Mad Love

The Joke

My plan to catch Batman is surprisingly easier to figure out than over half of the other plans that I had thought of. My plan is pretty simple actually, it only involves two henchmen, a strong sedative, and an abandoned building. There's much more to it than that, but it can be roughly summed up with those three things.

I'm not going to kill the Batman or unmask him or anything like that. I'm only going to capture him and hang him up on display, sort of like a present. The Joker would probably be furious if I did anything more to his favorite hero, but I want to show him that I can at least handle myself around Gotham's Dark Knight. Hopefully he'll be impressed if I manage to catch the one person that other criminals only dream of catching. Although, I suppose I do have the advantage of being relatively unknown compared to the other criminals.

It had only taken me around two weeks to prepare, but most of that time was spent out looking for tall abandoned buildings. It had taken me about eight or nine days to find the perfect building. It's only five stories tall, but I want Batman to be able to see over at least part of the city. The five story abandoned factory is the best I can do, considering that there aren't many abandoned skyscrapers around.

Everything is set in place for my big plan. I had left some of the details alone, leaving those up to fate, but the general outline of the plan is set. The only thing left to do now is to act.

"How long do we have to sit here for?" one goon, whose name I learned was Bernie, whines from behind his clown mask. I sigh heftily from my tied up spot on the roof of the building. The sky has only just turned dark, Batman will be out on the prowl soon. We have to give him at least a few more minutes to rise from wherever it is he stays during the day. I don't want to accidentally die on behalf of Batman's tardiness.

"Go ahead and call," I allot. "But I swear, if either of you double cross me or mess up this plan, I will slaughter your families. Are we clear?" I snap. I can't tell if I actually mean that yet, but let's all just hope that we don't have to find out.

"You're acting just like the boss," he grumbles. On second thought, he adds, "Actually, I think you might be crazier. He's never asked us to throw him off a building before." He pulls out a cell phone and walks over to me. "I thought you wanted Batman to show up, not the cops."

"I do, that's the whole point of me not being on the phone long enough for the cops to trace it," I retort. He stares at me blankly, clearly not understanding any part of the actual schematics. "Batman has more advanced technology than the police and he'll probably be listening into one of the police lines," I tell him slowly, allowing him to comprehend. "If I call the police and tell them I'm being held captive on a building by the Joker's men, chances are that they'll report it right away. Batman will pick up on anything Joker related and will probably be able to trace the call, which will lead him here."

"Uh-huh," Bernie grumbles, beginning to dial 911.

"Hang up as soon as I say something about clowns," I instruct quietly as the phone begins to ring. Bernie nods and puts the phone on speaker. Someone picks up a split moment before the third ring.

"Gotham City 911, what's your emergency?"

"Help! Please help!" I shout, pouring panic and desperation into my voice. "I'm on a roof, men in clown masks have-"

The goon ends the call and the line goes dead. "Nice acting," he tells me, chucking the phone off of the roof. I can faintly hear it shatter and break on the concrete five stories below. "What do we do now?"

"We wait," I reply simply. "Set me up near the ledge first, though. When he comes, he'll come quietly. You need to be able to throw me off as soon as possible, which is why Kurt over there," I point towards the second goon, "is standing somewhat far away. He's our bait. Batman will attack him first, giving you the chance to throw me off the roof."

"What did you say about bait?" Kurt demands.

"You joined this career for money," I shoot towards him. "Did you really expect to be given a more important role?"

"I didn't join to die for you," he retorts. "I didn't join to die at all, but certainly not for you."

"Batman doesn't kill people," I tell him in a condescending tone. "That's his one rule, remember?"

Kurt grumbles to himself then retreats into silence. I debate screaming or kicking at Bernie with my cuffed hands and legs to make my kidnapping appear more realistic, but in reality, I don't think I'd do that. Not with being so close to the ledge anyway. Bernie glances at his watch and sighs loudly, making it incredibly hard not to glare at him. I resort to bringing my knees up and burying my face in them to avoid the struggle of a convincing expression all together.

A few minutes trickle by and just when I'm tempted to give up, there's a soft thud from behind Bernie. I spot the caped crusader in front of a clearly unconscious Kurt. "Let her go," Batman growls as Bernie holds me over the edge of the building.

"Sure thing," he retorts. He unhooks his arms from around me, letting me tumble quickly towards the rising earth. I let out an earsplitting screech and as the ground continues to rise up at me, I begin to get worried that the Batman won't catch me.

