Title: The Visit
Permission to archive: Please tell me first!
Category:JHQ of a sort
Genre: Drama, Angst, Suspense
Rating: T (For Sexual Innuendo)
Summary: The Joker gets quite a surprise when a stranger pays him a visit in his holding cell.
Keywords: Joker, Harley Quinn, Jail
Disclaimer: All characters and settings herein belong to their respective companies, with the exception of the few original characters, and I receive no profit for this venture. Like they'd pay me to write fanfiction.
Author Notes:This idea struck me out of the blue and took me aboutthree hours to get out on paper fully written. It's my first foray into the JHQfandom,and the comic genre in general. Weird huh? I guess I was waiting for just the right inspiration! A special thanks to userSno-Chan who is responsible for the impeccablespelling,punctuation and grammar you are about to witness. DUN DUNDUN! I highly recommend her mad skills for all your beta needs:-)
Enjoy! And review if you feel the urge.
It wasn't the best cell he'd ever been in, but it would do for now. He never spent much time in these kinds of holding cells anyway; they were just a detour, a way station. The Joker lay on the hard block of wood they called a bed, simply waiting for the guards to come and take him back to Arkham.
A foiled robbery had landed him in here. Something had gone wrong, the Bat had gotten there too soon, the hired muscle wasn't fast enough, the sprinklers went off. Ah well. His heart hadn't really been in it anyway. That same boredom he had felt in the midst of the S.W.A.T team tear gas and the tied up hostages still lingered. It was all he could do to keep from yawning.
He'd gone without a fight this time. Oh screams and laughter surely, some profanity for good measure, but no real escape attempt. He needed a vacation anyhow. It would do him good, give him a chance to recharge his batteries and be ready to take on Gotham with renewed interest.
He began to whistle absent-mindedly. It was quiet here. A special cell all for him, flattering really. They sure knew how to treat a celebrity.
Suddenly the outer door to the room opened and he heard someone enter.
Without opening his eyes Joker called out, "It's about time, whose balloon do you have to pop to get a mai tai around here?"
The guard responded with a simple and direct, "Ya got a visitor clown, on yer feet."
This caught his attention and lifting one eye he saw the guard escort a woman into the room.
"Now that's what I call service! Conjugal visits, all part of the Club Med package!" Joker laughed.
The guard hit the bars of Joker's cell with his nightstick threateningly. "Hey! Pipe down in there. I'll be right outside clown, so no funny business. They're gonna come in an hour and a half to haul your sorry ass back to Arkham."
The Joker's only response was to bark at him like a dog.
"I'll be right outside, miss,"the guard said to the woman. He paused and took another look at the raving maniac behind him, who was now singing an old protest song from the sixties. "And good luck," he added for extra measure, then left, closing the door behind him.
As soon as the door shut, Joker ceased his singing and peered at the woman on the other side of the bars. He was intensely curious as to what her business with him was. But he wasn't about to let her know that.
"So, let me guess. Social worker. Tough break, you must've drawn the short straw."
The woman didn't answer him.
Joker tried again. "No? Oooh! I know! Court appointed psychiatrist! To verify my insanity plea! You could've saved yourself the trouble of coming down here, there's a file on me the size of Moby Dick at the DA's office. It includes some of my artwork. I enjoy working in a crayon medium. Very freeing, wouldn't you agree?"
Again he was met with silence. Inwardly Joker frowned.
What's with this broad? Why doesn't she say anything? This is A material!
He tried to make her out in the shadow of the room but she was still too far away, lingering by the door. Joker tried to look nonchalant and sat on the cot, crossing his arms.
"I don't suppose you're here to ask me if I'm happy with my long distance provider are you?"
She didn't answer but began to move closer to him. The woman seemed timid but there was a determination driving her forward. Finally, she stopped a few feet away from the bars and Joker got a good look at her.
She was a petite woman, and looked to be in her mid twenties. Her dark brown hair was pulled back from a slender and delicate face. Something about her seemed vaguely familiar but nothing really rang any bells. She wasn't a bad looking dame all told, Joker thought, but that still didn't answer the question of what she wanted with him. He doubted it was an autograph.
