Harley had fallen asleep in the booth almost the instant she collapsed on it; she was exhausted. But, per usual, a full night of sleep evaded her. She had only been out for a few hours, and despite her body's desperate need for sleep she found her eye lids slowly opening. Harley sighed irritably. "Damn insomnia," she muttered under her breath. She knew it was useless to fight for sleep so instead, she let her thoughts wander, praying sleep would overtake her body as it had before.
Harley felt awful about freaking out on Annie. It was an accident of course, but still. She sat up and leaned over the back of the booth, looking down on Annie. She was covered in Jet Star's jacket and curled up in the booth.
"Psst, Annie," Harley tested, seeing if the girl was truly sleeping.
"Yeah?" The brunette replied groggily.
"Are you awake?" Harley questioned, leaning even farther over the seat.
"I am now," Annie mumbled.
"Sorry," Harley quickly apologized. "It's just-"
"SHH!" Fun Ghoul exclaimed from across the diner.
Harley stuck out her tongue, ignoring the fact that there was no way for Ghoul to see the action. She lowered her voice to a whisper.
"I'm really sorry about your face. I've just been thinking a lot about… ya know… the way things went down the last time we were in a group, and I was tired, and, well, frankly, you scared the shit out of me. I thought it was Party Poison, or Fun Ghoul trying to pull some shit," Harley went on.
"It was a reflex reaction," Annie said with a shrug. "And it's probably saved your ass more times than I care to think of," she continued, ending with a yawn. "It's fine, it's just a scratch."
"It is just a scratch, but you would think it was about as bad as mine from the way Jet took care of you," Harley teased, with a small laugh.
Annie whacked the booth with the back of her hand, but laughed anyways.
"Chatty bitches! Shu-" Fun Ghoul started but was interrupted by a Power Pup can being flung at him. "Ow!" he exclaimed. "Harley! I know that was you!" he half whispered, half yelled.
"I can neither confirm nor deny that statement," Harley replied coolly as Annie stifled a laugh.
There was movement in the booth Annie shared with Jet and both the girls and Ghoul held their breath, waiting to see if they had awoken the curly haired killjoy. Jet Star let out a large snore and the girls choked back giggles. Fun Ghoul rolled around in his booth, mumbling to himself about needing his beauty sleep. Annie smiled up at Harley.
"Goodnight Harley," she said before turning over, drifting off to sleep.
"Night An," Harley replied, sliding back over to her side of Party Poison's booth. But sleep didn't come so easy for her. She kept replaying the scene from earlier: her in Party's arms, face pressed against his chest, the cool desert air surrounding them both. She couldn't understand why she did that.
She had done a good job keeping her promise, her vow that she would never be close to another person again. Whenever she and Annie had run into other killjoys, Harley always distanced herself, being cold and blatantly rude and clearly not wanting anything to do with them. She didn't trust them and never let her guard slip, not a once. Then out of nowhere, Party Poison, one of the "Fabulous Killjoys", Harley scoffed mentally at the name, saves her ass, helps her out a time or two, and everything she had built came crashing to the ground. She had let him in, let her guard down and opened up. How could she fuck up like that, she scolded herself. "Now what?" she questioned silently.
She could go back to being the hot-headed, stubborn, cold bitch; it's what was familiar to her, after all. But for some reason, Harley didn't really want to do that. She wanted to try to be open; she wanted to try to be like Annie. Of course, that wasn't going to happen; someone had to keep their head out of the clouds, focused.
Harley sighed into the darkness. Her mind was reeling 100 miles an hour; sleep was out of the question. She sat up, and laced up her boots. She got out of the booth and walked quietly towards the door. The door opened smoothly as Harley pressed herself against it and she made sure to close it gently; the small, yet unavoidable, thud announced that it had closed. She turned to see Party and Kobra, each occupying a wall on either side of the door. Kobra was sitting against his wall, ray gun in his lap while Party stood and leaned against the other one, smoking a cigarette.
"Harley!" Party was alarmed by the girl's presence. "What's wrong? Is it your head?" Party inquired, worry slightly shading his tone.
"No, I'm fine. Don't worry about me, seriously," she added, emphasizing the last word. Party simply rolled his eyes. "It's just this damn insomnia. I can't ever get a fucking good night's sleep, so I'd thought I'd come out here and help you guys, maybe take over for one of you."
"No, you need your sleep," Kobra interjected. "We've got this."
"Look, trust me, sleep is not gonna happen. I've dealt with this thing my whole life," Harley said with a shrug. The wind blew, and Harley couldn't suppress her shiver. That the desert for you, burning heat I the day, chilling winds at night; they just couldn't form a happy medium. By the time Harley realized what she'd done, it was too late. Party had already slipped his jacket off and was taking the few steps to drape it around her."No, no, no" Harley protested, stepping out of the way to dodge the jacket.
Party let out a frustrated noise, balancing the cigarette between his lips as he tried again to get the jacket around the reluctant girl.
"Stop it Party, you're wearing a sleeveless tee shirt," she exclaimed.
Party held the jacket in one hand and took the cigarette from between his lips after taking a quick drag.
"And your argument is invalid," he said. "Kobra, hold her down."
"I think I'll pass on the black eye and the assured kick to the balls," Kobra responded, jokingly.
