Turning Point

Harley had decided there was simply no fun in the world like a hyena puppy.

They were wiggly and growly and tumbly and licky and cuddly and snuggly.

It was just a few days after Christmas, and the bitter cold outside provided the perfect excuse to stay snuggled up deep within the lair. The goons were onhand to fetch and carry and deliver so they wanted for nothing. She reasoned the hot climes that her new babies were accustomed to meant they would be especially delicate to the winter and so would need to stay close by her at all times. All times. Which meant their poor, puppy paws could never touch the ground. She fashioned a sling out of series of knotted, brightly-coloured handkerchiefs, and carried them about in it, a strangely colourful sight in her baby pink fleece onesies, cooing down to them as they stared up at her with adoring, wide eyes.

The goons were sent out at regular intervals to fetch fresh meat and offal, huge bones and bottles of milk she warmed then fed to her babies. They chewed the teats into shreds and she had to keep replacing them, but they looked so sweet in the crook of her arm, greedily gulping down the warm nourishment so that their whiskers dribbled with milk and she felt a twinge of what real motherhood must feel like – and she loved it.

They tumbled together on the bed, the king-sized nest of comfort her and Mistah J shared. They played chasings amongst the pillows and peek-a-boo under the covers. There was an accident with one of the pillows and a slow, lazy shower of goose feathers drifted down on them to pounce on. At that moment, she was engaged in a fierce game of tug-of-war with the brassy little female, Bud, whose already-powerful jaws were locked strong on the end of a novelty foam mallet.

"I'm gonna win!" she exclaimed through gritted teeth, gripping the other end of the mallet in both hands, leaning back on her haunches. At just three months of age, Bud was already a pretty good contender. "You just wait and see, ya little bruiser!" Bud growled excitedly and her little tail wiggled frantically back and forth. Beside them, Lou pranced and chattered in an ongoing commentary. "Your goose is just about cooked, fried and friccaseed!"

With an almightly heave, Harley yanked back and the end of the mallet popped from Bud's jaws, the sudden release sending Harley sprawling back against the pillows with a shriek. The pups bounded over to crawl all over her, lapping at her face with their warm, pink tongues. She squealed in delight and they fell into a three-pile-on wrestling match.

In all the chaos, she didn't realise Lou had snagged Mistah J's purple satin pajama top from under the pillows and had begun to chew on it vigorously. "No, Lou, no! Naughty!" she cried, lurching forward to retrieve the top from his jaws. Lou sat back panting, looking up at her as she carefully examined the top for damage. Apart from a bit of hyena drool, it seemed intact and she breathed a sigh of relief.

A tiny pang of guilt flared up in her tummy. Where was Mistah J? She was ashamed to confess she hadn't given him much thought since he'd sequestered himself away in his workroom and fiercely informed her he was not to be disturbed under any circumstances, unless she wanted her lungs handed to her so in that instance she could certainly disturb him as he'd enjoy that particular diversion.

Normally, she would cheerfully disregard such orders, spending every hour of her day doing things that would make his plotting and planning more comfortable – warming his slippers by the heater, putting fleece blankets in the tumble dryer to fluff them up and then wrap them over his shoulders, spending hours cooking sumptuous feasts and mixing various measures of rum, wine, cocktails and more illicit drugs to keep him going. Of course, when he screamed for a cheeseburger and eggnog shake, it would be her duty and not the goons to go and get that – he did so love extra pickles on his burgers and the goons just couldn't be trusted with such a precise order.

And no matter how much he griped that she was not to hang around and fiddle with him, he didn't often object when she crept out of sight beneath the desk, sat very, very quietly and rubbed his feet.

But with the new babies needing so much attention and care, she just couldn't divide her attention between the two – and Mistah J had specifically said he wasn't to be disturbed so he must be okay. It would be different if Mistah J were with her instead of plotting and scheming of course, she'd make sure he was taken care of. But since he was busy with his work and he's specifically told her – well, surely it was okay to do as he said himself he wanted her to do and leave him to his own devices? No doubt he was achieving the most incredible genius without her so selfishly bothering him. Oh, of course she always did whatever she could to take care of him, but she couldn't pretend it wasn't at least partly an excuse to be near him.

So, really, she was being a very good girl not hassling him every moment with a clean pair of socks, deep-fried peanut-butter cups or inadequate contribution to whatever brilliance he was concoting.

