On the fifth day of my seven day stay, Dr. Thomas Elliot had indeed shown me his little shop of horrors. I had almost thrown up and I'll admit that I was incredibly disgusted at first, but who was I to judge him? I willingly run around with the Joker, it was only a week ago that I had killed four people and helped him blow up a restaurant. I gave Dr. Elliot my doctoral opinion on the certain circumstances he had shown me, but I had tried to disassociate myself from the patients entirely. It helped, at times, to remember that the patients he had shown me weren't exactly good, but other times I tried to dehumanize them entirely and think of them more as objects in need of fixing. We all have our obsessions. People would think that me running around and causing mayhem with the Joker is crazy. Dr. Elliot skin grafting a mask out of human skin to look exactly like Bruce Wayne out of some sort of hatred towards him would probably get a similar public response.
Sometime during the night of my seventh stay, I had convinced Dr. Elliot to drop me off about fifteen minutes away from the Joker's hideout. He had helped me greatly, but I don't think that the Joker would be so keen on having him know the location of his base of operations. I don't mind the walk, though. It's relatively short, but I take it slow for the most part, which helps keep most of the pain I still have at bay.
After about fifteen minutes or so of walking, I find myself in front of the large factory and my heart soars to see that it's still inhabited by henchmen. I step inside the factory and several heads turn towards me in surprise, others pay me no mind. I step up to the closest henchman and with a smile of anticipation, I ask, "Where's the Joker?"
"He's upstairs. Ya want me to go get him for ya?" he asks, studying my somewhat weak posture. My arm's draped around my stomach loosely and I'm hunched over a bit, guarding the tender flesh. I don't expect anything too violent to happen right away, but you never know.
"No, no," I dismiss. "I can go up there myself." The henchman shrugs and I make my way over to the stairs. I take the stairs one at a time, cautious in the fact that I'm still a teensy tiny bit drugged and could easily fall down them. It takes me a little longer to reach the second floor landing, but it's better late than never. I step towards the Joker's bedroom and peer through the gap between the cracked door and the wall.
The sight of him makes my heart skip a beat, but he appears to be frustrated with something. One hand rests against the wall above the long since working fireplace and in his other hand rests one of his signature knives. He looks good, in a healthy sense. He appears to have gotten some sleep and eaten a few meals, but there's frustration in his eyes. I wonder what or who is bothering him.
The Joker opens his mouth to say something and rises away from the wall, but he shuts his mouth again when his eyes meet mine. "Harley, is that you?"
I grin widely and rush into the room. I throw my arms around the Joker's neck and a rush of warmth and what I think is... love, washes over me. "It's me," I tell him, resting my head against his chest. I'm faintly, but pleasantly surprised when his arms enclose around me in return. His grip is tight and possessive, but I don't mind the discomfort, not with him.
"Clearly, I've missed a lot," the familiar voice of Pamela Isley notes from beside us. I hold on to the Joker for a moment longer, then release. I turn away from him to see the familiar figure of my best friend. She looks ten times better than she had in the asylum and she's wearing surprisingly not her usual dark green, almost black one piece. Instead she's wearing a pair of dark green leggings and a white button up shirt that hangs loosely on her. I have a feeling that she stole the attire recently.
"What are you doing here?" I ask in surprise, keeping one hand wound around the wrist cuff of J's purple jacket. He doesn't seem to mind the closeness, so I keep my hand rested there. However, Pam raises an eyebrow at the gesture, quite blatantly clueless as to what's been going on in her absence.
"I've been trying to find my friends," she replies shortly. "I checked both yours and Selina's place, but the two of you were nowhere to be found. You left your cell phone at home without a clue as to where you were and Selina wouldn't tell me where she was either. Then I saw a lovely little news article about an Arkham doctor suspected of helping the Joker rob a bank. I decided to try my luck here and Mr. Smiles over there told me that you could be dead or alive."
