It wasn't really a puzzle; he didn't need a real reason. All he required was a hint, and he got it. Eddie's subtle smile, her coquettish batting eyes – big, blue eyes.
Ed didn't dare stop him. Nobody did, except perhaps Pamela, but that was all hearsay to him – he never did well in the villainous social circuit. Joker was his only connection, his only reliance. His parasitic relationship to keep his head above the murky waters of the underworld. His lifeline.
And she was a murmur of a heartbeat under the buzz of all his constant thought. They had their previous encounters, but since he had been lingering around the abandoned playing-card factory, he found her presence infectious – everywhere all at once. She was seeping into the corners of every frame, looming over her "puddin's" shoulder while he planned things, running her fingers through his hair when he sighed and tired of Eddie's company, and then – oh, and then – glancing Ed's way, hovering occasionally over his shoulder (but only when she had been cast aside by her One an' Only).
They rarely spoke, but she came to him sometimes with trays full of pell-mell imitations of domestic living, first with coffee which he refused with an upturned nose and a haughty comment he later found himself regretting, then – surprisingly enough to him, he thought she'd abandon any hope of his company – with tea. A selection of tea. She didn't bother explaining herself, didn't trouble either of them with instruction as to which cup was which, but he understood. She was a creature of adaptation. She had to be. Joker had trained her so well.
It was a similar occurrence this time. Not quite an anomaly, but not something that had become real habit yet – it still surprised him every time they were in close proximity, every time she addressed him. Her weight plopped onto the beaten remains of a sofa with a hefty, girlish sigh, legs kicking out childishly and body slumped so carelessly. He could hear her jaw pounding away at that bubble gum and he could feel the slightest brush of her pigtails as she tipped her head back. His bowler hat fell out of his grip – he'd been spinning it – and she immediately snatched it up.
All bending, constricting, eternally humming ponderings came to a halt. As she set the rounded, dirtied thing over her own skull, he couldn't help thinking how green just seemed to suit her.
"So," she offered like a cow, chomp-chomp-chomping and pausing to blow a bubble, which popped messily over her lips, "why is a raven like a writin' desk?"
Eddie was never much for slapstick humor, which so often appeared to be Harley's breed of amusement. But he found it a pleasant surprise to get a glimpse of a brain beneath that bimbo hair and under those child's eyes.
Big, blue eyes.
It had been the first thing she'd ever said to him, and he'd never gotten a chance to reply. Honey-bunny came waltzing out of the room he'd sectioned off as his "office," and was not at all pleased to find his business and his pleasure fraternizing together.
Harley, he realized, hadn't stood a chance. Joker had her up by the hair in a matter of seconds, twisting, pinching, pulling until she sounded like a cat strung up on a clothesline. She was sputtering, apologizing, wooing all at once, and all Eddie could see was his little bowler hat, rolling pathetically at their feet.
He knew blows were dealt. He heard the slap of a gloved hand against a face and the pitiful crack of a nose beneath someone's palm. He wasn't addressed throughout the whole process, even after a steaming clown stalked back across the room to slam a door behind him.
Ed didn't bother looking up until he heard what, perhaps, he now recalls as the saddest thing he can remember. A laugh – at first a ghost of a thing, and then a giggle; an outright, childish guffaw. His gaze narrowed at the blonde crumpled on the ground in front of him, holding her face with one hand and staring at her other, bloodied palm.
Needless to say, he didn't get it.
But as she calmed down, things became clearer. Slowly, she turned her hand to face him, to let him in on her little joke, and with a sickening sinking in his stomach, Ed found that he began to comprehend – far more than he really wanted to. The smear of red across the girl's palm took on a curve, punctuated by a dot formed by a spluttering cough she'd given: The rough, vague shape of a question mark.
She wiped it on the top of his hat, and they did not speak again.