Arkham High

Chapter 11

"How do you think Harley's date went?" asked Selina on Monday morning.

"I'm trying not to think about it," retorted Pamela, checking her makeup in her pocket mirror. "As long as she gets what Harvey wants, that's what matters. And better her than me."

Harley entered the school at that moment, beaming. She felt like she hadn't stopped smiling since Saturday night. "Harley, how did it go?" asked Selina, rushing over to her.

"Oh…uh…pretty great, Selina," replied Harley, giggling.

"You got him to tell you what he's planning?" asked Pamela, eagerly.

"Um…no, not exactly," she replied. "I'm still…uh…working on that."

She jumped as a pair of hands came over her eyes. "Guess who, beautiful?" whispered a voice in her ear, as a familiar pair of lips nuzzled her neck.

"Oh…J!" she gasped, beaming as he removed his hands. "Good morn…"

She was cut off by his passionate kiss, which she eagerly returned. "Good morning to you too, gorgeous," he breathed. Harley squeaked happily, returning to his mouth as Pamela and Selina stared at them in astonishment and horror.

The bell rang, and Harley reluctantly broke away from him. "I gotta…go to class," she gasped. "Uh…see you at lunch?"

"Try and keep me away," he murmured, kissing her again. He waved at her as she headed off down the hall.

"So did you actually swap any information, or just saliva?" asked Selina, dryly.

"Yeah, that's a pretty extreme way to earn his trust," agreed Pamela.

"Actually, I…really like him," said Harley, blushing.

"I hope you don't like him too much," snapped Pamela. "You're still going to help Harvey win the election, aren't you? I don't think I need to remind you of the reward you're going to get."

"Yeah, date him if you want – just don't let him win class president," agreed Selina. "You are on our side with this, aren't you, Harley?"

"Or is Harvey gonna have to put in a negative word with the scholarship committee?" asked Pamela.

Harley stopped in her tracks, staring at her. "He wouldn't do that, would he?" she asked. "He wouldn't mess up my future like that just because I didn't wanna betray the trust of my…boyfriend?"

It was the first time she had said the word, and she blushed even deeper. It was so nice to say it.

"I don't think you understand how important this class president thing is to my boyfriend," hissed Pamela. "He has to win it. He'll go crazy if he doesn't. Probably literally."

"So find out what he wants to know," snapped Selina. "Or it's no college for you."

They headed into the classroom, leaving her alone in the hall.

At lunch, Harley grabbed her tray and headed over to sit at the nerd table, as usual. "Harley, did you enjoy the play?" asked Crane.

"Play? Oh, right…yeah, it was really good, Johnny," said Harley, clearly distracted.

"We saw you there with the Joker," said Tetch. "I didn't think he was a Shakespeare fan."

"Er…no, he…uh…well, actually, he and I are…together. Dating. Y'know," stammered Harley, blushing but unable to conceal a smile. "He's my…boyfriend."

Crane stared at her, a mixture of heartbroken and horrified. His horror grew as the Joker suddenly appeared, sliding his arms around Harley's waist and murmuring, "There's my knockout girlfriend! What d'ya think, nerds? Ain't she just the cutest little number in the whole entire school? Missed you, baby," he said, kissing her.

"Mmm, I missed you too, J," she whispered. "And I gotta talk to you about something serious…"

"You know I ain't serious kinda guy, baby," he murmured, continuing to kiss her.

"J, please, it's important," she murmured.

"More important than making out with me?" he asked, surprised. "That is serious. What's up, sweetheart?"

"It turns out that me not helping Harvey out is gonna ruin my chances of getting a scholarship," said Harley. "He's gonna influence the committee against me unless I do what he wants and tell him how you're gonna win the election."

Joker shrugged. "Well, that ain't so serious. Just lie to him."

"Yeah, but then if he doesn't win, he can still get revenge by denying me this scholarship," said Harley.

He nodded. "So, what, you want me to bow out of this election so you can have your scholarship?"

"I couldn't ask you to do that!" said Harley, horrified. "You seem to really wanna win class president…"

"Oh yeah, it'd be a great joke," agreed Joker. "But at the cost of your future? C'mon, kid, I ain't that selfish. I would never put a stupid joke in front of you."