The Babies liked to play rough, which suited Harley just fine. They gnawed at each other and playfully nipped and when she tripped their legs from under them they growled and rolled around in delight. Mistah J liked to play rough too, and that suited Harley even better. Watching the snap of the Baby's teeth as they wrestled brought to mind delicious and wicked thoughts of her Puddin's own wonderfully sharp teeth. At her ear, her neck, her breast... mmmm. She squirmed a little and tried to refocus on her squabbling pets, but again her thoughts drifted back to the man she loved.

He just had such a marvellous way of – of handling her. She'd never even known, before him, that such roughness would trip her trigger the way it did. Not just when they made whoopee – when he would bite and grasp and maul, slap her face and yank back hard on her hair, pull her onto him and pound her until she thought she'd split in two, crush her throat beneath beautiful, huge hands, take a knife to her flesh and carve out patterns of ownership while she squealed and swooned – phew, she was beginning to swoon right there and then just thinking about it, oblivious to the fact Bud had grasped hold of the toe of her footsie pajamas and was gnawing vigorously. No, not just then, although that was simply delicious – but always. Hand on the back of her neck, guiding her around, jerking on her liliripes or pigtails to urge her where he wanted to go, shoving her aside when she was in the way or yanking her to him when he needed her. And when he got excited – hoo boy! Shaking her by the shoulders, squeezing her so tight she would choke, lifting her up and spinning her around in crazy circles until they crashed into the wall and he'd bite her lip hard until her mouth flooded with blood.

Harley let a dopey little smile drift up her face as she mused on her heart's desire right there, in the bed they made love in. It wasn't that she was some kinda weirdo or anything strange like that. It's just – just the way he did it that made it so magic – so nonchalant, so uncalculated, assuming her compliance, treating her like a toy, like a little dolly there for his own amusement. Harley shivered pleasurably at that thought, then grinned down at Bud before yanking her foot away, the fabric stretching in her pup's mouth before snapping back, wet with slobber. That's how she knew she was his – the way he handled her.

She hoped he'd finish plotting soon and come back up to be with her and the Babies.

Lou pounced on her lap and stretched up on his little back legs, putting his front paws on her shoulder and licking her face. She screwed up her nose and giggled before wrapping her arms around him and letting herself fall back on the bed. In the meantime, she had brand new baby puppies to play with, all her own!

Some time later, Bud had worn herself out and was curled up in a little ball on the Joker's pillow, a comforting little snoring sound emanating from her tiny frame while Harley held Lou down on her lap and tickled his tummy. She supposed soon she would have to get up and rouse the goons to get dinner for her and Mistah J, but it was difficult when she was so snuggly warm and the Babies were so much fun. She wasn't that hungry.

There was a low creak as the door to the bedroom swung open and she lifted her head briefly to see the Joker standing in the doorway, one palm on the door, the other arm dangling by his side.

"Oh hey, Mistah J," she said cheerily, turning back to Lou and scratching his ears. "How goes the plottin'?,"

"It would be going much better if I had something to eat," the Joker stated flatly, still standing in the doorway, and she glanced over at him again. A dressing gown was closed loosely around his waist and his hair was rumpled. His feet were bare and were tinged blue with cold. The shadows beneath his eyes had deepened and there was the unmistakable signs of a pout upon his mouth.

Awwww. Instantly, she was flooded with remorse for her neglect of him. Obviously, he just wasn't up to taking proper care of himself when in the throes of brilliance. She felt the urge to hurtle across the room to him, to hustle him into a hot bath and bundle him into clean pajamas and fill him up with hot food while smothering him in kisses. But as she gazed at him where he stood in the doorway of their bedroom, staring at her with a look of serious discontentment, a realisation struck her:

He'd sought her out.

As nonchalantly as she could, she turned back to Lou and lifted him up to cuddle against her bosom. "No sweat, Boss," she sang, "I'll ring for the boys to go and get us some grub, huh?"

From the corner of her eye, she saw his dangling hand curl into a fist. " You haven't got anything ready now?" he demanded to know.

She shrugged. "Sorry, Puddin'," she said innocently. "I didn't want to disturb you. I know how important your scheming is to you and I wanted to be sure you had as much peace as you needed."

She laid Lou across her lap again, then bent her head to his furry tummy and blew a terrifically loud raspberry.

