Coverart by Blithefool of deviantart
Spoilers: Follows my story 'The Ultimate Betrayal'
Disclaimer: DC owns all these characters and WB owns DC and Time Warner owns WB and I'm pretty sure the rest of the world.
The Aftermath: Chapter One
The floodgates had been opened, just as she'd feared.
Dr. Joan Leland headed directly for her bed upon returning home. All she wanted was the comfort of a good nights rest after her weary day at the asylum. It was no use though. The blessed relief of sleep had been evading her for some time now.
She knew it was a bad idea from the very beginning, and had expressed such the best she could. They never should have had that therapy session with Joker and Harley together. Still, Joan had to admit, she couldn't think of a way it could have been avoided.
Word had spread quickly about the session. Of course, she knew it would and saw little point in trying to hide it. She had told Dr. Arkham that the entire thing would only serve to legitimatize their twisted relationship in Harley's eyes, but it did far worse than that. It seemed to have had an effect on the entire staff!
Before, the doctors ignored the couple almost completely. They were never instructed to, but there seemed to be an understanding from them all that it was the best course of action, even if they did find it worthy of further study. It was a little different for Joan of course. She had to deal with the relationship if she had any hope of healing her patient; however she always kept it within her office.
The situation was entirely different now. The simple fact that the two had a session together seemed to mean to the rest of the staff that they could all dig in. Most of the doctors had already asked to see her notes on the session, even if they had nothing to do with either patient. She didn't participate in the conversations 'around the water cooler' anymore. The last time she had made an attempt, the others had tried to draw her into a debate about an upcoming article in People's magazine that was apparently featuring an article on 'the year's wackiest couples.' When asked whether she thought the recent Hollywood tabloid couple of interest or the asylum clowns were going to make the cover, she left in disgust.
From a psychiatrist standpoint, she knew the whole thing was fascinating or rather…it should be fascinating. She didn't see it like the others did, maybe because she was too close to Harley. So many of the other doctors had already written these patients completely off. For them, they were just subjects to study and maybe write a profitable book on. Joan never saw any of them that way, Harley most of all. From the first day she arrived, Joan had liked her. Over time a sort of friendship grew between them, even if Harley had seemed a bit distant sometimes. Now she knew why.
She had been blaming herself for not catching Harley's fall sooner. Perhaps all of this could have been avoided if she had been more attentive. That's why she was so adamant about taking her on as a patient. Joan refused to believe Harley was beyond saving. Sometimes she worried that she was too close to her patient, but in her heart she knew that she could keep it professional. She was not like Harley.
Joan had also begun to blame herself for the whole ordeal they were dealing with now. She had signed Harley's release too soon. She wasn't ready, but Joan just wanted her to be there so very badly. Jeremiah Arkham had already talked to her about it. He said that it wasn't her fault in any way, and after all, he had agreed to sign the release as well. Jeremiah continuously tried to bring Joan up by telling her that she was one of the best doctors they had. She wanted to believe it.
She returned to work the following day as burnt out as the night before, to find a note waiting for her on her desk. It simply said, "He's at it again. – J. Arkham." This was not the way she had wanted to begin her day.
Joan knew perfectly well of whom the note was referring: Dr. Roberts. He had repeatedly expressed interest in taking Harley's case from her. It'd be much easier to keep her patient if she could prove that progress had been made. As it was, Joan didn't feel like she had much of a leg to stand on, but firmly believed that she was better suited than Dr. Roberts to treat Harley.
Roberts currently had only one patient, the Joker himself. Most people might find it odd for any doctor to have merely a single patient, but Arkham Asylum wasn't like most psych-wards. A certain amount of bribery, for lack of a better word, was needed to keep employees on. For example, any member of the security staff that remained on duty for a paltry ten years was granted retirement. Any doctor that would be willing (so long as it was approved by Dr. Arkham himself) to take the Joker's case was allowed to drop all others. Few people wanted to deal with him based on concern of their mental and physical well-being and most saw him as a fulltime workload anyway.
Joan remembered Jeremiah offering her the Joker's case not so very long ago. He had called her into his office one morning…
"Dr. Leland, I think you are ready," he said with a smile. "Actually, I think you could have handled him sometime ago, but I didn't want to subject you to the idea until you were a little more seasoned."
