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December 15th, 21h00—Harley's apartment

There were bruises.

The mirror couldn't lie—the pain in her butt neither. Purple, bluish marks were appearing on her creamy white rear, each one echoing the passage of the Joker's fingertips. And the guy sure had power in his hands; even by pressing her whole palm flat, she couldn't recreate the intensity of his touch.

Perhaps she should stop wearing panties—the stupid garment was in the way and offered an unwanted protection against the lovely reminders of his unbridled lust for her. She half-wished he would have left something else, something more…visible; what was more romantic than wearing the seal of your sweetheart for everyone to see?

Alas, that was the flaw; she couldn't share her new-found joy with anybody. Without a doubt, they would say some crappy shit about how Mister J was no good for her, and she wasn't in the mood to wage a war against blind-and-happy-to-be-so people. Too bad for them if they weren't able to recognize the fact that the Joker was the man of her life; she had, and she wasn't about to ruin her chance because of petty details! Sure, he had some issues to deal with, but he was healing pretty fast; if Joan could only understand that, they could live happily together by the end of next year.

She giggled like a schoolgirl at the idea and began dancing in bizarre, acrobatic figure in her bathtroom, before stopping abruptly. Somehow she couldn't picture the Joker living in a nice little cottage, or having a good steady job; both fantasies were not fitting his glamorous, extravagant nature at all. Not to say, she had this feeling Mister J wasn't the type to stay idly at home, and even less let his wife support him. Her man was a tad macho; his pride will dictate him to be the pillar of the family, she was sure. Not that she had a problem with quitting her job at Arkham (where would be the fun without him?), it's just that she seriously didn't know how they would make it work in these circumstances…

Oh well. She would just have to ask him; he surely thought about that by now and says she was stupid to worry about insignificant details he already took care of.

December 22thArkham Asylum

Even as a little boy, people kept repeating to Daniel that he "wasn't very smart". That's why he became a guard in the first place: the job required brawns, not brains, and it suited him perfectly.

Still, he wasn't completely stupid; and as any human gifted with intelligence, but not enough to be part of the smart club, Daniel was cursed to see the Obvious: you know, those facts so big and clear under your nose than no brilliant mind notice, or even less believe them?

That's how he could tell, with acute certitude, that the clown was up to something. Of course you could argue that the Joker was always scheming some malevolent action, but Daniel detected something…deeper. It was in the way sweet doctor Harley's eyes lingered on the maniac when he left, too long, too heavy; the way they shone and sparked with something he could define if only he knew the word—this very look which threatened him in classic male prehistoric sense of property. The crappy clown was making the good mamzelle feel something pure and divine for him, and he didn't like that one bit.

Of course, no one would believe him, because this was Obvious and evidence is always hidden by rational details, such as the fact that she was the Doc and he was a hopeless madman. From this state of facts, he could accordingly:

A) Either ignore it.

B) Either try to prevent it.

And as Daniel was a good fellow, but not very smart, he glued his ear to Harley's office's door, and listened.


"My pen?"

Dumbfounded, Harley stopped munching on her Mont Blanc and looked at it warily. She didn't hear wrong, and this was indeed what the Joker referred to; her stylish, red-marbled fountain pen, gracious gift of Gotham University Psychology's Department for the valedictorian. Not the passkey on Darrell's waist, not a cliché crowbar, not even a coerced, bribed or –ahem- distracted guard, all her man asked from her was this gold-incrusted With Distinctive Mention piece of metal. No big law infringement, not much implication of her part, just forgetting the tiny, nib-sharp goddamn pen on the table near the massive security doors Friday, and, if that wasn't too much asking, changing the ink cartridge to something a little more, hmm, acidic; Javel water would do, for example.

The move was in fact ridiculously simple, and Harley couldn't decide if she was more relieved or deceived that it didn't subjected her more to risk. Of course she couldn't complain about his gentleman's concern for her safety, but a small, insecure part of her brain kept whispering he did it for a whole different reason—he didn't trust her. Not to keep her mouth shut, not to carry a more important, complicated task through, not even to hear the entire plan once before he tried it. She had not doubt it was flawless, but the thought was disheartening—and how the hell was she supposed to help him if something went wrong?