"Yeah," I say slowly. "I'm still alive and I got myself off of the hook for that bank robbery."
"Harley," she names flatly, crossing her arms.
"Yeah?" I reply, feeling like a child in trouble.
"Would you care to explain what in the hell is going on here."
"Um, that's kind of a long story. A lot's happened since you were, uh, incarcerated."
"I've got time."
"Well, after I checked on you in the Asylum, Dr. Arkham suspended me. Then Selina convinced me to go burn down your hideout with her, considering that our fingerprints were all over it and that if they found your chemicals they might make some horrible weapon with them. We cleared the important stuff out of your hideout, but Selina got caught by the police. I burned down your hideout with a bazooka then followed the cops-"
"A bazooka? Where the hell did you get a bazooka?"
"Uh," I smile sheepishly towards the Joker. "It was a Christmas present."
"Uh-huh," Pam replies, unamused.
"Anyway, I followed the two cops and ended up poisoning them. They had already shot Selina in the leg by then, so we had to burn away her blood evidence and stuff there too. Then I made a deal with Thomas Elliot, you know, one of the Arkham benefactors? He's one of Gotham's richest men, he practically owns Gotham Memorial."
"What kind of deal did you make with him?"
"We agreed to be allies. He helps me out of a jam, I help him out of a jam, that kind of thing. Anyway, I got him to surgically remove the bullet fragment from Selina's leg and while he was doing that, I went for a walk and found this place. And well, here I am."
"That doesn't explain why your clown friend over here thought that you might be dead."
"Oh, right. We, uh, blew up a restaurant that Dr. Arkham's wife was in and he got mad and sort of ran me over. It's alright, though, Dr. Elliot fixed all the internal bleeding," I assure her. The Joker chuckles, probably at how nonchalantly I put that, and I can't help but grin myself. Pam, on the other hand, doesn't look so amused.
"Selina got shot, you blew up my hideout with a bazooka, poisoned two cops, set another house on fire, robbed a bank, blew up a restaurant, and were hit by a car in the past month," she confirms flatly.
"Well, yes." Then after a moment, I add, "I killed a few people too. Oh, and if you want your toxins and stuff, they're under my bed."
"Right," she agrees slowly. "Where's Selina?"
"Um. That's kind of a long story too."
"Alright, alright," I surrender. "She's at Bruce Wayne's mansion."
Pam peers at me for a long, suspicious moment. "Let me make sure that I've got this right. Selina, the professional thief, is staying at the richest man in Gotham's house. And you, an Arkham Asylum doctor, are staying here and assisting your ex-patient in causing mayhem."
"That pretty much sums it up."
"Ah, well, it's nice to know that once I leave everything goes to hell." After a moment, she adds, "I can't decide whether this is good or bad. Oh well, at least you got out of that nuthouse, although you did kind of join another one. If you're happy... I'll keep my thoughts to myself. Let's take a walk," she suggests. "There's a lot we need to catch up on."
I glance up at the Joker but Pam quickly stops me before either of us can say anything. "If there's a problem with her leaving, we can settle it right now," she snaps towards him.
"Uh, Harley dear, go ahead," he tells me with a smile. He leans down towards me and whispers in my ear, "But make sure not to bring that one back. She puts a bit of a damper on the place, don't ya think?"
I giggle and the Joker grins, but Pam remains unamused. She grabs me by the arm and pulls me out of the room, much to my surprise. "Whoa there, I just had surgery a week ago," I remind her as she begins to tug me down the stairs. "Moving too fast could pop my stitches." Her pace slows slightly, but it's still too quick for comfort.
"Where are we going?" I ask as she leads me out of the factory and towards the woods behind it.
"Somewhere more... peaceful," she replies, pulling me into the depths of the trees. "I can't think with all of that horrid smoke in there. It's not just cigarette smoke either, they're puffing those damned cigars too. Do you know how bad that is for the environment? Those things are just so... ugh. It took all my will power not to strangle those men. I gave them a piece of my mind though, you bet I did."
