A/N: It's been a while since I wrote something Batman related, and this one's a bit different in the fact that this one is comic-based as opposed to movie-based. Anyway, this is inspired by my friend Cat--who is slantedwonders, and you should definitely check out her works, as soon as they're posted--because she bought Mad Love yesterday, and I quickly stole it. And from it, this little fic, all about dearest Harley Quinn, was born. The pairings are Harley/Joker, implied Harley/Batman, and very slight implied Batman/Joker. This is my first time writing Harley, so I hope that I captured her well enough. There are mentions of psychological and physical abuse, but they're not bad. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I don't own Batman, nor do I own the comic Mad Love, for which there are minor spoilers in this.

Vicious

She hates it when people pretend to understand. They're all just liars, petty little pretenders who think they know something of the way her head works. To think, once upon a time she used to be one of them. You can't know insanity until you reach into yourself and pull up that dark little swirl and let it carry you away.

But she loves it when people sit down across from her and stare at her and say "I just don't understand it, Harley, I really don't." At least those people admit their failures at attempting to understand her. She smiles at them when they say it and she tilts her head back and she laughs, just the way Mr. J always does. He's taught her well.

And truthfully, she's not sure that she understands any better than anyone else. How can you love someone and hate them at the same time? How can you have those dual feelings for one person, much less two?

Here are the things that she knows. She's perfectly aware that the Joker is a madman. But he's brilliant in that insanity, so twisted that he can't even pretend to be normal. Not that he would want to. He knows what he is and he embraces it. He's more than a simple thief or murderer or terrorist; he strives to be something beyond reckoning, beyond defining. And he succeeds.

She realizes that he doesn't love her the way she loves him. She has total devotion; she loves every inch of him, every flaw, every scar, every last inch of insanity. And she knows that he doesn't have the same feelings for her, no matter what fantasies she would like to believe. She holds to the feeling that he could, possibly, one day love her like that, and she knows it's a lie. Mister J loves no one but himself. He feels lust, he feels possessiveness, and he perhaps feels fondness, but love? She's not sure there's room in him for love, not the way she wants.

To him she is inferior. She's a henchman and a loyal one at that. She's a possession, for him to paw over, for him to ignore when he gets bored, for him to exalt when she catches his interest. She's a nuisance when she gets in his way. She's something that can be cast aside when she angers him. She knows that perfectly well. The scars on her back and on her arms from the glass when he threw her through the window remind her of that every day. He's terrible to her. He pushes her and hits her and ignores her; he verbally abuses her, he tosses her to the police in order to save himself, he burns her and bruises her and he laughs while he does it. He enjoys her pain.

These things make her hate him. God, sometimes she hates him.

But despite all of them, she loves him, truly, deeply, forever. She endures these things for him and always, always returns. Maybe some twisted part of her enjoys it. Who knows?

Batman is a different story. Any seed of hatred she bears for Mister J pales in comparison to the raging hatred she bears for Batman. He's the reason for her treatment at the Joker's hand. Because every single time Mister J has ever raised his hand to her has been because of Batman, because Mister J was obsessing or plotting or actually in the moment. The stupid costume-wearing hero is responsible for taking her love's attention away from her. Without him, she's sure that everything would be different.

And she knows, perfectly well, that he will never be gone. The one time that she tried to get rid of him Mister J threw her through a window, abandoning her without a second glance. He was so angry then, because she dared interfere with his Batman. Even though her intentions were for him she could never be forgiven for attempting to harm something belonging to the Joker. Make no mistake about it, for as much as she belongs to him, so does the Bat.

She hates him for it.

At the same time though, she can understand the draw. She can understand what pulls her Mister J away, because she feels the same thing. She is a creation of the Joker, subject to his whims, a puppet in his grotesque show; Batman is something entirely different from them. He's strong, in body and mind. He's one of the few people in the world capable of withstanding Mister J's manipulations. There are times when she envies that, wishes that she could have been that strong. Batman is duality, so dark and so light at the same time. He could so easily be one of them, and instead he holds himself higher, refusing to sink in the quicksand of chaos.

And he's kind. He has no reason in the world to want to help her, but he does. She knows that he does. He proves it to her, when he buys her the dress, when he tries to help her get on the straight and narrow. He understands some of what goes through her mind—probably more than any other person in the entire world—and he wants to save her. He wants to save everyone.

He can't, of course. He can't save her.

But the fact that he wants to makes her love him, just a little. Not enough, not when she loves Mister J so much that it hurts to breathe without him around. Not when she hates him for stealing what she so desires.

She can't forgive him for that. Never.

But she understands. Oh, she understands.

Love is a vicious, vicious thing. Particularly when it involves a psychotic killer and a caped crusader determined to destroy him. She's just the poor little girl caught in the middle of it. And, strangely enough, she wouldn't have it any other way.

Heh, no wonder that no one can understand the workings of her mind.


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