PART II

Harley lived in a middling neighborhood. Not on the good side of town, not on the bad side either. Neat. Middle class. (Class. Ha!) Two weeks since martial law had been declared, and these streets were still clean, the buildings still mostly untouched, all the shiny happy people peering out between their flower print curtains.

Harley led him to a block of townhouses and buzzed them through the neighborhood security gate. She lived in 13B. Timmy (or was it Jimmy? He didn't care) had been next door in 13A.

Harley's knees buckled on the porch steps, and J tossed her over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes, rolling his eyes. She was really milking this shock thing. He liked that about her.

Fishing her keys out of her jeans pocket, he got the door open and surveyed his new domain.

There was a squashy couch, red leather, dominating the main room. J dumped Harley on it immediately, then prowled around, touching things, opening drawers. Harley watched him, never let him out of her sight, but she made no move to stop him.

There was a pretty standard entertainment center, particle board, with a flat screen TV. It was on the smallish side. Bookshelves (more particle board) everywhere, filled with fiction and DVDs and video games, and what looked like college textbooks. Psychology, well well. His little doll was smart, and that was good, he hated stupid people. Stupid liars.

There were trophies on the shelf by the staircase, little statues of gold plastic engraved with the name Harleen Quinzel, and a medal too. Even a picture of a younger (but not much) and thinner (read: less busty) Harley standing on a balance beam.

So she was flexible. Good to know.

J trundled into the kitchen and made an inspection there. Nothing out of the ordinary, nothing interesting except for the weed hidden in the spice rack, but hey, college kids, right? He started the coffee maker and pocketed a steak knife.

"So here's the thing," he said, going back into the living room. Harley jolted at the sound of his voice, but he thought she was startled rather than afraid. And wasn't that in-ter-est-ing?

He sat down on the squashy red couch, right next to Harley, and decided not to put his arm around her. Let it be her choice whether she stayed close, just to see what she'd do.

She stayed put.

"People," J went on, making a face, wrinkling his nose, "people are not very nice. And, em, now they're not pretending. Not anymore. The beauty of it is, I, I am less nice than most, and I at least never lie about it. And you, Harley, you are the kind of pretty little girl that bad men love to ruin."

She blinked at him, her face pale, but those blue eyes were focused, and she was smart, he knew that she was smart, she'd see the sense in his proposal, and hell, she might even be playing possum. Those sharp eyes didn't quite fit the rest of the doll.

"So! So, so, so, what we do is, we stay together. The city's not getting any nicer, only been what, a few weeks? Soon, you'll need me. You'll need me, a guard dog, a mad dog to keep the bad men away. And I? Well, I want what any dog wants. Food in my belly and to be scratched every once in a while."

He clapped his hands, then spread his arms. Whaddaya say?

Harley stared, and she was shaking again, and really, she needed to get over this shock soon. "Don't pretty it up," she said in that honey city voice. "No euphemisms. Say it like it is."

J tossed his head back and laughed with joy, because, good garly Miss Harley, he liked her, he liked her.

She smiled at him, a tentative thing, like a bird beating its wings in his hand, and he cupped her cheeks, only then noticing that blood had dried on his fingers, lines of white showing at the joints where the crust of it had cracked. J put his forehead against hers, sharing her breath, his tongue darting out to catch at his scars and brushing over her lips. She froze.

"Here's how it is, Harley. You, uh, fuck me whenever, whenever I want. I kill anyone else who looks at you wrong. I get food, you cook it. You take care of me, I take care of you. Partners, yeah?"

Harley's breath was speeding up again. She might faint soon, if she didn't stop that gasping. Was it fear? Was she horny? Both?

Neither?

J put an arm around her, and she burrowed into his side, hands flexing in the material of his shirt, wrinkling it, mussing it, marring it just like he wanted to mar her, mark her skin.

"You're a killer aren't you?" Harley said into his chest. "I mean, before everything went to hell. You were already a killer."

