The ocean was suffocating Harley. It was more unbearable than having a pillow forced over her face, and she knew exactly how that felt. Every attempt to move her limbs and swim sent pain through her panicked muscles. Drowning was a slow death, but she suspected her suffering would be cut short on account of her terrified heart beating faster than it was ever supposed to beat. Her bursting fear alone could kill her.
The woman screamed in silence when her flowing hair was captured and yanked up. She felt the crisp night air welcoming her face back to the surface as she convulsed a gallon of liquid from her throat. The waverunner was slippery and provided little to grip on as it painfully bumped against her back. With another yank, Joker pulled her on board and jumped his hand's iron grip to her bicep. She reached up and latched onto his shirt to pull herself on the seat, wincing at the stinging in her scalp and the fire in her drenched lungs. He let her go once she was on board, placing his grip back on the clutch. With an impatient roar and a lurch, the machine surged ahead, dislodging her frail footing. Weakly, she held on and eventually positioned herself to sit behind him, subconsciously tightening her arms around his middle as she vomited out the last of the ocean water. She winced at the deafening sirens and motors crescendoing behind them.
Afraid to see exactly how many cops were chasing them, she squeezed her eyes shut and buried her face in his cold wet back, focusing on breathing again. "I'm so sorry..." She whispered after coughing harshly, shaking with the piercing cold air. Joker didn't hear her through the rumbling of the engine and the breaking of the waves, being too concerned with ditching their party crashers. Harley slowly felt warmth coming back to her through his adjacent body. "I'm so sorry." She repeated with pain in her heart, knowing he risked everything to pull her out of the water. He would have likely escaped if he left her in the ocean, but now... She peeked behind them, squinting through the intense bright lights of the vehicles. The blinding white headlights, the flashing red and blue LEDs lining the edges of the machines, the wailing alarms emitting from their dashboards... The cops were even closer than she'd hoped, keeping pace expertly.
The intense beating of Joker's heart subsided as he acknowledged the strength of Harley's grip around him. Stupid girl was going to get them both killed. Searching for a reason to release his anger and bellow out a scolding at her, he reluctantly came to the conclusion that nothing was her fault. He was the one who tipped the waverunner and sent her overboard, and he was the one who dragged her into the water in the first place, abandoning her car in Arkham's parking lot. Nonetheless, he refused to possess the emotion of guilt. "If we tip again, hang onto me!! Alright!?" He snarled, turning his head to his shoulder.
Her only response was a small tightening of her terrified grip and a whimper holding back a sob. Hello guilt. Make yourself at home.
Joker could see the officer's vehicles in the rear view mirrors attached to the handlebars. Hardening his emotions into determination, he swung the waverunner to the left and gassed it hard, sending the watercraft flying over a wave. The cops attempted the same maneuver in pursuit, but because of Joker's element of surprise they lost distance and fatally had to reduce their speed after swerving behind the psychopath. In the split second that their headlights weren't blinding his backwards glance, Joker could look back and see exactly how many men were on his tail. "Six." He muttered, focusing once again on the treacherous 'road' ahead of him. Harley sent a silent prayer into his spine for their waverunner to stay afloat.
Joker knew he could lose them. That is, if he had sufficient time and fuel, which he knew he didn't. His half empty fuel gauge posed a looming threat which limited the time Joker had to lose the cops. He couldn't outrun them by outlasting their fuel supply, but perhaps he could outfox them by executing more sharp turns like the one he just did. The chances of the cops tipping over their waverunners were pretty high.
Testing that theory, he jerked the handlebars right, swerving back in the direction he just abandoned, which sent the cops in a frenzied pivot behind him. Correcting his turn, he glanced back to see one of them tip with the shove of a wave, an exact duplication of how he himself tipped earlier. He laughed and maintained a steady pace, aware of the precarious balance of his own machine. Maybe executing these turns in an attempt to shake them was too risky. He did not want to tip his own watercraft again, especially not with Harley in the fragile state she was in. The roaring of the engines and the splashing of the waves around him helped his mind focus without distraction.
