He lit a match and watched the flame dance and sway. Specks of smoke drifted through the air and disappeared into the gloomy darkness of the room. All was quiet.
Too quiet for him.
"Harley?" he called, wondering just what mischief she was up to. "Where've you gone to?"
But nobody answered and he grinded his teeth together in frustration as the light from the match flickered out, leaving him alone again in the darkness. The power had been out for a week now and the conditions of the hideout had dwindled more and more with each passing day. Food had become scarce and his clothes had become grimier from the lack of ironing and washing. The water in the joint had turned freezing and clouded with filth and he didn't dare try bathing in it. And to make things even worse, they were running low on weapons and the henchmen were beginning to leave little by little.
"And all because of some silly old storm," he grumbled out loud to himself.
Yes, he'd admit that it had been a rough one and sure it had left most of Gotham in shambles, but that wasn't a good enough excuse for the electricity to not be back up and for all his ungrateful Henches to just decide to split the scene. Had they forgotten who they were working for?
But that wasn't the worse part of it all, oh no. The worse part of this whole experience, ignoring the dropping resources and lackeys, was the fact that ole Batsy had yet to be seen skulking back around the city, searching for him. And that was the most painful blow of all, really. Batsy was practically omnipotent! How could just a silly little storm be enough to keep him shut up in that unknown bat cave of his? It just .fair.
Joker sighed and leaned wearily against the wall, pawing at a stray piece of cobweb that landed on his face. He looked down at the burnt-up match in his hand and noted with disgust that it was the last one he had left. What else was new?
His thoughts turned towards Harley-where was that silly girl now? She had been here about five hours ago and now it was if she had disappeared off into Never-Never land! He stood up and raised his voice in a loud, thunderous bellow:
"HARLEEEEYYY! Where the Hell are you?"
He paused and waited for a moment, sure that it would be enough to make her come running. Minutes passed and no one came. No frantic, clumsy feet tripping across the floor towards him, no high-pitched squealing voice, no flash of red and black as she'd leap into his arms, mewling and fawning all over him. No Harley.
Rage blinded his vision like a crimson mist, making him roar in anger. So the unfaithful little twit had abandoned him too had she? That was the last mistake she would ever make. She'd been lying to him this whole time, insisting that she didn't mind the lack of food, electricity, or water. Insisting that she was glad just to have him near her. She'd been lying to him this whole time and now she had probably run off into the arms of that plant-freak friend of hers. That selfish, un-supportive tramp. He would never forgive her for this. If she ever laid a foot on his doorstep again, he'd beat her so hard, she'd wish she were dead.
Cackling with murderous glee, he scribbled a picture of her on a stray piece of paper and sliced it up into shreds with a knife. Then, for good measure, he drew a picture of the plant-freak and shred that one up as well. He'd see to it that she would pay too. He loathed that slutty weed with a passion and she would pay for tempting his Harley away from him with her resources and her coddling, motherly coaxing that made him want to gag himself.
Growing tired of mutilating the Harley and Ivy doodles again and again, he growled low in his throat and looked mournfully out the window. Gotham looked like a real mess, especially after the big storm. Trash cans were thrown about everywhere, cars were broken and abandoned, and light-poles had fallen down and lay in the streets. Where was Batman? Surely he could see that now was the perfect time for criminals to strike? So why wasn't he out and about? Perhaps he was busy trying to help Gordon and the Mayor get everything back under control. That said, he was ignoring his duty as the dork-night to handle criminals everywhere. Joker glared at the thought and snarled at his own reflection through the stained glass of the window.
The something caught his eye…something curvy and slender with two bouncing blonde pigtails. Harley. She was coming down the alley towards the backdoor. So she had come back then? Oh of course she had! Old Ivy probably hadn't entertained her enough anyway. So here she was coming back to poor old Daddy-Joker since Mommy-Ivy had bored her so. Well, he wasn't going to let her off just like that. He was going to wring her little neck until she gagged and foamed at the mouth in pain.
Dashing towards the door, he grabbed his knife and polished it quickly, wanting it to look as shiny as possible before it became stained red with her blood. The doorknob began to turn slowly and he suppressed the urge to giggle in eager bloodlust. In just mere seconds, he'd make her wish she had never left him here in the dark. Just a few more seconds and…
The door opened and he swung the knife at her in a powerful thrust. She shrieked and managed to dodge it as it plunged into the wall. He frowned in mild confusion.
She was carrying a large cardboard box with a closed lid and when she had moved, many unknown items could be heard shifting inside. What was the box from? From the looks of her, it didn't appear that she had been with Ivy. If she had been with the Green-piece, her clothes wouldn't be so dirty and torn-looking. She wouldn't still have all those bruises he'd given her a few days ago nor would she have that small smudge of white greasepaint on her cheek. Whenever Harley came back from Ivy's place, she always looked so fresh and new, which would bring him much delight later on as he would try to dirty her up again. Instead, Harley looked like she had been out and about around the city. He blinked and came out of his puzzled daze when he realized that she was speaking to him.
