Genre: Romance, Horror
Time Frame: Comicverse
Characters: Joker, Harley
Summary: He has her. Hook, line, and sinker.
Notes: This is my first try writing Joker and Harley, and I have to admit that it was a lot of fun - a little too much fun, really. I have to admit that I just started reading Batman comics in earnest, and I'm trying to stay away from my movie based conceptions of the characters in order to write this. So, please forgive any mistakes. That said, enjoy!
There are times when she thinks that she still has a firm grasp on things. Other times she she can see the pretty pictures swirling all around in her mind – fact and fiction all a tumble until they are nothing more than jokes and jibes. She's told by the good ol' doctors at Arkham that she was unstable – broken even, their lying eyes say.
So she laughs and watches as their faces swirl over and around into one seamless, whole person. It's funny that a laugh could disturb as easily as a scream, and in odd little moments she understands why he has a knack for such things.
As she'd titter and hum, she'd watch as Joan's eyes would narrow before she'd ask why in a tone that bespoke her frustration and confusion.
She could answer 'why not?' and watch as the shrink's eyes fluttered in agitation. But she doesn't this time, instead willing to explain and enlighten. After all, she has nothing better to do.
Her tone is careful, reverent even, as she spoke of her time with him. In her voice visions played like dreams as she breathed and gave life to clumsily scribbled little ideas. There was light and laughter in her tone, and she drew her legs up underneath her chin as she drew herself into a world that was all her own.
It was easy to love him, she'd say. How could she not? All she ever wanted was a man who could make her laugh, and boy does she now have that in spades.
(Fact: She cries more than she laughs when she's with him. But soon tears feel like cackles as she clutches her sides with each surge of emotion. He laughs when she cries, and that was all that mattered. He made sure of it.)
Sure he was a little rough around the edges, but wasn't every guy? Joan says that 'every guy's do not leave their girls with bullets in their sides and bruises around their necks. Harley frowns a little at that, not really liking the doctor's tone.
So she explains the feeling of being near the edge but not pushed over. She explains how anyone else he would push, but not her. Never her. Yes, her vision would swim until all there was before her was a leering crimson grin, and her breathing would burn as she gulped in air like she would fumes. She tries to explain that the marks were just that – marks. A hundred little things that bound her to him. Branded her as his.
She wore rubies and amethysts around her throat like diamonds, and she'd tilt her head to show the bloodied marks with pride. He took her life to the edge, and grasped her hand before she would fall – again and again and again. With anyone else he would just take and take until there was nothing left to give.
(Fact: Each time he tries to kill her, only to fall curiously short of his goal. So he'd frown – such an unnatural facial contortion that he can feel his skin ache - and strike her again, hoping that pain would show her why she should be miles away. Each time she'd come back with a pleased devotion, and he'd frown even more and try again. On some levels, it was something he didn't understand himself. So he doesn't even try.)
The violence had taken some getting used to – but late nights shooting up mannequins in richy boutiques had given her a stellar aim, and a forgotten childhood of tumbling and twirling came back in a rush of memory and mirth.
The first time she had taken a life, her hand had quivered and she had lost her lunch in an unflattering stain down the front of her crimson and ebony spandex. She had heaved, and fought the urge to scrub the scarlet fabric from her body as she saw red – cerise and sanguine and ruby and everywhere around her. He had knelt over her victim critically before laughing long and hard – the normally soothing sound was harsh as it traveled with little claws up an down her spin.
Murderer. Murderer. Murderer, it said.
And not again, she had vowed.
Until he had put a firm hand on her shoulder and said, "Well done, kiddo."
She had swelled with pride, and the next time she pulled the trigger she had felt something inside bloom with a heady ambrosia of euphoria and adrenaline. This was the joke, she finally understood, and now she was in on it.
(Fact: Her first kill had not been planed. It was a botched job – all her fault, he swore - and when the cop had came upon them, Harley had surprised him by shooting first. The long torturous nights teaching her a semblance of aim had paid off, and he had nothing to do now but laugh at his handiwork. Her getting sick shouldn't have been surprising, but he saw no reason why his good mood should be spoiled by her conscience, so he patted her back and told her well done. The next time she pulled the trigger there was no hesitation.)
Over time she had learned not to expect roses and chocolates – even going as far as sneering at the naïve her that had yearned for those sort of things. With her man, it was the little things that spoke volumes – the little things past the cherished bruises and the midnight capers.
Things like a hand up at the end of a fight, purple leather crossing over nimble black as she would draw her lips into a smile to match his. Even when he just pushed her back down again, it spoke volumes to her. Tiny compliments – flippant and scarce - made her forget the gaps in between until her life was just a long string knotted with diamonds. The jewels shone brilliantly, making her forget about the nothingness in between. A thoughtful 'so, you've changed you perfume' and 'was that a new brand of greasepaint' showed his attention in small, wonderful ways. Whispered jokes before waking hours and whoopee cushions left on her side of the bed warm her heart as much as any old cliché manifestation of love.