Inside, she was squirming with joy. Mistah J was in an absolute sulk because she hadn't been paying attention to him! He was jealous, jealous and sooky and pouty and had come upstairs to find her and make her pay attention to him! He wanted her and the triumph of that validation was intoxicating.

She couldn't resist relishing it a little more. Just to see how much she could get him to reveal.

On her lap, Lou continued to wiggle, an ecstatic little bundle of hyena-pup joy as she tickled his belly. "My little baby," she cooed, "my sweet, sweet little baby, Mommy's little baby darling, aren't you sweetie? Aren't you?"

Of course, whilst her attention seemed focused entirely on the puppy, she was attuned to the Joker's every move and she thrilled when he took a step into the room.

"Been playing with your Christmas presents all day then, hurm?" he enquired silkily and she flushed with pleasure to recall he'd given them to her only a few days before.

"Hyeah" she giggled, pinning Lou down as he wiggled. "They're the best fun ever, Mistah J!" Lou continued to wrestle against her grip and she started to laugh to watch him struggle against her. "Is Mommy being a bully, baby?" she cooed to her pet. "Picking on her little baby when she's so much bigger and stronger! Mommy is just a big bully, isn't she?" The squirming hyena began to laugh as Harley pressed her lips to his tummy and again blew a raspberry before peppering kisses all over his muzzle.

The Joker continued to watch them silently from his place by the door and as Lou licked her face and wuffed, she momentarily ceased to mind him, becoming immersed fully in the joy of her exotic pet, clutching him close to her.

"I'm hungry," the Joker said quietly and Harley sat back up, cuddling Lou with her cheek against his head.

"Curly will getcha somethin' soon," she replied with thoughtless gaiety.

She barely had time to turn when a terrific force caught the side of her face, propelling her backwards so that the world spun upside down. She was too surprised to shriek, automatically letting go of Lou who went flying with a yelp.

A moment later and she found herself sprawled on the carpet, blinking up at the ceiling in fear and astonishment, her heart racing madly. What had happened?

Pain bloomed in her cheek and with a gasp she lurched upwards, just in time to see her Puddin' come around the bed, one fist raised, his face a frightful mask of fury.

The second blow was harder than the first, sending her neck snapping back. He caught her before she could hit the carpet again, and backhanded her head the other way. Within her, a senseless roar swelled to overcome her mind as she struggled to make sense of what was going on, but she was in too much shock to make a sound. The silence between them seemed to magnify the echo of his blows and in that moment she realised she was entirely alone, that no one knew what was happening to her, and no one cared.

Her Puddin' kicked her hard in the ribs and she retched and doubled over on the carpet, her stomach lurching with terror and pain. Oh God, what, what, what was going on?

She cowered at the Joker's feet as he hunched over her, panting. Slowly, awareness began to dawn on her, bringing her back to the world beyond the shock of his blows. The lair was absolutely silent except for the sound of his breathing. Around her, the world had not fallen apart – the room was in no disarray apart from the mess of her crumpled on the floor – there was nothing at all that had shifted or changed to draw the line Before and After what had just happened. Then she blinked as the carpet below her suddenly dotted red. She felt the warmth of fluid next and lifted a shaking hand to her nose, which stung at the touch.

Above her, the Joker straightened up and smoothed back his hair. "I'm hungry," he repeated simply and she was stunned by how violently she flinched at his voice.

"Okay," she whispered.

He turned on his heel and left the room without a glance back and when the door shut with a soft click behind him, she found herself overcome with nausea and retched onto the carpet, the interlocking pattern of green and blue becoming streaked with bile.

Her head was spinning and she was shaking too violently to stand, and so she crawled to the bedside table where the phone sat, lifted the receiver and spoke in a voice she didn't recognise to the goons downstairs.

Her hand left a smear of red on the purple enamel as she let it drop back down into the cradle. She found she didn't have the strength to move any further, instead wedging herself into the corner between the bed and the sidetable, drawing her knees up to her chest and staring blankly ahead to the yellow smear of bile next to the spots of her blood.

He'd hit her.

Her breath hitched and then she began to sob, tears spilling down her face.

He'd hit her, in anger. Not to possess her, not to tease her, not because he was playing with her, not because he knew how much she'd love it because it was just the right moment in the never ending game between them.

He'd hit her, to punish her. Because he was angry at her. Her Puddin', the man she loved, the man who was her whole world, who she'd do anything for, who had made her happier than she even knew it was possible to be, had raised his hand against her.