"Look sweetheart, this whole mystery thing isn't my style. You want the Riddle; red hair, kinda fruity looking, you'll know him when you see him." He waved his hand dismissively at her.
"Mr. Joker," she finally said. It looked like it had taken all her energy just to get out those two words and make them as firm as possible.
Joker narrowed his eyes. The voice was familiar too, but he couldn't place it. Maybe she was a former hostage? Or the friend of a friend of a friend of an old victim? He could hardly be expected to keep them all straight. Still, it nagged him. "Do I know you?" he asked her.
"We've never met," she replied, trying to remain poised despite her slight trembling.
"So we've never met, you're not a shrink, you're not a case worker, and I'm assuming you're probably not a priest here to calm my aching soul. I've got it! The answer is - I don't care! Thank you for playing, there are some lovely parting gifts for you on the way out."
But she didn't move to leave. Instead she sat on a nearby stool and continued facing into the cell. Observing him like he was some animal on display at the zoo. He didn't like that one bit.
"Come to stare at the beast in his cage? Is that it? My newspaper clippings and TV news spots aren't enough to satisfy curiosity?"
"Don't flatter yourself."
Joker stopped, momentarily stunned. It was the most declarative statement he'd her say since she walked in here. The meresuggestion seemed to appall her.
And again there was that nagging feeling that he knew her from some place. He couldn't contain himself any longer. Joker got up and crossed the small space to rest his hands on the bars.
"You look familiar."
"I shouldn't wonder."
He stared at her more intensely. Trying to blur his vision and make a connection. Suddenly, a thought dawned on him. It began to magnify the more he looked at the woman sitting infront of him. Features in her face, her voice, the hint of a familiar accent...
"What's your name?" he asked warily.
She looked directly at him, with hate for the first time completely apparent in her eyes. "I'm Mina Quinzel, Mr. Joker. Harleen's sister."
For the first time he let the mask of indifference slip and a look of genuine surprise gripped his smiling face. This was a completely unexpected turn of events. One he was not prepared for. Harley's sister. He hadn't even known she had a sister. He had always just assumed that with her annoying need for constant attention she was an only child.
The woman seemed to be taking joy from his shock. She let it go on a bit more before she continued. "I take it Harleen never mentioned me."
Joker shook himself clear of his momentary lapse and a smile spread across his face once again. "Can't say that she did. But then, I guess it's never too late to meet the in-laws, eh sis?" He held out his arms through the bars as though to invite a hug,but she kept her distance andglared at him.
"Shy? That's alright. If you want to know a secret so am I. So what brings you here,eh? Belated congratulations? You need money? A christening! I've always wanted to be a godparent! I-"
"Shut up!" She lost her temper and stood, causing the stool to fall. Her fingers curled as if she would love nothing more than to reach through the bars and ring his neck.
"Now now, is that any way to treat family?"
"You are not my family! You're an inhuman monster!" She stormed up to the bars and gripped them herself, shaking. "You destroyed our family! You destroyed my sister! And for what? Some twisted joke?"
"Hey sweets, no one ever held a gun to Harley's head, except all the times I did. She wanted to be there, and who was I to say that she couldn't play?"
"A twisted joke from a twisted mind! You don't deserve to live!"
Mina broke off. She was breathing heavily and some of her hair had come loose and was falling around her face, giving her an almost crazed look. Despite the noise, the guard did not come and they remained undisturbed.
She walked away for a moment and tried to compose herself while the Joker watched her every move intently. Now this was interesting. The more he observed her the more like Harley she seemed. It went beyond looks and that slight nasal accent.(Like nails on a chalk board, and NOT in a good way)
Back in the old days, when Harley was his shrink, Joker had observed something in her that he saw now in this sister of hers. Harley had tried to hide it from the world but he saw right through. That there was a little flame just burning away inside her, beneath the surface, that if properly stoked and let out, could develop into a full fledged blow torch. He liked to toy with that fire, twisting it to burn to his whims. Seeing all the different things he could do to add fuel to it. Seeing how many different ways he could make it burn; how many different ways he could make it go out and then restart again.
