This is a follow up to my first ever Joker/Harley Quinn fic: Harley Quinn: Soliloquy (accessible through my profile). It picks up pretty much where Soliloquy finishes, and reading Soliloquy will doubtless be helpful, but isn't absolutely crucial.
This is more a relationship exploration fic than anything else, so please don't be expecting a lot of action or trademark Joker capers (unless you especially enjoy watching him unravel Harley's mind). It is told from Joker's POV, which is a very ambitious thing to do, to be sure. I'm also exploring the sides of Joker we hear about in the comics: that he can be playful and harmless, seductive and charming; but which we really haven't been seeing to great effect these days. My personal belief is much of his power over Harley is psychological and whilst there is physical violence it happens less than people think it does and his real abuse of her is the head-fuck she's constantly subjected to. Which, I might add, I also don't think is entirely non-consensual. He's cunning, shred, manipulative and loves his power over her. And he's capable of great subtlety as well as great ostentatiousness. I'm not sure how many chapters it will be, as yet, but it shouldn't be too long.
Many thanks go to zhinxy on livejournal. Through delicious discussions with her on Joker, Harley and our theories on their relationship, many of the ideas in this fic emerged.
There will be strong themes in this fiction relating to consensual domestic violence (yes there is such a thing), Dominant/submissive dynamics, sadomasochism and power exchange. You have been warned.
I hope you enjoy it!
Joker opened his eyes and breathed in.
At once a hundred different threads of thought began vying for his attention:
…should've left a gift for Lexie, not really any way to show gratitude oh well I could always send him a bunch of pansies… heh…
… parachute silk! That would work. Perfect. Then all he needed was the…
… it was Night at the Opera you ignorant cretin, what do I have to hit you with a truck before, oh hahaha…
… it would only require the very slightest adjustment of one or two ingredients, a little peppering of adrenaline, a dash more of nitrous oxide and what a…
… I wonder what flavour jellybeans it tasted like, should've tried so long as it wasn't purple, they always make me sneeze…
… now you can study Shakespeare and be quite elite and you can charm the critics and having nothin' to eat…
… Betrayed rage suits Jason, makes his muscles all quiver, wonder if he and Bats have kissed and made up yet should drop them a card now what was the Victorian flower for I-forgive-you-for-making-me-go-splat…
The sky above him was pink and pinned with dozens of tiny little holes. Curious, he thought. He wondered if he'd just been punched especially hard by Bats, or if he'd somehow ended up on another alien planet.
He sat up straight, feeling bedsprings give beneath him, becoming suddenly aware of the feeling of cotton sheets tucked in around his lanky frame. He was naked, and his knee was hurting. A lot. He ignored the pain and looked around him.
Pink, pink, pink. Everything was pink. It looked like puke, like the tongue of a happy puppy, like the soft, strange guts of an opened child. The odd sky above him was a mosquito net canopy, draped over the neat little double bed he lay upon. The bed was too short for him, his feet were right at the edge. He wiggled his toes, watching them move beneath the quilt. A jolt of pain moved through his leg. He had to wee.
He swung his long legs over the side of the bed and stood up. His knee twinged again and he felt a wave of irritation at it. Shuttup, he instructed his body, and it obliged. Then he padded off over the soft peach carpeting, scrunching his toes as he did so, because it felt good and he always liked to do things that felt good.
He opened the door of the odd pink bedroom and stepped out into the odd pink hall. He found his way to the odd pink bathroom and relieved himself, whilst examining his teeth in the little mirror that sat above the old-fashioned porcelain sink. One of his porcelain crowns was broken and he frowned at that. If there was thing he couldn't stand, it was a single flaw in his dazzling smile.
Now. To find out what exactly was going on.
He made his way back down the odd pink hallway, passed the bedroom and found himself in an extremely odd pink open plan living room with an equally odd pink kitchen beyond it. In the pink kitchen stood a petite blonde, chewing on a few loose strands of her hair, anxiously gnawing her lower lip while she watched the odd pink toaster. He squinted at her. Was that - why, yes it was! A smile spread up his face, feeling like the first rays of the sun. It was Harley.
He remembered then.
"Morning, Pooh!" he said cheerily and she jumped and shrieked like he'd kicked her, turned to him and shrieked again at his nakedness, leaping back and covering her eyes.
"Mist - J-Joker!" she exclaimed. "I didn't know you were awake."
He was a bit perplexed. She usually tried to get him to wander around naked more often. Whatever was the matter with her?
"Where are my clothes?" he asked instead and she turned back to the toaster, pressing her fingertips on the bench, concertedly not looking at him.
"In the wash. I thought you would sleep later - with your leg and all."
