The Further Adventures of The Joker and Harley Quinn:
The Joker slid, head first, in to the cold brick of a defunct apartment building, one of many which hung like an open wound along the numerous, derelict ridden streets of Gotham city. A flash of white exploded in his eyes as soon as his skull made contact with the hardened material, and he laughed as though on queue, pushing himself to his hands and knees. He knew it was only a matter of moments before his body would again be lifted, as though weightless, off the ground and flung in some opposite direction, and he waited for it with wanting expectancy. He'd really made him mad this time and was blissful in the awareness of having done so. An instant later and again he was violently off the ground, his body being heaved and thrashed with abandon, thrown with force in to another wall, and another explosion of white in his eyes and high pitched noise filled his ears, followed then by the salty, metallic taste of blood in his mouth, and wet dripping from his nose. And again he laughed, unable to contain his own excitement, his own jubilation, and he turned then to watch as Batman advanced on him quickly, the look in his eyes of wanting to kill. The Joker knew it well. He lived for the moments when he would see the desire in the vigilante's eyes.
"Oh darling, you love it so, don't you?" He harassed the sinewy muscled, athletic man who came on him like a hurricane of rage, lifting him once more by the lapels of his tailored, well fitted suit jacket and slamming him hard in to the wall, pushing down against his chest with great force.
"Why Joker?!" Batman spit. "Why did you do it?!"
The madman's head rolled back and a laugh erupted from his throat before looking back to his attacker and smiling as though innocent.
"I told you sweetheart, I did it for you!" He airily reminded. "Think of it as a gift."
Batman ground his teeth, pressing harder still against The Joker.
"You destroyed her! Spread your madness like a disease to an innocent, young girl!"
The Joker's brow furrowed and he held a look of first confusion and then incredulity.
"Oh Batsy, you know that's not true. Not true at all." He held tight to the vigilante's hands as the pressure on his chest increased and his voice came out in a strained whisper. "Innocent she wasn't, not by any socially accepted definition of the word." He chuckled. "And she already was mad, I can attest to that. All you can say I am guilty of is having helped her to embrace that part of who she was."
The detective pulled away from the wall, still holding tight to his arch nemesis, slamming him hard against the cold concrete of the street. Again The Joker giggled, like a child being mercilessly tickled.
"She killed because of your corruption Joker! She's taken a life now! You've gone too far!"
The Joker rolled his eyes.
"Shock and awe is hardly your forte. I feel I've heard this some place before. Besides, it wasn't as though I badgered the girl in to it. I simply offered her positive encouragement."
Batman starred in utter disbelief at how lightly The Joker regarded what he had done, as though it were some game, some joke, and The Joker starred back, grinning, his white teeth smeared red with his own blood. But quickly the smiled disappeared and he looked at once contemplative.
"I wanted to show you Batman, why you so anguish. It was always there in her; the ability to kill. Just as I see it now is in you. But her resolve isn't of your standard; her conviction was never so true. She is happy; believe me when I tell you. She was before a prisoner of denial, the same as most every wretch inhabiting this god-forsaken world. The same as you now are. I set her free, taught her to relinquish all self-doubt and the hindrance of morality. She at last is at peace with what she is, no longer afraid. Don't you see? I can't understand your rage. Your pain, yes, I know it to be the cause, but there is no logic in your anger."
Batman's grasp tightened and his eyes blazed in fury.
"Logic?!" He growled. "You speak of logic!? You're insane!"
The Joker pouted, and he looked very suddenly wounded.
"But why do you say such things?" He questioned, as though he were sincerely perplexed. "Because I choose to struggle not against what is? That only will lead you down the path of misery. To stumble through, upholding the burden of constant fear, battling in vain against the inevitable, indiscriminant, uncompromising hand of death, that is insanity Batman. You are so very discontent because you languish against an unstoppable tide, towards a non-existent shore, only to be pulled back again. You never can win. There is no justice, and there so is no injustice. You cannot make sense of that which is senseless, you cannot apply meaning when no meaning resides. You do not comprehend this. Laugh at life, or life will laugh at you."
"Shut up." Batman fumed. "Your reasoning is as sick and twisted as you are! … I don't believe you're as unafraid as you claim!"
The Joker smiled unabashedly.
"Prove to me otherwise then, dear." He mocked. "Lest I take from you another little bird. Or maybe a cat would better suffice my apatite this time?"