Harley gazed at him in astonishment, and then threw her arms around his neck, kissing him passionately. "Oh, J!" she gasped. "That's the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me!"

"Well, I ain't done it yet!" he chuckled. "But I'm gonna, right now. Hey, Eddie!" he called.

Edward Nygma had been sitting at a table by himself, surrounded by thick books, and reading one about Richard Daley's mayoral election in Chicago. "Yes?" he asked.

"C'mon, I wanna talk to Principal Leland about the election," said Joker, standing up. "And as you're my official…uh…'campaign adviser,' you need to be there or it'll look suspicious."

Nygma nodded, following Joker and Harley out of the cafeteria and into the principal's office.

"J!" said Principal Leland, shocked. "This is a surprise. You don't normally come to see me of your own free will."

"Yeah, well, I got something kinda important to discuss with you," said Joker, nodding. "It's about my campaign to be class president."

"Oh yes, that joke," said Principal Leland. "What about it?"

"Well, I wanna put a stop to it," said Joker, firmly. "Joke ain't funny anymore, so I came to speak to you about withdrawing my nomination."

Principal Leland stared at him. "Is this a joke?" she asked.

"No," he said. "I wasn't thinking straight when I decided to run – after all, I already got enough work to do trying to bring my grades up. The last thing I need to be worrying about is some stupid election campaign. My girlfriend here made me see that," he said, nodding at Harley. "So I'm taking her advice, and dropping outta the running. Harvey deserves that presidency anyway – he works so hard for it. It wouldn't be fair for me to win it, especially the way I planned on winning it."

"How…did you plan on winning it?" asked Principal Leland, slowly.

"Well, I was gonna use Eddie here to cheat for me," said Joker, nodding at him. "I thought a smart guy like him would have no problem rigging an election. Especially since he's cheated on all those tests already."

"What…" began Nygma, but Joker pulled out the answer sheet, handing it to Principal Leland.

"He steals these before he takes the tests," he explained. "Pretty simple, but effective. That's how he's been getting his amazing grades."

"Edward…is this true?" gasped Principal Leland, stunned.

"It is true," said Joker, nodding. "There's proof in his locker. There are a whole buncha answer sheets there at the moment – I haven't picked them up yet. See, I was gonna cheat on the tests too, but my girlfriend here has made me realize that ain't the way to go about doing anything."

"You idiot!" shrieked Nygma, furiously. "How could you do this to me?! And the joke's on you, you illiterate moron, since without those answer sheets, you're never going to graduate!"

"Yes, he is," said Harley, slowly, taking Joker's hand and beaming at him. "I'm gonna help him study. It may take a lotta work, but we're gonna bring his grades up, and he's gonna graduate with me."

Joker smiled at her, squeezing her hand. "Edward, I hope you realize that this very serious accusation, if proven, is going to put you out of the running for valedictorian, not to mention putting your own graduation in jeopardy," said Principal Leland, quietly. "As for you withdrawing your nomination, J, while I admire the sentiment, I'm afraid it's not allowed. The rules for student body elections clearly state that once a candidate has announced his intention of running, he can't pull out on a whim. You're going to have to go through with it. I mean, you're welcome to throw the election – make a joke of it, offend people, and not take it seriously, so that everyone will vote for Harvey. But you've said you'd run, and you have to see that through to the end."

"That's a stupid rule!" snapped Joker. "And that's not how real elections work anyway!"

"This is high school, not the real world," retorted Principal Leland. "We're supposed to be teaching you life lessons. And one of those is to finish what you've started. You've made a commitment to run, so just run. And lose."

Joker nodded slowly. "Yeah. I guess it won't be a lotta extra work if I ain't even trying to win. And I don't need Eddie's help to lose!" he chuckled. "All right, Leland, you got it! One thrown election coming up – piece of cake!" he laughed, as he and Harley left her office. "I just hope you ain't gonna be too disappointed, Harl, not going to prom with the class president and all."

"Don't worry, J," said Harley, kissing his cheek. "You'll always be Mr. President to me. In fact, I'm gonna call you Mr. J."

"Mr. J, eh?" he chuckled. "I like it. I really do."

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