"Handle who?" Joan asked, even though she already knew where the conversation was heading.
"The Joker, of course," he responded. Jeremiah honestly seemed excited for her, as though if he portrayed the prospect as being a positive thing, she might actually be fooled into thinking it was one.
"I take it Dr. Savanna has had enough," she smirked.
"Well…yes, something about his family being threatened." He flew past this as fast as he could and quickly moved on to, "So, what do you think?"
"Sorry, but I'm going to have to decline. Thank you for holding me in such high regards though."
Dr. Arkham's mood quickly changed as he slumped in his chair. "I was afraid you were going to say that." He futilely tried to convince her. "Joan, you're one of my best doctors. You might actually make some progress with him. Wouldn't that be exciting?"
Joan gave him one of her best 'you must be joking' looks.
Jeremiah responded to the look by twisting the knife just a touch. "Joan, are you implying that there is no hope for one of our patients?"
"I would never say that, sir. But I don't want to wake up one morning thinking it." She was not going to back down, not on this.
"Alright, alright, I understand. I'll see what I can do to convince Dr. Savanna to stay on awhile longer." Almost as an afterthought and a last ditch attempt he added, "He'd be your only patient, you know. That'd give you a lot more free time."
She leaned in and simply said, "No."
"You can't blame a guy for trying. But I don't want to keep you. You have to greet our new intern today." The elder doctor laughed. "Say, maybe we should give him to her," he suggested jokingly.
Joan chuckled softly. "That's why you don't get to greet the newcomers. What was her name again?"
Arkham dug through some papers on his desk, emerging with a resume. "Um…Dr. Harleen Quinzel."
Maybe she should have taken the case after all. Joan sighed heavily. The past could not be erased and the best thing she could do for Harley right now was keep Dr. Roberts away from her.
Joan headed directly to Dr. Arkham's office only to find Dr. Roberts already there. He gave her a smug look as she walked in. Jeremiah looked like he'd rather be anywhere else.
Dr. Roberts had recently been unsatisfied with the perk of having a single patient, at least when it came to Harley. He had suggested on several occasions that working with both may help in understanding the individuals. However, Joan knew what was really going on in Robert's head: big bucks.
Jeremiah began the exchange. "Dr. Roberts is upset regarding the recent use of his patient."
"Without my consent," he interrupted in a clear voice.
"I didn't realize you were over Dr. Arkham," Joan responded.
Roberts shot her an angry look, but continued calmly. "I wasn't suggesting that I was. However, I think that it is only right that I am kept abreast of any counseling sessions my patient attends."
"It wasn't counseling," replied Joan matter-of-factly.
Jeremiah backed this up. "It was more like security measures."
"Your 'security measures' have caused my patient to be given solitary twice in a row. I have lost precious therapy time."
Joan rolled her eyes.
"Furthermore," Roberts continued, "I have repeatedly requested a joint session with these patients and have repeatedly been denied. Joan asks for it once and it's granted."
"Actually, it was my idea," Arkham conceded.
Roberts raised an eyebrow. "Really? Does that mean you are beginning to agree with my theory of working with them together?"
"Well…no, not exactly...like I said, it was for security purposes only."
Roberts wasn't going to let up. He had found his opening. "And it worked, correct?" he asked excitedly.
"Yes, we were able to prevent the attack."
"Don't you see we have only scratched the surface?"
Joan cut in. "We prevented the attack because we were able to prepare the guards! It had nothing to do with anything therapeutic."
Roberts completely ignored this logic. "We should continue to see where this will take us." He turned to Joan. "I wouldn't even have to take Harley. I am more than willing to work with you on this."
It was clear that he was trying to seem reasonable, but Joan showed no sign of backing down.
"You can't honestly think that pursuing this wouldn't provide tremendous insight into our respective patients!" he argued.
"What insight?" Joan reiterated. "All your patient ever says when you ask him about Harley is 'Harley who?'"
Jeremiah decided to cut off the exchange before it became too heated. "Roberts, I need to speak to Leland alone if you don't mind."
Roberts left, but it looked as though he did mind very much.
Author notes: Yeah, yeah, there's no Joker or Harley in this one. Breathe easy, they're in the next chapter. Promise. As always, a big shout out to my beta, without whom this would be closer to a muddled mess than a story. Good stuff comin' folks!