"I'm cold." He pouted and fixing her eyes on the carpet she hurried through the living room.
"I'll get ya somethin'."
She slipped past him, as far from him as she could manage, practically sliding against the wall and he grinned. He wasn't sure why exactly she was being so reserved, but it was kinda funny to watch.
In the kitchen, the toaster pinged and two slices of brown toast leapt briefly into the air. He hoped she would be back quickly. Otherwise his toast would get cold and he hated it when his butter didn't melt.
He wandered over to the pink sofa where a rumpled up rug and folded pillow were, showing the evidence of where Harley's sleeping body had lain. He sat down in the groove she'd left and ran a finger over it, a little burring chuckle rising in his throat.
She came back in then, still looking anywhere but at him, her arms filled with an assortment of garments. "I'm afraid I don't got much, " she said, half mournful, half apologetic and he filed that away. No men's clothes. Not even any of his.
He grinned at her, his injured leg straight out in front of him and his arms up over the back of the couch and she began to lay things out on the armrest. He kept his eyes on her face and caught the quick glance she threw at him. She blushed deeply and then remembered the toast, hurrying over to the kitchen.
He probed his way through the pajama sets she'd brought out for him - flannel pajamas, all of them pink. He chose a pair covered in fat blue clouds and giggled as he put them on, behind him the scrape of the butter knife on his toast loud in the silence between them. The pajama bottoms stopped not far below his knees and the top left most of his forearms uncovered, and wouldn't really do up over his chest. The thought of how he must look made him laugh out loud and he caught Harley flinch as she came around to the couch, a tray in her hands. Now that he was more or less clothed, she seemed able to more or less look at him, though her glances were darting and shy. He caught them all though, especially the soft, affectionate one when she surveyed his pink-pajama-ed figure.
The tray contained orange juice and coffee, toast with butter and three types of jam, a sugar bowl and a handful of gummi bears.
"Where are my hash browns?" he asked pleasantly and she flinched back before squaring her shoulders.
"I don't keep them in the house. But I'll get some when I go out. And some other pajamas for you as well." He could hear in her voice she was trying to be firm with him. He had the urge to make her swallow the sugar spoon, but something was telling him now was not the right time. He decided to listen to it.
"Okay then, Cupcake." He responded easily and spooned jam onto his toast.
The butter had melted, and been spread to the very corners. That put him in a good mood at least. Harley continued to sit on the chair opposite the sofa, chewing at one fingernail and looking at him anxiously. It began to make him anxious.
"Are you afraid I'm gonna stretch out your favourite jim-jams?" he queried playfully and she flinched, again.
"N-n-no," she stammered. "It's just - well, I wasn't expecting you. That's all."
He lifted his head up from his food and stared at her.
"Well, where else would I be?" he asked incredulously. "Yeesh, Harley. Use whatever's in that pretty little noggin' of yours, would ya?"
Then he licked strawberry jam off his lips and continued his meal.
It took him a long time to realise Harley hadn't shown up for awhile.
Their lifestyle naturally meant they spent as much time apart as together and he had become as accustomed to occasionally having to take care of himself as he had to her doing it for him. He'd gone many years alone before her inception, after all. But then she'd proven astoundingly adept at making his existence comfortable and easy, even if she was generally inept at much of everything else.
She made life simultaneously more pleasant and more irritating, which was a little bit like Bats, and that perturbed him, although he decided that vexed was as good a word to describe the emotion as perturbed, as perturbed suggested she might actually unsettle him and he wasn't going to give her that much credit.
But in those first heady, early days, when she'd been learning precisely what her place is his life was (and he'd often caught himself staring at her, wondering exactly what the hell it was as well - sure, he'd created her, but that didn't mean he wanted to hang her on his wall - couldn't she go and show off his handiwork elsewhere?) she had gradually begun to fall into a rhythm of picking up after him and anticipating his desires. It was the No Man's Land and there wasn't a lot else for her to do, after all, except for reconnaissance and gathering, but he had his mooks for that. That was before Pammy had powered her up of course, so her skills were relatively limited. Although strong from her years of gymnastics, she wasn't much of a fighter, so he'd quickly gotten bored with just lashing out at her. Not that she ever really struggled or made a move to stop him. Which was amusing, but got old pretty quick.
So instead, she watched him as he went about the days and moved quickly to make herself felt, without really being noticed. When he took off his coat, she caught it before it could reach the back of the chair, or the bed, or the table or whatever it was he'd tossed it towards, and hung it up neatly. Without realising he soon began just letting it drop from his hand, straight down. She always caught it.