Joker smiled. "It was always hell, doll. You can just see the demons better now."

Her hands clenched in his shirt, her dull nails scraping over his skin. He let her think, let her have the moment. Wouldn't do to rush her into something she'd regret, especially since he couldn't kill her if she got annoying. He could always ditch her, he supposed, but then he'd be bored while he waited for Bane and Batsy to finish their game. (Batman would pull something out of his cape at the last minute, Joker had no doubt of that. It was what Batman did.)

Harley shifted, sitting back to look J in the face. He turned his head from side to side and waggled his brows, giving her the opportunity to study him as he had her.

"Yeah, okay," she said at last. "I guess whatever happened before doesn't matter. We'll all be blown to kingdom come soon anyway."

J laughed at that, and Harley laughed with him, her little giggles spiraling into full blown hysterics soon enough.

It was beautiful.

-l-

They slept on the squashy couch. Harley fell asleep after J made her drink a cup of coffee, and he elected to stay with her. He didn't want her running off, so he stretched out next to her on the outside edge of the cushions, one arm and leg flung over her, guaranteeing he'd wake up if she tried to make a break for it.

He fell asleep to Harley's whuffing breaths against his neck, her trembling stopped at last, and he woke to fingers in his hair.

Harley was propped up on one elbow, stroking her hand over his scalp. "Hey," she said when she saw he was awake. "Sorry."

She dropped her hand, scooting away from him as much as the couch would allow, which wasn't very much. At all.

J turned onto his side, pressing his dick into her thigh. It was soft now, but it wouldn't be for long. "Keep going," he demanded.

Harley put her hand back in his hair and sucked her bottom lip into her mouth. She was nervous. J didn't want her to be. Nervous was boring. Everyone was nervous, afraid of him. Everyone except the Bat, and he couldn't see the Bat volunteering to blow him any time soon, so.

Harley needed to not be afraid of him. Right now.

He stroked her back and nuzzled his face into her breasts, humming a little tune. (Couldn't remember what tune it was. Didn't matter.)

Harley wrapped her arms around his shoulders and rocked him, and he let her. Let her be gentle, let her coddle him. It wasn't exactly comfortable, this soft touching, all this touching, any touching that didn't end in blood, but it wasn't uncomfortable either. Made his skin crawl, yeah, but it wouldn't do to get too used to the shape he was in, because that was when the world came along and changed it.

He started thrusting his hips against her thigh, and she stiffened, then let out a long breath.

"Hey," he whispered in her ear. "Hey, don't be scared. Don't be afraid of me. Don't. Uh, okay?"

"I'll try," she whispered back, no lies about not being scared, because of course she was and Harley was a truth-teller.

J rolled onto his back, pulling her on top of him. He wanted to watch her, wanted her to be the one riding him, the one to do the work. The whores he'd had in the old days had preferred doggy style, so that they wouldn't have to look at his face. Oh they'd play it up, dress it up nice to keep him happy, talk about how he was too big to take any other way, but he knew the truth. They were disgusted by him.

Not his Harley though. She kept those baby blues fastened on his mouth the whole time. And when she finally leaned down to kiss him, running her tongue over the scars, he could almost believe that she liked them.

She didn't say so, though, and that was good. J didn't know if he could really believe her yet, and he didn't want her to start lying now, not when she'd been doing so well.

-l-

"What was a sweet thing like you doing out so close to the Narrows?" he asked later, speaking more to himself than Harley.

He was playing solitaire on the low coffee table, killing time waiting for dark, and Harley was painting her toenails. She was across from him, on the sofa, her foot braced on the coffee table. She wasn't wearing anything but his shirt, and every time she bent to reach one of those little piggies, J got a flash of the light brown curls between her thighs. She was tantalizing him. Her body was the only weapon she had against him, as far as she knew (as far as he knew too), and she was working it.

