The Harlequin


"The Batman didn't murder Harvey Dent. He saved my boy, then took the blame for Harvey's appalling crimes so I could, to my shame, build a lie around this fallen idol. I praised the madman who tried to murder my own child. But I can no longer live with my lie. It is time to trust the people of Gotham with the truth, and it is time for me to resign."

Lucy sat at the Iceberg Lounge's empty bar, her hands tee-peed in front of her face as she watched Commissioner Gordon—former Commissioner Gordon—give his resignation speech on the steps of City Hall, and the only thing she could think was... woah.

It had been a rocky few days for Gotham, with the Joker and Harley Quinn teaming up to ravage the city. Just that morning, the Mayor had been giving a speech on those same steps at City Hall when his head exploded on camera. The news wasn't showing the footage, saying it was too gruesome for public consumption, but trembling witnesses explained what happened to reporters, their eyes wide and glazed.

"Shit," Lucy sighed, reaching for a bottle of Grey Goose behind the bar as she tried to decide how the boss would have taken advantage of a situation like this.

Business had not been good since Penguin went away and Sofia Falcone took over, and it only got worse with the Russians making moves in Sofia's absence. They were all talk and muscle. They didn't understand the business, not like Penguin did. They definitely didn't understand that the Iceberg Lounge wasn't just a place to wash cash. Penguin had turned the club into an institution crossing the boundaries of high society and the underworld, a place for deal-making and new relationships and blurred lines.

But these days, the club was nearly always empty. Without Penguin's brand of glamor and danger to draw them in, the socialites and gangsters who used to flock there found new places to be entertained.

The news cut to a panel of pundits arguing about Harvey Dent being a serial killer, and what it meant that the Batman took the fall for him. They couldn't decide how to feel about it; some of them were pissed off; others saw the Batman as a hero; others were too concerned with the Joker and Harley blowing everyone up to care about this recent development.

Lucy poured herself a shot of vodka and knocked it back, wiping her mouth.

"Don't you think it's too early for that... little creature?"

Lucy whipped around to glare at Victor Zsasz where he sat at the opposite end of the bar, his mouth spreading into a creepy little smirk that made her skin crawl.

"I told you not to call me that!" She snapped. "You got any idea how fuckin' creepy you are? Huh?"

But her words only served to make Victor chuckle smugly.

Lucy still wasn't sure if partnering up with Victor Zsasz had been a smart choice. With the Iceberg Lounge hemorrhaging cash, she couldn't afford muscle of her own, just a few girls to bartend alongside her, though most nights the place was so empty it wasn't necessary. So when Victor showed up looking for work in exchange for a place to lay low, Lucy had jumped on it. Besides, only a few days before that, Harley had come by the club, waving a gun around and demanding Lucy tell her where Zsasz was, and Lucy kind of liked the idea of hiring someone Harley hated.

But eventually, Lucy found out why Harley had been acting so crazy that day, and she found out all about Victor's unique 'skillset' and the work he used to do for Carmine Falcone. Now she didn't know if keeping him around was stupid or smart. If she were really smart, she'd use him to her advantage; she'd use him to prove she was powerful because she controlled him.

But it was hard to prove you were powerful when you were broke. What Lucy needed was a new backer, but the Russians were hardly interested in investing in a nightclub.

"Don't worry, little one," Victor sneered at her. "You're not my type with your... dirty hair."

"Ugh, gross," Lucy grumbled, pouring herself another shot and self-consciously pushing her long, dark hair over her shoulder.

The circular oak door meant to look like a prohibition-era secret entrance creaked open then, and Lucy hopped off her stool to run around to the other side of the bar in anticipation of a rare, cherished patron. These days they didn't have people lining up around the block, trying to impress the bouncers enough to be allowed in. Now they just left the front door wide open and hoped customers would come.

Lucy's face lit up when she saw their new guest was young, maybe in his early thirties, and wearing a well-cut three-piece suit—one of those really fancy ones with a pocket square and everything—and a platinum Rolex. That meant he was rich, and he wasn't bad looking either, with high cheek-bones and closely-cropped, curly black hair, though his eyes were a little bug-like and sunken.