Harley let out a laugh. Her first real, natural, unforced laugh in a long time. Party stopped dead in his tracks and looked at her.
"What?" Harley questioned, suddenly self conscious.
"You have a really awesome laugh," Party said.
Kobra Kid snorted and Party raised his middle finger. Harley chuckled at the two as she sat on the ground and massaged her ankle.
"Bothering you?" Party questioned sitting across from her. He reached for her foot and Harley thrust it forward, kicking his hands away.
"Ouch! Motherfucker!" she exclaimed at the pain that shot through her ankle when it made contact.
Both Party Poison and Kobra laughed out loud. "Karma!" Party proclaimed and laughed again when Harley flipped him off whilst massaging her
ankle which hurt even worse now.
"You guys suck," she mumbled before standing up. A sound off to the left caught her attention. "I'll be right back guys," Harley said, grabbing a flashlight that was on the ground. She walked a few feet away from the guys, who were now quiet and standing at the ready.
Harley was just beginning to think she had imagined it when something was suddenly fired towards her feet. She jumped out of the way, her hand was a blur as she reached for her ray gun and fired off several shots. A drac fell to her feet. Harley looked down at him, kicking it away from her feet and keeping her attention ahead, preparing for oncoming dracs. A strong force made contact with her stomach and Harley fell to the ground, her breath knocked out of her. The second drac ran towards the diner but only made it a few feet before Kobra's ray gun fired, stopping him in his tracks and he fell to the ground with a thud.
"Harley!" Party shouted, running to the girl laying on the ground, still gasping for air.
Harley looked up in time to see a drac following up behind Party. The drac raised his ray gun, preparing to fire. "Party get down!" she ordered. Party complied without question, and Harley fired.
The drac's ray gun fell out of his hands and he dropped to his knees; the rest of his body followed suit.
All three killjoys were silent, their breathing was heavy and their eyes were alert, scoping out the terrain for any other unwanted visitors. Finally they came to the conclusion that there were no more. Party pushed himself off the ground and rose to his feet, walking swiftly to Harley after looking over his shoulder to make certain that Kobra was fine. Harley pushed herself up into a sitting position.
"Harley? Are you okay?" Party asked, helping her to her feet, his eyes scanning her up and down and inspecting her head, which seemed just fine.
Harley nodded. "Yeah, fucker just punched me in the stomach," she said while rubbing the sore spot.
Party let out a sigh of relief.
"Little help here guys?" Kobra said, while dragging one of the dracs' limp bodies off to a large pile of rocks, a bit far from the diner. Party, Harley and Kobra got all the dracs situated so that their bodies were concealed.
"All done," Harley said, wiping her hands on her pants.
"Yup," Kobra agreed. "And just in time." He gestured to the rising sun.
The three made their way back inside the diner. Ghoul was sitting with his head in his hands, mumbling to himself. Jet and Annie were still asleep, although it looked like Annie was waking up.
"Morning sunshine!" Harley said to Ghoul, knocking him on the head with her fist. He slapped at her arm, missing completely and landing on his face. Party laughed before helping his friend up.
"Hey guys!" Kobra said, jumping in front of Jet and Annie. Harley smiled at the couple over Kobra's shoulder, waving. Her stomach twinged and she winced, but only Annie seemed to notice.
"What were you doing out there Harley?" Annie asked while sitting up and stretching. Jet did the same and Annie slid off Jet's jacket, sliding it over the table to him. Jet smiled to Annie who did the smiled back shyly.
"Fucking insomnia," Harley answered, looking back and forth between the two. She shook her head and went and sat atop one of the barstools.
"Did we miss any action?" Ghoul inquired, getting up from the floor.
"Just a run in with a few dracs." Kobra said, collapsing tiredly in a booth. "Harley got two of 'em, left one for me."
"And none for me." Party pretended to pout.
"Aw, why can't anything exciting ever happen whenever I'm on watch?" Ghoul complained.
Everyone but Harley laughed. She was busy staring at her foot, watching it bounce from side to side. She was conflicted. A part of her wanted to embrace these new people, but the more rational part of her reminded her of what happens when you let people close to you.
"You okay Harley?" Party asked.
"Yeah, I think so. " She half-lied.
"Can I look at your foot and your stomach, and change your bandages?" He asked.
"Sure." She responded, waiting for him to get the first aid kit. When he came back, she looked up at him. "Why are you all so nice to Annie and I?" She asked.
Party took out a rag and bent down, taking her boot off for her. "Because we know that dracs don't go after other dracs, even as a cover." He said playfully. She tapped him with her still booted foot. "I'm kidding. Because you're both amazingly strong and you've lost your place to live, and the four of us think you're a perfect fit for the group." He said, wrapping her foot.
Harley looked over to where Annie was throwing Power Pup cans at the boys. "I guess you're right." She said, watching Party's red hair, admiring the way his strong arms moved as he wrapped her ankle tightly.
She couldn't help but know, deep in her heart, that she did belong here. But she also knew that she wanted to protect Annie with her life. Annie wanted to be near these four men, who could kill dracs with one shot and hack vending machines. She wasn't sure if she wanted to be here or not. What she did know is that for one split second, she felt safe.