A/N: Well, here we are--the last chapter. I have so enjoyed writing this and I am so SAD for it to end. I really hope you enjoyed reading it! I love your reviews and I think I have an idea for a follow-up story, so let me know if you would like to see that.
Thank you again to everyone that has reviewed and to you all for reading!!
On moving day, Rachel packed her things, kissed a dour Harvey goodbye, and was driven to her own apartment by a police officer, who escorted her up the stairs and into her own home. He went through each room, checking closets and under the bed, and gave her the "all clear" sign, as he went to assume his post outside her front door.
Rachel eagerly went to her stereo—her stereo—and turned on the radio. Harvey had very specific musical tastes, and raucous rock and roll wasn't one of them; she felt the powerful bass line of The Rolling Stones' "Jumping Jack Flash" wash over her, and she closed her eyes and nodded her head gratefully.
Turning to survey her home, Rachel's eyes swept the room—she had been worried about her fish, but they were apparently fine. Someone—who?—had been feeding them. Suddenly, her heart jumped in her throat as she noticed a small bowl containing two colorful fish and a castle sitting on the shelf by the large aquarium.
"Bud and Lou!!" she cried out. Jack had named them after two of his favorite old-time radio comics. There was a note, written in familiar block letters. Her hands shook as she read:
Welcome home—I had to bring your fish— I can no longer be responsible for their emotional health—I am not the nurturing type—they miss you.
"Oh, Jack…" she said miserably, a catch in her throat.
Mick Jagger growled the compelling lyrics in the background:
"I was born… in a cross-fire hurricane…"
"Yeah, uh, hiiii…." The Joker was, of course, slouching against the doorway of her living room, fists jammed into his pants pockets, no makeup. His blonde hair, back-lit by the sun from her bedroom window, framed his face like a demented angel's halo, and a sheepish smile was twisted into his scarred lips.
She turned and started laughing. "You jerk, how did you get in here?"
"You keep asking me that—I told you, complain to maintenance! This place must be a hundred years old, you couldn't keep a five year old out."
She ran up to him and hugged him. He put his arms around her and held her close. "I didn't think you'd really want to see me…" he murmured into her hair.
"I don't—but now that you're here, well, I guess I don't mind too much." She looked up at him and thought it was funny that she felt no fear at all, just a child-like sense of excitement. Like he had come for a play date. The stupidity of that thought hit her and she pulled away, serious now.
"Jack, why are you here?"
"I was schooled…with a strap right across my back…"
He shrugged. "Well, I didn't really get to say goodbye properly. And, things are going to get interesting in this old town very soon. I thought…I thought it might be my last chance to…to tell you that I'm sorry…for everything." She stared into his eyes and saw that they were clear and—well, sane—in a way she had only occasionally glimpsed during her time in his home.
"Jack, what's going to happen? What have you done?"
He just smiled and said "I'd do my banking on line for the next few weeks, if I were you."
"I was drowned… I was washed up and left for dead…"
"Look, don't worry about that stuff, tell me all about you and Harvey. Any wedding plans yet? Listen, send me an invitation…I bet I could get a day pass from Arkham for such a special occasion!"
"Oh, shut up. We're not getting married, at least not anytime soon." She stared at him, wishing she had the courage to bury her face in his neck and inhale his scent…. "I have to get over you, first…"she said, barely audibly.
His eyes narrowed, he shook his head reproachfully, and bit his lower lip in a "you're bad!" gesture.
"Me!! Now, that's just ridiculous. I'm the bad guy—you're supposed to be all angry and call-the-police-ish…I mean, what the hell, you're crazier than I am!"
"I was crowned… with a spike right thru my head…"
She accepted his veiled challenge and put her arms around his neck and kissed him eagerly; he opened his mouth and let her slide her tongue inside, then returned the favor. The Joker placed one hand firmly on her bottom and pressed her against him so that she felt the swelling in his trousers. Without thinking, she urgently ground her hips against his erection, making him moan. Suddenly, he pulled her arms down from his shoulders and held her away from him, giving her a look of exaggerated suspicion.