And suddenly a horrible and brilliant idea began to form in his mind. The corners of his mouth turned up even higher, almost inhumanly impossible. Delightfully devious, and yet so obvious. Finally, a challenge! Just what he needed to perk himself up again!
He had never had sisters before.
One hour. Starting now.
She had mostly calmed down. There were a few stray tears on her cheeks, but she quickly wiped them away. Mina brought herself to look at him again and was suddenly at a loss for words. Now that she was here, finally face to face with him, she couldn't think of another thing to say. All the times she had dreamt about this moment, to suddenly draw a blank seemed incredibly unfair. But mostly she was ashamed for losing control infront of him. He probably fed off of it. She tried not to think about her sister but it was almost impossible.
Mina saw him now, behind the bars, in that purple suit contrasting so starkly to the pallor of his skin, the grotesque lines of his face, permanently etched. He was so foul. Oh Harleen, what were you thinking?
"Are you alright?" he asked suddenly.
Now it was her turn to look surprised. Was that concern?
"What do you care?" was her immediate response.
"I deserve that," he said. Then his features softened and he tentatively asked, "How is Harley?"
He saw Mina's mouth drop open, and a squeak came out as she tried to utter words, but found herself unable to speak.
Joker continued, "I hadn't heard from her and I was starting to get worried. You know how she can get sometimes -"
"You know exactly where she is," she hissed at him. "She's at Gotham General in a coma. A coma you put her in with one of your horrible stunts!"
He stopped and looked her. She was telling the truth, she had to be.
"Coma?" he repeated, as if it were a foreign word.
Mina scoffed at him. "Don't play innocent, you know exactly how it happened; that arms heist last month. She was there trying to defend you, no doubt after something went wrong. It was all over the news, that footage of the two of you on top of the Gotham National building. Batman had you running scared, you were cornered. And you -You pushed her off the roof."
Her voice cracked as fresh tears sprung from her eyes. She couldn't help it. The image was burned in her mind, watching it on the news being played over and over again, her sister falling and falling, screaming as she fell until finally she hit the bottom. Mina went on in between hiccups.
"You used her as a distraction. You knew Batman would try and save her, but he couldn't make it in time. It happened too fast, she fell too fast." The young woman supported herself against one of the room's many walls and covered her face. "And I knew, I knew I had to come down here. I had to look you in the eye finally, after all this time. I had to look into the face of the man responsible for my sister's fall."
It was obvious she was not simply referring to Harley's fall off the top of the Gotham National building. No, it went deeper than that. This was almost seven years worth of anger and hurt finally rushing to the surface. The nights of worry whenever they would get word that Harleen had been implicated in yet another one of his schemes, seeing her poor mother's heart breaking under the stress of losing her eldest daughter. The feelings of helplessness knowing that she was out there, being manipulated and controlled by this evil thing and never once coming to them for help, or even letting them know that she was okay.
What hurt the most was Harleen refusing to see them when they tried to visit her at Arkham. He had twisted her mind so much that she didn't want to be associated with her own family, her blood. It was all his fault. He was responsible.
Right now he looked sick, she observed. Mina found the courage to come closer, not taking her eyes off him for a second. Wondering what he could possibly be thinking.
Finally he looked at her blankly. "I don't know what to say."
"Ha! Well I'm sure that's a first," Mina exclaimed snidely.
"Is she going to be ok?" was his next question.
"Why should I tell you? You're the one that put her there."
"Please," he said, more insistently, "I've gotta know."
Mina paused, looking at him skeptically. "Well, she didn't die, miraculously," she began, eyes narrowed in contempt. "And although she sustained massive trauma and internal injury from the impact, there is no brain damage. If she ever wakes up, she could live a normal life. If she ever wakes up, that is." The last part sent a chill up her spine. And the picture of her sister lying in Gotham General, hooked up to various machines, lost somewhere between life and death, threatened to push her over the edge again.
The Joker let out of a breath of what seemed like relief.