Two incredibly strong arms wrap themselves around me and flip me around, shielding me from the danger of the ground. Batman glides us over towards a shut dumpster, where he takes me most of the impact of the fall. He breathes heavily for a few moments, as do I, but other than that, he seems virtually unharmed, which is a good thing.

"Are you okay?" he asks in his typical raspy growl.

"Yeah, yeah," I assure him, real shakiness faltering into my voice as I sit up. "I'm okay. Are you?"

The Batman chuckles in response and slides easily off of the tall dumpster. I slide forward and jump, but before my ankles ring in pain from the pavement, his familiar strong arms catch me. He sets me down on the concrete and I glance up towards the roof. Thankfully, it appears that neither of the two goons have stopped to gawk at us.

Batman follows my gaze up towards the roof. "They're probably long gone by now," he tells me reassuringly, pulling some sort of sharp, silver object out of his belt. It's in the shape of a bat and I realize that it's one of the "pesky" batarangs the criminals talk about. "Give me your hands," he instructs and I stretch my zip tie cuffed hands towards him. In one swift motion, he brings the batarang down and slices the bond open. I let the zip tie fall to the ground as he leans down and does the same thing to my ankle cuffs.

"Aren't you the Joker's psychiatrist?" Batman asks, reattaching the batarang to his belt.

"I was," I reply. "Unfortunately, I no longer work at Arkham Asylum. Dr. Arkham's become obsessive and paranoid about the Joker. He's got this big conspiracy that I'm somehow aiding the Joker," I tell him with a laugh. On a solemn note, I add, "That's why he fired me, even though the only proof he has is that one of the Joker's henchmen is blonde and a girl."

"Hmm," Batman gruffs.

"Sorry for the rambling," I quickly apologize. "I'm sure you've got places to be, people to save. Thanks for saving me. Here, let me give you something." Batman quickly protests as I dig around in my pockets. I uncap the syringe that lies in my back pocket and slide it up my sleeve. "Damn, I thought I had some cash on me."

"There's really no need for payment."

"How about a hug instead?" I question with a smile. "Come on, even heroes need hugs too. It's the least I can do, really." I hold my arms out and Batman grumbles under his breath, making no move to hug me. I lean towards him and my hand shoots up quickly, syringe at the ready. I jam the needle into the tiny bit of exposed flesh beneath his chin and push the plunger down hastily, forcing all of the high dose sedative into his system.

"What is that?" Batman growls as I pull the syringe out of his neck.

"It's a concentrated dose of Thorazine," I reply, pocketing the syringe. "Since it's used to bring down the restlessly and violently insane, I figured it would work on you just fine. I amplified the dose a bit, considering you're rather big, but don't worry, it won't kill you. It'll just make you more... manageable."

I watch as Batman's eyes flutter and he sways a bit. "Why?" he asks, resting one hand against the alley wall, trying to steady himself. I'm not surprised that the drug hasn't knocked him out instantly. He's a larger man and judging by what some of the criminals in this town have sprayed him with, I'm guessing he's more resistant to medicine as well. The sedative will work, I'm sure of that, it'll just take longer for it to fully kick in.

"I'm proving to the Joker that I can do something on my own," I reply simply. "If I impress him, he's going to let me help out more. He's going to help me create a name for myself in this city. I've even picked out a costume. You'll see it when you wake up. It's nothing special really and it needs a lot of work, but it's something for now. You ever hear of Infantino's Costumes?"

Batman doesn't reply, so I continue on anyway. "It's a cute little shop, but it doesn't really fit in with its surroundings. It's down in the richer part of town across from Chez Infantino's. You remember that restaurant, don't 'cha B-Man?" Again, no response. "Anyway, the shop's run down and tiny compared to the rest of the buildings, but it's a neat little store. It's a year round costume shop, those are hard to find around here. I suspect it helps out the criminal community a lot, considering the outfits and greasepaint and whatnot." I let out a laugh. "Wouldn't it be funny if the store was run by the mob?"

Batman stumbles and falls to the ground, a low groan coming from him. "Oh well, I thought that'd be funny," I murmur to myself. "You really don't have much of a sense of humor, do ya Batsy?"

He doesn't reply and remains still on the ground. I nudge him with the tip of my shoe, but he doesn't move. "Sleeping like a baby," I mutter. "Kurt, Bernie!" I snap loudly, calling my two goons over to me. Bernie's head peeks out from around the corner of the building and once he sees that Batman is sedated, he comes over to me.