The vigilante saw red, the agony of Jason's death at the hands of The Joker shot fresh in to his memories, his disgust at the threat against Selena, and his mind was then lost as he lifted the madman and swung him around with the swift determination of vengeance, smashing his thin body against another wall. And The Joker laughed.
"Oh my…" He sputtered.
Batman said nothing, jamming his forearm and elbow against the maniac's throat, pushing hard in to it. The Joker would have laughed, if the pressure on his larynx would have permitted him to do so, and he starred in to the detective's blazing eyes, his own surreally calm, despite the decreasing amount of oxygen. He did not struggle, he did not protest; the only overtly expressive feature on his face his grin, which seemed to grow wider as the weight of Batman's arm leaned heavier against him.
"D-do it, g-guano breath." He managed to whisper. "I d-double-da-re yo-u."
Batman was consumed by hatred, suddenly blinded by anger and he pressed harder still against The Joker's throat, and the madman began as best he could to laugh, the sound coming out as a wheeze rather, but still the expression was obvious.
And just as the world had begun to fade, visions of black spots having begun to dance before his eyes, the pressure was suddenly released and he fell to the ground hard, seconds later followed by Batman falling just the same, unconscious.
The Joker starred blankly for a moment, his mind confused. He had been looking, unflinching, in to the vigilante's eyes, holding his gaze there, ignoring all else around them, urging him on to the act of killing with his own eyes. He had felt so close to his goal, had Batman so near to fulfilling what he wished for him, and suddenly, it had ended, he was free of Batman's grasp, able to breath again, and upon seeing the petite feet before him, clad in red, impish shoes, he suddenly was all too aware of what had transpired. He brought his gaze up and saw Harley standing there, a ridiculous frown playing on her face, in her hands a giant mallet.
"Puddin', are you alright?!" Her whining voice asked frantically. "You looked like you was about to pass out! He was tryin' to kill ya! I can't believe it!"
Anger flashed through The Joker's eyes, though his face remained composed and he stood gingerly from his spot, now starring down at the girl dressed as a clown.
"Harley, my dear…" He spoke quietly, walking past her. She turned to watch him move by, her face twisting in confusion as he negated to finish his sentence. She looked back to Batman, lying across the pavement, and then back again to The Joker, who was now standing with his back to her, perfectly still, one hand rested against his hip, the other grasping at his long chin.
She had, at that point, only been with him a little over six months, and to say she'd had a hard time adjusting to his particular lifestyle would have been the understatement of the century. Where, inside Arkham, his mood had been consistently sweet and attentive, on the outside, it was utterly unpredictable, changing as swiftly and as often as the wind itself. She wasn't at all sure of how he was going to react; she could never accurately determine it. At times, during the pulling of some criminal exploit, in which she may have bungled the plan in some horrendously disproportionate manner, and she had been certain of his inevitable fury, he had acted as though nothing at all had gone wrong, treating her as a precious doll, delicate and calm. And at other times, when she felt as though she had done right to please him, he had reacted violently and with distain, lambasting her with the most hurtful of insults. She shuddered to think back on her first experience with him as such. She had goofed up in the simplest of ways, having brought him the wrong pair of socks. He'd asked for the ones with a black and white checkered pattern, and she had brought him ones with a multi-colored checkered pattern instead. It had been enough for him to explode, and it was then that she first tasted his wrath, and she had been very much afraid for her life. He had knocked her back with a punch to the face so swift, she hadn't even seen him move to it. Immediately her nose erupted in blood and before her head had even ceased spinning, he was upon her, lifting her by the arms and slapping her across the face two or three times. Slapped her with such force that she'd suffered apparent bruising from that alone for a week following. He'd told her what a simpering fool she was, then mumbled something about the pay off making it worth his while before leaving her in on the floor, tears streaming down her flushed and bruising face. Almost as shocking had been his treatment of her that same evening, only a few, short hours later. He acted as though nothing had happened, speaking to her in the same calm, reassuring tone he generally used, smiling and kind.
"But Mistah J, I thought you were angry at me." She'd questioned, her voice trembling.
"Angry?" He'd asked, as though confused. "Should I be?"
It was like he hadn't even remembered what he did, and that had put Harley off even more then the abuse itself.
