Disclaimer: I don't own anything. The song "The Brilliant Dance" is by Dashboard Confessional. It's an absolutely gorgeous song and you should check it out.

Slamming the door closed, Joker dragged his tired, rain-soaked body to the couch and immediately collapsed onto it. He found one of Harley's discarded t-shirts laying over one arm of it and gripped it tightly in his fist. Tonight's job had gone horribly wrong. He ran a shaking hand through his dripping, green locks as he took a shuddering breath and recalled the night's events.

So this is odd.

The painful realization that all has gone wrong and,

Nobody cares at all.

And nobody cares at all.

It was supposed to be a quick exchange with Maroni, a simple matter of money. Somewhere along the line things had gotten way out of hand. In the midst of their deal, Maroni had made a snide comment to him, which coupled with the unpleasant downpour they stood under, pissed him off. Before he could even wrap his finger around the trigger, one of Maroni's men had already fired at him. And missed.

She hadn't even had time to try and dodge it, everything had happened in the blink of an eye. He had felt a weight drop into his stomach as her soft cry pierced the air around him. He had turned just in time to see her petite body crumple neatly to the ground.

One bullet was all it had taken and she was gone. Harley. His Harley-Girl. His shock allowed for a quick escape for Maroni and his boys. He didn't even catch the bastard who'd shot her.

So you buried all your lover's clothes,

And burned the letters lover wrote,

But it doesn't make it any better.

Does it make it any better?

Still unmoving on the couch, he clutched the shirt tight to his chest, Harley's unique scent still permeated the thin cotton. He at once felt his heart grow heavier, and Joker decided he couldn't think about it any longer. He needed to be moving, keeping busy. He needed to forget. After all, this particular line of work was quite dangerous, Joker was losing henchmen every day. What was one more, right? Right, he silently reinforced the thought with the nod of his head.

As he stood up, he shoved Harley's t-shirt under the cushion where he wouldn't have to look at it any longer. The frustrated clown headed for his lab and shrugged off his wet jacket halfway down the hall and he stormed through the door, heading straight for the work bench. Perhaps working on a new chemical could clear his mind. He enjoyed his scientific endeavors, and this is exactly what he needed to clear his head of such troubling thoughts.

Only after he sat down, did Joker notice the various scrawled love notes and pictures Harley had made for him, littering his work area. One in particular caught his eye, a childish rendition of two stick people holding hands, one with bright green hair and a big red smile, the other with blonde pigtails wearing a little red skirt. His throat tightened, a slight burning sensation building behind his eyes. He quickly squeezed them shut and let out a growl of frustration as he grabbed a handful of the offending papers and stuffed them into a beaker. Then he quickly lit a match and dropped it in as well. He would forget, even if he had to burn the whole damned warehouse down.

Without a single glance back at the burning papers, he quickly strode from the room.

And the plaster dented from your fist,

In the hall where you had your first kiss,

Reminds you that the memories will fade.

As he hastily headed back down the hallway towards their, no, his room, Joker stopped just outside the door to pick his jacket up off the floor. He straightened back up, and paused to survey the hallway as a hazy memory made its way to the forefront of his mind. Vaguely, in the deep recesses of his psyche, he recalled the first night Harley had come home with him.

Upon her request, he had carried her newly-wed style across the threshold. She had giggled all the way from the front door to the bedroom door. Before he turned the handle, he gently set her back on her own two feet, much to her disappointment. Then, quick as a flash and with a dramatic flare, he dipped her backwards, capturing her lips passionately in their first kiss as a partnership. He then righted her again, only to pin her to the wall, enjoying the feel of her pressed so snugly against him, so warm and soft...

His fist connected violently with offending wall just to the left of the door as he shook himself from the memory. Ignoring the gaping hole he left behind, Joker tugged the door open and made his way into the lonely bedroom.

So this is strange.

A side-stepping has come to be a brilliant dance,

Where nobody leads at all.

Where nobody leads at all.

As he loosened his tie and began removing his suit (a job that Harley usually assisted him with), Joker unconsciously let his thoughts drift to his departed harlequin again. Throughout their twisted relationship, Harley had constantly been clinging to him and felt a continuous need to declare her love for him. In most cases, a simple 'I know' and a pat on the head would placate her for a while, but on occasion he would give in to her incessant begging and indulge her in a kiss or two. Or more. It really depended on his mood whether he really felt like putting up with her, or just backhanding her through a wall.

