Harley stared bleakly into the mirror, hoping against hope that she'd been mistaken- that she'd just been imagining things. After all, the bathroom in this Ha-Hacienda was lit by a single bare light bulb; it was possible she'd just been fooled by a trick of the light. She was sure that, if she took a good look, she'd see that it was nothing. But no, there it was, as plain as day , anyway). She couldn't lie to herself any longer.
She had a wrinkle. It wasn't much, just the beginnings of laugh lines around her mouth, but it was as depressing as being caught by Batman.
It wasn't FAIR! She was only twenty-eight, she shouldn't even be thinking about wrinkles yet! She was young, healthy, and in love- why was her face betraying her?! Why couldn't it be like the rest of her? Then a horrible thought struck her- she had only really checked her face. Maybe the rest of her body was starting to age too. Harley squared her shoulders, and her face took a on a firm expression- if life with the Joker had taught her anything it was that being meek and timid was a waste of time. She would confront this the way she confronted nosey do-gooders- head on and without fear. First, though, she went to lock the bathroom door. It just wouldn't do for the henchmen to walk in on her while she checked herself for wrinkles.
That done, Harley stripped off the while undershirt and polka-dot pajamas she was wearing to examine herself in the mirrored shower door. At first glance, everything seemed okay, cheering Harley immensely. She was in excellent shape, and her body was as toned as could be. But a closer examination brought her mood back down- the veins on the back of her hands were starting to show, and her breasts were starting to display just a hint of sag. Harley leaned closer to the mirror, biting her lip with dread. Sure enough, her peachy skin was starting to lose its healthy glow. All in all, she had to admit it wasn't good. She still looked good now, but who knew how long that would last?
Harley turned her back on the hateful mirror and sagged to the floor, deeply depressed. Really, though, she supposed she shouldn't be surprised at what was happening. She lead a very stressful life- between battles with the Bat-Pack, escapes from Doctor Arkham's House Of Fun, late nights and early mornings, days or weeks spent living off junk food, lover's quarrels with Mista J... Really, it was no surprise that she was getting old before her time. Suddenly, she sat bolt upright.
What would Mista J do when she wasn't pretty any more?
She knew that her Puddin' loved her, body and soul, but like he always said a master criminal had to maintain a certain image. He couldn't walk into the Iceberg with a withered ol' hag on his arm could he? No, he'd probably get some new, prettier girl to be his henchwench- at least in public. But really, how could it possibly stay that way? The Joker was the greatest, most magnificent and most charming man on the face of the Earth! How could any woman resist him? Harley growled as she pictured the new girl- whoever she was- trying to sink her hooks into Mista J. Oh, she could picture the bitch now: some slut with perfect black hair, bright green eyes, and a beauty spot just above her lip. But her anger soon gave way to depression, and she slowly began to get dressed.
Wrinkled or not, she still had a busy day ahead of her.
In the main bedroom of the Ha-Hacienda East, the Joker lay on the bed looking at the ceiling. He was having a hard time deciding what, exactly, he should do today. There were so many wonderful possibilities! A gas bomb at the Gotham Stock Exchange? An assault on a Police Precinct, guns a-blazing? A nice, relaxing drive-by in Time Square? Maybe just a bit of grand larceny, to keep the ol' bank account healthy? Really, it was just so hard to decide. Maybe he should talk to Harley, that always helped him make decisions. Not that the little dimwit ever contributed anything, of course, but she was a good sounding board for his own thoughts and knew how to be an appreciative audience. Where WAS Harley, anyway?
As if on cue, the bathroom door shut and Harley plodded through the room, heading for the kitchen to cook breakfast. That in itself told the Joker that something was off- normally, Harley was a bundle of energy, like a hyperactive toddler on methamphetamines. But now she moved like a toy that was almost out of battery power. Her expression was gray and apathetic, as though she wasn't really aware of her surroundings. Most telling of all, she didn't immediately focus her attention on him, instead passing him by to get to the door. Joker found himself becoming angry- what could possibly distract his girl from the wonder that was him?