Now she didn't know what to do. From what she could see, she'd just saved her Puddin's life. Surely, he couldn't be angry at her about that.
"Come Harley." He finally spoke after what seemed an eternity, not bothering to turn and face her. "It's best we get back home now."
She felt even more at a loss. Since she'd been at his side, he'd talked about almost nothing but the Batman, ranting endlessly about ways to he could humiliate and even kill him, relating nearly any subject broached to the vigilante. And now he had his chance. Batman was unconscious, totally vulnerable. And he was just going to walk away from it?
"But Mistah J, what about the Bat-freak? Ain't ya even gonna take em' with us?"
He turned then, eyeing her with an eerie silence, his bright green eyes seeming florescent in the dark of the ally.
"Home Harley." Was all he said before turning. She knew better then to argue.
It was only when they'd made it back to their hideout, an abandoned amusement park on the outskirts of the city, that she was made aware of his extreme displeasure. The moment she'd entered the dilapidated clown house, trailing closely behind him, he's spun around with that vicious speed and struck her across the face. She stumbled backward, falling hard to the floor, her head whirling in nauseating circles. She looked up and he now was standing over her, starring at her with an expression of almost curiosity. It seemed always to be the look about his face when observing someone in physical distress.
"You dullard!" He spoke. "You have no idea, do you? No concept whatsoever of how you've interfered?!"
Her eyes were wide with shock, having already filled with tears, and her lower lip trembled uncontrollably.
"Please Puddin', w-whatever it is, I-I I didn't mean to upset you." Her voice shook as she spoke, leaning back on to her hands, a knee-jerk reaction to his suddenly threatening stance.
He starred at her only a moment longer before rolling his eyes and turning away. She watched him remove his richly colored but soiled velvet jacket and toss it to the floor in disgust. His wiry frame was more apparent now, the green dress shirt and orange, silk vest he wore underneath fitting to his build perfectly, highlighting the thin waste and long torso. His black leather shoes and previously bright white spats were covered in mud and he too removed those in obvious frustration. His purple trousers were as well immersed in blood and dirt, but those he didn't bother to take off.
Harley's mind inexplicably went back to the first time she'd seen The Joker in such dress. Well, not counting the time Batman had brought him back to Arkham, when she still held her position as an interning psychiatrist there; but on the outside, when she'd finally been at his side as she now was, as Harley Quinn, accompanying him on some grand adventure out on the city streets. She'd starred in awe when he'd emerged, fully done up in imported, Italian clothing. He'd been buttoning one cuff of a silken, canary yellow shirt, his hair done up in a pompadour do, highly stylized, with not a strand out of place, an unbuttoned, green silk waistcoat hanging from his shoulders, and pinstriped, royal purple pants completing the picture. When at last he'd adorned the outfit with highly polished, fine leather loafers and still finer leather, purple gloves, he looked literally as though he had stepped from the pages of GQ magazine.
He was absolutely gorgeous, she thought, and it had taken considerable effort on her part to not fling herself on him right then and there.
And, of course, she'd nearly creamed when, having for the first time slipped in to her harlequin outfit, face paint and all, he'd done a long, loud wolf whistle in acknowledgement. If the grease make up hadn't been applied, he would have seen her turn all shades of red in embarrassment.
Now he simply looked exhausted, his hair a tangled mess, disheveled as it always had been back at Arkahm, and he fell against an old, torn up coach they'd found left out by a dumpster of one of Gotham's more run down neighborhoods. Harley was soon to learn of The Joker's apparent distaste for the higher class parts of town. Not to say he would never go there. He would, quite often. But in his down time, when he wasn't prowling the streets like the predator he was, he seemed very much to prefer the grime laden, desolate areas of the sprawling city landscape. He was a loner; it was obvious, very much used to being by himself, always. Harley's presence seemed a bit of a disruption to him, and he very often would nearly walk straight in to her. And he would have too, had she not been quick to leap from his path. Even that he wouldn't take notice of, not usually. When he did, he would stare at her, curiously, sometimes for long, uneasy moments. And sometimes, he looked as though he was starring right through her, and her discomfort would grow.