"What are you so happy about? You didn't kill her, I'd thought you'd be disappointed."
Now it was his turn to look angered."Of course I wouldn't expect you to understand."
"Understand what? You used her! She was convenient and the second she stopped having a purpose you tried to get rid of her. But you never could get the job done right. And stupid her, she always came back for more." Mina was pacing now, looking extremely agitated but not knowing quite what to do about it.
All the second hand reports she'd received, from the news, from the doctors at Arkham, that her sister's fixation was so deep they feared she might never be free of it. That despite all the bruises and broken bones and attempted murder, she insisted that he loved her, and that she loved him. She would pine away for him in her cell, calling out to him sometimes. All of it falling on deaf, uncaring ears.
"This may come as a shock to you, but it takes two to tango," was the Joker's reply.
She stopped pacing."What are you saying?"
"That maybe you're painting yourself a pretty picture of your sister that's not the whole story."
Mina gaped at him. "Are you saying that she wanted it? That she was asking for it? Is that it?" She stormed to the cell again. Even at her full height he towered over her, but with the bars between them and her anger fueling her she felt as though she could take him down by herself.
"You think you know the whole story, but you don't."
Could he possibly be acting hurt by her accusations! The idea of it infuriated her even more. She could barely keep her anger in check and focused.
"And just what is the story?" She demanded.
He backed away from her and leaned against the far wall of his cell. "Why should I bother? You've already made up your mind."
She gripped the bars tightly. Part of her wanted to walk out then and there, but she knew she couldn't, not now. Besides, what could he possibly have to say for himself? How could he possibly absolve himself from any wrongdoing against Harleen? It was an open and shut case.
"You brought it up," she finally said.
He ran a hand through his tangled mess of green curls. It seemed like a gesture of frustration.
This did not seem like the almighty Joker. Public enemy number one, the criminal mastermind that had brought down numerous dedicated police officers, and had the gall to storm Metropolis and take on the likes of Lex Luthor. This was just a man.
A broken, pathetic man in a purple suit.
"When Harley thought she could cure me, then write a tell-all book about it and cash in on my life, I wanted to teach her a lesson, I admit that. It was insulting! Anyone would feel the same way! But I wasn't counting on her to be so -" he trailed off.
"Go on," Mina said, crossing her arms.
"Well, you know your sister better than anyone right? You know how, persuasive she can be." He looked to the woman, waiting as the realization dawned on her features.
"You can't expect me to believe that SHE seduced YOU!" The idea was almost laughable, not to mention completely sickening.
"Is it so hard to believe? Like I said, you know your sister better than anyone. You know her past, you've seen the way she gets what she wants. You're what? Four years younger?"
"Ah, then you've had a front row seat. If there's one thing Harley knows, it's how to get a man to do what she wants him to do."
Her first thought was to write it off as ridiculous, he could see it in her face. But then the Joker saw it sinking in. All those straight A's from High School to Gotham U, how many of them were earned? The expensive presents that would come to the house, even the internship at Arkham. He knew it all because Harley had told him. And he knew that sister dear was just as wise to it.
"So what?" Mina shot back, recovering her stance. "Harleen used her charm to try and win you over so she could write her book. That still doesn't explain, OR EXCUSE, what you've done."
"You're still not getting it? Listen, your sister was daffy before I met her. Never quite had all her screws tightened. You know that! You've grown up with her. You've seen. So, she meets me, she gets obsessed with me, hardly MY fault. She starts demanding more 'private sessions', andI don't have to tell you there wasn't much psychoanalyzing going on there. She was using more than just 'charm'." He gave her a knowing look and she turned her head away.
"Eventually, she gets so wacky she practically hands me the key to the Asylum and says, 'have fun on the outside!' "
"But you did it."
"I'm a criminal!" He threw his hands up in the air, exasperated. "A thief, a bad guy, a villain, if you wanna get overdramatic about it." He was now holding onto the bars from his side of the cell, looming over her small frame. "You think I wouldn't jump at a chance like that? Now who's crazy?"
