"Dreams are necessary to life."- Anais Nin
The cell was dark, there was a window but it was still dark, no moon that night
She was laying on her cot looking towards the window as the dark sky was glimmering, dark and deep, with black, red and purple clouds, they were almost far enough away from the city for a few stars to make it through, not many though. On a clear night she could count 30 maybe 40. That made her sad that she could only see 30 or 40 out of billions and trillions, but it was still better than she was used to, that made her sad too. But you couldn't really tell, as she laid there humming a very up beat little ditty she might have made up, she couldn't exactly tell.
She liked to lay there and dream about things, things she wished would happen. Things soft and close to her, the kind of things you could almost feel, like water colored roses and Polaroid's of a moment you can see, just like it was, but could never feel again. You could never really tell if she was unhappy most of the time, she had learned that from Joker, you never frown in public, you never cry. Never. Not in public, and worst yet to yourself, because if you know your weak then pretending for them will never do you any good. Hide your emotions from yourself, that seemed his philosophy.
Suddenly there was loud knock, and the little window on her door slid open, "Quinn you have a visitor." The guard announced, and she heard the sound of the door unlock, like a rumble almost in the building, chamber, whatever you wanted to call that hell whole. Harley Quinn called it home.
The door opened and she felt a presence but didn't look, "Quinn, we need to talk." In that deep rough voice that echoed from behind his mask, a great deal of power in that voice.
She clicked into action, like the Joker's wide up doll. She snapped up, and sat up in bed with a smile on her red lips, her hair was in two little pig tails low on her head and pulled back, "Hey there big B." She winked at him and crossed her legs, "What's wrong Batgirl wouldn't come out play so you came up here?"
He was standing there, Harley had the faint thought he might turn on the light, but he didn't move like he was going to. Harley was glad for this, she had been crying earlier and anyone could tell if they looked at her, not to mention the slight bags under her eyes, and that she didn't have any make up on. She still looked sexy, but no matter what anyone could tell her she would never believe she even looked half way decent right then.
"I need your help." He admitted quiet openly as he stood there, that big cape, the shadows made him startling, his presence was threatening and intimidating, but then Harley was used to people like that.
"What do you need?" She smiled and learned forward, "Don't tell me you got my number out of the boys bathroom." She giggled. She knew she couldn't tell jokes, but she gave it her best shot.
"It's Joker, he's kidnapped several people…he's leaving body parts as clues, unless I find him with his clues and quickly, over twenty people will end up dead."
"What's it to me? I watch him kill people all the time, why should I care.."
"If I catch him I'm bringing him here." He said, it was a last resort, she could tell,. Those people meant a lot to him for some reason or another, Harley couldn't tell, his arms were crossed.
"So, what do you think he doesn't write and call all the time?" She looked away.
"Fine." Batman turned and started out slowly.
Harley thought a second, she hadn't heard from Joker in over three months, she was aching for him, "Wait." She uttered softly.
Batman turned around.
"I hate this room, get me a better room, and I'll help. But not because I care or because mistah J doesn't call or write, because he does! Just because it's drafty in here. That's it! Got it!"
"As soon as I find him, I'll have you moved to any room you want." It was a definitive tone, flat, and unemotional.
"Okay good…you can sit down if you like." She smiled softly.
Batman said nothing, he just kept standing there looking at her. How could two men be total opposites of each other, yet remind her so much of each other. That same piercing stare, same emotionless voice, same intimidating presence, same detached air about that them that you could feel thick in the room. The same power that takes away everything in her.
"Where is Joker." Batman asked, but it was more of a statement than a question really.
"I-" She looked away, "I don't know." She was ashamed, this proved he hadn't talked to her, "But I can figure it out. I know him, maybe even better than you do." She smirked. "This one is certainly new, he's usually more direct than with clues. But then you can't get a whole lot more direct than with body parts. What parts so far?" She asked.
"An eye, a head, an ear, a hand, and the part of the brain that is central for dreams." If he had any ideas he gave no sign to her, Harley took it as he wanted to see totally what she thought.
