Author's Note: Written for the livejournal batfic_contest prompt "Fight or Flight" in less than 500 words; first posted there on 18 January 2010.
Joker squinted closely at his target, tongue protruding in concentration, then thrust the needle in with a quick, neat jab.
He clucked mockingly and swatted away Harley's flailing arm. "Don't be a baby – it only hurts because you think it will."
"I shouldn't be able to feel you doin' anything!" Harley protested from her position in front of him, perched on the edge of the fleapit motel bed. She shifted uncomfortably. "I felt it an' it did hurt!"
"Shush." Joker used the unfamiliar forceps he'd found in the medical kit to pull the suturing needle out through the top layer of skin, a task made more difficult by the owner of said skin wriggling like a worm on a hook. He sighed and used his free hand to get a firm grip on one pigtail, stilling her instantly. "Quit squirming. I already gave in to your pathetic whimpering and used local anaesthetic, didn't I?"
"You're supposed to wait for it to kick in before gettin' started though!" From this angle he couldn't see her face, but he heard the beginnings of tearful snuffling in her voice.
Ignoring her whining, he released her pigtail and tied off the first stitch before moving on to the next. He noted she still flinched and tensed, but the wriggling was reduced. Better. So he decided to play nice.
Joker gave a low chuckle as he lent closer to her neck. "Some doctor you are – can't even stitch yourself back together!"
Again he heard, rather than saw, her pout. "Puddin', the cut's on the back of my head."
"So?" he asked lightly. "Didn't you pay attention in stitching-the-back-of-your-own-head-together-class at medical school?"
That would have got a reluctant grin.
"And those are some survival instincts you've got, Harls, stopping a batarang with your head. Though I suppose it is the part of you that's least useful…"
"Hey!" she protested, "I was tryin' to help!"
He raised his free hand to pat at her hair. "Of course you were pumpkin – and I'm sure your thick skull made a nasty dent in mean ol' Batsy's razor-sharp toy."
Despite herself she gave a soft giggle, flinching only slightly as the needle pierced her scalp once more.
Joker adopted a conversational tone. "Do y'know Harley, I recall once stitching an unfortunate hench's arm back on after just a few swigs of bourbon."
"Really, Puddin'?" Haley asked, impressed and suddenly intrigued. "Did it work well as an anaesthetic?"
"Sure – I didn't feel a thing. The hench had been dead a good few hours when I started but his corpse didn't seem that bothered by it either."
Harley couldn't prevent the musical laugh that escaped her lips again, barely noticing as Joker tied off the last of his methodical stitches.
Later as she craned her neck at the bathroom mirror to examine his handiwork, Harley declared that her professors would have given it an A+, but that they just probably wouldn't get his bedside manner quite like she did.
Author's Note: Basically I just wanted an excuse to write some bordering on hurt/comfort JxHQ fluff. Except in this case Joker's idea of comfort is largely mocking distraction. Hey-ho, it still works for me!