"Oh, I believe you," I assure her. Knowing Pam, she probably ranted and chewed out a whole group of henchmen for a good five to ten minutes. "Really, Red, can you please slow down. My stitches are really starting to hurt and I promise you, I'm not just saying that because I don't want to hike through the woods."
"Fine," she sighs, as if it's the greatest burden in the world to slow down, then shoots me a smirk. "Don't worry city-child, we're almost there. I'm sure you can make it without your poor little stitches popping," she mocks.
"Hey, I was hit by a car," I remind her flatly. "That shit hurts."
"I was poisoned... for a month," she retorts.
"Alright, if we're going to have a pissing contest then we might as well include Selina. I mean, she did get shot in the leg after all," I reply jokingly. Pam laughs as we come to a grassy clearing. She waltzes into the middle of the clearing and plops down, patting the space in front of her. I go over and sit down slowly, careful not to bust anything in doing so.
"We're here," she tells me, expanding her arms out to gesture at our lovely surroundings. She takes in a deep breath and sighs wistfully. "Mm, can't you smell that?"
I take a deep huff of air, but all I smell is the crisp night air. "Smell what?" I indulge.
"Nature," she replies with a passion. "The plants are growing all around us. It's magnificent."
"Right," I agree, glancing around us. I don't spot anything too extraordinary about this place, but then again, I had never been one for nature. "So, what did you want to catch up on?" I ask, attempting to break her out of her nature haze.
"Just, you know, little things," she replies, stroking the blades of glass between her fingers fondly. "Like you throwing your arms around a psychotic clown in what appeared to be a loving embrace for example."
"Oh, that," I reply sheepishly. It feels odd talking to Pam about this, incredibly odd. "Why don't we talk about you first?" I suggest.
"I escaped four days ago and aside from planning a big bang to welcome me back into the unsuspecting world, I've been looking for you and Selina," she replies. "That's all that I've got to tell. Now tell me about you and the Joker."
"J makes sense to me," I reply simply. "He helped me to see the world as it truly is, corrupt and under an illusion of false goodness. His ideas, his thoughts, they make sense to me more than anything else. I like the way he works, the way he thinks, the way he goes about doing things. He's fascinating and beautiful and so much more than the monster everyone's pegged him to be."
"You sound like you're in love with the guy."
"I think that I might be," I reply warily, the sound of me saying it aloud suddenly making the feeling seem so much more real.
Pam's mouth drops a little bit and she touches my wrist in a friendly gesture. "You know that this kind of lifestyle is dangerous and you know that people like me and the Joker get caught at times, but are you really ready to be a part of that?" she asks sincerely. "One day you might find yourself on the other side of the Plexiglas walls at Arkham, Harls. I mean, is it worth it? Is it really worth it?"
"I don't want to go back and work that place. I don't want to be a part of all the injustices and cruelties now that I can see them. I'd rather be behind those walls than behind a desk under Dr. Jeremiah Arkham's control," I answer truthfully. "I want to do this. I want to be with J. I think it's worth it, to be here with him, to help him with his plans."
"If you want to do this, then I'm all for it. I don't exactly want you to be with the Joker of all people, but if you, uh, love him, then I think that I can try to look past it. But if he hurts you," she warns. "Has he hurt you before?"
"Well, kind of," I reply. "But he usually only does it to make a point or to get something out of me. He does it when he thinks that he has to," I finish. "It's fine, Pam, don't worry about that kind of thing. He's had plenty of opportunities to kill me. If he wanted to get rid of me, he already would've."
She opens her mouth to say something, then closes it again. "You really want to do this? You really want to throw away everything to be with this clown?"
"Yes, I do," I answer. "Besides, my involvement with him is still under wraps, I haven't had my big reveal yet. I haven't quite thrown everything away yet, aside from my job, considering my boss hit me with his car and threatened to shoot me. But yes, when the time comes for the world to know who I am, I'm willing to throw everything away. Well, not everything. I'll still have you and Selina, wont I?"