"Holy shit," Bernie gasps, kicking Batman's lifeless figure. "You actually did it. No offense, but I was really doubting your skills. I didn't think anyone could catch the sucker, let alone a pretty little thing like yourself. No wonder the boss is keeping you around."

"Thanks, Bernie," I reply, grateful that at least one of the goons doesn't think that I'm some slutty blonde bimbo. "Where's Kurt?"

"He's getting the rope to tie up Batman with. He'll be back in a minute or two," he says. I nod, keeping a careful watch on Batman. I have another sedative in my pocket just in case this one wears off, but I'm wary about giving him two sedatives. Two of these sedatives could kill a full grown horse and I'm not so sure that even Batman can live through that. Once his hands are tied, we won't have to worry about sedatives, though, which is why I'm antsy for Kurt's return.

"Whoa," Kurt calls, entering the alleyway. I breathe a sigh of relief. "You actually caught the bastard."

Had everyone really been doubting my abilities that much?

"Indeed, I did," I retort, standing up to take the rope from him. I roll Batman onto his back and bring his hands together. I loop the rope around his wrists a few times and tie several separate knots tightly, then tug on the bond, making sure he can't get away. With the longer rope, I do the same thing to his feet, except I leave a long strand of rope undone for later.

"Let's get him inside," I instruct the two goons. "We've got to get him up to the fifth floor."

Kurt grabs Batman's legs and Bernie grabs his torso. Together they lift the muscled man and slowly, but surely, carry him into the abandoned building. They groan loudly and have to take several breaks as we go up the stairs, but eventually we make it. They set him down near the large glass back wall that overlooks part of Gotham. I watch in amusement as Bernie and Kurt huff and pant, their faces red with strain and sweat.

"Good work boys," I thank them generously. With a smile, I add, "Now, string him up from the ceiling." I point to the firmly placed steel rod I had the two of them install a few days prior. I'm pretty certain that the five foot long, one foot wide, and six inch deep steel rod drilled heavily into the ceiling will hold even Batman's weight.

"Are you joking?" Kurt demands.

"Me?" I ask in mock shock. "Never."

Scowling at my sarcasm, he asks, "How do you expect us to hang him up there?"

"Well, there's a ladder over there," I tell him, pointing to the ladder I propped up against the far wall yesterday. "I'll help steady the ladder while the two of you thread the rope over the steel rod and then pull him up by it. Think of it as a pulley system. When you get him high enough, me and one of you will hold him up while the other person ties the rope as tight as they can around the rod. Sound good?"

"That sounds like a pain in the ass," Kurt replies and Bernie seconds the comment with a huff.

"Is the Joker paying you to complain?" I demand, crossing my arms.

"The Joker's hardly paying us at all," he retorts.

"Let me rephrase that. Is the Joker keeping you alive to complain?" Kurt grumbles to himself, but makes no move to clarify what he said. "Right, I didn't think so. Tell me gentlemen, who's the strongest?"

"Why?" I can hear a small hint of nervousness in Kurt's voice.

"Because," I begin with a smile, "they're going to be the one helping me hold Batman up of course. I'd hate for one of the people holding Batman up to lose their grip and send one of you two flying. It's better we don't take any chances."

Both goons look at each other simultaneously, a hint of nervousness in their expressions.

I prop my black and red feet up on the chair across from me, taking a sip of black coffee out of the Styrofoam cup that one of the goons brought me. I'm careful not to spill the drink on my newly donned costume, trying to avoid staining it so early. I'm sure it'll get blood stains on it eventually if I don't find a better costume soon, but I'd like Batman, and the Joker for that matter, to see it in all of its newfound glory.

My costume's nothing special, just a few simple items I pieced together from the costume shop. I wear a pair of thick, red and black vertically striped leggings, which I had fallen in love with at the costume shop. On my left foot, I wear a solid red heelless boot and on my right foot I wear the same thing only in black. My shirt consists of a red and black diamond pattern bustier. I put my hair up in pigtails, just for the fun of it, and left my face mainly free of makeup. The only makeup I have on is a bit of loose white powder to make me seem more jesteresque, some red lipstick with black around the edges, and a thin line of eyeliner.