"Hmmm, what color eye?" She asked.
"Green." He said.
"How many fingers on the hand?"
"Charades!!! Me and mistah J played charades like this before! Brilliant!" She squealed out.
Batman was still quiet.
"I'm a head, by a five letter word, sounds like dream! That was an easy one!"
"What could he mean by sounds like dream?"
"Hmmm, leam, deam, seam, keam, team, weam, beam, feam, heam, qeam."
"Those all have four letters."
"Oh yeah your right, okay then cream."
"Oh heck should I know! There must be more clues coming." She said.
"That's what I'm trying to stop."
"Oh wow, this is kinda one of those catch 22 things."
Batman didn't look amused.
"That's all I can tell ya." She said leaning back.
"What?" She asked.
"Nothing." He said turning to leave.
"No tell me!"
"No, it's nothing."
"No, please tell me!!!!!"
"It's just I thought you would have known him better. They said I shouldn't bother asking you, that Joker never confided in you."
"Who said that!??! Those lying bastards! I know him perfectly, I know every inch of him! He tells me everything! I'm his best friend!" She exclaimed sitting on the edge of the cot, she was trying to figure out who said that!
Batman stood there again, he leaned against the wall.
"Why are you doing this? Going through all this trouble for people you don't even know, for people that don't give a damn about you." She asked with a curiosity.
"Because some of them do give a damn."
"Yeah, but most of them don't. And some of them, you know don't. Like you never kill mistah J, I know he probably deserves it. But you never do it, why not?"
He paused, she wasn't sure if he was humoring her by answering or if he didn't mind so much talking to her, "I would be like him if I did."
"Oh…you know, I know that you're a better person. That what you do is noble, and honorable, and good. And I know what I do is awful and vile and bad, I know all that. And I admire you, really I do. You did what we could never do. Don't think that I don't know how things are."
"Why do you keep doing it then, if you know?" It had more the tone of a question.
"Because people do what they do. Because…of dreams, that things might get better, things might get brighter, they might change. He might change, we might change together, the longer I do it the better the chances are. But don't think that helps me sleep at night, don't think there isn't a guilt ridden minute, don't think my dreams and hopes help my dank reality. It's just- I'm not sure you can understand this, but it affects people. I know that it'll seem, like I'm weak, and maybe I am. But when your young, and the world is so big, things can happen to shatter your hopes and your dreams, and your left standing a puddle of blood. A moment can make you or break you.
"It was senior prom, I had on a white dress, it was silky and spandex, and it was long, it touched the floor, it was sleeveless and had a low back, and I had on long white gloves, and white open toed sling back high heels."
Harley could see it again, the big room, it as so surreal though, the music and laughter turned to screams and a bloody mascara, life was strange and blurry. It all reminded her of the violent chaos that she was constantly ending up in. All the sound just floating around her, all the madness that wasn't supposed to be touching her, swirling around. She was the good one, the responsible one, the straight 'A' student that never got into trouble. She was never aloud to touch life, just step back. Watching everything around her, but she couldn't scream ,she couldn't cry, she couldn't run, she couldn't even help them. Not even a dry cleaner can get blood stains out well.
"The floor was white like my dress, and my hair was up, and there was blood, there was blood splattered on my white dress. My dress looked like a wedding gown almost, and I stood there in a puddle of his blood, he reached for my ankle, and I stepped back as I watched him-" her voice was soft and weak, "I watched him die. The red blood was flooding around me, it was on my dress, and my toes, and my shoes. It was staining it all. I was standing there in his blood, a few drops splashed on my face…"
"You killed him?" Batman asked.
"No. Someone else, they killed lots of people there that night, I don't know why, in the paper is said certain people owned a certain someone money or something, some kind of pay back maybe. I didn't turn around, the music was still playing, and people were screaming and running and shoving each other, and some were dieing on the floor, all that thick glossy blood bubbling up from there bodies like fountains.