"Hiya," Lucy chirped as he looked around the empty club, taking in the nostalgic art-deco glamor before his eyes settled on Victor at the end of the bar. Victor squinted back at him, looking on the verge of saying something totally creepy to their first customer that day, so Lucy jumped in before he could. "What can I get you?" she beamed, drawing the man's attention back to her.

"Hello," he greeted her, his lips spreading into a small, amused smirk as he approached the bar. "Not many customers today?"

"You know how it is," Lucy shrugged, trying to put on a brave face. "You'd think people would need a drink more than usual with everything going on out there."

The man chuckled, glancing around the club again before he took a seat at the bar. He cocked his head to the side, looking Lucy over quickly. There was something clinical in the way his sunken eyes drifted over her, not checking her out but... examining her.

Lucy rolled her shoulders back, trying to ignore the uneasy feeling coiling in her stomach.

"What's your name?" He asked, his eyes narrowing thoughtfully.

"Lucy," she replied, raising her chin, trying to project the confidence Penguin always had when people tried to fuck with him. "I run this place," she added cockily, and the man's smile widened, something a little dangerous glinting in his sunken eyes.

"I'm Roman," he said at length, offering Lucy his hand. "Roman Sionis."

"Nice to meet you... Mr Sionis," Lucy replied warily, taking his hand.

Roman looked around the club again, not releasing Lucy's hand. When he turned back to her, his grip on her hand tightened, making the small bones grind together painfully.

Lucy's pulse leaped, but she forced herself not to pull away, holding Roman's gaze intently to prove she wasn't easily-frightened; that she was a powerful boss in her own right even as the hairs at the back of her neck stood on end.

"Well, Lucy," Roman said, smiling gently despite his vice-like grip on her hand. "It looks like you could use some help here."

"Oh," Lucy faltered, realizing that he was talking about money. "Yeah, maybe we could," she agreed, forcing a weak smile.

Gordon resigning was just the beginning. Over the weeks that followed, Harley and the Joker continued to make their point to the citizens of Gotham, again and again. But you could only relentlessly terrorize a helpless city with ineffectual law enforcement bolstered by a couple of caped vigilantes for so long. Eventually, you started to feel like you were repeating yourself, and that was so boring.

So they retreated, taking some personal time to decompress and recuperate while the National Guard attempted to get the city back in working order. But Harley and the Joker would be back. Total destruction was boring too. Far better to draw it out and keep people on their toes.

They'd been camped out at a loft overlooking the bay for just over a week, sleeping in and lazing around and indulging in one another whenever the impulse struck them.

Then Bullock texted, saying he needed to see Harley.

How very interesting.

It was late when Harley and the Joker pulled up outside the MCU, torrential rain pounding down on the roof of the Crown Vic. They'd briefly discussed the possibility of Bullock betraying them, of this being an ambush, but Bullock had stuck it out through kindergartens and cops getting blown up, not to mention all the abhorrent things they'd done in the month since then. Besides, what was life without a little risk?

There was a knock on the passenger door, and Harley glanced out the window to see Bullock's outline in the rain. She rolled her eyes toward the Joker, raising her eyebrows appraisingly. He lifted a lazy eyebrow back at her, agreeing that Bullock reaching out to them was a bit unusual before he unlocked the doors.

Bullock hopped into the backseat, the rain outside almost deafening until he got the door shut again.

"You two ever heard the word inconspicuous?" Bullock complained by way of greeting, pulling off his soaked trilby to rake a hand through his graying ginger hair. "You're twenty goddamn feet away from the MCU. Are you askin' to get caught?"

The Joker chuckled under his breath while Harley twisted around to smirk at Bullock in the backseat.

"I missed you, Harvey," she told him fondly, her smirk growing when Bullock got all flustered. "What do you have for us?" she asked, watching Bullock fumble inside his tattered trench coat.

"First, I'm not your mailman, Ann," Bullock groused, using Harley's pseudonym as he handed her an envelope.

Harley frowned as she examined the envelope. It was addressed to Bullock in typeface, making it look like a letter from a bank or gas company, nothing unusual that would stick out in the MCU's mailroom. She opened it cautiously, her eyes widening when she found a postcard featuring Seattle's luscious green skyline inside.