Then, she'd dart toward the table and pull out his chair as he was walking towards it, before he could so much as kick it out. So soon, again without really noticing, he just moved to sit down. The seat always ended up underneath him, so it seemed to work as a strategy.
When he woke up she was waiting, with water for him to wash in, clean undies, and a miraculously pressed suit; even a razor and shaving cream. One time when she'd been out for a disgustingly long time, and he managed to get his trouser cuffs muddy, he'd tripped her feet out from under her and shoved her face into the same mud to remind her not to ever let it happen again. She'd apologised, and then somehow she'd had a bottle of the aftershave he favoured the next day. For some strange reason he thought the two events were connected, though what aftershave had to do with her face covered in mud he wasn't entirely sure.
And though Harley could be enormously infuriating, and needy, and clingy and demanding, she also made him laugh. Sometimes on purpose - she was actually not too bad at coming up with little rhyming ditties, simple but amusing - she also had rather good physicality and could play the clown quite well. And, of course, she was always striving, thwacking mugs with rubber chickens, fixing buckets of mud above the entrance way to their little lair, putting whoopee cushions on their chairs - nothing too original, but the effort was entertaining in its way. But other times he just had to look at her, and he'd start cackling. To think about her as she had been, prim, prissy, purposeful little Dr. Quinzel determined to make her name on him, and now she just sat there and stared at him with adoring blue eyes, all dressed up in skin tight spandex. It was freaking hilarious.
And after No Man's Land, she'd continued to be useful and loving and adoring and in his bed and he realised that he had an honest-to-goodness girlfriend. Not like that nutty Assistant D.A, or the salacious television producer, but an actual paramour who shared his bed and really dug her hands into his dirty dreams and ambitions. Who relished them, even. And even though she could be more than a little exasperating at times, he didn't mind having her around. It would be easy enough to kill her when she was no longer funny.
And so life had trotted on, and he had been in Arkham and out of Arkham and Emperor of all the Universe and almost executed and certain he was dying and Lord of an Alien Planet and all sorts of other lovely little capers, and Harley had been on his arm throughout. Not consistently - she spent a lot of time in Arkham as well and sometimes he just couldn't cope with the thought of having to deal with her at the same time as playing one of his games, so he didn't always have her tag along. But you know. She was always there.
But then something changed.
He suddenly could never find anything. Things were always going missing, or vanishing altogether. When he hopped out of bed in the afternoon, or the morning or whatever it was and started chattering, no one answered him. When he stood in front of the bathroom mirror and waited, no one came to wrap their arms around his waist and tell him how beautiful he was. And when he decided on the details of whatever little gift he'd give Batsy this time, no one made them happen. No one arranged the thugs, the props, the equipment. And those far more infrequent times he found himself squirming with irritated desire, there was no eager pair of hands undoing the fly of his trousers.
He had to do it. All. Him. Self.
Finally he'd realised. Harley wasn't there.
That's why everything was suddenly so awkward. Why he was so suddenly, so often, wet and cold and smelly. He knew how to do those things, of course. In fact, he was sure at one time or another he'd prided himself on how brilliantly he did everything.
It was just it made Harley SO HAPPY to do those things FOR HIM and he was never one to stand between another and their happiness unless of course it interfered with his own. But that was what was so wonderful about Harley and that was that her happiness was in actuality all about HIS.
So he'd gotten used to just letting her do them.
Except that she wasn't anymore. And she hadn't been, for a long time. He kept expecting her to show up, the way she did (and how could he turn her away when she figured out where he was? That was awful cute…) and then she didn't.
And he had to keep on getting his own meals and shave his own face and rinse his own shirt and socks and comb his own hair. And his back ached and his feet were sore and his nails needed clipping and he hadn't anyone to talk at or anyone to tell him he was wonderful in forever. And Harley loved telling him how wonderful he was.
Blast it all, where was she? Why did she have to be so interminably vexing this way and never be around right when he actually did need her and only there when she was about as useful as a sackful of pigs' ears? Mind you, a sackful of pigs' ears could be awfully useful given the proper application; that much dead meat could pack quite a whallop…
Then the rather uncomfortable thought occurred to him that someone else might've claimed his little work of art. Now, he knew that originally he'd wanted it displayed elsewhere, prominently of course, and with his name attached, but not attached to him.
But she'd hung about so long he'd just gotten used to her being there. And she was something of a… well, he wasn't sure if masterpiece was the right term, but well - she was definitely one of his favourite works.
And thinking about someone else enjoying the sight of her every day made him feel quite furious. It was almost as bad as some lesser cretin trying to off Bats.
So he decided it was time to go looking for her.