"Of course you will," she replies with a grin. "What is it that he's calling you now? Harley Quinn?" I nod and she continues. "Welcome to the darker side of Gotham, Harley Quinn. You were once a white sheep amongst a herd of black, but you've finally sprouted your colors and joined the rest of us no good, law breaking, murderous, unhinged, ruthless madmen." She laughs loudly then adds, "Just think, now you don't have to sneak out in the wee hours of the night to come see me."
"We can finally go get coffee together," I agree with a chuckle. "I mean, we'd have to take control of the coffee shop, but we could get some free coffee out of it."
"Once this big reveal of yours happens and you get a costume, Selina, you, and I will storm the town. The cat, the clown, and the crazy plant lady."
I laugh, knowing that no matter what happens, my true friends will be there for me, which is ironically only something I can say about my criminal friends. Not once in my entire life have I trusted anyone more than them. It's funny, isn't it? How the people that the world looks down on are the people I look up to?
I push hard against the Joker, shoving his knife wielding self away from me. He falls against the bed and I seize the opportunity to crawl on top of him and pin him down. In one swift gesture, I bend his wrist back and he drops the knife, which I quickly scoop up and press against his neck. I've done it. I've finally gotten the knife away from him. After a month of training, I'm finally successful.
"Hiya Puddin'," I coo, pressing the knife harder against his throat. "Looks like I finally beat 'cha."
The Joker manages to free one of his arms from my pin and grabs me around the back and flips us over. "Not quite," he muses, pinning me down in return. His lips are so close to mine and the idea of kissing him is so incredibly tempting, but I can't. We're training, that just wouldn't be... ethical.
I grip the knife firmly in my hand and wind my leg around the back of his knee. I kick in, not hard enough to hurt him, but enough to allow me a split second of control over him. I flip us back over and dig my knees into the sides of his stomach hard, resuming the stance of having the knife pressed against his throat. He licks his lips, those soft looking lips, in amusement.
"Mm, now that you've, uh, got me, what are you going to do?"
I think for a moment, then decide to take his advice about taking what I want. I drop the knife and lean down, pressing my lips hard against his. After a moment of unresponsive surprise, his lips move in unison with mine. He rolls us over, pinning me down with his body weight as his kisses come in quick, but rough. His lips are just as wonderful as I remember.
He breaks the kiss to look down at me. "Ya know, that tactic isn't going to work on everyone."
"Shut up," I growl, bringing his lips back to mine. He chuckles against my lips, the feeling somewhat ticklish and I can't help but grin as we kiss. My body molds against his and my lips are quick and responsive. He lets out a low growl at my response and bites down at my neck. I shiver and draw him as close to me as possible, never wanting to let go.
I wake up groggily beside the Joker, who I fondly notice has fallen asleep with his arm wound around my waist. "J?" I call softly, turning gently to see if he's awake.
"Mm," he replies, those intense brown eyes of his wide awake and staring at me. "What is it my dear?" he asks, standing up and shoving his feet into a pair of heart boxers. I smile at the sight and sit up, faintly noticing that parts of me are sore. I touch my neck and feel several tender areas in the shape of fingers and several bite marks. I glance beneath the covers to see that several fingertip shaped bruises maim my stomach and arms in various places as well. I smile to myself, considering the bruises territorial marks. The Joker's also got a few of his own, I notice happily. Several bite marks on his neck satisfy me with the feeling that he's mine. All mine.
"When do I get my big reveal?" I ask, craning my head to look up at him as he gets dressed. "I want to do more here. I want to be a bigger help."
"That all depends on you," he replies, looking for a matching pair of socks.
"Me?" I repeat, glancing around the floor for my clothes as well. I spot my pants near the bed, but I don't bother putting them on yet.
