The Joker spent his afternoon watching the snow, his hands pressed up against the glass. He giggled often, a sound that upset Poison Ivy more than she was already.

Cold weather and wintertime had her bad tempered to begin with because all of her 'babies' were sleeping or dead, and she protested that the temperature inside her cell made her 'wilt'.

The Joker, sensitive soul he was, commented at one point that her plant talk was driving him crazy and that she shouldn't be a Grinch because she was ruining his fun.

Given what The Joker did to people who spoiled his fun, she retreated and spent the day sulking in a corner crooning to the mold she found there.

The Riddler was exchanging Christmas-themed riddles with The Mad Hatter.

The Penguin had gotten out of Arkham, of course, because he'd contested the decision to put him there in the first place. His lawyer, the best money could buy, squashed any rumors or evidence of mental illness and had him transferred to Blackgate. The word circulating through Arkham was that he was on the outside, and had spent Christmas free. So, of course, no one was talking about The Penguin, because they were disgruntled.

The only real event of interest was when guards came to pull The Joker out of the day room early.

"A session?" The Riddler raised an eyebrow.

The Joker waved. "Another day, another doctor." He laughed and cracked his knuckles for emphasis.

"Our holidays don't last very long, do they?" The Riddler said to no one in particular. "The day after Christmas, and we are expected to move on as usual?"

"I believe so," The Mad Hatter said sadly.


The Joker stopped smiling as soon as he was faced with the person on the other side of the table. His sources inside Arkham had already allowed him to memorize every detail of the despicable little brat that thought she was worthy to analyze him and pick his brain for good information about psychopaths. The blonde hair in a bun, the glasses perched on her pert little nose, her light makeup and thin, toned body. Why, she looked hardly out of high school!

He felt rage slowly building inside him like a vat of chemicals slowly coming to boil.

Harleen, for her part, was excited to be sitting in the same room with him. He was suddenly life-size instead of the grainy photograph in his case file, and it was immediately apparent that he was nearly skeleton-thin and a good six feet, six inches tall.

And he was staring at her. There was a gravely calm expression on his face.

She said the first thing that came to mind. "Merry Christmas!"

His expression didn't change.

Her smile began to fade. "Er…Mr. Joker? Did I say something wrong?"

He continued to stare at her.

She laughed nervously. "Come on, now. We can't start the session if you don't talk."

There was a five minute wait before she got the message.

"You don't want the session to start, do you?" She tapped her pen against her notebook, looking at him keenly.

He slowly raised one eyebrow. His mouth was still set in that frightening non-scowl. "Clever."

"You don't have to talk if you don't want to," she said. She held up her hands, pen dangling between her fingers. "It's impossible to trust me on the first visit. There's been so many mishaps. I understand. I'm your friend."

His eyes narrowed.

She swallowed, hard. She put on a bright smile. "What do you want to do? Wanna play a game?"

The Joker curled his lip and growled.

"No! I mean, you pick one."

"A game?"

His first words. His voice sent a shiver down her spine. He was savagely resentful, and the calculation in his words made her recall every comment ever written in The Joker's file concerning his genius-level intelligence.

She beamed. "Right!"

He glared at her.

"I'm serious." She put on her best face to prove it. "I won't be evaluating you on your game. I just want to know you better. Let's play a game together. You enjoy games." She tapped his file with her pen to indicate she'd read up on him.

A smile that foreshadowed spilled blood appeared on his face. "Oh, I'm afraid you won't like my kind of game…doctor."

Yes, she knew what games he was talking about. No, she wasn't going to say so. "Try me!"

The Joker shrugged. His eyes were locked on her intently. "It's your funeral."

Just when she thought that was it, he lunged over the table and grabbed her by the throat.

She dropped her pen and his file.

In her surprise, she was going to say that he hadn't let her know the game was starting, but with his hand around her throat, she only managed a hoarse squeak.

"Do I choke you to death or do you make me let go?" The Joker grinned from ear to ear. "Who wins, doctor? Ahahahahahaha!"

She would have panicked, really, but for some reason in her lightheadedness she noticed that she was very close to The Joker. Closer than most doctors probably got. And he was warm. People thought he must be cold because of the color of his skin.

But if anything, she thought, Mr. J's warmer than an ordinary human being.

She smiled up at him dazedly.

His smile dropped off his face the moment hers appeared, a weird look in his eyes. The deer-in-the-headlights look.

He dropped her and turned around.

She found herself breathing the cool, musty air of the room again, lying on her back on the thin carpet. She reached up and adjusted her reading glasses.

"It was a joke," he snapped before she could get up. "It was a joke. I was joking." His voice was shrill and defensive. "It was just a joke! Laugh already!"

She bit her lip, partly from confusion and partly from genuine amusement at his reaction to knowing he'd done something wrong. She pushed herself up, got to her feet, and brushed herself off. Part of her couldn't help but humor him. She was his doctor, after all.

The Joker turned around at the sound of Harleen's quiet giggling.

"You're laughing."

She shrugged. "It was funny."

The Joker stared at her with a dumbfounded expression. He looked almost frightened.

She smiled at him with genuine affection, a feeling she pulled out from somewhere deep in her chest she never knew existed. "Wanna play any other games with me before our session ends?"

He dropped into his chair, still staring at her. His expression was slowly changing to reproach. "You're daffy. Loony tunes."

She felt her smile widen. She folded her hands under her chin and leaned forward on the table. "Yeah?"

He smiled in wary amusement. "Yeah. You're nuttier than Planter's peanuts, lady. How'd you end up a doctor? You ought to be locked away with us, the way you were acting. I'd put you in the suicide ward." He laughed, but he still looked at her as though she were some heretofore undiscovered creature.

She shrugged. "Well, it's a thin line between us, Mr. Joker. I've always said so."

He rubbed his chin. "Have you now?"


He stared at her for a moment before answering. "I may just get to like you, doc." He turned away and raised an eyebrow. "Don't hold your breath, though."

It only took a few seconds for the remark to register before she started laughing.

The Joker glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. A surprised smile flitted across his face for a moment.

Then it disappeared at the sound of the door opening.

"Time's up." The guard gestured to The Joker and glared. An obvious 'will you come here or will I have to get you the hard way?'

The Joker put on a face of utmost dignity, nodded to Dr. Quinzel, and slowly got up from his chair. He walked the short distance to the door as though he didn't care one way or another, barely letting the guard know he even noticed someone was there. "Well, I guess our time's up, doctor. I know it's too soon for the both of us, but I have other things to do. I am a busy man, after all."

He turned to look at the guard with an expression of disdain. "Butler. Prepare my room."

The guard grabbed him by the arm and yanked him down the hallway.

The Joker furtively smiled in satisfaction at the sound of Dr. Quinzel unsuccessfully trying not to laugh.

Inspiration struck him. "Merry Christmas!" he called back towards the room at the top of his lungs.

The guard whacked him upside the head for the disturbance, but why would he care?

He stuck his tongue out at the guard and insisted on walking under his own power.