Synopsis: Aaron takes his broken stero in to Harper’s repair shop to get fixed. He also makes a request for a piece of equipment.

JASON: Two days had passed since my mother’s repast.  Two days which meant the moment the door shut behind the last of my guests there was work to be done. Work that would ensure that when the landlord returned within a day’s time and Johnny perhaps less than that everything that I valued would be gone.  The apartment would be picked clean as if a den of thieves had made themselves at home here and departed just as fast. The moment I returned after getting out of the hospital things were marked into three categories:

  1. Keep
  2. To my mother or father’s friends.
  3. Pawn.

Most of everything that we had in the apartment went to category three.  There were some items that found their way into category two, but category one.  well, that was rare. It was few and far in between.  The things that I gathered to keep were the first things to go. They were transported to a safer place than the apartment, they were sent to what I affectionately called the Nest. The things that were going to be given away to my parents’ friends were delivered quickly.

The items to pawn or in some cases fence that went to the appropriate associates that shared their condolences, which I milked to get better prices, because they would be stashed in to their appropriate spots.  I no longer had my mother to worry about raiding my accounts or my piggy banks, but there were debts that had to be settled and I rather handle them on my own. It was better that than a shake down.

When Johnny came for his money he would find nothing there for him to break or shake me down for instead he would find a neighbor who had an envelope with the money and a note saying that it’s settled. If he comes for me then I will respond appropriately, but as far as I’m concerned my mother’s debt is settled.   With him, there were others and I would work my way down the list, but his was the most immediate that needed to be handled.

I have no idea what went down in the alley, but I’m sure he wasn’t too happy at the fact that I got away, but I wasn’t too happy that his poison killed my mom.  I think we can come to an understanding.  The lanlord had gotten the rent before my mother died so he was settled so what I paid him was the next months rent which was more of. You don’t know where I went and if CPS comes knocking you don’t have a clue and make up whatever you wanted.  They wold try what?  Two times tops unless Thompkins pushes them.

Of course, this left me with no place to live, nope had that taken care of, because there were times when I needed to disappear to get away from the bad moments, because there were plenty with my mom.  Sadly, it didn’t really become available until my dad was sent away.   When he got sent away it became mine, fair and square.  It was my retreat from all the crappy things. It was the Nest.  It’s all I had that was mine despite the fact that it wasn’t, but I’ll take what I can.

However, right now I caught the bus into the narrows.  It’s where I needed to be to find a fixer, because I was in need of one.  Why?  Of the things that I kept, I kept the stereo and right now it wasn’t working as well as it could be, so I brought the unit in to get it repaired.  I heard there was a good fixer in the narrows which meant one of several things. I could barter or cash.  Luckily, I had cash, but let’s find out how much the repair work was going to cost before I went dolling out any.   It might be a situation where barter might be better…maybe.

HARPER:  It had been several days since a random bump in the road a literal one in this case had sent Harper sliding into an alleyway, and a mouthy upright Roomba of a cybernetic woman. The truly sad fact is this could not be said to be entirely unusual in a town like Gotham. Nor could it be said of the cloaked woman who emerged from thin air with a quarter staff to retrieve the Roomba moments later. Harper herself had never encountered the stranger elements of the city beyond a chance encounter with the Batman months back. So to say this most recent one had been a significant moment in her life would be an understatement.

The long, slow trip home as she pushed her busted and only means of transportation had been one of reflection. Something had changed in Harper after seeing Batman in the flesh and this had only increased in it pace of growth after meeting The Huntress. While some doubts remained about whether or not she could actually pull off the role she had chosen to play she knew she had to at least try. A part of her wished she could ask someone for advice on the matter but what would Cullen or Steph even know about playing hero? Or of what would be required to become one.

Could you even imagine what Stephanie Brown would wear!? Probably something bright purple.

At the end of her long and slow trip and her deep thoughts on vigilante..ism? Harper had rolled her scooter up to the entrance to the shop she worked out of in her role as the neighborhoods resident handyperson. That had been days ago and she had not yet left the shop the projects at the front of her mind were just to important to allow for interruptions. Lifting up the goggles she wore while using her blowtorch Harper held up what she hoped would be a suitable set of body armor.