"And I just stood there, standing in his blood, I just watched them, I watched them scream and die and panic and I stood there in my white blood stained dress, it was really beautiful…my dress. I always wanted a wedding dress to look like that, without the blood on the rim and on my shoes and splashed, little droplets of hot blood. I wasn't scared you know, they said I was in shock and paralyzed by fear, but I wasn't frightened. I was horrified, this perpetual madness all around me, and all I could do was stand in my date's blood and watch them. I felt like, maybe I was part of it, if I wasn't screaming and running in terror, what was wrong with me?" It was more of a statement than a question, she looked glossed over and lost in a memory.
"You were very young, you didn't know what to do….maybe you couldn't help them." He said.
"I just couldn't turn around, I couldn't see who was doing it…"
"Did they ever catch him?"
"Yes." She stopped, her eyes were filled with tears as she looked out the window, she was shuddering slightly, sadly in the cold little room. "Mama turned him in because he ruined my dress, it coats 400 hundred dollars. We weren't poor, we could afford that you understand….but, he ruined my prom." She started crying softly with her face in her hands, she sniffled and wiped her tears away.
Batman faintly, very faintly remembered hearing about this story, or possibly a follow up on it. Andrew Quinzel, or as he was know for a short time, 'Revenge', yeah it was a bad name, he was just a kid who beat up a lot of other kids, he came from a family with enough money, not a lot, but they made what they had count, everyone knew they lived beyond their means. They bought things they couldn't afford, and ended up badly in debt. Mr. Quinzel had died very early of heart problems, his medication wasn't the right prescription, his insurance and a lawsuit on his doctor brought their money up, but apparently not class.
Andrew had been Harleen's older brother, he had babied her, and been some what of a father too her, even though he was only 7 years older than her. Her mother had been busy with things.
"Why did he do it Harley?" Batman asked.
She sniffled and pulled herself together quickly, "The guys…they had written my number in the bathroom, and he found out they had a bet going to lay me on prom night. Over protective men." She laughed a sad laughter that lingered in her voice.
Neither of them said anything for several minutes, and nothing needed to be said, no one knew that story. Harley had been ashamed to tell anyone, any doctors or anything, they would instantly say it was linked to her attraction to the Joker, she hated being psychoanalyzed by them, because she knew all the methods.
Finally Batman said, "Where's the Joker?" It was a calmer more sympatric tone.
"They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions."
"Then let your actions show, not your intentions." He said firmly, as if it was a solution. Harley was curled up on her cot, she didn't look like the Harley Quinn he had brawled with and ran into and arrested, she didn't look like the demonic jester in red and black, she looked like a little girl that didn't want to sleep in her room without a night light. Harley was fragile, and she had been broken so many times, so many pieces lost.
"Do the right thing." Batman said.
"Oh, it's all so much blood under the bridge now, it could just drown a person….cream, he's at the old cream soda factory. It's something else now, it's ah…hmm, a butcher, a backer, a candle sticker maker? No, no, they make dolls there, they assemble all there parts. Me and mistah J used to joke about going there and assembling the dolls all wrong." She giggled, "Mistah J loved to turn things upside and inside out." There was no laughter there, from either of them, because they both knew Harley was a perfect example of this.
Batman started out the door, "Thank you." He uttered deep and low.
"Hey, B-man. You know, I'm not really all bad. It's just, sometimes things can happen to a kid, blood can change you when it's at your feet. Your life gets torn apart with a bullet that never even hit you, it makes you something different…dreams are all I have, because dreams last longer, blood can't stain in dreams, because it never splatters. I know it happened a long, long time ago, in another life really…but some things you can never forget."
"I know." Was all he said, as he shut the door behind him and headed out. He and Harley worked on completely different sides, and usually worked against each other, but in some strange way, they were working for the same dream. Some kind of life that it seemed like was just so close but so far, some hope tucked away inside of them that wanted a world where blood never poured from people.
Batman wanted a world where people like Joker didn't exist, and Harley wanted a world where people like Joker could change. Maybe it wasn't possible, but a dream by definition is a hope for something you do not have.