Yes, I live.

I've finally decided to return to TDK fandom. The past months I've been working on original fiction, but now I've decided that I still have loads to learn from fanfiction. It's been what… eight months? Maybe more, I can't remember. I wonder if my writing style has changed… probably a little. I'm working on stripping unnecessary adjectives/adverbs. Ha ha.

This oneshot is a response to XxJagzxX's PM, asking if I would still keep writing, and if I'd ever do a Harley-fic. The title is the same as the title of the PM. Thanks for sending it! So this story is dedicated to XxJagzxX and everyone else who asked if I was going to keep writing fanfic.

On a final note, this is technically my first "romance." Ever. I don't really like or read romance, even in fanfiction: just never struck my fancy. So… yeah.




Keep It Going




Somebody was crying.

Such a thing used to bother her: she'd entered her profession to stop weeping, wailing, and suffering. Now it bothered her that it didn't bother her—if that thought made sense. It had a strange, circular logic. But this, too, did not trouble her, at least as much as it once would have.

"Mr. J?" she called. "Do you mind? I'm tryin' to sleep, here."

The crying was cut off by a sobbing gurgle. Silence.


In the dark his voice sounded distorted. "No problem, dahling."

She silently mouthed along with his next words. "I'd, uh, do anything for you."

That was a good start, she told herself, the statement a monotony in her brain. She'd repeated it far too often for the phrase to hold any more meaning—but just thinking it made her feel better. It was a start, to get the Joker to care for her. It was a good start. Keep it going—you can save him.

Months ago, those words made so much more sense. Now they were empty. And as she searched her foggy mind for some hint of remorse, she found once again that this had ceased to bother her. Perhaps she should be concerned.

A gloved hand fell on her hair, but she didn't move. Fingers traced over forehead, cheekbones, lips. They found her eyelids, where soft fluttering betrayed that she was still awake.

"Go to sleep, dahling. Dream for me."


As he moved away in the darkness, her mind succumbed.

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Once, when she was a child, her cat had been hit by a passing semi truck. The little animal flopped over on the asphalt, reminiscent of its namesake, a slinky, tumbling down the stairs. Its shrieks echoed across the fields, startling the neighbor's horses. For the longest while she sat nearby, wanting to comfort, but afraid of the blood.

A neighboring boy, high-school age, finally put the animal out of its misery. He approached, shovel in hand, and she'd placed herself squarely between him and her kitten—to no effect. When the shovel cracked against the tiny skull, she screamed.

"Stop it! Stop it! That's my Slinky!"

"He's chewed in half, Harleen! You can't save him!"

"No!" she'd sobbed. "No! The vet can save him! My Slinky!"

At that point her mother had arrived, scooped her up and carried her into the house. Later, she saw her father talking with the neighbor boy, thanking him for what he had done. This was a betrayal, something that her father's image never recovered from. And while she loved cats, she never again owned one, never overcame the image of her calico's fur stained red and purple with its own intestines.

Like all children she had detested death—but she even more than most. The day of Slinky's demise, she'd decided to be a vet when she grew up. She was going to save animals like her Slinky, so little girls like her wouldn't have to cry themselves to sleep. She'd be so good at it that she'd never even have to put any animals down, like they did sometimes in the veterinary shows on television. The Cat Queen, they'd call her. The miracle worker.

Her parents, seeing that she would never accept another cat as replacement, bought her a guinea pig. Her Twinkly never encountered any accidents, mostly because she watched him like a hawk and never let him out from his cage.

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"Wakey, wakey, Quincy-gal. Come see what daddy's got for yooooou...."

Her green eyes snapped open, squinted until the light became bearable.

"What is it, Puddin'?" she asked, hopping up from the pile of old, ragged suits that served as her bedding. His one-time clothes still smelled of him—that was why she'd crawled over to them once, when he hadn't come back before dark. Since then she'd been unable to sleep anywhere else, the longing for his tangy, mustard scent too strong to resist. Only the old clothes worked, because he hadn't taken kindly to her attempts to commandeer half his mattress.