“UGH…Hardly Bat certified level here Harps…”

Lowering the goggles again she aimed the torch down again and started to fuse the panels again. Perhaps she should start with the weaponry she would employ that she knew she could handle. Halting the torches progress she turns to look to a set of gloves on a nearby workbench.

“Shock gauntlets. YES.”

But first she had to finish her current project, being distracted would only guarantee another faulty seam.

JASON:  When the bus began to approach my stop, I glanced down at the slip of paper where I had written the address down and rang the bell beside me.  Moving to my feet I picked up the unit and made my way to the front of the bus.  The entrance was closer.  Holding on to the bar I waited for the bus to come to a step before moving past the all-important yellow line.   The doors opened, and the driver gave me a look.

Yep this is where I wanted to get off at. Holding onto the stereo unit I walked down the stairs looking around.  Not that the Narrows was a step up by any means it was at a bit of a crossroads if someone liked to think of it that way.

I didn’t care much else with me beyond what I had in my arms.  My money was where I could get to it, but again I would have to have a discussion about payment.  The stereo itself could fetch a price, but not much especially since it was busted.  I headed down the street making sure to keep my eyes and ears open to everything around me without making it obvious.  I knew a few people in the area, but I wasn’t about to go look them up.  That would invite them into places that I didn’t want them.

Instead I made my way to the workshop with no incident, so things were looking good, at least for the moment.  Pushing against the door to open it I glanced around getting my bearings as it was my first time here.
“Hello?”  Was there a bell?

HARPER:  There was in fact no bell or any other means by which you might signal your arrival. In fact the front of the shop had the look of a place that had not been used by anyone in sometime it could easily be mistaken for abandoned. Harper preferred it this way and used a purely word of mouth method of advertisement, which only backfired when someone couldn’t keep their mouths shut. The receiving area contained little except for an old and dusty desk piled with folders and old books, behind it were somehow dustier bookshelves also piled with random and ancient texts or so it would seem to someone of Jason’s age. The three folding chairs to the left of the door by the wall with the peeling wallpaper might have offered a place to wait if they too were not over encumbered by a leaning towers of mostly Popular Mechanics magazine.

What it lacked in bells the receiving area made up with its hidden camera and the sudden alert it sent to Harpers phone. Feeling the buzz in her pocket she turns off the torch and gently places it on a nearby table. Pulling the glasses up to sit on her head Harper removes her phone from her pocket and opens the alert.

Someone was out front, someone she did not know. Tapping the alert again she brings up the microphone function built into the camera.

“I am the great and powerful Oz! Whatta ya want?”

JASON: “Yeah, well, I guess the Emerald City has seen better days…years.”  By the looks of it.  My eyes moved around to see if I could spot the camera, but obvious moves would pick up what I was attempting to do. Despite the look of shop, it was obvious that the front of the house was not utilized that often or wasn’t the real front of the house.

“I’m looking for Harper.  I was told that she was good with electronics.  I have something that I need her to take a look at.  Two things actually, three if she’s any good.”   I don’t know. I mean it was all word of mouth and apps only tell you so much like anyone can buy or make an app these days.  He arched his brow turning so he could find a spot to set the stereo down.

“Its work so do you do that kind of thing or do you just claim squatters rights?  Also, if we’re talking Great and Powerful Oz.”  Who was actually a charlatan, perhaps someone after my dad’s heart.   “I’m not looking for a heart, brain or courage.  Home is what is, Gotham.  So, I’ll take a hovercycle.  I don’t know any witches, but big Bertha comes close.  So, if I dump a bucket of water on her you can make the hovercycle happen right?”

I really did need the stereo fix, but she was the one that all L. Frank Baum on me.