"You're a sweet thing too, ya know," she said instead of answering his question. "Holding me while I sleep, making me coffee, carrying me over the threshold." She batted her eyes at him, and J snorted. "You could make a girl fall in love with you that way."

Had he mentioned that he liked Harley?

"Love," he pouted his lips, tongue darting out to touch at his scars. "You love me, Harley?"

"That would be telling, Mister J."

J cut his eyes at her. She was grinning. "I like you," he muttered, running a hand through his hair.

Harley rolled her eyes. "You don't have to sound so surprised."

"Even when it's, uh, surprising?"

"Hey!" Harley shouted over the sound of his laughter. Her face. "I'm very likable you know!"

"Oh I know, Harley." He sucked his teeth. "You're very likable. And lickable too. That's why you need me."

Abandoning his playing cards, J leaned over the coffee table and licked Harley's leg from ankle to knee. She shrieked, and he tensed to backhand her for daring, having the gall to be afraid of him after he'd told her not to be… But then the shriek turned to laughter and he relaxed. She wasn't afraid. She was ticklish.

Her flailing leg knocked over the bottle of nail polish (red) and J put his fingers in it, smearing it around the coffee table, and then drawing a smiley face on the top of Harley's foot. So pretty. His hand itched for his knife. He should carve the smiley there, making a matching face on the other foot, this time in blood. Would Harley be afraid of him then? She better not be.

She saw the knife come out, and she went completely still, her face going pale.

"Mister J?" she said in her sweet, soft voice.

He put the point of the knife to her skin. "Don't move."

"J?"

He pressed the point down and watched that first beautiful drop of crimson well up.

"J!" She swatted at his hand, and now she was pissed, and wasn't that just, wasn't that just adorable? Ha hee hoo. Ha. Ha. Hee. Ha.

"You said you wouldn't hurt me!" She raged at him, her face going from white to red, those blue eyes like flint, like gun barrels.

"Wrong!" Joker snarled, voice deep and dangerous, rough with a growl. He tightened his grip on her ankle, hard enough to grind the bones together. Harley tensed, and Joker smiled at her, repeating in a more conversational tone, "Wrong. Said I wouldn't kill you, dollface. Never said anything about not, uh, hurting you."

He clicked his teeth around his consonants, tongue darting out to taste the air, like a snake. It tasted like… bitterness.

"Oh," Harley said after a long silence in which they stared each other down, Joker watching as this lie, this lie that Harley had told herself was stripped away. She was doing so well, but lying to yourself was the easiest. Joker should know, even if he didn't do it anymore.

"Yeah. Oh."

Joker waited for the screaming, the crying, the begging, the redundancy of Harley turning out to be like every. one. else.

She took a deep breath, firming her jaw, her gaze flickering all over the room before coming to rest on him again. "Well if you're set on carving me up, at least sterilize the knife first. I won't be fun to fuck with my leg rotting from infection. And do it somewhere less bony, please, Mister J. I need to be able to move, to run if you tell me."

What.

J's mouth fell open, and Harley was grinning at him, her face tight and eyes bright and ha ha ha hee hoo hee ha he ha hehehe ha.

"Harley. Doll." He let her ankle go, and then he lunged forward and kissed her, turning to rub his cheeks against hers, his scars against her face. He liked the way it felt.

"Wanna watch a movie?" Harley chirped at him. "No idea how long the electricity's going to last. Might as well enjoy it while we have it." She held her breath.

J shrugged and put his knife away. "Yeah okay."

Harley put on V for Vendetta and they snuggled on the squashy couch, Harley half slung across his lap. The way she so trustingly rested against him, her skin warm and her breathing steady, was oddly soothing. He'd never had a pet before. Not that he remembered.

He watched the movie and Harley watched him, and he knew that, to her, (and to him too, a little), the movie was about them.

"I'm Joker," he said, when the end credits rolled. "I'm Joker, I'm, I'm Joker. I'm Joker."

No point not saying it.

"I know, Mister J," Harley mumbled, rubbing her cheek against his bare chest.