roughly, waiting until her eyes were on him before lifting her hips, the new angle letting him thrust deeper into her. She sobbed his name, unable to look away from the intensity in his eyes.

Her cries filled the room, and he held her there, every thrust a burst of heat that had her voice edging up an octave. There was the scream he was looking for. The leather under her hands creaked as she clutched at him, her head thrown back as she breathed a litany of, “Don’t stop… don’t ever stop.”

He felt her pussy clench, and he gritted his teeth, his own release not far off. She convulsed around him once more and he swore, trying not to think about the hot, wet sheath around his dick. He failed miserably, his hips slamming into hers even as his hands gripped her hard enough to leave bruises. “Jamie,” he gasped desperately, fighting not to finish before the woman beneath him.

Mack shuddered underneath him, her legs tightening around his hips as she came hard and fast, crying his name. Harvey threw his head back, groaning at the flood of wetness around him. He thrusts faltered as he approached his own end, and when she whispered her own demand for him to cum he couldn’t resist, finishing inside her with a rough thrust.

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Mack’s good mood lasted most of the night, mostly due to Harv’s lunch time visit, but it was also nice to be back at work. It was almost enough to help her forget the madness that had recently become her life. Those feelings lasted right up until she was once again caught between two mob bosses. As the eleventh hour approached on Saturday night, Mack was pleased to see that Julie was handling the increased volume of customer with remarkable skill, and judging by her cropped shirt and full tip jar, no small amount of charm. Alcohol was flowing freely, and thanks to the presence of her bodyguards, it looked like it was going to be a bar fight free evening. Mack hated to admit it, but Harv’s influence was proving to beneficial even in her everyday life.

As she was about to be reminded, however, his presence in her life also came with several downsides. A firm, “Ms. Mackenzie,” could just be heard above the din, and Mack blinked in surprise. Her bodyguards rarely, if ever, interacted directly with her, and now Jason was stepping behind the bar to stand next to her. She scanned the room and quickly found Troy, hands on his guns and his back to the wall opposite her and Jason.

“What’s going on?” Mack asked, staring down at the nine millimeter Jason had already pulled loose from his holster.

“We have company,” Jason nodded at a dark haired man claiming a nearby seat at the bar. “He’s one of Schultz’s,” he added tersely.

She narrowed her eyes at this announcement disliking him on principal alone. Despite the fact that the Schultz directly responsible for her attempted murder was dead, it was hard not to hold a grudge against his family. After all, Leon had made her suffering his gain, and she sincerely doubted he regretted any of the incidents that lead to his recent promotion.

“I see,” Mack stared at the man, considering her options. It was possibly he was here to try and harm her, but given the tenuous position of his family she thought that unlikely. Besides, she reasoned, if he’d been one of Nick’s remaining men she was positive that Troy and Jason would never have let him get this far.

“Who is he?” Mack demanded, face morphing into a cold but haughty expression that she’d learned from Roxy. She might not be dressed for the part, but that didn’t mean she felt comfortable being herself in front of someone from another family.

“I don’t know his name,” Jason admitted. “But I’ve seen him around. High enough up the food chain to be useful, but not so much that he’s all that memorable. Middle management,” he concluded, “and perfectly forgettable.”

“Deliberately so, I think,” she mused before deciding that the best option was to simply go and see what he wanted. Mack caught Julie’s eye and then nodded towards their newest patron, waiting until he’d been served before approaching.

Mack lifted one eyebrow expectantly before offering a cool, “Can I help you?”

The man sent her a small half smile, the motion highlighting the laugh lines and wrinkles on his face helping her judge his age. She’d estimate approximately fifty years old, maybe a little less. “I have a message from my boss to yours,” he murmured, smile never leaving his face.

“No,” she denied, face blank. “If Leon wants to speak with Harv so goddamn badly he can pick up the phone like everyone else.”

Dropping Leon’s name was probably not the wisest decision, particularly after Roxy’s impromptu mob etiquette course on Friday. Mack also couldn’t bring herself to give a shit. She really wasn’t a big fan of Schultz and his family.

Leon’s man stared at her intently, surprised by the casual mention of his boss. “Mr. Schultz doesn’t want this broadcasted all over town. That’s why he sent me to meet you here. We’d appreciate some discretion in this matter given the current climate in Gotham right now.”