HARPER:  Harper couldn’t help but to grin at the response she was given, this guy talked like a kid from Gotham. Peeling off one of her heavy duty gloves and then the other she lays them on the table careful to keep from placing either to close to the still warm end of the torch that she had placed on the same table. Harper turns toward the actual entrance to the shop stopping to wave a few times at the air to disperse the odor welding had dispersed throughout the shop. She loved making things but had never come to enjoy the smell a blowtorch put into the air, now the sizzle of electronic that was a different matter entirely.

Walking toward the door to her shop she scoops up a small device as she makes her way out to speak with Jason. Her hand on the panel to open the door she stops again and turns back taking a moment to slide a tarp over the objects on the main table like her body armor.

That done she taps a panel next to the door to disengage three separate sets of heavy duty locks she had placed on the door. Despite the sound proofing she had installed the sounds of this happening likely still filtered through the walls. Stepping out into the front room the taser like device still in her hand Harper looks Jason over a few times before speaking.

“I might be Harper..I might be Dorothy. I usually only work on referrals.”

She said crossing her arms over the Sex Pistols t-shirt she had on under the tool belt that hung on her like an under arm dual pistol holster. Whether or not she was Josey Wales quick with the wrenches and assorted tool in the belt would be anyone’s guess.

JASON:  I waited patiently to see what was going to happen.  Was the counter going to slide away revealing a hidden staircase that lead to the actual shop which lay beneath the “decadent” exterior.  Or was there going to be a wall that split a part or opened out to welcoming me to the inner sanctum?  That would be pretty cool, however unlikely as I heard the three deadbolts that unlocked themselves.

Perhaps in another life, another Gotham, because in this one it sounded like someone who was into security.  The only thing that was missing was the rod that slipped into the little box n the door and caught along the floor.

One could never have too much security, especially when they did they type of work that Harper was alleged to do.  People to tend to take anything that’s not bolted down, and when it is bolted down it just means that need to come with the right tools to make it theirs.   Of course, that brings me to allegedly.   Why do I say allegedly, because I haven’t seen any of her work.  There’s no real proof and until I see with my eyes it is rumor and hearsay.

Also, it was the word that got me the Spelling Bee trophy in third grade, well it got me into the tie breaker.  Incarceration got me the trophy.

When the proprietor finally stepped out Jason tipped head to the side.  Maybe he can get a kid discount.  She was probably what a year or two older at most, maybe three.  She had bags under her eyes.   Probably best not to mention that.  His nose caught the distinct scent that comes blow torch work.

“Blow torch or acetylene.”  Of course the moment I said it, Blondie’s <i>The Hardest Part</i> passes through my head.  It can’t he helped. Nor can me noticing the Sex Pistol’s shirt she has on.  Pretty hard to miss that, or something that looks interesting from afar in her hand.  She looked me over a couple of times. I guess I passed the test, not really because she still holding that interesting item in her hand.

Trust.  It will get you killed if you’re not careful.

“You don’t look like Dororthy.  Maybe DG, but not a Dorothy.”  Points for catching the reference since we’re all about Oz or something.   Maybe she has a Scarecrow fetish.  I’ll try not to visibly shudder about that.  Next thing I know she’ll be chatting me up about the Mad Hatter.

“Harper most definitely, but I could be wrong, and I got a referral.  You fixed a dishwasher for a neighbor of mine.”  Three blocks over and two blocks down.  “For a bucket of chicken and peaches.  The peaches I get, because she gives everyone peaches. The chicken.  She said you were a little reluctant.  I bet you’re Popeye’s kind of girl and she was only dealing in the Colonel.”

The sad thing about this. It’s not the most absurd conversation I’ve ever had.

HARPER: “I try to avoid fast food it goes straight to my thighs.”

While Harper couldn’t claim to remember every person she had helped in the Narrows she absolutely remembered Miss Brenda, and her bucket of KFC. Of all the things you could invest in Gotham that might kill you fast food could still be considered one of the worst offenders in Harpers mind. Still she had placed the chicken in the fridge and had found it gone the next day. Cullen pleaded innocent but also refused to show her his fingers, tainted with grease no doubt.

