Title : Playmate
E-mail: themadpuppy85 AT yahoo DOT ca
Permission to archive: Yes, just tell me!
Category: Angst/Dark, Romance, Drama
Summary: She couldn't tell him. Because worse than a bad sidekick, was an ill sidekick. Joker/Harley, One-Shot
Keywords: Joker, Harley Quinn, Illness, Feminine Problem.
Spoilers: After Mad Love and their many adventures
Warning: In my mind, Harley never broke up with the Joker and is still and forever in love with him, and Return of the Joker will never happens. Be warned.
Author Notes: My Joker is in-between the cartoon and the comics one. Feedback about how well I portrayed him would be much appreciated (any feedback in fact is welcome in fact. ). This said, enjoy!
« He's gotten more slippery than ever now that he has a playmate. »
-Batman, in Mad Love.
She couldn't tell him.
An ironic twist of fate, really: for all close she was to the Joker, for all the tolerance he has showed her so far, for everything she has ever said to him—the quiet whispers of love to his ears, the diligent suggestions to his plans, the cheerleader shout of adoration during crime—she couldn't even tell him she was simply ill.
No, she couldn't. Because she was already a sad, pathetic excuse for a sidekick (his own words, and she didn't dare doubt him. Puddin' was always right, even when he seemed wrong; that she learned the hard way in her first days with him) and she needed no explanations to understand that worse than a bad sidekick, was an ill sidekick.
A bad sidekick can still do a bad job. An ill sidekick can do nothing at all.
And thus Harley forced herself to bring another box full of explosives into the shed. The cheap, poorly constructed wooden cube was heavy even for her enhanced strength, and her tired state wasn't helping.
The worse, really, were the cramps. The mind-numbing, head-splintering, damn cramps. Pure orgasms of pain that God judged women fit to endure each month, and of which Harley was a particularly receptive specimen.
At school, she used to take the day off. At Arkham, she took pills. At her Puddin's side, she couldn't just walk off to the nearest drugstore asking for Advil, could she?
So far she had managed to hide her sorry monthly state—between escaping Arkham, planning the Bat's death, killing a few innocents and kicking her outside for who knows how long, there wasn't time for him to notice anything out of the ordinary (and by the way, what was the ordinary?), but like every good thing, luck was doomed to run out.
Perhaps not this time. Perhaps there will be enough boxes to busy her to for the night. Perhaps he will be deep in thought for another death plan and forget about her. Perhaps, even, he will get mad at her for no specific reason and just kick her out. Perhaps…
…perhaps she was just really stupid to think that she could escape Murphy's Law.
She sighed. There was no "just a minute Mistah J!" or "what is it Puddin'?" that would delay her fate any longer. The Joker has many meaningful inflections in his voice, and her trained ear never failed her (necessity was the mother of all skills, they say): this was a "Harley" that screamed "come right this second or you'll regret it. Badly."
She checked her face in the mirror for a split second. She was sweating horribly, but that was all. At least (oh minor consolation) with all the white make-up, he couldn't detect if she was paler than usual…
"HARLEY WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?"
Pain clenched her gut. Fear make her empty stomach gave up.
She threw up sick greenish bile all over the floor.
There was a moment of unbearable silence. Excruciating helplessness, crude despair, burning shame stopped her to look up to him, that is, until his usual infuriated voice melted in the most frightening honey sing-song she ever heard.
"Harley-dear…are you, by any chance, ill?"
Insane terror knocked her off.
Whoever said being the Joker's sidekick was all fun and games was a complete idiot: it was not. Being his favourite henchwoman meant endless tiring days, nerve-wracking nights, laborious tasks, perilous dangers and many, many bruises.
But is also meant rare and precious moments like this, when he being near led her imagination to skyrocket. She could almost feel his warm engulfing her, his rich voice soothing her worries, his long, artistic hands gently massaging her belly, his fresh salad cologne—
Harley's eyes struck open. Wait. Fresh salad cologne? This was an odd one. Obviously, all her fantasies seemed very bizarre to world, and none of them ever came true so far (but believing was the key, and Harley was a fervent believer, mind you), but the fresh salad in the tiny Styrofoam plate in front of her was irrationally real.
So was the furious scribbling, followed by a small cracking sound—easy noises to recognize: the Joker's demented handwriting and the subsequent pencil's death.
"Damnit. Wouldn't these things last longer than a human, at least? What do you think Harl?"
Did she just hear a pencil is more reliable than you?
He sighed, and in a sudden spinning chair motion was right in front of her. The huge grin he perpetually wore wasn't any indication that he was happy, but Harley long ago learned to read past the smile: he was not in a good mood.
"You know cupcake, a sick sidekick is really no use to me, but an unconscious sidekick is just a dead weight, ya know what I mean?"
The cold, unfeeling glare sent morbid shivers down her spine while she forced herself to nod her head and take a mouthful of the suddenly insipid salad.
"That's it, eat plenty! You need to eat sweetheart, I mean what would happen to me if you just fainted during the operations? Eat, eat—then you'll feel better and we can go back to work tonight—"
She choked on her food.
Her head was a mess, her insides were a wreck, an invisible hand was twisting sadistically the lower part of her belly, she felt—no wait she was a total failure. There was just no way she could help Mistah J tonight.
Harley Quinn, what a joke. She was hardly quits, and that was all.
She wanted to burst up in tears.
"I'm sorry Mistah J…I guess I…I won't be able to join the party tonight…"
Perhaps he shouted "WHAT!", perhaps he didn't; for as she ended her miserable confession thunderbolt-like pain seized her and she rolled back on the floor.
"Don't…look at me Puddin'…I'll be fine soon…just…"
She could feel his disapproving gaze on her chin.
Oh, she wanted to die.
"You know Harl, now that I look at you closely, you really look sick. Perhaps I asked too much of you lately? It's raining anyway, not so well for my plan…why don't you just clean up and take some rest?"
A wave of delirious joy threatened to send her back to unconsciousness. Her Puddin' was so gentle, considerate, so merciful, so…
In fact if Harley would have looked at the plan, she would have seen that the Joker didn't have much choice: no Harley, no plan. For as much as you want it or not, you get accustomed to have a playmate.
Started September 22nd, finished September 23rd 2005.
End notes: That was a heavy piece. It started from the idea "what if Harley was ill?" combined to "I'm fed up every female cartoon character doesn't have to deal with normal human condition", but as I didn't know exactly where I was going with the idea, I had to erase and rewrite many parts.
That said, any suggestion for a good Joker/Harley one-shot? (minimum Batman & Co., I hate having too much characters interfering with our main interest) I have plenty of ideas, but as I said, for long, exhausting multi-part stories, and I prefer to stick to one-shot now. Any suggestion will be appreciated to help feed my muse. :) .
Thanks for reading!