"Harley!" he called, and was surprised when she didn't immediately come back into the room. His anger grew, and he leaped off the bed to follow her. Reaching the kitchen, he found his girl pouring milk onto a bowl of sugar-frosted cereal- or at least he presumed that's what it was. Harley had clearly gotten distracted and now the bowl was overflowing with milk, so much so that iwas actually spilling off the table and onto the floor. All the while, the blonde maniac stared drearily into the distance. The Joker coughed, cleared his throat and even started tapping his foot, all to no avail. Finally he walked up beside her, leaned down so that his mouth was level with her ear and yelled "HAR-LEEEYY!!"
Slowly, the girl turned to face him. "Didja say somethin', Mista J?"
The Joker growled and spun her so that her whole body faced him. "What is wrong with you today? First you ignore me in the bedroom, then you don't hear me when I call you, then you ruin my breakfast and now I have to shout in your ear to get your attention!"
Harley sighed, and lowered her eyes. "It's nothin', Mista J" she droned "It's not important..."
"Of that I have no doubt" The Joker replied testily "but whatever it is, it's keeping you from your usual level of semi-competence, so spill it."
"It's just..." Harley sighed again. After what seemed like an eternity she looekd up at him with eyes full of tears and pointed to something on her face. "LOOK, PUDDIN'! I got a wrinkle!"
The Joekr peered at the spot for a few seconds, adn eventually was able to spot what she meant. Sure enough, there was a very faint line just under her finger. "Oh, yes." he said "I see it. Huh. So what?"
"So what?" Harley exclaimed, now crying openly "It means I'm gonna get old, an' fat, an' gray an' wrinkly! An' your gonna find some sweet young slut ta take my place as your henchwench! An' she'll fall in love with you an' you'll LEAVE ME!" Having abandoned all pretence at self-control, Harley sank to the floor sobbing.
The Joker stood stock still for a moment. Then his body began to shake, gently at first but more and more as time passed. Eventually he began to giggle, then to chuckle, and finally he burst out laughing. So loud and long did he laugh that Harley looked up from her tears. After some time, the Joker's laughter subsided and he bent down to offer Harley his hand.
"Oh you poor dumb kid" he chuckled "Is that all that's bothering you? You think I'm keeping you around for your looks?"
Surprised, Harley took his hand and was pulled to her feet. "Well, aren't ya? Ya always tell me it's not for my brains"
The Joker snorted, and led her into the main room of the Ha-Hacienda. With a glare, he sent the henchmen who'd been playing cards there scurrying from the room, and he headed for a small bookshelf. "Certainly not. Where is it? Ah!" The Clown Prince of Crime plucked a small photo album from the shelf and headed for the sofa, Harley following. The Joker sat down and patted the seat beside him; Harley obediently sat down, curling her legs underneath her. Opening the book, the Joker flipped through the pages.
"This is a scrapbook I made, when I was still just getting started" he said, never taking his eyes from the pages. "It has clippings from some of my first crimes, obituaries for some of my first victims and - Here it is! Harley, look at this."
Harley bent down to see the page in question. It held a single large photograph, of the Joker at some nameless nightspot, dressed in his finest and holding a beautiful woman on either arm. Except that beautiful wasn't the right word- these women were stunning! The one on his right was a platinum blonde with full, pouty lips and sparkling blue eyes. To call her figure 'voluptuous' was like saying Batman was a tad annoying- the woman had a body porn stars dream of and seemed to radiate pure sexuality. The other woman could not have been more different- tall and thin, the brunette possessed a classic, aristocratic beauty that supermodels killed themselves to imitate. She had high cheek bones, a pale compledxion, and perfectly styled hair. Both women made Harley feel inadequate- and a little puzzled. Seeing this the Joker took back the book, and tapped the photo.
"The one on the right was Lila. The one on the left called herself" he paused and tossed his head back dramatically, placing one hand on his forehead before continuing in an affected European accent "The Con-tessa"
Harley giggled. "You're not serious, Mista J! The Contessa?"
"If I'm lyin' I'm dyin', Harl. Said she was nobility in a small country, that she was hiding from 'the upstart peasants who destroyed my ancestral home." the Joker assured her. "Anyway, they both hooked up with me soon after I hit the big time. Lila claimed she wanted to be with an exciting, debonair man about town, while" again, the Joker struck his dramatic pose "the Con-tessa needed a strong, capable man to protect her from Communist assassins. Of course, they were really just after money- I could see that right away. But what the heck- I needed bed warmers and eye candy, so I took them in. Now, let's turn the page."