Harley choked and gasped for breath, stared miserably across the room as she wept, the pain in her side intensifying with her sobs.

How had it gone so wrong?

A soft, high whimper rose from under the bed and she glanced towards it to see two sets of yellow eyes blinking out at her fearfully. Bud and Lou, crouched there in tiny balls, silent witnesses to the sudden horror her world had become.

She knew she should offer them a word of comfort, go over and pick them up, reassure them that everything was okay.

But it wasn't.

So she turned her head away and resumed staring across the room, at the door, sick with fear it would open again and he would return, angry and shouting and ready to strike her again.

Is this what the doctors at Arkham had meant when they spoke of his violent rages, his propensity to cruelty? Sure, she knew he could be brutal to others but... but she wasn't like the others. She wasn't like anyone else. She was his girl. If he was rough with her, it was only in fun. Only in... in jest.

Her eyes brimmed with fresh tears. How could he hit her? Would he hit her again?

She was frightened. Her stomach twisted in uneasy knots as she considered the pickle she found herself in. He'd hit her. She loved him and he'd hit her. Loved him more than her own life and he'd made her nose bleed, knocked the breath from her. Without hesitating.

So what now?

If he got angry at her again, would he hit her again? Somehow, she knew he would. He would and he wouldn't hesitate. He wouldn't question it. If he hit her again, he would believe she deserved it. He would hit her as hard as he pleased, as much as he wanted, until he was satisfied she'd been punished enough.

She didn't know how long she crouched there on the bedroom floor in the stillness, blood and tears dribbling down her face. It was long enough that Bud and Lou finally crept out from their hiding place and skulked nervously over to her, wiggling beneath her arms. It was long enough that beyond, she heard the distant sounds of the goons arriving with food and the Joker laughing and she shuddered at the sound. Long enough that the pain in her nose dulled to a low throb and when she peeled her onesies off one arm, she found a large, purple bruise already formed beneath her breast.

Long enough that the rubbery feeling in her knees dissipated and she trusted herself to stand,

She went into the bathroom and stared at herself in the mirror. Her nostrils were ringed in crusted blood, two smeared rivers of it snaking down over her mouth and chin, and her cheek was black and blue. Dumbstruck, she looked at herself for what seemed like hours. He'd given her bruises before, of course. Bruises she'd loved and fingered over and over again, conjuring up memories of the delicious moments he'd inflicted them upon her. Marks given in love and shared pleasure.

Not the stains of his anger.

Carefully, she cleaned her face and tidied up her pigtails, while the Babies sat at her feet, gazing up at her anxiously. When she was done, she bent over and gave them each a loving pat on the head, then took a deep breath, squared her shoulders and marched towards the door.

She hesitated when she got there, staring down at the handle as though it might rip her arm off if she grasped it. Her stomach was heaving again and as she reached out towards the knob, she saw her hand was trembling.

The door opened with a creak, revealing the dark hallway. The Babies pressed against her legs as a gust of cooler air snaked around them. Distantly, she could hear the sound of a television, the rattle and bump of the pinball machine the goons entertained themselves on, the click of a pool cue on balls.

Fighting back the fear, she crept down the hallway and stole swiftly down the stairs, the Babies at her heels. She hesitated at the bottom of them, glancing towards the living room from which spilled warm yellow light.

She dashed past it and headed straight for the door at the far end of the hallway, praying it would not be locked.

It wasn't.

She quickly slipped around it before the Babies could follow her, shutting the door fast behind her. She heard them whimper and one of them scratched at the door, but she didn't dare shush them in case their protests became more insistent. She steeled her heart against the plaintive little noises, swallowed hard, then readied herself.

The Joker was sitting in the center of the room at his great, sprawling desk, an empty McDonalds bag at his elbow and the wrappers of several burgers mingled and scattered on the floor amidst discarded plots. As she approached him, he picked up his jumbo coke and took a big slurp, then continued to scribble at his blueprints.

In front of his desk she came to a halt and stood there, twining her fingers together anxiously. He did not look up to her as she stood there, trying to muster the courage to speak, and she couldn't help but think it was a good sign.

"M-Mistah J," she finally managed to stammer and he reached out for a fistful of fries, jamming them into his mouth.

"Mmmm?" he acknowledged her around his mouthful, though he still did not look up.