“Trust me,” he continued, “you want to know what I have to tell you.”

“Then tell one of them,” Mack waved a hand at Troy and Jason. “I’m sure they wouldn’t mind carrying a message for Harv.

“My instruction was very clear,” he replied with a shrug, “but if you’re not interested, then I’ll let the boss know that you not interested in what we have to tell you.”

Draining the glass in front of him in three large swallows, he sat the glass down at the table and then stood up.

Mack swore, and then called him back. Goddamn Harv and his fucking mob buddies, she fumed. She didn’t want to pass information between the two of them, but she couldn’t in good conscience refuse to pass on something that he might need to know. What if it turned out to be truly important?

“Fine,” she nodded curtly. “Tell me.”

“You sure,” he eyed her with new interest, surprised by her initial refusal. Most people would have been thrilled to be in this position. She was about to pass on a piece information that would make her boss very happy with her. Even if it didn’t, it still highlighted her usefulness to him even if all she ever did was pass on misinformation from her boss to his. Why was the woman in front of him passing by an opportunity to grow her own influence with her mob boss? Unless, he mused, she either didn’t want it or more likely, she already had it.

“Did I stutter?” Mack sent him an icy smile, practically daring to refuse her.

After a moment he nodded, and then, “tell your boss that there’s about to be a shortage of snow in this city.”

Mack blinked, completely confused by that message, and trying like hell not to show it. “And your name,” she asked, pleased that she managed to keep her façade in place.

“John Doe,” he told her with a wink.

“Really,” she drawled, her mistress mask starting to falter. “That was the best you could come up with?”

He couldn’t help it, he smirked. “Call me Don,” he told her before tossing a twenty on the bar. “Real nice place you got here,” he added with a grin.

“Wow,” she shot back, practically oozing sarcasm. “Never heard that one before.” Behind her, John nudged her, trying to psychically warn her off being too familiar.

Don started to respond, enjoying the banter when she leaned both hands on the bar. “Don,” she told him with a put upon expression, “get out of my bar.”

“Yes ma’am,” he told her with mock seriousness before exiting the front door.

Mack frowned after him, and then turned towards Troy who was hovering nearby. “Did that message make sense to you, at all?”

Judging by the pinched look on his face, it had. He nodded shortly, and then reached for his phone. “I’ll open a secure line to Mr. Dent for you.”

“Why don’t you just tell him yourself, and cut out the middleman?” Mack shrugged, more than ready to be done with this entire scenario.

“Because,” Jason explained, “you’re not the middleman, I am.” He turned his full attention back to the phone at his ear as he heard it connect.

“What’s wrong,” Mark scowled at the phone, turning away from the map he’d been studying. In his experience receiving a phone call from Mack’s bodyguards was never a good sign.

“Mrs. Mackenzie had a visitor from the Schultz family. She needs to speak with the Boss.”

Mark blinked, and then, “can you repeat that,” he asked slowly, unable to hide his shock from the men around him.

Jason complied, and in the background heard Mark relay what he’d been told to Harv. Around the conference table Harv’s employees stared at Mark, sharing in his surprise as Mark handed his boss the phone.

“Put her on,” he ordered tersely.

Mack took the phone from her bodyguard, and then, “Harv?”

“Tell me,” Harv snarled into the speaker. He might not have been showing it, but he was as surprised as the men around him. He hadn’t anticipated this scenario, and in his line of work, surprises could be deadly.

She repeated the message verbatim, and then he demanded a full accounting of every word and gesture she recalled from the short exchange. Mack complied, finding his interrogation mildly frustrating but unsurprising.

“Care to tell me what the hell that actually means,” she asked, once he was does questioning her.

“No,” Harv responded bluntly before demanding that she return the phone to her bodyguards.

The ensuing conversation between Jason and Harv was decidedly one sided. Mack openly eavesdropped, but could only hear Jason’s short, one syllable answers. The conversation ended shortly thereafter, and when he was finished Jason simply gave her a respectful nod, and then he and Troy took up their previous position. She watched the two of return to their duties, acting as though nothing had happened, and she couldn’t help the disbelieving, “what the fuck,” that crossed her lips. No answer appeared to be forthcoming, and she was forced to do as they did and simply continue on with her night.

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