She colored slightly. It had been a rather stupid remark, but she shook it off quickly.
"I don't know how else to tell you," he continued plainly. "Yeah, maybe meeting me made her finally lose her marbles, but it's nothing I did. I just played along. What was she to me then? Some fast food psychiatrist who wanted to use me like a piece of meat. Yeah, I took a break when I got it handed to me. But it changed. Things were different after Arkham, after Harley started being Harley."
Neither of them spoke for what seemed like an eternity. They'd already been in there for an hour, and still no guard had come at their yelling. Joker doubted that he was even outside the door anymore. But it wouldn't be long before they came to take him in to Arkham and the game would be over. He had to proceed very cautiously for these next few moves, but the madman welcomed it. Things were more exciting when there was a time limit involved.
She really was a tiny thing, maybe an inch shorter than Harley, and that was already smaller than average. Mina had started to become aware of how close they were, being separated by only the steel bars, and her discomfort was plain. She moved away to right the fallen stool and sat down, looking like she had just run a marathon.
"Look, I'm not saying this to hurt your feelings, I'm not even telling you things you don't already know, but if you wanna carry around revenge fantasies maybe you should get your facts straight first, that's all I'm saying." He leaned his head slightly between two bars. "Didn't you ever stop to think where these stories were coming from?"
"You're saying everything I've ever been told is a lie? I don't think so!" Mina replied with scorn, but she didn't look at him.
"Look, I'm no Boy Scout, I fully admit that. Name a bad thing and I've probably done it, maybe even four or five times. But think about your sources. The media, the cops, even the Big Black Bat himself, you don't think they'd miss out on a chance to make me into an even bigger creep than I already am? It's what they live for! It's their bread and butter, baby!"
"No," she said firmly from the stool, "I don't buy it." She shook her head vehemently. "What about everything she admitted, to the doctors. They have proof of bodily harm - "
"Crime's a tough gig, sweetheart. You get hurt. Heck, I'm living proof." He gestured then to his face, born of a night's crime, forever branding him a criminal and an outcast. He almost didn't have a choice but to live outside society, being the square peg in a round hole as he was.
"Yeah I admit it, I was a little rough with her," Joker said uncomfortably. "You know how she can be. I'm a guy who works solo. But I never forced her to stay. And anytime I 'tried to kill her' it was just the girl being in the wrong place at the wrong time, getting in the way, showing up unannounced and causing confusion. I warned her she was going to get into trouble! It was almost like she did it on purpose!
She may have been nuts, but I have to admit I cared about her. Why do you think I never busted her out of Arkham as many times as I could've? It's 'cause I didn't want her to get hurt. She wasn't made for crime! She just wanted to be near me." He stopped, seeming to be momentarily caught off guard by his own words. The clown shifted against the bars of his cell and took a deep breath.
"If you cared so much about her," Mina asked weakly, "Then why? Why did you keep her around? Why not just let her go?"
"Maybe because, deep down, I was lonely," he said thickly, "And I wanted the company."
She couldn't believe her ears. The Joker had just admitted to having feelings of loneliness, of having genuine feelings for her sister. Such a thing was unheard of. She stood up determinedly, "And what if I don't believe you? How do I know you're telling the truth?"
"You don't," he replied coolly, "But if you didn't buy it youwouldn't still be here." His words splashed her like ice cold water. "Face it kiddo, your sister went Looney Tunes, and that's why she's in that hospital bed right now. I kept hoping she'd wise up, but I guess I couldn't get through to her. It was just her luck to get mixed up with a guy like me." He ended with one hand resting on the bars and the other running halfway through his hair again, the same frustrated, helpless gesture as before.
She approached him cautiously, studying him, trying to find some shred of evidence on his face that she could latch on to. He watched her taking in every detail, but kept his face a blank. "We always hoped she'd snap out of it," she said at last, her voice taking on a heavy tone.
"You and me both. Don't get me wrong, there were some good times." A sad smile crept onto his face, as he recalled some distant memory. Mina found it rather off-putting. "She tried so hard to make a happy home. But I guess there's just no pleasing some people. I remember how she'd clean the hideout from top to bottom and then BOOM! Something would explode and the place would be a mess again! And those damned Hyenas!" he laughed now, "Poor things, she would've changed their diapers if I'd let her put them on."