"Come see, come see, Harl," he smiled, red stripe vibrant against his yellow teeth. Fresh paint always made him look dashing, she thought. Long hours she'd spent, watching in rapt silence when he applied it, her gaze following every finger from paint can to cheek. Worshipful. No pagan ever adored his idol more than she did hers.

Now, when she made a move toward the open door, he grabbed her—roughly, somewhat unsteadily. Her curious glance revealed a new spark of mischief in his eyes.

"On second thought," he mused, "perhaps… you, uh, ought to wait…"

"But…" she pouted, stuck out her lip. This strategy worked well with him—more proof, she thought, of something human lingering under the greasepaint. "But I wanna see, Mr. J!"

Begging hadn't failed yet and it didn't fail now. The torn mouth twisted, hovered inches from hers, pursed and finally smacked its lips together satisfyingly—a sure sign that he had caved to her desires. With a longsuffering sigh he pulled her closer to him, covered her eyes with his palms. Whispers in her ear said,

"Okay, Harley, you win. But no peek-ing…"

She stumbled across the bedroom as he guided her sloppily, not bothering to warn her about the mattress or the chair by the door. Her shin slapped against the edge of the dresser. Ouch. From the sniggering in her ear, she understood that he needed to work a bit on his empathy. Little wonder, though, when one considered that he hadn't been shown much kindness in his life: so much she had to teach him…

"C'mon," his voice sounded, distracted, when she nearly tripped down a short flight of stairs. This told her that they'd traveled down the hall, and were now in the garage. Again she almost tripped on something—something soft.

"Ah. Sorry. Mind, uh… Marsha, I think her name was…"

That explained the weeping last night. And the stickiness on the concrete. Her shoes made zipper sounds, as they trod over the dried, tacky blood. The smell of day-old bodily fluids no longer affected her nose.

But this knowledge meant little to her. She was too focused on the fact that he'd apologized. Her mind was still processing this when his voice breathed—"Ready?"—and his hands lifted from her face.


"Oh!" she cried. "Mr. J! A car! And blue! For me?"

"Yeeaaaaaaah," he drew the word out, his breath toying with her tangled hair, fingers flexing on her arms. "Check the sides, Babe."

She had to step back over the body to get a good look. Both hands clapped up to her mouth, but couldn't quite contain the squeal.

"A hybrid! Mr. J, you remembered!"

"Of course." He sounded smug.

"You don't know what this means to me!" she leaped over Marsha's still form, rushing to plant a kiss on his nose. For once he didn't flinch back, a simple fact that turned her giddiness into pure joy.

It was so unexpected. She'd half-forgotten, over the months, that she'd once told him how she was saving for a car. A hybrid, because it would do less damage to the environment. And blue, since that was her favorite color, the color of the clean sea and sky. At the time she'd been despondent; breaking him out of Arkham had labeled her a criminal and her bank account had been frozen. Obviously he hadn't forgotten a word of their conversation.

Things like this reminded her, whenever she felt like giving up, that there was some good in him, she just knew it, and she just had to stick to her plan, show him the love he deserved as a human being… keep it going. There was something human under that paint.

After all, he really was a sweetheart—if you just got to know him.

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One thing that she understood, even as a child, was that there were moments in people's lives, moments which stood apart from all others. Revelations. Points in time when the foggy became clear and the skies opened up to the heavens. For her, the greatest of these moments (aside from meeting Mr. J, of course) was when she made the decision to be a doctor, instead of a veterinarian.

She had been sixteen, staying in Gotham for the weekend. With Wayne Industries deciding to fund a new medical research center, news had been leaked that the building was receiving its first batch of animals for testing an experimental cancer drug. The local animal rights group had called in reinforcements from the countryside—and for once her parents allowed her to go, because she told them that it was an event for 4-H.

The protesters arranged themselves just outside of the wrought iron gate, yelling and screaming for all they were worth. Even after the animals were ushered inside they continued well into the afternoon. Sometime around two-thirty, more news swept through them: the Wayne Industries Board of Directors was on the way. There was no better opportunity to be heard.