He stayed on a straight course, watching the shoreline of Gotham to his left. No. He wasn't escaping tonight. There was no possible way to lose all five of the cops before his fuel ran out, and if he turned back to shore now, while on the radar of every cop in town, they'd be on him in an instant.No, there wasn't a way to escape them tonight. That goal was dashed. Next goal on the list? Keeping Harley calm and above the water. He could do that.
Even though he'd inwardly given up on escaping, he still didn't stop running. Why? Because it was fun. Arkham was so boring. If he had to go back there tonight, he'd like to go back there later than sooner. With a rumble, he carefully altered the waverunner's course again, heading even further east, out to the sea. Harley peeked open one sapphire eye and despairingly watched the city rotate out of their target course. "If we were married, this would be where I'd declare a divorce." She bitterly muttered under her icy breath.
Joker aimed for the black of the night, leaving the light of the city behind him. He made a beeline for the gaping Atlantic ocean before them, constantly checking his mirrors to see if Gotham was shrinking any faster. The cops stayed on his tail, but he knew they were hesitant. He smirked, identifying their exact thoughts. What is that crazy clown thinking? Where could he possibly be going? Europe? Impossible! He'll run out of fuel and be stranded! We all will, if we go any farther. Is that his plan? To maroon us all in the middle of the ocean? I think it is. Let's turn back, this isn't worth catching him.
Joker waited. He watched the cops in his mirrors and kept his course for oblivion. Any second, they'll turn back. They'll chicken out on his threat and give up. He knew they would. Then he would wait, and head back. Maybe then he'd have a chance of escaping, although a lot of swimming would be needed once his waverunner ran dry. Harley wouldn't like that one bit, but there'd be no other option. Joker checked his mirrors again. The cops were still behind him. And if they didn't back off... if they did take his challenge and go all the way with him, as far as it took for them all to break down... then that's that. At all of their expense, he'd still win.
Harley was fully aware of what was going on. She knew precisely how irresistible a challenge was to Joker. She'd seen him do something cocky like this every chance he could. He loved it. He was the most obsessive daredevil she'd ever known. If the police didn't back off, he'd continue out into the ocean. He'd push the watercraft to its limit. They'd never make it back home. Perhaps the cops would radio in a helicopter, or a boat. But why would they have the inclination to rescue the clowns? They'd most likely leave them out there to die. And they would. They'd eventually die of hyperthermia, or starvation. Harley sighed and bit her lip in frustration. All of this was obvious to Joker as well. The only difference between their thinking was that Joker didn't care about the consequences if his challenge was accepted. Harley did.
She knew her mate was taking this game of cat and mouse way too far. When his mind was set, it was set in stone. Fortunately, sometimes Harley held a chisel. "Joker," She tightened her grip on his chest to stretch up and call in his ear. "Joker, stop. Stop this."
He ignored her until she dug her fingernails in his armpits. Laughing and squirming slightly, he answered her, focusing on keeping his speed at a maximum. "Why?"
"Because I want to go home." She declared in a neutral voice, one that could be taken as a sort of pleading even though she held no meekness in her heart anymore. She kept her arms around him as a false sign that she was still under his "protective" influence, still in need of him, still afraid of the water. Truthfully, she wasn't. Not anymore. He scoffed, "Well, you can hold your horses. I'm busy at the moment." He checked his mirrors again, continuing to ride the waves with determination. Those cops were persistent little buggers.
"Stop the boat." She let assertiveness leak out of her voice. "Waverunner..." He muttered in correction, still believing she was in a state of blubbering desperation. But Harley's head was clear, her anger abolished her previous anxiety, and her words no longer suggested, they threatened. She allowed him to see that now by snarling his true name followed by another order to stop.
The waverunner jerked as its speed decreased. The diminishing of the engine only happened for a second, then it resumed on its charging course. With a death glare, Joker revived fear back to her face. But, like his brief submission to her order, she didn't let his fear-inducing glare possess her for long. Pulsing a steady hatred right back into his obsidian eyes, she stood her ground.
He returned his attention back on their course with an escalating laugh of bitterness. She was taking advantage of her knowledge of his true name. Not acceptable. "You think you can whip that out there any time it suits ya, Harleen?"