"Mm-hmm," he replies, tugging on his purple coat. "It all depends on if you earn it. Ya know, you can't just be a big name in this town. Ya gotta do something to earn the title. But don't do it for those people, no, no, they won't appreciate it. Uh, impress me with something first. Then, if I think you're ready, we'll show the entire world," he promises.
"What do I do to earn the title?"
"Blow something important up, make the people turn on themselves, kidnap a lawyer on camera or somethin'. I don't know, the idea is all up to you. Consider the idea a, uh, stepping stone towards sending a message. Delivering that message... now that's fun part," he tells me with a wink.
"Is there a deadline or something?"
The Joker laughs hard for a few long moments, as if that's the most ridiculous question he's ever heard. "Harley, dear, we don't exactly follow a, uh, schedule around here in case you haven't noticed."
"Right," I agree slowly, feeling like somewhat of an idiot. "Can I borrow some of your henchmen if I need to?"
"Hmm," he taps a finger against his chin contemplatively. "I'll let you have two of the weaker ones. If you need more, you'll have to, uh, recruit them. It would be an unfair advantage if I lent you all of my resources, don't ya think?"
"I suppose so," I agree absentmindedly. "Should I tell you my plan or-"
The Joker claps a purple gloved hand over my mouth, swiftly cutting my off. "Don't think about it so much," he chides. "That's where people fail. They get all wrapped up in the tiny little details and that throws the entire big scheme right out the window. 'Cause when things go wrong around the little details, it seems like the entire thing is crashing down when it's not. No, no, they're not equipped to deal with the, uh, change in plan. They let the plan collapse in on itself. The little details and meticulous planning are what will get ya caught with your hand in the cookie jar."
He removes his hand from my mouth, smacks his lips together, and walks over to the door. "As for your last question, surprise me. Surprises are much more fun than plans." With that, he leaves the bedroom and thankfully shuts the door behind him. With thoughts running rampant through my mind, I sink back beneath the covers of the makeshift bed and attempt to come up with some sort of idea.
What would impress the Joker? I think to myself. Hmm, I'm pretty sure I impressed him when I up and joined him in his criminal activities, but I can't exactly do that again. What's a real showstopper? I ask myself. What would you be impressed to see... or well, mortified. I suppose those things coincide with each other frequently in this line of work.
I try to think of something outrageous I can do to turn the people on each other, like how the Joker tried to get cruise passengers on one boat and prisoners on another boat to blow up each other. Unfortunately, I haven't a clue as to how I would go about orchestrating something like that. I suppose I could blow up the subway if the passengers inside didn't vote on a single person to kill, but I have no idea whatsoever as to how bombs work. I wouldn't even know how to go about finding someone who knows how bombs work, which throws that idea out the window.
I could kill the head of the DA's office or burn down half of Arkham Asylum, but I don't think either of those ideas are quite the showstopper. I could hang Dr. Arkham or someone else of stature from one of Gotham's skyscrapers, but that seems like a bad idea in itself. Robbing a bank on my own would prove to be challenging for me, but it would be too simple compared to the Joker's standards. Everything that I come up with ends up a dead end.
I groan and get out of bed, knowing that I can't sit here and stress over this all morning. Good ideas take time, I assure myself as I find and pull on my undergarments. I shove my feet into my pants and shrug my shirt back on. I grab a knife off of the fireplace mantle, choosing one of the Joker's lesser used ones, and shove it in my right boot. I head downstairs, hoping that an early morning (or at least I think it's still morning) walk might jolt an idea.
"Where are you going?" one of the goons calls suspiciously. "Leaving so quick after last night?"
Last night? Oh, right. The henchmen probably could hear us. I'm almost embarrassed... almost. I would be much more mortified if I actually cared what they thought, which I don't. The Joker certainly didn't care, so why should I? Then again, no one would dare crack a remark at the Joker. Hmm, maybe they'd get to that point of fear with me one day. Or maybe the Joker could just beat him up and teach him a lesson. Whichever comes first is fine by me.