When the Board arrived, trussed up tight in stretch limousines, they were trailed by a lone grey sports car, the kind that sucked up gas faster than a bear could slurp hotdogs. Screaming even louder, the protestors' din threatened the short welcome speech that the facility's head doctor had prepared. Most of the men ignored the signs waving outside the gate—except for one: the tall, brown-haired man from the sports car. Clearly bored with the proceedings in front of him, he turned to look at the source of the background noise.

For a moment he regarded them with a bemused expression, the same sort of look routinely encountered on businessmen's faces, when they discovered a group of people were paid to stand about with signs. The businessmen could no more comprehend that than the protesters could an office job, with set hours, tidy cubicles, and secretaries gossiping away while the printer ran out of ink.

Then the next moment this particular man had begun walking toward them. An unusual state of affairs—from within the throng's ranks, she couldn't recall having seen anything of the sort before. A number of people stopped screaming. Some even gasped when he came close enough to reveal his face: Bruce Wayne.

"What's this about?" he asked, clearly ignoring their signs.

Silence greeted him. Some murmured, unsure how to put their message to such a celebrity. His steel-blue eyes seemed to hold something deeper within them, a strength that they had never seen in his sort before.

She spoke up first. "Say 'No' to animal cruelty!"

The shouting began again. He only appeared even more amused, and then somehow thoughtful. From between the bars his eyes scanned over the crowd, sifting through their faces. Then they found her. They were the most electric thing she had ever seen—and aside from Mr. J's eyes, the most memorable in her lifetime. He leaned closer to the wrought iron.

"What are you doing here, dear? Don't you have school?" he asked, his face masked with curiosity hiding some amount of concern.

Off-putting as being addressed directly was, she still stuck up her chin in defiance. "Some things are more important than education."

"True, true," he said. The honesty in his voice surprised her. "But do you really think this is?"

"Animals have rights too," she snarled. He nodded.

"So do cancer patients. Would you let a girl your age die to save a dog?"

The question took her aback—nobody had ever put it that way before. "Of course not!"

"You might consider your fellow human beings first, then," he told her. "You seem eager to help the world—don't waste that energy of yours. There are people starving in the streets, right here, right now. Why don't you look at the statistics for the homeless here in Gotham? The true homeless, I mean—those who can't find work, not just those who won't. And what about people with incurable diseases, AIDS or cancer or whatever? Maybe you should help people first, and then worry about animals."

She glared at him. "Well, Mr. Billionaire, why aren't you helping?"

"I am," he replied, calmly. "I'm curing cancer. What are you curing?"

Mental illness, she thought to herself later, when she was back on her parents' farm and looking up the statistics of the homeless in Gotham. Wikipedia had pointed out that the city had the largest rate of insanity in the nation, with more people in its asylums than in its jail. This, along with several pictures of the homeless—some had actually made her cry—finally secured her decision.

She wasn't going to be a vet, she was going to be a psychologist. She understood what it was like to suffer, to weep over something lost—her Slinky had taught her that. She'd give the people of the local asylums someone to relate to, who comprehended them. She would help cure them. She would save them.

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"Oh, it runs beautifully! I just love it, Puddin'!"

"I knew you'd like it, Quincy-gal."

"Oh, I do, Snuggy-wuggy!"

"A perrrrfect present for my Harl-harl."

"From the most perfect man ever, Cuddle-wuddle!"

"Sooooo says my annnngel, my dahling."

In the review mirror, she saw the two goons in the backseat give each other odd looks. They must have been new recruits.

Her hands fit perfectly on the steering wheel, even through the gloves—he always insisted she wear gloves when they went out. It was one of his more endearing eccentricities that he wanted them to dress to match. She always complied. After all, it was just another way to relate to him, to show him that he wasn't a freak like so many cruel people had obviously told him in the past.

