Harleen Quinzel has been in a private holding cell at Arkham for four days. He calls her "Harleen" or sometimes "Doctor Quinzel", and every time she corrects him.
"You can call me Harley," she says, giving him a saucy wink.
He never calls her Harley.
Out of her makeup, out of her costume, she is not Harley Quinn. Harleen Quinzel is a knockout blonde who used to be a world-class psychiatrist, and he needs this reminder in order to keep himself from getting information out of her with force.
"The Joker's not coming for you," he tells her on the fourth day, late, late at night, well after the usual staff has gone home.
She smiles at him. Without the makeup and the costume, it's the kind of smile that has ruined lesser men. "You don't know my Mister J," she says with complete certainty.
The fluorescent light from the hallway casts harsh contrasts over her, washing her out until she's just a pale little thing in a sterile cell, and he almost feels bad for her. Almost. "He's abandoned you before, Harleen. Who's to say he won't do it again?"
She tilts her head at him, long blonde hair falling to shadow her face. A slow, slow smile curls the corners of her mouth. He dislikes the expression intensely. "You don't know him at all, do you?"
And just like that, the psychiatrist is back, and he's being diagnosed. He knew it would happen - he shouldn't have underestimated her. "I know more than you think," he says cautiously, and that much is true - he and the Joker have been enemies since long before Harleen Quinzel ever put on a mask.
"I thought maybe you would," she continued, as though he hadn't spoken. "You know, you've known him longer than anyone."
"When was the last time you saw him?" His voice has taken on the hard, flat tone of an interrogation in spite of himself. She's a criminal, he reminds himself. If she has information, I need to know it.
She sighs, and the sharp, evaluative look in her eyes disappears. "The last time I saw Mister J?" she asks absently. "He took me to dinner in an abandoned subway car." She sighs again, the deep, longing sigh of the lovelorn. "And then we drove around and smashed mailboxes." A besotted smile drifts across her face as she relives the memory for a moment.
He barely represses a snort - mailboxes? - before he restates, "When was this, Harleen?"
"Harley," she says automatically. Then, "The subway car was so nice."
His patience is running out, as well as his time. There are a thousand other things to do in Gotham tonight than listen to Harley Quinn rhapsodize about the Joker. "When, Harleen?"
"He filled the car with candles," she says dreamily. "And gave me my very own baseball bat."
He closes his eyes for a moment in defeat before he turns sharply on his heel and moves away from her, down the narrow corridor to the foyer.
"He is coming for me, you know." His hand is on the door handle when her quiet voice floats down the hall. "He is. He wouldn't leave me here."
He only pauses for a moment. "Of course not." And then he melts away into the night.
The next morning, Harleen Quinzel is gone. In her cell is a note that says,
Told you so.