No wait, she was a smart gal. She connected enough with his master vibe by now to figure much of the course of action already: what she feared was the moment he'd be alone out there. Escaping the asylum's walls before they completed the therapy would jeopardize their recent progresses, perhaps to a point they'd have to start again from scratches. That was the point alright, making her indispensable to his psyche's stability, proving it with some horrendous pull-out… So all was left was a cruel question: what counted more to her eyes, Joker's sanity or Joker's time with her?

But perhaps she didn't even have this latitude. If she didn't leave that pen there, she was blatantly telling him she didn't believe in his capacity to succeed with such little tools and weapons, insulting him in the most offending way possible. She would be the one lacking trust, an undeserving, unworthy, ungrateful bitch—a much more severe blow to his self-esteem.

Heart gamble. Double or quits, the man was watching.

"I'll miss you", she said plainly.

December 24thArkham Asylum

She had to be quick.

The pen, heavy in her left pocket, beat with a pulse of its own, in time with the ticking of every wall clock. Inside was a Javel cartridge and a few computer-typed addresses, mainly hers, Daniel's and her mom's.

It seemed right—a guard if he wanted to quickly come back and still not suffer the humiliation of police (or stupid vigilantes), some place no one would suspect if he needed a hide-out and couldn't join her (she'd have to call to explain roughly the details later, though), and of course, her apartment. Not that she had her hopes high for some sweet time, but you couldn't condemn her for wishing, right?

Besides, anything else was superfluous. Giving him money was as inconsiderate as asking Batman why he didn't shove a neon sign in his ass when he fought—grandly depreciating the skill of the artist.

Here they were. The giant, imposing Ladies of Steel, placated with the electronic and hydraulic mechanism that shut the outside world from the madness and kept the insane inside. As discreetly as possible, Harleen bent front and let the pen drop down, before absent-mindedly picking another to put back in her white jacket. Everything was foggy as she focused her resentful gaze on the doors, heavy symbols of what forced them to go through this ordeal—what threatened to keep them apart.


No Christmas party at Arkham.

Harleen wished Joan to pass happy Holidays.

She reassured Daniel the Joker didn't ask for her pen as a gift.

505 minutes later, the alarms resounded through the Asylum—the Joker was free in Gotham City.

A Madhouse Romance-33 sessions remaining

End notes

This chapter is named "6" but in fact should read "5 bis"; it's only the missing part of December, and that explains its shortness. Still, I think it stands up very well on its own!

That said, January will see us back in the Asylum: what happens between December 25th and January 1st is the exclusive property of Thyme, and we all wish her university leaves her alone enough for her to write it soon ;)

Hugs to all, and if you miss your JHQ dose, come see us on Livejournal:)

That said…

What a pain, my friends. Mental pain, and physical one! My butt is hurting for having me fixing my screen for seven full hours in a row.

You'll say it's impossible-after all I already had 40 of the damn thing done already!—but AMR is special. It asks me to plan months ahead, build a suspense, have a style, work with many ideas in the same time—it empties me out. And as I'm obsessive with my writing, polishing a page like a diamond, I want every paragraph to be packed to its fullest…an ant labour!

In this sense I had an attack re-reading my first two chapters, I couldn't believe how crappy they were. Perhaps my own standard is too high—you wouldn't believe the number of scenes that were planned for this chapter that got cut for "inability to deliver": that's why we have a lot of introspection and practically no dialogue, and a missing Joker. I had this long, huge verbal sparring between Harleen and him planned, where his wit and genius trap the poor girl in a lose/lose situation. It will be for another fic—the damn exchange just refused to cooperate.

For now, I want to thank deeply, from the bottom of my heart, all those who believed me when I said this fic wasn't abandoned, didn't put pressure, inspired me, reassured me on my talent and encouraged me to continue no matter what—you're the reason people can read this sixth part hugs to all.

And at last, I'll be able to write one or two drabbles…remorse free and conscience clear! -laughs-.