The air billowed through the open windows, their speed rendering it artificially cold on a hot day. It toyed with her hair, the stark blondeness of the strands showing even through green dye. Not so, on Mr. J's head—the grease made his hair hang limply, appearing for the moment to be a muddy brown, like his eyes. She may have washed every night, but he barely wet his head once a week—and then only because she begged him to, fearing disease and lice should he be too lazy with personal upkeep.

Just more proof that he needed someone to love him. How would he take care of himself otherwise? Well, with her help, he'd transform into a proper member of society. She'd show him that it was possible to love without being hurt in return. Unconditional acceptance, that was the key, it was working and she had to just keep it going—

"Would you look at that!"

At his cry her attention focused on the sidewalk, where a young woman with a stroller was hurrying along. The baby carriage was surprisingly fancy for someone from the Narrows—come to think of it, so was the woman's clothes. In the passenger seat, he sneered at the sight.

"Run her down, Harl! Show 'em what this car o' yours can do!"

Her angel was not usually in the habit of picking fights on the street—this was somewhat of a new development, but nonetheless she turned the steering wheel. He must have been feeling happier than she'd thought, she realized. It warmed her that giving her this car had made him so elated.

The woman saw them coming. Grabbing the baby out of the basket, she rushed forward, almost made it to the door of a gas station before the bumper found her. Blood spurted across the car windows; they almost slid into the station's door as the brakes skidded with the extra lubrication.

It was the peals of laughter that brought the station's owner out to have a look.

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A shrill whistle.

"HeyyyyyyyYYY, country lady!"

That was the first thing that Mr. J had ever said to her. Like Mr. Wayne, he had recognized her origins immediately—how, she didn't know. But being acknowledged by a stranger brought her to a halt, the clacking of her high heels fading from Arkham's walls.

"Harleen Quinzel. Quincy-gal. Ever thinkin' about, uh, seein' me?"

"I'm only an intern," she had said defensively, crossing her arms. In his cell, he leered at her through the bars.


"So I'm not allowed to speak to the higher-levels like you," she explained. Her fingers found their way to her skirt, smoothing it down further, and she had wished she'd thought things through when picking out clothing that morning.

"And yet… here you are. Speaking to me."

"I meant in a session."

"And I meant not in a session."

"What?" She frowned. That didn't make sense.

His leer grew more definitive. "Got a… boyfriend?"

Later she was ashamed to admit it, but her initial thought was: Eww, gross. He was a good decade and a half older than her—and at that time, he hadn't yet shown her how to realize and overcome her own prejudices. Looking back on that first encounter, she saw a dozen replies she could have given, some manner where she could have expressed love and acceptance. As it was, shocked by his openness, she'd quickly turned and headed on down the hall.

"You should think about getting one, then!" he shouted at her retreating form. "I'm free on Saturday!"

At the time she'd thought that statement was only more flirting. But when he really had escaped that Saturday, she'd realized how wrong she had been. For whatever reason, somehow he'd decided to open up to her, to tell her his plans, if only for that brief moment. Reading the headlines, scouring the internet and cable for news, she'd decided that she was not going to let opportunity slip by her again: perhaps she could help him. He was the answer to her dream of being the best, of being the one to save another life.

Two months later he was back in his cell, beaten and bruised, his greasepaint smeared. She was among the throng that had rushed to see him, pressed around his prison like observers for a new zoo exhibit. Only she seemed to notice the way he kept tracing his bare hands across his face, feeling the edges of his smudged mask. He had to know that they were preparing the hoses for him…

"You don't want them to take it off, do you?" she'd asked, coming as close to the bars as she dared. With all the noise around him, she was surprised that he overheard her—then again, she was the only person who had specifically spoken to him, and he must have realized that. His brown eyes, somewhat wistful, found her face. They hardened—a spark lit within them.

"Glad to see… someone understands," he said, his voice hollow despite the liveliness in his gaze. She nodded.

"I'll try to see you." Then, realizing how that could have sounded, she blushed. "In a session, I mean."

A soft smile curved his lips. "You do that, dahling. You do that."