Harley was seemingly oblivious to how he side-stepped the topic of "love" each time it was presented. All these years he had successfully avoided having to declare any sort of real sentiment to her, his actions were enough to convince her, in her own mind at least, that he cared for her... But was it only in her own mind? Joker was no longer sure whom he had been trying to convince, Harley or himself? Perhaps the clever minx had fooled him into believing his own actions? Exactly who was fooling who, here?

And the picture frames are facing down,

And the ringing from this empty sound,

Is deafening and keeping you from sleep.

After freeing himself from his damp clothes and putting on a pair of purple and green flannels, Joker quietly slipped into bed, mind still reeling. He stared ahead at the beside table and his eyes focused on a picture of himself and Harley. They were in full costume, probably about to head to a job. Her arms were wrapped tightly around his neck as he was smirking at the camera as she stared lovingly up at him.

Angrily, Joker reached out and knocked the frame over and he once again lay on his back to stare at the ceiling. The warehouse was strangely quiet without Harley's bubbly voice filling the void. He hated her voice. Hated how loud, how high-pitched it was. How it was constantly getting on his last nerve. Mostly he hated how badly he wished to hear it right now. Unable to fall asleep, he rolled over and stared blankly at the empty pillow next to him.

And breathing is a foreign task,

And thinking's just too much to ask,

And your measuring your minutes by a clock that's blinking eights.

She should be there to fill that empty spot, to snuggle up to him and keep him warm. She had always been there, by his side, to comfort him any time he'd had a rough day. But not today. Not ever again. And the gravity of the situation finally crashed into him like a ton of bricks. He felt his throat tighten and he tried unsuccessfully to swallow.

Suddenly the burning behind his eyes returned full force. His breath hitched once, twice. As he struggled to breathe, the burning finally gave way to tears. There were no conscious thoughts, no memories. Only the pain of the situation. He gripped the sheets tightly and curled up on his side as choking sobs wracked his worn body.

Never had Joker felt pain like this before in all his life. This was nothing like being stabbed, shot, or punched. No, he had experienced those many sensations before, and nothing compared to the agony he now felt. It burned, ached, and stung all at once. Seconds felt like minutes. Minutes felt like hours. He eventually gave up on keeping track of how long he laid there. Maybe this was what dying felt like?

Well this incredible,

Starving, insatiable,

Yes, this is love for the first time.

Well you'd like to think that you were invincible,

Yeah, well weren't we all once,
Before we felt loss for the first time?

No, he knew he wasn't dying. He was in love. After all these years, Joker was finally ready to admit it to himself. He was the Clown Prince of Crime, the Harlequin of Hate, Gotham's most feared criminal. And he had loved Harley Quinn with every fiber of his twisted being without even realizing it. Until now.

How bittersweet the situation was. It was that love that now left the notorious Joker a broken man, weeping alone to himself in the bed he had shared with only one other person. Neither the Batman nor the entire GCPD could bring the Ace of Knaves to his knees, but the love of one tiny, foolish, loud, annoying, clingy, ditzy, faithful, funny, and beautiful young woman could. And now she was gone.

Well this is the last time.

This is the last time.

As Joker cried himself to exhaustion that night, he knew nobody could ever replace his Harley-Girl. Nor would he ever want to replace her. She was the girl that came along once in a lifetime, and it was his own fault she had already come and gone. He would find the son of a bitch who took her from him, and he would make him pay. The whole god damn town would pay. He had just lost his one and only shot at happiness. It was then he decided that if The Joker couldn't be happy, then neither could Gotham City.

Just as he finally began to drift off to sleep, Joker spared one final thought for his fallen partner in crime. 'I will get revenge for you, Harley-Girl, mark my words. I love you, my Pumpkin Pie, my Cupcake. My Harley Quinn.'

Bright green curls fell softly against an alabaster, tear-stained cheek as Joker fell into a fitful slumber, visions of blonde hair and a soft, pink smile haunting his dreams.

This is the last time.

A/N: This is my first fic ever, so let me know what you think, but please be gentle. :)

I wrote this because you often see stories about how Joker reacts when Harley leaves momentarily, but I decided to delve into how I think he would react if she was never coming back. I figured the only way Harley would leave Joker for good is if she was dead, so that's what had to happened. Harley is my absolute favorite character in the Batman series, but unfortunately, she had to go for the sake of the story.

Also, I just don't think Joker would ever come to realize the true depth of his feelings for her until she was really gone for good, so that's why I made his reaction so strong.

Thanks for reading!