He continued laughing happily and Mina had to admit she didn't have much trouble imagining her sister playing house with two wild animals. It was the same when they were kids. All the pets they'd had that had been subjected to bonnets and bibs, it had to be against some sort of animal rights code.
Joker's laughter dissolved into soft giggles, as he wiped a tear away. "Ah, Harls always had this vision of a split level funhouse with Joker Juniors and little blonde girls in pigtails running around, pitter patter!"
The thought was so absurd to Mina that she had to shake her head with a grim grin on her lips. "That doesn't surprise me. Although I don't know where she would get Little Blonde girls in pig tails, considering she's not a natural blonde."
The Joker smiled at her observation, "You know you're right! It's funny, now that I think about it. She must've had hair closer to yours, right?"
"Yes. She started dying her once she went off to college. Called it a 'career move'."
"Very clever," he mused with pride. "You look so much like her; I'm surprised I didn't see it when you first walked in."
It wasn't the first time Mina had heard that. She gave her usual explanation. "We're very different people, always have been. I guess our personalities even make us look different from each other."
"I see what you mean. You seem like you have a good head on your shoulders."He paused, abruptly, "Oh, now this is embarrassing, I've just blanked on your name!"
"It's Mina," she reminded him.
"Mina?" He whistled. "Man your parents sure hated you both didn't they? Harleen and Mina. I'm a psycho and even I wouldn't do something so cruel to someone."
"Excuse me!" she exclaimed at his rudeness.
He raised his hands and grinned. "Just a joke! But in all seriousness, they're good names. Unique! It fits you, like you don't take much bull from anyone. Never lose that, it's a great quality, it'll get you far in life. I should know, I wrote the book on BS!"
He cackled, and she smiled her first genuine one since she had been in his presence.
His laughter petered off and he looked into her eyes, suddenly very serious. "Listen, all joking aside, I know that there's nothing I can ever say that will ever make up for what I've done, or what you think I've done, but I am truly sorry. I'm sorry to her, and well, to you."
Her smile faded as she became aware of how intense his gaze was on her at the moment. Her grip on the bars tensed slightly. "What?"
"I know it seems odd coming from me, ME of all people! But I just have to say it." His hand subtly slipped through the bar and came to rest on hers.
"I've been at this a long time. I've killed a lot of people, maimed a bunch too. And I'll tell you it's all fun and games until they actually make you look. Then things sort of get to you."
She eyed him warily but continued to listen. He looked down, almost ashamed, and went on.
"You know they say that in the army, when they're teaching them to kill and drop bombs and things, they tell them to not think about what they're doing. Then it makes it easier to blow up villages and wipe out cities. Well it's sort of the same thing with me."
He looked up and met her gaze with a sad and haunted look. "It's all a barrel of laughs until you meet the people; till you think, 'Hey, that guy was just picking his kid up from school and now he'll never do it again cause that fire hydrant I rigged iced him right through the windshield.'"
He lowered his head again. "Or until I meet someone like you. And then it all comes rushing back, that for every person I hurt, it's like I hurt three more. They've got friends, and family."
Joker could hear her breath quicken as he made a more bold gesture and lightly touched her face, which was now pressed up against the bars, looking up at him with wide eyes.
"It keeps me up at night sometimes. In dreams they chase me. And now I'll always have it on my head that I hurt Harley. I hurt her so badly." Finally he turned his gaze on her full force, burning her with his eyes. "And now I know I've hurt you too. And that'll stay with me forever."
They were nearly face to face, close enough for him to see the specks of blue in her hazel, half closed eyes. "I'm sorry I don't know why I should tell you this. It's just been so long since someone's listened."
Joker felt her other hand lightly touch his and took that as a final barrier breaking away. He leaned forward and closed the distance between them, catching her partly open lips with his own. She let out a soft cry, but then fell silent. He reached out and pulled her as close to him as the bars would allow and ran his hands up her back. Mina reciprocated by moving her hands up into his wild locks of hair, losing her fingers in the thick strands.