“Okay then if you know Miss Brenda then we can do business.”

Harpers mind drifted to her long list of important projects and how she really shouldn’t work on anything else right now, still it might raise suspicion if she turned anyone away. Taking a step back she gestures for Jason to go first.

“After you…”

Grinning just a little she gestures inside with the object in her hand.

JASON:  “Uh huh.”   I left it at that, because it was best not to comment on things of that nature.  Girls go upside down and sideways about it, usually against a guys head, so yeah no comment.  I’ll play the innocent little lamb when it comes to that.

“I do.  She says hello and something about coming to see you about her clock radio.”  Message delivered.  Turning towards the counter I lifted up the stereo unit and proceeded to step behind the curtain so to speak though I had no idea where I was headed really

“If you insist. So straight ahead into the back or am I making turns?  Is this some kind of ploy to look my butt?  I’m a little young for you aren’t I?”  There might have been a hint of a smirk while I headed towards wherever we were going.

“Now if it gets me a discount feel free to look, but I may feel ashamed in the morning.”

HARPER: “Not really no, but I reserve the right to sneak a peek later.”

She could tell him it really had to do with keeping a knife or worse from being stuck into her back, she wished she could say it had never happened before. Of course Cullen would never hear about that particular incident, he worried enough as is. One bad apple had ruined it for everyone else and now Harper insisted clients go first where she could keep a good eye on them.

“I don’t prescribe it puritanical concepts of shame it’s a total waste of energy….unlike this.”

At this she sparks the device in her hand to give Jason a good look at the super taser she had been holding since he came in. The possibility excessive amount of electricity the device emits lights up the darkened front area and illuminated the shop just inside the door, as well as Harpers best don’t mess with me face.

“You can unload your stuff over there…DO.NOT. Touch anything.”

Harper points to a table on the far end of the room and well away from the center table covered by the tarp.

JASON:  “I’ll go slow mo if it gets me a hovercycle.”  Yep I totally said that. Whether or not I would do it another story, but we are talking about a hovercycle.  I was doing my best to keep light, because let’s recap on what’s going on here.

  1. Stranger shows up on your door step asking for you to do some work for him.
  2. You work in the Narrows where lies are candy and betrayal dessert and people tend to eat dessert first all the time in the Narrows, East End, well, just about everywhere in Gotham and if you wanted something more decadent head over to Bludhaven. It’s like’s Gotham’s Red Light district.
  3. I’m pretty sure she has more than one weapon ready for me if I do decide to clown out on her, but totally not what I’m here for.

“Well, that’s good, because ashamed means for me I get a pint of ice cream and forget about what I was supposed to be shaming myself about.”

With a turn of my head my eyes catch the sparks of the taser making note of it.

“Wait I can set my stuff down, but don’t touch anything. What happens if my finger touches the top of the counter. Is that included?”

HARPER: Harper considers giving Jason a good zap for his sass or at least she would if she herself wouldn’t have likely said the same thing. Instead she spins the taser in hand and slides it into one of the empty holsters hanging at her sides. Thankfully she doesn’t fling the weapon across the room this time, that had proven to be a bit of a disaster. Thankfully her neighbors cat had only gotten a little scorched and it’s hair eventually grew back in, of course Purrrcevil did his best to avoid her to this day.

“My fee goes up by the sass just FYI”

In contrast to the outer office Harpers actual shop is meticulously sorted, with just a smudge of chaos here and there. Where she had tools placed on the walls they were arranged in order of size and or condition, clearly a few had seen better days. In addition to the large center table covered with a tarp she had the table she was pointing to against the wall it was smaller and mostly clear except for the strange gloves she had forgotten to put away.

Spotting them Harper mutters something under her breath and hopes Jason doesn’t ask to many questions. Stepping head of him she moves in to moves the gloves aside before he sets his stuff down near them.

“Just put them on the table sassmouth.”

JASON: There had to be a little sass.  I mean what’s Gotham without a little sass or wit coming from some direction.  Without it, we’d be a failed Metropolis, or at least that’s what people like to think. Me, I see potential, potential for so much more, so much better, but setting it aside I couldn’t help the smirk at the fee business.

