The walls were filthy with layers of dirt and grim that no one had even attempted to clean in years. The window was covered in mildew and mold so thick it was hard to see outside of the dirty glass. The floors were the worst; the old carpets had become a breeding ground for filth.
iIn more ways than one/i the psychiatrist thought as she could hear two of the inmates 'enjoying' themselves in the corner of the disgusting room, only adding to the filth. The young woman sniffled a few times, terrified out of her mind. She wondered what fate would await her in this grimy room full of insane prisoners.
"Hur hur... you're a purdy one..."
The psychiatrist tensed up at the sound, and slowly lifted her head. A few strands of her blond hair covered her face, but she could make out the lumbering shape of one of the escaped asylum patients, peering down at her with a goofy grin on his face.
"Hur hur..." The large man had severe mental problems. He had been at an ordinary hospital, when he had been angered, and ended up killing two of his doctors. That had been enough to send him here – to the city's most infamous mental hospital. The old asylum that sat on its own island, out in Gotham's bay.
The giant prisoner, still chuckling in his strange way, started to reach out for the young psychiatrist. She tensed up, and tried to scream, but the gag on her mouth muffled the sound and the ropes on her wrists and ankles kept her from running.
Then, a loud pop filled the room and she could smell burning black powder. She felt a splatter of something warm and sticky on her face, and then the giant patient fell over dead on the floor a few feet from her. She realized the liquid on her face was the man's blood and she tried to scream again.
"Now, now! No need for tears. I'm not going to let any of these small timers kill you, doc."
She recognized that voice instantly. It belonged to the prisoner who had orchestrated the escape. He was the one who had broken out of his cell, freed several other prisoners and taken refuge in the old, closed down tower on the edge of Arkham Island.
His voice was well known to the psychiatrist. She had been treating him. He fascinated her. He was the entire reason that she got into psychiatric medicine, to study the most famous killer in Gotham's history. To analyze his insane mind, and perhaps do what no one else had ever done – cure The Joker.
She was young and naïve and ambitious, and it was now costing her.
"So, doc. Where were we?" The Joker motioned for two of the other patients to pick her up off the floor. They cut the ropes from her ankles and hands, and untied the gag – but they also shoved her down onto an old chair, next to the moldy couch in the corner.
The Joker grinned and jumped, landing on the couch. As he landed, it sent mold spores through the air and a dust cloud. The psychiatrist sneezed several times, but The Joker did not seem to notice. He just laid on the couch, grinning at her with that insane smile that was the final thing so many people saw.
"I think, in our last session, we were discussing my dear old mom's suicide." The Joker quipped in a singsong voice.
The psychiatrist adjusted her oversized glasses and tried to be tough. She was in a room full of crazy men, speaking to the most notorious killer in the world – but she had her pride. "Actually, I believe you told me your mother was murdered by your father."
"Oh, is that what I said?" Joker shrugged. "Eh. I don't really care. For all I know, they're both still alive and living in a cave to escape the stigma of having brought me into the world... hahahahaha..."
The Joker suddenly sat up, brushing some mold out of his odd green hair. His grin was as wide as ever as he leaned forward, staring the psychiatrist in her eyes. "Tell me, Doctor Quinn... do you have a prescription pad?"
Harley was a bit taken aback by the question. "Of course I do."
The Joker looked as if he could hardly contain himself. "So you're a... medicine woman? AHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
Harley frowned and crossed her arms. "I'm disappointed. You'd think someone famous for a sense of humor could come up with a better joke, or at least one I didn't hear every day in med school."
A strange and rare thing happened. The Joker's grin vanished from his face, replaced with a scowl. He raised his arm and struck Harley, knocking her out of her chair and onto the ground.
"How's that for a punchline?" The Joker spat, not even bothering to chuckle at his latest joke. He glared down at the psychiatrist, his eyes seething with rage.
Harley felt herself bleeding from the nose, and she felt fear grip her. Still, she sat up, looking towards the Joker. "I see... you became violent quickly. Is that because I challenged your joke? The only person who usually challenges your jokes is Batman. Is that why you're so hostile?"
Harley immediately regretted her words. The Joker held a long, silver revolver in his hand, and he pressed the barrel against Harley's face. She saw his thumb on the hammer of the revolver. Harley felt her breath catch in her chest. Was he going to kill her? Would her dreams of fame be replaced with a fate of being another of this clown's many victims?
