Part 3- The Revelation
"Think you can behave yourself now, clown?" A guard had come to escort him out of solitary.
"Back already? I was just beginning to get comfortable. I've been thinking, this room could really use some color, maybe some curtains and a few throw pillows."
"Very Martha Stewart of you," the guard grunted.
"Martha? Has she been transferred here?" he asked excitedly. "Eddie owes me all of his lunch rolls for a month!"
It was kind of nice being back in his cell. In a strange way, Arkham had become a home of sorts. It was the only thing one leading his kind of lifestyle could be sure of. Not that he wanted to hang around any longer than he had to.
The very next day two guards had been sent to escort him to some sort of counseling. Typically, the doctors waited a few days to see how the patient was readjusting out of solitary before starting sessions again. This allowed the inmate to get back into the swing of things. Joker shrugged such an anomaly off though. They often took a different approach when it came to him. However, he was surprised to find that they had stopped directly in front of Dr. Leland's office. She had never had much to do with him at all. On top of that, there were two other guards already standing on either side of her door waiting for them.
Before he could venture a question, the door was opened and inside he found Dr. Leland sitting behind her desk and Harley sitting on the opposite side sobbing into her hands. Used tissues littered the floor surrounding her. A guard closed the door behind him, but he knew all four were still out there. Leland gestured for him to sit in another chair that was next to, but at a safe distance from Harley. He shrugged and plopped into it, splaying his legs.
Joan began with the Joker. She had to speak up a bit to be heard over Harley's wailing.
"Harley is very upset," she began
"You were at the top of your class, I can tell," he retorted sarcastically.
Joan gave him a disgruntled look.
"Oh puddin'! I'm so s-s-sorry!" Harley began bawling again.
"Quite right, you should be. Don't worry, I'll think of some way you can make it up to me." He had no idea what she was talking about.
"It's alright Harley," Joan said in a soothing voice. "You can do this. I'm right here with you. Go ahead and tell him what you need to say."
Harley took some deep breaths and tried to calm herself down. Resolutely sitting up with her eyes still closed, she opened them slowly and found the man she adored slouched in the chair across from her, his head tilted to the side resting on his fist. She opened her mouth in a valiant attempt, but broke down again instead. Joker rolled his eyes. He was quite used to this kind of behavior by now.
Joan turned to the Joker. She wasn't really sure how to approach this. Working with them together...it hadn't been done before. No one really knew what their 'relationship' was like. She had heard Harley's view on it of course, but that was a bit skewed to say the least. Joan approached what she was about to say cautiously.
"I don't suppose you can get her to start talking."
The Joker raised an eyebrow and turned to the doctor. Typically he wouldn't be so helpful, but he wanted to hear what Harley had to say as much as they wanted her to say it.
"Sure," he offered, taking a more assertive stance. "Hey Harl, SPIT IT OUT!"
Joan threw her pen at the desk and began massaging her temples. The strange thing was, it worked. Apparently, Harley knew that tone of voice. It meant she'd better comply and she had better do it quick. It was impossible to stop the tears so she just talked through them making the whole thing practically impossible to understand.
"Oh Puddin'," she sniffed and began rambling on so incoherently that all Joan could pick up were bits and pieces of phrases between her bawling: "So horrible. Pretty dress. I panicked! Batman. Boxy. The broad was okay. I ACTUALLY PAID FOR IT!" Her tone indicated that she was reaching the climax of her story. "And then…and then…Puddin', I didn't mean it!"
Joan was amazed. It took three attempts of listening to Harley carry on like this from her cell before she was able to piece it all together. The Joker just sat there watching her. He looked disinterested, but Joan got the impression he was trying too hard to seem that way. She could tell that he was picking the whole thing up despite how contorted Harley's sobbing made it. He must have been used to hearing her like this.
"Didn't mean what, sweets?" he said in his most syrupy voice.
Harley knew the moment of truth had come and that there was no turning back. Instantly changing from upset to fearful, her entire body retreated from the Joker. It looked as though she would meld with the chair if she could.