"I didn't say your name because I was scared and wanted my way! I said it to save your life." She insisted, her arms' hold on him almost completely gone. She was strong enough to sit on her own, without clinging to him for support. He muttered a complaining comment on her excuse. She backed up her statement with the fact that, "This isn't going to end with us being safe and warm at home, J! You're heading out to sea! Twice as far as the distance I couldn't stand earlier! You don't have a goal for how this is going to end! I know you don't! You're just blindly pushing a dare to the cops!!!"
"Ya don't like it, then hire another driver, cupcake!!!" He roared in response, squeezing the gas clutch as much as he could in defiance. Harley took herself away from him completely, rising from her seat and maintaining her balance on the monstrous machine. "I'll just jump off then."
"Yeah right." Joker laughed, grinning back at her. They were going almost eighty miles per hour. The water was as hard as concrete at this speed. If the impact didn't kill her, the cold would. This was the worst bluff she'd ever bluffed. "Go on! Do it!" With tears of laughter soaking his vision, he focused back on the invisible horizon ahead.
"You promised me that you wouldn't let me drown." She reminded him sadly, facing out to the water as she kept her knees bent to balance with the bucking of the machine, lightly holding onto the back of the seat.
"There are other ways to die at sea, Harl. Hypothermia. Being a shark's entree. Getting hit by another watercraft." He pointed out, still grinning with anger as he took another glance in the right rear-view mirror which Harley wasn't blocking. Cops were still chasing them, sirens and flashing lights and all. "I never promised you protection from those."
In a split second, he felt the waverunner bounce slightly. The movement wasn't stimulated by a wave. The watercraft was lighter, he could feel it. Whipping his arm back, he grabbed a fistful of her shirt around her stomach. She giggled as he glanced back at her in bewilderment. She had jumped in place, not overboard.
Harley smirked and cautiously leaned her weight toward the edge daringly. He pulled her steady with equally slow force. Glaring at her teasing grin, he released the clutch with his other hand. She dropped back on the seat behind him, caressing his clenched arm as he kept hold of her shirt. "Change of mind, sweetie?" She gloated as their speed decreased dramatically. He caustically didn't reply.
The cops dismissed their sirens and circled them as their own speed slowed, obviously surprised and suspicious of the clown's surrender. Joker watched them with annoyance. Harley forced him to repudiate his own challenge. How humiliating. He could feel a small portion of his ego rotting away with embarrassment. His acidic feelings of resentment toward Harley were slowly washed away as the cops' waverunners sent circles of low waves rippling around them.
"...I do have a goal, Harl." Joker muttered as he let his tired arms rest from the handlebars, massaging his sore legs with his tensed up fingers while ignoring the cops' microphones ordering them to put their hands up. He sighed as he reconciled with his real feelings toward her. "To keep you out of the water."
That was a sweet enough statement for Harley to forgive him for everything tonight. She didn't fail to notice that it was a goal, not a promise, but it was still mighty sweet. She hugged him affectionately, capturing him despite his growl and resisting duck. "I'm sorry to fight with you. But you know everything I do is for your own good." She reminded him with gently closed eyes. "When I break out of Arkham myself next week, I'm leaving you behind." He arranged spitefully, squinting through the flashing lights surrounding them.
"HEY!!!" A black officer erupted, killing his motor's engine and raising a gun to the air before firing it off with a loud bang. "HANDS IN THE AIR!!! NOW!!"
Harley's heart leapt in her throat as she tightened her arms around J. Joker smirked as the sharp sound sent adrenaline through his heart. "Do as he says, Harl..." He grinned, lifting his arms slowly in careful mockery. Harley was reluctant. Even though her hands were nothing but bone and flesh, she felt as if they were the best armor J could ever wear. As the last engine died down, she slowly lifted her hands from his chest, ready to snatch him again if a gun happened to lock into aim.
"Problem, gentlemen?" Joker bellowed above the rustle of the waves with a laugh. "Nice night for a ride!"
The cops' response was awkward silence. They had no clue what to do with the clowns, now that they had them surrounded. Joker's spirits were lifted by their dilemma. "If you're arresting us for DUI, I hope you have a plank for us to walk on for a balance test!" He snorted as Harley giggled.