Another thing she'd had to adjust to was his silence. She figured, at first, that maybe it had been a product of his not being accustomed to another presence. But as the months wore on, and his muteness did not lessen, she began to realize that The Joker's monologue was almost entirely internal. He would speak at length only when prompted to do so, when he felt the need to make some point or if he was engaged in the act of intimidation or manipulation. It had shocked her because, in her sessions with him at the asylum, exempting those first three, pain stacking appointments, it seemed so long ago now, he had spoken to her endlessly, a masterful conversationalist, able to keep even the most mundane of subjects eternally fascinating. And he had been, at most times, boisterous, flamboyant and theatrical, animated and energetic. Living with him was so wholly different. From his silence, he would erupt in to laughter, and she'd asked the first few times what he was thinking. Those times he would look to her as though he'd suddenly been snapped from some dream, and then he would look away, not bothering to answer, and go about his way.
Other times, she would wake in the middle of the night to find him sitting some place in the room, sometimes gazing out the window, other times just starring ahead, at nothing it seemed. Still, his eyes never were vacant, always thoughtful, as though entrenched in some deep memory. Harley had made the mistake of once sitting up and interrupting him with her squeaky, high pitched voice.
"What's the matter Puddin'? Can't sleep?"
The question had been innocent enough, but his head had snapped towards her, his face contorting suddenly to a mask of hatred. It was only a moment more before he was on his feet, coming at her, and she'd shrunk back against the bed, screaming and pleading that he stop as he brought his fists down upon her. She hadn't repeated the blunder since, and she often wondered, after each such occurrence, what she had gotten herself in to. But then, he would do something unexpected and sweet, and she would remember that his hurting her was simply his way of emoting, of exercising he demons, and that she was the rock to which he could cling in those moments of obvious despair. And she would soon grow warm and fuzzy at the thought, forgetting about her own pain.
He didn't sleep. At least, that's how it seemed to her. She'd caught him dozing only a handful of times, and at those times, his eyes would abruptly open, at what appeared regular intervals. If ever he slept deeply, for any extended period, she hadn't yet seen it.
She now watched him leaning back against the tattered couch, his feet propped up on a similarly shabby ottoman and he sighed loudly. She didn't dare speak.
"You disappoint me Harley." He spoke. "You are a bad student."
She flailed about then, jumping to her feet and coming towards him frantically.
"I'm so sorry Mistah J, please forgive me!" She practically begged. "I wanna be a good student. I do!"
She came too near and The Joker reacted by kicking out hard, his foot sinking in to her stomach. She fell to the ground almost instantly, sucking in sharply at the loss of breath. He seemed not even to notice as she writhed about on the floor, in obvious pain, and continued speaking as smoothly as he had begun.
"I had him Harley. Do you not comprehend? I had him. He was so close to doing it! So very close!"
She bit her lip, her eyes filled with tears which streamed steadily down her cheeks.
"To d-doin' what Puddin'?" She dared to ask, her voice a strained whisper, still struggling for air.
He breathed out heavily through his nose.
"To killing me, you dunderhead!"
She was utterly confused.
"Ya mean, you… y-you wanted him to kill you?!"
"Yes!" He answered pointedly, as though it should be obvious, starring at her with impatience.
She looked back, totally at a loss.
"I don't… I don't understand." She stammered.
He threw his hands up before letting them fall heavily.
"Of course you don't." He spat. "Your pea sized brain is still too attached to this ridiculous notion of survival being the quintessence of priorities."
Tears continued to stream from her eyes.
"But Puddin', why… why would ya wanna die? Aren't ya happy?"
His fists clenched tight and his teeth ground. His patience with her had worn thin long ago.
"I knew you would never understand." He began angrily, though is voice remained steady and low. "I never expected you would. But I thought at least I had been able to teach you never to question me, never to query my actions. Even if you cannot process the obviously infallible logic behind my philosophies, you still should be capable of appreciating them for what they are! Whether you understand or not, you still should know them to be the truth! Why is not important! Such thoughts should never inhabit your brain!"
Harley's lip trembled and she tried desperately to steady herself, feeling guilt ridden already for having been such a disappointment to him.
"I'm sorry." She apologized in a small voice.
He waved a hand dismissively.
"Know this Harley." He began once more, his voice menacingly quiet. "If you ever interfere between Batman and me again, if you ever encroach upon us in such a manner… I will kill you."
And with that he stood from the couch and strode past her with total disregard, making for the bathroom.
She watched in dismay as he disappeared behind the door and she heard the water begin to run.