"I'm going for a walk," I tell him. "Don't worry, though. I'll be back soon. Unlike you fellas, I've got more important things to think about besides money and booze. Not everyone's crime life can be as simple as yours."
"Is that so?" he quips, crossing his arms. I smile to myself at the thought of knowing that if he wanted to fight me I could actually take him, courtesy of the Joker's brutal training of course. I don't want to fight him, but I'm satisfied in knowing that I can if push comes to shove.
"Yeah, it is."
"I thought you had a job to get to. Ya know, the one where you sleep with all of the freaks and crazies?"
"First of all, if you consider psychiatrists to be that way from personal experience, you should probably talk to someone about that," I begin. "Secondly, I helped blow up (it turns out the explosion didn't kill Mrs. Arkham, it just burned her incredibly badly and ruined almost all of her major organs) my boss's wife. I think it's safe to assume that I'm fired."
"You're funny," he says snidely, not an ounce of humor in his tone. "You're not going to be laughing when the boss kicks you aside and all of us," by us I'm assuming the henchmen, "are still here rolling in money."
"You think I'm here for money?" I ask him with a short laugh. "I'm here because I want to be here. I'm not delusional enough to believe that someone's going to pay me the big bucks when they have the opportunity to kill me instead."
"Well, maybe I ought to kill you before the boss does," he quips. "I've been here a week and I haven't seen a ban on you."
"You really aren't that bright, are you?" I ask in disbelief. He scowls and I dig the knife out of my right boot, sighing as I do so. "Do we really have to fight, I'm kind of busy." He lunges towards me and I take that as a yes.
I flip to the side, easily side stepping him. I roll behind him and savagely kick in the back of one of his knees. He howls in pain and I quickly jab at the back of his other knee. He falls to the ground and I efficiently jam my knife into his thigh, ending the fight in record time. Compared to the Joker's swift movements and calculated skills, this goon pales in comparison.
"Are we done here?" I ask, somewhat impatient. He looks near to tears from pain and I sigh to myself. Did he really think that in this job of all jobs that he wouldn't get hurt? Even I, a newbie to the criminal world, hadn't set myself up that short.
"Why don't you just kill me?" he spits as I quickly rip the knife out of his leg. He lets out an unmanly whimper and I clean the blade off on his shirt. It probably would've been more satisfying to watch him try to pry the knife out of his own leg, but I need it in case I run into any questionable characters on my walk for inspiration.
"As appealing as that sounds, you're not my property," I retort, knowing that the Joker might not be too happy if I kill off one of his goons. Although, considering that this goon probably won't be able to run or move quickly now, the Joker might just kill him off himself. "You want to know the funny part about your situation?" I ask, jamming the knife back into my boot.
"What?""You managed to piss off the only doctor in this entire house," I tell him with a grin. "Looks like you're going to have to stitch and clean your own self up." And with that final comment, I exit the factory and start down towards where Dr. Elliot operated on Selina. I don't expect to find anything particularly jolting in that house, but maybe the abandoned market place with spring some sort of idea.
I walk aimlessly through the market streets, occasionally entering some of the stores. I haven't found anything mind stirring yet, only cobwebs and dust. I sigh and rest my hand against one of the abandoned buildings, glancing around for any kind of inspiration. You'd think having the freedom to come up with some amazing criminal plan would be easy- the idea part at least, but my mind has gone completely blank.
I spot a somewhat interesting abandoned building further down the way, but as I remove my hand from the wall to start towards the building, something dusty comes off with it. I glance down to see that my hand is coated in what appears to be white chalk. I turn my head to look at the wall that I was leaning on and spot a now somewhat deformed Batman symbol. It's nothing ornate or artistically inclined, it could have even been drawn by a child, but it gives me an idea.I'm going to catch the Batman.