She grew more animated under his touch, and covered every inch of his mouth with her own. His tongue shot out and began licking her full lips, tasting her lipstick until there was none left to taste.
His hands began to wander south, towards the hem of her dress. When there was no resistance he almost laughed out loud. It was almost too easy!
Without warning the door rattled. Startled, she pulled away from him. When it began to swing open she retreated even further and madly rushed to fix herself.
The guard entered and found nothing out of the ordinary, except that the Joker seemed abnormally quiet and even a bit flustered. "I'm sorry, Miss," he said addressing Mina,"But they've come for him.I'm afraid you'll have to leave."
Mina looked at the guard. "I understand." Her voice was surprisingly level. "I've said all I had to say." She picked up her purse where she had dropped it by the stool and stood in front of the Joker once more. He appeared angry that they had been interrupted, but there was nothing he could do. She fixed him with a strange look he couldn't identify, but could only assume was half shock, half delirium.
"Goodbye, Mr. Joker," was all she said before she turned and walked silently out of the room, closing the door behind her.
As soon as she was gone the guard turned the attentions back to his prisoner, "I want you ready to go in ten minutes. You got that? For ten more minutes you're still mine and if you step out of line I'll split your skull."
"Aww Chuck, and here I thought we were growing apart. You DO care!" The Joker blew him a kiss from his cell to which the guard recoiled.
"Sicko," he mumbled, and left.
Finally alone, the Joker cursed to himself. He had been so close. But it hadn't been a total loss. After all, he had done it! So what if he hadn't 'sealed the deal' as it were? Getting her mind was just as good, and besides, it was her mind he was more interested in anyway, that was the real challenge. Her body would've just been an added perk.
Oh well. Can't win 'em all, he thought to himself merrily.
He felt giddy, like he was walking on air. What a story he would have to tell to the fellas in Arkham. They'd always been a twinge jealous that he had a hot piece like Harley at his beck and call. Now with this new conquest it would only serve to increase his already infamous reputation. The thought excited him. He could feel himself sweating. It was hot in his cell, much hotter than a usual mid-afternoon. He wiped his brow with the back of his hand, still grinning.
His heart was beating very fast; fluttering. Could he really be that elated? His vision began to blur and the sensation of flying became more like falling. What was happening? The room started to spin, slowly at first, then fast and faster until he felt like he was on a giant tilt-o-whirl. Joker began to panic and called out, "Guard!" He ripped off his jacket, followed quickly by his dress shirt. It was so hot. He was burning up.
"Guard!" he called again, although this time it took much more effort. He grasped at the bars as he fell forward and hit his head on their steel. But he registered no pain, in fact he felt nothing; just the spinning and the constant heat. His mouth began to grow dry and his throat parched.
The guard entered, finally hearing Joker's cries for help. "Now what is it?"
Joker gasped but could not speak, his throat had closed to almost nothing.
The guard didn't seem to know what to do, "What are you trying to pull?" The prisoner had started to go into convulsions and suddenly vomited on the floor of his cell.
The guard cried out in alarm. The Joker was not faking. He quickly radioed for help and within seconds medics from Arkham, who had only just arrived to transfer the famous criminal to the asylum, burst into the room and opened the cell door. They tried to restrain the thrashing Joker in order to figure out what was wrong.
"He's choking! And may be going into shock"
"Holy shit, he's burning up!"
As they worked above him, Joker felt them start to blur and fade away as darkness overcame him. The last thing he heard before he lost consciousness was someone saying, "…needs an injection. He's been poisoned…"
Mina Quinzel walked away from the police precinct. Outside it was a surprisingly temperate fall day for Gotham City, peaceful almost. She made her way to a café not far from the station, where a little outdoor dining area was set up with tables and umbrellas for the diners who wished to take advantage of an all too rare pleasant day.
