A/N--Ok, this is my first TDK fanfic so I'm just taking this as I go. The Joker in this is based on Heath Ledger's out of this world portrayal (R.I.P Heath).

I suppose I need to say right off the bat that I know a little something about domestic violence (I won't go into details here, but you'll probably get a good idea from this story). If I offend anyone, that is most definitely not the intention of this and I apologize in advance if it does. In no way do I advocate domestic violence or violence in general, but to be honest, if I was in Harley's situation in this story, I'm not sure that I would act any differently.

I'm not really sure where the idea for this story came about but I've been reading a lot of Harley/Joker fanfics, and while I've been enjoying every one, I started wondering what an AU version of their story might look like, especially set in Nolanverse. So when I thought of this situation, the possibilities for where this could go were just too tempting to ignore (especially since I've never written anything like this before).

Disclaimer: I obviously don't own any of this, so please don't sue.

As always, read and review!!

Run For Your Life

Well I'd rather see you dead, little girl
Than to be with another man
You better keep your head, little girl
Of I won't know where I am

You better run for your life if
you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That's the end little girl.

--The Beatles

Chapter One

He was drinking again. He hadn't come home yet and when he did, she knew it was just better if she didn't struggle. There was no arguing or fighting with him; the funny thing was, it didn't matter if he was drunk or sober. He could always find something to use against her, something to justify his actions, something to keep his conscience at bay.

Ever since…it….had happened, things had only gotten worse. The yelling, the fighting, the slapping, the bruising, the broken ribs, the black eyes…and there was no end in sight. Sure, he had promised he would change. That he would find a way to learn how to be better for her and to her but she knew it was just another one lie. Their entire relationship had been founded and nurtured on nothing but lies.

Their love story, if one could even call it that, had begun how any other fairy tale might. Boy and girl meet cute, boy asks girl out, girl gets her hopes up, girl thinks that boy is the one, boy and girl move in together, boy gets girl pregnant…it could have been taken straight from Disney. Then reality set in sometime between moving in together and…it…and life had never been the same since. She couldn't go anywhere or do anything with his permission. Not only did he watch her like a hawk, but he had all his goons watching her as well, waiting for one misstep, waiting for one interaction with the opposite sex that would give him an excuse.

It had gotten worse after that damned Batman had shown up. Now the city wasn't quite what it used to be and it had gotten harder and harder to get away with the same old business as before. She had played the part of supportive girlfriend and had tried to understand, to empathize with his predicament. All things considered, she really did understand where his tension came from, that there was possible jail time on the line with every move he made and she had done everything she could to prove to him that she understood. But the misunderstandings surfaced when he began to take out his anger and frustration on her.

It had started with fighting. That she could handle, and now, in retrospect, she would much rather have the fighting and the verbal attacks than the physical ones. Their fights were most often provoked right when he came home for the night. The dishes weren't done, dinner hadn't been made, or something to that degree would easily set him off. At first, she had been patient, thinking that it was just a byproduct of the stress he was under. But then, as the verbal attacks gave way to physical beatings, she realized with horrible clarity that stress was not to blame for his behavior.

The memory of that first night he had beat her was forever seared into her memory, held tight within and squeezing the life out of her like a vice. Ironically enough, that night was also the first night he had been taken into custody by Gotham's finest. The event had had such an impact on him that when he returned home after being released on bail, he immediately proceeded to beat her senseless. The attack had been so forceful, so devastating to both her body and mind that her bed was her only solace for nearly a week.

Oh, yes she had tried to find help. Friends and family had spurned her allegations not only out of fear for their own lives but because they had long warned her of even starting a relationship with him in the first place. Not only was he more than fifteen years her senior, but he was dangerous, more dangerous than anyone could have possibly imagined. She could scarcely still believe it…rejected by the people who were supposed to love and protect her. She was sure that he had threatened everyone around her to silence and she knew that his men would never aid in his arrest, even if it was something this hideous. So she had turned to Gotham City Police and the best they could offer her was a restraining order due to 'lack of evidence', which, for the record, had never truly been enforced. Bigger fish to fry, she guessed.

It had been all downhill from there. No where to run and no one to turn to. Ever since…it…had happened, she had begun plotting some sort of escape. Harley Quinzel was through with being his punching bag.

What kind of escape didn't matter, she just need to get out and get out as quickly as possible. However, she knew that a simple breakup would never stick. She had tried that before. The first time he had pleaded with her, begging her to stay, that he would change, that he would get help, that he would stop drinking, and showered her with gifts. And she had believed him. The next time, he was not as repentant and she had had the bruises and two broken ribs to prove it.

His threats to her that night were crystal clear: "If you leave me, if I even see you think about being with someone else, I'll kill you. I'll kill you because I love you as much as I do, baby. I couldn't take it…if you were with someone else, I'd rather see you six feet under. You know how much I love you…you know how much it hurts me to hurt you, but you need to learn that you're mine…forever, baby…forever."

The only way to be free of him was to kill him.

She had decided that after…it…had happened. That was by far the last straw and the most devastating blow to her he had ever dealt her. There would be no running away. No disappearing and starting a new life somewhere else. Where ever she went, he would find her and kill her. She would just have to beat him to the punch and kill him first.

This decision led her to more complications. Although it was by far the only resolution that would not only free her but give her peace, the problem was how to make it happen and not end up in jail or killed in turn herself. She did not have the vast experience in the art of murdering like he or any of his goons did. And she didn't have a gun nor did she have access to any of his because he was the only one who knew the code to his safe. Despite this, she knew that it would be next to impossible to do it herself because his goons would put the pieces together almost immediately. They not only knew of the nature of her relationship with their boss but they were extremely loyal as well. And she couldn't hire anyone to do it for her because she didn't have any money that was actually hers. This left her with quite the predicament.

She needed someone who didn't care about money and who wasn't afraid of Salvatore Maroni. Where in the world would she find someone who met both requirements?

Pent up frustration and a near resignation to her fate led her flop down on one of his plush Italian couches that she resented so much. Maybe that was it. Maybe she didn't have any hope left that she could find a way. Maybe he had done too much damage that she wouldn't be able to actually leave him for fear of what picking up the pieces would be like. Maybe there were no other options.

And then, like some demented twist of fate or warped divine intervention, she flipped on the news. There, right before her eyes was her answer. Practically surrounded by an enflamed mountain of cash, clad in emerald and violet, with frighteningly, almost chaotically smeared war paint, stood the only person on earth who could help her.