Setting the unit on the table as instructed I stepped back while taking in the shop. There were things put away in places, all neat and tidy and the tiny bits of chaos I suspect are from just finished business, in the middle business, or just started business.  Things she didn’t mind people seeing.

Then there was the don’t look at me, but can’t but notice me tarp business which would likely get me a zap from the taser and if I was a betting man I’m pretty certain it’s set for twitching on the floor, foaming on the mouth sucks to be you if you have a pacemaker setting.  So no peeky under the tarp.

Of course it made me wonder where other such things were that weren’t being worked on were.

“So, I guess introductions are in order less I get stuck with sassymouth, but given where your eyes were sassypants would work too.”  I just can’t help myself. “Jay and I’m here because my precious has stopped working right. Tape decks running slow and the turn table is even slower.”

HARPER:  Harper walks over to the table where the stereo had been placed and slowly moved her eyes over it. Leaning in a bit and pulling a small pen light out of one of the pockets on her belt she clicks it on moving it’s bright and slightly bluish light over the mentioned tap deck and then the turn table. If she even heard Jason’s comments she made no reaction to them, nor would she while she worked.

A minute or so later she turns and aims the narrow beam at Jason and then the tarp on the table, then back to Jason. Seemingly satisfied she clicks the pen off while still holding it up and after twirling it in her fingers places it back in its place on her belt.

“I think I see the problem…it’s a piece of junk.”

Offering a quick shrug followed by a rapidly fading grin Harper again turns back to the stereo.

“I’d recommend jacking…or maybe buying an iPod or phone or something. I hear Spotify is just the best.”

Her hands reach forward and begin removing the front of the stereo a tiny screw driver having appeared in her hand as of by magic. As she continues to work at removing the face of the unit she again speaks.

“But if you’re dealing with an emotional attachment I get it and…give me like five minutes?”

JASON:  While Harper focused on the stereo on unit, I took a moment to look around the shop. I didn’t touch, I didn’t even try to see what was on the tarp I just looked around before looking over my shoulder at Harper as she holstered her taser. “There’s a lot to look at. I’m just taking it all in. I’m behind the curtain without a little dog running back and exposing you. I think I’m doing good.” Smirking he turned back towards her nodding.

“It’s my piece of junk and if you can get it up and going then I’ll be a satisfied customer. I like to keep it analog sometimes.” Simple as that. At least that’s the way I wanted to keep it. Don’t need to talk about any other reasons.

“So, if you can get it squared away I’d like that a lot and then I would like to talk about another project if you’re up for it. One that doesn’t deal in peaches. Deals in presidents. Dead ones.”

HARPER:  “I’m not interested in joining your crew…if your looking for a criminal I’d suggest looking up my dad.”

Harpers eyes had not yet left the stereo as she removed the face and then began working on the tape deck itself. Jason had lucked out in that Harper had experience with fixing devices as old as this one, her youth had seen dozens if not hundreds of such things smashed in fits of rage or outright sold to make ends meet or even more likely so her father could buy some illicit substances. Far to often she would come home from school to find the television missing and be forced to find a cheap replacement, which she would then be forced to make work.

It had been a maddeningly predictable cycle but it had been what had made her the tech wiz she was today. No amount of skill or strength came easily or without trial and Harper would not claim to be different.

“So…Jay right? If that’s what your after you can get the hell out of my shop. I’ll still fix your stereo because I’m nice like that but…”

JASON:  “Do I sound like I have a crew?  Do I look like I have a crew?  Talk about emotional attachments?”  I pause for a moment shaking my head.   “I’m not sure what you’re talking about. Just saying that I’ll pay you in cash. ”  Did I hit a nerve probably.  Wouldn’t be the first time.   Walking over towards the table where she was working on the stereo I leaned up against it watching her work.