Then there were times when he'd casually sling his arm over her shoulders when they were in public. His arm would be heavy from where he was also holding his favored weapon of the moment, but she'd just snuggle closer as he'd look around, enjoying the jealous glances of those around him.
Little slips like 'my gal' and 'the only dame for me' while he's talking with the other rogues never slip past her attentive ears, and the flagrant way he paraded her before the bat never ceased to make her day. She was his to show off, she knew – his masterpiece, his open canvas. A blank slate covered in the hues of the moment and framed with pride for anyone to admire.
(Fact: What has started as a doodle is now a masterpiece. And while Da Vinci was never shy and Michelangelo was never modest, neither had a piece like her. So he shows her to the world as his. It's not possession in the sense she may think, but it is possessiveness none the less.)
Touch is coveted and craved when she is with him.
Her normal charms and tricks never seemed to work on him – the wide eyes and the simpering smiles. A leg crossed like this and her back arched like that . . . things that had worked every time (from childhood crushes to married professors to the man of the hour) don't effect him. A physically indulgent creature by nature, she was initially perplexed by the lack of response from her man.
A pat on the head after a successful job, and an accidental brushing of hands now meant the world to her. On the good mornings he would paint her face for her – drawing his long, beautiful fingers over her face in sweeping, graceful moves. The face-paint smelled like car grease, and made her skin dry and gritty underneath, but she does it for him. She does it for moments like these – trying to contain her shiver as he brushed the soft skin between her lips and her nose. He smeared soot around her eyelids and painted her lips a dead black to counter his scarlet leer. She would bite back moans when his fingers would linger on her lips, tasting iron and copper on her tongue from where she had clamped down too hard.
Sometimes when he was done, he would call her beautiful.
Sometimes, very special times, he would kiss her when he was finished – taking glee in the fact that he was smearing his carefully applied work – swirling the corpse white and the Hades black about her face until she was nothing more than ruined swirls of silver gray.
These moments were the highlights in her existence – brightly burning moments that drown out every gray moment in between. Kissing him was like touching a live wire. The taste of battery fluid, copper, and cotton candy swirl between them, electrifying her. Nothing is caring in the touch – it's harsh, bruising and nipping to the point of being uncomfortable, and still she drinks him in as she breaths in air.
(Fact: The opposite sex drew little to no interest to him before her. He tells himself that physical contact is just another way to control and manipulate, and yet there are times when he cannot forget the taste of her for hours.)
There are softer moments too – private moments that she encases in glass and reverently covers in the small corners of her mind lest they are discovered and taken away. She takes them out to reverently finger on rainy days, smiling and twittering to herself as she imagines splintering cracks through the ice crusted frames.
There are moments like compassionate silence above a rooftop, watching flames burn in the distance. The sound of sirens as he would loop an arm about her shoulders without thinking. There was always silence in these moments, words falling unimportant and unneeded and laughter forgotten long before.
Sometimes she would wake in the middle of the night to find herself curled in his embrace, his breathing slow and steady against the bare skin at her neck. Nights never started out that way – his side was his side, and her side was her side and he was always quick to remind her of that with a pointed shove. On bad nights she would find a place to sleep somewhere else in the hideout of the moment, and she'd still blink drowsily throughout the night to find him with her. He'd always be gone in the morning, but that didn't change the fact that she knew.
Her most sacred moments are the times when she has seen him cry – but she doesn't tell Joan that. She will never tell anyone that - ever or for anything. The world can watch him laugh, but only she can observe his tears, and that is a gift she cherishes. Those moments were few and far between – no words were spoken, and she wouldn't even dare to touch him in comfort. She would be silent – a pillar as she observed his grief with her eyes only.
(Fact: His weak moment always seemed to be around her, until eventually he turned to her during them. He wouldn't tolerate acknowledgment, pity, or compassion – he just wanted her to know something he couldn't even try to explain himself.)
The fact was, she loved him. Truly, madly, deeply - her face drew into a silly little grin as she lovingly stressed the 'madly'. Her eyes twinkled as if in the throes of a particularly wonderful joke, and Joan fought the urge to fidget while observing her colleague turned patient.
Soon, the clock above them has twittered away an hour, and as it chimed, Joan gently called her patient to a stop. It took the blonde girl a moment to collect herself, but when she did she smiled brilliantly – her lips stretching her pale peach skin from ear to ear.
"So, you understand now, doc?"
No. Joan doesn't.
This doesn't bother her, though. Not really. Not anymore.
The guards come in to take her back to her cell, and if they are nice they will take the long way back – maybe they will take her by hiscell. Maybe he will even wink at her through the glass. Her heart leapt at the thought – twisted and shuddering until she was skipping away between her escort.
Her faint humming mixes in with the shuffle of feat against the linoleum floors and the agitated clicking of Joan's pin against her clipboard. Where, much to her annoyance, there are dozens upon dozens of leering smiley faces.
If there is one fact that she has gained throughout all of this, it is this:
He has her. Hook. Line. And sinker.
And in a strange way, Harley has caught the Joker as well.