That was when she had conceived of her plan. She remembered what one of her professors had told her: there are no bad people, just bad actions. Someone just needed to understand the Joker. To show him how to love. To save him. And she wanted to be the one to do it.

There had to be something human under that paint.

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"Angelica!" the gas station manager screamed. "My niece!"

"Hiya, bub," Mr. J's voice cawed, cartoony and menacing all at once. He leaped from the car, six-plus feet of purple terror. From the driver's seat she admired the fluid way he moved, so like a tiger, a lion stalking prey. The fresh greasepaint made him look fierce, the urban equivalent of a jungle cannibal. War paint. And when the station manager saw him, his face went as white as the clown's.

"Your name wouldn't be… uh…" he paused theatrically, a slim finger tapping his lower lip. "James Benson, no?"

The man's nametag flashed up at him.

" 'Cause I've a bone to pick… well," a chuckle escaped the red mouth. "Actually, I've two nieces to pick… with you."

"Two?" the manager whispered. He glanced down at the car, blue paint visible through the spattered red. His eyes sought out the driver; from her seat she waved at him, knowing she wasn't who he expected—or wanted—to be there. "…Marsha?"

"Yeaaah." The clown shook his head, green hair flying everywhere. "Shame, that."

As the man turned to run, a knife found its way through his shoulder-blades. He fell with a shriek, the cry distorted by the Joker's feral howl, "Teach you to go around sellin' secrets!"

She threw herself out of the car, the goons bursting out after her. The two of them headed straight for the station's gas pumps, flicking their lighters and sneering at the wounded man struggling desperately toward the building's door. She reached her purple idol just as he planted his foot square in the manager's back.

"Now what's this about, Puddin'?" she demanded. "You said we were going for a drive!"

"We are. We did." He shrugged. "So we had a bit of an… errand."

The manager groaned.

"Oh." She pouted. "Could'a warned me, you know."

"It's part o' the surprise," answered the clown. "You know I'd, uh, do anything for you, my dahling."

"Yeah," she sighed, turning to watch the goons arranging the gas hoses. It was a bit disappointing, how he'd managed to turn their afternoon together into a business trip...

Still, even with the blood all over, it was a nice car. She was sure that her Puddin' would get somebody to fix the body-sized dent in the bumper. And maybe they'd go out this evening—he'd mentioned something about a restaurant in the drive earlier. Behind her, he knelt to seesaw the knife out, sniggering at the pained gasps this elicited.

With these distractions she almost didn't see the newcomer until it was too late—from the corner of her eye, a face flashed behind the station's dark windows. She flung herself at her erstwhile patient, screaming, "Mr. J! Look out!"

If she hadn't been already shoving him to the ground, the bullet would have caught him in the face. Instead it whirled over them—struck one of the goons, who must have still been playing with his lighter. There was an explosion.

Fiery heat seared at her back, and she rolled over to extinguish it. Freed from her weight, the clown lunged at the newcomer's ankles, clipped the Achilles tendon with his bloody knife. No more gracefulness in his movements—just a raw brutality, cold ignorance of the humanity behind the stranger's screaming, disregard of the two goons burning to death behind. Snorts and giggles issued from his torn mouth, parody of a smile never more apparent.

But she had eyes only for the fire: one of the station's gasoline meters was aflame, the blaze flaring steadily toward the other three columns. Disregarding the pain in her back, she crawled over to him, shouting,

"Mr. J! We gotta go! Mr. J, the gas!"

"Shut up, Harley!" he yelled back, trying to wrest his arm from her grasp. She had never held on to anything with more strength, however, and finally he seemed to concede defeat.

Staggering as though drunk, he pulled them both up, giggling madly as he shoved her into the car's passenger seat. Shock had overcome her—otherwise, she would have suggested that they abandon the vehicle and run for it. He hummed merrily as he slid behind the wheel, turning the key with no more urgency than she had a few hours ago. They pulled away as the second column erupted.

When they saw the fire truck barreling down the street, she had to beg him not to play "chicken" with it. Even then he still swerved threatingly as they passed.

