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04 October 2008 @ 06:01 am
"An Outside Observer" Riddler/Harley  
Title: An Outside Observer
Fandom: DC Comics [Batman]
Genre: angst, introspective, romance, fluff, speculation
Rating : PG
Characters: The Riddler/Harley Quinn, Nightwing
Word count: 2000-ish
Warnings: Pure speculation.
Notes: Written for the Geek Gets the Girl Challenge. This idea was inspired by two things: Trinity #12 and an essay I read by second_batgirl entitled “Incorporating Bad Canon Into Your Fanfic“ in which the idea of Nightwing going through some sort of post traumatic stress disorder as a result of his time with Tarantula was mentioned.
Summary: A conversation between Riddler and Nightwing leads to jealousy.

It would be an odd thing to say aloud, but if Edward Nigma were quite honest with himself he might possibly admit, at least internally, that he was rather getting used to being suddenly yanked off of the sidewalk and suspended in midair by a member of the Batman family.  The sensation was what he imagined the reverse of the feeling one had in their gut shortly before a roller coaster went over the edge.  He had to imagine it though, as he’d never been on a roller coaster and had no plans to rectify that particular loss of his childhood.
“Hello, Eddie.  Nice night for a walk?” Nightwing asked with that ever present grin.  It was as if he had made it his goal in life to make up for the grimness of his mentor by treating his mentor’s old villains like old friends.  Eddie honestly could have done without it though, rescue attempt or not.
Eddie had been a free man for three years now and in that time had become renowned on two continents for his abilities as a private detective.  He had no need to be reminded of his past misdeeds.  He had been there, thank you.  Now, he simply wanted to sit back and enjoy the excesses that came with his new found life. 
“It was a nice night, Richard, and then you snatched me off of the ground like some common criminal,” Eddie said, mentally congratulating himself when he saw the young man’s smile fade.  “I dropped a bouquet of flowers on the way up.  Do you see it?”
Nightwing looked over the edge of the brownstone apartment complex to see a rather large bouquet lying amongst a puddle of water and random trash that had been dropped by passerby’s. 
“Are those red roses, Eddie?  Looks like someone’s got a big night planned,” Nightwing answered, his earlier mirth having returned in full.  “Who’s the lucky lady?”
“That’s the riddle isn’t it, Richard?  Tell you what, if you can answer that question in the next five minutes I won’t go to the papers tomorrow morning to explain how one of Batman’s lackeys accosted me while I was on my way home.”
The smile was quickly replaced with a stern look that spoke volumes of what Mr. Grayson really thought of him.  So much the better as far as Edward was concerned.
“Give up?” Edward asked from his hanging position.  “Here, I’ll give you a hint.”  Edward reached up and, with great effort on his part, pulled himself up till his fingers grasped the edge of the building.  He took a deep breath and then wriggled his body up the rest of the way till he lay on the roof. 
“I won’t be besting you or your mentor in a competition of physical fitness any time soon, Grayson, but that was much better than I could do a month ago.  It’s my girlfriend’s idea, you see.  Healthy body, healthy mind.  I was never one for psychological jargon, but I have to say she might have a point.”
Nightwing’s brow furrowed as he thought it out, but still none of this was making sense to him.  The idea that a woman would want to actually date Eddie was stunning enough as it was, but to think there was a woman who wanted to actually be his girlfriend was mind boggling.
Even if one were to forgive Edward’s past he wasn’t the most attractive man.  His red hair was thinning.  Crow’s feet were beginning to show around his dull, brown eyes and as Edward himself had pointed out, he wasn’t in any great physical shape.  Still, assuming one could somehow look past Edward’s sharp features and weak chin, there was the matter of Eddie himself. 
The man was an egomaniac from the start and his brushes with the media and success in his detective business had done nothing to help with the swelling.  If anything his ego had expanded.  Besides that the man was a vast encyclopedia and had all the social skills of one.  It occurred to Nightwing that his analysis of the man was a bit one-sided.  Perhaps there was some side of the man he simply didn’t see or had never experienced.
In the end though, he simply didn’t have an answer to the man’s question.  While Batman might have been able to figure it out with ease, he’d always had problems with word puzzles.
“Alright, Eddie, you’ve stumped me.”
Edward smiled for the first time during their conversation.  “Well, I have to admit I didn’t really give you a great hint to begin with.  So let’s call it even, Richard.  Now what is it you need from me?”
Nightwing frowned.  He’d been expecting the older man to simply give him the answer.  He should have known that wasn’t how the Riddler worked.  “Do you know anything about the Dittman case?”
“Two security guards shot while protecting the Dittmans’ coat of arms on display at the Gotham Museum of Arts.  Lovely piece of work as I recall.  The cameras were cut prior to the crime and all that was left behind was a handscra-“
“So you know about it then?”
Edward smirked.  “I have a passing knowledge of it, yes.”
“Any ideas as to who did it?”
“You’re an odd one, Mr. Grayson.  You were trained by one of the greatest detectives in the world and have solved a few cases, petty as they were, on you own.  Yet here you stand asking me the answer to a question after having given little to no thought about the circumstances of the crime.  What’s happened to you?  You were a relatively bright boy at one time.”
Dick had come to hate the comparisons people made to his past self, to who he used to be, not because he was ashamed, but because he honestly didn’t know how to get back to the way he’d been.
Eddie stared at the man before him from his sitting position and saw someone who was lost. It was a feeling he could empathize with.  “I will help you.  I realize that my attempts on your life years ago should be balanced somehow.  For now this will have to do, but I will not tolerate these little meetings anymore.  If you’d like to speak to me than you’ll do it like any of my clients.  You’ll make an appointment.”  Eddie stood up, his legs still bound by the tight, black grappling cable and his suit slightly rumpled, but looking no less firm in his demand.
