Catwoman had been skulking closer. She paused and for one panicked moment Batman thought she was going to wait until The Joker unmasked him to interfere. She hesitated, but only just, feeling a premature twinge of regret and exasperation at her own inconvenient nobility. With an inward sigh, she threw one of the Dark Knight's specially made batarangs—the weapon connected with The Joker's shoulder, one wing pinning the purple suit to his skin. A spurt of blood sprayed the cement and The Joker let out a surprised shout—falling forward—off the roof.
The Joker toppled into the Batman and grabbed onto the chains around the Batman's wrists, holding himself up from the drop and certain death—the ledge of the building was just out of the reach of his dangling legs. The started the sway—struggling equally as Catwoman descended on both of them with her whip drawn. A crackle broke through the air as the whip snapped against The Joker's back—dislodging the batarang. It fell the three hundred feet to the ground.
She snapped the whip again, and The Joker flinched—but the tip had caught The Batman on the lips. A thing strip of red appeared.
The Joker's grip on Batman was strong as ever—he fought gravity despite any pain, that he didn't give away.
"I called the police!" Catwoman told them, "They're on their way—you can either dangle there until they show up—or kill yourself. Your choice, Joker."
The Joker laughed and muttered, "I thought I saw a puddy cat."
"You've got no where to go, except down. Either way." Catwoman hissed.
"And then, I supposed you'll rescue your man and he'll walk you home—why don't' you just say, 'thanks'! You're as curious as I am to know about the face behind this cowl—the man under the bat."
"A cat can only afford so much curiosity. He has to unmask himself—you used to understand that."
"In the beginning. But this isn't that."
"And that isn't this. Jump."
"Why don't you kill me?" The Joker said to her quietly, "I've asked so many people to kill me… no one ever takes me up on it."
"Don't, Selina." Batman finally spoke up from his pathetic position with The Joker hanging off of him.
"Your life belongs to him—more than me. If he doesn't want me to take it, then I won't… but I don't really understand…" she moved, so she could see at least a sliver of Batman's face from behind the purple fabric of The Joker's coat. "He's killed so many people. And he won't stop. He just killed his woman—downstairs, did you hear? I was hiding on that floor… I can't believe that I thought, even just for a second that he might actually harbor any sort of affection for her."
"Yeah, toots? Tell me about it," said Harley.
All three of them looked up, startled to see Harley at the top of the stairs—holding her silver 45". She took a loopy step towards them—limping horribly on one twisted leg. There was a mess of blood against her blonde fringe, and all over her cheeks. She was holding one arm funny at her side; broken collarbone.
"Harley?" The Joker cocked his head at her, "You're more durable than I thought… I suppose I can get away with being rougher with you."
Sirens were beginning to sound a few blocks below and to the left and right.
"Help him back onto the roof," Harley ordered Catwoman, motioning with the gun.
Furious, but futile, Catwoman did as Harley said. She leaned over the edge of the roof and grabbed his hand, pulling him back to the edge of the roof.
With his feet back on the ground, The Joker slowly started to walk towards Harley.
"Hold it!" she barked, squaring the gun towards his forehead.
"Harley," he growled.
"You. Pushed. Me. Out. The. WINDOW!" she fired a shot off to the side to punctuate her accusation.
"What exactly are you planning to do about it?" said The Joker, "You kill me?! YOU?"
"I'll do it. I will. You kill me, I kill you—she's right! You don't care about me-"
"-You know what you were getting into-"
"-You lied! You don't love me!"
"You lied to yourself, Harley."
"You deceived me. You used me and you almost killed me," she cocked the gun, "You think I won't do it?"
"You won't—you can't, you've never had the stomach-"
"I'LL DO IT!"
"THEN SHOOT ME!" The black undercurrent of pure energetic hate was overflowing through his voice, "Look me in the eye and pull the trigger and kill me, you worthless-"
Harley pulled the trigger. The deafening gunshot ripped and tore the air between The Joker and his girl. He flinched back violently, his hand rocketed up to his left shoulder. He staggered, then regained his footing and looked amazed at Harley. She'd shot him in the shoulder. Blood was oozing onto the purple jacket from under his fingers.
"Damn. I missed," Harley's eyes were tearing up fast, she squeezed the trigger again.
The red flag exploded from the barrel and dropped between them.