"Now, hold on there, little lady, don't go saddlin' up if you ain't planning to take a ride…" he said in a mocking cowboy drawl.
"I'm riding." she said firmly.
He burst into laughter. "Oh, what's the matter, isn't good ol' Harv taking care of business? Not getting the job done? Not…" She pressed her mouth against him, mostly to shut him up before he got on a roll, but also because she wanted to taste him again.
"Come on, cowboy." she ordered, for a change. She led him to her bed, and began undressing. He smirked in complete amusement, but lust overcame his desire to fully humiliate her for her willing indiscretion, and he hastily slipped out of his jacket and jeans. Completely naked, Rachel began unbuttoning his shirt, then tugged his boxer shorts down. They fell together on the bed, kissing and fondling each other with desperate need.
He pushed her down onto her back, and, after first slipping his fingers inside her to make sure she was ready for him, knelt between her parted thighs. Then he eased into her, smiling down at her beautiful face, loving the way her body enveloped him and the way she reared up against him as he thrust into her. "Harvey—really has been--neglecting you—hasn't he?" he panted in between thrusts, still amused.
"Will you just shut up and fuck me," she said between gritted teeth.
When they finished, they lay quietly in each other's arms. They both knew it was the last time they'd be together like this. Rachel had decided—she would bring Harvey back fully into her life, to be her lover again. It wasn't fair to keep him at arms length until she got over her infatuation with the criminal known as the Joker. She had to shake herself out of her fantasy world and get back into her own life.
And Jack decided that he couldn't withstand another meeting like this without scooping Rachel up and carrying her back to…where? He had no real home now. He had nothing to offer her or anyone else, except the band of crazy, highly disposable hoodlums that he was quietly assembling. He had to let her go. He had to forget how much she'd gotten to him; he couldn't afford to go soft on some girl. There was…too much at stake, now.
He finally got up and began to dress, as did Rachel. They walked hand in hand to the living room, preparing to say goodbye. She hugged him tightly again, and he lifted her up in a bear hug that left her laughing helplessly. "Put me down, silly." she pleaded.
He complied and they stood staring at each other.
"Goodbye, Jack. Please be careful."
"Goodbye, Rachel. Take care of Harvey. He's…uh…a good man."
They kissed one more time and Jack turned to open the door, when the doorbell rang. Rachel peeked through the peep hole and turned worriedly to the Joker—"It's Harvey!" she whispered.
He grinned. "Well, let him in, don't keep the man waiting."
She rolled her eyes—what in the world was he going to pull now?—and opened the door. Harvey stepped in, and stopped short, seeing Jack. "Hello? I'm Harvey Dent," he automatically thrust his hand out, in true politician style. "And you are?"
"I'm the security consultant Ms. Dawes called, I'm with Jack's Home Security. I was just saying that this entire building needs a thorough going over, can't be too careful with your family's safety, now can you? Anyway, Ms. Dawes, you have my card, just give me a call if you decide you want a written estimate."
With that, he jauntily stepped past Harvey, Rachel, and the police officer, and, somehow, disappeared from view before Harvey had a chance to speak.
"What happened to his face?" Harvey asked, dismayed.
"He was in a terrible accident. He said if only the building he lived in had updated its security system, it never would have happened."
She thrust her hands into her pockets, and found an unfamiliar piece of slick cardboard. She pulled it out and saw it was a Joker card. She smiled ruefully and shook her head, sliding it back before Harvey noticed. Later, she would place it next to the little clown and ballerina figures, which were discretely displayed behind Bud and Lou's small fish bowl.
Every once in a while, Rachel would pick up the delicate figures, examine their painted faces, and for a moment, be back in Jack's warm, strong arms again, his blonde hair falling around his face, his scars disappearing with his sweet, twisted smile.
"But it's all right now, in fact, it's a gas…
But it's all right…I'm jumping Jack Flash,
It's a gas gas gas…."*