“However, I am in need of someone that has expertise in your area.  Fixing things, possibly modifying them that’s all. Currently in need to be able to see someone coming that’s all. There’s a bit of business that my parental involved herself in, and due to a change in her status I am now probably on the hook for it more than likely so I want to try and be prepared if I can. My living situation is….”  What’s a good word.

“Tenuous at best.  Meaning I could be sleeping and someone might come knocking and I rather be in position to make a quick exit if need be.  So, I need to see if this is or isn’t out of your wheel house.  It could cost so hence the dead presidents.”  He shrugged.   “Kind of looking for night vision goggles, but not big clunky ones.  I was curious if you worked on anything like that before.”

It was no big whoop if not.  “Not all of the street lights are lit and I find myself running through the streets or trying to make a quick exit through various buildings I’d rather not impale myself.”  I would say fourteen is too young to have a crew, but we both know that’s not true.

“As Nancy Thompson said.  I’m into survival.”

HARPER:  Harper stood up from the stereo and turned to face Jason holding both her hands up in apology. Twirling the small screw driver in her fingers as she lowers her hands again her mood leveling out again as she basically forces it to do so. She might have made an assumption and that wasn’t right of her.

“Okay I may have over reacted a touch…but..”

Stepping back to the table she placed the screwdriver down and brought out the pen light again. Thinking a moment she places the light in her mouth and picking the the screw driver again gets back to work.

“Night vision goggles that is some vigilante level stuff and those are illegal I hear… but yeah I can totally do that.”

Both her hands move to work their way into the stereo as the light does what it does best, illumination. A few second pass and Harper begins to place pieces back onto the stereo and again takes a step back.

“That might have done it.”

JASON:  “It’s cool. I get it. I mean.  It’s the environment we live in.  Crime’s a way of life for some of us.  You never can be sure, but trust there is no crew. I’m not crew material. Remember, I’m Mister Sassypants.  I wouldn’t last a day, may not even an hour. My mouth would get me in trouble.  Probably why I’ll be picking up an unwanted debt.  Too many clapbacks for my own good.”  My shoulders rise and fall while I watch her work.

“That they are, but sometimes to survive you have to risk it. As much as I would like to turn to the cops that usually makes a bad situation worse, and judging by your reaction I think we both can agree that not ever cop is a stand up individual.” Not in the least, but I wasn’t about to walk that winding road.  I had a stereo to get fixed and goggles to see about.

“Cool. Now I can have tunes again.  Sweet, sweet tunes. So let’s see.  How much for the repair job?  How much for the goggles, and when should I expect my hovercycle?”

HARPER:  “Honestly this thing barely required any amount of effort…so we can call it even for now.”

Scratching at the side of her head with the screwdriver as she accidentally flashes Jason with the pen light still in her mouth. Eyes widening a bit she takes it out and clicking it off places it back in its proper place.

“I can look the goggles and I’ll let you know what I’ll need payment wise in a few days…and pal I make a hover cycle it’ll be all mine.”

JASON:  “Aww really. Not even a box of Popeyes?”  I couldn’t help it.  I was completely amused, by the entire thing. Also there was a box in my fridge, because I helped Ms. Brenda with carrying in some groceries and moving furniture.  I’ll take what I can get.

“Few days. Alright.  I’ll drop be in a few days to check in. Oh yeah for sure. First generation is all yours. I’ll take the next one after that after all the bugs are worked out.  That’s really generous of you.  I guess you really are the great and powerful Oz.  I didn’t even have to douse any witches.”

That’s when she flashes me with the light. Looking away I cast my eyes down for a second before looking up again.  “Well, that was fun.”

Reaching out for the stereo I thought about before turning back towards Harper. “Actually…” Taking out my wallet I pull out a few bills and set them into her hand.

“Here’s seventy-five for a down payment.  If it costs more we’ll discuss in a few days about payment.  If it costs less well, I’ll open an account or something because if I break them someone’s going to have to repair it right?”  Right. They were probably going to cost more.  Either way I picked up the stereo.  “Thanks for the work.”   I wait for a moment. “So same drill as the first. I walk ahead of you and you see me out?”