Mina sat at a table where another woman was already seated. The woman wore a large hat and a long coat, despite the beautiful weather, and her eyes were covered by large sunglasses. She sat casually with a cup of herbal tea, seemingly enjoying the warmth of the cup on her hands, and looked up to Mina as she joined her at the table.
"Well?" she asked.
Mina looked at her and nodded. At that the other woman broke out into a large smile.
"Good," she replied. A few more moments of silence passed before Mina spoke.
"Do you think he'll die?" she asked, not sure if she wanted to know the answer.
"If life were fair I would say yes. But it isn't, so I'll hazard to guess no," said the woman in glasses dryly. She studied Mina for a moment. "Does that bother you?"
"I don't know," Mina replied honestly. "He deserved to die. I know that. But I've never -"she stopped to keep from having an outburst and drawing attention to their meeting in the public setting. She tried to take a deep breath.
"Well if he doesn't it won't be for lack of trying. Maybe he's just impossible to kill. Who knows." The woman took a calm sip of her tea.
Mina reached into her purse and pulled out a tube of lipstick. She grasped it for a second before handing it off to the woman seated across from her. "Here. This is yours."
"Keep it," she said, pushing it back towards Mina. "You'll never know when you might need it again." She smiled slightly.
Mina hesitantly put the tube back. She could feel its weight in her purse.
"It was just like you said," she blurted out.
The woman nodded. "I knew it would be. He tried to turn you to his side? Twist logic so that he came out smelling like a rose?" Mina nodded. "And he kissed you, obviously." She said that last sentence with a tinge of revulsion.
But another thought was nagging Mina. She struggled to find the words. "I found myself…I almost…" She looked up, with a look of hurt in her eyes. "I almost believed him," she finally managed to say.
The woman across from her simply nodded again, as if she didn't find it surprising in the slightest.
"How did you know, about everything?" Mina pressed.
She shrugged. "Because I know him. I know how he works, I know his methods. I've seen them done enough times on Harley. It's why she always went back. I'd rather spit on him than look at him, but if I can say one thing for the bastard, he knows his way around the human mind. I knew he wouldn't be able to resist the lure of getting to you. It's how he operates. One big, sick joke."
Mina let that thought sink in as the woman finished her tea and threw a dollar on the table.
"I'm getting lazy in my old age. I would've never paid back in the day,"she mused, and was beginning to leave when Mina cried out to her.
"Thank you." It seemed an awkward thing to say, but it was all she could think of.
"Happy to do it," she said simply. "What will you do now?"
In all honesty, Mina hadn't really thought about it. "I guess I'll go visit Harleen in the hospital, try to be there if she wakes up. Maybe bring her some flowers."
The woman smiled and lowered her sunglasses a bit to reveal a piercing, emerald green eye. "Already taken care of." She winked, and righted her glasses again.
Mina laughed weakly. "Right. Well, thanks again. For everything…and for always looking out for Harley," she added sincerely.
The woman nodded and turned to walk away, but stopped short one more time. "You know," she said turning around, very seriously, "if he does survive, he will come looking for you."
Mina swallowed. She had thought about that going in, it had frightened her, but she had done the deed anyway. Now that her ordeal was over, she didn't know how she felt. "I know," was all she said.
"I'll keep an eye out," the woman stated gently, before disappearing into the crowd.
Mina sat at the café table, with the sunlight shining around her, the birds chirping in nearby trees, but she was numb to it all. It was impossible to put a label on what she felt at that moment. Relief? Victory? Disgust? Fear? Regret?
Uncertainty was the best she could do.
At that moment she heard ambulance sirens not far off and felt her stomach drop. Chances are he was in that ambulance right now. She had poisoned him, as planned, for Harley. It was the right thing to do.
But why had it been so difficult? Why had she almost blurted out the secret? She had nearly ruined it all. But her half formed warning was passed off as a surprised moan. Suddenly, she felt slightly less angry at Harley. Less…judgmental.
Thinking of her sister, she got up from the table, ready to leave the bright sunny café and hail a taxi to take her to Gotham General.
Mina prayed Harley would wake up soon. She desperately needed someone to talk to.
Someone who understood.