"Shut up!" There it was, the gun pointed at him. Harley clasped her arms around him and squeaked in fear as she morphed into a bullet-proof vest. Honestly suspecting she was intoxicated somehow, and having almost no doubt after watching her try to jump off the waverunner a few minutes ago, the cops ignored her.
"Remove your keys and toss them over!" The black cop ordered. His tight fitting life jacket held no name tag or badge of rank, but he was obviously the squad captain. Joker cocked his head as Harley stayed wrapped around him like a boa constrictor. "You gonna haul us back to Arkham with a tow-boat or something?" He asked, tolerating Harley's childish protection only because she radiated a little heat to warm his soaked body.
The captain did indeed have a tow cable with him. "We'd be stupid to allow you to turn on your engine again!!" The officer kept his handlebars in one hand's grip, keeping his waverunner not too close, but not too far from the clowns. With Joker letting his waverunner float where the waves wanted him to float, the cops had to be on their toes about their distance around him. "Toss the keys!!"
Joker bit his lip in annoyance. He really didn't want to listen to this guy. Harley, seeing that her purpose as armor wasn't needed at the moment, served another purpose to Joker. "Please just don't shoot him!!" She acted out a frantic sob, adjusting her hug and embracing him so his arms were pinned to his sides.
"Bitch get off him!" Another cop complained. Joker smirked at Harl's assistance. "Looks like I can't toss you the keys, officer." Their waverunners slowly rotated with the gentle brushings of the waves, drifting to face eachother a good few yards apart.
The squad captain wasn't amused. With another bang, he fired his gun and shattered Joker's left rear-view mirror, missing the clowns by inches. Harley jumped as she glanced back at him in fear. Time to stop teasing the ones with the guns. The captain hissed under his breath, straddling his colorfully illuminated waverunner with authority. "You will do as I say, or die! Do you understand!? I am NOT fooling around!"
"Then go ahead and shoot us, tough guy!" Joker chided, pleased at witnessing the man's anger boil over. "NO!!!" Harley screamed, holding out a hand to the officer as she clasped her fingers in J's darkened wet hair as a warning to him. "No, we'll be good, we'll be good, I'm sorry!!"
"Harl," Joker grit his teeth in vexation as she held his head tightly to her shoulder. The officer wasn't moved by her genuine desperation, still aiming the gun. "I was talking to him, not you."
"He'll be good too! Won't you, J?" She barked quickly, turning to him. He glared up at her in protestation. "Please." She whispered, staring at his washed face. "I've been through enough trauma tonight, I don't need to lose you." He shook his head slightly as he gnawed on his scars, still upset at her for making him stop the waverunner. She glanced back at the captain and repeated, "He'll behave. Right, J?"
"Fine. Doesn't mean I'll like it." He muttered, not meeting anyone's gaze. She held his head and kissed his hair in gratitude. Still suspicious, the captain exchanged glances with the rest of his squad, who were just as wary. "Alright. Harleen, you're riding with me."
Joker brought up a glare at the cop as Harley hesitated. The captain clarified, adjusting his handlebars with another push of a wave. "We'll escort him back, but I don't trust you both on the same machine."
"I'm just in your line of fire..." She translated slowly, knowing they simply wanted her off the waverunner, apart from him, out of the way. The cops had no objections to her statement. "Don't you dare hurt him." She half begged, half threatened as her heartbeat sped up with hot rage. The officer was sick of wasting time. "Only if he misbehaves. Now get off and swim over to me." Although his voice was gentler, he was still irked at the clowns' previous disrespectful behavior.
"Put away the gun, and I will." She bargained assertively. The captain rolled his eyes as his irritation arose again. Ignoring him, Harley turned back to Joker, who was doing his best to hide his cold shivering by fidgeting impatiently. "J, listen to me. You're going to behave for them, okay?"
"You're not the boss of me." He chuckled condescendingly with anger in his gaze. She reached past him to take the keys out of the ignition socket and whispered, "Just trust me." He resisted the impulsive urge to snatch his keys back, instead glaring in her eyes. "I'm going to get you home." She promised quietly while brushing his scars with a kiss before turning and dropping the keys in the ocean.