They had to ditch the car three blocks down. Somehow in the excitement they'd forgotten to fill it with gas. Despite this he still skipped down the street, pulling her along by the arm. She walked in silence, the foil to his capricious prancing.

"That was fun, wasn't it!" he shouted to the empty streets. "Let's do it again to-morrow, Harl!"

Her response welled up from inside her. "No! Never again!"

That stopped him in his tracks.

"Never?" Such confusion—she had never seen it on his face before, not like this.

"You could have died!" her voice was nearly a scream.

"I know!" he responded, grinning. He gripped her arm tighter, shook her giddily. As if this was merely one of the card games they'd played while in the asylum, the loser of each round having to tell one deep, dark secret to the other. "Let's go do it again!"

"But you could get hurt," she said, quietly, a certain amount of disbelief evident. She sounded so lost that he noticed the words, even through his exhilaration.

"So?" He cocked his painted head. "Since when do you, uh, play it safe, Harl? This isn't the first time you've blown something up with me, y'know."

"Yes, but…" she knew it would sound pathetic, but she said it anyway. "You've never been that close to being hurt before."

"And?" he asked, this time clearly irritated. Impatient.

"And…" she grasped for words. "And… how can I save you, if you die on me?"

"Excuse me?" his eyebrows almost reached his hairline.

That was when she explained everything. How she couldn't help Slinky, and how she'd decided that saving people was a worthy cause, too. How she'd seen him in his cell that day, wanted to understand him. There are no bad people, just hurt people. She wanted to heal his pain. Wanted to save him. He'd taught her so many things, she wanted to learn more. He said he'd do anything for her—and she'd do anything for him. She loved him. Unconditionally. Nothing could stop her love.

He stared at her.

Yes, she thought. People have moments, times of clarity like lightning bolts. This was the moment now. This was when he would realize that it was possible to care for other people without being hurt. When he realized he could take off the mask of paint that hid him from the world. She'd done it—she'd followed her plan, kept it going, and now a year later she'd succeeded.

Yet as he continued to stare, a thought came unbidden to her. What if she was wrong? What if some people were impossible to save? What if her Slinky had been grateful for the shovel—if bad actions came because the people themselves were bad—

What if the paint didn't cover anything but more paint?

This thought did more than unnerve her—it stripped her bare, leaving her floundering, grasping mentally at anything within reach. In a world without a purpose, what use was one country woman lost in the city? No, she told herself. No, even if it didn't work now, she had to keep trying. It would just be harder than she'd thought, that was all. She had a plan. To show the Joker love—she had a plan. She just had to keep it going…

Glancing up at him, she was surprised to see his eyes fixed intently on hers, gaze studying her so closely that she felt naked, shrank back. Still the mud-brown orbs continued to bore into her, stripping her down to her soul.

Then he chuckled. "Ah. How we delude ourselves, my dahling."

Wonderingly, she stared at him as he turned and strode away. Whatever could that mean? Nonetheless, she left her questions behind when he beckoned, and scurried after him.




There you go. My interpretation of Harley Quinn and her motivations in Nolanverse. First time I've really covered her in any in-depth manner.

I always sort of saw Harley as reminiscent of a lot of college- and high school-age girls: believing a bunch of feel-good platitudes, not being sure why they believe them, but believing them anyway. Not thinking things through. Joining causes because it feels good, not because the causes are logical or make sense. Disparaging ideas because they're told to, and because they've never been offered any alternative belief. And, of course, getting slapped to the curb before picking themselves up and going right back to what they were doing.

Please, people. When you believe something, constantly question yourself on it. If your belief can withstand questioning, it's in the right—if it can't, best you get rid of it anyway. And for goodness sake, there is NO such thing as "consensus." Anybody who uses the phrase "the argument is over" is lying to you, because if it was over then you wouldn't be having it (and hence they wouldn't need to say something like that). As the famous maxim goes, "If everyone is thinking alike, then nobody is thinking."

I'll be working on some of my old fanfics next. C'iao.