"I like what I've heard about you. Especially the name. Harleen Quinzel. Rework it a bit, and you get..."


She threw away everything for me. She can never go back to her old life, not since she helped one of Gotham's most dangerous back onto the streets. Not since she ditched the glasses and instead covered her beautiful face with a layer or six of makeup - and somehow, her skin is still baby soft. Not since she traded the 'respectable psychologist' outfit for the tight vinyl I love her in.

"Like the clown character harlequin, I know."

I'd trapped her, with my bit about just wanting someone to understand. Manipulated her, like I've done with so many, with my spilling of stories that even I can't guarantee the truthfulness (or otherwise) of.

My little harlequin sleeps so peacefully, her red-and-black draped over a chair in the corner of the room, the blanket pulled up around her but not completely tucked in under, so that I can join her (if I please) when my cigarette is finished. Other nights, I sleep on the same bed, but not under the blanket; or even out on the couch. Once I was angry, and I forced her to wake up and leave our bed. My bed, I'd insisted. I'm not proud of that.

I wonder about her. Her body is bruised from the way I treat her - a mark from my hand, gripping her shoulder, is visible above the blanket. As if knowing I'm looking, she rolls onto her side and pulls it up to her neck. I know I'm doing her more harm than good. Sometimes, the part of me that actually, truly loves Harley thinks it would be better if she never saw me again. (A bigger part of me cares only about myself, and I want to keep her around. Even when I hate her. She's useful.) But then, always when I'm right on the brink of convincing myself it's better for everyone if she just goes, I come into our home and call, "Harl?" And she sticks her head out of whatever room she's in and squeals happily, bounding over and tossing her arms around me with a cheerful, "Hi, puddin'!"

"Knock, knock, puddin'. Say hello to your new, improved Harley Quinn."

Tonight, I want to be close. I put out my cigarette with about a quarter left, and move under the blanket with her, allowing myself to feel her smooth skin. Her face is still slightly red from the last time I hit her. I feel a pang of affection for her, glad she's not awake to see it.
"I'm sorry, Harl," I whisper, softly kissing her chest, between her breasts.

"That's alright, puddin'," I hear her murmur sleepily, and I jerk away from her to look at her, mildly surprised.


She's mumbling in her sleep.

What are you dreaming, my little minx, my harlequin?