"Now Mistah J, it wasn't entirely my fault" she began in a futile attempt to explain herself. "You see...well, he was just so nice to me." Suddenly she looked very introspective. "It's been a long time since anyone has shown me that amount of kindness." Briefly, she seemed like her old self again, but it quickly reverted when she met Joker's gaze.
"What are you trying to say, Harley?" the Joker said evenly. "Sounds like you're being very unappreciative of me. Perhaps I've been too soft on you in the past." He glared at her dangerously.
"Oh no, puddin' no!" She waved her hands frantically, "I just wasn't thinkin' straight at the time!"
Joan had had about all she could take of this. "Harley, that's enough! Joker, you will not speak again until Harley is finished! Is that clear?"
"Sorry, Mom," in replied with condescension.
"Please Harley, continue," Joan said in a reassuring voice.
"Um, okay," Harley began nervously. "Well, ya see, B-Batman brought me back here and he musta felt bad for me because he gave me the d-dress I bought. I, well, I had a really bad day puddin' so I was j-just so overwhelmed. I only did it to th-thank him."
"Only. Did. What?" Joker responded with an edge of impatience.
Joan was about to address the Joker again, but Harley didn't give her the chance.
"I KISSED HIM!" She had broken down again. "It didn't mean anything puddin'! I swear! You're the only one for me! Please, don't hate me!"
At first it didn't register. How could it? Not only was his Harley completely devoted to him, but she knew better than to cross a line like that. The very idea was laughable, so it kind of went in one ear and out the other. Then he remembered the odd behavior everyone had been exhibiting toward him lately and suddenly he knew it was true. Not only was it the truth, but everyone else knew about it.
This thought process took roughly two seconds. All an outsider would have seen was the sudden fire that erupted in the Joker's eyes as his entire body tensed and then lunged at Harley.
Joan had wisely signaled for the guards to enter the instant Harley revealed her secret and they caught the lunatic midair before he reached his target. Unfortunately, the Joker was never an easy person to subdue and the adrenaline rush that accompanied his anger was making it even more difficult. It was impossible to determine what was going on in the mound of bodies, but the various guards could be heard in their struggle.
"I got 'im!...I think I got 'im."
"I have his leg!"
"That's my leg!"
"OW! HE FUCKIN' BIT ME!"
Finally, they had him pinned to the ground. The Joker was seething as they lifted him to his feet. Seeing as he was unable to use his fist, Joker, rarely feeling speechless, found the words to use on Harley instead.
"YOU ARE NOTHING BUT A WHORE!" he spat.
"I know!" Harley submitted sadly, "I know I am! I'm so, so sorry puddin'."
"DON'T CALL ME THAT!," he screamed, his eyes now flashing dangerously, "YOU'RE DEAD TO ME! YOU HEAR THAT! DEAD!"
"Don't say that! I'll do anything!" She turned to the guards and pleaded. "Let him go. It's my fault. I deserve to be punished, not him."
Instead, the guards escorted him back into the hall, all the while struggling to keep a hold on the thrashing madman.
Part 4- The Cover-Up
Back in his cell the Joker fumed silently. This was one of the few times in his life where he did not want any attention. He was beyond frustrated. It was not often that the mighty Joker didn't know what his next move should be.
He knew that he told Harley that they were through, but he also understood how unrealistic that was. Violent thoughts flew through his mind of all the ways he could make her pay. It all came back to the same problem though: He'd never be rid of her. His mind raced. Wasn't that because he always allowed her to stay, though? After all, if the Joker wants someone gone, he just gets rid of them doesn't he? No no! Don't go down that train of thought; you never like where you end up, he silently chided himself.
He bashed his head on the nearest wall as hard as he could, hoping for the sweet release of unconsciousness. He stumbled a bit, but remained alert. His tolerance for pain was unnaturally high at this point in his career.
It finally occurred to him what had to be done. Accepting the fact that he could not be rid of her whatever the reason may be, he had to make the incident itself disappear. However, deciding what needed to be done and figuring out how to do it were two entirely different things. He paced back and forth as he pieced together a plan of action.