Harley and The Joker stared at the flag. Both of them surprised to see that first, she had actually shot him, and then that she'd pulled the trigger again without hesitation. But the gun was empty and The Joker was alive.
She blinked and let the gun fall from her hand.
"Harley…" he said through grinding teeth, overwhelmed, "Oh, Harley!" he ran forward and gathered her into his arms, ignoring the fresh wound she'd inflicted.
Harley's face split into a relieved grin and she let out a short laugh as she twined her uninjured arm around his neck, momentarily forgetting her pain as well. They kissed fervently; frantically absorbed with each other. Six floors below, the police stormed the building.
Catwoman had been helping Batman down, he was sitting in a confused, light-headed heap on the edge of the roof. The two of them watched the villains in their embrace. The Joker and Harley seemed totally oblivious to anything outside of their own skin.
"I suddenly feel that you and I have a very functional relationship." Catwoman said, as she handed Batman his cape and belt.
He looked at her, but said nothing, at first. The police were almost there. He had to make a decision. "These two make everyone else look perfectly sane," He said, his mind still on his own moral dilemma.
"So tell me," Selina faced him, capturing him with her emerald stare, "…My Dark Knight," there was a sensual purr lingering on her tongue, but then she crossed her arms and said, "Tell me, why am I so jealous?"
From behind them, they heard Harley give a little yelp of pain that turned into giggling to rival her love, who was still holding onto her so tightly, like… like he hadn't just tried to destroy her, body and soul. Like he loved her.
"Go. Before I change my mind and let Gordon have you."
"You're welcome," said Catwoman icily, as she turned to disappear.
Batman caught her shoulder in one of his gloved hands, "Selina…" the growl of Batman's designed voice was momentarily slipping away. There was too much of Bruce in him tonight; it was just one of those nights.
She looked at him, with something like recognition, but it turned to suspicion in an instant.
"Please, Selina. Forgive me."
"You haven't hurt me yet," she promised him with a sly wink, "I'm still around, and so are you. Don't apologise until it's too late." And she was gone.
"You. Are. The cleverest little minx," The Joker told her, he was stroking her bloodied face, "I'm so proud of my work."
"I can still keep up with ya—even with a busted leg."
"I love you, Mistah J."
"I know," he kissed her firmly, lingering a little closer so that his lips brushed hers as he said, "Don't ever change, Harl. You're the best. You're my little sharp-shooting marionette… My Harlequin."
The police had arrived. Batman had to vanished soon after Catwoman, so that the police didn't get distracted by his presence. The Joker and Harley Quinn (for one reason or another) didn't put up a great struggle. Maybe because they were both tired and injured, or because they knew Arkham wouldn't hold them forever, no matter how much everyone hoped it would.
"Can you make sure that they are kept in separate wings at Arkham?" Batman remained veiled in the massive shadow of the unfinished building, while Gordon stood nearby, pretending to be on his cell-phone so that he could be alone in the dark.
"The director at Arkham has a special place in mind for Harley. She and I had a chat about what we should do if we caught her. The Joker gets his old place."
Batman was watching them closely, "Do you think it's real?"
"…Their relationship? It's too real," said Gordon.
"She loves him," Gordon nodded, "She worships him… Being crazy, or even, a twisted, evil psychopath doesn't mean you don't have the ability to love."
"…What about him?"
"I think, The Joker loves Harley as much as he is capable of loving anything."
"Which doesn't bode well for what he hates."
The two of them were watching the officers as they loaded The Joker and Harley Quinn into separate, heavily armed ambulances. The two nutcases were still gazing longingly at each other. The Joker seemed cheerful and demonic as ever. Harley was shaken, but whatever moment of clarity had occurred after The Joker had pushed her out that window had died as quickly as it came on. Harley didn't play the battered and pathetic girl very well. She was too crazy herself to really understand the part. It didn't matter what he did to her, in her own mind, that was how it should be. She was his girl again. Hopelessly. Maddly in love.
Fun Fact: I love you, and I think you're special person with good qualities and talents.
Song of the last Chapter: Smashing Pumpkins, "The End is the Beginning is the End" (Remix). The original song is awesome, but um… I'm gonna go ahead and admit that I prefer the more somber version. You might remember it from the Watchmen trailer. This song is actually about Batman, so pretty much… perfect.