Pain. There is so much pain. I can't tell which of it is physical and which of it is mental, but it burns fiercely throughout me, waking me from a deep sleep. It hurts to move, it hurts to breathe. It just hurts.
"Harley," a familiar voice calls softly, the noise faint through the pain. I know the voice, but I can't place my finger on whose it is. "Harley, can you hear me? If you can, try to open your eyes," the voice coaxes.
I allow my eyelids to flutter open and I'm faced with a harsh, bright light. I cringe, shutting my eyes tightly as the memories begin to flood back to me. Capturing Batman. Killing the goons. Calling the Joker. The fall. I make a quiet whimper at the thought of the fall. I thought that he was going to be proud of me, but he had been so angry with me, so very angry. My Mr. J had tried to kill me.
"Harley, Harley," the voice soothes. "It's okay, you're safe now. Nothing's going to hurt you. You took a bad fall, but everything's going to be okay," the voice promises. "Do you think you can open your eyes again for me? I turned the lights down, it won't be as bright now."
I open my eyes slowly this time, allowing them to get used to the now soft light around me. I appear to be in a small hospital room. My left leg rests atop the covers, a thick cast going from the bottom of my foot to just below my knee. My other ankle is handcuffed to the bed, as is my right arm. My left arm also has a cast going from around the thumb to just beneath my elbow and it lies limply in the sling that's slung around my neck.
"I'm glad you're awake," the familiar voice tells me and his face soon looms over mine. I study his face for a long moment, trying to remember his name. "You know, you're lucky you didn't go into a comma with the concussion you had."
"Dr. Elliot?" I croak in confusion, wincing as I try to turn my heads towards him. I faintly notice that something is wound thickly around my head.
"That's me," he replies with a smile. "Just in case for some reason any amnesia didn't affect my name, can you tell me your name, age, and where you are right now?"
"My name's... Harley." Yeah, that sounds right. "Harley Quinn?" No, that's not long enough. "I'm a doctor, well, I was a doctor. Dr. Quinzel. Dr. Harleen Quinzel," I remember in triumph, pushing through the fog of minor details that don't involve the Joker. "I'm twenty eight and I'm in Gotham City."
"Do you know where you are in Gotham City?" Dr. Elliot presses.
"Um." I glance around the room I'm in for an indication of a hospital name or something like that, but there is none. "I'm in a hospital," I finally offer, clueless as to where I am exactly. There's a medical bracelet on my wrist, but it hurts my head too much to strain my neck and it's too dark in the room to clearly make out what the words say. I can't even make out a single letter on the band.
"You're in one of the recovery rooms at Arkham Asylum," Dr. Elliot tells me solemnly. "As soon as you're well enough to be moved, they're going to transfer you down to one of the cells."
"I'm a... patient," I realize sadly. I had expected to wind up in here one day, but I'd thought that the Joker would break me out. I'm not so sure about that anymore and it changes everything. "I'm not the first doctor to end up on the other side of the glass, though."
"No, you're not," Dr. Elliot agrees. "You're only an accomplice to the Joker. There's still a chance they might release you from here when you're better."
"Yeah, when I'm in my forties," I tell him with a raspy laugh. I wince, the motion hurting me all over.
"Do you remember what happened to you?" Dr. Elliot asks. "None of us are sure exactly. Batman brought you in, but he wouldn't offer any information, only that you had fallen from a five story building and that you've been helping the Joker. He told Dr. Arkham that the Joker messed with your mind, but he didn't agree to anything of the things that you did."
I let out another short, painful chuckle. "Even after what I did to him, he's still being the nice guy, protecting my integrity. Batman, Batman, Batman," I cluck. "He still wants to save me."
"What did you do to Batman?" Dr. Elliot asks, surprise creeping into his voice.
"I captured him and strung him upside down from the fifth floor of a building. I drugged him, made him fall for such an easy ruse. It was all for the Joker, he said that if I did something to impress him that he'd give me a big reveal, that I could help him more." I take a deep breath, trying to keep my emotions at bay. "He wasn't impressed with what I did, he was angry, furious. I just wanted to impress him and he," my voice cracks and I take another deep breath, "he pushed me out of a five story window. I was the joke all along."
Dr. Elliot puts his hand kindly on my right hand and strokes it with his thumb comfortingly. "For what it's worth, I think that if you can catch Batman, then you're too good for him, for any of those criminals... aside from me of course," he tells me with a grin. "You're not my type, but if you were, I think you'd be a damn good asset. You've already proved yourself to be a good criminal and ally to me and your plant and cat friend."
"Thanks," I reply weakly. "I don't know how I was so stupid."
"You weren't stupid," he tells me. "You're unfortunately destined to be attracted to extreme personalities, not that you can control that. Although, I might could perform brain surgery and try-"
"No, no, I think I've had enough injuries for a while," I tell him.