"Wh-what's wrong, Mistah J?" Her silly blue eyes were filled with bewilderment as she cowered behind the box in her arms. "Wh-what m-made ya do th-that fo-for?" Her shoulders were trembling and she bowed her head in submission; her mind frantically trying to piece together why he had attacked her.
"Where have you been," he asked in a hushed mutter. "Why do you run off?"
She gazed up at him with round, puppy-dog eyes. "I was just out, Puddin'. I went ta get somethin' and it kind of took longer than I expected…"
"You mean you didn't…leave like all the other Henches?"
Her eyes widened and she dropped the box to the floor in a burst of passion and she wrapped her arms around his side.
"No! Never! Not me! I would never leave you all alone, Mistah J! I love you with all my heart and soul and I couldn't bear tha thought of leaving you here all by yourself, with no one ta help you. Especially not now when supplies are running out and there's no power!"
As she buried her face in the crumpled fabric of his shirt, he grinned in relief. He was glad that she hadn't abandoned him after all. Still, perhaps he would mess with her a little.
"But you did leave me, pooh. You left me here by myself for a few hours, didn't you?"
She squealed and choked on her own sobs, silently cursing herself. He slowly lifted her head and stared into her tear-brimmed eyes, holding her under his spell.
"You did leave me, didn't you, Harl?"
"Yes, Boss," she whispered softly, mesmerized by his gaze. He chuckled.
"You won't do that again, will you, baby?"
"Good," he said, patting her head. "Good girl."
He was in a good mood again and was glad to see that Harley's loyalty had not waned. Turning his attention back to the cardboard box that now rested on the floor, he inquired her as to what was in it. Happy to see him in good humor again, she smiled and swayed back and forth on her feet like a giddy child.
"It's a surprise, Puddin'."
"Well, I hope that you won't keep me in suspense for very long, Harley-girl."
"Just a little something to brighten up tha place. You've been lookin' so gloomy an' sad lately, so I went out and looked all over tha city 'til I could find this."
"Well, what is it?"
She giggled and kissed his cheek. "Close your eyes and let me guide you. You'll see."
He relented and she took his hand and dragged him out the door, leading him up a flight of stairs until he could feel wind blowing against his face. They were on the roof.
"Why on the roof, Harl? You going to push me off or something?"
"No," she giggled. "I'm about ta show you. But keep your eyes closed 'til I say."
Keeping his eyelids shut, he heard the faint noise of a match being struck and his brain swam with confusion-hadn't he used up all the matches they had left?
"Open 'em up, Mistah J."
When he opened his eyes, he saw Harley standing in front of him with a lighted match in one hand and a familiar, rocket-shaped object in the other.
"Fireworks. You got fireworks."
"That's right! Looked all 'round tha city. The whole box is filled with 'em! A little way of getting Batsy's attention. Plus, I just thought that we needed some. It's been dark for days inside and I know how much ya love fireworks."
He ran to her and swept her off her feet, swinging her around and around as they laughed together. Her lips met his and for once, he didn't resist them. She moaned and nuzzled her head against his cheek and he chuckled and crooned gentle words into her ear. She began to whine insistently and he began stroking her breasts, undoing the buckle of his belt as he entered her, not caring that they were on the roof for all to see, not that there was anyone around anyway.
After a few minutes, he leaned out of her and stood up. He had given her a reward and now he wanted to see his fireworks in action. She panted and sat up, happy and eager to please him.
He grinned and picked up a fresh match as she got to her feet.
"You weren't about to leave me, were you, Harley," he said as she started to pick up the first firework from the pile.
"Even after all the Henches left? They probably could have found someplace with electricity after all."
"They're fools, the lot of them. We'll track them down later and make 'em pay. But I'd never abandon you, my angel. Storm, earthquake, fire, or apocalypse, I'll always be right there beside ya."
Something warm and foreign shifted in his chest and he grunted and tried to push it back down. The feeling was painfully enjoyable but he wanted it to go away. It lingered for a while until finally it faded away and he felt like his old self again. He lit the match and, like he had done before, watched as the flame danced before his eyes.
"Shall I do the honors, Harley?"
"By all means, Mistah J."
He lit the firework and it zoomed up in the air, filling the darkened sky with a storm of color: reds, blues, purples, and greens. All of Gotham would look up from their mundane, dull little lives and see the splendor he and Harley had presented them with. Even Batman would see.
"Ooh," Harley murmured. "Fireworks make me feel all tingly inside."
He chuckled and lit another.