Batman groans in front of me and I look up in surprise, setting my coffee down on the floor beside me. "You had me worried there, B-Man," I tell him, somewhat truthfully. I had thought that a man of his size would be out for thirty minutes tops, but he had been out for a good hour and a half. He was out so long, I had to have the goons lower him to the ground a couple of times so that the blood didn't rush to his head. "I thought you'd never wake up."

"Dr. Quinzel?" he realizes, his memories just now coming back.

"Call me Harley, everyone does," I reply. "Dr. Harleen Quinzel is such a mouthful of a name, I prefer Harley Quinn to it. It's shorter and has more... finesse. That and it's pretty suiting now, huh?" I pick up the burn phone that I had brought off of the floor and begin to dial the number to one of the henchmen in the wool factory.

"Where am I?" Batman demands.

"Shh. I'm on the phone," I quickly hush as the line begins to ring.

"Hello?" a voice answers grumpily.

"Put the Joker on the line," I instruct. "Tell him it's important. Tell him that Harley's got a surprise for him." The goon on the other end grumbles and I faintly hear him beginning to thud up the stairs. He knocks on one of the Joker's doors and I hear the warm, familiar sound of his voice calling him in. The goon relays my information and hands the Joker the phone.

"Joker residence," he greets with a short cackle of laughter. "Harley, dear, is that you?"

"It's me," I tell him, smiling to myself. "I've got a big surprise for you."

"What kind of surprise?" he asks, intrigued. I can practically hear him smiling on the other end of the phone.

"The kind that will impress you," I hint. "There's an abandoned office building on Stone Holt Avenue, it's only about a fifteen minute drive. I'll be up on the top floor waiting."

"Will it just be us... or will my men still be there?"

"It'll be just you, me, and our special guest," I reply quietly, picking up the gun in my lap. "See you soon." I hang up the phone and sit up, pointing the gun at Kurt first. BANG! Bernie screams, but before he can defend himself, I aim the gun towards him. BANG! Both goons fall limply to the floor, their breathing ragged. I hadn't managed to hit either of them directly in the heart, but I hit close enough to it that both of them would die within the next minute or two. I stand up and push the two chairs near me aside, turning my attention towards Batman. I cross my arms and smile widely at him, taking a moment to bask in my achievement.

"You think that the Joker's going to like your surprise?" Batman asks.

"Mm-hmm," I quip, taking another sip of coffee. "I doubt he'd be too happy if he showed up and I didn't have anything here, so if you're thinking of me letting you go, forget it."

"You were his greatest victim," Batman tells me in realization.

"I'm not a victim," I retort, setting my coffee back down. "The Joker didn't kidnap me or threaten me into this. I want to be here."


"The world's not what I thought it was," I reply. "It's foul and corrupt and everyone has some twisted sense of what's right and what's wrong. I don't want to be a part of that anymore, not that I was a part of it knowingly in the first place, but my views have changed since then. I don't want to help these people, I want to show them that they aren't all cracked up to what they think they are, that deep down they're just as bad as the rest of us."

Batman laughs, the sound short and snide. I've never heard him laugh before, and I don't think that I like it. "Did the Joker teach you that?" he asks.

"He helped me to see the world as it truly is," I reply. "Everyone else showed me that he was right."

"That's why you're doing this?" Batman deduces. "You're going show the world that I'm not as good as I'm cracked up to be?" I can hear a hint of mocking in his voice, something that subtly says I-dare-you-to-try.

"No, that's not what this is about," I retort, hopefully much to his surprise. "I'm showing J that I'm capable of doings things on my own. He said that I have to do something noteworthy to impress him and prove myself and if I successfully do that, he'll let me have my big reveal to the world. Once I'm known as Harley Quinn, I can do more to help him. Maybe I'll even make a few plans of my own."

Batman laughs again and the sound makes me nervous. "You really think that the Joker is going to share his limelight with you?"

"Yes, we're partners," I reply and much to my dismay, my voice goes up at the end, making me sound unsure of myself. "You might think I'm just another disposable henchman, but I'm not. The Joker likes me, he thinks I'm more than these," I gesture to the dead henchmen, "mindless fools. They can't orchestrate anything, but I can and the Joker will see that soon."

"Don't you see what he's done to you, Harley?" Batman questions. "Don't you see that he's used you?"

"He hasn't used me," I defend. "I sought him out on my own after Dr. Arkham suspended me. I found him purely by accident, but deep down I was always looking for him. His ideals make ten times more sense than yours do."

"He's just using you," Batman tells me. "Once you've served your purpose, he'll toss you away just like everyone else."