There was no way around it. He had to waste one of his brilliant escape plans, all because of his ditzy ex-shrink. Dealing with the people that occupied the asylum was easy enough. No one would dare mention this incident again, even in private, after he was through. He would put the fear of Joker into all of them, just like he'd done many times before. He might as well be erasing memories. If no one talked about, it never happened. Unfortunately, that didn't account for the physical evidence: there was the dress to consider, not to mention the footage. With the number of cameras in this place it had to be recorded somewhere. Joker shuddered at the thought of the uniformed goons watching it over and over again, laughing at him. He gutted his pillow in frustration as there was no one else available.
He wanted it over and done with, so he implemented his plan that very night. It wasn't as difficult as one might think. He was very familiar with the building by now. He knew the rounds the guards made and which ones were more likely to shirk their duties. However, this wasn't a typical breakout. He was not merely heading for the nearest exit. The business he had to complete would take him to opposite wings of the building.
His first stop was what everyone called the trophy room, but its real purpose was to house criminal evidence. This is where all the belongings the inmates had on them when they were brought into Arkham were kept. Very rarely could you hope to make a stop here to pick up your things before 'checking yourself out'. Most of this stuff ended up in the hands of the employees anyway, where they were either kept as souvenirs or auctioned off on the internet.
He knew that he was running out of time. They would notice him missing soon. He scanned the shelves until he found the box labeled Harleen Quinzel. On top of her red and black costume, pop gun, mallet, and various other toys was a dress. "God, it's pink," he said in disgust. Bundling the garment under his arm, he then started rummaging through a box labeled Garfield Lynns. "What kind of loser calls himself Firefly?" muttered the Joker to no one in particular. Aha! He found the prize he was looking for: a blowtorch. Breaking into one of his trademark grins he quickly took off down the hallway.
Next was the hard part. He had to get into the archive room where they kept all past recordings from the various security cameras planted around the asylum. Unfortunately, it was located right next to the security monitoring station and there was no way the guards in there wouldn't hear him next door. Luckily, he had a good distraction ready.
He got the blowtorch at the ready and fired nonchalantly. He really didn't care what it hit just as long as it did the job. Sprinklers and alarms went off all over the building, soaking the hallways. He sped away from the area as quickly as possible, kicking up water as he ran. He slid to a stop at the archive room and peeked into the next door. The monitoring room was empty. He knew they'd rush out to help contain the situation. You could always count on Arkham guards for predictability.
Easily slipping into the archives room, the Joker set to work. He knew the day Harley was brought back, and quickly collected all the tapes made from each camera that were labeled with that date. It wasn't too difficult; they were all grouped in the same place. As if they were waiting for him. In the distance he could hear the guards as they tried to contain the fire. He was about to give them more to deal with. Dropping the tapes and that horrible dress on the floor, he backed up and fired. The powerful torch quickly engulfed the pile, consuming the items despite the effects of the sprinkler system.
With his task complete, the Joker felt a mighty weight lift off of him. It was over. It never happened. He looked to one side and then the other, shrugged, and sat down, splashing water everywhere. He knew there was no way he would be able to leave, and was lucky he got as far as he did. So he sat there, watching the sprinklers extinguish his most recent flames.
A random guard ran down the hall past the archive room, suddenly stopped and doubled back. He gazed in amazement at the Joker…just sitting there. The Joker looked up at him dully.
"What's up?" he asked nonchalantly
"You...you…you…" the guard stammered, "What are you doing here!"
The Joker looked genuinely confused. "I'm sitting and getting wet. Can we do something about that?" He pointed up at the sprinklers.
"You did all of this, didn't you?" the guard demanded.
He shrugged in boredom. "Pretty much."
The guard called for backup as the Joker waited patiently.
Everyone was pretty furious when they reached him. There was much jumping about and shouting. They violently forced him down the hall and...past his cell...oh no. This was all Harley's fault! It looked like he was going to have plenty of time to figure out how to make her pay. They tossed him into a dark room and slammed the door.
He was in solitary again.