"Ah, yes, well, if you ever want to me experiment, the offer's on the table," he replies, and I have a feeling that he's not joking. "Speaking of injuries, I should probably tell you about your current ones. As I'm sure you can tell, your left arm and left leg are broken. The break in your leg wasn't too bad, considering the fall, and you should be able to get that cast off in two weeks to a month depending on how it heals. The break in your arm's a little worse, in fact the bone shattered from the impact. You'll be in that cast for a good month or two. The fall also dislocated your shoulder, which has already been popped back into place. You broke two ribs and bruised the rest of the ones on your left side, but those will heal on their own.
"There was quite a bit of internal bleeding that I had to patch up, so your abdomen is going to be pretty sore for a while. You bruised your left hip pretty badly, but by the time you start walking again, it'll probably be all healed up. Your skull took a pretty bad blow, it's a miracle your brain itself wasn't injured. There was a skull fracture, but there's not much we can do aside from let it heal on its own because it's not pressing into your brain or anything like that. It's going to take a lot longer to heal that way, but surgery's pretty risky. You've got a pretty bad concussion so expect little head movement and lots of headaches for the next week or two. Other than that, you're pretty banged up and bruised all over. As bad as all of that sounds, you're actually pretty lucky."
"Was the fall meant to kill me?" I ask quietly. "Is there any way that the Joker knew it wouldn't kill me?"
"I don't know," he replies grimly. "There's no way to tell. People can survive falls from buildings even higher if they land just right and people can die from falls even lower if they land wrong. Unless the Joker purposely threw you head first, there's no way of knowing if he meant to kill you or just maim you."
I shut my eyes with that information, trying to push the question that's lingering through my mind away. If I keep trying to decide whether he meant to kill me or not, I'll drive myself crazy. I mentally laugh, remembering where I am. I already am considered crazy.
My eyelids raise as the door opens. As Dr. Arkham enters the room, there's a sinking feeling in my chest. "Ah, you're finally awake, we were worried about you," he announces in a friendly manner as he walks towards me. I don't like this, I don't like the friendliness in his tone. The man hates me, I helped disfigure and nearly kill his wife. That kind of hatred doesn't change just because the "enemy" gets pushed out of a window and nearly dies.
"Indeed she is," Dr. Elliot replies equally as friendly, although I can see the wariness in his eyes. He knows that Dr. Arkham hates me, he witnessed what Dr. Arkham did to me out of that rage. He's thinking the exact same thing I'm thinking.
"How are you doing, Harleen?" He pauses, then corrects himself. "Sorry, you go by Harley now, don't you?"
"She's always gone by Harley," Dr. Elliot answers for me. "Well, for as long as I've known her."
"Ah, well, we tend to keep it formal around the office," he replies. "But really, how are you doing?"
"Peachy," I reply smoothly. "How are you?"
"Me? I'm perfectly fine. Paperwork's piling up on my desk from all of the time I took off for my wife, but I'm fine. A nurse is looking after her while I'm at work." He smiles and turns towards Dr. Elliot. "Would you mind giving Harley and I a minute? There's several things I need to go over with her privately, hospital policies and psychiatric things of sorts."
"Sure," Dr. Elliot replies easily, giving me a quick reassuring glance as he heads towards the door. "I'll be right outside if you need me." He shuts the door behind him and I watch warily as Dr. Arkham comes over and sits on the left side of my bed.
"You're in my house now, Harleen. You're under my control," he tells me in a low growl, a sadistic smile stretched across his face. "There is no one left to save you now. I can do whatever I want to you and not a single person will care. You're going to pay for what you did to my wife and it's going to be a very long and painful payment."
I laugh shortly, ignoring the pain in my side. "You did try to ruin my life after all," I remind him. "I guess I just beat you at your own game. If it even matters to you, which I doubt it does, the bomb that practically killed your wife was completely by chance. Maybe you and her just have bad luck."
"Chance?" he repeats incredulously. "You pressed the detonator. That's not chance."
"There were two bombs on either side of the restaurant and two on the outside. Batman disabled one of the outer ones, or maybe he disabled both, I don't know, but the Joker never intended to detonate those. He switched up the indoor bomb detonators and handed me a random one. I could've blown myself up in there, but luck was in my favor."
"You didn't have to press the button," he snarls, "but you were too love struck by that freak of a man. I knew you had a weak mind, Harleen, but I didn't think you were that weak."
"You're no better than him," I sneer.
He hits my stomach hard and an explosion of pain shoots throughout me. I gag and wheeze and shut my eyes tightly, willing the pain to go away. "You're going to rot in here, Harleen," he tells me, standing up and walking over to my IV stand. "No one's coming to save you. Not the mysterious man in the parking lot. Not your plant friend. Not Batman. And definitely not the Joker. No one's going to care about what happens to you."
Something cold creeps into my IV and my eyelids grow heavy. "Sweet dreams," Dr. Arkham calls snidely as a drug induced sleep takes hold of me. Before I finally slip all the way into the blackness, I faintly hear the words, "You better hope that you don't wake up because life's going to be a lot worse behind these glass walls."