"No he won't," I argue diligently. "Mr. J likes me and I love him. He won't throw me away, he likes having me around."

"He doesn't like you, he's using you. You're nothing but a project to him," Batman sneers. "You were just a challenge to him. He wanted to see how far he could break an Arkham doctor, how far he could push you. Once he grows tired and unamused with you, he'll throw you away and move on to the next challenge. Don't you get it? You were his big plan all along."

"If his plan was to make me a better, clearer me, then his plan worked," I retort.

"His plan was to bend and break you. Don't you see, Harleen? Your big reveal is just going to be him showing the world how far he can push a person, how far he can take someone so promising and bring them down to his world of madness," Batman tells me. "You're just an example, a challenge. You mean nothing to him."

"Shut up," I snap angrily. "You don't know what you're talking about you big stupid bat. You'll see, when Mr. J gets here, he's going to be proud of me."

"Or maybe he'll be furious," Batman replies.

"Why would he be furious?" I ask, surprised by his response. "I caught you fair and square. I set you up so that you could overlook the city. You're hanging upside down to make your scowl turn into a grin. I took care of the henchmen. I did everything right! Why would he possibly be angry?"

"You captured me," he replies simply. "That's something he's never been able to do. Don't you think that might make him angry?"

"He could capture you if he wanted to capture you," I reply, somewhat unsure now.

"Then why hasn't he?"

"He doesn't have a reason to."

"But you do?" Batman challenges. "If he doesn't have a reason to hold me captive, why would he be impressed by you handing me over to him?"

"It's not- I'm not," I begin, frustrated by his remark. "He doesn't have to have a reason to hold you captive. I'm just showing him that I'm capable of planning and executing things on my own. You can do some miraculous escape or something once I'm done with you."

"Sounds like you didn't plan out an ending to this little plan of yours," Batman observes.

"That's enough," I snap. "No more talking until Mr. J gets here." I snatch up the roll of duct tape on the floor and rip a piece off. I smack it over Batman's mouth, silencing his irritating remarks. He'll see soon enough that Mr. J really does like me, that he really is proud of me.

Ten minutes trickle quietly past before the door is loudly flung open. "Harley," the Joker calls, entering the room. I grin and make my way towards him. He grins widely, but as his gaze falls on Batman, it vanishes. He's just surprised, I tell myself worriedly. Just let it sink in.

"Hiya Puddin'," I greet happily, pushing aside my nervousness. I walk towards him and go to throw my arms around him, but his hand collides against the side of my face hard. The force of the slap knocks me off balance and I fall to the concrete floor. I look up at him in surprise, holding my reddening, stinging cheek with one hand.

I stand up slowly, surprised to find tears brimming at the corners of my eyes. "I- I don't understand," I stammer, watching the Joker's angry figure warily. His nostrils are flared, his jaw is clenched, and those intense brown eyes burn into mine. "I did what you said. I planned something big and I executed it. I didn't hurt B-Man or anything. I just caught him and tied him up... for you."

"For me?" he sneers, half incredulous. "I told you to do something big, something powerful, not tie up Gotham's hero," he snaps angrily. "What good is he all tied up?"

"I just thought-"

"You thought what?" he demands, taking a step closer to me. I take a step back in fear. "You thought that you'd try to outsmart me?" He takes another long legged step closer. "You thought you'd do something that you thought I couldn't do?"

"No- no, that's not it at all," I quickly defend. "I just wanted to show you that I could make and do plans. I wanted show you that I could do more, that I could help more with your plans. We're partners, isn't that what partners are supposed to do?"

"You fool," he sneers, inching me closer and closer to the glass windows. "You just don't get the joke."

The Joker shoves me hard and I crash up against the cool pane of the glass window. The glass cracks beneath the force of his shove and shatters loudly into billions of tiny pieces. As the glass gives weigh beneath me, I begin to fall. I reach outward in panic, trying to grab something, anything, but there's nothing to hold on to. The Joker's face looms over me, his expression blank of any emotion and suddenly I get the joke.

I was just the first psychiatrist he saw with a mind more breakable than the rest. I was a toy, an example, a fool. He was never going to let me help make plans. I was the joke all along.

I know that as I fall to the ground no one's coming to save me. Selina and Pam have no idea where I am or what's happening and I tied up the only person capable of saving me at this point. No one's going to swoop down and grab me. There would be no grappling hook wound around my waist. There would be no one to catch me.

I hit the ground hard.

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