"... Ha... hahaha... AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" The Joker threw back his head, laughing aloud. "You know, doc, I like you."
Harley had not expected that reaction. She swallowed hard, trying to find her voice as she kept her eyes on the hammer of the revolver. "... Oh? Why?"
The Joker's grin returned. "You know all about me... you've read all about my victims... you know I'd kill you in a second... and you still dare try to analyze me right now? You must be completely insane... Ha... hahahah... hahahahahahahah! Welcome to the club, doc! We meet every Tuesday out behind Harry's bistro. HAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAH!"
Harley was shocked at what this murderous clown had said to her. How dare he say such a thing! Harley was being brave... not... crazy. She paused, an unsettled feeling in her stomach.
"Admit it, Quinn. That's why you study me... after all, you did say you got into medicine to study ME. You told me in our sessions... I fascinate you. I make you all weak in the knees... I stimulate your... brain. Ha... hahahaha..." Joker's face was now very close to her's – and the gun was now pressed firmly into her throat.
"You flatter yourself. Two-Face is a more interesting case study than you." Harley spat.
The Joker raised an eyebrow and drew away from her. "Oh, now I don't think that's true." He paused, throwing the gun up a bit. He caught it by the barrel and flashed a grin – and then he smashed Harley in the side of the face with the handle of the gun.
"Would Two-Face clobber a helpless woman with a gun?" The Joker asked. Then he seemed to purse his lips in pause. "Actually, Harvey would. He's just that kind of guy. Hahahaha..."
The Joker jumped down onto the dirty carpet to join Quinn, who was now on her side. The pain in her face was intense, but she still managed to glare at him. The Joker met her glare with an enormous smile.
"Deny it all you want doc, you're fascinate with me... and I know why. A little girl like you... always made fun of in school... never the one the boys paid attention too... never popular, never particularly bright... people have been walking all over you for your whole life. Deep down inside... you're jealous of me. I'm the biggest, meanest bully on the planet. You hate me, and yet... you wish you could be just like me."
Harley gulped. This guy was in her head... but what he said was crazy! That was not how she felt at all. "Y-You're wrong... and you're nuts..."
"Am I?" The Joker questioned aloud. He jumped back to his feet and stood towering over her, looking down with a demented smirk as he brought the revolver back up. He aimed it directly at her chest, the sights square on her heart. "Well... if I'm wrong, then I've got no use for you doc. Nice knowing you, Quinn!"
She saw him pull the hammer back, and she saw his finger move to the trigger. In that moment, Harley Quinn knew she was going to die. She would end up just the latest poor, innocent victim of the one-man genocide that was The Joker.
Then, the mold-crusted window shattered! Something small, sleek and black broke past the glass and embedded itself into the Joker's hand. The Joker screamed out in pain as blood trickled down the back of his hand, and he dropped the revolver next to Harley's head.
She gasped and looked up to see something Bat-shaped embedded in the Joker's hand. At that moment, she realized she would survive.
"Well, look who finally decided to show ugggh!" The Joker's sarcastic remarks were ended prematurely with a punch to the face, sending the clown tumbling back down to the floor. Harley looked over to see that he was unconscious, one of his teeth missing from his mouth and blood trickling down his nose, matching the injury he had given her.
For a few moments, she heard struggles as the remaining inmates tussled with a man dressed like a giant flying rodent. He was no lunatic patient, though. After a few minutes, the escaped psychopaths were on the floor in heaps, all at a loss for consciousness.
"... Are you alright?"
She saw a gloved hand extend to her, and Harley slowly, shakily accepted it. "I-I'm hurt, but I'll live... thank you Batman."
One month had passed by. Harley Quinn's injuries had healed, and she had taken some time off from work. When she returned to work, she saw other patients. She swore she would never again work as The Joker's doctor.
Another month passed, and Harley could not get his words out of her head. The things he said that day stayed with her.
A third month passed. Harley was now growing board of inmates like Poison Ivy and Two Face. She found herself thinking of the Joker more and more, and sometimes doodling pictures of the clown's face in her notes while Harvey Dent was going on about his fetish for the number two.
By the fourth month, Harley went to the warden and asked to be returned to the Joker case.
Five months after the incident, Harley helped the Joker escape from Arkham. She killed a guard in the process, and the two ended up taking the Mayor of Gotham hostage. The Mayor ended up dead, and when Harley next saw Batman, she tried to stab him in the heart with a shrimp knife.