The next page was a newspaper clipping, about the gruesome death of Salvatore 'Big Eyes' Tunesco, a mid-level capo in the Thorne crime family. The Joker tapped the page. "Ol' Salvatore tried to have me killed, just because I might have killed his daughter in one of my little pranks. How was I supposed to know she'd be in the post office when I blew it up? Honestly,. some people are just so unreasonable! So, naturally, I decided to hit him first. Because I had to move fast, I took Lila and the Con-Tessa with me, along with all my boys, to storm ol' Sally's mansion. Within a couple of minutes we had killed all of Sally's bodyguards, and had the old man tied up in his rec-room. Now, Sally's nickname was Big Eyes, because he had these bulging brown eyes that dominated his face- made him look ridiculous, believe me. So, to show that there were no hard feelings, I decided to fix that for him. I sent Lila into the kitchen to get me a melon baller and then..." The Joker made a popping sound with his lips "...out they came. Suddenly a great gag came to me. I picked up both of his eyes and held them in front of me as I started to sing..."
"OOOO! OOO!" Harley exclaimed, waving her hands in the air as she smiled. "Lemme guess..." The two clowns then began tro sing together.
Jeepers creepers, where's you get those peepers?
Jeepers Creepers, where'd you get those eyes?
The pair pauised, snickering before continuing as loudly as they could
Where'd you get those eyes?
Finishing the song, the clowns gave in to their mirth. Joker slid from his seat, clutching his belly as he guffawed long and hard. Harley fell over onto the spot where he'd been sitting, kicking her feet in the air as she laughed. After several minutes, the pair finally calmed down a bit, enough for Harley to sit up.
Wiping away a tear she smiled at her love. "Boy Mista J, that was a real classic!"
"I know!" the Joker exclaimed "But do you know what those two girls did? Did they laugh? Did they clap? Did they appreciate my comedic genius? NO! Lila started crying while the Con-tessa ran off to vomit!"
Harley gasped. "What? Why? That was hilarious!"
The Joker looked at his girl Friday with something close to warmth. "And THAT, Harley, is why I keep you around. You Get It."
Harley frowned, a bit confused. "I do?"
"You do. Oh, not completely, but you get at least some of it." The Joker rose to his feet and began to pace. "You understand that life is meaningless, a colossal joke, and that things like 'decency' and 'order' are just empty words dreamed up by morons who want to control everything."
"Well, yeah" Harley said with a shrug. "It's obvious, isn't it?"
"Obvious to us, Harl, but not to most people. A lot of people CLAIM to see it, but when confronted with real chaos, they run back to the illusion. You don't. In all my life, I've never met anyone else who comes as close to seeing the truth as you. THAT is why I keep you, and why I'll keep you even when you're old- assuming you live that long of course."
Harley had never been this happy in her entire life. It was as though the world had gone from gray to brilliant bright sunlight. Her puddin'- her Mista J- had practically told her she was his soul mate! For a moment, Harley felt that the sheer bliss of this moment would overwhelm her, and she would faint. She forced herself to remain conscious, however, and gripped her Puddin' in a fierce hug, burying her face in his chest. Joker tolerated this patiently for a moment before shoving her away.
"All better now, Harl?" he asked as he smoothed down the creases she'd made in his shirt.
"Uh-huh" Harley beamed. Then, hesitantly, she tapped him on the shoulder . "Um, Puddin'? C-Could we do something together today?"
The Joker sighed. God only knew what the dizzy girl had in mind- a picnic in the park, most likely. "What is it?" he sighed.
"I wanna kill the bitch who almost took my place" Harley growled "Don't worry about finding her, I got the slut memorized. I'll teach her to try an' steal my man!"
That made no particular sense to the Joker, but it promised to be entertaining at least. Plus, he found Harley in a murderous mood to be somewhat arousing. "All right, Harl, go get suited up and we'll go find this girl"
As he watched Harley skip away, the Joker viciously pushed down a strange feeling in his chest- a curiously soft and warm sensation. He wasn't overly worried, he knew the feeling would pass- it always did.
Just a little sappy fluff.