As it turned out, he hadn't been near Gotham for a long, long while, for one reason or another. He knew he hadn't even been on earth for a time. And he went through a lot of makeup and bad clothing and resources and bodies getting back to the city, but back to it he had got.
Finding Harley hadn't been difficult. He liked her new name.
Then he'd almost immediately got distracted when the whim had taken him to drop in on Penguin for old times' sake. He wasn't quite ready to let Bats know he was back in action just yet (it was important to always be at your very best when seeing someone you had a little… history… with), but discovering that Penguin had "gone legit" was too golden an opportunity to pass up.
Unfortunately, at the end of it all, he'd been laughing so hard as he slammed down the gas, he'd lost control of the car and pranged it. Not badly. Just badly enough to jar his leg. The exact same leg that Jimmy had shot out that Christmas a few years ago. The exact same leg he'd broken that other Christmas with the Boy Blunder.
Yeah. Definitely time to catch up with Harley.
He WISHED he'd had a camera when she opened the door. The look on her face! And she'd actually peed herself. It was absolutely precious.
He'd wanted to laugh but then somehow they'd ended up in something of a clinching embrace and she was still all warm and soft and cuddly with the same fresh peaches and cream smell she'd always had and the same way of squeezing her eyes shut and burying her face into his chest, just below his sternum, which was where she came up to on him, tiny little thing that she was and he found himself very much looking forward to being taken care of again. The best part was he could feel her solitude, palpably. No one else was appreciating her, of that he was pretty damned sure.
But after they'd kissed, she'd suddenly gone all funny, jumping away from him and going all red. It was cute and hilarious but when he'd moved toward her then, she'd actually put a hand up onto his chest and pushed him away, twisting her head as she did so. Hrm.
In the past, whenever she did this 'I'm cross at you for some inexplicable and probably insane reason' schtick it had always been easy enough to overcome. He would just push forward, put a little sugar in his voice, hold her tight and overwhelm her - give her just the right amount of coaxing and intimidation - and she'd come to heel. But he sensed something different about this time.
She was meant to be sane, that was it. HA. He wondered who the hell had signed off on that certificate. Clearly, if they really believed that, they didn't know His Girl. Not like he did. Still, she seemed to be buying into the idea as well. It was going to take a little more delicacy than usual.
When she noticed his limp, her face went curiously blank.
"Oh", she said flatly, as though he'd done something wrong.
What was wrong with her? She used to love looking after him! You think she'd be thrilled - not to mention grateful - he'd shown up in need like this, all ready to be taken care of.
But no - the ungrateful wretch actually then said, with a tremor in her voice: "You can't stay here."
HA. HA. HA.
No, really. HA.
"But Baby, I've nowhere else to go and I've missed you so badly," he entreated her. He exaggerated the limp a little and swept his fedora off so his hair mussed. He thought he had a big ripe plum of a bruise on his forehead too and he swept a hand close to his ear to draw attention to it. He could see it made her hesitate in her resolve. He slouched his shoulders, bringing his height down a little so he looked a bit more dogged, knit his brows together piteously and gave her his very best imploring gaze, leaning heavily against the wall, the blood on his glove leaving a little smear there.
It wasn't his blood, but she clearly didn't realise that. Her little gasp and the way her hand leapt up a bit towards him let him know he had her.
After Harley left him alone (after making a lot of noise he didn't really listen to about how he couldn't stand in front of the windows or leave the house and how she'd only be a couple of hours and he probably shouldn't move too much about with his leg and she had plenty of DVDs so if he could just sit still for a little while she'd be back very soon and could he please please please not do anything that would make anyone suspect she was harbouring a notorious criminal like killing the neighbours, which hadn't even occurred to him until she suggested it) he surveyed the little pink living room and decided to go exploring.
First, he picked up his empty plate and tipped the crumbs from his breakfast toast onto the couch, chuckling. Hopefully they would scratch Harley while she slept tonight. Heh.
Then he wandered back into the bedroom and stood for some time in front of the mirrors on her wardrobe door, laughing at the sight of himself in her tiny pink pajamas. Eventually he got an ache in his stomach and decided to amuse himself in other ways. So he started to go through her things.
Her bedside table was littered with pill bottles of various sorts - a rather dangerous looking mix of anti-anxiety medication, anti-depressants, anti-psychotics and sedatives. But no birth control. He looked in the drawer of the table. No condoms either.
He went through her wardrobe. There was nothing to indicate any sort of man had ever set foot in the place before him. No odd socks, not a single pair of boxers, not even a hanky. He went into the bathroom and fumbled through the things there. Yeesh! What was with all the pink? Even the toilet paper was pink. But then again, Harley had always had… obsessive tendancies. No razor or shaving cream, no extra toothbrush or toiletries. He supposed Harley could be screwing girls - he'd always suspected her and Pammy got up to various naughtiness when he wasn't around - but on the whole he thought it unlikely. But it was odd. Harley's interest in sex had always been - hyperactive. He hadn't even found a toy.