With suspicion at the harlequin's eager cooperation, the squad captain placed his gun in his holster and turned to get the tow cable ready. Joker could recognize when Harley had a plan, and she definitely had one now. The only problem he had with it was that the plan wasn't his own. But if it prevented him from returning to Arkham, which it obviously did, he supposed it was worth cooperating for.
Harley caught the hook of the cable as the captain tossed it over to her and proceeded to clip it onto the back of the stolen waverunner. Joker watched her over his shoulder as she made sure the hook was latched on tight. "Have a nice swim, darling." He muttered as she stared at the black water under them. With half of a glance back at him, she let herself submerge under the icy ocean once again.
Her fears duplicated and filled up the space in her chest where she attempted to reserve air for her lungs. Restraining her panic as best as she could, she kicked through the water and brought her head up to the surface again, comforted to find that she hadn't drifted away from J's waverunner quite yet. Reluctantly, she pushed off from the side of the machine to set a course for the captain before her muscles became too cold to operate correctly.
Ignoring the strong feeling of vulnerability, she fought the waves and made it over to the red and blue flashing waverunner. The only reason the captain helped her on board was to immediately cuff her hands together. She didn't resist, coughing slightly and shaking violently as the sea water froze on her drenched body with the demonic encouragement of the wind. She felt J's eyes on her, but didn't return his gaze. She didn't need to gain the hindering feeling of guilt after seeing the suppressed look in his spiteful black eyes. Yes, she made him turn himself in to the police, but she was going to correct her actions and make it up to him. In the long run, things were going to end better this way. Her way.
Secretly deceiving someone is always more profitable than openly challenging someone.
She huddled against the officer's back as a crescendo of engines purred once again to life, shamefully knowing her intimacy with her new driver made J's nerves writhe with possessive jealousy.
With an attempt to radio call back to Arkham, the troop turned back and headed inland. They were too far out to sea for the transmission to work. As Joker's vehicle was steadily dragged by the captain, the other four officers drove in formation around him, staying at a matched speed. Harleen let her head rest of the captain's back, not caring if it made him feel awkward and uncomfortable, which it did. She knew it would take a few minutes before they returned to the shore.
She watched the city grow slightly as they drew closer, still heading west. She had to act before they turned south. wishing to be closer to the city, but not closer to Arkham. The waves were slightly rougher when traveling at thirty miles per hour instead of eighty, providing a good distraction for the captain while Harley discreetly slipped his gun out of his holster.
He didn't notice as he gently turned his vehicle south and grabbed his radio to call in. now being in range of the signal. Harley shot him in the head before he could press the button and tell his buddies of the clowns' location. After throwing his body overboard with a mighty heave, she grabbed a handlebar with one cuffed hand and spun her new toy full around to aim at the rest of the cops.
Joker ducked as she fired past him, not surprised at her method of getting them out of this situation. He held onto the seat and crouched back to unhook the tow cable from the back of his waverunner, knowing the machine was now useless with the keys at the bottom of the ocean. The other officers broke formation to avoid the crazy woman's bullets, rotating their vehicles to the side and accidentally giving Harley a better chance of hitting their body. With every shot that sent an officer overboard, whether the bullet wounded them or whether they just dived off in panic, she accompanied it with a nasty pelting to the abandoned waverunner, hitting the engine a few times to make sure it was dysfunctional.
She let her engine stall and drifted closer to J as his end of the tow cable sunk in the ocean, still attached to her on the other end. With a careful leap, he reunited with her and pulled in the cable as she finished off the last cop. She quickly checked her bullets and tossed the gun in a compartment on the waverunner before tearing the little GCPD radio system off the handlebars with a snap. "Here," Joker muttered as he helped her switch places with him, him being able to drive better with his hands separated from each other. Harley settled herself in her place behind him and nuzzled his back as she relaxed her cuffed hands on her leg, glancing over to see their old waverunner bobbing in the ocean, looking sorrowfully abandoned and neglected. She whispered a parting goodbye to it as J flicked on the obnoxiously entertaining sirens and sped off with a smirk. "You know something, J?" She called in his ear with a grin. "I'm not scared of the water as much anymore."