Dick smiled grimly at the other man.  “Alright, Eddie,” he said as he loosened the cable with a push of a button.  “We have ourselves a deal.”
It really shouldn’t have bothered him.  He didn’t care what the man did in his spare time and yet he thought it might be good for a laugh to see what sort of woman would actually date a man like Edward Nash.  In his mind he’d prepared a sketch of a rather portly woman in her mid-50’s.  She would most likely be an heiress of some sort as Eddie had always had a thing for women with money, but she would also have to have low self-esteem.  There was a good chance that the woman was lacking in any sort of talent that mattered. Edward liked to hold that sort of thing over people’s heads.
He followed Eddie down the street and watched from the shadows of Gotham ’s alleyways as Eddie threw away the flowers he’d originally bought and bought a fresh dozen from a street florist.  For just a moment Dick actually felt guilty for ruining the originals.
The flowers re-purchased, Eddie moved like a man without a care in the world, the flowers firmly in one hand and his cane in the other.  After ten blocks Eddie had finally arrived at his condo.  For a moment the man hesitated at his own door and let out a slow breath, then puffed his chest out just a bit and unlocked the door with a few quick jabs at the security box.  ‘What are you bolstering your confidence for Eddie?  You’re the second greatest detective in Gotham ,’ Dick thought with a laugh.
Nightwing walked furtively to the edge of the roof opposite Eddie’s apartment, unsurprised by the cleanliness of the man’s apartment.  Eddie had always been an orderly and precise one.  It reasonably followed that his apartment would be similarly well kept.
A woman walked by the window, her back to him, and for just a moment all Nightwing could do was stare.  While he couldn’t see the woman’s face, he could tell that she certainly didn’t fit his preconceived notions of the looks of a woman that might date Eddie.  The woman was short, trim and wore a Gotham University t-shirt with a pair of blue track shorts.  Her blonde hair was done up in two messy pigtails and she moved through the apartment with all the grace of a ballerina. 
Taking a pair of binoculars out of his belt he gazed across the space between the two buildings to get a better look at the woman who had apparently fallen for Edward Nigma.  He could see into the room better now.  Details he had missed with his own eyes now came into focus.  The crisp green sheets stretched across his bed.  A desk made of oak, almost bare except for a small assortment of files, each stacked on the other neatly.  A large wooden wardrobe stood near the door to what was most likely his living room and near the bed sat a single nightstand with only an alarm clock and a pad of paper and pen to decorate it.
The woman was reading from a rather heavy book as she walked back and forth across the room but a sound seemed to have startled her.  Looking up, the woman casually tossed the book aside as if it weighed no more than a ball of paper and walked toward the bedroom door, stopping on her way to retrieve something from Eddie’s wardrobe.
Nightwing focused the binoculars to get a look as to what the woman was grabbing, but quickly saw there was no need to have focused in so closely.  The mallet the woman pulled out of her closet was enormous.  The handle was at least four inches in diameter and the head had to have weighed at least sixty pounds.  The entire thing was painted red and black with diamonds of opposing colors lining the handle of the mallet.
As bad of a detective as he had been of late, he could still put two and two together.  The studious blonde with the hammer wasn’t some rich heiress.  He watched her reflection as she passed a mirror near the wardrobe just to make certain of his answer, Harley Quinn.
It was her.  She had the same wide set mouth, though for once she wasn’t grinning.  Her eyes were an odd, crystal blue, but rather than villainy they seemed to reflect…fright.  She crept towards the door carefully, her mallet held high above her head.  She said something and then repeated herself again.  Eddie’s name, perhaps?
She quickly placed the mallet behind her back, its head resting on the floor as she casually leaned back against it, using the handle as her support.  The door opened just as she’d completed the picture of mischievous innocence and who should come in but Eddie himself.
She said something with a slight frown and Nightwing bet it had to do with Eddie’s late hour of return.  Again, he felt that stab of guilt, but quickly pushed it away.  He really didn’t need this right now. 
Eddie presented her with the flowers with a grin that almost bordered on apologetic.  He took off his jacket and hung it inside the wardrobe as he talked.  Harley was too enraptured with the flowers to notice.  His jacket hung, he looked at her expectantly, as if waiting on judgment to be passed. 
Harley smiled at him and gently grabbed his tie before pulling him quickly and suddenly towards her.  A light kiss was placed on his cheek and Nightwing swore he saw the man melt before his very eyes.  Turning his head just to the left Eddie caught Harley’s lips in his own and embraced her.
Dick quickly stood up, not wanting to see anymore.  He had answered Eddie’s riddle, but it hadn’t really satisfied him the way he’d thought it would.  There just seemed to be something wrong in this world when a man like Eddie and a woman like Harley could find some sort of happiness together while he couldn’t even keep down a job.  Gritting his teeth, Nightwing turned his back to the happy couple and made his way to edge of the rooftop.  He fired a grappling hook out to the nearest building and swung away into the night.
(Deleted comment)
phil_urichphil_urich on October 7th, 2008 01:30 am (UTC)
Thank you! Yeah I really wanted to try doing something different in my writing and adding an outsider's point of view on a relationship was something I've been throwing around. I'm thinking about doing a follow up to this, but I'm not sure yet.
axolotl_lan: It's coming for you Robinaxolotl_lan on October 5th, 2008 04:16 am (UTC)
I have never seen this before but I like it alot... I love the idea of Harley with someone who would help er with her issues and get them and this this works for me on so many levels, I would bet Eddie encourages her to use her mind and maybe help him in his pd work and just mmm Nice. and Poor Dick you have issues sort em out plz!?
phil_urichphil_urich on October 7th, 2008 01:31 am (UTC)
Thanks! I really like the way they complement one another as well. I really wish they would have Dick work through his issues. It could make for interesting reading.