She tried hard to gulp down the knot in her throat, and her heart swelled painfully, a sensation that overwhelmed her in all its horrible power as she looked at him in his lanky, rumpled splendour. It was a feeling she never, ever wanted to experience again.

"Are you – are you still angry with me?" her voice was as plaintive as the soft, yearning whines of her Babies in the hall beyond.

Now the Joker did lift his head to look at her, an expression of abject astonishment on his face.

"Angry at you?" he retorted. "Of course not, you silly goose. What's wrong with you?"

The joy that flooded her then made her giddy and before she could think twice, she'd thrown herself across the desk and wrapped her arms around his neck.

"Oh thank you, Puddin', thank you! Thank you for being so forgiving!"

"What?" he sounded exasperated, trying to wiggle out of her grip as she buried her nose in his hair, breathing him in in big, grateful gulps. "What are you going on about? Don't be such a twit."

"I'm sorry, Puddin'," she babbled mindlessly, not caring in the least what he was saying so long as he forgave her for her terrible behaviour. She sat back on his lap, letting go of his neck with some reluctance but wanting so much to be good. "Don't mind me, I've just missed ya so much while you've been down here plottin' away."

There was a scrabbling at the door and she glanced at it fearfully, hoping he was too distracted to have heard it. He shifted her on his knee and reached out for his burger, taking a huge bite and chewing thoughtfully as he gazed down at the scheme that was steadily taking place on the page.

"You're almost out of burgers, Mistah J – want me to get you some more? Do you need a drink? Want a line? I'll cut some fresh for ya. How about a backrub? Are you warm enough?"

A frown of irritation creased his brow as she babbled until finally he huffed and clapped a hand over her mouth. "Shut up, shut up!" he grumbled. "I have to concentrate." He pushed her from his knee, swatting her bottom lightly as she went. "Go away. Daddy's busy. Go play with those damned scraps of fur I got you. I got them specifically so you'd leave me alone more often! Show a little gratitude why don't you!"

Harley's heart was soaring, her earlier pain entirely abated and forgotten as her world resumed normalcy. She skipped over to the sagging couch against the wall and curled up on it, gazing at her man with adoring eyes.

"Nuh-uh, Mistah J, I've neglected you way too long. I'm going to sit right here so I'm on hand to get you anything you need. You just say the word, Boss, and I'll make it happen. I can't let my big, beautiful man go wanting."

The Joker sighed and rolled his eyes before flapping a dismissive hand at her. "Just be quiet. I don't want to know you're there."

She mimed zipping up her lip and sat up straight, legs crossed on the couch as she watched him return to his work, her heart swelling with love as she bore witness to his genius.

The Babies would understand. Nothing could be more important than her Puddin'. Everything was fine. What had happened before was just a little hump – a mistake she had to learn from. She'd screwed up, but he'd corrected her and so now she knew better and to never, ever to make him angry again.

She could make it better. She could be better. All she had to do was pay attention and not do it again. So long as he wasn't angry at her, everything was okay.

All things were right in the world just so long as her Puddin' was happy.

Oohhhh so messed up. Yes, it wasn't that he hit her that bothered her so much, but that she'd made him angry. Is that clear? I'm still shaking off the rust from my long hiatus. :)

This is, hopefully obviously, meant to be the first time he hits her – properly hits her, as an act of anger, rather than the otherwise consensual roughness of their relationship.

I wanted it to be misleading – seeming like the disintegration of her fairy tale, maybe even that she's going to leave there for a moment – but really, she's just upset she made him angry. So, so, so wrong.

I think because there is consensual roughness and sado-masochism in their relationship coupled with their insanity, the line between this and actual abuse would be very blurred and become increasingly more so over time as well. I wanted this as a sort of example of that beginning, but it still being early on enough that it was genuinely shocking and traumatic for her. Also the difference between the two – Harley is an obvious masochist, but there is a real difference between kink violence (no matter how few boundaries they have) and abuse.

Furthermore, I hope that ending has a real edge of futility to it – it doesn't matter how good Harley tries to be, the Joker's moods and whims are too unpredictable for her to ever truly "behave" at all times in his eyes. There's always going to be something that sets him off, no matter how hard she tries. It's tragic and sick. So I must be too, cos I love it.

And yeah, I haven't written anything in ages. I've just been incredibly busy with life and work and stuff. I've been building a lot of cosplay stuff as well – if you want to, go to deviantart and follow my progress – my username is theprincessbee. Or go to my profile for a link :)