The other patients are unusually silent as Dr. Elliot wheels me down the fifth floor corridor of Cell Block C. Their silence makes me nervous. I doubt that any of them feel pity for me, but they're not sneering at me or making crude remarks. I figured that they would be cruel to me because I used to be a doctor here, I thought they'd live off of tormenting me, but they're mute. It's nothing but stares and silence as I'm wheeled by.
"Why don't they hate me?" I whisper to Dr. Elliot. "Why aren't they yelling or banging up against their cells?"
"I would imagine they're impressed by you, or shocked to say the least," he replies. "You did manage to nearly kill the director of the asylum's wife, that's not exactly something that they'll hold against you in here. Not to mention there's a rumor spreading around about a pretty young doctor who managed to capture Batman. They don't know if it's true of course, but rumors can carry some weight around here. Not to mention you survived being around the Joker for quite some time, I'm sure that helps."
"Huh," I mutter. "Those things didn't even come to mind."
"Yeah, well, even if they do give you problems, I'm sure anyone who can capture Batman can handle a few psychotic patients." I snort, psychotic isn't even the beginning of it. The fifth floor's Cell Block C is where the Joker was held. It's for highly dangerous and violent criminals. Dr. Arkham put me up here for a reason and although I might be a little banged up, I can handle myself if I need to. He's going to be pissed when his first little plan doesn't work out at all thanks to the Joker's fighting lessons.
"Here we are," Dr. Elliot announces, stopping in front of one of the left cells towards the end. I glance up at the number and my heart sinks. Cell 281. I shut my eyes and take a deep breath. He wants it to upset you, I tell myself. You can't let him get to you. "Harley, what's wrong?"
"This cell... it was the Joker's when I was treating him," I reply quietly.
"I'm fine," I retort before he can finish asking. "There are just a lot of memories from this cell, that's all. I'll be fine, really. Let's enter my new humble abode, shall we?"
Dr. Elliot runs his temporary badge over the cell scanner and the door unlocks. He opens the door and wheels me inside the small room, keeping the door propped open behind him with a small door stopper. I take a moment to glance around the room, which hasn't changed much since I last saw it. There's a small twin sized cot shoved up against the left corner and beside it is a small steel nightstand that's bolted to the floor. There's a small bathroom off to the side, hidden by part of the wall, and a chair propped up and bolted to the floor of the lower right hand corner of the room.
"I guess it's not that much of a step down," I muter jokingly.
Dr. Elliot manages a small smile. "I can't leave the wheelchair in here with you. Do you want to sit on the bed or the chair?"
"I'll take the bed." With my good arm, I begin to push myself out of the wheelchair. Dr. Elliot quickly comes to my aid, but I wave him off. "I can do it," I tell him, now finally standing. I limp carefully over to the bed and ease myself onto it. I push myself all the way onto it and rest my head tiredly on the pillow. "See?" I question breathlessly.
"Mm-hmm," he replies, somewhat disapprovingly. "Be careful when doing that. Your stitches are still capable of popping."
"I know, I know. I went to medical school once too."
"Right. Well, now that you're in your cell, I should probably tell you a few things. Bear in mind that I'm not Dr. Arkham, but I do know a few things," he begins. "Someone's going to come in here every six hours to give you your medicine. I don't know when you'll be allowed to start going to the cafeteria, but it won't be right away. You've been here what? Eight days?"
"I think so."
"Hmm. I told them to give you about ten before they start your therapy. I wanted to give your head enough time to heal so that your answers aren't medically compromised. Your schedule and whatnot, I have no idea. I'll see you once a week for the next month, though, to check on your injuries. No one should bother you until tomorrow, so get some rest, alright?"
"I will, thanks."
He wheels out the wheelchair then stops by the door. "Don't let these people in here get to you, Harley." With that, he leaves the cell and locks the door behind him. I sink even further into the bed, left alone with my thoughts, which soon give me a migraine. No more, I tell myself. No more jokes. No more craziness. No more Joker.
Somewhere in my midst of depressing and frustrating thoughts, I drift off into a sweet, dreamless sleep.
I awake with a start, confused by my surroundings. It takes me a long moment to remember that I'm in his cell- I mean, my cell. I let out a long exhale and bite my lip so hard that I draw blood. How could he do this to me? How could I have been so stupid? I had been such a promising doctor. I had done eight years of college and he... he was a monster. I turn onto my backside and stare around the room. He was scum. He was, a sight stuns me out of my thoughts, bad with his... feelings?
There's a rose on my bedside table. A single red rose in a slim glass vase, just like the one the Joker had given me on his first day here. I sit up and reach forward, flipping the card on the rose to face me. When I read what it says, my heart lurches and I catch my breath. A warm feeling envelopes me and despite how unbelievably angry and hurt I am, a smile comes to my face.
Get well soon. –J.
I pull the card off of the vase and press it to my chest, never wanting to let it go.