And on the back was a short message in slanted script.


It looks like you've been having fun without me. Let's talk soon.


Lillian Green

Lillian Green had been Pam's pseudonym while she was in Gotham.

Harley laughed incredulously, her face splitting into a bewildered grin as she re-read the message three times, then looked up at the Joker.

He was frowning at her, tonguing the scar tissue inside his cheek thoughtfully. They had discussed the Pam situation a handful of times and ended up agreeing to disagree. Harley was still worried about what happened to her and felt a certain degree of regret over how everything ended, while the Joker saw all these feelings as a waste of time and energy. And besides, he'd pointed out, Pam could do anything she wanted, but she chose to be boring instead. Yawn.

The Joker's eyes narrowed as he searched Harley's face, and he could read her well enough by now to know that a relieved smile like that could only be about 'Red.' He made an annoyed sound in the back of his throat and turned to look out the window.

"I'm gonna assume that means something to you," Bullock huffed impatiently. "Look, I gotta get back inside, but there's something else you should know."

Harley and the Joker both turned around to look at Bullock, their eyes narrowing suspiciously.

"We busted some Odessa thugs last night," Bullock explained in a rush. "They say Boris Kosov put hits out on both your heads."

"And why would a buncha Boris's minions tell you pigs what he'd up to?" the Joker drawled, slumping down in his seat to stare out the windscreen at the torrential rain. "Seems kinda... suspect, don't ya think, Harley?"

"It sure does," Harley agreed, squinting at Bullock warily. "Almost like they want us to come find them."

"Maybe," Bullock agreed flippantly. "We caught em' trying to buy a rocket launcher off some Russians at the docks. So uh, that should give you some idea what you're up against."

Harley and the Joker snorted in unison and exchanged another look.

"Thanks, Bullock," Harley turned to flash the detective a grin. "We'll take care of it."

"Yeah, yeah," Bullock held his hands up as he started to scoot out of the car. "I don't wanna know, alright? I'll see ya..."

He pushed the door open and disappeared out into the rain, leaving Harley and the Joker alone again.

"This should be interesting," Harley observed, settling back in her seat. "But doesn't it feel a little... obvious for Boris to try to take us out?"

"Obvious is the best they can do," the Joker drawled, twisting the key in the ignition. The engine hummed to life as he tipped his head toward Harley, lifting one knowing eyebrow at her. "But you did kill his second in command," he pointed out.

"It was an accident," Harley scoffed.

"Yeah, you accidentally kicked him off a roof," the Joker chuckled.

Harley laughed happily and slid across the long front seat so she was sitting beside him. He slung a lanky arm over her shoulders as he pulled the car away from the curb, and she settled into his side.

As they turned onto the main road, the Joker hummed mildly, his mind obviously on their new project. Harley already knew what he was thinking. That the Batman and Black Canary —her updated moniker thanks to some dramatization by Arturo Rodriguez —would have heard about Boris's designs on them too. Gordon may have no longer been police chief, but the Batman evidently still had sources in the MCU, and there was little to no chance they would stay out of it.

Eastern European gang members putting hits on their heads? The Batman and Black Canary trying to get in the way? Russians with rocket launchers?

Oh, that was more than enough to get Harley and the Joker out of bed.

They'd done enough relaxing lately. Now it was time to have a little fun.

A/N: Updated August 2020

What to read next you ask?

There's a two-shot 'Holiday Special' which is really a prequel to the Harlequin sequel.

Holiday - A serial killer the media call Holiday is murdering Gotham's mob bosses, leading to unforeseen consequences for Harley and the Joker.

The sequel is called 'The Pantomime' and is currently being updated weekly. You may have noticed Roman Sionis/Black Mask show up in the above Iceberg Loung scene. I am hereby casting Rami Malek in that role. Think country club American Psycho type with a taste for torture, aka, my attempt at a "Nolan version" of Black Mask.

The Pantomime - Harley and the Joker struggle to communicate, and with the Riddler on the loose and a mysterious new boss taking over the city, the timing couldn't be worse.

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Looking forward to all your thoughts ;)