He found a journal Harley had clearly been instructed to keep by her psychologist and spent an enjoyable time reading the entries in there, laughing so hard his eyes watered, rolling around on the peach carpet. They were mostly dreams and anxieties, fears that she would never make any friends again, that she'd end up being a waitress forever, or that when she finally got up the guts to call her Aunt, her Aunt would disown her. It was good stuff and he was disappointed when he came to the end. He put it back carefully where he got it from and continued to make his way through her things. He rifled through all her drawers and cupboards, upending them and shoving the contents back in haphazardly. He didn't really care if she knew what he'd been up to.
Nothing. Not a whisper of red and black diamonds or a single domino mask. Not so much as a silk scarf of his, a sock, a pair of cufflinks or even that stupid lock of hair she'd kept after giving him a trim one time. It was most dissatisfying and he pouted as he went into her kitchen and opened her fridge.
Christ, what had happened to her? Celery and carrots, apples and bananas, organic granola and… and… soy milk and tofu?? Where were the sugar snaps? The soda pop? The frosted flakes, the peanut butter cups and starburst?
He became suddenly very angry at the Arkham doctors. They had broken his toy. He was going to have to put her back together from scratch. He made a mental note to do something very nasty to at least three of them next time he was back there. Preferably at least one who hadn't been on staff when Harley was released. Because that would be hil-arious.
There was nothing edible in the fridge at all so he picked up the packet of granola and went to the living room window that overlooked the bustling street. He knew no one would be able to see him through the gauzy pink curtains which fluttered there, and he took up fistfuls of the granola and began to toss it out of the window onto the pedestrians below, whispering as he did so: "Pow! Pow! Pow!"
He got several people good with the nutritious rain and when a few heads swivelled up towards the sky he dropped to the carpet and lay there on his belly stifling his giggles, even though he knew they couldn't see him, or even hear him above the roar of the nearby traffic, his heart racing at the thrill of being discovered.
When he thought it was safe he got up and did it again. The looks on people's faces were absolutely perfect. They looked so utterly confused, gazing first at the sky and then at the scattered bits of grain and dried fruit that clung to their clothing with absolute bewilderment. He soon had a stitch from laughing too hard, thinking of how they would go about their day telling everyone about the mysterious crunchy rain, pondering where it had come from. The images those thoughts brought up increased his laughter until he was once again rolling on the carpet, the box of granola spilled out beside him.
He wiped the tears from his eyes and wondered if he should do Harley a favour and do the same thing with all the vegetables in her fridge, when he caught sight of the strawberry-pink laptop sitting next to the television set.
She used Firefox and all her passwords were saved. He logged into her email.
It was mostly uninteresting. Lots of emails from someone called Amy, who seemedvery annoying, about meeting and practice times and picnics. He checked her drafts folder. There was one there, addressed to someone named Guy. He clicked it.
The original message, from this Guy fellow, read:
I know its been awile since we went out and all but I was kinda hopin you mite be up for a drink after a game one nite. Guess I figured u were goin thru stuff but id totally be up for talking it thruwith u sometime if you are.
Your real nice Amanda. Give me another chance?
He decided to kill Guy on principal for his atrocious spelling alone.
Her response, unfinished, read:
Thanks for your email. I'm sorry I've been so distant at games lately, you deserve better than that.
You're a great guy. I like you a whole lot. (Guy was so dead.) You know, in another time you and me could've been something hot. But the truth is I'm just not ready yet. I've just come out of a really intense relationship and I need time.
My ex is dead(What?) at least I think he is… but it's complicated anyway. And I'm just dealing with it. I don't know what to do. Sometimes I'm so lonely I just want to grab you and kiss you and bring you home with me and take you around the world more than once or even twice. You're a hottie, you know that? (Guy was going to be fed his own lungs before he died) I'm only writing this cos I don't think I'll ever send it. Ha.
So, I guess, the real truth is, I'm still in love with my ex (aaww). No, love isn't even the right word. I can't even put a name to what I feel for him. I want him back. But I also know it would ruin my life. (She always did know how to make him smile) I've worked so hard for everything. But I'll never have anything like him again. So sometimes I think it would be better to stay alone.
But I'm so lonely, Guy. Even when it's a hundred degrees it's cold at night. I just want someone to hold me and I want to
She'd stopped there.
He sat back against the couch and grinned. He was suddenly feeling very good about the future.